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Teves v. People (2011) G.R. No.

24 August 2011 PEREZ, J.:
TOPIC IN SYLLABUS: Bigamy (Art. 349)
SUMMARY: Cenon and Thelma were married in 1992 Thelma thereafter left to work abroad, returning to the
Philippines only for short vacations. Sometime in 2002, Thelma found out that Cenon had married Edita in 2001. On
13 Feb 2006, Thelmas uncle, Danilo, filed a complaint for bigamy against Cenon. Prior to the filing of the information
in court, however, another RTC had declared Cenon and Thelmas marriage NULL and VOID, for Thelmas
psychological incapacity. Nonetheless, the information was still filed, and Cenon was subsequently found guilty of
bigamy. This was affirmed by the CA. The SC denied the petition for review filed by Cenon. The SC noted that the
filing of the complaint for bigamy preceded the decision declaring the marriage of Cenon and Thelma N&V, although
the information was filed a bit later. The SC held that the crime of bigamy should not be made dependent on the ability
or inability of the Public Prosecutor to immediately act on complaints.

Under the Family Code (FC), a declaration of the absolute nullity of a marriage is now explicitly required either as a
cause of action or a ground for defense. 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.

The drafters of the FC 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.

Thus, a judicial declaration of nullity is required before a valid subsequent marriage can be contracted or else, what
transpires is a bigamous marriage, reprehensible and immoral.

Criminal culpability attaches to the offender upon the commission of the offense, and from that instant, liability
appends to him until extinguished as provided by law, and that the time of filing of the criminal complaint (or
Information, in proper cases) is material only for determining prescription. The finality of the declaration of nullity of
a first marriage to cannot be made to retroact to the date of the bigamous marriage

26 Nov 1992: Cenon Teves (CENON) and Thelma Jaime-Teves (THELMA) were married at the MeTC of
o Afterwards, Thelma left to work abroad.
2002: Thelma found out that Cenon had married Edita Calderon (EDITA).
o She checked the National Statistics Office (NSO) according to a certificate of marriage, Cenon and
Edita were married on 10 Dec 2001, at the Divine Trust Consulting Services in Bulacan.
13 Feb 2006: Danilo Bongalon (DANILO), the uncle of Thelma, filed a complaint accusing Cenon of committing
4 May 2006, NOTE: meanwhile, Caloocan City RTC in a separate civil case declared the marriage of Cenon
and Thelma NULL and VOID based on Art. 36 of the Family Code (Psychological Incapacity), Thelma declared
as being physically incapacitated to comply with her essential marital obilgations.
o This decision became FINAL and EXECUTORY on 27 Jun 2006.
6 Jun 2006: Information filed against Cenon for Bigamy.
15 Aug 2007, RTC: Cenon GUILTY of Bigamy.
21 Jan 2009, CA: AFFIMED in toto the decision of the RTC.
Hence, this petition for review with the SC.
DODOT Bigamy
o Cenons contentions:
His marriage to Thelma having been declared null and void there was no marriage to speak
of, thus there was no bigamy to speak of.
He differentiated a VOID marriage from a VOIDABLE one the latter being valid until
declared annulled.
The Mercado v. Tan ruling is inapplicable because there, the prosecution for bigamy was
initiated before the declaration of nullity of marriage was filed in his case, when the
information was filed in court, another court had already declared his marriage to Thelma void.

1. Was Cenon guilty of bigamy, notwithstanding the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Thelma prior to the
filing of the information in court?

1. YES.
SEE: Doctrine (Judicial Declaration of nulling as a pre-requisite before the contracting of a subsequent marriage
else, the risk of prosecution for bigamy.)
Case at bar:
o The complaint against Cenon was filed before the marriage was declared a nullity only the filing of
the information came after the declaration of nullity.
o SC: Cannot allow an offender to escape liability under such circumstances to do so would make the
crime of bigamy dependent upon the ability or inability of the Prosecutor to immediately act on
complaints and eventually file informations in court.
SEE: Doctrine (On when criminal culpability attaches.)
Case at bar:
o The crime of bigamy was committed by Cenon on 10 Dec 2001, when he contracted a 2 nd marriage
with Edita.
o The finality of the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Thelma CANNOT be made to retroact to
the date of the bigamous marriage.

DISPOSITIVE: WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review is DENIED and the assailed Decision dated 21 January
2009 of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED in toto.

DODOT Bigamy