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University of the Philippines College of Law

Topic Marital Disqualification (Rule 130, Sec. 22)


Case No. 88 SCRA 562 (1979)
Case Name People v. Castañeda, Jr.
Ponente Santos, J.
Digester MBO

Quick Facts
Cause of Action Falsification of Public Document
(Complaint/ Information) BENJAMIN F. MANALOTO, with deliberate intent
to commit falsification, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously counterfeit, imitate and
forge the signature of his spouse Victoria M.
Manaloto in a deed of sale executed by said
accused wherein he sold a house and lot belonging
to the conjugal partnership of said spouse.
Evidence in Question Allegedly forged signature in a deed of sale
How was it raised to the SC? Petition for certiorari was filed by the office of the
Provincial Fiscal, on behalf of the People of the
Philippines, seeking to set aside the aforesaid
orders of the respondent Judge, Castaneda Jr. and
praying that a preliminary injunction or a
temporary restraining order be issued by this Court
enjoining said judge from further proceeding with
the trial of.

Trial Court Decision At the trial, the prosecution called the complainant-
wife to the witness stand but the defense moved to
disqualify her as a witness, invoking Sec. 20, Rule
130 of the Revised Rules of Court. The prosecution
opposed said motion to disqualify on the ground
that the case falls under the exception to the rule,
contending that it is a “criminal case for a crime
committed by one against the other.”
Notwithstanding such opposition, respondent Judge
granted the motion, disqualifying Victoria
Manaloto from testifying for or against her
husband. MR was filed but was denied by
respondent Judge.
Supreme Court Decisions TC decision was set aside; respondent Judge is
ordered to proceed with the trial of the case,
allowing Victoria Manaloto to testify against her
husband
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SUMMARY
Victoria filed a complaint for Falsification of Public Document against her husband, Benjamin. She
alleged that Benjamin falsified her signature in a deed of sale of a house belonging to the conjugal
partnership, making it appear that she gave her marital consent to said sale. At the trial, the prosecution
called to the witness stand Victoria, but the defense moved to disqualify her as a witness, invoking the
rule that a spouse cannot be examined without the consent of the other spouse, except in a civil case by
one against the other or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against another. The
prosecution opposed the motion on the ground that the case falls under the exception, contending that it
is a criminal case committed by one against the other. The trial court, nonetheless, granted the motion to
disqualify Victoria from testifying against her spouse, Benjamin. Prosecution’s MR was denied, and so
they elevated the case to the Supreme Court on pure question of law. SC decided in favor of the
petitioner Victoria ruling that it falls within the exception to the Marital Disqualification Rule.

RELEVANT FACTS
Benjamin Manaloto was charged with the crime of Falsification of Public Document. The complaint was
filed by his wife, Victoria Manaloto.
On or about the 19th day of May, 1975, in the Municipality of San Fernando, province of Pampanga,
Philippines, Benjamin falsified in a deed of sale the house and lot belonging to the conjugal partnership
in favor of Ponciano Lacsamana, making it appear that his spouse gave her marital consent to said sale.

At the trial, the prosecution called the wife to the witness stand but the defense moved to disqualify her
as a witness, invoking Sec. 20, Rule 130, which provides:
SEC. 20. Disqualification by reason of interest or relationship.—The following
persons cannot testify as to matters in which they are interested, directly or indirectly,
as herein enumerated:
xx xx xx xx xx
(b) A husband can not be examined for or against his wife without her consent; nor a
wife for or against her husband without his consent, except in a civil case by one
against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other.

The prosecution stated that it is a "criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other."
Notwithstanding such opposition, respondent Judge granted the motion, disqualifying Victoria. Hence,
the case at bar.

ISSUE/S
 Whether or not the criminal case for Falsification of Public Document may be considered as a
crime committed by a husband against his wife and, therefore, an exception to the rule on marital
disqualification

RATIO DECIDENDI
Issue Ratio
 Whether or not YES
the criminal case
for Falsification of 1. WHEN AN OFFENSE DIRECTLY ATTACKS, OR DIRECTLY
Public Document AND VITALLY IMPAIRS, THE CONJUGAL RELATION, IT
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may be considered COMES WITHIN THE EXCEPTION to the statute that one shall
as a crime not be a witness against the other except in a criminal prosecution
committed by a for a crime committed by one against the other.
husband against 2. In the instant case, the sale of the said house and lot, and the signing
his wife and, of the wife's name by her husband in the deed of sale, have been
therefore, an made without the wife’s consent. The husband's breach of his wife's
exception to the confidence gives rise to the offense charged
rule on marital 3. It is it is undeniable that the act had the effect of directly and vitally
disqualification impairing the conjugal relation. This is apparent not only in the act
of the wife in personally lodging her complaint with the Office of
the Provincial Fiscal, but also in her insistent efforts in connection
with the instant petition, which seeks to set aside the order
disqualifying her from testifying against her husband. Taken
collectively, the actuations of the witness-wife underscore the fact
that the martial and domestic relations between her and the accused-
husband have become so strained that there is no more harmony to
be preserved said nor peace and tranquility which may be disturbed.
In such a case, identity of interests disappears and the consequent
danger of perjury based on that identity is nonexistent. Likewise, in
such a situation, the security and confidence of private life which the
law aims at protecting will be nothing but ideals.

RULING
WHEREFORE, the order of the lower court dated March 31, 1977, disqualifying Victoria Manaloto
from testifying for or against her husband, Benjamin Manaloto, in Criminal Case No. 1011, as well as
the order dated May 19, 1977, denying the motion for reconsideration are hereby SET ASIDE. The
temporary restraining order issued by this Court is hereby lifted and the respondent Judge is hereby
ordered to proceed with the trial of the case, allowing Victoria Manaloto to testify against her husband.

SEPARATE OPINIONS
Fernando (Chairman), Barredo, Antonio, Aquino and Concepcion Jr., JJ., concur. Order set aside.

NOTES
The husband’s sale of conjugal lot without the wife’s consent is not valid. (Villocino vs. Doyon, 18
SCRA 1094; Reyes vs. De Leon, 20 SCRA 369).

Sec. 22. Disqualification by reason of marriage. — During their marriage, neither the husband nor the
wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse, except in a civil case
by one against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the
latter's direct descendants or ascendants.
[xxx]

Under R130, S22, the marital DQ in criminal cases is limited to crimes committed against the other or
the latter’s direct descendant/ascendant.