Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 23

Today is Monday, March 17, 2014

Disini, Jr. v. The Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 203335


FACTS:
Petitioners Jose Jesus M. Disini, Jr., Rowena S. Disini, Lianne Ivy P. Medina, Janette Toral and Ernesto Sonido, Jr., as taxpayers, file a Petition for
Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the petitioners seek to 1) nullify Sections 4(c)(4), 6, 7, 12 and 19 of RA
10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 for violating the fundamental rights protected under the Constitution; and 2)
prohibit the Respondents, singly and collectively, from enforcing the afore-mentioned provisions of the Cybercrime Act.
Named as Respondents are the Secretary of Justice, the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, the Executive Director of the Information
Communications Technology Office, the Chief of the Philippine National Police, and the Director of the National Bureau of Investigation.
ISSUES/GROUNDS:
1. Sections 4(c)(4), 6, 7, 12 and 19 of The Cybercrime Act violate the petitioners constitutionally protected rights to freedom of expression, due
process, equal protection, privacy of communications, as well as the Constitutional sanctions against double jeopardy, undue delegation of
legislative authority and the right against unreasonable searches and seizure;
o Sections 6 and 7 of the Cybercrime Act more than doubles the liability for imprisonment for any violation of existing penal laws are
in violation of the petitioners right against Double Jeopardy;
o Section 12 of the Cybercrime Act, which permits the NBI and the PNP with due cause to engage in real time collection of traffic
data without the benefit of the intervention of a judge, violates the Petitioners Constitutionally-protected right to be free from
unreasonable searches and seizure as well as the right to the privacy of communications;
o Section 19 of the Cybercrime Act, which authorizes the Respondent Secretary of DOJ to block or restrict access to any content upon
a prima facie finding that the same violates the law, contains an undue delegation of legislative authority, infringes upon the judicial
power of the judiciary, and violates the Petitioners Constitutionally-protected right to due process and freedom of expression; and
o Section 4(c)(4) defines libel as a cybercrime and in relation to Section 6 of the law increased the penalty from 6 months to 4 years
and 2 months to the greater period of 6 years to 10 years, infringes upon the right to freedom of expression and also restricts the
freedom of the press. Under Section 12, a prima facie finding by the Secretary of DOJ can trigger an order directed at service
providers to block access to the said material without the benefit of a trial or a conviction. Thus, RA 10175 infringes upon the right to
freedom of expression and also restricts the freedom of the press. The increased penalties, plus the ease by which allegedly libelous
materials can be removed from access, work together as a chilling effect upon protected speech.
2. No other plain, speedy, or adequate remedy in the court of law, and that this Petition is therefore cognizable by the SCs judicial power under
Article VIII, Section 1 par. 2 of the Constitution and pursuant to Rule 65, Sec. 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.
ARGUMENTS/DISCUSSIONS:
1. The Cybercrime Act Violates Free Speech:
o imposes heavier penalties for online libel than paper-based libel; single act of online libel will result in two convictions penalized
separately under the RP and the Cybercrime Act;
o online libel under the Cybercrime Act will ensure the imprisonment of the accused and for a much longer period. Such changes will
result in a chilling effect upon the freedom of speech;
o with the passage of the Cybercrime Act, Senator Vicente Sotto IIIs earlier threat to criminally prosecute all bloggers and internet
users who were critical of his alleged plagiarism of online materials for use in his speech against the Reproductive Health Bill became
real; threat of criminal prosecution under RA 10175 will work to preclude people such as Petitioners from posting social commentaries
online, thus creating a chilling effect upon the freedom of expression;
o gives the DOJ Secretary blanket authority to restrain and block access to content whether authored by private citizens or the
organized press sans any hearing of any kind but merely upon a mere prima facie showing that a particular Internet article constitutes
online libel;
o respondents must demonstrate how the Cybercrime Act will fare under strict scrutiny
2. Sections 6 and 7 of the Cybercrime Act violate the Double Jeopardy and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution:
o Persons who commit crimes using information and communication technologies (ICTs) face the possibility of being imprisoned more
than double the imprisonment laid down in the RPC or special law, simply by the passage of the Cybercrime Act;
o the cybercrimes defined and punished under Section 6 of the Act are absolutely identical to the crimes defined in the RPC and
special laws which raises the possibility that an accused will be punished twice for the same offense in violation of the Constitution;
o Congress created a class of offenders who commit crimes by, through or with the use of ICTs in violation of the equal protection
clause
3. The Real Time Collection of Traffic Date Violate the Right to Privacy and the Right Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizure:
o No compelling state interest that justifies real time collection of data; the authority vested on the Philippine National Police and the
National Bureau of Investigation to collect data is not bounded by any reasonable standard except due cause which presumably, the
PNP and NBI will determine for itself;
o While the privacy of suspected terrorists, through the Human Security Act, are protected by the intervention of the Court of Appeals
before surveillance operations are conducted, the privacy of all citizens may be infringed without judicial participation in the
Cybercrime Act;
o Neither the PNP nor the NBI is required to justify the incursion into the right to privacy;
o No limits imposed upon the PNP or the NBI since they can lawfully collect traffic data at all times without interruption;
o No stated justification for this warrant-free unlimited incursion into the privacy of citizens
4. The Respondent DOJ Secretarys Take Down Authority under Section 19 of the Cybercrime Act violates Due Process and is an Undue Delegation
of Legislative Authority
o The DOJ Secretarys overwhelming powers to order the restriction or blocking of access to certain content upon a mere prima facie
finding without any need for a judicial determination is in clear violation of petitioners Constitutionally protected right to due
process;
o The Cybercrime Act contemplates that the respondent DOJ Secretary will be judge, jury and executioner of all cybercrime-related
complaints;
o To consider that all penal provisions in all specials laws are cybercrimes under Section 6, it follows that:
1. Complaints filed by intellectual property rights owners may be acted upon the Respondent DOJ Secretary to block access to
websites and content upon a mere prima facie showing of an infringement;
2. Foreign sites (e.g. Amazon.com) offering goods on retail to Philippine citizens may be blocked for violating the Retail Trade
Law;
3. Foreign service providers such as Skype may be blocked from offering voice services without securing a license from the
National Telecommunications Communication;
4. YouTube video may be blocked for presumably violating the IP Code.
o The Cybercrime Act fails the two tests laid down by the Court in Abakada Guro Party List v. Purisima (GR No. 166715) to determine
the validity of delegation of legislative power: (1) the completeness test and (2) the sufficient standard test
1. Nowhere in the Cybercrime Acts declaration of policy does it lay down the legislative policy with respect to the blocking of
content. No limits upon the takedown power of the respondent DOJ Secretary;
2. Prima facie standard is not enough to prevent the DOJ Secretary from exercising infinite discretion and becoming the
supreme authority in the Philippine Internet landscape.
PRAYER:
1. Declare null and void, for being unconstitutional, Sections 4(c)(4), 6, 7, 12 and 19 of RA 10175;
2. Prohibit all Respondents from implementing Sections 4(c)(4), 6, 7, 12 and 19 of RA 10175;
3. Issue a TRO enjoining the Respondents from implementing Sections 4(c)(4), 6, 7, 12 and 19 of RA 10175; and
4. Issue other reliefs, just and equitable in the premises.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 150758 February 18, 2004
VERONICO TENEBRO, petitioner
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J .:
We are called on to decide the novel issue concerning the effect of the judicial declaration of the nullity of a second or subsequent
marriage, on the ground of psychological incapacity, on an individuals criminal liability for bigamy. We hold that the subsequent
judicial declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity does not retroact to the date of the celebration of
the marriage insofar as the Philippines penal laws are concerned. As such, an individual who contracts a second or subsequent
marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage is criminally liable for bigamy, notwithstanding the subsequent declaration that
the second marriage is void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity.
Petitioner in this case, Veronico Tenebro, contracted marriage with private complainant Leticia Ancajas on April 10, 1990. The two
were wed by Judge Alfredo B. Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City. Tenebro and Ancajas lived together continuously
and without interruption until the latter part of 1991, when Tenebro informed Ancajas that he had been previously married to a certain
Hilda Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Tenebro showed Ancajas a photocopy of a marriage contract between him and Villareyes.
Invoking this previous marriage, petitioner thereafter left the conjugal dwelling which he shared with Ancajas, stating that he was
going to cohabit with Villareyes.
1

On January 25, 1993, petitioner contracted yet another marriage, this one with a certain Nilda Villegas, before Judge German Lee, Jr.
of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 15.
2
When Ancajas learned of this third marriage, she verified from Villareyes
whether the latter was indeed married to petitioner. In a handwritten letter,
3
Villareyes confirmed that petitioner, Veronico Tenebro,
was indeed her husband.
Ancajas thereafter filed a complaint for bigamy against petitioner.
4
The Information,
5
which was docketed as Criminal Case No.
013095-L, reads:
That on the 10th day of April 1990, in the City of Lapu-lapu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
aforenamed accused, having been previously united in lawful marriage with Hilda Villareyes, and without the said marriage having
been legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with LETICIA ANCAJAS,
which second or subsequent marriage of the accused has all the essential requisites for validity were it not for the subsisting first
marriage.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
When arraigned, petitioner entered a plea of "not guilty".
6

During the trial, petitioner admitted having cohabited with Villareyes from 1984-1988, with whom he sired two children. However, he
denied that he and Villareyes were validly married to each other, claiming that no marriage ceremony took place to solemnize their
union.
7
He alleged that he signed a marriage contract merely to enable her to get the allotment from his office in connection with his
work as a seaman.
8
He further testified that he requested his brother to verify from the Civil Register in Manila whether there was any
marriage at all between him and Villareyes, but there was no record of said marriage.
9

On November 10, 1997, the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City, Branch 54, rendered a decision finding the accused guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, and sentencing him to four (4) years and two
(2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum.
10
On appeal, the
Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court. Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied for lack of merit.
Hence, the instant petition for review on the following assignment of errors:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED, AND THIS ERROR IS CORRECTIBLE IN THIS
APPEAL WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT A QUO CONVICTING THE
ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE CRIME OF BIGAMY, DESPITE THE NON-EXISTENCE OF THE FIRST MARRIAGE AND
INSUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE.
II. THE COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE CRIME OF BIGAMY DESPITE CLEAR
PROOF THAT THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE ACCUSED AND PRIVATE COMPLAINANT HAD BEEN
DECLARED NULL AND VOID AB INITIO AND WITHOUT LEGAL FORCE AND EFFECT.
11

After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find no cogent reason to disturb the assailed judgment.
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, the elements of the crime of Bigamy are:
(1) that the offender has been legally married;
(2) that the first marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse
could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code;
(3) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and
(4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.
12

Petitioners assignment of errors presents a two-tiered defense, in which he (1) denies the existence of his first marriage to
Villareyes, and (2) argues that the declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, which is
an alleged indicator that his marriage to Ancajas lacks the essential requisites for validity, retroacts to the date on which the second
marriage was celebrated.
13
Hence, petitioner argues that all four of the elements of the crime of bigamy are absent, and prays for his
acquittal.
14

Petitioners defense must fail on both counts.
First, the prosecution presented sufficient evidence, both documentary and oral, to prove the existence of the first marriage between
petitioner and Villareyes. Documentary evidence presented was in the form of: (1) a copy of a marriage contract between Tenebro
and Villareyes, dated November 10, 1986, which, as seen on the document, was solemnized at the Manila City Hall before Rev.
Julieto Torres, a Minister of the Gospel, and certified to by the Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila;
15
and (2) a handwritten letter
from Villareyes to Ancajas dated July 12, 1994, informing Ancajas that Villareyes and Tenebro were legally married.
16

To assail the veracity of the marriage contract, petitioner presented (1) a certification issued by the National Statistics Office dated
October 7, 1995;
17
and (2) a certification issued by the City Civil Registry of Manila, dated February 3, 1997.
18
Both these documents
attest that the respective issuing offices have no record of a marriage celebrated between Veronico B. Tenebro and Hilda B.
Villareyes on November 10, 1986.
To our mind, the documents presented by the defense cannot adequately assail the marriage contract, which in itself would already
have been sufficient to establish the existence of a marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes.
All three of these documents fall in the category of public documents, and the Rules of Court provisions relevant to public documents
are applicable to all. Pertinent to the marriage contract, Section 7 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court reads as follows:
Sec. 7. Evidence admissible when original document is a public record. When the original of a document is in the custody of a
public officer or is recorded in a public office, its contents may be proved by a certified copy issued by the public officer in custody
thereof (Emphasis ours).
This being the case, the certified copy of the marriage contract, issued by a public officer in custody thereof, was admissible as the
best evidence of its contents. The marriage contract plainly indicates that a marriage was celebrated between petitioner and
Villareyes on November 10, 1986, and it should be accorded the full faith and credence given to public documents.
Moreover, an examination of the wordings of the certification issued by the National Statistics Office on October 7, 1995 and that
issued by the City Civil Registry of Manila on February 3, 1997 would plainly show that neither document attests as a positive fact
that there was no marriage celebrated between Veronico B. Tenebro and Hilda B. Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Rather, the
documents merely attest that the respective issuing offices have no record of such a marriage. Documentary evidence as to the
absence of a record is quite different from documentary evidence as to the absence of a marriage ceremony, or documentary
evidence as to the invalidity of the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes.
The marriage contract presented by the prosecution serves as positive evidence as to the existence of the marriage between
Tenebro and Villareyes, which should be given greater credence than documents testifying merely as to absence of any record of the
marriage, especially considering that there is absolutely no requirement in the law that a marriage contract needs to be submitted to
the civil registrar as a condition precedent for the validity of a marriage. The mere fact that no record of a marriage exists does not
invalidate the marriage, provided all requisites for its validity are present.
19
There is no evidence presented by the defense that would
indicate that the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes lacked any requisite for validity, apart from the self-serving testimony of
the accused himself. Balanced against this testimony are Villareyes letter, Ancajas testimony that petitioner informed her of the
existence of the valid first marriage, and petitioners own conduct, which would all tend to indicate that the first marriage had all the
requisites for validity.
Finally, although the accused claims that he took steps to verify the non-existence of the first marriage to Villareyes by requesting his
brother to validate such purported non-existence, it is significant to note that the certifications issued by the National Statistics Office
and the City Civil Registry of Manila are dated October 7, 1995 and February 3, 1997, respectively. Both documents, therefore, are
dated after the accuseds marriage to his second wife, private respondent in this case.
As such, this Court rules that there was sufficient evidence presented by the prosecution to prove the first and second requisites for
the crime of bigamy.
The second tier of petitioners defense hinges on the effects of the subsequent judicial declaration
20
of the nullity of the second
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity.
Petitioner argues that this subsequent judicial declaration retroacts to the date of the celebration of the marriage to Ancajas. As such,
he argues that, since his marriage to Ancajas was subsequently declared void ab initio, the crime of bigamy was not committed.
21

This argument is not impressed with merit.
Petitioner makes much of the judicial declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity,
invoking Article 36 of the Family Code. What petitioner fails to realize is that a declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the
ground of psychological incapacity is of absolutely no moment insofar as the States penal laws are concerned.
As a second or subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of petitioners valid marriage to Villareyes, petitioners
marriage to Ancajas would be null and void ab initio completely regardless of petitioners psychological capacity or incapacity.
22
Since
a marriage contracted during the subsistence of a valid marriage is automatically void, the nullity of this second marriage is not per se
an argument for the avoidance of criminal liability for bigamy. Pertinently, Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code criminalizes "any
person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the
absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings". A plain reading
of the law, therefore, would indicate that the provision penalizes the mere act of contracting a second or a subsequent marriage
during the subsistence of a valid marriage.
Thus, as soon as the second marriage to Ancajas was celebrated on April 10, 1990, during the subsistence of the valid first marriage,
the crime of bigamy had already been consummated. To our mind, there is no cogent reason for distinguishing between a
subsequent marriage that is null and void purely because it is a second or subsequent marriage, and a subsequent marriage that is
null and void on the ground of psychological incapacity, at least insofar as criminal liability for bigamy is concerned. The States penal
laws protecting the institution of marriage are in recognition of the sacrosanct character of this special contract between spouses, and
punish an individuals deliberate disregard of the permanent character of the special bond between spouses, which petitioner has
undoubtedly done.
Moreover, the declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity is not an indicator that
petitioners marriage to Ancajas lacks the essential requisites for validity. The requisites for the validity of a marriage are classified by
the Family Code into essential (legal capacity of the contracting parties and their consent freely given in the presence of the
solemnizing officer)
23
and formal (authority of the solemnizing officer, marriage license, and marriage ceremony wherein the parties
personally declare their agreement to marry before the solemnizing officer in the presence of at least two witnesses).
24
Under Article
5 of the Family Code, any male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments mentioned in
Articles 37
25
and 38
26
may contract marriage.
27

In this case, all the essential and formal requisites for the validity of marriage were satisfied by petitioner and Ancajas. Both were
over eighteen years of age, and they voluntarily contracted the second marriage with the required license before Judge Alfredo B.
Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City, in the presence of at least two witnesses.
Although the judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity retroacts to the date of the
celebration of the marriage insofar as the vinculum between the spouses is concerned, it is significant to note that said marriage is
not without legal effects. Among these effects is that children conceived or born before the judgment of absolute nullity of the
marriage shall be considered legitimate.
28
There is therefore a recognition written into the law itself that such a marriage, although
void ab initio, may still produce legal consequences. Among these legal consequences is incurring criminal liability for bigamy. To
hold otherwise would render the States penal laws on bigamy completely nugatory, and allow individuals to deliberately ensure that
each marital contract be flawed in some manner, and to thus escape the consequences of contracting multiple marriages, while
beguiling throngs of hapless women with the promise of futurity and commitment.
As such, we rule that the third and fourth requisites for the crime of bigamy are present in this case, and affirm the judgment of the
Court of Appeals.
As a final point, we note that based on the evidence on record, petitioner contracted marriage a third time, while his marriages to
Villareyes and Ancajas were both still subsisting. Although this is irrelevant in the determination of the accuseds guilt for purposes of
this particular case, the act of the accused displays a deliberate disregard for the sanctity of marriage, and the State does not look
kindly on such activities. Marriage is a special contract, the key characteristic of which is its permanence. When an individual
manifests a deliberate pattern of flouting the foundation of the States basic social institution, the States criminal laws on bigamy step
in.
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the penalty for the crime of bigamy is prision mayor, which has a duration
of six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years. There being neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, the same shall be
imposed in its medium period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, petitioner shall be entitled to a minimum term, to be taken
from the penalty next lower in degree, i.e., prision correccional which has a duration of six (6) months and one (1) day to six (6)
years. Hence, the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the decision of the trial court which sentenced petitioner to suffer an
indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of
prision mayor, as maximum.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition for review is DENIED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR No. 21636, convicting petitioner Veronico Tenebro of the crime of Bigamy and sentencing him to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of
prision mayor, as maximum, is AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Puno, J., join the opinion of J. Vitug.
Vitug, J., see separate opinion.
Quisumbing, J., join the dissent in view of void nuptia.
Carpio, J., see dissenting opinion.
Austria-Martinez, J., join the dissent of J. Carpio.
Carpio-Morales, J., join the dissent of J. Carpio.
Tinga, J., join the dissent of J. Carpio.
Callejo, Sr., J., see separate dissent.

SEPARATE OPINION>
VITUG, J .:
Veronico Tenebro has been charged with bigamy for contracting, while still being married to Hilda Villareyes, a second marriage with
private complainant Leticia Ancajas. Tenebro argues that since his second marriage with Ancajas has ultimately been declared void
ab initio on the ground of the latters psychological incapacity, he should be acquitted for the crime of bigamy.
The offense of bigamy is committed when one contracts "a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been
legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper
proceedings".
1
Bigamy presupposes a valid prior marriage and a subsequent marriage, contracted during the subsistence of the prior
union, which would have been binding were it not for its being bigamous.
Would the absolute nullity of either the first or the second marriage, prior to its judicial declaration as being void, constitute a valid
defense in a criminal action for bigamy?
I believe that, except for a void marriage on account of the psychological incapacity of a party or both parties to the marriage under
Article 36 of the Family Code (as so hereinafter explained), the answer must be in the affirmative. Void marriages are inexistent from
the very beginning, and no judicial decree is required to establish their nullity.
2
As early as the case of People vs. Aragon
3
this Court
has underscored the fact that the Revised Penal Code itself does not, unlike the rule then prevailing in Spain, require the judicial
declaration of nullity of a prior void marriage before it can be raised by way of a defense in a criminal case for bigamy. Had the law
contemplated otherwise, said the Court, " an express provision to that effect would or should have been inserted in the law, (but that
in) its absence, (the courts) are bound by (the) rule of strict interpretation" of penal statutes. In contrast to a voidable marriage which
legally exists until judicially annulled (and, therefore, not a defense in a bigamy charge if the second marriage were contracted prior
to the decree of annulment)
4
the complete nullity, however, of a previously contracted marriage, being void ab initio and legally
inexistent, can outrightly be defense in an indictment of bigamy.
It has been held that, by virtue of Article 40 of the Family Code, a person may be convicted of bigamy although the first marriage is
ultimately adjudged void ab initio if, at the time the second marriage is contracted, there has as yet no judicial declaration of nullity of
the prior marriage.
5
I maintain strong reservations to this ruling. Article 40 of the Family Code reads:
"Article 40. The absolute nullity of the previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of the final
judgment declaring such previous marriage void."
It is only "for purpose of remarriage" that the law has expressed that the absolute nullity of the previous marriage may be invoked "on
the basis solely of the final judgment declaring such previous marriage void." It may not be amiss to state that under the regime of the
Civil Code of 1950, the Supreme Court, in Wiegel vs. Judge Sempio-Diy,
6
has held that a subsequent marriage of one of the spouses
of a prior void marriage is itself (the subsequent marriage) void if it were contracted before a judicial declaration of nullity of the
previous marriage. Although this pronouncement has been abandoned in a later decision of the court in Yap vs. Court of
Appeals,
7
the Family Code, however has seen it fit to adopt the Wiegel rule but only for purpose of remarriage which is just to say
that the subsequent marriage shall itself be considered void. There is no clear indication to conclude that the Family Code has
amended or intended to amend the Revised penal Code or to abandon the settled and prevailing jurisprudence on the matter.
8

A void marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code is a class by itself. The provision has been from Canon law primarily to reconcile
the grounds for nullity of marriage under civil law with those of church laws.
9
The "psychological incapacity to comply" with the
essential marital obligations of the spouses is completely distinct from other grounds for nullity which are confined to the essential or
formal requisites of a marriage, such as lack of legal capacity or disqualification of the contracting parties, want of consent, absence
of a marriage license, or the like.
The effects of a marriage attended by psychological incapacity of a party or the parties thereto may be said to have the earmarks of a
voidable, more than a void, marriage, remaining to be valid until it is judicially decreed to be a nullity. Thus, Article 54 of the Family
Code considers children conceived or born of such a void marriage before its judicial declaration of nullity to be legitimate similar to
the rule on a voidable marriage. It is expected, even as I believe it safe to assume, that the spouses rights and obligations, property
regime and successional rights would continue unaffected, as if it were a voidable marriage, unless and until the marriage is judicially
declared void for basically two reasons: First, psychological incapacity, a newly-added ground for the nullity of a marriage under the
Family Code, breaches neither the essential nor the formal requisites of a valid marriages;
10
and second, unlike the other grounds for
nullity of marriage (i.e., relationship, minority of the parties, lack of license, mistake in the identity of the parties) which are capable of
relatively easy demonstration, psychological incapacity, however, being a mental state, may not so readily be as evident.
11
It would
have been logical for the Family Code to consider such a marriage explicitly voidable rather than void if it were not for apparent
attempt to make it closely coincide with the Canon Law rules and nomenclature.
Indeed, a void marriage due to psychological incapacity appears to merely differ from a voidable marriage in that, unlike the latter, it
is not convalidated by either cohabitation or prescription. It might be recalled that prior to republic Act No. 8533, further amending the
Family Code, an action or defense of absolute nullity of marriage falling under Article 36, celebrated before the effectivity of the Code,
could prescribe in ten years following the effectivity of the Family Code. The initial provision of the ten-year period of prescription
seems to betray a real consciousness by the framers that marriages falling under Article 36 are truly meant to be inexistent.
Considerations, both logical and practical, would point to the fact that a "void" marriage due to psychological incapacity remains, for
all intents and purposes, to be binding and efficacious until judicially declared otherwise. Without such marriage having first been
declared a nullity (or otherwise dissolved), a subsequent marriage could constitute bigamy. Thus, a civil case questioning the validity
of the first marriage would not be a prejudicial issue much in the same way that a civil case assailing a prior "voidable" marriage
(being valid until annulled) would not be a prejudicial question to the prosecution of a criminal offense for bigamy.
In cases where the second marriage is void on grounds other than the existence of the first marriage, this Court has declared in a line
of cases that no crime of bigamy is committed.
12
The Court has explained that for a person to be held guilty of bigamy, it must, even
as it needs only, be shown that the subsequent marriage has all the essential elements of a valid marriage, were it not for the
subsisting first union. Hence, where it is established that the second marriage has been contracted without the necessary license and
thus void,
13
or that the accused is merely forced to enter into the second (voidable) marriage,
14
no criminal liability for the crime of
bigamy can attach. In both and like instances, however, the lapses refers to the elements required for contracting a valid marriage. If,
then, all the requisites for the perfection of the contract marriage, freely and voluntarily entered into, are shown to be extant, the
criminal liability for bigamy can unassailably arise.
Since psychological incapacity, upon the other hand, does not relate to an infirmity in the elements, either essential or
formal, in contacting a valid marriage, the declaration of nullity subsequent to the bigamous marriage due to that ground,
without more, would be inconsequential in a criminal charge for bigamy. The judicial declaration of nullity of a bigamous
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity merely nullifies the effects of the marriage but it does not negate the fact
of perfection of the bigamous marriage. Its subsequent declaration of nullity dissolves the relationship of the spouses but, being
alien to the requisite conditions for the perfection of the marriage, the judgment of the court is no defense on the part of the offender
who had entered into it.
Accordingly, I vote to dismiss the petition.

Footnotes
1
TSN, 24 July 1995, pp. 4-11.
2
Record, p. 78.
3
Record, p. 84.
4
TSN, 24 July 1995, pp. 11-12; TSN, 13 September 1995, pp. 6-9.
5
Record, pp. 1-2.
6
Id., p. 66.
7
TSN, 11 December 1996, p. 6.
8
Id., pp. 6-7.
9
Id., pp. 7-8.
10
Penned by Judge Rumoldo F. Fernandez, Rollo, pp. 156-162.
11
Rollo, p. 7.
12
Reyes, L.B., THE REVISED PENAL CODE. Book Two, 14th ed., 1998, p. 907.
13
Rollo, pp. 7-16.
14
Id., pp. 16-18.
15
Record, p. 85.
16
Record, p. 84.
17
Record, p. 148.
18
Record, p. 149.
19
Mariategui v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 57062, 24 January 1992, 205 SCRA 337, 343, citing People v. Borromeo,
218 Phil. 122, 126.
20
Decision dated November 20, 1995, penned by Judge Epifanio C. Llano of the Regional Trial Court of Argao, Cebu,
Branch 26, in Civil Case No. AV-885 (Annex "C", Rollo, p. 43).
21
Record, pp. 16-18.
22
Family Code, Art. 41.
23
Family Code, Art. 2.
24
Family Code, Art. 3; Vitug, Civil Law and Jurisprudence, 1993 Edition, pp. 119-120, citing the Family Code, Articles
2 and 3.
25
Art. 37. Marriages between the following are incestuous and void from the beginning, whether the relationship
between the parties be legitimate or illegitimate:
(1) Between ascendants and descendants of any degree; and
(2) Between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half-blood.
26
Art. 38. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning for reasons of public policy:
(1) Between collateral blood relatives; whether legitimate or illegitimate, up to the fourth civil degree;
(2) Between step-parents and stepchildren;
(3) Between parents-in-law and children-in-law;
(4) Between the adopting parent and the adopted child;
(5) Between the surviving spouse of the adopting parent and the adopted child;
(6) Between the surviving spouse of the adopted child and the adopter;
(7) Between an adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter;
(8) Between adopted children of the same adopter; and
(9) Between parties where one, with the intention to marry the other, killed that other persons spouse or his or
her own spouse.
27
Valdez v. Regional Trial Court, Branch 102, Quezon City, G.R. No. 122749, 31 July 1996.
28
Family Code, Art. 54.

VITUG,
1
Article 349, Revised Penal Code.
2
Odayat vs. Amante, 77 SCRA 338; see also People vs Aragon, 100 Phil. 1033.
3
100 Phil 1033.
4
See People vs. Mendoza, 50 O.G. 4767.
5
Mercado vs. Tan, 337 SCRA 122; Te vs. Court of Appeals, 346 SCRA 327.
6
143 SCRA 499.
7
145 SCRA 229.
8
I might add, parenthetically, that the necessity of a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage even for purposes
of remarriage should refer merely to cases when it can be said that the marriage, at least ostensibly, has taken place.
For instance, no such judicial declaration of nullity would yet be required when either or both parties have not at all
given consent thereto that verily results in a "no" marriage situation or when the prior "marriage" is between persons
of the same sex.
9
Deliberations of the family Code Revision Committee, 9 August 1996.
10
Art. 2. No marriage shall be valid, unless these essential requisites are present:
(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and
(2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer. (53a)
Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:
(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;
(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and
(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the
solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take other as husband and wife in the
presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age. (53a, 55a)
Art. 4. The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio, except
as stated in Article 35(2).
A defect in any of the essential requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the party or parties
responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and administratively liable. (n)
11
One might observe that insanity, which could be worse than psychological incapacity merely renders a marriage
voidable, not void.
12
De la cruz vs. Hon. Ejercito, G.R. No. L-40895, 6 November 1975, 68 SCRA 1; Merced vs. Hon. Diez, et. Al., 109
Phil 155; Zapanta vs. hon. Montessa, et. al., 144 Phil. 1227; People vs. Mora Dumpo, 62 Phil 246; People vs. Lara,
51 O. G. 4079.
13
People vs. Lara, supra.
14
De la Cruz vs. Hon. Ejercito, supra; Merced vs. Hon. Diez, supra.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation


Civil Law Family Code Bigamy Exists even if one marriage is declared void
Tenebro contracted marriage with Ancajas in 1990. The two lived together continuously and without
interruption until the latter part of 1991, when Tenebro informed Ancajas that he had been previously
married to a certain Hilda Villareyes in 1986. Petitioner thereafter left the conjugal dwelling which he
shared with Ancajas, stating that he was going to cohabit with Villareyes. In 1993, petitioner
contracted yet another marriage with a certain Nilda Villegas. Ancajas thereafter filed a complaint for
bigamy against petitioner. Villegas countered that his marriage with Villareyes cannot be proven as a
fact there being no record of such. He further argued that his second marriage, with Ancajas, has
been declared void ab initio due to psychological incapacity. Hence he cannot be charged for
bigamy.
ISSUE: Whether or not Tenebro is guilty of bigamy.
HELD: The prosecution was able to establish the validity of the first marriage. As a second or
subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of petitioners valid marriage to Villareyes,
petitioners marriage to Ancajas would be null and void ab initio completely regardless of petitioners
psychological capacity or incapacity. Since a marriage contracted during the subsistence of a valid
marriage is automatically void, the nullity of this second marriage is not per se an argument for the
avoidance of criminal liability for bigamy. Pertinently, Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code
criminalizes any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former
marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively
dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings. A plain reading of the law,
therefore, would indicate that the provision penalizes the mere act of contracting a second or a
subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage.
Read full text here.
Separate Opinion of Justice Vitug
Justice Vitug pointed out that void ab initio marriages (except those falling under the principle of
psychological incapacity) should be allowed to be used as a valid defense for bigamy. Void ab initio
marriages require no judicial decree to establish their nullity. It is true that the Revised Penal Code
does not require the first or second marriage to be declared void to avoid a criminal case of
bigamy but this should only be applicable to voidable marriages - because again, void ab initio
marriages really do not need such judicial decree.


SEPARATE OPINION
VITUG, J.:
Veronico Tenebro has been charged with bigamy for contracting, while still being married to Hilda
Villareyes, a second marriage with private complainant Leticia Ancajas. Tenebro argues that since
his second marriage with Ancajas has ultimately been declared void ab initio on the ground of the
latters psychological incapacity, he should be acquitted for the crime of bigamy.
The offense of bigamy is committed when one contracts a second or subsequent marriage before
the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared
presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.
1
Bigamy
presupposes a valid prior marriage and a subsequent marriage, contracted during the subsistence of
the prior union, which would have been binding were it not for its being bigamous.
Would the absolute nullity of either the first or the second marriage, prior to its judicial declaration as
being void, constitute a valid defense in a criminal action for bigamy?
I believe that, except for a void marriage on account of the psychological incapacity of a party or
both parties to the marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code (as so hereinafter explained), the
answer must be in the affirmative. Void marriages are inexistent from the very beginning, and no
judicial decree is required to establish their nullity.
2
As early as the case of People vs. Aragon
3
this
Court has underscored the fact that the Revised Penal Code itself does not, unlike the rule then
prevailing in Spain, require the judicial declaration of nullity of a prior void marriage before it can be
raised by way of a defense in a criminal case for bigamy. Had the law contemplated otherwise, said
the Court, an express provision to that effect would or should have been inserted in the law, (but
that in) its absence, (the courts) are bound by (the) rule of strict interpretation of penal statutes. In
contrast to a voidable marriage which legally exists until judicially annulled (and, therefore, not a
defense in a bigamy charge if the second marriage were contracted prior to the decree of
annulment)
4
the complete nullity, however, of a previously contracted marriage, being void ab initio
and legally inexistent, can outrightly be defense in an indictment of bigamy.
It has been held that, by virtue of Article 40 of the Family Code, a person may be convicted of
bigamy although the first marriage is ultimately adjudged void ab initio if, at the time the second
marriage is contracted, there has as yet no judicial declaration of nullity of the prior marriage.
5
I
maintain strong reservations to this ruling. Article 40 of the Family Code reads:
Article 40. The absolute nullity of the previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage
on the basis solely of the final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
It is only for purpose of remarriage that the law has expressed that the absolute nullity of the
previous marriage may be invoked on the basis solely of the final judgment declaring such previous
marriage void. It may not be amiss to state that under the regime of the Civil Code of 1950, the
Supreme Court, in Wiegel vs. Judge Sempio-Diy,
6
has held that a subsequent marriage of one of the
spouses of a prior void marriage is itself (the subsequent marriage) void if it were contracted before
a judicial declaration of nullity of the previous marriage. Although this pronouncement has been
abandoned in a later decision of the court in Yap vs. Court of Appeals,
7
the Family Code, however
has seen it fit to adopt the Wiegel rule but only for purpose of remarriage which is just to say that the
subsequent marriage shall itself be considered void. There is no clear indication to conclude that the
Family Code has amended or intended to amend the Revised penal Code or to abandon the settled
and prevailing jurisprudence on the matter.
8

A void marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code is a class by itself. The provision has been from
Canon law primarily to reconcile the grounds for nullity of marriage under civil law with those of
church laws.
9
The psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations of the
spouses is completely distinct from other grounds for nullity which are confined to the essential or
formal requisites of a marriage, such as lack of legal capacity or disqualification of the contracting
parties, want of consent, absence of a marriage license, or the like.
The effects of a marriage attended by psychological incapacity of a party or the parties thereto may
be said to have the earmarks of a voidable, more than a void, marriage, remaining to be valid until it
is judicially decreed to be a nullity. Thus, Article 54 of the Family Code considers children conceived
or born of such a void marriage before its judicial declaration of nullity to be legitimate similar to the
rule on a voidable marriage. It is expected, even as I believe it safe to assume, that the spouses
rights and obligations, property regime and successional rights would continue unaffected, as if it
were a voidable marriage, unless and until the marriage is judicially declared void for basically two
reasons: First, psychological incapacity, a newly-added ground for the nullity of a marriage under the
Family Code, breaches neither the essential nor the formal requisites of a valid marriages;
10
and
second, unlike the other grounds for nullity of marriage (i.e., relationship, minority of the parties, lack
of license, mistake in the identity of the parties) which are capable of relatively easy demonstration,
psychological incapacity, however, being a mental state, may not so readily be as evident.
11
It would
have been logical for the Family Code to consider such a marriage explicitly voidable rather than
void if it were not for apparent attempt to make it closely coincide with the Canon Law rules and
nomenclature.
Indeed, a void marriage due to psychological incapacity appears to merely differ from a voidable
marriage in that, unlike the latter, it is not convalidated by either cohabitation or prescription. It might
be recalled that prior to republic Act No. 8533, further amending the Family Code, an action or
defense of absolute nullity of marriage falling under Article 36, celebrated before the effectivity of the
Code, could prescribe in ten years following the effectivity of the Family Code. The initial provision of
the ten-year period of prescription seems to betray a real consciousness by the framers that
marriages falling under Article 36 are truly meant to be inexistent.
Considerations, both logical and practical, would point to the fact that a void marriage due to
psychological incapacity remains, for all intents and purposes, to be binding and efficacious until
judicially declared otherwise. Without such marriage having first been declared a nullity (or otherwise
dissolved), a subsequent marriage could constitute bigamy. Thus, a civil case questioning the
validity of the first marriage would not be a prejudicial issue much in the same way that a civil case
assailing a prior voidable marriage (being valid until annulled) would not be a prejudicial question to
the prosecution of a criminal offense for bigamy.
In cases where the second marriage is void on grounds other than the existence of the first
marriage, this Court has declared in a line of cases that no crime of bigamy is committed.
12
The Court
has explained that for a person to be held guilty of bigamy, it must, even as it needs only, be shown
that the subsequent marriage has all the essential elements of a valid marriage, were it not for the
subsisting first union. Hence, where it is established that the second marriage has been contracted
without the necessary license and thus void,
13
or that the accused is merely forced to enter into the
second (voidable) marriage,
14
no criminal liability for the crime of bigamy can attach. In both and like
instances, however, the lapses refers to the elements required for contracting a valid marriage. If,
then, all the requisites for the perfection of the contract marriage, freely and voluntarily entered into,
are shown to be extant, the criminal liability for bigamy can unassailably arise.
Since psychological incapacity, upon the other hand, does not relate to an infirmity in the elements,
either essential or formal, in contacting a valid marriage, the declaration of nullity subsequent to the
bigamous marriage due to that ground, without more, would be inconsequential in a criminal charge for
bigamy. The judicial declaration of nullity of a bigamous marriage on the ground of psychological
incapacity merely nullifies the effects of the marriage but it does not negate the fact of perfection of
the bigamous marriage. Its subsequent declaration of nullity dissolves the relationship of the
spouses but, being alien to the requisite conditions for the perfection of the marriage, the judgment
of the court is no defense on the part of the offender who had entered into it.
Accordingly, I vote to dismiss the petition.
READ CASE DIGEST HERE.

Footnotes:
1
Article 349, Revised Penal Code.
2
Odayat vs. Amante, 77 SCRA 338; see also People vs Aragon, 100 Phil. 1033.
3
100 Phil 1033.
4
See People vs. Mendoza, 50 O.G. 4767.
5
Mercado vs. Tan, 337 SCRA 122; Te vs. Court of Appeals, 346 SCRA 327.
6
143 SCRA 499.
7
145 SCRA 229.
8
I might add, parenthetically, that the necessity of a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage
even for purposes of remarriage should refer merely to cases when it can be said that the marriage,
at least ostensibly, has taken place. For instance, no such judicial declaration of nullity would yet be
required when either or both parties have not at all given consent thereto that verily results in a no
marriage situation or when the prior marriage is between persons of the same sex.
9
Deliberations of the family Code Revision Committee, 9 August 1996.
10
Art. 2. No marriage shall be valid, unless these essential requisites are present:
(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and
(2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer. (53a)
Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:
(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;
(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and
(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the
solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take other as husband and wife in the
presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age. (53a, 55a)
Art. 4. The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab
initio, except as stated in Article 35(2).
A defect in any of the essential requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the party or
parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and administratively liable. (n)
11
One might observe that insanity, which could be worse than psychological incapacity merely
renders a marriage voidable, not void.
12
De la cruz vs. Hon. Ejercito, G.R. No. L-40895, 6 November 1975, 68 SCRA 1; Merced vs. Hon.
Diez, et. Al., 109 Phil 155; Zapanta vs. hon. Montessa, et. al., 144 Phil. 1227; People vs. Mora
Dumpo, 62 Phil 246; People vs. Lara, 51 O. G. 4079.
13
People vs. Lara, supra.
14
De la Cruz vs. Hon. Ejercito, supra; Merced vs. Hon. Diez, supra.


SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 145226. February 06, 2004]
LUCIO MORIGO y CACHO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
QUISUMBING, J .:
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the decision
[1]
dated October
21, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, which affirmed the
judgment
[2]
dated August 5, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bohol, Branch 4,
in Criminal Case No. 8688. The trial court found herein petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy and sentenced him to a prison term of seven
(7) months of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision
mayor as maximum. Also assailed in this petition is the resolution
[3]
of the appellate
court, dated September 25, 2000, denying Morigos motion for reconsideration.
The facts of this case, as found by the court a quo, are as follows:
Appellant Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete were boardmates at the house of Catalina
Tortor at Tagbilaran City, Province of Bohol, for a period of four (4) years (from
1974-1978).
After school year 1977-78, Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete lost contact with each
other.
In 1984, Lucio Morigo was surprised to receive a card from Lucia Barrete from
Singapore. The former replied and after an exchange of letters, they became
sweethearts.
In 1986, Lucia returned to the Philippines but left again for Canada to work there.
While in Canada, they maintained constant communication.
In 1990, Lucia came back to the Philippines and proposed to petition appellant to join
her in Canada. Both agreed to get married, thus they were married on August 30, 1990
at the Iglesia de Filipina Nacional at Catagdaan, Pilar, Bohol.
On September 8, 1990, Lucia reported back to her work in Canada leaving appellant
Lucio behind.
On August 19, 1991, Lucia filed with the Ontario Court (General Division) a petition
for divorce against appellant which was granted by the court on January 17, 1992 and
to take effect on February 17, 1992.
On October 4, 1992, appellant Lucio Morigo married Maria Jececha Lumbago
[4]
at
the Virgen sa Barangay Parish, Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
On September 21, 1993, accused filed a complaint for judicial declaration of nullity of
marriage in the Regional Trial Court of Bohol, docketed as Civil Case No. 6020. The
complaint seek (sic) among others, the declaration of nullity of accuseds marriage
with Lucia, on the ground that no marriage ceremony actually took place.
On October 19, 1993, appellant was charged with Bigamy in an Information
[5]
filed by
the City Prosecutor of Tagbilaran [City], with the Regional Trial Court of Bohol.
[6]

The petitioner moved for suspension of the arraignment on the ground that the civil
case for judicial nullification of his marriage with Lucia posed a prejudicial question in
the bigamy case. His motion was granted, but subsequently denied upon motion for
reconsideration by the prosecution. When arraigned in the bigamy case, which was
docketed as Criminal Case No. 8688, herein petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Trial thereafter ensued.
On August 5, 1996, the RTC of Bohol handed down its judgment in Criminal Case
No. 8688, as follows:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court finds accused Lucio Morigo
y Cacho guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Bigamy and sentences him to
suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from Seven (7) Months of Prision
Correccional as minimum to Six (6) Years and One (1) Day ofPrision Mayor as
maximum.
SO ORDERED.
[7]

In convicting herein petitioner, the trial court discounted petitioners claim that his
first marriage to Lucia was null and void ab initio. Following Domingo v. Court of
Appeals,
[8]
the trial court ruled that want of a valid marriage ceremony is not a defense in
a charge of bigamy. The parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that
their marriage is void even if such be the fact but must first secure a judicial declaration
of the nullity of their marriage before they can be allowed to marry again.
Anent the Canadian divorce obtained by Lucia, the trial court cited Ramirez
v. Gmur,
[9]
which held that the court of a country in which neither of the spouses is
domiciled and in which one or both spouses may resort merely for the purpose of
obtaining a divorce, has no jurisdiction to determine the matrimonial status of the
parties. As such, a divorce granted by said court is not entitled to recognition anywhere.
Debunking Lucios defense of good faith in contracting the second marriage, the trial
court stressed that following People v. Bitdu,
[10]
everyone is presumed to know the law,
and the fact that one does not know that his act constitutes a violation of the law does
not exempt him from the consequences thereof.
Seasonably, petitioner filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-
G.R. CR No. 20700.
Meanwhile, on October 23, 1997, or while CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 was pending
before the appellate court, the trial court rendered a decision in Civil Case No. 6020
declaring the marriage between Lucio and Lucia void ab initio since no marriage
ceremony actually took place. No appeal was taken from this decision, which then
became final and executory.
On October 21, 1999, the appellate court decided CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 as
follows:
WHEREFORE, finding no error in the appealed decision, the same is hereby
AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.
[11]

In affirming the assailed judgment of conviction, the appellate court stressed that
the subsequent declaration of nullity of Lucios marriage to Lucia in Civil Case No. 6020
could not acquit Lucio. The reason is that what is sought to be punished by Article
349
[12]
of the Revised Penal Code is the act of contracting a second marriage before the
first marriage had been dissolved. Hence, the CA held, the fact that the first marriage
was void from the beginning is not a valid defense in a bigamy case.
The Court of Appeals also pointed out that the divorce decree obtained by Lucia
from the Canadian court could not be accorded validity in the Philippines, pursuant to
Article 15
[13]
of the Civil Code and given the fact that it is contrary to public policy in this
jurisdiction. Under Article 17
[14]
of the Civil Code, a declaration of public policy cannot be
rendered ineffectual by a judgment promulgated in a foreign jurisdiction.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the appellate courts decision, contending
that the doctrine in Mendiola v. People,
[15]
allows mistake upon a difficult question of law
(such as the effect of a foreign divorce decree) to be a basis for good faith.
On September 25, 2000, the appellate court denied the motion for lack of
merit.
[16]
However, the denial was by a split vote. The ponente of the appellate courts
original decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria, joined in the
opinion prepared by Justice Bernardo P. Abesamis. The dissent observed that as the
first marriage was validly declared void ab initio, then there was no first marriage to
speak of. Since the date of the nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage and since
herein petitioner was, in the eyes of the law, never married, he cannot be convicted
beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy.
The present petition raises the following issues for our resolution:
A.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY
THE RULE THAT IN CRIMES PENALIZED UNDER THE REVISED PENAL
CODE, CRIMINAL INTENT IS AN INDISPENSABLE REQUISITE.
COROLLARILY, WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
FAILING TO APPRECIATE [THE] PETITIONERS LACK OF CRIMINAL
INTENT WHEN HE CONTRACTED THE SECOND MARRIAGE.
B.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
THE RULING IN PEOPLE VS. BITDU (58 PHIL. 817) IS APPLICABLE TO THE
CASE AT BAR.
C.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY
THE RULE THAT EACH AND EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE FAVORING THE
INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED MUST BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT.
[17]

To our mind, the primordial issue should be whether or not petitioner committed
bigamy and if so, whether his defense of good faith is valid.
The petitioner submits that he should not be faulted for relying in good faith upon
the divorce decree of the Ontario court. He highlights the fact that he contracted the
second marriage openly and publicly, which a person intent upon bigamy would not be
doing. The petitioner further argues that his lack of criminal intent is material to a
conviction or acquittal in the instant case. The crime of bigamy, just like other felonies
punished under the Revised Penal Code, is mala in se, and hence, good faith and lack
of criminal intent are allowed as a complete defense. He stresses that there is a
difference between the intent to commit the crime and the intent to perpetrate the act.
Hence, it does not necessarily follow that his intention to contract a second marriage is
tantamount to an intent to commit bigamy.
For the respondent, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) submits that good
faith in the instant case is a convenient but flimsy excuse. The Solicitor General relies
upon our ruling in Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,
[18]
which held that bigamy can be successfully
prosecuted provided all the elements concur, stressing that under Article 40
[19]
of the
Family Code, a judicial declaration of nullity is a must before a party may re-marry.
Whether or not the petitioner was aware of said Article 40 is of no account as everyone
is presumed to know the law. The OSG counters that petitioners contention that he
was in good faith because he relied on the divorce decree of the Ontario court is
negated by his act of filing Civil Case No. 6020, seeking a judicial declaration of nullity
of his marriage to Lucia.
Before we delve into petitioners defense of good faith and lack of criminal intent, we
must first determine whether all the elements of bigamy are present in this case.
In Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,
[20]
we laid down the elements of bigamy thus:
(1) the offender has been legally married;
(2) the first marriage has not been legally dissolved, or in case his or her spouse is
absent, the absent spouse has not been judicially declared presumptively dead;
(3) he contracts a subsequent marriage; and
(4) the subsequent marriage would have been valid had it not been for the
existence of the first.
Applying the foregoing test to the instant case, we note that during the pendency of
CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, the RTC of Bohol Branch 1, handed down the following
decision in Civil Case No. 6020, to wit:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered decreeing the
annulment of the marriage entered into by petitioner Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete
on August 23, 1990 in Pilar, Bohol and further directing the Local Civil Registrar of
Pilar, Bohol to effect the cancellation of the marriage contract.
SO ORDERED.
[21]

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

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



[1]
Rollo, pp. 38-44. Penned by Associate Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria and concurred in by Associate
Justices Marina L. Buzon and Edgardo P. Cruz.
[2]
Records, pp. 114-119.
[3]
Rollo, pp. 46-58. Per Associate Justice Edgardo P. Cruz, with Associate Justices Cancio C. Garcia and
Marina L. Buzon, concurring and Eugenio S. Labitoria and Bernardo P. Abesamis, dissenting.
[4]
Her correct name is Maria Jececha Limbago (Italics for emphasis). See Exh. B, the copy of their
marriage contract. Records, p. 10.
[5]
The accusatory portion of the charge sheet found in Records, p. 1, reads:
That, on or about the 4
th
day of October, 1992, in the City of Tagbilaran, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused being previously united
in lawful marriage with Lucia Barrete on August 23, 1990 and without the said marriage having
been legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second
marriage with Maria Jececha Limbago to the damage and prejudice of Lucia Barrete in the
amount to be proved during trial.
Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.
[6]
Rollo, pp. 38-40.
[7]
Records, p. 119.
[8]
G.R. No. 104818, 17 September 1993, 226 SCRA 572.
[9]
42 Phil. 855, 863 (1918).
[10]
58 Phil. 817 (1933).
[11]
Rollo, p. 43.
[12]
ART. 349. Bigamy. The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall
contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved,
or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment
rendered in the proper proceedings.
[13]
Art. 15. Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of
persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.
[14]
Art. 17. The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other public instruments shall be governed
by the laws of the country in which they are executed.
When the acts referred to are executed before the diplomatic or consular officials of the
Republic of the Philippines in a foreign country, the solemnities established by Philippine laws
shall be observed in their execution.
Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their
object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or
judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.
[15]
G.R. Nos. 89983-84, 6 March 1992, 207 SCRA 85.
[16]
Rollo, p. 51.
[17]
Id. at 20-21.
[18]
G.R. No. 138509, 31 July 2000, 336 SCRA 747, 752-753.
[19]
Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the
basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
[20]
Supra.
[21]
CA Rollo, p. 38.
[22]
Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:
(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;
(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and
(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties
before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as
husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.
[23]
Art. 4. The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab
initio, except as stated in Article 35 (2).
A defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage voidable as provided in
Article 45.
An irregularity in the formal requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the
party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and administratively
liable.
[24]
Rollo, p. 54.
[25]
G.R. No. 137110, 1 August 2000, 337 SCRA 122.
[26]
Id. at 124.

Morigo vs People
Morigo vs. People
GR No. 145226, February 6, 2004

FACTS:

Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete were boardmates in Bohol. They lost contacts for a while but after
receiving a card from Barrete and various exchanges of letters, they became sweethearts. They got
married in 1990. Barrete went back to Canada for work and in 1991 she filed petition for divorce in
Ontario Canada, which was granted. In 1992, Morigo married Lumbago. He subsequently filed a
complaint for judicial declaration of nullity on the ground that there was no marriage ceremony.
Morigo was then charged with bigamy and moved for a suspension of arraignment since the civil
case pending posed a prejudicial question in the bigamy case. Morigo pleaded not guilty claiming
that his marriage with Barrete was void ab initio. Petitioner contented he contracted second marriage
in good faith.

ISSUE: Whether Morigo must have filed declaration for the nullity of his marriage with Barrete
before his second marriage in order to be free from the bigamy case.

HELD:

Morigos marriage with Barrete is void ab initio considering that there was no actual marriage
ceremony performed between them by a solemnizing officer instead they just merely signed a
marriage contract. The petitioner does not need to file declaration of the nullity of his marriage when
he contracted his second marriage with Lumbago. Hence, he did not commit bigamy and is acquitted
in the case filed.