Civil Law

BAKSH v. CA G.R. No. 97336 February 19, 1993 Article 21 of the New Civil Code, Breach of Promise to Marry

FACTS:

Private respondent Marilou Gonzales  filed with the trial court a complaint for damages against petitioner Gasheem Shookat Baksh, for the alleged violation of their agreement to get married. 

Gonzales is a twenty-two year old, single Filipina. Petitioner, on the other hand, is an Iranian citizen, and is an exchange student taking a medical course in Dagupan City. The latter courted and proposed to marry Gonzales, and she accepted his love on the condition that they would get married. They therefore agreed to get married after the end of the school semester.

Petitioner allegedly forced her to live with him; she was a virgin before she began living with him; a week before the filing of the complaint, petitioner’s attitude towards her started to change; he maltreated and threatened to kill her.

Petitioner repudiated their marriage agreement and asked her not to live with him anymore. 

It turns out that petitioner is already married to someone living in Bacolod City. 

Private respondent then prayed for judgment ordering the petitioner to pay her damages, reimbursement for actual expenses, attorney’s fees and costs.

Petitioner thus claimed that he never proposed marriage to or agreed to be married with the private respondent; that he neither forced her to live in his apartment nor did he maltreat her.

After trial on the merits, the lower court, applying Article 21 of the Civil Code, rendered a decision favoring the private respondent. The petitioner was thus ordered to pay the latter damages and attorney’s fees.

On appeal,  respondent CA affirmed in toto the trial court’s ruling.

Hence, the instant petition.

ISSUE:

Whether breach of promise to marry can give rise to a cause of action under Article 21 of the New Civil Code.

RULING:

The existing rule is that a breach of promise to marry per se is not an actionable wrong. 

This notwithstanding, the said Code contains a provision, Article 21, which is designed to expand the concept of torts or quasi-delict in this jurisdiction by granting adequate legal remedy for the untold number of moral wrongs which is impossible for human foresight to specifically enumerate and punish in the statute books. 

In the light of the purpose of Article 21, We are of the opinion, and so hold, that where a man’s promise to marry is in fact the proximate cause of the acceptance of his love by a woman and his representation to fulfill that promise thereafter becomes the proximate cause of the giving of herself unto him in a sexual congress, proof that he had, in reality, no intention of marrying her and that the promise was only a subtle scheme or deceptive device to entice or inveigle her to accept him and to obtain her consent to the sexual act, could justify the award of damages pursuant to Article 21 not because of such promise to marry but because of the fraud and deceit behind it and the willful injury to her honor and reputation which followed thereafter. 

It is essential, however, that such injury should have been committed in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy.

In the instant case, respondent Court found that it was the petitioner’s “fraudulent and deceptive protestations of love for and promise to marry plaintiff that made her surrender her virtue and womanhood to him and to live with him on the honest and sincere belief that he would keep said promise, and it was likewise these fraud and deception on appellant’s part that made plaintiff’s parents agree to their daughter’s living-in with him preparatory to their supposed marriage.”  

In short, the private respondent surrendered her virginity, the cherished possession of every single Filipina, not because of lust but because of moral seduction.

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