Cases where SC ruled against present spouse on presumptive death

In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals,[1] the Supreme Court ruled that the present spouse failed to prove that he had a well-founded belief that his absent spouse was already dead before he filed his petition. His efforts to locate his absent wife allegedly consisted of the following:
(1)
He went to his in-laws' house to look for her;
(2)
He sought the barangay captain's aid to locate her;
(3)
He went to her friends' houses to find her and inquired about her whereabouts among her friends;
(4)
He went to Manila and worked as a part-time taxi driver to look for her in malls during his free time;
(5)
He went back to Catbalogan and again looked for her; and
(6)
He reported her disappearance to the local police station and to the NBI.
Despite these claimed "earnest efforts," the Supreme Court still ruled against the present spouse. The Supreme Court explained that he failed to present the persons from whom he made inquiries and only reported his wife's absence after the OSG filed its notice to dismiss his petition in the RTC.

Similarly in Republic v. Granada,[2] the Supreme Court ruled that the present spouse failed to prove her "well-founded belief" that her absent spouse was already dead prior to her filing of the petition. She simply did not exert diligent efforts to locate her husband either in the country or in Taiwan, where he was known to have worked. Moreover, she did not explain her omissions. In said case, the High Court wrote:
The belief of the present spouse must be the result of proper and honest to goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of the absent spouse and whether the absent spouse is still alive or is already dead. Whether or not the spouse present acted on a well-founded belief of the death of the absent spouse depends upon inquiries to be drawn from a great many circumstances occurring before and after the disappearance of an absent spouse and the nature and extent of the inquiries made by the present spouse.

In Nolasco, the present spouse filed a petition for declaration of presumptive death of his wife, who had been missing for more than four years. He testified that his efforts to find her consisted of:

(1)
Searching for her whenever his ship docked in England;
(2)
Sending her letters which were all returned to him; and
(3)
Inquiring from their friends regarding her whereabouts, which all proved fruitless.

The Supreme Court held that the present spouse's methods of investigation were too sketchy to form a basis that his wife was already dead. It stated that the pieces of evidence only proved that his wife had chosen not to communicate with their common acquaintances, and not that she was dead.

Recently, in Republic v. Cantor[3] (Cantor), the High Court considered the present spouse's efforts to have fallen short of the "stringent standard" and lacked the degree of diligence required by jurisprudence as she did not actively look for her missing husband; that she did not report his absence to the police or seek the aid of the authorities to look for him; that she did not present as witnesses her missing husband's relatives or their neighbors and friends, who could corroborate her efforts to locate him; that these persons, from whom she allegedly made inquiries, were not even named; and that there was no other corroborative evidence to support her claim that she conducted a diligent search. In the Supreme Court's view, the wife merely engaged in a "passive search" where she relied on uncorroborated inquiries from her in-laws, neighbors and friends. She, thus, failed to conduct a diligent search. Her claimed efforts were insufficient to form a well-founded belief that her husband was already dead.

[1] 513 Phil. 391 (2005).

[2] G.R. No. 187512, June 13, 2012.

[3] Republic v. Cantor, G.R. No. 184621, December 10, 2013.

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