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G.R. No. 170022 : January 09, 2013 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. CESAR ENCELAN, RESPONDENT.

G.R. No. 170022 : January 09, 2013 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. CESAR ENCELAN, RESPONDENT.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 170022, January 09, 2013]

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. CESAR ENCELAN, Respondent.

D E C I S I O N

BRION, J.:

We resolve the petition for review on certiorari1ςrνl1 filed by petitioner Republic of the Philippines challenging the October 7, 2005 amended decision2ςrνl1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) that reconsidered its March 22, 2004 decision3ςrνl1 (original decision) in CA-G.R. CV No. 75583. In its original decision, the CA set aside the June 5, 2002 decision4ςrνl1 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 47, in Civil Case No. 95-74257, which

The Factual Antecedents

On August 25, 1979, Cesar married Lolita5ςrνl1 and the union bore two children, Maricar and Manny.6ςrνl1 To support his family, Cesar went to work in Saudi Arabia on May 15, 1984. On June 12, 1986, Cesar, while still in Saudi Arabia, learned that Lolita had been having an illicit affair with Alvin Perez. Sometime in 1991,7ςrνl1 Lolita allegedly left the conjugal home with her children and lived with Alvin. Since then, Cesar and Lolita had been separated. On June 16, 1995, Cesar filed with the RTC a petition against Lolita for the declaration of the nullity of his marriage based on Lolita's psychological incapacity.8ςrνl1

Lolita denied that she had an affair with Alvin; she contended that Alvin used to be an associate in her promotions business. She insisted that she is not psychologically incapacitated and that she left their home because of irreconcilable differences with her mother-in-law.9ςrνl1

At the trial, Cesar affirmed his allegations of Lolita's infidelity and subsequent abandonment of the family home.10ςrνl1 He testified that he continued to provide financial support for Lolita and their children even after he learned of her illicit affair with Alvin.11ςrνl1

Cesar presented the psychological evaluation report12ςrνl1 on Lolita prepared by Dr. Fareda Fatima Flores of the National Center for Mental Health. Dr. Flores found that Lolita was "not suffering from any form of major psychiatric illness[,]”13ςrνl1 but had been "unable to provide the expectations expected of her for a good and lasting marital relationship”;14ςrνl1 her "transferring from one job to the other depicts some interpersonal problems with co-workers as well as her impatience in attaining her ambitions”;15ςrνl1 and "her refusal to go with her husband abroad signifies her reluctance to work out a good marital and family relationship.”16ςrνl1

The RTC Ruling

In its June 5, 2002 decision,17ςrνl1 the RTC declared Cesar's marriage to Lolita void, finding sufficient basis to declare Lolita psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations.cralawlibrary

The petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), appealed to the CA.cralawlibrary

The CA Ruling

The CA originally18ςrνl1 set aside the RTC's verdict, finding that Lolita's abandonment of the conjugal dwelling and infidelity were not serious cases of personality disorder/psychological illness. Lolita merely refused to comply with her marital obligations which she was capable of doing. The CA significantly observed that infidelity is only a ground for legal separation, not for the declaration of the nullity of a marriage.cralawlibrary

Cesar sought reconsideration19ςrνl1 of the CA's decision and, in due course, attained his objective. The CA set aside its original decision and entered another, which affirmed the RTC's decision. In its amended decision,20 the CA found two circumstances indicative of Lolita's serious psychological incapacity that resulted in her gross infidelity: (1) Lolita's unwarranted refusal to perform her marital obligations to Cesar; and (2) Lolita's willful and deliberate act of abandoning the conjugal dwelling.cralawlibrary

The OSG then filed the present petition.cralawlibrary

The Petition

The OSG argues that Dr. Flores' psychological evaluation report did not disclose that Lolita had been suffering from a psychological illness nor did it establish its juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability; infidelity and abandonment do not constitute psychological incapacity, but are merely grounds for legal separation.cralawlibrary

The Case for the Respondent

Cesar submits that Lolita's infidelity and refusal to perform her marital obligations established her grave and incurable psychological incapacity.cralawlibrary

The Issue

The case presents to us the legal issue of whether there exists sufficient basis to nullify Cesar's marriage to Lolita on the ground of psychological incapacity.cralawlibrary

The Court's Ruling

We grant the petition. No sufficient basis exists to annul Cesar's marriage to Lolita on the ground of psychological incapacity.

Applicable Law and Jurisprudence
on Psychological Incapacity


Article 36 of the Family Code governs psychological incapacity as a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage. It provides that "[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 interpreting this provision, we have repeatedly stressed that psychological incapacity contemplates "downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations”;21ςrνl1 not merely the refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will, on the part of the errant spouse.22ςrνl1 The plaintiff bears the burden of proving the juridical antecedence (i.e., the existence at the time of the celebration of marriage), gravity and incurability of the condition of the errant spouse.23ςrνl1

Cesar failed to prove Lolita's
psychological incapacity


In this case, Cesar's testimony failed to prove Lolita's alleged psychological incapacity. Cesar testified on the dates when he learned of Lolita's alleged affair and her subsequent abandonment of their home,24ςrνl1 as well as his continued financial support to her and their children even after he learned of the affair,25ςrνl1 but he merely mentioned in passing Lolita's alleged affair with Alvin and her abandonment of the conjugal dwelling.cralawlibrary

In any event, sexual infidelity and abandonment of the conjugal dwelling, even if true, do not necessarily constitute psychological incapacity; these are simply grounds for legal separation.26ςrνl1 To constitute psychological incapacity, it must be shown that the unfaithfulness and abandonment are manifestations of a disordered personality that completely prevented the erring spouse from discharging the essential marital obligations.27ςrνl1 No evidence on record exists to support Cesar's allegation that Lolita's infidelity and abandonment were manifestations of any psychological illness.cralawlibrary

Cesar mistakenly relied on Dr. Flores' psychological evaluation report on Lolita to prove her alleged psychological incapacity. The psychological evaluation, in fact, established that Lolita did not suffer from any major psychiatric illness.28Ï‚rνl1 Dr. Flores' observation on Lolita's interpersonal problems with co-workers,29Ï‚rνl1 to our mind, does not suffice as a consideration for the conclusion that she was – at the time of her marriage – psychologically incapacitated to enter into a marital union with Cesar. Aside from the time element involved, a wife's psychological fitness as a spouse cannot simply be equated with her professional/work relationship; workplace obligations and responsibilities are poles apart from their marital counterparts. While both spring from human relationship, their relatedness and relevance to one another should be fully established for them to be compared or to serve as measures of comparison with one another. To be sure, the evaluation report Dr. Flores prepared and submitted cannot serve this purpose. Dr. Flores' further belief that Lolita's refusal to go with Cesar abroad signified a reluctance to work out a good marital relationship30Ï‚rνl1 is a mere generalization unsupported by facts and is, in fact, a rash conclusion that this Court cannot support.cralawlibrary

In sum, we find that Cesar failed to prove the existence of Lolita's psychological incapacity; thus, the CA committed a reversible error when it reconsidered its original decision.cralawlibrary

Once again, we stress that marriage is an inviolable social institution31ςrνl1 protected by the State. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of its existence its existence and continuation and against its dissolution and nullity.32ςrνl1 It cannot be dissolved at the whim of the parties nor by transgressions made by one party to the other during the marriage.cralawlibrary

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition and SET ASIDE the October 7, 2005 amended decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 75583. Accordingly, we DISMISS respondent Cesar Encelan's petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lolita Castillo-Encelan.cralawlibrary

Costs against the respondent.cralawlibrary

SO ORDERED.

Carpio, (Chairperson), Del Castillo, Perez, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.cralawlibrary

Endnotes:


1ςrνl1 Under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure; rollo, pp. 9 37.cralawlibrary

2ςrνl1 Penned by Associate Justice Elvi John S. Asuncion, and concurred in by Associate Justices Godardo A. Jacinto and Lucas P. Bersamin (now a member of this Court); id. at 39-42.cralawlibrary

3ςrνl1 Id. at 43-50.cralawlibrary

4ςrνl1 Records, pp. 436-438; penned by Judge Nimfa Cuesta-Yilches.cralawlibrary

5ςrνl1 Id. at 6.cralawlibrary

6ςrνl1 Id. at 7-8.cralawlibrary

7ςrνl1 Id. at 2 and 73. Also stated as "1989" and "1990" in other parts of the record and the TSN; rollo, pp. 44 and 92; TSN, August 22, 1996, p. 36; records, p. 119.cralawlibrary

8ςrνl1 Records, pp. 1-4.cralawlibrary

9ςrνl1 Id. at 165-167 and 313-318.cralawlibrary

10ςrνl1 Id. at 115-119.cralawlibrary

11ςrνl1 Id. at 104-114.cralawlibrary

12ςrνl1 Id. at 243-245.cralawlibrary

13ςrνl1 Id. at 245.cralawlibrary

14ςrνl1 Ibid.

15ςrνl1 Ibid.cralawlibrary

16ςrνl1 Ibid.

17ςrνl1 Supra note 4.cralawlibrary

18ςrνl1 Supra note 2.cralawlibrary

19ςrνl1 CA rollo, pp. 87-93.cralawlibrary

20ςrνl1 Supra note 2.cralawlibrary

21ςrνl1 Kalaw v. Fernandez, G.R. No. 166357, September 19, 2011, 657 SCRA 822, 836-837.cralawlibrary

22ςrνl1 Agraviador v. Amparo-Agraviador, G.R. No. 170729, December 8, 2010, 637 SCRA 519, 538; Toring v. Toring, G.R. No. 165321, August 3, 2010, 626 SCRA 389, 405; Paz v. Paz, G.R. No. 166579, February 18, 2010, 613 SCRA 195, 205; Navales v. Navales, G.R. No. 167523, June 27, 2008, 556 SCRA 272, 288; Paras v. Paras, G.R. No. 147824, August 2, 2007, 529 SCRA 81, 106; Republic of the Phils. v. Iyoy, 507 Phil. 485, 502 (2005); and Rep. of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals, 335 Phil. 664, 678 (1997).cralawlibrary

23ςrνl1 Kalaw v. Fernandez, supra note 21, at 823; Republic v. Galang, G.R. No. 168335, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 524, 544; Dimayuga-Laurena v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 159220, September 22, 2008, 566 SCRA 154, 161-162; Republic v. Cabantug-Baguio, G.R. No. 171042, June 30, 2008, 556 SCRA 711, 725; Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, 377 Phil. 919, 932 (1999); and Rep. of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals, supra, at 676.cralawlibrary

24ςrνl1 Supra note 10.cralawlibrary

25ςrνl1 Supra note 11.cralawlibrary

26ςrνl1 The Family Code, Art. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:

x x x x

(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion;

x x x x

(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.

27ςrνl1 Toring v. Toring, supra note 22, at 406.cralawlibrary

28ςrνl1 Supra note 13.cralawlibrary

29ςrνl1 Supra note 15.cralawlibrary

30ςrνl1 Supra note 16.cralawlibrary

31ςrνl1 Bolos v. Bolos, G.R. No. 186400, October 20, 2010, 634 SCRA 429, 439; and Camacho-Reyes v. Reyes, G.R. No. 185286, August 18, 2010, 628 SCRA 461, 464.cralawlibrary
32ςrνl1 Ochosa v. Alano, G.R. No. 167459, January 26, 2011, 640 SCRA 517, 524; Republic v. Cabamug-Baguio, supra note 23, at 727; and Rep. of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals, supra note 23, at 676.
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