Civil Law, Criminal Law

TEVES v. PEOPLE G.R. No. 188775 August 24, 2011 Bigamy


FACTS:

Cenon Teves and Thelma got married in 1992.

After the marriage, Thelma left to work abroad. She would only come home to the Philippines for vacations. While on a vacation in 2002, she was informed that her husband had contracted marriage with a certain Edita Calderon. To verify the information, she went to the National Statistics Office and secured a copy of the Certificate of Marriage indicating that her husband and Edita contracted marriage on 10 December 2001.

Petitioner was charged with bigamy.

During the pendency of the criminal case for bigamy, the RTC rendered a decision declaring the marriage of petitioner and Thelma null and void on the ground that Thelma is physically incapacitated to comply with her essential marital obligations pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code.

Petitioner appealed before the CA contending that the court a quo erred in not ruling that his criminal action or liability had already been extinguished.

Petitioner claims that since his previous marriage was declared null and void, there is in effect no marriage at all, and thus, there is no bigamy to speak of.

He differentiates a previous valid or voidable marriage from a marriage null and void ab initio, and posits that the former requires a judicial dissolution before one can validly contract a second marriage but a void marriage, for the same purpose, need not be judicially determined.

ISSUE:

Whether or not petitioner is guilty of the crime of Bigamy penalized under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.

RULING:

We find no reason to disturb the findings of the CA. There is nothing in the law that would sustain petitioner’s contention.

Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code states:

The elements of this crime are as follows:

1.      That the offender has been legally married;

2.      That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code;

3.      That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and

4.      That the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.

The instant case has all the elements of the crime of bigamy. Thus, the CA was correct in affirming the conviction of petitioner.

Petitioner was legally married to Thelma on 26 November 1992. He contracted a second or subsequent marriage with Edita on 10 December 2001. At the time of his second marriage with Edita, his marriage with Thelma was legally subsisting.

The second or subsequent marriage of petitioner with Edita has all the essential requisites for validity. Petitioner has in fact not disputed the validity of such subsequent marriage.

It is evident therefore that petitioner has committed the crime charged. His contention that he cannot be charged with bigamy in view of the declaration of nullity of his first marriage is bereft of merit.

The crime of bigamy was committed by petitioner on 10 December 2001 when he contracted a second marriage with Edita. The finality on 27 June 2006 of the judicial declaration of the nullity of his previous marriage to Thelma cannot be made to retroact to the date of the bigamous marriage.

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