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CA-G.R. CV No.

108592
(Regional Trial Court, Branch 96, Makati
RTC Case No. 676395-A
FOR: DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE)
LILY M. CORDORA
Petitioner-Appellee
-versus JAMES G. CORDORA
Respondent,
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
Oppositor-Appellant.
BRIEF FOR THE OPPOSITOR-APPELLANT
SOLICITOR GENERAL IAN DEXTER L. ALCALA
OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
655 Kamagong St., San Antonio Village, Makati City
MARIA REGINA VICTORIA LAKI PAO
6955 RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati City
Counsel for the Oppositor-Appellant
ALEXIS MARIE ALCONABA ALIMAGNO
6850 Park Square, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Counsel for the Petitioner-Appellee

SUBJECT INDEX
STATEMENT OF THE CASE..3
COUNTER-STATEMENTOF FACTS 3
ARGUMENT..5
PRAYER..............................................................................................................
..............10

CASES CITED
Rosalino L. Marable vs. Myrna F. Marable
G.R. No. 178741, January 17,2001..6
Santos vs. Santos
310 Phil.
21......................................................................................................................
...6
Republic vs. Molina
G.R. No. 108763, Feb. 13, 1997
....................6
Ricardo P. Toring vs. Teresita M. Toring
G.R. No. 165321, August 3, 2010.9
Marcos vs. Marcos
G.R. No. 136490, October 19, 2000.9
Suazo vs. Suazo
G.R. No. 164493, March 12, 2010..10
Toring, vs. Toring
G.R. No. 166357, September 19, 2011
10

Villalon vs. Villalon


G.R. No. 167206 November 18,
2005.10
2

REPUBLIC OFTHE PHILIPPINES


COURT OF APPEALS
Manila

LILY CORDORA
Petitioner-Appellee,
- versus-

CA-G.R.

CV

No.

02427

JAMES CORDORA
Respondent,

THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Oppositor-Appellant.
x x----------------------------xx

BRIEF FOR THE OPPOSITOR-APPELLANT


REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
This is an appeal from the August 8, 2007 Decision of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 96 in Makati City in Civil Case No. T-1813 granting petitionerappellee Lily Cordora's petition for declaration of absolute nullity of her
marriage to respondent James Cordora.

COUNTER-STATEMENTOF FACTS

On 25 December 1977, petitioner-appellee Lily Cordora and respondent


James Cordora got married in Muntinlupa City and they begot two children
who are both grown-up. During their co-habitation, petitioner discovered that
respondent, a salesman, is a chronic, practicing and confirmed womanizer.
On March 9, 2008, Lily Cordora filed with the court a quo a petition for
annulment of marriage on the ground of the alleged psychological incapacity
of James Cordora to perform his essential marital obligations. In her petition,
Lily Cordora narrated several manifestations of the psychological incapacity
of her husband, to wit:
xxx6. There were several instances that she found out about
respondents illicit affairs with several women. While they were
living in Davao City from 1978-1979, respondent had an affair
with a lady named Jessica, a promo girl for Carnation products.
Such relationship was confirmed by Jessica herself and petitioner
found out that Jessica was subsequently terminated from her
work. Thereafter, petitioner and respondent moved to Iloilo City
in 1979 and stayed there until 1982 when respondent managed
to have an illicit affair with another woman. In 1984, they moved
to Cebu City where respondent had another affair with one Dr.
Shahani, a General Medical Practitioner who had a clinic at T.
Padilla St. Petitioner found an ATM card owned by Dr. Shahani
inside respondents car. She caught respondent and his mistress
at a house in Busay City which led to petitioner and respondents
quarrel;
7. Thereafter, Dr. Shahani called petitioner for a talk. While they
agreed to a meeting, it did not materialize because the doctors
mother was hospitalized. Since petitioner really wanted to talk to
Dr. Shahani, she went to the hospital where they were able to
talk;
8. After some time, petitioner thought that the relationship
between respondent and Dr. Shahani was over but when she was
residing I Dumaguete City to attend to her kiddie school, while
respondent was working in Cebu City, she read in a newspaper
that her husband was stabbed by his live-in partner Dr. Shahani.

Upon petitioners motion, the court a quo allowed her testimony to be taken
through a deposition8 where she confirmed and affirmed the allegations in
her Petition and the contents of the affidavit she executed in connection with
the case. Upon cross-examination by Prosecutor Jasmin Despi, petitioner
further declared that respondent does not spend time with the family as he
was mostly out of the house. Respondent promised to mend his ways after
she caught him with Jessica and promised to stop his illicit relationship with
her (Jessica). But he again entered into another relationship with another
woman.
The second witness for the petitioner was Molly Tacaldo whose expertise in
the field of psychology was admitted by the Prosecutor. He testified that he
conducted an evaluation study on respondent and placed his findings on a
Psychological Evaluation Report. He was not able to interview respondent
although a letter of invitation for such interview was sent to respondent.
From his study of respondents mental condition, he found that;
xx. Respondent was suffering from an anti-social personality disorder
and manifests psychopathic or sociopathic personalities. People
suffering from this disorder callously disregard the rights and feelings
of others. They exploit others and act out their conflicts in irresponsible
ways, sometimes with hostility and serious violence. They do not
anticipate their antisocial behaviors and typically do not feel remorse.
Dishonesty and deceit permeate their relationships. This antisocial
personality

disorder

is

often

associated

with

alcoholism,

drug

addiction, infidelity, promiscuity, etc.


Respondent exhibited these characteristics of a person suffering from
an antisocial personality disorder. He indulged in unbridled promiscuity
and infidelity with several women and exhibited callous disregard for
the feelings of his wife. Dishonesty and deceit permeate the
relationship of petitioner and respondent who does not show remorse
for his infidelity. Respondent is incognizant of his marital obligation to
his wife and his psychological incapacity is chronic and incurable. As
such, respondent is dysfunctional as a spouse and the marriage is
doomed to fail from the very beginning. Thus, it is recommended that
the marriage between petitioner and respondent be declared a nullity
on the ground of respondents psychological incapacity.

ARGUMENT
5

The trial court gravely erred in


declaring the marriage of the parties
as void ab initio based on
article 36 of the family code.
Article 36 of the Family Code provides that a marriage contracted by
any party who, at the time of the celebration thereof, was psychologically
incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage,
shall be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization.
Psychological incapacity, to be a ground for the nullity of marriage
under Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended, refers to a serious
psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the
marriage. It is a disorder that results in utter sensitivity or inability of the
afflicted party to give meaning and significance to the marriage he or she
has contracted. Psychological incapacity must refer to no less than a mental
(not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognizant of the
basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged
by the parties to the marriage.1
In Santos vs. Court of Appeals, et al.,2 it was held that psychological
incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code must be characterized by (a)
gravity; (b) juridical antecedence and; (3) incurability to be sufficient basis to
nullify a marriage.
These basic requirements were reiterated in Republic vs. Court of
Appeals (Molina case)3, where the Supreme Court laid down the guidelines in
the interpretation and application of Article 36. The Court held 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
1 Rosalino L. Marable vs. Myrna F. Marable, G.R. No. 178741, January 17, 2011, citing
Republic vs.Cabantug-Baguio, G.R. No. 171042, June 30 2008, Toring vs. Toring, G.R. No.
165321, August 3, 2010
and Navarro, Jr. vs. Cecilio-Navarro, G.R. No. 162049, April 13, 2007.

310 Phil. 21 (1995)

3 G.R. No. 108763, February 13, 1997.


6

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. The Family Code echoes this
constitutional edict on

marriage and the family and

emphasizes their 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 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 of ejusdem
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.

(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 t hereby
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

Matrimonial

Tribunal

given
of

by
the

the

National

Catholic

Appellate

Church

in

the

Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be


given great respect by our courts.
(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
vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.
Tested

against

the

foregoing

requirements

and

guidelines, the

evidence adduced by petitioner-appellee failed to sufficiently establish the


existence of psychological incapacity on the part of respondent-appellee.

The focal point of petitioner-appellees contention in support of respondentappellees alleged incapacity was the latters affairs or illicit relationships
with several women. However, petitioner-appellee failed to establish the
nexus

between

respondent-appellees

repeated

infidelity

and

his

psychological incapacity to comply with his duties as a husband. In order to


establish the existence of psychological incapacity, it must be shown that the
infidelity or unfaithfulness is a manifestation of a disorder so grave as to
deprive respondent-appellee of the capacity to assume the essential marital
obligations.
Although

petitioner-appellee

presented

psychology

expert

to

establish respondent-appellees purported psychological incapacity, the


psychological evaluation and testimony unsuccessfully established the
existence of the requisites outlined in Santos and Molina necessary for a
conclusion of psychological incapacity.
Based on Mr. Molly Tacaldos evaluation, respondent-appellee suffered from
Anti-Social Personality Disorder, a conclusion which was based on his
interview with petitioner-appellee. The record shows that Mr. Tacaldo did not
draw upon any other source of facts and circumstances apart from petitionerappellee on which to base his findings. It must be pointed out that
psychological evaluations presented in evidence which are derived solely
from one-sided sources, in particular the spouse seeking the nullity of the
marriage, are usually given negatively critical considerations. 4 For while the
law does not require that the allegedly incapacitated spouse be personally
examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the
declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code 5, the
evidence to prove such psychological incapacity must nevertheless satisfy
the requirements laid down in Santos and Molina.
In this case, the psychological evaluation failed to determine whether
respondent-appellees womanizing was traceable to a psychological disorder
already existing at the time of the marriage. Considering that there was no
evidence obtained from persons present in the life of respondent-appellee
from his childhood up to anytime prior to his marriage to petitioner-appellee,
it cannot be sufficiently known whether his womanizing habits are physical
4 Ricardo P. Toring, vs. Teresita M. Toring and Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. 165321,
August 3,2010.

5 Marcos vs. Marcos, G.R. No. 136490, October 19, 2000, cited in Toring vs. Toring,
supra.
9

manifestations

of

psychological

disorder

existing

even

then.

The

psychological evaluation report presented as evidence by petitioner-appellee


merely enumerated the clinical profile of a person suffering from Anti-Social
Personality Disorder.
After this enumeration, the psychologist then made the conclusion that
respondent-appellee was suffering from this disorder and proceeded to
describe

respondent-appellee

based

on

the

clinical

profile,

without

determining the gravity, juridical antecedence or incurability of the said


disorder as it applies to respondent-appellees case. There is no indication as
to the how, why, when or where of respondent-appellees alleged Anti-Social
Personality Disorder.
In other words, the factual basis for the finding of the said disorder was not
disclosed. There is also no determination of the incapacitating nature of
respondent-appellees alleged personality disorder and how it related to the
essential marital obligations that he failed to assume. 6 Aside from the
general statement that respondent-appellees purported disorder was
chronic and incurable, there was no explanation as to the gravity and
incurability of such disorder. There was likewise no indication of the root
cause of the disorder.
The presentation of expert proof in cases for declaration of nullity of
marriage based on psychological incapacity presupposes a thorough and
indepth assessment of the parties by the psychologist or expert for a
conclusive diagnosis of a grave, severe and incurable presence of
psychological incapacity. It is indispensable that the evidence must show a
link, medical or otherwise, between the acts that manifest psychological
incapacity and the psychological disorder itself.7
Even petitioner-appellees testimony failed to sufficiently prove the existence
of the requisites underscored in Santos and Molina. Petitioner-appellee
merely

recited

the

instances

of

unfaithfulness

and

sexual

infidelity

committed by respondent-appellee without identifying the link between such


unfaithfulness and respondent-appellees psychological incapacity to perform
the essential obligations of marriage. Sexual infidelity, by itself, does not
warrant a finding of psychological incapacity as it may only be due to a
6 Cf. Toring vs. Toring, supra.
7 Suazo vs. Suazo, G.R. No. 164493, March 12, 2010 cited in Marable vs. Marable,
supra.
10

persons difficulty, refusal or neglect to undertake the obligations of marriage


that is not rooted in some psychological illness addressed in Article 36 of the
Family

Code.8

It

must

shown

that

the

acts

of

unfaithfulness

are

manifestations of a disordered personality which make the afflicted person


completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of marriage. 9
Petitioner-appellee

in

this

case

failed

to

sustain

her

allegations

of

psychological incapacity, thus, her petition for the declaration of nullity of


her marriage to respondent-appellee must fail.
PRAYER
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the instant appeal be
GRANTED and the August 8, 2008 Decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 96 in Makati City in Civil Case no. TMCV-039-08 T-1813 be REVERSED
and SET ASIDE.

EXPLANATION

(Under Section 11, Rule 13, New Rules on Civil Procedure) This Brief for the
Oppositor-Appellee is being filed and served by registered mail due to lack of
personnel.

MARIA REGINA VICTORIA L. PAO


Copy furnished:

ALEXIS MARIE ALCONABA ALIMAGNO


6850 Park Square, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
8 Toring, vs. Toring, supra.; Villalon vs. Villalon, G.R. No. 167206 November 18, 2005, cited
inMarable vs. Marable, supra.; Valerio E. Kalaw vs. Ma. Elena Fernandez, G.R. No. 166357,
September 19, 2011.

9 Villalon vs. Villalon, supra.


11

Counsel for the Petitioner-Appellee

12