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TAADA vs TUVERA

for the position of municipal president in the town of Silay, Negros Occidental. Speaking for this Court,
Mr. Justice Grant T. Trent said:
We are therefore of the opinion that the weight of authority supports the
proposition that the relator is a proper party to proceedings of this character when
a public right is sought to be enforced. If the general rule in America were
otherwise, we think that it would not be applicable to the case at bar for the reason
'that it is always dangerous to apply a general rule to a particular case without
keeping in mind the reason for the rule, because, if under the particular
circumstances the reason for the rule does not exist, the rule itself is not applicable
and reliance upon the rule may well lead to error'
No reason exists in the case at bar for applying the general rule insisted upon by
counsel for the respondent. The circumstances which surround this case are
different from those in the United States, inasmuch as if the relator is not a proper
party to these proceedings no other person could be, as we have seen that it is not
the duty of the law officer of the Government to appear and represent the people
in cases of this character.
The reasons given by the Court in recognizing a private citizen's legal personality in the aforementioned
case apply squarely to the present petition. Clearly, the right sought to be enforced by petitioners herein
is a public right recognized by no less than the fundamental law of the land. If petitioners were not
allowed to institute this proceeding, it would indeed be difficult to conceive of any other person to initiate
the same, considering that the Solicitor General, the government officer generally empowered to
represent the people, has entered his appearance for respondents in this case.
Respondents further contend that publication in the Official Gazette is not a sine qua non requirement for
the effectivity of laws where the laws themselves provide for their own effectivity dates. It is thus
submitted that since the presidential issuances in question contain special provisions as to the date they
are to take effect, publication in the Official Gazette is not indispensable for their effectivity. The point
stressed is anchored on Article 2 of the Civil Code:
Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their
publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided, ...
The interpretation given by respondent is in accord with this Court's construction of said article. In a long
line of decisions, 4 this Court has ruled that publication in the Official Gazette is necessary in those cases
where the legislation itself does not provide for its effectivity date-for then the date of publication is
material for determining its date of effectivity, which is the fifteenth day following its publication-but not
when the law itself provides for the date when it goes into effect.
Respondents' argument, however, is logically correct only insofar as it equates the effectivity of laws with
the fact of publication. Considered in the light of other statutes applicable to the issue at hand, the
conclusion is easily reached that said Article 2 does not preclude the requirement of publication in the
Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides for the date of its effectivity. Thus, Section 1 of
Commonwealth Act 638 provides as follows:
Section 1. There shall be published in the Official Gazette [1] all important
legisiative acts and resolutions of a public nature of the, Congress of the
Philippines; [2] all executive and administrative orders and proclamations, except

Invoking the people's right to be informed on matters of public concern, a right recognized in Section 6,
Article IV of the 1973 Philippine Constitution, 1 as well as the principle that laws to be valid and
enforceable must be published in the Official Gazette or otherwise effectively promulgated, petitioners
seek a writ of mandamus to compel respondent public officials to publish, and/or cause the publication in
the Official Gazette of various presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders, proclamations,
executive orders, letter of implementation and administrative orders.
Specifically, the publication of the following presidential issuances is sought:
a] Presidential Decrees
The respondents, through the Solicitor General, would have this case dismissed outright on the ground
that petitioners have no legal personality or standing to bring the instant petition. The view is submitted
that in the absence of any showing that petitioners are personally and directly affected or prejudiced by
the alleged non-publication of the presidential issuances in question 2 said petitioners are without the
requisite legal personality to institute this mandamus proceeding, they are not being "aggrieved parties"
within the meaning of Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which we quote:
SEC. 3. Petition for Mandamus.When any tribunal, corporation, board or person
unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as
a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from
the use a rd enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and there
is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the
person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court alleging
the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the
defendant, immediately or at some other specified time, to do the act required to
be done to Protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained
by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the defendant.
Upon the other hand, petitioners maintain that since the subject of the petition concerns a public right
and its object is to compel the performance of a public duty, they need not show any specific interest for
their petition to be given due course.
The issue posed is not one of first impression. As early as the 1910 case of Severino vs. Governor
General, 3 this Court held that while the general rule is that "a writ of mandamus would be granted to a
private individual only in those cases where he has some private or particular interest to be subserved,
or some particular right to be protected, independent of that which he holds with the public at large," and
"it is for the public officers exclusively to apply for the writ when public rights are to be subserved
[Mithchell vs. Boardmen, 79 M.e., 469]," nevertheless, "when the question is one of public right and the
object of the mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a public duty, the people are regarded as the
real party in interest and the relator at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted need not show
that he has any legal or special interest in the result, it being sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as
such interested in the execution of the laws [High, Extraordinary Legal Remedies, 3rd ed., sec. 431].
Thus, in said case, this Court recognized the relator Lope Severino, a private individual, as a proper
party to the mandamus proceedings brought to compel the Governor General to call a special election

such as have no general applicability; [3] decisions or abstracts of decisions of the


Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as may be deemed by said courts of
sufficient importance to be so published; [4] such documents or classes of
documents as may be required so to be published by law; and [5] such documents
or classes of documents as the President of the Philippines shall determine from
time to time to have general applicability and legal effect, or which he may
authorize so to be published. ...
The clear object of the above-quoted provision is to give the general public adequate notice of the
various laws which are to regulate their actions and conduct as citizens. Without such notice and
publication, there would be no basis for the application of the maxim "ignorantia legis non excusat." It
would be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the transgression of a law of
which he had no notice whatsoever, not even a constructive one.
Perhaps at no time since the establishment of the Philippine Republic has the publication of laws taken
so vital significance that at this time when the people have bestowed upon the President a power
heretofore enjoyed solely by the legislature. While the people are kept abreast by the mass media of the
debates and deliberations in the Batasan Pambansaand for the diligent ones, ready access to the
legislative recordsno such publicity accompanies the law-making process of the President. Thus,
without publication, the people have no means of knowing what presidential decrees have actually been
promulgated, much less a definite way of informing themselves of the specific contents and texts of such
decrees. As the Supreme Court of Spain ruled: "Bajo la denominacion generica de leyes, se
comprenden tambien los reglamentos, Reales decretos, Instrucciones, Circulares y Reales ordines
dictadas de conformidad con las mismas por el Gobierno en uso de su potestad. 5
The very first clause of Section I of Commonwealth Act 638 reads: "There shall be published in the
Official Gazette ... ." The word "shall" used therein imposes upon respondent officials an imperative duty.
That duty must be enforced if the Constitutional right of the people to be informed on matters of public
concern is to be given substance and reality. The law itself makes a list of what should be published in
the Official Gazette. Such listing, to our mind, leaves respondents with no discretion whatsoever as to
what must be included or excluded from such publication.
The publication of all presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is mandated
by law. Obviously, presidential decrees that provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties for their violation or
otherwise impose a burden or. the people, such as tax and revenue measures, fall within this category.
Other presidential issuances which apply only to particular persons or class of persons such as
administrative and executive orders need not be published on the assumption that they have been
circularized to all concerned. 6
It is needless to add that the publication of presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of general
applicability" is a requirement of due process. It is a rule of law that before a person may be bound by
law, he must first be officially and specifically informed of its contents. As Justice Claudio Teehankee said
in Peralta vs. COMELEC 7:
In a time of proliferating decrees, orders and letters of instructions which all form
part of the law of the land, the requirement of due process and the Rule of Law
demand that the Official Gazette as the official government repository promulgate

and publish the texts of all such decrees, orders and instructions so that the
people may know where to obtain their official and specific contents.
The Court therefore declares that presidential issuances of general application, which have not been
published, shall have no force and effect. Some members of the Court, quite apprehensive about the
possible unsettling effect this decision might have on acts done in reliance of the validity of those
presidential decrees which were published only during the pendency of this petition, have put the
question as to whether the Court's declaration of invalidity apply to P.D.s which had been enforced or
implemented prior to their publication. The answer is all too familiar. In similar situations in the past this
Court had taken the pragmatic and realistic course set forth in Chicot County Drainage District vs.
Baxter Bank 8 to wit:
The courts below have proceeded on the theory that the Act of Congress, having
been found to be unconstitutional, was not a law; that it was inoperative, conferring
no rights and imposing no duties, and hence affording no basis for the challenged
decree. Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, 442; Chicago, 1. & L. Ry. Co. v.
Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566. It is quite clear, however, that such broad statements
as to the effect of a determination of unconstitutionality must be taken with
qualifications. The actual existence of a statute, prior to such a determination, is
an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot justly be ignored.
The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The effect of the
subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various aspectswith respect to particular conduct, private and official. Questions of rights claimed
to have become vested, of status, of prior determinations deemed to have finality
and acted upon accordingly, of public policy in the light of the nature both of the
statute and of its previous application, demand examination. These questions are
among the most difficult of those which have engaged the attention of courts, state
and federal and it is manifest from numerous decisions that an all-inclusive
statement of a principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified.
Consistently with the above principle, this Court in Rutter vs. Esteban 9 sustained the right of a party
under the Moratorium Law, albeit said right had accrued in his favor before said law was declared
unconstitutional by this Court.
Similarly, the implementation/enforcement of presidential decrees prior to their publication in the Official
Gazette is "an operative fact which may have consequences which cannot be justly ignored. The past
cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration ... that an all-inclusive statement of a principle of
absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified."
From the report submitted to the Court by the Clerk of Court, it appears that of the presidential decrees
sought by petitioners to be published in the Official Gazette, only Presidential Decrees Nos. 1019 to
1030, inclusive, 1278, and 1937 to 1939, inclusive, have not been so published. 10 Neither the subject
matters nor the texts of these PDs can be ascertained since no copies thereof are available. But
whatever their subject matter may be, it is undisputed that none of these unpublished PDs has ever
been implemented or enforced by the government. InPesigan vs. Angeles, 11 the Court, through Justice
Ramon Aquino, ruled that "publication is necessary to apprise the public of the contents of [penal]
regulations and make the said penalties binding on the persons affected thereby. " The cogency of this

holding is apparently recognized by respondent officials considering the manifestation in their comment
that "the government, as a matter of policy, refrains from prosecuting violations of criminal laws until the
same shall have been published in the Official Gazette or in some other publication, even though some
criminal laws provide that they shall take effect immediately.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents to publish in the Official Gazette all unpublished
presidential issuances which are of general application, and unless so published, they shall have no
binding force and effect.
SO ORDERED.
Relova, J., concurs.
Aquino, J., took no part.
Concepcion, Jr., J., is on leave.

DE ROY VS CA
This special civil action for certiorari seeks to declare null and void two (2) resolutions of the Special First
Division of the Court of Appeals in the case of Luis Bernal, Sr., et al. v. Felisa Perdosa De Roy, et al.,

CA-G.R. CV No. 07286. The first resolution promulgated on 30 September 1987 denied petitioners'
motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration and directed entry of judgment since the
decision in said case had become final; and the second Resolution dated 27 October 1987 denied
petitioners' motion for reconsideration for having been filed out of time.

Bacaya v. Intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No. 74824, Sept. 15, 1986,144 SCRA 161],stressed the
prospective application of said rule, and explained the operation of the grace period, to wit:
In other words, there is a one-month grace period from the promulgation on May 30, 1986 of the Court's
Resolution in the clarificatory Habaluyas case, or up to June 30, 1986, within which the rule barring
extensions of time to file motions for new trial or reconsideration is, as yet, not strictly enforceable.

At the outset, this Court could have denied the petition outright for not being verified as required by Rule
65 section 1 of the Rules of Court. However, even if the instant petition did not suffer from this defect,
this Court, on procedural and substantive grounds, would still resolve to deny it.

Since petitioners herein filed their motion for extension on February 27, 1986, it is still within the grace
period, which expired on June 30, 1986, and may still be allowed.

The facts of the case are undisputed. The firewall of a burned-out building owned by petitioners
collapsed and destroyed the tailoring shop occupied by the family of private respondents, resulting in
injuries to private respondents and the death of Marissa Bernal, a daughter. Private respondents had
been warned by petitioners to vacate their shop in view of its proximity to the weakened wall but the
former failed to do so. On the basis of the foregoing facts, the Regional Trial Court. First Judicial Region,
Branch XXXVIII, presided by the Hon. Antonio M. Belen, rendered judgment finding petitioners guilty of
gross negligence and awarding damages to private respondents. On appeal, the decision of the trial
court was affirmed in toto by the Court of Appeals in a decision promulgated on August 17, 1987, a copy
of which was received by petitioners on August 25, 1987. On September 9, 1987, the last day of the
fifteen-day period to file an appeal, petitioners filed a motion for extension of time to file a motion for
reconsideration, which was eventually denied by the appellate court in the Resolution of September 30,
1987. Petitioners filed their motion for reconsideration on September 24, 1987 but this was denied in the
Resolution of October 27, 1987.

In the instant case, however, petitioners' motion for extension of time was filed on September 9, 1987,
more than a year after the expiration of the grace period on June 30, 1986. Hence, it is no longer within
the coverage of the grace period. Considering the length of time from the expiration of the grace period
to the promulgation of the decision of the Court of Appeals on August 25, 1987, petitioners cannot seek
refuge in the ignorance of their counsel regarding said rule for their failure to file a motion for
reconsideration within the reglementary period.
Petitioners contend that the rule enunciated in the Habaluyas case should not be made to apply to the
case at bar owing to the non-publication of the Habaluyas decision in the Official Gazette as of the time
the subject decision of the Court of Appeals was promulgated. Contrary to petitioners' view, there is no
law requiring the publication of Supreme Court decisions in the Official Gazette before they can be
binding and as a condition to their becoming effective. It is the bounden duty of counsel as lawyer in
active law practice to keep abreast of decisions of the Supreme Court particularly where issues have
been clarified, consistently reiterated, and published in the advance reports of Supreme Court decisions
(G. R. s) and in such publications as the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA) and law journals.

This Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not commit a grave abuse of discretion when it denied
petitioners' motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration, directed entry of judgment
and denied their motion for reconsideration. It correctly applied the rule laid down in Habaluyas
Enterprises, Inc. v. Japzon, [G.R. No. 70895, August 5, 1985,138 SCRA 461, that the fifteen-day period
for appealing or for filing a motion for reconsideration cannot be extended. In its Resolution denying the
motion for reconsideration, promulgated on July 30, 1986 (142 SCRA 208), this Court en banc restated
and clarified the rule, to wit:

This Court likewise finds that the Court of Appeals committed no grave abuse of discretion in affirming
the trial court's decision holding petitioner liable under Article 2190 of the Civil Code, which provides that
"the proprietor of a building or structure is responsible for the damage resulting from its total or partial
collapse, if it should be due to the lack of necessary repairs.
Nor was there error in rejecting petitioners argument that private respondents had the "last
clear chance" to avoid the accident if only they heeded the. warning to vacate the tailoring shop and ,
therefore, petitioners prior negligence should be disregarded, since the doctrine of "last clear chance,"
which has been applied to vehicular accidents, is inapplicable to this case.

Beginning one month after the promulgation of this Resolution, the rule shall be strictly enforced that no
motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration may be filed with the Metropolitan or
Municipal Trial Courts, the Regional Trial Courts, and the Intermediate Appellate Court. Such a motion
may be filed only in cases pending with the Supreme Court as the court of last resort, which may in its
sound discretion either grant or deny the extension requested. (at p. 212)

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court Resolved to DENY the instant petition for lack of
merit.

Lacsamana v. Second Special Cases Division of the intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No. 73146-53,
August 26, 1986, 143 SCRA 643], reiterated the rule and went further to restate and clarify the modes
and periods of appeal.

MANZANO vs SANCHEZ
ERMINIA BORJA-MANZANO, petitioner, vs. JUDGE ROQUE R. SANCHEZ, MTC, Infanta, Pangasinan,
respondent.

RESOLUTION
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:

Article 34 of the Family Code provides:

The solemnization of a marriage between two contracting parties who were both bound by a prior
existing marriage is the bone of contention of the instant complaint against respondent Judge Roque R.
Sanchez, Municipal Trial Court, Infanta, Pangasinan. For this act, complainant Herminia Borja-Manzano
charges respondent Judge with gross ignorance of the law in a sworn Complaint-Affidavit filed with the
Office of the Court Administrator on 12 May 1999.

No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as
husband and wife for at least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The
contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to
administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also state under oath that he ascertained the
qualifications of the contracting parties and found no legal impediment to the marriage.

Complainant avers that she was the lawful wife of the late David Manzano, having been married to him
on 21 May 1966 in San Gabriel Archangel Parish, Araneta Avenue, Caloocan City.[1] Four children were
born out of that marriage.[2] On 22 March 1993, however, her husband contracted another marriage with
one Luzviminda Payao before respondent Judge.[3] When respondent Judge solemnized said marriage,
he knew or ought to know that the same was void and bigamous, as the marriage contract clearly stated
that both contracting parties were separated.

For this provision on legal ratification of marital cohabitation to apply, the following requisites must
concur:
1. The man and woman must have been living together as husband and wife for at least five years
before the marriage;
2. The parties must have no legal impediment to marry each other;
3. The fact of absence of legal impediment between the parties must be present at the time of marriage;
4. The parties must execute an affidavit stating that they have lived together for at least five years [and
are without legal impediment to marry each other]; and
5. The solemnizing officer must execute a sworn statement that he had ascertained the qualifications of
the parties and that he had found no legal impediment to their marriage.[6]

Respondent Judge, on the other hand, claims in his Comment that when he officiated the marriage
between Manzano and Payao he did not know that Manzano was legally married. What he knew was
that the two had been living together as husband and wife for seven years already without the benefit of
marriage, as manifested in their joint affidavit.[4] According to him, had he known that the late Manzano
was married, he would have advised the latter not to marry again; otherwise, he (Manzano) could be
charged with bigamy. He then prayed that the complaint be dismissed for lack of merit and for being
designed merely to harass him.

Not all of these requirements are present in the case at bar. It is significant to note that in their separate
affidavits executed on 22 March 1993 and sworn to before respondent Judge himself, David Manzano
and Luzviminda Payao expressly stated the fact of their prior existing marriage. Also, in their marriage
contract, it was indicated that both were separated.

After an evaluation of the Complaint and the Comment, the Court Administrator recommended that
respondent Judge be found guilty of gross ignorance of the law and be ordered to pay a fine of P2,000,
with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act would be dealt with more severely.

Respondent Judge knew or ought to know that a subsisting previous marriage is a diriment impediment,
which would make the subsequent marriage null and void.[7] In fact, in his Comment, he stated that had
he known that the late Manzano was married he would have discouraged him from contracting another
marriage. And respondent Judge cannot deny knowledge of Manzanos and Payaos subsisting previous
marriage, as the same was clearly stated in their separate affidavits which were subscribed and sworn to
before him.

On 25 October 2000, this Court required the parties to manifest whether they were willing to submit the
case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings thus filed. Complainant answered in the affirmative.
For his part, respondent Judge filed a Manifestation reiterating his plea for the dismissal of the complaint
and setting aside his earlier Comment. He therein invites the attention of the Court to two separate
affidavits[5] of the late Manzano and of Payao, which were allegedly unearthed by a member of his staff
upon his instruction. In those affidavits, both David Manzano and Luzviminda Payao expressly stated
that they were married to Herminia Borja and Domingo Relos, respectively; and that since their
respective marriages had been marked by constant quarrels, they had both left their families and had
never cohabited or communicated with their spouses anymore. Respondent Judge alleges that on the
basis of those affidavits, he agreed to solemnize the marriage in question in accordance with Article 34
of the Family Code.

The fact that Manzano and Payao had been living apart from their respective spouses for a long time
already is immaterial. Article 63(1) of the Family Code allows spouses who have obtained a decree of
legal separation to live separately from each other, but in such a case the marriage bonds are not
severed. Elsewise stated, legal separation does not dissolve the marriage tie, much less authorize the
parties to remarry. This holds true all the more when the separation is merely de facto, as in the case at
bar.
Neither can respondent Judge take refuge on the Joint Affidavit of David Manzano and Luzviminda
Payao stating that they had been cohabiting as husband and wife for seven years. Just like separation,

We find merit in the complaint.

free and voluntary cohabitation with another person for at least five years does not severe the tie of a
subsisting previous marriage. Marital cohabitation for a long period of time between two individuals who
are legally capacitated to marry each other is merely a ground for exemption from marriage license. It
could not serve as a justification for respondent Judge to solemnize a subsequent marriage vitiated by
the impediment of a prior existing marriage.
Clearly, respondent Judge demonstrated gross ignorance of the law when he solemnized a void and
bigamous marriage. The maxim ignorance of the law excuses no one has special application to
judges,[8] who, under Rule 1.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, should be the embodiment of
competence, integrity, and independence. It is highly imperative that judges be conversant with the law
and basic legal principles.[9] And when the law transgressed is simple and elementary, the failure to
know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law.[10]
ACCORDINGLY, the recommendation of the Court Administrator is hereby ADOPTED, with the
MODIFICATION that the amount of fine to be imposed upon respondent Judge Roque Sanchez is
increased to P20,000.
SO ORDERED.

ATIENZA vs BRILLIANTES
This is a complaint by Lupo A. Atienza for Gross Immorality and Appearance of Impropriety against
Judge Francisco Brillantes, Jr., Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 20, Manila.
Complainant alleges that he has two children with Yolanda De Castro, who are living together at No. 34
Galaxy Street, Bel-Air Subdivision, Makati, Metro Manila. He stays in said house, which he purchased in
1987, whenever he is in Manila.
In December 1991, upon opening the door to his bedroom, he saw respondent sleeping on his
(complainant's) bed. Upon inquiry, he was told by the houseboy that respondent had been cohabiting

with De Castro. Complainant did not bother to wake up respondent and instead left the house after
giving instructions to his houseboy to take care of his children.
Thereafter, respondent prevented him from visiting his children and even alienated the affection of his
children for him.
Complainant claims that respondent is married to one Zenaida Ongkiko with whom he has five children,
as appearing in his 1986 and 1991 sworn statements of assets and liabilities. Furthermore, he alleges
that respondent caused his arrest on January 13, 1992, after he had a heated argument with De Castro
inside the latter's office.
For his part, respondent alleges that complainant was not married to De Castro and that the filing of the
administrative action was related to complainant's claim on the Bel-Air residence, which was disputed by
De Castro.
Respondent denies that he caused complainant's arrest and claims that he was even a witness to the
withdrawal of the complaint for Grave Slander filed by De Castro against complainant. According to him,
it was the sister of De Castro who called the police to arrest complainant.
Respondent also denies having been married to Ongkiko, although he admits having five children with
her. He alleges that while he and Ongkiko went through a marriage ceremony before a Nueva Ecija town
mayor on April 25, 1965, the same was not a valid marriage for lack of a marriage license. Upon the
request of the parents of Ongkiko, respondent went through another marriage ceremony with her in
Manila on June 5, 1965. Again, neither party applied for a marriage license. Ongkiko abandoned
respondent 17 years ago, leaving their children to his care and custody as a single parent.
Respondent claims that when he married De Castro in civil rites in Los Angeles, California on December
4, 1991, he believed, in all good faith and for all legal intents and purposes, that he was single because
his first marriage was solemnized without a license.
Under the Family Code, there must be a judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage before a
party thereto can enter into a second marriage. Article 40 of said Code provides:
The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for the purposes of remarriage on the basis
solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
Respondent argues that the provision of Article 40 of the Family Code does not apply to him considering
that his first marriage took place in 1965 and was governed by the Civil Code of the Philippines; while
the second marriage took place in 1991 and governed by the Family Code.
Article 40 is applicable to remarriages entered into after the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3,
1988 regardless of the date of the first marriage. Besides, under Article 256 of the Family Code, said
Article is given "retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in
accordance with the Civil Code or other laws." This is particularly true with Article 40, which is a rule of
procedure. Respondent has not shown any vested right that was impaired by the application of Article 40
to his case.
The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the litigants' rights may not preclude their
retroactive application to pending actions. The retroactive application of procedural laws is not violative
of any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected (Gregorio v. Court of Appeals, 26
SCRA 229 [1968]). The reason is that as a general rule no vested right may attach to, nor arise from,
procedural laws (Billones v. Court of Industrial Relations, 14 SCRA 674 [1965]).

Respondent is the last person allowed to invoke good faith. He made a mockery of the institution of
marriage and employed deceit to be able to cohabit with a woman, who beget him five children.
Respondent passed the Bar examinations in 1962 and was admitted to the practice of law in 1963. At
the time he went through the two marriage ceremonies with Ongkiko, he was already a lawyer. Yet, he
never secured any marriage license. Any law student would know that a marriage license is necessary
before one can get married. Respondent was given an opportunity to correct the flaw in his first marriage
when he and Ongkiko were married for the second time. His failure to secure a marriage license on
these two occasions betrays his sinister motives and bad faith.
It is evident that respondent failed to meet the standard of moral fitness for membership in the legal
profession.
While the deceit employed by respondent existed prior to his appointment as a Metropolitan Trial Judge,
his immoral and illegal act of cohabiting with De Castro began and continued when he was already in the
judiciary.
The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of a judge must be free of a whiff of impropriety,
not only with respect to his performance of his judicial duties but also as to his behavior as a private
individual. There is no duality of morality. A public figure is also judged by his private life. A judge, in
order to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with
propriety at all times, in the performance of his judicial duties and in his everyday life. These are judicial
guideposts too self-evident to be overlooked. No position exacts a greater demand on moral
righteousness and uprightness of an individual than a seat in the judiciary (Imbing v. Tiongzon, 229
SCRA 690 [1994]).
WHEREFORE, respondent is DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all leave and retirement
benefits and with prejudice to reappointment in any branch, instrumentality, or agency of the
government, including government-owned and controlled corporations. This decision is immediately
executory.
SO ORDERED.

AVELINO CASUPANAN and ROBERTO CAPITULO, petitioners, vs. MARIO LLAVORE


LAROYA, respondent.
The Case
This is a petition for review on certiorari to set aside the Resolution[1] dated December 28, 1999
dismissing the petition for certiorari and the Resolution[2] dated August 24, 2000 denying the motion for
reconsideration, both issued by the Regional Trial Court of Capas, Tarlac, Branch 66, in Special Civil
Action No. 17-C (99).
The Facts

in turn to file a civil case for quasi-delict against the first party who is the very private complainant in the
criminal case.[4]

Two vehicles, one driven by respondent Mario Llavore Laroya (Laroya for brevity) and the other owned
by petitioner Roberto Capitulo (Capitulo for brevity) and driven by petitioner Avelino Casupanan
(Casupanan for brevity), figured in an accident. As a result, two cases were filed with the Municipal
Circuit Trial Court (MCTC for brevity) of Capas, Tarlac. Laroya filed a criminal case against Casupanan
for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property, docketed as Criminal Case No. 002-99. On the
other hand, Casupanan and Capitulo filed a civil case against Laroya for quasi-delict, docketed as Civil
Case No. 2089.

Thus, the issue raised is whether an accused in a pending criminal case for reckless imprudence can
validly file, simultaneously and independently, a separate civil action for quasi-delict against the private
complainant in the criminal case.
The Courts Ruling

When the civil case was filed, the criminal case was then at its preliminary investigation stage. Laroya,
defendant in the civil case, filed a motion to dismiss the civil case on the ground of forum-shopping
considering the pendency of the criminal case. The MCTC granted the motion in the Order of March 26,
1999 and dismissed the civil case.

Casupanan and Capitulo assert that Civil Case No. 2089, which the MCTC dismissed on the ground of
forum-shopping, constitutes a counterclaim in the criminal case. Casupanan and Capitulo argue that if
the accused in a criminal case has a counterclaim against the private complainant, he may file the
counterclaim in a separate civil action at the proper time. They contend that an action on quasi-delict is
different from an action resulting from the crime of reckless imprudence, and an accused in a criminal
case can be an aggrieved party in a civil case arising from the same incident. They maintain that under
Articles 31 and 2176 of the Civil Code, the civil case can proceed independently of the criminal action.
Finally, they point out that Casupanan was not the only one who filed the independent civil action based
on quasi-delict but also Capitulo, the owner-operator of the vehicle, who was not a party in the criminal
case.

On Motion for Reconsideration, Casupanan and Capitulo insisted that the civil case is a separate civil
action which can proceed independently of the criminal case. The MCTC denied the motion for
reconsideration in the Order of May 7, 1999. Casupanan and Capitulo filed a petition for certiorari under
Rule 65 before the Regional Trial Court (Capas RTC for brevity) of Capas, Tarlac, Branch 66,[3]
assailing the MCTCs Order of dismissal.
The Trial Courts Ruling

In his Comment, Laroya claims that the petition is fatally defective as it does not state the real
antecedents. Laroya further alleges that Casupanan and Capitulo forfeited their right to question the
order of dismissal when they failed to avail of the proper remedy of appeal. Laroya argues that there is
no question of law to be resolved as the order of dismissal is already final and a petition for certiorari is
not a substitute for a lapsed appeal.

The Capas RTC rendered judgment on December 28, 1999 dismissing the petition for certiorari for lack
of merit. The Capas RTC ruled that the order of dismissal issued by the MCTC is a final order which
disposes of the case and therefore the proper remedy should have been an appeal. The Capas RTC
further held that a special civil action for certiorari is not a substitute for a lost appeal. Finally, the Capas
RTC declared that even on the premise that the MCTC erred in dismissing the civil case, such error is a
pure error of judgment and not an abuse of discretion.

In their Reply, Casupanan and Capitulo contend that the petition raises the legal question of whether
there is forum-shopping since they filed only one action - the independent civil action for quasi-delict
against Laroya.

Casupanan and Capitulo filed a Motion for Reconsideration but the Capas RTC denied the same in the
Resolution of August 24, 2000.

Nature of the Order of Dismissal

Hence, this petition.

The MCTC dismissed the civil action for quasi-delict on the ground of forum-shopping under Supreme
Court Administrative Circular No. 04-94. The MCTC did not state in its order of dismissal[5] that the
dismissal was with prejudice. Under the Administrative Circular, the order of dismissal is without
prejudice to refiling the complaint, unless the order of dismissal expressly states it is with prejudice.[6]
Absent a declaration that the dismissal is with prejudice, the same is deemed without prejudice. Thus,
the MCTCs dismissal, being silent on the matter, is a dismissal without prejudice.

The Issue
The petition premises the legal issue in this wise:
In a certain vehicular accident involving two parties, each one of them may think and believe that the
accident was caused by the fault of the other. x x x [T]he first party, believing himself to be the aggrieved
party, opted to file a criminal case for reckless imprudence against the second party. On the other hand,
the second party, together with his operator, believing themselves to be the real aggrieved parties, opted

Section 1 of Rule 41[7] provides that an order dismissing an action without prejudice is not appealable.
The remedy of the aggrieved party is to file a special civil action under Rule 65. Section 1 of Rule 41
expressly states that where the judgment or final order is not appealable, the aggrieved party may file

an appropriate special civil action under Rule 65. Clearly, the Capas RTCs order dismissing the
petition for certiorari, on the ground that the proper remedy is an ordinary appeal, is erroneous.

Since the present Rules require the accused in a criminal action to file his counterclaim in a separate
civil action, there can be no forum-shopping if the accused files such separate civil action.

Forum-Shopping

Filing of a separate civil action

The essence of forum-shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same
cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, to secure a favorable judgment.[8] Forumshopping is present when in the two or more cases pending, there is identity of parties, rights of action
and reliefs sought.[9] However, there is no forum-shopping in the instant case because the law and the
rules expressly allow the filing of a separate civil action which can proceed independently of the criminal
action.

Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure (1985 Rules for brevity), as amended in
1988, allowed the filing of a separate civil action independently of the criminal action provided the
offended party reserved the right to file such civil action. Unless the offended party reserved the civil
action before the presentation of the evidence for the prosecution, all civil actions arising from the same
act or omission were deemed impliedly instituted in the criminal case. These civil actions referred to
the recovery of civil liability ex-delicto, the recovery of damages for quasi-delict, and the recovery of
damages for violation of Articles 32, 33 and 34 of the Civil Code on Human Relations.

Laroya filed the criminal case for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property based on the
Revised Penal Code while Casupanan and Capitulo filed the civil action for damages based on Article
2176 of the Civil Code. Although these two actions arose from the same act or omission, they have
different causes of action. The criminal case is based on culpa criminal punishable under the Revised
Penal Code while the civil case is based on culpa aquiliana actionable under Articles 2176 and 2177 of
the Civil Code. These articles on culpa aquiliana read:

Thus, to file a separate and independent civil action for quasi-delict under the 1985 Rules, the offended
party had to reserve in the criminal action the right to bring such action. Otherwise, such civil action was
deemed impliedly instituted in the criminal action. Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules provided as
follows:

Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is
obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual
relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.

Section 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action
for the recovery of civil liability is impliedly instituted with the criminal action, unless the offended party
waives the action, reserves his right to institute it separately, or institutes the civil action prior to the
criminal action.

Art. 2177. Responsibility for fault or negligence under the preceding article is entirely separate and
distinct from the civil liability arising from negligence under the Penal Code. But the plaintiff cannot
recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant.

Such civil action includes recovery of indemnity under the Revised Penal Code, and damages under
Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines arising from the same act or omission of
the accused.

Any aggrieved person can invoke these articles provided he proves, by preponderance of evidence, that
he has suffered damage because of the fault or negligence of another. Either the private complainant or
the accused can file a separate civil action under these articles. There is nothing in the law or rules that
state only the private complainant in a criminal case may invoke these articles.

A waiver of any of the civil actions extinguishes the others. The institution of, or the reservation of the
right to file, any of said civil actions separately waives the others.
The reservation of the right to institute the separate civil actions shall be made before the prosecution
starts to present its evidence and under circumstances affording the offended party a reasonable
opportunity to make such reservation.

Moreover, paragraph 6, Section 1, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure (2000 Rules for
brevity) expressly requires the accused to litigate his counterclaim in a separate civil action, to wit:

In no case may the offended party recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the accused.
SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) x x x.
No counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint may be filed by the accused in the criminal case,
but any cause of action which could have been the subject thereof may be litigated in a separate civil
action. (Emphasis supplied)

Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules was amended on December 1, 2000 and now provides as follows:
SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) When a criminal action is instituted, the civil
action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with

the criminal action unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it
separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.

SEC. 2. When separate civil action is suspended. After the criminal action has been commenced, the
separate civil action arising therefrom cannot be instituted until final judgment has been entered in the
criminal action.

The reservation of the right to institute separately the civil action shall be made before the prosecution
starts presenting its evidence and under circumstances affording the offended party a reasonable
opportunity to make such reservation.

If the criminal action is filed after the said civil action has already been instituted, the latter shall be
suspended in whatever stage it may be found before judgment on the merits. The suspension shall last
until final judgment is rendered in the criminal action. Nevertheless, before judgment on the merits is
rendered in the civil action, the same may, upon motion of the offended party, be consolidated with the
criminal action in the court trying the criminal action. In case of consolidation, the evidence already
adduced in the civil action shall be deemed automatically reproduced in the criminal action without
prejudice to the right of the prosecution to cross-examine the witnesses presented by the offended party
in the criminal case and of the parties to present additional evidence. The consolidated criminal and civil
actions shall be tried and decided jointly.

Where the civil action has been filed separately and trial thereof has not yet commenced, it may be
consolidated with the criminal action upon application with the court trying the latter case. If the
application is granted, the trial of both actions shall proceed in accordance with section 2 of this rule
governing consolidation of the civil and criminal actions. (Emphasis supplied)
Under Section 1 of the present Rule 111, what is deemed instituted with the criminal action is only the
action to recover civil liability arising from the crime or ex-delicto. All the other civil actions under Articles
32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code are no longer deemed instituted, and may be filed separately and
prosecuted independently even without any reservation in the criminal action. The failure to make a
reservation in the criminal action is not a waiver of the right to file a separate and independent civil action
based on these articles of the Civil Code. The prescriptive period on the civil actions based on these
articles of the Civil Code continues to run even with the filing of the criminal action. Verily, the civil
actions based on these articles of the Civil Code are separate, distinct and independent of the civil action
deemed instituted in the criminal action.[10]

During the pendency of the criminal action, the running of the period of prescription of the civil action
which cannot be instituted separately or whose proceeding has been suspended shall be tolled.
Thus, Section 2, Rule 111 of the present Rules did not change the rule that the separate civil action, filed
to recover damages ex-delicto, is suspended upon the filing of the criminal action. Section 2 of the
present Rule 111 also prohibits the filing, after commencement of the criminal action, of a separate civil
action to recover damages ex-delicto.

Under the present Rule 111, the offended party is still given the option to file a separate civil action to
recover civil liability ex-delicto by reserving such right in the criminal action before the prosecution
presents its evidence. Also, the offended party is deemed to make such reservation if he files a separate
civil action before filing the criminal action. If the civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto is filed
separately but its trial has not yet commenced, the civil action may be consolidated with the criminal
action. The consolidation under this Rule does not apply to separate civil actions arising from the same
act or omission filed under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code.[11]

When civil action may proceed independently


The crucial question now is whether Casupanan and Capitulo, who are not the offended parties in the
criminal case, can file a separate civil action against the offended party in the criminal case. Section 3,
Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules provides as follows:
SEC 3. When civil action may proceed independently. - In the cases provided in Articles 32, 33, 34 and
2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the independent civil action may be brought by the offended
party. It shall proceed independently of the criminal action and shall require only a preponderance of
evidence. In no case, however, may the offended party recover damages twice for the same act or
omission charged in the criminal action. (Emphasis supplied)

Suspension of the Separate Civil Action


Under Section 2, Rule 111 of the amended 1985 Rules, a separate civil action, if reserved in the criminal
action, could not be filed until after final judgment was rendered in the criminal action. If the separate
civil action was filed before the commencement of the criminal action, the civil action, if still pending, was
suspended upon the filing of the criminal action until final judgment was rendered in the criminal action.
This rule applied only to the separate civil action filed to recover liability ex-delicto. The rule did not
apply to independent civil actions based on Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code, which could
proceed independently regardless of the filing of the criminal action.

Section 3 of the present Rule 111, like its counterpart in the amended 1985 Rules, expressly allows the
offended party to bring an independent civil action under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code.
As stated in Section 3 of the present Rule 111, this civil action shall proceed independently of the
criminal action and shall require only a preponderance of evidence. In no case, however, may the
offended party recover damages twice for the same act or omission charged in the criminal action.

The amended provision of Section 2, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules continues this procedure, to wit:

10

There is no question that the offended party in the criminal action can file an independent civil action for
quasi-delict against the accused. Section 3 of the present Rule 111 expressly states that the offended
party may bring such an action but the offended party may not recover damages twice for the same
act or omission charged in the criminal action. Clearly, Section 3 of Rule 111 refers to the offended party
in the criminal action, not to the accused.

for the same act or omission of the accused. In some instances, the accused may be insolvent,
necessitating the filing of another case against his employer or guardians.
Similarly, the accused can file a civil action for quasi-delict for the same act or omission he is accused of
in the criminal case. This is expressly allowed in paragraph 6, Section 1 of the present Rule 111 which
states that the counterclaim of the accused may be litigated in a separate civil action. This is only fair
for two reasons. First, the accused is prohibited from setting up any counterclaim in the civil aspect that
is deemed instituted in the criminal case. The accused is therefore forced to litigate separately his
counterclaim against the offended party. If the accused does not file a separate civil action for quasidelict, the prescriptive period may set in since the period continues to run until the civil action for quasidelict is filed.

Casupanan and Capitulo, however, invoke the ruling in Cabaero vs. Cantos[12] where the Court held
that the accused therein could validly institute a separate civil action for quasi-delict against the private
complainant in the criminal case. In Cabaero, the accused in the criminal case filed his Answer with
Counterclaim for malicious prosecution. At that time the Court noted the absence of clear-cut rules
governing the prosecution on impliedly instituted civil actions and the necessary consequences and
implications thereof. Thus, the Court ruled that the trial court should confine itself to the criminal aspect
of the case and disregard any counterclaim for civil liability. The Court further ruled that the accused
may file a separate civil case against the offended party after the criminal case is terminated and/or in
accordance with the new Rules which may be promulgated. The Court explained that a cross-claim,
counterclaim or third-party complaint on the civil aspect will only unnecessarily complicate the
proceedings and delay the resolution of the criminal case.

Second, the accused, who is presumed innocent, has a right to invoke Article 2177 of the Civil Code, in
the same way that the offended party can avail of this remedy which is independent of the criminal
action. To disallow the accused from filing a separate civil action for quasi-delict, while refusing to
recognize his counterclaim in the criminal case, is to deny him due process of law, access to the courts,
and equal protection of the law.

Paragraph 6, Section 1 of the present Rule 111 was incorporated in the 2000 Rules precisely to address
the lacuna mentioned in Cabaero. Under this provision, the accused is barred from filing a counterclaim,
cross-claim or third-party complaint in the criminal case. However, the same provision states that any
cause of action which could have been the subject (of the counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party
complaint) may be litigated in a separate civil action. The present Rule 111 mandates the accused to
file his counterclaim in a separate civil action which shall proceed independently of the criminal action,
even as the civil action of the offended party is litigated in the criminal action.

Thus, the civil action based on quasi-delict filed separately by Casupanan and Capitulo is proper. The
order of dismissal by the MCTC of Civil Case No. 2089 on the ground of forum-shopping is erroneous.
We make this ruling aware of the possibility that the decision of the trial court in the criminal case may
vary with the decision of the trial court in the independent civil action. This possibility has always been
recognized ever since the Civil Code introduced in 1950 the concept of an independent civil action under
Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Code. But the law itself, in Article 31 of the Code, expressly provides
that the independent civil action may proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless
of the result of the latter. In Azucena vs. Potenciano,[13] the Court declared:

Conclusion
Under Section 1 of the present Rule 111, the independent civil action in Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of
the Civil Code is not deemed instituted with the criminal action but may be filed separately by the
offended party even without reservation. The commencement of the criminal action does not suspend
the prosecution of the independent civil action under these articles of the Civil Code. The suspension in
Section 2 of the present Rule 111 refers only to the civil action arising from the crime, if such civil action
is reserved or filed before the commencement of the criminal action.

x x x. There can indeed be no other logical conclusion than this, for to subordinate the civil action
contemplated in the said articles to the result of the criminal prosecution whether it be conviction or
acquittal would render meaningless the independent character of the civil action and the clear
injunction in Article 31 that this action 'may proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and
regardless of the result of the latter.
More than half a century has passed since the Civil Code introduced the concept of a civil action
separate and independent from the criminal action although arising from the same act or omission. The
Court, however, has yet to encounter a case of conflicting and irreconcilable decisions of trial courts, one
hearing the criminal case and the other the civil action for quasi-delict. The fear of conflicting and
irreconcilable decisions may be more apparent than real. In any event, there are sufficient remedies
under the Rules of Court to deal with such remote possibilities.

Thus, the offended party can file two separate suits for the same act or omission. The first a criminal
case where the civil action to recover civil liability ex-delicto is deemed instituted, and the other a civil
case for quasi-delict - without violating the rule on non-forum shopping. The two cases can proceed
simultaneously and independently of each other. The commencement or prosecution of the criminal
action will not suspend the civil action for quasi-delict. The only limitation is that the offended party
cannot recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant. In most cases, the
offended party will have no reason to file a second civil action since he cannot recover damages twice

11

One final point. The Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure took effect on December 1, 2000 while the
MCTC issued the order of dismissal on December 28, 1999 or before the amendment of the rules. The
Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure must be given retroactive effect considering the well-settled rule
that x x x statutes regulating the procedure of the court will be construed as applicable to actions pending
and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are retroactive in that sense and to that
extent.[14]
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is hereby GRANTED. The Resolutions dated
December 28, 1999 and August 24, 2000 in Special Civil Action No. 17-C (99) are ANNULLED and Civil
Case No. 2089 is REINSTATED. SO ORDERED.

CARLOS vs SANDOVAL
December 16, 2008
JUAN DE DIOS CARLOS, petitioner,
vs.
FELICIDAD SANDOVAL, also known as FELICIDAD S. VDA. DE CARLOS or FELICIDAD SANDOVAL
CARLOS or FELICIDAD SANDOVAL VDA. DE CARLOS, and TEOFILO CARLOS II, respondents.
DECISION
REYES, R.T., J.:
ONLY a spouse can initiate an action to sever the marital bond for marriages solemnized during the
effectivity of the Family Code, except cases commenced prior to March 15, 2003. The nullity and
annulment of a marriage cannot be declared in a judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or
confession of judgment.
We pronounce these principles as We review on certiorari the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
which reversed and set aside the summary judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in an action for
declaration of nullity of marriage, status of a child, recovery of property, reconveyance, sum of money,
and damages.
The Facts
The events that led to the institution of the instant suitare unveiled as follows:

12

Spouses Felix B. Carlos and Felipa Elemia died intestate. They left six parcels of land to their
compulsory heirs, Teofilo Carlos and petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos. The lots are particularly described
as follows:
Parcel No. 1
Lot No. 162 of the MUNTINLUPA ESTATE SUBDIVISION, Case No. 6137 of the Court of Land
Registration.
Exemption from the provisions of Article 567 of the Civil Code is specifically reserved.
Area: 1 hectare, 06 ares, 07 centares.
Parcel No. 2
A parcel of land (Lot No. 159-B), being a portion of Lot 159, situated in the Bo. of Alabang, Municipality
of Muntinlupa, Province of Rizal, x x x containing an area of Thirteen Thousand Four Hundred Forty One
(13,441) square meters.
Parcel No. 3
A parcel of land (Lot 159-B-2 of the subd. plan [LRC] Psd-325903, approved as a non-subd. project),
being a portion of Lot 159-B [LRC] Psd- Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Island of Luzon.
Bounded on the NE, points 2 to 4 by Lot 155, Muntinlupa Estate; on the SE, point 4 to 5 by Lot 159-B-5;
on the S, points 5 to 1 by Lot 159-B-3; on the W, points 1 to 2 by Lot 159-B-1 (Road widening) all of the
subd. plan, containing an area of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY (130) SQ. METERS, more or less.
PARCEL No. 4
A parcel of land (Lot 28-C of the subd. plan Psd-13-007090, being a portion of Lot 28, Muntinlupa Estate,
L.R.C. Rec. No. 6137), situated in the Bo. of Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. Bounded on
the NE, along lines 1-2 by Lot 27, Muntinlupa Estate; on the East & SE, along lines 2 to 6 by
Mangangata River; and on the West., along line 6-1, by Lot 28-B of the subd. plan x x x containing an
area of ONE THUSAND AND SEVENTY-SIX (1,076) SQUARE METERS.
PARCEL No. 5
PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 50, Manzana No. 18, de la subd. de Solocan. Linda por el NW, con la
parcela 49; por el NE, con la parcela 36; por el SE, con la parcela 51; y por el SW, con la calle Dos
Castillas. Partiendo de un punto marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se halla a S. gds. 01'W, 72.50 mts.
Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila, situado on el
esquina E. que forman las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo un extension superficial de
CIENTO CINCUENTA (150) METROS CUADRADOS.
PARCEL No. 6
PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 51, Manzana No. 18, de la subd. De Solocon. Linda por el NW, con la
parcela 50; por el NE, con la parcela 37; por el SE, con la parcela 52; por el SW, con la Calle Dos
Castillas. Partiendo de un punto Marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se halla at S. 43 gds. 01'E, 82.50 mts.
Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila, situado on el
esquina E. que forman las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo una extension superficial de
CIENTO CINCUENTA (150) METROS CUADRADOS.3
During the lifetime of Felix Carlos, he agreed to transfer his estate to Teofilo. The agreement was made
in order to avoid the payment of inheritance taxes. Teofilo, in turn, undertook to deliver and turn over the
share of the other legal heir, petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos.

Eventually, the first three (3) parcels of land were transferred and registered in the name of Teofilo.
These three (3) lots are now covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 234824 issued by the
Registry of Deeds of Makati City; TCT No. 139061 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; and
TCT No. 139058 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City.
Parcel No. 4 was registered in the name of petitioner. The lot is now covered by TCT No. 160401 issued
by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City.
On May 13, 1992, Teofilo died intestate. He was survived by respondents Felicidad and their son, Teofilo
Carlos II (Teofilo II). Upon Teofilo's death, Parcel Nos. 5 & 6 were registered in the name of respondent
Felicidad and co-respondent, Teofilo II. The said two (2) parcels of land are covered by TCT Nos.
219877 and 210878, respectively, issued by the Registry of Deeds of Manila.
In 1994, petitioner instituted a suit against respondents before the RTC in Muntinlupa City, docketed as
Civil Case No. 94-1964. In the said case, the parties submitted and caused the approval of a partial
compromise agreement. Under the compromise, the parties acknowledged their respective shares in the
proceeds from the sale of a portion of the first parcel of land. This includes the remaining 6,691-squaremeter portion of said land.
On September 17, 1994, the parties executed a deed of extrajudicial partition, dividing the remaining
land of the first parcel between them.
Meanwhile, in a separate case entitled Rillo v. Carlos,4 2,331 square meters of the second parcel of land
were adjudicated in favor of plaintiffs Rillo. The remaining 10,000-square meter portion was later divided
between petitioner and respondents.
The division was incorporated in a supplemental compromise agreement executed on August 17, 1994,
with respect to Civil Case No. 94-1964. The parties submitted the supplemental compromise agreement,
which was approved accordingly.
Petitioner and respondents entered into two more contracts in August 1994. Under the contracts, the
parties equally divided between them the third and fourth parcels of land.
In August 1995, petitioner commenced an action, docketed as Civil Case No. 95-135, against
respondents before the court a quo with the following causes of action: (a) declaration of nullity of
marriage; (b) status of a child; (c) recovery of property; (d) reconveyance; and (e) sum of money and
damages. The complaint was raffled to Branch 256 of the RTC in Muntinlupa.
In his complaint, petitioner asserted that the marriage between his late brother Teofilo and respondent
Felicidad was a nullity in view of the absence of the required marriage license. He likewise maintained
that his deceased brother was neither the natural nor the adoptive father of respondent Teofilo Carlos II.
Petitioner likewise sought the avoidance of the contracts he entered into with respondent Felicidad with
respect to the subject real properties. He also prayed for the cancellation of the certificates of title issued
in the name of respondents. He argued that the properties covered by such certificates of title, including
the sums received by respondents as proceeds, should be reconveyed to him.
Finally, petitioner claimed indemnification as and by way of moral and exemplary damages, attorney's
fees, litigation expenses, and costs of suit.
On October 16, 1995, respondents submitted their answer. They denied the material averments of
petitioner's complaint. Respondents contended that the dearth of details regarding the requisite marriage
license did not invalidate Felicidad's marriage to Teofilo. Respondents declared that Teofilo II was the
illegitimate child of the deceased Teofilo Carlos with another woman.

13

On the grounds of lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, respondents
prayed for the dismissal of the case before the trial court. They also asked that their counterclaims for
moral and exemplary damages, as well as attorney's fees, be granted.
But before the parties could even proceed to pre-trial, respondents moved for summary judgment.
Attached to the motion was the affidavit of the justice of the peace who solemnized the marriage.
Respondents also submitted the Certificate of Live Birth of respondent Teofilo II. In the certificate, the
late Teofilo Carlos and respondent Felicidad were designated as parents.
On January 5, 1996, petitioner opposed the motion for summary judgment on the ground of irregularity
of the contract evidencing the marriage. In the same breath, petitioner lodged his own motion for
summary judgment. Petitioner presented a certification from the Local Civil Registrar of Calumpit,
Bulacan, certifying that there is no record of birth of respondent Teofilo II.
Petitioner also incorporated in the counter-motion for summary judgment the testimony of respondent
Felicidad in another case. Said testimony was made in Civil Case No. 89-2384, entitled Carlos v.
Gorospe, before the RTC Branch 255, Las Pias. In her testimony, respondent Felicidad narrated that
co-respondent Teofilo II is her child with Teofilo.5
Subsequently, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa submitted to the trial court its report and
manifestation, discounting the possibility of collusion between the parties.
RTC and CA Dispositions
On April 8, 1996, the RTC rendered judgment, disposing as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendant's (respondent's) Motion for Summary Judgment is
hereby denied. Plaintiff's (petitioner's) Counter-Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby granted and
summary judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff as follows:
1. Declaring the marriage between defendant Felicidad Sandoval and Teofilo Carlos solemnized at
Silang, Cavite on May 14, 1962, evidenced by the Marriage Certificate submitted in this case, null and
void ab initio for lack of the requisite marriage license;
2. Declaring that the defendant minor, Teofilo S. Carlos II, is not the natural, illegitimate, or legally
adopted child of the late Teofilo E. Carlos;
3. Ordering defendant Sandoval to pay and restitute to plaintiff the sum of P18,924,800.00 together with
the interest thereon at the legal rate from date of filing of the instant complaint until fully paid;
4. Declaring plaintiff as the sole and exclusive owner of the parcel of land, less the portion adjudicated to
plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 11975, covered by TCT No. 139061 of the Register of Deeds of Makati City,
and ordering said Register of Deeds to cancel said title and to issue another title in the sole name of
plaintiff herein;
5. Declaring the Contract, Annex "K" of complaint, between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and
void, and ordering the Register of Deeds of Makati City to cancel TCT No. 139058 in the name of Teofilo
Carlos, and to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein;
6. Declaring the Contract, Annex M of the complaint, between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and
void;
7. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210877 in the names of defendant Sandoval and defendant
minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue another title in the
exclusive name of plaintiff herein;

8. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210878 in the name of defendant Sandoval and defendant Minor
Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue another title in the sole name of
plaintiff herein.
Let this case be set for hearing for the reception of plaintiff's evidence on his claim for moral damages,
exemplary damages, attorney's fees, appearance fees, and litigation expenses on June 7, 1996 at 1:30
o'clock in the afternoon.
SO ORDERED.6
Dissatisfied, respondents appealed to the CA. In the appeal, respondents argued, inter alia, that the trial
court acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in rendering summary judgment annulling the marriage of
Teofilo, Sr. and Felicidad and in declaring Teofilo II as not an illegitimate child of Teofilo, Sr.
On October 15, 2002, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC ruling, disposing as follows:
WHEREFORE, the summary judgment appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and in lieu
thereof, a new one is entered REMANDING the case to the court of origin for further proceedings.
SO ORDERED.7
The CA opined:
We find the rendition of the herein appealed summary judgment by the court a quo contrary to law and
public policy as ensconced in the aforesaid safeguards. The fact that it was appellants who first sought
summary judgment from the trial court, did not justify the grant thereof in favor of appellee. Not being an
action "to recover upon a claim" or "to obtain a declaratory relief," the rule on summary judgment apply
(sic) to an action to annul a marriage. The mere fact that no genuine issue was presented and the desire
to expedite the disposition of the case cannot justify a misinterpretation of the rule. The first paragraph of
Article 88 and 101 of the Civil Code expressly prohibit the rendition of decree of annulment of a marriage
upon a stipulation of facts or a confession of judgment. Yet, the affidavits annexed to the petition for
summary judgment practically amount to these methods explicitly proscribed by the law.
We are not unmindful of appellee's argument that the foregoing safeguards have traditionally been
applied to prevent collusion of spouses in the matter of dissolution of marriages and that the death of
Teofilo Carlos on May 13, 1992 had effectively dissolved the marriage herein impugned. The fact,
however, that appellee's own brother and appellant Felicidad Sandoval lived together as husband and
wife for thirty years and that the annulment of their marriage is the very means by which the latter is
sought to be deprived of her participation in the estate left by the former call for a closer and more
thorough inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the case. Rather that the summary nature by which
the court a quo resolved the issues in the case, the rule is to the effect that the material facts alleged in
the complaint for annulment of marriage should always be proved. Section 1, Rule 19 of the Revised
Rules of Court provides:
"Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. - Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits
the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct
judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation, the material
facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved." (Underscoring supplied)
Moreover, even if We were to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary judgment to the case at
bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the court a quo for appellee would still not be
warranted. While it may be readily conceded that a valid marriage license is among the formal requisites
of marriage, the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) in relation

14

to Article 58 of the Civil Code the failure to reflect the serial number of the marriage license on the
marriage contract evidencing the marriage between Teofilo Carlos and appellant Felicidad Sandoval,
although irregular, is not as fatal as appellee represents it to be. Aside from the dearth of evidence to the
contrary, appellant Felicidad Sandoval's affirmation of the existence of said marriage license is
corroborated by the following statement in the affidavit executed by Godofredo Fojas, then Justice of the
Peace who officiated the impugned marriage, to wit:
"That as far as I could remember, there was a marriage license issued at Silang, Cavite on May 14, 1962
as basis of the said marriage contract executed by Teofilo Carlos and Felicidad Sandoval, but the
number of said marriage license was inadvertently not placed in the marriage contract for the reason that
it was the Office Clerk who filled up the blanks in the Marriage Contract who in turn, may have
overlooked the same."
Rather than the inferences merely drawn by the trial court, We are of the considered view that the
veracity and credibility of the foregoing statement as well as the motivations underlying the same should
be properly threshed out in a trial of the case on the merits.
If the non-presentation of the marriage contract - the primary evidence of marriage - is not proof that a
marriage did not take place, neither should appellants' non-presentation of the subject marriage license
be taken as proof that the same was not procured. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the
marriage, it must be emphasized, rests upon the plaintiff and any doubt should be resolved in favor of
the validity of the marriage.
Considering that the burden of proof also rests on the party who disputes the legitimacy of a particular
party, the same may be said of the trial court's rejection of the relationship between appellant Teofilo
Carlos II and his putative father on the basis of the inconsistencies in appellant Felicidad Sandoval's
statements. Although it had effectively disavowed appellant's prior claims regarding the legitimacy of
appellant Teofilo Carlos II, the averment in the answer that he is the illegitimate son of appellee's brother,
to Our mind, did not altogether foreclose the possibility of the said appellant's illegitimate filiation, his
right to prove the same or, for that matter, his entitlement to inheritance rights as such.
Without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case, We find appellee's bare allegation that
appellant Teofilo Carlos II was merely purchased from an indigent couple by appellant Felicidad
Sandoval, on the whole, insufficient to support what could well be a minor's total forfeiture of the rights
arising from his putative filiation. Inconsistent though it may be to her previous statements, appellant
Felicidad Sandoval's declaration regarding the illegitimate filiation of Teofilo Carlos II is more credible
when considered in the light of the fact that, during the last eight years of his life, Teofilo Carlos allowed
said appellant the use of his name and the shelter of his household. The least that the trial court could
have done in the premises was to conduct a trial on the merits in order to be able to thoroughly resolve
the issues pertaining to the filiation of appellant Teofilo Carlos II.8
On November 22, 2006, petitioner moved for reconsideration and for the inhibition of the ponente,
Justice Rebecca De Guia-Salvador. The CA denied the twin motions.
Issues
In this petition under Rule 45, petitioner hoists the following issues:
1. That, in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment under the Decision, Annex A hereof, and
in denying petitioner's Motion for reconsideration under the Resolution, Annex F hereof, with respect to
the nullity of the impugned marriage, petitioner respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed

a grave reversible error in applying Articles 88 and 101 of the Civil Code, despite the fact that the
circumstances of this case are different from that contemplated and intended by law, or has otherwise
decided a question of substance not theretofore decided by the Supreme Court, or has decided it in a
manner probably not in accord with law or with the applicable decisions of this Honorable Court;
2. That in setting aside and reversing the Summary Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another
remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits
that the Court of Appeals committed a serious reversible error in applying Section 1, Rule 19 (now
Section 1, Rule 34) of the Rules of Court providing for judgment on the pleadings, instead of Rule 35
governing Summary Judgments;
3. That in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another
remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits
that the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion, disregarded judicial admissions, made
findings on ground of speculations, surmises, and conjectures, or otherwise committed misapplications
of the laws and misapprehension of the facts.9 (Underscoring supplied)
Essentially, the Court is tasked to resolve whether a marriage may be declared void ab initio through a
judgment on the pleadings or a summary judgment and without the benefit of a trial. But there are other
procedural issues, including the capacity of one who is not a spouse in bringing the action for nullity of
marriage.
Our Ruling
I. The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage must be proved. Neither judgment on the
pleadings nor summary judgment is allowed. So is confession of judgment disallowed.
Petitioner faults the CA in applying Section 1, Rule 1910 of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides:
SECTION 1. Judgment on the pleadings. - Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits
the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct
judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation, the material
facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved.
He argues that the CA should have applied Rule 35 of the Rules of Court governing summary judgment,
instead of the rule on judgment on the pleadings.
Petitioner is misguided. The CA did not limit its finding solely within the provisions of the Rule on
judgment on the pleadings. In disagreeing with the trial court, the CA likewise considered the provisions
on summary judgments, to wit:
Moreover, even if We are to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary judgment to the case at
bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the court a quo for appellee would still not be
warranted. x x x11
But whether it is based on judgment on the pleadings or summary judgment, the CA was correct in
reversing the summary judgment rendered by the trial court. Both the rules on judgment on the
pleadings and summary judgments have no place in cases of declaration of absolute nullity of marriage
and even in annulment of marriage.
With the advent of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, known as "Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages," the question on the application of summary judgments
or even judgment on the pleadings in cases of nullity or annulment of marriage has been stamped with

15

clarity. The significant principle laid down by the said Rule, which took effect on March 15, 200312 is
found in Section 17, viz.:
SEC. 17. Trial. - (1) The presiding judge shall personally conduct the trial of the case. No delegation of
evidence to a commissioner shall be allowed except as to matters involving property relations of the
spouses.
(2) The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of marriage must be proved. No
judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of judgment shall be allowed.
(Underscoring supplied)
Likewise instructive is the Court's pronouncement in Republic v. Sandiganbayan.13 In that case, We
excluded actions for nullity or annulment of marriage from the application of summary judgments.
Prescinding from the foregoing discussion, save for annulment of marriage or declaration of its nullity or
for legal separation, summary judgment is applicable to all kinds of actions.14 (Underscoring supplied)
By issuing said summary judgment, the trial court has divested the State of its lawful right and duty to
intervene in the case. The participation of the State is not terminated by the declaration of the public
prosecutor that no collusion exists between the parties. The State should have been given the
opportunity to present controverting evidence before the judgment was rendered.15
Both the Civil Code and the Family Code ordain that the court should order the prosecuting attorney to
appear and intervene for the State. It is at this stage when the public prosecutor sees to it that there is
no suppression of evidence. Concomitantly, even if there is no suppression of evidence, the public
prosecutor has to make sure that the evidence to be presented or laid down before the court is not
fabricated.
To further bolster its role towards the preservation of marriage, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute
Nullity of Void Marriages reiterates the duty of the public prosecutor, viz.:
SEC. 13. Effect of failure to appear at the pre-trial. - (a) x x x
(b) x x x If there is no collusion, the court shall require the public prosecutor to intervene for the State
during the trial on the merits to prevent suppression or fabrication of evidence. (Underscoring supplied)
Truly, only the active participation of the public prosecutor or the Solicitor General will ensure that the
interest of the State is represented and protected in proceedings for declaration of nullity of marriages by
preventing the fabrication or suppression of evidence.16
II. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or
wife. Exceptions: (1) Nullity of marriage cases commenced before the effectivity of A.M. No. 02-11-10SC; and (2) Marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil Code.
Under the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
Marriages, the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may not be filed by any party
outside of the marriage. The Rule made it exclusively a right of the spouses by stating:
SEC. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. (a) Who may file. - A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the
husband or the wife. (Underscoring supplied)
Section 2(a) of the Rule makes it the sole right of the husband or the wife to file a petition for declaration
of absolute nullity of void marriage. The rationale of the Rule is enlightening, viz.:
Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable marriages or
declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate

heirs of the spouses or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they do not have a legal right to
file the petition.Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the death of their
predecessor, and, hence, can only question the validity of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of
a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular
courts. On the other hand, the concern of the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its
dissolution.17 (Underscoring supplied)
The new Rule recognizes that the husband and the wife are the sole architects of a healthy, loving,
peaceful marriage. They are the only ones who can decide when and how to build the foundations of
marriage. The spouses alone are the engineers of their marital life. They are simultaneously the directors
and actors of their matrimonial true-to-life play. Hence, they alone can and should decide when to take a
cut, but only in accordance with the grounds allowed by law.
The innovation incorporated in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC sets forth a demarcation line between marriages
covered by the Family Code and those solemnized under the Civil Code. The Rule extends only to
marriages entered into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988.18
The advent of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages marks the beginning of the
end of the right of the heirs of the deceased spouse to bring a nullity of marriage case against the
surviving spouse. But the Rule never intended to deprive the compulsory or intestate heirs of their
successional rights.
While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may
be filed solely by the husband or the wife, it does not mean that the compulsory or intestate heirs are
without any recourse under the law. They can still protect their successional right, for, as stated in the
Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages, compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the validity of the marriage of the spouses, not
in a proceeding for declaration of nullity but upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the
settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts.19
It is emphasized, however, that the Rule does not apply to cases already commenced before March 15,
2003 although the marriage involved is within the coverage of the Family Code. This is so, as the new
Rule which became effective on March 15, 200320 is prospective in its application. Thus, the Court held
in Enrico v. Heirs of Sps. Medinaceli,21 viz.:
As has been emphasized, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC covers marriages under the Family Code of the
Philippines, and is prospective in its application.22 (Underscoring supplied)
Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage case against respondent Felicidad in 1995. The marriage in
controversy was celebrated on May 14, 1962. Which law would govern depends upon when the
marriage took place.23
The marriage having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable law is the
Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration.24 But the Civil Code is silent as to
who may bring an action to declare the marriage void. Does this mean that any person can bring an
action for the declaration of nullity of marriage?
We respond in the negative. The absence of a provision in the Civil Code cannot be construed as a
license for any person to institute a nullity of marriage case. Such person must appear to be the party
who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the

16

suit.25 Elsewise stated, plaintiff must be the real party-in-interest. For it is basic in procedural law that
every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party-in-interest.26
Interest within the meaning of the rule means material interest or an interest in issue to be affected by
the decree or judgment of the case, as distinguished from mere curiosity about the question involved or
a mere incidental interest. One having no material interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the
court as plaintiff in an action. When plaintiff is not the real party-in-interest, the case is dismissible on the
ground of lack of cause of action.27
Illuminating on this point is Amor-Catalan v. Court of Appeals,28 where the Court held:
True, under the New Civil Code which is the law in force at the time the respondents were married, or
even in the Family Code, there is no specific provision as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity
of marriage; however, only a party who can demonstrate "proper interest" can file the same. A petition to
declare the nullity of marriage, like any other actions, must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the
real party-in-interest and must be based on a cause of action. Thus, in Nial v. Badayog, the Court held
that the children have the personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage of their
deceased father to their stepmother as it affects their successional rights.
xxxx
In fine, petitioner's personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage cannot be ascertained
because of the absence of the divorce decree and the foreign law allowing it. Hence, a remand of the
case to the trial court for reception of additional evidence is necessary to determine whether respondent
Orlando was granted a divorce decree and whether the foreign law which granted the same allows or
restricts remarriage. If it is proved that a valid divorce decree was obtained and the same did not allow
respondent Orlando's remarriage, then the trial court should declare respondent's marriage as bigamous
and void ab initio but reduced the amount of moral damages from P300,000.00 to P50,000.00 and
exemplary damages from P200,000.00 to P25,000.00. On the contrary, if it is proved that a valid divorce
decree was obtained which allowed Orlando to remarry, then the trial court must dismiss the instant
petition to declare nullity of marriage on the ground that petitioner Felicitas Amor-Catalan lacks legal
personality to file the same.29(Underscoring supplied)
III. The case must be remanded to determine whether or not petitioner is a real-party-in-interest to seek
the declaration of nullity of the marriage in controversy.
In the case at bench, the records reveal that when Teofilo died intestate in 1992, his only surviving
compulsory heirs are respondent Felicidad and their son, Teofilo II. Under the law on succession,
successional rights are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent and the compulsory heirs
are called to succeed by operation of law.30
Upon Teofilo's death in 1992, all his property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the
inheritance are transmitted to his compulsory heirs. These heirs were respondents Felicidad and Teofilo
II, as the surviving spouse and child, respectively.
Article 887 of the Civil Code outlined who are compulsory heirs, to wit:
(1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants;
(2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children
and descendants;
(3) The widow or widower;
(4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction;

(5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287 of the Civil Code.31
Clearly, a brother is not among those considered as compulsory heirs. But although a collateral relative,
such as a brother, does not fall within the ambit of a compulsory heir, he still has a right to succeed to the
estate. Articles 1001 and 1003 of the New Civil Code provide:
ART. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower, the latter
shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the other
half.
ART. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the
collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in accordance with the following
articles. (Underscoring supplied)
Indeed, only the presence of descendants, ascendants or illegitimate children excludes collateral
relatives from succeeding to the estate of the decedent. The presence of legitimate, illegitimate, or
adopted child or children of the deceased precludes succession by collateral relatives.32 Conversely, if
there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral relatives
shall succeed to the entire estate of the decedent.33
If respondent Teofilo II is declared and finally proven not to be the legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son
of Teofilo, petitioner would then have a personality to seek the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother
with respondent Felicidad. This is so, considering that collateral relatives, like a brother and sister,
acquire successional right over the estate if the decedent dies without issue and without ascendants in
the direct line.
The records reveal that Teofilo was predeceased by his parents. He had no other siblings but petitioner.
Thus, if Teofilo II is finally found and proven to be not a legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of Teofilo,
petitioner succeeds to the other half of the estate of his brother, the first half being allotted to the widow
pursuant to Article 1001 of the New Civil Code. This makes petitioner a real-party-interest to seek the
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage of his deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. If the
subject marriage is found to be void ab initio, petitioner succeeds to the entire estate.
It bears stressing, however, that the legal personality of petitioner to bring the nullity of marriage case is
contingent upon the final declaration that Teofilo II is not a legitimate, adopted, or illegitimate son of
Teofilo.
If Teofilo II is proven to be a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted son of Teofilo, then petitioner has
no legal personality to ask for the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother and respondent Felicidad.
This is based on the ground that he has no successional right to be protected, hence, does not have
proper interest. For although the marriage in controversy may be found to be void from the beginning,
still, petitioner would not inherit. This is because the presence of descendant, illegitimate,34 or even an
adopted child35 excludes the collateral relatives from inheriting from the decedent.
Thus, the Court finds that a remand of the case for trial on the merits to determine the validity or nullity of
the subject marriage is called for. But the RTC is strictly instructed to dismiss the nullity of marriage case
for lack of cause of action if it is proven by evidence that Teofilo II is a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally
adopted son of Teofilo Carlos, the deceased brother of petitioner.
IV. Remand of the case regarding the question of filiation of respondent Teofilo II is proper and in order.
There is a need to vacate the disposition of the trial court as to the other causes of action before it.

17

Petitioner did not assign as error or interpose as issue the ruling of the CA on the remand of the case
concerning the filiation of respondent Teofilo II. This notwithstanding, We should not leave the matter
hanging in limbo.
This Court has the authority to review matters not specifically raised or assigned as error by the parties,
if their consideration is necessary in arriving at a just resolution of the case.36
We agree with the CA that without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case, petitioner's
bare allegation that respondent Teofilo II was adopted from an indigent couple is insufficient to support a
total forfeiture of rights arising from his putative filiation. However, We are not inclined to support its
pronouncement that the declaration of respondent Felicidad as to the illegitimate filiation of respondent
Teofilo II is more credible. For the guidance of the appellate court, such declaration of respondent
Felicidad should not be afforded credence. We remind the CA of the guaranty provided by Article 167 of
the Family Code to protect the status of legitimacy of a child, to wit:
ARTICLE 167. The child shall be considered legitimate although the mother may have declared against
its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress. (Underscoring supplied)
It is stressed that Felicidad's declaration against the legitimate status of Teofilo II is the very act that is
proscribed by Article 167 of the Family Code. The language of the law is unmistakable. An assertion by
the mother against the legitimacy of her child cannot affect the legitimacy of a child born or conceived
within a valid marriage.37
Finally, the disposition of the trial court in favor of petitioner for causes of action concerning
reconveyance, recovery of property, and sum of money must be vacated. This has to be so, as said
disposition was made on the basis of its finding that the marriage in controversy was null and void ab
initio.
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is MODIFIED as follows:
1. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court in regard to the action on the status and filiation
of respondent Teofilo Carlos II and the validity or nullity of marriage between respondent Felicidad
Sandoval and the late Teofilo Carlos;
2. If Teofilo Carlos II is proven to be the legitimate, or illegitimate, or legally adopted son of the late
Teofilo Carlos, the RTC is strictly INSTRUCTED to DISMISS the action for nullity of marriage for lack of
cause of action;
3. The disposition of the RTC in Nos. 1 to 8 of the fallo of its decision is VACATED AND SET ASIDE.
The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to conduct trial on the merits with dispatch and to give this case
priority in its calendar.
No costs.

CHENG vs SY
July 7, 2009
This is a petition[1] for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court of the Order dated
January 2, 2006[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 18, Manila in Civil Case No. 05-112452
entitled Anita Cheng v. Spouses William Sy and Tessie Sy.
The antecedents are as follows
Petitioner Anita Cheng filed two (2) estafa cases before the RTC, Branch 7, Manila against
respondent spouses William and Tessie Sy (Criminal Case No. 98-969952 against Tessie Sy and
Criminal Case No. 98-969953 against William Sy) for issuing to her Philippine Bank of Commerce (PBC)
Check Nos. 171762 and 71860 for P300,000.00 each, in payment of their loan, both of which were
dishonored upon presentment for having been drawn against a closed account.
Meanwhile, based on the same facts, petitioner, on January 20, 1999, filed against respondents
two (2) cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP Blg.) 22 before the Metropolitan Trial Court
(MeTC), Branch 25, Manila (Criminal Case Nos. 341458-59).
On March 16, 2004, the RTC, Branch 7, Manila dismissed the estafa cases for failure of the
prosecution to prove the elements of the crime. The Order dismissing Criminal Case No. 98-969952
contained no declaration as to the civil liability of Tessie Sy.[3] On the other hand, the Order in Criminal
Case No. 98-969953 contained a statement, Hence, if there is any liability of the accused, the same is
purely civil, not criminal in nature.[4]
Later, the MeTC, Branch 25, Manila, dismissed, on demurrer, the BP Blg. 22 cases in its Order[5]
dated February 7, 2005 on account of the failure of petitioner to identify the accused respondents in

18

open court. The Order also did not make any pronouncement as to the civil liability of accused
respondents.

(5)
the civil complaint is based on an obligation ex-contractu and not ex-delicto pursuant to Article
31[11] of the Civil Code; and

On April 26, 2005, petitioner lodged against respondents before the RTC, Branch 18, Manila, a
complaint[6] for collection of a sum of money with damages (Civil Case No. 05-112452) based on the
same loaned amount of P600,000.00 covered by the two PBC checks previously subject of the estafa
and BP Blg. 22 cases.

(6)

In the assailed Order[7] dated January 2, 2006, the RTC, Branch 18, Manila, dismissed the
complaint for lack of jurisdiction, ratiocinating that the civil action to collect the amount of P600,000.00
with damages was already impliedly instituted in the BP Blg. 22 cases in light of Section 1, paragraph (b)
of Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Court.

The rule is that upon the filing of the estafa and BP Blg. 22 cases against respondents, where the
petitioner has not made any waiver, express reservation to litigate separately, or has not instituted the
corresponding civil action to collect the amount of P600,000.00 and damages prior to the criminal action,
the civil action is deemed instituted with the criminal cases.[13]

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration[8] which the court denied in its Order[9] dated June 5,
2006. Hence, this petition, raising the sole legal issue

This rule applies especially with the advent of the 2000 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. Thus,
during the pendency of both the estafa and the BP Blg. 22 cases, the action to recover the civil liability
was impliedly instituted and remained pending before the respective trial courts. This is consonant with
our ruling in Rodriguez v. Ponferrada[14] that the possible single civil liability arising from the act of
issuing a bouncing check can be the subject of both civil actions deemed instituted with the estafa case
and the prosecution for violation of BP Blg. 22, simultaneously available to the complaining party, without
traversing the prohibition against forum shopping.[15] Prior to the judgment in either the estafa case or
the BP Blg. 22 case, petitioner, as the complainant, cannot be deemed to have elected either of the civil
actions both impliedly instituted in the said criminal proceedings to the exclusion of the other.[16]
The dismissal of the estafa cases for failure of the prosecution to prove the elements of the crime
beyond reasonable doubtwhere in Criminal Case No. 98-969952 there was no pronouncement as
regards the civil liability of the accused and in Criminal Case No. 98-969953 where the trial court
declared that the liability of the accused was only civil in natureproduced the legal effect of a
reservation by the petitioner of her right to litigate separately the civil action impliedly instituted with the
estafa cases, following Article 29 of the Civil Code.[17]

the claim for civil liability for damages may be had under Article 29[12] of the Civil Code.

Petitioner also points out that she was not assisted by any private prosecutor in the BP Blg. 22
proceedings.

Whether or not Section 1 of Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure and Supreme
Court Circular No. 57-97 on the Rules and Guidelines in the filing and prosecution of criminal cases
under BP Blg. 22 are applicable to the present case where the nature of the order dismissing the cases
for bouncing checks against the respondents was [based] on the failure of the prosecution to identify
both the accused (respondents herein)?[10]

Essentially, petitioner argues that since the BP Blg. 22 cases were filed on January 20, 1999, the
2000 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure promulgated on December 1, 2000 should not apply, as it
must be given only prospective application. She further contends that that her case falls within the
following exceptions to the rule that the civil action correspondent to the criminal action is deemed
instituted with the latter
(1) additional evidence as to the identities of the accused is necessary for the resolution of the civil
aspect of the case;

However, although this civil action could have been litigated separately on account of the
dismissal of the estafa cases on reasonable doubt, the petitioner was deemed to have also elected that
such civil action be prosecuted together with the BP Blg. 22 cases in light of the Rodriguez v. Ponferrada
ruling.

(2) a separate complaint would be just as efficacious as or even more expedient than a timely remand
to the trial court where the criminal action was decided for further hearings on the civil aspect of the
case;
(3) the trial court failed to make any pronouncement as to the civil liability of the accused amounting to
a reservation of the right to have the civil liability litigated in a separate action;

With the dismissal of the BP Blg. 22 cases for failure to establish the identity of the accused, the
question that arises is whether such dismissal would have the same legal effect as the dismissed estafa
cases. Put differently, may petitioners action to recover respondents civil liability be also allowed to
prosper separately after the BP Blg. 22 cases were dismissed?

(4)

Section 1 (b), Rule 111 of the 2000 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure states

the trial court did not declare that the facts from which the civil liability might arise did not exist;

Section 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions.

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xxx

However, in applying the procedure discussed above, it appears that petitioner would be left without a
remedy to recover from respondents the P600,000.00 allegedly loaned from her. This could prejudice
even the petitioners Notice of Claim involving the same amount filed in Special Proceedings No. 9888390 (Petition for Voluntary Insolvency by Kolin Enterprises, William Sy and Tessie Sy), which case
was reportedly archived for failure to prosecute the petition for an unreasonable length of time.[21]
Expectedly, respondents would raise the same defense that petitioner had already elected to litigate the
civil action to recover the amount of the checks along with the BP Blg. 22 cases.

(b) The criminal action for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 shall be deemed to include the
corresponding civil action. No reservation to file such civil action separately shall be allowed.
Upon filing of the joint criminal and civil actions, the offended party shall pay in full the filing fees
based on the amount of the check involved, which shall be considered as the actual damages claimed.
Where the complaint or information also seeks to recover liquidated, moral, nominal, temperate or
exemplary damages, the offended party shall pay the filing fees based on the amounts alleged therein.
If the amounts are not so alleged but any of these damages [is] subsequently awarded by the court, the
filing fees based on the amount awarded shall constitute a first lien on the judgment.

It is in this light that we find petitioners contention that she was not assisted by a private
prosecutor during the BP Blg. 22 proceedings critical. Petitioner indirectly protests that the public
prosecutor failed to protect and prosecute her cause when he failed to have her establish the identities
of the accused during the trial and when he failed to appeal the civil action deemed impliedly instituted
with the BP Blg. 22 cases. On this ground, we agree with petitioner.

Where the civil action has been filed separately and trial thereof has not yet commenced, it may
be consolidated with the criminal action upon application with the court trying the latter case. If the
application is granted, the trial of both actions shall proceed in accordance with section 2 of this Rule
governing consolidation of the civil and criminal actions.

Faced with the dismissal of the BP Blg. 22 cases, petitioners recourse pursuant to the prevailing rules of
procedure would have been to appeal the civil action to recover the amount loaned to respondents
corresponding to the bounced checks. Hence, the said civil action may proceed requiring only a
preponderance of evidence on the part of petitioner. Her failure to appeal within the reglementary period
was tantamount to a waiver altogether of the remedy to recover the civil liability of respondents.
However, due to the gross mistake of the prosecutor in the BP Blg. 22 cases, we are constrained to
digress from this rule.

Petitioner is in error when she insists that the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure should not apply
because she filed her BP Blg. 22 complaints in 1999. It is now settled that rules of procedure apply even
to cases already pending at the time of their promulgation. The fact that procedural statutes may
somehow affect the litigants rights does not preclude their retroactive application to pending actions. It
is axiomatic that the retroactive application of procedural laws does not violate any right of a person who
may feel that he is adversely affected, nor is it constitutionally objectionable. The reason for this is that,
as a general rule, no vested right may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws.[18]

It is true that clients are bound by the mistakes, negligence and omission of their counsel.[22] But
this rule admits of exceptions (1) where the counsels mistake is so great and serious that the client is
prejudiced and denied his day in court, or (2) where the counsel is guilty of gross negligence resulting in
the clients deprivation of liberty or property without due process of law.[23] Tested against these
guidelines, we hold that petitioners lot falls within the exceptions.

Indeed, under the present revised Rules, the criminal action for violation of BP Blg. 22 includes the
corresponding civil action to recover the amount of the checks. It should be stressed, this policy is
intended to discourage the separate filing of the civil action. In fact, the Rules even prohibits the
reservation of a separate civil action, i.e., one can no longer file a separate civil case after the criminal
complaint is filed in court. The only instance when separate proceedings are allowed is when the civil
action is filed ahead of the criminal case. Even then, the Rules encourages the consolidation of the civil
and criminal cases. Thus, where petitioners rights may be fully adjudicated in the proceedings before
the court trying the BP Blg. 22 cases, resort to a separate action to recover civil liability is clearly
unwarranted on account of res judicata, for failure of petitioner to appeal the civil aspect of the cases. In
view of this special rule governing actions for violation of BP Blg. 22, Article 31 of the Civil Code is not
applicable.[19]

It is an oft-repeated exhortation to counsels to be well-informed of existing laws and rules and to keep
abreast with legal developments, recent enactments and jurisprudence. Unless they faithfully comply
with such duty, they may not be able to discharge competently and diligently their obligations as
members of the Bar.[24] Further, lawyers in the government service are expected to be more
conscientious in the performance of their duties as they are subject to public scrutiny. They are not only
members of the Bar but are also public servants who owe utmost fidelity to public service.[25]
Apparently, the public prosecutor neglected to equip himself with the knowledge of the proper procedure
for BP Blg. 22 cases under the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure such that he failed to appeal the civil
action impliedly instituted with the BP Blg. 22 cases, the only remaining remedy available to petitioner to
be able to recover the money she loaned to respondents, upon the dismissal of the criminal cases on
demurrer. By this failure, petitioner was denied her day in court to prosecute the respondents for their
obligation to pay their loan.

Be it remembered that rules governing procedure before the courts, while not cast in stone, are for
the speedy, efficient, and orderly dispensation of justice and should therefore be adhered to in order to
attain this objective.[20]

20

Moreover, we take into consideration the trial courts observation when it dismissed the estafa charge in
Criminal Case No. 98-969953 that if there was any liability on the part of respondents, it was civil in
nature. Hence, if the loan be proven true, the inability of petitioner to recover the loaned amount would
be tantamount to unjust enrichment of respondents, as they may now conveniently evade payment of
their obligation merely on account of a technicality applied against petitioner.
There is unjust enrichment when (1) a person is unjustly benefited, and (2) such benefit is derived at the
expense of or with damages to another. This doctrine simply means that a person shall not be allowed
to profit or enrich himself inequitably at anothers expense. One condition for invoking this principle of
unjust enrichment is that the aggrieved party has no other recourse based on contract, quasi-contract,
crime, quasi-delict or any other provision of law.[26]
Court litigations are primarily designed to search for the truth, and a liberal interpretation and application
of the rules which will give the parties the fullest opportunity to adduce proof is the best way to ferret out
the truth. The dispensation of justice and vindication of legitimate grievances should not be barred by
technicalities.[27] For reasons of substantial justice and equity, as the complement of the legal
jurisdiction that seeks to dispense justice where courts of law, through the inflexibility of their rules and
want of power to adapt their judgments to the special circumstances of cases, are incompetent to do so,
[28] we thus rule, pro hac vice, in favor of petitioner.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Civil Case No. 05-112452 entitled Anita Cheng v.
Spouses William Sy and Tessie Sy is hereby ordered REINSTATED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

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