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REPUBLIC vs. RODOLFO O.

DE GRACIA  The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),


representing petitioner Republic of the Philippines
DOCTRINE: Although expert opinions furnished by (Republic), filed an opposition to the complaint,
psychologists regarding the psychological temperament contending that the acts committed by Natividad did
of parties are usually given considerable weight by the not demonstrate psychological incapacity as
courts, the existence of psychological incapacity must still contemplated by law, but are mere grounds for legal
be proven by independent evidence. The refusal to live separation under the Family Code.
with one’s spouse and to assume her duties as wife and  The RTC declared the marriage between Rodolfo and
mother as well as her emotional immaturity, Natividad void on the ground of psychological
irresponsibility and infidelity do not rise to the level of incapacity, relying on the findings and testimony of Dr.
psychological incapacity that would justify the nullification Zalsos.
of the parties' marriage. Indeed, to be declared clinically  The Republic appealed to the CA, but the CA
or medically incurable is one thing; to refuse or be affirmed the ruling of the RTC, finding that while
reluctant to perform one's duties is another. Natividad’s emotional immaturity, irresponsibility and
promiscuity by themselves do not necessarily equate
to psychological incapacity, "their degree or severity,
FACTS:
as duly testified to by Dr. Zalsos, has sufficiently
established a case of psychological disorder so
 Rodolfo and Natividad were married on February 15, profound as to render Natividad incapacitated to
1969. They lived in Zamboanga del Norte and have perform her essential marital obligations."
2 children, namely, Ma. Reynilda and Ma. Rizza.
 Rodolfo filed a complaint for declaration of nullity of ISSUE: Whether the CA erred in sustaining the RTC’s
marriage before the RTC, alleging that Natividad was finding of psychological incapacity – YES
psychologically incapacitated to comply with her
essential marital obligations.
RULING:
 The public prosecutor conducted an investigation to
determine if collusion exists between Rodolfo and
Natividad and found that there was none. Trial on the The Court ruled that based on the evidence presented,
merits then ensued. there exists insufficient factual or legal basis to conclude
 Rodolfo testified that – that Natividad’s emotional immaturity, irresponsibility, or
- He first met Natividad when they were students at even sexual promiscuity, can be equated with
the Barangay High School of Sindangan and he psychological incapacity.
was forced to marry her barely 3 months into their
courtship in light of her accidental pregnancy. "Psychological incapacity," as a ground to nullify a
- At the time of their marriage, he was 21 years old, marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, should refer
while Natividad was 18 years of age. He had no to no less than a mental – not merely physical – incapacity
stable job and merely worked in the gambling that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic
cockpits as "kristo" and "bangkero sa hantak." marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed
- When he decided to join and train with the army, and discharged by the parties to the marriage. The law did
Natividad left their conjugal home and sold their not intend to confine the meaning of "psychological
house without his consent. incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality
- Thereafter, Natividad moved to Dipolog City where disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or
she lived with a certain Engineer Terez, and bore inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.
him a child named Julie Ann Terez. The Court, citing the case of Santos v. CA, declared that
- After cohabiting with Terez, Natividad contracted a psychological incapacity must be characterized by: (a)
second marriage on January 11, 1991 with gravity (it must be grave and serious such that the party
another man named Antonio Mondarez and has would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties
lived since then with the latter in Cagayan de Oro required in a marriage); (b) juridical antecedence (it
City. must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the
- Since 1972, Rodolfo was left to take care of their marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge
children and exerted earnest efforts to save their only after the marriage); and (c) incurability (it must be
marriage which proved futile because of incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be
Natividad’s psychological incapacity that appeared beyond the means of the party involved).
to be incurable.
 Natividad failed to file her answer and appear during The rulings of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA, heavily
trial, despite service of summon, but she informed the relied on the psychiatric evaluation report of Dr. Zalsos
court that she submitted herself for psychiatric which does not, however, explain in reasonable detail
examination to Dr. Cheryl T. Zalsos in response to how Natividad’s condition could be characterized as
Rodolfo’s claims. Rodolfo also underwent the same grave, deeply-rooted, and incurable within the
examination. parameters of psychological incapacity
 PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION REPORT: Dr. Zalsos jurisprudence. Aside from failing to disclose the types of
stated that both Rodolfo and Natividad were psychological tests which she administered on Natividad,
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the Dr. Zalsos failed to identify in her report the root cause
essential marital obligations, finding that both parties of Natividad's condition and to show that it existed at
suffered from "utter emotional immaturity which is the time of the parties' marriage. Neither was the
unusual and unacceptable behavior considered as gravity or seriousness of Natividad's behavior in relation
deviant from persons who abide by established norms to her failure to perform the essential marital obligations
of conduct. sufficiently described in Dr. Zalsos's report. The finding
 Further, Dr. Zalsos noted that the mental condition of contained in the report on the incurability of Natividad's
both parties already existed at the time of the condition remains unsupported by any factual or scientific
celebration of marriage, although it only manifested basis and, hence, appears to be drawn out as a bare
after. Based on the foregoing, Dr. Zalsos concluded conclusion and even self-serving. In the same vein, Dr.
that the "couple’s union was bereft of the mind, will Zalsos's testimony during trial, which is essentially a
and heart for the obligations of marriage." reiteration of her report, also fails to convince the Court of
her conclusion that Natividad was psychologically
incapacitated.

Verily, although expert opinions furnished by


psychologists regarding the psychological temperament
of parties are usually given considerable weight by the
courts, the existence of psychological incapacity must
still be proven by independent evidence. However, after
poring over the records, the Court does not find any
such evidence sufficient enough to uphold the court a
quo's nullity declaration. Natividad's refusal to live with
Rodolfo and to assume her duties as wife and mother as
well as her emotional immaturity, irresponsibility and
infidelity do not rise to the level of psychological
incapacity that would justify the nullification of the
parties' marriage. Indeed, to be declared clinically or
medically incurable is one thing; to refuse or be reluctant
to perform one's duties is another.