Sie sind auf Seite 1von 47

THE FAMILY CODE

BREACH OF PROMISE TO MARRY

G.R. No. L-5028 November 26, 1952


FELIPE CABAGUE and GERONIMO CABAGUE, plaintiffs-appellants,
vs.
MATIAS AUXILIO and SOCORRO AUXILIO, defendants-appellees.
According to the Rules of Court parol evidence is not admissible to prove an agreement
made upon the consideration of marriage other than a mutual promise to marry.1 This litigation
calls for application of that rule.
In the justice of the peace court of Basud, Camarines Norte, Felipe Cabague and his son
Geronimo sued the defendant Matias Auxilio and his daughter Socorro to recover damages
resulting from defendants' refusal to carry out the previously agreed marriage between Socorro
and Geronimo.
The complaint alleged, in short: (a) that defendants promised such marriage to plaintiffs,
provided the latter would improve the defendants' house in Basud and spend for the wedding
feast and the needs of the bride; (b) that relying upon such promises plaintiffs made the
improvement and spent P700; and (c) that without cause defendants refused to honor their
pledged word.
The defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the contract was oral, unenforceable under
the rule of evidence hereinbefore mentioned. And the court dismissed the case. On appeal
to the Court of First Instance, the plaintiffs reproduced their complaint and defendants reiterated
their motion to dismiss. From an order of dismissal this appeal was perfected in due time
and form.
It should be observed preliminarily that, under the former rules of procedure, when the complaint
did not state whether the contract sued on was in writing or not, the statute of frauds could
be no ground for demurrer. Under the new Rules "defendant may now present a motion
to dismiss on the ground that the contract was not in writing, even if such fact is not apparent
on the face of the complaint. The fact may be proved by him." (Moran Rules of Court
2d ed. p. 139 Vol. I.)
There is no question here that the transaction was not in writing. The only issue is whether
it may be proved in court.
The understanding between the plaintiffs on one side and the defendants on the other, really
involves two kinds of agreement. One, the agreement between Felipe Cabague and the
defendants in consideration of the marriage of Socorro and Geronimo. Another, the agreement
between the two lovers, as "a mutual promise to marry". For breach of that mutual promise
to marry, Geronimo may sue Socorro for damages. This is such action, and evidence of
such mutual promise is admissible.2 However Felipe Cabague's action may not prosper, because
it is to enforce an agreement in consideration of marriage. Evidently as to Felipe Cabague
and Matias Auxilio this action could not be maintained on the theory of "mutual promise
to marry".3 Neither may it be regarded as action by Felipe against Socorro "on a mutual
promise to marry."
Consequently, we declare that Geronimo may continue his action against Socorro for such
damages as may have resulted from her failure to carry out their mutual matrimonial promises.
Wherefore this expediente will be returned to the lower court for further proceedings in accordance
with this opinion. So ordered.
G.R. No. L-8166 February 8, 1916
JORGE DOMALAGAN, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
CARLOS BOLIFER, defendant-appellant.
This action was commenced in the Court of First Instance of the Province of Misamis, on
the 17th of December, 1910. It was not presented to the Supreme Court until the 11th of
January 1916. Its purpose was to recover of the defendant the sum of P516, together with
damages estimated in the sum of P350 and interest, and costs.
In support of his claim the plaintiff alleged that, in the month of November, 1909, he and
the defendant entered into a contract by virtue of the terms of which he was to pay to
the defendant the sum of P500 upon the marriage of his son Cipriano Domalagan with the
daughter of the defendant, Bonifacia Bolifer, that later, in the month of August, 1910, he
completed his obligation under said contract by paying to the defendant the said sum of
500, together with the further sum of P16 "as hansel or token of future marriage," that,
notwithstanding said agreement, the said Bonifacio Bolifer, in the month of August, 1910,
was joined in lawful wedlock to Laureano Sisi; that immediately upon learning of the marriage
of Bonifacia Bolifer he demanded of the defendant the return of the said sum of P516 together
with the interest and damages; that the damages which he suffered resulted from the fact
that he, in order to raise said sum of P500, was obliged to sell certain real property belonging
to him, located in the Province of Bohol, at a great sacrifice.
To the complaint the defendant presented a general denial. He also alleged that the facts
stated in the complaint do not constitute a cause of action. Upon the issue presented the
cause was brought on for trial. After hearing the evidence the Honorable Vicente Nepomuceno,
judge, in an extended opinion in which all of the evidence adduced during the trial of the
cause is carefully analyzed reached the conclusion "of fact that plaintiff delivered to defendant
the sum of P516 sued for and that Carlos Bolifer and Laureana Loquero received and did
not return the said amount," and for the reason that the evidence did not sufficiently show
that the plaintiff had suffered any additional damages, rendered a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff and against the defendant in said sum of P516 together with the interest at the
rate of 6 per cent from the 17th of December, 1910, and costs.
From that judgment the defendant appealed to this court and made the following assignments
of error:
1. In holding to be proven the fact of the delivery by the plaintiff of the sum of P516
to the defendant, Carlos Bolifer; and
2. In holding to be valid and effective the verbal contract entered into by the plaintiff
and the defendant in regard to the delivery of the money by reason of a prospective
marriage.
The first assignment of error presents a question of fact. The lower court found that a large
preponderance of the evidence showed that the plaintiff had delivered to the defendant the
sum of P516 in substantially the manner alleged in the complaint. Taking into consideration
that the lower court saw and heard the witnesses, together with the further fact that there
is an abundance of uncontradicted proof supporting the findings of the lower court, we are
not inclined to disturb its judgment for any of the reasons given by the appellant in support
of his first assignment of error.
With reference to the second assignment of error, the appellant calls our attention to the
provisions of paragraph 3 of section 335 of the Code of Procedure in Civil Action. The
appellant argues that by virtue of the provisions of said paragraph and by virtue of the fact
that the agreement upon which the plaintiff relies and under which he paid to the defendant
the sum of P516 had not been reduced to writing, he could therefore not recover. The
appellant contends that a contract, such as the one relied upon by the plaintiff, in order
to be valid, must be reduced to writing. We have examined the record in vain to find that
the defendant during the trial of the cause objected to any proof or any part thereof, presented
by the plaintiff which showed or tended to show the existence of the alleged contract. That
part of said section 335 which the appellant relies upon for relief provides:
In the following cases an agreement hereafter made shall be unenforceable by action
unless the same, or some note or memorandum thereof, be in writing, and subscribed
by the party charged, or by his agent; evidence, therefore, of the agreement can not
be received without the writing or secondary evidence of its contents:
3. An agreement made upon the consideration of marriage, other than a mutual promise
to marry.
It will be noted, by reference to said section, that "evidence " of the agreement referred
to "can not be received without the writing or secondary evidence of its contents." As was
said above all of the "evidence" relating to said "agreement" was admitted without the slightest
objection.
Said section (335) does not render oral contracts invalid. A contract may be valid and
yet, by virtue of said section, the parties will be unable to prove it. Said section provides
that the contract shall not be enforced by an action unless the same is evidence by some
note or memorandum. Said section simply provides the method by which the contract mentioned
therein may be proved. It does not declare that said contract are invalid, which have not
been reduced to writing, except perhaps those mentioned in paragraph 5 of said section
(335). A contract may be a perfectly valid contract even though it is not clothed with
the necessary form. If it is not made in confirmity with said section of course it cannot
be proved, if proper objection is made. But a failure to except to evidence presented in
order to prove the contract, because it does not conform to the statute, is a waiver of the
provisions of the law. If the parties to an action, during the trial of the cause, make no
objection to the admissibility of oral evidence to support contracts like the one in question
and permit the contract to be proved, by evidence other than a writing, it will be just as
binding upon the parties as if it had been reduced to writing. (Anson on Contracts, p.
75; Conlu vs. Araneta and Guanko, 15 Phil. Rep., 387; Gallemit vs. Tabiliran, 20 Phil.
Rep., 241, 246; Kuenzle and Streiff vs. Joingco, 22 Phil. Rep., 110, 112; Gomez vs. Salcedo,
26 Phil. Rep., 485, 489.)
For the foregoing reasons we find nothing in the record justifying a reversal or modification
of the judgment of the lower court based upon either assignment of error. Therefore the
judgment of the lower court is hereby affirmed, with costs. So ordered.
G.R. No. L-14628 September 30, 1960
FRANCISCO HERMOSISIMA, petitioner,
vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL., respondents.
An appeal by certiorari, taken by petitioner Francisco Hermosisima, from a decision of Court
of Appeals modifying that of the Court of First Instance of Cebu.
On October 4, 1954, Soledad Cagigas, hereinafter referred to as complaint, filed with said
of her child, Chris Hermosisima, as natural child and moral damages for alleged breach
of promise. Petitioner admitted the paternity of child and expressed willingness to support
the latter, but denied having ever promised to marry the complainant. Upon her motion,
said court ordered petitioner, on October 27, 1954, to pay, by way of alimony pendente
lite, P50.00 a month, which was, on February 16, 1955, reduced to P30.00 a month.
In due course, later on, said court rendered a decision the dispositive part of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, declaring the child, Chris Hermosisima, as
the natural daughter of defendant, and confirming the order pendente lite, ordering defendant
to pay to the said child, through plaintiff, the sum of thirty pesos (P30.00), payable
on or before the fifth day of every month sentencing defendant to pay to plaintiff the
sum of FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P4,500.00) for actual and
compensatory damages; the sum of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) as moral
damages; and the further sum of FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P500.00) as attorney's
fees for plaintiff, with costs against defendant.
On appeal taken by petitioner, the Court of Appeals affirmed this decision, except as to
the actual and compensatory damages and the moral damages, which were increased to
P5,614.25 and P7,000.00, respectively.
The main issue before us is whether moral damages are recoverable, under our laws, for
breach of promise to marry. The pertinent facts are:
Complainant Soledad Cagigas, was born in July 1917. Since 1950, Soledad then a teacher
in the Sibonga Provincial High School in Cebu, and petitioner, who was almost ten (10)
years younger than she, used to go around together and were regarded as engaged, although
he had made no promise of marriage prior thereto. In 1951, she gave up teaching and
became a life insurance underwriter in the City of Cebu, where intimacy developed among
her and the petitioner, since one evening in 1953, when after coming from the movies,
they had sexual intercourse in his cabin on board M/V "Escaño," to which he was then
attached as apprentice pilot. In February 1954, Soledad advised petitioner that she was in
the family way, whereupon he promised to marry her. Their child, Chris Hermosisima, was
born on June 17, 1954, in a private maternity and clinic. However, subsequently, or on
July 24, 1954, defendant married one Romanita Perez. Hence, the present action, which
was commenced on or about October 4, 1954.
Referring now to the issue above referred to, it will be noted that the Civil Code of Spain
permitted the recovery of damages for breach to marry. Article 43 and 44 of said Code
provides:
ART. 43. A mutual promise of marriage shall not give rise to an obligation to contract
marriage. No court shall entertain any complaint by which the enforcement of such promise
is sought.
ART. 44. If the promise has been in a public or private instrument by an adult, or
by a minor with the concurrence of the person whose consent is necessary for the celebration
of the marriage, or if the banns have been published, the one who without just cause
refuses to marry shall be obliged to reimburse the other for the expenses which he
or she may have incurred by reason of the promised marriage.
The action for reimbursement of expenses to which the foregoing article refers must
be brought within one year, computed from the day of the refusal to celebrate the marriage.
Inasmuch as these articles were never in force in the Philippines, this Court ruled in De
Jesus vs. Syquia (58 Phil., 866), that "the action for breach of promises to marry has
no standing in the civil law, apart from the right to recover money or property advanced . . .
upon the faith of such promise". The Code Commission charged with the drafting of the
Proposed Civil Code of the Philippines deem it best, however, to change the law thereon.
We quote from the report of the Code Commission on said Proposed Civil Code:
Articles 43 and 44 the Civil Code of 1889 refer to the promise of marriage. But these
articles are not enforced in the Philippines. The subject is regulated in the Proposed
Civil Code not only as to the aspect treated of in said articles but also in other particulars.
It is advisable to furnish legislative solutions to some questions that might arise relative
to betrothal. Among the provisions proposed are: That authorizing the adjudication of
moral damages, in case of breach of promise of marriage, and that creating liability
for causing a marriage engagement to be broken.1awphîl.nèt
Accordingly, the following provisions were inserted in said Proposed Civil Code, under Chapter
I, Title III, Book I thereof:
Art. 56. A mutual promise to marry may be made expressly or impliedly.
Art. 57. An engagement to be married must be agreed directly by the future spouses.
Art. 58. A contract for a future marriage cannot, without the consent of the parent or
guardian, be entered into by a male between the ages of sixteen and twenty years
or by a female between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years. Without such consent
of the parents or guardian, the engagement to marry cannot be the basis of a civil
action for damages in case of breach of the promise.
Art. 59. A promise to marry when made by a female under the age of fourteen years
is not civilly actionable, even though approved by the parent or guardian.
Art. 60. In cases referred to in the proceeding articles, the criminal and civil responsibility
of a male for seduction shall not be affected.
Art. 61. No action for specific performance of a mutual promise to marry may be brought.
Art. 62. An action for breach of promise to marry may be brought by the aggrieved
party even though a minor without the assistance of his parent or guardian. Should
the minor refuse to bring suit, the parent or guardian may institute the action.
Art. 63. Damages for breach of promise to marry shall include not only material and
pecuniary losses but also compensation for mental and moral suffering.
Art. 64. Any person, other than a rival, the parents, guardians and grandparents, of
the affianced parties, who cause a marriage engagement to be broken shall be liable
for damages, both material and moral, to the engaged person who is rejected.
Art. 65. In case of breach of promise to marry, the party breaking the engagement
shall be obliged to return what he or she has received from the other as gift on account
of the promise of the marriage.
These article were, however, eliminated in Congress. The reason therefor are set forth in
the report of the corresponding Senate Committee, from which we quote:
The elimination of this Chapter is proposed. That breach of promise to marry is not actionable
has been definitely decide in the case of De Jesus vs. Syquia, 58 Phil., 866. The history
of breach of promise suit in the United States and in England has shown that no other
action lends itself more readily to abuse by designing women and unscrupulous men. It is
this experience which has led to the abolition of the rights of action in the so-called Balm
suit in many of the American States.
The Commission perhaps though that it has followed the more progression trend in legislation
when it provided for breach of promise to marry suits. But it is clear that the creation
of such causes of action at a time when so many States, in consequence of years
of experience are doing away with them, may well prove to be a step in the wrong
direction. (Congressional Record, Vol. IV, No. 79, Thursday, May 19, 1949, p. 2352.)
The views thus expressed were accepted by both houses of Congress. In the light of the
clear and manifest intent of our law making body not to sanction actions for breach of promise
to marry, the award of moral damages made by the lower courts is, accordingly, untenable.
The Court of Appeals said award:
Moreover, it appearing that because of defendant-appellant's seduction power,
plaintiff-appellee, overwhelmed by her love for him finally yielded to his sexual desires
in spite of her age and self-control, she being a woman after all, we hold that said
defendant-appellant is liable for seduction and, therefore, moral damages may be recovered
from him under the provision of Article 2219, paragraph 3, of the new Civil Code.
Apart from the fact that the general tenor of said Article 2219, particularly the paragraphs
preceding and those following the one cited by the Court of Appeals, and the language
used in said paragraph strongly indicates that the "seduction" therein contemplated is the
crime punished as such in Article as such in Article 337 and 338 of the Revised Penal
Code, which admittedly does not exist in the present case, we find ourselves unable to
say that petitioner is morally guilty of seduction, not only because he is approximately ten
(10) years younger than the complainant — who around thirty-six (36) years of age,
and as highly enlightened as a former high school teacher and a life insurance agent are
supposed to be — when she became intimate with petitioner, then a mere apprentice pilot,
but, also, because, the court of first instance found that, complainant "surrendered herself"
to petitioner because, "overwhelmed by her love" for him, she "wanted to bind" "by having
a fruit of their engagement even before they had the benefit of clergy."
The court of first instance sentenced petitioner to pay the following: (1) a monthly pension
of P30.00 for the support of the child: (2) P4,500, representing the income that complainant
had allegedly failed to earn during her pregnancy and shortly after the birth of the child,
as actual and compensation damages; (3) P5,000, as moral damages; and (4) P500.00,
as attorney's fees. The Court of Appeals added to the second item the sum of P1,114.25
— consisting of P144.20, for hospitalization and medical attendance, in connection with the
parturiation, and the balance representing expenses incurred to support the child — and increased
the moral damages to P7,000.00.
With the elimination of this award for damages, the decision of the Court of Appeals is
hereby affirmed, therefore, in all other respects, without special pronouncement as to cost
in this instance. It is so ordered.
G.R. No. L-20089 December 26, 1964
BEATRIZ P. WASSMER, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
FRANCISCO X. VELEZ, defendant-appellant.
The facts that culminated in this case started with dreams and hopes, followed by appropriate
planning and serious endeavors, but terminated in frustration and, what is worse, complete
public humiliation.
Francisco X. Velez and Beatriz P. Wassmer, following their mutual promise of love, decided
to get married and set September 4, 1954 as the big day. On September 2, 1954 Velez
left this note for his bride-to-be:
Dear Bet —
Will have to postpone wedding — My mother opposes it. Am leaving on the Convair
today.
Please do not ask too many people about the reason why — That would only create
a scandal.
Paquing
But the next day, September 3, he sent her the following telegram:
NOTHING CHANGED REST ASSURED RETURNING VERY SOON APOLOGIZE
MAMA PAPA LOVE .
PAKING
Thereafter Velez did not appear nor was he heard from again.
Sued by Beatriz for damages, Velez filed no answer and was declared in default. Plaintiff
adduced evidence before the clerk of court as commissioner, and on April 29, 1955, judgment
was rendered ordering defendant to pay plaintiff P2,000.00 as actual damages; P25,000.00
as moral and exemplary damages; P2,500.00 as attorney's fees; and the costs.
On June 21, 1955 defendant filed a "petition for relief from orders, judgment and proceedings
and motion for new trial and reconsideration." Plaintiff moved to strike it cut. But the court,
on August 2, 1955, ordered the parties and their attorneys to appear before it on August
23, 1955 "to explore at this stage of the proceedings the possibility of arriving at an amicable
settlement." It added that should any of them fail to appear "the petition for relief and the
opposition thereto will be deemed submitted for resolution."
On August 23, 1955 defendant failed to appear before court. Instead, on the following day
his counsel filed a motion to defer for two weeks the resolution on defendants petition for
relief. The counsel stated that he would confer with defendant in Cagayan de Oro City —
the latter's residence — on the possibility of an amicable element. The court granted two
weeks counted from August 25, 1955.
Plaintiff manifested on June 15, 1956 that the two weeks given by the court had expired
on September 8, 1955 but that defendant and his counsel had failed to appear.
Another chance for amicable settlement was given by the court in its order of July 6, 1956
calling the parties and their attorneys to appear on July 13, 1956. This time. however, defendant's
counsel informed the court that chances of settling the case amicably were nil.
On July 20, 1956 the court issued an order denying defendant's aforesaid petition. Defendant
has appealed to this Court. In his petition of June 21, 1955 in the court a quo defendant
alleged excusable negligence as ground to set aside the judgment by default. Specifically,
it was stated that defendant filed no answer in the belief that an amicable settlement was
being negotiated.
A petition for relief from judgment on grounds of fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence,
must be duly supported by an affidavit of merits stating facts constituting a valid defense.
(Sec. 3, Rule 38, Rules of Court.) Defendant's affidavit of merits attached to his petition
of June 21, 1955 stated: "That he has a good and valid defense against plaintiff's cause
of action, his failure to marry the plaintiff as scheduled having been due to fortuitous event
and/or circumstances beyond his control." An affidavit of merits like this stating mere conclusions
or opinions instead of facts is not valid. (Cortes vs. Co Bun Kim, L-3926, Oct. 10, 1951;
Vaswani vs. P. Tarrachand Bros., L-15800, December 29, 1960.)
Defendant, however, would contend that the affidavit of merits was in fact unnecessary, or
a mere surplusage, because the judgment sought to be set aside was null and void, it
having been based on evidence adduced before the clerk of court. In Province of Pangasinan
vs. Palisoc, L-16519, October 30, 1962, this Court pointed out that the procedure of designating
the clerk of court as commissioner to receive evidence is sanctioned by Rule 34 (now Rule
33) of the Rules of Court. Now as to defendant's consent to said procedure, the same
did not have to be obtained for he was declared in default and thus had no standing in
court (Velez vs. Ramas, 40 Phil. 787; Alano vs. Court of First Instance, L-14557, October
30, 1959).
In support of his "motion for new trial and reconsideration," defendant asserts that the judgment
is contrary to law. The reason given is that "there is no provision of the Civil Code authorizing"
an action for breach of promise to marry. Indeed, our ruling in Hermosisima vs. Court of
Appeals (L-14628, Sept. 30, 1960), as reiterated in Estopa vs. Biansay (L-14733, Sept.
30, 1960), is that "mere breach of a promise to marry" is not an actionable wrong. We
pointed out that Congress deliberately eliminated from the draft of the new Civil Code the
provisions that would have it so.
It must not be overlooked, however, that the extent to which acts not contrary to law may
be perpetrated with impunity, is not limitless for Article 21 of said Code provides that "any
person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals,
good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage."
The record reveals that on August 23, 1954 plaintiff and defendant applied for a license
to contract marriage, which was subsequently issued (Exhs. A, A-1). Their wedding was
set for September 4, 1954. Invitations were printed and distributed to relatives, friends and
acquaintances (Tsn., 5; Exh. C). The bride-to-be's trousseau, party drsrses and other
apparel for the important occasion were purchased (Tsn., 7-8). Dresses for the maid of
honor and the flower girl were prepared. A matrimonial bed, with accessories, was bought.
Bridal showers were given and gifts received (Tsn., 6; Exh. E). And then, with but two
days before the wedding, defendant, who was then 28 years old,: simply left a note for
plaintiff stating: "Will have to postpone wedding — My mother opposes it ... " He enplaned
to his home city in Mindanao, and the next day, the day before the wedding, he wired
plaintiff: "Nothing changed rest assured returning soon." But he never returned and was
never heard from again.
Surely this is not a case of mere breach of promise to marry. As stated, mere breach of
promise to marry is not an actionable wrong. But to formally set a wedding and go through
all the above-described preparation and publicity, only to walk out of it when the matrimony
is about to be solemnized, is quite different. This is palpably and unjustifiably contrary to
good customs for which defendant must be held answerable in damages in accordance with
Article 21 aforesaid.
Defendant urges in his afore-stated petition that the damages awarded were excessive. No
question is raised as to the award of actual damages. What defendant would really assert
hereunder is that the award of moral and exemplary damages, in the amount of P25,000.00,
should be totally eliminated.
Per express provision of Article 2219 (10) of the New Civil Code, moral damages are
recoverable in the cases mentioned in Article 21 of said Code. As to exemplary damages,
defendant contends that the same could not be adjudged against him because under Article
2232 of the New Civil Code the condition precedent is that "the defendant acted in a wanton,
fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner." The argument is devoid of merit
as under the above-narrated circumstances of this case defendant clearly acted in a
"wanton ... , reckless [and] oppressive manner." This Court's opinion, however, is that
considering the particular circumstances of this case, P15,000.00 as moral and exemplary
damages is deemed to be a reasonable award.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, with the above-indicated modification, the lower court's judgment
is hereby affirmed, with costs.
G.R. No. L-18630 December 17, 1966
APOLONIO TANJANCO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ARACELI SANTOS, respondents.
Appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeals (in its Case No. 27210-R) revoking an
order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (in Civil Case No. Q-4797) dismissing appellant's
action for support and damages.
The essential allegations of the complaint are to the effect that, from December, 1957, the
defendant (appellee herein), Apolonio Tanjanco, courted the plaintiff, Araceli Santos, both
being of adult age; that "defendant expressed and professed his undying love and affection
for plaintiff who also in due time reciprocated the tender feelings"; that in consideration of
defendant's promise of marriage plaintiff consented and acceded to defendant's pleas for carnal
knowledge; that regularly until December 1959, through his protestations of love and promises
of marriage, defendant succeeded in having carnal access to plaintiff, as a result of which
the latter conceived a child; that due to her pregnant condition, to avoid embarrassment
and social humiliation, plaintiff had to resign her job as secretary in IBM Philippines, Inc.,
where she was receiving P230.00 a month; that thereby plaintiff became unable to support
herself and her baby; that due to defendant's refusal to marry plaintiff, as promised, the
latter suffered mental anguish, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, and
social humiliation. The prayer was for a decree compelling the defendant to recognize the
unborn child that plaintiff was bearing; to pay her not less than P430.00 a month for her
support and that of her baby, plus P100,000.00 in moral and exemplary damages, plus
P10,000.00 attorney's fees.
Upon defendant's motion to dismiss, the court of first instance dismissed the complaint for
failure to state a cause of action.
Plaintiff Santos duly appealed to the Court of Appeals, and the latter ultimately decided the
case, holding with the lower court that no cause of action was shown to compel recognition
of a child as yet unborn, nor for its support, but decreed that the complaint did state a
cause of action for damages, premised on Article 21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines,
prescribing as follows:
ART. 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that
is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the
damage.
The Court of Appeals, therefore, entered judgment setting aside the dismissal and directing
the court of origin to proceed with the case.
Defendant, in turn, appealed to this Court, pleading that actions for breach of a promise
to marry are not permissible in this jurisdiction, and invoking the rulings of this Court in
Estopa vs. Piansay, L-14733, September 30, 1960; Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals,
L-14628, January 29, 1962; and De Jesus vs. SyQuia, 58 Phil. 886.
We find this appeal meritorious.
In holding that the complaint stated a cause of action for damages, under Article 21 above
mentioned, the Court of Appeals relied upon and quoted from the memorandum submitted
by the Code Commission to the Legislature in 1949 to support the original draft of the Civil
Code. Referring to Article 23 of the draft (now Article 21 of the Code), the Commission
stated:
But the Code Commission has gone farther than the sphere of wrongs defined or determined
by positive law. Fully sensible that there are countless gaps in the statutes, which leave
so many victims of moral wrongs helpless, even though they have actually suffered material
and moral injury, the Commission has deemed it necessary, in the interest of justice,
to incorporate in the proposed Civil Code the following rule:
"ART. 23. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner
that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter
for the damage."
An example will illustrate the purview of the foregoing norm: "A" seduces the nineteen-year
old daughter of "X". A promise of marriage either has not been made, or can not
be proved. The girl becomes pregnant. Under the present laws, there is no crime, as
the girl is above eighteen years of age. Neither can any civil action for breach of promise
of marriage be filed. Therefore, though the grievous moral wrong has been committed,
and though the girl and her family have suffered incalculable moral damage, she and
her parents cannot bring any action for damages. But under the proposed article, she
and her parents would have such a right of action.
The Court of Appeals seems to have overlooked that the example set forth in the Code
Commission's memorandum refers to a tort upon a minor who has been seduced. The essential
feature is seduction, that in law is more than mere sexual intercourse, or a breach of a
promise of marriage; it connotes essentially the idea of deceit, enticement, superior power
or abuse of confidence on the part of the seducer to which the woman has yielded (U.S.
vs. Buenaventura, 27 Phil. 121; U.S. vs. Arlante, 9 Phil. 595).
It has been ruled in the Buenaventura case (supra) that —
To constitute seduction there must in all cases be some sufficient promise or inducement
and the woman must yield because of the promise or other inducement. If she consents
merely from carnal lust and the intercourse is from mutual desire, there is no seduction
(43 Cent. Dig. tit. Seduction, par. 56). She must be induced to depart from the path
of virtue by the use of some species of arts, persuasions and wiles, which are calculated
to have and do have that effect, and which result in her ultimately submitting her person
to the sexual embraces of her seducer (27 Phil. 123).
And in American Jurisprudence we find:
On the other hand, in an action by the woman, the enticement, persuasion or deception
is the essence of the injury; and a mere proof of intercourse is insufficient to warrant
a recover.
Accordingly it is not seduction where the willingness arises out of sexual desire or curiosity
of the female, and the defendant merely affords her the needed opportunity for the
commission of the act. It has been emphasized that to allow a recovery in all such
cases would tend to the demoralization of the female sex, and would be a reward for
unchastity by which a class of adventuresses would be swift to profit." (47 Am. Jur.
662)
Bearing these principles in mind, let us examine the complaint. The material allegations there
are as follows:
I. That the plaintiff is of legal age, single, and residing at 56 South E. Diliman, Quezon
City, while defendant is also of legal age, single and residing at 525 Padre Faura,
Manila, where he may be served with summons;
II. That the plaintiff and the defendant became acquainted with each other sometime
in December, 1957 and soon thereafter, the defendant started visiting and courting the
plaintiff;
III. That the defendant's visits were regular and frequent and in due time the defendant
expressed and professed his undying love and affection for the plaintiff who also in due
time reciprocated the tender feelings;
IV. That in the course of their engagement, the plaintiff and the defendant as are wont
of young people in love had frequent outings and dates, became very close and intimate
to each other and sometime in July, 1958, in consideration of the defendant's promises
of marriage, the plaintiff consented and acceded to the former's earnest and repeated
pleas to have carnal knowledge with him;
V. That subsequent thereto and regularly until about July, 1959 except for a short period
in December, 1958 when the defendant was out of the country, the defendant through
his protestations of love and promises of marriage succeeded in having carnal knowledge
with the plaintiff;
VI. That as a result of their intimate relationship, the plaintiff started conceiving which
was confirmed by a doctor sometime in July, 1959;
VII. That upon being certain of her pregnant condition, the plaintiff informed the defendant
and pleaded with him to make good his promises of marriage, but instead of honoring
his promises and righting his wrong, the defendant stopped and refrained from seeing
the plaintiff since about July, 1959 has not visited the plaintiff and to all intents and
purposes has broken their engagement and his promises.
Over and above the partisan allegations, the facts stand out that for one whole year, from
1958 to 1959, the plaintiff-appellee, a woman of adult age, maintained intimate sexual relations
with appellant, with repeated acts of intercourse. Such conduct is incompatible with the idea
of seduction. Plainly there is here voluntariness and mutual passion; for had the appellant
been deceived, had she surrendered exclusively because of the deceit, artful persuasions
and wiles of the defendant, she would not have again yielded to his embraces, much less
for one year, without exacting early fulfillment of the alleged promises of marriage, and would
have cut chart all sexual relations upon finding that defendant did not intend to fulfill his
promises. Hence, we conclude that no case is made under Article 21 of the Civil Code,
and no other cause of action being alleged, no error was committed by the Court of First
Instance in dismissing the complaint.
Of course, the dismissal must be understood as without prejudice to whatever actions may
correspond to the child of the plaintiff against the defendant-appellant, if any. On that point,
this Court makes no pronouncement, since the child's own rights are not here involved.
FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, the decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and
that of the Court of First Instance is affirmed. No costs.
G.R. No. 97336 February 19, 1993
GASHEM SHOOKAT BAKSH, petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and MARILOU T. GONZALES, respondents.
This is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to review and
set aside the Decision1 of the respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 24256
which affirmed in toto the 16 October 1939 Decision of Branch 38 (Lingayen) of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Pangasinan in Civil Case No. 16503. Presented is the issue of whether
or not damages may be recovered for a breach of promise to marry on the basis of Article
21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
The antecedents of this case are not complicated:
On 27 October 1987, private respondent, without the assistance of counsel, filed with the
aforesaid trial court a complaint2 for damages against the petitioner for the alleged violation
of their agreement to get married. She alleges in said complaint that: she is twenty-two
(22) years old, single, Filipino and a pretty lass of good moral character and reputation
duly respected in her community; petitioner, on the other hand, is an Iranian citizen residing
at the Lozano Apartments, Guilig, Dagupan City, and is an exchange student taking a medical
course at the Lyceum Northwestern Colleges in Dagupan City; before 20 August 1987, the
latter courted and proposed to marry her; she accepted his love on the condition that they
would get married; they therefore agreed to get married after the end of the school semester,
which was in October of that year; petitioner then visited the private respondent's parents
in Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan to secure their approval to the marriage; sometime in 20
August 1987, the petitioner forced her to live with him in the Lozano Apartments; she was
a virgin before she began living with him; a week before the filing of the complaint, petitioner's
attitude towards her started to change; he maltreated and threatened to kill her; as a result
of such maltreatment, she sustained injuries; during a confrontation with a representative of
the barangay captain of Guilig a day before the filing of the complaint, petitioner repudiated
their marriage agreement and asked her not to live with him anymore and; the petitioner
is already married to someone living in Bacolod City. Private respondent then prayed for
judgment ordering the petitioner to pay her damages in the amount of not less than P45,000.00,
reimbursement for actual expenses amounting to P600.00, attorney's fees and costs, and
granting her such other relief and remedies as may be just and equitable. The complaint
was docketed as Civil Case No. 16503.
In his Answer with Counterclaim,3 petitioner admitted only the personal circumstances of the
parties as averred in the complaint and denied the rest of the allegations either for lack
of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth thereof or because
the true facts are those alleged as his Special and Affirmative Defenses. He thus claimed
that he never proposed marriage to or agreed to be married with the private respondent;
he neither sought the consent and approval of her parents nor forced her to live in his
apartment; he did not maltreat her, but only told her to stop coming to his place because
he discovered that she had deceived him by stealing his money and passport; and finally,
no confrontation took place with a representative of the barangay captain. Insisting, in his
Counterclaim, that the complaint is baseless and unfounded and that as a result thereof,
he was unnecessarily dragged into court and compelled to incur expenses, and has suffered
mental anxiety and a besmirched reputation, he prayed for an award of P5,000.00 for
miscellaneous expenses and P25,000.00 as moral damages.
After conducting a pre-trial on 25 January 1988, the trial court issued a Pre-Trial Order4
embodying the stipulated facts which the parties had agreed upon, to wit:
1. That the plaintiff is single and resident (sic) of Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan,
while the defendant is single, Iranian citizen and resident (sic) of Lozano Apartment,
Guilig, Dagupan City since September 1, 1987 up to the present;
2. That the defendant is presently studying at Lyceum Northwestern, Dagupan City,
College of Medicine, second year medicine proper;
3. That the plaintiff is (sic) an employee at Mabuhay Luncheonette , Fernandez
Avenue, Dagupan City since July, 1986 up to the present and a (sic) high school
graduate;
4. That the parties happened to know each other when the manager of the Mabuhay
Luncheonette, Johhny Rabino introduced the defendant to the plaintiff on August
3, 1986.
After trial on the merits, the lower court, applying Article 21 of the Civil Code, rendered
on 16 October 1989 a decision5 favoring the private respondent. The petitioner was thus
ordered to pay the latter damages and attorney's fees; the dispositive portion of the decision
reads:
IN THE LIGHT of the foregoing consideration, judgment is hereby rendered in favor
of the plaintiff and against the defendant.
1. Condemning (sic) the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of twenty thousand
(P20,000.00) pesos as moral damages.
2. Condemning further the defendant to play the plaintiff the sum of three thousand
(P3,000.00) pesos as atty's fees and two thousand (P2,000.00) pesos at (sic)
litigation expenses and to pay the costs.
3. All other claims are denied.6
The decision is anchored on the trial court's findings and conclusions that (a) petitioner
and private respondent were lovers, (b) private respondent is not a woman of loose morals
or questionable virtue who readily submits to sexual advances, (c) petitioner, through
machinations, deceit and false pretenses, promised to marry private respondent, d) because
of his persuasive promise to marry her, she allowed herself to be deflowered by him, (e)
by reason of that deceitful promise, private respondent and her parents — in accordance
with Filipino customs and traditions — made some preparations for the wedding that was
to be held at the end of October 1987 by looking for pigs and chickens, inviting friends
and relatives and contracting sponsors, (f) petitioner did not fulfill his promise to marry
her and (g) such acts of the petitioner, who is a foreigner and who has abused Philippine
hospitality, have offended our sense of morality, good customs, culture and traditions. The
trial court gave full credit to the private respondent's testimony because, inter alia, she would
not have had the temerity and courage to come to court and expose her honor and reputation
to public scrutiny and ridicule if her claim was false.7
The above findings and conclusions were culled from the detailed summary of the evidence
for the private respondent in the foregoing decision, digested by the respondent Court as
follows:
According to plaintiff, who claimed that she was a virgin at the time and that she
never had a boyfriend before, defendant started courting her just a few days after
they first met. He later proposed marriage to her several times and she accepted
his love as well as his proposal of marriage on August 20, 1987, on which same
day he went with her to her hometown of Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan, as he
wanted to meet her parents and inform them of their relationship and their intention
to get married. The photographs Exhs. "A" to "E" (and their submarkings) of
defendant with members of plaintiff's family or with plaintiff, were taken that day.
Also on that occasion, defendant told plaintiffs parents and brothers and sisters that
he intended to marry her during the semestral break in October, 1987, and because
plaintiff's parents thought he was good and trusted him, they agreed to his proposal
for him to marry their daughter, and they likewise allowed him to stay in their house
and sleep with plaintiff during the few days that they were in Bugallon. When plaintiff
and defendant later returned to Dagupan City, they continued to live together in
defendant's apartment. However, in the early days of October, 1987, defendant would
tie plaintiff's hands and feet while he went to school, and he even gave her medicine
at 4 o'clock in the morning that made her sleep the whole day and night until
the following day. As a result of this live-in relationship, plaintiff became pregnant,
but defendant gave her some medicine to abort the fetus. Still plaintiff continued
to live with defendant and kept reminding him of his promise to marry her until
he told her that he could not do so because he was already married to a girl
in Bacolod City. That was the time plaintiff left defendant, went home to her parents,
and thereafter consulted a lawyer who accompanied her to the barangay captain
in Dagupan City. Plaintiff, her lawyer, her godmother, and a barangay tanod sent
by the barangay captain went to talk to defendant to still convince him to marry
plaintiff, but defendant insisted that he could not do so because he was already
married to a girl in Bacolod City, although the truth, as stipulated by the parties
at the pre-trial, is that defendant is still single.
Plaintiff's father, a tricycle driver, also claimed that after defendant had informed
them of his desire to marry Marilou, he already looked for sponsors for the wedding,
started preparing for the reception by looking for pigs and chickens, and even already
invited many relatives and friends to the forthcoming wedding. 8
Petitioner appealed the trial court's decision to the respondent Court of Appeals which docketed
the case as CA-G.R. CV No. 24256. In his Brief,9 he contended that the trial court erred
(a) in not dismissing the case for lack of factual and legal basis and (b) in ordering
him to pay moral damages, attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs.
On 18 February 1991, respondent Court promulgated the challenged decision 10 affirming in
toto the trial court's ruling of 16 October 1989. In sustaining the trial court's findings of
fact, respondent Court made the following analysis:
First of all, plaintiff, then only 21 years old when she met defendant who was already
29 years old at the time, does not appear to be a girl of loose morals. It is uncontradicted
that she was a virgin prior to her unfortunate experience with defendant and never
had boyfriend. She is, as described by the lower court, a barrio lass "not used
and accustomed to trend of modern urban life", and certainly would (sic) not have
allowed
"herself to be deflowered by the defendant if there was no persuasive promise made
by the defendant to marry her." In fact, we agree with the lower court that plaintiff
and defendant must have been sweethearts or so the plaintiff must have thought
because of the deception of defendant, for otherwise, she would not have allowed
herself to be photographed with defendant in public in so (sic) loving and tender
poses as those depicted in the pictures Exhs. "D" and "E". We cannot believe,
therefore, defendant's pretense that plaintiff was a nobody to him except a waitress
at the restaurant where he usually ate. Defendant in fact admitted that he went
to plaintiff's hometown of Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan, at least thrice; at (sic)
the town fiesta on February 27, 1987 (p. 54, tsn May 18, 1988), at (sic) a
beach party together with the manager and employees of the Mabuhay Luncheonette
on March 3, 1987 (p. 50, tsn id.), and on April 1, 1987 when he allegedly
talked to plaintiff's mother who told him to marry her daughter (pp. 55-56, tsn
id.). Would defendant have left Dagupan City where he was involved in the serious
study of medicine to go to plaintiff's hometown in Bañaga, Bugallon, unless there
was (sic) some kind of special relationship between them? And this special
relationship must indeed have led to defendant's insincere proposal of marriage to
plaintiff, communicated not only to her but also to her parents, and (sic) Marites
Rabino, the owner of the restaurant where plaintiff was working and where defendant
first proposed marriage to her, also knew of this love affair and defendant's proposal
of marriage to plaintiff, which she declared was the reason why plaintiff resigned
from her job at the restaurant after she had accepted defendant's proposal (pp.
6-7, tsn March 7, 1988).
Upon the other hand, appellant does not appear to be a man of good moral character
and must think so low and have so little respect and regard for Filipino women
that he openly admitted that when he studied in Bacolod City for several years
where he finished his B.S. Biology before he came to Dagupan City to study medicine,
he had a common-law wife in Bacolod City. In other words, he also lived with
another woman in Bacolod City but did not marry that woman, just like what he
did to plaintiff. It is not surprising, then, that he felt so little compunction or remorse
in pretending to love and promising to marry plaintiff, a young, innocent, trustful
country girl, in order to satisfy his lust on her. 11
and then concluded:
In sum, we are strongly convinced and so hold that it was defendant-appellant's
fraudulent and deceptive protestations of love for and promise to marry plaintiff that
made her surrender her virtue and womanhood to him and to live with him on the
honest and sincere belief that he would keep said promise, and it was likewise
these (sic) fraud and deception on appellant's part that made plaintiff's parents
agree to their daughter's living-in with him preparatory to their supposed marriage.
And as these acts of appellant are palpably and undoubtedly against morals, good
customs, and public policy, and are even gravely and deeply derogatory and insulting
to our women, coming as they do from a foreigner who has been enjoying the
hospitality of our people and taking advantage of the opportunity to study in one
of our institutions of learning, defendant-appellant should indeed be made, under
Art. 21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, to compensate for the moral damages
and injury that he had caused plaintiff, as the lower court ordered him to do in
its decision in this case. 12
Unfazed by his second defeat, petitioner filed the instant petition on 26 March 1991; he
raises therein the single issue of whether or not Article 21 of the Civil Code applies to
the case at bar. 13
It is petitioner's thesis that said Article 21 is not applicable because he had not committed
any moral wrong or injury or violated any good custom or public policy; he has not professed
love or proposed marriage to the private respondent; and he has never maltreated her. He
criticizes the trial court for liberally invoking Filipino customs, traditions and culture, and ignoring
the fact that since he is a foreigner, he is not conversant with such Filipino customs, traditions
and culture. As an Iranian Moslem, he is not familiar with Catholic and Christian ways. He
stresses that even if he had made a promise to marry, the subsequent failure to fulfill the
same is excusable or tolerable because of his Moslem upbringing; he then alludes to the
Muslim Code which purportedly allows a Muslim to take four (4) wives and concludes that
on the basis thereof, the trial court erred in ruling that he does not posses good moral
character. Moreover, his controversial "common law life" is now his legal wife as their marriage
had been solemnized in civil ceremonies in the Iranian Embassy. As to his unlawful cohabitation
with the private respondent, petitioner claims that even if responsibility could be pinned on
him for the live-in relationship, the private respondent should also be faulted for consenting
to an illicit arrangement. Finally, petitioner asseverates that even if it was to be assumed
arguendo that he had professed his love to the private respondent and had also promised
to marry her, such acts would not be actionable in view of the special circumstances of
the case. The mere breach of promise is not actionable. 14
On 26 August 1991, after the private respondent had filed her Comment to the petition and
the petitioner had filed his Reply thereto, this Court gave due course to the petition and
required the parties to submit their respective Memoranda, which they subsequently complied
with.
As may be gleaned from the foregoing summation of the petitioner's arguments in support
of his thesis, it is clear that questions of fact, which boil down to the issue of the credibility
of witnesses, are also raised. It is the rule in this jurisdiction that appellate courts will not
disturb the trial court's findings as to the credibility of witnesses, the latter court having heard
the witnesses and having had the opportunity to observe closely their deportment and manner
of testifying, unless the trial court had plainly overlooked facts of substance or value which,
if considered, might affect the result of the case. 15
Petitioner has miserably failed to convince Us that both the appellate and trial courts had
overlooked any fact of substance or values which could alter the result of the case.
Equally settled is the rule that only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. It is not the function of this Court to
analyze or weigh all over again the evidence introduced by the parties before the lower
court. There are, however, recognized exceptions to this rule. Thus, in Medina vs.Asistio,
Jr., 16 this Court took the time, again, to enumerate these exceptions:
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises
or conjectures (Joaquin v. Navarro, 93 Phil. 257 [1953]); (2) When the inference
made is manifestly mistaken, absurb or impossible (Luna v. Linatok, 74 Phil. 15
[1942]); (3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion (Buyco v. People, 95
Phil. 453 [1955]); (4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of
facts (Cruz v. Sosing,
L-4875, Nov. 27, 1953); (5) When the findings of fact are conflicting (Casica
v. Villaseca, L-9590 Ap. 30, 1957; unrep.) (6) When the Court of Appeals,
in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary
to the admissions of both appellate and appellee (Evangelista v. Alto Surety and
Insurance Co., 103 Phil. 401 [1958]);
(7) The findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court
(Garcia v. Court of Appeals, 33 SCRA 622 [1970]; Sacay v. Sandiganbayan,
142 SCRA 593 [1986]); (8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without
citation of specific evidence on which they are based (Ibid.,); (9) When the facts
set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not
disputed by the respondents (Ibid.,); and (10) The finding of fact of the Court
of Appeals is premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is contradicted
by the evidence on record (Salazar v. Gutierrez, 33 SCRA 242 [1970]).
Petitioner has not endeavored to joint out to Us the existence of any of the above quoted
exceptions in this case. Consequently, the factual findings of the trial and appellate courts
must be respected.
And now to the legal issue.
The existing rule is that a breach of promise to marry per se is not an actionable wrong.
17
Congress deliberately eliminated from the draft of the New Civil Code the provisions that
would have made it so. The reason therefor is set forth in the report of the Senate Committees
on the Proposed Civil Code, from which We quote:
The elimination of this chapter is proposed. That breach of promise to marry is
not actionable has been definitely decided in the case of De Jesus vs. Syquia.
18
The history of breach of promise suits in the United States and in England has
shown that no other action lends itself more readily to abuse by designing women
and unscrupulous men. It is this experience which has led to the abolition of rights
of action in the so-called Heart Balm suits in many of the American states. . . .
19

This notwithstanding, the said Code contains a provision, Article 21, which is designed to
expand the concept of torts or quasi-delict in this jurisdiction by granting adequate legal
remedy for the untold number of moral wrongs which is impossible for human foresight to
specifically enumerate and punish in the statute books. 20
As the Code Commission itself stated in its Report:
But the Code Commission had gone farther than the sphere of wrongs defined or
determined by positive law. Fully sensible that there are countless gaps in the statutes,
which leave so many victims of moral wrongs helpless, even though they have actually
suffered material and moral injury, the Commission has deemed it necessary, in
the interest of justice, to incorporate in the proposed Civil Code the following rule:
Art. 23. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a
manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall
compensate the latter for the damage.
An example will illustrate the purview of the foregoing norm: "A" seduces the
nineteen-year old daughter of "X". A promise of marriage either has not been made,
or can not be proved. The girl becomes pregnant. Under the present laws, there
is no crime, as the girl is above nineteen years of age. Neither can any civil action
for breach of promise of marriage be filed. Therefore, though the grievous moral
wrong has been committed, and though the girl and family have suffered incalculable
moral damage, she and her parents cannot bring action for damages. But under
the proposed article, she and her parents would have such a right of action.
Thus at one stroke, the legislator, if the forgoing rule is approved, would vouchsafe
adequate legal remedy for that untold number of moral wrongs which it is impossible
for human foresight to provide for specifically in the statutes. 21
Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which defines a quasi-delict thus:
Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence,
is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no
pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and
is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.
is limited to negligent acts or omissions and excludes the notion of willfulness or intent.
Quasi-delict, known in Spanish legal treatises as culpa aquiliana, is a civil law concept
while torts is an Anglo-American or common law concept. Torts is much broader than
culpa aquiliana because it includes not only negligence, but international criminal acts
as well such as assault and battery, false imprisonment and deceit. In the general scheme
of the Philippine legal system envisioned by the Commission responsible for drafting the
New Civil Code, intentional and malicious acts, with certain exceptions, are to be governed
by the Revised Penal Code while negligent acts or omissions are to be covered by
Article 2176 of the Civil Code. 22 In between these opposite spectrums are injurious
acts which, in the absence of Article 21, would have been beyond redress. Thus, Article
21 fills that vacuum. It is even postulated that together with Articles 19 and 20 of the
Civil Code, Article 21 has greatly broadened the scope of the law on civil wrongs; it
has become much more supple and adaptable than the Anglo-American law on torts.
23

In the light of the above laudable purpose of Article 21, We are of the opinion, and so
hold, that where a man's promise to marry is in fact the proximate cause of the acceptance
of his love by a woman and his representation to fulfill that promise thereafter becomes
the proximate cause of the giving of herself unto him in a sexual congress, proof that he
had, in reality, no intention of marrying her and that the promise was only a subtle scheme
or deceptive device to entice or inveigle her to accept him and to obtain her consent to
the sexual act, could justify the award of damages pursuant to Article 21 not because of
such promise to marry but because of the fraud and deceit behind it and the willful injury
to her honor and reputation which followed thereafter. It is essential, however, that such
injury should have been committed in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public
policy.
In the instant case, respondent Court found that it was the petitioner's "fraudulent and deceptive
protestations of love for and promise to marry plaintiff that made her surrender her virtue
and womanhood to him and to live with him on the honest and sincere belief that he would
keep said promise, and it was likewise these fraud and deception on appellant's part that
made plaintiff's parents agree to their daughter's living-in with him preparatory to their supposed
marriage." 24 In short, the private respondent surrendered her virginity, the cherished possession
of every single Filipina, not because of lust but because of moral seduction — the kind
illustrated by the Code Commission in its example earlier adverted to. The petitioner could
not be held liable for criminal seduction punished under either Article 337 or Article 338
of the Revised Penal Code because the private respondent was above eighteen (18) years
of age at the time of the seduction.
Prior decisions of this Court clearly suggest that Article 21 may be applied in a breach of
promise to marry where the woman is a victim of moral seduction. Thus, in Hermosisima
vs. Court of Appeals,25 this Court denied recovery of damages to the woman because:
. . . we find ourselves unable to say that petitioner is morally guilty of seduction,
not only because he is approximately ten (10) years younger than the complainant
— who was around thirty-six (36) years of age, and as highly enlightened as
a former high school teacher and a life insurance agent are supposed to be —
when she became intimate with petitioner, then a mere apprentice pilot, but, also,
because the court of first instance found that, complainant "surrendered herself"
to petitioner because, "overwhelmed by her love" for him, she "wanted to bind"
him by having a fruit of their engagement even before they had the benefit of clergy.
In Tanjanco vs. Court of Appeals, 26 while this Court likewise hinted at possible recovery
if there had been moral seduction, recovery was eventually denied because We were not
convinced that such seduction existed. The following enlightening disquisition and conclusion
were made in the said case:
The Court of Appeals seem to have overlooked that the example set forth in the
Code Commission's memorandum refers to a tort upon a minor who had been seduced.
The essential feature is seduction, that in law is more than mere sexual intercourse,
or a breach of a promise of marriage; it connotes essentially the idea of deceit,
enticement, superior power or abuse of confidence on the part of the seducer to
which the woman has yielded (U.S. vs. Buenaventura, 27 Phil. 121; U.S. vs.
Arlante, 9 Phil. 595).
It has been ruled in the Buenaventura case (supra) that —
To constitute seduction there must in all cases be some sufficient promise
or inducement and the woman must yield because of the promise or other
inducement. If she consents merely from carnal lust and the intercourse
is from mutual desire, there is no seduction (43 Cent. Dig. tit. Seduction,
par. 56) She must be induced to depart from the path of virtue by the
use of some species of arts, persuasions and wiles, which are calculated
to have and do have that effect, and which result in her person to ultimately
submitting her person to the sexual embraces of her seducer (27 Phil.
123).
And in American Jurisprudence we find:
On the other hand, in an action by the woman, the enticement, persuasion
or deception is the essence of the injury; and a mere proof of intercourse
is insufficient to warrant a recovery.
Accordingly it is not seduction where the willingness arises out of sexual
desire of curiosity of the female, and the defendant merely affords her the
needed opportunity for the commission of the act. It has been emphasized
that to allow a recovery in all such cases would tend to the demoralization
of the female sex, and would be a reward for unchastity by which a class
of adventuresses would be swift to profit.
Over and above the partisan allegations, the fact stand out that for one whole year,
from 1958 to 1959, the plaintiff-appellee, a woman of adult age, maintain intimate
sexual relations with appellant, with repeated acts of intercourse. Such conduct is
incompatible with the idea of seduction. Plainly there is here voluntariness and mutual
passion; for had the appellant been deceived, had she surrendered exclusively because
of the deceit, artful persuasions and wiles of the defendant, she would not have
again yielded to his embraces, much less for one year, without exacting early fulfillment
of the alleged promises of marriage, and would have cut short all sexual relations
upon finding that defendant did not intend to fulfill his defendant did not intend to
fulfill his promise. Hence, we conclude that no case is made under article 21 of
the Civil Code, and no other cause of action being alleged, no error was committed
by the Court of First Instance in dismissing the complaint. 27
In his annotations on the Civil Code, 28 Associate Justice Edgardo L. Paras, who recently
retired from this Court, opined that in a breach of promise to marry where there had been
carnal knowledge, moral damages may be recovered:
. . . if there be criminal or moral seduction, but not if the intercourse was due
to mutual lust. (Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals,
L-14628, Sept. 30, 1960; Estopa vs. Piansay, Jr., L-14733, Sept. 30, 1960;
Batarra vs. Marcos, 7 Phil. 56 (sic); Beatriz Galang vs. Court of Appeals, et
al., L-17248, Jan. 29, 1962). (In other words, if the CAUSE be the promise
to marry, and the EFFECT be the carnal knowledge, there is a chance that there
was criminal or moral seduction, hence recovery of moral damages will prosper.
If it be the other way around, there can be no recovery of moral damages, because
here mutual lust has intervened). . . .
together with "ACTUAL damages, should there be any, such as the expenses for the
wedding presentations (See Domalagon v. Bolifer, 33 Phil. 471).
29
Senator Arturo M. Tolentino is also of the same persuasion:
It is submitted that the rule in Batarra vs. Marcos, 30
still subsists, notwithstanding
the incorporation of the present article31 in the Code. The example given by the
Code Commission is correct, if there was seduction, not necessarily in the legal
sense, but in the vulgar sense of deception. But when the sexual act is accomplished
without any deceit or qualifying circumstance of abuse of authority or influence, but
the woman, already of age, has knowingly given herself to a man, it cannot be
said that there is an injury which can be the basis for indemnity.
But so long as there is fraud, which is characterized by willfulness (sic), the action
lies. The court, however, must weigh the degree of fraud, if it is sufficient to deceive
the woman under the circumstances, because an act which would deceive a girl
sixteen years of age may not constitute deceit as to an experienced woman thirty
years of age. But so long as there is a wrongful act and a resulting injury, there
should be civil liability, even if the act is not punishable under the criminal law
and there should have been an acquittal or dismissal of the criminal case for that
reason.
We are unable to agree with the petitioner's alternative proposition to the effect that granting,
for argument's sake, that he did promise to marry the private respondent, the latter is nevertheless
also at fault. According to him, both parties are in pari delicto; hence, pursuant to Article
1412(1) of the Civil Code and the doctrine laid down in Batarra vs. Marcos, 32 the private
respondent cannot recover damages from the petitioner. The latter even goes as far as stating
that if the private respondent had "sustained any injury or damage in their relationship, it
is primarily because of her own doing, 33 for:
. . . She is also interested in the petitioner as the latter will become a doctor
sooner or later. Take notice that she is a plain high school graduate and a mere
employee . . . (Annex "C") or a waitress (TSN, p. 51, January 25, 1988)
in a luncheonette and without doubt, is in need of a man who can give her economic
security. Her family is in dire need of financial assistance. (TSN, pp. 51-53, May
18, 1988). And this predicament prompted her to accept a proposition that may
have been offered by the petitioner. 34
These statements reveal the true character and motive of the petitioner. It is clear that he
harbors a condescending, if not sarcastic, regard for the private respondent on account of
the latter's ignoble birth, inferior educational background, poverty and, as perceived by him,
dishonorable employment. Obviously then, from the very beginning, he was not at all moved
by good faith and an honest motive. Marrying with a woman so circumstances could not
have even remotely occurred to him. Thus, his profession of love and promise to marry
were empty words directly intended to fool, dupe, entice, beguile and deceive the poor woman
into believing that indeed, he loved her and would want her to be his life's partner. His
was nothing but pure lust which he wanted satisfied by a Filipina who honestly believed
that by accepting his proffer of love and proposal of marriage, she would be able to enjoy
a life of ease and security. Petitioner clearly violated the Filipino's concept of morality and
brazenly defied the traditional respect Filipinos have for their women. It can even be said
that the petitioner committed such deplorable acts in blatant disregard of Article 19 of the
Civil Code which directs every person to act with justice, give everyone his due and observe
honesty and good faith in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his obligations.
No foreigner must be allowed to make a mockery of our laws, customs and traditions.
The pari delicto rule does not apply in this case for while indeed, the private respondent
may not have been impelled by the purest of intentions, she eventually submitted to the
petitioner in sexual congress not out of lust, but because of moral seduction. In fact, it
is apparent that she had qualms of conscience about the entire episode for as soon as
she found out that the petitioner was not going to marry her after all, she left him. She
is not, therefore, in pari delicto with the petitioner. Pari delicto means "in equal fault; in
a similar offense or crime; equal in guilt or in legal fault." 35At most, it could be conceded
that she is merely in delicto.
Equity often interferes for the relief of the less guilty of the parties, where his
transgression has been brought about by the imposition of undue influence of the
party on whom the burden of the original wrong principally rests, or where his consent
to the transaction was itself procured by
fraud. 36
In Mangayao vs. Lasud, 37
We declared:
Appellants likewise stress that both parties being at fault, there should be no action
by one against the other (Art. 1412, New Civil Code). This rule, however, has
been interpreted as applicable only where the fault on both sides is, more or less,
equivalent. It does not apply where one party is literate or intelligent and the other
one is not. (c.f. Bough vs. Cantiveros, 40 Phil. 209).
We should stress, however, that while We find for the private respondent, let it not be said
that this Court condones the deplorable behavior of her parents in letting her and the petitioner
stay together in the same room in their house after giving approval to their marriage. It
is the solemn duty of parents to protect the honor of their daughters and infuse upon them
the higher values of morality and dignity.
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the challenged decision, the instant petition is
hereby DENIED, with costs against the petitioner.
NOT SUJECT TO STIPULAITON
EN BANC September 9, 1933
JOSE R. PAÑGANIBAN, complainant,
vs.
ELIAS BORROMEO, respondent.
These proceedings looking to the disbarment of the respondent attorney are before us on
the representations of the Solicitor-General that the respondent appear and show cause,
if any he has, why he should not be proceeded against for professional malpractice. The
respondent admits that, in his capacity as notary public he legalized the document which
is the basis of the complaint against him, and that the document contains provisions contrary
to law, morals and good customs, but by way of defense disclaims any previous knowledge
of the illegal character of the document.
On November 25, 1931, Alejandro Pabro and Juana Mappala husband and wife, subscribed
a contract before the notary public Elias Borromeo, who was at that time a regularly admitted
member of the Philippine Bar. The contract in question had been prepared by the municipal
secretary of Naguilian, Isabela. Attorney Borromeo cooperated in the execution of the document
and had, at lease, some knowledge of its contents, although he may not have been fully
informed because of a difference in dialect. The contract in substance purported to formulate
an agreement between the husband and the wife which permitted the husband to take unto
himself a concubine and the wife to live in adulterous relationship with another man, without
opposition from either one of them.
Two questions are suggested by the record. The first concerns the points of whether or
not the contract sanctioned an illicit and immoral purpose. The second concerns the point,
on the supposition that the contract did sanction an illicit and immoral purpose, of whether
a lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct as a notary public.
The contract of the spouses, it will be recalled, was executed at a time when the Spanish
Penal Code, as modified by Act No. 1773 was in force. Conceding, however, that the more
liberal provisions of the Revised Penal Code should be given application, it is herein provided
that the consent or pardon given by the offended party constitutes a bar to prosecution for
adultery or concubinage. In this instance, if the spouses should retain their present frame
of mind, no prosecution of either one by the other could be expected. Nevertheless, we
think it far from the purpose of the Legislature to legalize adultery and concubinage. They
still remain crimes, with the qualification that prosecution cannot be instituted if the offended
party consent to the act or pardon the offender. This is a matter of future contingency and
is not matter for legalization in wanton disregard of good morals. We hold the contract to
contain provisions contrary to law, morals and public order, and as a consequence not judicially
recognizable.
Passing to the second question, we think there can be no question as to the right of the
court to discipline an attorney who, in his capacity as notary public, has been guilty of misconduct.
To the office of notary public there is not attached such importance under present conditions
as under the Spanish administration. Even so, the notary public exercise duties calling for
carefulness and faithfulness. It is for the notary to inform himself of the facts to which he
intends to certify, and to take part in no illegal enterprise. The notary public is usually a
person who has been admitted to the practice of law, and such, in the commingling of
his duties as notary and lawyer, must be held responsible for both. We are led to hold
that a member of the bar who performs an act as a notary public of a disgraceful or immoral
character may be held to account by the court even to the extent of disbarment. (See
2 Thornton on Attorneys At Law, pp. 1258, 1259; In re Chappell [1909], 115 N.Y.S.,
868; In re Bernard [1912], 136 N.Y.S., 185; In re Arctander [1879], 1 N.W., 43; In
re Terrell [1903], 2 Phil., 266; In re Adriatico [1906], 7 Phil., 173; U.S. vs. Kilayko
[1916], 34 Phil., 796; De la Cruz vs. Capinpin and Albea [1918], 38 Phil., 492.)
It now becomes necessary to pronounce sentence. As mitigating circumstances, there may
be taken into consideration (1) that the attorney may not have realized the full purport
of the document to which he took acknowledgment, (2) that no falsification of facts was
attempted, and (3) that the commission of the respondent as a notary public has been
revoked. Accordingly, we are disposed in this case to exercise clemency and to confine
our discipline of the respondent to severe censure. So ordered.
A.C. No. 932 June 21, 1940
In re ATTY. ROQUE SANTIAGO, respondent,
This is an administrative case initiated upon complaint of the Solicitor-General against the
respondent Roque Santiago, charging the latter with malpractice and praying that disciplinary
action be taken against him.
It appears that one Ernesto Baniquit, who was living then separately from his wife Soledad
Colares for some nine consecutive years and who was bent on contracting a second marriage,
sought the legal advice of the respondent, who was at the time a practicing and notary
public in the Province of Occidental Negros. The respondent, after hearing Baniquit's side
of the case, assured the latter that he could secure a separation from his wife and marry
again, and asked him to bring his wife on the afternoon of the same day, May 29, 1939.
This was done and the respondent right then and there prepared the document Exhibit A
in which it was stipulated, among other things, that the contracting parties, who are husband
and wife authorized each other to marry again, at the same time renouncing or waiving
whatever right of action one might have against the party so marrying. After the execution
and acknowledgment of Exhibit A by the parties, the respondent asked the spouses to shake
hands and assured them that they were single and as such could contract another and subsequent
marriage. Baniquit then remarked, "Would there be no trouble?" Upon hearing it the respondent
stood up and, pointing to his diploma hanging on the wall, said: "I would tear that off if
this document turns out not to be valid." Relying on the validity of Exhibit A, Ernesto Baniquit,
on June 11, 1939, contracted a second marriage with Trinidad Aurelio. There is also evidence
to show that the respondent tried to collect for this service the sum of P50, but as the
evidence on this point is not clear and the same is not material in the resolution of the
present case, we do not find it necessary to make any express finding as to whether the
full amount or any portion thereof was paid or, as contended by the respondent, the service
were rendered free of charge.
The respondent did not deny the preparation of Exhibit A, put up the defense that he had
the idea that seven years separation of husband and wife would entitle either of them to
contract a second marriage and for that reason prepared Exhibit A, but immediately after
the execution of said document he realized that he had made a mistake and for that reason
immediately sent for the contracting parties who, on June 30, 1939, came to his office
and signed the deed of cancellation Exhibit A.
There is no doubt that the contract Exhibit A executed by and between the spouses Ernesto
Baniquit and Soledad Colares upon the advice of the respondent and prepared by the latter
as a lawyer and acknowledged by him as a notary public is contrary to law, moral, and
tends to subvert the vital foundation of the family. The advice given by the respondent,
the preparation and acknowledgment by him of the contract constitute malpractice which justifies
disbarment from the practice of law. The admission of a lawyer to the practice of law is
upon the implied condition that his continued enjoyment of the privilege conferred is dependent
upon his remaining a fit and safe person to society. When it appears that he, by recklessness
or sheer ignorance of the law, is unfit or unsafe to be entrusted with the responsibilities
and obligations of a lawyer, his right to continue in the enjoyment of this professional privilege
should be declared terminated. In the present case, respondent was either ignorant of the
applicable provision of the law or carelessly negligent in giving the complainant legal advice.
Drastic action should lead to his disbarment and this is the opinion of some members of
the court. The majority, however, have inclined to follow the recommendation of the investigator,
the Honorable Sotero Rodas, in view of the circumstances stated in the report of said investigator
and the fact that immediately after discovering his mistakes, respondent endeavored to correct
it by making the parties sign another document cancelling the previous one.
The respondent Roque Santiago is found guilty of malpractice and is hereby suspended from
the practice of law for a period of one year. So ordered.
A.M. No. 804-CJ May 19, 1975
SATURNINO SELANOVA, complainant,
vs.
ALEJANDRO E. MENDOZA, City Judge of Mandaue City, respondent.
Saturnino Selanova charged Judge Alejandro E. Mendoza of Mandaue City with gross ignorance
of the law for having prepared and ratified a document dated November 21, 1972, extrajudicially
liquidating the conjugal partnership of the complainant and his wife, Avelina Ceniza. One
condition of the liquidation was that either spouse (as the case may be) would withdraw
the complaint for adultery or concubinage which each had filed against the other and that
they waived their "right to prosecute each other for whatever acts of infidelity" either one
would commit against the other.
Judge Mendoza in his comment on the charge purposed to convey the impression that he
was aware of the invalidity of the agreement but he nevertheless ratified it and gave it his
nihil obstat on the assurance of the spouses that they would ask the Court of First Instance
of Negros Oriental (where they were residing) to approve the agreement. That pretension
is disbelieved by the Judicial Consultant.
Respondent Judge alleged that he relied on the provision that "the husband and the wife
may agree upon the dissolution of the conjugal partnership during the marriage, subject to
judicial approval" (Par. 4, Art. 191, Civil Code).
He argues that to give the prohibition against an extrajudicial liquidation of the conjugal partnership
during the marriage "an unqualified and literal legal construction" would lender nugatory the
aforequoted provisions of article 191. He cites Lacson vs. San Jose-Lacson, L-23482, L-23767
and L-24259, August 30, 1968, 24 SCRA 837 as authority for the propriety of an extrajudicial
agreement for the dissolution during the marriage of the conjugal partnership as long as
the agreement is subsequently approved by the court.
However, the respondent overlooks the unmistakable ruling of this Court in the Lacson case
that judicial sanction for the dissolution of the conjugal partnership during the marriage should
be "secured beforehand."
Respondent Judge surmised that Selanova's complaint was instigated by a lawyer whose
case was adversely decided by the Judge. That speculation was denied by Selanova who
also belied Judge Mendoza's version that the complainant and his wife, Avelina Ceniza, "together
with their parents", came to the office of Judge Mendoza and solicited his help in the amicable
settlement of their marital imbroglio.
According to Selanova, in 1972 his father was already dead and his mother was ninety-one
years old. They could not possibly have come to Judge Mendoza's office. Selanova said
that only he and his brother-in-law, Arcadio Ceniza, an alleged classmate of Judge Mendoza,
were the persons who went to the Judge's office. But that version may be inaccurate and
oversimplified, considering that the agreement was signed before Judge Mendoza not only
by Selanova but also by his wife and two witnesses, Lamberts M. Ceniza and Florencio
C. Pono.
Judge Mendoza retired on February 27, 1975 when he reached the age of seventy. In his
letter of April 8, 1975 he asked for a compassionate view of his case considering his forty-three
years' service in the government (he started his public career in 1932 as a policeman and
became a justice of the peace in 1954). He also cited the financial predicament of his
big family occasioned by the delay in the payment of his retirement and terminal leave pay.
The case was not referred to a Judge of the Court of First Instance for investigation because
actually no factual issues necessitate a hearing and presentation of evidence. Respondent
Judge admitted that he was responsible for the execution of the questioned document, an
extrajudicial "Liquidation of Conjugal Properties", which he caused complainant Saturnino
Selanova and his wife, Avelina Ceniza, to sign.
In that instrument Judge Mendoza divided the two pieces of conjugal assets of the spouses
by allocating to the husband a thirteen-hectare riceland and to the wife the residential house
and lot. The last paragraph of the instrument, which licensed either spouse to commit any
act of infidelity, was in effect a ratification of their personal separation. The agreement in
question is void because it contravenes the following provisions of the Civil Code:têñ.£îhqwâ£
ART. 221. The following shall be void and of no effect:
(1) Any contract for personal separation between husband and wife;
(2) Every extrajudicial agreement, during marriage, for the dissolution of the conjugal
partnership of gains or of the absolute community of property between husband and
wife;
Even before the enactment of the new Civil Code, this Court held that the extrajudicial dissolution
of the conjugal partnership without judicial approval was void (Quintana vs. Lerma, 24 Phil.
285; De Luna vs. Linatoc, 74 Phil. 15, De La Rosa vs. Barruga, L-2368, June 30, 1950,
4 ROP Digest 171, sec. 29).
On the other hand, disciplinary action had been taken against notaries who authenticated
agreements for the personal separation of spouses wherein either spouse was permitted to
commit acts of infidelity.
Thus, in Panganiban vs. Borromeo, 58 Phil. 367, a lawyer was severely censured for having
notarized a document containing "an agreement between the husband and the wife which
permitted the husband to take unto himself a concubine and the wife to live in adulterous
relationship with another man, without opposition from either one of them". The document
was prepared by another person.
In that case this Court noted that while adultery and concubinage are private crimes, "they
still remain crimes" and a contract legalizing their commission is "contrary to law, morals
and public order, and as a consequence not judicially recognizable". Since the notary's
commission was already revoked, this Court did not disbar him. The fact that he "may not
have realized the full purport of the document to which he took acknowledgment' was considered
mitigating.
Severe censure was also administered to a notary of Cebu City who ratified a document
entitled "Legal Separation", executed by husband and wife, wherein they agreed that they
separated mutually and voluntarily, that they renounced their rights and obligations, and that
they authorized each other to remarry, renouncing any action to which they might be entitled
and each promising not to be a witness against the other. Those covenants are contrary
to law, morals and good customs and tend to subvert the vital foundation of the legitimate
family (Biton vs. Momongon, 62 Phil. 7).
In the Santiago case respondent lawyer prepared for a married couple (who had been separated
for nine years) a document wherein it was stipulated, inter alia, that they authorized each
other to marry again, at the same time renouncing whatever right of action one might have
against the other. When the husband inquired if there would be no trouble, respondent lawyer
pointed to his diploma which was hanging on the wall and said: "I would tear that off if
this document turns out not to be valid." The husband remarried. The respondent was suspended
from the practice of law for one year for having been ignorant of the law or being careless
in giving legal advice (In re Santiago, 70 Phil. 66).
In Balinon vs. De Leon, 94 Phil. 277, Attorney Celestino M. de Leon prepared an affidavit
wherein he declared that he was married to Vertudes Marquez, from whom he had been
separated, their conjugal partnership having been dissolved, and that he was consorting with
Regina S. Balinon his "new found life-partner," to whom he would "remain loyal and faithful"
"as a lawful and devoted loving husband for the rest of" his life "at all costs". Attorney
Justo T. Velayo notarized that affidavit. This Court reprimanded Velayo and suspended De
Leon from the practice of law for three years.
In the instant case, respondent Judge, due to his unawareness of the legal prohibition against
contracts for the personal separation of husband and wife and for the extrajudicial dissolution
of their conjugal partnership, prepared the said void agreement which was acknowledged
before him as "City Judge and Notary Public Ex-Officio". (Because he was admitted to
the bar in 1948 and, consequently, he did not study the new Civil Code in the law school,
he might not have been cognizant of its aforecited article 221).
Taking into account that circumstance and his apparent good faith and honest desire to terminate
the marital conflict between the complainant and his wife, we are of the opinion that a drastic
penalty should not be imposed on him. But he deserves a severe censure for his mistake
in preparing and notarizing the aforementioned immoral and illegal agreement. Such severe
reprimand should not be an obstacle to his enjoyment of retirement privileges, assuming that
there are no causes for depriving him of such benefits.
WHEREFORE, the respondent is severely censured.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 80965 June 6, 1990
SYLVIA LICHAUCO DE LEON, petitioner,
vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, MACARIA DE LEON AND JOSE VICENTE DE LEON,
respondents.

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 06649 dated June 30, 1987 the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig in
SP Proc. No. 8492 dated December 29, 1983; and its resolution dated November 24, 1987
denying the motion for reconsideration.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
On October 18, 1969, private respondent Jose Vicente De Leon and petitioner Sylvia Lichauco
De Leon were united in wedlock before the Municipal Mayor of Binangonan, Rizal. On August
28, 1971, a child named Susana L. De Leon was born from this union.
Sometime in October, 1972, a de facto separation between the spouses occured due to
irreconcilable marital differences, with Sylvia leaving the conjugal home. Sometime in March,
1973, Sylvia went to the United States where she obtained American citizenship.
On November 23, 1973, Sylvia filed with the Superior Court of California, County of San
Francisco, a petition for dissolution of marriage against Jose Vicente. In the said divorce
proceedings, Sylvia also filed claims for support and distribution of properties. It appears,
however, that since Jose Vicente was then a Philippine resident and did not have any assets
in the United States, Sylvia chose to hold in abeyance the divorce proceedings, and in the
meantime, concentrated her efforts to obtain some sort of property settlements with Jose
Vicente in the Philippines.
Thus, on March 16, 1977, Sylvia succeeded in entering into a Letter-Agreement with her
mother-in-law, private respondent Macaria De Leon, which We quote in full, as follows (pp.
40-42, Rollo):
March 16, 1977

Mrs. Macaria Madrigal de Leon


12 Jacaranda, North Forbes Park
Makati, Metro Manila

Dear Dora Macaria:


This letter represents a contractual undertaking among (A) the undersigned (B)
your son, Mr. Jose Vicente de Leon, represented by you, and (C) yourself in
your personal capacity.
You hereby bind yourself jointly and severally to answer for the undertakings of
Joe Vincent under this contract.
In consideration for a peaceful and amicable termination of relations between the
undersigned and her lawfully wedded husband, Jose Vicente de Leon, your son,
the following are agreed upon:
Obligations of Jose Vicente de Leon and/ or yourself in a joint and several capacity:
1. To deliver with clear title free from all liens and encumbrances and subject to
no claims in any form whatsoever the following properties to Sylvia Lichauco-de
Leon hereinafter referred to as the wife:
A. Suite 11-C, Avalon Condominium, Ortigas Ave., corner Xavier St., Mandaluyong,
Rizal, Philippines.
B. Apartment 702, Wack Wack Condominium, Mandaluyong, Rizal, Philippines.
C. The rights to assignment of 2 Ayala lots in Alabang, Rizal (Corner lots, 801
s q. meters each). (Fully paid).
D. 2470 Wexford Ave., South San Francisco, California, U.S.A. (Lot 18 Block
22 Westborough Unit No. 2). (Fully paid).
E. 1) The sum of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000)
2) $30,000
3) $5,000
2. To give monthly support payable six (6) months in advance every year to any
designated assignee of the wife for the care and upbringing of Susana Lichauco
de Leon which is hereby pegged at the exchange rate of 7.50 to the dollar subject
to adjustments in the event of monetary exchange fluctuations. Subsequent increase
on actual need upon negotiation.
3. To respect the custody of said minor daughter as pertaining exclusively to the
wife except as herein provided.
Obligations of the wife:
1. To agree to a judicial separation of property in accordance with Philippine law
and in this connection to do all that may be necessary to secure said separation
of property including her approval in writing of a joint petition or consent decree.
2. To amend her complaint in the United States before the Federal Court of California,
U.S.A. entitled "Sylvia Lichauco de Leon vs. Jose V. de Leon" in a manner compatible
with the objectives of this herein agreement. It is the stated objective of this agreement
that said divorce proceedings will continue.
3. All the properties herein described for assignment to the wife must be assigned
to Sylvia Lichauco de Leon upon the decree of the Court of First Instance in the
Joint Petition for Separation of Property; except for the P100,000, $30,000 and
$5,000 which will be paid immediately.
4. This contract is intended to be applicable both in the Republic of the Philippines
and in the United States of America. It is agreed that this will constitute an actionable
document in both jurisdictions and the parties herein waive their right to object to
the use of this document in the event a legal issue should arise relating to the
validity of this document. In the event of a dispute, this letter is subject to interpretation
under the laws of California, U.S.A.
5. To allow her daughter to spend two to three months each year with the father
upon mutual convenience.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) Sylvia de Leon t/ SYLVIA L. DE LEON
CONFORME:
s/t/MACARIA M. DE LEON
with my marital consent:
s/t/JUAN L. DE LEON
On the same date, Macaria made cash payments to Sylvia in the amount of P100,000
and US$35,000.00 or P280,000.00, in compliance with her obligations as stipulated in
the aforestated Letter-Agreement.
On March 30, 1977, Sylvia and Jose Vicente filed before the then Court of First Instance
of Rizal a joint petition for judicial approval of dissolution of their conjugal partnership, the
main part of which reads as follows (pp. 37-38, Rollo):
5. For the best interest of each of them and of their minor child, petitioners have
agreed to dissolve their conjugal partnership and to partition the assets thereof, under
the following terms and conditions-this document, a pleading being intended by them
to embody and evidence their agreement:
xxx xxx xxx
(c) The following properties shall be adjudicated to petitioner Sylvia Lichauco De
Leon. These properties will be free of any and all liens and encumbrances, with
clear title and subject to no claims by third parties. Petitioner Jose Vicente De Leon
fully assumes all responsibility and liability in the event these properties shall not
be as described in the previous sentence:
Sedan (1972 model)
Suite 11-C, Avalon Condominium,
Ortigas Ave., comer Xavier St.,
Mandaluyong, Rizal, Philippines
Apt. 702, Wack-Wack Condominium,
Mandaluyong, Rizal, Philippines
The rights to assignment of 2 Ayala lots in Alabang Rizal (corner lots, 801 sq.
meters each) (Fully paid)
2470 Wexford Ave., South San Francisco, California, U.S.A. (Lot 18, Block 22
Westborough Unit 2) (Fully paid)
The sum of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00)
$30,000.00 at current exchange rate
$5,000.00 at current exchange rate
After ex-parte hearings, the trial court issued an Order dated February 19, 1980 approving
the petition, the dispositive portion of which reads (p. 143, Rollo):
WHEREFORE, it is hereby declared that the conjugal partnership of the Spouses
is DISSOLVED henceforth, without prejudice to the terms of their agreement that
each spouse shall own, dispose of, possess, administer and enjoy his or her separate
estate, without the consent of the other, and all earnings from any profession, business
or industries shall likewise belong to each spouse.
On March 17, 1980, Sylvia moved for the execution of the above-mentioned order. However,
Jose Vicente moved for a reconsideration of the order alleging that Sylvia made a verbal
reformation of the petition as there was no such agreement for the payment of P4,500.00
monthly support to commence from the alleged date of separation in April, 1973 and that
there was no notice given to him that Sylvia would attempt verbal reformation of the agreement
contained in the joint petition
While the said motion for reconsideration was pending resolution, on April 20, 1980, Macaria
filed with the trial court a motion for leave to intervene alleging that she is the owner of
the properties involved in the case. The motion was granted. On October 29, 1980, Macaria,
assisted by her husband Juan De Leon, filed her complaint in intervention. She assailed
the validity and legality of the Letter-Agreement which had for its purpose, according to
her, the termination of marital relationship between Sylvia and Jose Vicente. However, before
any hearing could be had, the judicial reorganization took place and the case was transferred
to the-Regional Trial Court of Pasig. On December 29, 1983, the trial court rendered judgment,
the dispositive portion of which reads (pp. 35-36, Rollo):
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered on the complaint in intervention in favor
of the intervenor, declaring null and void the letter agreement dated March 16, 1977
(Exhibits 'E' to 'E-2'), and ordering petitioner Sylvia Lichauco De Leon to restore
to intervenor the amount of P380,000.00 plus legal interest from date of complaint,
and to pay intervenor the amount of P100,000.00 as and for attorney's fees, and
to pay the costs of suit.
Judgment is likewise rendered affirming the order of the Court dated February 19,
1980 declaring the conjugal partnership of the spouses Jose Vicente De Leon and
Sylvia Lichauco De Leon DISSOLVED; and adjudicating to each of them his or her
share of the properties and assets of said conjugal partnership in accordance with
the agreement embodied in paragraph 5 of the petition, except insofar as the
adjudication to petitioner Sylvia L. De Leon of the properties belonging to and owned
by Intervenor Macaria De Leon is concerned.
Henceforth, (a) each spouse shall own, dispose of, possess, administer and enjoy
his or her separate estate, present and future without the consent of the other;
(b) an earnings from any profession, business or industry shall likewise belong
to each of them separately; (c) the minor child Susana De Leon shall stay with
petitioner Sylvia Lichauco De Leon for two to three months every year-the transportation
both ways of the child for the trip to the Philippines to be at the expense of the
petitioner Jose Vicente De Leon; and (d) petitioner Jose Vicente De Leon shall
give petitioner Sylvia Lichauco De Leon the sum of P4,500.00 as monthly support
for the minor child Susana to commence from February 19, 1980.
Sylvia appealed to the respondent Court of Appeals raising the following errors:
1) The trial court erred in finding that the cause or consideration of the Letter- Agreement
is the termination of marital relations;
2) The trial court failed to appreciate testimonial and documentary evidence proving that
Macaria de Leon's claims of threat, intimidation and mistake are baseless; and
3) The trial court erred in finding that Sylvia Lichauco de Leon committed breach of the
Letter-Agreement; and further, failed to appreciate evidence proving Macaria de Leon's material
breach thereof.
The respondent court affirmed the decision in toto. The motion for reconsideration was denied.
Hence, the present petition.
The only basis by which Sylvia may lay claim to the properties which are the subject matter
of the Letter-Agreement, is the Letter-Agreement itself. The main issue, therefore, is whether
or not the Letter-Agreement is valid. The third paragraph of the Letter-Agreement, supra,
reads:
In consideration for a peaceful and amicable termination of relations between the
undersigned and her lawfully wedded husband, Jose Vicente De Leon, your son,
the following are agreed upon: (emphasis supplied)
It is readily apparent that the use of the word "relations" is ambiguous, perforce, it is subject
to interpretation. There being a doubt as to the meaning of this word taken by itself, a
consideration of the general scope and purpose of the instrument in which it occurs (see
Germann and Co. v. Donaldson, Sim and Co., 1 Phil. 63) and Article 1374 of the Civil
Code which provides that the various stipulations of a contract shall be interpreted together,
attributing to the doubtful ones that sense which may result from all of them taken jointly,
is necessary.
Sylvia insists that the consideration for her execution of the Letter-Agreement was the termination
of property relations with her husband. Indeed, Sylvia and Jose Vicente subsequently filed
a joint petition for judicial approval of the dissolution of their conjugal partnership, sanctioned
by Article 191 of the Civil Code. On the other hand, Macaria and Jose Vicente assert that
the consideration was the termination of marital relationship.
We sustain the observations and conclusion made by the trial court, to wit (pp. 44- 46,
Rollo):
On page two of the letter agreement (Exhibit' E'), the parties contemplated not
only to agree to a judicial separation of property of the spouses but likewise to
continue with divorce proceedings (paragraphs 1 and 2, Obligations of the Wife,
Exhibit 'E-1'). If taken with the apparently ambiguous provisions in Exhibit E' regarding
termination of 'relations', the parties clearly contemplated not only the termination
of property relationship but likewise of marital relationship in its entirety. Furthermore,
it would be safe to assume that the parties in Exhibit 'E' not having specified the
particular relationship which they wanted to peacefully and amicably terminate had
intended to terminate all kinds of relations, both marital and property. While there
could be inherent benefits to a termination of conjugal property relationship between
the spouses, the court could not clearly perceive the underlying benefit for the intervenor
insofar as termination of property relationship between petitioners is concerned, unless
the underlying consideration for intervenor is the termination of marital relationship
by divorce proceedings between her son Jose Vicente and his wife petitioner Sylvia.
The last sentence of paragraph 2 under "Obligations of the Wife" unequivocally
states: "It is the stated objective of this agreement that said divorce proceedings
(in the United States) will continue. "There is merit in concluding that the consideration
by which Intervenor executed Exhibit 'E' to 'E-2' was to secure freedom for her
son petitioner Jose Vicente De Leon, especially if Exhibit 'R'-Intervenor, which is
(sic) agreement signed by petitioner Sylvia to consent to and pardon Jose Vicente
De Leon for adultery and concubinage (among others) would be considered. In
the light, therefore, of the foregoing circumstances, this Court finds credible the
testimony of intervenor as follows:
Q Will you please go over the Exhibit 'E' to 'E-2'- intervenor consisting
of three pages and inform us whether or not this is the letter of March
16, 1977 which you just referred to?
A Yes, this is the letter.
Why did you affix your signature to this Exh. 'E'-intervenor (sic)?
A Because at that time when I signed it I want to buy peace for myself
and for the whole family.
Q From whom did you want to buy peace and/or what kind of peace?
A I wanted to buy peace from Sylvia Lichauco whom I knew was kind
of 'matapang;' so I want peace for me and primarily for the peaceful and
amicable termination of marital relationship between my son, Joe Vincent
and Sylvia. (Deposition dated September 6, 1983-Macaria de Leon, p.
6-7)

This Court, therefore, finds and holds that the cause or consideration for the intervenor
Macaria De Leon in having executed Exhibits 'E' to 'E-2' was the termination of
the marital relationship between her son Jose Vicente De Leon and Sylvia Lichauco
de Leon.
Article 1306 of the New Civil Code provides:
Art. 1306. The contracting parties may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms,
and conditions as they may deem convenient, provided they are not contrary to
law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy.
If the stipulation is contrary to law, morals or public policy, the contract is void
and inexistent from the beginning.
Art. 1409. The following contracts are inexistent and void from the beginning:
Those whose cause, object or purpose is contrary to law, morals, good customs,
public order or public policy;
(7) Those expressly prohibited or declared void by law.
These contracts cannot be ratified. Neither can the right to set up the defense of
illegality be waived.
But marriage is not a mere contract but a sacred social institution. Thus, Art. 52
of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 52. Marriage is not a mere contract but an inviolable social institution. Its nature,
consequences and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulations...
From the foregoing provisions of the New Civil Code, this court is of the considered
opinion and so holds that intervenor's undertaking under Exhibit 'E' premised on
the termination of marital relationship is not only contrary to law but contrary to
Filipino morals and public Policy. As such, any agreement or obligations based on
such unlawful consideration and which is contrary to public policy should be deemed
null and void. (emphasis supplied)

Additionally, Article 191 of the Civil Case contemplates properties belonging to the spouses
and not those belonging to a third party, who, in the case at bar., is Macaria. In the petition
for the dissolution of the conjugal partnership, it was made to appear that the said properties
are conjugal in nature. However, Macaria was able to prove that the questioned properties
are owned by her. Neither Sylvia nor Jose Vicente adduced any contrary evidence.
Granting, in gratia argumenti, that the consideration of the Letter-Agreement was the termination
of property relations, We agree with the respondent court that (pp. 46-47, Rollo):
... the agreement nevertheless is void because it contravenes the following provisions
of the Civil Code:
Art. 221. The following shall be void and of no effect:
(1) Any contract for personal separation between husband and wife;
(2) Every extra-judicial agreement, during marriage, for the dissolution of the conjugal
partnership of gains or of the absolute community of property between husband and
wife;
Besides, the Letter-Agreement shows on its face that it was prepared by Sylvia, and in
this regard, the ambiguity in a contract is to be taken contra proferentem, i.e., construed
against the party who caused the ambiguity and could have also avoided it by the exercise
of a little more care. Thus, Article 1377 of the Civil Code provides: "The interpretation of
obscure words of stipulations in a contract shall not favor the party who caused the obscurity"
(see Equitable Banking Corp. vs. IAC, G.R. No. 74451, May 25, 1988, 161 SCRA 518).
Sylvia alleges further that since the nullity of the Letter-Agreement proceeds from the unlawful
consideration solely of Macaria, applying the pari delicto rule, it is clear that she cannot
recover what she has given by reason of the Letter-Agreement nor ask for the fulfillment
of what has been promised her. On her part, Macaria raises the defenses of intimidation
and mistake which led her to execute the Letter-Agreement. In resolving this issue, the
trial court said (pp. 148-151, Rollo):
In her second cause of action, intervenor claims that her signing of Exhibits 'E'
to 'E- 2' was due to a fear of an unpeaceful and troublesome separation other
son with petitioner Sylvia Lichauco de Leon. In support of her claim, intervenor testified
as follows:
Q Will you please inform us how did Sylvia Lichauco disturb or threaten
your son or yourself?
A Despite the fact that Sylvia Lichauco voluntarily left my son Joe Vincent
and abandoned him, she unashamedly nagged Joe and me to get money
and when her demands were not met she resorted to threats like, she
threatened to bring Joe to court for support. Sylvia threatened to scandalize
our family by these baseless suits; in fact she caused the service of summons
to Joe when he went to the United States. (Intervenor's deposition dated
Sept. 6, 1983, p. 8).
On the other hand, petitioner Sylvia claims that it was intervenor and petitioner Jose
Vicente who initiated the move to convince her to agree to a dissolution of their
conjugal partnership due to the alleged extra-marital activities of petitioner Jose Vicente
de Leon. She testified as follows:
Q Now in her testimony, Macaria Madrigal de Leon also said that you
threatened her by demanding money and nagged her until she agreed to
the letter agreement of March 1977, what can you say about that?
A I think with all the people sitting around with Atty. Quisumbing, Atty.
Chuidian, my father-in-law, my sister-in-law and I, you know, it can be
shown that this was a friendly amicable settlement that they were much
really interested in settling down as I was. I think there were certain reasons
that they wanted to get done or planned, being at that time Jose was
already remarried and had a child. That since she then found out that
since she was worried about what might be, you know, involved in any
future matters. She just wanted to do what she could. She just want me
out of the picture. So in no way, it cannot be said that I nagged and
threatened her. (TSN dated December 8, 1983, p. 137-138)

In resolving this issue, this Court leans heavily on Exhibit 'R'-intervenor, which was
not controverted by petitioner Sylvia. A reading of Exhibit 'R' would show that petitioner
Sylvia would consent to and pardon petitioner Jose Vicente, son of intervenor, for
possible crimes of adultery and/or concubinage, with a sizing attached; that is, the
transfer of the properties subject herein to her. There appears some truth to the
apprehensions of intervenor for in petitioner Sylvia's testimony she confirms the worry
of intervenor as follows:'... being at that time Jose (De Leon) was already remarried
and had a child. That since she (intervenor) found out that, she was worried about
what might be, you know, involved in any future matters. She just want me out
of the picture." The aforesaid fear of intervenor was further corroborated by her
witness Concepcion Tagudin who testified as follows:
Q Now, you mentioned that you were present when Mrs. Macaria De Leon
signed this Exhibit 'E-2, ' will you inform us whether there was anything
unusual which you noticed when Mrs. Macaria M. De Leon signed this
Exhibit 'E-2'?
A Mrs. Macaria M. De Leon was in a state of tension and anger. She
was so mad that she remarked: 'Punetang Sylvia ito bakit ba niya ako
ginugulo. Ipakukulong daw niya si Joe Vincent kung hindi ko pipirmahan
ito. Sana matapos na itong problemang ito pagkapirmang ito,' sabi niya.'
(Deposition-Concepcion Tagudin, Oct. 21, 1983, pp. 10-11)
In her third cause of action, intervenor claims mistake or error in having signed
Exhibits '1' to 'E-2' alleging in her testimony as follows:
Q Before you were told such by your lawyers what if any were your basis
to believe that Sylvia would no longer have inheritance rights from your
son, Joe Vincent?
A Well, that was what Sylvia told me. That she will eliminate any inheritance
rights from me or my son Joe Vincent's properties if I sign the document
amicably. ... (Intervenor's deposition-Sept. 6, 1983, pp. 9-10).

On the other hand, petitioner Sylvia claims that intervenor could not have been mistaken
in her having signed the document as she was under advice of counsel during the
time that Exhibits 'E' to 'E-2' was negotiated. To support such claims by Sylvia
Lichauco De Leon, the deposition testimony of Atty. Vicente Chuidian was presented
before this Court:
Atty. Herbosa: Now you mentioned Atty. Norberto Quisumbing, would you
be able to tell us in what capacity he was present in that negotiation?
Atty. Chuidian: He was counsel for Dona Macaria and for Joe Vincent,
the spouse of Sylvia. (Deposition of V. Chuidian, December 16, 1983,
p. 8)

The New Civil Code provides:


Art. 1330. A contract where consent is given through mistake, violence, intimidation,
undue influence or fraud is voidable.
Art. 1331. In order that mistake may invalidate consent, it should refer to the substance
of the thing which is the object of the contract, or to those conditions which have
principally moved one or both parties to enter into a contract. ...
The preponderance of evidence leans in favor of intervenor who even utilized the
statement of the divorce lawyer of petitioner Sylvia (Mr. Penrod) in support of
the fact that intervenor was mistaken in having signed Exhibits 'E' to 'E-2' because
when she signed said Exhibits she believed that fact that petitioner Sylvia would
eliminate her inheritance rights and there is no showing that said intervenor was
properly advised by any American lawyer on the fact whether petitioner Sylvia, being
an American citizen, could rightfully do the same. Transcending, however, the issue
of whether there was mistake of fact on the part of intervenor or not, this Court
could not. see a valid cause or consideration in favor of intervenor Macaria De
Leon having signed Exhibits 'E' to 'E-2.' For even if petitioner Sylvia had confirmed
Mr. Penrod's statement during the divorce proceedings in the United States that
she would undertake to eliminate her hereditary rights in the event of the property
settlement, under Philippine laws, such contract would likewise be voidable, for under
Art. 1347 of the New Civil Code 'no contract may be entered into upon future
inheritance.

We do not subscribe to the aforestated view of the trial court. Article 1335 of the Civil
Code provides:
There is intimidation when one of the contracting parties is compelled by a reasonable
and well-grounded fear of an imminent and grave evil upon his person or property,
or upon the person or property of his spouse, descendants or ascendants, to give
his consent.
To determine the degree of the intimidation, the age, sex and condition of the person
shall be borne in mind.
A threat to enforce one's claim through competent authority, if the claim is just
or legal, does not vitiate consent.
In order that intimidation may vitiate consent and render the contract invalid, the following
requisites must concur: (1) that the intimidation must be the determining cause of the contract,
or must have caused the consent to be given; (2) that the threatened act be unjust or
unlawful; (3) that the threat be real and serious, there being an evident disproportion between
the evil and the resistance which all men can offer, leading to the choice of the contract
as the lesser evil; and (4) that it produces a reasonable and well-grounded fear from
the fact that the person from whom it comes has the necessary means or ability to inflict
the threatened injury. Applying the foregoing to the present case, the claim of Macaria that
Sylvia threatened her to bring Jose Vicente to court for support, to scandalize their family
by baseless suits and that Sylvia would pardon Jose Vicente for possible crimes of adultery
and/or concubinage subject to the transfer of certain properties to her, is obviously not the
intimidation referred to by law. With respect to mistake as a vice of consent, neither is
Macaria's alleged mistake in having signed the Letter-Agreement because of her belief that
Sylvia will thereby eliminate inheritance rights from her and Jose Vicente, the mistake referred
to in Article 1331 of the Civil Code, supra. It does not appear that the condition that Sylvia
"will eliminate her inheritance rights" principally moved Macaria to enter into the contract.
Rather, such condition was but an incident of the consideration thereof which, as discussed
earlier, is the termination of marital relations.
In the ultimate analysis, therefore, both parties acted in violation of the laws. However, the
pari delicto rule, expressed in the maxims "Ex dolo malo non oritur actio" and "In pari
delicto potior est conditio defendentis," which refuses remedy to either party to an illegal
agreement and leaves them where they are, does not apply in this case. Contrary to the
ruling of the respondent Court that (pp. 47-48, Rollo):
... [C]onsequently, intervenor appellees' obligation under the said agreement having
been annulled, the contracting parties shall restore to each other that things which
have been subject matter of the contract, their fruits and the price or its interest,
except as provided by law (Art. 1398, Civil Code).
Article 1414 of the Civil Code, which is an exception to the pari delicto rule, is the proper
law to be applied. It provides:
When money is paid or property delivered for an illegal purpose, the contract may
be repudiated by one of the parties before the purpose has been accomplished,
or before any damage has been caused to a third person. In such case, the courts
may, if the public interest wig thus be subserved, allow the party repudiating the
contract to recover the money or property.
Since the Letter-Agreement was repudiated before the purpose has been accomplished and
to adhere to the pari delicto rule in this case is to put a premium to the circumvention
of the laws, positive relief should be granted to Macaria. Justice would be served by allowing
her to be placed in the position in which she was before the transaction was entered into.
With the conclusions thus reached, We find it unnecessary to discuss the other issues raised.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of the respondent Court of
Appeals dated June 30, 1987 and its resolution dated November 24, 1987 are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.