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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 112019 January 4, 1995


LEOUEL SANTOS, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND JULIA ROSARIO BEDIA-SANTOS, respondents.

VITUG, J.:
Concededly a highly, if not indeed the most likely, controversial provision introduced by the Family Code is
Article 36 (as amended by E.O. No. 227 dated 17 July 1987), which declares:
Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage,
shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
The present petition for review on certiorari, at the instance of Leouel Santos ("Leouel"), brings into
fore the above provision which is now invoked by him. Undaunted by the decisions of the court a
quo 1 and the Court of Appeal, 2 Leouel persists in beseeching its application in his attempt to have

his marriage with herein private respondent, Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos ("Julia"), declared a
nullity.
It was in Iloilo City where Leouel, who then held the rank of First Lieutenant in the Philippine Army, first met
Julia. The meeting later proved to be an eventful day for Leouel and Julia. On 20 September 1986, the two
exchanged vows before Municipal Trial Court Judge Cornelio G. Lazaro of Iloilo City, followed, shortly
thereafter, by a church wedding. Leouel and Julia lived with the latter's parents at the J. Bedia Compound, La
Paz, Iloilo City. On 18 July 1987, Julia gave birth to a baby boy, and he was christened Leouel Santos, Jr. The
ecstasy, however, did not last long. It was bound to happen, Leouel averred, because of the frequent
interference by Julia's parents into the young spouses family affairs. Occasionally, the couple would also start a
"quarrel" over a number of other things, like when and where the couple should start living independently from
Julia's parents or whenever Julia would express resentment on Leouel's spending a few days with his own
parents.
On 18 May 1988, Julia finally left for the United Sates of America to work as a nurse despite Leouel's pleas to
so dissuade her. Seven months after her departure, or on 01 January 1989, Julia called up Leouel for the first
time by long distance telephone. She promised to return home upon the expiration of her contract in July 1989.
She never did. When Leouel got a chance to visit the United States, where he underwent a training program
under the auspices of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from 01 April up to 25 August 1990, he desperately
tried to locate, or to somehow get in touch with, Julia but all his efforts were of no avail.

Having failed to get Julia to somehow come home, Leouel filed with the regional trial Court of Negros Oriental,
Branch 30, a complaint for "Voiding of marriage Under Article 36 of the Family Code" (docketed, Civil Case No.
9814). Summons was served by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in Negros Oriental.
On 31 May 1991, respondent Julia, in her answer (through counsel), opposed the complaint and denied its
allegations, claiming, in main, that it was the petitioner who had, in fact, been irresponsible and incompetent.
A possible collusion between the parties to obtain a decree of nullity of their marriage was ruled out by the
Office of the Provincial Prosecutor (in its report to the court).
On 25 October 1991, after pre-trial conferences had repeatedly been set, albeit unsuccessfully, by the court,
Julia ultimately filed a manifestation, stating that she would neither appear nor submit evidence.
On 06 November 1991, the court a quo finally dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. 3
Leouel appealed to the Court of Appeal. The latter affirmed the decision of the trial court. 4
The petition should be denied not only because of its non-compliance with Circular 28-91, which requires a
certification of non-shopping, but also for its lack of merit.
Leouel argues that the failure of Julia to return home, or at the very least to communicate with him, for more
than five years are circumstances that clearly show her being psychologically incapacitated to enter into
married life. In his own words, Leouel asserts:
. . . (T)here is no leave, there is no affection for (him) because respondent Julia Rosario
Bedia-Santos failed all these years to communicate with the petitioner. A wife who does not
care to inform her husband about her whereabouts for a period of five years, more or less, is
psychologically incapacitated.
The family Code did not define the term "psychological incapacity." The deliberations during the sessions of the
Family Code Revision Committee, which has drafted the Code, can, however, provide an insight on the import
of the provision.
Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
xxx xxx xxx
Art. 36. . . .
(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was wanting
in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature of marriage or
was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations,
even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the celebration.
On subparagraph (7), which as lifted from the Canon Law, Justice (Jose B.L.) Reyes
suggested that they say "wanting in sufficient use," but Justice (Eduardo) Caguioa preferred to
say "wanting in the sufficient use." On the other hand, Justice Reyes proposed that they say
"wanting in sufficient reason." Justice Caguioa, however, pointed out that the idea is that one
is not lacking in judgment but that he is lacking in the exercise of judgment. He added that
lack of judgment would make the marriage voidable. Judge (Alicia Sempio-) Diy remarked that

lack of judgment is more serious than insufficient use of judgment and yet the latter would
make the marriage null and void and the former only voidable. Justice Caguioa suggested that
subparagraph (7) be modified to read:
"That contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations,
even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the celebration."
Justice Caguioa explained that the phrase "was wanting in sufficient use of reason of
judgment to understand the essential nature of marriage" refers to defects in the mental
faculties vitiating consent, which is not the idea in subparagraph (7), but lack of appreciation
of one's marital obligations.
Judge Diy raised the question: Since "insanity" is also a psychological or mental incapacity,
why is "insanity" only a ground for annulment and not for declaration or nullity? In reply,
Justice Caguioa explained that in insanity, there is the appearance of consent, which is the
reason why it is a ground for voidable marriages, while subparagraph (7) does not refer to
consent but to the very essence of marital obligations.
Prof. (Araceli) Baviera suggested that, in subparagraph (7), the word "mentally" be deleted,
with which Justice Caguioa concurred. Judge Diy, however, prefers to retain the word
"mentally."
Justice Caguioa remarked that subparagraph (7) refers to psychological impotence. Justice
(Ricardo) Puno stated that sometimes a person may be psychologically impotent with one but
not with another. Justice (Leonor Ines-) Luciano said that it is called selective impotency.
Dean (Fortunato) Gupit stated that the confusion lies in the fact that in inserting the Canon
Law annulment in the Family Code, the Committee used a language which describes a
ground for voidable marriages under the Civil Code. Justice Caguioa added that in Canon
Law, there are voidable marriages under the Canon Law, there are no voidable marriages
Dean Gupit said that this is precisely the reason why they should make a distinction.
Justice Puno remarked that in Canon Law, the defects in marriage cannot be cured.
Justice Reyes pointed out that the problem is: Why is "insanity" a ground for void ab
initio marriages? In reply, Justice Caguioa explained that insanity is curable and there are
lucid intervals, while psychological incapacity is not.
On another point, Justice Puno suggested that the phrase "even if such lack or incapacity is
made manifest" be modified to read "even if such lack or incapacity becomes manifest."
Justice Reyes remarked that in insanity, at the time of the marriage, it is not apparent.
Justice Caguioa stated that there are two interpretations of the phrase "psychological or
mentally incapacitated" in the first one, there is vitiation of consent because one does not
know all the consequences of the marriages, and if he had known these completely, he might
not have consented to the marriage.
xxx xxx xxx

Prof. Bautista stated that he is in favor of making psychological incapacity a ground for
voidable marriages since otherwise it will encourage one who really understood the
consequences of marriage to claim that he did not and to make excuses for invalidating the
marriage by acting as if he did not understand the obligations of marriage. Dean Gupit added
that it is a loose way of providing for divorce.
xxx xxx xxx
Justice Caguioa explained that his point is that in the case of incapacity by reason of defects
in the mental faculties, which is less than insanity, there is a defect in consent and, therefore,
it is clear that it should be a ground for voidable marriage because there is the appearance of
consent and it is capable of convalidation for the simple reason that there are lucid intervals
and there are cases when the insanity is curable. He emphasized that psychological
incapacity does not refer to mental faculties and has nothing to do with consent; it refers to
obligations attendant to marriage.
xxx xxx xxx
On psychological incapacity, Prof. (Flerida Ruth P.) Romero inquired if they do not consider it
as going to the very essence of consent. She asked if they are really removing it from
consent. In reply, Justice Caguioa explained that, ultimately, consent in general is effected but
he stressed that his point is that it is not principally a vitiation of consent since there is a valid
consent. He objected to the lumping together of the validity of the marriage celebration and
the obligations attendant to marriage, which are completely different from each other, because
they require a different capacity, which is eighteen years of age, for marriage but in contract, it
is different. Justice Puno, however, felt that psychological incapacity is still a kind of vice of
consent and that it should not be classified as a voidable marriage which is incapable of
convalidation; it should be convalidated but there should be no prescription. In other words, as
long as the defect has not been cured, there is always a right to annul the marriage and if the
defect has been really cured, it should be a defense in the action for annulment so that when
the action for annulment is instituted, the issue can be raised that actually, although one might
have been psychologically incapacitated, at the time the action is brought, it is no longer true
that he has no concept of the consequence of marriage.
Prof. (Esteban) Bautista raised the question: Will not cohabitation be a defense? In response,
Justice Puno stated that even the bearing of children and cohabitation should not be a sign
that psychological incapacity has been cured.
Prof. Romero opined that psychological incapacity is still insanity of a lesser degree. Justice
Luciano suggested that they invite a psychiatrist, who is the expert on this matter. Justice
Caguioa, however, reiterated that psychological incapacity is not a defect in the mind but in
the understanding of the consequences of marriage, and therefore, a psychiatrist will not be a
help.
Prof. Bautista stated that, in the same manner that there is a lucid interval in insanity, there
are also momentary periods when there is an understanding of the consequences of
marriage. Justice Reyes and Dean Gupit remarked that the ground of psychological incapacity
will not apply if the marriage was contracted at the time when there is understanding of the
consequences of marriage. 5

xxx xxx xxx


Judge Diy proposed that they include physical incapacity to copulate among the grounds for
void marriages. Justice Reyes commented that in some instances the impotence that in some
instances the impotence is only temporary and only with respect to a particular person. Judge
Diy stated that they can specify that it is incurable. Justice Caguioa remarked that the term
"incurable" has a different meaning in law and in medicine. Judge Diy stated that
"psychological incapacity" can also be cured. Justice Caguioa, however, pointed out that
"psychological incapacity" is incurable.
Justice Puno observed that under the present draft provision, it is enough to show that at the
time of the celebration of the marriage, one was psychologically incapacitated so that later on
if already he can comply with the essential marital obligations, the marriage is still void ab
initio. Justice Caguioa explained that since in divorce, the psychological incapacity may occur
after the marriage, in void marriages, it has to be at the time of the celebration of marriage.
He, however, stressed that the idea in the provision is that at the time of the celebration of the
marriage, one is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations,
which incapacity continues and later becomes manifest.
Justice Puno and Judge Diy, however, pointed out that it is possible that after the marriage,
one's psychological incapacity become manifest but later on he is cured. Justice Reyes and
Justice Caguioa opined that the remedy in this case is to allow him to remarry. 6

xxx xxx xxx


Justice Puno formulated the next Article as follows:
Art. 37. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was psychologically incapacitated, to comply with the essential
obligations of marriage shall likewise be void from the beginning even if such
incapacity becomes manifest after its solemnization.
Justice Caguioa suggested that "even if" be substituted with "although." On the other hand,
Prof. Bautista proposed that the clause "although such incapacity becomes manifest after its
solemnization" be deleted since it may encourage one to create the manifestation of
psychological incapacity. Justice Caguioa pointed out that, as in other provisions, they cannot
argue on the basis of abuse.
Judge Diy suggested that they also include mental and physical incapacities, which are lesser
in degree than psychological incapacity. Justice Caguioa explained that mental and physical
incapacities are vices of consent while psychological incapacity is not a species of vice or
consent.
Dean Gupit read what Bishop Cruz said on the matter in the minutes of their February 9, 1984
meeting:
"On the third ground, Bishop Cruz indicated that the phrase "psychological or
mental impotence" is an invention of some churchmen who are moralists but
not canonists, that is why it is considered a weak phrase. He said that the

Code of Canon Law would rather express it as "psychological or mental


incapacity to discharge . . ."
Justice Caguioa remarked that they deleted the word "mental" precisely to distinguish it from
vice of consent. He explained that "psychological incapacity" refers to lack of understanding of
the essential obligations of marriage.
Justice Puno reminded the members that, at the last meeting, they have decided not to go
into the classification of "psychological incapacity" because there was a lot of debate on it and
that this is precisely the reason why they classified it as a special case.
At this point, Justice Puno, remarked that, since there having been annulments of marriages
arising from psychological incapacity, Civil Law should not reconcile with Canon Law because
it is a new ground even under Canon Law.
Prof. Romero raised the question: With this common provision in Civil Law and in Canon Law,
are they going to have a provision in the Family Code to the effect that marriages annulled or
declared void by the church on the ground of psychological incapacity is automatically
annulled in Civil Law? The other members replied negatively.
Justice Puno and Prof. Romero inquired if Article 37 should be retroactive or prospective in
application.
Justice Diy opined that she was for its retroactivity because it is their answer to the problem of
church annulments of marriages, which are still valid under the Civil Law. On the other hand,
Justice Reyes and Justice Puno were concerned about the avalanche of cases.
Dean Gupit suggested that they put the issue to a vote, which the Committee approved.
The members voted as follows:
(1) Justice Reyes, Justice Puno and Prof. Romero were for prospectivity.
(2) Justice Caguioa, Judge Diy, Dean Gupit, Prof. Bautista and Director Eufemio were for
retroactivity.
(3) Prof. Baviera abstained.
Justice Caguioa suggested that they put in the prescriptive period of ten years within which
the action for declaration of nullity of the marriage should be filed in court. The Committee
approved the suggestion. 7
It could well be that, in sum, the Family Code Revision Committee in ultimately deciding to adopt the provision
with less specificity than expected, has in fact, so designed the law as to allow some resiliency in its
application. Mme. Justice Alicia V. Sempio-Diy, a member of the Code Committee, has been quoted by Mr.
Justice Josue N. Bellosillo in Salita vs. Hon. Magtolis (G.R. No. 106429, 13 June 1994); thus: 8
The Committee did not give any examples of psychological incapacity for fear that the giving
of examples would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle of ejusdem
generis. Rather, the Committee would like the judge to interpret the provision on a case-to-

case basis, guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological
disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the civil
courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provision was taken from Canon Law.
A part of the provision is similar to Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law, 9 which reads:
Canon 1095. They are incapable of contracting marriage:
1. who lack sufficient use of reason;
2. who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning essentila matrimonial
rights and duties, to be given and accepted mutually;
3. who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the essential obligations of
marriage. (Emphasis supplied.)
Accordingly, although neither decisive nor even perhaps all that persuasive for having no juridical or secular
effect, the jurisprudence under Canon Law prevailing at the time of the code's enactment, nevertheless, cannot
be dismissed as impertinent for its value as an aid, at least, to the interpretation or construction of the codal
provision.
One author, Ladislas Orsy, S.J., in his treaties,

10

giving an account on how the third paragraph of Canon

1095 has been framed, states:


The history of the drafting of this canon does not leave any doubt that the legislator intended,
indeed, to broaden the rule. A strict and narrow norm was proposed first:
Those who cannot assume the essential obligations of marriage because of
a grave psycho-sexual anomaly (ob gravem anomaliam psychosexualem)
are unable to contract marriage (cf. SCH/1975, canon 297, a new canon,
novus);
then a broader one followed:
. . . because of a grave psychological anomaly (ob gravem anomaliam psychicam) . . .
(cf.SCH/1980, canon 1049);
then the same wording was retained in the text submitted to the pope (cf. SCH/1982, canon
1095, 3);
finally, a new version was promulgated:
because of causes of a psychological nature (ob causas naturae psychiae).
So the progress was from psycho-sexual to psychological anomaly, then the term anomaly
was altogether eliminated. it would be, however, incorrect to draw the conclusion that the
cause of the incapacity need not be some kind of psychological disorder; after all, normal and
healthy person should be able to assume the ordinary obligations of marriage.

Fr. Orsy concedes that the term "psychological incapacity" defies any precise definition since psychological
causes can be of an infinite variety.
In a book, entitled "Canons and Commentaries on Marriage," written by Ignatius Gramunt, Javier Hervada and
LeRoy Wauck, the following explanation appears:
This incapacity consists of the following: (a) a true inability to commit oneself to the essentials
of marriage. Some psychosexual disorders and other disorders of personality can be the
psychic cause of this defect, which is here described in legal terms. This particular type of
incapacity consists of a real inability to render what is due by the contract. This could be
compared to the incapacity of a farmer to enter a binding contract to deliver the crops which
he cannot possibly reap; (b) this inability to commit oneself must refer to the essential
obligations of marriage: the conjugal act, the community of life and love, the rendering of
mutual help, the procreation and education of offspring; (c) the inability must be tantamount to
a psychological abnormality. The mere difficulty of assuming these obligations, which could be
overcome by normal effort, obviously does not constitute incapacity. The canon contemplates
a true psychological disorder which incapacitates a person from giving what is due (cf. John
Paul II, Address to R. Rota, Feb. 5, 1987). However, if the marriage is to be declared invalid
under this incapacity, it must be proved not only that the person is afflicted by a psychological
defect, but that the defect did in fact deprive the person, at the moment of giving consent, of
the ability to assume the essential duties of marriage and consequently of the possibility of
being bound by these duties.
Justice Sempio-Diy 11 cites with approval the work of Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former Presiding Judge of the

Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (Branch 1), who opines that
psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c)
incurability. The incapacity must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying
out the ordinary duties required in marriage; it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the
marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and it must be incurable
or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.
It should be obvious, looking at all the foregoing disquisitions, including, and most importantly, the deliberations
of the Family Code Revision Committee itself, that the use of the phrase "psychological incapacity" under
Article 36 of the Code has not been meant to comprehend all such possible cases of psychoses as, likewise
mentioned by some ecclesiastical authorities, extremely low intelligence, immaturity, and like circumstances
(cited in Fr. Artemio Baluma's "Void and Voidable Marriages in the Family Code and their Parallels in Canon
Law," quoting from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder by the American Psychiatric
Association; Edward Hudson's "Handbook II for Marriage Nullity Cases"). Article 36 of the Family Code cannot
be taken and construed independently of, but must stand in conjunction with, existing precepts in our law on
marriage. Thus correlated, "psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a mental (not physical)
incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be
assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family
Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and
support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of
"psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter
intensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This pschologic condition must exist at
the time the marriage is celebrated. The law does not evidently envision, upon the other hand, an inability of
the spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article 54 of the Family
Code which considers children conceived prior to the judicial declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be
"legitimate."

The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a party being of unsound
mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the
marriage contract voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction, habitual alcholism, lesbianism
or homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become mere grounds for legal separation under
Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions of the Code, however, do not necessarily preclude the
possibility of these various circumstances being themselves, depending on the degree and severity of the
disorder, indicia of psychological incapacity.
Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are established, every circumstance that may have some
bearing on the degree, extent, and other conditions of that incapacity must, in every case, be carefully
examined and evaluated so that no precipitate and indiscriminate nullity is peremptorily decreed. The wellconsidered opinions of psychiatrists, psychologists, and persons with expertise in psychological disciplines
might be helpful or even desirable.
Marriage is not an adventure but a lifetime commitment. We should continue to be reminded that innate in our
society, then enshrined in our Civil Code, and even now still indelible in Article 1 of the Family Code, is that
Art. 1. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man a woman entered
into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is
the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences,
and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage
settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this
Code. (Emphasis supplied.)
Our Constitution is no less emphatic:
Sec. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it
shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.
Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be
protected by the State. (Article XV, 1987 Constitution).
The above provisions express so well and so distinctly the basic nucleus of our laws on marriage and the
family, and they are doubt the tenets we still hold on to.
The factual settings in the case at bench, in no measure at all, can come close to the standards required to
decree a nullity of marriage. Undeniably and understandably, Leouel stands aggrieved, even desperate, in his
present situation. Regrettably, neither law nor society itself can always provide all the specific answers to every
individual problem.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno Kapunan and Mendoza,
JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., is on leave.

Separate Opinions

PADILLA, J., dissenting:


It is difficult to dissent from a well-written and studied opinion as Mr. Justice Vitug's ponencia. But, after an
extended reflection on the facts of this case, I cannot see my way clear into holding, as the majority do, that
there is no ground for the declaration of nullity of the marriage between petitioner and private respondent.
To my mind, it is clear that private respondent has been shown to be psychologically incapacitated to comply
with at least one essential marital obligation, i.e. that of living and cohabiting with her husband, herein
petitioner. On the other hand, it has not been shown that petitioner does not deserve to live and cohabit with his
wife, herein private respondent.
There appears to be no disagreement that the term "psychological incapacity" defies precision in definition. But,
as used in Article 36 of the Family Code as a ground for the declaration of nullity of a marriage, the intent of the
framers of the Code is evidently to expand and liberalize the grounds for nullifying a marriage, as well pointed
out by Madam Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero in her separate opinion in this case.
While it is true that the board term "psychological incapacity" can open the doors to abuse by couples who may
wish to have an easy way out of their marriage, there are, however, enough safeguards against this
contingency, among which, is the intervention by the State, through the public prosecutor, to guard against
collusion between the parties and/or fabrication of evidence.
In their case at bench, it has been abundantly established that private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos
exhibits specific behavior which, to my mind, shows that she is psychologically incapacitated to fulfill her
essential marital obligations, to writ:
a. It took her seven (7) months after she left for the United States to call up her husband.
b. Julia promised to return home after her job contract expired in July 1989, but she never did
and neither is there any showing that she informed her husband (herein petitioner) of her
whereabouts in the U.S.A.
c. When petitioner went to the United States on a mission for the Philippine Army, he exerted
efforts to "touch base" with Julia; there were no similar efforts on the part of Julia; there were
no similar efforts on the part of Julia to do the same.
d. When petitioner filed this suit, more than five (5) years had elapsed, without Julia indicating
her plans to rejoin the petitioner or her whereabouts.
e. When petitioner filed this case in the trial court, Julia, in her answer, claimed that it is the
former who has been irresponsible and incompetent.
f. During the trial, Julia waived her right to appear and submit evidence.

A spouse's obligation to live and cohabit with his/her partner in marriage is a basic ground rule in marriage,
unless there are overpowering compelling reasons such as, for instance, an incurable contagious disease on
the part of a spouse or cruelty of one partner, bordering on insanity. There may also be instances when, for
economic and practical reasons, husband and wife have to live separately, but the marital bond between the
spouses always remains. Mutual love and respect for each other would, in such cases, compel the absent
spouse to at least have regular contracts with the other to inform the latter of his/her condition and
whereabouts.
In the present case, it is apparent that private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos has no intention of
cohabiting with petitioner, her husband, or maintaining contact with him. In fact, her acts eloquently show that
she does not want her husband to know of her whereabouts and neither has she any intention of living and
cohabiting with him.
To me there appears to be, on the part of private respondent, an unmistakeable indication of psychological
incapacity to comply with her essential marital obligations, although these indications were made manifest after
the celebration of the marriage.
It would be a great injustice, I believe, to petitioner for this Court to give a much too restrictive interpretation of
the law and compel the petitioner to continue to be married to a wife who for purposes of fulfilling her marital
duties has, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist.
Besides, there are public policy considerations involved in the ruling the Court makes today. Is it not, in effect
directly or indirectly, facilitating the transformation of petitioner into a "habitual tryster" or one forced to maintain
illicit relations with another woman or women with emerging problems of illegitimate children, simply because
he is denied by private respondent, his wife, the companionship and conjugal love which he has sought from
her and to which he is legally entitled?
I do not go as far as to suggest that Art. 36 of the Family Code is a sanction for absolute divorce but I submit
that we should not constrict it to non-recognition of its evident purpose and thus deny to one like petitioner, an
opportunity to turn a new leaf in his life by declaring his marriage a nullity by reason of his wife's psychological
incapacity to perform an essential marital obligation.
I therefore vote to GRANT the petition and to DECLARE the marriage between petitioner Leouel Santos and
private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos VOID on the basis of Article 36 of the Family Code.
ROMERO, J., concurring:
I agree under the circumstances of the case, petitioner is not entitled to have his marriage declared a nullity on
the ground of psychological incapacity of private respondent.
However, as a member of both the Family Law Revision Committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
the Civil Code Revision Committee of the UP Law Center, I wish to add some observations. The letter 1 dated

April 15, 1985 of then Judge Alicia V. Sempio-Diy written in behalf of the Family Law and Civil Code
Revision Committee to then Assemblywoman Mercedes Cojuangco-Teodoro traced the background of the
inclusion of the present Article 36 in the Family Code.
During its early meetings, the Family Law Committee had thought of including a chapter on
absolute divorce in the draft of a new Family Code (Book I of the Civil Code) that it had been
tasked by the IBP and the UP Law Center to prepare. In fact, some members of the
Committee were in favor of a no-fault divorce between the spouses after a number of years of

separation, legal or de-facto. Justice J.B.L. Reyes was then requested to prepare a proposal
for an action for dissolution of marriage and the effects thereof based on two grounds: (a) five
continuous years of separation between the spouses, with or without a judicial decree of legal
separation, and (b) whenever a married person would have obtained a decree of absolute
divorce in another country. Actually, such a proposal is one for absolute divorce but called by
another name. Later, even the Civil Code Revision Committee took time to discuss the
proposal of Justice Reyes on this matter.
Subsequently, however, when the Civil Code Revision Committee and Family Law Committee
started holding joint meetings on the preparation of the draft of the New Family Code, they
agreed and formulated the definition of marriage as
"a special contract of permanent partnership between a man and a woman
entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and
family life. It is an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences,
and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that
marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage
within the limits provided by law."
With the above definition, and considering the Christian traditional concept of marriage of the
Filipino people as a permanent, inviolable, indissoluble social institution upon which the family
and society are founded, and also realizing the strong opposition that any provision on
absolute divorce would encounter from the Catholic Church and the Catholic sector of our
citizenry to whom the great majority of our people belong, the two Committees in their joint
meetings did not pursue the idea of absolute divorce and instead opted for an action for
judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage based on grounds available in the Canon Law. It
was thought that such an action would not only be an acceptable alternative to divorce but
would also solve the nagging problem of church annulments of marriages on grounds not
recognized by the civil law of the State. Justice Reyes was thus requested to again prepare a
draft of provisions on such action for celebration of invalidity of marriage. Still later, to avoid
the overlapping of provisions on void marriages as found in the present Civil Code and those
proposed by Justice Reyes on judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage on grounds similar
to the Canon Law, the two Committees now working as a Joint Committee in the preparation
of a New Family Code decided to consolidate the present provisions on void marriages with
the proposals of Justice Reyes. The result was the inclusion of an additional kind of void
marriage in the enumeration of void marriages in the present Civil Code, to wit:
"(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to
understand the essential nature of marriage or was psychologically or
mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even if
such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the celebration."
as well as the following implementing provisions:
"Art. 32. The absolute nullity of a marriage may be invoked or pleaded only
on the basis of a final judgment declaring the marriage void, without
prejudice to the provision of Article 34."

"Art. 33. The action or defense for the declaration of the absolute nullity of a
marriage shall not prescribe."
xxx xxx xxx
It is believed that many hopelessly broken marriages in our country today may already
dissolved or annulled on the grounds proposed by the Joint Committee on declaration of
nullity as well as annulment of marriages, thus rendering an absolute divorce law
unnecessary. In fact, during a conference with Father Gerald Healy of the Ateneo University
as well as another meeting with Archbishop Oscar Cruz of the Archdiocese of Pampanga, the
Joint Committee was informed that since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has been declaring
marriages null and void on the ground of "lack of due discretion" for causes that, in other
jurisdictions, would be clear grounds for divorce, like teen-age or premature marriages;
marriage to a man who, because of some personality disorder or disturbance, cannot support
a family; the foolish or ridiculous choice of a spouse by an otherwise perfectly normal person;
marriage to a woman who refuses to cohabit with her husband or who refuses to have
children. Bishop Cruz also informed the Committee that they have found out in tribunal work
that a lot of machismo among husbands are manifestations of their sociopathic personality
anomaly, like inflicting physical violence upon their wives, constitutional indolence or laziness,
drug dependence or addiction, and psychological anomaly. . . . (Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, by incorporating what is now Article 36 into the Family Code, the Revision Committee referred to above
intended to add another ground to those already listed in the Civil Code as grounds for nullifying a marriage,
thus expanding or liberalizing the same. Inherent in the inclusion of the provision on psychological incapacity
was the understanding that every petition for declaration of nullity based on it should be treated on a case-tocase basis; hence, the absence of a definition and an enumeration of what constitutes psychological incapacity.
Moreover, the Committee feared that the giving of examples would limit the applicability of the provision under
the principle of ejusdem generis. But the law requires that the same be existing at the time of marriage
although it be manifested later.
Admittedly, the provision on psychological incapacity, just like any other provision of law, is open to abuse. To
prevent this, "the court shall take order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf of
the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that evidence is not fabricated
or suppressed." 2 Moreover, the judge, in interpreting the provision on a case-to-case basis, must be

guided by "experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by
decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the civil courts, may be given persuasive
effect since the provisions was taken from Canon Law." 3
The constitutional and statutory provisions on the family 4 will remain the lodestar which our society will hope

to achieve ultimately. Therefore, the inclusion of Article 36 is not to be taken as an abandonment of the
ideal which we all cherish. If at all, it is a recognition of the reality that some marriages, by reason of the
incapacity of one of the contracting parties, fall short of this ideal; thus, the parties are constrained to find
a way of putting an end to their union through some legally-accepted means.
Any criticism directed at the way that judges have interpreted the provision since its enactment as to render it
easier for unhappily-married couples to separate is addressed, not to the wisdom of the lawmakers but to the
manner by which some members of the Bench have implemented the provision. These are not
interchangeable, each being separate and distinct from the other.

Separate Opinions
PADILLA, J., dissenting:
It is difficult to dissent from a well-written and studied opinion as Mr. Justice Vitug's ponencia. But, after an
extended reflection on the facts of this case, I cannot see my way clear into holding, as the majority do, that
there is no ground for the declaration of nullity of the marriage between petitioner and private respondent.
To my mind, it is clear that private respondent has been shown to be psychologically incapacitated to comply
with at least one essential marital obligation, i.e. that of living and cohabiting with her husband, herein
petitioner. On the other hand, it has not been shown that petitioner does not deserve to live and cohabit with his
wife, herein private respondent.
There appears to be no disagreement that the term "psychological incapacity" defies precision in definition. But,
as used in Article 36 of the Family Code as a ground for the declaration of nullity of a marriage, the intent of the
framers of the Code is evidently to expand and liberalize the grounds for nullifying a marriage, as well pointed
out by Madam Justice Flerida Ruth P. Romero in her separate opinion in this case.
While it is true that the board term "psychological incapacity" can open the doors to abuse by couples who may
wish to have an easy way out of their marriage, there are, however, enough safeguards against this
contingency, among which, is the intervention by the State, through the public prosecutor, to guard against
collusion between the parties and/or fabrication of evidence.
In their case at bench, it has been abundantly established that private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos
exhibits specific behavior which, to my mind, shows that she is psychologically incapacitated to fulfill her
essential marital obligations, to writ:
a. It took her seven (7) months after she left for the United States to call up her husband.
b. Julia promised to return home after her job contract expired in July 1989, but she never did
and neither is there any showing that she informed her husband (herein petitioner) of her
whereabouts in the U.S.A.
c. When petitioner went to the United States on a mission for the Philippine Army, he exerted
efforts to "touch base" with Julia; there were no similar efforts on the part of Julia; there were
no similar efforts on the part of Julia to do the same.
d. When petitioner filed this suit, more than five (5) years had elapsed, without Julia indicating
her plans to rejoin the petitioner or her whereabouts.
e. When petitioner filed this case in the trial court, Julia, in her answer, claimed that it is the
former who has been irresponsible and incompetent.
f. During the trial, Julia waived her right to appear and submit evidence.
A spouse's obligation to live and cohabit with his/her partner in marriage is a basic ground rule in marriage,
unless there are overpowering compelling reasons such as, for instance, an incurable contagious disease on
the part of a spouse or cruelty of one partner, bordering on insanity. There may also be instances when, for
economic and practical reasons, husband and wife have to live separately, but the marital bond between the
spouses always remains. Mutual love and respect for each other would, in such cases, compel the absent

spouse to at least have regular contracts with the other to inform the latter of his/her condition and
whereabouts.
In the present case, it is apparent that private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos has no intention of
cohabiting with petitioner, her husband, or maintaining contact with him. In fact, her acts eloquently show that
she does not want her husband to know of her whereabouts and neither has she any intention of living and
cohabiting with him.
To me there appears to be, on the part of private respondent, an unmistakeable indication of psychological
incapacity to comply with her essential marital obligations, although these indications were made manifest after
the celebration of the marriage.
It would be a great injustice, I believe, to petitioner for this Court to give a much too restrictive interpretation of
the law and compel the petitioner to continue to be married to a wife who for purposes of fulfilling her marital
duties has, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist.
Besides, there are public policy considerations involved in the ruling the Court makes today. Is it not, in effect
directly or indirectly, facilitating the transformation of petitioner into a "habitual tryster" or one forced to maintain
illicit relations with another woman or women with emerging problems of illegitimate children, simply because
he is denied by private respondent, his wife, the companionship and conjugal love which he has sought from
her and to which he is legally entitled?
I do not go as far as to suggest that Art. 36 of the Family Code is a sanction for absolute divorce but I submit
that we should not constrict it to non-recognition of its evident purpose and thus deny to one like petitioner, an
opportunity to turn a new leaf in his life by declaring his marriage a nullity by reason of his wife's psychological
incapacity to perform an essential marital obligation.
I therefore vote to GRANT the petition and to DECLARE the marriage between petitioner Leouel Santos and
private respondent Julia Rosario Bedia-Santos VOID on the basis of Article 36 of the Family Code.
ROMERO, J., concurring:
I agree under the circumstances of the case, petitioner is not entitled to have his marriage declared a nullity on
the ground of psychological incapacity of private respondent.
However, as a member of both the Family Law Revision Committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
the Civil Code Revision Committee of the UP Law Center, I wish to add some observations. The letter 1 dated

April 15, 1985 of then Judge Alicia V. Sempio-Diy written in behalf of the Family Law and Civil Code
Revision Committee to then Assemblywoman Mercedes Cojuangco-Teodoro traced the background of the
inclusion of the present Article 36 in the Family Code.
During its early meetings, the Family Law Committee had thought of including a chapter on
absolute divorce in the draft of a new Family Code (Book I of the Civil Code) that it had been
tasked by the IBP and the UP Law Center to prepare. In fact, some members of the
Committee were in favor of a no-fault divorce between the spouses after a number of years of
separation, legal or de-facto. Justice J.B.L. Reyes was then requested to prepare a proposal
for an action for dissolution of marriage and the effects thereof based on two grounds: (a) five
continuous years of separation between the spouses, with or without a judicial decree of legal
separation, and (b) whenever a married person would have obtained a decree of absolute
divorce in another country. Actually, such a proposal is one for absolute divorce but called by

another name. Later, even the Civil Code Revision Committee took time to discuss the
proposal of Justice Reyes on this matter.
Subsequently, however, when the Civil Code Revision Committee and Family Law Committee
started holding joint meetings on the preparation of the draft of the New Family Code, they
agreed and formulated the definition of marriage as
"a special contract of permanent partnership between a man and a woman
entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and
family life. It is an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences,
and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that
marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage
within the limits provided by law."
With the above definition, and considering the Christian traditional concept of marriage of the
Filipino people as a permanent, inviolable, indissoluble social institution upon which the family
and society are founded, and also realizing the strong opposition that any provision on
absolute divorce would encounter from the Catholic Church and the Catholic sector of our
citizenry to whom the great majority of our people belong, the two Committees in their joint
meetings did not pursue the idea of absolute divorce and instead opted for an action for
judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage based on grounds available in the Canon Law. It
was thought that such an action would not only be an acceptable alternative to divorce but
would also solve the nagging problem of church annulments of marriages on grounds not
recognized by the civil law of the State. Justice Reyes was thus requested to again prepare a
draft of provisions on such action for celebration of invalidity of marriage. Still later, to avoid
the overlapping of provisions on void marriages as found in the present Civil Code and those
proposed by Justice Reyes on judicial declaration of invalidity of marriage on grounds similar
to the Canon Law, the two Committees now working as a Joint Committee in the preparation
of a New Family Code decided to consolidate the present provisions on void marriages with
the proposals of Justice Reyes. The result was the inclusion of an additional kind of void
marriage in the enumeration of void marriages in the present Civil Code, to wit:
"(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to
understand the essential nature of marriage or was psychologically or
mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even if
such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the celebration."
as well as the following implementing provisions:
"Art. 32. The absolute nullity of a marriage may be invoked or pleaded only
on the basis of a final judgment declaring the marriage void, without
prejudice to the provision of Article 34."
"Art. 33. The action or defense for the declaration of the absolute nullity of a
marriage shall not prescribe."
xxx xxx xxx

It is believed that many hopelessly broken marriages in our country today may already
dissolved or annulled on the grounds proposed by the Joint Committee on declaration of
nullity as well as annulment of marriages, thus rendering an absolute divorce law
unnecessary. In fact, during a conference with Father Gerald Healy of the Ateneo University
as well as another meeting with Archbishop Oscar Cruz of the Archdiocese of Pampanga, the
Joint Committee was informed that since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has been declaring
marriages null and void on the ground of "lack of due discretion" for causes that, in other
jurisdictions, would be clear grounds for divorce, like teen-age or premature marriages;
marriage to a man who, because of some personality disorder or disturbance, cannot support
a family; the foolish or ridiculous choice of a spouse by an otherwise perfectly normal person;
marriage to a woman who refuses to cohabit with her husband or who refuses to have
children. Bishop Cruz also informed the Committee that they have found out in tribunal work
that a lot of machismo among husbands are manifestations of their sociopathic personality
anomaly, like inflicting physical violence upon their wives, constitutional indolence or laziness,
drug dependence or addiction, and psychological anomaly. . . . (Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, by incorporating what is now Article 36 into the Family Code, the Revision Committee referred to above
intended to add another ground to those already listed in the Civil Code as grounds for nullifying a marriage,
thus expanding or liberalizing the same. Inherent in the inclusion of the provision on psychological incapacity
was the understanding that every petition for declaration of nullity based on it should be treated on a case-tocase basis; hence, the absence of a definition and an enumeration of what constitutes psychological incapacity.
Moreover, the Committee feared that the giving of examples would limit the applicability of the provision under
the principle of ejusdem generis. But the law requires that the same be existing at the time of marriage
although it be manifested later.
Admittedly, the provision on psychological incapacity, just like any other provision of law, is open to abuse. To
prevent this, "the court shall take order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf of
the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that evidence is not fabricated
or suppressed." 2 Moreover, the judge, in interpreting the provision on a case-to-case basis, must be

guided by "experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by
decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the civil courts, may be given persuasive
effect since the provisions was taken from Canon Law." 3
The constitutional and statutory provisions on the family 4 will remain the lodestar which our society will hope

to achieve ultimately. Therefore, the inclusion of Article 36 is not to be taken as an abandonment of the
ideal which we all cherish. If at all, it is a recognition of the reality that some marriages, by reason of the
incapacity of one of the contracting parties, fall short of this ideal; thus, the parties are constrained to find
a way of putting an end to their union through some legally-accepted means.
Any criticism directed at the way that judges have interpreted the provision since its enactment as to render it
easier for unhappily-married couples to separate is addressed, not to the wisdom of the lawmakers but to the
manner by which some members of the Bench have implemented the provision. These are not
interchangeable, each being separate and distinct from the other.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 119190 January 16, 1997


CHI MING TSOI, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and GINA LAO-TSOI, respondents.

TORRES, JR., J.:


Man has not invented a reliable compass by which to steer a marriage in its journey over troubled waters. Laws
are seemingly inadequate. Over time, much reliance has been placed in the works of the unseen hand of Him
who created all things.
Who is to blame when a marriage fails?
This case was originally commenced by a distraught wife against her uncaring husband in the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City (Branch 89) which decreed the annulment of the marriage on the ground of psychological
incapacity. Petitioner appealed the decision of the trial court to respondent Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. CV No.
42758) which affirmed the Trial Court's decision November 29, 1994 and correspondingly denied the motion for
reconsideration in a resolution dated February 14, 1995.
The statement of the case and of the facts made by the trial court and reproduced by the Court of Appeals 1 its

decision are as follows:


From the evidence adduced, the following acts were preponderantly established:
Sometime on May 22, 1988, the plaintiff married the defendant at the Manila Cathedral, . . . Intramuros
Manila, as evidenced by their Marriage Contract. (Exh. "A")
After the celebration of their marriage and wedding reception at the South Villa, Makati, they went and
proceeded to the house of defendant's mother.
There, they slept together on the same bed in the same room for the first night of their married life.
It is the version of the plaintiff, that contrary to her expectations, that as newlyweds they were
supposed to enjoy making love, or having sexual intercourse, with each other, the defendant just went
to bed, slept on one side thereof, then turned his back and went to sleep . There was no sexual
intercourse between them during the first night. The same thing happened on the second, third and
fourth nights.
In an effort to have their honeymoon in a private place where they can enjoy together during their first
week as husband and wife, they went to Baguio City. But, they did so together with her mother, an
uncle, his mother and his nephew. They were all invited by the defendant to join them. [T]hey stayed in
Baguio City for four (4) days. But, during this period, there was no sexual intercourse between them,

since the defendant avoided her by taking a long walk during siesta time or by just sleeping on a
rocking chair located at the living room. They slept together in the same room and on the same bed
since May 22, 1988 until March 15, 1989. But during this period, there was no attempt of sexual
intercourse between them. [S]he claims, that she did not: even see her husband's private parts nor did
he see hers.
Because of this, they submitted themselves for medical examinations to Dr. Eufemio Macalalag, a
urologist at the Chinese General Hospital, on January 20, 1989.
The results of their physical examinations were that she is healthy, normal and still a virgin, while that
of her husband's examination was kept confidential up to this time. While no medicine was prescribed
for her, the doctor prescribed medications for her husband which was also kept confidential. No
treatment was given to her. For her husband, he was asked by the doctor to return but he never did.
The plaintiff claims, that the defendant is impotent, a closet homosexual as he did not show his penis.
She said, that she had observed the defendant using an eyebrow pencil and sometimes the cleansing
cream of his mother. And that, according to her, the defendant married her, a Filipino citizen, to acquire
or maintain his residency status here in the country and to publicly maintain the appearance of a
normal man.
The plaintiff is not willing to reconcile with her husband.
On the other hand, it is the claim of the defendant that if their marriage shall be annulled by reason of
psychological incapacity, the fault lies with his wife.
But, he said that he does not want his marriage with his wife annulled for several reasons, viz: (1) that
he loves her very much; (2) that he has no defect on his part and he is physically and psychologically
capable; and, (3) since the relationship is still very young and if there is any differences between the
two of them, it can still be reconciled and that, according to him, if either one of them has some
incapabilities, there is no certainty that this will not be cured. He further claims, that if there is any
defect, it can be cured by the intervention of medical technology or science.
The defendant admitted that since their marriage on May 22, 1988, until their separation on March 15,
1989, there was no sexual contact between them. But, the reason for this, according to the defendant,
was that everytime he wants to have sexual intercourse with his wife, she always avoided him and
whenever he caresses her private parts, she always removed his hands. The defendant claims, that he
forced his wife to have sex with him only once but he did not continue because she was shaking and
she did not like it. So he stopped.
There are two (2) reasons, according to the defendant , why the plaintiff filed this case against him,
and these are: (1) that she is afraid that she will be forced to return the pieces of jewelry of his mother,
and, (2) that her husband, the defendant, will consummate their marriage.
The defendant insisted that their marriage will remain valid because they are still very young and there
is still a chance to overcome their differences.
The defendant submitted himself to a physical examination. His penis was examined by Dr. Sergio
Alteza, Jr., for the purpose of finding out whether he is impotent . As a result thereof, Dr. Alteza
submitted his Doctor's Medical Report. (Exh. "2"). It is stated there, that there is no evidence of
impotency (Exh. "2-B"), and he is capable of erection. (Exh. "2-C")

The doctor said, that he asked the defendant to masturbate to find out whether or not he has an
erection and he found out that from the original size of two (2) inches, or five (5) centimeters, the penis
of the defendant lengthened by one (1) inch and one centimeter. Dr. Alteza said, that the defendant
had only a soft erection which is why his penis is not in its full length. But, still is capable of further
erection, in that with his soft erection, the defendant is capable of having sexual intercourse with a
woman.
In open Court, the Trial Prosecutor manifested that there is no collusion between the parties and that
the evidence is not fabricated." 2
After trial, the court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads:
ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered declaring as VOID the marriage entered into by the
plaintiff with the defendant on May 22, 1988 at the Manila Cathedral, Basilica of the Immaculate
Conception, Intramuros, Manila, before the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Melencio de Vera. Without costs. Let a copy
of this decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City. Let another copy be furnished
the Local Civil Registrar of Manila.
SO ORDERED.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision.
Hence, the instant petition.
Petitioner alleges that the respondent Court of Appeals erred:
I
in affirming the conclusions of the lower court that there was no sexual intercourse between the parties
without making any findings of fact.
II
in holding that the refusal of private respondent to have sexual communion with petitioner is a
psychological incapacity inasmuch as proof thereof is totally absent.
III
in holding that the alleged refusal of both the petitioner and the private respondent to have sex with
each other constitutes psychological incapacity of both.
IV
in affirming the annulment of the marriage between the parties decreed by the lower court without fully
satisfying itself that there was no collusion between them.
We find the petition to be bereft of merit.

Petitioner contends that being the plaintiff in Civil Case No. Q-89-3141, private respondent has the burden of
proving the allegations in her complaint; that since there was no independent evidence to prove the alleged
non-coitus between the parties, there remains no other basis for the court's conclusion except the admission of
petitioner; that public policy should aid acts intended to validate marriage and should retard acts intended to
invalidate them; that the conclusion drawn by the trial court on the admissions and confessions of the parties in
their pleadings and in the course of the trial is misplaced since it could have been a product of collusion; and
that in actions for annulment of marriage, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved. 3
Section 1, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court reads:
Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise
admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may, on motion of that party,
direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation the
material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved.
The foregoing provision pertains to a judgment on the pleadings. What said provision seeks to prevent is
annulment of marriage without trial. The assailed decision was not based on such a judgment on the pleadings.
When private respondent testified under oath before the trial court and was cross-examined by oath before the
trial court and was cross-examined by the adverse party, she thereby presented evidence in form of a
testimony. After such evidence was presented, it be came incumbent upon petitioner to present his side. He
admitted that since their marriage on May 22, 1988, until their separation on March 15, 1989, there was no
sexual intercourse between them.
To prevent collusion between the parties is the reason why, as stated by the petitioner, the Civil Code provides
that no judgment annulling a marriage shall be promulgated upon a stipulation of facts or by confession of
judgment (Arts. 88 and 101[par. 2]) and the Rules of Court prohibit such annulment without trial (Sec. 1, Rule
19).
The case has reached this Court because petitioner does not want their marriage to be annulled. This only
shows that there is no collusion between the parties. When petitioner admitted that he and his wife (private
respondent) have never had sexual contact with each other, he must have been only telling the truth. We are
reproducing the relevant portion of the challenged resolution denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration,
penned with magisterial lucidity by Associate Justice Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes, viz:
The judgment of the trial court which was affirmed by this Court is not based on a stipulation of facts.
The issue of whether or not the appellant is psychologically incapacitated to discharge a basic marital
obligation was resolved upon a review of both the documentary and testimonial evidence on record.
Appellant admitted that he did not have sexual relations with his wife after almost ten months of
cohabitation, and it appears that he is not suffering from any physical disability. Such abnormal
reluctance or unwillingness to consummate his marriage is strongly indicative of a serious personality
disorder which to the mind of this Court clearly demonstrates an 'utter insensitivity or inability to give
meaning and significance to the marriage' within the meaning of Article 36 of the Family Code (See
Santos vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 112019, January 4, 1995). 4
Petitioner further contends that respondent court erred in holding that the alleged refusal of both the petitioner
and the private respondent to have sex with each other constitutes psychological incapacity of both. He points
out as error the failure of the trial court to make "a categorical finding about the alleged psychological
incapacity and an in-depth analysis of the reasons for such refusal which may not be necessarily due to
physchological disorders" because there might have been other reasons, i.e., physical disorders, such as

aches, pains or other discomforts, why private respondent would not want to have sexual intercourse from
May 22, 1988 to March 15, 1989, in a short span of 10 months.
First, it must be stated that neither the trial court nor the respondent court made a finding on who between
petitioner and private respondent refuses to have sexual contact with the other. The fact remains, however, that
there has never been coitus between them. At any rate, since the action to declare the marriage void may be
filed by either party, i.e., even the psychologically incapacitated, the question of who refuses to have sex with
the other becomes immaterial.
Petitioner claims that there is no independent evidence on record to show that any of the parties is suffering
from phychological incapacity. Petitioner also claims that he wanted to have sex with private respondent; that
the reason for private respondent's refusal may not be psychological but physical disorder as stated above.
We do not agree. Assuming it to be so, petitioner could have discussed with private respondent or asked her
what is ailing her, and why she balks and avoids him everytime he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her.
He never did. At least, there is nothing in the record to show that he had tried to find out or discover what the
problem with his wife could be. What he presented in evidence is his doctor's Medical Report that there is no
evidence of his impotency and he is capable of erection. 5 Since it is petitioner's claim that the reason is not

psychological but perhaps physical disorder on the part of private respondent, it became incumbent upon
him to prove such a claim.
If a spouse, although physically capable but simply refuses to perform his or her essential marriage
obligations, and the refusal is senseless and constant, Catholic marriage tribunals attribute the causes
to psychological incapacity than to stubborn refusal. Senseless and protracted refusal is equivalent to
psychological incapacity. Thus, the prolonged refusal of a spouse to have sexual intercourse with his
or her spouse is considered a sign of psychological incapacity. 6
Evidently, one of the essential marital obligations under the Family Code is "To procreate children based on the
universal principle that procreation of children through sexual cooperation is the basic end of marriage."
Constant non- fulfillment of this obligation will finally destroy the integrity or wholeness of the marriage. In the
case at bar, the senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the above marital obligation is
equivalent to psychological incapacity.
As aptly stated by the respondent court,
An examination of the evidence convinces Us that the husband's plea that the wife did not want carnal
intercourse with him does not inspire belief. Since he was not physically impotent, but he refrained
from sexual intercourse during the entire time (from May 22, 1988 to March 15, 1989) that he occupied
the same bed with his wife, purely out of symphaty for her feelings, he deserves to be doubted for not
having asserted his right seven though she balked (Tompkins vs. Tompkins, 111 Atl. 599, cited in I
Paras, Civil Code, at p. 330). Besides, if it were true that it is the wife was suffering from incapacity, the
fact that defendant did not go to court and seek the declaration of nullity weakens his claim. This case
was instituted by the wife whose normal expectations of her marriage were frustrated by her husband's
inadequacy. Considering the innate modesty of the Filipino woman, it is hard to believe that she would
expose her private life to public scrutiny and fabricate testimony against her husband if it were not
necessary to put her life in order and put to rest her marital status.
We are not impressed by defendant's claim that what the evidence proved is the unwillingness or lack
of intention to perform the sexual act, which is not phychological incapacity, and which can be
achieved "through proper motivation." After almost ten months of cohabitation, the admission that the

husband is reluctant or unwilling to perform the sexual act with his wife whom he professes to love
very dearly, and who has not posed any insurmountable resistance to his alleged approaches, is
indicative of a hopeless situation, and of a serious personality disorder that constitutes psychological
incapacity to discharge the basic marital covenants within the contemplation of the Family Code. 7
While the law provides that the husband and the wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect
and fidelity (Art. 68, Family Code), the sanction therefor is actually the "spontaneous, mutual affection between
husband and wife and not any legal mandate or court order" (Cuaderno vs. Cuaderno 120 Phil. 1298). Love is
useless unless it is shared with another. Indeed, no man is an island, the cruelest act of a partner in marriage is
to say "I could not have cared less." This is so because an ungiven self is an unfulfilled self. The egoist has
nothing but himself. In the natural order, it is sexual intimacy which brings spouses wholeness and oneness.
Sexual intimacy is a gift and a participation in the mystery of creation. It is a function which enlivens the hope of
procreation and ensures the continuation of family relations.
It appears that there is absence of empathy between petitioner and private respondent. That is a shared
feeling which between husband and wife must be experienced not only by having spontaneous sexual intimacy
but a deep sense of spiritual communion. Marital union is a two-way process. An expressive interest in each
other's feelings at a time it is needed by the other can go a long way in deepening the marital relationship.
Marriage is definitely not for children but for two consenting adults who view the relationship with love amor
gignit amorem, respect, sacrifice and a continuing commitment to compromise, conscious of its value as a
sublime social institution.
This Court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found themselves trapped in its mire
of unfulfilled vows and unconsummated marital obligations, can do no less but sustain the studied judgment of
respondent appellate court.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING PREMISES , the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals dated November
29, 1994 is hereby AFFIRMED in all respects and the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 108763 February 13, 1997


REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and RORIDEL OLAVIANO MOLINA, respondents.

PANGANIBAN, J.:

The Family Code of the Philippines provides an entirely new ground (in addition to those enumerated in
the Civil Code) to assail the validity of a marriage, namely, "psychological incapacity." Since the Code's
effectivity, our courts have been swamped with various petitions to declare marriages void based on
this ground. Although this Court had interpreted the meaning of psychological incapacity in the recent
case of Santos vs. Court of Appeals, still many judges and lawyers find difficulty in applying said novel
provision in specific cases. In the present case and in the context of the herein assailed Decision of the
Court of Appeals, the Solicitor General has labelled exaggerated to be sure but nonetheless
expressive of his frustration Article 36 as the "most liberal divorce procedure in the world." Hence,
this Court in addition to resolving the present case, finds the need to lay down specific guidelines in
the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code.
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 challenging the January 25, 1993
Decision 1of the Court of Appeals 2 in CA-G.R. CV No. 34858 affirming in toto the May 14, 1991

decision of the Regional Trial Court of La Trinidad, 3 Benguet, which declared the marriage of
respondent Roridel Olaviano Molina to Reynaldo Molina void ab initio, on the ground of
"psychological incapacity" under Article 36 of the Family Code.
The Facts
This case was commenced on August 16, 1990 with the filing by respondent Roridel O. Molina of a
verified petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage to Reynaldo Molina. Essentially, the petition
alleged that Roridel and Reynaldo were married on April 14, 1985 at the San Agustin Church 4 in Manila;

that a son, Andre O. Molina was born; that after a year of marriage, Reynaldo showed signs of
"immaturity and irresponsibility" as a husband and a father since he preferred to spend more time
with his peers and friends on whom he squandered his money; that he depended on his parents
for aid and assistance, and was never honest with his wife in regard to their finances, resulting in
frequent quarrels between them; that sometime in February 1986, Reynaldo was relieved of his job
in Manila, and since then Roridel had been the sole breadwinner of the family; that in October
1986 the couple had a very intense quarrel, as a result of which their relationship was estranged;
that in March 1987, Roridel resigned from her job in Manila and went to live with her parents in
Baguio City; that a few weeks later, Reynaldo left Roridel and their child, and had since then
abandoned them; that Reynaldo had thus shown that he was psychologically incapable of
complying with essential marital obligations and was a highly immature and habitually quarrel
some individual who thought of himself as a king to be served; and that it would be to the
couple's best interest to have their marriage declared null and void in order to free them from
what appeared to be an incompatible marriage from the start.
In his Answer filed on August 28, 1989, Reynaldo admitted that he and Roridel could no longer live
together as husband and wife, but contended that their misunderstandings and frequent quarrels were
due to (1) Roridel's strange behavior of insisting on maintaining her group of friends even after their
marriage; (2) Roridel's refusal to perform some of her marital duties such as cooking meals; and (3)
Roridel's failure to run the household and handle their finances.
During the pre-trial on October 17, 1990, the following were stipulated:
1. That the parties herein were legally married on April 14, 1985 at the Church of St.
Augustine, Manila;

2. That out of their marriage, a child named Albert Andre Olaviano Molina was born on
July 29, 1986;
3. That the parties are separated-in-fact for more than three years;
4. That petitioner is not asking support for her and her child;
5. That the respondent is not asking for damages;
6. That the common child of the parties is in the custody of the petitioner wife.
Evidence for herein respondent wife consisted of her own testimony and that of her friends Rosemarie
Ventura and Maria Leonora Padilla as well as of Ruth G. Lalas, a social worker, and of Dr. Teresita
Hidalgo-Sison, a psychiatrist of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. She also submitted
documents marked as Exhibits "A" to "E-1." Reynaldo did not present any evidence as he appeared
only during the pre-trial conference.
On May 14, 1991, the trial court rendered judgment declaring the marriage void. The appeal of petitioner
was denied by the Court of Appeals which affirmed in toto the RTC's decision. Hence, the present
recourse.
The Issue
In his petition, the Solicitor General insists that "the Court of Appeals made an erroneous and incorrect
interpretation of the phrase 'psychological incapacity' (as provided under Art. 36 of the Family Code)
and made an incorrect application thereof to the facts of the case," adding that the appealed Decision
tended "to establish in effect the most liberal divorce procedure in the world which is anathema to our
culture."
In denying the Solicitor General's appeal, the respondent Court relied 5 heavily on the trial court's

findings "that the marriage between the parties broke up because of their opposing and
conflicting personalities." Then, it added it sown opinion that "the Civil Code Revision Committee
(hereinafter referred to as Committee) intended to liberalize the application of our civil laws on
personal and family rights. . . ." It concluded that:
As ground for annulment of marriage, We view psychologically incapacity as a broad
range of mental and behavioral conduct on the part of one spouse indicative of how he
or she regards the marital union, his or her personal relationship with the other spouse,
as well as his or her conduct in the long haul for the attainment of the principal
objectives of marriage. If said conduct, observed and considered as a whole, tends to
cause the union to self-destruct because it defeats the very objectives of marriage,
then there is enough reason to leave the spouses to their individual fates.
In the case at bar, We find that the trial judge committed no indiscretion in analyzing
and deciding the instant case, as it did, hence, We find no cogent reason to disturb the
findings and conclusions thus made.
Respondent, in her Memorandum, adopts these discussions of the Court of Appeals.

The petitioner, on the other hand, argues that "opposing and conflicting personalities" is not equivalent
to psychological incapacity, explaining that such ground "is not simply the neglect by the parties to the
marriage of their responsibilities and duties, but a defect in their psychological nature which renders
them incapable of performing such marital responsibilities and duties."
The Court's Ruling
The petition is meritorious.
In Leouel Santos vs. Court of Appeals 6 this Court, speaking thru Mr. Justice Jose C. Vitug, ruled that

"psychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (nor physical) incapacity . . . and
that (t)here is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of
'psychological incapacity' to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the
marriage. This psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated." Citing Dr.
Gerardo Veloso, a former presiding judge of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal of the Catholic
Archdiocese of Manila, 7 Justice Vitug wrote that "the psychological incapacity must be
characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability."
On the other hand, in the present case, there is no clear showing to us that the psychological defect
spoken of is an incapacity. It appears to us to be more of a "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or
"neglect" in the performance of some marital obligations. Mere showing of "irreconciliable differences"
and "conflicting personalities" in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity. It is not enough to
prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential
that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological (nor physical) illness.
The evidence adduced by respondent merely showed that she and her husband could nor get along
with each other. There had been no showing of the gravity of the problem; neither its juridical
antecedence nor its incurability. The expert testimony of Dr. Sison showed no incurable psychiatric
disorder but only incompatibility, not psychological incapacity. Dr. Sison testified: 8
COURT
Q It is therefore the recommendation of the psychiatrist based on your
findings that it is better for the Court to annul (sic) the marriage?
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q There is no hope for the marriage?
A There is no hope, the man is also living with another woman.
Q Is it also the stand of the psychiatrist that the parties are
psychologically unfit for each other but they are psychologically fit
with other parties?
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q Neither are they psychologically unfit for their professions?

A Yes, Your Honor.


The Court has no more questions.
In the case of Reynaldo, there is no showing that his alleged personality traits were constitutive of
psychological incapacity existing at the time of marriage celebration. While some effort was made to
prove that there was a failure to fulfill pre-nuptial impressions of "thoughtfulness and gentleness" on
Reynaldo's part of being "conservative, homely and intelligent" on the part of Roridel, such failure of
expectation is nor indicative of antecedent psychological incapacity. If at all, it merely shows love's
temporary blindness to the faults and blemishes of the beloved.
During its deliberations, the Court decided to go beyond merely ruling on the facts of this case vis-avisexisting law and jurisprudence. In view of the novelty of Art. 36 of the Family Code and the difficulty
experienced by many trial courts interpreting and applying it, the Court decided to invite two amici
curiae, namely, the Most Reverend Oscar V. Cruz, 9 Vicar Judicial (Presiding Judge) of the National

Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, and Justice Ricardo C.
Puno, 10 a member of the Family Code Revision Committee. The Court takes this occasion to thank
these friends of the Court for their informative and interesting discussions during the oral
argument on December 3, 1996, which they followed up with written memoranda.
From their submissions and the Court's own deliberations, the following guidelines in the
interpretation and application of Art. 36 of the Family Code are hereby handed down for the guidance of
the bench and the bar:
(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be
resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and
nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage
and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, 11 recognizing it

"as the foundation of the nation." It decrees marriage as legally "inviolable," thereby protecting it
from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be "protected" by
the state.
The Family Code 12 echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes

the permanence, inviolability and solidarity


(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified, (b)
alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision.
Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological not physical.
although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court
that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or physically ill to such an extent that the person could
not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid
assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the
application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, 13 nevertheless such root cause

must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature explained. Expert
evidence may be given qualified psychiatrist and clinical psychologists.
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the marriage. The
evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their "I do's." The
manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have
attached at such moment, or prior thereto.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily
absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the
assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise
of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses
of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to
procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential
obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional
emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright
incapacity or inability, nor a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a
natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality
structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the
obligations essential to marriage.
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code
as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to
parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition,
proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. It is clear
that Article 36 was taken by the Family Code Revision Committee from Canon 1095 of the New Code of
Canon Law, which became effective in 1983 and which provides:
The following are incapable of contracting marriage: Those who are unable to assume
the essential obligations of marriage due to causes of psychological nature. 14
Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code is to harmonize our civil laws with
the religious faith of our people, it stands to reason that to achieve such harmonization, great
persuasive weight should be given to decision of such appellate tribunal. Ideally subject to our law
on evidence what is decreed as canonically invalid should also be decreed civilly void.
This is one instance where, in view of the evident source and purpose of the Family Code provision,
contemporaneous religious interpretation is to be given persuasive effect. Here, the State and the
Church while remaining independent, separate and apart from each other shall walk together in
synodal cadence towards the same goal of protecting and cherishing marriage and the family as the
inviolable base of the nation.
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as
counsel for the state. No decision shall he handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a
certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly staring therein his reasons for his agreement
or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting
attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is
deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent
function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.
In the instant case and applying Leouel Santos, we have already ruled to grant the petition. Such ruling
becomes even more cogent with the use of the foregoing guidelines.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
marriage of Roridel Olaviano to Reynaldo Molina subsists and remains valid.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., and Torres, Jr., JJ.,
concur.
Regalado, Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concurs in the result.

Separate Opinions

PADILLA, J., concuring opinion:


I concur in the result of the decision penned by Mr. Justice Panganiban but only because of the
peculiar facts of the case. As to whether or not the psychological incapacity exists in a given case
calling for annulment of a marriage, depends crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts of
the case. InLeouel Santos v. Court of Appeals and Julia Rosario-Bedia Santos, G.R. No. 112019, 4
January 1995, 240 SCRA 20-36, I maintained, and I still maintain, that there was psychological
incapacity on the part of the wife to discharge the duties of a wife in a valid marriage. The facts of the
present case, after an indepth study, do not support a similar conclusion. Obviously, each case must
be judged, not on the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations but according to
its own facts. In the field of psychological incapacity as a ground for annulment of marriage, it is trite to
say that no case is on "all fours" with another case. The trial judge must take pains in examining the
actual millieu and the appellate court must, as much as possible, avoid substituting its own judgment
for that of the trial court.
ROMERO, J., separate opinion:
The majority opinion, overturning that of the Court of Appeals which affirmed the Regional Trial Court
ruling. upheld petitioner Solicitor General's position that "opposing and conflicting personalities" is
not equivalent to psychological incapacity, for the latter "is not simply the neglect by the parties to the
marriage of their responsibilities and duties, but a defect in their Psychological nature which renders
them incapable of performing such marital responsibilities and duties.
In the present case, the alleged personality traits of Reynaldo, the husband, did not constitute so much
"psychological incapacity" as a "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of
some marital obligations. "It is not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities
and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due
to some psychological (not physical) illness."

I would add that neither should the incapacity be the result of mental illness. For if it were due to
insanity or defects in the mental faculties short of insanity, there is a resultant defect of vice of
consent, thus rendering the marriage annulable under Art. 45 of the Family Code.
That the intent of the members of the U.P. Law Center's Civil Code Revision Committee was to
excludemental inability to understand the essential nature of marriage and focus strictly on
psychological incapacity is demonstrated in the way the provision in question underwent revisions.
At the Committee meeting of July 26, 1986, the draft provision read:
(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature
of marriage or was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential
marital obligations, even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the
celebration.
The twists and turns which the ensuing discussion took finally produced the following revised
provision even before the session was over:
(7) That contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even if
such lack or incapacity becomes manifest after the celebration.
Noticeably, the immediately preceding formulation above has dropped any reference to "wanting in the
sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature or marriage" and to "mentally
incapacitated." It was explained that these phrases refer to "defects in the mental faculties vitiating
consent, which is not the idea . . . but lack of appreciation of one's marital obligation." There being a
defect in consent, "it is clear that it should be a ground for voidable marriage because there is the
appearance of consent and it is capable of convalidation for the simple reason that there are lucid
intervals and there are sanity is curable. . . . Psychological incapacity does not refer to mental faculties
and has nothing to do with consent; it refers to obligations attendant to
marriage." 1
My own position as a member of the Committee then was that psychological incapacity is, in a sense,
insanity of a lesser degree.
As to the proposal of Justice Caguioa to use the term "psychological or mental impotence,"
Archbishop Oscar Cruz opined in he earlier February 9, 1984 session that this term "is an invention of
some churchmen who are moralists but not canonists, that is why it is considered a weak phrase." He
said that the Code of Canon Law would rather express it as "psychological or mental incapacity to
discharge. . . ." Justice Ricardo C. Puno opined that sometimes a person may be psychologically
impotent with one but not with another.
One of the guidelines enumerated in the majority opinion for the interpretation and application of Art.
36 is: "Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily
absolutely against everyone of the same sex."
The Committee, through Prof. Araceli T. Barrera, considered the inclusion of the phrase" and is
incurable" but Prof. Esteban B. Bautista commented that this would give rise to the question of how

they will determine curability and Justice Caguioa agreed that it would be more problematic. Yet the
possibility that one may be cured after the psychological incapacity becomes manifest after the
marriage was not ruled out by Justice Puno and Justice Alice Sempio-Diy. Justice Caguioa suggested
that the remedy was to allow the afflicted spouse to remarry.
For clarity, the Committee classified the bases for determining void marriages, viz:
1. lack of one or more of the essential requisites of marriage as
contract;
2. reasons of public policy;
3. special cases and special situations.
The ground of psychological incapacity was subsumed under "special cases and special
situations," hence its special treatment in Art. 36 in the Family Code as finally enacted.
Nowhere in the Civil Code provisions on Marriage is there a ground for avoiding or annulling marriages
that even comes close to being psychological in nature.
Where consent is vitiated due to circumstances existing at the time of the marriage, such marriage
which stands valid until annulled is capable of ratification or convalidation.
On the other hand, for reasons of public policy or lack of essential requisites, some marriages are void
from the beginning.
With the revision of Book I of the Civil Code, particularly the provisions on Marriage, the drafters, now
open to fresh winds of change in keeping with the more permissive mores and practices of the time,
took a leaf from the relatively liberal provisions of Canon Law.
Canon 1095 which states, inter alia, that the following persons are incapable of contracting marriage:
"3. (those) who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage" provided the model for what is now Art. 36 of the Family Code: "A marriage
contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to
comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity
becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
It bears stressing that unlike in Civil Law, Canon Law recognizes only two types of marriages with
respect to their validity: valid and void. Civil Law, however, recognizes an intermediate state, the
voidable or annullable marriages. When the Ecclesiastical Tribunal "annuls" a marriage, it actually
declares the marriage null and void, i.e., it never really existed in the first place, for a valid sacramental
marriage can never be dissolved. Hence, a properly performed and consummated marriage between
two living Roman Catholics can only be nullified by the formal annulment process which entails a full
tribunal procedure with a Court selection and a formal hearing.
Such so-called church "annulments" are not recognized by Civil Law as severing the marriage ties as
to capacitate the parties to enter lawfully into another marriage. The grounds for nullifying civil
marriage, not being congruent with those laid down by Canon Law, the former being more strict, quite a
number of married couples have found themselves in limbo freed from the marriage bonds in the

eyes of the Catholic Church but yet unable to contract a valid civil marriage under state laws. Heedless
of civil law sanctions, some persons contract new marriages or enter into live-in relationships.
It was precisely to provide a satisfactory solution to such anomalous situations that the Civil Law
Revision Committee decided to engraft the Canon Law concept of psychological incapacity into the
Family Code and classified the same as a ground for declaring marriages void ab initio or totally in
existent from the beginning.
A brief historical note on the Old Canon Law (1917). This Old Code, while it did not provide directly for
psychological incapacity, in effect recognized the same indirectly from a combination of three old
canons: "Canon #1081 required persons to 'be capable according to law' in order to give valid consent;
Canon #1082 required that persons 'be at least not ignorant' of the major elements required in
marriage; and Canon #1087 (the force and fear category) required that internal and external freedom be
present in order for consent to be valid. This line of interpretation produced two distinct but related
grounds for annulment, called 'lack of due discretion' and 'lack of due competence.' Lack of due
discretion means that the person did not have the ability to give valid consent at the time of the
wedding and therefore the union is invalid. Lack of due competence means that the person
was incapable of carrying out the obligations of the promise he or she made during the wedding
ceremony.
"Favorable annulment decisions by the Roman Rota in the 1950s and 1960s involving sexual disorders
such as homosexuality and nymphomania laid the foundation for a broader approach to the kind of
proof necessary for psychological grounds for annulment. The Rota had reasoned for the first time in
several cases that the capacity to give valid consent at the time of marriage was probably not present
in persons who had displayed such problems shortly after the marriage. The nature of this change was
nothing short of revolutionary. Once the Rota itself had demonstrated a cautious willingness to use
this kind of hindsight, the way was paved for what came after 1970. Diocesan Tribunals began to
accept proof of serious psychological problems that manifested themselves shortly after the ceremony
as proof of an inability to give valid consent at the time of the ceremony.
Furthermore, and equally significant, the professional opinion of a psychological expert became
increasingly important in such cases. Data about the person's entire life, both before and after the
ceremony, were presented to these experts and they were asked to give professional opinions about a
party's mental at the time of the wedding. These opinions were rarely challenged and tended to be
accepted as decisive evidence of lack of valid consent.
The Church took pains to point out that its new openness in this area did not amount to the addition of
new grounds for annulment, but rather was an accommodation by the Church to the advances made in
psychology during the past decades. There was now the expertise to provide the all-important
connecting link between a marriage breakdown and premarital causes.
During the 1970s, the Church broadened its whole idea of marriage from that of a legal contract to that
of a covenant. The result of this was that it could no longer be assumed in annulment cases that a
person who could intellectually understand the concept of marriage could necessarily give valid
consent to marry. The ability to both grasp and assume the real obligations of a mature, lifelong
commitment are now considered a necessary prerequisite to valid matrimonial consent. 2
Rotal decisions continued applying the concept of incipient psychological incapacity, "not only to
sexual anomalies but to all kinds of personality disorders that incapacitate a spouse or both spouses
from assuming or carrying out the essential obligations of marriage. For marriage . . . is not merely

cohabitation or the right of the spouses to each others' body for heterosexual acts, but is, in its totality,
the right to the community of the whole of life, i.e., the right to a developing. lifelong relationship. Rotal
decisions since 1973 have refined the meaning of psychological or psychic capacity for marriage as
presupposing the development of an adult personality; as meaning the capacity of the spouses to give
themselves to each other and to accept the other as a distinct person; that the spouses must be 'other
oriented' since the obligations of marriage are rooted in a self-giving love; and that the spouses must
have the capacity for interpersonal relationship because marriage is more than just a physical reality
but involves a true intertwining of personalities. The fulfillment of the obligations of marriage depends.
according to Church decisions, on the strength of this interpersonal relationship. A serious incapacity
for interpersonal sharing and support is held to impair the relationship and consequently, the ability to
fulfill the essential marital obligations. The marital capacity of one spouse is not considered in
isolation but in reference to the fundamental relationship to the other spouse. 3
Fr. Green, in an article in Catholic Mind, lists six elements necessary to the mature marital relationship:
The courts consider the following elements crucial to the marital commitment: (1) a
permanent and faithful commitment to the marriage partner; (2) openness to children
and partner; (3) stability; (4) emotional maturity; (5) financial responsibility; (6) an
ability to cope with the ordinary stresses and strains of marriage, etc.
Fr. Green goes on to speak about some of the psychological conditions that might lead
to the failure of a marriage:
At stake is a type of constitutional impairment precluding conjugal communion even
with the best intentions of the parties. Among the psychic factors possibly giving rise
to his or her inability to fulfill marital obligations are the following: (1) antisocial
personality with its fundamental lack of loyalty to persons or sense of moral values; (2)
hyperesthesia, where the individual has no real freedom of sexual choice; (3) the
inadequate personality where personal responses consistently fallshort of reasonable
expectations.
xxx xxx xxx
The psychological grounds are the best approach for anyone who doubts whether he
or she has a case for an annulment on any other terms. A situation that does not fit into
any of the more traditional categories often fits very easily into the psychological
category.
As new as the psychological grounds are, experts are already detecting a shift in their
use. Whereas originally the emphasis was on the parties' inability to exercise proper
judgment at the time of the marriage (lack of due discretion), recent cases seem to be
concentrating on the parties' to assume or carry out their responsibilities an
obligations as promised (lack of due competence). An advantage to using the ground
of lack of due competence is that the at the time the marriage was entered into civil
divorce and breakup of the family almost is of someone's failure out marital
responsibilities as promised at the time the marriage was entered into. 4
In the instant case, "opposing and conflicting personalities" of the spouses were not considered
equivalent to psychological incapacity. As well in Santos v. Court of Appeals cited in the ponencia, the
Court held that the failure of the wife to return home from the U.S. or to communicate with her husband

for more then five years is not proof of her psychological incapacity as to render the marriage a
nullity. 5Therefore, Art. 36 is inapplicable and the marriages remain valid and subsisting.
However in the recent case of Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of Appeals, 6 this Court upheld both the Regional

Trial Court and the Court of Appeals in declaring the presence of psychological incapacity on the
part of the husband. Said petitioner husband, after ten (10) months' sleeping with his wife never
had coitus with her, a fact he did not deny but he alleged that it was due to the physical disorder
of his wife which, however, he failed to prove. Goaded by the indifference and stubborn refusal of
her husband to fulfill a basic marital obligation described as "to procreate children based on the
universal principle that procreation of children through sexual cooperation is the basic end of
marriage," the wife brought the action in the lower court to declare the marriage null.
The Court, quoting Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal
of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (Branch I) on Psychological incapacity concluded:
If a spouse, although physically capable but simply refuses to perform his or her
essential marriage obligations, and the refusal is senseless and constant, Catholic
marriage tribunals attribute the causes to psychological incapacity than to stubborn
refusal. Senseless and protracted refusal is equivalent to psychological incapacity.
Thus, the prolonged refusal of a spouse to have sexual intercourse with his or her
spouse is considered a sign of psychological incapacity.
We declared:
This Court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found themselves trapped
in its mire of unfulfilled vows and unconsummated marital obligations, can do no less but sustain the
studied judgment of respondent appellate court.
1 concur with the majority opinion that the herein marriage remains valid and subsisting absent
psychological incapacity (under Art. 36 of the Family Code) on the part of either or both of the spouses.

VITUG, J., concurring:


I fully concur with my esteemed 'colleague Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban in his ponencia, and I
find to be most helpful the guidelines that he prepared for the bench and the bar in the proper
appreciation of Article 36 of Executive Order No. 209 ("The Family Code of the Philippines"). The term
"psychological incapacity" was neither defined nor exemplified by the Family Code. Thus
Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of
marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization.
The Revision Committee, constituted under the auspices of the U.P. Law Center, which drafted
the Code explained:

(T)he Committee would like the judge to interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis,
guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological
disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the
civil courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provision was taken from Canon
Law. 1
Article 36 of the Family Code was concededly taken from Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law
Canon 1095. (The following persons) are incapable of contracting marriage; (those)
1. who lack sufficient use of reason;
2. who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning essential
matrimonial rights and duties, to be given and accepted mutually;
3. who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage
that should give that much value to Canon Law jurisprudence as an aid to the interpretation
and construction of the statutory enactment. 2
The principles in the proper application of the law teach us that the several provisions of a Code must
be read like a congruent whole. Thus, in determining the import of "psychological incapacity" under
Article 36, one must also read it along with, albeit to be taken as distinct from, the other grounds
enumerated in the Code, like Articles 35, 37, 38 and 41 that would likewise, but for distinct reasons,
render the marriage merely voidable, or Article 55 that could justify a petition for legal separation. Care
must be observed so that these various circumstances are not applied so indiscriminately as if the law
were indifferent on the matter.
I would wish to reiterate the Court's' statement in Santos vs. Court of Appeals; 3 viz:
(T)he use of the phrase "psychological incapacity" under Article 36 of the Code has not
been meant to comprehend all such possible cases of psychoses as, likewise
mentioned by some ecclesiastical authorities, extremely low intelligence, immaturity,
and like circumstances. . . Article 36 of the Family Code cannot be taken and construed
independently of, but must stand in conjunction with, existing precepts in our law on
marriage. Thus correlated, "psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a
mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic
marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties
to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their
mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help
and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to
confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of
personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability of the
spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article
54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the judicial
declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be "legitimate."
The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a
party being of unsound mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism,

homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant


to Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or
homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become mere grounds for
legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions of the Code,
however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances
being themselves, depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of
psychological
incapacity. 4
In fine, the term "psychological incapacity," to be a ground for then nullity of marriage under Article 36
of the Family Code, must be able to pass the following tests; viz:
First, the incapacity must be psychological or mental, not physical, in nature;
Second, the psychological incapacity must relate to the inability, not mere refusal, to understand,
assume end discharge the basic marital obligations of living together, observing love, respect and
fidelity and rendering mutual help and support;
Third, the psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is contracted although its overt
manifestations and the marriage may occur only thereafter; and
Fourth, the mental disorder must be grave or serious and incurable.
It may well be that the Family Code Revision Committee has envisioned Article 36, as not a few
observers would suspect, as another form of absolute divorce or, as still others would also put it, to be
a alternative to divorce; however, the fact still remains that the language of the law has failed to carry
out, even if true, any such intendment. It might have indeed turned out for the better, if it were
otherwise, there could be good reasons to doubt the constitutionality of the measure. The fundamental
law itself, no less, has laid down in terse language its unequivocal command on how the State should
regard marriage and the family, thus
Section 2, Article XV:
Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and
shall be protected by the State.
Section 12, Article II:
Sec. 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and
strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution . . . .
Section 1, Article XV:
Sec. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation.
Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total
development. (The 1987 Constitution)
The case of Marcelino vs. Cruz, 121 SCRA 51, might here be significant not so much for the specific
issue there resolved but for the tone it has set. The Court there has held that constitutional provisions
are to be considered mandatory unless by necessary implication, a different intention is manifest such

that to have them enforced strictly would cause more harm than by disregarding them. It is quite clear
to me that the constitutional mandate on marriage and the family has not been meant to be simply
directory in character, nor for mere expediency or convenience, but one that demands a meaningful,
not half-hearted, respect.

Separate Opinions
PADILLA, J., concuring opinion:
I concur in the result of the decision penned by Mr. Justice Panganiban but only because of the
peculiar facts of the case. As to whether or not the psychological incapacity exists in a given case
calling for annulment of a marriage, depends crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts of
the case. InLeouel Santos v. Court of Appeals and Julia Rosario-Bedia Santos, G.R. No. 112019, 4
January 1995, 240 SCRA 20-36, I maintained, and I still maintain, that there was psychological
incapacity on the part of the wife to discharge the duties of a wife in a valid marriage. The facts of the
present case, after an indepth study, do not support a similar conclusion. Obviously, each case must
be judged, not on the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations but according to
its own facts. In the field of psychological incapacity as a ground for annulment of marriage, it is trite to
say that no case is on "all fours" with another case. The trial judge must take pains in examining the
actual millieu and the appellate court must, as much as possible, avoid substituting its own judgment
for that of the trial court.
ROMERO, J., separate opinion:
The majority opinion, overturning that of the Court of Appeals which affirmed the Regional Trial Court
ruling. upheld petitioner Solicitor General's position that "opposing and conflicting personalities" is
not equivalent to psychological incapacity, for the latter "is not simply the neglect by the parties to the
marriage of their responsibilities and duties, but a defect in their Psychological nature which renders
them incapable of performing such marital responsibilities and duties.
In the present case, the alleged personality traits of Reynaldo, the husband, did not constitute so much
"psychological incapacity" as a "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of
some marital obligations. "It is not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities
and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due
to some psychological (not physical) illness."
I would add that neither should the incapacity be the result of mental illness. For if it were due to
insanity or defects in the mental faculties short of insanity, there is a resultant defect of vice of
consent, thus rendering the marriage annulable under Art. 45 of the Family Code.
That the intent of the members of the U.P. Law Center's Civil Code Revision Committee was to
excludemental inability to understand the essential nature of marriage and focus strictly on
psychological incapacity is demonstrated in the way the provision in question underwent revisions.
At the Committee meeting of July 26, 1986, the draft provision read:
(7) Those marriages contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
wanting in the sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature

of marriage or was psychologically or mentally incapacitated to discharge the essential


marital obligations, even if such lack of incapacity is made manifest after the
celebration.
The twists and turns which the ensuing discussion took finally produced the following revised
provision even before the session was over:
(7) That contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to discharge the essential marital obligations, even if
such lack or incapacity becomes manifest after the celebration.
Noticeably, the immediately preceding formulation above has dropped any reference to "wanting in the
sufficient use of reason or judgment to understand the essential nature or marriage" and to "mentally
incapacitated." It was explained that these phrases refer to "defects in the mental faculties vitiating
consent, which is not the idea . . . but lack of appreciation of one's marital obligation." There being a
defect in consent, "it is clear that it should be a ground for voidable marriage because there is the
appearance of consent and it is capable of convalidation for the simple reason that there are lucid
intervals and there are sanity is curable. . . . Psychological incapacity does not refer to mental faculties
and has nothing to do with consent; it refers to obligations attendant to
marriage." 1
My own position as a member of the Committee then was that psychological incapacity is, in a sense,
insanity of a lesser degree.
As to the proposal of Justice Caguioa to use the term "psychological or mental impotence,"
Archbishop Oscar Cruz opined in he earlier February 9, 1984 session that this term "is an invention of
some churchmen who are moralists but not canonists, that is why it is considered a weak phrase." He
said that the Code of Canon Law would rather express it as "psychological or mental incapacity to
discharge. . . ." Justice Ricardo C. Puno opined that sometimes a person may be psychologically
impotent with one but not with another.
One of the guidelines enumerated in the majority opinion for the interpretation and application of Art.
36 is: "Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily
absolutely against everyone of the same sex."
The Committee, through Prof. Araceli T. Barrera, considered the inclusion of the phrase" and is
incurable" but Prof. Esteban B. Bautista commented that this would give rise to the question of how
they will determine curability and Justice Caguioa agreed that it would be more problematic. Yet the
possibility that one may be cured after the psychological incapacity becomes manifest after the
marriage was not ruled out by Justice Puno and Justice Alice Sempio-Diy. Justice Caguioa suggested
that the remedy was to allow the afflicted spouse to remarry.
For clarity, the Committee classified the bases for determining void marriages, viz:
1. lack of one or more of the essential requisites of marriage as
contract;
2. reasons of public policy;

3. special cases and special situations.


The ground of psychological incapacity was subsumed under "special cases and special
situations," hence its special treatment in Art. 36 in the Family Code as finally enacted.
Nowhere in the Civil Code provisions on Marriage is there a ground for avoiding or annulling marriages
that even comes close to being psychological in nature.
Where consent is vitiated due to circumstances existing at the time of the marriage, such marriage
which stands valid until annulled is capable of ratification or convalidation.
On the other hand, for reasons of public policy or lack of essential requisites, some marriages are void
from the beginning.
With the revision of Book I of the Civil Code, particularly the provisions on Marriage, the drafters, now
open to fresh winds of change in keeping with the more permissive mores and practices of the time,
took a leaf from the relatively liberal provisions of Canon Law.
Canon 1095 which states, inter alia, that the following persons are incapable of contracting marriage:
"3. (those) who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage" provided the model for what is now Art. 36 of the Family Code: "A marriage
contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to
comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity
becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
It bears stressing that unlike in Civil Law, Canon Law recognizes only two types of marriages with
respect to their validity: valid and void. Civil Law, however, recognizes an intermediate state, the
voidable or annullable marriages. When the Ecclesiastical Tribunal "annuls" a marriage, it actually
declares the marriage null and void, i.e., it never really existed in the first place, for a valid sacramental
marriage can never be dissolved. Hence, a properly performed and consummated marriage between
two living Roman Catholics can only be nullified by the formal annulment process which entails a full
tribunal procedure with a Court selection and a formal hearing.
Such so-called church "annulments" are not recognized by Civil Law as severing the marriage ties as
to capacitate the parties to enter lawfully into another marriage. The grounds for nullifying civil
marriage, not being congruent with those laid down by Canon Law, the former being more strict, quite a
number of married couples have found themselves in limbo freed from the marriage bonds in the
eyes of the Catholic Church but yet unable to contract a valid civil marriage under state laws. Heedless
of civil law sanctions, some persons contract new marriages or enter into live-in relationships.
It was precisely to provide a satisfactory solution to such anomalous situations that the Civil Law
Revision Committee decided to engraft the Canon Law concept of psychological incapacity into the
Family Code and classified the same as a ground for declaring marriages void ab initio or totally in
existent from the beginning.
A brief historical note on the Old Canon Law (1917). This Old Code, while it did not provide directly for
psychological incapacity, in effect recognized the same indirectly from a combination of three old
canons: "Canon #1081 required persons to 'be capable according to law' in order to give valid consent;
Canon #1082 required that persons 'be at least not ignorant' of the major elements required in
marriage; and Canon #1087 (the force and fear category) required that internal and external freedom be

present in order for consent to be valid. This line of interpretation produced two distinct but related
grounds for annulment, called 'lack of due discretion' and 'lack of due competence.' Lack of due
discretion means that the person did not have the ability to give valid consent at the time of the
wedding and therefore the union is invalid. Lack of due competence means that the person
was incapable of carrying out the obligations of the promise he or she made during the wedding
ceremony.
"Favorable annulment decisions by the Roman Rota in the 1950s and 1960s involving sexual disorders
such as homosexuality and nymphomania laid the foundation for a broader approach to the kind of
proof necessary for psychological grounds for annulment. The Rota had reasoned for the first time in
several cases that the capacity to give valid consent at the time of marriage was probably not present
in persons who had displayed such problems shortly after the marriage. The nature of this change was
nothing short of revolutionary. Once the Rota itself had demonstrated a cautious willingness to use
this kind of hindsight, the way was paved for what came after 1970. Diocesan Tribunals began to
accept proof of serious psychological problems that manifested themselves shortly after the ceremony
as proof of an inability to give valid consent at the time of the ceremony.
Furthermore, and equally significant, the professional opinion of a psychological expert became
increasingly important in such cases. Data about the person's entire life, both before and after the
ceremony, were presented to these experts and they were asked to give professional opinions about a
party's mental at the time of the wedding. These opinions were rarely challenged and tended to be
accepted as decisive evidence of lack of valid consent.
The Church took pains to point out that its new openness in this area did not amount to the addition of
new grounds for annulment, but rather was an accommodation by the Church to the advances made in
psychology during the past decades. There was now the expertise to provide the all-important
connecting link between a marriage breakdown and premarital causes.
During the 1970s, the Church broadened its whole idea of marriage from that of a legal contract to that
of a covenant. The result of this was that it could no longer be assumed in annulment cases that a
person who could intellectually understand the concept of marriage could necessarily give valid
consent to marry. The ability to both grasp and assume the real obligations of a mature, lifelong
commitment are now considered a necessary prerequisite to valid matrimonial consent. 2
Rotal decisions continued applying the concept of incipient psychological incapacity, "not only to
sexual anomalies but to all kinds of personality disorders that incapacitate a spouse or both spouses
from assuming or carrying out the essential obligations of marriage. For marriage . . . is not merely
cohabitation or the right of the spouses to each others' body for heterosexual acts, but is, in its totality,
the right to the community of the whole of life, i.e., the right to a developing. lifelong relationship. Rotal
decisions since 1973 have refined the meaning of psychological or psychic capacity for marriage as
presupposing the development of an adult personality; as meaning the capacity of the spouses to give
themselves to each other and to accept the other as a distinct person; that the spouses must be 'other
oriented' since the obligations of marriage are rooted in a self-giving love; and that the spouses must
have the capacity for interpersonal relationship because marriage is more than just a physical reality
but involves a true intertwining of personalities. The fulfillment of the obligations of marriage depends.
according to Church decisions, on the strength of this interpersonal relationship. A serious incapacity
for interpersonal sharing and support is held to impair the relationship and consequently, the ability to
fulfill the essential marital obligations. The marital capacity of one spouse is not considered in
isolation but in reference to the fundamental relationship to the other spouse. 3
Fr. Green, in an article in Catholic Mind, lists six elements necessary to the mature marital relationship:

The courts consider the following elements crucial to the marital commitment: (1) a
permanent and faithful commitment to the marriage partner; (2) openness to children
and partner; (3) stability; (4) emotional maturity; (5) financial responsibility; (6) an
ability to cope with the ordinary stresses and strains of marriage, etc.
Fr. Green goes on to speak about some of the psychological conditions that might lead
to the failure of a marriage:
At stake is a type of constitutional impairment precluding conjugal communion even
with the best intentions of the parties. Among the psychic factors possibly giving rise
to his or her inability to fulfill marital obligations are the following: (1) antisocial
personality with its fundamental lack of loyalty to persons or sense of moral values; (2)
hyperesthesia, where the individual has no real freedom of sexual choice; (3) the
inadequate personality where personal responses consistently fallshort of reasonable
expectations.
xxx xxx xxx
The psychological grounds are the best approach for anyone who doubts whether he
or she has a case for an annulment on any other terms. A situation that does not fit into
any of the more traditional categories often fits very easily into the psychological
category.
As new as the psychological grounds are, experts are already detecting a shift in their
use. Whereas originally the emphasis was on the parties' inability to exercise proper
judgment at the time of the marriage (lack of due discretion), recent cases seem to be
concentrating on the parties' to assume or carry out their responsibilities an
obligations as promised (lack of due competence). An advantage to using the ground
of lack of due competence is that the at the time the marriage was entered into civil
divorce and breakup of the family almost is of someone's failure out marital
responsibilities as promised at the time the marriage was entered into. 4
In the instant case, "opposing and conflicting personalities" of the spouses were not considered
equivalent to psychological incapacity. As well in Santos v. Court of Appeals cited in the ponencia, the
Court held that the failure of the wife to return home from the U.S. or to communicate with her husband
for more then five years is not proof of her psychological incapacity as to render the marriage a
nullity. 5Therefore, Art. 36 is inapplicable and the marriages remain valid and subsisting.
However in the recent case of Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of Appeals, 6 this Court upheld both the Regional

Trial Court and the Court of Appeals in declaring the presence of psychological incapacity on the
part of the husband. Said petitioner husband, after ten (10) months' sleeping with his wife never
had coitus with her, a fact he did not deny but he alleged that it was due to the physical disorder
of his wife which, however, he failed to prove. Goaded by the indifference and stubborn refusal of
her husband to fulfill a basic marital obligation described as "to procreate children based on the
universal principle that procreation of children through sexual cooperation is the basic end of
marriage," the wife brought the action in the lower court to declare the marriage null.
The Court, quoting Dr. Gerardo Veloso, a former Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal
of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (Branch I) on Psychological incapacity concluded:

If a spouse, although physically capable but simply refuses to perform his or her
essential marriage obligations, and the refusal is senseless and constant, Catholic
marriage tribunals attribute the causes to psychological incapacity than to stubborn
refusal. Senseless and protracted refusal is equivalent to psychological incapacity.
Thus, the prolonged refusal of a spouse to have sexual intercourse with his or her
spouse is considered a sign of psychological incapacity.
We declared:
This Court, finding the gravity of the failed relationship in which the parties found themselves trapped
in its mire of unfulfilled vows and unconsummated marital obligations, can do no less but sustain the
studied judgment of respondent appellate court.
1 concur with the majority opinion that the herein marriage remains valid and subsisting absent
psychological incapacity (under Art. 36 of the Family Code) on the part of either or both of the spouses.

VITUG, J., concurring:


I fully concur with my esteemed 'colleague Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban in his ponencia, and I
find to be most helpful the guidelines that he prepared for the bench and the bar in the proper
appreciation of Article 36 of Executive Order No. 209 ("The Family Code of the Philippines"). The term
"psychological incapacity" was neither defined nor exemplified by the Family Code. Thus
Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of
marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization.
The Revision Committee, constituted under the auspices of the U.P. Law Center, which drafted
the Code explained:
(T)he Committee would like the judge to interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis,
guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological
disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals which, although not binding on the
civil courts, may be given persuasive effect since the provision was taken from Canon
Law. 1
Article 36 of the Family Code was concededly taken from Canon 1095 of the New Code of Canon Law
Canon 1095. (The following persons) are incapable of contracting marriage; (those)
1. who lack sufficient use of reason;
2. who suffer from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning essential
matrimonial rights and duties, to be given and accepted mutually;
3. who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage

that should give that much value to Canon Law jurisprudence as an aid to the interpretation
and construction of the statutory enactment. 2
The principles in the proper application of the law teach us that the several provisions of a Code must
be read like a congruent whole. Thus, in determining the import of "psychological incapacity" under
Article 36, one must also read it along with, albeit to be taken as distinct from, the other grounds
enumerated in the Code, like Articles 35, 37, 38 and 41 that would likewise, but for distinct reasons,
render the marriage merely voidable, or Article 55 that could justify a petition for legal separation. Care
must be observed so that these various circumstances are not applied so indiscriminately as if the law
were indifferent on the matter.
I would wish to reiterate the Court's' statement in Santos vs. Court of Appeals; 3 viz:
(T)he use of the phrase "psychological incapacity" under Article 36 of the Code has not
been meant to comprehend all such possible cases of psychoses as, likewise
mentioned by some ecclesiastical authorities, extremely low intelligence, immaturity,
and like circumstances. . . Article 36 of the Family Code cannot be taken and construed
independently of, but must stand in conjunction with, existing precepts in our law on
marriage. Thus correlated, "psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a
mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic
marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties
to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their
mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help
and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to
confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of
personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability of the
spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article
54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the judicial
declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be "legitimate."
The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a
party being of unsound mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism,
homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant
to Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or
homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become mere grounds for
legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions of the Code,
however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances
being themselves, depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of
psychological
incapacity. 4
In fine, the term "psychological incapacity," to be a ground for then nullity of marriage under Article 36
of the Family Code, must be able to pass the following tests; viz:
First, the incapacity must be psychological or mental, not physical, in nature;
Second, the psychological incapacity must relate to the inability, not mere refusal, to understand,
assume end discharge the basic marital obligations of living together, observing love, respect and
fidelity and rendering mutual help and support;

Third, the psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is contracted although its overt
manifestations and the marriage may occur only thereafter; and
Fourth, the mental disorder must be grave or serious and incurable.
It may well be that the Family Code Revision Committee has envisioned Article 36, as not a few
observers would suspect, as another form of absolute divorce or, as still others would also put it, to be
a alternative to divorce; however, the fact still remains that the language of the law has failed to carry
out, even if true, any such intendment. It might have indeed turned out for the better, if it were
otherwise, there could be good reasons to doubt the constitutionality of the measure. The fundamental
law itself, no less, has laid down in terse language its unequivocal command on how the State should
regard marriage and the family, thus
Section 2, Article XV:
Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and
shall be protected by the State.
Section 12, Article II:
Sec. 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and
strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution . . . .
Section 1, Article XV:
Sec. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation.
Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total
development. (The 1987 Constitution)
The case of Marcelino vs. Cruz, 121 SCRA 51, might here be significant not so much for the specific
issue there resolved but for the tone it has set. The Court there has held that constitutional provisions
are to be considered mandatory unless by necessary implication, a different intention is manifest such
that to have them enforced strictly would cause more harm than by disregarding them. It is quite clear
to me that the constitutional mandate on marriage and the family has not been meant to be simply
directory in character, nor for mere expediency or convenience, but one that demands a meaningful,
not half-hearted, respect.
Footnotes
1 Rollo pp. 25-33.
2 Sixteenth Division composed of J., Segundino G. Chua, ponente and chairman JJ.,
Serafin V.C. Guingona and Ricardo P. Galvez, concurring.
3 Presided by Judge Heilia S. Mallare-Phillipps.
4 Solemnized by Fr. Jesus C. Encinas.
5 The Court of Appeals reproduced in its Decision a substantial portion of the RTC
Decision is follows:

"To sustain her claim that respondent is psychologically incapacitated to comply with
his marital obligations, petitioner testified that he is immature, irresponsible,
dependent, disrespectful, arrogant, a chronic liar, and an infidel. These characteristics
of respondent are based on petitioner's testimony that the former failed to be gainfully
employed after he was relieved from the office of the Government Corporate Counsel
sometime in February, 1986. leaving petitioner as the sole breadwinner of the family.
Also when they were separated in fact, respondent practically abandoned both
petitioner-mother and son except during the first few months of separation when
respondent regularly visited his son and gave him a monthly allowance of P1,000.00 for
about two to four months. Respondent is likewise dependent on his parents for
financial aid and support as he has no savings, preferring to spend his money with his
friends and peers. A year after their marriage, respondent informed petitioner that he
bought a house and lot at BF Homes, Paraaque for about a million pesos. They then
transferred there only for the petitioner to discover a few months later that they were
actually renting the house with the respondent's parents responsible for the payment
of the rentals. Aside from this. respondent would also lie about his salary and ability.
And that at present, respondent is living with his mistress and their child. which fact he
does not deny.
It is unfortunate that the marriage between petitioner and respondent turned sour if we
look at the background of their relationship. During their college days, when they were
still going steady, respondent observed petitioner to be conservative, homely, and
intelligent causing him to believe then that she would make an ideal wife and mother.
Likewise, petitioner fell in love with respondent because of his thoughtfulness and
gentleness. After a year, however, they decided to break their relationship because of
some differences in their personalities. Almost five (5) years later, while they were
working in Manila, petitioner and respondent rekindled their love affair. They became
very close and petitioner was glad to observe a more mature respondent. Believing that
they know each other much better after two years of going steady, they decided to
settle down and get married. It would seem. therefore, that petitioner and respondent
knew each other well and were then prepared for married life.
During their marriage, however, the true personalities of the parties cropped-up and
dominated their life together. Unexpectedly on both their parts, petitioner and
respondent failed to respond properly to the situation. This failure resulted in their
frequent arguments and fighting's. In fact, even with the intervention and help of their
parents who arranged for their possible reconciliation, the parties could not come to
terms.
It seems clear at this stage that the marriage between the parties broke-up because of
their opposing and conflicting personalities (sic). Neither of them can accept and
understand the weakness of the other. No one gives in and instead, blame each other
for whatever problem or misunderstanding/s they encounter. In fine, respondent cannot
be solely responsible for the failure of other (sic) marriage. Rather, this resulted
because both parties cannot relate to each other as husband and wife which is unique
and requisite in marriage.
Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman with
the basic objective of establishing a conjugal and family life. (Article 1, Family Code).
The unique element of permanency of union signifies a continuing, developing, and
lifelong relationship between the parties. Towards this end, the parties must fully

understand and accept the (implications and consequences of being permanently)


united in marriage. And the maintenance of this relationship demands from the parties,
among others, determination to succeed in their marriage as well as heartfelt
understanding, acceptance, cooperation, and support for each other. Thus, the Family
Code requires them to live together, to observe mutual (love, respect and fidelity, and
render mutual help and support. Failure to observe) and perform these fundamental
roles of a husband and a wife will most likely lead to the break-up of the marriage. Such
is the unfortunate situation in this case. (Decision, pp. 5-8; Original Records, pp. 70-73).
6 240 SCRA 20, 34, January 4, 1995.
7 Quoted from Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy, Handbook on the Family Code, First Edition,
1988.
8 TSN, April 6, 1991, p. 5.
9 The National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal reviews all decisions of the marriage
tribunals of each archdiocese in the country. Aside from heading the Appellate
Tribunal, Most. Rev. Cruz is also incumbent president of the Catholic Bishops'
Conference of the Philippines, Archbishop of Dagupan-Lingayen, and holds the
degrees of Doctor of Canon Law and Doctor of Divinity. Archbishop Cruz was also
Secretary-General of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines PCP II held
from January 20, 1991 to February 17, 1991, which is the rough equivalent of a
parliament or a constitutional convention in the Philippine Church, and where
the ponente, who was a Council member, had the privilege of being overwhelmed by
his keen mind and prayerful discernments.
10 Justice Puno was a former member of the Court of Appeals, retired Minister of
Justice, author, noted civil law professor and the law practitioner.
Article XV
THE FAMILY
Sec. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino Family as the foundation of the nation.
Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total
development.
Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and
shall be protected by the state.
Sec. 3. The State shall defend:
(1) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious
connections and the demands of responsible parenthood;
(2) The right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special
protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty. exploitation, and other conditions
prejudicial to their development;

(3) The right of the family to a family living wage and income;
(4) The right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and
implementation of policies and programs that affect them.
Sec. 4. The family has the duty to care for its elderly members but the state may also do
so through just programs of social security.
Art. 1 Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman
entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It
is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature,
consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation,
except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage
within the limits provided by this Code.
13 Salita vs. Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100, June 13, 1994.
14 This text is taken from the Memorandum of Archbishop Cruz. On the other hand, the
text used in Santos v. CA reads:
"Canon 1095. They are incapable of contracting marriage:
xxx xxx xxx
3. Who for causes of psychological nature are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage.
The difference in wording between this and that in Arch. Cruz's Memorandum is due to
the fact that the original Canon is written in Latin and both versions are differentlyworded English translations.
ROMERO, J., separate opinion:
1 Justice Caguioa's explanation in the Minutes of July 26, 1986 of the Civil Code
Revision Committee of the U.P. Law Center.
2 Zwack , Joseph P. Annulment, A Step-by-Step Guide.
3 The Code of Canon Law, A Text and Commentary, The Canon Law Society of America,
Paulist Press, New York, 1985.
4 Zwack, ibid., p. 47.
5 G.R. No. 112019, 240 SCRA 20 (1995).
6 G.R. No. 119190 (1997).
VITUG, J., concurring:

1 Mr. Justice Josue N. Bellosillo, quoting Mme. Justice Alicia V. Sempio-Diy, In Salita
vs. Hon. Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100.
2 In Santos vs. Court Appeals, 240 SCRA 20.
3 Supra.
4 At pages 34-35.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 126010 December 8, 1999


LUCITA ESTRELLA HERNANDEZ, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and MARIO C. HERNANDEZ, respondents.

MENDOZA, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals, dated January 30, 1996,

affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Tagaytay City, dated April 10, 1993, which
dismissed the petition for annulment of marriage filed by petitioner.
Petitioner Lucita Estrella Hernandez and private respondent Mario C. Hernandez were married at the Silang
Catholic Parish Church in Silang, Cavite on January 1, 1981 (Exh. A). 2 Three children were born to them,

namely, Maie, who was born on May 3, 1982 (Exh. B), 3 Lyra, born on May 22, 1985
(Exh. C), 4 and Marian, born on June 15, 1989 (Exh. D). 5
On July 10, 1992, petitioner filed before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Tagaytay City, a petition seeking
the annulment of her marriage to private respondent on the ground of psychological incapacity of the latter. She
alleged that from the time of their marriage up to the time of the filing of the suit, private respondent failed to
perform his obligation to support the family and contribute to the management of the household, devoting most
of his time engaging in drinking sprees with his friends. She further claimed that private respondent, after they
were married, cohabited with another woman with whom he had an illegitimate child, while having affairs with
different women, and that, because of his promiscuity, private respondent endangered her health by infecting
her with a sexually transmissible disease (STD). She averred that private respondent was irresponsible,
immature and unprepared for the duties of a married life. Petitioner prayed that for having abandoned the
family, private respondent be ordered to give support to their three children in the total amount of P9,000.00

every month; that she be awarded the custody of their children; and that she be adjudged as the sole owner of
a parcel of land located at Don Gregorio Subdivision I in Bo. Bucal, Dasmarias, Cavite, purchased during the
marriage, as well as the jeep which private respondent took with him when he left the conjugal home on June
12, 1992. 6
On October 8, 1992, because of private respondent's failure to file his answer, the trial court issued an order
directing the assistant provincial prosecutor to conduct an investigation to determine if there was collusion
between the
parties. 7 Only petitioner appeared at the investigation on November 5, 1992. Nevertheless, the prosecutor

found no evidence of collusion and recommended that the case be set for trial.

Based on the evidence presented by the petitioner, the facts are as follows: 9
Petitioner and private respondent met in 1977 at the Philippine Christian University in Dasmarias, Cavite.
Petitioner, who is five years older than private respondent, was then in her first year of teaching zoology and
botany. Private respondent, a college freshman, was her student for two consecutive semesters. They became
sweethearts in February 1979 when she was no longer private respondent's teacher. On January 1, 1981, they
were married.
Private respondent continued his studies for two more years. His parents paid for his tuition fees, while
petitioner provided his allowances and other financial needs. The family income came from petitioner's salary
as a faculty member of the Philippine Christian University. Petitioner augmented her earnings by selling
"Tupperware" products, as well as engaging in the buy-and-sell of coffee, rice and polvoron.
From 1983 up to 1986, as private respondent could not find a stable job, it was agreed that he would help
petitioner in her businesses by delivering orders to customers. However, because her husband was a
spendthrift and had other women, petitioner's business suffered. Private respondent often had smoking and
drinking sprees with his friends and betted on fighting cocks. In 1982, after the birth of their first child, petitioner
discovered two love letters written by a certain Realita Villena to private respondent. She knew Villena as a
married student whose husband was working in Saudi Arabia. When petitioner confronted private respondent,
he admitted having an extra-marital affair with Villena. Petitioner then pleaded with Villena to end her
relationship with private respondent. For his part, private respondent said he would end the affairs, but he did
not keep his promise. Instead, he left the conjugal home and abandoned petitioner and their child. When
private respondent came back, however, petitioner accepted him, despite private respondent's infidelity in the
hope of saving their marriage.
Upon the recommendation of a family friend, private respondent was able to get a job at Reynolds Philippines,
Inc. in San Agustin, Dasmarias, Cavite in 1986. However, private respondent was employed only until March
31, 1991, because he availed himself of the early retirement plan offered by the company. He received
P53,000.00 in retirement pay, but instead of spending the amount for the needs of the family, private
respondent spent the money on himself and consumed the entire amount within four months of his retirement.
While private respondent worked at Reynolds Philippines, Inc., his smoking, drinking, gambling and
womanizing became worse. Petitioner discovered that private respondent carried on relationships with different
women. He had relations with a certain Edna who worked at Yazaki; Angie, who was an operator of a billiard
hall; Tess, a "Japayuki"; Myrna Macatangay, a secretary at the Road Master Driver's School in Bayan,
Dasmarias, Cavite, with whom he cohabited for quite a while; and, Ruth Oliva, by whom he had a daughter
named Margie P. Oliva, born on September 15, 1989 (Exh. E). 10 When petitioner confronted private

respondent about his relationship with Tess, he beat her up, as a result of which she was confined at the

De la Salle University Medical Center in Dasmarias, Cavite on July 4-5, 1990 because of cerebral
concussion (Exh. F). 11
According to petitioner, private respondent engaged in extreme promiscuous conduct during the latter part of
1986. As a result, private respondent contracted gonorrhea and infected petitioner. They both received
treatment at the Zapote Medical Specialists Center in Zapote, Bacoor, Cavite from October 22, 1986 until
March 13, 1987 (Exhs. G & H). 12
Petitioner averred that on one occasion of a heated argument, private respondent hit their eldest child who was
then barely a year old. Private respondent is not close to any of their children as he was never affectionate and
hardly spent time with them.

with F & C Realty Corporation whereby


she agreed to buy from the latter a parcel of land at the Don Gregorio Heights Subdivision I in Bo. Bucal,
Dasmarias, Cavite and placed a partial payment of P31,330.00. On May 26, 1987, after full payment of
the amount of P51,067.10, inclusive of interests from monthly installments, a deed of absolute sale(Exh.
K) 14 was executed in her favor and TCT No. T-221529 (Exh. M) 15 was duly issued.
On July 17, 1979, petitioner entered into a contract to sell (Exh. J)

13

According to petitioner, on August 1, 1992, she sent a handwritten


letter 16 to private respondent expressing her frustration over the fact that her efforts to save their marriage

proved futile. In her letter, petitioner also stated that she was allowing him to sell their owner-type
jeepney 17 and to divide the proceeds of the sale between the two of them. Petitioner also told private
respondent of her intention to fill a petition for the annulment of their marriage.
It does not appear that private respondent ever replied to petitioner's letter. By this time, he had already
abandoned petitioner and their children. In October 1992, petitioner learned that private respondent left for the
Middle East. Since then, private respondent's whereabouts had been unknown.
Ester Alfaro, petitioner's childhood friend and co-teacher at the Philippine Christian University, testified during
the hearing on the petition for annulment. She said that sometime in June 1979, petitioner introduced private
respondent to her (Alfaro) as the former's sweetheart. Alfaro said she was not impressed with private
respondent who was her student in accounting. She observed private respondent to be fun-loving, spending
most of his time with campus friends. In November 1980, when petitioner asked Alfaro to be one of the
secondary sponsors at her forthcoming wedding, Alfaro wanted to dissuade petitioner from going through with
the wedding because she thought private respondent was not ready for married life as he was then
unemployed. True enough, although the couple appeared happy during the early part of their marriage, it was
not long thereafter that private respondent started drinking with his friends and going home late at night. Alfaro
corroborated petitioner's claim that private respondent was a habitual drunkard who carried on relationships
with different women and continued hanging out with his friends. She also confirmed that petitioner was once
hospitalized because she was beaten up by private respondent. After the first year of petitioner's marriage,
Alfaro tried to talk to private respondent, but the latter accused her of meddling with their marital life. Alfaro said
that private respondent was not close to his children and that he had abandoned petitioner. 18

dismissing the petition for annulment of marriage filed


by petitioner. The pertinent portion of the decision reads: 20
On April 10, 1993, the trial court rendered a decision

19

The Court can underscore the fact that the circumstances mentioned by the petitioner in
support of her claim that respondent was "psychologically incapacitated" to marry her are
among the grounds cited by the law as valid reasons for the grant of legal separation (Article

55 of the Family Code) not as grounds for a declaration of nullity of marriages or annulment
thereof. Thus, Article 55 of the same code reads as follows:
Art. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following
grounds:
(1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against
the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner;
xxx xxx xxx
(5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;
xxx xxx xxx
(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion;
xxx xxx xxx
(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for
more than one year.
xxx xxx xxx
If indeed Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, which mentions psychological
incapacity as a ground for the declaration of the nullity of a marriage, has intended to include
the above-stated circumstances as constitutive of such incapacity, then the same would not
have been enumerated as grounds for legal separation.
In the same manner, this Court is not disposed to grant relief in favor of the petitioner under
Article 46, paragraph (3) of the Family Code of the Philippines, as there is no dispute that the
"gonorrhea" transmitted to the petitioner by respondent occurred sometime in 1986, or five (5)
years after petitioner's marriage with respondent was celebrated in 1981. The provisions of
Article 46, paragraph (3) of the same law should be taken in conjunction with Article 45,
paragraph (3) of the same code, and a careful reading of the two (2) provisions of the law
would require the existence of this ground (fraud) at the time of the celebration of the
marriage. Hence, the annulment of petitioner's marriage with the respondent on this ground,
as alleged and proved in the instant case, cannot be legally accepted by the Court.
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which, on January 30, 1996, rendered its decision affirming the
decision of the trial court. Citing the ruling in Santos v. Court of Appeals, 21 the Court of Appeals held: 22
It is clear in the above law and jurisprudence that the psychological incapacity of a spouse, as
a ground for declaration of nullify of marriage, must exist at the time of the celebration of
marriage. More so, chronic sexual infidelity, abandonment, gambling and use of prohibited
drugs are not grounds per se, of psychological incapacity of a spouse.
We agree with the Solicitor General that petitioner-appellant failed to prove that her
respondent-husband was psychologically incapacitated at the time of the celebration of the
marriage. Certainly, petitioner-appellant's declaration that at the time of their marriage her

respondent-husband's character was on the "borderline between a responsible person and


the happy-go-lucky," could not constitute the psychological incapacity in contemplation of
Article 36 of the Family Code. In fact, petitioner-appellant herself ascribed said attitude to her
respondent-husband's youth and very good looks, who was admittedly several years younger
than petitioner-appellant who, herself, happened to be the college professor of her
respondent-husband. Petitioner-appellant even described her respondent-husband not as a
problem student but a normal one (p. 24, tsn, Dec. 8, 1992).
The acts and attitudes complained of by petitioner-appellant happened after the marriage and
there is no proof that the same have already existed at the time of the celebration of the
marriage to constitute the psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code.
Hence, this petition. Petitioner contends that the respondent Court of Appeals erred
I. IN FINDING THAT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF THE
PRIVATE RESPONDENT TO COMPLY WITH HIS ESSENTIAL MARITAL
OBLIGATIONS DID NOT EXIST FROM THE TIME OF THE CELEBRATION
OF THE MARRIAGE.
II. IN RULING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT WAS NOT
PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPACITATED TO COMPLY WITH HIS
ESSENTIAL MARITAL OBLIGATIONS.
III. IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT DENYING THE
AWARD OF PERMANENT CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN TO
PETITIONER.
IV. IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT DENYING THE
PRAYER FOR ISSUANCE OF AN ORDER REQUIRING PRIVATE
RESPONDENT TO GIVE SUPPORT TO THE THREE CHILDREN IN THE
AMOUNT OF P3,000,00 PER CHILD.
V. IN NOT DECLARING THE REAL PROPERTY ACQUIRED BY
PETITIONER AS HER EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY.
The issue in this case is whether or not the marriage of petitioner and private respondent should be annulled on
the ground of private respondent's psychological incapacity.
Petitioner alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that petitioner failed to show that private
respondent's psychological incapacity existed at the time of the celebration of the marriage. She argues that
the fact that the acts of incapacity of private respondent became manifest only after the celebration of their
marriage should not be a bar to the annulment of their marriage.
Art. 36 of the Family Code states:
A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically
incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be
void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization. 23
In Santos v. Court of Appeals, 24 we held:

"Psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that
causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must
be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article
68 of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect
and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the
law has been to confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases
of personality, disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give
meaning and significance to the marriage. This psychological condition must exist at the time
the marriage is celebrated. The law does not evidently envision, upon the other hand, an
inability of the spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under
Article 54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the judicial
declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be "legitimate."
The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a party
being of unsound mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality
or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family
Code. If drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or homosexuality should occur only
during the marriage, they become mere grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the
Family Code. These provisions of the Code, however, do not necessarily preclude the
possibility of these various circumstances being themselves, depending on the degree and
severity of the disorder, indicia of psychological incapacity.
Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are established, every circumstance that
may have some bearing on the degree, extent, and other conditions of that incapacity must, in
every case, be carefully examined and evaluated so that no precipitate and indiscriminate
nullity is peremptorily decreed. The well-considered opinions of psychiatrists, psychologists,
and persons with expertise in psychological disciplines might be helpful or even desirable.
In the instant case, other than her self-serving declarations, petitioner failed to establish the fact that at the time
they were married, private respondent was suffering from a psychological defect which in fact deprived him of
the ability to assume the essential duties of marriage and its concomitant responsibilities. As the Court of
Appeals pointed out, no evidence was presented to show that private respondent was not cognizant of the
basic marital obligations. It was not sufficiently proved that private respondent was really incapable of fulfilling
his duties due to some incapacity of a psychological nature, and not merely physical. Petitioner says that at the
outset of their marriage, private respondent showed lack of drive to work for his family. Private respondent's
parents and petitioner supported him through college. After his schooling, although he eventually found a job,
he availed himself of the early retirement plan offered by his employer and spent the entire amount he received
on himself. For a greater part of their marital life, private respondent was out of job and did not have the
initiative to look for another. He indulged in vices and engaged in philandering, and later abandoned his family.
Petitioner concludes that private respondent's condition is incurable, causing the disintegration of their union
and defeating the very objectives of marriage.
However, private respondent's alleged habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment do
not by themselves constitute grounds for finding that he is suffering from psychological incapacity within the
contemplation of the Family Code. It must be shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered
personality which make private respondent completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the
marital state, and not merely due to private respondent's youth and self-conscious feeling of being handsome,
as the appellate court held. As pointed out in Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals: 25
The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified,
(b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the

decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological
not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence
must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or physically ill to such
an extent that the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid
assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need given here so as not to limit
the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis (citing Salaita v.
Magtolis, supra) nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness
and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified
psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
Moreover, expert testimony should have been presented to establish the precise cause of private respondent's
psychological incapacity, if any, in order to show that it existed at the inception of the marriage. The burden of
proof to show the nullity of the marriage rests upon rests petitioner. The Court is mindful of the policy of the
1987 Constitution to protect and strengthen the family as the basic autonomous social institution and marriage
as the foundation of the
family. 26 Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. 27
We, therefore, find no reason to reverse the ruling of respondent Court of Appeals whose conclusions, affirming
the trial court's finding with regard to the non-existence of private respondent's psychological incapacity at the
time of the marriage, are entitled to great weight and even finality. 28 Only where it is shown that such findings

are whimsical, capricious, and arbitrary can these be overturned.


The conclusion we have reached makes it unnecessary for us to pass upon petitioner's contentions on the
issue of permanent custody of children, the amount for their respective support, and the declaration of
exclusive ownership of petitioner over the real property. These matters may more appropriately be litigated in a
separate proceeding for legal separation, dissolution of property regime, and/or custody of children which
petitioner may bring.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeal is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Buena and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 136490

October 19, 2000

BRENDA B. MARCOS, petitioner,


vs.
WILSON G. MARCOS, respondent.
DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:
Psychological incapacity, as a ground for declaring the nullity of a marriage, may be established by the totality
of evidence presented. There is no requirement, however, that the respondent should be examined by a
physician or a psychologist as a conditio sine qua non for such declaration.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the July 24, 1998
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No. 55588, which disposed as follows:
"WHEREFORE, the contested decision is set aside and the marriage between the parties is hereby declared
valid."2
Also challenged by petitioner is the December 3, 1998 CA Resolution denying her Motion for Reconsideration.
Earlier, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) had ruled thus:
"WHEREFORE, the marriage between petitioner Brenda B. Marcos and respondent Wilson G. Marcos,
solemnized on September 6, 1982 in Pasig City is declared null and void ab initio pursuant to Art. 36 of the
Family Code. The conjugal properties, if any, is dissolved [sic] in accordance with Articles 126 and 129 of the
same Code in relation to Articles 50, 51 and 52 relative to the delivery of the legitime of [the] parties' children. In
the best interest and welfare of the minor children, their custody is granted to petitioner subject to the visitation
rights of respondent.
"Upon finality of this Decision, furnish copy each to the Office of the Civil Registrar of Pasig City where the
marriage was solemnized, the National Census and Statistics Office, Manila and the Register of Deeds of
Mandaluyong City for their appropriate action consistent with this Decision.
"SO ORDERED."
The Facts
The facts as found by the Court of Appeals are as follows:
"It was established during the trial that the parties were married twice: (1) on September 6, 1982 which was
solemnized by Judge Eriberto H. Espiritu at the Municipal Court of Pasig (Exh. A); and (2) on May 8, 1983
which was solemnized by Rev. Eduardo L. Eleazar, Command Chaplain, at the Presidential Security Command
Chapel in Malacaang Park, Manila (Exh. A-1). Out of their marriage, five (5) children were born (Exhs. B, C, D,
E and F).
"Appellant Wilson G. Marcos joined the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 1973. Later on, he was transferred
to the Presidential Security Command in Malacaang during the Marcos Regime. Appellee Brenda B. Marcos,
on the other hand, joined the Women's Auxilliary Corps under the Philippine Air Force in 1978. After the Edsa
Revolution, both of them sought a discharge from the military service.
"They first met sometime in 1980 when both of them were assigned at the Malacaang Palace, she as an
escort of Imee Marcos and he as a Presidential Guard of President Ferdinand Marcos. Through telephone
conversations, they became acquainted and eventually became sweethearts.

"After their marriage on September 6, 1982, they resided at No. 1702 Daisy Street, Hulo Bliss, Mandaluyong, a
housing unit which she acquired from the Bliss Development Corporation when she was still single.
"After the downfall of President Marcos, he left the military service in 1987 and then engaged in different
business ventures that did not however prosper. As a wife, she always urged him to look for work so that their
children would see him, instead of her, as the head of the family and a good provider. Due to his failure to
engage in any gainful employment, they would often quarrel and as a consequence, he would hit and beat her.
He would even force her to have sex with him despite her weariness. He would also inflict physical harm on
their children for a slight mistake and was so severe in the way he chastised them. Thus, for several times
during their cohabitation, he would leave their house. In 1992, they were already living separately.
"All the while, she was engrossed in the business of selling "magic uling" and chickens. While she was still in
the military, she would first make deliveries early in the morning before going to Malacaang. When she was
discharged from the military service, she concentrated on her business. Then, she became a supplier in the
Armed Forces of the Philippines until she was able to put up a trading and construction company, NS Ness
Trading and Construction Development Corporation.
"The 'straw that broke the camel's back' took place on October 16, 1994, when they had a bitter quarrel. As
they were already living separately, she did not want him to stay in their house anymore. On that day, when she
saw him in their house, she was so angry that she lambasted him. He then turned violent, inflicting physical
harm on her and even on her mother who came to her aid. The following day, October 17, 1994, she and their
children left the house and sought refuge in her sister's house.
"On October 19, 1994, she submitted herself [to] medical examination at the Mandaluyong Medical Center
where her injuries were diagnosed as contusions (Exh. G, Records, 153).
"Sometime in August 1995, she together with her two sisters and driver, went to him at the Bliss unit in
Mandaluyong to look for their missing child, Niko. Upon seeing them, he got mad. After knowing the reason for
their unexpected presence, he ran after them with a samurai and even [beat] her driver.
"At the time of the filing of this case, she and their children were renting a house in Camella, Paraaque, while
the appellant was residing at the Bliss unit in Mandaluyong.
"In the case study conducted by Social Worker Sonia C. Millan, the children described their father as cruel and
physically abusive to them (Exh. UU, Records, pp. 85-100).
"The appellee submitted herself to psychologist Natividad A. Dayan, Ph.D., for psychological evaluation (Exh.
YY, Records, pp. 207-216), while the appellant on the other hand, did not.
"The court a quo found the appellant to be psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations
mainly because of his failure to find work to support his family and his violent attitude towards appellee and
their children, x x x."3
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Reversing the RTC, the CA held that psychological incapacity had not been established by the totality of the
evidence presented. It ratiocinated in this wise:
"Essential in a petition for annulment is the allegation of the root cause of the spouse's psychological incapacity
which should also be medically or clinically identified, sufficiently proven by experts and clearly explained in the

decision. The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage and shown
to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. It must also be grave enough to bring about the disability of
the parties to assume the essential obligations of marriage as set forth in Articles 68 to 71 and Articles 220 to
225 of the Family Code and such non-complied marital obligations must similarly be alleged in the petition,
established by evidence and explained in the decision.
"In the case before us, the appellant was not subjected to any psychological or psychiatric evaluation. The
psychological findings about the appellant by psychiatrist Natividad Dayan were based only on the interviews
conducted with the appellee. Expert evidence by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists is essential if
only to prove that the parties were or any one of them was mentally or psychically ill to be truly incognitive of
the marital obligations he or she was assuming, or as would make him or her x x x unable to assume them. In
fact, he offered testimonial evidence to show that he [was] not psychologically incapacitated. The root cause of
his supposed incapacity was not alleged in the petition, nor medically or clinically identified as a psychological
illness or sufficiently proven by an expert. Similarly, there is no evidence at all that would show that the
appellant was suffering from an incapacity which [was] psychological or mental - not physical to the extent that
he could not have known the obligations he was assuming: that the incapacity [was] grave, ha[d] preceded the
marriage and [was] incurable."4
Hence, this Petition.5
Issues
In her Memorandum,6 petitioner presents for this Court's consideration the following issues:
"I. Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals could set aside the findings by the Regional Trial
Court of psychological incapacity of a respondent in a Petition for declaration of nullity of marriage
simply because the respondent did not subject himself to psychological evaluation.
II. Whether or not the totality of evidence presented and the demeanor of all the witnesses should be
the basis of the determination of the merits of the Petition." 7
The Court's Ruling
We agree with petitioner that the personal medical or psychological examination of respondent is not a
requirement for a declaration of psychological incapacity. Nevertheless, the totality of the evidence she
presented does not show such incapacity.
Preliminary Issue: Need for Personal Medical Examination
Petitioner contends that the testimonies and the results of various tests that were submitted to determine
respondent's psychological incapacity to perform the obligations of marriage should not have been brushed
aside by the Court of Appeals, simply because respondent had not taken those tests himself. Petitioner adds
that the CA should have realized that under the circumstances, she had no choice but to rely on other sources
of information in order to determine the psychological capacity of respondent, who had refused to submit
himself to such tests.
In Republic v. CA and Molina,8 the guidelines governing the application and the interpretation of psychological
incapacity referred to in Article 36 of the Family Code9 were laid down by this Court as follows:

"1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be
resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and
nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage
and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it 'as
the foundation of the nation.' It decrees marriage as legally 'inviolable,' thereby protecting it from
dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be 'protected' by the state.
xxx

xxx

xxx

2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified, (b)
alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision.
Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological - not physical,
although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court
that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could
not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid
assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the
application of the provision under the principle ofejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must
be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence
may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at 'the time of the celebration' of the marriage. The
evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their 'I do's.' The
manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have
attached at such moment, or prior thereto.
4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily
absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the
assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise
of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses
of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but not be psychologically capacitated to procreate,
bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.
5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential
obligations of marriage. Thus, 'mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional
emotional outbursts cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright
incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a
natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality
structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the
obligations essential to marriage.
6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family
Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in
regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the
petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.
7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts.
xxx

xxx

xxx

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as
counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a
certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement
or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting
attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is
deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent
function of the defensor vinculicontemplated under Canon 1095."10
The guidelines incorporate the three basic requirements earlier mandated by the Court in Santos v. Court of
Appeals:11 "psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity (b) juridical antecedence, and (c)
incurability." The foregoing guidelines do not require that a physician examine the person to be declared
psychologically incapacitated. In fact, the root cause may be "medically or clinically identified." What is
important is the presence of evidence that can adequately establish the party's psychological condition. For
indeed, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity, then
actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to.
Main Issue: Totality of Evidence Presented
The main question, then, is whether the totality of the evidence presented in the present case -- including the
testimonies of petitioner, the common children, petitioner's sister and the social worker -- was enough to
sustain a finding that respondent was psychologically incapacitated.
We rule in the negative. Although this Court is sufficiently convinced that respondent failed to provide material
support to the family and may have resorted to physical abuse and abandonment, the totality of his acts does
not lead to a conclusion of psychological incapacity on his part. There is absolutely no showing that his
"defects" were already present at the inception of the marriage or that they are incurable.
Verily, the behavior of respondent can be attributed to the fact that he had lost his job and was not gainfully
employed for a period of more than six years. It was during this period that he became intermittently drunk,
failed to give material and moral support, and even left the family home.
Thus, his alleged psychological illness was traced only to said period and not to the inception of the marriage.
Equally important, there is no evidence showing that his condition is incurable, especially now that he is
gainfully employed as a taxi driver.
1wphi1

Article 36 of the Family Code, we stress, is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at
the time the causes therefor manifest themselves. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party
even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of
awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume. These marital
obligations are those provided under Articles 68 to 71, 220, 221 and 225 of the Family Code.
Neither is Article 36 to be equated with legal separation, in which the grounds need not be rooted in
psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil interdiction, drug
addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like. 12 At best, the evidence presented by
petitioner refers only to grounds for legal separation, not for declaring a marriage void.
Because Article 36 has been abused as a convenient divorce law, this Court laid down the procedural
requirements for its invocation in Molina. Petitioner, however, has not faithfully observed them.

In sum, this Court cannot declare the dissolution of the marriage for failure of petitioner to show that the alleged
psychological incapacity is characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability; and for her failure to
observe the guidelines outlined in Molina.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and assailed Decision AFFIRMED, except that portion requiring
personal medical examination as a conditio sine qua non to a finding of psychological incapacity. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 109975

February 9, 2001

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
ERLINDA MATIAS DAGDAG, respondent.
QUISUMBING, J.:
For review on certiorari is the decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated April 22, 1993, in CA-G.R. CY No. 34378,
which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City in Civil Case No. 380-0-90 declaring
the marriage of Erlinda Matias Dagdag and Avelino Dagdag void under Article 36 of the Family Code.
On September 7, 1975, Erlinda Matias, 16 years old, married Avelino Parangan Dagdag, 20 years old, at the
Iglesia Filipina Independent Church in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija. 2 The marriage certificate was issued by the Office
of the Local Civil Registrar of the Municipality of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, on October 20, 1988.
Erlinda and Avelino begot two children, namely: Avelyn M. Dagdag, born on January 16, 1978; and Eden M.
Dagdag, born on April 21, 1982.3 Their birth certificates were issued by the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of
the Municipality of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, also on October 20, 1988.
Erlinda and Avelino lived in a house in District 8, Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, located at the back of the house of their
in-laws.4 A week after the wedding, Avelino started leaving his family without explanation. He would disappear
for months, suddenly reappear for a few months, then disappear again. During the times when he was with his
family, he indulged in drinking sprees with friends and would return home drunk. He would force his wife to
submit to sexual intercourse and if she refused, he would inflict physical injuries on her.5
On October 1993, he left his family again and that was the last they heard from him. Erlinda was constrained to
look for a job in Olongapo City as a manicurist to support herself and her children. Finally, Erlinda learned that
Avelino was imprisoned for some crime,6 and that he escaped from jail on October 22, 1985. 7 A certification
therefor dated February 14, 1990, was issued by Jail Warden Orlando S. Limon. Avelino remains at-large to
date.
On July 3, 1990, Erlinda filed with the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City a petition for judicial declaration of
nullity of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. 8 Since Avelino
could not be located, summons was served by publication in the Olongapo News, a newspaper of general
circulation, on September 3, 10, and 17, 1990.9 Subsequently, a hearing was conducted to establish
jurisdictional facts. Thereafter, on December 17, 1990, the date set for presentation of evidence, only Erlinda

and her counsel appeared. Erlinda testified and presented her sister-in-law, Virginia Dagdag, as her only
witness.
Virginia testified that she is married to the brother of Avelino. She and her husband live in Olongapo City but
they spend their vacations at the house of Avelino's parents in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija. She testified that Erlinda
and Avelino always quarrelled, and that Avelino never stayed for long at the couple's house. She knew that
Avelino had been gone for a long time now, and that she pitied Erlinda and the children. 10
Thereafter, Erlinda rested her case. The trial court issued an Order giving the investigating prosecutor until
January 2, 1991, to manifest in writing whether or not he would present controverting evidence, and stating that
should he fail to file said manifestation, the case would be deemed submitted for decision.
In compliance with the Order, the investigating prosecutor conducted an investigation and found that there was
no collusion between the parties. However, he intended to intervene in the case to avoid fabrication of
evidence.11
On December 27, 1990, without waiting for the investigating prosecutor's manifestation dated December 5,
1990, the trial court rendered a decision12 declaring the marriage of Erlinda and Avelino void under Article 36 of
the Family Code, disposing thus:
"WHEREFORE, and viewed from the foregoing considerations, the Court hereby declares the
marriage celebrated at Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija between Erlinda Matias and Avelino Dagdag on 7
September 1975 to be null and void.
The Local Civil Registrar of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija is hereby ordered to enter into his Book of Marriage
this declaration after this decision shall have become final and executory .
SO ORDERED."
On January 29, 1991, the investigating prosecutor filed a Motion to Set Aside Judgment on the ground that the
decision was prematurely rendered since he was given until January 2, 1991 to manifest whether he was
presenting controverting evidence.
The Office of the Solicitor General likewise filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the decision on the ground that
the same is not in accordance with the evidence and the law. After requiring Erlinda to comment, the trial court
denied the Motion for Reconsideration in an Order dated August 21, 1991 as follows: 13
"This resolves the Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of this Honorable Court dated December
27, 1990 filed by the Solicitor-General. The observation of the movant is to the effect that 'Mere
alcoholism and abusiveness are not enough to show psychological incapacity. Nor is abandonment.
These are common in marriage. There must be showing that these traits, stemmed from psychological
incapacity existing at the time of celebration of the marriage.
In the case at bar, the abandonment is prolonged as the husband left his wife and children since 1983.
The defendant, while in jail escaped and whose present whereabouts are unknown. He failed to
support his family for the same period of time, actuations clearly indicative of the failure of the husband
to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage defined and enumerated under Article 68 of
the Family Code. These findings of facts are uncontroverted.
1wphi1.nt

Defendant's character traits, by their nature, existed at the time of marriage and became manifest only
after the marriage. In rerum natura, these traits are manifestations of lack of marital responsibility and
appear now to be incurable. Nothing can be graver since the family members are now left to fend for
themselves. Contrary to the opinion of the Solicitor-General, these are not common in marriage.

Let it be said that the provisions of Article 36 of the New Family Code, to assuage the sensibilities of
the more numerous church, is a substitute for divorce (See: Sempio Diy, New Family Code, p. 36) in
order to dissolve marriages that exist only in name.
WHEREFORE, and the foregoing considered, the motion for Reconsideration aforecited is DENIED for
lack of merit.
SO ORDERED"
The Solicitor General appealed to the Court of Appeals, raising the sole assignment of error that:
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING APPELLEE'S MARRIAGE TO A VELINO DAGDAG
NULL AND VOID ON THE GROUND OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF THE LATTER,
PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 36 OF THE FAMILY CODE, THE PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF THE
NATURE CONTEMPLATED BY THE LAW NOT HAVING BEEN PROVEN TO EXIST.14
On April 22, 1993, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision 15 affirming the decision of the trial court, disposing
thus:
"Avelino Dagdag is psychologically incapacitated not only because he failed to perform the duties and
obligations of a married person but because he is emotionally immature and irresponsible, an
alcoholic, and a criminal. Necessarily, the plaintiff is now endowed with the right to seek the judicial
declaration of nullity of their marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code. Defendant's constant nonfulfillment of any of such obligations is continously (sic) destroying the integrity or wholeness of his
marriage with the plaintiff. (Pineda, The Family Code of the Philippines Annotated, 1992 Ed., p. 46)." 16
Hence, the present petition for review ,17 filed by the Solicitor General.
The Solicitor General contends that the alleged psychological incapacity of Avelino Dagdag is not of the nature
contemplated by Article 36 of the Family Code. According to him, the Court of Appeals made an erroneous and
incorrect interpretation of the phrase "psychological incapacity" and an incorrect application thereof to the facts
of the case. Respondent, in her Comment, insists that the facts constituting psychological incapacity were
proven by preponderance of evidence during trial.
At issue is whether or not the trial court and the Court of Appeals correctly declared the marriage as null and
void under Article 36 of the Family Code, on the ground that the husband suffers from psychological incapacity
as he is emotionally immature and irresponsible, a habitual alcoholic, and a fugitive from justice.
Article 36 of the Family Code provides "A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically
incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if
such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization."
Whether or not psychological incapacity exists in a given case calling for annulment of a marriage, depends
crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts of the case. Each case must be judged, not on the basis
ofa priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations but according to its own facts. In regard to psychological
incapacity as a ground for annulment of marriage, it is trite to say that no case is on "all fours" with another
case. The trial judge must take pains in examining the factual milieu and the appellate court must, as much as
possible, avoid substituting its own judgment for that of the trial court. 18
In Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,19 the Court laid down the following GUIDELINES in the
interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code:

"(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be
resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and
nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage
and unity of the family. x x x
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified, (b)
alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision.
Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological - not physical,
although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court
that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could
not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid
assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the
application of the provision under the principle ofejusdem generis (Salita vs. Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100,
June 13, 1994), nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its
incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and
clinical psychologists.
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the marriage. The
evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their "I do's." The
manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have
attached at such moment, or prior thereto.
(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily
absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the
assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise
of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses
of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to
procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential
obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional
emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright
incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less in will. In other words, there is a
natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality
structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the
obligations essential to marriage.
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family
Code20as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code 21 in
regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the
petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. x x x
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as
counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a
certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement
or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor-General, along with the prosecuting
attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is
deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor-General shall discharge the equivalent
function of the defensor vinculicontemplated under Canon 1095."22
Taking into consideration these guidelines, it is evident that Erlinda failed to comply with the above-mentioned
evidentiary requirements. Erlinda failed to comply with guideline No. 2 which requires that the root cause of

psychological incapacity must be medically or clinically identified and sufficiently proven by experts, since no
psychiatrist or medical doctor testified as to the alleged psychological incapacity of her husband. Further, the
allegation that the husband is a fugitive from justice was not sufficiently proven. In fact, the crime for which he
was arrested was not even alleged. The investigating prosecutor was likewise not given an opportunity to
present controverting evidence since the trial court's decision was prematurely rendered.
In the case of Hernandez v. Court of Appeals,23 we affirmed the dismissal of the trial court and Court of Appeals
of the petition for annulment on the ground of dearth of the evidence presented. We further explained therein
that "Moreover, expert testimony should have been presented to establish the precise cause of private
respondent's psychological incapacity, if any, in order to show that it existed at the inception of the
marriage. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage rests upon petitioner. The Court is
mindful of the policy of the 1987 Constitution to protect and strengthen the family as the basic
autonomous social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family. (Art. II, Sec. 12, Art. XV,
Secs. 1-2) Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. (citing Republic
of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, supra. )"24
WHEREFORE, the present petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated April 22,
1993, in CA-G.R. CY No. 34378 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

Footnote
1

Rollo, pp. 28-38.

Id. at 29.

Id. at 30-31.

TSN, December 17, 1990, p. 6; Records, p. 47.

Rollo, p. 29.

The records did not specify what crime.

Records, p. 32.

Originally, Article 39 of the Family Code provided: "Art. 39, The action or defense for the declaration
of absolute nullity of a marriage shall not prescribe. However, in the case of marriage celebrated
before the effectivity of this Code and falling under Article 36, such action or defense shall prescribe in
ten years after this Code shall have taken effect." However, Republic Act No, 8533 was eventually
enacted and approved on February 23, 1998, which amended Article 39 to read as follows: "Art. 39,
The action or defense for the declaration of absolute nullity of a marriage shall not prescribe."
8

RTC Records, p. 16.

10

TSN, December 17,1990, pp. 22-23.

11

RTC Records, p. 33.

12

Id. at 38-40.

13

Id. at 96.

14

Rollo, p. 10.

15

Id. at 28-38.

16

Id. at 37-38 only.

17

Id. at 6-26.

18

Republic v. Court of Appeals, 268 SCRA 198, 214 (1997), Padilla, J., Separate Statement.

19

268 SCRA 198 (1997).

Article 68, Family Code. The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love,
respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.
20

Art. 69, Family Code. The husband and wife shall fix the family domicile. In case of disagreement, the
court shall decide. x x x
Art. 70, Family Code. The spouses are jointly responsible for the support of the family. The expenses
for such support and other conjugal obligations shall be paid from the community property and, in the
absence thereof, from the income or fruits of their separate properties. In case of insufficiency or
absence of said income or fruits, such obligations shall be satisfied from their separate properties.
Art. 71, Family Code. The management of the household shall be the right and duty of both spouses.
The expenses for such management shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of Article 70.
Article 220, Family Code. The parents and those exercising parental authority shall have with respect
to their unemancipated children or wards the following rights and duties:
21

(1) To keep them in their company, to support, educate and instruct them by right precept and
good example, and to provide for their upbringing in keeping with their means;
(2) To give them love and affection, advice and counsel, companionship and understanding;
(3) To provide them with moral and spiritual guidance, inculcate in them honesty, integrity, selfdiscipline, self-reliance, industry and thrift, stimulate their interest in civic affairs, and inspire in
them compliance with the duties of citizenship;
(4) To enhance, protect, preserve and maintain their physical and mental health at all times;
(5) To furnish them with good and wholesome educational materials, supervise their activities,
recreation and association with others, protect them from bad company, and prevent them
from acquiring habits detrimental to their health, studies and morals;
(6) To represent them in all matters affecting their interests;

(7) To demand from them respect and obedience;


(8) To impose discipline on them as maybe required under the circumstances; and
(9) To perform such other duties as are imposed by law upon parents and guardians.
Art. 221. Parents and other persons exercising parental authority shall be civilly liable for the injuries
and damages caused by the acts or omissions of their unemancipated children living in their company
and under their parental authority subject to the appropriate defenses provided by law.
Art. 225. The father and the mother shall, jointly exercise legal guardianship over the property of their
unemancipated common child without the necessity of a court appointment. In case of disagreement,
the father's decision shall prevail, unless there is a judicial order to the contrary.
Where the market value of the property or the annual income of the child exceeds P50,000.00, the
parent concerned shall be required to furnish a bond in such amount as the court may determine, but
not less than ten per centum (10%) of the value of the property or annual income, to guarantee the
performance of the obligations prescribed for general guardians.
A verified petition, for approval of the bond shall be filed in the proper court of the place where the child
resides, or, if the child resides in a foreign country, in the proper court of the place where the property
or any part thereof is situated.
The petition shall be docketed as a summary special proceeding in which all incidents and issues
regarding the performance of the obligations referred to in the second paragraph of this Article shall be
heard and resolved.
The ordinary rules on guardianship shall be merely suppletory except when the child is under
substitute parental authority, or the guardian is a stranger, or a parent has remarried, in which case the
ordinary rules on guardianship shall apply.
1wphi1.nt

22

Id. at 209-213.

23

320 SCRA 76 (1999).

24

Id. at 88.