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FEDERICO

C.
SUNTAY,
petitioner,
vs.
ISABEL COJUANGCO-SUNTAY * and HON. GREGORIO S. SAMPAGA, Presiding Judge, Branch 78, Regional Trial Court,
Malolos, Bulacan, Respondents
Which should prevail between the ratio decidendi and the fallo of a decision is the primary issue in this petition for certiorari under Rule
65 filed by petitioner Federico C. Suntay who opposes respondent Isabel's petition for appointment as administratrix of her
grandmother's estate by virtue of her right of representation.
The suit stemmed from the following:
On July 9, 1958, Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay (son of petitioner Federico Suntay) and Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay were married in the
Portuguese Colony of Macao. Out of this marriage, three children were born namely: Margarita Guadalupe, Isabel Aguinaldo and Emilio
Aguinaldo all surnamed Cojuangco Suntay. After 4 years, the marriage soured so that in 1962, Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay filed a criminal
case 1 against her husband Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay. In retaliation, Emilio Aguinaldo filed before the then Court of First Instance (CFI) 2
a complaint for legal separation against his wife, charging her, among others, with infidelity and praying for the custody and care of their
children who were living with their mother. 3 The suit was docketed as civil case number Q-7180.
On October 3, 1967, the trial court rendered a decision the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the marriage celebrated between Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay and Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay on July 9,
1958 is hereby declared null and void and of no effect as between the parties. It being admitted by the parties and
shown by the record that the question of the case and custody of the three children have been the subject of another
case between the same parties in another branch of this Court in Special Proceeding No. 6428, the same cannot be
litigated in this case.
With regard to counterclaim, in view of the manifestation of counsel that the third party defendants are willing to pay
P50,000.00 for damages and that defendant is willing to accept the offer instead of her original demand for
P130,000.00, the defendant is awarded said sum of P50,000.00 as her counterclaim and to pay attorney's fees in the
amount of P5.000.00.
SO ORDERED. 4 (Emphasis supplied).
As basis thereof, the CFI said:
From February 1965 thru December 1965 plaintiff was confined in the Veterans Memorial Hospital. Although at the
time of the trial of parricide case (September 8, 1967) the patient was already out of the hospital he continued to be
under observation and treatment.
It is the opinion of Dr. Aramil that the symptoms of the plaintiffs mental aberration classified as schizophernia (sic) had
made themselves manifest even as early as 1955; that the disease worsened with time, until 1965 when he was
actually placed under expert neuro-psychiatrist (sic) treatment; that even if the subject has shown marked progress,
the remains bereft of adequate understanding of right and wrong.
There is no controversy that the marriage between the parties was effected on July 9, 1958, years after plaintiffs
mental illness had set in. This fact would justify a declaration of nullity of the marriage under Article 85 of the Civil
Code which provides:
Art. 95. (sic) A marriage may be annulled for nay of the following causes after (sic) existing at the time of the
marriage:
xxx xxx xxx
(3) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party, after coming to reason, freely
cohabited with the other as husband or wife.

There is a dearth of proof at the time of the marriage defendant knew about the mental condition of plaintiff; and there
is proof that plaintiff continues to be without sound reason. The charges in this very complaint add emphasis to the
findings of the neuro-psychiatrist handling the patient, that plaintiff really lives more in fancy than in reality, a strong
indication of schizophernia (sic). 5 (Emphasis supplied).
On June 1, 1979, Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay predeceased his mother, the decedent Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay. The latter is
respondent Isabel's paternal grandmother. The decedent died on June 4, 1990 without leaving a will. 6
Five years later or on October 26, 1995, respondent Isabel Aguinaldo Cojuangco Suntay filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) 7 a
petition for issuance in her favor of Letters of Administration of the Intestate Estate of her late grandmother Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay
which case was docketed as Special Proceeding Case No. 117-M-95. In her petition, she alleged among others, that she is one of the
legitimate grandchildren of the decedent and prayed that she be appointed as administratrix of the estate. 8
On December 15, 1995, petitioner filed an Opposition claiming that he is the surviving spouse of the decedent, that he has been
managing the conjugal properties even while the decedent has been alive and is better situated to protect the integrity of the estate
than the petitioner, that petitioner and her family have been alienated from the decedent and the Oppositor for more than thirty (30)
years and thus, prayed that Letters of Administration be issued instead to him. 9
On September 22, 1997 or almost two years after filing an opposition, petitioner moved to dismiss the special proceeding case alleging
in the main that respondent Isabel should not be appointed as administratrix of the decedent's estate. In support thereof, petitioner
argues that under Article 992 of the Civil Code an illegitimate child has no right to succeed by right of representation the legitimate
relatives of her father or mother. Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay, respondent Isabel's father predeceased his mother, the late Cristina
Aguinaldo Suntay and thus, opened succession by representation. Petitioner contends that as a consequence of the declaration by the
then CFI of Rizal that the marriage of respondent Isabel's parents is "null and void," the latter is an illegitimate child, and has no right
nor interest in the estate of her paternal grandmother the decedent. 10 On October 16, 1997, the trial court issued the assailed order
denying petitioner's Motion to Dismiss. 11 When his motion for reconsideration was denied by the trial court in an order dated January 9,
1998, 12 petitioner, as mentioned above filed this petition.
Petitioner imputes grave abuse of discretion to respondent court in denying his motion to dismiss as well as his motion for
reconsideration on the grounds that: (a) a motion to dismiss is appropriate in a special proceeding for the settlement of estate of a
deceased person; (b) the motion to dismiss was timely filed; (c) the dispositive portion of the decision declaring the marriage of
respondent Isabel's parents "null and void" must be upheld; and (d) said decision had long become final and had, in fact, been
executed.
On the other hand, respondent Isabel asserts that petitioner's motion to dismiss was alte having been filed after the opposition was
already filed in court, the counterpart of an answer in an ordinary civil action and that petitioner in his opposition likewise failed to
specifically deny respondent Isabel's allegation that she is a legitimate child of Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay, the decedent's son. She further
contends that petitioner proceeds from a miscomprehension of the judgment in Civil Case No. Q-7180 and the erroneous premise that
there is a conflict between the body of the decision and its dispositive portion because in an action for annulment of a marriage, the
court either sustains the validity of the marriage or nullifies it. It does not, after hearing declare a marriage "voidable" otherwise, the
court will fail to decide and lastly, that the status of marriages under Article 85 of the Civil Code before they are annulled is "voidable."
The petition must fail.
Certiorari as a special civil action can be availed of only if there is concurrence of the essential requisites, to wit: (a) the tribunal, board
or officer exercising judicial functions has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or in excess of jurisdiction, and (b) there is no appeal, nor any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law for the
purpose
of
annulling
or
modifying
the
proceeding. 13 There must be a capricious, arbitrary and whimsical exercise of power for it to prosper. 14
A reading of the assailed order, however, shows that the respondent court did not abuse its discretion in denying petitioner's motion to
dismiss, pertinent portions of which are quoted thereunder, to wit:
The arguments of both parties judiciously and objectively assessed and the pertinent laws applied, the Court finds
that a motion to dismiss at this juncture is inappropriate considering the peculiar nature of this special proceeding as
distinguished from an ordinary civil action. At the outset, this proceeding was not adversarial in nature and the
petitioner was not called upon to assert a cause of action against a particular defendant. Furthermore, the State has a

vital interest in the maintenance of the proceedings, not only because of the taxes due it, but also because if no heirs
qualify, the State shall acquire the estate by escheat.
xxx xxx xxx
The court rules, for the purpose of establishing the personality of the petitioner to file and maintain this special
proceedings, that in the case bench, the body of the decision determines the nature of the action which is for
annulment, not declaration of nullity.
The oppositor's contention that the fallo of the questioned decision (Annex "A" Motion) prevails over the body
thereof is not without any qualification. It holds true only when the dispositive portion of a final decision is definite,
clear and unequivocal and can be wholly given effect without need of interpretation or construction.
Where there is ambiguity or uncertainty, the opinion or body of the decision may be referred to for purposes of
construing the judgment (78 SCRA 541 citing Morelos v. Go Chin Ling; and Heirs of Juan Presto v. Galang). The
reason is that the dispositive portion must find support from the decision's ratio decidendi.
Per decision of the Court of First Instance Branch IX of Quezon City, marked as Annex "A" of oppositor's motion, the
marriage of Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay and Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay was annulled on the basis of Art. 85 par. 3 of the
Civil Code which refers to marriages which are considered voidable. Petitioner being conceived and born of a
voidable marriage before the decree of annulment, she is considered legitimate (Art. 89, par. 2, Civil Code of the
Phils.). 15
The trial court correctly ruled that "a motion to dismiss at this juncture is inappropriate." The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure governs the
procedure to be observed in actions, civil or criminal and special proceedings. 16 The Rules do not only apply to election cases, land
registration, cadastral, naturalization and insolvency proceedings, and other cases not therein provided for.
Special proceedings being one of the actions under the coverage of the Rules on Civil Procedure, a motion to dismiss filed thereunder
would fall under Section 1, Rule 16 thereof. Said rule provides that the motion to dismiss may be filed "within the time for but before
filing the answer to the complaint." Clearly, the motion should have been filed on or before the filing of petitioner's opposition 17 which is
the counterpart of an answer in ordinary civil actions.
Not only was petitioner's motion to dismiss filed out of time, it was filed almost two years after respondent Isabel was already through
with the presentation of her witnesses and evidence and petitioner had presented two witnesses. The filing of the motion to dismiss is
not only improper but also dilatory.
The respondent court, far from deviating or straying off course from established jurisprudence on this matter, as petitioner asserts, had
in fact faithfully observed the law and legal precedents in this case. In fact, the alleged conflict between the body of the decision and the
dispositive portion thereof which created the ambiguity or uncertainty in the decision of the CFI of Rizal is reconcilable. The legal basis
for setting aside the marriage of respondent Isabel's parents is clear under paragraph 3, Article 85 of the New Civil Code, the law in
force prior to the enactment of the Family Code.
Petitioner, however, strongly insists that the dispositive portion of the CFI decision has categorically declared that the marriage of
respondent Isabel's parents is "null and void" and that the legal effect of such declaration is that the marriage from its inception is void
and the children born out of said marriage are illegitimate. Such argument cannot be sustained. Articles 80, 81, 82 and 83 18 of the New
Civil Code classify what marriages are void while Article 85 enumerates the causes for which a marriage may be annulled. 19
The fundamental distinction between void and voidable marriages is that a void marriage is deemed never to have taken place at all.
The effects of void marriages, with respect to property relations of the spouses are provided for under Article 144 of the Civil Code.
Children born of such marriages who are called natural children by legal fiction have the same status, rights and obligations as
acknowledged natural children under Article 89 20 irrespective of whether or not the parties to the void marriage are in good faith or in
bad faith.
On the other hand, a voidable marriage, is considered valid and produces all its civil effects, until it is set aside by final judgment of a
competent court in an action for annulment. Juridically, the annulment of a marriage dissolves the special contract as if it had never
been entered into but the law makes express provisions to prevent the effects of the marriage from being totally wiped out. The status
of children born in voidable marriages is governed by the second paragraph of Article 89 which provides that:

Children conceived of voidable marriages before the decree of annulment shall be considered legitimate; and
children conceived thereafter shall have the same status, rights and obligations as acknowledged natural children,
and are also called natural children by legal fiction. 21 (Emphasis supplied).
Stated otherwise, the annulment of "the marriage by the court abolishes the legal character of the society formed by the
putative spouses, but it cannot destroy the juridical consequences which the marital union produced during its continuance." 22
Indeed, the terms "annul" and "null and void" have different legal connotations and implications, Annul means to reduce to nothing;
annihilate; obliterate; to make void or of no effect; to nullify; to abolish; to do away with 23 whereas null and void is something that does
not exist from the beginning. A marriage that is annulled presupposes that it subsists but later ceases to have legal effect when it is
terminated through a court action. But in nullifying a marriage, the court simply declares a status or condition which already exists from
the very beginning.
There is likewise no merit in petitioner's argument that it is the dispositive portion of the decision which must control as to whether or
not the marriage of respondent Isabel's parents was void or voidable. Such argument springs from a miscomprehension of the
judgment in Civil Case No. Q-7180 and the erroneous premise that there is a conflict between the body of the decision and its
dispositive portion.
Parenthetically, it is an elementary principle of procedure that the resolution of the court in a given issue as embodied in the dispositive
part of a decision or order is the controlling factor as to settlement of rights of the parties and the questions presented, notwithstanding
statement in the body of the decision or order which may be somewhat confusing, 24 the same is not without a qualification. The
foregoing rule holds true only when the dispositive part of a final decision or order is definite, clear and unequivocal and can be wholly
given effect without need of interpretation or construction-which usually is "the case where the order or decision in question is that of a
court not of record which is not constitutionally required to state the facts and the law on which the judgment is based." 25
Assuming that a doubt or uncertainty exists between the dispositive portion and the body of the decision, effort must be made to
harmonize the whole body of the decision in order to give effect to the intention, purpose and judgment of the court. In Republic v. de
los Angeles 26 the Court said:
Additionally, Article 10 of the Civil Code states that "[i]n case of doubt in the interpretation or application of laws, it is
presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and justice to prevail." This mandate of law, obviously cannot be
any less binding upon the courts in relation to its judgments.
. . .The judgment must be read in its entirety, and must be construed as a whole so as to bring all of its parts into
harmony as far as this can be done by fair and reasonable interpretation and so as to give effect to every word and
part if possible, and to effectuate the intention and purpose of the Court, consistent with the provisions of the organic
law. (49 C.J.S., pp. 863-864) [Emphasis supplied].
Thus, a reading of the pertinent portions of the decision of the CFI of Rizal quoted earlier shows that the marriage is voidable:
It is the opinion of Dr. Aramil that the symptoms of the plaintiffs mental aberration classified as schizophernia (sic) had
made themselves manifest even as early as 1955; that the disease worsened with time, until 1965 when he was
actually placed under expert neuro-psychiatrict (sic) treatment; that even if the subject has shown marked progress,
he remains bereft of adequate understanding of right and wrong.
There is no controversy that the marriage between the parties was effected on July 9, 1958, years after plaintiff's
mental illness had set in. This fact would justify a declaration of nullity of the marriage under Article 85 of the Civil
Code which provides:
Art. 95 (sic) A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at the time of the marriage:
xxx xxx xxx
(3) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party, after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other
as husband and wife;
xxx xxx xxx

There is a dearth of proof at the time of the marriage defendant knew about the mental condition of plaintiff; and there
is proof that plaintiff continues to be without sound reason. The charges in this very handling the patient, that plaintiff
really lives more in fancy than in reality, a strong indication of schizophernia (sic). 27
Inevitably, the decision of the CFI of Rizal declared null and void the marriage of respondent Isabel's parents based on
paragraph 3, Article 85 of the New Civil Code. The legal consequences as to the rights of the children are therefore governed
by the first clause of the second paragraph of Article 89. A contrary interpretation would be anathema to the rule just abovementioned. Based on said provision the children of Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay and Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay who were
conceived and born prior to the decree of the trial court setting aside their marriage on October 3, 1967 are considered
legitimate. For purposes of seeking appointment as estate administratrix, the legitimate grandchildren, including respondent
Isabel, may invoke their successional right of representation the estate of their grandmother Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay after
their father, Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay, had predeceased their grandmother. This is, however, without prejudice to a
determination by the courts of whether the Letters of Administration may be granted to her. Neither do the Court adjudged
herein the successional rights of the personalities involved over the decedent's estate.
It would not therefore be amiss to reiterate at this point what the Court, speaking through Chief Justice Ruiz Castro, emphasized to "all
magistrates of all levels of the judicial hierarchy that extreme degree of care should be exercised in the formulation of the dispositive
portion of a decision, because it is this portion that is to be executed once the decision becomes final. The adjudication of the rights and
obligations of thoe parties, and the dispositions made as well as the directions and instructions given by the court in the premises in
conformity with the body of the decision, must all be spelled out clearly, distinctly and unequivocally leaving absolutely no room for
dispute, debate or interpretation. 28
WHEREFORE, finding no grave abuse of discretion, the instant petition is DISIMISSED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 173614

September 28, 2007

LOLITA
D.
ENRICO,
Petitioner,
vs.
HEIRS OF SPS. EULOGIO B. MEDINACELI AND TRINIDAD CATLI-MEDINACELI, REPRESENTED BY VILMA M. ARTICULO,
Respondents.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
The instant Petition for Certiorari filed under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure assails the Order, 1 dated 3 May 2006 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Aparri, Cagayan, Branch 6, in Civil Case No. II-4057, granting reconsideration of its Order,2 dated 11
October 2005, and reinstating respondents Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage.
On 17 March 2005, respondents, heirs of Spouses Eulogio B. Medinaceli (Eulogio) and Trinidad Catli-Medinaceli (Trinidad) filed with
the RTC, an action for declaration of nullity of marriage of Eulogio and petitioner Lolita D. Enrico. Substantially, the complaint alleged,
inter alia, that Eulogio and Trinidad were married on 14 June 1962, in Lal-lo, Cagayan. 3 They begot seven children, herein respondents,
namely: Eduardo, Evelyn, Vilma, Mary Jane, Haizel, Michelle and Joseph Lloyd. 4 On 1 May 2004, Trinidad died. 5 On 26 August 2004,
Eulogio married petitioner before the Municipal Mayor of Lal-lo, Cagayan. 6 Six months later, or on 10 February 2005, Eulogio passed
away.7
In impugning petitioners marriage to Eulogio, respondents averred that the same was entered into without the requisite marriage
license. They argued that Article 348 of the Family Code, which exempts a man and a woman who have been living together for at least
five years without any legal impediment from securing a marriage license, was not applicable to petitioner and Eulogio because they
could not have lived together under the circumstances required by said provision. Respondents posited that the marriage of Eulogio to
Trinidad was dissolved only upon the latters death, or on 1 May 2004, which was barely three months from the date of marriage of

Eulogio to petitioner. Therefore, petitioner and Eulogio could not have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years. To
further their cause, respondents raised the additional ground of lack of marriage ceremony due to Eulogios serious illness which made
its performance impossible.
In her Answer, petitioner maintained that she and Eulogio lived together as husband and wife under one roof for 21 years openly and
publicly; hence, they were exempted from the requirement of a marriage license. From their union were born Elvin Enrico and Marco
Enrico, all surnamed Medinaceli, on 28 October 1988 and 30 October 1991, respectively. She further contended that the marriage
ceremony was performed in the Municipal Hall of Lal-lo, Cagayan, and solemnized by the Municipal Mayor. As an affirmative defense,
she sought the dismissal of the action on the ground that it is only the contracting parties while living who can file an action for
declaration of nullity of marriage.
On 11 October 2005, the RTC issued an Order,9 granting the dismissal of the Complaint for lack of cause of action. It cited A.M. No. 0211-10-SC,10 dated 7 March 2003, promulgated by the Supreme Court En Banc as basis. The RTC elucidated on its position in the
following manner:
The Complaint should be dismissed.
1) Administrative Matter No. 02-11-10-SC promulgated by the Supreme Court which took effect on March 15, 2003 provides in Section
2, par. (a)11 that a petition for Declaration of Absolute Nullity of a Void Marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. The
language of this rule is plain and simple which states that such a petition may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. The rule is
clear and unequivocal that only the husband or the wife may file the petition for Declaration of Absolute Nullity of a Void Marriage. The
reading of this Court is that the right to bring such petition is exclusive and this right solely belongs to them. Consequently, the heirs of
the deceased spouse cannot substitute their late father in bringing the action to declare the marriage null and void.12 (Emphasis
supplied.)
The dispositive portion of the Order, thus, reads:
WHEREFORE, [the] Motion to Dismiss raised as an affirmative defense in the answer is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the Complaint
filed by the [respondents] is hereby DISMISSED with costs de officio. 13
Respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration thereof. Following the filing by petitioner of her Comment to the said motion, the RTC
rendered an Order14 dated 3 May 2006, reversing its Order of 11 October 2005. Hence, the RTC reinstated the complaint on the
ratiocination that the assailed Order ignored the ruling in Nial v. Bayadog, 15 which was on the authority for holding that the heirs of a
deceased spouse have the standing to assail a void marriage even after the death of the latter. It held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 0211-20-SC, which provides that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the
wife, applies only where both parties to a void marriage are still living. 16 Where one or both parties are deceased, the RTC held that the
heirs may file a petition to declare the marriage void. The RTC expounded on its stance, thus:
The questioned Order disregarded the case of Nial vs. Bayadog, 328 SCRA 122 (March 14, 2000) in which the Supreme Court, First
Division, held that the heirs of a deceased person may file a petition for the declaration of his marriage after his death. The Order
subject of this motion for reconsideration held that the case of Nial vs. Bayadog is now superseded by the new Rule on Declaration of
Absolute Nullity of Marriages (hereinafter referred to as the Rule) because the Supreme Court has rejected the case of Nial vs.
Bayadog by approving the Rule on Nullity of Void Marriages. The Order further held that it is only the husband or the wife who is (sic)
the only parties allowed to file an action for declaration of nullity of their marriage and such right is purely personal and is not
transmissible upon the death of the parties.
It is admitted that there seems to be a conflict between the case of Nial vs. Bayadog and Section 2(a) of the Rule. In view of this, the
Court shall try to reconcile the case of Nial vs. Bayadog and the Rule. To reconcile, the Court will have to determine [the] basic rights
of the parties. The rights of the legitimate heirs of a person who entered into a void marriage will be prejudiced particularly with respect
to their successional rights. During the lifetime of the parent[,] the heirs have only an inchoate right over the property of the said
parents. Hence, during the lifetime of the parent, it would be proper that it should solely be the parent who should be allowed to file a
petition to declare his marriage void. However, upon the death of the parent his heirs have already a vested right over whatever
property left by the parent. Such vested right should not be frustrated by any rules of procedure such as the Rule. Rules of Procedure
cannot repeal rights granted by substantive law. The heirs, then, have a legal standing in Court.
If the heirs are prohibited from questioning the void marriage entered by their parent, especially when the marriage is illegal and
feloniously entered into, it will give premium to such union because the guilty parties will seldom, if ever at all, ask for the annulment of

the marriage. Such void marriage will be given a semblance of validity if the heirs will not be allowed to file the petition after the death of
the parent.
For these reasons, this Court believes that Sec. 2(a) of the Rules on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Marriage is applicable only when
both parties to a (sic) void marriage are still living. Upon the death of anyone of the guilty party to the void marriage, his heirs may file a
petition to declare the the (sic) marriage void, but the Rule is not applicable as it was not filed b the husband or the wife. It shall be the
ordinary rule of civil procedure which shall be applicable.17
Perforce, the decretal portion of the RTC Order of 3 May 2006 states:
In view of the foregoing, the Court grants the motion for reconsideration dated October 31, 2005 and reinstate this case.18
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing Order; however, on 1 June 2006, the RTC denied the said
motion on the ground that no new matter was raised therein.19
Hence, the instant Petition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure on the sole question of whether the case law as
embodied in Nial, or the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, as specified
in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC of the Supreme Court applies to the case at bar.
At the outset, we note that petitioner took an abbreviated route to this Court, countenancing the hierarchy of courts.
We have earlier emphasized that while the Supreme Court has the concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals and the RTCs (for
writs enforceable within their respective regions), to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition or certiorari, the litigants are well advised
against taking a direct recourse to this Court.20 Instead, they should initially seek the proper relief from the lower courts. As a court of
last resort, this Court should not be burdened with the task of dealing with causes in the first instance. Where the issuance of an
extraordinary writ is concurrently within the competence of the Court of Appeals or the RTC, litigants must observe the principle of
hierarchy of courts.21 However, it cannot be gainsaid that this Court has the discretionary power to brush aside procedural lapses if
compelling reasons, or the nature and importance of the issues raised, warrant the immediate exercise of its jurisdiction. 22 Moreover,
notwithstanding the dismissibility of the instant Petition for its failure to observe the doctrine on the hierarchy of courts, this Court will
proceed to entertain the case grounded as it is on a pure question of law.
Petitioner maintains that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC governs the instant case. A contrario, respondents posit that it is Nial which is
applicable, whereby the heirs of the deceased person were granted the right to file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage
after his death.
We grant the Petition.
In reinstating respondents Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage, the RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion.
While it is true that Nial in no uncertain terms allowed therein petitioners to file a petition for the declaration of nullity of their fathers
marriage to therein respondent after the death of their father, we cannot, however, apply its ruling for the reason that the impugned
marriage therein was solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code. The Court in Nial recognized that the applicable law to
determine the validity of the two marriages involved therein is the Civil Code, which was the law in effect at the time of their
celebration.23 What we have before us belongs to a different milieu, i.e., the marriage sought to be declared void was entered into
during the effectivity of the Family Code. As can be gleaned from the facts, petitioners marriage to Eulogio was celebrated in
2004.1wphi1
The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages as contained in A.M. No. 02-11-10SC is explicit in its scope, to wit:
Section 1. Scope. This Rule shall govern petitions for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages and annulment of voidable
marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines.
The Rules of Court shall apply suppletorily. (Emphasis supplied.)
The categorical language of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC leaves no room for doubt. The coverage extends only to those marriages entered
into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on 3 August 1988.24

Moreover, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC took effect on 15 March 2003, following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation. Thus,
contrary to the opinion of the RTC, there is no need to reconcile the provisions of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC with the ruling in Nial,
because they vary in scope and application. As has been emphasized, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC covers marriages under the Family Code
of the Philippines, and is prospective in its application. The marriage of petitioner to Eulogio was celebrated on 26 August 2004, and it
squarely falls within the ambit of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
Hence, in resolving the issue before us, we resort to Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, which provides:
Section 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.
(a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. (n)
(Emphasis supplied.)
There is no ambiguity in the Rule. Absolute sententil expositore non indiget. When the language of the law is clear, no explanation of it
is required. Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, makes it the sole right of the husband or the wife to file a petition for declaration of
absolute nullity of void marriage.
The Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, Legal Separation
and Provisional Orders explicates on Section 2(a) in the following manner, viz:
1. Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file petitions for annulment of voidable marriages and declaration of absolute nullity of void
marriages. Such petitions cannot be filed by the compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. [Section 2; Section 3,
paragraph a]
Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of void
marriages. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. The Committee is of the belief
that they do not have a legal right to file the petition. Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the death of their
predecessor, and hence can only question the validity of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for
the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts. On the other hand, the concern of the State is to
preserve marriage and not to seek its dissolution.25 (Emphasis supplied.)
Respondents clearly have no cause of action before the court a quo. Nonetheless, all is not lost for respondents. While A.M. No. 02-1110-SC declares that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife, it does
not mean that the compulsory or intestate heirs are already without any recourse under the law. They can still protect their successional
right, for, as stated in the Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages, Legal Separation and Provisional Orders, compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the validity of the marriage of the
spouses, not in a proceeding for declaration of nullity, but upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of
the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. Civil Case No. II-4057 filed before the Regional Trial Court of Aparri, Cagayan, Branch 6, is
ORDERED DISMISSED without prejudice to challenging the validity of the marriage of Lolita D. Enrico to Eulogio B. Medinaceli in a
proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the latter. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 133778

March 14, 2000

ENGRACE NIAL for Herself and as Guardian ad Litem of the minors BABYLINE NIAL, INGRID NIAL, ARCHIE NIAL &
PEPITO
NIAL,
JR.,
petitioners,
vs.
NORMA BAYADOG, respondent.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
May the heirs of a deceased person file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage after his death?
Pepito Nial was married to Teodulfa Bellones on September 26, 1974. Out of their marriage were born herein petitioners. Teodulfa was
shot by Pepito resulting in her death on April 24, 1985. One year and 8 months thereafter or on December 11, 1986, Pepito and
respondent Norma Badayog got married without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, Pepito and Norma executed an affidavit dated
December 11, 1986 stating that they had lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and were thus exempt from securing
a marriage license. On February 19, 1997, Pepito died in a car accident. After their father's death, petitioners filed a petition for
declaration of nullity of the marriage of Pepito to Norma alleging that the said marriage was void for lack of a marriage license. The
case was filed under the assumption that the validity or invalidity of the second marriage would affect petitioner's successional rights.
Norma filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that petitioners have no cause of action since they are not among the persons who could
file an action for "annulment of marriage" under Article 47 of the Family Code.
Judge Ferdinand J. Marcos of the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissed the petition after finding that the
Family Code is "rather silent, obscure, insufficient" to resolve the following issues:
(1) Whether or not plaintiffs have a cause of action against defendant in asking for the declaration of the nullity of marriage of
their deceased father, Pepito G. Nial, with her specially so when at the time of the filing of this instant suit, their father Pepito
G. Nial is already dead;
(2) Whether or not the second marriage of plaintiffs' deceased father with defendant is null and void ab initio;
(3) Whether or not plaintiffs are estopped from assailing the validity of the second marriage after it was dissolved due to their
father's death. 1
Thus, the lower court ruled that petitioners should have filed the action to declare null and void their father's marriage to respondent
before his death, applying by analogy Article 47 of the Family Code which enumerates the time and the persons who could initiate an
action for annulment of marriage. 2 Hence, this petition for review with this Court grounded on a pure question of law.
This petition was originally dismissed for non-compliance with Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and because
"the verification failed to state the basis of petitioner's averment that the allegations in the petition are "true and correct"." It was thus
treated as an unsigned pleading which produces no legal effect under Section 3, Rule 7, of the 1997 Rules. 3 However, upon motion of
petitioners, this Court reconsidered the dismissal and reinstated the petition for review. 4
The two marriages involved herein having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code (FC), the applicable law to
determine their validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of their celebration. 5 A valid marriage license is a
requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the Civil Code, 6 the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article
80(3) 7 in relation to Article 58. 8 The requirement and issuance of marriage license is the State's demonstration of its involvement and
participation in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the general public is interested. 9 This interest proceeds from the
constitutional mandate that the State recognizes the sanctity of family life and of affording protection to the family as a basic
"autonomous social institution." 10 Specifically, the Constitution considers marriage as an "inviolable social institution," and is the
foundation of family life which shall be protected by the State. 11 This is why the Family Code considers marriage as "a special contract
of permanent union" 12 and case law considers it "not just an adventure but a lifetime commitment." 13
However, there are several instances recognized by the Civil Code wherein a marriage license is dispensed with, one of which is that
provided in Article 76, 14 referring to the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together and exclusively with each other as
husband and wife for a continuous and unbroken period of at least five years before the marriage. The rationale why no license is
required in such case is to avoid exposing the parties to humiliation, shame and embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous
cohabitation of persons outside a valid marriage due to the publication of every applicant's name for a marriage license. The publicity
attending the marriage license may discourage such persons from legitimizing their status. 15 To preserve peace in the family, avoid the
peeping and suspicious eye of public exposure and contain the source of gossip arising from the publication of their names, the law
deemed it wise to preserve their privacy and exempt them from that requirement.
There is no dispute that the marriage of petitioners' father to respondent Norma was celebrated without any marriage license. In lieu
thereof, they executed an affidavit stating that "they have attained the age of majority, and, being unmarried, have lived together as
husband and wife for at least five years, and that we now desire to marry each other." 16 The only issue that needs to be resolved
pertains to what nature of cohabitation is contemplated under Article 76 of the Civil Code to warrant the counting of the five year period

in order to exempt the future spouses from securing a marriage license. Should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties are
capacitated to marry each other during the entire five-year continuous period or should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties have
lived together and exclusively with each other as husband and wife during the entire five-year continuous period regardless of whether
there is a legal impediment to their being lawfully married, which impediment may have either disappeared or intervened sometime
during the cohabitation period?
Working on the assumption that Pepito and Norma have lived together as husband and wife for five years without the benefit of
marriage, that five-year period should be computed on the basis of a cohabitation as "husband and wife" where the only missing factor
is the special contract of marriage to validate the union. In other words, the five-year common-law cohabitation period, which is counted
back from the date of celebration of marriage, should be a period of legal union had it not been for the absence of the marriage. This 5year period should be the years immediately before the day of the marriage and it should be a period of cohabitation characterized by
exclusivity meaning no third party was involved at anytime within the 5 years and continuity that is unbroken. Otherwise, if that
continuous 5-year cohabitation is computed without any distinction as to whether the parties were capacitated to marry each other
during the entire five years, then the law would be sanctioning immorality and encouraging parties to have common law relationships
and placing them on the same footing with those who lived faithfully with their spouse. Marriage being a special relationship must be
respected as such and its requirements must be strictly observed. The presumption that a man and a woman deporting themselves as
husband and wife is based on the approximation of the requirements of the law. The parties should not be afforded any excuse to not
comply with every single requirement and later use the same missing element as a pre-conceived escape ground to nullify their
marriage. There should be no exemption from securing a marriage license unless the circumstances clearly fall within the ambit of the
exception. It should be noted that a license is required in order to notify the public that two persons are about to be united in matrimony
and that anyone who is aware or has knowledge of any impediment to the union of the two shall make it known to the local civil
registrar. 17 The Civil Code provides:
Art. 63: . . . This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to advice the local civil
registrar thereof. . . .
Art. 64: Upon being advised of any alleged impediment to the marriage, the local civil registrar shall forthwith make an
investigation, examining persons under oath. . . .
This is reiterated in the Family Code thus:
Art. 17 provides in part: . . . This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to
advise the local civil registrar thereof. . . .
Art. 18 reads in part: . . . In case of any impediment known to the local civil registrar or brought to his attention, he shall note
down the particulars thereof and his findings thereon in the application for a marriage license. . . .
This is the same reason why our civil laws, past or present, absolutely prohibited the concurrence of multiple marriages by the same
person during the same period. Thus, any marriage subsequently contracted during the lifetime of the first spouse shall be illegal and
void, 18 subject only to the exception in cases of absence or where the prior marriage was dissolved or annulled. The Revised Penal
Code complements the civil law in that the contracting of two or more marriages and the having of extramarital affairs are considered
felonies, i.e., bigamy and concubinage and adultery. 19 The law sanctions monogamy.
In this case, at the time of Pepito and respondent's marriage, it cannot be said that they have lived with each other as husband and wife
for at least five years prior to their wedding day. From the time Pepito's first marriage was dissolved to the time of his marriage with
respondent, only about twenty months had elapsed. Even assuming that Pepito and his first wife had separated in fact, and thereafter
both Pepito and respondent had started living with each other that has already lasted for five years, the fact remains that their five-year
period cohabitation was not the cohabitation contemplated by law. It should be in the nature of a perfect union that is valid under the
law but rendered imperfect only by the absence of the marriage contract. Pepito had a subsisting marriage at the time when he started
cohabiting with respondent. It is immaterial that when they lived with each other, Pepito had already been separated in fact from his
lawful spouse. The subsistence of the marriage even where there was actual severance of the filial companionship between the
spouses cannot make any cohabitation by either spouse with any third party as being one as "husband and wife".
Having determined that the second marriage involved in this case is not covered by the exception to the requirement of a marriage
license, it is void ab initio because of the absence of such element.
The next issue to be resolved is: do petitioners have the personality to file a petition to declare their father's marriage void after his
death?

Contrary to respondent judge's ruling, Article 47 of the Family Code 20 cannot be applied even by analogy to petitions for declaration of
nullity of marriage. The second ground for annulment of marriage relied upon by the trial court, which allows "the sane spouse" to file an
annulment suit "at anytime before the death of either party" is inapplicable. Article 47 pertains to the grounds, periods and persons who
can file an annulment suit, not a suit for declaration of nullity of marriage. The Code is silent as to who can file a petition to declare the
nullity of a marriage. Voidable and void marriages are not identical. A marriage that is annulable is valid until otherwise declared by the
court; whereas a marriage that is void ab initio is considered as having never to have taken place 21 and cannot be the source of rights.
The first can be generally ratified or confirmed by free cohabitation or prescription while the other can never be ratified. A voidable
marriage cannot be assailed collaterally except in a direct proceeding while a void marriage can be attacked collaterally. Consequently,
void marriages can be questioned even after the death of either party but voidable marriages can be assailed only during the lifetime of
the parties and not after death of either, in which case the parties and their offspring will be left as if the marriage had been perfectly
valid. 22 That is why the action or defense for nullity is imprescriptible, unlike voidable marriages where the action prescribes. Only the
parties to a voidable marriage can assail it but any proper interested party may attack a void marriage. Void marriages have no legal
effects except those declared by law concerning the properties of the alleged spouses, regarding co-ownership or ownership through
actual joint contribution, 23 and its effect on the children born to such void marriages as provided in Article 50 in relation to Article 43 and
44 as well as Article 51, 53 and 54 of the Family Code. On the contrary, the property regime governing voidable marriages is generally
conjugal partnership and the children conceived before its annulment are legitimate.
Contrary to the trial court's ruling, the death of petitioner's father extinguished the alleged marital bond between him and respondent.
The conclusion is erroneous and proceeds from a wrong premise that there was a marriage bond that was dissolved between the two.
It should be noted that their marriage was void hence it is deemed as if it never existed at all and the death of either extinguished
nothing.
Jurisprudence under the Civil Code states that no judicial decree is necessary in order to establish the nullity of a marriage. 24 "A void
marriage does not require a judicial decree to restore the parties to their original rights or to make the marriage void but though no
sentence of avoidance be absolutely necessary, yet as well for the sake of good order of society as for the peace of mind of all
concerned, it is expedient that the nullity of the marriage should be ascertained and declared by the decree of a court of competent
jurisdiction." 25 "Under ordinary circumstances, the effect of a void marriage, so far as concerns the conferring of legal rights upon the
parties, is as though no marriage had ever taken place. And therefore, being good for no legal purpose, its invalidity can be maintained
in any proceeding in which the fact of marriage may be material, either direct or collateral, in any civil court between any parties at any
time, whether before or after the death of either or both the husband and the wife, and upon mere proof of the facts rendering such
marriage void, it will be disregarded or treated as non-existent by the courts." It is not like a voidable marriage which cannot be
collaterally attacked except in direct proceeding instituted during the lifetime of the parties so that on the death of either, the marriage
cannot be impeached, and is made good ab initio. 26 But Article 40 of the Family Code expressly provides that there must be a judicial
declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void, before a party can enter into a second marriage 27 and such absolute
nullity can be based only on a final judgment to that effect. 28 For the same reason, the law makes either the action or defense for the
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage imprescriptible. 29 Corollarily, if the death of either party would extinguish the cause of action
or the ground for defense, then the same cannot be considered imprescriptible.
However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity.1wphi1 For
other purposes, such as but not limited to determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate, dissolution
of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly
instituted to question the same so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice to any issue that may
arise in the case. When such need arises, a final judgment of declaration of nullity is necessary even if the purpose is other than to
remarry. The clause "on the basis of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void" in Article 40 of the Family Code connotes
that such final judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of remarriage.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Order of the Regional Trial Court, Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissing Civil
Case No. T-639, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The said case is ordered REINSTATED.1wphi1.nt
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 127406

November 27, 2000

OFELIA
P.
TY,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, and EDGARDO M. REYES, respondents.

petitioner,

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This appeal seeks the reversal of the decision dated July 24, 1996, of the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV 37897, which affirmed the
decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch 160, declaring the marriage contract between private respondent Edgardo M.
Reyes and petitioner Ofelia P. Ty null and void ab initio. It also ordered private respondent to pay P15,000.00 as monthly support for
their children Faye Eloise Reyes and Rachel Anne Reyes.
As shown in the records of the case, private respondent married Anna Maria Regina Villanueva in a civil ceremony on March 29, 1977,
in Manila. Then they had a church wedding on August 27, 1977. However, on August 4, 1980, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations
Court of Quezon City declared their marriage null and void ab initio for lack of a valid marriage license. The church wedding on August
27, 1977, was also declared null and void ab initio for lack of consent of the parties.
Even before the decree was issued nullifying his marriage to Anna Maria, private respondent wed Ofelia P. Ty, herein petitioner, on April
4, 1979, in ceremonies officiated by the judge of the City Court of Pasay. On April 4, 1982, they also had a church wedding in Makati,
Metro Manila.
On January 3, 1991, private respondent filed a Civil Case 1853-J with the RTC of Pasig, Branch 160, praying that his marriage to
petitioner be declared null and void. He alleged that they had no marriage license when they got married. He also averred that at the
time he married petitioner, he was still married to Anna Maria. He stated that at the time he married petitioner the decree of nullity of his
marriage to Anna Maria had not been issued. The decree of nullity of his marriage to Anna Maria was rendered only on August 4, 1980,
while his civil marriage to petitioner took place on April 4, 1979.
Petitioner, in defending her marriage to private respondent, pointed out that his claim that their marriage was contracted without a valid
license is untrue. She submitted their Marriage License No. 5739990 issued at Rosario, Cavite on April 3, 1979, as Exh. 11, 12 and 12A. He did not question this document when it was submitted in evidence. Petitioner also submitted the decision of the Juvenile and
Domestic Relations Court of Quezon City dated August 4, 1980, which declared null and void his civil marriage to Anna Maria Regina
Villanueva celebrated on March 29, 1977, and his church marriage to said Anna Maria on August 27, 1977. These documents were
submitted as evidence during trial and, according to petitioner, are therefore deemed sufficient proof of the facts therein. The fact that
the civil marriage of private respondent and petitioner took place on April 4, 1979, before the judgment declaring his prior marriage as
null and void is undisputed. It also appears indisputable that private respondent and petitioner had a church wedding ceremony on April
4, 1982.1
The Pasig RTC sustained private respondents civil suit and declared his marriage to herein petitioner null and void ab initio in its
decision dated November 4, 1991. Both parties appealed to respondent Court of Appeals. On July 24, 1996, the appellate court
affirmed the trial courts decision. It ruled that a judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage (to Anna Maria) must first be secured
before a subsequent marriage could be validly contracted. Said the appellate court:
We can accept, without difficulty, the doctrine cited by defendants counsel that no judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity
of void marriages. It does not say, however, that a second marriage may proceed even without a judicial decree. While it is true that if a
marriage is null and void, ab initio, there is in fact no subsisting marriage, we are unwilling to rule that the matter of whether a marriage
is valid or not is for each married spouse to determine for himself for this would be the consequence of allowing a spouse to proceed

to a second marriage even before a competent court issues a judicial decree of nullity of his first marriage. The results would be
disquieting, to say the least, and could not have been the intendment of even the now-repealed provisions of the Civil Code on
marriage.
xxx
WHEREFORE, upon the foregoing ratiocination, We modify the appealed Decision in this wise:
1. The marriage contracted by plaintiff-appellant [herein private respondent] Eduardo M. Reyes and defendant-appellant
[herein petitioner] Ofelia P. Ty is declared null and void ab initio;
2. Plaintiff-appellant Eduardo M. Reyes is ordered to give monthly support in the amount of P15,000.00 to his children Faye
Eloise Reyes and Rachel Anne Reyes from November 4, 1991; and
3. Cost against plaintiff-appellant Eduardo M. Reyes.
SO ORDERED.2
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, this instant petition asserting that the Court of Appeals erred:
I.
BOTH IN THE DECISION AND THE RESOLUTION, IN REQUIRING FOR THE VALIDITY OF PETITIONERS MARRIAGE TO
RESPONDENT, A JUDICIAL DECREE NOT REQUIRED BY LAW.
II
IN THE RESOLUTION, IN APPLYING THE RULING IN DOMINGO VS. COURT OF APPEALS.
III
IN BOTH THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION IN NOT CONSIDERING THE CIVIL EFFECTS OF THE RELIGIOUS
RATIFICATION WHICH USED THE SAME MARRIAGE LICENSE.
IV
IN THE DECISION NOT GRANTING MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES TO THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
The principal issue in this case is whether the decree of nullity of the first marriage is required before a subsequent marriage can be
entered into validly? To resolve this question, we shall go over applicable laws and pertinent cases to shed light on the assigned errors,
particularly the first and the second which we shall discuss jointly.
In sustaining the trial court, the Court of Appeals declared the marriage of petitioner to private respondent null and void for lack of a
prior judicial decree of nullity of the marriage between private respondent and Villanueva. The appellate court rejected petitioners claim
that People v. Mendoza3 and People v. Aragon4 are applicable in this case. For these cases held that where a marriage is void from its
performance, no judicial decree is necessary to establish its invalidity. But the appellate court said these cases, decided before the
enactment of the Family Code (E.O. No. 209 as amended by E.O No. 227), no longer control. A binding decree is now needed and
must be read into the provisions of law previously obtaining.5
In refusing to consider petitioners appeal favorably, the appellate court also said:
Terre v. Attorney Terre, Adm. Case No. 2349, 3 July 1992 is mandatory precedent for this case. Although decided by the High Court in
1992, the facts situate it within the regime of the now-repealed provisions of the Civil Code, as in the instant case.
xxx

For purposes of determining whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage
was null and void ab initio is essential. . . .6
At the outset, we must note that private respondents first and second marriages contracted in 1977 and 1979, respectively, are
governed by the provisions of the Civil Code. The present case differs significantly from the recent cases of Bobis v. Bobis7 and
Mercado v. Tan,8 both involving a criminal case for bigamy where the bigamous marriage was contracted during the effectivity of the
Family Code,9 under which a judicial declaration of nullity of marriage is clearly required.
Pertinent to the present controversy, Article 83 of the Civil Code provides that:
Art. 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of the first spouse of such person with any person
other than such first spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance, unless:
(1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or
(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the second marriage without the spouse
present having news of the absentee being alive, or if the absentee, though he has been absent for less than seven years, is
generally considered as dead and before any person believed to be so by the spouse present at the time of contracting such
subsequent marriage, or if the absentee is presumed dead according to articles 390 and 391. The marriage so contracted
shall be valid in any of the three cases until declared null and void by a competent court.
As to whether a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage is necessary, the Civil Code contains no express provision to that effect.
Jurisprudence on the matter, however, appears to be conflicting.
Originally, in People v. Mendoza,10 and People v. Aragon,11 this Court held that no judicial decree is necessary to establish the nullity of
a void marriage. Both cases involved the same factual milieu. Accused contracted a second marriage during the subsistence of his first
marriage. After the death of his first wife, accused contracted a third marriage during the subsistence of the second marriage. The
second wife initiated a complaint for bigamy. The Court acquitted accused on the ground that the second marriage is void, having been
contracted during the existence of the first marriage. There is no need for a judicial declaration that said second marriage is void. Since
the second marriage is void, and the first one terminated by the death of his wife, there are no two subsisting valid marriages. Hence,
there can be no bigamy. Justice Alex Reyes dissented in both cases, saying that it is not for the spouses but the court to judge whether
a marriage is void or not.
In Gomez v. Lipana,12 and Consuegra v. Consuegra,13 however, we recognized the right of the second wife who entered into the
marriage in good faith, to share in their acquired estate and in proceeds of the retirement insurance of the husband. The Court
observed that although the second marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while the first marriage was still
subsisting, still there was a need for judicial declaration of such nullity (of the second marriage). And since the death of the husband
supervened before such declaration, we upheld the right of the second wife to share in the estate they acquired, on grounds of justice
and equity.14
But in Odayat v. Amante (1977),15 the Court adverted to Aragon and Mendoza as precedents. We exonerated a clerk of court of the
charge of immorality on the ground that his marriage to Filomena Abella in October of 1948 was void, since she was already previously
married to one Eliseo Portales in February of the same year. The Court held that no judicial decree is necessary to establish the
invalidity of void marriages. This ruling was affirmed in Tolentino v. Paras.16
Yet again in Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy (1986),17 the Court held that there is a need for a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage. In
Wiegel, Lilia married Maxion in 1972. In 1978, she married another man, Wiegel. Wiegel filed a petition with the Juvenile Domestic
Relations Court to declare his marriage to Lilia as void on the ground of her previous valid marriage. The Court, expressly relying on
Consuegra, concluded that:18
There is likewise no need of introducing evidence about the existing prior marriage of her first husband at the time they married each
other, for then such a marriage though void still needs according to this Court a judicial declaration (citing Consuegra) of such fact and
for all legal intents and purposes she would still be regarded as a married woman at the time she contracted her marriage with
respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel; accordingly, the marriage of petitioner and respondent would be regarded VOID under the law.
(Emphasis supplied).
In Yap v. Court of Appeals,19 however, the Court found the second marriage void without need of judicial declaration, thus reverting to
the Odayat, Mendoza and Aragon rulings.

At any rate, the confusion under the Civil Code was put to rest under the Family Code. Our rulings in Gomez, Consuegra, and Wiegel
were eventually embodied in Article 40 of the Family Code. 20 Article 40 of said Code expressly required a judicial declaration of nullity of
marriage
Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment
declaring such previous marriage void.
In Terre v. Terre (1992)21 the Court, applying Gomez, Consuegra and Wiegel, categorically stated that a judicial declaration of nullity of a
void marriage is necessary. Thus, we disbarred a lawyer for contracting a bigamous marriage during the subsistence of his first
marriage. He claimed that his first marriage in 1977 was void since his first wife was already married in 1968. We held that Atty. Terre
should have known that the prevailing case law is that "for purposes of determining whether a person is legally free to contract a
second marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was null and void ab initio is essential."
The Court applied this ruling in subsequent cases. In Domingo v. Court of Appeals (1993),22 the Court held:
Came the Family Code which settled once and for all the conflicting jurisprudence on the matter. A declaration of absolute nullity of
marriage is now explicitly required either as a cause of action or a ground for defense. (Art. 39 of the Family Code). Where the absolute
nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked for purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law
for said projected marriage to be free from legal infirmity is a final judgment declaring the previous marriage void. (Family Code, Art. 40;
See also arts. 11, 13, 42, 44, 48, 50, 52, 54, 86, 99, 147, 148).23
However, a recent case applied the old rule because of the peculiar circumstances of the case. In Apiag v. Cantero, (1997)24 the first
wife charged a municipal trial judge of immorality for entering into a second marriage. The judge claimed that his first marriage was void
since he was merely forced into marrying his first wife whom he got pregnant. On the issue of nullity of the first marriage, we applied
Odayat, Mendoza and Aragon. We held that since the second marriage took place and all the children thereunder were born before the
promulgation of Wiegel and the effectivity of the Family Code, there is no need for a judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage
pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence at that time.
Similarly, in the present case, the second marriage of private respondent was entered into in 1979, before Wiegel. At that time, the
prevailing rule was found in Odayat, Mendoza and Aragon. The first marriage of private respondent being void for lack of license and
consent, there was no need for judicial declaration of its nullity before he could contract a second marriage. In this case, therefore, we
conclude that private respondents second marriage to petitioner is valid.
Moreover, we find that the provisions of the Family Code cannot be retroactively applied to the present case, for to do so would
prejudice the vested rights of petitioner and of her children. As held in Jison v. Court of Appeals,25 the Family Code has retroactive effect
unless there be impairment of vested rights. In the present case, that impairment of vested rights of petitioner and the children is patent.
Additionally, we are not quite prepared to give assent to the appellate courts finding that despite private respondents "deceit and
perfidy" in contracting marriage with petitioner, he could benefit from her silence on the issue. Thus, coming now to the civil effects of
the church ceremony wherein petitioner married private respondent using the marriage license used three years earlier in the civil
ceremony, we find that petitioner now has raised this matter properly. Earlier petitioner claimed as untruthful private respondents
allegation that he wed petitioner but they lacked a marriage license. Indeed we find there was a marriage license, though it was the
same license issued on April 3, 1979 and used in both the civil and the church rites. Obviously, the church ceremony was confirmatory
of their civil marriage. As petitioner contends, the appellate court erred when it refused to recognize the validity and salutary effects of
said canonical marriage on a technicality, i.e. that petitioner had failed to raise this matter as affirmative defense during trial. She argues
that such failure does not prevent the appellate court from giving her defense due consideration and weight. She adds that the interest
of the State in protecting the inviolability of marriage, as a legal and social institution, outweighs such technicality. In our view, petitioner
and private respondent had complied with all the essential and formal requisites for a valid marriage, including the requirement of a
valid license in the first of the two ceremonies. That this license was used legally in the celebration of the civil ceremony does not
detract from the ceremonial use thereof in the church wedding of the same parties to the marriage, for we hold that the latter rites
served not only to ratify but also to fortify the first. The appellate court might have its reasons for brushing aside this possible defense of
the defendant below which undoubtedly could have tendered a valid issue, but which was not timely interposed by her before the trial
court. But we are now persuaded we cannot play blind to the absurdity, if not inequity, of letting the wrongdoer profit from what the CA
calls "his own deceit and perfidy."
On the matter of petitioners counterclaim for damages and attorneys fees.1wphi1 Although the appellate court admitted that they
found private respondent acted "duplicitously and craftily" in marrying petitioner, it did not award moral damages because the latter did
not adduce evidence to support her claim.26

Like the lower courts, we are also of the view that no damages should be awarded in the present case, but for another reason.
Petitioner wants her marriage to private respondent held valid and subsisting. She is suing to maintain her status as legitimate wife. In
the same breath, she asks for damages from her husband for filing a baseless complaint for annulment of their marriage which caused
her mental anguish, anxiety, besmirched reputation, social humiliation and alienation from her parents. Should we grant her prayer, we
would have a situation where the husband pays the wife damages from conjugal or common funds. To do so, would make the
application of the law absurd. Logic, if not common sense, militates against such incongruity. Moreover, our laws do not comprehend an
action for damages between husband and wife merely because of breach of a marital obligation.27 There are other remedies.28
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated July 24, 1996 and its Resolution dated
November 7, 1996, are reversed partially, so that the marriage of petitioner Ofelia P. Ty and private respondent Edgardo M. Reyes is
hereby DECLARED VALID AND SUBSISTING; and the award of the amount of P15,000.00 is RATIFIED and MAINTAINED as monthly
support to their two children, Faye Eloise Reyes and Rachel Anne Reyes, for as long as they are of minor age or otherwise legally
entitled thereto. Costs against private respondent.
SO ORDERED.

YASUO
IWASAWA,
PETITIONER,
vs.
FELISA CUSTODIO GANGAN 1 (A.K.A FELISA GANGAN ARAMBULO, AND FELISA GANGAN IWASAWA) AND THE LOCAL CIVIL
REGISTRAR OF PASAY CITY, RESPONDENTS.
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the
September 4, 2012 Decision2 and October 16, 2012 Order3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 43, of Manila in Civil Case No. 11126203. The RTC denied the petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage of petitioner Yasuo Iwasawa with private respondent
Felisa Custodio Gangan due to insufficient evidence.
The antecedents follow:
Petitioner, a Japanese national, met private respondent sometime in 2002 in one of his visits to the Philippines. Private respondent
introduced herself as "single" and "has never married before." Since then, the two became close to each other. Later that year,
petitioner came back to the Philippines and married private respondent on November 28, 2002 in Pasay City. After the wedding, the
couple resided in Japan.4
In July 2009, petitioner noticed his wife become depressed. Suspecting that something might have happened in the Philippines, he
confronted his wife about it. To his shock, private respondent confessed to him that she received news that her previous husband
passed away.5
Petitioner sought to confirm the truth of his wifes confession and discovered that indeed, she was married to one Raymond Maglonzo
Arambulo and that their marriage took place on June 20, 1994. 6 This prompted petitioner to file a petition7 for the declaration of his

marriage to private respondent as null and void on the ground that their marriage is a bigamous one, based on Article 35(4) in relation
to Article 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines.
During trial, aside from his testimony, petitioner also offered the following pieces of documentary evidence issued by the National
Statistics Office (NSO):
(1)
Certificate of Marriage8 between petitioner and private respondent marked as Exhibit "A" to prove the fact of marriage between
the parties on November 28, 2002;
(2)
Certificate of Marriage9 between private respondent and Raymond Maglonzo Arambulo marked as Exhibit "B" to prove the fact
of marriage between the parties on June 20, 1994;
(3)
Certificate of Death10 of Raymond Maglonzo Arambulo marked as Exhibits "C" and "C-1" to prove the fact of the latters death
on July 14, 2009; and
(4)
Certification11 from the NSO to the effect that there are two entries of marriage recorded by the office pertaining to private
respondent marked as Exhibit "D" to prove that private respondent in fact contracted two marriages, the first one was to a
Raymond Maglonzo Arambulo on June 20, 1994, and second, to petitioner on November 28, 2002.
The prosecutor appearing on behalf of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) admitted the authenticity and due execution of the
above documentary exhibits during pre-trial.12
On September 4, 2012, the RTC rendered the assailed decision. It ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove private
respondents prior existing valid marriage to another man. It held that while petitioner offered the certificate of marriage of private
respondent to Arambulo, it was only petitioner who testified about said marriage. The RTC ruled that petitioners testimony is unreliable
because he has no personal knowledge of private respondents prior marriage nor of Arambulos death which makes him a complete
stranger to the marriage certificate between private respondent and Arambulo and the latters death certificate. It further ruled that
petitioners testimony about the NSO certification is likewise unreliable since he is a stranger to the preparation of said document.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the same was denied by the RTC in an Order dated October 16, 2012.
Hence this petition raising the sole legal issue of whether the testimony of the NSO records custodian certifying the authenticity and due
execution of the public documents issued by said office was necessary before they could be accorded evidentiary weight.
Petitioner argues that the documentary evidence he presented are public documents which are considered self-authenticating and thus
it was unnecessary to call the NSO Records Custodian as witness. He cites Article 410 of the Civil Code which provides that books
making up the civil register and all documents relating thereto shall be considered public documents and shall be prima facie evidence
of the facts stated therein. Moreover, the trial prosecutor himself also admitted the authenticity of said documents.
The OSG, in its Comment,13 submits that the findings of the RTC are not in accord with law and established jurisprudence. It contends
that both Republic Act No. 3753, otherwise known as the Law on Registry of Civil Status, and the Civil Code elaborated on the
character of documents arising from records and entries made by the civil registrar and categorically declared them as public
documents. Being public documents, said documents are admissible in evidence even without further proof of their due execution and
genuineness and consequently, there was no need for the court to require petitioner to present the records custodian or officer from the
NSO to testify on them. The OSG further contends that public documents have probative value since they are prima facie evidence of
the facts stated therein as provided in the above-quoted provision of the Civil Code. Thus, the OSG submits that the public documents
presented by petitioner, considered together, completely establish the facts in issue.

In her letter14 dated March 19, 2013 to this Court, private respondent indicated that she is not against her husbands petition to have
their marriage declared null and void. She likewise admitted therein that she contracted marriage with Arambulo on June 20, 1994 and
contracted a second marriage with petitioner on November 28, 2002. She further admitted that it was due to poverty and joblessness
that she married petitioner without telling the latter that she was previously married. Private respondent also confirmed that it was when
she found out that Arambulo passed away on July 14, 2009 that she had the guts to confess to petitioner about her previous marriage.
Thereafter, she and petitioner have separated.
We grant the petition.
There is no question that the documentary evidence submitted by petitioner are all public documents.1wphi1 As provided in the Civil
Code:
ART. 410. The books making up the civil register and all documents relating thereto shall be considered public documents and shall be
prima facie evidence of the facts therein contained.
As public documents, they are admissible in evidence even without further proof of their due execution and genuineness. 15 Thus, the
RTC erred when it disregarded said documents on the sole ground that the petitioner did not present the records custodian of the NSO
who issued them to testify on their authenticity and due execution since proof of authenticity and due execution was not anymore
necessary. Moreover, not only are said documents admissible, they deserve to be given evidentiary weight because they constitute
prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. And in the instant case, the facts stated therein remain unrebutted since neither the
private respondent nor the public prosecutor presented evidence to the contrary.
This Court has consistently held that a judicial declaration of nullity is required before a valid subsequent marriage can be contracted;
or else, what transpires is a bigamous marriage, 16 which is void from the beginning as provided in Article 35(4) of the Family Code of
the Philippines. And this is what transpired in the instant case.
As correctly pointed out by the OSG, the documentary exhibits taken together concretely establish the nullity of the marriage of
petitioner to private respondent on the ground that their marriage is bigamous. The exhibits directly prove the following facts: (1) that
private respondent married Arambulo on June 20, 1994 in the City of Manila; (2) that private respondent contracted a second marriage
this time with petitioner on November 28, 2002 in Pasay City; (3) that there was no judicial declaration of nullity of the marriage of
private respondent with Arambulo at the time she married petitioner; (3) that Arambulo died on July 14, 2009 and that it was only on
said date that private respondents marriage with Arambulo was deemed to have been dissolved; and (4) that the second marriage of
private respondent to petitioner is bigamous, hence null and void, since the first marriage was still valid and subsisting when the second
marriage was contracted.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The September 4, 2012 Decision and October 16, 2012 Order of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 43, in Civil Case No. 11-126203 are hereby SET ASIDE. The marriage of petitioner Yasuo
Iwasawa and private respondent Felisa Custodio Gangan is declared NULL and VOID.
The Local Civil Registrar of Pasay City and the National Statistics Office are hereby ORDERED to make proper entries into the records
of the abovementioned parties in accordance with this Decision.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

MINORU
FUJIKI,
PETITIONER,
vs.
MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF QUEZON CITY, AND THE ADMINISTRATOR
AND CIVIL REGISTRAR GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE, RESPONDENTS.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case

This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 107, Quezon City, through a petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on a pure question of law. The petition assails the Order 1 dated 31 January 2011 of the
RTC in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 and its Resolution dated 2 March 2011 denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The RTC
dismissed the petition for "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)" based on improper
venue and the lack of personality of petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to file the petition.
The Facts
Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married respondent Maria Paz Galela Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines 2
on 23 January 2004. The marriage did not sit well with petitioners parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his wife to Japan where he
resides. Eventually, they lost contact with each other.
In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara (Maekara). Without the first marriage being dissolved, Marinay and Maekara
were married on 15 May 2008 in Quezon City, Philippines. Maekara brought Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay allegedly suffered
physical abuse from Maekara. She left Maekara and started to contact Fujiki.3
Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish their relationship. In 2010, Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a judgment
from a family court in Japan which declared the marriage between Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of bigamy. 4 On 14 January
2011, Fujiki filed a petition in the RTC entitled: "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)."
Fujiki prayed that (1) the Japanese Family Court judgment be recognized; (2) that the bigamous marriage between Marinay and
Maekara be declared void ab initio under Articles 35(4) and 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines; 5 and (3) for the RTC to direct the
Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City to annotate the Japanese Family Court judgment on the Certificate of Marriage between Marinay
and Maekara and to endorse such annotation to the Office of the Administrator and Civil Registrar General in the National Statistics
Office (NSO).6
The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately issued an Order dismissing the petition and withdrawing the case from its
active civil docket.7 The RTC cited the following provisions of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and
Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC):
Sec. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.
(a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife.
xxxx
Sec. 4. Venue. The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or city where the petitioner or the respondent has been
residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in the
Philippines, at the election of the petitioner. x x x
The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in "gross violation" of the above provisions. The trial court based its
dismissal on Section 5(4) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which provides that "[f]ailure to comply with any of the preceding requirements may
be a ground for immediate dismissal of the petition." 8 Apparently, the RTC took the view that only "the husband or the wife," in this case
either Maekara or Marinay, can file the petition to declare their marriage void, and not Fujiki.
Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC contemplated ordinary civil actions for declaration
of nullity and annulment of marriage. Thus, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply. A petition for recognition of foreign judgment is a
special proceeding, which "seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular fact," 9 and not a civil action which is "for the enforcement
or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong." 10 In other words, the petition in the RTC sought to establish (1) the
status and concomitant rights of Fujiki and Marinay as husband and wife and (2) the fact of the rendition of the Japanese Family Court
judgment declaring the marriage between Marinay and Maekara as void on the ground of bigamy. The petitioner contended that the
Japanese judgment was consistent with Article 35(4) of the Family Code of the Philippines 11 on bigamy and was therefore entitled to
recognition by Philippine courts.12
In any case, it was also Fujikis view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applied only to void marriages under Article 36 of the Family Code on
the ground of psychological incapacity.13 Thus, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC provides that "a petition for declaration of absolute
nullity of void marriages may be filed solely by the husband or the wife." To apply Section 2(a) in bigamy would be absurd because only

the guilty parties would be permitted to sue. In the words of Fujiki, "[i]t is not, of course, difficult to realize that the party interested in
having a bigamous marriage declared a nullity would be the husband in the prior, pre-existing marriage." 14 Fujiki had material interest
and therefore the personality to nullify a bigamous marriage.
Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court is applicable. Rule 108 is
the "procedural implementation" of the Civil Register Law (Act No. 3753) 15 in relation to Article 413 of the Civil Code.16 The Civil Register
Law imposes a duty on the "successful petitioner for divorce or annulment of marriage to send a copy of the final decree of the court to
the local registrar of the municipality where the dissolved or annulled marriage was solemnized." 17 Section 2 of Rule 108 provides that
entries in the civil registry relating to "marriages," "judgments of annulments of marriage" and "judgments declaring marriages void from
the beginning" are subject to cancellation or correction.18 The petition in the RTC sought (among others) to annotate the judgment of the
Japanese Family Court on the certificate of marriage between Marinay and Maekara.
Fujikis motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that the trial court "gravely erred" when, on its own, it dismissed the petition
based on improper venue. Fujiki stated that the RTC may be confusing the concept of venue with the concept of jurisdiction, because it
is lack of jurisdiction which allows a court to dismiss a case on its own. Fujiki cited Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate Court19 which
held that the "trial court cannot pre-empt the defendants prerogative to object to the improper laying of the venue by motu proprio
dismissing the case."20 Moreover, petitioner alleged that the trial court should not have "immediately dismissed" the petition under
Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC because he substantially complied with the provision.
On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioners motion for reconsideration. In its Resolution, the RTC stated that A.M. No. 0211-10-SC applies because the petitioner, in effect, prays for a decree of absolute nullity of marriage. 21 The trial court reiterated its two
grounds for dismissal, i.e. lack of personality to sue and improper venue under Sections 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. The RTC
considered Fujiki as a "third person"22 in the proceeding because he "is not the husband in the decree of divorce issued by the
Japanese Family Court, which he now seeks to be judicially recognized, x x x." 23 On the other hand, the RTC did not explain its ground
of impropriety of venue. It only said that "[a]lthough the Court cited Sec. 4 (Venue) x x x as a ground for dismissal of this case[,] it
should be taken together with the other ground cited by the Court x x x which is Sec. 2(a) x x x."24
The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition based on Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City,
Negros Occidental.25 The Court in Braza ruled that "[i]n a special proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or
Correction of Entries in the Original Registry), the trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages x x x." 26 Braza emphasized that the
"validity of marriages as well as legitimacy and filiation can be questioned only in a direct action seasonably filed by the proper party,
and not through a collateral attack such as [a] petition [for correction of entry] x x x."27
The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the validity of marriage between Marinay and Maekara. The trial court held
that this is a "jurisdictional ground" to dismiss the petition. 28 Moreover, the verification and certification against forum shopping of the
petition was not authenticated as required under Section 5 29 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. Hence, this also warranted the "immediate
dismissal" of the petition under the same provision.
The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor General and the Letters of Marinay and Maekara
On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their comment on the petition for review. 30 The public respondents, the Local
Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the Administrator and Civil Registrar General of the NSO, participated through the Office of the
Solicitor General. Instead of a comment, the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion.31
The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the RTCs "pronouncement that the petitioner failed to comply with x x x
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC x x x be set aside" and that the case be reinstated in the trial court for further proceedings. 32 The Solicitor
General argued that Fujiki, as the spouse of the first marriage, is an injured party who can sue to declare the bigamous marriage
between Marinay and Maekara void. The Solicitor General cited Juliano-Llave v. Republic33 which held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 0211-10-SC does not apply in cases of bigamy. In Juliano-Llave, this Court explained:
[t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she had only discovered during the connubial period that the
marriage was bigamous, and especially if the conjugal bliss had already vanished. Should parties in a subsequent marriage benefit
from the bigamous marriage, it would not be expected that they would file an action to declare the marriage void and thus, in such
circumstance, the "injured spouse" who should be given a legal remedy is the one in a subsisting previous marriage. The latter is
clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior
marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be a reminder of the
infidelity of the spouse and the disregard of the prior marriage which sanctity is protected by the Constitution.34

The Solicitor General contended that the petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court judgment may be made in a Rule 108
proceeding.35 In Corpuz v. Santo Tomas,36 this Court held that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule
108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the
status or right of a party or a particular fact." 37 While Corpuz concerned a foreign divorce decree, in the present case the Japanese
Family Court judgment also affected the civil status of the parties, especially Marinay, who is a Filipino citizen.
The Solicitor General asserted that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is the procedure to record "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees
concerning the civil status of persons" in the civil registry as required by Article 407 of the Civil Code. In other words, "[t]he law requires
the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal consequences upon a persons legal capacity and status x x x." 38 The
Japanese Family Court judgment directly bears on the civil status of a Filipino citizen and should therefore be proven as a fact in a Rule
108 proceeding.
Moreover, the Solicitor General argued that there is no jurisdictional infirmity in assailing a void marriage under Rule 108, citing De
Castro v. De Castro39 and Nial v. Bayadog40 which declared that "[t]he validity of a void marriage may be collaterally attacked."41
Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to comply with the directive for them to comment on the petition. 42 Maekara
wrote that Marinay concealed from him the fact that she was previously married to Fujiki. 43 Maekara also denied that he inflicted any
form of violence on Marinay.44 On the other hand, Marinay wrote that she had no reason to oppose the petition. 45 She would like to
maintain her silence for fear that anything she say might cause misunderstanding between her and Fujiki.46
The Issues
Petitioner raises the following legal issues:
(1) Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 0211-10-SC) is applicable.
(2) Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent
marriage between his or her spouse and a foreign citizen on the ground of bigamy.
(3) Whether the Regional Trial Court can recognize the foreign judgment in a proceeding for cancellation or correction of
entries in the Civil Registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
The Ruling of the Court
We grant the petition.
The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not
apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign
country. Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v. Republic,47 this Court held that the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the husband or wife can
file a declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage "does not apply if the reason behind the petition is bigamy."48
I.
For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a
foreign country, the petitioner only needs to prove the foreign judgment as a fact under the Rules of Court. To be more specific, a copy
of the foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39,
Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court. 49 Petitioner may prove the Japanese Family Court judgment through (1) an official publication or (2)
a certification or copy attested by the officer who has custody of the judgment. If the office which has custody is in a foreign country
such as Japan, the certification may be made by the proper diplomatic or consular officer of the Philippine foreign service in Japan and
authenticated by the seal of office.50
To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for recognition of foreign judgment would mean that the trial court and the
parties should follow its provisions, including the form and contents of the petition, 51 the service of summons,52 the investigation of the
public prosecutor,53 the setting of pre-trial,54 the trial55 and the judgment of the trial court.56 This is absurd because it will litigate the case
anew. It will defeat the purpose of recognizing foreign judgments, which is "to limit repetitive litigation on claims and issues." 57 The
interpretation of the RTC is tantamount to relitigating the case on the merits. In Mijares v. Raada,58 this Court explained that "[i]f every

judgment of a foreign court were reviewable on the merits, the plaintiff would be forced back on his/her original cause of action,
rendering immaterial the previously concluded litigation."59
A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the civil status, condition and legal capacity of its parties. However, the
effect of a foreign judgment is not automatic. To extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines, Philippine courts must
determine if the foreign judgment is consistent with domestic public policy and other mandatory laws. 60 Article 15 of the Civil Code
provides that "[l]aws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon
citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad." This is the rule of lex nationalii in private international law. Thus, the Philippine
State may require, for effectivity in the Philippines, recognition by Philippine courts of a foreign judgment affecting its citizen, over whom
it exercises personal jurisdiction relating to the status, condition and legal capacity of such citizen.
A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does not require relitigation under a Philippine court of the case as
if it were a new petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. Philippine courts cannot presume to know the foreign laws under which the
foreign judgment was rendered. They cannot substitute their judgment on the status, condition and legal capacity of the foreign citizen
who is under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine courts can only recognize the foreign judgment as a fact according to the
rules of evidence.
Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign judgment or final order against a person creates a "presumptive
evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title." Moreover, Section 48 of the Rules of
Court states that "the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion,
fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." Thus, Philippine courts exercise limited review on foreign judgments. Courts are not allowed to
delve into the merits of a foreign judgment. Once a foreign judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine court, it can only be repelled
on grounds external to its merits, i.e. , "want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact."
The rule on limited review embodies the policy of efficiency and the protection of party expectations, 61 as well as respecting the
jurisdiction of other states.62
Since 1922 in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,63 Philippine courts have recognized foreign divorce decrees between a Filipino and a
foreign citizen if they are successfully proven under the rules of evidence. 64 Divorce involves the dissolution of a marriage, but the
recognition of a foreign divorce decree does not involve the extended procedure under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the rules of ordinary
trial. While the Philippines does not have a divorce law, Philippine courts may, however, recognize a foreign divorce decree under the
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, to capacitate a Filipino citizen to remarry when his or her foreign spouse obtained a
divorce decree abroad.65
There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a fact the Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage
between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy. While the Philippines has no divorce law, the Japanese Family Court judgment
is fully consistent with Philippine public policy, as bigamous marriages are declared void from the beginning under Article 35(4) of the
Family Code. Bigamy is a crime under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. Thus, Fujiki can prove the existence of the Japanese
Family Court judgment in accordance with Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.
II.
Since the recognition of a foreign judgment only requires proof of fact of the judgment, it may be made in a special proceeding for
cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. Rule 1, Section 3 of the Rules of Court
provides that "[a] special proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact." Rule 108
creates a remedy to rectify facts of a persons life which are recorded by the State pursuant to the Civil Register Law or Act No. 3753.
These are facts of public consequence such as birth, death or marriage,66 which the State has an interest in recording. As noted by the
Solicitor General, in Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas this Court declared that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a
Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish
the status or right of a party or a particular fact."67
Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states:
Sec. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event, order or decree concerning the civil status of persons
which has been recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry relating
thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the province where the corresponding civil registry is located. (Emphasis supplied)
Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay
and Maekara on the ground of bigamy because the judgment concerns his civil status as married to Marinay. For the same reason he

has the personality to file a petition under Rule 108 to cancel the entry of marriage between Marinay and Maekara in the civil registry on
the basis of the decree of the Japanese Family Court.
There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material interest in maintaining the integrity of the marriage he contracted
and the property relations arising from it. There is also no doubt that he is interested in the cancellation of an entry of a bigamous
marriage in the civil registry, which compromises the public record of his marriage. The interest derives from the substantive right of the
spouse not only to preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances 68) his most intimate human relation, but also to protect his property
interests that arise by operation of law the moment he contracts marriage. 69 These property interests in marriage include the right to be
supported "in keeping with the financial capacity of the family"70 and preserving the property regime of the marriage.71
Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the Constitution, 72 but a spouses right in a marriage extends further to
relational rights recognized under Title III ("Rights and Obligations between Husband and Wife") of the Family Code. 73 A.M. No. 02-1110-SC cannot "diminish, increase, or modify" the substantive right of the spouse to maintain the integrity of his marriage. 74 In any case,
Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC preserves this substantive right by limiting the personality to sue to the husband or the wife of the
union recognized by law.
Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse of a subsisting marriage to question the validity of a subsequent
marriage on the ground of bigamy. On the contrary, when Section 2(a) states that "[a] petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void
marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife"75it refers to the husband or the wife of the subsisting marriage. Under
Article 35(4) of the Family Code, bigamous marriages are void from the beginning. Thus, the parties in a bigamous marriage are neither
the husband nor the wife under the law. The husband or the wife of the prior subsisting marriage is the one who has the personality to
file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage under Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous marriages void from the beginning, is the civil aspect of Article 349 of the
Revised Penal Code,76 which penalizes bigamy. Bigamy is a public crime. Thus, anyone can initiate prosecution for bigamy because
any citizen has an interest in the prosecution and prevention of crimes. 77 If anyone can file a criminal action which leads to the
declaration of nullity of a bigamous marriage, 78 there is more reason to confer personality to sue on the husband or the wife of a
subsisting marriage. The prior spouse does not only share in the public interest of prosecuting and preventing crimes, he is also
personally interested in the purely civil aspect of protecting his marriage.
When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated, the spouse is clearly an injured party and is therefore interested in the
judgment of the suit.79 Juliano-Llave ruled that the prior spouse "is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only
threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the
prior spouse."80 Being a real party in interest, the prior spouse is entitled to sue in order to declare a bigamous marriage void. For this
purpose, he can petition a court to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the bigamous marriage and judicially declare as a fact that
such judgment is effective in the Philippines. Once established, there should be no more impediment to cancel the entry of the
bigamous marriage in the civil registry.
III.
In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, this Court held that a "trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify
marriages" in a special proceeding for cancellation or correction of entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. 81 Thus, the "validity of
marriage[] x x x can be questioned only in a direct action" to nullify the marriage. 82 The RTC relied on Braza in dismissing the petition
for recognition of foreign judgment as a collateral attack on the marriage between Marinay and Maekara.
Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage where one
of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country.
To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil registry cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage.
A direct action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family Code,
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these safeguards are the requirement of proving the limited grounds for the
dissolution of marriage,83 support pendente lite of the spouses and children,84 the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties
of the spouses,85 and the investigation of the public prosecutor to determine collusion. 86 A direct action for declaration of nullity or
annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent circumvention of the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Family Courts Act of
1997 (Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry may be filed in the Regional Trial
Court "where the corresponding civil registry is located."87 In other words, a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the mere
expedient of changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.

However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or cancellation of a civil registry entry based on the recognition of a foreign
judgment annulling a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country. There is neither circumvention of the
substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under Philippine law, nor of the jurisdiction of Family Courts under R.A. No. 8369. A
recognition of a foreign judgment is not an action to nullify a marriage. It is an action for Philippine courts to recognize the effectivity of a
foreign judgment, which presupposes a case which was already tried and decided under foreign law. The procedure in A.M. No.
02-11-10-SC does not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment annulling a bigamous marriage where one of the parties is a
citizen of the foreign country. Neither can R.A. No. 8369 define the jurisdiction of the foreign court.
Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the effect of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino
spouse without undergoing trial to determine the validity of the dissolution of the marriage. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code provides that "[w]here a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter
validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under
Philippine law." In Republic v. Orbecido,88 this Court recognized the legislative intent of the second paragraph of Article 26 which is "to
avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer
married to the Filipino spouse"89 under the laws of his or her country. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code only
authorizes Philippine courts to adopt the effects of a foreign divorce decree precisely because the Philippines does not allow divorce.
Philippine courts cannot try the case on the merits because it is tantamount to trying a case for divorce.
The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure to address the anomaly that results from a marriage between a
Filipino, whose laws do not allow divorce, and a foreign citizen, whose laws allow divorce. The anomaly consists in the Filipino spouse
being tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country. The correction is made by
extending in the Philippines the effect of the foreign divorce decree, which is already effective in the country where it was rendered. The
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is based on this Courts decision in Van Dorn v. Romillo90 which declared that the
Filipino spouse "should not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served."91
The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a marriage between a Filipino and a foreign citizen who obtains a foreign
judgment nullifying the marriage on the ground of bigamy. The Filipino spouse may file a petition abroad to declare the marriage void on
the ground of bigamy. The principle in the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code applies because the foreign spouse, after
the foreign judgment nullifying the marriage, is capacitated to remarry under the laws of his or her country. If the foreign judgment is not
recognized in the Philippines, the Filipino spouse will be discriminatedthe foreign spouse can remarry while the Filipino spouse
cannot remarry.
Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine courts are empowered to correct a situation where the Filipino
spouse is still tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry. Moreover, notwithstanding Article 26 of the Family Code,
Philippine courts already have jurisdiction to extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines to the extent that the foreign
judgment does not contravene domestic public policy. A critical difference between the case of a foreign divorce decree and a foreign
judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is that bigamy, as a ground for the nullity of marriage, is fully consistent with Philippine public
policy as expressed in Article 35(4) of the Family Code and Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The Filipino spouse has the option
to undergo full trial by filing a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only remedy
available to him or her. Philippine courts have jurisdiction to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage, without
prejudice to a criminal prosecution for bigamy.
In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are incompetent to substitute their judgment on how a case was decided
under foreign law. They cannot decide on the "family rights and duties, or on the status, condition and legal capacity" of the foreign
citizen who is a party to the foreign judgment. Thus, Philippine courts are limited to the question of whether to extend the effect of a
foreign judgment in the Philippines. In a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage involving a citizen of a foreign country,
Philippine courts only decide whether to extend its effect to the Filipino party, under the rule of lex nationalii expressed in Article 15 of
the Civil Code.
For this purpose, Philippine courts will only determine (1) whether the foreign judgment is inconsistent with an overriding public policy in
the Philippines; and (2) whether any alleging party is able to prove an extrinsic ground to repel the foreign judgment, i.e. want of
jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. If there is neither inconsistency with public policy
nor adequate proof to repel the judgment, Philippine courts should, by default, recognize the foreign judgment as part of the comity of
nations. Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court states that the foreign judgment is already "presumptive evidence of a right
between the parties." Upon recognition of the foreign judgment, this right becomes conclusive and the judgment serves as the basis for
the correction or cancellation of entry in the civil registry. The recognition of the foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is a
subsequent event that establishes a new status, right and fact 92 that needs to be reflected in the civil registry. Otherwise, there will be
an inconsistency between the recognition of the effectivity of the foreign judgment and the public records in the Philippines.1wphi1

However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is without prejudice to prosecution for bigamy under
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.93 The recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is not a ground for
extinction of criminal liability under Articles 89 and 94 of the Revised Penal Code. Moreover, under Article 91 of the Revised Penal
Code, "[t]he term of prescription [of the crime of bigamy] shall not run when the offender is absent from the Philippine archipelago."
Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is inapplicable, the Court no longer sees the need to address the questions on venue and the contents and
form of the petition under Sections 4 and 5, respectively, of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Order dated 31 January 2011 and the Resolution dated 2 March 2011 of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 107, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is
ORDERED to REINSTATE the petition for further proceedings in accordance with this Decision.
SO ORDERED.

REPUBLIC
OF
vs.
MERLINDA L. OLAYBAR, Respondent.

THE

PHILIPPINES,

Petitioner,

DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court are the Regional Trial Court 1 (RTC) Decision2 dated
May 5, 2009 and Order3 dated August 25, 2009 in SP. Proc. No. 16519-CEB. The assailed decision granted respondent Merlinda L.
Olaybar's petition for cancellation of entries in the latter's marriage contract; while the assailed order denied the motion for
reconsideration filed by petitioner Republic of the Philippines through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
The facts of the case are as follows:
Respondent requested from the National Statistics Office (NSO) a Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) as one of the requirements
for her marriage with her boyfriend of five years. Upon receipt thereof, she discovered that she was already married to a certain Ye Son
Sune, a Korean National, on June 24, 2002, at the Office of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Palace of Justice. She denied
having contracted said marriage and claimed that she did not know the alleged husband; she did not appear before the solemnizing
officer; and, that the signature appearing in the marriage certificate is not hers. 4 She, thus, filed a Petition for Cancellation of Entries in
the Marriage Contract, especially the entries in the wife portion thereof. 5 Respondent impleaded the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City,
as well as her alleged husband, as parties to the case.
During trial, respondent testified on her behalf and explained that she could not have appeared before Judge Mamerto Califlores, the
supposed solemnizing officer, at the time the marriage was allegedly celebrated, because she was then in Makati working as a medical
distributor in Hansao Pharma. She completely denied having known the supposed husband, but she revealed that she recognized the
named witnesses to the marriage as she had met them while she was working as a receptionist in Tadels Pension House. She believed
that her name was used by a certain Johnny Singh, who owned a travel agency, whom she gave her personal circumstances in order
for her to obtain a passport.6 Respondent also presented as witness a certain Eufrocina Natinga, an employee of MTCC, Branch 1, who
confirmed that the marriage of Ye Son Sune was indeed celebrated in their office, but claimed that the alleged wife who appeared was
definitely not respondent.7 Lastly, a document examiner testified that the signature appearing in the marriage contract was forged.8

On May 5, 2009, the RTC rendered the assailed Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, the petition is granted in favor of the petitioner, Merlinda L. Olaybar. The Local Civil
Registrar of Cebu City is directed to cancel all the entries in the WIFE portion of the alleged marriage contract of the petitioner and
respondent Ye Son Sune.
SO ORDERED.9
Finding that the signature appearing in the subject marriage contract was not that of respondent, the court found basis in granting the
latters prayer to straighten her record and rectify the terrible mistake.10
Petitioner, however, moved for the reconsideration of the assailed Decision on the grounds that: (1) there was no clerical spelling,
typographical and other innocuous errors in the marriage contract for it to fall within the provisions of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court;
and (2) granting the cancellation of all the entries in the wife portion of the alleged marriage contract is, in effect, declaring the marriage
void ab initio.11
In an Order dated August 25, 2009, the RTC denied petitioners motion for reconsideration couched in this wise:
WHEREFORE, the court hereby denies the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the Republic of the Philippines. Furnish copies of this
order to the Office of the Solicitor General, the petitioners counsel, and all concerned government agencies.
SO ORDERED.12
Contrary to petitioners stand, the RTC held that it had jurisdiction to take cognizance of cases for correction of entries even on
substantial errors under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court being the appropriate adversary proceeding required. Considering that
respondents identity was used by an unknown person to contract marriage with a Korean national, it would not be feasible for
respondent to institute an action for declaration of nullity of marriage since it is not one of the void marriages under Articles 35 and 36 of
the Family Code.13
Petitioner now comes before the Court in this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal
of the assailed RTC Decision and Order based on the following grounds:
I.
RULE 108 OF THE REVISED RULES OF COURT APPLIES ONLY WHEN THERE ARE ERRORS IN THE ENTRIES SOUGHT TO BE
CANCELLED OR CORRECTED.
II.
GRANTING THE CANCELLATION OF "ALL THE ENTRIES IN THE WIFE PORTION OF THE ALLEGED MARRIAGE CONTRACT," IS
IN EFFECT DECLARING THE MARRIAGE VOID AB INITIO.14
Petitioner claims that there are no errors in the entries sought to be cancelled or corrected, because the entries made in the certificate
of marriage are the ones provided by the person who appeared and represented herself as Merlinda L. Olaybar and are, in fact, the
latters personal circumstances.15 In directing the cancellation of the entries in the wife portion of the certificate of marriage, the RTC, in
effect, declared the marriage null and void ab initio.16 Thus, the petition instituted by respondent is actually a petition for declaration of
nullity of marriage in the guise of a Rule 108 proceeding.17
We deny the petition.
At the outset, it is necessary to stress that a direct recourse to this Court from the decisions and final orders of the RTC may be taken
where only questions of law are raised or involved. There is a question of law when the doubt arises as to what the law is on a certain
state of facts, which does not call for the examination of the probative value of the evidence of the parties. 18 Here, the issue raised by
petitioner is whether or not the cancellation of entries in the marriage contract which, in effect, nullifies the marriage may be undertaken
in a Rule 108 proceeding. Verily, petitioner raised a pure question of law.
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets forth the rules on cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry, to wit:

SEC. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event, order or decree concerning the civil status of persons
which has been recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry relating
thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the province where the corresponding civil registry is located.
SEC. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. Upon good and valid grounds, the following entries in the civil register
may be cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) judgments of annulments of
marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of
natural children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of
filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name.
SEC. 3. Parties. When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register is sought, the civil registrar and all persons
who have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.
SEC. 4. Notice and Publication. Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall, by an order, fix the time and place for the
hearing of the same, and cause reasonable notice thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition. The court shall
also cause the order to be published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the
province.
SEC. 5. Opposition. The civil registrar and any person having or claiming any interest under the entry whose cancellation or
correction is sought may, within fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of publication of such notice,
file his opposition thereto.
SEC. 6. Expediting proceedings. The court in which the proceedings is brought may make orders expediting the
proceedings, and may also grant preliminary injunction for the preservation of the rights of the parties pending such
proceedings.
SEC. 7. Order. After hearing, the court may either dismiss the petition or issue an order granting the cancellation or
correction prayed for. In either case, a certified copy of the judgment shall be served upon the civil registrar concerned who
shall annotate the same in his record.
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court provides the procedure for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry. The proceedings may
either be summary or adversary. If the correction is clerical, then the procedure to be adopted is summary. If the rectification affects the
civil status, citizenship or nationality of a party, it is deemed substantial, and the procedure to be adopted is adversary. Since the
promulgation of Republic v. Valencia19 in 1986, the Court has repeatedly ruled that "even substantial errors in a civil registry may be
corrected through a petition filed under Rule 108, with the true facts established and the parties aggrieved by the error availing
themselves of the appropriate adversarial proceeding."20 An appropriate adversary suit or proceeding is one where the trial court has
conducted proceedings where all relevant facts have been fully and properly developed, where opposing counsel have been given
opportunity to demolish the opposite partys case, and where the evidence has been thoroughly weighed and considered.21
It is true that in special proceedings, formal pleadings and a hearing may be dispensed with, and the remedy [is] granted upon mere
application or motion. However, a special proceeding is not always summary. The procedure laid down in Rule 108 is not a summary
proceeding per se. It requires publication of the petition; it mandates the inclusion as parties of all persons who may claim interest
which would be affected by the cancellation or correction; it also requires the civil registrar and any person in interest to file their
opposition, if any; and it states that although the court may make orders expediting the proceedings, it is after hearing that the court
shall either dismiss the petition or issue an order granting the same. Thus, as long as the procedural requirements in Rule 108 are
followed, it is the appropriate adversary proceeding to effect substantial corrections and changes in entries of the civil register.22
In this case, the entries made in the wife portion of the certificate of marriage are admittedly the personal circumstances of respondent.
The latter, however, claims that her signature was forged and she was not the one who contracted marriage with the purported
husband. In other words, she claims that no such marriage was entered into or if there was, she was not the one who entered into such
contract. It must be recalled that when respondent tried to obtain a CENOMAR from the NSO, it appeared that she was married to a
certain Ye Son Sune. She then sought the cancellation of entries in the wife portion of the marriage certificate.
In filing the petition for correction of entry under Rule 108, respondent made the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City, as well as her
alleged husband Ye Son Sune, as parties-respondents. It is likewise undisputed that the procedural requirements set forth in Rule 108
were complied with. The Office of the Solicitor General was likewise notified of the petition which in turn authorized the Office of the City
Prosecutor to participate in the proceedings. More importantly, trial was conducted where respondent herself, the stenographer of the
court where the alleged marriage was conducted, as well as a document examiner, testified. Several documents were also considered

as evidence. With the testimonies and other evidence presented, the trial court found that the signature appearing in the subject
marriage certificate was different from respondents signature appearing in some of her government issued identification cards. 23 The
court thus made a categorical conclusion that respondents signature in the marriage certificate was not hers and, therefore, was
forged. Clearly, it was established that, as she claimed in her petition, no such marriage was celebrated.
Indeed the Court made a pronouncement in the recent case of Minoru Fujiki v. Maria Paz Galela Marinay, Shinichi Maekara, Local Civil
Registrar of Quezon City, and the Administrator and Civil Registrar General of the National Statistics Office24 that:
To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil registry cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage.
A direct action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family Code,
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these safeguards are the requirement of proving the limited grounds for the
dissolution of marriage, support pendente lite of the spouses and children, the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties of
the spouses and the investigation of the public prosecutor to determine collusion. A direct action for declaration of nullity or annulment
of marriage is also necessary to prevent circumvention of the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Family Courts Act of 1997
(Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry may be filed in the Regional Trial Court
where the corresponding civil registry is located. In other words, a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the mere expedient of
changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.
Aside from the certificate of marriage, no such evidence was presented to show the existence of marriage.1wphi1 Rather, respondent
showed by overwhelming evidence that no marriage was entered into and that she was not even aware of such existence. The
testimonial and documentary evidence clearly established that the only "evidence" of marriage which is the marriage certificate was a
forgery. While we maintain that Rule 108 cannot be availed of to determine the validity of marriage, we cannot nullify the proceedings
before the trial court where all the parties had been given the opportunity to contest the allegations of respondent; the procedures were
followed, and all the evidence of the parties had already been admitted and examined. Respondent indeed sought, not the nullification
of marriage as there was no marriage to speak of, but the correction of the record of such marriage to reflect the truth as set forth by
the evidence. Otherwise stated, in allowing the correction of the subject certificate of marriage by cancelling the wife portion thereof, the
trial court did not, in any way, declare the marriage void as there was no marriage to speak of.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Regional Trial Court Decision dated May 5, 2009 and
Order dated August 25, 2009 in SP. Proc. No. 16519-CEB, are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

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 nonshopping, 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 well-considered 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.
CHI
MING
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and GINA LAO-TSOI, respondents.

TSOI,

petitioner,

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
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and RORIDEL OLAVIANO MOLINA, respondents.

PHILIPPINES,

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 1 of 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-a-vis existing 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
and solidarity

12

echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes the permanence, inviolability

(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 noncomplied 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.

BRENDA
B.
vs.
WILSON G. MARCOS, respondent.

MARCOS,

petitioner,

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 Decision 1 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. 207216), 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 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. 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 noncomplied 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
vinculi contemplated 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
vs.
LOLITA QUINTERO-HAMANO, respondent.

THE

PHILIPPINES,

petitioner,

Before us is a petition for review of the decision 1 dated August 20, 2001 of the Court of Appeals 2 affirming the decision3 dated August
28, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Rizal, Branch 72, declaring as null and void the marriage contracted between herein respondent
Lolita M. Quintero-Hamano and her husband Toshio Hamano.
On June 17, 1996, respondent Lolita Quintero-Hamano filed a complaint for declaration of nullity of her marriage to her husband Toshio
Hamano, a Japanese national, on the ground of psychological incapacity.
Respondent alleged that in October 1986, she and Toshio started a common-law relationship in Japan. They later lived in the
Philippines for a month. Thereafter, Toshio went back to Japan and stayed there for half of 1987. On November 16, 1987, she gave
birth to their child.
On January 14, 1988, she and Toshio were married by Judge Isauro M. Balderia of the Municipal Trial Court of Bacoor, Cavite.
Unknown to respondent, Toshio was psychologically incapacitated to assume his marital responsibilities, which incapacity became
manifest only after the marriage. One month after their marriage, Toshio returned to Japan and promised to return by Christmas to
celebrate the holidays with his family. After sending money to respondent for two months, Toshio stopped giving financial support. She
wrote him several times but he never responded. Sometime in 1991, respondent learned from her friends that Toshio visited the
Philippines but he did not bother to see her and their child.
The summons issued to Toshio remained unserved because he was no longer residing at his given address. Consequently, on July 8,
1996, respondent filed an ex parte motion for leave to effect service of summons by publication. The trial court granted the motion on
July 12, 1996. In August 1996, the summons, accompanied by a copy of the petition, was published in a newspaper of general
circulation giving Toshio 15 days to file his answer. Because Toshio failed to file a responsive pleading after the lapse of 60 days from
publication, respondent filed a motion dated November 5, 1996 to refer the case to the prosecutor for investigation. The trial court
granted the motion on November 7, 1996.

On November 20, 1996, prosecutor Rolando I. Gonzales filed a report finding that no collusion existed between the parties. He prayed
that the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor be allowed to intervene to ensure that the evidence submitted was not fabricated. On
February 13, 1997, the trial court granted respondents motion to present her evidence ex parte. She then testified on how Toshio
abandoned his family. She thereafter offered documentary evidence to support her testimony.
On August 28, 1997, the trial court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which read:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the marriage between petitioner Lolita M. Quintero-Hamano and Toshio Hamano, is
hereby declared NULL and VOID.
The Civil Register of Bacoor, Cavite and the National Statistics Office are ordered to make proper entries into the records of
the afore-named parties pursuant to this judgment of the Court.
SO ORDERED.4
In declaring the nullity of the marriage on the ground of Toshios psychological incapacity, the trial court held that:
It is clear from the records of the case that respondent spouses failed to fulfill his obligations as husband of the petitioner and
father to his daughter. Respondent remained irresponsible and unconcerned over the needs and welfare of his family. Such
indifference, to the mind of the Court, is a clear manifestation of insensitivity and lack of respect for his wife and child which
characterizes a very immature person. Certainly, such behavior could be traced to respondents mental incapacity and
disability of entering into marital life.5
The Office of the Solicitor General, representing herein petitioner Republic of the Philippines, appealed to the Court of Appeals but the
same was denied in a decision dated August 28, 1997, the dispositive portion of which read:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, and pursuant to applicable law and jurisprudence on the matter and evidence on
hand, judgment is hereby rendered denying the instant appeal. The decision of the court a quo is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.6
The appellate court found that Toshio left respondent and their daughter a month after the celebration of the marriage, and returned to
Japan with the promise to support his family and take steps to make them Japanese citizens. But except for two months, he never sent
any support to nor communicated with them despite the letters respondent sent. He even visited the Philippines but he did not bother to
see them. Respondent, on the other hand, exerted all efforts to contact Toshio, to no avail.
The appellate court thus concluded that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations to his family,
and to "observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support" pursuant to Article 68 of the Family Code of the
Philippines. The appellate court rhetorically asked:
But what is there to preserve when the other spouse is an unwilling party to the cohesion and creation of a family as a social
inviolable institution? Why should petitioner be made to suffer in a marriage where the other spouse is not around and worse,
left them without even helping them cope up with family life and assist in the upbringing of their daughter as required under
Articles 68 to 71 of the Family Code?7
The appellate court emphasized that this case could not be equated with Republic vs. Court of Appeals and Molina8 and Santos vs.
Court of Appeals.9 In those cases, the spouses were Filipinos while this case involved a "mixed marriage," the husband being a
Japanese national.
Hence, this appeal by petitioner Republic based on this lone assignment of error:
I
The Court of Appeals erred in holding that respondent was able to prove the psychological incapacity of Toshio Hamano to
perform his marital obligations, despite respondents failure to comply with the guidelines laid down in the Molina case.10

According to petitioner, mere abandonment by Toshio of his family and his insensitivity to them did not automatically constitute
psychological incapacity. His behavior merely indicated simple inadequacy in the personality of a spouse falling short of reasonable
expectations. Respondent failed to prove any severe and incurable personality disorder on the part of Toshio, in accordance with the
guidelines set in Molina.
The Office of the Public Attorney, representing respondent, reiterated the ruling of the courts a quo and sought the denial of the instant
petition.
We rule in favor of 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.11 Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage.12
Respondent seeks to annul her marriage with Toshio on the ground of psychological incapacity. Article 36 of the Family Code of the
Philippines provides that:
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.
In Molina, we came up with the following guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 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. 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 of ejusdem 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 dos." 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 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 noncomplied 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
vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.13 (emphasis supplied)
The guidelines incorporate the three basic requirements earlier mandated by the Court in Santos: "psychological incapacity must be
characterized by (a) gravity (b) juridical antecedence and (c) incurability." 14 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 partys 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.15
We now proceed to determine whether respondent successfully proved Toshios psychological incapacity to fulfill his marital
responsibilities.
Petitioner showed that Toshio failed to meet his duty to live with, care for and support his family. He abandoned them a month after his
marriage to respondent. Respondent sent him several letters but he never replied. He made a trip to the Philippines but did not care at
all to see his family.
We find that the totality of evidence presented fell short of proving that Toshio was psychologically incapacitated to assume his marital
responsibilities. Toshios act of abandonment was doubtlessly irresponsible but it was never alleged nor proven to be due to some kind
of psychological illness. After respondent testified on how Toshio abandoned his family, no other evidence was presented showing that
his behavior was caused by a psychological disorder. Although, as a rule, there was no need for an actual medical examination, it would
have greatly helped respondents case had she presented evidence that medically or clinically identified his illness. This could have
been done through an expert witness. This respondent did not do.
We must remember that abandonment is also a ground for legal separation.16 There was no showing that the case at bar was not just
an instance of abandonment in the context of legal separation. We cannot presume psychological defect from the mere fact that Toshio
abandoned his family immediately after the celebration of the marriage. As we ruled in Molina, it is not enough to prove that a spouse
failed to meet his responsibility and duty as a married person; it is essential that he must be shown to be incapable of doing so due to
some psychological, not physical, illness.17 There was no proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse
integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates a person from accepting and complying with the obligations
essential to marriage.18
According to the appellate court, the requirements in Molina and Santos do not apply here because the present case involves a "mixed
marriage," the husband being a Japanese national. We disagree. In proving psychological incapacity, we find no distinction between an
alien spouse and a Filipino spouse. We cannot be lenient in the application of the rules merely because the spouse alleged to be
psychologically incapacitated happens to be a foreign national. The medical and clinical rules to determine psychological incapacity
were formulated on the basis of studies of human behavior in general. Hence, the norms used for determining psychological incapacity
should apply to any person regardless of nationality.
In Pesca vs. Pesca,19 this Court declared that marriage is an inviolable social institution that the State cherishes and protects. While we
commiserate with respondent, terminating her marriage to her husband may not necessarily be the fitting denouement.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby GRANTED. The decision dated August 28, 1997 of the Court of Appeals is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.

DAVID
B.
DEDEL,
Petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SHARON L. CORPUZ-DEDEL a.k.a. JANE IBRAHIM, Respondents.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Oppositor-Respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Petitioner David B. Dedel met respondent Sharon L. Corpuz Dedel while he was working in the advertising business of his father. The
acquaintance led to courtship and romantic relations, culminating in the exchange of marital vows before the City Court of Pasay on
September 28, 1966.1 The civil marriage was ratified in a church wedding on May 20, 1967.2
The union produced four children, namely: Beverly Jane, born on September 18, 1968; 3 Stephanie Janice born on September 9, 1969;4
Kenneth David born on April 24, 1971; 5 and Ingrid born on October 20, 1976. 6 The conjugal partnership, nonetheless, acquired neither
property nor debt.
Petitioner avers that during the marriage, Sharon turned out to be an irresponsible and immature wife and mother. She had extramarital affairs with several men: a dentist in the Armed Forces of the Philippines; a Lieutenant in the Presidential Security Command
and later a Jordanian national.
Sharon was once confirmed in the Manila Medical City for treatment by Dr. Lourdes Lapuz, a clinical psychiatrist. Petitioner alleged that
despite the treatment, Sharon did not stop her illicit relationship with the Jordanian national named Mustafa Ibrahim, whom she married
and with whom she had two children. However, when Mustafa Ibrahim left the country, Sharon returned to petitioner bringing along her
two children by Ibrahim. Petitioner accepted her back and even considered the two illegitimate children as his own. Thereafter, on
December 9, 1995, Sharon abandoned petitioner to join Ibrahim in Jordan with their two children. Since then, Sharon would only return
to the country on special occasions.
Finally, giving up all hope of a reconciliation with Sharon, petitioner filed on April 1, 1997 a petition seeking the declaration of nullity of
his marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, as defined in Article 36 of the Family Code, before the Regional Trial Court of
Makati City, Branch 149. Summons was effected by publication in the Pilipino Star Ngayon, a newspaper of general circulation in the
country considering that Sharon did not reside and could not be found in the Philippines.7
Petitioner presented Dr. Natividad A. Dayan, who testified that she conducted a psychological evaluation of petitioner and found him to
be conscientious, hardworking, diligent, a perfectionist who wants all tasks and projects completed up to the final detail and who exerts
his best in whatever he does.
On the other hand, Dr. Dayan declared that Sharon was suffering from Anti-Social Personality Disorder exhibited by her blatant display
of infidelity; that she committed several indiscretions and had no capacity for remorse, even bringing with her the two children of
Mustafa Ibrahim to live with petitioner. Such immaturity and irresponsibility in handling the marriage like her repeated acts of infidelity
and abandonment of her family are indications of Anti-Social Personality Disorder amounting to psychological incapacity to perform the
essential obligations of marriage.8
After trial, judgment was rendered, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the civil and church marriages between DAVID B. DEDEL and SHARON L. CORPUZ
celebrated on September 28, 1966 and May 20, 1967 are hereby declared null and void on the ground of psychological incapacity on
the part of the respondent to perform the essential obligations of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.
Accordingly, the conjugal partnership of gains existing between the parties is dissolved and in lieu thereof a regime of complete
separation of property between the said spouses is established in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Family Code, without
prejudice to rights previously acquired by creditors.
Let a copy of this Decision be duly recorded in the proper civil and property registries in accordance with Article 52 of the Family Code.
SO ORDERED.9
Respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, appealed alleging that
I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF A VALID GROUND
FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE CHURCH MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER IS NULL
AND VOID.
III

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RENDERING A DECISION WITHOUT A CERTIFICATION HAVING BEEN ISSUED
BY THE SOLICITOR GENERAL AS REQUIRED IN THE MOLINA CASE.
The Court of Appeals recalled and set aside the judgment of the trial court and ordered dismissal of the petition for declaration of nullity
of marriage.10
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated January 8, 2002.11 Hence, the instant petition.
Petitioner contends that the appellate court gravely abused its discretion and manifestly erred in its conclusion that the: (1) respondent
was not suffering from psychological incapacity to perform her marital obligations; (2) psychological incapacity of respondent is not
attended by gravity, juridical antecedence and permanence or incurability; and (3) totality of evidence submitted by the petitioner falls
short to prove psychological incapacity suffered by respondent.
The main question for resolution is whether or not the totality of the evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding that respondent
is psychologically incapacitated. More specifically, does the aberrant sexual behavior of respondent adverted to by petitioner fall within
the term "psychological incapacity?"
In Santos v. Court of Appeals,12 it was ruled:
x x x "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 in 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 of 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, 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 opinion of psychiatrists, psychologists and persons with expertise in
psychological disciplines might be helpful or even desirable.13
The difficulty in resolving the problem lies in the fact that a personality disorder is a very complex and elusive phenomenon which defies
easy analysis and definition. In this case, respondents sexual infidelity can hardly qualify as being mentally or psychically ill to such an
extent that she could not have known the obligations she was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given a valid assumption
thereof.14 It appears that respondents promiscuity did not exist prior to or at the inception of the marriage. What is, in fact, disclosed by
the records is a blissful marital union at its celebration, later affirmed in church rites, and which produced four children.
Respondents sexual infidelity or perversion and abandonment do not by themselves constitute psychological incapacity within the
contemplation of the Family Code. Neither could her emotional immaturity and irresponsibility be equated with psychological
incapacity.15 It must be shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered personality which make respondent completely unable
to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state, not merely due to her youth, immaturity16 or sexual promiscuity.
At best, the circumstances relied upon by petitioner are grounds for legal separation under Article 55 17 of the Family Code. However, we
pointed out in Marcos v. Marcos18 that Article 36 is not to be equated with legal separation in which the grounds need not be rooted in
psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity,
abandonment and the like. In short, the evidence presented by petitioner refers only to grounds for legal separation, not for declaring a
marriage void.
We likewise agree with the Court of Appeals that the trial court has no jurisdiction to dissolve the church marriage of petitioner and
respondent. The authority to do so is exclusively lodged with the Ecclesiastical Court of the Roman Catholic Church.
All told, we find no cogent reason to disturb the ruling of the appellate court.1wphi1 We cannot deny the grief, frustration and even
desperation of petitioner in his present situation. Regrettably, there are circumstances, like in this case, where neither law nor society

can provide the specific answers to every individual problem. 19 While we sympathize with petitioners marital predicament, our first and
foremost duty is to apply the law no matter how harsh it may be.20
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 60406, which
ordered the dismissal of Civil Case No. 97-467 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 149, is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

JUANITA CARATING-SIAYNGCO, petitioner,


vs.
MANUEL SIAYNGCO, respondent.
DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision1 of the Court of Appeals promulgated on 01 July 2003,
reversing the decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 102, Quezon City, dated 31 January 2001, which
dismissed the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage filed by respondent herein Judge Manuel Siayngco
("respondent Manuel").
Petitioner Juanita Carating-Siayngco ("Petitioner Juanita") and respondent Manuel were married at civil rites on 27
June 1973 and before the Catholic Church on 11 August 1973. After discovering that they could not have a child of
their own, the couple decided to adopt a baby boy in 1977, who they named Jeremy.
On 25 September 1997, or after twenty-four (24) years of married life together, respondent Manuel filed for the
declaration of its nullity on the ground of psychological incapacity of petitioner Juanita. He alleged that all throughout
their marriage, his wife exhibited an over domineering and selfish attitude towards him which was exacerbated by
her extremely volatile and bellicose nature; that she incessantly complained about almost everything and anyone
connected with him like his elderly parents, the staff in his office and anything not of her liking like the physical
arrangement, tables, chairs, wastebaskets in his office and with other trivial matters; that she showed no respect or
regard at all for the prestige and high position of his office as judge of the Municipal Trial Court; that she would yell
and scream at him and throw objects around the house within the hearing of their neighbors; that she cared even
less about his professional advancement as she did not even give him moral support and encouragement; that her
psychological incapacity arose before marriage, rooted in her deep-seated resentment and vindictiveness for what
she perceived as lack of love and appreciation from her own parents since childhood and that such incapacity is
permanent and incurable and, even if treatment could be attempted, it will involve time and expense beyond the
emotional and physical capacity of the parties; and that he endured and suffered through his turbulent and loveless
marriage to her for twenty-two (22) years.
In her Answer, petitioner Juanita alleged that respondent Manuel is still living with her at their conjugal home in
Malolos, Bulacan; that he invented malicious stories against her so that he could be free to marry his paramour; that
she is a loving wife and mother; that it was respondent Manuel who was remiss in his marital and family obligations;
that she supported respondent Manuel in all his endeavors despite his philandering; that she was raised in a real
happy family and had a happy childhood contrary to what was stated in the complaint.
In the pre-trial order,3 the parties only stipulated on the following:
1. That they were married on 27 June 1973;
2. That they have one son who is already 20 years old.
Trial on the merits ensued thereafter. Respondent Manuel first took the witness stand and elaborated on the
allegations in his petition. He testified that his parents never approved of his marriage as they still harbored hope
that he would return to the seminary.4 The early years of their marriage were difficult years as they had a hard time
being accepted as husband and wife by his parents and it was at this period that his wife started exhibiting signs of
being irritable and temperamental5 to him and his parents.6 She was also obsessive about cleanliness which
became the common source of their quarrels.7 He, however, characterized their union as happy during that period of
time in 1979 when they moved to Malolos as they were engrossed in furnishing their new house. 8 In 1981, when he
became busy with law school and with various community organizations, it was then that he felt that he and his wife
started to drift apart.9 He then narrated incidents during their marriage that were greatly embarrassing and/or
distressing to him, e.g., when his wife quarreled with an elderly neighbor; 10 when she would visit him in his office and
remark that the curtains were already dirty or when she kicked a trash can across the room or when she threw a
ballpen from his table;11 when she caused his office drawer to be forcibly opened while he was away; 12 when she
confronted a female tenant of theirs and accused the tenant of having an affair with him; 13 and other incidents

reported to him which would show her jealous nature. Money matters continued to be a source of bitter quarrels. 14
Respondent Manuel could not forget that he was not able to celebrate his appointment as judge in 1995 as his wife
did not approve it, ostensibly for lack of money, but she was very generous when it came to celebrations of their
parish priest.15 Respondent Manuel then denied that he was a womanizer16 or that he had a mistress.17 Lastly,
respondent Manuel testified as to their conjugal properties and obligations. 18
Next, LUCENA TAN, respondent Manuels Clerk of Court, testified that petitioner Juanita seldom went to respondent
Manuels office.19 But when she was there, she would call witness to complain about the curtains and the cleanliness
of the office.20 One time, witness remembered petitioner Juanita rummaging through respondent Manuels drawer
looking for his address book while the latter was in Subic attending a conference. 21 When petitioner Juanita could
not open a locked drawer she called witness, telling the latter that she was looking for the telephone number of
respondents hotel room in Subic. A process server was requested by petitioner Juanita to call for a locksmith in the
town proper. When the locksmith arrived, petitioner Juanita ordered him to open the locked drawer. On another
occasion, particularly in August of 1998, witness testified that she heard petitioner Juanita remark to respondent
Manuel "sino bang batang bibinyagan na yan? Baka anak mo yan sa labas?" 22
As his third witness, respondent Manuel presented DR. VALENTINA GARCIA whose professional qualifications as a
psychiatrist were admitted by petitioner Juanita. 23 From her psychiatric evaluation,24 Dr. Garcia concluded:
To sum up, Manuel de Jesus Siayngco and Juanita Victoria Carating-Siayngco contributed to the marital
collapse. There is a partner relational problem which affected their capacity to sustain the marital bond with
love, support and understanding.
The partner relational problem (coded V61/10 in the Fourth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders or DSM IV) is secondary to the psychopathology of both spouses. Manuel and Juanita
had engaged themselves in a defective communication pattern which is characteristically negative and
deformed. This affected their competence to maintain the love and respect that they should give to each
other.
Marriage requires a sustained level of adaptation from both partners who are expected to use healthy
strategies to solve their disputes and differences. Whereas Juanita would be derogatory, critical,
argumentative, depressive and obsessive-compulsive, Manuel makes use of avoidance and suppression. In
his effort to satisfy the self and to boost his masculine ego to cover up for his felt or imagined inadequacies,
he became callused to the detrimental effects of his unfaithfulness and his failure to prioritize the marriage.
Both spouses, who display narcissistic psychological repertoire (along with their other maladaptive traits),
failed to adequately empathize (or to be responsive and sensitive) to each others needs and feelings. The
matrimonial plot is not conducive to a healthy and a progressive marriage. Manuel and Juanita have shown
their psychologically [sic] incapacity to satisfactorily comply with the fundamental duties of marriage. The
clashing of their patterns of maladaptive traits, which warrant the diagnosis of personality disorder not
otherwise specified (PDNOS, with code 301.9 as per DSM IV criteria) will bring about more emotional
mishaps and psychopathology. These rigid sets of traits which were in existence before the marriage will
tend to be pervasive and impervious to recovery.25
In her defense, petitioner Juanita denied respondent Manuels allegations. She insisted that they were a normal
couple who had their own share of fights; that they were happily married until respondent Manuel started having
extra-marital affairs26 which he had admitted to her.27 Petitioner Juanita professed that she would wish to preserve
her marriage and that she truly loved her husband.28 She stated further that she has continuously supported
respondent Manuel, waiting up for him while he was in law school to serve him food and drinks. Even when he
already filed the present case, she would still attend to his needs.29 She remembered that after the pre-trial, while
they were in the hallway, respondent Manuel implored her to give him a chance to have a new family.30

DR. EDUARDO MAABA, whose expertise as a psychiatrist was admitted by respondent Manuel, 31 testified that he
conducted a psychiatric evaluation on petitioner Juanita, the results of which were embodied in his report. Said
report stated in part:
Based on the clinical interviews and the results of the psychological tests, respondent Juanita Victoria
Carating-Siayngco, was found to be a mature, conservative, religious and highly intelligent woman who
possess [sic] more than enough psychological potentials for a mutually satisfying long term heterosexual
relationship. Superego is strong and she is respectful of traditional institutions of society like the institution of
marriage. She was also found to be a loving, nurturing and self-sacrificing woman who is capable of
enduring severe environmental stress in her social milieu. Finally, she is reality-oriented and therefore
capable of rendering fair and sound decision.
In summary, the psychiatric evaluation found the respondent to be psychologically capacitated to comply
with the basic and essential obligations of marriage. 32
CRISPINA SEVILLA, a friend of the spouses Siayngco since 1992 described the Siayngcos as the ideal couple,
sweet to each other.33 The couple would religiously attend prayer meetings in the community.34 Both were likewise
leaders in their community.35 Witness then stated that she would often go to the house of the couple and, as late as
March 2000, she still saw respondent Manuel there.36
On 31 January 2001, the trial court denied respondent Manuels petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage to
petitioner Juanita holding in part that:
The asserted psychological incapacity of the defendant is not preponderantly supported in evidence. The
couple [was] happily married and after four years of marital bliss [was] blest with a son. Their life together
continued years thereafter in peace and prosperity.
The psychiatric finding that defendant has been critical, depressed and obsessive doubtless arose later in
the parties relationship sometime in the early 90s when the defendant-wife started receiving letters that the
plaintiff is playing footsy.
xxx

xxx

xxx

The present state of our laws on marriage does not favor knee-jerk responses to slight stabs of the
Pavlovian hammer on marital relations. A wife, as in the instant case, may have succumbed, due to her
jealousy, to the constant delivery of irritating curtain lectures to her husband. But, as our laws now stand, the
dissolution of the marriage is not the remedy in such cases. In contrast to some countries, our laws do not
look at a marital partner as a mere refrigerator in the Kitchen even if he or she sometimes may sound like a
firetruck.37
A motion for reconsideration was filed but was denied in an order dated 04 May 2001. 38
On 01 July 2003, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC decision, relying mainly on the psychiatric evaluation of Dr.
Garcia finding both Manuel and Juanita psychologically incapacitated and on the case of Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of
Appeals.39 Thus:
The report clearly explained the root cause of the alleged psychological incapacity of plaintiff Manuel and
defendant Juanita. It appears that there is empathy between plaintiff and defendant. 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 others 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 "amore gignit amorem", sacrifice and a continuing commitment to compromise
conscious of its value as a sublime social institution (Chi Ming Tsoi vs. Court of Appeals, 266 SCRA 324).
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 reverse and set aside
the decision of the lower court. Plaintiff Manuel is entitled to have his marriage declared a nullity on the
ground of psychological incapacity, not only of defendant but also of himself. 40
Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred
I. IN ITS FINDINGS THAT PETITIONER JUANITA IS PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPACITATED
II. IN ITS FINDINGS OF FACT THAT PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT SEPARATED ON MARCH 1997,
THE TRUTH IS THAT THEY ARE STILL LIVING TOGETHER AS HUSBAND AND WIFE AT THE TIME OF
THE FILING OF THE PETITION UP TO THE PRESENT
III. WHEN IT DID NOT FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES LAID DOWN BY THE SUPREME COURT IN THE
CASE OF REPUBLIC V. MOLINA
IV. IN DECLARING THE MARRIAGE OF HEREIN PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT NULL AND VOID ON
GROUND OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY UNDER ARTICLE 36 OF THE FAMILY CODE
The Courts Ruling
Our pronouncement in Republic v. Dagdag41 is apropos. There, we held that whether or not psychological incapacity
exists in a given case calling for the declaration of the nullity of the marriage depends crucially on the facts of the
case. Each case must be closely scrutinized and judged according to its own facts as there can be no case that is
on "all fours" with another. This, the Court of Appeals did not heed.
The Court of Appeals perfunctorily applied our ruling in Chi Ming Tsoi despite a clear divergence in its factual milieu
with the case at bar. In Chi Ming Tsoi, the couple involved therein, despite sharing the same bed from the time of
their wedding night on 22 May 1988 until their separation on 15 March 1989, never had coitus. The perplexed wife
filed the petition for the declaration of the nullity of her marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity of her
husband. We sustained the wife for the reason that an essential marital obligation under the Family Code is
procreation such that "the senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the above marital obligation
is equivalent to psychological incapacity."
On the other hand, sexual intimacy for procreation is a non-issue herein. Rather, we have here a case of a husband
who is constantly embarrassed by his wifes outbursts and overbearing ways, who finds his wifes obsession with
cleanliness and the tight reign on his wallet "irritants" and who is wounded by her lack of support and respect for his
person and his position as a Judge. In our book, however, these inadequacies of petitioner Juanita which led
respondent Manuel to file a case against her do not amount to psychological incapacity to comply with the essential
marital obligations.
It was in Santos v. Court of Appeals42 where we declared that "psychological incapacity" under Article 36 of the
Family Code is not meant to comprehend all possible cases of psychoses. It should refer, rather, 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. Psychological incapacity must be
characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability.43 In Republic v. Court of Appeals44 we
expounded:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of 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. 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 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, 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 dos." 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 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. 45
With the foregoing pronouncements as compass, we now resolve the issue of whether or not the totality of evidence
presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity against petitioner Juanita and/or respondent
Manuel.

A. RE: PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF RESPONDENT MANUEL


We reiterate that the state has a high stake in the preservation of marriage rooted in its recognition of the sanctity of
married life and its mission to protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. 46 With this
cardinal state policy in mind, we held in Republic v. Court of Appeals 47 that the burden of proof to show the nullity of
marriage belongs to the plaintiff (respondent Manuel herein). Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence
and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity.
In herein case, the Court of Appeals committed reversible error in holding that respondent Manuel is psychologically
incapacitated. The psychological report of Dr. Garcia, which is respondent Manuels own evidence, contains candid
admissions of petitioner Juanita, the person in the best position to gauge whether or not her husband fulfilled the
essential marital obligations of marriage:
She talked about her spouse, "My husband is kind, a good provider, cool, intelligent but a liar, masamang
magalit at gastador. In spite of what he has done to me, I take care of him whenever he is sick. He is having
extra marital affairs because he wants to have a child. I believe that our biggest problem is not having a
child. It is his obsession to have a child with his girl now. He started his relationship with this girl in 1994. I
even saw them together in the car. I think that it was the girl who encouraged him to file the petition." She
feels that the problems in the relationship is [sic] "paulit-ulit," but, that she still is willing to pursue it.
x x x. Overall, she feels that he is a good spouse and that he is not really psychologically incapacitated. He
apparently told her, "You and Jeremy should give me a chance to have a new family." She answered and
said, "Ikaw tinuruan mo akong to fight for my right. Ipaglalaban ko ang marriage natin." 48
What emerges from the psychological report of Dr. Garcia as well as from the testimonies of the parties and their
witnesses is that the only essential marital obligation which respondent Manuel was not able to fulfill, if any, is the
obligation of fidelity.49 Sexual infidelity, per se, however, does not constitute psychological incapacity within the
contemplation of the Family Code.50 It must be shown that respondent Manuels unfaithfulness is a manifestation of
a disordered personality which makes him completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital
state51 and not merely due to his ardent wish to have a child of his own flesh and blood. In herein case, respondent
Manuel has admitted that: "I had [extra-marital] affairs because I wanted to have a child at that particular point." 52
B. RE: PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF PETITIONER JUANITA
As aforementioned, the presumption is always in favor of the validity of marriage. Semper praesumitur pro
matrimonio. In the case at bar, respondent Manuel failed to prove that his wifes lack of respect for him, her
jealousies and obsession with cleanliness, her outbursts and her controlling nature (especially with respect to his
salary), and her inability to endear herself to his parents are grave psychological maladies that paralyze her from
complying with the essential obligations of marriage. Neither is there any showing that these "defects" were already
present at the inception of the marriage or that they are incurable.53 In fact, Dr. Maaba, whose expertise as a
psychiatrist was admitted by respondent Manuel, reported that petitioner was psychologically capacitated to comply
with the basic and essential obligations of marriage. 54
The psychological report of respondent Manuels witness, Dr. Garcia, on the other hand, does not help his case any.
Nothing in there supports the doctors conclusion that petitioner Juanita is psychologically incapacitated. On the
contrary, the report clearly shows that the root cause of petitioner Juanitas behavior is traceable not from the
inception of their marriage as required by law but from her experiences during the marriage, e.g., her in-laws
disapproval of her as they wanted their son to enter the priesthood, 55 her husbands philandering, admitted no less
by him,56 and her inability to conceive.57 Dr. Garcias report paints a story of a husband and wife who grew
professionally during the marriage, who pursued their individual dreams to the hilt, becoming busier and busier,

ultimately sacrificing intimacy and togetherness as a couple. This was confirmed by respondent Manuel himself
during his direct examination.58
Thus, from the totality of the evidence adduced by both parties, we have been allowed a window into the
Siayngcoss life and have perceived therefrom a simple case of a married couple drifting apart, becoming strangers
to each other, with the husband consequently falling out of love and wanting a way out.
An unsatisfactory marriage, however, is not a null and void marriage. Mere showing of "irreconcilable differences"
and "conflicting personalities" in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity.59 As we stated in Marcos v. Marcos:60
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 therefore manifests 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.
We are not downplaying the frustration and misery respondent Manuel might be experiencing in being
shackled, so to speak, to a marriage that is no longer working. Regrettably, there are situations like this one,
where neither law nor society can provide the specific answers to every individual problem. 61
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated 01 July 2003 of the Court of
Appeals is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated 31 January 2001 of the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 102 is reinstated and given full force and effect. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

MA. ARMIDA PEREZ-FERRARIS, petitioner,


vs.
BRIX FERRARIS, respondent.
RESOLUTION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This resolves the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Ma. Armida Perez-Ferraris of the Resolution dated
June 9, 2004 denying the petition for review on certiorari of the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals
dated April 30, 2003 and February 24, 2004, respectively, for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that the
Court of Appeals committed any reversible error.
On February 20, 2001, the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 151 rendered a Decision 1 denying the petition
for declaration of nullity of petitioner's marriage with Brix Ferraris. The trial court noted that suffering from epilepsy
does not amount to psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Civil Code and the evidence on record were
insufficient to prove infidelity. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order 2 dated April 20, 2001
where the trial court reiterated that there was no evidence that respondent is mentally or physically ill to such an
extent that he could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid
assumption thereof.
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed3 in toto the judgment of the trial court. It held that the
evidence on record did not convincingly establish that respondent was suffering from psychological incapacity or

that his "defects" were incurable and already present at the inception of the marriage. 4 The Court of Appeals also
found that Dr. Dayan's testimony failed to establish the substance of respondent's psychological incapacity; that she
failed to explain how she arrived at the conclusion that the respondent has a mixed personality disorder; that she
failed to clearly demonstrate that there was a natal or supervening disabling factor or an adverse integral element in
respondent's character that effectively incapacitated him from accepting and complying with the essential marital
obligations.5
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied6 for lack of merit; thus, she filed a petition for review on certiorari
with this Court. As already stated, the petition for review was denied for failure of petitioner to show that the
appellate tribunal committed any reversible error.
Petitioner filed the instant motion for reconsideration.7 The Court required respondent Brix Ferraris to file comment8
but failed to comply; thus, he is deemed to have waived the opportunity to file comment. Further, the Court directed
the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on petitioner's motion for reconsideration which it complied on
March 2, 2006.
After considering the arguments of both the petitioner and the OSG, the Court resolves to deny petitioner's motion
for reconsideration.
The issue of whether or not psychological incapacity exists in a given case calling for annulment of marriage
depends crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts of the case. 9 Such factual issue, however, is beyond
the province of this Court to review. It is not the function of the Court to analyze or weigh all over again the evidence
or premises supportive of such factual determination.10 It is a well-established principle that factual findings of the
trial court, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding on this Court, 11 save for the most compelling and
cogent reasons, like when the findings of the appellate court go beyond the issues of the case, run contrary to the
admissions of the parties to the case, or fail to notice certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, will justify a
different conclusion; or when there is a misappreciation of facts,12 which are unavailing in the instant case.
The term "psychological incapacity" to be a ground for the nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code,
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.13 As all people may have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies, or isolated characteristics
associated with certain personality disorders, 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. 14 It is for this
reason that the Court relies heavily on psychological experts for its understanding of the human personality.
However, the root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature must be fully
explained,15 which petitioner failed to convincingly demonstrate.
As aptly held by the Court of Appeals:
Simply put, the chief and basic consideration in the resolution of marital annulment cases is the presence of
evidence that can adequately establish respondent's psychological condition. Here, appellant contends that
there is such evidence. We do not agree. Indeed, the evidence on record did not convincingly establish that
respondent was suffering from psychological incapacity. There is absolutely no showing that his "defects"
were already present at the inception of the marriage, or that those are incurable.
Quite apart from being plainly self-serving, petitioner's evidence showed that respondent's alleged failure to
perform his so-called marital obligations was not at all a manifestation of some deep-seated, grave,
permanent and incurable psychological malady. To be sure, the couple's relationship before the marriage
and even during their brief union (for well about a year or so) was not all bad. During that relatively short

period of time, petitioner was happy and contented with her life in the company of respondent. In fact, by
petitioner's own reckoning, respondent was a responsible and loving husband. x x x. Their problems began
when petitioner started doubting respondent's fidelity. It was only when they started fighting about the calls
from women that respondent began to withdraw into his shell and corner, and failed to perform his so-called
marital obligations. Respondent could not understand petitioner's lack of trust in him and her constant
naggings. He thought her suspicions irrational. Respondent could not relate to her anger, temper and
jealousy. x x x.
xxxx
At any rate, Dr. Dayan did not explain how she arrived at her diagnosis that respondent has a mixed
personality disorder called "schizoid," and why he is the "dependent and avoidant type." In fact, Dr. Dayan's
statement that one suffering from such mixed personality disorder is dependent on others for decision x x x
lacks specificity; it seems to belong to the realm of theoretical speculation. Also, Dr. Dayan's information that
respondent had extramarital affairs was supplied by the petitioner herself. Notably, when asked as to the
root cause of respondent's alleged psychological incapacity, Dr. Dayan's answer was vague, evasive and
inconclusive. She replied that such disorder "can be part of his family upbringing" x x x. She stated that there
was a history of respondent's parents having difficulties in their relationship. But this input on the supposed
problematic history of respondent's parents also came from petitioner. Nor did Dr. Dayan clearly
demonstrate that there was really "a natal or supervening disabling factor" on the part of respondent, or an
"adverse integral element" in respondent's character that effectively incapacitated him from accepting, and,
thereby complying with, the essential marital obligations. Of course, petitioner likewise failed to prove that
respondent's supposed psychological or mental malady existed even before the marriage. All these
omissions must be held up against petitioner, for the reason that upon her devolved the onus of establishing
nullity of the marriage. Indeed, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage and the
indissolubility of the marital vinculum.16
We find respondent's alleged mixed personality disorder, the "leaving-the-house" attitude whenever they quarreled,
the violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support, and his
preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family, are not rooted on some debilitating
psychological condition but a mere refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage.
In Republic v. Court of Appeals,17 where therein respondent preferred to spend more time with his friends than his
family on whom he squandered his money, depended on his parents for aid and assistance, and was dishonest to
his wife regarding his finances, the Court held that the psychological defects spoken of were more of a "difficulty," if
not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of some marital obligations and that a mere showing of
irreconcilable differences and conflicting personalities in no wise constitute 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, not physical, illness.
Also, we held in Hernandez v. Court of Appeals18 that habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and
abandonment do not by themselves constitute grounds for declaring a marriage void based on psychological
incapacity.
While petitioner's marriage with the respondent failed and appears to be without hope of reconciliation, the remedy
however is not always to have it declared void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity. An unsatisfactory
marriage, however, is not a null and void marriage.19 No less than the Constitution recognizes the sanctity of
marriage and the unity of the family; it decrees marriage as legally "inviolable" and protects it from dissolution at the
whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be "protected" by the state.20

Thus, in determining the import of "psychological incapacity" under Article 36, it must be read in conjunction with,
although to be taken as distinct from Articles 35,21 37,22 38,23 and 4124 that would likewise, but for different reasons,
render the marriage void ab initio, or Article 4525 that would make 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.26 Article 36 should not to be confused with a
divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefor manifest themselves. 27 Neither it is 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.28
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated June 9, 2004
denying the petition for review on certiorari for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals
committed any reversible error, is DENIED WITH FINALITY.
SO ORDERED.

LEONILO ANTONIO Petitioner,


vs.
MARIE IVONNE F. REYES, Respondent.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:

Statistics never lie, but lovers often do, quipped a sage. This sad truth has unsettled many a love transformed into
matrimony. Any sort of deception between spouses, no matter the gravity, is always disquieting. Deceit to the depth
and breadth unveiled in the following pages, dark and irrational as in the modern noir tale, dims any trace of
certitude on the guilty spouses capability to fulfill the marital obligations even more.
The Petition for Review on Certiorari assails the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals dated 29
November 2001 and 24 October 2002. The Court of Appeals had reversed the judgment 3 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Makati declaring the marriage of Leonilo N. Antonio (petitioner) and Marie Ivonne F. Reyes (respondent),
null and void. After careful consideration, we reverse and affirm instead the trial court.
Antecedent Facts
Petitioner and respondent met in August 1989 when petitioner was 26 years old and respondent was 36 years of
age. Barely a year after their first meeting, they got married before a minister of the Gospel 4 at the Manila City Hall,
and through a subsequent church wedding5 at the Sta. Rosa de Lima Parish, Bagong Ilog, Pasig, Metro Manila on 6
December 1990.6 Out of their union, a child was born on 19 April 1991, who sadly died five (5) months later.
On 8 March 1993,7 petitioner filed a petition to have his marriage to respondent declared null and void. He anchored
his petition for nullity on Article 36 of the Family Code alleging that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to
comply with the essential obligations of marriage. He asserted that respondents incapacity existed at the time their
marriage was celebrated and still subsists up to the present. 8
As manifestations of respondents alleged psychological incapacity, petitioner claimed that respondent persistently
lied about herself, the people around her, her occupation, income, educational attainment and other events or
things, 9 to wit:
(1) She concealed the fact that she previously gave birth to an illegitimate son, 10 and instead introduced the boy to
petitioner as the adopted child of her family. She only confessed the truth about the boys parentage when petitioner
learned about it from other sources after their marriage. 11
(2) She fabricated a story that her brother-in-law, Edwin David, attempted to rape and kill her when in fact, no such
incident occurred.12
(3) She misrepresented herself as a psychiatrist to her obstetrician, Dr. Consuelo Gardiner, and told some of her
friends that she graduated with a degree in psychology, when she was neither.13
(4) She claimed to be a singer or a free-lance voice talent affiliated with Blackgold Recording Company (Blackgold);
yet, not a single member of her family ever witnessed her alleged singing activities with the group. In the same vein,
she postulated that a luncheon show was held at the Philippine Village Hotel in her honor and even presented an
invitation to that effect14 but petitioner discovered per certification by the Director of Sales of said hotel that no such
occasion had taken place.15
(5) She invented friends named Babes Santos and Via Marquez, and under those names, sent lengthy letters to
petitioner claiming to be from Blackgold and touting her as the "number one moneymaker" in the commercial
industry worth P2 million.16 Petitioner later found out that respondent herself was the one who wrote and sent the
letters to him when she admitted the truth in one of their quarrels.17 He likewise realized that Babes Santos and Via
Marquez were only figments of her imagination when he discovered they were not known in or connected with
Blackgold.18
(6) She represented herself as a person of greater means, thus, she altered her payslip to make it appear that she
earned a higher income. She bought a sala set from a public market but told petitioner that she acquired it from a

famous furniture dealer.19 She spent lavishly on unnecessary items and ended up borrowing money from other
people on false pretexts.20
(7) She exhibited insecurities and jealousies over him to the extent of calling up his officemates to monitor his
whereabouts. When he could no longer take her unusual behavior, he separated from her in August 1991. He tried
to attempt a reconciliation but since her behavior did not change, he finally left her for good in November 1991. 21
In support of his petition, petitioner presented Dr. Dante Herrera Abcede (Dr. Abcede), a psychiatrist, and Dr. Arnulfo
V.
Lopez (Dr. Lopez), a clinical psychologist, who stated, based on the tests they conducted, that petitioner was
essentially a normal, introspective, shy and conservative type of person. On the other hand, they observed that
respondents persistent and constant lying
to petitioner was abnormal or pathological. It undermined the basic relationship that should be based on love, trust
and respect.22 They further asserted that respondents extreme jealousy was also pathological. It reached the point
of paranoia since there was no actual basis for her to suspect that petitioner was having an affair with another
woman. They concluded based on the foregoing that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to perform her
essential marital obligations.23
In opposing the petition, respondent claimed that she performed her marital obligations by attending to all the needs
of her husband. She asserted that there was no truth to the allegation that she fabricated stories, told lies and
invented personalities.24 She presented her version, thus:
(1) She concealed her child by another man from petitioner because she was afraid of losing her husband. 25
(2) She told petitioner about Davids attempt to rape and kill her because she surmised such intent from Davids act
of touching her back and ogling her from head to foot.26
(3) She was actually a BS Banking and Finance graduate and had been teaching psychology at the Pasig Catholic
School for two (2) years.27
(4) She was a free-lance voice talent of Aris de las Alas, an executive producer of Channel 9 and she had done
three (3) commercials with McCann Erickson for the advertisement of Coca-cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Traders
Royal Bank. She told petitioner she was a Blackgold recording artist although she was not under contract with the
company, yet she reported to the Blackgold office after office hours. She claimed that a luncheon show was indeed
held in her honor at the Philippine Village Hotel on 8 December 1979.28
(5) She vowed that the letters sent to petitioner were not written by her and the writers thereof were not fictitious.
Bea Marquez Recto of the Recto political clan was a resident of the United States while Babes Santos was
employed with Saniwares.29
(6) She admitted that she called up an officemate of her husband but averred that she merely asked the latter in a
diplomatic matter if she was the one asking for chocolates from petitioner, and not to monitor her husbands
whereabouts.30
(7) She belied the allegation that she spent lavishly as she supported almost ten people from her monthly budget of
P7,000.00.31

In fine, respondent argued that apart from her non-disclosure of a child prior to their marriage, the other lies
attributed to her by petitioner were mostly hearsay and unconvincing. Her stance was that the totality of the
evidence presented is not sufficient for a finding of psychological incapacity on her part. 32
In addition, respondent presented Dr. Antonio Efren Reyes (Dr. Reyes), a psychiatrist, to refute the allegations anent
her psychological condition. Dr. Reyes testified that the series of tests conducted by his assistant, 33 together with the
screening procedures and the Comprehensive Psycho-Pathological Rating Scale (CPRS) he himself conducted, led
him to conclude that respondent was not psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential marital obligations.
He postulated that regressive behavior, gross neuroticism, psychotic tendencies, and poor control of impulses,
which are signs that might point to the presence of disabling trends, were not elicited from respondent. 34
In rebuttal, Dr. Lopez asseverated that there were flaws in the evaluation conducted by Dr. Reyes as (i) he was not
the one who administered and interpreted respondents psychological evaluation, and (ii) he made use of only one
instrument called CPRS which was not reliable because a good liar can fake the results of such test. 35
After trial, the lower court gave credence to petitioners evidence and held that respondents propensity to lying
about almost anythingher occupation, state of health, singing abilities and her income, among othershad been
duly established. According to the trial court, respondents fantastic ability to invent and fabricate stories and
personalities enabled her to live in a world of make-believe. This made her psychologically incapacitated as it
rendered her incapable of giving meaning and significance to her marriage. 36 The trial court thus declared the
marriage between petitioner and respondent null and void.
Shortly before the trial court rendered its decision, the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Manila annulled
the Catholic marriage of the parties, on the ground of lack of due discretion on the part of the parties. 37 During the
pendency of the appeal before the Court of Appeals, the Metropolitan Tribunals ruling was affirmed with
modification by both the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal, which held instead that only respondent was
impaired by a lack of due discretion.38 Subsequently, the decision of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal was
upheld by the Roman Rota of the Vatican.39
Petitioner duly alerted the Court of Appeals of these rulings by the Catholic tribunals. Still, the appellate court
reversed the RTCs judgment. While conceding that respondent may not have been completely honest with
petitioner, the Court of Appeals nevertheless held that the totality of the evidence presented was insufficient to
establish respondents psychological incapacity. It declared that the requirements in the case of Republic v. Court of
Appeals40 governing the application and interpretation of psychological incapacity had not been satisfied.
Taking exception to the appellate courts pronouncement, petitioner elevated the case to this Court. He contends
herein that the evidence conclusively establish respondents psychological incapacity.
In considering the merit of this petition, the Court is heavily influenced by the credence accorded by the RTC to the
factual allegations of petitioner.41 It is a settled principle of civil procedure that the conclusions of the trial court
regarding the credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect from the appellate courts because the trial court
had an opportunity to observe the demeanor of witnesses while giving testimony which may indicate their candor or
lack thereof.42 The Court is likewise guided by the fact that the Court of Appeals did not dispute the veracity of the
evidence presented by petitioner. Instead, the appellate court concluded that such evidence was not sufficient to
establish the psychological incapacity of respondent. 43
Thus, the Court is impelled to accept the factual version of petitioner as the operative facts. Still, the crucial question
remains as to whether the state of facts as presented by petitioner sufficiently meets the standards set for the
declaration of nullity of a marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code. These standards were definitively laid down
in the Courts 1997 ruling in Republic v. Court of Appeals44 (also known as the Molina case45), and indeed the Court
of Appeals cited the Molina guidelines in reversing the RTC in the case at bar.46 Since Molina was decided in 1997,

the Supreme Court has yet to squarely affirm the declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family
Code.47 In fact, even before Molina was handed down, there was only one case, Chi Ming Tsoi v. Court of Appeals,48
wherein the Court definitively concluded that a spouse was psychologically incapacitated under Article 36.
This state of jurisprudential affairs may have led to the misperception that the remedy afforded by Article 36 of the
Family Code is hollow, insofar as the Supreme Court is concerned.49 Yet what Molina and the succeeding cases did
ordain was a set of guidelines which, while undoubtedly onerous on the petitioner seeking the declaration of nullity,
still leave room for a decree of nullity under the proper circumstances. Molina did not foreclose the grant of a decree
of nullity under Article 36, even as it raised the bar for its allowance.
Legal Guides to Understanding Article 36
Article 36 of the Family Code states that "[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." 50 The concept of psychological incapacity as
a ground for nullity of marriage is novel in our body of laws, although mental incapacity has long been recognized as
a ground for the dissolution of a marriage.
The Spanish Civil Code of 1889 prohibited from contracting marriage persons "who are not in the full enjoyment of
their reason at the time of contracting marriage."51 Marriages with such persons were ordained as void,52 in the same
class as marriages with underage parties and persons already married, among others. A partys mental capacity
was not a ground for divorce under the Divorce Law of 1917,53 but a marriage where "either party was of unsound
mind" at the time of its celebration was cited as an "annullable marriage" under the Marriage Law of 1929. 54 Divorce
on the ground of a spouses incurable insanity was permitted under the divorce law enacted during the Japanese
occupation.55 Upon the enactment of the Civil Code in 1950, a marriage contracted by a party of "unsound mind"
was classified under Article 85 of the Civil Code as a voidable marriage. 56 The mental capacity, or lack thereof, of the
marrying spouse was not among the grounds for declaring a marriage void ab initio.57 Similarly, among the
marriages classified as voidable under Article 45 (2) of the Family Code is one contracted by a party of unsound
mind.58
Such cause for the annulment of marriage is recognized as a vice of consent, just like insanity impinges on consent
freely given which is one of the essential requisites of a contract.59 The initial common consensus on psychological
incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code was that it did not constitute a specie of vice of consent. Justices
Sempio-Diy and Caguioa, both members of the Family Code revision committee that drafted the Code, have opined
that psychological incapacity is not a vice of consent, and conceded that the spouse may have given free and
voluntary consent to a marriage but was nonetheless incapable of fulfilling such rights and obligations. 60 Dr.
Tolentino likewise stated in the 1990 edition of his commentaries on the Family Code that this "psychological
incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations does not affect the consent to the marriage." 61
There were initial criticisms of this original understanding of Article 36 as phrased by the Family Code committee.
Tolentino opined that "psychologically incapacity to comply would not be
juridically different from physical incapacity of consummating the marriage, which makes the marriage only voidable
under Article 45 (5) of the Civil Code x x x [and thus] should have been a cause for annulment of the marriage
only."62 At the same time, Tolentino noted "[it] would be different if it were psychological incapacity to understand the
essential marital obligations, because then this would amount to lack of consent to the marriage." 63 These concerns
though were answered, beginning with Santos v. Court of Appeals,64 wherein the Court, through Justice Vitug,
acknowledged that "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."65

The notion that psychological incapacity pertains to the inability to understand the obligations of marriage, as
opposed to a mere inability to comply with them, was further affirmed in the Molina66 case. Therein, the Court,
through then Justice (now Chief Justice) Panganiban observed that "[t]he evidence [to establish psychological
incapacity] must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such extent
that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid
assumption thereto."67 Jurisprudence since then has recognized that psychological incapacity "is a malady so grave
and permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is
about to assume."68
It might seem that this present understanding of psychological incapacity deviates from the literal wording of Article
36, with its central phase reading "psychologically incapacitated to comply
with the essential marital obligations of marriage."69 At the same time, it has been consistently recognized by this
Court that the intent of the Family Code committee was to design the law as to allow some resiliency in its
application, by avoiding specific examples that would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle of
ejusdem generis. Rather, the preference of the revision committee was for "the judge to interpret the provision on a
case-to-case basis, guided by experience, in 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." 70
We likewise observed in Republic v. Dagdag:71
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 of a
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.72
The Court thus acknowledges that the definition of psychological incapacity, as intended by the revision committee,
was not cast in intractable specifics. Judicial understanding of psychological incapacity may be informed by evolving
standards, taking into account the particulars of each case, current trends in psychological and even canonical
thought, and experience. It is under the auspices of the deliberate ambiguity of the framers that the Court has
developed the Molina rules, which have been consistently applied since 1997. Molina has proven indubitably useful
in providing a unitary framework that guides courts in adjudicating petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36.
At the same time, the Molina guidelines are not set in stone, the clear legislative intent mandating a case-to-case
perception of each situation, and Molina itself arising from this evolutionary understanding of Article 36. There is no
cause to disavow Molina at present, and indeed the disposition of this case shall rely primarily on that precedent.
There is need though to emphasize other perspectives as well which should govern the disposition of petitions for
declaration of nullity under Article 36.
Of particular notice has been the citation of the Court, first in Santos then in Molina, of the considered opinion of
canon law experts in the interpretation of psychological incapacity. This is but unavoidable, considering that the
Family Code committee had bluntly acknowledged that the concept of psychological incapacity was derived from
canon law,73 and as one member admitted, enacted as a solution to the problem of marriages already annulled by
the Catholic Church but still existent under civil law.74 It would be disingenuous to disregard the influence of Catholic
Church doctrine in the formulation and subsequent understanding of Article 36, and the Court has expressly
acknowledged that interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the local Church, while not
controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. 75 Still, it must be emphasized that the Catholic
Church is hardly the sole source of influence in the interpretation of Article 36. Even though the concept may have

been derived from canon law, its incorporation into the Family Code and subsequent judicial interpretation occurred
in wholly secular progression. Indeed, while Church thought on psychological incapacity is merely persuasive on the
trial courts, judicial decisions of this Court interpreting psychological incapacity are binding on lower courts. 76
Now is also opportune time to comment on another common legal guide utilized in the adjudication of petitions for
declaration of nullity under Article 36. All too frequently, this Court and lower courts, in denying petitions of the kind,
have favorably cited Sections 1 and 2, Article XV of the Constitution, which respectively state that "[t]he State
recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and
actively promote its total developmen[t]," and that "[m]arriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of
the family and shall be protected by the State." These provisions highlight the importance of the family and the
constitutional protection accorded to the institution of marriage.
But the Constitution itself does not establish the parameters of state protection to marriage as a social institution
and the foundation of the family. It remains the province of the legislature to define all legal aspects of marriage and
prescribe the strategy and the modalities to protect it, based on whatever socio-political influences it deems proper,
and subject of course to the qualification that such legislative enactment itself adheres to the Constitution and the
Bill of Rights. This being the case, it also falls on the legislature to put into operation the constitutional provisions
that protect marriage and the family. This has been accomplished at present through the enactment of the Family
Code, which defines marriage and the family, spells out the corresponding legal effects, imposes the limitations that
affect married and family life, as well as prescribes the grounds for declaration of nullity and those for legal
separation. While it may appear that the judicial denial of a petition for declaration of nullity is reflective of the
constitutional mandate to protect marriage, such action in fact merely enforces a statutory definition of marriage, not
a constitutionally ordained decree of what marriage is. Indeed, if circumstances warrant, Sections 1 and 2 of Article
XV need not be the only constitutional considerations to be taken into account in resolving a petition for declaration
of nullity.
Indeed, Article 36 of the Family Code, in classifying marriages contracted by a psychologically incapacitated person
as a nullity, should be deemed as an implement of this constitutional protection of marriage. Given the avowed State
interest in promoting marriage as the foundation of the family, which in turn serves as the foundation of the nation,
there is a corresponding interest for the State to defend against marriages ill-equipped to promote family life. Void
ab initio marriages under Article 36 do not further the initiatives of the State concerning marriage and family, as they
promote wedlock among persons who, for reasons independent of their will, are not capacitated to understand or
comply with the essential obligations of marriage.
These are the legal premises that inform us as we decide the present petition.
Molina Guidelines As Applied in This Case
As stated earlier, Molina established the guidelines presently recognized in the judicial disposition of petitions for
nullity under Article 36. The Court has consistently applied Molina since its promulgation in 1997, and the guidelines
therein operate as the general rules. They warrant citation in full:
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.
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 psychologicalnot 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 dos." 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. 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."
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 decisions of such appellate tribunal. Ideallysubject to our law on evidencewhat is decreed as canonically
invalid should also be decreed civilly void.77

Molina had provided for an additional requirement that the Solicitor General issue a certification stating his reasons
for his agreement or opposition to the petition.78 This requirement however was dispensed with following the
implementation of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, or the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and
Annulment of Voidable Marriages.79 Still, Article 48 of the Family Code mandates that the appearance of the
prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned be 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. Obviously, collusion is not an issue in this
case, considering the consistent vigorous opposition of respondent to the petition for declaration of nullity. In any
event, the fiscals participation in the hearings before the trial court is extant from the records of this case.
As earlier noted, the factual findings of the RTC are now deemed binding on this Court, owing to the great weight
accorded to the opinion of the primary trier of facts, and the refusal of the Court of Appeals to dispute the veracity of
these facts. As such, it must be considered that respondent had consistently lied about many material aspects as to
her character and personality. The question remains whether her pattern of fabrication sufficiently establishes her
psychological incapacity, consistent with Article 36 and generally, the Molina guidelines.
We find that the present case sufficiently satisfies the guidelines in Molina.
First. Petitioner had sufficiently overcome his burden in proving the psychological incapacity of his spouse. Apart
from his own testimony, he presented witnesses who corroborated his allegations on his wifes behavior, and
certifications from Blackgold Records and the Philippine Village Hotel Pavillon which disputed respondents claims
pertinent to her alleged singing career. He also presented two (2) expert witnesses from the field of psychology who
testified that the aberrant behavior of respondent was tantamount to psychological incapacity. In any event, both
courts below considered petitioners evidence as credible enough. Even the appellate court acknowledged that
respondent was not totally honest with petitioner.80
As in all civil matters, the petitioner in an action for declaration of nullity under Article 36 must be able to establish
the cause of action with a preponderance of evidence. However, since the action cannot be considered as a nonpublic matter between private parties, but is impressed with State interest, the Family Code likewise requires the
participation of the State, through the prosecuting attorney, fiscal, or Solicitor General, to take steps to prevent
collusion between the parties and to take care that evidence is not fabricated or suppressed. Thus, even if the
petitioner is able establish the psychological incapacity of respondent with preponderant evidence, any finding of
collusion among the parties would necessarily negate such proofs.
Second. The root cause of respondents psychological incapacity has been medically or clinically identified, alleged
in the complaint, sufficiently proven by experts, and clearly explained in the trial courts decision. The initiatory
complaint alleged that respondent, from the start, had exhibited unusual and abnormal behavior "of peren[n]ially
telling lies, fabricating ridiculous stories, and inventing personalities and situations," of writing letters to petitioner
using fictitious names, and of lying about her actual occupation, income, educational attainment, and family
background, among others.81
These allegations, initially characterized in generalities, were further linked to medical or clinical causes by expert
witnesses from the field of psychology. Petitioner presented two (2) such witnesses in particular. Dr. Abcede, a
psychiatrist who had headed the department of psychiatry of at least two (2) major hospitals, 82 testified as follows:
WITNESS:
Given that as a fact, which is only based on the affidavit provided to me, I can say that there are a couple of things
that [are] terribly wrong with the standards. There are a couple of things that seems (sic) to be repeated over and
over again in the affidavit. One of which is the persistent, constant and repeated lying of the "respondent"; which, I
think, based on assessment of normal behavior of an individual, is abnormal or pathological. x x x

ATTY. RAZ: (Back to the witness)


Q- Would you say then, Mr. witness, that because of these actuations of the respondent she is then incapable of
performing the basic obligations of her marriage?
A- Well, persistent lying violates the respect that one owes towards another. The lack of concern, the lack of love
towards the person, and it is also something that endangers human relationship. You see, relationship is based on
communication between individuals and what we generally communicate are our thoughts and feelings. But then
when one talks and expresse[s] their feelings, [you] are expected to tell the truth. And therefore, if you constantly lie,
what do you think is going to happen as far as this relationship is concerned. Therefore, it undermines that basic
relationship that should be based on love, trust and respect.
Q- Would you say then, Mr. witness, that due to the behavior of the respondent in constantly lying and fabricating
stories, she is then incapable of performing the basic obligations of the marriage?
xxx
ATTY. RAZ: (Back to the witness)
Q- Mr. witness, based on the testimony of Mr. Levy Mendoza, who is the third witness for the petitioner, testified that
the respondent has been calling up the petitioners officemates and ask him (sic) on the activities of the petitioner
and ask him on the behavior of the petitioner. And this is specifically stated on page six (6) of the transcript of
stenographic notes, what can you say about this, Mr. witness?
A- If an individual is jealous enough to the point that he is paranoid, which means that there is no actual basis on
her suspect (sic) that her husband is having an affair with a woman, if carried on to the extreme, then that is
pathological. That is not abnormal. We all feel jealous, in the same way as we also lie every now and then; but
everything that is carried out in extreme is abnormal or pathological. If there is no basis in reality to the fact that the
husband is having an affair with another woman and if she persistently believes that the husband is having an affair
with different women, then that is pathological and we call that paranoid jealousy.
Q- Now, if a person is in paranoid jealousy, would she be considered psychologically incapacitated to perform the
basic obligations of the marriage?
A- Yes, Maam.83
The other witness, Dr. Lopez, was presented to establish not only the psychological incapacity of respondent, but
also the psychological capacity of petitioner. He concluded that respondent "is [a] pathological liar, that [she
continues] to lie [and] she loves to fabricate about herself."84
These two witnesses based their conclusions of psychological incapacity on the case record, particularly the trial
transcripts of respondents testimony, as well as the supporting affidavits of petitioner. While these witnesses did not
personally examine respondent, the Court had already held in Marcos v. Marcos85 that personal examination of the
subject by the physician is not required for the spouse to be declared psychologically incapacitated. 86 We deem the
methodology utilized by petitioners witnesses as sufficient basis for their medical conclusions. Admittedly, Drs.
Abcede and Lopezs common conclusion of respondents psychological incapacity hinged heavily on their own
acceptance of petitioners version as the true set of facts. However, since the trial court itself accepted the veracity
of petitioners factual premises, there is no cause to dispute the conclusion of psychological incapacity drawn
therefrom by petitioners expert witnesses.

Also, with the totality of the evidence presented as basis, the trial court explicated its finding of psychological
incapacity in its decision in this wise:
To the mind of the Court, all of the above are indications that respondent is psychologically incapacitated to perform
the essential obligations of marriage. It has been shown clearly from her actuations that respondent has that
propensity for telling lies about almost anything, be it her occupation, her state of health, her singing abilities, her
income, etc. She has this fantastic ability to invent and fabricate stories and personalities. She practically lived in a
world of make believe making her therefore not in a position to give meaning and significance to her marriage to
petitioner. In persistently and constantly lying to petitioner, respondent undermined the basic tenets of relationship
between spouses that is based on love, trust and respect. As concluded by the psychiatrist presented by petitioner,
such repeated lying is abnormal and pathological and amounts to psychological incapacity.87
Third. Respondents psychological incapacity was established to have clearly existed at the time of and even before
the celebration of marriage. She fabricated friends and made up letters from fictitious characters well before she
married petitioner. Likewise, she kept petitioner in the dark about her natural childs real parentage as she only
confessed when the latter had found out the truth after their marriage.
Fourth. The gravity of respondents psychological incapacity is sufficient to prove her disability to assume the
essential obligations of marriage. It is immediately discernible that the parties had shared only a little over a year of
cohabitation before the exasperated petitioner left his wife. Whatever such circumstance speaks of the degree of
tolerance of petitioner, it likewise supports the belief that respondents psychological incapacity, as borne by the
record, was so grave in extent that any prolonged marital life was dubitable.
It should be noted that the lies attributed to respondent were not adopted as false pretenses in order to induce
petitioner into marriage. More disturbingly, they indicate a failure on the part of respondent to distinguish truth from
fiction, or at least abide by the truth. Petitioners witnesses and the trial court were emphatic on respondents
inveterate proclivity to telling lies and the pathologic nature of her mistruths, which according to them, were
revelatory of respondents inability to understand and perform the essential obligations of marriage. Indeed, a
person unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality would similarly be unable to comprehend the legal nature
of the marital bond, much less its psychic meaning, and the corresponding obligations attached to marriage,
including parenting. One unable to adhere to reality cannot be expected to adhere as well to any legal or emotional
commitments.
The Court of Appeals somehow concluded that since respondent allegedly tried her best to effect a reconciliation,
she had amply exhibited her ability to perform her marital obligations. We are not convinced. Given the nature of her
psychological condition, her willingness to remain in the marriage hardly banishes nay extenuates her lack of
capacity to fulfill the essential marital obligations. Respondents ability to even comprehend what the essential
marital obligations are is impaired at best. Considering that the evidence convincingly disputes respondents ability
to adhere to the truth, her avowals as to her commitment to the marriage cannot be accorded much credence.
At this point, it is worth considering Article 45(3) of the Family Code which states that a marriage may be annulled if
the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, and Article 46 which enumerates the circumstances constituting
fraud under the previous article, clarifies that "no other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank,
fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage." It would
be improper to draw linkages between misrepresentations made by respondent and the misrepresentations under
Articles 45 (3) and 46. The fraud under Article 45(3) vitiates the consent of the spouse who is lied to, and does not
allude to vitiated consent of the lying spouse. In this case, the misrepresentations of respondent point to her own
inadequacy to cope with her marital obligations, kindred to psychological incapacity under Article 36.
Fifth. Respondent is evidently unable to comply with the essential marital obligations as embraced by Articles 68 to
71 of the Family Code. Article 68, in particular, enjoins the spouses to live together, observe mutual love, respect

and fidelity, and render mutual help and support. As noted by the trial court, it is difficult to see how an inveterate
pathological liar would be able to commit to the basic tenets of relationship between spouses based on love, trust
and respect.
Sixth. The Court of Appeals clearly erred when it failed to take into consideration the fact that the marriage of the
parties was annulled by the Catholic Church. The appellate court apparently deemed this detail totally
inconsequential as no reference was made to it anywhere in the assailed decision despite petitioners efforts to
bring the matter to its attention.88 Such deliberate ignorance is in contravention of Molina, which held that
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.
As noted earlier, the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Manila decreed the invalidity of the marriage in
question in a Conclusion89 dated 30 March 1995, citing the "lack of due discretion" on the part of respondent. 90 Such
decree of nullity was affirmed by both the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal, 91 and the Roman Rota of the
Vatican.92 In fact, respondents psychological incapacity was considered so grave that a restrictive clause 93 was
appended to the sentence of nullity prohibiting respondent from contracting another marriage without the Tribunals
consent.
In its Decision dated 4 June 1995, the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal pronounced:
The JURISRPRUDENCE in the Case maintains that matrimonial consent is considered ontologically defective and
wherefore judicially ineffective when elicited by a Part Contractant in possession and employ of a discretionary
judgment faculty with a perceptive vigor markedly inadequate for the practical understanding of the conjugal
Covenant or serious impaired from the correct appreciation of the integral significance and implications of the
marriage vows.
The FACTS in the Case sufficiently prove with the certitude required by law that based on the depositions of the
Partes in Causa and premised on the testimonies of the Common and Expert Witnesse[s], the Respondent made
the marriage option in tenure of adverse personality constracts that were markedly antithetical to the
substantive content and implications of the Marriage Covenant, and that seriously undermined the
integrality of her matrimonial consent in terms of its deliberative component. In other words, afflicted with a
discretionary faculty impaired in its practico-concrete judgment formation on account of an adverse action
and reaction pattern, the Respondent was impaired from eliciting a judicially binding matrimonial consent.
There is no sufficient evidence in the Case however to prove as well the fact of grave lack of due discretion on the
part of the Petitioner.94
Evidently, the conclusion of psychological incapacity was arrived at not only by the trial court, but also by canonical
bodies. Yet, we must clarify the proper import of the Church rulings annulling the marriage in this case. They hold
sway since they are drawn from a similar recognition, as the trial court, of the veracity of petitioners allegations. Had
the trial court instead appreciated respondents version as correct, and the appellate court affirmed such conclusion,
the rulings of the Catholic Church on this matter would have diminished persuasive value. After all, it is the factual
findings of the judicial trier of facts, and not that of the canonical courts, that are accorded significant recognition by
this Court.
Seventh. The final point of contention is the requirement in Molina that such psychological incapacity be shown to
be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. It was on this score that the Court of Appeals reversed the
judgment of the trial court, the appellate court noting that it did not appear certain that respondents condition was
incurable and that Dr. Abcede did not testify to such effect.95
Petitioner points out that one month after he and his wife initially separated, he returned to her, desiring to make
their marriage work. However, respondents aberrant behavior remained unchanged, as she continued to lie,

fabricate stories, and maintained her excessive jealousy. From this fact, he draws the conclusion that respondents
condition is incurable.
From the totality of the evidence, can it be definitively concluded that respondents condition is incurable? It would
seem, at least, that respondents psychosis is quite grave, and a cure thereof a remarkable feat. Certainly, it would
have been easier had petitioners expert witnesses characterized respondents condition as incurable. Instead, they
remained silent on whether the psychological incapacity was curable or incurable.
But on careful examination, there was good reason for the experts taciturnity on this point.
The petitioners expert witnesses testified in 1994 and 1995, and the trial court rendered its decision on 10 August
1995. These events transpired well before Molina was promulgated in 1997 and made explicit the requirement that
the psychological incapacity must be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such requirement
was not expressly stated in Article 36 or any other provision of the Family Code.
On the other hand, the Court in Santos, which was decided in January 1995, began its discussion by first citing the
deliberations of the Family Code committee,96 then the opinion of canonical scholars,97 before arriving at its
formulation of the doctrinal definition of psychological incapacity.98 Santos did refer to Justice Caguioas opinion
expressed during the deliberations that "psychological incapacity is incurable," 99 and the view of a former presiding
judge of the Metropolitan Marriage Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Manila that psychological incapacity must be
characterized "by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability." 100 However, in formulating the doctrinal
rule on psychological incapacity, the Court in Santos omitted any reference to incurability as a characteristic of
psychological incapacity.101
This disquisition is material as Santos was decided months before the trial court came out with its own ruling that
remained silent on whether respondents psychological incapacity was incurable. Certainly, Santos did not clearly
mandate that the incurability of the psychological incapacity be established in an action for declaration of nullity. At
least, there was no jurisprudential clarity at the time of the trial of this case and the subsequent promulgation of the
trial courts decision that required a medical finding of incurability. Such requisite arose only with Molina in 1997, at a
time when this case was on appellate review, or after the reception of evidence.
We are aware that in Pesca v. Pesca,102 the Court countered an argument that Molina and Santos should not apply
retroactively
with the observation that the interpretation or construction placed by the courts of a law constitutes a part of that law
as of the date the statute in enacted.103 Yet we approach this present case from utterly practical considerations. The
requirement that psychological incapacity must be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable is one
that necessarily cannot be divined without expert opinion. Clearly in this case, there was no categorical averment
from the expert witnesses that respondents psychological incapacity was curable or incurable simply because there
was no legal necessity yet to elicit such a declaration and the appropriate question was not accordingly propounded
to him. If we apply Pesca without deep reflection, there would be undue prejudice to those cases tried before Molina
or Santos, especially those presently on appellate review, where presumably the respective petitioners and their
expert witnesses would not have seen the need to adduce a diagnosis of incurability. It may hold in those cases, as
in this case, that the psychological incapacity of a spouse is actually incurable, even if not pronounced as such at
the trial court level.
We stated earlier that Molina is not set in stone, and that the interpretation of Article 36 relies heavily on a case-tocase perception. It would be insensate to reason to mandate in this case an expert medical or clinical diagnosis of
incurability, since the parties would have had no impelling cause to present evidence to that effect at the time this
case was tried by the RTC more than ten (10) years ago. From the totality of the evidence, we are sufficiently
convinced that the incurability of respondents psychological incapacity has been established by the petitioner. Any

lingering doubts are further dispelled by the fact that the Catholic Church tribunals, which indubitably consider
incurability as an integral requisite of psychological incapacity, were sufficiently convinced that respondent was so
incapacitated to contract marriage to the degree that annulment was warranted.
All told, we conclude that petitioner has established his cause of action for declaration of nullity under Article 36 of
the Family Code. The RTC correctly ruled, and the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the trial court.
There is little relish in deciding this present petition, pronouncing as it does the marital bond as having been
inexistent in the first place. It is possible that respondent, despite her psychological state, remains in love with
petitioner, as exhibited by her persistent challenge to the petition for nullity. In fact, the appellate court placed undue
emphasis on respondents avowed commitment to remain in the marriage. Yet the Court decides these cases on
legal reasons and not vapid sentimentality. Marriage, in legal contemplation, is more than the legitimatization of a
desire of people in love to live together.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the RTC dated 10 August 1995, declaring the marriage
between petitioner and respondent NULL and VOID under Article 36 of the Family Code, is REINSTATED. No costs.
JOCELYN
M.
SUAZO,
vs.
ANGELITO SUAZO and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

Petitioner,

DECISION
BRION, J.:
We resolve the appeal filed by petitioner Jocelyn Suazo (Jocelyn) from the July 14, 2004 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA)1 in CAG.R. CV No. 62443, which reversed the January 29, 1999 judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 119, Pasay City in Civil
Case No. 97-1282.2 The reversed RTC decision nullified Jocelyns marriage with respondent Angelito Suazo (Angelito) on the ground of
psychological incapacity.
THE FACTS
Jocelyn and Angelito were 16 years old when they first met in June 1985; they were residents of Laguna at that time. After months of
courtship, Jocelyn went to Manila with Angelito and some friends. Having been gone for three days, their parents sought Jocelyn and
Angelito and after finding them, brought them back to Bian, Laguna. Soon thereafter, Jocelyn and Angelitos marriage was arranged
and they were married on March 3, 1986 in a ceremony officiated by the Mayor of Bian.
Without any means to support themselves, Jocelyn and Angelito lived with Angelitos parents after their marriage. They had by this time
stopped schooling. Jocelyn took odd jobs and worked for Angelitos relatives as household help. Angelito, on the other hand, refused to
work and was most of the time drunk. Jocelyn urged Angelito to find work and violent quarrels often resulted because of Jocelyns
efforts.
Jocelyn left Angelito sometime in July 1987. Angelito thereafter found another woman with whom he has since lived. They now have
children.
Ten years after their separation, or on October 8, 1997, Jocelyn filed with the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage under
Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended. She claimed that Angelito was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
obligations of marriage. In addition to the above historical narrative of their relationship, she alleged in her complaint:
xxxx
8. That from the time of their marriage up to their separation in July 1987, their relationship had been marred with bitter quarrels which
caused unbearable physical and emotional pains on the part of the plaintiff because defendant inflicted physical injuries upon her every
time they had a troublesome encounter;

9. That the main reason for their quarrel was always the refusal of the defendant to work or his indolence and his excessive drinking
which makes him psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations making life unbearably bitter and intolerable to the
plaintiff causing their separation in fact in July 1987;
10. That such psychological incapacity of the defendant started from the time of their marriage and became very apparent as time went
and proves to be continuous, permanent and incurable;
xxxx
Angelito did not answer the petition/complaint. Neither did he submit himself to a psychological examination with psychologist Nedy
Tayag (who was presumably hired by Jocelyn).
The case proceeded to trial on the merits after the trial court found that no collusion existed between the parties. Jocelyn, her aunt
Maryjane Serrano, and the psychologist testified at the trial.
In her testimony, Jocelyn essentially repeated the allegations in her petition, including the alleged incidents of physical beating she
received from Angelito. On cross-examination, she remained firm on these declarations but significantly declared that Angelito had not
treated her violently before they were married.
Asst. Sol. Gen. Kim Briguera:
Q. Can you describe your relationship with the respondent before you got married?
A. He always go (sic) to our house to court me.
Q. Since you cited violence, after celebration of marriage, will you describe his behavioural (sic) pattern before you got
married?
A. He show (sic) kindness, he always come (sic) to the house.
Q. So you cannot say his behavioral pattern composing of violent nature before you got married (sic), is there any signs (sic)
of violence?
A. None maam (sic), because we were not sweethearts.
Q. Even to other people?
A. He also quarrel (sic).3
Maryjane Serrano corroborated parts of Jocelyns testimony.
When the psychologist took the witness stand, she declared:
Q. What about the respondent, did you also make clinical interpretation of his behavior?
A. Apparently, the behavior and actuation of the respondent during the time of the marriage the respondent is suffering from
anti-social personality Disorder this is a serious and severe apparently incurable (sic). This disorder is chronic and longstanding before the marriage.
Q. And you based your interpretation on the report given by the petitioner?
A. Based on the psychological examination wherein there is no pattern of lying when I examined her, the petitioner was found
to be very responsive, coherent, relevant to marital relationship with respondent.
Q. And the last page of Exhibit "E" which is your report there is a statement rather on the last page, last paragraph which state:
It is the clinical opinion of the undersigned that marriage between the two, had already hit bottom rock (sic) even before the

actual celebration of marriage. Respondent(s) immature, irresponsible and callous emotionality practically harbors (sic) the
possibility of having blissful relationship. His general behavior fulfill(s) the diagnostic criteria for a person suffering from Anti
Social Personality Disorder. Such disorder is serious and severe and it interferred (sic) in his capacity to provide love, caring,
concern and responsibility to his family. The disorder is chronic and long-standing in proportion and appear(s) incurable. The
disorder was present at the time of the wedding and became manifest thereafter due to stresses and pressure of married life.
He apparently grew up in a dysfunctional family. Could you explain what does chronic mean?
A. Chronic is a clinical language which means incurable it has been there long before he entered marriage apparently, it came
during early developmental (sic) Basic trust was not develop (sic).
Q. And this long standing proportion (sic).
A. That no amount of psychological behavioral help to cure such because psychological disorder are not detrimental to men
but to others particularly and this (sic) because the person who have this kind of disorder do not know that they have this kind
of disorder.
Q. So in other words, permanent?
A. Permanent and incurable.
Q. You also said that this psychological disorder is present during the wedding or at the time of the wedding or became
manifest thereafter?
A. Yes, maam."
xxxx
Court:
Q. Is there a clinical findings (sic)?
A. That is the clinical findings. Personality Disorder labeled on Anti-Social Personality Disorder (sic).
Q. How was shown during the marriage (sic)?
A. The physical abuses on the petitioner also correlated without any employment exploitative and silent (sic) on the part of the
respondent is clearly Anti-Social Disorder.
Q. Do the respondent know that he has that kind of psychological disorder (sic)?
A. Usually a person suffering that psychological disorder will not admit that they are suffering that kind of disorder (sic).
Court:
Q. So because of this Anti-Social Disorder the petitioner suffers a lot (sic)?
A. Yes, because the petitioner is a victim of hardships of marital relation to the respondent (sic).
Court:
Q. Was the Anti-Social Personality Disorder also shown to the parents (sic)?
A. Yes, according to the petitioner, respondent never give due respect more often than not he even shouted at them for no
apparent reason (sic).
Court:

Q. Did you say Anti-Social Disorder incurable (sic)?


A. Yes, sir.
Court:
Q. Is there a physical violence (sic)?
A. Actually, I could see the petitioner is tortured mentally of the respondent (sic).
Court:
Q. How was the petitioner tortured?
A. She was able to counter-act by the time she was separated by the respondent (sic).
Court:
Q. Do you mean to tell us that Anti-Social disorder is incurable?
A. Yes, sir.
Court:
Q. Why did you know?
A. Anti-Social disorder is incurable again because the person itself, the respondent is not aware that this kind of personality
affect the other party (sic).
Court:
Q. This Anti-Social behavior is naturally affected the petitioner (sic)?
A. They do not have children because more often than not the respondent is under the influence of alcohol, they do not have
peaceful harmonious relationship during the less than one year and one thing what is significant, respondent allowed wife to
work as housemaid instead of he who should provide and the petitioner never receive and enjoy her earning for the five
months that she work and it is also the petitioner who took sustainance of the vices. (sic)
Q. And because of that Anti-Social disorder he had not shown love to the petitioner?
A. From the very start the respondent has no emotion to sustain the marital relationship but what he need is to sustain his
vices thru the petitioner (sic).
Court:
Q. What are the vices?
A. Alcohol and gambling.
Court:
Q. And this affected psychological incapacity to perform marital obligation?
A. Not only that up to this time from my clinical analysis of Anti-Social Personality Disorder, he is good for nothing person.4
The psychologist also identified the Psychological Report she prepared. The Report pertinently states:5

Report on the psychological condition of JOCELYN M. SUAZO, a petitioner for "Nullity of Marriage" versus ANGELITO D. SUAZO
GENERAL DATA
[This pertains to Jocelyns]
BRIEF MARITAL HISTORY
xxxx
Husband is Angelito D. Suazo, 28 years old reached 3rd year high school, a part time tricycle driver, eldest among 4 siblings. Father is
a machine operator, described to be an alcoholic, womanizer and a heavy gambler. While mother is a sales agent. It was a common
knowledge within their vicinity that she was also involved in an illicit relationship. Familial relationship was described to be stormy,
chaotic whose bickering and squabbles were part and parcel of their day to day living.
TEST RESULTS AND EVALUATION
Projective data reveal an introvert person whose impulse life is adequately suppressed so much so that it does not create inner tension
and anxiety. She is fully equipped in terms of drives and motivation particularly in uplifting not, only her socio-emotional image but was
as her morale. She may be sensitive yet capable of containing the effect of such sensitiveness; in order to remain in goodstead (sic)
with her immediate environment.
She is pictured as a hard-working man (sic) who looks forward for a better future in spite of difficulties she had gone through in the past.
She is fully aware of external realities of life that she set simple life goals which is ( sic) commensurate with her capabilities and
limitations. However, she needs to prioritize her interest in order to direct her energy toward specific goals. Her tolerance for frustration
appears to be at par with her coping mechanism that she is able to discharge negative trends appropriately.
REMARKS :
[Already cited in full in the psychologists testimony quoted above]6
The Office of the Solicitor General representing the Republic of the Philippines strongly opposed the petition for declaration of nullity
of the marriage. Through a Certification filed with the RTC, it argued that the psychologist failed to examine and test Angelito; thus,
what she said about him was purely hearsay.
THE RTC RULING
The RTC annulled the marriage under the following reasoning:
While there is no particular instance setforth (sic) in the law that a person may be considered as psychologically incapacitated, there as
(sic) some admitted grounds that would render a person to be unfit to comply with his marital obligation, such as "immaturity, i.e., lack
of an effective sense of rational judgment and responsibility, otherwise peculiar to infants (like refusal of the husband to support the
family or excessive dependence on parents or peer group approval) and habitual alcoholism, or the condition by which a person lives
for the next drink and the next drinks" (The Family Code of the Phils, Alicia Sempio-Diy, p.39, 1988 ed.)
The evidence presented by the petitioner and the testimony of the petitioner and Dr. Tayag, points (sic) to one thing that the petitioner
failed to establish a harmonious family life with the respondent. On the contrary, the respondent has not shown love and respect to the
petitioner manifested by the formers being irresponsible, immature, jobless, gambler, drunkard and worst of all a wife beater. The
petitioner, unable to bear any longer the misbehavior and attitude of the respondent, decided, after one year and four months of messy
days, to leave the respondent.
In this regard, the petitioner was able to prove that right from the start of her married life with the respondent, she already suffered from
maltreatment, due to physical injuries inflicted upon her and that she was the one who worked as a housemaid of a relative of her
husband to sustain the latters niece (sic) and because they were living with her husbands family, she was obliged to do the household
chores an indication that she is a battered wife coupled with the fact that she served as a servant in his (sic) husbands family.

This situation that the petitioner had underwent may be attributed to the fact that at the time of their marriage, she and her husband are
still young and was forced only to said marriage by her relatives. The petitioner and the respondent had never developed the feeling of
love and respect, instead, the respondent blamed the petitioners family for said early marriage and not to his own liking.
Applying the principles and the requisites of psychological incapacity enunciated by this Court in Santos v. Court of Appeals, 7 the RTC
concluded:
The above findings of the psychologist [referring to the psychologist testimony quoted above] would only tend to show that the
respondent was, indeed, suffering from psychological incapacity which is not only grave but also incurable.
Likewise, applying the principles set forth in the case of Republic vs. Court of Appeals and Molina, 268 SCRA 198, wherein the
Supreme Court held that:
x x x x [At this point, the RTC cited the pertinent Molina ruling]
The Court is satisfied that the evidence presented and the testimony of the petitioner and Dr. Familiar (sic) [the psychologist who
testified in this case was Nedy Tayag, not a Dr. Familiar] attesting that there is psychological incapacity on the part of the respondent to
comply with the essential marital obligations has been sufficiently and clearly proven and, therefore, petitioner is entitled to the relief
prayed for.
A claim that the marriage is valid as there is no psychological incapacity of the respondent is a speculation and conjecture and without
moral certainty. This will enhanced (sic) a greater tragedy as the battered wife/petitioner will still be using the surname of the
respondent, although they are now separated, and a grim and sad reminder of her husband who made here a slave and a punching
bag during the short span of her marriage with him. The law on annulment should be liberally construed in favor of an innocent suffering
petitioner otherwise said law will be an instrument to protect persons with mental illness like the serious anti-social behavior of herein
respondent.8
THE CA RULING
The Republic appealed the RTC decision to the CA. The CA reversed the RTC decision, ruling that:
True, as stated in Marcos vs Marcos 343 SCRA 755, the guidelines set in Santos vs Court of Appeals and Republic vs Court of Appeals
do not require that a physician personally examine the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated. The Supreme Court
adopted the totality of evidence approach which allows the fact of psychological incapacity to be drawn from evidence that medically or
clinically identify the root causes of the illness. If the totality of the evidence is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity,
then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to. Applied in Marcos, however, the aggregate
testimony of the aggrieved spouse, children, relatives and the social worker were not found to be sufficient to prove psychological
incapacity, in the absence of any evaluation of the respondent himself, the person whose mental and psychological capacity was in
question.
In the case at bench, there is much scarcer evidence to hold that the respondent was psychologically incapable of entering into the
marriage state, that is, to assume the essential duties of marriage due to an underlying psychological illness. Only the wife gave firsthand testimony on the behavior of the husband, and it is inconclusive. As observed by the Court in Marcos, the respondent may have
failed to provide material support to the family and has resorted to physical abuse, but it is still necessary to show that they were
manifestations of a deeper psychological malaise that was clinically or medically identified. The theory of the psychologist that the
respondent was suffering from an anti-social personality syndrome at the time of the marriage was not the product of any adequate
medical or clinical investigation. The evidence that she got from the petitioner, anecdotal at best, could equally show that the behavior
of the respondent was due simply to causes like immaturity or irresponsibility which are not equivalent to psychological incapacity,
Pesca vs Pesca 356 SCRA 588, or the failure or refusal to work could have been the result of rebelliousness on the part of one who felt
that he had been forced into a loveless marriage. In any event, the respondent was not under a permanent compulsion because he had
later on shown his ability to engage in productive work and more stable relationships with another. The element of permanence or
incurability that is one of the defining characteristic of psychological incapacity is not present.
There is no doubt that for the short period that they were under the same roof, the married life of the petitioner with the respondent was
an unhappy one. But the marriage cannot for this reason be extinguished. As the Supreme Court intimates in Pesca, our strict handling
of Article 36 will be a reminder of the inviolability of the marriage institution in our country and the foundation of the family that the law
seeks to protect. The concept of psychological incapacity is not to be a mantra to legalize what in reality are convenient excuses of
parties to separate and divorce.

THE PETITION
Jocelyn now comes to us via the present petition to challenge and seek the reversal of the CA ruling based on the following arguments:
1. The Court of Appeals went beyond what the law says, as it totally disregarded the legal basis of the RTC in declaring the
marriage null and void Tuason v. Tuason (256 SCRA 158; to be accurate, should be Tuason v. Court of Appeals) holds that
"the finding of the Trial Court as to the existence or non-existence of petitioners psychological incapacity at the time of the
marriage is final and binding on us (the Supreme Court); petitioner has not sufficiently shown that the trial courts factual
findings and evaluation of the testimonies of private respondents witnesses vis--vis petitioners defenses are clearly and
manifestly erroneous";
2. Article 36 of the Family Code did not define psychological incapacity; this omission was intentional to give the courts a wider
discretion to interpret the term without being shackled by statutory parameters. Article 36 though was taken from Canon 1095
of the New Code of Canon Law, which gives three conditions that would make a person unable to contract marriage from
mental incapacity as follows:
"1095. They are incapable of contracting marriage:
(1) who lack the sufficient use of reason;
(2) who suffer from grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning essential matrimonial rights and duties which are to be
mutually given and accepted;
(3) who are not capable of assuming the essential obligations of matrimony due to causes of a psychic nature."
The decision of the RTC, Jocelyn claims, intelligently conforms to these criteria. The RTC, being clothed with discretionary functions,
applied its finding of psychological incapacity based on existing jurisprudence and the law itself which gave lower court magistrates
enough latitude to define what constitutes psychological incapacity. On the contrary, she further claims, the OSG relied on generalities
without being specific on why it is opposed to the dissolution of a marriage that actually exists only in name.
Simply stated, we face the issue of whether there is basis to nullify Jocelyns marriage with Angelito under Article 36 of the Family
Code.
THE COURTS RULING
We find the petition devoid of merit. The CA committed no reversible error of law in setting aside the RTC decision, as no basis exists to
declare Jocelyns marriage with Angelito a nullity under Article 36 of the Family Code and its related jurisprudence.
The Law, Molina and Te
Article 36 of the Family Code provides that 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.
A unique feature of this law is its intended open-ended application, as it merely introduced an abstract concept psychological
incapacity that disables compliance with the contractual obligations of marriage without any concrete definition or, at the very least, an
illustrative example. We must therefore apply the law based on how the concept of psychological incapacity was shaped and developed
in jurisprudence.
Santos v. Court of Appeals9 declared that psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity; (b) juridical antecedence; and
(c) incurability. It 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." It must be confined to "the most
serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the
marriage."10
The Court laid down more definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of the law in Republic v. Court of Appeals 11 (Molina)
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.
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. x x x
(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 noncomplied 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
vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.12
Molina, subsequent jurisprudence holds, merely expounded on the basic requirements of Santos.13
A later case, Marcos v. Marcos,14 further clarified that there is no requirement that the defendant/respondent spouse should be
personally examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity of marriage based on
psychological incapacity. Accordingly, it is no longer necessary to introduce expert opinion in a petition under Article 36 of the Family
Code if the totality of evidence shows that psychological incapacity exists and its gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability can be
duly established.15
Pesca v. Pesca16 clarifies that the Molina guidelines apply even to cases then already pending, under the reasoning that the courts
interpretation or construction establishes the contemporaneous legislative intent of the law; the latter as so interpreted and construed

would thus constitute a part of that law as of the date the statute is enacted. It is only when a prior ruling of this Court finds itself later
overruled, and a different view is adopted, that the new doctrine may have to be applied prospectively in favor of parties who have
relied on the old doctrine and have acted in good faith in accordance therewith under the familiar rule of "lex prospicit, non respicit."
On March 15, 2003, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 0811-10 SC, Rules) promulgated by the Court took effect. Section 2(d) of the Rules pertinently provides:
(d) What to allege. A petition under Article 36 of the Family Code shall specifically allege the complete facts showing that either or
both parties were psychologically incapacitated from complying with the essential marital obligations of marriage at the time of the
celebration of marriage even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its celebration.
The complete facts should allege the physical manifestations, if any, as are indicative of psychological incapacity at the time of the
celebration of the marriage but expert opinion need not be alleged.
Section 12(d) of the Rules requires a pre-trial brief containing all the evidence presented, including expert opinion, if any, briefly stating
or describing the nature and purpose of these pieces of evidence. Section 14(b) requires the court to consider during the pre-trial
conference the advisability of receiving expert testimony and such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the petition.
Under Section 17 of the Rules, the grounds for the declaration of the absolute nullity or annulment of marriage must be proved.
All cases involving the application of Article 36 of the Family Code that came to us were invariably decided based on the principles
in the cited cases. This was the state of law and jurisprudence on Article 36 when the Court decided Te v. Yu-Te17 (Te) which revisited
the Molina guidelines.
Te begins with the observation that the Committee that drafted the Family Code did not give any examples of psychological incapacity
for fear that by so doing, it would limit the applicability of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis; that the Committee
desired that the courts should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by experience, by the findings of experts and
researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals that, although not binding on the civil courts, may be
given persuasive effect since the provision itself was taken from the Canon Law.18 Te thus assumes it a basic premise that the law is so
designed to allow some resiliency in its application.19
Te then sustained Santos doctrinal value, saying that its interpretation is consistent with that of the Canon Law.
Going back to its basic premise, Te said:
Conscious of the laws intention that it is the courts, on a case-to-case basis, that should determine whether a party to a marriage is
psychologically incapacitated, the Court, in sustaining the lower courts judgment of annulment in Tuason v. Court of Appeals, ruled that
the findings of the trial court are final and binding on the appellate courts.
Again, upholding the trial courts findings and declaring that its decision was not a judgment on the pleadings, the Court, in Tsoi v. Court
of Appeals, explained that when private respondent testified under oath before the lower court and was cross-examined by the adverse
party, she thereby presented evidence in the form of testimony. Importantly, the Court, aware of parallel decisions of Catholic marriage
tribunals, ruled that the senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the marital obligation of procreating children is
equivalent to psychological incapacity.
With this as backdrop, Te launched an attack on Molina. It said that the resiliency with which the concept should be applied and the
case-to-case basis by which the provision should be interpreted, as so intended by its framers, had, somehow, been rendered
ineffectual by the imposition of a set of strict standards in Molina. Molina, to Te, has become a strait-jacket, forcing all sizes to fit into
and be bound by it; wittingly or unwittingly, the Court, in conveniently applying Molina, has allowed diagnosed sociopaths,
schizophrenics, nymphomaniacs, narcissists and the like, to continuously debase and pervert the sanctity of marriage.
Te then enunciated the principle that each case must be judged, not on the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or
generalizations, but according to its own facts. Courts should 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.
As a final note though, Te expressly stated that it is not suggesting the abandonment of Molina, but that, following Antonio v. Reyes, it
merely looked at other perspectives that should also govern the disposition of petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36. The
subsequent Ting v. Velez-Ting20 follows Tes lead when it reiterated that Te did not abandon Molina; far from abandoning Molina, it

simply suggested the relaxation of its stringent requirements, cognizant of the explanation given by the Committee on the Revision of
the Rules on the rationale of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages:21
To require the petitioner to allege in the petition the particular root cause of the psychological incapacity and to attach thereto the
verified written report of an accredited psychologist or psychiatrist have proved to be too expensive for the parties. They adversely
affect access to justice of poor litigants. It is also a fact that there are provinces where these experts are not available. Thus, the
Committee deemed it necessary to relax this stringent requirement enunciated in the Molina Case. The need for the examination of a
party or parties by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist and the presentation of psychiatric experts shall now be determined by the
court during the pre-trial conference.
Te, therefore, instead of substantially departing from Molina, 22 merely stands for a more flexible approach in considering petitions for
declaration of nullity of marriages based on psychological incapacity. It is also noteworthy for its evidentiary approach in these cases,
which it expounded on as follows:
By the very nature of Article 36, courts, despite having the primary task and burden of decision-making, must not discount but, instead,
must consider as decisive evidence the expert opinion on the psychological and mental temperaments of the parties.
xxxx
Hernandez v. Court of Appeals emphasizes the importance of presenting expert testimony to establish the precise cause of a partys
psychological incapacity, and to show that it existed at the inception of the marriage. And as Marcos v. Marcos asserts, there is no
requirement that the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated be personally examined by a physician, if the totality of
evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity. Verily, the evidence must show a link, medical or the like,
between the acts that manifest psychological incapacity and the psychological disorder itself.
This is not to mention, but we mention nevertheless for emphasis, that the presentation of expert proof 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.23 [Underscoring supplied]
This evidentiary approach is repeated in Ting v. Velez-Ting.24
Under this evolutionary development, as shown by the current string of cases on Article 36 of the Family Code, what should not be lost
on us is the intention of the law to confine the application of Article 36 to the most serious cases of personality disorders, clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage; that the psychological illness that
must have afflicted a party at the inception of the marriage should be a malady so grave and permanent as to deprive one of awareness
of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he or she is about to assume. 25 It is not enough that the respondent, alleged to
be psychologically incapacitated, had difficulty in complying with his marital obligations, or was unwilling to perform these obligations.
Proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor an adverse integral element in the respondents personality structure that effectively
incapacitated him from complying with his essential marital obligations must be shown. 26 Mere difficulty, refusal or neglect in the
performance of marital obligations or ill will on the part of the spouse is different from incapacity rooted in some debilitating
psychological condition or illness; irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility and
the like, do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36, as the same may only be due to a persons
refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage.27
If all these sound familiar, they do, for they are but iterations of Santos juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability requisites. This is
proof of Santos continuing doctrinal validity.
The Present Case
As the CA did, we find Jocelyns evidence insufficient to establish Angelitos psychological incapacity to perform essential marital
obligations. We so conclude based on our own examination of the evidence on record, which we were compelled to undertake because
of the differences in the trial court and the appellate courts appreciation and evaluation of Jocelyns presented evidence.
a. The Expert Opinion Evidence
Both the psychologists testimony and the psychological report did not conclusively show the root cause, gravity and incurability of
Angelitos alleged psychological condition.

We first note a critical factor in appreciating or evaluating the expert opinion evidence the psychologists testimony and the
psychological evaluation report that Jocelyn presented. Based on her declarations in open court, the psychologist evaluated
Angelitos psychological condition only in an indirect manner she derived all her conclusions from information coming from Jocelyn
whose bias for her cause cannot of course be doubted. Given the source of the information upon which the psychologist heavily relied
upon, the court must evaluate the evidentiary worth of the opinion with due care and with the application of the more rigid and stringent
set of standards outlined above, i.e., that there must be a thorough and in-depth assessment of the parties by the psychologist or
expert, for a conclusive diagnosis of a psychological incapacity that is grave, severe and incurable.
In saying this, we do not suggest that a personal examination of the party alleged to be psychologically incapacitated is mandatory;
jurisprudence holds that this type of examination is not a mandatory requirement. While such examination is desirable, we recognize
that it may not be practical in all instances given the oftentimes estranged relations between the parties. For a determination though of
a partys complete personality profile, information coming from persons intimately related to him (such as the partys close relatives and
friends) may be helpful. This is an approach in the application of Article 36 that allows flexibility, at the same time that it avoids, if not
totally obliterate, the credibility gaps spawned by supposedly expert opinion based entirely on doubtful sources of information.
From these perspectives, we conclude that the psych`ologist, using meager information coming from a directly interested party, could
not have secured a complete personality profile and could not have conclusively formed an objective opinion or diagnosis of Angelitos
psychological condition. While the report or evaluation may be conclusive with respect to Jocelyns psychological condition, this is not
true for Angelitos. The methodology employed simply cannot satisfy the required depth and comprehensiveness of examination
required to evaluate a party alleged to be suffering from a psychological disorder. In short, this is not the psychological report that the
Court can rely on as basis for the conclusion that psychological incapacity exists.1avvphi1
Other than this credibility or reliability gap, both the psychologists report and testimony simply provided a general description of
Angelitos purported anti-social personality disorder, supported by the characterization of this disorder as chronic, grave and incurable.
The psychologist was conspicuously silent, however, on the bases for her conclusion or the particulars that gave rise to the
characterization she gave. These particulars are simply not in the Report, and neither can they be found in her testimony.
For instance, the psychologist testified that Angelitos personality disorder is chronic or incurable; Angelito has long been afflicted with
the disorder prior to his marriage with Jocelyn or even during his early developmental stage, as basic trust was not developed.
However, she did not support this declaration with any factual basis. In her Report, she based her conclusion on the presumption that
Angelito apparently grew up in a dysfunctional family. Quite noticeable, though, is the psychologists own equivocation on this point
she was not firm in her conclusion for she herself may have realized that it was simply conjectural. The veracity, too, of this finding is
highly suspect, for it was based entirely on Jocelyns assumed knowledge of Angelitos family background and upbringing.
Additionally, the psychologist merely generalized on the questions of why and to what extent was Angelitos personality disorder grave
and incurable, and on the effects of the disorder on Angelitos awareness of and his capability to undertake the duties and
responsibilities of marriage.
The psychologist therefore failed to provide the answers to the more important concerns or requisites of psychological incapacity, all of
which are critical to the success of Jocelyns cause.
b. Jocelyns Testimony
The inadequacy and/or lack of probative value of the psychological report and the psychologists testimony impel us to proceed to the
evaluation of Jocelyns testimony, to find out whether she provided the court with sufficient facts to support a finding of Angelitos
psychological incapacity.
Unfortunately, we find Jocelyns testimony to be insufficient. Jocelyn merely testified on Angelitos habitual drunkenness, gambling,
refusal to seek employment and the physical beatings she received from him all of which occurred after the marriage. Significantly,
she declared in her testimony that Angelito showed no signs of violent behavior, assuming this to be indicative of a personality disorder,
during the courtship stage or at the earliest stages of her relationship with him. She testified on the alleged physical beatings after the
marriage, not before or at the time of the celebration of the marriage. She did not clarify when these beatings exactly took place
whether it was near or at the time of celebration of the marriage or months or years after. This is a clear evidentiary gap that materially
affects her cause, as the law and its related jurisprudence require that the psychological incapacity must exist at the time of the
celebration of the marriage.
Habitual drunkenness, gambling and refusal to find a job, while indicative of psychological incapacity, do not, by themselves, show
psychological incapacity. All these simply indicate difficulty, neglect or mere refusal to perform marital obligations that, as the cited

jurisprudence holds, cannot be considered to be constitutive of psychological incapacity in the absence of proof that these are
manifestations of an incapacity rooted in some debilitating psychological condition or illness.
The physical violence allegedly inflicted on Jocelyn deserves a different treatment. While we may concede that physical violence on
women indicates abnormal behavioral or personality patterns, such violence, standing alone, does not constitute psychological
incapacity. Jurisprudence holds that there must be evidence showing a link, medical or the like, between the acts that manifest
psychological incapacity and the psychological disorder itself. The evidence of this nexus is irretrievably lost in the present case under
our finding that the opinion of the psychologist cannot be relied upon. Even assuming, therefore, that Jocelyns account of the physical
beatings she received from Angelito were true, this evidence does not satisfy the requirement of Article 36 and its related jurisprudence,
specifically the Santos requisites.
On the whole, the CA correctly reversed the RTC judgment, whose factual bases we now find to be clearly and manifestly erroneous.
Our ruling in Tuason recognizing the finality of the factual findings of the trial court in Article 36 cases (which is Jocelyns main anchor in
her present appeal with us) does not therefore apply in this case. We find that, on the contrary, the CA correctly applied Article 36 and
its related jurisprudence to the facts and the evidence of the present case.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the petition for lack of merit. We AFFIRM the appealed Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62443. Costs against the petitioner.
ROBERTO DOMINGO, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and DELIA SOLEDAD AVERA represented by her Attorney-in-Fact MOISES R. AVERA, respondents.
ROMERO, J.:
The instant petition seeks the reversal of respondent court's ruling finding no grave abuse of discretion in the lower court's order
denying petitioner's motion to dismiss the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage and separation of property.
On May 29, 1991, private respondent Delia Soledad A. Domingo filed a petition before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig entitled
"Declaration of Nullity of Marriage and Separation of Property" against petitioner Roberto Domingo. The petition which was docketed as
Special Proceedings No. 1989-J alleged among others that: they were married on November 29, 1976 at the YMCA Youth Center Bldg.,
as evidenced by a Marriage Contract Registry No. 1277K-76 with Marriage License No. 4999036 issued at Carmona, Cavite; unknown
to her, he had a previous marriage with one Emerlina dela Paz on April 25, 1969 which marriage is valid and still existing; she came to
know of the prior marriage only sometime in 1983 when Emerlina dela Paz sued them for bigamy; from January 23 1979 up to the
present, she has been working in Saudi Arabia and she used to come to the Philippines only when she would avail of the one-month
annual vacation leave granted by her foreign employer since 1983 up to the present, he has been unemployed and completely
dependent upon her for support and subsistence; out of her personal earnings, she purchased real and personal properties with a total
amount of approximately P350,000.00, which are under the possession and administration of Roberto; sometime in June 1989, while
on her one-month vacation, she discovered that he was cohabiting with another woman; she further discovered that he had been
disposing of some of her properties without her knowledge or consent; she confronted him about this and thereafter appointed her
brother Moises R. Avera as her attorney-in-fact to take care of her properties; he failed and refused to turn over the possession and
administration of said properties to her brother/attorney-in-fact; and he is not authorized to administer and possess the same on
account of the nullity of their marriage. The petition prayed that a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction be
issued enjoining Roberto from exercising any act of administration and ownership over said properties; their marriage be declared null
and void and of no force and effect; and Delia Soledad be declared the sole and exclusive owner of all properties acquired at the time
of their void marriage and such properties be placed under the proper management and administration of the attorney-in-fact.
Petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the petition stated no cause of action. The marriage being void ab initio, the
petition for the declaration of its nullity is, therefore, superfluous and unnecessary. It added that private respondent has no property
which is in his possession.
On August 20, 1991, Judge Maria Alicia M. Austria issued an Order denying the motion to dismiss for lack of merit. She explained:
Movant argues that a second marriage contracted after a first marriage by a man with another woman is illegal and
void (citing the case of Yap v. Court of Appeals, 145 SCRA 229) and no judicial decree is necessary to establish the
invalidity of a void marriage (citing the cases of People v. Aragon, 100 Phil. 1033; People v. Mendoza, 95 Phil. 845).
Indeed, under the Yap case there is no dispute that the second marriage contracted by respondent with herein
petitioner after a first marriage with another woman is illegal and void. However, as to whether or not the second

marriage should first be judicially declared a nullity is not an issue in said case. In the case of Vda. de Consuegra v.
GSIS, the Supreme Court ruled in explicit terms, thus:
And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court observed that although the second
marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while the first marriage was still
subsisting, still there is need for judicial declaration of its nullity. (37 SCRA 316, 326)
The above ruling which is of later vintage deviated from the previous rulings of the Supreme Court
in the aforecited cases of Aragon and Mendoza.
Finally, the contention of respondent movant that petitioner has no property in his possession is an
issue that may be determined only after trial on the merits. 1
A motion for reconsideration was filed stressing the erroneous application of Vda. de Consuegra v. GSIS 2 and the absence of
justiciable controversy as to the nullity of the marriage. On September 11, 1991, Judge Austria denied the motion for reconsideration
and gave petitioner fifteen (15) days from receipt within which to file his answer.
Instead of filing the required answer, petitioner filed a special civil action of certiorari and mandamus on the ground that the lower court
acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in denying the motion to dismiss.
On February 7, 1992, the Court of Appeals 3 dismissed the petition. It explained that the case of Yap v. CA 4 cited by petitioner and that
of Consuegra v. GSIS relied upon by the lower court do not have relevance in the case at bar, there being no identity of facts because
these cases dealt with the successional rights of the second wife while the instant case prays for separation of property corollary with
the declaration of nullity of marriage. It observed that the separation and subsequent distribution of the properties acquired during the
union can be had only upon proper determination of the status of the marital relationship between said parties, whether or not the
validity of the first marriage is denied by petitioner. Furthermore, in order to avoid duplication and multiplicity of suits, the declaration of
nullity of marriage may be invoked in this proceeding together with the partition and distribution of the properties involved. Citing Articles
48, 50 and 52 of the Family Code, it held that private respondent's prayer for declaration of absolute nullity of their marriage may be
raised together with other incidents of their marriage such as the separation of their properties. Lastly, it noted that since the Court has
jurisdiction, the alleged error in refusing to grant the motion to dismiss is merely one of law for which the remedy ordinarily would have
been to file an answer, proceed with the trial and in case of an adverse decision, reiterate the issue on appeal. The motion for
reconsideration was subsequently denied for lack of merit. 5
Hence, this petition.
The two basic issues confronting the Court in the instant case are the following.
First, whether or not a petition for judicial declaration of a void marriage is necessary. If in the affirmative, whether the same should be
filed only for purposes of remarriage.
Second, whether or not SP No. 1989-J is the proper remedy of private respondent to recover certain real and personal properties
allegedly belonging to her exclusively.
Petitioner, invoking the ruling in People v. Aragon 6 and People v. Mendoza, 7 contends that SP. No. 1989-J for Declaration of Nullity of
Marriage and Separation of Property filed by private respondent must be dismissed for being unnecessary and superfluous.
Furthermore, under his own interpretation of Article 40 of the Family Code, he submits that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity
of marriage is required only for purposes of remarriage. Since the petition in SP No. 1989-J contains no allegation of private
respondent's intention to remarry, said petition should therefore, be dismissed.
On the other hand, private respondent insists on the necessity of a judicial declaration of the nullity of their marriage, not for purposes
of remarriage, but in order to provide a basis for the separation and distribution of the properties acquired during coverture.
There is no question that the marriage of petitioner and private respondent celebrated while the former's previous marriage with one
Emerlina de la Paz was still subsisting, is bigamous. As such, it is from the beginning. 8 Petitioner himself does not dispute the absolute
nullity of their marriage. 9

The cases of People v. Aragon and People v. Mendoza relied upon by petitioner are cases where the Court had earlier ruled that no
judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of a void, bigamous marriage. It is noteworthy to observe that Justice Alex Reyes,
however, dissented on these occasions stating that:
Though the logician may say that where the former marriage was void there would be nothing to dissolve, still it is not
for the spouses to judge whether that marriage was void or not. That judgment is reserved to the courts. . . . 10
This dissenting opinion was adopted as the majority position in subsequent cases involving the same issue. Thus, in Gomez v. Lipana,
11
the Court abandoned its earlier ruling in the Aragon and Mendoza cases. In reversing the lower court's order forfeiting the husband's
share of the disputed property acquired during the second marriage, the Court stated that "if the nullity, or annulment of the marriage is
the basis for the application of Article 1417, there is need for a judicial declaration thereof, which of course contemplates an action for
that purpose."
Citing Gomez v. Lipana, the Court subsequently held in Vda. de Consuegra v. Government Service Insurance System, that "although
the second marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there is
need for judicial declaration of such nullity."
In Tolentino v. Paras, 12 however, the Court turned around and applied the Aragon and Mendoza ruling once again. In granting the
prayer of the first wife asking for a declaration as the lawful surviving spouse and the correction of the death certificate of her deceased
husband, it explained that "(t)he second marriage that he contracted with private respondent during the lifetime of his first spouse is null
and void from the beginning and of no force and effect. No judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of a void marriage."
However, in the more recent case of Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy 13 the Court reverted to the Consuegra case and held that there was "no
need of introducing evidence about the existing prior marriage of her first husband at the time they married each other, for then such a
marriage though void still needs according to this Court a judicial declaration of such fact and for all legal intents and purposes she
would still be regarded as a married woman at the time she contracted her marriage with respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel."
Came the Family Code which settled once and for all the conflicting jurisprudence on the matter. A declaration of the absolute nullity of
a marriage is now explicitly required either as a cause of action or a ground for defense. 14 Where the absolute nullity of a previous
marriage is sought to be invoked for purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law for said projected
marriage be free from legal infirmity is a final judgment declaring the previous marriage void. 15
The Family Law Revision Committee and the Civil Code Revision Committee 16 which drafted what is now the Family Code of the
Philippines took the position that parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that their marriage is void even if such be the
fact but must first secure a judicial declaration of the nullity of their marriage before they can be allowed to marry again. This is borne
out by the following minutes of the 152nd Joint Meeting of the Civil Code and Family Law Committees where the present Article 40,
then Art. 39, was discussed.
B. Article 39.
The absolute nullity of a marriage may be invoked only on the basis of a final judgment declaring
the marriage void, except as provided in Article 41.
Justice Caguioa remarked that the above provision should include not only void but also voidable marriages. He then
suggested that the above provision be modified as follows:
The validity of a marriage may be invoked only . . .
Justice Reyes (J.B.L. Reyes), however, proposed that they say:
The
validity
only . . .

or

invalidity

of

On the other hand, Justice Puno suggested that they say:


The invalidity of a marriage may be invoked only . . .

marriage

may

be

invoked

Justice Caguioa explained that his idea is that one cannot determine for himself whether or not his marriage is valid
and that a court action is needed. Justice Puno accordingly proposed that the provision be modified to read:
The invalidity of a marriage may be invoked only on the basis of a final judgment annulling the
marriage or declaring the marriage void, except as provided in Article 41.
Justice Caguioa remarked that in annulment, there is no question. Justice Puno, however, pointed out that, even if it
is a judgment of annulment, they still have to produce the judgment.
Justice Caguioa suggested that they say:
The invalidity of a marriage may be invoked only on the basis of a final judgment declaring the
marriage invalid, except as provided in Article 41.
Justice Puno raised the question: When a marriage is declared invalid, does it include the annulment of a marriage
and the declaration that the marriage is void? Justice Caguioa replied in the affirmative. Dean Gupit added that in
some judgments, even if the marriage is annulled, it is declared void. Justice Puno suggested that this matter be
made clear in the provision.
Prof. Baviera remarked that the original idea in the provision is to require first a judicial declaration of a void marriage
and not annullable marriages, with which the other members concurred. Judge Diy added that annullable marriages
are presumed valid until a direct action is filed to annul it, which the other members affirmed. Justice Puno remarked
that if this is so, then the phrase "absolute nullity" can stand since it might result in confusion if they change the
phrase to "invalidity" if what they are referring to in the provision is the declaration that the marriage is void.
Prof. Bautista commented that they will be doing away with collateral defense as well as collateral attack. Justice
Caguioa explained that the idea in the provision is that there should be a final judgment declaring the marriage void
and a party should not declare for himself whether or not the marriage is void, while the other members affirmed.
Justice Caguioa added that they are, therefore, trying to avoid a collateral attack on that point. Prof. Bautista stated
that there are actions which are brought on the assumption that the marriage is valid. He then asked: Are they
depriving one of the right to raise the defense that he has no liability because the basis of the liability is void? Prof.
Bautista added that they cannot say that there will be no judgment on the validity or invalidity of the marriage because
it will be taken up in the same proceeding. It will not be a unilateral declaration that, it is a void marriage. Justice
Caguioa saw the point of Prof. Bautista and suggested that they limit the provision to remarriage. He then proposed
that Article 39 be reworded as follows:
The absolute nullity of a marriage for purposes of remarriage may be invoked only on the basis of
final judgment . . .
Justice Puno suggested that the above be modified as follows:
The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of establishing the validity
of a subsequent marriage only on the basis of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage
void, except as provided in Article 41.
Justice Puno later modified the above as follows:
For the purpose of establishing the validity of a subsequent marriage, the absolute nullity of a
previous marriage may only be invoked on the basis of a final judgment declaring such nullity,
except as provided in Article 41.
Justice Caguioa commented that the above provision is too broad and will not solve the objection of Prof. Bautista.
He proposed that they say:
For the purpose of entering into a subsequent marriage, the absolute nullity of a previous marriage
may only be invoked on the basis of a final judgment declaring such nullity, except as provided in
Article 41.

Justice Caguioa explained that the idea in the above provision is that if one enters into a subsequent marriage
without obtaining a final judgment declaring the nullity of a previous marriage, said subsequent marriage is void ab
initio.
After further deliberation, Justice Puno suggested that they go back to the original wording of the provision as follows:
The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage only on the
basis of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void, except as provided in Article 41. 17
In fact, the requirement for a declaration of absolute nullity of a marriage is also for the protection of the spouse who, believing that his
or her marriage is illegal and void, marries again. With the judicial declaration of the nullity of his or her first marriage, the person who
marries again cannot be charged with bigamy. 18
Just over a year ago, the Court made the pronouncement that there is a necessity for a declaration of absolute nullity of a prior
subsisting marriage before contracting another in the recent case of Terre v. Terre. 19 The Court, in turning down the defense of
respondent Terre who was charged with grossly immoral conduct consisting of contracting a second marriage and living with another
woman other than complainant while his prior marriage with the latter remained subsisting, said that "for purposes of determining
whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was null and void ab initio is
essential."
As regards the necessity for a judicial declaration of absolute nullity of marriage, petitioner submits that the same can be maintained
only if it is for the purpose of remarriage. Failure to allege this purpose, according to petitioner's theory, will warrant dismissal of the
same.
Article 40 of the Family Code provides:
Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of
a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void. (n)
Crucial to the proper interpretation of Article 40 is the position in the provision of the word "solely." As it is placed, the same shows that it
is meant to qualify "final judgment declaring such previous marriage void." Realizing the need for careful craftsmanship in conveying the
precise intent of the Committee members, the provision in question, as it finally emerged, did not state "The absolute nullity of a
previous marriage may be invoked solely for purposes of remarriage . . .," in which case "solely" would clearly qualify the phrase "for
purposes of remarriage." Had the phraseology been such, the interpretation of petitioner would have been correct and, that is, that the
absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked solely for purposes of remarriage, thus rendering irrelevant the clause "on the
basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void."
That Article 40 as finally formulated included the significant clause denotes that such final judgment declaring the previous marriage
void need not be obtained only for purposes of remarriage. Undoubtedly, one can conceive of other instances where a party might well
invoke the absolute nullity of a previous marriage for purposes other than remarriage, such as in case of an action for liquidation,
partition, distribution and separation of property between the erstwhile spouses, as well as an action for the custody and support of their
common children and the delivery of the latters' presumptive legitimes. In such cases, evidence needs must be adduced, testimonial or
documentary, to prove the existence of grounds rendering such a previous marriage an absolute nullity. These need not be limited
solely to an earlier final judgment of a court declaring such previous marriage void. Hence, in the instance where a party who has
previously contracted a marriage which remains subsisting desires to enter into another marriage which is legally unassailable, he is
required by law to prove that the previous one was an absolute nullity. But this he may do on the basis solely of a final judgment
declaring such previous marriage void.
This leads us to the question: Why the distinction? In other words, for purposes of remarriage, why should the only legally acceptable
basis for declaring a previous marriage an absolute nullity be a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void? Whereas, for
purposes other than remarriage, other evidence is acceptable?
Marriage, a sacrosanct institution, declared by the Constitution as an "inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family;" as
such, it "shall be protected by the State." 20 In more explicit terms, the Family Code characterizes it as "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." 21 So crucial
are marriage and the family to the stability and peace of the nation that their "nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law
and not subject to stipulation . . ." 22 As a matter of policy, therefore, the nullification of a marriage for the purpose of contracting another
cannot be accomplished merely on the basis of the perception of both parties or of one that their union is so defective with respect to

the essential requisites of a contract of marriage as to render it void ipso jure and with no legal effect and nothing more. Were this
so, this inviolable social institution would be reduced to a mockery and would rest on very shaky foundations indeed. And the grounds
for nullifying marriage would be as diverse and far-ranging as human ingenuity and fancy could conceive. For such a social significant
institution, an official state pronouncement through the courts, and nothing less, will satisfy the exacting norms of society. Not only
would such an open and public declaration by the courts definitively confirm the nullity of the contract of marriage, but the same would
be easily verifiable through records accessible to everyone.
That the law seeks to ensure that a prior marriage is no impediment to a second sought to be contracted by one of the parties may be
gleaned from new information required in the Family Code to be included in the application for a marriage license, viz, "If previously
married, how, when and where the previous marriage was dissolved and annulled." 23
Reverting to the case before us, petitioner's interpretation of Art. 40 of the Family Code is, undoubtedly, quite restrictive. Thus, his
position that private respondent's failure to state in the petition that the same is filed to enable her to remarry will result in the dismissal
of SP No. 1989-J is untenable. His misconstruction of Art. 40 resulting from the misplaced emphasis on the term "solely" was in fact
anticipated by the members of the Committee.
Dean Gupit commented the word "only" may be misconstrued to refer to "for purposes of remarriage." Judge Diy
stated that "only" refers to "final judgment." Justice Puno suggested that they say "on the basis only of a final
judgment." Prof. Baviera suggested that they use the legal term "solely" instead of "only," which the Committee
approved. 24 (Emphasis supplied)
Pursuing his previous argument that the declaration for absolute nullity of marriage is unnecessary, petitioner suggests that private
respondent should have filed an ordinary civil action for the recovery of the properties alleged to have been acquired during their union.
In such an eventuality, the lower court would not be acting as a mere special court but would be clothed with jurisdiction to rule on the
issues of possession and ownership. In addition, he pointed out that there is actually nothing to separate or partition as the petition
admits that all the properties were acquired with private respondent's money.
The Court of Appeals disregarded this argument and concluded that "the prayer for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may be
raised together with the other incident of their marriage such as the separation of their properties."
When a marriage is declared void ab initio, the law states that the final judgment therein shall provide for "the liquidation, partition and
distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody and support of the common children, and the delivery of their presumptive
legitimes, unless such matters had been adjudicated in previous judicial proceedings." 25 Other specific effects flowing therefrom, in
proper cases, are the following:
Art. 43. xxx xxx xxx
(2) The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may be, shall be dissolved and
liquidated, but if either spouse contracted said marriage in bad faith, his or her share of the net profits of the
community property or conjugal partnership property shall be forfeited in favor of the common children or, if there are
none, the children of the guilty spouse by a previous marriage or, in default of children, the innocent spouse;
(3) Donations by reason of marriage shall remain valid, except that if the donee contracted the marriage in bad faith,
such donations made to said donee are revoked by operation of law;
(4) The innocent spouse may revoke the designation of the other spouse who acted in bad faith as a beneficiary in
any insurance policy, even if such designation be stipulated as irrevocable; and
(5) The spouse who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith shall be disqualified to inherit from the innocent
spouse by testate and intestate succession. (n)
Art. 44. If both spouses of the subsequent marriage acted in bad faith, said marriage shall be void ab initio and all
donations by reason of marriage and testamentary disposition made by one in favor of the other are revoked by
operation of law. (n) 26
Based on the foregoing provisions, private respondent's ultimate prayer for separation of property will simply be one of the necessary
consequences of the judicial declaration of absolute nullity of their marriage. Thus, petitioner's suggestion that in order for their
properties to be separated, an ordinary civil action has to be instituted for that purpose is baseless. The Family Code has clearly

provided the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage, one of which is the separation of property according to the regime of
property relations governing them. It stands to reason that the lower court before whom the issue of nullity of a first marriage is brought
is likewise clothed with jurisdiction to decide the incidental questions regarding the couple's properties. Accordingly, the respondent
court committed no reversible error in finding that the lower court committed no grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioner's motion
to dismiss SP No. 1989-J.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of respondent Court dated February 7, 1992 and the Resolution
dated March 20, 1992 are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

JAIME
F.
vs.
MA. CORAZON N. VILLALON, Respondent.

VILLALON,

Petitioner,

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
On July 12, 1996, petitioner Jaime F. Villalon filed a petition 1 for the annulment of his marriage to respondent Ma. Corazon N. Villalon
before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City where it was docketed as JDRC No. 3917 and raffled to Branch 69. As ground therefor,
petitioner cited his psychological incapacity which he claimed existed even prior to his marriage.
According to petitioner, the manifestations of his psychological incapacity were: (a) his chronic refusal to maintain harmonious family
relations and his lack of interest in having a normal married life; (b) his immaturity and irresponsibility in refusing to accept the essential
obligations of marriage as husband to his wife; (c) his desire for other women and a life unchained from any spousal obligation; and (d)
his false assumption of the fundamental obligations of companionship and consortium towards respondent. Petitioner thus prayed that
his marriage to respondent be declared null and void ab initio.
On September 25, 1996, respondent filed an answer2 denying petitioners allegations. She asserted that her 18-year marriage to
petitioner has been "fruitful and characterized by joy, contentment and hopes for more growth in their relationship" and that their marital
squabbles were normal based on community standards. Petitioners success in his professional life aided him in performing his role as
husband, father, and provider. Respondent claimed that petitioners commitment to his paternal and marital responsibilities was beyond
reproach.
On October 7, 1996, the trial court directed the prosecutor to conduct an investigation on whether there was collusion between the
parties.3 The report submitted to the trial court stated that there was no such collusion.4
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) subsequently entered its appearance in behalf of the Republic of the Philippines 5 and
submitted an opposition6 to the petition on September 23, 1997. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
Petitioner testified that he met respondent sometime in the early seventies when he applied for a job at Metrobank, where respondent
was employed as a foreign exchange trader. They began dating in 1975 and had a romantic relationship soon thereafter. 7 After going
steady for about two years, petitioner and respondent were married at the San Pancracio Chapel in Paco, Manila on April 22, 1978.
Petitioner claimed that he married respondent because he believed that it was the right time to raise a family and that she would be a
good mother to his children.8
In the middle of 1993, petitioner decided to separate from respondent. According to him, their marriage reached a point where there
was no longer any communication between them and their relationship became devoid of love, affection, support and respect due to his
constant urge to see other women.9 Moreover, their relationship tended to be "one-sided" since respondent was unresponsive and
hardly ever showed her love, needs, wants and emotions.10
Petitioner admitted that on certain occasions before his marriage, he had two girlfriends at the same time. He also saw other women
even when he became engaged to and, later on, married respondent. 11 Respondent learned of his affairs but reacted in a subdued
manner.12 Petitioner surmised that it was respondents nature to be silent and withdrawn.13
In January 1994, petitioner left the conjugal abode and moved into an apartment located five to ten minutes away. Before he left, he
and his wife spoke to their three children who, at that time, were 14, 8, and 6 years old, respectively.14 Petitioner consulted a child
psychologist before talking to his children. 15 He considered himself as a good and loving father and described his relationship with the
children as "great".16
Despite the separation, petitioner would regularly visit his children who stayed with him on alternate weekends. He voluntarily gave
monthly support to the children and paid for their tuition fees. He also shouldered the childrens medical expenses as well as the
maintenance and miscellaneous fees for the conjugal abode.17
Petitioner presented Dr. Natividad Dayan, a clinical psychologist, to testify on his alleged psychological disorder of "Narcissistic
Histrionic Personality Disorder" with "Casanova Complex". Dr. Dayan described the said disorder as "a pervasive maladaptation in
terms of interpersonal and occupational functioning" with main symptoms of "grand ideation about oneself, self-centeredness, thinking
he is unique and wanting to always be the one followed, the I personality." A person afflicted with this disorder believes that he is

entitled to gratify his emotional and sexual feelings and thus engages in serial infidelities. Likewise, a person with "Casanova Complex"
exhibits habitual adulterous behavior and goes from one relationship to another.18
Dr. Dayan submitted a psychological report on both petitioner and respondent based on clinical interviews and psychological tests.19
Respondent testified that she first learned of her husbands infidelity in 1980. She discovered that he was having an affair with one of
her friends who worked as a trader in her husbands company. The affair was cut short when the woman left for the United States to
work. Eventually, she and petitioner were able to rebuild their relationship and overcome the crisis.20
When asked about the womanizing ways of her husband, respondent averred that she did not know whether her husbands acts could
be deemed "womanizing" since there were only two instances of infidelity which occurred 13 years apart. 21 She also theorized that
petitioner wanted to have their marriage annulled so he could marry her old friend.22 She stated that she has not closed her doors to
petitioner but the latter would have to give up his extra-marital relationship.23
To controvert the findings of petitioners expert witness, respondent presented a psychiatrist, Dr. Cecilia Villegas, who testified that Dr.
Dayans findings were incomplete because a "team approach" was necessary in evaluating an individuals personality. An evaluation of
ones psychological capacity requires the expertise of a psychiatrist and social worker. 24
Upon order of the trial court, the parties submitted their respective memoranda. 25 The OSG likewise filed a certification26 pursuant to
Rep. of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals.27 In due course, the trial court rendered judgment as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the marriage between petitioner and respondent Ma. Corazon N. Villalon
celebrated on April 22, 1978, as null and void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity on the part of the petitioner pursuant to
Article 36 of the Family Code.
Accordingly, the conjugal assets and liabilities are hereby ordered to be liquidated and the dissolution of the conjugal partnership of
gains be effected in accordance with Article 129 of the Family Code.
As petitioner manifested that he wishes to maintain the custody arrangement now existing, the custody of the three (3) children
Miguel Alberto, Fernando Alfonso, and Ma. Joanna Victoria shall remain with the respondent subject to visitation rights of petitioner as
may be mutually agreed upon by the parties.
In order to cancel the registration of the Marriage Contract between herein parties appearing in the Book of Marriage of the city of
Manila, let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Local Civil Registrar of Manila as well as the National Census and Statistics Office
(NCSO), CRD Legal Department, EDSA, Quezon City.
SO ORDERED.28
Respondent and the OSG seasonably filed an appeal from the decision of the trial court, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 74354. On
March 23, 2004, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision, the dispositive part of which reads:
WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the assailed decision dated November 12, 2001 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and a new
judgment entered DISMISSING the petitioners petition for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.29
Contrary to the trial courts findings, the appellate court held that petitioner failed to prove the juridical antecedence, gravity and
incurability of his alleged psychological incapacity. Although Dr. Dayan testified that petitioners psychological incapacity preceded the
marriage, she failed to give sufficient basis for such a finding. Dr. Dayan also stated that parental marital instability was the root cause
of petitioners psychological incapacity but failed to elaborate thereon or link the two variables. Moreover, petitioners sexual infidelity
was made to appear as symptomatic of a grave psychological disorder when, in reality, the same merely resulted from a general
dissatisfaction with the marriage.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the appellate courts decision which was denied in an order dated October 28, 2004. 30
Thus, petitioner took this recourse under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, asserting that the Court of Appeals erred in finding that he failed
to prove his psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code.

The petition has no merit.


The totality of the evidence in this case does not support a finding that petitioner is psychologically incapacitated to fulfill his marital
obligations. On the contrary, what is evident is the fact that petitioner was a good husband to respondent for a substantial period of time
prior to their separation, a loving father to their children and a good provider of the family. Although he engaged in marital infidelity in at
least two occasions, the same does not appear to be symptomatic of a grave psychological disorder which rendered him incapable of
performing his spousal obligations. The same appears as the result of a general dissatisfaction with his marriage rather than a
psychological disorder rooted in petitioners personal history.
In Santos v. Court of Appeals,31 the court held that psychological incapacity, as a ground for the declaration of nullity of a marriage,
must be characterized by juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability.32 It should
... [R]efer 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
psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated....33
In the case at bar, although Dr. Dayan testified that petitioner suffered from Narcissistic Histrionic Personality Disorder with Casanova
Complex even before the marriage and thus had the tendency to cheat on his wife, such conclusion was not sufficiently backed by
concrete evidence showing that petitioner indeed had several affairs and finds it difficult to be faithful. Except for petitioners general
claim that on certain occasions he had two girlfriends at the same time, no details or explanations were given of such circumstances
that would demonstrate petitioners inability to be faithful to respondent either before or at the time of the celebration of their marriage.
Similarly, we agree with the Court of Appeals that petitioner failed to establish the incurability and gravity of his alleged psychological
disorder. While Dr. Dayan described the symptoms of one afflicted with Narcissistic Histrionic Personality Disorder as "self-centered",
"characterized by grandiose ideation" and "lack of empathy in relating to others", and one with Casanova Complex as a "serial
adulterer", the evidence on record betrays the presence of any of these symptoms.
Moreover, we are not convinced that petitioner is a "serial or habitual adulterer", as he wants the court to believe. As stated by
respondent herself, it cannot be said that two instances of infidelity which occurred 13 years apart could be deemed "womanizing",
especially considering that these instances involved the same woman. In fact, at the time of respondents testimony, petitioners illicit
relationship has been going on for six years. This is not consistent with the symptoms of a person suffering from "Casanova Complex"
who, according to Dr. Dayan, is one who jumps from one relationship to another.
Sexual infidelity, by itself, is not sufficient proof that petitioner is suffering from psychological incapacity. It must be shown that the acts
of unfaithfulness are manifestations of a disordered personality which make petitioner completely unable to discharge the essential
obligations of marriage.34 The evidence on record fails to convince us that petitioners marital indiscretions are symptomatic of
psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. On the contrary, the evidence reveals that petitioner was a good husband
most of the time when he was living with respondent, a loving father to his children as well as a good provider.
In Rep. of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals,35 we held that the cause of the alleged psychological incapacity must be identified as a
psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Further
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.36
In the instant case, it appears that petitioner has simply lost his love for respondent and has consequently refused to stay married to
her. As revealed by his own testimony, petitioner felt that he was no longer part of respondents life and that the latter did not need or
want him.37 Respondents uncommunicative and withdrawn nature apparently led to petitioners discontentment with the marital
relationship.
However, as held in Rep. of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals,38 refusal to comply with the essential obligations of marriage is not
psychological incapacity within the meaning of the law. The policy of the State is to protect and strengthen the family as the basic social
institution and marriage is the foundation of the family. Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of validity of the marriage.39

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The March 23, 2004 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 74354 and its October
28, 2004 Resolution, are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

IMELDA
vs.
ISAGANI D. BOBIS, respondent.

MARBELLA-BOBIS,

petitioner,

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
On October 21, 1985, respondent contracted a first marriage with one Maria Dulce B. Javier. Without said marriage having been
annulled, nullified or terminated, the same respondent contracted a second marriage with petitioner Imelda Marbella-Bobis on January
25, 1996 and allegedly a third marriage with a certain Julia Sally Hernandez. Based on petitioner's complaint-affidavit, an information
for bigamy was filed against respondent on February 25, 1998, which was docketed as Criminal Case No. Q98-75611 of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 226, Quezon City. Sometime thereafter, respondent initiated a civil action for the judicial declaration of absolute
nullity of his first marriage on the ground that it was celebrated without a marriage license. Respondent then filed a motion to suspend
the proceedings in the criminal case for bigamy invoking the pending civil case for nullity of the first marriage as a prejudicial question
to the criminal case. The trial judge granted the motion to suspend the criminal case in an Order dated December 29, 1998. 1 Petitioner
filed a motion for reconsideration, but the same was denied.
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner argues that respondent should have first obtained a judicial declaration of nullity
of his first marriage before entering into the second marriage, inasmuch as the alleged prejudicial question justifying suspension of the
bigamy case is no longer a legal truism pursuant to Article 40 of the Family Code.2
The issue to be resolved in this petition is whether the subsequent filing of a civil action for declaration of nullity of a previous marriage
constitutes a prejudicial question to a criminal case for bigamy.
A prejudicial question is one which arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue involved therein. 3It is a
question based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or
innocence of the accused.4 It must appear not only that the civil case involves facts upon which the criminal action is based, but also
that the resolution of the issues raised in the civil action would necessarily be determinative of the criminal case. 5 Consequently, the
defense must involve an issue similar or intimately related to the same issue raised in the criminal action and its resolution
determinative of whether or not the latter action may proceed.6 Its two essential elements are:7
(a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal action; and
(b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
A prejudicial question does not conclusively resolve the guilt or innocence of the accused but simply tests the sufficiency of the
allegations in the information in order to sustain the further prosecution of the criminal case. A party who raises a prejudicial question is
deemed to have hypothetically admitted that all the essential elements of a crime have been adequately alleged in the information,
considering that the prosecution has not yet presented a single evidence on the indictment or may not yet have rested its case. A
challenge of the allegations in the information on the ground of prejudicial question is in effect a question on the merits of the criminal
charge through a non-criminal suit.

Article 40 of the Family Code, which was effective at the time of celebration of the second marriage, requires a prior judicial declaration
of nullity of a previous marriage before a party may remarry. The clear implication of this is that it is not for the parties, particularly the
accused, to determine the validity or invalidity of the marriage. 8 Whether or not the first marriage was void for lack of a license is a
matter of defense because there is still no judicial declaration of its nullity at the time the second marriage was contracted. It should be
remembered that bigamy can successfully be prosecuted provided all its elements concur two of which are a previous marriage and a
subsequent marriage which would have been valid had it not been for the existence at the material time of the first marriage.9
In the case at bar, respondent's clear intent is to obtain a judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage and thereafter to invoke that
very same judgment to prevent his prosecution for bigamy. He cannot have his cake and eat it too. Otherwise, all that an adventurous
bigamist has to do is to disregard Article 40 of the Family Code, contract a subsequent marriage and escape a bigamy charge by simply
claiming that the first marriage is void and that the subsequent marriage is equally void for lack of a prior judicial declaration of nullity of
the first. A party may even enter into a marriage aware of the absence of a requisite - usually the marriage license - and thereafter
contract a subsequent marriage without obtaining a declaration of nullity of the first on the assumption that the first marriage is void.
Such scenario would render nugatory the provisions on bigamy. As succinctly held in Landicho v. Relova:10
(P)arties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, only competent courts having such authority.
Prior to such declaration of nullity, the validity of the first marriage is beyond question. A party who contracts a second
marriage then assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.
Respondent alleges that the first marriage in the case before us was void for lack of a marriage license. Petitioner, on the other hand,
argues that her marriage to respondent was exempt from the requirement of a marriage license. More specifically, petitioner claims that
prior to their marriage, they had already attained the age of majority and had been living together as husband and wife for at least five
years.11 The issue in this case is limited to the existence of a prejudicial question, and we are not called upon to resolve the validity of
the first marriage. Be that as it may, suffice it to state that the Civil Code, under which the first marriage was celebrated, provides that
"every intendment of law or fact leans toward the validity of marriage, the indissolubility of the marriage bonds." 12 [] Hence, parties
should not be permitted to judge for themselves the nullity of their marriage, for the same must be submitted to the determination of
competent courts. Only when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such
declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists.13 No matter how obvious, manifest or patent the absence of an element is, the
intervention of the courts must always be resorted to. That is why Article 40 of the Family Code requires a "final judgment," which only
the courts can render. Thus, as ruled in Landicho v. Relova,14 he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial declaration of
nullity of the first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy, and in such a case the criminal case may not be
suspended on the ground of the pendency of a civil case for declaration of nullity. In a recent case for concubinage, we held that the
pendency of a civil case for declaration of nullity of marriage is not a prejudicial question. 15 This ruling applies here by analogy since
both crimes presuppose the subsistence of a marriage.
Ignorance of the existence of Article 40 of the Family Code cannot even be successfully invoked as an excuse. 16 The contracting of a
marriage knowing that the requirements of the law have not been complied with or that the marriage is in disregard of a legal
impediment is an act penalized by the Revised Penal Code. 17 The legality of a marriage is a matter of law and every person is
presumed to know the law. As respondent did not obtain the judicial declaration of nullity when he entered into the second marriage,
why should he be allowed to belatedly obtain that judicial declaration in order to delay his criminal prosecution and subsequently defeat
it by his own disobedience of the law? If he wants to raise the nullity of the previous marriage, he can do it as a matter of defense when
he presents his evidence during the trial proper in the criminal case.
The burden of proof to show the dissolution of the first marriage before the second marriage was contracted rests upon the defense, 18
but that is a matter that can be raised in the trial of the bigamy case. In the meantime, it should be stressed that not every defense
raised in the civil action may be used as a prejudicial question to obtain the suspension of the criminal action. The lower court,
therefore, erred in suspending the criminal case for bigamy. Moreover, when respondent was indicted for bigamy, the fact that he
entered into two marriage ceremonies appeared indubitable. It was only after he was sued by petitioner for bigamy that he thought of
seeking a judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage. The obvious intent, therefore, is that respondent merely resorted to the civil
action as a potential prejudicial question for the purpose of frustrating or delaying his criminal prosecution. As has been discussed
above, this cannot be done.1awphi1
In the light of Article 40 of the Family Code, respondent, without first having obtained the judicial declaration of nullity of the first
marriage, can not be said to have validly entered into the second marriage. Per current jurisprudence, a marriage though void still
needs a judicial declaration of such fact before any party can marry again; otherwise the second marriage will also be void. 19 The
reason is that, without a judicial declaration of its nullity, the first marriage is presumed to be subsisting. In the case at bar, respondent
was for all legal intents and purposes regarded as a married man at the time he contracted his second marriage with petitioner. 20
Against this legal backdrop, any decision in the civil action for nullity would not erase the fact that respondent entered into a second
marriage during the subsistence of a first marriage. Thus, a decision in the civil case is not essential to the determination of the criminal

charge. It is, therefore, not a prejudicial question. As stated above, respondent cannot be permitted to use his own malfeasance to
defeat the criminal action against him.21
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The order dated December 29, 1998 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 226 of Quezon City
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the trial court is ordered to IMMEDIATELY proceed with Criminal Case No. Q98-75611.
SO ORDERED.

VINCENT
PAUL
G.
vs.
CONSUELO TAN, respondent.

MERCADO

a.k.a.

VINCENT

G.

MERCADO,

petitioner,

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is necessary before a subsequent one can be legally contracted. One who enters
into a subsequent marriage without first obtaining such judicial declaration is guilty of bigamy. This principle applies even if the earlier
union is characterized by statute as "void."
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the July 14, 1998 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) 1 in CA-GR CR No.
19830 and its January 4, 1999 Resolution denying reconsideration. The assailed Decision affirmed the ruling of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Bacolod City in Criminal Case No. 13848, which convicted herein petitioner of bigamy as follows:
"WHEREFORE, finding the guilt of accused Dr. Vincent Paul G. Mercado a.k.a. Dr. Vincent G. Mercado of the crime of Bigamy
punishable under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code to have been proven beyond reasonable doubt, [the court hereby renders]
judgment imposing upon him a prison term of three (3) years, four (4) months and fifteen (15) days of prision correccional, as minimum
of his indeterminate sentence, to eight (8) years and twenty-one (21) days of prision mayor, as maximum, plus accessory penalties
provided by law.
Costs against accused."2
The Facts

The facts are quoted by Court of Appeals (CA) from the trial courts judgment, as follows: "From the evidence adduced by the parties,
there is no dispute that accused Dr. Vincent Mercado and complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan got married on June 27, 1991 before MTCCBacolod City Br. 7 Judge Gorgonio J. Ibaez [by reason of] which a Marriage Contract was duly executed and signed by the parties. As
entered in said document, the status of accused was single. There is no dispute either that at the time of the celebration of the
wedding with complainant, accused was actually a married man, having been in lawful wedlock with Ma. Thelma Oliva in a marriage
ceremony solemnized on April 10, 1976 by Judge Leonardo B. Caares, CFI-Br. XIV, Cebu City per Marriage Certificate issued in
connection therewith, which matrimony was further blessed by Rev. Father Arthur Baur on October 10, 1976 in religious rites at the
Sacred Heart Church, Cebu City. In the same manner, the civil marriage between accused and complainant was confirmed in a church
ceremony on June 29, 1991 officiated by Msgr. Victorino A. Rivas, Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Bacolod City. Both marriages were
consummated when out of the first consortium, Ma. Thelma Oliva bore accused two children, while a child, Vincent Paul, Jr. was sired
by accused with complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan.
"On October 5, 1992, a letter-complaint for bigamy was filed by complainant through counsel with the City Prosecutor of Bacolod City,
which eventually resulted [in] the institution of the present case before this Court against said accused, Dr. Vincent G. Mercado, on
March 1, 1993 in an Information dated January 22, 1993.
"On November 13, 1992, or more than a month after the bigamy case was lodged in the Prosecutors Office, accused filed an action for
Declaration of Nullity of Marriage against Ma. Thelma V. Oliva in RTC-Br. 22, Cebu City, and in a Decision dated May 6, 1993 the
marriage between Vincent G. Mercado and Ma. Thelma V. Oliva was declared null and void.
"Accused is charged [with] bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code for having contracted a second marriage with herein
complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan on June 27, 1991 when at that time he was previously united in lawful marriage with Ma. Thelma V.
Oliva on April 10, 1976 at Cebu City, without said first marriage having been legally dissolved. As shown by the evidence and admitted
by accused, all the essential elements of the crime are present, namely: (a) that the offender has been previously legally married; (2)
that the first marriage has not been legally dissolved or in case the spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed
dead according to the Civil Code; (3) that he contract[ed] a second or subsequent marriage; and (4) that the second or subsequent
marriage ha[d] all the essential requisites for validity. x x x
"While acknowledging the existence of the two marriage[s], accused posited the defense that his previous marriage ha[d] been judicially
declared null and void and that the private complainant had knowledge of the first marriage of accused.
"It is an admitted fact that when the second marriage was entered into with Ma. Consuelo Tan on June 27, 1991, accuseds prior
marriage with Ma. Thelma V. Oliva was subsisting, no judicial action having yet been initiated or any judicial declaration obtained as to
the nullity of such prior marriage with Ma. Thelma V. Oliva. Since no declaration of the nullity of his first marriage ha[d] yet been made
at the time of his second marriage, it is clear that accused was a married man when he contracted such second marriage with
complainant on June 27, 1991. He was still at the time validly married to his first wife."3
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Agreeing with the lower court, the Court of Appeals stated:
"Under Article 40 of the Family Code, the absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the
basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void. But here, the final judgment declaring null and void accuseds
previous marriage came not before the celebration of the second marriage, but after, when the case for bigamy against accused was
already tried in court. And what constitutes the crime of bigamy is the act of any person who shall contract a second subsequent
marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved."4
Hence, this Petition.5
The Issues
In his Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues:
"A
Whether or not the element of previous legal marriage is present in order to convict petitioner.
"B

Whether or not a liberal interpretation in favor of petitioner of Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code punishing bigamy, in
relation to Articles 36 and 40 of the Family Code, negates the guilt of petitioner.
"C
Whether or not petitioner is entitled to an acquittal on the basis of reasonable doubt."6
The Courts Ruling
The Petition is not meritorious.
Main Issue:Effect of Nullity of Previous Marriage
Petitioner was convicted of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, which provides:
"The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former
marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment
rendered in the proper proceedings."
The elements of this crime are as follows:
"1. That the offender has been legally married;
2. That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be
presumed dead according to the Civil Code;
3. That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage;
4. That the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity."7
When the Information was filed on January 22, 1993, all the elements of bigamy were present. It is undisputed that petitioner married
Thelma G. Oliva on April 10, 1976 in Cebu City. While that marriage was still subsisting, he contracted a second marriage, this time with
Respondent Ma. Consuelo Tan who subsequently filed the Complaint for bigamy.
Petitioner contends, however, that he obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code,
thereby rendering it void ab initio. Unlike voidable marriages which are considered valid until set aside by a competent court, he argues
that a void marriage is deemed never to have taken place at all.8 Thus, he concludes that there is no first marriage to speak of.
Petitioner also quotes the commentaries9 of former Justice Luis Reyes that "it is now settled that if the first marriage is void from the
beginning, it is a defense in a bigamy charge. But if the first marriage is voidable, it is not a defense."
Respondent, on the other hand, admits that the first marriage was declared null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code, but she
points out that that declaration came only after the Information had been filed. Hence, by then, the crime had already been
consummated. She argues that a judicial declaration of nullity of a void previous marriage must be obtained before a person can marry
for a subsequent time.
We agree with the respondent.
To be sure, jurisprudence regarding the need for a judicial declaration of nullity of the previous marriage has been characterized as
"conflicting."10 In People v. Mendoza,11 a bigamy case involving an accused who married three times, the Court ruled that there was no
need for such declaration. In that case, the accused contracted a second marriage during the subsistence of the first. When the first
wife died, he married for the third time. The second wife then charged him with bigamy. Acquitting him, the Court held that the second
marriage was void ab initio because it had been contracted while the first marriage was still in effect. Since the second marriage was
obviously void and illegal, the Court ruled that there was no need for a judicial declaration of its nullity. Hence, the accused did not
commit bigamy when he married for the third time. This ruling was affirmed by the Court in People v. Aragon,12 which involved
substantially the same facts.

But in subsequent cases, the Court impressed the need for a judicial declaration of nullity. In Vda de Consuegra v. GSIS,13 Jose
Consuegra married for the second time while the first marriage was still subsisting. Upon his death, the Court awarded one half of the
proceeds of his retirement benefits to the first wife and the other half to the second wife and her children, notwithstanding the manifest
nullity of the second marriage. It held: "And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court observes that although the second
marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there is need for
judicial declaration of such nullity."
In Tolentino v. Paras,14 however, the Court again held that judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage was not necessary. In that
case, a man married twice. In his Death Certificate, his second wife was named as his surviving spouse. The first wife then filed a
Petition to correct the said entry in the Death Certificate. The Court ruled in favor of the first wife, holding that "the second marriage that
he contracted with private respondent during the lifetime of the first spouse is null and void from the beginning and of no force and
effect. No judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of a void marriage."
In Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy,15 the Court stressed the need for such declaration. In that case, Karl Heinz Wiegel filed an action for the
declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lilia Olivia Wiegel on the ground that the latter had a prior existing marriage. After pretrial, Lilia
asked that she be allowed to present evidence to prove, among others, that her first husband had previously been married to another
woman. In holding that there was no need for such evidence, the Court ruled: "x x x There is likewise no need of introducing evidence
about the existing prior marriage of her first husband at the time they married each other, for then such a marriage though void still
needs, according to this Court, a judicial declaration of such fact and for all legal intents and purposes she would still be regarded as a
married woman at the time she contracted her marriage with respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel; x x x."
Subsequently, in Yap v. CA,16 the Court reverted to the ruling in People v. Mendoza, holding that there was no need for such declaration
of nullity.
In Domingo v. CA,17 the issue raised was whether a judicial declaration of nullity was still necessary for the recovery and the separation
of properties of erstwhile spouses. Ruling in the affirmative, the Court declared: "The Family Code has settled once and for all the
conflicting jurisprudence on the matter. A declaration of the absolute nullity of a marriage is now explicitly required either as a cause of
action or a ground for defense; in fact, the requirement for a declaration of absolute nullity of a marriage is also for the protection of the
spouse who, believing that his or her marriage is illegal and void, marries again. With the judicial declaration of the nullity of his or her
first marriage, the person who marries again cannot be charged with bigamy."18
Unlike Mendoza and Aragon, Domingo as well as the other cases herein cited was not a criminal prosecution for bigamy. Nonetheless,
Domingo underscored the need for a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage on the basis of a new provision of the Family
Code, which came into effect several years after the promulgation of Mendoza and Aragon.
In Mendoza and Aragon, the Court relied on Section 29 of Act No. 3613 (Marriage Law), which provided:
"Illegal marriages. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of the first spouse shall be illegal and
void from its performance, unless:
(a) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved;
(b) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the second marriage without the spouse
present having news of the absentee being alive, or the absentee being generally considered as dead and believed to be so
by the spouse present at the time of contracting such subsequent marriage, the marriage as contracted being valid in either
case until declared null and void by a competent court."
The Court held in those two cases that the said provision "plainly makes a subsequent marriage contracted by any person during the
lifetime of his first spouse illegal and void from its performance, and no judicial decree is necessary to establish its invalidity, as
distinguished from mere annulable marriages."19
The provision appeared in substantially the same form under Article 83 of the 1950 Civil Code and Article 41 of the Family Code.
However, Article 40 of the Family Code, a new provision, expressly requires a judicial declaration of nullity of the previous marriage, as
follows:
"ART. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment
declaring such marriage void."

In view of this provision, Domingo stressed that a final judgment declaring such marriage void was necessary. Verily, the Family Code
and Domingo affirm the earlier ruling in Wiegel. Thus, a Civil Law authority and member of the Civil Code Revision Commitee has
observed:
"[Article 40] is also in line with the recent decisions of the Supreme Court that the marriage of a person may be null and void but there is
need of a judicial declaration of such fact before that person can marry again; otherwise, the second marriage will also be void (Wiegel
v. Sempio-Diy, Aug. 19/86, 143 SCRA 499, Vda. De Consuegra v. GSIS, 37 SCRA 315). This provision changes the old rule that where
a marriage is illegal and void from its performance, no judicial decree is necessary to establish its validity (People v. Mendoza, 95 Phil.
843; People v. Aragon, 100 Phil. 1033)."20
In this light, the statutory mooring of the ruling in Mendoza and Aragon that there is no need for a judicial declaration of nullity of a
void marriage -- has been cast aside by Article 40 of the Family Code. Such declaration is now necessary before one can contract a
second marriage. Absent that declaration, we hold that one may be charged with and convicted of bigamy.
The present ruling is consistent with our pronouncement in Terre v. Terre,21 which involved an administrative Complaint against a lawyer
for marrying twice. In rejecting the lawyers argument that he was free to enter into a second marriage because the first one was void
ab initio, the Court ruled: "for purposes of determining whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage, a judicial
declaration that the first marriage was null and void ab initio is essential." The Court further noted that the said rule was "cast into
statutory form by Article 40 of the Family Code." Significantly, it observed that the second marriage, contracted without a judicial
declaration that the first marriage was void, was "bigamous and criminal in character."
Moreover, Justice Reyes, an authority in Criminal Law whose earlier work was cited by petitioner, changed his view on the subject in
view of Article 40 of the Family Code and wrote in 1993 that a person must first obtain a judicial declaration of the nullity of a void
marriage before contracting a subsequent marriage:22
"It is now settled that the fact that the first marriage is void from the beginning is not a defense in a bigamy charge. As with a voidable
marriage, there must be a judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage before contracting the second marriage. Article 40 of the
Family Code states that x x x. The Code Commission believes that the parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that their
marriage is void, even if such is the fact, but must first secure a judicial declaration of nullity of their marriage before they should be
allowed to marry again. x x x."
In the instant case, petitioner contracted a second marriage although there was yet no judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage.
In fact, he instituted the Petition to have the first marriage declared void only after complainant had filed a letter-complaint charging him
with bigamy. By contracting a second marriage while the first was still subsisting, he committed the acts punishable under Article 349 of
the Revised Penal Code.
That he subsequently obtained a judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage was immaterial. To repeat, the crime had already
been consummated by then. Moreover, his view effectively encourages delay in the prosecution of bigamy cases; an accused could
simply file a petition to declare his previous marriage void and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial question in the
criminal case. We cannot allow that.
Under the circumstances of the present case, he is guilty of the charge against him.
Damages
In her Memorandum, respondent prays that the Court set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeals insofar as it denied her claim of
damages and attorneys fees.23
Her prayer has no merit. She did not appeal the ruling of the CA against her; hence, she cannot obtain affirmative relief from this
Court.24 In any event, we find no reason to reverse or set aside the pertinent ruling of the CA on this point, which we quote hereunder:
"We are convinced from the totality of the evidence presented in this case that Consuelo Tan is not the innocent victim that she claims
to be; she was well aware of the existence of the previous marriage when she contracted matrimony with Dr. Mercado. The testimonies
of the defense witnesses prove this, and we find no reason to doubt said testimonies.
xxx

xxx

xxx

"Indeed, the claim of Consuelo Tan that she was not aware of his previous marriage does not inspire belief, especially as she had seen
that Dr. Mercado had two (2) children with him. We are convinced that she took the plunge anyway, relying on the fact that the first wife
would no longer return to Dr. Mercado, she being by then already living with another man.
"Consuelo Tan can therefore not claim damages in this case where she was fully conscious of the consequences of her act. She should
have known that she would suffer humiliation in the event the truth [would] come out, as it did in this case, ironically because of her
personal instigation. If there are indeed damages caused to her reputation, they are of her own willful making."25
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.