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G.R. No.

214064

MIRASOL CASTILLO, Petitioner


vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES and FELIPE IMPAS, Respondents

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

We resolve the petition for review on certiorari filed by petitioner Mirasol


Castillo (Mirasol) challenging the Decision1and Resolution,2 dated March 10, 2014 and August 28,
2014, respectively, of the Court of Appeals (CA), which ruled against the dissolution and nullity of
her marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.

The facts of the case follow:

As their parents were good friends and business partners, Mirasol and Felipe started as friends then,
eventually, became sweethearts. During their courtship, Mirasol discovered that Felipe sustained his
affair with his former girlfriend. The couple's relationship turned tumultuous after the revelation. With
the intervention of their parents, they reconciled. They got married in Bani, Pangasinan on April 22,
1984 and were blessed with two (2) children born in 1992 and in 2001.3

On June 6, 2011, Mirasol filed a Complaint4 for declaration of nullity of marriage before the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Dasmariñas, Cavite, Branch 90.

Mirasol alleged that at the beginning, their union was harmonious prompting her to believe that the
same was made in heaven. However, after thirteen (13) years of marriage, Felipe resumed
philandering. Their relatives and friends saw him with different women. One time, she has just
arrived from a trip and returned home to surprise her family. But to her consternation, she caught
him in a compromising act with another woman. He did not bother to explain or apologize. Tired of
her husband's infidelity, she left the conjugal dwelling and stopped any communication with
him.5Felipe's irresponsible acts like cohabiting with another woman, not communicating with her, and
not supporting their children for a period of not less than ten (10) years without any reason,
constitute a severe psychological disorder.6

In support of her case, Mirasol presented clinical psychologist Sheila Marie


Montefalcon (Montefalcon) who, in her Psychological Evaluation Report,7 concluded that Felipe is
psychologically incapacitated to fulfill the essential marital obligations. A portion of the report reads:

x x xx

The personality disorder speaks of antecedence as it has an early onset, with an enduring pattern
and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture. His poor
parental and family molding (particularly lack of parental parenting) caused him to have a defective
superego and he proved to be selfish, immature and negligent person and followed a pattern of
gross irresponsibility and gross disregard of the feelings of his partner/wife disregarding the marriage
contract and the commitment he agreed on during the wedding. In other words, the root cause of
respondent's flawed personality pattern can be in childhood milieu. Respondent's familial
constellation, unreliable parenting style from significant figures around him, and unfavorable
childhood experiences have greatly affected his perceptions of himself and his environment in
general. The respondent did not grow up mature enough to cope with his obligations and
responsibilities as married man and father.

It also speaks of gravity as he was not able to carry out the normative and ordinary duties of
marriage and family, shouldered by any married man, existing in ordinary circumstances. He just
cannot perform his duties and obligations as a husband, as he entered into marriage for his own
self-satisfaction and gratification, manipulate and denigrate the petitioner for his own pleasures and
satisfaction. In the process, respondent was unable to assume his marital duties and responsibilities
to his wife. He failed to render mutual help and support (Article 68, FC).

Additionally, it also speaks of incurability, as respondent has no psychological insight that he has a
character problem. He would not acknowledge the pain he caused to people around him. People
suffering from this personality disorder are unmotivated to treatment and impervious to recovery.
There are no medications and laboratory examinations to be taken for maladaptive behavior such as
the NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

Otherwise stated, his personality disorder is chronic and pervasive affecting many aspects of his life,
such as social functioning and close relationships. Apparently, he has failed to develop appropriate
1âwphi 1

adjustment methods. He lacks the intrapersonal and interpersonal integration that caused him the
failure to understand the very nature of that sharing of life that is directed toward the solidarity and
formation of family.

x x x x8

In a Decision9 dated January 20, 2012, the RTC in Civil Case No. 4853-11 declared the marriage
between Mirasol and Felipe null and void. The dispositive portion of the decision states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Court hereby declares the marriage contract by the petitioner
MIRASOL CASTILLO to the respondent FELIPE IMPAS on April 22, 1984 in Bani, Pangasinan to be
NULL AND VOID AB INITIO.

ACCORDINGLY, pursuant to the provisions of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, the Clerk of Court is directed
to enter this judgment upon its finality in the Book of Entry of Judgment and to issue the
corresponding Entry of Judgment. Thereupon, the Office of the Civil Registrars in Bani, Pangasinan
and Imus, Cavite, are also mandated to cause the registration of the said ENTRY OF JUDGMENT in
their respective Book of Marriages.

Likewise, furnish the petitioner and the counsel of the petitioner, the respondent, the Solicitor
General, 3rd Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Oscar R. Jarlos and the Civil Registrar General with
copies hereof.

Upon compliance, the Court shall forthwith issue the DECREE OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.

SO ORDERED.10

On February 22, 2012, the Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG), filed a motion for reconsideration, which the RTC denied in an Order11 dated April 3, 2012.

On appeal, the CA in CA-G.R. CV No. 99686 reversed and set aside the decision of the RTC, ruling
that Mirasol failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that Felipe was suffering from
psychological incapacity, thus, incapable of performing marital obligations due to some
psychological illness existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage.12 A pertinent portion of
the decision reads:

x x xx

Based on the records, it appears more likely that Felipe became unfaithful as a result of unknown
factors that happened during the marriage and not because of his family background. His tendency
to womanize was not shown to be due to causes of a psychological nature that are grave,
permanent and incurable. In fact, it was only after thirteen (13) years of marriage that he started to
engage in extra-marital affairs. In the complaint filed by Mirasol, she said that after they got married,
their relationship as husband and wife went smoothly and that she was of the belief that she had a
marriage made in heaven.

In short, Felipe's marital infidelity does not appear to be symptomatic of a grave psychological
disorder which rendered him incapable of performing his spousal obligations. Sexual infidelity, by
itself, is not sufficient proof that petitioner is suffering from psychological incapacity. It must be
shown that the acts of unfaithfulness are manifestations of a disordered personality which make him
completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of marriage. Since that situation does not
obtain in the case, Mirasol's claim of psychological incapacity must fail. Psychological incapacity
must be more than just a "difficulty," "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of some marital
obligations. Rather, it is essential that the concerned party was incapable of doing so, due to some
psychological illness existing at the time of the celebration of the marriage.

In fine, given the insufficiency of the evidence proving the psychological incapacity of Felipe, We
cannot but rule in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution
and nullity.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated January 20, 2012 is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE.

SO ORDERED.13

Upon the denial of her motion for reconsideration, Mirasol elevated the case before this Court raising
the issue, thus:

[Petitioner] was able to establish that respondent is suffering from grave psychological condition that
rendered him incognitive of his marital covenants under Article 36 of the Family Code.

Basically, the issue to be resolved by this Court is whether or not the totality of evidence presented
warrants, as the RTC determined, the declaration of nullity of the marriage of Mirasol and Felipe on
the ground of the latter's psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code.

This Court rules in the negative.

Mirasol alleges that she has sufficiently established that Felipe is psychologically incapacitated to
comply with the essential obligations of marriage. The conclusions of the trial court regarding the
credibility of the witnesses are entitled to great respect because of its opportunity to observe the
demeanor of the witnesses. Since the court a quo accepted the veracity of the petitioner's premises,
there is no cause to dispute the conclusion of Felipe's psychological incapacity drawn from the
expert witness. She claims that Montefalcon was correct in interviewing her for it was submitted that
it was only her who knew best whether her husband was complying with his marital obligations.
Moreover, the OSG admits that personal examination of the respondent by the clinical psychologist
is not an indispensable requisite for a finding of psychological incapacity.

On the other hand, the OSG argues that Mirasol failed to establish from the totality of evidence the
gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability of Felipe's alleged Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
The conclusions of the clinical psychologist that he was psychologically incapacitated and that such
incapacity was present at the inception of the marriage were not supported by evidence. At most, the
psychologist merely proved his refusal to perform his marital obligations.14 Moreover, she has no
personal knowledge of the facts from which she based her findings and was working on pure
assumptions and secondhand information related to her by one side.15

Time and again, it was held that "psychological incapacity" has been intended by law to be confined
to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or
inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.16 Psychological incapacity must be
characterized by (a) gravity, i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be
incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage, (b) juridical
antecedence, i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the
overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage, and (c) incurability, i.e., it must be
incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.17

In the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,18 this Court laid down the more definitive
guidelines in the disposition of psychological incapacity cases, viz.:

x x xx

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should
be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and
nullity. x x x

(2) 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. x
xx

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the marriage. x x x

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily
absolutely against everyone of the same sex. x x x

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the
essential obligations of marriage. x x x In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling
factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively
incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential
to marriage.

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family
Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in
regard to parents and their children. x x x

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. x x x
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as
counsel for the state. x x x

xxx19

The existence or absence of the psychological incapacity shall be based strictly on the facts of each
case and not on a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations.20

As held in Ting v. Velez-Ting:21

By the very nature of cases involving the application of Article 36, it is logical and understandable
to give weight to the expert opinions furnished by psychologists regarding the psychological
temperament of parties in order to determine the root cause, juridical antecedence, gravity
and incurability of the psychological incapacity. However, such opinions, while highly advisable,
are not conditions sine qua non in granting petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage. At best,
courts must treat such opinions as decisive but not indispensable evidence in determining
the merits of a given case. In fact, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a
finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical or psychological examination of the person
concerned need not be resorted to. The trial court, as in any other given case presented before
it, must always base its decision not solely on the expert opinions furnished by the parties
but also on the totality of evidence adduced in the course of the proceedings.22

The presentation of any form of medical or psychological evidence to show the psychological
incapacity, however, did not mean that the same would have automatically ensured the granting of
the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. It bears repeating that the trial courts, as in all the
other cases they try, must always base their judgments not solely on the expert opinions presented
by the parties but on the totality of evidence adduced in the course of their proceedings.23

Guided by the foregoing principles and after a careful perusal of the records, this Court rules that the
totality of the evidence presented failed to establish Felipe's psychological incapacity.

Clinical psychologist Montefalcon opined that respondent is encumbered with a personality disorder
classified as Narcissistic Personality Disorder deeply ingrained in his personality structure that
rendered him incapacitated to perform his marital duties and obligations. In her direct testimony, she
stated:

ATTY. BAYAUA:

Question: Were you able to interview and conduct examination on the respondent?

Answer: No, sir.

Question: [W]here did you base your conclusion that supported your findings that the husband of
Mirasol is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of marriage?

Answer: From the interviews I had with the petitioner and also from my interview of the couple's
common friend who validated all information given to me by the petitioner.

Question: You mean to say you were not able to interview the respondent?
Answer: No sir. But I sent him an invitation to undergo the same psychological evaluation I
administered with the petitioner but he did not respond to my invitation.

Question: [W]hat relevant information were you able to gather from your interview of the friend of the
couple?

Answer: She validated every piece of information relayed to me by the petitioner during the
interview.

x x xx

Question: Madam witness, were you able to determine at what point in time in the life of the
respondent did he acquire this disorder that you mentioned?

Answer: The disorder of the respondent already existed even at the time of celebration of their
marriage, although the incapacity became manifest only after their marriage. His disorder seemed
to have started during the early years of his life.

Question: In your expert opinion, what would be the likely source of the disorder of the respondent?

Answer: The disorder of the respondent seemed to have developed during the early years of
his life due to his poor parental and family [molding] particularly lack of parental
guidance. [His] parents separated when he was still young and when [his] mother had another affair
and lived with her common-law husband. Respondent's familial constellation and [unfavorable]
childhood experiences have greatly affected his perceptions of himself and his environment.
Respondent did not grow up mature enough to cope with his obligations and responsibilities as a
married man and father.

x x x24

The RTC noticeably relied heavily on the result of the psychological evaluation by Montefalcon. A
perusal of the RTC's decision would reveal that there was no assessment of the veracity of such
allegations, the credibility of the witnesses, and the weight of the pieces of evidence presented. Also,
there were no factual findings which can serve as bases for its conclusion of Felipe's psychological
incapacity.

The presentation of expert proof in cases for declaration of nullity of marriage based on
psychological incapacity presupposes a thorough and an in-depth assessment of the parties by the
psychologist or expert, for a conclusive diagnosis of a grave, severe and incurable presence of
psychological incapacity.25 The probative force of the testimony of an expert does not lie in a
mere statement of her theory or opinion, but rather in the assistance that she can render to the
courts in showing the facts that serve as a basis for her criterion and the reasons upon which
the logic of her conclusion is founded.26

Although the evaluation report of Montefalcon expounds on the juridical antecedence, gravity and
incurability of Felipe's personality disorder, it was, however, admitted that she evaluated
respondent's psychological condition indirectly from the information gathered from Mirasol and her
witness. Felipe's dysfunctional family portrait which brought about his personality disorder as painted
in the evaluation was based solely on the assumed truthful knowledge of petitioner. There was no
independent witness knowledgeable of respondent's upbringing interviewed by the psychologist or
presented before the trial court. Angelica Mabayad, the couple's common friend, agreed with
petitioner's claims in the interview with the psychologist, confirmed the information given by
petitioner, and alleged that she knew Felipe as "chick boy" or ''playboy."27 She did not testify before
the court a quo.

As such, there are no other convincing evidence asserted to establish Felipe's psychological
condition and its associations in his early life. Montefalcon's testimony and psychological evaluation
report do not provide evidentiary support to cure the doubtful veracity of Mirasol's one-sided
assertion. The said report falls short of the required proof for the Court to rely on the same as basis
to declare petitioner's marriage to respondent as void.

While the examination by a physician of a person in order to declare him psychologically


incapacitated is not required, the root cause thereof must still be "medically or clinically identified,"
and adequately established by evidence.28 We cannot take the conclusion that Felipe harbors a
personality disorder existing prior to his marriage which purportedly incapacitated him with the
essential marital obligations as credible proof of juridical antecedence. The manner by which such
conclusion was reached leaves much to be desired in terms of meeting the standard of evidence
required in determining psychological incapacity. The lack of corroborative witness and evidence
regarding Felipe's upbringing and family history renders Montefalcon's opinion on the root cause of
his psychological incapacity conjectural or speculative.

Even if the testimonies of Mirasol and Montefalcon at issue are considered since the judge had
found them to be credible enough, this Court cannot lower the evidentiary benchmark with regard to
information on Felipe's pre-marital history which is crucial to the issue of antecedence in this case
because we only have petitioner's words to rely on. To make conclusions and generalizations on a
spouse's psychological condition based on the information fed by only one side, as in the case at
bar, is, to the Court's mind, not different from admitting hearsay evidence as proof of the truthfulness
of the content of such evidence.29

Anent Felipe's sexual infidelity, Mirasol alleged in her judicial affidavit, to wit:

x x xx

Question: You said Madam Witness that after several months you and respondent became
sweethearts, what happened next Madam Witness?

Answer: Sir, while we were already sweethearts, I got dismayed when respondent was also
maintaining another woman who was his former girlfriend.

Question: What was the reaction of the respondent when you told him about his relation with his
former girlfriend?

Answer: Respondent was shocked and became moody Sir. This turned our relationship sour and it
led to being stormy.

Question: You said Madam Witness that you and respondent's relationship became sour and
stormy, what happened next, if any?

Answer: Sir, my relationship with respondent should have been ended had it not been with the timely
intervention of our parents. Respondent and I reconciled.

x x xx
Question: Madam Witness as you said you finally got married with the respondent as evidenced in
fact by a Marriage Certificate. What happened next after the marriage?

Answer: After our wedding, our relationship as husband and wife went on smoothly. I was of the
belief that my marriage was made in heaven and that respondent had already reformed his ways
and had completely deviated from his relationship with his ex-girlfriend;

x x x30

Question: After giving birth to your first child did respondent change or become responsible
considering that he is already a father?

Answer: No, Sir. I thought that having our first child would already change the ways of respondent.
The birth of our first child did not actually help improve respondent's ways because respondent is
really a man who is not contented with one woman even before we got married;

xxx31

Question: After you gave birth to you[r] second child what happened next Madam Witness?

Answer: Sir, after thirteen (13) years of marriage, respondent is back to his old habit where he has
been seen having relationship with a different woman. This was also seen by our relatives and
friends of respondent.

x xx32

Irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility


and the like, do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36, as
the same may only be due to a person's refusal or unwillingness to assume the essential obligations
of marriage.33 In order for sexual infidelity to constitute as psychological incapacity, the respondent's
unfaithfulness must be established as a manifestation of a disordered personality,
completely preventing the respondent from discharging the essential obligations of the
marital state; there must be proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor that effectively
incapacitated him from complying with the obligation to be faithful to his spouse.34 It is indispensable
that the evidence must show a link, medical or the like, between the acts that manifest psychological
incapacity and the psychological disorder itself.35

As discussed, the findings on Felipe's personality profile did not emanate from a personal interview
with the subject himself. Apart from the psychologist's opinion and petitioner's allegations, no other
reliable evidence was cited to prove that Felipe's sexual infidelity was a manifestation of his alleged
personality disorder, which is grave, deeply rooted, and incurable. We are not persuaded that the
natal or supervening disabling factor which effectively incapacitated him from complying with his
obligation to be faithful to his wife was medically or clinically established.

Basic is the rule that bare allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence, are not equivalent to
proof, i.e., mere allegations are not evidence.36 Based on the records, this Court finds that there
exists insufficient factual or legal basis to conclude that Felipe's sexual infidelity and irresponsibility
can be equated with psychological incapacity as contemplated by law. We reiterate that there was
no other evidence adduced. Aside from the psychologist, petitioner did not present other witnesses
to substantiate her allegations on Felipe's infidelity notwithstanding the fact that she claimed that
their relatives saw him with other women. Her testimony, therefore, is considered self-serving and
had no serious evidentiary value.

In sum, this Court finds no cogent reason to reverse the ruling of the CA against the dissolution and
nullity of the parties' marriage due to insufficiency of the evidence presented. The policy of the State
is to protect and strengthen the family as the basic social institution and marriage is the foundation of
the family. Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of validity of the marriage.37

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for review on certiorari filed by herein petitioner Mirasol
Castillo. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the assailed Decision and Resolution, dated March 10, 2014 and
August 28, 2014, respectively, of the Court of Appeals.

G.R. No. 222541

RACHEL A. DEL ROSARIO, Petitioner


vs.
JOSE O. DEL ROSARIO and COURT OF APPEALS, Respondents

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Before the Court is this petition for review on certiorari1 assailing the Decision2 dated May 29, 2015
and the Resolution3 dated December 1, 2015 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
102745, which reversed the Decision4 dated April 23, 2014 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
Branch 136 (RTC) in Civil Case No. 11-891 declaring the marriage of Jose O. Del Rosario (Jose)
and Rachel A. Del Rosario (Rachel) void on the ground of psychological incapacity pursuant to
Article 365 of the Family Code, as amended.6

The Facts

Rachel, then fifteen (15) years old, met Jose, then seventeen (17) years old, sometime in December
1983 at a party in Bintawan, Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya.7 Very soon, they became romantically
involved.8

Sometime in 1988, Rachel went to Hongkong to work as a domestic helper. During this period,
Rachel allegedly provided for Jose's tuition fees for his college education. Rachel and Jose
eventually decided to get married on December 28, 1989 in a civil rites ceremony held in San Jose
City, Nueva Ecija, and were blessed with a son, named Wesley, on December 1, 1993. On February
19, 1995, they renewed their vows in a church ceremony held in the Philippine Independent Church,
Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya.9

In 1998, Rachel went back to Hongkong to work as domestic helper/caregiver and has been working
there ever since, only returning to the Philippines every year for a vacation. Through her efforts, she
was able to acquire a house and lot in Rufino Homes Subdivision, San Jose, Nueva Ecija.10

In September 2011, Rachel filed a petition11 for declaration of nullity of marriage before the RTC,
docketed as Civil Case No. 11-891, alleging that Jose was psychologically incapacitated to fulfill his
essential marital obligations. In support of her petition, Rachel claimed that: during their marriage,
Jose conspicuously tried to avoid discharging his duties as husband and father. According to
Rachel, Jose was hot tempered and violent; he punched her in the shoulder a few days before their
church wedding, causing it to swell, when she refused to pay for the transportation expenses of his
parents; he hit his own father with a pipe, causing the latter to fall unconscious, which forced them to
leave Jose's parents' house where they were then staying; and he even locked her out of their house
in the middle of the night sometime in December 2007 when she fetched her relatives from the bus
terminal, which he refused to perform. Rachel added that Jose would represent himself as single,
would flirt openly, and had an extra-marital affair which she discovered when Jose mistakenly sent a
text message to her sister, Beverly A. Juan (Beverly), stating: "love, kung ayaw mo na akong
magpunta diyan, pumunta ka na lang dito."12 Another text message read: "Dumating lang ang asawa
mo, ayaw mo na akong magtext at tumawag sa 'yo." On one occasion, she, together with Wesley
and Beverly, caught Jose and the other woman with their child inside their conjugal dwelling. Finally,
she claimed that Jose would refuse any chance of sexual intimacy between them as they slowly
drifted apart.13

Rachel, however, admitted that their married life ran smoothly during its early years, and it was only
later in their marriage that Jose started frequenting bars and engaging in drinking sessions.14

Rachel also presented the testimonies of Wesley15 and her sisters, Beverly and Jocelyn
Cabusora,16 which corroborated her allegations, as well as the testimony17 of Dr. Nedy L. Tayag (Dr.
Tayag), who prepared the Psychological Report18 (Report) on Rachel. The remarks section of Dr.
Tayag's Report, which was primarily based on her interview with Rachel and Wesley, stated that
Jose suffered from Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) characterized by: (a) his lack of empathy
and concern for Rachel; (b) his irresponsibility and his pleasure-seeking attitude that catered only to
his own fancies and comfort; (c) his selfishness marked by his lack of depth when it comes to his
marital commitments; and (d) his lack of remorse for his shortcomings.19

For his part, Jose denied all the allegations in the petition. Jose maintained that: (a) he had dutifully
performed all of his marital and parental duties and obligations to his family; (b) he had provided for
his family's financial and emotional needs; and (c) he contributed to the building and maintenance of
their conjugal home. He claimed that although they occasionally had misunderstandings, they
nevertheless had a blissful relationship, pointing out that their first major argument was when Rachel
decided to go to Hongkong to work; that they continued to communicate through mail during her stay
overseas; and that he remained supportive of Rachel and would advise her to give her family the
financial aid that they need so long as she would not sacrifice her well-being. Finally, he denied the
alleged extra-marital affair and having laid hand on Rachel and their son.20 Jose presented as well
the testimony of Faustino Rigos to support his allegations.21

The RTC Ruling

In a Decision22 dated April 23, 2014, the RTC declared the marriage between Jose and Rachel void
on the ground of psychological incapacity. It relied on the findings and testimony of Dr. Tayag,
declaring that Jose's APD interferes with his capacity to perform his marital and paternal duties, as
he in fact even refused to take responsibility for his actions, notwithstanding the overwhelming
evidence against him.23

Jose appealed24 to the CA, arguing that his alleged refusal to seek employment, squandering of their
money on vices, violent nature, and infidelity are not the serious, grave, and permanent
psychological condition that incapacitates him to perform his marital obligations required by Article
36 of the Family Code, as amended. At most, they are personality defects, i.e., immaturity,
irresponsibility, and unfaithfulness, which may be considered as grounds for legal separation under
Article 5525 of the same code.26
The CA Ruling

In a Decision27 dated May 29, 2015, the CA reversed the ruling of the RTC,28 holding that the totality
of the evidence Rachel presented was not enough to sustain a finding that Jose is psychologically
incapacitated to comply with the essential obligations of marriage.29 Particularly, the CA declared that
Jose's alleged infidelity, his refusal to seek employment, his act of squandering their money on his
vices, and his temper and alleged propensity for violence were not so grave and permanent as to
deprive him of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond sufficient to
nullify the marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code; at best, they showed that Jose was
irresponsible, insensitive, or emotionally immature which nonetheless do not amount to the
downright incapacity that the law requires. Additionally, the CA pointed out that the root cause of the
alleged psychological incapacity, its incapacitating nature, and the incapacity itself were not
sufficiently explained as Dr. Tayag's Report failed to show the relation between Jose's "deprived
childhood" and "poor home condition," on one hand, and grave and permanent psychological
malady, on the other. Finally, it observed that while Dr. Tayag's testimony was detailed, it only
offered a general evaluation on the supposed root cause of Jose's personality disorder.30

Rachel moved for reconsideration,31 which was, however, denied by the CA in a Resolution32 dated
December 1, 2015; hence, this petition.

The Issue Before the Court

The essential issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not the CA erred in reversing the RTC's
finding of psychological incapacity.

The Court's Ruling

The petition lacks merit.

The policy of the Constitution is to protect and strengthen the family as the basic social
institution,33 and marriage as the foundation of the family.34 Because of this, the Constitution decrees
marriage as legally inviolable and protects it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. In this
regard, psychological incapacity as a ground to nullify the marriage under Article 3635 of the Family
Code, as amended, should refer to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the
marriage.36 It should refer to no less than a mental - not merely 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 provided under Article 6837 of the Family Code,
among others,38 include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity,
and render help and support.39 In other words, it must be a malady that is so grave and permanent as
to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about
to assume.40

In Santos v. CA,41 the Court declared that psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family
Code must be characterized by: (a) gravity, i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party
would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage; (b) juridical
antecedence, i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the
overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage; and (c) incurability, i.e., it must be
incurable, or otherwise the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.42 The Court laid
down more definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36
in Republic v. Molina43 (Molina) whose salient points are footnoted below,44 that incorporated the
basic requirements the Court established in Santos.
Notwithstanding the Molina guidelines, note, however, that an expert opinion is not absolutely
necessary and may be dispensed with in a petition under Article 36 of the Family Code if the totality
of the evidence shows that psychological incapacity exists and its gravity, juridical antecedence, and
incurability can be duly established.45 The evidence need not necessarily come from the allegedly
incapacitated spouse, but can come from persons intimately related to the spouses, i.e., relatives
and close friends, who could clearly testify on the allegedly incapacitated spouse's condition at or
about the time of the marriage.46 In other words, the Molina guidelines continue to apply but its
application calls for a more flexible approach in considering petitions for declaration of nullity of
marriages based on psychological incapacity.47 To be clear, however, the totality of the evidence
must still establish the characteristics that Santos laid down: gravity, incurability, and juridical
antecedence.

Thus, in Dedel v. CA,48 the Court declared that therein respondent's emotional immaturity and
irresponsibility could not be equated with psychological incapacity as it was not shown that these
acts are manifestations of a disordered personality which make her completely unable to discharge
the essential obligations of the marital state, not merely due to her youth, immaturity, or sexual
promiscuity.49 In Taring v. Taring,50 the Court emphasized that "irreconcilable differences, sexual
infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, and the like, do not by themselves
warrant a finding of psychological incapacity, as [these] may only be due to a person's difficulty,
refusal, or neglect to undertake the obligations of marriage that is not rooted in some psychological
illness that Article 36 of the Family Code addresses."51 The Court equally did not consider as
tantamount to psychological incapacity the emotional immaturity, irresponsibility, sexual promiscuity,
and other behavioral disorders invoked by the petitioning spouses in Pesca v. Pesca,52 Republic v.
Encelan,53 Republic v. De Gracia,54 and Republic v. Romero,55 to name a few, and thus dismissed
their petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage.

The Court maintains a similar view in this case and, thus, denies the petition. Based on the totality of
the evidence presented, there exists insufficient factual or legal basis to conclude that Jose's
immaturity, irresponsibility, or infidelity amount to psychological incapacity.

Particularly, the Court notes that Rachel's evidence merely showed that Jose: (1) would often
indulge in drinking sprees; (2) tends to become violent when he gets drunk; (2) avoids discharging
his duties as a father to Wesley and as a husband to Rachel, which includes sexual intimacy; (3)
flirts openly and represented himself as single; and (4) engaged in an extra-marital affair with a bar
girl who he brought to the conjugal dwelling on several occasions. Significantly, Rachel admitted that
their married life ran smoothly in its early years. Dr. Tayag's findings, on the other hand, simply
summarized Rachel and Wesley's narrations as she diagnosed Jose with APD and proceeded to
conclude that Jose's "personality flaw is deemed to be severe, grave, and have become deeply
embedded within his adaptive systems since early childhood years, thereby rendering such to be a
permanent component of his life [and] [t]herefore x x x incurable and beyond repair despite any form
of intervention."56

It should be pointed out that Dr. Tayag's Report does not explain in detail how Jose's APD could be
characterized as grave, deeply rooted in his childhood, and incurable within the jurisprudential
parameters for establishing psychological incapacity. Particularly, the Report did not discuss the
concept of APD which Jose allegedly suffers from, i.e., its classification, cause, symptoms, and cure,
or show how and to what extent Jose exhibited this disorder or how and to what extent his alleged
actions and behavior correlate with his APD, sufficiently clear to conclude that Jose's condition has
no definite treatment, making it incurable within the law's conception. Neither did the Report specify
the reasons why and to what extent Jose's APD is serious and grave, and how it incapacitated him
to understand and comply with his marital obligations. Lastly, the Report hastily concluded that Jose
1aw p++i1

had a "deprived childhood" and "poor home condition" that automatically resulted in his APD
equivalent to psychological incapacity without, however, specifically identifying the history of Jose's
condition antedating the marriage, i.e., specific behavior or habits during his adolescent years that
could explain his behavior during the marriage.

Moreover, Dr. Tayag did not personally assess or interview Jose to determine, at the very least, his
background that could have given her a more accurate basis for concluding that his APD is rooted in
his childhood or was already existing at the inception of the marriage. To be sure, established
parameters do not require that the expert witness personally examine the party alleged to be
suffering from psychological incapacity provided corroborating evidence are presented sufficiently
establishing the required legal parameters.57 Considering that her Report was based solely on
Rachel's side whose bias cannot be doubted, the Report and her testimony deserved the application
of a more rigid and stringent standards which the RTC failed to apply.

In sum, Dr. Tayag's assessment, even when taken together with the various testimonies, failed to
show that Jose's immaturity, irresponsibility, and infidelity rise to the level of psychological incapacity
that would justify the nullification of the parties' marriage. To reiterate and emphasize, psychological
incapacity must be more than just a "difficulty," "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of the
marital obligations; it is not enough that a party prove that the other failed to meet the responsibility
and duty of a married person.58 There must be proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor in the
person - an adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the
person from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage -
which must be linked with the manifestations of the psychological incapacity.59

A final note. It is well to reiterate that Article 36 of the Family Code, as amended, is not a divorce law
that cuts the marital bond at the time the grounds for divorce manifest themselves;60 a marriage, no
matter how unsatisfactory, is not a null and void marriage. Thus, absent sufficient evidence
establishing psychological incapacity within the context of Article 36, the Court is compelled to
uphold the indissolubility of the marital tie.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated May 29, 2015 and the Resolution dated
December 1, 2015 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 102745 are hereby AFFIRMED.
Accordingly, the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage filed under Article 36 of the Family
Code, as amended, is DISMISSED.

G.R. No. 188400

MARIA TERESA B. TANI-DE LA FUENTE, Petitioner


vs
RODOLFO DE LA FUENTE, JR., Respondent

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

Psychological incapacity is a mental illness that leads to an inability to comply with or comprehend
essential marital obligations.

This resolves the Petition for Review1 filed by Maria Teresa B. Tani- De La Fuente (Maria Teresa)
assailing the Court of Appeals Decision2 and Resolution3 dated August 29, 2008 and May 25, 2009,
respectively, in CA- G.R. CV. No. 76243, which reversed the Decision4 dated August 14, 2002 of
Branch 107 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in Civil Case No. Q- 99-37829.

Petitioner Maria Teresa and respondent Rodolfo De La Fuente, Jr. (Rodolfo) first met when they
were students at the University of Sto. Tomas. Soon thereafter, they became sweethearts.5

After graduating from college, Maria Teresa found work at the University of Sto. Tomas Treasurer's
Office.6Meanwhile, Rodolfo, who was unable to finish his college degree, found continued
employment at his family's printing press business.7

While they were still sweethearts, Maria Teresa already noticed that Rodolfo was an introvert and
was prone to jealousy.8 She also observed that Rodolfo appeared to have no ambition in life and felt
insecure of his siblings, who excelled in their studies and careers.9

On June 21, 1984, Maria Teresa and Rodolfo got married in Mandaluyong City. They had two
children: Maria Katharyn, who was born on May 23, 1985, and Maria Kimberly, who was born on
April 6, 1986.10

Rodolfo's attitude worsened as they went on with their marital life. He was jealous of everyone who
talked to Maria Teresa, and would even skip work at his family's printing press to stalk
her.11 Rodolfo's jealousy was so severe that he once poked a gun at his own 15-year old cousin who
was staying at their house because he suspected his cousin of being Maria Teresa's lover.12

In addition, Rodolfo treated Maria Teresa like a sex slave. They would have sex four (4) or five (5)
times a day.13 At times, Rodolfo would fetch Maria Teresa from her office during her lunch break, just
so they could have sex.14During sexual intercourse, Rodolfo would either tie her to the bed or poke
her with things.15 Rodolfo also suggested that they invite a third person with them while having sex,
or for Maria Teresa to have sex with another man in Rodolfo's presence.16 Rodolfo's suggestions
made Maria Teresa feel molested and maltreated.17 Whenever Maria Teresa refused Rodolfo's
advances or suggestions, he would get angry and they would quarrel.18

Maria Teresa sought the advice of a doctor, a lawyer, and a priest, as well as any person she
thought could help her and Rodolfo.19 Maria Teresa also suggested that she and Rodolfo undergo
marriage counselling, but Rodolfo refused and deemed it as mere "kalokohan".20

Sometime in 1986, the couple quarrelled because Rodolfo suspected that Maria Teresa was having
an affair.21 In the heat of their quarrel, Rodolfo poked a gun at Maria Teresa's head. Maria Teresa,
with their two (2) daughters in tow, left Rodolfo and their conjugal home after the gunpoking incident.
Maria Teresa never saw Rodolfo again after that, and she supported their children by herself.22

On June 3, 1999, Maria Teresa filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage23 before the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. The case was initially archived because Rodolfo failed to file a
responsive pleading.24 Maria Teresa moved for the revival of the Petition.25 The trial court granted the
motion and referred the case to the Office of the City Prosecutor for collusion
investigation.26 Assistant City Prosecutor Jocelyn S. Reyes found no collusion and recommended the
trial of the case on the merits.27

Despite notice, Rodolfo failed to attend the scheduled pre-trial conference.28 The pre-trial conference
was declared closed and terminated, and Maria Teresa was allowed to present her evidence.29
Aside from Maria Teresa, Dr. Arnulfo V. Lopez (Dr. Lopez), a clinical psychologist, was presented as
an expert witness.30 Dr. Lopez testified that he conducted an in-depth interview with Maria Teresa to
gather information on her family background and her marital life with Rodolfo, and subjected her to a
battery of psychological tests.31 Dr. Lopez also interviewed Rodolfo's best friend.32

After subjecting Maria Teresa to interviews and tests, Dr. Lopez concluded that Maria Teresa was
not suffering from any severe mental disorder and had no indication of any organic or functional
impairment.33 Although Dr. Lopez found that Maria Teresa had an emotionally disturbed personality,
he opined that this was not severe enough to constitute psychological incapacity.34

Dr. Lopez affirmed that he sent Rodolfo a letter of invitation through registered mail.35 After two (2)
months, Rodolfo contacted Dr. Lopez and said, "Doctor, ano ba ang pakialam niyo sa amin, hindi
niyo naman ako kilala." Dr. Lopez explained that he only wanted to hear Rodolfo's side of the story,
but Rodolfo replied with, "[I]nuulit ko doktor, wala kayong pakialam sa akin."36

Dr. Lopez diagnosed Rodolfo with "paranoid personality disorder manifested by [Rodolfo's]
damaging behavior like reckless driving and extreme jealousy; his being distrustful and suspicious;
his severe doubts and distrust of friends and relatives of [Maria Teresa]; his being irresponsible and
lack of remorse; his resistance to treatment; and his emotional coldness and severe immaturity."37

Dr. Lopez stated that Rodolfo's disorder was one of the severe forms of personality disorder, even
more severe than the other personality disorders like borderline and narcissistic personality
disorders.38 Dr. Lopez explained that Rodolfo's personality disorder was most probably caused by a
pathogenic parental model.39 Rodolfo's family background showed that his father was a psychiatric
patient, and Rodolfo might have developed psychic contamination called double insanity, a symptom
similar to his father's.40 Dr. Lopez further claimed that Rodolfo's disorder was serious and incurable
because of his severe paranoia.41

Dr. Lopez recommended that Maria Teresa and Rodolfo's marriage be annulled due to Rodolfo's
incapacity to perform his marital obligations.42

Summons was served upon Rodolfo but he did not file any responsive leading.43 He likewise did not
appear during the pre-trial conference.44 He was given a specific date to present evidence but he still
failed to appear.45 he trial court eventually deemed his non-appearance as a waiver of his right to
present evidence.46

On June 26, 2002, the trial court directed the Office of the Solicitor General to submit its comment on
Maria Teresa's formal offer of evidence.47 The Office of the Solicitor General was also directed to
submit its certification.48 The Office of the Solicitor General, however, failed to comply with the trial
court's orders; thus, the case was submitted for decision without the certification and comment from
the Office of the Solicitor General.49

On August 14, 2002, the trial court promulgated its Decision50 granting the petition for declaration of
nullity of marriage.

While Dr. Lopez was not able to personally examine Rodolfo, the trial court gave credence to his
findings as they were based on information gathered from credible informants. The trial court held
that the marriage between Maria Teresa and Rodolfo should be declared null and void because
"[Rodolfo's] psychological incapacity [was] grave, serious and incurable."51 The dispositive portion of
the trial court's decision reads:

WHEREFORE IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered, to wit:


(1) Declaring the marriage of petitioner, MARIA TERESA B. TANI DE LA FUENTE to respondent,
RODOLFO DE LA FUENTE, JR. null and void on the ground of respondent's psychological
incapacity pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code. Their conjugal partnership (sic) property
relations is hereby dissolved. There being no mention of properties acquired by the parties, no
pronouncement as to its liquidation and partition is hereby made;

(2) Their children, Maria Katharyn and Maria Kimberly, both surnamed De la Fuente shall remain
legitimate. They shall remain in the custody of the petitioner.

(3) Both parties must support their children. There being no evidence presented as to the capability
of the respondent to give support, no pronouncement is hereby made in the meantime;

(4) Henceforth, the petitioner shall be known by her maiden name, TANI.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrars of Quezon City and Mandaluyong
City where the marriage was celebrated upon the finality of this Decision.

SO ORDERED.52 (Emphasis in the original)

On August 20, 2002, the Office of the Solicitor General filed a motion for reconsideration.53 The
Office of the Solicitor General explained that it was unable to submit the required certification
because it had no copies of the transcripts of stenographic notes.54 It was also unable to inform the
trial court of its lack of transcripts due to the volume of cases it was handling.55

On September 13, 2002, the trial court denied the motion for reconsideration, with the dispositive
portion reading:

WHEREFORE, considering the foregoing, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the Office of the
Solicitor General is hereby deemed moot and academic.

This Court would like to call the attention of the Office of the Solicitor General that this case was filed
on June 3, 1999 and there should be no more delay in the disposition of the case.56

The Office of the Solicitor General filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals.57 It argued that the
trial court erred a) in deciding the case without the required certification from the Office of the
Solicitor General,58 and b) in giving credence to Dr. Lopez's conclusion of Rodolfo's severe
personality disorder. It held that Dr. Lopez's finding was based on insufficient data and did not follow
the standards set forth in the Molina case.59

The Court of Appeals granted60 the Office of the Solicitor General's appeal.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the testimony of Dr. Lopez was unreliable for being hearsay, thus,
the trial court should not have given it weight.61 The Court of Appeals also disagreed with Dr. Lopez's
finding that Rodolfo's behavior descended from psychological illness contemplated under Article 36
of the Family Code.62

In addition, the Court of Appeals emphasized that Maria Teresa's admission that she married
Rodolfo with the belief that he would change, and that they were in a relationship for five (5) years
before getting married, showed that they were in good terms during the early part of their marriage. It
also negated her claim that Rodolfo's psychological defect existed at the time of the celebration of
their marriage, and that it deprived him of the ability to assume the essential duties of marriage.63 The
dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the DECISION DATED AUGUST 14, 2002 is REVERSED and the petition for
declaration of nullity of the marriage of the parties is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.64 (Emphasis in the original)

Maria Teresa moved for reconsideration65 but this was denied by the Court of Appeals in its
Resolution66 dated May 25, 2009.

On July 24, 2009, Maria Teresa filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari.67

Petitioner argued that based on current jurisprudence, trial courts had a wider discretion on whether
expert opinion was needed to prove psychological incapacity.68 Petitioner further argued that for as
long as the trial court had basis in concluding that psychological incapacity existed, such conclusion
should be upheld.69

Rodolfo filed a Comment70 stating that he was not opposing Maria Teresa's Petition since "[h]e firmly
believes that there is in fact no more sense in adjudging him and petitioner as married."71

The Office of the Solicitor General, in its Comment,72 agreed that a physician was not required to
declare a person psychologically incapacitated but emphasized that the evidence presented must be
able to adequately prove the presence of a psychological condition. The Office of the Solicitor
General maintained that Maria Teresa was unable to sufficiently prove Rodolfo's alleged
psychological incapacity.73

The Office of the Solicitor General pointed out that Dr. Lopez's psychological report stated that his
assessment was based on interviews he made with petitioner and two (2) of the parties' common
friends. However, Dr. Lopez did not name the two (2) common friends in the report.74 Furthermore,
during trial Dr. Lopez testified that he only interviewed petitioner and Rodolfo's best friend, not two
(2) friends as indicated in his report.75 The Office of the Solicitor General insisted that the finding of
Rodolfo's psychological incapacity should be dismissed as hearsay as it was based solely on
information given by petitioner to Dr. Lopez.76

The only issue raised for the resolution of this Court is whether the Court of Appeals erred in denying
the Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage because petitioner's evidence was insufficient to
prove that Rodolfo was psychologically incapacitated to fulfill his marital obligations.

The Petition is granted.

The 1995 case of Santos v. Court of Appeals77 was the first case that attempted to lay down the
standards for determining psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family
Code. Santos declared that "psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b)
juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability."78 Furthermore, the 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[.]"79

Two (2) years later, Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,80 provided the guidelines to be followed
when interpreting and applying Article 36 of the Family Code:
(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should
be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and
nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of
marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article on the Family,
recognizing it "as the foundation of the nation." It decrees marriage as legally "inviolable," thereby
protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be
"protected" by the state.

The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes
their permanence, inviolability and solidarity.

(2) 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 psychically ill to such an extent that the person
could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid
assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit
the application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, 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.

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the marriage. The
evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged their "I do's." The
manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have
attached at such moment, or prior thereto.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. Such
incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily
absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the
assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the
exercise of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in
diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be
psychologically capacitated to procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential
obligation of marriage.

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the
essential obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild characterological peculiarities, mood changes,
occasional emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as
downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words,
there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral element in the
personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby
complying with the obligations essential to marriage.

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family
Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in
regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in
the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. It is clear
that Article 36 was taken by the Family Code Revision Committee from Canon 1095 of the New
Code of Canon Law, which became effective in 1983 and which provides:

"The following are incapable of contracting marriage: Those who are unable to assume the essential
obligations of marriage due to causes of psychological nature."

Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code is to harmonize our civil laws with
the religious faith of our people, it stands to reason that to achieve such harmonization, great
persuasive weight should be given to decisions of such appellate tribunal. Ideally - subject to our law
on evidence - what is decreed as canonically invalid should also be decreed civilly void.

This is one instance where, in view of the evident source and purpose of the Family Code provision,
contemporaneous religious interpretation is to be given persuasive effect. Here, the State and the
Church - while remaining independent, separate and apart from each other - shall walk together in
synodal cadence towards the same goal of protecting and cherishing marriage and the family as the
inviolable base of the nation.

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as
counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a
certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his agreement
or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the prosecuting
attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is
deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent
function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.81 (Emphasis in the original)

Contrary to the ruling of the Court of Appeals, we find that there was sufficient compliance
with Molina to warrant the nullity of petitioner's marriage with respondent. Petitioner was able to
discharge the burden of proof that respondent suffered from psychological incapacity.

The Court of Appeals chided the lower court for giving undue weight to the testimony of Dr. Lopez
since he had no chance to personally conduct a thorough study and analysis of respondent's mental
and psychological condition. The Court of Appeals cited Republic v. Dagdag,82 where this Court held
that "the root cause of psychological incapacity must be medically or clinically identified and
sufficiently proven by experts."83 The Court of Appeals then ruled that "[o]bviously, this requirement is
not deemed complied with where no psychiatrist or medical doctor testifies on the alleged
psychological incapacity of one party."84

The Court of Appeals is mistaken.

Camacho-Reyes v. Reyes85 states that the non-examination of one of the parties will not
automatically render as hearsay or invalidate the findings of the examining psychiatrist or
psychologist, since "marriage, by its very definition, necessarily involves only two persons. The
totality of the behavior of one spouse during the cohabitation and marriage is generally and
genuinely witnessed mainly by the other."86

Marcos v. Marcos87 emphasizes that Molina does not require a physician to examine a person and
declare him/her to be psychologically incapacitated. What matters is that the totality of evidence
presented establishes the party's psychological condition.88

Dr. Lopez's testimony, as corroborated by petitioner, sufficiently proved that respondent suffered
from psychological incapacity. Respondent's paranoid personality disorder made him distrustful and
prone to extreme jealousy and acts of depravity, incapacitating him to fully comprehend and assume
the essential obligations of marriage. As the trial court found:

Dr. Lopez testified that he arrived at his conclusion of respondent' [s] personality by taking into
consideration the psychological impression and conclusion he gathered from the analysis of the
different behaviors he manifested during the time that he and petitioner were living together.
According to him, under the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, he found the respondent to be suffering
from a paranoid personality disorder manifested by the respondent's damaging behavior like
reckless driving and extreme jealousy; his being distrustful and suspicious; his severe doubts and
distrust of friends and relatives of the petitioner; his being irresponsible and lack of remorse; his
resistance to treatment; and his emotional coldness and severe immaturity. He also testified that this
kind of disorder is actually one of the severe forms of personality disorder even more severe than
the other personality disorders like the borderline and narcissistic personality disorders.

As to the root cause, [h]e explained that this must have been caused by a pathogenic parental
model. As he investigated the family background of the respondent, Dr. Lopez discovered that his
father was a psychiatric patient such that the respondent developed a similar symptom or psychic
contamination which is called double insanity. This, according to Dr. Lopez is usually developed
among close family members, bestfriends (sic), sweethearts and even couples who are close to one
another; that people close to one another get psychically contaminated; that surprisingly, the
symptom that the father manifested is the same as those of the respondent. The said disorder
started during respondent's late childhood years and developed in his early adolescent years.

He further testified that this disorder is very severe, serious and incurable because of the severe
paranoia of the patient; that patients with this kind of personality disorder could never accept that
there is something wrong with them and if ever forced to seek treatment, they would rather engage
in an intellectual battle with the therapist rather than cooperate with them.

Dr. Lopez concluded that because of respondent's personality disorder, he is incapacitated to


perform his marital obligations of giving love, respect, and support to the petitioner. He recommends
1âwphi1

that the marriage be annulled.89 (Emphasis supplied)

By the very nature of Article 36, courts, despite having the ultimate task of decision-making, must
give due regard to expert opinion on the psychological and mental disposition of the parties.90

The root cause of respondent's paranoid personality disorder was hereditary in nature as his own
father suffered from a similar disorder. Dr. Lopez stated that respondent's own psychological
disorder probably started during his late childhood years and developed in his early adolescent
years. Dr. Lopez explained that respondent's psychological incapacity to perform his marital
obligations was likely caused by growing up with a pathogenic parental model.

The juridical antecedence of respondent's psychological incapacity was also sufficiently proven
during trial. Petitioner attested that she noticed respondent's jealousy even before their marriage,
and that he would often follow her to make sure that she did not talk to anyone or cheat on
him.91 She believed that he would change after they got married;92 however, this did not happen.
Respondent's jealousy and paranoia were so extreme and severe that these caused him to poke a
gun at petitioner's head.93

The incurability and severity of respondent's psychological incapacity were likewise discussed by Dr.
Lopez. He vouched that a person with paranoid personality disorder would refuse to admit that there
was something wrong and that there was a need for treatment. This was corroborated by petitioner
when she stated that respondent repeatedly refused treatment. Petitioner consulted a lawyer, a
priest, and a doctor, and suggested couples counselling to respondent; however, respondent
refused all of her attempts at seeking professional help. Respondent also refused to be examined by
Dr. Lopez.

Article 68 of the Family Code obligates the husband and wife "to live together, observe mutual love,
respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support." In this case, petitioner and respondent
may have lived together, but the facts narrated by petitioner show that respondent failed to, or could
not, comply with the obligations expected of him as a husband. He was even apathetic that petitioner
filed a petition for declaration of nullity of their marriage.

This Court also noticed respondent's repeated acts of harassment towards petitioner, which show
his need to intimidate and dominate her, a classic case of coercive control. At first, respondent only
inflicted nonphysical forms of mistreatment on petitioner by alienating her from her family and friends
due to his jealousy, and stalking her due to his paranoia. However, his jealousy soon escalated into
physical violence when, on separate instances, he poked a gun at his teenage cousin, and at
petitioner.

Coercive control is a form of psychological abuse, which refers to a pattern of behavior meant to
dominate a partner through different tactics such as physical and sexual violence, threats, emotional
insults, and economic deprivation.94 Although not specifically named, coercive control as a form of
psychological abuse or harm has been recognized in Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence
Against Women and Children Act of 2004:

SECTION 3. Definition of Terms. -As used in this Act,

(a) "Violence against women and their children" refers to any act or a series of acts committed by
any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person
has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child
whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to
result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of
such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. It includes, but is
not limited to, the following acts:

C. "Psychological violence" refers to acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional
suffering of the victim such as but not limited to intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to
property, public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse and mental infidelity. It includes
causing or allowing the victim to witness the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of a member of
the family to which the victim belongs, or to witness pornography in any form or to witness abusive
injury to pets or to unlawful or unwanted deprivation of the right to custody and/or visitation of
common children.

Respondent's repeated behavior of psychological abuse by intimidating, stalking, and isolating his
wife from her family and friends, as well as his increasing acts of physical violence, are proof of his
depravity, and utter lack of comprehension of what marriage and partnership entail. It would be of
utmost cruelty for this Court to decree that petitioner should remain married to respondent. After she
had exerted efforts to save their marriage and their family, respondent simply refused to believe that
there was anything wrong in their marriage. This shows that respondent truly could not comprehend
and perform his marital obligations. This fact is persuasive enough for this Court to believe that
respondent's mental illness is incurable.

In granting the petition and declaring void the marriage of Maria Teresa and Rodolfo, this Court
reiterates the pronouncement we made in an opinion in Mallilin v. Jamesolamin:95
Our choices of intimate partners define us - inherent ironically in our individuality. Consequently,
when the law speaks of the nature, consequences, and incidents of marriage governed by law, this
refers to responsibility to children, property relations, disqualifications, privileges, and other matters
limited to ensuring the stability of society. The state's interest should not amount to unwarranted
1âwphi1

intrusions into individual liberties.

Since the State's interest must be toward the stability of society, the notion of psychological
incapacity should not only be based on a medical or psychological disorder, but should consist of the
inability to comply with essential marital obligations such that public interest is imperiled.96

Lastly, this Court takes note of Ngo Te v. Gutierrez Yu Te's observation that a straitjacket application
of the Molina guidelines "has taken its toll on people who have to live with deviant behavior, moral
insanity and sociopathic personality anomaly, which, like termites, consume little by little the very
foundation of their families, our basic social institutions."97 Ironically, the ultimate effect of such
stringent application of the Molina guidelines is the perversion of the family unit, the very institution
that our laws are meant to protect.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is GRANTED. The marriage of Maria Teresa Tani-
De La Fuente and Rodolfo De La Fuente is declared NULL and VOID. The Decision and Resolution
of the Court of Appeals dated August 29, 2008 and May 25, 2009, respectively, in CA-G.R. CV. No.
76243 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated August 14, 2002 of Branch 107,
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in Civil Case No. Q-99-37829 is REINSTATED.

G.R. No. 217993

MANUEL R. BAKUNAWA III,, Petitioner,


vs.
NORA REYES BAKUNAWA,, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

REYES, JR, J.:

For resolution of the Court is a petition for review on certiorari1 filed by Manuel R. Bakunawa III
(Manuel) challenging the Decision2 dated March 27, 2014 and Resolution3 dated April 22, 2015 of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 98579, which upheld the validity of his marriage to Nora
Reyes Bakunawa (Nora).

The Facts

Manuel and Nora met in 1974 at the University of the Philippines where they were students and
became sweethearts. When Nora became pregnant, she and Manuel got married on July 26, 1975
at St. Ignatius Church, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.4

Because Manuel and Nora were both college undergraduates at that time, they lived with Manuel's
parents. While Nora was able to graduate, Manuel had to stop his studies to help his father in the
family's construction business. Manuel was assigned to provincial projects and came home only
during weekends. This setup continued even as Nora gave birth to their eldest child, Moncho Manuel
(Moncho). However, whenever Manuel came back from his provincial assignments, he chose to
spend his limited time with friends and girlfriends instead of his family. Nora resented this and they
started quarreling about Manuel's behavior. Worse, Manuel depended on his father and on Nora for
their family's needs.5

In 1976, Manuel and Nora lived separately from Manuel's parents. It was during this period th.at
Manuel first observed Nora's passiveness and laziness; she was moody and mercurial. Their house
was often dirty and disorderly. Thus, Manuel became more irritated with Nora and their verbal
quarrels escalated to physical violence.6

On May 9, 1977, Nora gave birth to their second child. However, nothing changed in their
relationship. Manuel spent most of his time with friends and engaged in drinking sprees. In 1979, he
had an extramarital affair and seldom came home. He eventually left Nora and their children in 1980
to cohabit with his girlfriend. They considered themselves separated.7

In 1985, Manuel, upon Nora's request, bought a house for her and their children. After Manuel spent
a few nights with them in the new house, Nora became pregnant again and thereafter gave birth to
their third child.8

On June 19, 2008, Manuel filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage with the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Quezon City,9 on the ground that he and Nora are psychologica11y incapacitated to
comply with the essential obligations of marriage.

Manuel presented a psychiatrist, Dr. Cecilia Villegas (Dr. Villegas), who testified that Manuel has
Intermittent Explosive Disorder, characterized by irritability and aggressive behavior that is not
proportionate to the cause. Dr. Villegas diagnosed Nora with Passive Aggressive Personality
Disorder, marked by a display of negative attitude and passive resistance in her relationship with
Manuel. Her findings were based on her interview with Manuel and the parties' eldest son, Moncho,
because Nora did not participate in the psychological assessment.10

Manuel alleges in his petition that he continues to live with his common-law wife and has a son with
her, whereas, Nora lives alone in her unit in Cubao, Quezon City. Their house and lot was already
foreclosed following Nora's failure to pay a loan secured by a mortgage on the said property.11

Ruling of the RTC

The R TC granted the petition in its Decision12 dated March 28, 2011. The dispositive portion thereof
reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the marriage


between MANUEL R. BAKUNAWAIII and NORAREYESBAKUNAWA null and void ab initio under
Article 36 of the Family Code.

The Office of the City Civil Registrar of Quezon City is hereby ordered to make entries into the
records of the respective parties pursuant to the judgment of the Court.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished upon the Office of Solicitor General, the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Quezon City, the Office of the Civil Registrars of Quezon City, and the National
Statistics Office, as well as the parties and counsel.

SO ORDERED.13
Nora appealed the RTC decision to the CA, arguing inter alia that the RTC erred in finding that the
testimony of the psychiatrist is sufficient to prove the parties' psychological incapacity.

Ruling of the CA

The CA, in its Decision14 dated March 27, 2014, granted Nora's appeal and reversed the RTC
decision. The decretal portion of the decision states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal filed by [Nora] is GRANTED. The Decision
dated March 28, 2011 of the RTC, National Capital Judicial Region in Civil Case No. Q-08-62822
is REVERSED and SETASIDE.

SO ORDERED.15

The CA denied Manuel's motion for reconsideration16 through a Resolution17 dated April 22, 2015.

Manuel filed the present petition raising the following grounds:

I. THE HONORABLE CA ERRED WHEN IT UPHELD THE VALIDITY OF °THE MARRIAGE OF


THE PARTIES DESPITE MORE THAN CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE TO DECLARE ITS
NULLITY DUE TO THE PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF EITHER OR BOTH PARTIES TO
PERFORM THEIR MARITAL OBLIGATIONS; and

II. THE HONORABLE CA ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO RECONSIDER ITS DECISION DATED
MARCH 27, 2014 DESPITE MORE THAN COMPELLING REASONS FOR THE REVERSAL
THEREOF.18

Ruling of the Court

As the CA correctly ruled, the totality of evidence presented by Manuel comprising of his testimony
and that of Dr. Villegas, as well as the latter's psychological evaluation report, is insufficient to prove
that he and Nora are psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential obligations of marriage.

Dr. Villegas' conclusion that Manuel is afflicted with Intermittent Explosive Disorder and that Nora
has Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder which render them psychologically incapacitated under
Article 36 of the Family Code,19 is solely based on her interviews with Manuel and the parties' eldest
child, Moncho. Consequently, the CA did not err in not according probative value to her
psychological evaluation report and testimony.

In Republic of the Philippines v. Galang,20 the Court held that "[i]f the incapacity can be proven by
independent means, no reason exists why such independent proof cannot be admitted to support a
conclusion of psychological incapacity, independently of a psychologist's examination and
report."21 In Toring v. Toring, et al.,22 the Court stated that:

Other than from the spouses, such evidence can come from persons intimately related to them, such
as relatives, close friends or even family doctors or lawyers who could testify on the allegedly
incapacitated spouses' condition at or about the time of marriage, or to subsequent occurring events
that trace their roots to the incapacity already present at the time of marriage.23

In this case, the only person interviewed by Dr. Villegas aside from Manuel for the spouses'
psychological evaluation was Moncho, who could not be considered as a reliable witness to
establish the psychological incapacity of his parents in relation to Article 36 of the Family Code,
since he could not have been there at the time his parents were married.

The Court also notes that Dr. Villegas did not administer any psychological tests on Manuel despite
having had the opportunity to do so. While the Court has declared that there is no requirement that
the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated should be personally examined by a
physician,24 much less be subjected to psychological tests, this rule finds application only if the
totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity. In this case,
the supposed personality disorder of Manuel could have been established by means of psychometric
and neurological tests which are objective means designed to measure specific aspects of people's
intelligence, thinking, or personality.25

With regard to the Confirmatory Decree26 of the National Tribunal of Appeals, which affirmed the
decision of the Metropolitan Tribunal of First Instance for the Archdiocese of Manila in favor of nullity
of the Catholic marriage of Manuel and Nora, the Court accords the same with great respect but
does not consider the same as controlling and decisive, in line with prevailing jurisprudence.27

WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby DENIED. The Decision dated March 27, 2014 and
Resolution dated April 22, 2015 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 98579 are AFFIRMED.

G.R. No. 218630

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner


vs.
KATRINA S. TOBORA-TIONGLICO, Respondent

DECISION

TIJAM, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 dated May 27, 2015 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 101985, which affirmed the May 8, 2012 Decision2 rendered by the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Imus Cavite, Branch 20, granting the petition for declaration of nullity
of marriage on the ground of Article 36 of the Family Code and declaring the marriage of Katrina S.
Tabora-Tionglico and Lawrence C. Tionglico void ab initio.

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

Katrina and Lawrence met sometime in 1997 through a group of mutual friends. After a brief
courtship, they entered into a relationship. When she got pregnant, the two panicked as both their
parents were very strict and conservative. Lawrence did not receive the news well as he was worried
how it would affect his image and how his parents would take the situation.3 Nevertheless, they got
married on July 22, 2000.4

Even during the early stage of their marriage, it was marred by bickering and quarrels. As early as
their honeymoon, they were fighting so much that they went their separate ways most of the time
and Katrina found herself wandering the streets of Hong Kong alone.5
Upon their return, they moved into the home of Lawrence's parents until the birth of their child, Lanz
Rafael Tabora Tionglico (Lanz), on December 30, 2000.6 Lawrence was distant and did not help in
rearing their child, saying he knew nothing about children and how to run a family.7 Lawrence spent
almost every night out for late dinners, parties and drinking sprees.8 Katrina noticed that Lawrence
was alarmingly dependent on his mother and suffered from a very high degree of
immaturity.9 Lawrence would repeatedly taunt Katrina to fight with him and they lost all intimacy
between them as he insisted to have a maid sleep in their bedroom every night to see to the needs
of Lanz.10

Lawrence refused to yield to and questioned any and all of Katrina's decisions-from the manner by
which she took care of Lanz, to the way she treated the household help. Most fights ended up in full
blown arguments, often in front of Lanz. One time, when Katrina remembered and missed her
youngest brother who was then committed in a substance rehabilitation center, Lawrence told her to
stop crying or sleep in the rehabilitation center if she will not stop.11

In 2003, due to their incessant fighting, Lawrence asked Katrina to leave his parents' home and
never to come back. They have been separated in fact since then.12

Katrina consulted with a psychiatrist, Dr. Juan Arellano (Dr. Arellano), who confirmed her beliefs on
Lawrence's psychological incapacity. Dr. Arellano, based on the narrations of Katrina, diagnosed
Lawrence with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, that is characterized by a heightened sense of self-
importance and grandiose feelings that he is unique in some way.13

Dr. Arellano determined that this personality disorder is permanent, incurable, and deeply integrated
within his psyche;14 and that it was present but repressed at the time of the celebration of the
marriage and the onset was in early adulthood. His maladaptive and irresponsible behaviors
interfered in his capacity to provide mutual love, fidelity, respect, mutual help, and support to his
wife.15

The RTC granted the petition and declared the marriage of Katrina and Lawrence as void ab initio. It
disposed, thus:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the marriage of Katrina S. Tabora-Tionglico


and Lawrence C. Tionglico Ito (sic) as void ab initio. As a necessary consequence of this
pronouncement, petitioner shall cease using the surname of her husband having lost the right over
the same and so as to avoid the misconception that she is still the legal wifo of respondent. Custody
over the couple's· minor child is awarded to petitioner, with reasonable visitation rights accorded to
respondent, preferably Saturday and Sunday, or as the parties may agree among themselves.

Furnish a copy of this decision the Office of the Solicitor-General, the National Statistics Office and
the Local Civil Registrar of Imus, Cavite who, in turn, shall endorse a copy of the same to the Local
Civil Registrar of Mandaluyong City, ·Metro Manila, so that the appropriate amendment and/or
cancellation of the parties' marriage can be effected in its registry. Furnish, likewise, the parties and
counsel.

SO ORDERED.16

The CA affirmed the RTC decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. Accordingly, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Imus,
Cavite, Branch 20, in Civil Case No. 4903-11dated8 May 2012 is hereby AFFIRMED.17
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) points out that there has been a myriad of cases declaring
that psychological assessment based solely on the information coming from either party in a petition
for declaration of nullity of marriage is considered as hearsay evidence. It is evident that in this case,
the psychiatrist obtained his data, in concluding that Lawrence is psychologically incapacitated,
exclusively from Katrina.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) points out that there has been a myriad of cases declaring
that psychological assessment based solely on the information coming from either party in a petition
for declaration of nullity of marriage is considered as hearsay evidence. It is evident that in this case,
the psychiatrist obtained his data, in concluding that Lawrence is psychologically incapacitated,
exclusively from Katrina.

Katrina counters that the facts, bases and surrounding circumstances of each and every case for the
nullity is different from the other and must be appreciated for its distinctiveness. She points out that
the psychological report of Dr. Arellano clearly outlined well-accepted scientific and reliable tests18 to
come up with his findings. In any case, the decision must be based not solely on the expert opinions
but on the totality of evidence adduced in the course of the proceedings, which the RTC and the CA
have found to have been sufficient in proving Lawrence's psychological incapacity.

The issue before Us is plainly whether the totality of evidence presented by Katrina supports the
findings of both the RTC and the CA that Lawrence is psychologically incapacitated to perform his
essential marital obligations, meriting the dissolution of his marriage with Katrina.

Contrary to the findings of both the RTC and the CA, We rule in the negative.

Time and again, it has been held that "psychological incapacity" has been intended by law to be
confined to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter
insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. Psychological incapacity
must be characterized by (a) gravity, i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be
incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage, (b) juridical antecedence, i.e., it
must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations
may emerge only after the marriage, and (c) incurability, i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were
otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.19

The case of Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals20has set out the guidelines that has been
the core of discussion of practically all declaration of nullity of marriage on the basis of psychological
incapacity cases that We have decided:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt
should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its
dissolution and nullity. xxx

(2) 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. xxx

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the
marriage. xxx
(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent
or incurable. xxx

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the
essential obligations of marriage. xxx

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the
Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the
same Code in regard to parents and their children. xxx

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic
Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by
our courts. xxx

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to
appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor
General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his
reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. xxx21

Using these standards, We find that Katrina failed to sufficiently prove that Lawrence is
psychologically incapacitated to discharge the duties expected of a husband.

Indeed, and We have oft-repeated that the trial courts, as in all the other cases they try, must always
base their judgments not solely on the expert opinions presented by the parties but on the totality of
evidence adduced in the course of their proceedings.22 Here, We find the totality of evidence clearly
wanting.

First, Dr. Arellano's findings that Lawrence is psychologically incapacitated were based solely on
Katrina's statements. It bears to stress that Lawrence, despite notice, did not participate in the
1âwphi1

proceedings below, nor was he interviewed by Dr. Arellano despite being invited to do so.

The case of Nicolas S. Matudan v. Republic of the Philippines and Marilyn B. Matudan23is instructive
on the matter:

Just like his own statements and testimony, the assessment and finding of the clinical psychologist
cannot [be] relied upon to substantiate the petitioner-appellant's theory of the psychological
incapacity of his wife.

It bears stressing that Marilyn never participated in the proceedings below. The clinical
psychologist's evaluation of the respondent-appellee's condition was based mainly on the
information supplied by her husband, the petitioner, and to some extent from their daughter, Maricel.
It is noteworthy, however, that Maricel was only around two (2) years of age at the time the
respondent left and therefore cannot be expected to know her mother well. Also, Maricel would not
have been very reliable as a witness in an Article 36 case because she could not have been there
when the spouses were married and could not have been expected to know what was happening
between her parents until long after her birth. On the other hand, as the petitioning spouse, Nicolas'
description of Marilyn's nature would certainly be biased, and a psychological evaluation based on
this one-sided description can hardly be considered as credible. The ruling in Jocelyn Suazo v.
Angelita Suazo, el al., is illuminating on this score:
We first note a critical factor in appreciating or evaluating the expert opinion evidence - the
psychologist's testimony and the psychological evaluation report - that Jocelyn presented. Based on
her declarations in open court, the psychologist evaluated Angelito's psychological condition only in
an indirect manner - she derived all her conclusions from information coming from Jocelyn whose
bias for her cause cannot of course be doubted. Given the source of the information upon which the
psychologist heavily relied upon, the court must evaluate the evidentiary worth of the opinion with
due care and with the application of the more rigid and stringent set of standards outlined above i.e.,
that there must be a thorough and in-depth assessment of the parties by the psychologist or expert,
for a conclusive diagnosis of a psychological incapacity that is grave, severe and incurable.

xxxx

From these perspectives, we conclude that the psychologist, using meager information coming from
a directly interested party, could not have secured a complete personality profile and could not have
conclusively formed an objective opinion or diagnosis of Angelito's psychological condition. While the
report or evaluation may be conclusive with respect to Jocelyn's psychological condition, this is not
true for Angelito's. The methodology employed simply cannot satisfy the required depth and
comprehensiveness of examination required to evaluate a party alleged to be suffering from a
psychological disorder. In short, this is not the psychological report that the Court can rely on as
basis for the conclusion that psychological incapacity exists.

In the earlier case of Rowena Padilla-Rumbaua v. Edward Rumbaua, it was similarly declared that
'[t]o make conclusions and generalizations on the respondent's psychological condition based on the
information fed by only one side is, to our mind, not different from admitting hearsay evidence as
proof of the truthfulness of the content of such evidence.'

At any rate, We find the report prepared by the clinical psychologist on the psychological condition of
the respondent-appellee to be insufficient to warrant the conclusion that a psychological incapacity
existed that prevented Marilyn from complying with the essential obligations of marriage. In said
report, Dr. Tayag merely concluded that Marilyn suffers from. Narcissistic Personality Disorder with
antisocial traits on the basis of what she perceives as manifestations of the same. The report neither
explained the incapacitating nature of the alleged disorder, nor showed that the respondent-appellee
was really incapable of fulfilling her duties due to some incapacity of a psychological, not physical,
nature. (Emphasis Ours)

The same could be said in this case, where the various tests conducted by Dr. Arellano can most
certainly be conclusive of the psychological disposition of Katrina, but cannot be said to be indicative
of the psychological condition of Lawrence. There was simply no other basis for Dr. Arellano to
conclude that Lawrence was psychologically incapacitated to perform his essential marital
obligations apart from Katrina's self-serving statements. To make conclusions and generalizations
on a spouse's psychological condition based on the information fed by only one side, as in the case
at bar, is, to the Court's mind, not different from admitting hearsay evidence as proof of the
truthfulness of the content of such evidence.24

Second, the testimony of Katrina as regards the behavior of Lawrence hardly depicts the picture of a
psychologically incapacitated husband. Their frequent fights, his insensitivity, immaturity and
frequent night-outs can hardly be said to be a psychological illness. These acts, in our view, do not
rise to the level of the "psychological incapacity" that the law requires, and should be distinguished
from the "difficulty," if not outright "refusal" or "neglect" in the performance of some marital
obligations that characterize some marriages.25 It is not enough to prove that a spouse failed to meet
his responsibility and duty as a married person; it is essential that he must be shown to be incapable
of doing so due to some psychological illness. The psychological illness that must afflict a party at
the inception of the marriage should be a malady so grave and permanent as to deprive the party of
his or her awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he or she was then
about to assume.26

Although We commiserate with Katrina's predicament, We are hardpressed to affirm the RTC and
CA when the totality of evidence is clearly lacking to support the factual and legal conclusion that
Lawrence and Katrina's marriage is void ab initio. No other evidence or witnesses were presented by
Katrina to prove Lawrence's alleged psychological incapacity. Basic is the rule that bare allegations,
unsubstantiated by evidence, are not equivalent to proof, i.e., mere allegations are not
evidence.27 Here, we reiterate that apart from the psychiatrist, Katrina did not present other witnesses
to substantiate her allegations on Lawrence's psychological incapacity. Her testimony, therefore, is
considered self-serving and had no serious evidentiary value.28

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated May
27, 2015 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 101985, which affirmed the May 8, 2012
Decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Imus Cavite, Branch 20, granting the petition for
declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of Article 36 of the Family Code and declaring the
marriage of Katrina S. Tabora-Tionglico and Lawrence C. Tionglico void ab initio, is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The petition for declaration of nullity of marriage docketed as
Civil Case No. 4903-11 is hereby DISMISSED.

G.R. No. 210766

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


vs.
BENJAMIN L. SINGSON, Respondent

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari1 are the August 29, 2013 Decision2 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) and its January 6, 2014 Resolution3 in CA-G.R. CV No. 96662, which reversed and set
aside the November 12, 2010 Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Parañaque City, Branch
260, in Civil Case No. 07-0070.

Factual Antecedents

On February 27, 2007, Maria Concepcion N. Singson a.k.a. Concepcion N. Singson (petitioner) filed
a Petition5 for declaration of nullity of marriage based on Article 36 of the Family Code of the
Philippines6 (Family Code). This was docketed as Civil Case No. 07-0070.

It was alleged therein that on July 6, 1974, petitioner and Benjamin L. Singson (respondent) were
married before the Rev. Fr. Alfonso L. Casteig at St. Francis Church, Mandaluyong, Rizal; that said
marriage produced four children, all of whom are now of legal age; that when they started living
together, petitioner noticed that respondent was "dishonest, unreasonably extravagant at the
expense of the family's welfare, extremely vain physically and spiritually,"7 and a compulsive
gambler; that respondent was immature, and was w1ab1e to perform his paternal duties; that
respondent was also irresponsible, an easy-going man, and guilty of infidelity; that respondent's
abnormal behavior made him completely unable to render any help, support, or assistance to her;
and that because she could expect no help or assistance at all from respondent she was compelled
to work doubly hard to support her family as the sole breadwinner.
Petitioner also averred that at the time she filed this Petition, respondent was confined at Metro
Psych Facility,8 a rehabilitation institution in Pasig City; and that respondent's attending psychiatrist,
Dr. Benita Sta. Ana-Ponio (Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio), made the following diagnosis on respondent:

Based on history, mental status examination and observation, he is diagnosed to be suffering from
Pathological Gambling as manifested by:

a. preoccupation with gambling, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble as seen
in his stealing and pawning jewelries and appliances[;]

b. needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired
effect[;]

c. lies to family members or others to conceal the extent of [his] involvement with gambling[;]

d. committed illegal acts such as forging the signature of his wife, issuing bouncing checks in
order to finance his gambling[;]

e. has jeopardized his relationship with his wife, lost the respect of his children, lost a good
career in banking because of gambling[;]

f. [relies] on his parents, his wife, and siblings to provide money to relieve a desperate
fmancial situation caused by gambling[;]

While he apparently had Typhoid fever that resulted [in] behavioral changes as a young boy, it would
be difficult to say that the psychotic episodes he manifested in 2003 and 2006 [are] etiologically
related to the general medical condition that occurred in his childhood.

Furthermore, [respondent] manifests an enduring pattern of behavior that deviates markedly from
the expectations of our culture as manifested in the following areas:

a. his ways of perceiving and interpreting [his own] self, other people, and events[;]

b. his emotional response[;]

c. his poor impulse control[;]

Such pattern is inflexible and pervasive and has led to significant impairment in social, occupational
and interpersonal relationship. In [respondent's] case, this has persisted for several years, and can
be traced back [to] his adolescence since he started gambling while in high school. He is therefore
diagnosed to be suffering from Personality Disorder.

All these[,] put together, [hinder respondent] from performing his marital obligations.9

Petitioner moreover asserted that respondent came from a "distraught" family and had a
"dysfunctional" childhood;10that respondent had all the love, care, and protection of his parents as the
youngest child for some time; but that these parental love, care and protection were, however,
transferred to his youngest brother who was born when respondent was almost five years old; and
that these factors caused respondent emotional devastation from which he never recovered.
Petitioner added that unknown to her, respondent even as a high school student, was already
betting on jai alai. She also claimed that she tried to adjust to respondent's personality disorders, but
that she did not attain her goal.

Finally, petitioner claimed that she and respondent did not enter into any ante-nuptial agreement to
govern their prope1ty relations as husband and wife and that they had no conjugal assets or debts.

On June 19, 2007, respondent filed his Answer.11

Traversing petitioner's allegations, respondent claimed that "psychological incapacity" must be


characterized by gravity, juridical antecedence, and incurability, which are not present in the instant
case because petitioner's allegations are not supported by facts.

Respondent further averred that it was not true that he failed to render any help, support or
assistance to petitioner and their family; that the family home where petitioner and their children are
living was in fact his own capital property; that his shortcomings as mentioned by petitioner do not
pertain to the most grave or serious cases of personality disorders that would satisfy the standards
required to obtain a decree of nullity of marriage; that petitioner's complaint is nothing more than a
complaint of a woman with an unsatisfactory marriage who wants to get out of it; that contrary to
petitioner's claim that he is a good-for-nothing fellow, he has a college degree in business
administration, and is a bank employee, and, that it was money problem, and not his alleged
personality disorder, that is the wall that divided him and petitioner.

Respondent also claimed that petitioner failed to lay the basis for the conclusions of the psychiatrist
to the effect that he is suffering from pathological gambling and personality disorder; that petitioner's
allegation that he came from a distraught family and that he suffered emotional devastation is vague,
and bereft of particular details, and even slanderous; and that assuming that he had not acted the
way petitioner expected him to conduct himself, his actions and behavior are not psychological
illnesses or personality disorders, but simply physical illnesses of the body, akin to hypertension and
allied sicknesses, and that these physical illnesses are not at all incurable psychiatric disorders that
were present at the time of his marriage with petitioner.

Respondent furthermore claimed that he and petitioner had conjugal assets and debts; that the land
where their family home is built came from his earnings, hence the family home is their conjugal
property; that he and petitioner also have a house and lot in Tagaytay City, as well as bank accounts
that are in petitioner's name only; and he and petitioner also have investments in shares of stocks,
cars, household appliances, furniture, and jewelry; and that these are conjugal assets because they
came from petitioner's salaries and his (respondent's) own inheritance money.

Respondent moreover alleged that before the filing of the present Petition, petitioner had caused him
to be admitted into the Metro Psych Facility for treatment; that on account of his confinement and
treatment in this psychiatric facility, he has incurred medical expenses and professional medical
fees; and that since it is petitioner who manages all their finances and conjugal assets it stands to
reason that he should be awarded '"spousal support."

On July 25, 2007, the RTC issued its Pre-Trial Order.12

Trial thereafter ensued. Petitioner's witnesses included herself, her son, Jose Angelo Singson
(Jose), and Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio.

On February 23, 2010, petitioner filed her Formal Offer of Evidence which included a photocopy of
the marriage contract; the birth certificates of their four children; her son Jose’s Judicial Affidavit
dated April 2, 2008; a photocopy of Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio's Judicial Affidavit dated June 25, 2008;
Clinical Summary of respondent issued by Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio dated February 11, 2007 (Clinical
Summary); her (petitioner's) own Judicial Affidavit dated April 2, 2008; a photocopy of Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 179751 registered in the names of the parties' four children:, and a
notarized document entitled "Summary of Sources and Uses of Funds for tJ1e period November
1999 to March 31, 2008" executed by petitioner and described as a detailed summary of expenses
paid for with the proceeds of respondent's share in the sale of the latter's house in Magallanes
Village.13

Respondent filed his Comment thereon.14

On March 29, 2010, the RTC admitted petitioner’s exhibits.15

On May 13, 2010, respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss16 "on the ground that the totality of evidence
presented by petitioner did not establish [his] psychological incapacity x x x to comply with the
essential martial obligations x x x".17 Petitioner filed her Opposition18 thereto, and respondent
tendered his Comment thereon.19

On May 17, 2010, the RTC denied respondent’s Motion to Dismiss and stood pat on its March 29,
2010 Order.20

During the September 30, 2010 hearing, respondent’s counsel manifested that his client was waiving
the right to present countervailing evidence. Respondent’s counsel also moved that the Petition at
bar be submitted for decision on the basis of the evidence already on the record. The RTC thus
declared the case submitted for decision.21

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

In its Decision of November 12, 2010, the RTC granted the Petition and declared the marriage
between petitioner and respondent void ab initio on the ground of the latter’s psychological
incapacity. The RTC disposed thus-

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the petition is GRANTED. Judgment is


hereby rendered[:]

1. DECLARING null and void ab initio the marriage between MARIA CONCEPCION v. SINGSON
a.k.a. CONCEPCION N. SINGSON and BENJAMIN L SINGSON solemnized on JULY 6, 1974 in
Mandaluyong City or any other marriage between them on the ground of psychological' incapacity of
the respondent.

2. ORDERING the Local Civil Registrar of Mandaluyong City and the National Statistics Office to
cancel the marriage between the petitioner and the respondent as appearing in the Registry of
Marriage.

There are no other issues in this case.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrars ofMandaluyong City and
Parañaque City, the Office of the Solicitor General, the Office of the Civil Register General (National
Statistics Office) and the Office of the City Prosecutor, Parañaque City.

SO ORDERED.22
The RTC ruled that the requisites warranting a finding of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of
the family Code are present in the instant case because the totality of evidence showed that
respondent is suffering from a psychological condition that is grave, incurable, and has juridical
antecedence.

The RTC also found that the combined testimonies of petitioner and Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio convincingly
showed that respondent is psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential marital obligations;
that respondent's inability to perform his marital obligations as set out in Articles 68 to 71 of the
Family Code, was essentially due to a psychological abnormality arising from a pathological and
utterly irresistible urge to gamble.

The RTC cited "[Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio's] findings [which] reveal that respondent is suffering
from Personality Disorder known as Pathological Gambling."23 It ruled that it has been shown that
this personality disorder was present at the time of celebration of marriage but became manifest only
later; that because of this personality disorder respondent had already jeopardized his relationship
with his family; and that respondent's psychological disorder hinders the performance of his
obligations as a husband and as a father.

Lastly, the RTC found that the only property owned in common by spouses was donated in favor of
the parties' children as evidenced by TCT No.

Respondent moved for reconsideration of this verdict.

But in its older dated January 6, 2011,24 the RTC denied respondent's motion for reconsideration. It
reiterated that the expert witness had adequately established that respondent is suffering from
"Pathological Gambling Personality Disorder'' which is grave, permanent, and has juridical
antecedence. On February 4, 2011, respondent filed a Notice of Appeal25 which was given due
course by the RTC in its order26 dated February 28, 2011.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In its Decision of August 29, 2013, the CA overturned the RTC, and disposed as follows:

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated 12 November 2010 issued by the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 260, Parañaque City in Civil Case No. 07-0070, declaring the marriage
between Maria Concepcion N. Singson and Benjamin L. Singson null and void ab initio, is
REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. Instead, the Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage is
DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.27

The CA held that the totality of evidence presented by petitioner failed to establish respondent's
alleged psychological incapacity to perform the essential marital obligations, which in this case, was
not at all proven to be grave or serious, much less incurable, and furthermore was not existing at the
time of the marriage. What is more, the CA declared that any doubt should be resolved in favor of
the existence and continuation of the marriage, and against its dissolution and nullity, in obedience
to the mandate of the Constitution and statutory laws; and that in this case, petitioner failed to
discharge the burden of proving that respondent is suffering from a serious or grave psychological
disorder that completely disables or incapacitates him from understanding and discharging the
essential obligations of the marital union.
According to the CA, psychological incapacity is the downright or utter incapacity or inability to take
cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations. The CA did not go along with the RTC,
which placed heavy reliance on Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio's finding that respondent was psychologically
incapacitated to perform the essential marital obligations due to a personality disorder known as
pathological gambling. The CA held that, contrary to petitioner's claim that respondent's pathological
gambling was grave or serious, the evidence in fact showed that the latter was truly capable of
carrying out the ordinary duties of a married man because he had a job, had provided money for the
family from the sale of his own property, and he likewise provided the land on which the family home
was built, and he also lives in the family home with petitioner and their children.

On top of these, the CA ruled that it is settled that mere difficulty, refusal or neglect in the
performance of marital obligations, or ill will on the part of a spouse, is different from incapacity
rooted in some debilitating psychological condition or illness; that the evidence at bar showed that
respondent's alleged pathological gambling arose after the marriage; that in fact petitioner admitted
that she was not aware of any gambling by respondent before they got married; that petitioner
moreover acknowledged that respondent was a kind and a caring person when he was courting her;
that petitioner likewise admitted that respondent also brought petitioner to the hospital during all four
instances when she gave birth to their four children.

In other words, the CA found that respondent's purported pathological gambling was not proven to
be incurable or permanent since respondent has been undergoing treatment since 2003 and has
been responding to the treatment.

Petitioner moved for reconsideration28 of the CA's Decision. But her motion was denied by the CA in
its Resolution of January 6, 2014.29

Issue

Hence, the instant recourse with petitioner raising the following question –

[WHETHER] THE [CA] ERRED IN REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE [RTC].30

Petitioner's Arguments

In praying for the reversal of the assailed CA Decision and Resolution, and in asking for the
reinstatement of the RTC Decision, petitioner argues in her Petition,31 Reply,32 and
Memorandum33 that respondent's psychological incapacity had been duly proved in court, including
its juridical antecedence, incurability, and gravity.

First, petitioner maintains that respondent failed to perform the marital duties of mutual love, respect,
and support; that Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio's expert findings are corroborated by the testimonies of
petitioner end her son Jose both of whom demonstrated that respondent’s psychological incapacity
is grave or serious rendering him incapable to perform the essential marital obligations; that for his
pan, respondent had adduced no proof that he (respondent) is capable of carrying out the ordinary
duties required in a marriage for the reason that everything that the family had saved and built had
been squandered by respondent; and that respondent's confinement at the rehabilitation facility is
itself proof of the gravity or seriousness of his psychological incapacity.

Second, petitioner contends that respondent’s psychological incapacity preceded the marriage, as
shown in Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio’s Clinical Summary, which pointed out that such psychological
incapacity, which included pathological gambling, can be traced back when respondents was
already betting on jai alai even in high school, and this was not known to his family; that the Clinical
Summary was based on information provided not only by petitioner, but by respondent’s sister, and
by respondent himself; that such juridical antecedence was neither questioned nor overthrown by
countervailing evidence; and that the root cause could be traced back to respondent’s flawed
relationship with his parents which developed into a psychological disorder that existed before the
marriage.

Third, petitioner insists that this Court can take judicial notice of the fact that personality disorders
are generally incurable and permanent, and must continuously be treated medically; that in this case
the Clinical Summary; had pointed out that respondent's understanding of his gambling problem is
only at the surface level; and that in point of fact Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio had affirmed that personality
disorders are incurable.

Respondent’s Arguments

In his Comment34 and Memorandum,35 respondent counters that the assailed CA Decision should be
affirmed. He argues that the grounds cited by petitioner are the self-same grounds raised by
petitioner before the RTC and the CA; that petitioner's evidence indeed failed to prove convincingly
that he (respondent) is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations,
hence there is no basis to declare the parties' marriage void ab initio.

Our Ruling

The Petition will not succeed.

It is axiomatic that the validity of marriage and the unity of the family are enshrined in our
Constitution and statutory laws, hence any doubts attending the same are to be resolved in favor of
the continuance and validity of the marriage and that the burden of proving the nullity of the same
rests at all times upon the petitioner.36 "The policy of the Constitution is to protect and strengthen the
family as the basic social institution, and marriage as the foundation of the family. Because of this,
the Constitution decrees marriage as legally inviolable and protects it from dissolution at the whim of
the parties."37

Article 1 of the Family Code describes marriage as "a special contract of permanent union between
a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family
life" and as "the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution."

In the instant case, petitioner impugns the inviolability of this social institution by suing out pursuant
to Article 36 of the Family Code, which provides that:

Art. 36. 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. (As amended by Executive Order
227)

Petitioner's case will thus be examined in light of the well-entrenched case law rulings interpreting
and construing the quoted Article, to wit:

'Psychological incapacity,' as a ground to nullify a marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code,
should refer to no less than a mental - not merely 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 in Article 68 of the Family Code, among others,
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.
In Santos v. CA (Santos),the Court first declared that psychological incapacity must be characterized
by: (a) gravity (i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying
out the ordinary duties required in a marriage); (b) juridical antecedence (i.e., it must be rooted in the
history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only
after the marriage); and (c) incurability (i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the
cure would be beyond the means of the party involved). The Court laid down more definitive
guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code in Republic of the
Phils. v. CA, x x x [also known as the Molina guidelines]. These guidelines incorporate the basic
requirements that the Court established in Santos.38

In setting aside the RTC's ruling, the CA in this case held that petitioner failed to prove that
respondent was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations
because she failed to establish that such incapacity was grave and serious, and that it existed at the
time of the marriage, and that it is incurable. We agree.

At the outset, this Court is constrained to peruse the records because of the conflicting findings
between the trial court and the appellate court.39 We thus did peruse and review the records, and we
are satisfied that the CA correctly found that respondent has the capability and ability to perform his
duties as a husband and father as against the RTC' s rather general statement that respondent's
psychological or personality disorder hinders the performance of his basic obligations as a husband
and a father.

We agree with the CA that the evidence on record does not establish that respondent's
psychological incapacity was grave and serious as defined by jurisprudential parameters since
"[respondent] had a job; provided money for the family from the sale of his property; provided the
land where the family home was built on; and lived in the family home with petitioner-appellee and
their children."40

Upon the other hand, petitioner herself testified that respondent had a job as the latter "was working
at a certain point."41 This is consistent with the information in Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio's Clinical Summary
and testimony, which were both included in petitioner's formal offer of evidence, respecting the
parties' relationship history that petitioner and respondent met at the bank where petitioner was
applying for a job and where respondent was employed as a credit investigator prior to their
courtship and their marriage.42

It is significant to note moreover that petitioner also submitted as part of her evidence a notarized
summary dated February 18, 2010 which enumerated expenses paid for by the proceeds of
respondent's share in the sale of his parents' home in Magallanes, Makati City which amounted to
around ₱2.9 million. Although petitioner was insinuating that this amount was insufficient to cover the
family expenses from 1999 to 2008, we note that she admitted under oath that the items for their
family budget, such as their children's education, the payments for association dues, and for electric
bills came from this money.

And no less significant is petitioner's admission that respondent provided the land upon which the
family home was built, thus -

[Respondent's counsel to the witness, petitioner]


Q: Does [respondent] [own] any real property?

A: No.

Q: He does not [own] any real property?

A: No.

Q: Showing to you Transfer Certificate of Title No. 413513 of the Register of Deeds of Rizal which
has been transferred with the Register of Deeds of Paranaque and is now re-numbered as S-25470,
which is in the name of [respondent], Filipino, of legal age, single.

xxxx

[COURT to the witness, petitioner]

Q: Who owned this property?

A: Based on the document, it's Benjamin Singson.

Q: Where is this property located?

A: It is located in United Paranaque.

Q: Where in United Paranaque?

A: No. 2822 Daang Hari.

Q: Are you staying in that property?

A: We are staying in that property.

xxxx

[Respondent's counsel to the Witiress, petitioner]

Q: How about the house there, in the United Parañaque [property], who owns it?

A: It was donated to the children.

xxxx

[COURT to the witness, petitioner]

Q: Based on the document, who is the registered owner?

A: It says there, [respondent], Your Honor.

Q: Who owns it now?


A: The children because it was donated [to them].43

What's more, petitioner and respondent likewise lived together as husband and wife since their
marriage on July 6,1974 (and in the company of their four children, too). In fact, shunting aside the
time that respondent was under treatment at the Metro Psych Facility, petitioner did not allege any
instance when respondent failed to live with them.

To the foregoing, we ought to add the fact that petitioner herself admitted, that respondent likewise
brought her to the hospital during all four instances that she gave birth to their children.44

By contrast, petitioner did not proffer any convincing proof that respondent’s mere confinement at
the rehabilitation center confirmed the gravity of the latter’s psychological incapacity.

Neither does petitioner’s bare claim that respondent is a pathological gambler, is irresponsible, and
is unable to keep a job, necessarily translate into unassailable proof that respondent is
psychologically incapacitated to perform the essential marital obligations. It is settled that
"[p]sychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code contemplates an incapacity or
inability to take cognizance of and to assume basic marital obligations, and is not merely the
difficulty, refusal, or neglect in the performance of marital obligations or ill will."45 "[I]t is not enough to
prove that a spouse failed to meet his responsibility and duty as a married person; it is essential that
he or she must be shown to be incapable of doing so because of some psychological, not physical,
illness."46

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

[Petitioner's counsel to the witness, Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio]

Q: Madam Witness, do you know the respondent in this case, Benjamin Singson?

A: Yes. [S]ir, [respondent] has been my patient since 2003, during his first admission and again [in]
2006, [S]ir.

Q: So, he was confined twice in your facility, [M]adam witness?

A: Yes, [S]ir.

Q: Why was he confined, Madam witness?

A: He was initially confined because of problems with gambling and subsequently because of
[behavioral] problem, [S]ir.

xxxx

Q: What was the cause of his second confinement, Madam [W]itness?

A: Initially, he was able to cope after discharged. However, [in] September of 2006, he knocked on
the doors of the maids in the middle of the night. And in one occasion, he got his car in the garage
and drove out bumping the car parked right across the garage and he [also kept] takfr1g things out
from his cabinet. And if the maids would clean [these], he [would] immediately take them out again.
So, he was brought to the facility in October because of his uncontrolled behavior, [S]ir.

xxxx

Q: So, what [were] your clinical findings on the state of the respondent, Benjamin Singson, Madam
witness?

A: Based on history, mental status examination and observations during his stay, I found that
[respondent] is suffering from pathological gambling. Also, with his history of typhoid fever when he
was younger, it is difficult to attribute the behavioral changes that he manifested in 2003 and 2006.
Aside from pathological gambling, [respondent] is suffering from a personality disorder, [S]ir.

Q: What are the results or symptoms of this personality disorder with [regard] to [respondent's
dealings] with other people, with his wife and his family, [M]adam witness?

A: Your Honor, may I read from my report to refresh my memory.

COURT: Go ahead.

A: Because of his maladaptive behavior, [respondent] sees [sic] his problems which [makes] his
personal[,] family[,] and social life[,] and even his vocational pleasure [suffer]. He was pre-occupied
with gambling, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble as seen in his stealing and
pawning jewelries and appliances. He needs to amble with increasing amounts of money in
order achieve his desired effects into gambling, [S]ir.

COURT: Your findings, Dr., are incorporated in your report?

A: Yes, Your Honor.

xxxx

[Cross-examination of Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio by respondent’s counsel]

Q: Who were the ones who made the examination, Madam witness?

A: I made the examination, [S]ir, and also the psychologist did the psychological testing, [S]ir.

Q: Now, in your opinion as an expert witness, Madam witness, which we would like to request [from]
this Honorable Court, later on, that you present your credentials as expert witness, you concluded
that the respondent is suffering from personality disorder?

A: Yes,[S]ir.

Q: What does this mean in layman’s language, [M]adam witness?

A: Personality disorder is a maladaptive pattern of behavior that has distracted his ability to perform
his functions as a married man to his wife as a father to his children and as a person who is
supposed to be employed productively, [S]ir.47
Futhermore, "[h]abitual drunkenness, gambling and failure to find a job, [while undoubtedly negative
traits are nowhere nearly the equivalent of ‘psychological incapacity’], in the absence of
[incontrovertible] proof that these are manifestations of an incapacity rooted in some debilitating
psychological condition or illness."48

We now turn to the second point. Again, in view of the contrasting findings of the trial court and
appellate court,49 we take recourse to the records to assist us in evaluating the perspective postures
taken by the parties.

Here again, well-entrenched is the rule that "there must be proof of a natal or supervening disabling
factor that effectively incapacitated the respondent spouse from complying with the basic marital
obligations x x x."50 "A cause has to be shown and linked with the manifestations of the psychological
incapacity."51

Again we agree with the CA that the RTC did not clearly or correctly lay down the bases or premises
for this particular finding relative to respondent's psychological incapacity, thus:

Second, there is also sufficient evidence to prove that the respondent's inabilities to perform his
marital obligations was a result of not mere intentional refusal on his part but are caused by
psychological abnormality. Such psychological incapacity of the respondent has been shown as
already present at the time of celebration of marriage but became manifest only after the
solemnization. x x x.52

As heretofore mentioned, the medical basis or evidence adverted to by the RTC did not specifically
identify the root cause of respondent's alleged psychological incapacity. In fact, Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio
did not point to a definite or a definitive cause, viz. "with his history of typhoid fever when he was
younger, it is difficult to attribute the behavioral changes that he manifested in 2003 and
2006."53 Besides, Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio admitted that it was not she herself, but another psychologist
who conducted the tests.54 And this psychologist was not presented by petitioner. More than that, Dr.
Sta. Ana-Ponio's testimony regarding respondent's alleged admission that he was allegedly
betting on jai alai when he was still in high school is essentially hearsay as no witness having
personal knowledge of that fact was called to the witness stand. And, although Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio
claimed to have interviewed respondent's sister in connection therewith, the latter did testify in court.
And we are taught that "[t]he stringency by which the Court assesses the sufficiency of psychological
evaluation reports is necessitated by the pronouncement in our Constitution that marriage is an
inviolable institution protected by the State."55

Equally bereft of merit is petitioner's claim that respondent's alleged psychological incapacity could
be attributed to the latter's family or childhood, which are circumstances prior to the parties'
marriage; no evidence has been adduced to substantiate this fact. Nor is there basis for upholding
petitioner's contention that respondent's family was "distraught" and that respondent's conduct was
"dysfunctional"; again, there is no evidence to attest to this. These are very serious charges which
must be substantiated by clear evidence which, unfortunately, petitioner did not at all adduce.
Indeed, Dr. Sta. Ana-Ponio did not make a specific finding that this was the origin of respondent's
alleged inability to appreciate marital obligations.

Needless to say, petitioner cannot lean upon her son Jose's testimony that his father's psychological
incapacity existed before or at the time of marriage. It has been held that the parties' child is not a
1âwphi1

very reliable witness in an Article 36 case as "he could not have been there when the spouses were
married and could not have been expected to know what was happening between his parents until
long after his birth."56
To support her Article 36 petition, petitioner ought to have adduced convincing, competent and
trustworthy evidence to establish the cause of respondent's alleged psychological incapacity and
that the same antedated their marriage.57 If anything, petitioner failed to successfully dispute the CA's
finding that she was not aware of any gan1b1ing by respondent before they got married and that
respondent was a kind and caring person when he was courting her.58

Against this backdrop, we must uphold the CA's declaration that petitioner failed to prove that
respondents alleged psychological incapacity is serious or grave and that it is incurable or
permanent.

To be sure, this Court cannot take judicial notice of petitioner's assertion that "personality disorders
are generally incurable" as this is not a matter that courts are mandated to take judicial notice under
Section 1, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court.59

"'Unless the evidence presented clearly reveals a situation where the parties or one of them, by
reason of a grave and incurable psychological illness existing at the time the marriage was
celebrated, was incapacitated to fulfill the obligations of marital life (and thus could not then have
validly entered into a marriage), then we are compelled to uphold the indissolubility of the marital
tie."60 This is the situation here.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The August 29, 2013 Decision and January 6, 2014
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 96662 are AFFIRMED.