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Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-69866 April 15, 1988
ROGELIO ABERCA, RODOLFO BENOSA, NESTOR BODINO NOEL ETABAG DANILO DE LA FUENTE,
BELEN DIAZ-FLORES, MANUEL MARIO GUZMAN, ALAN JAZMINEZ, EDWIN LOPEZ, ALFREDO
MANSOS, ALEX MARCELINO, ELIZABETH PROTACIO-MARCELINO, JOSEPH OLAYER, CARLOS
PALMA, MARCO PALO, ROLANDO SALUTIN, BENJAMIN SESGUNDO, ARTURO TABARA, EDWIN
TULALIAN and REBECCA TULALIAN petitioners, vs.MAJ. GEN. FABIAN VER, COL. FIDEL SINGSON,
COL. ROLANDO ABADILLA, COL. GERARDO B. LANTORIA, COL. GALILEO KINTANAR, 1ST LT. COL.
PANFILO M. LACSON, MAJ. RODOLFO AGUINALDO, CAPT. DANILO PIZARRO, 1ST LT. PEDRO TANGO,
1ST LT. ROMEO RICARDO, 1ST LT. RAUL BACALSO, MSGT BIENVENIDO BALABA and REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch XCV (95), Quezon City, respondents.
YAP, J.:
This petition for certiorari presents vital issues not heretofore passed upon by this Court. It poses the question
whether the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus bars a civil action for damages for illegal
searches conducted by military personnel and other violations of rights and liberties guaranteed under the
Constitution. If such action for damages may be maintained, who can be held liable for such violations: only the
military personnel directly involved and/or their superiors as well.
This case stems from alleged illegal searches and seizures and other violations of the rights and liberties of
plaintiffs by various intelligence units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, known as Task Force Makabansa
(TFM) ordered by General Fabian Ver "to conduct pre-emptive strikes against known communist-terrorist (CT)
underground houses in view of increasing reports about CT plans to sow disturbances in Metro Manila,"
Plaintiffs allege, among others, that complying with said order, elements of the TFM raided several places,
employing in most cases defectively issued judicial search warrants; that during these raids, certain members
of the raiding party confiscated a number of purely personal items belonging to plaintiffs; that plaintiffs were
arrested without proper warrants issued by the courts; that for some period after their arrest, they were denied
visits of relatives and lawyers; that plaintiffs were interrogated in violation of their rights to silence and counsel;
that military men who interrogated them employed threats, tortures and other forms of violence on them in
order to obtain incriminatory information or confessions and in order to punish them; that all violations of
plaintiffs constitutional rights were part of a concerted and deliberate plan to forcibly extract information and
incriminatory statements from plaintiffs and to terrorize, harass and punish them, said plans being previously
known to and sanctioned by defendants.
Plaintiffs sought actual/compensatory damages amounting to P39,030.00; moral damages in the amount of at
least P150,000.00 each or a total of P3,000,000.00; exemplary damages in the amount of at least P150,000.00
each or a total of P3,000,000.00; and attorney's fees amounting to not less than P200,000.00.
A motion to dismiss was filed by defendants, through their counsel, then Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza,
alleging that (1) plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry into the circumstances of their detention in the guise
of a damage suit because, as to them, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended; (2) assuming
that the courts can entertain the present action, defendants are immune from liability for acts done in the
performance of their official duties; and (3) the complaint states no cause of action against the defendants.
Opposition to said motion to dismiss was filed by plaintiffs Marco Palo, Danilo de la Fuente, Benjamin
Sesgundo, Nel Etabag, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin on July 8, 1983, and by plaintiffs Edwin Lopez,
Manuel Mario Guzman, Alan Jasminez, Nestor Bodino, Carlos Palma, Arturo Tabara, Joseph Olayer, Rodolfo
Benosa, Belen Diaz, Flores, Rogelio Aberca, Alex Marcelino and Elizabeth Marcelino on July 21, 1983. On
November 7, 1983, a Consolidated Reply was filed by defendants' counsel.
Then, on November 8, 1983, the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region, Branch 95, Judge Willelmo C.
Fortun, Presiding, 1 issued a resolution granting the motion to dismiss. I sustained, lock, stock and barrel, the
defendants' contention (1) the plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry into the circumstances of their
detention in the guise of a damage suit because, as to them, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is
suspended; (2) that assuming that the court can entertain the present action, defendants are immune from
liability for acts done in the performance of their official duties; and (3) that the complaint states no cause of
action against defendants, since there is no allegation that the defendants named in the complaint confiscated
plaintiffs' purely personal properties in violation of their constitutional rights, and with the possible exception of
Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Sergeant Bienvenido Balabo committed acts of torture and maltreatment, or that
the defendants had the duty to exercise direct supervision and control of their subordinates or that they had
vicarious liability as employers under Article 2180 of the Civil Code. The lower court stated, "After a careful
study of defendants' arguments, the court finds the same to be meritorious and must, therefore, be granted. On
the other hand, plaintiffs' arguments in their opposition are lacking in merit."

A motion to set aside the order dismissing the complaint and a supplemental motion for reconsideration was
filed by the plaintiffs on November 18, 1983, and November 24, 1983, respectively. On December 9, 1983, the
defendants filed a comment on the aforesaid motion of plaintiffs, furnishing a copy thereof to the attorneys of
all the plaintiffs, namely, Attys. Jose W. Diokno, Procopio Beltran, Rene Sarmiento, Efren Mercado, Auguso
Sanchez, Antonio L. Rosales, Pedro B. Ella Jr., Arno V. Sanidad, Alexander Padilla, Joker Arroyo, Rene
Saguisag, Ramon Esguerra and Felicitas Aquino.
On December 15, 1983, Judge Fortun issued an order voluntarily inhibiting himself from further proceeding in
the case and leaving the resolution of the motion to set aside the order of dismissal to Judge Lising, "to
preclude any suspicion that he (Judge Fortun) cannot resolve [the] aforesaid pending motion with the cold
neutrality of an impartial judge and to put an end to plaintiffs assertion that the undersigned has no authority or
jurisdiction to resolve said pending motion." This order prompted plaintiffs to reesolve an amplificatory motion
for reconsideration signed in the name of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) of Mabini Legal Aid
Committee, by Attys. Joker P. Arroyo, Felicitas Aquino and Arno Sanidad on April 12, 1984. On May 2,1984, the
defendants filed a comment on said amplificatory motion for reconsideration.
In an order dated May 11, 1984, the trial court, Judge Esteban Lising, Presiding, without acting on the motion
to set aside order of November 8, 1983, issued an order, as follows:
It appearing from the records that, indeed, the following plaintiffs, Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente and
Marco Palo, represented by counsel, Atty. Jose W. Diokno, Alan Jasminez represented by counsel, Atty.
Augusta Sanchez, Spouses Alex Marcelino and Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, represented by counsel, Atty.
Procopio Beltran, Alfredo Mansos represented by counsel, Atty. Rene Sarmiento, and Rolando Salutin,
represented by counsel, Atty. Efren Mercado, failed to file a motion to reconsider the Order of November 8,
1983, dismissing the complaint, nor interposed an appeal therefrom within the reglementary period, as prayed
for by the defendants, said Order is now final against said plaintiffs.
Assailing the said order of May 11, 1984, the plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration on May 28,1984,
alleging that it was not true that plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente, Marco Palo, Alan Jasminez,
Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin failed to file a motion to
reconsider the order of November 8, 1983 dismissing the complaint, within the reglementary period. Plaintiffs
claimed that the motion to set aside the order of November 8, 1983 and the amplificatory motion for
reconsideration was filed for all the plaintiffs, although signed by only some of the lawyers.
In its resolution of September 21, 1984, the respondent court dealt with both motions (1) to reconsider its order
of May 11, 1984 declaring that with respect to certain plaintiffs, the resolution of November 8, 1983 had already
become final, and (2) to set aside its resolution of November 8, 1983 granting the defendants' motion to
dismiss. In the dispositive portion of the order of September 21, 1984, the respondent court resolved:
(1) That the motion to set aside the order of finality, dated May 11, 1984, of the Resolution of dismissal of the
complaint of plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente, Marco Palo, Alan Jasminez Alex Marcelino,
Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin is deed for lack of merit;
(2) For lack of cause of action as against the following defendants, to wit:
1. Gen Fabian Ver
2. Col. Fidel Singson
3. Col. Rolando Abadilla
4. Lt. Col. Conrado Lantoria, Jr.
5. Col. Galileo Montanar
6. Col. Panfilo Lacson
7. Capt. Danilo Pizaro
8. 1 Lt Pedro Tango
9. Lt. Romeo Ricardo
10. Lt. Raul Bacalso
the motion to set aside and reconsider the Resolution of dismissal of the present action or complaint, dated

November 8, 1983, is also denied but in so far as it affects and refers to defendants, to wit:
1. Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo, and
2. Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba
the motion to reconsider and set aside the Resolution of dismissal dated November 3, 1983 is granted and the
Resolution of dismissal is, in this respect, reconsidered and modified.
Hence, petitioners filed the instant petition for certiorari on March 15, 1985 seeking to annul and set aside the
respondent court's resolution of November 8, 1983, its order of May 11, 1984, and its resolution dated
September 21, 1984. Respondents were required to comment on the petition, which it did on November 9,
1985. A reply was filed by petitioners on August 26, 1986.
We find the petition meritorious and decide to give it due course.
At the heart of petitioners' complaint is Article 32 of the Civil Code which provides:
ART. 32. Any public officer or employee, or any private individual who directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats,
violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the following rights and liberties of another person shall be
liable to the latter for damages:
(1) Freedom of religion;
(2) Freedom of speech;
(3) Freedom to write for the press or to maintain a periodical publication;
(4) Freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention;
(5) Freedom of suffrage;
(6) The right against deprivation of property without due process
(7) of law;
(8) The right to a just compensation when private property is taken for public use;
(9) The right to the equal protection of the laws;
(10) The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures;
(11) The liberty of abode and of changing the same;
(12) The privacy of cmmunication and correspondence;
(13) The right to become a member of associations or societies for purposes not contrary to law;
(14) The right to take part in a peaceable assembly to petition the Government for redress of grievances;
(15) The right to be free from involuntary servitude in any form;
(16) The rigth of the accused against excessive bail;
(17) The rigth of the aaccused to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of
the accusation against him, to have a speedy and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have
compulsory process to secure the attendance of witness in behalf;
(18) Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against ones self, or from being forced to confess guilt, or
from being induced by a promise of immunity or reward to make such confession, except when the person
confessing becomes a State witness;
(19) Freedom from excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment, unless the same is imposed or inflicted in
accordance with a statute which has not been judicially declared unconstitutional; and

(20) Freedom of access to the courts.
In any of the cases referred to in this article, whether or not the defendant's act or omission constitutes a
criminal offense, the against grieved party has a right to commence an entirely separate and distinct civil action
for damages, and for other relief. Such civil action shall proceed independently of any criminal prosecution (if
the latter be instituted), and may be proved by a preponderance of evidence.
The indemnity shall include moral damages. Exemplary damages may also be adjudicated.
The responsibility herein set forth is not demandable from a judge unless his act or omission constitutes a
violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.
It is obvious that the purpose of the above codal provision is to provide a sanction to the deeply cherished
rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. Its message is clear; no man may seek to violate those
sacred rights with impunity. In times of great upheaval or of social and political stress, when the temptation is
strongest to yield — borrowing the words of Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee — to the law of force rather than
the force of law, it is necessary to remind ourselves that certain basic rights and liberties are immutable and
cannot be sacrificed to the transient needs or imperious demands of the ruling power. The rule of law must
prevail, or else liberty will perish. Our commitment to democratic principles and to the rule of law compels us to
reject the view which reduces law to nothing but the expression of the will of the predominant power in the
community. "Democracy cannot be a reign of progress, of liberty, of justice, unless the law is respected by him
who makes it and by him for whom it is made. Now this respect implies a maximum of faith, a minimum of
Idealism. On going to the bottom of the matter, we discover that life demands of us a certain residuum of
sentiment which is not derived from reason, but which reason nevertheless controls. 2
Seeking to justify the dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint, the respondents postulate the view that as public officers
they are covered by the mantle of state immunity from suit for acts done in the performance of official duties or
function In support of said contention, respondents maintain that —
Respondents are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Their primary duty is to safeguard public
safety and order. The Constitution no less provides that the President may call them "to prevent or supress
lawless violence, invasion, insurrection or rebellion, or imminent danger thereof." (Constitution, Article VII,
Section 9).
On January 17, 1981, the President issued Proclamation No. 2045 lifting martial law but providing for the
continued suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in view of the remaining dangers to the
security of the nation. The proclamation also provided "that the call to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to
prevent or suppress lawless violence, insuitection rebellion and subversion shall continue to be in force and
effect."
Petitioners allege in their complaint that their causes of action proceed from respondent General Ver's order to
Task Force Makabansa to launch pre-emptive strikes against communist terrorist underground houses in Metro
Manila. Petitioners claim that this order and its subsequent implementation by elements of the task force
resulted in the violation of their constitutional rights against unlawful searches, seizures and arrest, rights to
counsel and to silence, and the right to property and that, therefore, respondents Ver and the named members
of the task force should be held liable for damages.
But, by launching a pre-emptive strike against communist terrorists, respondent members of the armed forces
merely performed their official and constitutional duties. To allow petitioners to recover from respondents by
way of damages for acts performed in the exercise of such duties run contrary to the policy considerations to
shield respondents as public officers from undue interference with their duties and from potentially disabling
threats of hability (Aarlon v. Fitzgerald 102 S. Ct. 2731-1 Forbes v. Chuoco Tiaco, 16 Phil. 634), and upon the
necessity of protecting the performance of governmental and public functions from being harassed unduly or
constantly interrupted by private suits (McCallan v. State, 35 Cal. App. 605; Metran v. Paredes, 79 Phil. 819).
xxx xxx xxx
The immunity of public officers from liability arising from the performance of their duties is now a settled
jurisprudence Alzua v. Johnson, 21 Phil. 308; Zulueta v. Nicolas, 102 Phil. 944; Spalding v. Vilas, 161 US 483;
40 L. Ed. 780, 16 S. Ct. 631; Barr v. Mateo, 360; Butz v. Economon, 438 US 478; 57 L. Ed. 2d 895, 98 S. Ct.
2894; Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 US 232; Forbes v. Chuoco Tiaco, supra; Miller v. de Leune, 602 F. 2d 198; Sami
v. US, 617 F. 2d 755).
Respondents-defendants who merely obeyed the lawful orders of the President and his call for the suppression
of the rebellion involving petitioners enjoy such immunity from Suit. 3

We find respondents' invocation of the doctrine of state immunity from suit totally misplaced. The cases
invoked by respondents actually involved acts done by officers in the performance of official duties written the
ambit of their powers. As held in Forbes, etc. vs. Chuoco Tiaco and Crossfield: 4
No one can be held legally responsible in damages or otherwise for doing in a legal manner what he had
authority, under the law, to do. Therefore, if the Governor-General had authority, under the law to deport or
expel the defendants, and circumstances justifying the deportation and the method of carrying it out are left to
him, then he cannot be held liable in damages for the exercise of this power. Moreover, if the courts are without
authority to interfere in any manner, for the purpose of controlling or interferring with the exercise of the political
powers vested in the chief executive authority of the Government, then it must follow that the courts cannot
intervene for the purpose of declaring that he is liable in damages for the exeercise of this authority.
It may be that the respondents, as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, were merely responding to
their duty, as they claim, "to prevent or suppress lawless violence, insurrection, rebellion and subversion" in
accordance with Proclamation No. 2054 of President Marcos, despite the lifting of martial law on January 27,
1981, and in pursuance of such objective, to launch pre- emptive strikes against alleged communist terrorist
underground houses. But this cannot be construed as a blanket license or a roving commission untramelled by
any constitutional restraint, to disregard or transgress upon the rights and liberties of the individual citizen
enshrined in and protected by the Constitution. The Constitution remains the supreme law of the land to which
all officials, high or low, civilian or military, owe obedience and allegiance at all times.
Article 32 of the Civil Code which renders any public officer or employee or any private individual liable in
damages for violating the Constitutional rights and liberties of another, as enumerated therein, does not
exempt the respondents from responsibility. Only judges are excluded from liability under the said article,
provided their acts or omissions do not constitute a violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.
This is not to say that military authorities are restrained from pursuing their assigned task or carrying out their
mission with vigor. We have no quarrel with their duty to protect the Republic from its enemies, whether of the
left or of the right, or from within or without, seeking to destroy or subvert our democratic institutions and
imperil their very existence. What we are merely trying to say is that in carrying out this task and mission,
constitutional and legal safeguards must be observed, otherwise, the very fabric of our faith will start to
unravel. In the battle of competing Ideologies, the struggle for the mind is just as vital as the struggle of arms.
The linchpin in that psychological struggle is faith in the rule of law. Once that faith is lost or compromised, the
struggle may well be abandoned.
We do not find merit in respondents' suggestion that plaintiffs' cause of action is barred by the suspension of
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Respondents contend that "Petitioners cannot circumvent the
suspension of the privilege of the writ by resorting to a damage suit aimed at the same purpose-judicial inquiry
into the alleged illegality of their detention. While the main relief they ask by the present action is
indemnification for alleged damages they suffered, their causes of action are inextricably based on the same
claim of violations of their constitutional rights that they invoked in the habeas corpus case as grounds for
release from detention. Were the petitioners allowed the present suit, the judicial inquiry barred by the
suspension of the privilege of the writ will take place. The net result is that what the courts cannot do, i.e.
override the suspension ordered by the President, petitioners will be able to do by the mere expedient of
altering the title of their action."
We do not agree. We find merit in petitioners' contention that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus does not destroy petitioners' right and cause of action for damages for illegal arrest and
detention and other violations of their constitutional rights. The suspension does not render valid an otherwise
illegal arrest or detention. What is suspended is merely the right of the individual to seek release from
detention through the writ of habeas corpus as a speedy means of obtaining his liberty.
Moreover, as pointed out by petitioners, their right and cause of action for damages are explicitly recognized in
P.D. No. 1755 which amended Article 1146 of the Civil Code by adding the following to its text:
However, when the action (for injury to the rights of the plaintiff or for a quasi-delict) arises from or out of any
act, activity or conduct of any public officer involving the exercise of powers or authority arising from Martial
Law including the arrest, detention and/or trial of the plaintiff, the same must be brought within one (1) year.
Petitioners have a point in contending that even assuming that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus suspends petitioners' right of action for damages for illegal arrest and detention, it does not and
cannot suspend their rights and causes of action for injuries suffered because of respondents' confiscation of
their private belongings, the violation of their right to remain silent and to counsel and their right to protection
against unreasonable searches and seizures and against torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment.
However, we find it unnecessary to address the constitutional issue pressed upon us. On March 25, 1986,
President Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 2, revoking Proclamation Nos. 2045 and 2045-A and

lifting the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The question therefore has become moot
and academic.
This brings us to the crucial issue raised in this petition. May a superior officer under the notion of respondent
superior be answerable for damages, jointly and severally with his subordinates, to the person whose
constitutional rights and liberties have been violated?
Respondents contend that the doctrine of respondent superior is applicable to the case. We agree. The
doctrine of respondent superior has been generally limited in its application to principal and agent or to master
and servant (i.e. employer and employee) relationship. No such relationship exists between superior officers of
the military and their subordinates.
Be that as it may, however, the decisive factor in this case, in our view, is the language of Article 32. The law
speaks of an officer or employee or person 'directly' or "indirectly" responsible for the violation of the
constitutional rights and liberties of another. Thus, it is not the actor alone (i.e. the one directly responsible)
who must answer for damages under Article 32; the person indirectly responsible has also to answer for the
damages or injury caused to the aggrieved party.
By this provision, the principle of accountability of public officials under the Constitution 5 acquires added
meaning and asgilrnes a larger dimension. No longer may a superior official relax his vigilance or abdicate his
duty to supervise his subordinates, secure in the thought that he does not have to answer for the
transgressions committed by the latter against the constitutionally protected rights and liberties of the citizen.
Part of the factors that propelled people power in February 1986 was the widely held perception that the
government was callous or indifferent to, if not actually responsible for, the rampant violations of human rights.
While it would certainly be go naive to expect that violators of human rights would easily be deterred by the
prospect of facing damage suits, it should nonetheless be made clear in no ones terms that Article 32 of the
Civil Code makes the persons who are directly, as well as indirectly, responsible for the transgression joint
tortfeasors.
In the case at bar, the trial court dropped defendants General Fabian Ver, Col. Fidel Singson, Col. Rolando
Abadilla, Col. Gerardo Lantoria, Jr., Col. Galileo Kintanar, Col. Panfilo Lacson, Capt. Danilo Pizarro, lst Lt.
Pedro Tango, Lt. Romeo Ricardo and Lt. Ricardo Bacalso from the acts of their subordinates. Only Major
Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba were kept as defendants on the ground that they alone
'have been specifically mentioned and Identified to have allegedly caused injuries on the persons of some of
the plaintiff which acts of alleged physical violence constitute a delict or wrong that gave rise to a cause of
action. But such finding is not supported by the record, nor is it in accord with law and jurisprudence.
Firstly, it is wrong to at the plaintiffs' action for damages 5 Section 1, Article 19. to 'acts of alleged physical
violence" which constituted delict or wrong. Article 32 clearly specifies as actionable the act of violating or in
any manner impeding or impairing any of the constitutional rights and liberties enumerated therein, among
others —
1. Freedom from arbitrary arrest or illegal detention;
2. The right against deprivation of property without due process of law;
3. The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures;
4. The privacy of communication and correspondence;
5. Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against one's self, or from being forced to confess guilt, or
from being induced by a promise of immunity or reward to make a confession, except when the person
confessing becomes a state witness.
The complaint in this litigation alleges facts showing with abundant clarity and details, how plaintiffs'
constitutional rights and liberties mentioned in Article 32 of the Civil Code were violated and impaired by
defendants. The complaint speaks of, among others, searches made without search warrants or based on
irregularly issued or substantially defective warrants; seizures and confiscation, without proper receipts, of
cash and personal effects belonging to plaintiffs and other items of property which were not subversive and
illegal nor covered by the search warrants; arrest and detention of plaintiffs without warrant or under irregular,
improper and illegal circumstances; detention of plaintiffs at several undisclosed places of 'safehouses" where
they were kept incommunicado and subjected to physical and psychological torture and other inhuman,
degrading and brutal treatment for the purpose of extracting incriminatory statements. The complaint contains
a detailed recital of abuses perpetrated upon the plaintiffs violative of their constitutional rights.

Secondly, neither can it be said that only those shown to have participated "directly" should be held liable.
Article 32 of the Civil Code encompasses within the ambit of its provisions those directly, as well as indirectly,
responsible for its violation.
The responsibility of the defendants, whether direct or indirect, is amply set forth in the complaint. It is well
established in our law and jurisprudence that a motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint states no
cause of action must be based on what appears on the face of the complaint. 6 To determine the sufficiency of
the cause of action, only the facts alleged in the complaint, and no others, should be considered. 7 For this
purpose, the motion to dismiss must hypothetically admit the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint. 8
Applying this test, it is difficult to justify the trial court's ruling, dismissing for lack of cause of action the
complaint against all the defendants, except Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba. The
complaint contained allegations against all the defendants which, if admitted hypothetically, would be sufficient
to establish a cause or causes of action against all of them under Article 32 of the Civil Code.
This brings us to the last issue. Was the trial court correct in dismissing the complaint with respect to plaintiffs
Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Puente, Marco Palo, Alan Jazminez, Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth ProtacioMarcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin, on the basis of the alleged failure of said plaintiffs to file a
motion for reconsideration of the court's resolution of November 8, 1983, granting the respondent's motion to
dismiss?
It is undisputed that a timely motion to set aside said order of November 8, 1983 was filed by 'plaintiffs, through
counsel. True, the motion was signed only by Atty. Joker P. Arroyo, counsel for Benjamin Sesgulido; Atty.
Antonio Rosales, counsel for Edwin Lopez and Manuel Martin Guzman; Atty. Pedro B. Ella, Jr., counsel for
Nestor Bodino and Carlos Palma; Atty. Arno V. Sanidad, counsel for Arturo Tabara; Atty. Felicitas S. Aquino,
counsel for Joseph Olayer; and Atty. Alexander Padilla, counsel for Rodolfo Benosa.
But the body of the motion itself clearly indicated that the motion was filed on behalf of all the plaintiffs. And this
must have been also the understanding of defendants' counsel himself for when he filed his comment on the
motion, he furnished copies thereof, not just to the lawyers who signed the motion, but to all the lawyers of
plaintiffs, to wit: Attys. Jose Diokno, Procopio Beltran, Rene Sarmiento, Efren Mercado, Augusto Sanchez,
Antonio Rosales, Pedro Efla Jr., Arno Sanidad, Alexander Padilla, Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Ramon
Esguerra and Felicitas S. Aquino.
In filing the motion to set aside the resolution of November 8, 1983, the signing attorneys did so on behalf of all
the plaintiff. They needed no specific authority to do that. The authority of an attorney to appear for and in
behalf of a party can be assumed, unless questioned or challenged by the adverse party or the party
concerned, which was never done in this case. Thus, it was grave abuse on the part of respondent judge to
take it upon himself to rule that the motion to set aside the order of November 8, 1953 dismissing the complaint
was filed only by some of the plaintiffs, when by its very language it was clearly intended to be filed by and for
the benefit of all of them. It is obvious that the respondent judge took umbrage under a contrived technicality to
declare that the dismissal of the complaint had already become final with respect to some of the plaintiffs
whose lawyers did not sign the motion for reconsideration. Such action tainted with legal infirmity cannot be
sanctioned.
Accordingly, we grant the petition and annul and set aside the resolution of the respondent court, dated
November 8, 1983, its order dated May 11, 1984 and its resolution dated September 21, 1984. Let the case be
remanded to the respondent court for further proceedings. With costs against private respondents.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes and GriñoAquino, JJ., concur.
Gutierrez, Jr., J., concur in the result.
Padilla, J., took no part.

Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 107383

February 20, 1996

CECILIA ZULUETA, petitioner, vs.COURT OF APPEALS and ALFREDO MARTIN, respondents.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals, affirming the decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Manila (Branch X) which ordered petitioner to return documents and papers taken by her from private
respondent's clinic without the latter's knowledge and consent.
The facts are as follows:
Petitioner Cecilia Zulueta is the wife of private respondent Alfredo Martin. On March 26, 1982, petitioner
entered the clinic of her husband, a doctor of medicine, and in the presence of her mother, a driver and private
respondent's secretary, forcibly opened the drawers and cabinet in her husband's clinic and took 157
documents consisting of private correspondence between Dr. Martin and his alleged paramours, greetings
cards, cancelled checks, diaries, Dr. Martin's passport, and photographs. The documents and papers were
seized for use in evidence in a case for legal separation and for disqualification from the practice of medicine
which petitioner had filed against her husband.
Dr. Martin brought this action below for recovery of the documents and papers and for damages against
petitioner. The case was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch X, which, after trial, rendered
judgment for private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, declaring him "the capital/exclusive owner of the properties
described in paragraph 3 of plaintiff's Complaint or those further described in the Motion to Return and
Suppress" and ordering Cecilia Zulueta and any person acting in her behalf to a immediately return the
properties to Dr. Martin and to pay him P5,000.00, as nominal damages; P5,000.00, as moral damages and
attorney's fees; and to pay the costs of the suit. The writ of preliminary injunction earlier issued was made final
and petitioner Cecilia Zulueta and her attorneys and representatives were enjoined from "using or
submitting/admitting as evidence" the documents and papers in question. On appeal, the Court of Appeals
affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court. Hence this petition.
There is no question that the documents and papers in question belong to private respondent, Dr. Alfredo
Martin, and that they were taken by his wife, the herein petitioner, without his knowledge and consent. For that
reason, the trial court declared the documents and papers to be properties of private respondent, ordered
petitioner to return them to private respondent and enjoined her from using them in evidence. In appealing
from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the trial court's decision, petitioner's only ground is that in
Alfredo Martin v. Alfonso Felix, Jr.,1 this Court ruled that the documents and papers (marked as Annexes A-1 to
J-7 of respondent's comment in that case) were admissible in evidence and, therefore, their use by petitioner's
attorney, Alfonso Felix did not constitute malpractice or gross misconduct, For this reason it is contended that
the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the decision of the trial court instead of dismissing private respondent's
complaint.
Petitioner's contention has no merit. The case against Atty. Felix, Jr. was for disbarment. Among other things,
private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, as complainant in that case, charged that in using the documents in
evidence, Atty. Felix, Jr. committed malpractice or gross misconduct because of the injunctive order of the trial
court. In dismissing the complaint against Atty. Felix, Jr., this Court took note of the following defense of Atty.
Felix; Jr. which it found to be "impressed with merit:"2
On the alleged malpractice or gross misconduct of respondent [Alfonso Felix, Jr.], he maintains that:
....
4. When respondent refiled Cecilia's case for legal separation before the Pasig Regional Trial Court, there was
admittedly an order of the Manila Regional Trial Court prohibiting Cecilia from using the documents Annex "A-1
to J-7." On September 6, 1983, however having appealed the said order to this Court on a petition for
certiorari, this Court issued a restraining order on aforesaid date which order temporarily set aside the order of
the trial court. Hence, during the enforceability of this Court's order, respondent's request for petitioner to admit
the genuineness and authenticity of the subject annexes cannot be looked upon as malpractice. Notably,
petitioner Dr. Martin finally admitted the truth and authenticity of the questioned annexes, At that point in time,
would it have been malpractice for respondent to use petitioner's admission as evidence against him in the
legal separation case pending in the Regional Trial Court of Makati? Respondent submits it is not malpractice.

Significantly, petitioner's admission was done not thru his counsel but by Dr. Martin himself under oath, Such
verified admission constitutes an affidavit, and, therefore, receivable in evidence against him. Petitioner
became bound by his admission. For Cecilia to avail herself of her husband's admission and use the same in
her action for legal separation cannot be treated as malpractice.
Thus, the acquittal of Atty. Felix, Jr. in the administrative case amounts to no more than a declaration that his
use of the documents and papers for the purpose of securing Dr. Martin's admission as to their genuiness and
authenticity did not constitute a violation of the injunctive order of the trial court. By no means does the
decision in that case establish the admissibility of the documents and papers in question.
It cannot be overemphasized that if Atty. Felix, Jr. was acquitted of the charge of violating the writ of preliminary
injunction issued by the trial court, it was only because, at the time he used the documents and papers,
enforcement of the order of the trial court was temporarily restrained by this Court. The TRO issued by this
Court was eventually lifted as the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner against the trial court's order was
dismissed and, therefore, the prohibition against the further use of the documents and papers became effective
again.
Indeed the documents and papers in question are inadmissible in evidence. The constitutional injunction
declaring "the privacy of communication and correspondence [to be] inviolable"3 is no less applicable simply
because it is the wife (who thinks herself aggrieved by her husband's infidelity) who is the party against whom
the constitutional provision is to be enforced. The only exception to the prohibition in the Constitution is if there
is a "lawful order [from a] court or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law." 4 Any
violation of this provision renders the evidence obtained inadmissible "for any purpose in any proceeding." 5
The intimacies between husband and wife do not justify any one of them in breaking the drawers and cabinets
of the other and in ransacking them for any telltale evidence of marital infidelity. A person, by contracting
marriage, does not shed his/her integrity or his right to privacy as an individual and the constitutional protection
is ever available to him or to her.
The law insures absolute freedom of communication between the spouses by making it privileged. Neither
husband nor wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse while the
marriage subsists.6 Neither may be examined without the consent of the other as to any communication
received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage, save for specified exceptions.7 But one thing
is freedom of communication; quite another is a compulsion for each one to share what one knows with the
other. And this has nothing to do with the duty of fidelity that each owes to the other.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Regalado, Romero and Puno, JJ., concur.

Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 137567

June 20, 2000

MEYNARDO L. BELTRAN, petitioner, vs.PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and HON. JUDGE FLORENTINO
TUAZON, JR., being the Judge of the RTC, Brach 139, Makati City, respondents.
BUENA, J.:
This petition for review, filed under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, seeks to review and set aside
the Order dated January 28, 1999 issued by Judge Florentino A. Tuazon, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court of
Makati City, Branch 139 in Special Civil Case No. 98-3056, entitled "Meynardo Beltran vs. People of the
Philippines and Hon. Judge Alden Cervantes of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 61." The
said Order denied petitioner's prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin Judge
Cervantes from proceeding with the trial of Criminal Case No. 236176, a concubinage case against petitioner
on the ground that the pending petition for declaration of nullity of marriage filed by petitioner against his wife
constitutes a prejudicial question.
The antecedent facts of the case are undisputed:
Petitioner Meynardo Beltran and wife Charmaine E. Felix were married on June 16, 1973 at the Immaculate
Concepcion Parish Church in Cubao, Quezon City.1
On February 7, 1997, after twenty-four years of marriage and four children, 2 petitioner filed a petition for nullity
of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code before Branch 87 of
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-97-30192.3
In her Answer to the said petition, petitioner's wife Charmaine Felix alleged that it was petitioner who
abandoned the conjugal home and lived with a certain woman named Milagros Salting. 4 Charmaine
subsequently filed a criminal complaint for concubinage 5 under Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code against
petitioner and his paramour before the City Prosecutor's Office of Makati who, in a Resolution dated
September 16, 1997, found probable cause and ordered the filing of an Information 6 against them. The case,
docketed as Criminal Case No. 236176, was filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City, Branch
61.1awphi1
On March 20, 1998, petitioner, in order to forestall the issuance of a warrant for his arrest, filed a Motion to
Defer Proceedings Including the Issuance of the Warrant of Arrest in the criminal case. Petitioner argued that
the pendency of the civil case for declaration of nullity of his marriage posed a prejudicial question to the
determination of the criminal case. Judge Alden Vasquez Cervantes denied the foregoing motion in the Order 7
dated August 31, 1998. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the said Order of denial was likewise denied
in an Order dated December 9, 1998.
In view of the denial of his motion to defer the proceedings in the concubinage case, petitioner went to the
Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 139 on certiorari, questioning the Orders dated August 31, 1998
and December 9, 1998 issued by Judge Cervantes and praying for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
injunction.8 In an Order9 dated January 28, 1999, the Regional Trial Court of Makati denied the petition for
certiorari. Said Court subsequently issued another Order 10 dated February 23, 1999, denying his motion for
reconsideration of the dismissal of his petition.
Undaunted, petitioner filed the instant petition for review.
Petitioner contends that the pendency of the petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage based on
psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code is a prejudicial question that should merit the
suspension of the criminal case for concubinage filed against him by his wife.
Petitioner also contends that there is a possibility that two conflicting decisions might result from the civil case
for annulment of marriage and the criminal case for concubinage. In the civil case, the trial court might declare
the marriage as valid by dismissing petitioner's complaint but in the criminal case, the trial court might acquit
petitioner because the evidence shows that his marriage is void on ground of psychological incapacity.
Petitioner submits that the possible conflict of the courts' ruling regarding petitioner's marriage can be avoided,
if the criminal case will be suspended, until the court rules on the validity of marriage; that if petitioner's
marriage is declared void by reason of psychological incapacity then by reason of the arguments submitted in
the subject petition, his marriage has never existed; and that, accordingly, petitioner could not be convicted in
the criminal case because he was never before a married man.

Petitioner's contentions are untenable.
The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions. It has two
essential elements: (a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the
criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
The pendency of the case for declaration of nullity of petitioner's marriage is not a prejudicial question to the
concubinage case. For a civil case to be considered prejudicial to a criminal action as to cause the suspension
of the latter pending the final determination of the civil case, it must appear not only that the said civil case
involves the same facts upon which the criminal prosecution would be based, but also that in the resolution of
the issue or issues raised in the aforesaid civil action, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily
be determined.
Art. 40 of the Family Code provides:
The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a
final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
In Domingo vs. Court of Appeals, 12 this Court ruled that the import of said provision is that for purposes of
remarriage, the only legally acceptable basis for declaring a previous marriage an absolute nullity is a final
judgment declaring such previous marriage void, whereas, for purposes of other than remarriage, other
evidence is acceptable. The pertinent portions of said Decision read:
. . . Undoubtedly, one can conceive of other instances where a party might well invoke the absolute nullity of a
previous marriage for purposes other than remarriage, such as in case of an action for liquidation, partition,
distribution and separation of property between the erstwhile spouses, as well as an action for the custody and
support of their common children and the delivery of the latters' presumptive legitimes. In such cases, evidence
needs must be adduced, testimonial or documentary, to prove the existence of grounds rendering such a
previous marriage an absolute nullity. These needs not be limited solely to an earlier final judgment of a court
declaring such previous marriage void.
So that in a case for concubinage, the accused, like the herein petitioner need not present a final judgment
declaring his marriage void for he can adduce evidence in the criminal case of the nullity of his marriage other
than proof of a final judgment declaring his marriage void.
With regard to petitioner's argument that he could be acquitted of the charge of concubinage should his
marriage be declared null and void, suffice it to state that even a subsequent pronouncement that his marriage
is void from the beginning is not a defense.
Analogous to this case is that of Landicho vs. Relova 1 cited in Donato vs. Luna 14 where this Court held that:
. . . Assuming that the first marriage was null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner, that fact would not
be material to the outcome of the criminal case. Parties to the marriage should not be permitted to judge for
themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted to the judgment of the competent courts and only when
the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration the
presumption is that the marriage exists. Therefore, he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial
declaration of nullity of the first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.
Thus, in the case at bar it must also be held that parties to the marriage should not be permitted to judge for
themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted to the judgment of the competent courts and only when
the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration the
presumption is that the marriage exists for all intents and purposes. Therefore, he who cohabits with a woman
not his wife before the judicial declaration of nullity of the marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for
concubinage. The lower court therefore, has not erred in affirming the Orders of the judge of the Metropolitan
Trial Court ruling that pendency of a civil action for nullity of marriage does not pose a prejudicial question in a
criminal case for concubinage.
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the instant petition is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Mendoza, Quisumbing and De Leon, JJ., concur.

Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-22579

February 23, 1968

ROLANDO LANDICHO, petitioner, vs.HON. LORENZO RELOVA, in his capacity as Judge of the Court of
First Instance of Batangas, Branch I, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Jose W. Diokno for petitioner. Office of the Solicitor General for respondents.
FERNANDO, J.:
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, the question before the Court is
whether or not the existence of a civil suit for the annulment of marriage at the instance of the second wife
against petitioner, with the latter in turn filing a third party complaint against the first spouse for the annulment
of the first marriage, constitutes a prejudicial question in a pending suit for bigamy against him. Respondent,
Judge Relova answered in the negative. We sustain him.
The pertinent facts as set forth in the petition follow. On February 27, 1963, petitioner was charged
before the Court of First Instance of Batangas, Branch I, presided over by respondent Judge, with the offense,
of bigamy. It was alleged in the information that petitioner "being then lawfully married to Elvira Makatangay,
which marriage has not been legally dissolved, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a
second marriage with Fe Lourdes Pasia." On March 15, 1963, an action was filed before the Court of First
Instance ofBatangas, likewise presided plaintiff respondent Judge Fe Lourdes Pasia, seeking to declare her
marriage to petitioner as null and void ab initio because of the alleged use of force, threats and intimidation
allegedly employed by petitioner and because of its allegedly bigamous character. On June 15, 1963, petitioner
as defendant in said case, filed a third-party complaint, against the third-party defendant Elvira Makatangay,
the first spouse, praying that his marriage with the said third-party defendant be declared null and void, on the
ground that by means of threats, force and intimidation, she compelled him to appear and contract marriage
with her before the Justice of the Peace of Makati, Rizal.
Thereafter, on October 7, 1963, petitioner moved to suspend the hearing of the criminal case pending
the decision on the question of the validity of the two marriages involved in the pending civil suit. Respondent
Judge on November 19, 1963 denied the motion for lack of merit. Then came a motion for reconsideration to
set aside the above order, which was likewise denied on March 2, 1964. Hence this petition, filed on March 13,
1964.
In a resolution of this Court of March 17, 1964, respondent Judge was required to answer within ten (10)
days, with a preliminary injunction being issued to restrain him from further proceeding with the prosecution of
the bigamy case. In the meanwhile, before the answer was filed there was an amended petition for certiorari,
the amendment consisting solely in the inclusion of the People of the Philippines as another respondent. This
Court admitted such amended petition in a resolution of April 3, 1964.
Then came the answer to the amended petition on May 14 of that year where the statement of facts as
above detailed was admitted, with the qualifications that the bigamy charge was filed upon the complaint of the
first spouse Elvira Makatangay. It alleged as one of its special and affirmative defenses that the mere fact that
"there are actions to annul the marriages entered into by the accused in a bigamy case does not mean that
'prejudicial questions are automatically raised in said civil actions as to warrant the suspension of the criminal
case for bigamy." 1 The answer stressed that even on the assumption that the first marriage was null and void
on the ground alleged by petitioner, the fact would not be material to the outcome of the criminal case. It
continued, referring to Viada, that "parties to the marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its
nullity, for this must be submitted to the judgment of competent courts and only when the nullity of a marriage
is so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that the
marriage exists. Therefore, according to Viada, he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial
declaration of nullity of the first marriage incurs the penalty provided for in this Article. . . ." 2
This defense is in accordance with the principle implicit in authoritative decisions of this Court. In Merced
v. Diez, 3 what was in issue was the validity of the second marriage, "which must be determined before hand in
the civil action before the criminal action can proceed." According to the opinion of Justice Labrador: "We have
a situation where the issue of the validity of the second marriage can be determined or must first be
determined in the civil action before the criminal action for bigamy can be prosecuted. The question of the
validity of the second marriage is, therefore, a prejudicial question because determination of the validity of the
second marriage is determinable in the civil action and must precede the criminal action for bigamy." It was the
conclusion of this Court then that for petitioner Merced to be found guilty of bigamy, the second marriage which
he contracted "must first be declared valid." Its validity having been questioned in the civil action, there must be
a decision in such a case "before the prosecution for bigamy can proceed."

To the same effect is the doctrine announced in Zapanta v. Mendoza. 4 As explained in the opinion of
Justice Dizon: "We have heretofore defined a prejudicial question as that which arises in a case, the resolution
of which is a logical antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another
tribunal. . . . The prejudicial question — we further said — must be determinative of the case before the court,
and jurisdiction to try the same must be lodged in another court. . . . These requisites are present in the case at
bar. Should the question for annulment of the second marriage pending in the Court of First Instance of
Pampanga prosper on the ground that, according to the evidence, petitioner's consent thereto was obtained by
means of duress, force and intimidation, it is obvious that his act was involuntary and can not be the basis of
his conviction for the crime of bigamy with which he was charged in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan.
Thus the issue involved in the action for the annulment of the second marriage is determinative of petitioner's
guilt or innocence of the crime of bigamy. . . ."
The situation in this case is markedly different. At the time the petitioner was indicted for bigamy on
February 27, 1963, the fact that two marriage ceremonies had been contracted appeared to be indisputable.
Then on March 15, 1963, it was the second spouse, not petitioner who filed an action for nullity on the ground
of force, threats and intimidation. It was sometime later, on June 15, 1963, to be precise, when petitioner, as
defendant in the civil action, filed a third-party complaint against the first spouse alleging that his marriage with
her should be declared null and void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. As was correctly stressed
in the answer of respondent Judge relying on Viada, parties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for
themselves its nullity, only competent courts having such authority. Prior to such declaration of nullity, the
validity of the first marriage is beyond question. A party who contracts a second marriage then assumes the
risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.
Such was the situation of petitioner. There is no occasion to indulge in the probability that the third-party
complaint against the first wife brought almost five months after the prosecution for bigamy was started could
have been inspired by the thought that he could thus give color to a defense based on an alleged prejudicial
question. The above judicial decisions as well as the opinion of Viada preclude a finding that respondent Judge
abused, much less gravely abused, his discretion in failing to suspend the hearing as sought by petitioner.
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is denied and the writ of preliminary injunction issued dissolved.
With costs.
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro and Angeles, JJ.,
concur.

Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-10016

February 28, 1957

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appelle, vs.PROCESO S. ARAGON, defendant-appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla and Solicitor Adolfo Brillantes for appellee.Prospero V. Manuel,
Fernando Moncada and Antonio Abad Tornis for defendant and appellant.
LABRADOR, J.:
Appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Cebu finding appellant guilty of bigamy. The facts are
not disputed and, as found by the trial court, are as follows:
On September 28, 1925, the accused, under the name of Proceso Rosima, contracted marriage with a certain
Maria Gorrea in the Philippine Independent Church in Cebu (Exhibits "1" and "1-A"). While his marriage with
Maria Gorrea was subsisting, the accused under the name of Proceso Aragon, contracted a canonical
marriage with Maria Faicol on August 27, 1934, in the Santa Teresita Church in Iloilo City.
The sponsors of the accused and Maria Faicol were Eulogio Giroy, who was then an employee of the Office of
the Municipal Treasurer of Iloilo, and a certain Emilio Tomesa, a clerk in the said office (Exhibit "A" and
testimonies of Eulogio Giroy and complainant Maria Faicol). After the said marriage, the accused and Maria
Faicol established residence in Iloilo. As the accused was then a traveling salesman, he commuted between
Iloilo where he maintained Maria Faicol, and Cebu where he maintained his first wife, Maria Gorrea died in
Cebu City on August 5, 1939 (Exhibit "2"). After Maria Gorrea's death, and seeing that the coast was dear in
Cebu, the accused brought Maria Faicol to Cebu City in 1940, where she worked as a teacher-nurse.
It would seem that the accused and Maria Faicol did not live a happy marital life in Cebu, for it appears that in
1949 and 1950, Maria Faicol suffered injuries to her eyes because of physical maltreatment in the hands of the
accused. On January 22, 1953, the accused sent Maria Faicol to Iloilo, allegedly for the purpose of undergoing
treatment of her eyesight. During her absence, the accused contracted a third marriage with a certain Jesusa
C. Maglasang on October 3, 1953, in Sibonga, Cebu. (See Exhibits "C", "D", "E" and "F")
The accused admitted having contracted marriage with Jesusa C. Maglasangin Sibonga, Cebu, on October 3,
1953, Although the accused made an attempt to deny his previous marriage with Maria Faicol, the Court,
however, believes that the attempt is futile for the fact of the said second marriage was fully established not
only by the certificate of the said marriage, but also by the testimony of Maria Faicol and of Eulogio Giroy, one
of the sponsors of the wedding, and the identification of the accused made by Maria Faicol. (See Exhibits "A"
and "B"; t.s.n. pp. 32-33, 40, 41, hearing of April 27, 1954).
The Court of First Instance of Cebu held that even in the absence of an express provision in Act No. 3613
authorizing the filing of an action for judicial declaration of nullity of a marriage void ab initio, defendant could
not legally contract marriage with Jesusa C. Maglasang without the dissolution of his marriage to Maria Faicol,
either by the death of the latter or by the judicial declaration of the nullity of such marriage, at the instance of
the latter. Authorities given for this ruling are 5 Viada, 5th edition, 651; 35 American Jurisprudence, Marriage,
Sec. 46, p. 212; Bickford vs. Bickford, 74 N. H. 466, 69 A. 579.
Appellant in this Court relies on the case of People vs. Mendoza, (95 Phil., 845; 50 Off. Gaz., [10] 4767). In this
case the majority of this Court declared:
The statutory provision (section 29 of the Marriage Law or Act No. 3613) plainly makes a subsequent marriage
contracted by any person during the lifetime of his first spouse illegal and void from its performance, and no
judicial decree is necessary to establish its invalidity, as distinguished from mere annullable marriages. There
is here no pretense that appellant's second marriage with Olga Lema was contracted in the belief that the first
spouse, Jovita de Asis, had been absent for seven consecutive years or generally considered as dead, so as
to render said marriage valid until declared null and void by a subsequent court.
We are of the very weighty reasons by Justice Alex Reyes in the dissent in the case above-quoted But this
weighty reasons notwithstanding, the very fundamental principle of strict construction of penal laws in favor of
the accused, which principle we may not ignore, seems to justify our stand in the above-cited case of People
vs. Mendoza. Our Revised Penal Code is of recent enactment and had the rule enunciated in Spain and in
America requiring judicial declaration of nullity of ab initio void marriages been within the contemplation of the
legislature, an express provision to that effect would or should have been inserted in the law. In its absence,
we are bound by said rule of strict interpretation already adverted to.

It is to be noted that the action was instituted upon complaint of the second wife, whose marriage with the
appellant was not renewed after the death of the first wife and before the third marriage was entered into.
Hence, the last marriage was a valid one and appellant's prosecution for contracting this marriage can not
prosper.
For the foregoing considerations, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed and the defendant-appellant
acquitted, with costs de oficio, without prejudice to his prosecution for having contracted the second bigamous
marriage. So ordered.
Paras, C. J., Bengzon, Bautista Angelo, Reyes, J. B. L., Endencia, and Felix, JJ., concur.

Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 124498

October 5, 2001

EDDIE B. SABANDAL, petitioner, vs.HON. FELIPE S. TONGCO, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court,
Manila, Branch 42, and PHILIPPINES TODAY, respondents.
PARDO, J.:
The Case
The case is a petition to suspend the criminal proceedings in the Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 42, 1
where petitioner Eddie B. Sabandal is charged with eleven counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22.2
The Facts
On February 18, 1989, Eddie B. Sabandal entered into a memorandum of agreement on dealership with
respondent Philippines Today, Inc. for the distribution of the newspaper Philippines Today, (now Philippine Star)
in Bacolod City and in designated towns in Negros Occidental.3
Under the agreement, petitioner shall pay for an equivalent amount of one month of deliveries in advance
within the first seven days of the succeeding month. Petitioner's allowable percentage of return shall be 10%
and be entitled to a rebate of P0.15 per copy sold.
After execution of the agreement, respondent Philippines Today, Inc. made regular deliveries of the agreed
copies of the newspaper to petitioner.
In order to make partial payments for the deliveries, on December 18, 1990 to April 15, 1991, petitioner issued
to respondent several checks amounting to ninety thousand (P90,000.00) pesos.
When respondent presented petitioner's checks to the drawee banks for payment, the bank dishonored the
checks for insufficiency of funds and/or account closed. Consequently, respondent made oral and written
demands for petitioner to make good the checks. However, petitioner failed to pay despite demands.
In December 1992, on the basis of a complaint-affidavit filed by respondent Philippines Today, Inc., assistant
city prosecutor of Manila Jacinto A. de los Reyes, Jr. filed with the Regional Trial Court, Manila eleven
informations for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 against petitioner.4
Three years later, or on October 11, 1995, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court, Negros Occidental at
Himamaylan, a complaint against Philippines Today, Inc. for specific performance, recovery of overpayment
and damages.5
On October 11, 1995, petitioner also filed with the Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 42, a motion to
suspend trial in the criminal cases against him based on a prejudicial question.6
On November 27, 1995, the trial court denied petitioner's motion to suspend trial based on a prejudicial
question.7
On December 20, 1995, petitioner filed with the trial court a motion for reconsideration of the denial.8
On January 9, 1996, the trial court denied the motion for reconsideration.9
Hence, this petition.10
The Issue
The issue raised is whether a prejudicial question exists to warrant the suspension of the trial of the criminal
cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 against petitioner until after the resolution of the civil action
for specific performance, recovery of overpayment, and damages.
The Court's Ruling
The petition has no merit.

The two (2) essential elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the civil action involves an issue similar or
intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue determines
whether or not the criminal action may proceed.11
"A prejudicial question is defined as that which arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent
of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. The prejudicial question
must be determinative of the case before the court but the jurisdiction to try and resolve the question must be
lodged in another court or tribunal. It is a question based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so
intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused."12
"For a civil action to be considered prejudicial to a criminal case as to cause the suspension of the criminal
proceedings until the final resolution of the civil, the following requisites must be present: (1) the civil case
involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based; (2) in the
resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil action, the guilt or innocence of the accused would
necessarily be determined; and (3) jurisdiction to try said question must be lodged in another tribunal."13
If both civil and criminal cases have similar issues or the issue in one is intimately related to the issues raised
in the other, then a prejudicial question would likely exist, provided the other element or characteristic is
satisfied.14 It must appear not only that the civil case involves the same facts upon which the criminal
prosecution would be based, but also that the resolution of the issues raised in the civil action would be
necessarily determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused. 15 If the resolution of the issue in the civil
action will not determine the criminal responsibility of the accused in the criminal action based on the same
facts, or there is no necessity "that the civil case be determined first before taking up the criminal case,"
therefore, the civil case does not involve a prejudicial question. 16 Neither is there a prejudicial question if the
civil and the criminal action can, according to law, proceed independently of each other.17
In this case, the issue in the criminal cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 is whether the accused
knowingly issued worthless checks. The issue in the civil action for specific performance, overpayment, and
damages is whether complainant Sabandal overpaid his obligations to Philippines Today, Inc. If, after trial in
the civil case, petitioner is shown to have overpaid respondent, it does not follow that he cannot be held liable
for the bouncing checks he issued, for the mere issuance of worthless checks with knowledge of the
insufficiency of funds to support the checks is itself an offense.18
The lower court, therefore, did not err in ruling that the pendency of a civil action for specific performance,
overpayment, and damages did not pose a prejudicial question in the criminal cases for violation of Batas
Pambansa Bilang 22.
Furthermore, the peculiar circumstances of the case clearly indicate that the filing of the civil case was a ploy
to delay the resolution of the criminal cases. Petitioner filed the civil case three years after the institution of the
criminal charges against him. Apparently, the civil action was instituted as an afterthought to delay the
proceedings in the criminal cases.
Petitioner's claim of overpayment to respondent may be raised as a defense during the trial of the cases for
violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 charged against him. The civil action for recovery of civil liability is
impliedly instituted with the filing of the criminal action. 19 Hence, petitioner may invoke all defenses pertaining
to his civil liability in the criminal action.20
The Fallo
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby DISMISSES the petition for lack of merit. The Court directs the Regional Trial
Court, Manila to proceed with the trial of the criminal cases against petitioner with all judicious dispatch in
accordance with the Speedy Trial Act of 1998.21
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.Kapunan, J., on official leave.

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