Rep of the Phil v. Quintero -Hamano : 149498 : May 20, 2004 : J. Corona
: Third Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 149498 : May
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. LOLITA
D E C I S I O N
Before us is a Petition for Review of the decision1 dated
August 20, 2001 of the Court of Appeals2 affirming the decision3 dated August 28, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Rizal, Branch 72,
declaring as null and void the marriage contracted between herein respondent
Lolita M. Quintero-Hamano and her husband Toshio Hamano.
On June 17, 1996,
respondent Lolita Quintero-Hamano filed a complaint for declaration of nullity
of her marriage to her husband Toshio Hamano, a Japanese national, on the
ground of psychological incapacity.
Respondent alleged that in October 1986, she and Toshio started a
common-law relationship in Japan.
They later lived in the Philippines
for a month.
Thereafter, Toshio went
back to Japan
and stayed there for half of 1987. On November
16, 1987, she gave birth to their child.
On January 14, 1988, she and Toshio were married by Judge Isauro
M. Balderia of the Municipal Trial Court of Bacoor, Cavite.
Unknown to respondent, Toshio was
psychologically incapacitated to assume his marital responsibilities, which
incapacity became manifest only after the marriage.One month after their marriage, Toshio returned to Japan and
promised to return by Christmas to celebrate the holidays with his family.
After sending money to respondent for two
months, Toshio stopped giving financial support.She wrote him several times but he never responded.
Sometime in 1991, respondent learned from
her friends that Toshio visited the Philippines but he did not bother to see
her and their child.
The summons issued to Toshio remained unserved because he was no
longer residing at his given address.
Consequently, on July 8, 1996, respondent filed an ex parte
motion for leave to effect service of summons by publication. The trial court
granted the motion on July 12, 1996. In August 1996, the summons, accompanied
by a copy of the petition, was published in a newspaper of general circulation
giving Toshio 15 days to file his answer.
Because Toshio failed to file a responsive pleading after the lapse of
60 days from publication, respondent filed a motion dated November 5, 1996 to
refer the case to the prosecutor for investigation. The trial court granted the
motion on November 7, 1996.
On November 20, 1996, prosecutor Rolando I. Gonzales filed a
report finding that no collusion existed between the parties.
He prayed that the Office of the Provincial
Prosecutor be allowed to intervene to ensure that the evidence submitted was
On February 13, 1997,
the trial court granted respondents motion to present her evidence ex
parte. She then testified on how Toshio abandoned his family.
She thereafter offered documentary evidence
to support her testimony.
On August 28, 1997, the trial court rendered a decision, the
dispositive portion of which read:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the marriage between petitioner
Lolita M. Quintero-Hamano and Toshio Hamano, is hereby declared NULL and VOID.
The Civil Register of Bacoor, Cavite and the National Statistics
Office are ordered to make proper entries into the records of the afore-named
parties pursuant to this judgment of the Court.
SO ORDERED.4 cralawred
In declaring the nullity of the marriage on the ground of
Toshios psychological incapacity, the trial court held that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
It is clear from the records of the case that respondent spouses
failed to fulfill his obligations as husband of the petitioner and father to
his daughter. Respondent remained irresponsible and unconcerned over the needs
and welfare of his family. Such indifference, to the mind of the Court, is a
clear manifestation of insensitivity and lack of respect for his wife and child
which characterizes a very immature person. Certainly, such behavior could be
traced to respondents mental incapacity and disability of entering into
marital life.5 cralawred
The Office of the Solicitor General, representing herein
petitioner Republic of the Philippines, appealed to the Court of Appeals but
the same was denied in a decision dated August 28, 1997, the dispositive
portion of which read:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, and pursuant to
applicable law and jurisprudence on the matter and evidence on hand, judgment
is hereby rendered denying the instant appeal. The decision of the court
a quo is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.6 cralawred
The appellate court found that Toshio left respondent and their
daughter a month after the celebration of the marriage, and returned to Japan
with the promise to support his family and take steps to make them Japanese
But except for two months, he
never sent any support to nor communicated with them despite the letters
He even visited the
Philippines but he did not bother to see them.
Respondent, on the other hand, exerted all efforts to contact Toshio, to
The appellate court thus concluded that respondent was
psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations to his family, and to observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and
support pursuant to Article 68 of the Family Code of the Philippines.
The appellate court rhetorically asked:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
But what is there to preserve when the other spouse is an unwilling
party to the cohesion and creation of a family as a social inviolable
institution? Why should petitioner be made to suffer in a marriage where the
other spouse is not around and worse, left them without even helping them cope
up with family life and assist in the upbringing of their daughter as required
under Articles 68 to 71 of the Family Code?7 cralawred
The appellate court emphasized that this case could not be
equated with Republic v. Court of
Appeals and Molina 8 and Santos v. Court of
Appeals.9 In those cases, the spouses were Filipinos while this case involved a mixed
marriage, the husband being a Japanese national.
Hence, this appeal by petitioner
Republic based on this lone
assignment of error:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
The Court of Appeals erred in holding that respondent was able to
prove the psychological incapacity of Toshio Hamano to perform his marital
obligations, despite respondents failure to comply with the guidelines laid
down in the Molina case.10 cralawred
According to petitioner, mere abandonment by Toshio of his family
and his insensitivity to them did not automatically constitute psychological
His behavior merely
indicated simple inadequacy in the personality of a spouse falling short of
reasonable expectations. Respondent failed to prove any severe and incurable
personality disorder on the part of Toshio, in accordance with the guidelines
set in Molina.
The Office of the Public Attorney, representing respondent,
reiterated the ruling of the courts a quo and sought the denial
of the instant petition.
We rule in favor of petitioner.
The Court is mindful of the policy of the 1987 Constitution to
protect and strengthen the family as the basic autonomous social institution
and marriage as the foundation of the family.11 Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage.12 cralawred
Respondent seeks to annul her marriage with Toshio on the ground
of psychological incapacity.
of the Family Code of the Philippines
Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the
celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity
becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
In Molina, we came up with the following guidelines in the
interpretation and application of Article 36 for the guidance of the bench and
(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs
to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the existence and
continuation of the marriage and against its dissolution and nullity. This is
rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity
of marriage and unity of the family. x x x
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a)
medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c)
sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the decision.
Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be
psychological - not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may
be physical. The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of
them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an extent that the person could
not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could not have
given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity need be
given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the
principle of ejusdem generis (Salita v. Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100, June
nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological
illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be
given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at the time of
the celebration of the marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was
existing when the parties exchanged their I dos. The manifestation of the
illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the illness itself must have
attached at such moment, or prior thereto.
(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or
clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even
relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolutely against
everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the
assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to
marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a
pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and
prescribing medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to
procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability
of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, mild
characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts
cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown as downright
incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill
will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the
person, an adverse integral element in the personality structure that
effectively incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby
complying with the obligations essential to marriage.
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by
Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well
as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in regard to parents and their
children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also be stated in the
petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision.
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial
Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines,
while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts.
x x x
(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal
and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall
be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a certification, which will
be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for his
agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The
Solicitor-General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the
court such certification within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is
deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor-General shall
discharge the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated
under Canon 1095.13 (emphasis supplied)
The guidelines incorporate the three basic requirements earlier
mandated by the Court in Santos:
psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity (b) juridical
antecedence and (c) incurability.14 The foregoing guidelines do not require that a physician examine the person to
be declared psychologically incapacitated.
In fact, the root cause may be medically or clinically identified.
What is important is the presence of evidence that can adequately establish the
partys psychological condition.
indeed, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of
psychological incapacity, then actual medical examination of the person concerned
need not be resorted to.15 cralawred
We now proceed to determine whether respondent successfully
proved Toshios psychological incapacity to fulfill his marital
Petitioner showed that Toshio failed to meet his duty to live
with, care for and support his family.
He abandoned them a month after his marriage to respondent.
Respondent sent him several letters but he
never replied. He made a trip to the Philippines
but did not care at all to see his family.
We find that the totality of evidence presented fell short of
proving that Toshio was psychologically incapacitated to assume his marital
Toshios act of
abandonment was doubtlessly irresponsible but it was never alleged nor proven
to be due to some kind of psychological illness.After respondent testified on how Toshio abandoned his family, no
other evidence was presented showing that his behavior was caused by a
Although, as a
rule, there was no need for an actual medical examination, it would have greatly
helped respondents case had she presented evidence that medically or
clinically identified his illness.
could have been done through an expert witness.This respondent did not do.
We must remember that abandonment is also a ground for legal
separation.16 There was no showing that the case at bar was not just an instance of
abandonment in the context of legal separation.We cannot presume psychological defect from the mere fact that
Toshio abandoned his family immediately after the celebration of the
As we ruled in Molina,
it is not enough to prove that a spouse failed to meet his responsibility and
duty as a married person; it is essential that he must be shown to be incapable
of doing so due to some psychological, not physical, illness.17 There was no proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an
adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively
incapacitates a person from accepting and complying with the obligations
essential to marriage.18 cralawred
According to the appellate court, the requirements in Molina and Santos do not apply here
because the present case involves a mixed marriage, the husband being a
We disagree. In
proving psychological incapacity, we find no distinction between an alien
spouse and a Filipino spouse. We cannot be lenient in the application of the
rules merely because the spouse alleged to be psychologically incapacitated
happens to be a foreign national.
and clinical rules to determine psychological incapacity were formulated on the
basis of studies of human behavior in general.
Hence, the norms used for determining psychological incapacity should
apply to any person regardless of nationality.
In Pesca v. Pesca,
Court declared that marriage is an inviolable social institution that the State
cherishes and protects.
commiserate with respondent, terminating her marriage to her husband may not
necessarily be the fitting denouement.
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is hereby GRANTED. The
decision dated August 28, 1997
of the Court of Appeals is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Vitug, (Chairman and Acting Chief Justice),
Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, and concurred in by Associate
Justices Cancio C. Garcia and Hilarion Aquino; Rollo, pp. 24-31.
3 Penned by Judge Rogelio Angeles; Rollo, pp. 32-33.
11 Article II, Section 12; and, Article XV, Sections 1 & 2 of the 1987
Note 8, pp. 209-212.
16 Article 55 (10) of the Family Code of the Philippines
Art. 55. A petition for legal
separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:
(10) Abandonment of petitioner by
respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.
Note 8, p. 210.
SCRA 588, 594 .
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