SC: Art. 36, NOT a cure for broken vows, love

SECOND DIVISION [ G.R. No. 241273, June 19, 2019 ] FRANK ONG LIM VERSUS ELISA TENG LIM.

After reviewing the Petition and its annexes, inclusive of the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision[1] dated March 27, 2018 and Resolution[2] dated August 6, 2018 in CA-G.R. CV No. 107932, as well as the Decision[3] dated January 16, 2014 and Order[4] dated March 7, 2016 issued by the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 109 in the consolidated cases docketed as Civil Case Nos. R-PSY-09-02152-CV and R-PSY-10-02835-CV, the Court resolves to DENY the Petition and AFFIRM the Decision of the CA.

At the outset, it must be stressed that marriage is treated as a social institution in this jurisdiction.[5] Thus, the Court cannot ascribe error to the CA for reinstating respondent's appeal in the interest of substantial justice, since the preservation of matrimonial ties is a matter in which the State has vital interest.[6]

Here, petitioner insists that the evidence on record, particularly the findings of Dr. Dayan, "had painstakingly x x x established the psychological incapacities [of the parties]"[7] in accordance with the guidelines laid down in Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina.[8] These assertions lack merit.

Dr. Dayan's findings cannot warrant the nullification of the parties' marriage in the absence of proof that their failure to comply with the marital obligations results not from mere refusal to do so, but is in fact grounded on incapacity characterized by gravity, incurability and juridical antecedence. Unfortunately, Article 36 of the Family Code is not the antidote for failed expectations, broken vows, lost and unrequited loves, and more so, refused or unfulfilled obligations. The institution of marriage transcends these.

As astutely observed by the CA, the evidence on record collectively show that the parties had a loving, caring and harmonious relationship during the first 20 years of their marriage, resulting in the birth of their four children.[9]As well, the Court affirms the grant of the petition for legal separation on the ground of petitioner's repeated physical violence and grossly abusive conduct against respondent. Reference to the RTC's findings relating to respondent's prayer for issuance of TPO, which forms part of the records of this case, is in order:
The imputed acts of the [petitioner] cause substantial emotional and psychological distress as well as imminent physical harm on the [respondent] and these clearly fall within the purview of the prohibited acts of violence against women and children under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9262.[10]
Accordingly, the denial of the Petition is proper.

SO ORDERED.

[1] Rollo, pp. 86-109. Penned by Associate Justice Ramon R. Garcia, with Associate Justices Edwin D. Sorongon and Maria Filomena D. Singh concurring.
[2] Id. at 111-112.
[3] Id. at 402-411. Penned by Judge Tingaraan U. Guiling.
[4] Id. at 471-487.
[5] See Ronulo v. People, 738 Phil. 206, 217 (2014).
[6] See id. at 212.
[7] Rollo, p. 54.
[8] 335 Phil. 664(1997).
[9] Rollo, p. 101.
[10] Id. at 164.

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