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RONALD C.

LARA
MSU College of Law Iligan City Extension, Teehankee – I, Persons and Family Relations

REPUBLIC VERSUS NOLASCO


G.R. No. 94053
Promulgated March 17, 1993
Petitioner: Republic of the Philippines
In Behalf of the Petitioner: The Solicitor General
Respondent: Gregorio Nolasco
In Behalf of the Respondent: Warloo G. Cardenal
Ponente: J. Feleciano

THE FACTS

Nolasco, a seaman, married a certain Janet Monica Parker, a British subject, in Antique in 1982 a
couple of years after they met in a bar in England. After the marriage celebration, Nolasco left his
wife with his parents in Antique to resume work overseas. While overseas, Nolasco received a letter
from his mother saying his wife gave birth to their son and left Antique barely 15 days after.

Respondent alleged that he cut his contract short to go home in Antique upon learning of his wife’s
disappearance. He further alleged that he took efforts of locating his wife’s whereabouts, such as
writing her letters addressed to the bar where they first met, asking their common friends and
contracting another job in Britain so he could look for her there.

On August 1988, Nolasco filed before the Antique RTC a petition for the declaration of Presumptive
Death of his wife, invoking Article 41 of the Family Code. Said petition contains an alternative prayer
that the marriage be declared null and void.

Republic argued that Nolasco did not possess a well founded belief that his wife is already dead.
However, the RTC on Octerber 12, 1988 granted Nolasco’s petition for the declaration of Presumptive
death of his wife, without prejudice to her reappearance. Herein petitioner Republic appealed the
decision in the Court of Appeals, which, however, affirmed the RTC’s decision. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE

Whether or Not Nolasco has a well founded belief that his wife, Janet, is already dead.

RULING

Nolasco does not possess a well founded belief that his wife is already dead. Thus, the decision of
the Court of Appeals affirming the trial court’s decision is reversed, nullified and set-aside by the
Supreme Court. The decision carried costs against the respondent.

The Court believes that Nolasco failed to conduct a search for his missing wife with such diligence as
to give rise to a “well-founded belief” that she is dead. The search done by Nolasco was too sketchy
to form a basis of a reasonable or well-founded belief. Respondent did not seek the help of the local
authorities in Antique, nor of the British Embassy. The letters sent by him to London which was all
returned to sender was allegedly lost and cannot be presented in court. The respondent’s alleged
search effort in England is inherently futile owning to England’s vastness in population and land area.

The Court further stated that the espouses should not be allowed, by simple expedient of agreeing
that one of them leave the conjugal abode and never to return again, to circumvent the policy of the
laws on marriage. The Court notes the respondent even tried to have his marriage annulled before
the trial court in the same proceeding. The Court warned against such collusion between the parties
RONALD C. LARA
MSU College of Law Iligan City Extension, Teehankee – I, Persons and Family Relations

when they find it impossible to dissolve the marital bonds through existing legal means. The law does
not view marriage like an ordinary contract.