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Republic of the Philippines Martini’s employer who informed her that he had already disembarked on even

SUPREME COURT month. She soon found out that Martini was in Alabang, Muntinlupa.
Manila When Lynnette and Martini finally met in Cebu City, he told her that they are not
SECOND DIVISION compatible and should just part ways.
G.R. No. 171042 June 30, 2008 The last time the couple talked was on October 14, 1999 when Martini was at the
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) about to depart for abroad. Since then,
vs. Martini never communicated with Lynnette. On investigation, Lynnette learned that
LYNNETTE CABANTUG-BAGUIO, respondent. Martini declared in his employment records that he was "single" and named his
DECISION mother as principal allottee.9
CARPIO MORALES, J.: Hence, Lynnette’s filing of the complaint for declaration of nullification of marriage.
From the Decision of the Court of Appeals which affirmed that of the Regional Trial Aside from her deposition,10 Lynnette presented her Certificate of
Court of Cebu, Branch 24 nullifying the marriage of respondent, Lynnette Cabantug- Marriage,11 Martini’s undated Seafarer Information Sheet,12 the letter of clinical
Baguio (Lynnette), to Martini Dico Baguio (Martini), the Republic through the psychologist Dr. Andres S. Gerong (Dr. Gerong) to Martini requesting for a personal
Office of the Solicitor General filed the present petition for review. interview,13 Dr. Gerong’s testimony,14 and the Psychological Evaluation
Lynnette and Martini contracted marriage on August 12, 1997. Less than three years Report15 prepared by Dr. Gerong after his interview of Lynnette and her sister Dr.
later or on October 12, 2000, Lynnette filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Rosemarie Sistoza.16
of Cebu City a complaint1 for declaration of nullity of marriage, docketed as Civil In the Psychological Evaluation Report, Dr. Gerong noted as follows:
Case No. CEB 25700, on the ground of Martini’s psychological incapacity to comply 1. The couples [sic] were married on August 12, 1997 in Danao City, Cebu[;]
with the essential marital duties and obligations under Articles 68-702 of the Family 2. After the wedding the couple stayed at the petitioner’s residence, but the defendant
Code. would always go home to his parents in Looc, Lapu-lapu City;
Despite service of summons upon Martini, he never filed any responsive pleading to 3. Defendant did not show any directions to establish their home, [is] happy-go-
the complaint.3 No collusion was established between the parties.4 Upon the lucky, and would just see the plaintiff for his physical and sexual needs;
authority of the Solicitor General, the provincial prosecutor of Cebu City appeared in 4. Plaintiff felt being used, exploited, uncared for, taken for granted, abandoned;
the case under the former’s supervision and control.5 5. Defendant’s parents appeared to control the son to the extent of meddling [with]
From the deposition of Lynnette taken before Branch Clerk of Court Atty. Monalila the finances coming from the income as a seaman;
S. Tecson on January 10, 2001,6 the following are gathered: 6. Defendant never showed respect for his parents-in-law;
Lynnette and Martini, a seaman working overseas, became pen pals in 1995. 7. Parents of the defendant insisted [on] a co-allot[ment without] any protestations
In 1996, the two met in person during Martini’s vacation after the expiration of his from the plaintiff who has been generous all the time;
contract on board an ocean-going vessel. 8. Defendant remained immature, could not stand by his wife and would still depend
On August 12, 1997, Martini, then 32, and Lynnette, then 34, contracted upon the decisions of his parents and without any personal directions as to what to do
marriage,7 following which they moved to the house of Lynnette’s parents at 33-B with his family;
La Guardia Extension, Lahug, Cebu City. Martini, however, stayed there only on 9. Strictly speaking, the couple never really live[d] together as husband and wife like
weekends, and during weekdays he stayed with his parents in Looc, Lapu-lapu City. any ordinary couple17(underscoring supplied),
While Lynnette suggested that the two of them stay in the house of Martini’s parents, and concluded that
Martini disagreed, claiming that there were many already living with his parents. Defendant shows immature personality disorder, dependency patterns, and self-
Lynnette noticed that every time she conversed with Martini, he always mentioned centered motives. Th[ese are] the core personality dysfunctions noted and have been
his mother and his family, and she soon realized that he was a "mama’s boy." And exaggeratedly expressed which are detrimental to the familial well-being;
she noticed too that when she would call up Martini at his parent’s house and his The situation is serious, grave, existing already during the adolescent period, and
mother was the one who answered the call, she would deny that he was around. incurable because personality and character are stable whether or not it is normal and
In 1998, after Martini again returned following an almost 10-month contract adaptive.
overseas,8 he stayed with Lynnette. When in 1999 Martini again disembarked, he xxxx
stayed with his parents. The defendant is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
On the insistence of his mother, Martini’s monetary allotment was shared equally obligations in marriage and family.18 (Underscoring supplied)
between her and Lynnette. Expounding on his findings, Dr. Gerong testified, thus:
Lynnette had since January 1999 not heard from Martini. And since April 1999, ATTY. SINGCO: (To witness)
Lynnette stopped receiving her share of the allotment, drawing her to inquire from
Q: In gist, what were your findings as to the psychological capacity or incapacity of psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination for the person concerned
defendant Martini Dico Baguio? need not be resorted to."26
A: x x x [T]o sum it up, the synopsis of the findings, the defendant husband appeared Therefore, the oral deposition [of Lynette] and the Psychological Evaluation
to be [a] dependent person to his family and unable to [sever . . .] the connection Report by Dr. Andres S. Gerong, Ph.D. as Clinical Psychologist declaring the
being a married man and to establish a domicile for his family and to support his defendant psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations in
family. marriage and family life was sufficient for US to believe that undeniably the
xxxx defendant suffers psychological incapacity.27 (Italics in the original; emphasis and
ATTY. SINGCO: (To witness) underscoring supplied)
Q: Dr. Gerong, how grave or serious is the psychological incapacity of the On the Solicitor General’s contention that Martini’s abandonment of Lynnette is a
defendant? ground for legal separation and not for declaration of nullity of marriage, 28 and that
A: Being, I would say in our popular parlance, "mama’s boy" as alleged, that Martini’s alleged personality traits are not of the nature contemplated by Article 36
will endanger the integrity of the marriage because instead of establishing a of the Family Code,29 the Court of Appeals declared:
permanent conjugal relationship with the wife the husband-defendant would remain x x x WE note that it was not the abandonment which was the ground relied upon by
dependent on his family. the plaintiff-appellee but the defendant’s being a mama’s boy.30
xxxx xxxx
ATTY. SINGCO: (To witness) Being a Mama’s Boy, his uncaring attitude towards his wife, declaring himself
Q: Okay, in terms of the chances that this incapacity will be cured, what are the single and naming his mother as the beneficiary, spending more time with his
chances, if any? family and less with his wife and ultimately, abandoning her manifested defendant’s
A: As to curability, since I am using a clinical term ["]personality or character psychological incapacity. These, to sum it all, to US are manifestations of severe
disorder or dysfunction["] and as I have said many times that the personality is stable psychological disorder rather than a mere obstinate refusal to comply with his
and pervasive over time. And if it is established as early as adolescent period and up marital obligations.31 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
to the present it has remained persistent thru the years and therefore it’s a permanent The Solicitor General’s Motion for Reconsideration32 having been denied by the
trait of the defendant-husband, therefore it’s incurable.19 (Emphasis and underscoring Court of Appeals,33 the present petition34 was filed, faulting the appellate court to
supplied) have gravely erred:
By Decision20 of January 2, 2002, Branch 24 of the Cebu City RTC found Martini I
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of . . . IN RULING THAT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION AND TESTIMONY
marriage, and that the same incapacity existed "at the time the couple exchanged OF DR. ANDRES GERONG THAT DEFENDANT IS PSYCHOLOGICALLY
their marriage vows." INCAPACITATED HAVE LEGAL BASIS.
The Solicitor General, via appeal,21 challenged before the Court of Appeals the trial II
court’s decision . . . IN FAILING TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THAT ABANDONMENT BY
. . . DECLARING THE PARTIES’ MARRIAGE NULL AND VOID, ONE’S SPOUSE IS ONLY A GROUND FOR LEGAL SEPARATION AND NOT FOR
DEFENDANTS MARTINI DICO BAGUIO’S PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY THE DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.
NOT HAVING BEEN PROVEN TO EXIST.22 III
By Decision23 of January 13, 2005, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s . . . IN RULING THAT DEFENDANT’S BEING A MAMA’S BOY IS A
decision. Addressing the Solicitor General’s argument that Dr. Gerong’s testimony MANIFESTATION OF A PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER.35 (Italics in the original)
failed to establish the cause of Martini’s psychological incapacity and to show that it The Solicitor General’s arguments persuade.
existed at the inception of the marriage,24 the Court of Appeals held: The Solicitor General argued as follows:
x x x [I]n contradiction of the Republic’s contention and its supporting above-cited Dr. Gerong merely testified that defendant’s alleged psychological incapacity (being
doctrine, this Court cites the more recent jurisprudence laid down in the case a mama’s boy) began in his adolescent stage and has remained persistent through the
of Marcos v. Marcos,25 in which the High Tribunal has foregone with the years (p. 20, Brief). Dr. Gerong did not detail this finding. He made no effort to look
requirement that the defendant should be examined by a physician or psychologist as into and testify on defendant’s past life, attitudes, habits and character to explain
aconditio sine qua non for declaration of nullity of marriage. It held thus: defendant’s alleged psychological incapacity as required by this Honorable Court in
"The x x x guidelines do not require that a physician examine the person to be the case of Republic vs. Court of Appeals and Molina, 268 SCRA 198 (1998).
declared psychologically incapacitated x x x – [w]hat is important is the presence of Again, while it is true that Dr. Gerong testified that defendant’s alleged defect is
evidence that can adequately establish the party’s psychological condition, [f]or incurable, he failed to explain why it is clinically or medically permanent. His only
indeed, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of basis for saying that it is incurable is his finding that defendant has been a mama’s
boy since his adolescence (p. 7, TSN, June 19, 2001). During the trial, Dr. Gerong "Psychological incapacity" has been elucidated on as follows:
also failed to explain in detail why the defendant’s alleged psychological incapacity The term "psychological incapacity" to be a ground for the nullity of marriage under
is grave and to discuss what kind of disorder defendant is suffering Article 36 of the Family Code, refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a
from.36 (Emphasis in the original; italics and underscoring supplied) party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so
On the doctor’s findings in his Report, the Solicitor General argued: permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the
The said findings reveal nothing in defendant’s past life and acts that shows a matrimonial bond one is about to assume. As all people may have certain quirks and
behavior pattern that would prove his alleged psychological incapacity. Dr. Gerong’s idiosyncrasies, or isolated characteristics associated with certain personality
finding that defendant’s parents are too controlling because they were made co- disorders, there is hardly a doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine
allottees of the remittances sent by their son does not prove the alleged psychological the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality
incapacity of defendant. The report likewise failed to explain the gravity of the disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give
alleged psychological incapacity of defendant and state whether or not it meaning and significance to the marriage. x x x [T]he root cause must be
incapacitates defendant from carrying out the normal and ordinary duties of marriage identified as a psychological illness, and its incapacitating nature must be fully
and family. There is likewise no explanation by Dr. Gerong why he found explained x x x.42 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
defendant’s incapacity to be incurable. This Honorable Court has held that such The mere showing of "irreconcilable differences" and "conflicting personalities"
illness must be shown to be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to does not constitute psychological incapacity.43 Nor does failure of the parties to meet
assume the essential obligation of the marriage. Such incapacity must also be shown their responsibilities and duties as married persons.
to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable and grave [Republic vs. Court It is essential that the parties to a marriage must be shown to be insensitive
of Appeals and Molina, supra]. These Dr. Gerong failed to do. to or incapable of meeting their duties and responsibilities due to some
Even when the rules have been relaxed and the personal examination of the psychological (not physical) illness,44 which insensitivity or incapacity should have
defendant by a psychiatrist or psychologist is no longer mandatory for the been existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage even if it becomes
declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, the totality of manifest only after its solemnization.45
evidence presented during trial by private respondent must stillprove the gravity, In fine, for psychological incapacity to render a marriage void ab initio, it must be
juridical antecedence, and incurability of the alleged psychological characterized by
incapacity(Marcos v. Marcos, 343 SCRA 755 [2000]; Santos v. Court of Appeals, (a) Gravity – It must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of
240 SCRA 20 [1995]). (Emphasis in the original; italics and underscoring supplied) carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage;
In fine, the Solicitor General concluded that there was no showing that Martini’s (b) Juridical Antecedence – It must be rooted in the history of the party antedating
alleged personality traits are of the nature contemplated by Article 36 of the Family the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage;
Code and the rulings of this Court in the cited cases,37 and that Martini’s and
abandonment of Lynnette constitutes only a ground for legal separation but not for (c) Incurability – It must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be
declaration of nullity of marriage.38 beyond the means of the party involved. 46
Article 36 of the Family Code on which Lynnette anchors her complaint provides Dr. Gerong found that Martini’s "personality disorders" including his being a
that "[a] marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was "mama’s boy" are "serious, grave, existing already during the adolescent period and
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of incurable" and concluded that Martini "appeared" to be dependent upon his family
marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after and unable "to establish a domicile for his family and to support his family."
its solemnization." The doctor’s findings and conclusion were derived from his interview of Lynnette
Article 36 must be read in conjunction with the other articles in the Family Code, and her sister and Lynnette’s deposition. From Lynnette’s deposition, however, it is
specifically Articles 35, 37, 38, and 41 which provide different grounds to render a gathered that Martini’s failure to establish a common life with her stems from his
marriage void ab initio, as well as Article 45 which dwell on voidable marriages, and refusal, not incapacity, to do so. It is downright incapacity, not refusal or neglect or
Article 55 on legal separation.39 Care must be observed so that these various difficulty, much less ill will,47 which renders a marriage void on the ground of
circumstances are not to be applied indiscriminately as if the law were indifferent on psychological incapacity. In another vein, how the doctor arrived at the conclusion,
the matter.40 after interviewing Lynnette and considering her deposition, that any such personality
And Article 36 should not be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond disorders of Martini have been existing since Martini’s adolescent years has not been
at the time the causes therefor manifest themselves, nor with legal separation in explained. It bears recalling that Martini and Lynnette became pen pals in 1995 and
which the grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on physical contracted marriage in 1997 when Martini was already 32 years old, far removed
violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil interdiction, drug addiction, from adolescent years.
habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment, and the like. 41
Dr. Gerong’s citing of Martini’s appointment of his mother as a beneficiary and his Republic of the Philippines
representing himself as single in his Seafarer Information Sheet, without more, as SUPREME COURT
indications of Martini’s dependence on his family amounting to his incapacity to FIRST DIVISION
fulfill his duties as a married man does not logically follow, especially given that the G.R. No. 138509 July 31, 2000
Seafarer’s Information Sheet is not even dated 48 and, therefore, there is no certainty IMELDA MARBELLA-BOBIS, petitioner,
that it was prepared after Martini contracted marriage. vs.
While the examination by a physician of a person in order to declare him/her ISAGANI D. BOBIS, respondent.
psychological incapacitated is not required, the root cause thereof must be
"medically or clinically identified." There must thus be evidence to adequately YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
establish the same. There is none such in the case at bar, however. On October 21, 1985, respondent contracted a first marriage with one Maria Dulce
The Constitution sets out a policy of protecting and strengthening the family as the B. Javier. Without said marriage having been annulled, nullified or terminated, the
basic social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family. 49 Marriage, an same respondent contracted a second marriage with petitioner Imelda Marbella-
inviolable institution protected by the State,50 cannot be dissolved at the whim of the Bobis on January 25, 1996 and allegedly a third marriage with a certain Julia Sally
parties.51 In petitions for the declaration of nullity of marriage, the burden of proof to Hernandez. Based on petitioner's complaint-affidavit, an information for bigamy was
show the nullity of marriage lies on the plaintiff.52 Any doubt should be resolved in filed against respondent on February 25, 1998, which was docketed as Criminal Case
favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution No. Q98-75611 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 226, Quezon City. Sometime
and nullity.53 thereafter, respondent initiated a civil action for the judicial declaration of absolute
As reflected above, Lynnette failed to discharge the onus probandi. While the Court nullity of his first marriage on the ground that it was celebrated without a marriage
sympathizes with her predicament, its first and foremost duty is to apply the license. Respondent then filed a motion to suspend the proceedings in the criminal
law.54 Dura lex sed lex. case for bigamy invoking the pending civil case for nullity of the first marriage as a
Lynnette’s marriage with Martini may have failed then, but it cannot be declared prejudicial question to the criminal case. The trial judge granted the motion to
void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity in light of the insufficient suspend the criminal case in an Order dated December 29, 1998. 1 Petitioner filed a
evidence presented.55 motion for reconsideration, but the same was denied.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner argues that respondent should
dated January 13, 2005 isREVERSED and SET ASIDE. Civil Case No. CEB 25700 have first obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage before
of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 24, isDISMISSED. entering into the second marriage, inasmuch as the alleged prejudicial question
SO ORDERED. justifying suspension of the bigamy case is no longer a legal truism pursuant to
Article 40 of the Family Code.2
The issue to be resolved in this petition is whether the subsequent filing of a civil
action for declaration of nullity of a previous marriage constitutes a prejudicial
question to a criminal case for bigamy.
A prejudicial question is one which arises in a case the resolution of which is a
logical antecedent of the issue involved therein.3It is a question based on a fact
distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it
determines the guilt or innocence of the accused.4 It must appear not only that the
civil case involves facts upon which the criminal action is based, but also that the
resolution of the issues raised in the civil action would necessarily be determinative
of the criminal case.5 Consequently, the defense must involve an issue similar or
intimately related to the same issue raised in the criminal action and its resolution
determinative of whether or not the latter action may proceed. 6 Its two essential
elements are:7
(a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in
the criminal action; and
(b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may
proceed.
A prejudicial question does not conclusively resolve the guilt or innocence of the to the determination of competent courts. Only when the nullity of the marriage is so
accused but simply tests the sufficiency of the allegations in the information in order declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration the
to sustain the further prosecution of the criminal case. A party who raises a presumption is that the marriage exists.13 No matter how obvious, manifest or patent
prejudicial question is deemed to have hypothetically admitted that all the essential the absence of an element is, the intervention of the courts must always be resorted
elements of a crime have been adequately alleged in the information, considering to. That is why Article 40 of the Family Code requires a "final judgment," which
that the prosecution has not yet presented a single evidence on the indictment or may only the courts can render. Thus, as ruled in Landicho v. Relova,14 he who contracts a
not yet have rested its case. A challenge of the allegations in the information on the second marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage
ground of prejudicial question is in effect a question on the merits of the criminal assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy, and in such a case the criminal case
charge through a non-criminal suit. may not be suspended on the ground of the pendency of a civil case for declaration
Article 40 of the Family Code, which was effective at the time of celebration of the of nullity. In a recent case for concubinage, we held that the pendency of a civil case
second marriage, requires a prior judicial declaration of nullity of a previous for declaration of nullity of marriage is not a prejudicial question. 15 This ruling
marriage before a party may remarry. The clear implication of this is that it is not for applies here by analogy since both crimes presuppose the subsistence of a marriage.
the parties, particularly the accused, to determine the validity or invalidity of the Ignorance of the existence of Article 40 of the Family Code cannot even be
marriage.8Whether or not the first marriage was void for lack of a license is a matter successfully invoked as an excuse.16The contracting of a marriage knowing that the
of defense because there is still no judicial declaration of its nullity at the time the requirements of the law have not been complied with or that the marriage is in
second marriage was contracted. It should be remembered that bigamy can disregard of a legal impediment is an act penalized by the Revised Penal Code. 17 The
successfully be prosecuted provided all its elements concur – two of which are a legality of a marriage is a matter of law and every person is presumed to know the
previous marriage and a subsequent marriage which would have been valid had it not law. As respondent did not obtain the judicial declaration of nullity when he entered
been for the existence at the material time of the first marriage. 9 into the second marriage, why should he be allowed to belatedly obtain that judicial
In the case at bar, respondent's clear intent is to obtain a judicial declaration of declaration in order to delay his criminal prosecution and subsequently defeat it by
nullity of his first marriage and thereafter to invoke that very same judgment to his own disobedience of the law? If he wants to raise the nullity of the previous
prevent his prosecution for bigamy. He cannot have his cake and eat it too. marriage, he can do it as a matter of defense when he presents his evidence during
Otherwise, all that an adventurous bigamist has to do is to disregard Article 40 of the the trial proper in the criminal case.
Family Code, contract a subsequent marriage and escape a bigamy charge by simply The burden of proof to show the dissolution of the first marriage before the second
claiming that the first marriage is void and that the subsequent marriage is equally marriage was contracted rests upon the defense,18 but that is a matter that can be
void for lack of a prior judicial declaration of nullity of the first. A party may even raised in the trial of the bigamy case. In the meantime, it should be stressed that not
enter into a marriage aware of the absence of a requisite - usually the marriage every defense raised in the civil action may be used as a prejudicial question to
license - and thereafter contract a subsequent marriage without obtaining a obtain the suspension of the criminal action. The lower court, therefore, erred in
declaration of nullity of the first on the assumption that the first marriage is void. suspending the criminal case for bigamy. Moreover, when respondent was indicted
Such scenario would render nugatory the provisions on bigamy. As succinctly held for bigamy, the fact that he entered into two marriage ceremonies appeared
inLandicho v. Relova:10 indubitable. It was only after he was sued by petitioner for bigamy that he thought of
(P)arties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, seeking a judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage. The obvious intent,
only competent courts having such authority. Prior to such declaration of nullity, the therefore, is that respondent merely resorted to the civil action as a potential
validity of the first marriage is beyond question. A party who contracts a second prejudicial question for the purpose of frustrating or delaying his criminal
marriage then assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy. prosecution. As has been discussed above, this cannot be done.1awphi1
Respondent alleges that the first marriage in the case before us was void for lack of a In the light of Article 40 of the Family Code, respondent, without first having
marriage license. Petitioner, on the other hand, argues that her marriage to obtained the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage, can not be said to
respondent was exempt from the requirement of a marriage license. More have validly entered into the second marriage. Per current jurisprudence, a marriage
specifically, petitioner claims that prior to their marriage, they had already attained though void still needs a judicial declaration of such fact before any party can marry
the age of majority and had been living together as husband and wife for at least five again; otherwise the second marriage will also be void.19 The reason is that, without
years.11 The issue in this case is limited to the existence of a prejudicial question, and a judicial declaration of its nullity, the first marriage is presumed to be subsisting. In
we are not called upon to resolve the validity of the first marriage. Be that as it may, the case at bar, respondent was for all legal intents and purposes regarded as a
suffice it to state that the Civil Code, under which the first marriage was celebrated, married man at the time he contracted his second marriage with petitioner.20 Against
provides that "every intendment of law or fact leans toward the validity of marriage, this legal backdrop, any decision in the civil action for nullity would not erase the
the indissolubility of the marriage bonds." 12 [] Hence, parties should not be permitted fact that respondent entered into a second marriage during the subsistence of a first
to judge for themselves the nullity of their marriage, for the same must be submitted 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. As stated above, Republic of the Philippines
respondent cannot be permitted to use his own malfeasance to defeat the criminal SUPREME COURT
action against him.21 Manila
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The order dated December 29, 1998 of THIRD DIVISION
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 226 of Quezon City is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE and the trial court is ordered to IMMEDIATELY proceed with Criminal G.R. No. 104818 September 17, 1993
Case No. Q98-75611. ROBERTO DOMINGO, petitioner,
SO ORDERED. vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and DELIA SOLEDAD AVERA represented by her
Attorney-in-Fact MOISES R. AVERA, respondents.
Jose P.O. Aliling IV for petitioner.
De Guzman, Meneses & Associates for private respondent.

ROMERO, J.:
The instant petition seeks the reversal of respondent court's ruling finding no grave
abuse of discretion in the lower court's order denying petitioner's motion to dismiss
the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage and separation of property.
On May 29, 1991, private respondent Delia Soledad A. Domingo filed a petition
before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig entitled "Declaration of Nullity of Marriage
and Separation of Property" against petitioner Roberto Domingo. The petition which
was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 1989-J alleged among others that: they
were married on November 29, 1976 at the YMCA Youth Center Bldg., as
evidenced by a Marriage Contract Registry No. 1277K-76 with Marriage License
No. 4999036 issued at Carmona, Cavite; unknown to her, he had a previous marriage
with one Emerlina dela Paz on April 25, 1969 which marriage is valid and still
existing; she came to know of the prior marriage only sometime in 1983 when
Emerlina dela Paz sued them for bigamy; from January 23 1979 up to the present,
she has been working in Saudi Arabia and she used to come to the Philippines only
when she would avail of the one-month annual vacation leave granted by her foreign
employer since 1983 up to the present, he has been unemployed and completely
dependent upon her for support and subsistence; out of her personal earnings, she
purchased real and personal properties with a total amount of approximately
P350,000.00, which are under the possession and administration of Roberto;
sometime in June 1989, while on her one-month vacation, she discovered that he was
cohabiting with another woman; she further discovered that he had been disposing of
some of her properties without her knowledge or consent; she confronted him about
this and thereafter appointed her brother Moises R. Avera as her attorney-in-fact to
take care of her properties; he failed and refused to turn over the possession and
administration of said properties to her brother/attorney-in-fact; and he is not
authorized to administer and possess the same on account of the nullity of their
marriage. The petition prayed that a temporary restraining order or a writ of
preliminary injunction be issued enjoining Roberto from exercising any act of
administration and ownership over said properties; their marriage be declared null
and void and of no force and effect; and Delia Soledad be declared the sole and
exclusive owner of all properties acquired at the time of their void marriage and such
properties be placed under the proper management and administration of the private respondent's prayer for declaration of absolute nullity of their marriage may
attorney-in-fact. be raised together with other incidents of their marriage such as the separation of
Petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the petition stated no cause of their properties. Lastly, it noted that since the Court has jurisdiction, the alleged error
action. The marriage being void ab initio, the petition for the declaration of its nullity in refusing to grant the motion to dismiss is merely one of law for which the remedy
is, therefore, superfluous and unnecessary. It added that private respondent has no ordinarily would have been to file an answer, proceed with the trial and in case of an
property which is in his possession. adverse decision, reiterate the issue on appeal. The motion for reconsideration was
On August 20, 1991, Judge Maria Alicia M. Austria issued an Order denying the subsequently denied for lack of merit. 5
motion to dismiss for lack of merit. She explained: Hence, this petition.
Movant argues that a second marriage contracted after a first marriage by a man with The two basic issues confronting the Court in the instant case are the following.
another woman is illegal and void (citing the case of Yap v. Court of Appeals, 145 First, whether or not a petition for judicial declaration of a void marriage is
SCRA 229) and no judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of a void necessary. If in the affirmative, whether the same should be filed only for purposes
marriage (citing the cases of People v. Aragon, 100 Phil. 1033; People v. Mendoza, of remarriage.
95 Phil. 845). Indeed, under the Yap case there is no dispute that the second marriage Second, whether or not SP No. 1989-J is the proper remedy of private respondent to
contracted by respondent with herein petitioner after a first marriage with another recover certain real and personal properties allegedly belonging to her exclusively.
woman is illegal and void. However, as to whether or not the second marriage should Petitioner, invoking the ruling in People v. Aragon 6 and People
7
first be judicially declared a nullity is not an issue in said case. In the case of Vda. de v. Mendoza, contends that SP. No. 1989-J for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage
Consuegra v. GSIS, the Supreme Court ruled in explicit terms, thus: and Separation of Property filed by private respondent must be dismissed for being
And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court observed that although unnecessary and superfluous. Furthermore, under his own interpretation of Article 40
the second marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while of the Family Code, he submits that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of
the first marriage was still subsisting, still there is need for judicial declaration of its marriage is required only for purposes of remarriage. Since the petition in SP No.
nullity. (37 SCRA 316, 326) 1989-J contains no allegation of private respondent's intention to remarry, said
The above ruling which is of later vintage deviated from the previous rulings of the petition should therefore, be dismissed.
Supreme Court in the aforecited cases of Aragon and Mendoza. On the other hand, private respondent insists on the necessity of a judicial
Finally, the contention of respondent movant that petitioner has no property in his declaration of the nullity of their marriage, not for purposes of remarriage, but in
possession is an issue that may be determined only after trial on the merits. 1 order to provide a basis for the separation and distribution of the properties acquired
A motion for reconsideration was filed stressing the erroneous application of Vda. de during coverture.
Consuegra v. GSIS 2 and the absence of justiciable controversy as to the nullity of the There is no question that the marriage of petitioner and private respondent celebrated
marriage. On September 11, 1991, Judge Austria denied the motion for while the former's previous marriage with one Emerlina de la Paz was still
reconsideration and gave petitioner fifteen (15) days from receipt within which to subsisting, is bigamous. As such, it is from the beginning. 8Petitioner himself does
file his answer. not dispute the absolute nullity of their marriage. 9
Instead of filing the required answer, petitioner filed a special civil action The cases of People v. Aragon and People v. Mendoza relied upon by petitioner are
of certiorari and mandamus on the ground that the lower court acted with grave cases where the Court had earlier ruled that no judicial decree is necessary to
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in denying the motion to establish the invalidity of a void, bigamous marriage. It is noteworthy to observe that
dismiss. Justice Alex Reyes, however, dissented on these occasions stating that:
On February 7, 1992, the Court of Appeals 3 dismissed the petition. It explained that Though the logician may say that where the former marriage was void there would
the case of Yap v. CA 4 cited by petitioner and that of Consuegra v. GSIS relied upon be nothing to dissolve, still it is not for the spouses to judge whether that marriage
by the lower court do not have relevance in the case at bar, there being no identity of was void or not. That judgment is reserved to the courts. . . . 10
facts because these cases dealt with the successional rights of the second wife while This dissenting opinion was adopted as the majority position in subsequent cases
the instant case prays for separation of property corollary with the declaration of involving the same issue. Thus, in Gomez v. Lipana, 11 the Court abandoned its
nullity of marriage. It observed that the separation and subsequent distribution of the earlier ruling in the Aragon and Mendoza cases. In reversing the lower court's order
properties acquired during the union can be had only upon proper determination of forfeiting the husband's share of the disputed property acquired during the second
the status of the marital relationship between said parties, whether or not the validity marriage, the Court stated that "if the nullity, or annulment of the marriage is the
of the first marriage is denied by petitioner. Furthermore, in order to avoid basis for the application of Article 1417, there is need for a judicial declaration
duplication and multiplicity of suits, the declaration of nullity of marriage may be thereof, which of course contemplates an action for that purpose."
invoked in this proceeding together with the partition and distribution of the Citing Gomez v. Lipana, the Court subsequently held in Vda. de Consuegra
properties involved. Citing Articles 48, 50 and 52 of the Family Code, it held that v. Government Service Insurance System, that "although the second marriage can be
presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while the first marriage was still The invalidity of a marriage may be invoked only on the basis of a final judgment
subsisting, still there is need for judicial declaration of such nullity." annulling the marriage or declaring the marriage void, except as provided in Article
In Tolentino v. Paras, 12 however, the Court turned around and applied 41.
the Aragon and Mendoza ruling once again. In granting the prayer of the first wife Justice Caguioa remarked that in annulment, there is no question. Justice Puno,
asking for a declaration as the lawful surviving spouse and the correction of the however, pointed out that, even if it is a judgment of annulment, they still have to
death certificate of her deceased husband, it explained that "(t)he second marriage produce the judgment.
that he contracted with private respondent during the lifetime of his first spouse is Justice Caguioa suggested that they say:
null and void from the beginning and of no force and effect. No judicial decree is The invalidity of a marriage may be invoked only on the basis of a final judgment
necessary to establish the invalidity of a void marriage." declaring the marriage invalid, except as provided in Article 41.
However, in the more recent case of Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy 13 the Court reverted to Justice Puno raised the question: When a marriage is declared invalid, does it include
the Consuegra case and held that there was "no need of introducing evidence about the annulment of a marriage and the declaration that the marriage is void? Justice
the existing prior marriage of her first husband at the time they married each other, Caguioa replied in the affirmative. Dean Gupit added that in some judgments, even if
for then such a marriage though void still needs according to this Court a judicial the marriage is annulled, it is declared void. Justice Puno suggested that this matter
declaration of such fact and for all legal intents and purposes she would still be be made clear in the provision.
regarded as a married woman at the time she contracted her marriage with Prof. Baviera remarked that the original idea in the provision is to require first a
respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel." judicial declaration of a void marriage and not annullable marriages, with which the
Came the Family Code which settled once and for all the conflicting jurisprudence other members concurred. Judge Diy added that annullable marriages are presumed
on the matter. A declaration of the absolute nullity of a marriage is now explicitly valid until a direct action is filed to annul it, which the other members affirmed.
required either as a cause of action or a ground for defense. 14Where the absolute Justice Puno remarked that if this is so, then the phrase "absolute nullity" can stand
nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked for purposes of contracting a since it might result in confusion if they change the phrase to "invalidity" if what
second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law for said projected marriage be free they are referring to in the provision is the declaration that the marriage is void.
from legal infirmity is a final judgment declaring the previous marriage void. 15 Prof. Bautista commented that they will be doing away with collateral defense as
The Family Law Revision Committee and the Civil Code Revision well as collateral attack. Justice Caguioa explained that the idea in the provision is
Committee 16 which drafted what is now the Family Code of the Philippines took the that there should be a final judgment declaring the marriage void and a party should
position that parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that their not declare for himself whether or not the marriage is void, while the other members
marriage is void even if such be the fact but must first secure a judicial declaration of affirmed. Justice Caguioa added that they are, therefore, trying to avoid a collateral
the nullity of their marriage before they can be allowed to marry again. This is borne attack on that point. Prof. Bautista stated that there are actions which are brought on
out by the following minutes of the 152nd Joint Meeting of the Civil Code and the assumption that the marriage is valid. He then asked: Are they depriving one of
Family Law Committees where the present Article 40, then Art. 39, was discussed. the right to raise the defense that he has no liability because the basis of the liability
B. Article 39. — is void? Prof. Bautista added that they cannot say that there will be no judgment on
The absolute nullity of a marriage may be invoked only on the basis of a final the validity or invalidity of the marriage because it will be taken up in the same
judgment declaring the marriage void, except as provided in Article 41. proceeding. It will not be a unilateral declaration that, it is a void marriage. Justice
Justice Caguioa remarked that the above provision should include not only void but Caguioa saw the point of Prof. Bautista and suggested that they limit the provision to
also voidable marriages. He then suggested that the above provision be modified as remarriage. He then proposed that Article 39 be reworded as follows:
follows: The absolute nullity of a marriage for purposes of remarriage may be invoked only
The validity of a marriage may be invoked only . . . on the basis of final judgment . . .
Justice Reyes (J.B.L. Reyes), however, proposed that they say: Justice Puno suggested that the above be modified as follows:
The validity or invalidity of a marriage may be invoked The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of
only . . . establishing the validity of a subsequent marriage only on the basis of a final
On the other hand, Justice Puno suggested that they say: judgment declaring such previous marriage void, except as provided in Article 41.
The invalidity of a marriage may be invoked only . . . Justice Puno later modified the above as follows:
Justice Caguioa explained that his idea is that one cannot determine for himself For the purpose of establishing the validity of a subsequent marriage, the absolute
whether or not his marriage is valid and that a court action is needed. Justice Puno nullity of a previous marriage may only be invoked on the basis of a final judgment
accordingly proposed that the provision be modified to read: declaring such nullity, except as provided in Article 41.
Justice Caguioa commented that the above provision is too broad and will not solve
the objection of Prof. Bautista. He proposed that they say:
For the purpose of entering into a subsequent marriage, the absolute nullity of a a party might well invoke the absolute nullity of a previous marriage for purposes
previous marriage may only be invoked on the basis of a final judgment declaring other than remarriage, such as in case of an action for liquidation, partition,
such nullity, except as provided in Article 41. distribution and separation of property between the erstwhile spouses, as well as an
Justice Caguioa explained that the idea in the above provision is that if one enters action for the custody and support of their common children and the delivery of the
into a subsequent marriage without obtaining a final judgment declaring the nullity latters' presumptive legitimes. In such cases, evidence needs must be adduced,
of a previous marriage, said subsequent marriage is void ab initio. testimonial or documentary, to prove the existence of grounds rendering such a
After further deliberation, Justice Puno suggested that they go back to the original previous marriage an absolute nullity. These need not be limited solely to an earlier
wording of the provision as follows: final judgment of a court declaring such previous marriage void. Hence, in the
The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of instance where a party who has previously contracted a marriage which remains
remarriage only on the basis of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage subsisting desires to enter into another marriage which is legally unassailable, he is
void, except as provided in Article 41. 17 required by law to prove that the previous one was an absolute nullity. But this he
In fact, the requirement for a declaration of absolute nullity of a marriage is also for may do on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage
the protection of the spouse who, believing that his or her marriage is illegal and void.
void, marries again. With the judicial declaration of the nullity of his or her first This leads us to the question: Why the distinction? In other words, for purposes of
marriage, the person who marries again cannot be charged with bigamy. 18 remarriage, why should the only legally acceptable basis for declaring a previous
Just over a year ago, the Court made the pronouncement that there is a necessity for a marriage an absolute nullity be a final judgment declaring such previous marriage
declaration of absolute nullity of a prior subsisting marriage before contracting void? Whereas, for purposes other than remarriage, other evidence is acceptable?
another in the recent case of Terre v. Terre. 19 The Court, in turning down the Marriage, a sacrosanct institution, declared by the Constitution as an "inviolable
defense of respondent Terre who was charged with grossly immoral conduct social institution, is the foundation of the family;" as such, it "shall be protected by
consisting of contracting a second marriage and living with another woman other the State." 20 In more explicit terms, the Family Code characterizes it as "a special
than complainant while his prior marriage with the latter remained subsisting, said contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance
that "for purposes of determining whether a person is legally free to contract a with law for the establishment of conjugal, and family life." 21 So crucial are
second marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was null and void ab marriage and the family to the stability and peace of the nation that their "nature,
initio is essential." consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation . .
As regards the necessity for a judicial declaration of absolute nullity of marriage, ." 22 As a matter of policy, therefore, the nullification of a marriage for the purpose of
petitioner submits that the same can be maintained only if it is for the purpose of contracting another cannot be accomplished merely on the basis of the perception of
remarriage. Failure to allege this purpose, according to petitioner's theory, will both parties or of one that their union is so defective with respect to the essential
warrant dismissal of the same. requisites of a contract of marriage as to render it void ipso jure and with no legal
Article 40 of the Family Code provides: effect — and nothing more. Were this so, this inviolable social institution would be
Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of reduced to a mockery and would rest on very shaky foundations indeed. And the
remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage grounds for nullifying marriage would be as diverse and far-ranging as human
void. (n) ingenuity and fancy could conceive. For such a social significant institution, an
Crucial to the proper interpretation of Article 40 is the position in the provision of official state pronouncement through the courts, and nothing less, will satisfy the
the word "solely." As it is placed, the same shows that it is meant to qualify "final exacting norms of society. Not only would such an open and public declaration by
judgment declaring such previous marriage void." Realizing the need for careful the courts definitively confirm the nullity of the contract of marriage, but the same
craftsmanship in conveying the precise intent of the Committee members, the would be easily verifiable through records accessible to everyone.
provision in question, as it finally emerged, did not state "The absolute nullity of a That the law seeks to ensure that a prior marriage is no impediment to a second
previous marriage may be invoked solely for purposes of remarriage . . .," in which sought to be contracted by one of the parties may be gleaned from new information
case "solely" would clearly qualify the phrase "for purposes of remarriage." Had the required in the Family Code to be included in the application for a marriage license,
phraseology been such, the interpretation of petitioner would have been correct and, viz, "If previously married, how, when and where the previous marriage was
that is, that the absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked solely for dissolved and annulled." 23
purposes of remarriage, thus rendering irrelevant the clause "on the basis solely of a Reverting to the case before us, petitioner's interpretation of Art. 40 of the Family
final judgment declaring such previous marriage void." Code is, undoubtedly, quite restrictive. Thus, his position that private respondent's
That Article 40 as finally formulated included the significant clause denotes that failure to state in the petition that the same is filed to enable her to remarry will result
such final judgment declaring the previous marriage void need not be obtained only in the dismissal of SP No. 1989-J is untenable. His misconstruction of Art. 40
for purposes of remarriage. Undoubtedly, one can conceive of other instances where
resulting from the misplaced emphasis on the term "solely" was in fact anticipated by that in order for their properties to be separated, an ordinary civil action has to be
the members of the Committee. instituted for that purpose is baseless. The Family Code has clearly provided the
Dean Gupit commented the word "only" may be misconstrued to refer to "for effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage, one of which is the separation of
purposes of remarriage." Judge Diy stated that "only" refers to "final property according to the regime of property relations governing them. It stands to
judgment." Justice Puno suggested that they say "on the basis only of a final reason that the lower court before whom the issue of nullity of a first marriage is
judgment." Prof. Baviera suggested that they use the legal term "solely" instead of brought is likewise clothed with jurisdiction to decide the incidental questions
"only," which the Committee approved. 24 (Emphasis supplied) regarding the couple's properties. Accordingly, the respondent court committed no
Pursuing his previous argument that the declaration for absolute nullity of marriage reversible error in finding that the lower court committed no grave abuse of
is unnecessary, petitioner suggests that private respondent should have filed an discretion in denying petitioner's motion to dismiss SP No. 1989-J.
ordinary civil action for the recovery of the properties alleged to have been acquired WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of respondent
during their union. In such an eventuality, the lower court would not be acting as a Court dated February 7, 1992 and the Resolution dated March 20, 1992 are
mere special court but would be clothed with jurisdiction to rule on the issues of AFFIRMED.
possession and ownership. In addition, he pointed out that there is actually nothing to SO ORDERED.
separate or partition as the petition admits that all the properties were acquired with
private respondent's money.
The Court of Appeals disregarded this argument and concluded that "the prayer for
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may be raised together with the other
incident of their marriage such as the separation of their properties."
When a marriage is declared void ab initio, the law states that the final judgment
therein 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
their presumptive legitimes, unless such matters had been adjudicated in previous
judicial proceedings." 25 Other specific effects flowing therefrom, in proper cases,
are the following:
Art. 43. xxx xxx xxx
(2) The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may
be, shall be dissolved and liquidated, but if either spouse contracted said marriage in
bad faith, his or her share of the net profits of the community property or conjugal
partnership property shall be forfeited in favor of the common children or, if there
are none, the children of the guilty spouse by a previous marriage or, in default of
children, the innocent spouse;
(3) Donations by reason of marriage shall remain valid, except that if the donee
contracted the marriage in bad faith, such donations made to said donee are revoked
by operation of law;
(4) The innocent spouse may revoke the designation of the other spouse who acted in
bad faith as a beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if such designation be
stipulated as irrevocable; and
(5) The spouse who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith shall be
disqualified to inherit from the innocent spouse by testate and intestate succession.
(n)
Art. 44. If both spouses of the subsequent marriage acted in bad faith, said marriage
shall be void ab initio and all donations by reason of marriage and testamentary
disposition made by one in favor of the other are revoked by operation of law. (n) 26
Based on the foregoing provisions, private respondent's ultimate prayer for
separation of property will simply be one of the necessary consequences of the
judicial declaration of absolute nullity of their marriage. Thus, petitioner's suggestion
Republic of the Philippines the same was solemnized without the required marriage license. In support thereof,
SUPREME COURT respondent presented: 1) the marriage certificate of the deceased and the petitioner
Manila which bears no marriage license number; 5 and 2) a certification dated March 9,
FIRST DIVISION 1994, from the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, which reads –
G.R. No. 132529. February 2, 2001 This is to certify that this Office has no record of marriage license of the spouses
SUSAN NICDAO CARIÑO, petitioner, SANTIAGO CARINO (sic) and SUSAN NICDAO, who are married in this
vs. municipality on June 20, 1969. Hence, we cannot issue as requested a true copy or
SUSAN YEE CARIÑO, respondent. transcription of Marriage License number from the records of this archives.
DECISION This certification is issued upon the request of Mrs. Susan Yee Cariño for whatever
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: legal purpose it may serve. 6
The issue for resolution in the case at bar hinges on the validity of the two marriages On August 28, 1995, the trial court ruled in favor of respondent, Susan Yee, holding
contracted by the deceased SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, whose ―death benefits‖ is now as follows:
the subject of the controversy between the two Susans whom he WHEREFORE, the defendant is hereby ordered to pay the plaintiff the sum of
married. 1âwphi1.nêt P73,000.00, half of the amount which was paid to her in the form of death benefits
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside the arising from the death of SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, plus attorney’s fees in the
decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51263, which affirmed in amount of P5,000.00, and costs of suit.
toto the decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 87, in Civil IT IS SO ORDERED. 7
Case No. Q-93-18632. On appeal by petitioner to the Court of Appeals, the latter affirmed in toto the
During the lifetime of the late SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, he contracted two decision of the trial court. Hence, the instant petition, contending that:
marriages, the first was on June 20, 1969, with petitioner Susan Nicdao Cariño I.
(hereafter referred to as Susan Nicdao), with whom he had two offsprings, namely, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING
Sahlee and Sandee Cariño; and the second was on November 10, 1992, with THE FINDINGS OF THE LOWER COURT THAT VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS.
respondent Susan Yee Cariño (hereafter referred to as Susan Yee), with whom he GSIS IS APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR.
had no children in their almost ten year cohabitation starting way back in 1982. II.
In 1988, SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño became ill and bedridden due to diabetes THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN APPLYING
complicated by pulmonary tuberculosis. He passed away on November 23, 1992, EQUITY IN THE INSTANT CASE INSTEAD OF THE CLEAR AND
under the care of Susan Yee, who spent for his medical and burial expenses. Both UNEQUIVOCAL MANDATE OF THE FAMILY CODE.
petitioner and respondent filed claims for monetary benefits and financial assistance III.
pertaining to the deceased from various government agencies. Petitioner Susan THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT
Nicdao was able to collect a total of P146,000.00 from ―MBAI, PCCUI, FINDING THE CASE OF VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS GSIS TO HAVE BEEN
Commutation, NAPOLCOM, [and] Pag-ibig,‖ 3 while respondent Susan Yee MODIFIED, AMENDED AND EVEN ABANDONED BY THE ENACTMENT OF
received a total of P21,000.00 from ―GSIS Life, Burial (GSIS) and burial (SSS).‖ 4 THE FAMILY CODE. 8
On December 14, 1993, respondent Susan Yee filed the instant case for collection of Under Article 40 of the Family Code, the absolute nullity of a previous marriage may
sum of money against petitioner Susan Nicdao praying, inter alia, that petitioner be be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment
ordered to return to her at least one-half of the one hundred forty-six thousand pesos declaring such previous marriage void. Meaning, where the absolute nullity of a
(P146,000.00) collectively denominated as ―death benefits‖ which she (petitioner) previous marriage is sought to be invoked for purposes of contracting a second
received from ―MBAI, PCCUI, Commutation, NAPOLCOM, [and] Pag-ibig.‖ marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law, for said projected marriage to be free from
Despite service of summons, petitioner failed to file her answer, prompting the trial legal infirmity, is a final judgment declaring the previous marriage void. 9 However,
court to declare her in default. for purposes other than remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a
Respondent Susan Yee admitted that her marriage to the deceased took place during marriage an absolute nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to the
the subsistence of, and without first obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity of, the determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate,
marriage between petitioner and the deceased. She, however, claimed that she had no dissolution of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may pass
knowledge of the previous marriage and that she became aware of it only at the upon the validity of marriage even after the death of the parties thereto, and even in a
funeral of the deceased, where she met petitioner who introduced herself as the wife suit not directly instituted to question the validity of said marriage, so long as it is
of the deceased. To bolster her action for collection of sum of money, respondent essential to the determination of the case. 10 In such instances, evidence must be
contended that the marriage of petitioner and the deceased is void ab initio because adduced, testimonial or documentary, to prove the existence of grounds rendering
such a previous marriage an absolute nullity. These need not be limited solely to an One of the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage is the separation of the
earlier final judgment of a court declaring such previous marriage void. 11 property of the spouses according to the applicable property regime. 16 Considering
It is clear therefore that the Court is clothed with sufficient authority to pass upon the that the two marriages are void ab initio, the applicable property regime would not be
validity of the two marriages in this case, as the same is essential to the absolute community or conjugal partnership of property, but rather, be governed by
determination of who is rightfully entitled to the subject ―death benefits‖ of the the provisions of Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code on ―Property Regime of
deceased. Unions Without Marriage.‖
Under the Civil Code, which was the law in force when the marriage of petitioner Under Article 148 of the Family Code, which refers to the property regime of
Susan Nicdao and the deceased was solemnized in 1969, a valid marriage license is a bigamous marriages, adulterous relationships, relationships in a state of concubine,
requisite of marriage, 12 and the absence thereof, subject to certain relationships where both man and woman are married to other persons, multiple
exceptions, 13 renders the marriage void ab initio. 14 alliances of the same married man, 17 -
In the case at bar, there is no question that the marriage of petitioner and the “... [O]nly the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint
deceased does not fall within the marriages exempt from the license requirement. A contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in
marriage license, therefore, was indispensable to the validity of their marriage. This proportion to their respective contributions ...”
notwithstanding, the records reveal that the marriage contract of petitioner and the In this property regime, the properties acquired by the parties through their actual
deceased bears no marriage license number and, as certified by the Local Civil joint contribution shall belong to the co-ownership. Wages and salaries earned by
Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record of such marriage each party belong to him or her exclusively. Then too, contributions in the form of
license. In Republic v. Court of Appeals, 15 the Court held that such a certification is care of the home, children and household, or spiritual or moral inspiration, are
adequate to prove the non-issuance of a marriage license. Absent any circumstance excluded in this regime. 18
of suspicion, as in the present case, the certification issued by the local civil registrar Considering that the marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is a
enjoys probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record bigamous marriage, having been solemnized during the subsistence of a previous
of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage license. marriage then presumed to be valid (between petitioner and the deceased), the
Such being the case, the presumed validity of the marriage of petitioner and the application of Article 148 is therefore in order.
deceased has been sufficiently overcome. It then became the burden of petitioner to The disputed P146,000.00 from MBAI [AFP Mutual Benefit Association, Inc.],
prove that their marriage is valid and that they secured the required marriage license. NAPOLCOM, Commutation, Pag-ibig, and PCCUI, are clearly renumerations,
Although she was declared in default before the trial court, petitioner could have incentives and benefits from governmental agencies earned by the deceased as a
squarely met the issue and explained the absence of a marriage license in her police officer. Unless respondent Susan Yee presents proof to the contrary, it could
pleadings before the Court of Appeals and this Court. But petitioner conveniently not be said that she contributed money, property or industry in the acquisition of
avoided the issue and chose to refrain from pursuing an argument that will put her these monetary benefits. Hence, they are not owned in common by respondent and
case in jeopardy. Hence, the presumed validity of their marriage cannot stand. the deceased, but belong to the deceased alone and respondent has no right
It is beyond cavil, therefore, that the marriage between petitioner Susan Nicdao and whatsoever to claim the same. By intestate succession, the said ―death benefits‖ of
the deceased, having been solemnized without the necessary marriage license, and the deceased shall pass to his legal heirs. And, respondent, not being the legal wife of
not being one of the marriages exempt from the marriage license requirement, is the deceased is not one of them.
undoubtedly void ab initio. As to the property regime of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, Article 147
It does not follow from the foregoing disquisition, however, that since the marriage of the Family Code governs. This article applies to unions of parties who are legally
of petitioner and the deceased is declared void ab initio, the ―death benefits‖ under capacitated and not barred by any impediment to contract marriage, but whose
scrutiny would now be awarded to respondent Susan Yee. To reiterate, under Article marriage is nonetheless void for other reasons, like the absence of a marriage license.
40 of the Family Code, for purposes of remarriage, there must first be a prior judicial Article 147 of the Family Code reads -
declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void, before a party can Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live
enter into a second marriage, otherwise, the second marriage would also be void. exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or
Accordingly, the declaration in the instant case of nullity of the previous marriage of under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal
the deceased and petitioner Susan Nicdao does not validate the second marriage of shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry
the deceased with respondent Susan Yee. The fact remains that their marriage was shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
solemnized without first obtaining a judicial decree declaring the marriage of In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together
petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased void. Hence, the marriage of respondent shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and
Susan Yee and the deceased is, likewise, void ab initio. shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did
not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed
to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former’s efforts consisted an all important condition precedent only for purposes of remarriage. That is, if a
in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household. party who is previously married wishes to contract a second marriage, he or she has
xxx to obtain first a judicial decree declaring the first marriage void, before he or she
When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the could contract said second marriage, otherwise the second marriage would be void.
party in bad faith in the co-ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common The same rule applies even if the first marriage is patently void because the parties
children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of the common children or are not free to determine for themselves the validity or invalidity or their marriage.
their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving However, for purposes other than to remarry, like for filing a case for collection of
descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent sum of money anchored on a marriage claimed to be valid, no prior and separate
party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the judicial declaration of nullity is necessary. All that a party has to do is to present
cohabitation. evidence, testimonial or documentary, that would prove that the marriage from
In contrast to Article 148, under the foregoing article, wages and salaries earned by which his or her rights flow is in fact valid. Thereupon, the court, if material to the
either party during the cohabitation shall be owned by the parties in equal shares and determination of the issues before it, will rule on the status of the marriage involved
will be divided equally between them, even if only one party earned the wages and and proceed to determine the rights of the parties in accordance with the applicable
the other did not contribute thereto. 19 Conformably, even if the disputed ―death laws and jurisprudence. Thus, in Niñal v. Bayadog, 23 the Court explained:
benefits‖ were earned by the deceased alone as a government employee, Article 147 [T]he court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly
creates a co-ownership in respect thereto, entitling the petitioner to share one-half instituted to question the same so long as it is essential to the determination of the
thereof. As there is no allegation of bad faith in the present case, both parties of the case. This is without prejudice to any issue that may arise in the case. When such
first marriage are presumed to be in good faith. Thus, one-half of the subject ―death need arises, a final judgment of declaration of nullity is necessary even if the
benefits‖ under scrutiny shall go to the petitioner as her share in the property regime, purpose is other than to remarry. The clause “on the basis of a final judgment
and the other half pertaining to the deceased shall pass by, intestate succession, to his declaring such previous marriage void” in Article 40 of the Family Code connoted
legal heirs, namely, his children with Susan Nicdao. that such final judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of remarriage.
In affirming the decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals relied on the case WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, and the decision of the Court of Appeals
of Vda. de Consuegra v. Government Service Insurance System, 20 where the Court in CA-G.R. CV No. 51263 which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court
awarded one-half of the retirement benefits of the deceased to the first wife and the of Quezon City ordering petitioner to pay respondent the sum of P73,000.00 plus
other half, to the second wife, holding that: attorney’s fees in the amount of P5,000.00, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
“... [S]ince the defendant’s first marriage has not been dissolved or declared void complaint in Civil Case No. Q-93-18632, is hereby DISMISSED. No pronouncement
the conjugal partnership established by that marriage has not ceased. Nor has the as to costs.1âwphi1.nêt
first wife lost or relinquished her status as putative heir of her husband under the SO ORDERED.
new Civil Code, entitled to share in his estate upon his death should she survive him.
Consequently, whether as conjugal partner in a still subsisting marriage or as such
putative heir she has an interest in the husband’s share in the property here in
dispute....” And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court observed that
although the second marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as it was
celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there is need for judicial
declaration of such nullity. And inasmuch as the conjugal partnership formed by the
second marriage was dissolved before judicial declaration of its nullity, “[t]he only
just and equitable solution in this case would be to recognize the right of the second
wife to her share of one-half in the property acquired by her and her husband, and
consider the other half as pertaining to the conjugal partnership of the first
marriage.” 21
It should be stressed, however, that the aforecited decision is premised on the rule
which requires a prior and separate judicial declaration of nullity of marriage. This is
the reason why in the said case, the Court determined the rights of the parties in
accordance with their existing property regime.
In Domingo v. Court of Appeals, 22 however, the Court, construing Article 40 of the
Family Code, clarified that a prior and separate declaration of nullity of a marriage is
Republic of the Philippines 2. The trial court erred in holding that the marriage between oppositor-appellant and
SUPREME COURT the deceased Teodorico Calisterio is bigamous for failure of the former to secure a
Manila decree of the presumptive death of her first spouse.
THIRD DIVISION 3. The trial court erred in not holding that the property situated at No. 32 Batangas
G.R. No. 136467 April 6, 2000 Street, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, is the conjugal property of the
ANTONIA ARMAS Y CALISTERIO, petitioner, oppositor-appellant and the deceased Teodorico Calisterio.
vs. 4. The trial court erred in holding that oppositor-appellant is not a legal heir of
MARIETTA CALISTERIO, respondent. deceased Teodorico Calisterio.
5. The trial court erred in not holding that letters of administration should be granted
VITUG, J.: solely in favor of oppositor-appellant. 2
On 24 April 1992, Teodorico Calisterio died intestate, leaving several parcels of land On 31 August 1998, the appellate court, through Mr. Justice Conrado M. Vasquez,
with an estimated value of P604,750.00. Teodorico was survived by his wife, herein Jr., promulgated its now assailed decision, thus:
respondent Marietta Calisterio. IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Decision appealed from is REVERSED
Teodorico was the second husband of Marietta who had previously been married to AND SET ASIDE, and a new one entered declaring as follows:
James William Bounds on 13 January 1946 at Caloocan City. James Bounds (a) Marietta Calisterio's marriage to Teodorico remains valid;
disappeared without a trace on 11 February 1947. Teodorico and Marietta were (b) The house and lot situated at #32 Batangas Street, San Francisco del Monte,
married eleven years later, or on 08 May 1958, without Marietta having priorly Quezon City, belong to the conjugal partnership property with the concomitant
secured a court declaration that James was presumptively dead. obligation of the partnership to pay the value of the land to Teodorico's estate as of
On 09 October 1992, herein petitioner Antonia Armas y Calisterio, a surviving sister the time of the taking;
of Teodorico, filed with the Regional Trial Court ("RTC") of Quezon City, Branch (c) Marietta Calisterio, being Teodorico's compulsory heir, is entitled to one half of
104, a petition entitled, "In the Matter of Intestate Estate of the Deceased Teodorico her husband's estate, and Teodorico's sister, herein petitioner Antonia Armas and her
Calisterio y Cacabelos, Antonia Armas, Petitioner," claiming to be inter alia, the sole children, to the other half;
surviving heir of Teodorico Calisterio, the marriage between the latter and (d) The trial court is ordered to determine the competence of Marietta E. Calisterio to
respondent Marietta Espinosa Calisterio being allegedly bigamous and thereby null act as administrator of Teodorico's estate, and if so found competent and willing, that
and void. She prayed that her son Sinfroniano C. Armas, Jr., be appointed she be appointed as such; otherwise, to determine who among the deceased's next of
administrator, without bond, of the estate of the deceased and that the inheritance be kin is competent and willing to become the administrator of the estate. 3
adjudicated to her after all the obligations of the estate would have been settled. On 23 November 1998, the Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for
Respondent Marietta opposed the petition. Marietta stated that her first marriage with reconsideration, prompting her to interpose the present appeal. Petitioner asseverates:
James Bounds had been dissolved due to the latter's absence, his whereabouts being It is respectfully submitted that the decision of the Court of Appeals reversing and
unknown, for more than eleven years before she contracted her second marriage with setting aside the decision of the trial court is not in accord with the law or with the
Teodorico. Contending to be the surviving spouse of Teodorico, she sought priority applicable decisions of this Honorable Court. 4
in the administration of the estate of the decedent. It is evident that the basic issue focuses on the validity of the marriage between the
On 05 February 1993, the trial court issued an order appointing jointly Sinfroniano deceased Teodorico and respondent Marietta, that, in turn, would be determinative of
C. Armas, Jr., and respondent Marietta administrator and administratrix, her right as a surviving spouse.
respectively, of the intestate estate of Teodorico. The marriage between the deceased Teodorico and respondent Marietta was
On 17 January 1996, the lower court handed down its decision in favor of petitioner solemnized on 08 May 1958. The law in force at that time was the Civil Code, not
Antonia; it adjudged: the Family Code which took effect only on 03 August 1988. Article 256 of the
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding for the petitioner and against Family Code 5 itself limited its retroactive governance only to cases where it thereby
the oppositor whereby herein petitioner, Antonia Armas y Calisterio, is declared as would not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil
the sole heir of the estate of Teodorico Calisterio y Cacabelos. 1 Code or other laws.
Respondent Marietta appealed the decision of the trial court to the Court of Appeals, Verily, the applicable specific provision in the instant controversy is Article 83 of the
formulating that — New Civil Code which provides:
1. The trial court erred in applying the provisions of the Family Code in the instant Art. 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of
case despite the fact that the controversy arose when the New Civil Code was the law the first spouse of such person with any person other than such first spouse shall be
in force. illegal and void from its performance, unless:
(1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or
(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the and nieces, being entitled to the other half. Nephews and nieces, however, can only
second marriage without the spouse present having news of the absentee being alive, succeed by right of representation in the presence of uncles and aunts; alone, upon
or if the absentee, though he has been absent for less than seven years, is generally the other hand, nephews and nieces can succeed in their own right which is to say
considered as dead and believed to be so by the spouse present at the time of that brothers or sisters exclude nephews and nieces except only in representation by
contracting such subsequent marriage, or if the absentee is presumed dead according the latter of their parents who predecease or are incapacitated to succeed. The
to articles 390 and 391. The marriage so contracted shall be valid in any of the three appellate court has thus erred in granting, in paragraph (c) of the dispositive portion
cases until declared null and void by a competent court. of its judgment, successional rights, to petitioner's children, along with their own
Under the foregoing provisions, a subsequent marriage contracted during the lifetime mother Antonia who herself is invoking successional rights over the estate of her
of the first spouse is illegal and void ab initio unless the prior marriage is first deceased brother.1âwphi1
annulled or dissolved. Paragraph (2) of the law gives exceptions from the above rule. WHEREFORE, the assailed judgment of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No.
For the subsequent marriage referred to in the three exceptional cases therein 51574 is AFFIRMED except insofar only as it decreed in paragraph (c) of the
provided, to be held valid, the spouse present (not the absentee spouse) so dispositive portion thereof that the children of petitioner are likewise entitled, along
contracting the later marriage must have done so in good faith. 6 Bad faith imports a with her, to the other half of the inheritance, in lieu of which, it is hereby
dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of wrong — it DECLARED that said one-half share of the decedent's estate pertains solely to
partakes of the nature of fraud, a breach of a known duty through some motive of petitioner to the exclusion of her own children. No costs.
interest or ill will. 7 The Court does not find these circumstances to be here extant. SO ORDERED.1âwphi1.nêt
A judicial declaration of absence of the absentee spouse is not necessary8 as long as
the prescribed period of absence is met. It is equally noteworthy that the marriage in
these exceptional cases are, by the explicit mandate of Article 83, to be deemed valid
"until declared null and void by a competent court." It follows that the burden of
proof would be, in these cases, on the party assailing the second marriage.
In contrast, under the 1988 Family Code, in order that a subsequent bigamous
marriage may exceptionally be considered valid, the following conditions must
concur; viz.: (a) The prior spouse of the contracting party must have been absent for
four consecutive years, or two years where there is danger of death under the
circumstances stated in Article 391 of the Civil Code at the time of disappearance;
(b) the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already
dead; and (c) there is, unlike the old rule, a judicial declaration of presumptive death
of the absentee for which purpose the spouse present can institute a summary
proceeding in court to ask for that declaration. The last condition is consistent and in
consonance with the requirement of judicial intervention in subsequent marriages as
so provided in Article 41 9 , in relation to Article 40, 10 of the Family Code.
In the case at bar, it remained undisputed that respondent Marietta's first husband,
James William Bounds, had been absent or had disappeared for more than eleven
years before she entered into a second marriage in 1958 with the deceased Teodorico
Calisterio. This second marriage, having been contracted during the regime of the
Civil Code, should thus be deemed valid notwithstanding the absence of a judicial
declaration of presumptive death of James Bounds.
The conjugal property of Teodorico and Marietta, no evidence having been adduced
to indicate another property regime between the spouses, pertains to them in
common. Upon its dissolution with the death of Teodorico, the property should
rightly be divided in two equal portions — one portion going to the surviving spouse
and the other portion to the estate of the deceased spouse. The successional right in
intestacy of a surviving spouse over the net estate 11 of the deceased, concurring with
legitimate brothers and sisters or nephews and nieces (the latter by right of
representation), is one-half of the inheritance, the brothers and sisters or nephews
Republic of the Philippines Manila on August 27, 1995. He went to a house in Navotas where Janeth, Lea’s
SUPREME COURT friend, was staying. When asked where Lea was, Janeth told him that she had not
SECOND DIVISION seen her.13 He failed to find out Lea’s whereabouts despite his repeated talks with
G.R. No. 159614 December 9, 2005 Janeth. Alan decided to work as a part-time taxi driver. On his free time, he would
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, look for Lea in the malls but still to no avail. He returned to Catbalogan in 1997 and
vs. again looked for his wife but failed.14
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (TENTH DIVISION), and ALAN On June 20, 2001, Alan reported Lea’s disappearance to the local police
B. ALEGRO, Respondents. station.15 The police authorities issued an Alarm Notice on July 4, 2001.16 Alan also
DECISION reported Lea’s disappearance to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on July
CALLEJO, SR., J.: 9, 2001.17
On March 29, 2001, Alan B. Alegro filed a petition in the Regional Trial Court Barangay Captain Juan Magat corroborated the testimony of Alan. He declared that
(RTC) of Catbalogan, Samar, Branch 27, for the declaration of presumptive death of on February 14, 1995, at 2:00 p.m., Alan inquired from him if Lea passed by his
his wife, Rosalia (Lea) A. Julaton. house and he told Alan that she did not. Alan also told him that Lea had disappeared.
In an Order1 dated April 16, 2001, the court set the petition for hearing on May 30, He had not seen Lea in the barangay ever since.18 Lea’s father, who was
2001 at 8:30 a.m. and directed that a copy of the said order be published once a week hiscompadre and the owner of Radio DYMS, told him that he did not know where
for three (3) consecutive weeks in the Samar Reporter, a newspaper of general Lea was.19
circulation in the Province of Samar, and After Alan rested his case, neither the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor nor the
that a copy be posted in the court’s bulletin board for at least three weeks before the Solicitor General adduced evidence in opposition to the petition.
next scheduled hearing. The court also directed that copies of the order be served on On January 8, 2002, the court rendered judgment granting the petition. The fallo of
the Solicitor General, the Provincial Prosecutor of Samar, and Alan, through counsel, the decision reads:
and that copies be sent to Lea by registered mail. Alan complied with all the WHEREFORE, and in view of all the foregoing, petitioner’s absent spouse
foregoing jurisdictional requirements.2 ROSALIA JULATON is hereby declared PRESUMPTIVELY DEAD for the
On May 28, 2001, the Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor purpose of the petitioner’s subsequent marriage under Article 41 of the Family Code
General (OSG), filed a Motion to Dismiss3 the petition, which was, however, denied of the Philippines, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the said absent
by the court for failure to comply with Rule 15 of the Rules of Court. 4 spouse.
At the hearing, Alan adduced evidence that he and Lea were married on January 20, SO ORDERED.20
1995 in Catbalogan, Samar.5 He testified that, on February 6, 1995, Lea arrived The OSG appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals (CA) which rendered
home late in the evening and he berated her for being always out of their house. He judgment on August 4, 2003, affirming the decision of the RTC. 21 The CA cited the
told her that if she enjoyed the life of a single person, it would be better for her to go ruling of this Court in Republic v. Nolasco.22
back to her parents.6 Lea did not reply. Alan narrated that, when he reported for work The OSG filed a petition for review on certiorari of the CA’s decision alleging that
the following day, Lea was still in the house, but when he arrived home later in the respondent Alan B. Alegro failed to prove that he had a well-founded belief that Lea
day, Lea was nowhere to be found.7 Alan thought that Lea merely went to her was already dead.23 It averred that the respondent failed to exercise reasonable and
parents’ house in Bliss, Sto. Niño, Catbalogan, Samar. 8 However, Lea did not return diligent efforts to locate his wife. The respondent even admitted that Lea’s father
to their house anymore. told him on February 14, 1995 that Lea had been to their house but left without
Alan further testified that, on February 14, 1995, after his work, he went to the house notice. The OSG pointed out that the respondent reported his wife’s disappearance to
of Lea’s parents to see if she was there, but he was told that she was not there. He the local police and also to the NBI only after the petitioner filed a motion to dismiss
also went to the house of Lea’s friend, Janeth Bautista, at Barangay Canlapwas, but the petition. The petitioner avers that, as gleaned from the evidence, the respondent
he was informed by Janette’s brother-in-law, Nelson Abaenza, that Janeth had left did not really want to find and locate Lea. Finally, the petitioner averred:
for Manila.9 When Alan went back to the house of his parents-in-law, he learned In view of the summary nature of proceedings under Article 41 of the Family Code
from his father-in-law that Lea had been to their house but that she left without for the declaration of presumptive death of one’s spouse, the degree of due diligence
notice.10 Alan sought the help of Barangay Captain Juan Magat, who promised to set by this Honorable Court in the above-mentioned cases in locating the
help him locate his wife. He also inquired from his friends of Lea’s whereabouts but whereabouts of a missing spouse must be strictly complied with. There have been
to no avail.11 times when Article 41 of the Family Code had been resorted to by parties wishing to
Sometime in June 1995, he decided to go to Manila to look for Lea, but his mother remarry knowing fully well that their alleged missing spouses are alive and well. It is
asked him to leave after the town fiesta of Catbalogan, hoping that Lea may come even possible that those who cannot have their marriages x x x
home for the fiesta. Alan agreed.12 However, Lea did not show up. Alan then left for
declared null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code resort to Article 41 of the dissolve the marital bonds through existing legal means. It is also the maxim that
Family Code for relief because of the x x x summary nature of its proceedings. "men readily believe what they wish to be true."
It is the policy of the State to protect and strengthen the family as a basic social In this case, the respondent failed to present a witness other than Barangay Captain
institution. Marriage is the foundation of the family. Since marriage is an inviolable Juan Magat. The respondent even failed to present Janeth Bautista or Nelson
social institution that the 1987 Constitution seeks to protect from dissolution at the Abaenza or any other person from whom he allegedly made inquiries about Lea to
whim of the parties. For respondent’s failure to prove that he had a well-founded corroborate his testimony. On the other hand, the respondent admitted that when he
belief that his wife is already returned to the house of his parents-in-law on February 14, 1995, his father-in-law
dead and that he exerted the required amount of diligence in searching for his told him that Lea had just been there but that she left without notice.
missing wife, the petition for declaration of presumptive death should have been The respondent declared that Lea left their abode on February 7, 1995 after he chided
denied by the trial court and the Honorable Court of Appeals.24 her for coming home late and for being always out of their house, and told her that it
The petition is meritorious. would be better for her to go home to her parents if she enjoyed the life of a single
Article 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines reads: person. Lea, thus, left their conjugal abode and never returned. Neither did she
Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous communicate with the respondent after leaving the conjugal abode because of her
marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent resentment to the chastisement she received from him barely a month after their
marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse marriage. What is so worrisome is that, the respondent failed to make inquiries from
present had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of his parents-in-law regarding Lea’s whereabouts before filing his petition in the RTC.
disappearance where there is danger under the circumstances set forth in the It could have enhanced the credibility of the respondent had he made inquiries from
provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be his parents-in-law about Lea’s whereabouts considering that Lea’s father was the
sufficient. owner of Radio DYMS.
For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding The respondent did report and seek the help of the local police authorities and the
paragraph, the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in NBI to locate Lea, but it was only an afterthought. He did so only after the OSG filed
this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice its notice to dismiss his petition in the RTC.
to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse.25 In sum, the Court finds and so holds that the respondent failed to prove that he had a
The spouse present is, thus, burdened to prove that his spouse has been absent and well-founded belief, before he filed his petition in the RTC, that his spouse Rosalia
that he has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already dead before the (Lea) Julaton was already dead.
present spouse may contract a subsequent marriage. The law does not define what is IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The
meant by a well-grounded belief. Cuello Callon writes that "es menester que su Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 73749
creencia sea firme se funde en motivos racionales."26 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Consequently, the Regional Trial Court of
Belief is a state of the mind or condition prompting the doing of an overt act. It may Catbalogan, Samar, Branch 27, is ORDERED to DISMISS the respondent’s
be proved by direct evidence or circumstantial evidence which may tend, even in a petition.
slight degree, to elucidate the inquiry or assist to a determination probably founded SO ORDERED.
in truth. Any fact or circumstance relating to the character, habits, conditions,
attachments, prosperity and objects of life which usually control the conduct of men,
and are the motives of their actions, was, so far as it tends to explain or characterize
their disappearance or throw light on their intentions, 27competence evidence on the
ultimate question of his death.
The belief of the present spouse must be the result of proper and honest to goodness
inquiries and efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of the absent spouse and whether
the absent spouse is still alive or is already dead. Whether or not the spouse present
acted on a well-founded belief of death of the absent spouse depends upon the
inquiries to be drawn from a great many circumstances occurring before and after the
disappearance of the absent spouse and the nature and extent of the inquiries made
by present spouse.28
Although testimonial evidence may suffice to prove the well-founded belief of the
present spouse that the absent spouse is already dead, in Republic v. Nolasco,29 the
Court warned against collusion between the parties when they find it impossible to
Republic of the Philippines she was still validly married to her first husband, consequently, her marriage to
SUPREME COURT respondent is VOID (Art. 80, Civil Code).
Manila There is likewise no need of introducing evidence about the existing prior marriage
SECOND DIVISION of her first husband at the time they married each other, for then such a marriage
G.R. No. L-53703 August 19, 1986 though void still needs according to this Court a judicial declaration 1 of such fact
LILIA OLIVA WIEGEL, petitioner, and for all legal intents and purposes she would still be regarded as a married woman
vs. at the time she contracted her marriage with respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel);
THE HONORABLE ALICIA V. SEMPIO-DIY (as presiding judge of the accordingly, the marriage of petitioner and respondent would be regarded VOID
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Caloocan City) and KARL HEINZ under the law.
WIEGEL, respondents. WHEREFORE, this petition is hereby DISMISSED, for lack of merit, and the Orders
Dapucanta, Dulay & Associates for petitioner. complained of are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
Siguion Reyna, Montecillo and Ongsiako Law Office for private respondent. SO ORDERED.

PARAS, J.:
In an action (Family Case No. 483) filed before the erstwhile Juvenile and Domestic
Relations Court of Caloocan City, herein respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel (plaintiff
therein) asked for the declaration of Nullity of his marriage (celebrated on July, 1978
at the Holy Catholic Apostolic Christian Church Branch in Makati, Metro Manila)
with herein petitioner Lilia Oliva Wiegel (Lilia, for short, and defendant therein) on
the ground of Lilia's previous existing marriage to one Eduardo A. Maxion, the
ceremony having been performed on June 25, 1972 at our Lady of Lourdes Church
in Quezon City. Lilia, while admitting the existence of said prior subsisting marriage
claimed that said marriage was null and void, she and the first husband Eduardo A.
Maxion having been allegedly forced to enter said marital union. In the pre-trial that
ensued, the issue agreed upon by both parties was the status of the first marriage
(assuming the presence of force exerted against both parties): was said prior
marriage void or was it merely voidable? Contesting the validity of the pre-trial
order, Lilia asked the respondent court for an opportunity to present evidence-
(1) that the first marriage was vitiated by force exercised upon both her and the first
husband; and
(2) that the first husband was at the time of the marriage in 1972 already married
to someone else.
Respondent judge ruled against the presentation of evidence because the existence of
force exerted on both parties of the first marriage had already been agreed upon.
Hence, the present petition for certiorari assailing the following Orders of
therespondent Judge-
(1) the Order dated March 17, 1980 in which the parties were compelled to submit
the case for resolution based on "agreed facts;" and
(2) the Order dated April 14, 1980, denying petitioner's motion to allow her to
present evidence in her favor.
We find the petition devoid of merit.
There is no need for petitioner to prove that her first marriage was vitiated by force
committed against both parties because assuming this to be so, the marriage will not
be void but merely viodable (Art. 85, Civil Code), and therefore valid until annulled.
Since no annulment has yet been made, it is clear that when she married respondent
Republic of the Philippines While he admits that he and Lucita quarreled on December 9, 1995, at their house in
SUPREME COURT Jose Abad Santos Avenue, Tondo, Manila, he claimed that he left the same, stayed in
Manila their Greenhills condominium and only went back to their Tondo house to work in
FIRST DIVISION their office below. In the afternoon of December 14, 1995, their laundrywoman told
G.R. No. 153206 October 23, 2006 him that Lucita left the house.7
ONG ENG KIAM a.k.a. WILLIAM ONG, petitioner, On January 5, 1998, the RTC rendered its Decision decreeing legal separation, thus:
vs. WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered decreeing the
LUCITA G. ONG, respondent. legal separation of plaintiff and defendant, with all the legal effects attendant thereto,
particularly the dissolution and liquidation of the conjugal partnership properties, for
which purpose the parties are hereby ordered to submit a complete inventory of said
DECISION properties so that the Court can make a just and proper division, such division to be
embodied in a supplemental decision.
SO ORDERED.8
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: The RTC found that:
Before this Court is a Petition for Review seeking the reversal of the Decision1 of the It is indubitable that plaintiff (Lucita) and defendant (William) had their frequent
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA G.R. CV No. 59400 which affirmed in toto the quarrels and misunderstanding which made both of their lives miserable and hellish.
Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 41, Dagupan City granting the This is even admitted by the defendant when he said that there was no day that he did
petition for legal separation filed by herein respondent, as well as the Resolution 2 of not quarrel with his wife. Defendant had regarded the plaintiff negligent in the
the CA dated April 26, 2002 which denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. performance of her wifely duties and had blamed her for not reporting to him about
Ong Eng Kiam, also known as William Ong (William) and Lucita G. Ong (Lucita) the wrongdoings of their children. (citations omitted)
were married on July 13, 1975 at the San Agustin Church in Manila. They have three These quarrels were always punctuated by acts of physical violence, threats and
children: Kingston, Charleston, and Princeton who are now all of the age of intimidation by the defendant against the plaintiff and on the children. In the process,
majority.3 insulting words and language were heaped upon her. The plaintiff suffered and
On March 21, 1996, Lucita filed a Complaint for Legal Separation under Article 55 endured the mental and physical anguish of these marital fights until December 14,
par. (1) of the Family Code4before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dagupan City, 1995 when she had reached the limits of her endurance. The more than twenty years
Branch 41 alleging that her life with William was marked by physical violence, of her marriage could not have been put to waste by the plaintiff if the same had been
threats, intimidation and grossly abusive conduct.5 lived in an atmosphere of love, harmony and peace. Worst, their children are also
Lucita claimed that: soon after three years of marriage, she and William quarreled suffering. As very well stated in plaintiff’s memorandum, "it would be unthinkable
almost every day, with physical violence being inflicted upon her; William would for her to throw away this twenty years of relationship, abandon the comforts of her
shout invectives at her like "putang ina mo", "gago", "tanga", and he would slap her, home and be separated from her children, whom she loves, if there exists no cause,
kick her, pull her hair, bang her head against concrete wall and throw at her whatever which is already beyond her endurance.9
he could reach with his hand; the causes of these fights were petty things regarding William appealed to the CA which affirmed in toto the RTC decision. In its Decision
their children or their business; William would also scold and beat the children at dated October 8, 2001, the CA found that the testimonies for Lucita were
different parts of their bodies using the buckle of his belt; whenever she tried to stop straightforward and credible and the ground for legal separation under Art. 55, par. 1
William from hitting the children, he would turn his ire on her and box her; on of the Family Code, i.e., physical violence and grossly abusive conduct directed
December 9, 1995, after she protested with William’s decision to allow their eldest against Lucita, were adequately proven.10
son Kingston to go to Bacolod, William slapped her and said, "it is none of your As the CA explained:
business"; on December 14, 1995, she asked William to bring Kingston back from The straightforward and candid testimonies of the witnesses were uncontroverted
Bacolod; a violent quarrel ensued and William hit her on her head, left cheek, eye, and credible. Dr. Elinzano’s testimony was able to show that the [Lucita] suffered
stomach, and arms; when William hit her on the stomach and she bent down because several injuries inflicted by [William]. It is clear that on December 14, 1995, she
of the pain, he hit her on the head then pointed a gun at her and asked her to leave the sustained redness in her cheek, black eye on her left eye, fist blow on the stomach,
house; she then went to her sister’s house in Binondo where she was fetched by her blood clot and a blackish discoloration on both shoulders and a "bump" or "bukol" on
other siblings and brought to their parents house in Dagupan; the following day, she her head. The presence of these injuries was established by the testimonies of
went to her parent’s doctor, Dr. Vicente Elinzano for treatment of her injuries. 6 [Lucita] herself and her sister, Linda Lim. The Memorandum/Medical Certificate
William for his part denied that he ever inflicted physical harm on his wife, used also confirmed the evidence presented and does not deviate from the doctor’s main
insulting language against her, or whipped the children with the buckle of his belt. testimony --- that [Lucita] suffered physical violence on [sic] the hands of her
husband, caused by physical trauma, slapping of the cheek, boxing and fist blows. and Dagupan, were acquired during the marriage through his (William’s) sole
The effect of the so-called alterations in the Memorandum/Medical Certificate efforts; the only parties who will benefit from a decree of legal separation are
questioned by [William] does not depart from the main thrust of the testimony of the Lucita’s parents and siblings while such decree would condemn him as a violent and
said doctor. cruel person, a wife-beater and child abuser, and will taint his reputation, especially
Also, the testimony of [Lucita] herself consistently and constantly established that among the Filipino-Chinese community; substantial facts and circumstances have
[William] inflicted repeated physical violence upon her during their marriage and been overlooked which warrant an exception to the general rule that factual findings
that she had been subjected to grossly abusive conduct when he constantly hurled of the trial court will not be disturbed on appeal; the findings of the trial court that he
invectives at her even in front of their customers and employees, shouting words committed acts of repeated physical violence against Lucita and their children were
like, "gaga", "putang ina mo," tanga," and "you don’t know anything." not sufficiently established; what took place were disagreements regarding the
These were further corroborated by several incidents narrated by Linda Lim who manner of raising and disciplining the children particularly Charleston, Lucita’s
lived in their conjugal home from 1989 to 1991. She saw her sister after the favorite son; marriage being a social contract cannot be impaired by mere verbal
December 14, 1995 incident when she (Lucita) was fetched by the latter on the same disagreements and the complaining party must adduce clear and convincing evidence
date. She was a witness to the kind of relationship her sister and [William] had to justify legal separation; the CA erred in relying on the testimonies of Lucita and
during the three years she lived with them. She observed that [William] has an her witnesses, her sister Linda Lim, and their parent’s doctor, Dr. Vicente Elinzanzo,
"explosive temper, easily gets angry and becomes very violent." She cited several whose testimonies are tainted with relationship and fraud; in the 20 years of their
instances which proved that William Ong indeed treated her wife shabbily and marriage, Lucita has not complained of any cruel behavior on the part of William in
despicably, in words and deeds. relation to their marital and family life; William expressed his willingness to receive
xxx respondent unconditionally however, it is Lucita who abandoned the conjugal
That the physical violence and grossly abusive conduct were brought to bear upon dwelling on December 14, 1995 and instituted the complaint below in order to
[Lucita] by [William] have been duly established by [Lucita] and her witnesses. appropriate for herself and her relatives the conjugal properties; the Constitution
These incidents were not explained nor controverted by [William], except by making provides that marriage is an inviolable social institution and shall be protected by the
a general denial thereof. Consequently, as between an affirmative assertion and a State, thus the rule is the preservation of the marital union and not its infringement;
general denial, weight must be accorded to the affirmative assertion. only for grounds enumerated in Art. 55 of the Family Code, which grounds should
The grossly abusive conduct is also apparent in the instances testified to by [Lucita] be clearly and convincingly proven, can the courts decree a legal separation among
and her sister. The injurious invectives hurled at [Lucita] and his treatment of her, in the spouses.14
its entirety, in front of their employees and friends, are enough to constitute grossly Respondent Lucita in her Comment, meanwhile, asserts that: the issues raised in the
abusive conduct. The aggregate behavior of [William] warrants legal separation present petition are factual; the findings of both lower courts rest on strong and clear
under grossly abusive conduct. x x x11 evidence borne by the records; this Court is not a trier of facts and factual findings of
William filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the CA on April 26, the RTC when confirmed by the CA are final and conclusive and may not be
2002.12 reviewed on appeal; the contention of William that Lucita filed the case for legal
Hence the present petition where William claims that: separation in order to remove from William the control and ownership of their
I conjugal properties and to transfer the same to Lucita’s family is absurd; Lucita will
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN not just throw her marriage of 20 years and forego the companionship of William
DISREGARDING CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT THE PETITION FOR LEGAL and her children just to serve the interest of her family; Lucita left the conjugal home
SEPARATION WAS INSTITUTED BY THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT FOR because of the repeated physical violence and grossly abusive conduct of petitioner. 15
THE SOLE PURPOSE OF REMOVING FROM PETITIONER THE CONTROL Petitioner filed a Reply, reasserting his claims in his petition, 16 as well as a
AND OWNERSHIP OF THEIR CONJUGAL PROPERTIES AND TO TRANSFER Memorandum where he averred for the first time that since respondent is guilty of
THE SAME TO PRIVATE RESPONDENT’S FAMILY. abandonment, the petition for legal separation should be denied following Art. 56,
II par. (4) of the Family Code.17 Petitioner argues that since respondent herself has
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN given ground for legal separation by abandoning the family simply because of a
DISREGARDING CLEAR EVIDENCE REPUDIATING PRIVATE quarrel and refusing to return thereto unless the conjugal properties were placed in
RESPONDENT’S CLAIM OF REPEATED PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AND the administration of petitioner’s in-laws, no decree of legal separation should be
GROSSLY ABUSIVE CONDUCT ON THE PART OF PETITIONER.13 issued in her favor.18
William argues that: the real motive of Lucita and her family in filing the case is to Respondent likewise filed a Memorandum reiterating her earlier assertions.19
wrest control and ownership of properties belonging to the conjugal partnership; We resolve to deny the petition.
these properties, which include real properties in Hong Kong, Metro Manila, Baguio
It is settled that questions of fact cannot be the subject of a petition for review under a. Unlike before I considered December 14, 1995 the very serious because before it
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The rule finds more stringent application where the is only on the arm and black eye, but on this December 14, I suffered bruises in all
CA upholds the findings of fact of the trial court. In such instance, this Court is parts of my body, sir.32
generally bound to adopt the facts as determined by the lower courts. 20 To these, all William and his witnesses, could offer are denials and attempts to
The only instances when this Court reviews findings of fact are: downplay the said incidents.33
(1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; As between the detailed accounts given for Lucita and the general denial for
(2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when William, the Court gives more weight to those of the former. The Court also gives a
there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a great amount of consideration to the assessment of the trial court regarding the
misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of facts are conflicting; (6) when in credibility of witnesses as trial court judges enjoy the unique opportunity of
making its findings the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its observing the deportment of witnesses on the stand, a vantage point denied appellate
findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) tribunals.34 Indeed, it is settled that the assessment of the trial court of the credibility
when the findings are contrary to that of the trial court; (8) when the findings are of witnesses is entitled to great respect and weight having had the opportunity to
conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses while testifying. 35
the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner’s main and reply briefs In this case, the RTC noted that:
are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on William’s denial and that of his witnesses of the imputation of physical violence
the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; and committed by him could not be given much credence by the Court. Since the office
(11) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not secretary Ofelia Rosal and the family laundrywoman Rosalino Morco are dependent
disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different upon defendant for their livelihood, their testimonies may be tainted with bias and
conclusion.21 they could not be considered as impartial and credible witnesses. So with Kingston
As petitioner failed to show that the instant case falls under any of the exceptional Ong who lives with defendant and depends upon him for support. 36
circumstances, the general rule applies. Parenthetically, William claims that that the witnesses of Lucita are not credible
Indeed, this Court cannot review factual findings on appeal, especially when they are because of their relationship with her. We do not agree. Relationship alone is not
borne out by the records or are based on substantial evidence.22 In this case, the reason enough to discredit and label a witness’s testimony as biased and unworthy of
findings of the RTC were affirmed by the CA and are adequately supported by the credence37 and a witness’ relationship to one of the parties does not automatically
records. affect the veracity of his or her testimony.38 Considering the detailed and
As correctly observed by the trial court, William himself admitted that there was no straightforward testimonies given by Linda Lim and Dr. Vicente Elinzano, bolstered
day that he did not quarrel with his wife, which made his life miserable, and he by the credence accorded them by the trial court, the Court finds that their
blames her for being negligent of her wifely duties and for not reporting to him the testimonies are not tainted with bias.
wrongdoings of their children. 23 William also posits that the real motive of Lucita in filing the case for legal
Lucita and her sister, Linda Lim, also gave numerous accounts of the instances when separation is in order for her side of the family to gain control of the conjugal
William displayed violent temper against Lucita and their children; such as: when properties; that Lucita was willing to destroy his reputation by filing the legal
William threw a steel chair at Lucita;24 threw chairs at their children;25 slapped separation case just so her parents and her siblings could control the properties he
Lucita and utter insulting words at her;26 use the buckle of the belt in whipping the worked hard for. The Court finds such reasoning hard to believe. What benefit would
children;27 pinned Lucita against the wall with his strong arms almost strangling her, Lucita personally gain by pushing for her parents’ and siblings’ financial interests at
and smashed the flower vase and brick rocks and moldings leaving the bedroom in the expense of her marriage? What is more probable is that there truly exists a
disarray;28 shouted at Lucita and threw a directory at her, in front of Linda and the ground for legal separation, a cause so strong, that Lucita had to seek redress from
employees of their business, because he could not find a draft letter on his table;29got the courts. As aptly stated by the RTC,
mad at Charleston for cooking steak with vetchin prompting William to smash the ...it would be unthinkable for her to throw away this twenty years of relationship,
plate with steak and hit Charleston, then slapped Lucita and shouted at her "putang abandon the comforts of her home and be separated from her children whom she
ina mo, gago, wala kang pakialam, tarantado" when she sided with loves, if there exists no cause, which is already beyond her endurance. 39
Charleston;30 and the December 9 and December 14, 1995 incidents which forced The claim of William that a decree of legal separation would taint his reputation and
Lucita to leave the conjugal dwelling.31 label him as a wife-beater and child-abuser also does not elicit sympathy from this
Lucita also explained that the injuries she received on December 14, 1995, were not Court. If there would be such a smear on his reputation then it would not be because
the first. As she related before the trial court: of Lucita’s decision to seek relief from the courts, but because he gave Lucita reason
q. You stated on cross examination that the injuries you sustained on December 14, to go to court in the first place.
1995 were the most serious?
Also without merit is the argument of William that since Lucita has abandoned the SECOND DIVISION
family, a decree of legal separation should not be granted, following Art. 56, par. (4) [G.R. No. 132592. January 23, 2002]
of the Family Code which provides that legal separation shall be denied when both AIDA P. BAEZ, petitioner, vs. GABRIEL B. BAEZ, respondent.
parties have given ground for legal separation. The abandonment referred to by the [G.R. No. 133628. January 23, 2002]
Family Code is abandonment without justifiable cause for more than one year. 40 As it AIDA P. BAEZ, petitioner, vs. GABRIEL B. BAEZ, respondent.
was established that Lucita left William due to his abusive conduct, such does not
constitute abandonment contemplated by the said provision. DECISION
As a final note, we reiterate that our Constitution is committed to the policy of QUISUMBING, J.:
strengthening the family as a basic social institution. 41 The Constitution itself These two petitions stem from the decision[1] dated September 23, 1996 of the
however does not establish the parameters of state protection to marriage and the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 20, in Civil Case No. CEB-16765. The
family, as it remains the province of the legislature to define all legal aspects of first[2] seeks the reversal of the Court of Appeals decision dated March 21, 1997,
marriage and prescribe the strategy and the modalities to protect it and put into setting aside the orders dated October 1 and November 22, 1996 of the Regional
operation the constitutional provisions that protect the same. 42 With the enactment of Trial Court. The second[3] prays for the reversal of the resolution dated February 10,
the Family Code, this has been accomplished as it defines marriage and the family, 1998, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CV-56265, denying the motion to
spells out the corresponding legal effects, imposes the limitations that affect married dismiss.
and family life, as well as prescribes the grounds for declaration of nullity and those The antecedent facts, as gathered from the parties pleadings, are as follows:
for legal separation.43 As Lucita has adequately proven the presence of a ground for On September 23, 1996, the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 20, decided Civil
legal separation, the Court has no reason but to affirm the findings of the RTC and Case No. CEB-16765, decreeing among others the legal separation between
the CA, and grant her the relief she is entitled to under the law. petitioner Aida Baez and respondent Gabriel Baez on the ground of the latters sexual
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. infidelity; the dissolution of their conjugal property relations and the division of the
Costs against petitioner. net conjugal assets; the forfeiture of respondents one-half share in the net conjugal
SO ORDERED. assets in favor of the common children; the payment to petitioners counsel of the
sum of P100,000 as attorneys fees to be taken from petitioners share in the net assets;
and the surrender by respondent of the use and possession of a Mazda motor vehicle
and the smaller residential house located at Maria Luisa Estate Park Subdivision to
petitioner and the common children within 15 days from receipt of the decision.
Thereafter, petitioner filed an urgent ex-parte motion to modify said decision, while
respondent filed a Notice of Appeal.
The trial court granted petitioner Aida Banez urgent ex-parte motion to modify the
decision on October 1, 1996 by approving the Commitment of Fees dated December
22, 1994; obliging petitioner to pay as attorneys fees the equivalent of 5% of the total
value of respondents ideal share in the net conjugal assets; and ordering the
administrator to pay petitioners counsel, Atty. Adelino B. Sitoy, the sum of P100,000
as advance attorneys fees chargeable against the aforecited 5%.[4]
In another motion to modify the decision, petitioner Aida Baez sought moral and
exemplary damages, as well as litigation expenses. On October 9, 1996, she filed a
motion for execution pending appeal. Respondent Gabriel Baez filed a consolidated
written opposition to the two motions, and also prayed for the reconsideration of the
October 1, 1996 order.
On November 22, 1996, the trial court denied Aidas motion for moral and exemplary
damages and litigation expenses but gave due course to the execution pending
appeal. Thus:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing premises, the petitioners motion to
modify decision is hereby ordered denied. But, petitioners motion for execution of
decision pending appeal is hereby granted. Consequently, let a writ of execution be
issued in this case to enforce the decision for (1) respondent to vacate the premises of
the small residential house situated in Maria Luisa Estate Park Subdivision, Lahug, The petitioner-appellee [Aida Baez] shall file her own brief with the court within 45
Cebu City and for (2) respondent to surrender the use and possession of said Mazda days from receipt of the petitioner-appellants [Gabriel Baez] brief.
motor vehicle together with its keys and accessories thereof to petitioner. SO ORDERED.[7]
Atty. Edgar Gica, the Special Administrator, appointed in this case, is hereby ordered The appellate court also denied herein petitioners motion for reconsideration, hence,
to make the necessary computation of the value of the one-half (1/2) share of the petition in G.R. No. 133628.
petitioner in the net remaining conjugal assets of the spouses within 10 days from On January 19, 2000, we consolidated the two petitions. Petitioner Aida Baez now
receipt of this order. avers that the Court of Appeals erred:
The petitioner is hereby ordered to post a bond in the amount of P1,500,000.00 to I. G.R. No. 132592
answer for all the damages that respondent may suffer arising from the issuance of ... IN SETTING ASIDE THE GRANT OF EXECUTION PENDING APPEAL BY
said writ of execution pending appeal and to further answer for all the advances that THE TRIAL COURT OF THE PORTIONS OF ITS DECISION ORDERING
petitioner may have received from the Special Administrator in this case pending RESPONDENT TO VACATE THE SMALLER RESIDENTIAL HOUSE
final termination of this present case.[5] LOCATED AT THE MARIA LUISA ESTATE PARK SUBDIVISION, CEBU
In turn, in a petition for certiorari, Gabriel Baez elevated the case to the Court of CITY, AND TO PAY P100,000.00 TO PETITIONERS COUNSEL AS
Appeals. On March 21, 1997, the appellate court rendered its decision, thus: ATTORNEYS FEES TO BE TAKEN FROM HER SHARE IN THE NET
WHEREFORE, the Order dated October 1, 1996 and the Omnibus Order dated CONJUGAL ASSETS.[8]
November 22, 1996, insofar as (1) it authorized the release of the sum of II. G.R. No. 133628:
P100,000.00 to private respondents counsel as the advanced share of private ... IN NOT GRANTING PETITIONERS MOTION TO DISMISS RESPONDENTS
respondent [Aida Baez] in the net remaining conjugal assets, and (2) granted the ORDINARY APPEAL AND/OR NOT RETURNING THE RECORDS OF CIVIL
motion for execution pending appeal by ordering petitioner [Gabriel Baez] to vacate CASE NO. CEB-16765 TO THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF CEBU.[9]
the premises of the small residential house situated in Maria Luisa Estate Park In G.R. No. 132592, petitioner manifested that she no longer questions the Court of
Subdivision, Lahug, Cebu City, and to surrender the use and possession of the Appeals decision on the Mazda vehicle because respondent repossessed it. As to the
Mazda Motor vehicle to private respondent are hereby SET ASIDE. The writ of residential house, she claimed that being conjugal in nature, justice requires that she
execution dated December 2, 1996 and the Order dated December 10, 1996 granting and her children be allowed to occupy and enjoy the house considering that during
the motion filed by the sheriff to make symbolic delivery of the subject house and the entire proceedings before the trial court, she did not have the chance to occupy it.
motor vehicle to the administrator of the partnership are also SET ASIDE. Further, she posted a bond of P1,500,000 for the damages which respondent may
As prayed for by petitioner, the Administrator of the conjugal partnership is hereby suffer.[10] For these reasons, she asked for execution pending appeal. The amount
ordered to cause the reimbursement by counsel for the private respondent [Aida of P100,000 as advance payment to her counsel was a drop in the bucket compared
Baez] of the amount of P100,000.00 released to him as advance payment of attorneys to the bond she posted, according to her. She also suggested as an alternative that she
fees. simply be required to put up an additional bond. She also agreed to submit to an
SO ORDERED.[6] accounting as regular administratrix and the advance attorneys fees be charged to her
On February 10, 1998, the Court of Appeals denied Aidas motion for share in the net conjugal assets.
reconsideration. Hence, the petition in G.R. No. 132592, filed by herein petitioner. In his comment, respondent denied petitioners allegation that she did not have the
In the meantime, the trial court gave due course to Gabriels Notice of Appeal and chance to occupy the residential house. He averred that she could have, had she
elevated on April 15, 1997 the entire case records to the Court of Appeals. Aida filed chosen to. According to him, as the inventory of the couples properties showed,
with the Court of Appeals a motion to dismiss the appeal on the ground that Gabriel petitioner owned two houses and lots and two motor vehicles in the United States,
had failed to file with the appellate court a Record on Appeal. On February 10, 1998, where she is a permanent resident. Respondent contended that there was no
the Court of Appeals decided the motion, thus: compelling reason for petitioner to have the judgment executed pending appeal.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitionerappellants motion to dismiss filed Essentially, the core issue in G.R. No. 132592 is whether execution of judgment
on November 3, 1997 is hereby DENIED. The appointment of the petitioner-appellee pending appeal was justified.
as administratix of the conjugal properties is hereby AFFIRMED. As held in Echaus vs. Court of Appeals, 199 SCRA 381, 386 (1991), execution
In view of petitioners Motion to Withdraw her own appeal filed on November 27, pending appeal is allowed when superior circumstances demanding urgency
1997, and for failing to pay the required docket fee within the prescribed period outweigh the damages that may result from the issuance of the writ. Otherwise,
under Rule 41, Section 4 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the appeal instituted instead of being an instrument of solicitude and justice, the writ may well become a
by the petitioner Aida P. Baez is hereby DISMISSED. tool of oppression and inequity.[11]
In continuance of the appeal of respondent-appellant [Gabriel Baez], he is hereby In this case, considering the reasons cited by petitioner, we are of the view that there
ordered to file his brief with the court within 45 days from receipt of this resolution. is no superior or urgent circumstance that outweighs the damage which respondent
would suffer if he were ordered to vacate the house. We note that petitioner did not liquidation of the absolute community or conjugal partnership, and custody of the
refute respondents allegations that she did not intend to use said house, and that she minor children, follow from the decree of legal separation. [19] They are not separate
has two (2) other houses in the United States where she is a permanent resident, or distinct matters that may be resolved by the court and become final prior to or
while he had none at all. Merely putting up a bond is not sufficient reason to justify apart from the decree of legal separation. Rather, they are mere incidents of legal
her plea for execution pending appeal. To do so would make execution routinary, the separation.[20] Thus, they may not be subject to multiple appeals.
rule rather than the exception.[12] Petitioners alternative prayers that in case we do not dismiss the appeal, we return
Similarly, we are not persuaded that the P100,000 advance payment to petitioners the records to the trial court and require respondent to file a record on appeal, or we
counsel was properly granted. We see no justification to pre-empt the judgment by return the records to the trial court and retain only the pleadings and orders relevant
the Court of Appeals concerning said amount of P100,000 at the time that the trial to the appeal, are untenable. If we grant the first, we are effectively saying that the
courts judgment was already on appeal. instant case is one involving multiple appeals, which it is not. If we allow the second,
In G.R. No. 133628, petitioner Aida Baez contends that an action for legal we are effectively applying by analogy, Section 6, Rule 44 and Section 6, Rule 135
separation is among the cases where multiple appeals may be taken. According to of the Rules of Court, without petitioner showing support therefor in law or
her, the filing of a record on appeal, pursuant to Section 2(a), Rule 41 of the Rules of jurisprudence.[21]
Court,[13] is required in this case. She concludes that respondents appeal should have WHEREFORE, the instant petitions are DENIED for lack of merit. The decision
been dismissed for his failure to file the record on appeal within the reglementary and resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 42663 and CA-G.R. No.
period, as provided under Section 1-b, Rule 50 of the Rules of Court.[14] CV-56265, respectively, are hereby AFFIRMED, so that the Order dated October 1,
Petitioner likewise prays that, in the event that we do not dismiss Gabriel Baez 1996, of the Regional Trial Court authorizing the release of P100,000 to petitioners
appeal, we should direct the appellate court to return the records of the case to the counsel; the Omnibus Order dated November 22, 1996 granting the motion pending
RTC of Cebu.Thereafter, according to her, respondent should file his record on appeal; the writ of execution dated December 2, 1996; and the Order dated
appeal for approval and transmittal to the Court of Appeals. In the alternative, she December 10, 1996 granting the motion by the sheriff to make symbolic delivery of
prays that the appellate court retain only the pleadings and evidence necessary to the house and vehicle are SET ASIDE. Further, the Administrator of the conjugal
resolve respondents appeal pursuant to Section 6, Rule 44[15] and Section 6, Rule partnership is ORDERED to cause the reimbursement by petitioners counsel of the
135[16] of the Rules of Court, and return the rest of the case records to the RTC. released amount of P100,000. The Court of Appeals is hereby DIRECTED to give
In turn, respondent argues that Section 39 of B.P. 129 [17] expressly abolished the due course to respondents appeal, and the Division Clerk of Court of this Court is
requirement of a record on appeal, except in appeals in special proceedings in likewise DIRECTED to promptly remand the record of these cases to the Court of
accordance with Rule 109,[18] and other cases wherein multiple appeals are allowed. Appeals.
An action for legal separation, he avers, is neither a special proceeding nor one Costs against petitioner.
where multiple appeals are allowed. SO ORDERED.
Now, is an action for legal separation one where multiple appeals are allowed? We
do not think so.
In Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila v. Court of Appeals, 258 SCRA 186, 194
(1996), this Court held:
xxx Multiple appeals are allowed in special proceedings, in actions for recovery of
property with accounting, in actions for partition of property with accounting, in the
special civil actions of eminent domain and foreclosure of mortgage. The rationale
behind allowing more than one appeal in the same case is to enable the rest of the
case to proceed in the event that a separate and distinct issue is resolved by the court
and held to be final.
In said case, the two issues raised by therein petitioner that may allegedly be the
subject of multiple appeals arose from the same cause of action, and the subject
matter pertains to the same lessor-lessee relationship between the parties. Hence,
splitting the appeals in that case would only be violative of the rule against
multiplicity of appeals.
The same holds true in an action for legal separation. The issues involved in the case
will necessarily relate to the same marital relationship between the parties. The
effects of legal separation, such as entitlement to live separately, dissolution and
Republic of the Philippines were forgeries; and (3) she was suffering from "emotional confusion arising from
SUPREME COURT extreme jealousy." The truth, she stated, was that her husband had remained a
Manila faithful and responsible family man. She further asserted that he had neither entered
EN BANC into an amorous relationship with one Gina Espita nor abandoned his
family. 5 Supporting her letter were an Affidavit of Desistance 6 and a Motion to
A.C. No. 3405 June 29, 1998 Dismiss, 7 attached as Annexes A and B, which she filed before the IBP commission
JULIETA B. NARAG, complainant, on bar discipline. 8 In a Decision dared October 8, 1991, the IBP Board of
vs. Governors 9 dismissed the complaint of Mrs. Narag for failure to prosecute. 10
ATTY. DOMINADOR M. NARAG, respondent. The case took an unexpected turn when, on November 25, 1991, this
Court 11 received another letter 12 from the complainant, with her seven
PER CURIAM: children 13 as co-signatories, again appealing for the disbarment of her husband. She
Good moral character is a continuing qualification required of every member of the explained that she had earlier dropped the case against him because of his continuous
bar. Thus, when a lawyer fails to meet the exacting standard of moral integrity, the threats against her. 14
Supreme Court may withdraw his or her privilege to practice law. In his Comment on the complainant's letter of November 11, 1991, filed in
On November 13, 1989, Mrs. Julieta B. Narag filed an administrative complaint 1 for compliance with this Court's Resolution issued on July 6, 1992, 15 respondent prayed
disbarment against her husband, Atty. Dominador M. Narag, whom she accused of that the decision of the Board of Governors be affirmed. Denying that he had
having violated Canons 1 and 6, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Ethics for Lawyers. 2 threatened, harassed or intimidated his wife, he alleged that she had voluntarily
The complainant narrated: executed her Affidavit of Desistance 16and Motion to Dismiss, 17 even appearing
The St. Louis College of Tuguegarao engaged the services of Atty. Dominador M. before the investigating officer, Commissioner Racela, to testify under oath "that she
Narag in the early seventies as a full-time college instructor in the College of Arts prepared the Motion to Dismiss and Affidavit of Desistance on her own free will and
and Sciences and as a professor in the Graduate School. In 1984, Ms. Gina Espita, 17 affirmed the contents thereof."
years old and a first year college student, enrolled in subjects handled by Atty. In addition, he professed his love for his wife and his children and denied
Narag. Exerting his influence as her teacher, and as a prominent member of the legal abandoning his family to live with his paramour. However, he described his wife as a
profession and then member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Tuguegarao, Atty. Narag person emotionally disturbed, viz:
courted Ms. Espita, gradually lessening her resistance until the student acceded to his What is pitiable here is the fact that Complainant is an incurably jealous and
wishes. possessive woman, and every time the streak of jealousy rears its head, she fires off
They then maintained an illicit relationship known in various circles in the letters or complaints against her husband in every conceivable forum, all without
community, but which they managed to from me. It therefore came as a terrible basis, and purely on impulse, just to satisfy the consuming demands of her "loving"
embar[r]assment to me, with unspeakable grief and pain when my husband jealousy. Then, as is her nature, a few hours afterwards, when her jealousy cools off,
abandoned us, his family, to live with Ms. Espita, in utterly scandalous she repents and feels sorry for her acts against the Respondent. Thus, when she wrote
circumstances. the Letter of November 11, 1991, she was then in the grips of one of her bouts of
It appears that Atty. Narag used his power and influence as a member of the jealousy.18
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Cagayan to cause the employment of Ms. Espita at the On August 24, 1992, this Court issued another Resolution referring the Comment of
Department of Trade and Industry Central Office at Makati, Metro Manila. Out of respondent to the IBP. 19 In the hearing before IBP Commissioner Plaridel C. Jose,
gratitude perhaps, for this gesture, Ms. Espita agreed to live with Atty. Narag, her respondent alleged the following: 20
sense of right[e]ousness and morals completely corrupted by a member of the Bar. 2. Your Respondent comes from very poor parents who have left him not even a
It is now a common knowledge in the community that Atty. Dominador M. Narag square meter of land, but gave him the best legacy in life: a purposeful and
has abandoned us, his family, to live with a 22-year-old woman, who was his former meaningful education. Complainant comes from what she claims to be very rich
student in the tertiary level[.] 3 parents who value material possession more than education and the higher and
This Court, in a Resolution dated December 18, 1989, referred the case to the nobler aspirations in life. Complainant abhors the poor.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and 3. Your Respondent has a loving upbringing, nurtured in the gentle ways of love,
recommendation. 4 forgiveness, humility, and concern for the poor. Complainant was reared and raised
On June 26, 1990, the office of then Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan received from in an entirely different environment. Her value system is the very opposite.
complainant another letter seeking the dismissal of the administrative complaint. She 4. Your Respondent loves his family very dearly, and has done all he could in thirty-
alleged therein that (1) she fabricated the allegations in her complaint to humiliate eight (38) years of marriage to protect and preserve his family. He gave his family
and spite her husband; (2) all the love letters between the respondent and Gina Espita sustenance, a comfortable home, love, education, companionship, and most of all, a
good and respected name. He was always gentle and compassionate to his wife and To prove the alleged propensity of his wife to file false charges, respondent
children. Even in the most trying times, he remained calm and never inflicted presented as evidence the following list of the complaints she had filed against him
violence on them. His children are all now full-fledged professionals, mature, and and Gina Espita:
gainfully employed. . . . 3.1 Complaint for Immorality/Neglect of Duty . . .
xxx xxx xxx 3.2 Complaint for Immorality/Neglect of Duty, DILG, Adm. Case No. P-5-90. . . .
Your Respondent subscribes to the sanctity of marriage as a social institution. 3.3 Complaint for Concubinage. Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Cagayan. I.S No.
On the other hand, consumed by insane and unbearable jealousy, Complainant has 89-114. . . .
been systematically and unceasingly destroying the very foundations of their 3.4 Complaint for Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices and concubinage.
marriage and their family. Their marriage has become a torture chamber in which OMBUDSMAN Case No. 1-92-0083. . . .
Your Respondent has been incessantly BEATEN, BATTERED, BRUTALIZED, 3.5 Complaint for Civil Support. RTC, Tuguegarao, Civil Case No. 4061.
TORTURED, ABUSED, and HUMILIATED, physically, mentally, and emotionally, DISMISSED.
by the Complainant, in public and at home. Their marriage has become a nightmare. 3.6 Complaint for Concubinage. Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Cagayan. I.S. No.
For thirty-eight years, your Respondent suffered in silence and bore the pain of his 92-109. DISMISSED. (. . .). Complainant filed Motion for Reconsideration.
misfortune with dignity and with almost infinite patience, if only to preserve their DENIED. (. . .).
family and their marriage. But this is not to be. The Complainant never mellowed 3.7 Complaint for Disbarment (. . .) with S[upreme] C[ourt]. Withdrawn (. . .).
and never became gentl[e], loving, and understanding. In fact, she became more DISMISSED by IBP Board of Governors (. . .). Re-instituted (. . .).
fierce and predatory. 3.8 Complaint for Disbarment, again (. . .). Adm. Case No. 3405. Pending.
Hence, at this point in time, the light at the tunnel for Your Respondent does not 3.9 Complaint for Concubinage, again (. . .). Third MCTC, Tumauini, Isabela.
seem in sight. The darkness continues to shroud the marital and familial landscape. Pending. . . . 22
Your Respondent has to undergo a catharsis, a liberation from enslavement. In his desperate effort to exculpate himself, he averred:
Paraphrasing Dorfman in "Death and the Maiden", can the torturer and the tortured I. That all the alleged love letters and envelopes (. . .), picture (. . .) are inadmissible
co-exist and live together? in evidence as enunciated by the Supreme Court in "Cecilia Zulueta vs. Court of
Hence, faced with an absolutely uncomprehending and uncompromising mind whose Appeals, et.al.", G.R. No. 107383, February 20, 1996. (. . .).
only obsession now is to destroy, destroy, and destroy, Your Respondent, with xxx xxx xxx
perpetual regret and with great sorrow, filed a Petition for Annulment of Marriage, II. That respondent is totally innocent of the charges: He never courted Gina Espita
Spl. Proc. No. 566, RTC, Branch III, Tuguegarao, Cagayan. . . . in the Saint Louis College of Tuguegarao. He never caused the employment of said
5. Complainant is a violent husband-beater, vitriolic and unbending. But your woman in the DTI. He never had or is having any illicit relationship with her
Respondent never revealed these destructive qualities to other people. He preserved anywhere, at any time. He never lived with her as husband and wife anywhere at any
the good name and dignity of his wife. This is in compliance with the marital vow to time, be it in Centro Tumauini or any of its barangays, or in any other place. He
love, honor or obey your spouse, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health . . . never begot a child or children with her. Finally, respondent submits that all the other
Even in this case, Your Respondent never revealed anything derogatory to his wife. allegations of Mrs. Narag are false and fabricated, . . .
It is only now that he is constrained to reveal all these things to defend himself. xxx xxx xxx
On the other hand, for no reason at all, except a jealous rage, Complainant tells III. Respondent never abandoned his family[.] Mrs. Narag and her two sons forcibly
everyone, everywhere, that her husband is worthless, good-for-nothing, evil and drove respondent Narag out of the conjugal home. After that, Atty. Narag tried to
immoral. She goes to colleges and universities, professional organizations, religious return to the conjugal home many times with the help of mutual friends to save the
societies, and all other sectors of the community to tell them how evil, bad and marriage and the family from collapse. He tried several times to reconcile with Mrs.
immoral her husband is. She tells them not to hire him as professor, as Counsel, or Narag. In fact, in one of the hearings of the disbarment case, he offered to return
any other capacity because her husband is evil, bad, and immoral. Is this love? Since home and to reconcile with Mrs. Narag. But Mrs. Narag refused all these efforts of
when did love become an instrument to destroy a man's dearest possession in life — respondent Narag. . . .
his good name, reputation and dignity? IV. Complainant Julieta B. Narag is an unbearably jealous, violent, vindictive,
Because of Complainant's virulent disinformation campaign against her husband, scandalous, virulent and merciless wife since the beginning of the marriage, who
employing every unethical and immoral means to attain his ends, Your Respondent incessantly beat, battered, brutalized, tortured, abuse[d], scandalized, and humiliated
has been irreparably and irreversibly disgraced, shamed, and humiliated. Your respondent Atty. Narag, physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically, . . .
Respondent is not a scandalous man. It is he who has been mercilessly scandalized V. Complainant Julieta Narag's claim in her counter-manifestation dated March 28,
and crucified by the Complainant. 21 1996, to the effect that the affidavit of Dominador B. Narag, Jr., dated February 27,
1996 was obtained through force and intimidation, is not true. Dominador, Jr.,
executed his affidavit freely, voluntarily, and absolutely without force or The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
intimidation, as shown by the transcript of stenographic notes of the testimonies of Rule 1.01 — A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
Respondent Atty. Narag and Tuguegarao MTC Judge Dominador Garcia during the conduct.
trial of Criminal Case No. 12439, People vs. Dominador M. Narag, et. al., before the CANON 7 — A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
Tuguegarao MTC on May 3, 1996. . . . profession, and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
xxx xxx xxx Rule 7.03 — A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his
VI. Respondent Atty. Narag is now an old man — a senior citizen of 63 years — fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
sickly, abandoned, disgraced, weakened and debilitated by progressively scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
degenerative gout and arthritis, and hardly able to earn his own keep. His very Thus, good moral character is not only a condition precedent 28 to the practice of law,
physical, medical, psychological, and economic conditions render him unfit and but a continuing qualification for all members of the bar. Hence, when a lawyer is
unable to do the things attributed to him by the complainant. Please see the attached found guilty of gross immoral conduct, he may be suspended or disbarred.29
medical certificates, . . ., among many other similar certificates touching on the same Immoral conduct has been defined as that conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or
ailments. Respondent is also suffering from hypertension. 23 shameless as to show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of
On July 18, 1997, the investigating officer submitted his report, 24 recommending the the community. 30 Furthermore, such conduct must not only be immoral,
indefinite suspension of Atty. Narag from the practice of law. The material portions but grossly immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act or
of said report read as follows: so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree 31 or committed under such
Culled from the voluminous documentary and testimonial evidence submitted by the scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency. 32
contending parties, two (2) issues are relevant for the disposition of the case, namely: We explained in Barrientos vs. Daarol 33 that, "as officers of the court, lawyers must
a) Whether there was indeed a commission of alleged abandonment of respondent's not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral
own family and [whether he was] living with his paramour, Gina Espita; character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the
b) Whether the denial under oath that his illegitimate children with Gina Espita community. More specifically, a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not
(Aurelle Dominic and Kyle Dominador) as appearing on paragraph 1(g) of only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or the keeping of mistresses
respondent's Comment vis-a-vis his handwritten love letters, the due execution and but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the
contents of which, although he objected to their admissibility for being allegedly belief that he is flouting those moral standards."
forgeries, were never denied by him on the witness stand much less presented and Respondent Narag is accused of gross immorality for abandoning his family in order
offered proof to support otherwise. to live with Gina Espita. The burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the
Except for the testimonies of respondent's witnesses whose testimonies tend to depict Court will exercise its disciplinary power only if she establishes her case by clear,
the complaining wife, Mrs. Narag, as an incurably jealous wife and possessive convincing and satisfactory evidence. 34
woman suffering everytime with streaks of jealousy, respondent did not present Presented by complainant as witnesses, aside from herself. 35 were: Charlie
himself on the witness stand to testify and be cross-examined on his sworn comment; Espita, 36 Magdalena Bautista, 37Bienvenido Eugenio, 38 Alice Carag, 39 Dr. Jervis B.
much less did he present his alleged paramour, Gina Espita, to disprove the Narag, 40 Dominador Narag, Jr., 41 and Nieves F. Reyes. 42
adulterous relationship between him and their having begotten their illegitimate Charlie Espita, brother of the alleged paramour Gina Espita, corroborated
children, namely: Aurelle Dominic N. Espita and Kyle Dominador N. Espita. Worse, complainant's charge against respondent in these categorical statements he gave to
respondent's denial that he is the father of the two is a ground for disciplinary the investigating officer:
sanction (Morcayda v. Naz, 125 SCRA 467). Q Mr. Witness, do you know Atty. Narag?
Viewed from all the evidence presented, we find the respondent subject to A Yes, Your Honor, he is the live-in partner of my sister, Gina Espita.
disciplinary action as a member of the legal profession. 25 Q If Atty. Narag is here, can you point [to] him?
In its Resolution 26 issued on August 23, 1997, the IBP adopted and approved the A Yes, sir.
investigating commissioner's recommendation for the indefinite suspension of the (Witness pointed to the respondent, Atty. Dominador Narag)
respondent. 27 Subsequently the complaint sought the disbarment of her husband in a Q Why do you know Atty. Narag?
Manifestation/Comment she filed on October 20, 1997. The IBP granted this stiffer ATTY. NARAG:
penalty and, in its Resolution dated November 30, 1997, denied respondent's Motion Already answered. He said I am the live-in partner.
for Reconsideration. CONTINUATION OF THE DIRECT
After a careful scrutiny of the records of the proceedings and the evidence presented A Because he is the live-in partner of my sister and that they are now living together
by the parties, we find that the conduct of respondent warrants the imposition of the as husband and wife and that they already have two children, Aurelle Dominic and
penalty of disbarment. Kyle Dominador.
xxx xxx xxx respondent back, that the Narag couple again separated when the respondent "went
During cross-examination conducted by the respondent himself, Charlie Espita back to his woman," and that Atty. Narag had maltreated his wife. 47
repeated his account that his sister Gina was living with the respondent, with whom On the strength of the testimony of her witnesses, the complainant was able to
she had two children: establish that respondent abandoned his family and lived with another woman.
Q Mr. Espita, you claim that Atty. Narag is now living with your sister as husband Absent any evidence showing that these witnesses had an ill motive to testify falsely
and wife. You claim that? against the respondent, their testimonies are deemed worthy of belief.
A Yes, sir. Further, the complainant presented as evidence the love letters that respondent had
Q Why do you say that? sent to Gina. In these letters, respondent clearly manifested his love for Gina and her
A Because at present you are living together as husband and wife and you have two children, whom he acknowledged as his own. In addition, complainant, also
already two children and I know that is really an immoral act which you cannot just submitted as evidence the cards that she herself had received from him. Guided by
allow me to follow since my moral values don't allow me that my sister is living with the rule that handwriting may be proved through a comparison of one set of writings
a married man like you. with those admitted or treated by the respondent as genuine, we affirm that the two
Q How do you know that Atty. Narag is living with your sister? Did you see them in sets of evidence were written by one and the same person. 48 Besides, respondent did
the house? not present any evidence to prove that the love letters were not really written by him;
A Yes, si[r]. he merely denied that he wrote them.
xxx xxx xxx While the burden of proof is upon the complainant, respondent has the duty not only
Q You said also that Atty. Narag and your sister have two children, Aurelle Dominic to himself but also to the court to show that he is morally fit to remain a member of
and Kyle Dominador, is it not? the bar. Mere denial does not suffice. Thus, when his moral character is assailed,
A Yes, sir. such that his right to continue practicing his cherished profession is imperiled, he
Q How do you know that they are the children of Atty. Narag? must meet the charges squarely and present evidence, to the satisfaction of the
A Because you are staying together in that house and you have left your family. 44 investigating body and this Court, that he is morally fit to have his name in the Roll
In addition, Charlie Espita admitted (1) that it was he who handed to Mrs. Narag the of Attorneys. 49 This he failed to do.
love letters respondent had sent to his sister, and (2) that Atty. Narag tried to Respondent adamantly denies abandoning his family to live with Gina Espita. At the
dissuade him from appearing at the disbarment proceedings. 45 same time, he depicts his wife as a "violent husband-beater, vitriolic and unbending,"
Witness Bienvenido Eugenio strengthened the testimony of Charlie Espita in this and as an "insanely and pathologically jealous woman," whose only obsession was to
wise: "destroy, destroy and destroy" him as shown by her filing of a series of allegedly
Q Mr. Witness, do you know the respondent in this case? unfounded charges against him (and Gina Espita). To prove his allegation, he
A I know him very well, sir. presented ninety-eight (98) pieces of documentary evidence 50 and ten (10)
Q Could you please tell us why do you know him? witnesses. 51
A Because he was always going to the house of my son-in-law by the name of We note, however, that the testimonies of the witnesses of respondent did not
Charlie Espita. establish the fact that he maintained that moral integrity required by the profession
xxx xxx xxx that would render him fit to continue practicing law. Neither did their testimonies
Q Mr. Eugenio, do you know the residence of Atty. Dominador M. Narag? destroy the fact, as proven by the complainant, that he had abandoned his family and
A At that time, he [was] residing in the house of Reynaldo Angubong, sir. lived with Gina Espita, with whom he had two children. Some of them testified on
Q And this is located where? matters which they had no actual knowledge of, but merely relied on information
A Centro Tamauini, Isabela, sir. from either respondent himself or other people, while others were presented to
Q And you specifically, categorically state under oath that this is the residence of impeach the good character of his wife.
Atty. Narag? Respondent may have provided well for his family — they enjoyed a comfortable
A Yes, sir. life and his children finished their education. He may have also established himself
xxx xxx xxx as a successful lawyer and a seasoned politician. But these accomplishments are not
Q And under oath this is where Atty. Narag and Gina Espita are allegedly living as sufficient to show his moral fitness to continue being a member of the noble
husband and wife, is it not? profession of law.
A Yes, sir. 46 We remind respondent that parents have not only rights but also duties — e.g., to
Witness Nieves Reyes, a neighbor and friend of the estranged couple, testified that support, educate and instruct their children according to right precepts and good
she learned from the Narag children — Randy, Bong and Rowena — that their father example; and to give them love, companionship and understanding, as well as moral
left his family, that she and her husband prodded the complainant to accept the
and spiritual guidance. 52 As a husband, he is also obliged to live with his wife; to A Because my wife wa[s] ashamed of what happened to my family and that she
observe mutual love, respect and fidelity; and to render help and support. 53 could not face the people, our community, especially because my wife belongs to a
Respondent himself admitted that his work required him to be often away from well-known family in our community.
home. But the evidence shows that he was away not only because of his work; Q How about the effect on your brothers and sisters? Please tell us what are those.
instead, he abandoned his family to live with her paramour, who bore him two A Well, sir, this has also affected the health of my elder sister because she knows so
children. It would appear, then, that he was hardly in a position to be a good husband well that my mother suffered so much and she kept on thinking about my mother.
or a good father. His children, who grew up mostly under the care of their mother, xxx xxx xxx
must have scarcely felt the warmth of their father's love. Q Why did your wife leave you?
Respondent's son, Jervis B. Narag, showed his resentment towards his father's moral A The truth is because of the things that had happened in our family, Your Honor.
frailties in his testimony: Q In your wife's family?
Q My question is this, is there any sin so grievous that it cannot be forgiven, is there A In our family, sir.
a fault that is so serious that it is incapable of forgiveness? Q And what do you mean by that?
A That depends upon the sin or fault, sir, but if the sin or fault is with the emotional A What meant by that is my father had an illicit relationship and that my father went
part of myself, I suppose I cannot forgive a person although am a God-fearing to the extent of scolding my wife and calling my wife a "puta" in provincial
person, but I h[av]e to give the person a lesson in order for him or her to at least government, which my mother-in-law hated him so much for this, which really
realize his mistakes, sir. affected us. And then my wife knew for a fact that my father has an illicit
xxx xxx xxx relationship with Gina Espita, whom he bore two children by the name of Aurelle
COMR. JOSE: Dominic and Kyle Dominador, which I could prove and I stand firm to this, Your
I think it sounds like this. Assuming for the sake of argument that your father is the Honor. 55
worst, hardened criminal on earth, would you send him to jail and have him Although respondent piously claims adherence to the sanctity of marriage, his acts
disbarred? That is the question. prove otherwise. A husband is not merely a man who has contracted marriage.
CONTINUATION. Rather, he is a partner who has solemnly sworn to love and respect his wife and
A With the reputation that he had removed from us, I suppose he has to be given a remain faithful to her until death.
lesson. At this point in time, I might just forgive him if he will have to experience all We reiterate our ruling in Cordova vs. Cordova 56: "The moral delinquency that
the pains that we have also suffered for quite sometime. affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such includes conduct that
Q Dr. Narag, your father gave you life, his blood runs in your veins, his flesh is your outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community, conduct for
flesh, his bones are your bones and you now disown him because he is the worst man instance, which makes a mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage."
on earth, is that what you are saying. In Toledo vs. Toledo, 57 the respondent was disbarred from the practice of law, when
A Sort of, sir. he abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited with another woman who had borne him
Q You are now telling that as far [as] you are concerned because your father has a child.
sinned, you have no more father, am I correct? Likewise, in Obusan vs. Obusan, 58 the respondent was disbarred after the
A Long before, sir, I did not feel much from my father even when I was still a kid complainant proved that he had abandoned her and maintained an adulterous
because my father is not always staying with us at home. So, how can you say that? relationship with a married woman. This Court declared that respondent failed to
Yes, he gave me life, why not? But for sure, sir, you did not give me love. 54 maintain the highest degree of morality expected and required of a member of the
Another son, Dominador Narag, Jr., narrated before the investigating officer the bar.
trauma he went through: In the present case, the complainant was able to establish, by clear and convincing
Q In connection with that affidavit, Mr. Witness, which contains the fact that your evidence, that respondent had breached the high and exacting moral standards set for
father is maintaining a paramour, could you please tell this Honorable Commission members of the law profession. As held in Maligsa vs. Cabanting, 59 "a lawyer may
the effect on you? be disbarred for any misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity,
A This has a very strong effect on me and this includes my brothers and sisters, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity and good
especially my married life, sir. And it also affected my children so much, that I and demeanor or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court."
my wife ha[ve] parted ways. It hurts to say that I and my wife parted ways. This is WHEREFORE, Dominador M. Narag is hereby DISBARRED and his name is
one reason that affected us. ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let copies of this Decision be
Q Will you please tell us specifically why you and your wife parted ways? in the personal record of Respondent Narag; and furnished to all courts of the land,
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Bar Confidant.
SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 115795. March 6, 1998] The reversal was anchored on the failure by the private respondent, in dismissing
JOSE S. SANTOS, JR., petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS Mrs. Martin, to accord her the necessary procedural due process. [4]
COMMISSION, HAGONOY INSTITUTE INC., ITS DIRECTRESS, MARTA Meanwhile, private respondent set up a committee to investigate the veracity
B. ZUNIGA and PRINCIPAL B. BANAG, respondent. of the rumors. After two weeks of inquiry, the committee rendered its report
confirming the illicit relationship between the petitioner and Mrs. Martin. [5]
DECISION In view of the committees finding, on December 19, 1990, petitioner was charged
ROMERO, J.: administratively for immorality and was required to present his side on the
It is to state the obvious that schools, next only to the home, wield a weighty controversy. Five months later or in May 1991, petitioner was informed by the
influence upon the students, especially during the latters formative years, for it private respondents Board of Directors of his dismissal effective June 1,
instills in them the values and mores which shall prepare them to discharge their 1991.[6] Unable to accept such verdict, petitioner filed a complaint for illegal
rightful responsibilities as mature individuals in society. At the vanguard in nurturing dismissal on August 12, 1991 before the NLRC Regional Arbitration Branch No. III,
their growth are the teachers who are directly charged with rearing and educating San Fernando, Pampanga. After a full blown trial was conducted, Labor Arbiter
them. As such, a teacher serves as a role model for his students. Corollarily, he must Quintin C. Mendoza rendered a decision dated January 12, 1993, dismissing
not bring the teaching profession into public disrespect or disgrace. [1] For failure to petitioners complaint but at the same time awarding monetary sums as financial
live up to the exacting moral standards demanded by his profession, petitioner Jose assistance, the dispositive portion of which reads, thus:
Santos was dismissed from his employment on the ground of immorality. We uphold WHEREFORE, judgement is hereby issued dismissing the complaint, but ordering
his dismissal. respondent Hagonoy Institute Inc. and/or Mrs. Elisea B. Banag (respondent
The following facts are hereunder narrated. Principal) or Mrs. Marta B. Zuniga (respondent Directress) to pay complainant
Petitioner, a married man, was employed as a teacher by the private respondent (petitioner) the sum of thirteen thousand and seven hundred fifty (P13,750.00) pesos
Hagonoy Institute Inc. from June 1980 until his dismissal on June 1, 1991. Likewise (as financial assistance), the rest of the complaint being hereby dismissed for lack of
working as a teacher for the private respondent was Mrs. Arlene T. Martin, also basis or merit.
married. In the course of their employment, the couple fell in love. Thereafter, SO ORDERED.
rumors regarding the couples relationship spread, especially among the faculty In an effort to seek the reversal of the labor arbiters decision, petitioner filed an
members and school officials. appeal before the NLRC, which, however, did not find any substantial reason to
Concerned about the rumors, on November 3, 1990, the private respondent advised overturn the labor arbiters ruling. Thus, in a decision[7] dated November 29, 1993,
Mrs. Martin to take a leave of absence which she ignored, as she continued to report the NLRC dismissed the appeal, to wit:
for work.Consequently, on November 9, 1990, she was barred from reporting for WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal should be, as it is hereby,
work and was not allowed to enter the private respondents premises, effectively dismissed for lack of merit.
dismissing her from her employment. SO ORDERED.
In view of her termination from the service, on November 13, 1990, Mrs. Martin Petitioners motion for reconsideration suffered the same fate. [8] Thus, this petition
filed a case for illegal dismissal before the NLRC Regional Arbitration Branch No. for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
III, San Fernando, Pampanga[2] against the private respondent. After the parties had We hereby uphold the NLRCs finding dismissing petitioner from his employment.
submitted their respective evidence and position paper, Labor Arbiter Ariel Santos The crux of the controversy is whether the illicit relationship between the petitioner
rendered a decision dismissing the complaint, the dispositive part of which states: and Mrs. Martin could be considered immoral as to constitute just cause to
WHEREFORE, the complaint filed by the complainant Arlene Martin is hereby terminate an employee under Article 282 of the Labor Code.
DISMISSED for utter lack of merit. We have consistently held that in order to constitute a valid dismissal, two requisites
However, considering the length of service of complaint and for humanitarian reason must concur: (a) the dismissal must be for any of the causes expressed in Art. 282 of
she would be given financial assistance based on one-month pay on every year of the Labor Code, and (b) the employee must be accorded due process, basic of which
service. are the opportunity to be heard and defend himself. [9]
On appeal, the NLRC in a decision dated February 26, 1993, reversed the labor Under Article 282 of the Labor Code, as amended, the following are deemed just
arbiters ruling, the dispositive portion of the decision[3] reads: causes to terminate an employee:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is hereby SET ASIDE and (a) Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders
VACATED. Another one ENTERED ordering respondent to pay complainant her of his employer or representative in connection with his work;
backwages and separation pay in the total amount of P83,392.40. Complainants other (b) Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties:
claims are hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
(c) Fraud or willfull breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his Accordingly, teachers must abide by a standard of personal conduct which not only
employer or duly authorized representative; proscribes the commission of immoral acts, but also prohibits behavior creating a
(d) Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his suspicion of immorality because of the harmful impression it might have on the
employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorize students.[21] Likewise, they must observe a high standard of integrity and honesty. [22]
representative; and From the foregoing, it seems obvious that when a teacher engages in extra-marital
(e) Other causes analogous to the foregoing. relationship, especially when the parties are both married, such behavior amounts to
Moreover, it is provided inter alia under Section 94[10] of the Manual of Regulations immorality, justifying his termination from employment. [23]
for Private Schools: Having concluded that immorality is a just cause for dismissing petitioner, it is
Section 94. Causes of Terminating Employment. In addition to the just cases imperative that the private respondent prove the same. Since the burden of proof
enumerated in the Labor Code, the employment of school personnels, including rests upon the employer to show that the dismissal was for a just and valid
faculty, may be terminated for any of the following causes: cause,[24] the same must be supported by substantial evidence.[25]
xxx xxx xxx Undoubtedly, the question of immorality by the petitioner is factual in nature. Thus,
E. Disgraceful or immoral conduct. we reiterate the well-settled rule that factual findings by the NLRC, particularly
Private respondent, in justifying the termination of the petitioner, contends that being when it coincides with those by the Labor Arbiter, are accorded respect, even
a teacher, he must live up to the high moral standards required of his position. In finality, and will not be disturbed for as long as such findings are supported by
other words, it asserts that its purpose in dismissing the petitioner was to preserve the substantial evidence.[26] A scrutiny of the records of the instant petition leads us to
respect of the community towards the teachers and to strengthen the educational concur with the NLRCs finding that petitioner indeed entered into an illicit
system.[11] relationship with his co-teacher. This fact was attested to by the testimonies of nine
On the other hand, petitioner merely argues that the alleged illicit relationship was witnesses (a fourth year student, a security guard, a janitor and six co-teachers)
not substantially proven by convincing evidence by the private respondent as to which petitioner failed to rebut.
justify his dismissal. In fact, the petitioners only recourse was to deny the accusation and insinuate that
On the outset, it must be stressed that to constitute immorality, the circumstances of these witnesses were coerced by the private respondent to give their
each particular case must be holistically considered and evaluated in light of the testimonies. However, under such circumstances, it is not enough for petitioner to
prevailing norms of conduct and applicable laws.[12] American jurisprudence has simply cast doubt on the motives of the witnesses; he must present countervailing
defined immorality as a course of conduct which offends the morals of the evidence to prove that no such affair took place.
community and is a bad example to the youth whose ideals a teacher is supposed to In short, we cannot just ignore the witnesses affidavits and their subsequent
foster and to elevate,[13] the same including sexual misconduct.[14] Thus, in testimonies during the investigation as to the culpability of the petitioner on the sole
petitioners case, the gravity and seriousness of the charges against him stem from his basis of the latters denial. In any event, we have held that denial, if unsubstantiated
being a married man and at the same time a teacher. by clear and convincing evidence, is a negative and self-serving evidence which has
We cannot overemphasize that having an extra-marital affair is an afront to the no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary value over the testimony of
sanctity of marriage, which is a basic institution of society. Even our Family Code credible witnesses who testified on affirmative matters.[27]
provides that husband and wife must live together, observe mutual love, respect and Further bolstering the witnesses testimonies is the the absence of any motive on their
fidelity.[15] This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish part to falsely testify against the petitioner. Thus, since there is nothing to indicate
the validity of marriage and unity of the family. [16] Our laws, in implementing this that the witnesses were moved by dubious or improper motives to testify falsely
constitutional edict on marriage and the family underscore their permanence, against the petitioner, their testimonies are hereby accorded full faith and credit.
inviolability and solidarity.[17] Likewise, petitioner cannot take comfort from the letter dated November 7, 1990
As a teacher, petitioner serves as an example to his pupils, especially during their signed by 28 of his co-teachers, expressing their unequivocal support for Mrs. Arlene
formative years[18] and stands in loco parentis to them.[19] To stress their importance Martin.[28] It must be noted that the said letter did not in any way absolve Mrs.
in our society, teachers are given substitute and special parental authority under our Martin from any wrongdoing. It merely affirmed the fact that when she was forcibly
laws.[20] asked to take a leave of absence on November 3, 1990 the same was done in a
Consequently, it is but stating the obvious to assert that teachers must adhere to the precipitous manner, without the benefit of due process. Moreover, it must be stressed
exacting standards of morality and decency. There is no dichotomy of morality. A that the expression of support was personal to Mrs. Martin, and the same should not
teacher, both in his official and personal conduct, must display exemplary redound to the benefit of the petitioner. Indeed, if petitioner really had the support of
behavior. He must freely and willingly accept restrictions on his conduct that might his peers, then it should have been easy for him to obtain a similar letter from them
be viewed irksome by ordinary citizens. In other words, the personal behavior of in the course of his administrative investigation. However, not only did he not get
teachers, in and outside the classroom, must be beyond reproach. such support, but six of his co-teachers even testified against him during the inquiry.
Finally, petitioner cannot invoke in his favor the ruling in the Arlene Martin case, Republic of the Philippines
wherein the NLRC ruled that her dismissal was illegal. It must be noted that the SUPREME COURT
reason for declaring Martins dismissal as illegal was the failure by the private Manila
respondent to accord her the required due process.[29] FIRST DIVISION
As aptly observed by the NLRC in its decision:[30] G.R. No. 139789 July 19, 2001
In the case at bar, the complainant was amply afforded the due process requirements IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF
of law. He was dismissed only on June 1, 1991 after an exhaustive investigation. A POTENCIANO ILUSORIO, ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO, petitioner,
committee was formed to conduct an inquiry. (Rollo, pp. 43-44) An administrative vs.
charge for immorality was filed against him. (Rollo, p. 45) He was even required to ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO-BILDNER, SYLVIA K. ILUSORIO-YAP, JOHN
testify in said case. (Rollo, p. 46) He was given the opportunity to answer said DOES and JANE DOES, respondents.
accusation. (Rollo, p. 47) He was in fact present during the hearing on January 17, x---------------------------------------------------------x
1991 and gave his side. x x x In fine, herein complainant (petitioner) cannot G.R. No. 139808 July 19, 2001
successfully seek refuge in the cited case of Martin. (Rollo, pp. 48-49) POTENCIANO ILUSORIO, MA. ERLINDA I. BILDNER and SYLVIA K.
In view of our finding that petitioners dismissal was for a just and valid cause, the ILUSORIO, petitioners,
grant of financial assistance by the NLRC is without any factual and legal vs.
basis. In PLDT v. NLRC, [31]we held that: HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO, respondents.
We hold henceforth separation pay shall be as a measure of social justice only in
these instances where the employee is validly dismissed for cause other than serious RESOLUTION
misconduct or those reflecting his moral character. Where the reason for the valid PARDO, J.:
dismissal is, for example, habitual intoxication or an offense involving moral Once again we see the sad tale of a prominent family shattered by conflicts on
turpitude, like theft or illicit sexual relationship with a fellow worker, the employer expectancy in fabled fortune.
may not be required to give the dismissed employee separation pay, or financial On March 11, 1999, Erlinda K. Ilusorio, the matriarch who was so lovingly
assistance, or whatever other name it is called, on the ground of social justice. inseparable from her husband some years ago, filed a petition with the Court of
The above ruling has consistently been applied in terminating an employee when it Appeals1 for habeas corpus to have custody of her husband in consortium.
involves his moral character.[32] On April 5, 1999, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision dismissing the
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. The petition for lack of unlawful restraint or detention of the subject, Potenciano Ilusorio.
questioned Resolution dated March 8, 1994 and the decision of the National Labor Thus, on October 11, 1999, Erlinda K. Ilusorio filed with the Supreme Court an
Relations Commission dated November 29, 1993, are AFFIRMED with the appeal via certiorari pursuing her desire to have custody of her husband Potenciano
MODIFICATION deleting the financial assistance granted to petitioner in the Ilusorio.2 This case was consolidated with another case3 filed by Potenciano Ilusorio
amount of P13,750.00. Costs against petitioner. and his children, Erlinda I. Bildner and Sylvia K. Ilusorio appealing from the order
SO ORDERED. giving visitation rights to his wife, asserting that he never refused to see her.
On May 12, 2000, we dismissed the petition for habeas corpus 4 for lack of merit, and
granted the petition5 to nullify the Court of Appeals' ruling6 giving visitation rights to
Erlinda K. Ilusorio.7
What is now before the Court is Erlinda's motion to reconsider the decision. 8
On September 20, 2000, we set the case for preliminary conference on October 11,
2000, at 10:00 a. m., without requiring the mandatory presence of the parties.
In that conference, the Court laid down the issues to be resolved, to wit:
(a) To determine the propriety of a physical and medical examination of petitioner
Potenciano Ilusorio;
(b) Whether the same is relevant; and
(c) If relevant, how the Court will conduct the same.9
The parties extensively discussed the issues. The Court, in its resolution, enjoined the
parties and their lawyers to initiate steps towards an amicable settlement of the case
through mediation and other means.
On November 29, 2000, the Court noted the manifestation and compliance of the Fourth. Erlinda states that Article XII of the 1987 Constitution and Articles 68 and
parties with the resolution of October 11, 2000. 10 69 of the Family Code support her position that as spouses, they (Potenciano and
On January 31, 2001, the Court denied Erlinda Ilusorio's manifestation and motion Erlinda) are duty bound to live together and care for each other. We agree.
praying that Potenciano Ilusorio be produced before the Court and be medically The law provides that the husband and the wife are obliged to live together, observe
examined by a team of medical experts appointed by the Court. 11 mutual love, respect and fidelity.20 The sanction therefor is the "spontaneous, mutual
On March 27, 2001, we denied with finality Erlinda's motion to reconsider the affection between husband and wife and not any legal mandate or court order" to
Court's order of January 31 , 2001.12 enforce consortium.21
The issues raised by Erlinda K. Ilusorio in her motion for reconsideration are mere Obviously, there was absence of empathy between spouses Erlinda and Potenciano,
reiterations of her arguments that have been resolved in the decision. having separated from bed and board since 1972. We defined empathy as a shared
Nevertheless, for emphasis, we shall discuss the issues thus: feeling between husband and wife experienced not only by having spontaneous
First. Erlinda K. Ilusorio claimed that she was not compelling Potenciano to live sexual intimacy but a deep sense of spiritual communion. Marital union is a two-way
with her in consortium and that Potenciano's mental state was not an issue. However, process.
the very root cause of the entire petition is her desire to have her Marriage is definitely for two loving adults who view the relationship with "amor
husband's custody.13 Clearly, Erlinda cannot now deny that she wanted Potenciano gignit amorem" respect, sacrifice and a continuing commitment to togetherness,
Ilusorio to live with her. conscious of its value as a sublime social institution.22
Second. One reason why Erlinda K. Ilusorio sought custody of her husband was that On June 28, 2001, Potenciano Ilusorio gave his soul to the Almighty, his Creator and
respondents Lin and Sylvia were illegally restraining Potenciano Ilusorio to Supreme Judge. Let his soul rest in peace and his survivors continue the much
fraudulently deprive her of property rights out of pure greed. 14 She claimed that her prolonged fracas ex aequo et bono.
two children were using their sick and frail father to sign away Potenciano and IN VIEW WHEREOF, we DENY Erlinda's motion for reconsideration. At any rate,
Erlinda's property to companies controlled by Lin and Sylvia. She also argued that the case has been rendered moot by the death of subject.
since Potenciano retired as director and officer of Baguio Country Club and SO ORDERED.
Philippine Oversees Telecommunications, she would logically assume his position
and control. Yet, Lin and Sylvia were the ones controlling the corporations. 15
The fact of illegal restraint has not been proved during the hearing at the Court of
Appeals on March 23, 1999.16Potenciano himself declared that he was not prevented
by his children from seeing anybody and that he had no objection to seeing his wife
and other children whom he loved.
Erlinda highlighted that her husband suffered from various ailments. Thus,
Potenciano Ilusorio did not have the mental capacity to decide for himself. Hence,
Erlinda argued that Potenciano be brought before the Supreme Court so that we
could determine his mental state.
We were not convinced that Potenciano Ilusorio was mentally incapacitated to
choose whether to see his wife or not. Again, this is a question of fact that has been
decided in the Court of Appeals.
As to whether the children were in fact taking control of the corporation, these are
matters that may be threshed out in a separate proceeding, irrelevant in habeas
corpus.
Third. Petitioner failed to sufficiently convince the Court why we should not rely on
the facts found by the Court of Appeals. Erlinda claimed that the facts mentioned in
the decision were erroneous and incomplete. We see no reason why the High Court
of the land need go to such length. The hornbook doctrine states that findings of fact
of the lower courts are conclusive on the Supreme Court. 17 We emphasize, it is not
for the Court to weigh evidence all over again.18 Although there are exceptions to the
rule,19 Erlinda failed to show that this is an exceptional instance.
Republic of the Philippines as counsel for Katrina only. While it is true that during subsequent hearings, Atty.
SUPREME COURT Expedite Yumul, who collaborated with Atty. Albino, appeared for the defendants, it
Manila is not shown on record that said counsel also represented Romarico. In fact, a power
THIRD DIVISION of attorney which Atty. Albino produced during the trial, showed that the same was
executed solely by Katrina. 8
G.R. No. 70082 August 19, 1991 After trial, the court promulgated a decisions 9 in favor of the Wongs. It ordered
SPOUSES RICKY WONG and ANITA CHAN, LEONARDO JOSON, Katrina and Romarico Henson to pay the Wongs HK$199,895.00 or P321,830.95
JUANITO SANTOS, EMERITO SICAT and CONRADO with legal interest from May 27, 1975, the date of filing of the complaint, until fully
LAGMAN, petitioners, paid; P20,000 as expenses for litigation; P15,000 as attorney's fees, and the costs of
vs. the suit.
HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and ROMARICO A writ of execution was thereafter issued. Levied upon were four lots in Angeles
HENSON, respondents. City covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 30950, 30951, 30952 and 30953
Feliciano C. Tumale for petitioners. all in the name of Romarico Henson ... married to Katrina Henson. 10
Benjamin Dadios and Bausa, Ampil, Suarez, Paredes & Bausa for private The public auction sale was first set for October 30, 1977 but since said date was
respondent. declared a public holiday, Deputy Sheriff Emerito Sicat reset the sale to November
11, 1977. On said date, the following properties registered in the name of Romarico
FERNAN, C.J.:p Henson "married to Katrina Henson" were sold at public auction: (a) two parcels of
Submitted for adjudication in the instant petition for review on certiorari is the issue land covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 30950 and 30951 with respective
of whether or not the execution of a decision in an action for collection of a sum of areas of 293 and 289 square meters at P145,000 each to Juanito L. Santos, 11 and (b)
money may be nullified on the ground that the real properties levied upon and sold at two parcels of land covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 30952 and 30953
public auction are the alleged exclusive properties of a husband who did not with respective areas of 289 and 916 square meters in the amount of P119,000.00 to
participate in his wife's business transaction from which said action stemmed. Leonardo B. Joson. 12
Private respondent Romarico Henson married Katrina Pineda on January 6, After the inscription on Transfer Certificate of Title No. 30951 of the levy on
1964. 1 They have three children but even during the early years of their marriage, execution of the judgment in Civil Case No. 2224, the property covered by said title
Romarico and Katrina had been most of the time living separately. The former was extrajudicially foreclosed by the Rural Bank of Porac, Pampanga on account of
stayed in Angeles City while the latter lived in Manila. During the marriage or on the mortgage loan of P8,000 which Romarico and Katrina had obtained from said
January 6, 1971, Romarico bought a 1,787 square-meter parcel of land in Angeles bank. The property was sold by the sheriff to the highest bidder for P57,000 on
City for P11,492 from his father, Dr. Celestino L. Henson 2 with money borrowed September 9, 1977. On September 14, 1978, Juanito Santos, who had earlier bought
from an officemate. His father need the amount for investments in Angeles City and the same property at public auction on November 11, 1977, redeemed it by paying
Palawan. 3 the sum of P57,000 plus the legal interest of P6,840.00 or a total amount of
Meanwhile, in Hongkong sometime in June 1972, Katrina entered into an agreement P63,840.00. 13
with Anita Chan whereby the latter consigned to Katrina pieces of jewelry for sale About a month before such redemption or on August 8, 1 978, Romarico filed an
valued at 199,895 Hongkong dollars or P321,830.95. 4 When Katrina failed to return action for the annulment of the decision in Civil Case No. 2224 as well as the writ of
the pieces of jewelry within the 20-day period agreed upon, Anita Chan demanded execution, levy on execution and the auction sale therein in the same Court of First
payment of their value. Instance. 14 Romarico alleged that he was "not given his day in court" because he
On September 18, 1972, Katrina issued in favor of Anita Chan a check for P55,000 was not represented by counsel as Attys. Albino and Yumul appeared solely for
which, however, was dishonored for lack of funds. Hence, Katrina was charged with Katrina; that although he did not file an answer to the complaint, he was not declared
estafa before the then Court of First Instance of Pampanga and Angeles City, Branch in default in the case; that while Atty. Albino received a copy of the decision, he and
IV. 5 After trial, the lower court rendered a decision dismissing the case on the his wife were never personally served a copy thereof; that he had nothing to do with
ground that Katrina's liability was not criminal but civil in nature as no estafa was the business transactions of Katrina as he did not authorize her to enter into such
committed by the issuance of the check in payment of a pre-existing obligation. 6 transactions; and that the properties levied on execution and sold at public auction by
In view of said decision, Anita Chan and her husband Ricky Wong filed against the sheriff were his capital properties and therefore, as to him, all the proceedings
Katrina and her husband Romarico Henson, an action for collection of a sum of had in the case were null and void.
money also in the same branch of the aforesaid court. 7The records of the case show On November 10, 1978, the lower court issued an order restraining the Register of
that Atty. Gregorio Albino, Jr. filed an answer with counterclaim but only in behalf Deeds of Angeles City from issuing the final bill of sale of Transfer Certificates of
of Katrina. When the case was called for pre-trial, Atty. Albino once again appeared Title Nos. 30950 and 30951 in favor of Juanito Santos and Transfer Certificates of
Title Nos. 30952 and 30953 in favor of Leonardo Joson until further orders of the plaintiff Romarico Henson may redeem the same within the period and in the manner
court. 15On January 22, 1979, upon motion of Romarico, the court issued a writ of prescribed by law, after the corresponding deed of redemption shall have been
preliminary injunction enjoining the sheriff from approving the final bill of sale of registered in the Office of the Registry of Deeds for Angeles City;
the land covered by the aforementioned certificates of title and the Register of Deeds (f) Defendants Spouses Ricky Wong and Anita Chan are, with the exception of the
of Angeles City from registering said certificates of title in the names of Santos and defendants Juanito Santos, Leonardo Joson, Sheriff and Register of Deeds, are
Joson until the final outcome of the case subject to Romarico's posting of a bond in ordered jointly and severally, to pay the plaintiff Romarico Henson the sum of
the amount of P321,831.00. 16 P10,000.00, corresponding to the expenses of litigation, with legal interest thereon
After trial on the merits, the lower court 17 rendered a decision holding that Romarico from the time this suit was filed up to the time the same shall have been paid, plus
was indeed not given his day in court as he was not represented by counsel nor was P5,000.00 for and as attorney's fees, and the costs of suit; and
he notified of the hearings therein although he was never declared in default. Noting (g) The counterclaims respectively filed on behalf of all the defendants in the above-
that the complaint in Civil Case No. 2224 as well as the testimonial and documentary entitled case are hereby DISMISSED.
evidence adduced at the trial in said case do not show that Romarico had anything to SO ORDERED.
do with the transactions between Katrina and Anita Chan, the court ruled that the The defendants appealed to the then Intermediate Appellate Court. In its decision of
judgment in Civil Case No. 2224 "is devoid of legal or factual basis which is not January 22, 1985 19 the said court affirmed in toto the decision of the lower court. It
even supported by a finding of fact or ratio decidendi in the body of the decision, added that as to Romarico, the judgment in Civil Case No. 2224 had not attained
and may be declared null and void ... pursuant to a doctrine laid down by the finality as the decision therein was not served on him and that he was not represented
Supreme Court to the effect that the Court of First Instance or a branch thereof, has by counsel. Therefore, estoppel may not be applied against him as, not having been
authority and jurisdiction to try and decide an action for annulment of a final and served with the decision, Romarico did not know anything about it. Corollarily, there
executory judgment or order rendered by another court of first instance or of a can be no valid writ of execution inasmuch as the decision had not become final as
branch thereof (Gianan vs. Imperial, 55 SCRA 755)." 18 far as Romarico is concerned.
On whether or not the properties lenied upon and sold at public auction may be On whether the properties may be levied upon as conjugal properties, the appellate
reconveyed to Romarico, the court, finding that there was no basis for holding the court ruled in the negative. It noted that the properties are Romarico' s exclusive
conjugal partnership liable for the personal indebtedness of Katrina, ruled in favor of capital having been bought by him with his own funds. But granting that the
reconveyance in view of the jurisprudence that the interest of the wife in the conjugal properties are conjugal, they cannot answer for Katrina's obligations as the latter
partnership property being inchoate and therefore merely an expectancy, the same were exclusively hers because they were incurred without the consent of her
may not be sold or disposed of for value until after the liquidation and settlement of husband, they were not for the daily expenses of the family and they did not redound
the community assets. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: to the benefit of the family. The court underscored the fact that no evidence has been
WHEREFORE, and in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in favor submitted that the administration of the conjugal partnership had been transferred to
of the plaintiff and against all the defendants, as follows: Katrina either by Romarico or by the court before said obligations were incurred.
(a) The Decision of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga and Angeles City, The appellants filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision of the appellate
Branch IV, rendered in Civil Case No. 2224, entitled "RICKY WONG, ET AL. vs. court but the same was denied for lack of merit on February 6, 1985. 20
KATRINA PINEDA HENSON and ROMARICO HENSON", is hereby declared Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari. Petitioners contend that,
null and void, only as far as it affects plaintiff herein Romarico Henson; inasmuch as the Henson spouses were duly represented by Atty. Albino as shown by
(b) The Writ of Execution, levy in execution and auction sale of the conjugal their affidavit of August 25, 1977 wherein they admitted that they were represented
property of the spouses Romarico Henson and Katrina Pineda Henson which were by said counsel until Atty. Yumul took over the actual management and conduct of
sold at public auction on November 11, 1977, without notice to plaintiff herein, by the case and that Atty. Albino had not withdrawn as their counsel, the lower court
Deputy Sheriff Emerito Sicat, are likewise declared null and void and of no force and "did not commit an error" in serving a copy of the decision in Civil Case No. 2224
effect; only on Atty. Albino. Moreover, during the 2-year period between the filing of the
(c) Defendants Emerito Sicat and Conrado Lagman, in their official capacity as complaint in Civil Case No. 2224 and the public auction sale on November 11, 1977,
Sheriff and Register of Deeds, respectively, are enjoined permanently from issuing Romarico remained silent thereby making him in estoppel and guilty of laches.
and/or registering the corresponding deeds of sale affecting the property; Petitioners further aver that there being sufficient evidence that the auction sale was
(d) The aforementioned buyers are directed to reconvey the property they have thus conducted in accordance with law, the acts of the sheriffs concerned are presumed to
purchased at public auction to plaintiff Romarico Henson; be regular and valid. But granting that an irregularity consisting of the non-
(e) As far as the claim for reimbursement filed by Juanito Santos concerning the notification of Romarico attended the conduct of the auction sale, the rights of
redemption of the property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 30951 from Santos and Joson who were "mere strangers who participated as the highest bidders"
the Rural Bank of Porac, which foreclosed the same extrajudicially, is concerned, therein, may not be prejudiced. Santos and Joson bought the properties sincerely
believing that the sheriff was regularly performing his duties and no evidence was Now, what about that statement in the aforementioned joint affidavit of the spouses
presented to the effect that they acted with fraud or that they connived with the KATRINA HENSON and ROMARICO HENSON, to the effect that our first lawyer
sheriff. However, should the auction sale be nullified, petitioners assert that in said case was Atty. Gregorio Albino, Jr., and sometime later Atty. Expedito B.
Romarico should not be unduly enriched at the expense of Santos and Joson. Yumul took over ...
The petitioners' theory is that Romarico Henson was guilty of laches and may not That statement which plaintiff ROMARICO HENSON was made to sign by Atty.
now belatedly assert his rights over the properties because he and Katrina were Yumul on August 25,1977, after the filing of this case, allegedly for the purpose of
represented by counsel in Civil Case No. 2224. Said theory is allegedly founded on dissolving the writ of execution, as claimed in paragraph XIV of the complaint
the perception that the Hensons were like any other ordinary couple wherein a herein, and is satisfactorily explained by both plaintiff herein and his wife, while on
spouse knows or should know the transactions of the other spouse which necessarily cross-examination by Atty. Baltazar, Sr., and We quote:
must be in interest of the family. The factual background of this case, however, takes Q So, the summons directed your filing of your Answer for both of you, your wife
it out of said ideal situation. and your good self?
Romarico and Katrina had in fact been separated when Katrina entered into a A Yes, sir but may I add, I received the summons but I did not file an answer
business deal with Anita Wong. Thus, when that business transaction eventually because my wife took a lawyer and that lawyer I think will protect her interest and
resulted in the filing of Civil Case No. 2224, Romarico acted, or, as charged by my interest being so I did not have nothing to do in the transaction which is attached
petitioners, failed to act, in the belief that he was not involved in the personal to the complaint.' (TSN, Jan. 14, 1980, pp. 52-53).
dealings of his estranged wife. That belief was buttressed by the fact that the That plaintiff never appeared in Civil Case No. 2224, nor was he therein represented
complaint itself did not mention or implicate him other than as the husband of by counsel was impliedly admitted by defendants' counsel of records thru a question
Katrina. On whether Romarico was also represented by Atty. Albino, Katrina's he propounded on cross, and the answer given by Katrina Pineda, to wit:
counsel, the courts below found that: Q How about your husband, do you remember if he physically appeared in that Civil
... Atty. Albino filed an Answer with Counterclaims dated July 25, 1975 solely on Case No. 2224, will you tell us if he was represented by counsel as a party
behalf of defendant Katrina Henson. The salutary statement in that Answer defendant?
categorically reads: ... COMES NOW THE DEFENDANT KATRINA HENSON by A No, sir, he did not appear.
and through undersigned counsel, in answer to plaintiffs' complaint respectfully Q You are husband and wife, please tell us the reason why you have your own
alleges: ... . counsel in that case whereas Romarico Henson did not appear nor a counsel did not
That Answer was signed by GREGORIO ALBINO, JR., over the phrase COUNSEL appear in that proceedings (TSN, Feb. 25,1980, pp. 6-7).
FOR DEFENDANT KATRINA HENSON. xxx xxx xxx
Again, when Civil Case No. 2224 was called for pre-trial on November 27, 1975, A Because that case is my exclusive and personal case, he has nothing to do with
before then Presiding Judge Bienvenido Ejercito, it is clearly stated on page 2 of the that, sir. (TSN, Feb. 25, 1980, p. 9). (Rollo, pp. 17-20)
day's stenographic notes, under "APPEARANCES that Atty. Albino, Jr. appeared as Hence, laches may not be charged against Romarico because, aside from the fact that
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT KATRINA HENSON". And when the case was he had no knowledge of the transactions of his estranged wife, he was also not
called, Atty. Jose Baltazar, Sr. appeared for the plaintiffs while Atty. Albino afforded an opportunity to defend himself in Civil Case No. 2224. 21 There is no
categorically appeared "FOR DEFENDANT KATRINA HENSON". laches or even finality of decision to speak of with respect to Romarico since the
It might be true that in subsequent hearings, Atty. Expedito Yumul 'appeared as decision in Civil Case No. 2224 is null and void for having been rendered without
counsel for the defendants,' but the whole trouble is that he never expressly jurisdiction for failure to observe the notice requirements prescribed by
manifested to the Court that he was likewise actually representing defendant law. 22 Failure to notify Romarico may not be attributed to the fact that the plaintiffs
"ROMARICO HENSON", for it cannot be disputed that Atty. Yumul only entered in Civil Case No. 2224 acted on the presumption that the Hensons were still happily
his appearance in collaboration with Atty. Albino (see p. 2 tsn, January 26, 1976, married because the complaint itself shows that they did not consider Romarico as a
Espinosa), who in turn entered his initial appearance during the pre- trial, and party to the transaction which Katrina undertook with Anita Wong. In all likelihood,
through the filing of an Answer, for defendant KATRINA HENSON. As a matter of the plaintiffs merely impleaded Romarico as a nominal party in the case pursuant to
fact, the Power of Attorney which Atty. Albino produced during the pre-trial was the provisions of Rule 3, Section 4 of the Rules of Court.
executed solely by defendant KATRINA HENSON. Accordingly, as collaborating Consequently, the writ of execution cannot be issued against Romarico as he has not
counsel, Atty. Yumul cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered as yet had his day in court 23and, necessarily, the public auction sale is null and
duly authorized to formally appear likewise on behalf of defendant ROMARICO void. 24 Moreover, the power of the court in the execution of judgments extends only
HENSON for whom principal counsel of record Atty. Gregorio Albino, Jr. never over properties unquestionably belonging to the judgment debtor. 25
made any formal appearance. On this score, it is not amiss to state that "A spring On the matter of ownership of the properties involved, however, the Court disagrees
cannot rise higher than its source:. with the appellate court that the said properties are exclusively owned by Romarico.
Having been acquired during the marriage, they are still presumed to belong to the Stevenson, 45 Phil. 252; Cabuhat vs. Ansery, 42 Phil. 170; Fore v. Manove, 18 Cal.
conjugal partnership 26 even though Romarico and Katrina had been living 436 and 21 Am. Jur., 140-141. Emphasis supplied.)
separately. 27 Applying this jurisprudence, execution purchasers Santos and Joson possess no
The presumption of the conjugal nature of the properties subsists in the absence of rights which may rise above judgment debtor Katrina's inchoate proprietary rights
clear, satisfactory and convincing evidence to overcome said presumption or to over the properties sold at public auction. After all, a person can sell only what he
prove that the properties are exclusively owned by Romarico. 28 While there is proof owns or is authorized to sell and the buyer can, as a consequence, acquire no more
that Romarico acquired the properties with money he had borrowed from an that what the seller can legally transfer. 36 But, inasmuch as the decision in Civil
officemate, it is unclear where he obtained the money to repay the loan. If he paid it Case No. 2224 is void only as far as Romarico and the conjugal properties are
out of his salaries, then the money is part of the conjugal assets 29 and not exclusively concerned, the same may still be executed by the Spouses Wong against Katrina
his. Proof on this matter is of paramount importance considering that in the Henson personally and exclusively. The Spouses Wong must return to Juanito Santos
determination of the nature of a property acquired by a person during covertrue, the and Leonardo Joson the purchase prices of P145,000 and P119,000 respectively,
controlling factor is the source of the money utilized in the purchase. received by said spouse from the public auction sale.
The conjugal nature of the properties notwithstanding, Katrina's indebtedness may The redemption made by Santos in the foreclosure proceeding against Romarico and
not be paid for with them her obligation not having been shown by the petitioners to Katrina Henson filed by the Rural Bank of Porac, should, however, be respected
be one of the charges against the conjugal partnership. 30In addition to the fact that unless Romarico exercises his right of redemption over the property covered by
her rights over the properties are merely inchoate prior to the liquidation of the Transfer Certificate of Title No. 30951 in accordance with law.
conjugal partnership, the consent of her husband and her authority to incur such WHEREFORE, the decisions of the appellate court and the lower court in Civil Case
indebtedness had not been alleged in the complaint and proven at the trial. 31 No. 28-09 are hereby AFFIRMED subject to the modifications above stated. No
Furthermore, under the Civil Code (before the effectivity of the Family Code on costs.
August 3, 1988), a wife may bind the conjugal partnership only when she purchases SO ORDERED.
things necessary for the support of the family or when she borrows money for the Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano, Bidin and Davide, Jr., JJ., concur.
purpose of purchasing things necessary for the support of the family if the husband
fails to deliver the proper sum; 32 when the administration of the conjugal partnership
is transferred to the wife by the courts 33 or by the husband 34 and when the wife
gives moderate donations for charity. 35 Having failed to establish that any of these
circumstances occurred, the Wongs may not bind the conjugal assets to answer for
Katrina's personal obligation to them.
Petitioners' contention that the rights of Santos and Joson as innocent buyers at the
public auction sale may not be prejudiced, is, to a certain extent, valid. After all, in
the absence of proof that irregularities attended the sale, the same must be presumed
to have been conducted in accordance with law. There is, however, a peculiar factual
circumstance that goes against the grain of that general presumption the properties
levied upon and sold at the public auction do not exclusively belong to the judgment
debtor. Thus, the guiding jurisprudence is as follows:
The rule in execution sales is that an execution creditor acquires no higher or better
right than what the execution debtor has in the property levied upon. The purchaser
of property on sale under execution and levy takes as assignee, only as the judicial
seller possesses no title other than that which would pass by an assignment by the
owner. "An execution purchaser generally acquires such estate or interest as was
vested in the execution debtor at the time of the seizure on execution, and only such
interest, taking merely a quit-claim of the execution debtor's title, without warranty
on the part of either the execution officer or of the parties, whether the property is
realty or personalty. This rule prevails even if a larger interest in the property was
intended to be sold. Accordingly, if the judgment debtor had no interest in the
property, the execution purchaser acquires no interest therein." (Pacheco vs. Court of
Appeals, L-48689, August 31, 1987, 153 SCRA 382, 388-389 quoting Laureano vs.
Republic of the Philippines Accordingly, on 11 July 1991, the Prosecutor, instead of filing an information for
SUPREME COURT frustrated homicide, filed an information for murder 3 before the Regional Trial
Manila Court. No bail was recommended. At the bottom of the information, the Prosecutor
EN BANC certified that no preliminary investigation had been conducted because the accused
did not execute and sign a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised
G.R. No. 101837 February 11, 1992 Penal Code.
ROLITO GO y TAMBUNTING, petitioner, In the afternoon of the same day, 11 July 1991, counsel for petitioner filed with the
vs. Prosecutor an omnibus motion for immediate release and proper preliminary
THE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HON. BENJAMIN V. PELAYO, Presiding investigation, 4 alleging that the warrantless arrest of petitioner was unlawful and that
Judge, Branch 168, Regional Trial Court, NCJR Pasig, M.M., and PEOPLE OF no preliminary investigation had been conducted before the information was filed.
THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Petitioner also prayed that he be released on recognizance or on bail. Provincial
Prosecutor Mauro Castro, acting on the omnibus motion, wrote on the last page of
FELICIANO, J.: the motion itself that he interposed no objection to petitioner being granted
According to the findings of the San Juan Police in their Investigation Report, 1 on 2 provisional liberty on a cash bond of P100,000.00.
July 1991, Eldon Maguan was driving his car along Wilson St., San Juan, Metro On 12 July 1991, petitioner filed an urgent ex-parte motion for special raffle 5 in
Manila, heading towards P. Guevarra St. Petitioner entered Wilson St., where it is a order to expedite action on the Prosecutor's bail recommendation. The case was
one-way street and started travelling in the opposite or "wrong" direction. At the raffled to the sala of respondent Judge, who, on the same date, approved the cash
corner of Wilson and J. Abad Santos Sts., petitioner's and Maguan's cars nearly bond 6 posted by petitioner and ordered his release. 7 Petitioner was in fact released
bumped each other. Petitioner alighted from his car, walked over and shot Maguan that same day.
inside his car. Petitioner then boarded his car and left the scene. A security guard at a On 16 July 1991, the Prosecutor filed with the Regional Trial Court a motion for
nearby restaurant was able to take down petitioner's car plate number. The police leave to conduct preliminary investigation 8 and prayed that in the meantime all
arrived shortly thereafter at the scene of the shooting and there retrieved an empty proceedings in the court be suspended. He stated that petitioner had filed before the
shell and one round of live ammunition for a 9 mm caliber pistol. Verification at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal an omnibus motion for immediate
Land Transportation Office showed that the car was registered to one Elsa Ang Go. release and preliminary investigation, which motion had been granted by Provincial
The following day, the police returned to the scene of the shooting to find out where Prosecutor Mauro Castro, who also agreed to recommend cash bail of P100,000.00.
the suspect had come from; they were informed that petitioner had dined at Cravings The Prosecutor attached to the motion for leave a copy of petitioner's omnibus
Bake Shop shortly before the shooting. The police obtained a facsimile or impression motion of 11 July 1991.
of the credit card used by petitioner from the cashier of the bake shop. The security Also on 16 July 1991, the trial court issued an Order 9 granting leave to conduct
guard of the bake shop was shown a picture of petitioner and he positively identified preliminary investigation and cancelling the arraignment set for 15 August 1991 until
him as the same person who had shot Maguan. Having established that the assailant after the prosecution shall have concluded its preliminary investigation.
was probably the petitioner, the police launched a manhunt for petitioner. On 17 July 1991, however, respondent Judge motu proprio issued an
On 8 July 1991, petitioner presented himself before the San Juan Police Station to Order, 10 embodying the following: (1) the 12 July 1991 Order which granted bail
verify news reports that he was being hunted by the police; he was accompanied by was recalled; petitioner was given 48 hours from receipt of the Order to surrender
two (2) lawyers. The police forthwith detained him. An eyewitness to the shooting, himself; (2) the 16 July 1991 Order which granted leave to the prosecutor to conduct
who was at the police station at that time, positively identified petitioner as the preliminary investigation was recalled and cancelled; (3) petitioner's omnibus motion
gunman. That same day, the police promptly filed a complaint for frustrated for immediate release and preliminary investigation dated 11 July 1991 was treated
homicide 2 against petitioner with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal. as a petition for bail and set for hearing on 23 July 1991.
First Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Dennis Villa Ignacio ("Prosecutor") informed On 19 July 1991, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition
petitioner, in the presence of his lawyers, that he could avail himself of his right to and mandamus before the Supreme Court assailing the 17 July 1991 Order,
preliminary investigation but that he must first sign a waiver of the provisions of contending that the information was null and void because no preliminary
Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code. Petitioner refused to execute any such investigation had been previously conducted, in violation of his right to due process.
waiver. Petitioner also moved for suspension of all proceedings in the case pending
On 9 July 1991, while the complaint was still with the Prosecutor, and before an resolution by the Supreme Court of his petition; this motion was, however, denied by
information could be filed in court, the victim, Eldon Maguan, died of his gunshot respondent Judge.
wound(s). On 23 July 1991, petitioner surrendered to the police.
By a Resolution dated 24 July 1991, this Court remanded the petition for certiorari, On 4 October 1991, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari was filed. On 14
prohibition and mandamus to the Court of Appeals. October 1991, the Court issued a Resolution directing respondent Judge to hold in
On 16 August 1991, respondent Judge issued an order in open court setting the abeyance the hearing of the criminal case below until further orders from this Court.
arraignment of petitioner on 23 August 1991. In this Petition for Review, two (2) principal issues need to be addressed: first,
On 19 August 1991, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a motion to restrain whether or not a lawful warrantless arrest had been effected by the San Juan Police
his arraignment. in respect of petitioner Go; and second, whether petitioner had effectively waived his
On 23 August 1991, respondent judge issued a Commitment Order directing the right to preliminary investigation. We consider these issues seriatim.
Provincial Warden of Rizal to admit petitioner into his custody at the Rizal In respect of the first issue, the Solicitor General argues that under the facts of the
Provincial Jail. On the same date, petitioner was arraigned. In view, however, of his case, petitioner had been validly arrested without warrant. Since petitioner's identity
refusal to enter a plea, the trial court entered for him a plea of not guilty. The Trial as the gunman who had shot Eldon Maguan on 2 July 1991 had been sufficiently
court then set the criminal case for continuous hearings on 19, 24 and 26 September; established by police work, petitioner was validly arrested six (6) days later at the
on 2, 3, 11 and 17 October; and on 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22 November 1991. 11 San Juan Police Station. The Solicitor General invokes Nazareno v. Station
On 27 August 1991, petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus 12 in the Court of Commander, etc., et al., 16 one of the seven (7) cases consolidated with In the Matter
Appeals. He alleged that in view of public respondent's failure to join issues in the of the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Roberto Umil, etc., v. Ramos, et al. 17 where a
petition for certiorari earlier filed by him, after the lapse of more than a month, thus majority of the Court upheld a warrantees arrest as valid although effected fourteen
prolonging his detention, he was entitled to be released on habeas corpus. (14) days after the killing in connection with which Nazareno had been arrested.
On 30 August 1991, the Court of Appeals issued the writ of habeas corpus. 13 The Accordingly, in the view of the Solicitor General, the provisions of Section 7, Rule
petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, on the one hand, and the petition 112 of the Rules of Court were applicable and because petitioner had declined to
for habeas corpus, upon the other, were subsequently consolidated in the Court of waive the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, the Prosecutor was
Appeals. legally justified in filing the information for murder even without preliminary
The Court of Appeals, on 2 September 1991, issued a resolution denying petitioner's investigation.
motion to restrain his arraignment on the ground that that motion had become moot On the other hand, petitioner argues that he was not lawfully arrested without
and academic. warrant because he went to the police station six (6) days after the shooting which he
On 19 September 1991, trial of the criminal case commenced and the prosecution had allegedly perpetrated. Thus, petitioner argues, the crime had not been "just
presented its first witness. committed" at the time that he was arrested. Moreover, none of the police officers
On 23 September 1991, the Court of Appeals rendered a consolidated who arrested him had been an eyewitness to the shooting of Maguan and accordingly
decision 14 dismissing the two (2) petitions, on the following grounds: none had the "personal knowledge" required for the lawfulness of a warrantees
a. Petitioner's warrantless arrest was valid because the offense for which he was arrest. Since there had been no lawful warrantless arrest. Section 7, Rule 112 of the
arrested and charged had been "freshly committed." His identity had been established Rules of Court which establishes the only exception to the right to preliminary
through investigation. At the time he showed up at the police station, there had been investigation, could not apply in respect of petitioner.
an existing manhunt for him. During the confrontation at the San Juan Police Station, The reliance of both petitioner and the Solicitor General upon Umil v. Ramos is, in
one witness positively identified petitioner as the culprit. the circumstances of this case, misplaced. In Umil v. Ramos, by an eight-to-six vote,
b. Petitioner's act of posting bail constituted waiver of any irregularity attending his the Court sustained the legality of the warrantless arrests of petitioners made from
arrest. He waived his right to preliminary investigation by not invoking it properly one (1) to fourteen days after the actual commission of the offenses, upon the ground
and seasonably under the Rules. that such offenses constituted "continuing crimes." Those offenses were subversion,
c. The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it issued the 17 July 1991 Order membership in an outlawed organization like the New People's Army, etc. In the
because the trial court had the inherent power to amend and control its processes so instant case, the offense for which petitioner was arrested was murder, an offense
as to make them conformable to law and justice. which was obviously commenced and completed at one definite location in time and
d. Since there was a valid information for murder against petitioner and a valid space. No one had pretended that the fatal shooting of Maguan was a "continuing
commitment order (issued by the trial judge after petitioner surrendered to the crime."
authorities whereby petitioner was given to the custody of the Provincial Warden), Secondly, we do not believe that the warrantees "arrest" or detention of petitioner in
the petition for habeas corpus could not be granted. the instant case falls within the terms of Section 5 of Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules on
On 3 October 1991, the prosecution presented three (3) more witnesses at the trial. Criminal Procedure which provides as follows:
Counsel for petitioner also filed a "Withdrawal of Appearance" 15 with the trial court, Sec. 5 Arrest without warrant; when lawful. — A peace officer or a private person
with petitioner's conformity. may, without warrant, arrest a person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually himself, in all probability to avoid the implication he was admitting that he had slain
committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; Eldon Maguan or that he was otherwise guilty of a crime. When the police filed a
(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge complaint for frustrated homicide with the Prosecutor, the latter should have
of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it; and immediately scheduled a preliminary investigation to determine whether there was
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal probable cause for charging petitioner in court for the killing of Eldon Maguan.
establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined Instead, as noted earlier, the Prosecutor proceed under the erroneous supposition that
while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one Section 7 of Rule 112 was applicable and required petitioner to waive the provisions
confinement to another. of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code as a condition for carrying out a
In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) hereof, the person arrested without a preliminary investigation. This was substantive error, for petitioner was entitled to a
warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail, and he shall preliminary investigation and that right should have been accorded him without any
be proceed against in accordance with Rule 112, Section 7. conditions. Moreover, since petitioner had not been arrested, with or without a
Petitioner's "arrest" took place six (6) days after the shooting of Maguan. The warrant, he was also entitled to be released forthwith subject only to his appearing at
"arresting" officers obviously were not present, within the meaning of Section 5(a), the preliminary investigation.
at the time petitioner had allegedly shot Maguan. Neither could the "arrest" effected Turning to the second issue of whether or not petitioner had waived his right to
six (6) days after the shooting be reasonably regarded as effected "when [the preliminary investigation, we note that petitioner had from the very beginning
shooting had] in fact just been committed" within the meaning of Section 5(b). demanded that a preliminary investigation be conducted. As earlier pointed out, on
Moreover, none of the "arresting" officers had any "personal knowledge" of facts the same day that the information for murder was filed with the Regional Trial Court,
indicating that petitioner was the gunman who had shot Maguan. The information petitioner filed with the Prosecutor an omnibus motion for immediate release and
upon which the police acted had been derived from statements made by alleged preliminary investigation. The Solicitor General contends that that omnibus motion
eyewitnesses to the shooting — one stated that petitioner was the gunman; another should have been filed with the trial court and not with the Prosecutor, and that the
was able to take down the alleged gunman's car's plate number which turned out to petitioner should accordingly be held to have waived his right to preliminary
be registered in petitioner's wife's name. That information did not, however, investigation. We do not believe that waiver of petitioner's statutory right to
constitute "personal knowledge." 18 preliminary investigation may be predicated on such a slim basis. The preliminary
It is thus clear to the Court that there was no lawful warrantless arrest of petitioner investigation was to be conducted by the Prosecutor, not by the Regional Trial Court.
within the meaning of Section 5 of Rule 113. It is clear too that Section 7 of Rule It is true that at the time of filing of petitioner's omnibus motion, the information for
112, which provides: murder had already been filed with the Regional Trial Court: it is not clear from the
Sec. 7 When accused lawfully arrested without warrant. — When a person is record whether petitioner was aware of this fact at the time his omnibus motion was
lawfully arrested without a warrant for an offense cognizable by the Regional Trial actually filed with the Prosecutor. In Crespo v. Mogul, 19 this Court held:
Court the complaint or information may be filed by the offended party, peace officer The preliminary investigation conducted by the fiscal for the purpose of determining
or fiscal without a preliminary investigation having been first conducted, on the basis whether a prima facie case exists to warranting the prosecution of the accused is
of the affidavit of the offended party or arresting office or person terminated upon the filing of the information in the proper court. In turn, as above
However, before the filing of such complaint or information, the person arrested stated, the filing of said information sets in motion the criminal action against the
may ask for a preliminary investigation by a proper officer in accordance with this accused in Court. Should the fiscal find it proper to conduct a reinvestigation of the
Rule, but he must sign a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal case, at such stage, the permission of the Court must be secured. After such
Code, as amended, with the assistance of a lawyer and in case of non-availability of a reinvestigation the finding and recommendations of the fiscal should be submitted to
lawyer, a responsible person of his choice. Notwithstanding such waiver, he may the Court for appropriate action. While it is true that the fiscal has the quasi-
apply for bail as provided in the corresponding rule and the investigation must be judicial discretion to determine whether or not a criminal case should be filed in
terminated within fifteen (15) days from its inception. court or not, once the case had already been brought to Court whatever disposition
If the case has been filed in court without a preliminary investigation having been the fiscal may feel should be proper in the case thereafter should be addressed for the
first conducted, the accused may within five (5) days from the time he learns of the consideration of the Court. The only qualification is that the action of the Court must
filing of the information, ask for a preliminary investigation with the same right to not impair the substantial rights of the accused., or the right of the People to due
adduce evidence in his favor in the manner prescribed in this Rule. (Emphasis process of law.
supplied) xxx xxx xxx
is also not applicable. Indeed, petitioner was not arrested at all. When he walked into The rule therefore in this jurisdiction is that once a complaint or information is filed
San Juan Police Station, accompanied by two (2) lawyers, he in fact placed himself in Court any disposition of the case [such] as its dismissal or the conviction or
at the disposal of the police authorities. He did not state that he was "surrendering" acquittal of the accused rests in the sound discretion of the Court. Although the
fiscal retains the direction and control of the prosecution of criminal cases even cash bond posted by petitioner and ordered his release on 12 July 1991. Accordingly,
while the case is already in Court he cannot impose his opinion on the trial court. we cannot reasonably imply waiver of preliminary investigation on the part of
The Court is the best and sole judge on what to do with the case before it. . . petitioner. In fact, when the Prosecutor filed a motion in court asking for leave to
. 20 (Citations omitted; emphasis supplied) conduct preliminary investigation, he clearly if impliedly recognized that petitioner's
Nonetheless, since petitioner in his omnibus motion was asking for preliminary claim to preliminary investigation was a legitimate one.
investigation and not for a re-investigation (Crespo v. Mogul involved a re- We would clarify, however, that contrary to petitioner's contention the failure to
investigation), and since the Prosecutor himself did file with the trial court, on the accord preliminary investigation, while constituting a denial of the appropriate and
5th day after filing the information for murder, a motion for leave to conduct full measure of the statutory process of criminal justice, did not impair the validity of
preliminary investigation (attaching to his motion a copy of petitioner's omnibus the information for murder nor affect the jurisdiction of the trial court. 25
motion), we conclude that petitioner's omnibus motion was in effect filed with the It must also be recalled that the Prosecutor had actually agreed that petitioner was
trial court. What was crystal clear was that petitioner did ask for a preliminary entitled to bail. This was equivalent to an acknowledgment on the part of the
investigation on the very day that the information was filed without such preliminary Prosecutor that the evidence of guilt then in his hands was not strong. Accordingly,
investigation, and that the trial court was five (5) days later apprised of the desire of we consider that the 17 July 1991 order of respondent Judge recalling his own order
the petitioner for such preliminary investigation. Finally, the trial court did in granting bail and requiring petitioner to surrender himself within forty-eight (48)
fact grant the Prosecutor's prayer for leave to conduct preliminary investigation. hours from notice, was plainly arbitrary considering that no evidence at all — and
Thus, even on the (mistaken) supposition apparently made by the Prosecutor that certainly no new or additional evidence — had been submitted to respondent Judge
Section 7 of Rule 112 of the Revised Court was applicable, the 5-day reglementary that could have justified the recall of his order issued just five (5) days before. It
period in Section 7, Rule 112 must be held to have been substantially complied with. follows that petitioner was entitled to be released on bail as a matter of right.
We believe and so hold that petitioner did not waive his right to a preliminary The final question which the Court must face is this: how does the fact that, in the
investigation. While that right is statutory rather than constitutional in its fundament, instant case, trial on the merits has already commenced, the Prosecutor having
since it has in fact been established by statute, it is a component part of due process already presented four (4) witnesses, impact upon, firstly, petitioner's right to a
in criminal justice. 21 The right to have a preliminary investigation conducted before preliminary investigation and, secondly, petitioner's right to be released on bail?
being bound over to trial for a criminal offense and hence formally at risk of Does he continue to be entitled to have a preliminary investigation conducted in
incarceration or some other penalty, is not a mere formal or technical right; it is respect of the charge against him? Does petitioner remain entitled to be released on
a substantive right. The accused in a criminal trial is inevitably exposed to prolonged bail?
anxiety, aggravation, humiliation, not to speak of expense; the right to an opportunity Turning first to the matter of preliminary investigation, we consider that petitioner
to avoid a process painful to any one save, perhaps, to hardened criminals, is a remains entitled to a preliminary investigation although trial on the merits has
valuable right. To deny petitioner's claim to a preliminary investigation would be to already began. Trial on the merits should be suspended or held in abeyance and a
deprive him the full measure of his right to due process. preliminary investigation forthwith accorded to petitioner. 26 It is true that the
The question may be raised whether petitioner still retains his right to a preliminary Prosecutor might, in view of the evidence that he may at this time have on hand,
investigation in the instant case considering that he was already arraigned on 23 conclude that probable cause exists; upon the other hand, the Prosecutor conceivably
August 1991. The rule is that the right to preliminary investigation is waived when could reach the conclusion that the evidence on hand does not warrant a finding of
the accused fails to invoke it before or at the time of entering a plea at probable cause. In any event, the constitutional point is that petitioner
arraignment.22 In the instant case, petitioner Go had vigorously insisted on his right was not accorded what he was entitled to by way of procedural due
to preliminary investigation before his arraignment.At the time of his arraignment, process. 27 Petitioner was forced to undergo arraignment and literally pushed to trial
petitioner was already before the Court of Appeals on certiorari, prohibition without preliminary investigation, with extraordinary haste, to the applause from the
and mandamusprecisely asking for a preliminary investigation before being forced to audience that filled the courtroom. If he submitted to arraignment at trial, petitioner
stand trial. did so "kicking and screaming," in a manner of speaking . During the proceedings
Again, in the circumstances of this case, we do not believe that by posting bail held before the trial court on 23 August 1991, the date set for arraignment of
petitioner had waived his right to preliminary investigation. In People petitioner, and just before arraignment, counsel made very clear petitioner's vigorous
v. Selfaison, 23 we did hold that appellants there had waived their right to preliminary protest and objection to the arraignment precisely because of the denial of
investigation because immediately after their arrest, they filed bail and proceeded to preliminary investigation. 28 So energetic and determined were petitioner's counsel's
trial "without previously claiming that they did not have the benefit of a preliminary protests and objections that an obviously angered court and prosecutor dared him to
investigation." 24 In the instant case, petitioner Go asked for release on recognizance withdraw or walkout, promising to replace him with counsel de oficio. During the
or on bail and for preliminary investigation in one omnibus motion. He had thus trial, before the prosecution called its first witness, petitioner through counsel once
claimed his right to preliminary investigation before respondent Judge approved the again reiterated his objection to going to trial without preliminary investigation:
petitioner's counsel made of record his "continuing objection." 29 Petitioner had Republic of the Philippines
promptly gone to the appellate court on certiorari and prohibition to challenge the SUPREME COURT
lawfulness of the procedure he was being forced to undergo and the lawfulness of his Manila
detention. 30 If he did not walk out on the trial, and if he cross-examined the SECOND DIVISION
prosecution's witnesses, it was because he was extremely loath to be represented by G.R. No. 157767 September 9, 2004
counsel de oficio selected by the trial judge, and to run the risk of being held to have REYNALDO BALOLOY and ADELINA BALOLOY-HIJE, petitioners,
waived also his right to use what is frequently the only test of truth in the judicial vs.
process. ALFREDO HULAR, respondent.
In respect of the matter of bail, we similarly believe and so hold that petitioner DECISION
remains entitled to be released on bail as a matter of right. Should the evidence CALLEJO, SR., J.:
already of record concerning petitioner's guilt be, in the reasonable belief of the Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of
Prosecutor, strong, the Prosecutor may move in the trial court for cancellation of Court, as amended, of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
petitioner's bail. It would then be up to the trial court, after a careful and objective 51081, which affirmed the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon,
assessment of the evidence on record, to grant or deny the motion for cancellation of Branch 51, in Civil Case No. 93-5871.
bail. The antecedents are as follows:
To reach any other conclusions here, that is, to hold that petitioner's rights to a On May 11, 1993, respondent Alfredo Hular filed a complaint for quieting of title of
preliminary investigation and to bail were effectively obliterated by evidence real property with damages against the children and heirs of Iluminado Baloloy,
subsequently admitted into the record would be to legitimize the deprivation of due namely, Anacorita, Antonio, and petitioners Reynaldo and Adelina, all surnamed
process and to permit the Government to benefit from its own wrong or culpable Baloloy. The respondent alleged, inter alia, in his complaint that his father,
omission and effectively to dilute important rights of accused persons well-nigh to Astrologo Hular, was the owner of a parcel of residential land located in Sitio Pagñe,
the vanishing point. It may be that to require the State to accord petitioner his rights Biriran, Juban, Sorsogon, with an area of 287 square meters, and that such lot was
to a preliminary investigation and to bail at this point, could turn out ultimately to be part of Lot No. 3347 of the Juban Cadastre. The respondent alleged that Iluminado
largely a ceremonial exercise. But the Court is not compelled to speculate. And, in Baloloy, the petitioners’ predecessor-in-interest, was able to secure a Free Patent
any case, it would not be idle ceremony; rather, it would be a celebration by the State over the property through fraud on March 1, 1968, on the basis of which the Register
of the rights and liberties of its own people and a re-affirmation of its obligation and of Deeds issued Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-16540 in his name. The
determination to respect those rights and liberties. respondent later discovered that in the cadastral survey of lands in Juban, the
ACCORDINGLY, the Court resolved to GRANT the Petition for Review property of his father, which actually consisted of 1,405 square meters was made to
on Certiorari. The Order of the trial court dated 17 July 1991 is hereby SET ASIDE form part of Lot No. 3353, the property of Iluminado Baloloy. According to the
and NULLIFIED, and the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 23 September respondent, even if the residential land was made to form part of Lot No. 3353
1991 hereby REVERSED. registered under the name of Iluminado Baloloy, he had acquired ownership of the
The Office of the Provincial Prosecutor is hereby ORDERED to conduct forthwith a property by acquisitive prescription, as he and his predecessors had been in
preliminary investigation of the charge of murder against petitioner Go, and to continuous, uninterrupted and open possession of the property in the concept of
complete such preliminary investigation within a period of fifteen (15) days from owners for more than 60 years.
commencement thereof. The trial on the merits of the criminal case in the Regional The respondent prayed for alternative reliefs that, after due hearing, judgment be
Trial Court shall be SUSPENDED to await the conclusion of the preliminary rendered in his favor, thus:
investigation. a) Declaring the plaintiff as the absolute owner of the land in question;
Meantime, petitioner is hereby ORDERED released forthwith upon posting of a cash b) Ordering the defendants to perpetually refrain from disturbing plaintiff in his
bail bond of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00). This release shall be peaceful possession in the land in question;
without prejudice to any lawful order that the trial court may issue, should the Office c) Ordering the defendants to remove their houses in the land in question, and to
of the Provincial Prosecutor move for cancellation of bail at the conclusion of the declare OCT No. P-16540, and whatever paper, form, document or proceeding the
preliminary investigation. defendants may have, as null and void and without any effect whatsoever as far as
No pronouncement as to costs. This Decision is immediately executory. the land in question is concerned as they cast cloud upon the title of the plaintiff;
SO ORDERED. d) In the alternative, defendants be ordered to reconvey the title in favor of the
Narvasa, C.J., Bidin, Medialdea, Romero and Nocon, JJ., concur. plaintiff as far as the land in question is concerned;
e) Ordering the defendants to jointly and severally pay the plaintiff the amount
of P50,000.00 as moral damages; P5,000.00 as attorney’s fee plus P500.00 for every
appearance or hearing of his lawyer in court; P1,500.00 as consultation reasons," no deed of sale was executed by the parties. He also alleged that the
fee; P5,000.00 as incidental litigation expenses;P20,000.00 as exemplary damages; improvements on the land consisted of coconut trees. 12 The Bureau of Lands
and to pay the costs. processed the application in due course.
Plaintiff further prays for such other relief [as are] just and equitable in the In the meantime, Iluminado constructed his house on a portion of Lot No. 3353 near
premises.3 the trail (road) leading to Biriran. He and his family, including his children, forthwith
The Evidence of the Respondent resided in said house.
The respondent adduced evidence that the Spouses Lino and Victoriana Estopin were On March 1, 1968, the Secretary of Agricultural and Natural Resources approved
the original owners of a parcel of land located in Barangay Biriran, Juban, Sorsogon, Iluminado’s application and issued Free Patent No. 384019 covering Lot No. 3353
designated as Lot No. 3347 of the Juban Cadastre. A major portion of the property, with an area of 9,302 square meters, on the basis of which OCT No. P-16540 was
where a house of strong materials was constructed, was agricultural, while the rest thereafter issued by the Register of Deeds on March 1, 1968.13
was residential. The respondent also averred that the Spouses Estopin declared the On August 2, 1975, Alejandro Gruta had executed a deed of absolute sale over a
property in their names under Tax Declaration No. 4790. On the north of the portion of Lot No. 3353 with an area of 4,651 square meters in favor of Estelito Hije,
agricultural portion of the property was the road leading to Biriran, while north of the the husband of petitioner Adelina Baloloy, one of Iluminado’s children. 14
residential portion was a creek (canal) and the property of Iluminado. Before he left for employment in Saudi Arabia in 1979, respondent Hular had his
When Lino Estopin died intestate, his widow, Victoriana Lagata, executed a Deed of house constructed near the trail (road) on Lot No. 3347, which, however, occupied a
Absolute Sale4 on November 11, 1961 over the agricultural portion of Lot No. 3347, big portion of Lot No. 3353.15
which had an area of 15,906 square meters, more or less, in favor of Astrologo Iluminado died intestate on November 29, 1985. His widow and their children
Hular, married to Lorenza Hular. Shortly thereafter, on November 25, 1961, Lagata continued residing in the property, while petitioner Reynaldo Baloloy, one of
executed a Deed of Absolute Sale5 over the residential portion of the property with Iluminado’s children, later constructed his house near that of his deceased father.
an area of 287 square meters, including the house constructed thereon, in favor of When Astrologo died intestate on December 25, 1989, he was survived by his
Hular. Hular and his family, including his son, the respondent, then resided in the children, Jose, Romeo, Anacleto, Elena, Leo, Teresita, and the respondent, among
property. In 1961 or thereabouts, Iluminado asked Hular’s permission to construct a others,16 who continued to reside in their house.17
house on a portion of Lot No. 3347 near the road, and the latter agreed. In l977, Sometime in l991, the respondent’s house helper was cleaning the backyard, but was
Lorenza Hular, wife of Astrologo, declared the residential land in the latter’s name prevented from doing so by petitioner Adelina Baloloy who claimed that their father
under Tax Declaration No. 6841.6 Iluminado owned the land where the respondent’s house was located. To determine
Earlier, or on August 14, 1945, Irene Griarte had executed a Deed of Absolute Sale the veracity of the claim, the respondent had Lot No. 3353 surveyed by Geodetic
over a coconut land located in Barangay Biriran, Juban, with an area of 6,666 square Engineer Rodolfo Cunanan on February 16, 1993, in the presence of Balbedina,
meters in favor of Martiniano Balbedina, with the following boundaries: North, Antonio Baloloy and petitioner Reynaldo Baloloy. Cunanan prepared a Special
Alejandro Gruta; South, Lino Estopin; East, River Pagñe; West, Pedro Grepal and Sketch Plan of Lot No. 335318 showing that the house of Iluminado was constructed
Esteban Grepal.7 Subsequently, after a cadastral survey was conducted on lands in on Lot No. 335319 near the road behind the houses owned by Astrologo and
Juban, the property of Balbedina was designated as Lot No. 3353, with the following Alfredo.20 The engineer discovered that the residential area deeded by Lagata to
boundaries: North: Lot No. 3353 (portion), Alejandro Gruta; South: Lino Estopin; Hular had an area of 1,405 square meters, instead of 287 square meters only. 21
West: Lot No. 3349; East: creek. A trail was then established between Lot No. 3353 In their Answer to the complaint, the heirs of Iluminado Baloloy averred that
and Lot No. 3347 resulting in the decrease of Lot No. 3353 owned by Balbedina to Iluminado’s house was built in 1962 on a portion of Lot No. 3353, which the latter
4,651 square meters. He declared the property under his name under Tax Declaration purchased from Balbedina, and not on a portion of Lot No. 3347 which Hular
No. 191 with the following boundaries: North: Lot No. 3353 (portion) Alejandro purchased from Lagata. They alleged that Hular constructed his house on a portion
Gruta; South: trail; East: creek; West: Lot No. 3349.8 of Lot No. 3353 after securing the permission of their father Iluminado, and that the
On June 4, 1951, Balbedina executed a Deed of Absolute Sale over Lot No. 3353 respondent had no cause of action for the nullification of Free Patent No. 384019 and
with an area of only 4,651 square meters in favor of Iluminado. 9 The latter declared OCT No. P-16540 because only the State, through the Office of the Solicitor
the property in his name under Tax Declaration No. 5359.10 Iluminado filed an General, may file a direct action to annul the said patent and title; and even if the
application with the Bureau of Lands for a free patent over the entirety of Lot No. respondent was the real party in interest to file the action, such actions had long since
3353 on January 5, 1960.11 He indicated in his application that the property was not prescribed. The heirs of Baloloy prayed that judgment be rendered in their favor,
occupied by any person and was disposable or alienable public land. In support thus:
thereof, he executed an affidavit wherein he declared that he purchased about one- WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed of the Honorable Court to DISMISS
half portion of the property in 1951 based on a deed of absolute sale attached to said this case pursuant to paragraph 15, et seq., hereof, and/or DECIDE it in favor of the
affidavit; that in 1957, he purchased the other one-half portion, but "for economic
defendants by UPHOLDING the sanctity of OCT No. P-16540 and ordering plaintiff The trial court ruled that the property subject of the complaint, with an area of 1,405
to: square meters, was part of Lot No. 3347 which the Spouses Estopin owned, and
1. RESPECT defendants’ proprietary rights and interests on the property in question which they later sold to Astrologo Hular. The trial court also held that Iluminado
covered by OCT No. P-16540; committed fraud in securing the free patent and the title for the property in question,
2. VACATE it at his sole and exclusive expense, and never to set foot on it ever and that when Victoriana Lagata executed the deed of absolute sale on the residential
again; portion of Lot No. 3347, she did not know that it formed part of Lot No. 3353. It
3. PAY defendants: further held that the action of the plaintiff to nullify the title and patent was
a) MORAL DAMAGES at P50,000.00 EACH; imprescriptible.
b) ACTUAL DAMAGES and UNREALIZED PROFITS at P1,000.00/MONTH The petitioners filed on December 8, 1995 a motion to reopen the case to admit Tax
COMPUTED UP TO THE TIME OF PAYMENT PLUS LEGAL RATE OF Declaration Nos. 6957 and 4790 covering Lot No. 3347, under the names of
INTEREST; Astrologo Hular and Victoriana Lagata, respectively, in which it was declared that
c) EXEMPLARY DAMAGES of P50,000.00 Lot No. 3347 was coconut land. The trial court ruled that the motion had been
d) ATTY’S FEES and LITIGATION EXPENSES of P100,000.00; and mooted by its decision.
e) THE COSTS OF THIS SUIT. On appeal, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment affirming the decision of the
DEFENDANTS pray for all other reliefs and remedies consistent with law and trial court, and thereafter denied the motion for reconsideration thereof.
equity.22 The Present Petition
The Evidence for the Petitioners The petitioners, who are still residing on the subject property, filed their petition for
Sometime in 1982, Hular asked permission from Iluminado to construct his house on review on certiorari for the reversal of the decision and resolution of the Court of
Lot No. 3353 near the road leading to Biriran. Iluminado agreed, in the presence of Appeals.
his daughter, petitioner Adelina Baloloy. As per the plan of Lot No. 3353 certified by The issues for resolution are:
a Director of the Bureau of Lands on November 6, 1961, Lot No. 3353 had an area (1) whether all the indispensable parties had been impleaded by the respondent in the
of 9,302 square meters.23 trial court;
As gleaned from the Sketch Plan of Lot Nos. 3347 and 3353 prepared on February 7, (2) whether the said respondent had a cause of action against the petitioners for the
1991 by Geodetic Engineer Salvador Balilo, the houses of the Baloloy siblings and nullification of Free Patent No. 384019 and OCT No. P-16540; for reconveyance and
those of Astrologo and Alfredo were located in Lot No. 3353. 24 In the said sketch for possession of the subject property; and for damages; and
plan, Lot No. 3353 had an area of 9,302 square meters, while Lot No. 3347 had an (3) whether the respondent had acquired ownership over the property through
area of 15,905 square meters. When apprised of Hular’s claim over the property, the acquisitive prescription.
petitioners and their co-heirs filed a complaint for unlawful detainer with the The first issue, while not raised by the parties in the trial court and in the Court of
Municipal Trial Court of Juban, docketed as Civil Case No. 331. The case was, Appeals, is so interwoven with the other issues raised therein and is even decisive of
however, dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. the outcome of this case; hence, such issue must be delved into and resolved by this
On December 4, 1995, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of the respondent. Court.26
The fallo of the decision reads: We note that the action of the respondent in the trial court is for: (a) reinvidicatoria,
a/ Declaring plaintiff the absolute owner of the land in question, consisting of 1,405 to declare the respondent the absolute owner of the subject property and its
square meters, more or less, and entitled to the peaceful possession thereof; reconveyance to him as a consequence of the nullification of Free Patent No. 384019
b/ Ordering the defendants to reconvey the title to the plaintiff as far as the land in and OCT No. P-16540; (b) publiciana, to order the petitioners and the other heirs of
question is concerned within fifteen (15) days counted from the finality of the Iluminado Baloloy to vacate the property and deliver possession thereof to him; and
decision, failing in which, the Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to execute the (c) damages and attorney’s fees.
necessary document of reconveyance of the title in favor of the plaintiff after an It is the contention of the respondent that the subject property was sold by Lagata to
approved survey plan is made; his father, Astrologo Hular, in 1961. He adduced evidence that when his parents died
c/ Ordering defendants to remove their houses from the land in question at their own intestate, they were survived by their children, the respondent and his siblings Elena,
expense within fifteen (15) days after the decision has become final; Jose, Romeo, Anacleto, Leo, and Teresita. Article 1078 of the Civil Code provides
d/ Ordering the defendants to pay jointly and severally plaintiff the amount that where there are two or more heirs, the whole estate of the decedent is, before
of P5,000.00 as attorney’s fees. P5,000.00 as incidental litigation expenses; partition, owned in common by such heirs, subject to the payment of the debts of the
e/ To pay the costs. deceased. Until a division is made, the respective share of each cannot be determined
SO ORDERED.25 and every co-owner exercises, together with his co-participants, joint ownership over
the pro indiviso property, in addition to the use and enjoyment of the same.
Under Article 487 of the New Civil Code, any of the co-owners may bring an action The petitioners aver that Lot No. 3347 owned by the Spouses Estopin was coconut,
in ejectment. This article covers all kinds of actions for the recovery of possession, and not residential, land. The petitioners contend that, under the deed of absolute
including an accion publiciana and a reinvidicatory action. A co-owner may bring sale, Victoriana Lagata executed on November 25, 1961 in favor of Astrologo Hular,
such an action without the necessity of joining all the other co-owners as co- she sold the residential portion of Lot No. 3347; however, the latter constructed his
plaintiffs because the suit is deemed to be instituted for the benefit of all. 27 Any house on a portion of Lot No. 3353 which Iluminado had purchased from Balbedina,
judgment of the court in favor of the co-owner will benefit the others but if such now covered by OCT No. P-16540. The petitioners assert that along with their
judgment is adverse, the same cannot prejudice the rights of the unimpleaded co- mother Anacorita and their brother Antonio Baloloy, they constructed their houses
owners. If the action is for the benefit of the plaintiff alone who claims to be the sole on a part of Lot No. 3353, titled in the name of their father Iluminado; hence, they
owner and entitled to the possession thereof, the action will not prosper unless he could not be dispossessed of the said property. The petitioners posit that, whether the
impleads the other co-owners who are indispensable parties. house of Hular was constructed on a portion of Lot No. 3353 of the property of
In this case, the respondent alone filed the complaint, claiming sole ownership over Balbedina or Gruta is irrelevant because both properties are now covered by OCT
the subject property and praying that he be declared the sole owner thereof. There is No. P-16540 under the name of Iluminado, their predecessor-in-interest.
no proof that the other co-owners had waived their rights over the subject property or The Court of Appeals ruled that Victoriana Lagata owned the subject property,
conveyed the same to the respondent or such co-owners were aware of the case in the which turned out to be 1,405 square meters, and sold the same to Hular. In contrast,
trial court. The trial court rendered judgment declaring the respondent as the sole the RTC declared in its decision that while under the deed of absolute sale executed
owner of the property and entitled to its possession, to the prejudice of the latter’s by Irene Griarte in favor of Balbedina, Lot No. 3353 had an area of 6,666 square
siblings. Patently then, the decision of the trial court is erroneous. meters, Griarte actually owned only 4,651 square meters; a portion of the lot was
Under Section 7, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, the respondent was mandated to actually owned by Lino Estopin. Hence, Balbedina sold only 4,651 square meters to
implead his siblings, being co-owners of the property, as parties. The respondent Iluminado34 because he was aware that he owned only 4,651 square meters of the
failed to comply with the rule. It must, likewise, be stressed that the Republic of the land. It also held that, unknown to Lagata, a portion of Lot No. 3347 was declared as
Philippines is also an indispensable party as defendant because the respondent sought part of Lot No. 3353 when the lands in Juban were surveyed. The trial court
the nullification of OCT No. P-16540 which was issued based on Free Patent No. concluded that Lagata erroneously declared, under the deed of absolute sale executed
384019. Unless the State is impleaded as party-defendant, any decision of the Court on November 25, 1961 in favor of Hular, that the property was part of Lot No. 3347.
would not be binding on it. It has been held that the absence of an indispensable The trial and appellate courts erred in their decisions.
party in a case renders ineffective all the proceedings subsequent to the filing of the The evidence on record shows that Irene Griarte owned a parcel of land with an area
complaint including the judgment.28 The absence of the respondent’s siblings, as of 6,666 square meters, more or less.35 When she sold the property to Martiniano
parties, rendered all proceedings subsequent to the filing thereof, including the Balbedina on August 14, 1945, it was bounded on the south by the property of Lino
judgment of the court, ineffective for want of authority to act, not only as to the Estopin. There was no trail yet between the property of Griarte on the south and of
absent parties but even as to those present.29 Lino Estopin on the north. In the meantime, however, a road (trail) leading to Biriran
Even if we glossed over the procedural lapses of the respondent, we rule that he was established between the property of Balbedina on the south and that of Lino
failed to prove the material allegations of his complaint against the petitioners; and Estopin on the north. Thereafter, a cadastral survey of the lands in Juban was
that he is not entitled to the reliefs prayed for. conducted by the Bureau of Lands. The property of Balbedina was designated as a
The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to establish his case by the requisite quantum portion of Lot No. 3353, while that of Estopin was designated as Lot No. 3347. The
of evidence. If he claims a right granted as created by law or under a contract of sale, other portion of Lot No. 3353, with an area of 4,561 square meters, belonged to
he must prove his claim by competent evidence. He must rely on the strength of his Alejandro Gruta. Because of the construction of the road, the property of Balbedina,
own evidence and not on the weakness or absence of the evidence of that of his which was a part of Lot No. 3353, was reduced to 4,651 square meters. Balbedina
opponent.30 He who claims a better right to real estate property must prove not only declared, under Tax Declaration No. 391, that Lot No. 3353 had an area of 4,651
his ownership of the same but also the identity thereof. 31 In Huy v. Huy,32 we held square meters and was coconut land36 and that his property was bounded on the south
that where a property subject of controversy is duly registered under the Torrens by a trail (road). Lino Estopin declared Lot No. 3347 under his name for taxation
system, the presumptive conclusiveness of such title should be given weight and in purposes, in which he stated that his property was bounded on the north by the trail
the absence of strong and compelling evidence to the contrary, the holder thereof going to Biriran.37Clearly, then, Lot No. 3353 and Lot No. 3347 had a common
should be considered as the owner of the property until his title is nullified or boundary – the trail (road) going to Biriran.
modified in an appropriate ordinary action. A Torrens Certificate is evidence of an Balbedina sold his property, which was a portion of Lot No. 3353, with an area of
indefeasible title to property in favor of the person in whose name appears 4,651 square meters to Iluminado Baloloy on June 4, 1951. 38 Under the deed of
therein.33 Such holder is entitled to the possession of the property until his title is absolute sale, the property was bounded on the south by the trail (road) owned by
nullified. Lino Estopin.39 The English translation of the deed of sale attached as page 85 to the
RTC Records, which both the trial court and the appellate court relied upon, is A When the deed of sale was executed I did not see the document, but I insist there
incorrect. was a document.
The original deed of absolute sale, which is in Spanish, states that the boundary of Q That’s why, how were you able to say before the court that there was a document
the property on the south is "con camino, Lino Estopin," while the English version of when you contend that you did not see any?
the deed, indicates that the property is bounded "on the south by Lino Estopin." A There was basis in the sale … the sale was based on a document. You cannot sell a
Being an earlier document, the deed in Spanish signed by the parties therefore should property without document? (sic)
prevail. Conformably to such deed, Iluminado Baloloy declared in Tax Declaration Q Is that your belief?
No. 5359 under his name that the property is bounded on the south by a trail, 40 and A Yes, Sir.
not by Lot No. 3347 owned by Lino Estopin. Q But you did not see any document?
The respondent failed to adduce any documentary evidence to prove how the Atty. Diesta:
Spouses Estopin acquired the disputed property. The respondent’s reliance on the Already answered.
testimonies of Melissa Estopin, the daughter of the Spouses Estopin, and on Porfirio Witness:
Guamos as well as the May 8, 1993 Affidavit of Martiniano Balbedina, and the deed A I did not see.
of sale executed by Victoriana Lagata on November 27, 1961 in favor of Astrologo Atty. Dealca:
Hular to corroborate his claim over the lot in question, is misplaced. Q You said that that document was used when the property was sold by Lino Estopin
First. Per the testimony of Porfirio Guamos, the witness of the respondent, Lino to Alfredo Hular. . .
Estopin purchased the disputed property in 1941 from Irene Griarte and insisted that A In 1961. Yes.41
there was a deed of sale evidencing the sale: However, the respondent failed to adduce in evidence the said deed or even an
Atty. Dealca: authentic copy thereof. The respondent did not offer any justification for his failure
Q The area of the land in question is 1,405 sq. m., you claim that way back in 1944 to adduce the same in evidence. As against the respondent’s verbal claim that his
the owner of the land was Lino Estopin; ’41 to ’44? father acquired the property from Lagata, the Torrens title of Iluminado Baloloy
A 1941. must prevail.42
Q And you said that Lino Estopin was able to acquire the land by purchase? Second. The respondent even failed to adduce in evidence any tax declarations over
A That was very long time when Lino Estopin sold the property. the disputed property under the name of Irene Griarte and/or Lino Estopin, or realty
Q My question is whether you know because you testified earlier that Lino Estopin tax payment receipts in their names from 1941 to November 1961. The documents
was able to acquire the land by purchase; do you confirm that? are circumstantial evidence to prove that Irene Griarte claimed ownership over the
A Yes, Sir. disputed property and that Lino Estopin acquired the same from her. After all, such
Q From whom? tax declarations and tax receipts can be strong evidence of ownership of land when
A From Irene Griarte. accompanied by possession for a period sufficient for acquisitive prescription.43
Q Were you present when that sale was consummated? Third. The respondent even failed to adduce in evidence Tax Declaration No. 4790
A I was not there. covering the two parcels of land under the name of Lino Estopin to prove his claim
Q So you do not know how much was it bought by Lino Estopin from Irene Griarte? that Lot No. 3347 consisted of agricultural and residential lands. We note that the
A No, Sir. petitioners appended a certified true copy of Tax Declaration No. 4790 under the
Q You do not know whether a document to that effect was actually drafted and name of Victoriana Lagata over Lot No. 3347 to their Motion to Reopen the Case. In
executed? the said declaration, Lot No. 3347 was described as coconut land; this is contrary to
A There was. the respondent’s claim that the said lot was then residential, and that the boundary of
Q Have you seen the document? the property on the north was the road to Biriran which, in turn, is consistent with the
A I did not see but there was a document. petitioners’ claim.44 Unfortunately, the trial court denied the said motion on the
Q You maintain there was a document but you did not see a document, is that it? ground that it was mooted by its decision.
A In my belief there was a document. Fourth. During the cadastral survey of lands in Juban, the lot of Gruta and that of
Q In your belief, how did you organize that belief when you did not see a document? Balbedina, inclusive of the subject property, were designated as Lot No. 3353 with a
A I insist there was a document. total area of 9,302 square meters under their names, while that of Lino Estopin was
Q That is why, why are you insisting when you did not see a document? designated as Lot No. 3347 with an area of 15,906 square meters. Iluminado Baloloy
A Well, during the sale that document was used. applied for a free patent over Lot No. 3353, including the disputed property, under
Q How was it used when you did not see that document? his name. The respondent failed to adduce any evidence that the Spouses Estopin
and/or Astrologo Hular opposed Balbedina and/or Iluminado’s claim of ownership of
Lot No. 3353 during the survey and after the filing of the application. A propos is erroneously described in the certificate of title. Petitioner can only claim right of
our ruling in Urquiaga v. Court of Appeals: 45 ownership over the parcel of land that was the object of the deed of sale and nothing
As succinctly observed by respondent Court of Appeals in assessing the totality of else.48
the evidence – Sixth. Under the said deed of sale dated November 11, 1961, Victoriana Lagata sold
We do not agree with defendants that they are also the occupants and possessors of Lot No. 3347 which had an area of 15,906 square meters and covered by Tax
the subject lot just because it "is adjacent to their titled property." Precisely, the Declaration No. 4790. The deed does not state that what was sold was only a portion
boundaries of defendants’ titled property were determined, delineated and surveyed of Lot No. 3347, excluding therefrom the disputed property. This is understandable,
during the cadastral survey of Dipolog and thereafter indicated in their certificate of since the subject property is a portion of Lot No. 3353 owned by Alejandro Gruta
title in order that the extent of their property will be known and fixed. Since the and Iluminado Baloloy, and not of Lino Estopin and/or Victoriana Lagata. Lagata
subject lot was already found to be outside their titled property, defendants have no could not have sold a portion of Lot No. 3353 which she does not own. As the Latin
basis in claiming it or other adjacent lots for that matter. Otherwise, the very purpose adage goes: "NEMO DAT QUOD NON HABET."
of the cadastral survey as a process of determining the exact boundaries of adjoining Seventh. The Balbedina’s Affidavit dated May 8, 1993 offered by the respondent to
properties will be defeated. prove the contents thereof is inadmissible in evidence against the petitioners.
Defendants’ own title, O.C.T. No. 0-357 (in the names of Jose Aguirre and Cristina Balbedina did not testify; as such, the petitioners were deprived of their right to
Gonzales), in fact belies their claim of occupation and possession over the adjacent cross-examine him. The said affidavit is thus hearsay and barren of probative weight.
subject lot. Examining said title, we note that: (1) the cadastral survey of Dipolog The affidavit varies the contents of the deed of absolute sale which he (Balbedina)
was conducted from January, 1923 to November 1925; (2) defendants’ titled executed in favor of Iluminado more than forty years earlier. In the said affidavit, it
property was one of those lots surveyed and this was designated as Lot No. 2623; (3) was made to appear that Balbedina sold to Iluminado on June 4, 1951 only a portion
during the survey, it was already determined and known that Lot No. 2623 is of Lot 3353 with an area of 3,333 square meters, when under the said deed of
bounded on the northeast, southeast, southwest and west by Lot No. 4443 (as we absolute sale, the property that was sold consisted of 4,651 square meters. The
have seen in our narration of facts, the subject lot is a subdivision lot of Lot No. 6552 affidavit is proscribed by Section 9, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which provides:
which was originally identified as Lot No. 4443-B-1, Dipolog Cadastre 85 Ext.: Section 9. Evidence of written agreements. - When the terms of an agreement have
hence, the subject lot is a portion of Lot No. 4443); and (4) O.C.T. No. 0-357 was been reduced to writing, it is considered as containing all the terms agreed upon and
issued on October 11, 1965 on the strength of the judgment rendered on July 31 (sic), there can be, between the parties and their successors in interest, no evidence of such
1941 by the then Court of First Instance of Zamboanga del Norte in Cadastral Case terms other than the contents of the written agreement.
No. 6, LRC Cadastral Record No. 756. ...
From the foregoing facts, we find that as early as January, 1923 when the cadastral It bears stressing that the deed of absolute sale executed by Balbedina in favor of
survey was started, the boundaries of Lot Nos. 2623 and 4443 were already Baloloy was notarized by the Justice of the Peace who was an Ex-Officio Notary
determined and delineated. Since the subject lot was surveyed to be part of Lot No. Public; hence, entitled to full probative weight.
4443, it means that during that time defendants’ predecessors-in-interest never Eighth. The Special Sketch Plan of Lot No. 3353 prepared by Geodetic Engineer
claimed ownership or possession over the subject lot. Otherwise, they would have Rodolfo P. Cunanan49 cannot prevail over OCT No. P-16540. In fact, the plan even
complained so that the subject lot could be excluded from Lot No. 4443 and included buttressed the case for the petitioners because it shows that the subject property is a
in Lot No. 2623, they being adjacent lots. It is obvious then that defendants’ portion of Lot No. 3353, and not of Lot No. 3347, covered by OCT No. P-16540
predecessors only claimed Lot No. 2623 and they pursued their claim in Cadastral under the name of Iluminado Baloloy, the deceased father of the petitioners.
Case No. 6, LRC Cadastral Record No. 756 until O.C.T. No. 0-357 was issued to Ninth. The conclusion of the RTC that Lagata in fact sold a portion of Lot No. 3347
them. The contention of defendants that they and their predecessors-in-interest under the deed of absolute sale dated November 25, 1961, unaware that the property
occupied and possessed the subject lot since time immemorial therefore is not true. 46 was a part of Lot No. 3353, is based on mere speculations and surmises.
Fifth. Under the deed of absolute sale dated November 25, 1961, Lagata sold to Iluminado Baloloy included in his application for a free patent the property of
Astrologo Hular Lot No. 3347, and not Lot No. 3353. In Veterans Federation of the Alejandro Gruta, and was able to secure a free patent over said property in addition
Philippines v. Court of Appeals,47 we ruled that: to his own. As such, Gruta, not the respondent, is the proper party to assail such free
Petitioner VFP maintains that the deed of sale was valid and enforceable and that it patent, as well as OCT No. P-16540 which was issued based thereon.
was perfected at the very moment that the parties agreed upon the thing which was IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The
the object of the sale and upon the price. The parties herein had agreed on the parcel decisions of the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals
of land that petitioner would purchase from respondent PNR, and the same was are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint of the respondent
described therein; thus, petitioner VFP cannot conveniently set aside the technical is DISMISSED. No costs.
description in this agreement and insist that it is the legal owner of the property SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines transferred ownership of Lot 7226 in the name of their son Dominador who was the
SUPREME COURT only one in the family who had a college education. By virtue of a January 31, 1962
Manila simulated deed of sale,14 a title was issued to Dominador which enabled him to
FIRST DIVISION secure a loan with Lot 7226 as collateral. Notwithstanding the execution of the
G.R. No. 161916 January 20, 2006 simulated deed, Dominador, then single, never disputed his parents’ ownership of the
ARNELITO ADLAWAN, Petitioner, lot. He and his wife, Graciana, did not disturb respondents’ possession of the
vs. property until they died on May 28, 1987 and May 6, 1997, respectively.
EMETERIO M. ADLAWAN and NARCISA M. ADLAWAN, Respondents. Respondents also contended that Dominador’s signature at the back of petitioner’s
birth certificate was forged, hence, the latter is not an heir of Dominador and has no
DECISION right to claim ownership of Lot 7226.15 They argued that even if petitioner is indeed
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: Dominador’s acknowledged illegitimate son, his right to succeed is doubtful because
Assailed in this petition for review is the September 23, 2003 Decision 1 of the Court Dominador was survived by his wife, Graciana.16
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 74921 which set aside the September 13, 2002 On February 12, 2002, the MTC dismissed the complaint holding that the
Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 7, in Civil Case establishment of petitioner’s filiation and the settlement of the estate of Dominador
No. CEB-27806, and reinstated the February 12, 2002 Judgment 3 of the Municipal are conditions precedent to the accrual of petitioner’s action for ejectment. It added
Trial Court (MTC) of Minglanilla, Metro Cebu, in Civil Case No. 392, dismissing that since Dominador was survived by his wife, Graciana, who died 10 years
petitioner Arnelito Adlawan’s unlawful detainer suit against respondents Emeterio thereafter, her legal heirs are also entitled to their share in Lot 7226. The dispositive
and Narcisa Adlawan. Likewise questioned is the January 8, 2004 Resolution 4of the portion thereof, reads:
Court of Appeals which denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. In View of the foregoing, for failure to prove by preponderance of evidence, the
The instant ejectment suit stemmed from the parties’ dispute over Lot 7226 and the plaintiff’s cause of action, the above-entitled case is hereby Ordered DISMISSED.
house built thereon, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 8842, 5 registered in SO ORDERED.17
the name of the late Dominador Adlawan and located at Barrio Lipata, Municipality On appeal by petitioner, the RTC reversed the decision of the MTC holding that the
of Minglanilla, Cebu. In his complaint, petitioner claimed that he is an acknowledged title of Dominador over Lot 7226 cannot be collaterally attacked. It thus ordered
illegitimate child6 of Dominador who died on May 28, 1987 without any other issue. respondents to turn over possession of the controverted lot to petitioner and to pay
Claiming to be the sole heir of Dominador, he executed an affidavit adjudicating to compensation for the use and occupation of the premises. The decretal portion
himself Lot 7226 and the house built thereon.7 Out of respect and generosity to thereof, provides:
respondents who are the siblings of his father, he granted their plea to occupy the Wherefore, the Judgment, dated February 12, 2002, of the Municipal Trial Court of
subject property provided they would vacate the same should his need for the Minglanilla, Cebu, in Civil Case No. 392, is reversed. Defendants-appellees are
property arise. Sometime in January 1999, he verbally requested respondents to directed to restore to plaintiff-appellant possession of Lot 7226 and the house
vacate the house and lot, but they refused and filed instead an action for quieting of thereon, and to pay plaintiff-appellant, beginning in August 2000, compensation for
title8 with the RTC. Finally, upon respondents’ refusal to heed the last demand letter their use and occupation of the property in the amount of P500.00 a month.
to vacate dated August 2, 2000, petitioner filed the instant case on August 9, 2000.9 So ordered.18
On the other hand, respondents Narcisa and Emeterio, 70 and 59 years of age, Meanwhile, the RTC granted petitioner’s motion for execution pending
respectively,10 denied that they begged petitioner to allow them to stay on the appeal19 which was opposed by the alleged nephew and nieces of Graciana in their
questioned property and stressed that they have been occupying Lot 7226 and the motion for leave to intervene and to file an answer in intervention.20 They contended
house standing thereon since birth. They alleged that Lot 7226 was originally that as heirs of Graciana, they have a share in Lot 7226 and that intervention is
registered in the name of their deceased father, Ramon Adlawan 11 and the ancestral necessary to protect their right over the property. In addition, they declared that as
house standing thereon was owned by Ramon and their mother, Oligia Mañacap co-owners of the property, they are allowing respondents to stay in Lot 7226 until a
Adlawan. The spouses had nine12 children including the late Dominador and herein formal partition of the property is made.
surviving respondents Emeterio and Narcisa. During the lifetime of their parents and The RTC denied the motion for leave to intervene.21 It, however, recalled the order
deceased siblings, all of them lived on the said property. Dominador and his wife, granting the execution pending appeal having lost jurisdiction over the case in view
Graciana Ramas Adlawan, who died without issue, also occupied the of the petition filed by respondents with the Court of Appeals. 22
same.13 Petitioner, on the other hand, is a stranger who never had possession of Lot On September 23, 2003, the Court of Appeals set aside the decision of the RTC and
7226. reinstated the judgment of the MTC. It ratiocinated that petitioner and the heirs of
Sometime in 1961, spouses Ramon and Oligia needed money to finance the Graciana are co-owners of Lot 7226. As such, petitioner cannot eject respondents
renovation of their house. Since they were not qualified to obtain a loan, they
from the property via an unlawful detainer suit filed in his own name and as the sole co-owners over the property. In dismissing the complaint for want of respondent’s
owner of the property. Thus – authority to file the case, the Court held that –
WHEEFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision dated September 13, 2002 Under Article 487 of the New Civil Code, any of the co-owners may bring an action
of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 7, in Civil Case No. CEB-27806 is in ejectment. This article covers all kinds of actions for the recovery of possession,
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the Judgment dated February 12, 2002 of the including an accion publiciana and a reinvidicatory action. A co-owner may bring
Municipal Trial Court of Minglanilla, Metro Cebu, in Civil Case No. 392 is such an action without the necessity of joining all the other co-owners as co-
REINSTATED. Costs against the respondent. plaintiffs because the suit is deemed to be instituted for the benefit of all. Any
SO ORDERED.23 judgment of the court in favor of the co-owner will benefit the others but if such
Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, the instant petition. judgment is adverse, the same cannot prejudice the rights of the unimpleaded co-
The decisive issue to be resolved is whether or not petitioner can validly maintain the owners. If the action is for the benefit of the plaintiff alone who claims to be the sole
instant case for ejectment. owner and entitled to the possession thereof, the action will not prosper unless he
Petitioner averred that he is an acknowledged illegitimate son and the sole heir of impleads the other co-owners who are indispensable parties.
Dominador. He in fact executed an affidavit adjudicating to himself the controverted In this case, the respondent alone filed the complaint, claiming sole ownership over
property. In ruling for the petitioner, the RTC held that the questioned January 31, the subject property and praying that he be declared the sole owner thereof. There is
1962 deed of sale validly transferred title to Dominador and that petitioner is his no proof that the other co-owners had waived their rights over the subject property or
acknowledged illegitimate son who inherited ownership of the questioned lot. The conveyed the same to the respondent or such co-owners were aware of the case in the
Court notes, however, that the RTC lost sight of the fact that the theory of succession trial court. The trial court rendered judgment declaring the respondent as the sole
invoked by petitioner would end up proving that he is not the sole owner of Lot owner of the property and entitled to its possession, to the prejudice of the latter’s
7226. This is so because Dominador was survived not only by petitioner but also by siblings. Patently then, the decision of the trial court is erroneous.
his legal wife, Graciana, who died 10 years after the demise of Dominador on May Under Section 7, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, the respondent was mandated to
28, 1987.24 By intestate succession, Graciana and petitioner became co-owners of implead his siblings, being co-owners of the property, as parties. The respondent
Lot 7226.25 The death of Graciana on May 6, 1997, did not make petitioner the failed to comply with the rule. It must, likewise, be stressed that the Republic of the
absolute owner of Lot 7226 because the share of Graciana passed to her relatives by Philippines is also an indispensable party as defendant because the respondent sought
consanguinity and not to petitioner with whom she had no blood relations. The Court the nullification of OCT No. P-16540 which was issued based on Free Patent No.
of Appeals thus correctly held that petitioner has no authority to institute the instant 384019. Unless the State is impleaded as party-defendant, any decision of the Court
action as the sole owner of Lot 7226. would not be binding on it. It has been held that the absence of an indispensable
Petitioner contends that even granting that he has co-owners over Lot 7226, he can party in a case renders ineffective all the proceedings subsequent to the filing of the
on his own file the instant case pursuant to Article 487 of the Civil Code which complaint including the judgment. The absence of the respondent’s siblings, as
provides: parties, rendered all proceedings subsequent to the filing thereof, including the
ART. 487. Any one of the co-owners may bring an action in ejectment. judgment of the court, ineffective for want of authority to act, not only as to the
This article covers all kinds of actions for the recovery of possession. Article 487 absent parties but even as to those present.30
includes forcible entry and unlawful detainer (accion interdictal), recovery of In the instant case, it is not disputed that petitioner brought the suit for unlawful
possession (accion publiciana), and recovery of ownership (accion de detainer in his name alone and for his own benefit to the exclusion of the heirs of
reivindicacion).26 A co-owner may bring such an action without the necessity of Graciana as he even executed an affidavit of self- adjudication over the disputed
joining all the other co-owners as co-plaintiffs because the suit is presumed to have property. It is clear therefore that petitioner cannot validly maintain the instant action
been filed to benefit his co-owners. It should be stressed, however, that where the considering that he does not recognize the co-ownership that necessarily flows from
suit is for the benefit of the plaintiff alone who claims to be the sole owner and his theory of succession to the property of his father, Dominador.
entitled to the possession of the litigated property, the action should be dismissed. 27 In the same vein, there is no merit in petitioner’s claim that he has the legal
The renowned civilist, Professor Arturo M. Tolentino, explained – personality to file the present unlawful detainer suit because the ejectment of
A co-owner may bring such an action, without the necessity of joining all the other respondents would benefit not only him but also his alleged co-owners. However,
co-owners as co-plaintiffs, because the suit is deemed to be instituted for the benefit petitioner forgets that he filed the instant case to acquire possession of the property
of all. If the action is for the benefit of the plaintiff alone, such that he claims and to recover damages. If granted, he alone will gain possession of the lot and
possession for himself and not for the co-ownership, the action will not prosper. benefit from the proceeds of the award of damages to the exclusion of the heirs of
(Emphasis added)28 Graciana. Hence, petitioner cannot successfully capitalize on the alleged benefit to
In Baloloy v. Hular,29 respondent filed a complaint for quieting of title claiming his co-owners. Incidentally, it should be pointed out that in default of the said heirs
exclusive ownership of the property, but the evidence showed that respondent has of Graciana, whom petitioner labeled as "fictitious heirs," the State will inherit her
share31 and will thus be petitioner’s co-owner entitled to possession and enjoyment Republic of the Philippines
of the property. SUPREME COURT
The present controversy should be differentiated from the cases where the Court Manila
upheld the right of a co-owner to file a suit pursuant to Article 487 of the Civil Code. FIRST DIVISION
In Resuena v. Court of Appeals,32 and Sering v. Plazo,33 the co-owners who filed the G.R. No. 160347 November 29, 2006
ejectment case did not represent themselves as the exclusive owner of the property. ARCADIO and MARIA LUISA CARANDANG, Petitioners,
InCelino v. Heirs of Alejo and Teresa Santiago,34 the complaint for quieting of title vs.
was brought in behalf of the co-owners precisely to recover lots owned in HEIRS OF QUIRINO A. DE GUZMAN, namely: MILAGROS DE GUZMAN,
common.35 Similarly in Vencilao v. Camarenta,36 the amended complaint specified VICTOR DE GUZMAN, REYNALDO DE GUZMAN, CYNTHIA G. RAGASA
that the plaintiff is one of the heirs who co-owns the controverted properties. and QUIRINO DE GUZMAN, JR., Respondents.
In the foregoing cases, the plaintiff never disputed the existence of a co-ownership
nor claimed to be the sole or exclusive owner of the litigated lot. A favorable DECISION
decision therein would of course inure to the benefit not only of the plaintiff but to CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
his co-owners as well. The instant case, however, presents an entirely different This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Court of Appeals
backdrop as petitioner vigorously asserted absolute and sole ownership of the Decision1 and Resolution affirming the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Decision
questioned lot. In his complaint, petitioner made the following allegations, to wit: rendering herein petitioners Arcadio and Luisa Carandang [hereinafter referred to as
3. The plaintiff was the only son (illegitimate) and sole heir of the late spouses Carandang] jointly and severally liable for their loan to Quirino A. de
DOMINADOR ADLAWAN who died intestate on 28 May 1987 without any other Guzman.
descendant nor ascendant x x x. The Court of Appeals summarized the facts as follows:
xxxx [Quirino de Guzman] and [the Spouses Carandang] are stockholders as well as
5. Being the only child/descendant and, therefore, sole heir of the deceased corporate officers of Mabuhay Broadcasting System (MBS for brevity), with equities
Dominador Adlawan, the plaintiff became the absolute owner, and automatically at fifty four percent (54%) and forty six percent (46%) respectively.
took POSSESSION, of the aforementioned house and lot x x x. (Emphasis added) 37 On November 26, 1983, the capital stock of MBS was increased, from P500,000 to
Clearly, the said cases find no application here because petitioner’s action operates P1.5 million and P345,000 of this increase was subscribed by [the spouses
as a complete repudiation of the existence of co-ownership and not in representation Carandang]. Thereafter, on March 3, 1989, MBS again increased its capital stock,
or recognition thereof. Dismissal of the complaint is therefore proper. As noted by from P1.5 million to P3 million, [the spouses Carandang] yet again subscribed to the
Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Edgrado L. Paras "[i]t is understood, of increase. They subscribed to P93,750 worth of newly issued capital stock.
course, that the action [under Article 487 of the Civil Code] is being instituted for all. [De Guzman] claims that, part of the payment for these subscriptions were paid by
Hence, if the co-owner expressly states that he is bringing the case only for himself, him, P293,250 for the November 26, 1983 capital stock increase and P43,125 for the
the action should not be allowed to prosper." 38 March 3, 1989 Capital Stock increase or a total ofP336,375. Thus, on March 31,
Indeed, respondents’ not less than four decade actual physical possession of the 1992, [de Guzman] sent a demand letter to [the spouses Carandang] for the payment
questioned ancestral house and lot deserves to be respected especially so that of said total amount.
petitioner failed to show that he has the requisite personality and authority as co- [The spouses Carandang] refused to pay the amount, contending that a pre-
owner to file the instant case. Justice dictates that respondents who are now in the incorporation agreement was executed between [Arcadio Carandang] and [de
twilight years of their life be granted possession of their ancestral property where Guzman], whereby the latter promised to pay for the stock subscriptions of the
their parents and siblings lived during their lifetime, and where they, will probably former without cost, in consideration for [Arcadio Carandang’s] technical expertise,
spend the remaining days of their life. his newly purchased equipment, and his skill in repairing and upgrading
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The September 23, 2003 Decision of the radio/communication equipment therefore, there is no indebtedness on their part
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 74921 which reinstated the February 12, 2002 [sic].
Judgment of the Municipal Trial Court of Minglanilla, Metro Cebu, dismissing On June 5, 1992, [de Guzman] filed his complaint, seeking to recover the P336,375
petitioner’s complaint in Civil Case No. 392, and its January 8, 2004 Resolution, together with damages. After trial on the merits, the trial court disposed of the case in
are AFFIRMED. this wise:
SO ORDERED. "WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of [de
Guzman]. Accordingly, [the spouses Carandang] are ordered to jointly and severally
pay [de Guzman], to wit:
(1) P336,375.00 representing [the spouses Carandang’s] loan to de Guzman;
(2) interest on the preceding amount at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum inform the court within thirty (30) days after such death of the fact thereof, and to
from June 5, 1992 when this complaint was filed until the principal amount shall give the name and address of his legal representative or representatives. Failure of
have been fully paid; counsel to comply with this duty shall be a ground for disciplinary action.
(3) P20,000.00 as attorney’s fees; The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased, without
(4) Costs of suit. requiring the appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may appoint
The spouses Carandang appealed the RTC Decision to the Court of Appeals, which a guardian ad litem for the minor heirs.
affirmed the same in the 22 April 2003 assailed Decision: The court shall forthwith order the legal representative or representatives to appear
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing the assailed Decision is hereby and be substituted within a period of thirty (30) days from notice.
AFFIRMED. No costs.2 If no legal representative is named by the counsel for the deceased party, or if the
The Motion for Reconsideration filed by the spouses Carandang was similarly denied one so named shall fail to appear within the specified period, the court may order the
by the Court of Appeals in the 6 October 2003 assailed Resolution: opposing party, within a specified time, to procure the appointment of an executor or
WHEREFORE, in view thereof, the motion for reconsideration is hereby DENIED administrator for the estate of the deceased and the latter shall immediately appear
and our Decision of April 22, 2003, which is based on applicable law and for and on behalf of the deceased. The court charges in procuring such appointment,
jurisprudence on the matter is hereby AFFIRMED and REITERATED. 3 if defrayed by the opposing party, may be recovered as costs.
The spouses Carandang then filed before this Court the instant Petition for Review The spouses Carandang posits that such failure to comply with the above rule renders
on Certiorari, bringing forth the following issues: void the decision of the RTC, in adherence to the following pronouncements in Vda.
I. de Haberer v. Court of Appeals5 and Ferreria v. Vda. de Gonzales6 :
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED Thus, it has been held that when a party dies in an action that survives and no order
MANIFEST ERROR IN FAILING TO STRICTLY COMPLY WITH SECTION 16, is issued by the court for the appearance of the legal representative or of the heirs of
RULE 3 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE. the deceased in substitution of the deceased, and as a matter of fact no substitution
II. has ever been effected, the trial held by the court without such legal representatives
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY or heirs and the judgment rendered after such trial are null and void because the court
ERRED IN ITS FINDING THAT THERE IS AN ALLEGED LOAN FOR WHICH acquired no jurisdiction over the persons of the legal representatives or of the heirs
PETITIONERS ARE LIABLE, CONTRARY TO EXPRESS PROVISIONS OF upon whom the trial and judgment would be binding. 7
BOOK IV, TITLE XI, OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE PERTAINING TO LOANS. In the present case, there had been no court order for the legal representative of the
III. deceased to appear, nor had any such legal representative appeared in court to be
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY substituted for the deceased; neither had the complainant ever procured the
ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE RESPONDENTS WERE ABLE TO appointment of such legal representative of the deceased, including appellant, ever
DISCHARGE THEIR BURDEN OF PROOF, IN COMPLETE DISREGARD OF asked to be substituted for the deceased. As a result, no valid substitution was
THE REVISED RULES ON EVIDENCE. effected, consequently, the court never acquired jurisdiction over appellant for the
IV. purpose of making her a party to the case and making the decision binding upon her,
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED either personally or as a representative of the estate of her deceased mother. 8
REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT FAILED TO APPLY SECTIONS 2 AND 7, However, unlike jurisdiction over the subject matter which is conferred by law and is
RULE 3 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE. not subject to the discretion of the parties,9 jurisdiction over the person of the parties
V. to the case may be waived either expressly or impliedly. 10 Implied waiver comes in
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY the form of either voluntary appearance or a failure to object. 11
ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE PURPORTED LIABILITY OF PETITIONERS In the cases cited by the spouses Carandang, we held that there had been no valid
ARE JOINT AND SOLIDARY, IN VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1207 OF THE substitution by the heirs of the deceased party, and therefore the judgment cannot be
NEW CIVIL CODE.4 made binding upon them. In the case at bar, not only do the heirs of de Guzman
Whether or not the RTC Decision is void for failing to comply with Section 16, Rule interpose no objection to the jurisdiction of the court over their persons; they are
3 of the Rules of Court actually claiming and embracing such jurisdiction. In doing so, their waiver is not
The spouses Carandang claims that the Decision of the RTC, having been rendered even merely implied (by their participation in the appeal of said Decision), but
after the death of Quirino de Guzman, is void for failing to comply with Section 16, express (by their explicit espousal of such view in both the Court of Appeals and in
Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, which provides: this Court). The heirs of de Guzman had no objection to being bound by the Decision
SEC. 16. Death of party; duty of counsel. – Whenever a party to a pending action of the RTC.
dies, and the claim is not thereby extinguished, it shall be the duty of his counsel to
Thus, lack of jurisdiction over the person, being subject to waiver, is a personal partnership. In fact, he is the sole administrator, and the wife is not entitled as a
defense which can only be asserted by the party who can thereby waive it by silence. matter of right to join him in this endeavor. The husband may defend the conjugal
It also pays to look into the spirit behind the general rule requiring a formal partnership in a suit or action without being joined by the wife. x x x Under the
substitution of heirs. The underlying principle therefor is not really because Family Code, the administration of the conjugal property belongs to the husband and
substitution of heirs is a jurisdictional requirement, but because non-compliance the wife jointly. However, unlike an act of alienation or encumbrance where the
therewith results in the undeniable violation of the right to due process of those who, consent of both spouses is required, joint management or administration does not
though not duly notified of the proceedings, are substantially affected by the decision require that the husband and wife always act together. Each spouse may validly
rendered therein.12 Such violation of due process can only be asserted by the persons exercise full power of management alone, subject to the intervention of the court in
whose rights are claimed to have been violated, namely the heirs to whom the proper cases as provided under Article 124 of the Family Code. x x x."
adverse judgment is sought to be enforced. The Court of Appeals is correct. Petitioners erroneously interchange the terms "real
Care should, however, be taken in applying the foregoing conclusions. In People v. party in interest" and "indispensable party." A real party in interest is the party who
Florendo,13 where we likewise held that the proceedings that took place after the stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment of the suit, or the party entitled to
death of the party are void, we gave another reason for such nullity: "the attorneys the avails of the suit.15 On the other hand, an indispensable party is a party in interest
for the offended party ceased to be the attorneys for the deceased upon the death of without whom no final determination can be had of an action, 16 in contrast to a
the latter, the principal x x x." Nevertheless, the case at bar had already been necessary party, which is one who is not indispensable but who ought to be joined as
submitted for decision before the RTC on 4 June 1998, several months before the a party if complete relief is to be accorded as to those already parties, or for a
passing away of de Guzman on 19 February 1999. Hence, no further proceedings complete determination or settlement of the claim subject of the action. 17
requiring the appearance of de Guzman’s counsel were conducted before the The spouses Carandang are indeed correct that "(i)f a suit is not brought in the name
promulgation of the RTC Decision. Consequently, de Guzman’s counsel cannot be of or against the real party in interest, a motion to dismiss may be filed on the ground
said to have no authority to appear in trial, as trial had already ceased upon the death that the complaint states no cause of action." 18However, what dismissal on this
of de Guzman. ground entails is an examination of whether the parties presently pleaded are
In sum, the RTC Decision is valid despite the failure to comply with Section 16, interested in the outcome of the litigation, and not whether all persons interested in
Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, because of the express waiver of the heirs to the such outcome are actually pleaded. The latter query is relevant in discussions
jurisdiction over their persons, and because there had been, before the promulgation concerning indispensable and necessary parties, but not in discussions
of the RTC Decision, no further proceedings requiring the appearance of de concerning real parties in interest. Both indispensable and necessary parties are
Guzman’s counsel. considered as real parties in interest, since both classes of parties stand to be
Before proceeding with the substantive aspects of the case, however, there is still one benefited or injured by the judgment of the suit.
more procedural issue to tackle, the fourth issue presented by the spouses Carandang Quirino and Milagros de Guzman were married before the effectivity of the Family
on the non-inclusion in the complaint of an indispensable party. Code on 3 August 1988. As they did not execute any marriage settlement, the regime
Whether or not the RTC should have dismissed the case for failure to state a cause of of conjugal partnership of gains govern their property relations. 19
action, considering that Milagros de Guzman, allegedly an indispensable party, was All property acquired during the marriage, whether the acquisition appears to have
not included as a party-plaintiff been made, contracted or registered in the name of one or both spouses, is presumed
The spouses Carandang claim that, since three of the four checks used to pay their to be conjugal unless the contrary is proved.20Credits are personal
stock subscriptions were issued in the name of Milagros de Guzman, the latter properties,21 acquired during the time the loan or other credit transaction was
should be considered an indispensable party. Being such, the spouses Carandang executed. Therefore, credits loaned during the time of the marriage are presumed to
claim, the failure to join Mrs. de Guzman as a party-plaintiff should cause the be conjugal property.
dismissal of the action because "(i)f a suit is not brought in the name of or against the Consequently, assuming that the four checks created a debt for which the spouses
real party in interest, a motion to dismiss may be filed on the ground that the Carandang are liable, such credits are presumed to be conjugal property. There being
complaint states no cause of action."14 no evidence to the contrary, such presumption subsists. As such, Quirino de
The Court of Appeals held: Guzman, being a co-owner of specific partnership property,22 is certainly a real party
We disagree. The joint account of spouses Quirino A de Guzman and Milagros de in interest. Dismissal on the ground of failure to state a cause of action, by reason
Guzman from which the four (4) checks were drawn is part of their conjugal that the suit was allegedly not brought by a real party in interest, is therefore
property and under both the Civil Code and the Family Code the husband alone may unwarranted.
institute an action for the recovery or protection of the spouses’ conjugal property. So now we come to the discussion concerning indispensable and necessary parties.
Thus, in Docena v. Lapesura [355 SCRA 658], the Supreme Court held that "x x x When an indispensable party is not before the court, the action should likewise be
Under the New Civil Code, the husband is the administrator of the conjugal dismissed.23 The absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actuations
of the court void, for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties but merely a necessary party, dismissal is not warranted, whether or not there was an
even as to those present.24 On the other hand, the non-joinder of necessary parties do order for her inclusion in the complaint pursuant to Section 9, Rule 3.
not result in the dismissal of the case. Instead, Section 9, Rule 3 of the Rules of Article 108 of the Family Code provides:
Court provides for the consequences of such non-joinder: Art. 108. The conjugal partnership shall be governed by the rules on the contract of
Sec. 9. Non-joinder of necessary parties to be pleaded. – Whenever in any pleading partnership in all that is not in conflict with what is expressly determined in this
in which a claim is asserted a necessary party is not joined, the pleader shall set forth Chapter or by the spouses in their marriage settlements.
his name, if known, and shall state why he is omitted. Should the court find the This provision is practically the same as the Civil Code provision it superceded:
reason for the omission unmeritorious, it may order the inclusion of the omitted Art. 147. The conjugal partnership shall be governed by the rules on the contract of
necessary party if jurisdiction over his person may be obtained. partnership in all that is not in conflict with what is expressly determined in this
The failure to comply with the order for his inclusion, without justifiable cause, shall Chapter.
be deemed a waiver of the claim against such party. In this connection, Article 1811 of the Civil Code provides that "[a] partner is a co-
The non-inclusion of a necessary party does not prevent the court from proceeding in owner with the other partners of specific partnership property." Taken with the
the action, and the judgment rendered therein shall be without prejudice to the rights presumption of the conjugal nature of the funds used to finance the four checks used
of such necessary party. to pay for petitioners’ stock subscriptions, and with the presumption that the credits
Non-compliance with the order for the inclusion of a necessary party would not themselves are part of conjugal funds, Article 1811 makes Quirino and Milagros de
warrant the dismissal of the complaint. This is an exception to Section 3, Rule 17 Guzman co-owners of the alleged credit.
which allows the dismissal of the complaint for failure to comply with an order of Being co-owners of the alleged credit, Quirino and Milagros de Guzman may
the court, as Section 9, Rule 3 specifically provides for the effect of such non- separately bring an action for the recovery thereof. In the fairly recent cases
inclusion: it shall not prevent the court from proceeding in the action, and the of Baloloy v. Hular28 and Adlawan v. Adlawan,29 we held that, in a co-ownership, co-
judgment rendered therein shall be without prejudice to the rights of such necessary owners may bring actions for the recovery of co-owned property without the
party. Section 11, Rule 3 likewise provides that the non-joinder of parties is not a necessity of joining all the other co-owners as co-plaintiffs because the suit is
ground for the dismissal of the action. presumed to have been filed for the benefit of his co-owners. In the latter case and in
Other than the indispensable and necessary parties, there is a third set of parties: the that of De Guia v. Court of Appeals,30 we also held that Article 487 of the Civil
pro-forma parties, which are those who are required to be joined as co-parties in suits Code, which provides that any of the co-owners may bring an action for ejectment,
by or against another party as may be provided by the applicable substantive law or covers all kinds of action for the recovery of possession. 31
procedural rule.25 An example is provided by Section 4, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court: In sum, in suits to recover properties, all co-owners are real parties in interest.
Sec. 4. Spouses as parties. – Husband and wife shall sue or be sued jointly, except as However, pursuant to Article 487 of the Civil Code and relevant jurisprudence, any
provided by law. one of them may bring an action, any kind of action, for the recovery of co-owned
Pro-forma parties can either be indispensable, necessary or neither indispensable nor properties. Therefore, only one of the co-owners, namely the co-owner who filed the
necessary. The third case occurs if, for example, a husband files an action to recover suit for the recovery of the co-owned property, is an indispensable party thereto. The
a property which he claims to be part of his exclusive property. The wife may have other co-owners are not indispensable parties. They are not even necessary parties,
no legal interest in such property, but the rules nevertheless require that she be joined for a complete relief can be accorded in the suit even without their participation,
as a party. since the suit is presumed to have been filed for the benefit of all co-owners.32
In cases of pro-forma parties who are neither indispensable nor necessary, the We therefore hold that Milagros de Guzman is not an indispensable party in the
general rule under Section 11, Rule 3 must be followed: such non-joinder is not a action for the recovery of the allegedly loaned money to the spouses Carandang. As
ground for dismissal. Hence, in a case concerning an action to recover a sum of such, she need not have been impleaded in said suit, and dismissal of the suit is not
money, we held that the failure to join the spouse in that case was not a jurisdictional warranted by her not being a party thereto.
defect.26The non-joinder of a spouse does not warrant dismissal as it is merely a Whether or not respondents were able to prove the loan sought to be collected from
formal requirement which may be cured by amendment. 27 petitioners
Conversely, in the instances that the pro-forma parties are also indispensable or In the second and third issues presented by the spouses Carandang, they claim that
necessary parties, the rules concerning indispensable or necessary parties, as the case the de Guzmans failed to prove the alleged loan for which the spouses Carandang
may be, should be applied. Thus, dismissal is warranted only if the pro-forma party were held liable. As previously stated, spouses Quirino and Milagros de Guzman
not joined in the complaint is an indispensable party. paid for the stock subscriptions of the spouses Carandang, amounting
Milagros de Guzman, being presumed to be a co-owner of the credits allegedly to P336,375.00. The de Guzmans claim that these payments were in the form of
extended to the spouses Carandang, seems to be either an indispensable or a loans and/or advances and it was agreed upon between the late Quirino de Guzman,
necessary party. If she is an indispensable party, dismissal would be proper. If she is Sr. and the spouses Carandang that the latter would repay him. Petitioners, on the
other hand, argue that there was an oral pre-incorporation agreement wherein it was Articles 1236 and 1237 are clear that, even in cases where the debtor has no
agreed that Arcardio Carandang would always maintain his 46% equity participation knowledge of payment by a third person, and even in cases where the third person
in the corporation even if the capital structures were increased, and that Quirino de paid against the will of the debtor, such payment would produce a debt in favor of
Guzman would personally pay the equity shares/stock subscriptions of Arcardio the paying third person. In fact, the only consequences for the failure to inform or get
Carandang with no cost to the latter. the consent of the debtor are the following: (1) the third person can recover only
On this main issue, the Court of Appeals held: insofar as the payment has been beneficial to the debtor; and (2) the third person is
[The spouses Carandang] aver in its ninth assigned error that [the de Guzmans] failed not subrogated to the rights of the creditor, such as those arising from a mortgage,
to prove by preponderance of evidence, either the existence of the purported loan or guarantee or penalty.35
the non-payment thereof. We say, however, that this is merely a presumption. By virtue of the parties’ freedom
Simply put, preponderance of evidence means that the evidence as a whole adduced to contract, the parties could stipulate otherwise and thus, as suggested by the
by one side is superior to that of the other. The concept of preponderance of evidence spouses Carandang, there is indeed a possibility that such payment by Mr. "A" was
refers to evidence that is of greater weight, or more convincing, than that which is purely out of generosity or that there was a mutual agreement between them. But
offered in opposition to it; it means probability of truth. such mutual agreement, being an exception to presumed course of events as laid
[The spouses Carandang] admitted that it was indeed [the de Guzmans] who paid down by Articles 1236 and 1237, must be adequately proven.
their stock subscriptions and their reason for not reimbursing the latter is the alleged The de Guzmans have successfully proven their payment of the spouses Carandang’s
pre-incorporation agreement, to which they offer no clear proof as to its existence. stock subscriptions. These payments were, in fact, admitted by the spouses
It is a basic rule in evidence that each party must prove his affirmative allegation. Carandang. Consequently, it is now up to the spouses Carandang to prove the
Thus, the plaintiff or complainant has to prove his affirmative allegations in the existence of the pre-incorporation agreement that was their defense to the purported
complaints and the defendant or respondent has to prove the affirmative allegations loan.
in his affirmative defenses and counterclaims.33 Unfortunately for the spouses Carandang, the only testimony which touched on the
The spouses Carandang, however, insist that the de Guzmans have not proven the existence and substance of the pre-incorporation agreement, that of petitioner
loan itself, having presented evidence only of the payment in favor of the Arcardio Carandang, was stricken off the record because he did not submit himself
Carandangs. They claim: to a cross-examination of the opposing party. On the other hand, the testimonies of
It is an undeniable fact that payment is not equivalent to a loan. For instance, if Mr. Romeo Saavedra,36 Roberto S. Carandang,37 Gertrudes Z. Esteban,38 Ceferino
"A" decides to pay for Mr. "B’s" obligation, that payment by Mr. "A" cannot, by any Basilio,39 and Ma. Luisa Carandang40touched on matters other than the existence and
stretch of imagination, possibly mean that there is now a loan by Mr. "B" to Mr. "A". substance of the pre-incorporation agreement. So aside from the fact that these
There is a possibility that such payment by Mr. "A" is purely out of generosity or witnesses had no personal knowledge as to the alleged existence of the pre-
that there is a mutual agreement between them. As applied to the instant case, that incorporation agreement, the testimonies of these witnesses did not even mention the
mutual agreement is the pre-incorporation agreement (supra) existing between Mr. existence of a pre-incorporation agreement.
de Guzman and the petitioners --- to the effect that the former shall be responsible Worse, the testimonies of petitioners Arcadio Carandang and Ma. Luisa Carandang
for paying stock subscriptions of the latter. Thus, when Mr. de Guzman paid for the even contradicted the existence of a pre-incorporation agreement because when they
stock subscriptions of the petitioners, there was no loan to speak of, but only a were asked by their counsel regarding the matter of the check payments made by the
compliance with the pre-incorporation agreement.34 late Quirino A. de Guzman, Sr. in their behalf, they said that they had already paid
The spouses Carandang are mistaken. If indeed a Mr. "A" decides to pay for a Mr. for it thereby negating their own defense that there was a pre-incorporation
"B’s" obligation, the presumption is that Mr. "B" is indebted to Mr. "A" for such agreement excusing themselves from paying Mr. de Guzman the amounts he
amount that has been paid. This is pursuant to Articles 1236 and 1237 of the Civil advanced or loaned to them. This basic and irrefutable fact can be gleaned from their
Code, which provide: testimonies which the private respondents are quoting for easy reference:
Art. 1236. The creditor is not bound to accept payment or performance by a third a. With respect to the testimony of Ma. Luisa Carandang
person who has no interest in the fulfillment of the obligation, unless there is a Q: Now, can you tell this Honorable Court how do you feel with respect to the
stipulation to the contrary. Complaint of the plaintiff in this case charging you that you paid for this year and
Whoever pays for another may demand from the debtor what he has paid, except asking enough to paid (sic) your tax?
that if he paid without the knowledge or against the will of the debtor, he can recover A: We have paid already, so, we are not liable for anything payment (sic). 41
only insofar as the payment has been beneficial to the debtor. b. With respect to the testimony of Arcadio Carandang
Art. 1237. Whoever pays on behalf of the debtor without the knowledge or against "Q: How much?
the will of the latter, cannot compel the creditor to subrogate him in his rights, such A: P40,000.00 to P50,000.00 per month.
as those arising from a mortgage, guarantee, or penalty.
Q: The plaintiff also claimed thru witness Edgar Ragasa, that there were receipts Mabuhay Broadcasting Systems, Inc. Plaintiff specifically denies the other
issued for the payment of your shares; which receipts were marked as Exhibits "G" allegations in paragraph 13 of the Answer, the same being devoid of any legal or
to "L" (Plaintiff). factual bases. The truth of the matter is that defendant Arcadio M. Carandang was
I’m showing to you these receipts so marked by the plaintiff as their exhibits which not able to pay plaintiff the agreed amount of the lease for a number of months
were issued in the name of Ma. Luisa Carandang, your wife; and also, Arcadio M. forcing the plaintiff to terminate lease. Additionally, the records would show that it
Carandang. Will you please go over this Official Receipt and state for the records, was the defendant Arcadio M. Carandang who proposed a joint venture with the
who made for the payment stated in these receipts in your name? plaintiff.
A: I paid for those shares."42 It appears that plaintiff agreed to the formation of the corporation principally because
There being no testimony or documentary evidence proving the existence of the pre- of a directive of then President Marcos indicating the need to broaden the ownership
incorporation agreement, the spouses Carandang are forced to rely upon an alleged of radio broadcasting stations. The plaintiff owned the franchise, the radio
admission by the original plaintiff of the existence of the pre-incorporation transmitter, the antenna tower, the building containing the radio transmitter and other
agreement. equipment. Verily, he would be placed in a great disadvantage if he would still have
Petitioners claim that the late Quirino A. de Guzman, Sr. had admitted the existence to personally pay for the shares of defendant Arcadio M. Carandang.
of the pre-incorporation agreement by virtue of paragraphs 13 and 14 of their 4. Plaintiff admits the allegations in paragraph 14 of the Answer. 44
Answer and paragraph 4 of private respondents’ Reply. In effect, the spouses Carandang are relying on the fact that Quirino de Guzman
Paragraphs 13 and 14 of petitioners’ Answer dated 7 July 1992 state in full: stated that he admitted paragraph 14 of the Answer, which incidentally contained the
13. Sometime in November, 1973 or thereabout, herein plaintiff invited defendant opening clause "(h)aving mutually agreed on the above arrangements, x x x."
Arcadio M. Carandang to a joint venture by pooling together their technical Admissions, however, should be clear and unambiguous. This purported admission
expertise, equipments, financial resources and franchise. Plaintiff proposed to by Quirino de Guzman reeks of ambiguity, as the clause "(h)aving mutually agreed
defendant and mutually agreed on the following: on the above arrangements," seems to be a mere introduction to the statement that
1. That they would organize a corporation known as Mabuhay Broadcasting the single proprietorship of Quirino de Guzman had been converted into a
Systems, Inc. corporation. If Quirino de Guzman had meant to admit paragraph 13.3, he could
2. Considering the technical expertise and talent of defendant Arcadio M. Carandang have easily said so, as he did the other paragraphs he categorically admitted. Instead,
and his new equipments he bought, and his skill in repairing and modifying Quirino de Guzman expressly stated the opposite: that "(p)laintiff specifically denies
radio/communication equipments into high proficiency, said defendant would have the other allegations of paragraph 13 of the Answer." 45 The Reply furthermore states
an equity participation in the corporation of 46%, and plaintiff 54% because of his that the only portion of paragraph 13 which Quirino de Guzman had admitted is
financial resources and franchise. paragraph 13.1, and only insofar as it said that Quirino de Guzman and Arcardio
3. That defendant would always maintain his 46% equity participation in the Carandang organized Mabuhay Broadcasting Systems, Inc. 46
corporation even if the capital structures are increased, and that plaintiff would All the foregoing considered, we hold that Quirino de Guzman had not admitted the
personally pay the equity shares/stock subscriptions of defendant with no cost to the alleged pre-incorporation agreement. As there was no admission, and as the
latter. testimony of Arcardio Carandang was stricken off the record, we are constrained to
4. That because of defendant’s expertise in the trade including the marketing aspects, rule that there was no pre-incorporation agreement rendering Quirino de Guzman
he would be the President and General Manager, and plaintiff the Chairman of the liable for the spouses Carandang’s stock subscription. The payment by the spouses
Board. de Guzman of the stock subscriptions of the spouses Carandang are therefore by way
5. That considering their past and trustworthy relations, they would maintain such of loan which the spouses Carandang are liable to pay.1âwphi1
relations in the joint venture without any mental reservation for their common Whether or not the liability of the spouses Carandang is joint and solidary
benefit and success of the business. Finally, the Court of Appeals also upheld the RTC Decision insofar as it decreed a
14. Having mutually agreed on the above arrangements, the single proprietorship of solidary liability. According to the Court of Appeals:
plaintiff was immediately spun-off into a corporation now known as Mabuhay With regards (sic) the tenth assigned error, [the spouses Carandang] contend that:
Broadcasting System, Inc. The incorporators are plaintiff and his family "There is absolutely no evidence, testimonial or documentary, showing that the
members/nominees controlling jointly 54% of the stocks and defendant Arcadio M. purported obligation of [the spouses Carandang] is joint and solidary. x x x
Carandang controlling singly 46% as previously agreed.43 "Furthermore, the purported obligation of [the spouses Carandang] does not at all
Meanwhile, paragraphs 3 and 4 of private respondents’ Reply dated 29 July 1992 qualify as one of the obligations required by law to be solidary x x x."
state in full: It is apparent from the facts of the case that [the spouses Carandang] were married
3. Plaintiffs admits the allegation in paragraph 13.1 of the Answer only insofar the way before the effectivity of the Family Code hence; their property regime is
plaintiff and defendant Arcadio M. Carandang organized a corporation known as conjugal partnership under the Civil Code.
It must be noted that for marriages governed by the rules of conjugal partnership of Republic of the Philippines
gains, an obligation entered into by the husband and wife is chargeable against their SUPREME COURT
conjugal partnership and it is the partnership, which is primarily bound for its Manila
repayment. Thus, when the spouses are sued for the enforcement of the obligation SECOND DIVISION
entered into by them, they are being impleaded in their capacity as representatives of G.R. No. 187023 November 17, 2010
the conjugal partnership and not as independent debtors, such that the concept of EVANGELINE D. IMANI,* Petitioner,
joint and solidary liability, as between them, does not apply. 47 vs.
The Court of Appeals is correct insofar as it held that when the spouses are sued for METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST COMPANY, Respondent.
the enforcement of the obligation entered into by them, they are being impleaded in
their capacity as representatives of the conjugal partnership and not as independent DECISION
debtors. Hence, either of them may be sued for the whole amount, similar to that of a NACHURA, J.:
solidary liability, although the amount is chargeable against their conjugal On appeal is the July 3, 2008 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP
partnership property. Thus, in the case cited by the Court of Appeals, Alipio v. Court No. 93061, setting aside the November 22, 2005 Order 2 of the Regional Trial Court
of Appeals,48 the two sets of defendant-spouses therein were held liable (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 64, as well as its subsequent Resolution dated March
for P25,300.00 each, chargeable to their respective conjugal partnerships. 3, 2009,3 denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals, affirming the judgment On August 28, 1981, Evangeline D. Imani (petitioner) signed a Continuing
rendered against the spouses Carandang, is hereby AFFIRMED with the following Suretyship Agreement in favor of respondent Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company
MODIFICATION: The spouses Carandang are ORDERED to pay the following (Metrobank), with Cesar P. Dazo, Nieves Dazo, Benedicto C. Dazo, Cynthia C.
amounts from their conjugal partnership properties: Dazo, Doroteo Fundales, Jr., and Nicolas Ponce as her co-sureties. As sureties, they
(1) P336,375.00 representing the spouses Carandang’s loan to Quirino de Guzman; bound themselves to pay Metrobank whatever indebtedness C.P. Dazo Tannery, Inc.
and (CPDTI) incurs, but not exceeding Six Million Pesos (P6,000,000.00).
(2) Interest on the preceding amount at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum Later, CPDTI obtained loans of P100,000.00 and P63,825.45, respectively. The loans
from 5 June 1992 when the complaint was filed until the principal amount can be were evidenced by promissory notes signed by Cesar and Nieves Dazo. CPDTI
fully paid; and defaulted in the payment of its loans. Metrobank made several demands for payment
(3) P20,000.00 as attorney’s fees. upon CPDTI, but to no avail. This prompted Metrobank to file a collection suit
No costs. against CPDTI and its sureties, including herein petitioner. The case was docketed as
SO ORDERED. Civil Case No. 15717.
After due proceedings, the RTC rendered a decision4 in favor of Metrobank. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court renders a judgment in favor of
[Metrobank] ordering defendants, C.P. Dazo Tannery, Inc., Cesar P. Dazo, Nieves
Dazo, Benedicto C. Dazo, Evangelina D. Imani, Cynthia C. Dazo, Doroteo Fundales,
Jr., and Nicolas Ponce to pay [respondent] Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company:
1. Under the First Cause of Action, the sum of P175,451.48 plus the stipulated
interest, penalty charges and bank charges from March 1, 1984 and until the whole
amount is fully paid;
2. Under the Second Cause of Action, the sum of P92,158.85 plus the stipulated
interest, penalty charges and bank charges from February 24, 1985, and until the
whole amount is fully paid;
3. The sum equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the total amount due under the First
and Second Cause of Action; and
4. Ordering the defendants to pay the costs of suit and expenses of litigation.
SO ORDERED.5
Therein defendants appealed to the CA. On September 29, 1997, the CA issued a
Resolution dismissing the appeal.6 Consequently, on October 22, 1997, the CA
issued an Entry of Judgment.7
Metrobank then filed with the RTC a motion for execution, 8 which was granted on Metrobank filed a motion for reconsideration. Petitioner opposed the motion,
December 7, 1999.9 A writ of execution10 was issued against CPDTI and its co- asserting that the property belongs to the conjugal partnership.16 Attached to her
defendants. The sheriff levied on a property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title opposition were an Affidavit17executed by Crisanto Origen, the former owner of the
(TCT) No. T-27957 P(M) and registered in the name of petitioner. A public auction property, attesting that spouses Sina and Evangeline Imani were the vendees of the
was conducted and the property was awarded to Metrobank, as the highest bidder. subject property; and the photocopies of the checks 18 allegedly issued by Sina Imani
Metrobank undertook to consolidate the title covering the subject property in its as payment for the subject property.
name, and filed a Manifestation and Motion,11 praying that spouses Sina and However, despite petitioner’s opposition, the RTC issued an Order dated August 15,
Evangline Imani be directed to surrender the owner’s copy of TCT No. T-27957 2005, setting aside its June 20, 2005 Order. Thus:
P(M) for cancellation. Petitioner opposed the motion and filed her Comment with WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration is GRANTED.
Urgent Motion to Cancel and Nullify the Levy on Execution, the Auction Sale and The Order dated June 20, 2005 is set aside. Evangelina Dazo-Imani is hereby ordered
Certificate of Sale Over TCT No. T-27957 P(M).12She argued that the subject to surrender TCT No. T-27957 P(M) to the Register of Deeds of Meycauayan,
property belongs to the conjugal partnership; as such, it cannot be held answerable Bulacan for cancellation.
for the liabilities incurred by CPDTI to Metrobank. Neither can it be subject of levy The effectivity of the Levy on Execution, the Auction Sale and the Certificate of Sale
on execution or public auction. Hence, petitioner prayed for the nullification of the with respect to the real property covered by TCT No. T-27957 P(M) is reinstated.
levy on execution and the auction sale, as well as the certificate of sale in favor of SO ORDERED.19
Metrobank. But on petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, the RTC issued an Order dated
On June 20, 2005, the RTC issued an Order 13 denying Metrobank’s motion, November 22, 2005,20 reinstating its June 20, 2005 Order. In so ruling, the RTC
explaining that: relied on the affidavit of Crisanto Origen, and declared the property levied upon as
[Petitioner] Evangelina D. Imani incurred the obligation to [Metrobank] by the mere conjugal, which cannot be held answerable for petitioner’s personal liability.
fact that she executed the Continuing Suretyship Agreement in favor of [Metrobank]. Metrobank assailed the November 22, 2005 Order via a petition for certiorari in the
The loan proceeds were not intended for [petitioner] Evangelina D. Imani. It cannot CA, ascribing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC for annulling the levy
therefore be presumed that the loan proceeds had redounded to the benefit of her on execution and the auction sale, and for canceling the certificate of sale.
family. It is also worth stressing that the records of this case is bereft of any showing On July 3, 2008, the CA rendered the now challenged Decision reversing the RTC,
that at the time of the signing of the Suretyship Agreement and even at the time of the dispositive portion of which reads:
execution and sale at public auction of the subject property, [petitioner] Evangelina WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. ACCORDINGLY, the
D. Imani has the authority to dispose of or encumber their conjugal partnership Order dated November 22, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch
properties. Neither was she conferred the power of administration over the said 64, is hereby REVERSED and new one is entered declaring the Levy on Execution,
properties. Hence, when she executed the Suretyship Agreement, she had placed the Sale by Public Auction of the property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title T-
Conjugal Partnership in danger of being dissipated. The law could have not allowed 27957 [P](M) and the Certificate of Sale over said property as valid and legal.
this in keeping with the mandate of protecting and safeguarding the conjugal SO ORDERED.21
partnership. This is also the reason why the husband or the wife cannot dispose of Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the CA denied it on March 3,
the conjugal partnership properties even onerously, if without the consent of the 2009.22
other, or gratuitously, as by way of donation.14 Hence, this recourse by petitioner, arguing that:
The RTC decreed that: I
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, [Metrobank’s] motion for issuance of an THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRS (sic) IN REVERSING THE
Order directing Spouses Sina Imani and Evangeline Dazo-Imani to surrender the FINDING OF FACT OF THE TRIAL COURT THAT THE PROPERTY IS
owner’s copy of TCT No. T-27957 P(M) to the Register of Deeds of Meycauayan, CONJUGAL IN NATURE BASED ON MERE SPECULATIONS AND
Bulacan for cancellation, is DENIED. CONJECTURES.23
On the other hand, [petitioner’s] Motion to Cancel and Nullify the Levy on II
Execution, the Auction Sale and Certificate of Sale with respect to the real property THE UNSUPPORTED TEMPORARY RULING THAT THE PROPERTY IS NOT
covered by TCT No. T-27957 P(M) is GRANTED. CONJUGAL AND THE SUGGESTION TO VINDICATE THE RIGHTS OF SINA
The Levy on Execution and the Sale by Public Auction of the property covered by IMANI AND THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP IN A SEPARATE ACTION
TCT No. T-27957 P(M) are nullified and the Certificate of Sale over the same UNDER SEC. 16, RULE 39 ENCOURAGE MULTIPLICITY OF SUITS AND
property is hereby Cancelled. VIOLATE THE POLICY OF THE RULES FOR EXPEDIENT AND
SO ORDERED.15 INEXPENSIVE DISPOSITION OF ACTIONS.
III
THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION, B[EI]NG A ROAD RIGHT OF WAY, IS NOT When the sheriff thus seizes property of a third person in which the judgment debtor
SUBJECT TO EXECUTION UNDER SEC. 50, 2 ND PARAGRAPH, OF PD [NO.] holds no right or interest, and so incurs in error, the supervisory power of the Court
1529.24 which has authorized execution may be invoked by the third person. Upon due
First, the procedural issue on the propriety of the course of action taken by petitioner application by the third person, and after summary hearing, the Court may command
in the RTC in vindication of her claim over the subject property. that the property be released from the mistaken levy and restored to the rightful
Petitioner takes exception to the CA ruling that she committed a procedural gaffe in owner or possessor. What the Court can do in these instances however is limited to a
seeking the annulment of the writ of execution, the auction sale, and the certificate of determination of whether the sheriff has acted rightly or wrongly in the performance
sale. The issue on the conjugal nature of the property, she insists, can be adjudicated of his duties in the execution of the judgment, more specifically, if he has indeed
by the executing court; thus, the RTC correctly gave due course to her motion. She taken hold of property not belonging to the judgment debtor. The Court does not and
asserts that it was error for the CA to propose the filing of a separate case to cannot pass upon the question of title to the property, with any character of finality.
vindicate her claim. It can treat the matter only in so far as may be necessary to decide if the Sheriff has
We agree with petitioner. acted correctly or not. x x x.
The CA explained the faux pas committed by petitioner in this wise: xxxx
Under [Section 16, Rule 39], a third-party claimant or a stranger to the foreclosure Upon the other hand, if the claim of impropriety on the part of the sheriff in the
suit, can opt to file a remedy known as terceria against the sheriff or officer effecting execution proceedings is made by a party to the action, not a stranger thereto, any
the writ by serving on him an affidavit of his title and a copy thereof upon the relief therefrom may only be applied with, and obtained from, only the executing
judgment creditor. By the terceria, the officer shall not be bound to keep the property court; and this is true even if a new party has been impleaded in the suit.27
and could be answerable for damages. A third-party claimant may also resort to an The filing of the motion by petitioner to annul the execution, the auction sale, and the
independent "separate action," the object of which is the recovery of ownership or certificate of sale was, therefore, a proper remedy. As further held by this Court:
possession of the property seized by the sheriff, as well as damages arising from Certain it is that the Trial Court has plenary jurisdiction over the proceedings for the
wrongful seizure and detention of the property despite the third-party claim. If a enforcement of its judgments. It has undeniable competence to act on motions for
"separate action" is the recourse, the third-party claimant must institute in a forum of execution (whether execution be a matter of right or discretionary upon the Court),
competent jurisdiction an action, distinct and separate from the action in which the issue and quash writs, determine if property is exempt from execution, or fix the
judgment is being enforced, even before or without need of filing a claim in the court value of property claimed by third persons so that a bond equal to such value may be
that issued the writ. Both remedies are cumulative and may be availed of posted by a judgment creditor to indemnify the sheriff against liability for damages,
independently of or separately from the other. Availment of the terceria is not a resolve questions involving redemption, examine the judgment debtor and his
condition sine qua non to the institution of a "separate action." debtors, and otherwise perform such other acts as may be necessary or incidental to
It is worthy of note that Sina Imani should have availed of the remedy of "terceria" the carrying out of its decisions. It may and should exercise control and supervision
authorized under Section 16 of Rule 39 which is the proper remedy considering that over the sheriff and other court officers and employees taking part in the execution
he is not a party to the case against [petitioner]. Instead, the trial court allowed proceedings, and correct them in the event that they should err in the discharge of
[petitioner] to file an urgent motion to cancel and nullify the levy of execution the their functions.28
auction sale and certificate of sale over TCT No. T27957 [P](M). [Petitioner] then Contrary to the CA’s advice, the remedy of terceria or a separate action under
argue[s] that it is the ministerial duty of the levying officer to release the property the Section 16, Rule 39 is no longer available to Sina Imani because he is not deemed a
moment a third-party claim is filed. stranger to the case filed against petitioner:
It is true that once a third-party files an affidavit of his title or right to the possession [T]he husband of the judgment debtor cannot be deemed a "stranger" to the case
of the property levied upon, the sheriff is bound to release the property of the third- prosecuted and adjudged against his wife.29
party claimant unless the judgment creditor files a bond approved by the court. Thus, it would have been inappropriate for him to institute a separate case for
Admittedly, [petitioner’s] motion was already pending in court at the time that they annulment of writ of execution.
filed the Affidavit of Crisanto Origen, the former owner, dated July 27, 2005. In Spouses Ching v. Court of Appeals,30 we explained:
In the instant case, the one who availed of the remedy of terceria is the [petitioner], Is a spouse, who was not a party to the suit but whose conjugal property is being
the party to the main case and not the third party contemplated by Section 16, Rule executed on account of the other spouse being the judgment obligor, considered a
39 of the Rules of Court. "stranger?" In Mariano v. Court of Appeals, we answered this question in the
Moreover, the one who made the affidavit is not the third-party referred to in said negative. In that case, the CFI of Caloocan City declared the wife to be the judgment
Rule but Crisanto Origen who was the former owner of the land in question. 25 obligor and, consequently, a writ of execution was issued against her. Thereupon, the
Apparently, the CA lost sight of our ruling in Ong v. Tating, 26 elucidating on the sheriff proceeded to levy upon the conjugal properties of the wife and her husband.
applicability of Section 16 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, thus: The wife initially filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals praying for
the annulment of the writ of execution. However, the petition was adjudged to be asserts this presumption must first prove said time element. Needless to say, the
without merit and was accordingly dismissed. The husband then filed a complaint presumption refers only to the property acquired during the marriage and does not
with the CFI of Quezon City for the annulment of the writ of execution, alleging operate when there is no showing as to when property alleged to be conjugal was
therein that the conjugal properties cannot be made to answer for obligations acquired.34
exclusively contracted by the wife. The executing party moved to dismiss the To support her assertion that the property belongs to the conjugal partnership,
annulment case, but the motion was denied. On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in petitioner submitted the Affidavit35of Crisanto Origen, attesting that petitioner and
Mariano, ruled that the CFI of Quezon City, in continuing to hear the annulment her husband were the vendees of the subject property, and the photocopies of the
case, had not interfered with the executing court. We reversed the Court of Appeals' checks36 allegedly issued by Sina Imani as payment for the subject property.
ruling and held that there was interference by the CFI of Quezon City with the Unfortunately for petitioner, the said Affidavit can hardly be considered sufficient
execution of the CFI of Caloocan City. We ruled that the husband of the judgment evidence to prove her claim that the property is conjugal. As correctly pointed out by
debtor cannot be deemed a "stranger" to the case prosecuted and adjudged against his Metrobank, the said Affidavit has no evidentiary weight because Crisanto Origen
wife, which would allow the filing of a separate and independent action. was not presented in the RTC to affirm the veracity of his Affidavit:
The facts of the Mariano case are similar to this case. Clearly, it was inappropriate The basic rule of evidence is that unless the affiants themselves are placed on the
for petitioners to institute a separate case for annulment when they could have easily witness stand to testify on their affidavits, such affidavits must be rejected for being
questioned the execution of their conjugal property in the collection case. We note in hearsay. Stated differently, the declarants of written statements pertaining to disputed
fact that the trial court in the Rizal annulment case specifically informed petitioners facts must be presented at the trial for cross-examination. 37
that Encarnacion Ching's rights could be ventilated in the Manila collection case by In the same vein, the photocopies of the checks cannot be given any probative value.
the mere expedient of intervening therein. Apparently, petitioners ignored the trial In Concepcion v. Atty. Fandiño, Jr.38 and Intestate Estate of the Late Don Mariano
court's advice, as Encarnacion Ching did not intervene therein and petitioners San Pedro y Esteban v. Court of Appeals,39 we held that a photocopy of a document
instituted another annulment case after their conjugal property was levied upon and has no probative value and is inadmissible in evidence. Thus, the CA was correct in
sold on execution. disregarding the said pieces of evidence.
There have been instances where we ruled that a spouse may file a separate case Similarly, the certificate of title could not support petitioner’s assertion. As aptly
against a wrongful execution. However, in those cases, we allowed the institution of ruled by the CA, the fact that the land was registered in the name of Evangelina
a separate and independent action because what were executed upon were the Dazo-Imani married to Sina Imani is no proof that the property was acquired during
paraphernal or exclusive property of a spouse who was not a party to the case. In the spouses’ coverture. Acquisition of title and registration thereof are two different
those instances, said spouse can truly be deemed a "stranger." In the present case, the acts. It is well settled that registration does not confer title but merely confirms one
levy and sale on execution was made upon the conjugal property. already existing.40
Ineluctably, the RTC cannot be considered whimsical for ruling on petitioner’s Indubitably, petitioner utterly failed to substantiate her claim that the property
motion. The CA, therefore, erred for declaring otherwise. belongs to the conjugal partnership. Thus, it cannot be rightfully said that the CA
Now, on the merits of the case. reversed the RTC ruling without valid basis.
Petitioner asserts that the subject property belongs to the conjugal partnership. As As a last ditch effort, petitioner asserts that the property is a road right of way; thus,
such, it cannot be made to answer for her obligation with Metrobank. She faults the it cannot be subject of a writ of execution.
CA for sustaining the writ of execution, the public auction, and the certificate of sale. The argument must be rejected because it was raised for the first time in this
We sustain the CA ruling on this point. petition.lawphil.net In the trial court and the CA, petitioner’s arguments zeroed in on
Indeed, all property of the marriage is presumed to be conjugal. However, for this the alleged conjugal nature of the property. It is well settled that issues raised for the
presumption to apply, the party who invokes it must first prove that the property was first time on appeal and not raised in the proceedings in the lower court are barred by
acquired during the marriage. Proof of acquisition during the coverture is a condition estoppel. Points of law, theories, issues, and arguments not brought to the attention
sine qua non to the operation of the presumption in favor of the conjugal of the trial court ought not to be considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be
partnership.31Thus, the time when the property was acquired is material.32 raised for the first time on appeal. To consider the alleged facts and arguments raised
Francisco v. CA33 is instructive, viz.: belatedly would amount to trampling on the basic principles of fair play, justice, and
Article 160 of the New Civil Code provides that "all property of the marriage is due process.41
presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision and the Resolution of the
exclusively to the husband or to the wife." However, the party who invokes this Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 93061 sustaining the validity of the writ of
presumption must first prove that the property in controversy was acquired during execution, the auction sale, and the certificate of sale are AFFIRMED.
the marriage. Proof of acquisition during the coverture is a condition sine qua non for SO ORDERED.
the operation of the presumption in favor of the conjugal partnership. The party who
Republic of the Philippines Estate Mortgage and Certificate of Sale, Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership,
SUPREME COURT Deed of Sale, Reconveyance with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and
SECOND DIVISION Damages against petitioner. In the latter’s Answer with Counterclaim, petitioner
G.R. No. 153802. March 11, 2005 prayed for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground that the property in question
HOMEOWNERS SAVINGS & LOAN BANK, Petitioner, was the exclusive property of the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr.
vs. After trial on the merits, the trial court rendered a Decision on October 18, 1997. The
MIGUELA C. DAILO, Respondents. dispositive portion thereof reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the plaintiff having proved by the preponderance of evidence the
DECISION allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds for the plaintiff and hereby orders:
TINGA, J.: ON THE FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION:
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of 1. The declaration of the following documents as null and void:
Court, assailing the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 59986 (a) The Deed of Real Estate Mortgage dated December 1, 1993 executed before
rendered on June 3, 2002, which affirmed with modification the October 18, Notary Public Romulo Urrea and his notarial register entered as Doc. No. 212; Page
1997 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 29, San Pablo City, Laguna in No. 44, Book No. XXI, Series of 1993.
Civil Case No. SP-4748 (97). (b) The Certificate of Sale executed by Notary Public Reynaldo Alcantara on April
The following factual antecedents are undisputed. 20, 1995.
Respondent Miguela C. Dailo and Marcelino Dailo, Jr. were married on August 8, (c) The Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership executed by the defendant
1967. During their marriage, the spouses purchased a house and lot situated at (c) The Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership executed by the defendant over the
Barangay San Francisco, San Pablo City from a certain Sandra Dalida. The subject residential lot located at Brgy. San Francisco, San Pablo City, covered by ARP No.
property was declared for tax assessment purposes under Assessment of Real 95-091-1236 entered as Doc. No. 406; Page No. 83, Book No. III, Series of 1996 of
Property No. 94-051-2802. The Deed of Absolute Sale, however, was executed only Notary Public Octavio M. Zayas.
in favor of the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. as vendee thereof to the exclusion of his (d) The assessment of real property No. 95-051-1236.
wife.3 2. The defendant is ordered to reconvey the property subject of this complaint to the
On December 1, 1993, Marcelino Dailo, Jr. executed a Special Power of Attorney plaintiff.
(SPA) in favor of one Lilibeth Gesmundo, authorizing the latter to obtain a loan from ON THE SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
petitioner Homeowners Savings and Loan Bank to be secured by the spouses Dailo’s 1. The defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P40,000.00 representing the value of
house and lot in San Pablo City. Pursuant to the SPA, Gesmundo obtained a loan in the car which was burned.
the amount of P300,000.00 from petitioner. As security therefor, Gesmundo ON BOTH CAUSES OF ACTION
executed on the same day a Real Estate Mortgage constituted on the subject property 1. The defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P25,000.00 as attorney’s fees;
in favor of petitioner. The abovementioned transactions, including the execution of 2. The defendant to pay plaintiff P25,000.00 as moral damages;
the SPA in favor of Gesmundo, took place without the knowledge and consent of 3. The defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P10,000.00 as exemplary damages;
respondent.4 4. To pay the cost of the suit.
Upon maturity, the loan remained outstanding. As a result, petitioner instituted The counterclaim is dismissed.
extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings on the mortgaged property. After the SO ORDERED.6
extrajudicial sale thereof, a Certificate of Sale was issued in favor of petitioner as the Upon elevation of the case to the Court of Appeals, the appellate court affirmed the
highest bidder. After the lapse of one year without the property being redeemed, trial court’s finding that the subject property was conjugal in nature, in the absence
petitioner, through its vice-president, consolidated the ownership thereof by of clear and convincing evidence to rebut the presumption that the subject property
executing on June 6, 1996 an Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership and a Deed of acquired during the marriage of spouses Dailo belongs to their conjugal
Absolute Sale.5 partnership.7The appellate court declared as void the mortgage on the subject
In the meantime, Marcelino Dailo, Jr. died on December 20, 1995. In one of her property because it was constituted without the knowledge and consent of
visits to the subject property, respondent learned that petitioner had already respondent, in accordance with Article 124 of the Family Code. Thus, it upheld the
employed a certain Roldan Brion to clean its premises and that her car, a Ford sedan, trial court’s order to reconvey the subject property to respondent.8 With respect to
was razed because Brion allowed a boy to play with fire within the premises. the damage to respondent’s car, the appellate court found petitioner to be liable
Claiming that she had no knowledge of the mortgage constituted on the subject therefor because it is responsible for the consequences of the acts or omissions of the
property, which was conjugal in nature, respondent instituted with the Regional Trial person it hired to accomplish the assigned task.9 All told, the appellate court affirmed
Court, Branch 29, San Pablo City, Civil Case No. SP-2222 (97) for Nullity of Real
the trial court’s Decision, but deleted the award for damages and attorney’s fees for conjugal partnership of gains already established before its effectivity unless vested
lack of basis.10 rights have already been acquired under the Civil Code or other laws. 16
Hence, this petition, raising the following issues for this Court’s consideration: The rules on co-ownership do not even apply to the property relations of respondent
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE MORTGAGE CONSTITUTED BY THE LATE and the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. even in a suppletory manner. The regime of
MARCELINO DAILO, JR. ON THE SUBJECT PROPERTY AS CO-OWNER conjugal partnership of gains is a special type of partnership, where the husband and
THEREOF IS VALID AS TO HIS UNDIVIDED SHARE. wife place in a common fund the proceeds, products, fruits and income from their
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP IS LIABLE FOR THE separate properties and those acquired by either or both spouses through their efforts
PAYMENT OF THE LOAN OBTAINED BY THE LATE MARCELINO DAILO, or by chance.17 Unlike the absolute community of property wherein the rules on co-
JR. THE SAME HAVING REDOUNDED TO THE BENEFIT OF THE FAMILY. 11 ownership apply in a suppletory manner,18 the conjugal partnership shall be governed
First, petitioner takes issue with the legal provision applicable to the factual milieu of by the rules on contract of partnership in all that is not in conflict with what is
this case. It contends that Article 124 of the Family Code should be construed in expressly determined in the chapter (on conjugal partnership of gains) or by the
relation to Article 493 of the Civil Code, which states: spouses in their marriage settlements.19 Thus, the property relations of respondent
ART. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits and her late husband shall be governed, foremost, by Chapter 4 on Conjugal
and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it, Partnership of Gains of the Family Code and, suppletorily, by the rules on
and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are partnership under the Civil Code. In case of conflict, the former prevails because the
involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the co- Civil Code provisions on partnership apply only when the Family Code is silent on
owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the division the matter.
upon the termination of the co-ownership. The basic and established fact is that during his lifetime, without the knowledge and
Article 124 of the Family Code provides in part: consent of his wife, Marcelino Dailo, Jr. constituted a real estate mortgage on the
ART. 124. The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal partnership property subject property, which formed part of their conjugal partnership. By express
shall belong to both spouses jointly. . . . provision of Article 124 of the Family Code, in the absence of (court) authority or
In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the written consent of the other spouse, any disposition or encumbrance of the conjugal
administration of the conjugal properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers property shall be void.
of administration. These powers do not include the powers of disposition or The aforequoted provision does not qualify with respect to the share of the spouse
encumbrance which must have the authority of the court or the written consent of the who makes the disposition or encumbrance in the same manner that the rule on co-
other spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent, the disposition or ownership under Article 493 of the Civil Code does. Where the law does not
encumbrance shall be void. . . . distinguish, courts should not distinguish.20 Thus, both the trial court and the
Petitioner argues that although Article 124 of the Family Code requires the consent appellate court are correct in declaring the nullity of the real estate mortgage on the
of the other spouse to the mortgage of conjugal properties, the framers of the law subject property for lack of respondent’s consent.
could not have intended to curtail the right of a spouse from exercising full Second, petitioner imposes the liability for the payment of the principal obligation
ownership over the portion of the conjugal property pertaining to him under the obtained by the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. on the conjugal partnership to the extent
concept of co-ownership.12 Thus, petitioner would have this Court uphold the that it redounded to the benefit of the family.21
validity of the mortgage to the extent of the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr.’s share in the Under Article 121 of the Family Code, "[T]he conjugal partnership shall be liable
conjugal partnership. for: . . . (3) Debts and obligations contracted by either spouse without the consent of
In Guiang v. Court of Appeals,13 it was held that the sale of a conjugal property the other to the extent that the family may have been benefited; . . . ." For the subject
requires the consent of both the husband and wife. 14 In applying Article 124 of the property to be held liable, the obligation contracted by the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr.
Family Code, this Court declared that the absence of the consent of one renders the must have redounded to the benefit of the conjugal partnership. There must be the
entire sale null and void, including the portion of the conjugal property pertaining to requisite showing then of some advantage which clearly accrued to the welfare of the
the husband who contracted the sale. The same principle in Guiang squarely applies spouses. Certainly, to make a conjugal partnership respond for a liability that should
to the instant case. As shall be discussed next, there is no legal basis to construe appertain to the husband alone is to defeat and frustrate the avowed objective of the
Article 493 of the Civil Code as an exception to Article 124 of the Family Code. new Civil Code to show the utmost concern for the solidarity and well-being of the
Respondent and the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. were married on August 8, 1967. In the family as a unit.22
absence of a marriage settlement, the system of relative community or conjugal The burden of proof that the debt was contracted for the benefit of the conjugal
partnership of gains governed the property relations between respondent and her late partnership of gains lies with the creditor-party litigant claiming as such.23 Ei
husband.15 With the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988, Chapter 4 incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (he who asserts, not he who denies, must
on Conjugal Partnership of Gains in the Family Code was made applicable to prove).24 Petitioner’s sweeping conclusion that the loan obtained by the late
Marcelino Dailo, Jr. to finance the construction of housing units without a doubt Republic of the Philippines
redounded to the benefit of his family, without adducing adequate proof, does not SUPREME COURT
persuade this Court. Other than petitioner’s bare allegation, there is nothing from the Manila
records of the case to compel a finding that, indeed, the loan obtained by the late FIRST DIVISION
Marcelino Dailo, Jr. redounded to the benefit of the family. Consequently, the G.R. No. 149801 June 26, 2008
conjugal partnership cannot be held liable for the payment of the principal SPOUSES RENATO and FLORINDA DELA CRUZ, petitioners,
obligation. vs.
In addition, a perusal of the records of the case reveals that during the trial, petitioner SPOUSES GIL and LEONILA SEGOVIA, respondents.
vigorously asserted that the subject property was the exclusive property of the late
Marcelino Dailo, Jr. Nowhere in the answer filed with the trial court was it alleged DECISION
that the proceeds of the loan redounded to the benefit of the family. Even on appeal, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
petitioner never claimed that the family benefited from the proceeds of the loan. Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
When a party adopts a certain theory in the court below, he will not be permitted to Court assailing the April 17, 2001 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-
change his theory on appeal, for to permit him to do so would not only be unfair to G.R. CV No. 64487, as reiterated in its Resolution2 of September 4, 2001, affirming
the other party but it would also be offensive to the basic rules of fair play, justice the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 44 in its Civil
and due process.25 A party may change his legal theory on appeal only when the Case No. 96-77509, an action for Nullity of Contract/Agreement with Damages
factual bases thereof would not require presentation of any further evidence by the thereat commenced by spouses Renato and Florinda dela Cruz (petitioners) against
adverse party in order to enable it to properly meet the issue raised in the new respondent spouses Gil and Leonila Segovia.
theory.26 The facts, as culled from the records, are as follows.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner. Sometime in July 1985, petitioner Florinda dela Cruz (Florinda) wanted to purchase
SO ORDERED. two (2) parcels of land located at Paltok Street, Sta. Mesa, Manila, Lot 503 with an
apartment unit erected thereon and Lot 505 with a residential house. The two lots
were being sold together for P180,000.00. Inasmuch as Florinda had
onlyP144,000.00 at hand, she asked her sister, respondent Leonila Segovia (Leonila),
to contribute P36,000.00 to complete the purchase price. The sisters agreed that Lot
503 and the apartment unit thereat would belong to Leonila upon full payment of its
purchase price of P80,000.00, while Lot 505 with a residential house would belong
to Florinda. The properties were then registered in the name of petitioner Renato dela
Cruz married to Florinda. The parties, however, verbally agreed that Leonila and her
family would stay at Lot 505 until she had fully paid for Lot 503.
Desiring to reduce the verbal agreement into writing, the parties executed and signed
a handwritten covenant entitled Note of Agreement3 dated April 28, 1990, which
read:
Ano mang oras o panahon maaring ilipat kay Mo/Gil Segovia [respondent] ang pag-
aari ng sasakyan at bahay kung mababayaran nila ang P18,000 at P34,000 na balance
sa Apt. na walang ano mang condition, interest at ano mang hangad hanggang year
1999.
Ang halagang P18,000 ay may interest na 2% hanggang sa ito ay mabayaran kay
Flor dela Cruz [petitioner]. Ang halagang P34,000 ay walang interest at ito ay
babayaran up to 1999. Ang upa sa apt. ay cocolectahin ni Flor kapalit sa residential
house.
Ang ano mang mga gastos sa papeles ay sasagutin ni Mo/Gil Segovia [respondent]
kung ililipat sa pangalan niya ang sasakyan na Pinoy Fierra-Van NEX 741. Ang
pagbili sa lupa at bahay 503 Paltok ay ganoon din. (underscoring supplied)
Sometime in 1991, Linda Duval, a sister of Florinda and Leonila, arrived from the
United States to attend their mother’s funeral. Linda noticed the strained relations
between her two siblings. When she inquired about the status of her sisters’ balance commenced from September 1991 and not from July 1985 which was her
agreement regarding Lot 503, Leonila informed Linda that the agreement was yet to true intention.
be reduced into a formal contract. Linda offered to prepare a contract between On May 5, 1999, the RTC rendered a decision dismissing the complaint for Nullity
Florinda and Leonila who acceded to the offer. Thus, on September 9, 1991, Florinda of Contract/Agreement with Damages and declaring the subject Agreement valid and
and Leonila signed an Agreement4 embodying the detailed scheme of payment for subsisting. The decision’s dispositive portion reads:
the lot covered by the sisters’ agreement, to wit: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations and a thorough examination
We, Gil and Leonila Segovia, husband and wife, of legal age, residing at 505 A. of the evidence, and the pleadings together with the supporting documents, this
Paltok Street, Sta. Mesa, Manila, jointly agrees to pay Florinda dela Cruz the sum Court finds the Agreement valid and subsisting – thus, the complaint filed by
of P34,000.00 pesos Philippine currency in the following terms and conditions: plaintiffs on March 8, 1996 is hereby ordered dismissed for lack of merit.
1. All previous contract or agreement is superseded by this existing contract. The defendants are hereby ordered to pay the amount of P26,000.00 which is the
2. Payment of the said amount will be payable in installment basis; in a monthly remaining balance to complete the purchase price of the 503 Paltok Street, Sta.
fashion respectively with no specific amount of payment within the period of ten Mesa, Manila property to the plaintiffs afterwhich the latter and all the persons
(10) years; effectively after the contract is signed by both parties. P314.81 per month claiming under them, to surrender the ownership of 503 Paltok Street, Sta. Mesa,
or P 3,1777.77 (sic) per year. And by the year 1999 will be P34,000.00. Manila, vacate and to surrender possession thereof.
3. The borrowers (Sps. Segovia) agree to put their real property located at 505 B The plaintiffs are hereby ordered to pay defendants attorney’s fees in the amount
Paltok St., Sta. Mesa, Mla., with TCT # 177862- Registry of deeds (public of P50,000.00, and to pay the costs.
document) as guarantees for the above loan, which has a monthly rent of P1,200.00 The counterclaim is denied.
and will be collected by the Lender (Florinda) as part of the agreement of the loan. SO ORDERED.6
4. As part of the agreement, the borrowers will live in the Lender's house, located at In arriving at its decision, the RTC explained:
505 Paltok St. in exchange for her property rents. Granting arguendo, that Florinda dela Cruz’s allegation that she has not read the
5. The lender also agrees that the borrowers manage the collection of rents around Agreement is true, signing a contract without fully knowing the stipulations does not
the house and endorse said rents to the owner who is the Lender. Lender gives her vitiate consent. Prudence dictates that Florinda dela Cruz who presented the
full consent to the borrowers to sub-rent whatever rooms she chooses inside her agreement for signature should acquaint herself first with the "fine prints" of a
premises. contract before stamping her approval thereto. As it is, the fact remains that Florinda
6. If payment was not made after ten (10) years, the Lender will take ownership of dela Cruz signed the agreement voluntarily on September 9, 1991 binding
the property described above. themselves that the balance of P34,000.00 be paid in installments within ten (10)
7. If payment is made on or before the due date of the agreement, the Lender shall years upon signing the agreement or until 1999. Indeed, the evidence will show that
immediately take care of all the necessary action with regards to impediment, Florinda dela Cruz voluntarily entered into the Agreement and participated in the
attachment, encumbrances to the property. preparation thereof and after it has been prepared, the same was read to and by the
xxx parties themselves including Florinda dela Cruz and later voluntarily affixed her
After the Note of Agreement of April 28, 1990 and Agreement of September 9, signature. Renato dela Cruz was also present at the time of the signing of the
1991, Leonila continued paying the balance she owed Florinda. Particularly, she paid Agreement and presented a copy thereof.
the amount of P10,000.00 in September 1990 and P7,555.44 on May 16, 1995. A further reading of the complaint in paragraph 7 thereof, it is clear from the
Finally, in October 1995, Leonila attempted to pay the remaining balance allegations that the Agreement is a valid existing contract only it did not express the
of P26,444.56 in full satisfaction of her obligation but Florinda refused to accept the intention of the parties, which may be a ground for reformation of contract only
same on the ground that, the ten-year period for the payment of the balance, under Article 1359 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which provides that "when,
reckoned from July 1985, the alleged date of the verbal agreement between them, there having been a meeting of the minds of the parties to a contract, their true
had already expired. Thereafter Florinda demanded that Leonila and her family intention is not expressed in the instrument purporting to embody the agreement, by
vacate the house at 505 Paltok Street, which prompted respondents to consign reason of mistake, fraud, inequitable conduct or accident, one of the parties may ask
the P26,444.56 in court.5 for the reformation of the instrument to the end that such true intention may be
On March 8, 1996, petitioners filed with the RTC of Manila, Branch 44, a complaint expressed."
for Nullity of Contract/Agreement with Damages on the ground that the Agreement xxx
executed on September 9, 1991 did not contain the true intention of the parties Thus, the four year period to file the action for annulment, assuming there were
because Florinda’s consent thereto was vitiated by mistake. Allegedly, Florinda did indeed mistakes therein which vitiated plaintiffs’ [petitioners] consent commenced to
not know that the agreement provided that the ten-year period for payment of the run on September 9, 1991. The action had already prescribed or lapsed and plaintiffs
[petitioners] could no longer ask for the annulment of the agreement.
As to the contention that the subject agreement had no force and effect on account of The CA affirmed the findings of the RTC in its decision, 9 promulgated on April 17,
the absence of the signature of Florinda’s husband, petitioner Renato dela Cruz 2001. In so ruling, the CA also declared that, while the expiry date of the payment
(Renato), the RTC ruled to the contrary, thus: period was an important stipulation, it could not be considered as the substance of
Indeed, Renato dela Cruz did not sign the Agreement, however, he was present at the the contract nor the primary motivation for which the parties entered into the
time the Agreement was signed by the parties and their witnesses, and the same was agreement. The substance of the Agreement was the sale of the property at 503
presented to him for his signature. In fact, attempts were even made to procure his Paltok Street. The "mistake" that petitioners point to pertains to their interpretation of
signature, but plaintiff wife Florinda dela Cruz insisted that her signature already the contract, which is not a ground to annul the same. The CA found that the
carries that of her husband Renato dela Cruz. The parties never insisted that Renato stipulations of the written agreement, signed on September 9, 1991, clearly intended
dela Cruz sign the Agreement as the wife has spoken. It is further observed that by to give the respondents ten (10) years from 1991 within which to effect payment of
his actuations Renato dela Cruz has agreed and has given his conformity to the the balance of the consideration for the sale of the 503 property. In view of the
agreement. He also did not object to the execution of the same at the time it was explicit terms of the said written agreement, the verbal agreement of July 1985 was
signed by his wife Florinda dela Cruz on September 9, 1991, even he was present already of no moment.
and he was shown and furnished a copy of the said agreement. The motion for reconsideration of petitioners was denied by the CA in the resolution
xxx dated September 4, 2001.
It must be pointed out that plaintiff Florinda dela Cruz always consult her husband, Aggrieved by the foregoing CA decision, petitioners elevated the case to this Court
Renato dela Cruz on all matters respecting their transactions (pp. 42-43, tsn, Sept. raising the following assignment of errors:
13, 1996; p. 25, tsn, Aug. 15, 1997). I.
So that the claim of Florinda dela Cruz that she has never informed her husband THE COURT OF APPEALS WITH DUE RESPECT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN
involving a very substantial property registered in his name, for ten years that it had HOLDING THAT THE AGREEMENT IS VALID AND SUBSISTING AND
allegedly been in effect and that she has been regularly collecting defendants ORDERING THE PETITIONERS TO SURRENDER OWNERSHIP OF THE
staggered installment payments for the said property for a number of years lacks SUBJECT PROPERTY TO THE RESPONDENTS.
basis. II.
More, Renato’s claim that he was never aware of the agreement between the parties THE COURT OF APPEALS WITH DUE RESPECT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN
is doomed, since he was present at the time of the purchase of the property where he HOLDING THAT PETITIONER RENATO DELA CRUZ BY HIS ACTUATIONS
witnessed Leonila Segovia contributed their hard earned savings in the amount HAD AGREED AND HAD GIVEN HIS CONFORMITY TO THE AGREEMENT.
of P36,000.00 to complete their share to the purchase price ofP180,000.00 of the We deny the petition.
properties in question, and who reminded defendants that the subject property will We agree with the two courts below when they declared that the four (4)-year period
ultimately be theirs upon completion of their amortizations. for filing an action for annulment of the September 9, 1991 Agreement, on ground of
Finally, the RTC ruled that the action for annulment had already lapsed when the vitiated consent, had already lapsed when the complaint subject of the present
Complaint was filed on March 8, 1996. controversy was filed on March 8, 1996.
The action for annulment shall be brought within four (4) years from the time of This is in accordance with Article 1391 of the Civil Code, which pertinently reads:
discovery of the mistake (Art. 1391, New Civil Code of the Philippines). Art. 1391. The action for annulment shall be brought within four years.
On the other hand, the defendants’ [respondents’] evidence that after the preparation This period shall begin:
by Linda Duval on September 9, 1991, the Agreement was read to and by the parties, xxx
shown and signed by the parties and furnished each a copy of the agreement. In case of mistake or fraud, from the time of the discovery of the same.
Therefore, it could not be said that plaintiffs [petitioners] were not aware of the terms xxx.
and conditions of the Agreement and did not discover the alleged mistakes contained The complaint for Nullity of Contract/ Agreement with Damages was filed on March
therein on September 9, 1991. 7, 1996, while the agreement subject thereof was entered into on September 9, 1991.
More, plaintiffs [petitioners] likewise never raise any objection nor declare that there The Agreement was read to the parties before they affixed their signatures thereon.
were mistakes in the agreement. It was only on March 8, 1996 that the present action Petitioners were thereafter furnished a copy of the subject Agreement. Petitioners are
for annulment was filed. presumed to have discovered the alleged mistake on September 9, 1991. Hence, the
Their motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioners filed with the RTC action for annulment which was filed four years and six months from the time of the
a Notice of Appeal.7Respondents too filed a Notice of Partial Appeal8 questioning discovery of the mistake had already prescribed. Evidently, the Agreement could no
the dismissal of their counter-claim for damages. Accordingly, the records of the longer be set aside.
case were elevated to the CA, where both appeals were docketed as CA-G.R. CV We also agree with the ruling that the absence of Renato’s signature in the
No. 64487. September 9, 1991 Agreement bears little significance to its validity. Article 124 of
the Family Code relied upon by petitioners provides that the administration of the Republic of the Philippines
conjugal partnership is now a joint undertaking of the husband and the wife. In the SUPREME COURT
event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the Manila
administration of the conjugal partnership, the other spouse may assume sole powers SECOND DIVISION
of administration. However, the power of administration does not include the power G.R. No. 169900 March 18, 2010
to dispose or encumber property belonging to the conjugal partnership. In all MARIO SIOCHI, Petitioner,
instances, the present law specifically requires the written consent of the other vs.
spouse, or authority of the court for the disposition or encumbrance of conjugal ALFREDO GOZON, WINIFRED GOZON, GIL TABIJE, INTER-
partnership property without which, the disposition or encumbrance shall be void. DIMENSIONAL REALTY, INC., and ELVIRA GOZON, Respondents.
The foregoing provision finds no application in this case because the transaction x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
between Florinda and Leonila in reality did not involve any disposition of property G.R. No. 169977
belonging to any of the sisters’ conjugal assets. It may be recalled that the agreement INTER-DIMENSIONAL REALTY, INC., Petitioner,
was for the acquisition of two lots which were being sold together for P180,000.00. vs.
Florinda who had only P144,000.00 asked Leonila to contribute P36,000.00 to MARIO SIOCHI, ELVIRA GOZON, ALFREDO GOZON, and WINIFRED
complete the purchase price of said lots. With money pooled together, the sisters GOZON, Respondents.
agreed that Lot 503 be valued at P80,000.00 and Lot 505 valued at P100,000.00.
The P36,000.00 contribution of Leonila shall be applied to the 503 property which RESOLUTION
upon full payment of the remaining balance of P44,000.00 advanced by Florinda CARPIO, J.:
shall belong to Leonila. On the other hand, of Florinda’s P144,000.00 This is a consolidation of two separate petitions for review,1 assailing the 7 July 2005
contribution, P 100,000.00 shall be considered as full payment for the purchase of Decision2 and the 30 September 2005 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
the 505 property and the P44,000.00 which was the balance of the purchase price of G.R. CV No. 74447.
Lot 503, as loan to Leonila. To secure payment of the loan, Lot 503 was This case involves a 30,000 sq.m. parcel of land (property) covered by TCT No.
provisionally registered in the name of petitioners. Hence Lot 503 was at the outset 5357.4 The property is situated in Malabon, Metro Manila and is registered in the
not intended to be part of the conjugal asset of the petitioners but only as a security name of "Alfredo Gozon (Alfredo), married to Elvira Gozon (Elvira)."
for the payment of the P44,000.00 due from respondents. On 23 December 1991, Elvira filed with the Cavite City Regional Trial Court
Moreover, while Florinda’s husband did not affix his signature to the above- (Cavite RTC) a petition for legal separation against her husband Alfredo. On 2
mentioned Agreement, we find no ground to disturb the uniform findings of the trial January 1992, Elvira filed a notice of lis pendens, which was then annotated on TCT
court and appellate court that Renato, by his actuations, agreed and gave his No. 5357.
conformity to the Agreement. As found by the courts below, Renato’s consent to the On 31 August 1993, while the legal separation case was still pending, Alfredo and
Agreement was drawn from the fact that he was present at the time it was signed by Mario Siochi (Mario) entered into an Agreement to Buy and Sell5 (Agreement)
the sisters and their witnesses; he had knowledge of the Agreement as it was involving the property for the price of P18 million. Among the stipulations in the
presented to him for his signature, although he did not sign the same because his Agreement were that Alfredo would: (1) secure an Affidavit from Elvira that the
wife Florinda insisted that her signature already carried that of her husband; Renato property is Alfredo’s exclusive property and to annotate the Agreement at the back
witnessed the fact that Leonila contributed her hard earned savings in the amount of TCT No. 5357; (2) secure the approval of the Cavite RTC to exclude the property
of P36,000.00 to complete their share in the purchase price of the properties in from the legal separation case; and (3) secure the removal of the notice of lis
question in the total amount of P180,000.00. The aforesaid factual findings of the pendens pertaining to the said case and annotated on TCT No. 5357. However,
courts below are beyond review at this stage.10 despite repeated demands from Mario, Alfredo failed to comply with these
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed decision and resolution of stipulations. After paying the P5 million earnest money as partial payment of the
the Court of Appeals areAFFIRMED. purchase price, Mario took possession of the property in September 1993. On 6
Costs against the petitioners. September 1993, the Agreement was annotated on TCT No. 5357.
SO ORDERED. Meanwhile, on 29 June 1994, the Cavite RTC rendered a decision6 in the legal
separation case, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered decreeing the legal separation between
petitioner and respondent. Accordingly, petitioner Elvira Robles Gozon is entitled to
live separately from respondent Alfredo Gozon without dissolution of their marriage
bond. The conjugal partnership of gains of the spouses is hereby declared
DISSOLVED and LIQUIDATED. Being the offending spouse, respondent is 06. The Register of Deeds of Malabon, Metro Manila is hereby ordered to cancel
deprived of his share in the net profits and the same is awarded to their child Certificate of Title Nos. 10508 "in the name of Winifred Gozon" and M-10976 "in
Winifred R. Gozon whose custody is awarded to petitioner. the name of Inter-Dimensional Realty, Inc.," and to restore Transfer Certificate of
Furthermore, said parties are required to mutually support their child Winifred R. Title No. 5357 "in the name of Alfredo Gozon, married to Elvira Robles" with the
Gozon as her needs arises. Agreement to Buy and Sell dated 31 August 1993 fully annotated therein is hereby
SO ORDERED.7 ordered.
As regards the property, the Cavite RTC held that it is deemed conjugal property. 07. Defendant Alfredo Gozon is hereby ordered to deliver a Deed of Absolute Sale in
On 22 August 1994, Alfredo executed a Deed of Donation over the property in favor favor of plaintiff over his one-half undivided share in the subject property and to
of their daughter, Winifred Gozon (Winifred). The Register of Deeds of Malabon, comply with all the requirements for registering such deed.
Gil Tabije, cancelled TCT No. 5357 and issued TCT No. M-105088 in the name of 08. Ordering defendant Elvira Robles-Gozon to sit with plaintiff to agree on the
Winifred, without annotating the Agreement and the notice of lis pendens on TCT selling price of her undivided one-half share in the subject property, thereafter, to
No. M-10508. execute and deliver a Deed of Absolute Sale over the same in favor of the plaintiff
On 26 October 1994, Alfredo, by virtue of a Special Power of Attorney 9 executed in and to comply with all the requirements for registering such deed, within fifteen (15)
his favor by Winifred, sold the property to Inter-Dimensional Realty, Inc. (IDRI) days from the receipt of this DECISION.
for P18 million.10 IDRI paid Alfredo P18 million, representing full payment for the 09. Thereafter, plaintiff is hereby ordered to pay defendant Alfredo Gozon the
property.11 Subsequently, the Register of Deeds of Malabon cancelled TCT No. M- balance of Four Million Pesos (P4,000,000.00) in his one-half undivided share in the
10508 and issued TCT No. M-1097612 to IDRI. property to be set off by the award of damages in plaintiff’s favor.
Mario then filed with the Malabon Regional Trial Court (Malabon RTC) a complaint 10. Plaintiff is hereby ordered to pay the defendant Elvira Robles-Gozon the price
for Specific Performance and Damages, Annulment of Donation and Sale, with they had agreed upon for the sale of her one-half undivided share in the subject
Preliminary Mandatory and Prohibitory Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining property.
Order. 11. Defendants Alfredo Gozon, Winifred Gozon and Gil Tabije are hereby ordered to
On 3 April 2001, the Malabon RTC rendered a decision, 13 the dispositive portion of pay the plaintiff, jointly and severally, the following:
which reads: 11.1 Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00) as actual and compensatory damages;
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows: 11.2 One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) as moral damages;
01. On the preliminary mandatory and prohibitory injunction: 11.3 Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) as exemplary damages;
1.1 The same is hereby made permanent by: 11.4 Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (P400,000.00) as attorney’s fees; and
1.1.1 Enjoining defendants Alfredo Gozon, Winifred Gozon, Inter-Dimensional 11.5 One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) as litigation expenses.
Realty, Inc. and Gil Tabije, their agents, representatives and all persons acting in 11.6 The above awards are subject to set off of plaintiff’s obligation in paragraph 9
their behalf from any attempt of commission or continuance of their wrongful acts of hereof.
further alienating or disposing of the subject property; 12. Defendants Alfredo Gozon and Winifred Gozon are hereby ordered to pay Inter-
1.1.2. Enjoining defendant Inter-Dimensional Realty, Inc. from entering and fencing Dimensional Realty, Inc. jointly and severally the following:
the property; 12.1 Eighteen Million Pesos (P18,000,000.00) which constitute the amount the
1.1.3. Enjoining defendants Alfredo Gozon, Winifred Gozon, Inter-Dimensional former received from the latter pursuant to their Deed of Absolute Sale dated 26
Realty, Inc. to respect plaintiff’s possession of the property. October 1994, with legal interest therefrom;
02. The Agreement to Buy and Sell dated 31 August 1993, between plaintiff and 12.2 One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) as moral damages;
defendant Alfredo Gozon is hereby approved, excluding the property and rights of 12.3 Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) as exemplary damages; and
defendant Elvira Robles-Gozon to the undivided one-half share in the conjugal 12.4 One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) as attorney’s fees.
property subject of this case. 13. Defendants Alfredo Gozon and Winifred Gozon are hereby ordered to pay costs
03. The Deed of Donation dated 22 August 1994, entered into by and between of suit.
defendants Alfredo Gozon and Winifred Gozon is hereby nullified and voided. SO ORDERED.14
04. The Deed of Absolute Sale dated 26 October 1994, executed by defendant On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Malabon RTC’s decision with
Winifred Gozon, through defendant Alfredo Gozon, in favor of defendant Inter- modification. The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals’ Decision dated 7 July
Dimensional Realty, Inc. is hereby nullified and voided. 2005 reads:
05. Defendant Inter-Dimensional Realty, Inc. is hereby ordered to deliver its WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed decision dated April 3, 2001 of the
Transfer Certificate of Title No. M-10976 to the Register of Deeds of Malabon, RTC, Branch 74, Malabon is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS, as
Metro Manila. follows:
1. The sale of the subject land by defendant Alfredo Gozon to plaintiff-appellant In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the
Siochi is declared null and void for the following reasons: administration of the conjugal properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers
a) The conveyance was done without the consent of defendant-appellee Elvira of administration. These powers do not include the powers of disposition or
Gozon; encumbrance which must have the authority of the court or the written consent of the
b) Defendant Alfredo Gozon’s one-half (½) undivided share has been forfeited in other spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent, the disposition or
favor of his daughter, defendant Winifred Gozon, by virtue of the decision in the encumbrance shall be void. However, the transaction shall be construed as a
legal separation case rendered by the RTC, Branch 16, Cavite; continuing offer on the part of the consenting spouse and the third person, and may
2. Defendant Alfredo Gozon shall return/deliver to plaintiff-appellant Siochi the be perfected as a binding contract upon the acceptance by the other spouse or
amount of P5 Million which the latter paid as earnest money in consideration for the authorization by the court before the offer is withdrawn by either or both offerors.
sale of the subject land; (Emphasis supplied)
3. Defendants Alfredo Gozon, Winifred Gozon and Gil Tabije are hereby ordered to In this case, Alfredo was the sole administrator of the property because Elvira, with
pay plaintiff-appellant Siochi jointly and severally, the following: whom Alfredo was separated in fact, was unable to participate in the administration
a) P100,000.00 as moral damages; of the conjugal property. However, as sole administrator of the property, Alfredo still
b) P100,000.00 as exemplary damages; cannot sell the property without the written consent of Elvira or the authority of the
c) P50,000.00 as attorney’s fees; court. Without such consent or authority, the sale is void. 16 The absence of the
d) P20,000.00 as litigation expenses; and consent of one of the spouse renders the entire sale void, including the portion of the
e) The awards of actual and compensatory damages are hereby ordered deleted for conjugal property pertaining to the spouse who contracted the sale. 17 Even if the
lack of basis. other spouse actively participated in negotiating for the sale of the property, that
4. Defendants Alfredo Gozon and Winifred Gozon are hereby ordered to pay other spouse’s written consent to the sale is still required by law for its
defendant-appellant IDRI jointly and severally the following: validity.18 The Agreement entered into by Alfredo and Mario was without the written
a) P100,000.00 as moral damages; consent of Elvira. Thus, the Agreement is entirely void. As regards Mario’s
b) P100,000.00 as exemplary damages; and contention that the Agreement is a continuing offer which may be perfected by
c) P50,000.00 as attorney’s fees. Elvira’s acceptance before the offer is withdrawn, the fact that the property was
Defendant Winifred Gozon, whom the undivided one-half share of defendant subsequently donated by Alfredo to Winifred and then sold to IDRI clearly indicates
Alfredo Gozon was awarded, is hereby given the option whether or not to dispose of that the offer was already withdrawn.
her undivided share in the subject land. However, we disagree with the finding of the Court of Appeals that the one-half
The rest of the decision not inconsistent with this ruling stands. undivided share of Alfredo in the property was already forfeited in favor of his
SO ORDERED.15 daughter Winifred, based on the ruling of the Cavite RTC in the legal separation
Only Mario and IDRI appealed the decision of the Court of Appeals. In his petition, case. The Court of Appeals misconstrued the ruling of the Cavite RTC that Alfredo,
Mario alleges that the Agreement should be treated as a continuing offer which may being the offending spouse, is deprived of his share in the net profits and the same is
be perfected by the acceptance of the other spouse before the offer is withdrawn. awarded to Winifred.
Since Elvira’s conduct signified her acquiescence to the sale, Mario prays for the The Cavite RTC ruling finds support in the following provisions of the Family Code:
Court to direct Alfredo and Elvira to execute a Deed of Absolute Sale over the Art. 63. The decree of legal separation shall have the following effects:
property upon his payment of P9 million to Elvira. (1) The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other, but the marriage
On the other hand, IDRI alleges that it is a buyer in good faith and for value. Thus, bonds shall not be severed;
IDRI prays that the Court should uphold the validity of IDRI’s TCT No. M-10976 (2) The absolute community or the conjugal partnership shall be dissolved and
over the property. liquidated but the offending spouse shall have no right to any share of the net
We find the petitions without merit. profits earned by the absolute community or the conjugal partnership, which
This case involves the conjugal property of Alfredo and Elvira. Since the disposition shall be forfeited in accordance with the provisions of Article 43(2);
of the property occurred after the effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable law (3) The custody of the minor children shall be awarded to the innocent spouse,
is the Family Code. Article 124 of the Family Code provides: subject to the provisions of Article 213 of this Code; and
Art. 124. The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal partnership property The offending spouse shall be disqualified from inheriting from the innocent spouse
shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of disagreement, the husband’s decision by intestate succession. Moreover, provisions in favor of the offending spouse made
shall prevail, subject to the recourse to the court by the wife for a proper remedy, in the will of the innocent spouse shall be revoked by operation of law.
which must be availed of within five years from the date of the contract Art. 43. The termination of the subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding
implementing such decision. Article shall produce the following effects:
xxx (1) We DELETE the portions regarding the forfeiture of Alfredo Gozon’s one-half
(2) The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may undivided share in favor of Winifred Gozon and the grant of option to Winifred
be, shall be dissolved and liquidated, but if either spouse contracted said marriage in Gozon whether or not to dispose of her undivided share in the property; and
bad faith, his or her share of the net profits of the community property or conjugal (2) We ORDER Alfredo Gozon and Winifred Gozon to pay Inter-Dimensional
partnership property shall be forfeited in favor of the common children or, if there Realty, Inc. jointly and severally the Eighteen Million Pesos (P18,000,000) which
are none, the children of the guilty spouse by a previous marriage or, in default of was the amount paid by Inter-Dimensional Realty, Inc. for the property, with legal
children, the innocent spouse; (Emphasis supplied) interest computed from the finality of this Decision.
Thus, among the effects of the decree of legal separation is that the conjugal SO ORDERED.
partnership is dissolved and liquidated and the offending spouse would have no right
to any share of the net profits earned by the conjugal partnership. It is only Alfredo’s
share in the net profits which is forfeited in favor of Winifred. Article 102(4) of the
Family Code provides that "[f]or purposes of computing the net profits subject to
forfeiture in accordance with Article 43, No. (2) and 63, No. (2), the said profits shall
be the increase in value between the market value of the community property at the
time of the celebration of the marriage and the market value at the time of its
dissolution." Clearly, what is forfeited in favor of Winifred is not Alfredo’s share in
the conjugal partnership property but merely in the net profits of the conjugal
partnership property.
With regard to IDRI, we agree with the Court of Appeals in holding that IDRI is not
a buyer in good faith. As found by the RTC Malabon and the Court of Appeals, IDRI
had actual knowledge of facts and circumstances which should impel a reasonably
cautious person to make further inquiries about the vendor’s title to the property. The
representative of IDRI testified that he knew about the existence of the notice of lis
pendens on TCT No. 5357 and the legal separation case filed before the Cavite RTC.
Thus, IDRI could not feign ignorance of the Cavite RTC decision declaring the
property as conjugal.
Furthermore, if IDRI made further inquiries, it would have known that the
cancellation of the notice of lis pendens was highly irregular. Under Section 77 of
Presidential Decree No. 1529,19 the notice of lis pendens may be cancelled (a) upon
order of the court, or (b) by the Register of Deeds upon verified petition of the party
who caused the registration of the lis pendens. In this case, the lis pendens was
cancelled by the Register of Deeds upon the request of Alfredo. There was no court
order for the cancellation of the lis pendens. Neither did Elvira, the party who caused
the registration of the lis pendens, file a verified petition for its cancellation.
Besides, had IDRI been more prudent before buying the property, it would have
discovered that Alfredo’s donation of the property to Winifred was without the
consent of Elvira. Under Article 12520 of the Family Code, a conjugal property
cannot be donated by one spouse without the consent of the other spouse. Clearly,
IDRI was not a buyer in good faith.1avvphi1
Nevertheless, we find it proper to reinstate the order of the Malabon RTC for the
reimbursement of the P18 million paid by IDRI for the property, which was
inadvertently omitted in the dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals’ decision.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petitions. We AFFIRM the 7 July 2005 Decision of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 74447 with the
following MODIFICATIONS: