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ARTICLE 39 AND 40: ACTION OR

DEFENSE FOR DECLARATION OF


HELD:
ABSOLUTE NULLITY; JUDICIAL
DECLARATION Art. 40 is applicable to remarriages
entered into after the effectivity of the Family
ATIENZA VS. BRILLANTES
Code in 1988 regardless of date of the first
FACTS: marriage. Besides, Art. 256 of the Family Code
said Art. 15 is given retroactive effect insofar
This a complaint by Lupo Atienza for as it does prejudice or impair vested or acquired
gross immorality and appearance of impropriety rights in accordance with Civil Code or other
against Judge Brillantes. laws. The retroactive application of procedural
Lupo Alleges that he has 2 children laws is not violative of any right of a person who
with Yolanda de Castro, who are living together may feel that he is adversely affected.
in a home purchased by him in 1987 in Manila. Respondent is the last person allowed to invoke
On 1991, Lupo saw Brillantes sleeping on his good faith. He made a mockery of the institution
bed. Upon inquiry, the houseboy told that of marriage and employed deceit to be able to
Brillantes had been cohabiting with de Castro. cohabit with a woman.
Lupo left the home without confronting DOMINGO VS. CA
Brillantes. Thereafter, respondent prevented him
from visiting his children and even alienated the A declaration of the absolute nullity of a
affection of his children from him. Lupo claims marriage is now explicitly required either as a
that Brillantes is married to Ongkiko with whom cause of action or a ground for defense.
he has 5 children. Brillantes on his part, alleged
FACTS:
that Lupo was not married to de Castro and that
he is not married to Ongkiko although he admits Private respondent Delia Soledad Domingo and
having 5 children with her. Brillantes claims that petitioner Roberto Domingo got married while
when he married de Castro in 1991 at California, the marriage of Roberto with one Emerlina dela
he believed in all good faith and with all legal Paz was still subsisting. Hence, Emerlina sued
intents and purposes, that he was single because Roberto for bigamy. Thereafter, Delia filed a
her first marriage was solemnized without a petition for the declaration of nullity of her
marriage license. marriage with Roberto and separation of
property. Roberto filed a Motion to Dismiss on
Brillantes argues that the provision of
the ground that the marriage being void ab
Art. 40 of the Family Code does not apply to
initio, the petition for the declaration of its
him considering that his first marriage took
nullity is unnecessary. The trial court denied the
place in 1965 and was governed by the Civil
motion. Roberto then filed a special civil action
Code of the Philippines while the second
of certiorari and mandamus, which was
marriage which took place in 1991 was
dismissed by the CA. Roberto contended that
governed by the Family Code.
the judicial declaration of absolute nullity of
ISSUE: marriage can be maintained only if it is for the
purpose of remarriage.
Whether or not Art. 40 of the Family Code does
not apply to Brillantes. ISSUE:
Whether or not a petition for judicial declaration
of a void marriage is necessary for the recovery
and the separation of properties.
subsequent marriage without first obtaining such
judicial declaration is guilty of bigamy.
RULING:
Yes. The Family Code has settled once and for
all the conflicting jurisprudence on the matter. A FACTS:
declaration of the absolute nullity of a marriage
Vincent Mercado married Consuelo Tan while
is now explicitly required either as a cause of
his marriage with Ma. Thelma Oliva was still
action or a ground for defense. In fact, the
subsisting. Hence, Tan filed a complaint for
requirement for a declaration of absolute nullity
bigamy against Mercado. Subsequently,
of a marriage is also for the protection of the
Mercado filed a petition for Declaration of
spouse who, believing that his or her marriage is
Nullity of Marriage against Oliva. The petition
illegal and void, marries again. With the judicial
was granted and the marriage between Mercado
declaration of the nullity of his or her first
and Oliva was declared null and void.
marriage, the person who marries again cannot
Nevertheless, the RTC convicted Mercado of the
be charged with bigamy.
crime of bigamy.
Article 40 of the Family Code denotes that such
Mercado contended that since his previous
final judgment declaring the previous marriage
marriage had been declared null and void, he
void need not be obtained only for purposes of
cannot be convicted of the crime of bigamy as
remarriage. Undoubtedly, one can conceive of
there was no first marriage to speak of.
other instances where a party might well invoke
the absolute nullity of a previous marriage for ISSUE:
purposes other than remarriage, such as in case
of an action for liquidation, partition, Whether or not the element of previous legal
distribution and separation of property between marriage is present in order to convict petitioner.
the erstwhile spouses, as well as an action for RULING:
the custody and support of their common
children and the delivery of the latters' Yes. Article 40 of the Family Code expressly
presumptive legitimes. In such cases, evidence requires a judicial declaration of nullity of the
needs must be adduced, testimonial or previous marriage before that person can marry
documentary, to prove the existence of grounds again; otherwise, the second marriage will also
rendering such a previous marriage an absolute be void. It is now settled that the fact that the
nullity. These need not be limited solely to an first marriage is void from the beginning is not a
earlier final ju dgment of a court declaring such defense in a bigamy charge. One who enters
previous marriage void. Hence, in the instance into a subsequent marriage without first
where a party who has previously contracted a obtaining such judicial declaration is guilty of
marriage which remains subsisting desires to bigamy. This principle applies even if the earlier
enter into another marriage which is legally union is characterized by statute as void.
unassailable, he is required by law to prove that
In the instant case, petitioner contracted a
the previous one was an absolute nullity. But this
second marriage although there was yet no
he may do on the basis solely of a final
judicial declaration of nullity of his first
judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
marriage. In fact, he instituted the Petition to
MERCADO VS. TAN have the first marriage declared void only after
complainant had filed a letter-complaint
A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous charging him with bigamy. By contracting a
marriage is necessary before a subsequent one second marriage while the first was still
can be legally contracted. One who enters into a subsisting, he committed the acts punishable
under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. Cario is valid, thereby entitling her to the entire
That he subsequently obtained a judicial subject death benefits.
declaration of the nullity of the first marriage
was immaterial. To repeat, the crime had
already been consummated by then. RULING:
CARINO VS. CARINO No. Under the Civil Code, which was the law in
force when the marriage of petitioner Susan
Under Article 40 of the Family Code, for
Nicdao and the deceased was solemnized in
purposes of remarriage, there must first be a
1969, a valid marriage license is a requisite of
prior judicial declaration of the nullity of a
marriage, and the absence thereof, subject to
previous marriage, though void, before a party
certain exceptions, renders the marriage void ab
can enter into a second marriage, otherwise, the
initio. The records reveal that the marriage
second marriage would also be void.
contract of petitioner and the deceased bears no
FACTS: marriage license number and, as certified by the
Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro
The late SPO4 Santiago S. Cario contracted Manila, their office has no record of such
two marriages during his lifetime. The first was marriage license. It is beyond cavil, therefore,
with petitioner Susan Nicdao Cario, and the that the marriage between petitioner Susan
second was with respondent Susan Yee Cario. Nicdao and the deceased, having been
SPO4 Cario passed away under the care of solemnized without the necessary marriage
respondent, who spent for his medical and burial license, and not being one of the marriages
expenses. Both petitioner and respondent filed exempt from the marriage license requirement,
claims for monetary benefits and financial is undoubtedly void ab initio.
assistance pertaining to the deceased from
various government agencies. Respondent filed Under Article 40 of the Family Code, for
a case for collection of sum of money against purposes of remarriage, there must first be a
petitioner praying that petitioner be ordered to prior judicial declaration of the nullity of a
return to her at least one-half of the P146,000.00 previous marriage, though void, before a party
death benefits which petitioner received from can enter into a second marriage, otherwise, the
various government agencies. Respondent second marriage would also be void.
admitted that her marriage to the deceased took Accordingly, the declaration in the instant case
place during the subsistence of, and without first of nullity of the previous marriage of the
obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity of the deceased and petitioner Susan Nicdao does not
marriage between petitioner and the deceased. validate the second marriage of the deceased
She, however, claimed to be in good faith since with respondent Susan Yee. The fact remains
she had no knowledge of the previous marriage. that their marriage was solemnized without first
To bolster her action for collection of sum of obtaining a judicial decree declaring the
money, respondent contended that the marriage marriage of petitioner Susan Nicdao and the
of petitioner and the deceased is void ab initio deceased void. Hence, the marriage of
because the same was solemnized without the respondent Susan Yee and the deceased is,
required marriage license. The trial court ruled likewise, void ab initio.
in favor of respondent, which the CA affirmed.
Considering that the marriage of respondent
ISSUE: Susan Yee and the deceased is a bigamous
marriage, having been solemnized during the
Whether or not the marriage between SPO4 subsistence of a previous marriage then
Santiago Cario and petitioner Susan Nicdao presumed to be valid (between petitioner and the
deceased), the application of Article 148 of the being issued only on January 9, 1950. He
Family Code is therefore in order. The disputed insisted that his being the surviving brother of
P146,000.00 from MBAI [AFP Mutual Benefit Cresenciano who had died without any issue
Association, Inc.], NAPOLCOM, Commutation, entitled him to one-half of the real properties
Pag-ibig, and PCCUI, are clearly renumerations, acquired by Cresenciano before his death,
incentives and benefits from governmental thereby making him a real party in interest; and
agencies earned by the deceased as a police that any person, himself included, could impugn
officer. Unless respondent Susan Yee presents the validity of the marriage between
proof to the contrary, it could not be said that she Cresenciano and Leonila at any time, even after
contributed money, property or industry in the the death of Cresenciano, due to the marriage
acquisition of these monetary benefits. Hence, being void ab initio.
they are not owned in common by respondent
The RTC dismissed the petition for the
and the deceased, but belong to the deceased
following reasons: 1) petition is filed out of time
alone and respondent has no right whatsoever to
(action had long prescribed) and 2) petitioner is
claim the same.
not a party to the marriage.
As to the property regime of petitioner Susan
The CA affirmed the dismissal order of the RTC,
Nicdao and the deceased, Article 147 of the
thus:
Family Code governs. Even if the disputed
death benefits were earned by the deceased While an action to declare the nullity of a
alone as a government employee, Article 147 marriage considered void from the beginning
creates a co-ownership in respect thereto, does not prescribe, the law nonetheless requires
entitling the petitioner to share one-half thereof. that the same action must be filed by the proper
As there is no allegation of bad faith in the party, which in this case should be filed by any
present case, both parties of the first marriage of the parties to the marriage. xxxx
are presumed to be in good faith. Thus, one-half
of the subject death benefits under scrutiny Certainly, a surviving brother of the
shall go to the petitioner as her share in the deceased spouse is not the proper party to file
property regime, and the other half pertaining to the subject petition. More so that the surviving
the deceased shall pass by, intestate succession, wife, who stands to be prejudiced, was not even
to his legal heirs, namely, his children with impleaded as a party to said case.
Susan Nicdao. ISSUE:
JARILLO VS. PEOPLE Whether the petitioner is a real party-in-interest
(601 SCRA 236)- FULL CASE in the action to seek the declaration of nullity of
the marriage of his deceased brother solemnized
ABLAZA VS. REPUBLIC under the regime of the old Civil Code
FACTS: HELD: YES
On October 17, 2000, the petitioner filed in RTC A valid marriage is essential in order to create
Cataingan, Masbate a petition for the declaration the relation of husband and wife and to give rise
of the absolute nullity of the marriage contracted to the mutual rights, duties, and liabilities arising
on December 26, 1949 between his late brother out of such relation. The law prescribes the
Cresenciano Ablaza and Leonila Honato. requisites of a valid marriage. Hence, the
The petitioner alleged that the marriage between validity of a marriage is tested according to the
Cresenciano and Leonila had been celebrated law in force at the time the marriage is
without a marriage license, due to such license contracted. As a general rule, the nature of the
marriage already celebrated cannot be changed declaration of nullity of the marriage under AM
by a subsequent amendment of the governing 02-11-10-SC had absolutely no application to
law. Thus, a Civil Code marriage remains void, the petitioner.
considering that the validity of a marriage is
The old and new Civil Codes contain no
governed by the law in force at the time of the
provision on who can file a petition to declare
marriage ceremony.
the nullity of a marriage, and when.
Before anything more, the Court has to clarify Accordingly, in Nial v. Bayadog, the children
the impact to the issue posed herein of were allowed to file after the death of their
Administrative Matter (A.M.) No. 02-11-10-SC father a petition for the declaration of the nullity
(Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void of their fathers marriage to their stepmother
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable contracted on December 11, 1986 due to lack of
Marriages), which took effect on March 15, a marriage license. There, the Court
2003. distinguished between a void marriage and a
voidable one, and explained how and when each
Section 2 (a), of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
might be impugned, thus wise:
explicitly provides the limitation that a petition
for declaration of absolute nullity of void Jurisprudence under the Civil Code states that no
marriage may be filed solely by the husband or judicial decree is necessary in order to establish
wife. Such limitation demarcates a line to the nullity of a marriage. Under ordinary
distinguish between marriages covered by the circumstances, the effect of a void
Family Code and those solemnized under the marriage.......is as though no marriage had
regime of the Civil Code. Specifically, A.M. No. ever taken place. And therefore, being good
02-11-10-SC extends only to marriages covered for no legal purpose, its invalidity can be
by the Family Code, which took effect on maintained in any proceeding in which the
August 3, 1988, but, being a procedural rule that fact of marriage may be material, either
is prospective in application, is confined only to direct or collateral. xxx
proceedings commenced after March 15, 2003.
It is not like a voidable marriage which cannot
Based on Carlos v. Sandoval the following be collaterally attacked except in direct
actions for declaration of absolute nullity of a proceeding instituted during the lifetime of the
marriage are excepted from the limitation, to parties so that on the death of either, the
wit: marriage cannot be impeached, and is made
good ab initio. But Article 40 of the Family
1) Those commenced before March 15, 2003,
Code expressly provides that there must be a
the effectivity date of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC;
judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous
and
marriage, though void, before a party can enter
2) Those filed in relation to marriages celebrated into a second marriage and such absolute nullity
during the effectivity of the Civil Code and, can be based only on a final judgment to that
those celebrated under the regime of the Family effect. For the same reason, the law makes either
Code prior to March 15, 2003. the action or defense for the declaration of
absolute nullity of marriage imprescriptible.
Considering that the marriage between Corollarily, if the death of either party would
Cresenciano and Leonila was contracted on extinguish the cause of action or the ground for
December 26, 1949, the applicable law was the defense, then the same cannot be considered
old Civil Code, the law in effect at the time of imprescriptible.
the celebration of the marriage. Hence, the rule
on the exclusivity of the parties to the marriage However, other than for purposes of remarriage,
as having the right to initiate the action for no judicial action is necessary to declare a
marriage an absolute nullity. For other spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to
purposes......the court may pass upon the validity the entire estate of the deceased in accordance
of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted with the following articles.
to question the same so long as it is essential to
Necessarily, therefore, the right of the petitioner
the determination of the case.
to bring the action hinges upon a prior
determination of whether Cresenciano had any
descendants, ascendants, or children (legitimate
However, that the absence of a provision in the
or illegitimate), and of whether the petitioner
old and new Civil Codes cannot be construed as
was the late Cresencianos surviving heir. Such
giving a license to just any person to bring an
prior determination must be made by the trial
action to declare the absolute nullity of a
court, for the inquiry thereon involves questions
marriage. According to Carlos v. Sandoval, the
of fact.
plaintiff must still be the party who stands to be
benefited by the suit, or the party entitled to the Nevertheless, we note that the petitioner did not
avails of the suit, for it is basic in procedural law implead Leonila, who, as the late Cresencianos
that every action must be prosecuted and surviving wife, stood to be benefited or
defended in the name of the real party in prejudiced by the nullification of her own
interest. Thus, only the party who can marriage. She was truly an indispensable party
demonstrate a proper interest can file the who must be joined herein. We take note, too,
action. Interest within the meaning of the rule that the petitioner and Leonila were parties in
means material interest, or an interest in issue to Heirs of Cresenciano Ablaza, namely: Leonila
be affected by the decree or judgment of the G. Ablaza, and Leila Ablaza Jasul v. Spouses
case, as distinguished from mere curiosity about Isidro and Casilda Ablaza, an action to
the question involved or a mere incidental determine who between the parties were the
interest. legal owners of the property involved therein. As
a defendant in that action, the petitioner is
reasonably presumed to have knowledge that the
Here, the petitioner alleged himself to be the late therein plaintiffs, Leonila and Leila, were the
Cresencianos brother and surviving heir. wife and daughter, respectively, of the late
Assuming that the petitioner was as he claimed Cresenciano. As such, Leila was another
himself to be, then he has a material interest in indispensable party whose substantial right any
the estate of Cresenciano that will be adversely judgment in this action will definitely affect. The
affected by any judgment in the suit. Indeed, a petitioner should likewise implead Leila.
brother like the petitioner, albeit not a
WHEREFORE, the case is reinstated, and its
compulsory heir under the laws of succession,
records are returned to RTC Masbate, for further
has the right to succeed to the estate of a
proceedings, with instructions to first require the
deceased brother under the conditions stated in
petitioner to amend his initiatory pleading in
Article 1001 and Article 1003 of the Civil Code,
order to implead Leonila Honato and her
as follows:
daughter Leila Ablaza Jasul as parties-
Article 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their defendants.
children survive with the widow or widower, the
JARILLO VS PEOPLE
latter shall be entitled to one half of the
(622 SCRA 24)- FULL CASE
inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their
CHAN-TAN VS. TAN- FULL CASE
children to the other half.
LASANAS VS. PEOPLE
Article 1003. If there are no descendants,
THE FACTS:
ascendants, illegitimate children, or a surviving
Noel Lasanas (petitioner), and Socorro were Article 52 of the Family Code; that,
married by Judge Carlos Salazar in 1968, consequently, an essential element of the crime
without the benefit of a marriage license or an of bigamy, i.e. that the subsequent marriage be
affidavit of cohabitation. They renewed their valid, was lacking; and that his good faith and
marriage vows in a religious ceremony before lack of criminal intent were sufficient to relieve
Fr. Rodolfo Tamayo in Iloilo City, again without him of criminal liability.
attaching a marriage license or an affidavit of
cohabitation. They separated in 1982, however,
due to irreconcilable differences. Noel then THE ISSUE:
married Josefa Esteban in a religious ceremony
solemnized by Fr. Ramon Sequito in Iloilo City. Whether or not Noel should be held liable for
Noels marriage status was indicated in the bigamy.
marriage certificate as single. On July 26,
1996, Noel filed a complaint for annulment of
marriages and damages against Socorro, alleging THE RULING:
that the latter employed deceit,
The appeal lacks merit.
misrepresentation and fraud in securing his
consent to their marriage. Soccoro then filed a The law on bigamy is found in Article 349 of the
criminal case for bigamy against Noel, and the Revised Penal Code, which provides:
corresponding information filed against him.
His complaint for declaration of nullity was Article 349. Bigamy. The penalty of prision
dismissed on November 24, 1998. Meanwhile, mayor shall be imposed upon any person who
in the criminal case for bigamy, Noel was shall contract a second or subsequent marriage
convicted by the Regional Trial Court as before the former marriage has been legally
charged. He appealed to the CA, but the latter dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been
affirmed the RTC judgment. Thus, Noel filed declared presumptively dead by means of a
the instant petition for review on certiorari with judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.
the Supreme Court. He argues that the first The elements of the crime of bigamy are as
element of bigamy was not duly proved, as his follows: (1) that the offender has been legally
marriage to Socorro was null and void for lack married; (2) that the marriage has not been
of marriage license or affidavit of cohabitation; legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is
he acted in good faith; and had the honest belief absent, the absent spouse could not yet be
that there was no need for a judicial declaration presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (3)
of nullity of the first marriage before he could that he or she contracts a second or subsequent
contract a subsequent marriage. He argues that marriage; and (4) that the second or subsequent
the RTC and the CA incorrectly applied the marriage has all the essential requisites for
provisions of Article 349 of the Revised Penal validity.1
Code, asserting that the civil law rule embodied
in Article 40 of the Family Code requiring a The CA specifically observed:
judicial declaration of nullity before one could
This Court concedes that the marriage between
contract a subsequent marriage should not apply
accused-appellant Lasanas and private
in this purely criminal prosecution; that even if
complainant Patingo was void because of the
Article 40 of the Family Code was applicable,
absence of a marriage license or of an affidavit
he should still be acquitted because his
of cohabitation. The ratificatory religious
subsequent marriage was null and void for being
wedding ceremony could not have validated the
without a recorded judgment of nullity of
void marriage. Neither can the church wedding
marriage, as provided in Article 53 in relation to
be treated as a marriage in itself for to do so, all
the essential and formal requisites of a valid Article 40. The absolute nullity of a previous
marriage should be present. One of these marriage may be invoked for purposes of
requisites is a valid marriage license except in remarriage on the basis solely of a final
those instances when this requirement may be judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
excused. There having been no marriage license (n)
nor affidavit of cohabitation presented to the
The reason for the provision was aptly discussed
priest who presided over the religious rites, the
in Teves v. People:3
religious wedding cannot be treated as a valid
marriage in itself. x x x The Family Code has settled once and for
all the conflicting jurisprudence on the matter. A
But then, as the law and jurisprudence say,
declaration of the absolute nullity of a marriage
petitioner should have first secured a judicial
is now explicitly required either as a cause of
declaration of the nullity of his void marriage to
action or a ground for defense. Where the
private complainant Patingo before marrying
absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought
Josefa Eslaban. Actually, he did just that but
to be invoked for purposes of contracting a
after his marriage to Josefa Eslaban.
second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law
Consequently, he violated the law on bigamy.
for said projected marriage to be free from legal
Accuseds reliance on the cases of People v. infirmity is a final judgment declaring the
Mendoza, 95 Phil. 845 and People v. Aragon, previous marriage void.
100 Phil. 1033 is misplaced because the ruling
The Family Law Revision Committee and the
in these cases have already been abandoned per
Civil Code Revision Committee which drafted
Relova v. Landico, supra, and Wiegel v. Sempio-
what is now the Family Code of the Philippines
Diy, 143 SCRA 499. The petitioner also cited
took the position that parties to a marriage
Yap v. Court of Appeals, 145 SCRA 229 which
should not be allowed to assume that their
resurrected the Aragon and Mendoza doctrine
marriage is void even if such be the fact but
but Yaps ruling too had been overtaken by Art.
must first secure a judicial declaration of the
40 of the Family Code and by Domingo v. Court
nullity of their marriage before they can be
of Appeals and Te v. Court of Appeals, supra.
allowed to marry again.
Regarding accused-appellants defense of good
In fact, the requirement for a declaration of
faith, the same is unavailing pursuant to
absolute nullity of a marriage is also for the
Maozca v. Domagas, 248 SCRA 625.
protection of the spouse who, believing that his
This Court, therefore concludes that the or her marriage is illegal and void, marries
appealed Decision is correct in all respect.2 again. With the judicial declaration of the nullity
of his or her marriage, the person who marries
Based on the findings of the CA, this case has
again cannot be charged with bigamy.
all the foregoing elements attendant.
In numerous cases, this Court has consistently
The first and second elements of bigamy were
held that a judicial declaration of nullity is
present in view of the absence of a judicial
required before a valid subsequent marriage can
declaration of nullity of marriage between the
be contracted; or else, what transpires is a
accused and Socorro. The requirement of
bigamous marriage, reprehensible and immoral.
securing a judicial declaration of nullity of
marriage prior to contracting a subsequent If petitioners contention would be allowed, a
marriage is found in Article 40 of the Family person who commits bigamy can simply evade
Code, to wit: prosecution by immediately filing a petition for
the declaration of nullity of his earlier marriage
and hope that a favorable decision is rendered
therein before anyone institutes a complaint the records show that he had filed a complaint
against him. We note that in petitioners case the for the annulment of his marriage with Socorro
complaint was filed before the first marriage prior to the institution of the criminal complaint
was declared a nullity. It was only the filing of against him but after he had already contracted
the Information that was overtaken by the his second marriage with Josefa. But even such
declaration of nullity of his first marriage. defense would abandon him because the RTC
Following petitioners argument, even assuming (Branch 39) dismissed his complaint for
that a complaint has been instituted, such as in annulment of marriage after the information for
this case, the offender can still escape liability bigamy had already been filed against him, thus
provided that a decision nullifying his earlier confirming the validity of his marriage to
marriage precedes the filing of the Information Socorro.
in court. Such cannot be allowed. To do so
Considering that the accuseds subsequent
would make the crime of bigamy dependent
marriage to Josefa was an undisputed fact, the
upon the ability or inability of the Office of the
third element of bigamy was established.
Public Prosecutor to immediately act on
Nonetheless, he submits that his marriage to
complaints and eventually file Informations in
Josefa was invalid because of lack of a recorded
court. Plainly, petitioners strained reading of the
judgment of nullity of marriage. Such argument
law is against its simple letter.
had no worth, however, because it was he
Pursuant to Teves, the accuseds conviction for himself who failed to secure a judicial
bigamy is affirmed. The crime of bigamy was declaration of nullity of his previous marriage
consummated from the moment he contracted prior to contracting his subsequent marriage. In
the second marriage without his marriage to Tenebro v. Court of Appeals6, the Court has
Socorro being first judicially declared null and explained that [s]ince a marriage contracted
void, because at the time of the celebration of during the subsistence of a valid marriage is
the second marriage, his marriage to Socorro automatically void, the nullity of this second
was still deemed valid and subsisting due to marriage is not per se an argument for the
such marriage not being yet declared null and avoidance of criminal liability for bigamy. x x x
void by a court of competent jurisdiction.4 A plain reading of [Article 349 of the Revised
What makes a person criminally liable for Penal Code], therefore, would indicate that the
bigamy, according to People v. Odtuhan:5 provision penalizes the mere act of contracting a
second or subsequent marriage during the
x x x is when he contracts a second or
subsistence of a valid marriage.7 The Court has
subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a
further observed in Nollora, Jr. v. People:8
valid marriage. Parties to the marriage should
not be permitted to judge for themselves its x x x Nollora may not impugn his [subsequent]
nullity, for the same must be submitted to the marriage to Geraldino in order to extricate
judgment of competent courts and only when the himself from criminal liability; otherwise, we
nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be would be opening the doors to allowing the
held as void, and so long as there is no such solemnization of multiple flawed marriage
declaration, the presumption is that the marriage ceremonies. As we stated in Tenebro v. Court of
exists. Therefore, he who contracts a second Appeals:
marriage before the judicial declaration of
There is therefore a recognition written into the
nullity of the first marriage assumes the risk of
law itself that such a marriage, although void ab
being prosecuted for bigamy.
initio, may still produce legal consequences.
The accuseds defense of acting in good faith Among these legal consequences is incurring
deserves scant consideration especially because criminal liability for bigamy. To hold otherwise
would render the States penal laws on bigamy of the indeterminate sentence should be within
completely nugatory, and allow individuals to the range of prision correccional, the penalty
deliberately ensure that each marital contract be next lower than that prescribed for the offense,
flawed in some manner, and to thus escape the which is from six months and one day to six
consequences of contracting multiple marriages, years. Accordingly, the indeterminate sentence
while beguiling throngs of hapless women with of two years and four months of prision
the promise of futurity and commitment. correccional, as minimum, to eight years and
one day of prision mayor as maximum, as
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code,
imposed by the RTC, was proper.
the penalty for bigamy is prision mayor. With
neither an aggravating nor a mitigating WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the
circumstance attendant in the commission of the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on
crime, the imposable penalty is the medium August 29, 2002; and ORDERS the petitioner to
period of prision mayor,9 which ranges from pay the costs of suit.
eight years and one day to 10 years. Applying
the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum