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G.R. No. 188400 | March 8, 2017 | LEONEN | SECOND DIVISION


Psychological incapacity is a mental illness that leads to an inability to comply with

or comprehend essential marital obligations. This resolves the Petition for Review filed by
Maria Teresa B. Tani - De La Fuente (Maria Teresa) assailing the Court of Appeals
Decision and Resolution dated August 29, 2008 and May 25, 2009, respectively, in CA-
G.R. CV. No. 76243, which reversed the Decision 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 UST. After graduating, Maria Teresa found work at the UST
Treasurer's Office. Meanwhile, Rodolfo, who was unable to finish his college degree.
While they were still sweethearts, Maria Teresa already noticed that Rodolfo was an
introvert and was prone to jealousy.

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. Rodolfo's jealousy was so severe that he once poked a gun at his own
15-year old cousin because he suspected his cousin of being Maria Teresa's lover.

In addition, Rodolfo treated Maria Teresa like a sex slave. They would have sex four (4)
or five (5) times a day. At times, Rodolfo would fetch Maria Teresa from her office during
her lunch break, just so they could have sex. During sexual intercourse, Rodolfo would
either tie her to the bed or poke her with things. Rodolfo’s actions made Maria Teresa feel
molested and maltreated. Whenever Maria Teresa refused Rodolfo's advances or
suggestions, he would get angry and they would quarrel.

Maria Teresa suggested that she and Rodolfo undergo marriage counselling, but Rodolfo
refused and deemed it as mere "kalokohan". Sometime in 1986, the couple quarreled
because Rodolfo suspected that Maria Teresa was having an affair. In the heat of their
quarrel, Rodolfo poked a gun at Maria Teresa's head. Maria Teresa, with their two (2)
daughters, left Rodolfo and their conjugal home supported their children by herself.

On June 3, 1999, Maria Teresa filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage before
the RTC of Quezon City. The case was initially archived because Rodolfo failed to file a
responsive pleading. Maria Teresa moved for the revival of the Petition. The trial court
granted the motion and referred the case to the Office of the City Prosecutor for collusion
investigation, and found none.

Despite notice, Rodolfo failed to attend the scheduled pre-trial conference. The pre-trial
conference was declared closed and terminated, and Maria Teresa was allowed to
present her evidence. Aside from Maria Teresa, Dr. Arnulfo V. Lopez (Dr. Lopez), a
clinical psychologist, was presented as an expert witness. 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. Dr. Lopez also interviewed Rodolfo's best friend.

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.

Dr. Lopez affirmed that he sent Rodolfo a letter of invitation through registered mail. 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 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." 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. Dr. Lopez
explained that Rodolfo's personality disorder was most probably caused by a pathogenic
parental model. 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.

Dr. Lopez further claimed that Rodolfo's disorder was serious and incurable because of
his severe paranoia. Dr. Lopez recommended that Maria Teresa and Rodolfo's marriage
be annulled due to Rodolfo's incapacity to perform his marital obligations.

Because of his unexplained absence, the trial court eventually deemed his non-
appearance as a waiver of his right to present evidence. On June 26, 2002, the trial court
directed the Office of the Solicitor General to submit its comment, but failed to comply.
On August 14, 2002, the trial court promulgated its Decision granting the petition for
declaration of nullity of marriage.

The OSG then filed an appeal with the CA, which was granted. It ruled that the testimony
of Dr. Lopez was unreliable for being hearsay, thus, the trial court should not have given
it weight.


Whether or not CA 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.

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

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, where this Court held that "the root cause of psychological incapacity must be
medically or clinically identified and sufficiently proven by experts." 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

The Court of Appeals is mistaken.

Camacho-Reyes v. Reyes 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.”

Marcos v. Marcos 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.

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.

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. She believed that he would change after they got married;
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.

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.

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.

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. 222541 | February 15, 2017 | PERLAS-BERNABE | FIRST DIVISION


Before the Court is this petition for review on certiorari assailing the Decision 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 Decision 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


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. Very soon, they
became romantically involved.

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.

In September 2011, Rachel filed a petition 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 flirty text messages
to her sister, Beverly.

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.
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.

The Psychological report prepared by Dr. Tayag 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.

The RTC granted the petition, however, it was reversed upon appeal to the CA, stating
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.


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 petition lacks merit. 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.

In Santos v. CA, 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. The Court laid down more definitive guidelines
in the interpretation and application of Article 36 in Republic v. Molina (Molina) whose
salient points are footnoted below, 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. 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. 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. To be clear, however, the totality of the evidence must
still establish the characteristics that Santos laid down: gravity, incurability, and juridical

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

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.
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.

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.
FELICITAS L. SALAZAR vs REMEDIOS FELIAS, on her own behalf and
representation of the other heirs of Catalino Nivera
G.R. No. 213972 | February 05, 2018| REYES | Second Division


The movant's claim that his/her property is exempt from execution for being the family
home is not a magic wand that will freeze the court's hand and forestall the execution of
a final and executory ruling. It is imperative that the claim for exemption must be set up
and proven.

This treats of the petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of
Court seeking the reversal of the Decision dated December 62013, and Resolution dated
August 7, 2014, rendered by the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 97309, which
affirmed the execution of the final and executory judgment issued by the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 55, Alaminos, Pangasinan (RTC Branch 55).


Felias, representing the heirs of Catalino Nivera, filed a complaint before RTC of
Alaminos, Pangasinan for Recovery of Ownership and Possession of four parcels of land
located in Baruan, Agno, and Pangasinan, along with a claim for damages against the
Spouses Romualdo and Felisa Lastimosa.

The RTC declared the Heirs of Nivera the absolute owners of the parcels of land in
question, and thereby ordering the Heirs of Lastimosa to vacate the lands and to
surrender possession thereof. This became final and executory.Felicitas Salazar,
daughter of Romualdo, filed a Petition for Annulment of Judgment dated with the CA
claiming that she was deprived of due process when she was not impleaded in the case
for Recovery of Ownership.

The CA dismissed the Petition for Annulment of Judgment due to the fault of the Heirs of
Lastimosa for neglecting to include petitioner in their Motion to Substitute.

The Heirs of Lastimosa then filed with the RTC an Urgent Motion to order the sheriff to
desist from making demolition, grounded on the allegation that petitioner had an aliquot
share over the property, which had not yet been partitioned. This was denied and a Motion
for Execution and Demolition, filed by the heirs of Nivera, was granted by the RTC.

The heirs of Lastimosa filed an appeal with the CA, but it was dismissed. Hence, this
petition for review on certiorari.

Whether or not the subject property is considered as a family home and therefore
should be exempt from execution.

The petition is bereft of merit

As an heir of the original defendants in the action for recovery of ownership, petitioner is
bound by the decision rendered against her predecessors-in-interest. Thus, there is
nothing that exempts her from the enforcement of the Writ of Execution.

The family home is a real right which is gratuitous, inalienable and free from attachment,
constituted over the dwelling place and the land on which it is situated. It confers upon a
particular family the right to enjoy such properties. It cannot be seized by creditors except
in certain special cases. However, the claim that the property is exempt from execution
for being the movant's family home is not a magic wand that will freeze the court's hand
and forestall the execution of a final and executory ruling.

Petitioner cannot conveniently claim that the subject property is her family home, sans
sufficient evidence proving her allegation. She adduced no proof to substantiate her claim
that the property sought to be executed is indeed her family home. Petitioner admitted in
her Motion for Reconsideration, and her Petition for Annulment of Judgment that she is,
and has always been a resident of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, not in Pangasinan.

Moreover, the property has belonged to the Heirs of Nivera since the 1950s. This
automatically negates Felicitas' claim that the property is her family home.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of

merit. Accordingly, the Decision dated December 6, 2013 and Resolution dated
August 7, 2014, rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 97309 are
AFFIRMED in toto.
G.R. No. 190995 | August 9, 2017 | TIJAM | DIVISION


This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45, assailing the Decision
dated September 22, 2009 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 89611,
affirming the Decision dated February 16, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Tabaco City, Branch 15, in Civil Case No. T-1693.


Respondent Virginia Dy Aramburo (Virginia) is Corazon Aramburo Ko's (Corazon) sister-

in-law, the former being the wife of the latter's brother, Simeon Aramburo (Simeon).
Corazon and Simeon have another sibling, Augusto Aramburo (Augusto), who
predeceased them. Virginia's co- respondents herein are the heirs of Augusto, while the
petitioners in the instant case are the heirs of Corazon who substituted the latter after she
died while the case was pending before the CA.

On November 26, 1993, Virginia, together with her co-respondents herein, filed a
Complaint for Recovery of Ownership with Declaration of Nullity and/or Alternatively
Reconveyance and Damages with Preliminary Injunction against Corazon. Subject of this
case are seven parcels of land in Tabaco City, Albay.

The complaint alleged that Virginia and her husband Simeon, together with Corazon and
her husband Felix, acquired the subject properties from Spouses Eusebio and Epifania
Casaul through a Deed of Cession dated April 10, 1970.

On April 13, 1970, Spouses Simeon and Virginia and Spouses Felix and Corazon
executed a Deed of Cession in favor of Augusto's heirs, subject of which is the one-third
pro-indiviso portion of the subject properties.

For her part, Corazon admitted having acquired the subject properties through cession
from their uncle and auntie, Spouses Eusebio and Epifania. She, however, intimated that
although the said properties were previously registered under Spouses Eusebio and
Epifania's name, the same were, in truth, owned by their parents, Spouses Juan and
Juliana Aramburo (Spouses Juan and Juliana). Hence, when her parents died, Spouses
Eusebio and Epifania allegedly merely returned the said properties to Spouses Juan and
Juliana by ceding the same to their children, Corazon and Simeon. She further averred
that the said properties were ceded only to her and Simeon, in that, her husband Felix's
name and Virginia's name appearing in the Deed were merely descriptive of her and
Simeon's civil status, being married to Felix and Virginia, respectively.

Corazon alleged that she and Simeon thought of sharing a third of the subject properties
with the heirs of their brother Augusto who predeceased them, hence they executed a
Deed of Cession on April 13, 1970 but later on decided to recall and not implement the
same. In fine, thus, Corazon insisted that only she and Simeon share one-half portion
each of the subject properties.

Corazon further alleged that on December 14, 1974, Simeon sold and conveyed his entire
one-half share in the co-owned properties in her favor. Hence, Corazon became the sole
owner thereof and consequently, was able to transfer the titles of the same to her name.
Corazon argued that the subject properties belong to Simeon's exclusive property, hence,
Virginia's conformity to such sale was not necessary.

The RTC decided in favor of respondents. Upon appeal, it was affirmed by the CA.


Whether or not Simeon could have validly sold the one-third share of Augusto's
heirs, as well as the one-third portion of his and Virginia's conjugal share without the
latter's consent, to Corazon.


As for the one-third portion of the subject properties pertaining to Augusto's heirs, We are
one with the CA in ruling that the Deed of Absolute Sale is void as the said portion is
owned by Augusto's heirs as above-discussed and thus, Simeon had no right to sell the
same. It is basic that the object of a valid sales contract must be owned by the seller.
Nemo dat quod non habet, as an ancient Latin maxim says. One cannot give what one
does not have.

The one-third portion commonly-owned by Spouses Simeon and Virginia, Simeon's

alienation of the same through sale without Virginia's conformity is merely voidable.
Article 166 of the Old Civil Code explicitly requires the consent of the wife before the
husband may alienate or encumber any real property of the conjugal partnership except
when there is a showing that the wife is incapacitated, under civil interdiction, or in like
In this case, Virginia vehemently denies having conformed to the December 14, 1974
sale in favor of Corazon. In fact, during trial, it has already been satisfactorily proven,
through the NBI's findings as upheld by the trial court, that Virginia's signature appearing
on the said Deed of Absolute Sale is a forgery. Concedingly, a finding of forgery does not
depend entirely on the testimonies of handwriting experts as even this Court may conduct
an independent examination of the questioned signature in order to arrive at a reasonable
conclusion as to its authenticity. We, however, do not have any means to evaluate the
questioned signature in this case as even the questioned Deed of Absolute Sale is not
available in the records before Us.

The CA also correctly observed that the forgery, as found by the RTC, is evident from the
admitted fact of strained marital relationship between Simeon and Virginia and the fact
that at the time the question Deed of Absolute Sale was executed, Simeon had been
living with Corazon in Tabaco City, Albay, while Virginia and her children were living in
Paco, Manila. Accordingly, without Virginia's conformity, the Deed of Absolute Sale
executed on December 14, 1974 between Simeon and Corazon purportedly covering
one-half of the subject properties is voidable.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The

Decision dated September 22, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
89611, affirming the Decision dated February 16, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court
of Tabaco City, Branch 15, in Civil Case No. T-1693 is hereby AFFIRMED in all
aspects EXCEPT insofar as it ordered the cancellation of the titles of the entire
subject properties.

Accordingly, petitioners Heirs of Corazon Aramburo Ko, respondents Virginia Dy

Aramburo and all persons claiming under her, as Heirs of Simeon Aramburo, and
respondents Heirs of Augusto Aramburo are deemed co-owners pro-indiviso of the
subject properties in equal one-third (1/3) share. As such, the titles over the subject
properties are ORDERED cancelled insofar as the heirs of Augusto Aramburo's
share is concerned. Virginia Dy Aramburo and all persons claiming under her have
the right to demand for the value of their one-third (1/3) share in a proper case. SO


This is a direct recourse to the Court from the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
105 (RTC), through a petition for review on certiorari1 assailing the Decision dated July
18, 2016 of the RTC in SP. PROC. NO. Q-12-71830 which denied petitioner Luzviminda
Dela Cruz Morisono's (Luzviminda) petition before it.


Luzviminda was married to private respondent Ryoji fvforisono (Ryoji) in Quezon City on
December 8, 2009. Thereafter, they lived together in Japan for one (1) year and three (3)
months but were not blessed with a child. During their married life, they would constantly
quarrel mainly due to Ryoji's philandering ways, in addition to the fact that he was much
older than Luzviminda.

As such, she and Ryoji submitted a "Divorce by Agreement" before the City Hall of
Mizuho-Ku, Nagoya City, Japan, which was eventually approved on January 17, 2012
and duly recorded with the Head of Mizuho-Ku, Nagoya City, Japan on July 1, 2012. In
view of the foregoing, she filed a petition for recognition of the foreign divorce decree
obtained by her and Ryoji before the RTC so that she could cancel the surname of her
former husband in her passport and for her to be able to marry again.

After complying with the jurisdictional requirements, the RTC set the case for hearing.
Since nobody appeared to oppose her petition except the government, Luzviminda was
allowed to present her evidence ex-parte. After the presentation and absent any objection
from the Public Prosecutor, Luzviminda's formal offer of evidence was admitted as proof
of compliance with the jurisdictional requirements, and as part of the testimony of the

The RTC however, in a Decision dated July 18, 2016, denied Luzviminda's petition. It
held that while a divorce obtained abroad by an alien spouse may be recognized in the
Philippines -provided that such decree is valid according to the national law of the alien -
the same does not find application when it was the Filipino spouse, i.e., petitioner, who
procured the same. Invoking the nationality principle provided under Article 15 of the Civil
Code, in relation to Article 26 (2) of the Family Code, the RTC opined that since petitioner
is a Filipino citizen whose national laws do not allow divorce, the foreign divorce decree
she herself obtained in Japan is not binding in the Philippines.

Hence, this petition.


Whether or not the RTC correctly denied Luzviminda's petition for recognition of
the foreign divorce decree she procured with Ryoji


The petition is partly meritorious.

The rules on divorce prevailing in this jurisdiction can be summed up as follows: first,
Philippine laws do not provide for absolute divorce, and hence, the courts cannot grant
the same; second, consistent with Articles 15 and 17 of the Civil Code, the marital bond
between two (2) Filipino citizens cannot be dissolved even by an absolute divorce
obtained abroad; third, an absolute divorce obtained abroad by a couple, who are both
aliens, may be recognized in the Philippines, provided it is consistent with their respective
national laws; and fourth, in mixed marriages involving a Filipino and a foreigner, the
former is allowed to contract a subsequent marriage in case the absolute divorce is validly
obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.

The fourth rule, which has been invoked by Luzviminda in this case, is encapsulated iH
Article 26 (2) of the Family Code which reads:

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated

and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating
him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry
under Philippine law.

According to Republic v. Orbecido III, the following elements must concur in order for
Article 26 (2) to apply, namely: (a) that there is a valid marriage celebrated between a
Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and ( b) that a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.

In the same case, the Court also initially clarified that Article 26 (2) applies not only to
cases where a foreigner was the one who procured a divorce of his/her marriage to a
Filipino spouse, but also to instances where, at the time of the celebration of the marriage,
the parties were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them acquired foreign citizenship by
naturalization, initiated a divorce proceeding, and obtained a favorable decree.

However, in the recent case of Republic v. Manalo (Manalo), the Court En Banc extended
the application of Article 26 (2) of the Family Code to further cover mixed marriages where
it was the Filipino citizen who divorced his/her foreign spouse. Pertinent portions of the
ruling read:

Now, the Court is tasked to resolve whether, under the same provision, a Filipino
citizen has the capacity to remarry under Philippine law after initiating a divorce
proceeding abroad and obtaining a favorable judgment against his or her alien
spouse who is capacitated to remarry.

Thus, pursuant to Manalo, foreign divorce decrees obtained to nullify marriages between
a Filipino and an alien citizen may already be recognized in this jurisdiction, regardless of
who between the spouses initiated the divorce; provided, of course, that the party
petitioning for the recognition of such foreign divorce decree - presumably the Filipino --
must prove the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing

In this case, a plain reading of the RTC ruling shows that the denial of Luzviminda's
petition to have her foreign divorce decree recognized in this jurisdiction was anchored
on the sole ground that she admittedly initiated the divorce proceedings which she, as a
Filipino citizen, was not allowed to do. In light of the doctrine laid down in Manalo, such
ground relied upon by the RTC had been rendered nugatory. However, the Court cannot
just order the grant of Luzviminda’s petition for recognition of the foreign divorce decree,
as Luzviminda has yet to prove the fact of her Divorce by Agreement obtained in Nagoya
City, Japan and its conformity with prevailing Japanese laws on divorce. Notably, the RTC
did not rule on such issues. Since these are questions which require an examination of
various factual matters, a remand to the court a quo is warranted.

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision dated July 18, 2016
of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 105 in SP. PROC. NO. Q-12-
71830 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the instant case is
REMANDED to the court a quo for further proceedings, as directed in this Decision.