Capili v. People

G.R. 183805

July 3, 2013


On June 28, 2004, petitioner was charged with the crime of bigamy before the RTC of Pasig City. Petitioner thereafter filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings alleging that: (1) there is a pending civil case for declaration of nullity of the second marriage before the RTC of Antipolo City filed by Karla Y. Medina-Capili; (2) in the event that the marriage is declared null and void, it would exculpate him from the charge of bigamy; and (3) the pendency of the civil case for the declaration of nullity of the second marriage serves as a prejudicial question in the instant criminal case.


Whether or not the subsequent declaration of nullity of the second marriage is a ground for dismissal of the criminal case for bigamy.


No. It is undisputed that a second marriage between petitioner and private respondent was contracted on December 8, 1999 during the subsistence of a valid first marriage between petitioner and Karla Y. Medina-Capili contracted on September 3, 1999. Notably, the RTC of Antipolo City itself declared the bigamous nature of the second marriage between petitioner and private respondent. Thus, the subsequent judicial declaration of the second marriage for being bigamous in nature does not bar the prosecution of petitioner for the crime of bigamy.





People v. Odtuhan

G.R. No. 191566

July 17, 2013


On 1980, Edgardo Odtuhan married Jasmin Modina. On 1993, respondent married Eleanor A. Alagon. Sometime in 1994, he filed a petition for annulment of his marriage with Modina.The RTC of Pasig City granted respondent’s petition and declared his marriage with Modina void ab initio for lack of a valid marriage license.On 2003, Alagon died. In the meantime, in June 2003, private complainant Evelyn Abesamis Alagon learned of respondent’s previous marriage with Modina.She thus filed a Complaint-Affidavitcharging respondent with Bigamy.  On 2005, Odtuhan was indicted in an Informationfor Bigamy. He filed an Omnibus Motion praying that his motion to quash be granted on the grounds, to wit: (1) that the facts do not charge the offense of bigamy; and (2) that the criminal action or liability has been extinguished The RTC denied respondent’s Omnibus Motion and held that the facts alleged in the information – that there was a valid marriage between respondent and Modina and without such marriage having been dissolved, respondent contracted a second marriage with Alagon – constitute the crime of bigamy. The trial court further held that neither can the information be quashed on the ground that criminal liability has been extinguished, because the declaration of nullity of the first marriage is not one of the modes of extinguishing criminal liability. Respondent’s motion for reconsideration was likewise denied. The CA granted the petition for certiorari.


Whether or not the information for Bigamy may be quashed.


No. A motion to quash information is the mode by which an accused assails the validity of a criminal complaint or information filed against him for insufficiency on its face in point of law, or for defects which are apparent in the face of the information. The fundamental test in determining the sufficiency of the material averments in an Information is whether or not the facts alleged therein, which are hypothetically admitted, would establish the essential elements of the crime defined by law. A motion to quash should be based on a defect in the information which is evident on its fact. The ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense cannot be sustained since there is enough showing of the sufficiency of the allegations to constitute bigamy as it contained all the elements of the crime. What makes a person criminally liable for bigamy is when he contracts a second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage. A judicial declaration of nullity is required before a valid subsequent marriage can be contracted. He who contracts a second marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy. If we allow respondent’s line of defense and the CA’s ratiocination, a person who commits bigamy can simply evade 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 against him.

Moreover, the information cannot be quashed on the ground that criminal liability has been extinguished, because the declaration of nullity of the first marriage is not one of the modes of extinguishing criminal liability.





Santos v. Santos

G.R. 187061

October 8, 2014


On July 27, 2007, the Regional Trial Court of Tarlac City declared petitioner Celerina J. Santos presumptively dead after her husband, respondent Ricardo T. Santos, had filed a petition for declaration of absence or presumptive death for the purpose of remarriage on June 15, 2007. Ricardo remarried on September 17, 2008.The business did not prosper. As a result, Celerina convinced him to allow her to work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong. She allegedly applied in an employment agency in Ermita, Manila, in February 1995. She left Tarlac two months after and was never heard from again.Ricardo further alleged that he exerted efforts to locate Celerina. He went to Celerina's parents in Cubao, Quezon City, but they, too, did not know their daughter's whereabouts. He also inquired about her from other relatives and friends, but no one gave him any information. Ricardo claimed that it was as almost 12 years from the date of his Regional Trial Court petition since Celerina left.  He believed that she had passed away. Celerina claimed that she learned about Ricardo's petition only sometime in October 2008 when she could no longer avail the remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief, or other appropriate remedies. On November 17, 2008, Celerina filed a petition for annulment of judgment before the Court of Appeals on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. According to Celerina, her true residence was in Neptune Extension, Congressional Avenue, Quezon City.This residence had been her and Ricardo's conjugal dwelling since 1989 until Ricardo left in May 2008.As a result of Ricardo's misrepresentation, she was deprived of any notice of and opportunity to oppose the petition declaring her presumptively dead.


            Whether or not the CA erred in affirming the RTC


            Yes. A second marriage is bigamous while the first subsists.  However, a bigamous subsequent marriage may be considered valid when the following are present: The prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years; The spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead; There must be a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse; and There is a court declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse. Marriages contracted prior to the valid termination of a subsisting marriage are generally considered bigamous and void. If, as Celerina contends, Ricardo was in bad faith when he filed his petition to declare her presumptively dead and when he contracted the subsequent marriage, such marriage would be considered void for being bigamous under Article 35(4) of the Family Code. Celerina does not admit to have been absent. She also seeks not merely the termination of the subsequent marriage but also the nullification of its effects. She contends that reappearance is not a sufficient remedy because it will only terminate the subsequent marriage but not nullify the effects of the declaration of her presumptive death and the subsequent marriage. Celerina is correct. Since an undisturbed subsequent marriage under Article 42 of the Family Code is valid until terminated, the "children of such marriage shall be considered legitimate, and the property relations of the spouses in such marriage will be the same as in valid... marriages."If it is terminated by mere reappearance, the children of the subsequent marriage conceived before the termination shall still be considered legitimate. Moreover, a judgment declaring presumptive death is a defense against prosecution for bigamy.





Santiago v. People

G.R. No. 200233

July 15, 2015


            Four months after solemnization of marriage, Leonila (petitioner) and Nicanor Santiago were served an information for Bigamy for the prosecution adduced that Nicaonor was still married to Estela when he entered into the 2nd marriage; he was able to escape while petitioner pleaded ‘not guilty’ relying on the fact that when she married him, she thought he was single. She soon averred that their marriage was void due to lack of marriage license, wherein she should not then be charged with bigamy. 11 years after inception if criminal case, Estela Galang, the first wife, testified for the prosecution. She alleged that she had met petitioner and introduced herself as the legal wife. Petitioner denied allegation and stated that she met Estela only after she had already married Nicanor.


Whether or not petitioner is co-accused in the instant case of Bigamy and the marriage between Leonila and Nicanor is valid


            Lower courts consistently found that petitioner indeed knew of the first marriage as shown by the totality of the following circumstances: (1) when Nicanor was courting and visiting petitioner in the house of her in-laws, they openly showed their disapproval of him (2) it was incredible for a learned person like petitioner to not know of his true civil status (3) Estela, who was the more credible witness, compared to petitioner who had various inconsistent testimonies, straightforwardly testified that she had already told petitioner on two occasions that the former was the legal wife of Nicanor. In People v. Archilla, knowledge of the second wife of the fact of her spouse’s existing prior marriage, constitutes an indispensable cooperation in the commission of Bigamy, which makes her responsible as an accomplice. She is not co-accused. She is guilty of Bigamy as an accomplice thereby sentenced to 6m arresto mayor to four years prision correccional.




Lasanas v. People

G.R. No. 159031

June 23, 2014


On February 16, 1968, Judge Carlos B. Salazar of the Municipal Trial Court of San Miguel, Iloilo solemnized the marriage of accused Noel Lasanas and Socorro Patingo without the benefit of a marriage license. The records show that Lasanas and Patingo had not executed any affidavit of cohabitation to excuse the lack of the marriage license. On August 27, 1980, Lasanas and Patingo reaffirmed their marriage vows in a religious ceremony before Fr. Rodolfo Tamayo at the San Jose Church in Iloilo City. They submitted no marriage license or affidavit of cohabitation for that purpose. Both ceremonies were evidenced by the corresponding marriage certificates. In 1982, Lasanas and Patingo separated de facto because of irreconcilable differences. On December 27, 1993, the accused contracted marriage with Josefa Eslaban in a religious ceremony solemnized by Fr. Ramon Sequito at the Sta. Maria Church in Iloilo City. Their marriage certificate reflected the civil status of the accused as single. On July 26, 1996, the accused filed a complaint for annulment of marriage and damages against Socorro in the RTC in Iloilo City, which was docketed as Civil Case No. 23133 and raffled to Branch 39 of the RTC. The complaint alleged that Socorro had employed deceit, misrepresentations and fraud in securing his consent to their marriage; and that subsequent marital breaches, psychological incompatibilities and her infidelity had caused him to suffer mental anguish, sleepless nights and social humiliation warranting the award of damages.


Whether or not that the RTC and the CA incorrectly applied the provisions of Article 349 of the RPC


Yes.  Based on the findings of the CA, this case has all the foregoing elements attendant. The first and second elements of bigamy were present in view of the absence of a judicial declaration of nullity of marriage between the accused and Socorro. The requirement of securing a judicial declaration of nullity of marriage prior to contracting a subsequent marriage is found in Article 40 of the Family Code, to wit: Article 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 previous marriage void. The reason for the provision was aptly discussed in Teves v. People: 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. 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. The Family Law Revision Committee and the Civil Code Revision Committee which drafted what is now the Family Code of the Philippines took the position that parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that their marriage is void even if such be the fact but must first secure a judicial declaration of the nullity of their marriage before they can be allowed to marry again. 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 marriage, the person who marries again cannot be charged with bigamy. In numerous cases, this Court has consistently held that a judicial declaration of nullity is required before a valid subsequent marriage can be contracted; or else, what transpires is a bigamous marriage, reprehensible and immoral.

The accused’s defense of acting in good faith deserves scant consideration especially because the records show that he had filed a complaint for the annulment of his marriage with Socorro prior to the institution of the criminal complaint against him but after he had already contracted his second marriage with Josefa. But even such defense would abandon him because the RTC dismissed his complaint for annulment of marriage after the information for bigamy had already been filed against him, thus confirming the validity of his marriage to Socorro. Considering that the accused’s subsequent marriage to Josefa was an undisputed fact, the third element of bigamy was established. Nonetheless, he submits that his marriage to Josefa was invalid because of lack of a recorded judgment of nullity of marriage. Such argument had no worth, however, because it was he himself who failed to secure a judicial declaration of nullity of his previous marriage prior to contracting his subsequent marriage. In Tenebro v. Court of Appeals, the Court has explained that "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.



Ronulo v. People

G.R. 182438

July 2, 2014


                Joey Umadac and Claire Bingayen were scheduled to marry on 29 March 2003 at the Sta. Rosa Catholic Parish Church in Ilocos Norte. But on the day of the wedding, the church's officiating priest refused to solemnize the marriage because of lack of a marriage license. With the couple and the guests already dressed for the wedding, they headed to an Aglipayan Church. The Aglipayan priest, herein petitioner Ronulo, conducted a ceremony on the same day where the couple took each other as husband and wife in front of the guests. This was despite Petitioner's knowledge of the couple's lack of marriage license. Petitioner was eventually charged of violating Article 352 of the RPC for performing an illegal marriage ceremony. The MTC did not believe Petitioner's defense that what he did was an act of blessing and was not tantamount to solemnization of marriage and was found guilty.


Whether or not petitioner committed an illegal marriage.


 Yes.Article 352 of the RPC penalizes an authorized solemnizing officer who shall perform or authorize any illegal marriage ceremony. The elements of this crime are: authority of the solemnizing officer; and his performance of an illegal marriage ceremony.The first element is present since Petitioner himself admitted that he has authority to solemnize a marriage.The second element is present since the alleged "blessing" by Petitioner is tantamount to the performance of an illegal marriage ceremony.There is no prescribed form or rite for the solemnization of a marriage. However, Article 6 of the Family Code provides that it shall be necessary: for the contracting parties to appear personally before the solemnizing officer; and declare in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age that they take each other as husband and wife.The first requirement is present since petitioner admitted to it. The second requirement is likewise present since the prosecution, through the testimony of its witnesses, proved that the contracting parties personally declared that they take each other as husband and wife.The penalty for violating Article 352 of the RPC is in accordance with the provision of the Marriage Law, specifically Article 44, which states that:

Section 44. General Penal Clause – Any violation of any provision of this Act not specifically penalized, or of the regulations to be promulgated by the proper authorities, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred pesos or by imprisonment for not more than one month, or both, in the discretion of the court.

As such, Petitioner was held guilty of violating Article 352 and was fined P200 as penalty.

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