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Matabuena v. Cervantes Case Digest Matabuena v. Cervantes G.R. No.

L-28771 (March 31, 1971) FACTS: Felix Matabuena cohabitated with Respondent. During this period, Felix Matabue na donated to Respondent a parcel of land. Later the two were married. After the death of Felix Matabuena, his sister, Petitioner, sought the nullification of the donation citing Art.133 of the Civil Code Every donation between the spouses during the marriage shall be void. The trial court ruled that this case was not covered by the prohibition because the donation was made at the time the deceased and Respondent were not yet married and were simply cohabitating. ISSUE: W/N the prohibition applies to donations between live-in partners. HELD: Yes. It is a fundamental principle in statutory construction that what is within the spirit of the law is as much a part of the law as what is written. Since the reason for the ban on donations between spouses during the marriage is to prevent the possibility of undue influence and improper pressure being exerted by one spouse on the other, there is no reason why this prohibition shall not apply also to commonlaw relationships.The court, however, said that the lack of the donation made by the deceased to Respondent does not necessarily mean that the Petitioner will have exclusive rights to the disputed property because the relationship between Felix and Respondent were legitimated by marriage. Cornelia MATABUENA plaintiff-appellant v Petronila CERVANTESdefendantappellee [G.R. No. L-28771. March 31, 1971] [G.R. No. L-28771. March 31, 1971] TOPIC: Nature and concept of statutory construction FACTS: The stipulated facts agreed upon by both the plaintiff and the defendant assistedby their respective counsels, are:1. The deceased Felix Matabuena owned the property in question;2. Felix Matabuena executed a Deed of Donation inter vivos (referring to a transfer or gift made during one's lifetime, as opposed to a testamentary transfer which is a gift that takes effect on death) in favor of defendant, Petronila Cervantes overthe parcel of land in question on February 20, 1956, which same donation wasaccepted by defendant;3. The donation of

the land to Petronila (defendant) which took effect immediately was made during the common law relationship as husband and wife, they were married on March 28, 1962;4. The deceased Felix Matabuena died intestate on September 13, 1962;5. The plaintiff claims the property by reason of being the only sister and nearest collateral relative of the deceased by virtue of an affidavit of self-adjudication executed by her in 1962 and had the land declared in her name and paid the estate and inheritance taxes thereon. Cornelia (plaintiff-appellant), sister of Felix Matabuena maintains that the donation made by Felix to Petronila Cervantes (defendant-appellee) was void because they were living without the benefit of marriage (common law marriage). This is in pursuant to Article 133 of Civil Code which provides " Every donation between the spouses during the marriage shall be void. On 23 November 1965, the lower court upheld the validity of the donation as it was made before Cervantes marriage to the donor. Hence this appeal. ISSUE:WON the ban on a donation between the spouses during a marriage applies to acommon-law relationship HELD: The lower court decision of November 23, 1965 dismissing the complaint with costs is REVERSED. The questioned donation is declared void, with the rights of plaintiff and defendant as pro indiviso (for an undivided part). The case isremanded to the lower court for its appropriate disposition in accordance with theabove opinion. RATIO: It is a principle of statutory construction that what is within the spirit of the law is as much a part of it as what is written. If there is ever any occasion where the principle of statutory construction that what is within the spirit of the law is as much a part of it as what is written, then such would be it. Otherwise the basic purpose discernible in such codal provision would not be attained. A 1954 Court of Appeals decision Buenaventura v. Bautista, interpreting a similar provision of the old Civil Code says clearly that if the policy of the law is (in the language of the opinion of the then Justice J.B.L. Reyes of that Court) "to prohibit donations in favor of the other consort and his descendants because of fear of undue and improper pressure and influence upon the donor, a prejudice deeply rooted in our ancient law then there is every reason to apply the same prohibitive policy to persons living together as husband and wife without benefit of nuptials.