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Carlos vs Sandoval by Howard on November 19, 2010 1 Comment Teofilo Carlos and petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos were

e brothers who each have three parcels of land by virtue of inheritance. Later Teofilo died intestate. He was survived by respondents Felicidad Sandoval and their son, Teofilo Carlos II. Upon Teofilos death, two parcels of land were registered in the name of Felicidad and Teofilo II. In August 1995, Carlos commenced an action against respondents before the court a quo. In his complaint, Carlos asserted that the marriage between his late brother and Felicidad was a nullity in view of the absence of the required marriage license. He likewise maintained that his deceased brother was neither the natural nor the adoptive father of Teofilo Carlos II. He argued that the properties covered by such certificates of title, including the sums received by respondents as proceeds, should be reconveyed to him. HELD: The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage must be proved. Neither judgment on the pleadings nor summary judgment is allowed. So is confession of judgment disallowed. Carlos argues that the CA should have applied Rule 35 of the Rules of Court governing summary judgment, instead of the rule on judgment on the pleadings. Petitioner is misguided. Whether it is based on judgment on the pleadings or summary judgment, the CA was correct in reversing the summary judgment rendered by the trial court. Both the rules on judgment on the pleadings and summary judgments have no place in cases of declaration of absolute nullity of marriage and even in annulment of marriage. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or wife. Exceptions: (1) Nullity of marriage cases commenced before the effectivity of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC; and (2) Marriages celebrated

during the effectivity of the Civil Code. Under the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may not be filed by any party outside of the marriage. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they do not have a legal right to file the petition. Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the death of their predecessor, and, hence, can only question the validity of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts. On the other hand, the concern of the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its dissolution. The Rule extends only to marriages entered into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988. The advent of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages marks the beginning of the end of the right of the heirs of the deceased spouse to bring a nullity of marriage case against the surviving spouse. But the Rule never intended to deprive the compulsory or intestate heirs of their successional rights. While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife, it does not mean that the compulsory or intestate heirs are without any recourse under the law. They can still protect their successional right, for, as stated in the Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the validity of the marriage of the spouses, not in a proceeding for declaration of nullity but upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts. It is emphasized, however, that the Rule does not apply to cases already commenced before March 15, 2003 although the marriage involved is within the coverage of the Family Code. This is so, as the new Rule which became effective on March 15, 2003 is prospective in its application. Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage case against respondent Felicidad in 1995. The marriage in controversy was celebrated on May 14, 1962. Which law would govern depends upon when the marriage took place. The marriage having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable law is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration. But the Civil Code is silent as to who may bring an action to declare the marriage void. Does this mean that any person can bring an action for the declaration of nullity of marriage? True, under the New Civil Code which is the law in force at the time the respondents were married, or even in the Family Code, there is no specific provision as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of marriage; however, only a party who can demonstrate proper

interest can file the same. A petition to declare the nullity of marriage, like any other actions, must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest and must be based on a cause of action. Thus, in Nial v. Badayog, the Court held that the children
have the personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage of their deceased father to their stepmother as it affects their successional rights

Ma. Armida Amy Perez-Ferraris vs Brix Ferraris 19112010

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Article 36: Psychological Incapacity


Armida and Brix are showbiz couple. The couples relationship before the marriage and even during their brief union (for well about a year or so) was not all bad. During that relatively short period of time, Armida was happy and contented with her life in the company of Brix. Armida even admits that Brix was a responsible and loving husband. Their problems began when Armida started doubting Brix fidelity. It was only when they started fighting about the calls from women that Brix began to withdraw into his shell and corner, and failed to perform his so-called marital obligations. Brix could not understand Armidas lack of trust in him and her constant naggings. He thought her suspicions irrational. Brix could not relate to her anger, temper and jealousy. Armida presented a psychological expert (Dr. Dayan) who finds Brix to be a schizoid and a dependent and avoidant type. This is evidenced by Brixs leaving-the-house attitude whenever they quarreled, the violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family. ISSUE: Whether or not PI is attendant in the case at bar. HELD: The SC upheld the decision of the lower courts. The alleged mixed personality disorder, the leaving-the-house attitude whenever they quarreled, the violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family, are not rooted on some debilitating psychological condition but a mere refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage and these do not constitute PI. Further, the expert was not able to prove her findings. Notably, when asked as to the root cause of respondents alleged psychological incapacity, Dr. Dayans answer was vague, evasive and inconclusive. She replied that such disorder can be part of his family upbringing She stated that there was a history of Brixs parents having difficulties in their relationship- this is of course inconclusive for such has no direct bearing to the case at bar.

What is psychological incapacity? The term psychological incapacity to be a ground for the nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume. As all people may have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies, or isolated characteristics associated with certain personality disorders, there is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of psychological incapacity to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. It is for this reason that the Courts rely heavily on psychological experts for its understanding of the human personality. However, the root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature must be fully explained in court Psychological incapacity, as a ground for nullity of marriage, has been succinctly expounded in the recent case of Ma. Armida PerezFerraris v. Brix Ferraris, G.R. No. 162368, July 17, 2006, thus: The term psychological incapacity to be a ground for the nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of the awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume. As all people may have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies, or isolated characteristics associated with certain personality disorders, there is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of psychological incapacity to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. It is for this reason that the Court relies heavily on psychological experts for its understanding of the human personality. However, the root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature must be fully explained. As earlier-stated, the doctors report showed that her conclusion about the defendants psychological incapacity was based on the information supplied by the plaintiff which she found to be factual. That the plaintiff supplied the basis of her conclusion, makes the doctors conclusion hearsay. It is unscientific and unreliable, so the Court declared in Choa v. Choa, 441 Phil. 175 (2002), where the assessment of the therein party sought to be declared psychological incapacitated was based merely on the information communicated

to

the

doctor

by

the

plaintiff.

The doctors report did not even show that the alleged anti-social personality disorder of the defendant was already present at the inception of the marriage or that it is incurable. Neither did it explain the incapacitating nature of the alleged disorder nor identify its root cause. It merely stated that such disorder was considered to be grave and is deeply immersed within the system and continued to influence the individual until the later stage of life. No need of personal physical examination.

There is of course no requirement that the person sought to be declared psychologically incapacitated should be personally examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua non to arrive at such declaration. (Marcos v. Marcos, 397 Phil. 840; Antonio v. Reyes, 484 SCRA 353; Rep. v. Iyoy, 470 SCRA 508). If it can be proven by independent means that one is psychologically incapacitated, there is no reason why the same should not be credited. The defendants alleged psychological incapacity was premised on his being jobless and a drug user, as well as his inability to support his family and his refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage. His state or condition or attitude has not been shown, however, to be a malady or disorder rooted on some incapacitating or debilitating psychological condition. In Molina, where the respondent preferred to spend more time with his friends than with his family, the Court found the same to be more of a difficulty if not outright refusal or neglect in the performance of some marital obligations. In Ferraris, it was ruled:

We find respondents alleged mixed personality disorder, the leaving-the-house attitude whenever they quarreled, the violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family, are not rooted on some debilitating psychological condition but mere refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage. (Underscoring supplied) Also in Ferraris, the Court held that habitual alcoholism, just like infidelity or perversion and abandonment, did not by itself constitute ground for declaring a marriage void based on psychological incapacity. (Hernandez v. CA, 377 Phil. 919 (1999)). Neither is emotional immaturity and irresponsibility. (Dedel v. CA, 421 SCRA 461 (2004); Pesca v. Pesca, 356 SCRA 588). Or failure or refusal to meet duties and responsibilities of a married man if it is not shown to be due to some psychological (not physical) illness. (Rep. v. CA, 335 Phil. 664 (1997)). Note: In Antonio v. Reyes, it was held:

The Court thus acknowledges that the definition of psychological incapacity, as intended by the revision committee, was not cast in intractable specifics. Judicial understanding of psychological incapacity may be informed by evolving standards, taking into account the particulars of each case, current trends in psychological and even canonical thought, and experience. It is under the auspices of the deliberate ambiguity of the framers that the Court has developed the Molina rules, which have been consistently applied since 1997. Molina has proven indubitably useful in providing a unitary framework that guides courts in adjudicating petitioners for declaration of nullity under Article 36. At the same time, the Molina guidelines are not set in stone, the clear legislative intent mandating a case-tocase perception of each situation, and Molina itself arising from this evolutionary understanding of Article 36. There is no cause to disavow Molina at present There is need though to emphasize other perspective as well which should govern the disposition of petitions for declaration of nullity under Article 36. No need to present expert opinion in psychological incapacity cases.

The basic question in Bernardino Zamora v. CA, et al., G.R. No. 141917, February 7, 2007 (Azcuna, J) is whether there is a need for the presentation of expert opinion of psychologist and psychiatrist in every petition filed under Article 36, Family Code. The RTC and CA dismissed an action for declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity. The arguments of the petitioner before the SC are as follows: 1. There is nothing in Santos v. CA, 310 Phil. 21 (1995), upon which private respondent relies, that requires as a condition sine qua non the presentation of expert opinion of psychologists and psychiatrists in every petition filed under Article 36 of the Family Code. This

Court merely said in that case that [t]he well-considered opinions of psychiatrists, psychologists, and persons with expertise in psychological disciplines might be helpful or even desirable. However, no expert opinion is helpful or even desirable to determine whether private respondent has been living abroad and away from her husband for many years; whether she has a child; and whether she has made her residence abroad permanent by acquiring U.S. citizenship; and 2. Article 36 of the Family Code provides that 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. Among the essential marital obligations embraced by Articles 68 to 71 of the same Code is to procreate children through sexual cooperation which is the basic end of marriage. To live together under one roof for togetherness spells the unity in marriage. The marriage had been existing for twenty four years when private respondent filed a legal separation case against petitioner. Throughout this period, private respondent deliberately and obstinately refused to comply with the essential marital obligation to live and cohabit with her husband. The Supreme Court

Held: It is true that the case of Santos v. CA, 310 Phil. 21 (1995), did not specifically mention that the presentation of expert opinion is a vital and mandatory requirement in filing a petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage grounded on psychological incapacity referred to under Article 36 of the Family Code. Even in the subsequent case of Republic v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 108763, February 13, 1997, 268 SCRA 198, (also known as the Molina case), wherein the Court laid down the guidelines in the interpretation and application of the aforementioned article, examination of the person by a physician in order for the former to be declared psychologically incapacitated was likewise not considered a requirement. (Marcos v. Marcos, G.R. No. 136490, October 19, 2000, 343 SCRA 755). What is important, however, as stated in Marcos v. Marcos, is the presence of evidence that can adequately establish the partys psychological condition. If the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to. Likewise, Section 2(d) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, which took effect on March 15, 2003, states: (d) What to allege. A petition under Article 36 of the Family Code shall specifically allege the complete facts showing that either or both parties were psychologically incapacitated from complying with the essential marital obligations of marriage at the time of the celebration of marriage even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its celebration. The complete facts should allege the physical manifestations, if any, as are indicative of psychological incapacity at the time of the celebration of the marriage but expert opinion need not be alleged. The rule is that the facts alleged in the petition and the evidence presented, considered in totality, should be sufficient to convince the court of the psychological incapacity of the party concerned. Petitioner, however, failed to substantiate his allegation that private respondent is psychologically incapacitated. His allegations relating to her refusal to cohabit with him and to bear a child was strongly disputed, as the records undeniably bear out. Furthermore, the acts and behavior of private respondent that petitioner cited occurred during the marriage, and there is no proof that the former exhibited a similar predilection even before or at the inception of the marriage. Hence, the SC upheld the ruling of the lower courts. (Zamora v. CA, et al., G.R. No. 141917, February 7, 2007, Azcuna, J).

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 126010 December 8, 1999 LUCITA ESTRELLA HERNANDEZ, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and MARIO C. HERNANDEZ, respondents.

MENDOZA, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals, dated January 30, 1996, affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Tagaytay City, dated April 10, 1993, which dismissed the petition for annulment of marriage filed by petitioner. Petitioner Lucita Estrella Hernandez and private respondent Mario C. Hernandez were married at the Silang Catholic Parish Church in Silang, Cavite on January 1, 1981 (Exh. A). 2 Three children were born to them, namely, Maie, who was born on May 3, 1982 (Exh. B), 3 Lyra, born on May 22, 1985 (Exh. C), 4 and Marian, born on June 15, 1989 (Exh. D). 5 On July 10, 1992, petitioner filed before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Tagaytay City, a petition seeking the annulment of her marriage to private respondent on the ground of psychological incapacity of the latter. She alleged that from the time of their marriage up to the time of the filing of the suit, private respondent failed to perform his obligation to support the family and contribute to the management of the household, devoting most of his time engaging in drinking sprees with his friends. She further claimed that private respondent, after they were married, cohabited with another woman with whom he had an illegitimate child, while having affairs with different women, and that, because of his promiscuity, private respondent endangered her health by infecting her with a sexually transmissible disease (STD). She averred that private respondent was irresponsible, immature and unprepared for the duties of a married life. Petitioner prayed that for having abandoned the family, private respondent be ordered to give support to their three children in the total amount of P9,000.00 every month; that she be awarded the custody of their children; and that she be adjudged as the sole owner of a parcel of land located at Don Gregorio Subdivision I in Bo. Bucal, Dasmarias, Cavite, purchased during the marriage, as well as the jeep which private respondent took with him when he left the conjugal home on June 12, 1992. 6 On October 8, 1992, because of private respondent's failure to file his answer, the trial court issued an order directing the assistant provincial prosecutor to conduct an investigation to determine if there was collusion between the parties. 7 Only petitioner appeared at the investigation on November 5, 1992. Nevertheless, the prosecutor found no evidence of collusion and recommended that the case be set for trial. 8 Based on the evidence presented by the petitioner, the facts are as follows: 9 Petitioner and private respondent met in 1977 at the Philippine Christian University in Dasmarias, Cavite. Petitioner, who is five years older than private respondent, was then in her first year of teaching zoology and botany. Private respondent, a college freshman, was her student for two consecutive semesters. They became sweethearts in February 1979 when she was no longer private respondent's teacher. On January 1, 1981, they were married. Private respondent continued his studies for two more years. His parents paid for his tuition fees, while petitioner provided his allowances and other financial needs. The family income came from petitioner's salary as a faculty member of the Philippine Christian University. Petitioner augmented her earnings by selling "Tupperware" products, as well as engaging in the buy-and-sell of coffee, rice and polvoron. From 1983 up to 1986, as private respondent could not find a stable job, it was agreed that he would help petitioner in her businesses by delivering orders to customers. However, because her husband was a spendthrift and had other women, petitioner's business suffered. Private respondent often had smoking and drinking sprees with his friends and betted on fighting cocks. In 1982, after the birth of their first child, petitioner discovered two love letters written by a certain Realita Villena to private respondent. She knew Villena as a married student whose husband was working in Saudi Arabia. When petitioner confronted private respondent, he admitted having an extra-marital affair with Villena. Petitioner then pleaded with Villena to end her relationship with private respondent. For his

part, private respondent said he would end the affairs, but he did not keep his promise. Instead, he left the conjugal home and abandoned petitioner and their child. When private respondent came back, however, petitioner accepted him, despite private respondent's infidelity in the hope of saving their marriage. Upon the recommendation of a family friend, private respondent was able to get a job at Reynolds Philippines, Inc. in San Agustin, Dasmarias, Cavite in 1986. However, private respondent was employed only until March 31, 1991, because he availed himself of the early retirement plan offered by the company. He received P53,000.00 in retirement pay, but instead of spending the amount for the needs of the family, private respondent spent the money on himself and consumed the entire amount within four months of his retirement. While private respondent worked at Reynolds Philippines, Inc., his smoking, drinking, gambling and womanizing became worse. Petitioner discovered that private respondent carried on relationships with different women. He had relations with a certain Edna who worked at Yazaki; Angie, who was an operator of a billiard hall; Tess, a "Japayuki"; Myrna Macatangay, a secretary at the Road Master Driver's School in Bayan, Dasmarias, Cavite, with whom he cohabited for quite a while; and, Ruth Oliva, by whom he had a daughter named Margie P. Oliva, born on September 15, 1989 (Exh. E). 10 When petitioner confronted private respondent about his relationship with Tess, he beat her up, as a result of which she was confined at the De la Salle University Medical Center in Dasmarias, Cavite on July 4-5, 1990 because of cerebral concussion (Exh. F). 11 According to petitioner, private respondent engaged in extreme promiscuous conduct during the latter part of 1986. As a result, private respondent contracted gonorrhea and infected petitioner. They both received treatment at the Zapote Medical Specialists Center in Zapote, Bacoor, Cavite from October 22, 1986 until March 13, 1987 (Exhs. G & H). 12 Petitioner averred that on one occasion of a heated argument, private respondent hit their eldest child who was then barely a year old. Private respondent is not close to any of their children as he was never affectionate and hardly spent time with them. On July 17, 1979, petitioner entered into a contract to sell (Exh. J) 13 with F & C Realty Corporation whereby she agreed to buy from the latter a parcel of land at the Don Gregorio Heights Subdivision I in Bo. Bucal, Dasmarias, Cavite and placed a partial payment of P31,330.00. On May 26, 1987, after full payment of the amount of P51,067.10, inclusive of interests from monthly installments, a deed of absolute sale(Exh. K) 14 was executed in her favor and TCT No. T-221529 (Exh. M) 15 was duly issued. According to petitioner, on August 1, 1992, she sent a handwritten letter 16 to private respondent expressing her frustration over the fact that her efforts to save their marriage proved futile. In her letter, petitioner also stated that she was allowing him to sell their owner-type jeepney 17 and to divide the proceeds of the sale between the two of them. Petitioner also told private respondent of her intention to fill a petition for the annulment of their marriage. It does not appear that private respondent ever replied to petitioner's letter. By this time, he had already abandoned petitioner and their children. In October 1992, petitioner learned that private respondent left for the Middle East. Since then, private respondent's whereabouts had been unknown. Ester Alfaro, petitioner's childhood friend and co-teacher at the Philippine Christian University, testified during the hearing on the petition for annulment. She said that sometime in June 1979, petitioner introduced private respondent to her (Alfaro) as the former's sweetheart. Alfaro said she was not impressed with private respondent who was her student in accounting. She observed private respondent to be fun-loving, spending most of his time with campus friends. In November 1980, when petitioner asked Alfaro to be one of the secondary sponsors at her forthcoming wedding, Alfaro wanted to dissuade petitioner from going through with the wedding because she thought private respondent was not ready for married life as he was then unemployed. True enough, although the couple appeared happy during the early part of their marriage, it was not long thereafter that private respondent started drinking with his friends and going home late at night. Alfaro corroborated petitioner's claim that private respondent was a habitual drunkard who carried on relationships with different women and continued hanging out with his friends. She also confirmed that petitioner was once hospitalized because she was beaten up by private respondent. After the first year of petitioner's marriage, Alfaro tried to talk to private respondent, but the latter accused her of meddling with their marital life. Alfaro said that private respondent was not close to his children and that he had abandoned petitioner. 18 On April 10, 1993, the trial court rendered a decision pertinent portion of the decision reads: 20
19

dismissing the petition for annulment of marriage filed by petitioner. The

The Court can underscore the fact that the circumstances mentioned by the petitioner in support of her claim that respondent was "psychologically incapacitated" to marry her are among the grounds cited by the law as valid reasons for the grant of legal separation (Article 55 of the Family Code) not as grounds for a declaration of nullity of marriages or annulment thereof. Thus, Article 55 of the same code reads as follows: Art. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:

(1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner; xxx xxx xxx (5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent; xxx xxx xxx (8) Sexual infidelity or perversion; xxx xxx xxx (10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year. xxx xxx xxx If indeed Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, which mentions psychological incapacity as a ground for the declaration of the nullity of a marriage, has intended to include the above-stated circumstances as constitutive of such incapacity, then the same would not have been enumerated as grounds for legal separation. In the same manner, this Court is not disposed to grant relief in favor of the petitioner under Article 46, paragraph (3) of the Family Code of the Philippines, as there is no dispute that the "gonorrhea" transmitted to the petitioner by respondent occurred sometime in 1986, or five (5) years after petitioner's marriage with respondent was celebrated in 1981. The provisions of Article 46, paragraph (3) of the same law should be taken in conjunction with Article 45, paragraph (3) of the same code, and a careful reading of the two (2) provisions of the law would require the existence of this ground (fraud) at the time of the celebration of the marriage. Hence, the annulment of petitioner's marriage with the respondent on this ground, as alleged and proved in the instant case, cannot be legally accepted by the Court. Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which, on January 30, 1996, rendered its decision affirming the decision of the trial court. Citing the ruling in Santos v. Court of Appeals, 21 the Court of Appeals held: 22 It is clear in the above law and jurisprudence that the psychological incapacity of a spouse, as a ground for declaration of nullify of marriage, must exist at the time of the celebration of marriage. More so, chronic sexual infidelity, abandonment, gambling and use of prohibited drugs are not grounds per se, of psychological incapacity of a spouse. We agree with the Solicitor General that petitioner-appellant failed to prove that her respondent-husband was psychologically incapacitated at the time of the celebration of the marriage. Certainly, petitioner-appellant's declaration that at the time of their marriage her respondent-husband's character was on the "borderline between a responsible person and the happy-go-lucky," could not constitute the psychological incapacity in contemplation of Article 36 of the Family Code. In fact, petitioner-appellant herself ascribed said attitude to her respondent-husband's youth and very good looks, who was admittedly several years younger than petitioner-appellant who, herself, happened to be the college professor of her respondent-husband. Petitioner-appellant even described her respondent-husband not as a problem student but a normal one (p. 24, tsn, Dec. 8, 1992). The acts and attitudes complained of by petitioner-appellant happened after the marriage and there is no proof that the same have already existed at the time of the celebration of the marriage to constitute the psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. Hence, this petition. Petitioner contends that the respondent Court of Appeals erred I. IN FINDING THAT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT TO COMPLY WITH HIS ESSENTIAL MARITAL OBLIGATIONS DID NOT EXIST FROM THE TIME OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE MARRIAGE. II. IN RULING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT WAS NOT PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPACITATED TO COMPLY WITH HIS ESSENTIAL MARITAL OBLIGATIONS.

III. IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT DENYING THE AWARD OF PERMANENT CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN TO PETITIONER. IV. IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT DENYING THE PRAYER FOR ISSUANCE OF AN ORDER REQUIRING PRIVATE RESPONDENT TO GIVE SUPPORT TO THE THREE CHILDREN IN THE AMOUNT OF P3,000,00 PER CHILD. V. IN NOT DECLARING THE REAL PROPERTY ACQUIRED BY PETITIONER AS HER EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY. The issue in this case is whether or not the marriage of petitioner and private respondent should be annulled on the ground of private respondent's psychological incapacity. Petitioner alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that petitioner failed to show that private respondent's psychological incapacity existed at the time of the celebration of the marriage. She argues that the fact that the acts of incapacity of private respondent became manifest only after the celebration of their marriage should not be a bar to the annulment of their marriage. Art. 36 of the Family Code states: 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. 23 In Santos v. Court of Appeals,
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we held:

"Psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality, disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This psychological condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. The law does not evidently envision, upon the other hand, an inability of the spouse to have sexual relations with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article 54 of the Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the judicial declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be "legitimate." The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of marriage, like the state of a party being of unsound mind or concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage contract voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family Code. If drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or homosexuality should occur only during the marriage, they become mere grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code. These provisions of the Code, however, do not necessarily preclude the possibility of these various circumstances being themselves, depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of psychological incapacity. Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are established, every circumstance that may have some bearing on the degree, extent, and other conditions of that incapacity must, in every case, be carefully examined and evaluated so that no precipitate and indiscriminate nullity is peremptorily decreed. The well-considered opinions of psychiatrists, psychologists, and persons with expertise in psychological disciplines might be helpful or even desirable. In the instant case, other than her self-serving declarations, petitioner failed to establish the fact that at the time they were married, private respondent was suffering from a psychological defect which in fact deprived him of the ability to assume the essential duties of marriage and its concomitant responsibilities. As the Court of Appeals pointed out, no evidence was presented to show that private respondent was not cognizant of the basic marital obligations. It was not sufficiently proved that private respondent was really incapable of fulfilling his duties due to some incapacity of a psychological nature, and not merely physical. Petitioner says that at the outset of their marriage, private respondent showed lack of drive to work for his family. Private respondent's parents and petitioner supported him through college. After his schooling, although he eventually found a job, he availed himself of the early retirement plan offered by his employer and spent the entire amount he received on himself. For a greater part of their marital life, private respondent was out of job and did not have the initiative to look for another. He indulged in vices and engaged in philandering, and later abandoned his family. Petitioner concludes that private respondent's condition is incurable, causing the disintegration of their union and defeating the very objectives of marriage.

However, private respondent's alleged habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment do not by themselves constitute grounds for finding that he is suffering from psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the Family Code. It must be shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered personality which make private respondent completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state, and not merely due to private respondent's youth and self-conscious feeling of being handsome, as the appellate court held. As pointed out in Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals: 25 The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or physically ill to such an extent that the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis (citing Salaita v. Magtolis, supra) nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. Moreover, expert testimony should have been presented to establish the precise cause of private respondent's psychological incapacity, if any, in order to show that it existed at the inception of the marriage. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage rests upon rests petitioner. The Court is mindful of the policy of the 1987 Constitution to protect and strengthen the family as the basic autonomous social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family. 26 Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. 27 We, therefore, find no reason to reverse the ruling of respondent Court of Appeals whose conclusions, affirming the trial court's finding with regard to the non-existence of private respondent's psychological incapacity at the time of the marriage, are entitled to great weight and even finality. 28 Only where it is shown that such findings are whimsical, capricious, and arbitrary can these be overturned. The conclusion we have reached makes it unnecessary for us to pass upon petitioner's contentions on the issue of permanent custody of children, the amount for their respective support, and the declaration of exclusive ownership of petitioner over the real property. These matters may more appropriately be litigated in a separate proceeding for legal separation, dissolution of property regime, and/or custody of children which petitioner may bring. WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeal is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Buena and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.


THIRD DIVISION

LOLITA D. ENRICO,

Petitioner,

G.R. No. 173614 Present:

versus -

HEIRS OF SPS. EULOGIO B. MEDINACELI AND TRINIDAD CATLI-MEDINACELI, REPRESENTED BY VILMA M. ARTICULO, Respondents.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J. Chairperson, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, CHICO-NAZARIO, NACHURA, and REYES, JJ. Promulgated: September 28, 2007

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x DECISION CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

The instant Petition for Certiorari filed under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure assails the Order, [1] dated 3 May 2006 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Aparri, Cagayan, Branch 6, in Civil Case No. II-4057, granting reconsideration of its Order,[2] dated 11 October 2005, and reinstating respondents Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage.

On 17 March 2005, respondents, heirs of Spouses Eulogio B. Medinaceli (Eulogio) and Trinidad Catli-Medinaceli (Trinidad) filed with the RTC, an action for declaration of nullity of marriage of Eulogio and petitioner Lolita D. Enrico. Substantially, the complaint alleged, inter alia, that Eulogio and Trinidad were married on 14 June 1962, in Lal-lo, Cagayan.[3] They begot seven children, herein respondents, namely: Eduardo, Evelyn, Vilma, Mary Jane, Haizel, Michelle and Joseph Lloyd.[4] On 1 May 2004, Trinidaddied.[5] On 26 August 2004, Eulogio married petitioner before the Municipal Mayor of Lal-lo, Cagayan.[6] Six months later, or on 10 February 2005, Eulogio passed away.[7]

In impugning petitioners marriage to Eulogio, respondents averred that the same was entered into without the requisite marriage license. They argued that Article 34[8] of the Family Code, which exempts a man and a woman who have been living together for at least five years without any legal impediment from securing a marriage license, was not applicable to petitioner and Eulogio because they could not have lived together under the circumstances required by said provision. Respondents posited that the marriage of Eulogio to Trinidad was dissolved only upon the latters death, or on 1 May 2004, which was barely three months from the date of marriage of Eulogio to petitioner. Therefore, petitioner and Eulogio could not have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years. To further their cause, respondents raised the additional ground of lack of marriage ceremony due to Eulogios serious illness which made its performance impossible.

In her Answer, petitioner maintained that she and Eulogio lived together as husband and wife under one roof for 21 years openly and publicly; hence, they were exempted from the requirement of a marriage license. From their union were born Elvin Enrico and Marco Enrico, all surnamed Medinaceli, on 28 October 1988 and 30 October 1991, respectively. She further contended that the marriage ceremony was performed in the Municipal Hall of Lal-lo, Cagayan, and solemnized by the Municipal Mayor. As an affirmative defense, she sought the dismissal of the action on the ground that it is only the contracting parties while living who can file an action for declaration of nullity of marriage.

On 11 October 2005, the RTC issued an Order,[9] granting the dismissal of the Complaint for lack of cause of action. It cited A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC,[10] dated 7 March 2003, promulgated by the Supreme Court En Banc as basis. The RTC elucidated on its position in the following manner: The Complaint should be dismissed. 1) Administrative Matter No. 02-11-10-SC promulgated by the Supreme Court which took effect on March 15, 2003 provides in Section 2, par. (a)[11] that a petition for Declaration of Absolute Nullity of a Void Marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. The language of this rule is plain and simple which states that such

a petition may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. The rule is clear and unequivocal that only the husband or the wife may file the petition for Declaration of Absolute Nullity of a Void Marriage. The reading of this Court is that the right to bring such petition is exclusive and this right solely belongs to them. Consequently, the heirs of the deceased spouse cannot substitute their late father in bringing the action to declare the marriage null and void.[12] (Emphasis supplied.)

The dispositive portion of the Order, thus, reads: WHEREFORE, [the] Motion to Dismiss raised as an affirmative defense in the answer is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the Complaint filed by the [respondents] is hereby DISMISSED with costs de officio. [13]

Respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration thereof. Following the filing by petitioner of her Comment to the said motion, the RTC rendered an Order[14] dated 3 May 2006, reversing its Order of 11 October 2005. Hence, the RTC reinstated the complaint on the ratiocination that the assailed Order ignored the ruling in Nial v. Bayadog,[15]which was on the authority for holding that the heirs of a deceased spouse have the standing to assail a void marriage even after the death of the latter. It held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-20-SC, which provides that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife, applies only where both parties to a void marriage are still living.[16] Where one or both parties are deceased, the RTC held that the heirs may file a petition to declare the marriage void. The RTC expounded on its stance, thus: The questioned Order disregarded the case of Nial vs. Bayadog, 328 SCRA 122 (March 14, 2000) in which the Supreme Court, First Division, held that the heirs of a deceased person may file a petition for the declaration of his marriage after his death. The Order subject of this motion for reconsideration held that the case of Nial vs. Bayadog is now superseded by the new Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Marriages (hereinafter referred to as the Rule) because the Supreme Court has rejected the case of Nial vs. Bayadog by approving the Rule on Nullity of Void Marriages. The Order further held that it is only the husband or the wife who is (sic) the only parties allowed to file an action for declaration of nullity of their marriage and such right is purely personal and is not transmissible upon the death of the parties. It is admitted that there seems to be a conflict between the case of Nial vs. Bayadog and Section 2(a) of the Rule. In view of this, the Court shall try to reconcile the case of Nial vs. Bayadog and the Rule. To reconcile, the Court will have to determine [the] basic rights of the parties. The rights of the legitimate heirs of a person who entered into a void marriage will be prejudiced particularly with respect to their successional rights. During the lifetime of the parent[,] the heirs have only an inchoate right over the property of the said parents. Hence, during the lifetime of the parent, it would be proper that it should solely be the parent who should be allowed to file a petition to declare his marriage void. However, upon the death of the parent his heirs have already a vested right over whatever property left by the parent. Such vested right should not be frustrated by any rules of procedure such as the Rule. Rules of Procedure cannot repeal rights granted by substantive law. The heirs, then, have a legal standing in Court. If the heirs are prohibited from questioning the void marriage entered by their parent, especially when the marriage is illegal and feloniously entered into, it will give premium to such union because the guilty parties will seldom, if ever at all, ask for the annulment of the marriage. Such void marriage will be given a semblance of validity if the heirs will not be allowed to file the petition after the death of the parent. For these reasons, this Court believes that Sec. 2(a) of the Rules on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Marriage is applicable only when both parties to a (sic) void marriage are still living. Upon the death of anyone of the guilty party to the void marriage, his heirs may file a petition to declare the the (sic) marriage void, but the Rule is not applicable as it was not filed b the husband or the wife. It shall be the ordinary rule of civil procedure which shall be applicable.[17]

Perforce, the decretal portion of the RTC Order of 3 May 2006 states: In view of the foregoing, the Court grants the motion for reconsideration dated October 31, 2005 and reinstate this case.[18]

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing Order; however, on 1 June 2006, the RTC denied the said motion on the ground that no new matter was raised therein.[19]

Hence, the instant Petition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure on the sole question of whether the case law as embodied in Nial, or the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, as specified in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC of the Supreme Court applies to the case at bar.

At the outset, we note that petitioner took an abbreviated route to this Court, countenancing the hierarchy of courts.

We have earlier emphasized that while the Supreme Court has the concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals and the RTCs (for writs enforceable within their respective regions), to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition or certiorari, the litigants are well advised against taking a direct recourse to this Court.[20] Instead, they should initially seek the proper relief from the lower courts. As a court of last resort, this Court should not be burdened with the task of dealing with causes in the first instance. Where the issuance of an extraordinary writ is concurrently within the competence of the Court of Appeals or the RTC, litigants must observe the principle of hierarchy of courts.[21] However, it cannot be gainsaid that this Court has the discretionary power to brush aside procedural lapses if compelling reasons, or the nature and importance of the issues raised, warrant the immediate exercise of its jurisdiction. [22] Moreover, notwithstanding the dismissibility of the instant Petition for its failure to observe the doctrine on the hierarchy of courts, this Court will proceed to entertain the case grounded as it is on a pure question of law.

Petitioner maintains that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC governs the instant case. A contrario, respondents posit that it is Nial which is applicable, whereby the heirs of the deceased person were granted the right to file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage after his death.

We grant the Petition.

In reinstating respondents Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage, the RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion.

While it is true that Nial in no uncertain terms allowed therein petitioners to file a petition for the declaration of nullity of their fathers marriage to therein respondent after the death of their father, we cannot, however, apply its ruling for the reason that the impugned marriage therein was solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code. The Court in Nial recognized that the applicable law to determine the validity of the two marriages involved therein is the Civil Code, which was the law in effect at the time of their celebration.[23] What we have before us belongs to a different milieu, i.e., the marriage sought to be declared void was entered into during the effectivity of the Family Code. As can be gleaned from the facts, petitioners marriage to Eulogio was celebrated in 2004.

The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages as contained in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is explicit in its scope, to wit: Section 1. Scope. This Rule shall govern petitions for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages and annulment of voidable marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines.

The Rules of Court shall apply suppletorily. (Emphasis supplied.)

The categorical language of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC leaves no room for doubt. The coverage extends only to those marriages entered into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on 3 August 1988.[24]

Moreover, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC took effect on 15 March 2003, following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation. Thus, contrary to the opinion of the RTC, there is no need to reconcile the provisions of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC with the ruling in Nial, because they vary in scope and application. As has been emphasized, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC covers marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines, and is prospective in its application. The marriage of petitioner to Eulogio was celebrated on 26 August 2004, and it squarely falls within the ambit of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.

Hence, in resolving the issue before us, we resort to Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, which provides:

Section 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. (a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. (n) (Emphasis supplied.)

There is no ambiguity in the Rule. Absolute sententil expositore non indiget. When the language of the law is clear, no explanation of it is required. Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, makes it the sole right of the husband or the wife to file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage.

The Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, Legal Separation and Provisional Orders explicates on Section 2(a) in the following manner, viz: 1. Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file petitions for annulment of voidable marriages and declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petitions cannot be filed by the compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. [Section 2; Section 3, paragraph a] Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they do not have a legal right to file the petition. Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the death of their predecessor, and hence can only question the validity of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts. On the other hand, the concern of the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its dissolution.[25] (Emphasis supplied.)

Respondents clearly have no cause of action before the court a quo. Nonetheless, all is not lost for respondents. While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife, it does not mean that the compulsory or intestate heirs are already without any recourse under the law. They can still protect their successional right, for, as stated in the Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, Legal Separation and Provisional Orders, compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the validity of the

marriage of the spouses, not in a proceeding for declaration of nullity, but upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. Civil Case No. II-4057 filed before the Regional Trial Court of Aparri, Cagayan, Branch 6, is ORDERED DISMISSEDwithout prejudice to challenging the validity of the marriage of Lolita D. Enrico to Eulogio B. Medinaceli in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the latter. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 162368 July 17, 2006

MA. ARMIDA PEREZ-FERRARIS, petitioner, vs. BRIX FERRARIS, respondent. RESOLUTION YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: This resolves the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Ma. Armida Perez-Ferraris of the Resolution dated June 9, 2004 denying the petition for review on certiorari of the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated April 30, 2003 and February 24, 2004, respectively, for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error. On February 20, 2001, the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 151 rendered a Decision1 denying the petition for declaration of nullity of petitioner's marriage with Brix Ferraris. The trial court noted that suffering from epilepsy does not amount to psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Civil Code and the evidence on record were insufficient to prove infidelity. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order2 dated April 20, 2001 where the trial court reiterated that there was no evidence that respondent is mentally or physically ill to such an extent that he could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed3 in toto the judgment of the trial court. It held that the evidence on record did not convincingly establish that respondent was suffering from psychological incapacity or that his "defects" were incurable and already present at the inception of the marriage.4 The Court of Appeals also found that Dr. Dayan's testimony failed to establish the substance of respondent's psychological incapacity; that she failed to explain how she arrived at the conclusion that the respondent has a mixed personality disorder; that she failed to clearly demonstrate that there was a natal or supervening disabling factor or an adverse integral element in respondent's character that effectively incapacitated him from accepting and complying with the essential marital obligations.5 Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied6 for lack of merit; thus, she filed a petition for review on certiorari with this Court. As already stated, the petition for review was denied for failure of petitioner to show that the appellate tribunal committed any reversible error. Petitioner filed the instant motion for reconsideration.7 The Court required respondent Brix Ferraris to file comment8 but failed to comply; thus, he is deemed to have waived the opportunity to file comment. Further, the Court directed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on petitioner's motion for reconsideration which it complied on March 2, 2006. After considering the arguments of both the petitioner and the OSG, the Court resolves to deny petitioner's motion for reconsideration. The issue of whether or not psychological incapacity exists in a given case calling for annulment of marriage depends crucially, more than in any field of the law, on the facts of the case.9 Such factual issue, however, is beyond the province of this Court to review. It is

not the function of the Court to analyze or weigh all over again the evidence or premises supportive of such factual determination.10 It is a well-established principle that factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding on this Court,11 save for the most compelling and cogent reasons, like when the findings of the appellate court go beyond the issues of the case, run contrary to the admissions of the parties to the case, or fail to notice certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, will justify a different conclusion; or when there is a misappreciation of facts,12 which are unavailing in the instant case. The term "psychological incapacity" to be a ground for the nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume. 13 As all people may have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies, or isolated characteristics associated with certain personality disorders, there is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. 14 It is for this reason that the Court relies heavily on psychological experts for its understanding of the human personality. However, the root cause must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature must be fully explained, 15 which petitioner failed to convincingly demonstrate. As aptly held by the Court of Appeals: Simply put, the chief and basic consideration in the resolution of marital annulment cases is the presence of evidence that can adequately establish respondent's psychological condition. Here, appellant contends that there is such evidence. We do not agree. Indeed, the evidence on record did not convincingly establish that respondent was suffering from psychological incapacity. There is absolutely no showing that his "defects" were already present at the inception of the marriage, or that those are incurable. Quite apart from being plainly self-serving, petitioner's evidence showed that respondent's alleged failure to perform his socalled marital obligations was not at all a manifestation of some deep-seated, grave, permanent and incurable psychological malady. To be sure, the couple's relationship before the marriage and even during their brief union (for well about a year or so) was not all bad. During that relatively short period of time, petitioner was happy and contented with her life in the company of respondent. In fact, by petitioner's own reckoning, respondent was a responsible and loving husband. x x x. Their problems began when petitioner started doubting respondent's fidelity. It was only when they started fighting about the calls from women that respondent began to withdraw into his shell and corner, and failed to perform his so-called marital obligations. Respondent could not understand petitioner's lack of trust in him and her constant naggings. He thought her suspicions irrational. Respondent could not relate to her anger, temper and jealousy. x x x. xxxx At any rate, Dr. Dayan did not explain how she arrived at her diagnosis that respondent has a mixed personality disorder called "schizoid," and why he is the "dependent and avoidant type." In fact, Dr. Dayan's statement that one suffering from such mixed personality disorder is dependent on others for decision x x x lacks specificity; it seems to belong to the realm of theoretical speculation. Also, Dr. Dayan's information that respondent had extramarital affairs was supplied by the petitioner herself. Notably, when asked as to the root cause of respondent's alleged psychological incapacity, Dr. Dayan's answer was vague, evasive and inconclusive. She replied that such disorder "can be part of his family upbringing" x x x. She stated that there was a history of respondent's parents having difficulties in their relationship. But this input on the supposed problematic history of respondent's parents also came from petitioner. Nor did Dr. Dayan clearly demonstrate that there was really "a natal or supervening disabling factor" on the part of respondent, or an "adverse integral element" in respondent's character that effectively incapacitated him from accepting, and, thereby complying with, the essential marital obligations. Of course, petitioner likewise failed to prove that respondent's supposed psychological or mental malady existed even before the marriage. All these omissions must be held up against petitioner, for the reason that upon her devolved the onus of establishing nullity of the marriage. Indeed, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage and the indissolubility of the marital vinculum.16 We find respondent's alleged mixed personality disorder, the "leaving-the-house" attitude whenever they quarreled, the violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, the sexual infidelity, the abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family, are not rooted on some debilitating psychological condition but a mere refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations of marriage. In Republic v. Court of Appeals,17 where therein respondent preferred to spend more time with his friends than his family on whom he squandered his money, depended on his parents for aid and assistance, and was dishonest to his wife regarding his finances, the Court held that the psychological defects spoken of were more of a "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of some marital obligations and that a mere showing of irreconcilable differences and conflicting personalities in no wise constitute psychological incapacity; it is not enough to prove that the parties failed to meet their responsibilities and duties as married persons; it is essential that they must be shown to be incapable of doing so, due to some psychological, not physical, illness.

Also, we held in Hernandez v. Court of Appeals18 that habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment do not by themselves constitute grounds for declaring a marriage void based on psychological incapacity. While petitioner's marriage with the respondent failed and appears to be without hope of reconciliation, the remedy however is not always to have it declared void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity. An unsatisfactory marriage, however, is not a null and void marriage.19 No less than the Constitution recognizes the sanctity of marriage and the unity of the family; it decrees marriage as legally "inviolable" and protects it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be " protected" by the state.20 Thus, in determining the import of "psychological incapacity" under Article 36, it must be read in conjunction with, although to be taken as distinct from Articles 35,21 37,22 38,23 and 4124 that would likewise, but for different reasons, render the marriage void ab initio, or Article 4525 that would make the marriage merely voidable, or Article 55 that could justify a petition for legal separation. Care must be observed so that these various circumstances are not applied so indiscriminately as if the law were indifferent on the matter.26 Article 36 should not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the causes therefor manifest themselves.27 Neither it is to be equated with legal separation, in which the grounds need not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like.28 WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated June 9, 2004 denying the petition for review on certiorari for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error, is DENIED WITH FINALITY. SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, C.J., Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., Chico-Nazario, J.J., concur.


Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 179922 December 16, 2008

JUAN DE DIOS CARLOS, petitioner, vs. FELICIDAD SANDOVAL, also known as FELICIDAD S. VDA. DE CARLOS or FELICIDAD SANDOVAL CARLOS or FELICIDAD SANDOVAL VDA. DE CARLOS, and TEOFILO CARLOS II, respondents. DECISION REYES, R.T., J.: ONLY a spouse can initiate an action to sever the marital bond for marriages solemnized during the effectivity of the Family Code, except cases commenced prior to March 15, 2003. The nullity and annulment of a marriage cannot be declared in a judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of judgment. We pronounce these principles as We review on certiorari the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) which reversed and set aside the summary judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in an action for declaration of nullity of marriage, status of a child, recovery of property, reconveyance, sum of money, and damages. The Facts The events that led to the institution of the instant suitare unveiled as follows: Spouses Felix B. Carlos and Felipa Elemia died intestate. They left six parcels of land to their compulsory heirs, Teofilo Carlos and petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos. The lots are particularly described as follows: Parcel No. 1 Lot No. 162 of the MUNTINLUPA ESTATE SUBDIVISION, Case No. 6137 of the Court of Land Registration. Exemption from the provisions of Article 567 of the Civil Code is specifically reserved.

Area: 1 hectare, 06 ares, 07 centares. Parcel No. 2 A parcel of land (Lot No. 159-B), being a portion of Lot 159, situated in the Bo. of Alabang, Municipality of Muntinlupa, Province of Rizal, x x x containing an area of Thirteen Thousand Four Hundred Forty One (13,441) square meters. Parcel No. 3 A parcel of land (Lot 159-B-2 of the subd. plan [LRC] Psd-325903, approved as a non-subd. project), being a portion of Lot 159-B [LRC] Psd- Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Island of Luzon. Bounded on the NE, points 2 to 4 by Lot 155, Muntinlupa Estate; on the SE, point 4 to 5 by Lot 159-B-5; on the S, points 5 to 1 by Lot 159-B-3; on the W, points 1 to 2 by Lot 159-B-1 (Road widening) all of the subd. plan, containing an area of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY (130) SQ. METERS, more or less. PARCEL No. 4 A parcel of land (Lot 28-C of the subd. plan Psd-13-007090, being a portion of Lot 28, Muntinlupa Estate, L.R.C. Rec. No. 6137), situated in the Bo. of Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. Bounded on the NE, along lines 1-2 by Lot 27, Muntinlupa Estate; on the East & SE, along lines 2 to 6 by Mangangata River; and on the West., along line 6-1, by Lot 28-B of the subd. plan x x x containing an area of ONE THUSAND AND SEVENTY-SIX (1,076) SQUARE METERS. PARCEL No. 5 PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 50, Manzana No. 18, de la subd. de Solocan. Linda por el NW, con la parcela 49; por el NE, con la parcela 36; por el SE, con la parcela 51; y por el SW, con la calle Dos Castillas. Partiendo de un punto marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se halla a S. gds. 01W, 72.50 mts. Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo un extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150) METROS CUADRADOS. PARCEL No. 6 PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 51, Manzana No. 18, de la subd. De Solocon. Linda por el NW, con la parcela 50; por el NE, con la parcela 37; por el SE, con la parcela 52; por el SW, con la Calle Dos Castillas. Partiendo de un punto Marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se halla at S. 43 gds. 01E, 82.50 mts. Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana, que es un mojon de concreto de la Ciudad de Manila, situado on el esquina E. que forman las Calles Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, continiendo una extension superficial de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150) METROS CUADRADOS.3 During the lifetime of Felix Carlos, he agreed to transfer his estate to Teofilo. The agreement was made in order to avoid the payment of inheritance taxes. Teofilo, in turn, undertook to deliver and turn over the share of the other legal heir, petitioner Juan De Dios Carlos. Eventually, the first three (3) parcels of land were transferred and registered in the name of Teofilo. These three (3) lots are now covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 234824 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; TCT No. 139061 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; and TCT No. 139058 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City. Parcel No. 4 was registered in the name of petitioner. The lot is now covered by TCT No. 160401 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City. On May 13, 1992, Teofilo died intestate. He was survived by respondents Felicidad and their son, Teofilo Carlos II (Teofilo II). Upon Teofilos death, Parcel Nos. 5 & 6 were registered in the name of respondent Felicidad and co-respondent, Teofilo II. The said two (2) parcels of land are covered by TCT Nos. 219877 and 210878, respectively, issued by the Registry of Deeds of Manila. In 1994, petitioner instituted a suit against respondents before the RTC in Muntinlupa City, docketed as Civil Case No. 94-1964. In the said case, the parties submitted and caused the approval of a partial compromise agreement. Under the compromise, the parties acknowledged their respective shares in the proceeds from the sale of a portion of the first parcel of land. This includes the remaining 6,691-square-meter portion of said land. On September 17, 1994, the parties executed a deed of extrajudicial partition, dividing the remaining land of the first parcel between them. Meanwhile, in a separate case entitled Rillo v. Carlos,4 2,331 square meters of the second parcel of land were adjudicated in favor of plaintiffs Rillo. The remaining 10,000-square meter portion was later divided between petitioner and respondents.

The division was incorporated in a supplemental compromise agreement executed on August 17, 1994, with respect to Civil Case No. 94-1964. The parties submitted the supplemental compromise agreement, which was approved accordingly. Petitioner and respondents entered into two more contracts in August 1994. Under the contracts, the parties equally divided between them the third and fourth parcels of land. In August 1995, petitioner commenced an action, docketed as Civil Case No. 95-135, against respondents before the court a quo with the following causes of action: (a) declaration of nullity of marriage; (b) status of a child; (c) recovery of property; (d) reconveyance; and (e) sum of money and damages. The complaint was raffled to Branch 256 of the RTC in Muntinlupa. In his complaint, petitioner asserted that the marriage between his late brother Teofilo and respondent Felicidad was a nullity in view of the absence of the required marriage license. He likewise maintained that his deceased brother was neither the natural nor the adoptive father of respondent Teofilo Carlos II. Petitioner likewise sought the avoidance of the contracts he entered into with respondent Felicidad with respect to the subject real properties. He also prayed for the cancellation of the certificates of title issued in the name of respondents. He argued that the properties covered by such certificates of title, including the sums received by respondents as proceeds, should be reconveyed to him. Finally, petitioner claimed indemnification as and by way of moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees, litigation expenses, and costs of suit. On October 16, 1995, respondents submitted their answer. They denied the material averments of petitioners complaint. Respondents contended that the dearth of details regarding the requisite marriage license did not invalidate Felicidads marriage to Teofilo. Respondents declared that Teofilo II was the illegitimate child of the deceased Teofilo Carlos with another woman. On the grounds of lack of cause of action and lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, respondents prayed for the dismissal of the case before the trial court. They also asked that their counterclaims for moral and exemplary damages, as well as attorneys fees, be granted. But before the parties could even proceed to pre-trial, respondents moved for summary judgment. Attached to the motion was the affidavit of the justice of the peace who solemnized the marriage. Respondents also submitted the Certificate of Live Birth of respondent Teofilo II. In the certificate, the late Teofilo Carlos and respondent Felicidad were designated as parents. On January 5, 1996, petitioner opposed the motion for summary judgment on the ground of irregularity of the contract evidencing the marriage. In the same breath, petitioner lodged his own motion for summary judgment. Petitioner presented a certification from the Local Civil Registrar of Calumpit, Bulacan, certifying that there is no record of birth of respondent Teofilo II. Petitioner also incorporated in the counter-motion for summary judgment the testimony of respondent Felicidad in another case. Said testimony was made in Civil Case No. 89-2384, entitled Carlos v. Gorospe, before the RTC Branch 255, Las Pias. In her testimony, respondent Felicidad narrated that co-respondent Teofilo II is her child with Teofilo.5 Subsequently, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa submitted to the trial court its report and manifestation, discounting the possibility of collusion between the parties. RTC and CA Dispositions On April 8, 1996, the RTC rendered judgment, disposing as follows: WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendants (respondents) Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby denied. Plaintiffs (petitioners) Counter-Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby granted and summary judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff as follows: 1. Declaring the marriage between defendant Felicidad Sandoval and Teofilo Carlos solemnized at Silang, Cavite on May 14, 1962, evidenced by the Marriage Certificate submitted in this case, null and void ab initio for lack of the requisite marriage license; 2. Declaring that the defendant minor, Teofilo S. Carlos II, is not the natural, illegitimate, or legally adopted child of the late Teofilo E. Carlos; 3. Ordering defendant Sandoval to pay and restitute to plaintiff the sum ofP18,924,800.00 together with the interest thereon at the legal rate from date of filing of the instant complaint until fully paid; 4. Declaring plaintiff as the sole and exclusive owner of the parcel of land, less the portion adjudicated to plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 11975, covered by TCT No. 139061 of the Register of Deeds of Makati City, and ordering said Register of Deeds to cancel said title and to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein;

5. Declaring the Contract, Annex K of complaint, between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and void, and ordering the Register of Deeds of Makati City to cancel TCT No. 139058 in the name of Teofilo Carlos, and to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein; 6. Declaring the Contract, Annex M of the complaint, between plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null and void; 7. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210877 in the names of defendant Sandoval and defendant minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue another title in the exclusive name of plaintiff herein; 8. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 210878 in the name of defendant Sandoval and defendant Minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue another title in the sole name of plaintiff herein. Let this case be set for hearing for the reception of plaintiffs evidence on his claim for moral damages, exemplary damages, attorneys fees, appearance fees, and litigation expenses on June 7, 1996 at 1:30 oclock in the afternoon. SO ORDERED.6 Dissatisfied, respondents appealed to the CA. In the appeal, respondents argued, inter alia, that the trial court acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in rendering summary judgment annulling the marriage of Teofilo, Sr. and Felicidad and in declaring Teofilo II as not an illegitimate child of Teofilo, Sr. On October 15, 2002, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC ruling, disposing as follows: WHEREFORE, the summary judgment appealed from is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and in lieu thereof, a new one is entered REMANDING the case to the court of origin for further proceedings. SO ORDERED.7 The CA opined: We find the rendition of the herein appealed summary judgment by the court a quocontrary to law and public policy as ensconced in the aforesaid safeguards. The fact that it was appellants who first sought summary judgment from the trial court, did not justify the grant thereof in favor of appellee. Not being an action to recover upon a claim or to obtain a declaratory relief, the rule on summary judgment apply (sic) to an action to annul a marriage. The mere fact that no genuine issue was presented and the desire to expedite the disposition of the case cannot justify a misinterpretation of the rule. The first paragraph of Article 88 and 101 of the Civil Code expressly prohibit the rendition of decree of annulment of a marriage upon a stipulation of facts or a confession of judgment. Yet, the affidavits annexed to the petition for summary judgment practically amount to these methods explicitly proscribed by the law. We are not unmindful of appellees argument that the foregoing safeguards have traditionally been applied to prevent collusion of spouses in the matter of dissolution of marriages and that the death of Teofilo Carlos on May 13, 1992 had effectively dissolved the marriage herein impugned. The fact, however, that appellees own brother and appellant Felicidad Sandoval lived together as husband and wife for thirty years and that the annulment of their marriage is the very means by which the latter is sought to be deprived of her participation in the estate left by the former call for a closer and more thorough inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the case. Rather that the summary nature by which the court a quo resolved the issues in the case, the rule is to the effect that the material facts alleged in the complaint for annulment of marriage should always be proved. Section 1, Rule 19 of the Revised Rules of Court provides: Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. - Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse partys pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved. (Underscoring supplied) Moreover, even if We were to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary judgment to the case at bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the court a quofor appellee would still not be warranted. While it may be readily conceded that a valid marriage license is among the formal requisites of marriage, the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) in relation to Article 58 of the Civil Code the failure to reflect the serial number of the marriage license on the marriage contract evidencing the marriage between Teofilo Carlos and appellant Felicidad Sandoval, although irregular, is not as fatal as appellee represents it to be. Aside from the dearth of evidence to the contrary, appellant Felicidad Sandovals affirmation of the existence of said marriage license is corroborated by the following statement in the affidavit executed by Godofredo Fojas, then Justice of the Peace who officiated the impugned marriage, to wit: That as far as I could remember, there was a marriage license issued at Silang, Cavite on May 14, 1962 as basis of the said marriage contract executed by Teofilo Carlos and Felicidad Sandoval, but the number of said marriage license was inadvertently not placed in the marriage contract for the reason that it was the Office Clerk who filled up the blanks in the Marriage Contract who in turn, may have overlooked the same.

Rather than the inferences merely drawn by the trial court, We are of the considered view that the veracity and credibility of the foregoing statement as well as the motivations underlying the same should be properly threshed out in a trial of the case on the merits. If the non-presentation of the marriage contract the primary evidence of marriage is not proof that a marriage did not take place, neither should appellants non-presentation of the subject marriage license be taken as proof that the same was not procured. The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage, it must be emphasized, rests upon the plaintiff and any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage. Considering that the burden of proof also rests on the party who disputes the legitimacy of a particular party, the same may be said of the trial courts rejection of the relationship between appellant Teofilo Carlos II and his putative father on the basis of the inconsistencies in appellant Felicidad Sandovals statements. Although it had effectively disavowed appellants prior claims regarding the legitimacy of appellant Teofilo Carlos II, the averment in the answer that he is the illegitimate son of appellees brother, to Our mind, did not altogether foreclose the possibility of the said appellants illegitimate filiation, his right to prove the same or, for that matter, his entitlement to inheritance rights as such. Without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case, We find appellees bare allegation that appellant Teofilo Carlos II was merely purchased from an indigent couple by appellant Felicidad Sandoval, on the whole, insufficient to support what could well be a minors total forfeiture of the rights arising from his putative filiation. Inconsistent though it may be to her previous statements, appellant Felicidad Sandovals declaration regarding the illegitimate filiation of Teofilo Carlos II is more credible when considered in the light of the fact that, during the last eight years of his life, Teofilo Carlos allowed said appellant the use of his name and the shelter of his household. The least that the trial court could have done in the premises was to conduct a trial on the merits in order to be able to thoroughly resolve the issues pertaining to the filiation of appellant Teofilo Carlos II.8 On November 22, 2006, petitioner moved for reconsideration and for the inhibition of the ponente, Justice Rebecca De Guia-Salvador. The CA denied the twin motions. Issues In this petition under Rule 45, petitioner hoists the following issues: 1. That, in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment under the Decision, Annex A hereof, and in denying petitioners Motion for reconsideration under the Resolution, Annex F hereof, with respect to the nullity of the impugned marriage, petitioner respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed a grave reversibleerror in applying Articles 88 and 101 of the Civil Code, despite the fact that the circumstances of this case are different from that contemplated and intended by law, or has otherwise decided a question of substance not theretofore decided by the Supreme Court, or has decided it in a manner probably not in accord with law or with the applicable decisions of this Honorable Court; 2. That in setting aside and reversing the Summary Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed a serious reversible error in applying Section 1, Rule 19 (now Section 1, Rule 34) of the Rules of Court providing for judgment on the pleadings, instead of Rule 35 governing Summary Judgments; 3. That in reversing and setting aside the Summary Judgment and, in lieu thereof, entering another remanding the case to the court of origin for further proceedings, petitioner most respectfully submits that the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion, disregarded judicial admissions, made findings on ground of speculations, surmises, and conjectures, or otherwise committed misapplications of the laws and misapprehension of the facts.9 (Underscoring supplied) Essentially, the Court is tasked to resolve whether a marriage may be declared void ab initio through a judgment on the pleadings or a summary judgment and without the benefit of a trial. But there are other procedural issues, including the capacity of one who is not a spouse in bringing the action for nullity of marriage. Our Ruling I. The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage must be proved. Neither judgment on the pleadings nor summary judgment is allowed. So is confession of judgment disallowed. Petitioner faults the CA in applying Section 1, Rule 1910 of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides: SECTION 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse partys pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. But in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation, the material facts alleged in the complaint shall always be proved.

He argues that the CA should have applied Rule 35 of the Rules of Court governing summary judgment, instead of the rule on judgment on the pleadings. Petitioner is misguided. The CA did not limit its finding solely within the provisions of the Rule on judgment on the pleadings. In disagreeing with the trial court, the CA likewise considered the provisions on summary judgments, to wit: Moreover, even if We are to sustain the applicability of the rules on summary judgment to the case at bench, Our perusal of the record shows that the finding of the court a quofor appellee would still not be warranted. x x x11 But whether it is based on judgment on the pleadings or summary judgment, the CA was correct in reversing the summary judgment rendered by the trial court. Both the rules on judgment on the pleadings and summary judgments have no place in cases of declaration of absolute nullity of marriage and even in annulment of marriage. With the advent of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, known as Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, the question on the application of summary judgments or even judgment on the pleadings in cases of nullity or annulment of marriage has been stamped with clarity. The significant principle laid down by the said Rule, which took effect on March 15, 200312 is found in Section 17,viz.: SEC. 17. Trial. (1) The presiding judge shall personally conduct the trial of the case. No delegation of evidence to a commissioner shall be allowed except as to matters involving property relations of the spouses. (2) The grounds for declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of marriage must be proved. No judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or confession of judgmentshall be allowed. (Underscoring supplied) Likewise instructive is the Courts pronouncement in Republic v. Sandiganbayan.13 In that case, We excluded actions for nullity or annulment of marriage from the application of summary judgments. Prescinding from the foregoing discussion, save for annulment of marriage or declaration of its nullity or for legal separation, summary judgment is applicable to all kinds of actions.14 (Underscoring supplied) By issuing said summary judgment, the trial court has divested the State of its lawful right and duty to intervene in the case. The participation of the State is not terminated by the declaration of the public prosecutor that no collusion exists between the parties. The State should have been given the opportunity to present controverting evidence before the judgment was rendered.15 Both the Civil Code and the Family Code ordain that the court should order the prosecuting attorney to appear and intervene for the State. It is at this stage when the public prosecutor sees to it that there is no suppression of evidence. Concomitantly, even if there is no suppression of evidence, the public prosecutor has to make sure that the evidence to be presented or laid down before the court is not fabricated. To further bolster its role towards the preservation of marriage, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages reiterates the duty of the public prosecutor, viz.: SEC. 13. Effect of failure to appear at the pre-trial. (a) x x x (b) x x x If there is no collusion, the court shall require the public prosecutor to intervene for the State during the trial on the merits to prevent suppression or fabrication of evidence. (Underscoring supplied) Truly, only the active participation of the public prosecutor or the Solicitor General will ensure that the interest of the State is represented and protected in proceedings for declaration of nullity of marriages by preventing the fabrication or suppression of evidence.16 II. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or wife. Exceptions: (1) Nullity of marriage cases commenced before the effectivity of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC; and (2) Marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil Code. Under the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may not be filed by any party outside of the marriage. The Rule made it exclusively a right of the spouses by stating: SEC. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. (a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife. (Underscoring supplied)

Section 2(a) of the Rule makes it the sole right of the husband or the wife to file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage. The rationale of the Rule is enlightening, viz.: Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they do not have a legal right to file the petition. Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the death of their predecessor, and, hence, can only question the validity of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts. On the other hand, the concern of the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its dissolution.17 (Underscoring supplied) The new Rule recognizes that the husband and the wife are the sole architects of a healthy, loving, peaceful marriage. They are the only ones who can decide when and how to build the foundations of marriage. The spouses alone are the engineers of their marital life. They are simultaneously the directors and actors of their matrimonial true-to-life play. Hence, they alone can and should decide when to take a cut, but only in accordance with the grounds allowed by law. The innovation incorporated in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC sets forth a demarcation line between marriages covered by the Family Code and those solemnized under the Civil Code. The Rule extends only to marriages entered into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988.18 The advent of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages marks the beginning of the end of the right of the heirs of the deceased spouse to bring a nullity of marriage case against the surviving spouse. But the Rule never intended to deprive the compulsory or intestate heirs of their successional rights. While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife, it does not mean that the compulsory or intestate heirs are without any recourse under the law. They can still protect their successional right, for, as stated in the Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, compulsory or intestate heirs can still question the validity of the marriage of the spouses, not in a proceeding for declaration of nullity but upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts.19 It is emphasized, however, that the Rule does not apply to cases already commenced before March 15, 2003 although the marriage involved is within the coverage of the Family Code. This is so, as the new Rule which became effective on March 15, 2003 20is prospective in its application. Thus, the Court held in Enrico v. Heirs of Sps. Medinaceli,21 viz.: As has been emphasized, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC covers marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines, and is prospective in its application.22 (Underscoring supplied) Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage case against respondent Felicidad in 1995. The marriage in controversy was celebrated on May 14, 1962. Which law would govern depends upon when the marriage took place.23 The marriage having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable law is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration.24 But the Civil Code is silent as to who may bring an action to declare the marriage void. Does this mean that any person can bring an action for the declaration of nullity of marriage? We respond in the negative. The absence of a provision in the Civil Code cannot be construed as a license for any person to institute a nullity of marriage case. Such person must appear to be the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.25 Elsewise stated, plaintiff must be the real party-in-interest. For it is basic in procedural law that every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party-in-interest.26 Interest within the meaning of the rule means material interest or an interest in issue to be affected by the decree or judgment of the case, as distinguished from mere curiosity about the question involved or a mere incidental interest. One having no material interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as plaintiff in an action. When plaintiff is not the real party-in-interest, the case is dismissible on the ground of lack of cause of action.27 Illuminating on this point is Amor-Catalan v. Court of Appeals,28 where the Court held: True, under the New Civil Code which is the law in force at the time the respondents were married, or even in the Family Code, there is no specific provision as to who can file a petition to declare the nullity of marriage; however, only a party who can demonstrate proper interest can file the same. A petition to declare the nullity of marriage, like any other actions, must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest and must be based on a cause of action. Thus, in Nial v. Badayog, the Court held that the children have the personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage of their deceased father to their stepmother as it affects their successional rights. xxxx

In fine, petitioners personality to file the petition to declare the nullity of marriage cannot be ascertained because of the absence of the divorce decree and the foreign law allowing it. Hence, a remand of the case to the trial court for reception of additional evidence is necessary to determine whether respondent Orlando was granted a divorce decree and whether the foreign law which granted the same allows or restricts remarriage. If it is proved that a valid divorce decree was obtained and the same did not allow respondent Orlandos remarriage, then the trial court should declare respondents marriage as bigamous and void ab initio but reduced the amount of moral damages from P300,000.00 to P50,000.00 and exemplary damages fromP200,000.00 to P25,000.00. On the contrary, if it is proved that a valid divorce decree was obtained which allowed Orlando to remarry, then the trial court must dismiss the instant petition to declare nullity of marriage on the ground that petitioner Felicitas Amor-Catalan lacks legal personality to file the same.29 (Underscoring supplied) III. The case must be remanded to determine whether or not petitioner is a real-party-in-interest to seek the declaration of nullity of the marriage in controversy. In the case at bench, the records reveal that when Teofilo died intestate in 1992, his only surviving compulsory heirs are respondent Felicidad and their son, Teofilo II. Under the law on succession, successional rights are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent and the compulsory heirs are called to succeed by operation of law.30 Upon Teofilos death in 1992, all his property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the inheritance are transmitted to his compulsory heirs. These heirs were respondents Felicidad and Teofilo II, as the surviving spouse and child, respectively. Article 887 of the Civil Code outlined who are compulsory heirs, to wit: (1) Legitimate children and descendants, with respect to their legitimate parents and ascendants; (2) In default of the foregoing, legitimate parents and ascendants, with respect to their legitimate children and descendants; (3) The widow or widower; (4) Acknowledged natural children, and natural children by legal fiction; (5) Other illegitimate children referred to in Article 287 of the Civil Code.31 Clearly, a brother is not among those considered as compulsory heirs. But although a collateral relative, such as a brother, does not fall within the ambit of a compulsory heir, he still has a right to succeed to the estate. Articles 1001 and 1003 of the New Civil Code provide: ART. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower, the latter shall be entitled to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the other half. ART. 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased in accordance with the following articles. (Underscoring supplied) Indeed, only the presence of descendants, ascendants or illegitimate children excludes collateral relatives from succeeding to the estate of the decedent. The presence of legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted child or children of the deceased precludes succession by collateral relatives.32 Conversely, if there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the decedent.33 If respondent Teofilo II is declared and finally proven not to be the legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of Teofilo, petitioner would then have a personality to seek the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. This is so, considering that collateral relatives, like a brother and sister, acquire successional right over the estate if the decedent dies without issue and without ascendants in the direct line. The records reveal that Teofilo was predeceased by his parents. He had no other siblings but petitioner. Thus, if Teofilo II is finally found and proven to be not a legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of Teofilo, petitioner succeeds to the other half of the estate of his brother, the first half being allotted to the widow pursuant to Article 1001 of the New Civil Code. This makes petitioner a real-partyinterest to seek the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage of his deceased brother with respondent Felicidad. If the subject marriage is found to be void ab initio, petitioner succeeds to the entire estate. It bears stressing, however, that the legal personality of petitioner to bring the nullity of marriage case is contingent upon the final declaration that Teofilo II is not a legitimate, adopted, or illegitimate son of Teofilo. If Teofilo II is proven to be a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted son of Teofilo, then petitioner has no legal personality to ask for the nullity of marriage of his deceased brother and respondent Felicidad. This is based on the ground that he has no successional right to be protected, hence, does not have proper interest. For although the marriage in controversy may be found to be void from the

beginning, still, petitioner would not inherit. This is because the presence of descendant, illegitimate, 34 or even an adopted child35 excludes the collateral relatives from inheriting from the decedent. Thus, the Court finds that a remand of the case for trial on the merits to determine the validity or nullity of the subject marriage is called for. But the RTC is strictly instructed to dismiss the nullity of marriage case for lack of cause of action if it is proven by evidence that Teofilo II is a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted son of Teofilo Carlos, the deceased brother of petitioner. IV. Remand of the case regarding the question of filiation of respondent Teofilo II is proper and in order. There is a need to vacate the disposition of the trial court as to the other causes of action before it. Petitioner did not assign as error or interpose as issue the ruling of the CA on the remand of the case concerning the filiation of respondent Teofilo II. This notwithstanding, We should not leave the matter hanging in limbo. This Court has the authority to review matters not specifically raised or assigned as error by the parties, if their consideration is necessary in arriving at a just resolution of the case.36 We agree with the CA that without trial on the merits having been conducted in the case, petitioners bare allegation that respondent Teofilo II was adopted from an indigent couple is insufficient to support a total forfeiture of rights arising from his putative filiation. However, We are not inclined to support its pronouncement that the declaration of respondent Felicidad as to the illegitimate filiation of respondent Teofilo II is more credible. For the guidance of the appellate court, such declaration of respondent Felicidad should not be afforded credence. We remind the CA of the guaranty provided by Article 167 of the Family Code to protect the status of legitimacy of a child, to wit: ARTICLE 167. The child shall be considered legitimate although the mother may have declared against its legitimacy or may have been sentenced as an adulteress. (Underscoring supplied) It is stressed that Felicidads declaration against the legitimate status of Teofilo II is the very act that is proscribed by Article 167 of the Family Code. The language of the law is unmistakable. An assertion by the mother against the legitimacy of her child cannot affect the legitimacy of a child born or conceived within a valid marriage.37 Finally, the disposition of the trial court in favor of petitioner for causes of action concerning reconveyance, recovery of property, and sum of money must be vacated. This has to be so, as said disposition was made on the basis of its finding that the marriage in controversy was null and void ab initio. WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is MODIFIED as follows: 1. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court in regard to the action on the status and filiation of respondent Teofilo Carlos II and the validity or nullity of marriage between respondent Felicidad Sandoval and the late Teofilo Carlos; 2. If Teofilo Carlos II is proven to be the legitimate, or illegitimate, or legally adopted son of the late Teofilo Carlos, the RTC is strictly INSTRUCTED to DISMISS the action for nullity of marriage for lack of cause of action; 3. The disposition of the RTC in Nos. 1 to 8 of the fallo of its decision is VACATED AND SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to conduct trial on the merits with dispatch and to give this case priority in its calendar. No costs. SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. 173294, February 27, 2008] RENNE ENRIQUE BIER, G.R. No. 173294 Petitioner, vs. MA. LOURDES A. BIER and THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents. DECISION CORONA, J.: This petition for review on certiorari[1] seeks to set aside the March 20, 2006 decision[2] and July 3, 2006 resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 66952. Petitioner Renne Enrique E. Bier met respondent Ma. Lourdes A. Bier through his sister. Their courtship, which blossomed as a result of the exchange of long distance calls between them, lasted six months. Back then, petitioner observed respondent to be a very sweet and thoughtful person. This, he said, made him fall in love with her. On July 26, 1992, six months after their first meeting, they were married at the UST Santissimo Rosario Parish Church. Everything went well for the first three years of their marriage. Respondent was everything petitioner could hope for in a wife sweet, loving and caring. She also took good care of the house. As petitioner was based in Saudi Arabia as an electronics technician at Saudia Airlines, the parties decided to maintain two residences, one in the Philippines and another in Saudi Arabia. They took turns shuttling between the two countries just so they could spend time together. The couple started experiencing marital problems after three years of marriage. According to petitioner, respondent ceased to be the person he knew and married. She started becoming aloof towards him and began to spend more time with her friends than with him, refusing even to have sexual relations with him for no apparent reason. She became an alcoholic and a chain-smoker. She also started neglecting her husband's needs and the upkeep of their home, and became an absentee wife. After being gone from their home for days on end, she would return without bothering to account for her absence. As a result, they frequently quarreled. Finally, on April 10, 1997, respondent suddenly left for the United States. Petitioner has not heard from her since. On April 1, 1998, petitioner instituted in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 89, a petition for the declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to fulfill her essential marital obligations to petitioner. It was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-98-33993. Per sheriff's return, summons was served through substituted service as personal service proved futile. Respondent, however, did not file an answer. Thereafter, the RTC ordered Assistant City Prosecutor Edgardo T. Paragua to investigate if there was collusion between the parties and to intervene for the State to see to it that evidence was not fabricated. Assistant City Prosecutor Paragua manifested that, since both parties failed to appear before him, he was unable to make a ruling on the issue of collusion and determine if the evidence was fabricated. After petitioner filed his pre-trial brief, Prosecutor Paragua filed a second manifestation stating that petitioner had appeared before him and that, after investigation, he was convinced that there was no collusion between the parties and that the evidence was not fabricated. At pre-trial, only petitioner appeared. As respondent failed to attend the same, the RTC declared her to have waived the pre-trial. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued. Again, respondent did not take part in the proceedings. Petitioner filed a written offer of exhibits which was admitted by the trial court. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a certification and manifested its disfavor towards declaring the marriage null and void. It argued that no persuasive evidence was presented warranting the grant of the petition, specially since petitioner failed to comply with the guidelines laid down in Republic v. CA and Molina[4] (Molina). After trial, the trial court rendered judgment[5] granting the petition: WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring as VOID, based upon the respondent's psychological incapacity, the marriage contracted on July 26, 1992 between Renne Enrique E. Bier and Ma. Lourdes A. Bier. As such, their property relations shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership pursuant to Article 147 of the Family Code. Henceforth, their property

relations shall be governed by the regime of complete separation of property. Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Civil Registrar General, National Census and Statistics Office and the Local Civil Registrar of Manila, ordering them to attach a copy of this Decision to the Marriage Contract of herein petitioner and respondent on file with respective office. With costs against the respondent. SO ORDERED. Respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the OSG, appealed the decision of the RTC to the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 66952. The CA held that petitioner failed to comply with the guidelines laid down in Molina as the root cause of respondent's psychological incapacity was not medically or clinically identified. Worse, the same was not even alleged in the petition filed in the court a quo. As such, it granted the appeal and reversed the decision of the trial court. The dispositive portion of the assailed decision[6] read: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated 06 March 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 89 in Civil Case No. Q-98-33993, which declared as void the marriage between appellee and respondent, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The marriage of Renne Enrique E. Bier and respondent Ma. Lourdes A. Bier remains valid and subsisting. No costs. SO ORDERED. Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the CA decision. The same was denied. Hence, this recourse. Petitioner contends that the guidelines enunciated in Molina, specifically its directive that the root cause of the psychological incapacity must be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained, and that it must be proven to be existing at the inception of the marriage, need not be strictly complied with as Molina itself stated the guidelines were merely handed down for the guidance of the bench and bar and were not meant to be a checklist of requirements in deciding cases involving psychological incapacity. Furthermore, even assuming arguendo that the Molina doctrine should be applied, the RTC erred in ruling that he failed to comply therewith. The petition must fail. Preliminarily, we must pass upon petitioners argument that the finding of the trial court on the existence or non-existence of psychological incapacity is final and binding on us absent any showing that its factual findings and evaluation of the evidence were clearly and manifestly erroneous.[7] Petitioners position is of course the general rule. In the instant case, however, it is the exception to the general rule which must be applied; the court a quo clearly erred in granting the petition. It stated in the body of its decision that: While this Court agrees with the observation of the Office of the Solicitor General that the juridical antecedence of the psychological disorder and its root cause were not established, the same will not serve as a hindrance for the Court to declare that respondent is indeed suffering from a psychological incapacity. The failure of the Psychological Report to identify the root cause of respondent's psychological incapacity is not a fatal flaw that will prevent the Court from declaring a marriage a nullity based on psychological incapacity. (Emphasis supplied) The trial court apparently overlooked the fact that this Court has been consistent in holding that if a petition for nullity based on psychological incapacity is to be given due course, its gravity, root cause, incurability and the fact that it existed prior to or at the time of celebration of the marriage must always be proved.[8] As early as Santos v. CA, et al.,[9] we already held that: [P]sychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability. The incapacity must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in marriage; it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and it must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved. xxx This psychologic condition must exist at the time the marriage is celebrated. xxx (Emphasis supplied) These must be strictly complied with as the granting of a petition for nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity must be confined only to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.[10] This is specially so since the Family Code does not define psychological incapacity. The determination thereof is left solely to the discretion of the courts and must be made on a case-to-case basis.[11] Also, even if Molina was never meant to be a checklist of the requirements in deciding cases involving Article 36 (psychological incapacity) of the Family Code, a showing of the gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability of the party's psychological incapacity and its existence at the inception of the marriage cannot be dispensed with. In Marcos v. Marcos (Marcos),[12] a case cited by petitioner to support his argument that the totality of evidence presented was enough to prove the existence of respondent's psychological incapacity, this Court reiterated that:

The [Molina] guidelines incorporate the three basic requirements earlier mandated by the Court in Santos v. Court of Appeals: psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability.The foregoing guidelines do not require that a physician examine the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated. In fact, the root cause may be medically or clinically identified. What is important is the presence of evidence that can adequately establish the party's psychological condition. For indeed, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to. xxx xxx xxx [t]he totality of his acts does not lead to a conclusion of psychological incapacity on his part. There is absolutely no showing that his defects were already present at the inception of the marriage or that they are incurable. (Emphasis supplied) Furthermore, the 2005 case of Republic v. Iyoy [13] held that even if Marcos (2000) relaxed the rules such that the personal examination of the party alleged to be psychologically incapacitated by a psychiatrist or psychologist is no longer mandatory for the declaration of nullity of the marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, the totality of evidence must still prove the gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability of the alleged psychological incapacity. Failure in this regard will spell the failure of the petition. From the foregoing, one can conclude that petitioner's insistence that Marcoseffectively overturned the need to present evidence on the aforesaid requirements has no merit. Thus, unless the law itself or the Court provides otherwise, these requirements must be established before a petition for nullity of the marriage based on psychological incapacity can be granted. We hold that the trial court's decision to declare the parties' marriage void ab initio by reason of respondent's psychological incapacity was clearly and manifestly erroneous as it overlooked the need to show the gravity, root cause and incurability of respondent's psychological incapacity and that it was already present at the inception of the marriage. Be that as it may, the main question that begs to be answered in the instant case is whether the totality of the evidence presented was enough to establish that respondent was psychologically incapacitated to perform her essential marital obligations. We rule in the negative. Petitioner had the burden of proving the nullity of his marriage with respondent.[14]He failed to discharge it. The evidence for petitioner consisted of his own testimony and that of his brother, Roderico Bier. He also presented as evidence a psychological report written by Dr. Nedy Tayag, a clinical psychologist, who also testified on the matters contained therein. Dr. Tayag's report, which found respondent to be suffering from psychological incapacity, particularly a narcissistic personality disorder, relied only on the information fed by petitioner. This was admitted by petitioner in his petition for review on certiorari and memorandum filed in this Court. In both instances, petitioner reasoned out that the personal examination of respondent was impossible as her whereabouts were unknown despite diligent efforts on his part to find her. Consequently, Dr. Tayag's report was really hearsay evidence since she had no personal knowledge of the alleged facts she was testifying on. Her testimony should have thus been dismissed for being unscientific and unreliable.[15] Furthermore, as already stated, the report also failed to identify the root cause of respondent's narcissistic personality disorder and to prove that it existed at the inception of the marriage. It merely concluded that: This extremely egocentric attitude manifest a person suffering Narcissistic Personality Disorder that is considered to be severe, incurable and deeply rooted with her functioning. Thus, making herself psychologically incapacitated so as to comply with the essential marital functions. Although there is no requirement that a party to be declared psychologically incapacitated should be personally examined by a physician or a psychologist (as a condition sine qua non), there is nevertheless still a need to prove the psychological incapacity through independent evidence adduced by the person alleging said disorder.[16] In the case at bar, petitioner was able to establish that respondent was remiss in her duties as a wife and had become a happy-golucky woman who failed to attend to her husband's needs and who eventually abandoned him. However, the totality of her acts, as testified to by petitioner and his brother, was not tantamount to a psychological incapacity, as petitioner would have us believe. Habitual alcoholism, chain-smoking, failure or refusal to meet one's duties and responsibilities as a married person and eventual abandonment of a spouse do not suffice to nullify a marriage on the basis of psychological incapacity, if not shown to be due to some psychological (as opposed to physical) illness.[17] The undeniable fact is that the marriage, according to petitioner's own evidence, was off to a good start. According to him, respondent used to be a sweet, loving and caring wife who took good care of him and their home. She even willingly consented to the difficult living arrangement of taking turns in going back and forth between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia just so they could be together. Perhaps it was this unusual arrangement which took a heavy toll on their relationship. They barely saw and spent time with each other.

Respondent could have gotten used to petitioners absence. And although absence can indeed make the heart grow fonder, the opposite can just as well be true: out of sight, out of mind. The couple drifted apart and respondent obviously fell out of love with petitioner. Nevertheless, we agree with the CA that the change in respondent's feelings towards petitioner could hardly be described as a psychological illness. It was not enough that respondent, the party adverted to as psychologically incapacitated to comply with her marital obligations, had difficulty or was unwilling to perform the same. Proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor, an adverse integral element in respondent's personality structure that effectively incapacitated her from complying with her essential marital obligations,[18] had to be shown. This petitioner failed to do. Consequently, we are unconvinced that respondent's condition was rooted in some incapacitating or debilitating disorder. Even if we assume the correctness of petitioner's contention that the Molina guidelines are not set in stone, there is still no reason to disavow the same as the facts and circumstances in this case do not warrant a deviation therefrom. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The March 20, 2006 decision and July 3, 2006 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CV No. 66952 are AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

Puno, C.J., (Chairperson), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Azcuna, and Leonardo-De Castro, JJ.,concur.

SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION

LESTER BENJAMIN S. HALILI, Petitioner,

G.R. No. 165424

Present:

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, CORONA, - versus VELASCO, JR.,* LEONARDO-DE CASTRO and PERALTA,** JJ.

CHONA M. SANTOS-HALILI and THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents. Promulgated: June 9, 2009

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

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:

This resolves the motion for reconsideration of the April 16, 2008 resolution of this Court denying petitioners petition for review on certiorari (under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court). The petition sought to set aside the January 26,

2004 decision[1] and September 24, 2004 resolution[2] of the Court of

Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 60010.

Petitioner Lester Benjamin S. Halili filed a petition to declare his marriage to respondent Chona M. Santos-Halili null and void on the basis of his psychological incapacity to perform the essential obligations of marriage in the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Pasig City, Branch 158.

He alleged that he wed respondent in civil rites thinking that it was a joke. After the ceremonies, they never lived together as husband and wife, but maintained the relationship. However, they started fighting constantly a year later, at which point petitioner decided to stop seeing respondent and started dating other women. Immediately thereafter, he received prank calls telling him to stop dating other women as he was already a married man. It was only upon making an inquiry that he found out that the marriage was not fake.

Eventually, the RTC found petitioner to be suffering from a mixed personality disorder, particularly dependent and selfdefeating personality disorder, as diagnosed by his expert witness, Dr. Natividad Dayan. The court a quo held that petitioners personality disorder was serious and incurable and directly affected his capacity to comply with his essential marital obligations to respondent. It thus declared the marriage null and void.[3]

On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court on the ground that the totality of the evidence presented failed to establish petitioners psychological incapacity. Petitioner moved for reconsideration. It was denied.

The case was elevated to this Court via a petition for review under Rule 45. We affirmed the CAs decision and resolution upholding the validity of the marriage.

Petitioner then filed this motion for reconsideration reiterating his argument that his marriage to respondent ought to be declared null and void on the basis of his psychological incapacity. He stressed that the evidence he presented, especially the testimony of his expert witness, was more than enough to sustain the findings and conclusions of the trial court that he was and still is psychologically incapable of complying with the essential obligations of marriage.

We grant the motion for reconsideration.

In the recent case of Te v. Yu-Te and the Republic of the Philippines,[4] this Court reiterated that courts should interpret the provision on psychological incapacity (as a ground for the declaration of nullity of a marriage) on a case-to-case basis guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines and by decisions of church tribunals.

Accordingly, we emphasized that, by the very nature of Article 36, courts, despite having the primary task and burden of decision-making, must consider as essential the expert opinion on the psychological and mental disposition of the parties. [5]

In this case, the testimony[6] of petitioners expert witness revealed that petitioner was suffering from dependent personality disorder. Thus:

Q. Dr. Dayan, going back to the examinations and interviews which you conducted, can you briefly tell this court your findings [and] conclusions?

A. Well, the petitioner is suffering from a personality disorder. It is a mixed personality disorder from selfdefeating personality disorder to [dependent] personality disorder and this is brought about by [a] dysfunctional family that petitioner had. He also suffered from partner relational problem during his marriage with Chona. There were lots of fights and it was not truly a marriage, sir.

Q. Now, what made you conclude that Lester is suffering from psychological incapacity to handle the essential obligations of marriage?

A. Sir, for the reason that his motivation for marriage was very questionable. It was a very impulsive decision. I dont think he understood what it meant to really be married and after the marriage, there was no consummation, there was no sexual intercourse, he never lived with the respondent. And after three months he refused to see or talk with the respondent and afterwards, I guess the relationship died a natural death, and he never thought it was a really serious matter at all.

xx xx xx

Q. Likewise, you stated here in your evaluation that Lester Halili and respondent suffered from a grave lack of discretionary judgment. Can you expound on this? A. xx xx I dont think they truly appreciate the civil [rites which] they had undergone. [It was] just a spur of the moment decision that they should get married xx xx I dont think they truly considered themselves married.

xx xx xx

Q. Now [from] what particular portion of their marriage were you able to conclude xx xx that petitioner and respondent are suffering from psychological incapacity?

A. xx xx they never lived together[.] [T]hey never had a residence, they never consummated the marriage. During the very short relationship they had, there were frequent quarrels and so there might be a problem also of lack of respect [for] each other and afterwards there was abandonment.

In Te, this Court defined dependent personality disorder[7] as [a] personality disorder characterized by a pattern of dependent and submissive behavior. Such individuals usually lack self-esteem and frequently belittle their capabilities; they fear criticism and are easily hurt by others comments. At times they actually bring about dominance by others through a quest for overprotection.

Dependent personality disorder usually begins in early adulthood. Individuals who have this disorder may be unable to make everyday decisions without advice or reassurance from others, may allow others to make most of their important decisions (such as where to live), tend to agree with people even when they believe they are wrong, have difficulty starting projects or doing things on their own, volunteer to do things that are demeaning in order to get approval from other people, feel uncomfortable or helpless when alone and are often preoccupied with fears of being abandoned.

In her psychological report,[8] Dr. Dayan stated that petitioners dependent personality disorder was evident in the fact that petitioner was very much attached to his parents and depended on them for decisions.[9] Petitioners mother even had to be the one to

tell him to seek legal help when he felt confused on what action to take upon learning that his marriage to respondent was for real.[10]

Dr. Dayan further observed that, as expected of persons suffering from a dependent personality disorder, petitioner typically acted in a self-denigrating manner and displayed a self-defeating attitude. This submissive attitude encouraged other people to take advantage of him.[11] This could be seen in the way petitioner allowed himself to be dominated, first, by his father who treated his family like robots[12] and, later, by respondent who was as domineering as his father. [13] When petitioner could no longer take respondents domineering ways, he preferred to hide from her rather than confront her and tell her outright that he wanted to end their marriage.[14]

Dr. Dayan traced petitioners personality disorder to his dysfunctional family life, to wit:[15]

Q. And what might be the root cause of such psychological incapacity?

A. Sir, I mentioned awhile ago that Lesters family is dysfunctional. The father was very abusive, very domineering. The mother has been very unhappy and the children never had affirmation. They might [have been] x x x given financial support because the father was [a] very affluent person but it was never an intact family. x x x The wife and the children were practically robots. And so, I would say Lester grew up, not having self-confidence, very immature and somehow not truly understand[ing] what [it] meant to be a husband, what [it] meant to have a real family life.

Ultimately, Dr. Dayan concluded that petitioners personality disorder was grave and incurable and already existent at the time of the celebration of his marriage to respondent.[16]

It has been sufficiently established that petitioner had a psychological condition that was grave and incurable and had a deeply rooted cause. This Court, in the same Tecase, recognized that individuals with diagnosable personality disorders usually have long-term concerns, and thus therapy may be long-term.[17] Particularly, personality disorders are long-standing, inflexible ways of behaving that are not so much severe mental disorders as dysfunctional styles of living. These disorders affect all areas of functioning

and, beginning in childhood or adolescence, create problems for those who display them and for others.[18]

From the foregoing, it has been shown that petitioner is indeed suffering from psychological incapacity that effectively renders him unable to perform the essential obligations of marriage. Accordingly, the marriage between petitioner and respondent is declared null and void.

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. The April 16, 2008 resolution of this Court and the January 26, 2004 decision and September 24, 2004 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 60010 are SET ASIDE.

The decision of the Regional Trial Court, Pasig City, Branch 158 dated April 17, 1998 is hereby REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.