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See #47 San Luis v.

San Luis
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 133743

February 6, 2007

EDGAR SAN LUIS, Petitioner,


vs.
FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, Respondent.
x ---------------------------------------------------- x
G.R. No. 134029

February 6, 2007

RODOLFO SAN LUIS, Petitioner,


vs.
FELICIDAD SAGALONGOS alias FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, Respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
Before us are consolidated petitions for review assailing the February 4, 1998 Decision 1 of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 52647, which reversed and set aside the September 12, 1995 2 and
January 31, 1996 3Resolutions of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 134 in SP. Proc.
No. M-3708; and its May 15, 1998 Resolution 4 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
The instant case involves the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo T. San Luis (Felicisimo), who
was the former governor of the Province of Laguna. During his lifetime, Felicisimo contracted three
marriages. His first marriage was with Virginia Sulit on March 17, 1942 out of which were born six
children, namely: Rodolfo, Mila, Edgar, Linda, Emilita and Manuel. On August 11, 1963, Virginia
predeceased Felicisimo.
Five years later, on May 1, 1968, Felicisimo married Merry Lee Corwin, with whom he had a son,
Tobias. However, on October 15, 1971, Merry Lee, an American citizen, filed a Complaint for
Divorce 5 before the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, United States of America
(U.S.A.), which issued a Decree Granting Absolute Divorce and Awarding Child Custody on
December 14, 1973. 6
On June 20, 1974, Felicisimo married respondent Felicidad San Luis, then surnamed Sagalongos,
before Rev. Fr. William Meyer, Minister of the United Presbyterian at Wilshire Boulevard, Los
Angeles, California, U.S.A. 7 He had no children with respondent but lived with her for 18 years from
the time of their marriage up to his death on December 18, 1992.
Thereafter, respondent sought the dissolution of their conjugal partnership assets and the settlement
of Felicisimos estate. On December 17, 1993, she filed a petition for letters of

administration 8 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, docketed as SP. Proc. No. M-3708
which was raffled to Branch 146 thereof.
Respondent alleged that she is the widow of Felicisimo; that, at the time of his death, the decedent
was residing at 100 San Juanico Street, New Alabang Village, Alabang, Metro Manila; that the
decedents surviving heirs are respondent as legal spouse, his six children by his first marriage, and
son by his second marriage; that the decedent left real properties, both conjugal and exclusive,
valued at P30,304,178.00 more or less; that the decedent does not have any unpaid debts.
Respondent prayed that the conjugal partnership assets be liquidated and that letters of
administration be issued to her.
On February 4, 1994, petitioner Rodolfo San Luis, one of the children of Felicisimo by his first
marriage, filed a motion to dismiss 9 on the grounds of improper venue and failure to state a cause of
action. Rodolfo claimed that the petition for letters of administration should have been filed in the
Province of Laguna because this was Felicisimos place of residence prior to his death. He further
claimed that respondent has no legal personality to file the petition because she was only a mistress
of Felicisimo since the latter, at the time of his death, was still legally married to Merry Lee.
On February 15, 1994, Linda invoked the same grounds and joined her brother Rodolfo in seeking
the dismissal10 of the petition. On February 28, 1994, the trial court issued an Order 11 denying the
two motions to dismiss.
Unaware of the denial of the motions to dismiss, respondent filed on March 5, 1994 her
opposition 12 thereto. She submitted documentary evidence showing that while Felicisimo exercised
the powers of his public office in Laguna, he regularly went home to their house in New Alabang
Village, Alabang, Metro Manila which they bought sometime in 1982. Further, she presented the
decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii to prove
that the marriage of Felicisimo to Merry Lee had already been dissolved. Thus, she claimed that
Felicisimo had the legal capacity to marry her by virtue of paragraph 2, 13 Article 26 of the Family
Code and the doctrine laid down in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 14
Thereafter, Linda, Rodolfo and herein petitioner Edgar San Luis, separately filed motions for
reconsideration from the Order denying their motions to dismiss. 15 They asserted that paragraph 2,
Article 26 of the Family Code cannot be given retroactive effect to validate respondents bigamous
marriage with Felicisimo because this would impair vested rights in derogation of Article 256 16 of the
Family Code.
On April 21, 1994, Mila, another daughter of Felicisimo from his first marriage, filed a motion to
disqualify Acting Presiding Judge Anthony E. Santos from hearing the case.
On October 24, 1994, the trial court issued an Order 17 denying the motions for reconsideration. It
ruled that respondent, as widow of the decedent, possessed the legal standing to file the petition and
that venue was properly laid. Meanwhile, the motion for disqualification was deemed moot and
academic 18 because then Acting Presiding Judge Santos was substituted by Judge Salvador S.
Tensuan pending the resolution of said motion.
Mila filed a motion for inhibition 19 against Judge Tensuan on November 16, 1994. On even date,
Edgar also filed a motion for reconsideration 20 from the Order denying their motion for
reconsideration arguing that it does not state the facts and law on which it was based.
On November 25, 1994, Judge Tensuan issued an Order 21 granting the motion for inhibition. The
case was re-raffled to Branch 134 presided by Judge Paul T. Arcangel.

On April 24, 1995, 22 the trial court required the parties to submit their respective position papers on
the twin issues of venue and legal capacity of respondent to file the petition. On May 5, 1995, Edgar
manifested 23 that he is adopting the arguments and evidence set forth in his previous motion for
reconsideration as his position paper. Respondent and Rodolfo filed their position papers on June
14, 24 and June 20, 25 1995, respectively.
On September 12, 1995, the trial court dismissed the petition for letters of administration. It held that,
at the time of his death, Felicisimo was the duly elected governor and a resident of the Province of
Laguna. Hence, the petition should have been filed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna and not in Makati City. It
also ruled that respondent was without legal capacity to file the petition for letters of administration
because her marriage with Felicisimo was bigamous, thus, void ab initio. It found that the decree of
absolute divorce dissolving Felicisimos marriage to Merry Lee was not valid in the Philippines and
did not bind Felicisimo who was a Filipino citizen. It also ruled that paragraph 2, Article 26 of the
Family Code cannot be retroactively applied because it would impair the vested rights of Felicisimos
legitimate children.
Respondent moved for reconsideration 26 and for the disqualification 27 of Judge Arcangel but said
motions were denied. 28
Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed and set aside the orders of the trial
court in its assailed Decision dated February 4, 1998, the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, the Orders dated September 12, 1995 and January 31, 1996 are hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE; the Orders dated February 28 and October 24, 1994 are
REINSTATED; and the records of the case is REMANDED to the trial court for further
proceedings. 29
The appellante court ruled that under Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the term "place of
residence" of the decedent, for purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate, refers to
the personal, actual or physical habitation, or actual residence or place of abode of a person as
distinguished from legal residence or domicile. It noted that although Felicisimo discharged his
functions as governor in Laguna, he actually resided in Alabang, Muntinlupa. Thus, the petition for
letters of administration was properly filed in Makati City.
The Court of Appeals also held that Felicisimo had legal capacity to marry respondent by virtue of
paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code and the rulings in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 30 and Pilapil v.
Ibay-Somera. 31 It found that the marriage between Felicisimo and Merry Lee was validly dissolved
by virtue of the decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of
Hawaii. As a result, under paragraph 2, Article 26, Felicisimo was capacitated to contract a
subsequent marriage with respondent. Thus
With the well-known rule express mandate of paragraph 2, Article 26, of the Family Code of the
Philippines, the doctrines in Van Dorn, Pilapil, and the reason and philosophy behind the enactment
of E.O. No. 227, there is no justiciable reason to sustain the individual view sweeping
statement of Judge Arc[h]angel, that "Article 26, par. 2 of the Family Code, contravenes the basic
policy of our state against divorce in any form whatsoever." Indeed, courts cannot deny what the law
grants. All that the courts should do is to give force and effect to the express mandate of the law.
The foreign divorce having been obtained by the Foreigner on December 14, 1992,32 the Filipino
divorcee, "shall x x x have capacity to remarry under Philippine laws". For this reason, the marriage
between the deceased and petitioner should not be denominated as "a bigamous marriage.

Therefore, under Article 130 of the Family Code, the petitioner as the surviving spouse can institute
the judicial proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased. x x x 33
Edgar, Linda, and Rodolfo filed separate motions for reconsideration 34 which were denied by the
Court of Appeals.
On July 2, 1998, Edgar appealed to this Court via the instant petition for review on
certiorari. 35 Rodolfo later filed a manifestation and motion to adopt the said petition which was
granted. 36
In the instant consolidated petitions, Edgar and Rodolfo insist that the venue of the subject petition
for letters of administration was improperly laid because at the time of his death, Felicisimo was a
resident of Sta. Cruz, Laguna. They contend that pursuant to our rulings in Nuval v. Guray 37 and
Romualdez v. RTC, Br. 7, Tacloban City, 38 "residence" is synonymous with "domicile" which
denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when absent, one intends to return. They claim that a
person can only have one domicile at any given time. Since Felicisimo never changed his domicile,
the petition for letters of administration should have been filed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
Petitioners also contend that respondents marriage to Felicisimo was void and bigamous because it
was performed during the subsistence of the latters marriage to Merry Lee. They argue that
paragraph 2, Article 26 cannot be retroactively applied because it would impair vested rights and
ratify the void bigamous marriage. As such, respondent cannot be considered the surviving wife of
Felicisimo; hence, she has no legal capacity to file the petition for letters of administration.
The issues for resolution: (1) whether venue was properly laid, and (2) whether respondent has legal
capacity to file the subject petition for letters of administration.
The petition lacks merit.
Under Section 1, 39 Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the petition for letters of administration of the
estate of Felicisimo should be filed in the Regional Trial Court of the province "in which he resides at
the time of his death." In the case of Garcia Fule v. Court of Appeals, 40 we laid down the doctrinal
rule for determining the residence as contradistinguished from domicile of the decedent for
purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate:
[T]he term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as distinguished from "legal residence
or domicile." This term "resides," like the terms "residing" and "residence," is elastic and should be
interpreted in the light of the object or purpose of the statute or rule in which it is employed. In the
application of venue statutes and rules Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such
nature residence rather than domicile is the significant factor. Even where the statute uses the
word "domicile" still it is construed as meaning residence and not domicile in the technical sense.
Some cases make a distinction between the terms "residence" and "domicile" but as generally used
in statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the term
"inhabitant." In other words, "resides" should be viewed or understood in its popular sense, meaning,
the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode. It signifies
physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this popular sense, the term means merely
residence, that is, personal residence, not legal residence or domicile. Residence simply requires
bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that
place and also an intention to make it ones domicile. No particular length of time of residence is
required though; however, the residence must be more than temporary. 41 (Emphasis supplied)

It is incorrect for petitioners to argue that "residence," for purposes of fixing the venue of the
settlement of the estate of Felicisimo, is synonymous with "domicile." The rulings in Nuval and
Romualdez are inapplicable to the instant case because they involve election cases. Needless to
say, there is a distinction between "residence" for purposes of election laws and "residence" for
purposes of fixing the venue of actions. In election cases, "residence" and "domicile" are treated as
synonymous terms, that is, the fixed permanent residence to which when absent, one has the
intention of returning. 42 However, for purposes of fixing venue under the Rules of Court, the
"residence" of a person is his personal, actual or physical habitation, or actual residence or place of
abode, which may not necessarily be his legal residence or domicile provided he resides therein with
continuity and consistency. 43 Hence, it is possible that a person may have his residence in one
place and domicile in another.
In the instant case, while petitioners established that Felicisimo was domiciled in Sta. Cruz, Laguna,
respondent proved that he also maintained a residence in Alabang, Muntinlupa from 1982 up to the
time of his death. Respondent submitted in evidence the Deed of Absolute Sale 44 dated January 5,
1983 showing that the deceased purchased the aforesaid property. She also presented billing
statements 45 from the Philippine Heart Center and Chinese General Hospital for the period August
to December 1992 indicating the address of Felicisimo at "100 San Juanico, Ayala Alabang,
Muntinlupa." Respondent also presented proof of membership of the deceased in the Ayala Alabang
Village Association 46 and Ayala Country Club, Inc., 47 letter-envelopes 48from 1988 to 1990 sent by
the deceaseds children to him at his Alabang address, and the deceaseds calling cards 49 stating
that his home/city address is at "100 San Juanico, Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa" while his
office/provincial address is in "Provincial Capitol, Sta. Cruz, Laguna."
From the foregoing, we find that Felicisimo was a resident of Alabang, Muntinlupa for purposes of
fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate. Consequently, the subject petition for letters of
administration was validly filed in the Regional Trial Court 50 which has territorial jurisdiction over
Alabang, Muntinlupa. The subject petition was filed on December 17, 1993. At that time, Muntinlupa
was still a municipality and the branches of the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial
Region which had territorial jurisdiction over Muntinlupa were then seated in Makati City as per
Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 3. 51 Thus, the subject petition was validly filed before the
Regional Trial Court of Makati City.
Anent the issue of respondent Felicidads legal personality to file the petition for letters of
administration, we must first resolve the issue of whether a Filipino who is divorced by his alien
spouse abroad may validly remarry under the Civil Code, considering that Felicidads marriage to
Felicisimo was solemnized on June 20, 1974, or before the Family Code took effect on August 3,
1988. In resolving this issue, we need not retroactively apply the provisions of the Family Code,
particularly Art. 26, par. (2) considering that there is sufficient jurisprudential basis allowing us to rule
in the affirmative.
The case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 52 involved a marriage between a foreigner and his Filipino wife,
which marriage was subsequently dissolved through a divorce obtained abroad by the latter.
Claiming that the divorce was not valid under Philippine law, the alien spouse alleged that his
interest in the properties from their conjugal partnership should be protected. The Court, however,
recognized the validity of the divorce and held that the alien spouse had no interest in the properties
acquired by the Filipino wife after the divorce. Thus:
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 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 petitioners husband entitled to exercise control
over conjugal assets. As he is bound by the Decision of his own countrys 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. 53
As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the Court ruled that she should no longer be
considered married to the alien spouse. Further, she should not be required to perform her marital
duties and obligations. It held:
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. 54 (Emphasis added)
This principle was thereafter applied in Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera 55 where the Court recognized the
validity of a divorce obtained abroad. In the said case, it was held that the alien spouse is not a
proper party in filing the adultery suit against his Filipino wife. The Court stated that "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." 56
Likewise, in Quita v. Court of Appeals, 57 the Court stated that where a Filipino is divorced by his
naturalized foreign spouse, the ruling in Van Dorn applies. 58 Although decided on December 22,
1998, the divorce in the said case was obtained in 1954 when the Civil Code provisions were still in
effect.
The significance of the Van Dorn case to the development of limited recognition of divorce in the
Philippines cannot be denied. The ruling has long been interpreted as severing marital ties between
parties in a mixed marriage and capacitating the Filipino spouse to remarry as a necessary
consequence of upholding the validity of a divorce obtained abroad by the alien spouse. In his
treatise, Dr. Arturo M. Tolentino cited Van Dorn stating that "if the foreigner obtains a valid foreign
divorce, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law." 59 In Garcia v.
Recio, 60 the Court likewise cited the aforementioned case in relation to Article 26. 61
In the recent case of Republic v. Orbecido III, 62 the historical background and legislative intent
behind paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code were discussed, to wit:
Brief Historical Background
On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law Executive Order No. 209, otherwise
known as the "Family Code," which took effect on August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states:

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, 37, and 38.
On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family Code, Executive Order No. 227 was
likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26, 36, and 39 of the Family Code. A second paragraph
was added to Article 26. As so amended, it now 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 have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (Emphasis supplied)
xxxx
Legislative Intent
Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations showed that the intent of Paragraph 2
of Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a member of the Civil Code Revision
Committee, is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien
spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse.
Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the 1985 case of Van Dorn v.
Romillo, Jr. TheVan Dorn case involved a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner.
The Court held therein that a divorce decree validly obtained by the alien spouse is valid in
the Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino spouse is capacitated to remarry under
Philippine law. 63 (Emphasis added)
As such, the Van Dorn case is sufficient basis in resolving a situation where a divorce is validly
obtained abroad by the alien spouse. With the enactment of the Family Code and paragraph 2,
Article 26 thereof, our lawmakers codified the law already established through judicial precedent.

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Indeed, when the object of a marriage is defeated by rendering its continuance intolerable to one of
the parties and productive of no possible good to the community, relief in some way should be
obtainable. 64 Marriage, being a mutual and shared commitment between two parties, cannot
possibly be productive of any good to the society where one is considered released from the marital
bond while the other remains bound to it. Such is the state of affairs where the alien spouse obtains
a valid divorce abroad against the Filipino spouse, as in this case.
Petitioners cite Articles 15 65 and 17 66 of the Civil Code in stating that the divorce is void under
Philippine law insofar as Filipinos are concerned. However, in light of this Courts rulings in the cases
discussed above, the Filipino spouse should not be discriminated against in his own country if the
ends of justice are to be served. 67 In Alonzo v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 68 the Court stated:
But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law by its results; and likewise, we may add, by its
purposes. It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the meaning of the law, the first concern of the judge
should be to discover in its provisions the intent of the lawmaker. Unquestionably, the law should
never be interpreted in such a way as to cause injustice as this is never within the legislative intent.
An indispensable part of that intent, in fact, for we presume the good motives of the legislature, is
to render justice.

Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in consonance with justice. Law and
justice are inseparable, and we must keep them so. To be sure, there are some laws that, while
generally valid, may seem arbitrary when applied in a particular case because of its peculiar
circumstances. In such a situation, we are not bound, because only of our nature and functions, to
apply them just the same, in slavish obedience to their language. What we do instead is find a
balance between the word and the will, that justice may be done even as the law is obeyed.
As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and must not unfeelingly apply the law as it is worded,
yielding like robots to the literal command without regard to its cause and consequence. "Courts are
apt to err by sticking too closely to the words of a law," so we are warned, by Justice Holmes again,
"where these words import a policy that goes beyond them."
xxxx
More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined justice "as the constant and perpetual wish to
render every one his due." That wish continues to motivate this Court when it assesses the facts and
the law in every case brought to it for decision. Justice is always an essential ingredient of its
decisions. Thus when the facts warrants, we interpret the law in a way that will render justice,
presuming that it was the intention of the lawmaker, to begin with, that the law be dispensed with
justice. 69
Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the divorce decree allegedly obtained by Merry Lee
which absolutely allowed Felicisimo to remarry, would have vested Felicidad with the legal
personality to file the present petition as Felicisimos surviving spouse. However, the records show
that there is insufficient evidence to prove the validity of the divorce obtained by Merry Lee as well
as the marriage of respondent and Felicisimo under the laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia v. Recio, 70 the
Court laid down the specific guidelines for pleading and proving foreign law and divorce judgments.
It held that presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient and that proof of its authenticity
and due execution must be presented. Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, a writing or document
may be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication or
(2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having legal custody of the document. If the record is not
kept in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper
diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign country in
which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office. 71
With regard to respondents marriage to Felicisimo allegedly solemnized in California, U.S.A., she
submitted photocopies of the Marriage Certificate and the annotated text 72 of the Family Law Act of
California which purportedly show that their marriage was done in accordance with the said law. As
stated in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws as they must be
alleged and proved. 73
Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial court for further reception of evidence on the
divorce decree obtained by Merry Lee and the marriage of respondent and Felicisimo.
Even assuming that Felicisimo was not capacitated to marry respondent in 1974, nevertheless, we
find that the latter has the legal personality to file the subject petition for letters of administration, as
she may be considered the co-owner of Felicisimo as regards the properties that were acquired
through their joint efforts during their cohabitation.
Section 6, 74 Rule 78 of the Rules of Court states that letters of administration may be granted to the
surviving spouse of the decedent. However, Section 2, Rule 79 thereof also provides in part:

SEC. 2. Contents of petition for letters of administration. A petition for letters of administration must
be filed by an interested person and must show, as far as known to the petitioner: x x x.
An "interested person" has been defined as one who would be benefited by the estate, such as an
heir, or one who has a claim against the estate, such as a creditor. The interest must be material
and direct, and not merely indirect or contingent. 75
In the instant case, respondent would qualify as an interested person who has a direct interest in the
estate of Felicisimo by virtue of their cohabitation, the existence of which was not denied by
petitioners. If she proves the validity of the divorce and Felicisimos capacity to remarry, but fails to
prove that her marriage with him was validly performed under the laws of the U.S.A., then she may
be considered as a co-owner under Article 144 76 of the Civil Code. This provision governs the
property relations between parties who live together as husband and wife without the benefit of
marriage, or their marriage is void from the beginning. It provides that the property acquired by either
or both of them through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be governed by the
rules on co-ownership. In a co-ownership, it is not necessary that the property be acquired through
their joint labor, efforts and industry. Any property acquired during the union is prima facie presumed
to have been obtained through their joint efforts. Hence, the portions belonging to the co-owners
shall be presumed equal, unless the contrary is proven. 77
Meanwhile, if respondent fails to prove the validity of both the divorce and the marriage, the
applicable provision would be Article 148 of the Family Code which has filled the hiatus in Article 144
of the Civil Code by expressly regulating the property relations of couples living together as husband
and wife but are incapacitated to marry. 78In Saguid v. Court of Appeals, 79 we held that even if the
cohabitation or the acquisition of property occurred before the Family Code took effect, Article 148
governs. 80 The Court described the property regime under this provision as follows:
The regime of limited co-ownership of property governing the union of parties who are not legally
capacitated to marry each other, but who nonetheless live together as husband and wife, applies to
properties acquired during said cohabitation in proportion to their respective contributions. Coownership will only be up to the extent of the proven actual contribution of money, property or
industry. Absent proof of the extent thereof, their contributions and corresponding shares shall be
presumed to be equal.
xxxx
In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, which involved the issue of coownership of properties acquired by the parties to a bigamous marriage and an adulterous
relationship, respectively, we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the acquisition of the property
is essential. x x x
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as determined by the pleadings
or the nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions must be proved by competent
evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of the partys own evidence and not upon the
weakness of the opponents defense. x x x81
In view of the foregoing, we find that respondents legal capacity to file the subject petition for letters
of administration may arise from her status as the surviving wife of Felicisimo or as his co-owner
under Article 144 of the Civil Code or Article 148 of the Family Code.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals reinstating and
affirming the February 28, 1994 Order of the Regional Trial Court which denied petitioners motion to

dismiss and its October 24, 1994 Order which dismissed petitioners motion for reconsideration is
AFFIRMED. Let this case be REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings.
SO ORDERED.
Footnotes
When 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 have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
13

This Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested
rights or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other laws.
16

Parenthetically, it appears that the Court of Appeals proceeded from a mistaken finding of
fact because the records clearly show that the divorce was obtained on December 14, 1973
(not December 14, 1992) and that the marriage of Gov. San Luis with respondent was
celebrated on June 20, 1974. These events both occurred before the effectivity of the Family
Code on August 3, 1988.
32

SECTION 1. Where estate of deceased persons be settled. If the decedent is an


inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will
shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of
First Instance in the province in which he resides at the time of his death, x x x.
(Underscoring supplied)
39

The Regional Trial Court and not the Municipal Trial Court had jurisdiction over this case
because the value of Gov. San Luis estate exceeded P200,000.00 as provided for under
B.P. Blg 129, Section 19(4).
50

51

SC Administrative Order No. 3 dated January 19, 1983 states in part:


Pursuant to the provisions of Section 18 of B.P. Blg. 129, and Section 4 of the
Executive Order issued by the President of the Philippines on January 17, 1983,
declaring the reorganization of the Judiciary, the territorial jurisdiction of the Regional
Trial Courts in the National Capital Judicial Region are hereby defined as follows:
xxxx
5. Branches CXXXII to CL, inclusive, with seats at Makati over the municipalities of
Las Pinas, Makati, Muntinlupa and Paraaque. x x x

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.
65

Art. 17. x x x Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which
have for their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered
ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed
upon in a foreign country.
66

SEC. 6. When and to whom letters of administration granted. If x x x a person dies


intestate, administration shall be granted:
74

(a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or both, in
the discretion of the court, or to such person as such surviving husband or wife, or
next of kin, requests to have appointed, if competent and willing to serve; x x x.
76

Article 144 of the Civil Code reads in full:


When a man and a woman live together as husband and wife, but they are not
married, or their marriage is void from the beginning, the property acquired by either
or both of them through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be
governed by the rules on co-ownership.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-45870 May 11, 1984
MARGARET MAXEY assisted by Santiago Magbanua; FLORENCE MAXEY assisted by
Ofrecinio Santos; and LUCILLE MAXEY, petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and THE SPOUSES BEATO C. MACAYRA and
ALACOPUE MONDAY, respondents.
Jose B. Guyo for petitioners.
Epifanio Estrellado for private respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:


This petition for review involves the rights of a woman over properties acquired in 1912 principally
through the efforts of the man she was living with and at a time when the two were not yet legally
married.
The facts of the case are briefly stated in the decision of the Court of Appeals as follows:
The record reveals that Melbourne Maxey and Regina Morales (both deceased) lived
together as husband and wife in Banganga, Davao; that out of said union were born
six (6) children, among them are the herein plaintiffs, namely: John or Carlos, Lucille,
Margaret, Florence, Fred and George, all surnamed Maxey; that during the period of
their (Melbourne and Regina) cohabitation, or in 1911 and 1912, respectively, the
late Melbourne Maxey acquired the parcels of land described under Par. 4 of the
com;plaint as evidenced by the documents of sale marked as Exhibits 4-a and 5-1
(same as Exhibits Facts), Melbourne Maxey, through his attorney-in-fact Julia
Pamatluan Maxey, sold in favor of the defendants-spouses in 1953 the parcels of
land under litigation which fact of sale was not controverted by the perties (Par. 1,
/stipulation of Facts); that since thereof, the defendants-spouses have taken
immediate possession thereof continuously up to the present.
Plaintiffs instituted the present case on January 26, 1962, before the Court of First
Instance of Davao, praying for the annulment of the documents of sale covering the
subject parcels of land and to recover possession thereof with damages from the
herein defendants-spouses, alleging, among others, that the aforesaid realties were
common properties of their parents, having been acquired during their lifetime and
through their joint effort and capital; and that the sales of the of the said lands in
favor of the defendants-spouses in 1953, after the death of their mother, Regina
Morales, was executed by their father, Melbourne Maxey, without their knowledge
and consent; and that they came to know of the above mentioned sales only in 1961.

On the other hand, defendants-spouses deny the material allegations of the


complaint and assert by way of affirmative defenses that they are the true and lawful
owners and possessors of the properties 'm question having purchased the same in
good faith and for value from Melbourne Maxey during his lifetime in 1953, based
upon the reasonable belief that the latter is the me and exclusive owner of the said
parcels of land and that since then, they have been in possession thereof openly,
exclusively and continuously in concept of owners. Defendants - spouses further
counter for damages and attorney's fees and in the alternative, for the value of the
improvements they have introduced in the premises.
Melbourne Maxey and Regina Morales started living together in 1903. Their children claim that their
parents were united in 1903 in a marriage performed "in the military fashion". Both the trial court and
the appellate court rejected this claim of a "military fashion" marriage.
The couple had several children. John Carlos was born in 1903, followed by Lucille, Margaret,
Florence, Fred, and George. Except for the youngest son, all the children were born before the
disputed properties were acquired. The father, Melbourne Maxey, was a member of the 1899
American occupation forces who afterwards held high positions in the provincial government and in
the Philippine public schools system.
As earlier mentioned in the cited statement of facts, the disputed properties were acquired in 1911
and 1912 before the 1919 church marriage. Regina Morales Maxey died in 1919 sometime after the
church wedding. The husband remarried and in 1953, his second wife Julia Pamatluan Maxey, using
a power of attorney, sold the properties to the respondent spouses, Mr. and Mrs. Beato C. Macayra.
The trial court applied Article 144 of the Civil Code which provides:
When a man and a woman live together as husband and wife, but they are not
married, or their marriage is void from the beginning, the property acquired by either
or both of them through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be
governed by the rules on co-ownership.
The court stated that "when a man and a woman lived together as husband and wife, justice
demands that the woman should be entitled to the share of the property. Certainly she cannot be
considered mere adornment or only for man's comfort and passion." The dispositive portion of the
decision reads:
Evidence, testimonial and document considered the Court hereby rendered judgment
in favor of the plaintiffs and against defendant declaring that:
1. Declaring the abovementioned sales as null and void;
2. Ordering defendant-spouses to return the said lands, and to pay for the value of
the use of the same at the rate of P1,000.00 a year from 1953 until delivered,
together with interests corresponding thereto at the legal rate;
3. Ordering defendant-spouses to pay to plaintiff actual damages in the sum of
P500.00 and attorney fees in the sum of P3,000.00.
Defendants counterclaim is hereby ordered dismissed.

The Court of Appeals, however, found the parcels of, land to be exclusive properties of the late
Melbourne Maxey. It set aside the decision of the trial court, decease valid the deeds of sale, and
ruled that the appellants are the absolute owners of the properties in question.
The appellate decision sustained the following arguments of the respondent spouses:
Plaintiffs' evidence is completely devoid of any showing that these properties in
question were acquired through the joint efforts of Melbourne Maxey and Regina
Morales. Indeed, if at all, plaintiffs' evidence tend to establish the fact that Melbourne
Maxey by virtue of his positions as Deputy Governor of Zamboanga (p. 36, t.s.n. de
la Victoria) School Supervisor in the East Coast of Davao (p. 36, t.s.n., Id.) was more
than in a position to purchase these properties by his own efforts, his own earnings
and without the help of Regina Morales. On the other hand, we have the declaration
of Juana A. Morales, a widow of 68 years of age when she testified, the sister-in-law
of Regina Morales Juana A. Morales confirmed the fact that Melbourne Maxey
held the positions of teacher, provincial treasurer, deputy governor, district supervisor
and lastly superintendent of schools, respectively (p. 203, t.s.n., de la Victoria). But
more important is her declaration that her sister-in-law Regina Morales had no
property of her own whence she could have derived any income nor was Regina
gainfully employed. (pp. 203-204, t.s.n., Id.) It must be remembered that the showing
must be CLEAR that Regina Morales contributed to the acquisition of these
properties. Here the evidence is not only NOT CLEAR, indeed, there is no evidence
at all that Regina Morales contributed to the acquisition of the properties in question.
In the case of Aznar, et al vs. Garcia, et al, supra, the Supreme Court had before it
the common-law wife's own testimony claiming that the properties in controversy
were the product of their joint industry. Her assertions however, were completely
brushed aside because aside from her claim that she took a hand in the
management and/or acquisition of the same, "there appears no evidence to prove
her alleged contribution or participation in the, acquisition of the properties involved
therein." (Id. p. 1069). In the case at bar, besides the absence of any evidence
showing that Regina Morales contributed by her efforts to the acquisition of these
properties in controversy, both plaintiffs and defendants' evidence show that it was
through Melbourne Maxey's efforts alone that these properties were acquired.
Indeed, that Regina Morales had no means at all to have contributed in any manner
to all its acquisition.
The petitioners raise the following issues in this petition:
1. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE LATE SPOUSES
MELBOURNE MAXEY AND REGINA MORALES WERE MARRIED ONLY IN 1919,
BECAUSE THE TRUTH IS THAT THEY MARRIED AS EARLY AS 1903.
2. THE COURT OF APPEALS, LIKEWISE, ERRED IN DECLARING THE
PROPERTIES IN QUESTION AS THE EXCLUSIVE PROPERTIES OF THE LATE
MELBOURNE MAXEY, TO THE EXCLUSION OF HIS WIFE REGINA MORALES,
BECAUSE THE MENTIONED PROPERTIES WERE ACTUALLY ACQUIRED BY
THE JOINT EFFORTS AND INDUSTRY OF BOTH OF THEM AND THEREFORE,
THESE PROPERTIES ARE COMMON PROPERTIES.
3. THE COURT OF APPEALS FINALLY ERRED IN UNREASONABLY GIVING THE
TERM "JOINT EFFORTS" NOT ONLY A VERY, VERY LIMITED MEANING BUT A
CONCEPT WHICH IS ENTIRELY ABSURD AND UNREALISTIC BECAUSE IN

CONSTRUING THE TERM, THE COURT OF APPEALS HAS REFUSED TO


ACCEPT AN INTERPRETATION WHICH IS MOST CONSISTENT WITH COMMON
PRACTICE AND CUSTOMS AS WELL AS IN ACCORD WITH THE BEST
TRADITION OF THE FILIPINO WAY OF LIFE.
The Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeals correctly rejected the argument that Act No.
3613, the Revised Marriage Law, recognized "military fashion" marriages as legal. Maxey and
Morales were legally married at a church wedding solemnized on February 16, 1919. Since Act No.
3613 was approved on December 4, 1929 and took effect six months thereafter, it could not have
applied to a relationship commenced in 1903 and legitimized in 1919 through a marriage performed
according to law. The marriage law in 1903 was General Order No. 70. There is no provision in
General Order No. 68 as amended nor in Act No. 3613 which would recognize as an exception to
the general rule on valid marriages, a so called "Military fashion" ceremony or arrangement.
The Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeals both ruled that Melbourne Maxey and Regina
Morales were married only in 1919. This is a finding of fact which we do not disturb at this stage of
the case. There is no showing that this factual finding is totally devoid of or unsupported by
evidentiary basis or that it is inconsistent with the evidence of record.
The other issue raised in this Petition questions the Court of Appeals' finding that the parcels of land
in question were exclusive properties of the late Melbourne Maxey.
The petitioners argue that even assuming that the marriage of Melbourne Maxey and Regina
Morales took place only in February 17, 1919, still the properties legally and rightfully belonged in
equal share to the two because the acquisition of the said properties was through their joint efforts
and industry. The second and third errors mentioned by the petitioners are grounded on the alleged
wrong interpretation given by the Court of Appeals to the phrase "joint efforts". The petitioners
suggest that their mother's efforts in performing her role as mother to them and as wife to their father
were more than sufficient contribution to constitute the parcels of land in question as common
properties acquired through the joint efforts to their parents.
The Court of Appeals, however, was of the opinion that Article 144 of the Civil Code is not applicable
to the properties in question citing the case of Aznar et al. v. Garcia (102 Phil. 1055) on nonretroactivity of codal provisions where vested rights may be prejudiced or impaired. And, assuming
that Article 144 of the Civil Code is applicable, the Court of Appeals held that the disputed properties
were exclusively those of the petitioner's father because these were not acquired through the joint
efforts of their parents. This conclusion stems from the interpretation given by the Court of Appeals
to the phrase "joint efforts" to mean "monetary contribution". According to the Court
... This view with which this ponente personally wholeheartedly agrees for some time
now has been advocated by sympathizers of equal rights for women, notably in the
Commission on the Status of Women of the United Nations. In our very own country
there is strong advocacy for the passage of a presidential decree providing that "the
labors of a spouse in managing the affairs of the household shall be credited
with compensation." Unfortunately, until the happy day when such a proposal shall
have materialized into law, Courts are bound by existing statutes and jurisprudence,
which rigidly interpret the phrase "joint efforts" as monetary contributions of the man
and woman living together without benefit of marriage, and to date, the drudgery of a
woman's lifetime dedication to the management of the household
goes unremunerated, and has no monetary value. Thus, in the case of Aznar vs.
Garcia (supra) the Supreme Court held that the man and the woman have an equal
interest in the properties acquired during the union and each would be entitled to

participate therein if said properties were the product of their joint effort. In the same
case it was stated that aside` from the observation of the trial court that the appellee
was an illiterate woman, there appears no evidence to prove appellee's contribution
(in terms of pesos and centavos) or participation in the acquisition of the properties
involved; therefore, following the aforecited ruling of the Court, appellee's claim for
one-half (1/2) of the properties cannot be granted.
In so concluding, the respondent Court of Appeals accepted the private respondents' argument that
it was unlikely for the petitioners' mother to have materially contributed in the acquisition of the
questioned properties since she had no property of her own nor was she gainfully engaged in any
business or profession from which she could derive income unlike their father who held the positions
of teacher deputy governor, district supervisor, and superintendent of schools.
We are constrained to adopt a contrary view. Considerations of justice dictate the retroactive
application of Article 144 of the Civil Code to the case at bar. Commenting on Article 2252 of the
Civil Code which provides that changes made and new provisions and rules laid down by the Code
which may prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in accordance with the old legislation shall
have no retroactive effect, the Code Commission stated:
Laws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided. The question
of how far the new Civil Code should be made applicable to past acts and events is
attended with the utmost difficulty. It is easy enough to understand the abstract
principle that laws have no retroactive effect because vested or acquired rights
should be respected. But what are vested or acquired rights? The Commission did
not venture to formulate a definition of a vested or acquired right seeing that the
problem is extremely committed.
What constitutes a vested or acquired right well be determined by the courts as each
particular issue is submitted to them, by applying the transitional provisions set forth,
and in case of doubt, by observing Art. 9 governing the silence or obscurity of the
law. In this manner, the Commission is confident that the judiciary with its and high
sense of justice will be able to decide in what cases the old Civil Code would apply
and in what cases the new one should be binding This course has been preferred by
the Commission, which did not presume to be able to foresee and adequately
provide for each and every question that may arise. (Report of the Code
Commission, pp. 165-166).
Similarly, with respect to Article 2253 which provides inter alia that if a right should be declared for
the first tune in the Code, it shall be effective at once, even though the act or event which gives rise
thereto may have been done or may have occurred under the prior legislation, provided said new
right does not prejudice or impair any vested or acquired right, of the same origin, the Code
Commission commented:
... But the second sentence gives a retroactive effect to newly created rights provided
they do not prejudice or impair any vested or acquired right. The retroactive
character of the new right is the result of the exercise of the sovereign power of
legislation, when the lawmaking body is persuaded that the new right is called for by
considerations of justice and public policy. But such new right most not encroach
upon a vested right. (Report of the Code Commission, p. 167).
The requirement of non-impairment of vested rights is clear. It is the opinion of the Court of Appeals
that vested rights were prejudiced. We do not think so.

Prior to the effectivity of the present Civil Code on August 30, 1950, the formation of an informal civil
partnership between a man and wife not legally married and their corresponding right to an equal
share in properties acquired through their joint efforts and industry during cohabitation was
recognized through decisions of this Court. (Aznar et al. vs. Garcia, 102 Phil. 1055; Flores vs.
Rehabilitation Finance Corporation, 94 Phil. 451; Marata vs. Dionio, L-24449, December 31, 1925;
Lesaca v. Lesaca, 91 Phil. 135.)
With the enactment of the new Civil Code, Article 144 codified the law established through judicial
precedents but with the modification that the property governed by the rules on co-ownership may
be acquired by either or both of them through their work or industry. Even if it is only the man who
works, the property acquired during the man and wife relationship belongs through a fifty-fifty sharing
to the two of them.
This new article in the Civil Code recognizes that it would be unjust and abnormal if a woman who is
a wife in all aspects of the relationship except for the requirement of a valid marriage must abandon
her home and children, neglect her traditional household duties, and go out to earn a living or
engage in business before the rules on co-ownership would apply. This article is particularly relevant
in this case where the "common-law" relationship was legitimated through a valid marriage 34 years
before the properties were sold.
The provisions of the Civil Code are premised on the traditional and existing, the normal and
customary gender roles of Filipino men and women. No matter how large the income of a working
wife compared to that of her husband, the major, if not the full responsibility of running the household
remains with the woman. She is the administrator of the household. The fact that the two involved in
this case were not legally married at the time does not change the nature of their respective roles. It
is the woman who traditionally holds the family purse even if she does not contribute to filling that
purse with funds. As pointed out by Dean Irene R. Cortes of the University of the Philippines, "in the
Filipino family, the wife holds the purse, husbands hand over their pay checks and get an allowance
in return and the wife manages the affairs of the household. . . . And the famous statement attributed
to Governor General Leonard Wood is repeated: In the Philippines, the best man is the woman."
(Cortes, "Womens Rights Under the New Constitution". WOMAN AND THE LAW, U.P. Law Center,
p. 10.)
The "real contribution" to the acquisition of property mentioned in Yaptinchay vs. Torres (28 SCRA
489) must include not only the earnings of a woman from a profession, occupation, or business but
also her contribution to the family's material and spiritual goods through caring for the children,
administering the household, husbanding scarce resources, freeing her husband from household
tasks, and otherwise performing the traditional duties of a housewife.
Should Article 144 of the Civil Code be applied in this case? Our answer is "Yes" because there is
no showing that vested rights would be impaired or prejudiced through its application.
A vested right is defined by this Court as property which has become fixed and established, and is
no longer open to doubt or controversy; an immediately fixed right of present or future enjoyment as
distinguished from an expectant or contingent right (Benguet Consolidated Mining Co. vs. Pineda, 98
Phil. 711; Balbao vs. Farrales, 51 Phil. 498). This cannot be said of the "exclusive" right of
Melbourne Maxey over the properties in question when the present Civil Code became effective for
standing against it was the concurrent right of Regina Morales or her heirs to a share thereof. The
properties were sold in 1953 when the new Civil Code was already in full force and effect. Neither
can this be said of the rights of the private respondents as vendees insofar as one half of the
questioned properties are concerned as this was still open to controversy on account of the
legitimate claim of Regina Morales to a share under the applicable law.

The disputed properties were owned in common by Melbourne Maxey and the estate of his late wife,
Regina Morales, when they were sold. Technically speaking, the petitioners should return one-half of
the P1,300.00 purchase price of the land while the private respondents should pay some form of
rentals for their use of one-half of the properties. Equitable considerations, however, lead us to rule
out rentals on one hand and return of P650.00 on the other.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is hereby granted. The judgment of the Court of
Appeals is reversed and set aside insofar as one-half of the disputed properties are concerned. The
private respondents are ordered to return one-half of said properties to the heirs of Regina Morales.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Escolin, Relova and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.
Melencio-Herrera, J., took no part.
Plana, J., I reserve my vote.

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 122749. July 31, 1996]

ANTONIO A. S. VALDES, petitioner, vs. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,


BRANCH 102, QUEZON CITY, and CONSUELO M. GOMEZVALDES, respondents.
DECISION
VITUG, J.:

The petition for review bewails, purely on a question of law, an alleged error
committed by the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. Q-92-12539. Petitioner avers that
the court a quo has failed to apply the correct law that should govern the disposition of a
family dwelling in a situation where a marriage is declared void ab initio because of
psychological incapacity on the part of either or both of the parties to the contract.
The pertinent facts giving rise to this incident are, by and large, not in dispute.
Antonio Valdes and Consuelo Gomez were married on 05 January 1971. Begotten
during the marriage were five children. In a petition, dated 22 June 1992, Valdes sought
the declaration of nullity of the marriage pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code
(docketed Civil Case No. Q-92-12539, Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 102).
After hearing the parties following the joinder of issues, the trial court, [1] in its decision of
29 July 1994, granted the petition; viz:

"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:


"(1) The marriage of petitioner Antonio Valdes and respondent Consuelo GomezValdes is hereby declared null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code on the
ground of their mutual psychological incapacity to comply with their essential marital
obligations;
"(2) The three older children, Carlos Enrique III, Antonio Quintin and Angela Rosario
shall choose which parent they would want to stay with.
"Stella Eloisa and Joaquin Pedro shall be placed in the custody of their mother, herein
respondent Consuelo Gomez-Valdes.
"The petitioner and respondent shall have visitation rights over the children who are in
the custody of the other.

"(3) The petitioner and respondent are directed to start proceedings on the liquidation
of their common properties as defined by Article 147 of the Family Code, and to
comply with the provisions of Articles 50, 51 and 52 of the same code, within thirty
(30) days from notice of this decision.
"Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Mandaluyong, Metro
Manila, for proper recording in the registry of marriages."[2] (Italics ours)
Consuelo Gomez sought a clarification of that portion of the decision directing
compliance with Articles 50, 51 and 52 of the Family Code. She asserted that the Family
Code contained no provisions on the procedure for the liquidation of common property in
"unions without marriage." Parenthetically, during the hearing on the motion, the children
filed a joint affidavit expressing their desire to remain with their father, Antonio Valdes,
herein petitioner.
In an Order, dated 05 May 1995, the trial court made the following clarification:

"Consequently, considering that Article 147 of the Family Code explicitly provides
that the property acquired by both parties during their union, in the absence of proof to
the contrary, are presumed to have been obtained through the joint efforts of the
parties and will be owned by them in equal shares, plaintiff and defendant will
own their 'family home' and all their other properties for that matter in equal shares.
"In the liquidation and partition of the properties owned in common by the plaintiff and
defendant, the provisions on co-ownership found in the Civil Code shall apply."[3] (Italics
supplied)
In addressing specifically the issue regarding the disposition of the family dwelling,
the trial court said:

"Considering that this Court has already declared the marriage between petitioner and
respondent as null and void ab initio, pursuant to Art. 147, the property regime of
petitioner and respondent shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
"The provisions of Articles 102 and 129 of the Family Code finds no application since Article
102 refers to the procedure for the liquidation of the conjugal partnership property and Article
129 refers to the procedure for the liquidation of the absolute community of property."[4]
Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the order. The motion was denied on 30
October 1995.
In his recourse to this Court, petitioner submits that Articles 50, 51 and 52 of the
Family Code should be held controlling; he argues that:
"I

"Article 147 of the Family Code does not apply to cases where the parties are
psychological incapacitated.
"II

"Articles 50, 51 and 52 in relation to Articles 102 and 129 of the Family Code govern
the disposition of the family dwelling in cases where a marriage is declared
void ab initio, including a marriage declared void by reason of the psychological
incapacity of the spouses.
"III

"Assuming arguendo that Article 147 applies to marriages declared void ab initio on
the ground of the psychological incapacity of a spouse, the same may be read
consistently with Article 129.
"IV

"It is necessary to determine the parent with whom majority of the children wish to stay."[5]
The trial court correctly applied the law. In a void marriage, regardless of the cause
thereof, the property relations of the parties during the period of cohabitation is governed
by the provisions of Article 147 or Article 148, such as the case may be, of the Family
Code. Article 147 is a remake of Article 144 of the Civil Code as interpreted and so applied
in previous cases;[6] it provides:

"ART. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live
exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or
under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal
shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall
be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
"In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together
shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and
shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did
not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed to
have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former's efforts consisted in
the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.
"Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the
property acquired during cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of
the other, until after the termination of their cohabitation.

"When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the
party in bad faith in the co-ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common
children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of the common children or their
descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving descendants.
In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent party. In all
cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation."
This peculiar kind of co-ownership applies when a man and a woman, suffering no
legal impediment to marry each other, so exclusively live together as husband and wife
under a void marriage or without the benefit of marriage. The term "capacitated" in the
provision (in the first paragraph of the law) refers to the legal capacity of a party to contract
marriage, i.e., any "male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any
of the impediments mentioned in Articles 37 and 38"[7] of the Code.
Under this property regime, property acquired by both spouses through
their work and industry shall be governed by the rules on equal co-ownership. Any
property acquired during the union is prima facie presumed to have been obtained
through their joint efforts. A party who did not participate in the acquisition of the property
shall still be considered as having contributed thereto jointly if said party's "efforts
consisted in the care and maintenance of the family household."[8] Unlike the conjugal
partnership of gains, the fruits of the couple's separate property are not included in the
co-ownership.
Article 147 of the Family Code, in substance and to the above extent, has clarified
Article 144 of the Civil Code; in addition, the law now expressly provides that
(a) Neither party can dispose or encumber by act inter vivos his or her share in coownership property, without the consent of the other, during the period of cohabitation;
and
(b) In the case of a void marriage, any party in bad faith shall forfeit his or her share
in the co-ownership in favor of their common children; in default thereof or waiver by any
or all of the common children, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving
descendants, or still in default thereof, to the innocent party. The forfeiture shall take place
upon the termination of the cohabitation[9] or declaration of nullity of the marriage.[10]
When the common-law spouses suffer from a legal impediment to marry or when they
do not live exclusively with each other (as husband and wife ),only the property acquired
by both of them through their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry shall
be owned in common and in proportion to their respective contributions. Such
contributions and corresponding shares, however, are prima facie presumed to be equal.
The share of any party who is married to another shall accrue to the absolute community
or conjugal partnership, as the case may be, if so existing under a valid marriage. If the
party who has acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her share shall
be forfeited in the manner already heretofore expressed.[11]
In deciding to take further cognizance of the issue on the settlement of the parties'
common property, the trial court acted neither imprudently nor precipitately; a court which
has jurisdiction to declare the marriage a nullity must be deemed likewise clothed with

authority to resolve incidental and consequential matters. Nor did it commit a reversible
error in ruling that petitioner and private respondent own the "family home" and all their
common property in equal shares, as well as in concluding that, in the liquidation and
partition of the property owned in common by them, the provisions on co-ownership under
the Civil Code, not Articles 50, 51 and 52, in relation to Articles 102 and 129, [12] of the
Family Code, should aptly prevail. The rules set up to govern the liquidation of either the
absolute community or the conjugal partnership of gains, the property regimes recognized
for valid and voidable marriages (in the latter case until the contract is annulled ),are
irrelevant to the liquidation of the co-ownership that exists between common-law spouses.
The first paragraph of Article 50 of the Family Code, applying paragraphs (2 ),(3 ),(4) and
(5) of Article 43,[13] relates only, by its explicit terms, to voidable marriages and,
exceptionally, to void marriages under Article 40[14] of the Code, i.e., the declaration of
nullity of a subsequent marriage contracted by a spouse of a prior void marriage before
the latter is judicially declared void. The latter is a special rule that somehow recognizes
the philosophy and an old doctrine that void marriages are inexistent from the very
beginning and no judicial decree is necessary to establish their nullity. In now requiring
for purposes of remarriage, the declaration of nullity by final judgment of the previously
contracted void marriage, the present law aims to do away with any continuing uncertainty
on the status of the second marriage. It is not then illogical for the provisions of Article 43,
in relation to Articles 41[15] and 42,[16] of the Family Code, on the effects of the termination
of a subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of a previous marriage to be
made applicablepro hac vice. In all other cases, it is not to be assumed that the law has
also meant to have coincident property relations, on the one hand, between spouses in
valid and voidable marriages (before annulment) and, on the other, between commonlaw spouses or spouses of void marriages, leaving to ordain, in the latter case, the
ordinary rules on co-ownership subject to the provision of Article 147 and Article 148 of
the Family Code. It must be stressed, nevertheless, even as it may merely state the
obvious, that the provisions of the Family Code on the "family home," i.e., the provisions
found in Title V, Chapter 2, of the Family Code, remain in force and effect regardless of
the property regime of the spouses.
WHEREFORE, the questioned orders, dated 05 May 1995 and 30 October 1995, of
the trial court are AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Padilla, Kapunan, and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.
Bellosillo, J., on leave.

Art. 5.Any male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments
mentioned in Articles 37 and 38, may contract marriage.
[7]

Art. 37.Marriages between the following are incestuous and void from the beginning, whether the
relationship between the parties be legitimate or illegitimate:
(1) Between ascendants and descendants of any degree; and

(2) Between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half-blood.


Art. 38. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning for reasons of public policy:
(1) Between collateral blood relatives; whether legitimate or illegitimate, up to the fourth civil degree;
(2) Between step-parents and stepchildren;
(3) Between parents-in-law and children-in-law;
(4) Between the adopting parent and the adopted child;
(5) Between the surviving spouse of the adopting parent and the adopted child;
(6) Between the surviving spouse of the adopted child and the adopter;
(7) Between an adopted child and a legitimate child of the adopter;
(8) Between adopted children of the same adopter; and
(9) Between parties where one, with the intention to marry the other, killed that other person's spouse or
his or her own spouse.
Art. 50. The effects provided for in paragraphs (2 ),(3 ),(4) and (5) of Article 43 and in Article 44 shall also
apply in proper cases to marriages which are declared void ab initio or annulled by final judgment under
Articles 40 and 45.
[12]

The final judgment in such case shall provide for the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties
of the spouses, the custody and support of the common children, and the delivery of their presumptive
legitimes, unless such matters had been adjudicated in previous judicial proceedings.
All creditors of the spouses as well as of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership shall be notified
of the proceedings for liquidation.
In the partition, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated, shall be adjudicated in accordance
with the provisions of Articles 102 and 129.
Art. 51. In said partition, the value of the presumptive legitimes of all common children, computed as of the
date of the final judgment of the trial court, shall be delivered in cash, property or sound securities, unless
the parties, by mutual agreement judicially approved, had already provided for such matters.
The children or their guardian, or the trustee of their property, may ask for the enforcement of the judgment.
The delivery of the presumptive legitimes herein prescribed shall in no way prejudice the ultimate
successional rights of the children accruing upon the death of either or both of the parents; but the value of
the properties already received under the decree of annulment or absolute nullity shall be considered as
advances on their legitime.
Art. 52. The judgment of annulment or of absolute nullity of the marriage, the partition and distribution of
the properties of the spouses, and the delivery of the children's presumptive legitimes shall be recorded in
the appropriate civil registry and registries of property; otherwise, the same shall not affect third persons.
Art. 102. Upon dissolution of the absolute community regime, the following procedure shall apply:
(1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing separately all the properties of the absolute community and the
exclusive properties of each spouse.
(2) The debts and obligations of the absolute community shall be paid out of its assets. In case of
insufficiency of said assets, the spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate
properties in accordance with the provisions of the second paragraph of Article 94.
(3) Whatever remains of the exclusive properties of the spouses shall thereafter be delivered to each of
them.

(4) The net remainder of the properties of the absolute community shall constitute its net assets, which shall
be divided equally between husband and wife, unless a different proportion or division was agreed upon in
the marriage settlements, or unless there has been a voluntary waiver of such share as provided in this
Code. For purposes of computing the net profits subject to forfeiture in accordance with Articles 43, No. (2)
and 63, No. (2 ), the said profits shall be the increase in value between the market value of the community
property at the time of the celebration of the marriage and the market value at the time of its dissolution.
(5) The presumptive legitimes of the common children shall be delivered upon partition, in accordance with
Article 51.
(6) Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, in the partition of the properties, the conjugal dwelling and
the lot on which it is situated shall be adjudicated to the spouse with whom the majority of the common
children choose to remain. Children below the age of seven years are deemed to have chosen the mother,
unless the court has decided otherwise. In case there is no such majority, the court shall decide, taking into
consideration the best interests of said children.
Art. 129. Upon the dissolution of the conjugal partnership regime, the following procedure shall apply;
(1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing separately all the properties of the conjugal partnership and the
exclusive properties of each spouse.
(2) Amounts advanced by the conjugal partnership in payment of personal debts and obligations of either
spouse shall be credited to the conjugal partnership as an asset thereof.
(3) Each spouse shall be reimbursed for the use of his or her exclusive funds in the acquisition of property
or for the value of his or her exclusive property, the ownership of which has been vested by law in the
conjugal partnership.
(4) The debts and obligations of the conjugal partnership shall be paid out of the conjugal assets. In case
of insufficiency of said assets, the spouses shall be solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their
separate properties, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (2) of Article 121.
(5) Whatever remains of the exclusive properties of the spouses shall thereafter be delivered to each of
them.
(6) Unless the owner has been indemnified from whatever source, the loss or deterioration of movables
used for the benefit of the family, belonging to either spouse, even due to fortuitous event, shall be paid to
said spouse from the conjugal funds, if any.
(7) The net remainder of the conjugal partnership properties shall constitute the profits, which shall be
divided equally between husband and wife, unless a different proportion or division was agreed upon in the
marriage settlements or unless there has been a voluntary waiver or forfeiture of such share as provided in
this Code.
(8) The presumptive legitimes of the common children shall be delivered upon partition in accordance with
Article 51.
(9) In the partition of the properties, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated shall, unless
otherwise agreed upon by the parties, be adjudicated to the spouse with whom the majority of the common
children choose to remain. Children below the age of seven years are deemed to have chosen the mother,
unless the court has decided otherwise. In case there is no such majority, the court shall decide, taking into
consideration the best interests of said children.
Art. 43. The termination of the subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding Article shall produce the
following effects:
[13]

(1) The children of the subsequent marriage conceived prior to its termination shall be considered
legitimate, and their custody and support in case of dispute shall be decided by the court in a proper
proceeding;

(2) The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may be, shall be dissolved
and liquidated, but if either spouse contracted said marriage in bad faith, his or her share of the net profits
of the community property or conjugal partnership property shall be forfeited in favor of the common children
or, if there are none, the children of the guilty spouse by a previous marriage or, in default of children, the
innocent spouse;
(3) Donations by reason or marriage shall remain valid, except that if the donee contracted the marriage in
bad faith, such donations made to said donee are revoked by operation of law;
(4) The innocent spouse may revoke the designation of the other spouse who acted in bad faith as a
beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if such designation be stipulated as irrevocable; and
(5) The spouse who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith shall be disqualified to inherit from the
innocent spouse by testate and intestate succession.
Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the
basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
[14]

Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null
and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for
four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was
already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth
in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.
[15]

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse present
must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of
the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse.
Art. 42. The subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding Article shall be automatically terminated
by the recording of the affidavit of reappearance of the absent spouse, unless there is a judgment annulling
the previous marriage or declaring it void ab initio.
[16]

A sworn statement of the fact and circumstances of reappearance shall be recorded in the civil registry of
the residence of the parties to the subsequent marriage at the instance of any interested person, with due
notice to the spouses of the subsequent marriage and without prejudice to the fact of reappearance being
judicially determined in case such fact is disputed.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 137650

April 12, 2000

GUILLERMA TUMLOS, petitioner,


vs.
SPOUSES MARIO FERNANDEZ and LOURDES FERNANDEZ, respondents.

PANGANIBAN, J.:
Under Article 148 of the Family Code, a man and a woman who are not legally capacitated to marry
each other, but who nonetheless live together conjugally, may be deemed co-owners of a property
acquired during the cohabitation only upon proof that each made an actual contribution to its
acquisition. Hence, mere cohabitation without proof of contribution will not result in a co-ownership.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the November 19,
1998 Decision of the Court of Appeals 1 (CA), which reversed the October 7, 1997 Order of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC). 2The dispositive part of the CA Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED, and the questioned orders of the court a
quo dated October 7, 1997 and November 11, 1997, are hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The judgment of the court a quo dated June 5, 1997 is hereby REINSTATED. Costs
against the private respondents.3
The assailed Order of the RTC disposed as follows:
Wherefore, the decision of this Court rendered on June 5, 1997 affirming in toto the appealed
judgment of the [MTC] is hereby reconsidered and a new one is entered reversing said
decision of the [MTC] and dismissing the complaint in the above-entitled case. 4
Petitioner also assails the February 14, 1999 CA Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration.
The Facts
The Court of Appeals narrates the facts as follows:
[Herein respondents] were the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 6756, an action for ejectment filed
before Branch 82 of the MTC of Valenzuela, Metro Manila against [herein Petitioner]
Guillerma Tumlos, Toto Tumlos, and Gina Tumlos. In their complaint dated July 5, 1996, the
said spouses alleged that they are the absolute owners of an apartment building located at
ARTE SUBDIVISION III, Lawang Bato, Valenzuela, Metro Manila; that through tolerance
they had allowed the defendants-private respondents to occupy the apartment building for
the last seven (7) years, since 1989, without the payment of any rent; that it was agreed

upon that after a few months, defendant Guillerma Tumlos will pay P1,600.00 a month while
the other defendants promised to pay P1,000.00 a month, both as rental, which agreement
was not complied with by the said defendants; that they have demanded several times [that]
the defendants . . . vacate the premises, as they are in need of the property for the
construction of a new building; and that they have also demanded payment of P84,000.00
from Toto and Gina Tumlos representing rentals for seven (7) years and payment of
P143,600.00 from Guillerma Tumlos as unpaid rentals for seven (7) years, but the said
demands went unheeded. They then prayed that the defendants be ordered to vacate the
property in question and to pay the stated unpaid rentals, as well as to jointly pay P30,000.00
in attorneys fees.
[Petitioner] Guillerma Tumlos was the only one who filed an answer to the complaint. She
averred therein that the Fernandez spouses had no cause of action against her, since she is
a co-owner of the subject premises as evidenced by a Contract to Sell wherein it was stated
that she is a co-vendee of the property in question together with [Respondent] Mario
Fernandez. She then asked for the dismissal of the complaint.
After an unfruitful preliminary conference on November 15, 1996, the MTC required the
parties to submit their affidavits and other evidence on the factual issues defined in their
pleadings within ten (10) days from receipt of such order, pursuant to section 9 of the
Revised Rule on Summary Procedure. [Petitioner] Guillerma Tumlos submitted her
affidavit/position paper on November 29, 1996, while the [respondents] filed their position
paper on December 5, 1996, attaching thereto their marriage contract, letters of demand to
the defendants, and the Contract to Sell over the disputed property. The MTC thereafter
promulgated its judgment on January 22, 1997[.]
xxx

xxx

xxx

Upon appeal to the [RTC], [petitioner and the two other] defendants alleged in their
memorandum on appeal that [Respondent] Mario Fernandez and [Petitioner] Guillerma had
an amorous relationship, and that they acquired the property in question as their "love nest."
It was further alleged that they lived together in the said apartment building with their two (2)
children for around ten (10) years, and that Guillerma administered the property by collecting
rentals from the lessees of the other apartments, until she discovered that [Respondent
Mario] deceived her as to the annulment of his marriage. It was also during the early part of
1996 when [Respondent Mario] accused her of being unfaithful and demonstrated his
baseless [jealousy].
In the same memorandum, [petitioner and the two other] defendants further averred that it
was only recently that Toto Tumlos was temporarily accommodated in one of the rooms of
the subject premises while Gina Tumlos acted as a nanny for the children. In short, their
presence there [was] only transient and they [were] not tenants of the Fernandez spouses.
On June 5, 1997, the [RTC] rendered a decision affirming in toto the judgment of the MTC.
The [petitioner and the two other defendants] seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration
on July 3, 1997, alleging that the decision of affirmance by the RTC was constitutionally
flawed for failing to point out distinctly and clearly the findings of facts and law on which it
was based vis--vis the statements of issues they have raised in their memorandum on
appeal. They also averred that the Contract to Sell presented by the plaintiffs which named
the buyer as "Mario P. Fernandez, of legal age, married to Lourdes P. Fernandez," should
not be given credence as it was falsified to appear that way. According to them, the Contract

to Sell originally named "Guillerma Fernandez" as the spouse of [Respondent Mario]. As


found by the [RTC] in its judgment, a new Contract to Sell was issued by the sellers naming
the [respondents] as the buyers after the latter presented their marriage contract and
requested a change in the name of the vendee-wife. Such facts necessitate the conclusion
that Guillerma was really a co-owner thereof, and that the [respondents] manipulated the
evidence in order to deprive her of her rights to enjoy and use the property as recognized by
law.
xxx

xxx

xxx

The [RTC], in determining the question of ownership in order to resolve the issue of
possession, ruled therein that the Contract to Sell submitted by the Fernandez spouses
appeared not to be authentic, as there was an alteration in the name of the wife of
[Respondent] Mario Fernandez. Hence, the contract presented by the [respondents] cannot
be given any weight. The court further ruled that Guillerma and [Respondent Mario] acquired
the property during their cohabitation as husband and wife, although without the benefit of
marriage. From such findings, the court concluded that [Petitioner] Guillerma Tumlos was a
co-owner of the subject property and could not be ejected therefrom.
The [respondents] then filed a motion for reconsideration of the order of reversal, but the
same was denied by the [RTC]. 5
As earlier stated, the CA reversed the RTC. Hence, this Petition filed by Guillerma Tumlos only. 6
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The CA rejected petitioner's claim that she and Respondent Mario Fernandez were co-owners of the
disputed property. The CA ruled:
From the inception of the instant case, the only defense presented by private respondent Guillerma
is her right as a co-owner of the subject property[.]
xxx

xxx

xxx

This claim of co-ownership was not satisfactorily proven by Guillerma, as correctly held by the trial
court. No other evidence was presented to validate such claim, except for the said affidavit/position
paper. As previously stated, it was only on appeal that Guillerma alleged that she cohabited with the
petitioner-husband without the benefit of marriage, and that she bore him two (2) children. Attached
to her memorandum on appeal are the birth certificates of the said children. Such contentions and
documents should not have been considered by the . . . (RTC), as they were not presented in her
affidavit/position paper before the trial court (MTC).
xxx

xxx

xxx

However, even if the said allegations and documents could be considered, the claim of co-ownership
must still fail. As [herein Respondent] Mario Fernandez is validly married to [Respondent] Lourdes
Fernandez (as per Marriage Contract dated April 27, 1968, p. 45, Original Record), Guillerma and
Mario are not capacitated to marry each other. Thus, the property relations governing their supposed
cohabitation is that found in Article 148 of Executive Order No. 209, as amended, otherwise known
as the Family Code of the Philippines[.]

xxx

xxx

xxx

It is clear that actual contribution is required by this provision, in contrast to Article 147 of the Family
Code which states that efforts in the care and maintenance of the family and household are
regarded as contributions to the acquisition of common property by one who has no salary or income
or work or industry (Agapay v. Palang, 276 SCRA 340). The care given by one party [to] the home,
children, and household, or spiritual or moral inspiration provided to the other, is not included in
Article 148 (Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines by Alicia V. Sempio-Diy, 1988 ed., p.
209). Hence, if actual contribution of the party is not proved, there will be no co-ownership and no
presumption of equal shares (Agapay, supra at p. 348, citing Commentaries and Jurisprudence on
the Civil Code of the Philippines Volume I by Arturo M. Tolentino, 1990 ed., p. 500).
In the instant case, no proof of actual contribution by Guillerma Tumlos in the purchase of the
subject property was presented. Her only evidence was her being named in the Contract to Sell as
the wife of [Respondent] Mario Fernandez. Since she failed to prove that she contributed money to
the purchase price of the subject apartment building, We find no basis to justify her co-ownership
with [Respondent Mario]. The said property is thus presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership
property of Mario and Lourdes Fernandez, it being acquired during the subsistence of their marriage
and there being no other proof to the contrary (please see Article 116 of the Family Code).
The court a quo (RTC) also found that [Respondent Mario] has two (2) children with Guillerma who
are in her custody, and that to eject them from the apartment building would be to run counter with
the obligation of the former to give support to his minor illegitimate children, which indispensably
includes dwelling. As previously discussed, such finding has no leg to stand on, it being based on
evidence presented for the first time on appeal.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Even assuming arguendo that the said evidence was validly presented, the RTC failed to consider
that the need for support cannot be presumed. Article 203 of the Family Code expressly provides
that the obligation to give support shall be demandable from the time the person who has a right to
receive the same needs it for maintenance, but it shall not be paid except from the date of judicial or
extrajudicial demand. . . .
1w phi 1.nt

In contrast to the clear pronouncement of the Supreme Court, the RTC instead presumed that
Guillerma and her children needed support from [Respondent Mario]. Worse, it relied on evidence
not properly presented before the trial court (MTC).
With regard to the other [defendants], Gina and Toto Tumlos, a close perusal of the records shows
that they did not file any responsive pleading. Hence, judgment may be rendered against them as
may be warranted by the facts alleged in the complaint and limited to what is prayed for therein, as
provided for in Section 6 of the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure. There was no basis for the
public respondent to dismiss the complaint against them. 7 (emphasis in the original)
The Issues
In her Memorandum, petitioner submits the following issues for the consideration of the Court:
I. The Court of Appeals gravely erred and abused its discretion in not outrightly dismissing
the petition for review filed by respondents.

II. The Court of Appeals erred in finding that petitioner is not the co-owner of the property in
litis.
III. Corollary thereto, the Court of Appeals erred in applying Art. 148 of the Family Code in
the case at bar.
IV. The Court of Appeals erred in disregarding the substantive right of support vis--vis the
remedy of ejectment resorted to by respondents. 8
In resolving this case, we shall answer two questions: (a) Is the petitioner a co-owner of the
property? (b) Can the claim for support bar this ejectment suit? We shall also discuss these
preliminary matters: (a) whether the CA was biased in favor of respondents and (b) whether the
MTC had jurisdiction over the ejectment suit.
The Courts Ruling
The Petition has no merit.
Preliminary Matters
Petitioner submits that the CA exhibited partiality in favor of herein respondents. This bias, she
argues, is manifest in the following:
1. The CA considered the respondents Petition for Review 9 despite their failure to attach
several pleadings as well as the explanation for the proof of service, despite the clear
mandate of Section 11 10 of Rule 13 of the Revised Rules of Court and despite the ruling
in Solar Team Entertainment, Inc. v. Ricafort. 11
2. It allowed respondents to submit the pleadings that were not attached.
3. It considered respondents' Reply dated May 20, 1998, which had allegedly been filed out
of time.
4. It declared that the case was submitted for decision without first determining whether to
give due course to the Petition, pursuant to Section 6, Rule 42 of the Rules of Court. 12
The CA, for its part, succinctly dismissed these arguments in this wise:
It is too late in the day now to question the alleged procedural error after we have rendered
the decision. More importantly, when the private respondent filed their comment to the
petition on April 26, 1998, they failed to question such alleged procedural error. Neither have
they questioned all the resolutions issued by the Court after their filing of such comment.
They should, therefore, be now considered in estoppel to question the same. 13
We agree with the appellate court. Petitioner never raised these matters before the CA. She cannot
be allowed now to challenge its Decision on grounds of alleged technicalities being belatedly raised
as an afterthought. In this light, she cannot invoke Solar 14 because she never raised this issue
before the CA.
More important, we find it quite sanctimonious indeed on petitioners part to rely, on the one hand,
on these procedural technicalities to overcome the appealed Decision and, on the other hand, assert

that the RTC may consider the new evidence she presented for the first time on appeal. Such
posturing only betrays the futility of petitioner's assertion, if not its absence of merit.
One other preliminary matter. Petitioner implies that the court of origin, the Municipal Trial Court
(MTC), did not have jurisdiction over the "nature of the case," alleging that the real question involved
is one of ownership. Since the issue of possession cannot be settled without passing upon that of
ownership, she maintains that the MTC should have dismissed the case.
This contention is erroneous. The issue of ownership may be passed upon by the MTC to settle the
issue of possession. 15 Such disposition, however, is not final insofar as the issue of ownership is
concerned, 16 which may be the subject of another proceeding brought specifically to settle that
question.
Having resolved these preliminary matters, we now move on to petitioners substantive contentions.
First Issue:
Petitioner as Co-owner
Petitioners central theory and main defense against respondents' action for ejectment is her claim of
co-ownership over the property with Respondent Mario Fernandez. At the first instance before the
MTC, she presented a Contract to Sell indicating that she was his spouse. The MTC found this
document insufficient to support her claim. The RTC, however, after considering her allegation that
she had been cohabiting with Mario Fernandez as shown by evidence presented before it, 17 ruled in
her favor.
On the other hand, the CA held that the pieces of evidence adduced before the RTC could no longer
be considered because they had not been submitted before the MTC. Hence, the appellate court
concluded that "[t]he claim of co-ownership was not satisfactorily proven . . ." 18
We agree with the petitioner that the RTC did not err in considering the evidence presented before it.
Nonetheless, we reject her claim that she was a co-owner of the disputed property.
Evidence Presented on
Appeal Before the RTC
In ruling that the RTC erred in considering on appeal the evidence presented by petitioner, the CA
relied on the doctrine that issues not raised during trial could not be considered for the first time
during appeal. 19
We disagree. In the first place, there were no new matters or issues belatedly raised during the
appeal before the RTC. The defense invoked by petitioner at the very start was that she was a coowner. To support her claim, she presented a Contract to Sell dated November 14, 1986, which
stated that Mario Fernandez was legally married to her. The allegation that she was cohabiting with
him was a mere elaboration of her initial theory.
In the second place, procedural rules are generally premised on considerations of fair play.
Respondents never objected when the assailed evidence was presented before the RTC. Thus, they
cannot claim unfair surprise or prejudice.

Petitioner Not a Co-Owner Under


Article 144 of the Civil Code
Even considering the evidence presented before the MTC and the RTC, we cannot accept
petitioner's submission that she is a co-owner of the disputed property pursuant to Article 144 of the
Civil Code. 20 As correctly held by the CA, the applicable law is not Article 144 of the Civil Code, but
Article 148 of the Family Code which provides:
Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article,21 only the properties
acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or
industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In
the absence of proof to the contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are
presumed to be equal. The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money
and evidences of credit.
If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership shall
accrue to the absolute community or conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If
the party who acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her share shall be
forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of the preceding Article.
The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties are in bad faith.
Art. 144 of the Civil Code applies only to a relationship between a man and a woman who are not
incapacitated to marry each other, 22 or to one in which the marriage of the parties is void 23 from the
beginning. 24 It does not apply to a cohabitation that amounts to adultery or concubinage, for it would
be absurd to create a co-ownership where there exists a prior conjugal partnership or absolute
community between the man and his lawful wife. 25
Based on evidence presented by respondents, as well as those submitted by petitioner herself
before the RTC, it is clear that Mario Fernandez was incapacitated to marry petitioner because he
was legally married to Lourdes Fernandez. It is also clear that, as readily admitted by petitioner, she
cohabited with Mario in a state of concubinage. Therefore, Article 144 of the Civil Code is
inapplicable.
As stated above, the relationship between petitioner and Respondent Mario Fernandez is governed
by Article 148 of the Family Code. Justice Alicia V. Sempio-Diy points out 26 that "[t]he Family Code
has filled the hiatus in Article 144 of the Civil Code by expressly regulating in its Article 148 the
property relations of couples living in a state of adultery or concubinage.
Hence, petitioners argument that the Family Code is inapplicable because the cohabitation and
the acquisition of the property occurred before its effectivity deserves scant consideration. Suffice
it to say that the law itself states that it can be applied retroactively if it does not prejudice vested or
acquired rights. 27 In this case, petitioner failed to show any vested right over the property in
question. Moreover, to resolve similar issues, we have applied Article 148 of the Family Code
retroactively. 28
No Evidence of Actual Joint
Contribution
Another consideration militates against petitioners claim that she is a co-owner of the property.
In Agapay, 29 the Court ruled:

Under Article 148, only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual
joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned by them in common in
proportion to their respective contributions. It must be stressed that the actual contribution is
required by this provision, in contrast to Article 147 which states that efforts in the care and
maintenance of the family and household, are regarded as contributions to the acquisition of
common property by one who has no salary or income or work or industry. If the actual
contribution of the party is not proved, there will be no co-ownership and no presumption of
equal shares. (emphasis ours)
In this case, petitioner fails to present any evidence that she had made an actual contribution to
purchase the subject property. Indeed, she anchors her claim of co-ownership merely on her
cohabitation with Respondent Mario Fernandez.
Likewise, her claim of having administered the property during the cohabitation is unsubstantiated. In
any event, this fact by itself does not justify her claim, for nothing in Article 148 of the Family Code
provides that the administration of the property amounts to a contribution in its acquisition.
Clearly, there is no basis for petitioners claim of co-ownership. The property in question belongs to
the conjugal partnership of respondents. Hence, the MTC and the CA were correct in ordering the
ejectment of petitioner from the premises.
Second Issue:
Support versus Ejectment
Petitioner contends that since Respondent Mario Fernandez failed to repudiate her claim regarding
the filiation of his alleged sons, Mark Gil and Michael Fernandez, his silence on the matter amounts
to an admission. Arguing that Mario is liable for support, she advances the theory that the childrens
right to support, which necessarily includes shelter, prevails over the right of respondents to eject
her.
We disagree. It should be emphasized that this is an ejectment suit whereby respondents seek to
exercise their possessory right over their property. It is summary in character and deals solely with
the issue of possession of the property in dispute. Here, it has been shown that they have a better
right to possess it than does the petitioner, whose right to possess is based merely on their
tolerance.
1wphi1.nt

Moreover, Respondent Mario Fernandez' alleged failure to repudiate petitioner's claim of filiation is
not relevant to the present case. Indeed, it would be highly improper for us to rule on such issue.
Besides, it was not properly taken up below. 30 In any event, Article 298 31 of the Civil Code requires
that there should be an extrajudicial demand. 32 None was made here. The CA was correct when it
said:
1wphi 1

Even assuming arguendo that the said evidence was validly presented, the RTC failed to
consider that the need for support cannot be presumed. Article [298] of the [New Civil Code]
expressly provides that the obligation to give support shall be demandable from the time the
person who has a right to receive the same need it for maintenance, but it shall not be paid
except from the date of judicial and extrajudicial demand. 33
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the appealed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
Melo, Purisima and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., abroad-on official business.

Footnotes
Fifth Division. The Decision was written by J. Delilah Vidallon-Magtolis with the concurrence
of JJ Artemon D. Luna (chairman) and Rodrigo V. Cosico (member).
1

Issued by Judge Floro P. Alejo. This Order effectively reversed the earlier Decision of
Judge Alejo affirming in toto the MTC's judgment.
2

The case was deemed submitted for resolution on December 24, 1999, upon receipt by this
Court of petitioner's Memorandum, which was signed by Atty. Dante A. Diaz. Respondents'
Memorandum, which was signed by Atty. Rodolfo P. Liwanag, was received on November
24, 1999.
6

Sec. 11. Priorities in modes of service and filing. Whenever practicable, the service and
filing of pleadings and other papers shall be done personally. Except with respect to papers
emanating from the court, a resort to other modes must be accompanied by a written
explanation why the service or filing was not done personally. A violation of this Rule may be
cause to consider the paper as not filed.
10

Sec. 6. Due course. If upon the filing of the comment or such other pleadings as the
court may allow or require, or after the expiration of the period for the filing thereof without
such comment or pleading having been submitted, the Court of Appeals finds prima
facie that the lower court has committed an error of fact or law that will warrant a reversal of
modification of the appealed decision, it may accordingly give due course to the petition.
12

Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal
Circuit Trial Courts in Civil Cases.
15

xxx

xxx

xxx

2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over cases of forcible entry and unlawful


detainer: Provided, That when, in such cases, the defendant raises the question of
ownership in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved
without deciding the issue of ownership, the issue of ownership shall be resolved
only to determine the issue of possession; (Sec. 33, B.P. 129).
Sec. 16. Resolving defense of ownership. When the defendant raises the defense
of ownership in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved
without deciding the issue of ownership, the issue of ownership shall be resolved
only to determine the issue of possession. (Sec. 16, Rule 70, 1997 Revised Rules of
Civil Procedure)

Art. 144 [Civil Code]. When a man and a woman live together as husband and wife, but
they are not married, or their marriage is void from the beginning, the property acquired by
either or both of them through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be
governed by the rules on co-ownership. (NCC.)
20

Art. 147 of the Family Code provides that "When a man and a woman are capacitated to
marry each other, live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of
marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal
shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry shall be
governed by the rules on co-ownership.
21

In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together
shall be presumed to have been obtained by their join efforts, work or industry and
shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did
not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property shall be deemed
to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former's efforts consisted in
the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.
Art. 298. The obligation to give support shall be demandable from the time the person who
has a right to receive the same needs it for maintenance, but it shall not be paid except form
the date it is extrajudicially demanded.
31

Payment shall be made monthly in advance, and when the recipient dies, his heirs
shall not be obliged to return what he has received in advance.
This provision is substantially reproduced in Article 203 of the Family Code.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 132529. February 2, 2001
SUSAN NICDAO CARIO, petitioner,
vs.
SUSAN YEE CARIO, respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
The issue for resolution in the case at bar hinges on the validity of the two marriages contracted by
the deceased SPO4 Santiago S. Cario, whose death benefits is now the subject of the
controversy between the two Susans whom he married.
1wphi1.nt

Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside the decision 1 of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51263, which affirmed in toto the decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court
of Quezon City, Branch 87, in Civil Case No. Q-93-18632.
During the lifetime of the late SPO4 Santiago S. Cario, he contracted two marriages, the first was
on June 20, 1969, with petitioner Susan Nicdao Cario (hereafter referred to as Susan Nicdao), with
whom he had two offsprings, namely, Sahlee and Sandee Cario; and the second was on November
10, 1992, with respondent Susan Yee Cario (hereafter referred to as Susan Yee), with whom he
had no children in their almost ten year cohabitation starting way back in 1982.
In 1988, SPO4 Santiago S. Cario became ill and bedridden due to diabetes complicated by
pulmonary tuberculosis. He passed away on November 23, 1992, under the care of Susan Yee, who
spent for his medical and burial expenses. Both petitioner and respondent filed claims for monetary
benefits and financial assistance pertaining to the deceased from various government agencies.
Petitioner Susan Nicdao was able to collect a total of P146,000.00 from MBAI, PCCUI,
Commutation, NAPOLCOM, [and] Pag-ibig, 3 while respondent Susan Yee received a total of
P21,000.00 from GSIS Life, Burial (GSIS) and burial (SSS). 4
On December 14, 1993, respondent Susan Yee filed the instant case for collection of sum of money
against petitioner Susan Nicdao praying, inter alia, that petitioner be ordered to return to her at least
one-half of the one hundred forty-six thousand pesos (P146,000.00) collectively denominated as
death benefits which she (petitioner) received from MBAI, PCCUI, Commutation, NAPOLCOM,
[and] Pag-ibig. Despite service of summons, petitioner failed to file her answer, prompting the trial
court to declare her in default.
Respondent Susan Yee admitted that her marriage to the deceased took place during the
subsistence of, and without first obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity of, the marriage between
petitioner and the deceased. She, however, claimed that she had no knowledge of the previous
marriage and that she became aware of it only at the funeral of the deceased, where she met
petitioner who introduced herself as the wife of the deceased. To bolster her action for collection of
sum of money, respondent contended that the marriage of petitioner and the deceased is void ab

initio because the same was solemnized without the required marriage license. In support thereof,
respondent presented: 1) the marriage certificate of the deceased and the petitioner which bears no
marriage license number; 5 and 2) a certification dated March 9, 1994, from the Local Civil Registrar
of San Juan, Metro Manila, which reads
This is to certify that this Office has no record of marriage license of the spouses SANTIAGO
CARINO (sic) and SUSAN NICDAO, who are married in this municipality on June 20, 1969. Hence,
we cannot issue as requested a true copy or transcription of Marriage License number from the
records of this archives.
This certification is issued upon the request of Mrs. Susan Yee Cario for whatever legal purpose it
may serve. 6
On August 28, 1995, the trial court ruled in favor of respondent, Susan Yee, holding as follows:
WHEREFORE, the defendant is hereby ordered to pay the plaintiff the sum of P73,000.00, half of
the amount which was paid to her in the form of death benefits arising from the death of SPO4
Santiago S. Cario, plus attorneys fees in the amount of P5,000.00, and costs of suit.
IT IS SO ORDERED. 7
On appeal by petitioner to the Court of Appeals, the latter affirmed in toto the decision of the trial
court. Hence, the instant petition, contending that:
I.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE
FINDINGS OF THE LOWER COURT THAT VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS. GSIS IS
APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR.
II.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN APPLYING EQUITY IN
THE INSTANT CASE INSTEAD OF THE CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL MANDATE OF THE
FAMILY CODE.
III.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THE CASE
OF VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS GSIS TO HAVE BEEN MODIFIED, AMENDED AND EVEN
ABANDONED BY THE ENACTMENT OF THE FAMILY CODE. 8
Under Article 40 of the Family Code, the absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for
purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage
void. Meaning, where the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked for
purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law, for said projected
marriage to be free from legal infirmity, is a final judgment declaring the previous marriage
void. 9 However, for purposes other than remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to declare a
marriage an absolute nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to the determination of
heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate, dissolution of property regime, or a
criminal case for that matter, the court may pass upon the validity of marriage even after the death of

the parties thereto, and even in a suit not directly instituted to question the validity of said marriage,
so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. 10 In such instances, evidence must be
adduced, testimonial or documentary, to prove the existence of grounds rendering such a previous
marriage an absolute nullity. These need not be limited solely to an earlier final judgment of a court
declaring such previous marriage void. 11
It is clear therefore that the Court is clothed with sufficient authority to pass upon the validity of the
two marriages in this case, as the same is essential to the determination of who is rightfully entitled
to the subject death benefits of the deceased.
Under the Civil Code, which was the law in force when the marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and
the deceased was solemnized in 1969, a valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage, 12 and the
absence thereof, subject to certain exceptions, 13 renders the marriage void ab initio. 14
In the case at bar, there is no question that the marriage of petitioner and the deceased does not fall
within the marriages exempt from the license requirement. A marriage license, therefore, was
indispensable to the validity of their marriage. This notwithstanding, the records reveal that the
marriage contract of petitioner and the deceased bears no marriage license number and, as certified
by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record of such marriage
license. In Republic v. Court of Appeals, 15 the Court held that such a certification is adequate to
prove the non-issuance of a marriage license. Absent any circumstance of suspicion, as in the
present case, the certification issued by the local civil registrar enjoys probative value, he being the
officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage
license.
Such being the case, the presumed validity of the marriage of petitioner and the deceased has been
sufficiently overcome. It then became the burden of petitioner to prove that their marriage is valid
and that they secured the required marriage license. Although she was declared in default before the
trial court, petitioner could have squarely met the issue and explained the absence of a marriage
license in her pleadings before the Court of Appeals and this Court. But petitioner conveniently
avoided the issue and chose to refrain from pursuing an argument that will put her case in jeopardy.
Hence, the presumed validity of their marriage cannot stand.
It is beyond cavil, therefore, that the marriage between petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased,
having been solemnized without the necessary marriage license, and not being one of the marriages
exempt from the marriage license requirement, is undoubtedly void ab initio.
It does not follow from the foregoing disquisition, however, that since the marriage of petitioner and
the deceased is declared void ab initio, the death benefits under scrutiny would now be awarded to
respondent Susan Yee. To reiterate, under Article 40 of the Family Code, for purposes of
remarriage, there must first be a prior judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though
void, before a party can enter into a second marriage, otherwise, the second marriage would also be
void.
Accordingly, the declaration in the instant case of nullity of the previous marriage of the deceased
and petitioner Susan Nicdao does not validate the second marriage of the deceased with respondent
Susan Yee. The fact remains that their marriage was solemnized without first obtaining a judicial
decree declaring the marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased void. Hence, the
marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is, likewise, void ab initio.
One of the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage is the separation of the property of the
spouses according to the applicable property regime. 16 Considering that the two marriages are void

ab initio, the applicable property regime would not be absolute community or conjugal partnership of
property, but rather, be governed by the provisions of Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code on
Property Regime of Unions Without Marriage.
Under Article 148 of the Family Code, which refers to the property regime of bigamous marriages,
adulterous relationships, relationships in a state of concubine, relationships where both man and
woman are married to other persons, multiple alliances of the same married man, 17 ... [O]nly the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of
money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective
contributions ...
In this property regime, the properties acquired by the parties through their actual joint
contribution shall belong to the co-ownership. Wages and salaries earned by each party belong to
him or her exclusively. Then too, contributions in the form of care of the home, children and
household, or spiritual or moral inspiration, are excluded in this regime. 18
Considering that the marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is a bigamous marriage,
having been solemnized during the subsistence of a previous marriage then presumed to be valid
(between petitioner and the deceased), the application of Article 148 is therefore in order.
The disputed P146,000.00 from MBAI [AFP Mutual Benefit Association, Inc.], NAPOLCOM,
Commutation, Pag-ibig, and PCCUI, are clearly renumerations, incentives and benefits from
governmental agencies earned by the deceased as a police officer. Unless respondent Susan Yee
presents proof to the contrary, it could not be said that she contributed money, property or industry in
the acquisition of these monetary benefits. Hence, they are not owned in common by respondent
and the deceased, but belong to the deceased alone and respondent has no right whatsoever to
claim the same. By intestate succession, the said death benefits of the deceased shall pass to his
legal heirs. And, respondent, not being the legal wife of the deceased is not one of them.
As to the property regime of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, Article 147 of the Family
Code governs. This article applies to unions of parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by
any impediment to contract marriage, but whose marriage is nonetheless void for other reasons, like
the absence of a marriage license. Article 147 of the Family Code reads Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with
each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their
wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of
them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be
presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them
in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the
other party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the
formers efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.
xxx
When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in
the co-ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default of or waiver
by any or all of the common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the

respective surviving descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the
innocent party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation.
In contrast to Article 148, under the foregoing article, wages and salaries earned by either party
during the cohabitation shall be owned by the parties in equal shares and will be divided equally
between them, even if only one party earned the wages and the other did not contribute
thereto. 19 Conformably, even if the disputed death benefits were earned by the deceased alone as
a government employee, Article 147 creates a co-ownership in respect thereto, entitling the
petitioner to share one-half thereof. As there is no allegation of bad faith in the present case, both
parties of the first marriage are presumed to be in good faith. Thus, one-half of the subject death
benefits under scrutiny shall go to the petitioner as her share in the property regime, and the other
half pertaining to the deceased shall pass by, intestate succession, to his legal heirs, namely, his
children with Susan Nicdao.
In affirming the decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals relied on the case of Vda. de
Consuegra v. Government Service Insurance System, 20 where the Court awarded one-half of the
retirement benefits of the deceased to the first wife and the other half, to the second wife, holding
that:
... [S]ince the defendants first marriage has not been dissolved or declared void the conjugal
partnership established by that marriage has not ceased. Nor has the first wife lost or relinquished
her status as putative heir of her husband under the new Civil Code, entitled to share in his estate
upon his death should she survive him. Consequently, whether as conjugal partner in a still
subsisting marriage or as such putative heir she has an interest in the husbands share in the
property here in dispute.... And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court observed that
although the second marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while the
first marriage was still subsisting, still there is need for judicial declaration of such nullity. And
inasmuch as the conjugal partnership formed by the second marriage was dissolved before judicial
declaration of its nullity, [t]he only just and equitable solution in this case would be to recognize the
right of the second wife to her share of one-half in the property acquired by her and her husband,
and consider the other half as pertaining to the conjugal partnership of the first marriage. 21
It should be stressed, however, that the aforecited decision is premised on the rule which requires a
prior and separate judicial declaration of nullity of marriage. This is the reason why in the said case,
the Court determined the rights of the parties in accordance with their existing property regime.
In Domingo v. Court of Appeals, 22 however, the Court, construing Article 40 of the Family Code,
clarified that a prior and separate declaration of nullity of a marriage is an all important condition
precedent only for purposes of remarriage. That is, if a party who is previously married wishes to
contract a second marriage, he or she has to obtain first a judicial decree declaring the first marriage
void, before he or she could contract said second marriage, otherwise the second marriage would be
void. The same rule applies even if the first marriage is patently void because the parties are not free
to determine for themselves the validity or invalidity or their marriage. However, for purposes other
than to remarry, like for filing a case for collection of sum of money anchored on a marriage claimed
to be valid, no prior and separate judicial declaration of nullity is necessary. All that a party has to do
is to present evidence, testimonial or documentary, that would prove that the marriage from which
his or her rights flow is in fact valid. Thereupon, the court, if material to the determination of the
issues before it, will rule on the status of the marriage involved and proceed to determine the rights
of the parties in accordance with the applicable laws and jurisprudence. Thus, in Nial v.
Bayadog, 23 the Court explained:

[T]he court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to question
the same so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice to any
issue that may arise in the case. When such need arises, a final judgment of declaration of nullity is
necessary even if the purpose is other than to remarry. The clause on the basis of a final judgment
declaring such previous marriage void in Article 40 of the Family Code connoted that such final
judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of remarriage.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, and the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
No. 51263 which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City ordering petitioner
to pay respondent the sum of P73,000.00 plus attorneys fees in the amount of P5,000.00, is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint in Civil Case No. Q-93-18632, is hereby DISMISSED.
No pronouncement as to costs.
1wphi 1.nt

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), Kapunan, and Pardo, JJ., concur.
Puno J., on official leave.
Footnotes
12. ART. 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied with:
(1)Legal capacity of the contracting parties;
(2)Their consent, freely given;
(3)Authority of the person performing the marriage; and
(4)A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character.
13. ART. 58. Save marriages of an exceptional character authorized in Chapter 2 of this
Title, but not those under article 75, no marriage shall be solemnized without a license first
being issued by the local civil registrar of the municipality where either contracting party
habitually resides
14. ART. 80. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
xxx

xxx

xxx

(3) Those solemnized without a marriage license, save marriages of exceptional


character;
xxx

xxx

xxx

15. 236 SCRA 257, 261-262; citing the Rules of Court, Rule 132, Section 29
16. Art. 50. The effects provided for in paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and (5) of Article 43 and in
Article 44 shall also apply in proper cases to marriages which are declared void ab initio or
annulled by final judgment under Articles 40 and 45.
The final judgment in such cases shall provide for the liquidation, partition, and
distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody and support of the common

children, and the delivery of their presumptive legitimes, unless such matters had
been adjudicated in previous judicial proceedings.
14. ART. 80. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
xxx

xxx

xxx

Art. 43. The termination of the subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding
Article shall produce the following effects:
14. ART. 80. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
xxx

xxx

xxx

(2)The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may
be, shall be dissolved and liquidated, but if either spouse contracted said marriage in
bad faith, his or her share of the net profits of the community property or conjugal
partnership property shall be forfeited in favor of the common children or, if there are
none, the children of the guilty spouse by a previous marriage or, in default of
children, the innocent spouse;
14. ART. 80. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
xxx

xxx

xxx

Art. 44. If both spouses of the subsequent marriage acted in bad faith, said marriage
shall be void ab initio and all donations by reason of marriage and testamentary
dispositions made by one in favor of the other are revoked by operation of law

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 150611. June 10, 2003]

JACINTO
SAGUID, petitioner,
vs. HON.
COURT
OF
APPEALS, THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 94, BOAC,
MARINDUQUE and GINA S. REY, respondents.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

The regime of limited co-ownership of property governing the union of parties who
are not legally capacitated to marry each other, but who nonetheless live together as
husband and wife, applies to properties acquired during said cohabitation in proportion to
their respective contributions. Co-ownership will only be up to the extent of the proven
actual contribution of money, property or industry. Absent proof of the extent thereof, their
contributions and corresponding shares shall be presumed to be equal. [1]
Seventeen-year old Gina S. Rey was married,[2] but separated de facto from her
husband, when she met petitioner Jacinto Saguid in Marinduque, sometime in July
1987.[3] After a brief courtship, the two decided to cohabit as husband and wife in a house
built on a lot owned by Jacintos father.[4] Their cohabitation was not blessed with any
children. Jacinto made a living as the patron of their fishing vessel Saguid
Brothers.[5] Gina, on the other hand, worked as a fish dealer, but decided to work as an
entertainer in Japan from 1992 to 1994 when her relationship with Jacintos relatives
turned sour. Her periodic absence, however, did not ebb away the conflict with petitioners
relatives. In 1996, the couple decided to separate and end up their 9-year cohabitation.[6]
On January 9, 1997, private respondent filed a complaint for Partition and Recovery
of Personal Property with Receivership against the petitioner with the Regional Trial Court
of Boac, Marinduque. She alleged that from her salary of $1,500.00 a month as
entertainer in Japan, she was able to contribute P70,000.00 in the completion of their
unfinished house. Also, from her own earnings as an entertainer and fish dealer, she was
able to acquire and accumulate appliances, pieces of furniture and household effects,
with a total value of P111,375.00. She prayed that she be declared the sole owner of
these personal properties and that the amount of P70,000.00, representing her
contribution to the construction of their house, be reimbursed to her.
Private respondent testified that she deposited part of her earnings in her savings
account with First Allied Development Bank.[7] Her Pass Book shows that as of May 23,
1995, she had a balance of P21,046.08.[8] She further stated that she had a total of
P35,465.00[9] share in the joint account deposit which she and the petitioner maintained

with the same bank.[10] Gina declared that said deposits were spent for the purchase of
construction materials, appliances and other personal properties.[11]
In his answer[12] to the complaint, petitioner claimed that the expenses for the
construction of their house were defrayed solely from his income as a captain of their
fishing vessel. He averred that private respondents meager income as fish dealer
rendered her unable to contribute in the construction of said house. Besides, selling fish
was a mere pastime to her; as such, she was contented with the small quantity of fish
allotted to her from his fishing trips. Petitioner further contended that Gina did not work
continuously in Japan from 1992 to 1994, but only for a 6-month duration each
year. When their house was repaired and improved sometime in 1995-1996, private
respondent did not share in the expenses because her earnings as entertainer were spent
on the daily needs and business of her parents. From his income in the fishing business,
he claimed to have saved a total of P130,000.00, P75,000.00 of which was placed in a
joint account deposit with private respondent. This savings, according to petitioner was
spent in purchasing the disputed personal properties.
On May 21, 1997, the trial court declared the petitioner as in default for failure to file
a pre-trial brief as required by Supreme Court Circular No. 1-89.[13]
On May 26, 1997, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration[14] of the May 21, 1997
order, which was denied on June 2, 1997, and private respondent was allowed to present
evidence ex parte.[15] Petitioner filed another motion for reconsideration but the same was
also denied on October 8, 1997.
On July 15, 1998, a decision[16] was rendered in favor of private respondent, the
dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of


the plaintiff Gina S. Rey against defendant Jacinto Saguid:
a) Ordering the partition of the house identified as plaintiffs Exhibit C and D and
directing the defendant to return and/or reimburse to the plaintiff the amount of
seventy thousand pesos (P70,000,00) which the latter actually contributed to its
construction and completion;
b) Declaring the plaintiff as the exclusive owner of the personal properties listed on
Exhibit M;
c) Ordering the defendant, and/or anyone in possession of the aforesaid personal
properties, to return and/or deliver the same to the plaintiff; and
d) Ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiff moral damages in the sum of fifty
thousand pesos (P50,000.00) plus the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.

[17]

On appeal, said decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals; however, the award
of P50,000.00 as moral damages was deleted for lack of basis. [18] The appellate court
ruled that the propriety of the order which declared the petitioner as in default became
moot and academic in view of the effectivity of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. It
explained that the new rules now require the filing of a pre-trial brief and the defendants
non-compliance therewith entitles the plaintiff to present evidence ex parte.
Both parties filed motions for reconsideration which were denied; hence, petitioner
filed the instant petition based on the following assigned errors:
A.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMIT[TED] A REVERSIBLE


ERROR IN APPLYING RETROACTIVELY THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL
PROCEDURE IN THE PRESENT CASE AND HOLDING THE FIRST ASSIGNED
ERROR THEREIN MOOT AND ACADEMIC THUS, FAILED TO RULE ON THE
PROPRIETY OF THE TRIAL COURTS REFUSAL TO SET ASIDE THE ORDER
OF DEFAULT DUE TO MISTAKE AND/OR EXCUSABLE NEGLIGENCE
COMMITTED BY PETITIONER.
B.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMIT[TED] A REVERSIBLE


ERROR IN RELYING ON THE FACTUAL FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL COURT
WHICH RECEIVED THE EVIDENCE OF HEREIN RESPONDENT ONLY EX
PARTE.
[19]

The issues for resolution are: (1) whether or not the trial court erred in allowing private
respondent to present evidence ex parte; and (2) whether or not the trial courts decision
is supported by evidence.
Under Section 6, Rule 18 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the failure of the
defendant to file a pre-trial brief shall have the same effect as failure to appear at the pretrial, i.e., the plaintiff may present his evidence ex parte and the court shall render
judgment on the basis thereof.[20] The remedy of the defendant is to file a motion for
reconsideration[21] showing that his failure to file a pre-trial brief was due to fraud, accident,
mistake or excusable neglect.[22] The motion need not really stress the fact that the
defendant has a valid and meritorious defense because his answer which contains his
defenses is already on record.[23]
In the case at bar, petitioner insists that his failure to file a pre-trial brief is justified
because he was not represented by counsel. This justification is not, however, sufficient
to set aside the order directing private respondent to present evidence ex parte, inasmuch
as the petitioner chose at his own risk not to be represented by counsel. Even without the
assistance of a lawyer, petitioner was able to file a motion for extension to file
answer,[24] the required answer stating therein the special and affirmative defenses,[25] and
several other motions.[26] If it were true that petitioner did not understand the import of the

April 23, 1997 order directing him to file a pre-trial brief, he could have inquired from the
court or filed a motion for extension of time to file the brief. Instead, he waited until May
26, 1997, or 14 days from his alleged receipt of the April 23, 1997 order before he filed a
motion asking the court to excuse his failure to file a brief. Pre-trial rules are not to be
belittled or dismissed because their non-observance may result in prejudice to a partys
substantive rights. Like all rules, they should be followed except only for the most
persuasive of reasons when they may be relaxed to relieve a litigant of an injustice not
commensurate with the degree of his thoughtlessness in not complying with the
procedure prescribed.[27]
In the instant case, the fact that petitioner was not assisted by a lawyer is not a
persuasive reason to relax the application of the rules. There is nothing in the Constitution
which mandates that a party in a non-criminal proceeding be represented by counsel and
that the absence of such representation amounts to a denial of due process. The
assistance of lawyers, while desirable, is not indispensable. The legal profession is not
engrafted in the due process clause such that without the participation of its members the
safeguard is deemed ignored or violated.[28]
However, the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the effectivity of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure, specifically, Section 6, Rule 18 thereof, rendered moot and academic the
issue of whether or not the plaintiff may be allowed to present evidence ex parte for failure
of the defendant to file a pre-trial brief. While the rules may indeed be applied
retroactively, the same is not called for in the case at bar. Even before the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure took effect on July 1, 1997, the filing of a pre-trial brief was required under
Circular No. 1-89 which became effective on February 1, 1989. Pursuant to the said
circular, [f]ailure to file pre-trial briefs may be given the same effect as the failure to appear
at the pre-trial, that is, the party may be declared non-suited or considered as in default.[29]
Coming now to the substantive issue, it is not disputed that Gina and Jacinto were
not capacitated to marry each other because the former was validly married to another
man at the time of her cohabitation with the latter. Their property regime therefore is
governed by Article 148[30] of the Family Code, which applies to bigamous marriages,
adulterous relationships, relationships in a state of concubinage, relationships where both
man and woman are married to other persons, and multiple alliances of the same married
man. Under this regime, only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their
actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in
common in proportion to their respective contributions ... [31] Proof of actual contribution is
required.[32]
In the case at bar, although the adulterous cohabitation of the parties commenced in
1987, which is before the date of the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1998,
Article 148 thereof applies because this provision was intended precisely to fill up the
hiatus in Article 144 of the Civil Code.[33] Before Article 148 of the Family Code was
enacted, there was no provision governing property relations of couples living in a state
of adultery or concubinage. Hence, even if the cohabitation or the acquisition of the
property occurred before the Family Code took effect, Article 148 governs. [34]
In the cases of Agapay v. Palang,[35] and Tumlos v. Fernandez,[36] which involved the
issue of co-ownership of properties acquired by the parties to a bigamous marriage and

an adulterous relationship, respectively, we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the


acquisition of the property is essential. The claim of co-ownership of the petitioners
therein who were parties to the bigamous and adulterous union is without basis because
they failed to substantiate their allegation that they contributed money in the purchase of
the disputed properties. Also in Adriano v. Court of Appeals,[37] we ruled that the fact that
the controverted property was titled in the name of the parties to an adulterous
relationship is not sufficient proof of co-ownership absent evidence of actual contribution
in the acquisition of the property.
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as determined
by the pleadings or the nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions must
be proved by competent evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of the partys
own evidence and not upon the weakness of the opponents defense. [38] This applies with
more vigor where, as in the instant case, the plaintiff was allowed to present evidence ex
parte. The plaintiff is not automatically entitled to the relief prayed for. The law gives the
defendant some measure of protection as the plaintiff must still prove the allegations in
the complaint. Favorable relief can be granted only after the court is convinced that the
facts proven by the plaintiff warrant such relief.[39] Indeed, the party alleging a fact has the
burden of proving it and a mere allegation is not evidence.[40]
In the case at bar, the controversy centers on the house and personal properties of
the parties. Private respondent alleged in her complaint that she contributed P70,000.00
for the completion of their house. However, nowhere in her testimony did she specify the
extent of her contribution. What appears in the record are receipts[41] in her name for the
purchase of construction materials on November 17, 1995 and December 23, 1995, in
the total amount of P11,413.00.
On the other hand, both parties claim that the money used to purchase the disputed
personal properties came partly from their joint account with First Allied Development
Bank. While there is no question that both parties contributed in their joint account
deposit, there is, however, no sufficient proof of the exact amount of their respective
shares therein. Pursuant to Article 148 of the Family Code, in the absence of proof of
extent of the parties respective contribution, their share shall be presumed to be
equal. Here, the disputed personal properties were valued at P111,375.00, the existence
and value of which were not questioned by the petitioner. Hence, their share therein is
equivalent to one-half, i.e., P55,687.50 each.
The Court of Appeals thus erred in affirming the decision of the trial court which
granted the reliefs prayed for by private respondent. On the basis of the evidence
established, the extent of private respondents co-ownership over the disputed house is
only up to the amount of P11,413.00, her proven contribution in the construction
thereof. Anent the personal properties, her participation therein should be limited only to
the amount of P55,687.50.
As regards the trial courts award of P50,000.00 as moral damages, the Court of
Appeals correctly deleted the same for lack of basis.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 64166 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Private respondent Gina S.

Rey is declared co-owner of petitioner Jacinto Saguid in the controverted house to the
extent of P11,413.00 and personal properties to the extent of P55,687.50. Petitioner is
ordered to reimburse the amount of P67,100.50 to private respondent, failing which the
house shall be sold at public auction to satisfy private respondents claim.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

[2]

Exhibit A, Marriage Contract showing that Gina S. Rey was married at the age of 15 to Eduardo V. Salazar
on June 19, 1985.

[18]

CA-G.R. CV No. 64166, penned by Associate Justice Perlita J. Tria Tirona and concurred in by Associate
Justices Eugenio S. Labitoria and Eloy R. Bello, Jr.

[20]

Rule 18, SEC. 5. Effect of failure to appear.The failure of the plaintiff to appear when so required pursuant
to the next preceding section shall be cause for dismissal of the action. The dismissal shall be with
prejudice, unless otherwise ordered by the court. A similar failure on the part of the defendant shall
be cause to allow the plaintiff to present his evidence ex parte and the court to render judgment on
the basis thereof.

[30]

Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under [Article 147], only the properties acquired by both of
the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by
them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the
contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal. The same rule
and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit.

If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership shall accrue to the
absolute community or conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted
in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the manner
provided in the last paragraph of the preceding Article.
Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other live exclusively with each
other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages
and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of them
through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to
have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal
shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition of the other
party of any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the
formers efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.
Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the property acquired during
cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of the other, until after the termination of
the cohabitation.
When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in the coownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default or of waiver by any
or all of the common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective
surviving descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent
party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation.
The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties are in bad faith.

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 153802. March 11, 2005]

HOMEOWNERS SAVINGS & LOAN BANK, petitioner, vs. MIGUELA C.


DAILO, respondent.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court,
assailing the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 59986 rendered on
June 3, 2002, which affirmed with modification the October 18, 1997 Decision[2] of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 29, San Pablo City, Laguna in Civil Case No. SP-4748 (97).
The following factual antecedents are undisputed.
Respondent Miguela C. Dailo and Marcelino Dailo, Jr. were married on August 8,
1967. During their marriage, the spouses purchased a house and lot situated at Barangay
San Francisco, San Pablo City from a certain Sandra Dalida. The subject property was
declared for tax assessment purposes under Assessment of Real Property No. 94-0512802. The Deed of Absolute Sale, however, was executed only in favor of the late
Marcelino Dailo, Jr. as vendee thereof to the exclusion of his wife.[3]
On December 1, 1993, Marcelino Dailo, Jr. executed a Special Power of Attorney
(SPA) in favor of one Lilibeth Gesmundo, authorizing the latter to obtain a loan from
petitioner Homeowners Savings and Loan Bank to be secured by the spouses Dailos
house and lot in San Pablo City. Pursuant to the SPA, Gesmundo obtained a loan in the
amount of P300,000.00 from petitioner. As security therefor, Gesmundo executed on the
same day a Real Estate Mortgage constituted on the subject property in favor of
petitioner. The abovementioned transactions, including the execution of the SPA in favor
of Gesmundo, took place without the knowledge and consent of respondent. [4]
Upon maturity, the loan remained outstanding. As a result, petitioner instituted
extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings on the mortgaged property. After the extrajudicial
sale thereof, a Certificate of Sale was issued in favor of petitioner as the highest bidder.
After the lapse of one year without the property being redeemed, petitioner, through its
vice-president, consolidated the ownership thereof by executing on June 6, 1996 an
Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership and a Deed of Absolute Sale.[5]
In the meantime, Marcelino Dailo, Jr. died on December 20, 1995. In one of her visits
to the subject property, respondent learned that petitioner had already employed a certain
Roldan Brion to clean its premises and that her car, a Ford sedan, was razed because
Brion allowed a boy to play with fire within the premises.

Claiming that she had no knowledge of the mortgage constituted on the subject
property, which was conjugal in nature, respondent instituted with the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 29, San Pablo City, Civil Case No. SP-2222 (97) for Nullity of Real Estate
Mortgage and Certificate of Sale, Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership, Deed of Sale,
Reconveyance with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and Damages against petitioner. In
the latters Answer with Counterclaim, petitioner prayed for the dismissal of the complaint
on the ground that the property in question was the exclusive property of the late
Marcelino Dailo, Jr.
After trial on the merits, the trial court rendered a Decision on October 18, 1997. The
dispositive portion thereof reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, the plaintiff having proved by the preponderance of evidence the


allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds for the plaintiff and hereby orders:
ON THE FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION:
1. The declaration of the following documents as null and void:
(a) The Deed of Real Estate Mortgage dated December 1, 1993 executed
before Notary Public Romulo Urrea and his notarial register entered
as Doc. No. 212; Page No. 44, Book No. XXI, Series of 1993.
(b) The Certificate of Sale executed by Notary Public Reynaldo Alcantara
on April 20, 1995.
(c) The Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership executed by the
defendant
(c) The Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership executed by the
defendant over the residential lot located at Brgy. San Francisco, San
Pablo City, covered by ARP No. 95-091-1236 entered as Doc. No.
406; Page No. 83, Book No. III, Series of 1996 of Notary Public
Octavio M. Zayas.
(d) The assessment of real property No. 95-051-1236.
2. The defendant is ordered to reconvey the property subject of this complaint to the
plaintiff.
ON THE SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
1. The defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P40,000.00 representing the value
of the car which was burned.

ON BOTH CAUSES OF ACTION

1. The defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P25,000.00 as attorneys fees;
2. The defendant to pay plaintiff P25,000.00 as moral damages;
3. The defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P10,000.00 as exemplary
damages;
4. To pay the cost of the suit.
The counterclaim is dismissed.
SO ORDERED.

[6]

Upon elevation of the case to the Court of Appeals, the appellate court affirmed the
trial courts finding that the subject property was conjugal in nature, in the absence of clear
and convincing evidence to rebut the presumption that the subject property acquired
during the marriage of spouses Dailo belongs to their conjugal partnership.[7] The
appellate court declared as void the mortgage on the subject property because it was
constituted without the knowledge and consent of respondent, in accordance with Article
124 of the Family Code. Thus, it upheld the trial courts order to reconvey the subject
property to respondent.[8] With respect to the damage to respondents car, the appellate
court found petitioner to be liable therefor because it is responsible for the consequences
of the acts or omissions of the person it hired to accomplish the assigned task.[9] All told,
the appellate court affirmed the trial courts Decision, but deleted the award for damages
and attorneys fees for lack of basis.[10]
Hence, this petition, raising the following issues for this Courts consideration:

1. WHETHER OR NOT THE MORTGAGE CONSTITUTED BY THE LATE


MARCELINO DAILO, JR. ON THE SUBJECT PROPERTY AS CO-OWNER
THEREOF IS VALID AS TO HIS UNDIVIDED SHARE.
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP IS LIABLE FOR THE
PAYMENT OF THE LOAN OBTAINED BY THE LATE MARCELINO DAILO,
JR. THE SAME HAVING REDOUNDED TO THE BENEFIT OF THE FAMILY.

[11]

First, petitioner takes issue with the legal provision applicable to the factual milieu of
this case. It contends that Article 124 of the Family Code should be construed in relation
to Article 493 of the Civil Code, which states:

ART. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the fruits
and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it,
and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are

involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the coowners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the division
upon the termination of the co-ownership.
Article 124 of the Family Code provides in part:

ART. 124. The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal partnership property
shall belong to both spouses jointly. . . .
In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the
administration of the conjugal properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers of
administration. These powers do not include the powers of disposition or
encumbrance which must have the authority of the court or the written consent of the
other spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent, the disposition or
encumbrance shall be void. . . .
Petitioner argues that although Article 124 of the Family Code requires the consent
of the other spouse to the mortgage of conjugal properties, the framers of the law could
not have intended to curtail the right of a spouse from exercising full ownership over the
portion of the conjugal property pertaining to him under the concept of coownership.[12] Thus, petitioner would have this Court uphold the validity of the mortgage to
the extent of the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr.s share in the conjugal partnership.
In Guiang v. Court of Appeals,[13] it was held that the sale of a conjugal property
requires the consent of both the husband and wife.[14] In applying Article 124 of the Family
Code, this Court declared that the absence of the consent of one renders the entire sale
null and void, including the portion of the conjugal property pertaining to the husband who
contracted the sale. The same principle in Guiang squarely applies to the instant case.
As shall be discussed next, there is no legal basis to construe Article 493 of the Civil Code
as an exception to Article 124 of the Family Code.
Respondent and the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. were married on August 8, 1967. In the
absence of a marriage settlement, the system of relative community or conjugal
partnership of gains governed the property relations between respondent and her late
husband.[15] With the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988, Chapter 4
on Conjugal Partnership of Gains in the Family Code was made applicable to conjugal
partnership of gains already established before its effectivity unless vested rights have
already been acquired under the Civil Code or other laws.[16]
The rules on co-ownership do not even apply to the property relations of respondent
and the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. even in a suppletory manner. The regime of conjugal
partnership of gains is a special type of partnership, where the husband and wife place in
a common fund the proceeds, products, fruits and income from their separate properties
and those acquired by either or both spouses through their efforts or by chance. [17] Unlike
the absolute community of property wherein the rules on co-ownership apply in a
suppletory manner,[18] the conjugal partnership shall be governed by the rules on contract

of partnership in all that is not in conflict with what is expressly determined in the chapter
(on conjugal partnership of gains) or by the spouses in their marriage settlements.[19]Thus,
the property relations of respondent and her late husband shall be governed, foremost,
by Chapter 4 on Conjugal Partnership of Gains of the Family Code and, suppletorily, by
the rules on partnership under the Civil Code. In case of conflict, the former prevails
because the Civil Code provisions on partnership apply only when the Family Code is
silent on the matter.
The basic and established fact is that during his lifetime, without the knowledge and
consent of his wife, Marcelino Dailo, Jr. constituted a real estate mortgage on the subject
property, which formed part of their conjugal partnership. By express provision of Article
124 of the Family Code, in the absence of (court) authority or written consent of the other
spouse, any disposition or encumbrance of the conjugal property shall be void.
The aforequoted provision does not qualify with respect to the share of the spouse
who makes the disposition or encumbrance in the same manner that the rule on coownership under Article 493 of the Civil Code does. Where the law does not distinguish,
courts should not distinguish.[20] Thus, both the trial court and the appellate court are
correct in declaring the nullity of the real estate mortgage on the subject property for lack
of respondents consent.
Second, petitioner imposes the liability for the payment of the principal obligation
obtained by the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. on the conjugal partnership to the extent that it
redounded to the benefit of the family.[21]
Under Article 121 of the Family Code, [T]he conjugal partnership shall be liable for: .
. . (3) Debts and obligations contracted by either spouse without the consent of the other
to the extent that the family may have been benefited; . . . . For the subject property to be
held liable, the obligation contracted by the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. must have redounded
to the benefit of the conjugal partnership. There must be the requisite showing then of
some advantage which clearly accrued to the welfare of the spouses. Certainly, to make
a conjugal partnership respond for a liability that should appertain to the husband alone
is to defeat and frustrate the avowed objective of the new Civil Code to show the utmost
concern for the solidarity and well-being of the family as a unit.[22]
The burden of proof that the debt was contracted for the benefit of the conjugal
partnership of gains lies with the creditor-party litigant claiming as such.[23] Ei incumbit
probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (he who asserts, not he who denies, must
prove).[24] Petitioners sweeping conclusion that the loan obtained by the late Marcelino
Dailo, Jr. to finance the construction of housing units without a doubt redounded to the
benefit of his family, without adducing adequate proof, does not persuade this Court.
Other than petitioners bare allegation, there is nothing from the records of the case to
compel a finding that, indeed, the loan obtained by the late Marcelino Dailo, Jr. redounded
to the benefit of the family. Consequently, the conjugal partnership cannot be held liable
for the payment of the principal obligation.
In addition, a perusal of the records of the case reveals that during the trial, petitioner
vigorously asserted that the subject property was the exclusive property of the late
Marcelino Dailo, Jr. Nowhere in the answer filed with the trial court was it alleged that the

proceeds of the loan redounded to the benefit of the family. Even on appeal, petitioner
never claimed that the family benefited from the proceeds of the loan. When a party
adopts a certain theory in the court below, he will not be permitted to change his theory
on appeal, for to permit him to do so would not only be unfair to the other party but it
would also be offensive to the basic rules of fair play, justice and due process.[25] A party
may change his legal theory on appeal only when the factual bases thereof would not
require presentation of any further evidence by the adverse party in order to enable it to
properly meet the issue raised in the new theory.[26]
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION
JOHN ABING,

G.R. No. 146294


Petitioner,
Present:
PUNO, J., Chairperson,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
AZCUNA, and
GARCIA, JJ.

- versus -

JULIET WAEYAN,
Respondent.

Promulgated:
July 31, 2006

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

DECISION
GARCIA, J.:

In this appeal by way of a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
petitioner John Abing (John, hereafter) seeks to set aside the Decision[1] dated
October 24, 2000 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 48675, reversing
that of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Benguet, Branch 64, which affirmed an
earlier decision of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Mankayan, Benguet in
an ejectment suit thereat commenced by the petitioner against the respondent.
In the main, the controversy is between a man and a woman who, during the good
old days, lived together as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage. During

their cohabitation, they acquired properties. Later, they parted ways, and with it this
litigation between them involving one of their common properties.
The facts:
Sometime in 1986, John and respondent Juliet Waeyan (Juliet, for short) met and
fell in love with each other. In time, the duo cohabited as husband and wife without
the benefit of marriage. Together, the couple bought a 2-storey residential house
from one Benjamin Macua which was erected on a lot owned by a certain
Alejandro Dio on Aurora Street, Mankayan, Benguet. Consequent to the purchase,
the tax declaration of the 2-storey house was transferred in the name of Juliet.
On December 2, 1991, Juliet left for overseas employment in Korea. She would send
money to John who deposited the same in their joint bank account.
In 1992, the original 2-storey residential house underwent renovation. To it was
annexed a new structure which housed a sari-sari store. This new structure and
the sari-sari store thereat are the properties involved in this case.
In 1994, Juliet returned from Korea and continued to live with John. She managed
the sari-sari store while John worked as a mine employee of
the Lepanto Consolidated Mining, Inc.
In 1995, the relationship between the two turned from bad to worse. Hence, they
decided to partition their properties. For the purpose, they executed on October 7,
1995 a Memorandum of Agreement. Unfortunately, the document was left unsigned
by the parties although signed by the witnesses thereto. Under their unsigned
agreement, John shall leave the couples dwelling with Juliet paying him the amount
of P428,870.00 representing Johns share in all their properties. On the same
date October 7, 1995 Juliet paid John the sum of P232,397.66 by way of partial

payment of his share, with the balance of P196,472.34 to be paid by Juliet in twelve
monthly installment beginning November 1995.
Juliet, however, failed to make good the balance. On account thereof, John
demanded of her to vacate the annex structure housing the sari-sari store. Juliet
refused, prompting John to file an ejectment suit against her before the MTC
of Mankayan,Benguet.
In his complaint, John alleged that he alone spent for the construction of the annex
structure with his own funds and thru money he borrowed from his relatives. In fact,
he added that the tax declaration for the structure was under his name. On this
premise, John claimed exclusive ownership of the subject structure, which thereby
gave him the right to eject Juliet therefrom upon the latters failure to pay the agreed
balance due him under the aforementioned Memorandum of Agreement.
In her answer, Juliet countered that their original house was renovated thru their
common funds and that the subject structure annexed thereto was merely an
attachment or an extension of their original residential house, hence the same
pertained to the two of them in common.
In a decision[2] dated March 15, 1997, the MTC, on its finding that the money used
in the construction of the structure in question solely came from John, ruled that the
same exclusively pertained to the latter, and accordingly ordered Juliets
evictiontherefrom, including the sari-sari store thereat, and required her to surrender
possession thereof to John, thus:
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered in favor of the plaintiff (John) and
against the defendant (Juliet).
Defendant is hereby ordered to vacate the premises of the store in litigation
covered by Tax Declaration No. 96-001-00445 in the name of the Plaintiff
and turn over possession thereof to the latter.

Defendant is hereby further ordered to pay the Plaintiff the sum


of P2,500.00 a month from the time she withheld possession of the store in
litigation in June 1996 until she vacates the same and turn over possession
thereof to the Plaintiff.
Defendant is finally ordered, to pay the sum of P5,000.00 to the Plaintiff by
way of Attorneys fees; and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.

On Juliets appeal to the RTC, the latter, in its decision of July 29, 1995, affirmed
that of the MTC. Undaunted, Juliet then went to the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 48675.
As stated at the threshold hereof, the CA, in its Decision of October 24,
2000,[3] reversed that of the RTC, to wit:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision of the
Regional Trial Court is hereby reversed and set aside. Petitioner,
Juliet Waeyan is entitled to possess the property and maintain therein her
business.
SO ORDERED.

Partly says the CA in its reversal disposition:


It is undisputed that the parties lived together as husband and wife without
the benefit of marriage from 1986 to 1995 and that they acquired certain
properties which must be divided between them upon the termination of
their common law relationship.
xx xxx xxx
. . . their property relations cannot be governed by the provision of the Civil
Code on conjugal partnership... but by the rule on co-ownership.
xxx xxx xxx
. . . the parties share in respect of the properties they have accumulated
during their cohabitation shall be equal unless there is proof to the contrary.

To the CA, Johns evidence failed to establish that he alone spent for the construction
of the annex structure. Hence, the same pertained to both, and being a co-owner
herself, Juliet cannot be evicted therefrom, adding that if ever, Johns cause of action
should have been for a sum of money because he claims that Juliet still owes him
the payment for the extension. According to the CA, ejectment cannot lie against
Juliet because Juliets possession of the premises in dispute was not by virtue of a
contract, express or implied, nor did she obtain such possession thru force,
intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth.
Hence, Johns present recourse, submitting that the CA erred in
1. not giving effect to the parties Memorandum of Agreement which
should have been binding between them albeit unsigned by both;
2. in holding that the subject premises (annex structure housing the sarisari store) is owned by the two of them in common;
3. in ruling that the parties should settle their common properties in a
separate action for partition even as the community character of the
subject premises has not been proven.

We AFFIRM with modification.


Essentially, the issues raised center on the core question of whether or not the
property subject of the suit pertains to the exclusive ownership of petitioner, John.
Departing from the factual findings of the two courts before it, the CA found that the
premises in dispute is owned in common by Juliet and John, the latter having failed
to establish by the required quantum of proof that the money spent for the
construction thereof solely came from him. Being a co-owner of the same structure,
Juliet may not be ejected therefrom.
While the question raised is essentially one of fact, of which the Court normally
eschews from, yet, given the conflicting factual findings of the three courts below,

the Court shall go by the exception[4] to the general rule and proceed to make its own
assessment of the evidence.
First and foremost, it is undisputed that the parties hereto lived together as husband
and wife from 1986 to 1995 without the benefit of marriage. Neither is it disputed
that sometime in December 1991, Juliet left for Korea and worked thereat, sending
money to John which the latter deposited in their joint account. In fact, Juliet was
still in Korea when the annex structure was constructed in 1992.
Other than Johns bare allegation that he alone, thru his own funds and money he
borrowed from his relatives, spent for the construction of the annex structure,
evidence is wanting to support such naked claim. For sure, John even failed to reveal
how much he spent therefor. Neither did he divulge the names of the alleged
relatives from whom he made his borrowings, let alone the amount of money he
borrowed from them. All that petitioner could offer by way of reinforcing his claim
of spending his own funds and borrowed money in putting up the subject structure
was the affidavit executed by a certain Manuel Macaraeg to the effect that petitioner
borrowed P30,000.00 from him. Even then, Macaraeg stated in his affidavit that it
was sometime in1990 when John borrowed said amount from him. With the
petitioners own admission that the subject structure was constructed only in 1992,
or two years after he borrowed P30,000.00 from Macaraeg, it is even doubtful
whether the amount he allegedly borrowed from the latter went into the construction
of the structure in dispute. More, it is noted that while petitioner was able to present
in evidence the Macaraeg affidavit, he failed to introduce similar affidavits, if any,
of his close relatives from whom he claimed to have made similar borrowings. For
sure, not a single relative came forward to confirm petitioners tale. In short, there is
a paucity of evidence, testimonial or documentary, to support petitioners self-serving
allegation that the annex structure which housed the sari-sari store was put up thru
his own funds and/or money borrowed by him. Sure, petitioner has in his favor the
tax declaration covering the subject structure. We have, however, ruled time and

again that tax declarations do not prove ownership but at best an indicia of claims of
ownership.[5] Payment of taxes is not proof of ownership, any more than indicating
possession in the concept of an owner.[6] Neither tax receipts nor declaration of
ownership for taxation purposes are evidence of ownership or of the right to possess
realty when not supported by other effective proofs.[7]
In this connection, Article 147 of the Family Code is instructive. It reads:
Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live
exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or
under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal
shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry
shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together
shall be presumed to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry,
and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a party
who did not participate in the acquisition by other party of any property shall be
deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the formers efforts
consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household.

The law is clear. In the absence, as here, of proofs to the contrary, any property
acquired by common-law spouses during their period of cohabitation is presumed to
have been obtained thru their joint efforts and is owned by them in equal
shares. Their property relationship is governed by the rules on co-ownership. And
under this regime, they owned their properties in common in equal shares. Being
herself a co-owner of the structure in question, Juliet, as correctly ruled by the CA,
may not be ejectedtherefrom.
True it is that under Article 487[8] of the Civil Code, a co-owner may bring an action
for ejectment against a co-owner who takes exclusive possession and asserts
exclusive ownership of a common property. It bears stressing, however, that in this
case, evidence is totally wanting to establish Johns or Juliets exclusive ownership of
the property in question. Neither did Juliet obtain possession thereof by virtue of a
contract, express or implied, or thru intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth. As borne

by the record, Juliet was in possession of the subject structure and the sari-sari store
thereat by virtue of her being a co-owner thereof. As such, she is as much entitled to
enjoy its possession and ownership as John.
We, however, disagree with the ruling of the CA that the subject Memorandum of
Agreement, being unsigned by Juliet and John, has no binding effect between them.
It is a matter of record that pursuant to said Agreement, Juliet did pay John the
amount of P232,397.66, as initial payment for Johns share in their common
properties, with the balance of P196,472.34 payable in twelve monthly installments
beginning November 1995. It is also a matter of record that the Agreement was
signed by the witnesses thereto. Hence, the irrelevant circumstances that the
Agreement was left unsigned by Juliet and John cannot adversely affect its binding
force or effect between them, as evidently, Juliets initial payment of P232,397.66 to
John
was
in
fulfillment
of
what
the
parties
had
agreed
upon thereunder. However, and as correctly held by the CA, Juliets failure to pay
John the balance of the latters share in their common properties could at best give
rise to an action for a sum of money against Juliet, or for rescission of the said
agreement and not for ejectment.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed CA Decision
is AFFIRMED, except that portion thereof denying effect to the parties
Memorandum of Agreement for being unsigned by both.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
[8]

Art. 487. Any one of the co-owners may bring an action in ejectment.

SECOND DIVISION
LUPO ATIENZA,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 169698


Present:

- versus -

PUNO, J., Chairperson,


SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
AZCUNA, and
GARCIA, JJ.
Promulgated:
November 29, 2006

YOLANDA DE CASTRO,
Respondent.
x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

GARCIA, J.:

Assailed and sought to be set aside in this petition for review on certiorari is the
Decision[1] dated April 29, 2005 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
69797, as reiterated in its Resolution[2] of September 16, 2005, reversing an earlier
decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 61, in an action
for Judicial Partition of Real Property thereat commenced by the herein petitioner
Lupo Atienza against respondent Yolanda de Castro.
The facts:

Sometime in 1983, petitioner Lupo Atienza, then the President and General Manager
of Enrico Shipping Corporation and Eurasian Maritime Corporation, hired the
services of respondent Yolanda U. De Castro as accountant for the two corporations.
In the course of time, the relationship between Lupo and Yolanda became
intimate. Despite Lupo being a married man, he and Yolanda eventually lived
together in consortium beginning the later part of 1983. Out of their union, two
children were born. However, after the birth of their second child, their relationship
turned sour until they parted ways.
On May 28, 1992, Lupo filed in the RTC of Makati City a complaint against Yolanda
for the judicial partition between them of a parcel of land with improvements located
in Bel-Air Subdivision, Makati City and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.
147828 of the Registry of Deeds of Makati City. In his complaint, docketed in said
court as Civil Case No. 92-1423, Lupo alleged that the subject property was acquired
during his union with Yolanda as common-law husband and wife, hence the property
is co-owned by them.
Elaborating, Lupo averred in his complaint that the property in question was
acquired by Yolanda sometime in 1987 using his exclusive funds and that the title
thereto was transferred by the seller in Yolandas name without his knowledge and
consent.He did not interpose any objection thereto because at the time, their affair
was still thriving. It was only after their separation and his receipt of information
that Yolanda allowed her new live-in partner to live in the disputed property, when
he demanded his share thereat as a co-owner.
In her answer, Yolanda denied Lupos allegations. According to her, she acquired the
same property for Two Million Six Hundred Thousand Pesos (P2,600,000.00) using
her exclusive funds. She insisted having bought it thru her own savings and earnings
as a businesswoman.
In a decision[3] dated December 11, 2000, the trial court rendered judgment for Lupo
by declaring the contested property as owned in common by him and Yolanda and
ordering its partition between the two in equal shares, thus:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the property covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 147828 of the Registry of Deeds of Makati City to
be owned in common by plaintiff LUPO ATIENZA and the defendant YOLANDA

U. DE CASTRO share-and-share alike and ordering the partition of said property


between them. Upon the finality of this Decision, the parties are hereby directed to
submit for the confirmation of the Court a mutually agreed project of partition of
said property or, in case the physical partition of said property is not feasible
because of its nature, that either the same be assigned to one of the parties who shall
pay the value corresponding to the share of the other or that the property to be sold
and the proceeds thereof be divided equally between the parties after deducting the
expenses incident to said sale.
The parties shall bear their own attorneys fees and expenses of litigation.
Costs against the defendant.
SO ORDERED.

From the decision of the trial court, Yolanda went on appeal to the CA in CA-G.R.
CV No. 69797, therein arguing that the evidence on record preponderate that she
purchased the disputed property in her own name with her own money. She
maintained that the documents appertaining to her acquisition thereof are the best
evidence to prove who actually bought it, and refuted the findings of the trial court,
as well as Lupos assertions casting doubt as to her financial capacity to acquire the
disputed property.
As stated at the threshold hereof, the appellate court, in its decision[4] of April
29, 2005, reversed and set aside that of the trial court and adjudged the litigated
property as exclusively owned by Yolanda, to wit:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the assailed decision is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE . The subject property is hereby declared to
be exclusively owned by defendant-appellant Yolanda U. De Castro. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

In decreeing the disputed property as exclusively owned by Yolanda, the CA ruled


that under the provisions of Article 148 of the Family Code vis--vis the evidence on
record and attending circumstances, Yolandas claim of sole ownership is
meritorious, as it has been substantiated by competent evidence. To the CA, Lupo
failed to overcome the burden of proving his allegation that the subject property was
purchased by Yolanda thru his exclusive funds.

With his motion for reconsideration having been denied by the CA in its
Resolution of September 16, 2005,[5] Lupo is now with this Court via the present
recourse arguing that pursuant to Article 144[6] of the Civil Code, he was in no way
burdened to prove that he contributed to the acquisition of the subject property
because with or without the contribution by either partner, he is deemed a co-owner
thereof, adding that under Article 484[7] of Civil Code, as long as the property
wasacquired by either or both of them during their extramarital union, such property
would be legally owned by them in common and governed by the rules on coownership, which apply in default of contracts, or special provisions.
We DENY.
It is not disputed that the parties herein were not capacitated to marry each other
because petitioner Lupo Atienza was validly married to another woman at the time
of his cohabitation with the respondent. Their property regime, therefore, is
governed by Article 148[8] of the Family Code, which applies to bigamous
marriages, adulterous relationships, relationships in a state of concubinage,
relationships where both man and woman are married to other persons, and multiple
alliances of the same married man. Under this regime, only the properties acquired
by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or
industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective
contributions ...[9] Proof of actual contribution is required.[10]
As it is, the regime of limited co-ownership of property governing the union of
parties who are not legally capacitated to marry each other, but who nonetheless live
together as husband and wife, applies to properties acquired during said cohabitation
in proportion to their respective contributions. Co-ownership will only be up to the
extent of the proven actual contribution of money, property or industry. Absent proof
of the extent thereof, their contributions and corresponding shares shall be presumed
to be equal.[11]
Here, although the adulterous cohabitation of the parties commenced in 1983, or way
before the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1998, Article 148 thereof
applies because this provision was intended precisely to fill up the hiatus in Article
144 of the Civil Code.[12] Before Article 148 of the Family Code was enacted, there
was no provision governing property relations of couples living in a state of adultery

or concubinage. Hence, even if the cohabitation or the acquisition of the property


occurred before the Family Code took effect, Article 148 governs.[13]
The applicable law being settled, we now remind the petitioner that here, as in other
civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as determined by the
pleadings or the nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions must be
proved by competent evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of the partys
own evidence and not upon the weakness of the opponents defense. The petitioner
as plaintiff below is not automatically entitled to the relief prayed for. The law gives
the defendant some measure of protection as the plaintiff must still prove the
allegations in the complaint. Favorable relief can be granted only after the court is
convinced that the facts proven by the plaintiff warrant such relief. [14] Indeed, the
party alleging a fact has the burden of proving it and a mere allegation is not
evidence.[15]
It is the petitioners posture that the respondent, having no financial capacity to
acquire the property in question, merely manipulated the dollar bank accounts of his
two (2) corporations to raise the amount needed therefor. Unfortunately for
petitioner, his submissions are burdened by the fact that his claim to the property
contradicts duly written instruments, i.e., the Contract to Sell dated March 24, 1987,
the Deed of Assignment of Redemption dated March 27, 1987 and the Deed of
Transfer datedApril 27, 1987, all entered into by and between the respondent and
the vendor of said property, to the exclusion of the petitioner. As aptly pointed out
by the CA:
Contrary to the disquisition of the trial court, [Lupo] failed to overcome this burden.
Perusing the records of the case, it is evident that the trial court committed errors
of judgment in its findings of fact and appreciation of evidence with regard to the
source of the funds used for the purchase of the disputed property and ultimately
the rightful owner thereof. Factual findings of the trial court are indeed entitled to
respect and shall not be disturbed, unless some facts or circumstances of weight
and substance have been overlooked or misinterpreted that would otherwise
materially affect the disposition of the case.
In making proof of his case, it is paramount that the best and most complete
evidence be formally entered. Rather than presenting proof of his actual
contribution to the purchase money used as consideration for the disputed property,
[Lupo] diverted the burden imposed upon him to [Yolanda] by painting her as a
shrewd and scheming woman without the capacity to purchase any property.

Instead of proving his ownership, or the extent thereof, over the subject property,
[Lupo] relegated his complaint to a mere attack on the financial capacity of
[Yolanda]. He presented documents pertaining to the ins and outs of the dollar
accounts of ENRICO and EURASIAN, which unfortunately failed to prove his
actual contribution in the purchase of the said property. The fact that [Yolanda] had
a limited access to the funds of the said corporations and had repeatedly withdrawn
money from their bank accounts for their behalf do not prove that the money she
used in buying the disputed property, or any property for that matter, came from
said withdrawals.
As it is, the disquisition of the court a quo heavily rested on the apparent financial
capacity of the parties. On one side, there is [Lupo], a retired sea captain and the
President and General Manager of two corporations and on the other is [Yolanda],
a Certified Public Accountant. Surmising that [Lupo] is financially well heeled than
[Yolanda], the court a quo concluded, sans evidence, that [Yolanda] had taken
advantage of [Lupo]. Clearly, the court a quo is in error. (Words in brackets
supplied.)

As we see it, petitioners claim of co-ownership in the disputed property is without


basis because not only did he fail to substantiate his alleged contribution in the
purchase thereof but likewise the very trail of documents pertaining to its purchase
as evidentiary proof redounds to the benefit of the respondent. In contrast, aside from
his mere say so and voluminous records of bank accounts, which sadly find no
relevance in this case, the petitioner failed to overcome his burden of proof.
Allegations must be proven by sufficient evidence. Simply stated, he who alleges a
fact has the burden of proving it; mere allegation is not evidence.
True, the mere issuance of a certificate of title in the name of any person does not
foreclose the possibility that the real property covered thereby may be under coownership with persons not named in the certificate or that the registrant may only
be a trustee or that other parties may have acquired interest subsequent to the
issuance of the certificate of title. However, as already stated, petitioners evidence
in support of his claim is either insufficient or immaterial to warrant the trial courts
finding that the disputed property falls under the purview of Article 148 of the
Family Code. In contrast to petitioners dismal failure to prove his cause, herein
respondent was able to present preponderant evidence of her sole ownership. There
can clearly be no co-ownership when, as here, the respondent sufficiently established
that she derived the funds used to purchase the property from her earnings, not only
as an accountant but also as a businesswoman engaged in foreign currency trading,
money lending and jewelry retail. She presented her clientele and the promissory

notes evincing substantial dealings with her clients. She also presented her bank
account statements and bank transactions, which reflect that she had the financial
capacity to pay the purchase price of the subject property.
All told, the Court finds and so holds that the CA committed no reversible error in
rendering the herein challenged decision and resolution.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and the assailed issuances of the
CA are AFFIRMED.
Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
[6]

Art. 144 - When a man and a woman live together as husband and wife, but they are not married, or their marriage
is void from the beginning, the property acquired by either or both of them through their work or industry or
their wages and salaries shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
[7]
Art. 484. There is co-ownership whenever the ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to different persons.
In default of contracts, or of special provisions, co-ownership shall be governed by the provisions of this Title.
[8]
Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under [Article 147], only the properties acquired by
both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be
owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence of proof
to the contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal. The same
rule and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit.
If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership shall accrue to the
absolute community or conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad
faith is not validly married to another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last
paragraph of the preceding Article.
Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other live exclusively with each other
as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall
be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry
shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to
have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For
purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition of the other party of any property
shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the formers efforts consisted in the
care and maintenance of the family and of the household.
Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the property acquired during
cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of the other, until after the termination of the
cohabitation.
When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in the coownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default or of waiver by any or all
of the common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving
descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent party. In all cases, the
forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation. The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall
likewise apply even if both parties are in bad faith.

SECOND DIVISION

ALAIN M. DIO , G.R. No. 178044


Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


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

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

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

The Antecedent Facts

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

On 30 May 2001, petitioner filed an action for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage


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

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

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

Dr. Nedy L. Tayag (Dr. Tayag), a clinical psychologist, submitted a psychological


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

The Decision of the Trial Court

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

The dispositive portion of the trial courts decision reads:

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

1. Declaring the marriage between plaintiff ALAIN M. DIO and


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

A DECREE OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF MARRIAGE shall only be issued


upon compliance with Article[s] 50 and 51 of the Family Code.

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

SO ORDERED.

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

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

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

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

2) Dissolving the regime of absolute community of property.

A DECREE OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF MARRIAGE shall be issued after


liquidation, partition and distribution of the parties properties under Article 147
of the Family Code.

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

Hence, the petition before this Court.


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

The petition has merit.


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

We agree with petitioner.

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

Article 147 of the Family Code provides:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The final judgment in such cases shall provide for the liquidation, partition and
distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody and support of the
common children, and the delivery of their presumptive legitimes, unless such
matters had been adjudicated in previous judicial proceedings.

All creditors of the spouses as well as of the absolute community of the conjugal
partnership shall be notified of the proceedings for liquidation.

In the partition, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated, shall be
adjudicated in accordance with the provisions of Articles 102 and 129.

Article 51. In said partition, the value of the presumptive legitimes of all
common children, computed as of the date of the final judgment of the trial court,
shall be delivered in cash, property or sound securities, unless the parties, by
mutual agreement judicially approved, had already provided for such matters.

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

It is clear from Article 50 of the Family Code that Section 19(1) of the Rule applies
only to marriages which are declared void ab initio or annulled by final
judgment under Articles 40 and 45 of the Family Code. In short, Article 50 of the
Family Code does not apply to marriages which are declared void ab initio under

Article 36 of the Family Code, which should be declared void without waiting for the
liquidation of the properties of the parties.

Article 40 of the Family Code contemplates a situation where a second or bigamous


marriage was contracted. Under Article 40, [t]he absolute nullity of a previous
marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final
judgment declaring such previous marriage void. Thus we ruled:

x x x where the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked


for purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law,
for said projected marriage to be free from legal infirmity, is a final judgment
declaring a previous marriage void.
11

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

13

14

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

16

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision of the trial court with


the MODIFICATION that the decree of absolute nullity of the marriage shall be
issued upon finality of the trial courts decision without waiting for the liquidation,
partition, and distribution of the parties properties under Article 147 of the Family
Code.
SO ORDERED.
10Article 43. The termination of the subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding Article shall produce the
following effects:
(1) The children of the subsequent marriage conceived prior to its termination shall be considered legitimate
and their custody and support in case of dispute shall be decided by the court in a proper proceeding;
(2) The absolute community of property or the conjugal partnership, as the case may be, shall be dissolved
and liquidated, but if either spouse contracted said marriage in bad faith, his or her share of the net profits of
the community property or conjugal partnership property shall be forfeited in favor of the common children
or, if there are none, the children of the guilty spouse by a previous marriage or in default of children, the
innocent spouse;
(3) Donations by reason of marriage shall remain valid, except that if the donee contracted the marriage in
bad faith, such donations made to said donee are revoked by operation of law;
(4) The innocent spouse may revoke the designation of the other spouse who acted in bad faith as a
beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if such designation be stipulated as irrevocable; and
(5) The spouse who contracted the subsequent marriage in bad faith shall be disqualified to inherit from the
innocent spouse by testate and intestate succession.

Article 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely
of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
Article 45. A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at the time of the marriage:
(1) That the party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was eighteen years of age or over but
below twenty-one, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian or person having
substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after attaining the age of twenty-one, such party
freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife;
(2) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other
as husband and wife;

(3) That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the
facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;
(4) That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the same having
disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;
(5) That either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other and such
incapacity continues and appears to be incurable; or
(6) That either party was afflicted with a sexually transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be
incurable.
15Article 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.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 195670

December 3, 2012

WILLEM BEUMER, Petitioner,


vs.
AVELINA AMORES, Respondent.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of CoLlli assailing
the October 8, 2009 Decision2 and January 24, 2011 Resolution3 of the court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. CV No. 01940, which affirmed the February 28, 2007 Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Negros Oriental, Branch 34 in Civil Case No. I 2884. The foregoing rulings dissolved the
conjugal partnership of gains of Willem Beumer (petitioner) and Avelina Amores (respondent) and
distributed the properties forming part of the said property regime.
The Factual Antecedents
Petitioner, a Dutch National, and respondent, a Filipina, married in March 29, 1980. After several
years, the RTC of Negros Oriental, Branch 32, declared the nullity of their marriage in the
Decision5 dated November 10, 2000 on the basis of the formers psychological incapacity as
contemplated in Article 36 of the Family Code.
Consequently, petitioner filed a Petition for Dissolution of Conjugal Partnership6 dated December 14,
2000 praying for the distribution of the following described properties claimed to have been acquired
during the subsistence of their marriage, to wit:
By Purchase:
a. Lot 1, Block 3 of the consolidated survey of Lots 2144 & 2147 of the Dumaguete Cadastre,
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 22846, containing an area of 252 square
meters (sq.m.), including a residential house constructed thereon.
b. Lot 2142 of the Dumaguete Cadastre, covered by TCT No. 21974, containing an area of
806 sq.m., including a residential house constructed thereon.
c. Lot 5845 of the Dumaguete Cadastre, covered by TCT No. 21306, containing an area of
756 sq.m.
d. Lot 4, Block 4 of the consolidated survey of Lots 2144 & 2147 of the Dumaguete Cadastre,
covered by TCT No. 21307, containing an area of 45 sq.m.
By way of inheritance:

e. 1/7 of Lot 2055-A of the Dumaguete Cadastre, covered by TCT No. 23567, containing an
area of 2,635 sq.m. (the area that appertains to the conjugal partnership is 376.45 sq.m.).
f. 1/15 of Lot 2055-I of the Dumaguete Cadastre, covered by TCT No. 23575, containing an
area of 360 sq.m. (the area that appertains to the conjugal partnership is 24 sq.m.).7
In defense,8 respondent averred that, with the exception of their two (2) residential houses on Lots 1
and 2142, she and petitioner did not acquire any conjugal properties during their marriage, the truth
being that she used her own personal money to purchase Lots 1, 2142, 5845 and 4 out of her
personal funds and Lots 2055-A and 2055-I by way of inheritance.9 She submitted a joint affidavit
executed by her and petitioner attesting to the fact that she purchased Lot 2142 and the
improvements thereon using her own money.10 Accordingly, respondent sought the dismissal of the
petition for dissolution as well as payment for attorneys fees and litigation expenses.11
During trial, petitioner testified that while Lots 1, 2142, 5845 and 4 were registered in the name of
respondent, these properties were acquired with the money he received from the Dutch government
as his disability benefit12since respondent did not have sufficient income to pay for their acquisition.
He also claimed that the joint affidavit they submitted before the Register of Deeds of Dumaguete
City was contrary to Article 89 of the Family Code, hence, invalid.13
For her part, respondent maintained that the money used for the purchase of the lots came
exclusively from her personal funds, in particular, her earnings from selling jewelry as well as
products from Avon, Triumph and Tupperware.14 She further asserted that after she filed for
annulment of their marriage in 1996, petitioner transferred to their second house and brought along
with him certain personal properties, consisting of drills, a welding machine, grinders, clamps, etc.
She alleged that these tools and equipment have a total cost of P500,000.00.15
The RTC Ruling
On February 28, 2007, the RTC of Negros Oriental, Branch 34 rendered its Decision, dissolving the
parties conjugal partnership, awarding all the parcels of land to respondent as her paraphernal
properties; the tools and equipment in favor of petitioner as his exclusive properties; the two (2)
houses standing on Lots 1 and 2142 as co-owned by the parties, the dispositive of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered granting the dissolution of the conjugal partnership of
gains between petitioner Willem Beumer and respondent Avelina Amores considering the fact that
their marriage was previously annulled by Branch 32 of this Court. The parcels of land covered by
Transfer Certificate of Titles Nos. 22846, 21974, 21306, 21307, 23567 and 23575 are hereby
declared paraphernal properties of respondent Avelina Amores due to the fact that while these real
properties were acquired by onerous title during their marital union, Willem Beumer, being a
foreigner, is not allowed by law to acquire any private land in the Philippines, except through
inheritance.
The personal properties, i.e., tools and equipment mentioned in the complaint which were brought
out by Willem from the conjugal dwelling are hereby declared to be exclusively owned by the
petitioner.
The two houses standing on the lots covered by Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 21974 and 22846
are hereby declared to be co-owned by the petitioner and the respondent since these were acquired
during their marital union and since there is no prohibition on foreigners from owning buildings and
residential units. Petitioner and respondent are, thereby, directed to subject this court for approval
their project of partition on the two houses aforementioned.

The Court finds no sufficient justification to award the counterclaim of respondent for attorneys fees
considering the well settled doctrine that there should be no premium on the right to litigate. The
prayer for moral damages are likewise denied for lack of merit.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.16
It ruled that, regardless of the source of funds for the acquisition of Lots 1, 2142, 5845 and 4,
petitioner could not have acquired any right whatsoever over these properties as petitioner still
attempted to acquire them notwithstanding his knowledge of the constitutional prohibition against
foreign ownership of private lands.17 This was made evident by the sworn statements petitioner
executed purporting to show that the subject parcels of land were purchased from the exclusive
funds of his wife, the herein respondent.18 Petitioners plea for reimbursement for the amount he had
paid to purchase the foregoing properties on the basis of equity was likewise denied for not having
come to court with clean hands.
The CA Ruling
Petitioner elevated the matter to the CA, contesting only the RTCs award of Lots 1, 2142, 5845 and
4 in favor of respondent. He insisted that the money used to purchase the foregoing properties came
from his own capital funds and that they were registered in the name of his former wife only because
of the constitutional prohibition against foreign ownership. Thus, he prayed for reimbursement of
one-half (1/2) of the value of what he had paid in the purchase of the said properties, waiving the
other half in favor of his estranged ex-wife.19
On October 8, 2009, the CA promulgated a Decision20 affirming in toto the judgment rendered by the
RTC of Negros Oriental, Branch 34. The CA stressed the fact that petitioner was "well-aware of the
constitutional prohibition for aliens to acquire lands in the Philippines."21 Hence, he cannot invoke
equity to support his claim for reimbursement.
Consequently, petitioner filed the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the CA Decision
due to the following error:
UNDER THE FACTS ESTABLISHED, THE COURT ERRED IN NOT SUSTAINING THE
PETITIONERS ATTEMPT AT SUBSEQUENTLY ASSERTING OR CLAIMING A RIGHT OF HALF
OR WHOLE OF THE PURCHASE PRICE USED IN THE PURCHASE OF THE REAL PROPERTIES
SUBJECT OF THIS CASE.22 (Emphasis supplied)
The Ruling of the Court
The petition lacks merit.
The issue to be resolved is not of first impression. In In Re: Petition For Separation of PropertyElena Buenaventura Muller v. Helmut Muller23 the Court had already denied a claim for
reimbursement of the value of purchased parcels of Philippine land instituted by a foreigner Helmut
Muller, against his former Filipina spouse, Elena Buenaventura Muller. It held that Helmut Muller
cannot seek reimbursement on the ground of equity where it is clear that he willingly and knowingly
bought the property despite the prohibition against foreign ownership of Philippine land24 enshrined
under Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which reads:

Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed
except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public
domain.
Undeniably, petitioner openly admitted that he "is well aware of the above-cited constitutional
prohibition"25 and even asseverated that, because of such prohibition, he and respondent registered
the subject properties in the latters name.26 Clearly, petitioners actuations showed his palpable
intent to skirt the constitutional prohibition. On the basis of such admission, the Court finds no
reason why it should not apply the Muller ruling and accordingly, deny petitioners claim for
reimbursement.
As also explained in Muller, the time-honored principle is that he who seeks equity must do equity,
and he who comes into equity must come with clean hands. Conversely stated, he who has done
inequity shall not be accorded equity. Thus, a litigant may be denied relief by a court of equity on the
ground that his conduct has been inequitable, unfair and dishonest, or fraudulent, or deceitful.27
In this case, petitioners statements regarding the real source of the funds used to purchase the
subject parcels of land dilute the veracity of his claims: While admitting to have previously executed
a joint affidavit that respondents personal funds were used to purchase Lot 1,28 he likewise claimed
that his personal disability funds were used to acquire the same. Evidently, these inconsistencies
show his untruthfulness. Thus, as petitioner has come before the Court with unclean hands, he is
now precluded from seeking any equitable refuge.
In any event, the Court cannot, even on the grounds of equity, grant reimbursement to petitioner
given that he acquired no right whatsoever over the subject properties by virtue of its
unconstitutional purchase. It is well-established that equity as a rule will follow the law and will not
permit that to be done indirectly which, because of public policy, cannot be done directly.29 Surely, a
contract that violates the Constitution and the law is null and void, vests no rights, creates no
obligations and produces no legal effect at all.30 Corollary thereto, under Article 1412 of the Civil
Code,31 petitioner cannot have the subject properties deeded to him or allow him to recover the
money he had spent for the purchase thereof. The law will not aid either party to an illegal contract
or agreement; it leaves the parties where it finds them.32 Indeed, one cannot salvage any rights from
an unconstitutional transaction knowingly entered into.
Neither can the Court grant petitioners claim for reimbursement on the basis of unjust
enrichment.33 As held in Frenzel v. Catito, a case also involving a foreigner seeking monetary
reimbursement for money spent on purchase of Philippine land, the provision on unjust enrichment
does not apply if the action is proscribed by the Constitution, to wit:
Futile, too, is petitioner's reliance on Article 22 of the New Civil Code which reads:
Art. 22. Every person who through an act of performance by another, or any other means, acquires
or comes into possession of something at the expense of the latter without just or legal ground, shall
return the same to him.
1wphi 1

The provision is expressed in the maxim: "MEMO CUM ALTERIUS DETER DETREMENTO
PROTEST" (No person should unjustly enrich himself at the expense of another). An action for
recovery of what has been paid without just cause has been designated as an accion in rem verso.
This provision does not apply if, as in this case, the action is proscribed by the Constitution or by the
application of the pari delicto doctrine. It may be unfair and unjust to bar the petitioner from filing an
accion in rem verso over the subject properties, or from recovering the money he paid for the said
properties, but, as Lord Mansfield stated in the early case of Holman v. Johnson: "The objection that

a contract is immoral or illegal as between the plaintiff and the defendant, sounds at all times very ill
in the mouth of the defendant. It is not for his sake, however, that the objection is ever allowed; but it
is founded in general principles of policy, which the defendant has the advantage of, contrary to the
real justice, as between him and the plaintiff."34 (Citations omitted)
Nor would the denial of his claim amount to an injustice based on his foreign citizenship.35 Precisely,
it is the Constitution itself which demarcates the rights of citizens and non-citizens in owning
Philippine land. To be sure, the constitutional ban against foreigners applies only to ownership of
Philippine land and not to the improvements built thereon, such as the two (2) houses standing on
Lots 1 and 2142 which were properly declared to be co-owned by the parties subject to partition.
Needless to state, the purpose of the prohibition is to conserve the national patrimony36 and it is this
policy which the Court is duty-bound to protect.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Accordingly, the assailed October 8, 2009 Decision and
January 24, 2011 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 01940 are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Footnotes
Re: Art. 1412. If the act in which the unlawful or forbidden cause consists does not
constitute a criminal offense, the following rules shall be observed:
31

(1) When the fault is on the part of both contracting parties, neither may recover what
he has given by virtue of the contract, or demand the performance of the other's
undertaking