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Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
EN BANC
A.M. No. 2349 July 3, 1992
DOROTHY B. TERRE, complainant, vs.ATTY. JORDAN TERRE, respondent.
PER CURIAM:
In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on 24 December 1981, complainant Dorothy B. Terre charged
respondent Jordan Terre, a member of the Philippine Bar with "grossly immoral conduct," consisting of
contracting a second marriage and living with another woman other than complainant, while his prior marriage
with complainant remained subsisting.
The Court resolved to require respondent to answer the complaint. 1 Respondent successfully evaded five (5)
attempts to serve a copy of the Court's Resolution and of the complaint by moving from one place to another,
such that he could not be found nor reached in his alleged place of employment or residence. 2 On 24 April
1985, that is after three (3) years and a half, with still no answer from the respondent, the Court noted
respondent's success in evading service of the complaint and the Court's Resolution and thereupon resolved
to "suspend respondent Atty. Jordan Terre from the practice of law until after he appears and/or files his answer
to the complaint against him" in the instantcase. 3
On 28 September 1985, respondent finally filed an Answer with a Motion to Set Aside and/or Lift Suspension
Order. In his Answer, Atty. Terre averred that he had contracted marriage with complainant Dorothy Terre on 14
June 1977 upon her representation that she was single; that he subsequently learned that Dorothy was
married to a certain Merlito A. Bercenilla sometime in 1968; that when he confronted Dorothy about her prior
marriage, Dorothy drove him out of their conjugal residence; that Dorothy had mockingly told him of her private
meetings with Merlito A. Bercenilla and that the child she was then carrying (i.e., Jason Terre) was the son of
Bercenilla; that believing in good faith that his marriage to complainant was null and void ab initio, he
contracted marriage with Helina Malicdem at Dasol, Pangasinan. 4
In her Reply, complainant Dorothy denied that Jason Terre was the child of Merlito A. Bercenilla and insisted
that Jason was the child of respondent Jordan Terre, as evidenced by Jason's Birth Certificate and physical
resemblance to respondent. Dorothy further explained that while she had given birth to Jason Terre at the
PAFGH registered as a dependent of Merlito Bercenilla, she had done so out of extreme necessity and to
avoid risk of death or injury to the fetus which happened to be in a difficult breech position. According to
Dorothy, she had then already been abandoned by respondent Jordan Terre, leaving her penniless and without
means to pay for the medical and hospital bills arising by reason of her pregnancy.
The Court denied respondent's Motion to Set Aside or Lift the Suspension Order and instead referred; by a
Resolution dated 6 January 1986, the complaint to the Office of the Solicitor General for investigation, report
and recommendation. 5
Then Solicitor Pio C. Guerrero was appointed investigator by the Office of the Solicitor General. He set the
case for hearing on 7 July 1986 with notice to both parties. On 7 July 1986, complainant Dorothy appeared and
presented her evidence ex parte, since respondent did not so appear. 6 The Investigating Solicitor scheduled
and held another hearing on 19 August 1986, where he put clarificatory questions to the complainant;
respondent once again did not appear despite notice to do so. Complainant finally offered her evidence and
rested her case. The Solicitor set still another hearing for 2 October 1986, notifying respondent to present his
evidence with a warning that should he fail once more to appear, the case would be deemed submitted for
resolution. Respondent did not appear on 2 October 1986. The Investigating Solicitor accordingly considered
respondent to have waived his right to present evidence and declared the case submitted for resolution. The
parties were given time to submit their respective memoranda. Complainant Dorothy did so on 8 December
1986. Respondent Terre did not file his memorandum.
On 26 February 1990, the Office of the Solicitor General submitted its "Report and Recommendation" to this
Court. The Report summarized the testimony of the complainant in the following manner:
Complainant Dorothy Terre took the witness stand and testified substantially as follows: she and respondent
met for the first time in 1979 as fourth year high school classmates in Cadiz City High School (tsn, July 7,
1986, p. 9); she was then married to Merlito Bercenilla, while respondent was single (id.); respondent was
aware of her marital status (ibid, p. 14); it was then that respondent started courting her but nothing happened
of the courtship (ibid, p. 10); they [complainant and respondent] moved to Manila were they respectively
pursued their education, respondent as a law student at the Lyceum University (tsn, July 7, 1986, p. 12, 1516); respondent continued courting her, this time with more persistence (ibid, p. 11); she decided nothing would
come of it since she was married but he [respondent] explained to her that their marriage was void ab initio
since she and her first husband were first cousins (ibid, p. 12); convinced by his explanation and having
secured favorable advice from her mother andex-in-laws, she agreed to marry him [respondent] (ibid, 12-13,

16); in their marriage license, despite her [complainant's] objection, he [respondent] wrote "single" as her
status explaining that since her marriage was void ab initio, there was no need to go to court to declare it as
such (ibid, 14-15); they were married before Judge Priscilla Mijares of the City Court of Manila on June 14,
1977 (Exhibit A; tsn, July 7, 1986, pp. 16-17); Jason Terre was born of their union on June 25, 1981 (Exhibit B,
tsn, July 7, 1986, p. 18); all through their married state up to the time he [respondent] disappeared in 1981,
complainant supported respondent, in addition to the allowance the latter was getting from his parents (ibid, pp.
19-20); she was unaware of the reason for his disappearance until she found out later that respondent married
a certain Vilma [sic] Malicdem (Exhibit C, tsn, July 7, 1986, pp. 21-22); she then filed a case for abandonment
of minor with the City Fiscal of Pasay City (ibid, p. 23) which was subsequently filed before Branch II of the City
Court of Pasay City as Criminal Case No. 816159 (Exhibit D; tsn, July 7, 1986, p. 24); she likewise filed a case
for bigamy against respondent and Helina Malicdem with the office of the Provincial Fiscal of Pangasinan,
where a prima facie case was found to exist (Exhibit E; tsn, July 7, pp. 25-26); additionally, complainant filed an
administrative case against respondent with the Commission on Audit where he was employed, which case
however was considered closed for being moot and academic when respondent was considered automatically
separated from the service for having gone on absence without official leave (Exhibit F; tsn, July 7, 1986, pp.
28-29). 7
There is no dispute over the fact that complainant Dorothy Terre and respondent Jordan Terre contracted
marriage on 14 July 1977 before Judge Priscilla Mijares. There is further no dispute over the fact that on 3 May
1981, respondent Jordan Terre married Helina Malicdem in Dasol, Pangasinan. When the second marriage
was entered into, respondent's prior marriage with complainant was subsisting, no judicial action having been
initiated or any judicial declaration obtained as to the nullity of such prior marriage of respondent with
complainant.
Respondent Jordan Terre sought to defend himself by claiming that he had believed in good faith that his prior
marriage with complainant Dorothy Terre was null and void ab initio and that no action for a judicial declaration
of nullity was necessary.
The Court considers this claim on the part of respondent Jordan Terre as a spurious defense. In the first place,
respondent has not rebutted complainant's evidence as to the basic facts which underscores the bad faith of
respondent Terre. In the second place, that pretended defense is the same argument by which he had
inveigled complainant into believing that her prior marriage to Merlito A. Bercenilla being incestuous and void
ab initio (Dorothy and Merlito being allegedly first cousins to each other), she was free to contract a second
marriage with the respondent. Respondent Jordan Terre, being a lawyer, knew or should have known that such
an argument ran counter to the prevailing case law of this Court which holds that for purposes of determining
whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was
null and void ab initio is essential. 8 Even if we were to assume, arguendo merely, that Jordan Terre held that
mistaken belief in good faith, the same result will follow. For if we are to hold Jordan Terre to his own argument,
his first marriage to complainant Dorothy Terre must be deemed valid, with the result that his second marriage
to Helina Malicdem must be regarded as bigamous and criminal in character.
That the moral character of respondent Jordan Terre was deeply flawed is shown by other circumstances. As
noted, he convinced the complainant that her prior marriage to Bercenilla was null and void ab initio, that she
was still legally single and free to marry him. When complainant and respondent had contracted their marriage,
respondent went through law school while being supported by complainant, with some assistance from
respondent's parents. After respondent had finished his law course and gotten complainant pregnant,
respondent abandoned the complainant without support and without the wherewithal for delivering his own
child safely in a hospital.
Thus, we agree with the Solicitor General that respondent Jordan Terre, by his actions, "eloquently displayed,
not only his unfitness to remain as a member of the Bar, but likewise his inadequacy to uphold the purpose and
responsibility of his gender" because marriage is a basic social institution. 9
In Pomperada v. Jochico, 10 the Court, in rejecting a petition to be allowed to take the oath as a member of the
Bar and to sign the Roll of Attorneys, said through Mme. Justice Melencio-Herrera:
It is evident that respondent fails to meet the standard of moral fitness for membership in the legal profession.
Whether the marriage was a joke as respondent claims, or a trick played on her as claimed by complainant, it
does not speak well of respondent's moral values. Respondent had made a mockery of marriage, a basic
social institution which public policy cherishes and protects (Article 216, Civil Code). 11
In Bolivar v. Simbol, 12 the Court found the respondent there guilty of "grossly immoral conduct" because he
made a dupe of complainant, living on her bounty and allowing her to spend for his schooling and other
personal necessities while dangling before her the mirage of a marriage, marrying another girl as soon as he
had finished his studies, keeping his marriage a secret while continuing to demand money from complainant. . .
. ." The Court held such acts "indicative of a character not worthy of a member of the Bar." 13
We believe and so hold that the conduct of respondent Jordan Terre in inveigling complainant Dorothy Terre to

contract a second marriage with him; in abandoning complainant Dorothy Terre after she had cared for him and
supported him through law school, leaving her without means for the safe delivery of his own child; in
contracting a second marriage with Helina Malicdem while his first marriage with complainant Dorothy Terre
was subsisting, constituted "grossly immoral conduct" under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court,
affording more than sufficient basis for disbarment of respondent Jordan Terre. He was unworthy of admission
to the Bar in the first place. The Court will correct this error forthwith.
WHEREFORE, the Court Resolved to DISBAR respondent Jordan Terre and to STRIKE OUT his name from
the Roll of Attorneys. A copy of this decision shall be spread on the personal record of respondent Jordan Terre
in the Bar Confidant's Office. A copy of this resolution shall also be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and shall be circularized to all the courts of the land.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado,
Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon and Bellosillo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. L-53703 August 19, 1986
LILIA OLIVA WIEGEL, petitioner, vs.THE HONORABLE ALICIA V. SEMPIO-DIY (as presiding judge of the
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Caloocan City) and KARL HEINZ WIEGEL, respondents.
Dapucanta, Dulay & Associates for petitioner.
Siguion Reyna, Montecillo and Ongsiako Law Office for private respondent.
PARAS, J.:
In an action (Family Case No. 483) filed before the erstwhile Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of
Caloocan City, herein respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel (plaintiff therein) asked for the declaration of Nullity of his
marriage (celebrated on July, 1978 at the Holy Catholic Apostolic Christian Church Branch in Makati, Metro
Manila) with herein petitioner Lilia Oliva Wiegel (Lilia, for short, and defendant therein) on the ground of Lilia's
previous existing marriage to one Eduardo A. Maxion, the ceremony having been performed on June 25, 1972
at our Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon City. Lilia, while admitting the existence of said prior subsisting
marriage claimed that said marriage was null and void, she and the first husband Eduardo A. Maxion having
been allegedly forced to enter said marital union. In the pre-trial that ensued, the issue agreed upon by both
parties was the status of the first marriage (assuming the presence of force exerted against both parties): was
said prior marriage void or was it merely voidable? Contesting the validity of the pre-trial order, Lilia asked the
respondent court for an opportunity to present evidence(1) that the first marriage was vitiated by force exercised upon both her and the first husband; and
(2) that the first husband was at the time of the marriage in 1972 already married to someone else.
Respondent judge ruled against the presentation of evidence because the existence of force exerted on both
parties of the first marriage had already been agreed upon. Hence, the present petition for certiorari assailing
the following Orders of therespondent Judge(1) the Order dated March 17, 1980 in which the parties were compelled to submit the case for resolution
based on "agreed facts;" and
(2) the Order dated April 14, 1980, denying petitioner's motion to allow her to present evidence in her favor.
We find the petition devoid of merit.
There is no need for petitioner to prove that her first marriage was vitiated by force committed against both
parties because assuming this to be so, the marriage will not be void but merely viodable (Art. 85, Civil Code),
and therefore valid until annulled. Since no annulment has yet been made, it is clear that when she married
respondent she was still validly married to her first husband, consequently, her marriage to respondent is VOID
(Art. 80, Civil Code).
There is likewise no need of introducing evidence about the existing prior marriage of her first husband at the
time they married each other, for then such a marriage though void still needs according to this Court a judicial
declaration 1 of such fact and for all legal intents and purposes she would still be regarded as a married woman
at the time she contracted her marriage with respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel); accordingly, the marriage of
petitioner and respondent would be regarded VOID under the law.
WHEREFORE, this petition is hereby DISMISSED, for lack of merit, and the Orders complained of are hereby
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Feria (Chairman), Fernan Alampay and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.

Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 132529. February 2, 2001
SUSAN NICDAO CARIÑO, petitioner, vs.SUSAN YEE CARIÑO, respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
The issue for resolution in the case at bar hinges on the validity of the two marriages contracted by the
deceased SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, whose “death benefits” is now the subject of the controversy between the
two Susans whom he married. 1âwphi1.nêt
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CV No. 51263, which affirmed in toto the decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 87, in Civil Case No. Q-93-18632.
During the lifetime of the late SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, he contracted two marriages, the first was on June 20,
1969, with petitioner Susan Nicdao Cariño (hereafter referred to as Susan Nicdao), with whom he had two
offsprings, namely, Sahlee and Sandee Cariño; and the second was on November 10, 1992, with respondent
Susan Yee Cariño (hereafter referred to as Susan Yee), with whom he had no children in their almost ten year
cohabitation starting way back in 1982.
In 1988, SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño became ill and bedridden due to diabetes complicated by pulmonary
tuberculosis. He passed away on November 23, 1992, under the care of Susan Yee, who spent for his medical
and burial expenses. Both petitioner and respondent filed claims for monetary benefits and financial assistance
pertaining to the deceased from various government agencies. Petitioner Susan Nicdao was able to collect a
total of P146,000.00 from “MBAI, PCCUI, Commutation, NAPOLCOM, [and] Pag-ibig,” 3 while respondent
Susan Yee received a total of P21,000.00 from “GSIS Life, Burial (GSIS) and burial (SSS).” 4
On December 14, 1993, respondent Susan Yee filed the instant case for collection of sum of money against
petitioner Susan Nicdao praying, inter alia, that petitioner be ordered to return to her at least one-half of the
one hundred forty-six thousand pesos (P146,000.00) collectively denominated as “death benefits” which she
(petitioner) received from “MBAI, PCCUI, Commutation, NAPOLCOM, [and] Pag-ibig.” Despite service of
summons, petitioner failed to file her answer, prompting the trial court to declare her in default.
Respondent Susan Yee admitted that her marriage to the deceased took place during the subsistence of, and
without first obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity of, the marriage between petitioner and the deceased.
She, however, claimed that she had no knowledge of the previous marriage and that she became aware of it
only at the funeral of the deceased, where she met petitioner who introduced herself as the wife of the
deceased. To bolster her action for collection of sum of money, respondent contended that the marriage of
petitioner and the deceased is void ab initio because the same was solemnized without the required marriage
license. In support thereof, respondent presented: 1) the marriage certificate of the deceased and the petitioner
which bears no marriage license number; 5 and 2) a certification dated March 9, 1994, from the Local Civil
Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, which reads –
This is to certify that this Office has no record of marriage license of the spouses SANTIAGO CARINO (sic)
and SUSAN NICDAO, who are married in this municipality on June 20, 1969. Hence, we cannot issue as
requested a true copy or transcription of Marriage License number from the records of this archives.
This certification is issued upon the request of Mrs. Susan Yee Cariño for whatever legal purpose it may serve.
6

On August 28, 1995, the trial court ruled in favor of respondent, Susan Yee, holding as follows:
WHEREFORE, the defendant is hereby ordered to pay the plaintiff the sum of P73,000.00, half of the amount
which was paid to her in the form of death benefits arising from the death of SPO4 Santiago S. Cariño, plus
attorney’s fees in the amount of P5,000.00, and costs of suit.
IT IS SO ORDERED. 7
On appeal by petitioner to the Court of Appeals, the latter affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court. Hence,
the instant petition, contending that:

I.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE FINDINGS OF THE
LOWER COURT THAT VDA. DE CONSUEGRA VS. GSIS IS APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR.
II.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN APPLYING EQUITY IN THE INSTANT CASE
INSTEAD OF THE CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL MANDATE OF THE FAMILY CODE.
III.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THE CASE OF VDA. DE
CONSUEGRA VS GSIS TO HAVE BEEN MODIFIED, AMENDED AND EVEN ABANDONED BY THE
ENACTMENT OF THE FAMILY CODE. 8
Under Article 40 of the Family Code, 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. Meaning, where the
absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked for purposes of contracting a second marriage,
the sole basis acceptable in law, for said projected marriage to be free from legal infirmity, is a final judgment
declaring the previous marriage void. 9 However, for purposes other than remarriage, no judicial action is
necessary to declare a marriage an absolute nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to the
determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate, dissolution of property
regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may pass upon the validity of marriage even after the death
of the parties thereto, and even in a suit not directly instituted to question the validity of said marriage, so long
as it is essential to the determination of the case. 10 In such instances, evidence must be adduced, testimonial
or documentary, to prove the existence of grounds rendering such a previous marriage an absolute nullity.
These need not be limited solely to an earlier final judgment of a court declaring such previous marriage void. 11
It is clear therefore that the Court is clothed with sufficient authority to pass upon the validity of the two
marriages in this case, as the same is essential to the determination of who is rightfully entitled to the subject
“death benefits” of the deceased.
Under the Civil Code, which was the law in force when the marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the
deceased was solemnized in 1969, a valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage, 12 and the absence
thereof, subject to certain exceptions, 13 renders the marriage void ab initio. 14
In the case at bar, there is no question that the marriage of petitioner and the deceased does not fall within the
marriages exempt from the license requirement. A marriage license, therefore, was indispensable to the validity
of their marriage. This notwithstanding, the records reveal that the marriage contract of petitioner and the
deceased bears no marriage license number and, as certified by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro
Manila, their office has no record of such marriage license. In Republic v. Court of Appeals, 15 the Court held
that such a certification is adequate to prove the non-issuance of a marriage license. Absent any circumstance
of suspicion, as in the present case, the certification issued by the local civil registrar enjoys probative value,
he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage
license.
Such being the case, the presumed validity of the marriage of petitioner and the deceased has been
sufficiently overcome. It then became the burden of petitioner to prove that their marriage is valid and that they
secured the required marriage license. Although she was declared in default before the trial court, petitioner
could have squarely met the issue and explained the absence of a marriage license in her pleadings before the
Court of Appeals and this Court. But petitioner conveniently avoided the issue and chose to refrain from
pursuing an argument that will put her case in jeopardy. Hence, the presumed validity of their marriage cannot
stand.
It is beyond cavil, therefore, that the marriage between petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, having
been solemnized without the necessary marriage license, and not being one of the marriages exempt from the
marriage license requirement, is undoubtedly void ab initio.
It does not follow from the foregoing disquisition, however, that since the marriage of petitioner and the
deceased is declared void ab initio, the “death benefits” under scrutiny would now be awarded to respondent
Susan Yee. To reiterate, under Article 40 of the Family Code, for purposes of remarriage, there must first be a
prior judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void, before a party can enter into a
second marriage, otherwise, the second marriage would also be void.
Accordingly, the declaration in the instant case of nullity of the previous marriage of the deceased and

petitioner Susan Nicdao does not validate the second marriage of the deceased with respondent Susan Yee.
The fact remains that their marriage was solemnized without first obtaining a judicial decree declaring the
marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased void. Hence, the marriage of respondent Susan Yee
and the deceased is, likewise, void ab initio.
One of the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage is the separation of the property of the spouses
according to the applicable property regime. 16 Considering that the two marriages are void ab initio, the
applicable property regime would not be absolute community or conjugal partnership of property, but rather, be
governed by the provisions of Articles 147 and 148 of the Family Code on “Property Regime of Unions Without
Marriage.”
Under Article 148 of the Family Code, which refers to the property regime of bigamous marriages, adulterous
relationships, relationships in a state of concubine, relationships where both man and woman are married to
other persons, multiple alliances of the same married man, 17 “... [O]nly the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money,
property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions ...”
In this property regime, the properties acquired by the parties through their actual joint contribution shall
belong to the co-ownership. Wages and salaries earned by each party belong to him or her exclusively. Then
too, contributions in the form of care of the home, children and household, or spiritual or moral inspiration, are
excluded in this regime. 18
Considering that the marriage of respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is a bigamous marriage, having
been solemnized during the subsistence of a previous marriage then presumed to be valid (between petitioner
and the deceased), the application of Article 148 is therefore in order.
The disputed P146,000.00 from MBAI [AFP Mutual Benefit Association, Inc.], NAPOLCOM, Commutation,
Pag-ibig, and PCCUI, are clearly renumerations, incentives and benefits from governmental agencies earned
by the deceased as a police officer. Unless respondent Susan Yee presents proof to the contrary, it could not
be said that she contributed money, property or industry in the acquisition of these monetary benefits. Hence,
they are not owned in common by respondent and the deceased, but belong to the deceased alone and
respondent has no right whatsoever to claim the same. By intestate succession, the said “death benefits” of the
deceased shall pass to his legal heirs. And, respondent, not being the legal wife of the deceased is not one of
them.
As to the property regime of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, Article 147 of the Family Code
governs. This article applies to unions of parties who are legally capacitated and not barred by any impediment
to contract marriage, but whose marriage is nonetheless void for other reasons, like the absence of a marriage
license. Article 147 of the Family Code reads Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with each other
as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall
be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of them through their work or industry
shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed to have
been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal shares. For
purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the other party of any property
shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former’s efforts consisted in the care
and maintenance of the family and of the household.
xxx
When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in the coownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default of or waiver by any or all of
the common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective surviving
descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent party. In all cases, the
forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation.
In contrast to Article 148, under the foregoing article, wages and salaries earned by either party during the
cohabitation shall be owned by the parties in equal shares and will be divided equally between them, even if
only one party earned the wages and the other did not contribute thereto. 19 Conformably, even if the disputed
“death benefits” were earned by the deceased alone as a government employee, Article 147 creates a coownership in respect thereto, entitling the petitioner to share one-half thereof. As there is no allegation of bad
faith in the present case, both parties of the first marriage are presumed to be in good faith. Thus, one-half of

the subject “death benefits” under scrutiny shall go to the petitioner as her share in the property regime, and
the other half pertaining to the deceased shall pass by, intestate succession, to his legal heirs, namely, his
children with Susan Nicdao.
In affirming the decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals relied on the case of Vda. de Consuegra v.
Government Service Insurance System, 20 where the Court awarded one-half of the retirement benefits of the
deceased to the first wife and the other half, to the second wife, holding that:
“... [S]ince the defendant’s first marriage has not been dissolved or declared void the conjugal partnership
established by that marriage has not ceased. Nor has the first wife lost or relinquished her status as putative
heir of her husband under the new Civil Code, entitled to share in his estate upon his death should she survive
him. Consequently, whether as conjugal partner in a still subsisting marriage or as such putative heir she has
an interest in the husband’s share in the property here in dispute....” And with respect to the right of the second
wife, this Court observed that although the second marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as it was
celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there is need for judicial declaration of such nullity.
And inasmuch as the conjugal partnership formed by the second marriage was dissolved before judicial
declaration of its nullity, “[t]he only just and equitable solution in this case would be to recognize the right of the
second wife to her share of one-half in the property acquired by her and her husband, and consider the other
half as pertaining to the conjugal partnership of the first marriage.” 21
It should be stressed, however, that the aforecited decision is premised on the rule which requires a prior and
separate judicial declaration of nullity of marriage. This is the reason why in the said case, the Court
determined the rights of the parties in accordance with their existing property regime.
In Domingo v. Court of Appeals, 22 however, the Court, construing Article 40 of the Family Code, clarified that a
prior and separate declaration of nullity of a marriage is an all important condition precedent only for purposes
of remarriage. That is, if a party who is previously married wishes to contract a second marriage, he or she has
to obtain first a judicial decree declaring the first marriage void, before he or she could contract said second
marriage, otherwise the second marriage would be void. The same rule applies even if the first marriage is
patently void because the parties are not free to determine for themselves the validity or invalidity or their
marriage. However, for purposes other than to remarry, like for filing a case for collection of sum of money
anchored on a marriage claimed to be valid, no prior and separate judicial declaration of nullity is necessary. All
that a party has to do is to present evidence, testimonial or documentary, that would prove that the marriage
from which his or her rights flow is in fact valid. Thereupon, the court, if material to the determination of the
issues before it, will rule on the status of the marriage involved and proceed to determine the rights of the
parties in accordance with the applicable laws and jurisprudence. Thus, in Niñal v. Bayadog, 23 the Court
explained:
[T]he court may pass upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to question the same so
long as it is essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice to any issue that may arise in
the case. When such need arises, a final judgment of declaration of nullity is necessary even if the purpose is
other than to remarry. The clause “on the basis of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void” in
Article 40 of the Family Code connoted that such final judgment need not be obtained only for purpose of
remarriage.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, and the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51263
which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City ordering petitioner to pay respondent
the sum of P73,000.00 plus attorney’s fees in the amount of P5,000.00, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
complaint in Civil Case No. Q-93-18632, is hereby DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to costs.1âwphi1.nêt
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), Kapunan, and Pardo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
EN BANC
A.M. No. MTJ-92-706 March 29, 1995
LUPO ALMODIEL ATIENZA, complainant, vs.JUDGE FRANCISCO F. BRILLANTES, JR., Metropolitan Trial
Court, Branch 28, Manila, respondent.
QUIASON, J.:
This is a complaint by Lupo A. Atienza for Gross Immorality and Appearance of Impropriety against Judge
Francisco Brillantes, Jr., Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 20, Manila.
Complainant alleges that he has two children with Yolanda De Castro, who are living together at No. 34 Galaxy
Street, Bel-Air Subdivision, Makati, Metro Manila. He stays in said house, which he purchased in 1987,
whenever he is in Manila.
In December 1991, upon opening the door to his bedroom, he saw respondent sleeping on his (complainant's)
bed. Upon inquiry, he was told by the houseboy that respondent had been cohabiting with De Castro.
Complainant did not bother to wake up respondent and instead left the house after giving instructions to his
houseboy to take care of his children.
Thereafter, respondent prevented him from visiting his children and even alienated the affection of his children
for him.
Complainant claims that respondent is married to one Zenaida Ongkiko with whom he has five children, as
appearing in his 1986 and 1991 sworn statements of assets and liabilities. Furthermore, he alleges that
respondent caused his arrest on January 13, 1992, after he had a heated argument with De Castro inside the
latter's office.
For his part, respondent alleges that complainant was not married to De Castro and that the filing of the
administrative action was related to complainant's claim on the Bel-Air residence, which was disputed by De
Castro.
Respondent denies that he caused complainant's arrest and claims that he was even a witness to the
withdrawal of the complaint for Grave Slander filed by De Castro against complainant. According to him, it was
the sister of De Castro who called the police to arrest complainant.
Respondent also denies having been married to Ongkiko, although he admits having five children with her. He
alleges that while he and Ongkiko went through a marriage ceremony before a Nueva Ecija town mayor on
April 25, 1965, the same was not a valid marriage for lack of a marriage license. Upon the request of the
parents of Ongkiko, respondent went through another marriage ceremony with her in Manila on June 5, 1965.
Again, neither party applied for a marriage license. Ongkiko abandoned respondent 17 years ago, leaving their
children to his care and custody as a single parent.
Respondent claims that when he married De Castro in civil rites in Los Angeles, California on December 4,
1991, he believed, in all good faith and for all legal intents and purposes, that he was single because his first
marriage was solemnized without a license.
Under the Family Code, there must be a judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage before a party
thereto can enter into a second marriage. Article 40 of said Code provides:
The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for the purposes of remarriage on the basis solely
of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
Respondent argues that the provision of Article 40 of the Family Code does not apply to him considering that
his first marriage took place in 1965 and was governed by the Civil Code of the Philippines; while the second
marriage took place in 1991 and governed by the Family Code.
Article 40 is applicable to remarriages entered into after the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3, 1988
regardless of the date of the first marriage. Besides, under Article 256 of the Family Code, said Article is given
"retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in accordance with the
Civil Code or other laws." This is particularly true with Article 40, which is a rule of procedure. Respondent has
not shown any vested right that was impaired by the application of Article 40 to his case.
The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the litigants' rights may not preclude their retroactive

application to pending actions. The retroactive application of procedural laws is not violative of any right of a
person who may feel that he is adversely affected (Gregorio v. Court of Appeals, 26 SCRA 229 [1968]). The
reason is that as a general rule no vested right may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws (Billones v. Court
of Industrial Relations, 14 SCRA 674 [1965]).
Respondent is the last person allowed to invoke good faith. He made a mockery of the institution of marriage
and employed deceit to be able to cohabit with a woman, who beget him five children.
Respondent passed the Bar examinations in 1962 and was admitted to the practice of law in 1963. At the time
he went through the two marriage ceremonies with Ongkiko, he was already a lawyer. Yet, he never secured
any marriage license. Any law student would know that a marriage license is necessary before one can get
married. Respondent was given an opportunity to correct the flaw in his first marriage when he and Ongkiko
were married for the second time. His failure to secure a marriage license on these two occasions betrays his
sinister motives and bad faith.
It is evident that respondent failed to meet the standard of moral fitness for membership in the legal profession.
While the deceit employed by respondent existed prior to his appointment as a Metropolitan Trial Judge, his
immoral and illegal act of cohabiting with De Castro began and continued when he was already in the judiciary.
The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of a judge must be free of a whiff of impropriety, not
only with respect to his performance of his judicial duties but also as to his behavior as a private individual.
There is no duality of morality. A public figure is also judged by his private life. A judge, in order to promote
public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times, in the
performance of his judicial duties and in his everyday life. These are judicial guideposts too self-evident to be
overlooked. No position exacts a greater demand on moral righteousness and uprightness of an individual than
a seat in the judiciary (Imbing v. Tiongzon, 229 SCRA 690 [1994]).
WHEREFORE, respondent is DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all leave and retirement benefits
and with prejudice to reappointment in any branch, instrumentality, or agency of the government, including
government-owned and controlled corporations. This decision is immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan,
Mendoza and Francisco, JJ., concur.

Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 150758

February 18, 2004

VERONICO TENEBRO, petitioner vs.THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
We are called on to decide the novel issue concerning the effect of the judicial declaration of the nullity of a
second or subsequent marriage, on the ground of psychological incapacity, on an individual’s criminal liability
for bigamy. We hold that the subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity does not retroact to the date of the celebration of the marriage insofar as the
Philippines’ penal laws are concerned. As such, an individual who contracts a second or subsequent marriage
during the subsistence of a valid marriage is criminally liable for bigamy, notwithstanding the subsequent
declaration that the second marriage is void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity.
Petitioner in this case, Veronico Tenebro, contracted marriage with private complainant Leticia Ancajas on April
10, 1990. The two were wed by Judge Alfredo B. Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City. Tenebro
and Ancajas lived together continuously and without interruption until the latter part of 1991, when Tenebro
informed Ancajas that he had been previously married to a certain Hilda Villareyes on November 10, 1986.
Tenebro showed Ancajas a photocopy of a marriage contract between him and Villareyes. Invoking this
previous marriage, petitioner thereafter left the conjugal dwelling which he shared with Ancajas, stating that he
was going to cohabit with Villareyes.1
On January 25, 1993, petitioner contracted yet another marriage, this one with a certain Nilda Villegas, before
Judge German Lee, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 15. 2 When Ancajas learned of this third
marriage, she verified from Villareyes whether the latter was indeed married to petitioner. In a handwritten
letter,3 Villareyes confirmed that petitioner, Veronico Tenebro, was indeed her husband.
Ancajas thereafter filed a complaint for bigamy against petitioner.4 The Information,5 which was docketed as
Criminal Case No. 013095-L, reads:
That on the 10th day of April 1990, in the City of Lapu-lapu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the aforenamed accused, having been previously united in lawful marriage with Hilda
Villareyes, and without the said marriage having been legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously contract a second marriage with LETICIA ANCAJAS, which second or subsequent marriage of
the accused has all the essential requisites for validity were it not for the subsisting first marriage.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
When arraigned, petitioner entered a plea of "not guilty".6
During the trial, petitioner admitted having cohabited with Villareyes from 1984-1988, with whom he sired two
children. However, he denied that he and Villareyes were validly married to each other, claiming that no
marriage ceremony took place to solemnize their union. 7 He alleged that he signed a marriage contract merely
to enable her to get the allotment from his office in connection with his work as a seaman. 8 He further testified
that he requested his brother to verify from the Civil Register in Manila whether there was any marriage at all
between him and Villareyes, but there was no record of said marriage.9
On November 10, 1997, the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City, Branch 54, rendered a decision finding the
accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code,
and sentencing him to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years
and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum. 10 On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the
trial court. Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied for lack of merit.
Hence, the instant petition for review on the following assignment of errors:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED, AND THIS ERROR IS CORRECTIBLE IN
THIS APPEAL – WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT A QUO CONVICTING
THE ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE CRIME OF BIGAMY, DESPITE THE NON-EXISTENCE OF THE FIRST
MARRIAGE AND INSUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE.
II. THE COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE CRIME OF BIGAMY DESPITE

CLEAR PROOF THAT THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE ACCUSED AND PRIVATE COMPLAINANT HAD
BEEN DECLARED NULL AND VOID AB INITIO AND WITHOUT LEGAL FORCE AND EFFECT.11
After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find no cogent reason to disturb the assailed judgment.
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, the elements of the crime of Bigamy are:
(1) that the offender has been legally married;
(2) that the first marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent
spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code;
(3) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and
(4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.12
Petitioner’s assignment of errors presents a two-tiered defense, in which he (1) denies the existence of his first
marriage to Villareyes, and (2) argues that the declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground
of psychological incapacity, which is an alleged indicator that his marriage to Ancajas lacks the essential
requisites for validity, retroacts to the date on which the second marriage was celebrated. 13 Hence, petitioner
argues that all four of the elements of the crime of bigamy are absent, and prays for his acquittal.14
Petitioner’s defense must fail on both counts.
First, the prosecution presented sufficient evidence, both documentary and oral, to prove the existence of the
first marriage between petitioner and Villareyes. Documentary evidence presented was in the form of: (1) a
copy of a marriage contract between Tenebro and Villareyes, dated November 10, 1986, which, as seen on the
document, was solemnized at the Manila City Hall before Rev. Julieto Torres, a Minister of the Gospel, and
certified to by the Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila; 15 and (2) a handwritten letter from Villareyes to Ancajas
dated July 12, 1994, informing Ancajas that Villareyes and Tenebro were legally married.16
To assail the veracity of the marriage contract, petitioner presented (1) a certification issued by the National
Statistics Office dated October 7, 1995;17 and (2) a certification issued by the City Civil Registry of Manila,
dated February 3, 1997.18 Both these documents attest that the respective issuing offices have no record of a
marriage celebrated between Veronico B. Tenebro and Hilda B. Villareyes on November 10, 1986.
To our mind, the documents presented by the defense cannot adequately assail the marriage contract, which in
itself would already have been sufficient to establish the existence of a marriage between Tenebro and
Villareyes.
All three of these documents fall in the category of public documents, and the Rules of Court provisions
relevant to public documents are applicable to all. Pertinent to the marriage contract, Section 7 of Rule 130 of
the Rules of Court reads as follows:
Sec. 7. Evidence admissible when original document is a public record. – When the original of a document is in
the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office, its contents may be proved by a certified copy
issued by the public officer in custody thereof (Emphasis ours).
This being the case, the certified copy of the marriage contract, issued by a public officer in custody thereof,
was admissible as the best evidence of its contents. The marriage contract plainly indicates that a marriage
was celebrated between petitioner and Villareyes on November 10, 1986, and it should be accorded the full
faith and credence given to public documents.
Moreover, an examination of the wordings of the certification issued by the National Statistics Office on
October 7, 1995 and that issued by the City Civil Registry of Manila on February 3, 1997 would plainly show
that neither document attests as a positive fact that there was no marriage celebrated between Veronico B.
Tenebro and Hilda B. Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Rather, the documents merely attest that the
respective issuing offices have no record of such a marriage. Documentary evidence as to the absence of a
record is quite different from documentary evidence as to the absence of a marriage ceremony, or
documentary evidence as to the invalidity of the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes.
The marriage contract presented by the prosecution serves as positive evidence as to the existence of the
marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes, which should be given greater credence than documents testifying
merely as to absence of any record of the marriage, especially considering that there is absolutely no
requirement in the law that a marriage contract needs to be submitted to the civil registrar as a condition
precedent for the validity of a marriage. The mere fact that no record of a marriage exists does not invalidate

the marriage, provided all requisites for its validity are present. 19 There is no evidence presented by the
defense that would indicate that the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes lacked any requisite for validity,
apart from the self-serving testimony of the accused himself. Balanced against this testimony are Villareyes’
letter, Ancajas’ testimony that petitioner informed her of the existence of the valid first marriage, and petitioner’s
own conduct, which would all tend to indicate that the first marriage had all the requisites for validity.
Finally, although the accused claims that he took steps to verify the non-existence of the first marriage to
Villareyes by requesting his brother to validate such purported non-existence, it is significant to note that the
certifications issued by the National Statistics Office and the City Civil Registry of Manila are dated October 7,
1995 and February 3, 1997, respectively. Both documents, therefore, are dated after the accused’s marriage to
his second wife, private respondent in this case.
As such, this Court rules that there was sufficient evidence presented by the prosecution to prove the first and
second requisites for the crime of bigamy.
The second tier of petitioner’s defense hinges on the effects of the subsequent judicial declaration20 of the
nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity.
Petitioner argues that this subsequent judicial declaration retroacts to the date of the celebration of the
marriage to Ancajas. As such, he argues that, since his marriage to Ancajas was subsequently declared void
ab initio, the crime of bigamy was not committed.21
This argument is not impressed with merit.
Petitioner makes much of the judicial declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity, invoking Article 36 of the Family Code. What petitioner fails to realize is that a
declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity is of absolutely no
moment insofar as the State’s penal laws are concerned.
As a second or subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of petitioner’s valid marriage to
Villareyes, petitioner’s marriage to Ancajas would be null and void ab initio completely regardless of petitioner’s
psychological capacity or incapacity.22 Since a marriage contracted during the subsistence of a valid marriage
is automatically void, the nullity of this second marriage is not per se an argument for the avoidance of criminal
liability for bigamy. Pertinently, Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code criminalizes "any person who shall
contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the
absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper
proceedings". A plain reading of the law, therefore, would indicate that the provision penalizes the mere act of
contracting a second or a subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage.
Thus, as soon as the second marriage to Ancajas was celebrated on April 10, 1990, during the subsistence of
the valid first marriage, the crime of bigamy had already been consummated. To our mind, there is no cogent
reason for distinguishing between a subsequent marriage that is null and void purely because it is a second or
subsequent marriage, and a subsequent marriage that is null and void on the ground of psychological
incapacity, at least insofar as criminal liability for bigamy is concerned. The State’s penal laws protecting the
institution of marriage are in recognition of the sacrosanct character of this special contract between spouses,
and punish an individual’s deliberate disregard of the permanent character of the special bond between
spouses, which petitioner has undoubtedly done.
Moreover, the declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity is not
an indicator that petitioner’s marriage to Ancajas lacks the essential requisites for validity. The requisites for the
validity of a marriage are classified by the Family Code into essential (legal capacity of the contracting parties
and their consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer) 23 and formal (authority of the
solemnizing officer, marriage license, and marriage ceremony wherein the parties personally declare their
agreement to marry before the solemnizing officer in the presence of at least two witnesses). 24 Under Article 5
of the Family Code, any male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the
impediments mentioned in Articles 3725 and 3826 may contract marriage.27
In this case, all the essential and formal requisites for the validity of marriage were satisfied by petitioner and
Ancajas. Both were over eighteen years of age, and they voluntarily contracted the second marriage with the
required license before Judge Alfredo B. Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City, in the presence of
at least two witnesses.
Although the judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity retroacts
to the date of the celebration of the marriage insofar as the vinculum between the spouses is concerned, it is
significant to note that said marriage is not without legal effects. Among these effects is that children conceived
or born before the judgment of absolute nullity of the marriage shall be considered legitimate. 28 There is
therefore a recognition written into the law itself that such a marriage, although void ab initio, may still produce

legal consequences. Among these legal consequences is incurring criminal liability for bigamy. To hold
otherwise would render the State’s penal laws on bigamy completely nugatory, and allow individuals to
deliberately ensure that each marital contract be flawed in some manner, and to thus escape the
consequences of contracting multiple marriages, while beguiling throngs of hapless women with the promise of
futurity and commitment.
As such, we rule that the third and fourth requisites for the crime of bigamy are present in this case, and affirm
the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
As a final point, we note that based on the evidence on record, petitioner contracted marriage a third time,
while his marriages to Villareyes and Ancajas were both still subsisting. Although this is irrelevant in the
determination of the accused’s guilt for purposes of this particular case, the act of the accused displays a
deliberate disregard for the sanctity of marriage, and the State does not look kindly on such activities. Marriage
is a special contract, the key characteristic of which is its permanence. When an individual manifests a
deliberate pattern of flouting the foundation of the State’s basic social institution, the State’s criminal laws on
bigamy step in.
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the penalty for the crime of bigamy is prision
mayor, which has a duration of six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years. There being neither
aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, the same shall be imposed in its medium period. Applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, petitioner shall be entitled to a minimum term, to be taken from the penalty next
lower in degree, i.e., prision correccional which has a duration of six (6) months and one (1) day to six (6)
years. Hence, the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the decision of the trial court which sentenced petitioner
to suffer an indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to
eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition for review is DENIED. The assailed decision of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 21636, convicting petitioner Veronico Tenebro of the crime of Bigamy
and sentencing him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision
correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum, is AFFIRMED in
toto.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

Republic of the PhilippinesSUPREME COURTManila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 137110

August 1, 2000

VINCENT PAUL G. MERCADO a.k.a. VINCENT G. MERCADO, petitioner, vs.CONSUELO TAN, respondent.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is necessary before a subsequent one can be legally
contracted. One who enters into a subsequent marriage without first obtaining such judicial declaration is guilty
of bigamy. This principle applies even if the earlier union is characterized by statute as "void."
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the July 14, 1998 Decision of the Court of Appeals
(CA)1 in CA-GR CR No. 19830 and its January 4, 1999 Resolution denying reconsideration. The assailed
Decision affirmed the ruling of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bacolod City in Criminal Case No. 13848,
which convicted herein petitioner of bigamy as follows:
"WHEREFORE, finding the guilt of accused Dr. Vincent Paul G. Mercado a.k.a. Dr. Vincent G. Mercado of the
crime of Bigamy punishable under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code to have been proven beyond
reasonable doubt, [the court hereby renders] judgment imposing upon him a prison term of three (3) years,
four (4) months and fifteen (15) days of prision correccional, as minimum of his indeterminate sentence, to
eight (8) years and twenty-one (21) days of prision mayor, as maximum, plus accessory penalties provided by
law.
Costs against accused."2
The Facts
The facts are quoted by Court of Appeals (CA) from the trial court’s judgment, as follows: "From the evidence
adduced by the parties, there is no dispute that accused Dr. Vincent Mercado and complainant Ma. Consuelo
Tan got married on June 27, 1991 before MTCC-Bacolod City Br. 7 Judge Gorgonio J. Ibañez [by reason of]
which a Marriage Contract was duly executed and signed by the parties. As entered in said document, the
status of accused was ‘single’. There is no dispute either that at the time of the celebration of the wedding with
complainant, accused was actually a married man, having been in lawful wedlock with Ma. Thelma Oliva in a
marriage ceremony solemnized on April 10, 1976 by Judge Leonardo B. Cañares, CFI-Br. XIV, Cebu City per
Marriage Certificate issued in connection therewith, which matrimony was further blessed by Rev. Father
Arthur Baur on October 10, 1976 in religious rites at the Sacred Heart Church, Cebu City. In the same manner,
the civil marriage between accused and complainant was confirmed in a church ceremony on June 29, 1991
officiated by Msgr. Victorino A. Rivas, Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Bacolod City. Both marriages were
consummated when out of the first consortium, Ma. Thelma Oliva bore accused two children, while a child,
Vincent Paul, Jr. was sired by accused with complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan.
"On October 5, 1992, a letter-complaint for bigamy was filed by complainant through counsel with the City
Prosecutor of Bacolod City, which eventually resulted [in] the institution of the present case before this Court
against said accused, Dr. Vincent G. Mercado, on March 1, 1993 in an Information dated January 22, 1993.
"On November 13, 1992, or more than a month after the bigamy case was lodged in the Prosecutor’s Office,
accused filed an action for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage against Ma. Thelma V. Oliva in RTC-Br. 22, Cebu
City, and in a Decision dated May 6, 1993 the marriage between Vincent G. Mercado and Ma. Thelma V. Oliva
was declared null and void.
"Accused is charged [with] bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code for having contracted a
second marriage with herein complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan on June 27, 1991 when at that time he was
previously united in lawful marriage with Ma. Thelma V. Oliva on April 10, 1976 at Cebu City, without said first
marriage having been legally dissolved. As shown by the evidence and admitted by accused, all the essential
elements of the crime are present, namely: (a) that the offender has been previously legally married; (2) that
the first marriage has not been legally dissolved or in case the spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not
yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (3) that he contract[ed] a second or subsequent marriage;
and (4) that the second or subsequent marriage ha[d] all the essential requisites for validity. x x x
"While acknowledging the existence of the two marriage[s], accused posited the defense that his previous
marriage ha[d] been judicially declared null and void and that the private complainant had knowledge of the

first marriage of accused.
"It is an admitted fact that when the second marriage was entered into with Ma. Consuelo Tan on June 27,
1991, accused’s prior marriage with Ma. Thelma V. Oliva was subsisting, no judicial action having yet been
initiated or any judicial declaration obtained as to the nullity of such prior marriage with Ma. Thelma V. Oliva.
Since no declaration of the nullity of his first marriage ha[d] yet been made at the time of his second marriage,
it is clear that accused was a married man when he contracted such second marriage with complainant on
June 27, 1991. He was still at the time validly married to his first wife."3
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Agreeing with the lower court, the Court of Appeals stated:
"Under Article 40 of the Family Code, ‘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.’ But here, the final
judgment declaring null and void accused’s previous marriage came not before the celebration of the second
marriage, but after, when the case for bigamy against accused was already tried in court. And what constitutes
the crime of bigamy is the act of any person who shall contract a second subsequent marriage ‘before’ the
former marriage has been legally dissolved."4
Hence, this Petition.5
The Issues
In his Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues:
"A
Whether or not the element of previous legal marriage is present in order to convict petitioner.
"B
Whether or not a liberal interpretation in favor of petitioner of Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code punishing
bigamy, in relation to Articles 36 and 40 of the Family Code, negates the guilt of petitioner.
"C
Whether or not petitioner is entitled to an acquittal on the basis of reasonable doubt."6
The Court’s Ruling
The Petition is not meritorious.
Main Issue:Effect of Nullity of Previous Marriage
Petitioner was convicted of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, which provides:
"The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent
marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been
declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings."
The elements of this crime are as follows:
"1. That the offender has been legally married;
2. That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse
could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code;
3. That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage;
4. That the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity."7
When the Information was filed on January 22, 1993, all the elements of bigamy were present. It is undisputed
that petitioner married Thelma G. Oliva on April 10, 1976 in Cebu City. While that marriage was still subsisting,
he contracted a second marriage, this time with Respondent Ma. Consuelo Tan who subsequently filed the

Complaint for bigamy.
Petitioner contends, however, that he obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage under Article
36 of the Family Code, thereby rendering it void ab initio. Unlike voidable marriages which are considered valid
until set aside by a competent court, he argues that a void marriage is deemed never to have taken place at
all.8 Thus, he concludes that there is no first marriage to speak of. Petitioner also quotes the commentaries 9 of
former Justice Luis Reyes that "it is now settled that if the first marriage is void from the beginning, it is a
defense in a bigamy charge. But if the first marriage is voidable, it is not a defense."
Respondent, on the other hand, admits that the first marriage was declared null and void under Article 36 of the
Family Code, but she points out that that declaration came only after the Information had been filed. Hence, by
then, the crime had already been consummated. She argues that a judicial declaration of nullity of a void
previous marriage must be obtained before a person can marry for a subsequent time.
We agree with the respondent.
To be sure, jurisprudence regarding the need for a judicial declaration of nullity of the previous marriage has
been characterized as "conflicting."10 In People v. Mendoza,11 a bigamy case involving an accused who married
three times, the Court ruled that there was no need for such declaration. In that case, the accused contracted a
second marriage during the subsistence of the first. When the first wife died, he married for the third time. The
second wife then charged him with bigamy. Acquitting him, the Court held that the second marriage was void
ab initio because it had been contracted while the first marriage was still in effect. Since the second marriage
was obviously void and illegal, the Court ruled that there was no need for a judicial declaration of its nullity.
Hence, the accused did not commit bigamy when he married for the third time. This ruling was affirmed by the
Court in People v. Aragon,12 which involved substantially the same facts.
But in subsequent cases, the Court impressed the need for a judicial declaration of nullity. In Vda de
Consuegra v. GSIS,13 Jose Consuegra married for the second time while the first marriage was still subsisting.
Upon his death, the Court awarded one half of the proceeds of his retirement benefits to the first wife and the
other half to the second wife and her children, notwithstanding the manifest nullity of the second marriage. It
held: "And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court observes that although the second marriage
can be presumed to be void ab initio as it was celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there
is need for judicial declaration of such nullity."
In Tolentino v. Paras,14 however, the Court again held that judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage was
not necessary. In that case, a man married twice. In his Death Certificate, his second wife was named as his
surviving spouse. The first wife then filed a Petition to correct the said entry in the Death Certificate. The Court
ruled in favor of the first wife, holding that "the second marriage that he contracted with private respondent
during the lifetime of the first spouse is null and void from the beginning and of no force and effect. No judicial
decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of a void marriage."
In Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy,15 the Court stressed the need for such declaration. In that case, Karl Heinz Wiegel
filed an action for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lilia Olivia Wiegel on the ground that the latter had
a prior existing marriage. After pretrial, Lilia asked that she be allowed to present evidence to prove, among
others, that her first husband had previously been married to another woman. In holding that there was no
need for such evidence, the Court ruled: "x x x There is likewise no need of introducing evidence about the
existing prior marriage of her first husband at the time they married each other, for then such a marriage
though void still needs, according to this Court, a judicial declaration of such fact and for all legal intents and
purposes she would still be regarded as a married woman at the time she contracted her marriage with
respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel; x x x."
Subsequently, in Yap v. CA,16 the Court reverted to the ruling in People v. Mendoza, holding that there was no
need for such declaration of nullity.
In Domingo v. CA,17 the issue raised was whether a judicial declaration of nullity was still necessary for the
recovery and the separation of properties of erstwhile spouses. Ruling in the affirmative, the Court declared:
"The Family Code has settled once and for all the conflicting jurisprudence on the matter. A declaration of the
absolute nullity of a marriage is now explicitly required either as a cause of action or a ground for defense; in
fact, the requirement for a declaration of absolute nullity of a marriage is also for the protection of the spouse
who, believing that his or her marriage is illegal and void, marries again. With the judicial declaration of the
nullity of his or her first marriage, the person who marries again cannot be charged with bigamy." 18
Unlike Mendoza and Aragon, Domingo as well as the other cases herein cited was not a criminal prosecution
for bigamy. Nonetheless, Domingo underscored the need for a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage
on the basis of a new provision of the Family Code, which came into effect several years after the promulgation
of Mendoza and Aragon.

In Mendoza and Aragon, the Court relied on Section 29 of Act No. 3613 (Marriage Law), which provided:
"Illegal marriages. — Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of the first
spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance, unless:
(a) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved;
(b) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the second marriage without
the spouse present having news of the absentee being alive, or the absentee being generally considered as
dead and believed to be so by the spouse present at the time of contracting such subsequent marriage, the
marriage as contracted being valid in either case until declared null and void by a competent court."
The Court held in those two cases that the said provision "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 annulable marriages."19
The provision appeared in substantially the same form under Article 83 of the 1950 Civil Code and Article 41 of
the Family Code. However, Article 40 of the Family Code, a new provision, expressly requires a judicial
declaration of nullity of the previous marriage, as follows:
"ART. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis
solely of a final judgment declaring such marriage void."
In view of this provision, Domingo stressed that a final judgment declaring such marriage void was necessary.
Verily, the Family Code and Domingo affirm the earlier ruling in Wiegel. Thus, a Civil Law authority and
member of the Civil Code Revision Commitee has observed:
"[Article 40] is also in line with the recent decisions of the Supreme Court that the marriage of a person may be
null and void but there is need of a judicial declaration of such fact before that person can marry again;
otherwise, the second marriage will also be void (Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy, Aug. 19/86, 143 SCRA 499, Vda. De
Consuegra v. GSIS, 37 SCRA 315). This provision changes the old rule that where a marriage is illegal and
void from its performance, no judicial decree is necessary to establish its validity (People v. Mendoza, 95 Phil.
843; People v. Aragon, 100 Phil. 1033)."20
In this light, the statutory mooring of the ruling in Mendoza and Aragon – that there is no need for a judicial
declaration of nullity of a void marriage -- has been cast aside by Article 40 of the Family Code. Such
declaration is now necessary before one can contract a second marriage. Absent that declaration, we hold that
one may be charged with and convicted of bigamy.
The present ruling is consistent with our pronouncement in Terre v. Terre,21 which involved an administrative
Complaint against a lawyer for marrying twice. In rejecting the lawyer’s argument that he was free to enter into
a second marriage because the first one was void ab initio, the Court ruled: "for purposes of determining
whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was
null and void ab initio is essential." The Court further noted that the said rule was "cast into statutory form by
Article 40 of the Family Code." Significantly, it observed that the second marriage, contracted without a judicial
declaration that the first marriage was void, was "bigamous and criminal in character."
Moreover, Justice Reyes, an authority in Criminal Law whose earlier work was cited by petitioner, changed his
view on the subject in view of Article 40 of the Family Code and wrote in 1993 that a person must first obtain a
judicial declaration of the nullity of a void marriage before contracting a subsequent marriage: 22
"It is now settled that the fact that the first marriage is void from the beginning is not a defense in a bigamy
charge. As with a voidable marriage, there must be a judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage before
contracting the second marriage. Article 40 of the Family Code states that x x x. The Code Commission
believes that the parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that their marriage is void, even if such
is the fact, but must first secure a judicial declaration of nullity of their marriage before they should be allowed
to marry again. x x x."
In the instant case, petitioner contracted a second marriage although there was yet no judicial declaration of
nullity of his first marriage. In fact, he instituted the Petition to have the first marriage declared void only after
complainant had filed a letter-complaint charging him with bigamy. By contracting a second marriage while the
first was still subsisting, he committed the acts punishable under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.
That he subsequently obtained a judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage was immaterial. To
repeat, the crime had already been consummated by then. Moreover, his view effectively encourages delay in
the prosecution of bigamy cases; an accused could simply file a petition to declare his previous marriage void

and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial question in the criminal case. We cannot allow that.
Under the circumstances of the present case, he is guilty of the charge against him.
Damages
In her Memorandum, respondent prays that the Court set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeals insofar as it
denied her claim of damages and attorney’s fees.23
Her prayer has no merit. She did not appeal the ruling of the CA against her; hence, she cannot obtain
affirmative relief from this Court.24 In any event, we find no reason to reverse or set aside the pertinent ruling of
the CA on this point, which we quote hereunder:
"We are convinced from the totality of the evidence presented in this case that Consuelo Tan is not the
innocent victim that she claims to be; she was well aware of the existence of the previous marriage when she
contracted matrimony with Dr. Mercado. The testimonies of the defense witnesses prove this, and we find no
reason to doubt said testimonies.
xxx

xxx

xxx

"Indeed, the claim of Consuelo Tan that she was not aware of his previous marriage does not inspire belief,
especially as she had seen that Dr. Mercado had two (2) children with him. We are convinced that she took the
plunge anyway, relying on the fact that the first wife would no longer return to Dr. Mercado, she being by then
already living with another man.
"Consuelo Tan can therefore not claim damages in this case where she was fully conscious of the
consequences of her act. She should have known that she would suffer humiliation in the event the truth
[would] come out, as it did in this case, ironically because of her personal instigation. If there are indeed
damages caused to her reputation, they are of her own willful making."25
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.

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