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G.R. No.

166496

November 9, 2006

JOSEFA BAUTISTA FERRER, Petitioner,


vs.

under the law to do otherwise. The dismissal was affirmed by the


Court of Appeals. Subsequently, on 7 November 1994, this Court, in
G.R. No. L-117067, finding no reversible error committed by the
appellate court in affirming the dismissal of the RTC, affirmed the
Decision of the Court of Appeals.7

SPS. MANUEL M. FERRER & VIRGINIA FERRER and SPS.


ISMAEL M. FERRER and FLORA FERRER, Respondents.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Before this Court is an Appeal by Certiorari which assails the


Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated 16 August 2004 in CA-G.R.
SP No. 78525, reversing and setting aside the Order2 dated 16
December 2002 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Mandaluyong
City, Branch 212 in Civil Case No. MC02-1780. The Court of
Appeals ordered the dismissal of the Complaint3 filed by petitioner
Josefa Bautista Ferrer against respondents Sps. Manuel M. Ferrer
and Virginia Ferrer, and Sps. Ismael M. Ferrer and Flora Ferrer in
the aforesaid Civil Case No. MC02-1780.

In her Complaint for payment of conjugal improvements, sum of


money, and accounting with prayer for injunction and damages,
petitioner alleged that she is the widow of Alfredo Ferrer (Alfredo), a
half-brother of respondents Manuel M. Ferrer (Manuel) and Ismael
M. Ferrer (Ismael). Before her marriage to Alfredo, the latter
acquired a piece of lot, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT)
No. 67927.4 He applied for a loan with the Social Security System
(SSS) to build improvements thereon, including a residential house
and a two-door apartment building. However, it was during their
marriage that payment of the loan was made using the couples
conjugal funds. From their conjugal funds, petitioner posited, they
constructed a warehouse on the lot. Moreover, petitioner averred
that respondent Manuel occupied one door of the apartment
building, as well as the warehouse; however, in September 1991, he
stopped paying rentals thereon, alleging that he had acquired
ownership over the property by virtue of a Deed of Sale executed by
Alfredo in favor of respondents, Manuel and Ismael and their
spouses. TCT No. 67927 was cancelled, and TCT. No. 2728 was
issued and registered in the names of respondents.

It is petitioners contention that on 2 October 1989, when her


husband was already bedridden, respondents Ismael and Flora
Ferrer made him sign a document, purported to be his last will and
testament. The document, however, was a Deed of Sale covering
Alfredos lot and the improvements thereon. Learning of this
development, Alfredo filed with the RTC of Pasig, a Complaint for
Annulment of the said sale against respondents, docketed as Civil
Case No. 61327.5 On 22 June 1993, the RTC dismissed the same.6
The RTC found that the terms and conditions of the Deed of Sale
are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, and public policy,
and should be complied with by the parties in good faith, there being
no compelling reason

Further, in support of her Complaint, petitioner alluded to a portion


of the Decision dated 22 June 1993 of the RTC in Civil Case No.
61327, which stated, to wit:

In determining which property is the principal and which is the


accessory, the property of greater value shall be considered the
principal. In this case, the lot is the principal and the improvements
the accessories. Since Article 120 of the Family Code provides the
rule that the ownership of accessory follows the ownership of the
principal, then the subject lot with all its improvements became an
exclusive and capital property of Alfredo with an obligation to
reimburse the conjugal partnership of the cost of improvements at
the time of liquidation of [the] conjugal partnership. Clearly, Alfredo
has all the rights to sell the subject property by himself without need
of Josefas consent.8

According to petitioner, the ruling of the RTC shows that, when


Alfredo died on 29 September 1999, or at the time of the liquidation
of the conjugal partnership, she had the right to be reimbursed for
the cost of the improvements on Alfredos lot. She alleged that the
cost of the improvements amounted to P500,000.00; hence, onehalf thereof should be reimbursed and paid by respondents as they
are now the registered owners of Alfredos lot. She averred that
respondents cannot claim lack of knowledge about the fact that the
improvements were constructed using conjugal funds as they had
occupied one of the apartment buildings on Alfredos lot, and even
paid rentals to petitioner. In addition, petitioner prayed that
respondents be ordered to render an accounting from September,
1991, on the income of the boarding house constructed thereon
which they had appropriated for themselves, and to remit one-half
thereof as her share. Finally, petitioner sought from respondents
moral and exemplary damages, litigation and incidental expenses.

For their part, respondents filed a Motion to Dismiss,9 contending


that petitioner had no cause of action against them, and that the
cause of action was barred by prior judgment.

On 16 December 2002, the RTC rendered an Order,10 denying the


Motion to Dismiss. According to the RTC, no pronouncement as to
the improvements constructed on Alfredos lot has been made in
Civil Case No. 61327, and the payment of petitioners share in the
conjugal partnership constitutes a separate cause of action. A
subsequent Order11 dated 17 January 2003 was issued by the
RTC, denying respondents Motion for Reconsideration.

Aggrieved, respondents elevated the case to the Court of Appeals


by way of a Petition for Certiorari, alleging grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the RTC in denying
the dismissal.

On 16 August 2004, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision


granting the Petition. It held that petitioners Complaint failed to
state a cause of action. The appellate court rationalized as follows:

Both arguments raise the sole issue of whether the Court of Appeals
erred in dismissing petitioners Complaint for failure to state a cause
of action.

[W]e believe that the instant complaint is not the proper action for
the respondent to enforce her right of reimbursement of the cost of
the improvement[s] on the subject property. As correctly pointed out
by the petitioners, the same should be made and directed in the
settlement of estate of her deceased husband Alfredo Ferrer
pursuant to Article 12912 of the Family Code. Such being the case,
it appears that the complaint herein fails to state a cause of action
against the petitioners, the latter not being the proper parties
against whom the subject action for reimbursement must be
directed to. A complaint states a cause of action where it contains
three essential elements of a cause of action, namely: (1) the legal
right of the plaintiff; (2) the correlative obligation of the defendant,
and (3) the act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal
right. If these elements are absent, the complaint becomes
vulnerable to a motion to dismiss on the ground of failure to state a
cause of action. Albeit the respondent herein has the legal right to
be reimbursed of the cost of the improvements of the subject
property, it is not the petitioners but the estate of her deceased
husband which has the obligation to pay the same. The complaint
herein is therefore dismissible for failure to state a cause of action
against the petitioners. Needless to say, the respondent is not
without any further recourse as she may file her claim against the
estate of her deceased husband.

Section 1(g) Rule 1616 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure makes
it clear that failure to make a sufficient allegation of a cause of
action in the complaint warrants the dismissal thereof. Section 2,
Rule 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure defines a cause of
action as the act or omission by which a party violates the right of
another. It is the delict or the wrongful act or omission committed by
the defendant in violation of the primary right of the plaintiff.17

In light of the foregoing, we find that the public respondent


committed grave abuse of discretion in denying the petitioners
motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action.13

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration thereon.


However, on 17 December 2004, the Court of Appeals rendered a
Resolution14 denying the motion.

Hence, the present recourse.

Petitioner submits the following grounds for the allowance of the


instant Petition, to wit:

A. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING


THAT PETITIONERS COMPLAINT FAILS TO STATE A CAUSE OF
ACTION AGAINST THE RESPONDENTS, THE LATTER NOT
BEING THE PROPER PARTIES AGAINST WHOM THE SUBJECT
ACTION FOR REIMBURSEMENT MUST BE DIRECTED TO.

B. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING


THAT THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT, HON. RIZALINA T. CAPCOUMALI, COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN
DENYING THE [RESPONDENTS] MOTION TO DISMISS FOR
FAILURE TO STATE A CAUSE OF ACTION.15

A cause of action has the following essential elements, viz:

(1) A right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under


whatever law it arises or is created;

(2) An obligation on the part of the named defendant to respect or


not to violate such right; and

(3) Act or omission on the part of such defendant in violation of the


right of the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the
defendant to the plaintiff for which the latter may maintain an action
for recovery of damages or other appropriate relief.18

A complaint states a cause of action only when it has the three


indispensable elements.19

In the determination of the presence of these elements, inquiry is


confined to the four corners of the complaint. Only the statements in
the Complaint may be properly considered.20 The absence of any
of these elements makes a complaint vulnerable to a Motion to
Dismiss on the ground of a failure to state a cause of action.21

After a reading of the allegations contained in petitioners


Complaint, we are convinced that the same failed to state a cause
of action.

In the case at bar, petitioner asserts a legal right in her favor by


relying on the Decision of the RTC in Civil Case No. 61327. It can
be recalled that the aforesaid case is an action for Annulment filed
by Alfredo and petitioner against the respondents to seek annulment
of the Deed of Sale, executed by Alfredo in respondents favor and
covering the herein subject premises. The Complaint was dismissed
by the RTC, and subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeals and
by this Court in G.R. No. L-117067.

According to petitioner, while the RTC in Civil Case No. 61327


recognized that the improvements constructed on Alfredos lots
were deemed as Alfredos exclusive and capital property, the court
also held that petitioner, as Alfredos spouse, has the right to claim
reimbursement from the estate of Alfredo. It is argued by petitioner
that her husband had no other property, and his only property had
been sold to the respondents; hence, she has the legal right to
claim for reimbursement from the respondents who are now the
owners of the lot and the improvements thereon. In fine, petitioner
asseverates that the Complaint cannot be dismissed on the ground
of failure to state a cause of action because the respondents have
the correlative obligation to pay the value of the improvements.

Petitioner was not able to show that there is an obligation on the


part of the respondents to respect or not to violate her right. While
we could concede that Civil Case No. 61327 made a reference to
the right of the spouse as contemplated in Article 12022 of the
Family Code to be reimbursed for the cost of the improvements, the
obligation to reimburse rests on the spouse upon whom ownership
of the entire property is vested. There is no obligation on the part of
the purchaser of the property, in case the property is sold by the
owner-spouse.

Indeed, Article 120 provides the solution in determining the


ownership of the improvements that are made on the separate
property of the spouses at the expense of the partnership or through
the acts or efforts of either or both spouses. Thus, when the cost of
the improvement and any resulting increase in value are more than
the value of the property at the time of the improvement, the entire
property of one of the spouses shall belong to the conjugal
partnership, subject to reimbursement of the value of the property of
the owner-spouse at the time of the improvement; otherwise, said
property shall be retained in ownership by the owner-spouse,
likewise subject to reimbursement of the cost of the improvement.
The subject property was precisely declared as the exclusive
property of Alfredo on the basis of Article 120 of the Family Code.

What is incontrovertible is that the respondents, despite the


allegations contained in the Complaint that they are the buyers of
the subject premises, are not petitioners spouse nor can they ever
be deemed as the owner-spouse upon whom the obligation to
reimburse petitioner for her costs rested. It is the owner-spouse who
has the obligation to reimburse the conjugal partnership or the
spouse who expended the acts or efforts, as the case may be.
Otherwise stated, respondents do not have the obligation to respect
petitioners right to be reimbursed.

On this matter, we do not find an act or omission on the part of


respondents in violation of petitioners rights. The right of the
respondents to acquire as buyers the subject premises from Alfredo
under the assailed Deed of Sale in Civil Case No. 61327 had been
laid to rest. This is because the validity of the Deed of Sale had
already been determined and upheld with finality. The same had
been similarly admitted by petitioner in her Complaint. It can be
said, thus, that respondents act of acquiring the subject property by
sale was not in violation of petitioners rights. The same can also be
said of the respondents objection to reimburse petitioner. Simply, no
correlative obligation exists on the part of the respondents to

reimburse the petitioner. Corollary thereto, neither can it be said that


their refusal to reimburse constituted a violation of petitioners rights.
As has been shown in the foregoing, no obligation by the
respondents under the law exists. Petitioners Complaint failed to
state a cause of action against the respondents, and for this reason,
the Court of Appeals was not in error in dismissing the same.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision dated 16


August 2004 and the Resolution dated 17 December 2004 of the
Court of Appeals in CA G.R. SP. No. 78525 are AFFIRMED. Costs
de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 149615 August 29, 2006


IN RE: PETITION FOR SEPARATION OF PROPERTY ELENA
BUENAVENTURA MULLER, Petitioner,
vs.
HELMUT MULLER, Respondent.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari 1 assails the February 26, 2001
Decision 2 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 59321
affirming with modification the August 12, 1996 Decision 3 of the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 86 in Civil Case No. Q94-21862, which terminated the regime of absolute community of
property between petitioner and respondent, as well as the
Resolution 4 dated August 13, 2001 denying the motion for
reconsideration.

The facts are as follows:

Petitioner Elena Buenaventura Muller and respondent Helmut


Muller were married in Hamburg, Germany on September 22, 1989.
The couple resided in Germany at a house owned by respondents
parents but decided to move and reside permanently in the
Philippines in 1992. By this time, respondent had inherited the
house in Germany from his parents which he sold and used the
proceeds for the purchase of a parcel of land in Antipolo, Rizal at
the cost of P528,000.00 and the construction of a house amounting
to P2,300,000.00. The Antipolo property was registered in the name
of petitioner under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 219438 5 of the
Register of Deeds of Marikina, Metro Manila.

Due to incompatibilities and respondents alleged womanizing,


drinking, and maltreatment, the spouses eventually separated. On
September 26, 1994, respondent filed a petition 6 for separation of
properties before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.

On August 12, 1996, the trial court rendered a decision which


terminated the regime of absolute community of property between
the petitioner and respondent. It also decreed the separation of
properties between them and ordered the equal partition of personal
properties located within the country, excluding those acquired by
gratuitous title during the marriage. With regard to the Antipolo
property, the court held that it was acquired using paraphernal funds
of the respondent. However, it ruled that respondent cannot recover
his funds because the property was purchased in violation of
Section 7, Article XII of the Constitution. Thus

shall be excluded from the community property. The real property,


therefore, inherited by petitioner in Germany is excluded from the
absolute community of property of the herein spouses. Necessarily,
the proceeds of the sale of said real property as well as the personal
properties purchased thereby, belong exclusively to the petitioner.
However, the part of that inheritance used by the petitioner for
acquiring the house and lot in this country cannot be recovered by
the petitioner, its acquisition being a violation of Section 7, Article XII
of the Constitution which provides that "save in cases of hereditary
succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed
except to individuals, corporations or associations qualified to
acquire or hold lands of the public domain." The law will leave the
parties in the situation where they are in without prejudice to a
voluntary partition by the parties of the said real property. x x x

xxxx

As regards the property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.


219438 of the Registry of Deeds of Marikina, Metro Manila, situated
in Antipolo, Rizal and the improvements thereon, the Court shall not
make any pronouncement on constitutional grounds. 7

Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which rendered the


assailed decision modifying the trial courts Decision. It held that
respondent merely prayed for reimbursement for the purchase of
the Antipolo property, and not acquisition or transfer of ownership to
him. It also considered petitioners ownership over the property in
trust for the respondent. As regards the house, the Court of Appeals
ruled that there is nothing in the Constitution which prohibits
respondent from acquiring the same. The dispositive portion of the
assailed decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the lower


court dated August 12, 1996 is hereby MODIFIED. Respondent
Elena Buenaventura Muller is hereby ordered to REIMBURSE the
petitioner the amount of P528,000.00 for the acquisition of the land
and the amount of P2,300,000.00 for the construction of the house
situated in Atnipolo, Rizal, deducting therefrom the amount
respondent spent for the preservation, maintenance and
development of the aforesaid real property including the
depreciation cost of the house or in the alternative to SELL the
house and lot in the event respondent does not have the means to
reimburse the petitioner out of her own money and from the
proceeds thereof, reimburse the petitioner of the cost of the land
and the house deducting the expenses for its maintenance and
preservation spent by the respondent. Should there be profit, the
same shall be divided in proportion to the equity each has over the
property. The case is REMANDED to the lower court for reception of
evidence as to the amount claimed by the respondents for the
preservation and maintenance of the property.

SO ORDERED. 8

Hence, the instant petition for review raising the following issues:
However, pursuant to Article 92 of the Family Code, properties
acquired by gratuitous title by either spouse during the marriage

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN


HOLDING THAT THE RESPONDENT HEREIN IS ENTITLED TO
REIMBURSEMENT OF THE AMOUNT USED TO PURCHASE THE
LAND AS WELL AS THE COSTS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF
THE HOUSE, FOR IN SO RULING, IT INDIRECTLY ALLOWED AN
ACT DONE WHICH OTHERWISE COULD NOT BE DIRECTLY x x
x
DONE,
WITHOUT
DOING
VIOLENCE
TO
THE
CONSTITUTIONAL PROSCRIPTION THAT AN ALIEN IS
PROHIBITED FROM ACQUIRING OWNERSHIP OF REAL
PROPERTIES LOCATED IN THE PHILIPPINES.

II

THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN SUSTAINING


RESPONDENTS CAUSE OF ACTION WHICH IS ACTUALLY A
DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO OBTAIN OWNERSHIP OVER THE
LOT IN QUESTION, CLOTHED UNDER THE GUISE OF
CLAIMING REIMBURSEMENT.

Petitioner contends that respondent, being an alien, is disqualified


to own private lands in the Philippines; that respondent was aware
of the constitutional prohibition but circumvented the same; and that
respondents purpose for filing an action for separation of property is
to obtain exclusive possession, control and disposition of the
Antipolo property.

Respondent claims that he is not praying for transfer of ownership of


the Antipolo property but merely reimbursement; that the funds paid
by him for the said property were in consideration of his marriage to
petitioner; that the funds were given to petitioner in trust; and that
equity demands that respondent should be reimbursed of his
personal funds.

The issue for resolution is whether respondent is entitled to


reimbursement of the funds used for the acquisition of the Antipolo
property.

The petition has merit.

Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution states:

Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be


transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or
associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.

Aliens, whether individuals or corporations, are disqualified from


acquiring lands of the public domain. Hence, they are also
disqualified from acquiring private lands. 9 The primary purpose of

the constitutional provision is the conservation of the national


patrimony. In the case of Krivenko v. Register of Deeds, 10 the
Court held:

Under section 1 of Article XIII of the Constitution, "natural resources,


with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated,"
and with respect to public agricultural lands, their alienation is
limited to Filipino citizens. But this constitutional purpose conserving
agricultural resources in the hands of Filipino citizens may easily be
defeated by the Filipino citizens themselves who may alienate their
agricultural lands in favor of aliens. It is partly to prevent this result
that section 5 is included in Article XIII, and it reads as follows:

"Sec. 5. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private


agricultural land will be transferred or assigned except to individuals,
corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the
public domain in the Philippines."

This constitutional provision closes the only remaining avenue


through which agricultural resources may leak into aliens hands. It
would certainly be futile to prohibit the alienation of public
agricultural lands to aliens if, after all, they may be freely so
alienated upon their becoming private agricultural lands in the
hands of Filipino citizens. x x x

xxxx

If the term "private agricultural lands" is to be construed as not


including residential lots or lands not strictly agricultural, the result
would be that "aliens may freely acquire and possess not only
residential lots and houses for themselves but entire subdivisions,
and whole towns and cities," and that "they may validly buy and hold
in their names lands of any area for building homes, factories,
industrial plants, fisheries, hatcheries, schools, health and vacation
resorts, markets, golf courses, playgrounds, airfields, and a host of
other uses and purposes that are not, in appellants words, strictly
agricultural." (Solicitor Generals Brief, p. 6.) That this is obnoxious
to the conservative spirit of the Constitution is beyond question.

Respondent was aware of the constitutional prohibition and


expressly admitted his knowledge thereof to this Court. 11 He
declared that he had the Antipolo property titled in the name of
petitioner because of the said prohibition. 12 His attempt at
subsequently asserting or claiming a right on the said property
cannot be sustained.

The Court of Appeals erred in holding that an implied trust was


created and resulted by operation of law in view of petitioners
marriage to respondent. Save for the exception provided in cases of
hereditary succession, respondents disqualification from owning
lands in the Philippines is absolute. Not even an ownership in trust
is allowed. Besides, where the purchase is made in violation of an
existing statute and in evasion of its express provision, no trust can

result in favor of the party who is guilty of the fraud. 13 To hold


otherwise would allow circumvention of the constitutional prohibition.

conjugal funds is not now inquired into; that would be, in the
premises, a purely academic exercise. (Emphasis added)

Invoking the principle that a court is not only a court of law but also
a court of equity, is likewise misplaced. It has been held that equity
as a rule will follow the law and will not permit that to be done
indirectly which, because of public policy, cannot be done directly.
14 He who seeks equity must do equity, and he who comes into
equity must come with clean hands. The latter is a frequently stated
maxim which is also expressed in the principle that he who has
done inequity shall not have equity. It signifies that a litigant may be
denied relief by a court of equity on the ground that his conduct has
been inequitable, unfair and dishonest, or fraudulent, or deceitful as
to the controversy in issue. 15

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is


GRANTED. The Decision dated February 26, 2001 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 59321 ordering petitioner Elena
Buenaventura Muller to reimburse respondent Helmut Muller the
amount of P528,000 for the acquisition of the land and the amount
of P2,300,000 for the construction of the house in Antipolo City, and
the Resolution dated August 13, 2001 denying reconsideration
thereof, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The August 12, 1996
Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 86 in
Civil Case No. Q-94-21862 terminating the regime of absolute
community between the petitioner and respondent, decreeing a
separation of property between them and ordering the partition of
the personal properties located in the Philippines equally, is
REINSTATED.

Thus, in the instant case, respondent cannot seek reimbursement


on the ground of equity where it is clear that he willingly and
knowingly bought the property despite the constitutional prohibition.

SO ORDERED.
Further, the distinction made between transfer of ownership as
opposed to recovery of funds is a futile exercise on respondents
part. To allow reimbursement would in effect permit respondent to
enjoy the fruits of a property which he is not allowed to own. Thus, it
is likewise proscribed by law. As expressly held in Cheesman v.
Intermediate Appellate Court: 16

Finally, the fundamental law prohibits the sale to aliens of residential


land. Section 14, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution ordains that,
"Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private land shall be
transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or
associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain."
Petitioner Thomas Cheesman was, of course, charged with
knowledge of this prohibition. Thus, assuming that it was his
intention that the lot in question be purchased by him and his wife,
he acquired no right whatever over the property by virtue of that
purchase; and in attempting to acquire a right or interest in land,
vicariously and clandestinely, he knowingly violated the Constitution;
the sale as to him was null and void. In any event, he had and has
no capacity or personality to question the subsequent sale of the
same property by his wife on the theory that in so doing he is merely
exercising the prerogative of a husband in respect of conjugal
property. To sustain such a theory would permit indirect
controversion of the constitutional prohibition. If the property were to
be declared conjugal, this would accord to the alien husband a not
insubstantial interest and right over land, as he would then have a
decisive vote as to its transfer or disposition. This is a right that the
Constitution does not permit him to have.

As already observed, the finding that his wife had used her own
money to purchase the property cannot, and will not, at this stage of
the proceedings be reviewed and overturned. But even if it were a
fact that said wife had used conjugal funds to make the acquisition,
the considerations just set out to militate, on high constitutional
grounds, against his recovering and holding the property so
acquired, or any part thereof. And whether in such an event, he may
recover from his wife any share of the money used for the purchase
or charge her with unauthorized disposition or expenditure of

V I R G I L I O M A Q U I L A N, G . R . N O . 1 5 5 4 0 9
P e t i t i o n e r,
P re s e n t :
Y N A R E S -S A N T IA G O , J . ,
Chairperson,
- ve r s u s - A U S T R IA - M A RTIN E Z ,
C H IC O - N A Z A R IO , a n d
NACHURA, JJ.
D I TA M AQ U I L A N , P ro m u l g a t e d :
R e s p o n d e n t . J u n e 8, 2 0 0 7
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
D E C I S I O N

t h e R e gi o n a l Tri a l C o u r t, B r a n c h 3
o f N a b u n t u r a n , C o mp o s t e l a Val l e y,
d o c ke t e d a s C i vi l C a s e N o . 6 5 6 , i mp u t i n g
p s yc h o l o gi c a l i n ca p a c i t y o n t h e p a r t o f t h e
p e t i t i o n e r.
During the pre-trial of the said case,
p e t i t i o n e r a n d p r i va t e r e s p o n d e n t e n t e r e d
i n t o a C O MP R O M IS E AG R E E M E N T i n t h e
fo l l o wi n g t e r ms , t o wi t :
1. In p a r t i a l s e t t le me n t o f t he c o n j u ga l
p a r t n e r s h i p o f ga i n s , t h e p a r t i e s
a gr e e t o t he fo l l o wi n g :
a.

A U S T R I A - M A RTI N E Z, J . :

B e fo r e

the

Court

is

Petition

for

R e vi e w

on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing


the Decision

[1]

Th e b a la n c e o f s u c h d e p o s i t ,
wh i c h
presently
stands
a t P 1 , 3 1 8, 0 4 3 . 3 6,
shall
be
wi t h d r a wn
and
d i vi d e d
equally by the parties;

d a t e d Au gu s t 3 0, 2 0 0 2 p r o m u l g a t e d b y t h e

C o u r t o f Ap p e a l s ( C A ) i n C A - G. R . S P N o. 6 9 6 8 9, wh i c h
a ffi r me d t h e J u d g m e n t o n C o m p r o m i s e Ag r e e m e n t da t e d
J a n u a r y 2 , 2 0 0 2 o f t h e R e gi o n a l Tri a l C o u r t ( RTC ) , B r a n c h
3 , N a b u n t u r a n , C o m p o s t e l a Val l e y,

and

the

RTC

Orders

dated January 21, 2002 and Februar y 7, 2002 (ORDERS)


i n C i vi l C a s e N o. 6 5 6.

T h e fa c t s o f t h e c a s e , a s f o u n d b y t h e C A, a r e a s
f o l l o ws :
H e r e i n p e t i t i o ne r a n d h e r e i n p r i va t e
r e s p o n d e n t a re s p o u s e s wh o o n c e h a d a
b l i s s fu l m a r r i e d l i fe a n d o u t o f wh i c h we r e
b l e s s e d t o h a ve a s o n. H o we v e r, t he i r o n c e
s u ga r c o a t e d r o m a n c e t u r n e d b i t t e r wh e n
petitioner
d i s c o ve r e d
that
p r i va t e
r e s p o n d e n t wa s h a vi n g i l l i c i t s e xu a l a ffa i r
wi t h h e r p a r a m o u r, wh i c h t h u s, p r o m p t e d
the petitioner to file a case of adultery
a ga i n s t p r i va t e r e s p o n d e n t a n d t h e l a t t e r s
p a r a m o u r. C o n s e q u e n t l y, b o t h t h e p r i va t e
respondent
and
her
paramour
we r e
c o n vi c t e d o f t h e c r i m e c h a rge d a n d we r e
s e n t e n c e d t o s u ffe r a n i m p r i s o n m e n t
r a n gi n g fr o m o n e ( 1 ) ye a r, e i gh t ( 8 )
months,
minimum
of prision correccional as
minimum
p e n a l t y, t o t h r e e ( 3 ) ye a r s , s i x ( 6 ) m o n t h s
a n d t we n t y o n e ( 2 1 ) d a ys , m e d i u m
o fp r i s i o n c o r r e c c i o n a l a s m a x i m u m p e n a l t y.
T h e r e a f t e r, p r i va t e r e s p o n de n t , t h r o u gh
c o u n s e l , f i l e d a P e t i t i o n fo r D e c l a r a t i o n o f
N u l l i t y o f M a r r i a ge , D i s s o l u t i o n a n d
L i q u i d a t i o n o f C o n j u ga l P a r t n e r s h i p o f
G a i n s a n d D a m a ge s o n J u n e 1 5, 2 0 0 1 wi t h

P 5 0 0, 0 0 0 . 0 0 o f t h e m o n e y
d e p o s i t e d i n t h e ba n k j o i n t l y
i n t h e n a me o f t h e s p o u s e s
shall
be
wi t h d r a wn
and
d e p o s i t e d i n fa vo r a n d i n t r u s t
of
their
c o m mo n
child,
Neil Maquilan,
wi t h
the
d e p o s i t i n t h e j o i n t a cc o u n t o f
the parties.

b.

The store that is now being


o c c u p i e d b y t h e p la i n t i ff s h a l l
b e a l l o t t e d t o he r wh i l e t h e
b o d e ga s h a l l be fo r t he
d e fe n d a n t . Th e
d e fe n d a n t
shall
be
paid
t he
sum
o f P 50 , 0 0 0. 0 0 a s h i s s h a r e i n
t h e s t o c ks o f t h e s t o r e i n fu l l
s e t t l e me n t t h e r e o f.

Th e p l a i n t i ff s h a l l b e a l l o we d t o
o c c u p y t h e b o d e ga u n t i l t h e
t i me t h e o wn e r o f t h e l o t o n
wh i c h i t s t a n d s s h a l l co n s t r u c t
a building thereon;
c. Th e
mo t o r c yc l e s
s ha l l
be
d i vi d e d b e t we e n t h e m s u c h
that
t h e K a wa s a ki s h a l l
be
o wn e d b y t h e p l a i n t i ff wh i l e
t h e H o n d a D r ea m s ha l l b e f o r
t h e d e fe n d a n t ;
d. Th e p a s se n ge r j e e p s h a l l b e f o r
t h e p l a i n t i ff wh o s h a l l p a y t he
d e fe n d a n t
the
sum
o f P 75 , 0 0 0. 0 0 a s
his
share
t h e r e o n a n d i n fu l l s e t t le me n t
t h e r e o f;
e. Th e h o u s e an d l o t s h a l l b e t o
t h e c o mm o n c h i l d.
2. Th i s s e t t l e me n t i s o n l y p a r t ia l ,
i. e . , wi t h o u t p r e j u d i c e t o t h e
l i t i ga t i o n o f o t h e r c o n j u ga l
p r o p e r t i e s t h a t ha ve n o t b e e n
me n t i o n e d ;

d e p r i ve s t h e pe r s o n o f t he r i gh t s t o ma n a ge h e r p r o p e r t y

x x x x

a n d t o d i s p o s e o f s u c h p r o p e r t y i n t e r v i v o s ; t h a t Ar t i c l e s

T h e s a i d C o m p r o m i s e Agr e e m e n t wa s g i v e n
j u d i c i a l i m p r i m a t u r b y t h e r e s p o n d e n t j u d ge
i n t h e a s s a i l e d J u d g me n t O n C o mp r om i s e
A g r e e me n t ,
wh i c h
wa s
e r r o ne o u s l y
dated January 2, 2002.[2]

4 3 a n d 6 3 o f t h e F a mi l y C o d e, wh i c h p e r t a i n t o t h e e ffe c t s
o f a n u l l i fi e d ma r r i a ge a n d t he e ffe c t s o f l e ga l s e pa r a t i o n ,
r e s p e c t i ve l y, d o n o t

a p p l y, c o n s i d e r i n g,

t o o,

that the

H o we v e r, p e t i t i o n e r fi l e d a n O m n i b u s
M o t i o n d a t e d J a n u a r y 1 5, 2 0 0 2 , p r a yi n g fo r
the
repudiation
of
the
Compromise
A gr e e m e n t a n d t h e r e c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f t h e
J u d gm e n t o n C o m p r o m i s e Agr e e m e n t b y t h e
r e s p o n d e n t j u d ge o n t h e g r o u n d s t h a t h i s
p r e vi o u s l a w ye r d i d n o t i n t e l l i ge n t l y a n d
judiciously
apprise
him
of
the
c o n s e q u e n t i a l e ffe c t s o f t h e C o m p r o m i s e
A gr e e m e n t .

P e t i t i o n f o r t h e D e c l a r a t i o n o f t h e N u l l i t y o f M a r r ia ge

T h e r e s p o n d e n t J u d ge i n t h e a s s a i l e d O r d e r
dated January 21, 2002, denied the
a fo r e m e n t i o n e d O m n i b u s M o t i o n .

p e t i t i o n t o t h a t e ffe c t wa s f i l e d b y t h e p e t i t i o n e r a ga i n s t

fi l e d b y t h e r e s p o n d e n t i n vo ki n g Ar t i c l e 3 6 o f t he F a mi l y
C o d e h a s ye t t o b e d e c i d e d, a n d, h e n ce , i t i s p r e ma t u r e t o
a p p l y Ar t i c l e s 4 3 a n d 6 3 o f t h e F a mi l y C o d e ; t h a t , a l t h o u gh
a d u l t e r y i s a g r o u n d fo r l e ga l se p a r a t i o n , n o n e t h e l e s s ,
A r t i c l e 6 3 fi n d s n o a p p l i ca t i o n i n t h e i n s t a n t c a s e s i n c e n o

t h e r e s p o n d e n t ; t ha t t h e s p o u s e s vo l u n t a r i l y s e p a r a t e d t h e i r
p r o p e r t y t h r o u gh t h e i r C o mp r o m i s e Agr e e me n t wi t h c o u r t

D i s p l e a s e d , pe t i t i o n e r f i l e d a M o t i o n f o r
R e c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f t h e a fo r e s a i d O r d e r, b u t
t h e s a m e wa s de n i e d i n t h e a s s a i l e d O r d e r
dated February
7,
2002.[3] (Emphasis
supplied)

a p p r o va l u n d e r Ar t i c l e 1 3 4 o f t h e F a mi l y C o d e ; t h a t t h e
C o mp r o mi s e Agr e e me n t , wh i c h e mb o d i e s t h e vo l u n t a r y
s e p a r a t i o n o f p r o p e r t y, i s v a l i d a n d b i n d i n g i n a l l r e s p e c t s
b e c a u se i t h a d b e e n v o l u n t a r i l y e n t e r e d i n t o b y t h e p a r t i e s ;

The

p e t i t i o ne r

for Certiorari and

t h a t, f u r t h e r m o r e , e ve n i f i t we r e t r u e t h a t t h e p e t i t i o n e r

P ro h i b i t i o n wi t h t h e C A u n d e r R u l e 6 5 o f t h e R u l e s o f

wa s n o t d u l y i n fo r m e d b y h i s p r e vi o u s c o u n s e l a b o u t t h e

C o u r t c l a i m i n g t h a t t h e RTC c o m m i t t e d g r a v e e r r o r a n d

l e ga l e ffe c t s o f t h e C o mp r o m i s e Ag r e e m e n t , t h i s p o i n t i s

abuse

of

u n t e n a b l e s i n c e t h e mi s t a ke o r n e gl i ge n c e o f t h e l a w ye r

the

b i n d s h i s c l i e n t, u n l e s s s u c h m i s t a ke o r n e gl i g e n c e a mo u n t s

C o mp r o m i s e Ag r e e m e n t d a t e d J a n u a r y 11, 2 0 0 2 ; ( 2 ) wh e n

t o gr o s s n e gl i ge n c e o r d e p r i va t i o n o f d u e p r o c e s s o n t h e

i t h e l d i n i t s O r d e r d a t e d F e b r u a r y 7, 2 0 0 2 t h a t t h e

p a r t o f h i s c l i e n t ; t h a t t h e s e e xc e p t i o n s a re n o t p r e s e n t i n

C o mp r o m i s e Agr e e m e n t wa s m a d e wi t h i n t he c o o l i n g - o ff

t h e i n s t a n t ca s e ; t h a t t h e C o mp r o m i s e Ag r e e m e n t wa s

p e r i o d ; ( 3 ) wh e n i t d e n i e d p e t i t i o n e r s M o t i o n t o R e p u d i a t e

p l a i n l y wo r d e d a n d wr i t t e n i n s i mp l e la n gu a g e , wh i c h a

C o mp r o m i s e Ag r e e m e n t a n d t o R e c o n s i d e r It s J u d g me n t o n

person

C o mp r o m i s e Ag r e e m e n t ; a n d ( 4 ) wh e n i t c o n d u c t e d t h e

c o n s e q u e nc e s t h e r e o f, h e n c e, pe t i t i o n e r s c l a i m t h a t h i s

p r o c e e d i n gs wi t h o u t t h e a p p e a r a n c e a n d p a r t i c i p a t i o n o f

consent

t h e O ffi c e o f t h e S o l i c i t o r G e n e r a l a n d / o r t h e P ro vi n c i a l

C o mp r o mi s e Agr e e me n t wa s ma d e d u r i n g t he e xi s t e n c e o f

P ro s e c u t o r. [ 4 ]

t h e ma r r i a ge o f t h e pa r t i e s s i n c e i t wa s s u b mi t t e d d u r i n g

of

fi l e d

discretion

jurisdiction

(1)

in

Petition

amounting
upholding

to

lack

the

or

e xc e s s

validity

of

of

wa s

ordinary

i n t e l l i ge n c e

vi t i a t e d

is

h i gh l y

can

discern

incredible;

that

the

the

t h e p e n d e nc y o f t h e p e t i t i o n fo r d e c l a r a t i o n o f n u l l i t y o f
O n A u gu s t 3 0 , 2 0 0 2 , t h e C A d i s m i s s e d t h e P e t i t i o n fo r l a c k

ma r r i a ge ; t h a t t he a p p l i c a t i o n o f Ar t i c l e 2 0 3 5 o f t h e C i vi l

o f me r i t . T h e C A h e l d t h a t t h e c o n vi c t i o n o f t h e r e s p o n d e n t

C o d e i s mi s p l a c e d ;

of the crime of adulter y does not ipso facto disqualify her

A r t i c l e 5 8 o f t h e F a mi l y C o d e h a s n o b ea r i n g o n t h e

from

va l i d i t y

sharing

in

the

c o n j u ga l

p r o p e r t y,

especially

of

the

t ha t t h e c o o l i n g- o ff p e r i o d u n d e r

C o mp r o m i s e

Agr e e me n t ;

that

the

c o n s i d e r i n g t h a t s h e h a d o n l y b e e n s e n t e n c e d wi t h t h e

C o mp r o mi s e Agr e e me n t i s n o t c o n t r a r y t o l a w, m o r a l s ,

p e n a l t y o f p r i s i o n c o r rec c i o n a l , a p e n a l t y t h a t d oe s n o t

go o d c u s t o ms , p u b l i c o r d e r, a n d p u b l i c p o l i c y; t h a t t h i s

c a r r y t h e a c c e s s o r y p e n a l t y o f c i vi l i n t e r d i c t i o n wh i c h

a gr e e me n t m a y n o t b e la t e r d i s o wn e d s i mp l y b e c a u s e o f a

c h a n ge o f m i n d ; t h a t t h e p r e s e n c e o f t h e S o l i c i t o r G e n e ra l

p o l i c y; t h a t t h e p r o ce e d i n gs wh e r e i t wa s a p p r o ve d

o r h i s d e p u t y i s n o t i n d i s p e n s a b l e t o t h e e xe c u t i o n a n d

i s n u l l a n d vo i d , t h e r e b e i n g n o a p p e a r a n ce a n d

v a l i d i t y o f t h e C o m p r o m i s e Ag r e e m e n t , s i n c e t he p u r p o s e

participation

o f h i s p r e s e n c e i s t o c u r t a i l a n y c o l l u s i o n b e t we e n t he

P r o vi n c i a l

p a r t i e s a n d t o se e t o i t t h a t e vi d e n c e i s n o t f a b r i c a t e d , a n d ,

r e p u d i a t e d ; a n d t h a t t h e r e s p o n d e n t , h a vi n g be e n

wi t h t h i s i n m i n d , n o t h i n g i n t h e C o m p r o m i s e Agr e e me n t

c o n vi c t e d o f a d u l te r y, i s t h e r e fo r e d i s q u a l i f i e d

t o u c h e s o n t h e ve r y m e r i t s o f t h e c a s e o f d e c l a r a t i o n o f

fr o m s h a r i n g i n t h e c o n j u ga l p r o p e r t y.

n u l l i t y o f m a r r i a g e f o r t h e c o u r t t o b e wa r y o f a n y p o s s i b l e

Th e P et i t i o n mu s t f a i l .

c o l l u s i o n ; a n d , fi n a l l y, t h a t t h e C o m p r o m i s e Ag r e e m e n t i s

Th e e s se n t i a l q u e s t i o n i s wh e t h e r t h e p a r t i a l vo l u n t a r y

m e r e l y a n a gr e e m e n t b e t we e n t h e p a r t i e s t o s e p a r a t e t h e i r

s e p a r a t i o n o f p r o p e r t y ma d e b y t h e s p o u se s p e n d i n g t h e

c o n j u ga l

p e t i t i o n f o r d e c l a ra t i o n o f n u l l i t y o f ma r r i a ge i s va l i d .

properties

partially

wi t h o u t

prejudice

to

the

of

the

Solicitor

P ro s e c u t o r ;

that

Ge n e r a l
it

or

wa s

the

t i me l y

o u t c o me o f t h e p e n d i n g c a s e o f d e c l a r a t i o n o f n u l l i t y o f
marriage.

F i r s t. Th e

petitioner

contends

that

the

C o mp r o mi s e

H e n c e , h e r e i n P e t i t i o n , p u r e l y o n q u e s t i o n s o f l a w, r a i s i n g

A gr e e me n t i s vo i d b ec a u s e i t c i r c u mv e n t s t h e l a w t h a t

t h e fo l l o wi n g i s s u e s :

p r o h i b i t s t h e gu i l t y s p o u s e , wh o wa s c o n vi c t e d o f e i t h e r
a d u l t e r y o r c o n c u b i n a ge, f r o m s h a r i n g i n t he c o n j u ga l

I.
WHETHER
OF
NOT
A
SP O U S E
C O N V IC T E D O F E IT H E R C O N C U B IN A G E
O R AD U LTE RY, C A N S T IL L S H A R E IN
T H E C O N J U G A L PARTN E R S H IP ;

p r o p e r t y. S i n c e t h e r e s p o n de n t wa s c o n vi c t e d o f a d u l t e r y,
t h e p e t i t i o n e r a rgu e s t h a t h e r s h a r e s h o u l d b e f o r f e i t e d i n
fa vo r o f t h e c o mm o n c h i l d u n d e r Ar t i c l e s 4 3 ( 2 ) [ 6 ] a n d
6 3 [ 7 ] o f t h e F a mi l y C o d e.

II
W H E T H E R O R N O T A C O M P R O M IS E
AGREEMENT
ENTERED
IN T O
BY
SPOUSES,
ONE
OF
WHOM
WAS
C O N V IC T E D O F AD U LTE RY, G IV IN G
T H E C O N V IC T E D S P O U S E A S H A R E IN
T H E C O N J U G A L P R OP E RTY, VAL ID AN D
LEGAL;

To t h e p e t i t i o n e r, i t i s t h e c l e a r i n t e n t i o n o f t h e la w t o
d i s q u a l i f y t h e s p o u s e c o n vi c t e d o f a d u l t e r y f r o m s h a r i n g i n
the

c o n j u ga l

p r o p e r t y;

and

be c a u s e

the

C o mp r o m i s e

A gr e e me n t i s vo i d , i t n e ve r b e c a me fi n a l a n d e xe c u t o r y.

III

M o r e o ve r, t h e p e t i t i o n e r c i t e s Ar t i c l e 2 0 3 5 [ 8 ] o f t h e C i vi l

WHETHER OR NOT A JUDGMENT FOR


A N N U L M E N T AN D L E G A L S E PAR ATIO N
IS A P R E -R E Q U IS IT E B E F O R E A S P O U S E
C O N V IC T E D O F E IT H E R C O N C U B IN A G E
O R AD U LTE RY, B E D IS Q U A L IF IE D AN D
P R O H IB IT E D F R O M S H A R IN G IN TH E
C O N J U G A L P R OP E RTY;

C o d e a n d a rgu e s t h a t s i n c e ad u l t e r y i s a g r o u n d f o r l e ga l
s e p a r a t i o n, t he C o m p r o m i s e Agr e e me n t i s t h e r e fo r e vo i d .

Th e s e a rgu me n t s a r e s p ec i o u s . T h e f o r e g o i n g p r o vi s i o n s o f
t h e l a w a re i n a p p l i c a b l e t o t h e i n s t a n t c a s e .

IV
WHETHER
OR
NOT
THE
D IS Q U A L IF IC ATIO N O F A C O N V IC T E D
S P O U S E O F AD U LTE RY F R O M S H A R IN G
IN
A
CONJUGAL
P R O P E RTY,
C O N S T IT U T E S C IV I L IN T E R D IC T IO N . [ 5 ]

The

petitioner

a rgu e s

that

the

Compromise

A r t i c l e 4 3 o f t h e F a mi l y C o d e r e fe r s t o Ar t i c l e 4 2, t o wi t :
Article
42. The
s u b s e q ue n t
ma r r i a ge
r e fe r r e d t o i n t h e p re c e d i n g Ar t i c l e [ 9 ] s h a l l
be
a u t o ma t i c a l l y
te r mi n a t e d
by
the
r e c o r d i n g o f t h e a ffi d a vi t o f r e a p p e a r a n ce
o f t h e a b s e n t s p o u s e, u n l e s s t h e r e i s a
j u d g me n t a n n u l l i n g t h e p r e vi o u s ma r r i a ge
or declaring it void ab initio.

A gr e e m e n t s h o u l d n o t h a ve b e e n g i v e n j u d i c i a l
i mp r i m a t u r s i n c e i t i s a ga i n s t l a w a n d p u b l i c

A s wo r n s t a t e me n t o f t h e fa c t an d
c i r c u ms t a n c e s o f re a p p e a r a n c e s h a l l b e
r e c o r d e d i n t he c i vi l r e gi s t r y o f t h e

residence of the parties to the subsequent


marriage at the instance of any interested
p e r s o n , wi t h d u e n o t i c e t o t h e s p o u s e s o f
t h e s u b s e q u e n t m a r r i a ge a n d wi t h o u t
p r e j u d i c e t o t h e fa c t o f re a p p e a r a n c e b e i n g
judiciall y determined in case such fact is
disputed.

vo i d . Th e

p r o c e e d i n gs

pertaining

to

the

C o mp r o mi s e

A gr e e me n t i n vo l ve d t he c o n j u ga l p r o p e r t i e s o f t h e s p o u s e s .
Th e s e t t l e me n t h a d n o r e l a t i o n t o t h e q u e s t i o n s s u r r o u n d i n g
t h e v a l i d i t y o f t h e i r ma r r i a ge . N o r d i d t h e s e t t l e me n t
a mo u n t t o a c o l l u s i o n b e t we e n t h e p a r t i e s .

wh e r e a s u b s e q u e n t m a r r i a ge i s t e r m i n a t e d b e c a u s e o f t h e
r e a p p e a r a n c e o f a n a b s e n t s p o u se ; wh i l e Ar t i c l e 6 3 a p p l i e s

A r t i c l e 4 8 o f t h e F a mi l y C o d e s t a t e s :

t o t h e e ffe c t s o f a d e c r e e o f l e ga l s e p a r a t i o n. T h e p r e s e n t

A r t. 4 8. In a l l c a se s o f an n u l me n t o r
d e c l a ra t i o n o f ab s o l u t e n u l l i t y o f ma r r i a ge ,
t h e C o u r t s h a l l o r d e r t he p r o s e c u t i n g
a t t o r n e y o r fi s c a l a s s i gn e d t o i t t o a p p e a r
o n b e h a l f o f t h e S t a t e t o t a ke s t e p s t o
p rev e n t co l l u s i o n b e t w e e n t h e p a r t i e s a n d
t o t a ke c a re t h a t t h e e v i d e n c e i s n o t
fabricated
or
s u p p res s e d . ( E mp h a s i s
supplied)
S e c t i o n 3 ( e ) o f R u l e 9 o f t h e 1 9 9 7 R u l e s o f C o u r t p r o vi d e s :

case

i n vo l ve s

proceeding

wh e r e

the

nullity of

t he

m a r r i a g e i s s o u gh t t o b e d e c l a r e d u n d e r t h e gr o u n d o f
p s yc h o l o g i c a l c a p a c i t y.

Article

2035

of

the

C i vi l

Code

is

also

clearly

i n a p p l i c a b l e . T h e C o m p r o m i s e Agr e e m e n t p a r t i a l l y d i vi d e d
t h e p r o p e r t i e s o f t h e c o n j u ga l p a r t n e r s h i p o f ga i n s b e t we e n
t h e p a r t i e s a n d d o e s n o t d e a l wi t h t h e va l i d i t y o f a

S E C. 3. D e f a u l t ; d e c l a r a t i o n o f. - x x x x
x x x x

m a r r i a g e o r l e ga l s e p a r a t i o n . It i s n o t a m o n g t h o s e t h a t a r e

( e ) W h e re n o d e f a u l t s a l l o w e d. If
t h e d e fe n d i n g p a r t y i n ac t i o n fo r an n u l me n t
o r d e c l a ra t i o n o f n u l l i t y o f ma r r i a ge o r fo r
l e ga l s e pa r a t i o n f a i l s t o a n s we r, t h e c o u r t
s h a l l o r d e r t h e p ros e c u t i n g a t t o r n e y t o
investigate whether or not a collusion
b e tw e e n t h e p a r t i e s e xi s t s i f t h e re i s n o
c o l l u s i o n, t o i n t e r v e n e f o r t h e S t a t e i n
order to see to it that the evidence
s u b mi t t e d i s n o t f a b r i c a t e d. ( E mp h a s i s
supplied

e xp r e s s l y p r o h i b i t e d b y Ar t i c l e 2 0 3 5 .
M o r e o ve r, t h e c o n t e n t i o n t h a t t h e C o m p r o m i s e Agr e e me n t
i s t a n t a m o u n t t o a c i r c u m ve n t i o n o f t h e l a w p r o h i b i t i n g t h e
g u i l t y s p o u s e f r o m s h a r i n g i n t h e c o n j u ga l p r o p e r t i e s i s
m i s p l a c e d . E xi s t i n g l a w a n d j u r i s p r u d e n c e d o n o t i m p o s e
s u c h d i s q u a l i fi c a t i o n .
U n d e r Ar t i c l e 1 4 3 o f t h e F a m i l y C o d e , s e pa r a t i o n o f

Tru l y, t h e p u r p o s e o f t h e a c t i ve p a r t i c i p a t i o n o f t h e P u b l i c

p r o p e r t y m a y b e e ffe c t e d v o l u n t a r i l y o r f o r s u ffi c i e n t

P r o s e c u t o r o r t h e S o l i c i t o r G e ne r a l i s t o e n s u r e t h a t t h e

cause,

interest of the State

subject

to

judicial

a p p r o va l . T h e

questioned

is represented and

p r o t ec t e d

in

C o mp r o m i s e Ag r e e m e n t wh i c h wa s j u d i c i a l l y a p p r o ve d i s

p r o c e e d i n gs f o r a n n u l me n t a n d d e c l a r a t i o n o f n u l l i t y o f

e xa c t l y s u c h a s e p a r a t i o n o f p r o p e r t y a l l o we d u n d e r t he

ma r r i a ge s b y p r e ve n t i n g c o l l u s i o n b e t we e n t h e p a r t i e s, o r

l a w. T h i s c o n c l u s i o n h o l d s t r ue e ve n i f t h e p r o c e e d i n gs fo r

t h e fa b r i c a t i o n o r s u p p re s s i o n o f e vi d e n c e . [ 1 0 ] W h i l e t h e

the

declaration

of

wa s

still

a p p e a ra n c e s o f t h e S o l i c i t o r G e n e r a l an d / o r t h e P ub l i c

that

this

P r o s e c u t o r a r e ma n d a t o r y, t h e f a i l u r e o f t h e RTC t o r e q u i r e

v o l u n t a r y s e p a r a t i o n o f p r op e r t y i s s u b j e c t t o t h e r i g h t s

t h e i r a p p ea r a n c e d o e s n o t p e r s e n u l l i f y t h e C o mp r o mi s e

o f a l l c re d i t o r s o f t h e c o n j u g a l p a r t n e r s h i p o f g a i n s a n d

A gr e e me n t . Th i s C o u r t fu l l y c o n c u r s wi t h t h e fi n d i n gs o f

other

the CA:

p e n d i n g. H o w e v e r,

persons

nullity

the

with

of

Court

m a r r i a ge

must

pecuniary

stress

interest

pursuant

to

A r t i c l e 1 3 6 o f t h e F a mi l y C o d e .
S e c o n d . P e t i t i o n e r s c l a i m t h a t s i n c e t he p r o c e e d i n gs b e fo r e
t h e RTC we r e vo i d i n t h e a b s e n c e o f t h e pa r t i c i p a t i o n o f
the

p r o vi n c i a l

prosecutor

or

s o l i c i t o r,

the

vo l u n t a r y

s e p a r a t i o n m a d e d u r i n g t h e p e n d e n c y o f t h e c a s e i s al s o

x x x. It
bears
e mp h a s i z i n g
that
the
i n t e n d me n t o f t h e l a w i n r e q u i r i n g t he
p r e s e n ce o f t he S o l i c i t o r G e n e r a l a n d / o r
S t a t e p r o s e c u t o r i n al l p r o c e e d i n gs o f l e ga l
s e p a r a t i o n a n d a n n u l me n t o r d e c l a r a t i o n o f
n u l l i t y o f ma r r i a ge i s t o c u r t a i l o r p r e ve n t
a n y p o s s i b i l i t y o f c o l l u s i o n b e t we e n t h e

p a r t i e s a n d t o se e t o i t t h a t t h e i r e vi d e n c e
r e s p e c t i n g t h e c a s e i s n o t fa b r i c a t e d . In t h e
i n s t a n t c a se , t h e r e i s n o e xi ge n c y f o r t h e
presence of the Solicitor General and/or the
S t a t e p r o s e c u t o r b e c a u s e a s a l re a d y s t a t e d ,
nothing
in
the
subject
compromise
a gr e e m e n t t o uc h e d i n t o t h e ve r y m e r i t s o f
the case of declaration of nullity of
m a r r i a g e f o r t h e c o u r t t o b e wa r y o f a n y
p o s s i b l e c o l l u s i o n b e t we e n t h e p a r t i e s. A t
the
risk
of
b e i n g r e p e t i t i [ ve ],
the
c o m p r o m i s e a gr e e m e n t p e r t a i n s m e r e l y t o
a n a gr e e m e n t b e t we e n t h e p e t i t i o ne r a n d
t h e p r i va t e r e s p o n d e n t t o s e p a r a t e t h e i r
c o n j u ga l
properties
partially
wi t h o u t
p r e j u d i c e t o t h e o u t c o m e o f t he p e n d i n g
c a s e o f d e c l a r a t i o n o f n u l l i t y o f m a r r i a ge .

F o u r t h. N e i t h e r c o u l d i t be s a i d t h a t t h e p e t i t i o n e r wa s n o t
i n t e l l i ge n t l y a n d j u d i c i o u s l y i n fo r me d o f t h e c o n s e q u e n t ia l
e ffe c t s o f t h e co mp r o mi s e a gr e e me n t , a n d t h a t , o n t h i s
b a s i s, h e m a y r e p u d i a t e t h e C o mp r o m i s e Agr e e me n t . T h e
a rgu m e n t o f t h e pe t i t i o n e r t h a t h e wa s n o t d u l y i n fo r m e d
b y h i s p r e vi o u s c o u n s e l a b o u t t he l e ga l e ffe c t s o f t h e
vo l u n t a r y

s e t t l e me n t

is

not

c o n vi n c i n g. M i s t a ke

or

vi t i a t i o n o f c o n s e n t, a s n o w cl a i me d b y t h e p e t i t i o n e r a s
h i s b a s i s fo r r e p u d i a t i n g t h e se t t l e me n t , c o u l d h a r d l y b e

[11]

s a i d t o b e e vi d e n t . In S a l o n g a v. C o u r t o f Ap p e a l s , [ 1 2 ] t h i s
T h i rd. T h e

c o n vi c t i o n

of

adultery

does

not

carry

the

Court held:
[ I]t i s we l l - s e t t l e d t h a t t he n e gl i g e n c e o f
c o u n s e l b i n d s t h e cl i e n t . Th i s i s b a s e d o n
t h e r u l e t h a t a n y ac t p e r fo r me d b y a l a w ye r
wi t h i n t h e s c o p e o f h i s ge n e r a l o r i mp l i e d
a u t h o r i t y i s r e ga r d e d as a n a c t o f h i s c l i e n t .
C o n s e q u e n t l y, t h e m i s t a k e o r n e gl i g e n c e o f
p e t i t i o n e r s ' c o u n s e l ma y r e s u l t i n t h e
r e n d i t i o n o f a n u n fa v o r a b l e j u d g me n t
a ga i n s t t h e m.

a c c e s s o r y o f c i vi l i n t e r d i c t i o n. A r t i c l e 3 4 o f t h e R e vi s e d
P en a l

Code

p r o vi d e s

fo r

the

consequences

of

c i vi l

interdiction:
Art.
3 4. C i v i l
I n t e rdi c t i o n . C i vi l
i n t e r d i c t i o n s h a l l d e p r i ve t h e o ffe n d e r
d u r i n g t h e t i m e o f h i s s e n t e n c e o f t he
r i gh t s
of
parental
a u t h o r i t y,
or
guardianship, either as to the person or
p r o p e r t y o f a n y wa r d , o f m a r i t a l a u t h o r i t y,
o f t h e r i gh t t o m a n a g e h i s p r o p e r t y a n d o f
t h e r i gh t t o d i s p o s e o f s u c h p r o p e r t y b y a n y
a c t o r a n y c o n ve ya n c e i n t e r v i v o s .

E xc e p t i o n s t o t h e f o r e g o i n g ha ve b e e n
r e c o gn i z e d b y t he C o u r t i n c a s e s wh e r e
r e c kl e s s o r gr o s s n e gl i ge n c e o f c o u n s e l
d e p r i ve s t h e cl i e n t o f d u e p r o c e s s o f l a w,
o r wh e n i t s a p p l i ca t i o n " r e s u l t s i n t h e
o u t r i gh t d e p r i va t i o n o f o n e 's p r o p e r t y
t h r o u gh a t e c h n ic a l i t y." x x x x [ 1 3 ]

U n d e r Ar t i c l e 3 3 3 o f t h e sa m e C o d e , t h e p e n a l t y fo r
adultery

i s p r i s i o n c o r rec c i o n a l i n

its

medium

and

m a x i m u m p e r i o d s. A r t i c l e 3 3 3 s h o u l d b e re a d wi t h Ar t i c l e

N o n e o f t h e s e e xc e p t i o n s h a s b e e n s u ffi c i e n t l y s h o wn i n

4 3 o f t h e s a m e C o d e . T h e l a t t e r p r o vi d e s :

t h e p r e s e n t ca s e .

A r t . 4 3. P r i s i o n c o r rec c i o n a l I t s a c c e s s o r y
penalties. The
penalty
o f p r i s i o n c o r r e c c i o n a l s h a l l c a r r y wi t h i t
t h a t o f s u s p e n s i o n fr o m p u b l i c o ffi c e , f r o m
t h e r i gh t t o fo l l o w a p r o fe s s i o n o r c a l l i n g,
and
that
of
p e r p e t ua l
special
d i s q u a l i fi c a t i o n f r o m t h e r i gh t o f s u ffr a ge ,
if the duration of said imprisonment shall
e xc e e d e i gh t e e n m o n t h s . T h e o ffe n d e r s h a l l
s u ffe r t h e d i s q u a l i fi c a t i o n p r o vi d e d i n t h i s
a r t i c l e a l t h o u gh p a r d o n e d a s t o t h e
p r i n c i p a l p e n a l t y, u n l e s s t h e sa m e s h a l l
h a ve b e e n e xp r e s s l y r e m i t t e d i n t h e p a r d o n.

It i s c l e a r, t h e r e fo r e , a n d a s c o r r e c t l y h e l d b y t h e C A ,
that the crime of adultery does not carr y the accessor y
p e n a l t y o f c i vi l i n t e r d i c t i o n wh i c h d e p r i ve s t h e p e r s o n o f
t h e r i gh t s t o m a n a ge h e r p r o p e r t y a n d t o d i s p o s e o f s u c h
property inter vivos.

W H E R EF O R E, t h e P e t i t i o n i s D E N I E D . Th e D e c i s i o n o f
the

Court

of

i s A F F I R M E D wi t h M OD I F I C ATI O N t h a t

Ap p e a l s
the

subject

C o mp r o mi s e Ag r e e m e n t i s VAL I D wi t h o u t p r e j u d i c e t o t h e
r i gh t s o f a l l c r e d i t o r s a n d o t h e r p e r s o n s wi t h p e c u n i a r y
i n t e r e s t i n t h e p r o p e r t i e s o f t h e c o n j u ga l p a r t n e r s h i p o f
ga i n s .

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 195670

December 3, 2012

a. Lot 1, Block 3 of the consolidated survey of Lots

W I L L E M B E U M E R , P e t i t i o n e r,

2 1 4 4 & 2 1 4 7 of t h e D u m a g u e t e C a d a s t r e , c o v e r e d b y

vs.

Tra n s f e r

AVE L I N A AM O R E S , R e s p o n d e n t .

containing an area of 252 square meters (sq.m.),

Certificate

of

Tit l e

(TCT)

No.

22846,

including a residential house constructed thereon.


D E C I S I O N
b . L o t 2 1 4 2 o f t h e D um a g u e t e C a d a s t r e , c o v e r e d b y
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

T C T N o . 2 1 9 7 4 , c o n t a i n i n g a n a r e a o f 8 0 6 s q .m . ,
including a residential house constructed thereon.

B e f o r e t h e C o u r t i s a P e t i t i o n f or R e v i e w o n C e r t i o r a r i 1
under Rule 45 of the Rules of CoLlli assailing the

c . L o t 5 8 4 5 of t h e D u m a g u e t e C a d a s t r e , c o v e r e d b y

October

T C T N o . 2 1 3 0 6 , c o n t a i n i n g a n a r e a o f 7 5 6 s q .m .

8, 2009 Decision2 and

J a n u a r y 2 4 , 2 0 11

R e s o l u t i o n 3 o f t h e c o u r t o f Ap p e a l s ( C A ) i n C A - G . R .
C V N o . 0 1 9 4 0 , wh i c h af f i r m e d t h e F e b r u a r y 2 8 , 2 0 0 7

d. Lot 4, Block 4 of the consolidated survey of Lots

D e c i s i o n 4 o f t h e R e g i o n a l Tri a l C o u r t ( RT C ) o f N e g r o s

2 1 4 4 & 2 1 4 7 of t h e D u m a g u e t e C a d a s t r e , c o v e r e d b y

O r i e n t a l , B r a n c h 3 4 i n C i v i l C a s e N o . I 2 8 8 4 . Th e

T C T N o . 2 1 3 0 7 , c o n t a i n i n g a n a r e a o f 4 5 s q .m .

f or e g o i n g r u l i n g s d i s s o l v e d t h e c o n j u g a l p a r t n e r s h i p of
gains

of

W ill em

B e um e r

(petitioner)

and

Ave l i n a

B y wa y of i n h e r i t a n c e :

Amores (respondent) and distributed the properties


f or m i n g p a r t of t h e s a i d p r o p e r t y r e g im e .

e . 1 / 7 o f L o t 2 0 5 5 - A of t h e D um a g u e t e C a d a s t r e ,
c o v e r e d b y TC T N o . 2 3 5 6 7 , c o n t a i n i n g a n a r e a o f

T h e F a c t u a l An t e c e d e n t s

2,635 sq.m. (the area that appertains to the conjugal


p a r t n e r s h i p i s 3 7 6 . 4 5 s q .m . ) .

P e t i t i o n e r,

Dutch

National,

and

respondent,

F i l i p i n a , m a r r i e d i n M a r c h 2 9 , 1 9 8 0 . Af t e r s e v e r a l

f. 1/15 of Lot 2055-I of the Dumaguete Cadastre,

ye a r s ,

c o v e r e d b y TC T N o . 2 3 5 7 5 , c o n t a i n i n g a n a r e a o f 3 6 0

the

RT C

of

Negros

Oriental,

Branch

32,

d e c l a r e d t h e n u l l i t y of t h e i r m a r r i a g e i n t h e D e c i s i o n 5

s q .m .

(the

area

that

appertains

d a t e d N o v e m b e r 1 0 , 2 0 0 0 o n t h e b a s i s of t h e f o r m e r s

partnership is 24 sq.m.).7

to

the

conjugal

p s yc h o l o g i c a l i n c a p a c i t y a s c o n t em p l a t e d i n Ar t i c l e 3 6
o f t h e F am i l y C o d e .

In

defense,8

respondent

averred

that,

wi t h

the

e x c e p t i o n of t h e i r t wo ( 2 ) r e s i d e n t i a l h o u s e s o n L o t s 1
C o n s e q u e n t l y, p e t i t i o n e r f i l e d a P e t i t i o n f or D i s s o l u t i o n

and 2142, she and petitioner did not acquire any

o f C o n j u g a l P a r t n e r s h i p 6 d a t e d D e c em b e r 1 4 , 2 0 0 0

c o n j u g a l p r o p e r t i e s d u r i n g t h e i r m ar r i a g e , t h e t r u t h

p r a yi n g f o r t h e d i s t r i b u t i o n o f t h e f o l l o wi n g d e s c r i b e d

being

properties claimed to have been acquired during the

p u r c h a s e L o t s 1 , 2 1 4 2 , 5 8 4 5 a n d 4 o u t of h e r p e r s o n a l

s u b s i s t e n c e of t h e i r m a r r i a g e , t o wi t :

funds

that

and

she

Lots

used

her

2055-A

o wn

and

personal

2055-I

money

by

wa y

to

of

i n h e r i t a n c e . 9 S h e s u bm i t t e d a j o i n t af fi d a v i t e x e c u t e d
By Purchase:

b y h e r a n d p e t i t i o n e r a t t e s t i n g t o t h e f ac t t h a t s h e
p u r c h a s e d L o t 2 1 4 2 a n d t h e im p r o v em e n t s t h e r e o n
using

her

o wn

m o n e y.1 0

Ac c o r d i n g l y,

respondent

s o u g h t t h e d i sm i s s a l of t h e p e t i t i o n f o r d i s s o l u t i o n a s

Ave l i n a

we l l a s p a ym e n t

m a r r i a g e wa s p r e v i o u s l y a n n u l l e d b y B r a n c h 3 2 o f t h i s

f o r a t t o r n e y s f e e s a n d l i t i g a t i o n

e x p e n s e s . 11

Court.

Am o r e s

Th e

considering

parcels

of

land

the

fact

covered

that

by

their

Tra n sf e r

C e r t if i c a t e of Tit l e s N o s . 2 2 8 4 6 , 2 1 9 7 4 , 2 1 3 0 6 , 2 1 3 0 7 ,
D u r i n g t r i a l , p e t i t i o n e r t e s t i f i e d t h a t wh i l e L o t s 1 , 2 1 4 2 ,

23567 and 23575 are hereby declared paraphernal

5 8 4 5 a n d 4 we r e r e g i s t e r e d i n t h e n am e o f r e s p o n d e n t ,

p r o p e r t i e s of r e s p o n d e n t Ave l i n a Am o r e s d u e t o t h e

t h e s e p r o p e r t i e s we r e a c q u i r e d wi t h t h e m o n e y h e

f a c t t h a t wh i l e t h e s e r e a l p r o p e r t i e s we r e a c q u i r e d b y

r e c e i v e d f r om t h e D u t c h g o v e r n m e n t a s h i s d i s a b i l i t y

onerous

b e n e f i t 1 2 s i n c e r e s p o n d e n t d i d n o t h a v e s u ff i c i e n t

B e um e r, b e i n g a f o r e i g n e r, i s n o t a l l o we d b y l a w t o

i n c o m e t o p a y f o r t h e i r a c q u i s i t i o n . H e a l s o c l a im e d

a c q u i r e a n y p r i v a t e l a n d i n t h e P h i l i p p i n e s , ex c e p t

that

through inheritance.

the

joint

affidavit

they

submitted

before

the

title

during

their

marital

union,

W il le m

R e g i s t e r of D e e d s of D um a g u e t e C i t y wa s c o n t r a r y t o
A r t i c l e 8 9 of t h e F am i l y C o d e , h e n c e , i n v a l i d . 1 3

The personal properties, i.e., tools and equipment


m e n t i o n e d i n t h e c o m p l a i n t wh i c h we r e b r o u g h t o u t b y

For her part, respondent maintained that the money

W ill em f r om t h e c o n j u g a l d we l l i n g a r e h e r e b y d e c l a r e d

u s e d f o r t h e p u r c h a s e o f t h e l o t s c am e e x c l u s i v e l y

t o b e e x c l u s i v e l y o wn e d b y t h e p e t i t i o n e r.

f ro m h e r p e r s o n a l f u n d s , i n p a r t i c u l a r, h e r e a r n i n g s
f ro m s e l l i n g j e we l r y a s we l l a s p r o d u c t s f r om Avo n ,

T h e t wo

Tri u m p h a n d Tup p e r wa r e . 1 4 S h e f ur t h e r a s s e r t e d t h a t

Tra n s f e r C e r t if i c a t e of Tit l e N o s . 2 1 9 7 4 a n d 2 2 8 4 6 a r e

a f t e r s h e f i l e d f o r a n n u lm e n t of t h e i r m a r r i a g e i n 1 9 9 6 ,

h e r e b y d e c l a r e d t o b e c o - o wn e d b y t h e p e t i t i o n e r a n d

petitioner

and

t h e r e s p o n d e n t s i n c e t h e s e we r e a c q u i r e d d u r i n g t h e i r

b r o u g h t a l o n g wi t h h im c e r t a i n p e r s o n a l p r o p e r t i e s ,

marital union and since there is no prohibition on

consisting

f o r e i g n e r s f ro m o wn i n g b u i l d i n g s a n d r e s i d e n t i a l u n i t s .

clamps,

t r a n sf e r r e d

of

etc.

drills,
She

to

their

second

we l d i n g

alleged

house

m ac h i n e ,

that

these

grinders,
tools

and

e q u i p m e n t h a v e a t o t a l c o s t of P 5 0 0 , 0 0 0 . 0 0 . 1 5

houses

standing

on the

lots

covered by

P e t i t i o n e r a n d r e s p o n d e n t a r e , t h e r e b y, d i r e c t e d t o
s u b j e c t t h i s c o u r t f o r a p p r o v a l t h e i r p r o j e c t of p a r t i t i o n
o n t h e t wo h o u s e s a f o r em e n t i o n e d .

T h e RTC R u l i n g
T h e C o u r t f in d s n o s u ff i c i e n t j u s t i f i c a t i o n t o a wa r d t h e
O n F e b r u a r y 2 8 , 2 0 0 7 , t h e RT C of N e g r o s O r i e n t a l ,

c o u n t e r c l a im

Branch

the

c o n s i d e r i n g t h e we l l s e t t l e d d o c t r i n e t h a t t h e r e s h o u l d

p a r t i e s c o n j u g a l p a r t n e r s h i p , a wa r d i n g a l l t h e p a r c e l s

b e n o p r e m i u m o n t h e r i g h t t o l i t i g a t e . Th e p r a ye r f or

of land to respondent as her paraphernal properties;

m o r a l d a m a g e s a r e l ik e wi s e d e n i e d f or l a c k of m e r i t .

34

rendered

its

Decision,

dissolving

of

respondent

for

a t t o r n e ys

f ee s

t h e t o o l s a n d e q u i pm e n t i n f a v o r of p e t i t i o n e r a s h i s
e x c l u s i v e p r o p e r t i e s ; t h e t wo ( 2 ) h o u s e s s t a n d i n g o n

No pronouncement as to costs.

L o t s 1 a n d 2 1 4 2 a s c o - o wn e d b y t h e p a r t i e s , t h e
d i s p o s i t i v e of wh i c h r e a d s :

SO ORDERED.16

W HE RE F O R E , j u d g m e n t i s h e r e b y r e n d e r e d g r a n t i n g

I t r u l e d t h a t , r e g a r d l e s s of t h e s o u r c e o f f un d s f o r t h e

t h e d i s s o l u t i o n of t h e c o n j u g a l p a r t n e r s h i p o f g a i n s

acquisition of Lots 1, 2142, 5845 and 4, petitioner

b e t we e n

c o u l d n o t h a v e a c q u i r e d a n y r i g h t wh a t s o e v e r o v e r

petitioner

W ill e m

Beumer

and

respondent

these properties as petitioner still attempted to acquire

ATT E M P T

them

the

C L A I M I N G A R I G H T O F H A L F O R W HO LE O F TH E

c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p r o h i b i t i o n a g a i n s t f o r e i g n o wn e r s h i p o f

P U R C H A S E P R I C E U S E D I N TH E P U R C H A S E O F TH E

p r i v a t e l a n d s . 1 7 T h i s wa s m a d e e v i d e n t b y t h e s wo r n

REAL

statements petitioner executed purporting to show that

( Em p h a s i s s u p p l i e d )

n o t wi t h s t a n d i n g

his

k no wl e d g e

of

AT

S U B S E Q U E N T LY

P R O P E RTI E S

SUBJECT

AS S E RTI N G

OF

TH I S

OR

CASE.22

t h e s u b j e c t p a r c e l s o f l a n d we r e p u r c h a s e d f ro m t h e
e x c l u s i v e f u n d s of h i s wi f e , t h e h e r e i n r e s p o n d e n t . 1 8

The Ruling of the Court

P e t i t i o n e r s p l e a f o r r e i m b u r s e m e n t f o r t h e am o u n t h e
had paid to purchase the foregoing properties on the

The petition lacks merit.

b a s i s o f e q u i t y wa s l ik e wi s e d e n i e d f or n o t h a v i n g
c o m e t o c o u r t wi t h c l e a n h a n d s .

The issue to be resolved is not of first impression. In


In

The CA Ruling

Re:

Petition

For

Separation

of

P r o p e r t y- E l e n a

B u e n a v e n t u r a M u l l e r v. H e l m u t M u l l e r 2 3 t h e C o u r t h a d
a l r e a d y d e n i e d a c l a i m f o r r e i m b u r s em e n t of t h e v a l u e

Petitioner elevated the matter to the CA, contesting

of p u r c h a s e d p a r c e l s of P h i l i p p i n e l a n d i n s t i t u t e d b y a

o n l y t h e RT C s a wa r d o f L o t s 1 , 2 1 4 2 , 5 8 4 5 a n d 4 i n

f o r e i g n e r H e l m u t M u l l e r, a g a i n s t h i s f or m e r F i l i p i n a

f av o r o f r e s p o n d e n t . H e i n s i s t e d t h a t t h e m o n e y u s e d

spouse,

t o p u r c h a s e t h e f o r e g o i n g p r o p e r t i e s c a m e f ro m h i s

H e lm u t

o wn c a p i t a l f u n d s a n d t h a t t h e y we r e r e g i s t e r e d i n t h e

g r o u n d of e q u i t y wh e r e i t i s c l e a r t h a t h e wi l l i n g l y a n d

name

k n o wi n g l y b o u g h t t h e p r o p e r t y d e s p i t e t h e p r o h i b i t i o n

of

his

f o rm e r

wi f e

only

because

of

the

Elena

Buenaventura

Muller

cannot

f or e i g n

s e ek

M u l l e r.

It

held

r e im b u r s e m e n t

o wn e r s h i p

of

on

Philippine

that
the

c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p r o h i b i t i o n a g a i n s t f o r e i g n o wn e r s h i p .

against

land24

T h u s , h e p r a ye d f o r r e im b u r s e m e n t of o n e - h a l f ( 1 / 2 ) o f

e n s h r i n e d u n d e r S e c t i o n 7 , Ar t i c l e X I I o f t h e 1 9 8 7

t h e v a l u e of wh a t h e h a d p a i d i n t h e p u r c h a s e o f t h e

P h i l i p p i n e C o n s t i t u t i o n wh i c h r e a d s :

s a i d p r o p e r t i e s , wa i v i n g t h e o t h e r h a l f i n f av o r o f h i s
e s t r a n g e d e x - wi f e . 1 9

Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no


p r i v a t e l a n d s s h a l l b e t r a n sf e r r e d o r c o n v e ye d e x c e p t

On October 8, 2009, the CA promulgated a Decision20

to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified

a ff i rm i n g i n t o t o t h e j u d g m e n t r e n d e r e d b y t h e RTC of

t o a c q u i r e o r h o l d l a n d s of t h e p u b l i c d o m a i n .

N e g r o s O r i e n t a l , B r a n c h 3 4 . T h e C A s t r e s s e d t h e f ac t
t h a t p e t i t i o n e r wa s " we l l - a wa r e of t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l

U n d e n i a b l y, p e t i t i o n e r o p e n l y a dm i t t e d t h a t h e " i s we l l

prohibition

a wa r e o f t h e a b o v e - c i t e d c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p r o h i b i t i o n " 2 5

for

aliens

to

acquire

lands

in

the

P h i l i p p i n e s . " 2 1 H e n c e , h e c a n n o t i n v ok e e q u i t y t o

and

even

asseverated

that,

because

of

such

s u p p o r t h i s c l a im f o r r e i m b u r s e m e n t .

prohibition, he and respondent registered the subject


p r o p e r t i e s i n t h e l a t t e r s n a m e . 2 6 C l e a r l y, p e t i t i o n e r s

C o n s e q u e n t l y, p e t i t i o n e r f i l e d t h e i n s t a n t P e t i t i o n f o r

a c t u a t i o n s s h o we d h i s p a l p a b l e i n t e n t t o s k i r t t h e

Review on Certiorari assailing the CA Decision due to

constitutional

t h e f o l l o wi n g e r r o r :

a dm i s s i o n , t h e C o u r t f i n d s n o r e a s o n wh y i t s h o u l d n o t
apply

UNDER

THE

ERRED

IN

FAC T S

NOT

E S TAB L I S H E D ,

S U S TAI N I N G

THE

THE

C O U RT

PETITIONERS

the

prohibition.

Muller

ruling

On

and

the

basis

of

a c c o r d i n g l y,

p e t i t i o n e r s c l a im f or r e i m b u r s em e n t .

such

deny

A s a l s o e x p l a i n e d i n M u l l e r, t h e t i m e - h o n o r e d p r i n c i p l e

Neither

can the

Court

g r a n t p e t i t i o n e r s c l a im

for

i s t h a t h e wh o s e ek s e q u i t y m us t d o e q u i t y, a n d h e

r e im b u r s e m e n t o n t h e b a s i s o f u n j u s t e n r i c h m e n t . 3 3 As

wh o c om e s i n t o e q u i t y m us t c om e wi t h c l e a n h a n d s .

h e l d i n F r e n ze l v. C a t i t o , a c a s e a l s o i n v o l v i n g a

C o n v e r s e l y s t a t e d , h e wh o h a s d o n e i n e q u i t y s h a l l n o t

foreigner seeking monetary reimbursement for money

b e a c c o r d e d e q u i t y. T h u s , a l i t i g a n t m a y b e d e n i e d

spent on purchase of Philippine land, the provision on

r e l i e f b y a c o u r t of e q u i t y o n t h e g r o u n d t h a t h i s

unjust enrichment does not apply if the action is

c o n d u c t h a s b e e n i n e q u i t a b l e , u nf a i r a n d d i s h o n e s t , o r

p r o s c r i b e d b y t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n , t o wi t :

f ra u d u l e n t , o r d e c e i t f u l . 2 7
F u t i l e , t o o , i s p e t i t i o n e r ' s r e l i a n c e o n Ar t i c l e 2 2 o f t h e
I n t h i s c a s e , p e t i t i o n e r s s t a t em e n t s r e g a r d i n g t h e r e a l

N e w C i v i l C o d e wh i c h r e a d s :

s o u r c e o f t h e f un d s u s e d t o p u r c h a s e t h e s u b j e c t
p a r c e l s of l a n d d i l u t e t h e v e r a c i t y of h i s c l a im s : W hil e

Art.

a d m i t t i n g t o h a v e p r e v i o u s l y e x e c u t e d a j o i n t a ff i d a v i t

p e rf o r m a n c e b y a n o t h e r, o r a n y o t h e r m e a n s , a c q u i r e s

that

to

o r c om e s i n t o p o s s e s s i o n of s om e t h i n g a t t h e e x p e n s e

his

of t h e l a t t e r wi t h o u t j u s t o r l e g a l g r o u n d , s h a l l r e t u r n

r e s p o n d e n t s

purchase

Lot

personal

1,28

he

funds

l i k e wi s e

we r e

used

claimed

that

p e r s o n a l d i s a b i l i t y f u n d s we r e u s e d t o a c q u i r e t h e
same.

E v i d e n t l y,

these

inconsistencies

show

22.

Every

person

wh o

through

an

act

of

t h e s am e t o h i m . 1 wp h i 1

his

untruthfulness. Thus, as petitioner has come before

T h e p r o v i s i o n i s e x p r e s s e d i n t h e m a x im : " M E M O C U M

t h e C o u r t wi t h u n c l e a n h a n d s , h e i s n o w p r e c l u d e d

A LTE R I U S

f ro m s e ek i n g a n y e q u i t a b l e r ef u g e .

p e r s o n s h o u l d u n j u s t l y e n r i c h h im s e l f a t t h e ex p e n s e

DETER

D E T R E M E N TO

PROTEST"

(No

of a n o t h e r ) . An a c t i o n f o r r e c o v e r y o f wh a t h a s b e e n
I n a n y e v e n t , t h e C o u r t c a n n o t , e v e n o n t h e g r o u n d s of

p a i d wi t h o u t j u s t c a u s e h a s b e e n d e s i g n a t e d a s a n

e q u i t y, g r a n t r e i m b u r s e m e n t t o p e t i t i o n e r g i v e n t h a t h e

a c c i o n i n r e m v e r s o . Th i s p r o v i s i o n d o e s n o t a p p l y i f ,

acquired

as

no

right

wh a t s o e v e r

over

the

subject

in

this

case,

the

action

is

proscribed

by

the

properties by virtue of its unconstitutional purchase. It

Constitution or by the application of the pari delicto

i s we l l - e s t a b l i s h e d t h a t e q u i t y a s a r u l e wi l l f o l l o w t h e

doctrine.

l a w a n d wi l l n o t p e rm i t t h a t t o b e d o n e i n d i r e c t l y

p e t i t i o n e r f r om f il i n g a n a c c i o n i n r e m v e r s o o v e r t h e

wh i c h ,

done

s u b j e c t p r o p e r t i e s , o r f ro m r e c o v e r i n g t h e m o n e y h e

the

p a i d f or t h e s a i d p r o p e r t i e s , b u t , a s L o r d M a n s f i e l d

Constitution and the law is null and void, vests no

s t a t e d i n t h e e a r l y c a s e of H o lm a n v. J o h n s o n : " T h e

rights, creates no obligations and produces no legal

objection that a contract

e ff e c t a t a l l . 3 0 C o r o l l a r y t h e r e t o , u n d e r Ar t i c l e 1 4 1 2 o f

b e t we e n t h e p l a i n t i ff a n d t h e d ef e n d a n t , s o u n d s a t a l l

the Civil Code,31 petitioner cannot have the subject

t im e s v e r y i l l i n t h e m o u t h of t h e d e f e n d a n t . I t i s n o t

p r o p e r t i e s d e e d e d t o h i m o r a l l o w h im t o r e c o v e r t h e

for

m o n e y h e h a d s p e n t f or t h e p u r c h a s e t h e r e of . Th e l a w

a l l o we d ; b u t i t i s f ou n d e d i n g e n e r a l p r i n c i p l e s of

wi l l n o t a i d e i t h e r p a r t y t o a n i l l e g a l c o n t r a c t o r

p o l i c y, wh i c h t h e d e f e n d a n t h a s t h e a d v a n t a g e of ,

a g r e e m e n t ; i t l e a v e s t h e p a r t i e s wh e r e i t f in d s t h e m . 3 2

c o n t r a r y t o t h e r e a l j u s t i c e , a s b e t we e n h im a n d t h e

Indeed,

p l a i n t if f. " 3 4 ( C i t a t i o n s om i t t e d )

because

d i r e c t l y.2 9

of

S u r e l y,

one

cannot

public
a

p o l i c y,

contract

salvage

cannot
that

any

be

violates

rights

f ro m

u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l t r a n s a c t i o n k n o wi n g l y e n t e r e d i n t o .

an

his

It

may be

s ak e ,

u nf a i r

and

unjust

to

bar

the

i s im m o r a l o r i l l e g a l

h o we v e r, t h a t

the

objection

is

as

ever

Nor

wo u l d

the

denial

of

his

claim

amount

to

an

t h e p r o h i b i t i o n i s t o c o n s e r v e t h e n a t i o n a l p a t r i m o n y3 6

i n j u s t i c e b a s e d o n h i s f or e i g n c i t i z e n s h i p . 3 5 P r e c i s e l y,

a n d i t i s t h i s p o l i c y wh i c h t h e C o u r t i s d u t y- b o u n d t o

i t i s t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n i t s e lf wh i c h d e m a r c a t e s t h e r i g h t s

protect.

o f c i t i ze n s a n d n o n - c i t i ze n s i n o wn i n g P h i l i p p i n e l a n d .
To b e s u r e , t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l b a n a g a i n s t f o r e i g n e r s

W HER E F O R E , t h e p e t i t i o n i s D E N I E D . Ac c o r d i n g l y, t h e

a p p l i e s o n l y t o o wn e r s h i p o f P h i l i p p i n e l a n d a n d n o t t o

assailed October 8, 2009 Decision and January 24,

t h e i m p r o v em e n t s b u i l t t h e r e o n , s u c h a s t h e t wo ( 2 )

2 0 11 R e s o l u t i o n of t h e C o u r t of Ap p e a l s i n C A - G . R . C V

h o u s e s s t a n d i n g o n L o t s 1 a n d 2 1 4 2 wh i c h we r e

N o . 0 1 9 4 0 a r e AF F I R M E D .

properly

declared

to

be

c o - o wn e d

by

the

parties

subject to partition. Needless to state, the purpose of

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 188289

August 20, 2014

DAVID A. NOVERAS, Petitioner,


vs.
LETICIA T. NOVERAS, Respondent.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the 9 May 2008 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R .. CV No. 88686, which
affirmed in part the 8 December 2006 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baler, Aurora, Branch 96.
The factual antecedents are as follow:
David A. Noveras (David) and Leticia T. Noveras (Leticia) were married on 3 December 1988 in Quezon City, Philippines. They resided in
California, United States of America (USA) where they eventually acquired American citizenship. They then begot two children, namely:
Jerome T.
Noveras, who was born on 4 November 1990 and JenaT. Noveras, born on 2 May 1993. David was engaged in courier service business
while Leticia worked as a nurse in San Francisco, California.
During the marriage, they acquired the following properties in the Philippines and in the USA:
PHILIPPINES
PROPERTY

FAIR MARKET VALUE


P1,693,125.00

House and Lot with an area of 150 sq. m. located at


1085 Norma Street, Sampaloc, Manila (Sampaloc
property)
P400,000.00
Agricultural land with an area of 20,742 sq. m.
located at Laboy, Dipaculao, Aurora
P490,000.00
A parcel of land with an area of 2.5 hectares located
at Maria Aurora, Aurora
P175,000.00
A parcel of land with an area of 175 sq.m. located at
Sabang Baler, Aurora
P750,000.00
3-has. coconut plantation in San Joaquin Maria
Aurora, Aurora
USA
PROPERTY
House and Lot at 1155 Hanover Street, Daly City,
California

FAIR MARKET VALUE

$550,000.00
(unpaid debt of $285,000.00)
$3,000
Furniture and furnishings
$9,000
Jewelries (ring and watch)
$13,770.00
2000 Nissan Frontier 4x4 pickup truck
$8,000
Bank of America Checking Account

Bank of America Cash Deposit


$100,000.00
Life Insurance (Cash Value)
$56,228.00

Retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuities

The Sampaloc property used to beowned by Davids parents. The parties herein secured a loan from a bank and mortgaged the property.
When said property was about to be foreclosed, the couple paid a total of P1.5 Million for the redemption of the same.
Due to business reverses, David left the USA and returned to the Philippines in 2001. In December 2002,Leticia executed a Special Power of
Attorney (SPA) authorizing David to sell the Sampaloc property for P2.2 Million. According to Leticia, sometime in September 2003, David
abandoned his family and lived with Estrellita Martinez in Aurora province. Leticia claimed that David agreed toand executed a Joint Affidavit
with Leticia in the presence of Davids father, Atty. Isaias Noveras, on 3 December 2003 stating that: 1) the P1.1Million proceeds from the
sale of the Sampaloc property shall be paid to and collected by Leticia; 2) that David shall return and pay to LeticiaP750,000.00, which is
equivalent to half of the amount of the redemption price of the Sampaloc property; and 3) that David shall renounce and forfeit all his rights
and interest in the conjugal and real properties situated in the Philippines.5 David was able to collect P1,790,000.00 from the sale of the
Sampaloc property, leaving an unpaid balance of P410,000.00.
Upon learning that David had an extra-marital affair, Leticia filed a petition for divorce with the Superior Court of California, County of San
Mateo, USA. The California court granted the divorce on 24 June 2005 and judgment was duly entered on 29 June 2005.6 The California
court granted to Leticia the custody of her two children, as well as all the couples properties in the USA.7
On 8 August 2005, Leticia filed a petition for Judicial Separation of Conjugal Property before the RTC of Baler, Aurora. She relied on the 3
December 2003 Joint Affidavit and Davids failure to comply with his obligation under the same. She prayed for: 1) the power to administer all
conjugal properties in the Philippines; 2) David and his partner to cease and desist from selling the subject conjugal properties; 3) the
declaration that all conjugal properties be forfeited in favor of her children; 4) David to remit half of the purchase price as share of Leticia from
the sale of the Sampaloc property; and 5) the payment ofP50,000.00 and P100,000.00 litigation expenses.8
In his Answer, David stated that a judgment for the dissolution of their marriage was entered on 29 June 2005 by the Superior Court of
California, County of San Mateo. He demanded that the conjugal partnership properties, which also include the USA properties, be liquidated
and that all expenses of liquidation, including attorneys fees of both parties be charged against the conjugal partnership.9
The RTC of Baler, Aurora simplified the issues as follow:
1. Whether or not respondent David A. Noveras committed acts of abandonment and marital infidelity which can result intothe
forfeiture of the parties properties in favor of the petitioner and their two (2) children.

2. Whether or not the Court has jurisdiction over the properties in California, U.S.A. and the same can be included in the judicial
separation prayed for.
3. Whether or not the "Joint Affidavit" x x x executed by petitioner Leticia T. Noveras and respondent David A. Noveras will amount to
a waiver or forfeiture of the latters property rights over their conjugal properties.
4. Whether or not Leticia T. Noveras isentitled to reimbursement of onehalf of the P2.2 [M]illion sales proceeds of their property in
Sampaloc, Manila and one-half of the P1.5 [M]illion used to redeem the property of Atty. Isaias Noveras, including interests and
charges.
5. How the absolute community properties should be distributed.
6. Whether or not the attorneys feesand litigation expenses of the parties were chargeable against their conjugal properties.
Corollary to the aboveis the issue of:
Whether or not the two common children of the parties are entitled to support and presumptive legitimes.10
On 8 December 2006, the RTC rendered judgment as follows:
1. The absolute community of property of the parties is hereby declared DISSOLVED;
2. The net assets of the absolute community of property ofthe parties in the Philippines are hereby ordered to be awarded to
respondent David A. Noveras only, with the properties in the United States of America remaining in the sole ownership of petitioner
Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana pursuant to the divorce decree issuedby the Superior Court of California, County of San
Mateo, United States of America, dissolving the marriage of the parties as of June 24, 2005. The titles presently covering said
properties shall be cancelled and new titles be issued in the name of the party to whom said properties are awarded;
3. One-half of the properties awarded to respondent David A. Noveras in the preceding paragraph are hereby given to Jerome and
Jena, his two minor children with petitioner LeticiaNoveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana as their presumptive legitimes and said legitimes
must be annotated on the titles covering the said properties.Their share in the income from these properties shall be remitted to
them annually by the respondent within the first half of January of each year, starting January 2008;
4. One-half of the properties in the United States of America awarded to petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana in
paragraph 2 are hereby given to Jerome and Jena, her two minor children with respondent David A. Noveras as their presumptive
legitimes and said legitimes must be annotated on the titles/documents covering the said properties. Their share in the income from
these properties, if any, shall be remitted to them annually by the petitioner within the first half of January of each year, starting
January 2008;
5. For the support of their two (2) minor children, Jerome and Jena, respondent David A. Noveras shall give them US$100.00 as
monthly allowance in addition to their income from their presumptive legitimes, while petitioner Leticia Tacbiana shall take care of
their food, clothing, education and other needs while they are in her custody in the USA. The monthly allowance due from the
respondent shall be increased in the future as the needs of the children require and his financial capacity can afford;
6. Of the unpaid amount of P410,000.00 on the purchase price of the Sampaloc property, the Paringit Spouses are hereby ordered
to pay P5,000.00 to respondent David A. Noveras and P405,000.00 to the two children. The share of the respondent may be paid to
him directly but the share of the two children shall be deposited with a local bank in Baler, Aurora, in a joint account tobe taken out in
their names, withdrawal from which shall only be made by them or by their representative duly authorized with a Special Power of
Attorney. Such payment/deposit shall be made withinthe period of thirty (30) days after receipt of a copy of this Decision, with the
passbook of the joint account to be submitted to the custody of the Clerk of Court of this Court within the same period. Said
passbook can be withdrawn from the Clerk of Court only by the children or their attorney-in-fact; and
7. The litigation expenses and attorneys fees incurred by the parties shall be shouldered by them individually.11
The trial court recognized that since the parties are US citizens, the laws that cover their legal and personalstatus are those of the USA. With
respect to their marriage, the parties are divorced by virtue of the decree of dissolution of their marriage issued by the Superior Court of
California, County of San Mateo on 24June 2005. Under their law, the parties marriage had already been dissolved. Thus, the trial court
considered the petition filed by Leticia as one for liquidation of the absolute community of property regime with the determination of the
legitimes, support and custody of the children, instead of an action for judicial separation of conjugal property.
With respect to their property relations, the trial court first classified their property regime as absolute community of property because they did
not execute any marriage settlement before the solemnization of their marriage pursuant to Article 75 of the Family Code. Then, the trial court
ruled that in accordance with the doctrine of processual presumption, Philippine law should apply because the court cannot take judicial

notice of the US law since the parties did not submit any proof of their national law. The trial court held that as the instant petition does not fall
under the provisions of the law for the grant of judicial separation of properties, the absolute community properties cannot beforfeited in favor
of Leticia and her children. Moreover, the trial court observed that Leticia failed to prove abandonment and infidelity with preponderant
evidence.
The trial court however ruled that Leticia is not entitled to the reimbursements she is praying for considering that she already acquired all of
the properties in the USA. Relying still on the principle of equity, the Court also adjudicated the Philippine properties to David, subject to the
payment of the childrens presumptive legitimes. The trial court held that under Article 89 of the Family Code, the waiver or renunciation
made by David of his property rights in the Joint Affidavit is void.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the trial courts Decision by directing the equal division of the Philippine properties between the
spouses. Moreover with respect to the common childrens presumptive legitime, the appellate court ordered both spouses to each pay their
children the amount of P520,000.00, thus:
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. Numbers 2, 4 and 6 of the assailedDecision dated December 8, 2006 of Branch
96, RTC of Baler, Aurora Province, in Civil Case No. 828 are hereby MODIFIED to read as follows:
2. The net assets of the absolute community of property of the parties in the Philippines are hereby divided equally between
petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana (sic) and respondent David A. Noveras;
xxx
4. One-half of the properties awarded to petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) in paragraph 2 shall pertain to her minor children, Jerome
and Jena, as their presumptive legitimes which shall be annotated on the titles/documents covering the said properties. Their share
in the income therefrom, if any, shall be remitted to them by petitioner annually within the first half of January, starting 2008;
xxx
6. Respondent David A. Noveras and petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) are each ordered to pay the amount ofP520,000.00 to their
two children, Jerome and Jena, as their presumptive legitimes from the sale of the Sampaloc property inclusive of the receivables
therefrom, which shall be deposited to a local bank of Baler, Aurora, under a joint account in the latters names. The
payment/deposit shall be made within a period of thirty (30) days from receipt ofa copy of this Decision and the corresponding
passbook entrusted to the custody ofthe Clerk of Court a quowithin the same period, withdrawable only by the children or their
attorney-in-fact.
A number 8 is hereby added, which shall read as follows:
8. Respondent David A. Noveras is hereby ordered to pay petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) the amount ofP1,040,000.00 representing
her share in the proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property.
The last paragraph shall read as follows:
Send a copy of this Decision to the local civil registry of Baler, Aurora; the local civil registry of Quezon City; the Civil RegistrarGeneral,
National Statistics Office, Vibal Building, Times Street corner EDSA, Quezon City; the Office of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of
Aurora; and to the children, Jerome Noveras and Jena Noveras.
The rest of the Decision is AFFIRMED.12
In the present petition, David insists that the Court of Appeals should have recognized the California Judgment which awarded the Philippine
properties to him because said judgment was part of the pleading presented and offered in evidence before the trial court. David argues that
allowing Leticia to share in the Philippine properties is tantamount to unjust enrichment in favor of Leticia considering that the latter was
already granted all US properties by the California court.
In summary and review, the basic facts are: David and Leticia are US citizens who own properties in the USA and in the Philippines. Leticia
obtained a decree of divorce from the Superior Court of California in June 2005 wherein the court awarded all the properties in the USA to
Leticia. With respect to their properties in the Philippines, Leticiafiled a petition for judicial separation ofconjugal properties.
At the outset, the trial court erred in recognizing the divorce decree which severed the bond of marriage between the parties. In Corpuz v.
Sto. Tomas,13 we stated that:
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign
judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, "no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a judgment
rendered by a tribunal of another country." This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must beproven as facts under our rules

on evidence, together with the aliens applicable national law to show the effect of the judgment on the alien himself or herself. The
recognition may be made in an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party invokes the foreign decree as
an integral aspect of his claim or defense.14
The requirements of presenting the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the foreigner must comply with our Rules of Evidence.
Specifically, for Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage, a copy of the foreign judgment may be
admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.15
Under Section 24 of Rule 132, the record of public documents of a sovereign authority or tribunal may be proved by: (1) an official publication
thereof or (2) a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody thereof. Such official publication or copy must beaccompanied, if the
record is not kept in the Philippines, with a certificate that the attesting officer has the legal custody thereof. The certificate may be issued by
any of the authorized Philippine embassy or consular officials stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept, and authenticated
by the seal of his office. The attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof,
asthe case may be, and must be under the official seal of the attesting officer.
Section 25 of the same Rule states that whenever a copy of a document or record is attested for the purpose of evidence, the attestation
must state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may be. The attestation must be
under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any, or if hebe the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court.
Based on the records, only the divorce decree was presented in evidence. The required certificates to prove its authenticity, as well as the
pertinent California law on divorce were not presented.
It may be noted that in Bayot v. Court of Appeals,16 we relaxed the requirement on certification where we held that "[petitioner therein] was
clearly an American citizenwhen she secured the divorce and that divorce is recognized and allowed in any of the States of the Union, the
presentation of a copy of foreign divorce decree duly authenticatedby the foreign court issuing said decree is, as here, sufficient." In this case
however, it appears that there is no seal from the office where the divorce decree was obtained.
Even if we apply the doctrine of processual presumption17 as the lower courts did with respect to the property regime of the parties, the
recognition of divorce is entirely a different matter because, to begin with, divorce is not recognized between Filipino citizens in the
Philippines. Absent a valid recognition of the divorce decree, it follows that the parties are still legally married in the Philippines. The trial court
thus erred in proceeding directly to liquidation.
As a general rule, any modification in the marriage settlements must be made before the celebration of marriage. An exception to this rule is
allowed provided that the modification isjudicially approved and refers only to the instances provided in Articles 66,67, 128, 135 and 136 of
the Family Code.18
Leticia anchored the filing of the instant petition for judicial separation of property on paragraphs 4 and 6 of Article 135 of the Family Code, to
wit:
Art. 135. Any of the following shall be considered sufficient cause for judicial separation of property:
(1) That the spouse of the petitioner has been sentenced to a penalty which carries with it civil interdiction;
(2) That the spouse of the petitioner has been judicially declared an absentee;
(3) That loss of parental authority ofthe spouse of petitioner has been decreed by the court;
(4) That the spouse of the petitioner has abandoned the latter or failed to comply with his or her obligations to the family as provided
for in Article 101;
(5) That the spouse granted the power of administration in the marriage settlements has abused that power; and
(6) That at the time of the petition, the spouses have been separated in fact for at least one year and reconciliation is highly
improbable.
In the cases provided for in Numbers (1), (2), and (3), the presentation of the final judgment against the guiltyor absent spouse shall be
enough basis for the grant of the decree ofjudicial separation of property. (Emphasis supplied).
The trial court had categorically ruled that there was no abandonment in this case to necessitate judicial separation of properties under
paragraph 4 of Article 135 of the Family Code. The trial court ratiocinated:
Moreover, abandonment, under Article 101 of the Family Code quoted above, must be for a valid cause and the spouse is deemed to have
abandoned the other when he/she has left the conjugal dwelling without intention of returning. The intention of not returning is prima facie

presumed if the allegedly [sic] abandoning spouse failed to give any information as to his or her whereabouts within the period of three
months from such abandonment.
In the instant case, the petitioner knows that the respondent has returned to and stayed at his hometown in Maria Aurora, Philippines, as she
even went several times to visit him there after the alleged abandonment. Also, the respondent has been going back to the USA to visit her
and their children until the relations between them worsened. The last visit of said respondent was in October 2004 when he and the
petitioner discussed the filing by the latter of a petition for dissolution of marriage with the California court. Such turn for the worse of their
relationship and the filing of the saidpetition can also be considered as valid causes for the respondent to stay in the Philippines.19
Separation in fact for one year as a ground to grant a judicial separation of property was not tackled in the trial courts decision because, the
trial court erroneously treated the petition as liquidation of the absolute community of properties.
The records of this case are replete with evidence that Leticia and David had indeed separated for more than a year and that reconciliation is
highly improbable. First, while actual abandonment had not been proven, it is undisputed that the spouses had been living separately since
2003 when David decided to go back to the Philippines to set up his own business. Second, Leticia heard from her friends that David has
been cohabiting with Estrellita Martinez, who represented herself as Estrellita Noveras. Editha Apolonio, who worked in the hospital where
David was once confined, testified that she saw the name of Estrellita listed as the wife of David in the Consent for Operation form.20 Third
and more significantly, they had filed for divorce and it was granted by the California court in June 2005.
Having established that Leticia and David had actually separated for at least one year, the petition for judicial separation of absolute
community of property should be granted.
The grant of the judicial separation of the absolute community property automatically dissolves the absolute community regime, as stated in
the 4th paragraph of Article 99 ofthe Family Code, thus:
Art. 99. The absolute community terminates:
(1) Upon the death of either spouse;
(2) When there is a decree of legal separation;
(3) When the marriage is annulled or declared void; or
(4) In case of judicial separation of property during the marriage under Articles 134 to 138. (Emphasis supplied).
Under Article 102 of the same Code, liquidation follows the dissolution of the absolute community regime and the following procedure should
apply:
Art. 102. Upon dissolution of the absolute community regime, the following procedure shall apply:
(1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing separately all the properties of the absolute community and the exclusive properties of
each spouse.
(2) The debts and obligations of the absolute community shall be paid out of its assets. In case of insufficiency of said assets, the
spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate properties in accordance with the provisions of the
second paragraph of Article 94.
(3) Whatever remains of the exclusive properties of the spouses shall thereafter be delivered to each of them.
(4) The net remainder of the properties of the absolute community shall constitute its net assets, which shall be divided equally
between husband and wife, unless a different proportion or division was agreed upon in the marriage settlements, or unless there
has been a voluntary waiver of such share provided in this Code. For purposes of computing the net profits subject to forfeiture in
accordance with Articles 43, No. (2) and 63, No. (2),the said profits shall be the increase in value between the market value of the
community property at the time of the celebration of the marriage and the market value at the time of its dissolution.
(5) The presumptive legitimes of the common children shall be delivered upon partition, in accordance with Article 51.
(6) Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, in the partition of the properties, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is
situated shall be adjudicated tothe spouse with whom the majority of the common children choose to remain. Children below the
age of seven years are deemed to have chosen the mother, unless the court has decided otherwise. In case there is no such
majority, the court shall decide, taking into consideration the best interests of said children. At the risk of being repetitious, we will
not remand the case to the trial court. Instead, we shall adopt the modifications made by the Court of Appeals on the trial courts
Decision with respect to liquidation.

We agree with the appellate court that the Philippine courts did not acquire jurisdiction over the California properties of David and Leticia.
Indeed, Article 16 of the Civil Code clearly states that real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is
situated. Thus, liquidation shall only be limited to the Philippine properties.
We affirm the modification madeby the Court of Appeals with respect to the share of the spouses in the absolutecommunity properties in the
Philippines, as well as the payment of their childrens presumptive legitimes, which the appellate court explained in this wise:
Leticia and David shall likewise have an equal share in the proceeds of the Sampaloc property.1wphi1 While both claimed to have
contributed to the redemption of the Noveras property, absent a clear showing where their contributions came from, the same is presumed to
have come from the community property. Thus, Leticia is not entitled to reimbursement of half of the redemption money.
David's allegation that he used part of the proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property for the benefit of the absolute community cannot
be given full credence. Only the amount of P120,000.00 incurred in going to and from the U.S.A. may be charged thereto. Election expenses
in the amount of P300,000.00 when he ran as municipal councilor cannot be allowed in the absence of receipts or at least the Statement of
Contributions and Expenditures required under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7166 duly received by the Commission on Elections. Likewise,
expenses incurred to settle the criminal case of his personal driver is not deductible as the same had not benefited the family. In sum, Leticia
and David shall share equally in the proceeds of the sale net of the amount of P120,000.00 or in the respective amounts of P1,040,000.00.
xxxx
Under the first paragraph of Article 888 of the Civil Code, "(t)he legitime of legitimate children and descendants consists of one-half or the
hereditary estate of the father and of the mother." The children arc therefore entitled to half of the share of each spouse in the net assets of
the absolute community, which shall be annotated on the titles/documents covering the same, as well as to their respective shares in the net
proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property including the receivables from Sps. Paringit in the amount of P410,000.00. Consequently,
David and Leticia should each pay them the amount of P520,000.00 as their presumptive legitimes therefrom.21
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 88686 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.