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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 103047 September 2, 1994

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS AND ANGELINA M. CASTRO, respondents.

Parungao, Abesamis, Eleazar & Pulgar Law Offices for private respondent.

PUNO, J.:

The case at bench originated from a petition filed by private respondent Angelina M. Castro in the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City seeking a judicial declaration of nullity of her marriage to Edwin
F. Cardenas. 1 As ground therefor, Castro claims that no marriage license was ever issued to them
prior to the solemnization of their marriage.

Despite notice, defendant Edwin F. Cardenas failed to file his answer. Consequently, he was
declared in default. Trial proceeded in his absence.

The controlling facts are undisputed:

On June 24, 1970, Angelina M. Castro and Edwin F. Cardenas were married in a civil ceremony
performed by Judge Pablo M. Malvar, City Court Judge of Pasay City. The marriage was celebrated
without the knowledge of Castro's parents. Defendant Cardenas personally attended to the
processing of the documents required for the celebration of the marriage, including the procurement
of the marriage, license. In fact, the marriage contract itself states that marriage license no. 3196182
was issued in the name of the contracting parties on June 24, 1970 in Pasig, Metro Manila.

The couple did not immediately live together as husband and wife since the marriage was unknown to
Castro's parents. Thus, it was only in March 1971, when Castro discovered she was pregnant, that
the couple decided to live together. However, their cohabitation lasted only for four (4) months.
Thereafter, the couple parted ways. On October 19, 1971, Castro gave birth. The baby was adopted
by Castro's brother, with the consent of Cardenas.

The baby is now in the United States. Desiring to follow her daughter, Castro wanted to put in order
her marital status before leaving for the States. She thus consulted a lawyer, Atty. Frumencio E.
Pulgar, regarding the possible annulment of her marriage. Through her lawyer's efforts, they
discovered that there was no marriage license issued to Cardenas prior to the celebration of their
marriage.

As proof, Angelina Castro offered in evidence a certification from the Civil Register of Pasig, Metro
Manila. It reads:
February 20, 1987

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

This is to certify that the names EDWIN F. CARDENAS and ANGELINA M. CASTRO
who were allegedly married in the Pasay City Court on June 21, 1970 under an alleged
(s)upportive marriage license
no. 3196182 allegedly issued in the municipality on June 20, 1970 cannot be located as
said license no. 3196182 does not appear from our records.

Issued upon request of Mr. Ed Atanacio.(Sgd) CENONA D. QUINTOS


Senior Civil Registry Officer

Castro testified that she did not go to the civil registrar of Pasig on or before June 24, 1970 in order to
apply for a license. Neither did she sign any application therefor. She affixed her signature only on the
marriage contract on June 24, 1970 in Pasay City.

The trial court denied the petition. 2 It held that the above certification was inadequate to establish the
alleged non-issuance of a marriage license prior to the celebration of the marriage between the
parties. It ruled that the "inability of the certifying official to locate the marriage license is not
conclusive to show that there was no marriage license issued."

Unsatisfied with the decision, Castro appealed to respondent appellate court. She insisted that the
certification from the local civil registrar sufficiently established the absence of a marriage license.

As stated earlier, respondent appellate court reversed the Decision of the trial court. 3 It declared the
marriage between the contracting parties null and void and directed the Civil Registrar of Pasig to
cancel the subject marriage contract.

Hence this petition for review on certiorari.

Petitioner Republic of the Philippines urges that respondent appellate court erred when it ruled that
the certification issued by the civil registrar that marriage license no. 3196182 was not in their record
adequately proved that no such license was ever issued. Petitioner also faults the respondent court
for relying on the self-serving and uncorroborated testimony of private respondent Castro that she
had no part in the procurement of the subject marriage license. Petitioner thus insists that the
certification and the uncorroborated testimony of private respondent are insufficient to overthrow the
legal presumption regarding the validity of a marriage.

Petitioner also points that in declaring the marriage between the parties as null and void, respondent
appellate court disregarded the presumption that the solemnizing officer, Judge Pablo M. Malvar,
regularly performed his duties when he attested in the marriage contract that marriage license no.
3196182 was duly presented to him before the solemnization of the subject marriage.

The issues, being interrelated, shall be discussed jointly.

The core issue presented by the case at bench is whether or not the documentary and testimonial
evidence presented by private respondent are sufficient to establish that no marriage license was
issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig prior to the celebration of the marriage of private respondent to
Edwin F. Cardenas.
We affirm the impugned Decision.

At the time the subject marriage was solemnized on June 24, 1970, the law governing marital
relations was the New Civil Code. The law 4 provides that no marriage shall be solemnized without a
marriage license first issued by a local civil registrar. Being one of the essential requisites of a valid
marriage, absence of a license would render the marriage void ab initio. 5

Petitioner posits that the certification of the local civil registrar of due search and inability to find a
record or entry to the effect that marriage license no. 3196182 was issued to the parties is not
adequate to prove its non-issuance.

We hold otherwise. The presentation of such certification in court is sanctioned by Section 29, Rule
132 of the Rules of Court, viz.:

Sec. 29. Proof of lack of record. A written statement signed by an officer having
custody of an official record or by his deputy, that after diligent search, no record or
entry of a specified tenor is found to exist in the records of his office, accompanied by a
certificate as above provided, is admissible as evidence that the records of his office
contain no such record or entry.

The above Rule authorized the custodian of documents to certify that despite diligent search, a
particular document does not exist in his office or that a particular entry of a specified tenor was not to
be found in a register. As custodians of public documents, civil registrars are public officers charged
with the duty, inter alia, of maintaining a register book where they are required to enter all applications
for marriage licenses, including the names of the applicants, the date the marriage license was issued
and such other relevant data. 6

The certification of "due search and inability to find" issued by the civil registrar of Pasig enjoys
probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative to the
issuance of a marriage license. Unaccompanied by any circumstance of suspicion and pursuant to
Section 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, a certificate of "due search and inability to find" sufficiently
proved that his office did not issue marriage license no. 3196182 to the contracting parties.

The fact that private respondent Castro offered only her testimony in support of her petition is, in
itself, not a ground to deny her petition. The failure to offer any other witness to corroborate her
testimony is mainly due to the peculiar circumstances of the case. It will be remembered that the
subject marriage was a civil ceremony performed by a judge of a city court. The subject marriage is
one of those commonly known as a "secret marriage" a legally non-existent phrase but ordinarily
used to refer to a civil marriage celebrated without the knowledge of the relatives and/or friends of
either or both of the contracting parties. The records show that the marriage between Castro and
Cardenas was initially unknown to the parents of the former.

Surely, the fact that only private respondent Castro testified during the trial cannot be held against
her. Her husband, Edwin F. Cardenas, was duly served with notice of the proceedings and a copy of
the petition. Despite receipt thereof, he chose to ignore the same. For failure to answer, he was
properly declared in default. Private respondent cannot be faulted for her husband's lack of interest to
participate in the proceedings. There was absolutely no evidence on record to show that there was
collusion between private respondent and her husband Cardenas.

It is noteworthy to mention that the finding of the appellate court that the marriage between the
contracting parties is null and void for lack of a marriage license does not discount the fact that
indeed, a spurious marriage license, purporting to be issued by the civil registrar of Pasig, may have
been presented by Cardenas to the solemnizing officer.

In fine, we hold that, under the circumstances of the case, the documentary and testimonial evidence
presented by private respondent Castro sufficiently established the absence of the subject marriage
license.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED there being no showing of any reversible error
committed by respondent appellate court.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

1 Filed on February 19, 1987 and docketed as Civil Case No. Q-50117.

2 Decision dated June 30, 1987, issued by Presiding Judge Antonio P. Solano, Quezon
City RTC, Branch LXXXVI; Rollo, pp. 46-48.

3 Sixteenth Division, penned by Mr. Justice Justo P. Torres, with Mr. Justices Ricardo J.
Francisco and Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, concurring; Decision dated November 27,
1991, Rollo, pp. 38-42.

4 Articles 53 (4) and 58, New Civil Code.

5 Article 80 (3), New Civil Code.

6 Article 70, New Civil Code.


SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 127263. April 12, 2000]

FILIPINA Y. SY, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HONORABLE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA, BRANCH XLI, and FERNANDO
SY, respondents.

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

For review is the decision[1] dated May 21, 1996 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 44144,
which affirmed the decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, denying the
petition[3] for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage of the spouses Filipina Sy and Fernando Sy.

Petitioner Filipina Y. Sy and private respondent Fernando Sy contracted marriage on November 15,
1973 at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Quezon City.[4] Both were then 22 years old. Their
union was blessed with two children, Frederick and Farrah Sheryll who were born on July 8, 1975 and
February 14, 1978,respectively.[5]

The spouses first established their residence in Singalong, Manila, then in Apalit, Pampanga, and
later at San Matias, Sto. Tomas, Pampanga. They operated a lumber and hardware business in Sto.
Tomas, Pampanga.[6]
On September 15, 1983, Fernando left their conjugal dwelling. Since then, the spouses lived
separately, and their two children were in the custody of their mother. However, their son Frederick
transferred to his father's residence at Masangkay, Tondo, Manila on May 15,1988, and from then on,
lived with his father.[7]

On February 11, 1987, Filipina filed a petition for legal separation, docketed as Civil Case No. 7900
before the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga. Later, upon motion of petitioner, the
action was later amended to a petition for separation of property on the grounds that her husband
abandoned her without just cause; that they have been living separately for more than one year; and
that they voluntarily entered into a Memorandum of Agreement dated September 29, 1983, containing
the rules that would govern the dissolution of their conjugal partnership. [8] Judgment was rendered
dissolving their conjugal partnership of gains and approving a regime of separation of properties
based on the Memorandum of Agreement executed by the spouses. [9] The trial court also granted
custody of the children to Filipina.[10]

In May 1988, Filipina filed a criminal action for attempted parricide against her husband, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 88-68006, before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. Filipina testified that in the
afternoon of May 15, 1988, she went to the dental clinic at Masangkay, Tondo, Manila, owned by her
husband but operated by his mistress, to fetch her son and bring him to San Fernando, Pampanga.
While she was talking to her son, the boy ignored her and continued playing with the family computer.
Filipina got mad, took the computer away from her son, and started spanking him. At that instance,
Fernando pulled Filipina away from their son, and punched her in the different parts of her body.
Filipina also claimed that her husband started choking her when she fell on the floor, and released
her only when he thought she was dead. Filipina suffered from hematoma and contusions on different
parts of her body as a result of the blows inflicted by her husband, evidenced by a Medical Certificate
issued by a certain Dr. James Ferraren. She said it was not the first time Fernando maltreated her.[11]

The Regional Trial Court of Manila, however, in its decision[12] dated April 26, 1990, convicted
Fernando only of the lesser crime of slight physical injuries, and sentenced him to 20 days
imprisonment. Edpmis

Petitioner later filed a new action for legal separation against private respondent, docketed as Civil
Case No. 8273,on the following grounds: (1) repeated physical violence; (2) sexual infidelity; (3)
attempt by respondent against her life; and (4) abandonment of her by her husband without justifiable
cause for more than one year. The Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, in its
decision[13] dated December 4,1991, granted the petition on the grounds of repeated physical
violence and sexual infidelity, and issued a decree of legal separation. It awarded custody of their
daughter Farrah Sheryll to petitioner, and their son Frederick to respondent.

On August 4, 1992, Filipina filed a petition[14] for the declaration of absolute nullity of her marriage to
Fernando on the ground of psychological incapacity. She points out that the final judgment rendered
by the Regional Trial Court in her favor, in her petitions for separation of property and legal
separation, and Fernando's infliction of physical violence on her which led to the conviction of her
husband for slight physical injuries are symptoms of psychological incapacity. She also cites as
manifestations of her husband's psychological incapacity the following: (1) habitual alcoholism; (2)
refusal to live with her without fault on her part, choosing to live with his mistress instead; and (3)
refusal to have sex with her, performing the marital act only to satisfy himself. Moreover, Filipina
alleges that such psychological incapacity of her husband existed from the time of the celebration of
their marriage and became manifest thereafter. [15]

The Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, in its decision[16] dated December 9, 1993,
denied the petition of Filipina Sy for the declaration of absolute nullity of her marriage to Fernando. It
stated that the alleged acts of the respondent, as cited by petitioner, do not constitute psychological
incapacity which may warrant the declaration of absolute nullity of their marriage. Lexjuris

Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision of the trial court. In the
decision[17] of the Court of Appeals dated May 21, 1996, it ruled that the testimony of petitioner
concerning respondent's purported psychological incapacity falls short of the quantum of evidence
required to nullify a marriage celebrated with all the formal and essential requisites of law. Moreover,
the Court of Appeals held that petitioner failed to show that the alleged psychological incapacity of
respondent had existed at the time of the celebration of their marriage in 1973. It reiterated the finding
of the trial court that the couple's marital problems surfaced only in 1983, or almost ten years from the
date of the celebration of their marriage. And prior to their separation in 1983, they were living
together harmoniously. Thus, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the lower court which it
found to be in accordance with law and the evidence on record. [18]

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration,[19] which the Court of Appeals denied in its resolution
dated November 21, 1996.[20]

Hence, this appeal by certiorari[21] wherein petitioner now raises the following issues: Jurismis

1. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS MANIFESTLY


OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT ON THE DATE OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE
PARTIES' MARRIAGE ON NOVEMBER 15, 1973, NOT DISPUTED BY RESPONDENT
FERNANDO, THERE WAS NO MARRIAGE LICENSE THERETO;

2. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED


MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS BY STATING THAT THE GROUNDS RELIED UPON
BY APPELLANT [herein petitioner] DO NOT CONSTITUTE PSYCHOLOGICAL
INCAPACITY AS WOULD JUSTIFY NULLIFICATION OF HER MARRIAGE TO
APPELLEE [herein respondent];

3. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED


MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS BY STATING THAT APPELLANT FAILED TO SHOW
THAT THE ALLEGED UNDESIRABLE ACTUATIONS OF APPELLEE HAD EXISTED
OR WERE PRESENT AT THE TIME THEIR MARRIAGE WAS CELEBRATED IN
1973;Jjjuris

4. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED


GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN AFFIRMING THE ERRONEOUS RULING OF
THE LOWER COURT THAT THERE IS A REDEEMING ATTITUDE SHOWN TO THE
COURT BY RESPONDENT FERNANDO WITH RESPECT TO HIS CHILDREN AND
ALSO BELIEVES THAT RECONCILIATION BETWEEN THE PARTIES IS NOT A
REMOTE POSSIBILITY WHICH IS ERRONEOUS; AND

5.WHETHER OR NOT THE CASE OF SANTOS V.COURT OF APPEALS (240 SCRA


20) IS APPLICABLE HERETO.[22]

In sum, two issues are to be resolved: justice

1. Whether or not the marriage between petitioner and private respondent is void from the beginning
for lack of a marriage license at the time of the ceremony; and
2. Whether or not private respondent is psychologically incapacitated at the time of said marriage
celebration to warrant a declaration of its absolute nullity.

Petitioner, for the first time, raises the issue of the marriage being void for lack of a valid marriage
license at the time of its celebration. It appears that, according to her, the date of the actual
celebration of their marriage and the date of issuance of their marriage certificate and marriage
license are different and incongruous. Jksm

Although we have repeatedly ruled that litigants cannot raise an issue for the first time on appeal, as
this would contravene the basic rules of fair play and justice, [23] in a number of instances, we have
relaxed observance of procedural rules, noting that technicalities are not ends in themselves but exist
to protect and promote substantive rights of litigants. We said that certain rules ought not to be
applied with severity and rigidity if by so doing, the very reason for their existence would be
defeated.[24] Hence, when substantial justice plainly requires, exempting a particular case from the
operation of technicalities should not be subject to cavil. [25] In our view, the case at bar requires that
we address the issue of the validity of the marriage between Fillipina and Fernando which petitioner
claims is void from the beginning for lack of a marriage license, in order to arrive at a just resolution of
a deeply seated and violent conflict between the parties. Note, however, that here the pertinent facts
are not disputed; and what is required now is a declaration of their effects according to existing law.

Petitioner states that though she did not categorically state in her petition for annulment of marriage
before the trial court that the incongruity in the dates of the marriage license and the celebration of
the marriage itself would lead to the conclusion that her marriage to Fernando was void from the
beginning, she points out that these critical dates were contained in the documents she submitted
before the court. The date of issue of the marriage license and marriage certificate, September 17,
1974, is contained in their marriage contract which was attached as Annex "A" in her petition for
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage before the trial court, and thereafter marked as Exhibit "A"
in the course of the trial.[26] The date of celebration of their marriage at Our Lady of Lourdes, Sta.
Teresita Parish, on November 15, 1973, is admitted both by petitioner and private respondent, as
stated in paragraph three of petitioner's petition for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage
before the trial court, and private respondent's answer admitting it.[27] This fact was also affirmed by
petitioner, in open court, on January 22, 1993, during her direct examination, [28] as follows: Es m

ATTY. RAZON: In the last hearing, you said that you were married on November
15,1973?

FILIPINA SY: Yes, Sir.

November 15, 1973, also appears as the date of marriage of the parents in both their son's and
daughter's birth certificates, which are also attached as Annexes " B" and "C" in the petition for
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage before the trial court, and thereafter marked as Exhibits "B"
and "C" in the course of the trial.[29] These pieces of evidence on record plainly and indubitably show
that on the day of the marriage ceremony, there was no marriage license. A marriage license is a
formal requirement; its absence renders the marriage void ab initio. In addition, the marriage contract
shows that the marriage license, numbered 6237519, was issued in Carmona, Cavite, yet, neither
petitioner nor private respondent ever resided in Carmona.[30]

Carefully reviewing the documents and the pleadings on record, we find that indeed petitioner did not
expressly state in her petition before the trial court that there was incongruity between the date of the
actual celebration of their marriage and the date of the issuance of their marriage license. From the
documents she presented, the marriage license was issued on September 17,1974, almost one year
after the ceremony took place on November 15, 1973. The ineluctable conclusion is that the marriage
was indeed contracted without a marriage license. Nowhere do we find private respondent denying
these dates on record. Article 80 of the Civil Code[31] is clearly applicable in this case. There being no
claim of an exceptional character, the purported marriage between petitioner and private respondent
could not be classified among those enumerated in Articles 72-79[32] of the Civil Code. We thus
conclude that under Article 80 of the Civil Code, the marriage between petitioner and private
respondent is void from the beginning. Es msc

We note that their marriage certificate and marriage license are only photocopies. So are the birth
certificates of their son Frederick and daughter Farrah Sheryll. Nevertheless, these documents were
marked as Exhibits during the course of the trial below, which shows that these have been examined
and admitted by the trial court, with no objections having been made as to their authenticity and due
execution. Likewise, no objection was interposed to petitioner's testimony in open court when she
affirmed that the date of the actual celebration of their marriage was on November 15, 1973. We are
of the view, therefore, that having been admitted in evidence, with the adverse party failing to timely
object thereto, these documents are deemed sufficient proof of the facts contained therein. [33]

The remaining issue on the psychological incapacity of private respondent need no longer detain us.
It is mooted by our conclusion that the marriage of petitioner to respondent is void ab initio for lack of
a marriage license at the time their marriage was solemnized. Esmm is

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando,
Pampanga, dated December 9,1993 as well as the Decision promulgated on May 21, 1996 by the
Court of Appeals and its Resolution dated November 21, 1996, in CA-G.R. No. 44144 are set aside.
The marriage celebrated on November 15, 1973 between petitioner Filipina Yap and private
respondent Fernando Sy is hereby declared void ab initio for lack of marriage license at the time of
celebration. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 167684 July 31, 2006

JAIME O.SEVILLA, petitioner,


vs.
CARMELITA N. CARDENAS, respondent.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks the reversal of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 74416 dated 20 December 2004 which set aside the Decision 2 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Makati City, in Civil Case No. 94-1285 dated 25 January 2002.

In a Complaint3 dated 28 March 1994 filed by Jaime O. Sevilla before the RTC, he claimed that on 19
May 1969, through machinations, duress and intimidation employed upon him by Carmelita N.
Cardenas and the latter's father, retired Colonel Jose Cardenas of the Armed forces of the
Philippines, he and Carmelita went to the City Hall of Manila and they were introduced to a certain
Reverend Cirilo D. Gonzales, a supposed Minister of the Gospel. On the said date, the father of
Carmelita caused him and Carmelita to sign a marriage contract before the said Minister of the
Gospel. According to Jaime, he never applied for a marriage license for his supposed marriage to
Carmelita and never did they obtain any marriage license from any Civil Registry, consequently, no
marriage license was presented to the solemnizing officer.
For her part, Carmelita refuted these allegations of Jaime, and claims that she and Jaime were
married civilly on 19 May 1969,4 and in a church ceremony thereafter on 31 May 1969 5 at the Most
Holy Redeemer Parish in Quezon City. Both marriages were registered with the local civil registry of
Manila and the National Statistics Office. He is estopped from invoking the lack of marriage license
after having been married to her for 25 years.

The trial court made the following findings:

In support of his complaint, plaintiff [Jaime] testified that on May 19, 1969, he and defendant
[Carmelita] appeared before a certain Rev. Cirilo D. Gonzales, a Minister of the Gospel, at the
city hall in Manila where they executed a Marriage Contract (Exh. "A") in civil rites. A certain
Godofredo Occena who, plaintiff alleged, was an aide of defendant's father accompanied
them, and who, together with another person, stood as witness to the civil wedding. That
although marriage license no. 2770792 allegedly issued in San Juan, Rizal on May 19, 1969
was indicated in the marriage contract, the same was fictitious for he never applied for any
marriage license, (Ibid., p. 11). Upon verifications made by him through his lawyer, Atty. Jose
M. Abola, with the Civil Registry of San Juan, a Certification dated March 11, 1994 (Exh. "E")
was issued by Rafael D. Aliscad, Jr., Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, that "no marriage
license no. 2770792 was ever issued by said office." On May 31, 1969, he and defendant were
again wed, this time in church rites, before Monsignor Juan Velasco at the Most Holy
Redeemer Parish Church in Brixton Hills, Quezon City, where they executed another marriage
contract (Exh. "F") with the same marriage license no. 2770792 used and indicated.
Preparations and expenses for the church wedding and reception were jointly shared by his
and defendant's parents. After the church wedding, he and defendant resided in his house at
Brixton Hills until their first son, Jose Gabriel, was born in March 1970. As his parents
continued to support him financially, he and defendant lived in Spain for some time, for his
medical studies. Eventually, their marital relationship turned bad because it became difficult for
him to be married he being a medical student at that time. They started living apart in 1976, but
they underwent family counseling before they eventually separated in 1978. It was during this
time when defendant's second son was born whose paternity plaintiff questioned. Plaintiff
obtained a divorce decree against defendant in the United States in 1981 and later secured a
judicial separation of their conjugal partnership in 1983.

Atty. Jose M. Abola, then counsel for the plaintiff, himself manifested that when his service was
engaged by plaintiff, and after the latter narrated to him the circumstances of his marriage, he
made inquiries with the Office of Civil Registry of San Juan where the supposed marriage
license was obtained and with the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer Parish where the
religious wedding ceremony was celebrated. His request letters dated March 3, 1994 (Exh.
"J"), March 7, 1994 (Exh. "L"), March 9, 1994 (Exh. "M") and March 11, 1994 (Exh. "K") were
all sent to and received by the Civil Registrar of San Juan, who in reply thereto, issued
Certifications dated March 4, 1994 (Exh. "I"), and March 11, 1994 (Exh. "E") and September
20, 1994 (Exh. "C"), that "no marriage license no. 2770792 was ever issued by that office."
Upon his inquiry, the Holy Redeemer Parish Church issued him a certified copy of the
marriage contract of plaintiff and defendant (Exh. "F") and a Certificate of Marriage dated April
11, 1994 (Exh. "G"), wherein it noted that it was a "purely religious ceremony, having been
civilly married on May 19, 1969 at the City Hall, Manila, under Marriage License No. 2770792
issued at San Juan, Rizal on May 19, 1969."

Perlita Mercader, Registration Officer III of the Local Registry of San Juan, identified the
Certificates dated March 4, 1994, March 11, 1994 and September 20, 1994 issued by Rafael
Aliscad, Jr., the Local Civil Registrar, and testified that their office failed to locate the book
wherein marriage license no. 2770792 may have been registered (TSN, 8-6-96, p. 5).
Defendant Carmelita Cardenas testified that she and plaintiff had a steady romantic
relationship after they met and were introduced to each other in October 1968. A model, she
was compelled by her family to join the Mutya ng Pilipinas beauty pageant when plaintiff who
was afraid to lose her, asked her to run away with him to Baguio. Because she loved plaintiff,
she turned back on her family and decided to follow plaintiff in Baguio. When they came back
to Manila, she and plaintiff proceeded to the latter's home in Brixton Hills where plaintiff's
mother, Mrs. Sevilla, told her not to worry. Her parents were hostile when they learned of the
elopement, but Mrs. Sevilla convinced them that she will take care of everything, and promised
to support plaintiff and defendant. As plaintiff was still fearful he may lose her, he asked her to
marry him in civil rites, without the knowledge of her family, more so her father (TSN, 5-28-98,
p. 4) on May 19, 1969, before a minister and where she was made to sign documents. After
the civil wedding, they had lunch and later each went home separately. On May 31, 1969, they
had the church wedding, which the Sevilla family alone prepared and arranged, since
defendant's mother just came from hospital. Her family did not participate in the wedding
preparations. Defendant further stated that there was no sexual consummation during their
honeymoon and that it was after two months when they finally had sex. She learned from Dr.
Escudero, plaintiff's physician and one of their wedding sponsors that plaintiff was undergoing
psychiatric therapy since age 12 (TSN, 11-2-98, p. 15) for some traumatic problem
compounded by his drug habit. She found out plaintiff has unusual sexual behavior by his
obsession over her knees of which he would take endless pictures of. Moreover, plaintiff
preferred to have sex with her in between the knees which she called "intrafemural sex," while
real sex between them was far and between like 8 months, hence, abnormal. During their
marriage, plaintiff exhibited weird sexual behavior which defendant attributed to plaintiff's drug
addiction (TSN, 11-5-98, pp. 5-8). A compulsive liar, plaintiff has a bad temper who breaks
things when he had tantrums. Plaintiff took drugs like amphetamines, benzedrine and the like,
"speed" drugs that kept him from sleep and then would take barbiturates or downers, like
"mogadon." Defendant tried very hard to keep plaintiff away from drugs but failed as it has
become a habit to him. They had no fixed home since they often moved and partly lived in
Spain for about four and a half years, and during all those times, her mother-in-law would send
some financial support on and off, while defendant worked as an English teacher. Plaintiff, who
was supposed to be studying, did nothing. Their marriage became unbearable, as plaintiff
physically and verbally abused her, and this led to a break up in their marriage. Later, she
learned that plaintiff married one Angela Garcia in 1991 in the United States.

Jose Cardenas, father of defendant, testified that he was not aware of the civil wedding of his
daughter with the plaintiff; that his daughter and grandson came to stay with him after they
returned home from Spain and have lived with him and his wife ever since. His grandsons
practically grew up under his care and guidance, and he has supported his daughter's
expenses for medicines and hospital confinements (Exhs. "9" and "10").

Victoria Cardenas Navarro, defendant's sister, testified and corroborated that it was plaintiff's
family that attended to all the preparations and arrangements for the church wedding of her
sister with plaintiff, and that she didn't know that the couple wed in civil rites some time prior to
the church wedding. She also stated that she and her parents were still civil with the plaintiff
inspite of the marital differences between plaintiff and defendant.

As adverse witness for the defendant, plaintiff testified that because of irreconcilable
differences with defendant and in order for them to live their own lives, they agreed to divorce
each other; that when he applied for and obtained a divorce decree in the United States on
June 14, 1983 (Exh. "13"), it was with the knowledge and consent of defendant who in fact
authorized a certain Atty. Quisumbing to represent her (TSN, 12-7-2000, p. 21). During his
adverse testimony, plaintiff identified a recent certification dated July 25, 2000 (Exh. "EE")
issued by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, that the marriage license no. 2770792, the
same marriage license appearing in the marriage contract (Exh. "A"), is inexistent, thus
appears to be fictitious.6

In its Decision dated 25 January 2002, declaring the nullity of the marriage of the parties, the trial
court made the following justifications:

Thus, being one of the essential requisites for the validity of the marriage, the lack or absence
of a license renders the marriage void ab initio. It was shown under the various certifications
(Exhs. "I", "E", and "C") earlier issued by the office of the Local Civil Registrar of the
Municipality of San Juan, and the more recent one issued on July 25, 2000 (Exh. "EE") that no
marriage license no. 2770792 was ever issued by that office, hence, the marriage license no.
2770792 appearing on the marriage contracts executed on May 19, 1969 (Exh. "A") and on
May 31, 1969 (Exh. "F") was fictitious. Such a certification enjoys probative value under the
rules on evidence, particularly Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, x x x.

xxxx

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby declares the civil marriage between Jaime O. Sevilla and
Carmelita N. Cardenas solemnized by Rev. Cirilo D. Gonzales at the Manila City Hall on May
19, 1969 as well as their contract of marriage solemnized under religious rites by Rev. Juan B.
Velasco at the Holy Redeemer Parish on May 31, 1969, NULL and VOID for lack of the
requisite marriage license. Let the marriage contract of the parties under Registry No. 601 (e-
69) of the registry book of the Local Civil Registry of Manila be cancelled.

Let copies of this Decision be duly recorded in the proper civil and property registries in
accordance with Article 52 of the Family Code. Likewise, let a copy hereof be forwarded the
Office of the Solicitor General for its record and information. 7

Carmelita filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. In a Decision dated 20 December 2004, the
Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court and held:

In People v. De Guzman (G.R. No. 106025, February 9, 1994), the Supreme Court explained
that: "The presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of
irregularity or failure to perform a duty. The presumption, however, prevails until it is overcome
by no less than clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. Thus, unless the presumption is
rebutted, it becomes conclusive."

In this case, We note that a certain Perlita Mercader of the local civil registry of San Juan
testified that they "failed to locate the book wherein marriage license no. 2770792 is
registered," for the reason that "the employee handling is already retired." With said testimony
We cannot therefore just presume that the marriage license specified in the parties' marriage
contract was not issued for in the end the failure of the office of the local civil registrar of San
Juan to produce a copy of the marriage license was attributable not to the fact that no such
marriage license was issued but rather, because it "failed to locate the book wherein marriage
license no. 2770792 is registered." Simply put, if the pertinent book were available for scrutiny,
there is a strong possibility that it would have contained an entry on marriage license no.
2720792.

xxxx
Indeed, this Court is not prepared to annul the parties' marriage on the basis of a mere
perception of plaintiff that his union with defendant is defective with respect to an essential
requisite of a marriage contract, a perception that ultimately was not substantiated with facts
on record.8

Jaime filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated 6 January 2005 which the Court of Appeals denied in
a Resolution dated 6 April 2005.

This denial gave rise to the present Petition filed by Jaime.

He raises the following issues for Resolution.

1. Whether or not a valid marriage license was issued in accordance with law to the parties
herein prior to the celebration of the marriages in question;

2. Whether or not the Court of Appeals correctly applied and relied on the presumption of
regularity of officials acts, particularly the issuance of a marriage license, arising solely from
the contents of the marriage contracts in question which show on their face that a marriage
license was purportedly issued by the Local Civil Registry of San Juan, Metro Manila, and

3. Whether or not respondent could validly invoke/rely upon the presumption of validity of a
marriage arising from the admitted "fact of marriage."9

At the core of this controversy is the determination of whether or not the certifications from the Local
Civil Registrar of San Juan stating that no Marriage License No. 2770792 as appearing in the
marriage contract of the parties was issued, are sufficient to declare their marriage as null and
void ab initio.

We agree with the Court of Appeals and rule in the negative.

Pertinent provisions of the Civil Code which was the law in force at the time of the marriage of the
parties are Articles 53,10 5811 and 80.12

Based on the foregoing provisions, a marriage license is an essential requisite for the validity of
marriage. The marriage between Carmelita and Jaime is of no exception.

At first glance, this case can very well be easily dismissed as one involving a marriage that is null and
void on the ground of absence of a marriage license based on the certifications issued by the Local
Civil Registar of San Juan. As ruled by this Court in the case of Cario v. Cario13:

[A]s certified by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record
of such marriage license. In Republic v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that such a
certification is adequate to prove the non-issuance of a marriage license. Absent any
circumstance of suspicion, as in the present case, the certification issued by the local civil
registrar enjoys probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of
all date relative to the issuance of a marriage license.

Such being the case, the presumed validity of the marriage of petitioner and the deceased has
been sufficiently overcome. It then became the burden of petitioner to prove that their marriage
is valid and that they secured the required marriage license. Although she was declared in
default before the trial court, petitioner could have squarely met the issue and explained the
absence of a marriage license in her pleadings before the Court of Appeals and this Court. But
petitioner conveniently avoided the issue and chose to refrain from pursuing an argument that
will put her case in jeopardy. Hence, the presumed validity of their marriage cannot stand.

It is beyond cavil, therefore, that the marriage between petitioner Susan Nicdao and the
deceased, having been solemnized without the necessary marriage license, and not being one
of the marriages exempt from the marriage license requirement, is undoubtedly void ab initio.

The foregoing Decision giving probative value to the certifications issued by the Local Civil Registrar
should be read in line with the decision in the earlier case of Republic v. Court of Appeals,14 where it
was held that:

The above Rule authorized the custodian of documents to certify that despite diligent search, a
particular document does not exist in his office or that a particular entry of a specified tenor
was not to be found in a register. As custodians of public documents, civil registrars are public
officers charged with the duty, inter alia, of maintaining a register book where they are required
to enter all applications for marriage licenses, including the names of the applicants, the date
the marriage license was issued and such other relevant data. (Emphasis supplied.)

Thus, the certification to be issued by the Local Civil Registrar must categorically state that the
document does not exist in his office or the particular entry could not be found in the register despite
diligent search. Such certification shall be sufficient proof of lack or absence of record as stated in
Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court:

SEC. 28. Proof of lack of record. a written statement signed by an officer having the custody
of an official record or by his deputy that after diligent search, no record or entry of a specified
tenor is found to exist in the records of his office, accompanied by a certificate as above
provided, is admissible as evidence that the records of his office contain no such record or
entry.

We shall now proceed to scrutinize whether the certifications by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan
in connection with Marriage License No. 2770792 complied with the foregoing requirements and
deserved to be accorded probative value.

The first Certification15 issued by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, was dated 11
March 1994. It reads:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

No Marriage License Number 2770792 were (sic) ever issued by this Office. With regards (sic)
to Marriage License Number 2880792,16 we exert all effort but we cannot find the said number.

Hope and understand our loaded work cannot give you our full force locating the above
problem.

San Juan, Metro Manila

March 11, 1994

(SGD)RAFAEL D. ALISCAD, JR.


Local Civil Registrar
The second certification17 was dated 20 September 1994 and provides:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

This is to certify that no marriage license Number 2770792 were ever issued by this Office with
regards to Marriage License Number 2880792, we exert all effort but we cannot find the said
number.

Hope and understand our loaded work cannot give you our full force locating the above
problem.

San Juan, Metro Manila

September 20, 1994

(SGD)RAFAEL D. ALISCAD, JR.


Local Civil Registrar

The third Certification,18 issued on 25 July 2000, states:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

This is to certify that according to the records of this office, no Marriage License Application
was filed and no Marriage License No. 2770792 allegedly dated May 19, 1969 was issued by
this Office to MR. JAIME O. SEVILLA and MS. CARMELITA CARDENAS-SEVILLA.

This is to further certify that the said application and license do not exist in our Local Civil
Registry Index and, therefore, appear to be fictitious.

This certification is being issued upon the request of the interested party for whatever legal
intent it may serve.

San Juan, Metro Manila

July 25, 2000

(SGD)RAFAEL D. ALISCAD, JR.


Local Civil Registrar

Note that the first two certifications bear the statement that "hope and understand our loaded work
cannot give you our full force locating the above problem." It could be easily implied from the said
statement that the Office of the Local Civil Registrar could not exert its best efforts to locate and
determine the existence of Marriage License No. 2770792 due to its "loaded work." Likewise, both
certifications failed to state with absolute certainty whether or not such license was issued.

This implication is confirmed in the testimony of the representative from the Office of the Local Civil
Registrar of San Juan, Ms. Perlita Mercader, who stated that they cannot locate the logbook due to
the fact that the person in charge of the said logbook had already retired. Further, the testimony of the
said person was not presented in evidence. It does not appear on record that the former custodian of
the logbook was deceased or missing, or that his testimony could not be secured. This belies the
claim that all efforts to locate the logbook or prove the material contents therein, had been exerted.

As testified to by Perlita Mercader:

Q Under the subpoena duces tecum, you were required to bring to this Court among other
things the register of application of/or (sic) for marriage licenses received by the Office of the
:Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Province of Rizal, from January 19, 1969 to May 1969. Did
you bring with you those records?

A I brought may 19, 1969, sir.

Q Is that the book requested of you under no. 3 of the request for subpoena?

A Meron pang January. I forgot, January . . .

Q Did you bring that with you?

A No, sir.

Q Why not?

A I cannot locate the book. This is the only book.

Q Will you please state if this is the register of marriage of marriage applications that your
office maintains as required by the manual of the office of the Local Civil Registrar?

COURT

May I see that book and the portion marked by the witness.

xxxx

COURT

Why don't you ask her direct question whether marriage license 2880792 is the number
issued by their office while with respect to license no. 2770792 the office of the Local
Civil Registrar of San Juan is very definite about it it was never issued. Then ask him
how about no. 2880792 if the same was ever issued by their office. Did you ask this
2887092, but you could not find the record? But for the moment you cannot locate the
books? Which is which now, was this issued or not?

A The employee handling it is already retired, sir.19

Given the documentary and testimonial evidence to the effect that utmost efforts were not exerted to
locate the logbook where Marriage License No. 2770792 may have been entered, the presumption of
regularity of performance of official function by the Local Civil Registrar in issuing the certifications, is
effectively rebutted.

According to Section 3(m),20 Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, the presumption that official duty has
been regularly performed is among the disputable presumptions.
In one case, it was held:

A disputable presumption has been defined as a species of evidence that may be accepted
and acted on where there is no other evidence to uphold the contention for which it stands, or
one which may be overcome by other evidence. One such disputable/rebuttable presumption
is that an official act or duty has been regularly performed. x x x. 21

The presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or
failure to perform a duty.22

The presumption of regularity of performance of official duty is disputable and can be overcome by
other evidence as in the case at bar where the presumption has been effectively defeated by the
tenor of the first and second certifications.

Moreover, the absence of the logbook is not conclusive proof of non-issuance of Marriage License
No. 2770792. It can also mean, as we believed true in the case at bar, that the logbook just cannot be
found. In the absence of showing of diligent efforts to search for the said logbook, we cannot easily
accept that absence of the same also means non-existence or falsity of entries therein.

Finally, the rule is settled that every intendment of the law or fact leans toward the validity of the
marriage, the indissolubility of the marriage bonds. 23 The courts look upon this presumption with great
favor. It is not to be lightly repelled; on the contrary, the presumption is of great weight. 24

The Court is mindful of the policy of the 1987 Constitution to protect and strengthen the family as the
basic autonomous social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family. Thus, any doubt
should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage.25

The parties have comported themselves as husband and wife and lived together for several years
producing two offsprings,26 now adults themselves. It took Jaime several years before he filed the
petition for declaration of nullity. Admittedly, he married another individual sometime in 1991. 27 We
are not ready to reward petitioner 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. 28

Our Constitution is committed to the policy of strengthening the family as a basic social institution.
Our family law is based on the policy that marriage is not a mere contract, but a social institution in
which the State is vitally interested. The State can find no stronger anchor than on good, solid and
happy families. The break-up of families weakens our social and moral fabric; hence, their
preservation is not the concern of the family members alone. 29

"The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is x x x marriage. Marriage in this
jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it is a new relation, an institution in the maintenance of
which the public is deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward
legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence
of any counterpresumption 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.' Semper praesumitur pro
matrimonio Always presume marriage."30
This jurisprudential attitude towards marriage is based on the prima facie presumption that a man and
a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of
marriage.31

By our failure to come to the succor of Jaime, we are not trifling with his emotion or deepest
sentiments. As we have said in Carating-Siayngco v. Siayngco,32 regrettably, there are situations like
this one, where neither law nor society can provide the specific answers to every individual problem.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of
Appeals dated 20 December 2004 and the Resolution dated 6 April 2005 are AFFIRMED. Costs
against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, C.J., Ynares-Santiago, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., J.J., concur.

Footnotes
1
Docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 74416, penned by Associate Justice Vicente S. E. Veloso with
Associate Justices Roberto A. Barrios and Amelita G. Tolentino, concurring; Rollo, pp. 20-31.
2 Rollo, p. 46. Penned by Judge Zeus C. Abrogar.
3 Records, Vol. I, pp. 1-4.
4 Id. at 5.
5 Id. at 232.
6 Rollo, pp. 47-50.
7 Id. at 50-52.
8 Id. at 29-31.
9
Id. at 80-81.
10 ART. 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied with:

(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties;

(2) Their consent, freely given;

(3) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and

(4) a marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character.


11 ART. 58. Save marriages of an exceptional character authorized in Chapter 2 of this Title,
but not those under Article 75, no marriage shall be solemnized without a license first being
issued by the local civil registrar of the municipality where either contracting party habitually
resides.
12 ART. 80. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

xxxx

(3) Those solemnized without a marriage license, save marriages of exceptional


charater.
13 G.R. No. 132529, 2 February 2001, 351 SCRA 127, 133-134.
14 G.R. No. 103047, 2 September 1994, 236 SCRA 257, 262.
15 Records, Vol. I, p. 103.
16Atty. Josa Ma. Abola, counsel for Jaime Sevilla testified before the trial court that in his letter
requesting for the issuance of a certification, addressed to the Local Civil Registrar of San
Juan, he mistakenly read the Marriage License No. as 2880792 instead of 2770792. (Records,
Vol. II, pp. 725-726.)
17
Id. at 228.
18 Records, Vol. II, p. 888.
19 Id. at 735-737.
20 Rule 131. BURDEN OF PROOF AND PRESUMPTIONS

xxxx

SEC. 3. Disputable presumptions. The following presumptions are satisfactory if


uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence;

xxxx

(m) That official duty has been regularly performed;


21 People v. De Guzman, G.R. No. 106025, 9 February 1994, 229 SCRA 795, 798-799.
22 Mabsucang v. Judge Balgos, 446 Phil. 217, 224 (2003).
23 Article 220 Civil Code, Bobis v. Bobis, 391 Phil. 648, 655 (2000).
24 Ricardo J. Francisco, BASIC EVIDENCE (2nd ed., 1999), p. 77.
25 Republic v. Quintero-Hamano, G.R. No. 149498, 20 May 2004, 428 SCRA 735, 740.
26 Records, Vol. II, p. 413, TSN, 11 April 1996.
27 Id. at p. 414.
28 Ty v. Court of Appeals, 399 Phil. 647, 663 (2000).
29Tuason v. Court of Appeals, 326 Phil. 169, 180-181 (1996) cited in Ancheta v. Ancheta, G.R.
No. 145370, 4 March 2004, 424 SCRA 725, 740.
30 Vda. de Jacob v. Court of Appeals, 371 Phil. 693, 709 (1999).
31 Id.
32 G.R. No. 158896, 27 October 2004, 441 SCRA 422, 439.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 174689 October 22, 2007

ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, petitioner,


vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

DECISION

CORONA, J.:

When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; He created them male and
female. (Genesis 5:1-2)

Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed planted by Bathala and she heard voices coming from
inside the bamboo. "Oh North Wind! North Wind! Please let us out!," the voices said. She
pecked the reed once, then twice. All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit open. Out
came two human beings; one was a male and the other was a female. Amihan named the man
"Malakas" (Strong) and the woman "Maganda" (Beautiful). (The Legend of Malakas and
Maganda)
When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In particular, does the law recognize the
changes made by a physician using scalpel, drugs and counseling with regard to a persons sex?
May a person successfully petition for a change of name and sex appearing in the birth certificate to
reflect the result of a sex reassignment surgery?

On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio filed a petition for the change of
his first name and sex in his birth certificate in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The
petition, docketed as SP Case No. 02-105207, impleaded the civil registrar of Manila as respondent.

Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the City of Manila to the spouses Melecio Petines
Silverio and Anita Aquino Dantes on April 4, 1962. His name was registered as "Rommel Jacinto
Dantes Silverio" in his certificate of live birth (birth certificate). His sex was registered as "male."

He further alleged that he is a male transsexual, that is, "anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts
as a female" and that he had always identified himself with girls since childhood. 1 Feeling trapped in a
mans body, he consulted several doctors in the United States. He underwent psychological
examination, hormone treatment and breast augmentation. His attempts to transform himself to a
"woman" culminated on January 27, 2001 when he underwent sex reassignment surgery2 in
Bangkok, Thailand. He was thereafter examined by Dr. Marcelino Reysio-Cruz, Jr., a plastic and
reconstruction surgeon in the Philippines, who issued a medical certificate attesting that he
(petitioner) had in fact undergone the procedure.

From then on, petitioner lived as a female and was in fact engaged to be married. He then sought to
have his name in his birth certificate changed from "Rommel Jacinto" to "Mely," and his sex from
"male" to "female."

An order setting the case for initial hearing was published in the Peoples Journal Tonight, a
newspaper of general circulation in Metro Manila, for three consecutive weeks. 3 Copies of the order
were sent to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the civil registrar of Manila.

On the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional requirements were established. No opposition to the
petition was made.

During trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also presented Dr. Reysio-Cruz, Jr. and his American
fianc, Richard P. Edel, as witnesses.

On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision4 in favor of petitioner. Its relevant portions read:

Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or judgment or any infraction thereof
or for any unlawful motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth records compatible
with his present sex.

The sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is entitled to the relief asked for.

The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative.

Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that granting the petition would be more in consonance with
the principles of justice and equity. With his sexual [re-assignment], petitioner, who has always
felt, thought and acted like a woman, now possesses the physique of a female. Petitioners
misfortune to be trapped in a mans body is not his own doing and should not be in any way
taken against him.
Likewise, the [c]ourt believes that no harm, injury [or] prejudice will be caused to anybody or
the community in granting the petition. On the contrary, granting the petition would bring the
much-awaited happiness on the part of the petitioner and her [fianc] and the realization of
their dreams.

Finally, no evidence was presented to show any cause or ground to deny the present petition
despite due notice and publication thereof. Even the State, through the [OSG] has not seen fit
to interpose any [o]pposition.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered GRANTING the petition and ordering the Civil
Registrar of Manila to change the entries appearing in the Certificate of Birth of [p]etitioner,
specifically for petitioners first name from "Rommel Jacinto" to MELY and petitioners gender
from "Male" to FEMALE. 5

On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), thru the OSG, filed a petition for
certiorari in the Court of Appeals.6 It alleged that there is no law allowing the change of entries in the
birth certificate by reason of sex alteration.

On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals7 rendered a decision8 in favor of the Republic. It ruled
that the trial courts decision lacked legal basis. There is no law allowing the change of either name or
sex in the certificate of birth on the ground of sex reassignment through surgery. Thus, the Court of
Appeals granted the Republics petition, set aside the decision of the trial court and ordered the
dismissal of SP Case No. 02-105207. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it was denied. 9 Hence,
this petition.

Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his name and sex in his birth certificate is allowed
under Articles 407 to 413 of the Civil Code, Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court and RA 9048. 10

The petition lacks merit.

A Persons First Name Cannot Be Changed On the Ground of Sex Reassignment

Petitioner invoked his sex reassignment as the ground for his petition for change of name and sex. As
found by the trial court:

Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or judgment or any infraction thereof
or for any unlawful motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth records
compatible with his present sex. (emphasis supplied)

Petitioner believes that after having acquired the physical features of a female, he became entitled to
the civil registry changes sought. We disagree.

The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and entities for purposes of
identification.11 A change of name is a privilege, not a right.12 Petitions for change of name are
controlled by statutes.13 In this connection, Article 376 of the Civil Code provides:

ART. 376. No person can change his name or surname without judicial authority.

This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048 (Clerical Error Law). In particular, Section 1 of
RA 9048 provides:
SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or Typographical Error and Change of First Name or
Nickname. No entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial order,
except for clerical or typographical errors and change of first name or nickname which can be
corrected or changed by the concerned city or municipal civil registrar or consul general in
accordance with the provisions of this Act and its implementing rules and regulations.

RA 9048 now governs the change of first name.14 It vests the power and authority to entertain
petitions for change of first name to the city or municipal civil registrar or consul general concerned.
Under the law, therefore, jurisdiction over applications for change of first name is now primarily
lodged with the aforementioned administrative officers. The intent and effect of the law is to exclude
the change of first name from the coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and 108 (Cancellation or
Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court, until and unless an administrative
petition for change of name is first filed and subsequently denied. 15 It likewise lays down the
corresponding venue,16 form17 and procedure. In sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating
change of first name are primarily administrative in nature, not judicial.

RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which change of first name may be allowed:

SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or Nickname. The petition for change of first
name or nickname may be allowed in any of the following cases:

(1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or
extremely difficult to write or pronounce;

(2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the
petitioner and he has been publicly known by that first name or nickname in the community; or

(3) The change will avoid confusion.

Petitioners basis in praying for the change of his first name was his sex reassignment. He intended to
make his first name compatible with the sex he thought he transformed himself into through surgery.
However, a change of name does not alter ones legal capacity or civil status. 18 RA 9048 does not
sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion,
changing petitioners first name for his declared purpose may only create grave complications in the
civil registry and the public interest.

Before a person can legally change his given name, he must present proper or reasonable cause or
any compelling reason justifying such change.19 In addition, he must show that he will be prejudiced
by the use of his true and official name. 20 In this case, he failed to show, or even allege, any prejudice
that he might suffer as a result of using his true and official name.

In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for the change of petitioners first name was
not within that courts primary jurisdiction as the petition should have been filed with the local civil
registrar concerned, assuming it could be legally done. It was an improper remedy because the
proper remedy was administrative, that is, that provided under RA 9048. It was also filed in the wrong
venue as the proper venue was in the Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila where his birth certificate
is kept. More importantly, it had no merit since the use of his true and official name does not prejudice
him at all. For all these reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed petitioners petition in so far
as the change of his first name was concerned.

No Law Allows The Change of Entry In The Birth Certificate As To Sex On the Ground of Sex
Reassignment
The determination of a persons sex appearing in his birth certificate is a legal issue and the court
must look to the statutes.21 In this connection, Article 412 of the Civil Code provides:

ART. 412. No entry in the civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial order.

Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this provision was amended by RA 9048 in so far
as clerical or typographical errors are involved. The correction or change of such matters can now be
made through administrative proceedings and without the need for a judicial order. In effect, RA 9048
removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court the correction of such errors. 22 Rule 108
now applies only to substantial changes and corrections in entries in the civil register. 23

Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a "clerical or typographical error" is:

SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. As used in this Act, the following terms shall mean:

xxx xxx xxx

(3) "Clerical or typographical error" refers to a mistake committed in the performance of


clerical work in writing, copying, transcribing or typing an entry in the civil register that is
harmless and innocuous, such as misspelled name or misspelled place of birth or the
like, which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding, and can be corrected
or changed only by reference to other existing record or records: Provided,
however, That no correction must involve the change of nationality, age, status
or sex of the petitioner. (emphasis supplied)

Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the change of sex is not a mere clerical or
typographical error. It is a substantial change for which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court.

The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable under Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court are those provided in Articles 407 and 408 of the Civil Code: 24

ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons shall be
recorded in the civil register.

ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register:

(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5) annulments of marriage; (6)
judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7) legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9)
acknowledgments of natural children; (10) naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of
citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14) judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary
emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of name.

The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of the Civil Code include even those
that occur after birth.25 However, no reasonable interpretation of the provision can justify the
conclusion that it covers the correction on the ground of sex reassignment.

To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to remove the faults or error from" while to change
means "to replace something with something else of the same kind or with something that serves as
a substitute."26 The birth certificate of petitioner contained no error. All entries therein, including those
corresponding to his first name and sex, were all correct. No correction is necessary.
Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in the civil registry of certain acts (such as
legitimations, acknowledgments of illegitimate children and naturalization), events (such as births,
marriages, naturalization and deaths) and judicial decrees (such as legal separations, annulments of
marriage, declarations of nullity of marriages, adoptions, naturalization, loss or recovery of
citizenship, civil interdiction, judicial determination of filiation and changes of name). These acts,
events and judicial decrees produce legal consequences that touch upon the legal capacity, status
and nationality of a person. Their effects are expressly sanctioned by the laws. In contrast, sex
reassignment is not among those acts or events mentioned in Article 407. Neither is it recognized nor
even mentioned by any law, expressly or impliedly.

"Status" refers to the circumstances affecting the legal situation (that is, the sum total of capacities
and incapacities) of a person in view of his age, nationality and his family membership. 27

The status of a person in law includes all his personal qualities and relations, more or less
permanent in nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being legitimate
or illegitimate, or his being married or not. The comprehensive term status include such
matters as the beginning and end of legal personality, capacity to have rights in general, family
relations, and its various aspects, such as birth, legitimation, adoption, emancipation,
marriage, divorce, and sometimes even succession.28 (emphasis supplied)

A persons sex is an essential factor in marriage and family relations. It is a part of a persons legal
capacity and civil status. In this connection, Article 413 of the Civil Code provides:

ART. 413. All other matters pertaining to the registration of civil status shall be governed by
special laws.

But there is no such special law in the Philippines governing sex reassignment and its effects. This is
fatal to petitioners cause.

Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register Law) provides:

SEC. 5. Registration and certification of births. The declaration of the physician or midwife in
attendance at the birth or, in default thereof, the declaration of either parent of the newborn
child, shall be sufficient for the registration of a birth in the civil register. Such declaration shall
be exempt from documentary stamp tax and shall be sent to the local civil registrar not later
than thirty days after the birth, by the physician or midwife in attendance at the birth or by
either parent of the newborn child.

In such declaration, the person above mentioned shall certify to the following facts: (a) date
and hour of birth; (b) sex and nationality of infant; (c) names, citizenship and religion of
parents or, in case the father is not known, of the mother alone; (d) civil status of parents; (e)
place where the infant was born; and (f) such other data as may be required in the regulations
to be issued.

xxx xxx xxx (emphasis supplied)

Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical record of the facts as they existed at the
time of birth.29Thus, the sex of a person is determined at birth, visually done by the birth attendant
(the physician or midwife) by examining the genitals of the infant. Considering that there is no law
legally recognizing sex reassignment, the determination of a persons sex made at the time of his or
her birth, if not attended by error,30 is immutable.31
When words are not defined in a statute they are to be given their common and ordinary meaning in
the absence of a contrary legislative intent. The words "sex," "male" and "female" as used in the Civil
Register Law and laws concerning the civil registry (and even all other laws) should therefore be
understood in their common and ordinary usage, there being no legislative intent to the contrary. In
this connection, sex is defined as "the sum of peculiarities of structure and function that distinguish a
male from a female"32 or "the distinction between male and female."33Female is "the sex that
produces ova or bears young"34 and male is "the sex that has organs to produce spermatozoa for
fertilizing ova."35 Thus, the words "male" and "female" in everyday understanding do not include
persons who have undergone sex reassignment. Furthermore, "words that are employed in a statute
which had at the time a well-known meaning are presumed to have been used in that sense unless
the context compels to the contrary."36 Since the statutory language of the Civil Register Law was
enacted in the early 1900s and remains unchanged, it cannot be argued that the term "sex" as used
then is something alterable through surgery or something that allows a post-operative male-to-female
transsexual to be included in the category "female."

For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in altering his body and appearance through
the intervention of modern surgery, no law authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry
for that reason. Thus, there is no legal basis for his petition for the correction or change of the entries
in his birth certificate.

Neither May Entries in the Birth Certificate As to First Name or Sex Be Changed on the Ground
of Equity

The trial court opined that its grant of the petition was in consonance with the principles of justice and
equity. It believed that allowing the petition would cause no harm, injury or prejudice to anyone. This
is wrong.

The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wide-ranging legal and public policy
consequences. First, even the trial court itself found that the petition was but petitioners first step
towards his eventual marriage to his male fianc. However, marriage, one of the most sacred social
institutions, is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman.37 One of its
essential requisites is the legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a
female.38 To grant the changes sought by petitioner will substantially reconfigure and greatly alter the
laws on marriage and family relations. It will allow the union of a man with another man who has
undergone sex reassignment (a male-to-female post-operative transsexual). Second, there are
various laws which apply particularly to women such as the provisions of the Labor Code on
employment of women,39 certain felonies under the Revised Penal Code40 and the presumption of
survivorship in case of calamities under Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, 41 among others. These laws
underscore the public policy in relation to women which could be substantially affected if petitioners
petition were to be granted.

It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that "[n]o judge or court shall decline to render
judgment by reason of the silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the law." However, it is not a license
for courts to engage in judicial legislation. The duty of the courts is to apply or interpret the law, not to
make or amend it.

In our system of government, it is for the legislature, should it choose to do so, to determine what
guidelines should govern the recognition of the effects of sex reassignment. The need for legislative
guidelines becomes particularly important in this case where the claims asserted are statute-based.

To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions for change of first name and for correction or
change of entries in the civil registry, where they may be filed, what grounds may be invoked, what
proof must be presented and what procedures shall be observed. If the legislature intends to confer
on a person who has undergone sex reassignment the privilege to change his name and sex to
conform with his reassigned sex, it has to enact legislation laying down the guidelines in turn
governing the conferment of that privilege.

It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write a protocol on when a person may be
recognized as having successfully changed his sex. However, this Court has no authority to fashion a
law on that matter, or on anything else. The Court cannot enact a law where no law exists. It can only
apply or interpret the written word of its co-equal branch of government, Congress.

Petitioner pleads that "[t]he unfortunates are also entitled to a life of happiness, contentment and [the]
realization of their dreams." No argument about that. The Court recognizes that there are people
whose preferences and orientation do not fit neatly into the commonly recognized parameters of
social convention and that, at least for them, life is indeed an ordeal. However, the remedies
petitioner seeks involve questions of public policy to be addressed solely by the legislature, not by the
courts.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, C.J., Chairperson, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Azcuna, Garcia, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1Petitioner went for his elementary and high school, as well as his Bachelor of Science in
Statistics and Master of Arts, in the University of the Philippines. He took up Population
Studies Program, Master of Arts in Sociology and Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology at the
University of Hawaii, in Manoa, Hawaii, U.S.A. Rollo, p. 48.

2 This consisted of "penectomy [surgical removal of penis] bilateral oschiectomy [or


orchiectomy which is the surgical excision of the testes] penile skin inversion vaginoplasty
[plastic surgery of the vagina] clitoral hood reconstruction and augmentation mammoplasty
[surgical enhancement of the size and shape of the breasts]." Id.
3 On January 23, 2003, January 30, 2003 and February 6, 2003.
4 Penned by Judge Felixberto T. Olalia, Jr. Rollo, pp. 51-53.

5 Id., pp. 52-53 (citations omitted).


6 Docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 78824.
7 Special Sixth Division.
8Penned by Associate Justice Arcangelita M. Romilla-Lontok with Associate Justices Marina
L. Buzon and Aurora Santiago-Lagman concurring. Rollo, pp. 25-33.

9 Resolution dated September 14, 2006, id., pp. 45-46.


10An Act Authorizing the City or Municipal Civil Registrar or the Consul General to Correct a
Clerical or Typographical Error in an Entry and/or Change of First Name or Nickname in the
Civil Register Without Need of a Judicial Order, Amending for the Purpose Articles 376 and
412 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
11 Wang v. Cebu City Civil Registrar, G.R. No. 159966, 30 March 2005, 454 SCRA 155.

12 Id.
13 K v. Health Division, Department of Human Resources, 277 Or. 371, 560 P.2d 1070 (1977).

14Under Section 2 (6) of RA 9048, "first name" refers to a name or nickname given to a person
which may consist of one or more names in addition to the middle names and last names.
Thus, the term "first name" will be used here to refer both to first name and nickname.
15 The last paragraph of Section 7 of RA 9048 provides:

SECTION 7. Duties and Powers of the Civil Registrar General. xxx xxx xxx

Where the petition is denied by the city or municipal civil registrar or the consul general,
the petitioner may either appeal the decision to the civil registrar general or file the
appropriate petition with the proper court.
16 SECTION 3. Who May File the Petition and Where. Any person having direct and personal
interest in the correction of a clerical or typographical error in an entry and/or change of first
name or nickname in the civil register may file, in person, a verified petition with the local civil
registry office of the city or municipality where the record being sought to be corrected or
changed is kept.

In case the petitioner has already migrated to another place in the country and it would not be
practical for such party, in terms of transportation expenses, time and effort to appear in
person before the local civil registrar keeping the documents to be corrected or changed, the
petition may be filed, in person, with the local civil registrar of the place where the interested
party is presently residing or domiciled. The two (2) local civil registrars concerned will then
communicate to facilitate the processing of the petition.

Citizens of the Philippines who are presently residing or domiciled in foreign countries may file
their petition, in person, with the nearest Philippine Consulates.

The petitions filed with the city or municipal civil registrar or the consul general shall be
processed in accordance with this Act and its implementing rules and regulations.

All petitions for the clerical or typographical errors and/or change of first names or nicknames
may be availed of only once.
17 SECTION 5. Form and Contents of the Petition. The petition shall be in the form of an
affidavit, subscribed and sworn to before any person authorized by the law to administer oaths.
The affidavit shall set forth facts necessary to establish the merits of the petition and shall
show affirmatively that the petitioner is competent to testify to the matters stated. The petitioner
shall state the particular erroneous entry or entries, which are sought to be corrected and/or
the change sought to be made.

The petition shall be supported with the following documents:

(1) A certified true machine copy of the certificate or of the page of the registry book
containing the entry or entries sought to be corrected or changed;

(2) At least two (2) public or private documents showing the correct entry or entries
upon which the correction or change shall be based; and

(3) Other documents which the petitioner or the city or municipal civil registrar or the
consul general may consider relevant and necessary for the approval of the petition.

In case of change of first name or nickname, the petition shall likewise be supported with the
documents mentioned in the immediately preceding paragraph. In addition, the petition shall
be published at least once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general
circulation. Furthermore, the petitioner shall submit a certification from the appropriate law
enforcement agencies that he has no pending case or no criminal record.
18 Republic v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 97906, 21 May 1992, 209 SCRA 189.
19 Supra note 11.

20 Id.
21 In re Ladrach, 32 Ohio Misc.2d 6, 513 N.E.2d 828 (1987).
22 Lee v. Court of Appeals, 419 Phil. 392 (2001).

23 Id.
24 Co v. Civil Register of Manila, G.R. No. 138496, 23 February 2004, 423 SCRA 420.

25
Id.
26 Id.
27 Beduya v. Republic of the Philippines, 120 Phil. 114 (1964).

28 Salonga, Jovito, Private International Law, 1995 Edition, Rex Bookstore, p. 238.
29 This, of course, should be taken in conjunction with Articles 407 and 412 of the Civil Code
which authorizes the recording of acts, events and judicial decrees or the correction or change
of errors including those that occur after birth. Nonetheless, in such cases, the entries in the
certificates of birth are not be corrected or changed. The decision of the court granting the
petition shall be annotated in the certificates of birth and shall form part of the civil register in
the Office of the Local Civil Registrar. (Co v. Civil Register of Manila, supra note 24)

30 The error pertains to one where the birth attendant writes "male" or "female" but the genitals
of the child are that of the opposite sex.
31Moreover, petitioners female anatomy is all man-made. The body that he inhabits is a male
body in all aspects other than what the physicians have supplied.
32 Blacks Law Dictionary, 8th edition (2004), p.1406.
33 Words and Phrases, volume 39, Permanent Edition, p. 106.
34In re Application for Marriage License for Nash, 2003-Ohio-7221 (No. 2002-T-0149, slip op.,
Not Reported in N.E.2d, 2003 WL 23097095 (Ohio App. 11 Dist., December 31, 2003), citing
Websters II New College Dictionary (1999).
35 Id.
36
Standard Oil Co. v. United States, 221 U.S. 1 (1911), 31 S.Ct. 502, 55 L.Ed. 619.
37
Article 1, Family Code.
38
Article 2(1), Id.
39These are Articles 130 to 138 of the Labor Code which include nightwork prohibition,
facilities for women, prohibition on discrimination and stipulation against marriage, among
others.
40These include Article 333 on adultery, Articles 337 to 339 on qualified seduction, simple
seduction and acts of lasciviousness with the consent of the offended party and Articles 342
and 343 on forcible and consented abduction, among others.
41
Section 3(jj)(4).
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.M. No. MTJ-92-721 September 30, 1994

JUVY N. COSCA, EDMUNDO B. PERALTA, RAMON C. SAMBO, and APOLLO A.


VILLAMORA, complainants,
vs.
HON. LUCIO P. PALAYPAYON, JR., Presiding Judge, and NELIA B. ESMERALDA-BAROY, Clerk of
Court II, both of the Municipal Trial Court of Tinambac, Camarines Sur, respondents.

Esteban R. Abonal for complainants.

Haide B. Vista-Gumba for respondents.

PER CURIAM, J.:

Complainants Juvy N. Cosca, Edmundo B. Peralta, Ramon C. Sambo, and Apollo Villamora, are
Stenographer I, Interpreter I, Clerk II, and Process Server, respectively, of the Municipal Trial Court of
Tinambac, Camarines Sur. Respondents Judge Lucio P. Palaypayon, Jr. and Nelia B. Esmeralda-
Baroy are respectively the Presiding Judge and Clerk of Court II of the same court.
In an administrative complaint filed with the Office of the Court Administrator on October 5, 1992,
herein respondents were charged with the following offenses, to wit: (1) illegal solemnization of
marriage; (2) falsification of the monthly reports of cases; (3) bribery in consideration of an
appointment in the court; (4) non-issuance of receipt for cash bond received; (5) infidelity in the
custody of detained prisoners; and (6) requiring payment of filing fees from exempted entities. 1

Pursuant to a resolution issued by this Court respondents filed their respective Comments. 2 A Reply
to Answers of Respondents was filed by complainants. 3 The case was thereafter referred to
Executive Judge David C. Naval of the Regional Trial Court, Naga City, for investigation report and
recommendation. The case was however transferred to First Assistant Executive Judge Antonio N.
Gerona when Judge Naval inhibited himself for the reason that his wife is a cousin of respondent
Judge Palaypayon, Jr. 4

The contending versions of the parties regarding the factual antecedents of this administrative matter,
as culled from the records thereof, are set out under each particular charge against respondents.

1. Illegal solemnization of marriage

Complainants allege that respondent judge solemnized marriages even without the requisite marriage
license. Thus, the following couples were able to get married by the simple expedient of paying the
marriage fees to respondent Baroy, despite the absence of a marriage license, viz.: Alano P.
Abellano and Nelly Edralin, Francisco Selpo and Julieta Carrido, Eddie Terrobias and Maria Gacer,
Renato Gamay and Maricris Belga, Arsenio Sabater and Margarita Nacario, and Sammy Bocaya and
Gina Bismonte. As a consequence, their marriage contracts (Exhibits B, C, D, F, G, and A,
respectively) did not reflect any marriage license number. In addition, respondent judge did not sign
their marriage contracts and did not indicate the date of solemnization, the reason being that he
allegedly had to wait for the marriage license to be submitted by the parties which was usually several
days after the ceremony. Indubitably, the marriage contracts were not filed with the local civil
registrar. Complainant Ramon Sambo, who prepares the marriage contracts, called the attention of
respondents to the lack of marriage licenses and its effect on the marriages involved, but the latter
opted to proceed with the celebration of said marriages.

Respondent Nelia Baroy claims that when she was appointed Clerk of Court II, the employees of the
court were already hostile to her, especially complainant Ramon Sambo who told her that he was
filing a protest against her appointment. She avers that it was only lately when she discovered that
the court had a marriage Register which is in the custody of Sambo; that it was Sambo who failed to
furnish the parties copies of the marriage contract and to register these with the local civil registrar;
and that apparently Sambo kept these marriage contracts in preparation for this administrative case.
Complainant Sambo, however, claims that all file copies of the marriage contracts were kept by
respondent Baroy, but the latter insists that she had instructed Sambo to follow up the submission by
the contracting parties of their marriage licenses as part of his duties but he failed to do so.

Respondent Judge Palaypayon, Jr. contends that the marriage between Alano P. Abellano and Nelly
Edralin falls under Article 34 of the Civil Code, hence it is exempt from the marriage license
requirement; that he gave strict instructions to complainant Sambo to furnish the couple a copy of the
marriage contract and to file the same with the civil registrar, but the latter failed to do so; that in order
to solve the problem, the spouses subsequently formalized their marriage by securing a marriage
license and executing their marriage contract, a copy of which was filed with the civil registrar; that
the other five marriages alluded to in the administrative complaint were not illegally solemnized
because the marriage contracts were not signed by him and they did not contain the date and place
of marriage; that copies of these marriage contracts are in the custody of complainant Sambo; that
the alleged marriage of Francisco Selpo and Julieta Carrido, Eddie Terrobias and Maria Emma Gaor,
Renato Gamay and Maricris Belga, and of Arsenio Sabater and Margarita Nacario were not
celebrated by him since he refused to solemnize them in the absence of a marriage license; that the
marriage of Samy Bocaya and Gina Bismonte was celebrated even without the requisite license due
to the insistence of the parties in order to avoid embarrassment to their guests but that, at any rate,
he did not sign their marriage contract which remains unsigned up to the present.

2. Falsification of monthly report for July, 1991 regarding the number of marriages
solemnized and the number of documents notarized.

It is alleged that respondent judge made it appear that he solemnized seven (7) marriages in the
month of July, 1992, when in truth he did not do so or at most those marriages were null and void;
that respondents likewise made it appear that they have notarized only six (6) documents for July,
1992, but the Notarial Register will show that there were one hundred thirteen (113) documents which
were notarized during that month; and that respondents reported a notarial fee of only P18.50 for
each document, although in fact they collected P20.00 therefor and failed to account for the
difference.

Respondent Baroy contends, however, that the marriage registry where all marriages celebrated by
respondent judge are entered is under the exclusive control and custody of complainant Ramon
Sambo, hence he is the only one who should be held responsible for the entries made therein; that
the reported marriages are merely based on the payments made as solemnization fees which are in
the custody of respondent Baroy. She further avers that it is Sambo who is likewise the custodian of
the Notarial Register; that she cannot be held accountable for whatever alleged difference there is in
the notarial fees because she is liable only for those payments tendered to her by Sambo himself;
that the notarial fees she collects are duly covered by receipts; that of the P20.00 charged, P18.50 is
remitted directly to the Supreme Court as part of the Judiciary Development Fund and P150 goes to
the general fund of the Supreme Court which is paid to the Municipal Treasurer of Tinambac,
Camarines Sur. Respondent theorizes that the discrepancies in the monthly report were manipulated
by complainant Sambo considering that he is the one in charge of the preparation of the monthly
report.

Respondent Judge Palaypayon avers that the erroneous number of marriages celebrated was
intentionally placed by complainant Sambo; that the number of marriages solemnized should not be
based on solemnization fees paid for that month since not all the marriages paid for are solemnized in
the same month. He claims that there were actually only six (6) documents notarized in the month of
July, 1992 which tallied with the official receipts issued by the clerk of court; that it is Sambo who
should be held accountable for any unreceipted payment for notarial fees because he is the one in
charge of the Notarial Register; and that this case filed by complainant Sambo is merely in retaliation
for his failure to be appointed as the clerk of court. Furthermore, respondent judge contends that he is
not the one supervising or preparing the monthly report, and that he merely has the ministerial duty to
sign the same.

3. Bribery in consideration of an appointment in the court

Complainants allege that because of the retirement of the clerk of court, respondent judge forwarded
to the Supreme Court the applications of Rodel Abogado, Ramon Sambo, and Jessell Abiog.
However, they were surprised when respondent Baroy reported for duty as clerk of court on October
21, 1991. They later found out that respondent Baroy was the one appointed because she gave a
brand-new air-conditioning unit to respondent judge.

Respondent Baroy claims that when she was still in Naga City she purchased an air-conditioning unit
but when she was appointed clerk of court she had to transfer to Tinambac and, since she no longer
needed the air conditioner, she decided to sell the same to respondent judge. The installation and
use thereof by the latter in his office was with the consent of the Mayor of Tinambac.

Respondent judge contends that he endorsed all the applications for the position of clerk of court to
the Supreme Court which has the sole authority over such appointments and that he had no hand in
the appointment of respondent Baroy. He contends that the air-conditioning unit was bought from his
co-respondent on installment basis on May 29, 1992, eight (8) months after Baroy had been
appointed clerk of court. He claims that he would not be that naive to exhibit to the public as item
which could not be defended as a matter of honor and prestige.

4. Cash bond issued without a receipt

It is alleged that in Criminal Case No. 5438, entitled "People vs. Mendeza, et al., "bondswoman
Januaria Dacara was allowed by respondent judge to change her property bond to cash bond; that
she paid the amount of P1,000.00 but was never issued a receipt therefor nor was it made to appear
in the records that the bond has been paid; that despite the lapse of two years, the money was never
returned to the bondswoman; and that it has not been shown that the money was turned over to the
Municipal Treasurer of Tinambac.

Respondent Baroy counters that the cash bond was deposited with the former clerk of court, then
turned over to the acting clerk of court and, later, given to her under a corresponding receipt; that the
cash bond is deposited with the bank; and that should the bondswoman desire to withdraw the same,
she should follow the proper procedure therefor.

Respondent judge contends that Criminal Case No. 5438 was archieved for failure of the bondsman
to deliver the body of the accused in court despite notice; and that he has nothing to do with the
payment of the cash bond as this is the duty of the clerk of court.

5. Infidelity in the custody of prisoners

Complainants contend that respondent judge usually got detention prisoners to work in his house,
one of whom was Alex Alano, who is accused in Criminal Case No. 5647 for violation of the
Dangerous Drugs Act; that while Alano was in the custody of respondent judge, the former escaped
and was never recaptured; that in order to conceal this fact, the case was archived pursuant to an
order issued by respondent judge dated April 6, 1992.

Respondent judge denied the accusation and claims that he never employed detention prisoners and
that he has adequate household help; and that he had to order the case archived because it had
been pending for more than six (6) months and the accused therein remained at large.

6. Unlawful collection of docket fees

Finally, respondents are charged with collecting docket fees from the Rural Bank of Tinambac,
Camarines Sur, Inc. although such entity is exempt by law from the payment of said fees, and that
while the corresponding receipt was issued, respondent Baroy failed to remit the amount to the
Supreme Court and, instead, she deposited the same in her personal account.

Respondents Baroy contends that it was Judge-Designate Felimon Montenegro (because respondent
judge was on sick leave) who instructed her to demand payment of docket fees from said rural bank;
that the bank issued a check for P800.00; that she was not allowed by the Philippine National Bank to
encash the check and, instead, was instructed to deposit the same in any bank account for clearing;
that respondent deposited the same in her account; and that after the check was cleared, she
remitted P400.00 to the Supreme Court and the other P400.00 was paid to the Municipal Treasurer of
Tinambac.

On the basis of the foregoing contentions, First Vice-Executive Judge Antonio N. Gerona prepared
and submitted to us his Report and Recommendations dated May 20, 1994, together with the
administrative matter. We have perspicaciously reviewed the same and we are favorably impressed
by the thorough and exhaustive presentation and analysis of the facts and evidence in said report.
We commend the investigating judge for his industry and perspicacity reflected by his findings in said
report which, being amply substantiated by the evidence and supported by logical illations, we hereby
approve and hereunder reproduce at length the material portions thereof.

xxx xxx xxx

The first charge against the respondents is illegal solemnization of marriage. Judge
Palaypayon is charged with having solemnized without a marriage license the marriage
of Sammy Bocaya and Gina Besmonte (Exh. A). Alano Abellano and Nelly Edralin (Exh.
B), Francisco Selpo and Julieta Carrido (Exh. C), Eddie Terrobias and Maria Emma
Gaor (Exh. D), Renato Gamay and Maricris Belga (Exh. F) and Arsenio Sabater and
Margarita Nacario (Exh. G).

In all these aforementioned marriages, the blank space in the marriage contracts to
show the number of the marriage was solemnized as required by Article 22 of the
Family Code were not filled up. While the contracting parties and their witnesses signed
their marriage contracts, Judge Palaypayon did not affix his signature in the marriage
contracts, except that of Abellano and Edralin when Judge Palaypayon signed their
marriage certificate as he claims that he solemnized this marriage under Article 34 of
the Family Code of the Philippines. In said marriages the contracting parties were not
furnished a copy of their marriage contract and the Local Civil Registrar was not sent
either a copy of the marriage certificate as required by Article 23 of the Family Code.

The marriage of Bocaya and Besmonte is shown to have been solemnized by Judge
Palaypayon without a marriage license. The testimonies of Bocay himself and Pompeo
Ariola, one of the witnesses of the marriage of Bocaya and Besmonte, and the
photographs taken when Judge Palaypayon solemnized their marriage (Exhs. K-3 to K-
9) sufficiently show that Judge Palaypayon really solemnized their marriage. Bocaya
declared that they were advised by Judge Palaypayon to return after ten (10) days after
their marriage was solemnized and bring with them their marriage license. In the
meantime, they already started living together as husband and wife believing that the
formal requisites of marriage were complied with.

Judge Palaypayon denied that he solemnized the marriage of Bocaya and Besmonte
because the parties allegedly did not have a marriage license. He declared that in fact
he did not sign the marriage certificate, there was no date stated on it and both the
parties and the Local Civil Registrar did not have a copy of the marriage certificate.

With respect to the photographs which show that he solemnized the marriage of Bocaya
and Besmonte, Judge Palaypayon explains that they merely show as if he was
solemnizing the marriage. It was actually a simulated solemnization of marriage and not
a real one. This happened because of the pleading of the mother of one of the
contracting parties that he consent to be photographed to show that as if he was
solemnizing the marriage as he was told that the food for the wedding reception was
already prepared, visitors were already invited and the place of the parties where the
reception would be held was more than twenty (20) kilometers away from the poblacion
of Tinambac.

The denial made by Judge Palaypayon is difficult to believe. The fact alone that he did
not sign the marriage certificate or contract, the same did not bear a date and the
parties and the Local Civil Registrar were not furnished a copy of the marriage
certificate, do not by themselves show that he did not solemnize the marriage. His
uncorroborated testimony cannot prevail over the testimony of Bocaya and Ariola who
also declared, among others, that Bocaya and his bride were advised by Judge
Palaypayon to return after ten (10) days with their marriage license and whose
credibility had not been impeached.

The pictures taken also from the start of the wedding ceremony up to the signing of the
marriage certificate in front of Judge Palaypayon and on his table (Exhs. K-3, K-3-a, K-
3-b, K-3-c, K-4, K-4-a, K-4-b, K-4-c,
K-4-d, K-5, K-5-a, K-5-b, K-6, K-7, K-8, K-8-a and K-9), cannot possibly be just to show
a simulated solemnization of marriage. One or two pictures may convince a person of
the explanation of Judge Palaypayon, but not all those pictures.

Besides, as a judge it is very difficult to believe that Judge Palaypayon would allows
himself to be photographed as if he was solemnizing a marriage on a mere pleading of
a person whom he did not even know for the alleged reasons given. It would be highly
improper and unbecoming of him to allow himself to be used as an instrument of deceit
by making it appear that Bocaya and Besmonte were married by him when in truth and
in fact he did not solemnize their marriage.

With respect to the marriage of Abellano and Edralin (Exh. B), Judge Palaypayon
admitted that he solemnized their marriage, but he claims that it was under Article 34 of
the Family Code, so a marriage license was not required. The contracting parties here
executed a joint affidavit that they have been living together as husband and wife for
almost six (6) years already (Exh. 12; Exh. AA).

In their marriage contract which did not bear any date either when it was solemnized, it
was stated that Abellano was only eighteen (18) years, two (2) months and seven (7)
days old. If he and Edralin had been living together as husband and wife for almost six
(6) years already before they got married as they stated in their joint affidavit, Abellano
must ha(ve) been less than thirteen (13) years old when he started living with Edralin as
his wife and this is hard to believe. Judge Palaypayon should ha(ve) been aware of this
when he solemnized their marriage as it was his duty to ascertain the qualification of the
contracting parties who might ha(ve) executed a false joint affidavit in order to have an
instant marriage by avoiding the marriage license requirement.

On May 23, 1992, however, after this case was already filed, Judge Palaypayon married
again Abellano and Edralin, this time with a marriage license (Exh. BB). The explanation
given by Judge Palaypayon why he solemnized the marriage of the same couple for the
second time is that he did not consider the first marriage he solemnized under Article 34
of the Family Code as (a) marriage at all because complainant Ramon Sambo did not
follow his instruction that the date should be placed in the marriage certificate to show
when he solemnized the marriage and that the contracting parties were not furnished a
copy of their marriage certificate.
This act of Judge Palaypayon of solemnizing the marriage of Abellano and Edralin for
the second time with a marriage license already only gave rise to the suspicion that the
first time he solemnized the marriage it was only made to appear that it was solemnized
under exceptional character as there was not marriage license and Judge Palaypayon
had already signed the marriage certificate. If it was true that he solemnized the first
marriage under exceptional character where a marriage license was not required, why
did he already require the parties to have a marriage license when he solemnized their
marriage for the second time?

The explanation of Judge Palaypayon that the first marriage of Abellano and Edralin
was not a marriage at all as the marriage certificate did not state the date when the
marriage was solemnized and that the contracting parties were not furnished a copy of
their marriage certificate, is not well taken as they are not any of those grounds under
Article(s) 35, 36, 37 and 38 of the Family Code which declare a marriage void from the
beginning. Even if no one, however, received a copy of the marriage certificate, the
marriage is still valid (Jones vs. H(o)rtiguela, 64 Phil. 179). Judge Palaypayon cannot
just absolve himself from responsibility by blaming his personnel. They are not the
guardian(s) of his official function and under Article 23 of the Family Code it is his duty
to furnish the contracting parties (a) copy of their marriage contract.

With respect to the marriage of Francisco Selpo and Julieta Carrido (Exh. C), and
Arsenio Sabater and Margarita Nacario (Exh. G), Selpo and Carrido and Sabater and
Nacarcio executed joint affidavits that Judge Palaypayon did not solemnize their
marriage (Exh. 13-A and Exh. 1). Both Carrido and Nacario testified for the respondents
that actually Judge Palaypayon did not solemnize their marriage as they did not have a
marriage license. On cross-examination, however, both admitted that they did not know
who prepared their affidavits. They were just told, Carrido by a certain Charito
Palaypayon, and Nacario by a certain Kagawad Encinas, to just go to the Municipal
building and sign their joint affidavits there which were already prepared before the
Municipal Mayor of Tinambac, Camarines Sur.

With respect to the marriage of Renato Gamay and Maricris Belga (Exh. f), their
marriage contract was signed by them and by their two (2) witnesses, Atty. Elmer Brioso
and respondent Baroy (Exhs. F-1 and F-2). Like the other aforementioned marriages,
the solemnization fee was also paid as shown by a receipt dated June 7, 1992 and
signed by respondent Baroy (Exh. F-4).

Judge Palaypayon also denied having solemnized the marriage of Gamay and Belga
allegedly because there was no marriage license. On her part, respondent Baroy at first
denied that the marriage was solemnized. When she was asked, however, why did she
sign the marriage contract as a witness she answered that she thought the marriage
was already solemnized (TSN, p. 14; 10-28-93).

Respondent Baroy was, and is, the clerk of court of Judge Palaypayon. She signed the
marriage contract of Gamay and Belga as one of the two principal sponsors. Yet, she
wanted to give the impression that she did not even know that the marriage was
solemnized by Judge Palaypayon. This is found very difficult to believe.

Judge Palaypayon made the same denial of having solemnized also the marriage of
Terrobias and Gaor (Exh. D). The contracting parties and their witnesses also signed
the marriage contract and paid the solemnization fee, but Judge Palaypayon allegedly
did not solemnize their marriage due to lack of marriage license. Judge Palaypayon
submitted the affidavit of William Medina, Vice-Mayor of Tinambac, to corroborate his
testimony (Exh. 14). Medina, however, did not testify in this case and so his affidavit has
no probative value.

Judge Palaypayon testified that his procedure and practice have been that before the
contracting parties and their witnesses enter his chamber in order to get married, he
already required complainant Ramon Sambo to whom he assigned the task of preparing
the marriage contract, to already let the parties and their witnesses sign their marriage
contracts, as what happened to Gamay and Belga, and Terrobias and Gaor, among
others. His purpose was to save his precious time as he has been solemnizing
marriages at the rate of three (3) to four (4) times everyday (TSN, p. 12;
2-1-94).

This alleged practice and procedure, if true, is highly improper and irregular, if not
illegal, because the contracting parties are supposed to be first asked by the
solemnizing officer and declare that they take each other as husband and wife before
the solemnizing officer in the presence of at least two (2) witnesses before they are
supposed to sign their marriage contracts (Art. 6, Family Code).

The uncorroborated testimony, however, of Judge Palaypayon as to his alleged practice


and procedure before solemnizing a marriage, is not true as shown by the picture taken
during the wedding of Bocaya and Besmonte (Exhs. K-3 to K-9) and by the testimony of
respondent Baroy herself who declared that the practice of Judge Palaypayon ha(s)
been to let the contracting parties and their witnesses sign the marriage contract only
after Judge Palaypayon has solemnized their marriage (TSN, p. 53;
10-28-93).

Judge Palaypayon did not present any evidence to show also that he was really
solemnizing three (3) to four (4) marriages everyday. On the contrary his monthly report
of cases for July, 1992 shows that his court had only twenty-seven (27) pending cases
and he solemnized only seven (7) marriages for the whole month (Exh. E). His monthly
report of cases for September, 1992 shows also that he solemnized only four (4)
marriages during the whole month (Exh. 7).

In this first charge of having illegally solemnized marriages, respondent Judge


Palaypayon has presented and marked in evidence several marriage contracts of other
persons, affidavits of persons and certification issued by the Local Civil Registrar (Exhs.
12-B to 12-H). These persons who executed affidavits, however, did not testify in this
case. Besides, the marriage contracts and certification mentioned are immaterial as
Judge Palaypayon is not charged of having solemnized these marriages illegally also.
He is not charged that the marriages he solemnized were all illegal.

The second charge against herein respondents, that of having falsified the monthly
report of cases submitted to the Supreme Court and not stating in the monthly report the
actual number of documents notarized and issuing the corresponding receipts of the
notarial fees, have been sufficiently proven by the complainants insofar as the monthly
report of cases for July and September, 1992 are concerned.

The monthly report of cases of the MTC of Tinambac, Camarines Sur for July, 1992
both signed by the respondents, show that for said month there were six (6) documents
notarized by Judge Palaypayon in his capacity as Ex-Officio Notary Public (Exhs. H to
H-1-b). The notarial register of the MTC of Tinambac, Camarines Sur, however, shows
that there were actually one hundred thirteen (113) documents notarized by Judge
Palaypayon for the said month (Exhs. Q to Q-45).

Judge Palaypayon claims that there was no falsification of the monthly report of cases
for July, 1992 because there were only six (6) notarized documents that were paid (for)
as shown by official receipts. He did not, however, present evidence of the alleged
official receipts showing that the notarial fee for the six (6) documetns were paid.
Besides, the monthly report of cases with respect to the number of documents notarized
should not be based on how many notarized documents were paid of the notarial fees,
but the number of documents placed or recorded in the notarial register.

Judge Palaypayon admitted that he was not personally verifying and checking anymore
the correctness of the monthly reports because he relies on his co-respondent who is
the Clerk of Court and whom he has assumed to have checked and verified the records.
He merely signs the monthly report when it is already signed by respondent Baroy.

The explanation of Judge Palaypayon is not well taken because he is required to have
close supervision in the preparation of the monthly report of cases of which he certifies
as to their correctness. As a judge he is personally responsible for the proper discharge
of his functions (The Phil. Trial Lawyer's Asso. Inc. vs. Agana, Sr., 102 SCRA 517). In
Nidera vs. Lazaro, 174 SCRA 581, it was held that "A judge cannot take refuge behind
the inefficiency or mismanagement of his court personnel."

On the part of respondent Baroy, she puts the blame of the falsification of the monthly
report of cases on complainant Sambo whom she allegedly assigned to prepare not
only the monthly report of cases, but the preparation and custody of marriage contracts,
notarized documents and the notarial register. By her own admission she has assigned
to complainant Sambo duties she was supposed to perform, yet according to her she
never bother(ed) to check the notarial register of the court to find out the number of
documents notarized in a month (TSN, p. 30; 11-23-93).

Assuming that respondent Baroy assigned the preparation of the monthly report of
cases to Sambo, which was denied by the latter as he claims that he only typed the
monthly report based on the data given to him by her, still it is her duty to verify and
check whether the report is correct.

The explanation of respondent Baroy that Sambo was the one in custody of marriage
contracts, notarized documents and notarial register, among other things, is not
acceptable not only because as clerk of court she was supposed to be in custody,
control and supervision of all court records including documents and other properties of
the court (p. 32, Manual for Clerks of Court), but she herself admitted that from January,
1992 she was already in full control of all the records of the court including receipts
(TSN, p. 11; 11-23-93).

The evidence adduced in this cases in connection with the charge of falsification,
however, also shows that respondent Baroy did not account for what happened to the
notarial fees received for those documents notarized during the month of July and
September, 1992. The evidence adduced in this case also sufficiently show that she
received cash bond deposits and she did not deposit them to a bank or to the Municipal
Treasurer; and that she only issued temporary receipts for said cash bond deposits.
For July, 1992 there were only six (6) documents reported to have been notarized by
Judge Palaypayon although the documents notarized for said month were actually one
hundred thirteen (113) as recorded in the notarial register. For September, 1992, there
were only five (5) documents reported as notarized for that month, though the notarial
register show(s) that there were fifty-six (56) documents actually notarized. The fee for
each document notarized as appearing in the notarial register was P18.50. Respondent
Baroy and Sambo declared that what was actually being charged was P20.00.
Respondent Baroy declared that P18.50 went to the Supreme Court and P1.50 was
being turned over to the Municipal Treasurer.

Baroy, however, did not present any evidence to show that she really sent to the
Supreme Court the notarial fees of P18.50 for each document notarized and to the
Municipal Treasurer the additional notarial fee of P1.50. This should be fully accounted
for considering that Baroy herself declared that some notarial fees were allowed by her
at her own discretion to be paid later. Similarly, the solemnization fees have not been
accounted for by Baroy considering that she admitted that even (i)n those instances
where the marriages were not solemnized due to lack of marriage license the
solemnization fees were not returned anymore, unless the contracting parties made a
demand for their return. Judge Palaypayon declared that he did not know of any
instance when solemnization fee was returned when the marriage was not solemnized
due to lack of marriage license.

Respondent Baroy also claims that Ramon Sambo did not turn over to her some of the
notarial fees. This is difficult to believe. It was not only because Sambo vehemently
denied it, but the minutes of the conference of the personnel of the MTC of Tinambac
dated January 20, 1992 shows that on that date Baroy informed the personnel of the
court that she was taking over the functions she assigned to Sambo, particularly the
collection of legal fees (Exh. 7). The notarial fees she claims that Sambo did not turn
over to her were for those documents notarized (i)n July and September, 1992 already.
Besides there never was any demand she made for Sambo to turn over some notarial
fees supposedly in his possession. Neither was there any memorandum she issued on
this matter, in spite of the fact that she has been holding meetings and issuing
memoranda to the personnel of the court (Exhs. V, W, FF, FF-1, FF-2, FF-3; Exhs. 4-A
(supplement(s), 5-8, 6-S, 7-S and 8-S).

It is admitted by respondent Baroy that on October 29, 1991 a cash bond deposit of a
certain Dacara in the amount of One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos was turned over to
her after she assumed office and for this cash bond she issued only a temporary receipt
(Exh. Y). She did not deposit this cash bond in any bank or to the Municipal Treasurer.
She just kept it in her own cash box on the alleged ground that the parties in that case
where the cash bond was deposited informed her that they would settle the case
amicably.

Respondent Baroy declared that she finally deposited the aforementioned cash bond of
One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in
February, 1993, after this administrative case was already filed (TSN, pp. 27-28; 12-22-
93). The Pass Book, however, shows that actually Baroy opened an account with the
LBP, Naga Branch, only on March 26, 1993 when she deposited an amount of Two
Thousand (P2,000.00) Pesos (Exhs. 8 to 8-1-a). She claims that One Thousand
(P1,000.000) Pesos of the initial deposit was the cash bond of Dacara. If it were true, it
was only after keeping to herself the cash bond of One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos for
around one year and five months when she finally deposited it because of the filing of
this case.

On April 29, 1993, or only one month and two days after she finally deposited the One
Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos cash bond of Dacara, she withdrew it from the bank
without any authority or order from the court. It was only on July 23, 1993, or after
almost three (3) months after she withdrew it, when she redeposited said cash bond
(TSN, p. 6; 1-4-94).

The evidence presented in this case also show that on February 28, 1993 respondent
Baroy received also a cash bond of Three Thousand (P3,000.00) Pesos from a certain
Alfredo Seprones in Crim. Case No. 5180. For this cash bond deposit, respondent
Baroy issued only an annumbered temporary receipt (Exh. X and X-1). Again Baroy just
kept this Three Thousand (P3,000.00) Pesos cash bond to herself. She did not deposit
it either (in) a bank or (with) the Municipal Treasurer. Her explanation was that the
parties in Crim. Case No. 5180 informed her that they would settle the case amicably. It
was on April 26, 1993, or almost two months later when Judge Palaypayon issued an
order for the release of said cash bond (Exh. 7).

Respondent Baroy also admitted that since she assumed office on October 21, 1991
she used to issue temporary receipt only for cash bond deposits and other payments
and collections she received. She further admitted that some of these temporary
receipts she issued she failed to place the number of the receipts such as that receipt
marked Exhibit X (TSN, p. 35; 11-23-93). Baroy claims that she did not know that she
had to use the official receipts of the Supreme Court. It was only from February, 1993,
after this case was already filed, when she only started issuing official receipts.

The next charge against the respondents is that in order to be appointed Clerk of Court,
Baroy gave Judge Palaypayon an air conditioner as a gift. The evidence adduced with
respect to this charge, show that on August 24, 1991 Baroy bought an air conditioner for
the sum of Seventeen Thousand Six Hundred (P17,600.00) Pesos (Exhs. I and I-1).
The same was paid partly in cash and in check (Exhs. I-2 and I-3). When the air
conditioner was brought to court in order to be installed in the chamber of Judge
Palaypayon, it was still placed in the same box when it was bought and was not used
yet.

The respondents claim that Baroy sold it to Judge Palaypayon for Twenty Thousand
(P20,00.00) Pesos on installment basis with a down payment of Five Thousand
(P5,000.00) Pesos and as proof thereof the respondents presented a typewritten receipt
dated May 29, 1993 (Exh. 22). The receipt was signed by both respondents and by the
Municipal Mayor of Tinambac, Camarines Sur and another person as witness.

The alleged sale between respondents is not beyond suspicion. It was bought by Baroy
at a time when she was applying for the vacant position of Clerk of Court (to) which she
was eventually appointed in October, 1991. From the time she bought the air
conditioner on August 24, 1991 until it was installed in the office of Judge Palaypayon it
was not used yet. The sale to Judge Palaypayon was only evidenced by a mere
typewritten receipt dated May 29, 1992 when this case was already filed. The receipt
could have been easily prepared. The Municipal Mayor of Tinambac who signed in the
receipt as a witness did not testify in this case. The sale is between the Clerk of Court
and the Judge of the same court. All these circumstances give rise to suspicion of at
least impropriety. Judges should avoid such action as would subject (them) to suspicion
and (their) conduct should be free from the appearance of impropriety (Jaagueta vs.
Boncasos, 60 SCRA 27).

With respect to the charge that Judge Palaypayon received a cash bond deposit of One
Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos from Januaria Dacara without issuing a receipt, Dacara
executed an affidavit regarding this charge that Judge Palaypayon did not give her a
receipt for the P1,000.00 cash bond she deposited (Exh. N). Her affidavit, however, has
no probative value as she did not show that this cash bond of P1,000.00 found its way
into the hands of respondent Baroy who issued only a temporary receipt for it and this
has been discussed earlier.

Another charge against Judge Palaypayon is the getting of detention prisoners to work
in his house and one of them escaped while in his custody and was never found again.
To hide this fact, the case against said accused was ordered archived by Judge
Palaypayon. The evidence adduced with respect to this particular charge, show that in
Crim. Case No. 5647 entitled People vs. Stephen Kalaw, Alex Alano and Allan Adupe,
accused Alex Alano and Allan Adupe were arrested on April 12, 1991 and placed in the
municipal jail of Tinambac, Camarines Sur (Exhs. 0, 0-1, 0-2 and 0-3; Exh. 25). The
evidence presented that Alex Alano was taken by Judge Palaypayon from the municipal
jail where said accused was confined and that he escaped while in custody of Judge
Palaypayon is solely testimonial, particularly that of David Ortiz, a former utility worker
of the MTC of Tinambac.

Herein investigator finds said evidence not sufficient. The complainants should have
presented records from the police of Tinambac to show that Judge Palaypayon took out
from the municipal jail Alex Alano where he was under detention and said accused
escaped while in the custody of Judge Palaypayon.

The order, however, of Judge Palaypayon dated April 6, 1992 in Crim. Case No. 5047
archiving said case appears to be without basis. The order states: "this case was filed
on April 12, 1991 and the records show that the warrant of arrest (was) issued against
the accused, but up to this moment there is no return of service for the warrant of arrest
issued against said accused" (Exh. 0-4). The records of said case, however, show that
in fact there was a return of the service of the warrant of arrest dated April 12, 1991
showing that Alano and Adupe were arrested (Exh. 0-3).

Judge Palaypayon explained that his order dated April 6, 1992 archiving Crim. Case No.
5047 referred only to one of the accused who remained at large. The explanation
cannot be accepted because the two other accused, Alano and Adupe, were arrested.
Judge Palaypayon should have issued an order for the arrest of Adupe who allegedly
jumped bail, but Alano was supposed to be confined in the municipal jail if his claim is
true that he did not take custody of Alano.

The explanation also of Judge Palaypayon why he ordered the case archived was
because he heard from the police that Alano escaped. This explanation is not
acceptable either. He should ha(ve) set the case and if the police failed to bring to court
Alano, the former should have been required to explain in writing why Alano was not
brought to court. If the explanation was that Alano escaped from jail, he should have
issued an order for his arrest. It is only later on when he could not be arrested when the
case should have been ordered archived. The order archiving this case for the reason
that he only heard that Alano escaped is another circumstance which gave rise to a
suspicion that Alano might have really escaped while in his custody only that the
complainants could not present records or other documentary evidence to prove the
same.

The last charge against the respondents is that they collected filing fees on collection
cases filed by the Rural Bank of Tinambac, Camarines Sur which was supposed to be
exempted in paying filing fees under existing laws and that the filing fees received was
deposited by respondent Baroy in her personal account in the bank. The evidence
presented show that on February 4, 1992 the Rural Bank of Tinambac filed ten (10) civil
cases for collection against farmers and it paid the total amount of Four Hundred
(P400.00) Pesos representing filing fees. The complainants cited Section 14 of Republic
Act 720, as amended, which exempts Rural Banks (from) the payment of filing fees on
collection of sums of money cases filed against farmers on loans they obtained.

Judge Palaypayon, however, had nothing to do with the payment of the filing fees of the
Rural Bank of Tinambac as it was respondent Baroy who received them and besides,
on February 4, 1992, he was on sick leave. On her part Baroy claims that the bank paid
voluntarily the filing fees. The records, however, shows that respondent Baroy sent a
letter to the manager of the bank dated January 28, 1992 to the effect that if the bank
would not pay she would submit all Rural Bank cases for dismissal (Annex 6, comment
by respondent Baroy).

Respondent Baroy should have checked whether the Rural Bank of Tinambac was
really exempt from the payment of filing fees pursuant to Republic Act 720, as
amended, instead of threatening the bank to have its cases be submitted to the court in
order to have them dismissed. Here the payment of the filing fees was made on
February 4, 1992, but the Four Hundred (P400.00) Pesos was only turned over to the
Municipal Treasurer on March 12, 1992. Here, there is an undue delay again in
complying with her obligation as accountable officer.

In view of the foregoing findings that the evidence presented by the complainants
sufficiently show that respondent Judge Lucio P. Palaypayon, Jr. had solemnized
marriages, particularly that of Sammy Bocaya and Gina Besmonte, without a marriage
license, and that it having been shown that he did not comply with his duty in closely
supervising his clerk of court in the preparation of the monthly report of cases being
submitted to the Supreme Court, particularly for the months of July and September,
1992 where it has been proven that the reports for said two (2) months were falsified
with respect to the number of documents notarized, it is respectfully recommended that
he be imposed a fine of TEN THOUSAND (P10,000.00) PESOS with a warning that the
same or similar offenses will be more severely dealt with.

The fact that Judge Palaypayon did not sign the marriage contracts or certificates of
those marriages he solemnized without a marriage license, there were no dates placed
in the marriage contracts to show when they were solemnized, the contracting parties
were not furnished their marriage contracts and the Local Civil Registrar was not being
sent any copy of the marriage contract, will not absolve him from liability. By
solemnizing alone a marriage without a marriage license he as the solemnizing officer is
the one responsible for the irregularity in not complying (with) the formal requ(i)sites of
marriage and under Article 4(3) of the Family Code of the Philippines, he shall be civilly,
criminally and administratively liable.

Judge Palaypayon is likewise liable for his negligence or failure to comply with his duty
of closely supervising his clerk of court in the performance of the latter's duties and
functions, particularly the preparation of the monthly report of cases (Bendesula vs.
Laya, 58 SCRA 16). His explanation that he only signed the monthly report of cases
only when his clerk of court already signed the same, cannot be accepted. It is his duty
to closely supervise her, to check and verify the records if the monthly reports prepared
by his clerk of court do not contain false statements. It was held that "A judge cannot
take refuge behind the inefficiency or incompetence of court personnel (Nidua vs.
Lazaro, 174 SCRA 158).

In view also of the foregoing finding that respondent Nelia Esmeralda-Baroy, the clerk of
court of the Municipal Trial Court of Tinambac, Camarines Sur, has been found to have
falsified the monthly report of cases for the months of July and September, 1992 with
respect to the number of documents notarized, for having failed to account (for) the
notarial fees she received for said two (2) months period; for having failed to account
(for) the solemnization fees of those marriages allegedly not solemnized, but the
solemnization fees were not returned; for unauthorized issuance of temporary receipts,
some of which were issued unnumbered; for receiving the cash bond of Dacara on
October 29, 1991 in the amount of One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos for which she
issued only a temporary receipt (Exh. Y) and for depositing it with the Land Bank of the
Philippines only on March 26, 1993, or after one year and five months in her possession
and after this case was already filed; for withdrawing said cash bond of One Thousand
(P1,000.00) Pesos on April 29, 1993 without any court order or authority and
redepositing it only on July 23, 1993; for receiving a cash bond of Three Thousand
(P3,000.00) Pesos from Alfredo Seprones in Crim. Case No. 5180, MTC, Tinambac,
Camarines Sur, for which she issued only an unnumbered temporary receipt (Exhs. X
and X-1) and for not depositing it with a bank or with the Municipal Treasurer until it was
ordered released; and for requiring the Rural Bank of Tinambac, Camarines Sur to pay
filing fees on February 4, 1992 for collection cases filed against farmers in the amount
of Four Hundred (P400.00) Pesos, but turning over said amount to the Municipal
Treasurer only on March 12, 1992, it is respectfully recommended that said respondent
clerk of court Nelia Esmeralda-Baroy be dismissed from the service.

It is provided that "Withdrawal of court deposits shall be by the clerk of court who shall
issue official receipt to the provincial, city or municipal treasurer for the amount
withdrawn. Court deposits cannot be withdrawn except by order of the court, . . . ."
(Revised Manual of Instructions for Treasurers, Sec. 183, 184 and 626; p. 127, Manual
for Clerks of Court). A circular also provides that the Clerks of Court shall immediately
issue an official receipt upon receipt of deposits from party litigants and thereafter
deposit intact the collection with the municipal, city or provincial treasurer and their
deposits, can only be withdrawn upon proper receipt and order of the Court (DOJ
Circular No. 52, 26 April 1968; p. 136, Manual for Clerks of Court). Supreme Court
Memorandum Circular No. 5, 25 November 1982, also provides that "all collections of
funds of fiduciary character including rental deposits, shall be deposited immediately by
the clerk of court concerned upon receipt thereof with City, Municipal or Provincial
Treasurer where his court is located" and that "no withdrawal of any of such deposits
shall be made except upon lawful order of the court exercising jurisdiction over the
subject matter.

Respondent Baroy had either failed to comply with the foregoing circulars, or
deliberately disregarded, or even intentionally violated them. By her conduct, she
demonstrated her callous unconcern for the obligations and responsibility of her duties
and functions as a clerk of court and accountable officer. The gross neglect of her
duties shown by her constitute(s) a serious misconduct which warrant(s) her removal
from office. In the case of Belen P. Ferriola vs. Norma Hiam, Clerk of Court, MTCC,
Branch I, Batangas City; A.M. No. P-90-414; August 9, 1993, it was held that "The clerk
of court is not authorized to keep funds in his/her custody; monies received by him/her
shall be deposited immediately upon receipt thereof with the City, Municipal or
Provincial Treasurer. Supreme Court Circular Nos. 5 dated November 25, 1982 and 5-A
dated December 3, 1982. Respondent Hiam's failure to remit the cash bail bonds and
fine she collected constitutes serious misconduct and her misappropriation of said funds
constitutes dishonesty. "Respondent Norma Hiam was found guilty of dishonesty and
serious misconduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and (the Court) ordered
her immediate dismissal (from) the service.

xxx xxx xxx

We here emphasize once again our adjuration that the conduct and behavior of everyone connected
with an office charged with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk,
should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. His conduct, at all times, must not
only be characterized by propriety and decorum but, above all else, must be beyond suspicion. Every
employee should be an example of integrity, uprightness and honesty. 5 Integrity in a judicial office is
more than a virtue, it is a necessity. 6 It applies, without qualification as to rank or position, from the
judge to the least of its personnel, they being standard-bearers of the exacting norms of ethics and
morality imposed upon a Court of justice.

On the charge regarding illegal marriages the Family Code pertinently provides that the formal
requisites of marriage are, inter alia, a valid marriage license except in the cases provided for
therein. 7 Complementarily, it declares that the absence of any of the essential or formal requisites
shall generally render the marriage void ab initio and that, while an irregularity in the formal requisites
shall not affect the validity of the marriage, the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be
civilly, criminally and administratively liable. 8

The civil aspect is addressed to the contracting parties and those affected by the illegal marriages,
and what we are providing for herein pertains to the administrative liability of respondents, all without
prejudice to their criminal responsibility. The Revised Penal Code provides that "(p)riests or ministers
of any religious denomination or sect, or civil authorities who shall perform or authorize any illegal
marriage ceremony shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the Marriage Law." 9 This
is of course, within the province of the prosecutorial agencies of the Government.

The recommendation with respect to the administrative sanction to be imposed on respondent judge
should, therefore, be modified. For one, with respect to the charge of illegal solemnization of
marriages, it does appear that he had not taken to heart, but actually trifled with, the law's concern for
the institution of marriage and the legal effects flowing from civil status. This, and his undeniable
participation in the other offenses charged as hereinbefore narrated in detail, approximate such
serious degree of misconduct and of gross negligence in the performance of judicial duties as to
ineludibly require a higher penalty.

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby imposes a FINE of P20,000.00 on respondent Judge Lucio P.
Palaypayon. Jr., with a stern warning that any repetition of the same or similar offenses in the future
will definitely be severely dealt with. Respondent Nelia Esmeralda-Baroy is hereby DISMISSED from
the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and with prejudice to employment in any branch,
agency or instrumentality of the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations.

Let copies of this decision be spread on their records and furnished to the Office of the Ombudsman
for appropriate action.
SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Feliciano, Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason,
Puno, Vitug, Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

Cruz, J., took no part.

Bidin, J., is on leave.

#Footnotes

1 Original Record, 1.

2 Ibid., 9 and 23.

3 Ibid., 86.

4 Ibid., 134.

5 Annong vs. Vda. de Blas, A.M. No. P-91-602, October 15, 1991, 202 SCRA 635.

6 Capuno, et al. vs. Jaramillo, Jr., A.M. No. RTJ-93-944, July 20, 1994.

7 Article 3(2), Executive Order No. 209, as amended.

8 Article 4, id.

9 Article 352, Revised Penal Code, in relation to Section 39, Act No. 3613.
FIRST DIVISION

[A.M. No. MTJ-02-1390. April 11, 2002]

MERCEDITA MATA ARAES, petitioner, vs. JUDGE SALVADOR M. OCCIANO, respondent.

DECISION
PUNO, J.:

Petitioner Mercedita Mata Araes charges respondent judge with Gross Ignorance of the Law via a
sworn Letter-Complaint dated 23 May 2001. Respondent is the Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial
Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur. Petitioner alleges that on 17 February 2000, respondent judge
solemnized her marriage to her late groom Dominador B. Orobia without the requisite marriage license
and at Nabua, Camarines Sur which is outside his territorial jurisdiction.
They lived together as husband and wife on the strength of this marriage until her husband passed
away. However, since the marriage was a nullity, petitioners right to inherit the vast properties left by
Orobia was not recognized. She was likewise deprived of receiving the pensions of Orobia, a retired
Commodore of the Philippine Navy.
Petitioner prays that sanctions be imposed against respondent judge for his illegal acts and
unethical misrepresentations which allegedly caused her so much hardships, embarrassment and
sufferings.
On 28 May 2001, the case was referred by the Office of the Chief Justice to then Acting Court
Administrator Zenaida N. Elepao for appropriate action. On 8 June 2001, the Office of the Court
Administrator required respondent judge to comment.
In his Comment dated 5 July 2001, respondent judge averred that he was requested by a certain
Juan Arroyo on 15 February 2000 to solemnize the marriage of the parties on 17 February 2000. Having
been assured that all the documents to the marriage were complete, he agreed to solemnize the
marriage in his sala at the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur. However, on 17 February
2000, Arroyo informed him that Orobia had a difficulty walking and could not stand the rigors of travelling
to Balatan which is located almost 25 kilometers from his residence in Nabua. Arroyo then requested if
respondent judge could solemnize the marriage in Nabua, to which request he acceded.
Respondent judge further avers that before he started the ceremony, he carefully examined the
documents submitted to him by petitioner. When he discovered that the parties did not possess the
requisite marriage license, he refused to solemnize the marriage and suggested its resetting to another
date. However, due to the earnest pleas of the parties, the influx of visitors, and the delivery of
provisions for the occasion, he proceeded to solemnize the marriage out of human compassion. He
also feared that if he reset the wedding, it might aggravate the physical condition of Orobia who just
suffered from a stroke. After the solemnization, he reiterated the necessity for the marriage license and
admonished the parties that their failure to give it would render the marriage void. Petitioner and Orobia
assured respondent judge that they would give the license to him in the afternoon of that same day.
When they failed to comply, respondent judge followed it up with Arroyo but the latter only gave him
the same reassurance that the marriage license would be delivered to his sala at the Municipal Trial
Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur.
Respondent judge vigorously denies that he told the contracting parties that their marriage is valid
despite the absence of a marriage license. He attributes the hardships and embarrassment suffered by
the petitioner as due to her own fault and negligence.
On 12 September 2001, petitioner filed her Affidavit of Desistance dated 28 August 2001 with the
Office of the Court Administrator. She attested that respondent judge initially refused to solemnize her
marriage due to the want of a duly issued marriage license and that it was because of her prodding and
reassurances that he eventually solemnized the same. She confessed that she filed this administrative
case out of rage. However, after reading the Comment filed by respondent judge, she realized her own
shortcomings and is now bothered by her conscience.
Reviewing the records of the case, it appears that petitioner and Orobia filed their Application for
Marriage License on 5 January 2000. It was stamped in this Application that the marriage license shall
be issued on 17 January 2000. However, neither petitioner nor Orobia claimed it.
It also appears that the Office of the Civil Registrar General issued a Certification that it has no
record of such marriage that allegedly took place on 17 February 2000. Likewise, the Office of the Local
Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur issued another Certification dated 7 May 2001 that it cannot
issue a true copy of the Marriage Contract of the parties since it has no record of their marriage.
On 8 May 2001, petitioner sought the assistance of respondent judge so the latter could
communicate with the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur for the issuance of
her marriage license. Respondent judge wrote the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur. In a
letter dated 9 May 2001, a Clerk of said office, Grace T. Escobal, informed respondent judge that their
office cannot issue the marriage license due to the failure of Orobia to submit the Death Certificate of
his previous spouse.
The Office of the Court Administrator, in its Report and Recommendation dated 15 November 2000,
found the respondent judge guilty of solemnizing a marriage without a duly issued marriage license and
for doing so outside his territorial jurisdiction. A fine of P5,000.00 was recommended to be imposed on
respondent judge.
We agree.
Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, or B.P.129, the authority of the regional trial court
judges and judges of inferior courts to solemnize marriages is confined to their territorial jurisdiction as
defined by the Supreme Court.
The case at bar is not without precedent. In Navarro vs. Domagtoy,[1] respondent judge held office
and had jurisdiction in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta. Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte.
However, he solemnized a wedding at his residence in the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte
which did not fall within the jurisdictional area of the municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos. We held
that:

A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local ordinance to marry the faithful is authorized to
do so only within the area or diocese or place allowed by his Bishop. An appellate court Justice or a
Justice of this Court has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to solemnize marriages, regardless of
the venue, as long as the requisites of the law are complied with. However, judges who are appointed
to specific jurisdictions, may officiate in weddings only within said areas and not beyond. Where a
judge solemnizes a marriage outside his courts jurisdiction, there is a resultant irregularity in the
formal requisite laid down in Article 3, which while it may not affect the validity of the marriage, may
subject the officiating official to administrative liability. [2] (Emphasis supplied.)

In said case, we suspended respondent judge for six (6) months on the ground that his act of
solemnizing a marriage outside his jurisdiction constitutes gross ignorance of the law. We further held
that:

The judiciary should be composed of persons who, if not experts, are at least, proficient in the law
they are sworn to apply, more than the ordinary laymen. They should be skilled and competent in
understanding and applying the law. It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles
like the ones involved in the instant case. x x x While magistrates may at times make mistakes in
judgment, for which they are not penalized, the respondent judge exhibited ignorance of elementary
provisions of law, in an area which has greatly prejudiced the status of married persons.[3]

In the case at bar, the territorial jurisdiction of respondent judge is limited to the municipality of
Balatan, Camarines Sur. His act of solemnizing the marriage of petitioner and Orobia in Nabua,
Camarines Sur therefore is contrary to law and subjects him to administrative liability. His act may not
amount to gross ignorance of the law for he allegedly solemnized the marriage out of human
compassion but nonetheless, he cannot avoid liability for violating the law on marriage.
Respondent judge should also be faulted for solemnizing a marriage without the requisite marriage
license. In People vs. Lara,[4] we held that a marriage which preceded the issuance of the marriage
license is void, and that the subsequent issuance of such license cannot render valid or even add an
iota of validity to the marriage. Except in cases provided by law, it is the marriage license that gives the
solemnizing officer the authority to solemnize a marriage. Respondent judge did not possess such
authority when he solemnized the marriage of petitioner. In this respect, respondent judge acted in
gross ignorance of the law.
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 Courts 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.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 145226. February 06, 2004]


LUCIO MORIGO y CACHO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the decision[1] dated October 21, 1999 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, which affirmed the judgment[2] dated August 5, 1996 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bohol, Branch 4, in Criminal Case No. 8688. The trial court found herein
petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho guilty beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy and sentenced him to a
prison term of seven (7) months of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years and one (1) day
of prision mayor as maximum. Also assailed in this petition is the resolution[3] of the appellate court,
dated September 25, 2000, denying Morigos motion for reconsideration.
The facts of this case, as found by the court a quo, are as follows:

Appellant Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete were boardmates at the house of Catalina Tortor at
Tagbilaran City, Province of Bohol, for a period of four (4) years (from 1974-1978).

After school year 1977-78, Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete lost contact with each other.

In 1984, Lucio Morigo was surprised to receive a card from Lucia Barrete from Singapore. The former
replied and after an exchange of letters, they became sweethearts.

In 1986, Lucia returned to the Philippines but left again for Canada to work there. While in Canada,
they maintained constant communication.

In 1990, Lucia came back to the Philippines and proposed to petition appellant to join her in Canada.
Both agreed to get married, thus they were married on August 30, 1990 at the Iglesia de Filipina
Nacionalat Catagdaan, Pilar, Bohol.

On September 8, 1990, Lucia reported back to her work in Canada leaving appellant Lucio behind.

On August 19, 1991, Lucia filed with the Ontario Court (General Division) a petition for divorce
against appellant which was granted by the court on January 17, 1992 and to take effect on February
17, 1992.

On October 4, 1992, appellant Lucio Morigo married Maria Jececha Lumbago [4] at the Virgen sa
Barangay Parish, Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

On September 21, 1993, accused filed a complaint for judicial declaration of nullity of marriage in the
Regional Trial Court of Bohol, docketed as Civil Case No. 6020. The complaint seek (sic) among
others, the declaration of nullity of accuseds marriage with Lucia, on the ground that no marriage
ceremony actually took place.

On October 19, 1993, appellant was charged with Bigamy in an Information [5] filed by the City
Prosecutor of Tagbilaran [City], with the Regional Trial Court of Bohol. [6]

The petitioner moved for suspension of the arraignment on the ground that the civil case for judicial
nullification of his marriage with Lucia posed a prejudicial question in the bigamy case. His motion was
granted, but subsequently denied upon motion for reconsideration by the prosecution. When arraigned
in the bigamy case, which was docketed as Criminal Case No. 8688, herein petitioner pleaded not
guilty to the charge. Trial thereafter ensued.
On August 5, 1996, the RTC of Bohol handed down its judgment in Criminal Case No. 8688, as
follows:

WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court finds accused Lucio Morigo y Cacho guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Bigamy and sentences him to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment ranging from Seven (7) Months of Prision Correccional as minimum to Six (6) Years
and One (1) Day of Prision Mayor as maximum.

SO ORDERED.[7]

In convicting herein petitioner, the trial court discounted petitioners claim that his first marriage to
Lucia was null and void ab initio. Following Domingo v. Court of Appeals,[8] the trial court ruled that want
of a valid marriage ceremony is not a defense in a charge of bigamy. The parties to a marriage should
not be allowed to assume that their marriage is void even if such be the fact but must first secure a
judicial declaration of the nullity of their marriage before they can be allowed to marry again.
Anent the Canadian divorce obtained by Lucia, the trial court cited Ramirez v. Gmur,[9] which held
that the court of a country in which neither of the spouses is domiciled and in which one or both spouses
may resort merely for the purpose of obtaining a divorce, has no jurisdiction to determine the
matrimonial status of the parties. As such, a divorce granted by said court is not entitled to recognition
anywhere. Debunking Lucios defense of good faith in contracting the second marriage, the trial court
stressed that following People v. Bitdu,[10] everyone is presumed to know the law, and the fact that one
does not know that his act constitutes a violation of the law does not exempt him from the consequences
thereof.
Seasonably, petitioner filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No.
20700.
Meanwhile, on October 23, 1997, or while CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 was pending before the appellate
court, the trial court rendered a decision in Civil Case No. 6020 declaring the marriage between Lucio
and Lucia void ab initio since no marriage ceremony actually took place. No appeal was taken from this
decision, which then became final and executory.
On October 21, 1999, the appellate court decided CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 as follows:

WHEREFORE, finding no error in the appealed decision, the same is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.[11]

In affirming the assailed judgment of conviction, the appellate court stressed that the subsequent
declaration of nullity of Lucios marriage to Lucia in Civil Case No. 6020 could not acquit Lucio. The
reason is that what is sought to be punished by Article 349 [12] of the Revised Penal Code is the act of
contracting a second marriage before the first marriage had been dissolved. Hence, the CA held, the
fact that the first marriage was void from the beginning is not a valid defense in a bigamy case.
The Court of Appeals also pointed out that the divorce decree obtained by Lucia from the Canadian
court could not be accorded validity in the Philippines, pursuant to Article 15 [13] of the Civil Code and
given the fact that it is contrary to public policy in this jurisdiction. Under Article 17 [14] of the Civil Code,
a declaration of public policy cannot be rendered ineffectual by a judgment promulgated in a foreign
jurisdiction.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the appellate courts decision, contending that the doctrine
in Mendiola v. People,[15] allows mistake upon a difficult question of law (such as the effect of a foreign
divorce decree) to be a basis for good faith.
On September 25, 2000, the appellate court denied the motion for lack of merit. [16] However, the
denial was by a split vote. The ponente of the appellate courts original decision in CA-G.R. CR No.
20700, Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria, joined in the opinion prepared by Justice Bernardo P. Abesamis.
The dissent observed that as the first marriage was validly declared void ab initio, then there was no
first marriage to speak of. Since the date of the nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage and
since herein petitioner was, in the eyes of the law, never married, he cannot be convicted beyond
reasonable doubt of bigamy.
The present petition raises the following issues for our resolution:

A.

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY THE RULE THAT
IN CRIMES PENALIZED UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE, CRIMINAL INTENT IS AN
INDISPENSABLE REQUISITE. COROLLARILY, WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS
ERRED IN FAILING TO APPRECIATE [THE] PETITIONERS LACK OF CRIMINAL INTENT WHEN
HE CONTRACTED THE SECOND MARRIAGE.

B.

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE RULING IN
PEOPLE VS. BITDU (58 PHIL. 817) IS APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR.

C.

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY THE RULE THAT
EACH AND EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE FAVORING THE INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED MUST
BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT.[17]

To our mind, the primordial issue should be whether or not petitioner committed bigamy and if so,
whether his defense of good faith is valid.
The petitioner submits that he should not be faulted for relying in good faith upon the divorce decree
of the Ontario court. He highlights the fact that he contracted the second marriage openly and publicly,
which a person intent upon bigamy would not be doing. The petitioner further argues that his lack of
criminal intent is material to a conviction or acquittal in the instant case. The crime of bigamy, just like
other felonies punished under the Revised Penal Code, is mala in se, and hence, good faith and lack
of criminal intent are allowed as a complete defense. He stresses that there is a difference between
the intent to commit the crime and the intent to perpetrate the act. Hence, it does not necessarily follow
that his intention to contract a second marriage is tantamount to an intent to commit bigamy.
For the respondent, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) submits that good faith in the instant
case is a convenient but flimsy excuse. The Solicitor General relies upon our ruling in Marbella-Bobis
v. Bobis,[18] which held that bigamy can be successfully prosecuted provided all the elements concur,
stressing that under Article 40[19] of the Family Code, a judicial declaration of nullity is a must before a
party may re-marry. Whether or not the petitioner was aware of said Article 40 is of no account as
everyone is presumed to know the law. The OSG counters that petitioners contention that he was in
good faith because he relied on the divorce decree of the Ontario court is negated by his act of filing
Civil Case No. 6020, seeking a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lucia.
Before we delve into petitioners defense of good faith and lack of criminal intent, we must first
determine whether all the elements of bigamy are present in this case. In Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,[20] we
laid down the elements of bigamy thus:
(1) the offender has been legally married;
(2) the first marriage has not been legally dissolved, or in case his or her spouse is absent, the
absent spouse has not been judicially declared presumptively dead;
(3) he contracts a subsequent marriage; and
(4) the subsequent marriage would have been valid had it not been for the existence of the first.
Applying the foregoing test to the instant case, we note that during the pendency of CA-G.R. CR
No. 20700, the RTC of Bohol Branch 1, handed down the following decision in Civil Case No. 6020, to
wit:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered decreeing the annulment of the
marriage entered into by petitioner Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete on August 23, 1990 in Pilar, Bohol
and further directing the Local Civil Registrar of Pilar, Bohol to effect the cancellation of the marriage
contract.

SO ORDERED.[21]

The trial court found that there was no actual marriage ceremony performed between Lucio and
Lucia by a solemnizing officer. Instead, what transpired was a mere signing of the marriage contract by
the two, without the presence of a solemnizing officer. The trial court thus held that the marriage is
void ab initio, in accordance with Articles 3[22] and 4[23] of the Family Code. As the dissenting opinion in
CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, correctly puts it, This simply means that there was no marriage to begin with;
and that such declaration of nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage. In other words, for all
intents and purposes, reckoned from the date of the declaration of the first marriage as void ab initio to
the date of the celebration of the first marriage, the accused was, under the eyes of the law, never
married.[24] The records show that no appeal was taken from the decision of the trial court in Civil Case
No. 6020, hence, the decision had long become final and executory.
The first element of bigamy as a crime requires that the accused must have been legally married.
But in this case, legally speaking, the petitioner was never married to Lucia Barrete. Thus, there is no
first marriage to speak of. Under the principle of retroactivity of a marriage being declared void ab initio,
the two were never married from the beginning. The contract of marriage is null; it bears no legal effect.
Taking this argument to its logical conclusion, for legal purposes, petitioner was not married to Lucia at
the time he contracted the marriage with Maria Jececha. The existence and the validity of the first
marriage being an essential element of the crime of bigamy, it is but logical that a conviction for said
offense cannot be sustained where there is no first marriage to speak of. The petitioner, must, perforce
be acquitted of the instant charge.
The present case is analogous to, but must be distinguished from Mercado v. Tan.[25] In the latter
case, the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage was likewise obtained afterthe second
marriage was already celebrated. We held therein that:
A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is necessary before a subsequent one can be
legally contracted. One who enters into a subsequent marriage without first obtaining such judicial
declaration is guilty of bigamy. This principle applies even if the earlier union is characterized by
statutes as void.[26]

It bears stressing though that in Mercado, the first marriage was actually solemnized not just once,
but twice: first before a judge where a marriage certificate was duly issued and then again six months
later before a priest in religious rites. Ostensibly, at least, the first marriage appeared to have transpired,
although later declared void ab initio.
In the instant case, however, no marriage ceremony at all was performed by a duly authorized
solemnizing officer. Petitioner and Lucia Barrete merely signed a marriage contract on their own. The
mere private act of signing a marriage contract bears no semblance to a valid marriage and thus, needs
no judicial declaration of nullity. Such act alone, without more, cannot be deemed to constitute an
ostensibly valid marriage for which petitioner might be held liable for bigamy unless he first secures a
judicial declaration of nullity before he contracts a subsequent marriage.
The law abhors an injustice and the Court is mandated to liberally construe a penal statute in favor
of an accused and weigh every circumstance in favor of the presumption of innocence to ensure that
justice is done. Under the circumstances of the present case, we held that petitioner has not committed
bigamy. Further, we also find that we need not tarry on the issue of the validity of his defense of good
faith or lack of criminal intent, which is now moot and academic.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision, dated October 21, 1999
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, as well as the resolution of the appellate court dated
September 25, 2000, denying herein petitioners motion for reconsideration, is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho is ACQUITTED from the charge of BIGAMY on the ground
that his guilt has not been proven with moral certainty.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.

[1] Rollo, pp. 38-44. Penned by Associate Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria and concurred in by Associate
Justices Marina L. Buzon and Edgardo P. Cruz.
[2]
Records, pp. 114-119.
[3] Rollo, pp. 46-58. Per Associate Justice Edgardo P. Cruz, with Associate Justices Cancio C. Garcia
and Marina L. Buzon, concurring and Eugenio S. Labitoria and Bernardo P. Abesamis,
dissenting.
[4] Her correct name is Maria Jececha Limbago (Italics for emphasis). See Exh. B, the copy of their
marriage contract. Records, p. 10.
[5]The accusatory portion of the charge sheet found in Records, p. 1, reads:
That, on or about the 4th day of October, 1992, in the City of Tagbilaran, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused being previously united in lawful
marriage with Lucia Barrete on August 23, 1990 and without the said marriage having been
legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second
marriage with Maria Jececha Limbago to the damage and prejudice of Lucia Barrete in the
amount to be proved during trial.
Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.
[6] Rollo, pp. 38-40.
[7] Records, p. 119.
[8] G.R. No. 104818, 17 September 1993, 226 SCRA 572.
[9] 42 Phil. 855, 863 (1918).
[10] 58 Phil. 817 (1933).
[11] Rollo, p. 43.
[12] ART. 349. Bigamy. The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall
contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally
dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a
judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.
[13] Art. 15. Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of
persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.
[14] Art. 17. The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other public instruments shall be governed
by the laws of the country in which they are executed.
When the acts referred to are executed before the diplomatic or consular officials of the Republic of the
Philippines in a foreign country, the solemnities established by Philippine laws shall be observed
in their execution.
Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their object public
order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments
promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.
[15] G.R. Nos. 89983-84, 6 March 1992, 207 SCRA 85.
[16] Rollo, p. 51.
[17] Id. at 20-21.
[18] G.R. No. 138509, 31 July 2000, 336 SCRA 747, 752-753.
[19]
Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on
the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
[20] Supra.
[21] CA Rollo, p. 38.
[22] Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:
(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;
(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and
(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the
solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife
in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.
[23] 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).
A defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage voidable as provided in Article 45.
An irregularity in the formal requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the party or parties
responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and administratively liable.
[24] Rollo, p. 54.
[25] G.R. No. 137110, 1 August 2000, 337 SCRA 122.
[26] Id. at 124.

THIRD DIVISION

RESTITUTO M. ALCANTARA, G.R. No. 167746


Petitioner,
Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ.

ROSITA A. ALCANTARA and HON. Promulgated:


COURT OF APPEALS,
Respondents. August 28, 2007
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by petitioner Restituto Alcantara assailing
the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated 30 September 2004 in CA-G.R. CV No. 66724 denying
petitioners appeal and affirming the decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch
143, in Civil Case No. 97-1325 dated 14 February 2000, dismissing his petition for annulment of
marriage.

The antecedent facts are:


A petition for annulment of marriage [3] was filed by petitioner against respondent Rosita
A. Alcantara alleging that on 8 December 1982 he and respondent, without securing the required
marriage license, went to the Manila City Hall for the purpose of looking for a person who could arrange
a marriage for them. They met a person who, for a fee, arranged their wedding before a certain
Rev. Aquilino Navarro, a Minister of the Gospel of the CDCC BR Chapel. [4] They got married on the
same day, 8 December 1982. Petitioner and respondent went through another marriage ceremony at
the San Jose de Manuguit Church in Tondo, Manila, on 26 March 1983. The marriage was likewise
celebrated without the parties securing a marriage license. The alleged marriage license, procured
in Carmona, Cavite, appearing on the marriage contract, is a sham, as neither party was a resident
of Carmona, and they never went to Carmona to apply for a license with the local civil registrar of the
said place. On 14 October 1985, respondent gave birth to their child Rose Ann Alcantara. In 1988, they
parted ways and lived separate lives. Petitioner prayed that after due hearing, judgment be issued
declaring their marriage void and ordering the Civil Registrar to cancel the corresponding marriage
contract[5] and its entry on file.[6]

Answering petitioners petition for annulment of marriage, respondent asserts the validity of their
marriage and maintains that there was a marriage license issued as evidenced by a certification from
the Office of the Civil Registry of Carmona, Cavite. Contrary to petitioners representation, respondent
gave birth to their first child named Rose Ann Alcantara on 14 October 1985 and to another daughter
named Rachel Ann Alcantara on 27 October 1992.[7] Petitioner has a mistress with whom he has three
children.[8]Petitioner only filed the annulment of their marriage to evade prosecution
for concubinage.[9] Respondent, in fact, has filed a case for concubinage against petitioner before
the Metropolitan Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 60.[10] Respondent prays that the petition for
annulment of marriage be denied for lack of merit.

On 14 February 2000, the RTC of Makati City, Branch 143, rendered its Decision disposing as follows:

The foregoing considered, judgment is rendered as follows:

1. The Petition is dismissed for lack of merit;

2. Petitioner is ordered to pay respondent the sum of twenty thousand pesos


(P20,000.00) per month as support for their two (2) children on the first five (5) days of
each month; and

3. To pay the costs.[11]

As earlier stated, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision dismissing the petitioners appeal. His
Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied in a resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 6 April
2005.[12]
The Court of Appeals held that the marriage license of the parties is presumed to be regularly issued
and petitioner had not presented any evidence to overcome the presumption.Moreover, the parties
marriage contract being a public document is a prima facie proof of the questioned marriage under
Section 44, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. [13]

In his Petition before this Court, petitioner raises the following issues for resolution:

a. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it ruled that the
Petition for Annulment has no legal and factual basis despite the evidence on
record that there was no marriage license at the precise moment of the
solemnization of the marriage.

b. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it gave weight to
the Marriage License No. 7054133 despite the fact that the same was not identified
and offered as evidence during the trial, and was not the Marriage license number
appearing on the face of the marriage contract.

c. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it failed to apply
the ruling laid down by this Honorable Court in the case of Sy vs. Court of
Appeals. (G.R. No. 127263, 12 April 2000 [330 SCRA 550]).

d. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it failed to relax the
observance of procedural rules to protect and promote the substantial rights of the
party litigants.[14]

We deny the petition.

Petitioner submits that at the precise time that his marriage with the respondent was celebrated, there
was no marriage license because he and respondent just went to the ManilaCity Hall and dealt with a
fixer who arranged everything for them.[15] The wedding took place at the stairs in Manila City Hall and
not in CDCC BR Chapel where Rev.Aquilino Navarro who solemnized the marriage belongs.[16] He and
respondent did not go to Carmona, Cavite, to apply for a marriage license. Assuming a marriage
license from Carmona, Cavite, was issued to them, neither he nor the respondent was a resident of the
place. The certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, cannot be given weight
because the certification states that Marriage License number 7054133 was issued in favor of
Mr. Restituto Alcantara and Miss Rosita Almario[17] but their marriage contract bears the number
7054033 for their marriage license number.

The marriage involved herein having been solemnized on 8 December 1982, or prior to the effectivity of
the Family Code, the applicable law to determine its validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect
at the time of its celebration.
A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the Civil Code, the absence of
which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3)[18] in relation to Article 58 of the same
Code.[19]

Article 53 of the Civil Code[20] which was the law applicable at the time of the marriage of the parties
states:

Art. 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied with:

(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties;

(2) Their consent, freely given;

(3) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and

(4) A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character.

The requirement and issuance of a marriage license is the States demonstration of its involvement and
participation in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the general public is interested. [21]

Petitioner cannot insist on the absence of a marriage license to impugn the validity of his marriage. The
cases where the court considered the absence of a marriage license as a ground for considering the
marriage void are clear-cut.

In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals,[22] the Local Civil Registrar issued a certification of
due search and inability to find a record or entry to the effect that Marriage License No. 3196182 was
issued to the parties. The Court held that the certification of due search and inability to find a record or
entry as to the purported marriage license, issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig, enjoys probative
value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative to the issuance of
a marriage license. Based on said certification, the Court held that there is absence of a marriage
license that would render the marriage void ab initio.

In Cario v. Cario,[23] the Court considered the marriage of therein petitioner Susan Nicdao and the
deceased Santiago S. Carino as void ab initio. The records reveal that the marriage contract of
petitioner and the deceased bears no marriage license number and, as certified by the Local Civil
Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record of such marriage license. The court held
that the certification issued by the local civil registrar is adequate to prove the non-issuance of the
marriage license. Their marriage having been solemnized without the necessary marriage license and
not being one of the marriages exempt from the marriage license requirement, the marriage of the
petitioner and the deceased is undoubtedly void ab initio.
In Sy v. Court of Appeals,[24] the marriage license was issued on 17 September 1974, almost one year
after the ceremony took place on 15 November 1973. The Court held that the ineluctable conclusion is
that the marriage was indeed contracted without a marriage license.

In all these cases, there was clearly an absence of a marriage license which rendered the marriage
void.

Clearly, from these cases, it can be deduced that to be considered void on the ground of absence of a
marriage license, the law requires that the absence of such marriage license must be apparent on the
marriage contract, or at the very least, supported by a certification from the local civil registrar that no
such marriage license was issued to the parties. In this case, the marriage contract between the
petitioner and respondent reflects a marriage license number. A certification to this effect was also
issued by the local civil registrar of Carmona, Cavite.[25] The certification moreover is precise in that it
specifically identified the parties to whom the marriage license was issued,
namely Restituto Alcantara and Rosita Almario, further validating the fact that a license was in fact
issued to the parties herein.

The certification of Municipal Civil Registrar Macrino L. Diaz of Carmona, Cavite, reads:

This is to certify that as per the registry Records of Marriage filed in this office, Marriage
License No. 7054133 was issued in favor of Mr. Restituto Alcantara and Miss
Rosita Almario on December 8, 1982.

This Certification is being issued upon the request of Mrs. Rosita A. Alcantara for
whatever legal purpose or intents it may serve.[26]

This certification enjoys the presumption that official duty has been regularly performed and the
issuance of the marriage license was done in the regular conduct of official business. [27] The
presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure
to perform a duty. However, the presumption prevails until it is overcome by no less than clear and
convincing evidence to the contrary. Thus, unless the presumption is rebutted, it becomes
conclusive. Every reasonable intendment will be made in support of the presumption and, in case of
doubt as to an officers act being lawful or unlawful, construction should be in favor of its
lawfulness.[28]Significantly, apart from these, petitioner, by counsel, admitted that a marriage license
was, indeed, issued in Carmona, Cavite.[29]

Petitioner, in a faint attempt to demolish the probative value of the marriage license, claims that neither
he nor respondent is a resident of Carmona, Cavite. Even then, we still hold that there is no sufficient
basis to annul petitioner and respondents marriage. Issuance of a marriage license in a city or
municipality, not the residence of either of the contracting parties, and issuance of a marriage license
despite the absence of publication or prior to the completion of the 10-day period for publication are
considered mere irregularities that do not affect the validity of the marriage. [30] An irregularity in any of
the formal requisites of marriage does not affect its validity but the party or parties responsible for the
irregularity are civilly, criminally and administratively liable. [31]

Again, petitioner harps on the discrepancy between the marriage license number in the certification of
the Municipal Civil Registrar, which states that the marriage license issued to the parties is No.
7054133, while the marriage contract states that the marriage license number of the parties is number
7054033. Once more, this argument fails to sway us. It is not impossible to assume that the same is a
mere a typographical error, as a closer scrutiny of the marriage contract reveals the overlapping of the
numbers 0 and 1, such that the marriage license may read either as 7054133 or 7054033. It therefore
does not detract from our conclusion regarding the existence and issuance of said marriage license to
the parties.
Under the principle that he who comes to court must come with clean hands, [32] petitioner cannot
pretend that he was not responsible or a party to the marriage celebration which he now insists took
place without the requisite marriage license. Petitioner admitted that the civil marriage took place
because he initiated it.[33] Petitioner is an educated person.He is a mechanical engineer by
profession. He knowingly and voluntarily went to the Manila City Hall and likewise, knowingly and
voluntarily, went through a marriage ceremony. He cannot benefit from his action and be allowed to
extricate himself from the marriage bond at his mere say-so when the situation is no longer palatable
to his taste or suited to his lifestyle. We cannot countenance such effrontery. His attempt to make a
mockery of the institution of marriage betrays his bad faith.[34]

Petitioner and respondent went through a marriage ceremony twice in a span of less than one year
utilizing the same marriage license. There is no claim that he went through the second wedding
ceremony in church under duress or with a gun to his head. Everything was executed without nary a
whimper on the part of the petitioner.

In fact, for the second wedding of petitioner and respondent, they presented to the San Jose
de Manuguit Church the marriage contract executed during the previous wedding ceremony before
the Manila City Hall. This is confirmed in petitioners testimony as follows

WITNESS

As I remember your honor, they asked us to get the necessary document prior to the
wedding.

COURT

What particular document did the church asked you to produce? I am referring to the San
Jose de Manuguit church.
WITNESS

I dont remember your honor.

COURT

Were you asked by the church to present a Marriage License?

WITNESS

I think they asked us for documents and I said we have already a Marriage Contract and
I dont know if it is good enough for the marriage and they accepted it your honor.

COURT

In other words, you represented to the San Jose de Manuguit church that you have with
you already a Marriage Contract?

WITNESS

Yes your honor.

COURT

That is why the San Jose de Manuguit church copied the same marriage License in the
Marriage Contract issued which Marriage License is Number 7054033.

WITNESS

Yes your honor.[35]

The logical conclusion is that petitioner was amenable and a willing participant to all that took place at
that time. Obviously, the church ceremony was confirmatory of their civil marriage, thereby cleansing
whatever irregularity or defect attended the civil wedding. [36]

Likewise, the issue raised by petitioner -- that they appeared before a fixer who arranged everything
for them and who facilitated the ceremony before a certain Rev. AquilinoNavarro, a Minister of the
Gospel of the CDCC Br Chapel -- will not strengthen his posture. The authority of the officer or
clergyman shown to have performed a marriage ceremony will be presumed in the absence of any
showing to the contrary.[37] Moreover, the solemnizing officer is not duty-bound to investigate whether
or not a marriage license has been duly and regularly issued by the local civil registrar. All the
solemnizing officer needs to know is that the license has been issued by the competent official, and it
may be presumed from the issuance of the license that said official has fulfilled the duty to ascertain
whether the contracting parties had fulfilled the requirements of law. [38]
Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio. The presumption is always in favor of the validity of the
marriage.[39] Every intendment of the law or fact leans toward the validity of the marriage bonds. The
Courts look upon this presumption with great favor. It is not to be lightly repelled; on the contrary, the
presumption is of great weight.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The decision of
the Court of Appeals dated 30 September 2004 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 143 of Makati City, dated 14 February 2000, are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION

ATILANO O. NOLLORA, JR., G.R. No. 191425


Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,

BRION,

- versus - PERALTA,*
PEREZ, and

MENDOZA,** JJ.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:

Respondent. September 7, 2011

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

G.R. No. 191425 is a petition for review1 assailing the Decision2 promulgated on 30 September 2009
as well as the Resolution3 promulgated on 23 February 2010 by the Court of Appeals (appellate
court) in CA-G.R. CR No. 31538. The appellate court affirmed the 19 November 2007 Decision4 of
Branch 215 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (trial court) in Criminal Case No. Q-04-129031.

The trial court found accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. (Nollora) guilty of bigamy under Article 349 of the
Revised Penal Code and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment. Co-accused
Rowena Geraldino (Geraldino) was acquitted for the prosecutions failure to prove her guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.

The Facts

The appellate court recited the facts as follows:

On August 24, 2004, Assistant City Prosecutor Raymond Jonathan B. Lledo filed an
Information against Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. (Nollora) and Rowena P. Geraldino (Geraldino) for the
crime of Bigamy. The accusatory portion of the Information reads:
That on or about the 8th day of December 2001 in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-
named accused ATILANO O. NOLLORA, JR., being then legally married to one
JESUSA PINAT NOLLORA, and as said marriage has not been legally dissolved and
still subsisting, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a
subsequent or second marriage with her [sic] co-accused ROWENA P. GERALDINO,
who knowingly consented and agreed to be married to her co-accused ATILANO O.
NOLLORA, JR. knowing him to be a married man, to the damage and prejudice of the
said offended party JESUSA PINAT NOLLORA.

Upon his arraignment on April 18, 2005, accused Nollora assisted by counsel, refused to enter his
plea. Hence, a plea of not guilty was entered by the Court for him. Accused Geraldino, on the other
hand, entered a plea of not guilty when arraigned on June 14, 2005. On even date, pre-trial
conference was held and both the prosecution and defense entered the following stipulation of facts:

1. the validity of the first marriage between Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.


and Jesusa Pinat Nollora solemnized on April 6, 1999 at Sapang Palay, San Jose del
Monte;

2. that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. contracted the second marriage with Rowena
P. Geraldino on December 8, 2001 in Quezon City;

3. that in the Counter-Affidavit of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., he admitted that he contracted


the second marriage to Rowena P. Geraldino;

4. that Rowena P. Geraldino attached to her Counter-Affidavit the Certificate of


Marriage with Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. dated December 8, 2001;

5. the fact of marriage of Rowena P. Geraldino with Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. as admitted in
her Counter-Affidavit.

The only issue thus proffered by the prosecution for the RTCs resolution is whether or not the second
marriage is bigamous. Afterwards, pre-trial conference was terminated and the case was set for initial
hearing. Thereafter, trial ensued.

Evidence for the Prosecution


As culled from the herein assailed Decision, the respective testimonies of prosecution witnesses were
as follows:

xxx (W)itness Jesusa Pinat Nollora xxx testified that she and
accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. met in Saudi Arabia while she was working there as a
Staff Midwife in King Abdulah Naval Base Hospital. Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. courted her
and on April 6, 1999, they got married at the [IE]MELIF Chruch [sic] in Sapang Palay,
San Jose del Monte, Bulacan (Exhibit A). While working in said hospital, she heard
rumors that her husband has another wife and because of anxiety and emotional stress,
she left Saudi Arabia and returned to the Philippines (TSN, October 4, 2005, page 10).
Upon arrival in the Philippines, the private complainant learned that
indeed, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. contracted a second marriage with co-accused Rowena
P. Geraldino on December 8, 2001 (Exhibit B) when she secured a certification as to
the civil status of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. (Exhibit C) from the National Statistics Office
(NSO) sometime in November 2003.

Upon learning this information, the private complainant confronted Rowena


P. Geraldino at the latters workplace in CBW, FTI, Taguig and asked her if she knew of
the first marriage between complainant and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. to which Rowena
P. Geraldino allegedly affirmed and despite this knowledge, she allegedly still
married Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. because she loves him so much and because they were
neighbors and childhood friends. Private complainant also knew that Rowena
P. Geraldino knew of her marriage with Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., because when she
(private complainant) was brought by Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. at the latters residence
in Taguig, Metro Manila and introduced her to Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.s parents, Rowena
P. Geraldino was there in the house together with a friend and she heard everything
that they were talking about.

Because of this case, private complainant was not able to return to Saudi Arabia to work
as a Staff Midwife thereby losing income opportunity in the amount of P34,000.00 a
month, more or less. When asked about the moral damages she suffered, she declared
that what happened to her was a tragedy and she had entertained [thoughts] of
committing suicide. She added that because of what happened to her, her mother died
and she almost got raped when Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. left her alone in their residence in
Saudi Arabia. However, she declared that money is not enough to assuage her
sufferings. Instead, she just asked for the return of her money in the amount
of P50,000.00 (TSN, July 26, 2005, pages 4-14).

Prosecution witness Ruth Santos testified that she knew of the marriage between the
private complainant and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., because she was one of the sponsors in
said wedding. Sometime in November 2003, she was asked by the private complainant
to accompany the latter to the workplace of Rowena P. Geraldino in
FTI, Taguig, Metro Manila. She declared that the private complainant and Rowena
P. Geraldino had a confrontation and she heard that Rowena P. Geraldino admitted that
she (Rowena) knew of the first marriage of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. and the private
complainant but she still went on to marry Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. because she loves him
very much (TSN, October 24, 2005, pages 3-5).

Evidence for the Defense

The defenses version of facts, as summarized in the herein assailed Decision, is as follows:

Accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. admitted having contracted two (2) marriages, the first
with private complainant Jesusa Pinat and the second with Rowena P. Geraldino. He,
however, claimed that he was a Muslim convert way back on January 10, 1992, even
before he contracted the first marriage with the private complainant. As a
[M]uslim convert, he is allegedly entitled to marry four (4) wives as allowed under the
Muslim or Islam belief.

To prove that he is a Muslim convert even prior to his marriage to the private
complainant, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. presented a Certificate of Conversion dated August
2, 2004 issued by one Hadji Abdul Kajar Madueo and approved by one Khad Ibrahim
A. Alyamin wherein it is stated that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. allegedly converted as a
Muslim since January 19, 1992 (Exhibit 2, 3 and 4). Aside from said certificate, he also
presented a Pledge of Conversion dated January 10, 1992 issued by the
same Hadji Abdul Kajar Madueo and approved by one KhadIbrahim A. Alyamin (Exhibit
7).

He claimed that the private complaint knew that he was a Muslim convert prior to their
marriage because she [sic] told this fact when he was courting her in Saudi Arabia and
the reason why said private complainant filed the instant case was due to hatred having
learned of his second marriage with Rowena P. Geraldino. She [sic] further testified that
Rowena P. Geraldinowas not aware of his first marriage with the private complainant
and he did not tell her this fact because Rowena P. Geraldino is a Catholic and he does
not want to lose her if she learns of his first marriage.

He explained that in his Marriage Contract with Jesusa Pinat, it is indicated that he was
a Catholic Pentecostal but that he was not aware why it was placed as such on said
contract. In his Marriage Contract with Rowena P. Geraldino, the religion Catholic was
also indicated because he was keeping as a secret his being a Muslim since the society
does not approve of marrying a Muslim. He also indicated that he was single despite his
first marriage to keep said first marriage a secret (TSN, January 30, 2006, pages 2-13).

Defense witness Hadji Abdul Qasar Madueo testified that he is the founder and
president of Balik Islam Tableegh Foundation of the Philippines and as
such president, he has the power and authority to convert any applicant to the Muslim
religion. He alleged that sometime in 1992, he met accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.
in Mabini (Manila) who was then going abroad. AtilanoO. Nollora, Jr. applied to become
a Muslim (Exhibit 14) and after receiving the application, said accused was
indoctrinated regarding his obligations as a Muslim. On January 10,
1992, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. embraced the Muslim faith. He was then directed to report
every Sunday to monitor his development.

In the year 2004, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. visited him and asked for a certification because
of the filing of the instant case. On October 2, 2004, he issued a Certificate of
Conversion wherein it is stated that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. is a Muslim convert since
January 10, 1992. Apart from the above-mentioned document, their Imam also issued a
Pledge of Conversion (Exhibit 7). He declared that a Muslim convert could marry more
than one according to the Holy Koran. However, before marrying his second, third and
fourth wives, it is required that the consent of the first Muslim wife be secured. Thus, if
the first wife is not a Muslim, there is no necessity to secure her consent (TSN, October
9, 2006, pages 2-12).

During his cross-examinations, he declared that if a Muslim convert gets married not in
accordance with the Muslim faith, the same is contrary to the teachings of the Muslim
faith. A Muslim also can marry up to four times but he should be able to treat them
equally. He claimed that he was not aware of the first marriage but was aware of the
second. Since his second marriage with Rowena P. Geraldino was not in accordance
with the Muslim faith, he advised Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. to re-marry Rowena
P. Geraldino in accordance with Muslim marriage celebration, otherwise, he will not be
considered as a true Muslim (TSN, June 25, 2007, pages 3-7).

Accused Rowena P. Geraldino alleged that she was only a victim in this incident of
bigamous marriage. She claimed that she does not know the private
complainant Jesusa Pinat Nolloraand only came to know her when this case was filed.
She insists that she is the one lawfully married to Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., having been
married to the latter since December 8, 2001. Upon learning that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.
contracted a first marriage with the private complainant, she confronted the former who
admitted the said marriage. Prior to their marriage, she asked Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. if
he was single and the latter responded that he was single. She also knew that her
husband was a Catholic prior to their marriage but after she learned of the first marriage
of her husband, she learned that he is a Muslim convert. She also claimed that after
learning that her husband was a Muslim convert, she and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., also
got married in accordance with the Muslim rites. She also belied the allegations of the
private complainant that she was sought by the private complainant and that they had a
confrontation where she admitted that she knew that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. was married
to the private complainant and despite this knowledge, she went on to marry him
because she loved him very much. She insisted that she only came to know the private
complainant when she (private complainant) filed this case (TSN, August 14, 2007,
pages 2-8).5

The Trial Courts Ruling

In its Decision6 dated 19 November 2007, the trial court convicted Nollora and acquitted Geraldino.

The trial court stated that there are only two exceptions to prosecution for bigamy: Article 41 7 of the
Family Code, or Executive Order No. 209, and Article 1808 of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of
the Philippines, or Presidential Decree No. 1083. The trial court also cited Article 27 of the Code of
Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, which provides the qualifications for allowing Muslim men to
have more than one wife: [N]o Muslim male can have more than one wife unless he can deal with
them in equal companionship and just treatment as enjoined by Islamic Law and only in exceptional
cases.

In convicting Nollora, the trial courts Decision further stated thus:

The principle in Islam is that monogamy is the general rule and polygamy is allowed only to meet
urgent needs. Only with the permission of the court can a Muslim be permitted to have a second wife
subject to certain requirements. This is because having plurality of wives is merely tolerated, not
encouraged, under certain circumstances (Muslim Law on Personal Status in the Philippines
by Amer M. Bara-acal and Abdulmajid J. Astir, 1998 First Edition, Pages 64-65). Arbitration is
necessary. Any Muslim husband desiring to contract subsequent marriages, before so doing, shall
notify the Sharia Circuit Court of the place where his family resides. The clerk of court shall serve a
copy thereof to the wife or wives. Should any of them objects [sic]; an Agama Arbitration Council shall
be constituted. If said council fails to secure the wifes consent to the proposed marriage, the Court
shall, subject to Article 27, decide whether on [sic] not to sustain her objection (Art. 162, Muslim
Personal Laws of the Philippines).
Accused Atilano Nollora, Jr., in marrying his second wife, co-accused Rowena P. Geraldino, did not
comply with the above-mentioned provision of the law. In fact, he did not even declare that he was a
Muslim convert in both marriages, indicating his criminal intent. In his converting to the Muslim faith,
said accused entertained the mistaken belief that he can just marry anybody again after marrying the
private complainant. What is clear, therefore, is [that] a Muslim is not given an unbridled right to just
marry anybody the second, third or fourth time. There are requirements that the Sharia law imposes,
that is, he should have notified the Sharia Court where his family resides so that copy of said notice
should be furnished to the first wife. The argument that notice to the first wife is not required since she
is not a Muslim is of no moment. This obligation to notify the said court rests upon
accused Atilano Nollora, Jr. It is not for him to interpret the Sharia law. It is the Sharia Court that has
this authority.

In an apparent attempt to escape criminal liability, the accused recelebrated their marriage in
accordance with the Muslim rites. However, this can no longer cure the criminal liability that has
already been violated.

The Court, however, finds criminal liability on the person of accused Atilano Nollora, Jr., only. There is
no sufficient evidence that would pin accused Rowena P. Geraldino down. The evidence presented
by the prosecution against her is the allegation that she knew of the first marriage between private
complainant and Atilano Nollora, Jr., is insufficient[,] being open to several interpretations. Private
complainant alleged that when she was brought by Atilano Nollora, Jr., to the latters house in Taguig,
Metro Manila, Rowena P. Geraldino was there standing near the door and heard their conversation.
From this incident, private complainant concluded that said Rowena P. Geraldino was aware that she
and Atilano Nollora, Jr., were married. This conclusion is obviously misplaced since it could not be
reasonably presumed that Rowena P. Geraldino understands what was going on between her
and Atilano Nollora, Jr. It is axiomatic that (E)verycircumstance favoring accuseds innocence must be
taken into account, proof against him must survive the test of reason and the strongest suspicion
must not be permitted to sway judgment (People vs. Austria, 195 SCRA 700). This Court, therefore,
has to acquit Rowena P. Geraldino for failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable
doubt.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered, as follows:

a) Finding accused ATILANO O. NOLLORA, JR. guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
Bigamy punishable under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. This court hereby renders judgment
imposing upon him a prison term of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day
of prision correccional, as minimum of his indeterminate sentence, to eight (8) years and one (1) day
of prision mayor, as maximum, plus accessory penalties provided by law.

b) Acquitting accused ROWENA P. GERALDINO of the crime of Bigamy for failure of the prosecution
to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Costs against accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.

SO ORDERED.9

Nollora filed a notice of appeal and moved for the allowance of his temporary liberty under the same
bail bond pending appeal. The trial court granted Nolloras motion.

Nollora filed a brief with the appellate court and assigned only one error of the trial court:

The trial court gravely erred in finding the accused-appellant guilty of the crime charged despite the
prosecutions failure to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. 10

The Appellate Courts Ruling

On 30 September 2009, the appellate court dismissed Nolloras appeal and affirmed the trial courts
decision.11

The appellate court rejected Nolloras defense that his second marriage to Geraldino was in lawful
exercise of his Islamic religion and was allowed by the Quran. The appellate court
denied Nolloras invocation of his religious beliefs and practices to the prejudice of the non-Muslim
women who married him pursuant to Philippine civil laws. Nolloras two marriages were not conducted
in accordance with the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, hence the Family Code of the Philippines
should apply. Nolloras claim of religious freedom will not immobilize the State and render it impotent
in protecting the general welfare.

In a Resolution12 dated 23 February 2010, the appellate court denied Nolloras motion for
reconsideration. The allegations in the motion for reconsideration were a mere rehash
of Nolloras earlier arguments, and there was no reason for the appellate court to modify its 30
September 2009 Decision.
Nollora filed the present petition for review before this Court on 6 April 2010.

The Issue

The issue in this case is whether Nollora is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy.

The Courts Ruling

Nolloras petition has no merit. We affirm the rulings of the appellate court and of the trial court.

Elements of Bigamy

Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code provides:

Art. 349. Bigamy. The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall
contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or
before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered
in the proper proceedings.

The elements of the crime of bigamy are:

1. That the offender has been legally married.

2. That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent
spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code.

3. That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage.

4. That the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.13
The circumstances in the present case satisfy all the elements of bigamy. (1) Nollora is legally
married to Pinat;14 (2) Nollora and Pinats marriage has not been legally dissolved prior to the date of
the second marriage; (3) Nollora admitted the existence of his second marriage to Geraldino; 15 and
(4) Nollora and Geraldinos marriage has all the essential requisites for validity except for the lack of
capacity of Nollora due to his prior marriage.16

The marriage certificate17 of Nollora and Pinats marriage states that Nollora and Pinat were married
at Sapang Palay IEMELIF Church, Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan on 6 April 1999. Rev.
Jonathan De Mesa, Minister of the IEMELIF Church officiated the ceremony. The marriage
certificate18 of Nollora and Geraldinos marriage states that Nollora and Geraldino were married at
Maxs Restaurant, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, Metro Manila on 8 December 2001.
Rev. Honorato D. Santos officiated the ceremony.

A certification dated 4 November 2003 from the Office of the Civil Registrar General reads:

We certify that ATILANO JR O. NOLLORA who is alleged to have been born on February 22, 1968
from ATILANO M. NOLLORA SR and FLAVIANA OCLARIT, appears in our National Indices of
Marriage for Groom for the years 1973 to 2002 with the following information:

Date of Marriage Place of Marriage


a) April 06, 1999 b) SAN JOSE DEL MONTE,
BULACAN
a) December 08, 2001 b) QUEZON CITY, METRO
MANILA (2nd District)19

Before the trial and appellate courts, Nollora put up his Muslim religion as his sole defense. He
alleged that his religion allows him to marry more than once. Granting arguendo that Nollora is indeed
of Muslim faith at the time of celebration of both marriages, 20 Nollora cannot deny that both marriage
ceremonies were not conducted in accordance with the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, or
Presidential Decree No. 1083. The applicable Articles in the Code of Muslim Personal Laws read:

Art. 14. Nature. - Marriage is not only a civil contract but a civil institution. Its nature, consequences
and incidents are governed by this Code and the Sharia and not subject to stipulation, except that the
marriage settlements to a certain extent fix the property relations of the spouses.
Art. 15. Essential Requisites. - No marriage contract shall be perfected unless the following essential
requisites are complied with:

(a) Legal capacity of the contracting parties;

(b) Mutual consent of the parties freely given;

(c) Offer (ijab) and acceptance (qabul) duly witnessed by at least two competent persons after the
proper guardian in marriage (wali) has given his consent; and

(d) Stipulation of the customary dower (mahr) duly witnessed by two competent persons.

Art. 16. Capacity to contract marriage. - (1) Any Muslim male at least fifteen years of age and any
Muslim female of the age of puberty or upwards and not suffering from any impediment under the
provisions of this Code may contract marriage. A female is presumed to have attained puberty upon
reaching the age of fifteen.

x x x.

Art. 17. Marriage Ceremony. - No particular form of marriage ceremony is required but the ijab and
the qabul in marriage shall be declared publicly in the presence of the person solemnizing the
marriage and the two competent witnesses. The declaration shall be set forth in an instrument in
triplicate, signed or marked by the contracting parties and said witnesses, and attested by the person
solemnizing the marriage. One copy shall be given to the contracting parties and another sent to the
Circuit Registrar by the solemnizing officer who shall keep the third.

Art. 18. Authority to solemnize marriage. - Marriage maybe solemnized:

(a) By the proper wali by the woman to be wedded;

(b) Upon the authority of the proper wali, by any person who is competent under Muslim law to
solemnize marriage; or

(c) By the judge of the Sharia District Court or Sharia Circuit Court or any person designated by the
judge, should the proper wali refuse without justifiable reason, to authorize the solemnization.

Art. 19. Place of solemnization. - Marriage shall be solemnized publicly in any mosque, office of
the Sharia judge, office of the Circuit Registrar, residence of the bride or her wali, or at any other
suitable place agreed upon by the parties.
Art. 20. Specification of dower. - The amount or value of dower may be fixed by the contracting
parties (mahr-musamma) before, during or after the celebration of marriage. If the amount or the
value thereof has not been so fixed, a proper dower (mahr-mithl) shall, upon petition of the wife, be
determined by the court according to the social standing of the parties.

Indeed, Article 13(2) of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws states that [i]n case of a marriage between
a Muslim and a non-Muslim, solemnized not in accordance with Muslim law or this Code, the [Family
Code of the Philippines, or Executive Order No. 209, in lieu of the Civil Code of the Philippines] shall
apply. Nolloras religious affiliation is not an issue here. Neither is the claim that Nolloras marriages
were solemnized according to Muslim law. Thus, regardless of his professed religion, Nollora cannot
claim exemption from liability for the crime of bigamy. 21

Nollora asserted in his marriage certificate with Geraldino that his civil status is single. Moreover, both
of Nolloras marriage contracts do not state that he is a Muslim. Although the truth or falsehood of the
declaration of ones religion in the marriage certificate is not an essential requirement for marriage,
such omissions are sufficient proofs of Nolloras liability for bigamy. Nolloras false declaration about
his civil status is thus further compounded by these omissions.

[ATTY. CALDINO:]

Q: In your marriage contract, Mr. Witness, with Jesusa Pinat, you indicated here as your religion,
Catholic Pentecostal, and you were saying that since January 10, 1992, you are already a
[M]uslim convert. . . you said, Mr. Witness, that you are already a [M]uslim convert since January 10,
1992. However, in your marriage contract with Jesusa Pinat, there is no indication here that you have
indicated your religion. Will you please go over your marriage contract?

[NOLLORA:]

A: When we got married, they just placed there Catholic but I didnt know why they did not place any
Catholic there.

xxx

Q: Now, Mr. Witness, I would like to call your attention with respect to your marriage contract with
your co-accused in this case, Rowena Geraldino, x x x will you please tell us, Mr. Witness,
considering that you said that you are already a [M]uslim convert on January 10, 1992, why in the
marriage contract with Rowena Geraldino, you indicated there your religion as Catholic, Mr. Witness?
A: Since I was a former Catholic and since I was then keeping, I was keeping it as a secret my being
my Balik-Islam, thats why I placed there Catholic since I know that the society doesnt approve a
Catholic to marry another, thats why I placed there Catholic as my religion, sir.

Q: How about under the column, civil status, why did you indicate there that youre single, Mr.
Witness?

A: I also kept it as a secret that I was married, earlier married. 22 (Emphasis supplied)

xxx

[PROSECUTOR TAYLOR:]

Q: Would you die for your new religion, Mr. Nollora?

A: Yes, maam.

Q: If you would die for your new religion, why did you allow that your faith be indicated as Catholic
when in fact you were already as you alleged [M]uslim to be put in your marriage contract?

xxx

[A:] I dont think there is anything wrong with it, I just signed it so we can get married under the
Catholic rights [sic] because after that we even got married under the [M]uslim rights [sic], your
Honor.

xxx

Q: Under your Muslim faith, if you marry a second wife, are you required under your faith to secure
the permission of your first wife to get married?
A: Yes, maam.

Q: Did you secure that permission from your first wife, Jesusa Nollora?

A: I was not able to ask any permission from her because she was very mad at me, at the start, she
was always very mad, maam.23

In his petition before this Court, Nollora casts doubt on the validity of his marriage
to Geraldino. Nollora may not impugn his marriage to Geraldino in order to extricate himself from
criminal liability; otherwise, we would be opening the doors to allowing the solemnization of multiple
flawed marriage ceremonies. As we stated in Tenebro v. Court of Appeals:24

There is therefore a recognition written into the law itself that such a marriage, although void ab initio,
may still produce legal consequences. Among these legal consequences is incurring criminal liability
for bigamy. To hold otherwise would render the States penal laws on bigamy completely nugatory,
and allow individuals to deliberately ensure that each marital contract be flawed in some manner, and
to thus escape the consequences of contracting multiple marriages, while beguiling throngs of
hapless women with the promise of futurity and commitment.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
31538 promulgated on 30 September 2009 and the Resolution promulgated on 23 February 2010
are AFFIRMED. Petitioner Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Bigamy in
Criminal Case No. Q-04-129031 and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment with a term of
two years, four months and one day of prision correccional as minimum to eight years and one day
of prision mayor as maximum of his indeterminate sentence, as well as the accessory penalties
provided by law.

Costs against petitioner Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 198780 October 16, 2013

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
LIBERTY D. ALBIOS, Respondent.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

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 Court, Imus, Cavite (RTC). declaring the marriage of Daniel
Lee Fringer (Fringer) and respondent Liberty Albios (A/bios) as void from the beginning.

The facts

On October 22, 2004, Fringer, an American citizen, and Albios were married before Judge Ofelia I.
Calo of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch59, Mandaluyong City (MeTC), as evidenced by a
Certificate of Marriage with Register No. 2004-1588.3

On December 6, 2006, Albios filed with the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity 4 of her marriage
with Fringer. She alleged that immediately after their marriage, they separated and never lived as
husband and wife because they never really had 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 .

Summons was served on Fringer but he did not file his answer. On September 13, 2007, Albios filed
a motion to set case for pre-trial and to admit her pre-trial brief. The RTC ordered the Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor to conduct an investigation and determine the existence of a collusion. On
October 2, 2007, the Assistant Prosecutor complied and reported that she could not make a
determination for failure of both parties to appear at the scheduled investigation.

At the pre-trial, only Albios, her counsel and the prosecutor appeared. Fringer did not attend the
hearing despite being duly notified of the schedule. After the pre-trial, hearing on the merits ensued.

Ruling of the RTC

In its April 25, 2008 Decision,5 the RTC declared the marriage void ab initio, the dispositive portion of
which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the marriage of Liberty
Albios and Daniel Lee Fringer as void from the very beginning. 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.

xxxx

SO ORDERED.6

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 enter into a marriage to enable her
to acquire American citizenship; that in consideration thereof, she agreed to pay him the sum of
$2,000.00; that after the 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. The RTC, thus, ruled that when
marriage was entered into for a purpose other than the establishment of a conjugal and family life,
such was a farce and should not be recognized from its inception.

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 marriage was declared void because the parties failed to freely
give their consent to the marriage as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and used it only
as a means to acquire American citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00.

Not in conformity, the OSG filed an appeal before the CA.

Ruling of the CA

In its assailed decision, dated September 29, 2011, the CA affirmed the RTC ruling 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 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 intended to live as husband and wife or build a family. It concluded that their purpose was
primarily for personal gain, that is, for Albios to obtain foreign citizenship, and for Fringer, the
consideration of $2,000.00.

Hence, this petition.

Assignment of Error
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAWWHEN IT HELD THAT A
MARRIAGE CONTRACTED FOR THEPURPOSE OF OBTAINING FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP WAS
DONEIN JEST, HENCE, LACKING IN THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OFCONSENT.8

The OSG argues that albeit the intention was for Albios to acquire American 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 and knew the benefits and consequences of being bound by
it. According to the OSG, consent should be distinguished from motive, the latter being
inconsequential to the validity of marriage.

The OSG also argues that the present case does not fall within the concept of a marriage in jest. The
parties here intentionally consented to enter into a real and valid marriage, for if it were otherwise, the
purpose of Albios to acquire American citizenship would be rendered futile.

On October 29, 2012, Albios filed her Comment 9 to the petition, reiterating her stand that her
marriage was similar to a marriage by way of jest and, therefore, void from the beginning.

On March 22, 2013, the OSG filed its Reply10 reiterating its arguments in its petition for review on
certiorari.

Ruling of the Court

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 of $2,000.00, void ab initio on the ground
of lack of consent?

The Court resolves in the negative.

Before the Court delves into its ruling, It shall first examine the phenomenon of marriage fraud for the
purposes of immigration.

Marriage Fraud in Immigration

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 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 purpose" marriages.11 A common limited purpose marriage is one entered into
solely for the legitimization of a child.12 Another, which is the subject of the present 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 those who use marriage solely to achieve
immigration status.14

In 1975, the seminal case of Bark v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 15 established the
principal test for determining the presence of marriage fraud in immigration cases. It ruled that a
"marriage is a sham if the bride and 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
Amendment of 1986 (IMFA), which now requires the couple to instead demonstrate that the marriage
was not "entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States." The
focus, thus, shifted from 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 the legal validity or existence of a
marriage.
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 existent. The early cases on limited purpose
marriages in the United States made no definitive ruling. In 1946, the notable case of

United States v. Rubenstein17 was promulgated, wherein in order to allow an alien to stay in the
country, the parties had agreed to marry but not to live together and to obtain a divorce within six
months. The Court, through Judge Learned Hand, ruled that a marriage to convert temporary into
permanent permission to stay in the country was not a marriage, there being no consent, to wit:

x x x But, that aside, Spitz and Sandler were never married at all. Mutual consent is necessary to
every contract; and no matter what forms or ceremonies the parties may go through indicating the
contrary, they do not contract if they do not in fact assent, which may always be proved. x x x
Marriage is no exception to this rule: a marriage in jest is not a marriage at all. x x x It is quite true that
a marriage without subsequent consummation will be valid; but if the spouses agree to a marriage
only 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 deceive, they have never really agreed to
be married at all. They must assent to enter into the relation as it is ordinarily understood, and it is not
ordinarily understood as merely a pretence, or cover, to deceive others.18

(Italics supplied)

On the other end of the spectrum is the 1969 case of Mpiliris v. Hellenic Lines, 19 which declared as
valid a marriage entered into solely for the husband to gain entry to the United States, stating that a
valid marriage could not be avoided "merely because the marriage was entered into for a limited
purpose."20 The 1980 immigration case of Matter of McKee, 21 further recognized that a fraudulent or
sham marriage was intrinsically different from a non subsisting one.

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 courts have generally denied annulments involving" limited
purpose" marriages where a couple married only to achieve a particular purpose, and have upheld
such marriages as valid.23

The Court now turns to the case at hand.

Respondents marriage not void

In declaring the respondents marriage void, the RTC ruled that when a marriage was entered into for
a purpose other than the establishment of a conjugal and family life, such was a farce and should not
be recognized from its inception. In its resolution denying the OSGs motion for reconsideration, the
RTC went on to explain that the marriage was declared void because the parties failed to freely give
their consent to the marriage as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and 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 lacking. It held that the parties clearly did not understand the
nature and consequence of getting married. As in the Rubenstein case, the CA found the marriage to
be similar to a marriage in jest considering that the parties only entered into the marriage for the
acquisition of American citizenship in exchange of $2,000.00. They never intended to enter into a
marriage contract and never intended to live as husband and wife or build a family.

The CAs assailed decision was, therefore, grounded on the parties supposed lack of consent. Under
Article 2 of the Family Code, consent is an essential requisite of marriage. Article 4 of the same Code
provides that the absence of any essential requisite shall render a marriage void ab initio.
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 that the contracting parties willingly and
deliberately enter into the marriage. Consent must be real in the sense that it is not vitiated nor
rendered defective by any of the vices of consent under Articles45 and 46 of the Family Code, such
as fraud, force, intimidation, and undue influence. 24Consent must also be conscious or intelligent, in
that the parties must be capable of intelligently understanding the 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

Based on the above, consent was not lacking between Albios and Fringer. In fact, there was real
consent because it was not vitiated nor rendered defective by any vice of consent. Their consent was
also conscious and intelligent as they 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 citizenship through
marriage. Such plainly demonstrates that they willingly and deliberately contracted the marriage.
There was a clear intention to enter into a 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
legal tie that would be created between them, since it was that precise legal tie which was necessary
to accomplish their goal.

In ruling that Albios marriage was void for lack of consent, the CA characterized such as akin to a
marriage by way of jest. A marriage in jest is a pretended marriage, legal in form but entered into as a
joke, with no real intention of entering into the actual marriage status, and with a clear understanding
that the parties 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 be real and with no
intention to create any legal ties whatsoever, hence, the absence of any genuine consent. Marriages
in jest are void ab initio, not for vitiated, defective, or unintelligent consent, but for a complete
absence of consent. There is no genuine consent because the parties have absolutely no intention of
being bound in any way or for any purpose.

The respondents marriage is not at all analogous to a marriage in jest.1wphi1 Albios and Fringer
had an undeniable intention to be bound in order to create the very bond necessary to allow the
respondent to acquire American citizenship. Only a genuine consent to be married would allow them
to further their objective, considering that only a valid marriage can properly support an application for
citizenship. There was, thus, an apparent intention to enter into the actual marriage status and to
create a legal tie, albeit for a limited purpose. Genuine consent was, therefore, clearly present.

The avowed purpose of marriage under Article 1 of the Family Code is for the 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, insufficient to nullify a marriage freely entered into in accordance
with law. The same Article 1 provides that the nature, consequences, and incidents of marriage are
governed by law and not subject to stipulation. A marriage may, thus, only be declared void or
voidable under the grounds provided by law. There is no law that declares a marriage void if it is
entered into for purposes other than what the Constitution or law declares, such as the acquisition of
foreign citizenship. Therefore, so long as all the essential and formal requisites prescribed by law are
present, and it is not void or voidable under the grounds provided by law, it shall be declared valid. 28

Motives for entering into a marriage are varied and complex. The State does not and cannot dictate
on the kind of life that a couple chooses to lead. Any attempt to regulate their lifestyle would go into
the realm of their right to privacy and would raise serious constitutional questions. 29 The right to
marital privacy allows married couples to structure their marriages in almost any way they see fit, to
live together 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 convenience,
companionship, money, status, and title, provided that they comply with all the legal requisites, 31are
equally valid. Love, though the ideal consideration in a marriage contract, is not the only valid cause
for marriage. Other considerations, not precluded by law, may validly support a marriage.

Although the Court views with disdain the respondents attempt to utilize marriage for dishonest
purposes, It cannot declare the marriage void. Hence, though the respondents marriage may be
considered a sham or fraudulent for the purposes of immigration, it is not void ab initio and continues
to be valid and subsisting.

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 same Code may constitute fraud,
namely, (1) non- disclosure of a previous conv1ctwn involving moral turpitude; (2) concealment by the
wife of a pregnancy by another man; (3) concealment of a sexually transmitted disease; and (4)
concealment of drug addiction, alcoholism, or homosexuality. No other misrepresentation or deceit
shall constitute fraud as a ground for an action to annul a marriage. Entering into a marriage for the
sole purpose of evading immigration laws does not qualify under any of the listed circumstances.
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 Albios and Fringer both conspired to
enter into the sham marriage.

Albios has indeed made a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage. Allowing her marriage with
Fringer to be declared void would only further trivialize this inviolable institution. The Court cannot
declare such a marriage void in the event the parties fail to qualify for immigration benefits, after they
have availed of its benefits, or simply have no further use for it. These unscrupulous individuals
cannot be allowed to use the courts as instruments in their fraudulent schemes. Albios already
misused a judicial institution to enter into a marriage of convenience; she should not be allowed to
again abuse it to get herself out of an inconvenient situation.

No less than our Constitution declares that marriage, as an in violable social institution, is the
foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State. 32 It must, therefore, be safeguarded from
the whims and caprices of the contracting parties. This Court cannot leave the impression that
marriage may easily be entered into when it suits the needs of the parties, and just as easily nullified
when no longer needed.

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.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 183896 January 30, 2013

SYED AZHAR ABBAS, Petitioner,


vs.
GLORIA GOO ABBAS, Respondent.

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:


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, 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, Pasay City, and the CA Resolution dated July 24, 2008,
denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of the CA Decision.

The present case stems from a petition filed by petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas (Syed) for the
declaration of nullity of his marriage to Gloria Goo-Abbas (Gloria) with the 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 Article 4, Chapter I, Title 1 of Executive Order No. 269,
otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines, as a ground for the annulment of his
marriage to Gloria.

In the Marriage Contract3 of Gloria and Syed, it is stated that Marriage License No. 9969967, issued
at Carmona, Cavite on January 8, 1993, was presented to the solemnizing officer. It is this
information that is crucial to the resolution of this case.

At the trial court, Syed, a Pakistani citizen, testified that he met Gloria, a Filipino citizen, in Taiwan in
1991, and they were married on August 9, 1992 at the Taipei Mosque in Taiwan. 4 He arrived in the
Philippines in December of 1992. On January 9, 1993, at around 5 oclock in the afternoon, he was at
his mother-in-laws residence, located at 2676 F. Muoz St., Malate, Manila, when his mother-in-law
arrived with two men. He testified that he was told that he was going to undergo 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 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 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 contract wherein the marriage license
number could be found.5 The Municipal Civil Registrar, Leodivinia C. Encarnacion, issued a
certification on July 11, 2003 to the effect that the marriage license number appearing in the marriage
contract he submitted, Marriage License No. 9969967, was the number of another marriage license
issued to a certain Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan. 6 Said certification reads as follows:

11 July 2003

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

This is to certify as per Registry Records of Marriage License filed in this office, Marriage License No.
9969967 was issued in favor of MR. ARLINDO GETALADO and MISS MYRA MABILANGAN on
January 19, 1993.

No Marriage License appear [sic] to have been issued to MR. SYED AZHAR ABBAS and MISS
GLORIA F. GOO on January 8, 1993.

This certification is being issued to Mr. Syed Azhar Abbas for whatever legal purpose or intents it may
serve.7

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 Carmona, Cavite to get certification on
whether or not there was a marriage license on advice of his counsel.8
Petitioner also presented Norberto Bagsic (Bagsic), an employee of the Municipal Civil Registrar of
Carmona, Cavite. Bagsic appeared under a letter of authority from the Municipal Civil Registrar of
Carmona, Cavite, and brought documents pertaining to Marriage License No. 9969967, which was
issued to Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan on January 20, 1993. 9

Bagsic testified that their office issues serial numbers for marriage licenses and that the numbers are
issued chronologically.10 He testified that the certification dated July 11, 2003, was issued and signed
by Leodivina Encarnacion, Registrar of the Municipality of Carmona, Cavite, certifying that Marriage
License No. 9969967 was 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 9969967, to
any other person.11

For her part, Gloria testified on her own behalf, and presented Reverend Mario Dauz, Atty. Lorenzo
Sanchez, Felicitas Goo and May Ann Ceriola.

Reverend Mario Dauz (Rev. Dauz) testified that he was a minister of the Gospel and a barangay
captain, and that he is authorized to solemnize marriages within the Philippines. 12 He testified that he
solemnized the marriage of Syed Azhar Abbas and Gloria Goo at the residence of the bride on
January 9, 1993.13 He stated that the witnesses were Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez (Atty. Sanchez) and
Mary Ann Ceriola.14 He testified that he had been solemnizing marriages since 1982, and that he is
familiar with the requirements.15 Rev. Dauz further testified that Atty. Sanchez gave him the marriage
license the day before the actual wedding, and that the marriage contract was prepared by his
secretary.16 After the solemnization of the marriage, 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

Atty. Sanchez testified that he was asked to be the sponsor of the wedding of Syed Abbas and Gloria
Goo by the mother of the bride, Felicitas Goo. 18 He testified that he requested a certain Qualin to
secure the marriage license for the couple, and that this Qualin secured the license and gave the
same to him on January 8, 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 marriage
contract as sponsor, and witnessed the signing of the marriage contract by the couple, the
solemnizing officer and the other witness, Mary Ann Ceriola. 21

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, 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 for marriage license.23 Three days later, the same person went back to their house,
showed her the marriage license before returning it to Atty. Sanchez who then gave it to Rev. Dauz,
the solemnizing officer.24 She further testified that she did not read all of the contents of the marriage
license, and that she was told that the marriage license was obtained from Carmona. 25 She also
testified that a bigamy case had been filed by Gloria against Syed at the Regional Trial Court of
Manila, evidenced by an information for Bigamy dated January 10, 2003, pending before Branch 47
of the Regional Trial Court of Manila.26

As to Mary Ann Ceriolas testimony, the counsels for both parties stipulated that: (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 the persons depicted in said photos; and (c) her testimony
corroborates that of Felicitas Goo and Atty. Sanchez.
The respondent, Gloria, testified that Syed is her husband, and presented the marriage contract
bearing their signatures as proof.27 She and her mother sought the help of Atty. Sanchez in securing
a marriage license, and asked him to be one of the sponsors. A certain Qualin went to their house
and said that he will get the marriage license for them, and after several days returned with an
application for marriage license for them to sign, which she and Syed did. After Qualin returned with
the marriage license, they gave the license to Atty. Sanchez who gave it to Rev. Dauz, the
solemnizing officer. Gloria testified that she and Syed were married on January 9, 1993 at their
residence.28

Gloria further testified that she has a daughter with Syed, born on June 15, 1993. 29

Gloria also testified that she filed a bigamy case against Syed, who had married a certain Maria
Corazon Buenaventura during the existence of the previous marriage, and that the case was
docketed as Criminal Case No. 02A-03408, with the RTC of Manila.30

Gloria stated that she and Syed had already been married on August 9, 1992 in Taiwan, but that she
did not know if said marriage had been celebrated under Muslim rites, because the one who
celebrated their marriage was Chinese, and those around them at the time were Chinese. 31

The Ruling of the RTC

In its October 5, 2005 Decision, the Pasay City RTC held that no valid marriage license was issued
by the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite in favor of Gloria and Syed, as Marriage License
No. 9969967 had been issued to Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan, and the Municipal Civil
Registrar of Carmona, 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 Carmona, Cavite, the
place where Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued, in 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 is an absence of a formal requisite, the marriage of Gloria and Syed on
January 9, 1993 was void ab initio.

The dispositive portion of the Decision reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the petitioner, and against the respondent
declaring as follows:

1. The marriage on January 9, 1993 between petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas and respondent
Gloria Goo-Abbas is hereby annulled;

2. Terminating the community of property relations between the petitioner and the respondent
even if no property was acquired during their cohabitation by reason of the nullity of the
marriage of the parties.

3. The Local Civil Registrar of Manila and the Civil Registrar General, National Statistics Office,
are hereby ordered to cancel from their respective civil registries the marriage contracted by
petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas and respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas on January 9, 1993 in Manila.

SO ORDERED.34

Gloria filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated November 7, 2005, but the RTC denied the same,
prompting her to appeal the questioned decision to the Court of Appeals.
The Ruling of the CA

In her appeal to the CA, Gloria submitted the following assignment of errors:

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE


PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT AS NULL AND VOID DUE TO THE ABSENCE OF A
MARRIAGE LICENSE DESPITE EVIDENCE CLEARLY SHOWING THAT THERE WAS ONE.

II

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING, AS A REQUISITE OF A VALID


MARRIAGE, THE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT A MARRIAGE
CEREMONY TOOK PLACE WITH THE APPEARANCE OF THE CONTRACTING PARTIES
BEFORE THE SOLEMNIZING OFFICER AND THEIR PERSONAL DECLARATION THAT
THEY TOOK EACH OTHER AS HUSBAND AND WIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF NOT LESS
THAN TWO WITNESSES OF LEGAL AGE.

III

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING ON THE ISSUE OF ESTOPPEL BY LACHES
ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER, AN ISSUE TIMELY RAISED IN THE COURT
BELOW.35

The CA gave credence to Glorias arguments, and granted her appeal. It held that the certification of
the Municipal Civil Registrar failed to categorically state that a diligent search for the marriage license
of Gloria and Syed was conducted, and thus held that said certification could not be accorded
probative value.36 The CA ruled 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 laid
down by law.37

It gave weight to the fact that Syed had admitted to having signed the marriage contract. The CA also
considered that the parties had comported themselves as husband and wife, and that Syed only
instituted his petition after Gloria had filed a case against him for bigamy. 38

The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads as follows:

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 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 between Shed [sic] Azhar Abbas and Gloria Goo Abbas
contracted on 09 January 1993 remains valid and subsisting. No costs.

SO ORDERED.39

Syed then filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated April 1, 2008 40 but the same was denied by the
CA in a Resolution dated July 24, 2008.41

Hence, this petition.


Grounds in Support of Petition

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW IN


CITING REPUBLIC VS. COURT OF APPEALS AS THE SAME IS DIAMETRICALLY
INCONSISTENT AND CONTRARY TO THE COURTS OWN FINDINGS AND
CONCLUSIONS IN THIS CASE.

II

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN REVERSING AND


SETTING ASIDE, WITHOUT ANY FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASIS, THE DECISION OF THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT GRANTING THE PETITION FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY
OF MARRIAGE.42

The Ruling of this Court

The petition is meritorious.

As the marriage of Gloria and Syed was solemnized on January 9, 1993, Executive 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 35(3), which read as follows:

Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:

(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;

(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and

(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties
before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as
husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.

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).

A defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage voidable as provided in Article 45.

An irregularity in the formal requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the party or
parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and administratively liable.

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

xxxx

(3) Those solemnized without a license, except those covered by the preceding Chapter.

There is no issue with the essential requisites under Art. 2 of the Family Code, nor 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 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 had been
issued. The CA held that there was a valid marriage license.

We find the RTC to be correct in this instance.

Respondent Gloria failed to present the actual marriage license, or a copy thereof, 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 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 such license was issued. In the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals 43 such 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 the custody of an
official record or by his deputy that after diligent search, no record or entry of a specified tenor is
found to exist in the records of his office, accompanied by a certificate as above provided, is
admissible as evidence that the records of his office contain no such record or entry.

In the case of Republic, in allowing the certification of the Civil Registrar of Pasig to prove the non-
issuance of a marriage license, the Court held:

The above Rule authorized the custodian of the documents to certify that despite diligent search, a
particular document does not exist in his office or that a particular entry of a specified tenor was not to
be found in a register. As custodians of public documents, civil registrars are public officers charged
with the duty, inter alia, of maintaining a register book where they are required to enter all applications
for marriage licenses, including the names of the applicants, the date the marriage license was issued
and such other relevant data.44

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 issuance of a marriage license.

The Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, where the marriage license of Gloria and Syed was
allegedly issued, issued a certification to the effect that no such marriage license for Gloria and Syed
was issued, and that the serial number of the marriage license pertained to another couple, Arlindo
Getalado and Myra Mabilangan. A certified machine copy of Marriage License No. 9969967 was
presented, which was issued in Carmona, Cavite, and indeed, the names of Gloria and Syed do not
appear in the document.

In reversing the RTC, the CA focused on the wording of the certification, stating that it did not comply
with Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

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 appears to have been issued, no diligent
search had been conducted and thus the certification could not be given probative value.

To justify that deduction, the CA cited the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals. 45 It is worth noting
that in that particular case, the Court, in sustaining the finding of the lower court that a marriage
license was lacking, relied on the Certification issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig, which merely
stated that the alleged marriage license could not be located as the same did not appear in their
records. Nowhere in the Certification was it categorically stated that the officer involved conducted a
diligent search, nor is a categorical declaration absolutely necessary for Sec. 28, Rule 132 of the
Rules of Court to apply.
Under Sec. 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, it is a disputable presumption that an official duty
has been regularly performed, absent contradiction or other evidence to the contrary. We held, "The
presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or
failure to perform a duty."46 No such affirmative evidence was shown that the Municipal Civil Registrar
was lax in performing her duty of checking the records of their office, thus the presumption must
stand. In fact, proof does exist of a diligent search having been conducted, as Marriage License No.
996967 was indeed located and submitted to the court. The fact that the names in said license do not
correspond to those of Gloria and Syed does not overturn the presumption that the registrar
conducted a diligent search of the records of her office.

It is telling that Gloria failed to present their marriage license or a copy thereof to 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 existence of said license. Neither could the other witnesses she presented
prove the existence of the marriage license, as none of them applied for the license in Carmona,
Cavite. Her mother, Felicitas Goo, could not even testify as to the contents of the license, having
admitted to not reading all of its contents. Atty. Sanchez, one of the sponsors, whom Gloria and
Felicitas Goo approached for assistance in securing the license, admitted not knowing where the
license came 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 certification of the Municipal
Civil Registrar as well as the testimony of her representative. As Gloria failed to present this Qualin,
the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar still enjoys probative value.

It is also noted that the solemnizing officer testified that the marriage contract and a copy of the
marriage license were submitted to the Local Civil Registrar of Manila. 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, further weakening her claim that there was a valid marriage license
issued for her and Syed.

In the case of Cario v. Cario,47 following the case of Republic,48 it was held that the certification of
the Local Civil Registrar that their office had no record of a marriage license was adequate to prove
the non-issuance of said license. The case of Cario further held that the presumed validity of the
marriage of the parties had been overcome, and that it became the burden of the party alleging a
valid marriage to prove that the marriage was valid, and that the required marriage license had been
secured.49 Gloria has failed to discharge that burden, and the only conclusion that can be reached is
that no valid marriage license was issued. It cannot be said that there was a simple irregularity in the
marriage license that would not affect the validity of the marriage, as no license was presented by the
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 and Glorias failure to produce a copy
of the alleged marriage license.

To bolster its ruling, the CA cited other evidence to support its conclusion that Gloria and Syed were
validly married. To quote the CA:

Moreover, the record is replete with evidence, testimonial and documentary, that appellant and
appellee have been validly married and there was compliance with 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 appellee. The parties herein gave their consent freely. Appellee
admitted that the signature above his name in the marriage contract was his. Several pictures were
presented showing appellant and appellee, before the solemnizing officer, the witnesses and other
members of appellants family, taken during the marriage ceremony, as well as in the restaurant
where the lunch was held after the marriage ceremony. Most telling of all is Exhibit "5-C" which shows
appellee signing the Marriage Contract.

xxxx

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

All the evidence cited by the CA to show that a wedding ceremony was conducted and a marriage
contract was signed does not operate to cure the absence of a valid marriage license. Article 4 of the
Family Code is clear when it says, "The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall
render the marriage void ab initio, except as stated in Article 35(2)." Article 35(3) of the Family Code
also provides that a marriage solemnized without a license is void from the beginning, except those
exempt from the license requirement under Articles 27 to 34, Chapter 2, Title I of the same
Code.51 Again, this marriage cannot be characterized as among the exemptions, and thus, having
been solemnized without a marriage license, is void ab initio.1wphi1

As to the motive of Syed in seeking to annul his marriage to Gloria, it may well be 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 they had a valid marriage license, given the weight of
evidence presented by 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 marriage license,
a formal requisite, is clearly absent, the marriage of Gloria and Syed is void ab initio.

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed Decision
dated March 11, 2008 and Resolution dated July 24, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
86760 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
109, Pasay City dated October 5, 2005 in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM annulling the marriage of
petitioner with respondent on January 9, 1993 is hereby REINSTATED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 201061 July 3, 2013

SALLY GO-BANGAYAN, Petitioner,


vs.
BENJAMIN BANGAYAN, JR., Respondent.

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a petition for review1 assailing the 17 August 2011 Decision2 and the 14 March
2012 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 94226.

The Antecedent Facts

On 15 March 2004, Benjamin Bangayan, Jr. (Benjamin) filed a petition for declaration of a non-
existent marriage and/or declaration of nullity of marriage before the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 43 (trial court). The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 04109401. Benjamin alleged that on
10 September 1973, he married Azucena Alegre (Azucena) in Caloocan City. They had three
children, namely, Rizalyn, Emmamylin, and Benjamin III.

In 1979, Benjamin developed a romantic relationship with Sally GoBangayan (Sally) who was a
customer in the auto parts and supplies business owned by Benjamins family. In December 1981,
Azucena left for the United States of America. In February 1982, Benjamin and Sally lived together as
husband and wife. Sallys father was against the relationship. On 7 March 1982, in order to appease
her father, Sally brought Benjamin to an office in Santolan, Pasig City where they signed a purported
marriage contract. Sally, knowing Benjamins marital status, assured him that the marriage contract
would not be registered.

Benjamin and Sallys cohabitation produced two children, Bernice and Bentley. During the period of
their cohabitation, they acquired the following real properties:

(1) property under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 61722 registered in the names of
Benjamin and Sally as spouses;

(2) properties under TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860 registered in the name of Benjamin, married
to Sally;

(3) properties under Condominium Certificate of Title (CCT) Nos. 8782 and 8783 registered in
the name of Sally, married to Benjamin; and
(4) properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 registered in the name of Sally as a
single individual.

The relationship of Benjamin and Sally ended in 1994 when Sally left for Canada, bringing Bernice
and Bentley with her. She then filed criminal actions for bigamy and falsification of public documents
against Benjamin, using their simulated marriage contract as evidence. Benjamin, in turn, filed a
petition for declaration of a non-existent marriage and/or declaration of nullity of marriage before the
trial court on the ground that his marriage to Sally was bigamous and that it lacked the formal
requisites to a valid marriage. Benjamin also asked the trial court for the partition of the properties he
acquired with Sally in accordance with Article 148 of the Family Code, for his appointment as
administrator of the properties during the pendency of the case, and for the declaration of Bernice
and Bentley as illegitimate children. A total of 44 registered properties became the subject of the
partition before the trial court. Aside from the seven properties enumerated by Benjamin in his
petition, Sally named 37 properties in her answer.

After Benjamin presented his evidence, Sally filed a demurrer to evidence which the trial court denied.
Sally filed a motion for reconsideration which the trial court also denied. Sally filed a petition for
certiorari before the Court of Appeals and asked for the issuance of a temporary restraining order
and/or injunction which the Court of Appeals never issued. Sally then refused to present any evidence
before the trial court citing the pendency of her petition before the Court of Appeals. The trial court
gave Sally several opportunities to present her evidence on 28 February 2008, 10 July 2008, 4
September 2008, 11 September 2008, 2 October 2008, 23 October 2008, and 28 November 2008.
Despite repeated warnings from the trial court, Sally still refused to present her evidence, prompting
the trial court to consider the case submitted for decision.

The Decision of the Trial Court

In a Decision4 dated 26 March 2009, the trial court ruled in favor ofBenjamin. The trial court gave
weight to the certification dated 21 July 2004 from the Pasig Local Civil Registrar, which was
confirmed during trial, that only Marriage License Series Nos. 6648100 to 6648150 were issued for
the month of February 1982 and the purported Marriage License No. N-07568 was not issued to
Benjamin and Sally.5 The trial court ruled that the marriage was not recorded with the local civil
registrar and the National Statistics Office because it could not be registered due to Benjamins
subsisting marriage with Azucena.

The trial court ruled that the marriage between Benjamin and Sally was not bigamous. The trial court
ruled that the second marriage was void not because of the existence of the first marriage but
because of other causes, particularly, the lack of a marriage license. Hence, bigamy was not
committed in this case. The trial court did not rule on the issue of the legitimacy status of Bernice and
Bentley because they were not parties to the case. The trial court denied Sallys claim for spousal
support because she was not married to Benjamin. The trial court likewise denied support for Bernice
and Bentley who were both of legal age and did not ask for support.

On the issue of partition, the trial court ruled that Sally could not claim the 37 properties she named in
her answer as part of her conjugal properties with Benjamin. The trial court ruled that Sally was not
legally married to Benjamin. Further, the 37 properties that Sally was claiming were owned by
Benjamins parents who gave the properties to their children, including Benjamin, as advance
inheritance. The 37 titles were in the names of Benjamin and his brothers and the phrase "married to
Sally Go" was merely descriptive of Benjamins civil status in the title. As regards the two lots under
TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860, the trial court found that they were bought by Benjamin using his own
money and that Sally failed to prove any actual contribution of money, property or industry in their
purchase. The trial court found that Sally was a registered co-owner of the lots covered by TCT Nos.
61722, N-193656, and 253681 as well as the two condominium units under CCT Nos. 8782 and
8783. However, the trial court ruled that the lot under TCT No. 61722 and the two condominium units
were purchased from the earnings of Benjamin alone. The trial court ruled that the properties under
TCT Nos. 61722, 61720, and 190860 and CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 were part of the conjugal
partnership of Benjamin and Azucena, without prejudice to Benjamins right to dispute his conjugal
state with Azucena in a separate proceeding.

The trial court further ruled that Sally acted in bad faith because she knew that Benjamin was married
to Azucena. Applying Article 148 of the Family Code, the trial court forfeited Sallys share in the
properties covered under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 in favor of Bernice and Bentley while
Benjamins share reverted to his conjugal ownership with Azucena.

The dispositive portion of the trial courts decision reads:

ACCORDINGLY, the marriage of BENJAMIN BANGAYAN, JR. and SALLY S. GO on March 7, 1982
at Santolan, Pasig, Metro Manila is hereby declared NULL and VOID AB INITIO. It is further declared
NONEXISTENT.

Respondents claim as co-owner or conjugal owner of the thirtyseven (37) properties under TCT Nos.
17722, 17723, 17724, 17725, 126397, RT-73480, and RT-86821; in Manila, TCT Nos. 188949,
188950, 188951, 193035, 194620, 194621, 194622, 194623, 194624, 194625, 194626, 194627,
194628, 194629, 194630, 194631, 194632, 194633, 194634, 194635, 194636, 194637, 194638,
194639, 198651, 206209, 206210, 206211, 206213 and 206215 is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The
registered owners, namely: Benjamin B. Bangayan, Jr., Roberto E. Bangayan, Ricardo B. Bangayan
and Rodrigo B. Bangayan are the owners to the exclusion of "Sally Go" Consequently, the Registry of
Deeds for Quezon City and Manila are directed to delete the words "married to Sally Go" from these
thirty-seven (37) titles.

Properties under TCT Nos. 61722, 61720 and 190860, CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 are properties
acquired from petitioners money without contribution from respondent, hence, these are properties of
the petitioner and his lawful wife. Consequently, petitioner is appointed the administrator of these five
(5) properties. Respondent is ordered to submit an accounting of her collections of income from these
five (5) properties within thirty (30) days from notice hereof. Except for lot under TCT No. 61722,
respondent is further directed within thirty (30) days from notice hereof to turn over and surrender
control and possession of these properties including the documents of title to the petitioner.

On the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and N-253681, these properties are under co-ownership
of the parties shared by them equally. However, the share of respondent is declared FORFEITED in
favor of Bernice Go Bangayan and Bentley Go Bangayan. The share of the petitioner shall belong to
his conjugal ownership with Azucena Alegre. The liquidation, partition and distribution of these two (2)
properties shall be further processed pursuant to Section 21 of A.M. No. 02-11-10 of March 15, 2003.

Other properties shall be adjudicated in a later proceeding pursuant to Section 21 of A.M. No. 02-11-
10.

Respondents claim of spousal support, children support and counterclaims are DISMISSED for lack
of merit. Further, no declaration of the status of the parties children.

No other relief granted.

Furnish copy of this decision to the parties, their counsels, the Trial Prosecutor, the Solicitor General
and the Registry of Deeds in Manila, Quezon City and Caloocan.
SO ORDERED.6

Sally filed a Verified and Vigorous Motion for Inhibition with Motion for Reconsideration. In its Order
dated 27 August 2009,7 the trial court denied the motion. Sally appealed the trial courts decision
before the Court of Appeals.

The Decision of the Court of Appeals

In its 17 August 2011 Decision, the Court of Appeals partly granted the appeal. The Court of Appeals
ruled that the trial court did not err in submitting the case for decision. The Court of Appeals noted
that there were six resettings of the case, all made at the instance of Sally, for the initial reception of
evidence, and Sally was duly warned to present her evidence on the next hearing or the case would
be deemed submitted for decision. However, despite the warning, Sally still failed to present her
evidence. She insisted on presenting Benjamin who was not around and was not subpoenaed despite
the presence of her other witnesses.

The Court of Appeals rejected Sallys allegation that Benjamin failed to prove his action for
declaration of nullity of marriage. The Court of Appeals ruled that Benjamins action was based on his
prior marriage to Azucena and there was no evidence that the marriage was annulled or dissolved
before Benjamin contracted the second marriage with Sally. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial
court committed no error in declaring Benjamins marriage to Sally null and void.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the property relations of Benjamin and Sally was governed by Article
148 of the Family Code. The Court of Appeals ruled that only the properties acquired by the parties
through their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned by them in
common in proportion to their respective contribution. The Court of Appeals ruled that the 37
properties being claimed by Sally rightfully belong to Benjamin and his siblings.

As regards the seven properties claimed by both parties, the Court of Appeals ruled that only the
properties under TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860 registered in the name of Benjamin belong to him
exclusively because he was able to establish that they were acquired by him solely. The Court of

Appeals found that the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 and under CCT Nos. 8782
and 8783 were exclusive properties of Sally in the absence of proof of Benjamins actual contribution
in their purchase. The Court of Appeals ruled that the property under TCT No. 61722 registered in the
names of Benjamin and Sally shall be owned by them in common, to be shared equally. However, the
share of Benjamin shall accrue to the conjugal partnership under his existing marriage with Azucena
while Sallys share shall accrue to her in the absence of a clear and convincing proof of bad faith.

Finally, the Court of Appeals ruled that Sally failed to present clear and convincing evidence that
would show bias and prejudice on the part of the trial judge that would justify his inhibition from the
case.

The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. The assailed
Decision and Order dated March 26, 2009 and August 27, 2009, respectively, of the Regional Trial
Court of Manila, Branch 43, in Civil Case No. 04-109401 are hereby AFFIRMED with modification
declaring TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860 to be exclusively owned by the petitioner-appellee while the
properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 as well as CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 shall be solely
owned by the respondent-appellant. On the other hand, TCT No. 61722 shall be owned by them and
common and to be shared equally but the share of the petitioner-appellee shall accrue to the conjugal
partnership under his first marriage while the share of respondent-appellant shall accrue to her. The
rest of the decision stands.

SO ORDERED.8

Sally moved for the reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision. In its 14 March 2012
Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied her motion.

Hence, the petition before this Court.

The Issues

Sally raised the following issues before this Court:

(1) Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming the trial courts
ruling that Sally had waived her right to present evidence;

(2) Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming the trial courts
decision declaring the marriage between Benjamin and Sally null and void ab initio and non-
existent; and

(3) Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming with modification the
trial courts decision regarding the property relations of Benjamin and Sally.

The Ruling of this Court

The petition has no merit.

Waiver of Right to Present Evidence

Sally alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial courts ruling that she waived her
right to present her evidence. Sally alleges that in not allowing her to present evidence that she and
Benjamin were married, the trial court abandoned its duty to protect marriage as an inviolable
institution.

It is well-settled that a grant of a motion for continuance or postponement is not a matter of right but is
addressed to the discretion of the trial court. 9 In this case, Sallys presentation of evidence was
scheduled on28 February 2008. Thereafter, there were six resettings of the case: on 10 July 2008, 4
and 11 September 2008, 2 and 28 October 2008, and 28 November 2008. They were all made at
Sallys instance. Before the scheduled hearing of 28 November 2008, the trial court warned Sally that
in case she still failed to present her evidence, the case would be submitted for decision. On the date
of the scheduled hearing, despite the presence of other available witnesses, Sally insisted on
presenting Benjamin who was not even subpoenaed on that day. Sallys counsel insisted that the trial
court could not dictate on the priority of witnesses to be presented, disregarding the trial courts prior
warning due to the numerous resettings of the case. Sally could not complain that she had been
deprived of her right to present her evidence because all the postponements were at her instance and
she was warned by the trial court that it would submit the case for decision should she still fail to
present her evidence on 28 November 2008.

We agree with the trial court that by her continued refusal to present her evidence, she was deemed
to have waived her right to present them. As pointed out by the Court of Appeals, Sallys continued
failure to present her evidence despite the opportunities given by the trial court showed her lack of
interest to proceed with the case. Further, it was clear that Sally was delaying the case because she
was waiting for the decision of the Court of Appeals on her petition questioning the trial courts denial
of her demurrer to evidence, despite the fact that the Court of Appeals did not issue any temporary
restraining order as Sally prayed for. Sally could not accuse the trial court of failing to protect
marriage as an inviolable institution because the trial court also has the duty to ensure that trial
proceeds despite the deliberate delay and refusal to proceed by one of the parties.10

Validity of the Marriage between Benjamin and Sally

Sally alleges that both the trial court and the Court of Appeals recognized her marriage to Benjamin
because a marriage could not be nonexistent and, at the same time, null and void ab initio. Sally
further alleges that if she were allowed to present her evidence, she would have proven her marriage
to Benjamin. To prove her marriage to Benjamin, Sally asked this Court to consider that in acquiring
real properties, Benjamin listed her as his wife by declaring he was "married to" her; that Benjamin
was the informant in their childrens birth certificates where he stated that he was their father; and that
Benjamin introduced her to his family and friends as his wife. In contrast, Sally claims that there was
no real property registered in the names of Benjamin and Azucena. Sally further alleges that
Benjamin was not the informant in the birth certificates of his children with Azucena.

First, Benjamins marriage to Azucena on 10 September 1973 was duly established before the trial
court, evidenced by a certified true copy of their marriage contract. At the time Benjamin and Sally
entered into a purported marriage on 7 March 1982, the marriage between Benjamin and Azucena
was valid and subsisting.

On the purported marriage of Benjamin and Sally, Teresita Oliveros (Oliveros), Registration Officer II
of the Local Civil Registrar of Pasig City, testified that there was no valid marriage license issued to
Benjamin and Sally. Oliveros confirmed that only Marriage Licence Nos. 6648100 to 6648150 were
issued for the month of February 1982. Marriage License No. N-07568 did not match the series
issued for the month. Oliveros further testified that the local civil registrar of Pasig City did not issue
Marriage License No. N-07568 to Benjamin and Sally. The certification from the local civil registrar is
adequate to prove the non-issuance of a marriage license and absent any suspicious circumstance,
the certification enjoys probative value, being issued by the officer charged under the law to keep a
record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage license. 11 Clearly, if indeed Benjamin and
Sally entered into a marriage contract, the marriage was void from the beginning for lack of a
marriage license.12

It was also established before the trial court that the purported marriage between Benjamin and Sally
was not recorded with the local civil registrar and the National Statistics Office. The lack of record was
certified by Julieta B. Javier, Registration Officer IV of the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of the
Municipality of Pasig;13 Teresita R. Ignacio, Chief of the Archives Division of the Records
Management and Archives Office, National Commission for Culture and the Arts; 14 and Lourdes J.
Hufana, Director III, Civil Registration Department of the National Statistics Office. 15 The documentary
and testimonial evidence proved that there was no marriage between Benjamin and Sally. As pointed
out by the trial court, the marriage between Benjamin and Sally "was made only in jest" 16 and "a
simulated marriage, at the instance of Sally, intended to cover her up from expected social humiliation
coming from relatives, friends and the society especially from her parents seen as Chinese
conservatives."17 In short, it was a fictitious marriage.

The fact that Benjamin was the informant in the birth certificates of Bernice and Bentley was not a
proof of the marriage between Benjamin and Sally. This Court notes that Benjamin was the informant
in Bernices birth certificate which stated that Benjamin and Sally were married on 8 March
198218 while Sally was the informant in Bentleys birth certificate which also stated that Benjamin and
Sally were married on 8 March 1982.19 Benjamin and Sally were supposedly married on 7 March
1982 which did not match the dates reflected on the birth certificates.

We see no inconsistency in finding the marriage between Benjamin and Sally null and void ab initio
and, at the same time, non-existent. Under Article 35 of the Family Code, a marriage solemnized
without a license, except those covered by Article 34 where no license is necessary, "shall be void
from the beginning." In this case, the marriage between Benjamin and Sally was solemnized without a
license. It was duly established that no marriage license was issued to them and that Marriage
License No. N-07568 did not match the marriage license numbers issued by the local civil registrar of
Pasig City for the month of February 1982. The case clearly falls under Section 3 of Article 35 20 which
made their marriage void ab initio. The marriage between Benjamin and Sally was also non-existent.
Applying the general rules on void or inexistent contracts under Article 1409 of the Civil Code,
contracts which are absolutely simulated or fictitious are "inexistent and void from the
beginning."21 Thus, the Court of Appeals did not err in sustaining the trial courts ruling that the
marriage between Benjamin and Sally was null and void ab initio and non-existent.

Except for the modification in the distribution of properties, the Court of Appeals affirmed in all
aspects the trial courts decision and ruled that "the rest of the decision stands."22 While the Court of
Appeals did notdiscuss bigamous marriages, it can be gleaned from the dispositive portion of the
decision declaring that "the rest of the decision stands" that the Court of Appeals adopted the trial
courts discussion that the marriage between Benjamin and Sally is not bigamous.1wphi1 The trial
court stated:

On whether or not the parties marriage is bigamous under the concept of Article 349 of the Revised
Penal Code, the marriage is not bigamous. It is required that the first or former marriage shall not be
null and void. The marriage of the petitioner to Azucena shall be assumed as the one that is valid,
there being no evidence to the contrary and there is no trace of invalidity or irregularity on the face of
their marriage contract. However, if the second marriage was void not because of the existence of the
first marriage but for other causes such as lack of license, the crime of bigamy was not committed. In
People v. De Lara [CA, 51 O.G., 4079], it was held that what was committed was contracting
marriage against the provisions of laws not under Article 349 but Article 350 of the Revised Penal
Code. Concluding, the marriage of the parties is therefore not bigamous because there was no
marriage license. The daring and repeated stand of respondent that she is legally married to
petitioner cannot, in any instance, be sustained. Assuming that her marriage to petitioner has the
marriage license, yet the same would be bigamous, civilly or criminally as it would be invalidated by a
prior existing valid marriage of petitioner and Azucena. 23

For bigamy to exist, the second or subsequent marriage must have all the essential requisites for
validity except for the existence of a prior marriage. 24 In this case, there was really no subsequent
marriage. Benjamin and Sally just signed a purported marriage contract without a marriage license.
The supposed marriage was not recorded with the local civil registrar and the National Statistics
Office. In short, the marriage between Benjamin and Sally did not exist. They lived together and
represented themselves as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage.

Property Relations Between Benjamin and Sally

The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that the property relations of Benjamin and Sally is governed by
Article 148 of the Family Code which states:

Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article, only the properties acquired
by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be
owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence of proof to
the contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal. The same rule
and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit.

If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership shall accrue to
the absolute community of conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted
in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the manner provided
in the last paragraph of the preceding Article.

The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties are in bad faith.

Benjamin and Sally cohabitated without the benefit of marriage. Thus, only the properties acquired by
them through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in
common in proportion to their respective contributions. Thus, both the trial court and the Court of
Appeals correctly excluded the 37 properties being claimed by Sally which were given by Benjamins
father to his children as advance inheritance. Sallys Answer to the petition before the trial court even
admitted that "Benjamins late father himself conveyed a number of properties to his children and their
respective spouses which included Sally x x x."25

As regards the seven remaining properties, we rule that the decision of the Court of Appeals is more
in accord with the evidence on record. Only the property covered by TCT No. 61722 was registered in
the names of Benjamin and Sally as spouses.26 The properties under TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860
were in the name of Benjamin27 with the descriptive title "married to Sally." The property covered by
CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 were registered in the name of Sally28 with the descriptive title "married to
Benjamin" while the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 were registered in the name of
Sally as a single individual. We have ruled that the words "married to" preceding the name of a
spouse are merely descriptive of the civil status of the registered owner. 29 Such words do not prove
co-ownership. Without proof of actual contribution from either or both spouses, there can be no co-
ownership under Article 148 of the Family Code. 30

Inhibition of the Trial Judge

Sally questions the refusal of Judge Roy G. Gironella (Judge Gironella) to inhibit himself from hearing
the case. She cited the failure of Judge Gironella to accommodate her in presenting her evidence.
She further alleged that Judge Gironella practically labeled her as an opportunist in his decision,
showing his partiality against her and in favor of Benjamin.

We have ruled that the issue of voluntary inhibition is primarily a matter of conscience and sound
discretion on the part of the judge.31 To justify the call for inhibition, there must be extrinsic evidence
to establish bias, bad faith, malice, or corrupt purpose, in addition to palpable error which may be
inferred from the decision or order itself.32 In this case, we have sufficiently explained that Judge
Gironella did not err in submitting the case for decision because of Sallys continued refusal to
present her evidence.

We reviewed the decision of the trial court and while Judge Gironella may have used
uncomplimentary words in writing the decision, they are not enough to prove his prejudice against
Sally or show that he acted in bad faith in deciding the case that would justify the call for his voluntary
inhibition.

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the 17 August 2011 Decision and the 14 March 2012 Resolution of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 94226.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 187462, June 01, 2016 - RAQUEL G. KHO, Petitioner, v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
AND VERONICA B. KHO, Respondents.

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 187462, June 01, 2016

RAQUEL G. KHO, Petitioner, v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES AND VERONICA B.


KHO, Respondents.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

Challenged in the present petition for review on certiorari are the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the
Court of Appeals (CA), Cebu City dated March 30, 2006 and January 14, 2009, respectively, in CA-
GR. CV No. 69218. The assailed CA Decision reversed and set aside the Decision3 of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Borongan, Eastern Samar, Branch 2, in Civil Case No. 464, which ruled in
petitioner's favor in an action he filed for declaration of nullity of his marriage with private respondent,
while the CA Resolution denied petitioners' motion for reconsideration.

The present petition arose from a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage filed by herein
petitioner with the RTC of Oras, Eastern Samar. Pertinent portions of the Petition allege as follows:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

xxxx

3. Sometime in the afternoon of May 31, 1972, petitioner's parents summoned one Eusebio
Colongon, now deceased, then clerk in the office of the municipal treasurer, instructing said clerk to
arrange and prepare whatever necessary papers were required for the intended marriage between
petitioner and respondent supposedly to take place at around midnight of June 1, 1972 so as to
exclude the public from witnessing the marriage ceremony;

4. Petitioner and Respondent thereafter exchanged marital vows in a marriage ceremony which
actually took place at around 3:00 o'clock before dawn of June 1, 1972, on account that there was a
public dance held in the town plaza which is just situated adjacent to the church whereas the venue of
the wedding, and the dance only finished at around 2:00 o'clock of same early morning of June 1,
1972;

5. Petitioner has never gone to the office of the Local Civil Registrar to apply for marriage license and
had not seen much less signed any papers or documents in connection with the procurement of a
marriage license;

6. Considering the shortness of period from the time the aforenamed clerk of the treasurer's office
was told to obtain the pertinent papers in the afternoon of May 31, 1972 so required for the purpose
of the forthcoming marriage up to the moment the actual marriage was celebrated before dawn of
June 1, 1972, no marriage license therefore could have been validly issued, thereby rendering the
marriage solemnized on even date null and void for want of the most essential requisite;

7. For all intents and purposes, thus, Petitioner's and Respondent's marriage aforestated was
solemnized sans the required marriage license, hence, null and void from the beginning and neither
was it performed under circumstances exempting the requirement of such marriage license;

xxxx

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that after
due notice and hearing, judgment be rendered:

1. Declaring the contract of marriage between petitioner and respondent held on June 1, 1972, at
Arteche, Eastern Samar, null and void ab initio and of no legal effect;

x x x x4ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Among the pieces of evidence presented by petitioner is a Certification5 issued by the Municipal Civil
Registrar of Arteche, Eastern Samar which attested to the fact that the Office of the Local Civil
Registrar has neither record nor copy of a marriage license issued to petitioner and respondent with
respect to their marriage celebrated on June 1, 1972.

Respondent filed her Answer6 praying that the petition be outrightly dismissed for lack of cause of
action because there is no evidence to prove petitioner's allegation that their marriage was celebrated
without the requisite marriage license and that, on the contrary, both petitioner and respondent
personally appeared before the local civil registrar and secured a marriage license which they
presented before their marriage was solemnized.

Upon petitioner's request, the venue of the action was subsequently transferred to the RTC of
Borongan, Eastern Samar, Branch 2, where the parties submitted their respective pleadings as well
as affidavits of witnesses.

On September 25, 2000, the RTC rendered its Decision granting the petition. The dispositive portion
of the said Decision reads:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court hereby declares the marriage contracted between
Raquel G. Kho and Veronica Borata on June 1, 1972 null and void ab initio, pursuant to Article 80 of
the Civil Code and Articles 4 and 5 of the Family Code. The foregoing is without prejudice to the
application of Articles 50 and 51 of the Family Code.

Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Municipal Civil Registrar of Arteche, Eastern Samar for
proper registration of this decree of nullity of marriage.

SO ORDERED.7ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
The RTC found that petitioner's evidence sufficiently established the absence of the requisite
marriage license when the marriage between petitioner and respondent was celebrated. As such, the
RTC ruled that based on Articles 53(4), 58 and 80(3) of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the absence
of the said marriage license rendered the marriage between petitioner and respondent null and
void ab initio.

Respondent then filed an appeal with the CA in Cebu City. On March 30, 2006, the CA promulgated
its assailed Decision, disposing thus:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated 25 September 2000 of Branch 2 of the
Regional Trial Court of Borongan, Eastern Samar, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The marriage
between the petitioner-appellee Raquel Kho and Veronica Kho is declared valid and subsisting for all
intents and purposes.

SO ORDERED.8ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
The CA held that since a marriage was, in fact, solemnized between the contending parties, there is a
presumption that a marriage license was issued for that purpose and that petitioner failed to
overcome such presumption. The CA also ruled that the absence of any indication in the marriage
certificate that a marriage license was issued is a mere defect in the formal requisites of the law
which does not invalidate the parties' marriage.

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration,9 but the CA denied it in its Resolution dated January 14,
2009.

Hence, the instant petition raising the following issues, to wit:


chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ASCRIBING A SO-
CALLED "ETHICAL DIMENSION" TO PETITIONER'S CAUSE, ALLUDING TO AN ALLEGED
LIAISON WITH ANOTHER WOMAN AS A FACTOR IN REVERSING THE JUDGMENT OF THE
LOWER COURT WHICH VOIDED HIS MARRIAGE IN QUESTION WITH RESPONDENT;

2. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPRECIATING


AGAINST PETITIONER THE FACT THAT DESPITE THE LAPSE OF 25 YEARS HE DID NOTHING
TO ATTACK, EVEN COLLATERALLY, HIS APPARENTLY VOID MARRIAGE WITH RESPONDENT;

3. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ALTOGETHER


DISREGARDING PETITIONER'S OBVIOUSLY OVERWHELMING DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCES
OF LACK OF MARRIAGE LICENSE AND GIVING WEIGHT INSTEAD TO UNSUPPORTED
PRESUMPTIONS IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENT, IN ITS ASSAILED DECISION; and

4 WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN SETTING ASIDE OR


REVERSING THE LOWER COURT'S JUDGMENT DECLARING THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN
PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT A NULLITY FOR ABSENCE OF THE REQUISITE MARRIAGE
LICENSE.10ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Petitioner's basic contention in the present petition centers on the alleged failure of the CA to give due
credence to petitioner's evidence which established the absence or lack of marriage license at the
time that petitioner and respondent's marriage was solemnized. Petitioner argues that the CA erred in
deciding the case not on the basis of law and evidence but rather on the ground of what the appellate
court calls as ethical considerations as well as on the perceived motive of petitioner in seeking the
declaration of nullity of his marriage with respondent.

The Court finds for the petitioner.

At the outset, the State, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), raises a procedural
question by arguing that the issues presented by petitioner in the present petition are factual in nature
and it is not proper for this Court to delve into these issues in a petition for review on certiorari.

The Court does not agree.

The issues in the instant petition involve a determination and application of existing law and prevailing
jurisprudence. However, intertwined with these issues is the question of the existence of the subject
marriage license, which is a question of fact and one which is not appropriate for a petition for review
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. This rule, nonetheless, is not without
exceptions, viz.:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises and conjectures;

(2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;

(3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion;

(4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts;

(5) When the findings of fact are conflicting;

(6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the
same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee;

(7) When the findings arc contrary to those of the trial court;

(8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are
based;

(9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners' main and reply briefs are not
disputed by the respondents; and

(10) When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the supposed absence of
evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record. 11ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
In the present case, the findings of the RTC and the CA, on whether or not there was indeed a
marriage license obtained by petitioner and respondent, are conflicting. Hence, it is but proper for this
Court to review these findings.

The marriage of petitioner and respondent was celebrated on June 1, 1972, prior to the effectivity of
the Family Code.12 Hence, the Civil Code governs their union. Accordingly, Article 53 of the Civil
Code spells out the essential requisites of marriage as a contract, to wit:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
ART 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied with:

(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties;

(2) Their consent, freely given;

(3) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and

(4) A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character. 13ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary


Article 58 of the Civil Code makes explicit that no marriage shall be solemnized without a license first
being issued by the local civil registrar of the municipality where either contracting party habitually
resides, save marriages of an exceptional character authorized by the Civil Code, but not those under
Article 75.14 Under the Civil Code, marriages of exceptional character are covered by Chapter 2, Title
111, comprising Articles 72 to 79. These marriages are: (1) marriages in articulo mortis or at the point
of death during peace or war; (2) marriages in remote places; (3) consular marriages; (4) ratification
of marital cohabitation; (5) religious ratification of a civil marriage; (6) Mohammedan or pagan
marriages; and (7) mixed marriages. Petitioner's and respondent's marriage does not fall under any of
these exceptions.

Article 80(3) of the Civil Code also makes it clear that a marriage performed without the
corresponding marriage license is void, this being nothing more than the legitimate consequence
flowing from the fact that the license is the essence of the marriage contract. 15 The rationale for the
compulsory character of a marriage license under the Civil Code is that it is the authority granted by
the State to the contracting parties, after the proper government official has inquired into their
capacity to contract marriage.16Stated differently, the requirement and issuance of a marriage license
is the State's demonstration of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in the maintenance
of which the general public is interested.17

In the instant case, respondent claims that she and petitioner were able to secure a marriage license
which they presented to the solemnizing officer before the marriage was performed.

The OSG, on its part, contends that the presumption is always in favor of the validity of marriage and
that any doubt should be resolved to sustain such validity. Indeed, this Court is mindful of this
principle as well as of the Constitutional policy which protects and strengthens the family as the basic
autonomous social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family.

On the other hand, petitioner insists that the Certification issued by the Civil Registrar of Arteche,
Eastern Samar, coupled with the testimony of the former Civil Registrar, is sufficient evidence to
prove the absence of the subject marriage license.

The Court agrees with petitioner and finds no doubt to be resolved as the evidence is clearly in his
favor.

Apropos is the case of Nicdao Cario v. Yee Cario.18 There, it was held that the certification of the
Local Civil Registrar, that their office had no record of a marriage license, was adequate to prove the
non-issuance of said license.19 It was further held that the presumed validity of the marriage of the
parties had been overcome, and that it became the burden of the party alleging a valid marriage to
prove that the marriage was valid, and that the required marriage license had been secured. 20
As stated above, petitioner was able to present a Certification issued by the Municipal Civil Registrar
of Arteche, Eastern Samar attesting that the Office of the Local Civil Registrar "has no record nor
copy of any marriage license ever issued in favor of Raquel G. Kho [petitioner] and Veronica M.
Borata [respondent] whose marriage was celebrated on June 1, 1972." 21 Thus, on the basis of such
Certification, the presumed validity of the marriage of petitioner and respondent has been overcome
and it becomes the burden of respondent to prove that their marriage is valid as it is she who alleges
such validity. As found by the RTC, respondent was not able to discharge that burden.

It is telling that respondent failed to present their alleged marriage license or a copy thereof to the
court. In addition, the Certificate of Marriage 22 issued by the officiating priest does not contain any
entry regarding the said marriage license. Respondent could have obtained a copy of their marriage
contract from the National Archives and Records Section, where information regarding the marriage
license, i.e., date of issuance and license number, could be obtained. However, she also failed to do
so. The Court also notes, with approval, the RTC's agreement with petitioner's observation that the
statements of the witnesses for respondent, as well as respondent herself, all attest to the fact that a
marriage ceremony was conducted but neither one of them testified that a marriage license was
issued in favor of petitioner and respondent. Indeed, despite respondent's categorical claim that she
and petitioner were able to obtain a marriage license, she failed to present evidence to prove such
allegation. It is a settled rule that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and mere
allegation is not evidence.23

Based on the Certification issued by the Municipal Civil Registrar of Arteche, Eastern Samar, coupled
with respondent's failure to produce a copy of the alleged marriage license or of any evidence to
show that such license was ever issued, the only conclusion that can be reached is that no valid
marriage license was, in fact, issued. Contrary to the ruling of the CA, it cannot be said that there was
a simple defect, not a total absence, in the requirements of the law which would not affect the validity
of the marriage. The fact remains that respondent failed to prove that the subject marriage license
was issued and the law is clear that a marriage which is performed without the corresponding
marriage license is null and void.

As to the sufficiency of petitioner's evidence, the OSG further argues that, on the basis of this Court's
ruling in Sevilla v. Cardenas,24 the certification issued by the local civil registrar, which attests to the
absence in its records of a marriage license, must categorically state that the document does not
exist in the said office despite diligent search.

However, in Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals,25 this Court considered the certification
issued by the Local Civil Registrar as a certification of due search and inability to find the record or
entry sought by the parties despite the absence of a categorical statement that "such document does
not exist in their records despite diligent search." The Court, citing Section 28, 26 Rule 132 of the
Rules of Court, held that the certification of due search and inability to find a record or entry as to the
purported marriage license, issued by the civil registrar, enjoys probative value, he being the officer
charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage license.
Based on said certification, the Court held that there is absence of a marriage license that would
render the marriage void ab initio.

Moreover, as discussed in the abovestated case of Nicdao Cario v. Yee Cario,27 this Court
considered the marriage of the petitioner and her deceased husband as void ab initio as the records
reveal that the marriage contract of petitioner and the deceased bears no marriage license number
and, as certified by the local civil registrar, their office has no record of such marriage license. The
court held that the certification issued by the local civil registrar is adequate to prove the non-issuance
of the marriage license. Their marriage having been solemnized without the necessary marriage
license and not being one of the marriages exempt from the marriage license requirement, the
marriage of the petitioner and the deceased is undoubtedly void ab initio. This ruling was reiterated in
the more recent case of Go-Bangayan v. Bangayan, Jr.28

Furthermore, in the fairly recent case of Abbas v. Abbas,29 this Court echoed the ruling in Republic v.
CA30 that, in sustaining the finding of the lower court that a marriage license was lacking, this Court
relied on the Certification issued by the local civil registrar, which stated that the alleged marriage
license could not be located as the same did not appear in their records. Contrary to petitioner's
asseveration, nowhere in the Certification was it categorically stated that the officer involved
conducted a diligent search. In this respect, this Court held that Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of
Court does not require a categorical statement to this effect. Moreover, in the said case, this Court
ruled that:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Under Sec. 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, it is a disputable presumption that an official duty
has been regularly performed, absent contradiction or other evidence to the contrary. We held, "The
presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or
failure to perform a duty." No such affirmative evidence was shown that the Municipal Civil Registrar
was lax in performing her duty of checking the records of their office, thus the presumption must
stand. x x x31ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
In all the abovementioned cases, there was clear and unequivocal finding of the absence of the
subject marriage license which rendered the marriage void.

From these cases, it can be deduced that to be considered void on the ground of absence of a
marriage license, the law requires that the absence of such marriage license must be apparent on the
marriage contract, or at the very least, supported by a certification from the local civil registrar that no
such marriage license was issued to the parties.32

Indeed, all the evidence cited by the CA to show that a wedding ceremony was conducted and a
marriage contract was signed does not operate to cure the absence of a valid marriage license.33 As
cited above, Article 80(3) of the Civil Code clearly provides that a marriage solemnized without a
license is void from the beginning, except marriages of exceptional character under Articles 72 to 79
of the same Code. As earlier stated, petitioner's and respondent's marriage cannot be characterized
as among the exceptions.

As to the motive of petitioner in seeking to annul his marriage to respondent, it may well be that his
motives are less than pure - that he seeks a way out of his marriage to legitimize his alleged illicit
affair with another woman. Be that as it may, the same does not make up for the failure of the
respondent to prove that they had a valid marriage license, given the weight of evidence presented by
petitioner. The law must be applied. As the marriage license, an essential requisite under the Civil
Code, is clearly absent, the marriage of petitioner and respondent is void ab initio.chanrobleslaw

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of
Appeals, Cebu City, dated March 30, 2006 and January 14, 2009, respectively, in CA-G.R. CV No.
69218, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Borongan,
Eastern Samar, Branch 2, dated September 25, 2000, in Civil Case No. 464 is REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary
THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 138322. October 2, 2001]

GRACE J. GARCIA, a.k.a. GRACE J. GARCIA-RECIO, petitioner, vs. REDERICK A.


RECIO, respondent.

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
A divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be recognized in our jurisdiction, provided such decree
is valid according to the national law of the foreigner. However, the divorce decree and the governing
personal law of the alien spouse who obtained the divorce must be proven. Our courts do not take
judicial notice of foreign laws and judgments; hence, like any other facts, both the divorce decree and
the national law of the alien must be alleged and proven according to our law on evidence.

The Case

Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to nullify the January
7, 1999 Decision[1] and the March 24, 1999 Order[2] of the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City,
Branch 28, in Civil Case No. 3026AF. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:

WHEREFORE, this Court declares the marriage between Grace J. Garcia and Rederick A. Recio
solemnized on January 12, 1994 at Cabanatuan City as dissolved and both parties can now remarry
under existing and applicable laws to any and/or both parties. [3]

The assailed Order denied reconsideration of the above-quoted Decision.

The Facts

Rederick A. Recio, a Filipino, was married to Editha Samson, an Australian citizen, in Malabon,
Rizal, on March 1, 1987.[4] They lived together as husband and wife in Australia. On May 18, 1989, [5] a
decree of divorce, purportedly dissolving the marriage, was issued by an Australian family court.
On June 26, 1992, respondent became an Australian citizen, as shown by a Certificate of Australian
Citizenship issued by the Australian government.[6] Petitioner -- a Filipina -- and respondent were
married on January 12, 1994 in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Cabanatuan City. [7] In
their application for a marriage license, respondent was declared as single and Filipino. [8]
Starting October 22, 1995, petitioner and respondent lived separately without prior judicial
dissolution of their marriage. While the two were still in Australia, their conjugal assets were divided on
May 16, 1996, in accordance with their Statutory Declarations secured in Australia. [9]
On March 3, 1998, petitioner filed a Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage [10] in the court a
quo, on the ground of bigamy -- respondent allegedly had a prior subsisting marriage at the time he
married her on January 12, 1994. She claimed that she learned of respondents marriage to Editha
Samson only in November, 1997.
In his Answer, respondent averred that, as far back as 1993, he had revealed to petitioner his prior
marriage and its subsequent dissolution.[11] He contended that his first marriage to an Australian citizen
had been validly dissolved by a divorce decree obtained in Australia in 1989;[12] thus, he was legally
capacitated to marry petitioner in 1994.
On July 7, 1998 -- or about five years after the couples wedding and while the suit for the declaration
of nullity was pending -- respondent was able to secure a divorce decree from a family court in Sydney,
Australia because the marriage ha[d] irretrievably broken down. [13]
Respondent prayed in his Answer that the Complaint be dismissed on the ground that it stated no
cause of action.[14] The Office of the Solicitor General agreed with respondent. [15] The court marked and
admitted the documentary evidence of both parties. [16] After they submitted their respective
memoranda, the case was submitted for resolution. [17]
Thereafter, the trial court rendered the assailed Decision and Order.

Ruling of the Trial Court

The trial court declared the marriage dissolved on the ground that the divorce issued in Australia
was valid and recognized in the Philippines. It deemed the marriage ended, but not on the basis of any
defect in an essential element of the marriage; that is, respondents alleged lack of legal capacity to
remarry. Rather, it based its Decision on the divorce decree obtained by respondent. The Australian
divorce had ended the marriage; thus, there was no more marital union to nullify or annul.
Hence, this Petition.[18]

Issues

Petitioner submits the following issues for our consideration:


1

The trial court gravely erred in finding that the divorce decree obtained in Australia by the
respondent ipso facto terminated his first marriage to Editha Samson thereby capacitating him to
contract a second marriage with the petitioner.

The failure of the respondent, who is now a naturalized Australian, to present a certificate of legal
capacity to marry constitutes absence of a substantial requisite voiding the petitioners marriage to the
respondent

The trial court seriously erred in the application of Art. 26 of the Family Code in this case.

The trial court patently and grievously erred in disregarding Arts. 11, 13, 21, 35, 40, 52 and 53 of the
Family Code as the applicable provisions in this case.

The trial court gravely erred in pronouncing that the divorce decree obtained by the respondent in
Australia ipso facto capacitated the parties to remarry, without first securing a recognition of the
judgment granting the divorce decree before our courts.[19]

The Petition raises five issues, but for purposes of this Decision, we shall concentrate on two pivotal
ones: (1) whether the divorce between respondent and Editha Samson was proven, and (2) whether
respondent was proven to be legally capacitated to marry petitioner. Because of our ruling on these
two, there is no more necessity to take up the rest.
The Courts Ruling

The Petition is partly meritorious.

First Issue:
Proving the Divorce Between Respondent and Editha Samson

Petitioner assails the trial courts recognition of the divorce between respondent and Editha
Samson. Citing Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,[20] petitioner argues that the divorce decree, like any other
foreign judgment, may be given recognition in this jurisdiction only upon proof of the existence of (1)
the foreign law allowing absolute divorce and (2) the alleged divorce decree itself. She adds that
respondent miserably failed to establish these elements.
Petitioner adds that, based on the first paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, marriages
solemnized abroad are governed by the law of the place where they were celebrated (the lex loci
celebrationis). In effect, the Code requires the presentation of the foreign law to show the conformity of
the marriage in question to the legal requirements of the place where the marriage was performed.
At the outset, we lay the following basic legal principles as the take-off points for our
discussion. Philippine law does not provide for absolute divorce; hence, our courts cannot grant it. [21] A
marriage between two Filipinos cannot be dissolved even by a divorce obtained abroad, because of
Articles 15[22] and 17[23] of the Civil Code.[24] In mixed marriages involving a Filipino and a foreigner,
Article 26[25] of the Family Code allows the former to contract a subsequent marriage in case the divorce
is validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.[26] A divorce obtained
abroad by a couple, who are both aliens, may be recognized in the Philippines, provided it is consistent
with their respective national laws.[27]
A comparison between marriage and divorce, as far as pleading and proof are concerned, can be
made. Van Dorn v. Romillo Jr. decrees that aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be
recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to their national law. [28] Therefore,
before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our courts, the party pleading it must prove the
divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it.[29] Presentation solely of
the divorce decree is insufficient.
Divorce as a Question of Fact
Petitioner insists that before a divorce decree can be admitted in evidence, it must first comply with
the registration requirements under Articles 11, 13 and 52 of the Family Code. These articles read as
follows:

ART. 11. Where a marriage license is required, each of the contracting parties shall file separately a
sworn application for such license with the proper local civil registrar which shall specify the following:

xxxxxxxxx

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

xxxxxxxxx

ART. 13. In case either of the contracting parties has been previously married, the applicant shall be
required to
ART. 13. In case either of the contracting parties has been previously married, the applicant shall be
required to furnish, instead of the birth or baptismal certificate required in the last preceding article,
the death certificate of the deceased spouse or the judicial decree of the absolute divorce, or the
judicial decree of annulment or declaration of nullity of his or her previous marriage. x x x.

ART. 52. The judgment of annulment or of absolute nullity of the marriage, the partition and
distribution of the properties of the spouses, and the delivery of the childrens presumptive legitimes
shall be recorded in the appropriate civil registry and registries of property; otherwise, the same shall
not affect their persons.

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

Second Issue: Respondents Legal Capacity to Remarry

Petitioner contends that, in view of the insufficient proof of the divorce, respondent was legally
incapacitated to marry her in 1994. Hence, she concludes that their marriage was void ab initio.
Respondent replies that the Australian divorce decree, which was validly admitted in evidence,
adequately established his legal capacity to marry under Australian law.
Respondents contention is untenable. In its strict legal sense, divorce means the legal dissolution
of a lawful union for a cause arising after marriage. But divorces are of different types. The two basic
ones are (1) absolute divorce or a vinculo matrimonii and (2) limited divorce or a mensa et thoro. The
first kind terminates the marriage, while the second suspends it and leaves the bond in full
force.[45] There is no showing in the case at bar which type of divorce was procured by respondent.
Respondent presented a decree nisi or an interlocutory decree -- a conditional or provisional
judgment of divorce. It is in effect the same as a separation from bed and board, although an absolute
divorce may follow after the lapse of the prescribed period during which no reconciliation is effected. [46]
Even after the divorce becomes absolute, the court may under some foreign statutes and practices,
still restrict remarriage. Under some other jurisdictions, remarriage may be limited by statute; thus, the
guilty party in a divorce which was granted on the ground of adultery may be prohibited from marrying
again. The court may allow a remarriage only after proof of good behavior. [47]
On its face, the herein Australian divorce decree contains a restriction that reads:
1. A party to a marriage who marries again before this decree becomes absolute (unless the
other party has died) commits the offence of bigamy. [48]
This quotation bolsters our contention that the divorce obtained by respondent may have been
restricted. It did not absolutely establish his legal capacity to remarry according to his national
law. Hence, we find no basis for the ruling of the trial court, which erroneously assumed that the
Australian divorce ipso facto restored respondents capacity to remarry despite the paucity of evidence
on this matter.
We also reject the claim of respondent that the divorce decree raises a disputable presumption or
presumptive evidence as to his civil status based on Section 48, Rule 39[49] of the Rules of Court, for
the simple reason that no proof has been presented on the legal effects of the divorce decree obtained
under Australian laws.
Significance of the Certificate of Legal Capacity
Petitioner argues that the certificate of legal capacity required by Article 21 of the Family Code was
not submitted together with the application for a marriage license. According to her, its absence is proof
that respondent did not have legal capacity to remarry.
We clarify. To repeat, the legal capacity to contract marriage is determined by the national law of
the party concerned. The certificate mentioned in Article 21 of the Family Code would have been
sufficient to establish the legal capacity of respondent, had he duly presented it in court. A duly
authenticated and admitted certificate is prima facie evidence of legal capacity to marry on the part of
the alien applicant for a marriage license.[50]
As it is, however, there is absolutely no evidence that proves respondents legal capacity to marry
petitioner. A review of the records before this Court shows that only the following exhibits were
presented before the lower court: (1) for petitioner: (a) Exhibit A Complaint;[51] (b) Exhibit B Certificate
of Marriage Between Rederick A. Recio (Filipino-Australian) and Grace J. Garcia (Filipino) on January
12, 1994 in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija;[52] (c) Exhibit C Certificate of Marriage Between Rederick A.
Recio (Filipino) and Editha D. Samson (Australian) on March 1, 1987 in Malabon, Metro Manila;[53] (d)
Exhibit D Office of the City Registrar of Cabanatuan City Certification that no information of annulment
between Rederick A. Recio and Editha D. Samson was in its records;[54] and (e) Exhibit E Certificate of
Australian Citizenship of Rederick A. Recio;[55] (2) for respondent: (a) Exhibit 1 -- Amended
Answer;[56] (b) Exhibit 2 Family Law Act 1975 Decree Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in the Family Court
of Australia;[57] (c) Exhibit 3 Certificate of Australian Citizenship of Rederick A. Recio;[58] (d) Exhibit 4
Decree Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in the Family Court of Australia Certificate; [59] and Exhibit 5 --
Statutory Declaration of the Legal Separation Between Rederick A. Recio and Grace J. Garcia Recio
since October 22, 1995.[60]
Based on the above records, we cannot conclude that respondent, who was then a naturalized
Australian citizen, was legally capacitated to marry petitioner on January 12, 1994. We agree with
petitioners contention that the court a quo erred in finding that the divorce decree ipso facto clothed
respondent with the legal capacity to remarry without requiring him to adduce sufficient evidence to
show the Australian personal law governing his status; or at the very least, to prove his legal capacity
to contract the second marriage.
Neither can we grant petitioners prayer to declare her marriage to respondent null and void on the
ground of bigamy. After all, it may turn out that under Australian law, he was really capacitated to marry
petitioner as a direct result of the divorce decree. Hence, we believe that the most judicious course is
to remand this case to the trial court to receive evidence, if any, which show petitioners legal capacity
to marry petitioner. Failing in that, then the court a quo may declare a nullity of the parties marriage on
the ground of bigamy, there being already in evidence two existing marriage certificates, which were
both obtained in the Philippines, one in Malabon, Metro Manila dated March 1, 1987 and the other, in
Cabanatuan City dated January 12, 1994.
WHEREFORE, in the interest of orderly procedure and substantial justice, we REMAND the case
to the court a quo for the purpose of receiving evidence which conclusively show respondents legal
capacity to marry petitioner; and failing in that, of declaring the parties marriage void on the ground of
bigamy, as above discussed. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
SECOND DIVISION

REPUBLIC OF THE G.R. No. 152577


PHILIPPINES,
Present:
Petitioner,

PUNO,
Chairman,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR.,
- versus-
TINGA, and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.
Promulgated:

September 21, 2005


CRASUS L. IYOY,
R e s p o n d e n t.
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioner Republic

of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, prays for the reversal of the

Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62539, dated 30 July 2001,[1] affirming the

Judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 22, in Civil Case No. CEB-20077,

dated 30 October 1998,[2] declaring the marriage between respondent Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada

Rosal-Iyoy null and void on the basis of Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

The proceedings before the RTC commenced with the filing of a Complaint [3] for declaration of nullity

of marriage by respondent Crasus on 25 March 1997. According to the said Complaint, respondent
Crasus married Fely on 16 December 1961 at Bradford Memorial Church, Jones Avenue, Cebu City.

As a result of their union, they had five children Crasus, Jr., Daphne, Debbie, Calvert, and Carlos who

are now all of legal ages. After the celebration of their marriage, respondent Crasus discovered that

Fely was hot-tempered, a nagger and extravagant. In 1984, Fely left the Philippines for the United

States of America (U.S.A.), leaving all of their five children, the youngest then being only six years old,

to the care of respondent Crasus. Barely a year after Fely left for the U.S.A., respondent Crasus

received a letter from her requesting that he sign the enclosed divorce papers; he disregarded the said

request. Sometime in 1985, respondent Crasus learned, through the letters sent by Fely to their

children, that Fely got married to an American, with whom she eventually had a child. In 1987, Fely

came back to the Philippines with her American family, staying at Cebu Plaza Hotel in Cebu City.

Respondent Crasus did not bother to talk to Fely because he was afraid he might not be able to bear

the sorrow and the pain she had caused him. Fely returned to the Philippines several times more: in

1990, for the wedding of their eldest child, Crasus, Jr.; in 1992, for the brain operation of their fourth

child, Calvert; and in 1995, for unknown reasons. Fely continued to live with her American family in

New Jersey, U.S.A. She had been openly using the surname of her American husband in the

Philippines and in the U.S.A. For the wedding of Crasus, Jr., Fely herself had invitations made in which

she was named as Mrs. Fely Ada Micklus. At the time the Complaint was filed, it had been 13 years
since Fely left and abandoned respondent Crasus, and there was no more possibility of reconciliation

between them. Respondent Crasus finally alleged in his Complaint that Felys acts brought danger and

dishonor to the family, and clearly demonstrated her psychological incapacity to perform the essential

obligations of marriage. Such incapacity, being incurable and continuing, constitutes a ground for

declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36, in relation to Articles 68, 70, and 72, of the Family

Code of the Philippines.

Fely filed her Answer and Counterclaim[4] with the RTC on 05 June 1997. She asserted therein

that she was already an American citizen since 1988 and was now married to Stephen Micklus.

While she admitted being previously married to respondent Crasus and having five children with him,

Fely refuted the other allegations made by respondent Crasus in his Complaint. She explained that

she was no more hot-tempered than any normal person, and she may had been indignant at

respondent Crasus on certain occasions but it was because of the latters drunkenness, womanizing,

and lack of sincere effort to find employment and to contribute to the maintenance of their household.

She could not have been extravagant since the family hardly had enough money for basic needs.

Indeed, Fely left for abroad for financial reasons as respondent Crasus had no job and what she was

then earning as the sole breadwinner in the Philippines was insufficient to support their family.

Although she left all of her children with respondent Crasus, she continued to provide financial

support to them, as well as, to respondent Crasus. Subsequently, Fely was able to bring her children

to the U.S.A., except for one, Calvert, who had to stay behind for medical reasons. While she did file

for divorce from respondent Crasus, she denied having herself sent a letter to respondent Crasus

requesting him to sign the enclosed divorce papers. After securing a divorce from respondent

Crasus, Fely married her American husband and acquired American citizenship. She argued that

her marriage to her American husband was legal because now being an American citizen, her status

shall be governed by the law of her present nationality. Fely also pointed out that respondent Crasus

himself was presently living with another woman who bore him a child. She also accused respondent
Crasus of misusing the amount of P90,000.00 which she advanced to him to finance the brain

operation of their son, Calvert. On the basis of the foregoing, Fely also prayed that the RTC declare

her marriage to respondent Crasus null and void; and that respondent Crasus be ordered to pay to

Fely the P90,000.00 she advanced to him, with interest, plus, moral and exemplary damages,

attorneys fees, and litigation expenses.

After respondent Crasus and Fely had filed their respective Pre-Trial Briefs,[5] the RTC afforded both

parties the opportunity to present their evidence. Petitioner Republic participated in the trial through the

Provincial Prosecutor of Cebu.[6]

Respondent Crasus submitted the following pieces of evidence in support of his Complaint: (1) his own
testimony on 08 September 1997, in which he essentially reiterated the allegations in his

Complaint;[7] (2) the Certification, dated 13 April 1989, by the Health Department of Cebu City, on the

recording of the Marriage Contract between respondent Crasus and Fely in the Register of Deeds, such

marriage celebration taking place on 16 December 1961;[8] and (3) the invitation to the wedding of

Crasus, Jr., their eldest son, wherein Fely openly used her American husbands surname, Micklus. [9]

Felys counsel filed a Notice,[10] and, later on, a Motion,[11] to take the deposition of witnesses, namely,
Fely and her children, Crasus, Jr. and Daphne, upon written interrogatories, before the consular officers

of the Philippines in New York and California, U.S.A, where the said witnesses reside. Despite the

Orders[12] and Commissions[13]issued by the RTC to the Philippine Consuls of New York and California,

U.S.A., to take the depositions of the witnesses upon written interrogatories, not a single deposition

was ever submitted to the RTC. Taking into account that it had been over a year since respondent

Crasus had presented his evidence and that Fely failed to exert effort to have the case progress, the

RTC issued an Order, dated 05 October 1998,[14] considering Fely to have waived her right to present
her evidence. The case was thus deemed submitted for decision.
Not long after, on 30 October 1998, the RTC promulgated its Judgment declaring the marriage of
respondent Crasus and Fely null and void ab initio, on the basis of the following findings

The ground bearing defendants psychological incapacity deserves a reasonable


consideration. As observed, plaintiffs testimony is decidedly credible. The Court finds that
defendant had indeed exhibited unmistakable signs of psychological incapacity to comply
with her marital duties such as striving for family unity, observing fidelity, mutual love,
respect, help and support. From the evidence presented, plaintiff adequately established
that the defendant practically abandoned him. She obtained a divorce decree in the
United States of America and married another man and has establish [sic] another family
of her own. Plaintiff is in an anomalous situation, wherein he is married to a wife who is
already married to another man in another country.

Defendants intolerable traits may not have been apparent or manifest before the
marriage, the FAMILY CODE nonetheless allows the annulment of the marriage provided
that these were eventually manifested after the wedding. It appears to be the case in this
instance.

Certainly defendants posture being an irresponsible wife erringly reveals her very
low regard for that sacred and inviolable institution of marriage which is the foundation of
human society throughout the civilized world. It is quite evident that the defendant is bereft
of the mind, will and heart to comply with her marital obligations, such incapacity was
already there at the time of the marriage in question is shown by defendants own attitude
towards her marriage to plaintiff.

In sum, the ground invoked by plaintiff which is defendants psychological


incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations which already existed at the
time of the marriage in question has been satisfactorily proven. The evidence in herein
case establishes the irresponsibility of defendant Fely Ada Rosal Iyoy, firmly.

Going over plaintiffs testimony which is decidedly credible, the Court finds that the
defendant had indeed exhibited unmistakable signs of such psychological incapacity to
comply with her marital obligations. These are her excessive disposition to material things
over and above the marital stability. That such incapacity was already there at the time of
the marriage in question is shown by defendants own attitude towards her marriage to
plaintiff. And for these reasons there is a legal ground to declare the marriage of plaintiff
Crasus L. Iyoy and defendant Fely Ada Rosal Iyoy null and void ab initio.[15]
Petitioner Republic, believing that the afore-quoted Judgment of the RTC was contrary to law and

evidence, filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. The appellate court, though, in its Decision, dated

30 July 2001, affirmed the appealed Judgment of the RTC, finding no reversible error therein. It even

offered additional ratiocination for declaring the marriage between respondent Crasus and Fely null

and void, to wit

Defendant secured a divorce from plaintiff-appellee abroad, has remarried, and is


now permanently residing in the United States. Plaintiff-appellee categorically stated this
as one of his reasons for seeking the declaration of nullity of their marriage

Article 26 of the Family Code provides:

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in


accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country,
except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

WHERE A MARRIAGE BETWEEN A FILIPINO CITIZEN AND A


FOREIGNER IS VALIDLY CELEBRATED AND A DIVORCE IS
THEREAFTER VALIDLY OBTAINED ABROAD BY THE ALIEN SPOUSE
CAPACITATING HIM OR HER TO REMARRY, THE FILIPINO SPOUSE
SHALL LIKEWISE HAVE CAPACITY TO REMARRY UNDER PHILIPPINE
LAW.

The rationale behind the second paragraph of the above-quoted provision is to


avoid the absurd and unjust situation of a Filipino citizen still being married to his or her
alien spouse, although the latter is no longer married to the Filipino spouse because he
or she has obtained a divorce abroad. In the case at bench, the defendant has
undoubtedly acquired her American husbands citizenship and thus has become an alien
as well. This Court cannot see why the benefits of Art. 26 aforequoted can not be
extended to a Filipino citizen whose spouse eventually embraces another citizenship and
thus becomes herself an alien.

It would be the height of unfairness if, under these circumstances, plaintiff would
still be considered as married to defendant, given her total incapacity to honor her marital
covenants to the former. To condemn plaintiff to remain shackled in a marriage that in
truth and in fact does not exist and to remain married to a spouse who is incapacitated to
discharge essential marital covenants, is verily to condemn him to a perpetual
disadvantage which this Court finds abhorrent and will not countenance. Justice dictates
that plaintiff be given relief by affirming the trial courts declaration of the nullity of the
marriage of the parties.[16]

After the Court of Appeals, in a Resolution, dated 08 March 2002, [17] denied its Motion for

Reconsideration, petitioner Republic filed the instant Petition before this Court, based on the

following arguments/grounds

I. Abandonment by and sexual infidelity of respondents wife do not per


se constitute psychological incapacity.

II. The Court of Appeals has decided questions of substance not in accord with law
and jurisprudence considering that the Court of Appeals committed serious errors of law
in ruling that Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code is inapplicable to the case at
bar.[18]

In his Comment[19] to the Petition, respondent Crasus maintained that Felys psychological incapacity

was clearly established after a full-blown trial, and that paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code

of the Philippines was indeed applicable to the marriage of respondent Crasus and Fely, because

the latter had already become an American citizen. He further questioned the personality of petitioner

Republic, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, to institute the instant Petition, because

Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines authorizes the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned

to the trial court, not the Solicitor General, to intervene on behalf of the State, in proceedings for

annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages.


After having reviewed the records of this case and the applicable laws and jurisprudence, this Court

finds the instant Petition to be meritorious.

The totality of evidence presented during trial is insufficient to support the finding of
psychological incapacity of Fely.

Article 36, concededly one of the more controversial provisions of the Family Code of the

Philippines, reads

ART. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration,
was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of
marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization.

Issues most commonly arise as to what constitutes psychological incapacity. In a series of cases, this

Court laid down guidelines for determining its existence.

In Santos v. Court of Appeals,[20] the term psychological incapacity was defined, thus

. . . [P]sychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not physical)


incapacity that causes a party to be truly cognitive of the basic marital covenants that
concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as
so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live
together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly
any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of psychological
incapacity to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an
utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This
psychological condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated [21]
The psychological incapacity must be characterized by

(a) Gravity It must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying

out the ordinary duties required in a marriage;

(b) Juridical Antecedence It must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the

marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and

(c) Incurability It must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be

beyond the means of the party involved.[22]

More definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code
of the Philippines were handed down by this Court in Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,[23] which,

although quite lengthy, by its significance, deserves to be reproduced below

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff.
Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage
and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution
and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution
devotes an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it as the foundation of the nation. It
decrees marriage as legally inviolable, thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim
of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be protected by the state.

The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and
emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and solidarity.

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or
clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d)
clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity
must be psychological - not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may
be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was
mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the
obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption
thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the
application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root
cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully
explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical
psychologists.

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of
the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties
exchanged their I do's. The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such
time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or


incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other
spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such
incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to
those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to
assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, mild characteriological peculiarities,
mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts cannot be accepted as root causes. The
illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or
difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor
in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively
incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations
essential to marriage.

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to


71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and
225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital
obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the
text of the decision.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the


Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great
respect by our courts

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor
General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the
Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating
therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition.
The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such
certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for
resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of
the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.[24]

A later case, Marcos v. Marcos,[25] further clarified that there is no requirement that the

defendant/respondent spouse should be personally examined by a physician or psychologist as a


condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity. Such

psychological incapacity, however, must be established by the totality of the evidence presented during

the trial.

Using the guidelines established by the afore-mentioned jurisprudence, this Court finds that

the totality of evidence presented by respondent Crasus failed miserably to establish the alleged

psychological incapacity of his wife Fely; therefore, there is no basis for declaring their marriage null

and void under Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

The only substantial evidence presented by respondent Crasus before the RTC was his

testimony, which can be easily put into question for being self-serving, in the absence of any other

corroborating evidence. He submitted only two other pieces of evidence: (1) the Certification on the

recording with the Register of Deeds of the Marriage Contract between respondent Crasus and Fely,

such marriage being celebrated on 16 December 1961; and (2) the invitation to the wedding of

Crasus, Jr., their eldest son, in which Fely used her American husbands surname. Even considering

the admissions made by Fely herself in her Answer to respondent Crasuss Complaint filed with the

RTC, the evidence is not enough to convince this Court that Fely had such a grave mental illness

that prevented her from assuming the essential obligations of marriage.


It is worthy to emphasize that Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines contemplates downright

incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations; not a mere

refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less, ill will, on the part of the errant spouse. [26] Irreconcilable

differences, conflicting personalities, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, physical abuse,

habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment, by themselves, also do not

warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under the said Article. [27]

As has already been stressed by this Court in previous cases, Article 36 is not to be confused with

a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefore manifest themselves. It

refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of marriage. It

is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and

responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.[28]

The evidence may have proven that Fely committed acts that hurt and embarrassed respondent

Crasus and the rest of the family. Her hot-temper, nagging, and extravagance; her abandonment of

respondent Crasus; her marriage to an American; and even her flaunting of her American family and

her American surname, may indeed be manifestations of her alleged incapacity to comply with her

marital obligations; nonetheless, the root cause for such was not identified. If the root cause of the

incapacity was not identified, then it cannot be satisfactorily established as a psychological or mental

defect that is serious or grave; neither could it be proven to be in existence at the time of celebration

of the marriage; nor that it is incurable. While the personal examination of Fely by a psychiatrist or

psychologist is no longer mandatory for the declaration of nullity of their marriage under Article 36 of

the Family Code of the Philippines, by virtue of this Courts ruling in Marcos v. Marcos,[29] respondent

Crasus must still have complied with the requirement laid down in Republic v. Court of Appeals and
Molina[30] that the root cause of the incapacity be identified as a psychological illness and that its

incapacitating nature be fully explained.

In any case, any doubt shall be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. [31] No less than the

Constitution of 1987 sets the policy to protect and strengthen the family as the basic social institution

and marriage as the foundation of the family. [32]

II
Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines is not applicable to the case
at bar.

According to Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated


and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him
or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under
Philippine law.

As it is worded, Article 26, paragraph 2, refers to a special situation wherein one of the couple

getting married is a Filipino citizen and the other a foreigner at the time the marriage was

celebrated. By its plain and literal interpretation, the said provision cannot be applied to the case of

respondent Crasus and his wife Fely because at the time Fely obtained her divorce, she was still a

Filipino citizen. Although the exact date was not established, Fely herself admitted in her Answer

filed before the RTC that she obtained a divorce from respondent Crasus sometime after she left for

the United States in 1984, after which she married her American husband in 1985. In the same

Answer, she alleged that she had been an American citizen since 1988. At the time she filed for

divorce, Fely was still a Filipino citizen, and pursuant to the nationality principle embodied in Article

15 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, she was still bound by Philippine laws on family rights and
duties, status, condition, and legal capacity, even when she was already living abroad. Philippine

laws, then and even until now, do not allow and recognize divorce between Filipino spouses. Thus,

Fely could not have validly obtained a divorce from respondent Crasus.

III
The Solicitor General is authorized to intervene, on behalf of the Republic, in proceedings
for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages.

Invoking Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines, respondent Crasus argued that only

the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to the RTC may intervene on behalf of the State in

proceedings for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages; hence, the Office of the Solicitor

General had no personality to file the instant Petition on behalf of the State. Article 48 provides

ART. 48. In all cases of annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage,


the Court shall order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf
of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that
the evidence is not fabricated or suppressed.

That Article 48 does not expressly mention the Solicitor General does not bar him or his Office from

intervening in proceedings for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages. Executive Order No.

292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, appoints the Solicitor General as the

principal law officer and legal defender of the Government. [33] His Office is tasked to represent the

Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any

litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. The Office of the
Solicitor General shall constitute the law office of the Government and, as such, shall discharge

duties requiring the services of lawyers.[34]

The intent of Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines is to ensure that the interest of the State

is represented and protected in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages by

preventing collusion between the parties, or the fabrication or suppression of evidence; and, bearing

in mind that the Solicitor General is the principal law officer and legal defender of the land, then his

intervention in such proceedings could only serve and contribute to the realization of such intent,

rather than thwart it.

Furthermore, the general rule is that only the Solicitor General is authorized to bring or defend actions

on behalf of the People or the Republic of the Philippines once the case is brought before this Court

or the Court of Appeals.[35] While it is the prosecuting attorney or fiscal who actively participates, on

behalf of the State, in a proceeding for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage before the

RTC, the Office of the Solicitor General takes over when the case is elevated to the Court of Appeals

or this Court. Since it shall be eventually responsible for taking the case to the appellate courts when

circumstances demand, then it is only reasonable and practical that even while the proceeding is still

being held before the RTC, the Office of the Solicitor General can already exercise supervision and

control over the conduct of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal therein to better guarantee the

protection of the interests of the State.

In fact, this Court had already recognized and affirmed the role of the Solicitor General in several

cases for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages that were appealed before it, summarized

as follows in the case of Ancheta v. Ancheta[36]


In the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals [268 SCRA 198 (1997)], this Court laid down
the guidelines in the interpretation and application of Art. 48 of the Family Code, one of
which concerns the role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to
appear as counsel for the State:

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and
the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall
be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which
will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his
agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor
General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such
certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed
submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge
the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon
1095. [Id., at 213]

This Court in the case of Malcampo-Sin v. Sin [355 SCRA 285 (2001)] reiterated
its pronouncement in Republic v. Court of Appeals [Supra.] regarding the role of the
prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the
State[37]

Finally, the issuance of this Court of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages

and Annulment of Voidable Marriages,[38] which became effective on 15 March 2003, should dispel

any other doubts of respondent Crasus as to the authority of the Solicitor General to file the instant

Petition on behalf of the State. The Rule recognizes the authority of the Solicitor General to intervene

and take part in the proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages before the

RTC and on appeal to higher courts. The pertinent provisions of the said Rule are reproduced below

Sec. 5. Contents and form of petition.

(4) It shall be filed in six copies. The petitioner shall serve a copy of the petition on
the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the City or Provincial Prosecutor,
within five days from the date of its filing and submit to the court proof of such service
within the same period.

Sec. 18. Memoranda. The court may require the parties and the public prosecutor,
in consultation with the Office of the Solicitor General, to file their respective memoranda
in support of their claims within fifteen days from the date the trial is terminated. It may
require the Office of the Solicitor General to file its own memorandum if the case is of
significant interest to the State. No other pleadings or papers may be submitted without
leave of court. After the lapse of the period herein provided, the case will be considered
submitted for decision, with or without the memoranda.

Sec. 19. Decision.

(2) The parties, including the Solicitor General and the public prosecutor, shall be
served with copies of the decision personally or by registered mail. If the respondent
summoned by publication failed to appear in the action, the dispositive part of the decision
shall be published once in a newspaper of general circulation.

(3) The decision becomes final upon the expiration of fifteen days from notice to
the parties. Entry of judgment shall be made if no motion for reconsideration or new trial,
or appeal is filed by any of the parties, the public prosecutor, or the Solicitor General.

Sec. 20. Appeal.

(2) Notice of Appeal. An aggrieved party or the Solicitor General may appeal from
the decision by filing a Notice of Appeal within fifteen days from notice of denial of the
motion for reconsideration or new trial. The appellant shall serve a copy of the notice of
appeal on the adverse parties.

Given the foregoing, this Court arrives at a conclusion contrary to those of the RTC and the Court of

Appeals, and sustains the validity and existence of the marriage between respondent Crasus and Fely.

At most, Felys abandonment, sexual infidelity, and bigamy, give respondent Crasus grounds to file for

legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines, but not for declaration of nullity

of marriage under Article 36 of the same Code. While this Court commiserates with respondent Crasus

for being continuously shackled to what is now a hopeless and loveless marriage, this is one of those

situations where neither law nor society can provide the specific answer to every individual problem. [39]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.

CV No. 62539, dated 30 July 2001, affirming the Judgment of the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 22, in Civil

Case No. CEB-20077, dated 30 October 1998, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

The marriage of respondent Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada Rosal-Iyoy remains valid and subsisting.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 154380


Petitioner,

Present:

Davide, Jr., C.J.,


- versus - (Chairman),
Quisumbing,
Ynares-Santiago,
Carpio, and

Azcuna, JJ.
CIPRIANO ORBECIDO III,
Respondent. Promulgated:

October 5, 2005

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

Given a valid marriage between two Filipino citizens, where one party is later naturalized as a

foreign citizen and obtains a valid divorce decree capacitating him or her to remarry, can the Filipino

spouse likewise remarry under Philippine law?

Before us is a case of first impression that behooves the Court to make a definite ruling on this

apparently novel question, presented as a pure question of law.


In this petition for review, the Solicitor General assails the Decision[1] dated May 15, 2002, of the

Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23 and its Resolution[2] dated July 4, 2002

denying the motion for reconsideration. The court a quo had declared that herein respondent Cipriano

Orbecido III is capacitated to remarry. The fallo of the impugned Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, by virtue of the provision of the second paragraph of Art. 26 of the Family
Code and by reason of the divorce decree obtained against him by his American wife, the
petitioner is given the capacity to remarry under the Philippine Law.

IT IS SO ORDERED.[3]

The factual antecedents, as narrated by the trial court, are as follows.

On May 24, 1981, Cipriano Orbecido III married Lady Myros M. Villanueva at the United Church of

Christ in the Philippines in Lam-an, Ozamis City. Their marriage was blessed with a son and a daughter,

Kristoffer Simbortriz V. Orbecido and Lady Kimberly V. Orbecido.

In 1986, Ciprianos wife left for the United States bringing along their son Kristoffer. A few years

later, Cipriano discovered that his wife had been naturalized as an American citizen.

Sometime in 2000, Cipriano learned from his son that his wife had obtained a divorce decree

and then married a certain Innocent Stanley. She, Stanley and her child by him currently live at 5566

A. Walnut Grove Avenue, San Gabriel, California.

Cipriano thereafter filed with the trial court a petition for authority to remarry invoking Paragraph 2 of

Article 26 of the Family Code. No opposition was filed. Finding merit in the petition, the court granted

the same. The Republic, herein petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), sought

reconsideration but it was denied.

In this petition, the OSG raises a pure question of law:


WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT CAN REMARRY UNDER ARTICLE 26 OF THE
FAMILY CODE[4]
The OSG contends that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code is not applicable to the instant

case because it only applies to a valid mixed marriage; that is, a marriage celebrated between a Filipino

citizen and an alien. The proper remedy, according to the OSG, is to file a petition for annulment or for

legal separation.[5] Furthermore, the OSG argues there is no law that governs respondents situation.

The OSG posits that this is a matter of legislation and not of judicial determination. [6]

For his part, respondent admits that Article 26 is not directly applicable to his case but insists that when

his naturalized alien wife obtained a divorce decree which capacitated her to remarry, he is likewise

capacitated by operation of law pursuant to Section 12, Article II of the Constitution.[7]

At the outset, we note that the petition for authority to remarry filed before the trial court actually

constituted a petition for declaratory relief. In this connection, Section 1, Rule 63 of the Rules of Court

provides:
RULE 63
DECLARATORY RELIEF AND SIMILAR REMEDIES

Section 1. Who may file petitionAny person interested under a deed, will, contract or other
written instrument, or whose rights are affected by a statute, executive order or regulation,
ordinance, or other governmental regulation may, before breach or violation thereof, bring
an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court to determine any question of construction
or validity arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties, thereunder.
...

The requisites of a petition for declaratory relief are: (1) there must be a justiciable controversy; (2) the

controversy must be between persons whose interests are adverse; (3) that the party seeking the relief

has a legal interest in the controversy; and (4) that the issue is ripe for judicial determination. [8]

This case concerns the applicability of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 to a marriage between two

Filipino citizens where one later acquired alien citizenship, obtained a divorce decree, and remarried

while in the U.S.A. The interests of the parties are also adverse, as petitioner representing the State
asserts its duty to protect the institution of marriage while respondent, a private citizen, insists on a

declaration of his capacity to remarry. Respondent, praying for relief, has legal interest in the

controversy. The issue raised is also ripe for judicial determination inasmuch as when respondent

remarries, litigation ensues and puts into question the validity of his second marriage.

Coming now to the substantive issue, does Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code apply to the

case of respondent? Necessarily, we must dwell on how this provision had come about in the first place,

and what was the intent of the legislators in its enactment?

Brief Historical Background

On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law Executive Order No. 209,

otherwise known as the Family Code, which took effect on August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states:
All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in
force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be
valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35, 37, and 38.

On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family Code, Executive Order No. 227

was likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26, 36, and 39 of the Family Code. A second paragraph

was added to Article 26. As so amended, it now provides:


ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the
laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall
also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6),
36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated


and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him
or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
(Emphasis supplied)

On its face, the foregoing provision does not appear to govern the situation presented by the

case at hand. It seems to apply only to cases where at the time of the celebration of the marriage, the
parties are a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The instant case is one where at the time the marriage

was solemnized, the parties were two Filipino citizens, but later on, the wife was naturalized as an

American citizen and subsequently obtained a divorce granting her capacity to remarry, and indeed

she remarried an American citizen while residing in the U.S.A.

Noteworthy, in the Report of the Public Hearings[9] on the Family Code, the Catholic Bishops

Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) registered the following objections to Paragraph 2 of Article 26:
1. The rule is discriminatory. It discriminates against those whose spouses are
Filipinos who divorce them abroad. These spouses who are divorced will not be
able to re-marry, while the spouses of foreigners who validly divorce them abroad
can.
2. This is the beginning of the recognition of the validity of divorce even for
Filipino citizens. For those whose foreign spouses validly divorce them abroad will
also be considered to be validly divorced here and can re-marry. We propose that
this be deleted and made into law only after more widespread consultation.
(Emphasis supplied.)

Legislative Intent

Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations showed that the intent of Paragraph

2 of Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a member of the Civil Code Revision Committee,

is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who,

after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse.

Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the 1985 case of Van Dorn v.

Romillo, Jr.[10] The Van Dorn case involved a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The

Court held therein that a divorce decree validly obtained by the alien spouse is valid in the Philippines,

and consequently, the Filipino spouse is capacitated to remarry under Philippine law.
Does the same principle apply to a case where at the time of the celebration of the marriage,

the parties were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them obtains a foreign citizenship by

naturalization?

The jurisprudential answer lies latent in the 1998 case of Quita v. Court of Appeals.[11] In Quita,

the parties were, as in this case, Filipino citizens when they got married. The wife became a naturalized

American citizen in 1954 and obtained a divorce in the same year. The Court therein hinted, by way

of obiter dictum, that a Filipino divorced by his naturalized foreign spouse is no longer married under

Philippine law and can thus remarry.

Thus, taking into consideration the legislative intent and applying the rule of reason, we hold that

Paragraph 2 of Article 26 should be interpreted to include cases involving parties who, at the time of

the celebration of the marriage were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them becomes naturalized as

a foreign citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The Filipino spouse should likewise be allowed to

remarry as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the solemnization of the marriage. To rule

otherwise would be to sanction absurdity and injustice. Where the interpretation of a statute according

to its exact and literal import would lead to mischievous results or contravene the clear purpose of the

legislature, it should be construed according to its spirit and reason, disregarding as far as necessary

the letter of the law. A statute may therefore be extended to cases not within the literal meaning of its

terms, so long as they come within its spirit or intent. [12]

If we are to give meaning to the legislative intent to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino

spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce is no longer married to the

Filipino spouse, then the instant case must be deemed as coming within the contemplation of

Paragraph 2 of Article 26.

In view of the foregoing, we state the twin elements for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article

26 as follows:
1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen
and a foreigner; and

2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or


her to remarry.

The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration of the

marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse

capacitating the latter to remarry.

In this case, when Ciprianos wife was naturalized as an American citizen, there was still a valid

marriage that has been celebrated between her and Cipriano. As fate would have it, the naturalized

alien wife subsequently obtained a valid divorce capacitating her to remarry. Clearly, the twin requisites

for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 are both present in this case. Thus Cipriano, the divorced

Filipino spouse, should be allowed to remarry.

We are also unable to sustain the OSGs theory that the proper remedy of the Filipino spouse is

to file either a petition for annulment or a petition for legal separation. Annulment would be a long and

tedious process, and in this particular case, not even feasible, considering that the marriage of the

parties appears to have all the badges of validity. On the other hand, legal separation would not be a

sufficient remedy for it would not sever the marriage tie; hence, the legally separated Filipino spouse

would still remain married to the naturalized alien spouse.

However, we note that the records are bereft of competent evidence duly submitted by respondent

concerning the divorce decree and the naturalization of respondents wife. It is settled rule that one who

alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and mere allegation is not evidence. [13]

Accordingly, for his plea to prosper, respondent herein must prove his allegation that his wife was

naturalized as an American citizen. Likewise, before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our

own courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the
foreign law allowing it.[14] Such foreign law must also be proved as our courts cannot take judicial notice

of foreign laws. Like any other fact, such laws must be alleged and proved. [15] Furthermore, respondent

must also show that the divorce decree allows his former wife to remarry as specifically required in

Article 26. Otherwise, there would be no evidence sufficient to declare that he is capacitated to enter

into another marriage.

Nevertheless, we are unanimous in our holding that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code (E.O.

No. 209, as amended by E.O. No. 227), should be interpreted to allow a Filipino citizen, who has been

divorced by a spouse who had acquired foreign citizenship and remarried, also to remarry. However,

considering that in the present petition there is no sufficient evidence submitted and on record, we are

unable to declare, based on respondents bare allegations that his wife, who was naturalized as an

American citizen, had obtained a divorce decree and had remarried an American, that respondent is

now capacitated to remarry. Such declaration could only be made properly upon respondents

submission of the aforecited evidence in his favor.

ACCORDINGLY, the petition by the Republic of the Philippines is GRANTED. The

assailed Decision dated May 15, 2002, and Resolution dated July 4, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court

of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23, are hereby SET ASIDE.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION
GERBERT R. CORPUZ, G.R. No. 186571
Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson,


BRION,
BERSAMIN,
- versus - *ABAD, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

Promulgated:
August 11, 2010
DAISYLYN TIROL STO. TOMAS
and The SOLICITOR GENERAL,
Respondents. -- -
x--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

BRION, J.:

Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via a petition for review on certiorari[2]under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court (present petition).

Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen who acquired Canadian citizenship
through naturalization on November 29, 2000.[3] On January 18, 2005, Gerbert married respondent
Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a Filipina, in Pasig City.[4] Due to work and other professional commitments,
Gerbert left for Canada soon after the wedding. He returned to the Philippines sometime in April 2005
to surprise Daisylyn, but was shocked to discover that his wife was having an affair with another
man. Hurt and disappointed, Gerbert returned to Canada and filed a petition for divorce. The Superior
Court of Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada granted Gerberts petition for divorce on December 8,
2005. The divorce decree took effect a month later, on January 8, 2006.[5]
Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has found another Filipina to
love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina fiance in the Philippines, Gerbert went to the Pasig City Civil
Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree on his and Daisylyns marriage
certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an official of the National Statistics Office
(NSO) informed Gerbert that the marriage between him and Daisylyn still subsists under Philippine law;
to be enforceable, the foreign divorce decree must first be judicially recognized by a competent
Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982. [6]

Accordingly, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce and/or declaration
of marriage as dissolved (petition) with the RTC. Although summoned, Daisylyn did not file any
responsive pleading but submitted instead a notarized letter/manifestation to the trial court. She offered
no opposition to Gerberts petition and, in fact, alleged her desire to file a similar case herself but was
prevented by financial and personal circumstances. She, thus, requested that she be considered as a
party-in-interest with a similar prayer to Gerberts.

In its October 30, 2008 decision,[7] the RTC denied Gerberts petition. The RTC concluded that
Gerbert was not the proper party to institute the action for judicial recognition of the foreign divorce
decree as he is a naturalized Canadian citizen. It ruled that only the Filipino spouse can avail of the
remedy, under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, [8] in order for him or her to be
able to remarry under Philippine law.[9] Article 26 of the Family Code reads:

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the
laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall
also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6),
36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated


and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him
or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under
Philippine law.

This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative intent behind the enactment of the
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, as determined by the Court in Republic v. Orbecido
III;[10] the provision was enacted to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married
to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. [11]
THE PETITION

From the RTCs ruling,[12] Gerbert filed the present petition.[13]

Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially for declaratory relief, similar to that
filed in Orbecido; he, thus, similarly asks for a determination of his rights under the second paragraph
of Article 26 of the Family Code. Taking into account the rationale behind the second paragraph of
Article 26 of the Family Code, he contends that the provision applies as well to the benefit of the alien
spouse. He claims that the RTC ruling unduly stretched the doctrine in Orbecido by limiting the standing
to file the petition only to the Filipino spouse an interpretation he claims to be contrary to the essence
of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. He considers himself as a proper party,
vested with sufficient legal interest, to institute the case, as there is a possibility that he might be
prosecuted for bigamy if he marries his Filipina fiance in the Philippines since two marriage certificates,
involving him, would be on file with the Civil Registry Office. The Office of the Solicitor General and
Daisylyn, in their respective Comments,[14] both support Gerberts position.

Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
Code extends to aliens the right to petition a court of this jurisdiction for the recognition of a foreign
divorce decree.

THE COURTS RULING

The alien spouse can claim no right under the second


paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code as the
substantive right it establishes is in favor of the Filipino
spouse

The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative history and intent behind the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code.

The Family Code recognizes only two types of defective marriages void[15] and
voidable[16] marriages. In both cases, the basis for the judicial declaration of absolute nullity or
annulment of the marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage. Divorce, on the other hand,
contemplates the dissolution of the lawful union for cause arising after the marriage.[17] Our family laws
do not recognize absolute divorce between Filipino citizens. [18]
Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages between a Filipino and an alien,
President Corazon C. Aquino, in the exercise of her legislative powers under the Freedom
Constitution,[19] enacted Executive Order No. (EO) 227, amending Article 26 of the Family Code to its
present wording, as follows:

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the
laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall
also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6),
36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated


and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him
or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under
Philippine law.

Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, EO 227 effectively incorporated into
the law this Courts holding in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.[20] and Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera.[21] In both cases,
the Court refused to acknowledge the alien spouses assertion of marital rights after a foreign courts
divorce decree between the alien and the Filipino. The Court, thus, recognized that the foreign divorce
had already severed the marital bond between the spouses. The Court reasoned in Van Dorn v.
Romillo that:

To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the Filipino spouse] has to be considered still
married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to a wife's obligations x x x cannot be
just. [The Filipino spouse] should not be obliged to live together with, observe respect and
fidelity, and render support to [the alien spouse]. The latter should not continue to be one
of her heirs with possible rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated
against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served. [22]

As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in the law to avoid the absurd situation
where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no
longer married to the Filipino spouse.[23] The legislative intent is for the benefit of the Filipino spouse,
by clarifying his or her marital status, settling the doubts created by the divorce decree. Essentially, the
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to
have his or her marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating him or her to
remarry.[24] Without the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the judicial recognition of
the foreign decree of divorce, whether in a proceeding instituted precisely for that purpose or as a
related issue in another proceeding, would be of no significance to the Filipino spouse since our laws
do not recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital bond;[25] Article 17 of the Civil Code provides
that the policy against absolute divorces cannot be subverted by judgments promulgated in a foreign
country. The inclusion of the second paragraph in Article 26 of the Family Code provides the direct
exception to this rule and serves as basis for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage between the
Filipino spouse and his or her alien spouse.

Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is not limited to
the recognition of the foreign divorce decree. If the court finds that the decree capacitated the alien
spouse to remarry, the courts can declare that the Filipino spouse is likewise capacitated to contract
another marriage. No court in this jurisdiction, however, can make a similar declaration for the alien
spouse (other than that already established by the decree), whose status and legal capacity are
generally governed by his national law.[26]

Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the purpose of the second paragraph
of Article 26 of the Family Code, the RTC was correct in limiting the applicability of the provision for the
benefit of the Filipino spouse. In other words, only the Filipino spouse can invoke the second paragraph
of Article 26 of the Family Code; the alien spouse can claim no right under this provision.

The foreign divorce decree is presumptive evidence of a


right that clothes the party with legal interest to petition for its
recognition in this jurisdiction

We qualify our above conclusion i.e., that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code
bestows no rights in favor of aliens with the complementary statement that this conclusion is not
sufficient basis to dismiss Gerberts petition before the RTC. In other words, the unavailability of the
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code to aliens does not necessarily strip Gerbert of legal
interest to petition the RTC for the recognition of his foreign divorce decree. The foreign divorce decree
itself, after its authenticity and conformity with the aliens national law have been duly proven according
to our rules of evidence, serves as a presumptive evidence of right in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to
Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which provides for the effect of foreign judgments. This
Section states:
SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders.The effect of a judgment or
final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment or
final order is as follows:

(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment
or final order is conclusive upon the title of the thing; and

(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or


final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and
their successors in interest by a subsequent title.

In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want
of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.

To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign judgment is sufficient to clothe a
party with the requisite interest to institute an action before our courts for the recognition of the foreign
judgment. In a divorce situation, we have declared, no less, that the divorce obtained by an alien abroad
may be recognized in the Philippines, provided the divorce is valid according to his or her national
law.[27]

The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that
our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as
a rule, no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of
another country.[28] This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts
under our rules on evidence, together with the aliens applicable national law to show the effect of the
judgment on the alien himself or herself.[29] The recognition may be made in an action instituted
specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral
aspect of his claim or defense.

In Gerberts case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the alien,
recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a divorce, purport to be official acts of a sovereign authority,
Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court comes into play. This Section requires proof, either by (1)
official publications or (2) copies attested by the officer having legal custody of the documents. If the
copies of official records are not kept in the Philippines, these must be (a) accompanied by a certificate
issued by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the
foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office.
The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a copy of the divorce decree, as well as
the required certificates proving its authenticity,[30] but failed to include a copy of the Canadian law on
divorce.[31] Under this situation, we can, at this point, simply dismiss the petition for insufficiency of
supporting evidence, unless we deem it more appropriate to remand the case to the RTC to determine
whether the divorce decree is consistent with the Canadian divorce law.

We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of action, given the Article 26 interests
that will be served and the Filipina wifes (Daisylyns) obvious conformity with the petition. A remand, at
the same time, will allow other interested parties to oppose the foreign judgment and overcome a
petitioners presumptive evidence of a right by proving want of jurisdiction, want of notice to a party,
collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. Needless to state, every precaution must be taken to
ensure conformity with our laws before a recognition is made, as the foreign judgment, once
recognized, shall have the effect of res judicata[32] between the parties, as provided in Section 48, Rule
39 of the Rules of Court.[33]

In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the practice of reciprocal recognition
of foreign judgments between nations, the res judicata effect of the foreign judgments of divorce serves
as the deeper basis for extending judicial recognition and for considering the alien spouse bound by its
terms. This same effect, as discussed above, will not obtain for the Filipino spouse were it not for the
substantive rule that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides.

Considerations beyond the recognition of the foreign divorce


decree

As a matter of housekeeping concern, we note that the Pasig City Civil Registry Office has
already recorded the divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage certificate based on the mere
presentation of the decree.[34] We consider the recording to be legally improper; hence, the need to
draw attention of the bench and the bar to what had been done.

Article 407 of the Civil Code states that [a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of
persons shall be recorded in the civil register. The law requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial
decrees that produce legal consequences touching upon a persons legal capacity and status, i.e., those
affecting all his personal qualities and relations, more or less permanent in nature, not ordinarily
terminable at his own will, such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not.[35]
A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign one, affecting a persons legal
capacity and status that must be recorded. In fact, Act No. 3753 or the Law on Registry of Civil Status
specifically requires the registration of divorce decrees in the civil registry:

Sec. 1. Civil Register. A civil register is established for recording the civil status of
persons, in which shall be entered:

(a) births;
(b) deaths;
(c) marriages;
(d) annulments of marriages;
(e) divorces;
(f) legitimations;
(g) adoptions;
(h) acknowledgment of natural children;
(i) naturalization; and
(j) changes of name.

xxxx

Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. The local registrars shall keep and preserve in their
offices the following books, in which they shall, respectively make the proper entries
concerning the civil status of persons:

(1) Birth and death register;

(2) Marriage register, in which shall be entered not only the marriages solemnized
but also divorces and dissolved marriages.

(3) Legitimation, acknowledgment, adoption, change of name and naturalization


register.
But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the civil registry, the law and the submission
of the decree by themselves do not ipso facto authorize the decrees registration. The law should be
read in relation with the requirement of a judicial recognition of the foreign judgment before it can be
given res judicata effect. In the context of the present case, no judicial order as yet exists recognizing
the foreign divorce decree. Thus, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office acted totally out of turn and without
authority of law when it annotated the Canadian divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage
certificate, on the strength alone of the foreign decree presented by Gerbert.

Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of the requirement of a court
recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982,[36] and Department of Justice Opinion No.
181, series of 1982[37] both of which required a final order from a competent Philippine court before a
foreign judgment, dissolving a marriage, can be registered in the civil registry, but it, nonetheless,
allowed the registration of the decree. For being contrary to law, the registration of the foreign divorce
decree without the requisite judicial recognition is patently void and cannot produce any legal effect.

Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the recognition that the RTC may extend to the
Canadian divorce decree does not, by itself, authorize the cancellation of the entry in the civil registry. A
petition for recognition of a foreign judgment is not the proper proceeding, contemplated under the
Rules of Court, for the cancellation of entries in the civil registry.

Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that no entry in a civil register shall be changed or
corrected, without judicial order. The Rules of Court supplements Article 412 of the Civil Code by
specifically providing for a special remedial proceeding by which entries in the civil registry may be
judicially cancelled or corrected. Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets in detail the jurisdictional and
procedural requirements that must be complied with before a judgment, authorizing the cancellation or
correction, may be annotated in the civil registry. It also requires, among others, that the verified petition
must be filed with the RTC of the province where the corresponding civil registry is located; [38] that the
civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest must be made parties to the
proceedings;[39] and that the time and place for hearing must be published in a newspaper of general
circulation.[40] As these basic jurisdictional requirements have not been met in the present case, we
cannot consider the petition Gerbert filed with the RTC as one filed under Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court.

We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be construed as requiring two separate
proceedings for the registration of a foreign divorce decree in the civil registry one for recognition of the
foreign decree and another specifically for cancellation of the entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court. The recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as
the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish
the status or right of a party or a particular fact. Moreover, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court can serve as
the appropriate adversarial proceeding[41] by which the applicability of the foreign judgment can be
measured and tested in terms of jurisdictional infirmities, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or
clear mistake of law or fact.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition for review on certiorari, and REVERSE the October 30,
2008 decision of the Regional Trial Court of Laoag City, Branch 11, as well as its February 17,
2009 order. We order the REMAND of the case to the trial court for further proceedings in accordance
with our ruling above. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Civil Registrar General. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 196049 June 26, 2013

MINORU FUJIKI, PETITIONER,


vs.
MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF QUEZON
CITY, AND THE ADMINISTRATOR AND CIVIL REGISTRAR GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL
STATISTICS OFFICE,RESPONDENTS.

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 107, Quezon City,
through a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on a pure question of
law. The petition assails the Order1 dated 31 January 2011 of the RTC in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582
and its Resolution dated 2 March 2011 denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The RTC
dismissed the petition for "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of
Marriage)" based on improper venue and the lack of personality of petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to file the
petition.

The Facts

Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married respondent Maria Paz Galela
Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines2 on 23 January 2004. The marriage did not sit well with
petitioners parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his wife to Japan where he resides. Eventually, they
lost contact with each other.

In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara (Maekara). Without the first marriage
being dissolved, Marinay and Maekara were married on 15 May 2008 in Quezon City, Philippines.
Maekara brought Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay allegedly suffered physical abuse from
Maekara. She left Maekara and started to contact Fujiki. 3

Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish their relationship. In 2010, Fujiki
helped Marinay obtain a judgment from a family court in Japan which declared the marriage between
Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of bigamy. 4 On 14 January 2011, Fujiki filed a petition in the
RTC entitled: "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)."
Fujiki prayed that (1) the Japanese Family Court judgment be recognized; (2) that the bigamous
marriage between Marinay and Maekara be declared void ab initiounder Articles 35(4) and 41 of the
Family Code of the Philippines;5 and (3) for the RTC to direct the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City
to annotate the Japanese Family Court judgment on the Certificate of Marriage between Marinay and
Maekara and to endorse such annotation to the Office of the Administrator and Civil Registrar
General in the National Statistics Office (NSO). 6

The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately issued an Order dismissing the petition
and withdrawing the case from its active civil docket. 7 The RTC cited the following provisions of the
Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M.
No. 02-11-10-SC):

Sec. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.

(a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by
the husband or the wife.

xxxx

Sec. 4. Venue. The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or city where the
petitioner or the respondent has been residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing, or in
the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in the Philippines, at the election of
the petitioner. x x x

The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in "gross violation" of the above
provisions. The trial court based its dismissal on Section 5(4) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which
provides that "[f]ailure to comply with any of the preceding requirements may be a ground for
immediate dismissal of the petition."8 Apparently, the RTC took the view that only "the husband or the
wife," in this case either Maekara or Marinay, can file the petition to declare their marriage void, and
not Fujiki.

Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC contemplated
ordinary civil actions for declaration of nullity and annulment of marriage. Thus, A.M. No. 02-11-10-
SC does not apply. A petition for recognition of foreign judgment is a special proceeding, which
"seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular fact,"9 and not a civil action which is "for the
enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong."10 In other words, the
petition in the RTC sought to establish (1) the status and concomitant rights of Fujiki and Marinay as
husband and wife and (2) the fact of the rendition of the Japanese Family Court judgment declaring
the marriage between Marinay and Maekara as void on the ground of bigamy. The petitioner
contended that the Japanese judgment was consistent with Article 35(4) of the Family Code of the
Philippines11 on bigamy and was therefore entitled to recognition by Philippine courts. 12

In any case, it was also Fujikis view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applied only to void marriages under
Article 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological incapacity. 13 Thus, Section 2(a) of A.M.
No. 02-11-10-SC provides that "a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages may be
filed solely by the husband or the wife." To apply Section 2(a) in bigamy would be absurd because
only the guilty parties would be permitted to sue. In the words of Fujiki, "[i]t is not, of course, difficult to
realize that the party interested in having a bigamous marriage declared a nullity would be the
husband in the prior, pre-existing marriage."14 Fujiki had material interest and therefore the
personality to nullify a bigamous marriage.

Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of
Court is applicable. Rule 108 is the "procedural implementation" of the Civil Register Law (Act No.
3753)15 in relation to Article 413 of the Civil Code.16 The Civil Register Law imposes a duty on the
"successful petitioner for divorce or annulment of marriage to send a copy of the final decree of the
court to the local registrar of the municipality where the dissolved or annulled marriage was
solemnized."17 Section 2 of Rule 108 provides that entries in the civil registry relating to "marriages,"
"judgments of annulments of marriage" and "judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning"
are subject to cancellation or correction.18 The petition in the RTC sought (among others) to annotate
the judgment of the Japanese Family Court on the certificate of marriage between Marinay and
Maekara.

Fujikis motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that the trial court "gravely erred" when,
on its own, it dismissed the petition based on improper venue. Fujiki stated that the RTC may be
confusing the concept of venue with the concept of jurisdiction, because it is lack of jurisdiction which
allows a court to dismiss a case on its own. Fujiki cited Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate
Court19 which held that the "trial court cannot pre-empt the defendants prerogative to object to the
improper laying of the venue by motu proprio dismissing the case."20Moreover, petitioner alleged that
the trial court should not have "immediately dismissed" the petition under Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-
11-10-SC because he substantially complied with the provision.

On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioners motion for reconsideration. In its Resolution,
the RTC stated that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies because the petitioner, in effect, prays for a
decree of absolute nullity of marriage.21 The trial court reiterated its two grounds for dismissal, i.e.
lack of personality to sue and improper venue under Sections 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
The RTC considered Fujiki as a "third person"22 in the proceeding because he "is not the husband in
the decree of divorce issued by the Japanese Family Court, which he now seeks to be judicially
recognized, x x x."23 On the other hand, the RTC did not explain its ground of impropriety of venue. It
only said that "[a]lthough the Court cited Sec. 4 (Venue) x x x as a ground for dismissal of this case[,]
it should be taken together with the other ground cited by the Court x x x which is Sec. 2(a) x x x." 24
The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition based on Braza v. The City Civil
Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental. 25 The Court in Braza ruled that "[i]n a special
proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Original
Registry), the trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages x x x." 26 Braza emphasized that the
"validity of marriages as well as legitimacy and filiation can be questioned only in a direct action
seasonably filed by the proper party, and not through a collateral attack such as [a] petition [for
correction of entry] x x x."27

The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the validity of marriage between Marinay
and Maekara. The trial court held that this is a "jurisdictional ground" to dismiss the
petition.28 Moreover, the verification and certification against forum shopping of the petition was not
authenticated as required under Section 529 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. Hence, this also warranted the
"immediate dismissal" of the petition under the same provision.

The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor General and the Letters of Marinay and
Maekara

On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their comment on the petition for
review.30 The public respondents, the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the Administrator and
Civil Registrar General of the NSO, participated through the Office of the Solicitor General. Instead of
a comment, the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion. 31

The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the RTCs "pronouncement that the
petitioner failed to comply with x x x A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC x x x be set aside" and that the case be
reinstated in the trial court for further proceedings. 32 The Solicitor General argued that Fujiki, as the
spouse of the first marriage, is an injured party who can sue to declare the bigamous marriage
between Marinay and Maekara void. The Solicitor General cited Juliano-Llave v. Republic33 which
held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in cases of bigamy. In Juliano-Llave,
this Court explained:

[t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she had only discovered during
the connubial period that the marriage was bigamous, and especially if the conjugal bliss had already
vanished. Should parties in a subsequent marriage benefit from the bigamous marriage, it would not
be expected that they would file an action to declare the marriage void and thus, in such
circumstance, the "injured spouse" who should be given a legal remedy is the one in a subsisting
previous marriage. The latter is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only
threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most of all, it
causes an emotional burden to the prior spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be a reminder
of the infidelity of the spouse and the disregard of the prior marriage which sanctity is protected by the
Constitution.34

The Solicitor General contended that the petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court judgment
may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding.35 In Corpuz v. Santo Tomas,36 this Court held that "[t]he
recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object
of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the
status or right of a party or a particular fact."37 While Corpuzconcerned a foreign divorce decree, in
the present case the Japanese Family Court judgment also affected the civil status of the parties,
especially Marinay, who is a Filipino citizen.

The Solicitor General asserted that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is the procedure to record "[a]cts,
events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons" in the civil registry as required by
Article 407 of the Civil Code. In other words, "[t]he law requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial
decrees that produce legal consequences upon a persons legal capacity and status x x x."38 The
Japanese Family Court judgment directly bears on the civil status of a Filipino citizen and should
therefore be proven as a fact in a Rule 108 proceeding.

Moreover, the Solicitor General argued that there is no jurisdictional infirmity in assailing a void
marriage under Rule 108, citing De Castro v. De Castro39 and Nial v. Bayadog40 which declared that
"[t]he validity of a void marriage may be collaterally attacked." 41

Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to comply with the directive for them to
comment on the petition.42 Maekara wrote that Marinay concealed from him the fact that she was
previously married to Fujiki.43Maekara also denied that he inflicted any form of violence on
Marinay.44 On the other hand, Marinay wrote that she had no reason to oppose the petition. 45 She
would like to maintain her silence for fear that anything she say might cause misunderstanding
between her and Fujiki.46

The Issues

Petitioner raises the following legal issues:

(1) Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of
Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) is applicable.

(2) Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to recognize a foreign
judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between his or her spouse and a foreign citizen
on the ground of bigamy.

(3) Whether the Regional Trial Court can recognize the foreign judgment in a proceeding for
cancellation or correction of entries in the Civil Registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.

The Ruling of the Court

We grant the petition.

The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages
(A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the
status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country. Moreover, in Juliano-
Llave v. Republic,47 this Court held that the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the husband or
wife can file a declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage "does not apply if the reason behind the
petition is bigamy."48

I.

For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage where one of
the parties is a citizen of a foreign country, the petitioner only needs to prove the foreign judgment as
a fact under the Rules of Court. To be more specific, a copy of the foreign judgment may be admitted
in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section
48(b) of the Rules of Court.49 Petitioner may prove the Japanese Family Court judgment through (1)
an official publication or (2) a certification or copy attested by the officer who has custody of the
judgment. If the office which has custody is in a foreign country such as Japan, the certification may
be made by the proper diplomatic or consular officer of the Philippine foreign service in Japan and
authenticated by the seal of office.50
To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for recognition of foreign judgment would
mean that the trial court and the parties should follow its provisions, including the form and contents
of the petition,51 the service of summons,52 the investigation of the public prosecutor,53 the setting of
pre-trial,54 the trial55 and the judgment of the trial court.56 This is absurd because it will litigate the
case anew. It will defeat the purpose of recognizing foreign judgments, which is "to limit repetitive
litigation on claims and issues."57 The interpretation of the RTC is tantamount to relitigating the case
on the merits. In Mijares v. Raada,58 this Court explained that "[i]f every judgment of a foreign court
were reviewable on the merits, the plaintiff would be forced back on his/her original cause of action,
rendering immaterial the previously concluded litigation."59

A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the civil status, condition and legal
capacity of its parties. However, the effect of a foreign judgment is not automatic. To extend the effect
of a foreign judgment in the Philippines, Philippine courts must determine if the foreign judgment is
consistent with domestic public policy and other mandatory laws. 60 Article 15 of the Civil Code
provides that "[l]aws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity
of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad." This is the rule
of lex nationalii in private international law. Thus, the Philippine State may require, for effectivity in the
Philippines, recognition by Philippine courts of a foreign judgment affecting its citizen, over whom it
exercises personal jurisdiction relating to the status, condition and legal capacity of such citizen.

A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does not require relitigation
under a Philippine court of the case as if it were a new petition for declaration of nullity of marriage.
Philippine courts cannot presume to know the foreign laws under which the foreign judgment was
rendered. They cannot substitute their judgment on the status, condition and legal capacity of the
foreign citizen who is under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine courts can only
recognize the foreign judgment as a fact according to the rules of evidence.

Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign judgment or final order against a
person creates a "presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in
interest by a subsequent title." Moreover, Section 48 of the Rules of Court states that "the judgment
or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party,
collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." Thus, Philippine courts exercise limited review on
foreign judgments. Courts are not allowed to delve into the merits of a foreign judgment. Once a
foreign judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine court, it can only be repelled on grounds
external to its merits, i.e. , "want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear
mistake of law or fact." The rule on limited review embodies the policy of efficiency and the protection
of party expectations,61 as well as respecting the jurisdiction of other states.62

Since 1922 in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,63 Philippine courts have recognized foreign divorce
decrees between a Filipino and a foreign citizen if they are successfully proven under the rules of
evidence.64 Divorce involves the dissolution of a marriage, but the recognition of a foreign divorce
decree does not involve the extended procedure under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the rules of ordinary
trial. While the Philippines does not have a divorce law, Philippine courts may, however, recognize a
foreign divorce decree under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, to capacitate a
Filipino citizen to remarry when his or her foreign spouse obtained a divorce decree abroad. 65

There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a fact the Japanese Family Court
judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy. While the
Philippines has no divorce law, the Japanese Family Court judgment is fully consistent with Philippine
public policy, as bigamous marriages are declared void from the beginning under Article 35(4) of the
Family Code. Bigamy is a crime under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. Thus, Fujiki can prove
the existence of the Japanese Family Court judgment in accordance with Rule 132, Sections 24 and
25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.

II.

Since the recognition of a foreign judgment only requires proof of fact of the judgment, it may be
made in a special proceeding for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry under Rule
108 of the Rules of Court. Rule 1, Section 3 of the Rules of Court provides that "[a] special
proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact." Rule
108 creates a remedy to rectify facts of a persons life which are recorded by the State pursuant to
the Civil Register Law or Act No. 3753. These are facts of public consequence such as birth, death or
marriage,66 which the State has an interest in recording. As noted by the Solicitor General, in Corpuz
v. Sto. Tomas this Court declared that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in
a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact."67

Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states:

Sec. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event, order or decree concerning
the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for
the cancellation or correction of any entry relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the
province where the corresponding civil registry is located. (Emphasis supplied)

Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying
the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy because the judgment
concerns his civil status as married to Marinay. For the same reason he has the personality to file a
petition under Rule 108 to cancel the entry of marriage between Marinay and Maekara in the civil
registry on the basis of the decree of the Japanese Family Court.

There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material interest in maintaining the
integrity of the marriage he contracted and the property relations arising from it. There is also no
doubt that he is interested in the cancellation of an entry of a bigamous marriage in the civil registry,
which compromises the public record of his marriage. The interest derives from the substantive right
of the spouse not only to preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances 68) his most intimate human
relation, but also to protect his property interests that arise by operation of law the moment he
contracts marriage.69 These property interests in marriage include the right to be supported "in
keeping with the financial capacity of the family" 70 and preserving the property regime of the
marriage.71

Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the Constitution, 72 but a spouses right in a
marriage extends further to relational rights recognized under Title III ("Rights and Obligations
between Husband and Wife") of the Family Code.73 A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC cannot "diminish,
increase, or modify" the substantive right of the spouse to maintain the integrity of his marriage. 74 In
any case, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC preserves this substantive right by limiting the
personality to sue to the husband or the wife of the union recognized by law.

Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse of a subsisting marriage to
question the validity of a subsequent marriage on the ground of bigamy. On the contrary, when
Section 2(a) states that "[a] petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be
filed solely by the husband or the wife"75it refers to the husband or the wife of the subsisting
marriage. Under Article 35(4) of the Family Code, bigamous marriages are void from the beginning.
Thus, the parties in a bigamous marriage are neither the husband nor the wife under the law. The
husband or the wife of the prior subsisting marriage is the one who has the personality to file a
petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage under Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-
SC.

Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous marriages void from the beginning, is the
civil aspect of Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code,76 which penalizes bigamy. Bigamy is a public
crime. Thus, anyone can initiate prosecution for bigamy because any citizen has an interest in the
prosecution and prevention of crimes.77 If anyone can file a criminal action which leads to the
declaration of nullity of a bigamous marriage, 78 there is more reason to confer personality to sue on
the husband or the wife of a subsisting marriage. The prior spouse does not only share in the public
interest of prosecuting and preventing crimes, he is also personally interested in the purely civil
aspect of protecting his marriage.

When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated, the spouse is clearly an injured party
and is therefore interested in the judgment of the suit.79 Juliano-Llave ruled that the prior spouse "is
clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only threatens the financial and the property
ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior
spouse."80 Being a real party in interest, the prior spouse is entitled to sue in order to declare a
bigamous marriage void. For this purpose, he can petition a court to recognize a foreign judgment
nullifying the bigamous marriage and judicially declare as a fact that such judgment is effective in the
Philippines. Once established, there should be no more impediment to cancel the entry of the
bigamous marriage in the civil registry.

III.

In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, this Court held that a
"trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages" in a special proceeding for cancellation or
correction of entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. 81 Thus, the "validity of marriage[] x x x can
be questioned only in a direct action" to nullify the marriage. 82 The RTC relied on Braza in dismissing
the petition for recognition of foreign judgment as a collateral attack on the marriage between Marinay
and Maekara.

Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying
a bigamous marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country.

To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil registry cannot substitute for
an action to invalidate a marriage. A direct action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the
substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family Code, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
and other related laws. Among these safeguards are the requirement of proving the limited grounds
for the dissolution of marriage,83 support pendente lite of the spouses and children,84 the liquidation,
partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses,85 and the investigation of the public
prosecutor to determine collusion.86 A direct action for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage
is also necessary to prevent circumvention of the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Family
Courts Act of 1997 (Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or correction of entries in
the civil registry may be filed in the Regional Trial Court "where the corresponding civil registry is
located."87 In other words, a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the mere expedient of
changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.

However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or cancellation of a civil registry entry based
on the recognition of a foreign judgment annulling a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of
the foreign country. There is neither circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of
marriage under Philippine law, nor of the jurisdiction of Family Courts under R.A. No. 8369. A
recognition of a foreign judgment is not an action to nullify a marriage. It is an action for Philippine
courts to recognize the effectivity of a foreign judgment, which presupposes a case which was
already tried and decided under foreign law. The procedure in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply
in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment annulling a bigamous marriage where one of the parties
is a citizen of the foreign country. Neither can R.A. No. 8369 define the jurisdiction of the foreign
court.

Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the effect of a foreign
divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without undergoing trial to determine the validity of the dissolution
of the marriage. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides that "[w]here a
marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter
validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse
shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law." In Republic v. Orbecido,88 this Court recognized
the legislative intent of the second paragraph of Article 26 which is "to avoid the absurd situation
where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no
longer married to the Filipino spouse"89 under the laws of his or her country. The second paragraph of
Article 26 of the Family Code only authorizes Philippine courts to adopt the effects of a foreign
divorce decree precisely because the Philippines does not allow divorce. Philippine courts cannot try
the case on the merits because it is tantamount to trying a case for divorce.

The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure to address the anomaly that results
from a marriage between a Filipino, whose laws do not allow divorce, and a foreign citizen, whose
laws allow divorce. The anomaly consists in the Filipino spouse being tied to the marriage while the
foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country. The correction is made by
extending in the Philippines the effect of the foreign divorce decree, which is already effective in the
country where it was rendered. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is based on
this Courts decision in Van Dorn v. Romillo90 which declared that the Filipino spouse "should not be
discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served." 91

The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a marriage between a Filipino and a foreign
citizen who obtains a foreign judgment nullifying the marriage on the ground of bigamy. The Filipino
spouse may file a petition abroad to declare the marriage void on the ground of bigamy. The principle
in the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code applies because the foreign spouse, after
the foreign judgment nullifying the marriage, is capacitated to remarry under the laws of his or her
country. If the foreign judgment is not recognized in the Philippines, the Filipino spouse will be
discriminatedthe foreign spouse can remarry while the Filipino spouse cannot remarry.

Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine courts are empowered to
correct a situation where the Filipino spouse is still tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is
free to marry. Moreover, notwithstanding Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine courts already have
jurisdiction to extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines to the extent that the foreign
judgment does not contravene domestic public policy. A critical difference between the case of a
foreign divorce decree and a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is that bigamy, as a
ground for the nullity of marriage, is fully consistent with Philippine public policy as expressed in
Article 35(4) of the Family Code and Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The Filipino spouse has
the option to undergo full trial by filing a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage under A.M. No.
02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only remedy available to him or her. Philippine courts have
jurisdiction to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage, without prejudice to a
criminal prosecution for bigamy.

In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are incompetent to substitute their judgment
on how a case was decided under foreign law. They cannot decide on the "family rights and duties, or
on the status, condition and legal capacity" of the foreign citizen who is a party to the foreign
judgment. Thus, Philippine courts are limited to the question of whether to extend the effect of a
foreign judgment in the Philippines. In a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage involving
a citizen of a foreign country, Philippine courts only decide whether to extend its effect to the Filipino
party, under the rule of lex nationalii expressed in Article 15 of the Civil Code.

For this purpose, Philippine courts will only determine (1) whether the foreign judgment is inconsistent
with an overriding public policy in the Philippines; and (2) whether any alleging party is able to prove
an extrinsic ground to repel the foreign judgment, i.e. want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party,
collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. If there is neither inconsistency with public policy nor
adequate proof to repel the judgment, Philippine courts should, by default, recognize the foreign
judgment as part of the comity of nations. Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court states that the
foreign judgment is already "presumptive evidence of a right between the parties." Upon recognition
of the foreign judgment, this right becomes conclusive and the judgment serves as the basis for the
correction or cancellation of entry in the civil registry. The recognition of the foreign judgment
nullifying a bigamous marriage is a subsequent event that establishes a new status, right and
fact92 that needs to be reflected in the civil registry. Otherwise, there will be an inconsistency between
the recognition of the effectivity of the foreign judgment and the public records in the
Philippines.1wphi1

However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is without prejudice to
prosecution for bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.93 The recognition of a foreign
judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is not a ground for extinction of criminal liability under
Articles 89 and 94 of the Revised Penal Code. Moreover, under Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code,
"[t]he term of prescription [of the crime of bigamy] shall not run when the offender is absent from the
Philippine archipelago."

Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is inapplicable, the Court no longer sees the need to address the
questions on venue and the contents and form of the petition under Sections 4 and 5, respectively, of
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Order dated 31 January 2011 and the Resolution dated
2 March 2011 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 107, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to REINSTATE the petition
for further proceedings in accordance with this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

Brion, Del Castillo, Perez, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1 Penned by Judge Jose L. Bautista Jr.
2 In Pasay City, Metro Manila.
3See rollo, p. 88; Trial Family Court Decree No. 15 of 2009, Decree of Absolute Nullity of
Marriage between Maria Paz Galela Marinay and Shinichi Maekara dated 18 August 2010.
Translated by Yoshiaki Kurisu, Kurisu Gyoseishoshi Lawyers Office (see rollo, p. 89).
4 Id.
5 FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES (E.O. No. 209 as amended):

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

xxxx

(4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not falling under Article 41;

xxxx

Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during subsistence of a previous marriage
shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the
prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present has a
well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance
where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the provisions of
Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.
6
Rollo, pp. 79-80.
7
The dispositive portion stated:

WHEREFORE, the instant case is hereby ordered DISMISSED and WITHDRAWN from the
active civil docket of this Court. The RTC-OCC, Quezon City is directed to refund to the
petitioner the amount of One Thousand Pesos (P1,000) to be taken from the Sheriffs Trust
Fund.
8Rollo, pp. 44-45. Section 5 of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages
and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) provides:

Sec. 5. Contents and form of petition. (1) The petition shall allege the complete facts
constituting the cause of action.

(2) It shall state the names and ages of the common children of the parties and specify
the regime governing their property relations, as well as the properties involved.

If there is no adequate provision in a written agreement between the parties, the


petitioner may apply for a provisional order for spousal support, custody and support of
common children, visitation rights, administration of community or conjugal property,
and other matters similarly requiring urgent action.

(3) It must be verified and accompanied by a certification against forum shopping. The
verification and certification must be signed personally by the petitioner. No petition may
be filed solely by counsel or through an attorney-in-fact.

If the petitioner is in a foreign country, the verification and certification against forum
shopping shall be authenticated by the duly authorized officer of the Philippine embassy
or legation, consul general, consul or vice-consul or consular agent in said country.
(4) It shall be filed in six copies. The petitioner shall serve a copy of the petition on the
Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the City or Provincial Prosecutor, within
five days from the date of its filing and submit to the court proof of such service within
the same period.

Failure to comply with any of the preceding requirements may be a ground for
immediate dismissal of the petition.
9
RULES OF COURT, Rule 1, Sec. 3(c). See rollo, pp. 55-56 (Petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration).
10 RULES OF COURT, Rule 1, Sec. 3(a).
11 FAMILY CODE (E.O. No. 209 as amended), Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void
from the beginning:

xxxx

(4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not falling under Article 41;

xxxx
12
Rollo, p. 56.

13 FAMILY CODE, Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations
of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization.
14 Rollo, p. 68.

15 Enacted 26 November 1930.


16
CIVIL CODE, Art. 413. All other matters pertaining to the registration of civil status shall be
governed by special laws.
17Act No. 3753, Sec. 7. Registration of marriage. - All civil officers and priests or ministers
authorized to solemnize marriages shall send a copy of each marriage contract solemnized by
them to the local civil registrar within the time limit specified in the existing Marriage Law.

In cases of divorce and annulment of marriage, it shall be the duty of the successful
petitioner for divorce or annulment of marriage to send a copy of the final decree of the
court to the local civil registrar of the municipality where the dissolved or annulled
marriage was solemnized.

In the marriage register there shall be entered the full name and address of each of the
contracting parties, their ages, the place and date of the solemnization of the marriage,
the names and addresses of the witnesses, the full name, address, and relationship of
the minor contracting party or parties or the person or persons who gave their consent
to the marriage, and the full name, title, and address of the person who solemnized the
marriage.
In cases of divorce or annulment of marriages, there shall be recorded the names of the
parties divorced or whose marriage was annulled, the date of the decree of the court,
and such other details as the regulations to be issued may require.
18 RULES OF COURT, Rule 108, Sec. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. Upon
good and valid grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be cancelled or
corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) judgments of
annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (g)
legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural children; (j) naturalization; (k)
election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (1) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of
filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name.
19 273 Phil. 1 (1991).
20 Id. at 7. See rollo, pp. 65 and 67.
21 Rollo, p. 47.

22 Id. at 46.
23 Id. at 48.
24
Id.
25 G.R. No. 181174, 4 December 2009, 607 SCRA 638.
26 Id. at 641.
27 Id. at 643.
28 See rollo, p. 49.

29 Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC states in part:

Contents and form of petition. x x x

xxxx

(3) It must be verified and accompanied by a certification against forum shopping. The
verification and certification must be signed personally by the petitioner. No petition may
be filed solely by counsel or through an attorney-in-fact.

If the petitioner is in a foreign country, the verification and certification against forum
shopping shall be authenticated by the duly authorized officer of the Philippine embassy
or legation, consul general, consul or vice-consul or consular agent in said country.

xxxx

Failure to comply with any of the preceding requirements may be a ground for
immediate dismissal of the petition.
30 Resolution dated 30 May 2011. Rollo, p. 105.

31 Under Solicitor General Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz.


32Rollo, p. 137. The "Conclusion and Prayer" of the "Manifestation and Motion (In Lieu of
Comment)" of the Solicitor General stated:

In fine, the court a quos pronouncement that the petitioner failed to comply with the
requirements provided in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC should accordingly be set aside. It is, thus,
respectfully prayed that Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 be reinstated for further proceedings.

Other reliefs, just and equitable under the premises are likewise prayed for.
33 G.R. No. 169766, 30 March 2011, 646 SCRA 637.
34 Id. at 656. Quoted in the Manifestation and Motion of the Solicitor General, pp. 8-9. See
rollo, pp. 132-133.
35
Rollo, p. 133.
36
G.R. No. 186571, 11 August 2010, 628 SCRA 266.
37 Id. at 287.
38 Rollo, p. 133.

39 G.R. No. 160172, 13 February 2008, 545 SCRA 162.


40 384 Phil. 661 (2000).
41 De Castro v. De Castro, supra note 39 at 169.

42 Supra note 30.


43 See rollo, p. 120.

44 Id.
45
See rollo, p. 146.

46 Id.
47 Supra note 33.
48 Supra note 33 at 655.
49RULES OF COURT, Rule 132, Sec. 24. Proof of official record. The record of public
documents referred to in paragraph (a) of Section 19, when admissible for any purpose, may
be evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the officer having the
legal custody of the record, or by his deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in the
Philippines, with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If the office in which the record
is kept is in a foreign country, the certificate may be made by a secretary of the embassy or
legation, consul general, consul, vice consul, or consular agent or by any officer in the foreign
service of the Philippines stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept, and
authenticated by the seal of his office.

Sec. 25. What attestation of copy must state. Whenever a copy of a document or
record is attested for the purpose of evidence, the attestation must state, in substance,
that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may
be. The attestation must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any,
or if he be the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court.

Rule 39, Sec. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. The effect of a judgment
or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment
or final order, is as follows:

(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment or final order
is conclusive upon the title of the thing; and

(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final order is
presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest
by a subsequent title.

In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of
jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
50See RULES OF COURT, Rule 132, Sec. 24-25. See also Corpuz v. Santo Tomas, supra
note 36 at 282.
51 A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, Sec. 5.
52 Id., Sec. 6.
53 Id., Sec. 9.
54 Id., Sec. 11-15.
55 Id., Sec. 17-18.
56 Id., Sec. 19 and 22-23.
57Mijares v. Raada, 495 Phil. 372, 386 (2005) citing Eugene Scoles & Peter Hay, Conflict of
Laws 916 (2nd ed., 1982).
58 Id.
59 Id. at 386.
60 Civil Code, Art. 17. x x x

xxxx
Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for
their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered
ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions
agreed upon in a foreign country.
61 Mijares v. Raada, supra note 57 at 386. "Otherwise known as the policy of preclusion, it
seeks to protect party expectations resulting from previous litigation, to safeguard against the
harassment of defendants, to insure that the task of courts not be increased by never-ending
litigation of the same disputes, and in a larger sense to promote what Lord Coke in the
Ferrers Case of 1599 stated to be the goal of all law: rest and quietness." (Citations omitted)
62Mijares v. Raada, supra note 57 at 382. "The rules of comity, utility and convenience of
nations have established a usage among civilized states by which final judgments of foreign
courts of competent jurisdiction are reciprocally respected and rendered efficacious under
certain conditions that may vary in different countries." (Citations omitted)
63 43 Phil. 43 (1922).
64Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas, G.R. No. 186571, 11 August 2010, 628 SCRA 266, 280; Garcia v.
Recio, 418 Phil. 723 (2001); Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee, supra.

65 FAMILY CODE, Art. 26. x x x

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce
is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the
Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
66Act No. 3753, Sec. 1. Civil Register. A civil register is established for recording the civil
status of persons, in which shall be entered: (a) births; (b) deaths; (c) marriages; (d)
annulments of marriages; (e) divorces; (f) legitimations; (g) adoptions; (h) acknowledgment of
natural children; (i) naturalization; and (j) changes of name.

Cf. RULES OF COURT, Rule 108, Sec. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction.
Upon good and valid grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be
cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e)
judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void from the
beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural children; (j)
naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (1) civil interdiction; (m)
judicial determination of filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes
of name.
67 Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas, supra note 36 at 287.

68 FAMILY CODE, Art. 35-67.


69 FAMILY CODE, Art. 74-148.
70 FAMILY CODE, Art. 195 in relation to Art. 194.
71 See supra note 69.
72CONSTITUTION, Art. III, Sec. 1: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property
without due process of law x x x."
73 FAMILY CODE, Art. 68-73.
74 CONSTITUTION, Art. VIII, Sec. 5(5). The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:

xxxx

(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights,
pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the
integrated bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a
simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be
uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify
substantive rights. x x x

x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
75
Emphasis supplied.
76Revised Penal Code (Act No. 3815, as amended), Art. 349. Bigamy. - The penalty of prisin
mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage
before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been
declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.
77 See III RAMON AQUINO, THE REVISED PENAL CODE (1997), 518.
78 RULES OF COURT, Rule 111, Sec. 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) When a
criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the
offense charged shall be deemed instituted with the criminal action unless the offended party
waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action
prior to the criminal action.

xxxx
79Cf. RULES OF COURT, Rule 3, Sec. 2. Parties in interest. A real party in interest is the
party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to
the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or these Rules, every action must be
prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest.
80 Juliano-Llave v. Republic, supra note 33.

81 Supra note 25.


82 Supra note 25.
83 See supra note 68.
84 FAMILY CODE, Art. 49. During the pendency of the action and in the absence of adequate
provisions in a written agreement between the spouses, the Court shall provide for the support
of the spouses and the custody and support of their common children. The Court shall give
paramount consideration to the moral and material welfare of said children and their choice of
the parent with whom they wish to remain as provided to in Title IX. It shall also provide for
appropriate visitation rights of the other parent.

Cf. RULES OF COURT, Rule 61.


85 FAMILY CODE, Art. 50. The effects provided for by paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and (5) of Article
43 and by Article 44 shall also apply in the proper cases to marriages which are declared ab
initio or annulled by final judgment under Articles 40 and 45.

The final judgment in such cases shall provide for the liquidation, partition and
distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody and support of the common
children, and the delivery of third presumptive legitimes, unless such matters had been
adjudicated in previous judicial proceedings.

All creditors of the spouses as well as of the absolute community or the conjugal
partnership shall be notified of the proceedings for liquidation.

In the partition, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated, shall be
adjudicated in accordance with the provisions of Articles 102 and 129.

A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, Sec. 19. Decision. (1) If the court renders a decision granting
the petition, it shall declare therein that the decree of absolute nullity or decree of
annulment shall be issued by the court only after compliance with Articles 50 and 51 of
the Family Code as implemented under the Rule on Liquidation, Partition and
Distribution of Properties.

xxxx
86FAMILY CODE, Art. 48. In all cases of annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of
marriage, the Court shall order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to appear on
behalf of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that
evidence is not fabricated or suppressed.

In the cases referred to in the preceding paragraph, no judgment shall be based upon a
stipulation of facts or confession of judgment.

A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, Sec. 9. Investigation report of public prosecutor. (1) Within
one month after receipt of the court order mentioned in paragraph (3) of Section 8
above, the public prosecutor shall submit a report to the court stating whether the
parties are in collusion and serve copies thereof on the parties and their respective
counsels, if any.

(2) If the public prosecutor finds that collusion exists, he shall state the basis thereof in
his report. The parties shall file their respective comments on the finding of collusion
within ten days from receipt of a copy of the report The court shall set the report for
hearing and if convinced that the parties are in collusion, it shall dismiss the petition.

(3) If the public prosecutor reports that no collusion exists, the court shall set the case
for pre-trial. It shall be the duty of the public prosecutor to appear for the State at the
pre-trial.
87 RULES OF COURT, Rule 108, Sec. 1.
88 509 Phil. 108 (2005).
89 Id. at 114.
90 223 Phil. 357 (1985).
91 Id. at 363.
92 See RULES OF COURT, Rule 1, Sec. 3(c).
93See RULES OF COURT, Rule 72, Sec. 2. Applicability of rules of civil actions. In the
absence of special provisions, the rules provided for in ordinary actions shall be, as far as
practicable, applicable in special proceedings.

Rule 111, Sec. 2. When separate civil action is suspended. x x x

If the criminal action is filed after the said civil action has already been instituted, the
latter shall be suspended in whatever stage it may be found before judgment on the
merits. The suspension shall last until final judgment is rendered in the criminal action.
Nevertheless, before judgment on the merits is rendered in the civil action, the same
may, upon motion of the offended party, be consolidated with the criminal action in the
court trying the criminal action. In case of consolidation, the evidence already adduced
in the civil action shall be deemed automatically reproduced in the criminal action
without prejudice to the right of the prosecution to cross-examine the witnesses
presented by the offended party in the criminal case and of the parties to present
additional evidence. The consolidated criminal and civil actions shall be tried and
decided jointly.

During the pendency of the criminal action, the running of the period of prescription of
the civil action which cannot be instituted separately or whose proceeding has been
suspended shall be tolled.

The extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the civil action.
However, the civil action based on delict shall be deemed extinguished if there is a
finding in a final judgment in the criminal action that the act or omission from which the
civil liability may arise did not exist.
FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 133778. March 14, 2000]

ENGRACE NIAL for Herself and as Guardian ad Litem of the minors BABYLINE NIAL, INGRID NIAL,
ARCHIE NIAL & PEPITO NIAL, JR., petitioners, vs. NORMA BAYADOG, respondent. Ncmmis

DECISION
YNARES_SANTIAGO, J.:

May the heirs of a deceased person file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage after his
death?

Pepito Nial was married to Teodulfa Bellones on September 26, 1974. Out of their marriage were
born herein petitioners. Teodulfa was shot by Pepito resulting in her death on April 24, 1985. One
year and 8 months thereafter or on December 11, 1986, Pepito and respondent Norma Badayog got
married without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, Pepito and Norma executed an affidavit dated
December 11, 1986 stating that they had lived together as husband and wife for at least five years
and were thus exempt from securing a marriage license. On February 19, 1997, Pepito died in a car
accident. After their fathers death, petitioners filed a petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage
of Pepito to Norma alleging that the said marriage was void for lack of a marriage license. The case
was filed under the assumption that the validity or invalidity of the second marriage would affect
petitioners successional rights. Norma filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that petitioners have no
cause of action since they are not among the persons who could file an action for "annulment of
marriage" under Article 47 of the Family Code.

Judge Ferdinand J. Marcos of the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissed
the petition after finding that the Family Code is "rather silent, obscure, insufficient" to resolve the
following issues:

(1) Whether or not plaintiffs have a cause of action against defendant in asking for the
declaration of the nullity of marriage of their deceased father, Pepito G. Nial, with her
specially so when at the time of the filing of this instant suit, their father Pepito G. Nial is
already dead;

(2) Whether or not the second marriage of plaintiffs deceased father with defendant is
null and void ab initio;

(3) Whether or not plaintiffs are estopped from assailing the validity of the second
marriage after it was dissolved due to their fathers death. [1]

Thus, the lower court ruled that petitioners should have filed the action to declare null and void their
fathers marriage to respondent before his death, applying by analogy Article 47 of the Family Code
which enumerates the time and the persons who could initiate an action for annulment of
marriage.[2] Hence, this petition for review with this Court grounded on a pure question of law. Scnc m

This petition was originally dismissed for non-compliance with Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules
of Civil Procedure, and because "the verification failed to state the basis of petitioners averment that
the allegations in the petition are true and correct." It was thus treated as an unsigned pleading which
produces no legal effect under Section 3, Rule 7, of the 1997 Rules.[3]However, upon motion of
petitioners, this Court reconsidered the dismissal and reinstated the petition for review. [4]

The two marriages involved herein having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code
(FC), the applicable law to determine their validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the
time of their celebration.[5] A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the
Civil Code,[6] the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initiopursuant to Article 80(3)[7] in
relation to Article 58.[8] The requirement and issuance of marriage license is the States demonstration
of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the general public
is interested.[9] This interest proceeds from the constitutional mandate that the State recognizes the
sanctity of family life and of affording protection to the family as a basic "autonomous social
institution."[10] Specifically, the Constitution considers marriage as an "inviolable social institution," and
is the foundation of family life which shall be protected by the State. [11] This is why the Family Code
considers marriage as "a special contract of permanent union"[12] and case law considers it "not just
an adventure but a lifetime commitment."[13]

However, there are several instances recognized by the Civil Code wherein a marriage license is
dispensed with, one of which is that provided in Article 76, [14] referring to the marriage of a man and a
woman who have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife for a
continuous and unbroken period of at least five years before the marriage. The rationale why no
license is required in such case is to avoid exposing the parties to humiliation, shame and
embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous cohabitation of persons outside a valid marriage
due to the publication of every applicants name for a marriage license. The publicity attending the
marriage license may discourage such persons from legitimizing their status. [15] To preserve peace in
the family, avoid the peeping and suspicious eye of public exposure and contain the source of gossip
arising from the publication of their names, the law deemed it wise to preserve their privacy and
exempt them from that requirement. Sdaa miso

There is no dispute that the marriage of petitioners father to respondent Norma was celebrated
without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, they executed an affidavit stating that "they have
attained the age of majority, and, being unmarried, have lived together as husband and wife for at
least five years, and that we now desire to marry each other." [16] The only issue that needs to be
resolved pertains to what nature of cohabitation is contemplated under Article 76 of the Civil Code to
warrant the counting of the five year period in order to exempt the future spouses from securing a
marriage license. Should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties are capacitated to marry each
other during the entire five-year continuous period or should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties
have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife during the entire five-year
continuous period regardless of whether there is a legal impediment to their being lawfully married,
which impediment may have either disappeared or intervened sometime during the cohabitation
period?

Working on the assumption that Pepito and Norma have lived together as husband and wife for five
years without the benefit of marriage, that five-year period should be computed on the basis of a
cohabitation as "husband and wife" where the only missing factor is the special contract of marriage
to validate the union. In other words, the five-year common-law cohabitation period, which is counted
back from the date of celebration of marriage, should be a period of legal union had it not been for the
absence of the marriage. This 5-year period should be the years immediately before the day of the
marriage and it should be a period of cohabitation characterized by exclusivity meaning no third party
was involved at any time within the 5 years and continuity that is unbroken. Otherwise, if that
continuous 5-year cohabitation is computed without any distinction as to whether the parties were
capacitated to marry each other during the entire five years, then the law would be sanctioning
immorality and encouraging parties to have common law relationships and placing them on the same
footing with those who lived faithfully with their spouse. Marriage being a special relationship must be
respected as such and its requirements must be strictly observed. The presumption that a man and a
woman deporting themselves as husband and wife is based on the approximation of the requirements
of the law. The parties should not be afforded any excuse to not comply with every single requirement
and later use the same missing element as a pre-conceived escape ground to nullify their marriage.
There should be no exemption from securing a marriage license unless the circumstances clearly fall
within the ambit of the exception. It should be noted that a license is required in order to notify the
public that two persons are about to be united in matrimony and that anyone who is aware or has
knowledge of any impediment to the union of the two shall make it known to the local civil
registrar.[17] The Civil Code provides:
Article 63: "x x x. This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any
impediment to the marriage to advice the local civil registrar thereof. x x x."

Article 64: "Upon being advised of any alleged impediment to the marriage, the local
civil registrar shall forthwith make an investigation, examining persons under oath. x x
x"Sdaad

This is reiterated in the Family Code thus:

Article 17 provides in part: "x x x. This notice shall request all persons having knowledge
of any impediment to the marriage to advise the local civil registrar thereof. x x x."

Article 18 reads in part: "x x x. In case of any impediment known to the local civil
registrar or brought to his attention, he shall note down the particulars thereof and his
findings thereon in the application for a marriage license. x x x."

This is the same reason why our civil laws, past or present, absolutely prohibited the concurrence of
multiple marriages by the same person during the same period. Thus, any marriage subsequently
contracted during the lifetime of the first spouse shall be illegal and void,[18] subject only to the
exception in cases of absence or where the prior marriage was dissolved or annulled. The Revised
Penal Code complements the civil law in that the contracting of two or more marriages and the having
of extramarital affairs are considered felonies, i.e., bigamy and concubinage and adultery.[19] The law
sanctions monogamy.

In this case, at the time of Pepito and respondents marriage, it cannot be said that they have lived
with each other as husband and wife for at least five years prior to their wedding day. From the time
Pepitos first marriage was dissolved to the time of his marriage with respondent, only about twenty
months had elapsed. Even assuming that Pepito and his first wife had separated in fact, and
thereafter both Pepito and respondent had started living with each other that has already lasted for
five years, the fact remains that their five-year period cohabitation was not the cohabitation
contemplated by law. It should be in the nature of a perfect union that is valid under the law but
rendered imperfect only by the absence of the marriage contract. Pepito had a subsisting marriage at
the time when he started cohabiting with respondent. It is immaterial that when they lived with each
other, Pepito had already been separated in fact from his lawful spouse. The subsistence of the
marriage even where there was actual severance of the filial companionship between the spouses
cannot make any cohabitation by either spouse with any third party as being one as "husband and
wife". Scs daad

Having determined that the second marriage involved in this case is not covered by the exception to
the requirement of a marriage license, it is void ab initio because of the absence of such element.

The next issue to be resolved is: do petitioners have the personality to file a petition to declare their
fathers marriage void after his death?

Contrary to respondent judges ruling, Article 47 of the Family Code [20] cannot be applied even by
analogy to petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage. The second ground for annulment of
marriage relied upon by the trial court, which allows "the sane spouse" to file an annulment suit "at
any time before the death of either party" is inapplicable. Article 47 pertains to the grounds, periods
and persons who can file an annulment suit, not a suit for declaration of nullity of marriage. The Code
is silent as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of a marriage. Voidable and void marriages
are not identical. A marriage that is annulable is valid until otherwise declared by the court; whereas a
marriage that is void ab initio is considered as having never to have taken place[21] and cannot be the
source of rights. The first can be generally ratified or confirmed by free cohabitation or prescription
while the other can never be ratified. A voidable marriage cannot be assailed collaterally except in a
direct proceeding while a void marriage can be attacked collaterally. Consequently, void marriages
can be questioned even after the death of either party but voidable marriages can be assailed only
during the lifetime of the parties and not after death of either, in which case the parties and their
offspring will be left as if the marriage had been perfectly valid. [22] That is why the action or defense
for nullity is imprescriptible, unlike voidable marriages where the action prescribes. Only the parties to
a voidable marriage can assail it but any proper interested party may attack a void marriage. Void
marriages have no legal effects except those declared by law concerning the properties of the alleged
spouses, regarding co-ownership or ownership through actual joint contribution, [23] and its effect on
the children born to such void marriages as provided in Article 50 in relation to Article 43 and 44 as
well as Article 51, 53 and 54 of the Family Code. On the contrary, the property regime governing
voidable marriages is generally conjugal partnership and the children conceived before its annulment
are legitimate. Sup rema

Contrary to the trial courts ruling, the death of petitioners father extinguished the alleged marital bond
between him and respondent. The conclusion is erroneous and proceeds from a wrong premise that
there was a marriage bond that was dissolved between the two. It should be noted that their marriage
was void hence it is deemed as if it never existed at all and the death of either extinguished nothing.

Jurisprudence under the Civil Code states that no judicial decree is necessary in order to establish
the nullity of a marriage.[24] "A void marriage does not require a judicial decree to restore the parties to
their original rights or to make the marriage void but though no sentence of avoidance be absolutely
necessary, yet as well for the sake of good order of society as for the peace of mind of all concerned,
it is expedient that the nullity of the marriage should be ascertained and declared by the decree of a
court of competent jurisdiction."[25] "Under ordinary circumstances, the effect of a void marriage, so far
as concerns the conferring of legal rights upon the parties, is as though no marriage had ever taken
place. And therefore, being good for no legal purpose, its invalidity can be maintained in any
proceeding in which the fact of marriage may be material, either direct or collateral, in any civil court
between any parties at any time, whether before or after the death of either or both the husband and
the wife, and upon mere proof of the facts rendering such marriage void, it will be disregarded or
treated as non-existent by the courts." It is not like a voidable marriage which cannot be collaterally
attacked except in direct proceeding instituted during the lifetime of the parties so that on the death of
either, the marriage cannot be impeached, and is made good ab initio.[26] But Article 40 of the Family
Code expressly provides that there must be a judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage,
though void, before a party can enter into a second marriage[27] and such absolute nullity can be
based only on a final judgment to that effect. [28] For the same reason, the law makes either the action
or defense for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage imprescriptible. [29] Corollarily, if the death
of either party would extinguish the cause of action or the ground for defense, then the same cannot
be considered imprescriptible. Juris

However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a marriage
an absolute nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to determination of heirship, legitimacy
or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate, dissolution of property regime, or a criminal case for
that matter, the court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to
question the same so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice
to any issue that may arise in the case. When such need arises, a final judgment of declaration of
nullity is necessary even if the purpose is other than to remarry. The clause "on the basis of a final
judgment declaring such previous marriage void" in Article 40 of the Family Code connotes that such
final judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of remarriage.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Order of the Regional Trial Court, Toledo
City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissing Civil Case No. T-639, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The said
case is ordered REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., (Chairman), Puno, and Kapunan, JJ., concur. Sc juris

Pardo, J., on official business abroad.

FIRST DIVISION
[A.M. No. MTJ-00-1329. March 8, 2001]

HERMINIA BORJA-MANZANO, petitioner, vs. JUDGE ROQUE R. SANCHEZ, MTC, Infanta,


Pangasinan, respondent.

RESOLUTION
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:

The solemnization of a marriage between two contracting parties who were both bound by a prior
existing marriage is the bone of contention of the instant complaint against respondent Judge Roque
R. Sanchez, Municipal Trial Court, Infanta, Pangasinan. For this act, complainant Herminia Borja-
Manzano charges respondent Judge with gross ignorance of the law in a sworn Complaint-Affidavit
filed with the Office of the Court Administrator on 12 May 1999.
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 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 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 the marriage
contract clearly stated that both contracting parties were separated.
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.
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 and be ordered to pay a fine of P2,000,
with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act would be dealt with more severely.
On 25 October 2000, this Court required the parties to manifest whether they were willing to submit
the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings thus filed. Complainant answered in the affirmative.
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 the attention of the Court to two
separate affidavits[5] of the late Manzano and of Payao, which were allegedly unearthed by a member
of his staff upon his instruction. In those affidavits, both David Manzano and Luzviminda Payao
expressly stated that they were married to Herminia Borja and Domingo Relos, respectively; and that
since their respective marriages had been marked by constant quarrels, they had both left their families
and had never cohabited or communicated with their spouses anymore. Respondent Judge alleges
that on the basis of those affidavits, he agreed to solemnize the marriage in question in accordance
with Article 34 of the Family Code.
We find merit in the complaint.
Article 34 of the Family Code provides:

No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as
husband and wife for at least five years and 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 parties and found no legal impediment to the marriage.

For this provision on legal ratification of marital cohabitation to apply, the following requisites must
concur:
1. The man and woman must have been living together as husband and wife for at least five
years before the marriage;
2. The parties must have no legal impediment to marry each other;
3. The fact of absence of legal impediment between the parties must be present at the time
of marriage;
4. The parties must execute an affidavit stating that they have lived together for at least five
years [and are without legal impediment to marry each other]; and
5. The solemnizing officer must execute a sworn statement that he had ascertained the
qualifications of the parties and that he had found no legal impediment to their marriage. [6]
Not all of these requirements are present in the case at bar. It is significant to note that in their
separate affidavits executed on 22 March 1993 and sworn to before respondent Judge himself, David
Manzano and Luzviminda Payao expressly stated the fact of their prior existing marriage. Also, in their
marriage contract, it was 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 stated, legal separation does not dissolve the marriage tie, much less authorize the
parties to remarry. This holds true all the more when the separation is merely de facto, as in the case
at bar.
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 for seven years. Just like separation,
free and voluntary cohabitation with another 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 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 marriage.
Clearly, respondent Judge demonstrated gross ignorance of the law when he solemnized a void
and bigamous marriage. The maxim ignorance of the law excuses no one has special application to
judges,[8] who, under Rule 1.01 of the 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 basic legal principles.[9] And when the law transgressed is simple and elementary, the failure to
know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. [10]
ACCORDINGLY, the recommendation of the Court Administrator is hereby ADOPTED, with
the MODIFICATION that the amount of fine to be imposed upon respondent Judge Roque Sanchez is
increased to P20,000.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, Kapunan, Pardo, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
SECOND DIVISION
REINEL ANTHONY B. DE CASTRO, G.R. No. 160172
Petitioner,
Present:

QUISUMBING, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.
ANNABELLE ASSIDAO-DE CASTRO,
Respondent.
Promulgated:
February 13, 2008

x---------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

TINGA, J.:

This is a petition for review of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR CV. No.
69166,[2] declaring that (1) Reianna Tricia A. De Castro is the legitimate child of the petitioner; and (2)
that the marriage between petitioner and respondent is valid until properly nullified by a competent court
in a proceeding instituted for that purpose.

The facts of the case, as culled from the records, follow.

Petitioner and respondent met and became sweethearts in 1991. They planned to get married, thus
they applied for a marriage license with the Office of the Civil Registrar of Pasig City in September
1994. They had their first sexual relation sometime in October 1994, and had regularly engaged in sex
thereafter. When the couple went back to the Office of the Civil Registrar, the marriage license had
already expired. Thus, in order to push through with the plan, in lieu of a marriage license, they
executed an affidavit dated 13 March 1995 stating that they had been living together as husband and
wife for at least five years. The couple got married on the same date, with Judge Jose C. Bernabe,
presiding judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasig City, administering the civil rites. Nevertheless,
after the ceremony, petitioner and respondent went back to their respective homes and did not live
together as husband and wife.

On 13 November 1995, respondent gave birth to a child named Reinna Tricia A. De Castro. Since the
childs birth, respondent has been the one supporting her out of her income as a government dentist
and from her private practice.

On 4 June 1998, respondent filed a complaint for support against petitioner before
the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City (trial court.[3] In her complaint, respondent alleged that she is
married to petitioner and that the latter has reneged on his responsibility/obligation to financially support
her as his wife and Reinna Tricia as his child.[4]

Petitioner denied that he is married to respondent, claiming that their marriage is void ab
initio since the marriage was facilitated by a fake affidavit; and that he was merely prevailed upon by
respondent to sign the marriage contract to save her from embarrassment and possible administrative
prosecution due to her pregnant state; and that he was not able to get parental advice from his parents
before he got married. He also averred that they never lived together as husband and wife and that he
has never seen nor acknowledged the child.

In its Decision dated 16 October 2000,[5] the trial court ruled that the marriage between petitioner
and respondent is not valid because it was solemnized without a marriage license. However, it declared
petitioner as the natural father of the child, and thus obliged to give her support. Petitioner elevated the
case to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion when,
on the basis of mere belief and conjecture, it ordered him to provide support to the child when the latter
is not, and could not have been, his own child.

The Court of Appeals denied the appeal. Prompted by the rule that a marriage is presumed to
be subsisting until a judicial declaration of nullity has been made, the appellate court declared that the
child was born during the subsistence and validity of the parties marriage. In addition, the Court of
Appeals frowned upon petitioners refusal to undergo DNA testing to prove the paternity and filiation, as
well as his refusal to state with certainty the last time he had carnal knowledge with respondent, saying
that petitioners forgetfulness should not be used as a vehicle to relieve him of his obligation and reward
him of his being irresponsible.[6] Moreover, the Court of Appeals noted the affidavit dated 7 April
1998 executed by petitioner, wherein he voluntarily admitted that he is the legitimate father of the child.

The appellate court also ruled that since this case is an action for support, it was improper for
the trial court to declare the marriage of petitioner and respondent as null and void in the very same
case. There was no participation of the State, through the prosecuting attorney or fiscal, to see to it that
there is no collusion between the parties, as required by the Family Code in actions for declaration of
nullity of a marriage. The burden of proof to show that the marriage is void rests upon petitioner, but it
is a matter that can be raised in an action for declaration of nullity, and not in the instant
proceedings. The proceedings before the trial court should have been limited to the obligation of
petitioner to support the child and his wife on the basis of the marriage apparently and voluntarily
entered into by petitioner and respondent. [7] The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated 16 October 2000, of the
Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, National Capital Judicial Region, Brach 70, in JDRC
No. 4626, is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATIONS (1) declaring Reianna Tricia A. De
Castro, as the legitimate child of the appellant and the appellee and (2) declaring the
marriage on 13 March 1995 between the appellant and the appellee valid until properly
annulled by a competent court in a proceeding instituted for that purpose. Costs against
the appellant.[8]

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the motion was denied by the Court of
Appeals.[9] Hence this petition.

Before us, petitioner contends that the trial court properly annulled his marriage with respondent
because as shown by the evidence and admissions of the parties, the marriage was celebrated without
a marriage license. He stresses that the affidavit they executed, in lieu of a marriage license, contained
a false narration of facts, the truth being that he and respondent never lived together as husband and
wife. The false affidavit should never be allowed or admitted as a substitute to fill the absence of a
marriage license.[10]Petitioner additionally argues that there was no need for the appearance of a
prosecuting attorney in this case because it is only an ordinary action for support and not an action for
annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage. In any case, petitioner argues that the trial
court had jurisdiction to determine the invalidity of their marriage since it was validly invoked as an
affirmative defense in the instant action for support. Citing several authorities,[11] petitioner claims that
a void marriage can be the subject of a collateral attack. Thus, there is no necessity to institute another
independent proceeding for the declaration of nullity of the marriage between the parties. The refiling
of another case for declaration of nullity where the same evidence and parties would be
presented would entail enormous expenses and anxieties, would be time-consuming for the parties,
and would increase the burden of the courts.[12] Finally, petitioner claims that in view of the nullity of his
marriage with respondent and his vigorous denial of the childs paternity and filiation, the Court of
Appeals gravely erred in declaring the child as his legitimate child.

In a resolution dated 16 February 2004, the Court required respondent and the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG) to file their respective comments on the petition. [13]

In her Comment,[14] respondent claims that the instant petition is a mere dilatory tactic to thwart
the finality of the decision of the Court of Appeals. Echoing the findings and rulings of the appellate
court, she argues that the legitimacy of their marriage cannot be attacked collaterally, but can only be
repudiated or contested in a direct suit specifically brought for that purpose. With regard to the filiation
of her child, she pointed out that compared to her candid and straightforward testimony, petitioner was
uncertain, if not evasive in answering questions about their sexual encounters. Moreover, she adds
that despite the challenge from her and from the trial court, petitioner strongly objected to being
subjected to DNA testing to prove paternity and filiation. [15]

For its part, the OSG avers that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that it was improper for the trial
court to declare null and void the marriage of petitioner and respondent in the action for support. Citing
the case of Nial v. Bayadog,[16] it states that courts may pass upon the validity of a marriage in an action
for support, since the right to support from petitioner hinges on the existence of a valid
marriage. Moreover, the evidence presented during the proceedings in the trial court showed that the
marriage between petitioner and respondent was solemnized without a marriage license, and that their
affidavit (of a man and woman who have lived together and exclusively with each other as husband
and wife for at least five years) was false. Thus, it
concludes the trial court correctly held that the marriage between petitioner and respondent is not vali
d.[17] In addition, the OSG agrees with the findings of the trial court that the child is an illegitimate child
of petitioner and thus entitled to support.[18]

Two key issues are presented before us. First, whether the trial court had the jurisdiction to determine
the validity of the marriage between petitioner and respondent in an action for support and second,
whether the child is the daughter of petitioner.

Anent the first issue, the Court holds that the trial court had jurisdiction to determine the validity of the
marriage between petitioner and respondent. The validity of a void marriage may be collaterally
attacked.[19] Thus, in Nial v. Bayadog, we held:
However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to
declare a marriage an absolute nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to
determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate,
dissolution of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may pass upon
the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to question the same so long as
it is essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice to any issue that
may arise in the case. When such need arises, a final judgment of declaration of nullity is
necessary even if the purpose is other than to remarry. The clause on the basis of a final
judgment declaring such previous marriage void in Article 40 of the Family Code connotes
that such final judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of remarriage. [20]

Likewise, in Nicdao Cario v. Yee Cario,[21] the Court ruled that it is clothed with sufficient authority to
pass upon the validity of two marriages despite the main case being a claim for death
benefits. Reiterating Nial, we held that the Court may pass upon the validity of a marriage even in a suit
not directly instituted to question the validity of said marriage, so long as it is essential to the
determination of the case. However, evidence must be adduced, testimonial or documentary, to prove
the existence of grounds rendering such a marriage an absolute nullity. [22]

Under the Family Code, the absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the
marriage void ab initio, whereas a defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage
voidable.[23] In the instant case, it is clear from the evidence presented that petitioner and respondent
did not have a marriage license when they contracted their marriage. Instead, they presented an
affidavit stating that they had been living together for more than five years. [24] However, respondent
herself in effect admitted the falsity of the affidavit when she was asked during cross-examination, thus

ATTY. CARPIO:

Q But despite of (sic) the fact that you have not been living together as husband and wife
for the last five years on or before March 13, 1995, you signed the Affidavit, is that
correct?
A Yes, sir.[25]

The falsity of the affidavit cannot be considered as a mere irregularity in the formal requisites of
marriage. The law dispenses with the marriage license requirement for a man and a woman who have
lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife for a continuous and unbroken
period of at least five years before the marriage. The aim of this provision is to avoid exposing the
parties to humiliation, shame and embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous cohabitation of
persons outside a valid marriage due to the publication of every applicants name for a marriage
license.[26] In the instant case, there was no scandalous cohabitation to protect; in fact, there was no
cohabitation at all.The false affidavit which petitioner and respondent executed so they could push
through with the marriage has no value whatsoever; it is a mere scrap of paper. They were not exempt
from the marriage license requirement. Their failure to obtain and present a marriage license renders
their marriage void ab initio.

Anent the second issue, we find that the child is petitioners illegitimate daughter, and therefore entitled
to support.

Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same way and on the same evidence
as legitimate children.[27] Thus, one can prove illegitimate filiation through the record of birth appearing
in the civil register or a final judgment, an admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a
private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned, or the open and continuous
possession of the status of a legitimate child, or any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and
special laws.[28]

The Certificate of Live Birth[29] of the child lists petitioner as the father. In addition, petitioner, in an
affidavit waiving additional tax exemption in favor of respondent, admitted that he is the father of the
child, thus stating:

1. I am the legitimate father of REIANNA TRICIA A. DE CASTRO who was born


on November 3, 1995 at Better Living, Paraaque, Metro Manila;[30]

We are likewise inclined to agree with the following findings of the trial court:

That Reinna Tricia is the child of the respondent with the petitioner is supported not only
by the testimony of the latter, but also by respondents own admission in the course of his
testimony wherein he conceded that petitioner was his former girlfriend. While they were
sweethearts, he used to visit petitioner at the latters house or clinic. At times, they would
go to a motel to have sex. As a result of their sexual dalliances, petitioner became pregnant
which ultimately led to their marriage, though invalid, as earlier ruled. While respondent
claims that he was merely forced to undergo the marriage ceremony, the pictures taken
of the occasion reveal otherwise (Exhs. B, B-1, to B-3, C, C-1 and C-2, D, D-1 and D-2, E,
E-1 and E-2, F, F-1 and F-2, G, G-1 and G-2 and H, H-1 to H-3). In one of the pictures
(Exhs. D, D-1 and D-2), defendant is seen putting the wedding ring on petitioners finger
and in another picture (Exhs. E, E-1 and E-2) respondent is seen in the act of kissing the
petitioner.[31]

WHEREFORE, the petition is granted in part. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court
of Appeals in CA-GR CV No. 69166 are SET ASIDE and the decision of the Regional Trial Court
Branch 70 of Pasig City in JDRC No. 4626 dated 16 October 2000 is hereby REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION

REPUBLIC OF THE G.R. No. 175581


PHILIPPINES,
Petitioner,

- versus -

JOSE A. DAYOT, G.R. No. 179474


Respondent.
x------------------x Present:
FELISA TECSON-DAYOT,
Petitioner, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.,
Acting Chairperson,
TINGA,*
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO,** and
REYES, JJ.

- versus -

Promulgated:

March 28, 2008

JOSE A. DAYOT,
Respondent.
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Before us are two consolidated petitions. G.R. No. 175581 and G.R. No. 179474 are Petitions
for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court filed by the Republic of the Philippines and Felisa
Tecson-Dayot (Felisa), respectively, both challenging the Amended Decision [1] of the Court of Appeals,
dated 7 November 2006, in CA-G.R. CV No. 68759, which declared the marriage between Jose Dayot
(Jose) and Felisa void ab initio.

The records disclose that on 24 November 1986, Jose and Felisa were married at the Pasay City
Hall. The marriage was solemnized by Rev. Tomas V. Atienza.[2] In lieu of a marriage license, Jose and
Felisa executed a sworn affidavit,[3] also dated 24 November 1986, attesting that both of them had
attained the age of maturity, and that being unmarried, they had lived together as husband and wife for
at least five years.

On 7 July 1993, Jose filed a Complaint[4] for Annulment and/or Declaration of Nullity of Marriage
with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Bian, Laguna, Branch 25. He contended that his marriage with
Felisa was a sham, as no marriage ceremony was celebrated between the parties; that he did not
execute the sworn affidavit stating that he and Felisa had lived as husband and wife for at least five
years; and that his consent to the marriage was secured through fraud.

In his Complaint, Jose gave his version of the events which led to his filing of the
same. According to Jose, he was introduced to Felisa in 1986. Immediately thereafter, he came to live
as a boarder in Felisas house, the latter being his landlady. Some three weeks later, Felisa requested
him to accompany her to the Pasay City Hall, ostensibly so she could claim a package sent to her by
her brother from Saudi Arabia. At the Pasay City Hall, upon a pre-arranged signal from Felisa, a man
bearing three folded pieces of paper approached them. They were told that Jose needed to sign the
papers so that the package could be released to Felisa. He initially refused to do so. However, Felisa
cajoled him, and told him that his refusal could get both of them killed by her brother who had learned
about their relationship. Reluctantly, he signed the pieces of paper, and gave them to the man who
immediately left. It was in February 1987 when he discovered that he had contracted marriage with
Felisa. He alleged that he saw a piece of paper lying on top of the table at the sala of Felisas
house. When he perused the same, he discovered that it was a copy of his marriage contract with
Felisa. When he confronted Felisa, the latter feigned ignorance.

In opposing the Complaint, Felisa denied Joses allegations and defended the validity of their
marriage. She declared that they had maintained their relationship as man and wife absent the legality
of marriage in the early part of 1980, but that she had deferred contracting marriage with him on account
of their age difference.[5] In her pre-trial brief, Felisa expounded that while her marriage to Jose was
subsisting, the latter contracted marriage with a certain Rufina Pascual (Rufina) on 31 August
1990. On 3 June 1993, Felisa filed an action for bigamy against Jose. Subsequently, she filed an
administrative complaint against Jose with the Office of the Ombudsman, since Jose and Rufina were
both employees of the National Statistics and Coordinating Board. [6] The Ombudsman found Jose
administratively liable for disgraceful and immoral conduct, and meted out to him the penalty of
suspension from service for one year without emolument. [7]

On 26 July 2000, the RTC rendered a Decision[8] dismissing the Complaint. It disposed:

WHEREFORE, after a careful evaluation and analysis of the evidence presented


by both parties, this Court finds and so holds that the [C]omplaint does not deserve a
favorable consideration. Accordingly, the above-entitled case is hereby ordered
DISMISSED with costs against [Jose].[9]

The RTC ruled that from the testimonies and evidence presented, the marriage celebrated
between Jose and Felisa on 24 November 1986 was valid. It dismissed Joses version of the story as
implausible, and rationalized that:

Any person in his right frame of mind would easily suspect any attempt to make
him or her sign a blank sheet of paper. [Jose] could have already detected that something
was amiss, unusual, as they were at Pasay City Hall to get a package for [Felisa] but it
[was] he who was made to sign the pieces of paper for the release of the said
package. Another indirect suggestion that could have put him on guard was the fact that,
by his own admission, [Felisa] told him that her brother would kill them if he will not sign
the papers. And yet it took him, more or less, three months to discover that the pieces of
paper that he signed was [sic] purportedly the marriage contract. [Jose] does not seem
to be that ignorant, as perceived by this Court, to be taken in for a ride by [Felisa.]
[Joses] claim that he did not consent to the marriage was belied by the fact that he
acknowledged Felisa Tecson as his wife when he wrote [Felisas] name in the duly
notarized statement of assets and liabilities he filled up on May 12, 1988, one year after
he discovered the marriage contract he is now claiming to be sham and false. [Jose],
again, in his company I.D., wrote the name of [Felisa] as the person to be contacted in
case of emergency. This Court does not believe that the only reason why her name was
written in his company I.D. was because he was residing there then. This is just but a
lame excuse because if he really considers her not his lawfully wedded wife, he would
have written instead the name of his sister.

When [Joses] sister was put into the witness stand, under oath, she testified that
she signed her name voluntarily as a witness to the marriage in the marriage certificate
(T.S.N., page 25, November 29, 1996) and she further testified that the signature
appearing over the name of Jose Dayot was the signature of his [sic] brother that he
voluntarily affixed in the marriage contract (page 26 of T.S.N. taken on November 29,
1996), and when she was asked by the Honorable Court if indeed she believed that Felisa
Tecson was really chosen by her brother she answered yes.The testimony of his sister
all the more belied his claim that his consent was procured through fraud. [10]

Moreover, on the matter of fraud, the RTC ruled that Joses action had prescribed. It cited Article
87[11]
of the New Civil Code which requires that the action for annulment of marriage must be
commenced by the injured party within four years after the discovery of the fraud. Thus:

That granting even for the sake of argument that his consent was obtained by
[Felisa] through fraud, trickery and machinations, he could have filed an annulment or
declaration of nullity of marriage at the earliest possible opportunity, the time when he
discovered the alleged sham and false marriage contract. [Jose] did not take any action
to void the marriage at the earliest instance. x x x.[12]

Undeterred, Jose filed an appeal from the foregoing RTC Decision to the Court of Appeals. In a
Decision dated 11 August 2005, the Court of Appeals found the appeal to be without merit. The
dispositive portion of the appellate courts Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. [13]


The Court of Appeals applied the Civil Code to the marriage between Jose and Felisa as it was
solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code. The appellate court observed that the
circumstances constituting fraud as a ground for annulment of marriage under Article 86[14] of the Civil
Code did not exist in the marriage between the parties.Further, it ruled that the action for annulment of
marriage on the ground of fraud was filed beyond the prescriptive period provided by law. The Court of
Appeals struck down Joses appeal in the following manner:

Nonetheless, even if we consider that fraud or intimidation was employed on Jose in


giving his consent to the marriage, the action for the annulment thereof had already
prescribed. Article 87 (4) and (5) of the Civil Code provides that the action for annulment
of marriage on the ground that the consent of a party was obtained by fraud, force or
intimidation must be commenced by said party within four (4) years after the discovery of
the fraud and within four (4) years from the time the force or intimidation
ceased. Inasmuch as the fraud was allegedly discovered by Jose in February, 1987 then
he had only until February, 1991 within which to file an action for annulment of
marriage. However, it was only on July 7, 1993 that Jose filed the complaint for annulment
of his marriage to Felisa.[15]

Likewise, the Court of Appeals did not accept Joses assertion that his marriage to Felisa was
void ab initio for lack of a marriage license. It ruled that the marriage was solemnized under Article
76[16] of the Civil Code as one of exceptional character, with the parties executing an affidavit of
marriage between man and woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five
years. The Court of Appeals concluded that the falsity in the affidavit to the effect that Jose and Felisa
had lived together as husband and wife for the period required by Article 76 did not affect the validity
of the marriage, seeing that the solemnizing officer was misled by the statements contained therein. In
this manner, the Court of Appeals gave credence to the good-faith reliance of the solemnizing officer
over the falsity of the affidavit. The appellate court further noted that on the dorsal side of said affidavit
of marriage, Rev. Tomas V. Atienza, the solemnizing officer, stated that he took steps to ascertain the
ages and other qualifications of the contracting parties and found no legal impediment to their
marriage. Finally, the Court of Appeals dismissed Joses argument that neither he nor Felisa was a
member of the sect to which Rev. Tomas V. Atienza belonged. According to the Court of Appeals,
Article 56[17] of the Civil Code did not require that either one of the contracting parties to the marriage
must belong to the solemnizing officers church or religious sect. The prescription was established only
in Article 7[18] of the Family Code which does not govern the parties marriage.

Differing with the ruling of the Court of Appeals, Jose filed a Motion for Reconsideration thereof. His
central opposition was that the requisites for the proper application of the exemption from a marriage
license under Article 76 of the Civil Code were not fully attendant in the case at bar. In particular, Jose
cited the legal condition that the man and the woman must have been living together as husband and
wife for at least five years before the marriage. Essentially, he maintained that the affidavit of marital
cohabitation executed by him and Felisa was false.

The Court of Appeals granted Joses Motion for Reconsideration and reversed itself. Accordingly, it
rendered an Amended Decision, dated 7 November 2006, the fallo of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated August 11, 2005 is RECALLED and SET ASIDE and
another one entered declaring the marriage between Jose A. Dayot and Felisa C. Tecson
void ab initio.
Furnish a copy of this Amended Decision to the Local Civil Registrar of Pasay City. [19]

In its Amended Decision, the Court of Appeals relied on the ruling of this Court in Nial v.
Bayadog,[20] and reasoned that:

In Nial v. Bayadog, where the contracting parties to a marriage solemnized without


a marriage license on the basis of their affidavit that they had attained the age of majority,
that being unmarried, they had lived together for at least five (5) years and that they
desired to marry each other, the Supreme Court ruled as follows:

x x x In other words, the five-year common-law cohabitation period, which is


counted back from the date of celebration of marriage, should be a period of legal union
had it not been for the absence of the marriage. This 5-year period should be the years
immediately before the day of the marriage and it should be a period of cohabitation
characterized by exclusivity meaning no third party was involved at any time within the 5
years and continuity that is unbroken. Otherwise, if that continuous 5-year cohabitation is
computed without any distinction as to whether the parties were capacitated to marry
each other during the entire five years, then the law would be sanctioning immorality and
encouraging parties to have common law relationships and placing them on the same
footing with those who lived faithfully with their spouse. Marriage being a special
relationship must be respected as such and its requirements must be strictly
observed. The presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband
and wife is based on the approximation of the requirements of the law. The parties should
not be afforded any excuse to not comply with every single requirement and later use the
same missing element as a pre-conceived escape ground to nullify their marriage. There
should be no exemption from securing a marriage license unless the circumstances
clearly fall within the ambit of the exception. It should be noted that a license is required
in order to notify the public that two persons are about to be united in matrimony and that
anyone who is aware or has knowledge of any impediment to the union of the two shall
make it known to the local civil registrar.

Article 80(3) of the Civil Code provides that a marriage solemnized without a
marriage license, save marriages of exceptional character, shall be void from the
beginning. Inasmuch as the marriage between Jose and Felisa is not covered by the
exception to the requirement of a marriage license, it is, therefore, void ab initio because
of the absence of a marriage license.[21]

Felisa sought reconsideration of the Amended Decision, but to no avail. The appellate court
rendered a Resolution[22] dated 10 May 2007, denying Felisas motion.

Meanwhile, the Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),
filed a Petition for Review before this Court in G.R. No. 175581, praying that the Court of Appeals
Amended Decision dated 7 November 2006 be reversed and set aside for lack of merit, and that the
marriage between Jose and Felisa be declared valid and subsisting. Felisa filed a separate Petition for
Review, docketed as G.R. No. 179474, similarly assailing the appellate courts Amended Decision. On 1
August 2007, this Court resolved to consolidate the two Petitions in the interest of uniformity of the
Court rulings in similar cases brought before it for resolution.[23]

The Republic of the Philippines propounds the following arguments for the allowance of its
Petition, to wit:

RESPONDENT FAILED TO OVERTHROW THE PRESUMPTION OF THE VALIDITY OF


HIS MARRIAGE TO FELISA.

II

RESPONDENT DID NOT COME TO THE COURT WITH CLEAN HANDS AND SHOULD
NOT BE ALLOWED TO PROFIT FROM HIS OWN FRAUDULENT CONDUCT.
III

RESPONDENT IS ESTOPPED FROM ASSAILING THE LEGALITY OF HIS MARRIAGE


FOR LACK OF MARRIAGE LICEN[S]E.[24]

Correlative to the above, Felisa submits that the Court of Appeals misapplied Nial.[25] She
differentiates the case at bar from Nial by reasoning that one of the parties therein had an existing prior
marriage, a circumstance which does not obtain in her cohabitation with Jose. Finally, Felisa adduces
that Jose only sought the annulment of their marriage after a criminal case for bigamy and an
administrative case had been filed against him in order to avoid liability. Felisa surmises that the
declaration of nullity of their marriage would exonerate Jose from any liability.

For our resolution is the validity of the marriage between Jose and Felisa. To reach a considered
ruling on the issue, we shall jointly tackle the related arguments vented by petitioners Republic of
the Philippines and Felisa.

The Republic of the Philippines asserts that several circumstances give rise to the presumption
that a valid marriage exists between Jose and Felisa. For her part, Felisa echoes the claim that any
doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage by citing this Courts ruling in Hernandez
v. Court of Appeals.[26] To buttress its assertion, the Republic points to the affidavit executed by Jose
and Felisa, dated 24 November 1986, attesting that they have lived together as husband and wife for
at least five years, which they used in lieu of a marriage license. It is the Republics position that the
falsity of the statements in the affidavit does not affect the validity of the marriage, as the essential and
formal requisites were complied with; and the solemnizing officer was not required to investigate as to
whether the said affidavit was legally obtained. The Republic opines that as a marriage under a license
is not invalidated by the fact that the license was wrongfully obtained, so must a marriage not be
invalidated by the fact that the parties incorporated a fabricated statement in their affidavit that they
cohabited as husband and wife for at least five years. In addition, the Republic posits that the parties
marriage contract states that their marriage was solemnized under Article 76 of the Civil Code. It also
bears the signature of the parties and their witnesses, and must be considered a primary evidence of
marriage. To further fortify its Petition, the Republic adduces the following documents: (1) Joses
notarized Statement of Assets and Liabilities, dated 12 May 1988 wherein he wrote Felisas name as
his wife; (2) Certification dated 25 July 1993 issued by the Barangay Chairman 192, Zone ZZ, District
24 of Pasay City, attesting that Jose and Felisa had lived together as husband and wife in said
barangay; and (3) Joses company ID card, dated 2 May 1988, indicating Felisas name as his wife.
The first assignment of error compels this Court to rule on the issue of the effect of a false
affidavit under Article 76 of the Civil Code. A survey of the prevailing rules is in order.

It is beyond dispute that the marriage of Jose and Felisa was celebrated on 24 November 1986,
prior to the effectivity of the Family Code. Accordingly, the Civil Code governs their union. Article 53 of
the Civil Code spells out the essential requisites of marriage as a contract:

ART. 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied with:

(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties;

(2) Their consent, freely given;

(3) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and

(4) A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character. (Emphasis


ours.)

Article 58[27] makes explicit that no marriage shall be solemnized without a license first being
issued by the local civil registrar of the municipality where either contracting party habitually resides,
save marriages of an exceptional character authorized by the Civil Code, but not those under Article
75.[28] Article 80(3)[29] of the Civil Code makes it clear that a marriage performed without the
corresponding marriage license is void, this being nothing more than the legitimate consequence
flowing from the fact that the license is the essence of the marriage contract.[30] This is in stark contrast
to the old Marriage Law,[31] whereby the absence of a marriage license did not make the marriage
void. The rationale for the compulsory character of a marriage license under the Civil Code is that it is
the authority granted by the State to the contracting parties, after the proper government official has
inquired into their capacity to contract marriage. [32]

Under the Civil Code, marriages of exceptional character are covered by Chapter 2, Title III,
comprising Articles 72 to 79. To wit, these marriages are: (1) marriages inarticulo mortis or at the point
of death during peace or war, (2) marriages in remote places, (2) consular marriages, [33] (3) ratification
of marital cohabitation, (4) religious ratification of a civil marriage, (5) Mohammedan or pagan
marriages, and (6) mixed marriages.[34]

The instant case pertains to a ratification of marital cohabitation under Article 76 of the Civil
Code, which provides:

ART. 76. No marriage license shall be necessary when a man and a woman who have
attained the age of majority and who, being unmarried, have lived together as husband
and wife for at least five years, desire 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 official, priest or minister who solemnized the marriage shall also state in an
affidavit that he took steps to ascertain the ages and other qualifications of the contracting
parties and that he found no legal impediment to the marriage.

The reason for the law,[35] as espoused by the Code Commission, is that the publicity attending
a marriage license may discourage such persons who have lived in a state of cohabitation from
legalizing their status.[36]

It is not contested herein that the marriage of Jose and Felisa was performed without a marriage
license. In lieu thereof, they executed an affidavit declaring that they have attained the age of maturity;
that being unmarried, they have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years; and that
because of this union, they desire to marry each other. [37] One of the central issues in the Petition at
bar is thus: whether the falsity of an affidavit of marital cohabitation, where the parties have in truth
fallen short of the minimum five-year requirement, effectively renders the marriage void ab initio for lack
of a marriage license.

We answer in the affirmative.

Marriages of exceptional character are, doubtless, the exceptions to the rule on the
indispensability of the formal requisite of a marriage license. Under the rules of statutory construction,
exceptions, as a general rule, should be strictly[38] but reasonably construed.[39] They extend only so far
as their language fairly warrants, and all doubts should be resolved in favor of the general provisions
rather than the exception.[40] Where a general rule is established by statute with exceptions, the court
will not curtail the former or add to the latter by implication. [41] For the exception in Article 76 to apply,
it is a sine qua non thereto that the man and the woman must have attained the age of majority, and
that, being unmarried, they have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years.

A strict but reasonable construction of Article 76 leaves us with no other expediency but to read
the law as it is plainly written. The exception of a marriage license under Article 76 applies only to those
who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and desire to marry each other. The
Civil Code, in no ambiguous terms, places a minimum period requirement of five years of
cohabitation. No other reading of the law can be had, since the language of Article 76 is precise. The
minimum requisite of five years of cohabitation is an indispensability carved in the language of the
law. For a marriage celebrated under Article 76 to be valid, this material fact cannot be dispensed
with. It is embodied in the law not as a directory requirement, but as one that partakes of a mandatory
character. It is worthy to mention that Article 76 also prescribes that the contracting parties shall state
the requisite facts[42] in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths; and that
the official, priest or minister who solemnized the marriage shall also state in an affidavit that he took
steps to ascertain the ages and other qualifications of the contracting parties and that he found no legal
impediment to the marriage.

It is indubitably established that Jose and Felisa have not lived together for five years at the time
they executed their sworn affidavit and contracted marriage. The Republic admitted that Jose and
Felisa started living together only in June 1986, or barely five months before the celebration of their
marriage.[43] The Court of Appeals also noted Felisas testimony that Jose was introduced to her by her
neighbor, Teresita Perwel, sometime in February or March 1986 after the EDSA Revolution. [44] The
appellate court also cited Felisas own testimony that it was only in June 1986 when Jose commenced
to live in her house.[45]

Moreover, it is noteworthy that the question as to whether they satisfied the minimum five-year
requisite is factual in nature. A question of fact arises when there is a need to decide on the truth or
falsehood of the alleged facts.[46] Under Rule 45, factual findings are ordinarily not subject to this Courts
review.[47] It is already well-settled that:

The general rule is that the findings of facts of the Court of Appeals are binding on this
Court. A recognized exception to this rule is when the Court of Appeals and the trial court,
or in this case the administrative body, make contradictory findings. However, the
exception does not apply in every instance that the Court of Appeals and the trial court or
administrative body disagree. The factual findings of the Court of Appeals remain
conclusive on this Court if such findings are supported by the record or based on
substantial evidence.[48]

Therefore, the falsity of the affidavit dated 24 November 1986, executed by Jose and Felisa to
exempt them from the requirement of a marriage license, is beyond question.

We cannot accept the insistence of the Republic that the falsity of the statements in the parties
affidavit will not affect the validity of marriage, since all the essential and formal requisites were
complied with. The argument deserves scant merit. Patently, it cannot be denied that the marriage
between Jose and Felisa was celebrated without the formal requisite of a marriage license. Neither did
Jose and Felisa meet the explicit legal requirement in Article 76, that they should have lived together
as husband and wife for at least five years, so as to be excepted from the requirement of a marriage
license.

Anent petitioners reliance on the presumption of marriage, this Court holds that the same finds
no applicability to the case at bar. Essentially, when we speak of a presumption of marriage, it is with
reference to the prima facie presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband
and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage. [49] Restated more explicitly, 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.[50] The present case does not involve an apparent marriage
to which the presumption still needs to be applied. There is no question that Jose and Felisa actually
entered into a contract of marriage on 24 November 1986, hence, compelling Jose to institute a
Complaint for Annulment and/or Declaration of Nullity of Marriage, which spawned the instant
consolidated Petitions.

In the same vein, the declaration of the Civil Code[51] that every intendment of law or fact leans
towards the validity of marriage will not salvage the parties marriage, and extricate them from the effect
of a violation of the law. The marriage of Jose and Felisa was entered into without the requisite marriage
license or compliance with the stringent requirements of a marriage under exceptional
circumstance. The solemnization of a marriage without prior license is a clear violation of the law and
would lead or could be used, at least, for the perpetration of fraud against innocent and unwary parties,
which was one of the evils that the law sought to prevent by making a prior license a prerequisite for a
valid marriage.[52] The protection of marriage as a sacred institution requires not just the defense of a
true and genuine union but the exposure of an invalid one as well. [53] To permit a false affidavit to take
the place of a marriage license is to allow an abject circumvention of the law. If this Court is to protect
the fabric of the institution of marriage, we must be wary of deceptive schemes that violate the legal
measures set forth in our laws.

Similarly, we are not impressed by the ratiocination of the Republic that as a marriage under a
license is not invalidated by the fact that the license was wrongfully obtained, so must a marriage not
be invalidated by a fabricated statement that the parties have cohabited for at least five years as
required by law. The contrast is flagrant. The former is with reference to an irregularity of the marriage
license, and not to the absence of one. Here, there is no marriage license at all. Furthermore, the falsity
of the allegation in the sworn affidavit relating to the period of Jose and Felisas cohabitation, which
would have qualified their marriage as an exception to the requirement for a marriage license, cannot
be a mere irregularity, for it refers to a quintessential fact that the law precisely required to be deposed
and attested to by the parties under oath. If the essential matter in the sworn affidavit is a lie, then it is
but a mere scrap of paper, without force and effect. Hence, it is as if there was no affidavit at all.

In its second assignment of error, the Republic puts forth the argument that based on equity,
Jose should be denied relief because he perpetrated the fabrication, and cannot thereby profit from his
wrongdoing. This is a misplaced invocation. It must be stated that equity finds no room for application
where there is a law.[54] There is a law on the ratification of marital cohabitation, which is set in precise
terms under Article 76 of the Civil Code. Nonetheless, the authorities are consistent that the declaration
of nullity of the parties marriage is without prejudice to their criminal liability.[55]

The Republic further avers in its third assignment of error that Jose is deemed estopped from
assailing the legality of his marriage for lack of a marriage license. It is claimed that Jose and Felisa
had lived together from 1986 to 1990, notwithstanding Joses subsequent marriage to Rufina Pascual
on 31 August 1990, and that it took Jose seven years before he sought the declaration of nullity; hence,
estoppel had set in.

This is erroneous. An action for nullity of marriage is imprescriptible. [56] Jose and Felisas
marriage was celebrated sans a marriage license. No other conclusion can be reached except that it is
void ab initio. In this case, the right to impugn a void marriage does not prescribe, and may be raised
any time.

Lastly, to settle all doubts, jurisprudence has laid down the rule that the five-year common-law
cohabitation period under Article 76 means a five-year period computed back from the date of
celebration of marriage, and refers to a period of legal union had it not been for the absence of a
marriage.[57] It covers the years immediately preceding the day of the marriage, characterized by
exclusivity - meaning no third party was involved at any time within the five years - and continuity that
is unbroken.[58]

WHEREFORE, the Petitions are DENIED. The Amended Decision of the Court of Appeals,
dated 7 November 2006 in CA-G.R. CV No. 68759, declaring the marriage of Jose Dayot to Felisa
Tecson-Dayot void ab initio, is AFFIRMED, without prejudice to their criminal liability, if any. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

JUAN DE DIOS CARLOS, G.R. No. 179922


Petitioner,
Present:

- versus - YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,


Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
FELICIDAD SANDOVAL, also CHICO-NAZARIO,
known as FELICIDAD S. VDA. NACHURA, and
DE CARLOS or FELICIDAD REYES, JJ.
SANDOVAL CARLOS or
FELICIDAD SANDOVAL VDA.
DE CARLOS, and TEOFILO Promulgated:
CARLOS II,
Respondents. December 16, 2008

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

REYES, R.T., J.:

ONLY a spouse can initiate an action to sever the marital bond for marriages solemnized during
the effectivity of the Family Code, except cases commenced prior to March 15, 2003. The nullity and
annulment of a marriage cannot be declared in a judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or
confession of judgment.

We pronounce these principles as We review on certiorari the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals
(CA) which reversed and set aside the summary judgment[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in an
action for declaration of nullity of marriage, status of a child, recovery of property, reconveyance, sum
of money, and damages.

The Facts

The events that led to the institution of the instant suit are unveiled as follows:

Spouses Felix B. Carlos and Felipa Elemia died intestate. They left six parcels of land to their
compulsory heirs, Teofilo Carlos and petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos. The lots are particularly described
as follows:
Parcel No. 1

Lot No. 162 of the MUNTINLUPA ESTATE SUBDIVISION, Case No. 6137 of the Court
of Land Registration.

Exemption from the provisions of Article 567 of the Civil Code is specifically reserved.

Area: 1 hectare, 06 ares, 07 centares.

Parcel No. 2

A parcel of land (Lot No. 159-B), being a portion of Lot 159, situated in the Bo. of
Alabang, Municipality of Muntinlupa, Province of Rizal, x x x containing an area of
Thirteen Thousand Four Hundred Forty One (13,441) square meters.

Parcel No. 3

A parcel of land (Lot 159-B-2 of the subd. plan [LRC] Psd-325903, approved as a non-
subd. project), being a portion of Lot 159-B [LRC] Psd- Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa,
Metro Manila, Island of Luzon. Bounded on the NE, points 2 to 4 by Lot 155, Muntinlupa
Estate; on the SE, point 4 to 5 by Lot 159-B-5; on the S, points 5 to 1 by Lot 159-B-3; on
the W, points 1 to 2 by Lot 159-B-1 (Road widening) all of the subd. plan, containing an
area of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY (130) SQ. METERS, more or less.

PARCEL No. 4

A parcel of land (Lot 28-C of the subd. plan Psd-13-007090, being a portion of Lot 28,
Muntinlupa Estate, L.R.C. Rec. No. 6137), situated in the Bo. of Alabang, Mun. of
Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. Bounded on the NE, along lines 1-2 by Lot 27, Muntinlupa
Estate; on the East & SE, along lines 2 to 6 by Mangangata River; and on the West.,
along line 6-1, by Lot 28-B of the subd. plan x x x containing an area
of ONE THUSAND AND SEVENTY-SIX (1,076) SQUARE METERS.

PARCEL No. 5

PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 50, Manzana No. 18, de la subd. de Solocan. Linda por el
NW, con la parcela 49; por el NE, con la parcela 36; por el SE, con la parcela 51; y por
el SW, con la calle Dos Castillas. Partiendo de un punto marcado 1 en el plano, el cual
se halla a S. gds. 01'W, 72.50 mts. Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana, que es un mojon
de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman las Calles Laong
Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo un extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA
(150) METROS CUADRADOS.

PARCEL No. 6
PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 51, Manzana No. 18, de la subd. De Solocon. Linda por el
NW, con la parcela 50; por el NE, con la parcela 37; por el SE, con la parcela 52; por el
SW, con la Calle Dos Castillas. Partiendo de un punto Marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se
halla at S. 43 gds. 01'E, 82.50 mts. Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana, que es un mojon
de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman las Calles Laong
Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo una extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA
(150) METROS CUADRADOS.[3]

During the lifetime of Felix Carlos, he agreed to transfer his estate to Teofilo. The agreement
was made in order to avoid the payment of inheritance taxes. Teofilo, in turn, undertook to deliver and
turn over the share of the other legal heir, petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos.

Eventually, the first three (3) parcels of land were transferred and registered in the name of
Teofilo. These three (3) lots are now covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 234824 issued
by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; TCT No. 139061 issued by the Registry of Deeds
of Makati City; and TCT No. 139058 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City.

Parcel No. 4 was registered in the name of petitioner. The lot is now covered by TCT No. 160401
issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City.

On May 13, 1992, Teofilo died intestate. He was survived by respondents Felicidad and their
son, Teofilo Carlos II (Teofilo II). Upon Teofilos death, Parcel Nos. 5 & 6 were registered in the name
of respondent Felicidad and co-respondent, Teofilo II. The said two (2) parcels of land are covered
by TCT Nos. 219877 and 210878, respectively, issued by the Registry of Deeds of Manila.

In 1994, petitioner instituted a suit against respondents before the RTC in Muntinlupa City,
docketed as Civil Case No. 94-1964. In the said case, the parties submitted and caused the approval
of a partial compromise agreement. Under the compromise, the parties acknowledged their respective
shares in the proceeds from the sale of a portion of the first parcel of land. This includes the remaining
6,691-square-meter portion of said land.

On September 17, 1994, the parties executed a deed of extrajudicial partition, dividing
the remaining land of the first parcel between them.

Meanwhile, in a separate case entitled Rillo v. Carlos,[4] 2,331 square meters of the second
parcel of land were adjudicated in favor of plaintiffs Rillo. The remaining 10,000-square meter portion
was later divided between petitioner and respondents.

The division was incorporated in a supplemental compromise agreement executed on August


17, 1994, with respect to Civil Case No. 94-1964. The parties submitted the supplemental compromise
agreement, which was approved accordingly.
Petitioner and respondents entered into two more contracts in August 1994. Under the contracts,
the parties equally divided between them the third and fourth parcels of land.

In August 1995, petitioner commenced an action, docketed as Civil Case No. 95-135, against
respondents before the court a quo with the following causes of action: (a) declaration of nullity of
marriage; (b) status of a child; (c) recovery of property; (d) reconveyance; and (e) sum of money and
damages. The complaint was raffled to Branch 256 of the RTC in Muntinlupa.

In his complaint, petitioner asserted that the marriage between his late brother Teofilo and
respondent Felicidad was a nullity in view of the absence of the required marriage license. He likewise
maintained that his deceased brother was neither the natural nor the adoptive father of respondent
Teofilo Carlos II.

Petitioner likewise sought the avoidance of the contracts he entered into with respondent
Felicidad with respect to the subject real properties. He also prayed for the cancellation of the
certificates of title issued in the name of respondents. He argued that the properties covered by such
certificates of title, including the sums received by respondents as proceeds, should be reconveyed to
him.

Finally, petitioner claimed indemnification as and by way of moral and exemplary damages,
attorneys fees, litigation expenses, and costs of suit.

On October 16, 1995, respondents submitted their answer. They denied the material averments
of petitioners complaint. Respondents contended that the dearth of details regarding the requisite
marriage license did not invalidate Felicidads marriage to Teofilo. Respondents declared that Teofilo II
was the illegitimate child of the deceased TeofiloCarlos with another woman.

On the grounds of lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter,
respondents prayed for the dismissal of the case before the trial court. They also asked that their
counterclaims for moral and exemplary damages, as well as attorneys fees, be granted.

But before the parties could even proceed to pre-trial, respondents moved for summary
judgment. Attached to the motion was the affidavit of the justice of the peace who solemnized the
marriage. Respondents also submitted the Certificate of Live Birth of respondent Teofilo II. In the
certificate, the late Teofilo Carlos and respondent Felicidad were designated as parents.

On January 5, 1996, petitioner opposed the motion for summary judgment on the ground of
irregularity of the contract evidencing the marriage. In the same breath, petitioner lodged his own
motion for summary judgment. Petitioner presented a certification from the Local Civil Registrar of
Calumpit, Bulacan, certifying that there is no record of birth of respondent Teofilo II.
Petitioner also incorporated in the counter-motion for summary judgment the testimony of
respondent Felicidad in another case. Said testimony was made in Civil Case No. 89-2384,
entitled Carlos v. Gorospe, before the RTC Branch 255, Las Pias. In her testimony, respondent
Felicidad narrated that co-respondent Teofilo II is her child with Teofilo.[5]

Subsequently, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa submitted to the trial court its
report and manifestation, discounting the possibility of collusion between the parties.
RTC and CA Dispositions

On April 8, 1996, the RTC rendered judgment, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendants (respondents) Motion for


Summary Judgment is hereby denied. Plaintiffs (petitioners) Counter-Motion for
Summary Judgment is hereby granted and summary judgment is hereby rendered in
favor of plaintiff as follows:

1. Declaring the marriage between defendant Felicidad Sandoval and Teofilo


Carlos solemnized at Silang, Cavite on May 14, 1962, evidenced by the Marriage
Certificate submitted inthis case, null and void ab initio for lack of the requisite marriage
license;

2. Declaring that the defendant minor, Teofilo S. Carlos II, is not the natural,
illegitimate, or legally adopted child of the late Teofilo E. Carlos;
3. Ordering defendant Sandoval to pay and restitute to plaintiff the sum
of P18,924,800.00 together with the interest thereon at the legal rate from date of filing of
the instant complaint until fully paid;

4. Declaring plaintiff as the sole and exclusive owner of the parcel of land, less the
portion adjudicated to plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 11975, covered by TCT No. 139061 of
the Register of Deeds of Makati City, and ordering said Register of Deeds to cancel said
title and to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein;

5. Declaring the Contract, Annex K of complaint, between plaintiff and defendant


Sandoval null and void, and ordering the Register of Deeds of Makati City to
cancel TCT No. 139058 in the name of Teofilo Carlos, and to issue another title in the
sole name of plaintiff herein;

6. Declaring the Contract, Annex M of the complaint, between plaintiff and


defendant Sandoval null and void;

7. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210877 in the names of defendant


Sandoval and defendant minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of
Manila to issue another title in the exclusive name of plaintiff herein;

8. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210878 in the name of defendant


Sandoval and defendant Minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of
Manila to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein.
Let this case be set for hearing for the reception of plaintiffs evidence on his claim
for moral damages, exemplary damages, attorneys fees, appearance fees, and litigation
expenses on June 7, 1996 at 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon.

SO ORDERED.[6]

Dissatisfied, respondents appealed to the CA. In the appeal, respondents argued, inter alia, that
the trial court acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in rendering summary judgment annulling the
marriage of Teofilo, Sr. and Felicidad and in declaring Teofilo II as not an illegitimate child of Teofilo,
Sr.

On October 15, 2002, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC ruling, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, the summary judgment appealed from is REVERSED and SET


ASIDE and in lieu thereof, a new one is entered REMANDING the case to the court of
origin for further proceedings.

SO ORDERED.[7]

The CA opined:

We find the rendition of the herein appealed summary judgment by the court a
quo contrary to law and public policy as ensconced in the aforesaid safeguards. The fact
that it was appellants who first sought summary judgment from the trial court, did not
justify the grant thereof in favor of appellee. Not being an action to recover upon a claim
or to obtain a declaratory relief, the rule on summary judgment apply (sic) to an action to
annul a marriage. The mere fact that no genuine issue was presented and the desire to
expedite the disposition of the case cannot justify a misinterpretation of the rule. The first
paragraph of Article 88 and 101 of the Civil Code expressly prohibit the rendition of
decree of annulment of a marriage upon a stipulation of facts or a confession of judgment.
Yet, the affidavits annexed to the petition for summary judgment practically amount to
these methods explicitly proscribed by the law.

We are not unmindful of appellees argument that the foregoing safeguards have
traditionally been applied to prevent collusion of spouses in the matter of dissolution of
marriages and that the death of Teofilo Carlos on May 13, 1992 had effectively dissolved
the marriage herein impugned. The fact, however, that appellees own brother and
appellant Felicidad Sandoval lived together as husband and wife for thirty years and that
the annulment of their marriage is the very means by which the latter is sought to be
deprived of her participation in the estate left by the former call for a closer and more
thorough inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the case. Rather that the summary
nature by which the court a quo resolved the issues in the case, the rule is to the effect
that the material facts alleged in the complaint for annulment of marriage should always
be proved. Section 1, Rule 19 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an answer fails to


tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse
party's pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on
such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal
separation, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be
proved. (Underscoring supplied)

Moreover, even if We were to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary


judgment to the case at bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the
court a quo for appellee would still not be warranted. While it may be readily conceded
that a valid marriage license is among the formal requisites of marriage, the absence of
which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) in relation to Article 58
of the Civil Code the failure to reflect the serial number of the marriage license on the
marriage contract evidencing the marriage between Teofilo Carlos and appellant
Felicidad Sandoval, although irregular, is not as fatal as appellee represents it to
be. Aside from the dearth of evidence to the contrary, appellant Felicidad Sandovals
affirmation of the existence of said marriage license is corroborated by the following
statement in the affidavit executed by Godofredo Fojas, then Justice of the Peace who
officiated the impugned marriage, to wit:

That as far as I could remember, there was a marriage license issued


at Silang, Cavite on May 14, 1962 as basis of the said marriage contract
executed by Teofilo Carlos and Felicidad Sandoval, but the number of said
marriage license was inadvertently not placed in the marriage contract for
the reason that it was the Office Clerk who filled up the blanks in the
Marriage Contract who in turn, may have overlooked the same.

Rather than the inferences merely drawn by the trial court, We are of the
considered view that the veracity and credibility of the foregoing statement as well as the
motivations underlying the same should be properly threshed out in a trial of the case on
the merits.

If the non-presentation of the marriage contract the primary evidence of marriage


is not proof that a marriage did not take place, neither should appellants non-presentation
of the subject marriage license be taken as proof that the same was not procured. The
burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage, it must be emphasized, rests upon the
plaintiff and any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage.

Considering that the burden of proof also rests on the party who disputes the
legitimacy of a particular party, the same may be said of the trial courts rejection of the
relationship between appellant Teofilo Carlos II and his putative father on the basis of the
inconsistencies in appellant Felicidad Sandovals statements. Although it had effectively
disavowed appellants prior claims regarding the legitimacy of appellant Teofilo Carlos II,
the averment in the answer that he is the illegitimate son of appellees brother, to Our
mind, did not altogether foreclose the possibility of the said appellants illegitimate filiation,
his right to prove the same or, for that matter, his entitlement to inheritance rights as such.

Without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case, We find appellees
bare allegation that appellant Teofilo Carlos II was merely purchased from an indigent
couple by appellant Felicidad Sandoval, on the whole, insufficient to support what could
well be a minors total forfeiture of the rights arising from his putative filiation. Inconsistent
though it may be to her previous statements, appellant Felicidad Sandovals declaration
regarding the illegitimate filiation of Teofilo Carlos II is more credible when considered in
the light of the fact that, during the last eight years of his life, Teofilo Carlos allowed said
appellant the use of his name and the shelter of his household. The least that the trial
court could have done in the premises was to conduct a trial on the merits in order to be
able to thoroughly resolve the issues pertaining to the filiation of appellant Teofilo Carlos
II.[8]

On November 22, 2006, petitioner moved for reconsideration and for the inhibition of
the ponente, Justice Rebecca De Guia-Salvador. The CA denied the twin motions.

Issues

In this petition under Rule 45, petitioner hoists the following issues:

1. That, in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment under the Decision,
Annex A hereof, and in denying petitioners Motion for reconsideration under the
Resolution, Annex F hereof, with respect to the nullity of the impugned marriage,
petitioner respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed a grave
reversible error in applying Articles 88 and 101 of the Civil Code, despite the fact that the
circumstances of this case are different from that contemplated and intended by law, or
has otherwise decided a question of substance not theretofore decided by the Supreme
Court, or has decided it in a manner probably not in accord with law or with the applicable
decisions of this Honorable Court;

2. That in setting aside and reversing the Summary Judgment and, in lieu thereof,
entering another remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings,
petitioner most respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed a serious
reversible error in applying Section 1, Rule 19 (now Section 1, Rule 34) of the Rules of
Court providing for judgment on the pleadings, instead of Rule 35 governing Summary
Judgments;

3. That in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment and, in lieu thereof,
entering another remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings,
petitioner most respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of
discretion, disregarded judicial admissions, made findings on ground of speculations,
surmises, and conjectures, or otherwise committed misapplications of the laws and
misapprehension of the facts.[9] (Underscoring supplied)

Essentially, the Court is tasked to resolve whether a marriage may be declared void ab initio through a
judgment on the pleadings or a summary judgment and without the benefit of a trial. But there are other
procedural issues, including the capacity of one who is not a spouse in bringing the action for nullity of
marriage.

Our Ruling

I. The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage must be proved. Neither judgment
on the pleadings nor summary judgment is allowed. So is confession of judgment disallowed.
Petitioner faults the CA in applying Section 1, Rule 19[10] of the Revised Rules of Court, which
provides:

SECTION 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an answer fails to tender an


issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse partys pleading, the
court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for
annulment of marriage or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the complaint
shall always be proved.

He argues that the CA should have applied Rule 35 of the Rules of Court governing summary judgment,
instead of the rule on judgment on the pleadings.

Petitioner is misguided. The CA did not limit its finding solely within the provisions of the Rule on
judgment on the pleadings. In disagreeing with the trial court, the CA likewise considered the provisions
on summary judgments, to wit:

Moreover, even if We are to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary


judgment to the case at bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the
court a quo for appellee would still not be warranted. x x x[11]

But whether it is based on judgment on the pleadings or summary judgment, the CA was correct in
reversing the summary judgment rendered by the trial court. Both the rules on judgment on the
pleadings and summary judgments have no place in cases of declaration of absolute nullity of marriage
and even in annulment of marriage.

With the advent of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, known as Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, the question on the application of summary
judgments or even judgment on the pleadings in cases of nullity or annulment of marriage has been
stamped with clarity. The significant principle laid down by the said Rule, which took effect on March
15, 2003[12] is found in Section 17, viz.:

SEC. 17. Trial. (1) The presiding judge shall personally conduct the trial of the
case. No delegation of evidence to a commissioner shall be allowed except as to matters
involving property relations of the spouses.

(2) The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of marriage must
be proved. No judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of
judgment shall be allowed. (Underscoring supplied)

Likewise instructive is the Courts pronouncement in Republic v. Sandiganbayan.[13] In that case, We


excluded actions for nullity or annulment of marriage from the application of summary judgments.

Prescinding from the foregoing discussion, save for annulment of marriage or


declaration of its nullity or for legal separation, summary judgment is applicable to all
kinds of actions.[14](Underscoring supplied)

By issuing said summary judgment, the trial court has divested the State of its lawful right and
duty to intervene in the case. The participation of the State is not terminated by the declaration of the
public prosecutor that no collusion exists between the parties. The State should have been given the
opportunity to present controverting evidence before the judgment was rendered. [15]

Both the Civil Code and the Family Code ordain that the court should order the prosecuting attorney to
appear and intervene for the State. It is at this stage when the public prosecutor sees to it that there is
no suppression of evidence. Concomitantly, even if there is no suppression of evidence, the public
prosecutor has to make sure that the evidence to be presented or laid down before the court is not
fabricated.

To further bolster its role towards the preservation of marriage, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute
Nullity of Void Marriages reiterates the duty of the public prosecutor, viz.:

SEC. 13. Effect of failure to appear at the pre-trial. (a) x x x

(b) x x x If there is no collusion, the court shall require the public prosecutor to intervene
for the State during the trial on the merits to prevent suppression or fabrication of
evidence.(Underscoring supplied)
Truly, only the active participation of the public prosecutor or the Solicitor General will ensure that the
interest of the State is represented and protected in proceedings for declaration of nullity of marriages
by preventing the fabrication or suppression of evidence. [16]

II. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband
or wife. Exceptions: (1) Nullity of marriage cases commenced before the effectivity of A.M. No. 02-11-
10-SC; and (2) Marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil Code.

Under the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
Marriages, the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may not be filed by any party
outside of the marriage. The Rule made it exclusively a right of the spouses by stating:

SEC. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.

(a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may
be filed solely by the husband or the wife. (Underscoring supplied)

Section 2(a) of the Rule makes it the sole right of the husband or the wife to file a petition for
declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage. The rationale of the Rule is enlightening, viz.:

Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable
marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot be
filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. The Committee is of
the belief that they do not have a legal right to file the petition. Compulsory or intestate
heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the death of their predecessor, and, hence, can
only question the validity of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of a spouse in a
proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular
courts. On the other hand, the concern of the State is to preserve marriage and not to
seek its dissolution.[17] (Underscoring supplied)

The new Rule recognizes that the husband and the wife are the sole architects of a healthy,
loving, peaceful marriage. They are the only ones who can decide when and how to build the
foundations of marriage. The spouses alone are the engineers of their marital life. They are
simultaneously the directors and actors of their matrimonial true-to-life play. Hence, they alone can
and should decide when to take a cut, but only in accordance with the grounds allowed by law.

The innovation incorporated in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC sets forth a demarcation line between
marriages covered by the Family Code and those solemnized under the Civil Code. The Rule extends
only to marriages entered into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3,
1988.[18]

The advent of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages marks
the beginning of the end of the right of the heirs of the deceased spouse to bring a nullity of marriage
case against the surviving spouse. But the Rule never intended to deprive the compulsory or intestate
heirs of their successional rights.

While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity
of marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife, it does not mean that the compulsory or
intestate heirs are without any recourse under the law. They can still protect their successional right,
for, as stated in the Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of
Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the
validity of the marriage of the spouses, not in a proceeding for declaration of nullity but upon the death
of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular
courts.[19]

It is emphasized, however, that the Rule does not apply to cases already commenced
before March 15, 2003 although the marriage involved is within the coverage of the Family Code. This
is so, as the new Rule which became effective on March 15, 2003[20] is prospective in its
application. Thus, the Court held in Enrico v. Heirs of Sps. Medinaceli,[21] viz.:

As has been emphasized, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC covers marriages under the
Family Code of the Philippines, and is prospective in its application.[22] (Underscoring
supplied)

Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage case against respondent Felicidad in 1995. The
marriage in controversy was celebrated on May 14, 1962. Which law would govern depends upon when
the marriage took place.[23]

The marriage having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable
law is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration.[24] But the Civil Code is
silent as to who may bring an action to declare the marriage void. Does this mean that any person can
bring an action for the declaration of nullity of marriage?

We respond in the negative. The absence of a provision in the Civil Code cannot be construed
as a license for any person to institute a nullity of marriage case. Such person must appear to be the
party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails
of the suit.[25] Elsewise stated, plaintiff must be the real party-in-interest. For it is basic in procedural
law that every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party-in-interest.[26]
Interest within the meaning of the rule means material interest or an interest in issue to be
affected by the decree or judgment of the case, as distinguished from mere curiosity about the question
involved or a mere incidental interest. One having no material interest to protect cannot invoke the
jurisdiction of the court as plaintiff in an action. When plaintiff is not the real party-in-interest, the case
is dismissible on the ground of lack of cause of action. [27]

Illuminating on this point is Amor-Catalan v. Court of Appeals,[28] where the Court held:

True, under the New Civil Code which is the law in force at the time the
respondents were married, or even in the Family Code, there is no
specific provision as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of marriage; however,
only a party who can demonstrate proper interest can file the same. A petition to declare
the nullity of marriage, like any other actions, must be prosecuted or defended in the
name of the real party-in-interest and must be based on a cause of action. Thus, in Nial
v. Badayog, the Court held that the children have the personality to file the petition to
declare the nullity of marriage of their deceased father to their stepmother as it affects
their successional rights.

xxxx

In fine, petitioners personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage
cannot be ascertained because of the absence of the divorce decree and the foreign law
allowing it.Hence, a remand of the case to the trial court for reception of additional
evidence is necessary to determine whether respondent Orlando was granted a divorce
decree and whether the foreign law which granted the same allows or restricts
remarriage. If it is proved that a valid divorce decree was obtained and the same did not
allow respondent Orlandos remarriage, then the trial court should declare respondents
marriage as bigamous and void ab initio but reduced the amount of moral damages
from P300,000.00 to P50,000.00 and exemplary damages from P200,000.00
to P25,000.00. On the contrary, if it is proved that a valid divorce decree was obtained
which allowed Orlando to remarry, then the trial court must dismiss the instant petition to
declare nullity of marriage on the ground that petitioner Felicitas Amor-Catalan lacks legal
personality to file the same.[29] (Underscoring supplied)

III. The case must be remanded to determine whether or not petitioner is a real-party-in-interest
to seek the declaration of nullity of the marriage in controversy.

In the case at bench, the records reveal that when Teofilo died intestate in 1992, his only surviving
compulsory heirs are respondent Felicidad and their son, Teofilo II. Under the law on succession,
successional rights are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent and the compulsory heirs
are called to succeed by operation of law. [30]

Upon Teofilos death in 1992, all his property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the
inheritance are transmitted to his compulsory heirs. These heirs were respondents Felicidad and
Teofilo II, as the surviving spouse and child, respectively.

Article 887 of the Civil Code outlined who are compulsory heirs, to wit:
(1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and
ascendants;

(2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their
legitimate children and descendants;

(3) The widow or widower;

(4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction;

(5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287 of the Civil Code. [31]

Clearly, a brother is not among those considered as compulsory heirs. But although a collateral relative,
such as a brother, does not fall within the ambit of a compulsory heir, he
still has a right to succeed to the estate. Articles 1001 and 1003 of the New Civil Code provide:

ART. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or
widower, the latter shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and
sisters or their children to the other half.

ART. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a


surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the
deceased in accordance with the following articles. (Underscoring supplied)

Indeed, only the presence of descendants, ascendants or illegitimate children excludes


collateral relatives from succeeding to the estate of the decedent. The presence of legitimate,
illegitimate, or adopted child or children of the deceased precludes succession by collateral
relatives.[32] Conversely, if there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving
spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the decedent. [33]

If respondent Teofilo II is declared and finally proven not to be the legitimate, illegitimate, or
adopted son of Teofilo, petitioner would then have a personality to seek the nullity of marriage of his
deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. This is so, considering that collateral relatives, like a
brother and sister, acquire successional right over the estate if the decedent dies without issue and
without ascendants in the direct line.

The records reveal that Teofilo was predeceased by his parents. He had no other
siblings but petitioner. Thus, if Teofilo II is finally found and proven to be not a legitimate, illegitimate, or
adopted son of Teofilo, petitioner succeeds to the other half of the estate of his brother, the first half
being allotted to the widow pursuant to Article 1001 of the New Civil Code. This makes petitioner a real-
party-interest to seek the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage of his deceased brother
with respondent Felicidad. If the subject marriage is found to be void ab initio, petitioner succeeds to
the entire estate.

It bears stressing, however, that the legal personality of petitioner to bring the nullity of marriage
case is contingent upon the final declaration that Teofilo II is not a legitimate, adopted, or illegitimate
son of Teofilo.
If Teofilo II is proven to be a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted son of Teofilo, then
petitioner has no legal personality to ask for the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother and
respondent Felicidad. This is based on the ground that he has no successional right to be protected,
hence, does not have proper interest. For although the marriage in controversy may be found to be
void from the beginning, still, petitioner would not inherit. This is because the presence of descendant,
illegitimate,[34] or even an adopted child[35] excludes the collateral relatives from inheriting from the
decedent.

Thus, the Court finds that a remand of the case for trial on the merits to determine the validity or
nullity of the subject marriage is called for. But the RTC is strictly instructed to dismiss the nullity of
marriage case for lack of cause of action if it is proven by evidence that Teofilo II is a legitimate,
illegitimate, or legally adopted son of Teofilo Carlos, the deceased brother of petitioner.

IV. Remand of the case regarding the question of filiation of respondent Teofilo II is proper and
in order. There is a need to vacate the disposition of the trial court as to the other causes of action
before it.

Petitioner did not assign as error or interpose as issue the ruling of the CA on the remand of the case
concerning the filiation of respondent Teofilo II. This notwithstanding, We should not leave the matter
hanging in limbo.

This Court has the authority to review matters not specifically raised or assigned as error by the
parties, if their consideration is necessary in arriving at a just resolution of the case. [36]

We agree with the CA that without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case, petitioners
bare allegation that respondent Teofilo II was adopted from an indigent couple is insufficient to support
a total forfeiture of rights arising from his putative filiation. However, We are not inclined to support its
pronouncement that the declaration of respondent Felicidad as to the illegitimate filiation of respondent
Teofilo II is more credible. For the guidance of the appellate court, such declaration of respondent
Felicidad should not be afforded credence. We remind the CA of the guaranty provided by Article 167
of the Family Code to protect the status of legitimacy of a child, to wit:

ARTICLE 167. The child shall be considered legitimate although the mother may have
declared against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an
adulteress. (Underscoring supplied)

It is stressed that Felicidads declaration against the legitimate status of Teofilo II is the very act that is
proscribed by Article 167 of the Family Code. The language of the law is unmistakable. An assertion
by the mother against the legitimacy of her child cannot affect the legitimacy of a child born or
conceived within a valid marriage.[37]

Finally, the disposition of the trial court in favor of petitioner for causes of action concerning
reconveyance, recovery of property, and sum of money must be vacated. This has to be so, as said
disposition was made on the basis of its finding that the marriage in controversy was null and void ab
initio.
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is MODIFIED as follows:
1. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court in regard to the action on the status and
filiation of respondent Teofilo Carlos II and the validity or nullity of marriage between
respondent Felicidad Sandoval and the late Teofilo Carlos;

2. If Teofilo Carlos II is proven to be the legitimate, or illegitimate, or legally adopted son of the
late Teofilo Carlos, the RTC is strictly INSTRUCTED to DISMISS the action for nullity of
marriage for lack of cause of action;

3. The disposition of the RTC in Nos. 1 to 8 of the fallo of its decision is VACATED AND SET
ASIDE.

The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to conduct trial on the merits with dispatch and to give
this case priority in its calendar.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 200233, July 15, 2015

LEONILA G. SANTIAGO, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

SERENO, C.J.:

We resolve the Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by petitioner Leonila G. Santiago from the
Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 33566.1 The CA affirmed
the Decision and Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Criminal Case No. 7232 2 convicting her
of bigamy.
THE FACTS

Four months after the solemnization of their marriage on 29 July 1997, 3 Leonila G. Santiago and
Nicanor F. Santos faced an Information4 for bigamy. Petitioner pleaded not guilty, while her putative
husband escaped the criminal suit.5redarclaw

The prosecution adduced evidence that Santos, who had been married to Estela Galang since 2 June
1974,6 asked petitioner to marry him. Petitioner, who was a 43-year-old widow then, married Santos
on 29 July 1997 despite the advice of her brother-in-law and parents-in-law that if she wanted to
remarry, she should choose someone who was without responsibility. 7redarclaw

Petitioner asserted her affirmative defense that she could not be included as an accused in the crime
of bigamy, because she had been under the belief that Santos was still single when they got married.
She also averred that for there to be a conviction for bigamy, his second marriage to her should be
proven valid by the prosecution; but in this case, she argued that their marriage was void due to the
lack of a marriage license.

Eleven years after the inception of this criminal case, the first wife, Estela Galang, testified for the
prosecution. She alleged that she had met petitioner as early as March and April 1997, on which
occasions the former introduced herself as the legal wife of Santos. Petitioner denied this allegation
and averred that she met Galang only in August and September 1997, or after she had already
married Santos.

THE RTC RULING

The RTC appreciated the undisputed fact that petitioner married Santos during the subsistence of his
marriage to Galang. Based on the more credible account of Galang that she had already introduced
herself as the legal wife of Santos in March and April 1997, the trial court rejected the affirmative
defense of petitioner that she had not known of the first marriage. It also held that it was incredible for
a learned person like petitioner to be easily duped by a person like Santos. 8redarclaw

The RTC declared that as indicated in the Certificate of Marriage, her marriage was celebrated
without a need for a marriage license in accordance with Article 34 of the Family Code, which is an
admission that she cohabited with Santos long before the celebration of their marriage. 9 Thus, the
trial court convicted petitioner as follows:10redarclaw

ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the court finds the accused Leonila G.
Santiago GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Bigamy, defined and penalized under
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code and imposes against her the indeterminate penalty of six (6)
months and one (1) day of Prision Correctional as minimum to six (6) years and one (1) day of Prision
Mayor as maximum.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Petitioner moved for reconsideration. She contended that her marriage to Santos was void ab
initio for having been celebrated without complying with Article 34 of the Family Code, which provides
an exemption from the requirement of a marriage license if the parties have actually lived together as
husband and wife for at least five years prior to the celebration of their marriage. In her case,
petitioner asserted that she and Santos had not lived together as husband and wife for five years
prior to their marriage. Hence, she argued that the absence of a marriage license effectively rendered
their marriage null and void, justifying her acquittal from bigamy.

The RTC refused to reverse her conviction and held thus: 11redarclaw

ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Accused Santiago submits that it is her marriage to her co-accused that is null and void as it was
celebrated without a valid marriage license x x x. In advancing that theory, accused wants this court
to pass judgment on the validity of her marriage to accused Santos, something this court can not do.
The best support to her argument would have been the submission of a judicial decree of annulment
of their marriage. Absent such proof, this court cannot declare their marriage null and void in these
proceedings.

THE CA RULING

On appeal before the CA, petitioner claimed that her conviction was not based on proof beyond
reasonable doubt. She attacked the credibility of Galang and insisted that the former had not known
of the previous marriage of Santos.

Similar to the RTC, the CA gave more weight to the prosecution witnesses narration. It likewise
disbelieved the testimony of Santos. Anent the lack of a marriage license, the appellate court simply
stated that the claim was a vain attempt to put the validity of her marriage to Santos in question.
Consequently, the CA affirmed her conviction for bigamy. 12redarclaw

THE ISSUES

Before this Court, petitioner reiterates that she cannot be a co-accused in the instant case, because
she was not aware of Santoss previous marriage. But in the main, she argues that for there to be a
conviction for bigamy, a valid second marriage must be proven by the prosecution beyond reasonable
doubt.

Citing People v. De Lara,13 she contends that her marriage to Santos is void because of the absence
of a marriage license. She elaborates that their marriage does not fall under any of those marriages
exempt from a marriage license, because they have not previously lived together exclusively as
husband and wife for at least five years. She alleges that it is extant in the records that she married
Santos in 1997, or only four years since she met him in 1993. Without completing the five-year
requirement, she posits that their marriage without a license is void.

In the Comment14 filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), respondent advances the
argument that the instant Rule 45 petition should be denied for raising factual issues as regards her
husbands subsequent marriage. As regards petitioners denial of any knowledge of Santoss first
marriage, respondent reiterates that credible testimonial evidence supports the conclusion of the
courts a quo that petitioner knew about the subsisting marriage.

The crime of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code provides:LawlibraryofCRAlaw

ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or
subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent
spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper
proceedings.

In Montaez v. Cipriano,15 this Court enumerated the elements of bigamy as


follows:LawlibraryofCRAlaw

ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
The elements of the crime of bigamy are: (a) the offender has been legally married; (b) the marriage
has not been legally dissolved x x x; (c) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and
(d) the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity. The felony is
consummated on the celebration of the second marriage or subsequent marriage. It is essential in the
prosecution for bigamy that the alleged second marriage, having all the essential requirements, would
be valid were it not for the subsistence of the first marriage. (Emphasis supplied)

For the second spouse to be indicted as a co-accused in the crime, People v. Nepomuceno,
Jr.16instructs that she should have had knowledge of the previous subsisting marriage. People v.
Archilla17likewise states that the knowledge of the second wife of the fact of her spouses existing
prior marriage constitutes an indispensable cooperation in the commission of bigamy, which makes
her responsible as an accomplice.

The Ruling of the Court

The penalty for bigamy and petitioners


knowledge of Santoss first marriage

The crime of bigamy does not necessary entail the joint liability of two persons who marry each other
while the previous marriage of one of them is valid and subsisting. As explained
in Nepomuceno:18redarclaw

ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
In the crime of bigamy, both the first and second spouses may be the offended parties depending on
the circumstances, as when the second spouse married the accused without being aware of his
previous marriage. Only if the second spouse had knowledge of the previous undissolved marriage of
the accused could she be included in the information as a co-accused. (Emphasis supplied)

Therefore, the lower courts correctly ascertained petitioners knowledge of Santoss marriage to
Galang. Both courts consistently found that she knew of the first marriage as shown by the totality of
the following circumstances:19 (1) when Santos was courting and visiting petitioner in the house of her
in-laws, they openly showed their disapproval of him; (2) it was incredible for a learned person like
petitioner to not know of his true civil status; and (3) Galang, who was the more credible witness
compared with petitioner who had various inconsistent testimonies, straightforwardly testified that she
had already told petitioner on two occasions that the former was the legal wife of Santos.

After a careful review of the records, we see no reason to reverse or modify the factual findings of the
RTC, less so in the present case in which its findings were affirmed by the CA. Indeed, the trial
courts assessment of the credibility of witnesses deserves great respect, since it had the important
opportunity to observe firsthand the expression and demeanor of the witnesses during the
trial.20redarclaw

Given that petitioner knew of the first marriage, this Court concurs with the ruling that she was validly
charged with bigamy. However, we disagree with the lower courts imposition of the principal penalty
on her. To recall, the RTC, which the CA affirmed, meted out to her the penalty within the range
of prision correccional as minimum to prision mayor as maximum.

Her punishment as a principal to the crime is wrong. Archilla21 holds that the second spouse, if
indicted in the crime of bigamy, is liable only as an accomplice. In referring to Viada, Justice Luis B.
Reyes, an eminent authority in criminal law, writes that a person, whether man or woman, who
knowingly consents or agrees to be married to another already bound in lawful wedlock is guilty as an
accomplice in the crime of bigamy.22 Therefore, her conviction should only be that for an accomplice
to the crime.

Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the penalty for a principal in the crime of
bigamy is prision mayor, which has a duration of six years and one day to twelve years. Since the
criminal participation of petitioner is that of an accomplice, the sentence imposable on her is the
penalty next lower in degree,23prision correccional, which has a duration of six months and one day to
six years. There being neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, this penalty shall be imposed
in its medium period consisting of two years, four months and one day to four years and two months
of imprisonment. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, 24 petitioner shall be entitled to a
minimum term, to be taken from the penalty next lower in degree, arresto mayor, which has a
duration of one month and one day to six months imprisonment.

The criminal liability of petitioner


resulting from her marriage to
Santos

Jurisprudence clearly requires that for the accused to be convicted of bigamy, the second or
subsequent marriage must have all the essential requisites for validity. 25 If the accused wants to raise
the nullity of the marriage, he or she can do it as a matter of defense during the presentation of
evidence in the trial proper of the criminal case. 26 In this case, petitioner has
consistently27 questioned below the validity of her marriage to Santos on the ground that marriages
celebrated without the essential requisite of a marriage license are void ab initio.28redarclaw

Unfortunately, the lower courts merely brushed aside the issue. The RTC stated that it could not pass
judgment on the validity of the marriage. The CA held that the attempt of petitioner to attack her union
with Santos was in vain.

On the basis that the lower courts have manifestly overlooked certain issues and facts, 29 and given
that an appeal in a criminal case throws the whole case open for review, 30 this Court now resolves to
correct the error of the courts a quo.

After a perusal of the records, it is clear that the marriage between petitioner and Santos took place
without a marriage license. The absence of this requirement is purportedly explained in their
Certificate of Marriage, which reveals that their union was celebrated under Article 34 of the Family
Code. The provision reads as follows:LawlibraryofCRAlaw

ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as
husband and wife for at least five years and 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 parties are found no legal impediment to the marriage.
Therefore, the marriage of petitioner and Santos would have been exempted from a marriage license
had they cohabited exclusively as husband and wife for at least five years before their
marriage.31redarclaw

Here, respondent did not dispute that petitioner knew Santos in more or less in February 1996 32 and
that after six months of courtship,33 she married him on 29 July 1997. Without any objection from the
prosecution, petitioner testified that Santos had frequently visited her in Castellano, Nueva Ecija, prior
to their marriage. However, he never cohabited with her, as she was residing in the house of her in-
laws,34 and her children from her previous marriage disliked him.35 On cross-examination, respondent
did not question the claim of petitioner that sometime in 1993, she first met Santos as an agent who
sold her piglets.36redarclaw

All told, the evidence on record shows that petitioner and Santos had only known each other for only
less than four years. Thus, it follows that the two of them could not have cohabited for at least five
years prior to their marriage.

Santiago and Santos, however, reflected the exact opposite of this demonstrable fact. Although the
records do not show that they submitted an affidavit of cohabitation as required by Article 34 of the
Family Code, it appears that the two of them lied before the solemnizing officer and misrepresented
that they had actually cohabited for at least five years before they married each other. Unfortunately,
subsequent to this lie was the issuance of the Certificate of Marriage, 37 in which the solemnizing
officer stated under oath that no marriage license was necessary, because the marriage was
solemnized under Article 34 of the Family Code.

The legal effects in a criminal case


of a deliberate act to put a flaw in the
marriage

The Certificate of Marriage, signed by Santos and Santiago, contained the misrepresentation
perpetrated by them that they were eligible to contract marriage without a license. We thus face an
anomalous situation wherein petitioner seeks to be acquitted of bigamy based on her illegal actions of
(1) marrying Santos without a marriage license despite knowing that they had not satisfied the
cohabitation requirement under the law; and (2) falsely making claims in no less than her marriage
contract.

We chastise this deceptive scheme that hides what is basically a bigamous and illicit marriage in an
effort to escape criminal prosecution. Our penal laws on marriage, such as bigamy, punish an
individuals deliberate disregard of the permanent and sacrosanct character of this special bond
between spouses.38 In Tenebro v. Court of Appeals,39 we had the occasion to emphasize that the
States penal laws on bigamy should not be rendered nugatory by allowing individuals to deliberately
ensure that each marital contract be flawed in some manner, and to thus escape the consequences
of contracting multiple marriages, while beguiling throngs of hapless women with the promise of
futurity and commitment.

Thus, in the case at bar, we cannot countenance petitioners illegal acts of feigning a marriage and, in
the same breath, adjudge her innocent of the crime. For us, to do so would only make a mockery of
the sanctity of marriage.40redarclaw

Furthermore, it is a basic concept of justice that no court will lend its aid to x x x one who has
consciously and voluntarily become a party to an illegal act upon which the cause of action is
founded.41 If the cause of action appears to arise ex turpi causa or that which involves a
transgression of positive law, parties shall be left unassisted by the courts. 42As a result, litigants shall
be denied relief on the ground that their conduct has been inequitable, unfair and dishonest or
fraudulent, or deceitful as to the controversy in issue. 43redarclaw

Here, the cause of action of petitioner, meaning her affirmative defense in this criminal case of
bigamy, is that her marriage with Santos was void for having been secured without a marriage
license. But as elucidated earlier, they themselves perpetrated a false Certificate of Marriage by
misrepresenting that they were exempted from the license requirement based on their fabricated
claim that they had already cohabited as husband and wife for at least five years prior their marriage.
In violation of our law against illegal marriages,44 petitioner married Santos while knowing fully well
that they had not yet complied with the five-year cohabitation requirement under Article 34 of the
Family Code. Consequently, it will be the height of absurdity for this Court to allow petitioner to use
her illegal act to escape criminal conviction.

The applicability of People v. De Lara

Petitioner cites De Lara as the relevant jurisprudence involving an acquittal for bigamy on the ground
that the second marriage lacked the requisite marriage license. In that case, the Court found that
when Domingo de Lara married his second wife, Josefa Rosales, on 18 August 1951, the local Civil
Registrar had yet to issue their marriage license on 19 August 1951. Thus, since the marriage was
celebrated one day before the issuance of the marriage license, the Court acquitted him of bigamy.

Noticeably, Domingo de Lara did not cause the falsification of public documents in order to contract a
second marriage. In contrast, petitioner and Santos fraudulently secured a Certificate of Marriage,
and petitioner later used this blatantly illicit act as basis for seeking her exculpation. Therefore, unlike
our treatment of the accused in De Lara, this Court cannot regard petitioner herein as innocent of the
crime.

No less than the present Constitution provides that marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the
foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.45 It must be safeguarded from the whims
and caprices of the contracting parties.46|||In keeping therefore with this fundamental policy, this Court
affirms the conviction of petitioner for bigamy.

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by petitioner Leonila G. Santiago
is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 33566
is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. As modified, petitioner Leonila G. Santiago is hereby found guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy as an accomplice. She is sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of six months of arresto mayor as minimum to four years of prision
correccional as maximum plus accessory penalties provided by law.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 112019 January 4, 1995


LEOUEL SANTOS, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND JULIA ROSARIO BEDIA-SANTOS, respondents.

VITUG, J.:

Concededly a highly, if not indeed the most likely, controversial provision introduced by the Family
Code is Article 36 (as amended by E.O. No. 227 dated 17 July 1987), which declares:

Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of
marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization.

The present petition for review on certiorari, at the instance of Leouel Santos ("Leouel"), brings
into fore the above provision which is now invoked by him. Undaunted by the decisions of the
court a quo 1 and the Court of Appeal, 2 Leouel persists in beseeching its application in his
attempt to have his marriage with herein private respondent, Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos
("Julia"), declared a nullity.

It was in Iloilo City where Leouel, who then held the rank of First Lieutenant in the Philippine Army,
first met Julia. The meeting later proved to be an eventful day for Leouel and Julia. On 20 September
1986, the two exchanged vows before Municipal Trial Court Judge Cornelio G. Lazaro of Iloilo City,
followed, shortly thereafter, by a church wedding. Leouel and Julia lived with the latter's parents at the
J. Bedia Compound, La Paz, Iloilo City. On 18 July 1987, Julia gave birth to a baby boy, and he was
christened Leouel Santos, Jr. The ecstasy, however, did not last long. It was bound to happen,
Leouel averred, because of the frequent interference by Julia's parents into the young spouses family
affairs. Occasionally, the couple would also start a "quarrel" over a number of other things, like when
and where the couple should start living independently from Julia's parents or whenever Julia would
express resentment on Leouel's spending a few days with his own parents.

On 18 May 1988, Julia finally left for the United Sates of America to work as a nurse despite Leouel's
pleas to so dissuade her. Seven months after her departure, or on 01 January 1989, Julia called up
Leouel for the first time by long distance telephone. She promised to return home upon the expiration
of her contract in July 1989. She never did. When Leouel got a chance to visit the United States,
where he underwent a training program under the auspices of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
from 01 April up to 25 August 1990, he desperately tried to locate, or to somehow get in touch with,
Julia but all his efforts were of no avail.

Having failed to get Julia to somehow come home, Leouel filed with the regional trial Court of Negros
Oriental, Branch 30, a complaint for "Voiding of marriage Under Article 36 of the Family Code"
(docketed, Civil Case No. 9814). Summons was served by publication in a newspaper of general
circulation in Negros Oriental.

On 31 May 1991, respondent Julia, in her answer (through counsel), opposed the complaint and
denied its allegations, claiming, in main, that it was the petitioner who had, in fact, been irresponsible
and incompetent.

A possible collusion between the parties to obtain a decree of nullity of their marriage was ruled out
by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor (in its report to the court).
On 25 October 1991, after pre-trial conferences had repeatedly been set, albeit unsuccessfully, by
the court, Julia ultimately filed a manifestation, stating that she would neither appear nor submit
evidence.

On 06 November 1991, the court a quo finally dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. 3

Leouel appealed to the Court of Appeal. The latter affirmed the decision of the trial court. 4

The petition should be denied not only because of its non-compliance with Circular 28-91, which
requires a certification of non-shopping, but also for its lack of merit.

Leouel argues that the failure of Julia to return home, or at the very least to communicate with him, for
more than five years are circumstances that clearly show her being psychologically incapacitated to
enter into married life. In his own words, Leouel asserts:

. . . (T)here is no leave, there is no affection for (him) because respondent Julia Rosario
Bedia-Santos failed all these years to communicate with the petitioner. A wife who does
not care to inform her husband about her whereabouts for a period of five years, more
or less, is psychologically incapacitated.

The family Code did not define the term "psychological incapacity." The deliberations during the
sessions of the Family Code Revision Committee, which has drafted the Code, can, however, provide
an insight on the import of the provision.

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

xxx xxx xxx

Art. 36. . . .

(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature of
marriage or was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential
marital obligations, even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the
celebration.

On subparagraph (7), which as lifted from the Canon Law, Justice (Jose B.L.) Reyes
suggested that they say "wanting in sufficient use," but Justice (Eduardo) Caguioa
preferred to say "wanting in the sufficient use." On the other hand, Justice Reyes
proposed that they say "wanting in sufficient reason." Justice Caguioa, however,
pointed out that the idea is that one is not lacking in judgment but that he is lacking in
the exercise of judgment. He added that lack of judgment would make the marriage
voidable. Judge (Alicia Sempio-) Diy remarked that lack of judgment is more serious
than insufficient use of judgment and yet the latter would make the marriage null and
void and the former only voidable. Justice Caguioa suggested that subparagraph (7) be
modified to read:

"That contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to discharge the essential marital
obligations, even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the
celebration."
Justice Caguioa explained that the phrase "was wanting in sufficient use of reason of
judgment to understand the essential nature of marriage" refers to defects in the mental
faculties vitiating consent, which is not the idea in subparagraph (7), but lack of
appreciation of one's marital obligations.

Judge Diy raised the question: Since "insanity" is also a psychological or mental
incapacity, why is "insanity" only a ground for annulment and not for declaration or
nullity? In reply, Justice Caguioa explained that in insanity, there is the appearance of
consent, which is the reason why it is a ground for voidable marriages, while
subparagraph (7) does not refer to consent but to the very essence of marital
obligations.

Prof. (Araceli) Baviera suggested that, in subparagraph (7), the word "mentally" be
deleted, with which Justice Caguioa concurred. Judge Diy, however, prefers to retain
the word "mentally."

Justice Caguioa remarked that subparagraph (7) refers to psychological impotence.


Justice (Ricardo) Puno stated that sometimes a person may be psychologically
impotent with one but not with another. Justice (Leonor Ines-) Luciano said that it is
called selective impotency.

Dean (Fortunato) Gupit stated that the confusion lies in the fact that in inserting the
Canon Law annulment in the Family Code, the Committee used a language which
describes a ground for voidable marriages under the Civil Code. Justice Caguioa added
that in Canon Law, there are voidable marriages under the Canon Law, there are no
voidable marriages Dean Gupit said that this is precisely the reason why they should
make a distinction.

Justice Puno remarked that in Canon Law, the defects in marriage cannot be cured.

Justice Reyes pointed out that the problem is: Why is "insanity" a ground for void ab
initio marriages? In reply, Justice Caguioa explained that insanity is curable and there
are lucid intervals, while psychological incapacity is not.

On another point, Justice Puno suggested that the phrase "even if such lack or
incapacity is made manifest" be modified to read "even if such lack or incapacity
becomes manifest."

Justice Reyes remarked that in insanity, at the time of the marriage, it is not apparent.

Justice Caguioa stated that there are two interpretations of the phrase "psychological or
mentally incapacitated" in the first one, there is vitiation of consent because one does
not know all the consequences of the marriages, and if he had known these completely,
he might not have consented to the marriage.

xxx xxx xxx

Prof. Bautista stated that he is in favor of making psychological incapacity a ground for
voidable marriages since otherwise it will encourage one who really understood the
consequences of marriage to claim that he did not and to make excuses for invalidating
the marriage by acting as if he did not understand the obligations of marriage. Dean
Gupit added that it is a loose way of providing for divorce.
xxx xxx xxx

Justice Caguioa explained that his point is that in the case of incapacity by reason of
defects in the mental faculties, which is less than insanity, there is a defect in consent
and, therefore, it is clear that it should be a ground for voidable marriage because there
is the appearance of consent and it is capable of convalidation for the simple reason
that there are lucid intervals and there are cases when the insanity is curable. He
emphasized that psychological incapacity does not refer to mental faculties and has
nothing to do with consent; it refers to obligations attendant to marriage.

xxx xxx xxx

On psychological incapacity, Prof. (Flerida Ruth P.) Romero inquired if they do not
consider it as going to the very essence of consent. She asked if they are really
removing it from consent. In reply, Justice Caguioa explained that, ultimately, consent in
general is effected but he stressed that his point is that it is not principally a vitiation of
consent since there is a valid consent. He objected to the lumping together of the
validity of the marriage celebration and the obligations attendant to marriage, which are
completely different from each other, because they require a different capacity, which is
eighteen years of age, for marriage but in contract, it is different. Justice Puno, however,
felt that psychological incapacity is still a kind of vice of consent and that it should not be
classified as a voidable marriage which is incapable of convalidation; it should be
convalidated but there should be no prescription. In other words, as long as the defect
has not been cured, there is always a right to annul the marriage and if the defect has
been really cured, it should be a defense in the action for annulment so that when the
action for annulment is instituted, the issue can be raised that actually, although one
might have been psychologically incapacitated, at the time the action is brought, it is no
longer true that he has no concept of the consequence of marriage.

Prof. (Esteban) Bautista raised the question: Will not cohabitation be a defense? In
response, Justice Puno stated that even the bearing of children and cohabitation should
not be a sign that psychological incapacity has been cured.

Prof. Romero opined that psychological incapacity is still insanity of a lesser degree.
Justice Luciano suggested that they invite a psychiatrist, who is the expert on this
matter. Justice Caguioa, however, reiterated that psychological incapacity is not a
defect in the mind but in the understanding of the consequences of marriage, and
therefore, a psychiatrist will not be a help.

Prof. Bautista stated that, in the same manner that there is a lucid interval in insanity,
there are also momentary periods when there is an understanding of the consequences
of marriage. Justice Reyes and Dean Gupit remarked that the ground of psychological
incapacity will not apply if the marriage was contracted at the time when there is
understanding of the consequences of marriage. 5

xxx xxx xxx

Judge Diy proposed that they include physical incapacity to copulate among the
grounds for void marriages. Justice Reyes commented that in some instances the
impotence that in some instances the impotence is only temporary and only with respect
to a particular person. Judge Diy stated that they can specify that it is incurable. Justice
Caguioa remarked that the term "incurable" has a different meaning in law and in
medicine. Judge Diy stated that "psychological incapacity" can also be cured. Justice
Caguioa, however, pointed out that "psychological incapacity" is incurable.

Justice Puno observed that under the present draft provision, it is enough to show that
at the time of the celebration of the marriage, one was psychologically incapacitated so
that later on if already he can comply with the essential marital obligations, the marriage
is still void ab initio. Justice Caguioa explained that since in divorce, the psychological
incapacity may occur after the marriage, in void marriages, it has to be at the time of the
celebration of marriage. He, however, stressed that the idea in the provision is that at
the time of the celebration of the marriage, one is psychologically incapacitated to
comply with the essential marital obligations, which incapacity continues and later
becomes manifest.

Justice Puno and Judge Diy, however, pointed out that it is possible that after the
marriage, one's psychological incapacity become manifest but later on he is cured.
Justice Reyes and Justice Caguioa opined that the remedy in this case is to allow him
to remarry. 6

xxx xxx xxx

Justice Puno formulated the next Article as follows:

Art. 37. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was psychologically incapacitated, to comply with the
essential obligations of marriage shall likewise be void from the beginning
even if such incapacity becomes manifest after its solemnization.

Justice Caguioa suggested that "even if" be substituted with "although." On the other
hand, Prof. Bautista proposed that the clause "although such incapacity becomes
manifest after its solemnization" be deleted since it may encourage one to create the
manifestation of psychological incapacity. Justice Caguioa pointed out that, as in other
provisions, they cannot argue on the basis of abuse.

Judge Diy suggested that they also include mental and physical incapacities, which are
lesser in degree than psychological incapacity. Justice Caguioa explained that mental
and physical incapacities are vices of consent while psychological incapacity is not a
species of vice or consent.

Dean Gupit read what Bishop Cruz said on the matter in the minutes of their February 9,
1984 meeting:

"On the third ground, Bishop Cruz indicated that the phrase "psychological
or mental impotence" is an invention of some churchmen who are
moralists but not canonists, that is why it is considered a weak phrase. He
said that the Code of Canon Law would rather express it as "psychological
or mental incapacity to discharge . . ."

Justice Caguioa remarked that they deleted the word "mental" precisely to distinguish it
from vice of consent. He explained that "psychological incapacity" refers to lack of
understanding of the essential obligations of marriage.
Justice Puno reminded the members that, at the last meeting, they have decided not to
go into the classification of "psychological incapacity" because there was a lot of debate
on it and that this is precisely the reason why they classified it as a special case.

At this point, Justice Puno, remarked that, since there having been annulments of
marriages arising from psychological incapacity, Civil Law should not reconcile with
Canon Law because it is a new ground even under Canon Law.

Prof. Romero raised the question: With this common provision in Civil Law and in
Canon Law, are they going to have a provision in the Family Code to the effect that
marriages annulled or declared void by the church on the ground of psychological
incapacity is automatically annulled in Civil Law? The other members replied negatively.

Justice Puno and Prof. Romero inquired if Article 37 should be retroactive or


prospective in application.

Justice Diy opined that she was for its retroactivity because it is their answer to the
problem of church annulments of marriages, which are still valid under the Civil Law. On
the other hand, Justice Reyes and Justice Puno were concerned about the avalanche of
cases.

Dean Gupit suggested that they put the issue to a vote, which the Committee approved.

The members voted as follows:

(1) Justice Reyes, Justice Puno and Prof. Romero were for prospectivity.

(2) Justice Caguioa, Judge Diy, Dean Gupit, Prof. Bautista and Director Eufemio were
for retroactivity.

(3) Prof. Baviera abstained.

Justice Caguioa suggested that they put in the prescriptive period of ten years within
which the action for declaration of nullity of the marriage should be filed in court. The
Committee approved the suggestion. 7

It could well be that, in sum, the Family Code Revision Committee in ultimately deciding to adopt the
provision with less specificity than expected, has in fact, so designed the law as to allow some
resiliency in its application. Mme. Justice Alicia V. Sempio-Diy, a member of the Code Committee,
has been quoted by Mr. Justice Josue N. Bellosillo in Salita vs. Hon. Magtolis (G.R. No. 106429, 13
June 1994); thus: 8

The Committee did not give any examples of psychological incapacity for fear that the
giving of examples would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle
of ejusdem generis. Rather, the Committee would like the judge to interpret the
provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by experience, the findings of experts and
researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which,
although not binding on the civil courts, may be given persuasive effect since the
provision was taken from Canon Law.

A part of the provision is similar to Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law, 9 which reads:
Canon 1095. They are incapable of contracting marriage:

1. who lack sufficient use of reason;

2. who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning essentila


matrimonial rights and duties, to be given and accepted mutually;

3. who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage. (Emphasis supplied.)

Accordingly, although neither decisive nor even perhaps all that persuasive for having no juridical or
secular effect, the jurisprudence under Canon Law prevailing at the time of the code's enactment,
nevertheless, cannot be dismissed as impertinent for its value as an aid, at least, to the interpretation
or construction of the codal provision.
10
One author, Ladislas Orsy, S.J., in his treaties, giving an account on how the third paragraph of
Canon 1095 has been framed, states:

The history of the drafting of this canon does not leave any doubt that the legislator
intended, indeed, to broaden the rule. A strict and narrow norm was proposed first:

Those who cannot assume the essential obligations of marriage because


of a grave psycho-sexual anomaly (ob gravem anomaliam
psychosexualem) are unable to contract marriage (cf. SCH/1975, canon
297, a new canon, novus);

then a broader one followed:

. . . because of a grave psychological anomaly (ob gravem anomaliam psychicam) . . .


(cf. SCH/1980, canon 1049);

then the same wording was retained in the text submitted to the pope (cf. SCH/1982,
canon 1095, 3);

finally, a new version was promulgated:

because of causes of a psychological nature (ob causas naturae psychiae).

So the progress was from psycho-sexual to psychological anomaly, then the term
anomaly was altogether eliminated. it would be, however, incorrect to draw the
conclusion that the cause of the incapacity need not be some kind of psychological
disorder; after all, normal and healthy person should be able to assume the ordinary
obligations of marriage.

Fr. Orsy concedes that the term "psychological incapacity" defies any precise definition since
psychological causes can be of an infinite variety.

In a book, entitled "Canons and Commentaries on Marriage," written by Ignatius Gramunt, Javier
Hervada and LeRoy Wauck, the following explanation appears:
This incapacity consists of the following: (a) a true inability to commit oneself to the
essentials of marriage. Some psychosexual disorders and other disorders of personality
can be the psychic cause of this defect, which is here described in legal terms. This
particular type of incapacity consists of a real inability to render what is due by the
contract. This could be compared to the incapacity of a farmer to enter a binding
contract to deliver the crops which he cannot possibly reap; (b) this inability to commit
oneself must refer to the essential obligations of marriage: the conjugal act, the
community of life and love, the rendering of mutual help, the procreation and education
of offspring; (c) the inability must be tantamount to a psychological abnormality. The
mere difficulty of assuming these obligations, which could be overcome by normal effort,
obviously does not constitute incapacity. The canon contemplates a true psychological
disorder which incapacitates a person from giving what is due (cf. John Paul II, Address
to R. Rota, Feb. 5, 1987). However, if the marriage is to be declared invalid under this
incapacity, it must be proved not only that the person is afflicted by a psychological
defect, but that the defect did in fact deprive the person, at the moment of giving
consent, of the ability to assume the essential duties of marriage and consequently of
the possibility of being bound by these duties.

Justice Sempio-Diy 11 cites with approval the work of Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former Presiding Judge of
the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (Branch 1), who opines that
psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c)
incurability. The incapacity must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of
carrying out the ordinary duties required in marriage; it must be rooted in the history of the party
antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and it
must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party
involved.

It should be obvious, looking at all the foregoing disquisitions, including, and most importantly, the
deliberations of the Family Code Revision Committee itself, that the use of the phrase "psychological
incapacity" under Article 36 of the Code has not been meant to comprehend all such possible cases
of psychoses as, likewise mentioned by some ecclesiastical authorities, extremely low intelligence,
immaturity, and like circumstances (cited in Fr. Artemio Baluma's "Void and Voidable Marriages in the
Family Code and their Parallels in Canon Law," quoting from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorder by the American Psychiatric Association; Edward Hudson's "Handbook II for
Marriage Nullity Cases"). Article 36 of the Family Code cannot be taken and construed independently
of, but must stand in conjunction with, existing precepts in our law on marriage. Thus correlated,
"psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes
a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and
discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code,
include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and
support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of
"psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of
an utter intensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This pschologic
condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. The law does not evidently envision, upon
the other hand, an inability of the spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is
implicit under Article 54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the judicial
declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be "legitimate."

The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a party being of
unsound mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality or lesbianism,
merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction,
habitual alcholism, lesbianism or homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become
mere grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions of the Code,
however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances being
themselves, depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of psychological incapacity.

Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are established, every circumstance that may
have some bearing on the degree, extent, and other conditions of that incapacity must, in every case,
be carefully examined and evaluated so that no precipitate and indiscriminate nullity is peremptorily
decreed. The well-considered opinions of psychiatrists, psychologists, and persons with expertise in
psychological disciplines might be helpful or even desirable.

Marriage is not an adventure but a lifetime commitment. We should continue to be reminded that
innate in our society, then enshrined in our Civil Code, and even now still indelible in Article 1 of the
Family Code, is that

Art. 1. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man a woman


entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is
the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature,
consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except
that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the
limits provided by this Code. (Emphasis supplied.)

Our Constitution is no less emphatic:

Sec. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation.
Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.

Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and
shall be protected by the State. (Article XV, 1987 Constitution).

The above provisions express so well and so distinctly the basic nucleus of our laws on marriage and
the family, and they are doubt the tenets we still hold on to.

The factual settings in the case at bench, in no measure at all, can come close to the standards
required to decree a nullity of marriage. Undeniably and understandably, Leouel stands aggrieved,
even desperate, in his present situation. Regrettably, neither law nor society itself can always provide
all the specific answers to every individual problem.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno Kapunan and
Mendoza, JJ., concur.

Feliciano, J., is on leave.


Separate Opinions

PADILLA, J., dissenting:

It is difficult to dissent from a well-written and studied opinion as Mr. Justice Vitug's ponencia. But,
after an extended reflection on the facts of this case, I cannot see my way clear into holding, as the
majority do, that there is no ground for the declaration of nullity of the marriage between petitioner
and private respondent.

To my mind, it is clear that private respondent has been shown to be psychologically incapacitated to
comply with at least one essential marital obligation, i.e. that of living and cohabiting with her
husband, herein petitioner. On the other hand, it has not been shown that petitioner does not deserve
to live and cohabit with his wife, herein private respondent.

There appears to be no disagreement that the term "psychological incapacity" defies precision in
definition. But, as used in Article 36 of the Family Code as a ground for the declaration of nullity of a
marriage, the intent of the framers of the Code is evidently to expand and liberalize the grounds for
nullifying a marriage, as well pointed out by Madam Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero in her separate
opinion in this case.

While it is true that the board term "psychological incapacity" can open the doors to abuse by couples
who may wish to have an easy way out of their marriage, there are, however, enough safeguards
against this contingency, among which, is the intervention by the State, through the public prosecutor,
to guard against collusion between the parties and/or fabrication of evidence.

In their case at bench, it has been abundantly established that private respondent Julia Rosario
Bedia-Santos exhibits specific behavior which, to my mind, shows that she is psychologically
incapacitated to fulfill her essential marital obligations, to writ:

a. It took her seven (7) months after she left for the United States to call up her
husband.

b. Julia promised to return home after her job contract expired in July 1989, but she
never did and neither is there any showing that she informed her husband (herein
petitioner) of her whereabouts in the U.S.A.

c. When petitioner went to the United States on a mission for the Philippine Army, he
exerted efforts to "touch base" with Julia; there were no similar efforts on the part of
Julia; there were no similar efforts on the part of Julia to do the same.

d. When petitioner filed this suit, more than five (5) years had elapsed, without Julia
indicating her plans to rejoin the petitioner or her whereabouts.

e. When petitioner filed this case in the trial court, Julia, in her answer, claimed that it is
the former who has been irresponsible and incompetent.

f. During the trial, Julia waived her right to appear and submit evidence.
A spouse's obligation to live and cohabit with his/her partner in marriage is a basic ground rule in
marriage, unless there are overpowering compelling reasons such as, for instance, an incurable
contagious disease on the part of a spouse or cruelty of one partner, bordering on insanity. There
may also be instances when, for economic and practical reasons, husband and wife have to live
separately, but the marital bond between the spouses always remains. Mutual love and respect for
each other would, in such cases, compel the absent spouse to at least have regular contracts with the
other to inform the latter of his/her condition and whereabouts.

In the present case, it is apparent that private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos has no intention
of cohabiting with petitioner, her husband, or maintaining contact with him. In fact, her acts eloquently
show that she does not want her husband to know of her whereabouts and neither has she any
intention of living and cohabiting with him.

To me there appears to be, on the part of private respondent, an unmistakeable indication of


psychological incapacity to comply with her essential marital obligations, although these indications
were made manifest after the celebration of the marriage.

It would be a great injustice, I believe, to petitioner for this Court to give a much too restrictive
interpretation of the law and compel the petitioner to continue to be married to a wife who for
purposes of fulfilling her marital duties has, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist.

Besides, there are public policy considerations involved in the ruling the Court makes today. Is it not,
in effect directly or indirectly, facilitating the transformation of petitioner into a "habitual tryster" or one
forced to maintain illicit relations with another woman or women with emerging problems of
illegitimate children, simply because he is denied by private respondent, his wife, the companionship
and conjugal love which he has sought from her and to which he is legally entitled?

I do not go as far as to suggest that Art. 36 of the Family Code is a sanction for absolute divorce but I
submit that we should not constrict it to non-recognition of its evident purpose and thus deny to one
like petitioner, an opportunity to turn a new leaf in his life by declaring his marriage a nullity by reason
of his wife's psychological incapacity to perform an essential marital obligation.

I therefore vote to GRANT the petition and to DECLARE the marriage between petitioner Leouel
Santos and private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos VOID on the basis of Article 36 of the
Family Code.

ROMERO, J., concurring:

I agree under the circumstances of the case, petitioner is not entitled to have his marriage declared a
nullity on the ground of psychological incapacity of private respondent.

However, as a member of both the Family Law Revision Committee of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and the Civil Code Revision Committee of the UP Law Center, I wish to add some
observations. The letter 1 dated April 15, 1985 of then Judge Alicia V. Sempio-Diy written in behalf of
the Family Law and Civil Code Revision Committee to then Assemblywoman Mercedes Cojuangco-
Teodoro traced the background of the inclusion of the present Article 36 in the Family Code.

During its early meetings, the Family Law Committee had thought of including a chapter
on absolute divorce in the draft of a new Family Code (Book I of the Civil Code) that it
had been tasked by the IBP and the UP Law Center to prepare. In fact, some members
of the Committee were in favor of a no-fault divorce between the spouses after a
number of years of separation, legal or de-facto. Justice J.B.L. Reyes was then
requested to prepare a proposal for an action for dissolution of marriage and the effects
thereof based on two grounds: (a) five continuous years of separation between the
spouses, with or without a judicial decree of legal separation, and (b) whenever a
married person would have obtained a decree of absolute divorce in another country.
Actually, such a proposal is one for absolute divorce but called by another name. Later,
even the Civil Code Revision Committee took time to discuss the proposal of Justice
Reyes on this matter.

Subsequently, however, when the Civil Code Revision Committee and Family Law
Committee started holding joint meetings on the preparation of the draft of the New
Family Code, they agreed and formulated the definition of marriage as

"a special contract of permanent partnership between a man and a woman


entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and
family life. It is an inviolable social institution whose nature,
consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to
stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations
during the marriage within the limits provided by law."

With the above definition, and considering the Christian traditional concept of marriage
of the Filipino people as a permanent, inviolable, indissoluble social institution upon
which the family and society are founded, and also realizing the strong opposition that
any provision on absolute divorce would encounter from the Catholic Church and the
Catholic sector of our citizenry to whom the great majority of our people belong, the two
Committees in their joint meetings did not pursue the idea of absolute divorce and
instead opted for an action for judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage based on
grounds available in the Canon Law. It was thought that such an action would not only
be an acceptable alternative to divorce but would also solve the nagging problem of
church annulments of marriages on grounds not recognized by the civil law of the State.
Justice Reyes was thus requested to again prepare a draft of provisions on such action
for celebration of invalidity of marriage. Still later, to avoid the overlapping of provisions
on void marriages as found in the present Civil Code and those proposed by Justice
Reyes on judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage on grounds similar to the Canon
Law, the two Committees now working as a Joint Committee in the preparation of a
New Family Code decided to consolidate the present provisions on void marriages with
the proposals of Justice Reyes. The result was the inclusion of an additional kind of void
marriage in the enumeration of void marriages in the present Civil Code, to wit:

"(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to
understand the essential nature of marriage or was psychologically or
mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even
if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the celebration."

as well as the following implementing provisions:

"Art. 32. The absolute nullity of a marriage may be invoked or pleaded


only on the basis of a final judgment declaring the marriage void, without
prejudice to the provision of Article 34."

"Art. 33. The action or defense for the declaration of the absolute nullity of
a marriage shall not prescribe."
xxx xxx xxx

It is believed that many hopelessly broken marriages in our country today may already
dissolved or annulled on the grounds proposed by the Joint Committee on declaration of
nullity as well as annulment of marriages, thus rendering an absolute divorce law
unnecessary. In fact, during a conference with Father Gerald Healy of the Ateneo
University as well as another meeting with Archbishop Oscar Cruz of the Archdiocese of
Pampanga, the Joint Committee was informed that since Vatican II, the Catholic Church
has been declaring marriages null and void on the ground of "lack of due discretion" for
causes that, in other jurisdictions, would be clear grounds for divorce, like teen-age or
premature marriages; marriage to a man who, because of some personality disorder or
disturbance, cannot support a family; the foolish or ridiculous choice of a spouse by an
otherwise perfectly normal person; marriage to a woman who refuses to cohabit with
her husband or who refuses to have children. Bishop Cruz also informed the Committee
that they have found out in tribunal work that a lot of machismo among husbands are
manifestations of their sociopathic personality anomaly, like inflicting physical violence
upon their wives, constitutional indolence or laziness, drug dependence or addiction,
and psychological anomaly. . . . (Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, by incorporating what is now Article 36 into the Family Code, the Revision Committee
referred to above intended to add another ground to those already listed in the Civil Code as grounds
for nullifying a marriage, thus expanding or liberalizing the same. Inherent in the inclusion of the
provision on psychological incapacity was the understanding that every petition for declaration of
nullity based on it should be treated on a case-to-case basis; hence, the absence of a definition and
an enumeration of what constitutes psychological incapacity. Moreover, the Committee feared that
the giving of examples would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle of ejusdem
generis. But the law requires that the same be existing at the time of marriage although it be
manifested later.

Admittedly, the provision on psychological incapacity, just like any other provision of law, is open to
abuse. To prevent this, "the court shall take order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to
appear on behalf of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care
that evidence is not fabricated or suppressed." 2 Moreover, the judge, in interpreting the provision on
a case-to-case basis, must be guided by "experience, the findings of experts and researchers in
psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the civil
courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provisions was taken from Canon Law." 3

The constitutional and statutory provisions on the family 4 will remain the lodestar which our society
will hope to achieve ultimately. Therefore, the inclusion of Article 36 is not to be taken as an
abandonment of the ideal which we all cherish. If at all, it is a recognition of the reality that some
marriages, by reason of the incapacity of one of the contracting parties, fall short of this ideal; thus,
the parties are constrained to find a way of putting an end to their union through some legally-
accepted means.

Any criticism directed at the way that judges have interpreted the provision since its enactment as to
render it easier for unhappily-married couples to separate is addressed, not to the wisdom of the
lawmakers but to the manner by which some members of the Bench have implemented the provision.
These are not interchangeable, each being separate and distinct from the other.

Separate Opinions
PADILLA, J., dissenting:

It is difficult to dissent from a well-written and studied opinion as Mr. Justice Vitug's ponencia. But,
after an extended reflection on the facts of this case, I cannot see my way clear into holding, as the
majority do, that there is no ground for the declaration of nullity of the marriage between petitioner
and private respondent.

To my mind, it is clear that private respondent has been shown to be psychologically incapacitated to
comply with at least one essential marital obligation, i.e. that of living and cohabiting with her
husband, herein petitioner. On the other hand, it has not been shown that petitioner does not deserve
to live and cohabit with his wife, herein private respondent.

There appears to be no disagreement that the term "psychological incapacity" defies precision in
definition. But, as used in Article 36 of the Family Code as a ground for the declaration of nullity of a
marriage, the intent of the framers of the Code is evidently to expand and liberalize the grounds for
nullifying a marriage, as well pointed out by Madam Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero in her separate
opinion in this case.

While it is true that the board term "psychological incapacity" can open the doors to abuse by couples
who may wish to have an easy way out of their marriage, there are, however, enough safeguards
against this contingency, among which, is the intervention by the State, through the public prosecutor,
to guard against collusion between the parties and/or fabrication of evidence.

In their case at bench, it has been abundantly established that private respondent Julia Rosario
Bedia-Santos exhibits specific behavior which, to my mind, shows that she is psychologically
incapacitated to fulfill her essential marital obligations, to writ:

a. It took her seven (7) months after she left for the United States to call up her
husband.

b. Julia promised to return home after her job contract expired in July 1989, but she
never did and neither is there any showing that she informed her husband (herein
petitioner) of her whereabouts in the U.S.A.

c. When petitioner went to the United States on a mission for the Philippine Army, he
exerted efforts to "touch base" with Julia; there were no similar efforts on the part of
Julia; there were no similar efforts on the part of Julia to do the same.

d. When petitioner filed this suit, more than five (5) years had elapsed, without Julia
indicating her plans to rejoin the petitioner or her whereabouts.

e. When petitioner filed this case in the trial court, Julia, in her answer, claimed that it is
the former who has been irresponsible and incompetent.

f. During the trial, Julia waived her right to appear and submit evidence.

A spouse's obligation to live and cohabit with his/her partner in marriage is a basic ground rule in
marriage, unless there are overpowering compelling reasons such as, for instance, an incurable
contagious disease on the part of a spouse or cruelty of one partner, bordering on insanity. There
may also be instances when, for economic and practical reasons, husband and wife have to live
separately, but the marital bond between the spouses always remains. Mutual love and respect for
each other would, in such cases, compel the absent spouse to at least have regular contracts with the
other to inform the latter of his/her condition and whereabouts.

In the present case, it is apparent that private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos has no intention
of cohabiting with petitioner, her husband, or maintaining contact with him. In fact, her acts eloquently
show that she does not want her husband to know of her whereabouts and neither has she any
intention of living and cohabiting with him.

To me there appears to be, on the part of private respondent, an unmistakeable indication of


psychological incapacity to comply with her essential marital obligations, although these indications
were made manifest after the celebration of the marriage.

It would be a great injustice, I believe, to petitioner for this Court to give a much too restrictive
interpretation of the law and compel the petitioner to continue to be married to a wife who for
purposes of fulfilling her marital duties has, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist.

Besides, there are public policy considerations involved in the ruling the Court makes today. Is it not,
in effect directly or indirectly, facilitating the transformation of petitioner into a "habitual tryster" or one
forced to maintain illicit relations with another woman or women with emerging problems of
illegitimate children, simply because he is denied by private respondent, his wife, the companionship
and conjugal love which he has sought from her and to which he is legally entitled?

I do not go as far as to suggest that Art. 36 of the Family Code is a sanction for absolute divorce but I
submit that we should not constrict it to non-recognition of its evident purpose and thus deny to one
like petitioner, an opportunity to turn a new leaf in his life by declaring his marriage a nullity by reason
of his wife's psychological incapacity to perform an essential marital obligation.

I therefore vote to GRANT the petition and to DECLARE the marriage between petitioner Leouel
Santos and private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos VOID on the basis of Article 36 of the
Family Code.

ROMERO, J., concurring:

I agree under the circumstances of the case, petitioner is not entitled to have his marriage declared a
nullity on the ground of psychological incapacity of private respondent.

However, as a member of both the Family Law Revision Committee of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and the Civil Code Revision Committee of the UP Law Center, I wish to add some
observations. The letter 1 dated April 15, 1985 of then Judge Alicia V. Sempio-Diy written in behalf of
the Family Law and Civil Code Revision Committee to then Assemblywoman Mercedes Cojuangco-
Teodoro traced the background of the inclusion of the present Article 36 in the Family Code.

During its early meetings, the Family Law Committee had thought of including a chapter
on absolute divorce in the draft of a new Family Code (Book I of the Civil Code) that it
had been tasked by the IBP and the UP Law Center to prepare. In fact, some members
of the Committee were in favor of a no-fault divorce between the spouses after a
number of years of separation, legal or de-facto. Justice J.B.L. Reyes was then
requested to prepare a proposal for an action for dissolution of marriage and the effects
thereof based on two grounds: (a) five continuous years of separation between the
spouses, with or without a judicial decree of legal separation, and (b) whenever a
married person would have obtained a decree of absolute divorce in another country.
Actually, such a proposal is one for absolute divorce but called by another name. Later,
even the Civil Code Revision Committee took time to discuss the proposal of Justice
Reyes on this matter.

Subsequently, however, when the Civil Code Revision Committee and Family Law
Committee started holding joint meetings on the preparation of the draft of the New
Family Code, they agreed and formulated the definition of marriage as

"a special contract of permanent partnership between a man and a woman


entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and
family life. It is an inviolable social institution whose nature,
consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to
stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations
during the marriage within the limits provided by law."

With the above definition, and considering the Christian traditional concept of marriage
of the Filipino people as a permanent, inviolable, indissoluble social institution upon
which the family and society are founded, and also realizing the strong opposition that
any provision on absolute divorce would encounter from the Catholic Church and the
Catholic sector of our citizenry to whom the great majority of our people belong, the two
Committees in their joint meetings did not pursue the idea of absolute divorce and
instead opted for an action for judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage based on
grounds available in the Canon Law. It was thought that such an action would not only
be an acceptable alternative to divorce but would also solve the nagging problem of
church annulments of marriages on grounds not recognized by the civil law of the State.
Justice Reyes was thus requested to again prepare a draft of provisions on such action
for celebration of invalidity of marriage. Still later, to avoid the overlapping of provisions
on void marriages as found in the present Civil Code and those proposed by Justice
Reyes on judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage on grounds similar to the Canon
Law, the two Committees now working as a Joint Committee in the preparation of a
New Family Code decided to consolidate the present provisions on void marriages with
the proposals of Justice Reyes. The result was the inclusion of an additional kind of void
marriage in the enumeration of void marriages in the present Civil Code, to wit:

"(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to
understand the essential nature of marriage or was psychologically or
mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even
if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the celebration."

as well as the following implementing provisions:

"Art. 32. The absolute nullity of a marriage may be invoked or pleaded


only on the basis of a final judgment declaring the marriage void, without
prejudice to the provision of Article 34."

"Art. 33. The action or defense for the declaration of the absolute nullity of
a marriage shall not prescribe."

xxx xxx xxx

It is believed that many hopelessly broken marriages in our country today may already
dissolved or annulled on the grounds proposed by the Joint Committee on declaration of
nullity as well as annulment of marriages, thus rendering an absolute divorce law
unnecessary. In fact, during a conference with Father Gerald Healy of the Ateneo
University as well as another meeting with Archbishop Oscar Cruz of the Archdiocese of
Pampanga, the Joint Committee was informed that since Vatican II, the Catholic Church
has been declaring marriages null and void on the ground of "lack of due discretion" for
causes that, in other jurisdictions, would be clear grounds for divorce, like teen-age or
premature marriages; marriage to a man who, because of some personality disorder or
disturbance, cannot support a family; the foolish or ridiculous choice of a spouse by an
otherwise perfectly normal person; marriage to a woman who refuses to cohabit with
her husband or who refuses to have children. Bishop Cruz also informed the Committee
that they have found out in tribunal work that a lot of machismo among husbands are
manifestations of their sociopathic personality anomaly, like inflicting physical violence
upon their wives, constitutional indolence or laziness, drug dependence or addiction,
and psychological anomaly. . . . (Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, by incorporating what is now Article 36 into the Family Code, the Revision Committee
referred to above intended to add another ground to those already listed in the Civil Code as grounds
for nullifying a marriage, thus expanding or liberalizing the same. Inherent in the inclusion of the
provision on psychological incapacity was the understanding that every petition for declaration of
nullity based on it should be treated on a case-to-case basis; hence, the absence of a definition and
an enumeration of what constitutes psychological incapacity. Moreover, the Committee feared that
the giving of examples would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle of ejusdem
generis. But the law requires that the same be existing at the time of marriage although it be
manifested later.

Admittedly, the provision on psychological incapacity, just like any other provision of law, is open to
abuse. To prevent this, "the court shall take order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to
appear on behalf of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care
that evidence is not fabricated or suppressed." 2 Moreover, the judge, in interpreting the provision on
a case-to-case basis, must be guided by "experience, the findings of experts and researchers in
psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the civil
courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provisions was taken from Canon Law." 3

The constitutional and statutory provisions on the family 4 will remain the lodestar which our society
will hope to achieve ultimately. Therefore, the inclusion of Article 36 is not to be taken as an
abandonment of the ideal which we all cherish. If at all, it is a recognition of the reality that some
marriages, by reason of the incapacity of one of the contracting parties, fall short of this ideal; thus,
the parties are constrained to find a way of putting an end to their union through some legally-
accepted means.

Any criticism directed at the way that judges have interpreted the provision since its enactment as to
render it easier for unhappily-married couples to separate is addressed, not to the wisdom of the
lawmakers but to the manner by which some members of the Bench have implemented the provision.
These are not interchangeable, each being separate and distinct from the other.

Footnotes

1 Per Judge Enrique Garovillo.

2 Penned by Justice Jainal Rasul, concurred in by Justice Pedro Ramirez and Ramon
Mabutas, Jr.
3 Rollo, 37-42.

4 Rollo, 13-18.

5 Deliberations of the Family Code Revision Committee, July 26, 1986.

6 Deliberations of the Family Code Revision Committee, August 2, 1986.

7 Deliberations of the Family Code Revision Committee, August 9, 1986.

8 In her "Handbook on the Family Code."

9 Marriage in Canon Law, Delaware: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1986, 129-130.

C 1095 Sunt incapaces matrimonii contrahendi:

1. qui sufficiente rationis usu carent;

2. qui laborant gravi defectu discretionis iudicii circa iura et official matrimonialia
essentialia mutuo tradenda et acceptanda;

3. qui ob causas naturae psychicae obligationes matrimonii essentiales assumere non


valent.

10 Ibid., 131-132.

11 Handbook on the Family Code, First Edition, 1988.

ROMERO, J., concurring:

1 Written pursuant to the request of Assemblywoman Mercedes Cojuangco-Teodoro


during the March 23, 1985 joint meeting of the Family Law and Civil Code Revision
Committee at the UP Law Center for comments on P.B. 3149 (Pacificador Bill) on
Divorce, P.B. No. 1986 (Monfort and Collantes Bill) on Recognition of Church
Annulments of Marriages, P.B. No. 2347 (Sitoy Bill) on Additional Grounds for
Annulment of Marriage and Legal Separation and P.B. 1350 (Kalaw Bill) on Equal
Rights of Filipino Women which were pending before her Sub-Committee.

2 FAMILY CODE, Art. 48.

3 J.A. v. SEMPIO-DIY, HANDBOOK OF THE FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


37 (1988).

4 As quoted in the majority opinion.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 119190 January 16, 1997

CHI MING TSOI, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and GINA LAO-TSOI, respondents.

TORRES, JR., J.:

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

Who is to blame when a marriage fails?

This case was originally commenced by a distraught wife against her uncaring husband in the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (Branch 89) which decreed the annulment of the marriage on the
ground of psychological incapacity. Petitioner appealed the decision of the trial court to respondent
Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. CV No. 42758) which affirmed the Trial Court's decision November 29,
1994 and correspondingly denied the motion for reconsideration in a resolution dated February 14,
1995.

The statement of the case and of the facts made by the trial court and reproduced by the Court of
Appeals 1 its decision are as follows:

From the evidence adduced, the following acts were preponderantly established:

Sometime on May 22, 1988, the plaintiff married the defendant at the Manila Cathedral, . . .
Intramuros Manila, as evidenced by their Marriage Contract. (Exh. "A")

After the celebration of their marriage and wedding reception at the South Villa, Makati, they
went and proceeded to the house of defendant's mother.

There, they slept together on the same bed in the same room for the first night of their married
life.

It is the version of the plaintiff, that contrary to her expectations, that as newlyweds they were
supposed to enjoy making love, or having sexual intercourse, with each other, the defendant
just went to bed, slept on one side thereof, then turned his back and went to sleep . There was
no sexual intercourse between them during the first night. The same thing happened on the
second, third and fourth nights.
In an effort to have their honeymoon in a private place where they can enjoy together during
their first week as husband and wife, they went to Baguio City. But, they did so together with
her mother, an uncle, his mother and his nephew. They were all invited by the defendant to
join them. [T]hey stayed in Baguio City for four (4) days. But, during this period, there was no
sexual intercourse between them, since the defendant avoided her by taking a long walk
during siesta time or by just sleeping on a rocking chair located at the living room. They slept
together in the same room and on the same bed since May 22, 1988 until March 15, 1989. But
during this period, there was no attempt of sexual intercourse between them. [S]he claims, that
she did not: even see her husband's private parts nor did he see hers.

Because of this, they submitted themselves for medical examinations to Dr. Eufemio
Macalalag, a urologist at the Chinese General Hospital, on January 20, 1989.

The results of their physical examinations were that she is healthy, normal and still a virgin,
while that of her husband's examination was kept confidential up to this time. While no
medicine was prescribed for her, the doctor prescribed medications for her husband which was
also kept confidential. No treatment was given to her. For her husband, he was asked by the
doctor to return but he never did.

The plaintiff claims, that the defendant is impotent, a closet homosexual as he did not show his
penis. She said, that she had observed the defendant using an eyebrow pencil and sometimes
the cleansing cream of his mother. And that, according to her, the defendant married her, a
Filipino citizen, to acquire or maintain his residency status here in the country and to publicly
maintain the appearance of a normal man.

The plaintiff is not willing to reconcile with her husband.

On the other hand, it is the claim of the defendant that if their marriage shall be annulled by
reason of psychological incapacity, the fault lies with his wife.

But, he said that he does not want his marriage with his wife annulled for several reasons, viz:
(1) that he loves her very much; (2) that he has no defect on his part and he is physically and
psychologically capable; and, (3) since the relationship is still very young and if there is any
differences between the two of them, it can still be reconciled and that, according to him, if
either one of them has some incapabilities, there is no certainty that this will not be cured. He
further claims, that if there is any defect, it can be cured by the intervention of medical
technology or science.

The defendant admitted that since their marriage on May 22, 1988, until their separation on
March 15, 1989, there was no sexual contact between them. But, the reason for this, according
to the defendant, was that everytime he wants to have sexual intercourse with his wife, she
always avoided him and whenever he caresses her private parts, she always removed his
hands. The defendant claims, that he forced his wife to have sex with him only once but he did
not continue because she was shaking and she did not like it. So he stopped.

There are two (2) reasons, according to the defendant , why the plaintiff filed this case against
him, and these are: (1) that she is afraid that she will be forced to return the pieces of jewelry
of his mother, and, (2) that her husband, the defendant, will consummate their marriage.

The defendant insisted that their marriage will remain valid because they are still very young
and there is still a chance to overcome their differences.
The defendant submitted himself to a physical examination. His penis was examined by Dr.
Sergio Alteza, Jr., for the purpose of finding out whether he is impotent . As a result thereof,
Dr. Alteza submitted his Doctor's Medical Report. (Exh. "2"). It is stated there, that there is no
evidence of impotency (Exh. "2-B"), and he is capable of erection. (Exh. "2-C")

The doctor said, that he asked the defendant to masturbate to find out whether or not he has
an erection and he found out that from the original size of two (2) inches, or five (5)
centimeters, the penis of the defendant lengthened by one (1) inch and one centimeter. Dr.
Alteza said, that the defendant had only a soft erection which is why his penis is not in its full
length. But, still is capable of further erection, in that with his soft erection, the defendant is
capable of having sexual intercourse with a woman.

In open Court, the Trial Prosecutor manifested that there is no collusion between the parties
and that the evidence is not fabricated." 2

After trial, the court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads:

ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered declaring as VOID the marriage entered into by
the plaintiff with the defendant on May 22, 1988 at the Manila Cathedral, Basilica of the
Immaculate Conception, Intramuros, Manila, before the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Melencio de Vera.
Without costs. Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City.
Let another copy be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Manila.

SO ORDERED.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision.

Hence, the instant petition.

Petitioner alleges that the respondent Court of Appeals erred:

in affirming the conclusions of the lower court that there was no sexual intercourse between
the parties without making any findings of fact.

II

in holding that the refusal of private respondent to have sexual communion with petitioner is a
psychological incapacity inasmuch as proof thereof is totally absent.

III

in holding that the alleged refusal of both the petitioner and the private respondent to have sex
with each other constitutes psychological incapacity of both.

IV

in affirming the annulment of the marriage between the parties decreed by the lower court
without fully satisfying itself that there was no collusion between them.
We find the petition to be bereft of merit.

Petitioner contends that being the plaintiff in Civil Case No. Q-89-3141, private respondent has the
burden of proving the allegations in her complaint; that since there was no independent evidence to
prove the alleged non-coitus between the parties, there remains no other basis for the court's
conclusion except the admission of petitioner; that public policy should aid acts intended to validate
marriage and should retard acts intended to invalidate them; that the conclusion drawn by the trial
court on the admissions and confessions of the parties in their pleadings and in the course of the trial
is misplaced since it could have been a product of collusion; and that in actions for annulment of
marriage, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved. 3

Section 1, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court reads:

Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or


otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may, on
motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of
marriage or for legal separation the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be
proved.

The foregoing provision pertains to a judgment on the pleadings. What said provision seeks to
prevent is annulment of marriage without trial. The assailed decision was not based on such a
judgment on the pleadings. When private respondent testified under oath before the trial court and
was cross-examined by oath before the trial court and was cross-examined by the adverse party, she
thereby presented evidence in form of a testimony. After such evidence was presented, it be came
incumbent upon petitioner to present his side. He admitted that since their marriage on May 22, 1988,
until their separation on March 15, 1989, there was no sexual intercourse between them.

To prevent collusion between the parties is the reason why, as stated by the petitioner, the Civil Code
provides that no judgment annulling a marriage shall be promulgated upon a stipulation of facts or by
confession of judgment (Arts. 88 and 101[par. 2]) and the Rules of Court prohibit such annulment
without trial (Sec. 1, Rule 19).

The case has reached this Court because petitioner does not want their marriage to be annulled. This
only shows that there is no collusion between the parties. When petitioner admitted that he and his
wife (private respondent) have never had sexual contact with each other, he must have been only
telling the truth. We are reproducing the relevant portion of the challenged resolution denying
petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration, penned with magisterial lucidity by Associate Justice Minerva
Gonzaga-Reyes, viz:

The judgment of the trial court which was affirmed by this Court is not based on a stipulation of
facts. The issue of whether or not the appellant is psychologically incapacitated to discharge a
basic marital obligation was resolved upon a review of both the documentary and testimonial
evidence on record. Appellant admitted that he did not have sexual relations with his wife after
almost ten months of cohabitation, and it appears that he is not suffering from any physical
disability. Such abnormal reluctance or unwillingness to consummate his marriage is strongly
indicative of a serious personality disorder which to the mind of this Court clearly demonstrates
an 'utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage' within the
meaning of Article 36 of the Family Code (See Santos vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 112019,
January 4, 1995). 4

Petitioner further contends that respondent court erred in holding that the alleged refusal of both the
petitioner and the private respondent to have sex with each other constitutes psychological incapacity
of both. He points out as error the failure of the trial court to make "a categorical finding about the
alleged psychological incapacity and an in-depth analysis of the reasons for such refusal which may
not be necessarily due to physchological disorders" because there might have been other reasons,
i.e., physical disorders, such as aches, pains or other discomforts, why private respondent
would not want to have sexual intercourse from May 22, 1988 to March 15, 1989, in a short span of
10 months.

First, it must be stated that neither the trial court nor the respondent court made a finding on who
between petitioner and private respondent refuses to have sexual contact with the other. The fact
remains, however, that there has never been coitus between them. At any rate, since the action to
declare the marriage void may be filed by either party, i.e., even the psychologically incapacitated, the
question of who refuses to have sex with the other becomes immaterial.

Petitioner claims that there is no independent evidence on record to show that any of the parties is
suffering from phychological incapacity. Petitioner also claims that he wanted to have sex with private
respondent; that the reason for private respondent's refusal may not be psychological but physical
disorder as stated above.

We do not agree. Assuming it to be so, petitioner could have discussed with private respondent or
asked her what is ailing her, and why she balks and avoids him everytime he wanted to have sexual
intercourse with her. He never did. At least, there is nothing in the record to show that he had tried to
find out or discover what the problem with his wife could be. What he presented in evidence is his
doctor's Medical Report that there is no evidence of his impotency and he is capable of
erection. 5 Since it is petitioner's claim that the reason is not psychological but perhaps physical
disorder on the part of private respondent, it became incumbent upon him to prove such a claim.

If a spouse, although physically capable but simply refuses to perform his or her essential
marriage obligations, and the refusal is senseless and constant, Catholic marriage tribunals
attribute the causes to psychological incapacity than to stubborn refusal. Senseless and
protracted refusal is equivalent to psychological incapacity. Thus, the prolonged refusal of a
spouse to have sexual intercourse with his or her spouse is considered a sign of psychological
incapacity. 6

Evidently, one of the essential marital obligations under the Family Code is "To procreate children
based on the universal principle that procreation of children through sexual cooperation is the basic
end of marriage." Constant non- fulfillment of this obligation will finally destroy the integrity or
wholeness of the marriage. In the case at bar, the senseless and protracted refusal of one of the
parties to fulfill the above marital obligation is equivalent to psychological incapacity.

As aptly stated by the respondent court,

An examination of the evidence convinces Us that the husband's plea that the wife did not
want carnal intercourse with him does not inspire belief. Since he was not physically impotent,
but he refrained from sexual intercourse during the entire time (from May 22, 1988 to March
15, 1989) that he occupied the same bed with his wife, purely out of symphaty for her feelings,
he deserves to be doubted for not having asserted his right seven though she balked
(Tompkins vs. Tompkins, 111 Atl. 599, cited in I Paras, Civil Code, at p. 330). Besides, if it
were true that it is the wife was suffering from incapacity, the fact that defendant did not go to
court and seek the declaration of nullity weakens his claim. This case was instituted by the wife
whose normal expectations of her marriage were frustrated by her husband's inadequacy.
Considering the innate modesty of the Filipino woman, it is hard to believe that she would
expose her private life to public scrutiny and fabricate testimony against her husband if it were
not necessary to put her life in order and put to rest her marital status.

We are not impressed by defendant's claim that what the evidence proved is the unwillingness
or lack of intention to perform the sexual act, which is not phychological incapacity, and which
can be achieved "through proper motivation." After almost ten months of cohabitation, the
admission that the husband is reluctant or unwilling to perform the sexual act with his wife
whom he professes to love very dearly, and who has not posed any insurmountable resistance
to his alleged approaches, is indicative of a hopeless situation, and of a serious personality
disorder that constitutes psychological incapacity to discharge the basic marital covenants
within the contemplation of the Family Code. 7

While the law provides that the husband and the wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual
love, respect and fidelity (Art. 68, Family Code), the sanction therefor is actually the "spontaneous,
mutual affection between husband and wife and not any legal mandate or court order" (Cuaderno vs.
Cuaderno 120 Phil. 1298). Love is useless unless it is shared with another. Indeed, no man is an
island, the cruelest act of a partner in marriage is to say "I could not have cared less." This is so
because an ungiven self is an unfulfilled self. The egoist has nothing but himself. In the natural order,
it is sexual intimacy which brings spouses wholeness and oneness. Sexual intimacy is a gift and a
participation in the mystery of creation. It is a function which enlivens the hope of procreation and
ensures the continuation of family relations.

It appears that there is absence of empathy between petitioner and private respondent. That is a
shared feeling which between husband and wife must be experienced not only by having
spontaneous sexual intimacy but a deep sense of spiritual communion. Marital union is a two-way
process. An expressive interest in each other's feelings at a time it is needed by the other can go a
long way in deepening the marital relationship. Marriage is definitely not for children but for two
consenting adults who view the relationship with love amor gignit amorem, respect, sacrifice and a
continuing commitment to compromise, conscious of its value as a sublime social institution.

This Court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found themselves trapped
in its mire of unfulfilled vows and unconsummated marital obligations, can do no less but sustain the
studied judgment of respondent appellate court.

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

SO ORDERED.

Regalado, Romero, Puno and Mendoza, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 108763 February 13, 1997

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and RORIDEL OLAVIANO MOLINA, respondents.

PANGANIBAN, J.:

The Family Code of the Philippines provides an entirely new ground (in addition to those enumerated
in the Civil Code) to assail the validity of a marriage, namely, "psychological incapacity." Since the
Code's effectivity, our courts have been swamped with various petitions to declare marriages void
based on this ground. Although this Court had interpreted the meaning of psychological incapacity in
the recent case of Santos vs. Court of Appeals, still many judges and lawyers find difficulty in
applying said novel provision in specific cases. In the present case and in the context of the herein
assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals, the Solicitor General has labelled exaggerated to be
sure but nonetheless expressive of his frustration Article 36 as the "most liberal divorce procedure
in the world." Hence, this Court in addition to resolving the present case, finds the need to lay down
specific guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code.
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 challenging the January 25, 1993
Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals 2 in CA-G.R. CV No. 34858 affirming in toto the May 14, 1991
decision of the Regional Trial Court of La Trinidad, 3 Benguet, which declared the marriage of
respondent Roridel Olaviano Molina to Reynaldo Molina void ab initio, on the ground of
"psychological incapacity" under Article 36 of the Family Code.

The Facts

This case was commenced on August 16, 1990 with the filing by respondent Roridel O. Molina of a
verified petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage to Reynaldo Molina. Essentially, the petition
alleged that Roridel and Reynaldo were married on April 14, 1985 at the San Agustin Church 4 in
Manila; that a son, Andre O. Molina was born; that after a year of marriage, Reynaldo showed signs
of "immaturity and irresponsibility" as a husband and a father since he preferred to spend more time
with his peers and friends on whom he squandered his money; that he depended on his parents for
aid and assistance, and was never honest with his wife in regard to their finances, resulting in
frequent quarrels between them; that sometime in February 1986, Reynaldo was relieved of his job in
Manila, and since then Roridel had been the sole breadwinner of the family; that in October 1986 the
couple had a very intense quarrel, as a result of which their relationship was estranged; that in March
1987, Roridel resigned from her job in Manila and went to live with her parents in Baguio City; that a
few weeks later, Reynaldo left Roridel and their child, and had since then abandoned them; that
Reynaldo had thus shown that he was psychologically incapable of complying with essential marital
obligations and was a highly immature and habitually quarrel some individual who thought of himself
as a king to be served; and that it would be to the couple's best interest to have their marriage
declared null and void in order to free them from what appeared to be an incompatible marriage from
the start.

In his Answer filed on August 28, 1989, Reynaldo admitted that he and Roridel could no longer live
together as husband and wife, but contended that their misunderstandings and frequent quarrels
were due to (1) Roridel's strange behavior of insisting on maintaining her group of friends even after
their marriage; (2) Roridel's refusal to perform some of her marital duties such as cooking meals; and
(3) Roridel's failure to run the household and handle their finances.

During the pre-trial on October 17, 1990, the following were stipulated:

1. That the parties herein were legally married on April 14, 1985 at the Church of St.
Augustine, Manila;

2. That out of their marriage, a child named Albert Andre Olaviano Molina was born on
July 29, 1986;

3. That the parties are separated-in-fact for more than three years;

4. That petitioner is not asking support for her and her child;

5. That the respondent is not asking for damages;

6. That the common child of the parties is in the custody of the petitioner wife.

Evidence for herein respondent wife consisted of her own testimony and that of her friends
Rosemarie Ventura and Maria Leonora Padilla as well as of Ruth G. Lalas, a social worker, and of Dr.
Teresita Hidalgo-Sison, a psychiatrist of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. She also
submitted documents marked as Exhibits "A" to "E-1." Reynaldo did not present any evidence as he
appeared only during the pre-trial conference.

On May 14, 1991, the trial court rendered judgment declaring the marriage void. The appeal of
petitioner was denied by the Court of Appeals which affirmed in toto the RTC's decision. Hence, the
present recourse.

The Issue

In his petition, the Solicitor General insists that "the Court of Appeals made an erroneous and
incorrect interpretation of the phrase 'psychological incapacity' (as provided under Art. 36 of the
Family Code) and made an incorrect application thereof to the facts of the case," adding that the
appealed Decision tended "to establish in effect the most liberal divorce procedure in the world which
is anathema to our culture."

In denying the Solicitor General's appeal, the respondent Court relied 5 heavily on the trial court's
findings "that the marriage between the parties broke up because of their opposing and conflicting
personalities." Then, it added it sown opinion that "the Civil Code Revision Committee (hereinafter
referred to as Committee) intended to liberalize the application of our civil laws on personal and family
rights. . . ." It concluded that:

As ground for annulment of marriage, We view psychologically incapacity as a broad


range of mental and behavioral conduct on the part of one spouse indicative of how he
or she regards the marital union, his or her personal relationship with the other spouse,
as well as his or her conduct in the long haul for the attainment of the principal
objectives of marriage. If said conduct, observed and considered as a whole, tends to
cause the union to self-destruct because it defeats the very objectives of marriage, then
there is enough reason to leave the spouses to their individual fates.

In the case at bar, We find that the trial judge committed no indiscretion in analyzing
and deciding the instant case, as it did, hence, We find no cogent reason to disturb the
findings and conclusions thus made.

Respondent, in her Memorandum, adopts these discussions of the Court of Appeals.

The petitioner, on the other hand, argues that "opposing and conflicting personalities" is not
equivalent to psychological incapacity, explaining that such ground "is not simply the neglect by the
parties to the marriage of their responsibilities and duties, but a defect in their psychological nature
which renders them incapable of performing such marital responsibilities and duties."

The Court's Ruling

The petition is meritorious.

In Leouel Santos vs. Court of Appeals 6 this Court, speaking thru Mr. Justice Jose C. Vitug, ruled that
"psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (nor physical) incapacity . . . and that
(t)here is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of
'psychological incapacity' to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of
an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This psychologic
condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated." Citing Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former
presiding judge of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, 7 Justice
Vitug wrote that "the psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical
antecedence, and (c) incurability."

On the other hand, in the present case, there is no clear showing to us that the psychological defect
spoken of is an incapacity. It appears to us to be more of a "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or
"neglect" in the performance of some marital obligations. Mere showing of "irreconciliable differences"
and "conflicting personalities" in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity. It is not enough to
prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential
that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological (nor physical)
illness.

The evidence adduced by respondent merely showed that she and her husband could nor get along
with each other. There had been no showing of the gravity of the problem; neither its juridical
antecedence nor its incurability. The expert testimony of Dr. Sison showed no incurable psychiatric
disorder but only incompatibility, not psychological incapacity. Dr. Sison testified: 8

COURT

Q It is therefore the recommendation of the psychiatrist based on your


findings that it is better for the Court to annul (sic) the marriage?

A Yes, Your Honor.

Q There is no hope for the marriage?

A There is no hope, the man is also living with another woman.

Q Is it also the stand of the psychiatrist that the parties are psychologically
unfit for each other but they are psychologically fit with other parties?

A Yes, Your Honor.

Q Neither are they psychologically unfit for their professions?

A Yes, Your Honor.

The Court has no more questions.

In the case of Reynaldo, there is no showing that his alleged personality traits were constitutive of
psychological incapacity existing at the time of marriage celebration. While some effort was made to
prove that there was a failure to fulfill pre-nuptial impressions of "thoughtfulness and gentleness" on
Reynaldo's part of being "conservative, homely and intelligent" on the part of Roridel, such failure of
expectation is nor indicative of antecedent psychological incapacity. If at all, it merely shows love's
temporary blindness to the faults and blemishes of the beloved.

During its deliberations, the Court decided to go beyond merely ruling on the facts of this case vis-a-
visexisting law and jurisprudence. In view of the novelty of Art. 36 of the Family Code and the
difficulty experienced by many trial courts interpreting and applying it, the Court decided to invite
two amici curiae, namely, the Most Reverend Oscar V. Cruz, 9 Vicar Judicial (Presiding Judge) of the
National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, and Justice Ricardo
C. Puno, 10 a member of the Family Code Revision Committee. The Court takes this occasion to
thank these friends of the Court for their informative and interesting discussions during the oral
argument on December 3, 1996, which they followed up with written memoranda.

From their submissions and the Court's own deliberations, the following guidelines in the
interpretation and application of Art. 36 of the Family Code are hereby handed down for the guidance
of the bench and the bar:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should
be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and
nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage
and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, 11 recognizing it
"as the foundation of the nation." It decrees marriage as legally "inviolable," thereby protecting it from
dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be "protected" by the state.

The Family Code 12 echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes
the permanence, inviolability and solidarity

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b)
alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision.
Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological not physical.
although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court
that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or physically ill to such an extent that the person could
not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid
assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the
application of the provision under the principle ofejusdem generis, 13 nevertheless such root cause
must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature explained. Expert evidence
may be given qualified psychiatrist and clinical psychologists.

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the marriage. The
evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their "I do's." The
manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have
attached at such moment, or prior thereto.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily
absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the
assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise
of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses
of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to
procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the
essential obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes,
occasional emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as
downright incapacity or inability, nor a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words,
there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the
personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby
complying with the obligations essential to marriage.

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family
Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in
regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in
the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. It is clear
that Article 36 was taken by the Family Code Revision Committee from Canon 1095 of the New Code
of Canon Law, which became effective in 1983 and which provides:

The following are incapable of contracting marriage: Those who are unable to assume
the essential obligations of marriage due to causes of psychological nature. 14

Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code is to harmonize our civil laws with
the religious faith of our people, it stands to reason that to achieve such harmonization, great
persuasive weight should be given to decision of such appellate tribunal. Ideally subject to our law
on evidence what is decreed as canonically invalid should also be decreed civilly void.

This is one instance where, in view of the evident source and purpose of the Family Code provision,
contemporaneous religious interpretation is to be given persuasive effect. Here, the State and the
Church while remaining independent, separate and apart from each other shall walk together in
synodal cadence towards the same goal of protecting and cherishing marriage and the family as the
inviolable base of the nation.

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as
counsel for the state. No decision shall he handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a
certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly staring therein his reasons for his agreement
or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting
attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is
deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent
function of the defensor vinculicontemplated under Canon 1095.

In the instant case and applying Leouel Santos, we have already ruled to grant the petition. Such
ruling becomes even more cogent with the use of the foregoing guidelines.

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

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., and Torres, Jr., JJ.,
concur.

Regalado, Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concurs in the result.

Separate Opinions
PADILLA, J., concuring opinion:

I concur in the result of the decision penned by Mr. Justice Panganiban but only because of the
peculiar facts of the case. As to whether or not the psychological incapacity exists in a given case
calling for annulment of a marriage, depends crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts
of the case. In Leouel Santos v. Court of Appeals and Julia Rosario-Bedia Santos, G.R. No. 112019,
4 January 1995, 240 SCRA 20-36, I maintained, and I still maintain, that there was psychological
incapacity on the part of the wife to discharge the duties of a wife in a valid marriage. The facts of the
present case, after an indepth study, do not support a similar conclusion. Obviously, each case must
be judged, not on the basis of a prioriassumptions, predilections or generalizations but according to
its own facts. In the field of psychological incapacity as a ground for annulment of marriage, it is trite
to say that no case is on "all fours" with another case. The trial judge must take pains in examining
the actual millieu and the appellate court must, as much as possible, avoid substituting its own
judgment for that of the trial court.

ROMERO, J., separate opinion:

The majority opinion, overturning that of the Court of Appeals which affirmed the Regional Trial Court
ruling. upheld petitioner Solicitor General's position that "opposing and conflicting personalities" is not
equivalent to psychological incapacity, for the latter "is not simply the neglect by the parties to the
marriage of their responsibilities and duties, but a defect in their Psychological nature which renders
them incapable of performing such marital responsibilities and duties.

In the present case, the alleged personality traits of Reynaldo, the husband, did not constitute so
much "psychological incapacity" as a "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the
performance of some marital obligations. "It is not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their
responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to
be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological (not physical) illness."

I would add that neither should the incapacity be the result of mental illness. For if it were due to
insanity or defects in the mental faculties short of insanity, there is a resultant defect of vice of
consent, thus rendering the marriage annulable under Art. 45 of the Family Code.

That the intent of the members of the U.P. Law Center's Civil Code Revision Committee was to
exclude mental inability to understand the essential nature of marriage and focus strictly on
psychological incapacity is demonstrated in the way the provision in question underwent revisions.

At the Committee meeting of July 26, 1986, the draft provision read:

(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature of
marriage or was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential
marital obligations, even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the
celebration.

The twists and turns which the ensuing discussion took finally produced the following revised
provision even before the session was over:
(7) That contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically
incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even if such lack or
incapacity becomes manifest after the celebration.

Noticeably, the immediately preceding formulation above has dropped any reference to "wanting in
the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature or marriage" and to
"mentally incapacitated." It was explained that these phrases refer to "defects in the mental faculties
vitiating consent, which is not the idea . . . but lack of appreciation of one's marital obligation." There
being a defect in consent, "it is clear that it should be a ground for voidable marriage because there is
the appearance of consent and it is capable of convalidation for the simple reason that there are lucid
intervals and there are sanity is curable. . . . Psychological incapacity does not refer to mental
faculties and has nothing to do with consent; it refers to obligations attendant to
marriage." 1

My own position as a member of the Committee then was that psychological incapacity is, in a sense,
insanity of a lesser degree.

As to the proposal of Justice Caguioa to use the term "psychological or mental impotence,"
Archbishop Oscar Cruz opined in he earlier February 9, 1984 session that this term "is an invention of
some churchmen who are moralists but not canonists, that is why it is considered a weak phrase." He
said that the Code of Canon Law would rather express it as "psychological or mental incapacity to
discharge. . . ." Justice Ricardo C. Puno opined that sometimes a person may be psychologically
impotent with one but not with another.

One of the guidelines enumerated in the majority opinion for the interpretation and application of Art.
36 is: "Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily
absolutely against everyone of the same sex."

The Committee, through Prof. Araceli T. Barrera, considered the inclusion of the phrase" and is
incurable" but Prof. Esteban B. Bautista commented that this would give rise to the question of how
they will determine curability and Justice Caguioa agreed that it would be more problematic. Yet the
possibility that one may be cured after the psychological incapacity becomes manifest after the
marriage was not ruled out by Justice Puno and Justice Alice Sempio-Diy. Justice Caguioa suggested
that the remedy was to allow the afflicted spouse to remarry.

For clarity, the Committee classified the bases for determining void marriages, viz:

1. lack of one or more of the essential requisites of marriage as contract;

2. reasons of public policy;

3. special cases and special situations.

The ground of psychological incapacity was subsumed under "special cases and special
situations," hence its special treatment in Art. 36 in the Family Code as finally enacted.

Nowhere in the Civil Code provisions on Marriage is there a ground for avoiding or annulling
marriages that even comes close to being psychological in nature.

Where consent is vitiated due to circumstances existing at the time of the marriage, such marriage
which stands valid until annulled is capable of ratification or convalidation.
On the other hand, for reasons of public policy or lack of essential requisites, some marriages are
void from the beginning.

With the revision of Book I of the Civil Code, particularly the provisions on Marriage, the drafters, now
open to fresh winds of change in keeping with the more permissive mores and practices of the time,
took a leaf from the relatively liberal provisions of Canon Law.

Canon 1095 which states, inter alia, that the following persons are incapable of contracting marriage:
"3. (those) who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage" provided the model for what is now Art. 36 of the Family Code: "A marriage
contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to
comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such
incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.

It bears stressing that unlike in Civil Law, Canon Law recognizes only two types of marriages with
respect to their validity: valid and void. Civil Law, however, recognizes an intermediate state, the
voidable or annullable marriages. When the Ecclesiastical Tribunal "annuls" a marriage, it actually
declares the marriage null and void, i.e., it never really existed in the first place, for a valid
sacramental marriage can never be dissolved. Hence, a properly performed and consummated
marriage between two living Roman Catholics can only be nullified by the formal annulment process
which entails a full tribunal procedure with a Court selection and a formal hearing.

Such so-called church "annulments" are not recognized by Civil Law as severing the marriage ties as
to capacitate the parties to enter lawfully into another marriage. The grounds for nullifying civil
marriage, not being congruent with those laid down by Canon Law, the former being more strict, quite
a number of married couples have found themselves in limbo freed from the marriage bonds in the
eyes of the Catholic Church but yet unable to contract a valid civil marriage under state laws.
Heedless of civil law sanctions, some persons contract new marriages or enter into live-in
relationships.

It was precisely to provide a satisfactory solution to such anomalous situations that the Civil Law
Revision Committee decided to engraft the Canon Law concept of psychological incapacity into the
Family Code and classified the same as a ground for declaring marriages void ab initio or totally in
existent from the beginning.

A brief historical note on the Old Canon Law (1917). This Old Code, while it did not provide directly
for psychological incapacity, in effect recognized the same indirectly from a combination of three old
canons: "Canon #1081 required persons to 'be capable according to law' in order to give valid
consent; Canon #1082 required that persons 'be at least not ignorant' of the major elements required
in marriage; and Canon #1087 (the force and fear category) required that internal and external
freedom be present in order for consent to be valid. This line of interpretation produced two distinct
but related grounds for annulment, called 'lack of due discretion' and 'lack of due competence.' Lack
of due discretion means that the person did not have the ability to give valid consent at the time of the
wedding and therefore the union is invalid. Lack of due competence means that the person
was incapable of carrying out the obligations of the promise he or she made during the wedding
ceremony.

"Favorable annulment decisions by the Roman Rota in the 1950s and 1960s involving sexual
disorders such as homosexuality and nymphomania laid the foundation for a broader approach to the
kind of proof necessary for psychological grounds for annulment. The Rota had reasoned for the first
time in several cases that the capacity to give valid consent at the time of marriage was probably not
present in persons who had displayed such problems shortly after the marriage. The nature of this
change was nothing short of revolutionary. Once the Rota itself had demonstrated a cautious
willingness to use this kind of hindsight, the way was paved for what came after 1970. Diocesan
Tribunals began to accept proof of serious psychological problems that manifested themselves
shortly after the ceremony as proof of an inability to give valid consent at the time of the ceremony.

Furthermore, and equally significant, the professional opinion of a psychological expert became
increasingly important in such cases. Data about the person's entire life, both before and after the
ceremony, were presented to these experts and they were asked to give professional opinions about
a party's mental at the time of the wedding. These opinions were rarely challenged and tended to be
accepted as decisive evidence of lack of valid consent.

The Church took pains to point out that its new openness in this area did not amount to the addition of
new grounds for annulment, but rather was an accommodation by the Church to the advances made
in psychology during the past decades. There was now the expertise to provide the all-important
connecting link between a marriage breakdown and premarital causes.

During the 1970s, the Church broadened its whole idea of marriage from that of a legal contract to
that of a covenant. The result of this was that it could no longer be assumed in annulment cases that
a person who could intellectually understand the concept of marriage could necessarily give valid
consent to marry. The ability to both grasp and assume the real obligations of a mature, lifelong
commitment are now considered a necessary prerequisite to valid matrimonial consent. 2

Rotal decisions continued applying the concept of incipient psychological incapacity, "not only to
sexual anomalies but to all kinds of personality disorders that incapacitate a spouse or both spouses
from assuming or carrying out the essential obligations of marriage. For marriage . . . is not merely
cohabitation or the right of the spouses to each others' body for heterosexual acts, but is, in its
totality, the right to the community of the whole of life, i.e., the right to a developing. lifelong
relationship. Rotal decisions since 1973 have refined the meaning of psychological or psychic
capacity for marriage as presupposing the development of an adult personality; as meaning the
capacity of the spouses to give themselves to each other and to accept the other as a distinct person;
that the spouses must be 'other oriented' since the obligations of marriage are rooted in a self-giving
love; and that the spouses must have the capacity for interpersonal relationship because marriage is
more than just a physical reality but involves a true intertwining of personalities. The fulfillment of the
obligations of marriage depends. according to Church decisions, on the strength of this interpersonal
relationship. A serious incapacity for interpersonal sharing and support is held to impair the
relationship and consequently, the ability to fulfill the essential marital obligations. The marital
capacity of one spouse is not considered in isolation but in reference to the fundamental relationship
to the other spouse. 3

Fr. Green, in an article in Catholic Mind, lists six elements necessary to the mature marital
relationship:

The courts consider the following elements crucial to the marital commitment: (1) a
permanent and faithful commitment to the marriage partner; (2) openness to children
and partner; (3) stability; (4) emotional maturity; (5) financial responsibility; (6) an ability
to cope with the ordinary stresses and strains of marriage, etc.

Fr. Green goes on to speak about some of the psychological conditions that might lead
to the failure of a marriage:

At stake is a type of constitutional impairment precluding conjugal communion even with


the best intentions of the parties. Among the psychic factors possibly giving rise to his or
her inability to fulfill marital obligations are the following: (1) antisocial personality with
its fundamental lack of loyalty to persons or sense of moral values; (2) hyperesthesia,
where the individual has no real freedom of sexual choice; (3) the inadequate
personality where personal responses consistently fallshort of reasonable expectations.

xxx xxx xxx

The psychological grounds are the best approach for anyone who doubts whether he or
she has a case for an annulment on any other terms. A situation that does not fit into
any of the more traditional categories often fits very easily into the psychological
category.

As new as the psychological grounds are, experts are already detecting a shift in their
use. Whereas originally the emphasis was on the parties' inability to exercise proper
judgment at the time of the marriage (lack of due discretion), recent cases seem to be
concentrating on the parties' to assume or carry out their responsibilities an obligations
as promised (lack of due competence). An advantage to using the ground of lack of due
competence is that the at the time the marriage was entered into civil divorce and
breakup of the family almost is of someone's failure out marital responsibilities as
promised at the time the marriage was entered into. 4

In the instant case, "opposing and conflicting personalities" of the spouses were not considered
equivalent to psychological incapacity. As well in Santos v. Court of Appeals cited in the ponencia,
the Court held that the failure of the wife to return home from the U.S. or to communicate with her
husband for more then five years is not proof of her psychological incapacity as to render the
marriage a nullity. 5 Therefore, Art. 36 is inapplicable and the marriages remain valid and subsisting.

However in the recent case of Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of Appeals, 6 this Court upheld both the
Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals in declaring the presence of psychological incapacity
on the part of the husband. Said petitioner husband, after ten (10) months' sleeping with his wife
never had coitus with her, a fact he did not deny but he alleged that it was due to the physical
disorder of his wife which, however, he failed to prove. Goaded by the indifference and stubborn
refusal of her husband to fulfill a basic marital obligation described as "to procreate children based on
the universal principle that procreation of children through sexual cooperation is the basic end of
marriage," the wife brought the action in the lower court to declare the marriage null.

The Court, quoting Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Marriage
Tribunal of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (Branch I) on Psychological incapacity concluded:

If a spouse, although physically capable but simply refuses to perform his or her
essential marriage obligations, and the refusal is senseless and constant, Catholic
marriage tribunals attribute the causes to psychological incapacity than to stubborn
refusal. Senseless and protracted refusal is equivalent to psychological incapacity.
Thus, the prolonged refusal of a spouse to have sexual intercourse with his or her
spouse is considered a sign of psychological incapacity.

We declared:

This Court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found themselves trapped
in its mire of unfulfilled vows and unconsummated marital obligations, can do no less but sustain the
studied judgment of respondent appellate court.
1 concur with the majority opinion that the herein marriage remains valid and subsisting absent
psychological incapacity (under Art. 36 of the Family Code) on the part of either or both of the
spouses.

VITUG, J., concurring:

I fully concur with my esteemed 'colleague Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban in his ponencia, and I
find to be most helpful the guidelines that he prepared for the bench and the bar in the proper
appreciation of Article 36 of Executive Order No. 209 ("The Family Code of the Philippines"). The
term "psychological incapacity" was neither defined nor exemplified by the Family Code. Thus

Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of
marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization.

The Revision Committee, constituted under the auspices of the U.P. Law Center, which drafted
the Code explained:

(T)he Committee would like the judge to interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis,
guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological
disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the civil
courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provision was taken from Canon Law. 1

Article 36 of the Family Code was concededly taken from Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon
Law

Canon 1095. (The following persons) are incapable of contracting marriage; (those)

1. who lack sufficient use of reason;

2. who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning essential


matrimonial rights and duties, to be given and accepted mutually;

3. who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage

that should give that much value to Canon Law jurisprudence as an aid to the interpretation
and construction of the statutory enactment. 2

The principles in the proper application of the law teach us that the several provisions of a Code must
be read like a congruent whole. Thus, in determining the import of "psychological incapacity" under
Article 36, one must also read it along with, albeit to be taken as distinct from, the other grounds
enumerated in the Code, like Articles 35, 37, 38 and 41 that would likewise, but for distinct reasons,
render the marriage merely voidable, or Article 55 that could justify a petition for legal separation.
Care must be observed so that these various circumstances are not applied so indiscriminately as if
the law were indifferent on the matter.

I would wish to reiterate the Court's' statement in Santos vs. Court of Appeals; 3 viz:
(T)he use of the phrase "psychological incapacity" under Article 36 of the Code has not
been meant to comprehend all such possible cases of psychoses as, likewise
mentioned by some ecclesiastical authorities, extremely low intelligence, immaturity,
and like circumstances. . . Article 36 of the Family Code cannot be taken and construed
independently of, but must stand in conjunction with, existing precepts in our law on
marriage. Thus correlated, "psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a
mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic
marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to
the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their
mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help
and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to
confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of
personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability of the
spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article
54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the judicial
declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be "legitimate."

The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a
party being of unsound mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism,
homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant to
Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or
homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become mere grounds for
legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions of the Code,
however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances
being themselves, depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of
psychological
incapacity. 4

In fine, the term "psychological incapacity," to be a ground for then nullity of marriage under Article 36
of the Family Code, must be able to pass the following tests; viz:

First, the incapacity must be psychological or mental, not physical, in nature;

Second, the psychological incapacity must relate to the inability, not mere refusal, to understand,
assume end discharge the basic marital obligations of living together, observing love, respect and
fidelity and rendering mutual help and support;

Third, the psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is contracted although its overt
manifestations and the marriage may occur only thereafter; and

Fourth, the mental disorder must be grave or serious and incurable.

It may well be that the Family Code Revision Committee has envisioned Article 36, as not a few
observers would suspect, as another form of absolute divorce or, as still others would also put it, to
be a alternative to divorce; however, the fact still remains that the language of the law has failed to
carry out, even if true, any such intendment. It might have indeed turned out for the better, if it were
otherwise, there could be good reasons to doubt the constitutionality of the measure. The
fundamental law itself, no less, has laid down in terse language its unequivocal command on how the
State should regard marriage and the family, thus

Section 2, Article XV:


Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and
shall be protected by the State.

Section 12, Article II:

Sec. 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen
the family as a basic autonomous social institution . . . .

Section 1, Article XV:

Sec. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation.
Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.
(The 1987 Constitution)

The case of Marcelino vs. Cruz, 121 SCRA 51, might here be significant not so much for the specific
issue there resolved but for the tone it has set. The Court there has held that constitutional provisions
are to be considered mandatory unless by necessary implication, a different intention is manifest such
that to have them enforced strictly would cause more harm than by disregarding them. It is quite clear
to me that the constitutional mandate on marriage and the family has not been meant to be simply
directory in character, nor for mere expediency or convenience, but one that demands a meaningful,
not half-hearted, respect.

Separate Opinions

PADILLA, J., concuring opinion:

I concur in the result of the decision penned by Mr. Justice Panganiban but only because of the
peculiar facts of the case. As to whether or not the psychological incapacity exists in a given case
calling for annulment of a marriage, depends crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts
of the case. In Leouel Santos v. Court of Appeals and Julia Rosario-Bedia Santos, G.R. No. 112019,
4 January 1995, 240 SCRA 20-36, I maintained, and I still maintain, that there was psychological
incapacity on the part of the wife to discharge the duties of a wife in a valid marriage. The facts of the
present case, after an indepth study, do not support a similar conclusion. Obviously, each case must
be judged, not on the basis of a prioriassumptions, predilections or generalizations but according to
its own facts. In the field of psychological incapacity as a ground for annulment of marriage, it is trite
to say that no case is on "all fours" with another case. The trial judge must take pains in examining
the actual millieu and the appellate court must, as much as possible, avoid substituting its own
judgment for that of the trial court.

ROMERO, J., separate opinion:

The majority opinion, overturning that of the Court of Appeals which affirmed the Regional Trial Court
ruling. upheld petitioner Solicitor General's position that "opposing and conflicting personalities" is not
equivalent to psychological incapacity, for the latter "is not simply the neglect by the parties to the
marriage of their responsibilities and duties, but a defect in their Psychological nature which renders
them incapable of performing such marital responsibilities and duties.

In the present case, the alleged personality traits of Reynaldo, the husband, did not constitute so
much "psychological incapacity" as a "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the
performance of some marital obligations. "It is not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their
responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to
be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological (not physical) illness."

I would add that neither should the incapacity be the result of mental illness. For if it were due to
insanity or defects in the mental faculties short of insanity, there is a resultant defect of vice of
consent, thus rendering the marriage annulable under Art. 45 of the Family Code.

That the intent of the members of the U.P. Law Center's Civil Code Revision Committee was to
exclude mental inability to understand the essential nature of marriage and focus strictly on
psychological incapacity is demonstrated in the way the provision in question underwent revisions.

At the Committee meeting of July 26, 1986, the draft provision read:

(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature of
marriage or was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential
marital obligations, even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the
celebration.

The twists and turns which the ensuing discussion took finally produced the following revised
provision even before the session was over:

(7) That contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically
incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even if such lack or
incapacity becomes manifest after the celebration.

Noticeably, the immediately preceding formulation above has dropped any reference to "wanting in
the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature or marriage" and to
"mentally incapacitated." It was explained that these phrases refer to "defects in the mental faculties
vitiating consent, which is not the idea . . . but lack of appreciation of one's marital obligation." There
being a defect in consent, "it is clear that it should be a ground for voidable marriage because there is
the appearance of consent and it is capable of convalidation for the simple reason that there are lucid
intervals and there are sanity is curable. . . . Psychological incapacity does not refer to mental
faculties and has nothing to do with consent; it refers to obligations attendant to
marriage." 1

My own position as a member of the Committee then was that psychological incapacity is, in a sense,
insanity of a lesser degree.

As to the proposal of Justice Caguioa to use the term "psychological or mental impotence,"
Archbishop Oscar Cruz opined in he earlier February 9, 1984 session that this term "is an invention of
some churchmen who are moralists but not canonists, that is why it is considered a weak phrase." He
said that the Code of Canon Law would rather express it as "psychological or mental incapacity to
discharge. . . ." Justice Ricardo C. Puno opined that sometimes a person may be psychologically
impotent with one but not with another.

One of the guidelines enumerated in the majority opinion for the interpretation and application of Art.
36 is: "Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily
absolutely against everyone of the same sex."
The Committee, through Prof. Araceli T. Barrera, considered the inclusion of the phrase" and is
incurable" but Prof. Esteban B. Bautista commented that this would give rise to the question of how
they will determine curability and Justice Caguioa agreed that it would be more problematic. Yet the
possibility that one may be cured after the psychological incapacity becomes manifest after the
marriage was not ruled out by Justice Puno and Justice Alice Sempio-Diy. Justice Caguioa suggested
that the remedy was to allow the afflicted spouse to remarry.

For clarity, the Committee classified the bases for determining void marriages, viz:

1. lack of one or more of the essential requisites of marriage as contract;

2. reasons of public policy;

3. special cases and special situations.

The ground of psychological incapacity was subsumed under "special cases and special
situations," hence its special treatment in Art. 36 in the Family Code as finally enacted.

Nowhere in the Civil Code provisions on Marriage is there a ground for avoiding or annulling
marriages that even comes close to being psychological in nature.

Where consent is vitiated due to circumstances existing at the time of the marriage, such marriage
which stands valid until annulled is capable of ratification or convalidation.

On the other hand, for reasons of public policy or lack of essential requisites, some marriages are
void from the beginning.

With the revision of Book I of the Civil Code, particularly the provisions on Marriage, the drafters, now
open to fresh winds of change in keeping with the more permissive mores and practices of the time,
took a leaf from the relatively liberal provisions of Canon Law.

Canon 1095 which states, inter alia, that the following persons are incapable of contracting marriage:
"3. (those) who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage" provided the model for what is now Art. 36 of the Family Code: "A marriage
contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to
comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such
incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.

It bears stressing that unlike in Civil Law, Canon Law recognizes only two types of marriages with
respect to their validity: valid and void. Civil Law, however, recognizes an intermediate state, the
voidable or annullable marriages. When the Ecclesiastical Tribunal "annuls" a marriage, it actually
declares the marriage null and void, i.e., it never really existed in the first place, for a valid
sacramental marriage can never be dissolved. Hence, a properly performed and consummated
marriage between two living Roman Catholics can only be nullified by the formal annulment process
which entails a full tribunal procedure with a Court selection and a formal hearing.

Such so-called church "annulments" are not recognized by Civil Law as severing the marriage ties as
to capacitate the parties to enter lawfully into another marriage. The grounds for nullifying civil
marriage, not being congruent with those laid down by Canon Law, the former being more strict, quite
a number of married couples have found themselves in limbo freed from the marriage bonds in the
eyes of the Catholic Church but yet unable to contract a valid civil marriage under state laws.
Heedless of civil law sanctions, some persons contract new marriages or enter into live-in
relationships.

It was precisely to provide a satisfactory solution to such anomalous situations that the Civil Law
Revision Committee decided to engraft the Canon Law concept of psychological incapacity into the
Family Code and classified the same as a ground for declaring marriages void ab initio or totally in
existent from the beginning.

A brief historical note on the Old Canon Law (1917). This Old Code, while it did not provide directly
for psychological incapacity, in effect recognized the same indirectly from a combination of three old
canons: "Canon #1081 required persons to 'be capable according to law' in order to give valid
consent; Canon #1082 required that persons 'be at least not ignorant' of the major elements required
in marriage; and Canon #1087 (the force and fear category) required that internal and external
freedom be present in order for consent to be valid. This line of interpretation produced two distinct
but related grounds for annulment, called 'lack of due discretion' and 'lack of due competence.' Lack
of due discretion means that the person did not have the ability to give valid consent at the time of the
wedding and therefore the union is invalid. Lack of due competence means that the person
was incapable of carrying out the obligations of the promise he or she made during the wedding
ceremony.

"Favorable annulment decisions by the Roman Rota in the 1950s and 1960s involving sexual
disorders such as homosexuality and nymphomania laid the foundation for a broader approach to the
kind of proof necessary for psychological grounds for annulment. The Rota had reasoned for the first
time in several cases that the capacity to give valid consent at the time of marriage was probably not
present in persons who had displayed such problems shortly after the marriage. The nature of this
change was nothing short of revolutionary. Once the Rota itself had demonstrated a cautious
willingness to use this kind of hindsight, the way was paved for what came after 1970. Diocesan
Tribunals began to accept proof of serious psychological problems that manifested themselves
shortly after the ceremony as proof of an inability to give valid consent at the time of the ceremony.

Furthermore, and equally significant, the professional opinion of a psychological expert became
increasingly important in such cases. Data about the person's entire life, both before and after the
ceremony, were presented to these experts and they were asked to give professional opinions about
a party's mental at the time of the wedding. These opinions were rarely challenged and tended to be
accepted as decisive evidence of lack of valid consent.

The Church took pains to point out that its new openness in this area did not amount to the addition of
new grounds for annulment, but rather was an accommodation by the Church to the advances made
in psychology during the past decades. There was now the expertise to provide the all-important
connecting link between a marriage breakdown and premarital causes.

During the 1970s, the Church broadened its whole idea of marriage from that of a legal contract to
that of a covenant. The result of this was that it could no longer be assumed in annulment cases that
a person who could intellectually understand the concept of marriage could necessarily give valid
consent to marry. The ability to both grasp and assume the real obligations of a mature, lifelong
commitment are now considered a necessary prerequisite to valid matrimonial consent. 2

Rotal decisions continued applying the concept of incipient psychological incapacity, "not only to
sexual anomalies but to all kinds of personality disorders that incapacitate a spouse or both spouses
from assuming or carrying out the essential obligations of marriage. For marriage . . . is not merely
cohabitation or the right of the spouses to each others' body for heterosexual acts, but is, in its
totality, the right to the community of the whole of life, i.e., the right to a developing. lifelong
relationship. Rotal decisions since 1973 have refined the meaning of psychological or psychic
capacity for marriage as presupposing the development of an adult personality; as meaning the
capacity of the spouses to give themselves to each other and to accept the other as a distinct person;
that the spouses must be 'other oriented' since the obligations of marriage are rooted in a self-giving
love; and that the spouses must have the capacity for interpersonal relationship because marriage is
more than just a physical reality but involves a true intertwining of personalities. The fulfillment of the
obligations of marriage depends. according to Church decisions, on the strength of this interpersonal
relationship. A serious incapacity for interpersonal sharing and support is held to impair the
relationship and consequently, the ability to fulfill the essential marital obligations. The marital
capacity of one spouse is not considered in isolation but in reference to the fundamental relationship
to the other spouse. 3

Fr. Green, in an article in Catholic Mind, lists six elements necessary to the mature marital
relationship:

The courts consider the following elements crucial to the marital commitment: (1) a
permanent and faithful commitment to the marriage partner; (2) openness to children
and partner; (3) stability; (4) emotional maturity; (5) financial responsibility; (6) an ability
to cope with the ordinary stresses and strains of marriage, etc.

Fr. Green goes on to speak about some of the psychological conditions that might lead
to the failure of a marriage:

At stake is a type of constitutional impairment precluding conjugal communion even with


the best intentions of the parties. Among the psychic factors possibly giving rise to his or
her inability to fulfill marital obligations are the following: (1) antisocial personality with
its fundamental lack of loyalty to persons or sense of moral values; (2) hyperesthesia,
where the individual has no real freedom of sexual choice; (3) the inadequate
personality where personal responses consistently fallshort of reasonable expectations.

xxx xxx xxx

The psychological grounds are the best approach for anyone who doubts whether he or
she has a case for an annulment on any other terms. A situation that does not fit into
any of the more traditional categories often fits very easily into the psychological
category.

As new as the psychological grounds are, experts are already detecting a shift in their
use. Whereas originally the emphasis was on the parties' inability to exercise proper
judgment at the time of the marriage (lack of due discretion), recent cases seem to be
concentrating on the parties' to assume or carry out their responsibilities an obligations
as promised (lack of due competence). An advantage to using the ground of lack of due
competence is that the at the time the marriage was entered into civil divorce and
breakup of the family almost is of someone's failure out marital responsibilities as
promised at the time the marriage was entered into. 4

In the instant case, "opposing and conflicting personalities" of the spouses were not considered
equivalent to psychological incapacity. As well in Santos v. Court of Appeals cited in the ponencia,
the Court held that the failure of the wife to return home from the U.S. or to communicate with her
husband for more then five years is not proof of her psychological incapacity as to render the
marriage a nullity. 5 Therefore, Art. 36 is inapplicable and the marriages remain valid and subsisting.
However in the recent case of Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of Appeals, 6 this Court upheld both the
Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals in declaring the presence of psychological incapacity
on the part of the husband. Said petitioner husband, after ten (10) months' sleeping with his wife
never had coitus with her, a fact he did not deny but he alleged that it was due to the physical
disorder of his wife which, however, he failed to prove. Goaded by the indifference and stubborn
refusal of her husband to fulfill a basic marital obligation described as "to procreate children based on
the universal principle that procreation of children through sexual cooperation is the basic end of
marriage," the wife brought the action in the lower court to declare the marriage null.

The Court, quoting Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Marriage
Tribunal of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (Branch I) on Psychological incapacity concluded:

If a spouse, although physically capable but simply refuses to perform his or her
essential marriage obligations, and the refusal is senseless and constant, Catholic
marriage tribunals attribute the causes to psychological incapacity than to stubborn
refusal. Senseless and protracted refusal is equivalent to psychological incapacity.
Thus, the prolonged refusal of a spouse to have sexual intercourse with his or her
spouse is considered a sign of psychological incapacity.

We declared:

This Court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found themselves trapped
in its mire of unfulfilled vows and unconsummated marital obligations, can do no less but sustain the
studied judgment of respondent appellate court.

1 concur with the majority opinion that the herein marriage remains valid and subsisting absent
psychological incapacity (under Art. 36 of the Family Code) on the part of either or both of the
spouses.

VITUG, J., concurring:

I fully concur with my esteemed 'colleague Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban in his ponencia, and I
find to be most helpful the guidelines that he prepared for the bench and the bar in the proper
appreciation of Article 36 of Executive Order No. 209 ("The Family Code of the Philippines"). The
term "psychological incapacity" was neither defined nor exemplified by the Family Code. Thus

Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of
marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization.

The Revision Committee, constituted under the auspices of the U.P. Law Center, which drafted
the Code explained:

(T)he Committee would like the judge to interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis,
guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological
disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the civil
courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provision was taken from Canon Law. 1
Article 36 of the Family Code was concededly taken from Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon
Law

Canon 1095. (The following persons) are incapable of contracting marriage; (those)

1. who lack sufficient use of reason;

2. who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning essential


matrimonial rights and duties, to be given and accepted mutually;

3. who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage

that should give that much value to Canon Law jurisprudence as an aid to the interpretation
and construction of the statutory enactment. 2

The principles in the proper application of the law teach us that the several provisions of a Code must
be read like a congruent whole. Thus, in determining the import of "psychological incapacity" under
Article 36, one must also read it along with, albeit to be taken as distinct from, the other grounds
enumerated in the Code, like Articles 35, 37, 38 and 41 that would likewise, but for distinct reasons,
render the marriage merely voidable, or Article 55 that could justify a petition for legal separation.
Care must be observed so that these various circumstances are not applied so indiscriminately as if
the law were indifferent on the matter.

I would wish to reiterate the Court's' statement in Santos vs. Court of Appeals; 3 viz:

(T)he use of the phrase "psychological incapacity" under Article 36 of the Code has not
been meant to comprehend all such possible cases of psychoses as, likewise
mentioned by some ecclesiastical authorities, extremely low intelligence, immaturity,
and like circumstances. . . Article 36 of the Family Code cannot be taken and construed
independently of, but must stand in conjunction with, existing precepts in our law on
marriage. Thus correlated, "psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a
mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic
marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to
the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their
mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help
and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to
confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of
personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability of the
spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article
54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the judicial
declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be "legitimate."

The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a
party being of unsound mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism,
homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant to
Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or
homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become mere grounds for
legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions of the Code,
however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances
being themselves, depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of
psychological
incapacity. 4

In fine, the term "psychological incapacity," to be a ground for then nullity of marriage under Article 36
of the Family Code, must be able to pass the following tests; viz:

First, the incapacity must be psychological or mental, not physical, in nature;

Second, the psychological incapacity must relate to the inability, not mere refusal, to understand,
assume end discharge the basic marital obligations of living together, observing love, respect and
fidelity and rendering mutual help and support;

Third, the psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is contracted although its overt
manifestations and the marriage may occur only thereafter; and

Fourth, the mental disorder must be grave or serious and incurable.

It may well be that the Family Code Revision Committee has envisioned Article 36, as not a few
observers would suspect, as another form of absolute divorce or, as still others would also put it, to
be a alternative to divorce; however, the fact still remains that the language of the law has failed to
carry out, even if true, any such intendment. It might have indeed turned out for the better, if it were
otherwise, there could be good reasons to doubt the constitutionality of the measure. The
fundamental law itself, no less, has laid down in terse language its unequivocal command on how the
State should regard marriage and the family, thus

Section 2, Article XV:

Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and
shall be protected by the State.

Section 12, Article II:

Sec. 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen
the family as a basic autonomous social institution . . . .

Section 1, Article XV:

Sec. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation.
Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.
(The 1987 Constitution)

The case of Marcelino vs. Cruz, 121 SCRA 51, might here be significant not so much for the specific
issue there resolved but for the tone it has set. The Court there has held that constitutional provisions
are to be considered mandatory unless by necessary implication, a different intention is manifest such
that to have them enforced strictly would cause more harm than by disregarding them. It is quite clear
to me that the constitutional mandate on marriage and the family has not been meant to be simply
directory in character, nor for mere expediency or convenience, but one that demands a meaningful,
not half-hearted, respect.

Footnotes
1 Rollo pp. 25-33.

2 Sixteenth Division composed of J., Segundino G. Chua, ponente and chairman JJ.,
Serafin V.C. Guingona and Ricardo P. Galvez, concurring.

3 Presided by Judge Heilia S. Mallare-Phillipps.

4 Solemnized by Fr. Jesus C. Encinas.

5 The Court of Appeals reproduced in its Decision a substantial portion of the RTC
Decision is follows:

"To sustain her claim that respondent is psychologically incapacitated to comply with his
marital obligations, petitioner testified that he is immature, irresponsible, dependent,
disrespectful, arrogant, a chronic liar, and an infidel. These characteristics of
respondent are based on petitioner's testimony that the former failed to be gainfully
employed after he was relieved from the office of the Government Corporate Counsel
sometime in February, 1986. leaving petitioner as the sole breadwinner of the family.
Also when they were separated in fact, respondent practically abandoned both
petitioner-mother and son except during the first few months of separation when
respondent regularly visited his son and gave him a monthly allowance of P1,000.00 for
about two to four months. Respondent is likewise dependent on his parents for financial
aid and support as he has no savings, preferring to spend his money with his friends
and peers. A year after their marriage, respondent informed petitioner that he bought a
house and lot at BF Homes, Paraaque for about a million pesos. They then transferred
there only for the petitioner to discover a few months later that they were actually
renting the house with the respondent's parents responsible for the payment of the
rentals. Aside from this. respondent would also lie about his salary and ability. And that
at present, respondent is living with his mistress and their child. which fact he does not
deny.

It is unfortunate that the marriage between petitioner and respondent turned sour if we
look at the background of their relationship. During their college days, when they were
still going steady, respondent observed petitioner to be conservative, homely, and
intelligent causing him to believe then that she would make an ideal wife and mother.
Likewise, petitioner fell in love with respondent because of his thoughtfulness and
gentleness. After a year, however, they decided to break their relationship because of
some differences in their personalities. Almost five (5) years later, while they were
working in Manila, petitioner and respondent rekindled their love affair. They became
very close and petitioner was glad to observe a more mature respondent. Believing that
they know each other much better after two years of going steady, they decided to settle
down and get married. It would seem. therefore, that petitioner and respondent knew
each other well and were then prepared for married life.

During their marriage, however, the true personalities of the parties cropped-up and
dominated their life together. Unexpectedly on both their parts, petitioner and
respondent failed to respond properly to the situation. This failure resulted in their
frequent arguments and fighting's. In fact, even with the intervention and help of their
parents who arranged for their possible reconciliation, the parties could not come to
terms.
It seems clear at this stage that the marriage between the parties broke-up because of
their opposing and conflicting personalities (sic). Neither of them can accept and
understand the weakness of the other. No one gives in and instead, blame each other
for whatever problem or misunderstanding/s they encounter. In fine, respondent cannot
be solely responsible for the failure of other (sic) marriage. Rather, this resulted
because both parties cannot relate to each other as husband and wife which is unique
and requisite in marriage.

Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman with
the basic objective of establishing a conjugal and family life. (Article 1, Family Code).
The unique element of permanency of union signifies a continuing, developing, and
lifelong relationship between the parties. Towards this end, the parties must fully
understand and accept the (implications and consequences of being permanently)
united in marriage. And the maintenance of this relationship demands from the parties,
among others, determination to succeed in their marriage as well as heartfelt
understanding, acceptance, cooperation, and support for each other. Thus, the Family
Code requires them to live together, to observe mutual (love, respect and fidelity, and
render mutual help and support. Failure to observe) and perform these fundamental
roles of a husband and a wife will most likely lead to the break-up of the marriage. Such
is the unfortunate situation in this case. (Decision, pp. 5-8; Original Records, pp. 70-73).

6 240 SCRA 20, 34, January 4, 1995.

7 Quoted from Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy, Handbook on the Family Code, First Edition,
1988.

8 TSN, April 6, 1991, p. 5.

9 The National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal reviews all decisions of the marriage
tribunals of each archdiocese in the country. Aside from heading the Appellate Tribunal,
Most. Rev. Cruz is also incumbent president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the
Philippines, Archbishop of Dagupan-Lingayen, and holds the degrees of Doctor of
Canon Law and Doctor of Divinity. Archbishop Cruz was also Secretary-General of the
Second Plenary Council of the Philippines PCP II held from January 20, 1991 to
February 17, 1991, which is the rough equivalent of a parliament or a constitutional
convention in the Philippine Church, and where the ponente, who was a Council
member, had the privilege of being overwhelmed by his keen mind and prayerful
discernments.

10 Justice Puno was a former member of the Court of Appeals, retired Minister of
Justice, author, noted civil law professor and the law practitioner.

Article XV

THE FAMILY

Sec. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino Family as the foundation of the nation.
Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.

Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and
shall be protected by the state.
Sec. 3. The State shall defend:

(1) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious connections
and the demands of responsible parenthood;

(2) The right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special
protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty. exploitation, and other conditions
prejudicial to their development;

(3) The right of the family to a family living wage and income;

(4) The right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and
implementation of policies and programs that affect them.

Sec. 4. The family has the duty to care for its elderly members but the state may also do
so through just programs of social security.

Art. 1 Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman
entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is
the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature,
consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except
that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the
limits provided by this Code.

13 Salita vs. Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100, June 13, 1994.

14 This text is taken from the Memorandum of Archbishop Cruz. On the other hand, the
text used in Santos v. CA reads:

"Canon 1095. They are incapable of contracting marriage:

xxx xxx xxx

3. Who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage.

The difference in wording between this and that in Arch. Cruz's Memorandum is due to
the fact that the original Canon is written in Latin and both versions are differently-
worded English translations.

ROMERO, J., separate opinion:

1 Justice Caguioa's explanation in the Minutes of July 26, 1986 of the Civil Code
Revision Committee of the U.P. Law Center.

2 Zwack , Joseph P. Annulment, A Step-by-Step Guide.

3 The Code of Canon Law, A Text and Commentary, The Canon Law Society of
America, Paulist Press, New York, 1985.

4 Zwack, ibid., p. 47.


5 G.R. No. 112019, 240 SCRA 20 (1995).

6 G.R. No. 119190 (1997).

VITUG, J., concurring:

1 Mr. Justice Josue N. Bellosillo, quoting Mme. Justice Alicia V. Sempio-Diy, In Salita
vs. Hon. Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100.

2 In Santos vs. Court Appeals, 240 SCRA 20.

3 Supra.

4 At pages 34-35.
THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 136490. October 19, 2000]

BRENDA B. MARCOS, petitioner, vs. WILSON G. MARCOS, respondent.

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:

Psychological incapacity, as a ground for declaring the nullity of a marriage, may be established by
the totality of evidence presented. There is no requirement, however, that the respondent should be
examined by a physician or a psychologist as a conditio sine qua non for such declaration.

The Case

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the
July 24, 1998 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No. 55588, which disposed as
follows:

"WHEREFORE, the contested decision is set aside and the marriage between the parties is hereby
declared valid."[2]

Also challenged by petitioner is the December 3, 1998 CA Resolution denying her Motion for
Reconsideration.
Earlier, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) had ruled thus:

"WHEREFORE, the marriage between petitioner Brenda B. Marcos and respondent Wilson G.
Marcos, solemnized on September 6, 1982 in Pasig City is declared null and void ab initio pursuant to
Art. 36 of the Family Code. The conjugal properties, if any, is dissolved [sic] in accordance with
Articles 126 and 129 of the same Code in relation to Articles 50, 51 and 52 relative to the delivery of
the legitime of [the] parties' children. In the best interest and welfare of the minor children, their
custody is granted to petitioner subject to the visitation rights of respondent.
"Upon finality of this Decision, furnish copy each to the Office of the Civil Registrar of Pasig City
where the marriage was solemnized, the National Census and Statistics Office, Manila and the
Register of Deeds of Mandaluyong City for their appropriate action consistent with this Decision.

"SO ORDERED."

The Facts

The facts as found by the Court of Appeals are as follows:

"It was established during the trial that the parties were married twice: (1) on September 6, 1982
which was solemnized by Judge Eriberto H. Espiritu at the Municipal Court of Pasig (Exh. A); and (2)
on May 8, 1983 which was solemnized by Rev. Eduardo L. Eleazar, Command Chaplain, at the
Presidential Security Command Chapel in Malacaang Park, Manila (Exh. A-1). Out of their marriage,
five (5) children were born (Exhs. B, C, D, E and F).

"Appellant Wilson G. Marcos joined the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 1973. Later on, he was
transferred to the Presidential Security Command in Malacaang during the Marcos Regime. Appellee
Brenda B. Marcos, on the other hand, joined the Women's Auxilliary Corps under the Philippine Air
Force in 1978. After the Edsa Revolution, both of them sought a discharge from the military service.

"They first met sometime in 1980 when both of them were assigned at the Malacaang Palace, she as
an escort of Imee Marcos and he as a Presidential Guard of President Ferdinand Marcos. Through
telephone conversations, they became acquainted and eventually became sweethearts.

"After their marriage on September 6, 1982, they resided at No. 1702 Daisy Street, Hulo Bliss,
Mandaluyong, a housing unit which she acquired from the Bliss Development Corporation when she
was still single.

"After the downfall of President Marcos, he left the military service in 1987 and then engaged in
different business ventures that did not however prosper. As a wife, she always urged him to look for
work so that their children would see him, instead of her, as the head of the family and a good
provider. Due to his failure to engage in any gainful employment, they would often quarrel and as a
consequence, he would hit and beat her. He would even force her to have sex with him despite her
weariness. He would also inflict physical harm on their children for a slight mistake and was so severe
in the way he chastised them. Thus, for several times during their cohabitation, he would leave their
house. In 1992, they were already living separately.

"All the while, she was engrossed in the business of selling "magic uling" and chickens. While she
was still in the military, she would first make deliveries early in the morning before going to
Malacaang.When she was discharged from the military service, she concentrated on her
business. Then, she became a supplier in the Armed Forces of the Philippines until she was able to
put up a trading and construction company, NS Ness Trading and Construction Development
Corporation.

"The 'straw that broke the camel's back' took place on October 16, 1994, when they had a bitter
quarrel. As they were already living separately, she did not want him to stay in their house
anymore. On that day, when she saw him in their house, she was so angry that she lambasted
him. He then turned violent, inflicting physical harm on her and even on her mother who came to her
aid. The following day, October 17, 1994, she and their children left the house and sought refuge in
her sister's house.

"On October 19, 1994, she submitted herself [to] medical examination at the Mandaluyong Medical
Center where her injuries were diagnosed as contusions (Exh. G, Records, 153).

"Sometime in August 1995, she together with her two sisters and driver, went to him at the Bliss unit
in Mandaluyong to look for their missing child, Niko. Upon seeing them, he got mad. After knowing
the reason for their unexpected presence, he ran after them with a samurai and even [beat] her
driver.

"At the time of the filing of this case, she and their children were renting a house in Camella,
Paraaque, while the appellant was residing at the Bliss unit in Mandaluyong.

"In the case study conducted by Social Worker Sonia C. Millan, the children described their father as
cruel and physically abusive to them (Exh. UU, Records, pp. 85-100).

"The appellee submitted herself to psychologist Natividad A. Dayan, Ph.D., for psychological
evaluation (Exh. YY, Records, pp. 207-216), while the appellant on the other hand, did not.

"The court a quo found the appellant to be psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital
obligations mainly because of his failure to find work to support his family and his violent
attitude towardsappellee and their children, x x x."[3]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Reversing the RTC, the CA held that psychological incapacity had not been established by the
totality of the evidence presented. It ratiocinated in this wise:

"Essential in a petition for annulment is the allegation of the root cause of the spouse's psychological
incapacity which should also be medically or clinically identified, sufficiently proven by experts and
clearly explained in the decision. The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the
celebration of the marriage and shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. It must
also be grave enough to bring about the disability of the parties to assume the essential obligations of
marriage as set forth in Articles 68 to 71 and Articles 220 to 225 of the Family Code and such non-
complied marital obligations must similarly be alleged in the petition, established by evidence and
explained in the decision.

"In the case before us, the appellant was not subjected to any psychological or psychiatric
evaluation. The psychological findings about the appellant by psychiatrist Natividad Dayan were
based only on the interviews conducted with the appellee. Expert evidence by qualified psychiatrists
and clinical psychologists is essential if only to prove that the parties were or any one of them was
mentally or psychically ill to be truly incognitive of the marital obligations he or she was assuming, or
as would make him or her x x x unable to assume them. In fact, he offered testimonial evidence to
show that he [was] not psychologically incapacitated. The root cause of his supposed incapacity was
not alleged in the petition, nor medically or clinically identified as a psychological illness or sufficiently
proven by an expert.Similarly, there is no evidence at all that would show that the appellant was
suffering from an incapacity which [was] psychological or mental - not physical to the extent that he
could not have known the obligations he was assuming: that the incapacity [was] grave, ha[d]
preceded the marriage and [was] incurable."[4]
Hence, this Petition.[5]

Issues

In her Memorandum,[6] petitioner presents for this Court's consideration the following issues:
"I. Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals could set aside the findings by the Regional
Trial Court of psychological incapacity of a respondent in a Petition for declaration of nullity
of marriage simply because the respondent did not subject himself to psychological
evaluation.
II. Whether or not the totality of evidence presented and the demeanor of all the witnesses
should be the basis of the determination of the merits of the Petition." [7]

The Court's Ruling

We agree with petitioner that the personal medical or psychological examination of respondent is
not a requirement for a declaration of psychological incapacity. Nevertheless, the totality of the
evidence she presented does not show such incapacity.

Preliminary Issue: Need for Personal Medical Examination

Petitioner contends that the testimonies and the results of various tests that were submitted to
determine respondent's psychological incapacity to perform the obligations of marriage should not have
been brushed aside by the Court of Appeals, simply because respondent had not taken those tests
himself. Petitioner adds that the CA should have realized that under the circumstances, she had no
choice but to rely on other sources of information in order to determine the psychological capacity of
respondent, who had refused to submit himself to such tests.
In Republic v. CA and Molina,[8] the guidelines governing the application and the interpretation
of psychological incapacity referred to in Article 36 of the Family Code[9] were laid down by this Court
as follows:
"1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt
should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its
dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws
cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an
entire Article on the Family, recognizing it 'as the foundation of the nation.' It decrees
marriage as legally 'inviolable,' thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the
parties. Both the family and marriage are to be 'protected' by the state.
xxxxxxxxx
2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified,
(b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in
the decision.Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological
- not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence
must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to
such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or
knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such
incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the
principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a
psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be
given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at 'the time of the celebration' of the
marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged
their 'I do's.' The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the
illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto.
4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or
incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other
spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such
incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to
those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a
job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and
prescribing medicine to cure them but not be psychologically capacitated to procreate, bear
and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.
5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the
essential obligations of marriage. Thus, 'mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes,
occasional emotional outbursts cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be
shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill
will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse
integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from
really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage.
6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the
Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the
same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s)
must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the
decision.
7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church
in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our
courts.
xxxxxxxxx
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to
appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor
General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his
reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor
General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification
within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of the
court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor
vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095."[10]
The guidelines incorporate the three basic requirements earlier mandated by the Court in Santos
v. Court of Appeals:[11] "psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity(b) juridical
antecedence, and (c) incurability." The foregoing guidelines do not require that a physician examine
the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated. In fact, the root cause may be "medically or
clinically identified." What is important is the presence of evidence that can adequately establish the
party's psychological condition. For indeed, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a
finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not
be resorted to.
Main Issue: Totality of Evidence Presented

The main question, then, is whether the totality of the evidence presented in the present case --
including the testimonies of petitioner, the common children, petitioner's sister and the social worker --
was enough to sustain a finding that respondent was psychologically incapacitated.
We rule in the negative. Although this Court is sufficiently convinced that respondent failed to
provide material support to the family and may have resorted to physical abuse and abandonment, the
totality of his acts does not lead to a conclusion of psychological incapacity on his part. There is
absolutely no showing that his "defects" were already present at the inception of the marriage or that
they are incurable.
Verily, the behavior of respondent can be attributed to the fact that he had lost his job and was not
gainfully employed for a period of more than six years. It was during this period that he became
intermittently drunk, failed to give material and moral support, and even left the family home.
Thus, his alleged psychological illness was traced only to said period and not to the inception of
the marriage. Equally important, there is no evidence showing that his condition is incurable, especially
now that he is gainfully employed as a taxi driver.
Article 36 of the Family Code, we stress, is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the
marital bond at the time the causes therefor manifest themselves. It refers to a serious psychological
illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so
permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond
one is about to assume. These marital obligations are those provided under Articles 68 to 71, 220, 221
and 225 of the Family Code.
Neither is Article 36 to be equated with legal separation, in which the grounds need not be rooted
in psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil interdiction,
drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like. [12] At best, the evidence
presented by petitioner refers only to grounds for legal separation, not for declaring a marriage void.
Because Article 36 has been abused as a convenient divorce law, this Court laid down the
procedural requirements for its invocation in Molina. Petitioner, however, has not faithfully observed
them.
In sum, this Court cannot declare the dissolution of the marriage for failure of petitioner to show
that the alleged psychological incapacity is characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence and
incurability; and for her failure to observe the guidelines outlined in Molina.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and assailed Decision AFFIRMED, except that portion
requiring personal medical examination as a conditio sine qua non to a finding of psychological
incapacity. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.

[1]
Penned by Justice Bernardo LL Salas with the concurrence of Justices Fermin A. Martin Jr. (Division
chairman) and Candido V. Rivera (member).
[2] CA Decision, pp. 12-13; rollo, pp. 38-39.
[3] CA Decision, pp. 5-7; rollo, pp. 31-33.
[4] CA Decision, pp. 10-11; rollo, pp. 36-37.
[5]This case was deemed submitted for resolution on February 24, 2000, upon receipt by this Court of
respondent's Memorandum, which was signed by Atty. Virgilio V. Macaraig. Petitioner's Memorandum,
signed by Atty. Rita Linda V. Jimeno, had been filed earlier on November 5, 1999.
[6] Rollo, p. 70; original in upper case.
[7] Memorandum for petitioner, p. 6; rollo, p. 70.
[8] 268 SCRA 198, February 13, 1997, per Panganiban, J.
[9]
"Article 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise
be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
"The action for declaration of nullity of the marriage under this Article shall prescribe in ten years after
its celebration."
[10]
Supra, pp. 209-213.
[11] 240 SCRA 20, 34, January 4, 1995, per Vitug, J.
[12] "Article 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:
(1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common
child, or a child of the petitioner;
(2) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;
(3) Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner,
to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement;
(4) Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned;
(5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;
(6) Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;
(7) Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or
abroad;
(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion;
(9) Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; or
(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.
For purposes of this Article, the term 'child' shall include a child by nature or by adoption."
FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 151867. January 29, 2004]

DAVID B. DEDEL, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and SHARON L. CORPUZ-DEDEL a.k.a.
JANE IBRAHIM, respondents.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, oppositor-respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Petitioner David B. Dedel met respondent Sharon L. Corpuz Dedel while he was working in the
advertising business of his father. The acquaintance led to courtship and romantic relations,
culminating in the exchange of marital vows before the City Court of Pasay on September 28,
1966.[1] The civil marriage was ratified in a church wedding on May 20, 1967. [2]
The union produced four children, namely: Beverly Jane, born on September 18, 1968; [3] Stephanie
Janice born on September 9, 1969;[4] Kenneth David born on April 24, 1971;[5] and Ingrid born on
October 20, 1976.[6] The conjugal partnership, nonetheless, acquired neither property nor debt.
Petitioner avers that during the marriage, Sharon turned out to be an irresponsible and immature
wife and mother. She had extra-marital affairs with several men: a dentist in the Armed Forces of the
Philippines; a Lieutenant in the Presidential Security Command and later a Jordanian national.
Sharon was once confirmed in the Manila Medical City for treatment by Dr. Lourdes Lapuz, a clinical
psychiatrist. Petitioner alleged that despite the treatment, Sharon did not stop her illicit relationship with
the Jordanian national named Mustafa Ibrahim, whom she married and with whom she had two
children. However, when Mustafa Ibrahim left the country, Sharon returned to petitioner bringing along
her two children by Ibrahim. Petitioner accepted her back and even considered the two illegitimate
children as his own. Thereafter, on December 9, 1995, Sharon abandoned petitioner to join Ibrahim in
Jordan with their two children. Since then, Sharon would only return to the country on special occasions.
Finally, giving up all hope of a reconciliation with Sharon, petitioner filed on April 1, 1997 a petition
seeking the declaration of nullity of his marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, as defined
in Article 36 of the Family Code, before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 149. Summons
was effected by publication in the Pilipino Star Ngayon, a newspaper of general circulation in the
country considering that Sharon did not reside and could not be found in the Philippines. [7]
Petitioner presented Dr. Natividad A. Dayan, who testified that she conducted a psychological
evaluation of petitioner and found him to be conscientious, hardworking, diligent, a perfectionist who
wants all tasks and projects completed up to the final detail and who exerts his best in whatever he
does.
On the other hand, Dr. Dayan declared that Sharon was suffering from Anti-Social Personality
Disorder exhibited by her blatant display of infidelity; that she committed several indiscretions and had
no capacity for remorse, even bringing with her the two children of Mustafa Ibrahim to live with
petitioner. Such immaturity and irresponsibility in handling the marriage like her repeated acts of
infidelity and abandonment of her family are indications of Anti-Social Personality Disorder amounting
to psychological incapacity to perform the essential obligations of marriage. [8]
After trial, judgment was rendered, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the civil and church marriages between DAVID B. DEDEL
and SHARON L. CORPUZ celebrated on September 28, 1966 and May 20, 1967 are hereby declared
null and void on the ground of psychological incapacity on the part of the respondent to perform the
essential obligations of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.

Accordingly, the conjugal partnership of gains existing between the parties is dissolved and in lieu
thereof a regime of complete separation of property between the said spouses is established in
accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Family Code, without prejudice to rights previously
acquired by creditors.
Let a copy of this Decision be duly recorded in the proper civil and property registries in accordance
with Article 52 of the Family Code.

SO ORDERED.[9]

Respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, appealed alleging that
I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION DESPITE THE ABSENCE
OF A VALID GROUND FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE CHURCH MARRIAGE
BETWEEN PETITIONER IS NULL AND VOID.
III
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RENDERING A DECISION WITHOUT A
CERTIFICATION HAVING BEEN ISSUED BY THE SOLICITOR GENERAL AS REQUIRED
IN THE MOLINA CASE.
The Court of Appeals recalled and set aside the judgment of the trial court and ordered dismissal
of the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. [10]
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated January 8, 2002. [11] Hence,
the instant petition.
Petitioner contends that the appellate court gravely abused its discretion and manifestly erred in its
conclusion that the: (1) respondent was not suffering from psychological incapacity to perform her
marital obligations; (2) psychological incapacity of respondent is not attended by gravity, juridical
antecedence and permanence or incurability; and (3) totality of evidence submitted by the petitioner
falls short to prove psychological incapacity suffered by respondent.
The main question for resolution is whether or not the totality of the evidence presented is enough
to sustain a finding that respondent is psychologically incapacitated. More specifically, does the
aberrant sexual behavior of respondent adverted to by petitioner fall within the term psychological
incapacity?
In Santos v. Court of Appeals,[12] it was ruled:

x x x psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that
causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be
assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed in Article 68 of the
Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and
render help and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine
the meaning of psychological incapacity to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity of inability to give meaning and significance to the
marriage. This psychological condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. The law
does not evidently envision, upon the other hand, an inability of the spouse to have sexual relations
with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article 54 of the Family Code which considers children
conceived prior to the judicial declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be legitimate.

The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a party being of
unsound mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality or lesbianism,
merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction,
habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become
mere grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions, however,
do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances being themselves,
depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of psychological incapacity.

Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are established, every circumstance that may
have some bearing on the degree, extent and other conditions of that incapacity must, in every case,
be carefully examined and evaluated so that no precipitate and indiscriminate nullity is peremptorily
decreed. The well-considered opinion of psychiatrists, psychologists and persons with expertise in
psychological disciplines might be helpful or even desirable. [13]

The difficulty in resolving the problem lies in the fact that a personality disorder is a very complex
and elusive phenomenon which defies easy analysis and definition. In this case, respondents sexual
infidelity can hardly qualify as being mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that she could not have
known the obligations she was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given a valid assumption
thereof.[14] It appears that respondents promiscuity did not exist prior to or at the inception of the
marriage. What is, in fact, disclosed by the records is a blissful marital union at its celebration, later
affirmed in church rites, and which produced four children.
Respondents sexual infidelity or perversion and abandonment do not by themselves constitute
psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the Family Code. Neither could her emotional
immaturity and irresponsibility be equated with psychological incapacity.[15] It must be shown that these
acts are manifestations of a disordered personality which make respondent completely unable to
discharge the essential obligations of the marital state, not merely due to her youth, immaturity [16] or
sexual promiscuity.
At best, the circumstances relied upon by petitioner are grounds for legal separation under Article
55[17] of the Family Code. However, we pointed out in Marcos v. Marcos[18] that Article 36 is not to be
equated with legal separation in which the grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but
on physical violence, moral pressure, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual
infidelity, abandonment and the like. In short, the evidence presented by petitioner refers only to
grounds for legal separation, not for declaring a marriage void.
We likewise agree with the Court of Appeals that the trial court has no jurisdiction to dissolve the
church marriage of petitioner and respondent. The authority to do so is exclusively lodged with the
Ecclesiastical Court of the Roman Catholic Church.
All told, we find no cogent reason to disturb the ruling of the appellate court. We cannot deny the
grief, frustration and even desperation of petitioner in his present situation. Regrettably, there are
circumstances, like in this case, where neither law nor society can provide the specific answers to every
individual problem.[19] While we sympathize with petitioners marital predicament, our first and foremost
duty is to apply the law no matter how harsh it may be. [20]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 60406, which ordered the dismissal of Civil Case No. 97-467 before the
Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 149, is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Panganiban, and Carpio, JJ., concur.
Azcuna, J., on official leave.
[1] Exhibits F and F-3.
[2] Exhibit F.
[3] Exhibit H.
[4] Exhibit I.
[5] Exhibit J.
[6] Exhibit K.
[7] Exhibits D to D-3.
[8] Exhibit L; Records pp. 57-78.
[9] Rollo, p. 49; penned by Presiding Judge Josefina Guevarra-Salonga (now an Associate Justice of
the Court of Appeals).
[10] Rollo, pp. 33-44; per Associate Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr., with Associate Justices Martin S.
Villarama, Jr. and Eliezer R. Delos Santos, concurring.
[11] Rollo, p. 45.
[12]
310 Phil. 21 (1995).
[13] Id., at 40-41.
[14]
Republic v. Dagdag, G.R. No. 109975, 9 February 2001, 351 SCRA 425.
[15] Pesca v. Pesca, G.R. No. 136921, 17 April 2001, 356 SCRA 588, 594.
[16] Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, supra, pp. 87-88.
[17] ART. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:
(1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common
child or a child of the petitioner;
(2) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;
(3) Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner,
to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement;
(4) Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years even if pardoned;
(5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;
(6) Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;
(7) Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage in the Philippines, whether in
the Philippines or abroad;
(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion.
(9) Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; or
(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.
For purposes of this Article, the term child shall include a child by nature or by adoption.
[18] G.R. No. 136490, 19 October 2000, 343 SCRA 755, 765.
[19] Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra, p. 36.
[20] Pesca v. Pesca, supra.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 150758 February 18, 2004

VERONICO TENEBRO, petitioner


vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondent.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

We are called on to decide the novel issue concerning the effect of the judicial declaration of the
nullity of a second or subsequent marriage, on the ground of psychological incapacity, on an
individuals criminal liability for bigamy. We hold that the subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity does not retroact to the date of the celebration of
the marriage insofar as the Philippines penal laws are concerned. As such, an individual who
contracts a second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage is criminally
liable for bigamy, notwithstanding the subsequent declaration that the second marriage is void ab
initio on the ground of psychological incapacity.

Petitioner in this case, Veronico Tenebro, contracted marriage with private complainant Leticia
Ancajas on April 10, 1990. The two were wed by Judge Alfredo B. Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court of
Lapu-lapu City. Tenebro and Ancajas lived together continuously and without interruption until the
latter part of 1991, when Tenebro informed Ancajas that he had been previously married to a certain
Hilda Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Tenebro showed Ancajas a photocopy of a marriage contract
between him and Villareyes. Invoking this previous marriage, petitioner thereafter left the conjugal
dwelling which he shared with Ancajas, stating that he was going to cohabit with Villareyes. 1

On January 25, 1993, petitioner contracted yet another marriage, this one with a certain Nilda
Villegas, before Judge German Lee, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 15. 2 When
Ancajas learned of this third marriage, she verified from Villareyes whether the latter was indeed
married to petitioner. In a handwritten letter, 3 Villareyes confirmed that petitioner, Veronico Tenebro,
was indeed her husband.

Ancajas thereafter filed a complaint for bigamy against petitioner.4 The Information,5 which was
docketed as Criminal Case No. 013095-L, reads:

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

CONTRARY TO LAW.

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

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

On November 10, 1997, the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City, Branch 54, rendered a decision
finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy under Article 349 of the
Revised Penal Code, and sentencing him to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum. 10 On appeal, the Court
of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court. Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied
for lack of merit.

Hence, the instant petition for review on the following assignment of errors:

I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED, AND THIS ERROR IS


CORRECTIBLE IN THIS APPEAL WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE DECISION OF THE
HONORABLE COURT A QUOCONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE CRIME OF
BIGAMY, DESPITE THE NON-EXISTENCE OF THE FIRST MARRIAGE AND
INSUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE.

II. THE COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE CRIME OF
BIGAMY DESPITE CLEAR PROOF THAT THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE ACCUSED AND
PRIVATE COMPLAINANT HAD BEEN DECLARED NULL AND VOID AB INITIO AND
WITHOUT LEGAL FORCE AND EFFECT.11

After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find no cogent reason to disturb the assailed
judgment.

Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, the elements of the crime of Bigamy are:

(1) that the offender has been legally married;

(2) that the first marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent,
the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code;

(3) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and

(4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity. 12

Petitioners assignment of errors presents a two-tiered defense, in which he (1) denies the existence
of his first marriage to Villareyes, and (2) argues that the declaration of the nullity of the second
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, which is an alleged indicator that his marriage to
Ancajas lacks the essential requisites for validity, retroacts to the date on which the second marriage
was celebrated.13 Hence, petitioner argues that all four of the elements of the crime of bigamy are
absent, and prays for his acquittal.14

Petitioners defense must fail on both counts.

First, the prosecution presented sufficient evidence, both documentary and oral, to prove the
existence of the first marriage between petitioner and Villareyes. Documentary evidence presented
was in the form of: (1) a copy of a marriage contract between Tenebro and Villareyes, dated
November 10, 1986, which, as seen on the document, was solemnized at the Manila City Hall before
Rev. Julieto Torres, a Minister of the Gospel, and certified to by the Office of the Civil Registrar of
Manila;15 and (2) a handwritten letter from Villareyes to Ancajas dated July 12, 1994, informing
Ancajas that Villareyes and Tenebro were legally married. 16

To assail the veracity of the marriage contract, petitioner presented (1) a certification issued by the
National Statistics Office dated October 7, 1995; 17 and (2) a certification issued by the City Civil
Registry of Manila, dated February 3, 1997. 18 Both these documents attest that the respective issuing
offices have no record of a marriage celebrated between Veronico B. Tenebro and Hilda B. Villareyes
on November 10, 1986.

To our mind, the documents presented by the defense cannot adequately assail the marriage
contract, which in itself would already have been sufficient to establish the existence of a marriage
between Tenebro and Villareyes.

All three of these documents fall in the category of public documents, and the Rules of Court
provisions relevant to public documents are applicable to all. Pertinent to the marriage contract,
Section 7 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court reads as follows:

Sec. 7. Evidence admissible when original document is a public record. When the original of a
document is in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office, its contents may be
proved by a certified copy issued by the public officer in custody thereof (Emphasis ours).
This being the case, the certified copy of the marriage contract, issued by a public officer in custody
thereof, was admissible as the best evidence of its contents. The marriage contract plainly indicates
that a marriage was celebrated between petitioner and Villareyes on November 10, 1986, and it
should be accorded the full faith and credence given to public documents.

Moreover, an examination of the wordings of the certification issued by the National Statistics Office
on October 7, 1995 and that issued by the City Civil Registry of Manila on February 3, 1997 would
plainly show that neither document attests as a positive fact that there was no marriage celebrated
between Veronico B. Tenebro and Hilda B. Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Rather, the documents
merely attest that the respective issuing offices have no record of such a marriage. Documentary
evidence as to the absence of a record is quite different from documentary evidence as to the
absence of a marriage ceremony, or documentary evidence as to the invalidity of the marriage
between Tenebro and Villareyes.

The marriage contract presented by the prosecution serves as positive evidence as to the existence
of the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes, which should be given greater credence than
documents testifying merely as to absence of any record of the marriage, especially considering that
there is absolutely no requirement in the law that a marriage contract needs to be submitted to the
civil registrar as a condition precedent for the validity of a marriage. The mere fact that no record of a
marriage exists does not invalidate the marriage, provided all requisites for its validity are
present.19 There is no evidence presented by the defense that would indicate that the marriage
between Tenebro and Villareyes lacked any requisite for validity, apart from the self-serving testimony
of the accused himself. Balanced against this testimony are Villareyes letter, Ancajas testimony that
petitioner informed her of the existence of the valid first marriage, and petitioners own conduct, which
would all tend to indicate that the first marriage had all the requisites for validity.

Finally, although the accused claims that he took steps to verify the non-existence of the first
marriage to Villareyes by requesting his brother to validate such purported non-existence, it is
significant to note that the certifications issued by the National Statistics Office and the City Civil
Registry of Manila are dated October 7, 1995 and February 3, 1997, respectively. Both documents,
therefore, are dated after the accuseds marriage to his second wife, private respondent in this case.

As such, this Court rules that there was sufficient evidence presented by the prosecution to prove the
first and second requisites for the crime of bigamy.

The second tier of petitioners defense hinges on the effects of the subsequent judicial
declaration20 of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity.

Petitioner argues that this subsequent judicial declaration retroacts to the date of the celebration of
the marriage to Ancajas. As such, he argues that, since his marriage to Ancajas was subsequently
declared void ab initio, the crime of bigamy was not committed. 21

This argument is not impressed with merit.

Petitioner makes much of the judicial declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground
of psychological incapacity, invoking Article 36 of the Family Code. What petitioner fails to realize is
that a declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity is of
absolutely no moment insofar as the States penal laws are concerned.

As a second or subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of petitioners valid marriage
to Villareyes, petitioners marriage to Ancajas would be null and void ab initio completely regardless
of petitioners psychological capacity or incapacity.22 Since a marriage contracted during the
subsistence of a valid marriage is automatically void, the nullity of this second marriage is not per se
an argument for the avoidance of criminal liability for bigamy. Pertinently, Article 349 of the Revised
Penal Code criminalizes "any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the
former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared
presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings". A plain reading of
the law, therefore, would indicate that the provision penalizes the mere act of contracting a second or
a subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage.

Thus, as soon as the second marriage to Ancajas was celebrated on April 10, 1990, during the
subsistence of the valid first marriage, the crime of bigamy had already been consummated. To our
mind, there is no cogent reason for distinguishing between a subsequent marriage that is null and
void purely because it is a second or subsequent marriage, and a subsequent marriage that is null
and void on the ground of psychological incapacity, at least insofar as criminal liability for bigamy is
concerned. The States penal laws protecting the institution of marriage are in recognition of the
sacrosanct character of this special contract between spouses, and punish an individuals deliberate
disregard of the permanent character of the special bond between spouses, which petitioner has
undoubtedly done.

Moreover, the declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological
incapacity is not an indicator that petitioners marriage to Ancajas lacks the essential requisites for
validity. The requisites for the validity of a marriage are classified by the Family Code into essential
(legal capacity of the contracting parties and their consent freely given in the presence of the
solemnizing officer)23 and formal (authority of the solemnizing officer, marriage license, and marriage
ceremony wherein the parties personally declare their agreement to marry before the solemnizing
officer in the presence of at least two witnesses). 24 Under Article 5 of the Family Code, any male or
female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments mentioned in
Articles 3725 and 3826 may contract marriage.27

In this case, all the essential and formal requisites for the validity of marriage were satisfied by
petitioner and Ancajas. Both were over eighteen years of age, and they voluntarily contracted the
second marriage with the required license before Judge Alfredo B. Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court of
Lapu-lapu City, in the presence of at least two witnesses.

Although the judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity
retroacts to the date of the celebration of the marriage insofar as the vinculum between the spouses
is concerned, it is significant to note that said marriage is not without legal effects. Among these
effects is that children conceived or born before the judgment of absolute nullity of the marriage shall
be considered legitimate.28 There is therefore a recognition written into the law itself that such a
marriage, although void ab initio, may still produce legal consequences. Among these legal
consequences is incurring criminal liability for bigamy. To hold otherwise would render the States
penal laws on bigamy completely nugatory, and allow individuals to deliberately ensure that each
marital contract be flawed in some manner, and to thus escape the consequences of contracting
multiple marriages, while beguiling throngs of hapless women with the promise of futurity and
commitment.

As such, we rule that the third and fourth requisites for the crime of bigamy are present in this case,
and affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

As a final point, we note that based on the evidence on record, petitioner contracted marriage a third
time, while his marriages to Villareyes and Ancajas were both still subsisting. Although this is
irrelevant in the determination of the accuseds guilt for purposes of this particular case, the act of the
accused displays a deliberate disregard for the sanctity of marriage, and the State does not look
kindly on such activities. Marriage is a special contract, the key characteristic of which is its
permanence. When an individual manifests a deliberate pattern of flouting the foundation of the
States basic social institution, the States criminal laws on bigamy step in.

Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the penalty for the crime of bigamy is
prision mayor, which has a duration of six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years. There being
neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, the same shall be imposed in its medium period.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, petitioner shall be entitled to a minimum term, to be taken
from the penalty next lower in degree, i.e., prision correccional which has a duration of six (6) months
and one (1) day to six (6) years. Hence, the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the decision of the
trial court which sentenced petitioner to suffer an indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2)
months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as
maximum.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition for review is DENIED. The assailed
decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 21636, convicting petitioner Veronico Tenebro of
the crime of Bigamy and sentencing him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two
(2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor,
as maximum, is AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Puno, J., join the opinion of J. Vitug.
Vitug, J., see separate opinion.
Quisumbing, J., join the dissent in view of void nuptia.
Carpio, J., see dissenting opinion.
Austria-Martinez, J., join the dissent of J. Carpio.
Carpio-Morales, J., join the dissent of J. Carpio.
Tinga, J., join the dissent of J. Carpio.
Callejo, Sr., J., see separate dissent.

SEPARATE OPINION>

VITUG, J.:

Veronico Tenebro has been charged with bigamy for contracting, while still being married to Hilda
Villareyes, a second marriage with private complainant Leticia Ancajas. Tenebro argues that since his
second marriage with Ancajas has ultimately been declared void ab initio on the ground of the latters
psychological incapacity, he should be acquitted for the crime of bigamy.

The offense of bigamy is committed when one contracts "a second or subsequent marriage before
the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared
presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings". 1 Bigamy
presupposes a valid prior marriage and a subsequent marriage, contracted during the subsistence of
the prior union, which would have been binding were it not for its being bigamous.

Would the absolute nullity of either the first or the second marriage, prior to its judicial declaration as
being void, constitute a valid defense in a criminal action for bigamy?
I believe that, except for a void marriage on account of the psychological incapacity of a party or both
parties to the marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code (as so hereinafter explained), the answer
must be in the affirmative. Void marriages are inexistent from the very beginning, and no judicial
decree is required to establish their nullity.2 As early as the case of People vs. Aragon3 this Court has
underscored the fact that the Revised Penal Code itself does not, unlike the rule then prevailing in
Spain, require the judicial declaration of nullity of a prior void marriage before it can be raised by way
of a defense in a criminal case for bigamy. Had the law contemplated otherwise, said the Court, " an
express provision to that effect would or should have been inserted in the law, (but that in) its
absence, (the courts) are bound by (the) rule of strict interpretation" of penal statutes. In contrast to a
voidable marriage which legally exists until judicially annulled (and, therefore, not a defense in a
bigamy charge if the second marriage were contracted prior to the decree of annulment) 4 the
complete nullity, however, of a previously contracted marriage, being void ab initio and legally
inexistent, can outrightly be defense in an indictment of bigamy.

It has been held that, by virtue of Article 40 of the Family Code, a person may be convicted of bigamy
although the first marriage is ultimately adjudged void ab initio if, at the time the second marriage is
contracted, there has as yet no judicial declaration of nullity of the prior marriage. 5 I maintain strong
reservations to this ruling. Article 40 of the Family Code reads:

"Article 40. The absolute nullity of the previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage
on the basis solely of the final judgment declaring such previous marriage void."

It is only "for purpose of remarriage" that the law has expressed that the absolute nullity of the
previous marriage may be invoked "on the basis solely of the final judgment declaring such previous
marriage void." It may not be amiss to state that under the regime of the Civil Code of 1950, the
Supreme Court, in Wiegel vs. Judge Sempio-Diy,6 has held that a subsequent marriage of one of the
spouses of a prior void marriage is itself (the subsequent marriage) void if it were contracted before a
judicial declaration of nullity of the previous marriage. Although this pronouncement has been
abandoned in a later decision of the court in Yap vs. Court of Appeals, 7 the Family Code, however
has seen it fit to adopt the Wiegel rule but only for purpose of remarriage which is just to say that the
subsequent marriage shall itself be considered void. There is no clear indication to conclude that the
Family Code has amended or intended to amend the Revised penal Code or to abandon the settled
and prevailing jurisprudence on the matter.8

A void marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code is a class by itself. The provision has been from
Canon law primarily to reconcile the grounds for nullity of marriage under civil law with those of
church laws.9 The "psychological incapacity to comply" with the essential marital obligations of the
spouses is completely distinct from other grounds for nullity which are confined to the essential or
formal requisites of a marriage, such as lack of legal capacity or disqualification of the contracting
parties, want of consent, absence of a marriage license, or the like.

The effects of a marriage attended by psychological incapacity of a party or the parties thereto may
be said to have the earmarks of a voidable, more than a void, marriage, remaining to be valid until it
is judicially decreed to be a nullity. Thus, Article 54 of the Family Code considers children conceived
or born of such a void marriage before its judicial declaration of nullity to be legitimate similar to the
rule on a voidable marriage. It is expected, even as I believe it safe to assume, that the spouses
rights and obligations, property regime and successional rights would continue unaffected, as if it
were a voidable marriage, unless and until the marriage is judicially declared void for basically two
reasons: First, psychological incapacity, a newly-added ground for the nullity of a marriage under the
Family Code, breaches neither the essential nor the formal requisites of a valid marriages; 10 and
second, unlike the other grounds for nullity of marriage (i.e., relationship, minority of the parties, lack
of license, mistake in the identity of the parties) which are capable of relatively easy demonstration,
psychological incapacity, however, being a mental state, may not so readily be as evident. 11 It would
have been logical for the Family Code to consider such a marriage explicitly voidable rather than void
if it were not for apparent attempt to make it closely coincide with the Canon Law rules and
nomenclature.

Indeed, a void marriage due to psychological incapacity appears to merely differ from a voidable
marriage in that, unlike the latter, it is not convalidated by either cohabitation or prescription. It might
be recalled that prior to republic Act No. 8533, further amending the Family Code, an action or
defense of absolute nullity of marriage falling under Article 36, celebrated before the effectivity of the
Code, could prescribe in ten years following the effectivity of the Family Code. The initial provision of
the ten-year period of prescription seems to betray a real consciousness by the framers that
marriages falling under Article 36 are truly meant to be inexistent.

Considerations, both logical and practical, would point to the fact that a "void" marriage due to
psychological incapacity remains, for all intents and purposes, to be binding and efficacious until
judicially declared otherwise. Without such marriage having first been declared a nullity (or otherwise
dissolved), a subsequent marriage could constitute bigamy. Thus, a civil case questioning the validity
of the first marriage would not be a prejudicial issue much in the same way that a civil case assailing
a prior "voidable" marriage (being valid until annulled) would not be a prejudicial question to the
prosecution of a criminal offense for bigamy.

In cases where the second marriage is void on grounds other than the existence of the first marriage,
this Court has declared in a line of cases that no crime of bigamy is committed. 12 The Court has
explained that for a person to be held guilty of bigamy, it must, even as it needs only, be shown that
the subsequent marriage has all the essential elements of a valid marriage, were it not for the
subsisting first union. Hence, where it is established that the second marriage has been contracted
without the necessary license and thus void,13 or that the accused is merely forced to enter into the
second (voidable) marriage,14 no criminal liability for the crime of bigamy can attach. In both and like
instances, however, the lapses refers to the elements required for contracting a valid marriage. If,
then, all the requisites for the perfection of the contract marriage, freely and voluntarily entered into,
are shown to be extant, the criminal liability for bigamy can unassailably arise.

Since psychological incapacity, upon the other hand, does not relate to an infirmity in the elements,
either essential or formal, in contacting a valid marriage, the declaration of nullity subsequent to the
bigamous marriage due to that ground, without more, would be inconsequential in a criminal charge
for bigamy. The judicial declaration of nullity of a bigamous marriage on the ground of psychological
incapacity merely nullifies the effects of the marriage but it does not negate the fact of perfection of
the bigamous marriage. Its subsequent declaration of nullity dissolves the relationship of the spouses
but, being alien to the requisite conditions for the perfection of the marriage, the judgment of the court
is no defense on the part of the offender who had entered into it.

Accordingly, I vote to dismiss the petition.

Footnotes
1 TSN, 24 July 1995, pp. 4-11.
2 Record, p. 78.
3 Record, p. 84.
4 TSN, 24 July 1995, pp. 11-12; TSN, 13 September 1995, pp. 6-9.
5 Record, pp. 1-2.
6 Id., p. 66.
7 TSN, 11 December 1996, p. 6.
8 Id., pp. 6-7.
9 Id., pp. 7-8.
10 Penned by Judge Rumoldo F. Fernandez, Rollo, pp. 156-162.
11 Rollo, p. 7.
12 Reyes, L.B., THE REVISED PENAL CODE. Book Two, 14th ed., 1998, p. 907.
13
Rollo, pp. 7-16.
14 Id., pp. 16-18.
15 Record, p. 85.
16 Record, p. 84.
17 Record, p. 148.
18 Record, p. 149.
19 Mariategui v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 57062, 24 January 1992, 205 SCRA 337, 343,
citing People v. Borromeo, 218 Phil. 122, 126.
20Decision dated November 20, 1995, penned by Judge Epifanio C. Llano of the Regional
Trial Court of Argao, Cebu, Branch 26, in Civil Case No. AV-885 (Annex "C", Rollo, p. 43).
21
Record, pp. 16-18.
22 Family Code, Art. 41.
23 Family Code, Art. 2.
24Family Code, Art. 3; Vitug, Civil Law and Jurisprudence, 1993 Edition, pp. 119-120, citing
the Family Code, Articles 2 and 3.
25Art. 37. Marriages between the following are incestuous and void from the beginning,
whether the relationship between the parties be legitimate or illegitimate:

(1) Between ascendants and descendants of any degree; and


(2) Between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half-blood.
26 Art. 38. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning for reasons of public policy:

(1) Between collateral blood relatives; whether legitimate or illegitimate, up to the fourth
civil degree;

(2) Between step-parents and stepchildren;

(3) Between parents-in-law and children-in-law;

(4) Between the adopting parent and the adopted child;

(5) Between the surviving spouse of the adopting parent and the adopted child;

(6) Between the surviving spouse of the adopted child and the adopter;

(7) Between an adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter;

(8) Between adopted children of the same adopter; and

(9) Between parties where one, with the intention to marry the other, killed that other
persons spouse or his or her own spouse.
27 Valdez v. Regional Trial Court, Branch 102, Quezon City, G.R. No. 122749, 31 July 1996.
28 Family Code, Art. 54.

VITUG,
1 Article 349, Revised Penal Code.
2 Odayat vs. Amante, 77 SCRA 338; see also People vs Aragon, 100 Phil. 1033.
3 100 Phil 1033.
4 See People vs. Mendoza, 50 O.G. 4767.
5 Mercado vs. Tan, 337 SCRA 122; Te vs. Court of Appeals, 346 SCRA 327.
6 143 SCRA 499.
7 145 SCRA 229.
8 I might add, parenthetically, that the necessity of a judicial declaration of nullity of a void
marriage even for purposes of remarriage should refer merely to cases when it can be said
that the marriage, at least ostensibly, has taken place. For instance, no such judicial
declaration of nullity would yet be required when either or both parties have not at all given
consent thereto that verily results in a "no" marriage situation or when the prior "marriage" is
between persons of the same sex.
9 Deliberations of the family Code Revision Committee, 9 August 1996.
10 Art. 2. No marriage shall be valid, unless these essential requisites are present:

(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and

(2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer. (53a)

Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:

(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;

(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this
Title; and

(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the
contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration
that they take other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two
witnesses of legal age. (53a, 55a)

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).

A defect in any of the essential requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage but
the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and
administratively liable. (n)
11One might observe that insanity, which could be worse than psychological incapacity merely
renders a marriage voidable, not void.
12
De la cruz vs. Hon. Ejercito, G.R. No. L-40895, 6 November 1975, 68 SCRA 1; Merced vs.
Hon. Diez, et. Al., 109 Phil 155; Zapanta vs. hon. Montessa, et. al., 144 Phil. 1227; People vs.
Mora Dumpo, 62 Phil 246; People vs. Lara, 51 O. G. 4079.
13 People vs. Lara, supra.
14 De la Cruz vs. Hon. Ejercito, supra; Merced vs. Hon. Diez, supra.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 164435 September 29, 2009

VICTORIA S. JARILLO, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

This resolves the Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, praying that
the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), dated July 21, 2003, and its Resolution 2 dated July 8,
2004, be reversed and set aside.

On May 31, 2000, petitioner was charged with Bigamy before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Pasay City, Branch 117 under the following Information in Criminal Case No. 00-08-11:

INFORMATION

The undersigned Assistant City Prosecutor accuses VICTORIA S. JARILLO of the crime of BIGAMY,
committed as follows:
That on or about the 26th day of November 1979, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Victoria S. Jarillo, being
previously united in lawful marriage with Rafael M. Alocillo, and without the said marriage having
been legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second
marriage with Emmanuel Ebora Santos Uy which marriage was only discovered on January 12, 1999.

Contrary to law.

On July 14, 2000, petitioner pleaded not guilty during arraignment and, thereafter, trial proceeded.

The undisputed facts, as accurately summarized by the CA, are as follows.

On May 24, 1974, Victoria Jarillo and Rafael Alocillo were married in a civil wedding ceremony
solemnized by Hon. Monico C. Tanyag, then Municipal Mayor of Taguig, Rizal (Exhs. A, A-1, H, H-1,
H-2, O, O-1, pp. 20-21, TSN dated November 17, 2000).

On May 4, 1975, Victoria Jarillo and Rafael Alocillo again celebrated marriage in a church wedding
ceremony before Rev. Angel Resultay in San Carlos City, Pangasinan (pp. 25-26, TSN dated
November 17, 2000). Out of the marital union, appellant begot a daughter, Rachelle J. Alocillo on
October 29, 1975 (Exhs. F, R, R-1).

Appellant Victoria Jarillo thereafter contracted a subsequent marriage with Emmanuel Ebora Santos
Uy, at the City Court of Pasay City, Branch 1, before then Hon. Judge Nicanor Cruz on November 26,
1979 (Exhs. D, J, J-1, Q, Q-1, pp. 15-18, TSN dated November 22, 2000).

On April 16, 1995, appellant and Emmanuel Uy exchanged marital vows anew in a church wedding in
Manila (Exh. E).

In 1999, Emmanuel Uy filed against the appellant Civil Case No. 99-93582 for annulment of marriage
before the Regional Trial Court of Manila.

Thereafter, appellant Jarillo was charged with bigamy before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City x
x x.

xxxx

Parenthetically, accused-appellant filed against Alocillo, on October 5, 2000, before the Regional Trial
Court of Makati, Civil Case No. 00-1217, for declaration of nullity of their marriage.

On July 9, 2001, the court a quo promulgated the assailed decision, the dispositive portion of which
states:

WHEREFORE, upon the foregoing premises, this court hereby finds accused Victoria Soriano Jarillo
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of BIGAMY.

Accordingly, said accused is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) YEARS
of prision correccional, as minimum, to TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor, as maximum.

This court makes no pronouncement on the civil aspect of this case, such as the nullity of accuseds
bigamous marriage to Uy and its effect on their children and their property. This aspect is being
determined by the Regional Trial Court of Manila in Civil Case No. 99-93582.
Costs against the accused.

The motion for reconsideration was likewise denied by the same court in that assailed Order dated 2
August 2001.3

For her defense, petitioner insisted that (1) her 1974 and 1975 marriages to Alocillo were null and
void because Alocillo was allegedly still married to a certain Loretta Tillman at the time of the
celebration of their marriage; (2) her marriages to both Alocillo and Uy were null and void for lack of a
valid marriage license; and (3) the action had prescribed, since Uy knew about her marriage to
Alocillo as far back as 1978.

On appeal to the CA, petitioners conviction was affirmed in toto. In its Decision dated July 21, 2003,
the CA held that petitioner committed bigamy when she contracted marriage with Emmanuel Santos
Uy because, at that time, her marriage to Rafael Alocillo had not yet been declared null and void by
the court. This being so, the presumption is, her previous marriage to Alocillo was still existing at the
time of her marriage to Uy. The CA also struck down, for lack of sufficient evidence, petitioners
contentions that her marriages were celebrated without a marriage license, and that Uy had notice of
her previous marriage as far back as 1978.

In the meantime, the RTC of Makati City, Branch 140, rendered a Decision dated March 28, 2003,
declaring petitioners 1974 and 1975 marriages to Alocillo null and void ab initio on the ground of
Alocillos psychological incapacity. Said decision became final and executory on July 9, 2003. In her
motion for reconsideration, petitioner invoked said declaration of nullity as a ground for the reversal of
her conviction. However, in its Resolution dated July 8, 2004, the CA, citing Tenebro v. Court of
Appeals,4 denied reconsideration and ruled that "[t]he subsequent declaration of nullity of her first
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, while it retroacts to the date of the celebration of
the marriage insofar as the vinculum between the spouses is concerned, the said marriage is not
without legal consequences, among which is incurring criminal liability for bigamy." 5

Hence, the present petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court where
petitioner alleges that:

V.1. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN PROCEEDING WITH THE
CASE DESPITE THE PENDENCY OF A CASE WHICH IS PREJUDICIAL TO THE OUTCOME OF
THIS CASE.

V.2. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN AFFIRMING THE


CONVICTION OF PETITIONER FOR THE CRIME OF BIGAMY DESPITE THE SUPERVENING
PROOF THAT THE FIRST TWO MARRIAGES OF PETITIONER TO ALOCILLO HAD BEEN
DECLARED BY FINAL JUDGMENT NULL AND VOID AB INITIO.

V.3. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT CONSIDERING


THAT THERE IS A PENDING ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE AT THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
BRANCH 38 BETWEEN EMMANUEL SANTOS AND VICTORIA S. JARILLO.

V.4. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT CONSIDERING


THAT THE INSTANT CASE OF BIGAMY HAD ALREADY PRESCRIBED.

V.5. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT CONSIDERING


THAT THE MARRIAGE OF VICTORIA JARILLO AND EMMANUEL SANTOS UY HAS NO VALID
MARRIAGE LICENSE.
V.6. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT ACQUITTING THE
PETITIONER BUT IMPOSED AN ERRONEOUS PENALTY UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE
AND THE INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW.

The first, second, third and fifth issues, being closely related, shall be discussed jointly. It is true that
right after the presentation of the prosecution evidence, petitioner moved for suspension of the
proceedings on the ground of the pendency of the petition for declaration of nullity of petitioners
marriages to Alocillo, which, petitioner claimed involved a prejudicial question. In her appeal, she also
asserted that the petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage to Uy, initiated by the latter, was a
ground for suspension of the proceedings. The RTC denied her motion for suspension, while the CA
struck down her arguments. In Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,6 the Court categorically stated that:

x x x as ruled in Landicho v. Relova, he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial
declaration of nullity of the first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy, and in
such a case the criminal case may not be suspended on the ground of the pendency of a civil case
for declaration of nullity. x x x

xxxx

x x x The reason is that, without a judicial declaration of its nullity, the first marriage is presumed to be
subsisting. In the case at bar, respondent was for all legal intents and purposes regarded as a
married man at the time he contracted his second marriage with petitioner. Against this legal
backdrop, any decision in the civil action for nullity would not erase the fact that respondent entered
into a second marriage during the subsistence of a first marriage. Thus, a decision in the civil case is
not essential to the determination of the criminal charge. It is, therefore, not a prejudicial question. x x
x7

The foregoing ruling had been reiterated in Abunado v. People,8 where it was held thus:

The subsequent judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage was immaterial because prior to
the declaration of nullity, the crime had already been consummated. Moreover, petitioners assertion
would only delay the prosecution of bigamy cases considering that an accused could simply file a
petition to declare his previous marriage void and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial
question in the criminal case. We cannot allow that.

The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioners marriage to [private complainant] had no
bearing upon the determination of petitioners innocence or guilt in the criminal case for bigamy,
because all that is required for the charge of bigamy to prosper is that the first marriage be subsisting
at the time the second marriage is contracted.

Thus, under the law, a marriage, even one which is void or voidable, shall be deemed valid until
declared otherwise in a judicial proceeding. In this case, even if petitioner eventually obtained a
declaration that his first marriage was void ab initio, the point is, both the first and the second
marriage were subsisting before the first marriage was annulled. 9

For the very same reasons elucidated in the above-quoted cases, petitioners conviction of the crime
of bigamy must be affirmed. The subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of petitioners two
marriages to Alocillo cannot be considered a valid defense in the crime of bigamy. The moment
petitioner contracted a second marriage without the previous one having been judicially declared null
and void, the crime of bigamy was already consummated because at the time of the celebration of the
second marriage, petitioners marriage to Alocillo, which had not yet been declared null and void by a
court of competent jurisdiction, was deemed valid and subsisting. Neither would a judicial declaration
of the nullity of petitioners marriage to Uy make any difference. 10 As held in Tenebro, "[s]ince a
marriage contracted during the subsistence of a valid marriage is automatically void, the nullity of this
second marriage is not per se an argument for the avoidance of criminal liability for bigamy. x x x A
plain reading of [Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code], therefore, would indicate that the provision
penalizes the mere act of contracting a second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a
valid marriage."11

Petitioners defense of prescription is likewise doomed to fail.

Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, bigamy is punishable by prision mayor, which is
classified under Article 25 of said Code as an afflictive penalty. Article 90 thereof provides that
"[c]rimes punishable by other afflictive penalties shall prescribe in fifteen years," while Article 91
states that "[t]he period of prescription shall commence to run from the day on which the crime is
discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents x x x ."

Petitioner asserts that Uy had known of her previous marriage as far back as 1978; hence,
prescription began to run from that time. Note that the party who raises a fact as a matter of defense
has the burden of proving it. The defendant or accused is obliged to produce evidence in support of
its defense; otherwise, failing to establish the same, it remains self-serving.12 Thus, for petitioners
defense of prescription to prosper, it was incumbent upon her to adduce evidence that as early as the
year 1978, Uy already obtained knowledge of her previous marriage.

A close examination of the records of the case reveals that petitioner utterly failed to present sufficient
evidence to support her allegation. Petitioners testimony that her own mother told Uy in 1978 that
she (petitioner) is already married to Alocillo does not inspire belief, as it is totally unsupported by any
corroborating evidence. The trial court correctly observed that:

x x x She did not call to the witness stand her mother the person who allegedly actually told Uy
about her previous marriage to Alocillo. It must be obvious that without the confirmatory testimony of
her mother, the attribution of the latter of any act which she allegedly did is hearsay. 13

As ruled in Sermonia v. Court of Appeals,14 "the prescriptive period for the crime of bigamy should be
counted only from the day on which the said crime was discovered by the offended party, the
authorities or their [agents]," as opposed to being counted from the date of registration of the
bigamous marriage.15 Since petitioner failed to prove with certainty that the period of prescription
began to run as of 1978, her defense is, therefore, ineffectual.1avvphi1

Finally, petitioner avers that the RTC and the CA imposed an erroneous penalty under the Revised
Penal Code. Again, petitioner is mistaken.

The Indeterminate Sentence Law provides that the accused shall be sentenced to an indeterminate
penalty, the maximum term of which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could
be properly imposed under the Revised Penal Code, and the minimum of which shall be within the
range of the penalty next lower than that prescribed by the Code for the offense, without first
considering any modifying circumstance attendant to the commission of the crime. The Indeterminate
Sentence Law leaves it entirely within the sound discretion of the court to determine the minimum
penalty, as long as it is anywhere within the range of the penalty next lower without any reference to
the periods into which it might be subdivided. The modifying circumstances are considered only in the
imposition of the maximum term of the indeterminate sentence. 16

Applying the foregoing rule, it is clear that the penalty imposed on petitioner is proper. Under Article
349 of the Revised Penal Code, the imposable penalty for bigamy is prision mayor. The penalty next
lower is prision correccional, which ranges from 6 months and 1 day to 6 years. The minimum penalty
of six years imposed by the trial court is, therefore, correct as it is still within the duration of prision
correccional. There being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances proven in this case, the
prescribed penalty of prision mayor should be imposed in its medium period, which is from 8 years
and 1 day to 10 years. Again, the trial court correctly imposed a maximum penalty of 10 years.

However, for humanitarian purposes, and considering that petitioners marriage to Alocillo has after
all been declared by final judgment17 to be void ab initio on account of the latters psychological
incapacity, by reason of which, petitioner was subjected to manipulative abuse, the Court deems it
proper to reduce the penalty imposed by the lower courts. Thus, petitioner should be sentenced to
suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from Two (2) years, Four (4) months and One (1) day
of prision correccional, as minimum, to 8 years and 1 day of prision mayor, as maximum.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of
Appeals dated July 21, 2003, and its Resolution dated July 8, 2004 are hereby MODIFIED as to the
penalty imposed, but AFFIRMED in all other respects. Petitioner is sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from Two (2) years, Four (4) months and One (1) day of
prision correccional, as minimum, to Eight (8) years and One (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum.

SO ORDERED.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Third Division, Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairpersons Attestation, I
certify that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Footnotes
1
Penned by Associate Justice Bernardo P. Abesamis, with Associate Justices Jose L. Sabio,
Jr. and Jose C. Mendoza, concurring; rollo, pp. 8-21.
2Penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr., with Associate Justices Mariano C. del
Castillo and Jose C. Mendoza, concurring; rollo, pp. 22-23.
3 Rollo, pp. 9-10.
4 467 Phil. 723 (2004).
5 CA rollo, p. 404.
6
391 Phil. 648 (2000).
7 Id. at 655-657. (Emphasis supplied.)
8 G.R. No. 159218, March 30, 2004, 426 SCRA 562.
9 Id. at 567-568. (Emphasis supplied.)
10 Abunado v. People, supra note 8; Tenebro v. Court of Appeals, supra note 4, at 752.
11 Tenebro v. Court of Appeals, supra, at 742.
12Prudential Guarantee and Assurance, Inc. v. Trans-Asia Shipping Lines, Inc., G.R. No.
151890, June 20, 2006, 491 SCRA 411, 433.
13 Records, p. 383.
14 G.R. No. 109454, June 14, 1994, 233 SCRA 155.
15 Id. at 161.
16 Abunado v. People, supra note 8, at 568.
17See Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City in Civil Case No. 00-1217, CA rollo,
pp. 343-347.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 149498 May 20, 2004

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
LOLITA QUINTERO-HAMANO, respondent.

DECISION

CORONA, J.:

Before us is a petition for review of the decision1 dated August 20, 2001 of the Court of
Appeals2 affirming the decision3 dated August 28, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Rizal, Branch
72, declaring as null and void the marriage contracted between herein respondent Lolita M. Quintero-
Hamano and her husband Toshio Hamano.

On June 17, 1996, respondent Lolita Quintero-Hamano filed a complaint for declaration of nullity of
her marriage to her husband Toshio Hamano, a Japanese national, on the ground of psychological
incapacity.

Respondent alleged that in October 1986, she and Toshio started a common-law relationship in
Japan. They later lived in the Philippines for a month. Thereafter, Toshio went back to Japan and
stayed there for half of 1987. On November 16, 1987, she gave birth to their child.

On January 14, 1988, she and Toshio were married by Judge Isauro M. Balderia of the Municipal
Trial Court of Bacoor, Cavite. Unknown to respondent, Toshio was psychologically incapacitated to
assume his marital responsibilities, which incapacity became manifest only after the marriage. One
month after their marriage, Toshio returned to Japan and promised to return by Christmas to
celebrate the holidays with his family. After sending money to respondent for two months, Toshio
stopped giving financial support. She wrote him several times but he never responded. Sometime in
1991, respondent learned from her friends that Toshio visited the Philippines but he did not bother to
see her and their child.

The summons issued to Toshio remained unserved because he was no longer residing at his given
address. Consequently, on July 8, 1996, respondent filed an ex parte motion for leave to effect
service of summons by publication. The trial court granted the motion on July 12, 1996. In August
1996, the summons, accompanied by a copy of the petition, was published in a newspaper of general
circulation giving Toshio 15 days to file his answer. Because Toshio failed to file a responsive
pleading after the lapse of 60 days from publication, respondent filed a motion dated November 5,
1996 to refer the case to the prosecutor for investigation. The trial court granted the motion on
November 7, 1996.

On November 20, 1996, prosecutor Rolando I. Gonzales filed a report finding that no collusion
existed between the parties. He prayed that the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor be allowed to
intervene to ensure that the evidence submitted was not fabricated. On February 13, 1997, the trial
court granted respondents motion to present her evidence ex parte. She then testified on how Toshio
abandoned his family. She thereafter offered documentary evidence to support her testimony.
On August 28, 1997, the trial court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which read:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the marriage between petitioner Lolita M. Quintero-


Hamano and Toshio Hamano, is hereby declared NULL and VOID.

The Civil Register of Bacoor, Cavite and the National Statistics Office are ordered to make
proper entries into the records of the afore-named parties pursuant to this judgment of the
Court.

SO ORDERED.4

In declaring the nullity of the marriage on the ground of Toshios psychological incapacity, the trial
court held that:

It is clear from the records of