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Republic of the Philippines It should be observed preliminarily that, under the former rules of procedure,

SUPREME COURT when the complaint did not state whether the contract sued on was in writing or
Manila not, the statute of frauds could be no ground for demurrer. Under the new Rules
"defendant may now present a motion to dismiss on the ground that the contract
EN BANC was not in writing, even if such fact is not apparent on the face of the complaint.
The fact may be proved by him." (Moran Rules of Court 2d ed. p. 139 Vol. I.)
G.R. No. L-5028 November 26, 1952
There is no question here that the transaction was not in writing. The only issue is
whether it may be proved in court.
FELIPE CABAGUE and GERONIMO CABAGUE, plaintiffs-appellants,
vs.
MATIAS AUXILIO and SOCORRO AUXILIO, defendants-appellees. The understanding between the plaintiffs on one side and the defendants on the
other, really involves two kinds of agreement. One, the agreement between Felipe
Cabague and the defendants in consideration of the marriage of Socorro and
Generoso F. Obusan for appellants.
Geronimo. Another, the agreement between the two lovers, as "a mutual promise
Pedro M. Tagala for appellees.
to marry". For breach of that mutual promise to marry, Geronimo may sue Socorro
for damages. This is such action, and evidence of such mutual promise is
BENGZON, J.: admissible.2 However Felipe Cabague's action may not prosper, because it is to
enforce an agreement in consideration of marriage. Evidently as to Felipe Cabague
According to the Rules of Court parol evidence is not admissible to prove an and Matias Auxilio this action could not be maintained on the theory of "mutual
agreement made upon the consideration of marriage other than a mutual promise promise to marry".3 Neither may it be regarded as action by Felipe against Socorro
to marry.1 This litigation calls for application of that rule. "on a mutual promise to marry."

In the justice of the peace court of Basud, Camarines Norte, Felipe Cabague and his Consequently, we declare that Geronimo may continue his action against Socorro
son Geronimo sued the defendant Matias Auxilio and his daughter Socorro to for such damages as may have resulted from her failure to carry out their mutual
recover damages resulting from defendants' refusal to carry out the previously matrimonial promises.
agreed marriage between Socorro and Geronimo.
Wherefore this expediente will be returned to the lower court for further
The complaint alleged, in short: (a) that defendants promised such marriage to proceedings in accordance with this opinion. So ordered.
plaintiffs, provided the latter would improve the defendants' house in Basud and
spend for the wedding feast and the needs of the bride; (b) that relying upon such Paras, C.J., Pablo, Padilla, Montemayor, Jugo, Bautista Angelo and Labrador,
promises plaintiffs made the improvement and spent P700; and (c) that without JJ., concur.
cause defendants refused to honor their pledged word.

The defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the contract was oral,
unenforceable under the rule of evidence hereinbefore mentioned. And the court
dismissed the case. On appeal to the Court of First Instance, the plaintiffs
reproduced their complaint and defendants reiterated their motion to dismiss.
From an order of dismissal this appeal was perfected in due time and form.
Republic of the Philippines Honorable Vicente Nepomuceno, judge, in an extended opinion in which all of the
SUPREME COURT evidence adduced during the trial of the cause is carefully analyzed reached the
Manila conclusion "of fact that plaintiff delivered to defendant the sum of P516 sued for
and that Carlos Bolifer and Laureana Loquero received and did not return the said
EN BANC amount," and for the reason that the evidence did not sufficiently show that the
plaintiff had suffered any additional damages, rendered a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff and against the defendant in said sum of P516 together with the interest at
G.R. No. L-8166 February 8, 1916
the rate of 6 per cent from the 17th of December, 1910, and costs.

JORGE DOMALAGAN, plaintiff-appellee,


From that judgment the defendant appealed to this court and made the following
vs.
assignments of error:
CARLOS BOLIFER, defendant-appellant.

1. In holding to be proven the fact of the delivery by the plaintiff of the


M. Abejuela for appellant.
sum of P516 to the defendant, Carlos Bolifer; and
Troadio Galicano for appellee.

2. In holding to be valid and effective the verbal contract entered into by


JOHNSON, J.:
the plaintiff and the defendant in regard to the delivery of the money by
reason of a prospective marriage.
This action was commenced in the Court of First Instance of the Province of
Misamis, on the 17th of December, 1910. It was not presented to the Supreme
The first assignment of error presents a question of fact. The lower court found
Court until the 11th of January 1916. Its purpose was to recover of the defendant
that a large preponderance of the evidence showed that the plaintiff had delivered
the sum of P516, together with damages estimated in the sum of P350 and
to the defendant the sum of P516 in substantially the manner alleged in the
interest, and costs.
complaint. Taking into consideration that the lower court saw and heard the
witnesses, together with the further fact that there is an abundance of
In support of his claim the plaintiff alleged that, in the month of November, 1909, uncontradicted proof supporting the findings of the lower court, we are not
he and the defendant entered into a contract by virtue of the terms of which he inclined to disturb its judgment for any of the reasons given by the appellant in
was to pay to the defendant the sum of P500 upon the marriage of his son Cipriano support of his first assignment of error.
Domalagan with the daughter of the defendant, Bonifacia Bolifer, that later, in the
month of August, 1910, he completed his obligation under said contract by paying
With reference to the second assignment of error, the appellant calls our attention
to the defendant the said sum of 500, together with the further sum of P16 "as
to the provisions of paragraph 3 of section 335 of the Code of Procedure in Civil
hansel or token of future marriage," that, notwithstanding said agreement, the said
Action. The appellant argues that by virtue of the provisions of said paragraph and
Bonifacio Bolifer, in the month of August, 1910, was joined in lawful wedlock to
by virtue of the fact that the agreement upon which the plaintiff relies and under
Laureano Sisi; that immediately upon learning of the marriage of Bonifacia Bolifer
which he paid to the defendant the sum of P516 had not been reduced to writing,
he demanded of the defendant the return of the said sum of P516 together with
he could therefore not recover. The appellant contends that a contract, such as the
the interest and damages; that the damages which he suffered resulted from the
one relied upon by the plaintiff, in order to be valid, must be reduced to writing.
fact that he, in order to raise said sum of P500, was obliged to sell certain real
We have examined the record in vain to find that the defendant during the trial of
property belonging to him, located in the Province of Bohol, at a great sacrifice.
the cause objected to any proof or any part thereof, presented by the plaintiff
which showed or tended to show the existence of the alleged contract. That part of
To the complaint the defendant presented a general denial. He also alleged that said section 335 which the appellant relies upon for relief provides:
the facts stated in the complaint do not constitute a cause of action. Upon the
issue presented the cause was brought on for trial. After hearing the evidence the
In the following cases an agreement hereafter made shall be error. Therefore the judgment of the lower court is hereby affirmed, with costs. So
unenforceable by action unless the same, or some note or memorandum ordered.
thereof, be in writing, and subscribed by the party charged, or by his
agent; evidence, therefore, of the agreement can not be received
without the writing or secondary evidence of its contents:

1. . . .

2. . . .

3. An agreement made upon the consideration of marriage, other than a


mutual promise to marry.

It will be noted, by reference to said section, that "evidence " of the agreement
referred to "can not be received without the writing or secondary evidence of its
contents." As was said above all of the "evidence" relating to said "agreement" was
admitted without the slightest objection.

Said section (335) does not render oral contracts invalid. A contract may be valid
and yet, by virtue of said section, the parties will be unable to prove it. Said section
provides that the contract shall not be enforced by an action unless the same is
evidence by some note or memorandum. Said section simply provides the method
by which the contract mentioned therein may be proved. It does not declare that
said contract are invalid, which have not been reduced to writing, except perhaps
those mentioned in paragraph 5 of said section (335). A contract may be a perfectly
valid contract even though it is not clothed with the necessary form. If it is not
made in confirmity with said section of course it cannot be proved, if proper
objection is made. But a failure to except to evidence presented in order to prove
the contract, because it does not conform to the statute, is a waiver of the
provisions of the law. If the parties to an action, during the trial of the cause, make
no objection to the admissibility of oral evidence to support contracts like the one
in question and permit the contract to be proved, by evidence other than a writing,
it will be just as binding upon the parties as if it had been reduced to writing.
(Anson on Contracts, p. 75; Conlu vs. Araneta and Guanko, 15 Phil. Rep., 387;
Gallemit vs. Tabiliran, 20 Phil. Rep., 241, 246; Kuenzle and Streiff vs. Joingco, 22
Phil. Rep., 110, 112; Gomez vs. Salcedo, 26 Phil. Rep., 485, 489.)

For the foregoing reasons we find nothing in the record justifying a reversal or
modification of the judgment of the lower court based upon either assignment of
Republic of the Philippines On appeal taken by petitioner, the Court of Appeals affirmed this decision, except
SUPREME COURT as to the actual and compensatory damages and the moral damages, which were
Manila increased to P5,614.25 and P7,000.00, respectively.

EN BANC The main issue before us is whether moral damages are recoverable, under our
laws, for breach of promise to marry. The pertinent facts are:
G.R. No. L-14628 September 30, 1960
Complainant Soledad Cagigas, was born in July 1917. Since 1950, Soledad then a
FRANCISCO HERMOSISIMA, petitioner, teacher in the Sibonga Provincial High School in Cebu, and petitioner, who was
vs. almost ten (10) years younger than she, used to go around together and were
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL., respondents. regarded as engaged, although he had made no promise of marriage prior thereto.
In 1951, she gave up teaching and became a life insurance underwriter in the City
of Cebu, where intimacy developed among her and the petitioner, since one
Regino Hermosisima for petitioner.
evening in 1953, when after coming from the movies, they had sexual intercourse
F.P. Gabriel, Jr. for respondents.
in his cabin on board M/V "Escao," to which he was then attached as apprentice
pilot. In February 1954, Soledad advised petitioner that she was in the family way,
CONCEPCION, J.: whereupon he promised to marry her. Their child, Chris Hermosisima, was born on
June 17, 1954, in a private maternity and clinic. However, subsequently, or on July
An appeal by certiorari, taken by petitioner Francisco Hermosisima, from a decision 24, 1954, defendant married one Romanita Perez. Hence, the present action, which
of Court of Appeals modifying that of the Court of First Instance of Cebu. was commenced on or about October 4, 1954.

On October 4, 1954, Soledad Cagigas, hereinafter referred to as complaint, filed Referring now to the issue above referred to, it will be noted that the Civil Code of
with said of her child, Chris Hermosisima, as natural child and moral damages for Spain permitted the recovery of damages for breach to marry. Article 43 and 44 of
alleged breach of promise. Petitioner admitted the paternity of child and expressed said Code provides:
willingness to support the latter, but denied having ever promised to marry the
complainant. Upon her motion, said court ordered petitioner, on October 27, 1954, ART. 43. A mutual promise of marriage shall not give rise to an obligation
to pay, by way of alimony pendente lite, P50.00 a month, which was, on February to contract marriage. No court shall entertain any complaint by which the
16, 1955, reduced to P30.00 a month. In due course, later on, said court rendered a enforcement of such promise is sought.
decision the dispositive part of which reads:
ART. 44. If the promise has been in a public or private instrument by an
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, declaring the child, Chris adult, or by a minor with the concurrence of the person whose consent is
Hermosisima, as the natural daughter of defendant, and confirming the necessary for the celebration of the marriage, or if the banns have been
order pendente lite, ordering defendant to pay to the said child, through published, the one who without just cause refuses to marry shall be
plaintiff, the sum of thirty pesos (P30.00), payable on or before the fifth obliged to reimburse the other for the expenses which he or she may
day of every month sentencing defendant to pay to plaintiff the sum of have incurred by reason of the promised marriage.
FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P4,500.00) for actual and
compensatory damages; the sum of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00)
The action for reimbursement of expenses to which the foregoing article
as moral damages; and the further sum of FIVE HUNDRED PESOS
refers must be brought within one year, computed from the day of the
(P500.00) as attorney's fees for plaintiff, with costs against defendant.
refusal to celebrate the marriage.
Inasmuch as these articles were never in force in the Philippines, this Court ruled Art. 61. No action for specific performance of a mutual promise to marry
in De Jesus vs. Syquia (58 Phil., 866), that "the action for breach of promises to may be brought.
marry has no standing in the civil law, apart from the right to recover money or
property advanced . . . upon the faith of such promise". The Code Commission Art. 62. An action for breach of promise to marry may be brought by the
charged with the drafting of the Proposed Civil Code of the Philippines deem it aggrieved party even though a minor without the assistance of his parent
best, however, to change the law thereon. We quote from the report of the Code or guardian. Should the minor refuse to bring suit, the parent or guardian
Commission on said Proposed Civil Code: may institute the action.

Articles 43 and 44 the Civil Code of 1889 refer to the promise of Art. 63. Damages for breach of promise to marry shall include not only
marriage. But these articles are not enforced in the Philippines. The material and pecuniary losses but also compensation for mental and
subject is regulated in the Proposed Civil Code not only as to the aspect moral suffering.
treated of in said articles but also in other particulars. It is advisable to
furnish legislative solutions to some questions that might arise relative to
Art. 64. Any person, other than a rival, the parents, guardians and
betrothal. Among the provisions proposed are: That authorizing the
grandparents, of the affianced parties, who cause a marriage
adjudication of moral damages, in case of breach of promise of marriage,
engagement to be broken shall be liable for damages, both material and
and that creating liability for causing a marriage engagement to be
moral, to the engaged person who is rejected.
broken.1awphl.nt

Art. 65. In case of breach of promise to marry, the party breaking the
Accordingly, the following provisions were inserted in said Proposed Civil Code,
engagement shall be obliged to return what he or she has received from
under Chapter I, Title III, Book I thereof:
the other as gift on account of the promise of the marriage.

Art. 56. A mutual promise to marry may be made expressly or impliedly.


These article were, however, eliminated in Congress. The reason therefor are set
forth in the report of the corresponding Senate Committee, from which we quote:
Art. 57. An engagement to be married must be agreed directly by the
future spouses.
The elimination of this Chapter is proposed. That breach of promise to marry is not
actionable has been definitely decide in the case of De Jesus vs. Syquia, 58 Phil.,
Art. 58. A contract for a future marriage cannot, without the consent of 866. The history of breach of promise suit in the United States and in England has
the parent or guardian, be entered into by a male between the ages of shown that no other action lends itself more readily to abuse by designing women
sixteen and twenty years or by a female between the ages of sixteen and and unscrupulous men. It is this experience which has led to the abolition of the
eighteen years. Without such consent of the parents or guardian, the rights of action in the so-called Balm suit in many of the American States.
engagement to marry cannot be the basis of a civil action for damages in
case of breach of the promise.
See statutes of:

Art. 59. A promise to marry when made by a female under the age of
Florida 1945 pp. 1342 1344
fourteen years is not civilly actionable, even though approved by the
Maryland 1945 pp. 1759 1762
parent or guardian.
Nevada 1943 p. 75
Maine 1941 pp. 140 141
Art. 60. In cases referred to in the proceeding articles, the criminal and New Hampshire 1941 p. 223
civil responsibility of a male for seduction shall not be affected. California 1939 p. 1245
Massachusetts 1938 p. 326
Indiana 1936 p. 1009 that complainant had allegedly failed to earn during her pregnancy and shortly
Michigan 1935 p. 201 after the birth of the child, as actual and compensation damages; (3) P5,000, as
New York 1935 moral damages; and (4) P500.00, as attorney's fees. The Court of Appeals added to
Pennsylvania p. 450 the second item the sum of P1,114.25 consisting of P144.20, for hospitalization
and medical attendance, in connection with the parturiation, and the balance
The Commission perhaps though that it has followed the more representing expenses incurred to support the child and increased the moral
progression trend in legislation when it provided for breach of promise to damages to P7,000.00.
marry suits. But it is clear that the creation of such causes of action at a
time when so many States, in consequence of years of experience are With the elimination of this award for damages, the decision of the Court of
doing away with them, may well prove to be a step in the wrong Appeals is hereby affirmed, therefore, in all other respects, without special
direction. (Congressional Record, Vol. IV, No. 79, Thursday, May 19, 1949, pronouncement as to cost in this instance. It is so ordered.
p. 2352.)
Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera,
The views thus expressed were accepted by both houses of Congress. In the light of Gutierrez David, Paredes and Dizon, JJ., concur.
the clear and manifest intent of our law making body not to sanction actions for
breach of promise to marry, the award of moral damages made by the lower courts
is, accordingly, untenable. The Court of Appeals said award:

Moreover, it appearing that because of defendant-appellant's seduction


power, plaintiff-appellee, overwhelmed by her love for him finally yielded
to his sexual desires in spite of her age and self-control, she being a
woman after all, we hold that said defendant-appellant is liable for
seduction and, therefore, moral damages may be recovered from him
under the provision of Article 2219, paragraph 3, of the new Civil Code.

Apart from the fact that the general tenor of said Article 2219, particularly the
paragraphs preceding and those following the one cited by the Court of Appeals,
and the language used in said paragraph strongly indicates that the "seduction"
therein contemplated is the crime punished as such in Article as such in Article 337
and 338 of the Revised Penal Code, which admittedly does not exist in the present
case, we find ourselves unable to say that petitioner is morally guilty of seduction,
not only because he is approximately ten (10) years younger than the complainant
who around thirty-six (36) years of age, and as highly enlightened as a former
high school teacher and a life insurance agent are supposed to be when she
became intimate with petitioner, then a mere apprentice pilot, but, also, because,
the court of first instance found that, complainant "surrendered herself" to
petitioner because, "overwhelmed by her love" for him, she "wanted to bind" "by
having a fruit of their engagement even before they had the benefit of clergy."

The court of first instance sentenced petitioner to pay the following: (1) a monthly
pension of P30.00 for the support of the child: (2) P4,500, representing the income
Republic of the Philippines PAKING
SUPREME COURT
Manila Thereafter Velez did not appear nor was he heard from again.

EN BANC Sued by Beatriz for damages, Velez filed no answer and was declared in default.
Plaintiff adduced evidence before the clerk of court as commissioner, and on April
G.R. No. L-20089 December 26, 1964 29, 1955, judgment was rendered ordering defendant to pay plaintiff P2,000.00 as
actual damages; P25,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages; P2,500.00 as
BEATRIZ P. WASSMER, plaintiff-appellee, attorney's fees; and the costs.
vs.
FRANCISCO X. VELEZ, defendant-appellant. On June 21, 1955 defendant filed a "petition for relief from orders, judgment and
proceedings and motion for new trial and reconsideration." Plaintiff moved to
Jalandoni & Jamir for defendant-appellant. strike it cut. But the court, on August 2, 1955, ordered the parties and their
Samson S. Alcantara for plaintiff-appellee. attorneys to appear before it on August 23, 1955 "to explore at this stage of the
proceedings the possibility of arriving at an amicable settlement." It added that
should any of them fail to appear "the petition for relief and the opposition thereto
BENGZON, J.P., J.:
will be deemed submitted for resolution."

The facts that culminated in this case started with dreams and hopes, followed by
On August 23, 1955 defendant failed to appear before court. Instead, on the
appropriate planning and serious endeavors, but terminated in frustration and,
following day his counsel filed a motion to defer for two weeks the resolution on
what is worse, complete public humiliation.
defendants petition for relief. The counsel stated that he would confer with
defendant in Cagayan de Oro City the latter's residence on the possibility of
Francisco X. Velez and Beatriz P. Wassmer, following their mutual promise of love, an amicable element. The court granted two weeks counted from August 25, 1955.
decided to get married and set September 4, 1954 as the big day. On September 2,
1954 Velez left this note for his bride-to-be:
Plaintiff manifested on June 15, 1956 that the two weeks given by the court had
expired on September 8, 1955 but that defendant and his counsel had failed to
Dear Bet appear.

Will have to postpone wedding My mother opposes it. Am Another chance for amicable settlement was given by the court in its order of July
leaving on the Convair today. 6, 1956 calling the parties and their attorneys to appear on July 13, 1956. This time.
however, defendant's counsel informed the court that chances of settling the case
Please do not ask too many people about the reason why amicably were nil.
That would only create a scandal.
On July 20, 1956 the court issued an order denying defendant's aforesaid petition.
Paquing Defendant has appealed to this Court. In his petition of June 21, 1955 in the court a
quo defendant alleged excusable negligence as ground to set aside the judgment
But the next day, September 3, he sent her the following telegram: by default. Specifically, it was stated that defendant filed no answer in the belief
that an amicable settlement was being negotiated.

NOTHING CHANGED REST ASSURED RETURNING VERY SOON


APOLOGIZE MAMA PAPA LOVE .
A petition for relief from judgment on grounds of fraud, accident, mistake or matrimonial bed, with accessories, was bought. Bridal showers were given and gifts
excusable negligence, must be duly supported by an affidavit of merits stating facts received (Tsn., 6; Exh. E). And then, with but two days before the wedding,
constituting a valid defense. (Sec. 3, Rule 38, Rules of Court.) Defendant's affidavit defendant, who was then 28 years old,: simply left a note for plaintiff stating: "Will
of merits attached to his petition of June 21, 1955 stated: "That he has a good and have to postpone wedding My mother opposes it ... " He enplaned to his home
valid defense against plaintiff's cause of action, his failure to marry the plaintiff as city in Mindanao, and the next day, the day before the wedding, he wired plaintiff:
scheduled having been due to fortuitous event and/or circumstances beyond his "Nothing changed rest assured returning soon." But he never returned and was
control." An affidavit of merits like this stating mere conclusions or opinions never heard from again.
instead of facts is not valid. (Cortes vs. Co Bun Kim, L-3926, Oct. 10, 1951; Vaswani
vs. P. Tarrachand Bros., L-15800, December 29, 1960.) Surely this is not a case of mere breach of promise to marry. As stated, mere
breach of promise to marry is not an actionable wrong. But to formally set a
Defendant, however, would contend that the affidavit of merits was in fact wedding and go through all the above-described preparation and publicity, only to
unnecessary, or a mere surplusage, because the judgment sought to be set aside walk out of it when the matrimony is about to be solemnized, is quite different.
was null and void, it having been based on evidence adduced before the clerk of This is palpably and unjustifiably contrary to good customs for which defendant
court. In Province of Pangasinan vs. Palisoc, L-16519, October 30, 1962, this Court must be held answerable in damages in accordance with Article 21 aforesaid.
pointed out that the procedure of designating the clerk of court as commissioner to
receive evidence is sanctioned by Rule 34 (now Rule 33) of the Rules of Court. Now Defendant urges in his afore-stated petition that the damages awarded were
as to defendant's consent to said procedure, the same did not have to be obtained excessive. No question is raised as to the award of actual damages. What
for he was declared in default and thus had no standing in court (Velez vs. Ramas, defendant would really assert hereunder is that the award of moral and exemplary
40 Phil. 787; Alano vs. Court of First Instance, L-14557, October 30, 1959). damages, in the amount of P25,000.00, should be totally eliminated.

In support of his "motion for new trial and reconsideration," defendant asserts that Per express provision of Article 2219 (10) of the New Civil Code, moral damages are
the judgment is contrary to law. The reason given is that "there is no provision of recoverable in the cases mentioned in Article 21 of said Code. As to exemplary
the Civil Code authorizing" an action for breach of promise to marry. Indeed, our damages, defendant contends that the same could not be adjudged against him
ruling in Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals (L-14628, Sept. 30, 1960), as reiterated because under Article 2232 of the New Civil Code the condition precedent is that
in Estopa vs. Biansay (L-14733, Sept. 30, 1960), is that "mere breach of a promise to "the defendant acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent
marry" is not an actionable wrong. We pointed out that Congress deliberately manner." The argument is devoid of merit as under the above-narrated
eliminated from the draft of the new Civil Code the provisions that would have it circumstances of this case defendant clearly acted in a "wanton ... , reckless [and]
so. oppressive manner." This Court's opinion, however, is that considering the
particular circumstances of this case, P15,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages
It must not be overlooked, however, that the extent to which acts not contrary to is deemed to be a reasonable award.
law may be perpetrated with impunity, is not limitless for Article 21 of said Code
provides that "any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner PREMISES CONSIDERED, with the above-indicated modification, the lower court's
that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the judgment is hereby affirmed, with costs.
latter for the damage."
Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Paredes, Dizon, Regala,
The record reveals that on August 23, 1954 plaintiff and defendant applied for a Makalintal, and Zaldivar, JJ.,concur.
license to contract marriage, which was subsequently issued (Exhs. A, A-1). Their
wedding was set for September 4, 1954. Invitations were printed and distributed to
relatives, friends and acquaintances (Tsn., 5; Exh. C). The bride-to-be's trousseau,
party drsrses and other apparel for the important occasion were purchased (Tsn.,
7-8). Dresses for the maid of honor and the flower girl were prepared. A
Republic of the Philippines Upon defendant's motion to dismiss, the court of first instance dismissed the
SUPREME COURT complaint for failure to state a cause of action.
Manila
Plaintiff Santos duly appealed to the Court of Appeals, and the latter ultimately
EN BANC decided the case, holding with the lower court that no cause of action was shown
to compel recognition of a child as yet unborn, nor for its support, but decreed that
G.R. No. L-18630 December 17, 1966 the complaint did state a cause of action for damages, premised on Article 21 of
the Civil Code of the Philippines, prescribing as follows:
APOLONIO TANJANCO, petitioner,
vs. ART. 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ARACELI SANTOS, respondents. manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall
compensate the latter for the damage.
P. Carreon and G. O. Veneracion, Jr. for petitioner.
Antonio V. Bonoan for respondents. The Court of Appeals, therefore, entered judgment setting aside the dismissal and
directing the court of origin to proceed with the case.
REYES, J.B.L., J.:
Defendant, in turn, appealed to this Court, pleading that actions for breach of a
promise to marry are not permissible in this jurisdiction, and invoking the rulings of
Appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeals (in its Case No. 27210-R) revoking
this Court in Estopa vs. Piansay, L-14733, September 30, 1960; Hermosisima vs.
an order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (in Civil Case No. Q-4797) dismissing
Court of Appeals, L-14628, January 29, 1962; and De Jesus vs. SyQuia, 58 Phil. 886.
appellant's action for support and damages.

We find this appeal meritorious.


The essential allegations of the complaint are to the effect that, from December,
1957, the defendant (appellee herein), Apolonio Tanjanco, courted the plaintiff,
Araceli Santos, both being of adult age; that "defendant expressed and professed In holding that the complaint stated a cause of action for damages, under Article 21
his undying love and affection for plaintiff who also in due time reciprocated the above mentioned, the Court of Appeals relied upon and quoted from the
tender feelings"; that in consideration of defendant's promise of marriage plaintiff memorandum submitted by the Code Commission to the Legislature in 1949 to
consented and acceded to defendant's pleas for carnal knowledge; that regularly support the original draft of the Civil Code. Referring to Article 23 of the draft (now
until December 1959, through his protestations of love and promises of marriage, Article 21 of the Code), the Commission stated:
defendant succeeded in having carnal access to plaintiff, as a result of which the
latter conceived a child; that due to her pregnant condition, to avoid But the Code Commission has gone farther than the sphere of wrongs
embarrassment and social humiliation, plaintiff had to resign her job as secretary in defined or determined by positive law. Fully sensible that there are
IBM Philippines, Inc., where she was receiving P230.00 a month; that thereby countless gaps in the statutes, which leave so many victims of moral
plaintiff became unable to support herself and her baby; that due to defendant's wrongs helpless, even though they have actually suffered material and
refusal to marry plaintiff, as promised, the latter suffered mental anguish, moral injury, the Commission has deemed it necessary, in the interest of
besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, and social humiliation. The justice, to incorporate in the proposed Civil Code the following rule:
prayer was for a decree compelling the defendant to recognize the unborn child
that plaintiff was bearing; to pay her not less than P430.00 a month for her support "ART. 23. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to
and that of her baby, plus P100,000.00 in moral and exemplary damages, plus another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs
P10,000.00 attorney's fees. or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage."
An example will illustrate the purview of the foregoing norm: "A" seduces emphasized that to allow a recovery in all such cases would tend to the
the nineteen-year old daughter of "X". A promise of marriage either has demoralization of the female sex, and would be a reward for unchastity
not been made, or can not be proved. The girl becomes pregnant. Under by which a class of adventuresses would be swift to profit." (47 Am. Jur.
the present laws, there is no crime, as the girl is above eighteen years of 662)
age. Neither can any civil action for breach of promise of marriage be
filed. Therefore, though the grievous moral wrong has been committed, Bearing these principles in mind, let us examine the complaint. The material
and though the girl and her family have suffered incalculable moral allegations there are as follows:
damage, she and her parents cannot bring any action for damages. But
under the proposed article, she and her parents would have such a right
I. That the plaintiff is of legal age, single, and residing at 56 South E.
of action.
Diliman, Quezon City, while defendant is also of legal age, single and
residing at 525 Padre Faura, Manila, where he may be served with
The Court of Appeals seems to have overlooked that the example set forth in the summons;
Code Commission's memorandum refers to a tort upon a minor who has
been seduced. The essential feature is seduction, that in law is more than mere
II. That the plaintiff and the defendant became acquainted with each
sexual intercourse, or a breach of a promise of marriage; it connotes essentially the
other sometime in December, 1957 and soon thereafter, the defendant
idea of deceit, enticement, superior power or abuse of confidence on the part of
started visiting and courting the plaintiff;
the seducer to which the woman has yielded (U.S. vs. Buenaventura, 27 Phil. 121;
U.S. vs. Arlante, 9 Phil. 595).
III. That the defendant's visits were regular and frequent and in due time
the defendant expressed and professed his undying love and affection for
It has been ruled in the Buenaventura case (supra) that
the plaintiff who also in due time reciprocated the tender feelings;

To constitute seduction there must in all cases be some sufficient


IV. That in the course of their engagement, the plaintiff and the
promise or inducement and the woman must yield because of the
defendant as are wont of young people in love had frequent outings and
promise or other inducement. If she consents merely from carnal lust and
dates, became very close and intimate to each other and sometime in
the intercourse is from mutual desire, there is no seduction (43 Cent. Dig.
July, 1958, in consideration of the defendant's promises of marriage, the
tit. Seduction, par. 56). She must be induced to depart from the path of
plaintiff consented and acceded to the former's earnest and repeated
virtue by the use of some species of arts, persuasions and wiles, which
pleas to have carnal knowledge with him;
are calculated to have and do have that effect, and which result in her
ultimately submitting her person to the sexual embraces of her seducer
(27 Phil. 123). V. That subsequent thereto and regularly until about July, 1959 except for
a short period in December, 1958 when the defendant was out of the
country, the defendant through his protestations of love and promises of
And in American Jurisprudence we find:
marriage succeeded in having carnal knowledge with the plaintiff;

On the other hand, in an action by the woman, the enticement,


VI. That as a result of their intimate relationship, the plaintiff started
persuasion or deception is the essence of the injury; and a mere proof of
conceiving which was confirmed by a doctor sometime in July, 1959;
intercourse is insufficient to warrant a recover.

VII. That upon being certain of her pregnant condition, the plaintiff
Accordingly it is not seduction where the willingness arises out of sexual
informed the defendant and pleaded with him to make good his promises
desire or curiosity of the female, and the defendant merely affords her
of marriage, but instead of honoring his promises and righting his wrong,
the needed opportunity for the commission of the act. It has been
the defendant stopped and refrained from seeing the plaintiff since
about July, 1959 has not visited the plaintiff and to all intents and
purposes has broken their engagement and his promises.

Over and above the partisan allegations, the facts stand out that for one whole
year, from 1958 to 1959, the plaintiff-appellee, a woman of adult age, maintained
intimate sexual relations with appellant, with repeated acts of intercourse. Such
conduct is incompatible with the idea of seduction. Plainly there is here
voluntariness and mutual passion; for had the appellant been deceived, had she
surrendered exclusively because of the deceit, artful persuasions and wiles of the
defendant, she would not have again yielded to his embraces, much less for one
year, without exacting early fulfillment of the alleged promises of marriage, and
would have cut chart all sexual relations upon finding that defendant did not intend
to fulfill his promises. Hence, we conclude that no case is made under Article 21 of
the Civil Code, and no other cause of action being alleged, no error was committed
by the Court of First Instance in dismissing the complaint.

Of course, the dismissal must be understood as without prejudice to whatever


actions may correspond to the child of the plaintiff against the defendant-
appellant, if any. On that point, this Court makes no pronouncement, since the
child's own rights are not here involved.

FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, the decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed,
and that of the Court of First Instance is affirmed. No costs.

Concepcion, C.J., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar,


Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines and proposed to marry her; she accepted his love on the condition that they would
SUPREME COURT get married; they therefore agreed to get married after the end of the school
Manila semester, which was in October of that year; petitioner then visited the private
respondent's parents in Baaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan to secure their approval to
THIRD DIVISION the marriage; sometime in 20 August 1987, the petitioner forced her to live with
him in the Lozano Apartments; she was a virgin before she began living with him; a
week before the filing of the complaint, petitioner's attitude towards her started to
change; he maltreated and threatened to kill her; as a result of such maltreatment,
she sustained injuries; during a confrontation with a representative of the barangay
G.R. No. 97336 February 19, 1993 captain of Guilig a day before the filing of the complaint, petitioner repudiated
their marriage agreement and asked her not to live with him anymore and; the
GASHEM SHOOKAT BAKSH, petitioner, petitioner is already married to someone living in Bacolod City. Private respondent
vs. then prayed for judgment ordering the petitioner to pay her damages in the
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and MARILOU T. GONZALES, respondents. amount of not less than P45,000.00, reimbursement for actual expenses
amounting to P600.00, attorney's fees and costs, and granting her such other relief
Public Attorney's Office for petitioner. and remedies as may be just and equitable. The complaint was docketed as Civil
Case No. 16503.

Corleto R. Castro for private respondent.


In his Answer with Counterclaim,3 petitioner admitted only the personal
circumstances of the parties as averred in the complaint and denied the rest of the
allegations either for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as
to the truth thereof or because the true facts are those alleged as his Special and
DAVIDE, JR., J.: Affirmative Defenses. He thus claimed that he never proposed marriage to or
agreed to be married with the private respondent; he neither sought the consent
This is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to review and approval of her parents nor forced her to live in his apartment; he did not
and set aside the Decision1 of the respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. maltreat her, but only told her to stop coming to his place because he discovered
24256 which affirmed in toto the 16 October 1939 Decision of Branch 38 (Lingayen) that she had deceived him by stealing his money and passport; and finally, no
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pangasinan in Civil Case No. 16503. Presented is confrontation took place with a representative of the barangay captain. Insisting, in
the issue of whether or not damages may be recovered for a breach of promise to his Counterclaim, that the complaint is baseless and unfounded and that as a result
marry on the basis of Article 21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. thereof, he was unnecessarily dragged into court and compelled to incur expenses,
and has suffered mental anxiety and a besmirched reputation, he prayed for an
award of P5,000.00 for miscellaneous expenses and P25,000.00 as moral damages.
The antecedents of this case are not complicated:

After conducting a pre-trial on 25 January 1988, the trial court issued a Pre-Trial
On 27 October 1987, private respondent, without the assistance of counsel, filed
Order4 embodying the stipulated facts which the parties had agreed upon, to wit:
with the aforesaid trial court a complaint2 for damages against the petitioner for
the alleged violation of their agreement to get married. She alleges in said
complaint that: she is twenty-two (22) years old, single, Filipino and a pretty lass of 1. That the plaintiff is single and resident (sic) of Baaga,
good moral character and reputation duly respected in her community; petitioner, Bugallon, Pangasinan, while the defendant is single, Iranian
on the other hand, is an Iranian citizen residing at the Lozano Apartments, Guilig, citizen and resident (sic) of Lozano Apartment, Guilig, Dagupan
Dagupan City, and is an exchange student taking a medical course at the Lyceum City since September 1, 1987 up to the present;
Northwestern Colleges in Dagupan City; before 20 August 1987, the latter courted
2. That the defendant is presently studying at Lyceum friends and relatives and contracting sponsors, (f) petitioner did not fulfill his
Northwestern, Dagupan City, College of Medicine, second year promise to marry her and (g) such acts of the petitioner, who is a foreigner and
medicine proper; who has abused Philippine hospitality, have offended our sense of morality, good
customs, culture and traditions. The trial court gave full credit to the private
3. That the plaintiff is (sic) an employee at Mabuhay respondent's testimony because, inter alia, she would not have had the temerity
Luncheonette , Fernandez Avenue, Dagupan City since July, and courage to come to court and expose her honor and reputation to public
1986 up to the present and a (sic) high school graduate; scrutiny and ridicule if her claim was false.7

4. That the parties happened to know each other when the The above findings and conclusions were culled from the detailed summary of the
manager of the Mabuhay Luncheonette, Johhny Rabino evidence for the private respondent in the foregoing decision, digested by the
introduced the defendant to the plaintiff on August 3, 1986. respondent Court as follows:

After trial on the merits, the lower court, applying Article 21 of the Civil Code, According to plaintiff, who claimed that she was a virgin at the
rendered on 16 October 1989 a decision5 favoring the private respondent. The time and that she never had a boyfriend before, defendant
petitioner was thus ordered to pay the latter damages and attorney's fees; the started courting her just a few days after they first met. He later
dispositive portion of the decision reads: proposed marriage to her several times and she accepted his
love as well as his proposal of marriage on August 20, 1987, on
which same day he went with her to her hometown of Baaga,
IN THE LIGHT of the foregoing consideration, judgment is
Bugallon, Pangasinan, as he wanted to meet her parents and
hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the
inform them of their relationship and their intention to get
defendant.
married. The photographs Exhs. "A" to "E" (and their
submarkings) of defendant with members of plaintiff's family or
1. Condemning (sic) the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum with plaintiff, were taken that day. Also on that occasion,
of twenty thousand (P20,000.00) pesos as moral damages. defendant told plaintiffs parents and brothers and sisters that
he intended to marry her during the semestral break in
2. Condemning further the defendant to play the plaintiff the October, 1987, and because plaintiff's parents thought he was
sum of three thousand (P3,000.00) pesos as atty's fees and two good and trusted him, they agreed to his proposal for him to
thousand (P2,000.00) pesos at (sic) litigation expenses and to marry their daughter, and they likewise allowed him to stay in
pay the costs. their house and sleep with plaintiff during the few days that
they were in Bugallon. When plaintiff and defendant later
3. All other claims are denied.6 returned to Dagupan City, they continued to live together in
defendant's apartment. However, in the early days of October,
1987, defendant would tie plaintiff's hands and feet while he
The decision is anchored on the trial court's findings and conclusions that (a) went to school, and he even gave her medicine at 4 o'clock in
petitioner and private respondent were lovers, (b) private respondent is not a the morning that made her sleep the whole day and night until
woman of loose morals or questionable virtue who readily submits to sexual the following day. As a result of this live-in relationship, plaintiff
advances, (c) petitioner, through machinations, deceit and false pretenses, became pregnant, but defendant gave her some medicine to
promised to marry private respondent, d) because of his persuasive promise to abort the fetus. Still plaintiff continued to live with defendant
marry her, she allowed herself to be deflowered by him, (e) by reason of that and kept reminding him of his promise to marry her until he
deceitful promise, private respondent and her parents in accordance with told her that he could not do so because he was already
Filipino customs and traditions made some preparations for the wedding that married to a girl in Bacolod City. That was the time plaintiff left
was to be held at the end of October 1987 by looking for pigs and chickens, inviting defendant, went home to her parents, and thereafter consulted
a lawyer who accompanied her to the barangay captain in therefore, defendant's pretense that plaintiff was a nobody to
Dagupan City. Plaintiff, her lawyer, her godmother, and a him except a waitress at the restaurant where he usually ate.
barangay tanod sent by the barangay captain went to talk to Defendant in fact admitted that he went to plaintiff's
defendant to still convince him to marry plaintiff, but defendant hometown of Baaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan, at least thrice; at
insisted that he could not do so because he was already (sic) the town fiesta on February 27, 1987 (p. 54, tsn May 18,
married to a girl in Bacolod City, although the truth, as 1988), at (sic) a beach party together with the manager and
stipulated by the parties at the pre-trial, is that defendant is still employees of the Mabuhay Luncheonette on March 3, 1987 (p.
single. 50, tsn id.), and on April 1, 1987 when he allegedly talked to
plaintiff's mother who told him to marry her daughter (pp. 55-
Plaintiff's father, a tricycle driver, also claimed that after 56, tsn id.). Would defendant have left Dagupan City where he
defendant had informed them of his desire to marry Marilou, was involved in the serious study of medicine to go to plaintiff's
he already looked for sponsors for the wedding, started hometown in Baaga, Bugallon, unless there was (sic) some
preparing for the reception by looking for pigs and chickens, kind of special relationship between them? And this special
and even already invited many relatives and friends to the relationship must indeed have led to defendant's insincere
forthcoming wedding. 8 proposal of marriage to plaintiff, communicated not only to her
but also to her parents, and (sic) Marites Rabino, the owner of
the restaurant where plaintiff was working and where
Petitioner appealed the trial court's decision to the respondent Court of Appeals
defendant first proposed marriage to her, also knew of this love
which docketed the case as CA-G.R. CV No. 24256. In his Brief,9 he contended that
affair and defendant's proposal of marriage to plaintiff, which
the trial court erred (a) in not dismissing the case for lack of factual and legal basis
she declared was the reason why plaintiff resigned from her job
and (b) in ordering him to pay moral damages, attorney's fees, litigation expenses
at the restaurant after she had accepted defendant's proposal
and costs.
(pp. 6-7, tsn March 7, 1988).

On 18 February 1991, respondent Court promulgated the challenged


Upon the other hand, appellant does not appear to be a man of
decision 10 affirming in toto the trial court's ruling of 16 October 1989. In sustaining
good moral character and must think so low and have so little
the trial court's findings of fact, respondent Court made the following analysis:
respect and regard for Filipino women that he openly admitted
that when he studied in Bacolod City for several years where he
First of all, plaintiff, then only 21 years old when she met finished his B.S. Biology before he came to Dagupan City to
defendant who was already 29 years old at the time, does not study medicine, he had a common-law wife in Bacolod City. In
appear to be a girl of loose morals. It is uncontradicted that she other words, he also lived with another woman in Bacolod City
was a virgin prior to her unfortunate experience with defendant but did not marry that woman, just like what he did to plaintiff.
and never had boyfriend. She is, as described by the lower It is not surprising, then, that he felt so little compunction or
court, a barrio lass "not used and accustomed to trend of remorse in pretending to love and promising to marry plaintiff,
modern urban life", and certainly would (sic) not have allowed a young, innocent, trustful country girl, in order to satisfy his
"herself to be deflowered by the defendant if there was no lust on her. 11
persuasive promise made by the defendant to marry her." In
fact, we agree with the lower court that plaintiff and defendant
and then concluded:
must have been sweethearts or so the plaintiff must have
thought because of the deception of defendant, for otherwise,
she would not have allowed herself to be photographed with In sum, we are strongly convinced and so hold that it was
defendant in public in so (sic) loving and tender poses as those defendant-appellant's fraudulent and deceptive protestations
depicted in the pictures Exhs. "D" and "E". We cannot believe, of love for and promise to marry plaintiff that made her
surrender her virtue and womanhood to him and to live with On 26 August 1991, after the private respondent had filed her Comment to the
him on the honest and sincere belief that he would keep said petition and the petitioner had filed his Reply thereto, this Court gave due course
promise, and it was likewise these (sic) fraud and deception on to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective Memoranda,
appellant's part that made plaintiff's parents agree to their which they subsequently complied with.
daughter's living-in with him preparatory to their supposed
marriage. And as these acts of appellant are palpably and As may be gleaned from the foregoing summation of the petitioner's arguments in
undoubtedly against morals, good customs, and public policy, support of his thesis, it is clear that questions of fact, which boil down to the issue
and are even gravely and deeply derogatory and insulting to of the credibility of witnesses, are also raised. It is the rule in this jurisdiction that
our women, coming as they do from a foreigner who has been appellate courts will not disturb the trial court's findings as to the credibility of
enjoying the hospitality of our people and taking advantage of witnesses, the latter court having heard the witnesses and having had the
the opportunity to study in one of our institutions of learning, opportunity to observe closely their deportment and manner of testifying, unless
defendant-appellant should indeed be made, under Art. 21 of the trial court had plainly overlooked facts of substance or value which, if
the Civil Code of the Philippines, to compensate for the moral considered, might affect the result of the case. 15
damages and injury that he had caused plaintiff, as the lower
court ordered him to do in its decision in this case. 12
Petitioner has miserably failed to convince Us that both the appellate and trial
courts had overlooked any fact of substance or values which could alter the result
Unfazed by his second defeat, petitioner filed the instant petition on 26 March of the case.
1991; he raises therein the single issue of whether or not Article 21 of the Civil
Code applies to the case at bar. 13
Equally settled is the rule that only questions of law may be raised in a petition for
review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. It is not the function of
It is petitioner's thesis that said Article 21 is not applicable because he had not this Court to analyze or weigh all over again the evidence introduced by the parties
committed any moral wrong or injury or violated any good custom or public policy; before the lower court. There are, however, recognized exceptions to this rule.
he has not professed love or proposed marriage to the private respondent; and he Thus, in Medina vs.Asistio, Jr., 16 this Court took the time, again, to enumerate
has never maltreated her. He criticizes the trial court for liberally invoking Filipino these exceptions:
customs, traditions and culture, and ignoring the fact that since he is a foreigner,
he is not conversant with such Filipino customs, traditions and culture. As an
xxx xxx xxx
Iranian Moslem, he is not familiar with Catholic and Christian ways. He stresses that
even if he had made a promise to marry, the subsequent failure to fulfill the same
is excusable or tolerable because of his Moslem upbringing; he then alludes to the (1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on
Muslim Code which purportedly allows a Muslim to take four (4) wives and speculation, surmises or conjectures (Joaquin v. Navarro, 93
concludes that on the basis thereof, the trial court erred in ruling that he does not Phil. 257 [1953]); (2) When the inference made is manifestly
posses good moral character. Moreover, his controversial "common law life" is now mistaken, absurb or impossible (Luna v. Linatok, 74 Phil. 15
his legal wife as their marriage had been solemnized in civil ceremonies in the [1942]); (3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion (Buyco v.
Iranian Embassy. As to his unlawful cohabitation with the private respondent, People, 95 Phil. 453 [1955]); (4) When the judgment is based on
petitioner claims that even if responsibility could be pinned on him for the live-in a misapprehension of facts (Cruz v. Sosing,
relationship, the private respondent should also be faulted for consenting to an L-4875, Nov. 27, 1953); (5) When the findings of fact are
illicit arrangement. Finally, petitioner asseverates that even if it was to be conflicting (Casica v. Villaseca, L-9590 Ap. 30, 1957; unrep.) (6)
assumed arguendo that he had professed his love to the private respondent and When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond
had also promised to marry her, such acts would not be actionable in view of the the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the
special circumstances of the case. The mere breach of promise is not actionable. 14 admissions of both appellate and appellee (Evangelista v. Alto
Surety and Insurance Co., 103 Phil. 401 [1958]);
(7) The findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of
the trial court (Garcia v. Court of Appeals, 33 SCRA 622 [1970]; that there are countless gaps in the statutes, which leave so
Sacay v. Sandiganbayan, 142 SCRA 593 [1986]); (8) When the many victims of moral wrongs helpless, even though they have
findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific actually suffered material and moral injury, the Commission has
evidence on which they are based (Ibid.,); (9) When the facts deemed it necessary, in the interest of justice, to incorporate in
set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and the proposed Civil Code the following rule:
reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents (Ibid.,); and
(10) The finding of fact of the Court of Appeals is premised on Art. 23. Any person who wilfully causes loss
the supposed absence of evidence and is contradicted by the or injury to another in a manner that is
evidence on record (Salazar v. Gutierrez, 33 SCRA 242 [1970]). contrary to morals, good customs or public
policy shall compensate the latter for the
Petitioner has not endeavored to joint out to Us the existence of any of the above damage.
quoted exceptions in this case. Consequently, the factual findings of the trial and
appellate courts must be respected. An example will illustrate the purview of the foregoing norm:
"A" seduces the nineteen-year old daughter of "X". A promise
And now to the legal issue. of marriage either has not been made, or can not be proved.
The girl becomes pregnant. Under the present laws, there is no
The existing rule is that a breach of promise to marry per se is not an actionable crime, as the girl is above nineteen years of age. Neither can
wrong. 17 Congress deliberately eliminated from the draft of the New Civil Code the any civil action for breach of promise of marriage be filed.
provisions that would have made it so. The reason therefor is set forth in the report Therefore, though the grievous moral wrong has been
of the Senate Committees on the Proposed Civil Code, from which We quote: committed, and though the girl and family have suffered
incalculable moral damage, she and her parents cannot bring
action for damages. But under the proposed article, she and
The elimination of this chapter is proposed. That breach of
her parents would have such a right of action.
promise to marry is not actionable has been definitely decided
in the case of De Jesus vs. Syquia. 18 The history of breach of
promise suits in the United States and in England has shown Thus at one stroke, the legislator, if the forgoing rule is
that no other action lends itself more readily to abuse by approved, would vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that
designing women and unscrupulous men. It is this experience untold number of moral wrongs which it is impossible for
which has led to the abolition of rights of action in the so-called human foresight to provide for specifically in the statutes. 21
Heart Balm suits in many of the American states. . . . 19
Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which defines a quasi-delict thus:
This notwithstanding, the said Code contains a provision, Article 21, which is
designed to expand the concept of torts or quasi-delict in this jurisdiction by Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there
granting adequate legal remedy for the untold number of moral wrongs which is being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage
impossible for human foresight to specifically enumerate and punish in the statute done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing
books. 20 contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-
delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.
As the Code Commission itself stated in its Report:
is limited to negligent acts or omissions and excludes the notion of
But the Code Commission had gone farther than the sphere of willfulness or intent. Quasi-delict, known in Spanish legal treatises
wrongs defined or determined by positive law. Fully sensible as culpa aquiliana, is a civil law concept while torts is an Anglo-American
or common law concept. Torts is much broader than culpa Prior decisions of this Court clearly suggest that Article 21 may be applied in a
aquiliana because it includes not only negligence, but international breach of promise to marry where the woman is a victim of moral seduction. Thus,
criminal acts as well such as assault and battery, false imprisonment and in Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals,25 this Court denied recovery of damages to
deceit. In the general scheme of the Philippine legal system envisioned by the woman because:
the Commission responsible for drafting the New Civil Code, intentional
and malicious acts, with certain exceptions, are to be governed by the . . . we find ourselves unable to say that petitioner
Revised Penal Code while negligent acts or omissions are to be covered is morally guilty of seduction, not only because he is
by Article 2176 of the Civil Code. 22 In between these opposite spectrums approximately ten (10) years younger than the complainant
are injurious acts which, in the absence of Article 21, would have been who was around thirty-six (36) years of age, and as highly
beyond redress. Thus, Article 21 fills that vacuum. It is even postulated enlightened as a former high school teacher and a life insurance
that together with Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code, Article 21 has agent are supposed to be when she became intimate with
greatly broadened the scope of the law on civil wrongs; it has become petitioner, then a mere apprentice pilot, but, also, because the
much more supple and adaptable than the Anglo-American law on court of first instance found that, complainant "surrendered
torts. 23 herself" to petitioner because, "overwhelmed by her love" for
him, she "wanted to bind" him by having a fruit of their
In the light of the above laudable purpose of Article 21, We are of the opinion, and engagement even before they had the benefit of clergy.
so hold, that where a man's promise to marry is in fact the proximate cause of the
acceptance of his love by a woman and his representation to fulfill that promise In Tanjanco vs. Court of Appeals, 26 while this Court likewise hinted at possible
thereafter becomes the proximate cause of the giving of herself unto him in a recovery if there had been moral seduction, recovery was eventually denied
sexual congress, proof that he had, in reality, no intention of marrying her and that because We were not convinced that such seduction existed. The following
the promise was only a subtle scheme or deceptive device to entice or inveigle her enlightening disquisition and conclusion were made in the said case:
to accept him and to obtain her consent to the sexual act, could justify the award
of damages pursuant to Article 21 not because of such promise to marry but
The Court of Appeals seem to have overlooked that the
because of the fraud and deceit behind it and the willful injury to her honor and
example set forth in the Code Commission's memorandum
reputation which followed thereafter. It is essential, however, that such injury
refers to a tort upon a minor who had been seduced. The
should have been committed in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or
essential feature is seduction, that in law is more than mere
public policy.
sexual intercourse, or a breach of a promise of marriage; it
connotes essentially the idea of deceit, enticement, superior
In the instant case, respondent Court found that it was the petitioner's "fraudulent power or abuse of confidence on the part of the seducer to
and deceptive protestations of love for and promise to marry plaintiff that made which the woman has yielded (U.S. vs. Buenaventura, 27 Phil.
her surrender her virtue and womanhood to him and to live with him on the honest 121; U.S. vs. Arlante, 9 Phil. 595).
and sincere belief that he would keep said promise, and it was likewise these fraud
and deception on appellant's part that made plaintiff's parents agree to their
It has been ruled in the Buenaventura case (supra) that
daughter's living-in with him preparatory to their supposed marriage." 24 In short,
the private respondent surrendered her virginity, the cherished possession of every
single Filipina, not because of lust but because of moral seduction the kind To constitute seduction there must in all
illustrated by the Code Commission in its example earlier adverted to. The cases be some sufficient promise or
petitioner could not be held liable for criminal seduction punished under either inducement and the woman must yield
Article 337 or Article 338 of the Revised Penal Code because the private because of the promise or other
respondent was above eighteen (18) years of age at the time of the seduction. inducement. If she consents merely from
carnal lust and the intercourse is from
mutual desire, there is no seduction (43
Cent. Dig. tit. Seduction, par. 56) She must promises of marriage, and would have cut short all sexual
be induced to depart from the path of relations upon finding that defendant did not intend to fulfill his
virtue by the use of some species of arts, defendant did not intend to fulfill his promise. Hence, we
persuasions and wiles, which are calculated conclude that no case is made under article 21 of the Civil
to have and do have that effect, and which Code, and no other cause of action being alleged, no error was
result in her person to ultimately submitting committed by the Court of First Instance in dismissing the
her person to the sexual embraces of her complaint. 27
seducer (27 Phil. 123).
In his annotations on the Civil Code, 28 Associate Justice Edgardo L. Paras, who
And in American Jurisprudence we find: recently retired from this Court, opined that in a breach of promise to marry where
there had been carnal knowledge, moral damages may be recovered:
On the other hand, in an action by the
woman, the enticement, persuasion or . . . if there be criminal or moral seduction, but not if the
deception is the essence of the injury; and a intercourse was due to mutual lust. (Hermosisima vs. Court of
mere proof of intercourse is insufficient to Appeals,
warrant a recovery. L-14628, Sept. 30, 1960; Estopa vs. Piansay, Jr., L-14733, Sept.
30, 1960; Batarra vs. Marcos, 7 Phil. 56 (sic); Beatriz Galang vs.
Accordingly it is not seduction where the Court of Appeals, et al., L-17248, Jan. 29, 1962). (In other
willingness arises out of sexual desire of words, if the CAUSE be the promise to marry, and the EFFECT
curiosity of the female, and the defendant be the carnal knowledge, there is a chance that there
merely affords her the needed opportunity was criminal or moral seduction, hence recovery of moral
for the commission of the act. It has been damages will prosper. If it be the other way around, there can
emphasized that to allow a recovery in all be no recovery of moral damages, because here mutual lust has
such cases would tend to the intervened). . . .
demoralization of the female sex, and
would be a reward for unchastity by which together with "ACTUAL damages, should there be any, such as the
a class of adventuresses would be swift to expenses for the wedding presentations (See Domalagon v. Bolifer, 33
profit. (47 Am. Jur. 662) Phil. 471).

xxx xxx xxx Senator Arturo M. Tolentino 29 is also of the same persuasion:

Over and above the partisan allegations, the fact stand out that It is submitted that the rule in Batarra vs. Marcos, 30 still
for one whole year, from 1958 to 1959, the plaintiff-appellee, a subsists, notwithstanding the incorporation of the present
woman of adult age, maintain intimate sexual relations with article31 in the Code. The example given by the Code
appellant, with repeated acts of intercourse. Such conduct is Commission is correct, if there was seduction, not necessarily in
incompatible with the idea of seduction. Plainly there is here the legal sense, but in the vulgar sense of deception. But when
voluntariness and mutual passion; for had the appellant been the sexual act is accomplished without any deceit or qualifying
deceived, had she surrendered exclusively because of the circumstance of abuse of authority or influence, but the
deceit, artful persuasions and wiles of the defendant, she woman, already of age, has knowingly given herself to a man, it
would not have again yielded to his embraces, much less for cannot be said that there is an injury which can be the basis for
one year, without exacting early fulfillment of the alleged indemnity.
But so long as there is fraud, which is characterized by enjoy a life of ease and security. Petitioner clearly violated the Filipino's concept of
willfulness (sic), the action lies. The court, however, must weigh morality and brazenly defied the traditional respect Filipinos have for their women.
the degree of fraud, if it is sufficient to deceive the woman It can even be said that the petitioner committed such deplorable acts in blatant
under the circumstances, because an act which would deceive a disregard of Article 19 of the Civil Code which directs every person to act with
girl sixteen years of age may not constitute deceit as to an justice, give everyone his due and observe honesty and good faith in the exercise of
experienced woman thirty years of age. But so long as there is a his rights and in the performance of his obligations.
wrongful act and a resulting injury, there should be civil liability,
even if the act is not punishable under the criminal law and No foreigner must be allowed to make a mockery of our laws, customs and
there should have been an acquittal or dismissal of the criminal traditions.
case for that reason.
The pari delicto rule does not apply in this case for while indeed, the private
We are unable to agree with the petitioner's alternative proposition to the effect respondent may not have been impelled by the purest of intentions, she eventually
that granting, for argument's sake, that he did promise to marry the private submitted to the petitioner in sexual congress not out of lust, but because of moral
respondent, the latter is nevertheless also at fault. According to him, both parties seduction. In fact, it is apparent that she had qualms of conscience about the entire
are in pari delicto; hence, pursuant to Article 1412(1) of the Civil Code and the episode for as soon as she found out that the petitioner was not going to marry her
doctrine laid down in Batarra vs. Marcos, 32 the private respondent cannot recover after all, she left him. She is not, therefore, in pari delicto with the petitioner. Pari
damages from the petitioner. The latter even goes as far as stating that if the delicto means "in equal fault; in a similar offense or crime; equal in guilt or in legal
private respondent had "sustained any injury or damage in their relationship, it is fault." 35At most, it could be conceded that she is merely in delicto.
primarily because of her own doing, 33 for:
Equity often interferes for the relief of the less guilty of the
. . . She is also interested in the petitioner as the latter will parties, where his transgression has been brought about by the
become a doctor sooner or later. Take notice that she is a plain imposition of undue influence of the party on whom the
high school graduate and a mere employee . . . (Annex "C") or a burden of the original wrong principally rests, or where his
waitress (TSN, p. 51, January 25, 1988) in a luncheonette and consent to the transaction was itself procured by
without doubt, is in need of a man who can give her economic fraud. 36
security. Her family is in dire need of financial assistance. (TSN,
pp. 51-53, May 18, 1988). And this predicament prompted her
In Mangayao vs. Lasud, 37 We declared:
to accept a proposition that may have been offered by the
petitioner. 34
Appellants likewise stress that both parties being at fault, there
should be no action by one against the other (Art. 1412, New
These statements reveal the true character and motive of the petitioner. It is clear
Civil Code). This rule, however, has been interpreted as
that he harbors a condescending, if not sarcastic, regard for the private respondent
applicable only where the fault on both sides is, more or less,
on account of the latter's ignoble birth, inferior educational background, poverty
equivalent. It does not apply where one party is literate or
and, as perceived by him, dishonorable employment. Obviously then, from the very
intelligent and the other one is not. (c.f. Bough vs. Cantiveros,
beginning, he was not at all moved by good faith and an honest motive. Marrying
40 Phil. 209).
with a woman so circumstances could not have even remotely occurred to him.
Thus, his profession of love and promise to marry were empty words directly
intended to fool, dupe, entice, beguile and deceive the poor woman into believing We should stress, however, that while We find for the private respondent, let it not
that indeed, he loved her and would want her to be his life's partner. His was be said that this Court condones the deplorable behavior of her parents in letting
nothing but pure lust which he wanted satisfied by a Filipina who honestly believed her and the petitioner stay together in the same room in their house after giving
that by accepting his proffer of love and proposal of marriage, she would be able to
approval to their marriage. It is the solemn duty of parents to protect the honor of
their daughters and infuse upon them the higher values of morality and dignity.

WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the challenged decision, the instant


petition is hereby DENIED, with costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
Two questions are suggested by the record. The first concerns the points of
whether or not the contract sanctioned an illicit and immoral purpose. The second
Republic of the Philippines concerns the point, on the supposition that the contract did sanction an illicit and
SUPREME COURT immoral purpose, of whether a lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct as a
Manila notary public.

EN BANC The contract of the spouses, it will be recalled, was executed at a time when the
Spanish Penal Code, as modified by Act No. 1773 was in force. Conceding, however,
that the more liberal provisions of the Revised Penal Code should be given
Panganiban September 9, 1933
application, it is herein provided that the consent or pardon given by the offended
party constitutes a bar to prosecution for adultery or concubinage. In this instance,
JOSE R. PAGANIBAN, complainant, if the spouses should retain their present frame of mind, no prosecution of either
vs. one by the other could be expected. Nevertheless, we think it far from the purpose
ELIAS BORROMEO, respondent. of the Legislature to legalize adultery and concubinage. They still remain crimes,
with the qualification that prosecution cannot be instituted if the offended party
The Respondent in his own behalf. consent to the act or pardon the offender. This is a matter of future contingency
Office of the Solicitor-General Hilado for the Government. and is not matter for legalization in wanton disregard of good morals. We hold the
contract to contain provisions contrary to law, morals and public order, and as a
MALCOLM, J.: consequence not judicially recognizable.

These proceedings looking to the disbarment of the respondent attorney are Passing to the second question, we think there can be no question as to the right of
before us on the representations of the Solicitor-General that the respondent the court to discipline an attorney who, in his capacity as notary public, has been
appear and show cause, if any he has, why he should not be proceeded against for guilty of misconduct. To the office of notary public there is not attached such
professional malpractice. The respondent admits that, in his capacity as notary importance under present conditions as under the Spanish administration. Even so,
public he legalized the document which is the basis of the complaint against him, the notary public exercise duties calling for carefulness and faithfulness. It is for the
and that the document contains provisions contrary to law, morals and good notary to inform himself of the facts to which he intends to certify, and to take part
customs, but by way of defense disclaims any previous knowledge of the illegal in no illegal enterprise. The notary public is usually a person who has been
character of the document. admitted to the practice of law, and such, in the commingling of his duties as
notary and lawyer, must be held responsible for both. We are led to hold that a
member of the bar who performs an act as a notary public of a disgraceful or
On November 25, 1931, Alejandro Pabro and Juana Mappala husband and wife, immoral character may be held to account by the court even to the extent of
subscribed a contract before the notary public Elias Borromeo, who was at that disbarment. (See 2 Thornton on Attorneys At Law, pp. 1258, 1259; In re Chappell
time a regularly admitted member of the Philippine Bar. The contract in question [1909], 115 N.Y.S., 868; In re Bernard [1912], 136 N.Y.S., 185; In re Arctander
had been prepared by the municipal secretary of Naguilian, Isabela. Attorney [1879], 1 N.W., 43; In re Terrell [1903], 2 Phil., 266; In re Adriatico [1906], 7 Phil.,
Borromeo cooperated in the execution of the document and had, at lease, some 173; U.S. vs. Kilayko [1916], 34 Phil., 796; De la Cruz vs. Capinpin and Albea [1918],
knowledge of its contents, although he may not have been fully informed because 38 Phil., 492.)
of a difference in dialect. The contract in substance purported to formulate an
agreement between the husband and the wife which permitted the husband to
take unto himself a concubine and the wife to live in adulterous relationship with It now becomes necessary to pronounce sentence. As mitigating circumstances,
another man, without opposition from either one of them. there may be taken into consideration (1) that the attorney may not have realized
the full purport of the document to which he took acknowledgment, (2) that no
falsification of facts was attempted, and (3) that the commission of the respondent
as a notary public has been revoked. Accordingly, we are disposed in this case to
exercise clemency and to confine our discipline of the respondent to severe
censure. So ordered.

Avancea, C.J., Street, Villa-Real, Abad Santos, Hull, Vickers, and Imperial,
JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines whether the full amount or any portion thereof was paid or, as contended by the
SUPREME COURT respondent, the service were rendered free of charge.
Manila
The respondent did not deny the preparation of Exhibit A, put up the defense that
EN BANC he had the idea that seven years separation of husband and wife would entitle
either of them to contract a second marriage and for that reason prepared Exhibit
A.C. No. 932 June 21, 1940 A, but immediately after the execution of said document he realized that he had
made a mistake and for that reason immediately sent for the contracting parties
who, on June 30, 1939, came to his office and signed the deed of cancellation
In re ATTY. ROQUE SANTIAGO, respondent,
Exhibit A.

Office of the Solicitor-General Ozaeta as petitioner-complainant.


There is no doubt that the contract Exhibit A executed by and between the spouses
Ernesto Baniquit and Soledad Colares upon the advice of the respondent and
LAUREL, J.: prepared by the latter as a lawyer and acknowledged by him as a notary public is
contrary to law, moral, and tends to subvert the vital foundation of the family. The
This is an administrative case initiated upon complaint of the Solicitor-General advice given by the respondent, the preparation and acknowledgment by him of
against the respondent Roque Santiago, charging the latter with malpractice and the contract constitute malpractice which justifies disbarment from the practice of
praying that disciplinary action be taken against him. law. The admission of a lawyer to the practice of law is upon the implied condition
that his continued enjoyment of the privilege conferred is dependent upon his
It appears that one Ernesto Baniquit, who was living then separately from his wife remaining a fit and safe person to society. When it appears that he, by recklessness
Soledad Colares for some nine consecutive years and who was bent on contracting or sheer ignorance of the law, is unfit or unsafe to be entrusted with the
a second marriage, sought the legal advice of the respondent, who was at the time responsibilities and obligations of a lawyer, his right to continue in the enjoyment
a practicing and notary public in the Province of Occidental Negros. The of this professional privilege should be declared terminated. In the present case,
respondent, after hearing Baniquit's side of the case, assured the latter that he respondent was either ignorant of the applicable provision of the law or carelessly
could secure a separation from his wife and marry again, and asked him to bring his negligent in giving the complainant legal advice. Drastic action should lead to his
wife on the afternoon of the same day, May 29, 1939. This was done and the disbarment and this is the opinion of some members of the court. The majority,
respondent right then and there prepared the document Exhibit A in which it was however, have inclined to follow the recommendation of the investigator, the
stipulated, among other things, that the contracting parties, who are husband and Honorable Sotero Rodas, in view of the circumstances stated in the report of said
wife authorized each other to marry again, at the same time renouncing or waiving investigator and the fact that immediately after discovering his mistakes,
whatever right of action one might have against the party so marrying. After the respondent endeavored to correct it by making the parties sign another document
execution and acknowledgment of Exhibit A by the parties, the respondent asked cancelling the previous one.
the spouses to shake hands and assured them that they were single and as such
could contract another and subsequent marriage. Baniquit then remarked, "Would The respondent Roque Santiago is found guilty of malpractice and is hereby
there be no trouble?" Upon hearing it the respondent stood up and, pointing to his suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year. So ordered.
diploma hanging on the wall, said: "I would tear that off if this document turns out
not to be valid." Relying on the validity of Exhibit A, Ernesto Baniquit, on June 11,
1939, contracted a second marriage with Trinidad Aurelio. There is also evidence to
show that the respondent tried to collect for this service the sum of P50, but as the
evidence on this point is not clear and the same is not material in the resolution of
the present case, we do not find it necessary to make any express finding as to
Republic of the Philippines He argues that to give the prohibition against an extrajudicial liquidation of the
SUPREME COURT conjugal partnership during the marriage "an unqualified and literal legal
Manila construction" would lender nugatory the aforequoted provisions of article 191. He
cites Lacson vs. San Jose-Lacson, L-23482, L-23767 and L-24259, August 30, 1968,
SECOND DIVISION 24 SCRA 837 as authority for the propriety of an extrajudicial agreement for the
dissolution during the marriage of the conjugal partnership as long as the
agreement is subsequently approved by the court.

However, the respondent overlooks the unmistakable ruling of this Court in


A.M. No. 804-CJ May 19, 1975
the Lacson case that judicial sanction for the dissolution of the conjugal partnership
during the marriage should be "secured beforehand."
SATURNINO SELANOVA, complainant,
vs.
Respondent Judge surmised that Selanova's complaint was instigated by a lawyer
ALEJANDRO E. MENDOZA, City Judge of Mandaue City, respondent.
whose case was adversely decided by the Judge. That speculation was denied by
Selanova who also belied Judge Mendoza's version that the complainant and his
RESOLUTION wife, Avelina Ceniza, "together with their parents", came to the office of Judge
Mendoza and solicited his help in the amicable settlement of their marital
imbroglio.

AQUINO, J.:+.wph!1 According to Selanova, in 1972 his father was already dead and his mother was
ninety-one years old. They could not possibly have come to Judge Mendoza's
Saturnino Selanova charged Judge Alejandro E. Mendoza of Mandaue City with office. Selanova said that only he and his brother-in-law, Arcadio Ceniza, an alleged
gross ignorance of the law for having prepared and ratified a document dated classmate of Judge Mendoza, were the persons who went to the Judge's office. But
November 21, 1972, extrajudicially liquidating the conjugal partnership of the that version may be inaccurate and oversimplified, considering that the agreement
complainant and his wife, Avelina Ceniza. One condition of the liquidation was that was signed before Judge Mendoza not only by Selanova but also by his wife and
either spouse (as the case may be) would withdraw the complaint for adultery or two witnesses, Lamberts M. Ceniza and Florencio C. Pono.
concubinage which each had filed against the other and that they waived their
"right to prosecute each other for whatever acts of infidelity" either one would Judge Mendoza retired on February 27, 1975 when he reached the age of seventy.
commit against the other. In his letter of April 8, 1975 he asked for a compassionate view of his case
considering his forty-three years' service in the government (he started his public
Judge Mendoza in his comment on the charge purposed to convey the impression career in 1932 as a policeman and became a justice of the peace in 1954). He also
that he was aware of the invalidity of the agreement but he nevertheless ratified it cited the financial predicament of his big family occasioned by the delay in the
and gave it his nihil obstat on the assurance of the spouses that they would ask the payment of his retirement and terminal leave pay.
Court of First Instance of Negros Oriental (where they were residing) to approve
the agreement. That pretension is disbelieved by the Judicial Consultant. The case was not referred to a Judge of the Court of First Instance for investigation
because actually no factual issues necessitate a hearing and presentation of
Respondent Judge alleged that he relied on the provision that "the husband and evidence. Respondent Judge admitted that he was responsible for the execution of
the wife may agree upon the dissolution of the conjugal partnership during the the questioned document, an extrajudicial "Liquidation of Conjugal Properties",
marriage, subject to judicial approval" (Par. 4, Art. 191, Civil Code). which he caused complainant Saturnino Selanova and his wife, Avelina Ceniza, to
sign.
In that instrument Judge Mendoza divided the two pieces of conjugal assets of the Severe censure was also administered to a notary of Cebu City who ratified a
spouses by allocating to the husband a thirteen-hectare riceland and to the wife document entitled "Legal Separation", executed by husband and wife, wherein
the residential house and lot. The last paragraph of the instrument, which licensed they agreed that they separated mutually and voluntarily, that they renounced
either spouse to commit any act of infidelity, was in effect a ratification of their their rights and obligations, and that they authorized each other to remarry,
personal separation. The agreement in question is void because it contravenes the renouncing any action to which they might be entitled and each promising not to
following provisions of the Civil Code:t.hqw be a witness against the other. Those covenants are contrary to law, morals and
good customs and tend to subvert the vital foundation of the legitimate family
ART. 221. The following shall be void and of no effect: (Biton vs. Momongon, 62 Phil. 7).

(1) Any contract for personal separation between husband and In the Santiago case respondent lawyer prepared for a married couple (who had
wife; been separated for nine years) a document wherein it was stipulated, inter alia,
that they authorized each other to marry again, at the same time renouncing
whatever right of action one might have against the other. When the husband
(2) Every extrajudicial agreement, during marriage, for the
inquired if there would be no trouble, respondent lawyer pointed to his diploma
dissolution of the conjugal partnership of gains or of the
which was hanging on the wall and said: "I would tear that off if this document
absolute community of property between husband and wife;
turns out not to be valid." The husband remarried. The respondent was suspended
from the practice of law for one year for having been ignorant of the law or being
xxx xxx xxx careless in giving legal advice (In re Santiago, 70 Phil. 66).

Even before the enactment of the new Civil Code, this Court held that the In Balinon vs. De Leon, 94 Phil. 277, Attorney Celestino M. de Leon prepared an
extrajudicial dissolution of the conjugal partnership without judicial approval was affidavit wherein he declared that he was married to Vertudes Marquez, from
void (Quintana vs. Lerma, 24 Phil. 285; De Luna vs. Linatoc, 74 Phil. 15, De La Rosa whom he had been separated, their conjugal partnership having been dissolved,
vs. Barruga, L-2368, June 30, 1950, 4 ROP Digest 171, sec. 29). and that he was consorting with Regina S. Balinon his "new found life-partner," to
whom he would "remain loyal and faithful" "as a lawful and devoted loving
On the other hand, disciplinary action had been taken against notaries who husband for the rest of" his life "at all costs". Attorney Justo T. Velayo notarized
authenticated agreements for the personal separation of spouses wherein either that affidavit. This Court reprimanded Velayo and suspended De Leon from the
spouse was permitted to commit acts of infidelity. practice of law for three years.

Thus, in Panganiban vs. Borromeo, 58 Phil. 367, a lawyer was severely censured for In the instant case, respondent Judge, due to his unawareness of the legal
having notarized a document containing "an agreement between the husband and prohibition against contracts for the personal separation of husband and wife and
the wife which permitted the husband to take unto himself a concubine and the for the extrajudicial dissolution of their conjugal partnership, prepared the said
wife to live in adulterous relationship with another man, without opposition from void agreement which was acknowledged before him as "City Judge and Notary
either one of them". The document was prepared by another person. Public Ex-Officio". (Because he was admitted to the bar in 1948 and, consequently,
he did not study the new Civil Code in the law school, he might not have been
In that case this Court noted that while adultery and concubinage are private cognizant of its aforecited article 221).
crimes, "they still remain crimes" and a contract legalizing their commission is
"contrary to law, morals and public order, and as a consequence not judicially Taking into account that circumstance and his apparent good faith and honest
recognizable". Since the notary's commission was already revoked, this Court did desire to terminate the marital conflict between the complainant and his wife, we
not disbar him. The fact that he "may not have realized the full purport of the are of the opinion that a drastic penalty should not be imposed on him. But he
document to which he took acknowledgment' was considered mitigating. deserves a severe censure for his mistake in preparing and notarizing the
aforementioned immoral and illegal agreement. Such severe reprimand should not
be an obstacle to his enjoyment of retirement privileges, assuming that there are
no causes for depriving him of such benefits.

WHEREFORE, the respondent is severely censured.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines On November 23, 1973, Sylvia filed with the Superior Court of California, County of
SUPREME COURT San Francisco, a petition for dissolution of marriage against Jose Vicente. In the said
Manila divorce proceedings, Sylvia also filed claims for support and distribution of
properties. It appears, however, that since Jose Vicente was then a Philippine
FIRST DIVISION resident and did not have any assets in the United States, Sylvia chose to hold in
abeyance the divorce proceedings, and in the meantime, concentrated her efforts
to obtain some sort of property settlements with Jose Vicente in the Philippines.
G.R. No. 80965 June 6, 1990

Thus, on March 16, 1977, Sylvia succeeded in entering into a Letter-Agreement


SYLVIA LICHAUCO DE LEON, petitioner,
with her mother-in-law, private respondent Macaria De Leon, which We quote in
vs.
full, as follows (pp. 40-42, Rollo):
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, MACARIA DE LEON AND JOSE VICENTE DE
LEON, respondents.
March 16, 1977
Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala & Cruz for petitioner.
Mrs. Macaria Madrigal de Leon
12 Jacaranda, North Forbes Park
De Jesus & Associates for Macaria de Leon. Makati, Metro Manila

Quisumbing, Torres & Evangelista for Jose Vicente de Leon. Dear Dora Macaria:

This letter represents a contractual undertaking among (A) the


undersigned (B) your son, Mr. Jose Vicente de Leon,
MEDIALDEA, J.: represented by you, and (C) yourself in your personal capacity.

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals in You hereby bind yourself jointly and severally to answer for the
CA-G.R. CV No. 06649 dated June 30, 1987 the decision of the Regional Trial Court undertakings of Joe Vincent under this contract.
of Pasig in SP Proc. No. 8492 dated December 29, 1983; and its resolution dated
November 24, 1987 denying the motion for reconsideration. In consideration for a peaceful and amicable termination of
relations between the undersigned and her lawfully wedded
The antecedent facts are as follows: husband, Jose Vicente de Leon, your son, the following are
agreed upon:

On October 18, 1969, private respondent Jose Vicente De Leon and petitioner
Sylvia Lichauco De Leon were united in wedlock before the Municipal Mayor of Obligations of Jose Vicente de Leon and/ or yourself in a joint
Binangonan, Rizal. On August 28, 1971, a child named Susana L. De Leon was born and several capacity:
from this union.
1. To deliver with clear title free from all liens and
Sometime in October, 1972, a de facto separation between the spouses occured encumbrances and subject to no claims in any form whatsoever
due to irreconcilable marital differences, with Sylvia leaving the conjugal home. the following properties to Sylvia Lichauco-de Leon hereinafter
Sometime in March, 1973, Sylvia went to the United States where she obtained referred to as the wife:
American citizenship.
A. Suite 11-C, Avalon Condominium, Ortigas Ave., corner Xavier objectives of this herein agreement. It is the stated objective of
St., Mandaluyong, Rizal, Philippines. this agreement that said divorce proceedings will continue.

B. Apartment 702, Wack Wack Condominium, Mandaluyong, 3. All the properties herein described for assignment to the
Rizal, Philippines. wife must be assigned to Sylvia Lichauco de Leon upon the
decree of the Court of First Instance in the Joint Petition for
C. The rights to assignment of 2 Ayala lots in Alabang, Rizal Separation of Property; except for the P100,000, $30,000 and
(Corner lots, 801 s q. meters each). (Fully paid). $5,000 which will be paid immediately.

D. 2470 Wexford Ave., South San Francisco, California, U.S.A. 4. This contract is intended to be applicable both in the
(Lot 18 Block 22 Westborough Unit No. 2). (Fully paid). Republic of the Philippines and in the United States of America.
It is agreed that this will constitute an actionable document in
both jurisdictions and the parties herein waive their right to
E. 1) The sum of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000)
object to the use of this document in the event a legal issue
should arise relating to the validity of this document. In the
2) $30,000 event of a dispute, this letter is subject to interpretation under
the laws of California, U.S.A.
3) $5,000
5. To allow her daughter to spend two to three months each
2. To give monthly support payable six (6) months in advance year with the father upon mutual convenience.
every year to any designated assignee of the wife for the care
and upbringing of Susana Lichauco de Leon which is hereby Very truly yours,
pegged at the exchange rate of 7.50 to the dollar subject to
adjustments in the event of monetary exchange fluctuations.
(Sgd.) Sylvia de Leon t/ SYLVIA L. DE LEON
Subsequent increase on actual need upon negotiation.
CONFORME:
s/t/MACARIA M. DE LEON
3. To respect the custody of said minor daughter as pertaining with my marital consent:
exclusively to the wife except as herein provided. s/t/JUAN L. DE LEON

Obligations of the wife: On the same date, Macaria made cash payments to Sylvia in the amount of
P100,000 and US$35,000.00 or P280,000.00, in compliance with her obligations as
1. To agree to a judicial separation of property in accordance stipulated in the aforestated Letter-Agreement.
with Philippine law and in this connection to do all that may be
necessary to secure said separation of property including her On March 30, 1977, Sylvia and Jose Vicente filed before the then Court of First
approval in writing of a joint petition or consent decree. Instance of Rizal a joint petition for judicial approval of dissolution of their conjugal
partnership, the main part of which reads as follows (pp. 37-38, Rollo):
2. To amend her complaint in the United States before the
Federal Court of California, U.S.A. entitled "Sylvia Lichauco de 5. For the best interest of each of them and of their minor child,
Leon vs. Jose V. de Leon" in a manner compatible with the petitioners have agreed to dissolve their conjugal partnership
and to partition the assets thereof, under the following terms
and conditions-this document, a pleading being intended by estate, without the consent of the other, and all earnings from
them to embody and evidence their agreement: any profession, business or industries shall likewise belong to
each spouse.
xxx xxx xxx
On March 17, 1980, Sylvia moved for the execution of the above-mentioned order.
(c) The following properties shall be adjudicated to petitioner However, Jose Vicente moved for a reconsideration of the order alleging that Sylvia
Sylvia Lichauco De Leon. These properties will be free of any made a verbal reformation of the petition as there was no such agreement for the
and all liens and encumbrances, with clear title and subject to payment of P4,500.00 monthly support to commence from the alleged date of
no claims by third parties. Petitioner Jose Vicente De Leon fully separation in April, 1973 and that there was no notice given to him that Sylvia
assumes all responsibility and liability in the event these would attempt verbal reformation of the agreement contained in the joint petition
properties shall not be as described in the previous sentence:
While the said motion for reconsideration was pending resolution, on April 20,
Sedan (1972 model) 1980, Macaria filed with the trial court a motion for leave to intervene alleging that
she is the owner of the properties involved in the case. The motion was granted.
On October 29, 1980, Macaria, assisted by her husband Juan De Leon, filed her
Suite 11-C, Avalon Condominium,
complaint in intervention. She assailed the validity and legality of the Letter-
Ortigas Ave., comer Xavier St.,
Agreement which had for its purpose, according to her, the termination of marital
Mandaluyong, Rizal, Philippines
relationship between Sylvia and Jose Vicente. However, before any hearing could
be had, the judicial reorganization took place and the case was transferred to the-
Apt. 702, Wack-Wack Condominium, Regional Trial Court of Pasig. On December 29, 1983, the trial court rendered
Mandaluyong, Rizal, Philippines judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads (pp. 35-36, Rollo):

The rights to assignment of 2 Ayala lots in Alabang Rizal (corner WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered on the complaint in
lots, 801 sq. meters each) (Fully paid) intervention in favor of the intervenor, declaring null and void
the letter agreement dated March 16, 1977 (Exhibits 'E' to 'E-
2470 Wexford Ave., South San Francisco, California, U.S.A. (Lot 2'), and ordering petitioner Sylvia Lichauco De Leon to restore
18, Block 22 Westborough Unit 2) (Fully paid) to intervenor the amount of P380,000.00 plus legal interest
from date of complaint, and to pay intervenor the amount of
The sum of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) P100,000.00 as and for attorney's fees, and to pay the costs of
suit.

$30,000.00 at current exchange rate


$5,000.00 at current exchange rate Judgment is likewise rendered affirming the order of the Court
dated February 19, 1980 declaring the conjugal partnership of
the spouses Jose Vicente De Leon and Sylvia Lichauco De Leon
After ex-parte hearings, the trial court issued an Order dated February 19, 1980 DISSOLVED; and adjudicating to each of them his or her share
approving the petition, the dispositive portion of which reads (p. 143, Rollo): of the properties and assets of said conjugal partnership in
accordance with the agreement embodied in paragraph 5 of
WHEREFORE, it is hereby declared that the conjugal partnership the petition, except insofar as the adjudication to petitioner
of the Spouses is DISSOLVED henceforth, without prejudice to Sylvia L. De Leon of the properties belonging to and owned by
the terms of their agreement that each spouse shall own, Intervenor Macaria De Leon is concerned.
dispose of, possess, administer and enjoy his or her separate
Henceforth, (a) each spouse shall own, dispose of, possess, It is readily apparent that the use of the word "relations" is ambiguous, perforce, it
administer and enjoy his or her separate estate, present and is subject to interpretation. There being a doubt as to the meaning of this word
future without the consent of the other; (b) an earnings from taken by itself, a consideration of the general scope and purpose of the instrument
any profession, business or industry shall likewise belong to in which it occurs (see Germann and Co. v. Donaldson, Sim and Co., 1 Phil. 63) and
each of them separately; (c) the minor child Susana De Leon Article 1374 of the Civil Code which provides that the various stipulations of a
shall stay with petitioner Sylvia Lichauco De Leon for two to contract shall be interpreted together, attributing to the doubtful ones that sense
three months every year-the transportation both ways of the which may result from all of them taken jointly, is necessary.
child for the trip to the Philippines to be at the expense of the
petitioner Jose Vicente De Leon; and (d) petitioner Jose Vicente Sylvia insists that the consideration for her execution of the Letter-Agreement was
De Leon shall give petitioner Sylvia Lichauco De Leon the sum of the termination of property relations with her husband. Indeed, Sylvia and Jose
P4,500.00 as monthly support for the minor child Susana to Vicente subsequently filed a joint petition for judicial approval of the dissolution of
commence from February 19, 1980. their conjugal partnership, sanctioned by Article 191 of the Civil Code. On the other
hand, Macaria and Jose Vicente assert that the consideration was the termination
Sylvia appealed to the respondent Court of Appeals raising the following errors: of marital relationship.

1) The trial court erred in finding that the cause or consideration of the Letter- We sustain the observations and conclusion made by the trial court, to wit (pp. 44-
Agreement is the termination of marital relations; 46, Rollo):

2) The trial court failed to appreciate testimonial and documentary evidence On page two of the letter agreement (Exhibit' E'), the parties
proving that Macaria de Leon's claims of threat, intimidation and mistake are contemplated not only to agree to a judicial separation of
baseless; and property of the spouses but likewise to continue with divorce
proceedings (paragraphs 1 and 2, Obligations of the Wife,
3) The trial court erred in finding that Sylvia Lichauco de Leon committed breach of Exhibit 'E-1'). If taken with the apparently ambiguous provisions
the Letter-Agreement; and further, failed to appreciate evidence proving Macaria in Exhibit E' regarding termination of 'relations', the parties
de Leon's material breach thereof. clearly contemplated not only the termination of property
relationship but likewise of marital relationship in its entirety.
Furthermore, it would be safe to assume that the parties in
The respondent court affirmed the decision in toto. The motion for reconsideration
Exhibit 'E' not having specified the particular relationship which
was denied. Hence, the present petition.
they wanted to peacefully and amicably terminate had intended
to terminate all kinds of relations, both marital and property.
The only basis by which Sylvia may lay claim to the properties which are the subject While there could be inherent benefits to a termination of
matter of the Letter-Agreement, is the Letter-Agreement itself. The main issue, conjugal property relationship between the spouses, the court
therefore, is whether or not the Letter-Agreement is valid. The third paragraph of could not clearly perceive the underlying benefit for the
the Letter-Agreement, supra, reads: intervenor insofar as termination of property relationship
between petitioners is concerned, unless the underlying
In consideration for a peaceful and amicable termination consideration for intervenor is the termination of marital
of relations between the undersigned and her lawfully wedded relationship by divorce proceedings between her son Jose
husband, Jose Vicente De Leon, your son, the following are Vicente and his wife petitioner Sylvia. The last sentence of
agreed upon: (emphasis supplied) paragraph 2 under "Obligations of the Wife" unequivocally
states: "It is the stated objective of this agreement that said
divorce proceedings (in the United States) will continue. "There
is merit in concluding that the consideration by which relationship between her son Jose Vicente De Leon and Sylvia
Intervenor executed Exhibit 'E' to 'E-2' was to secure freedom Lichauco de Leon.
for her son petitioner Jose Vicente De Leon, especially if Exhibit
'R'-Intervenor, which is (sic) agreement signed by petitioner Article 1306 of the New Civil Code provides:
Sylvia to consent to and pardon Jose Vicente De Leon for
adultery and concubinage (among others) would be considered.
Art. 1306. The contracting parties may establish such
In the light, therefore, of the foregoing circumstances, this
stipulations, clauses, terms, and conditions as they may deem
Court finds credible the testimony of intervenor as follows:
convenient, provided they are not contrary to law, morals,
good customs, public order or public policy.
Q Will you please go over the Exhibit 'E' to
'E-2'- intervenor consisting of three pages
If the stipulation is contrary to law, morals or public policy, the
and inform us whether or not this is the
contract is void and inexistent from the beginning.
letter of March 16, 1977 which you just
referred to?
Art. 1409. The following contracts are inexistent and void from
the beginning:
A Yes, this is the letter.

Those whose cause, object or purpose is contrary to law,


Why did you affix your signature to this Exh.
morals, good customs, public order or public policy;
'E'-intervenor (sic)?

xxx xxx xxx


A Because at that time when I signed it I
want to buy peace for myself and for the
whole family. (7) Those expressly prohibited or declared void by law.

Q From whom did you want to buy peace These contracts cannot be ratified. Neither can the right to set
and/or what kind of peace? up the defense of illegality be waived.

A I wanted to buy peace from Sylvia But marriage is not a mere contract but a sacred social
Lichauco whom I knew was kind of institution. Thus, Art. 52 of the Civil Code provides:
'matapang;' so I want peace for me and
primarily for the peaceful and amicable Art. 52. Marriage is not a mere contract but an inviolable social
termination of marital relationship between institution. Its nature, consequences and incidents are
my son, Joe Vincent and Sylvia. (Deposition governed by law and not subject to stipulations...
dated September 6, 1983-Macaria de Leon,
p. 6-7) From the foregoing provisions of the New Civil Code, this court
is of the considered opinion and so holds that intervenor's
This Court, therefore, finds and holds that the cause or undertaking under Exhibit 'E' premised on the termination of
consideration for the intervenor Macaria De Leon in having marital relationship is not only contrary to law but contrary to
executed Exhibits 'E' to 'E-2' was the termination of the marital Filipino morals and public Policy. As such, any agreement or
obligations based on such unlawful consideration and which is
contrary to public policy should be deemed null and void. the Letter-Agreement. In resolving this issue, the trial court said (pp. 148-
(emphasis supplied) 151, Rollo):

Additionally, Article 191 of the Civil Case contemplates properties belonging to the In her second cause of action, intervenor claims that her signing
spouses and not those belonging to a third party, who, in the case at bar., is of Exhibits 'E' to 'E- 2' was due to a fear of an unpeaceful and
Macaria. In the petition for the dissolution of the conjugal partnership, it was made troublesome separation other son with petitioner Sylvia
to appear that the said properties are conjugal in nature. However, Macaria was Lichauco de Leon. In support of her claim, intervenor testified
able to prove that the questioned properties are owned by her. Neither Sylvia nor as follows:
Jose Vicente adduced any contrary evidence.
Q Will you please inform us how did Sylvia
Granting, in gratia argumenti, that the consideration of the Letter-Agreement was Lichauco disturb or threaten your son or
the termination of property relations, We agree with the respondent court that yourself?
(pp. 46-47, Rollo):
A Despite the fact that Sylvia Lichauco
... the agreement nevertheless is void because it contravenes voluntarily left my son Joe Vincent and
the following provisions of the Civil Code: abandoned him, she unashamedly nagged
Joe and me to get money and when her
Art. 221. The following shall be void and of no effect: demands were not met she resorted to
threats like, she threatened to bring Joe to
court for support. Sylvia threatened to
(1) Any contract for personal separation between husband and
scandalize our family by these baseless
wife;
suits; in fact she caused the service of
summons to Joe when he went to the
(2) Every extra-judicial agreement, during marriage, for the United States. (Intervenor's deposition
dissolution of the conjugal partnership of gains or of the dated Sept. 6, 1983, p. 8).
absolute community of property between husband and wife;
On the other hand, petitioner Sylvia claims that it was
Besides, the Letter-Agreement shows on its face that it was prepared by Sylvia, and intervenor and petitioner Jose Vicente who initiated the move
in this regard, the ambiguity in a contract is to be taken contra proferentem, i.e., to convince her to agree to a dissolution of their conjugal
construed against the party who caused the ambiguity and could have also avoided partnership due to the alleged extra-marital activities of
it by the exercise of a little more care. Thus, Article 1377 of the Civil Code provides: petitioner Jose Vicente de Leon. She testified as follows:
"The interpretation of obscure words of stipulations in a contract shall not favor
the party who caused the obscurity" (see Equitable Banking Corp. vs. IAC, G.R. No.
Q Now in her testimony, Macaria Madrigal
74451, May 25, 1988, 161 SCRA 518).
de Leon also said that you threatened her
by demanding money and nagged her until
Sylvia alleges further that since the nullity of the Letter-Agreement proceeds from she agreed to the letter agreement of
the unlawful consideration solely of Macaria, applying the pari delicto rule, it is March 1977, what can you say about that?
clear that she cannot recover what she has given by reason of the Letter-
Agreement nor ask for the fulfillment of what has been promised her. On her part,
A I think with all the people sitting around
Macaria raises the defenses of intimidation and mistake which led her to execute
with Atty. Quisumbing, Atty. Chuidian, my
father-in-law, my sister-in-law and I, you remarked: 'Punetang Sylvia ito bakit ba niya
know, it can be shown that this was a ako ginugulo. Ipakukulong daw niya si Joe
friendly amicable settlement that they were Vincent kung hindi ko pipirmahan ito. Sana
much really interested in settling down as I matapos na itong problemang ito
was. I think there were certain reasons that pagkapirmang ito,' sabi niya.' (Deposition-
they wanted to get done or planned, being Concepcion Tagudin, Oct. 21, 1983, pp. 10-
at that time Jose was already remarried and 11)
had a child. That since she then found out
that since she was worried about what In her third cause of action, intervenor claims mistake or error
might be, you know, involved in any future in having signed Exhibits '1' to 'E-2' alleging in her testimony as
matters. She just wanted to do what she follows:
could. She just want me out of the picture.
So in no way, it cannot be said that I nagged
Q Before you were told such by your
and threatened her. (TSN dated December
lawyers what if any were your basis to
8, 1983, p. 137-138)
believe that Sylvia would no longer have
inheritance rights from your son, Joe
In resolving this issue, this Court leans heavily on Exhibit 'R'- Vincent?
intervenor, which was not controverted by petitioner Sylvia. A
reading of Exhibit 'R' would show that petitioner Sylvia would
A Well, that was what Sylvia told me. That
consent to and pardon petitioner Jose Vicente, son of
she will eliminate any inheritance rights
intervenor, for possible crimes of adultery and/or concubinage,
from me or my son Joe Vincent's properties
with a sizing attached; that is, the transfer of the properties
if I sign the document amicably. ...
subject herein to her. There appears some truth to the
(Intervenor's deposition-Sept. 6, 1983, pp.
apprehensions of intervenor for in petitioner Sylvia's testimony
9-10).
she confirms the worry of intervenor as follows:'... being at that
time Jose (De Leon) was already remarried and had a child. That
since she (intervenor) found out that, she was worried about On the other hand, petitioner Sylvia claims that intervenor
what might be, you know, involved in any future matters. She could not have been mistaken in her having signed the
just want me out of the picture." The aforesaid fear of document as she was under advice of counsel during the time
intervenor was further corroborated by her witness Concepcion that Exhibits 'E' to 'E-2' was negotiated. To support such claims
Tagudin who testified as follows: by Sylvia Lichauco De Leon, the deposition testimony of Atty.
Vicente Chuidian was presented before this Court:
Q Now, you mentioned that you were
present when Mrs. Macaria De Leon signed Atty. Herbosa: Now you mentioned Atty.
this Exhibit 'E-2, ' will you inform us Norberto Quisumbing, would you be able to
whether there was anything unusual which tell us in what capacity he was present in
you noticed when Mrs. Macaria M. De Leon that negotiation?
signed this Exhibit 'E-2'?
Atty. Chuidian: He was counsel for Dona
A Mrs. Macaria M. De Leon was in a state of Macaria and for Joe Vincent, the spouse of
tension and anger. She was so mad that she
Sylvia. (Deposition of V. Chuidian, imminent and grave evil upon his person or property, or upon
December 16, 1983, p. 8) the person or property of his spouse, descendants or
ascendants, to give his consent.
The New Civil Code provides:
To determine the degree of the intimidation, the age, sex and
Art. 1330. A contract where consent is given through mistake, condition of the person shall be borne in mind.
violence, intimidation, undue influence or fraud is voidable.
A threat to enforce one's claim through competent authority, if
Art. 1331. In order that mistake may invalidate consent, it the claim is just or legal, does not vitiate consent.
should refer to the substance of the thing which is the object of
the contract, or to those conditions which have principally In order that intimidation may vitiate consent and render the contract invalid, the
moved one or both parties to enter into a contract. ... following requisites must concur: (1) that the intimidation must be the determining
cause of the contract, or must have caused the consent to be given; (2) that the
The preponderance of evidence leans in favor of intervenor threatened act be unjust or unlawful; (3) that the threat be real and serious, there
who even utilized the statement of the divorce lawyer of being an evident disproportion between the evil and the resistance which all men
petitioner Sylvia (Mr. Penrod) in support of the fact that can offer, leading to the choice of the contract as the lesser evil; and (4) that it
intervenor was mistaken in having signed Exhibits 'E' to 'E-2' produces a reasonable and well-grounded fear from the fact that the person from
because when she signed said Exhibits she believed that fact whom it comes has the necessary means or ability to inflict the threatened injury.
that petitioner Sylvia would eliminate her inheritance rights and Applying the foregoing to the present case, the claim of Macaria that Sylvia
there is no showing that said intervenor was properly advised threatened her to bring Jose Vicente to court for support, to scandalize their family
by any American lawyer on the fact whether petitioner Sylvia, by baseless suits and that Sylvia would pardon Jose Vicente for possible crimes of
being an American citizen, could rightfully do the same. adultery and/or concubinage subject to the transfer of certain properties to her, is
Transcending, however, the issue of whether there was mistake obviously not the intimidation referred to by law. With respect to mistake as a vice
of fact on the part of intervenor or not, this Court could not. of consent, neither is Macaria's alleged mistake in having signed the Letter-
see a valid cause or consideration in favor of intervenor Agreement because of her belief that Sylvia will thereby eliminate inheritance
Macaria De Leon having signed Exhibits 'E' to 'E-2.' For even if rights from her and Jose Vicente, the mistake referred to in Article 1331 of the Civil
petitioner Sylvia had confirmed Mr. Penrod's statement during Code, supra. It does not appear that the condition that Sylvia "will eliminate her
the divorce proceedings in the United States that she would inheritance rights" principally moved Macaria to enter into the contract. Rather,
undertake to eliminate her hereditary rights in the event of the such condition was but an incident of the consideration thereof which, as discussed
property settlement, under Philippine laws, such contract earlier, is the termination of marital relations.
would likewise be voidable, for under Art. 1347 of the New Civil
Code 'no contract may be entered into upon future inheritance. In the ultimate analysis, therefore, both parties acted in violation of the laws.
However, the pari delicto rule, expressed in the maxims "Ex dolo malo non oritur
We do not subscribe to the aforestated view of the trial court. Article 1335 of the actio" and "In pari delicto potior est conditio defendentis," which refuses remedy
Civil Code provides: to either party to an illegal agreement and leaves them where they are, does not
apply in this case. Contrary to the ruling of the respondent Court that (pp. 47-
48, Rollo):
xxx xxx xxx

... [C]onsequently, intervenor appellees' obligation under the


There is intimidation when one of the contracting parties is
said agreement having been annulled, the contracting parties
compelled by a reasonable and well-grounded fear of an
shall restore to each other that things which have been subject
matter of the contract, their fruits and the price or its interest,
except as provided by law (Art. 1398, Civil Code).

Article 1414 of the Civil Code, which is an exception to the pari delicto rule, is the
proper law to be applied. It provides:

When money is paid or property delivered for an illegal


purpose, the contract may be repudiated by one of the parties
before the purpose has been accomplished, or before any
damage has been caused to a third person. In such case, the
courts may, if the public interest wig thus be subserved, allow
the party repudiating the contract to recover the money or
property.

Since the Letter-Agreement was repudiated before the purpose has been
accomplished and to adhere to the pari delicto rule in this case is to put a premium
to the circumvention of the laws, positive relief should be granted to Macaria.
Justice would be served by allowing her to be placed in the position in which she
was before the transaction was entered into.

With the conclusions thus reached, We find it unnecessary to discuss the other
issues raised.

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of the respondent


Court of Appeals dated June 30, 1987 and its resolution dated November 24, 1987
are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines The plaintiff alleges that during the lifetime of the marriage between himself and
SUPREME COURT the deceased Maria C. Ferrer, they acquired with conjugal partnership funds lots
Manila Nos. 273, 2650, 2680, 2718 and 2764 of the San Francisco de Malabon estate with
the following interest therein; 71% in lot No. 273, 82% in lot No. 2650, 77% in lot
EN BANC No. 2652, 77% in lot No. 2080, 64% in lot No. 2718 and 76% in lot No. 2764; that
plaintiff is the owner of one-half of the said interest in the lots above-mentioned;
that upon the death of Maria C. Ferrer in 1934 plaintiff and defendants became co-
G.R. No. L-16925 March 31, 1962
owners of said properties and defendants managed the properties in trust as co-
owners thereof. Plaintiff prays that the properties above described, acquired as
FABIAN PUGEDA, plaintiff-appellee, conjugal properties by the plaintiff and deceased Maria C. Ferrer, be partitioned -
vs. and one-half thereof be given as share therein of plaintiff.
RAPAEL TRIAS, MIGUEL TRIAS, SOLEDAD TRIAS, assisted by her husband Angel
Sanchez,
The defendants surnamed Trias and Viniegra denied the claims of the plaintiff to
CLARA TRIAS, assisted by her husband Victoriano Salvanera,
the properties described in the complaint, or that said properties had been
GABRIEL TRIAS, minors ROMULO VINIEGRA, GLORIA VINIEGRA
administered by the defendants in trust as co-owners with the plaintiff, and by way
and FERNANDO VINIEGRA, JR., assisted by guardian-ad-litem, Rafael Trias,
of special and affirmative defense they alleged that the properties subject of the
TEOFILO PUGEDA, and VIRGINIA PUGEDA, assisted by her husband Ramon
complaint had been inherited by the defendants from their deceased father
Portugal, defendants-appellants.
Mariano Trias and deceased mother Maria C. Ferrer and had been in possession
and full enjoyment thereof for more than 10 years, peacefully, uninterruptedly,
Placido Ramos for plaintiff-appellee. quietly and adversely under a claim of ownership to the exclusion of all others, and
Cajulis, Trias and Viniegra for defendants-appellants Trias, et al. that plaintiff is estopped from claiming or asserting any rights or participation in
Ramon C. Aquino for defendants-appellants Teofilo Pugeda and Virginia Pugeda. the said properties. Defendants Trias also denied for lack of knowledge and belief
the claim of plaintiff in his complaint that he was married to Maria C. Ferrer and
LABRADOR, J.: that the marriage continued up to the death of the latter in 1934. They further
presented a counterclaim against the plaintiff for the sum of P40,000, this amount
The subject of this action, which was appealed from the Court of First Instance of being what was contributed by them in support of the candidacies of plaintiff when
Cavite, is certain lands acquired from the Friar Lands Estate Administration known running for the office of provincial governor of Cavite. They also filed a
as lots Nos. 225, 226, 269, 311, 1803, 1814, 1816, 1832, 2264, 2265, 2266, 2282, counterclaim for 30 pieces of Spanish gold coins and P5,000 in cash amounting in
2284, 2378, 2412, 2282, 2683, 2685, 2686, 2688, 2722, 3177 and 3178 of the San value to the total sum of P50,000 and a counterclaim for P100,000 which is the
Francisco de Malabon estate located in General Trias, Cavite, a house of strong value of four big parcels of land belonging to the defendants which the plaintiff had
materials, a barn (camarin) also of strong materials, and a store also of strong appropriated for his own use.
materials in General Trias, Cavite and sets of household furniture. The plaintiff
claims participation in the said properties on the ground that the same were The defendants Pugeda joined the plaintiff in the latter's claim that the properties
acquired by him and the deceased Maria C. Ferrer, with whom plaintiff contracted mentioned in plaintiff's complaint were joint properties of the plaintiff and the
marriage in January, 1916 and who died on February 11, 1934. defendants. They also allege that the properties had gone to the management and
control of the defendants Trias who should be required to answer for the fruits and
The defendants Rafael, Miguel, Soledad, Clara, Constancia and Gabriel, all profits thereof during the administration by them of said properties. As cross-claim
surnamed Trias are the children of the deceased Maria C. Ferrer with her first against their co-defendants, they allege that they are each entitled to one-eighth of
husband Mariano Trias, while the defendants Teofilo Pugeda and Virginia Pugeda the properties left by their mother as listed in the first ten paragraphs of the
are children of the plaintiff with said deceased Maria C. Ferrer. complaint, as well as a share of one-eighth each in lots Nos. 98, 2015 of the San
Francisco de Malabon estate and in a parcel of land in Lingad, Litiit in Silang, Cavite
and in 60 heads of cattle.
Plaintiff denied the counterclaim of the defendants Trias and the defendants Trias, baptized on August 26, 1917 and the one who acted as sponsor was a sister-in-law
answering the cross-claim of their co-defendants Pugeda, denied all the allegations of Maria C. Ferrer. The baptismal certificate submitted states that the baptized
contained in the answer of the defendants Pugeda, and further alleged that the child was the issue of the spouses Fabian Pugeda and Maria C. Ferrer. The registry
cross-claim is improper as the same should be the subject of probate proceedings, of said birth was also submitted and it states that the father is Fabian Pugeda and
and the defendants Pugeda are estopped and barred by prescription from claiming the mother is Maria C. Ferrer.
any further right to the properties left by their deceased mother.
It is also not denied that after the marriage, plaintiff cohabited with the deceased
There are two questions or issues raised in the present case. The first is the alleged wife, as husband and wife, until the death of the latter, publicly and openly as
existence of a marriage of Fabian Pugeda and Maria C. Ferrer. The second is the husband and wife. Lastly, a document entitled "Project of Partition" (Exhibit 5-
claim of the plaintiff to various lands acquired from the Friar Lands Estate under Trias) was signed by the parties defendants themselves. The document contains
certificates of sale issued first in the name of Mariano Trias and later assigned to the following significant statement or admission: .
Maria C. Ferrer, but paid for in part during the marriage of plaintiff and Maria C.
Ferrer. A third but minor issue is the claim for furniture alleged by plaintiff to have WHEREAS the parties hereto are the only children and forced heirs of the
been bought by him and Maria C. Ferrer during the marriage, which plaintiff claims said deceased: Rafael, Miguel, Soledad, Clara, Constancia, and Gabriel, all
is in the possession of the defendants. surnamed Trias y Ferrer, are the children of her first marriage with
Mariano Trias, now deceased; and Teofilo and Virginia, both surnamed
On the first issue, the existence of marriage, plaintiff and his witness Ricardo Pugeda y Ferrer,are the children of her second marriage with Fabian
Ricafrente testified that in the afternoon of January 5, 1916, on the eve of Epiphany Pugeda..
or Three Kings, plaintiff and the deceased Maria C. Ferrer went to the office of the
Justice of the Peace, who was then witness Ricardo Ricafrente, to ask the latter to .... That it is hereby agreed by and between the parties hereto that lots
marry them; that accordingly Ricafrente celebrated the desired marriage in the Nos. 3177 and 3178 known as the Buenavista property will be
presence of two witnesses one of whom was Santiago Salazar and another Amado administered by one of the parties to be agreed upon and for said
Prudente, deceased; that after the usual ceremony Ricafrente asked the parties to purpose they appoint MIGUEL F. TRIAS, and all earnings, rentals and
sign two copies of a marriage contract, and after the witnesses had signed the income or profits shall be expended for the improvement and welfare of
same, he delivered one copy to the contracting parties and another to the the said property and for the payment of all claims and accounts of our
President of the Sanitary Division, which officer was at that time the keeper of the deceased mother Maria C. Ferrer, and for the maintenance and
records of the civil register. Plaintiff and his witnesses explained that no celebration education of Teofilo and Virginia Pugeda y Ferrer.
of the marriage was held inspite of the prominence of the contracting parties
because plaintiff was then busy campaigning for the office of Member of the
The judge who heard the evidence, after a review of he testimonial and
Provincial Board and Maria C. Ferrer was already on the family way.
documental evidence, arrived at the conclusion that plaintiff Fabian Pugeda was in
fact married to Maria C. Ferrer on January 5, 1916, this conclusion being borne out
The defendants denied the existence of the marriage and introduced a photostatic not only by the chain of circumstances but also by the testimonies of the witnesses
copy of the record of marriages in the municipality of Rosario, Cavite, in the month to the celebration of the marriage, who appeared to be truthful, as well as by the
of January, 1916, which showed that no record of the alleged marriage existed fact that plaintiff and deceased Maria C. Ferrer lived together as husband and wife
therein; but this absence was explained by the Justice of the Peace that perhaps for eighteen years (1916-1934) and there is a strong presumption that they were
the person who kept the register forgot tomake an entry of the marriage in the actually married.
registry.
On the competency of the evidence submitted by plaintiff to prove the marriage
Other witnesses were introduced to the effect that after the marriage plaintiff lived we cite the following authority: .
in the house of Maria C. Ferrer, which was the house of spouses Mariano Trias and
Maria C. Ferrer. Evidence was also submitted to the effect that the first issue was
Art. 53. As to marriages contracted subsequently, no proof other than When the case was before the Court of Appeals, the attorneys for the defendants
a certificate of the record in the civil register shall be admitted, unless presented a motion for new trial on the ground that they discovered copies of four
such books have never been kept, or have disappeared, or the question documents namely Annexes "A", "B" "C," "D" and "E" Record on Appeal, pp. 108-
arises in litigation, in which cases the marriage may be proved by 117, (The last document is a copy of a court order issued by Judge Manuel V.
evidence of any kind. (p. 27, Civil Code) . Moran approving the project of partition in Case No. 860, Intestate estate of
Mariano Trias) which if admitted might alter the decision. The Court of Appeals
The mere fact that the parish priest who married the plaintiff's natural granted the motion and remanded the case to the Court of First Instance of Cavite
father and mother, while the latter wasin articulo mortis, failed to send a for the consideration of said evidence.
copy of the marriage certificate to the municipal secretary, does not
invalidate said marriage, since it does not appear that in the celebration Upon the return of the case to the Court of First Instance, Judge Primitivo Gonzales
thereof all requisites for its validity were not present, and the forwarding who then presided the court, rendered a new decision. Judge Gonzales found that
of a copy of the marriage certificate not being one of said requisites. the total amount paid by Mariano Trias and Maria C. Ferrer on the lots in question
(Madridejo v. De Leon, 55 Phil., 1) . amounts to only P8,911.84, while the installments paid during the marriage of the
spouses Fabian Pugeda and Maria C. Ferrer totaled P35,146.46. He also found that
Testimony by one of the parties to the marriage, or by one of the lots 3177 and 3178 were paid for during the marriage of Pugeda and Ferrer in the
witnesses to the marriage, has been held to be admissible to prove the total sum of P16,557.32. Judge Gonzales therefore ruled that the two marriages
fact of marriage. The person who officiated at the solemnization is also should participate in the ownership of the lands, according to the actual
competent to testify as an eyewitness to the fact of marriage. (55 C.J.S., contributions made by each marriage in the installments in payment of the lands.
p. 900). The dispositive part of the decision, now subject of the appeal, is as follows: .

In our judgment the evidence submitted shows conclusively that plaintiff Fabian IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATION, the Court hereby renders
Pugeda was in fact married to Maria C. Ferrer, said marriage subsisting from 1916 judgment: .
until 1934, upon the death of the latter, and we affirm the finding of the trial court
to that effect. 1. That lots 2378, 225, 226, 269, 311, 1808, 1804, 1816; 1832, 2264,
2265, 2282, 2284, 2412, 2682, 273, 2650, 2652, 2680, 2718, 2764 (21
On the second issue the evidence introduced at the trial shows that the lands lots) are conjugal assets of Pugeda and Maria C. Ferrer in the proportion
subject of the action were formerly Friar Lands included in the San Francisco de of percentage and indicated in each individual lot;
Malabon Estate, province of Cavite, which were acquired under certificates of sale
in the name of Mariano Trias in the year 1910 and later assigned to his widow 2. That lots 3177 and 3178, since all the installments for the same were
Maria C. Ferrer in the year 1916. The different lots, the dates of their acquisition fully paid during the marriage of Pugeda and Maria C. Ferrer are hereby
and assignment to said Maria C. Ferrer, widow are set forth in a table appended to declared conjugal of the couple Pugeda and Ferrer; and even some of the
this decision as Annex "A". installments for these two lots were paid after the death of Maria C.
Ferrer, they do not loss the character of conjugal property for payments
On the basis of the facts about their acquisition and assignment Judge Lucero were made from the crops thereof;
declared that the lots in question were conjugal properties of Mariano Trias and
Maria C. Ferrer, and consequently decreed that 1/2 thereof, should be adjudicated 3. That since Mariano Trias during his marriage to Maria C. Ferrer
to Mariano Trias, as the latter's share in the conjugal properties, to be divided contributed in the payment for the installments of these 21 lots
among his 6 children at the rate of 1/6 each, and the other half to Maria C. Ferrer, amounting to P8,911.84, half of which must be reimbursed in favor of the
as her share in the conjugal properties, to be assigned to her children by both children or heirs of Mariano Trias to be paid from the mass of the
marriages at the rate of 1/9 each and the balance of 1/9 to widower Fabian Pugeda hereditary estate of Maria C. Ferrer; the other half of P4,455.92 to be
in usufruct. From this judgment the case was appealed to the Court of Appeals.
distributed among all the children or heirs of Maria C. Ferrer in her first Sec. 12. .... When the costs thereof shall have been thus ascertained,
and second marriage to be deducted from the mass of her estate; the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands shall give the said settler and
occupant a certificate which shall set forth in detail that the Government
4. That lots 2266, 2683, 2685, 2686, 2688 and 2722 since all the has agreed to sell to such settler and occupant the amount of land so
installments for these six (6) lots were fully paid during marriage of held by him, at the price so fixed, payable as provided in this Act at the
Mariano Trias and Maria C. Ferrer, they are hereby declared to be office of the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands, in gold coin of the
conjugal between them one half of which must go to the children or United States or its equivalent in Philippine currency, and that upon the
heirs of Mariano Trias, the other half must equally go to the children or payment of the final installment together with all accrued interest the
heirs of Maria C. Ferrer in her first and second marriage; Government will convey to such settler and occupant the said land so
held by him by proper instrument of conveyance, which shall be issued
and become effective in the manner provided in section one hundred and
5. That Miguel Trias as administrator of all the properties which
twenty-two of the Land Registration Act. ...
commenced after the death of his mother who died on February 11,
1934, must render an accounting of his administration within three (3)
months time from the date this judgment has become final. Sec. 13. The acceptance by the settler and occupant of such certificate
shall be considered as an agreement by him to pay the purchase price so
fixed and in the installments and at the interest specified in the
6. That defendants Trias to pay the costs of this action. (Record on
certificate, and he shall by such acceptance become a debtor to the
Appeal, pp. 154-156) .
Government in that amount together with all accrued interest. ....
Provided however, That every settler and occupant who desires to
Against this ruling the appeal has come to this Court. Defendants-appellants claim purchase his holding must enter into the agreement to purchase such
that Judge Gonzales had no power or authority to change the decision of Judge holding by accepting the said certificate and executing the said receipt
Lucero, as it was not he but Judge Lucero himself, who had heard the evidence. whenever called on so to do by the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands,
They have also assigned before Us a set of errors which may be boiled down to the and a failure on the part of the settler and occupant to comply with this
three main issues set forth above. As the issue of marriage has already been requirement shall be considered as a refusal to purchase, and he shall be
considered we will now pass to the second and more important question as to ousted as above provided and thereafter his holding may be leased or
whether the land subject of the action may be considered conjugal properties of sold as in case of unoccupied lands: ....
the first marriage or of the second or of both.
Sec. 15. The Government hereby reserves the title to each and every
A consideration of the legal nature and character of the acquisition of the various parcel of land sold under the provisions of this Act until the full payment
lots is necessary that the issues in the action may be justly determined. of all installments of purchase money and interest by the purchaser has
been made, and any sale or incumbrance made by him shall be invalid as
A study of the provisions of the Friar Lands Act (Act No. 1120) discloses that the against the Government of the Philippine Islands and shall be in all
friar lands were purchased by the government for sale to actual occupants (actual respects subordinate to its prior claim.
settler and occupants at the time said land are acquired by the
Government). (Paragraph 3 of Declaration of Purposes, Act 1120). The said act Sec. 16. In the event of the death of a holder of a certificate the
expressly declares that the land are not public land in the sense in which this word issuance of which is provided for in section twelve hereof, prior to the
is used in the Public Land Act, and their acquisition is not governed by the execution of a deed by the Government to any purchaser, his widow shall
provisions of the Public Land Act (Par. IV, Declaration of Purposes, Id.) . be entitled to receive a deed of the land stated in the certificate upon
showing that she has complied with the requirements of law for the
The pertinent provisions of said Act No. 1120 are as follows: . purchase of the same. In case a holder of a certificate dies before the
giving of the deed and does not leave a widow, then the interest of the
holder of the certificate shall descend and deed shall issue to the persons an applicant or to a qualified bidder the successful bidder is given a right of entry to
who under the laws of the Philippine Islands would have taken had the occupy the land and cultivate and improve it (Secs. 22-28, Commonwealth Act
title been perfected before the death of the holder of the certificate, 141). It is only after satisfying the requirements of cultivation and improvement of
upon proof of the holders thus entitled of compliance with all the 1/5 of the land that the applicant is given a sales patent (Sec. 30).
requirements of the certificate. In case the holder of the certificate shall
have sold his interest in the land before having complied with all the In the case of friar lands the purchaser becomes the owner upon issuance of the
conditions thereof, the purchaser from the holder of the certificate shall certificate of sale in his favor, subject only to cancellation thereof in case the price
be entitled to all the rights of the holder of the certificate upon agreed upon is not paid. In case of sale of public lands if the applicant dies and his
presenting his assignment to the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands for widow remarries both she and the second husband are entitled to the land; the
registration. (Vol. III, Public Laws, pp. 315-316). new husband has the same right as his wife. Such is not the case with friar lands. As
indicated in Section 16 of Act 1120, if a holder of a certificate dies before the
A study of the above quoted provisions clearly indicates that the conveyance payment of the price in full, the sale certificate is assigned to the widow, but if the
executed in favor of a buyer or purchaser, or the so-called certificate of sale, is a buyer does not leave a widow, the right to the friar lands is transmitted to his heirs
conveyance of the ownership of the property, subject only to the resolutory at law.
condition that the sale may be cancelled if the price agreed upon is not paid for in
full. In the case at bar the sale certificates were made in favor of Mariano Trias, and It is true that the evidence shows that of the various parcels of land now subject of
upon his death they were assigned in accordance with Sec. 16, to his widow. But the action none was paid for in full during the marriage of Mariano Trias and Maria
the law provides that when the buyer does not leave a widow, the rights and C. Ferrer, and that payments in installments continued to be made even after the
interests of the holder of the certificate of sale are left to the buyer's heirs in marriage of Pugeda and Maria C. Ferrer on January 5, 1916. But it is also true that
accordance with the laws of succession. In the case of the Director of Lands, et al. even after said marriage the certificates of sale were assigned to Maria C. Ferrer
vs. Ricardo Rizal, et al., G.R. No. 2925 prom. December 29, 1950, this court thru Mr. and installments for the lots after said marriage continued in the name of Maria C.
Justice Montemayor held: . Ferrer; also all the amounts paid as installments for the lots were taken from the
fruits of the properties themselves, according to the admission of plaintiff Fabian
... All this clearly and inevitably leads to the conclusion that the Pugeda himself, thus: .
purchaser, even before the payment of the full price and before the
execution of the final deed of conveyance, is considered by the law as the Mr. Viniegra:
actual owner of the lot purchased, under obligation to pay in full the
purchase price, the role or position of the Government being that of a
Q De los productos de pesos terrenos, durante la administracion por
mere lien holder or mortgagee.
los demandados, recibia Vd. su participation?

... In conclusion, we find and hold that in the sale of a Friar Lands lot or
A No, seor.
parcel under Act 1120, pending payment in full of the purchase price,
altho the Government reserves title thereto, merely for its protection,
the beneficial and equitable title is in the purchaser, and that any Q Nunca? .
accretion received by the lot even before payment of the last installment
belongs to the purchaser thereof. A Because I know there are obligations to be paid to the Bureau of
Lands, and I have been informed that the obligations have been paid
We also invite attention to the fact that a sale of friar lands is entirely different annually from the products of the land.
from a sale of public lands under the provisions of the Public Land Act. In the case
of public lands, a person who desires to acquire must first apply for the parcel of Q Therefore, from the products of these lands - the proceeds - the
land desired. Thereafter, the land is opened for bidding. If the land is awarded to obligations to the Bureau of Lands are being discounted from the said
proceeds and after the remainder, as in palay, are equally divided, is that Mariano Trias in the conjugal properties, the other 1/2 being awarded to Maria C.
what you mean to say ? . Ferrer.

A Perhaps they were following the practice that, from the products of The above considerations, factual and legal, lead us to the inevitable conclusion
the lands the obligations to the Bureau of Lands would be paid. that the friar lands purchased as above described and paid for, had the character of
conjugal properties of the spouses Mariano Trias and Maria C. Ferrer. But another
Court: . compelling legal reason for this conclusion as against plaintiff, is the judicial
pronouncement on said nature of the lands in question. In the year 1915, even
before the marriage of plaintiff and Maria C. Ferrer took place, the latter was
Q Pero Vd. no ha recibido ninguna cantidad, o sea les darian alguna
appointed administratrix of the estate of her deceased husband Mariano Trias in
participation?
Civil Case No. 860 of the Court of First Instance of Cavite (Exh. "1" Trias). An
inventory of the estate left by the deceased Mariano Trias, dated January 15, 1929,
A No seor, porque estaba en Manila, but they informed me that the was submitted by her and on April 10, 1929, the project of partition of the
obligations to the Bureau of Lands were being paid from the products of properties was submitted. The project includes the friar lands subject of the action,
the lands. and in accordance with it one-half of the properties listed in the inventory was
adjudicated to the deceased Mariano Trias as his share and the other half
Mr. Viniegra: . adjudicated to Maria C. Ferrer also as her share. The share of Mariano Trias was
decreed in favor of his children and heirs. This project of partition was approved by
Q You do not claim any participation in the remainder of the products Judge Manuel V. Moran in an order dated February 11, 1929, submitted to the
after paying the Bureau of Lands? . Court of Appeals as Annex "E", pp. 114-115 of the record on appeal.

A How would I ask for I knew they were still paying the obligations to The pendency of the above intestate proceedings for the settlement of the estate
the Bureau of Lands - that was until the Japanese time, and I knew some of Mariano Trias must have been known to plaintiff Fabian Pugeda, who is a
obligations were not paid, as a result of which the sales certificates of lawyer. It does not appear, and neither does he claim or allege, that he ever
some big lots were cancelled. appeared in said proceedings to claim participation in the properties subject of the
proceedings. His failure to intervene in the proceedings to claim that the friar lands
or some of them belonged to himself and his wife Maria C. Ferrer, shows a
Court: conviction on his part that the said friar lands actually belonged to the spouses
Mariano Trias and Maria C. Ferrer, and that he had no interest therein. The project
Q Como se mantenia Vd.? . of partition was approved as late as 1929, by which time plaintiff and defendant
had already been married for a period of 13 years. Plaintiff's failure to assert any
A Mi madre tenia la casa en Manila y ella recibia alguna renta. My claim to the properties in the said intestate proceedings during its pendency now
mother helped me. (Session of November 20, 1951, before Judge A. G. bars him absolutely from asserting the claim that he now pretends to have to said
Lucero, pp. 259-261, Matro.) (Brief for Defendants-Appellants, pp. 49-51). properties.

There is another reason why the above conclusion must be upheld in the case at We will now proceed to consider plaintiff's claim that the lands in question had,
bar, and that is the fact that in the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of through the joint effort of himself and his wife, increased in productivity from 900
the deceased Mariano Trias, which was instituted in August 1915, the inventory of cavans to 2,400 cavans of rice because of the introduction therein of improvements
the estate left by said deceased included the lots purchased from the Friar Lands such as a system of irrigation for the lands. If, as admitted by plaintiff himself, the
Estates (Exh. 2, Trias) and the project of partition in said special proceedings installments remaining unpaid were taken from the produce or the yield of the said
submitted to the court as Exh. 3-Trias adjudicated 1/2 of said lands as the share of lands and if it be taken into account that one-half of said lands already belonged to
the children of the first marriage, to whom the lands were adjudicated in the until February, 1948 when plaintiff demanded his share in the properties and later
settlement of the estate of their father, the deceased Mariano C. Trias, the only brought this action.
portion of the products or produce of the lands in which plaintiff could claim any
participation is the one-half share therein produced from the paraphernal The period of around 13 years therefore elapsed before plaintiff instituted this
properties of Maria C. Ferrer. How much of said produce belonging to Maria C. action. Consequently, whatever rights he may have had to any portion of the estate
Ferrer was actually used in the improvement of the lands is not shown, but the fact left by the deceased Maria C. Ferrer, as a usufructuary or otherwise, must be
that plaintiff was engaged in continuous political campaigns, ever since his deemed to have prescribed. As a consequence, we find that the order of Judge
marriage in 1916 (he had devoted most of his time while married to Maria C. Ferrer Lucero granting to the plaintiff herein one-ninth share in the estate of the deceased
to politics), portions of the products of the paraphernal properties of Maria C. Maria C. Ferrer in usufruct should be set aside and the objection to the grant of
Ferrer must have been used in these political campaigns as well as in meeting the such share to plaintiff on the ground of prescription is sustained.
expenses of the conjugal partnership. The value of the useful improvements
introduced on the lands, joint properties of Maria C. Ferrer and her children, was
Having disposed of the claims of plaintiff Fabian Pugeda, we will now proceed to
not proved in court by plaintiff. Hence the provisions of Article 1404 of the old Civil
consider the cross-claim of his children, namely, Teofilo Pugeda and Virginia
Code, to the effect that useful expenditures for the benefit of the separate
Pugeda. Judge Lucero decreed that the properties left by the deceased Maria C.
properties of one of the spouses are partnership properties, cannot be applied. But
Pugeda, be divided among her children, including the two cross-claimants Teofilo
even if such useful improvements had been proved, the statute of limitations bars
Pugeda and Virginia Pugeda, and decreed one-ninth of the properties of the said
plaintiff' action to recover his share therein because Maria C. Ferrer died in 1934,
deceased Maria C. Ferrer to each of these two children of hers with the plaintiff
whereas the present action was instituted by plaintiff only in the year 1948. After
and assigning also to the plaintiff one-ninth share in the said estate left by her in
the death of Maria C. Ferrer, plaintiff came to Manila, took a second wife, and was
usufruct.
not heard from for 14 years, that is, until he instituted this action in 1948. His claim
for the improvements, if any, is therefore also barred. 1wph1.t
In view of our finding that the claim of the plaintiff to any share in the estate of his
wife Maria C. Ferrer is already barred by the statute of limitations, the decree
The above ruling, that the action to demand his share in the value of the
entered by Judge Lucero declaring that her properties be divided into nine parts,
improvements in the paraphernal properties of Maria C. Ferrer is barred, is also
one part belonging to each heir and one to plaintiff in usufruct, is hereby modified,
applicable to the claim of the plaintiff herein for the construction alleged to have
by eliminating the share in usufruct of the plaintiff therein and increasing the share
been made and the furniture supposedly bought by him and his spouse Maria C.
of each of her heirs to one-eighth.
Ferrer, and which had the character of conjugal partnership property of said
spouses. In the year 1935, defendants herein presented a project of partition to
plaintiff for his signature (the project of partition is dated March, 1935 and is mark FOR ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the plaintiff's complaint is hereby
Exhibit "5"-Trias). In this project of partition of the properties of the deceased dismissed, and the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Cavite, Hon. Antonio
Maria C. Ferrer, mention is made of the participation of the plaintiff's children with C. Lucero, presiding, decreeing the division of the properties of the deceased Maria
the deceased Maria C. Ferrer, but no mention is made therein of any participation C. Ferrer among her eight children and plaintiff, is hereby modified in the sense
that plaintiff had or could have as usufruct or otherwise, or in any building or that all of her properties be divided among her eight children at the rate of one-
improvement. This deed of partition was shown to plaintif but the latter did not eight per child. As thus modified, the judgment of Judge Lucero is hereby affirmed.
sign it. Without costs.

The express omission of the name of plaintiff here in the above deed of partition as Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Barrera, Paredes, Dizon and De Leon, JJ., concur.
one of the heirs of the deceased Maria C. Ferrer was enough notice to plaintiff that Bengzon, C.J. and Padilla, J., took no part.
defendants had intended to deprive him of any share or participation in the
properties left by the deceased Maria C. Ferrer, even of the usufruct that the law
assigns to him. But in spite of his knowledge of this fact no action was taken by him
Republic of the Philippines respondent from that portion finding him ineligible, and petitioner from that
SUPREME COURT portion holding he cannot be declared elected as mayor for lack of sufficient legal
Manila grounds to do so.

EN BANC The case was originally taken to the Court of Appeals. However, as the latter court
found that while petitioner raises in his brief only questions of law respondent
G.R. No. L-8014 March 14, 1955 raises both questions of law and fact, and both appeals are indivisible in that they
pertain to only one case, that court resolved to certify it to this Court pursuant to
the provisions of sections 17 and 31 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, upon the theory
PEDRO V. VILAR, petitioner-appellant,
that one of the appeals is exclusively cognizable by the Supreme Court.
vs.
GAUDENCIO V. PARAISO, respondent-appellant.
The only issue before us is whether respondent, being an ecclesiastic, is ineligible
to hold office under section 2175 of the Revised Administrative Code, or whether
Claro M. Recto and Jose Nava for petitioner-appellant.
he actually resigned as minister before the date of the elections, and his
Josefina R. Phodaca and Naomi P. Salvador for respondent-appellant.
resignation duly accepted, as claimed, thereby removing his disability. As may be
noted, this is a question of fact the determination of which much depends upon
BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.: the credibility and weight of the evidence of both parties.

In the general elections held on November 13, 1951, Pedro V. Vilar and Gaudencio The evidence for petitioner tends to show that respondent was ordained as
V. Paraiso were among the candidates registered and voted for the office of mayor minister of the Evangelical Church of the Philippines in 1944 and as such was given
of Rizal, Nueva Ecija. after the canvass was made, Vilar obtained 1,467 votes while license to solemnize marriages by the Bureau of Public Libraries; that since 1944 up
Paraiso garnered 1,509, and as a result the municipal board of canvassers to 1950 he acted as minister in the town of Rizal, Nueva Ecija, continuously and
proclaimed the latter as the mayor duly elected with a plurality of 41 votes. without interruption and has been renewing his license to solemnize marriages as
However, contending that Paraiso was ineligible to hold office as mayor because he prescribed by the regulations of the Bureau of Public Libraries; that on April 19,
was then a minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and such was 1950, respondent transferred to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines,
disqualified to be a candidate under section 2175 of the Revised Administrative having been assigned to work in the same place and chapel during the years 1944-
Code, Vilar instituted the present quo warranto proceedings praying that Paraiso 1950; that on April 7, 1951, respondent applied for, and was issued, a license to
be declared ineligible to assume office and that his proclamation as mayor-elect be solemnize marriages by the Bureau of Public Libraries as minister of the new
declared null and void. He also prayed that he be declared duly elected mayor of church up to the end of April, 1952; that said license has never been cancelled, as
Rizal, Nueva Ecija, in lieu of respondent Paraiso. neither the head of the united church nor respondent has requested for its
cancellation; and that respondent has been publicly known as minister of the
Respondent in his answer denied his ineligibility and claimed that he resigned as United Church of Christ, but he has not attached to his certificate of candidacy a
minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines on August 21, 1951, that copy of his alleged resignation as minister.
his resignation was accepted by the cabinet of his church at a special meeting held
in Polo, Bulacan on August 27, 1951, and that even if respondent was not eligible to The evidence for the respondent, on the other hand, tends to show that while he
the office, petitioner could not be declared elected to take his place. was formerly a minister of the United of Christ in the Philippines, he, however, filed
his resignation as such minister on August 21, 1951, because of his desire to engage
After due trial, the court found respondent to be ineligible for the office of mayor, in politics; that said resignation was accepted by the cabinet of his church at a
being an ecclesiastic, and, consequently, it declared his proclamation as mayor null special meeting held in Polo, Bulacan on August 27, 1951; that respondent turned
and void, but refrained from declaring petitioner as mayor-elect for lack of over his chapel and his office to the elder members of his religious order on August
sufficient legal grounds to do so. from this election both parties have appealed, 21, 1951, and since then he considered himself separated from his order and in fact
he has refrained ever since from conducting any religious services pertaining to of a well established religious order. As the trial court aptly remarked "All these
that order. lead the court to believe with the petitioner, that the supposed resignation and
acceptance were made at a later date to cure the ineligibility of the respondent."
Which of these versions is correct? We are therefore constrained to hold that respondent is disqualified to hold the
office of mayor as found by the trial court.
After careful examining the evidence of record, and after weighing its credibility
and probative value, we have not found any reason for deviating from the finding As to the question whether, respondent being ineligible, petitioner can be declared
of the trial court that respondent never ceased as minister of the order to which he elected, having obtained second place in the elections, our answer is simple: this
belonged and that the resignation he claims to have filed months before the date Court has already declared that this cannot be done in the absence of an express
of the elections is but a mere scheme to circumvent the prohibition of the law provision authorizing such declaration. Our law not only does not contain any such
regarding ecclesiastics who desire to run for a municipal office. Indeed, if provision but apparently seems to prohibit it. This is what we said in at least two
respondent really and sincerely intended to resign as minister of the religious cases where we laid down a ruling which is decisive of the present case.
organization to which he belonged for the purpose of launching his candidacy why
did he not resign in due form and have the acceptance of his resignation registered . . . . In the first case when the person elected is ineligible, the court
with the Bureau of Public Libraries.1 The importance of resignation cannot be cannot declare that the candidate occupying the second place has been
underestimated. The purpose of registration is two-fold: to inform the public not elected, even if he were eligible, since the law only authorizes a
only of the authority of the minister to discharge religious functions, but equally to declaration of election in favor of the person who has obtained a plurality
keep it informed of any change in his religious status. This information is necessary of votes, and has presented his certificate of candidacy. (Nuval vs. Guray,
for the protection of the public. This is specially so with regard to the authority to 52 Phil., 645.)
solemnized marriages, the registration of which is made by the law mandatory
(Articles 92-96, new Civil Code). It is no argument to say that the duty to secure the Section 173 of Republic Act No. 180 known as the Revised Election Code,
cancellation of the requisite resignation devolves, not upon respondent, but upon does not provide that if the contestee is declared ineligible the
the head of his organization or upon the official in charge of such registration, upon contestant will be proclaimed. Indeed it may be gathered that the law
proper showing of the reason for such cancellation, because the law likewise contemplates no such result, because it permits the filing of the contest
imposes upon the interested party the duty of effecting such cancellation, who in by any registered candidate irrespective of whether the latter occupied
the instant case is the respondent himself. This he failed to do. And what is more, the next highest place or the lowest in the election returns. (Llamoso vs.
he failed to attach to his certificate of candidacy, a copy of his alleged resignation Ferrer, et al., 84 Phil., 489, 47 Off. Gaz., [No. 2] p. 727.)
as minister knowing full well that a minister is disqualified by law to run for a
municipal office.
Wherefore, the decision appealed from is affirmed, without pronouncement as to
costs.
It is true that respondent attempted to substantiate his claim by submitting as
evidence certain documents purporting to show the alleged resignation and its
Paras C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Jugo, Labrador,
acceptance by the cabinet of his church at a meeting held on August 27, 1951, but,
Concepcion and Reyes, J.B.L., JJ.,concur.
considering said documents in the light of the shortcomings we have pointed out
above, one cannot help but brand them as self-serving or as documents merely
prepared to serve the political designs of respondent in an attempt to obviate his
disqualification under the law. And this feeling appears strengthened if we examine
the so-called minute book wherein, according to witness Jose Agpalo, are entered
the minutes of all the meeting of the church, because upon an examination thereof
one would at once get the impression that it was prepared haphazardly and not
with such seriousness and solemnity that should characterize the religious activities
2001, the Office of the Court Administrator required respondent judge to
comment.

In his Comment dated 5 July 2001, respondent judge averred that he was
requested by a certain Juan Arroyo on 15 February 2000 to solemnize the marriage
of the parties on 17 February 2000. Having been assured that all the documents to
the marriage were complete, he agreed to solemnize the marriage in his sala at the
Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur. However, on 17 February 2000,
Arroyo informed him that Orobia had a difficulty walking and could not stand the
rigors of travelling to Balatan which is located almost 25 kilometers from his
FIRST DIVISION
residence in Nabua. Arroyo then requested if respondent judge could solemnize
the marriage in Nabua, to which request he acceded.
A.M. No. MTJ-02-1390 April 11, 2002
(Formerly IPI No. 01-1049-MTJ)
Respondent judge further avers that before he started the ceremony, he carefully
examined the documents submitted to him by petitioner. When he discovered that
MERCEDITA MATA ARAES, petitioner, the parties did not possess the requisite marriage license, he refused to solemnize
vs. the marriage and suggested its resetting to another date. However, due to the
JUDGE SALVADOR M. OCCIANO, respondent. earnest pleas of the parties, the influx of visitors, and the delivery of provisions for
the occasion, he proceeded to solemnize the marriage out of human compassion.
PUNO, J.: He also feared that if he reset the wedding, it might aggravate the physical
condition of Orobia who just suffered from a stroke. After the solemnization, he
Petitioner Mercedita Mata Araes charges respondent judge with Gross Ignorance reiterated the necessity for the marriage license and admonished the parties that
of the Law via a sworn Letter-Complaint dated 23 May 2001. Respondent is the their failure to give it would render the marriage void. Petitioner and Orobia
Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur. Petitioner assured respondent judge that they would give the license to him in the afternoon
alleges that on 17 February 2000, respondent judge solemnized her marriage to her of that same day. When they failed to comply, respondent judge followed it up
late groom Dominador B. Orobia without the requisite marriage license and at with Arroyo but the latter only gave him the same reassurance that the marriage
Nabua, Camarines Sur which is outside his territorial jurisdiction. license would be delivered to his sala at the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan,
Camarines Sur.
They lived together as husband and wife on the strength of this marriage until her
husband passed away. However, since the marriage was a nullity, petitioner's right Respondent judge vigorously denies that he told the contracting parties that their
to inherit the "vast properties" left by Orobia was not recognized. She was likewise marriage is valid despite the absence of a marriage license. He attributes the
deprived of receiving the pensions of Orobia, a retired Commodore of the hardships and embarrassment suffered by the petitioner as due to her own fault
Philippine Navy.1wphi1.nt and negligence.

Petitioner prays that sanctions be imposed against respondent judge for his illegal On 12 September 2001, petitioner filed her Affidavit of Desistance dated 28 August
acts and unethical misrepresentations which allegedly caused her so much 2001 with the Office of the Court Administrator. She attested that respondent
hardships, embarrassment and sufferings. judge initially refused to solemnize her marriage due to the want of a duly issued
marriage license and that it was because of her prodding and reassurances that he
eventually solemnized the same. She confessed that she filed this administrative
On 28 May 2001, the case was referred by the Office of the Chief Justice to then
case out of rage. However, after reading the Comment filed by respondent judge,
Acting Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepao for appropriate action. On 8 June
she realized her own shortcomings and is now bothered by her conscience.
Reviewing the records of the case, it appears that petitioner and Orobia filed their "A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local ordinance to
Application for Marriage License on 5 January 2000. It was stamped in this marry the faithful is authorized to do so only within the area or diocese
Application that the marriage license shall be issued on 17 January 2000. However, or place allowed by his Bishop. An appellate court Justice or a Justice of
neither petitioner nor Orobia claimed it. this Court has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to solemnize
marriages, regardless of the venue, as long as the requisites of the law
It also appears that the Office of the Civil Registrar General issued a Certification are complied with. However, judges who are appointed to specific
that it has no record of such marriage that allegedly took place on 17 February jurisdictions, may officiate in weddings only within said areas and not
2000. Likewise, the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his court's
issued another Certification dated 7 May 2001 that it cannot issue a true copy of jurisdiction, there is a resultant irregularity in the formal requisite laid
the Marriage Contract of the parties since it has no record of their marriage. down in Article 3, which while it may not affect the validity of the
marriage, may subject the officiating official to administrative
liability."2 (Emphasis supplied.)
On 8 May 2001, petitioner sought the assistance of respondent judge so the latter
could communicate with the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines
Sur for the issuance of her marriage license. Respondent judge wrote the Local Civil In said case, we suspended respondent judge for six (6) months on the ground that
Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur. In a letter dated 9 May 2001, a Clerk of said his act of solemnizing a marriage outside his jurisdiction constitutes gross
office, Grace T. Escobal, informed respondent judge that their office cannot issue ignorance of the law. We further held that:
the marriage license due to the failure of Orobia to submit the Death Certificate of
his previous spouse. "The judiciary should be composed of persons who, if not experts, are at
least, proficient in the law they are sworn to apply, more than the
The Office of the Court Administrator, in its Report and Recommendation dated 15 ordinary laymen. They should be skilled and competent in understanding
November 2000, found the respondent judge guilty of solemnizing a marriage and applying the law. It is imperative that they be conversant with basic
without a duly issued marriage license and for doing so outside his territorial legal principles like the ones involved in the instant case. x x x While
jurisdiction. A fine of P5,000.00 was recommended to be imposed on respondent magistrates may at times make mistakes in judgment, for which they are
judge. not penalized, the respondent judge exhibited ignorance of elementary
provisions of law, in an area which has greatly prejudiced the status of
married persons."3
We agree.

In the case at bar, the territorial jurisdiction of respondent judge is limited to the
Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, or B.P. 129, the authority of the
municipality of Balatan, Camarines Sur. His act of solemnizing the marriage of
regional trial court judges and judges of inferior courts to solemnize marriages is
petitioner and Orobia in Nabua, Camarines Sur therefore is contrary to law and
confined to their territorial jurisdiction as defined by the Supreme
subjects him to administrative liability. His act may not amount to gross ignorance
Court.1wphi1.nt
of the law for he allegedly solemnized the marriage out of human compassion but
nonetheless, he cannot avoid liability for violating the law on marriage.
The case at bar is not without precedent. In Navarro vs. Domagtoy,1 respondent
judge held office and had jurisdiction in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta.
Respondent judge should also be faulted for solemnizing a marriage without the
Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte. However, he solemnized a wedding at his
requisite marriage license. In People vs. Lara,4 we held that a marriage which
residence in the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte which did not fall within
preceded the issuance of the marriage license is void, and that the subsequent
the jurisdictional area of the municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos. We held
issuance of such license cannot render valid or even add an iota of validity to the
that:
marriage. Except in cases provided by law, it is the marriage license that gives the
solemnizing officer the authority to solemnize a marriage. Respondent judge did
not possess such authority when he solemnized the marriage of petitioner. In this
respect, respondent judge acted in gross ignorance of the law.1wphi1.nt

Respondent judge cannot be exculpated despite the Affidavit of Desistance filed by


petitioner. This Court has consistently held in a catena of cases that the withdrawal
of the complaint does not necessarily have the legal effect of exonerating
respondent from disciplinary action. Otherwise, the prompt and fair administration
of justice, as well as the discipline of court personnel, would be
undermined.5 Disciplinary actions of this nature do not involve purely private or
personal matters. They can not be made to depend upon the will of every
complainant who may, for one reason or another, condone a detestable act. We
cannot be bound by the unilateral act of a complainant in a matter which involves
the Court's constitutional power to discipline judges. Otherwise, that power may
be put to naught, undermine the trust character of a public office and impair the
integrity and dignity of this Court as a disciplining authority.6

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Salvador M. Occiano, Presiding Judge of the


Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur, is fined P5,000.00 pesos with
a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense in the future
will be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED
Republic of the Philippines 3. The lower court lastly erred in not rendering judgment in favor of the
SUPREME COURT defendants and appellants.
Manila
The relevant facts necessary for the decision of all the questions of fact and of law
EN BANC raised herein are as follows:

G.R. No. L-32473 October 6, 1930 Eulogio de Leon and Flaviana Perez, man and wife, had but one child, Domingo de
Leon. The wife and son survived Eulogio de Leon, who died in the year 1915. During
MELECIO MADRIDEJO, assisted by his guardian ad litem, Pedro her widowhood, Flaviana Perez lived with Pedro Madridejo, a bachelor. The
Madridejo, plaintiff-appellee, registry of births of the municipality of Siniloan, Laguna, shows that on June 1,
vs. 1917, a child was born to Pedro Madridejo and Flaviana Perez, which was named
GONZALO DE LEON, ET AL., defendants-appellants. Melecio Madridejo, the necessary data being furnished by Pedro Madridejo (Exhibit
B). On June 17, 1917, a 24-day old child of Siniloan, Laguna, as a son of Flaviana
Perez, no mention being made of the father (Exhibit 2). On July 8, 1920, Flaviana
L. D. Abaya and S. C. Pamatmat for appellants.
Perez, being at death's door, was married to Pedro Madridejo, a bachelor, 30 years
Aurelio Palileo for appellee.
of age, by the parish priest of Siniloan (Exhibit A). She died on the following day,
July 9, 1920, leaving Domingo de Leon, her son by Eulogio de Leon, and the
plaintiff-appellee Melecio Madridejo, as well as her alleged second husband, Pedro
Madridejo. Domingo de Leon died on the 2nd of May, 1928.

VILLA-REAL, J.: With regard to the first assignment of error, the mere fact that the parish priest of
Siniloan, Laguna, who married Pedro Madridejo and Flaviana Perez, failed to send a
This is a rehearsing of the appeal taken by the defendants, Gonzalo de Leon et al. copy of the marriage certificate to the municipal secretary does not invalidate the
from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Laguna holding as follows: marriage in articulo mortis, it not appearing that the essential requisites required
by law for its validity were lacking in the ceremony, and the forwarding of a copy of
Wherefore, the court finds that Melecio Madridejo is Domingo de Leon's the marriage certificate is not one of said essential requisites.
next of kin, and hereby orders the defendants in case No. 5258 to restore
and deliver the ownership and possession of the property described in Touching the second assignment of error, there has been no attempt to deny that
the complaints filed in the aforesaid case, to Melecio Madridejo, without Melecio Madridejo, the plaintiff-appellee, is the natural son of the Pedro Madridejo
cost. So ordered. and Flaviana Perez, The only question to be decided is whether the subsequent
marriage of his parents legitimated him.
In support of their appeal the defendants assign the following alleged errors as
committed by the trial court, to wit: Article 121 of the Civil Code provides:

1. The lower court erred in holding that the marriage between Pedro Art. 121. Children shall be considered as legitimated by a subsequent
Madridejo and Flaviana Perez is valid. marriage only when they have been acknowledged by the parents before
or after the celebration thereof.
2. The lower court also erred in declaring that solely because of the
subsequent marriage of his parents, the appellee Melecio Madridejo, a According to this legal provision, in order that a subsequent marriage may be
natural child, was legitimated. effective as a legitimation, the natural children born out of wedlock must have
been acknowledged by the parents either before or after its celebration. The Civil certificate of birth, Exhibit B. This, of course, is not the record of birth mentioned in
Code has established two kinds of acknowledgment: voluntary and compulsary. the law, for it lacks the requisites of article 48 of the Law of Civil Registry. It, no
Article 131 provides for the voluntary acknowledgment by the father or mother as doubt, is a public instrument, but it has neither been executed nor signed by Pedro
follows: Madridejo, and contains no statement by which he acknowledges Melecio
Madridejo to be his son. Although as Pedro Madridejo testified, he furnished the
Art. 131. The acknowledgment of a natural child must be made in the municipal secretary of Siniloan with necessary data for recording the birth of
record of birth, in a will, or in some other public document. Melecio Madridejo, and although said official inscribed the data thus given in the
civil registry of births, this is not sufficient to bring it under the legal provision
regarding acknowledgment by a public document.
Article 135 provides for the compulsary acknowledgment by the father, thus:

As to the mother, it does not appear that Flaviana Perez supplied the data set forth
Art. 135. The father may be compelled to acknowledge his natural child in
in the civil registry of births, Exhibit B, or in the baptismal register, where of Exhibit
the following cases:
2 is a certificate, and which constitutes final proof only of the baptism, and not of
the kinship or parentage of the person baptized (Adriano vs. De Jesus, 23 Phil.,
1. When an indisputable paper written by him, expressly acknowledging 350). Furthermore, church registers of baptism are no longer considered public
his paternity, is in existence. documents (United States vs. Evangelista, 29 Phil., 215).

2. When the child has been in the uninterrupted possession of the status Melecio Madridejo, then, was not voluntarily acknowledged by Pedro Madridejo or
of a natural child of the defendant father, justified by the conduct of the Flaviana Perez, either before or after their marriage. 1awph!l.net
father himself of that of his family.
Did Pedro Madridejo acknowledge Melecio Madridejo as his son, by compulsion?
3. In cases of rape, seduction, or abduction, the provisions of the Penal
Code with regard to the acknowledgment of the issue, shall be observed.
The compulsory acknowledgment by the father established in article 135 of the
Civil Code, and by the mother according to article 136, requires that the natural
Article 136 providing for the compulsory acknowledgment by the mother, reads: child take judicial action against the father or mother, or against the persons
setting themselves up as the heirs of both, for the purpose of compelling them to
Art. 136. The mother may be compelled to acknowlegde her natural acknowledge him as a natural son through a judgment of the court.
child:
In the instant action brought by Melecio Madridejo not only has he not demanded
1. When the child is, with respect to the mother, included in any of the to be acknowledged as a natural child, which is the condition precedent to
cases mentioned in the next preceding article. establishing his legitimation by the subsequent marriage and his right to the estate
of his uterine brother, Domingo de Leon, but he has not even impleaded either his
2. When the fact of the birth and the identity of the child are fully proven. father Pedro Madridejo, or the heirs of his mother, Flaviana Perez, in order that the
court might have authority to make a valid and effective pronouncement of his
being a natural child, and to compel them to acknowledge him as such.
Let us see whether the plaintiff-appellee, Melecio Madridejo, has been
acknowledged by his parents Pedro Madridejo and Flaviana Perez, under any of the
provisions above quoted. The plaintiff-appellee alleges that the second paragraph of the defendants' answer
amounts to an admission that he is indeed Flaviana Perez's son, and relieves him of
the burden of proving that his mother acknowledged him as a son before her
To begin with the father, no document has been adduced to show that he has marriage. Such an admission would have been affective if the present action had
voluntarily acknowledged Melecio Madridejo as his son, except the registry
been brought for the purpose of compelling Flaviana Perez or her heirs to
acknowledge the appellee as her son.

In view of the foregoing, it is evident that Melecio Madridejo has not been
acknowledged by Pedro Madridejo and Flaviana Perez, either voluntarily or by
compulsion, before or after their marriage, and therefore said marriage did not
legitimate him.

Wherefore, the judgment is reversed, the complaint dismissed, and the defendants
absolved with costs against the appellee without prejudice to any right he may
have to establish or compel his acknowledgment as the natural son of Pedro
Madridejo and Flaviana Perez. So ordered.

Avancea, C.J., Street, Malcolm, Villamor, Ostrand and Romualdez, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines on 23 August 1948; Editha A. Ausa, born on 26 July 1950, and Eustaquio H.
SUPREME COURT Avenido, Jr., born on 15 December 1952. Sometime in 1954, Eustaquio left his
Manila family and his whereabouts was not known. In 1958, Tecla and her children were
informed that Eustaquio was in Davao City living with another woman by the name
SECOND DIVISION of Buenaventura Sayson who later died in 1977 without any issue.

G.R. No. 173540 January 22, 2014 In 1979, Tecla learned that her husband Eustaquio got married to another woman
by the name of Peregrina, which marriage she claims must be declared null and
void for being bigamous an action she sought to protect the rights of her children
PEREGRINA MACUA VDA. DE AVENIDO, Petitioner,
over the properties acquired by Eustaquio.
vs.
TECLA HOYBIA AVENIDO, Respondent.
On 12 April 1999, Peregrina filed her answer to the complaint with
counterclaim,4 essentially averring that she is the legal surviving spouse of
DECISION
Eustaquio who died on 22 September 1989 in Davao City, their marriage having
been celebrated on 30 March 1979 at St. Jude Parish in Davao City. She also
PEREZ, J.: contended that the case was instituted to deprive her of the properties she owns in
her own right and as an heir of Eustaquio.
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45.ofthe Rules of Court,
assailing the 31 August 2005 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV Trial ensued.
No. 79444, which reversed the 25 March 2003 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 8 of Davao City, in a complaint for Declaration of Absolute Nullity of
Tecla presented testimonial and documentary evidence consisting of:
Marriage docketed as Civil Case No. 26, 908-98.

1) Testimonies of Adelina Avenido-Ceno (Adelina), Climaco Avenido


The Facts
(Climaco) and Tecla herself to substantiate her alleged prior existing and
valid marriage with (sic) Eustaquio;
This case involves a contest between two women both claiming to have been
validly married to the same man, now deceased.
2) Documentary evidence such as the following:

Respondent Tecla Hoybia Avenido (Tecla) instituted on 11 November 1998, a


a. Certification of Loss/Destruction of Record of Marriage from
Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage against Peregrina Macua Vda. de
1900 to 1944 issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar,
Avenido (Peregrina) on the ground that she (Tecla), is the lawful wife of the
Municipality of Talibon, Bohol;5
deceased Eustaquio Avenido (Eustaquio). In her complaint, Tecla alleged that her
marriage to Eustaquio was solemnized on 30 September 1942 in Talibon, Bohol in
rites officiated by the Parish Priest of the said town. According to her, the fact of b. Certification of Submission of a copy of Certificate of
their marriage is evidenced by a Marriage Certificate recorded with the Office of Marriage to the Office of the Civil Registrar General, National
the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) of Talibon, Bohol. However, due to World War II, Statistics Office (NSO), R. Magsaysay Blvd., Sta Mesa, Manila;6
records were destroyed. Thus, only a Certification3 was issued by the LCR.
c. Certification that Civil Registry records of births, deaths and
During the existence of Tecla and Eustaquios union, they begot four (4) children, marriages that were actually filed in the Office of the Civil
namely: Climaco H. Avenido, born on 30 March 1943; Apolinario H. Avenido, born Registrar General, NSO Manila, started only in 1932;7
d. Certification that Civil Registry records submitted to the a common law relation with one Tecla Hoybia with whom he had four (4)
Office of the Civil Registrar General, NSO, from 1932 to the children namely: Climaco, Tiburcio, Editha and Eustaquio, Jr., all
early part of 1945, were totally destroyed during the liberation surnamed Avenido;18
of Manila;8
3) Letter of Atty. Edgardo T. Mata dated 15 April 2002, addressed to the
e. Certification of Birth of Apolinario Avenido;9 Civil Registrar of the Municipality of Alegria, Surigao del Norte;19 and

f. Certification of Birth of Eustaquio Avenido, Jr.;10 4) Certification dated 25 April 2002 issued by Colita P. Umipig, in her
capacity as the Civil Registrar of Alegria, Surigao del Norte.20
g. Certification of Birth of Editha Avenido;11
In addition, as basis for the counterclaim, Peregrina averred that the case was
h. Certification of Marriage between Eustaquio Sr., and Tecla initiated in bad faith so as to deprive her of the properties she owns in her own
issued by the Parish Priest of Talibon, Bohol on 30 September right and as an heir of Eustaquio; hence, her entitlement to damages and
1942;12 attorneys fees.

i. Certification that record of birth from 1900 to 1944 were On 25 March 2003, the RTC rendered a Decision21 denying Teclas petition, as well
destroyed by Second World War issued by the Office of the as Peregrinas counter-claim. The dispositive portion thereof reads:
Municipal Registrar of Talibon, Bohol, that they cannot furnish
as requested a true transcription from the Register of Birth of For The Foregoing, the petition for the "DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE"
Climaco Avenido;13 filed by petitioner TECLA HOYBIA AVENIDO against respondent PEREGRINA MACUA
is hereby DENIED.
j. Certificate of Baptism of Climaco indicating that he was born
on 30 March 1943 to spouses Eustaquio and Tecla;14 The "COUNTERCLAIM" filed by respondent PEREGRINA MACUA against petitioner
TECLA HOYBIA AVENIDO is hereby DISMISSED.22
k. Electronic copy of the Marriage Contract between Eustaquio
and Peregrina.15 Not convinced, Tecla appealed to the CA raising as error the trial courts alleged
disregard of the evidence on the existence of her marriage to Eustaquio.
On the other hand, Peregrina testified on, among others, her marriage to Eustaquio
that took place in Davao City on 3 March 1979; her life as a wife and how she took In its 31 August 2005 Decision,23 the CA ruled in favor of Tecla by declaring the
care of Eustaquio when he already had poor health, as well as her knowledge that validity of her marriage to Eustaquio, while pronouncing on the other hand, the
Tecla is not the legal wife, but was once a common law wife of marriage between Peregrina and Eustaquio to be bigamous, and thus, null and
Eustaquio.16 Peregrina likewise set forth documentary evidence to substantiate her void. The CA ruled:
allegations and to prove her claim for damages, to wit:
The court a quo committed a reversible error when it disregarded (1) the
1) Marriage Contract17 between Pregrina and the late Eustaquio showing testimonies of [Adelina], the sister of EUSTAQUIO who testified that she personally
the date of marriage on 3 March 1979; witnessed the wedding celebration of her older brother EUSTAQUIO and [Tecla] on
30 September 1942 at Talibon, Bohol; [Climaco], the eldest son of EUSTAQUIO and
2) Affidavit of Eustaquio executed on 22 March 1985 declaring himself as [Tecla], who testified that his mother [Tecla] was married to his father,
single when he contracted marriage with the petitioner although he had EUSTAQUIO, and [Tecla] herself; and (2) the documentary evidence mentioned at
the outset. It should be stressed that the due execution and the loss of the
marriage contract, both constituting the condition sine qua non, for the records from 1932 up to early part of 1945 were totally destroyed during the
introduction of secondary evidence of its contents, were shown by the very liberation of Manila on February 4, 1945. What are presently filed in this office are
evidence the trial court has disregarded.24 records from the latter part of 1945 to date, except for the city of Manila which
starts from 1952. Hence, this office has no way of verifying and could not issue as
Peregrina now questions the said ruling assigning as error, among others, the requested, certified true copy of the records of marriage between [Eustaquio] and
failure of the CA to appreciate the validity of her marriage to Eustaquio. For its [Tecla], alleged to have been married on 30th September 1942, in Talibon, Bohol.27
part, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in its Memorandum25dated 5 June
2008, raises the following legal issues: In the absence of the marriage contract, the trial court did not give credence to the
testimony of Tecla and her witnesses as it considered the same as mere self-serving
1. Whether or not the court can validly rely on the "presumption of assertions. Superior significance was given to the fact that Tecla could not even
marriage" to overturn the validity of a subsequent marriage; produce her own copy of the said proof of marriage. Relying on Section 3 (a) and
Section 5, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, the trial court declared that Tecla failed to
prove the existence of the first marriage.
2. Whether or not secondary evidence may be considered and/or taken
cognizance of, without proof of the execution or existence and the cause
of the unavailability of the best evidence, the original document; The CA, on the other hand, concluded that there was a presumption of lawful
marriage between Tecla and Eustaquio as they deported themselves as husband
and wife and begot four (4) children. Such presumption, supported by
and
documentary evidence consisting of the same Certifications disregarded by the trial
court, as well as the testimonial evidence especially that of Adelina Avenido-Ceno,
3. Whether or not a Certificate of Marriage issued by the church has a created, according to the CA, sufficient proof of the fact of marriage. Contrary to
probative value to prove the existence of a valid marriage without the the trial courts ruling, the CA found that its appreciation of the evidence presented
priest who issued the same being presented to the witness stand.26 by Tecla is well in accord with Section 5, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.

Our Ruling We uphold the reversal by the CA of the decision of the trial court. Quite recently,
in Aonuevo v. Intestate Estate of Rodolfo G. Jalandoni,28 we said, citing
Essentially, the question before us is whether or not the evidence presented during precedents, that:
the trial proves the existence of the marriage of Tecla to Eustaquio.
While a marriage certificate is considered the primary evidence of a marital union,
The trial court, in ruling against Teclas claim of her prior valid marriage to it is not regarded as the sole and exclusive evidence of marriage. Jurisprudence
Eustaquio relied on Teclas failure to present her certificate of marriage to teaches that the fact of marriage may be proven by relevant evidence other than
Eustaquio. Without such certificate, the trial court considered as useless the the marriage certificate. Hence, even a persons birth certificate may be recognized
certification of the Office of the Civil Registrar of Talibon, Bohol, that it has no more as competent evidence of the marriage between his parents.
records of marriages during the period 1900 to 1944. The same thing was said as
regards the Certification issued by the National Statistics Office of Manila. The trial The error of the trial court in ruling that without the marriage certificate, no other
court observed: proof of the fact can be accepted, has been aptly delineated in Vda de Jacob v.
Court of Appeals.29 Thus:
Upon verification from the NSO, Office of the Civil Registrar General, Manila, it,
likewise, issued a Certification (Exhibit "B") stating that: It should be stressed that the due execution and the loss of the marriage contract,
both constituting the conditio sine qua non for the introduction of secondary
evidence of its contents, were shown by the very evidence they have disregarded.
They have thus confused the evidence to show due execution and loss as In the present case, due execution was established by the testimonies of Adela
"secondary" evidence of the marriage. In Hernaez v. Mcgrath, the Court clarified Pilapil, who was present during the marriage ceremony, and of petitioner herself as
this misconception thus: a party to the event. The subsequent loss was shown by the testimony and the
affidavit of the officiating priest, Monsignor Yllana, as relevant, competent and
x x x [T]he court below was entirely mistaken in holding that parol evidence of the admissible evidence. Since the due execution and the loss of the marriage contract
execution of the instrument was barred. The court confounded the execution and were clearly shown by the evidence presented, secondary evidencetestimonial
the contents of the document. It is the contents, x x x which may not be proven by and documentarymay be admitted to prove the fact of marriage.30
secondary evidence when the
As correctly stated by the appellate court:
instrument itself is accessible. Proofs of the execution are not dependent on the
existence or non-existence of the document, and, as a matter of fact, such proofs In the case at bench, the celebration of marriage between [Tecla] and EUSTAQUIO
of the contents: due execution, besides the loss, has to be shown as foundation for was established by the testimonial evidence furnished by [Adelina] who appears to
the inroduction of secondary evidence of the contents. be present during the marriage ceremony, and by [Tecla] herself as a living witness
to the event. The loss was shown by the certifications issued by the NSO and LCR of
xxxx Talibon, Bohol. These are relevant, competent and admissible evidence. Since the
due execution and the loss of the marriage contract were clearly shown by the
evidence presented, secondary evidence testimonial and documentary may be
Evidence of the execution of a document is, in the last analysis, necessarily
admitted to prove the fact of marriage. In PUGEDA v. TRIAS, the
collateral or primary. It generally consists of parol testimony or extrinsic papers.
Even when the document is actually produced, its authencity is not necessarily, if at
all, determined from its face or recital of its contents but by parol evidence. At the Supreme Court held that "marriage may be proven by any competent and relevant
most, failure to produce the document, when available, to establish its execution evidence. The testimony by one of the parties to the marriage or by one of the
may effect the weight of the evidence presented but not the admissibility of such witnesses to the marriage has been held to be admissible to prove the fact of
evidence. marriage. The person who officiated at the solemnization is also competent to
testify as an eyewitness to the fact of marriage."
The Court of Appeals, as well as the trial court, tried to justify its stand on this issue
by relying on Lim Tanhu v. Ramolete. But even there, we said that "marriage may xxxx
be prove[n] by other competent evidence.
The court a quo committed a reversible error when it disregarded (1) the
Truly, the execution of a document may be proven by the parties themselves, by testimonies of [Adelina], the sister of EUSTAQUIO who testified that she personally
the swearing officer, by witnesses who saw and recognized the signatures of the witnessed the wedding celebration of her older brother EUSTAQUIO and [Tecla] on
parties; or even by those to whom the parties have previously narrated the 30 September 1942 at Talibon, Bohol; [Climaco], the eldest son of EUSTAQUIO and
execution thereof. The Court has also held that "[t]he loss may be shown by any [Tecla], who testified that his mother [Tecla] was married to his father,
person who [knows] the fact of its loss, or by any one who ha[s] made, in the EUSTAQUIO, and [Tecla] herself; and (2) the documentary evidence mentioned at
judgment of the court, a sufficient examination in the place or places where the the outset. It should be stressed that the due execution and the loss of the
document or papers of similar character are usually kept by the person in whose marriage contract, both constituting the condition sine qua non for the
custody the document lost was, and has been unable to find it; or who has made introduction of secondary evidence of its contents, were shown by the very
any other investigation which is sufficient to satisfy the court that the instrument evidence the trial court has disregarded.31
[has] indeed [been] lost."
The starting point then, is the presumption of marriage.
As early as the case of Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,32 this Court has elucidated on
the rationale behind the presumption:

The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of


marriage.1wphi1 Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it is a
new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply
interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing
matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the
absence of any counter-presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact
married. The reason is that such is the common order of society, and if the parties
were not what they thus hold themselves out as being, they would be living in the
constant violation of decency and of law. A presumption established by our Code of
Civil Procedure is that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and
wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage. (Sec. 334, No. 28) Semper
praesumitur pro matrimonio Always presume marriage.

In the case at bar, the establishment of the fact of marriage was completed by the
testimonies of Adelina, Climaco and Tecla; the unrebutted the certifications of
marriage issued by the parish priest of the Most Holy Trinity Cathedral of Talibon,
Bohol.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 79444 is AFFIRMED. The marriage between petitioner
Peregrina Macua Avenido and the deceased Eustaquio Avenido is hereby declared
NULL and VOID. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines residence, located at 2676 F. Muoz St., Malate, Manila, when his mother-in-law
SUPREME COURT arrived with two men. He testified that he was told that he was going to undergo
Manila some ceremony, one of the requirements for his stay in the Philippines, but was
not told of the nature of said ceremony. During the ceremony he and Gloria signed
THIRD DIVISION a document. He claimed that he did not know that the ceremony was a marriage
until Gloria told him later. He further testified that he did not go to Carmona,
Cavite to apply for a marriage license, and that he had never resided in that area. In
G.R. No. 183896 January 30, 2013
July of 2003, he went to the Office of the Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, to
check on their marriage license, and was asked to show a copy of their marriage
SYED AZHAR ABBAS, Petitioner, contract wherein the marriage license number could be found.5 The Municipal Civil
vs. Registrar, Leodivinia C. Encarnacion, issued a certification on July 11, 2003 to the
GLORIA GOO ABBAS, Respondent. effect that the marriage license number appearing in the marriage contract he
submitted, Marriage License No. 9969967, was the number of another marriage
DECISION license issued to a certain Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan.6 Said
certification reads as follows:
VELASCO, JR., J.:
11 July 2003
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, questioning the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated March 11, TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
2008 in CA-G.R. CV No. 86760, which reversed the Decision2 in Civil Case No. 03-
0382-CFM dated October 5, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 109, This is to certify as per Registry Records of Marriage License filed in this office,
Pasay City, and the CA Resolution dated July 24, 2008, denying petitioner's Motion Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued in favor of MR. ARLINDO GETALADO and
for Reconsideration of the CA Decision. MISS MYRA MABILANGAN on January 19, 1993.

The present case stems from a petition filed by petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas (Syed) No Marriage License appear [sic] to have been issued to MR. SYED AZHAR ABBAS
for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Gloria Goo-Abbas (Gloria) with the and MISS GLORIA F. GOO on January 8, 1993.
RTC of Pasay City, docketed as Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM, and raffled to RTC
Branch 109. Syed alleged the absence of a marriage license, as provided for in
This certification is being issued to Mr. Syed Azhar Abbas for whatever legal
Article 4, Chapter I, Title 1 of Executive Order No. 269, otherwise known as the
purpose or intents it may serve.7
Family Code of the Philippines, as a ground for the annulment of his marriage to
Gloria.
On cross-examination, Syed testified that Gloria had filed bigamy cases against him
in 2001 and 2002, and that he had gone to the Municipal Civil Registrar of
In the Marriage Contract3 of Gloria and Syed, it is stated that Marriage License No.
Carmona, Cavite to get certification on whether or not there was a marriage license
9969967, issued at Carmona, Cavite on January 8, 1993, was presented to the
on advice of his counsel.8
solemnizing officer. It is this information that is crucial to the resolution of this
case.
Petitioner also presented Norberto Bagsic (Bagsic), an employee of the Municipal
Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite. Bagsic appeared under a letter of authority from
At the trial court, Syed, a Pakistani citizen, testified that he met Gloria, a Filipino
the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, and brought documents
citizen, in Taiwan in 1991, and they were married on August 9, 1992 at the Taipei
pertaining to Marriage License No. 9969967, which was issued to Arlindo Getalado
Mosque in Taiwan.4 He arrived in the Philippines in December of 1992. On January
and Myra Mabilangan on January 20, 1993.9
9, 1993, at around 5 oclock in the afternoon, he was at his mother-in-laws
Bagsic testified that their office issues serial numbers for marriage licenses and that marriage license was obtained from Carmona.25 She also testified that a bigamy
the numbers are issued chronologically.10 He testified that the certification dated case had been filed by Gloria against Syed at the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
July 11, 2003, was issued and signed by Leodivina Encarnacion, Registrar of the evidenced by an information for Bigamy dated January 10, 2003, pending before
Municipality of Carmona, Cavite, certifying that Marriage License No. 9969967 was Branch 47 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila.26
issued for Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan on January 19, 1993, and that
their office had not issued any other license of the same serial number, namely As to Mary Ann Ceriolas testimony, the counsels for both parties stipulated that:
9969967, to any other person.11 (a) she is one of the sponsors at the wedding of Gloria Goo and Syed Abbas on
January 9, 1993; (b) she was seen in the wedding photos and she could identify all
For her part, Gloria testified on her own behalf, and presented Reverend Mario the persons depicted in said photos; and (c) her testimony corroborates that of
Dauz, Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez, Felicitas Goo and May Ann Ceriola. Felicitas Goo and Atty. Sanchez.

Reverend Mario Dauz (Rev. Dauz) testified that he was a minister of the Gospel and The respondent, Gloria, testified that Syed is her husband, and presented the
a barangay captain, and that he is authorized to solemnize marriages within the marriage contract bearing their signatures as proof.27 She and her mother sought
Philippines.12 He testified that he solemnized the marriage of Syed Azhar Abbas and the help of Atty. Sanchez in securing a marriage license, and asked him to be one of
Gloria Goo at the residence of the bride on January 9, 1993.13 He stated that the the sponsors. A certain Qualin went to their house and said that he will get the
witnesses were Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez (Atty. Sanchez) and Mary Ann Ceriola.14 He marriage license for them, and after several days returned with an application for
testified that he had been solemnizing marriages since 1982, and that he is familiar marriage license for them to sign, which she and Syed did. After Qualin returned
with the requirements.15 Rev. Dauz further testified that Atty. Sanchez gave him with the marriage license, they gave the license to Atty. Sanchez who gave it to
the marriage license the day before the actual wedding, and that the marriage Rev. Dauz, the solemnizing officer. Gloria testified that she and Syed were married
contract was prepared by his secretary.16 After the solemnization of the marriage, on January 9, 1993 at their residence.28
it was registered with the Local Civil Registrar of Manila, and Rev. Dauz submitted
the marriage contract and copy of the marriage license with that office.17 Gloria further testified that she has a daughter with Syed, born on June 15, 1993.29

Atty. Sanchez testified that he was asked to be the sponsor of the wedding of Syed Gloria also testified that she filed a bigamy case against Syed, who had married a
Abbas and Gloria Goo by the mother of the bride, Felicitas Goo.18 He testified that certain Maria Corazon Buenaventura during the existence of the previous marriage,
he requested a certain Qualin to secure the marriage license for the couple, and and that the case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 02A-03408, with the RTC of
that this Qualin secured the license and gave the same to him on January 8, Manila.30
1993.19 He further testified that he did not know where the marriage license was
obtained.20 He attended the wedding ceremony on January 9, 1993, signed the
Gloria stated that she and Syed had already been married on August 9, 1992 in
marriage contract as sponsor, and witnessed the signing of the marriage contract
Taiwan, but that she did not know if said marriage had been celebrated under
by the couple, the solemnizing officer and the other witness, Mary Ann Ceriola.21
Muslim rites, because the one who celebrated their marriage was Chinese, and
those around them at the time were Chinese.31
Felicitas Goo testified that Gloria Goo is her daughter and Syed Azhar Abbas is her
son-in-law, and that she was present at the wedding ceremony held on January 9,
The Ruling of the RTC
1993 at her house.22 She testified that she sought the help of Atty. Sanchez at the
Manila City Hall in securing the marriage license, and that a week before the
marriage was to take place, a male person went to their house with the application In its October 5, 2005 Decision, the Pasay City RTC held that no valid marriage
for marriage license.23 Three days later, the same person went back to their house, license was issued by the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite in favor of
showed her the marriage license before returning it to Atty. Sanchez who then Gloria and Syed, as Marriage License No. 9969967 had been issued to Arlindo
gave it to Rev. Dauz, the solemnizing officer.24 She further testified that she did not Getalado and Myra Mabilangan, and the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona,
read all of the contents of the marriage license, and that she was told that the Cavite had certified that no marriage license had been issued for Gloria and
Syed.32 It also took into account the fact that neither party was a resident of OF A MARRIAGE LICENSE DESPITE EVIDENCE CLEARLY SHOWING THAT
Carmona, Cavite, the place where Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued, in THERE WAS ONE.
violation of Article 9 of the Family Code.33 As the marriage was not one of those
exempt from the license requirement, and that the lack of a valid marriage license II
is an absence of a formal requisite, the marriage of Gloria and Syed on January 9,
1993 was void ab initio.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING, AS A REQUISITE OF A
VALID MARRIAGE, THE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT A
The dispositive portion of the Decision reads as follows: MARRIAGE CEREMONY TOOK PLACE WITH THE APPEARANCE OF THE
CONTRACTING PARTIES BEFORE THE SOLEMNIZING OFFICER AND THEIR
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the petitioner, and against PERSONAL DECLARATION THAT THEY TOOK EACH OTHER AS HUSBAND
the respondent declaring as follows: AND WIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF NOT LESS THAN TWO WITNESSES OF
LEGAL AGE.
1. The marriage on January 9, 1993 between petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas
and respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas is hereby annulled; III

2. Terminating the community of property relations between the THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING ON THE ISSUE OF ESTOPPEL
petitioner and the respondent even if no property was acquired during BY LACHES ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER, AN ISSUE TIMELY RAISED
their cohabitation by reason of the nullity of the marriage of the parties. IN THE COURT BELOW.35

3. The Local Civil Registrar of Manila and the Civil Registrar General, The CA gave credence to Glorias arguments, and granted her appeal. It held that
National Statistics Office, are hereby ordered to cancel from their the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar failed to categorically state that a
respective civil registries the marriage contracted by petitioner Syed diligent search for the marriage license of Gloria and Syed was conducted, and thus
Azhar Abbas and respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas on January 9, 1993 in held that said certification could not be accorded probative value.36 The CA ruled
Manila. that there was sufficient testimonial and documentary evidence that Gloria and
Syed had been validly married and that there was compliance with all the requisites
SO ORDERED.34 laid down by law.37

Gloria filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated November 7, 2005, but the RTC It gave weight to the fact that Syed had admitted to having signed the marriage
denied the same, prompting her to appeal the questioned decision to the Court of contract. The CA also considered that the parties had comported themselves as
Appeals. husband and wife, and that Syed only instituted his petition after Gloria had filed a
case against him for bigamy.38
The Ruling of the CA
The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads as follows:
In her appeal to the CA, Gloria submitted the following assignment of errors:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated 05
October 2005 and Order dated 27 January 2006 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay
I
City, Branch 109, in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and
the Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage is DISMISSED. The marriage
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE between Shed [sic] Azhar Abbas and Gloria Goo Abbas contracted on 09 January
PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT AS NULL AND VOID DUE TO THE ABSENCE 1993 remains valid and subsisting. No costs.
SO ORDERED.39 (3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the
contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal
Syed then filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated April 1, 200840 but the same declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the
was denied by the CA in a Resolution dated July 24, 2008.41 presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.

Hence, this petition. Art. 4. The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the
marriage void ab initio, except as stated in Article 35(2).
Grounds in Support of Petition
A defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage voidable as
provided in Article 45.
I

An irregularity in the formal requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF
but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally
LAW IN CITING REPUBLIC VS. COURT OF APPEALS AS THE SAME IS
and administratively liable.
DIAMETRICALLY INCONSISTENT AND CONTRARY TO THE COURTS OWN
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS IN THIS CASE.
Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
II
xxxx
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN REVERSING
AND SETTING ASIDE, WITHOUT ANY FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASIS, THE (3) Those solemnized without a license, except those covered by the preceding
DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT GRANTING THE PETITION FOR Chapter.
DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.42
There is no issue with the essential requisites under Art. 2 of the Family Code, nor
The Ruling of this Court with the formal requisites of the authority of the solemnizing officer and the
conduct of the marriage ceremony. Nor is the marriage one that is exempt from
the requirement of a valid marriage license under Chapter 2, Title I of the Family
The petition is meritorious.
Code. The resolution of this case, thus, hinges on whether or not a valid marriage
license had been issued for the couple. The RTC held that no valid marriage license
As the marriage of Gloria and Syed was solemnized on January 9, 1993, Executive had been issued. The CA held that there was a valid marriage license.
Order No. 209, or the Family Code of the Philippines, is the applicable law. The
pertinent provisions that would apply to this particular case are Articles 3, 4 and
We find the RTC to be correct in this instance.
35(3), which read as follows:

Respondent Gloria failed to present the actual marriage license, or a copy thereof,
Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:
and relied on the marriage contract as well as the testimonies of her witnesses to
prove the existence of said license. To prove that no such license was issued, Syed
(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer; turned to the office of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite which had
allegedly issued said license. It was there that he requested certification that no
(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 such license was issued. In the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals43 such
of this Title; and certification was allowed, as permitted by Sec. 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court,
which reads:
SEC. 28. Proof of lack of record. A written statement signed by an officer having issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig, which merely stated that the alleged marriage
the custody of an official record or by his deputy that after diligent search, no license could not be located as the same did not appear in their records. Nowhere
record or entry of a specified tenor is found to exist in the records of his office, in the Certification was it categorically stated that the officer involved conducted a
accompanied by a certificate as above provided, is admissible as evidence that the diligent search, nor is a categorical declaration absolutely necessary for Sec. 28,
records of his office contain no such record or entry. Rule 132 of the Rules of Court to apply.

In the case of Republic, in allowing the certification of the Civil Registrar of Pasig to Under Sec. 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, it is a disputable presumption that
prove the non-issuance of a marriage license, the Court held: an official duty has been regularly performed, absent contradiction or other
evidence to the contrary. We held, "The presumption of regularity of official acts
The above Rule authorized the custodian of the documents to certify that despite may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a
diligent search, a particular document does not exist in his office or that a duty."46 No such affirmative evidence was shown that the Municipal Civil Registrar
particular entry of a specified tenor was not to be found in a register. As custodians was lax in performing her duty of checking the records of their office, thus the
of public documents, civil registrars are public officers charged with the duty, inter presumption must stand. In fact, proof does exist of a diligent search having been
alia, of maintaining a register book where they are required to enter all conducted, as Marriage License No. 996967 was indeed located and submitted to
applications for marriage licenses, including the names of the applicants, the date the court. The fact that the names in said license do not correspond to those of
the marriage license was issued and such other relevant data.44 Gloria and Syed does not overturn the presumption that the registrar conducted a
diligent search of the records of her office.
The Court held in that case that the certification issued by the civil registrar
enjoyed probative value, as his duty was to maintain records of data relative to the It is telling that Gloria failed to present their marriage license or a copy thereof to
issuance of a marriage license. the court. She failed to explain why the marriage license was secured in Carmona,
Cavite, a location where, admittedly, neither party resided. She took no pains to
apply for the license, so she is not the best witness to testify to the validity and
The Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, where the marriage license of
existence of said license. Neither could the other witnesses she presented prove
Gloria and Syed was allegedly issued, issued a certification to the effect that no
the existence of the marriage license, as none of them applied for the license in
such marriage license for Gloria and Syed was issued, and that the serial number of
Carmona, Cavite. Her mother, Felicitas Goo, could not even testify as to the
the marriage license pertained to another couple, Arlindo Getalado and Myra
contents of the license, having admitted to not reading all of its contents. Atty.
Mabilangan. A certified machine copy of Marriage License No. 9969967 was
Sanchez, one of the sponsors, whom Gloria and Felicitas Goo approached for
presented, which was issued in Carmona, Cavite, and indeed, the names of Gloria
assistance in securing the license, admitted not knowing where the license came
and Syed do not appear in the document.
from. The task of applying for the license was delegated to a certain Qualin, who
could have testified as to how the license was secured and thus impeached the
In reversing the RTC, the CA focused on the wording of the certification, stating certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar as well as the testimony of her
that it did not comply with Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. representative. As Gloria failed to present this Qualin, the certification of the
Municipal Civil Registrar still enjoys probative value.
The CA deduced that from the absence of the words "despite diligent search" in the
certification, and since the certification used stated that no marriage license It is also noted that the solemnizing officer testified that the marriage contract and
appears to have been issued, no diligent search had been conducted and thus the a copy of the marriage license were submitted to the Local Civil Registrar of Manila.
certification could not be given probative value. Thus, a copy of the marriage license could have simply been secured from that
office and submitted to the court. However, Gloria inexplicably failed to do so,
To justify that deduction, the CA cited the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals.45 It further weakening her claim that there was a valid marriage license issued for her
is worth noting that in that particular case, the Court, in sustaining the finding of and Syed.
the lower court that a marriage license was lacking, relied on the Certification
In the case of Cario v. Cario,47 following the case of Republic,48 it was held that All the evidence cited by the CA to show that a wedding ceremony was conducted
the certification of the Local Civil Registrar that their office had no record of a and a marriage contract was signed does not operate to cure the absence of a valid
marriage license was adequate to prove the non-issuance of said license. The case marriage license. Article 4 of the Family Code is clear when it says, "The absence of
of Cario further held that the presumed validity of the marriage of the parties had any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio,
been overcome, and that it became the burden of the party alleging a valid except as stated in Article 35(2)." Article 35(3) of the Family Code also provides that
marriage to prove that the marriage was valid, and that the required marriage a marriage solemnized without a license is void from the beginning, except those
license had been secured.49 Gloria has failed to discharge that burden, and the only exempt from the license requirement under Articles 27 to 34, Chapter 2, Title I of
conclusion that can be reached is that no valid marriage license was issued. It the same Code.51 Again, this marriage cannot be characterized as among the
cannot be said that there was a simple irregularity in the marriage license that exemptions, and thus, having been solemnized without a marriage license, is void
would not affect the validity of the marriage, as no license was presented by the ab initio.1wphi1
respondent. No marriage license was proven to have been issued to Gloria and
Syed, based on the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite As to the motive of Syed in seeking to annul his marriage to Gloria, it may well be
and Glorias failure to produce a copy of the alleged marriage license. that his motives are less than pure, that he seeks to evade a bigamy suit. Be that as
it may, the same does not make up for the failure of the respondent to prove that
To bolster its ruling, the CA cited other evidence to support its conclusion that they had a valid marriage license, given the weight of evidence presented by
Gloria and Syed were validly married. To quote the CA: petitioner. The lack of a valid marriage license cannot be attributed to him, as it
was Gloria who took steps to procure the same. The law must be applied. As the
Moreover, the record is replete with evidence, testimonial and documentary, that marriage license, a formal requisite, is clearly absent, the marriage of Gloria and
appellant and appellee have been validly married and there was compliance with Syed is void ab initio.
all the requisites laid down by law. Both parties are legally capacitated to marry. A
certificate of legal capacity was even issued by the Embassy of Pakistan in favor of WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The
appellee. The parties herein gave their consent freely. Appellee admitted that the assailed Decision dated March 11, 2008 and Resolution dated July 24, 2008 of the
signature above his name in the marriage contract was his. Several pictures were Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 86760 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
presented showing appellant and appellee, before the solemnizing officer, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 109, Pasay City dated October 5, 2005
witnesses and other members of appellants family, taken during the marriage in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM annulling the marriage of petitioner with respondent
ceremony, as well as in the restaurant where the lunch was held after the marriage on January 9, 1993 is hereby REINSTATED.
ceremony. Most telling of all is Exhibit "5-C" which shows appellee signing the
Marriage Contract. No costs.

xxxx SO ORDERED.

The parties have comported themselves as husband and wife and has [sic] one
offspring, Aliea Fatima Goo Abbas, who was born on 15 June 1993. It took appellee
more than ten (10) years before he filed on 01 August 2003 his Petition for
Declaration of Nullity of Marriage under Article 4 of the Family Code. We take
serious note that said Petition appears to have been instituted by him only after an
Information for Bigamy (Exhibit "1") dated 10 January 2003 was filed against him
for contracting a second or subsequent marriage with one Ma. Corazon (Maryam)
T. Buenaventura. We are not ready to reward (appellee) by declaring the nullity of
his marriage and give him his freedom and in the process allow him to profit from
his own deceit and perfidy.50
Respondent Judge, on the other hand, claims in his Comment that when he
officiated the marriage between Manzano and Payao he did not know that
Manzano was legally married. What he knew was that the two had been living
together as husband and wife for seven years already without the benefit of
marriage, as manifested in their joint affidavit.4 According to him, had he known
that the late Manzano was married, he would have advised the latter not to marry
again; otherwise, he (Manzano) could be charged with bigamy. He then prayed that
the complaint be dismissed for lack of merit and for being designed merely to
harass him.

FIRST DIVISION
After an evaluation of the Complaint and the Comment, the Court Administrator
recommended that respondent Judge be found guilty of gross ignorance of the law
A.M. No. MTJ-00-1329 March 8, 2001 and be ordered to pay a fine of P2,000, with a warning that a repetition of the
(Formerly A.M. No. OCA IPI No. 99-706-MTJ) same or similar act would be dealt with more severely.

HERMINIA BORJA-MANZANO, petitioner, On 25 October 2000, this Court required the parties to manifest whether they were
vs. willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings thus filed.
JUDGE ROQUE R. SANCHEZ, MTC, Infanta, Pangasinan, respondent. Complainant answered in the affirmative.

RESOLUTION For his part, respondent Judge filed a Manifestation reiterating his plea for the
dismissal of the complaint and setting aside his earlier Comment. He therein invites
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: the attention of the Court to two separate affidavits5 of the late Manzano and of
Payao, which were allegedly unearthed by a member of his staff upon his
The solemnization of a marriage between two contracting parties who were both instruction. In those affidavits, both David Manzano and Luzviminda Payao
bound by a prior existing marriage is the bone of contention of the instant expressly stated that they were married to Herminia Borja and Domingo Relos,
complaint against respondent Judge Roque R. Sanchez, Municipal Trial Court, respectively; and that since their respective marriages had been marked by
Infanta, Pangasinan. For this act, complainant Herminia Borja-Manzano charges constant quarrels, they had both left their families and had never cohabited or
respondent Judge with gross ignorance of the law in a sworn Complaint-Affidavit communicated with their spouses anymore. Respondent Judge alleges that on the
filed with the Office of the Court Administrator on 12 May 1999. basis of those affidavits, he agreed to solemnize the marriage in question in
accordance with Article 34 of the Family Code.
Complainant avers that she was the lawful wife of the late David Manzano, having
been married to him on 21 May 1966 in San Gabriel Archangel Parish, Araneta We find merit in the complaint.
Avenue, Caloocan City.1 Four children were born out of that marriage.2 On 22
March 1993, however, her husband contracted another marriage with one Article 34 of the Family Code provides:
Luzviminda Payao before respondent Judge.3 When respondent Judge solemnized
said marriage, he knew or ought to know that the same was void and bigamous, as No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman
the marriage contract clearly stated that both contracting parties were who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and
"separated." without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting
parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person
authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also
state under oath that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting stated, legal separation does not dissolve the marriage tie, much less authorize the
parties and found no legal impediment to the marriage. parties to remarry. This holds true all the more when the separation is merely de
facto, as in the case at bar.
For this provision on legal ratification of marital cohabitation to apply, the
following requisites must concur: Neither can respondent Judge take refuge on the Joint Affidavit of David Manzano
and Luzviminda Payao stating that they had been cohabiting as husband and wife
1. The man and woman must have been living together as husband and for seven years. Just like separation, free and voluntary cohabitation with another
wife for at least five years before the marriage; person for at least five years does not severe the tie of a subsisting previous
marriage. Marital cohabitation for a long period of time between two individuals
who are legally capacitated to marry each other is merely a ground for exemption
2. The parties must have no legal impediment to marry each other;
from marriage license. It could not serve as a justification for respondent Judge to
solemnize a subsequent marriage vitiated by the impediment of a prior existing
3. The fact of absence of legal impediment between the parties must be marriage.
present at the time of marriage;
Clearly, respondent Judge demonstrated gross ignorance of the law when he
4. The parties must execute an affidavit stating that they have lived solemnized a void and bigamous marriage. The maxim "ignorance of the law
together for at least five years [and are without legal impediment to excuses no one" has special application to judges,8 who, under Rule 1.01 of the
marry each other]; and Code of Judicial Conduct, should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and
independence. It is highly imperative that judges be conversant with the law and
5. The solemnizing officer must execute a sworn statement that he had basic legal principles.9 And when the law transgressed is simple and elementary,
ascertained the qualifications of the parties and that he had found no the failure to know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law.10
legal impediment to their marriage.6
ACCORDINGLY, the recommendation of the Court Administrator is hereby
Not all of these requirements are present in the case at bar. It is significant to note ADOPTED, with the MODIFICATION that the amount of fine to be imposed upon
that in their separate affidavits executed on 22 March 1993 and sworn to before respondent Judge Roque Sanchez is increased to P20,000.
respondent Judge himself, David Manzano and Luzviminda Payao expressly stated
the fact of their prior existing marriage. Also, in their marriage contract, it was SO ORDERED.
indicated that both were "separated."

Respondent Judge knew or ought to know that a subsisting previous marriage is a


diriment impediment, which would make the subsequent marriage null and
void.7 In fact, in his Comment, he stated that had he known that the late Manzano
was married he would have discouraged him from contracting another marriage.
And respondent Judge cannot deny knowledge of Manzanos and Payaos
subsisting previous marriage, as the same was clearly stated in their separate
affidavits which were subscribed and sworn to before him.

The fact that Manzano and Payao had been living apart from their respective
spouses for a long time already is immaterial. Article 63(1) of the Family Code
allows spouses who have obtained a decree of legal separation to live separately
from each other, but in such a case the marriage bonds are not severed. Elsewise
G.R. No. 133778 March 14, 2000 (3) Whether or not plaintiffs are estopped from assailing the validity of
the second marriage after it was dissolved due to their father's death. 1
ENGRACE NIAL for Herself and as Guardian ad Litem of the minors BABYLINE
NIAL, INGRID NIAL, ARCHIE NIAL & PEPITO NIAL, JR., petitioners, Thus, the lower court ruled that petitioners should have filed the action to declare
vs. null and void their father's marriage to respondent before his death, applying by
NORMA BAYADOG, respondent. analogy Article 47 of the Family Code which enumerates the time and the persons
who could initiate an action for annulment of marriage. 2 Hence, this petition for
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: review with this Court grounded on a pure question of law.

May the heirs of a deceased person file a petition for the declaration of nullity of This petition was originally dismissed for non-compliance with Section 11, Rule 13
his marriage after his death? of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and because "the verification failed to state
the basis of petitioner's averment that the allegations in the petition are "true and
correct"." It was thus treated as an unsigned pleading which produces no legal
Pepito Nial was married to Teodulfa Bellones on September 26, 1974. Out of their
effect under Section 3, Rule 7, of the 1997 Rules. 3 However, upon motion of
marriage were born herein petitioners. Teodulfa was shot by Pepito resulting in her
petitioners, this Court reconsidered the dismissal and reinstated the petition for
death on April 24, 1985. One year and 8 months thereafter or on December 11,
review. 4
1986, Pepito and respondent Norma Badayog got married without any marriage
license. In lieu thereof, Pepito and Norma executed an affidavit dated December
11, 1986 stating that they had lived together as husband and wife for at least five The two marriages involved herein having been solemnized prior to the effectivity
years and were thus exempt from securing a marriage license. On February 19, of the Family Code (FC), the applicable law to determine their validity is the Civil
1997, Pepito died in a car accident. After their father's death, petitioners filed a Code which was the law in effect at the time of their celebration. 5 A valid marriage
petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage of Pepito to Norma alleging that license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the Civil Code, 6 the absence of
the said marriage was void for lack of a marriage license. The case was filed under which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) 7 in relation to
the assumption that the validity or invalidity of the second marriage would affect Article 58. 8 The requirement and issuance of marriage license is the State's
petitioner's successional rights. Norma filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that demonstration of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in the
petitioners have no cause of action since they are not among the persons who maintenance of which the general public is interested. 9 This interest proceeds from
could file an action for "annulment of marriage" under Article 47 of the Family the constitutional mandate that the State recognizes the sanctity of family life and
Code. of affording protection to the family as a basic "autonomous social
institution." 10 Specifically, the Constitution considers marriage as an "inviolable
social institution," and is the foundation of family life which shall be protected by
Judge Ferdinand J. Marcos of the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City, Cebu, Branch
the State. 11 This is why the Family Code considers marriage as "a special contract
59, dismissed the petition after finding that the Family Code is "rather silent,
of permanent union" 12 and case law considers it "not just an adventure but a
obscure, insufficient" to resolve the following issues:
lifetime commitment." 13

(1) Whether or not plaintiffs have a cause of action against defendant in


However, there are several instances recognized by the Civil Code wherein a
asking for the declaration of the nullity of marriage of their deceased
marriage license is dispensed with, one of which is that provided in Article
father, Pepito G. Nial, with her specially so when at the time of the filing
76, 14 referring to the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together and
of this instant suit, their father Pepito G. Nial is already dead;
exclusively with each other as husband and wife for a continuous and unbroken
period of at least five years before the marriage. The rationale why no license is
(2) Whether or not the second marriage of plaintiffs' deceased father required in such case is to avoid exposing the parties to humiliation, shame and
with defendant is null and void ab initio; embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous cohabitation of persons outside a
valid marriage due to the publication of every applicant's name for a marriage
license. The publicity attending the marriage license may discourage such persons circumstances clearly fall within the ambit of the exception. It should be noted that
from legitimizing their status. 15 To preserve peace in the family, avoid the peeping a license is required in order to notify the public that two persons are about to be
and suspicious eye of public exposure and contain the source of gossip arising from united in matrimony and that anyone who is aware or has knowledge of any
the publication of their names, the law deemed it wise to preserve their privacy impediment to the union of the two shall make it known to the local civil
and exempt them from that requirement. registrar. 17 The Civil Code provides:

There is no dispute that the marriage of petitioners' father to respondent Norma Art. 63: . . . This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any
was celebrated without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, they executed an impediment to the marriage to advice the local civil registrar thereof. . . .
affidavit stating that "they have attained the age of majority, and, being unmarried,
have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years, and that we now Art. 64: Upon being advised of any alleged impediment to the marriage,
desire to marry each other." 16 The only issue that needs to be resolved pertains to the local civil registrar shall forthwith make an investigation, examining
what nature of cohabitation is contemplated under Article 76 of the Civil Code to persons under oath. . . .
warrant the counting of the five year period in order to exempt the future spouses
from securing a marriage license. Should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties
This is reiterated in the Family Code thus:
are capacitated to marry each other during the entire five-year continuous period
or should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties have lived together and
exclusively with each other as husband and wife during the entire five-year Art. 17 provides in part: . . . This notice shall request all persons having
continuous period regardless of whether there is a legal impediment to their being knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to advise the local civil
lawfully married, which impediment may have either disappeared or intervened registrar thereof. . . .
sometime during the cohabitation period?
Art. 18 reads in part: . . . In case of any impediment known to the local
Working on the assumption that Pepito and Norma have lived together as husband civil registrar or brought to his attention, he shall note down the
and wife for five years without the benefit of marriage, that five-year period should particulars thereof and his findings thereon in the application for a
be computed on the basis of a cohabitation as "husband and wife" where the only marriage license. . . .
missing factor is the special contract of marriage to validate the union. In other
words, the five-year common-law cohabitation period, which is counted back from This is the same reason why our civil laws, past or present, absolutely prohibited
the date of celebration of marriage, should be a period of legal union had it not the concurrence of multiple marriages by the same person during the same period.
been for the absence of the marriage. This 5-year period should be the years Thus, any marriage subsequently contracted during the lifetime of the first spouse
immediately before the day of the marriage and it should be a period of shall be illegal and void, 18 subject only to the exception in cases of absence or
cohabitation characterized by exclusivity meaning no third party was involved at where the prior marriage was dissolved or annulled. The Revised Penal Code
anytime within the 5 years and continuity that is unbroken. Otherwise, if that complements the civil law in that the contracting of two or more marriages and the
continuous 5-year cohabitation is computed without any distinction as to whether having of extramarital affairs are considered felonies, i.e., bigamy and concubinage
the parties were capacitated to marry each other during the entire five years, then and adultery. 19 The law sanctions monogamy.
the law would be sanctioning immorality and encouraging parties to have common
law relationships and placing them on the same footing with those who lived In this case, at the time of Pepito and respondent's marriage, it cannot be said that
faithfully with their spouse. Marriage being a special relationship must be they have lived with each other as husband and wife for at least five years prior to
respected as such and its requirements must be strictly observed. The presumption their wedding day. From the time Pepito's first marriage was dissolved to the time
that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife is based on of his marriage with respondent, only about twenty months had elapsed. Even
the approximation of the requirements of the law. The parties should not be assuming that Pepito and his first wife had separated in fact, and thereafter both
afforded any excuse to not comply with every single requirement and later use the Pepito and respondent had started living with each other that has already lasted
same missing element as a pre-conceived escape ground to nullify their marriage. for five years, the fact remains that their five-year period cohabitation was not the
There should be no exemption from securing a marriage license unless the
cohabitation contemplated by law. It should be in the nature of a perfect union regime governing voidable marriages is generally conjugal partnership and the
that is valid under the law but rendered imperfect only by the absence of the children conceived before its annulment are legitimate.
marriage contract. Pepito had a subsisting marriage at the time when he started
cohabiting with respondent. It is immaterial that when they lived with each other, Contrary to the trial court's ruling, the death of petitioner's father extinguished the
Pepito had already been separated in fact from his lawful spouse. The subsistence alleged marital bond between him and respondent. The conclusion is erroneous
of the marriage even where there was actual severance of the filial companionship and proceeds from a wrong premise that there was a marriage bond that was
between the spouses cannot make any cohabitation by either spouse with any dissolved between the two. It should be noted that their marriage was void hence
third party as being one as "husband and wife". it is deemed as if it never existed at all and the death of either extinguished
nothing.
Having determined that the second marriage involved in this case is not covered by
the exception to the requirement of a marriage license, it is void ab initio because Jurisprudence under the Civil Code states that no judicial decree is necessary in
of the absence of such element. order to establish the nullity of a marriage. 24 "A void marriage does not require a
judicial decree to restore the parties to their original rights or to make the marriage
The next issue to be resolved is: do petitioners have the personality to file a void but though no sentence of avoidance be absolutely necessary, yet as well for
petition to declare their father's marriage void after his death? the sake of good order of society as for the peace of mind of all concerned, it is
expedient that the nullity of the marriage should be ascertained and declared by
Contrary to respondent judge's ruling, Article 47 of the Family Code 20 cannot be the decree of a court of competent jurisdiction." 25 "Under ordinary circumstances,
applied even by analogy to petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage. The the effect of a void marriage, so far as concerns the conferring of legal rights upon
second ground for annulment of marriage relied upon by the trial court, which the parties, is as though no marriage had ever taken place. And therefore, being
allows "the sane spouse" to file an annulment suit "at anytime before the death of good for no legal purpose, its invalidity can be maintained in any proceeding in
either party" is inapplicable. Article 47 pertains to the grounds, periods and which the fact of marriage may be material, either direct or collateral, in any civil
persons who can file an annulment suit, not a suit for declaration of nullity of court between any parties at any time, whether before or after the death of either
marriage. The Code is silent as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of a or both the husband and the wife, and upon mere proof of the facts rendering such
marriage. Voidable and void marriages are not identical. A marriage that is marriage void, it will be disregarded or treated as non-existent by the courts." It is
annulable is valid until otherwise declared by the court; whereas a marriage that is not like a voidable marriage which cannot be collaterally attacked except in direct
void ab initio is considered as having never to have taken place 21 and cannot be proceeding instituted during the lifetime of the parties so that on the death of
the source of rights. The first can be generally ratified or confirmed by free either, the marriage cannot be impeached, and is made good ab initio. 26 But Article
cohabitation or prescription while the other can never be ratified. A voidable 40 of the Family Code expressly provides that there must be a judicial declaration
marriage cannot be assailed collaterally except in a direct proceeding while a void of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void, before a party can enter into a
marriage can be attacked collaterally. Consequently, void marriages can be second marriage 27 and such absolute nullity can be based only on a final judgment
questioned even after the death of either party but voidable marriages can be to that effect. 28 For the same reason, the law makes either the action or defense
assailed only during the lifetime of the parties and not after death of either, in for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage imprescriptible. 29 Corollarily, if
which case the parties and their offspring will be left as if the marriage had been the death of either party would extinguish the cause of action or the ground for
perfectly valid. 22 That is why the action or defense for nullity is imprescriptible, defense, then the same cannot be considered imprescriptible.
unlike voidable marriages where the action prescribes. Only the parties to a
voidable marriage can assail it but any proper interested party may attack a void However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to
marriage. Void marriages have no legal effects except those declared by law declare a marriage an absolute nullity.1wphi1 For other purposes, such as but not
concerning the properties of the alleged spouses, regarding co-ownership or limited to determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement
ownership through actual joint contribution, 23 and its effect on the children born of estate, dissolution of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the
to such void marriages as provided in Article 50 in relation to Article 43 and 44 as court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to
well as Article 51, 53 and 54 of the Family Code. On the contrary, the property question the same so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. This is
without prejudice to any issue that may arise in the case. When such need arises, a
final judgment of declaration of nullity is necessary even if the purpose is other
than to remarry. The clause "on the basis of a final judgment declaring such
previous marriage void" in Article 40 of the Family Code connotes that such final
judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of remarriage.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Order of the Regional Trial
Court, Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissing Civil Case No. T-639, is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. The said case is ordered REINSTATED.1wphi1.nt

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines Prosecutor complied and reported that she could not make a determination for
SUPREME COURT failure of both parties to appear at the scheduled investigation.
Manila
At the pre-trial, only Albios, her counsel and the prosecutor appeared. Fringer did
THIRD DIVISION not attend the hearing despite being duly notified of the schedule. After the pre-
trial, hearing on the merits ensued.
G.R. No. 198780 October 16, 2013
Ruling of the RTC
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
vs. In its April 25, 2008 Decision,5 the RTC declared the marriage void ab initio, the
LIBERTY D. ALBIOS, Respondent. dispositive portion of which reads:

DECISION WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the


marriage of Liberty Albios and Daniel Lee Fringer as void from the very beginning.
MENDOZA, J.: As a necessary consequence of this pronouncement, petitioner shall cease using
the surname of respondent as she never acquired any right over it and so as to
avoid a misimpression that she remains the wife of respondent.
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules t of Court
assailing the September 29, 2011 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R.
CV No. 95414, which affirmed the April 25, 2008Decision2 of the Regional Trial xxxx
Court, Imus, Cavite (RTC). declaring the marriage of Daniel Lee Fringer (Fringer) and
respondent Liberty Albios (A/bios) as void from the beginning. SO ORDERED.6

The facts The RTC was of the view that the parties married each other for convenience only.
Giving credence to the testimony of Albios, it stated that she contracted Fringer to
On October 22, 2004, Fringer, an American citizen, and Albios were married before enter into a marriage to enable her to acquire American citizenship; that in
Judge Ofelia I. Calo of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch59, Mandaluyong City consideration thereof, she agreed to pay him the sum of $2,000.00; that after the
(MeTC), as evidenced by a Certificate of Marriage with Register No. 2004-1588.3 ceremony, the parties went their separate ways; that Fringer returned to the
United States and never again communicated with her; and that, in turn, she did
not pay him the $2,000.00 because he never processed her petition for citizenship.
On December 6, 2006, Albios filed with the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity
The RTC, thus, ruled that when marriage was entered into for a purpose other than
4 of her marriage with Fringer. She alleged that immediately after their marriage,
the establishment of a conjugal and family life, such was a farce and should not be
they separated and never lived as husband and wife because they never really had
recognized from its inception.
any intention of entering into a married state or complying with any of their
essential marital obligations. She described their marriage as one made in jest and,
therefore, null and void ab initio . Petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG), filed a motion for reconsideration. The RTC issued the Order, 7
dated February 5, 2009, denying the motion for want of merit. It explained that the
Summons was served on Fringer but he did not file his answer. On September 13,
marriage was declared void because the parties failed to freely give their consent
2007, Albios filed a motion to set case for pre-trial and to admit her pre-trial brief.
to the marriage as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and used it only
The RTC ordered the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor to conduct an investigation
as a means to acquire American citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00.
and determine the existence of a collusion. On October 2, 2007, the Assistant
Not in conformity, the OSG filed an appeal before the CA. Ruling of the Court

Ruling of the CA The resolution of this case hinges on this sole question of law: Is a marriage,
contracted for the sole purpose of acquiring American citizenship in consideration
In its assailed decision, dated September 29, 2011, the CA affirmed the RTC ruling of $2,000.00, void ab initio on the ground of lack of consent?
which found that the essential requisite of consent was lacking. The CA stated that
the parties clearly did not understand the nature and consequence of getting The Court resolves in the negative.
married and that their case was similar to a marriage in jest. It further explained
that the parties never intended to enter into the marriage contract and never Before the Court delves into its ruling, It shall first examine the phenomenon of
intended to live as husband and wife or build a family. It concluded that their marriage fraud for the purposes of immigration.
purpose was primarily for personal gain, that is, for Albios to obtain foreign
citizenship, and for Fringer, the consideration of $2,000.00.
Marriage Fraud in Immigration

Hence, this petition.


The institution of marriage carries with it concomitant benefits. This has led to the
development of marriage fraud for the sole purpose of availing of particular
Assignment of Error benefits. In the United States, marriages where a couple marries only to achieve a
particular purpose or acquire specific benefits, have been referred to as "limited
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAWWHEN IT HELD THAT A purpose" marriages.11 A common limited purpose marriage is one entered into
MARRIAGE CONTRACTED FOR THEPURPOSE OF OBTAINING FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP solely for the legitimization of a child.12 Another, which is the subject of the present
WAS DONEIN JEST, HENCE, LACKING IN THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OFCONSENT. 8 case, is for immigration purposes. Immigration law is usually concerned with the
intention of the couple at the time of their marriage,13 and it attempts to filter out
The OSG argues that albeit the intention was for Albios to acquire American those who use marriage solely to achieve immigration status.14
citizenship and for Fringer to be paid $2,000.00, both parties freely gave their
consent to the marriage, as they knowingly and willingly entered into that marriage In 1975, the seminal case of Bark v. Immigration and Naturalization
and knew the benefits and consequences of being bound by it. According to the Service,15 established the principal test for determining the presence of marriage
OSG, consent should be distinguished from motive, the latter being fraud in immigration cases. It ruled that a "marriage is a sham if the bride and
inconsequential to the validity of marriage. groom did not intend to establish a life together at the time they were married.
"This standard was modified with the passage of the Immigration Marriage Fraud
The OSG also argues that the present case does not fall within the concept of a Amendment of 1986 (IMFA), which now requires the couple to instead
marriage in jest. The parties here intentionally consented to enter into a real and demonstrate that the marriage was not "entered into for the purpose of evading
valid marriage, for if it were otherwise, the purpose of Albios to acquire American the immigration laws of the United States." The focus, thus, shifted from
citizenship would be rendered futile. determining the intention to establish a life together, to determining the intention
of evading immigration laws.16 It must be noted, however, that this standard is
used purely for immigration purposes and, therefore, does not purport to rule on
On October 29, 2012, Albios filed her Comment9 to the petition, reiterating her
the legal validity or existence of a marriage.
stand that her marriage was similar to a marriage by way of jest and, therefore,
void from the beginning.
The question that then arises is whether a marriage declared as a sham or
fraudulent for the limited purpose of immigration is also legally void and in
On March 22, 2013, the OSG filed its Reply10 reiterating its arguments in its petition
existent. The early cases on limited purpose marriages in the United States made
for review on certiorari.
no definitive ruling. In 1946, the notable case of
United States v. Rubenstein17 was promulgated, wherein in order to allow an alien family life, such was a farce and should not be recognized from its inception. In its
to stay in the country, the parties had agreed to marry but not to live together and resolution denying the OSGs motion for reconsideration, the RTC went on to
to obtain a divorce within six months. The Court, through Judge Learned Hand, explain that the marriage was declared void because the parties failed to freely give
ruled that a marriage to convert temporary into permanent permission to stay in their consent to the marriage as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and
the country was not a marriage, there being no consent, to wit: used it only as a means for the respondent to acquire American citizenship.
Agreeing with the RTC, the CA ruled that the essential requisite of consent was
x x x But, that aside, Spitz and Sandler were never married at all. Mutual consent is lacking. It held that the parties clearly did not understand the nature and
necessary to every contract; and no matter what forms or ceremonies the parties consequence of getting married. As in the Rubenstein case, the CA found the
may go through indicating the contrary, they do not contract if they do not in fact marriage to be similar to a marriage in jest considering that the parties only
assent, which may always be proved. x x x Marriage is no exception to this rule: a entered into the marriage for the acquisition of American citizenship in exchange of
marriage in jest is not a marriage at all. x x x It is quite true that a marriage without $2,000.00. They never intended to enter into a marriage contract and never
subsequent consummation will be valid; but if the spouses agree to a marriage only intended to live as husband and wife or build a family.
for the sake of representing it as such to the outside world and with the
understanding that they will put an end to it as soon as it has served its purpose to The CAs assailed decision was, therefore, grounded on the parties supposed lack
deceive, they have never really agreed to be married at all. They must assent to of consent. Under Article 2 of the Family Code, consent is an essential requisite of
enter into the relation as it is ordinarily understood, and it is not ordinarily marriage. Article 4 of the same Code provides that the absence of any essential
understood as merely a pretence, or cover, to deceive others.18 requisite shall render a marriage void ab initio.

(Italics supplied) Under said Article 2, for consent to be valid, it must be (1) freely given and (2)
made in the presence of a solemnizing officer. A "freely given" consent requires
On the other end of the spectrum is the 1969 case of Mpiliris v. Hellenic that the contracting parties willingly and deliberately enter into the marriage.
Lines,19 which declared as valid a marriage entered into solely for the husband to Consent must be real in the sense that it is not vitiated nor rendered defective by
gain entry to the United States, stating that a valid marriage could not be avoided any of the vices of consent under Articles45 and 46 of the Family Code, such as
"merely because the marriage was entered into for a limited purpose."20 The 1980 fraud, force, intimidation, and undue influence.24Consent must also be conscious or
immigration case of Matter of McKee,21 further recognized that a fraudulent or intelligent, in that the parties must be capable of intelligently understanding the
sham marriage was intrinsically different from a non subsisting one. nature of, and both the beneficial or unfavorable consequences of their act.25 Their
understanding should not be affected by insanity, intoxication, drugs, or
hypnotism.26
Nullifying these limited purpose marriages for lack of consent has, therefore, been
recognized as problematic. The problem being that in order to obtain an
immigration benefit, a legal marriage is first necessary.22 At present, United States Based on the above, consent was not lacking between Albios and Fringer. In fact,
courts have generally denied annulments involving" limited purpose" marriages there was real consent because it was not vitiated nor rendered defective by any
where a couple married only to achieve a particular purpose, and have upheld such vice of consent. Their consent was also conscious and intelligent as they
marriages as valid.23 understood the nature and the beneficial and inconvenient consequences of their
marriage, as nothing impaired their ability to do so. That their consent was freely
given is best evidenced by their conscious purpose of acquiring American
The Court now turns to the case at hand.
citizenship through marriage. Such plainly demonstrates that they willingly and
deliberately contracted the marriage. There was a clear intention to enter into a
Respondents marriage not void real and valid marriage so as to fully comply with the requirements of an
application for citizenship. There was a full and complete understanding of the
In declaring the respondents marriage void, the RTC ruled that when a marriage legal tie that would be created between them, since it was that precise legal tie
was entered into for a purpose other than the establishment of a conjugal and which was necessary to accomplish their goal.
In ruling that Albios marriage was void for lack of consent, the CA characterized convenience, companionship, money, status, and title, provided that they comply
such as akin to a marriage by way of jest. A marriage in jest is a pretended with all the legal requisites,31are equally valid. Love, though the ideal consideration
marriage, legal in form but entered into as a joke, with no real intention of entering in a marriage contract, is not the only valid cause for marriage. Other
into the actual marriage status, and with a clear understanding that the parties considerations, not precluded by law, may validly support a marriage.
would not be bound. The ceremony is not followed by any conduct indicating a
purpose to enter into such a relation.27 It is a pretended marriage not intended to Although the Court views with disdain the respondents attempt to utilize marriage
be real and with no intention to create any legal ties whatsoever, hence, the for dishonest purposes, It cannot declare the marriage void. Hence, though the
absence of any genuine consent. Marriages in jest are void ab initio, not for respondents marriage may be considered a sham or fraudulent for the purposes of
vitiated, defective, or unintelligent consent, but for a complete absence of consent. immigration, it is not void ab initio and continues to be valid and subsisting.
There is no genuine consent because the parties have absolutely no intention of
being bound in any way or for any purpose.
Neither can their marriage be considered voidable on the ground of fraud under
Article 45 (3) of the Family Code. Only the circumstances listed under Article 46 of
The respondents marriage is not at all analogous to a marriage in the same Code may constitute fraud, namely, (1) non- disclosure of a previous
jest.1wphi1 Albios and Fringer had an undeniable intention to be bound in order conv1ctwn involving moral turpitude; (2) concealment by the wife of a pregnancy
to create the very bond necessary to allow the respondent to acquire American by another man; (3) concealment of a sexually transmitted disease; and (4)
citizenship. Only a genuine consent to be married would allow them to further their concealment of drug addiction, alcoholism, or homosexuality. No other
objective, considering that only a valid marriage can properly support an misrepresentation or deceit shall constitute fraud as a ground for an action to
application for citizenship. There was, thus, an apparent intention to enter into the annul a marriage. Entering into a marriage for the sole purpose of evading
actual marriage status and to create a legal tie, albeit for a limited purpose. immigration laws does not qualify under any of the listed circumstances.
Genuine consent was, therefore, clearly present. Furthermore, under Article 47 (3), the ground of fraud may only be brought by the
injured or innocent party. In the present case, there is no injured party because
The avowed purpose of marriage under Article 1 of the Family Code is for the Albios and Fringer both conspired to enter into the sham marriage.
couple to establish a conjugal and family life. The possibility that the parties in a
marriage might have no real intention to establish a life together is, however, Albios has indeed made a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage. Allowing
insufficient to nullify a marriage freely entered into in accordance with law. The her marriage with Fringer to be declared void would only further trivialize this
same Article 1 provides that the nature, consequences, and incidents of marriage inviolable institution. The Court cannot declare such a marriage void in the event
are governed by law and not subject to stipulation. A marriage may, thus, only be the parties fail to qualify for immigration benefits, after they have availed of its
declared void or voidable under the grounds provided by law. There is no law that benefits, or simply have no further use for it. These unscrupulous individuals
declares a marriage void if it is entered into for purposes other than what the cannot be allowed to use the courts as instruments in their fraudulent schemes.
Constitution or law declares, such as the acquisition of foreign citizenship. Albios already misused a judicial institution to enter into a marriage of
Therefore, so long as all the essential and formal requisites prescribed by law are convenience; she should not be allowed to again abuse it to get herself out of an
present, and it is not void or voidable under the grounds provided by law, it shall be inconvenient situation.
declared valid.28
No less than our Constitution declares that marriage, as an in violable social
Motives for entering into a marriage are varied and complex. The State does not institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.32 It
and cannot dictate on the kind of life that a couple chooses to lead. Any attempt to must, therefore, be safeguarded from the whims and caprices of the contracting
regulate their lifestyle would go into the realm of their right to privacy and would parties. This Court cannot leave the impression that marriage may easily be
raise serious constitutional questions.29 The right to marital privacy allows married entered into when it suits the needs of the parties, and just as easily nullified when
couples to structure their marriages in almost any way they see fit, to live together no longer needed.
or live apart, to have children or no children, to love one another or not, and so
on.30 Thus, marriages entered into for other purposes, limited or otherwise, such as
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The September 29, 2011 Decision of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 95414 is ANNULLED, and Civil Case No. 1134-06
is DISMISSED for utter lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.
whom he had five (5) children: Eusebio, Juan, Maria, Sofronia and Gonzalo. Lucio
himself died in 1942, while his second wife died in 1943.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT Of the three (3) children belonging to the first marriage only Margarita Perido is
Manila still living. Her deceased brother, Felix Perido, is survived by his children Inocencia,
Leonora, Albinio, Paulino, Letia, Leticia, and Eufemia, all surnamed Perido. Nicanora
FIRST DIVISION Perido, another daughter of Felix, is also deceased, but is survived by two (2) sons,
Rolando and Eduardo Salde.

Margarita's other deceased brother, Ismael Perido, is survived by his children,


namely: Consolacion, Alfredo, Wilfredo, and Amparo. Susano Perido, another son
G.R. No. L-28248 March 12, 1975
of Ismael, is dead, but survived by his own son George Perido.

LEONORA PERIDO, joined by husband MANUEL PIROTE, INOCENCIA PERIDO,


Of Lucio Perido's five (5) children by his second wife, two are already dead, namely:
ALBENIO PERIDO, PAULINO PERIDO, LETIA PERIDO, joined by husband
Eusebio and Juan. Eusebio is survived by his children Magdalena Perido, Pacita
BIENVENIDO BALYAO, LETICIA PERIDO, joined by husband FELIX VILLARUZ,
Perido, Alicia Perido, Josefina Perido, Fe Perido, Teresa Perido, and Luz Perido,
EUFEMIA PERIDO, CONSOLACION PERIDO, ALFREDO PERIDO, GEORGE PERIDO,
while Juan is survived by his only child, Juan A. Perido.
AMPARO PERIDO, WILFREDO PERIDO, MARGARITA PERIDO, ROLANDO SALDE and
EDUARDO SALDE, petitioners,
vs. On August 15, 1960 the children and grandchildren of the first and second
MARIA PERIDO, SOFRONIO PERIDO, JUAN A. PERIDO, GONZALO PERIDO, PACITA marriages of Lucio Perido executed a document denominated as "Declaration of
PERIDO, MAGDALENA PERIDO, ALICIA PERIDO, JOSEFINA PERIDO, FE PERIDO, Heirship and Extra-judicial Partition," whereby they partitioned among themselves
TERESA PERIDO and LUZ PERIDO, respondents. Lots Nos. 458, 471, 506, 511, 509, 513-B, 807, and 808, all of the Cadastral Survey
of Himamaylan, Occidental Negros.
Januario L. Jison, Jr. for petitioners.
Evidently the children belonging to the first marriage of Lucio Perido had second
thoughts about the partition. On March 8, 1962 they filed a complaint in the Court
Antonio T. de Jesus for respondents.
of First Instance of Negros Occidental, which complaint was later amended on
February 22, 1963, against the children of the second marriage, praying for the
annulment of the so-called "Declaration of Heirship and Extra-Judicial Partition"
and for another partition of the lots mentioned therein among the plaintiffs alone.
MAKALINTAL, C.J.:+.wph!1 They alleged, among other things, that they had been induced by the defendants to
execute the document in question through misrepresentation, false promises and
This is an appeal by certiorari from the decision of the Court of Appeals in its CA- fraudulent means; that the lots which were partitioned in said document belonged
G.R. No. 37034-R, affirming the decision of the Court of First Instance of Negros to the conjugal partnership of the spouses Lucio Perido and Benita Talorong, and
Occidental in Civil Case No. 6529. that the five children of Lucio Perido with Marcelina Baliguat were all illegitimate
and therefore had no successional rights to the estate of Lucio Perido, who died in
1942. The defendants denied the foregoing allegations.
Lucio Perido of Himamaylan, Negros Occidental, married twice during his lifetime.
His first wife was Benita Talorong, with whom he begot three (3) children: Felix,
Ismael, and Margarita. After Benita died Lucio married Marcelina Baliguat, with After trial the lower court rendered its decision dated July 31, 1965, annulling the
"Declaration of Heirship and Extra-Judicial Partition." However, it did not order the
partition of the lots involved among the plaintiffs exclusively in view of its findings Susano Perido, but he is already dead with one son, the same
that the five children of Lucio Perido with his second wife, Marcelina Baliguat, were goes to George Perido, of age, single; 1/40 to Wilfredo Perido,
legitimate; that all the lots, except Lot No. 458, were the exclusive properties of of age, single; 1/8 belongs to Margarita Perido, of age, widow;
Lucio Perido; and that 11/12 of Lot No. 458 belonged to the conjugal partnership of 1/8 belongs to Eusebio Perido, but because he is already dead
Lucio Perido and his second wife, Marcelina Baliguat. The dispositive portion of the with seven children, the same should be divided and alloted as
decision reads as follows:t.hqw follows: 1/56 goes to Pacita Perido, of age, single; 1/56 goes to
Magdalena Perido, of age, single; 1/56 goes to Alicia Perido, of
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court renders judgment age, married to Isaias Ruiz; 1/56 goes to Josefina Perido, of age,
as follows: declaring the following as the legitimate children married to Leopoldo Doloroso; 1/56 goes to Fe Perido, of age,
and grandchildren and heirs of Lucio Perido and Benita single; 1/56 goes to Teresa Perido, of are single; 1/56 goes to
Talorong: Felix Perido, deceased; grandchildren: Inocencia Luz Perido, of age, married to Fidel de la Cruz; 1/8 belongs to
Perido, Leonora Perido, Albinio Perido, Paulino Perido, Letia Juan B. Perido, but because he is already dead with one child,
Perido, Leticia Perido, Eufemia Perido; Nicanora Perido, the same 1/8 goes to Juan A. Perido, of age, married to Salud
deceased; great grandchildren: Rolando Salde and Eduardo Salgado 1/8 goes to Maria Perido. of age, married to Julio
Salde; Ismael Perido, deceased; grandchildren: Consolacion Pirote; 1/8 goes to Sofronia Perido, of age, widow; and, 1/8
Perido, Alfredo Perido, Susano Perido, deceased; great goes to Gonzalo Perido, of age, married to Lacomemoracion
grandson: George Perido; Amparo Perido and Wilfredo Perido; Estiller; (4) declaring the 11/12 shares in Lot No. 458 as
and, Margarita Perido; (2) declaring the following as the conjugal partnership property of Lucio Perido and Marcelina
legitimate children and grandchildren and heirs of Lucio Perido Baliguat, which should be divided and alloted as follows: 11/24
and Marcelina Baliguat: Eusebio Perido, deceased; goes to Lucio Perido to be divided into eight (8) equal shares
grandchildren: Pacita Perido, Magdalena Perido, Alicia Perido, and 11/24 goes to Marcelina Baliguat to be divided into five (5)
Josefina Perido, Fe Perido, Teresa Perido, and Luz Perido; Juan equal shares or 11/120 for each of the children and again to be
B. Perido, deceased; grandson, Juan A. Perido; Maria Perido; divided by the children of each child now deceased; (6)
Sofronia Perido; and Gonzalo Perido; (3) declaring all lots (471, declaring Fidel Perido owner of 1/12 share in Lot 458 to be
506, 511, 509, 513-part, 807, and 808) except Lot No. 458 as divided among his heirs to be determined accordingly later; and
exclusive properties of Lucio Perido so that each of them should (6) declaring null and void Exhibit "J" of the plaintiffs which is
be divided into eight (8) equal parts: 1/8 belongs to Felix Exhibit "10" for the defendants, without costs and without
Perido, but because of his death leaving eight (8) children, the adjudication with respect to the counterclaim and damages,
same should be divided and alloted as follows: 1/64 to they being members of the same family, for equity and justice.
Inocencia Perido of age, widow; 1/64 to Leonora Perido, of age,
married to Manuel Pirote; 1/64 to Albinio Perido, of age, The plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Appeals, alleging that the trial court erred:
married to Honorata Villasana; 1/64 to Paulino Perido, of age, (1) in declaring that Eusebio Perido, Juan Perido, Maria Perido, Sofronia Perido and
married to Norma Villalba 1/64 to Letia Perido, of age, married Gonzalo Perido, were the legitimate children of Lucio Perido and his second wife,
to Bienvenido Balyac; 1/64 to Leticia Perido, of age, married to Marcelina Baliguat; (2) in declaring that Lucio Perido was the exclusive owner of
Felix Villaruz; 1/64 to Eufemia Perido, of age, single; 1/64 to Lots Nos. 471, 506, 511, 509, 513-Part, 807, and 808 of Cadastral Survey of
Nicanora Perido, but because she is now dead the same should Himamaylan, Negros Occidental, and in not declaring that said lots were the
be divided and alloted as follows: 1/128 to Rolando Salde, of conjugal partnership property of Lucio Perido and his first wife, Benita Talorong;
age, single; and 1/128 to Eduardo Salde, of age, single; 1/8 and (3) in holding that 11/12 of Lot 458 was the conjugal partnership property of
belongs to Ismael Perido, but because he is already dead Lucio Perido and Marcelina Baliguat.
leaving five children, the same should be divided and alloted as
follows: 1/40 to Consolacion Perido, of age, widow; 1/40 to Finding no reversible error in the decision of the lower court, the Court of Appeals
Alfredo Perido, of age married to Trinidad Tamargo; 1/40 to affirmed it in toto. The appellants moved to reconsider but were turned down.
Thereupon they instituted he instant petition for review reiterating in effect the wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage." (Sec. 334, No. 28) Semper
assignments of error and the arguments in the brief they submitted to the praesumitur pro matrimonio Always presume marriage."
appellate court.
While the alleged marriage ceremony in 1925, if true, might tend to rebut the
The first issue pertains to the legitimacy of the five children of Lucio Perido with presumption of marriage arising from previous cohabitation, it is to be noted that
Marcelina Baliguat. The petitioners insist that said children were illegitimate on the both the trial court and the appellate court did not even pass upon the
theory that the first three were born out of wedlock even before the death of Lucio uncorroborated testimony of petitioner Leonora Perido on the matter. The reason
Perido's first wife, while the last two were also born out of wedlock and were not is obvious. Said witness, when asked why she knew that Marcelina Baliguat was
recognized by their parents before or after their marriage. In support of their married to Lucio Perido only in 1925, merely replied that she knew it because
contention they allege that Benita Talorong died in 1905, after the first three "during the celebration of the marriage by the Aglipayan priest (they) got flowers
children were born, as testified to by petitioner Margarita Perido and corroborated from (their) garden and placed in the altar." Evidently she was not even an
by petitioner Leonora Perido; that as late as 1923 Lucio Perido was still a widower, eyewitness to the ceremony.
as shown on the face of the certificates of title issued to him in said year; and Lucio
Perido married his second wife, Marcelina Baliguat, only in 1925, as allegedly In view of the foregoing the Court of Appeals did not err in concluding that the five
established through the testimony of petitioner Leonora Perido. children of Lucio Perido and Marcelina Baliguat were born during their marriage
and, therefore, legitimate.
The petition cannot be sustained. The Court of Appeals found that there was
evidence to show that Lucio Perido's wife, Benita Talorong, died during the Spanish The second assignment of error refers to the determination of whether or not Lots
regime. This finding conclusive upon us and beyond our power of review. Under Nos. 471, 506, 511, 509-513-Part, 807 and 808 were the exclusive properties of
the circumstance, Lucio Perido had no legal impediment to marry Marcelina Lucio Perido. In disposing of the contention of the petitioners that said lots belong
Baliguat before the birth of their first child in 1900. to the conjugal partnership of spouses Lucio Perido and Benita Talorong, the Court
of Appeals said:t.hqw
With respect to the civil status of Lucio Perido as stated in the certificates of title
issued to him in 1923, the Court of Appeals correctly held that the statement was ... We cannot agree again with them on this point. It is to be
not conclusive to show that he was not actually married to Marcelina Baliguat. noted that the lands covered by the certificates of title (Exhs. B
Furthermore, it is weak and insufficient to rebut the presumption that persons to G) were all declared in the name of Lucio Perido. Then there
living together husband and wife are married to each other. This presumption, is evidence showing that the lands were inherited by Lucio
especially where legitimacy of the issue is involved, as in this case, may be Perido from his grandmother (t.s.n., p. 21, Feb. 20, 1964). In
overcome only by cogent proof on the part of those who allege the illegitimacy. In other words, they were the exclusive properties of the late
the case of Adong vs. Cheong Seng Gee1 this Court explained the rationale behind Lucio Perido which he brought into the first and second
this presumption, thus: "The basis of human society throughout the civilized world marriages. By fiat of law said Properties should be divided
is that of marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it is a accordingly among his legal heirs.
new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply
interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing
The petitioners take exception to the finding of the appellate court that the
matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the
aforementioned lots were inherited by Lucio Perido from his grandmother and
absence of any counter-presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact
contend that they were able to establish through the testimonies of their witnesses
married. The reason is that such is the common order of society, and if the parties
that the spouses Lucio Perido and Benita Talorong acquired them during their
were not what they thus hold themselves out as being, they would he living in the
lifetime. Again, the petitioners cannot be sustained. The question involves
constant violation of decency and of law. A presumption established by our Code of
appreciation of the evidence, which is within the domain of the Court of Appeals,
Civil Procedure is "that a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and
the factual findings of which are not reviewable by this Court.
The third assignment of error is with regard to the ruling of the Court of Appeals WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby affirmed, with costs
sustaining the finding of the trial court that 11/12 of Lot 458 was the conjugal against the petitioners.
partnership property of Lucio Perido and his second wife, Marcelina Baliguat. Said
the appellate court:t.hqw Castro, Teehankee, Makasiar and Esguerra, JJ., concur.1wph1.t

With respect to Lot No. 458 which is now covered by Original Muoz Palma, J., is on leave.
Certificate of Title No. 21769 issued in 1925 the same should be
considered conjugally owned by Lucio Perido and his second
wife, Marcelina Baliguat. The finding of the lower court on this
point need not be disturbed. It is expressly stated in the
certificate of title (Exh. L) that Lucio Perido, the registered
owner, was married to Marcelina Baliguat unlike in the
previous land titles. If the law presumes a property registered
in the name of only one of the spouses to be conjugal
(Guinguing vs. Abutin, 48 Phil. 144; Flores vs. Flores, 48 Phil.
288, Escutin vs. Escutin, 60 Phil. 922), the presumption
becomes stronger when the document recites that the spouse
in whose name the land is registered is married to somebody
else, like in the case at bar. It appearing that the legal
presumption that the No. 458 belonged to the conjugal
partnership had not been overcome by clear proofs to the
contrary, we are constrained to rule, that the same is the
conjugal property of the deceased spouses Lucio Perido and
Marcelina Baliguat.

In impugning the foregoing ruling, the petitioners maintain that they were able to
prove that 6/12 of said Lot 458 was the conjugal property of spouses Lucio Perido
and his first wife, Benita Talorong, and that the purchase price of the additional
5/12 of said lot came from the proceeds of sale of a lot allegedly belonging to Lucio
Perido and his three children of the first marriage. As in the second assignment of
error, the issue raised here also involves appreciation of the evidence and,
consequently, the finding of the appellate court on the matter is binding on this
Court. Indeed, a review of that finding would require an examination of all the
evidence introduced before the trial court, a consideration of the credibility of
witnesses and of the circumstances surrounding the case, their relevancy or
relation to one another and to the whole, as well as an appraisal of the
probabilities of the entire situation. It would thus abolish the distinction between
an ordinary appeal on the one hand and review on certiorari on the other, and thus
defeat the purpose for which the latter procedure has been established.2
previous judicial annulment of said bigamous marriage; and the case of People vs.
Cotas, 40 Off. Gaz., 3134, is cited.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT The decision invoked by the Solicitor General, rendered by the Court of Appeals, is
Manila not controlling. Said case is essentially different, because the defendant therein,
Jose Cotas, impeached the validity of his first marriage for lack of necessary
EN BANC formalities, and the Court of Appeals found his factual contention to be without
merit.
G.R. No. L-5877 September 28, 1954
In the case at bar, it is admitted that appellant's second marriage with Olga Lema
was contracted during the existence of his first marriage with Jovita de Asis.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
Section 29 of the marriage law (act 3613), in force at the time the appellant
vs.
contracted his second marriage in 1941, provides as follows:1wphl.nt
ARTURO MENDOZA, defendant-appellant.

Illegal marriages. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any


Nestor A. Andrada for appellant.
person during the lifetime of the first spouse of such person with any
Office of the Solicitor General Pompeyo Diaz and Solicitor Felicisimo R. Rosete for
person other than such first spouse shall be illegal and void from its
appellee.
performance, unless:

PARAS, C.J.:
(a) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved;

The defendant, Arturo Mendoza, has appealed from a judgment of the Court of
(b) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive
First Instance of Laguna, finding him guilty of the crime of bigamy and sentencing
years at the time of the second marriage without the spouse
him to imprisonment for an indeterminate term of from 6 months and 1 day to 6
present having news of the absentee being alive, or the
years, with costs.
absentee being generally considered as dead and believed to
be so by the spouse present at the time of contracting such
The following facts are undisputed: On August 5, 1936, the appellant and Jovita de subsequent marriage, the marriage so contracted being valid in
Asis were married in Marikina, Rizal. On May 14, 1941, during the subsistence of either case until declared null and void by a competent court.
the first marriage, the appellant was married to Olga Lema in the City of Manila. On
February 2, 1943, Jovita de Asis died. On August 19, 1949, the appellant contracted
This statutory provision plainly makes a subsequent marriage contracted by any
another marriage with Carmencita Panlilio in Calamba, Laguna. This last marriage
person during the lifetime of his first spouse illegal and void from its performance,
gave rise to his prosecution for and conviction of the crime of bigamy.
and no judicial decree is necessary to establish its invalidity, as distinguished from
mere annulable marriages. There is here no pretence that appellant's second
The appellant contends that his marriage with Olga Lema on May 14, 1941 is null marriage with Olga Lema was contracted in the belief that the first spouse, Jovita
and void and, therefore, non-existent, having been contracted while his first de Asis, has been absent for seven consecutive years or generally considered as
marriage with Jovita de Asis August 5, 1936 was still in effect, and that his third dead, so as to render said marriage valid until declared null and void by a
marriage to Carmencita Panlilio on August 19, 1949 cannot be the basis of a charge competent court.1wphl.nt
for bigamy because it took place after the death of Jovita de Asis. The Solicitor
General, however, argues that, even assuming that appellant's second marriage to
Wherefore, the appealed judgment is reversed and the defendant-appellant
Olga Lema is void, he is not exempt from criminal liability, in the absence of a
acquitted, with costs de officio so ordered.
Pablo, Bengzon, Jugo, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, and Reyes, J.B.L.,
JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

REYES, J., dissenting:

I dissent.

Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code punishes with prision mayor "any person who
shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has
been legally dissolved".

Though the logical may say that where the former marriage was void there would
be nothing to dissolve still it is not for the spouses to judge whether that marriage
was void or not. That judgment is reserved to the courts. As Viada says "La santidad
e importancia del matrinonio no permite que los casados juzguen por si mismos de
su nulidad; esta ha de someterse precisamente al judicio del Tribunal competente,
y cuando este declare la nulidad del matrimonio, y solo entonces, se tendra por
nulo; mientras no exista esta declaracion, la presuncion esta siempre a favor de la
validez del matrimonio, y de consiguente, el que contrae otro segundo antes de
dicha declaracion de nulidad, no puede menos de incurrir la pena de este
articulo."(3 Viada, Codigo penal p. 275.)

"This is a sound opinion," says Mr. Justice Tuason in the case of People vs. Jose
Cotas, (CA), 40 Off. Gaz., 3145, "and is in line with the well-known rule established
in cases of adultery, that "until by competent authority in a final judgment the
marriage contract is set aside, the offense to the vows taken and the attack on the
family exist."

Padilla and Montemayor, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines the accused brought Maria Faicol to Cebu City in 1940, where she worked
SUPREME COURT as a teacher-nurse.
Manila
It would seem that the accused and Maria Faicol did not live a happy
EN BANC marital life in Cebu, for it appears that in 1949 and 1950, Maria Faicol
suffered injuries to her eyes because of physical maltreatment in the
G.R. No. L-10016 February 28, 1957 hands of the accused. On January 22, 1953, the accused sent Maria Faicol
to Iloilo, allegedly for the purpose of undergoing treatment of her
eyesight. During her absence, the accused contracted a third marriage
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appelle,
with a certain Jesusa C. Maglasang on October 3, 1953, in Sibonga, Cebu.
vs.
(See Exhibits "C", "D", "E" and "F")
PROCESO S. ARAGON, defendant-appellant.

The accused admitted having contracted marriage with Jesusa C.


Office of the Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla and Solicitor Adolfo Brillantes for
Maglasangin Sibonga, Cebu, on October 3, 1953, Although the accused
appellee.
made an attempt to deny his previous marriage with Maria Faicol, the
Prospero V. Manuel, Fernando Moncada and Antonio Abad Tornis for defendant
Court, however, believes that the attempt is futile for the fact of the said
and appellant.
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
LABRADOR, J.: 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,
Appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Cebu finding appellant 40, 41, hearing of April 27, 1954).
guilty of bigamy. The facts are not disputed and, as found by the trial court, are as
follows: The Court of First Instance of Cebu held that even in the absence of an express
provision in Act No. 3613 authorizing the filing of an action for judicial declaration
On September 28, 1925, the accused, under the name of Proceso Rosima, of nullity of a marriage void ab initio, defendant could not legally contract marriage
contracted marriage with a certain Maria Gorrea in the Philippine with Jesusa C. Maglasang without the dissolution of his marriage to Maria Faicol,
Independent Church in Cebu (Exhibits "1" and "1-A"). While his marriage either by the death of the latter or by the judicial declaration of the nullity of such
with Maria Gorrea was subsisting, the accused under the name of marriage, at the instance of the latter. Authorities given for this ruling are 5 Viada,
Proceso Aragon, contracted a canonical marriage with Maria Faicol on 5th edition, 651; 35 American Jurisprudence, Marriage, Sec. 46, p. 212; Bickford vs.
August 27, 1934, in the Santa Teresita Church in Iloilo City. Bickford, 74 N. H. 466, 69 A. 579.

The sponsors of the accused and Maria Faicol were Eulogio Giroy, who Appellant in this Court relies on the case of People vs. Mendoza, (95 Phil., 845; 50
was then an employee of the Office of the Municipal Treasurer of Iloilo, Off. Gaz., [10] 4767). In this case the majority of this Court declared:
and a certain Emilio Tomesa, a clerk in the said office (Exhibit "A" and
testimonies of Eulogio Giroy and complainant Maria Faicol). After the said The statutory provision (section 29 of the Marriage Law or Act No. 3613)
marriage, the accused and Maria Faicol established residence in Iloilo. As plainly makes a subsequent marriage contracted by any person during
the accused was then a traveling salesman, he commuted between Iloilo the lifetime of his first spouse illegal and void from its performance, and
where he maintained Maria Faicol, and Cebu where he maintained his no judicial decree is necessary to establish its invalidity, as distinguished
first wife, Maria Gorrea died in Cebu City on August 5, 1939 (Exhibit "2"). from mere annullable marriages. There is here no pretense that
After Maria Gorrea's death, and seeing that the coast was dear in Cebu, appellant's second marriage with Olga Lema was contracted in the belief
that the first spouse, Jovita de Asis, had been absent for seven
consecutive years or generally considered as dead, so as to render said
marriage valid until declared null and void by a subsequent court.

We are of the very weighty reasons by Justice Alex Reyes in the dissent in the case
above-quoted But this weighty reasons notwithstanding, the very fundamental
principle of strict construction of penal laws in favor of the accused, which principle
we may not ignore, seems to justify our stand in the above-cited case of People vs.
Mendoza. Our Revised Penal Code is of recent enactment and had the rule
enunciated in Spain and in America requiring judicial declaration of nullity of ab
initio void marriages been within the contemplation of the legislature, an express
provision to that effect would or should have been inserted in the law. In its
absence, we are bound by said rule of strict interpretation already adverted to.

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 appellant's prosecution for contracting this marriage can not
prosper.

For the foregoing considerations, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed
and the defendant-appellant acquitted, with costs de oficio, without prejudice to
his prosecution for having contracted the second bigamous marriage. So ordered.

Paras, C. J., Bengzon, Bautista Angelo, Reyes, J. B. L., Endencia, and Felix,
JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines In Special Proceedings No. 1587-M for Correction of Entry, petitioner sought to
SUPREME COURT correct the name of the surviving spouse in the death certificate from "Maria
Manila Clemente" to "Serafia G. Tolentino", her name. The lower Court dismissed the
petition "for lack of the proper requisites under the law" and indicated the need for
FIRST DIVISION a more detailed proceeding,

G.R. No. L-43905 May 30, 1983 Conformably thereto, petitioner filed the case below against private respondent
and the Local Civil Registrar of Paombong, Bulacan, for her declaration as the lawful
surviving spouse, and the correction of the death certificate of Amado. In an Order,
SERAFIA G. TOLENTINO, petitioner,
dated October 21, 1976, respondent Court, upon private respondent's instance,
vs.
dismissed the case, stating:
HON. EDGARDO L. PARAS, MARIA CLEMENTE and THE LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF
PAOMBONG, BULACAN, respondents.
The Motion to Dismiss filed by the defendants in this case, thru
counsel Atty. Hernan E. Arceo, for the reasons therein
Amelita G. Tolentino for petitioner.
mentioned, is hereby GRANTED. Further: (1) the correction of
the entry in the Office of the Local Civil Registrar is not the
Hermin E. Arceo for Maria Clemente. proper remedy because the issue involved is marital
relationship; (2) the Court has not acquired proper jurisdiction
The Solicitor General for respondents. because as prescribed under Art. 108, read together with Art.
412 of the Civil Code publication is needed in a case like this,
and up to now, there has been no such publication; and (3) in a
sense, the subject matter of this case has been aptly discussed
in Special Proceeding No. 1587-M, which this Court has already
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.: dismissed, for lack of the proper requisites under the law.

The reversal of respondent Court's Order, dismissing petitioner's suit for her In view of the above dismissal, all other motions in this case are
"declaration ... as the lawful surviving spouse of deceased Amado Tolentino and hereby considered MOOT and ACADEMIC.
the correction of the death certificate of the same", is sought in this Petition for
Review on Certiorari.
SO ORDERED. 1

The records disclose that Amado Tolentino had contracted a second marriage with
private respondent herein, Maria Clemente, at Paombong, Bulacan, on November Thus, petitioner's present recourse mainly challenging the grounds relied upon by
1, 1948 (Annex "C", Petition), while his marriage with petitioner, Serafia G. respondent Court in ordering dismissal.
Tolentino, celebrated on July 31, 1943, was still subsisting (Annex "A", Petition).
We rule for petitioner.
Petitioner charged Amado with Bigamy in Criminal Case No. 2768 of the Court of
First Instance of Bulacan, Branch II, which Court, upon Amado's plea of guilty, First, for the remedy. Although petitioner's ultimate objective is the correction of
sentenced him to suffer the corresponding penalty. After Amado had served the entry contemplated in Article 412 of the Civil Code and Rule 108 of the Rules of
prison sentence imposed on him, he continued to live with private respondent until Court, she initially seeks a judicial declaration that she is the lawful surviving
his death on July 25, 1974. His death certificate carried the entry "Name of spouse of the deceased, Amado, in order to lay the basis for the correction of the
Surviving Spouse Maria Clemente." entry in the death certificate of said deceased. The suit below is a proper remedy. It
is of an adversary character as contrasted to a mere summary proceeding. A claim No costs.
of right is asserted against one who has an interest in contesting it. Private
respondent, as the individual most affected; is a party defendant, and has SOORDERED.
appeared to contest the petition and defend her interests. The Local Civil Registrar
is also a party defendant. The publication required by the Court below pursuant to
Teehankee, (Chairman), Plana, Vasquez and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is not absolutely necessary for no other parties are
involved. After all, publication is required to bar indifferently all who might be
minded to make an objection of any sort against the right sought to be Relova, J., is on leave.
established. 2 Besides, even assuming that this is a proceeding under Rule 108, it
was the Court that was caned upon to order the publication, 3 but it did not. in the
ultimate analysis, Courts are not concerned so much with the form of actions as
with their substance. 4

Second, for the merits. Considering that Amado, upon his own plea, was convicted
for Bigamy, that sentence furnishes the necessary proof of the marital status of
petitioner and the deceased. There is no better proof of marriage than the
admission by the accused of the existence of such marriage. 5 The second marriage
that he contracted with private respondent during the lifetime of his first spouse is
null and void from the beginning and of no force and effect. 6 No judicial decree is
necessary to establish the invalidity of a void marriage. 7 It can be safely concluded,
then, without need of further proof nor remand to the Court below, that private
respondent is not the surviving spouse of the deceased Amado, but petitioner.
Rectification of the erroneous entry in the records of the Local Civil Registrar may,
therefore, be validly made.

Having arrived at the foregoing conclusion, the other issues raised need no longer
be discussed.

In fine, since there is no question regarding the invalidity of Amado's second


marriage with private respondent and that the entry made in the corresponding
local register is thereby rendered false, it may be corrected. 8 While document such
as death and birth certificates, are public and entries therein are presumed to be
correct, such presumption is merely disputable and will have to yield to more
positive evidence establishing their inaccuracy. 9

WHEREFORE, the Order, dated October 21, 1975, of respondent Court is hereby set
aside and petitioner, Serafia G. Tolentino, hereby declared the surviving spouse of
the deceased Amado Tolentino. Let the corresponding correction be made in the
latter's death certificate in the records of the Local Civil Registrar of Paombong,
Bulacan.
Republic of the Philippines (2) that the first husband was at the time of the marriage in 1972 already married
SUPREME COURT to someone else.
Manila
Respondent judge ruled against the presentation of evidence because the
SECOND DIVISION existence of force exerted on both parties of the first marriage had already been
agreed upon. Hence, the present petition for certiorari assailing the following
G.R. No. L-53703 August 19, 1986 Orders of therespondent Judge-

LILIA OLIVA WIEGEL, petitioner, (1) the Order dated March 17, 1980 in which the parties were compelled to submit
vs. the case for resolution based on "agreed facts;" and
THE HONORABLE ALICIA V. SEMPIO-DIY (as presiding judge of the Juvenile and
Domestic Relations Court of Caloocan City) and KARL HEINZ WIEGEL, respondents. (2) the Order dated April 14, 1980, denying petitioner's motion to allow her to
present evidence in her favor.
Dapucanta, Dulay & Associates for petitioner.
We find the petition devoid of merit.
Siguion Reyna, Montecillo and Ongsiako Law Office for private respondent.
There is no need for petitioner to prove that her first marriage was vitiated by force
committed against both parties because assuming this to be so, the marriage will
not be void but merely viodable (Art. 85, Civil Code), and therefore valid until
annulled. Since no annulment has yet been made, it is clear that when she married
PARAS, J.:
respondent she was still validly married to her first husband, consequently, her
marriage to respondent is VOID (Art. 80, Civil Code).
In an action (Family Case No. 483) filed before the erstwhile Juvenile and Domestic
Relations Court of Caloocan City, herein respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel (plaintiff
There is likewise no need of introducing evidence about the existing prior marriage
therein) asked for the declaration of Nullity of his marriage (celebrated on July,
of her first husband at the time they married each other, for then such a marriage
1978 at the Holy Catholic Apostolic Christian Church Branch in Makati, Metro
though void still needs according to this Court a judicial declaration 1 of such fact
Manila) with herein petitioner Lilia Oliva Wiegel (Lilia, for short, and defendant
and for all legal intents and purposes she would still be regarded as a married
therein) on the ground of Lilia's previous existing marriage to one Eduardo A.
woman at the time she contracted her marriage with respondent Karl Heinz
Maxion, the ceremony having been performed on June 25, 1972 at our Lady of
Wiegel); accordingly, the marriage of petitioner and respondent would be regarded
Lourdes Church in Quezon City. Lilia, while admitting the existence of said prior
VOID under the law.
subsisting marriage claimed that said marriage was null and void, she and the first
husband Eduardo A. Maxion having been allegedly forced to enter said marital
union. In the pre-trial that ensued, the issue agreed upon by both parties was the WHEREFORE, this petition is hereby DISMISSED, for lack of merit, and the Orders
status of the first marriage (assuming the presence of force exerted against both complained of are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
parties): was said prior marriage void or was it merely voidable? Contesting the
validity of the pre-trial order, Lilia asked the respondent court for an opportunity to SO ORDERED.
present evidence-

(1) that the first marriage was vitiated by force exercised upon both her and the
first husband; and
Republic of the Philippines On September 28, 1979, before the petitioner's arraignment, private respondent
SUPREME COURT filed with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Manila a civil action for
Manila declaration of nullity of her marriage with petitioner contracted on September 26,
1978, which action was docketed as Civil Case No. E-02627. Said civil case was
EN BANC based on the ground that private respondent consented to entering into the
marriage, which was petitioner Donato's second one, since she had no previous
knowledge that petitioner was already married to a certain Rosalinda R. Maluping
G.R. No. L-53642 April 15, 1988
on June 30, 1978. Petitioner Donato's answer in the civil case for nullity interposed
the defense that his second marriage was void since it was solemnized without a
LEONILO C. DONATO, petitioners, marriage license and that force, violence, intimidation and undue influence were
vs. employed by private respondent to obtain petitioner's consent to the marriage.
HON. ARTEMON D. LUNA, PRESIDING JUDGE, COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF Prior to the solemnization of the subsequent or second marriage, petitioner and
MANIIA, BRANCH XXXII HON. JOSE FLAMINIANO, CITY FISCAL OF MANILA; PAZ B. private respondent had lived together and deported themselves as husband and
ABAYAN, respondents. wife without the benefit of wedlock for a period of at least five years as evidenced
by a joint affidavit executed by them on September 26, 1978, for which reason, the
Leopoldo P. Dela Rosa for petitioner. requisite marriage license was dispensed with pursuant to Article 76 of the New
Civil Code pertaining to marriages of exceptional character.
Emiterio C. Manibog for private respondent.
Prior to the date set for the trial on the merits of Criminal Case No. 43554,
City Fiscal of Manila for public respondent. petitioner filed a motion to suspend the proceedings of said case contending that
Civil Case No. E-02627 seeking the annulment of his second marriage filed by
private respondent raises a prejudicial question which must first be determined or
decided before the criminal case can proceed.

GANCAYCO, J.: In an order dated April 7, 1980. Hon. Artemon D. Luna denied the motion to
suspend the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 43554 for bigamy. Respondent
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, the judge's basis for denial is the ruling laid down in the case of Landicho vs.
question for the resolution of the Court is whether or not a criminal case for Relova. 1 The order further directed that the proceedings in the criminal case can
bigamy pending before the Court of First Itance of Manila should be suspended in proceed as scheduled.
view of a civil case for annulment of marriage pending before the Juvenile and
Domestic Relations Court on the ground that the latter constitutes a prejudicial A motion for reconsideration was flied by herein petitioner thru counsel citing as
question. The respondent judge ruled in the negative. We sustain him. one of his grounds for suspension of proceedings the ruling laid down by this Court
in the case of De la Cruz vs. Ejercito 2 which was a much later case than that cited
The pertinent facts as set forth in the records follow. On January 23, 1979, the City by respondent judge in his order of denial.
Fiscal of Manila acting thru Assistant City Fiscal Amado N. Cantor filed an
information for bigamy against herein petitioner, Leonilo C. Donato with the Court The motion for reconsideration of the said order was likewise denied in an order
of First Instance of Manila, docketed as Criminal Case No. 43554 and assigned to dated April 14, 1980, for lack of merit. Hence, the present petition for certiorari
Branch XXXII of said court. The information was filed based on the complaint of and prohibition with preliminary injunction.
private respondent Paz B. Abayan.
A prejudicial question has been defined to be one which arises in a case, the
resolution of which question is a logical antecedent of the issue involved in said
case, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal.3 It is one based on a second spouse, not the petitioner who filed the action for
fact distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it nullity on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. And it
determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal was only on June 15, 1963, that petitioner, as defendant in the
action, it must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately related to civil action, filed a third-party complaint against the first spouse
those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the alleging that his marriage with her should be declared null and
resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. Assuming
accused would necessarily be determined. 4 A prejudicial question usually comes that the first marriage was null and void on the ground alleged
into play in a situation where a civil action and a criminal action may proceed, by petitioner, the fact would not be material to the outcome of
because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be the case. Parties to the marriage should not be permitted to
determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in a criminal judge for themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted
case.5 to the judgment of the competent courts and only when the
nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void, and
The requisites of a prejudicial question do not obtain in the case at bar. It must be so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that
noted that the issue before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court touching the marriage exists. Therefore, he who contracts a second
upon the nullity of the second marriage is not determinative of petitioner Donato's marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the first
guilt or innocence in the crime of bigamy. Furthermore, it was petitioner's second marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy. The
wife, the herein private respondent Paz B. Abayan who filed the complaint for lower court therefore, has not abused much less gravely
annulment of the second marriage on the ground that her consent was obtained abused, its discretion in failing to suspend the hearing as sought
through deceit. by petitioner.

Petitioner Donato raised the argument that the second marriage should have been In the case at bar, petitioner has not even sufficiently shown that his consent to the
declared null and void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation allegedly second marriage has been obtained by the use of threats, force and intimidation.
employed against him by private respondent only sometime later when he was
required to answer the civil action for anulment of the second marriage. The Petitioner calls the attention of this Court to the fact that the case of De la Cruz vs.
doctrine elucidated upon by the case of Landicho vs. Relova 6 may be applied to the Ejercito is a later case and as such it should be the one applied to the case at bar.
present case. Said case states that: We cannot agree. The situation in the case at bar is markedly different. In the
aforecited case it was accused Milagros dela Cruz who was charged with bigamy for
The mere fact that there are actions to annul the marriages having contracted a second marriage while a previous one existed. Likewise,
entered into by the accused in a bigamy case does not mean Milagros dela Cruz was also the one who filed an action for annulment on the
that "prejudicial questions" are automatically raised in civil ground of duress, as contra-distinguished from the present case wherein it was
actions as to warrant the suspension of the case. In order that private respondent Paz B. Abayan, petitioner's second wife, who filed a complaint
the case of annulment of marriage be considered a prejudicial for annulment of the second marriage on the ground that her consent was
question to the bigamy case against the accused, it must be obtained through deceit since she was not aware that petitioner's marriage was
shown that the petitioner's consent to such marriage must be still subsisting. Moreover, in De la Cruz, a judgment was already rendered in the
the one that was obtained by means of duress, force and civil case that the second marriage of De la Cruz was null and void, thus
intimidation to show that his act in the second marriage must determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case. In the
be involuntary and cannot be the basis of his conviction for the present case, there is as yet no such judgment in the civil case.
crime of bigamy. The situation in the present case is markedly
different. At the time the petitioner was indicted for bigamy on Pursuant to the doctrine discussed in Landicho vs. Relova, petitioner Donato
February 27, 1963, the fact that two marriage ceremonies had cannot apply the rule on prejudicial questions since a case for annulment of
been contracted appeared to be indisputable. And it was the marriage can be considered as a prejudicial question to the bigamy case against the
accused only if it is proved that the petitioner's consent to such marriage was
obtained by means of duress, violence and intimidation in order to establish that
his act in the subsequent marriage was an involuntary one and as such the same
cannot be the basis for conviction. The preceding elements do not exist in the case
at bar.

Obviously, petitioner merely raised the issue of prejudicial question to evade the
prosecution of the criminal case. The records reveal that prior to petitioner's
second marriage on September 26, 1978, he had been living with private
respondent Paz B. Abayan as husband and wife for more than five years without
the benefit of marriage. Thus, petitioner's averments that his consent was obtained
by private respondent through force, violence, intimidation and undue influence in
entering a subsequent marriage is belled by the fact that both petitioner and
private respondent executed an affidavit which stated that they had lived together
as husband and wife without benefit of marriage for five years, one month and one
day until their marital union was formally ratified by the second marriage and that
it was private respondent who eventually filed the civil action for nullity.

Another event which militates against petitioner's contentions is the fact hat it was
only when Civil Case No. E-02627 was filed on September 28, 1979, or more than
the lapse of one year from the solemnization of the second marriage that
petitioner came up with the story that his consent to the marriage was secured
through the use of force, violence, intimidation and undue influence. Petitioner
also continued to live with private respondent until November 1978, when the
latter left their abode upon learning that Leonilo Donato was already previously
married.

In the light of the preceding factual circumstances, it can be seen that the
respondent Judge did not err in his earlier order. There is no pivotal issue that must
be pre-emptively resolved in Civil Case No. E-02627 before proceedings in the
criminal action for bigamy can be undertaken.

Accordingly, there being no prejudicial question shown to exit the order of denial
issued by the respondent judge dated April 14, 1980 should be sustained.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for
lack of merit. We make no pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
officiated by the judge of the City Court of Pasay. On April 4, 1982, they also had a
church wedding in Makati, Metro Manila.

On January 3, 1991, private respondent filed a Civil Case 1853-J with the RTC of
Pasig, Branch 160, praying that his marriage to petitioner be declared null and void.
He alleged that they had no marriage license when they got married. He also
averred that at the time he married petitioner, he was still married to Anna Maria.
He stated that at the time he married petitioner the decree of nullity of his
marriage to Anna Maria had not been issued. The decree of nullity of his marriage
to Anna Maria was rendered only on August 4, 1980, while his civil marriage to
SECOND DIVISION
petitioner took place on April 4, 1979.

G.R. No. 127406 November 27, 2000


Petitioner, in defending her marriage to private respondent, pointed out that his
claim that their marriage was contracted without a valid license is untrue. She
OFELIA P. TY, petitioner, submitted their Marriage License No. 5739990 issued at Rosario, Cavite on April 3,
vs. 1979, as Exh. 11, 12 and 12-A. He did not question this document when it was
THE COURT OF APPEALS, and EDGARDO M. REYES, respondents. submitted in evidence. Petitioner also submitted the decision of the Juvenile and
Domestic Relations Court of Quezon City dated August 4, 1980, which declared null
DECISION and void his civil marriage to Anna Maria Regina Villanueva celebrated on March
29, 1977, and his church marriage to said Anna Maria on August 27, 1977. These
QUISUMBING, J.: documents were submitted as evidence during trial and, according to petitioner,
are therefore deemed sufficient proof of the facts therein. The fact that the civil
marriage of private respondent and petitioner took place on April 4, 1979, before
This appeal seeks the reversal of the decision dated July 24, 1996, of the Court of
the judgment declaring his prior marriage as null and void is undisputed. It also
Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV 37897, which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial
appears indisputable that private respondent and petitioner had a church wedding
Court of Pasig, Branch 160, declaring the marriage contract between private
ceremony on April 4, 1982.1
respondent Edgardo M. Reyes and petitioner Ofelia P. Ty null and void ab initio. It
also ordered private respondent to pay P15,000.00 as monthly support for their
children Faye Eloise Reyes and Rachel Anne Reyes. The Pasig RTC sustained private respondents civil suit and declared his marriage to
herein petitioner null and void ab initio in its decision dated November 4, 1991.
Both parties appealed to respondent Court of Appeals. On July 24, 1996, the
As shown in the records of the case, private respondent married Anna Maria
appellate court affirmed the trial courts decision. It ruled that a judicial declaration
Regina Villanueva in a civil ceremony on March 29, 1977, in Manila. Then they had
of nullity of the first marriage (to Anna Maria) must first be secured before a
a church wedding on August 27, 1977. However, on August 4, 1980, the Juvenile
subsequent marriage could be validly contracted. Said the appellate court:
and Domestic Relations Court of Quezon City declared their marriage null
and void ab initio for lack of a valid marriage license. The church wedding on
August 27, 1977, was also declared null and void ab initio for lack of consent of the We can accept, without difficulty, the doctrine cited by defendants counsel that
parties. no judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of void marriages. It does
not say, however, that a second marriage may proceed even without a judicial
decree. While it is true that if a marriage is null and void, ab initio, there is in fact
Even before the decree was issued nullifying his marriage to Anna Maria, private
no subsisting marriage, we are unwilling to rule that the matter of whether a
respondent wed Ofelia P. Ty, herein petitioner, on April 4, 1979, in ceremonies
marriage is valid or not is for each married spouse to determine for himself for
this would be the consequence of allowing a spouse to proceed to a second
marriage even before a competent court issues a judicial decree of nullity of his IN BOTH THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION IN NOT CONSIDERING THE
first marriage. The results would be disquieting, to say the least, and could not CIVIL EFFECTS OF THE RELIGIOUS RATIFICATION WHICH USED THE SAME
have been the intendment of even the now-repealed provisions of the Civil Code MARRIAGE LICENSE.
on marriage.
IV
xxx
IN THE DECISION NOT GRANTING MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES TO
WHEREFORE, upon the foregoing ratiocination, We modify the appealed Decision THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
in this wise:
The principal issue in this case is whether the decree of nullity of the first marriage
1. The marriage contracted by plaintiff-appellant [herein private is required before a subsequent marriage can be entered into validly? To resolve
respondent] Eduardo M. Reyes and defendant-appellant [herein this question, we shall go over applicable laws and pertinent cases to shed light on
petitioner] Ofelia P. Ty is declared null and void ab initio; the assigned errors, particularly the first and the second which we shall discuss
jointly.
2. Plaintiff-appellant Eduardo M. Reyes is ordered to give monthly
support in the amount of P15,000.00 to his children Faye Eloise Reyes In sustaining the trial court, the Court of Appeals declared the marriage of
and Rachel Anne Reyes from November 4, 1991; and petitioner to private respondent null and void for lack of a prior judicial decree of
nullity of the marriage between private respondent and Villanueva. The appellate
3. Cost against plaintiff-appellant Eduardo M. Reyes. court rejected petitioners claim that People v. Mendoza3 and People v. Aragon4 are
applicable in this case. For these cases held that where a marriage is void from its
performance, no judicial decree is necessary to establish its invalidity. But the
SO ORDERED.2
appellate court said these cases, decided before the enactment of the Family Code
(E.O. No. 209 as amended by E.O No. 227), no longer control. A binding decree is
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, this instant petition now needed and must be read into the provisions of law previously obtaining.5
asserting that the Court of Appeals erred:
In refusing to consider petitioners appeal favorably, the appellate court also said:
I.
Terre v. Attorney Terre, Adm. Case No. 2349, 3 July 1992 is mandatory precedent
BOTH IN THE DECISION AND THE RESOLUTION, IN REQUIRING FOR THE for this case. Although decided by the High Court in 1992, the facts situate it within
VALIDITY OF PETITIONERS MARRIAGE TO RESPONDENT, A JUDICIAL the regime of the now-repealed provisions of the Civil Code, as in the instant case.
DECREE NOT REQUIRED BY LAW.
xxx
II
For purposes of determining whether a person is legally free to contract a second
IN THE RESOLUTION, IN APPLYING THE RULING IN DOMINGO VS. COURT marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was null and void ab initio is
OF APPEALS. essential. . . .6

III At the outset, we must note that private respondents first and second marriages
contracted in 1977 and 1979, respectively, are governed by the provisions of the
Civil Code. The present case differs significantly from the recent cases of Bobis v.
Bobis7 and Mercado v. Tan,8 both involving a criminal case for bigamy where the In Gomez v. Lipana,12 and Consuegra v. Consuegra,13 however, we recognized the
bigamous marriage was contracted during the effectivity of the Family Code,9 under right of the second wife who entered into the marriage in good faith, to share in
which a judicial declaration of nullity of marriage is clearly required. their acquired estate and in proceeds of the retirement insurance of the husband.
The Court observed that although the second marriage can be presumed to be void
Pertinent to the present controversy, Article 83 of the Civil Code provides that: ab initio as it was celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there
was a need for judicial declaration of such nullity (of the second marriage). And
since the death of the husband supervened before such declaration, we upheld the
Art. 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of
right of the second wife to share in the estate they acquired, on grounds of justice
the first spouse of such person with any person other than such first spouse shall
and equity.14
be illegal and void from its performance, unless:

But in Odayat v. Amante (1977),15 the Court adverted to Aragon and Mendoza as
(1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or
precedents. We exonerated a clerk of court of the charge of immorality on the
ground that his marriage to Filomena Abella in October of 1948 was void, since she
(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the was already previously married to one Eliseo Portales in February of the same year.
time of the second marriage without the spouse present having news of The Court held that no judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of void
the absentee being alive, or if the absentee, though he has been absent marriages. This ruling was affirmed in Tolentino v. Paras.16
for less than seven years, is generally considered as dead and before any
person believed to be so by the spouse present at the time of contracting
Yet again in Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy (1986),17 the Court held that there is a need for a
such subsequent marriage, or if the absentee is presumed dead according
judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage. In Wiegel, Lilia married Maxion in
to articles 390 and 391. The marriage so contracted shall be valid in any
1972. In 1978, she married another man, Wiegel. Wiegel filed a petition with the
of the three cases until declared null and void by a competent court.
Juvenile Domestic Relations Court to declare his marriage to Lilia as void on the
ground of her previous valid marriage. The Court, expressly relying on Consuegra,
As to whether a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage is necessary, the concluded that:18
Civil Code contains no express provision to that effect. Jurisprudence on the
matter, however, appears to be conflicting.
There is likewise no need of introducing evidence about the existing prior marriage
of her first husband at the time they married each other, for then such a marriage
Originally, in People v. Mendoza,10 and People v. Aragon,11 this Court held that no though void still needs according to this Court a judicial declaration
judicial decree is necessary to establish the nullity of a void marriage. Both cases (citing Consuegra) of such fact and for all legal intents and purposes she would still
involved the same factual milieu. Accused contracted a second marriage during the be regarded as a married woman at the time she contracted her marriage with
subsistence of his first marriage. After the death of his first wife, accused respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel; accordingly, the marriage of petitioner and
contracted a third marriage during the subsistence of the second marriage. The respondent would be regarded VOID under the law. (Emphasis supplied).
second wife initiated a complaint for bigamy. The Court acquitted accused on the
ground that the second marriage is void, having been contracted during the
In Yap v. Court of Appeals,19 however, the Court found the second marriage void
existence of the first marriage. There is no need for a judicial declaration that said
without need of judicial declaration, thus reverting to the Odayat,
second marriage is void. Since the second marriage is void, and the first one
Mendoza and Aragon rulings.
terminated by the death of his wife, there are no two subsisting valid marriages.
Hence, there can be no bigamy. Justice Alex Reyes dissented in both cases, saying
that it is not for the spouses but the court to judge whether a marriage is void or At any rate, the confusion under the Civil Code was put to rest under the Family
not. Code. Our rulings in Gomez, Consuegra, and Wiegel were eventually embodied in
Article 40 of the Family Code.20 Article 40 of said Code expressly required a judicial
declaration of nullity of marriage
Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of nullity before he could contract a second marriage. In this case, therefore, we
remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage conclude that private respondents second marriage to petitioner is valid.
void.
Moreover, we find that the provisions of the Family Code cannot be retroactively
In Terre v. Terre (1992)21 the Court, applying Gomez, applied to the present case, for to do so would prejudice the vested rights of
Consuegra and Wiegel, categorically stated that a judicial declaration of nullity of a petitioner and of her children. As held in Jison v. Court of Appeals,25 the Family
void marriage is necessary. Thus, we disbarred a lawyer for contracting a bigamous Code has retroactive effect unless there be impairment of vested rights. In the
marriage during the subsistence of his first marriage. He claimed that his first present case, that impairment of vested rights of petitioner and the children is
marriage in 1977 was void since his first wife was already married in 1968. We held patent. Additionally, we are not quite prepared to give assent to the appellate
that Atty. Terre should have known that the prevailing case law is that "for courts finding that despite private respondents "deceit and perfidy" in contracting
purposes of determining whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage with petitioner, he could benefit from her silence on the issue. Thus,
marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was null and void ab initio is coming now to the civil effects of the church ceremony wherein petitioner married
essential." private respondent using the marriage license used three years earlier in the civil
ceremony, we find that petitioner now has raised this matter properly. Earlier
The Court applied this ruling in subsequent cases. In Domingo v. Court of petitioner claimed as untruthful private respondents allegation that he wed
Appeals (1993),22 the Court held: petitioner but they lacked a marriage license. Indeed we find there was a marriage
license, though it was the same license issued on April 3, 1979 and used in both the
civil and the church rites. Obviously, the church ceremony was confirmatory of
Came the Family Code which settled once and for all the conflicting jurisprudence
their civil marriage. As petitioner contends, the appellate court erred when it
on the matter. A declaration of absolute nullity of marriage is now explicitly
refused to recognize the validity and salutary effects of said canonical marriage on
required either as a cause of action or a ground for defense. (Art. 39 of the Family
a technicality, i.e. that petitioner had failed to raise this matter as affirmative
Code). Where the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked
defense during trial. She argues that such failure does not prevent the appellate
for purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law for
court from giving her defense due consideration and weight. She adds that the
said projected marriage to be free from legal infirmity is a final judgment declaring
interest of the State in protecting the inviolability of marriage, as a legal and social
the previous marriage void. (Family Code, Art. 40; See also arts. 11, 13, 42, 44, 48,
institution, outweighs such technicality. In our view, petitioner and private
50, 52, 54, 86, 99, 147, 148).23
respondent had complied with all the essential and formal requisites for a valid
marriage, including the requirement of a valid license in the first of the two
However, a recent case applied the old rule because of the peculiar circumstances ceremonies. That this license was used legally in the celebration of the civil
of the case. In Apiag v. Cantero, (1997)24 the first wife charged a municipal trial ceremony does not detract from the ceremonial use thereof in the church wedding
judge of immorality for entering into a second marriage. The judge claimed that his of the same parties to the marriage, for we hold that the latter rites served not only
first marriage was void since he was merely forced into marrying his first wife to ratify but also to fortify the first. The appellate court might have its reasons for
whom he got pregnant. On the issue of nullity of the first marriage, we brushing aside this possible defense of the defendant below which undoubtedly
applied Odayat, Mendoza and Aragon. We held that since the second marriage could have tendered a valid issue, but which was not timely interposed by her
took place and all the children thereunder were born before the promulgation before the trial court. But we are now persuaded we cannot play blind to the
of Wiegel and the effectivity of the Family Code, there is no need for a judicial absurdity, if not inequity, of letting the wrongdoer profit from what the CA calls
declaration of nullity of the first marriage pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence at "his own deceit and perfidy."
that time.
On the matter of petitioners counterclaim for damages and attorneys
Similarly, in the present case, the second marriage of private respondent was fees.1wphi1 Although the appellate court admitted that they found private
entered into in 1979, before Wiegel. At that time, the prevailing rule was found respondent acted "duplicitously and craftily" in marrying petitioner, it did not
in Odayat, Mendoza and Aragon. The first marriage of private respondent being award moral damages because the latter did not adduce evidence to support her
void for lack of license and consent, there was no need for judicial declaration of its claim.26
Like the lower courts, we are also of the view that no damages should be awarded
in the present case, but for another reason. Petitioner wants her marriage to
private respondent held valid and subsisting. She is suing to maintain her status as
legitimate wife. In the same breath, she asks for damages from her husband for
filing a baseless complaint for annulment of their marriage which caused her
mental anguish, anxiety, besmirched reputation, social humiliation and alienation
from her parents. Should we grant her prayer, we would have a situation where the
husband pays the wife damages from conjugal or common funds. To do so, would
make the application of the law absurd. Logic, if not common sense, militates
against such incongruity. Moreover, our laws do not comprehend an action for
damages between husband and wife merely because of breach of a marital
obligation.27There are other remedies.28

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of


Appeals dated July 24, 1996 and its Resolution dated November 7, 1996, are
reversed partially, so that the marriage of petitioner Ofelia P. Ty and private
respondent Edgardo M. Reyes is hereby DECLARED VALID AND SUBSISTING; and
the award of the amount of P15,000.00 is RATIFIED and MAINTAINED as monthly
support to their two children, Faye Eloise Reyes and Rachel Anne Reyes, for as long
as they are of minor age or otherwise legally entitled thereto. Costs against private
respondent.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines On 10 March 2005, petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Office
SUPREME COURT of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed a Motion for Reconsideration of this Decision.
Manila Petitioner argued that Yolanda had failed to exert earnest efforts to locate Cyrus
and thus failed to prove her well-founded belief that he was already dead.
SECOND DIVISION However, in an Order dated 29 June 2007, the RTC denied the motion.

G.R. No. 187512 June 13, 2012 Petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal to elevate the case to the CA, presumably under
Rule 41, Section 2(a) of the Rules of Court. Yolanda filed a Motion to Dismiss on the
ground that the CA had no jurisdiction over the appeal. She argued that her
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
Petition for Declaration of Presumptive Death, based on Article 41 of the Family
vs.
Code, was a summary judicial proceeding, in which the judgment is immediately
YOLANDA CADACIO GRANADA, Respondent.
final and executory and, thus, not appealable.

DECISION
In its 23 January 2009 Resolution, the appellate court granted Yolandas Motion to
Dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. Citing Republic v. Bermudez-
SERENO, J.: Lorino,3 the CA ruled that a petition for declaration of presumptive death under
Rule 41 of the Family Code is a summary proceeding. Thus, judgment thereon is
This is a Rule 45 Petition seeking the reversal of the Resolutions dated 23 January immediately final and executory upon notice to the parties.
20091 and 3 April 20092 issued by the Court of Appeals (CA), which affirmed the
grant by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of the Petition for Declaration of Petitioner moved for reconsideration, but its motion was likewise denied by the CA
Presumptive Death of the absent spouse of respondent. in a Resolution dated 3 April 2009.4

In May 1991, respondent Yolanda Cadacio Granada (Yolanda) met Cyrus Granada Hence, the present Rule 45 Petition.
(Cyrus) at Sumida Electric Philippines, an electronics company in Paranaque where
both were then working. The two eventually got married at the Manila City Hall on
Issues
3 March 1993. Their marriage resulted in the birth of their son, Cyborg Dean
Cadacio Granada.
1. Whether the CA seriously erred in dismissing the Petition on the
ground that the Decision of the RTC in a summary proceeding for the
Sometime in May 1994, when Sumida Electric Philippines closed down, Cyrus went
declaration of presumptive death is immediately final and executory
to Taiwan to seek employment. Yolanda claimed that from that time, she had not
upon notice to the parties and, hence, is not subject to ordinary appeal
received any communication from her husband, notwithstanding efforts to locate
him. Her brother testified that he had asked the relatives of Cyrus regarding the
latters whereabouts, to no avail. 2. Whether the CA seriously erred in affirming the RTCs grant of the
Petition for Declaration of Presumptive Death under Article 41 of the
Family Code based on the evidence that respondent presented
After nine (9) years of waiting, Yolanda filed a Petition to have Cyrus declared
presumptively dead. The Petition was raffled to Presiding Judge Avelino Demetria
of RTC Branch 85, Lipa City, and was docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 2002-0530. Our Ruling

On 7 February 2005, the RTC rendered a Decision declaring Cyrus as presumptively 1. On whether the CA seriously erred in dismissing the Petition on the ground that
dead. the Decision of the RTC in a summary proceeding for the declaration of
presumptive death is immediately final and executory upon notice to the parties proceedings. Such cases shall be decided in an expeditious manner without regard
and, hence, is not subject to ordinary appeal to technical rules.

In the assailed Resolution dated 23 January 2009, the CA dismissed the Petition xxx xxx xxx
assailing the RTCs grant of the Petition for Declaration of Presumptive Death of the
absent spouse under Article 41 of the Family Code. Citing Republic v. Bermudez- Art. 247. The judgment of the court shall be immediately final and executory.
Lorino,5 the appellate court noted that a petition for declaration of presumptive
death for the purpose of remarriage is a summary judicial proceeding under the
Further, Article 253 of the Family Code reads:
Family Code. Hence, the RTC Decision therein is immediately final and executory
upon notice to the parties, by express provision of Article 247 of the same Code.
The decision is therefore not subject to ordinary appeal, and the attempt to ART. 253. The foregoing rules in Chapters 2 and 3 hereof shall likewise govern
question it through a Notice of Appeal is unavailing. summary proceedings filed under Articles 41, 51, 69, 73, 96, 124 and 217, insofar as
they are applicable.
We affirm the CA ruling.
Taken together, Articles 41, 238, 247 and 253 of the Family Code provide that since
a petition for declaration of presumptive death is a summary proceeding, the
Article 41 of the Family Code provides:
judgment of the court therein shall be immediately final and executory.

Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous
In Republic v. Bermudez-Lorino,6 the Republic likewise appealed the CAs
marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent
affirmation of the RTCs grant of respondents Petition for Declaration of
marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the
Presumptive Death of her absent spouse. The Court therein held that it was an
spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead.
error for the Republic to file a Notice of Appeal when the latter elevated the matter
In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances
to the CA, to wit:
set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two
years shall be sufficient.
In Summary Judicial Proceedings under the Family Code, there is no reglementary
period within which to perfect an appeal, precisely because judgments rendered
For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding
thereunder, by express provision of Section 247, Family Code, supra, are
paragraph the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in
"immediately final and executory."
this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without
prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse. (Underscoring
supplied.) xxx xxx xxx

Clearly, a petition for declaration of presumptive death of an absent spouse for the But, if only to set the records straight and for the future guidance of the bench and
purpose of contracting a subsequent marriage under Article 41 of the Family Code the bar, let it be stated that the RTCs decision dated November 7, 2001, was
is a summary proceeding "as provided for" under the Family Code. immediately final and executory upon notice to the parties. It was erroneous for
the OSG to file a notice of appeal, and for the RTC to give due course thereto. The
Court of Appeals acquired no jurisdiction over the case, and should have dismissed
Further, Title XI of the Family Code is entitled "Summary Judicial Proceedings in the
the appeal outright on that ground.
Family Law." Subsumed thereunder are Articles 238 and 247, which provide:

Justice (later Chief Justice) Artemio Panganiban, who concurred in the result
Art. 238. Until modified by the Supreme Court, the procedural rules in this Title
reached by the Court in Republic v. Bermudez-Lorino, additionally opined that what
shall apply in all cases provided for in this Code requiring summary court
the OSG should have filed was a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, not a petition Article 238 of the Family Code, under Title XI: SUMMARY JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS
for review under Rule 45. IN THE FAMILY LAW, establishes the rules that govern summary court proceedings
in the Family Code:
In the present case, the Republic argues that Bermudez-Lorino has been
superseded by the subsequent Decision of the Court in Republic v. Jomoc,7 issued a ART. 238. Until modified by the Supreme Court, the procedural rules in this Title
few months later. shall apply in all cases provided for in this Code requiring summary court
proceedings. Such cases shall be decided in an expeditious manner without regard
In Jomoc, the RTC granted respondents Petition for Declaration of Presumptive to technical rules.
Death of her absent husband for the purpose of remarriage. Petitioner Republic
appealed the RTC Decision by filing a Notice of Appeal. The trial court disapproved In turn, Article 253 of the Family Code specifies the cases covered by the rules in
the Notice of Appeal on the ground that, under the Rules of Court,8 a record on chapters two and three of the same title. It states:
appeal is required to be filed when appealing special proceedings cases. The CA
affirmed the RTC ruling. In reversing the CA, this Court clarified that while an action ART. 253. The foregoing rules in Chapters 2 and 3 hereof shall likewise govern
for declaration of death or absence under Rule 72, Section 1(m), expressly falls summary proceedings filed under Articles 41, 51, 69, 73, 96, 124 and 217, insofar as
under the category of special proceedings, a petition for declaration of they are applicable. (Emphasis supplied.)
presumptive death under Article 41 of the Family Code is a summary proceeding,
as provided for by Article 238 of the same Code. Since its purpose was to enable
In plain text, Article 247 in Chapter 2 of the same title reads:
her to contract a subsequent valid marriage, petitioners action was a summary
proceeding based on Article 41 of the Family Code, rather than a special
proceeding under Rule 72 of the Rules of Court. Considering that this action was ART 247. The judgment of the court shall be immediately final and executory.
not a special proceeding, petitioner was not required to file a record on appeal
when it appealed the RTC Decision to the CA. By express provision of law, the judgment of the court in a summary proceeding
shall be immediately final and executory. As a matter of course, it follows that no
We do not agree with the Republics argument that Republic v. Jomoc superseded appeal can be had of the trial court's judgment in a summary proceeding for the
our ruling in Republic v. Bermudez-Lorino. As observed by the CA, the Supreme declaration of presumptive death of an absent spouse under Article 41 of the
Court in Jomoc did not expound on the characteristics of a summary proceeding Family Code. It goes without saying, however, that an aggrieved party may file a
under the Family Code. In contrast, the Court in Bermudez-Lorino expressly stated petition for certiorari to question abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
that its ruling on the impropriety of an ordinary appeal as a vehicle for questioning jurisdiction. Such petition should be filed in the Court of Appeals in accordance
the trial courts Decision in a summary proceeding for declaration of presumptive with the Doctrine of Hierarchy of Courts. To be sure, even if the Court's original
death under Article 41 of the Family Code was intended "to set the records straight jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari is concurrent with the RTCs and the Court of
and for the future guidance of the bench and the bar." Appeals in certain cases, such concurrence does not sanction an unrestricted
freedom of choice of court forum. From the decision of the Court of Appeals, the
losing party may then file a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
At any rate, four years after Jomoc, this Court settled the rule regarding appeal of
Rules of Court with the Supreme Court. This is because the errors which the court
judgments rendered in summary proceedings under the Family Code when it ruled
may commit in the exercise of jurisdiction are merely errors of judgment which are
in Republic v. Tango:9
the proper subject of an appeal.

This case presents an opportunity for us to settle the rule on appeal of judgments
In sum, under Article 41 of the Family Code, the losing party in a summary
rendered in summary proceedings under the Family Code and accordingly, refine
proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death may file a petition for
our previous decisions thereon.
certiorari with the CA on the ground that, in rendering judgment thereon, the trial
court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. From
the decision of the CA, the aggrieved party may elevate the matter to this Court via 2. That the present spouse wishes to remarry;
a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
3. That the present spouse has a well-founded belief that the absentee is
Evidently then, the CA did not commit any error in dismissing the Republics Notice dead; and
of Appeal on the ground that the RTC judgment on the Petition for Declaration of
Presumptive Death of respondents spouse was immediately final and executory 4. That the present spouse files a summary proceeding for the
and, hence, not subject to ordinary appeal. declaration of presumptive death of the absentee.

2. On whether the CA seriously erred in affirming the RTCs grant of the Petition for In evaluating whether the present spouse has been able to prove the existence of a
Declaration of Presumptive Death under Article 41 of the Family Code based on the "well-founded belief" that the absent spouse is already dead, the Court in Nolasco
evidence that respondent had presented cited United States v. Biasbas,14 which it found to be instructive as to the diligence
required in searching for a missing spouse.
Petitioner also assails the RTCs grant of the Petition for Declaration of Presumptive
Death of the absent spouse of respondent on the ground that she had not adduced In Biasbas, the Court held that defendant Biasbas failed to exercise due diligence in
the evidence required to establish a well-founded belief that her absent spouse ascertaining the whereabouts of his first wife, considering his admission that that
was already dead, as expressly required by Article 41 of the Family Code. Petitioner he only had a suspicion that she was dead, and that the only basis of that suspicion
cites Republic v. Nolasco,10 United States v. Biasbas11 and Republic v. Court of was the fact of her absence.
Appeals and Alegro12 as authorities on the subject.
Similarly, in Republic v. Court of Appeals and Alegro, petitioner Republic sought the
In Nolasco, petitioner Republic sought the reversal of the CAs affirmation of the reversal of the CA ruling affirming the RTCs grant of the Petition for Declaration of
RTCs grant of respondents Petition for Declaration of Presumptive Death of his Presumptive Death of the absent spouse on the ground that the respondent
absent spouse, a British subject who left their home in the Philippines soon after therein had not been able to prove a "well-founded belief" that his spouse was
giving birth to their son while respondent was on board a vessel working as a already dead. The Court reversed the CA, granted the Petition, and provided the
seafarer. Petitioner Republic sought the reversal of the ruling on the ground that following criteria for determining the existence of a "well-founded belief" under
respondent was not able to establish his "well-founded belief that the absentee is Article 41 of the Family Code:
already dead," as required by Article 41 of the Family Code. In ruling thereon, this
Court recognized that this provision imposes more stringent requirements than
For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding
does Article 83 of the Civil Code.13 The Civil Code provision merely requires either
paragraph, the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in
that there be no news that the absentee is still alive; or that the absentee is
this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without
generally considered to be dead and is believed to be so by the spouse present, or
prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse.
is presumed dead under Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code. In comparison, the
Family Code provision prescribes a "well-founded belief" that the absentee is
already dead before a petition for declaration of presumptive death can be The spouse present is, thus, burdened to prove that his spouse has been absent
granted. As noted by the Court in that case, the four requisites for the declaration and that he has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already dead before
of presumptive death under the Family Code are as follows: the present spouse may contract a subsequent marriage. The law does not define
what is meant by a well-grounded belief. Cuello Callon writes that "es menester
que su creencia sea firme se funde en motivos racionales."
1. That the absent spouse has been missing for four consecutive years, or
two consecutive years if the disappearance occurred where there is
danger of death under the circumstances laid down in Article 391, Civil Belief is a state of the mind or condition prompting the doing of an overt
Code; act.1wphi1 It may be proved by direct evidence or circumstantial evidence which
may tend, even in a slight degree, to elucidate the inquiry or assist to a
determination probably founded in truth. Any fact or circumstance relating to the SO ORDERED.
character, habits, conditions, attachments, prosperity and objects of life which
usually control the conduct of men, and are the motives of their actions, was, so far
as it tends to explain or characterize their disappearance or throw light on their
intentions, competence [sic] evidence on the ultimate question of his death.

The belief of the present spouse must be the result of proper and honest to
goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of the absent spouse
and whether the absent spouse is still alive or is already dead. Whether or not the
spouse present acted on a well-founded belief of death of the absent spouse
depends upon the inquiries to be drawn from a great many circumstances
occurring before and after the disappearance of the absent spouse and the nature
and extent of the inquiries made by present spouse. (Footnotes omitted,
underscoring supplied.)

Applying the foregoing standards to the present case, petitioner points out that
respondent Yolanda did not initiate a diligent search to locate her absent husband.
While her brother Diosdado Cadacio testified to having inquired about the
whereabouts of Cyrus from the latters relatives, these relatives were not
presented to corroborate Diosdados testimony. In short, respondent was allegedly
not diligent in her search for her husband. Petitioner argues that if she were, she
would have sought information from the Taiwanese Consular Office or assistance
from other government agencies in Taiwan or the Philippines. She could have also
utilized mass media for this end, but she did not. Worse, she failed to explain these
omissions.

The Republics arguments are well-taken. Nevertheless, we are constrained to deny


the Petition.

The RTC ruling on the issue of whether respondent was able to prove her "well-
founded belief" that her absent spouse was already dead prior to her filing of the
Petition to declare him presumptively dead is already final and can no longer be
modified or reversed. Indeed, "[n]othing is more settled in law than that when a
judgment becomes final and executory, it becomes immutable and unalterable.
The same may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is
meant to correct what is perceived to be an erroneous conclusion of fact or law."15

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Resolutions of the Court of Appeals


dated 23 January 2009 and 3 April 2009 in CA-G.R. CV No. 90165 are AFFIRMED.
Republic of the Philippines claimed that she had a well-founded belief that Jerry was already dead. She alleged
SUPREME COURT that she had inquired from her mother-in-law, her brothers-in-law, her sisters-in-
Manila law, as well as her neighbors and friends, but to no avail. In the hopes of finding
Jerry, she also allegedly made it a point to check the patients directory whenever
EN BANC she went to a hospital. All these earnest efforts, the respondent claimed, proved
futile, prompting her to file the petition in court.
G.R. No. 184621 December 10, 2013
The Ruling of the RTC
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
vs. After due proceedings, the RTC issued an order granting the respondents petition
MARIA FE ESPINOSA CANTOR, Respondent. and declaring Jerry presumptively dead. It concluded that the respondent had a
well-founded belief that her husband was already dead since more than four (4)
years had passed without the former receiving any news about the latter or his
DECISION
whereabouts. The dispositive portion of the order dated December 15, 2006 reads:

BRION, J.:
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby declares, as it hereby declared that respondent
Jerry F. Cantor is presumptively dead pursuant to Article 41 of the Family Code of
The petition for review on certiorari1 before us assails the decision2 dated August the Philippines without prejudice to the effect of the reappearance of the absent
27, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 01558-MIN which affirmed spouse Jerry F. Cantor.5
be order3 dated December 15, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 25,
Koronadal City, South Cotabato, in SP Proc. Case No. 313-25, declaring Jerry F.
The Ruling of the CA
Cantor, respondent Maria Fe Espinosa Cantors husband, presumptively dead
under Article 41 of the Family Code.
The case reached the CA through a petition for certiorari6filed by the petitioner,
Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). In its
The Factual Antecedents
August 27, 2008 decision, the CA dismissed the petitioners petition, finding no
grave abuse of discretion on the RTCs part, and, accordingly, fully affirmed the
The respondent and Jerry were married on September 20, 1997. They lived latters order, thus:
together as husband and wife in their conjugal dwelling in Agan Homes, Koronadal
City, South Cotabato. Sometime in January 1998, the couple had a violent quarrel
WHEREFORE, premises foregoing (sic), the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED
brought about by: (1) the respondents inability to reach "sexual climax" whenever
and the assailed Order dated December 15, 2006 declaring Jerry F. Cantor
she and Jerry would have intimate moments; and (2) Jerrys expression of
presumptively dead is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.7
animosity toward the respondents father.

The petitioner brought the matter via a Rule 45 petition before this Court. The
After their quarrel, Jerry left their conjugal dwelling and this was the last time that
Petition The petitioner contends that certiorari lies to challenge the decisions,
the respondent ever saw him. Since then, she had not seen, communicated nor
judgments or final orders of trial courts in petitions for declaration of presumptive
heard anything from Jerry or about his whereabouts.
death of an absent spouse under Rule 41 of the Family Code. It maintains that
although judgments of trial courts in summary judicial proceedings, including
On May 21, 2002, or more than four (4) years from the time of Jerrys presumptive death cases, are deemed immediately final and executory (hence, not
disappearance, the respondent filed before the RTC a petition4for her husbands appeal able under Article 247 of the Family Code), this rule does not mean that
declaration of presumptive death, docketed as SP Proc. Case No. 313-25. She they are not subject to review on certiorari.
The petitioner also posits that the respondent did not have a well-founded belief to spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead.
justify the declaration of her husbands presumptive death. It claims that the In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances
respondent failed to conduct the requisite diligent search for her missing husband. set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two
Likewise, the petitioner invites this Courts attention to the attendant years shall be sufficient.
circumstances surrounding the case, particularly, the degree of search conducted
and the respondents resultant failure to meet the strict standard under Article 41 For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding
of the Family Code. paragraph the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in
this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without
The Issues prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse.

The petition poses to us the following issues: Art. 247. The judgment of the court shall be immediately final and executory.
[underscores ours]
(1) Whether certiorarilies to challenge the decisions, judgments or final
orders of trial courts in petitions for declaration of presumptive death of With the judgment being final, it necessarily follows that it is no longer subject to
an absent spouse under Article 41 of the Family Code; and an appeal, the dispositions and conclusions therein having become immutable and
unalterable not only as against the parties but even as against the
(2) Whether the respondent had a well-founded belief that Jerry is courts.8 Modification of the courts ruling, no matter how erroneous is no longer
already dead. permissible. The final and executory nature of this summary proceeding thus
prohibits the resort to appeal. As explained in Republic of the Phils. v. Bermudez-
Lorino,9 the right to appeal is not granted to parties because of the express
The Courts Ruling
mandate of Article 247 of the Family Code, to wit:

We grant the petition.


In Summary Judicial Proceedings under the Family Code, there is no reglementary
period within which to perfect an appeal, precisely because judgments rendered
a. On the Issue of the Propriety of Certiorari as a Remedy thereunder, by express provision of [Article] 247, Family Code, supra, are
"immediately final and executory." It was erroneous, therefore, on the part of the
Courts Judgment in the Judicial RTCto give due course to the Republics appeal and order the transmittal of the
Proceedings for Declaration of entire records of the case to the Court of Appeals.
Presumptive Death Is Final and
Executory, Hence, Unappealable An appellate court acquires no jurisdiction to review a judgment which, by express
provision of law, is immediately final and executory. As we have said in Veloria vs.
The Family Code was explicit that the courts judgment in summary proceedings, Comelec, "the right to appeal is not a natural right nor is it a part of due process, for
such as the declaration of presumptive death of an absent spouse under Article 41 it is merely a statutory privilege." Since, by express mandate of Article 247 of the
of the Family Code, shall be immediately final and executory. Family Code, all judgments rendered in summary judicial proceedings in Family Law
are "immediately final and executory," the right to appeal was not granted to any
Article 41,in relation to Article 247, of the Family Code provides: of the parties therein. The Republic of the Philippines, as oppositor in the petition
for declaration of presumptive death, should not be treated differently. It had no
right to appeal the RTC decision of November 7, 2001. [emphases ours; italics
Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during subsistence of a previous supplied]
marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent
marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the
Certiorari Lies to Challenge the In plain text, Article 247 in Chapter 2 of the same title reads:
Decisions, Judgments or Final
Orders of Trial Courts in a Summary "ART.247. The judgment of the court shall be immediately final and executory."
Proceeding for the Declaration of Presumptive
Death Under the Family Code
By express provision of law, the judgment of the court in a summary proceeding
shall be immediately final and executory. As a matter of course, it follows that no
A losing party in this proceeding, however, is not entirely left without a remedy. appeal can be had of the trial court's judgment ina summary proceeding for the
While jurisprudence tells us that no appeal can be made from the trial court's declaration of presumptive death of an absent spouse under Article 41 of the
judgment, an aggrieved party may, nevertheless, file a petition for certiorari under Family Code. It goes without saying, however, that an aggrieved party may file a
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to question any abuse of discretion amounting to lack petition for certiorari to question abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
or excess of jurisdiction that transpired. jurisdiction. Such petition should be filed in the Court of Appeals in accordance
with the Doctrine of Hierarchy of Courts. To be sure, even if the Court's original
As held in Delos Santos v. Rodriguez, et al.,10 the fact that a decision has become jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari is concurrent with the RTCs and the Court of
final does not automatically negate the original action of the CA to issue certiorari, Appeals in certain cases, such concurrence does not sanction an unrestricted
prohibition and mandamus in connection with orders or processes issued by the freedom of choice of court forum. [emphasis ours]
trial court. Certiorari may be availed of where a court has acted without or in
excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion, and where the ordinary Viewed in this light, we find that the petitioners resort to certiorari under Rule 65
remedy of appeal is not available. Such a procedure finds support in the case of the Rules of Court to question the RTCs order declaring Jerry presumptively
of Republic v. Tango,11 wherein we held that: dead was proper.

This case presents an opportunity for us to settle the rule on appeal of judgments b. On the Issue of the Existence of Well-Founded Belief
rendered in summary proceedings under the Family Code and accordingly, refine
our previous decisions thereon.
The Essential Requisites for the
Declaration of Presumptive Death
Article 238 of the Family Code, under Title XI: SUMMARY JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Under Article 41 of the Family Code
IN THE FAMILY LAW, establishes the rules that govern summary court proceedings
in the Family Code:
Before a judicial declaration of presumptive death can be obtained, it must be
shown that the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the
"ART. 238. Until modified by the Supreme Court, the procedural rules in this Title present spouse had a well-founded belief that the prior spouse was already dead.
shall apply in all cases provided for in this Code requiring summary court Under Article 41 of the Family Code, there are four (4) essential requisites for the
proceedings. Such cases shall be decided in an expeditious manner without regard declaration of presumptive death:
to technical rules."
1. That the absent spouse has been missing for four consecutive years, or
In turn, Article 253 of the Family Code specifies the cases covered by the rules in two consecutive years if the disappearance occurred where there is
chapters two and three of the same title. It states: danger of death under the circumstances laid down in Article 391, Civil
Code;
"ART. 253. The foregoing rules in Chapters 2and 3 hereof shall likewise govern
summary proceedings filed under Articles 41, 51, 69, 73, 96, 124 and 217, insofar as 2. That the present spouse wishes to remarry;
they are applicable."(Emphasis supplied.)
3. That the present spouse has a well-founded belief that the absentee is Thus, mere absence of the spouse (even for such period required by the law), lack
dead; and of any news that such absentee is still alive, failure to communicate or general
presumption of absence under the Civil Code would not suffice. This conclusion
4. That the present spouse files a summary proceeding for the proceeds from the premise that Article 41 of the Family Code places upon the
declaration of presumptive death of the absentee.12 present spouse the burden of proving the additional and more stringent
requirement of "well-founded belief" which can only be discharged upon a showing
of proper and honest-to-goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain not only the
The Present Spouse Has the Burden
absent spouses whereabouts but, more importantly, that the absent spouse is still
of Proof to Show that All the
alive or is already dead.15
Requisites Under Article 41 of the
Family Code Are Present
The Requirement of Well-Founded Belief
The burden of proof rests on the present spouse to show that all the requisites
under Article 41 of the Family Code are present. Since it is the present spouse who, The law did not define what is meant by "well-founded belief." It depends upon the
for purposes of declaration of presumptive death, substantially asserts the circumstances of each particular case. Its determination, so to speak, remains on a
affirmative of the issue, it stands to reason that the burden of proof lies with case-to-case basis. To be able to comply with this requirement, the present spouse
him/her. He who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and mere allegation is must prove that his/her belief was the result of diligent and reasonable efforts and
not evidence.13 inquiries to locate the absent spouse and that based on these efforts and inquiries,
he/she believes that under the circumstances, the absent spouseis already dead. It
requires exertion of active effort (not a mere passive one).
Declaration of Presumptive Death
Under Article 41 of the Family Code
Imposes a Stricter Standard To illustrate this degree of "diligent and reasonable search" required by the law, an
analysis of the following relevant cases is warranted:
Notably, Article 41 of the Family Code, compared to the old provision of the Civil
Code which it superseded, imposes a stricter standard. It requires a "well-founded i. Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals (Tenth Div.)16
belief " that the absentee is already dead before a petition for declaration of
presumptive death can be granted. We have had occasion to make the same In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals (Tenth Div.),17 the Court ruled that
observation in Republic v. Nolasco,14 where we noted the crucial differences the present spouse failed to prove that he had a well-founded belief that his absent
between Article 41 of the Family Code and Article 83 of the Civil Code, to wit: spouse was already dead before he filed his petition. His efforts to locate his absent
wife allegedly consisted of the following:
Under Article 41, the time required for the presumption to arise has been
shortened to four (4) years; however, there is need for a judicial declaration of (1) He went to his in-laws house to look for her;
presumptive death to enable the spouse present to remarry. Also, Article 41 of the
Family Code imposes a stricter standard than the Civil Code: Article 83 of the Civil (2) He sought the barangay captains aid to locate her;
Code merely requires either that there be no news that such absentee is still alive;
or the absentee is generally considered to be dead and believed to be so by the
(3) He went to her friends houses to find her and inquired about her
spouse present, or is presumed dead under Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code.
whereabouts among his friends;
The Family Code, upon the other hand, prescribes as "well founded belief" that the
absentee is already dead before a petition for declaration of presumptive death
can be granted. (4) He went to Manila and worked as a part-time taxi driver to look for
her in malls during his free time;
(5) He went back to Catbalogan and again looked for her; and utilized mass media for this end, but she did not. Worse, she failed to explain these
omissions.
(6) He reported her disappearance to the local police station and to the
NBI. iii.Republic v. Nolasco21

Despite these alleged "earnest efforts," the Court still ruled against the present In Nolasco, the present spouse filed a petition for declaration of presumptive death
spouse. The Court found that he failed to present the persons from whom he of his wife, who had been missing for more than four years. He testified that his
allegedly made inquiries and only reported his wifes absence after the OSG filed its efforts to find her consisted of:
notice to dismiss his petition in the RTC.
(1) Searching for her whenever his ship docked in England;
The Court also provided the following criteria for determining the existence of a
"well-founded belief" under Article 41 of the Family Code: (2) Sending her letters which were all returned to him; and

The belief of the present spouse must be the result of proper and honest to (3) Inquiring from their friends regarding her whereabouts, which all
goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of the absent spouse proved fruitless. The Court ruled that the present spouses investigations
and whether the absent spouse is still alive or is already dead. Whether or not the were too sketchy to form a basis that his wife was already dead and ruled
spouse present acted on a well-founded belief of death of the absent spouse that the pieces of evidence only proved that his wife had chosen not to
depends upon the inquiries to be drawn from a great many circumstances communicate with their common acquaintances, and not that she was
occurring before and after the disappearance of the absent spouse and the nature dead.
and extent of the inquiries made by [the] present spouse.18
iv.The present case
ii. Republic v. Granada19
In the case at bar, the respondents "well-founded belief" was anchored on her
Similarly in Granada, the Court ruled that the absent spouse failed to prove her alleged "earnest efforts" to locate Jerry, which consisted of the following:
"well-founded belief" that her absent spouse was already dead prior to her filing of
the petition. In this case, the present spouse alleged that her brother had made
(1) She made inquiries about Jerrys whereabouts from her in-laws,
inquiries from their relatives regarding the absent spouses whereabouts. The
neighbors and friends; and
present spouse did not report to the police nor seek the aid of the mass media.
Applying the standards in Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals (Tenth
Div.),20 the Court ruled against the present spouse, as follows: (2) Whenever she went to a hospital, she saw to it that she looked
through the patients directory, hoping to find Jerry.
Applying the foregoing standards to the present case, petitioner points out that
respondent Yolanda did not initiate a diligent search to locate her absent husband. These efforts, however, fell short of the "stringent standard" and degree of
While her brother Diosdado Cadacio testified to having inquiredabout the diligence required by jurisprudence for the following reasons:
whereabouts of Cyrus from the latters relatives, these relatives were not
presented to corroborate Diosdados testimony. In short, respondent was allegedly First, the respondent did not actively look for her missing husband.1wphi1 It can
not diligent in her search for her husband. Petitioner argues that if she were, she be inferred from the records that her hospital visits and her consequent checking
would have sought information from the Taiwanese Consular Office or assistance of the patients directory therein were unintentional. She did not purposely
from other government agencies in Taiwan or the Philippines. She could have also undertake a diligent search for her husband as her hospital visits were not planned
nor primarily directed to look for him. This Court thus considers these attempts standard required by the Family Code is met. In Republic of the Philippines v. Court
insufficient to engender a belief that her husband is dead. of Appeals (Tenth Div.),23 we emphasized that:

Second, she did not report Jerrys absence to the police nor did she seek the aid of In view of the summary nature of proceedings under Article 41 of the Family Code
the authorities to look for him. While a finding of well-founded belief varies with for the declaration of presumptive death of ones spouse, the degree of due
the nature of the situation in which the present spouse is placed, under present diligence set by this Honorable Court in the above-mentioned cases in locating the
conditions, we find it proper and prudent for a present spouse, whose spouse had whereabouts of a missing spouse must be strictly complied with. There have been
been missing, to seek the aid of the authorities or, at the very least, report his/her times when Article 41 of the Family Code had been resorted to by parties wishing
absence to the police. to remarry knowing fully well that their alleged missing spouses are alive and well.
It is even possible that those who cannot have their marriages xxx declared null and
Third, she did not present as witnesses Jerrys relatives or their neighbors and void under Article 36 of the Family Code resort to Article 41 of the Family Code for
friends, who can corroborate her efforts to locate Jerry. Worse, these persons, relief because of the xxx summary nature of its proceedings.
from whom she allegedly made inquiries, were not even named. As held in
Nolasco, the present spouses bare assertion that he inquired from his friends The application of this stricter standard becomes even more imperative if we
about his absent spouses whereabouts is insufficient as the names of the friends consider the States policy to protect and strengthen the institution of
from whom he made inquiries were not identified in the testimony nor presented marriage.24 Since marriage serves as the familys foundation25 and since it is the
as witnesses. states policy to protect and strengthen the family as a basic social
institution,26 marriage should not be permitted to be dissolved at the whim of the
Lastly, there was no other corroborative evidence to support the respondents parties. In interpreting and applying Article 41, this is the underlying rationale to
claim that she conducted a diligent search. Neither was there supporting evidence uphold the sanctity of marriage. Arroyo, Jr.v. Court of Appeals27 reflected this
proving that she had a well-founded belief other than her bare claims that she sentiment when we stressed:
inquired from her friends and in-laws about her husbands whereabouts. In sum,
the Court is of the view that the respondent merely engaged in a "passive search" [The]protection of the basic social institutions of marriage and the family in the
where she relied on uncorroborated inquiries from her in-laws, neighbors and preservation of which the State has the strongest interest; the public policy here
friends. She failed to conduct a diligent search because her alleged efforts are involved is of the most fundamental kind. In Article II, Section 12 of the
insufficient to form a well-founded belief that her husband was already dead. As Constitution there is set forth the following basic state policy:
held in Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals (Tenth Div.),22 "[w]hether or
not the spouse present acted on a well-founded belief of death of the absent The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the
spouse depends upon the inquiries to be drawn from a great many circumstances family as a basic autonomous social institution.
occurring before and after the disappearance of the absent spouse and the
natureand extent of the inquiries made by [the] present spouse."
Strict Standard Prescribed Under
Article 41 of the Family Code
Strict Standard Approach Is Is for the Present Spouses Benefit
Consistent with the States Policy
to Protect and Strengthen Marriage
The requisite judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse (and
consequently, the application of a stringent standard for its issuance) is also for the
In the above-cited cases, the Court, fully aware of the possible collusion of spouses present spouse's benefit. It is intended to protect him/her from a criminal
in nullifying their marriage, has consistently applied the "strictstandard" approach. prosecution of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code which might
This is to ensure that a petition for declaration of presumptive death under Article come into play if he/she would prematurely remarry sans the court's declaration.
41 of the Family Code is not used as a tool to conveniently circumvent the laws.
Courts should never allow procedural shortcuts and should ensure that the stricter
Upon the issuance of the decision declaring his/her absent spouse presumptively
dead, the present spouse's good faith in contracting a second marriage is
effectively established. The decision of the competent court constitutes sufficient
proof of his/her good faith and his/her criminal intent in case of remarriage is
effectively negated.28 Thus, for purposes of remarriage, it is necessary to strictly
comply with the stringent standard and have the absent spouse judicially declared
presumptively dead.

Final Word

As a final word, it has not escaped this Court's attention that the strict standard
required in petitions for declaration of presumptive death has not been fully
observed by the lower courts. We need only to cite the instances when this Court,
on review, has consistently ruled on the sanctity of marriage and reiterated that
anything less than the use of the strict standard necessitates a denial. To rectify
this situation, lower courts are now expressly put on notice of the strict standard
this Court requires in cases under Article 41 of the Family Code.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the assailed decision dated August 27, 2008
of the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the order dated December 15, 2006 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 25, Koronadal City, South Cotabato, declaring Jerry F.
Cantor presumptively dead is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

SO ORDERED.