If marriage is an error, law should allow correction - top judge

Below is the Dissenting Opinion of Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen in Castillo v. Republic (G.R. No. 214064, February 6, 2017). The Regional Trial Court declared void the marriage of Mirasol Castillo (Mirasol) and Felipe Impas (Felipe) due to Felipe's psychological incapacity. The Court of Appeals, however, reversed and set aside the Regional Trial Court Decision and held that Mirasol failed to sufficiently prove that Felipe is psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations.

I cannot join the majority's reading of the law as it condemns loveless married couples to a life of pain and suffering. The law should not be read as too callous or cruel that it forever condemns those who may have made very human errors in choosing those with whom they should be intimate. For the State to enforce this cruelty is the very antithesis of the freedoms embodied in many provisions of our Constitution.

Marriage is a struggle. In some cases, fortunate couples discover that they become better together. They learn that their compromises make them grow further.

However, there are others who discover that marriage creates a bond that magnifies their differences. Irreconcilable differences make every moment of eternal bondage excruciating. The State, through the courts, do not add any new factor in a couple's intimate relationship when it denies petitions for declarations of nullity in failed marriages. The State leaves its citizens in a perpetual state of misery and places multiple hardships on a couple and their children.

Felipe's continuous philandering, albeit having his own family, manifests an incurable psychological disorder of utmost gravity. If Felipe's sexual infidelity were merely caused by his "refusal or unwillingness"61 to assume his marital obligations, then he would not have been indifferent about being seen publicly with the other women with whom he had other affairs. What Felipe has done apparently caused much pain to his family and should be put to an end. It is cruel for this Court to rule that Mirasol should remain married to Felipe.

Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina interpreted Article 36 of the Family Code to introduce restrictions not found in the text of the law. Worse, it was inspired by a conservative, religious view of what marriages should be. This has caused untold hardships and costs for many Filipinos. It is time we review this doctrine and allow intimate relationships to be what they truly are: a life of celebration, rather than a living hell.

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