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G.R. No.

L-19671 (November 29, 1965)


Tenchavez vs. Escaño

FACTS:
Vicenta Escaño, 27, exchanged marriage vows with Pastor Tenchavez, 32, on February 24,
1948, before a Catholic chaplain. The marriage was duly registered with the local civil
registrar. However, the two were unable to live together after the marriage and as of June
1948, they were already estranged. Vicenta left for the United Stated in 1950. On the same
year she filed a verified complaint for divorce against Tenchavez in the State of Nevada on
the ground of “Extreme cruelty, entirely mental in character.” A decree of divorce, “final and
absolute” was issued in open court by the said tribunal. She married an American, lived with him in
California, had several children with him and, on 1958, acquired American Citizenship.
On 30 July 1955, Tenchavez filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Cebu, and
amended on 31 May 1956, against Vicenta F. Escaño, her parents, Mamerto and Mena
Escaño whom he charged with having dissuaded and discouraged Vicenta from joining her
husband, and alienating her affections, and against the Roman Catholic Church, for having,
through its Diocesan Tribunal, decreed the annulment of the marriage, and asked for legal
separation and one million pesos in damages. Vicenta’s parents denied that they had in any
way influenced their daughter’s acts, and counterclaimed for moral damages.
ISSUE:
1. Whether or not the divorce sought by Vicenta Escaño is valid and binding upon courts
of the Philippines.
2. Whether or not the charges against Vicenta Escaño’s parents were sufficient in form.
RULING:
1. No. Vicenta Escaño and Pastor Tenchavez’ marriage remain existent and undissolved
under the Philippine Law. Escaño’s divorce and second marriage cannot be deemed valid
under the Philippine Law to which Escaño was bound since in the time the divorce decree
was issued, Escaño, like her husband, was still a Filipino citizen. The acts of the wife in not
complying with her wifely duties, deserting her husband without any justifiable cause,
leaving for the United States in order to secure a decree of absolute divorce, and finally
getting married again are acts which constitute a willful infliction of injury upon the
husband’s feelings in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy, thus
entitling Tenchavez to a decree of legal separation under our law on the basis of adultery.

2. No. Tenchavez’ charge against Vicenta’s parents are not supported by credible
evidence. The testimony of Tenchavez about the Escaño’s animosity toward him strikes the
court to be merely conjecture and exaggeration, and were belied by Tenchavez’ own letters
written before the suit had begun. An action for alienation of affections against the parents
of one consort does not lie in the absence of proof of malice or unworthy motives on their
part.
Plaintiff Tenchavez, in falsely charging Vicenta's aged parents with racial or social
discrimination and with having exerted efforts and pressured her to seek annulment and
divorce, unquestionably caused them unrest and anxiety, entitling them to recover
damages.
TENCHAVEZ V. ESCAÑO

Factual Antecendent

Pastor Tenchavez and Vicenta Escaño were deeply in love and secretly got married before a Catholic
chaplain and planned to elope. The elopement did not materialize because Vicenta’s mother discovered
such marriage. Vicenta was taken home where she admitted that she had already married Pastor. Her
parents asked the advice of one Father Reynes and subsequently agreed to recelebrate the marriage.
However, Vicenta refused to proceed with the ceremony after receiving a letter disclosing that Pastor and
their matchmaker, Pacita Noel had an amorous relationship. Vicenta left for the States, acquired a foreign
divorce and married an American, Russel Leo Moran in Nevada. She sought for a divorce from Tenchavez
in 1950 and sought ecclesiastical release from her marriage to Tenchavez in 1954. Escano claims that state
recognition should be accorded the Church's disavowal of her marriage with Tenchavez. Escano argued
that her second marriage deserves the law’s recognition and protection over the other since it fits concept
of a marriage as a social institution because it was publicly contracted, recognized by both civil and
ecclesiastical authorities, and blessed by three children. She also contends that the court has no
jurisdiction over her.

Husband filed complaint:

Vs. Parents: for having dissuaded and discouraged Vicenta from joining her husband and alienating her
affections

Vs. Roman Catholic Church: for having decreed annulment

Parents filed counterclaim for moral and exemplary damages.

Issue

WON marriage between Tenchavez and Escano still subsists in lieu of the divorce

WON there is an action for alienation of affections against parents

Held

NO

Ratio:

1. no proof of malice

2. parents themselves suggested that the marriage be celebrated again

3. also, Vicenta appeared to have acted independently and being of age, she was entitled to 4. judge
what was best for her and ask that her decisions be respected
THERE WAS A VALID MARRIAGE between Vicenta and Tenchaves:

With regard to jurisdiction over Escano, the court states that when against the non-resident defendant
affects the personal status of the plaintiff, as, for instance, an action for separation or for annulment of
marriage, ..., Philippine courts may validly try and decide the case, because, then, they have jurisdiction
over the matter , and in that event their jurisdiction over the person of the non-resident defendant is
not essential. The point is the personal status of the plaintiff domiciled in the Philippines. Divorce,
although successfully obtained in another country, cannot be applied in the Philippines since it is
contrary to public policy. The principle is well-established, in private international law, that foreign
decrees cannot be enforced or recognized if they contravene public policy. Furthermore, Vicenta’s
refusal to perform her wifely duties, and her denial of consortium and her desertion of husband
constitute in law a wrong caused through her fault, for which the husband is entitled to damages (2176).
When, however, the action against the non-resident defendant affects the personal status of the
plaintiff, as, for instance, an action for separation or for annulment of marriage, ..., Philippine courts
may validly try and decide the case, because, then, they have jurisdiction over the res, and in that event
their jurisdiction over the person of the non-resident defendant is not essential. The res is the personal
status of the plaintiff domiciled in the Philippines, 45,000 damages awarded to parents deemed
excessive: filing of suit nay have wounded their feelings and caused anxiety but this has not seriously
injured their reputation or otherwise prejudiced them, lawsuits having become a common occurrence in
present society.
Tenchavez v Escano (1965)
Tenchavez v Escano (1965)

Facts:
Pastor Tenchavez), 32, married Vicenta Escano, 27, on Feb. 24, 1948, in Cebu City. As of June 1948,
the newly-weds were already estranged. On June 24, 1950, Escano left for the US. On Agugust 22,
1950, she filed a verified complaint for divorce against the plaintiff in the State of Nevada on the ground
of "extreme cruelty, entirely mental in character."
On October 21, 1950, a decree of divorce was issued by the Nevada Court. On September 13, 1954,
Escano married an American Russel Leo Moran in Nevada. She now lives with him in California and
by him, has begotten children. She acquired American citizenship on August 8, 1958. On July 30,
1955, Tenchavez filed a complaint for legal separation and damages against VE and her parents in
the CFI-Cebu.
Tenchavez poses the novel theory that Mamerto and Mina Escaño are undeserving of an award for
damages because they are guilty of contributory negligence in failing to take up proper and timely
measures to dissuade their daughter Vicenta from leaving her husband Tenchavez obtaining a foreign
divorce and marrying another man (Moran). This theory cannot be considered: first, because this was
not raised in the court below; second, there is no evidence to support it; third, it contradicts plaintiff's
previous theory of alienation of affections in that contributory negligence involves an omission to
perform an act while alienation of affection involves the performance of a positive act.

Issues:
1. WON at the the time Escano was still a Filipino citizen when the divorce decree was issued.
2. WON the award of moral damages against Escaño may be given to Tenchavez on the grounds of
her refusal to perform her wifely duties, her denial of consortium, and desertion of her husband.

Held:
1. YES
At the time the divorce decree was issued, Escano like her husband, was still a Filipino citizen. She
was then subject to Philippine law under Art. 15 of the NCC. Philippine law, under the NCC then now
in force, does not admit absolute divorce but only provides for legal separation.
For Phil. courts to recognize foreign divorce decrees bet. Filipino citizens would be a patent violation
of the declared policy of the State, especially in view of the 3rd par. of Art. 17, NCC. Moreover,
recognition would give rise to scandalous discrimination in favor of wealthy citizens to the detriment of
those members of our society whose means do not permit them to sojourn abroad and obtain absolute
divorce outside the Phils.
Therefore, a foreign divorce bet. Filipino citizens, sought and decreed after the effectivity of the NCC,
is not entitled to recognition as valid in this jurisdiction.
2. YES
The acts of Vicenta (up to and including her divorce, for grounds not countenanced by our law, which
was hers at the time) constitute a wilful infliction of injury upon plaintiff's feelings in a manner "contrary
to morals, good customs or public policy" (Civ. Code, Art. 21) for which Article 2219 (10) authorizes
an award of moral damages.
It is also argued that, by the award of moral damages, an additional effect of legal separation has been
added to Article 106. It was plain in the decision that the damages attached to her wrongful acts under
the codal article (Article 2176) expressly cited.
But economic sanctions are not held in our law to be incompatible with the respect accorded to
individual liberty in civil cases. Thus, a consort who unjustifiably deserts the conjugal abode can be
denied support (Art. 178, Civil Code of the Phil.). And where the wealth of the deserting spouse renders
this remedy illusory, there is no cogent reason why the court may not award damage as it may in
cases of breach of other obligations to do intuitu personae even if in private relations physical coercion
be barred under the old maxim "Nemo potest precise cogi and factum".