Montañes v. Cipriano (G.R. No. 181089; October 22, 2012)


FACTS: On April 8, 1976, Lourdes Cipriano (Lourdes) married Socrates Flores (Socrates). On January 24, 1983, during the subsistence of the said marriage, Lourdes married Silverio V. Cipriano (Silverio). In 2001, Lourdes filed with the RTC of Muntinlupa a Petition for the Annulment of her marriage with Socrates on the ground of the latter’s psychological incapacity. The RTC rendered its decision declaring the marriage of Lourdes with Socrates null and void. Said decision became final and executory on October 13, 2003.On May 14, 2004, petitioner Merlinda Montañez, Silverio’s daughter from the first marriage, filed a complaint for bigamy against Lourdes alleging that Lourdes failed to reveal to Silverio that she was still married to Socrates.

Lourdes moved to quash the information alleging that her first marriage to Socrates had already been declared void ab initio in 2003, thus, there was no more marriage to speak of prior to her marriage to Silverio on January 24, 1983. She also averred that she had contracted her second marriage before the effectivity of the Family Code; hence, the existing law at that time did not require a judicial declaration of absolute nullity as a condition precedent to contracting a subsequent marriage. Hence, the RTC granted the motion to quash.

ISSUE: Was the RTC correct in quashing the information for bigamy?

HELD: The elements of the crime of bigamy are: (a) the offender has been legally married; (b) the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (c) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and (d) the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity. The felony is consummated on the celebration of the second marriage or subsequent marriage. It is essential in the prosecution for bigamy that the alleged second marriage, having all the essential requirements, would be valid were it not for the subsistence of the first marriage.

In this case, it appears that when respondent contracted a second marriage with Silverio in 1983, her first marriage with Socrates celebrated in 1976 was still subsisting as the same had not yet been annulled or declared void by a competent authority. Clearly, the annulment of respondent's first marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity was declared only in 2003.

In Mercado v. Tan, we ruled that the subsequent judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage was immaterial, because prior to the declaration of nullity, the crime of bigamy had already been consummated.

As far back as 1995, in Atienza v. Brillantes, Jr., the Court already made the declaration that Article 40, which is a rule of procedure, should be applied retroactively because Article 256 of the Family Code itself provides that said "Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights." The Court went on to explain, thus: “The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the litigants' rights may not preclude their retroactive application to pending actions. The retroactive application of procedural laws is not violative of any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected. The reason is that as a general rule, no vested right may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws.” GRANTED.

Project Jurisprudence is connected with the following:

Facebook page:
Twitter page:
YouTube channel:
Another YouTube channel: