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[No.

L-19671] [Tenchavez vs Escaño]


Summarized by Anton Mendoza

A petition concerning the validity of the secret marriage between Vicenta Escano and
the subsequent divorce obtained abroad as well as the marriage contracted by
Vicenta in light of the divorce obtained.

Important People:
Vicenta Escaño, Memerto and Mena Escaño (Respondents)
Pastor Tenchavez (Petitioner)
Russel Leo Moran (2nd husband)

FACTS: (In order of chronological events)

Vicenta Escaño and Pastor Tenchavez, both deeply in love, were engaged and had
planned for their marital future. They saved money and even designated their
matchmaker, Pacita Noel, to be the governess of their first-born.
Vicenta was currently a 27 year old, second year student of commerce in the
University of San Carlos in Cebu City from a prominent Filipino family with
Spanish ancestry. Described as a “sheltered colegiala”
Pastor was a 32 year old engineer and ex army officer “of undistinguished
stock”
Weeks before their secret marriage, Vicenta returned the engagement ring and
entertained another suitor: Jostling Lao
Vicenta asked for Pastor back and they reconciled. They planned to elope the
following midnight after the wedding.
24 Feb 1948 - Vicenta Escaño, without her parents’ knowledge, exchanged
marriage vows with Pastor Tenchavez before Catholic chaplain Lt. Moises Lavares
in the house of Juan Alburo. Vicenta returned to her classes after her wedding
only to find her mother who had found out about her nuptial intentions. She was
brought home and then revealed to Memento and Mena Escaño and that she was
already married, to the surprise and disgust of her parents.
25 Feb 1948 - They sought priestly advice from Father Reynes who suggested
that they recelebrate what he saw as an invalid marriage because of the lack of
authority from the Archbishop or parish priest.
26 Feb 1948 - A maid handed to Mamerto Escaño an unnamed letter purportedly
from San Carlos college students revealing an amorous relationship between
Pastor and Pacita. The recelebration was called off. She continued to live with her
parents and as time went by, the exchange of letters between Pastor and Vicenta
became less frequent.
Jun 1948 - Vicenta went to Jimenez, Misamis Occidental, to escape the scandal
of her marriage. Her lawyer filed for her a petition (drafted by Senator Emmanuel
Pelaez) to annul her marriage but she did not sign it, neither did she appear at
the hearing.
24 Jun 1950 - Without her husband’s knowledge, Vicenta applied for a passport,
indicating that she was single with the intention to study abroad and return after
2 years. This was approved and she left for the US.
22 Aug 1950 - Vicenta filed for divorce in Nevada in the ground of “extreme
cruelty, entirely mental in character”
21 Oct 1950 - divorce became final and absolute
1951 - Mamerto and Menga Escaño filed a petition with the Archbishop of Cebu
to annul Vicenta’s marriage
10 Sept 1954 - Vicenta sought papal dispensation of her marriage
13 Sept 1954 - Vicenta married an American, Russell Leo Moran, in Nevada, and
lived with him and their children in California.
8 Aug 1958 - Vicenta acquired US citizenship
30 Jul 1955 - Pastor Tenchavez filed a complaint in the CFI of Cebu, amended
on 31 May 1956, against Vicenta, her parents (for discouraging Vicenta from
joining her husband), and the Roman Catholic Church (for decreeing the
annulment of the marriage). He asked for legal separation and P1M in
damages.
Vicenta claimed that both her present marriage and the divorce was valid while
her parents denied any influence over their daughter’s actions
decision: no legal separation but Tenchavez was freed from supporting his wife
and allowed to acquire property exclusively. Damages for P45,000 were also
demanded from Tenchavez to the benefit of the parents.

ISSUE(s):
Whether the marriage between Vicenta Escaño and Pastor Tenchavez was valid
Whether the divorce between Vicenta Escaño and Pastor Tenchavez was valid
Whether the subsequent marriage between Vicenta and Russel Leo Moran was
valid
Whether the parents were guilty of alienating Tenchavez from Vicenta’s affections

HOLDING:
Marriage was VOIDABLE, but still valid and subsistent.
Essential and formal requisites were complied with (under Act 3613, Sec. 1).
Even assuming that the formal requisites were not complied with, this would not
invalidate the marriage (Act 3613, Sec. 27)
both were above the age of majority and both consented to the marriage
the marriage was performed by a Catholic priest (chaplain Lavares) in the
presence of competent witnesses. Nowhere does it say that the priest was not
authorised under civil law to solemnise marriages and even if he wasn’t, the
parties believed in good faith that he was, rendering the marriage legal.
Vicenta’s act of abandoning the action for annulment and subsequently filing
for divorce implies an admission that the marriage was valid and binding.
the respondent argued that her consent was due to the undue influence of
Pacita Noel but even this only renders it voidable until annulled by a civil court
but this was never done.

2. The marriage was not dissolved despite the decree of absolute divorce
obtained in Nevada because Vicenta was still subject to PH laws as a Filipino
citizen subject to Art. 15 of the Civil Code.
the Civil Code of the PH does not recognise absolute divorce, neither does it use
the term. it only provides for legal separation which maintains marriage bonds
nonetheless.
the recognition of a divorce obtained abroad would be a violation of public policy
and Art. 17(3) of the Civil Code
granting the divorce would also discriminate against those without the resources
to travel abroad

3. The subsequent marriage is invalid and Vicente, given her marriage and
cohabitation with Russel Leo Moran, is technically guilty of “intercourse with
a person not her husband”
given the subsistence of her previous marriage, the current marriage cannot be
recognised as legal under our laws
entitles Tenchavez to a decree of “legal separation on the basis of adultery” (RVP,
Art. 333)
this is supported by Ramirez vs. Gmur which rendered a divorce abroad and the
subsequent marriage invalid

4. Parents are not guilty of alienating Tenchavez from the affections of his
wife.
the law recognises the parent’s right to interest himself in the marital affairs of
his child
a parent is only liable if there is malicious conduct but where he acts and advises
the child in good faith, there is no wrongdoing (Sec. 529)
in this case, nothing shows that they were against the marriage or that they
would have prohibited Tenchavez from marrying their daughter had he complied
with good manners and asked for her hand in marriage. In fact, they even
prepared for the recelebration of the marriage to validate its sanctity. Everything
that led to the end of their relations was a consequence of the independent
actions of Vicenta.

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