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SECOND DIVISION

JOE A. ROS and ESTRELLA AGUETE, Petitioners, Present: CARPIO, J., Chairperson, PERALTA, - versus ABAD, MENDOZA, and SERENO, JJ.
*

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK LAOAG BRANCH, Respondent.

Promulgated:

April 6, 2011

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

G.R. No. 170166 is a petition for review assailing the Decision promulgated on 17 October 2005 by the Court of Appeals (appellate court) in CA-G.R. CV No. 76845. The appellate court granted the appeal filed by the Philippine National Bank Laoag Branch (PNB). The appellate court reversed the 29 June 2001 Decision of Branch 15 of the Regional Trial Court of Laoag City (trial court) in Civil Case No. 7803.
1 2

The trial court declared the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage executed by spouses Jose A. Ros (Ros) and Estrella Aguete (Aguete) (collectively, petitioners), as well as the subsequent foreclosure proceedings, void. Aside from payment of attorneys fees, the trial court also ordered PNB to vacate the subject property to give way to petitioners possession.
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The Facts

The appellate court narrated the facts as follows:


On January 13, 1983, spouses Jose A. Ros and Estrella Aguete filed a complaint for the annulment of the Real Estate Mortgage and all legal proceedings taken thereunder against PNB, Laoag Branch before the Court of First Instance, Ilocos Norte docketed as Civil Case No. 7803. The complaint was later amended and was raffled to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 15, Laoag City. The averments in the complaint disclosed that plaintiff-appellee Joe A. Ros obtained a loan of P115,000.00 from PNB Laoag Branch on October 14, 1974 and as security for the loan, plaintiff-appellee Ros executed a real estate mortgage involving a parcel of land Lot No. 9161 of the Cadastral Survey of Laoag, with all the improvements thereon described under Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-9646.

Upon maturity, the loan remained outstanding. As a result, PNB instituted extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings on the mortgaged property. After the extrajudicial sale thereof, a Certificate of Sale was issued in favor of PNB, Laoag as the highest bidder. After the lapse of one (1) year without the property being redeemed, the property was consolidated and registered in the name of PNB, Laoag Branch on August 10, 1978. Claiming that she (plaintiff-appellee Estrella Aguete) has no knowledge of the loan obtained by her husband nor she consented to the mortgage instituted on the conjugal property a complaint was filed to annul the proceedings pertaining to the mortgage, sale and consolidation of the property interposing the defense that her signatures affixed on the documents were forged and that the loan did not redound to the benefit of the family.

In its answer, PNB prays for the dismissal of the complaint for lack of cause of action, and insists that it was plaintiffs-appellees own acts [of] omission/connivance that bar them from recovering the subject property on the ground of estoppel, laches, abandonment and prescription.
4

The Trial Courts Ruling

On 29 June 2001, the trial court rendered its Decision in favor of petitioners. The trial court declared that Aguete did not sign the loan documents, did not appear before the Notary Public to acknowledge the execution of the loan documents, did not receive the loan proceeds from PNB, and was not aware of the loan until PNB notified her in 14 August 1978 that she and her family should vacate the mortgaged property because of the expiration of the redemption period. Under the Civil Code, the effective law at the time of the transaction, Ros could not encumber any real property of the conjugal partnership without Aguetes consent. Aguete may, during their marriage and within ten years from the transaction questioned, ask the courts for the annulment of the contract her husband entered into without her consent, especially in the present case where her consent is required. The trial court, however, ruled that its decision is without prejudice to the right of action of PNB to recover the amount of the loan and its interests from Ros.
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The dispositive portion reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered: 1. DECLARING the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage (Exhibit C) and the subsequent foreclosure proceedings conducted thereon NULL and VOID; 2. ORDERING the Register of Deeds of the City of Laoag to cancel TCT No. T-15276 in the name of defendant PNB and revert the same in the name of plaintiffs spouses Joe Ros and Estrella Aguete; 3. ORDERING defendant to vacate and turnover the possession of the premises of the property in suit to the plaintiffs; and 4. ORDERING defendant to pay plaintiffs attorneys fee and litigation expenses in the sum of TEN THOUSAND (P10,000.00) PESOS. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.
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PNB filed its Notice of Appeal of the trial courts decision on 13 September 2001 and paid the corresponding fees. Petitioners filed on the same date a motion for execution pending appeal, which PNB opposed. In their comment to the opposition filed on 10 October 2001, petitioners stated that at the hearing of the motion on 3 October 2001, PNBs lay representative had no objection to the execution of judgment pending appeal. Petitioners claimed that the house on the subject lot is dilapidated, a danger to life and limb, and should be demolished. Petitioners added that they obliged themselves to make the house habitable at a cost of not less P50,000.00. The repair cost would accrue to PNBs benefit should the appellate court reverse the trial court. PNB continued to oppose petitioners motion.
7 8 9 10 11

In an Order dated 8 May 2002, the trial court found petitioners motion for execution pending appeal improper because petitioners have made it clear that they were willing to wait for the appellate courts decision. However, as a court of justice and equity, the trial court allowed petitioners to occupy the subject property with the condition that petitioners would voluntarily vacate the premises and waive recovery of improvements introduced should PNB prevail on appeal.
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The Appellate Courts Ruling

On 17 October 2005, the appellate court rendered its Decision and granted PNBs appeal. The appellate court reversed the trial courts decision, and dismissed petitioners complaint.
13

The appellate court stated that the trial court concluded forgery without adequate proof; thus it was improper for the trial court to rely solely on Aguetes testimony that her signatures on the loan documents were forged. The appellate court declared that Aguete affixed her signatures on the documents knowingly and with her full consent.

Assuming arguendo that Aguete did not give her consent to Ros loan, the appellate court ruled that the conjugal partnership is still liable because the loan proceeds redounded to the benefit of the family. The records of the case reveal that the loan was used for the expansion of the familys business. Therefore, the debt obtained is chargeable against the conjugal partnership.

Petitioners filed the present petition for review before this Court on 9 December 2005.

The Issues

Petitioners assigned the following errors:


I. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not giving weight to the findings and conclusions of the trial court, and in reversing and setting aside such findings and conclusions without stating specific contrary evidence; II. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in declaring the real estate mortgage valid;

III. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in declaring, without basis, that the loan contracted by husband Joe A. Ros with respondent Philippine National Bank Laoag redounded to the benefit of his family, aside from the fact that such had not been raised by respondent in its appeal.
14

The Courts Ruling The petition has no merit. We affirm the ruling of the appellate court. The Civil Code was the applicable law at the time of the mortgage. The subject property is thus considered part of the conjugal partnership of gains. The pertinent articles of the Civil Code provide:
Art. 153. The following are conjugal partnership property: (1) That which is acquired by onerous title during the marriage at the expense of the common fund, whether the acquisition be for the partnership, or for only one of the spouses; (2) That which is obtained by the industry, or work or as salary of the spouses, or of either of them; (3) The fruits, rents or interest received or due during the marriage, coming from the common property or from the exclusive property of each spouse. Art. 160. All property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife. Art. 161. The conjugal partnership shall be liable for: (1) All debts and obligations contracted by the husband for the benefit of the conjugal partnership, and those contracted by the wife, also for the same purpose, in the cases where she may legally bind the partnership; (2) Arrears or income due, during the marriage, from obligations which constitute a charge upon property of either spouse or of the partnership; (3) Minor repairs or for mere preservation made during the marriage upon the separate property of either the husband or the wife; major repairs shall not be charged to the partnership; (4) Major or minor repairs upon the conjugal partnership property; (5) The maintenance of the family and the education of the children of both husband and wife, and of legitimate children of one of the spouses; (6) Expenses to permit the spouses to complete a professional, vocational or other course. Art. 166. Unless the wife has been declared a non compos mentis or a spendthrift, or is under civil interdiction or is confined in a leprosarium, the husband cannot alienate or encumber any real property of the conjugal partnership without the wifes consent. If she refuses unreasonably to give her consent, the court may compel her to grant the same. Art. 173. The wife may, during the marriage, and within ten years from the transaction questioned, ask the courts for the annulment of any contract of the husband entered into without her consent, when such consent is required, or any act or contract of the husband which tends to

defraud her or impair her interest in the conjugal partnership property. Should the wife fail to exercise this right, she or her heirs after the dissolution of the marriage may demand the value of the property fraudulently alienated by the husband.

There is no doubt that the subject property was acquired during Ros and Aguetes marriage. Ros and Aguete were married on 16 January 1954, while the subject property was acquired in 1968. There is also no doubt that Ros encumbered the subject property when he mortgaged it for P115,000.00 on 23 October 1974. PNB Laoag does not doubt that Aguete, as evidenced by her signature, consented toRos mortgage to PNB of the subject property. On the other hand, Aguete denies ever having consented to the loan and also denies affixing her signature to the mortgage and loan documents.
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The husband cannot alienate or encumber any conjugal real property without the consent, express or implied, of the wife. Should the husband do so, then the contract is voidable. Article 173 of the Civil Code allows Aguete to question Ros encumbrance of the subject property. However, the same article does not guarantee that the courts will declare the annulment of the contract. Annulment will be declared only upon a finding that the wife did not give her consent. In the present case, we follow the conclusion of the appellate court and rule that Aguete gave her consent to Ros encumbrance of the subject property.
17

The documents disavowed by Aguete are acknowledged before a notary public, hence they are public documents. Every instrument duly acknowledged and certified as provided by law may be presented in evidence without further proof, the certificate of acknowledgment being prima facie evidence of the execution of the instrument or document involved. The execution of a document that has been ratified before a notary public cannot be disproved by the mere denial of the alleged signer. PNB was correct when it stated that petitioners omission to present other positive evidence to substantiate their claim of forgery was fatal to petitioners cause. Petitioners did not present any corroborating witness, such as a handwriting expert, who could authoritatively declare that Aguetes signatures were really forged.
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A notarized document carries the evidentiary weight conferred upon it with respect to its due execution, and it has in its favor the presumption of regularity which may only be rebutted by evidence so clear, strong and convincing as to exclude all controversy as to the falsity of the certificate. Absent such, the presumption must be upheld. The burden of proof to overcome the presumption of due execution of a notarial document lies on the one contesting the same.

Furthermore, an allegation of forgery must be proved by clear and convincing evidence, and whoever alleges it has the burden of proving the same.
21

Ros himself cannot bring action against PNB, for no one can come before the courts with unclean hands. In their memorandum before the trial court, petitioners themselves admitted that Ros forged Aguetes signatures.
Joe A. Ros in legal effect admitted in the complaint that the signatures of his wife in the questioned documents are forged, incriminating himself to criminal prosecution. If he were alive today, he would be prosecuted for forgery. This strengthens the testimony of his wife that her signatures on the questioned documents are not hers. In filing the complaint, it must have been a remorse of conscience for having wronged his family; in forging the signature of his wife on the questioned documents; in squandering the P115,000.00 loan from the bank for himself, resulting in the foreclosure of the conjugal property; eviction of his familytherefrom; and, exposure to public contempt, embarassment and ridicule.
22

The application for loan shows that the loan would be used exclusively for additional working [capital] of buy & sell of garlic & virginiatobacco. In her testimony, Aguete confirmed that Ros engaged in such business, but claimed to be unaware whether it prospered.Aguete was also aware of loans contracted by Ros, but did not know where he wasted the money. Debts contracted by the husband for and in the exercise of the industry or profession by which he contributes to the support of the family cannot be deemed to be his exclusive and private debts.
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If the husband himself is the principal obligor in the contract, i.e., he directly received the money and services to be used in or for his own business or his own profession, that contract falls within the term x x x x obligations for the benefit of the conjugal partnership. Here, no actual benefit may be proved. It is enough that the benefit to the family is apparent at the signing of the contract. From the very nature of the contract of loan or services, the family stands to benefit from the loan facility or services to be rendered to the business or profession of the husband. It is immaterial, if in the end, his business or profession fails or does not succeed. Simply stated, where the husband contracts obligations on behalf of the family business, the law presumes, and rightly so, that such obligation will redound to the benefit of the conjugal partnership.
26

For this reason, we rule that Ros loan from PNB redounded to the benefit of the conjugal partnership. Hence, the debt is chargeable to the conjugal partnership. WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 76845 promulgated on 17 October 2005 is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners

Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court Baguio City SECOND DIVISION HEIRS OF FRANCISCO RETUYA, FELICITAS R. PINTOR, HEIRSOF EPIFANIA R. SEMBLANTE,namely, PREMILINO SEMBLANTE, LUCIFINA S. TAGALOG, URSULINA S. ALMACEN; HEIRS OF JUAN RETUYA, namely, BALBINA R. RODRIGUEZ, DOLORES R. RELACION, SINFOROSA R. BASUBAS, TEOPISTA R. BASUBAS, FERNANDO RETUYA, BALDOMERO RETUYA, TEOFILO RETUYA, LEONA COLINA, FIDELA R. RAMIREZ, MARTINA R. ALBAO, SEVERINA R. CABAHUG; HEIRS OF RAFAELA VILLAMOR; ELIZABETH V. ALESNA; HEIRS OF QUINTIN RETUYA, namely, FELIMON RETUYA, SOFIA RETUYA, RUDOLFA RETUYA andELISA RETUYA, Petitio ners, - versus G.R. No. 163039 Present: CARPIO, J., Chairperson, PERALTA, ABAD, MENDOZA, and SERENO,* JJ. Promulgated: April 6, 2011

HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, HON. ULRIC CAETE as Presiding Judge of REGIONAL TRIAL COURT Branch 55, Mandaue City, NICOLAS RETUYA; HEIRS OF EULOGIO RETUYA, namely, MIGUEL RETUYA, RAMON RETUYA, GIL RETUYA, PIO RETUYA, MELANIO RETUYA, NICANOR RETUYA, LEONILA RETUYA, AQUILINA RETUYA, LUTGARDA RETUYA and PROCOPIO VILLANUEVA, Respon dents. x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x DECISION PERALTA, J.: Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the Resolutions dated November 28, 2003[1] and March 3, 2004[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 76235, which dismissed petitioners' Petition for Annulment of Judgment and their Motion for Reconsideration, respectively. Severo Retuya (Severo) and Maxima Mayol Retuya (Maxima) were husband and wife without any children. Severo left several parcels of land registered under his name which are located in Mandaue City, to wit:
A parcel of land situated in Barangay Tipolo, City of Mandaue, known as Lot No. 113-U of the Subdivision Plan, Psd -07-016382 being a portion of Lot No. 113, II-5121 Amd. (Hacienda Mandaue) LRC Rec.

4030, containing an area of Two Hundred and Eighty-One (281) sq. meters described in the Transfer Certificate of Title No. 26728 in the Office of the Registry of Land Title and Deeds of Mandaue City. A parcel of land located in Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City, known as Lot No. 5 of the consolidation of Lot No. 122-Q, 122R, 122-S, 122-T, 122-U, 122-V, 122-W, 122-X, 122-U, 122-AA, Psd 07-05-12450, LRC Rec. No. 4030, containing an area of Five Hundred Seventy-Four (574) sq. meters, described in the Transfer Certificate of Title No. 25213 of the Office of the Registry of Land Title and Deeds of Mandaue City. A parcel of land located in Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City, known as Lot No. 10 of the consolidation of Lot No. 122-Q, 122-R, 122S, 122-T, 122-U, 122-V, 122-W, 122-X, 122-Y and 122-AA, Psd 07-0512450, LRC Rec. No. 4030, containing an area of Four Hundred FortyTwo (442) sq. meters, described in the Transfer Certificate of Title No. 25218 of the Office of the Registry of Land Title and Deeds of Mandaue City. A parcel of land, Lot No. 121-1-10 of the subdivision plan, Psd 07023191, being a portion of Lot 121-1, LRC Psd. 262374, LRC Rec. No. 4030 located in Banilad, Mandaue City, containing an area of One Thousand Five Hundred (1,500) sq. meters described under TCT 32718 of the Registry of Land Title and Deeds of Mandaue City. A parcel of land, Lot No. 47-L of the subdivision plan Psd. 07-05012479, being a portion of Lot 47-11-5121 Amd Hacienda Mandaue LRC Rec. No. 4030, situated in Barangay Banilad, Mandaue City, covered by TCT 21687 in the Registry of Land Titles and Deeds for the City of Mandaue.[3]

Some of these parcels of land were covered by a lease contract, the rentals of which were received by respondents Nicolas Retuya and Procopio Villanueva, while Lot No. 47-L, covered by TCT No. 21687, was previously sold by the Heirs of Severo and Maxima Retuya to third persons. On June 14, 1961, Severo died intestate, survived by his wife Maxima and by Severo's full blood brothers and sisters, namely, Nicolas, Francisco, Quintin, Eulogio, Ruperto, Epifania, Georgia and the Heirs of Juan Retuya (Severos brother who had died earlier), as well as Severo's half-blood siblings, namely, Romeo, Leona, Rafaela, Fidela, Severina and Martina.

Sometime in 1971, Maxima also died intestate, survived by her siblings, namely, Fructuoso, Daniel, Benjamin, Lorenzo, Concepcion and Teofila. In 1996, Severo and Maxima's siblings and their nephews and nieces, herein petitioners, filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaue City, an action[4] for judicial partition of the above-mentioned real properties registered under the names of Severo and Maxima, and the accounting of the rentals derived therefrom against Severo's two other brothers, respondents Nicolas and his son Procopio Villanueva, and Eulogio, who was represented by the latter's heirs. Respondents Heirs of Eulogio filed their Answer[5] claiming that Severo had already sold the subject lands to their father Eulogio by virtue of a notarized Deed of Absolute Sale of Interests and Pro Indiviso Shares to Lands dated March 29, 1961; thus, petitioners have no right to ask for the partition of the subject properties, as respondents heirs are the owners of the same. On the other hand, respondents Nicolas and his son Procopio filed their Answer[6] admitting to have collected rentals on some of the subject properties and that such rentals were still intact and ready for partition; and that they were willing to partition the properties but were opposed by their co-respondents. After trial, the RTC rendered a Decision[7] dated August 9, 2001, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is rendered declaring the heirs of Eulogio Retuya as owners of the 1/16 share of Severo Retuya to of the subject properties representing the shares of the late Severo Retuya which he inherited from his deceased father, Esteban Retuya and which he sold to Eulogio Retuya as follows: Lot 113-U Lot 5 Lot 121-1-10-260 - 48.78 sq. meters - 99.65 sq. meters - 42 sq. meters.

and that the remaining areas of these properties, which have not been sold to defendants Heirs of Eulogio Retuya, as well as the rental, be partitioned among the herein parties in accordance with law.

[8]

Lot No. 10 is a road right of way and should not be partitioned.

Respondents Heirs of Eulogio filed a Motion for Correction[9] of Mathematical Computation of their share in Lot 121-1-10 alleging that their correct share should be 255 sq. meters, instead of 42 sq. meters. Petitioners, through their then counsel, Atty. Ernesto B. Mayol, filed a Comment[10] manifesting that they will submit and abide by whatever resolution the RTC may adopt or render in relation to the Motion for Correction of Mathematical Computation. The other respondents, represented by Atty. Basilio Duaban, did not file any comment despite receipt of the Order[11] to do so. On October 23, 2001, the RTC issued an Order,[12] the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the decision dated August 9, 2001 is amended by changing the area of 42 sq. meters to 255 sq. meters, and the dispositive portion of said decision will now read as follows: WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is rendered declaring the Heirs of Eulogio Retuya as owners of the 1/16 share of Severo Retuya to the of the subject properties representing the shares of the late Severo Retuya, which he inherited from his deceased father, Esteban Retuya and which he sold to Eulogio Retuya as follows: Lot 113-U Lot 5 Lot 121-1-10-260 48.78 sq. meters 99.65 sq. meters 255 sq. meters

and that the remaining areas of these properties, which have not been sold to defendants Heirs of Eulogio Retuya as well as the rental be partitioned among the herein parties in accordance with law. Lot No. 10 is a road right of way and should not be partitioned. Furnish parties, through counsels, copy of this Order for their information.[13]

The RTC decision became final and executory.[14] Respondents Heirs of Eulogio filed a Motion for the Issuance of a Writ of Execution, which the RTC granted in its Order[15]dated March 15, 2002. Petitioners, through Atty. Norberto Luna, Jr., as collaborating counsel, filed a Motion to Hold in Abeyance the Implementation of the Writ of Execution with Motion for Clarification and Precautionary Reservation to File Pertinent Pleadings and Legal Remedies.[16] Respondents Heirs of Eulogio filed their [17] Opposition thereto. In an Order[18] dated June 14, 2002, the RTC denied the motion, and the Writ of Execution[19] was issued. Respondents Heirs of Eulogio filed a Motion to Authorize the Branch Clerk of Court to Enforce the Amended Decision. [20] Petitioners were ordered by the RTC to file their Comment thereto. [21] Petitioners filed their Comment with Prayer for the Issuance of a Clarificatory Order[22] as to how the RTC arrived at the new computation of 255 sq. meters from the original award of 42 sq. meters for Lot No. 121-1-10-260. In an Order[23] dated February 17, 2003, the RTC, after finding that what was at issue was just the matter of mathematical computation of the area adjudicated to the parties, and in the interest of substantial justice, set a conference to settle once and for all the exact computation of the parties' respective shares. On February 24, 2003, petitioners filed with the CA a Petition for Annulment of Judgment of the RTC Order dated October 23, 2001, amending the decision dated August 9, 2001, claiming that the questioned Order was a patent nullity for want of jurisdiction and utter lack of due process.

On April 30, 2003, petitioners filed with the RTC a Manifestation[24] submitting the mathematical computation and/or mode of partitioning the shares of the opposing parties. As the RTC was in receipt of a copy of the Petition for Annulment of Judgment filed with the CA, it issued an Order[25]holding in abeyance the resolution of respondents Motion to Authorize the Branch Clerk of Court to enforce the RTC decision pending such petition. In a Resolution[26] dated April 24, 2003, the CA outrightly dismissed the Petition for Annulment of Judgment. It found that three of the petitioners, namely, Promilino Semblante, Salome Retuya and Fernando Retuya, did not sign the certification of nonforum shopping; and that the payment of the docket fee was short of P480.00. Petitioners filed their Motion for Reconsideration, which the CA granted in a Resolution[27] dated July 3, 2003 and reinstated the petition. On July 22, 2003, respondents Heirs of Eulogio filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the July 3, 2003 Resolution,[28] on the ground that it was made to appear in the Petition for Annulment of Judgment that Quintin Retuya, one of the petitioners, had signed the certification against forum shopping on March 18, 2003, when he had already died on July 29, 1996; that the signature of co-petitioner Romeo Retuya in the certification against forum shopping was not his, as compared to his signature in the letter which respondents attached to the motion for reconsideration; and that Romeo suffered a stroke in January 2003 and was bedridden until he died on April 28, 2003. In a Resolution dated November 28, 2003, the CA granted respondents Motion for Reconsideration and dismissed the petition, as no Comment was filed by petitioners. The CA said that Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court provides that the principal party shall sign the certification against forum shopping, as the attestation requires personal knowledge by the party who

executed the same, otherwise, it would cause the dismissal of the petition. Considering that Quintin, one of the parties to the petition, died on July 29, 1996, it could have been impossible for him to sign the Petition dated March 18, 2003. A Motion for Reconsideration[29] was filed by Atty. Renante dela Cerna as counsel for petitioners, contending that there was substantial compliance with the rule on certification against forum shopping when majority of the principal parties were able to sign the verification and certification against forum shopping. Attached in the motion for reconsideration was the affidavit of the Heirs of Quintin acknowledging said mistake and submitted a verification and certification duly signed by the heirs. On March 3, 2004, the CA issued a Resolution denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration. In so ruling, the CA said:
While it may be true that when majority of the parties have signed the certification against non-forum shopping would constitute substantial compliance, this Court cannot apply the same rule to petitioners. First, petitioners' counsel failed to explain why a dead person/party was able to sign the certification against non-forum shopping. The issue is not the parties' substantial compliance, but the dishonesty committed by the parties and/or their counsel when they made it appear that one of the listed parties signed the certification when in fact he died long before the petition was filed. Under Circular No. 28-91 of the Supreme Court and Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court, the attestation contained in the certification on non-forum shopping requires personal knowledge by the party who executed the same. The liberal interpretation of the rules cannot be accorded to parties who commit dishonesty and falsehood in court. Second, records reveal that this Motion for reconsideration was signed by a certain Atty. Renante A. Dela Cerna as counsel for the petitioners without the counsel of record, Atty. Norberto A. Luna's formal withdrawal. No notice of substitution of counsel was filed by the petitioners and Atty. Dela Cerna never entered his appearance as counsel for petitioner. xxxx There being no formal withdrawal or substitution of counsel made, Atty. Norberto A. Luna remains the counsel of record for petitioners. Atty. Luna may not be presumed substituted by Atty. Renante Dela Cerna merely by the latter's filing or signing of the motion for reconsideration. In the absence of compliance with the

essential requirements for valid substitution of counsel of record, the court can presume that Atty. Luna continuously represents the petitioners. Hence, Atty. Renante Dela Cerna has no right to represent the petitioners in this case. [30]

Hence, this petition wherein petitioners raise the sole ground that:
THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN DISMISSING THE PETITIONERS PETITION BY RULING AGAINST THE PETITIONERS' SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE TO THE CERTIFICATION AGAINST NON-FORUM SHOPPING FOR THE ALLEGED DISHONESTY COMMITTED BY THE PARTIES AND/OR THEIR COUNSEL WHEN THEY MADE IT APPEAR THAT ONE OF THE LISTED PARTIES SIGNED THE CERTIFICATION, WHEN IN FACT HE DIED BEFORE THE PETITION WAS FILED.[31]

The CA dismissed the Petition for Annulment of Judgment after it found that Quintin, one of the parties to the petition, had already died on July 29, 1996, thus, it was impossible for him to have signed the verification and certification of non-forum shopping attached to the petition filed on March 18, 2003. The CA found petitioners to have committed dishonesty and falsehood to the court, thus, it could not apply the liberal interpretation of the rule on certification against forum shopping. We found no reversible error committed by the CA. As correctly observed by the CA, while we have in a number of cases[32] applied the substantial compliance rule on the filing of the certification of non-forum shopping, specially when majority of the principal parties had signed the same and who shared a common interest, We agree with the CA that such leniency finds no applicability in this case because of petitioners dishonesty committed against the appellate court. A perusal of the verification and certification against forum shopping attached to the petition for annulment of judgment filed in the CA would show that there was a signature above the typewritten name of Quintin. In fact, written below the signature of Quintin was Community Tax Certificate (CTC) No. 06570132, issued on

January 8, 2003 in Mandaue City. Thus, it would appear that Quintin, who was already dead at the time the petition was filed, had signed the verification and certification of non-forum shopping and he was even in possession of a CTC. Petitioners actuation showed their lack of forthrightness to the CA which the latter correctly found to be a dishonest act committed against it. Petitioners allege that the explanation of their former counsel on record, Atty. Luna, to the show cause order issued by the CA to him that: (1) he had no intention to make it appear that a dead man in the person of Quintin was able to sign the verification and certification against forum shopping; (2) when he entered his appearance as counsel for petitioners before the RTC, he, the RTC, the co-petitioners and the other respondents, as well as their counsel, knew of the fact of Quintins death and the status of Felimon Retuya who immediately substituted his father, and in behalf of his siblings; (3) that in his entry of appearance filed before the RTC, it was Felimon, one of Quintin's heirs, who signed in the above typewritten name of Quintin, were found by the CA to be meritorious and noted the same. Thus, petitioners claim that they also have no intention of deceiving respondents, since as explained by Atty. Luna, all the parties and counsels knew of the death of Quintin. We are not persuaded. Notwithstanding that the CA had found the explanation of Atty. Luna to be meritorious, the CA did not err when it dismissed the petition. Notably, there was a signature above the typewritten name of Quintin without any showing that it was signed by another person for or in behalf of Quintin. In the absence of such qualification, it appeared before the CA that Quintin was the one who signed the same, especially since the CA did not know of the fact of Quintins death. There was nothing in the petition for annulment of judgment which alleged such information. In fact, we do not find any sufficient explanation given by petitioners as to why there was a signature of Quintin appearing in the verification and certification against forum shopping.

We also find that the CA correctly denied the motion for reconsideration on the ground that Atty. Renante dela Cerna, the lawyer who filed the motion for reconsideration, had no right to represent petitioners. Under Section 26, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and established jurisprudence, a valid substitution of counsel has the following requirements: (1) the filing of a written application for substitution; (2) the clients written consent; (3) the consent of the substituted lawyer if such consent can be obtained; and, in case such written consent cannot be procured, (4) a proof of service of notice of such motion on the attorney to be substituted in the manner required by the Rules.[33] In this case, petitioners failed to comply with the above requirements. Atty. Dela Cerna, as counsel for petitioners, filed the motion for reconsideration on December 22, 2003. However, he is not the counsel on record of petitioners, but Atty. Luna. Petitioners did not file a motion for substitution of counsel on record before the filing of the motion for reconsideration. It is worthy to mention that Atty. Dela Cerna did not even file a notice of appearance. If it has been held that courts may not presume that the counsel of record has been substituted by a second counsel merely from the filing of a formal appearance by the latter, [34] then with more reason that Atty. Dela Cerna could not be considered to have substituted Atty. Luna as there was no notice of his entry of appearance at all. The fact that Atty. Luna was still the counsel on record at the time Atty. Dela Cerna filed his motion for reconsideration was established in Atty. Luna's Explanation dated March 19, 2004 to the CA's Show Cause Order to him wherein he prayed therein that an Order be issued relieving him of his legal obligations to petitioners. Moreover, on April 30, 2004, petitioners through their counsel on record, Atty. Luna, filed a motion for substitution of counsels wherein they alleged that they engaged the services of Atty. Jorge Esparagosa as their new counsel and relieved Atty. Luna of all his legal obligations to them. Notably, there was no

mention at all of Atty. Dela Cerna. Indeed, there was no showing of the authority of Atty. Dela Cerna to file the motion for reconsideration for petitioners. Thus, the CA correctly found that Atty. Dela Cerna has no personality to represent petitioners and file the motion for reconsideration. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Resolutions dated November 28, 2003 and March 3, 2004 of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION ARTURO SARTE FLORES, Petitioner, Present: G.R. No. 183984

CARPIO, J., Chairperson, - versus NACHURA, PERALTA, ABAD, and MENDOZA, JJ.

SPOUSES ENRICO L. LINDO, JR. and EDNA C. LINDO, Respondents.

Promulgated:

April 13, 2011

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.: The Case Before the Court is a petition for review1 assailing the 30 May 2008 Decision2 and the 4 August 2008 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 94003.

The Antecedent Facts

The facts, as gleaned from the Court of Appeals Decision, are as follows:

On 31 October 1995, Edna Lindo (Edna) obtained a loan from Arturo Flores (petitioner) amounting to P400,000 payable on 1 December 1995 with 3% compounded monthly interest and 3% surcharge in case of late payment. To secure the loan, Edna executed a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage4 (the Deed) covering a property in the name of Edna and her husband Enrico (Enrico) Lindo, Jr. (collectively, respondents). Edna also signed a Promissory Note5 and the Deed for herself and for Enrico as his attorney-in-fact.

Edna issued three checks as partial payments for the loan. All checks were dishonored for insufficiency of funds, prompting petitioner to file a Complaint for Foreclosure of Mortgage with Damages against respondents. The case was raffled to the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 33 (RTC, Branch 33) and docketed as Civil Case No. 00-97942.

In its 30 September 2003 Decision,6 the RTC, Branch 33 ruled that petitioner was not entitled to judicial foreclosure of the mortgage. The RTC, Branch 33 found that the Deed was executed by Edna without the consent and authority of Enrico. The RTC, Branch 33 noted that the Deed was executed on 31 October 1995 while the Special Power of Attorney (SPA) executed by Enrico was only dated 4 November 1995.

The RTC, Branch 33 further ruled that petitioner was not precluded from recovering the loan from Edna as he could file a personal action against her. However, the RTC, Branch 33 ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the personal action which should be filed in the place where the plaintiff or the defendant resides in accordance with Section 2, Rule 4 of the Revised Rules on Civil Procedure.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its Order7 dated 8 January 2004, the RTC, Branch 33 denied the motion for lack of merit.

On 8 September 2004, petitioner filed a Complaint for Sum of Money with Damages against respondents. It was raffled to Branch 42 (RTC, Branch 42) of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, and docketed as Civil Case No. 04-110858.

Respondents filed their Answer with Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims where they admitted the loan but stated that it only amounted to P340,000. Respondents further alleged that Enrico was not a party to the loan because it was contracted by Edna withoutEnricos signature. Respondents prayed for the dismissal of the case on the grounds of improper venue, res judicata and forum-shopping, invoking the Decision of the RTC, Branch 33. On 7 March 2005, respondents also filed a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds of resjudicata and lack of cause of action.

The Decision of the Trial Court

On 22 July 2005, the RTC, Branch 42 issued an Order8 denying the motion to dismiss. The RTC, Branch 42 ruled that res judicata will not apply to rights, claims or demands which, although growing out of the same subject matter, constitute separate or distinct causes of action and were not put in issue in the former action. Respondents filed a motion for reconsideration. In its Order9 dated 8 February 2006, the RTC, Branch 42 denied respondents motion. The RTC, Branch 42 ruled that the RTC, Branch 33 expressly stated that its decision did not mean that petitioner could no longer recover the loan petitioner extended to Edna.

Respondents filed a Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus with Prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order before the Court of Appeals. The Decision of the Court of Appeals

In its 30 May 2008 Decision, the Court of Appeals set aside the 22 July 2005 and 8 February 2006 Orders of the RTC, Branch 42 for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion.

The Court of Appeals ruled that while the general rule is that a motion to dismiss is interlocutory and not appealable, the rule admits of exceptions. The Court of Appeals ruled that the RTC, Branch 42 acted with grave abuse of discretion in denying respondents motion to dismiss.

The Court of Appeals ruled that under Section 3, Rule 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may not institute more than one suit for a single cause of action. If two or more suits are instituted on the basis of the same cause of action, the filing of one on a judgment upon the merits in any one is available ground for the dismissal of the others. The Court of Appeals ruled that on a nonpayment of a note secured by a

mortgage, the creditor has a single cause of action against the debtor, that is recovery of the credit with execution of the suit. Thus, the creditor may institute two alternative remedies: either a personal action for the collection of debt or a real action to foreclose the mortgage, but not both. The Court of Appeals ruled that petitioner had only one cause of action against Edna for her failure to pay her obligation and he could not split the single cause of action by filing separately a foreclosure proceeding and a collection case. By filing a petition for foreclosure of the real estate mortgage, the Court of Appeals held that petitioner had already waived his personal action to recover the amount covered by the promissory note.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 4 August 2008 Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied the motion.

Hence, the petition before this Court. The Issue

The sole issue in this case is whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in dismissing the complaint for collection of sum of money on the ground of multiplicity of suits.

The Ruling of this Court

The petition has merit.

The rule is that a mortgage-creditor has a single cause of action against a mortgagordebtor, that is, to recover the debt.10 The mortgage-creditor has the option of either filing a personal action for collection of sum of money or instituting a real action to foreclose on the mortgage security.11 An election of the first bars recourse to the second, otherwise there would be multiplicity of suits in which the debtor would be

tossed from one venue to another depending on the location of the mortgaged properties and the residence of the parties.12

The two remedies are alternative and each remedy is complete by itself.13 If the mortgagee opts to foreclose the real estate mortgage, he waives the action for the collection of the debt, and vice versa.14 The Court explained:
x x x in the absence of express statutory provisions, a mortgage creditor may institute against the mortgage debtor either a personal action for debt or a real action to foreclose the mortgage. In other words, he may pursue either of the two remedies, but not both. By such election, his cause of action can by no means be impaired, for each of the two remedies is complete in itself. Thus, an election to bring a personal action will leave open to him all the properties of the debtor for attachment and execution, even including the mortgaged property itself. And, if he waives such personal action and pursues his remedy against the mortgaged property, an unsatisfied judgment thereon would still give him the right to sue for deficiency judgment, in which case, all the properties of the defendant, other than the mortgaged property, are again open to him for the satisfaction of the deficiency. In either case, his remedy is complete, his cause of action undiminished, and any advantages attendant to the pursuit of one or the other remedy are purely accidental and are all under his right of election. On the other hand, a rule that would authorize the plaintiff to bring a personal action against the debtor and simultaneously or successively another action against the mortgaged property, would result not only in multiplicity of suits so offensive to justice (Soriano v. Enriques, 24 Phil. 584) and obnoxious to law and equity (Osorio v. San Agustin, 25 Phil. 404), but also in subjecting the defendant to the vexation of being sued in the place of his residence or of the residence of the plaintiff, and then again in the place where the property lies.15

The Court has ruled that if a creditor is allowed to file his separate complaints simultaneously or successively, one to recover his credit and another to foreclose his mortgage, he will, in effect, be authorized plural redress for a single breach of contract at so much costs to the court and with so much vexation and oppressiveness to the debtor.16 In this case, however, there are circumstances that the Court takes into consideration.

Petitioner filed an action for foreclosure of mortgage. The RTC, Branch 33 ruled that petitioner was not entitled to judicial foreclosure because the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage was executed without Enricos consent. The RTC, Branch 33 stated:

All these circumstances certainly conspired against the plaintiff who has the burden of proving his cause of action. On the other hand, said circumstances tend to support the claim of defendant Edna Lindo that her husband did not consent to the mortgage of their conjugal property and that the loan application was her personal decision.

Accordingly, since the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage was executed by defendant Edna Lindo lacks the consent or authority of her husband Enrico Lindo, the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage is void pursuant to Article 96 of the Family Code.

This does not mean, however, that the plaintiff cannot recover the P400,000 loan plus interest which he extended to defendant Edna Lindo. He can institute a personal action against the defendant for the amount due which should be filed in the place where the plaintiff resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides at the election of the plaintiff in accordance with Section 2, Rule 4 of the Revised Rules on Civil Procedure. This Court has no jurisdiction to try such personal action.17

Edna did not deny before the RTC, Branch 33 that she obtained the loan. She claimed, however, that her husband did not give his consent and that he was not aware of the transaction.18 Hence, the RTC, Branch 33 held that petitioner could still recover the amount due from Edna through a personal action over which it had no jurisdiction.

Edna also filed an action for declaratory relief before the RTC, Branch 93 of San Pedro Laguna (RTC, Branch 93), which ruled:

At issue in this case is the validity of the promissory note and the Real Estate Mortgage executed by Edna Lindo without the consent of her husband.

The real estate mortgage executed by petition Edna Lindo over their conjugal property is undoubtedly an act of strict dominion and must be consented to by her husband to be effective. In the instant case, the real estate mortgage, absent the authority or consent of the husband, is necessarily void. Indeed, the real estate mortgage is this case was

executed on October 31, 1995 and the subsequent special power of attorney dated November 4, 1995 cannot be made to retroact to October 31, 1995 to validate the mortgage previously made by petitioner.

The liability of Edna Lindo on the principal contract of the loan however subsists notwithstanding the illegality of the mortgage. Indeed, where a mortgage is not valid, the principal obligation which it guarantees is not thereby rendered null and void. That obligation matures and becomes demandable in accordance with the stipulation pertaining to it. Under the foregoing circumstances, what is lost is merely the right to foreclose the mortgage as a special remedy for satisfying or settling the indebtedness which is the principal obligation. In case of nullity, the mortgage deed remains as evidence or proof of a personal obligation of the debtor and the amount due to the creditor may be enforced in an ordinary action.

In view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the deed of real estate mortgage as void in the absence of the authority or consent of petitioners spouse therein. The liability of petitioner on the principal contract of loan however subsists notwithstanding the illegality of the real estate mortgage.19

The RTC, Branch 93 also ruled that Ednas liability is not affected by the illegality of the real estate mortgage. Both the RTC, Branch 33 and the RTC, Branch 93 misapplied the rules. Article 124 of the Family Code provides:
Art. 124. The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal partnership property shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of disagreement, the husbands decision shall prevail, subject to recourse to the court by the wife for proper remedy, which must be availed of within five years from the date of contract implementing such decision. In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the administration of the conjugal properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers of administration. These powers do not include disposition or encumbrance without authority of the court or the written consent of the other spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent the disposition or encumbrance shall be void. However, the transaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the part of the consenting spouse and the third person, and may be perfected as a binding contract upon the acceptance by the other spouse or authorization by the court before the offer is withdrawn by either or both offerors. (Emphasis supplied)

Article 124 of the Family Code of which applies to conjugal partnership property, is a reproduction of Article 96 of the Family Code which applies to community property. Both Article 96 and Article 127 of the Family Code provide that the powers do not include disposition or encumbrance without the written consent of the other spouse. Any disposition or encumbrance without the written consent shall be void. However, both provisions also state that the transaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the part of the consenting spouse and the third person, and may be perfected as a binding contract upon the acceptance by the other spouse x x x before the offer is withdrawn by either or both offerors.

In this case, the Promissory Note and the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage were executed on 31 October 1995. The Special Power of Attorney was executed on 4 November 1995. The execution of the SPA is the acceptance by the other spouse that perfected the continuing offer as a binding contract between the parties, making the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage a valid contract.

However, as the Court of Appeals noted, petitioner allowed the decisions of the RTC, Branch 33 and the RTC, Branch 93 to become final and executory without asking the courts for an alternative relief. The Court of Appeals stated that petitioner merely relied on the declarations of these courts that he could file a separate personal action and thus failed to observe the rules and settled jurisprudence on multiplicity of suits, closing petitioners avenue for recovery of the loan.

Nevertheless, petitioner still has a remedy under the law.

In Chieng v. Santos,20 this Court ruled that a mortgage-creditor may institute against the mortgage-debtor either a personal action for debt or a real action to foreclose the mortgage. The Court ruled that the remedies are alternative and not cumulative and held that the filing of a criminal action for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 was in effect a collection suit or a suit for the recovery of the mortgage-debt.21In that case, however, this Court pro hac vice, ruled that respondents could still be held liable for

the balance of the loan, applying the principle that no person may unjustly enrich himself at the expense of another.22

The principle of unjust enrichment is provided under Article 22 of the Civil Code which provides:
Art. 22. Every person who through an act of performance by another, or any other means, acquires or comes into possession of something at the expense of the latter without just or legal ground, shall return the same to him.

There is unjust enrichment when a person unjustly retains a benefit to the loss of another, or when a person retains money or property of another against the fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience.23 The principle of unjust enrichment requires two conditions: (1) that a person is benefited without a valid basis or justification, and (2) that such benefit is derived at the expense of another.24

The main objective of the principle against unjust enrichment is to prevent one from enriching himself at the expense of another without just cause or consideration.25 The principle is applicable in this case considering that Edna admitted obtaining a loan from petitioners, and the same has not been fully paid without just cause. The Deed was declared void erroneously at the instance of Edna, first when she raised it as a defense before the RTC, Branch 33 and second, when she filed an action for declaratory relief before the RTC, Branch 93. Petitioner could not be expected to ask the RTC, Branch 33 for an alternative remedy, as what the Court of Appeals ruled that he should have done, because the RTC, Branch 33 already stated that it had no jurisdiction over any personal action that petitioner might have against Edna.

Considering the circumstances of this case, the principle against unjust enrichment, being a substantive law, should prevail over the procedural rule on multiplicity of suits. The Court of Appeals, in the assailed decision, found that Edna admitted the loan, except that she claimed it only amounted to P340,000. Edna should not be allowed to unjustly enrich herself because of the erroneous decisions of the two trial courts when she questioned the validity of the Deed. Moreover, Edna still has an opportunity to submit her defenses before the RTC, Branch 42 on her claim as to the amount of her indebtedness.

WHEREFORE, the 30 May 2008 Decision and the 4 August 2008 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 94003 areSET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 42 is directed to proceed with the trial of Civil Case No. 04110858. SO ORDERED.

MAY D. AONUEVO,ALEXANDER BLEE DESANTIS and JOHN DESANTIS NERI, Petitioners,

G.R. No. 178221 Present: CORONA, C.J., Chairperson, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,* PERALTA,** ABAD,*** and PEREZ, JJ.

-versus-

INTESTATE ESTATE OF RODOLFO G. JALANDONI,represented by BERNARDINO G. JALANDONI as Special Administrator, Respondent.

Promulgated: December 1, 2010

x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION

PEREZ, J.: On appeal[1] is the Decision[2] dated 31 May 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00576. In the said decision, the Court of Appeals nullified, on certiorari, the Orders[3] of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, of Negros Occidental (intestate court) allowing herein petitioners and their siblings[4] to intervene in the estate proceedings of the late Rodolfo G. Jalandoni.[5] The decretal portion of the decision of the appellate court reads:
ACCORDINGLY, the petition for certiorari is hereby GRANTED, the assailed Orders dated July 2, 2004 and January 26, 2005, of the Regional Trial Court in Spec. Proc. No. 338 are hereby SET ASIDE and NULLIFIED, and a permanent injunction is hereby issued enjoining respondents [petitioners], their agents and anyone acting for and in their behalves, from enforcing the assailed Orders. No costs.[6]

The antecedents are: Rodolfo G. Jalandoni (Rodolfo) died intestate on 20 December 1966.[7] He died without issue.[8] On 28 April 1967, Bernardino G. Jalandoni (Bernardino), the brother of Rodolfo, filed a petition for the issuance of letters of administration[9] with the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, to commence the judicial settlement of the latters estate. The petition was docketed as Spec. Proc. No. 338 and is currently pending before the intestate court.[10] On 17 January 2003, the petitioners and their siblings filed a Manifestation[11] before the intestate court. In the Manifestation, they introduced themselves as the children of Sylvia Blee Desantis (Sylvia)who, in turn, was revealed to be the daughter of Isabel Blee (Isabel) with one John Desantis.[12] The petitioners and their siblings contend that their grandmotherIsabel was, at the time of Rodolfos death, the legal spouse of the latter.[13] For which reason, Isabel is entitled to a share in the estate of Rodolfo. Seeking to enforce the right of Isabel, the petitioners and their siblings pray that they be allowed to intervene on her behalf in the intestate proceedings of the

late Rodolfo G. Jalandoni.[14] As it was, by the time the Manifestation was filed, both Sylvia and Isabel have already passed away with the former predeceasing the latter.[15] To support their cause, the petitioners and their siblings appended in their Manifestation, the following documents: a.) Two (2) marriage certificates between Isabel and Rodolfo;[16] b.) The birth certificate of their mother, Sylvia;[17] and c.) Their respective proof of births.[18] It is the assertion of the petitioners and their siblings that the foregoing pieces of evidence sufficiently establish that Isabel was the spouse of Rodolfo, and that they are her lawful representatives. The respondent intestate estate of Rodolfo G. Jalandoni, now represented by Bernardino as its Special Administrator, however, begged to differ. It opposed the intervention on the ground that the petitioners and their siblings have failed to establish the status of Isabel as an heir of Rodolfo. The very evidence presented by the petitioners and their siblings showed that Isabel had a previous and subsisting marriage with John Desantis at the time she was purportedly married to Rodolfo. In its Comment to the Manifestation,[19] the respondent called attention to the entries in the birth certificate of Sylvia, who was born on 14 February 1946.[20] As it turned out, the record of birth of Sylvia states that she was a legitimate child of Isabel and John Desantis.[21] The document also certifies the status of both Isabel and John Desantis as married.[22] The respondent posits that the foregoing entries, having been made in an official registry, constitute prima facie proof of a prior marriage between Isabel and John Desantis.[23] According to the respondent, Isabels previous marriage, in the absence of any proof that it was dissolved, made her subsequent marriage with Rodolfo bigamous and void ab initio.[24] On 2 July 2004, the intestate court issued an order allowing the petitioners and their siblings to take part in the settlement proceedings.[25] The intestate court was convinced that the evidence at hand adequately establish Isabels status as the

legal spouse of Rodolfo and, by that token, permitted the petitioners and their siblings to intervene in the proceedings on her behalf.[26] The intestate court also held that the birth certificate of Sylvia was insufficient to prove that there was a previous marriage between Isabel and John Desantis.[27] It ventured on the possibility that the entries in the birth record of Sylvia regarding her legitimacy and the status of her parents, may have been made only in order to save Isabel and her family from the social condemnation of having a child out of wedlock.[28] The respondent sought for reconsideration, but was denied by the intestate court in its order dated 26 January 2006.[29] Undeterred, the respondent hoisted a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals. On 31 May 2007, the Court of Appeals granted the petition and nullified the orders of the intestate court.[30] In coming to its conclusion, the Court of Appeals found that it was an error on the part of the intestate court to have disregarded the probative value of Sylvias birth certificate.[31] The appellate court, siding with the respondent, held that Sylvias birth certificate serves as prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated which includes the civil status of her parents.[32] Hence, the previous marriage of Isabel with John Desantis should have been taken as established. The Court of Appeals added that since the petitioners and their siblings failed to offer any other evidence proving that the marriage of Isabel with John Desantis had been dissolved by the time she was married to Rodolfo, it then follows that the latter marriagethe Isabel-Rodolfo unionis a nullity for being bigamous.[33] From that premise, Isabel cannot be considered as the legal spouse of Rodolfo. The petitioners and their siblings, therefore, failed to show that Isabel has any interest in the estate of Rodolfo. Hence, the instant appeal.[34] The sole issue in this appeal is whether the Court of Appeals erred when it nullified the orders of the intestate court allowing the petitioners and their siblings to intervene in the settlement proceedings. The petitioners answer in the affirmative. They proffer the following arguments:

One. The Court of Appeals exceeded the limits of review under a writ of certiorari.[35] In nullifying the intestate courts order, the appellate court did not confine itself to the issue of whether the same was issued with grave abuse of discretion.[36] Rather, it chose to re-assess the evidence and touch upon the issue pertaining to Isabels right to inherit from Rodolfo.[37] Had the appellate court limited itself to the issue of whether grave abuse of discretion exists, it would have found that the intestate court did not act whimsically or capriciously in issuing its assailed orders.[38] Grave abuse of discretion on the part of the intestate court is belied by the fact that the said orders may be supported by the two (2) marriage certificates between Isabel and Rodolfo.
[39]

Second. Assuming ex-gratia argumenti that the Court of Appeals was correct in addressing the issue of whether there was sufficient evidence to prove that Isabel has a right to inherit from Rodolfo, it nevertheless erred in finding that there was none.[40] A proper evaluation of the evidence at hand does not support the conclusion that Isabel had a previous marriage with John Desantis.[41] To begin with, the respondent was not able to produce any marriage certificate executed between Isabel and John Desantis.[42] The conspicuous absence of such certificate can, in turn, only lend credibility to the position that no such marriage ever took place. Moreover, the entries in the birth certificate of Sylvia do not carry the necessary weight to be able to prove a marriage between Isabel and John Desantis. [43] In assessing the probative value of such entries, the Court of Appeals should have taken note of a typical practice among unwed Filipino couples who, in order to save face and not to embarrass their families, concoct the illusion of marriage and make it appear that a child begot by them is legitimate.[44] Since the alleged previous marriage of Isabel with John Desantis was not satisfactorily proven, the Court of Appeals clearly erred in finding that her marriage with Rodolfo is bigamous. We are not impressed. First Argument

The first argument raised by the petitioners is specious at best. The question of whether the intestate court gravely abused its discretion is intricately linked with the issue of whether there was sufficient evidence to establish Isabels status as the legal spouse of Rodolfo. A courts power to allow or deny intervention, albeit discretionary in nature, is circumscribed by the basic demand of sound judicial procedure that only a person with interest in an action or proceeding may be allowed to intervene. [45] Otherwise stated, a court has no authority to allow a person, who has no interest in an action or proceeding, to intervene therein.[46] Consequently, when a court commits a mistake and allows an uninterested person to intervene in a casethe mistake is not simply an error of judgment, but one of jurisdiction. In such event, the allowance is made in excess of the courts jurisdiction and can only be the product of an exercise of discretion gravely abused. That kind of error may be reviewed in a special civil action forcertiorari. Verily, the Court of Appeals was acting well within the limits of review under a writ of certiorari, when it examined the evidence proving Isabels right to inherit from Rodolfo. The sufficiency or insufficiency of such evidence determines whether the petitioners and their siblings have successfully established Isabels interest in Rodolfos estatewhich, as already mentioned, is an indispensable requisite to justify any intervention. Ultimately, the re-assessment of the evidence presented by the petitioners and their siblings will tell if the assailed orders of the intestate court were issued in excess of the latters jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. We now proceed to the second argument of the petitioners. Second Argument The second argument of the petitioners is also without merit. We agree with the finding of the Court of Appeals that the petitioners and their siblings failed to offer sufficient evidence to establish that Isabel was the legal spouse of Rodolfo. The very evidence of the petitioners and their siblings negates their claim that Isabel has interest in Rodolfos estate. Contrary to the position taken by the petitioners, the existence of a previous marriage between Isabel and John Desantis was adequately established. This holds

true notwithstanding the fact that no marriage certificate between Isabel and John Desantis exists on record. While a marriage certificate is considered the primary evidence of a marital union, it is not regarded as the sole and exclusive evidence of marriage. [47] Jurisprudence teaches that the fact of marriage may be proven by relevant evidence other than the marriage certificate.[48] Hence, even a persons birth certificate may be recognized as competent evidence of the marriage between his parents.[49] In the present case, the birth certificate of Sylvia precisely serves as the competent evidence of marriage between Isabel and John Desantis. As mentioned earlier, it contains the following notable entries: (a) that Isabel and John Desantis were married and (b) that Sylvia is their legitimate child.[50] In clear and categorical language, Sylvias birth certificate speaks of a subsisting marriage between Isabel and John Desantis. Pursuant to existing laws,[51] the foregoing entries are accorded prima facie weight. They are presumed to be true. Hence, unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence, they can, and will, stand as proof of the facts attested.[52] In the case at bench, the petitioners and their siblings offered no such rebuttal. The petitioners did no better than to explain away the entries in Sylvias birth certificate as untruthful statements made only in order to save face.[53] They urge this Court to take note of a typical practice among unwed Filipino couples to concoct the illusion of marriage and make it appear that a child begot by them is legitimate. That, the Court cannot countenance. The allegations of the petitioners, by themselves and unsupported by any other evidence, do not diminish the probative value of the entries. This Court cannot, as the petitioners would like Us to do, simply take judicial notice of a supposed folkway and conclude therefrom that the usage was in fact followed. It certainly is odd that the petitioners would themselves argue that the document on which they based their interest in intervention contains untruthful statements in its vital entries. Ironically, it is the evidence presented by the petitioners and their siblings themselves which, properly appreciated, supports the finding that Isabel was, indeed, previously married to John Desantis. Consequently, in the absence of any proof that such marriage had been dissolved by the time Isabel was married to

Rodolfo, the inescapable conclusion is that the latter marriage is bigamous and, therefore, void ab initio. The inability of the petitioners and their siblings to present evidence to prove that Isabels prior marriage was dissolved results in a failure to establish that she has interest in the estate of Rodolfo. Clearly, an intervention by the petitioners and their siblings in the settlement proceedings cannot be justified. We affirm the Court of Appeals. WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED. Accordingly, the decision dated 31 May 2007 of the Court of Appeals inCA-G.R. SP No. 00576 is hereby AFFIRMED.

NOEL B. BACCAY, Petitioner,

G.R. No. 173138 Present: CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson, BRION, BERSAMIN, VILLARAMA, JR., and SERENO, JJ.

- versus -

MARIBEL C. BACCAY and REPUBLIC OF Promulgated: THEPHILIPPINES, Respondents. December 1, 2010 x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assails the Decision[1]dated August 26, 2005 and Resolution[2] dated June 13, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 74581. The CA reversed the February 5, 2002 Decision[3] of the Regional

Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 38, which declared the marriage of petitioner Noel B. Baccay (Noel) and Maribel Calderon-Baccay (Maribel) void on the ground of psychological incapacity under Article 36[4] of the Family Code of the Philippines. The undisputed factual antecedents of the case are as follows: Noel and Maribel were schoolmates at the Mapua Institute of Technology where both took up Electronics and Communications Engineering. Sometime in 1990, they were introduced by a mutual friend and became close to one another. Noel courted Maribel, but it was only after years of continuous pursuit that Maribel accepted Noels proposal and the two became sweethearts. Noel considered Maribel as the snobbish and hard-to-get type, which traits he found attractive.[5] Noels family was aware of their relationship for he used to bring Maribel to their house. Noel observed that Maribel was inordinately shy when around his family so to bring her closer to them, he always invited Maribel to attend family gatherings and other festive occasions like birthdays, Christmas, and fiesta celebrations. Maribel, however, would try to avoid Noels invitations and whenever she attended those occasions with Noels family, he observed that Maribel was invariably aloof or snobbish. Not once did she try to get close to any of his family members. Noel would talk to Maribel about her attitude towards his family and she would promise to change, but she never did. Around 1997, Noel decided to break up with Maribel because he was already involved with another woman. He tried to break up with Maribel, but Maribel refused and offered to accept Noels relationship with the other woman so long as they would not sever their ties. To give Maribel some time to get over their relationship, they still continued to see each other albeit on a friendly basis. Despite their efforts to keep their meetings strictly friendly, however, Noel and Maribel had several romantic moments together. Noel took these episodes of sexual contact casually since Maribel never demanded anything from him except his company. Then, sometime in November 1998, Maribel informed Noel that she was pregnant with his child. Upon advice of his mother, Noel grudgingly agreed to marry Maribel. Noel and Maribel were immediately wed on November 23, 1998 before Judge Gregorio Dayrit, the Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City.

After the marriage ceremony, Noel and Maribel agreed to live with Noels family in their house at Rosal, Pag-asa, Quezon City. During all the time she lived with Noels family, Maribel remained aloof and did not go out of her way to endear herself to them. She would just come and go from the house as she pleased. Maribel never contributed to the familys coffer leaving Noel to shoulder all expenses for their support. Also, she refused to have any sexual contact with Noel. Surprisingly, despite Maribels claim of being pregnant, Noel never observed any symptoms of pregnancy in her. He asked Maribels office mates whether she manifested any signs of pregnancy and they confirmed that she showed no such signs. Then, sometime in January 1999, Maribel did not go home for a day, and when she came home she announced to Noel and his family that she had a miscarriage and was confined at the Chinese General Hospital where her sister worked as a nurse. Noel confronted her about her alleged miscarriage sometime in February 1999. The discussion escalated into an intense quarrel which woke up the whole household. Noels mother tried to intervene but Maribel shouted Putang ina nyo, wag kayo makialam at her. Because of this, Noels mother asked them to leave her house. Around 2:30 a.m., Maribel called her parents and asked them to pick her up. Maribel left Noels house and did not come back anymore. Noel tried to communicate with Maribel but when he went to see her at her house nobody wanted to talk to him and she rejected his phone calls.[6] On September 11, 2000 or after less than two years of marriage, Noel filed a petition[7] for declaration of nullity of marriage with the RTC of Manila. Despite summons, Maribel did not participate in the proceedings. The trial proceeded after the public prosecutor manifested that no collusion existed between the parties. Despite a directive from the RTC, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) also did not submit a certification manifesting its agreement or opposition to the case.[8] On February 5, 2002, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of Noel. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the marriage of the parties hereto celebrated on November 23, 1998 at the sala of Judge Gregorio Dayrit of the Metropolitan Trial Court in Quezon City as NULL and VOID. The Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the Chief of the National Statistics Office are hereby directed to record and enter this decree into the marriage records of the parties in their respective marriage registers.

The absolute community property of the parties is hereby dissolved and, henceforth, they shall be governed by the property regime of complete separation of property. With costs against respondent. SO ORDERED.[9]

The RTC found that Maribel failed to perform the essential marital obligations of marriage, and such failure was due to a personality disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder characterized by juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability as determined by a clinical psychologist. The RTC cited the findings of Nedy L. Tayag, a clinical psychologist presented as witness by Noel, that Maribel was a very insecure person. She entered into the marriage not because of emotional desire for marriage but to prove something, and her attitude was exploitative particularly in terms of financial rewards. She was emotionally immature, and viewed marriage as a piece of paper and that she can easily get rid of her husband without any provocation.[10] On appeal by the OSG, the CA reversed the decision of the RTC, thus:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila Branch 38 declaring as null and void the marriage between petitioner-appellee and respondent is hereby REVERSED. Accordingly, the instant Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage is hereby DENIED. SO ORDERED.[11]

The appellate court held that Noel failed to establish that Maribels supposed Narcissistic Personality Disorder was the psychological incapacity contemplated by law and that it was permanent and incurable. Maribels attitudes were merely mild peculiarities in character or signs of ill-will and refusal or neglect to perform marital obligations which did not amount to psychological incapacity, said the appellate court. The CA noted that Maribel may have failed or refused to perform her marital obligations but such did not indicate incapacity. The CA stressed that the law requires nothing short of mental illness sufficient to render a person incapable of knowing the essential marital obligations.[12] The CA further held that Maribels refusal to have sexual intercourse with Noel did not constitute a ground to find her psychologically incapacitated under Article 36 of the Family Code. As Noel admitted, he had numerous sexual relations

with Maribel before their marriage. Maribel therefore cannot be said to be incapacitated to perform this particular obligation and that such incapacity existed at the time of marriage.[13] Incidentally, the CA held that the OSG erred in saying that what Noel should have filed was an action to annul the marriage under Article 45 (3) [14] of the Family Code. According to the CA, Article 45 (3) involving consent to marriage vitiated by fraud is limited to the instances enumerated under Article 46[15] of the Family Code. Maribels misrepresentation that she was pregnant to induce Noel to marry her was not the fraud contemplated under Article 45 (3) as it was not among the instances enumerated under Article 46.[16] On June 13, 2006, the CA denied Noels motion for reconsideration. It held that Maribels personality disorder is not the psychological incapacity contemplated by law. Her refusal to perform the essential marital obligations may be attributed merely to her stubborn refusal to do so. Also, the manifestations of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder had no connection with Maribels failure to perform her marital obligations. Noel having failed to prove Maribels alleged psychological incapacity, any doubts should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity.[17] Hence, the present petition raising the following assignment of errors:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN HOLDING THAT THE CASE OF CHI MING TSOI vs. COURT OF APPEALS DOES NOT FIND APPLICATION IN THE INSTANT CASE. II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN HOLDING THAT THE RESPONDENT IS NOT SUFFERING FROM NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER; AND THAT HER FAILURE TO PERFORM HER ESSENTIAL MARITAL OBLIGATIONS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY.[18]

The issue to be resolved is whether the marriage between the parties is null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code. Petitioner Noel contends that the CA failed to consider Maribels refusal to procreate as psychological incapacity. Insofar as he was concerned, the last time he had sexual intercourse with Maribel was before the marriage when she was drunk.

They never had any sexual intimacy during their marriage. Noel claims that if a spouse senselessly and constantly refuses to perform his or her marital obligations, Catholic marriage tribunals attribute the causes to psychological incapacity rather than to stubborn refusal. He insists that the CA should not have considered the premarital sexual encounters between him and Maribel in finding that the latter was not psychologically incapacitated to procreate through marital sexual cooperation. He argues that making love for procreation and consummation of the marriage for the start of family life is different from plain, simple and casual sex. He further stresses that Maribel railroaded him into marrying her by seducing him and later claiming that she was pregnant with his child. But after their marriage, Maribel refused to consummate their marriage as she would not be sexually intimate with him.[19] Noel further claims that there were other indicia of Maribels psychological incapacity and that she consistently exhibited several traits typical of a person suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder before and during their marriage. He points out that Maribel would only mingle with a few individuals and never with Noels family even if they lived under one (1) roof. Maribel was also arrogant and haughty. She was rude and disrespectful to his mother and was also interpersonally exploitative as shown by her misrepresentation of pregnancy to force Noel to marry her. After marriage, Maribel never showed respect and love to Noel and his family. She displayed indifference to his emotional and sexual needs, but before the marriage she would display unfounded jealousy when Noel was visited by his friends. This same jealousy motivated her to deceive him into marrying her. Lastly, he points out that Maribels psychological incapacity was proven to be permanent and incurable with the root cause existing before the marriage. The psychologist testified that persons suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder were unmotivated to participate in therapy session and would reject any form of psychological help rendering their condition long lasting if not incurable. Such persons would not admit that their behavioral manifestations connote pathology or abnormality. The psychologist added that Maribels psychological incapacity was deeply rooted within her adaptive system since early childhood and manifested during adult life. Maribel was closely attached to her parents and mingled with only a few close individuals. Her close attachment to her parents and their overprotection of her turned her into a self-centered, self-absorbed individual who was insensitive to the needs of others. She developed the tendency not to accept rejection or failure.[20]

On the other hand, the OSG maintains that Maribels refusal to have sexual intercourse with Noel did not constitute psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code as her traits were merely mild peculiarities in her character or signs of ill-will and refusal or neglect to perform her marital obligations. The psychologist even admitted that Maribel was capable of entering into marriage except that it would be difficult for her to sustain one. Also, it was established that Noel and Maribel had sexual relations prior to their marriage. The OSG further pointed out that the psychologist was vague as to how Maribels refusal to have sexual intercourse with Noel constituted Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The petition lacks merit. Article 36 of the Family Code provides:
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 Court held in Santos v. Court of Appeals[21] that the phrase psychological incapacity is not meant to comprehend all possible cases of psychoses. It refers to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly noncognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as expressed by Article 68 [22] of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. The intendment of the law has been to confine it to the most serious of cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. In Republic of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals,[23] the Court laid down the guidelines in resolving petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage, based on Article 36 of the Family Code, to wit:
(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 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. x x x. xxxx (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. (Emphasis ours.)

In this case, the totality of evidence presented by Noel was not sufficient to sustain a finding that Maribel was psychologically incapacitated. Noels evidence merely established that Maribel refused to have sexual intercourse with him after their marriage, and that she left him after their quarrel when he confronted her about her alleged miscarriage. He failed to prove the root cause of the alleged psychological incapacity and establish the requirements of gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability. As correctly observed by the CA, the report of the psychologist, who concluded that Maribel was suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder traceable to her experiences during childhood, did not establish how the personality disorder incapacitated Maribel from validly assuming the essential obligations of the marriage. Indeed, the same psychologist even testified that Maribel was capable of entering into a marriage except that it would be difficult for her to sustain one. [24] Mere difficulty, it must be stressed, is not the incapacity contemplated by law. The Court emphasizes that the burden falls upon petitioner, not just to prove that private respondent suffers from a psychological disorder, but also that such psychological disorder renders her truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage.[25] Psychological incapacity must be more than just a difficulty, a refusal, or a neglect in the performance of some marital obligations. An

unsatisfactory marriage is not a null and void marriage. As we stated in Marcos v. Marcos:[26]
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. x x x.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 74581 isAFFIRMED and UPHELD. Costs against petitioner.

Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court Manila THIRD DIVISION

ENRIQUE AGRAVIADOR yALUNAN, Petition er,

G.R. No. 170729 Present: CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson, BRION, BERSAMIN, VILLARAMA, JR., and SERENO, JJ. Promulgated: December 8, 2010

versus

ERLINDA AMPAROAGRAVIADOR and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.


x--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION BRION, J.: Enrique Agraviador y Alunan (petitioner) challenges [1] through his petition for review on certiorari the decision dated May 31, 2005[2] and the resolution dated December 6, 2005[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 75207.The challenged decision reversed the resolution[4] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 276, Muntinlupa City, declaring the marriage of the petitioner and Erlinda Amparo-Agraviador (respondent) null and void on the ground of the latters psychological incapacity. The assailed resolution, on the other hand, denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration. Antecedent Facts

The petitioner first met the respondent in 1971 at a beerhouse where the latter worked. The petitioner, at that time, was a 24-year old security guard of the Bureau of Customs, while the respondent was a 17-year old waitress. Their meeting led to a courtship, and they eventually became sweethearts. They often spent nights together at the respondents rented room, and soon entered into a common-law relationship. On May 23, 1973, the petitioner and the respondent contracted marriage in a ceremony officiated by Reverend Juanito Reyes at a church in Tondo, Manila. The petitioners family was apprehensive about this marriage because of the nature of the respondents work and because she came from a broken family. Out of their union, the petitioner and the respondent begot four (4) children, namely: Erisque, Emmanuel, Evelyn, and Eymarey. On March 1, 2001, the petitioner filed with the RTC a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage with the respondent, under Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended.[5] The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 01-081. He alleged that the respondent was psychologically incapacitated to exercise the essential obligations of marriage as she was carefree and irresponsible, and refused to do household chores like cleaning and cooking; stayed away from their house for long periods of time; had an affair with a lesbian; did not take care of their sick child; consulted a witch doctor in order to bring him bad fate; and refused to use the family name Agraviador in her activities. The petitioner likewise claimed that the respondent refused to have sex with him since 1993 because she became very close to a male tenant in their house. In fact, he discovered their love notes to each other, and caught them inside his room several times. The respondent moved to dismiss the petition on the ground that the root cause of her psychological incapacity was not medically identified and alleged in the petition.[6] The RTC denied this motion in its order dated July 2, 2001.[7]

In her answer,[8] the respondent denied that she engaged in extramarital affairs and maintained that it was the petitioner who refused to have sex with her. She claimed that the petitioner wanted to have their marriage annulled because he wanted to marry their former household helper, Gilda Camarin. She added that she was the one who took care of their son at the hospital before he died. The RTC ordered the city prosecutor and/or the Solicitor General to investigate if collusion existed between the parties. [9] The RTC, in its Order of November 20, 2001, allowed the petitioner to present his evidence ex parte.[10] The petitioner, thus, presented testimonial and documentary evidence to substantiate his claims. In his testimony, the petitioner confirmed what he stated in his petition, i.e., that the respondent was carefree, irresponsible, immature, and whimsical; stubbornly did what she wanted; did not stay long in the conjugal dwelling; refused to do household chores; refused to take care of him and their children; and consulted a witch doctor in order to bring bad luck upon him. The petitioner further confirmed that the respondent abandoned their sick child, which led to the latters death. The petitioner further stated that the respondent became very close to a male border of their house; he discovered their love notes to each other, and caught them inside his room several times. The petitioner declared that he filed the petition for nullity because the respondent refused to change; he loves his children and does not want their children to be affected by their mothers conduct. He intimated that he might remarry if it would benefit their children. Aside from his testimony, the petitioner also presented a certified true copy of their marriage contract (Exh. B)[11] and the psychiatric evaluation report (Exh. A)[12] of Dr. Juan Cirilo L. Patac.

In his Psychiatric Evaluation Report, Dr. Patac made the following findings:
REMARKS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Based on the information gathered from Enrique, his son and their helper, the psychological report and the mental status examination, Enrique is found to be psychologically capable to fulfill the essential obligations of marriage. He coped with Erlindas selfish and irresponsible behavior as he dutifully performed what she failed to do for the family. He patiently tried to understand her and exerted every effort to make her realize the harm caused by her neglect to the family. Throughout their marriage, he provided emotional and material support for the family. He engaged in other business endeavors aside from his employment as he maintained to be financially productive. The same data revealed that Erlinda failed to fulfill the essential obligations of marriage. She manifested inflexible maladaptive behavior even at the time before their marriage. She is known to be stubborn and uncaring who did things her way without regard to the feelings of others. She is an irresponsible individual who selfishly ignored and neglected her role as daughter to her parents as wife to Enrique and mother to their children. Before the marriage at a young age of 17, Erlinda defied her parents as she lived alone, rented a room for herself and allowed Enrique to sleep with her. She did not care about the needs of Enrique before and after marriage and she maintained to be so with her children. She abandoned and relegated her duty to her family to their helper. She never stayed long in their house despite pleadings from her children and Enrique. Her irresponsible, uncaring behavior even led to the death of one of their children. Likewise, she does not show concern and ignores a daughter who is presently manifesting behavioral problem. She kept secrets as she never allowed her husband and children know where she stays when shes not at work. She falsified documents as she hid her marital status when she used her maiden surname in her present employment. She is having illicit affairs and is reported to be presently having an affair with a lesbian. Her desire to bring bad fate and death to Enrique through her consultation with a mangkukulam point out her lack of care, love, and respect to Enrique. Erlindas lack of motivation and insight greatly affected her capacity to render love, respect and support to her family. The above data shows that Erlinda is suffering from a Personality Disorder (Mixed Personality Disorder). She has been having this disorder since her adolescence. There is no definite treatment

for this disorder. She is deemed psychologically incapacitated to perform the obligations of marriage. In fairness to Erlinda, she is recommended to undergo the same examination as Enrique underwent.[13]

The RTC Ruling The RTC nullified the marriage of the petitioner and the respondent in its decision of April 26, 2002. It saw merit in the petitioners testimony and Dr. Patacs psychiatric evaluation report, and concluded that:
Without contradiction the recitation by Petitioner and the findings of the doctor show that Respondent is indeed suffering from Mixed Personality Disorder that render her incapable of complying with her marital obligations. Respondents refusal to commit herself to the marriage, her tendencies to avoid a close relationship with Petitioner, preferring to be with her lover and finally abandoning their home for a lesbian, a disregard of social norm, show that she was never prepared for marital commitment in the first place. This incapacity is deeply rooted from her family upbringing with no hope for a cure. Therefore, for the good of society and of the parties themselves, it is best that this marriage between ENRIQUE AGRAVIADOR Y ALUNAN and ERLINDA AMPARO AGRAVIADOR be annulled as if it never took place at all. The Civil Registrar of the City of Manila and the General Civil Registrar, National Census and Statistics Office, East Avenue, Quezon City, are hereby requested to make the necessary correction of the civil record of the marriage between the parties and on their respective civil status. The children ERISQUE AGRAVIADOR, EMMANUEL AGRAVIADOR, EVELYN AGRAVIADOR and EYMAREY AGRAVIADOR will however remain as their legitimate children. It is SO ORDERED.[14]

The CA Decision The Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General, appealed the RTC decision to the CA. The CA, in its decision[15] dated May 31, 2005, reversed and set aside the RTC resolution, and dismissed the petition.

The CA held that Dr. Patacs psychiatric evaluation report failed to establish that the respondents personality disorder was serious, grave and permanent; it likewise did not mention the root cause of her incapacity. The CA further ruled that Dr. Patac had no basis in concluding that the respondents disorder had no definite treatment because he did not subject her to a mental assessment. The CA added that the psychiatric remarks in the Report were nothing but a showcase of respondents character flaws and liabilities. There was no proof of a natal or supervening factor that effectively incapacitated the respondent from accepting and complying with the essential obligations of marriage. If at all, these character flaws may only give rise to a legal separation suit. The petitioner moved to reconsider this decision, but the CA denied his motion in its resolution of December 6, 2005.[16] The Petition and Issues The petitioner now comes to us via the present petition to challenge and seek the reversal of the CA ruling, based on the following arguments:
I. THE EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY [HIM] WAS MORE THAN SUBSTANTIAL TO ESTABLISH THE PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF THE RESPONDENT[;] THE GUIDELINES SET FORTH IN REPUBLIC MOLINA [HAD BEEN] SATISIFIED[;] V.

II. III.

THE ADMISSIBILITY XXX OF THE PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION REPORT XXX STILL STANDS FOR NOT HAVING BEEN CONTESTED XXX BY THE STATE AND/THE RESPONDENT[; and] THE DEGREE OF PROOF REQUIRED IN CIVIL CASES HAD BEEN SATISIFIED[.]

IV.

The issue in this case essentially boils down to whether there is basis to nullify the petitioners marriage to the

respondent on the ground of psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations. The Courts Ruling We resolve to deny the petition for lack of merit, and hold that no sufficient basis exists to annul the marriage, pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code and its related jurisprudence. The totality of evidence presented failed to establish the respondents psychological incapacity The petition for declaration of nullity of marriage is anchored on Article 36 of the Family Code which 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." It introduced the concept of psychological incapacity as a ground for nullity of marriage, although this concept eludes exact definition. The initial common consensus on psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code was that it did not involve a species of vice of consent. Justices Sempio-Diy and Caguioa, both members of the Family Code revision committee that drafted the Code, conceded that the spouse may have given free and voluntary consent to a marriage but was, nonetheless, incapable of fulfilling such rights and obligations. Dr. Arturo 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.[17] In Santos v. Court of Appeals,[18] the Court first 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."[19] 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. We laid down more definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code in Republic v. Court of Appeals[20] (the Molina case) where we said:
(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 non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision. (7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. x x x (8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.

These guidelines incorporate the basic requirements we established in Santos. A later case, Marcos v. Marcos,[21] 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. A later case, Ngo Te v. Yu-Te,[22] declared that it may have been inappropriate for the Court to impose a rigid set of rules, as the one in Molina, in resolving all cases of psychological incapacity. We stated that instead of serving as a guideline, Molinaunintentionally became a straightjacket, forcing all cases involving psychological incapacity to fit into and be bound by it, which is not only contrary to the intention of the law but unrealistic as well because, with respect to psychological incapacity, no case can be considered as on "all fours" with another. Ngo Te, therefore, put into question the applicability of time-tested guidelines set forth inMolina. Ting v. Velez-Ting[23] and the fairly recent case of Suazo v. Suazo[24] squarely met the issue and laid to rest any question regarding the applicability of Molina. In these cases, we clarified that Ngo Te did not abandon Molina; far from abandoning Molina, it simply suggested the relaxation of its stringent requirements. We also explained in Suazo that Ngo Te merely stands for a more flexible approach in considering petitions for declaration of nullity of marriages based on psychological incapacity. Under these established guidelines, we find the totality of the petitioners evidence insufficient to prove the respondents psychological incapacity. a. Petitioners court testimony For clarity, we reproduce the pertinent portions of the petitioners testimony that essentially confirmed what the petition alleged:

Q: A: Q: A:

Out of your marriage with the said respondent, were you blessed with children, and how many? Yes, sir, we were blessed with four (4), two (2) boys and two (2) girls. Where are they now? All grown up with the exception of one who died of pneumonia due to the neglect and fault of my said wife who abandone[d] him at the time of his illness. Is that the reason why you file[d] the instant petition, Mr. Witness? It is only one of the several reasons, Sir. Can you cite these reasons, you mentioned? She appears to be carefree, irresponsible, immature, whimsical and used to impose what she wanted to get, she refused to do household chores, like cooking, caring for the husband and children, used to stay from the conjugal dwelling, initially for weeks, then for months and lately fully abandoned the family house and stay with a lesbian. [sic] At first, I discovered a love note while being so secretive and used to be very close to a male renter in the ground floor of their house and caught them several times alone in his room, thus explaining the reason why she refused to have sex since 1993, up to and until the present time. Lately, we discovered that she used to consult a cult mangkukulam to bring bad fate against the family and death for me.

Q: A: Q: A:

Q: A:

By the way did you give her the chance to change? I gave her but she refused to reform. xxxx

Q: A:

Can you not give a last chance for you to save your marriage? I think I cannot since she does not accept her fault and she does not want to change for the sake of our family.[25]

These exchanges during trial significantly constituted the totality of the petitioners testimony on the respondents supposed psychological or mental malady. We glean from these exchanges the petitioners theory that the respondents psychological incapacity is premised on her refusal or unwillingness to perform certain marital obligations, and a number of unpleasant personality traits such as immaturity, irresponsibility, and unfaithfulness. These acts, in our view, do not rise to the level of psychological incapacity that the law requires, and should be distinguished from the difficulty, if not outright refusal or neglect, in the performance of some marital obligations that characterize some marriages.[26] The intent of the law has been to confine the meaning of psychological incapacity to the most serious cases of personality disorders existing at the time of the marriage clearly demonstrating an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. [27] 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.[28] In the present case, the petitioners testimony failed to establish that the respondents condition is a manifestation of a disordered personality rooted on some incapacitating or debilitating psychological condition that makes her completely unable to discharge the essential marital obligations. If at all, the petitioner merely showed that the respondent had some personality defects that showed their manifestation during the marriage; his testimony sorely lacked details necessary to establish that the respondents defects existed at the inception of the marriage. In addition, the petitioner failed to discuss the gravity of the respondents condition; neither did he mention that the respondents malady was incurable, or if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the respondents means to undertake. The petitioners declarations that the respondent does not accept her fault, does not want to change, and

refused to reform are insufficient to establish a psychological or mental defect that is serious, grave, or incurable as contemplated by Article 36 of the Family Code. In a similar case, Bier v. Bier,[29] we ruled that it was 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 respondent's personality structure that effectively incapacitated him from complying with his essential marital obligations had to be shown. b. Dr. Patacs Psychiatric Evaluation Report The Court finds that Dr. Patacs Psychiatric Evaluation Report fell short in proving that the respondent was psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential marital duties. We emphasize that Dr. Patac did not personally evaluate and examine the respondent; he, in fact, recommended at the end of his Report for the respondent to undergo the same examination [that the petitioner] underwent.[30] Dr. Patac relied only on the information fed by the petitioner, the parties second child, Emmanuel, and household helper. Sarah. Largely, the doctor relied on the information provided by the petitioner. Thus, while his Report can be used as a fair gauge to assess the petitioners own psychological condition (as he was, in fact, declared by Dr. Patac to be psychologically capable to fulfill the essential obligations of marriage), the same statement cannot be made with respect to the respondents condition. The methodology employed simply cannot satisfy the required depth and comprehensiveness of the examination required to evaluate a party alleged to be suffering from a psychological disorder.[31] We do not suggest that a personal examination of the party alleged to be psychologically incapacitated is mandatory. We have confirmed in Marcos v. Marcos that the person sought to be declared psychologically incapacitated must be personally examined by a psychologist as a condition sine qua non to arrive

at such declaration.[32] If a psychological disorder can be proven by independent means, no reason exists why such independent proof cannot be admitted and given credit.[33] No such independent evidence appears on record, however, to have been gathered in this case. In his Report, Dr. Patac attempted to establish the juridical antecedence of the respondents condition by stating that the respondent manifested inflexible maladaptive behavior before marriage, pointing out how the respondent behaved before the marriage the respondent defied her parents and lived alone; rented a room for herself; and allowed the petitioner to sleep with her. These perceived behavioral flaws, to our mind, are insufficient to establish that the incapacity was rooted in the history of the respondent antedating the marriage. Dr. Patac failed to elucidate on the circumstances that led the respondent to act the way she did, for example, why she defied her parents and decided to live alone; why she neglected her obligations as a daughter; and why she often slept with the petitioner. This is an area where independent evidence, such as information from a person intimately related to the respondent, could prove useful. As earlier stated, no such independent evidence was gathered in this case. In the absence of such evidence, it is not surprising why the Psychiatric Report Evaluation failed to explain how and why the respondents so-called inflexible maladaptive behavior was already present at the time of the marriage. Dr. Patacs Psychiatric Evaluation Report likewise failed to prove the gravity or seriousness of the respondents condition.He simply made an enumeration of the respondents purported behavioral defects (as related to him by third persons), and on this basis characterized the respondent to be suffering from mixed personality disorder. In the Background History portion of his Psychiatric Evaluation Report, Dr. Patac mentioned that the respondent employed one of her siblings to do the household chores; did not help in augmenting the familys earnings; belittled the petitioners income; continued her studies despite the petitioners disapproval; seldom stayed at home; became close to a male border; had an affair with a lesbian;

did not disclose the actual date of her departure to Taiwan; threatened to poison the petitioner and their children; neglected and ignored their children; used her maid en name at work; and consulted a witch doctor to bring bad fate to the petitioner. Except for the isolated and unfounded statement that Erlindas lack of motivation and insight greatly affected her capacity to render love, respect and support to the family,[34] there was no other statement regarding the degree of severity of the respondents condition, why and to what extent the disorder is grave, and how it incapacitated her to comply with the duties required in marriage. There was likewise no showing of a supervening disabling factor or debilitating psychological condition that effectively incapacitated the respondent from complying with the essential marital obligations. At any rate, the personality flaws mentioned above, even if true, could only amount to insensitivity, sexual infidelity, emotional immaturity, and irresponsibility, which do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. Interestingly, Dr. Patacs Psychiatric Evaluation Report highlighted only the respondents negative behavioral traits without balancing them with her other qualities. The allegations of infidelity and insinuations of promiscuity, as well as the claim that the respondent refused to engage in sexual intercourse since 1993, of course, came from the petitioner, but these claims were not proven. Even assuming ex gratia argumenti that these accusations were true, the Psychiatric Evaluation Report did not indicate that unfaithfulness or promiscuousness were traits that antedated or existed at the time of marriage. Likewise, the accusation that the respondent abandoned her sick child which eventually led to the latters death appears to be an exaggerated claim in the absence of any specifics and corroboration. On the other hand, the petitioners own questionable traits his flirtatious nature before marriage and his admission that he inflicted physical harm on the respondent every time he got jealous were not pursued. From this perspective, the Psychiatric Evaluation Report appears to be no more than a one-sided

diagnosis against the respondent that we cannot consider a reliable basis to conclusively establish the root cause and the degree of seriousness of her condition. The Psychiatric Evaluation Report likewise failed to adequately explain how Dr. Patac came to the conclusion that the respondents personality disorder had no definite treatment. It did not discuss the concept of mixed personality disorder, i.e., itsclassification, cause, symptoms, and cure, and failed to show how and to what extent the respondent exhibited this disorder in order to create a necessary inference that the respondents condition had no definite treatment or is incurable. A glaring deficiency, to our mind, is the Psychiatric Evaluation Reports failure to support its findings and conclusions with any factual basis. It simply enumerated the respondents perceived behavioral defects, and then associated these traits with mixed personality disorder. We find it unfortunate that Dr. Patac himself was not called on the witness stand to expound on the findings and conclusions he made in his Psychiatric Evaluation Report. It would have aided petitioners cause had he called Dr. Patac to testify. Admittedly, the standards used by the Court in assessing the sufficiency of psychological evaluation reports may be deemed very strict, but these are proper, in view of the principle that any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage and the indissolubility of the marital vinculum.[35] Marriage, an inviolable institution protected by the State, cannot be dissolved at the whim of the parties, especially where the prices of evidence presented are grossly deficient to show the juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability of the condition of the party alleged to be psychologically incapacitated to assume and perform the essential marital duties. The petitioners marriage to the respondent may have 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. We stress that Article 36 of the Family Code contemplates downright incapacity or inability to assume

and fulfill the basic marital obligations, not a mere refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less, ill will, on the part of the errant spouse. It is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the grounds for divorce manifest themselves. The State, fortunately or unfortunately, has not seen it fit to decree that divorce should be available in this country. Neither should an Article 36 declaration of nullity 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, sexual infidelity, abandonment, and the like.[36] Unless the evidence presented clearly reveals a situation where the parties or one of them, by reason of a grave and incurable psychological illness existing at the time the marriage was celebrated, was incapacitated to fulfill the obligations of marital life (and thus could not then have validly entered into a marriage), then we are compelled to uphold the indissolubility of the marital tie. WHEREFORE, in light of all the foregoing, we DENY the petition and AFFIRM the Decision and the Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated May 31, 2005 and December 6, 2005, respectively, in CA-G.R. CV No. 75207. Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION

MYRNA P. ANTONE, Petitioner,

G.R. No. 183824 Present:

-versus-

CORONA,C.J., Chairperson, LEONARDODE CASTRO,* DEL CASTILLO, and ABAD,** PEREZ, JJ. R. Promulgated:

LEO BERONILLA, Respondent.

December 8, 2010 x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x DECISION PEREZ, J.: Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to nullify and set aside the issuances of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 102834, to wit: (a) the Resolution[1] dated 29 April 2008 dismissing the petition for certiorari under Rule 65, which assailed the trial courts Orders[2] dated 20 September 2007 and 6 December 2007 in Criminal Case No. 070907-CFM for Bigamy; and (b) the Resolution[3] dated 18 July 2008 denying the motion for reconsideration of the first resolution. The trial court quashed the Information on the ground that the elements of Bigamy were rendered incomplete after herein respondent presented documents to prove a fact, which the court believed would negate the allegation in the Information that there was a first valid marriage. The evidence presented showed that respondent later obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of the first union following the celebration of a subsequent marriage.

The Antecedents On 12 March 2007, herein petitioner Myrna P. Antone executed an Affidavit-Complaint[4] for Bigamy against Leo R. Beronilla before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay City. She alleged that her marriage with respondent in 1978 had not yet been legally dissolved when the latter contracted a second marriage with one Cecile Maguillo in 1991. On 21 June 2007, the prosecution filed the corresponding Information[5] before the Regional Trial Court, Pasay City. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 07-0907-CFM and raffled to Branch 115. Pending the setting of the case for arraignment, herein respondent moved to quash the Information on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense.[6] He informed the court that his marriage with petitioner was declared null and void by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 16, Naval, Biliran on 26 April 2007;[7] that the decision became final and executory on 15 May 200[7];[8] and that such decree has already been registered with the Municipal Civil Registrar on 12 June 2007.[9] He argued that since the marriage had been declared null and void from the beginning, there was actually no first marriage to speak of. Absent a first valid marriage, the facts alleged in the Information do not constitute the crime of bigamy.[10] In its comment/opposition to the motion,[11] the prosecution, through herein petitioner, maintained that the respondent committed an act which has all the essential requisites of bigamy. The prosecution pointed out that the marriage of petitioner and respondent on 18 November 1978 has not yet been severed when he contracted a second marriage on 16 February 1991, for which reason, bigamy has already been committed before the court declared the first marriage null and void on 27 April 2007.[12] The prosecution also invoked the rulings of the Supreme Court holding that a motion to quash is a hypothetical admission of the facts alleged in the information, and that facts contrary thereto are matters of defense which may be raised only during the presentation of evidence.[13]
[15]

After a hearing on the motion,[14] the court quashed the Information. Applying Morigo v. People,[16] it ruled:
Hence, contrary to what was stated in the Information, accused Beronilla was actually never legally married to Myrna Antone. On this score alone, the first element appears to be missing. Furthermore, the statement in the definition of

Bigamy which reads before the first marriage has been legally dissolved clearly contemplates that the first marriage must at least be annullable or voidable but definitely not void, as in this case. xxx [I]n a similar case, [the Supreme Court] had the occasion to state: The first element of bigamy as a crime requires that the accused must have been legally married. But in this case, legally speaking, the petitioner was never married to Lucia Barrete. Thus, there is no first marriage to speak of. Under the principle of retroactivity of a marriage being declared void ab initio, the two were never married from the beginning. xxx The existence and the validity of the first marriage being an essential element of the crime of bigamy, it is but logical that a conviction for said offense cannot be sustained where there is no first marriage to speak of. xxx[17]

The prosecution, through herein petitioner, moved for reconsideration of the said Order[18] on the ground, among others, that the facts and the attending circumstances in Morigo are not on all fours with the case at bar. It likewise pointed out that, in Mercado v. Tan,[19] this Court has already settled that (a) declaration of the absolute nullity of a marriage is now explicitly required either as a cause of action or a ground for defense.[20] In its Order of 6 December 2007,[21] the court denied the motion for reconsideration stating that Mercado has already been superseded by Morigo. In the interim, in a Petition for Relief from Judgment[22] before the Regional Trial Court of Naval, Biliran, petitioner questioned the validity of the proceedings in the petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage in Civil Case No. B-1290 on 5 October 2007. On 24 March 2008, the court set aside its Decision of 26 April 2007 declaring the marriage of petitioner with respondent null and void, and required herein petitioner (respondent in Civil Case No. B-1290) to file her answer to the complaint.[23] On 21 July 2008, the court DISMISSED the petition for nullity of marriage for failure of herein respondent (plaintiff in Civil Case No. B-1290) to submit his pre-trial brief.[24] Respondent, however, challenged the orders issued by the court before the Court of Appeals.[25] The matter is still pending resolution thereat.[26] Meanwhile, in a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court filed on 26 March 2008 before the Court of Appeals,[27] herein petitioner alleged that the Pasay City trial court acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it dismissed the case of bigamy and denied her motion for reconsideration.

In its Resolution of 29 April 2008, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition stating that:
The present petition xxx is fatally infirm in form and substance for the following reasons: 1. The verification is defective as it does not include the assurance that the allegations in the petition are based on authentic records. 2. Since the petition assails the trial courts dismissal of the criminal information for bigamy filed against private respondent Leo Beronilla, the petition, if at all warranted, should be filed in behalf of the People of the Philippines by the Office of the Solicitor General, being its statutory counsel in all appealed criminal cases. 3. There is a violation of the rule on double jeopardy as the dismissal of the subject criminal case is tantamount to an acquittal based on the trial courts finding that the first essential element of bigamy, which is a first valid marriage contracted by private respondent is wanting. There is no clear showing in the petition that the dismissal was tainted with arbitrariness which violated petitioners right to due process. Notably, petitioner filed her comment/opposition to private respondents motion to quash before the trial court issued its Order dated September 20, 2007 dismissing the information. Hence, if there is no denial of due process, there can be no grave abuse of discretion that would merit the application of the exception to the double jeopardy rule. [28]

On 18 July 2008, the Court of Appeals denied respondents Motion for Reconsideration of the aforequoted Resolution for lack of merit. [29] Hence, this petition.[30] Our Ruling I We are convinced that this petition should be given due course despite the defect in the pleading and the question of legal standing to bring the action. The Rules of Court provides that a pleading required to be verified which lacks a proper verification shall be treated as unsigned pleading.[31]

This, notwithstanding, we have, in a number of cases, opted to relax the rule in order that the ends of justice may be served.[32] The defect being merely formal and not jurisdictional, we ruled that the court may nevertheless order the correction of the pleading, or even act on the pleading if the attending circumstances are such that xxx strict compliance with the rule may be dispensed with in order that the ends of justice xxx may be served. [33] At any rate, a pleading is required to be verified only to ensure that it was prepared in good faith, and that the allegations were true and correct and not based on mere speculations.
[34]

There is likewise no dispute that it is the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) which has the authority to represent the government in a judicial proceeding before the Court of Appeals. The Administrative Code specifically defined its powers and functions to read, among others:
Sec. 35. Powers and Functions. - The Office of the Solicitor General shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. xxx It shall have the following specific powers and functions: (1) Represent the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in all criminal proceedings; represent the Government and its officers in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and all other courts or tribunals in all civil actions and special proceedings in which the Government or any officer thereof in his official capacity is a party.[35]

As an exception to this rule, the Solicitor General is allowed to:


(8) Deputize legal officers of government departments, bureaus, agencies and offices to assist the Solicitor General and appear or represent the Government in cases involving their respective offices, brought before the courts and exercise supervision and control over such legal officers with respect to such cases.[36]

Thus, in Republic v. Partisala,[37] we held that the summary dismissal of an action in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, when not initiated by the Solicitor General, is in order.[38] Not even the appearance of the conformity of the public prosecutor in a petition for certiorari would suffice because the authority of the City Prosecutor or his assistant to represent the People of the Philippines is limited to the proceedings in the trial court.[39]

We took exceptions, however, and gave due course to a number of actions even when the respective interests of the government were not properly represented by the Office of the Solicitor General. In Labaro v. Panay,[40] this Court dealt with a similar defect in the following manner:
It must, however, be stressed that if the public prosecution is aggrieved by any order or ruling of the trial judge in a criminal case, the OSG, and not the prosecutor, must be the one to question the order or ruling before us.[41] xxx Nevertheless, since the challenged order affects the interest of the State or the plaintiff People of the Philippines, we opted not to dismiss the petition on this technical ground. Instead, we required the OSG to comment on the petition, as we had done before in some cases.[42] In light of its Comment, we rule that the OSG has ratified and adopted as its own the instant petition for the People of the Philippines.(Emphasis supplied.)

In Cooperative Development Authority v. Dolefil Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative, Inc.,[43] without requiring the Office of the Solicitor General to file a comment on the petition, this Court determined the merits of the case involving a novel issue on the nature and scope of jurisdiction of the Cooperative Development Authority to settle cooperative disputes as well as the battle between two (2) factions concerning the management of the Dolefil Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative, Inc. (DARBCI) that inevitably threatens the very existence of one of the countrys major cooperatives.[44] And, lest we defeat the ends of justice, we opt to look into the merit of the instant petition even absent the imprimatur of the Solicitor General. After all, for justice to prevail, the scales must balance, for justice is not to be dispensed for the accused alone.[45] To borrow the words of then Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario in another case where the dismissal of a criminal case pending with the trial court was sought:
[T]he task of the pillars of the criminal justice system is to preserve our democratic society under the rule of law, ensuring that all those who [come or are brought to court] are afforded a fair opportunity to present their side[s]. xxx The State, like any other litigant, is entitled to its day in court, and to a reasonable opportunity to present its case.[46]

II We cannot agree with the Court of Appeals that the filing of this petition is in violation of the respondents right against double jeopardy on the theory that he has already been practically acquitted when the trial court quashed the Information. Well settled is the rule that for jeopardy to attach, the following requisites must concur:
(1) there is a complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction; (2) the same is filed before a court of competent jurisdiction; (3) there is a valid arraignment or plea to the charges; and (4) the accused is convicted or acquitted or the case is otherwise dismissed or terminated without his express consent.[47]

The third and fourth requisites are clearly wanting in the instant case as (a) respondent has not yet entered his plea to the charge when he filed the Motion to Quash the Information, and (2) the case was dismissed not merely with his consent but, in fact, at his instance.[48] We reiterate, time and again, that jeopardy does not attach in favor of the accused on account of an order sustaining a motion to quash.[49] More specifically, the granting of a motion to quash anchored on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense is not a bar to another prosecution for the same offense.[50] Thus:
It will be noted that the order sustaining the motion to quash the complaint against petitioner was based on Subsection (a) of Section 2 of Rule 117 of the Rules of Court that the facts charged in the complaint do not constitute an offense. If this is so then the dismissal of said complaint will not be a bar to another prosecution for the same offense, for it is provided in Section 8 of Rule 117 of the Rules of Court [now Section 6 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure] that an order sustaining the motion to quash is not a bar to another prosecution for the same offense unless the motion was based on the grounds specified in Section 2, Subsection[s] (f) and (h) of this rule [now substantially reproduced in Section 3, Subsections (g) and (i) of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure] xxx.[51]

III We now determine the merit of the petition did the trial court act without or in excess of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion when it sustained

respondents motion to quash on the basis of a fact contrary to those alleged in the information? Petitioner maintains that the trial court did so because the motion was a hypothetical admission of the facts alleged in the information and any evidence contrary thereto can only be presented as a matter of defense during trial. Consistent with existing jurisprudence, we agree with the petitioner. We define a motion to quash an Information as
the mode by which an accused assails the validity of a criminal complaint or Information filed against him for insufficiency on its face in point of law, or for defects which are apparent in the face of the Information.[52]

This motion is a hypothetical admission of the facts alleged in the Information,[53] for which reason, the court cannot consider allegations contrary to those appearing on the face of the information.[54] As further elucidated in Cruz, Jr. v. Court of Appeals:[55]
It is axiomatic that a complaint or information must state every single fact necessary to constitute the offense charged; otherwise, a motion to dismiss/quash on the ground that it charges no offense may be properly sustained. The fundamental test in considering a motion to quash on this ground is whether the facts alleged, if hypothetically admitted, will establish the essential elements of the offense as defined in the law. Contrary to the petitioners contention, a reading of the information will disclose that the essential elements of the offense charged are sufficiently alleged. It is not proper therefore to resolve the charges at the very outset, in a preliminary hearing only and without the benefit of a full-blown trial. The issues require a fuller examination. Given the circumstances of this case, we feel it would be unfair to shut off the prosecution at this stage of the proceedings and to dismiss the informations on the basis only of the petitioners evidence, such as [this].[56]

As in the recent case of Los Baos v. Pedro,[57] where we found no merit in respondents allegation that the facts charged do not constitute an offense because the Information duly charged a specific offense and provide[d] the details on how the offense was committed,[58] we see no apparent defect in the allegations in the Information in the case at bar. Clearly, the facts alleged in its accusatory portion, which reads:

That on or about the 16th day of February, 1991, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, LEO R. BERONILLA, having been united in a lawful marriage with one MYRNA A. BERONILLA, which marriage is still in force and subsisting and without having been legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with one Cecile Maguillo, which subsequent marriage of the accused has all the essential requisites for validity.[59]

sufficiently constitute an offense. It contained all the elements of the crime of Bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code hereunder enumerated:
(1) that the offender has been legally married; (2) that the first 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; and (4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.[60]

The documents showing that: (1) the court has decreed that the marriage of petitioner and respondent is null and void from the beginning; and (2) such judgment has already become final and executory and duly registered with the Municipal Civil Registrar of Naval, Biliran are pieces of evidence that seek to establish a fact contrary to that alleged in the Information that a first valid marriage was subsisting at the time the respondent contracted a subsequent marriage. This should not have been considered at all because matters of defense cannot be raised in a motion to quash. Neither do we find a justifiable reason for sustaining the motion to quash even after taking into consideration the established exceptions to the rule earlier recognized by this Court, among others: (1) when the new allegations are admitted by the prosecution;[61] (2) when the Rules so permit, such as upon the grounds of extinction of criminal liability and double jeopardy;[62]and (3) when facts have been established by evidence presented by both parties which destroyed the prima facie truth of the allegations in the information during the hearing on a motion to quash based on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, and it would be pure technicality for the court to close its eyes to said facts and still give due course to the prosecution of the case already shown to be weak even to support possible conviction xxx.[63]

For of what significance would the document showing the belated dissolution of the first marriage offer? Would it serve to prevent the impracticability of proceeding with the trial in accordance with People v. dela Rosa thereby warranting the non-observance of the settled rule that a motion to quash is a hypothetical admission of the facts alleged in the information? We quote:
[W]here in the hearing on a motion to quash predicated on the ground that the allegations of the information do not charge an offense, facts have been brought out by evidence presented by both parties which destroy the prima facie truth accorded to the allegations of the information on the hypothetical admission thereof, as is implicit in the nature of the ground of the motion to quash, it would be pure technicality for the court to close its eyes to said facts and still give due course to the prosecution of the case already shown to be weak even to support possible conviction, and hold the accused to what would clearly appear to be a merely vexatious and expensive trial, on her part, and a wasteful expense of precious time on the part of the court, as well as of the prosecution.[64] (Emphasis supplied.)

We find that there is none. With the submission of the documents showing that the court has declared the first marriage void ab initio, respondent heavily relied on the rulings[65] in People v. Mendoza and Morigo declaring that: (a) a case for bigamy based on a void ab initio marriage will not prosper because there is no need for a judicial decree to establish that a void ab initio marriage is invalid;[66] and (b) a marriage declared void ab initio has retroactive legal effect such that there would be no first valid marriage to speak of after all, which renders the elements of bigamy incomplete.[67] Both principles, however, run contrary to the new provision of the Family Code, which was promulgated by the late President Corazon C. Aquino in 1987, a few years before respondents subsequent marriage was celebrated in 1991. The specific provision, which reads:
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.

was exhaustively discussed in Mercado,[68] where this Court settled the conflicting jurisprudence on the need for a judicial declaration of nullity of the

previous marriage. After establishing that Article 40 is a new provision expressly requiring a judicial declaration of nullity of a prior marriage and examining a long line of cases,[69] this Court, concluded, in essence, that under the Family Code a subsequent judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage is immaterial in a bigamy case because, by then, the crime had already been consummated. Otherwise stated, this Court declared that a person, who contracts a subsequent marriage absent a prior judicial declaration of nullity of a previous one, is guilty of bigamy.[70] Notably, Morigo, was indeed promulgated years after Mercado. Nevertheless, we cannot uphold the Order dated 6 December 2007 of the trial court, which maintained that Morigo has already superseded Mercado. In fact, in Morigo, this Court clearly distinguished the two (2) cases from one another, and explained:
The present case is analogous to, but must be distinguished from Mercado v. Tan. In the latter case, the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage was likewise obtained after the second marriage was already celebrated. xxx It bears stressing though that in Mercado, the first marriage was actually solemnized xxx. Ostensibly, at least, the first marriage appeared to have transpired, although later declared void ab initio. In the instant case, however, no marriage ceremony at all was performed by a duly authorized solemnizing officer. Petitioner and Lucia Barrete merely signed a marriage contract on their own. The mere private act of signing a marriage contract bears no semblance to a valid marriage and thus, needs no judicial declaration of nullity. Such act alone, without more, cannot be deemed to constitute an ostensibly valid marriage for which petitioner might be held liable for bigamy unless he first secures a judicial declaration of nullity before he contracts a subsequent marriage.[71]

The application of Mercado to the cases following Morigo even reinforces the position of this Court to give full meaning to Article 40 of the Family Code. Thus, in 2004, this Court ruled in Tenebro v. Court of Appeals:[72]
Although the judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity retroacts to the date of the celebration of the marriage insofar as the vinculum between the spouses is concerned, xxx said marriage is not without legal effects. Among these effects is that children conceived or born before the judgment of absolute nullity of the marriage shall be considered legitimate. There is therefore a recognitionwritten into the law itself that such a marriage, although void ab initio, may still produce legal

consequences. Among these legal consequences is incurring criminal liability for bigamy. xxx.[73] (Emphasis supplied.)

Finally, in Re: Complaint of Mrs. Corazon S. Salvador against Spouses Noel and Amelia Serafico,[74] this Court pronounced:
In a catena of cases,[75] the 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, reprehensible and immoral. xxx

To conclude, the issue on the declaration of nullity of the marriage between petitioner and respondent only after the latter contracted the subsequent marriage is, therefore, immaterial for the purpose of establishing that the facts alleged in the informationfor Bigamy does not constitute an offense. Following the same rationale, neither may such defense be interposed by the respondent in his motion to quash by way of exception to the established rule that facts contrary to the allegations in the information are matters of defense which may be raised only during the presentation of evidence. All considered, we find that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion when, in so quashing the Information inCriminal Case No. 07-0907CFM, it considered an evidence introduced to prove a fact not alleged thereat disregarding the settled rules that a motion to quash is a hypothetical admission of the facts stated in the information; and that facts not alleged thereat may be appreciated only under exceptional circumstances, none of which is obtaining in the instant petition. WHEREFORE, the Orders dated 20 September 2007 and 6 December 2007 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 115, Pasay City as well as the Resolutions dated 29 April 2008 and 18 July 2008 of the Court of Appeals are hereby SET ASIDE. Criminal Case No. 07-0907-CFM is REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings. SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION

CHERRYL B. DOLINA, Petitioner, Present: - versus -

G.R. No. 182367

CARPIO, J., Chairperson, NACHURA, PERALTA, ABAD, and MENDOZA, JJ. Promulgated:

GLENN D. VALLECERA, Respondent.

December 15, 2010 x --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION
ABAD, J.:
This case is about a mothers claim for temporary support of an unacknowledged child, which she sought in an action for the issuance of a temporary protection order that she brought against the supposed father. The Facts and the Case In February 2008 petitioner Cherryl B. Dolina filed a petition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary protection order against respondent Glenn D. Vallecera before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tacloban City in P.O. 2008-02-07[1] for alleged woman and child abuse under Republic Act (R.A.) 9262.[2] In filling out the blanks in the pro-forma complaint, Dolina added ahandwritten prayer for financial support[3] from Vallecera for their supposed child. She based her prayer on the latters Certificate of Live Birth which listed Vallecera as the childs father. The petition also asked the RTC to order Philippine

Airlines, Valleceras employer, to withhold from his pay such amount of support as the RTC may deem appropriate. Vallecera opposed the petition. He claimed that Dolinas petition was essentially one for financial support rather than for protection against woman and child abuses; that he was not the childs father; that the signature appearing on the childs Certificate of Live Birth is not his; that the petition is a harassment suit intended to force him to acknowledge the child as his and give it financial support; and that Vallecera has never lived nor has been living with Dolina, rendering unnecessary the issuance of a protection order against him. On March 13, 2008[4] the RTC dismissed the petition after hearing since no prior judgment exists establishing the filiation of Dolinas son and granting him the right to support as basis for an order to compel the giving of such support. Dolina filed a motion for reconsideration but the RTC denied it in its April 4, 2008 Order,[5] with an admonition that she first file a petition for compulsory recognition of her child as a prerequisite for support. Unsatisfied, Dolina filed the present petition for review directly with this Court. The Issue Presented The sole issue presented in this case is whether or not the RTC correctly dismissed Dolinas action for temporary protection and denied her application for temporary support for her child. The Courts Ruling Dolina evidently filed the wrong action to obtain support for her child. The object of R.A. 9262 under which she filed the case is the protection and safety of women and children who are victims of abuse or violence.[6] Although the issuance of a protection order against the respondent in the case can include the grant of legal support for the wife and the child, this assumes that both are entitled to a protection order and to legal support. Dolina of course alleged that Vallecera had been abusing her and her child. But it became apparent to the RTC upon hearing that this was not the case since, contrary to her claim, neither she nor her child ever lived with Vallecera. As it turned

out, the true object of her action was to get financial support from Vallecera for her child, her claim being that he is the father. He of course vigorously denied this. To be entitled to legal support, petitioner must, in proper action, first establish the filiation of the child, if the same is not admitted or acknowledged. Since Dolinas demand for support for her son is based on her claim that he is Valleceras illegitimate child, the latter is not entitled to such support if he had not acknowledged him, until Dolina shall have proved his relation to him.[7] The childs remedy is to file through her mother a judicial action against Vallecera for compulsory recognition.[8] If filiation is beyond question, support follows as matter of obligation.[9] In short, illegitimate children are entitled to support and successional rights but their filiation must be duly proved.[10] Dolinas remedy is to file for the benefit of her child an action against Vallecera for compulsory recognition in order to establish filiation and then demand support. Alternatively, she may directly file an action for support, where the issue of compulsory recognition may be integrated and resolved.[11] It must be observed, however, that the RTC should not have dismissed the entire case based solely on the lack of any judicial declaration of filiation between Vallecera and Dolinas child since the main issue remains to be the alleged violence committed by Vallecera against Dolina and her child and whether they are entitled to protection. But of course, this matter is already water under the bridge since Dolina failed to raise this error on review. This omission lends credence to the conclusion of the RTC that the real purpose of the petition is to obtain support from Vallecera. While the Court is mindful of the best interests of the child in cases involving paternity and filiation, it is just as aware of the disturbance that unfounded paternity suits cause to the privacy and peace of the putative fathers legitimate family.[12] Vallecera disowns Dolinas child and denies having a hand in the preparation and signing of its certificate of birth. This issue has to be resolved in an appropriate case.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court DENIES the petition and AFFIRMS the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban Citys Order dated March 13, 2008 that dismissed petitioner Cherryl B. Dolinas action in P.O. 2008-02-07, and Order dated April 4, 2008, denying her motion for reconsideration dated March 28, 2008. SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION
ROSALINO L. MARABLE, Petitioner, G.R. No. 178741 Present: CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson, BRION, BERSAMIN, VILLARAMA, JR., and SERENO, JJ.

- versus -

Promulgated: MYRNA F. MARABLE, Respondent. January 17, 2011 x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: On appeal is the Decision[1] dated February 12, 2007 and Resolution[2] dated July 4, 2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. CV No. 86111 which reversed and set aside the Decision[3] dated January 4, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 72, Antipolo City, in Civil Case No. 01-6302. The RTC had granted petitioners prayer that his marriage to

respondent be declared null and void on the ground that he is psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential obligations of marriage. The facts, as culled from the records, are as follows: Petitioner and respondent met in 1967 while studying at Arellano University. They were classmates but initially, petitioner was not interested in respondent. He only became attracted to her after they happened to sit beside each other in a passenger bus. Petitioner courted respondent and they eventually became sweethearts even though petitioner already had a girl friend. Later, respondent discovered petitioners other relationship and demanded more time and attention from petitioner. Petitioner alleged that he appreciated this gesture like a child longing for love, time and attention. On December 19, 1970, petitioner and respondent eloped and were married in civil rites at Tanay, Rizal before Mayor Antonio C. Esguerra. A church wedding followed on December 30, 1970 at the Chapel of the Muntinlupa Bilibid Prison and their marriage was blessed with five children. As the years went by, however, their marriage turned sour. Verbal and physical quarrels became common occurrences. They fought incessantly and petitioner became unhappy because of it. The frequency of their quarrels increased when their eldest daughter transferred from one school to another due to juvenile misconduct. It became worse still when their daughter had an unwanted teenage pregnancy. The exceedingly serious attention petitioner gave to his children also made things worse for them as it not only spoiled some of them, but it also became another cause for the incessant quarrelling between him and respondent. Longing for peace, love and affection, petitioner developed a relationship with another woman. Respondent learned about the affair, and petitioner promptly terminated it. But despite the end of the short-lived affair, their quarrels aggravated. Also, their business ventures failed. Any amount of respect remaining

between them was further eroded by their frequent arguments and verbal abuses infront of their friends. Petitioner felt that he was unloved, unwanted and unappreciated and this made him indifferent towards respondent. When he could not bear his lot any longer, petitioner left the family home and stayed with his sister in Antipolo City. He gave up all the properties which he and respondent had accumulated during their marriage in favor of respondent and their children. Later, he converted to Islam after dating several women. On October 8, 2001, petitioner decided to sever his marital bonds. On said date, he filed a petition[4] for declaration of nullity of his marriage to respondent on the ground of his psychological incapacity to perform the essential responsibilities of marital life. In his petition, petitioner averred that he came from a poor family and was already exposed to the hardships of farm life at an early age. His father, although responsible and supportive, was a compulsive gambler and womanizer. His father left their family to live with another woman with whom he had seven other children. This caused petitioners mother and siblings to suffer immensely. Thus, petitioner became obsessed with attention and worked hard to excel so he would be noticed. Petitioner further alleged that he supported himself through college and worked hard for the company he joined. He rose from the ranks at Advertising and Marketing Associates, Inc., and became Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Finance Officer therein. But despite his success at work, he alleged that his misery and loneliness as a child lingered as he experienced a void in his relationship with his own family. In support of his petition, petitioner presented the Psychological Report[5] of Dr. Nedy L. Tayag, a clinical psychologist from the National Center for Mental Health. Dr. Tayags report stated that petitioner is suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder, characterized by a pervasive pattern of social deviancy, rebelliousness, impulsivity, self-centeredness, deceitfulness and lack of remorse. The report also revealed that petitioners personality disorder is rooted in deep feelings of

rejection starting from the family to peers, and that his experiences have made him so self-absorbed for needed attention. It was Dr. Tayags conclusion that petitioner is psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations. After trial, the RTC rendered a decision annulling petitioners marriage to respondent on the ground of petitioners psychological incapacity. Upon appeal by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), the CA reversed the RTC decision as follows:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the appeal is GRANTED and the assailed Decision hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the marriage between the parties is declared valid and subsisting. No costs. SO ORDERED.[6]

The CA held that the circumstances related by petitioner are insufficient to establish the existence of petitioners psychological incapacity. The CA noted that Dr. Tayag did not fully explain the root cause of the disorder nor did she give a concrete explanation as to how she arrived at a conclusion as to its gravity or permanence. The appellate court emphasized that the root cause of petitioners psychological incapacity must be medically or clinically identified, sufficiently proven by experts and clearly explained in the decision. In addition, 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 petitioner to assume the essential obligations of marriage. On July 4, 2007, the CA denied petitioners motion for reconsideration. Hence, this appeal. Essentially, petitioner raises the sole issue of whether the CA erred in reversing the trial courts decision.

Petitioner claims that his psychological incapacity to perform his essential marital obligations was clearly proven and correctly appreciated by the trial court. Petitioner relies heavily on the psychological evaluation conducted by Dr. Tayag and quotes the latters findings:
Petitioner had always been hungry for love and affection starting from his family to the present affairs that he [has]. This need had afforded him to find avenues straight or not, just to fulfill this need. He used charm, deceit, lies, violence, [and] authority just so to accom[m]odate and justify his acts. Finally, he is using religions to support his claim for a much better personal and married life which is really out of context. Rebellious and impulsive as he is, emotional instability is apparent that it would be difficult for him to harmonize with life in general and changes. Changes must come from within, it is not purely external. Clinically, petitioners self-absorbed ideals represent the grave, severe, and incurable nature of Antisocial Personality Disorder. Such disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of social deviancy, rebelliousness, impulsivity, self-centeredness, deceitfulness, and lack of remorse. The psychological incapacity of the petitioner is attributed by jurisdictional antecedence as it existed even before the said marital union. It is also profoundly rooted, grave and incurable. The root cause of which is deep feelings of rejection starting from family to peers. This insecure feelings had made him so self-absorbed for needed attention. Carrying it until his marital life. Said psychological incapacity had deeply marred his adjustment and severed the relationship. Thus, said marriage should be declared null and void by reason of the psychological incapacity.[7]

According to petitioner, the uncontradicted psychological report of Dr. Tayag declared that his psychological incapacity is profoundly rooted and has the characteristics of juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability. Moreover, petitioner asserts that his psychological incapacity has been medically identified and sufficiently proven. The State, on the other hand, never presented another psychologist to rebut Dr. Tayags findings. Also, petitioner maintains that the psychological evaluation would show that the marriage failed not solely because of irreconcilable differences between the spouses, but due to petitioners personality disorder which rendered him unable to comply with his marital obligations. To the mind of

petitioner, the assailed decision compelled the parties to continue to live under a non-existent marriage. The Republic, through the OSG, filed a [8] Comment maintaining that petitioner failed to prove his psychological incapacity. The OSG points out that Dr. Tayag failed to explain specifically how she arrived at the conclusion that petitioner suffers from an anti-social personality disorder and that it is grave and incurable. In fact, contrary to his claim, it even appears that petitioner acted responsibly throughout their marriage. Despite financial difficulties, he and respondent had blissful moments together. He was a good father and provider to his children. Thus, the OSG argues that there was no reason to describe petitioner as a self-centered, remorseless, rebellious, impulsive and socially deviant person. Additionally, the OSG contends that since the burden of proof is on petitioner to establish his psychological incapacity, the State is not required to present an expert witness where the testimony of petitioners psychologist was insufficient and inconclusive. The OSG adds that petitioner was not able to substantiate his claim that his infidelity was due to some psychological disorder, as the real cause of petitioners alleged incapacity appears to be his general dissatisfaction with his marriage. At most he was able to prove infidelity on his part and the existence of irreconcilable differences and conflicting personalities. These, however, do not constitute psychological incapacity. Respondent also filed her Comment[9] and Memorandum[10] stressing that psychological incapacity as a ground for annulment of marriage should contemplate downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume the essential marital obligations, not a mere refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will, on the part of the errant spouse. The appeal has no merit.

The appellate court did not err when it reversed and set aside the findings of the RTC for lack of legal and factual bases. Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended, provides:
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 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.[11] These are the disorders that result in the utter insensitivity or inability of the afflicted party to give meaning and significance to the marriage he or she has contracted.[12] Psychological incapacity must 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.
[13]

In Republic v. Court of Appeals,[14] the Court laid down the guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36. The Court held,
(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. (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. (3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage. (4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. (5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of 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. (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. (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.

In the instant case, petitioner completely relied on the psychological examination conducted by Dr. Tayag on him to establish his psychological incapacity. The result of the examination and the findings of Dr. Tayag however, are insufficient to establish petitioner's psychological incapacity. In cases of annulment of marriage based on Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended, the psychological illness and its root cause must be proven to exist from the inception of the marriage. Here, the appellate court correctly ruled that the report of Dr. Tayag failed to explain the root cause of petitioners alleged psychological incapacity. The evaluation of Dr. Tayag merely made a general conclusion that petitioner is suffering from an Anti-social Personality Disorder but there was no factual basis stated for the finding that petitioner is a socially deviant person, rebellious, impulsive, self-centered and deceitful. As held in the case of Suazo v. Suazo,[15] the presentation of expert proof in cases for declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity presupposes a thorough and an indepth assessment of the parties by the psychologist or expert, for a conclusive diagnosis of a grave, severe and incurable presence of psychological incapacity. Here, the evaluation of Dr. Tayag falls short of the required proof which the Court can rely on as basis to declare as void petitioners marriage to respondent. In fact, we are baffled by Dr. Tayags evaluation which became the trial courts basis for concluding that petitioner was psychologically

incapacitated, for the report did not clearly specify the actions of petitioner which are indicative of his alleged psychological incapacity. More importantly, there was no established link between petitioners acts to his alleged psychological incapacity. It is indispensable that the evidence must show a link, medical or the like, between the acts that manifest psychological incapacity and the psychological disorder itself.[16] For sure, the spouses frequent marital squabbles[17] and differences in handling finances and managing their business affairs, as well as their conflicts on how to raise their children, are not manifestations of psychological incapacity which may be a ground for declaring their marriage void. Petitioner even admitted that despite their financial difficulties, they had happy moments together. Also, the records would show that the petitioner acted responsibly during their marriage and in fact worked hard to provide for the needs of his family, most especially his children. Their personal differences do not reflect a personality disorder tantamount to psychological incapacity. Petitioner tried to make it appear that his family history of having a womanizer for a father, was one of the reasons why he engaged in extra-marital affairs during his marriage. However, it appears more likely that he became unfaithful as a result of a general dissatisfaction with his marriage rather than a psychological disorder rooted in his personal history. His tendency to womanize, assuming he had such tendency, was not shown to be due to causes of a psychological nature that is grave, permanent and incurable. In fact, the records show that when respondent learned of his affair, he immediately terminated it. In short, petitioners marital infidelity does not appear to be symptomatic of a grave psychological disorder which rendered him incapable of performing his spousal obligations. It has been held in various cases that sexual infidelity, by itself, is not sufficient proof that petitioner is suffering from psychological incapacity. [18] It must be shown that the acts of unfaithfulness are manifestations of a disordered personality which make petitioner completely unable to discharge the essential [19] obligations of marriage. That not being the case with petitioner,

his claim of psychological incapacity must fail. It bears stressing that psychological incapacity must be more than just a difficulty, refusal or neglect in the performance of some marital obligations. Rather, it is essential that the concerned party was incapable of doing so, due to some psychological illness existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage. In Santos v. Court of Appeals,[20] the intention of the law is 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.[21] All told, we find that the CA did not err in declaring the marriage of petitioner and respondent as valid and subsisting. The totality of the evidence presented is insufficient to establish petitioners psychological incapacity to fulfill his essential marital obligations. WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED for lack of merit. The February 12, 2007 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 86111 and its Resolution dated July 4, 2007 are hereby AFFIRMED. No costs. SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION ALAIN M. DIO , Petitioner, Present: G.R. No. 178044

CARPIO, J., Chairperson, - versus NACHURA, PERALTA, ABAD, and MENDOZA, JJ. MA. CARIDAD L. DIO, Respondent. Promulgated: January 19, 2011

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the 18 October 2006 Decision and the 12 March 2007 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Las Pias City, Branch 254 (trial court) in Civil Case No. LP-01-0149.
1 2 3

The Antecedent Facts

Alain M. Dio (petitioner) and Ma. Caridad L. Dio (respondent) were childhood friends and sweethearts. They started living together in 1984 until they decided to separate in 1994. In 1996, petitioner and respondent decided to live together again. On 14 January 1998, they were married before Mayor Vergel Aguilar of Las Pias City.

On 30 May 2001, petitioner filed an action for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage against respondent, citing psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. Petitioner alleged that respondent failed in her marital obligation to give love and support to him, and had abandoned her responsibility to the family, choosing instead to go on shopping sprees and gallivanting with her friends that depleted the family assets. Petitioner further alleged that respondent was not faithful, and would at times become violent and hurt him.

Extrajudicial service of summons was effected upon respondent who, at the time of the filing of the petition, was already living in the United States of America. Despite receipt of the summons, respondent did not file an answer to the petition within the reglementaryperiod. Petitioner later learned that respondent filed a petition for divorce/dissolution of her marriage with petitioner, which was granted by the Superior Court of California on 25 May 2001. Petitioner also learned that on 5 October 2001, respondent married a certain Manuel V. Alcantara.

On 30 April 2002, the Office of the Las Pias prosecutor found that there were no indicative facts of collusion between the parties and the case was set for trial on the merits.

Dr. Nedy L. Tayag (Dr. Tayag), a clinical psychologist, submitted a psychological report establishing that respondent was suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder which was deeply ingrained in her system since her early formative years. Dr. Tayag found that respondents disorder was long-lasting and by nature, incurable. In its 18 October 2006 Decision, the trial court granted the petition on the ground that respondent was psychologically incapacited to comply with the essential marital obligations at the time of the celebration of the marriage.

The Decision of the Trial Court

The trial court ruled that based on the evidence presented, petitioner was able to establish respondents psychological incapacity. The trial court ruled that even without Dr. Tayags psychological report, the allegations in the complaint, substantiated in the witness stand, clearly made out a case of psychological incapacity against respondent. The trial court found that respondent committed acts which hurt and embarrassed petitioner and the rest of the family, and that respondent failed to observe mutual love, respect and fidelity required of her under Article 68 of the Family Code. The trial court also ruled that respondent abandoned petitioner when she obtained a divorce abroad and married another man.

The dispositive portion of the trial courts decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Declaring the marriage between plaintiff ALAIN M. DIO and defendant MA. CARIDAD L. DIO on January 14, 1998, and all its effects under the law, as NULL and VOID from the beginning; and 2. Dissolving the regime of absolute community of property.

A DECREE OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF MARRIAGE shall only be issued upon compliance with Article[s] 50 and 51 of the Family Code.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the parties, the Office of the Solicitor General, Office of the City Prosecutor, Las Pias City and the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Las Pias City, for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.

Petitioner filed a motion for partial reconsideration questioning the dissolution of the absolute community of property and the ruling that the decree of annulment shall only be issued upon compliance with Articles 50 and 51 of the Family Code.

In its 12 March 2007 Order, the trial court partially granted the motion and modified its 18 October 2006 Decision as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:

1) Declaring the marriage between plaintiff ALAIN M. DIO and defendant MA. CARIDAD L. DIO on January 14, 1998, and all its effects under the law, as NULL and VOID from the beginning; and

2) Dissolving the regime of absolute community of property.

A DECREE OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF MARRIAGE shall be issued after liquidation, partition and distribution of the parties properties under Article 147 of the Family Code.

Let copies of this Order be furnished the parties, the Office of the Solicitor General, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Las Pias City and the Local Civil Registrar of Las Pias City, for their information and guidance.
5

Hence, the petition before this Court. The Issue The sole issue in this case is whether the trial court erred when it ordered that a decree of absolute nullity of marriage shall only be issued after liquidation, partition, and distribution of the parties properties under Article 147 of the Family Code. The Ruling of this Court

The petition has merit. Petitioner assails the ruling of the trial court ordering that a decree of absolute nullity of marriage shall only be issued after liquidation, partition, and distribution of the parties properties under Article 147 of the Family Code. Petitioner argues that Section 19(1) of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Null Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (the Rule) does not apply to Article 147 of the Family Code.
6

We agree with petitioner.

The Court has ruled in Valdes v. RTC, Branch 102, Quezon City that in a void marriage, regardless of its cause, the property relations of the parties during the period of cohabitation is governed either by Article 147 or Article 148 of the Family Code. Article 147 of the Family Code applies to union of parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by any impediment to contract marriage, but whose
7

marriage is nonetheless void, such as petitioner and respondent in the case before the Court.
8

Article 147 of the Family Code provides:

Article 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on coownership.

In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the formers efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.

Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the property acquired during cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of the other, until after the termination of their cohabitation.

When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in the co-ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of the common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation.

For Article 147 of the Family Code to apply, the following elements must be present:

1. The man and the woman must be capacitated to marry each other; 2. They live exclusively with each other as husband and wife; and 3. Their union is without the benefit of marriage, or their marriage is void.
9

All these elements are present in this case and there is no question that Article 147 of the Family Code applies to the property relations between petitioner and respondent.

We agree with petitioner that the trial court erred in ordering that a decree of absolute nullity of marriage shall be issued only after liquidation, partition and distribution of the parties properties under Article 147 of the Family Code. The ruling has no basis because Section 19(1) of the Rule does not apply to cases governed under Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code. Section 19(1) of the Rule provides:

Sec. 19. Decision. - (1) If the court renders a decision granting the petition, it shall declare therein that the decree of absolute nullity or decree of annulment shall be issued by the court only after compliance with Articles 50 and 51 of the Family Code as implemented under the Rule on Liquidation, Partition and Distribution of Properties.

The pertinent provisions of the Family Code cited in Section 19(1) of the Rule are:

Article 50. The effects provided for in paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and (5) of Article 43 and in Article 44 shall also apply in proper cases to marriages which are declared void ab initio or annulled by final judgment under Articles 40 and 45.
10

The final judgment in such cases 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. All creditors of the spouses as well as of the absolute community of the conjugal partnership shall be notified of the proceedings for liquidation. In the partition, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated, shall be adjudicated in accordance with the provisions of Articles 102 and 129. Article 51. In said partition, the value of the presumptive legitimes of all common children, computed as of the date of the final judgment of the trial court, shall be delivered in cash, property or sound securities, unless the parties, by mutual agreement judicially approved, had already provided for such matters.

The children of their guardian, or the trustee of their property, may ask for the enforcement of the judgment. The delivery of the presumptive legitimes herein prescribed shall in no way prejudice the ultimate successional rights of the children accruing upon the death of either or both of the parents; but the value of the properties already received under the decree of annulment or absolute nullity shall be considered as advances on their legitime.

It is clear from Article 50 of the Family Code that Section 19(1) of the Rule applies only to marriages which are declared void ab initioor annulled by final judgment under Articles 40 and 45 of the Family Code. In short, Article 50 of the Family Code does not apply to marriages which are declared void ab initio under Article 36 of the Family Code, which should be declared void without waiting for the liquidation of the properties of the parties.

Article 40 of the Family Code contemplates a situation where a second or bigamous marriage was contracted. Under Article 40, [t]he 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. Thus we ruled:

x x x 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 a previous marriage void.
11

Article 45 of the Family Code, on the other hand, refers to voidable marriages, meaning, marriages which are valid until they are set aside by final judgment of a competent court in an action for annulment. In both instances under Articles 40 and 45, the marriages are governed either by absolute community of property or conjugal partnership of gains unless the parties agree to a complete separation of property in a marriage settlement entered into before the marriage. Since the property relations of the parties is governed by absolute community of property or conjugal partnership of gains, there is a need to liquidate, partition and distribute the properties before a decree of annulment could be issued. That is not the case for annulment of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code because the marriage is governed by the ordinary rules on co-ownership.
12 13 14

In this case, petitioners marriage to respondent was declared void under Article 36 of the Family Code and not under Article 40 or 45. Thus, what governs the liquidation of properties owned in common by petitioner and respondent are the rules on co-ownership. InValdes, the Court ruled that the property relations of parties in a void marriage during the period of cohabitation is governed either by Article 147 or Article 148 of the Family Code. The rules on co-ownership apply and the properties of the spouses should be liquidated in accordance with the Civil Code provisions on co-ownership. Under Article 496 of the Civil Code, [p]artition may be made by agreement between the parties or by judicial proceedings. x x x. It is not necessary to liquidate the properties of the spouses in the same proceeding for declaration of nullity of marriage.
15 16

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision of the trial court with the MODIFICATION that the decree of absolute nullity of the marriage shall be issued upon finality of the trial courts decision without waiting for the liquidation, partition, and distribution of the parties properties under Article 147 of the Family Code. SO ORDERED.

Supreme Court
Manila
THIRD DIVISION REPUBLIC PHILIPPINES, OF THE G.R. No. 189476 Present:

Petitioner,

CARPIO MORALES, J., Chairperson, - versus BRION, BERSAMIN, and VILLARAMA, JR., and JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON SERENO, JJ. COSETENG-MAGPAYO (A.K.A. JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON MARQUEZ-LIM Promulgated: COSETENG), Respondent. February 2, 2011 x----------- ---------------------------------------x

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.: Born in Makati on September 9, 1972, Julian Edward Emerson Coseteng Magpayo (respondent) is the son of Fulvio M. Magpayo Jr. and Anna Dominique Marquez-Lim Coseteng who, as respondents certificate of live birth[1] shows, contracted marriage on March 26, 1972. Claiming, however, that his parents were never legally married, respondent filed on July 22, 2008 at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City a Petition to change his name to Julian Edward Emerson Marquez Lim Coseteng. The petition, docketed as SPP No. Q-0863058, was entitled IN RE PETITION FOR CHANGE OF NAME OF JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON COSETENG MAGPAYO TO JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON MARQUEZ-LIM COSETENG. In support of his petition, respondent submitted a certification from the National Statistics Office stating that his mother Anna Dominique does not appear in [its] National Indices of Marriage.[2] Respondent also submitted his academic records from elementary up to college[3] showing that he carried the surname Coseteng, and the birth certificate of his child where Coseteng appears as his surname.[4] In the 1998, 2001 and 2004 Elections, respondent ran and was elected as Councilor of Quezon Citys 3rdDistrict using the name JULIAN M.L. COSETENG.[5] On order of Branch 77 of the Quezon City RTC,[6] respondent amended his petition by alleging therein compliance with the 3-year residency requirement under Section 2, Rule 103 of the Rules of Court.[7] The notice setting the petition for hearing on November 20, 2008 was published in the newspaper Broadside in its issues of October 31-November 6, 2008, November 7-13, 2008, and November 14-20, 2008.[8] And a copy of the notice was furnished the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). No opposition to the petition having been filed, an order of general default was entered by the trial court which then allowed respondent to present evidence ex parte.[9]

By Decision of January 8, 2009,[10] the trial court granted respondents petition and directed the Civil Registrar of Makati Cityto:
1. Delete the entry March 26, 1972 in Item 24 for DATE AND PLACE OF MARRIAGE OF PARTIES [in herein respondents Certificate of live Birth]; 2. Correct the entry MAGPAYO in the space for the Last Name of the [respondent] to COSETENG; 3. Delete the entry COSETENG in the space for Middle Name of the [respondent]; and 4. Delete the entry Fulvio Miranda Magpayo, Jr. in the space for FATHER of the [respondent] (emphasis and underscoring supplied; capitalization in the original)

The Republic of the Philippines (Republic) filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the trial court by Order of July 2, 2009, [11] hence, it, thru the OSG, lodged the present petition for review to the Court on pure question of law. The Republic assails the decision in this wise:
I. . . . THE PETITION FOR CHANGE OF NAMEINVOLVES THE CHANGE OF [RESPONDENTS] CIVIL STATUS FROM LEGITIMATE TO ILLEGITIMATE AND, THEREFORE, SHOULD BE MADE THROUGH APPROPRIATE ADVERSARIAL PROCEEDINGS THE TRIAL COURT EXCEEDED ITS JURISDICTION WHEN IT DIRECTED THE DELETION OF THE NAME OF RESPONDENTS FATHER FROM HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE.[12] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

II.

The Republic contends that the deletion of the entry on the date and place of marriage of respondents parents from his birth certificate has the effect of changing his civil status from legitimate to illegitimate, hence, any change in civil status of a person must be effected through an appropriate adversary proceeding.
[13]

The Republic adds that by ordering the deletion of respondents parents date of marriage and the name of respondents father from the entries in respondents birth certificate,[14] the trial court exceeded its jurisdiction, such order not being in accord with respondents prayer reading:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed that the Honorable Court issue an order allowing the change of name of petitioner from JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON COSETENG MAGPAYO to JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON MARQUEZ-LIM COSETENG, and that the Honorable Court order the Local Civil Registrar and all other relevant government agencies to reflect the said change of name in their records.
[15]

Petitioner prays for other reliefs deemed proper under the premises. (underscoring supplied)

Respondent counters that the proceeding before the trial court was adversarial in nature. He cites the serving of copies of the petition and its annexes upon the Civil Registrar of Makati, the Civil Registrar General, and the OSG; the posting of copies of the notice of hearing in at least four public places at least ten days before the hearing; the delegation to the OSG by the City Prosecutor of Quezon City to appear on behalf of the Republic; the publication of the notice of hearing in a newspaper of general circulation for three consecutive weeks; and the fact that no oppositors appeared on the scheduled hearing.[16] The petition is impressed with merit. A person can effect a change of name under Rule 103 (CHANGE OF NAME) using valid and meritorious grounds including (a) when the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (b) when the change results as a legal consequence such as legitimation; (c) when the change will avoid confusion; (d) when one has continuously used and been known since childhood by a Filipino name, and was unaware of alien parentage; (e) a sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudicing anybody; and (f) when the surname causes embarrassment and there is no showing that the desired change of name was for a fraudulent purpose or that the change of name would prejudice public interest. [17] Respondents reason for changing his name cannot be considered as one of, or analogous to, recognized grounds, however.

The present petition must be differentiated from Alfon v. Republic of the Philippines.[18] In Alfon, the Court allowed the therein petitioner, Estrella Alfon, to use the name that she had been known since childhood in order to avoid confusion. Alfon did not deny her legitimacy, however. She merely sought to use the surname of her mother which she had been using since childhood. Ruling in her favor, the Court held that she was lawfully entitled to use her mothers surname, adding that the avoidance of confusion was justification enough to allow her to do so. In the present case, however, respondent denies his legitimacy. The change being sought in respondents petition goes so far as to affect his legal status in relation to his parents. It seeks to change his legitimacy to that of illegitimacy. Rule 103 then would not suffice to grant respondents supplication. Labayo-Rowe v. Republic[19] categorically holds that changes which may affect the civil status from legitimate to illegitimate. . . are substantial and controversial alterations which can only be allowed after appropriate adversary proceedings . . . Since respondents desired change affects his civil status from legitimate to illegitimate, Rule 108 applies. It reads:
SECTION 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 [RTC] of the province where the corresponding civil registry is located. xxxx 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. (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

Rule 108 clearly directs that a petition which concerns ones civil status should be filed in the civil registry in which the entry is sought to be cancelled or corrected that of Makati in the present case, and all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby should be made parties to the proceeding. As earlier stated, however, the petition of respondent was filed not in Makati where his birth certificate was registered but inQuezon City. And as the above-mentioned title of the petition filed by respondent before the RTC shows, neither the civil registrar of Makati nor his father and mother were made parties thereto.

Respondent nevertheless cites Republic v. Capote[20] in support of his claim that his change of name was effected through an appropriate adversary proceeding. Republic v. Belmonte,[21] illuminates, however:
The procedure recited in Rule 103 regarding change of name and in Rule 108 concerning the cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry are separate and distinct. They may not be substituted one for the other for the sole purpose of expediency. To hold otherwise would render nugatory the provisions of the Rules of Court allowing the change of ones name or the correction of entries in the civil registry only upon meritorious grounds. . . . (emphasis, capitalization and underscoring supplied)

Even assuming arguendo that respondent had simultaneously availed of these two statutory remedies, respondent cannot be said to have sufficiently complied with Rule 108. For, as reflected above, aside from improper venue, he failed to implead the civil registrar of Makati and all affected parties as respondents in the case. Republic v. Labrador[22] mandates that a petition for a substantial correction or change of entries in the civil registry should have as respondents the civil registrar, as well as all other persons who have or claim to have any interest that would be affected thereby. It cannot be gainsaid that change of status of a child in relation to his parents is a substantial correction or change of entry in the civil registry.

Labayo-Rowe[23] highlights the necessity of impleading indispensable parties in a petition which involves substantial and controversial alterations. In that case, the therein petitioner Emperatriz Labayo-Rowe (Emperatriz) filed a petition for the correction of entries in the birth certificates of her children, Vicente Miclat, Jr. and Victoria Miclat, in the Civil Registry of San Fernando, Pampanga. Emperatriz alleged that her name appearing in the birth certificates is Beatriz, which is her nickname, but her full name is Emperatriz; and her civil status appearing in the birth certificate of her daughter Victoria as married on 1953 Bulan are erroneous because she was not married to Vicente Miclat who was the one who furnished the data in said birth certificate. The trial court found merit in Emperatrizs petition and accordingly directed the local civil registrar to change her name appearing in her childrens birth certificates from Beatriz to Emperatriz; and to correct her civil status in Victorias birth certificate from married to single and the date and place of marriage to no marriage. On petition before this Court after the Court of Appeals found that the order of the trial court involved a question of law, the Court nullified the trial courts order directing the change of Emperatriz civil status and the filiation of her child Victoria in light of the following observations:
x x x x Aside from the Office of the Solicitor General, all other indispensable parties should have been made respondents. They include not only the declared father of the child but the child as well, together with the paternal grandparents, if any, as their hereditary rights would be adversely affected thereby. All other persons who may be affected by the change should be notified or represented. The truth is best ascertained under an adversary system of justice. The right of the child Victoria to inherit from her parents would be substantially impaired if her status would be changed from legitimate to illegitimate. Moreover, she would be exposed to humiliation and embarrassment resulting from the stigma of an illegitimate filiation that she will bear thereafter. The fact that the notice of hearing of the petition was published in a newspaper of general circulation and notice thereof was served upon the State will not change the nature of the proceedings taken. Rule 108, like all the other provisions of the Rules of Court, was promulgated by the Supreme Court pursuant to its rule-making authority under Section 13, Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution, which directs that such rules shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive rights. If Rule 108 were to be extended beyond innocuous or harmless changes or corrections of errors which are

visible to the eye or obvious to the understanding, so as to comprehend substantial and controversial alterations concerning citizenship, legitimacy of paternity or filiation, or legitimacy of marriage, without observing the proper proceedings as earlier mentioned, said rule would thereby become an unconstitutional exercise which would tend to increase or modify substantive rights. This situation is not contemplated under Article 412 of the Civil Code.[24] (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

As for the requirement of notice and publication, Rule 108 provides:


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. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

A reading of these related provisions readily shows that Rule 108 clearly mandates two sets of notices to different potential oppositors. The first notice is that given to the persons named in the petition and the second (which is through publication) is that given to other persons who are not named in the petition but nonetheless may be considered interested or affected parties, such as creditors. That two sets of notices are mandated under the above-quoted Section 4 is validated by the subsequent Section 5, also above-quoted, which provides for two periods (for the two types of potential oppositors) within which to file an opposition (15 days from notice or from the last date of publication). This is the overriding principle laid down in Barco v. Court of Appeals. In that case, Nadina Maravilla (Nadina) filed a petition for correction of entries in the birth certificate of her daughter June from June Salvacion Maravilla to June Salvacion Gustilo, Armando Gustilo being, according to Nadina, her daughters
[25]

real father. Gustilo in fact filed before the trial court aCONSTANCIA wherein he acknowledged June as his daughter. The trial court granted the petition. After Gustilo died, his son Jose Vicente Gustilo filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for annulment of the Order of the trial court granting the change of Junes family name to Gustilo. Milagros Barco (Barco), natural guardian of her minor daughter Mary Joy Ann Gustilo, filed before the appellate court a motion for intervention, alleging that Mary Joy had a legal interest in the annulment of the trial courts Order as Mary Joy was, by Barcos claim, also fathered by Gustilo. The appellate court dismissed the petition for annulment and complaint-inintervention. On appeal by Barco, this Court ruled that she should have been impleaded in Nadinas petition for correction of entries of the birth certificate of Mary Joy. But since a petitioner, like Nadina, is not expected to exhaustively identify all the affected parties, the subsequent publication of the notice cured the omission of Barco as a party to the case. Thus the Court explained:
Undoubtedly, Barco is among the parties referred to in Section 3 of Rule 108. Her interest was affected by the petition for correction, as any judicial determination that June was the daughter of Armando would affect her wards share in the estate of her father. It cannot be established whether Nadina knew of Mary Joys existence at the time she filed the petition for correction. Indeed, doubt may always be cast as to whether a petitioner under Rule 108 would know of all the parties whose interests may be affected by the granting of a petition. For example, a petitioner cannot be presumed to be aware of all the legitimate or illegitimate offsprings of his/her spouse or paramour. x x x x. xxxx The purpose precisely of Section 4, Rule 108 is to bind the whole world to the subsequent judgment on the petition. The sweep of the decision would cover even parties who should have been impleaded under Section 3, Rule 108 but were inadvertently left out. x x x x.[26] (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

Meanwhile, in Republic v. Kho,[27] Carlito Kho (Carlito) and his siblings named the civil registrar as the sole respondent in the petition they filed for the correction of entries in their respective birth certificates in the civil registry of Butuan City, and correction of entries in the birth certificates of Carlitos minor children. Carlito and his siblings requested the correction in their birth certificates of the citizenship of their mother Epifania to Filipino, instead of Chinese, and the deletion of the word married opposite the phrase Date of marriage of parents because their parents Juan and Epifania were not married. And Carlito requested the correction in the birth certificates of their children of his and his wifes date of marriage to reflect the actual date of their marriage as appearing in their marriage certificate. In the course of the hearing of the petition, Carlito also sought the correction of the name of his wife from Maribel to Marivel. The Khos mother Epifania took the witness stand where she declared that she was not married to Juan who died before the filing of the Khos petition. The trial court granted the petition. On the issue of whether the failure to implead Marivel and the Khos parents rendered the trial of the petition short of the required adversary proceedings and the trial courts judgment void, this Court held that when all the procedural requirements under Rule 108 are followed, the publication of the notice of hearing cures the failure to implead an indispensable party. In so ruling, the Court noted that the affected parties were already notified of the proceedings in the case since the petitioner-siblings Khos were the ones who initiated the petition respecting their prayer for correction of their citizenship, and Carlito respecting the actual date of his marriage to his wife; and, with respect to the Khos petition for change of their civil status from legitimate to illegitimate, their mother Epifania herself took the witness stand declaring that she was not married to their father. What is clear then in Barco and Kho is the mandatory directive under Section 3 of Rule 108 to implead the civil registrar andthe parties who would naturally and legally be affected by the grant of a petition for correction or cancellation of entries. Non-impleading, however, as party-respondent of one who is inadvertently left out or is not established to be known by the petitioner to be affected by the grant of the petition or actually participates in the proceeding is notified through publication. IN FINE, when a petition for cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register involves substantial and controversialalterations including those on

citizenship, legitimacy of paternity or filiation, or legitimacy of marriage, a strict compliance with the requirements of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is mandated. WHEREFORE, the petition is, in light of the foregoing discussions, GRANTED. The January 8, 2009 Decision of Branch 77 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in SP Proc. No. Q-0863058 is NULLIFIED.

Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court Manila


FIRST DIVISION JOSE REYNALDO OCHOSA, Petitioner, B. G.R. No. 167459 Present: CORONA, C.J., Chairperson, VELASCO, JR., LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, DEL CASTILLO, and PEREZ, JJ. Promulgated: BONA J. ALANO REPUBLIC OF PHILIPPINES, Respondents. and THE January 26, 2011

- versus -

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x DECISION LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to set aside the Decision[1] dated October 11, 2004 as well as the Resolution[2] dated March 10, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 65120, which reversed and set aside the Decision[3] dated January 11, 1999 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 140 in Civil Case No. 97-2903. In the said January 11, 1999 Decision, the trial court granted petitioner Jose Reynaldo Ochosas (Jose) petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage between him and private respondent Bona J. Alano (Bona). The relevant facts of this case, as outlined by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:
It appears that Jose met Bona in August 1973 when he was a young lieutenant in the AFP while the latter was a seventeen-year-old first year college drop-out. They had a whirlwind romance that culminated into sexual intimacy and eventual marriage on 27 October 1973 before the Honorable Judge Cesar S. Principe in Basilan. The couple did not acquire any property. Neither did they incur any debts. Their union produced no offspring. In 1976, however, they found an abandoned and neglected one-year-old baby girl whom they later registered as their daughter, naming her Ramona Celeste Alano Ochosa. During their marriage, Jose was often assigned to various parts of the Philippine archipelago as an officer in the AFP. Bona did not cohabit with him in his posts, preferring to stay in her hometown of Basilan. Neither did Bona visit him in his areas of assignment, except in one (1) occasion when Bona stayed with him for four (4) days. Sometime in 1985, Jose was appointed as the Battalion Commander of the Security Escort Group. He and Bona, along with

Ramona, were given living quarters at Fort Bonifacio, Makati City where they resided with their military aides. In 1987, Jose was charged with rebellion for his alleged participation in the failed coup detat. He was incarcerated in Camp Crame. It appears that Bona was an unfaithful spouse. Even at the onset of their marriage when Jose was assigned in various parts of the country, she had illicit relations with other men. Bona apparently did not change her ways when they lived together at Fort Bonifacio; she entertained male visitors in her bedroom whenever Jose was out of their living quarters. On one occasion, Bona was caught by Demetrio Bajet y Lita, a security aide, having sex with Joses driver, Corporal Gagarin. Rumors of Bonas sexual infidelity circulated in the military community. When Jose could no longer bear these rumors, he got a military pass from his jail warden and confronted Bona. During their confrontation, Bona admitted her relationship with Corporal Gagarin who also made a similar admission to Jose. Jose drove Bona away from their living quarters. Bona left with Ramona and went to Basilan. In 1994, Ramona left Bona and came to live with Jose. It is Jose who is currently supporting the needs of Ramona. Jose filed a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage, docketed as Civil Case No. 97-2903 with the RTC of Makati City, Branch 140, seeking to nullify his marriage to Bona on the ground of the latters psychological incapacity to fulfill the essential obligations of marriage. Summons with a copy of the petition and its annexes were duly served upon Bona who failed to file any responsive pleading during the reglementary period. Pursuant to the order of the trial court, the Public Prosecutor conducted an investigation to determine whether there was collusion between the parties. Said prosecutor submitted a report that she issued a subpoena to both parties but only Jose appeared; hence, it can not be reasonably determined whether or not there was collusion between them. Trial on the merits of the case ensued. Petitioner along with his two military aides, Gertrudes Himpayan Padernal and Demetrio Bajet y Lita, testified about respondents marital infidelity during the marriage. The fourth and final witness was Elizabeth E. Rondain, a psychiatrist, who testified that after conducting several tests, she

reached the conclusion that respondent was suffering from histrionic personality disorder which she described as follows: Her personality is that she has an excessive emotion and attention seeking behavior. So therefore they dont develop sympathy in feelings and they have difficulty in maintaining emotional intimacy. In the case of Mr. Ochosa he has been a military man. It is his duty to be transferred in different areas in the Philippines. And while he is being transferred from one place to another because of his assignments as a military man, Mrs. Bona Alano refused to follow him in all his assignments. There were only few occasions in which she followed him. And during those times that they were not living together, because of the assignments of Mr. Ochosa she developed extra marital affair with other man of which she denied in the beginning but in the latter part of their relationship she admitted it to Mr. Ochosa that she had relationship with respondents driver. I believe with this extra marital affair that is her way of seeking attention and seeking emotions from other person and not from the husband. And of course, this is not fulfilling the basic responsibility in a marriage. According to Rondain, respondents psychological disorder was traceable to her family history, having for a father a gambler and a womanizer and a mother who was a battered wife. There was no possibility of a cure since respondent does not have an insight of what is happening to her and refused to acknowledge the reality. With the conclusion of the witnesses testimonies, petitioner formally offered his evidence and rested his case. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) submitted its opposition to the petition on the ground that 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 (Santos v. CA, 240 SCRA 20 [1995]). In a Decision dated 11 January 1999, the trial court granted the petition and nullified the parties marriage on the following findings, viz: xxxx Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended, provides as follows: 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. Such a ground to be invalidative (sic) of marriage, the degree of incapacity must exhibit GRAVITY, ANTECEDENCE and INCURABILITY. From the evidence presented, the Court finds that the psychological incapacity of the respondent exhibited GRAVITY, ANTECEDENCE and INCURABILITY. It is grave because the respondent did not carry out the normal and ordinary duties of marriage and family shouldered by any average couple existing under everyday circumstances of life and work. The gravity was manifested in respondents infidelity as testified to by the petitioner and his witnesses. The psychological incapacity of the respondent could be traced back to respondents history as testified to by the expert witness when she said that respondents bad experience during her childhood resulted in her difficulty in achieving emotional intimacy, hence, her continuous illicit relations with several men before and during the marriage. Considering that persons suffering from this kind of personality disorder have no insight of their condition, they will not submit to treatment at all. As in the case at bar, respondents psychological incapacity clinically identified as Histrionic Personality Disorder will remain incurable.[4] (Emphasis supplied.)

Thus, the dispositive portion of the trial court Decision dated January 11, 1999 read:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered DECLARING the marriage of JOSE REYNALDO B. OCHOSA and BONA J. ALANO on October 27, 1973 at Basilan City VOID AB INITIO on ground of psychological incapacity of the respondent under Article 36 of the Family Code as amended with all the effects and consequences provided for by all applicable provisions of existing pertinent laws. After this Decision becomes final, let copies thereof be sent to the Local Civil Registrar of Basilan City who is directed to cancel the

said marriage from its Civil Registry, and the Local Civil Registrar of Makati City for its information and guidance.[5]

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) appealed the said ruling to the Court of Appeals which sided with the OSGs contention that the trial court erred in granting the petition despite Joses abject failure to discharge the burden of proving the alleged psychological incapacity of his wife, Bona, to comply with the essential marital obligations. Thus, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the trial court Decision in its assailed Decision dated October 11, 2004, the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED, the appealed Decision dated 11 January 1999 in Civil Case No. 97-2903 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 140, is accordingly REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and another is entered DISMISSING the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage.[6]

Jose filed a Motion for Reconsideration but this was denied by the Court of Appeals for lack of merit in its assailed Resolution dated March 10, 2005. Hence, this Petition. The only issue before this Court is whether or not Bona should be deemed psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations. The petition is without merit. The petition for declaration of nullity of marriage which Jose filed in the trial court hinges on Article 36 of the Family Code, to wit:
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 the landmark case of Santos v. Court of Appeals,[7] we observed 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 marriage; and it must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved. Soon after, incorporating the three basic requirements of psychological incapacity as mandated in Santos, we laid down inRepublic v. Court of Appeals and Molina[8] the following guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code:
(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. 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 outburst 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 Article 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. 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 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.[9] (Citations omitted.)

In Marcos v. Marcos,[10] we previously held that 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. It is also established in jurisprudence that from these requirements arise the concept that Article 36 of the Family Code does not really dissolve a marriage; it simply recognizes that there never was any marriage in the first place because the affliction already then existing was so grave and permanent as

to deprive the afflicted party of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he or she was to assume or had assumed.[11] A little over a decade since the promulgation of the Molina guidelines, we made a critical assessment of the same in Ngo Te v. Yu-Te,[12] to wit:
In hindsight, it may have been inappropriate for the Court to impose a rigid set of rules, as the one in Molina, in resolving all cases of psychological incapacity. Understandably, the Court was then alarmed by the deluge of petitions for the dissolution of marital bonds, and was sensitive to the OSGs exaggeration of Article 36 as the most liberal divorce procedure in the world. The unintended consequences of Molina, however, has taken its toll on people who have to live with deviant behavior, moral insanity and sociopathic personality anomaly, which, like termites, consume little by little the very foundation of their families, our basic social institutions. Far from what was intended by the Court, Molina 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. Ironically, the Roman Rota has annulled marriages on account of the personality disorders of the said individuals.[13]

However, our critique did not mean that we had declared an abandonment of the Molina doctrine. On the contrary, we simply declared and, thus, clarified in the same Te case that there is a need to emphasize other perspectives as well which should govern the disposition of petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36. Furthermore, we reiterated in the same case 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. And, to repeat for emphasis, 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.
[14]

In the case at bar, the trial court granted the petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage on the basis of Dr. Elizabeth

Rondains testimony[15] and her psychiatric evaluation report[16] as well as the individual testimonies of Jose[17] and his military aides Mrs. Gertrudes Himpayan Padernal[18] and Corporal Demetrio Bajet.[19] We are sufficiently convinced, after a careful perusal of the evidence presented in this case, that Bona had been, on several occasions with several other men, sexually disloyal to her spouse, Jose. Likewise, we are persuaded that Bona had indeed abandoned Jose. However, we cannot apply the same conviction to Joses thesis that the totality of Bonas acts constituted psychological incapacity as determined by Article 36 of the Family Code. There is inadequate credible evidence that her defects were already present at the inception of, or prior to, the marriage. In other words, her alleged psychological incapacity did not satisfy the jurisprudential requisite of juridical antecedence. With regard to Bonas sexual promiscuity prior to her marriage to Jose, we have only the uncorroborated testimony of Jose made in open court to support this allegation. To quote the pertinent portion of the transcript:
Q: A: So, what was the reason why you have broken with your wife after several years Well, I finally broke up with my wife because I can no longer bear the torture because of the gossips that she had an affair with other men, and finally, when I have a chance to confront her she admitted that she had an affair with other men. With other men. And, of course this her life with other men of course before the marriage you have already known Yes, your honor. So, that this gossips because you said that you thought that this affair would go to end after your marriage? Yes, I was thinking about that. So, that after several years she will not change so thats why you cant bear it anymore?

Q: A: Q: A: Q:

A:

Yes, maam.[20]

Dr. Rondains testimony and psychiatric evaluation report do not provide evidentiary support to cure the doubtful veracity of Joses one-sided assertion. Even if we take into account the psychiatrists conclusion that Bona harbors a Histrionic Personality Disorder that existed prior to her marriage with Jose and this mental condition purportedly made her helplessly prone to promiscuity and sexual infidelity, the same cannot be taken as credible proof of antecedence since the method by which such an inference was reached leaves much to be desired in terms of meeting the standard of evidence required in determining psychological incapacity. The psychiatrists findings on Bonas personality profile did not emanate from a personal interview with the subject herself as admitted by Dr. Rondain in court, as follows:
Q: How about, you mentioned that the petitioner came for psychological test, how about the respondent, did she come for interview and test? No, maam. Did you try to take her for such? Yes, maam. And what did she tell you, did she come for an interview? There was no response, maam.[21]

A: Q: A: Q: A:

As a consequence thereof, Dr. Rondain merely relied on her interview with Jose and his witness, Mrs. Padernal, as well as the court record of the testimonies of other witnesses, to wit:
Q: A: Q: And you said you did interviews. Who did the interview? I interviewed Mr. Ochosa and their witness Padernal, maam. When you say Padernal are you referring to Gertrudes Himpayan Padernal who testified in this court?

A:

Yes, maam. xxxx

Q: A:

Other than the interviews what else did you do in order to evaluate members of the parties? I also interviewed (sic) the transcript of stenographic notes of the testimonies of other witnesses, maam. xxxx

Q: A: Q: A:

Was there also respondent? Yes, your honor.

psychological

test

conducted

on

the

It was on the basis of the psychological test in which you based your evaluation report? It was based on the psychological test conducted and clinical interview with the other witnesses, your Honor.[22]

Verily, Dr. Rondain evaluated Bonas psychological condition indirectly from the information gathered solely from Jose and his witnesses. This factual circumstance evokes the possibility that the information fed to the psychiatrist is tainted with bias for Joses cause, in the absence of sufficient corroboration. Even if we give the benefit of the doubt to the testimonies at issue since the trial court judge had found them to be credible enough after personally witnessing Jose and the witnesses testify in court, we cannot lower the evidentiary benchmark with regard to information on Bonas pre-marital history which is crucial to the issue of antecedence in this case because we have only the word of Jose to rely on. In fact, Bonas dysfunctional family portrait which brought about her Histrionic Personality Disorder as painted by Dr. Rondain was based solely on the assumed truthful knowledge of Jose, the spouse who has the most to gain if his wife is found to be indeed psychologically incapacitated. No other witness testified to Bonas family history or her behavior prior to or at the beginning of the marriage. Both Mrs. Padernal and Corporal Bajet came to know Bona only during their employment

in petitioners household during the marriage. It is undisputed that Jose and Bona were married in 1973 while Mrs. Padernal and Corporal Bajet started to live with petitioners family only in 1980 and 1986, respectively. We have previously held that, in employing a rigid and stringent level of evidentiary scrutiny to cases like 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 with personal knowledge of the juridical antecedents 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.[23] However, we have also ruled in past decisions that to make conclusions and generalizations on a spouses psychological condition based on the information fed by only one side, similar to what we have pointed out in the case at bar, is, to the Courts mind, not different from admitting hearsay evidence as proof of the truthfulness of the content of such evidence.[24] Anent the accusation that, even at the inception of their marriage, Bona did not wish to be with Jose as a further manifestation of her psychological incapacity, we need only to look at the testimonial records of Jose and his witnesses to be convinced otherwise, to wit: JOSE OCHOSAS TESTIMONY:
Q: How long did you stay with your wife?

A:

We were married in 1973 and we separated in 1988 but in all those years there were only few occasions that we were staying together because most of the time Im in the field. Now, you said most of the time you were in the field, did you not your wife come with you in any of your assignments? Never, but sometimes she really visited me and stayed for one (1) day and then And, where did your wife stayed when she leaves you? She was staying with her mother in Basilan. Where were you assigned most of the time? I was assigned in Davao, Zamboanga, Cotabato, Basilan. And, of course she would come to your place every now and then because it is not very far No, maam, once in a while only. Did you not go home to your conjugal home? I have a chanced also to go home because we were allowed to at least three (3) days every other month. So, if you start from the marriage up to 1988 so that is 16 years you were supposed to have been living together? No, actually in 19 middle of 1987 because in 1987 I was in x x x.[25]

Q: A: Q: A: Q: A: Q: A: Q: A: Q: A:

GERTRUDES PADERNALS TESTIMONY:


Q: A: Q: Now, do you know when they lived together as husband and wife? 1979. And you said that you have known the petitioner and the respondent in this case because in fact, you lived with them together in the same quarters. Does the quarters have different rooms? Yes, maam.

A:

Q: A: Q: A: Q:

But very near each other? Yes, maam. You know them because of the proximity of the quarters? Yes, maam. It was only during this 1980 to 1983, three (3) years that you lived together that you have a chance to be with the spouses? xxxx

A:

Since 1980 to 1983 we lived together in the same house. xxxx

Q: A: Q: A: Q: A: Q: A: Q: A: Q: A: Q: A:

Now, Madam Witness, after 1983, where did you reside together with your husband? In Cagayan de Oro and in 1986 we came back to Manila, in Fort Bonifacio. You mean, in the same house where petitioner and the respondent lived together? Yes. Maam. How long did you live in the house where the petitioner and the respondent stay? Twelve years now since 1983 to 1995. Where was the petitioner working at that time, from 1982 to 1995? He is a soldier, a Colonel. Do you know where he was assigned during this time? Yes, maam, G-3. May we know where this G-3 is? Fort Bonifacio, maam. What about the wife, where does she stay? At Fort Bonifacio, in their house.[26]

DR. ELIZABETH E. RONDAINS TESTIMONY:


Q: A: Q: Now, they got married in 1973, am I correct? Yes, maam. But the matter of the work or assignment of the petitioner, he was assigned in different Provinces or Barangays in the Philippines? Yes, maam. Now, when the wife or the respondent in this case did not go with the husband in different places of his assignment did you ask her why what was the reason why she did not like to go those places? She just did not want to. The wife did not go with him because by transferring from one place to another, she just dont want to go, she just wanted to stay in Basilan where her hometown is, maam. Did the petitioner herein tell you why the respondent dont want to go with him? Yes, I asked, the answer of the petitioner was she simply did not want to go with him because she did not want him to be appointed to far away places. And would it be that since she did not like to go with the husband in some far away different assignments she also assumed that the assignments were in this war regions they were always fighting considering the place in Basilan they were in fighting atmosphere? It is possible but he was transferred to Manila and she also refused to stay in Manila, maam. When was that that she refused to come to Manila? I think, sometime in 1983, maam. She did not follow immediately. She stayed with him only for four (4) months, maam.

A: Q:

A:

Q: A:

Q:

A: Q: A:

Q:

Now, do you know if the petitioner and the respondent were living together as husband and wife for this period of time during the relationship? Yes, maam. After their marriage I believe their relationship was good for a few months until he was transferred to Julu. I believe during that time when they were together the husband was giving an attention to her. The husband was always there and when the husband transferred to Basilan, the attention was not there anymore, maam.[27]

A:

It is apparent from the above-cited testimonies that Bona, contrary to Joses assertion, had no manifest desire to abandon Jose at the beginning of their marriage and was, in fact, living with him for the most part of their relationship from 1973 up to the time when Jose drove her away from their conjugal home in 1988. On the contrary, the record shows that it was Jose who was constantly away from Bona by reason of his military duties and his later incarceration. A reasonable explanation for Bonas refusal to accompany Jose in his military assignments in other parts of Mindanao may be simply that those locations were known conflict areas in the seventies. Any doubt as to Bonas desire to live with Jose would later be erased by the fact that Bona lived with Jose in their conjugal home in Fort Bonifacio during the following decade. In view of the foregoing, the badges of Bonas alleged psychological incapacity, i.e., her sexual infidelity and abandonment, can only be convincingly traced to the period of time after her marriage to Jose and not to the inception of the said marriage. We have stressed time and again that Article 36 of the Family Code is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefore 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.[28]

While we are not insensitive to petitioners suffering in view of the truly appalling and shocking behavior of his wife, still, we are bound by judicial precedents regarding the evidentiary requirements in psychological incapacity cases that must be applied to the present case. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED.