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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-68470 October 8, 1985
ALICE REYES VAN DORN, petitioner,
vs.
HON. MANUEL V. ROMILLO, JR., as Presiding Judge of Branch CX, Regional Trial Court of the
National Capital Region Pasay City and RICHARD UPTON respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:\
In this Petition for certiorari and Prohibition, petitioner Alice Reyes Van Dorn seeks to set aside the
Orders, dated September 15, 1983 and August 3, 1984, in Civil Case No. 1075-P, issued by respondent
Judge, which denied her Motion to Dismiss said case, and her Motion for Reconsideration of the
Dismissal Order, respectively.
The basic background facts are that petitioner is a citizen of the Philippines while private respondent is a
citizen of the United States; that they were married in Hongkong in 1972; that, after the marriage, they
established their residence in the Philippines; that they begot two children born on April 4, 1973 and
December 18, 1975, respectively; that the parties were divorced in Nevada, United States, in 1982; and
that petitioner has re-married also in Nevada, this time to Theodore Van Dorn.
Dated June 8, 1983, private respondent filed suit against petitioner in Civil Case No. 1075-P of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch CXV, in Pasay City, stating that petitioner's business in Ermita, Manila, (the
Galleon Shop, for short), is conjugal property of the parties, and asking that petitioner be ordered to
render an accounting of that business, and that private respondent be declared with right to manage the
conjugal property. Petitioner moved to dismiss the case on the ground that the cause of action is barred
by previous judgment in the divorce proceedings before the Nevada Court wherein respondent had
acknowledged that he and petitioner had "no community property" as of June 11, 1982. The Court below
denied the Motion to Dismiss in the mentioned case on the ground that the property involved is located in
the Philippines so that the Divorce Decree has no bearing in the case. The denial is now the subject of
this certiorari proceeding.
Generally, the denial of a Motion to Dismiss in a civil case is interlocutory and is not subject to appeal.
certiorari and Prohibition are neither the remedies to question the propriety of an interlocutory order of the
trial Court. However, when a grave abuse of discretion was patently committed, or the lower Court acted
capriciously and whimsically, then it devolves upon this Court in a certiorari proceeding to exercise its
supervisory authority and to correct the error committed which, in such a case, is equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction. 1 Prohibition would then lie since it would be useless and a waste of time to go ahead with the
proceedings. 2 Weconsider the petition filed in this case within the exception, and we have given it due
course.

For resolution is the effect of the foreign divorce on the parties and their alleged conjugal property in the
Philippines.
Petitioner contends that respondent is estopped from laying claim on the alleged conjugal property
because of the representation he made in the divorce proceedings before the American Court that they
had no community of property; that the Galleon Shop was not established through conjugal funds, and
that respondent's claim is barred by prior judgment.
For his part, respondent avers that the Divorce Decree issued by the Nevada Court cannot prevail over
the prohibitive laws of the Philippines and its declared national policy; that the acts and declaration of a
foreign Court cannot, especially if the same is contrary to public policy, divest Philippine Courts of
jurisdiction to entertain matters within its jurisdiction.
For the resolution of this case, it is not necessary to determine whether the property relations between
petitioner and private respondent, after their marriage, were upon absolute or relative community property,
upon complete separation of property, or upon any other regime. The pivotal fact in this case is the
Nevada divorce of the parties.
The Nevada District Court, which decreed the divorce, had obtained jurisdiction over petitioner who
appeared in person before the Court during the trial of the case. It also obtained jurisdiction over private
respondent who, giving his address as No. 381 Bush Street, San Francisco, California, authorized his
attorneys in the divorce case, Karp & Gradt Ltd., to agree to the divorce on the ground of incompatibility in
the understanding that there were neither community property nor community obligations. 3 As explicitly
stated in the Power of Attorney he executed in favor of the law firm of KARP & GRAD LTD., 336 W.
Liberty, Reno, Nevada, to represent him in the divorce proceedings:
xxx xxx xxx
You are hereby authorized to accept service of Summons, to file an Answer, appear on my
behalf and do an things necessary and proper to represent me, without further contesting,
subject to the following:
1. That my spouse seeks a divorce on the ground of incompatibility.
2. That there is no community of property to be adjudicated by the Court.
3. 'I'hat there are no community obligations to be adjudicated by the court.
xxx xxx xxx 4

There can be no question as to the validity of that Nevada divorce in any of the States of the United
States. The decree is binding on private respondent as an American citizen. For instance, private
respondent cannot sue petitioner, as her husband, in any State of the Union. What he is contending in this
case is that the divorce is not valid and binding in this jurisdiction, the same being contrary to local law
and public policy.
It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code, 5 only Philippine
nationals are covered by the policy against absolute divorces the same being considered contrary to our

concept of public police and morality. However, aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be
recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to their national law. 6 In this case, the
divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the marriage from the standards of American law,
under which divorce dissolves the marriage. As stated by the Federal Supreme Court of the United States
in Atherton vs. Atherton, 45 L. Ed. 794, 799:
The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce from the bond of matrimony by a court of
competent jurisdiction are to change the existing status or domestic relation of husband and
wife, and to free them both from the bond. The marriage tie when thus severed as to one
party, ceases to bind either. A husband without a wife, or a wife without a husband, is
unknown to the law. When the law provides, in the nature of a penalty. that the guilty party
shall not marry again, that party, as well as the other, is still absolutely freed from the bond
of the former marriage.
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the husband of petitioner. He would
have no standing to sue in the case below as petitioner's husband entitled to exercise control over
conjugal assets. As he is bound by the Decision of his own country's Court, which validly exercised
jurisdiction over him, and whose decision he does not repudiate, he is estopped by his own representation
before said Court from asserting his right over the alleged conjugal property.
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws, petitioner has to be considered still married
to private respondent and still subject to a wife's obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil Code
cannot be just. Petitioner should not be obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and
render support to private respondent. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs with possible
rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends of
justice are to be served.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is granted, and respondent Judge is hereby ordered to dismiss the Complaint
filed in Civil Case No. 1075-P of his Court.
Without costs.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Plana, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente and Patajo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 80116 June 30, 1989
IMELDA MANALAYSAY PILAPIL, petitioner,
vs.

HON. CORONA IBAY-SOMERA, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Manila, Branch XXVI; HON. LUIS C. VICTOR, in his capacity as the City Fiscal of Manila; and ERICH
EKKEHARD GEILING, respondents.

REGALADO, J.:
An ill-starred marriage of a Filipina and a foreigner which ended in a foreign absolute divorce, only to be
followed by a criminal infidelity suit of the latter against the former, provides Us the opportunity to lay down
a decisional rule on what hitherto appears to be an unresolved jurisdictional question.
On September 7, 1979, petitioner Imelda Manalaysay Pilapil, a Filipino citizen, and private respondent
Erich Ekkehard Geiling, a German national, were married before the Registrar of Births, Marriages and
Deaths at Friedensweiler in the Federal Republic of Germany. The marriage started auspiciously enough,
and the couple lived together for some time in Malate, Manila where their only child, Isabella Pilapil
Geiling, was born on April 20, 1980. 1
Thereafter, marital discord set in, with mutual recriminations between the spouses, followed by a
separation de facto between them.
After about three and a half years of marriage, such connubial disharmony eventuated in private
respondent initiating a divorce proceeding against petitioner in Germany before the Schoneberg Local
Court in January, 1983. He claimed that there was failure of their marriage and that they had been living
apart since April, 1982. 2
Petitioner, on the other hand, filed an action for legal separation, support and separation of property
before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XXXII, on January 23, 1983 where the same is still
pending as Civil Case No. 83-15866. 3
On January 15, 1986, Division 20 of the Schoneberg Local Court, Federal Republic of Germany,
promulgated a decree of divorce on the ground of failure of marriage of the spouses. The custody of the
child was granted to petitioner. The records show that under German law said court was locally and
internationally competent for the divorce proceeding and that the dissolution of said marriage was legally
founded on and authorized by the applicable law of that foreign jurisdiction. 4
On June 27, 1986, or more than five months after the issuance of the divorce decree, private respondent
filed two complaints for adultery before the City Fiscal of Manila alleging that, while still married to said
respondent, petitioner "had an affair with a certain William Chia as early as 1982 and with yet another man
named Jesus Chua sometime in 1983". Assistant Fiscal Jacinto A. de los Reyes, Jr., after the
corresponding investigation, recommended the dismissal of the cases on the ground of insufficiency of
evidence. 5 However, upon review, the respondent city fiscal approved a resolution, dated January 8,
1986, directing the filing of two complaints for adultery against the petitioner. 6 The complaints were
accordingly filed and were eventually raffled to two branches of the Regional Trial Court of Manila. The
case entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Imelda Pilapil and William Chia", docketed as Criminal Case
No. 87-52435, was assigned to Branch XXVI presided by the respondent judge; while the other
case, "People of the Philippines vs. Imelda Pilapil and James Chua", docketed as Criminal Case No. 8752434 went to the sala of Judge Leonardo Cruz, Branch XXV, of the same court. 7

On March 14, 1987, petitioner filed a petition with the Secretary of Justice asking that the aforesaid
resolution of respondent fiscal be set aside and the cases against her be dismissed. 8 A similar petition
was filed by James Chua, her co-accused in Criminal Case No. 87-52434. The Secretary of Justice,
through the Chief State Prosecutor, gave due course to both petitions and directed the respondent city
fiscal to inform the Department of Justice "if the accused have already been arraigned and if not yet
arraigned, to move to defer further proceedings" and to elevate the entire records of both cases to his
office for review. 9
Petitioner thereafter filed a motion in both criminal cases to defer her arraignment and to suspend further
proceedings thereon. 10 As a consequence, Judge Leonardo Cruz suspended proceedings in Criminal
Case No. 87-52434. On the other hand, respondent judge merely reset the date of the arraignment in
Criminal Case No. 87-52435 to April 6, 1987. Before such scheduled date, petitioner moved for the
cancellation of the arraignment and for the suspension of proceedings in said Criminal Case No. 87-52435
until after the resolution of the petition for review then pending before the Secretary of Justice. 11 A motion
to quash was also filed in the same case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, 12 which motion was denied
by the respondent judge in an order dated September 8, 1987. The same order also directed the
arraignment of both accused therein, that is, petitioner and William Chia. The latter entered a plea of not
guilty while the petitioner refused to be arraigned. Such refusal of the petitioner being considered by
respondent judge as direct contempt, she and her counsel were fined and the former was ordered
detained until she submitted herself for arraignment. 13 Later, private respondent entered a plea of not
guilty. 14
On October 27, 1987, petitioner filed this special civil action for certiorari and prohibition, with a prayer for
a temporary restraining order, seeking the annulment of the order of the lower court denying her motion to
quash. The petition is anchored on the main ground that the court is without jurisdiction "to try and decide
the charge of adultery, which is a private offense that cannot be prosecuted de officio (sic), since the
purported complainant, a foreigner, does not qualify as an offended spouse having obtained a final divorce
decree under his national law prior to his filing the criminal complaint." 15
On October 21, 1987, this Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the respondents from
implementing the aforesaid order of September 8, 1987 and from further proceeding with Criminal Case
No. 87-52435. Subsequently, on March 23, 1988 Secretary of Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoez acted on the
aforesaid petitions for review and, upholding petitioner's ratiocinations, issued a resolution directing the
respondent city fiscal to move for the dismissal of the complaints against the petitioner. 16
We find this petition meritorious. The writs prayed for shall accordingly issue.
Under Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, 17 the crime of adultery, as well as four other crimes against
chastity, cannot be prosecuted except upon a sworn written complaint filed by the offended spouse. It has
long since been established, with unwavering consistency, that compliance with this rule is a jurisdictional,
and not merely a formal, requirement. 18 While in point of strict law the jurisdiction of the court over the
offense is vested in it by the Judiciary Law, the requirement for a sworn written complaint is just as
jurisdictional a mandate since it is that complaint which starts the prosecutory proceeding 19 and without
which the court cannot exercise its jurisdiction to try the case.
Now, the law specifically provides that in prosecutions for adultery and concubinage the person who can
legally file the complaint should be the offended spouse, and nobody else. Unlike the offenses of
seduction, abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness, no provision is made for the prosecution of the

crimes of adultery and concubinage by the parents, grandparents or guardian of the offended party. The
so-called exclusive and successive rule in the prosecution of the first four offenses above mentioned do
not apply to adultery and concubinage. It is significant that while the State, as parens patriae, was added
and vested by the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure with the power to initiate the criminal action for a
deceased or incapacitated victim in the aforesaid offenses of seduction, abduction, rape and acts of
lasciviousness, in default of her parents, grandparents or guardian, such amendment did not include the
crimes of adultery and concubinage. In other words, only the offended spouse, and no other, is authorized
by law to initiate the action therefor.
Corollary to such exclusive grant of power to the offended spouse to institute the action, it necessarily
follows that such initiator must have the status, capacity or legal representation to do so at the time of the
filing of the criminal action. This is a familiar and express rule in civil actions; in fact, lack of legal capacity
to sue, as a ground for a motion to dismiss in civil cases, is determined as of the filing of the complaint or
petition.
The absence of an equivalent explicit rule in the prosecution of criminal cases does not mean that the
same requirement and rationale would not apply. Understandably, it may not have been found necessary
since criminal actions are generally and fundamentally commenced by the State, through the People of
the Philippines, the offended party being merely the complaining witness therein. However, in the socalled "private crimes" or those which cannot be prosecuted de oficio, and the present prosecution for
adultery is of such genre, the offended spouse assumes a more predominant role since the right to
commence the action, or to refrain therefrom, is a matter exclusively within his power and option.
This policy was adopted out of consideration for the aggrieved party who might prefer to suffer the outrage
in silence rather than go through the scandal of a public trial. 20 Hence, as cogently argued by petitioner,
Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code thus presupposes that the marital relationship is still subsisting at
the time of the institution of the criminal action for, adultery. This is a logical consequence since the raison
d'etre of said provision of law would be absent where the supposed offended party had ceased to be the
spouse of the alleged offender at the time of the filing of the criminal case. 21
In these cases, therefore, it is indispensable that the status and capacity of the complainant to commence
the action be definitely established and, as already demonstrated, such status or capacity must
indubitably exist as of the time he initiates the action. It would be absurd if his capacity to bring the action
would be determined by his status before or subsequent to the commencement thereof, where such
capacity or status existed prior to but ceased before, or was acquired subsequent to but did not exist at
the time of, the institution of the case. We would thereby have the anomalous spectacle of a party bringing
suit at the very time when he is without the legal capacity to do so.
To repeat, there does not appear to be any local precedential jurisprudence on the specific issue as to
when precisely the status of a complainant as an offended spouse must exist where a criminal
prosecution can be commenced only by one who in law can be categorized as possessed of such status.
Stated differently and with reference to the present case, the inquiry ;would be whether it is necessary in
the commencement of a criminal action for adultery that the marital bonds between the complainant and
the accused be unsevered and existing at the time of the institution of the action by the former against the
latter.
American jurisprudence, on cases involving statutes in that jurisdiction which are in pari materia with ours,
yields the rule that after a divorce has been decreed, the innocent spouse no longer has the right to

institute proceedings against the offenders where the statute provides that the innocent spouse shall have
the exclusive right to institute a prosecution for adultery. Where, however, proceedings have been properly
commenced, a divorce subsequently granted can have no legal effect on the prosecution of the criminal
proceedings to a conclusion. 22
In the cited Loftus case, the Supreme Court of Iowa held that
'No prosecution for adultery can be commenced except on the complaint of the husband or
wife.' Section 4932, Code. Though Loftus was husband of defendant when the offense is
said to have been committed, he had ceased to be such when the prosecution was begun;
and appellant insists that his status was not such as to entitle him to make the complaint.
We have repeatedly said that the offense is against the unoffending spouse, as well as the
state, in explaining the reason for this provision in the statute; and we are of the opinion
that the unoffending spouse must be such when the prosecution is commenced. (Emphasis
supplied.)
We see no reason why the same doctrinal rule should not apply in this case and in our jurisdiction,
considering our statutory law and jural policy on the matter. We are convinced that in cases of such
nature, the status of the complainant vis-a-vis the accused must be determined as of the time the
complaint was filed. Thus, the person who initiates the adultery case must be an offended spouse, and by
this is meant that he is still married to the accused spouse, at the time of the filing of the complaint.
In the present case, the fact that private respondent obtained a valid divorce in his country, the Federal
Republic of Germany, is admitted. Said divorce and its legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines
insofar as private respondent is concerned 23 in view of the nationality principle in our civil law on the
matter of status of persons.
Thus, in the recent case of Van Dorn vs. Romillo, Jr., et al., 24 after a divorce was granted by a United
States court between Alice Van Dornja Filipina, and her American husband, the latter filed a civil case in a
trial court here alleging that her business concern was conjugal property and praying that she be ordered
to render an accounting and that the plaintiff be granted the right to manage the business. Rejecting his
pretensions, this Court perspicuously demonstrated the error of such stance, thus:
There can be no question as to the validity of that Nevada divorce in any of the States of the
United States. The decree is binding on private respondent as an American citizen. For
instance, private respondent cannot sue petitioner, as her husband, in any State of the
Union. ...
It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code, only
Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against absolute divorces the same being
considered contrary to our concept of public policy and morality. However, aliens may obtain
divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid
according to their national law. ...
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the husband of petitioner. He would
have no standing to sue in the case below as petitioner's husband entitled to exercise control over
conjugal assets. ...25

Under the same considerations and rationale, private respondent, being no longer the husband of
petitioner, had no legal standing to commence the adultery case under the imposture that he was the
offended spouse at the time he filed suit.
The allegation of private respondent that he could not have brought this case before the decree of divorce
for lack of knowledge, even if true, is of no legal significance or consequence in this case. When said
respondent initiated the divorce proceeding, he obviously knew that there would no longer be a family nor
marriage vows to protect once a dissolution of the marriage is decreed. Neither would there be a danger
of introducing spurious heirs into the family, which is said to be one of the reasons for the particular
formulation of our law on adultery, 26 since there would thenceforth be no spousal relationship to speak of.
The severance of the marital bond had the effect of dissociating the former spouses from each other,
hence the actuations of one would not affect or cast obloquy on the other.
The aforecited case of United States vs. Mata cannot be successfully relied upon by private respondent.
In applying Article 433 of the old Penal Code, substantially the same as Article 333 of the Revised Penal
Code, which punished adultery "although the marriage be afterwards declared void", the Court merely
stated that "the lawmakers intended to declare adulterous the infidelity of a married woman to her marital
vows, even though it should be made to appear that she is entitled to have her marriage contract declared
null and void, until and unless she actually secures a formal judicial declaration to that effect". Definitely, it
cannot be logically inferred therefrom that the complaint can still be filed after the declaration of nullity
because such declaration that the marriage is void ab initio is equivalent to stating that it never existed.
There being no marriage from the beginning, any complaint for adultery filed after said declaration of
nullity would no longer have a leg to stand on. Moreover, what was consequently contemplated and within
the purview of the decision in said case is the situation where the criminal action for adultery was
filed before the termination of the marriage by a judicial declaration of its nullity ab initio. The same rule
and requisite would necessarily apply where the termination of the marriage was effected, as in this case,
by a valid foreign divorce.
Private respondent's invocation of Donio-Teves, et al. vs. Vamenta, hereinbefore cited, 27 must suffer the
same fate of inapplicability. A cursory reading of said case reveals that the offended spouse therein had
duly and seasonably filed a complaint for adultery, although an issue was raised as to its sufficiency but
which was resolved in favor of the complainant. Said case did not involve a factual situation akin to the
one at bar or any issue determinative of the controversy herein.
WHEREFORE, the questioned order denying petitioner's motion to quash is SET ASIDE and another one
enteredDISMISSING the complaint in Criminal Case No. 87-52435 for lack of jurisdiction. The temporary
restraining order issued in this case on October 21, 1987 is hereby made permanent.
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

PARAS, J., concurring:


It is my considered opinion that regardless of whether We consider the German absolute divorce as valid
also in the Philippines, the fact is that the husband in the instant case, by the very act of his obtaining an
absolute divorce in Germany can no longer be considered as the offended party in case his former wife
actually has carnal knowledge with another, because in divorcing her, he already implicitly authorized the
woman to have sexual relations with others. A contrary ruling would be less than fair for a man, who is free
to have sex will be allowed to deprive the woman of the same privilege.
In the case of Recto v. Harden (100 Phil. 427 [1956]), the Supreme Court considered the absolute divorce
between the American husband and his American wife as valid and binding in the Philippines on the
theory that their status and capacity are governed by their National law, namely, American law. There is no
decision yet of the Supreme Court regarding the validity of such a divorce if one of the parties, say an
American, is married to a Filipino wife, for then two (2) different nationalities would be involved.
In the book of Senate President Jovito Salonga entitled Private International Law and precisely because of
theNational law doctrine, he considers the absolute divorce as valid insofar as the American husband is
concerned but void insofar as the Filipino wife is involved. This results in what he calls a "socially
grotesque situation," where a Filipino woman is still married to a man who is no longer her husband. It is
the opinion however, of the undersigned that very likely the opposite expresses the correct view. While
under the national law of the husband the absolute divorce will be valid, still one of the exceptions to the
application of the proper foreign law (one of the exceptions to comity) is when the foreign law will work an
injustice or injury to the people or residents of the forum. Consequently since to recognize the absolute
divorce as valid on the part of the husband would be injurious or prejudicial to the Filipino wife whose
marriage would be still valid under her national law, it would seem that under our law existing before the
new Family Code (which took effect on August 3, 1988) the divorce should be considered void both with
respect to the American husband and the Filipino wife.
The recent case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. (139 SCRA [1985]) cannot apply despite the fact that the
husband was an American can with a Filipino wife because in said case the validity of the divorce insofar
as the Filipino wife is concerned was NEVER put in issue.

Separate Opinions
PARAS, J., concurring:
It is my considered opinion that regardless of whether We consider the German absolute divorce as valid
also in the Philippines, the fact is that the husband in the instant case, by the very act of his obtaining an
absolute divorce in Germany can no longer be considered as the offended party in case his former wife
actually has carnal knowledge with another, because in divorcing her, he already implicitly authorized the
woman to have sexual relations with others. A contrary ruling would be less than fair for a man, who is free
to have sex will be allowed to deprive the woman of the same privilege.

In the case of Recto v. Harden (100 Phil. 427 [1956]), the Supreme Court considered the absolute divorce
between the American husband and his American wife as valid and binding in the Philippines on the
theory that their status and capacity are governed by their National law, namely, American law. There is no
decision yet of the Supreme Court regarding the validity of such a divorce if one of the parties, say an
American, is married to a Filipino wife, for then two (2) different nationalities would be involved.
In the book of Senate President Jovito Salonga entitled Private International Law and precisely because of
theNational law doctrine, he considers the absolute divorce as valid insofar as the American husband is
concerned but void insofar as the Filipino wife is involved. This results in what he calls a "socially
grotesque situation," where a Filipino woman is still married to a man who is no longer her husband. It is
the opinion however, of the undersigned that very likely the opposite expresses the correct view. While
under the national law of the husband the absolute divorce will be valid, still one of the exceptions to the
application of the proper foreign law (one of the exceptions to comity) is when the foreign law will work an
injustice or injury to the people or residents of the forum. Consequently since to recognize the absolute
divorce as valid on the part of the husband would be injurious or prejudicial to the Filipino wife whose
marriage would be still valid under her national law, it would seem that under our law existing before the
new Family Code (which took effect on August 3, 1988) the divorce should be considered void both with
respect to the American husband and the Filipino wife.
The recent case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. (139 SCRA [1985]) cannot apply despite the fact that the
husband was an American can with a Filipino wife because in said case the validity of the divorce insofar
as the Filipino wife is concerned was NEVER put in issue.

[G.R. No. 124862. December 22, 1998]

FE

D.
QUITA, petitioner, vs.
DANDAN,* respondents.

COURT

OF

APPEALS

and

BLANDINA

DECISION
BELLOSILLO, J .:

FE D. QUITA and Arturo T. Padlan, both Filipinos, were married in the Philippines on 18 May 1941. They
were not however blessed with children. Somewhere along the way their relationship soured. Eventually Fe
sued Arturo for divorce in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. She submitted in the divorce proceedings a private
writing dated 19 July 1950 evidencing their agreement to live separately from each other and a settlement of
their conjugal properties. On 23 July 1954 she obtained a final judgment of divorce. Three (3) weeks thereafter
she married a certain Felix Tupaz in the same locality but their relationship also ended in a divorce. Still in the
U.S.A., she married for the third time, to a certain Wernimont.
On 16 April 1972 Arturo died. He left no will. On 31 August 1972 Lino Javier Inciong filed a petition with
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for issuance of letters of administration concerning the estate of Arturo
in favor of the Philippine Trust Company. Respondent Blandina Dandan (also referred to as Blandina Padlan),
claiming to be the surviving spouse of Arturo Padlan, and Claro, Alexis, Ricardo, Emmanuel, Zenaida and
Yolanda, all surnamed Padlan, named in the petition as surviving children of Arturo Padlan, opposed the
petition and prayed for the appointment instead of Atty. Leonardo Cabasal, which was resolved in favor of the
latter. Upon motion of the oppositors themselves, Atty. Cabasal was later replaced by Higino Castillon. On 30

April 1973 the oppositors (Blandina and the Padlan children) submitted certified photocopies of the 19 July
1950 private writing and the final judgment of divorce between petitioner and Arturo. Later Ruperto T. Padlan,
claiming to be the sole surviving brother of the deceased Arturo, intervened.
On 7 October 1987 petitioner moved for the immediate declaration of heirs of the decedent and the
distribution of his estate. At the scheduled hearing on 23 October 1987, private respondent as well as the six (6)
Padlan children and Ruperto failed to appear despite due notice. On the same day, the trial court required the
submission of the records of birth of the Padlan children within ten (10) days from receipt thereof, after which,
with or without the documents, the issue on the declaration of heirs would be considered submitted for
resolution. The prescribed period lapsed without the required documents being submitted.
The trial court invoking Tenchavez v. Escao[1] which held that "a foreign divorce between Filipino citizens
sought and decreed after the effectivity of the present Civil Code (Rep. Act 386) was not entitled to
recognition as valid in this jurisdiction,"[2]disregarded the divorce between petitioner and Arturo. Consequently,
it expressed the view that their marriage subsisted until the death of Arturo in 1972. Neither did it consider
valid their extrajudicial settlement of conjugal properties due to lack of judicial approval. [3] On the other hand, it
opined that there was no showing that marriage existed between private respondent and Arturo, much less was it
shown that the alleged Padlan children had been acknowledged by the deceased as his children with her. As
regards Ruperto, it found that he was a brother of Arturo. On 27 November 1987[4] only petitioner and Ruperto
were declared the intestate heirs of Arturo. Accordingly, equal adjudication of the net hereditary estate was
ordered in favor of the two intestate heirs.[5]
On motion for reconsideration, Blandina and the Padlan children were allowed to present proofs that the
recognition of the children by the deceased as his legitimate children, except Alexis who was recognized as his
illegitimate child, had been made in their respective records of birth. Thus on 15 February 1988[6] partial
reconsideration was granted declaring the Padlan children, with the exception of Alexis, entitled to one-half of
the estate to the exclusion of Ruperto Padlan, and petitioner to the other half. [7]Private respondent was not
declared an heir. Although it was stated in the aforementioned records of birth that she and Arturo were married
on 22 April 1947, their marriage was clearly void since it was celebrated during the existence of his previous
marriage to petitioner.
In their appeal to the Court of Appeals, Blandina and her children assigned as one of the errors allegedly
committed by the trial court the circumstance that the case was decided without a hearing, in violation of Sec. 1,
Rule 90, of the Rules of Court, which provides that if there is a controversy before the court as to who are the
lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the distributive shares to which each person is entitled under the
law, the controversy shall be heard and decided as in ordinary cases.
Respondent appellate court found this ground alone sufficient to sustain the appeal; hence, on 11 September
1995 it declared null and void the 27 November 1987 decision and 15 February 1988 order of the trial court,
and directed the remand of the case to the trial court for further proceedings. [8] On 18 April 1996 it denied
reconsideration.[9]
Should this case be remanded to the lower court for further proceedings? Petitioner insists that there is no
need because, first, no legal or factual issue obtains for resolution either as to the heirship of the Padlan children
or as to their respective shares in the intestate estate of the decedent; and, second, the issue as to who between

petitioner and private respondent is the proper heir of the decedent is one of law which can be resolved in the
present petition based on established facts and admissions of the parties.
We cannot sustain petitioner. The provision relied upon by respondent court is clear: If there is
a controversy before the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the distributive
shares to which each person is entitled under the law, the controversy shall be heard and decided as in ordinary
cases.
We agree with petitioner that no dispute exists either as to the right of the six (6) Padlan children to inherit
from the decedent because there are proofs that they have been duly acknowledged by him and petitioner
herself even recognizes them as heirs of Arturo Padlan;[10] nor as to their respective hereditary shares. But
controversy remains as to who is the legitimate surviving spouse of Arturo. The trial court, after the parties
other than petitioner failed to appear during the scheduled hearing on 23 October 1987 of the motion for
immediate declaration of heirs and distribution of estate, simply issued an order requiring the submission of the
records of birth of the Padlan children within ten (10) days from receipt thereof, after which, with or without the
documents, the issue on declaration of heirs would be deemed submitted for resolution.
We note that in her comment to petitioner's motion private respondent raised, among others, the issue as to
whether petitioner was still entitled to inherit from the decedent considering that she had secured a divorce in
the U.S.A. and in fact had twice remarried. She also invoked the above quoted procedural rule.[11] To this,
petitioner replied that Arturo was a Filipino and as such remained legally married to her in spite of the divorce
they obtained.[12] Reading between the lines, the implication is that petitioner was no longer a Filipino citizen at
the time of her divorce from Arturo. This should have prompted the trial court to conduct a hearing to establish
her citizenship. The purpose of a hearing is to ascertain the truth of the matters in issue with the aid of
documentary and testimonial evidence as well as the arguments of the parties either supporting or opposing the
evidence. Instead, the lower court perfunctorily settled her claim in her favor by merely applying the ruling
in Tenchavez v. Escao.
Then in private respondent's motion to set aside and/or reconsider the lower court's decision she stressed
that the citizenship of petitioner was relevant in the light of the ruling in Van Dorn v. Romillo Jr.[13] that aliens
may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to
their national law. She prayed therefore that the case be set for hearing. [14] Petitioner opposed the motion but
failed to squarely address the issue on her citizenship. [15] The trial court did not grant private respondent's prayer
for a hearing but proceeded to resolve her motion with the finding that both petitioner and Arturo were "Filipino
citizens and were married in the Philippines."[16] It maintained that their divorce obtained in 1954 in San
Francisco, California, U.S.A., was not valid in Philippine jurisdiction. We deduce that the finding on their
citizenship pertained solely to the time of their marriage as the trial court was not supplied with a basis to
determine petitioner's citizenship at the time of their divorce. The doubt persisted as to whether she was still
a Filipino citizen when their divorce was decreed. The trial court must have overlooked the materiality of this
aspect. Once proved that she was no longer a Filipino citizen at the time of their divorce, Van Dorn would
become applicable and petitioner could very well lose her right to inherit from Arturo.
Respondent again raised in her appeal the issue on petitioner's citizenship; [17] it did not merit enlightenment
however from petitioner.[18] In the present proceeding, petitioner's citizenship is brought anew to the fore by
private respondent. She even furnishes the Court with the transcript of stenographic notes taken on 5 May
1995 during the hearing for the reconstitution of the original of a certain transfer certificate title as well as the

issuance of new owner's duplicate copy thereof before another trial court. When asked whether she was an
American citizen petitioner answered that she was since 1954. [19] Significantly, the decree of divorce of
petitioner and Arturo was obtained in the same year. Petitioner however did not bother to file a reply
memorandum to erase the uncertainty about her citizenship at the time of their divorce, a factual issue requiring
hearings to be conducted by the trial court. Consequently, respondent appellate court did not err in ordering the
case returned to the trial court for further proceedings.
We emphasize however that the question to be determined by the trial court should be limited only to the
right of petitioner to inherit from Arturo as his surviving spouse. Private respondent's claim to heirship was
already resolved by the trial court. She and Arturo were married on 22 April 1947 while the prior marriage of
petitioner and Arturo was subsisting thereby resulting in a bigamous marriage considered void from the
beginning under Arts. 80 and 83 of the Civil Code. Consequently, she is not a surviving spouse that can inherit
from him as this status presupposes a legitimate relationship.[20]
As regards the motion of private respondent for petitioner and her counsel to be declared in contempt of
court and that the present petition be dismissed for forum shopping, [21] the same lacks merit. For forum
shopping to exist the actions must involve the same transactions and same essential facts and
circumstances. There must also be identical causes of action, subject matter and issue.[22] The present petition
deals with declaration of heirship while the subsequent petitions filed before the three (3) trial courts concern
the issuance of new owner's duplicate copies of titles of certain properties belonging to the estate of
Arturo. Obviously, there is no reason to declare the existence of forum shopping.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The decision of respondent Court of Appeals ordering the
remand of the case to the court of origin for further proceedings and declaring null and void its decision holding
petitioner Fe D. Quita and Ruperto T. Padlan as intestate heirs is AFFIRMED. The order of the appellate court
modifying its previous decision by granting one-half (1/2) of the net hereditary estate to the Padlan children,
namely, Claro, Ricardo, Emmanuel, Zenaida and Yolanda, with the exception of Alexis, all surnamed Padlan,
instead of Arturo's brother Ruperto Padlan, is likewise AFFIRMED. The Court however emphasizes that the
reception of evidence by the trial court should be limited to the hereditary rights of petitioner as the surviving
spouse of Arturo Padlan.
The motion to declare petitioner and her counsel in contempt of court and to dismiss the present petition for
forum shopping is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, Mendoza, and Martinez, JJ., concur.

[G.R. No. 124371. November 23, 2000]


PAULA T. LLORENTE, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ALICIA F.
LLORENTE, respondents.

DECISION
PARDO, J.:
The Case
The case raises a conflict of laws issue.
What is before us is an appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeals modifying that of the
Regional Trial Court, Camarines Sur, Branch 35, Iriga City declaring respondent Alicia F. Llorente
(herinafter referred to as Alicia), as co-owners of whatever property she and the deceased Lorenzo
N. Llorente (hereinafter referred to as Lorenzo) may have acquired during the twenty-five (25) years
that they lived together as husband and wife.
[1]

[2]

The Facts
The deceased Lorenzo N. Llorente was an enlisted serviceman of the United States Navy from
March 10, 1927 to September 30, 1957.
[3]

On February 22, 1937, Lorenzo and petitioner Paula Llorente (hereinafter referred to as Paula)
were married before a parish priest, Roman Catholic Church, in Nabua, Camarines Sur.
[4]

Before the outbreak of the Pacific War, Lorenzo departed for the United States and Paula stayed
in the conjugal home in barrio Antipolo, Nabua, Camarines Sur.
[5]

On November 30, 1943, Lorenzo was admitted to United States citizenship and Certificate of
Naturalization No. 5579816 was issued in his favor by the United States District Court, Southern
District of New York.
[6]

Upon the liberation of the Philippines by the American Forces in 1945, Lorenzo was granted an
accrued leave by the U. S. Navy, to visit his wife and he visited the Philippines. He discovered that
his wife Paula was pregnant and was living in and having an adulterous relationship with his brother,
Ceferino Llorente.
[7]

[8]

On December 4, 1945, Paula gave birth to a boy registered in the Office of the Registrar of
Nabua as Crisologo Llorente, with the certificate stating that the child was not legitimate and the line
for the fathers name was left blank.
[9]

Lorenzo refused to forgive Paula and live with her. In fact, on February 2, 1946, the couple drew
a written agreement to the effect that (1) all the family allowances allotted by the United States Navy
as part of Lorenzos salary and all other obligations for Paulas daily maintenance and support would
be suspended; (2) they would dissolve their marital union in accordance with judicial proceedings; (3)
they would make a separate agreement regarding their conjugal property acquired during their marital
life; and (4) Lorenzo would not prosecute Paula for her adulterous act since she voluntarily admitted
her fault and agreed to separate from Lorenzo peacefully. The agreement was signed by both

Lorenzo and Paula and was witnessed by Paulas father and stepmother. The agreement was
notarized by Notary Public Pedro Osabel.
[10]

Lorenzo returned to the United States and on November 16, 1951 filed for
divorce with the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Diego. Paula
was represented by counsel, John Riley, and actively participated in the proceedings. On November
27, 1951, the Superior Court of the State of California, for the County of San Diego found all factual
allegations to be true and issued an interlocutory judgment of divorce.
[11]

On December 4, 1952, the divorce decree became final.

[12]

In the meantime, Lorenzo returned to the Philippines.


On January 16, 1958, Lorenzo married Alicia F. Llorente in Manila. Apparently, Alicia had no
knowledge of the first marriage even if they resided in the same town as Paula, who did not oppose
the marriage or cohabitation.
[13]

[14]

From 1958 to 1985, Lorenzo and Alicia lived together as husband and wife. Their twenty-five
(25) year union produced three children, Raul, Luz and Beverly, all surnamed Llorente.
[15]

[16]

On March 13, 1981, Lorenzo executed a Last Will and Testament. The will was notarized by
Notary Public Salvador M. Occiano, duly signed by Lorenzo with attesting witnesses Francisco Hugo,
Francisco Neibres and Tito Trajano. In the will, Lorenzo bequeathed all his property to Alicia and their
three children, to wit:

(1) I give and bequeath to my wife ALICIA R. FORTUNO exclusively my residential house
and lot, located at San Francisco, Nabua, Camarines Sur, Philippines, including ALL the
personal properties and other movables or belongings that may be found or existing
therein;
(2) I give and bequeath exclusively to my wife Alicia R. Fortuno and to my children, Raul
F. Llorente, Luz F. Llorente and Beverly F. Llorente, in equal shares, all my real properties
whatsoever and wheresoever located, specifically my real properties located at Barangay
Aro-Aldao, Nabua, Camarines Sur; Barangay Paloyon, Nabua, Camarines Sur; Barangay
Baras, Sitio Puga, Nabua, Camarines Sur; and Barangay Paloyon, Sitio Nalilidong,
Nabua, Camarines Sur;
(3) I likewise give and bequeath exclusively unto my wife Alicia R. Fortuno and unto my
children, Raul F. Llorente, Luz F. Llorente and Beverly F. Llorente, in equal shares, my real
properties located in Quezon City Philippines, and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title
No. 188652; and my lands in Antipolo, Rizal, Philippines, covered by Transfer Certificate
of Title Nos. 124196 and 165188, both of the Registry of Deeds of the province of Rizal,
Philippines;

(4) That their respective shares in the above-mentioned properties, whether real or
personal properties, shall not be disposed of, ceded, sold and conveyed to any other
persons, but could only be sold, ceded, conveyed and disposed of by and among
themselves;
(5) I designate my wife ALICIA R. FORTUNO to be the sole executor of this my Last Will
and Testament, and in her default or incapacity of the latter to act, any of my children in
the order of age, if of age;
(6) I hereby direct that the executor named herein or her lawful substitute should served
(sic) without bond;
(7) I hereby revoke any and all my other wills, codicils, or testamentary dispositions
heretofore executed, signed, or published, by me;
(8) It is my final wish and desire that if I die, no relatives of mine in any degree in the
Llorentes Side should ever bother and disturb in any manner whatsoever my wife Alicia R.
Fortunato and my children with respect to any real or personal properties I gave and
bequeathed respectively to each one of them by virtue of this Last Will and Testament.
[17]

On December 14, 1983, Lorenzo filed with the Regional Trial Court, Iriga, Camarines Sur, a
petition for the probate and allowance of his last will and testament wherein Lorenzo moved that Alicia
be appointed Special Administratrix of his estate.
[18]

On January 18, 1984, the trial court denied the motion for the reason that the testator Lorenzo
was still alive.
[19]

On January 24, 1984, finding that the will was duly executed, the trial court admitted the will to
probate.
[20]

On June 11, 1985, before the proceedings could be terminated, Lorenzo died.

[21]

On September 4, 1985, Paula filed with the same court a petition for letters of administration
over Lorenzos estate in her favor. Paula contended (1) that she was Lorenzos surviving spouse, (2)
that the various property were acquired during their marriage, (3) that Lorenzos will disposed of all
his property in favor of Alicia and her children, encroaching on her legitime and 1/2 share in the
conjugal property.
[22]

[23]

On December 13, 1985, Alicia filed in the testate proceeding (Sp. Proc. No. IR-755), a petition for
the issuance of letters testamentary.
[24]

On October 14, 1985, without terminating the testate proceedings, the trial court gave due course
to Paulas petition in Sp. Proc. No. IR-888.
[25]

On November 6, 13 and 20, 1985, the order was published in the newspaper Bicol Star.

[26]

On May 18, 1987, the Regional Trial Court issued a joint decision, thus:

Wherefore, considering that this court has so found that the divorce decree granted to the
late Lorenzo Llorente is void and inapplicable in the Philippines, therefore the marriage he
contracted with Alicia Fortunato on January 16, 1958 at Manila is likewise void. This being
so the petition of Alicia F. Llorente for the issuance of letters testamentary is
denied. Likewise, she is not entitled to receive any share from the estate even if the will
especially said so her relationship with Lorenzo having gained the status of paramour
which is under Art. 739 (1).
On the other hand, the court finds the petition of Paula Titular Llorente, meritorious, and
so declares the intrinsic disposition of the will of Lorenzo Llorente dated March 13, 1981
as void and declares her entitled as conjugal partner and entitled to one-half of their
conjugal properties, and as primary compulsory heir, Paula T. Llorente is also entitled to
one-third of the estate and then one-third should go to the illegitimate children, Raul, Luz
and Beverly, all surname (sic) Llorente, for them to partition in equal shares and also
entitled to the remaining free portion in equal shares.
Petitioner, Paula Llorente is appointed legal administrator of the estate of the deceased,
Lorenzo Llorente. As such let the corresponding letters of administration issue in her
favor upon her filing a bond in the amount (sic) of P100,000.00 conditioned for her to
make a return to the court within three (3) months a true and complete inventory of all
goods, chattels, rights, and credits, and estate which shall at any time come to her
possession or to the possession of any other person for her, and from the proceeds to pay
and discharge all debts, legacies and charges on the same, or such dividends thereon as
shall be decreed or required by this court; to render a true and just account of her
administration to the court within one (1) year, and at any other time when required by the
court and to perform all orders of this court by her to be performed.
On the other matters prayed for in respective petitions for want of evidence could not be
granted.
SO ORDERED.

[27]

In time, Alicia filed with the trial court a motion for reconsideration of the aforequoted decision.

[28]

On September 14, 1987, the trial court denied Alicias motion for reconsideration but modified its
earlier decision, stating that Raul and Luz Llorente are not children legitimate or otherwise of
Lorenzo since they were not legally adopted by him. Amending its decision of May 18, 1987, the trial
court declared Beverly Llorente as the only illegitimate child of Lorenzo, entitling her to one-third (1/3)
of the estate and one-third (1/3) of the free portion of the estate.
[29]

[30]

On September 28, 1987, respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals.

[31]

On July 31, 1995, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision, affirming with modification the
decision of the trial court in this wise:

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED with the


MODIFICATION that Alicia is declared as co-owner of whatever properties she and the
deceased may have acquired during the twenty-five (25) years of cohabitation.
SO ORDERED.

[32]

On August 25, 1995, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a motion for reconsideration of the
decision.
[33]

On March 21, 1996, the Court of Appeals, denied the motion for lack of merit.
[34]

Hence, this petition.

[35]

The Issue
Stripping the petition of its legalese and sorting through the various arguments raised,
is simple. Who are entitled to inherit from the late Lorenzo N. Llorente?

[36]

the issue

We do not agree with the decision of the Court of Appeals. We remand the case to the trial court
for ruling on the intrinsic validity of the will of the deceased.
The Applicable Law
The fact that the late Lorenzo N. Llorente became an American citizen long before and at the time
of: (1) his divorce from Paula; (2) marriage to Alicia; (3) execution of his will; and (4) death, is duly
established, admitted and undisputed.
Thus, as a rule, issues arising from these incidents are necessarily governed by foreign law.
The Civil Code clearly provides:

Art. 15. Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal
capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living
abroad.
Art. 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country
where it is situated.
However, intestate and testamentary succession, both with respect to the order of
succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of
testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose

succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and
regardless of the country wherein said property may be found. (emphasis ours)
True, foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to
take judicial notice of them. Like any other fact, they must be alleged and proved.
[37]

While the substance of the foreign law was pleaded, the Court of Appeals did not admit the
foreign law. The Court of Appeals and the trial court called to the fore the renvoi doctrine, where the
case was referred back to the law of the decedents domicile, in this case, Philippine law.
We note that while the trial court stated that the law of New York was not sufficiently proven, in
the same breath it made the categorical, albeit equally unproven statement that American law follows
the domiciliary theory hence, Philippine law applies when determining the validity of Lorenzos will.
[38]

First, there is no such thing as one American law. The "national law" indicated in Article 16 of the
Civil Code cannot possibly apply to general American law. There is no such law governing the validity
of testamentary provisions in the United States. Each State of the union has its own law applicable to
its citizens and in force only within the State. It can therefore refer to no other than the law of the
State of which the decedent was a resident. Second, there is no showing that the application of
the renvoi doctrine is called for or required by New York State law.
[39]

The trial court held that the will was intrinsically invalid since it contained dispositions in favor of
Alice, who in the trial courts opinion was a mere paramour. The trial court threw the will out, leaving
Alice, and her two children, Raul and Luz, with nothing.
The Court of Appeals also disregarded the will. It declared Alice entitled to one half (1/2) of
whatever property she and Lorenzo acquired during their cohabitation, applying Article 144 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines.
The hasty application of Philippine law and the complete disregard of the will, already probated as
duly executed in accordance with the formalities of Philippine law, is fatal, especially in light of the
factual and legal circumstances here obtaining.
Validity of the Foreign Divorce
In Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. we held that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15
of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against absolute divorces, the
same being considered contrary to our concept of public policy and morality. In the same case, the
Court ruled that aliens may obtain divorces abroad, provided they are valid according to their national
law.
[40]

Citing this landmark case, the Court held in Quita v. Court of Appeals, that once proven that
respondent was no longer a Filipino citizen when he obtained the divorce from petitioner, the ruling
in Van Dorn would become applicable and petitioner could very well lose her right to inherit from
him.
[41]

In Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera, we recognized the divorce obtained by the respondent in his country,
the Federal Republic of Germany. There, we stated that divorce and its legal effects may be
recognized in the Philippines insofar as respondent is concerned in view of the nationality principle in
our civil law on the status of persons.
[42]

For failing to apply these doctrines, the decision of the Court of Appeals must be reversed. We
hold that the divorce obtained by Lorenzo H. Llorente from his first wife Paula was valid and
recognized in this jurisdiction as a matter of comity. Now, the effects of this divorce (as to the
succession to the estate of the decedent) are matters best left to the determination of the trial court.
[43]

Validity of the Will


The Civil Code provides:

Art. 17. The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other public instruments
shall be governed by the laws of the country in which they are executed.
When the acts referred to are executed before the diplomatic or consular officials of the
Republic of the Philippines in a foreign country, the solemnities established by Philippine
laws shall be observed in their execution. (underscoring ours)
The clear intent of Lorenzo to bequeath his property to his second wife and children by her is
glaringly shown in the will he executed. We do not wish to frustrate his wishes, since he was a
foreigner, not covered by our laws on family rights and duties, status, condition and legal capacity.
[44]

Whether the will is intrinsically valid and who shall inherit from Lorenzo are issues best proved by
foreign law which must be pleaded and proved. Whether the will was executed in accordance with
the formalities required is answered by referring to Philippine law. In fact, the will was duly probated.
As a guide however, the trial court should note that whatever public policy or good customs may
be involved in our system of legitimes, Congress did not intend to extend the same to the succession
of foreign nationals. Congress specifically left the amount of successional rights to the decedent's
national law.
[45]

Having thus ruled, we find it unnecessary to pass upon the other issues raised.
The Fallo
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP
No. 17446 promulgated on July 31, 1995 is SET ASIDE.
In lieu thereof, the Court REVERSES the decision of the Regional Trial Court and RECOGNIZES
as VALID the decree of divorce granted in favor of the deceased Lorenzo N. Llorente by the Superior
Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Diego, made final on December 4, 1952.

Further, the Court REMANDS the cases to the court of origin for determination of the intrinsic
validity of Lorenzo N. Llorentes will and determination of the parties successional rights allowing
proof of foreign law with instructions that the trial court shall proceed with all deliberate dispatch to
settle the estate of the deceased within the framework of the Rules of Court.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

REPUBLIC
OF
PHILIPPINES,
Petitioner,

THE

- versus-

G.R. No. 152577


Present:
PUNO,
Chairman,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR.,
TINGA, and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.
Promulgated:

CRASUS L. IYOY,
September 21, 2005
R e s p o n d e n t.
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioner
Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, prays for the
reversal of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62539, dated 30 July 2001,
[1]

affirming the Judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 22, in Civil

Case No. CEB-20077, dated 30 October 1998,[2] declaring the marriage between respondent
Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada Rosal-Iyoy null and void on the basis of Article 36 of the Family
Code of the Philippines.

The proceedings before the RTC commenced with the filing of a Complaint [3] for
declaration of nullity of marriage by respondent Crasus on 25 March 1997. According to the
said Complaint, respondent Crasus married Fely on 16 December 1961 at Bradford Memorial
Church, Jones Avenue, Cebu City. As a result of their union, they had five children Crasus,
Jr., Daphne, Debbie, Calvert, and Carlos who are now all of legal ages. After the celebration
of their marriage, respondent Crasus discovered that Fely was hot-tempered, a nagger and
extravagant. In 1984, Fely left the Philippines for the United States of America (U.S.A.),
leaving all of their five children, the youngest then being only six years old, to the care of
respondent Crasus. Barely a year after Fely left for the U.S.A., respondent Crasus received a
letter from her requesting that he sign the enclosed divorce papers; he disregarded the said
request. Sometime in 1985, respondent Crasus learned, through the letters sent by Fely to their
children, that Fely got married to an American, with whom she eventually had a child. In 1987,
Fely came back to the Philippines with her American family, staying at Cebu Plaza Hotel in
Cebu City. Respondent Crasus did not bother to talk to Fely because he was afraid he might not
be able to bear the sorrow and the pain she had caused him. Fely returned to the Philippines
several times more: in 1990, for the wedding of their eldest child, Crasus, Jr.; in 1992, for the
brain operation of their fourth child, Calvert; and in 1995, for unknown reasons. Fely continued
to live with her American family in New Jersey, U.S.A. She had been openly using the surname
of her American husband in the Philippines and in the U.S.A. For the wedding of Crasus, Jr.,
Fely herself had invitations made in which she was named as Mrs. Fely Ada Micklus. At the
time the Complaint was filed, it had been 13 years since Fely left and abandoned respondent
Crasus, and there was no more possibility of reconciliation between them. Respondent Crasus

finally alleged in his Complaint that Felys acts brought danger and dishonor to the family, and
clearly demonstrated her psychological incapacity to perform the essential obligations of
marriage. Such incapacity, being incurable and continuing, constitutes a ground for declaration
of nullity of marriage under Article 36, in relation to Articles 68, 70, and 72, of the Family Code
of the Philippines.

Fely filed her Answer and Counterclaim[4] with the RTC on 05 June 1997. She asserted
therein that she was already an American citizen since 1988 and was now married to Stephen
Micklus. While she admitted being previously married to respondent Crasus and having five
children with him, Fely refuted the other allegations made by respondent Crasus in his
Complaint. She explained that she was no more hot-tempered than any normal person, and she
may had been indignant at respondent Crasus on certain occasions but it was because of the
latters drunkenness, womanizing, and lack of sincere effort to find employment and to
contribute to the maintenance of their household. She could not have been extravagant since
the family hardly had enough money for basic needs. Indeed, Fely left for abroad for financial
reasons as respondent Crasus had no job and what she was then earning as the sole breadwinner
in the Philippines was insufficient to support their family. Although she left all of her children
with respondent Crasus, she continued to provide financial support to them, as well as, to
respondent Crasus. Subsequently, Fely was able to bring her children to the U.S.A., except for
one, Calvert, who had to stay behind for medical reasons. While she did file for divorce from
respondent Crasus, she denied having herself sent a letter to respondent Crasus requesting him
to sign the enclosed divorce papers. After securing a divorce from respondent Crasus, Fely
married her American husband and acquired American citizenship. She argued that her

marriage to her American husband was legal because now being an American citizen, her status
shall be governed by the law of her present nationality. Fely also pointed out that respondent
Crasus himself was presently living with another woman who bore him a child. She also
accused respondent Crasus of misusing the amount of P90,000.00 which she advanced to him to
finance the brain operation of their son, Calvert. On the basis of the foregoing, Fely also prayed
that the RTC declare her marriage to respondent Crasus null and void; and that respondent
Crasus be ordered to pay to Fely the P90,000.00 she advanced to him, with interest, plus, moral
and exemplary damages, attorneys fees, and litigation expenses.

After respondent Crasus and Fely had filed their respective Pre-Trial Briefs, [5] the RTC
afforded both parties the opportunity to present their evidence. Petitioner Republic participated
in the trial through the Provincial Prosecutor of Cebu.[6]

Respondent Crasus submitted the following pieces of evidence in support of his


Complaint: (1) his own testimony on 08 September 1997, in which he essentially reiterated the
allegations in his Complaint;[7] (2) the Certification, dated 13 April 1989, by the Health
Department of Cebu City, on the recording of the Marriage Contract between respondent Crasus
and Fely in the Register of Deeds, such marriage celebration taking place on 16 December
1961;[8] and (3) the invitation to the wedding of Crasus, Jr., their eldest son, wherein Fely openly
used her American husbands surname, Micklus.[9]

Felys counsel filed a Notice,[10] and, later on, a Motion,[11] to take the deposition of
witnesses, namely, Fely and her children, Crasus, Jr. and Daphne, upon written interrogatories,
before the consular officers of the Philippines in New York and California, U.S.A, where the
said witnesses reside. Despite the Orders[12] and Commissions[13] issued by the RTC to the

Philippine Consuls of New York and California, U.S.A., to take the depositions of the witnesses
upon written interrogatories, not a single deposition was ever submitted to the RTC. Taking
into account that it had been over a year since respondent Crasus had presented his evidence
and that Fely failed to exert effort to have the case progress, the RTC issued an Order, dated 05
October 1998,[14] considering Fely to have waived her right to present her evidence. The case
was thus deemed submitted for decision.

Not long after, on 30 October 1998, the RTC promulgated its Judgment declaring the
marriage of respondent Crasus and Fely null and void ab initio, on the basis of the following
findings
The ground bearing defendants psychological incapacity deserves a reasonable
consideration. As observed, plaintiffs testimony is decidedly credible. The Court finds
that defendant had indeed exhibited unmistakable signs of psychological incapacity to
comply with her marital duties such as striving for family unity, observing fidelity,
mutual love, respect, help and support. From the evidence presented, plaintiff adequately
established that the defendant practically abandoned him. She obtained a divorce decree
in the United States of America and married another man and has establish [sic] another
family of her own. Plaintiff is in an anomalous situation, wherein he is married to a wife
who is already married to another man in another country.
Defendants intolerable traits may not have been apparent or manifest before the
marriage, the FAMILY CODE nonetheless allows the annulment of the marriage provided
that these were eventually manifested after the wedding. It appears to be the case in this
instance.
Certainly defendants posture being an irresponsible wife erringly reveals her very
low regard for that sacred and inviolable institution of marriage which is the foundation
of human society throughout the civilized world. It is quite evident that the defendant is
bereft of the mind, will and heart to comply with her marital obligations, such incapacity
was already there at the time of the marriage in question is shown by defendants own
attitude towards her marriage to plaintiff.
In sum, the ground invoked by plaintiff which is defendants psychological
incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations which already existed at the
time of the marriage in question has been satisfactorily proven. The evidence in herein
case establishes the irresponsibility of defendant Fely Ada Rosal Iyoy, firmly.

Going over plaintiffs testimony which is decidedly credible, the Court finds that
the defendant had indeed exhibited unmistakable signs of such psychological incapacity
to comply with her marital obligations. These are her excessive disposition to material
things over and above the marital stability. That such incapacity was already there at the
time of the marriage in question is shown by defendants own attitude towards her
marriage to plaintiff. And for these reasons there is a legal ground to declare the marriage
of plaintiff Crasus L. Iyoy and defendant Fely Ada Rosal Iyoy null and void ab initio.[15]

Petitioner Republic, believing that the afore-quoted Judgment of the RTC was contrary to
law and evidence, filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. The appellate court, though, in its
Decision, dated 30 July 2001, affirmed the appealed Judgment of the RTC, finding no reversible
error therein. It even offered additional ratiocination for declaring the marriage between
respondent Crasus and Fely null and void, to wit
Defendant secured a divorce from plaintiff-appellee abroad, has remarried, and is
now permanently residing in the United States. Plaintiff-appellee categorically stated this
as one of his reasons for seeking the declaration of nullity of their marriage

Article 26 of the Family Code provides:


Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in
accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country,
except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
WHERE A MARRIAGE BETWEEN A FILIPINO CITIZEN AND
A FOREIGNER IS VALIDLY CELEBRATED AND A DIVORCE IS
THEREAFTER VALIDLY OBTAINED ABROAD BY THE ALIEN
SPOUSE CAPACITATING HIM OR HER TO REMARRY, THE
FILIPINO SPOUSE SHALL LIKEWISE HAVE CAPACITY TO
REMARRY UNDER PHILIPPINE LAW.
The rationale behind the second paragraph of the above-quoted provision is to
avoid the absurd and unjust situation of a Filipino citizen still being married to his or her
alien spouse, although the latter is no longer married to the Filipino spouse because he or
she has obtained a divorce abroad. In the case at bench, the defendant has undoubtedly
acquired her American husbands citizenship and thus has become an alien as well. This
Court cannot see why the benefits of Art. 26 aforequoted can not be extended to a
Filipino citizen whose spouse eventually embraces another citizenship and thus becomes
herself an alien.

It would be the height of unfairness if, under these circumstances, plaintiff would
still be considered as married to defendant, given her total incapacity to honor her marital
covenants to the former. To condemn plaintiff to remain shackled in a marriage that in
truth and in fact does not exist and to remain married to a spouse who is incapacitated to
discharge essential marital covenants, is verily to condemn him to a perpetual
disadvantage which this Court finds abhorrent and will not countenance. Justice dictates
that plaintiff be given relief by affirming the trial courts declaration of the nullity of the
marriage of the parties.[16]

After the Court of Appeals, in a Resolution, dated 08 March 2002, [17] denied its Motion
for Reconsideration, petitioner Republic filed the instant Petition before this Court, based on the
following arguments/grounds
I. Abandonment by and sexual infidelity of respondents wife do not per
se constitute psychological incapacity.
II. The Court of Appeals has decided questions of substance not in accord with
law and jurisprudence considering that the Court of Appeals committed serious errors of
law in ruling that Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code is inapplicable to the case at
bar.[18]

In his Comment[19] to the Petition, respondent Crasus maintained that Felys


psychological incapacity was clearly established after a full-blown trial, and that paragraph 2 of
Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines was indeed applicable to the marriage of
respondent Crasus and Fely, because the latter had already become an American citizen. He
further questioned the personality of petitioner Republic, represented by the Office of the
Solicitor General, to institute the instant Petition, because Article 48 of the Family Code of the
Philippines authorizes the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to the trial court, not the

Solicitor General, to intervene on behalf of the State, in proceedings for annulment and
declaration of nullity of marriages.

After having reviewed the records of this case and the applicable laws and jurisprudence,
this Court finds the instant Petition to be meritorious.
I
The totality of evidence presented during trial is insufficient to support the finding
of psychological incapacity of Fely.

Article 36, concededly one of the more controversial provisions of the Family Code of
the Philippines, reads
ART. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration,
was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of
marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization.

Issues most commonly arise as to what constitutes psychological incapacity. In a series of


cases, this Court laid down guidelines for determining its existence.

In Santos v. Court of Appeals,[20] the term psychological incapacity was defined, thus
. . . [P]sychological incapacity should refer to no less than a mental (not
physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly cognitive of the basic marital
covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the
marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual
obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and
support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the

meaning of psychological incapacity to the most serious cases of personality disorders


clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and
significance to the marriage. This psychological condition must exist at the time the
marriage is celebrated[21]

The psychological incapacity must be characterized by

(a)

Gravity It must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of

carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage;


(b)

Juridical Antecedence It must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the

marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and
(c)

Incurability It must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be

beyond the means of the party involved.[22]

More definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the


Family Code of the Philippines were handed down by this Court in Republic v. Court of
Appeals and Molina,[23] which, although quite lengthy, by its significance, deserves to be
reproduced below
(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the
plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the
marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our
Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus,
our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family, recognizing it as the foundation
of the nation. It decrees marriage as legally inviolable, thereby protecting it from
dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be protected
by the state.
The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and
emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and solidarity.
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or
clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and
(d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the
incapacity must be psychological - not physical, although its manifestations and/or

symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one
of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have
known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid
assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as
not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis,
nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its
incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified
psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of the celebration of
the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties
exchanged their I do's. The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such
time, but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto.
(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or
incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other
spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such
incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to
those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to
assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, mild characteriological peculiarities,
mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts cannot be accepted as root causes. The
illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or
difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling
factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that
effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the
obligations essential to marriage.
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to
71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and
225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital
obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the
text of the decision.
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the
Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given
great respect by our courts
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor
General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the
Solicitor General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly
stating therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the
petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the
court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed
submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent
function of the defensor vinculicontemplated under Canon 1095.[24]

A later case, Marcos v. Marcos,[25] further clarified that there is no requirement that the
defendant/respondent spouse should be personally examined by a physician or psychologist as a
condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological
incapacity. Such psychological incapacity, however, must be established by the totality of the
evidence presented during the trial.

Using the guidelines established by the afore-mentioned jurisprudence, this Court finds
that the totality of evidence presented by respondent Crasus failed miserably to establish the
alleged psychological incapacity of his wife Fely; therefore, there is no basis for declaring their
marriage null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

The only substantial evidence presented by respondent Crasus before the RTC was his
testimony, which can be easily put into question for being self-serving, in the absence of any
other corroborating evidence. He submitted only two other pieces of evidence: (1) the
Certification on the recording with the Register of Deeds of the Marriage Contract between
respondent Crasus and Fely, such marriage being celebrated on 16 December 1961; and (2) the
invitation to the wedding of Crasus, Jr., their eldest son, in which Fely used her American
husbands surname. Even considering the admissions made by Fely herself in her Answer to
respondent Crasuss Complaint filed with the RTC, the evidence is not enough to convince this
Court that Fely had such a grave mental illness that prevented her from assuming the essential
obligations of marriage.

It is worthy to emphasize that Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines


contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume the basic
marital obligations; not a mere refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less, ill will, on the part of the
errant spouse.[26] Irreconcilable differences, conflicting personalities, emotional immaturity and
irresponsibility, physical abuse, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and
abandonment, by themselves, also do not warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under
the said Article.[27]

As has already been stressed by this Court in previous cases, Article 36 is not to be
confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefore manifest
themselves. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the
celebration of marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of
awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.[28]

The evidence may have proven that Fely committed acts that hurt and embarrassed
respondent Crasus and the rest of the family. Her hot-temper, nagging, and extravagance; her
abandonment of respondent Crasus; her marriage to an American; and even her flaunting of her
American family and her American surname, may indeed be manifestations of her alleged
incapacity to comply with her marital obligations; nonetheless, the root cause for such was not
identified. If the root cause of the incapacity was not identified, then it cannot be satisfactorily
established as a psychological or mental defect that is serious or grave; neither could it be
proven to be in existence at the time of celebration of the marriage; nor that it is incurable.

While the personal examination of Fely by a psychiatrist or psychologist is no longer mandatory


for the declaration of nullity of their marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code of the
Philippines, by virtue of this Courts ruling in Marcos v. Marcos,[29] respondent Crasus must still
have complied with the requirement laid down in Republic v. Court of Appeals and
Molina[30] that the root cause of the incapacity be identified as a psychological illness and that
its incapacitating nature be fully explained.

In any case, any doubt shall be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. [31] No
less than the Constitution of 1987 sets the policy to protect and strengthen the family as the
basic social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family.[32]

II
Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines is not applicable to
the case at bar.

According to Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines


Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated
and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or
her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under
Philippine law.

As it is worded, Article 26, paragraph 2, refers to a special situation wherein one of the
couple getting married is a Filipino citizen and the other a foreigner at the time the marriage
was celebrated. By its plain and literal interpretation, the said provision cannot be applied

to the case of respondent Crasus and his wife Fely because at the time Fely obtained her
divorce, she was still a Filipino citizen. Although the exact date was not established, Fely
herself admitted in her Answer filed before the RTC that she obtained a divorce from
respondent Crasus sometime after she left for the United States in 1984, after which she married
her American husband in 1985. In the same Answer, she alleged that she had been an American
citizen since 1988. At the time she filed for divorce, Fely was still a Filipino citizen, and
pursuant to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code of the Philippines,
she was still bound by Philippine laws on family rights and duties, status, condition, and legal
capacity, even when she was already living abroad. Philippine laws, then and even until now,
do not allow and recognize divorce between Filipino spouses. Thus, Fely could not have
validly obtained a divorce from respondent Crasus.

III
The Solicitor General is authorized to intervene, on behalf of the Republic, in
proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages.

Invoking Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines, respondent Crasus argued that
only the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to the RTC may intervene on behalf of the State
in proceedings for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages; hence, the Office of the
Solicitor General had no personality to file the instant Petition on behalf of the State. Article 48
provides
ART. 48. In all cases of annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage,
the Court shall order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf

of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that the
evidence is not fabricated or suppressed.

That Article 48 does not expressly mention the Solicitor General does not bar him or his
Office from intervening in proceedings for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages.
Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, appoints the
Solicitor General as the principal law officer and legal defender of the Government. [33] His
Office is tasked to represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and
instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or
matter requiring the services of lawyers. The Office of the Solicitor General shall constitute the
law office of the Government and, as such, shall discharge duties requiring the services of
lawyers.[34]

The intent of Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines is to ensure that the interest
of the State is represented and protected in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity
of marriages by preventing collusion between the parties, or the fabrication or suppression of
evidence; and, bearing in mind that the Solicitor General is the principal law officer and legal
defender of the land, then his intervention in such proceedings could only serve and contribute
to the realization of such intent, rather than thwart it.

Furthermore, the general rule is that only the Solicitor General is authorized to bring or
defend actions on behalf of the People or the Republic of the Philippines once the case is
brought before this Court or the Court of Appeals.[35] While it is the prosecuting attorney or

fiscal who actively participates, on behalf of the State, in a proceeding for annulment or
declaration of nullity of marriage before the RTC, the Office of the Solicitor General takes over
when the case is elevated to the Court of Appeals or this Court. Since it shall be eventually
responsible for taking the case to the appellate courts when circumstances demand, then it is
only reasonable and practical that even while the proceeding is still being held before the RTC,
the Office of the Solicitor General can already exercise supervision and control over the
conduct of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal therein to better guarantee the protection of the
interests of the State.

In fact, this Court had already recognized and affirmed the role of the Solicitor General in
several cases for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages that were appealed before it,
summarized as follows in the case of Ancheta v. Ancheta[36]
In the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals [268 SCRA 198 (1997)], this Court
laid down the guidelines in the interpretation and application of Art. 48 of the Family
Code, one of which concerns the role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the
Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the State:
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and
the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall
be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which
will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his
agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor
General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such
certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed
submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge
the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon
1095. [Id., at 213]
This Court in the case of Malcampo-Sin v. Sin [355 SCRA 285 (2001)] reiterated
its pronouncement in Republic v. Court of Appeals [Supra.] regarding the role of the
prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the
State[37]

Finally, the issuance of this Court of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages,[38] which became effective on 15 March 2003,
should dispel any other doubts of respondent Crasus as to the authority of the Solicitor General
to file the instant Petition on behalf of the State. The Rule recognizes the authority of the
Solicitor General to intervene and take part in the proceedings for annulment and declaration of
nullity of marriages before the RTC and on appeal to higher courts. The pertinent provisions of
the said Rule are reproduced below
Sec. 5. Contents and form of petition.

(4) It shall be filed in six copies. The petitioner shall serve a copy of the petition
on the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the City or Provincial Prosecutor,
within five days from the date of its filing and submit to the court proof of such service
within the same period.

Sec. 18. Memoranda. The court may require the parties and the public
prosecutor, in consultation with the Office of the Solicitor General, to file their respective
memoranda in support of their claims within fifteen days from the date the trial is
terminated. It may require the Office of the Solicitor General to file its own
memorandum if the case is of significant interest to the State. No other pleadings or
papers may be submitted without leave of court. After the lapse of the period herein
provided, the case will be considered submitted for decision, with or without the
memoranda.
Sec. 19. Decision.

(2) The parties, including the Solicitor General and the public prosecutor, shall be
served with copies of the decision personally or by registered mail. If the respondent
summoned by publication failed to appear in the action, the dispositive part of the
decision shall be published once in a newspaper of general circulation.

(3) The decision becomes final upon the expiration of fifteen days from notice to
the parties. Entry of judgment shall be made if no motion for reconsideration or new
trial, or appeal is filed by any of the parties, the public prosecutor, or the Solicitor
General.

Sec. 20. Appeal.

(2) Notice of Appeal. An aggrieved party or the Solicitor General may appeal
from the decision by filing a Notice of Appeal within fifteen days from notice of denial of
the motion for reconsideration or new trial. The appellant shall serve a copy of the notice
of appeal on the adverse parties.

Given the foregoing, this Court arrives at a conclusion contrary to those of the RTC and
the Court of Appeals, and sustains the validity and existence of the marriage between
respondent Crasus and Fely. At most, Felys abandonment, sexual infidelity, and bigamy, give
respondent Crasus grounds to file for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code of
the Philippines, but not for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the same
Code. While this Court commiserates with respondent Crasus for being continuously shackled
to what is now a hopeless and loveless marriage, this is one of those situations where neither
law nor society can provide the specific answer to every individual problem.[39]

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62539, dated 30 July 2001, affirming the Judgment of the RTC of
Cebu City, Branch 22, in Civil Case No. CEB-20077, dated 30 October 1998, is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE.

The marriage of respondent Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada Rosal-Iyoy remains valid and
subsisting.

SO ORDERED.
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
Chairman

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice
Associate Justice

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

AT T E S TAT I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before
the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
Chairman, Second Division

C E R T I F I C AT I O N
Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, and the Division Chairmans
Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.


Chief Justice