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G.R. No.

104818 September 17, 1993

ROBERTO DOMINGO, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and DELIA SOLEDAD AVERA represented by her Attorney-in-Fact
MOISES R. AVERA, respondents.

FACTS: On May 29, 1991, private respondent Delia Soledad A. Domingo filed a petition before
the Regional Trial Court of Pasig entitled "Declaration of Nullity of Marriage and Separation of
Property" against petitioner Roberto Domingo.

Petitioner Roberto Domingo and respondent Delia Avera were married on November 29, 1976.

Unknown to the respondent, petitioner had a previous marriage with one Emerlina dela Paz on
April 25, 1969 which marriage is valid and still existing. She came to know of the prior marriage
only sometime in 1983 when Emerlina dela Paz sued them for bigamy

Respondent is working in Saudi and one time when she had a vacation leave, she discovered
that the petitioner is cohabiting with another woman and is disposing some of her properties w/o
her knowledge and consent. Roberto is unemployed and completely dependent upon the
respondent for support and subsistence. Out of respondent’s personal earnings, she purchased
real and personal properties with a total amount of approximately P350,000.00, which are under
the possession and administration of Roberto

Thereafter respondent appointed her brother Moises R. Avera as her attorney-in-fact to take
care of her properties but Roberto failed and refused to turn over the possession and
administration of said properties to her brother/attorney-in-fact’

The respondent in her petition prayed that a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary
injunction be issued enjoining Roberto from exercising any act of administration and ownership
over said properties; their marriage be declared null and void and of no force and effect; and
Delia Soledad be declared the sole and exclusive owner of all properties acquired at the time of
their void marriage and such properties be placed under the proper management and
administration of the attorney-in-fact.

Petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the petition stated no cause of action.
The marriage being void ab initio, the petition for the declaration of its nullity is, therefore,
superfluous and unnecessary. It added that private respondent has no property which is in his
possession. Petitioner invoked that Article 40 applies only for the sole purpose of remarriage.

RTC and CA denied motion to dismiss, hence, this appeal

ISSUE: WON judicial declaration of the nullity of marriage can be invoked not only for the sole
purpose of remarriage, but also in order to provide a basis for the separation and distribution of
the properties acquired during coventure.
RULING: Yes. Petition dismissed. The court ruled that Article 40 denotes that such final
judgment declaring the previous marriage void need not be obtained only for purposes of
remarriage. Respondent's ultimate prayer for separation of property will simply be one of the
necessary consequences of the judicial declaration of absolute nullity of their marriage. The
Family Code has clearly provided the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage, one of
which is the separation of property according to the regime of property relations governing them.

The declaration of the nullity of marriage is indeed required for purposed of


remarriage. However, it is also necessary for the protection of the subsequent spouse who
believed in good faith that his or her partner was not lawfully married marries the same. With
this, the said person is freed from being charged with bigamy.

When a marriage is declared void ab initio, law states that final judgment shall provide for the
liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody and support of
the common children and the delivery of their presumptive legitimes, unless such matters had
been adjudicated in previous judicial proceedings. Soledad’s prayer for separation of property
will simply be the necessary consequence of the judicial declaration of absolute nullity of their
marriage. Hence, the petitioner’s suggestion that for their properties be separated, an ordinary
civil action has to be instituted for that purpose is baseless. The Family Code has clearly
provided the effects of the declaration of nullity of marriage, one of which is the separation of
property according to the regime of property relations governing them.

G.R. No. 200233, July 15, 2015

LEONILA G. SANTIAGO v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

FACTS:
The prosecution adduced evidence that Santos, who had been married to Estela Galang, asked
petitioner to marry him. Petitioner, who was a 43-year-old widow then, married Santos. Four
months after the solemnization of their marriage, Leonila G. Santiago and Nicanor F. Santos
faced an Information for bigamy. Petitioner pleaded "not guilty," while her putative husband
escaped the criminal suit.

Petitioner asserted that she could not be included as an accused in the crime of bigamy,
because she had been under the belief that Santos was still single when they got married. She
also averred that for there to be a conviction for bigamy, his second marriage to her should be
proven valid by the prosecution; but in this case, she argued that their marriage was void due to
the lack of a marriage license.

Eleven years after the inception of this criminal case, the first wife, Estela Galang, testified for
the prosecution. She alleged that she had met petitioner on which occasions the former
introduced herself as the legal wife of Santos. Petitioner denied this allegation and averred that
she met Galang only or after she had already married Santos.

The RTC appreciated the undisputed fact that petitioner married Santos during the subsistence
of his marriage to Galang. Petitioner moved for reconsideration which was denied. On appeal,
the CA gave more weight to the prosecution witnesses' narration.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the second marriage of Santiago valid, for there to be a conviction for bigamy?

RULING:
YES. It is clear that the marriage between petitioner and Santos took place without a marriage
license. The absence of this requirement is purportedly explained in their Certificate of Marriage,
which reveals that their union was celebrated under Article 34 of the Family Code, which
provides an exemption from the requirement of a marriage license if the parties have actually
lived together as husband and wife for at least five years prior to the celebration of their
marriage.

Santiago and Santos, however, reflected the exact opposite of this fact. Although the records do
not show that they submitted an affidavit of cohabitation as required by Article 34 of the Family
Code, it appears that the two of them lied before the solemnizing officer and misrepresented
that they had actually cohabited for at least five years before they married each other.

The Certificate of Marriage, signed by Santos and Santiago, contained the misrepresentation
perpetrated by them that they were eligible to contract marriage without a license. Petitioner
now seeks to be acquitted of bigamy based on her illegal actions of (1) marrying Santos without
a marriage license despite knowing that they had not satisfied the cohabitation requirement
under the law; and (2) falsely making claims in no less than her marriage contract.

In violation of our law against illegal marriages, petitioner married Santos while knowing full well
that they had not yet complied with the five-year cohabitation requirement under Article 34 of the
Family Code. It will be the height of absurdity for this Court to allow petitioner to use her illegal
act to escape criminal conviction.

No less than the present Constitution provides that "marriage, as an inviolable social institution,
is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State." It must be safeguarded from
the whims and caprices of the contracting parties. In keeping therefore with this fundamental
policy, this Court affirms the conviction of petitioner for bigamy.

Lupo Atienza v. Judge Francisco F. Brillantes, Jr.

FACTS:

Lupo Atienza filed an administrative complaint for Gross Immorality and Appearance of
Impropriety against Judge Brillantes of MTC Manila.

Atienza alleged that Judge Brillantes has been cohabiting with Yolanda De Castro, with whom
Atienza has two (2) children, when Brillantes is married to one Zenaida Ongkiko, with whom
Judge Brillantes has five (5) children.

Respondent alleges that complainant was not married to De Castro and denies having been
married to Ongkiko, although he admits having children with her. Respondent alleges that while
he and Ongkiko went through a marriage ceremony before a Nueva Ecija town mayor on 1965,
the same was not a valid for lack of a marriage license. Their second marriage ceremony in
Manila the same year is also void because, again, neither party applied for marriage license.
Ongkiko abandoned respondent 19 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 California on 1991, he
believed, in all good faith and for all legal intents and purposes, that he was single. He argues
that Article 40 of the Family Code does not apply to him considering that his first marriage with
Ongkiko took place in 1965 and was governed by the Civil Code of the Philippines; while his
second marriage with De Castro took place in 1991 and governed by the Family Code.

RULING: Article 40 of the Family Code applies to Judge Brillantes. Under Article 40 of 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. The said article is a rule of procedure which is
applicable to remarriages entered into after its effectivity on 1988 regardless of the date of the
first marriage. The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the litigants’ rights may
not preclude their retroactive application to pending actions.

Article 40 of Family Code is applicable to remarriages entered into after its effectivity on 1988
regardless of the date of the first marriage. Under Article 256 of the Family Code, Article 40 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 retroactive application of procedural law is not violative
of any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected. (Gregorio v. CA) The facts
that procedural statutes may somehow affect the litigants’ rights may not preclude their
retroactive application of pending actions. The reason is that as a general rule no vested right
may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws. (Billones v. Court of Insutrial Relations)

Respondent failed to meet the standards of moral fitness for membership in the legal
profession. Therefore, he 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.

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.

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.

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.

G.R. No. 137567 June 20, 2000


MEYNARDO L. BELTRAN, petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and HON. JUDGE FLORENTINO TUAZON, JR., being the
Judge of the RTC, Brach 139, Makati City, respondents.

FACTS

Petitioner Meynardo Beltran and wife Charmaine E. Felix were married on June 16, 1973 at the
Immaculate Concepcion Parish Church in Cubao, Quezon City. After twenty-four years of
marriage and having of four children, petitioner filed in RTC of Quezon City a petition for nullity
of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity. In the answer of the wife to the said
petition, she alleges that the petitioner is the one that abandoned their conjugal home and lived
with another woman. She also filed a criminal complaint of concubinage against his husband
and other woman in the City Prosecutor’s Office of Makati, who also found a probable cause
and ordered a filing against them. The petitioner, in order to prevent the issuance of a warrant of
arrest, filed a Motion to Defer Proceedings Including the Issuance of Warrant of Arrest in the
criminal case. He discussed that the pendency for the civil case for declaration of nullity of his
marriage posed a prejudicial question to the determination of criminal case. The petition had
been denied by Judge Alden Vasquez Cervantes and the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration
of the denial of the said order likewise denied. The petitioner went to RTC of Makati and
questioned the Orders issued by Judge Cervantes, he is praying for the issuance of writ of
preliminary injunction, he again been denied for the petition for certiorari and said court issued
another order denying his motion for reconsideration. Petitioner then filed the instant petition for
review.

ISSUE

Whether or not the absolute nullity of a previous marriage be invoked as a prejudicial question
in the case at bar

RULLING

The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid conflicting decisions. It has
two (2) essential elements: a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the
issue raised in the criminal action; and b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not
the criminal action may proceed.

The pendency of the case for declaration of nullity of petitioner’s marriage is not a prejudicial
question to the concubinage case. For a civil case to be considered prejudicial to a criminal
action as to cause the suspension of the latter pending the final determination of the civil case, it
must appear not only that the said civil case involves the same facts upon which the criminal
prosecution would be based, but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the
aforesaid civil action, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined.

In DOMINGO vs. COURT OF APPEALS ( 226 SCRA 572) , the SC ruled that the import of
Article 40 of the Family Code is that for purposes of remarriage, the only legally acceptable
bases for declaring a previous marriage an absolute nullity is a final judgment declaring such
previous marriage void, whereas, for purposes of other than remarriage, other evidence is
acceptable.

So, that in a case for concubinage, the accused, like the herein petitioner need not present a
final judgment declaring his marriage void for he can adduce evidence in the criminal case of
the nullity of his marriage other than proof of a final judgment declaring his marriage void for he
can adduce evidence in the criminal case of the nullity of his marriage other than proof of a final
judgment declaring his marriage void.

With regard to petitioner’s argument that he could be acquitted of the charge of concubinage
should his marriage be declared null and void, suffice it to state that even a subsequent
pronouncement that his marriage is void from the beginning is not a defense.

Analogous to this case is that of LANDICHO VS. RELOVA ( 22 SCRA 731), cited in DONATO
VS. LUNA (160 SCRA 441), where the SC held that: “xxx Assuming that the first marriage was
null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner, that fact would not be material to the outcome
of the criminal case. Parties to the marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its
nullity, for the same must be submitted to the judgment of the competent courts and only when
the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such
declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists. Therefore, he who contracts a second
marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage assumes the risk of being
prosecuted for bigamy.

Thus, in the case at bar it must also be held that parties to the marriage should not be permitted
to judge for themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted to the judgment of the
competent courts and only when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void,
and so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists for all
intents and purposes. Therefore, he who cohabits with a woman not his wife before the judicial
declaration of nullity of the marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for concubinage. The
lower court therefore, has not erred in affirming the Orders of the judge of the Metropolitan Trial
Court ruling that pendency of a civil action for nullity of marriage does not pose a prejudicial
question in a criminal case of concubinage.

GR No. 138509 July 31, 2000

IMELDA MARBELLA-BOBIS vs. ISAGANI BOBIS

FACTS:
On October 21, 1985, respondent Isagani Bobis contracted a first marriage with Ma. Dulce
Javier. With said marriage not yet annulled, nullified nor terminated, he contracted a second
marriage with herein petitioner Imelda Marbella (on Jan. 25, 1996), and a third marriage with
certain Julia Hernandez, thereafter.

Petitioner then filed a case of bigamy against respondent on Feb. 25, 1998, at the RTC of
Quezon City. Thereafter, respondent initiated a civil action for the declaration of absolute nullity
of his first marriage license. He then filed a motion to suspend the criminal proceeding for
bigamy invoking the civil case for nullity of the first marriage as a prejudicial question to the
criminal case. The RTC granted the motion, while petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was
denied.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the subsequent filing of a civil action for declaration of nullity of a
previous marriage constitutes a prejudicial question to a criminal case for bigamy.

RULING:

Any decision in the civil case the fact that respondent entered into a second marriage
during the subsistence of a first marriage. Thus, a decision in the civil case is not essential to
the determination of the criminal charge. It is therefore not a prejudicial question. Respondent
cannot be permitted to use his malfeasance to defeat the criminal action against him.

A prejudicial question is one which arises in a case the resolution of which is a


logical antecedent of the issue involved therein. It is a question based on a fact distinct and
separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or
innocence of the accused. It must appear not only that the civil case involves facts upon which
the criminal action is based, but also that the resolution of the issues raised in the civil action
would necessarily be determinative of the civil case. Consequently, the defense must involve
an issue similar or intimately related to the same issue raised in the criminal action and its
resolution determinative of whether or not the latter action may proceed. Its two essential
elements are (a) the civil action involves an issue raised in the criminal action; and (b) the
resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.

In the case at bar, the respondent’s clear intent is to obtain a judicial declaration of
nullity of his first marriage and thereafter to invoke that very same judgment to prevent his
prosecution for bigamy. He cannot have his cake and eat it too. Otherwise, all that an
adventurous bigamist has to do is disregard Article 40 of the Family Code, contract a
subsequent marriage and escape a bigamy charge by simply claiming that the first marriage is
void and the subsequent marriage is equally void for lack of a prior judicial declaration of nullity
of the first. A party may even enter into a marriage aware of the absence of a requisite—usually
the marriage license—and thereafter contract a subsequent marriage without obtaining a
declaration of nullity of the first on the assumption that the first marriage is void. Such scenario
would render nugatory the provisions on bigamy. As succinctly held in Landicho v. Relova, 22
SCRA 731(1968):

Parties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, [as]
only competent courts have such authority. Prior to such declaration of nullity of the first
marriage is beyond question. A party who contracts a second marriage then assumes the risk
of being prosecuted for bigamy.

A prejudicial question does not conclusively resolve the guilt or innocence of the
accused but simply tests the sufficiency of the allegations in the information in order to sustain
the further prosecution of the criminal case. A party who raises a prejudicial question is deemed
to have hypothetically admitted that all the essential elements of a crime have been adequately
alleged in the information, considering that the prosecution has not yet presented single
evidence on the indictment or may not yet have rested its case. A challenge of the allegations
in the information on the ground of prejudicial question is in effect a question on the merits of
the criminal charge through a non-criminal suit.

Ignorance of the existence of Article 40 of the Family Code cannot be successfully


invoked as an excuse. The contracting of a marriage knowing that the requirements of the law
have not been complied with or that the marriage is in disregard of a legal impediment is an act
penalized by the Revised Penal Code. The legality of a marriage is a matter of law and every
person is presumed to know the law. As respondent did not obtain the judicial declaration of
nullity when he entered into the second marriage, why should he be allowed to belatedly obtain
that judicial declaration in order to delay his criminal prosecution and subsequently defeat it by
his own disobedience of the law? If he wants to raise the nullity of the previous marriage, he
can do it as a matter of defense when he presents his evidence during the trial proper in the
criminal case.

The elements of bigamy are (1) 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 has not been judicially declared presumptively dead; (3) that he contracts a subsequent
marriage; and (4) the subsequent marriage would have been valid had it not been for the
existence of the first. The exceptions to prosecution for bigamy are those covered by Article 41
of the Family Code and by PD 1083 otherwise known as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws.
Social Security Commission v. Edna A. Azote, G.R. No. 209741. April 15, 2015

Facts:

On June 19, 1992, respondent Edna and Edgardo, a member of the SSS, were married in civil
rites at the RTC, Branch 9, Legazpi City, Albay. Their union produced six Children born from
1985 to 1999. On Apr. 27, 1994, Edgardo submitted Form E-4 to the SSS with Edna and their
three older children as designated beneficiaries. Thereafter or on Sept. 7, 2001, Edgardo
submitted another Form E-4 to the SSS designating his three younger children as additional
beneficiaries.

On Jan. 13, 2005, Edgardo passed away, Shortly thereafter, Edna field her claim for death
benefits with the SSS as the wife of a deceased-member. It appeared, however, from the SSS
records that Edgardo had earlier submitted another Form E-4 on Nov. 5, 1982 with a different
set of beneficiaries. Consequently Edna’s claim was denied. Her children were adjudged as
beneficiaries and she was considered as the legal guardian of her minor children.

Edna still filed a petition with the SSC insisting that she was the legitimate wife of Edgardo. In its
answer, the SSS averred that there was a conflicting information in the forms submitted by the
deceased.

The SSC dismissed Edna’s petition for lack of merit, citing Section 24(c) of the SS Law, it
explained that although Edgardo filed the Form E-4 designating Edna and their six children as
beneficiaries, he did not revoke the designation of Rosemarie as his wife-beneficiaries, and
Rosemarie was still presumed to be his legal wife. The law in force at the time of Edgardo’s
death was Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8282 the amendatory law of R.A. No. 1161 or the “Social
Security Law.” The law in force at the time of Edgardo’s death was Republic Act (R.A.) No.
8282 the amendatory law of R.A. No. 1161 or the “Social Security Law.” On Dec. 8, 2010, the
SSC dismissed Edna’s petition for lack of merit. On Jun. 8, 2011, the SSC denied Edna’s
motion for reconsideration. The CA reversed and set aside the resolution and the order of the
SSC.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Edna is entitled to the SSS benefit of Edgardo considering that there was a
previous subsisting marriage between Edgardo and Rosemarie at the time of their marriage in
1992.

RULING:

Applying Section 8(e) and (k) of R. A. No. 8282, it is clear that only the legal spouse of the
deceased-member is qualified to be the beneficiary of the latter’s SS benefits. In this case,
there is a concrete proof that Edgardo contracted an earlier marriage with another individual as
evidenced by their marriage contract. Edgardo even acknowledged his married status when he
filled out the 1982 Form E-4 designating Rosemarie as his spouse.⁠3
It is undisputed that the second marriage of Edgardo with Edna was celebrated at the time when
the Family Code was already in force. Article 41 of the Family Code expressly states:

Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during subsistence of a previous marriage shall be
null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had
been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present has a well-founded belief that
the absent spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger under the
circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two
years shall be sufficient.

For the purpose of contracting a subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the
spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the
declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of
reappearance of the absent spouse. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Using the parameters outlined in Article 41 of the Family Code, Edna, without doubt, failed to
establish that there was no impediment or that the impediment was already removed at the time
of the celebration of her marriage to Edgardo. Settled is the rule that “whoever claims
entitlement to the benefits provided by law should establish his or her right thereto by
substantial evidence.” Edna could not adduce evidence to prove that the earlier marriage of
Edgardo was either annulled or dissolved or whether there was a declaration of Rosemarie’s
presumptive death before her marriage to Edgardo. What is apparent is that Edna was the
second wife of Edgardo. Considering that Edna was not able to show that she was the legal
spouse of a deceased-member, she would not qualify under the law to be the beneficiary of the
death benefits of Edgardo.

The Court does not subscribe to the disquisition of the CA that the updated Form E-4 of
Edgardo was determinative of Edna’s status and eligibility to claim the death benefits of
deceased-member. Although an SSS member is free to designate a beneficiary, the designation
must always conform to the statute. To blindly rely on the form submitted by the deceased-
member would subject the entire social security system to the whims and caprices of its
members and would render the SS Law inutile.

Although the SSC is not intrinsically empowered to determine the validity of marriages, it is
required by Section 4(b) (7) of R.A. No. 8282 to examine available statistical and economic data
to ensure that the benefits fall into the rightful beneficiaries. As held in Social Security
Commission vs. Favila,

SSS, as the primary institution in charge of extending social security protection to workers and
their beneficiaries is mandated by Section 4(b)(7) of RA 8282 to require reports, compilations
and analyses of statistical and economic data and to make an investigation as may be needed
for its proper administration and development. Precisely, the investigations conducted by SSS
are appropriate in order to ensure that the benefits provided under the SS Law are received by
the rightful beneficiaries. It is not hard to see that such measure is necessary for the system’s
proper administration, otherwise, it will be swamped with bogus claims that will pointlessly
deplete its funds. Such scenario will certainly frustrate the purpose of the law which is to
provide covered employees and their families protection against the hazards of disability,
sickness, old age and death, with a view to promoting their well-being in the spirit of social
justice. Moreover and as correctly pointed out by SSC, such investigations are likewise
necessary to carry out the mandate of Section 15 of the SS Law which provides in part, viz:

Sec. 15. Non-transferability of Benefits. – The SSS shall pay the benefits provided for in this Act
to such [x x x] persons as may be entitled thereto in accordance with the provisions of this Act x
x x. (Emphasis supplied.)

The existence of two Form E-4s designating, on two different dates, two different women as his
spouse is already an indication that only one of them can be the legal spouse. As can be
gleaned from the certification issued by the NSO, there is no doubt that Edgardo married
Rosemarie in 1982. Edna cannot be considered as the legal spouse of Edgardo as their
marriage took place during the existence of a previously contracted marriage. For said reason,
the denial of Edna’s claim by the SSC was correct. It should be emphasized that the SSC
determined Edna’s eligibility on the basis of available statistical data and documents on their
database as expressly permitted by Section 4(b) (7) of R.A. No. 8282.

It is of no moment that the first wife, Rosemarie, did not participate or oppose Edna’s claim.
Rosemarie’s non-participation or her subsequent death on November 11, 2004 did not cure or
legitimize the status of Edna.

GR 137110 August 1, 2000

VINCENT PAUL G. MERCADO A.K.A. VINCENT G. MERCADO, petitioner


vs. CONSUELO TAN, respondent

FACTS
Dr. Vincent Mercado and Ma. Consuelo Tan got married on June 27, 1991 civilly of which a
Marriage Contract was duly executed and signed by the parties. As entered in said document,
the status of petitioner was single.

At the time of the celebration of the wedding, petitioner was actually married to Ma. Thelma
Oliva. This fact was known to the respondent, Consuelo Tan.

On October 5, 1992, a letter-complaint for bigamy was filed by respondent through counse lwith
the City Prosecutor of Bacolod City. More than a month after the bigamy case was lodged in the
Prosecutors Office, petitioner filed an action for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage against Ma.
Thelma V. Oliva in RTC-Br. 22, Cebu City, and in a Decision issued by the latter, the marriage
between Vincent G. Mercado and Ma. Thelma V. Oliva was declared null and void.

Petitioner filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals
in affirming the ruling of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bacolod City in Criminal Case No.
13848, which convicted herein petitioner of bigamy.

ISSUE
Whether or not the petitioner can still be convicted of bigamy even if the previous marriage was
already declared void ab initio under Article 36 of the Family Code

RULING
Petitioner contends 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.

Thus, he concludes that there is no first marriage to speak of. Petitioner also quotes the
commentaries 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. The Court agrees with the respondent and affirmed the
assailed decision of the Court of Appeals and enumerated the elements of the crime of bigamy
under Art. 349 of the Revised Penal Code: (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.

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.”

In the case at bar, Mercado only filed the declaration of nullity of his marriage with Oliva right
after Tan filed bigamy case. Hence, by then, the crime had already been consummated. He
contracted second marriage without the judicial declaration of the nullity. The fact that the first
marriage is void from the beginning is not a defense in a bigamy charge.

[G.R. No. 132529. February 2, 2001]

SUSAN NICDAO CARIÑO, petitioner, vs. SUSAN YEE CARIÑO, respondent.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

FACTS: SPO4 Santiago Carino contracted 2 marriages during his lifetime. The first was on
June 20, 1969 with Susan Nicdao-Carino, the petitioner of the case at bar with whom he had 2
children and the second was on November 10, 1992 with Susan Yee-Carino, the respondent,
with whom he had no children. Santiago has been cohabiting with Susan Yee since 1983 but
became bedridden in 1988 and died 13 days after the second wedding. Both Susans filed for
monetary benefits and financial assistance. Nicdao was able to collect 146K while Yee was able
to collect 21K. On December 14, 1993, Yee filed an instant case for collection of sum of money
against Nicdao. Yee wanted at least half of the 146K. Nicdao failed to file her answer and was
declared in default. Yee admitted that her marriage to Santiago 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 and 2) a certification dated March 9,
1994, from the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, which summarily stated that
there was no record of a marriage license The trial court ruled in favor of Susan Yee. CA
affirmed the decision of the trial court

ISSUE: Whether or not the absolute nullity of marriage may be invoked to settle claims to death
benefits

RULING:

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. 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.
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.

Presumed validity of Nicdao’s marriage w/ the deceased cannot stand as there is no marriage
license, burden of proof of validity was w/ her. It does not follow however, that since the
marriage of petitioner and the deceased is declared void ab initio, the “death benefits” would
now be awarded to Yee. As stated earlier, 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. Considering
then that the marriage of Yee and the deceased is a bigamous marriage, having been
solemnized during the subsistence of a previous marriage then presumed to be valid, the
application of Article 148 is therefore in order. As to the property regime of petitioner Susan
Nicdao and the deceased, Article 147 of the Family Code governs as they were both legally
capacitated. The difference bet 147 and 148 is that wages and salaries earned by either party
during the cohabitation period will be split equally between them even if only one party
contributed in 147, whereas in 148 wages and salaries earned by each party belong to him or
her exclusively. So under Art 147, Susan Nicdao is entitled to half of the remunerations and the
other half belong to the legal heirs of Santiago, who are in this case, the children of Susan
Nicdao

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.