No. 65  EDWARD KENNETH NGO TE,  vs  ROWENA ONG GUTIERREZ YU-TE ( G.R. No. 161793, Feb. 13, 2009)

EDWARD KENNETH NGO TE, Petitioner

  • versus –

ROWENA ONG GUTIERREZ YU-TE, Respondent

Facts:
Edward Kenneth Ngo Te and Rowena Ong Gutierrez Yu met at a Filipino-Chinese gathering in a school campus. Initially, he was attracted to Rowena’s close friend but, as the latter already had a boyfriend, the young man decided to court rowena. Along the way they developed a closeness due to a shared similar angst towards families

Three months after their meeting, Rowena proposed to Kenneth that they should elope. Kenneth initially refused on the ground that he was still young and jobless. But due to Rowena’s persistence Kenneth complied bringing with him P80K.
The money soon after disappeared and they found themselves forced to return to their respective home.
During their stay at Rowena’s uncle, they were brought before a court to be married. After marriage, the couple stayed on the same house Kenneth was treated like a prisoner.

At one point the petitioner was able to contact home and had a conversation with his brothers who suggested that they should stay at the house of the petioners parents to which when relayed by kenneth to rowena insisted that kenneth should get his inheritance and live on their own. His dad insisted that he come hone or otherwise he will be disinherited.
One month later, Kenneth was able to escape and he was hidden from Rowena’s family. Kenneth later contacted Rowena urging her to live with his parents. Unmoved, Rowena said that it was better for them to live separate lives. They then parted ways.

Four years later, Kenneth filed a petition for annulment of his marriage with Rowena. Rowena did not file an answer. The City Prosecutor, after investigation, submitted that he cannot determine if there is collusion between the two parties. Eventually, the case was tried. The opinion of an expert was sought wherein the psychologist subsequently ruled that both parties are psychologically incapacitated. The said relationship between Kenneth and Rowena is said to be undoubtedly in the wreck and weakly-founded. The break-up was caused by both parties’ unreadiness to commitment and their young age. Kenneth was still in the state of finding his fate and fighting boredom, while Rowena was still egocentrically involved with herself. The trial court ruled that the marriage is void upon the findings of the expert psychologist. The Solicitor General (OSG) appealed and the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the OSG. The OSG claimed that the psychological incapacity of both parties was not shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable (Molina case). The clinical psychologist did not personally examine Rowena, and relied only on the information provided by Kenneth. Further, the psychological incapacity was not shown to be attended by gravity, juridical antecedence and incurability. All these were requirements set forth in the Molina case to be followed as guidelines.

Issue:
Whether or not the marriage between the parties is null and void on the grounds of psychological incapacity base on the findings of the expert psychologist.

Held
Yes.
The psychologist who provided expert testimony found both parties psychologically incapacitated. Petitioner’s behavioral pattern falls under the classification of dependent personality disorder, and respondent’s, that of the narcissistic and antisocial personality disorder. As clearly shown in this case, petitioner followed everything dictated to him
by the persons around him. He is insecure, weak and gullible, has no sense of
his identity as a person, has no cohesive self to speak of, and has no goals
and clear direction in life.

The court hold that the petitioner, who is afflicted with dependent personality disorder, cannot assume the essential marital obligations of living together, observing love, respect and fidelity and rendering help and support, for he is unable to make everyday decisions without advice from others, allows others to make most of his important decisions (such as where to live), tends to agree with people even when he believes they are wrong, has difficulty doing things on his own, volunteers to do things that are demeaning in order to get approval from other people, feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone an As clearly shown in this case, petitioner followed everything dictated to him by the persons around him. He is insecure, weak and gullible, has no sense of his identity as a person, has no cohesive self to speak of, and has no goals and clear direction in life.

Although on a different plane, the same may also be said of the respondent. Her being afflicted with antisocial personality disorder makes her unable to assume the essential marital obligations. This finding takes into account her disregard for the rights of others, her abuse, mistreatment and control of others without remorse, her tendency to blame others, and her intolerance of the conventional behavioral limitations imposed by society. Moreover, as shown in this case, respondent is impulsive and domineering; she had no qualms in manipulating petitioner with her threats of blackmail and of committing suicide.

Both parties being afflicted with grave, severe and incurable psychological incapacity, the precipitous marriage which they contracted on April 23, 1996 is thus, declared null and void.

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