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SUPREME COURT – FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 218630 January 11, 2018

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner vs.


KATRINA S. TOBORA-TIONGLICO, Respondent

TIJAM, J.:

FACTS:

Respondent Katrina S. Tabora-Tionglico (Katrina) filed a petition for declaration of nullity of her
marriage with Lawrence C. Tionglico (Lawrence) on the ground of psychological incapacity under
Article 36 of the Family Code.

Katrina and Lawrence met sometime in 1997 through a group of mutual friends. After a brief
courtship, they entered into a relationship. When she got pregnant, they got married on July 22,
2000.

However, they quarreled a lot even during the early stage of their marriage and as early as their
honeymoon. When their child was born, Lawrence was distant and did not help in rearing their
child, saying he knew nothing about children and how to run a family. He spent almost every night
out for late dinners, parties and drinking sprees. Katrina said that Lawrence suffered from a very
high degree of immaturity and was alarmingly dependent on his mother. He would repeatedly
taunt Katrina to fight with him and they lost all intimacy between them as he insisted to have a
maid sleep in their bedroom every night to see to the needs of Lanz. He also questioned any and
all of Katrina’s decisions. Most fights ended up in full blown arguments, often in front of Lanz. In
2003, due to their incessant fighting, Lawrence asked Katrina to leave his parents' home and
never to come back. They have been separated in fact since then.

Katrina consulted with a psychiatrist, Dr. Juan Arellano (Dr. Arellano), who confirmed her beliefs
on Lawrence's psychological incapacity. Dr. Arellano, based on the narrations of Katrina,
diagnosed Lawrence with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The RTC granted the petition and declared the marriage of Katrina and Lawrence as void ab initio.
The CA affirmed the RTC decision.

The Republic through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) opposed the decision of the
appellate court on the ground that the psychological assessment of Dr. Arellano is considered as
hearsay evidence. Hence, it filed this current petition for review on certiorari.

ISSUE: Whether the totality of evidence presented by Katrina supports the findings of both the
RTC and the CA that Lawrence is psychologically incapacitated to perform his essential marital
obligations.

RULING:

No. The Supreme Court reversed and set aside the decision of the CA affirming the decision of
the RTC declaring the marriage of Katrina and Lawrence as void ab initio.

Using the standards laid down in the case of Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, the
Supreme Court find that Katrina failed to sufficiently prove that Lawrence is psychologically
incapacitated to discharge the duties expected of a husband.

Indeed, and We have oft-repeated that the trial courts, as in all the other cases they try, must
always base their judgments not solely on the expert opinions presented by the parties but on the
totality of evidence adduced in the course of their proceedings. Here, We find the totality of
evidence clearly wanting.
First, Dr. Arellano's findings that Lawrence is psychologically incapacitated were based solely on
Katrina's statements. It bears to stress that Lawrence, despite notice, did not participate in the
proceedings below, nor was he interviewed by Dr. Arellano despite being invited to do so.

There was simply no other basis for Dr. Arellano to conclude that Lawrence was psychologically
incapacitated to perform his essential marital obligations apart from Katrina's self-serving
statements. To make conclusions and generalizations on a spouse's psychological condition
based on the information fed by only one side, as in the case at bar, is, to the Court's mind, not
different from admitting hearsay evidence as proof of the truthfulness of the content of such
evidence.

Second, the testimony of Katrina as regards the behavior of Lawrence hardly depicts the picture
of a psychologically incapacitated husband. Their frequent fights, his insensitivity, immaturity and
frequent night-outs can hardly be said to be a psychological illness. These acts, in our view, do
not rise to the level of the "psychological incapacity" that the law requires, and should be
distinguished from the "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of some
marital obligations that characterize some marriages. It is not enough to prove that a spouse failed
to meet his responsibility and duty as a married person; it is essential that he must be shown to
be incapable of doing so due to some psychological illness. The psychological illness that must
afflict a party at the inception of the marriage should be a malady so grave and permanent as to
deprive the party of his or her awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond
he or she was then about to assume.

No other evidence or witnesses were presented by Katrina to prove Lawrence's alleged


psychological incapacity. Basic is the rule that bare allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence, are
not equivalent to proof, i.e., mere allegations are not evidence. Here, we reiterate that apart from
the psychiatrist, Katrina did not present other witnesses to substantiate her allegations on
Lawrence's psychological incapacity. Her testimony, therefore, is considered self-serving and had
no serious evidentiary value.
SUPREME COURT – FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 210766 January 8, 2018

MARIA CONCEPCION N. SINGSON a.k.a. CONCEPCION N. SINGSON, Petitioner vs.


BENJAMIN L. SINGSON, Respondent

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

FACTS:

On February 27, 2007, Maria Concepcion N. Singson (petitioner) filed a Petition for declaration of
nullity of marriage based on Article 36 of the Family Code.

It was alleged that on July 6, 1974, petitioner and Benjamin L. Singson (respondent) were married
at St. Francis Church, Mandaluyong, Rizal; that said marriage produced four children, all of whom
are now of legal age; that when they started living together, petitioner noticed that respondent
was "dishonest, unreasonably extravagant at the expense of the family's welfare, extremely vain
physically and spiritually," and a compulsive gambler; that respondent was immature, and was
unable to perform his paternal duties; that respondent was also irresponsible, an easy-going man,
and guilty of infidelity; that respondent's abnormal behavior made him completely
unable to render any help, support, or assistance to her; and that because she could expect no
help or assistance at all from respondent she was compelled to work doubly hard to support her
family as the sole breadwinner.

Petitioner also averred that at the time she filed this Petition, respondent was confined at Metro
Psych Facility a rehabilitation institution in Pasig City; and that respondent's attending
psychiatrist, Dr. Benita Sta. Ana-Ponio (Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio), diagnosed him to be suffering from
Pathological Gambling and Personality Disorder which can be traced back to his adolescence.
Petitioner moreover asserted that respondent came from a "distraught" family and had a
"dysfunctional" childhood. Petitioner added that unknown to her, respondent even as a high
school student, was already betting on jai alai. All these put together, hinder the respondent from
performing his marital obligations.

The RTC granted the Petition and declared the marriage between petitioner and respondent
void ab initio on the ground of the latter’s psychological incapacity. The RTC ruled that the
requisites warranting a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the family Code are
present in the instant case because the totality of evidence showed that respondent is suffering
from a psychological condition that is grave, incurable, and has juridical antecedence.

The CA overturned the decision of the RTC. The CA held that the totality of evidence presented
by petitioner failed to establish respondent's alleged psychological incapacity to perform the
essential marital obligations, which in this case, was not at all proven to be grave or serious, much
less incurable, and furthermore was not existing at the time of the marriage.

ISSUE: Whether the respondent's psychological incapacity had been duly proved, including its
juridical antecedence, incurability, and gravity.

RULING:

No. The Supreme Court agree with the CA that the evidence on record does not establish that
respondent's psychological incapacity was grave and serious as defined by jurisprudential
parameters since "respondent had a job; provided money for the family from the sale of his
property; provided the land where the family home was built on; and lived in the family home with
petitioner-appellee and their children."

By contrast, petitioner did not proffer any convincing proof that respondent’s mere confinement at
the rehabilitation center confirmed the gravity of the latter’s psychological incapacity. Neither does
petitioner’s bare claim that respondent is a pathological gambler, is irresponsible, and is unable
to keep a job, necessarily translate into unassailable proof that respondent is psychologically
incapacitated to perform the essential marital obligations. It is settled that "psychological
incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code contemplates an incapacity or inability to take
cognizance of and to assume basic marital obligations, and is not merely the difficulty, refusal, or
neglect in the performance of marital obligations or ill will. It is not enough to prove that a spouse
failed to meet his responsibility and duty as a married person; it is essential that he or she must
be shown to be incapable of doing so because of some psychological, not physical, illness."

Nor can Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio's testimony in open court and her Clinical Summary be taken for
gospel truth in regard to the charge that respondent is afflicted with utter inability to appreciate his
marital obligations.

Furthermore, "habitual drunkenness, gambling and failure to find a job, while undoubtedly
negative traits are nowhere nearly the equivalent of ‘psychological incapacity’, in the absence of
incontrovertible proof that these are manifestations of an incapacity rooted in some debilitating
psychological condition or illness."

Well-entrenched is the rule that "there must be proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor
that effectively incapacitated the respondent spouse from complying with the basic marital
obligations. A cause has to be shown and linked with the manifestations of the psychological
incapacity."

To support her Article 36 petition, petitioner ought to have adduced convincing, competent and
trustworthy evidence to establish the cause of respondent's alleged psychological incapacity
and that the same antedated their marriage. "'Unless the evidence presented clearly reveals a
situation where the parties or one of them, by reason of a grave and incurable psychological
illness existing at the time the marriage was celebrated, was incapacitated to fulfill the
obligations of marital life (and thus could not then have validly entered into a marriage), then we
are compelled to uphold the indissolubility of the marital tie."
SUPREME COURT – SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 210518 APRIL 18, 2018

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner vs.


MARTIN NIKOLAI Z. JAVIER and MICHELLE K. MERCADO-JAVIER, Respondents

REYES, JR., J.:

FACTS:

Martin and Michelle were married on February 8, 2002.

On November 20, 2008, Martin filed a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage and Joint
Custody of their Common Minor Child under Article 36 of the Family Code. He alleged that both
he and Michelle were psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of
marriage. In order to support the allegations in his petition, Martin testified on his own behalf, and
presented the psychological findings of Dr. Elias D. Adamos (i.e., Psychological Evaluation
Report on Martin and Psychological Impression Report on Michelle).

In the Psychological Impression Report, Dr. Adamos diagnosed both of them with Narcissistic
Personality Disorder. Their disorder was considered grave and incurable, and rendered Martin
and Michelle incapacitated to perform the essential obligations of marriage. Dr. Adamos further
testified before the RTC to provide his expert opinion, and stated that with respect to the
Psychological Impression Report on Michelle, the informants were Martin and the respondents'
common friend, Jose Vicente Luis Serra Jose Vicente. He was unable to evaluate Michelle
because she did not respond to Dr. Adamos' earlier request to come in for psychological
evaluation.

The RTC dismissed the petition for failure to establish a sufficient basis for the declaration of
nullity of the respondents' marriage. The court found that Martin’s testimony is not supportive of
the Dr. Adamos’ diagnosis that he is incapacitated to comply with his essential marital obligations.
As to Michelle's alleged psychological incapacity, the Court finds Martin's testimony to be self-
serving and Dr. Adamos' findings to be without sufficient basis.

The CA reversed the RTC decision and declared the marriage null and void ab initio under Article
36 of the Family Code due to both respondents’ psychologically incapacity. Hence, this petition
which is initiated by the Republic.

ISSUE: Whether or not it was sufficiently established that both respondents were psychologically
incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of marriage.

RULING:

The Court ruled that the totality of evidence supports the finding that Martin is psychologically
incapacitated to perform the essential obligations of marriage. However, the Court disagrees with
the CA’s findings that Michelle was psychologically incapacitated.

The Court clarified in Marcos v. Marcos that for purposes of establishing the psychological
incapacity of a spouse, it is not required that a physician conduct an actual medical examination
of the person concerned. It is enough that the totality of evidence is strong enough to sustain the
finding of psychological incapacity. In such case, however, the petitioner bears a greater burden
in proving the gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability of the other spouse's psychological
incapacity.

Martin, as the petitioner in this case, submitted several pieces of evidence to support his petition
for declaration of nullity of marriage. He testified as to his own psychological incapacity and that
of his spouse, Michelle. The psychological findings of Dr. Adamos were also presented in the trial
court to corroborate his claim. Martin was also subjected to several psychological tests, as a result
of which, Dr. Adamos diagnosed him with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Additionally, the
diagnosis was based on Dr. Adamos' personal interviews of Martin, who underwent several-or to
be accurate, more than 10-counselling sessions with Dr. Adamos from 2008 to 2009. These facts
were uncontroverted by the Republic.

These circumstances, taken together, prove the three essential characteristics of psychological
incapacity on the part of Martin. As such, insofar as the psychological incapacity of Martin is
concerned, the CA did not commit a reversible error in declaring the marriage of the
respondents null and void under Article 36 of the Family Code.

With respect to Michele’s psychological incapacity, the Court disagrees with the CA's
findings that Michelle was psychologically incapacitated. We cannot absolutely rely on the
Psychological Impression Report on Michelle. There were no other independent evidence
establishing the root cause or juridical antecedence of Michelle's alleged psychological incapacity.
While this Court cannot discount their first-hand observations, it is highly unlikely that they were
able to paint Dr. Adamos a complete picture of Michelle's family and childhood history. The
records do not show that Michelle and Jose Vicente were childhood friends, while Martin, on the
other hand, was introduced to Michelle during their adulthood. Either Martin or Jose Vicente, as
third persons outside the family of Michelle, could not have known about her childhood, how she
was raised, and the dysfunctional nature of her family. Without a credible source of her supposed
childhood trauma, Dr. Adamos was not equipped with enough information from which he may
reasonably conclude that Michelle is suffering from a chronic and persistent disorder that is grave
and incurable.