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Tenchavez v Escano

15 SCRA 355, Nov. 29, 1965


Ponente: Reyes, J.B.L., J.

I. Terms:
Divorce, Art. 15 of NCC
II. Reliefs Sought
Direct Appeal, on factual and legal questions, from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of
Cebu, in its Civil Case No. R-4177, denying the claim of Pastor Tenchavez, for legal seperation and one
million pesos in damages against his wife and parents-in-law, the defendants-appellees Vicente, Mamerto,
and Mena, All surnamed Escano, respectively

III. Facts
Vicenta (27 years old) and Pastor (32 years old), an engaged couple, had plans on eloping the
day after their marriage. On Feb. 24, 1948, Vicenta Escano exchanged marriage vows with Pastor
Tenchavez before a Catholic chaplain (Lt. Moises Lavares), in the house of Juan Alburo in Cebu City.
However, the day after the marriage, the elopement did not happen when Vicentas mother, who got wind
of the intended nuptials, was already waiting for her at the college when the former went back to her
classes. Vicentas mother took her home and then the latter admitted that she already married Pastor.
Vicentas parents, Mamerto and Mena Escano, were surprised because Pastor never asked for the hand of
their daughter and were disgusted because of the great scandal that the clandestine marriage would
provoke. After the Escano couple seeked advice from a priest, the latter suggested a recelebration to
validate what he believed to be an invalid marriage due to the lack of authority from the archbishop or the
parish priest for the officiating chaplain to celebrate the marriage. However, on Feb. 26, 1948, the
recelebration did not happen when Vicentas father received a letter from a maid that petitioner and Pacita
Noel had an amorous relationship. Vicenta translated the letter to her father, and thereafter would not
agree to a new marriage. Vicenta continued living with her parents while Pastor returned to his work in
Manila.
On June 1948, the newlyweds were already estranged when Escanos letters became less
frequent as the days passed. Vicenta went to Jimenez, Misamis Occidental to escape from the scandal that
her marriage stirred in Cebu. There, a lawyer filed for her a petition, drafted by Senator Emmanuel Pelaez,
to annul her marriage with Pastor. However, she did not sign the petition and the case was dismissed
because of her non-appearance at the hearing.
On June 24, 1950, Vicenta applied for a passport, indicating in her application that she was
single, that her purpose was to study, and she was domiciled in Cebu, and that she intended to return
after two years, without telling her husband. When she was able to go to the United States, she filed a
divorce against Pastor in the Second Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada in and for the county of
Washoe, on the ground of extreme cruelty, entirely mental in character. On October 21, 1950, a decree of
divorce, final and absolute, was issued in open court in said tribunal.
In 1951, Vicentas parents filed a petition with the Archbishop of Cebu to annul the marriage of
Vicenta and Pastor. On Sept. 10, 1954, Vicenta sought papal dispensation of her marriage.
On Sept. 13, 1954, Vicenta got married with an American, Russell Leo Moran, and had children.
She acquired her American citizenship on August 8, 1958. But on July 30, 1955, Tenchavez filed a
complaint against Vicenta and her parents, whom he charged with having dissuaded and discouraged
Vicenta from from joining her husband, and alienating her affections, and against the Roman Catholic
Church, for having, through its Diocesan Tribunal, decreed the annulment of marriage, and asked for legal
separation and one million pesos (P1,000,000) in damages. Vicenta claimed a valid divorce and a legal
marriage to her new husband while her parents denied that they influenced their daughters acts, and
counterclaimed for moral damages.
The appealed judgment did not decree a legal separation, but freed the plaintiff from supporting
his wife and to acquire property to the exclusion of his wife. However, it allowed the counterclaim to
Mamerto Escano and Mena Escano for moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees against Pastor.

IV. Issue
(1) W/N the marriage of Temchavez and Escanos valid
(2) W/N the divorce sought by Vicenta in the US is valid in RP
(3) W/N Vicentas marriage with Moran is valid

V. Ruling
(1) Yes. The court ruled that the marriage between Tenchavez and Escano is valid because:
(a) They were both above the age of majority
(b) Both consented to their marriage
(c) The priest that solemnized their marriage is authorized under civil law. However,
when the chaplains alleged lack of ecclesiastical authorization from the parish priest and the Ordinary, as
required by Canon law, is irrelevant in our civil law because of Art. 3613 of the Philippine Legislature,
which stated that essential requisites for marriage are the legal capacity of the contracting
parties and consent. The court also stated that the actual authority of the solemnizing officer was thus
only a requirement, and, therefore, not essential to give marriage civil effects. In Section 27 of said
marriage act, it is stated that a marriage will not be invalid if when it was performed, the spouses
believed in good faith that the person who solemnized the marriage was authorized to do so.
(d) The act of Vicenta abandoning her original action for annulment and subsequently
suing for divorce implies an admission that her marriage to plaintiff was valid and binding
(e) With Vicentas claim that she was influenced by Pacita Noel to get married with
Tenchavez, the court stated that it did not render her marriage ab initio, but merely voidable, and the
marriage remained valid until annulled by a competent civil court.

(2) No. Because:


(a) When Vicenta filed for divorce in the US, her marriage with Tenchavez was still
subsisting
(b) She was a Filipino citizen when she filed for divorce, thus, still subject to Phillipine
laws according to Art. 5 of CC
(c) RP does not admit divorce and only provides for legal separation
(d) It is in violation of Art. 17 of CC

(3) No. Because Vicentas marriage with Tenchavez is not nullified, thus her marriage with Moran is
adulterous (RPC, ART. 333)

Petition Modified.

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