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marriage with Maria Faicol on August 27, 1934, in the Santa Teresita church in Iloilo

City.
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10655
"The sponsors of the accused and Maria Faicol were Eulogio Giroy, who was then an
employee of the Office of the Municipal Treasurer of Iloilo, and a certain Emilio
AN ACT REPEALING THE CRIME OF PREMATURE MARRIAGE UNDER ARTICLE Tomera, a clerk in the said office (Exhibit "A", and testimonies of Eulogio Giroy and
351 OF ACT NO. 3815, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE REVISED PENAL CODE complainant Maria Faicol). After the said marriage, the accused and Maria Faicol
established residence in Iloilo. As the accused was then a traveling salesman, he
commuted between Iloilo where he maintained Maria Faicol, and Cebu where he
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in
maintained his first wife, Maria Gorrea. Maria Gorrea died in Cebu City on August 5,
Congress assembled:
1939 (Exhibit "2"). After Maria Gorreas death, and seeing that the coast was clear in
Cebu, the accused brought Maria Faicol to Cebu City in 1940, where she worked as a
Section 1. Without prejudice to the provisions of the Family Code on paternity and teacher-nurse.
filiation, Article 351 of Act No. 3815, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code, "It would seem that the accused and Maria Faicol did not live a happy marital life in
punishing the crime of premature marriage committed by a woman, is hereby Cebu, for it appears that in 1949 and 1950, Maria Faicol suffered injuries to her eyes
repealed. because of physical maltreatment in the hands of the accused. On January 22, 1953,
the accused sent Maria Faicol to Ilioilo, allegedly for the purpose of undergoing
treatment of her eyesight. During her absence, the accused contracted a third
Section 2. Repealing Clause. All laws, decrees, executive orders, rules and
marriage with a certain Jesusa C. Magsalang on October 3, 1953, in Sibonga, Cebu.
regulations that are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed
(See Exhibits "C", "D", "E" and "F").
or modified accordingly.
"The accused admitted having contracted marriage with Jesusa C. Magsalang in
Sibonga, Cebu, on October 3, 1953. Although the accused made an attempt to deny
Section 3. Effectivity. This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its complete his previous marriage with Maria Faicol, the Court, however, believes the attempt is
publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation. futile for the fact of the said second marriage was fully established not only by the
certificate of the said marriage, but also by the testimony of Maria Faicol and of
Eulogio Giroy, one of the sponsors of the wedding, and the identification of the
accused made by Maria Faicol. (See Exhibits "A" and "B" ; t.s.n. pp. 32-33, 40, 41,
hearing of April 27, 1954)."cralaw virtua1aw library
The Court of First Instance of Cebu held that even in he absence of an express
BRIBERY provision in Act No. 3613 authorizing the filing of an action for judicial declaration of
nullity of a marriage void ab initio, defendant could not legally contract marriage
with Jesusa C. Magsalang without the dissolution of his marriage to Maria Faicol,
PEOPLE V. ARAGON either by the death of the latter or by the judicial declaration of the nullity of such
marriage, at the instance of the latter. Authorities given for his ruling are 5 iada, 5th
[G.R. No. L-10016. February 28, 1957.] edition, 651; 35 American Jurisprudence, Marriage, Sec. 46, p. 212; Bickford vs,
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. PROCESO S. ARAGON, Bickford, 74 N.H. 466, A. 579.
Defendant-Appellant. Appellant in this court relies on the case of People v. Mendoza, (95 Phil., 845; 50 Off.
Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla and Solicitor Adolfo Brillantes for Appellee. Gaz., [10] 4767). In this case the majority of this Court
Prospero V. Manuel, Fernando Moncada and Antonio Abad Tornis, for Defendant- declared:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
Appellant. "The statutory provision (section 29 of the Marriage Law of Act 3613) plainly makes
a subsequent marriage contracted by any person during the lifetime of his first
SYLLABUS spouse illegal and void from its performance, and no judicial decree is necessary to
1. MARRIAGE LAW NULL AND VOID MARRIAGES; JUDICIAL DECREE TO ESTABLISH establish its validity, as distinguished from mere annuable marriages. There is here
INVALIDITY, NOT NECESSARY. A subsequent marriage contracted by any person no pretense that appellants second marriage with Olga Lema was contracted in the
during the lifetime of his first spouse is illegal and void from its performance, and no belief that the first spouse, Jovita de Asis, had been absent for seven consecutive
judicial decree is necessary to establish its invalidity as dis tinguished from mere years or generally considered as dead, so as to render said marriage valid until
annuable marriage. (People v. Mendoza, L-5877, September 28, 1954.) declared null and void by a subsequent court."cralaw virtua1aw library
We are aware of the very weighty reasons expressed by Justice Alex Reyes in his
DECISION dissent in the case above-quoted. But these weighty reasons notwithstanding, the
LABRADOR, J.: very fundamental principle of strict construction of penal laws in favor of the
Appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Cebu finding appellant accused, which principle we may not ignore, seems to justify our stand in the above-
guilty of bigamy. The facts are not disputed and, as found by the trial court, are as cited case of People v. Mendoza. Our Revised Penal Code is of recent enactment and
follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph had the rule enunciated in Spain and in America requiring judicial declaration of
"On September 28, 1925, the accused, under the name of Proceso Rosima, nullity of ab initio void marriages been within the contemplation of the legislature,
contracted marriage with a certain Maria Gorrea in the Philippine Independent an express provision to that effect would or should have been inserted in the law. In
Church in Cebu (Exhibits "1" and "1-A). While his marriage with Maria Gorrea was its absence, we are bound by said rule of strict interpretation already adverted to.
subsisting, the accused, under the name of Proceso Aragon, contracted a canonical It is to be noted that the action was instituted upon complaint of the second wife,
whose marriage with the appellant was not renewed after the death of the first wife
and before the third marriage was entered into. Hence, the last marriage was a valid
one and appellants prosecution for contracting this marriage can not prosper. A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is necessary before a
For the foregoing considerations, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed subsequent one can be legally contracted. One who enters into a subsequent
and the defendant-appellant acquitted, with costs de oficio, without prejudice to his marriage without first obtaining such judicial declaration is guilty of bigamy. This
prosecution for having contracted the second bigamous marriage. So ordered. principle applies even if the earlier union is characterized by statute as void.

The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the July 14, 1998 Decision of
the Court of Appeals (CA)[1] in CA-GR CR No. 19830 and its January 4, 1999
Resolution denying reconsideration. The assailed Decision affirmed the ruling of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bacolod City in Criminal Case No. 13848, which
convicted herein petitioner of bigamy as follows:
WHEREFORE, finding the guilt of accused Dr. Vincent Paul G. Mercado a.k.a. Dr.
Vincent G. Mercado of the crime of Bigamy punishable under Article 349 of the
Revised Penal Code to have been proven beyond reasonable doubt, [the court
hereby renders] judgment imposing upon him a prison term of three (3) years, four
(4) months and fifteen (15) days of prision correccional, as minimum of his
indeterminate sentence, to eight (8) years and twenty-one (21) days of prision
mayor, as maximum, plus accessory penalties provided by law.
Costs against accused.[2]

The Facts
The facts are quoted by Court of Appeals (CA) from the trial courts judgment, as
follows: From the evidence adduced by the parties, there is no dispute that accused
Dr. Vincent Mercado and complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan got married on June 27,
1991 before MTCC-Bacolod City Br. 7 Judge Gorgonio J. Ibaez [by reason of] which a
Marriage Contract was duly executed and signed by the parties. As entered in said
document, the status of accused was single. There is no dispute either that at the
time of the celebration of the wedding with complainant, accused was actually a
married man, having been in lawful wedlock with Ma. Thelma Oliva in a marriage
ceremony solemnized on April 10, 1976 by Judge Leonardo B. Caares, CFI-Br. XIV,
Cebu City per Marriage Certificate issued in connection therewith, which matrimony
was further blessed by Rev. Father Arthur Baur on October 10, 1976 in religious rites
at the Sacred Heart Church, Cebu City. In the same manner, the civil marriage
between accused and complainant was confirmed in a church ceremony on June 29,
1991 officiated by Msgr. Victorino A. Rivas, Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Bacolod City.
Both marriages were consummated when out of the first consortium, Ma. Thelma
Oliva bore accused two children, while a child, Vincent Paul, Jr. was sired by accused
with complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan.
On October 5, 1992, a letter-complaint for bigamy was filed by complainant through
counsel with the City Prosecutor of Bacolod City, which eventually resulted [in] the
institution of the present case before this Court against said accused, Dr. Vincent G.
Mercado, on March 1, 1993 in an Information dated January 22, 1993.
On November 13, 1992, or more than a month after the bigamy case was lodged in
the Prosecutors Office, accused filed an action for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage
against Ma. Thelma V. Oliva in RTC-Br. 22, Cebu City, and in a Decision dated May 6,
1993 the marriage between Vincent G. Mercado and Ma. Thelma V. Oliva was
declared null and void.
Accused is charged [with] bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code for
having contracted a second marriage with herein complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan on
MERCADO V. TAN June 27, 1991 when at that time he was previously united in lawful marriage with
[G.R. No. 137110. August 1, 2000] Ma. Thelma V. Oliva on April 10, 1976 at Cebu City, without said first marriage
VINCENT PAUL G. MERCADO a.k.a. VINCENT G. MERCADO, petitioner, vs. CONSUELO having been legally dissolved. As shown by the evidence and admitted by accused,
TAN, respondent. all the essential elements of the crime are present, namely: (a) that the offender has
been previously legally married; (2) that the first marriage has not been legally
DECISION dissolved or in case the spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be
PANGANIBAN, J.: presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (3) that he contract[ed] a second or
subsequent marriage; and (4) that the second or subsequent marriage ha[d] all the 4. That the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for
essential requisites for validity. x x x validity.[7]
While acknowledging the existence of the two marriage[s], accused posited the
defense that his previous marriage ha[d] been judicially declared null and void and When the Information was filed on January 22, 1993, all the elements of bigamy
that the private complainant had knowledge of the first marriage of accused. were present. It is undisputed that petitioner married Thelma G. Oliva on April 10,
It is an admitted fact that when the second marriage was entered into with Ma. 1976 in Cebu City. While that marriage was still subsisting, he contracted a second
Consuelo Tan on June 27, 1991, accuseds prior marriage with Ma. Thelma V. Oliva marriage, this time with Respondent Ma. Consuelo Tan who subsequently filed the
was subsisting, no judicial action having yet been initiated or any judicial declaration Complaint for bigamy.
obtained as to the nullity of such prior marriage with Ma. Thelma V. Oliva. Since no Petitioner contends, however, that he obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his
declaration of the nullity of his first marriage ha[d] yet been made at the time of his first marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, thereby rendering it void ab initio.
second marriage, it is clear that accused was a married man when he contracted Unlike voidable marriages which are considered valid until set aside by a competent
such second marriage with complainant on June 27, 1991. He was still at the time court, he argues that a void marriage is deemed never to have taken place at all.[8]
validly married to his first wife.[3] Thus, he concludes that there is no first marriage to speak of. Petitioner also quotes
the commentaries[9] of former Justice Luis Reyes that it is now settled that if the
Ruling of the Court of Appeals first marriage is void from the beginning, it is a defense in a bigamy charge. But if
Agreeing with the lower court, the Court of Appeals stated: the first marriage is voidable, it is not a defense.
Under Article 40 of the Family Code, the absolute nullity of a previous marriage may Respondent, on the other hand, admits that the first marriage was declared null and
be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment void under Article 36 of the Family Code, but she points out that that declaration
declaring such previous marriage void. But here, the final judgment declaring null came only after the Information had been filed. Hence, by then, the crime had
and void accuseds previous marriage came not before the celebration of the second already been consummated. She argues that a judicial declaration of nullity of a void
marriage, but after, when the case for bigamy against accused was already tried in previous marriage must be obtained before a person can marry for a subsequent
court. And what constitutes the crime of bigamy is the act of any person who shall time.
contract a second subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally We agree with the respondent.
dissolved.[4] To be sure, jurisprudence regarding the need for a judicial declaration of nullity of
the previous marriage has been characterized as conflicting.[10] In People v.
Hence, this Petition.[5] Mendoza,[11] a bigamy case involving an accused who married three times, the
Court ruled that there was no need for such declaration. In that case, the accused
The Issues contracted a second marriage during the subsistence of the first. When the first wife
In his Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues: died, he married for the third time. The second wife then charged him with bigamy.
A Acquitting him, the Court held that the second marriage was void ab initio because it
Whether or not the element of previous legal marriage is present in order to convict had been contracted while the first marriage was still in effect. Since the second
petitioner. marriage was obviously void and illegal, the Court ruled that there was no need for a
B judicial declaration of its nullity. Hence, the accused did not commit bigamy when he
Whether or not a liberal interpretation in favor of petitioner of Article 349 of the married for the third time. This ruling was affirmed by the Court in People v. Aragon,
Revised Penal Code punishing bigamy, in relation to Articles 36 and 40 of the Family [12] which involved substantially the same facts.
Code, negates the guilt of petitioner. But in subsequent cases, the Court impressed the need for a judicial declaration of
C nullity. In Vda de Consuegra v. GSIS,[13] Jose Consuegra married for the second time
Whether or not petitioner is entitled to an acquittal on the basis of reasonable doubt. while the first marriage was still subsisting. Upon his death, the Court awarded one
[6] half of the proceeds of his retirement benefits to the first wife and the other half to
the second wife and her children, notwithstanding the manifest nullity of the second
The Courts Ruling marriage. It held: And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court
The Petition is not meritorious. observes that although the second marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as
it was celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there is need for
Main Issue: Effect of Nullity of Previous Marriage judicial declaration of such nullity.
Petitioner was convicted of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, In Tolentino v. Paras,[14] however, the Court again held that judicial declaration of
which provides: nullity of a void marriage was not necessary. In that case, a man married twice. In
The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a his Death Certificate, his second wife was named as his surviving spouse. The first
second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally wife then filed a Petition to correct the said entry in the Death Certificate. The Court
dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by ruled in favor of the first wife, holding that the second marriage that he contracted
means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings. with private respondent during the lifetime of the first spouse is null and void from
The elements of this crime are as follows: the beginning and of no force and effect. No judicial decree is necessary to establish
1. That the offender has been legally married; the invalidity of a void marriage.
2. That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is In Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy,[15] the Court stressed the need for such declaration. In
absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil that case, Karl Heinz Wiegel filed an action for the declaration of nullity of his
Code; marriage to Lilia Olivia Wiegel on the ground that the latter had a prior existing
3. That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; marriage. After pretrial, Lilia asked that she be allowed to present evidence to prove,
among others, that her first husband had previously been married to another
woman. In holding that there was no need for such evidence, the Court ruled: x x x illegal and void from its performance, no judicial decree is necessary to establish its
There is likewise no need of introducing evidence about the existing prior marriage validity (People v. Mendoza, 95 Phil. 843; People v. Aragon, 100 Phil. 1033).[20]
of her first husband at the time they married each other, for then such a marriage In this light, the statutory mooring of the ruling in Mendoza and Aragon that there is
though void still needs, according to this Court, a judicial declaration of such fact no need for a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage -- has been cast aside
and for all legal intents and purposes she would still be regarded as a married by Article 40 of the Family Code. Such declaration is now necessary before one can
woman at the time she contracted her marriage with respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel; contract a second marriage. Absent that declaration, we hold that one may be
x x x. charged with and convicted of bigamy.
Subsequently, in Yap v. CA,[16] the Court reverted to the ruling in People v. The present ruling is consistent with our pronouncement in Terre v. Terre,[21] which
Mendoza, holding that there was no need for such declaration of nullity. involved an administrative Complaint against a lawyer for marrying twice. In
In Domingo v. CA,[17] the issue raised was whether a judicial declaration of nullity rejecting the lawyers argument that he was free to enter into a second marriage
was still necessary for the recovery and the separation of properties of erstwhile because the first one was void ab initio, the Court ruled: for purposes of determining
spouses. Ruling in the affirmative, the Court declared: The Family Code has settled whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage, a judicial declaration
once and for all the conflicting jurisprudence on the matter. A declaration of the that the first marriage was null and void ab initio is essential. The Court further
absolute nullity of a marriage is now explicitly required either as a cause of action or noted that the said rule was cast into statutory form by Article 40 of the Family
a ground for defense; in fact, the requirement for a declaration of absolute nullity of Code. Significantly, it observed that the second marriage, contracted without a
a marriage is also for the protection of the spouse who, believing that his or her judicial declaration that the first marriage was void, was bigamous and criminal in
marriage is illegal and void, marries again. With the judicial declaration of the nullity character.
of his or her first marriage, the person who marries again cannot be charged with Moreover, Justice Reyes, an authority in Criminal Law whose earlier work was cited
bigamy.[18] by petitioner, changed his view on the subject in view of Article 40 of the Family
Unlike Mendoza and Aragon, Domingo as well as the other cases herein cited was Code and wrote in 1993 that a person must first obtain a judicial declaration of the
not a criminal prosecution for bigamy. Nonetheless, Domingo underscored the need nullity of a void marriage before contracting a subsequent marriage:[22]
for a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage on the basis of a new provision It is now settled that the fact that the first marriage is void from the beginning is not
of the Family Code, which came into effect several years after the promulgation of a defense in a bigamy charge. As with a voidable marriage, there must be a judicial
Mendoza and Aragon. declaration of the nullity of a marriage before contracting the second marriage.
In Mendoza and Aragon, the Court relied on Section 29 of Act No. 3613 (Marriage Article 40 of the Family Code states that x x x. The Code Commission believes that
Law), which provided: the parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that their marriage is
Illegal marriages. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the void, even if such is the fact, but must first secure a judicial declaration of nullity of
lifetime of the first spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance, unless: their marriage before they should be allowed to marry again. x x x.
(a) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; In the instant case, petitioner contracted a second marriage although there was yet
(b) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the no judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage. In fact, he instituted the Petition
second marriage without the spouse present having news of the absentee being to have the first marriage declared void only after complainant had filed a letter-
alive, or the absentee being generally considered as dead and believed to be so by complaint charging him with bigamy. By contracting a second marriage while the
the spouse present at the time of contracting such subsequent marriage, the first was still subsisting, he committed the acts punishable under Article 349 of the
marriage as contracted being valid in either case until declared null and void by a Revised Penal Code.
competent court." That he subsequently obtained a judicial declaration of the nullity of the first
marriage was immaterial. To repeat, the crime had already been consummated by
The Court held in those two cases that the said provision plainly makes a then. Moreover, his view effectively encourages delay in the prosecution of bigamy
subsequent marriage contracted by any person during the lifetime of his first spouse cases; an accused could simply file a petition to declare his previous marriage void
illegal and void from its performance, and no judicial decree is necessary to and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial question in the criminal case.
establish its invalidity, as distinguished from mere annulable marriages.[19] We cannot allow that.
The provision appeared in substantially the same form under Article 83 of the 1950 Under the circumstances of the present case, he is guilty of the charge against him.
Civil Code and Article 41 of the Family Code. However, Article 40 of the Family Code,
a new provision, expressly requires a judicial declaration of nullity of the previous Damages
marriage, as follows: In her Memorandum, respondent prays that the Court set aside the ruling of the
ART. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of Court of Appeals insofar as it denied her claim of damages and attorneys fees.[23]
remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such marriage void. Her prayer has no merit. She did not appeal the ruling of the CA against her; hence,
In view of this provision, Domingo stressed that a final judgment declaring such she cannot obtain affirmative relief from this Court.[24] In any event, we find no
marriage void was necessary. Verily, the Family Code and Domingo affirm the earlier reason to reverse or set aside the pertinent ruling of the CA on this point, which we
ruling in Wiegel. Thus, a Civil Law authority and member of the Civil Code Revision quote hereunder:
Commitee has observed: We are convinced from the totality of the evidence presented in this case that
Consuelo Tan is not the innocent victim that she claims to be; she was well aware of
[Article 40] is also in line with the recent decisions of the Supreme Court that the the existence of the previous marriage when she contracted matrimony with Dr.
marriage of a person may be null and void but there is need of a judicial declaration Mercado. The testimonies of the defense witnesses prove this, and we find no reason
of such fact before that person can marry again; otherwise, the second marriage will to doubt said testimonies.
also be void (Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy, Aug. 19/86, 143 SCRA 499, Vda. De Consuegra v. xxxxxxxxx
GSIS, 37 SCRA 315). This provision changes the old rule that where a marriage is
Indeed, the claim of Consuelo Tan that she was not aware of his previous marriage between him and Villareyes. Invoking this previous marriage, petitioner thereafter
does not inspire belief, especially as she had seen that Dr. Mercado had two (2) left the conjugal dwelling which he shared with Ancajas, stating that he was going to
children with him. We are convinced that she took the plunge anyway, relying on the cohabit with Villareyes.1
fact that the first wife would no longer return to Dr. Mercado, she being by then
already living with another man.
On January 25, 1993, petitioner contracted yet another marriage, this one with a
Consuelo Tan can therefore not claim damages in this case where she was fully
certain Nilda Villegas, before Judge German Lee, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court of
conscious of the consequences of her act. She should have known that she would
Cebu City, Branch 15.2 When Ancajas learned of this third marriage, she verified
suffer humiliation in the event the truth [would] come out, as it did in this case,
from Villareyes whether the latter was indeed married to petitioner. In a handwritten
ironically because of her personal instigation. If there are indeed damages caused to
letter,3Villareyes confirmed that petitioner, Veronico Tenebro, was indeed her
her reputation, they are of her own willful making.[25]
husband.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs
against petitioner.
SO ORDERED. Ancajas thereafter filed a complaint for bigamy against petitioner.4 The
Information,5 which was docketed as Criminal Case No. 013095-L, reads:

That on the 10th day of April 1990, in the City of Lapu-lapu, Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the aforenamed accused, having been
previously united in lawful marriage with Hilda Villareyes, and without the said
marriage having been legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously contract a second marriage with LETICIA ANCAJAS, which second or
subsequent marriage of the accused has all the essential requisites for validity were
it not for the subsisting first marriage.

TENEBRO V. CA CONTRARY TO LAW.

EN BANC When arraigned, petitioner entered a plea of "not guilty".6

G.R. No. 150758 February 18, 2004 During the trial, petitioner admitted having cohabited with Villareyes from 1984-
1988, with whom he sired two children. However, he denied that he and Villareyes
were validly married to each other, claiming that no marriage ceremony took place
VERONICO TENEBRO, petitioner
to solemnize their union.7 He alleged that he signed a marriage contract merely to
vs.
enable her to get the allotment from his office in connection with his work as a
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondent.
seaman.8 He further testified that he requested his brother to verify from the Civil
Register in Manila whether there was any marriage at all between him and
DECISION Villareyes, but there was no record of said marriage. 9

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: On November 10, 1997, the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City, Branch 54,
rendered a decision finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, and sentencing him to four
We are called on to decide the novel issue concerning the effect of the judicial
(4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years
declaration of the nullity of a second or subsequent marriage, on the ground of
and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum.10 On appeal, the Court of Appeals
psychological incapacity, on an individuals criminal liability for bigamy. We hold that
affirmed the decision of the trial court. Petitioners motion for reconsideration was
the subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of
denied for lack of merit.
psychological incapacity does not retroact to the date of the celebration of the
marriage insofar as the Philippines penal laws are concerned. As such, an individual
who contracts a second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid Hence, the instant petition for review on the following assignment of errors:
marriage is criminally liable for bigamy, notwithstanding the subsequent declaration
that the second marriage is void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity.
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED, AND THIS ERROR
IS CORRECTIBLE IN THIS APPEAL WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE DECISION OF
Petitioner in this case, Veronico Tenebro, contracted marriage with private THE HONORABLE COURT A QUO CONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE
complainant Leticia Ancajas on April 10, 1990. The two were wed by Judge Alfredo B. CRIME OF BIGAMY, DESPITE THE NON-EXISTENCE OF THE FIRST MARRIAGE
Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City. Tenebro and Ancajas lived together AND INSUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE.
continuously and without interruption until the latter part of 1991, when Tenebro
informed Ancajas that he had been previously married to a certain Hilda Villareyes
on November 10, 1986. Tenebro showed Ancajas a photocopy of a marriage contract
II. THE COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE CRIME All three of these documents fall in the category of public documents, and the Rules
OF BIGAMY DESPITE CLEAR PROOF THAT THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE of Court provisions relevant to public documents are applicable to all. Pertinent to
ACCUSED AND PRIVATE COMPLAINANT HAD BEEN DECLARED NULL AND the marriage contract, Section 7 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court reads as follows:
VOID AB INITIO AND WITHOUT LEGAL FORCE AND EFFECT. 11
Sec. 7. Evidence admissible when original document is a public record. When the
After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find no cogent reason to disturb original of a document is in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public
the assailed judgment. office, its contents may be proved by a certified copy issued by the public officer in
custody thereof (Emphasis ours).
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, the elements of the crime of Bigamy
are: This being the case, the certified copy of the marriage contract, issued by a public
officer in custody thereof, was admissible as the best evidence of its contents. The
marriage contract plainly indicates that a marriage was celebrated between
(1) that the offender has been legally married;
petitioner and Villareyes on November 10, 1986, and it should be accorded the full
faith and credence given to public documents.
(2) that the first marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or
her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead
Moreover, an examination of the wordings of the certification issued by the National
according to the Civil Code;
Statistics Office on October 7, 1995 and that issued by the City Civil Registry of
Manila on February 3, 1997 would plainly show that neither document attests as a
(3) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and positive fact that there was no marriage celebrated between Veronico B. Tenebro
and Hilda B. Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Rather, the documents merely attest
that the respective issuing offices have no record of such a marriage. Documentary
(4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites
evidence as to the absence of a record is quite different from documentary evidence
for validity.12
as to the absence of a marriage ceremony, or documentary evidence as to the
invalidity of the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes.
Petitioners assignment of errors presents a two-tiered defense, in which he (1)
denies the existence of his first marriage to Villareyes, and (2) argues that the
The marriage contract presented by the prosecution serves as positive evidence as
declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological
to the existence of the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes, which should be
incapacity, which is an alleged indicator that his marriage to Ancajas lacks the
given greater credence than documents testifying merely as to absence of any
essential requisites for validity, retroacts to the date on which the second marriage
record of the marriage, especially considering that there is absolutely no
was celebrated.13 Hence, petitioner argues that all four of the elements of the crime
requirement in the law that a marriage contract needs to be submitted to the civil
of bigamy are absent, and prays for his acquittal. 14
registrar as a condition precedent for the validity of a marriage. The mere fact that
no record of a marriage exists does not invalidate the marriage, provided all
Petitioners defense must fail on both counts. requisites for its validity are present.19 There is no evidence presented by the
defense that would indicate that the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes
lacked any requisite for validity, apart from the self-serving testimony of the accused
First, the prosecution presented sufficient evidence, both documentary and oral, to
himself. Balanced against this testimony are Villareyes letter, Ancajas testimony
prove the existence of the first marriage between petitioner and Villareyes.
that petitioner informed her of the existence of the valid first marriage, and
Documentary evidence presented was in the form of: (1) a copy of a marriage
petitioners own conduct, which would all tend to indicate that the first marriage had
contract between Tenebro and Villareyes, dated November 10, 1986, which, as seen
all the requisites for validity.
on the document, was solemnized at the Manila City Hall before Rev. Julieto Torres, a
Minister of the Gospel, and certified to by the Office of the Civil Registrar of
Manila;15 and (2) a handwritten letter from Villareyes to Ancajas dated July 12, 1994, Finally, although the accused claims that he took steps to verify the non-existence of
informing Ancajas that Villareyes and Tenebro were legally married.16 the first marriage to Villareyes by requesting his brother to validate such purported
non-existence, it is significant to note that the certifications issued by the National
Statistics Office and the City Civil Registry of Manila are dated October 7, 1995 and
To assail the veracity of the marriage contract, petitioner presented (1) a
February 3, 1997, respectively. Both documents, therefore, are dated after the
certification issued by the National Statistics Office dated October 7, 1995; 17 and (2)
accuseds marriage to his second wife, private respondent in this case.
a certification issued by the City Civil Registry of Manila, dated February 3,
1997.18 Both these documents attest that the respective issuing offices have no
record of a marriage celebrated between Veronico B. Tenebro and Hilda B. Villareyes As such, this Court rules that there was sufficient evidence presented by the
on November 10, 1986. prosecution to prove the first and second requisites for the crime of bigamy.

To our mind, the documents presented by the defense cannot adequately assail the The second tier of petitioners defense hinges on the effects of the subsequent
marriage contract, which in itself would already have been sufficient to establish the judicial declaration20 of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of
existence of a marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes. psychological incapacity.
Petitioner argues that this subsequent judicial declaration retroacts to the date of Although the judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage on the ground of
the celebration of the marriage to Ancajas. As such, he argues that, since his psychological incapacity retroacts to the date of the celebration of the marriage
marriage to Ancajas was subsequently declared void ab initio, the crime of bigamy insofar as the vinculum between the spouses is concerned, it is significant to note
was not committed.21 that said marriage is not without legal effects. Among these effects is that children
conceived or born before the judgment of absolute nullity of the marriage shall be
considered legitimate.28 There is therefore a recognition written into the law itself
This argument is not impressed with merit.
that such a marriage, although void ab initio, may still produce legal consequences.
Among these legal consequences is incurring criminal liability for bigamy. To hold
Petitioner makes much of the judicial declaration of the nullity of the second otherwise would render the States penal laws on bigamy completely nugatory, and
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, invoking Article 36 of the Family allow individuals to deliberately ensure that each marital contract be flawed in some
Code. What petitioner fails to realize is that a declaration of the nullity of the second manner, and to thus escape the consequences of contracting multiple marriages,
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity is of absolutely no moment while beguiling throngs of hapless women with the promise of futurity and
insofar as the States penal laws are concerned. commitment.

As a second or subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of As such, we rule that the third and fourth requisites for the crime of bigamy are
petitioners valid marriage to Villareyes, petitioners marriage to Ancajas would be present in this case, and affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
null and void ab initio completely regardless of petitioners psychological capacity or
incapacity.22 Since a marriage contracted during the subsistence of a valid marriage
As a final point, we note that based on the evidence on record, petitioner contracted
is automatically void, the nullity of this second marriage is not per se an argument
marriage a third time, while his marriages to Villareyes and Ancajas were both still
for the avoidance of criminal liability for bigamy. Pertinently, Article 349 of the
subsisting. Although this is irrelevant in the determination of the accuseds guilt for
Revised Penal Code criminalizes "any person who shall contract a second or
purposes of this particular case, the act of the accused displays a deliberate
subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or
disregard for the sanctity of marriage, and the State does not look kindly on such
before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a
activities. Marriage is a special contract, the key characteristic of which is its
judgment rendered in the proper proceedings". A plain reading of the law, therefore,
permanence. When an individual manifests a deliberate pattern of flouting the
would indicate that the provision penalizes the mere act of contracting a second or a
foundation of the States basic social institution, the States criminal laws on bigamy
subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage.
step in.C

Thus, as soon as the second marriage to Ancajas was celebrated on April 10, 1990,
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the penalty for the crime
during the subsistence of the valid first marriage, the crime of bigamy had already
of bigamy is prision mayor, which has a duration of six (6) years and one (1) day to
been consummated. To our mind, there is no cogent reason for distinguishing
twelve (12) years. There being neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, the
between a subsequent marriage that is null and void purely because it is a second or
same shall be imposed in its medium period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence
subsequent marriage, and a subsequent marriage that is null and void on the ground
Law, petitioner shall be entitled to a minimum term, to be taken from the penalty
of psychological incapacity, at least insofar as criminal liability for bigamy is
next lower in degree, i.e., prision correccional which has a duration of six (6) months
concerned. The States penal laws protecting the institution of marriage are in
and one (1) day to six (6) years. Hence, the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the
recognition of the sacrosanct character of this special contract between spouses,
decision of the trial court which sentenced petitioner to suffer an indeterminate
and punish an individuals deliberate disregard of the permanent character of the
penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to
special bond between spouses, which petitioner has undoubtedly done.
eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum.

Moreover, the declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition for review is DENIED.
psychological incapacity is not an indicator that petitioners marriage to Ancajas
The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 21636, convicting
lacks the essential requisites for validity. The requisites for the validity of a marriage
petitioner Veronico Tenebro of the crime of Bigamy and sentencing him to suffer the
are classified by the Family Code into essential (legal capacity of the contracting
indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
parties and their consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing
as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum, is
officer)23 and formal (authority of the solemnizing officer, marriage license, and
AFFIRMED in toto.
marriage ceremony wherein the parties personally declare their agreement to marry
before the solemnizing officer in the presence of at least two witnesses). 24 Under
Article 5 of the Family Code, any male or female of the age of eighteen years or SO ORDERED.
upwards not under any of the impediments mentioned in Articles 37 25and 3826 may
contract marriage.27

In this case, all the essential and formal requisites for the validity of marriage were
satisfied by petitioner and Ancajas. Both were over eighteen years of age, and they
voluntarily contracted the second marriage with the required license before Judge
Alfredo B. Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City, in the presence of at
least two witnesses.
Petitioner thereafter filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings alleging that: (1) there is
a pending civil case for declaration of nullity of the second marriage before the RTC
of Antipolo City filed by Karla Y. Medina-Capili; (2) in the event that the marriage is
declared null and void, it would exculpate him from the charge of bigamy; and (3)
the pendency of the civil case for the declaration of nullity of the second marriage
serves as a prejudicial question in the instant criminal case.

Consequently, the arraignment and pre-trial were reset by the RTC of Pasig City, in
view of the filing of the Motion to Suspend Proceedings filed by petitioner.

In the interim, the RTC of Antipolo City rendered a decision declaring the voidness or
incipient invalidity of the second marriage between petitioner and private
respondent on the ground that a subsequent marriage contracted by the husband
during the lifetime of the legal wife is void from the beginning.

Thereafter, the petitioner accused filed his Manifestation and Motion (to Dismiss)
praying for the dismissal of the criminal case for bigamy filed against him on the
ground that the second marriage between him and private respondent had already
been declared void by the RTC.

CAPILI V. PEOPLE In an Order4 dated July 7, 2006, the RTC of Pasig City granted petitioners
Manifestation and Motion to Dismiss, to wit:

G.R. No. 183805 July 3, 2013


The motion is anchored on the allegation that this case should be dismissed as a
decision dated December 1, 2004 had already been rendered by the Regional Trial
JAMES WALTER P. CAPILI, PETITIONER, Court of Antipolo City, Branch 72 in Civil Case No. 01-6043 (entitled: "Karla Medina-
vs. Capili versus James Walter P. Capili and Shirley G. Tismo," a case for declaration of
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND SHIRLEY TISMO-CAPILI, RESPONDENTS. nullity of marriage) nullifying the second marriage between James Walter P. Capili
and Shirley G. Tismo and said decision is already final.
DECISION
In the opposition filed by the private prosecutor to the motion, it was stated, among
others, that the issues raised in the civil case are not similar or intimately related to
PERALTA, J.:
the issue in this above-captioned case and that the resolution of the issues in said
civil case would not determine whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
seeking the reversal of the Decision1 dated February 1, 2008 and Resolution2 dated
WHEREFORE, after a judicious evaluation of the issue and arguments of the parties,
July 24, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 30444.
this Court is of the humble opinion that there is merit on the Motion to dismiss filed
by the accused as it appears that the second marriage between James Walter P.
The factual antecedents are as follows: Capili and Shirley G. Tismo had already been nullified by the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 72 of Antipolo City which has declared "the voidness, non-existent or
incipient invalidity" of the said second marriage. As such, this Court submits that
On June 28, 2004, petitioner was charged with the crime of bigamy before the
there is no more bigamy to speak of.
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City in an Information which reads:

SO ORDERED.
On or about December 8, 1999, in Pasig City, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the accused being previously united in lawful marriage with Karla Y.
Medina-Capili and without said marriage having been legally dissolved or annulled, Aggrieved, private respondent filed an appeal before the CA.
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage
with Shirley G. Tismo, to the damage and prejudice of the latter.
Thus, in a Decision5 dated February 1, 2008, the CA reversed and set aside the RTCs
decision. The fallo reads:
Contrary to law.3
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Order dated 07 July 2006 of the Regional THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN JAMES WALTER P. CAPILI AND SHIRLEY G. TISMO
Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 152 in Crim. Case No. 128370 is REVERSED and SET HAD LONG BECOME FINAL AND UNAPPEALABLE AS OF THE DATE OF THE
ASIDE. The case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. No costs. SAID DECISION ON DECEMBER 1, 2004 AND DULY RECORDED IN THE
RECORDS OF ENTRIES IN THE CORRESPONDING BOOK IN THE OFFICE OF
THE CIVIL REGISTRAR OF PASIG CITY AND THE NATIONAL STATISTICS
SO ORDERED.6
OFFICE.8

Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration against said decision, but the same
In essence, the issue is whether or not the subsequent declaration of nullity of the
was denied in a Resolution[7] dated July 24, 2008.
second marriage is a ground for dismissal of the criminal case for bigamy.

Accordingly, petitioner filed the present petition for review on certiorari alleging
We rule in the negative.
that:

Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code defines and penalizes the crime of bigamy as
THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR THE COURT OF APPEALS TO DISREGARD
follows:
EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE PRONOUNCED BY THIS HONORABLE SUPREME
COURT AND TO REVERSE THE ORDER DATED JULY 7, 2006 OF THE TRIAL
COURT (REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, PASIG CITY, BRANCH 152) ISSUED IN Art. 349. Bigamy. The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 128370 GRANTING THE MOTION TO DISMISS THE CASE who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has
OF BIGAMY AGAINST PETITIONER, INASMUCH AS THE ISSUANCE OF THE been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared
SAID ORDER IS BASED ON THE FINDINGS AND/OR FACTS OF THE CASE IN presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.
THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF ANTIPOLO CITY, BRANCH
72, IN CIVIL CASE NO. 01-6043 AND THE CONCLUDING AND DISPOSITIVE
The elements of the crime of bigamy, therefore, are: (1) the offender has been
PORTION IN THE SAID DECISION WHICH STATES THAT, AFTER PERUSAL OF
legally married; (2) the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her
THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD AND THE TESTIMONIES OF WITNESSES X X X,
spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to
THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER JAMES WALTER P. CAPILI AND PRIVATE
the Civil Code; (3) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and (4) that
RESPONDENT SHIRLEY G. TISMO, IS HEREBY NULL AND VOID.
the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity. 9

THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION


In the present case, it appears that all the elements of the crime of bigamy were
AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION IN HOLDING THAT THE
present when the Information was filed on June 28, 2004.
DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER JAMES
WALTER P. CAPILI AND SHIRLEY G. TISMO BY THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
OF ANTIPOLO CITY, BRANCH 72 IN ITS DECISION IN CIVIL CASE NO. 01-6043, It is undisputed that a second marriage between petitioner and private respondent
IS ON THE GROUND THAT IT IS BIGAMOUS IN NATURE, DESPITE THE was contracted on December 8, 1999 during the subsistence of a valid first marriage
ABSENCE OF ANY SUCH FINDINGS OR FACTS ON WHICH IT IS BASED IN between petitioner and Karla Y. Medina-Capili contracted on September 3, 1999.
VIOLATION OF ARTICLE VIII, SECTION 14 OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, AND Notably, the RTC of Antipolo City itself declared the bigamous nature of the second
IN CONCLUDING THAT THE SAID DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE IS marriage between petitioner and private respondent. Thus, the subsequent judicial
NOT A GROUND FOR DISMISSAL OF THE BIGAMY CASE AGAINST THE declaration of the second marriage for being bigamous in nature does not bar the
PETITIONER, WHICH RULING IS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FACTS OF prosecution of petitioner for the crime of bigamy.
THE CASE OF THE SAID DECISION AND WHICH IS CONTRARY TO APPLICABLE
LAWS AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE.
Jurisprudence is replete with cases holding that the accused may still be charged
with the crime of bigamy, even if there is a subsequent declaration of the nullity of
THE CASE OF TENEBRO V. COURT OF APPEALS SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. IT IS AN the second marriage, so long as the first marriage was still subsisting when the
EXCEPTION TO EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE INVOLVING DECLARATION OF second marriage was celebrated.
NULLITY OF MARRIAGE AND IS APPLICABLE ONLY TO THE SET OF FACTS IN
THE SAID CASE, AND THE GROUND FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF
In Jarillo v. People,10 the Court affirmed the accuseds conviction for bigamy ruling
MARRIAGE IS PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY, HENCE, THERE IS NO LEGAL
that the crime of bigamy is consummated on the celebration of the subsequent
BASIS FOR ABANDONING EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE AS WHERE IN THE
marriage without the previous one having been judicially declared null and void, viz.:
INSTANT CASE THE GROUND FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE
IS VIOLATIVE OF ARTICLE 3 IN RELATION TO ARTICLE 4 OF THE FAMILY
CODE. The subsequent judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage was
immaterial because prior to the declaration of nullity, the crime had already been
consummated. Moreover, petitioners assertion would only delay the prosecution of
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE USE
bigamy cases considering that an accused could simply file a petition to declare his
BY RESPONDENT SHIRLEY G. TISMO OF THE SURNAME "CAPILI" IS ILLEGAL
previous marriage void and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial
INASMUCH AS THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF ANTIPOLO
question in the criminal case. We cannot allow that.
CITY, BRANCH 72 IN CIVIL CASE NO. 01-6043 DECLARING NULL AND VOID
The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioners marriage to [private held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that the
complainant] had no bearing upon the determination of petitioners innocence or marriage exists. Therefore, he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial
guilt in the criminal case for bigamy, because all that is required for the charge of declaration of the first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy. 12
bigamy to prosper is that the first marriage be subsisting at the time the second
marriage is contracted.
Finally, it is a settled rule that the criminal culpability attaches to the offender upon
the commission of the offense, and from that instant, liability appends to him until
Thus, under the law, a marriage, even one which is void or voidable, shall be extinguished as provided by law.13 It is clear then that the crime of bigamy was
deemed valid until declared otherwise in a judicial proceeding. In this case, even if committed by petitioner from the time he contracted the second marriage with
petitioner eventually obtained a declaration that his first marriage was void ab initio, private respondent. Thus, the finality of the judicial declaration of nullity of
the point is, both the first and the second marriage were subsisting before the first petitioners second marriage does not impede the filing of a criminal charge for
marriage was annulled.11 bigamy against him.

In like manner, the Court recently upheld the ruling in the aforementioned case and WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated
ruled that what makes a person criminally liable for bigamy is when he contracts a February 1, 2008 and Resolution dated July 24, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid first marriage. It G.R. CR No. 30444 are hereby AFFIRMED.
further held that the parties to the marriage should not be permitted to judge for
themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted to the judgment of
SO ORDERED.
competent courts and only when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be