Modifications to capacity to act (Article 39, Civil Code)

The following circumstances, among others, modify or limit capacity to act: age, insanity, imbecility, the state of being a deaf-mute, penalty, prodigality, family relations, alienage, absence, insolvency and trusteeship. The consequences of these circumstances are governed in this Code, other codes, the Rules of Court, and in special laws. Capacity to act is not limited on account of religious belief or political opinion.

A married woman, twenty-one years of age or over, is qualified for all acts of civil life, except in cases specified by law. (Article 39, Civil Code)

Article 39 is broader than Article 38. While the latter talks about restrictions on capacity to act, the former includes not only the restrictions or limitations but also those circumstances that modify capacity to act. (Memorandum of the Code Commission, Lawyers’ Journal, July 31, 1953)

For example, it can be said that a thirty-year-old male has full capacity to act. However, he cannot marry his daughter or his mother. If having children, he has the property to dispose of his property but he cannot impair the successional share of his compulsory heirs. (Memorandum of the Code Commission, Law Journal, July 31, 1953) In People v. Asmawil, the accused would impugn the credibility of the witnesses, stating that being blood relatives of the deceased they were interested in the success of the prosecution. The Supreme Court ruled that, where no improper motive — such as personal grudge against the accused — has been shown, relationship to the victim does not render the clear and positive testimony of witnesses less worthy of full faith and credit. (People v. Valera, L-15662, August 30, 1962, cited in People v. Asmawil, G.R. No. L-18761, March 31, 1965)