No. 66. Tenebro v. Court of Appeals ( G.R No. 150758, February 18, 2004)

VERONICO TENEBRO, petitioner
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondent.

Facts:

Veronico Tenebro engaged into marriage with private complainant Leticia Ancajas on April 10, 1990. They lived together continuosly and without interruption until the latter part of 1991, when Tenebro informed Ancajas that he had been previously married to a certain Hilda Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Tenebro showed Ancajas a photocopy of a marriage contract between him and Villareyes. Invoking this previous marriage, petitioner thereafter left the conjugal dwelling which he shared with Ancajas, stating that he was going to cohabit with Villareyes. On January 25, 1993, petitioner contracted yet another marriage, this one with a certain Nilda Villegas. When Ancajas learned of this third marriage, she verified from Villareyes whether the latter was indeed married to petitioner. In a handwritten letter, Villareyes confirmed that petitioner, Veronico Tenebro, was indeed her husband. Ancajas thereafter filed a complaint for bigamy against petitioner. Villegas countered that his marriage with Villareyes cannot be proven as a fact there being no record of such. He further argued that his second marriage, with Ancajas, has been declared void ab initio due to psychological incapacity. Hence he cannot be charged for bigamy.

ISSUE: Whether or not Tenebro  is guilty of bigamy.

HELD: Individual who contracts a second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage is criminally liable for bigamy notwithstanding the declaration of the second marriage as void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity.

SEPARATE OPINION

VITUG, J.

Would the absolute nullity of either first or second marriage prior to its judicial declaration as being void, constitute a valid defense in a criminal action for bigamy? Yes. Except for a void marriage on account of psychological incapacity—void marriages are inexistent from the very beginning, and no judicial decree is required to establish their nullity. The complete nullity of a previously contracted marriage being void ab initio and legally inexistent can outrightly be a defense in an indictment for bigamy. Strong reservation on the ruling that bigamy is still committed though marriage is ab initio null and void (if marriage is contracted before th judicial declaration of its nullity). Canon law-reconcile grounds for nullity of marriage. Reasons why except those due to psychological incapacity:

  1. a) Breaches neither the essential nor the formal requisites of marriage
  2. b) Other grounds are capable of relatively easy demonstration, psychological incapacity however, being a mental state may not be so readily evident
  3. c) It remains valid and binding until declared judicially as void
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