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G-R-No-133778-Ninal-v-Bayalo-

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Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 133778 March 14, 2000
ENGRACE NIÑAL for Herself and as Guardian ad Litem of the minors BABYLINE NIÑAL, INGRID NIÑAL,
ARCHIE NIÑAL & PEPITO NIÑAL, JR., petitioners,
vs.
NORMA BAYADOG, respondent.
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
May the heirs of a deceased person file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage after his death?
Pepito Niñal was married to Teodulfa Bellones on September 26, 1974. Out of their marriage were born herein petitioners.
Teodulfa was shot by Pepito resulting in her death on April 24, 1985. One year and 8 months thereafter or on December
11, 1986, Pepito and respondent Norma Badayog got married without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, Pepito and
Norma executed an affidavit dated December 11, 1986 stating that they had lived together as husband and wife for at least
five years and were thus exempt from securing a marriage license. On February 19, 1997, Pepito died in a car accident.
After their father's death, petitioners filed a petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage of Pepito to Norma alleging
that the said marriage was void for lack of a marriage license. The case was filed under the assumption that the validity or
invalidity of the second marriage would affect petitioner's successional rights. Norma filed a motion to dismiss on the
ground that petitioners have no cause of action since they are not among the persons who could file an action for
"annulment of marriage" under Article 47 of the Family Code.
Judge Ferdinand J. Marcos of the Regional Trial Court of Toledo City, Cebu, Branch 59, dismissed the petition after
finding that the Family Code is "rather silent, obscure, insufficient" to resolve the following issues:
(1) Whether or not plaintiffs have a cause of action against defendant in asking for the declaration of the nullity of
marriage of their deceased father, Pepito G. Niñal, with her specially so when at the time of the filing of this instant suit,
their father Pepito G. Niñal is already dead;
(2) Whether or not the second marriage of plaintiffs' deceased father with defendant is null and void ab initio;
(3) Whether or not plaintiffs are estopped from assailing the validity of the second marriage after it was dissolved due to
their father's death.
1
Thus, the lower court ruled that petitioners should have filed the action to declare null and void their father's marriage to
respondent before his death, applying by analogy Article 47 of the Family Code which enumerates the time and the
persons who could initiate an action for annulment of marriage.
2
Hence, this petition for review with this Court grounded
on a pure question of law.
This petition was originally dismissed for non-compliance with Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
and because "the verification failed to state the basis of petitioner's averment that the allegations in the petition are "true
and correct"." It was thus treated as an unsigned pleading which produces no legal effect under Section 3, Rule 7, of the
1997 Rules.
3
However, upon motion of petitioners, this Court reconsidered the dismissal and reinstated the petition for
review.
4
The two marriages involved herein having been solemnized prior to the effectivity of the Family Code (FC), the
applicable law to determine their validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of their celebration.
5
A
valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the Civil Code,
6
the absence of which renders the
marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3)
7
in relation to Article 58.
8
The requirement and issuance of marriage
license is the State's demonstration of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the
general public is interested.
9
This interest proceeds from the constitutional mandate that the State recognizes the sanctity
of family life and of affording protection to the family as a basic "autonomous social institution."
10
Specifically, the
Constitution considers marriage as an "inviolable social institution," and is the foundation of family life which shall be
protected by the State.
11
This is why the Family Code considers marriage as "a special contract of permanent union"
12
and case law considers it "not just an adventure but a lifetime commitment."
13
However, there are several instances recognized by the Civil Code wherein a marriage license is dispensed with, one of
which is that provided in Article 76,
14
referring to the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together and
exclusively with each other as husband and wife for a continuous and unbroken period of at least five years before the
marriage. The rationale why no license is required in such case is to avoid exposing the parties to humiliation, shame and
embarrassment concomitant with the scandalous cohabitation of persons outside a valid marriage due to the publication of
every applicant's name for a marriage license. The publicity attending the marriage license may discourage such persons
from legitimizing their status.
15
To preserve peace in the family, avoid the peeping and suspicious eye of public exposure

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and contain the source of gossip arising from the publication of their names, the law deemed it wise to preserve their
privacy and exempt them from that requirement.
There is no dispute that the marriage of petitioners' father to respondent Norma was celebrated without any marriage
license. In lieu thereof, they executed an affidavit stating that "they have attained the age of majority, and, being
unmarried, have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years, and that we now desire to marry each other."
16
The only issue that needs to be resolved pertains to what nature of cohabitation is contemplated under Article 76 of the
Civil Code to warrant the counting of the five year period in order to exempt the future spouses from securing a marriage
license. Should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties are capacitated to marry each other during the entire five-year
continuous period or should it be a cohabitation wherein both parties have lived together and exclusively with each other
as husband and wife during the entire five-year continuous period regardless of whether there is a legal impediment to
their being lawfully married, which impediment may have either disappeared or intervened sometime during the
cohabitation period?
Working on the assumption that Pepito and Norma have lived together as husband and wife for five years without the
benefit of marriage, that five-year period should be computed on the basis of a cohabitation as "husband and wife" where
the only missing factor is the special contract of marriage to validate the union. In other words, the five-year common-law
cohabitation period, which is counted back from the date of celebration of marriage, should be a period of legal union had
it not been for the absence of the marriage. This 5-year period should be the years immediately before the day of the
marriage and it should be a period of cohabitation characterized by exclusivity meaning no third party was involved at
anytime within the 5 years and continuity that is unbroken. Otherwise, if that continuous 5-year cohabitation is
computed without any distinction as to whether the parties were capacitated to marry each other during the entire five
years, then the law would be sanctioning immorality and encouraging parties to have common law relationships and
placing them on the same footing with those who lived faithfully with their spouse. Marriage being a special relationship
must be respected as such and its requirements must be strictly observed. The presumption that a man and a woman
deporting themselves as husband and wife is based on the approximation of the requirements of the law. The parties
should not be afforded any excuse to not comply with every single requirement and later use the same missing element as
a pre-conceived escape ground to nullify their marriage. There should be no exemption from securing a marriage license
unless the circumstances clearly fall within the ambit of the exception. It should be noted that a license is required in order
to notify the public that two persons are about to be united in matrimony and that anyone who is aware or has knowledge
of any impediment to the union of the two shall make it known to the local civil registrar.
17
The Civil Code provides:
Art. 63: . . . This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to advice the local
civil registrar thereof. . . .
Art. 64: Upon being advised of any alleged impediment to the marriage, the local civil registrar shall forthwith make an
investigation, examining persons under oath. . . .
This is reiterated in the Family Code thus:
Art. 17 provides in part: . . . This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to
advise the local civil registrar thereof. . . .
Art. 18 reads in part: . . . In case of any impediment known to the local civil registrar or brought to his attention, he shall
note down the particulars thereof and his findings thereon in the application for a marriage license. . . .
This is the same reason why our civil laws, past or present, absolutely prohibited the concurrence of multiple marriages by
the same person during the same period. Thus, any marriage subsequently contracted during the lifetime of the first
spouse shall be illegal and void,
18
subject only to the exception in cases of absence or where the prior marriage was
dissolved or annulled. The Revised Penal Code complements the civil law in that the contracting of two or more
marriages and the having of extramarital affairs are considered felonies, i.e., bigamy and concubinage and adultery.
19
The
law sanctions monogamy.
In this case, at the time of Pepito and respondent's marriage, it cannot be said that they have lived with each other as
husband and wife for at least five years prior to their wedding day. From the time Pepito's first marriage was dissolved to
the time of his marriage with respondent, only about twenty months had elapsed. Even assuming that Pepito and his first
wife had separated in fact, and thereafter both Pepito and respondent had started living with each other that has already
lasted for five years, the fact remains that their five-year period cohabitation was not the cohabitation contemplated by
law. It should be in the nature of a perfect union that is valid under the law but rendered imperfect only by the absence of
the marriage contract. Pepito had a subsisting marriage at the time when he started cohabiting with respondent. It is
immaterial that when they lived with each other, Pepito had already been separated in fact from his lawful spouse. The
subsistence of the marriage even where there was actual severance of the filial companionship between the spouses cannot
make any cohabitation by either spouse with any third party as being one as "husband and wife".
Having determined that the second marriage involved in this case is not covered by the exception to the requirement of a
marriage license, it is void ab initio because of the absence of such element.

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 133778             March 14, 2000 ENGRACE NIÑAL for Herself and as Guardian ad Litem of the minors BABYLINE NIÑAL, INGRID NIÑAL, ARCHIE NIÑAL & PEPITO NIÑAL, JR., petitioners, vs. NORMA BAYADOG, respondent. YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: May the heirs of a deceased person file a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage after his death? Pepito Niñal was married to Teodulfa Bellones on September 26, 1974. Out of their marriage were born herein petitioners. Teodulfa was shot by Pepito resulting in her death on April 24, 1985. One year and 8 months thereafter or on December 11, 1986, Pepito and respondent Norma Badayog got married without any marriage license. In lieu thereof, Pepito and Norma executed an affidavit dated December 11, 1986 stating that they had lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and were thus exempt from securing a marriage license. On February 19, 1997, Pepito died in a car accident. After their father's death, petitioners filed a petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage of Pepito to Norma alleging that the said marriage was void for lack of a marriage license. The case was filed under the assumption that the validity or invalidity of the second marriage would affect petitioner's successional rights. Norma filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that petitioners have no cause of action since they are not among the persons who could file ...
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