Two members of the Senate’s so-called “macho bloc” have expressed willingness to support a bill that would protect battered husbands.
Senators Tito Sotto and Gregorio Honasan admit, albeit jokingly, that they sympathize with their beleaguered “bros” since they are both “under the saya” (henpecked husbands).
The idea of a law that would protect battered husbands surfaced on Father’s Day after deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte was asked whether Malacañang would be open to such a proposal.
Honasan, in an earlier query, said he would support such a measure should one be filed in the Senate. He cited the “equal protection clause and principle in the Constitution” as a basis for this.
Birds of same feather
Upon hearing of Honasan’s opinion, Sotto agreed his colleague would favor such a measure.
“Kasi under the saya siya, eh, kaya malakas ang loob n’ya, haha (It’s because he is a henpecked husband, that’s why he can talk so bravely),” Sotto said jokingly in an impromptu interview with reporters.
Sotto added that Honasan would not simply support the bill. It is also likely Honasan would file the bill himself.
“Tell him I said that. And when he hears about it, I already know what Greg would answer—‘So is he,’” Sotto said.
True enough, Honasan expressed willingness to support moves to protect battered husbands. In a text message, he also acknowledged—in jest—that “I am really afraid of Misis, hehehe, like my BFF (best friend forever), Senator Sotto.”
Honasan, a former Army colonel, grabbed the headlines in the 1980s as among the leaders of a military rebel group that staged several coup attempts against then President Corazon Aquino, the incumbent President’s late mother.
Helen and Jane
Sotto’s wife is the once very popular film star and singer Helen Gamboa, who has become active again in show business.
The Senate website says Mrs. Honasan, the former Jane Umali, is a “medical technologist by vocation and an interior designer by training” with whom Honasan has five children.
Now that his and Honasan’s support for battered husbands has been established, Sotto said the next concern would be whether a beaten-up hubby would be willing to testify as a resource person in a Senate hearing should his colleagues consider the bill.
Bill on wife-beating
Sotto recalled that during the 12th Congress, the Senate women and family relations committee chair, Teresa Aquino-Oreta, held hearings on a bill filed by Sen. Luisa “Loi” Ejercito penalizing violence committed against women, including wife-beating.
Sotto said he once stood up to interpellate Oreta when the latter sponsored the measure on the session floor. He asked Oreta and Ejercito why their bill did not include battered husbands.
“Are you willing to testify?” Oreta asked Sotto that time.
No one will testify
Sotto maintained he still believed that while the Senate would be open to the measure, finding resource persons who would testify that husband battery exists would be difficult—unless a hubby who had endured it would be man enough to admit it.
“There are some but not too many,” Sotto said. “No one will testify. It will be difficult to pass. The intention is good but no one will come forward to defend it.”
Sotto concluded: “Magpapakalalaki na lang kami (We’ll just have to show them we’re real men).”
(The Philippine Star) | Updated June 26, 2013 - 12:00am
In all cases of annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage, the court shall ensure that there is no collusion between the parties and that the evidence is not fabricated. For this purpose, it shall order the prosecutor or fiscal assigned to the case to appear in behalf of the State to take steps to prevent them (Article 48, Family Code (FC). This is the rule invoked in this case.
The case is about a high society couple Jerry and Becky who got married on June 3, 1972 at lavish wedding rites and reception. After seventeen years of marriage and begetting two children, their marriage hit the rocks. Becky filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) a petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage to Ricky after first obtaining a church annulment.
In her complaint, Becky alleged Jerry’s psychological incapacity to comply with his essential marital obligations that surfaced only later. Specifically she alleged: that they had violent fights, one of which caused physical injuries to her and impelled her to file a criminal complaint against him; that Jerry also used prohibited drugs for which he was sentenced to a one year suspended penalty; that Jerry is a womanizer and in fact left the conjugal home to cohabit with three women in succession; that after leaving the conjugal dwelling, he gave minimal support to the family and even refused to pay for the tuition of the children compelling her to accept donations and dole outs from family and friends; that he mismanaged their conjugal properties and spent extravagantly incurring large obligations from banks and financial institutions. Becky also asserted that attempts at reconciliation were made but the all failed because of Jerry’s refusal to reform.
Jerry answered denying the imputations against him. He blamed Becky for the break-down of their marriage and alleged that she did not accord him the respect and dignity due him as a husband but treated him as a persona non-grata; that due to extreme animosities he left the conjugal home for a cooling off period; that it was Becky who took drugs and had an affair with another man; that he was not a womanizer but his work in media exposed him to gossip linking him to various women; and that he was forced to dispose of some conjugal properties due to financial reverses in his business. Thus he petitioned the court to allow him to return to the conjugal home and continue administration of the conjugal properties.
At the trial, Vicky presented four witnesses including herself, their marriage counselor, a close friend and her own counsel to prove her allegations. She also presented documents including news articles about her husband’s relationship with other women, his arrest by authorities for illegal possession of drugs and the copy of the church annulment.
Upon resting her case the court scheduled the reception of Jerry’s evidence. But it was postponed twice for non-appearance of Jerry and/or his counsel. Thus Becky moved that Jerry be declared to have waived his right to present evidence and that the case be deemed submitted for decision. The RTC granted the motion and rendered a decision declaring the nullity of Becky’s marriage to Jerry and awarding custody of the children to her.
Counsel for Jerry received a copy of the decision but no appeal was taken so it became final and executory. But when Becky tried to execute the decision, Jerry opposed it and filed a petition for relief from judgment before the RTC. The RTC however denied it which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA).
Jerry questioned the CA ruling before the Supreme Court contending among others that when he failed to appear at the scheduled hearings, the trial court should have ordered the prosecuting officer to intervene for the State and inquire as to the reason for his non-appearance to prevent collusion between the parties pursuant to Article 48 of the FC. Was Jerry correct?
No. The facts of this case do not call for the application of Article 48 of the FC. For one, Jerry was not declared in default for failure to answer. He even contested Becky’s allegations and actively participated in the proceedings and cross-examined Becky’s witnesses. It is crystal clear that every stage of the litigation was characterized by a no-holds barred contest and not by collusion. Under the circumstances, the non-intervention by a prosecuting attorney to assure lack of collusion between the contending parties is not fatal to the validity of the proceedings in the trial court.
Collusion between the parties should be prevented to strengthen the family as a basic social institution. Our family law is based on the policy that marriage is not a mere contract, but a social institution in which the state is vitally interested. The state can find no stronger anchor than on good, solid and happy families. The break-up of families weakens our social and moral fabric and hence, their preservation is not the concern alone of the family members (Tuason vs. Court of Appeals, 256 SCRA, 158 ).
Last edited by Sam Miguel; 06-26-2013 at 01:38 PM.
Divorce could be one of the major battles in the 16th Congress, with the early refiling of a bill that opposes it and the declaration by its advocates that they will press its adoption in the Philippines.
Marikina Rep. Marcelino Teodoro has refiled his “antidivorce and unlawful dissolution of marriage” bill, which he says is intended to protect marriage as an inviolable social institution and of the family as the foundation of the nation.
In the 15th Congress, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. made a pitch for the divorce bill, and said he wanted it taken up in the succeeding Congress.
But Belmonte also said the proposal would not be a priority of the House of Representatives.
Gabriela, a women’s party-list group, is intent on pursuing the passage of the bill in the 16th Congress and is planning to file a new version of the measure.
The Philippines and the Vatican are the last two states that prohibit divorce.
In his explanatory note to his bill, Teodoro says there have been efforts to introduce divorce in the Philippines so that couples in failed marriages can have another chance to remarry, in addition to getting an annulment of marriage or a declaration of nullity.
Teodoro says he believes the proposal poses a danger to the institution of marriage.
“Despite its apparent worthy objective, it still undermines the value of marriage by encouraging couples to put an end to their [union] instead of allowing them to reconcile immediately or fix the [problems] over time,” he says.
Teodoro’s bill seeks to make divorce “unacceptable” in the Philippine legal system, and only legal separation, which allows spouses to live independently of each other but not remarry, would be allowed.
It states that divorce obtained by a Filipino citizen abroad is not valid in the Philippines.
The bill also proposes to prohibit knowingly committing acts at the time of marriage or prior to it that would give grounds for legal separation or the annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage. These would include the failure to get a marriage license, or using an officer who has no marriage authority.
The bill seeks to penalize connivance to obtain an annulment or a legal separation, as well as the issuance of a decree of legal separation without the court taking steps to get the couple to reconcile, and without determining beforehand that reconciliation would be highly improbable.
Access to remedies
In an earlier push for divorce, Gabriela noted that for some women, the inequalities and violence in their marriage negate the ideal that it is the embodiment of love, care and safety, and erode the values on which marriage is founded.
Given those realities, Gabriela said couples must have the option of having access to remedies that would allow them to attain their full human development and self-fulfillment as well as protect their human rights.
Divorce could protect battered women and their children from further violence and abuse, Gabriela said.
The group added that with the predominance of the Catholic faith in the country, the fear that divorce would erode personal values pertaining to marriage appeared to be unfounded.
The divorce bill could prove to be another contentious issue between Congress and the Catholic Church.
Earlier, Church officials railed against the enactment of the reproductive health bill, which mandates the government to, among other things, provide public access to contraceptives and family planning programs.
Equality in family
Another newly filed bill in the House seeks to ensure that women and men are treated equally in the family, by amending the Family Code’s provisions that support the “outmoded presumption” that men’s decisions are superior to those of women.
The bill, filed by Bukidnon Rep. Lourdes Acosta Alba, wants to amend the Family Code provision that gives primacy to the consent of the father when it comes to allowing children between the ages of 18 and 21 to get married. The bill would give the mother’s consent equal weight as the father’s.
Alba’s bill also proposes to change the provision on the spouses’ joint administration and enjoyment of community property by removing the part that states that in case there is a disagreement, the husband’s decision will prevail.
The bill also seeks to remove a similar provision concerning conjugal partnership property.
Alba’s bill also seeks to amend the Family Code’s provisions on the parents’ joint exercise of parental authority over their children, and on the joint exercise of legal guardianship over the property of unemancipated common children.
It proposes to remove the phrase contained in both provisions stating that the father’s decision will prevail in case of a disagreement between the spouses.
In pushing for the measure, Alba pointed out that the Constitution guaranteed the principle of equality between women and men.
“But ironically, some of our current laws continue operating under the outmoded presumption of the superiority of men’s decisions over those of women’s,” Alba said in her explanatory note.
^^^ They should also remove the provision in the Family Code that says that children seven years old or younger are "deemed to have chosen the mother" as the general rule when granting custody of children to separated spouses. They should make this equal opportunity and ultimately let the child decide to which parent he / she would have custody over him / her.
The battle lines are being drawn in Congress. That’s between Church and State, and that’s over divorce.
The State is being championed by Sonny Belmonte and the Church by Rep. Marcelino Teodoro of Marikina. The Speaker is all for divorce and wants it taken up by the current Congress, though saying it won’t be a priority. Teodoro finds it an abomination and has re-filed a bill seeking to block it. His bill, he says, will fight the “unlawful dissolution of marriage,” and protect the family as the inviolable foundation of the nation.
Well, if divorce is going to pass, now is the best time for it. RH showed how the stranglehold of the Church on Philippine life, or Philippine electoral politics, has greatly waned. Gone are the days when it could threaten politicians with hellfire, or its secular equivalent which is losing in the elections. The Church’s condemnation of those who voted for RH hardly produced a ripple, other than as sideshow entertainment, such as when a church in Bacolod put up a sign in front of its yard separating the saved from the doomed. There’s a better chance this time of debating the thing without this extraneous element, or pretty much on its merits.
Which augurs well for it. The opposition to it is not based on moral grounds, it is based on hypocritical ones. Let me count the ways:
One, the sole justification for proscribing divorce is St. Luke’s account of Jesus Christ saying, “What God has put together, let no man put asunder.” That may be true, but why should you construe every marriage as something God put together?
Look at the reasons why many Filipinos marry: Variously because the woman is “damaged goods,” nagalaw na; because that’s what their parents want; because with the Church proscription against premarital sex that is the only way the magkasintahan can exchange affections physically—and ask yourself if God had anything to do with it. The last is particularly benighted and is probably the biggest cause of failed marriages in this country. Marrying for sex is an almost surefire guarantee for failure. One or the other of the couples soon discovers that sex is overrated, or discovers it is so underrated they want to have more of it elsewhere (the husband in particular, the wife is banned from it on pain of stoning, or its modern equivalent).
Why drag God into that arrangement? As we say in Filipino, “Dinamay pa ang Diyos sa kanyang kalokohan.”
Two, except for the Vatican, a city of less than a thousand souls, we’re the only country that bans divorce. Is it possible Italy itself, the one country known for its fetish with family it even calls the Mafia so, can be so unprotective or dismissive of the very foundation of its life? Is it possible most of the 7 billion souls in the world today are condemned to go to hell for abiding so reprehensible a thing as divorce? It’s enough to overpopulate Dante’s favorite place. Well, maybe it’s a good strategy to get Beelzebub to rethink his policy of letting loose temptation upon the earth to ease up on the massive exodus to his dominion.
Three, the Church finds divorce anathema but annulment not so. In fact, annulment is the alternative to divorce which is available only to the rich. It takes time, effort and money. What is annulment? It is the act of dissolving a marriage by proclaiming that the marriage never really took place because: the marriage was infirm, there was really no consent on the part of one or both of the parties; there was no consummation, one or both are impotent physically or psychologically; the husband was an a–hole and/or wife-beater from the start, etc. etc.
An annulment may not, repeat not, argue that there was love there at the start but which soured and died. There must not have been any affection at all at any time. What is that but a bunch of lies? What is that but institutionalized lying? What is that but hypocrisy?
Four, we are a country that bans divorce but accepts concubinage, which is just a fancy term for kabit. A term that not quite incidentally shows gender bias: A man has a kabit, he is guilty of concubinage, which is officially punishable by a fine and unofficially rewardable by the envy of peers. A woman has a kabit, she is guilty of adultery, which is officially punishable by jail, and unofficially so by having her kabit’s sexual organ pistol-whipped by her irate estranged husband who keeps an entire harem himself. You know the guy, he boasted about it.
I’m almost tempted to say, I’ll agree to ban divorce if you agree to jail people who keep, indeed flout, their kabit. But that will keep Erap in prison for longer than 10 lifetimes.
Finally, divorce in fact is respectful of marriage in that it recognizes it enough to initiate a legal process to dissolve it. Opposing divorce is the best thing to discourage marriage, a thing the kids in particular are already shunning. Why bother getting married at all? Why get into a fix you can’t get out of? “Sapagkat tayo ay tao lamang,” Pilita Corrales’ song goes, except that you can’t cite that excuse in the courts.
In the end, that’s what makes the opposition to divorce silly even from its own perspective. It is counterproductive, it achieves the opposite of what it sets out to do, which is to defend the family as the foundation of this society. Of course who says you can’t have a family, and probably a more loving one, without marriage? The virtues of marriage more than those of sex have certainly been more convincingly argued to be overrated. The groups opposing divorce should drive it home even more convincingly, by showing the quality of mind they draw into their ranks.
Maybe they’re contributing something positive, if quite unwittingly, to life after all.
Posted on 09/24/2013 10:30 AM | Updated 09/24/2013 12:00 PM
MANILA, Philippines – Under Philippine law, a woman may be accused of adultery or having sexual relations with a man that is not her husband. Adultery may be substantiated with the presentation of circumstantial evidence. However, under the same law, a man may only be accused of concubinage.
The difference? There are three and they are not limited to what happens in between the sheets.
Concubinage requires evidence to prove that a man is having sex with a woman who is not his wife under scandalous circumstances, that he is keeping the woman [with whom he is carrying on sexual relationship with] in the conjugal home or that he is cohabiting with her in another dwelling.
Concubinage requires proof while adultery may be premised on circumstance.
The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the government agency tasked with championing gender equality, has included the amendment of the Infidelity Law in the Women’s Priority Legislative Agenda for the 16th Congress. The PCW is also calling for the amendment or repeal of other specific provisions of the Revised Penal Code and Family Code , an amendment to the Anti-Rape Law and Anti-Sexual Harassment Law and the enactment of the Magna Carta of Workers in the Informal Economy
“Certain laws really need to be amended, either they are updated to reflect the issues of the current times or they should be repealed altogether,” said Anette Baleda, PCW Chief of the Policy Development and Advocacy Division.
Archaic and outdated
The Infidelity Law is based on the Revised Penal Code issued in 1930.
The Revised Penal Code superseded the Spanish Legal Code, which was in place from 1886-1930.
“The rationale for this [infidelity] law was to protect the lineage of the family. Women who have sexual relations with a man who is not her husband may get pregnant and bring in foreign blood to the family,” said Baleda.
“This really needs updating because in this day and age, there are modern ways of proving paternity. Also, apart from the varying definitions of infidelity, the degree of punishment also discriminate against women,” added Baleda.
Under the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for women who commit adultery ranges from 2 years, 4 months and 1 day to a maximum of 6 years. The penalty for men who commit concubinage ranges from 6 months and 1 day to a maximum of 4 years and 2 months.
A policy note issued by the PCW proposes addressing the inequalities in this law while still protecting the institution of marriage by not distinguishing between the infidelity of a man from the infidelity of a woman, imposing the same penalties for offending parties, and barring an offended party from instituting a criminal prosecution if he or she is also guilty of committing infidelity.
But a women’s rights NGO has a different view and is calling for the complete repeal on the penal provision on adultery.
“Equalizing the penalty for marital infidelity does not promote equality of women. The provision on adultery infringes on one's right to sexuality. Moreover, in reality, the batterer-husbands are the ones who file such adultery cases to harass their wives,” said Clara Padilla, executive director of EnGendeRights.
Other similar provisions in the Revised Penal Code included in the Women’s Legislative Agenda that the PCW says discriminate against women is Article 247 on Death or Physical Injuries Inflicted Under Exceptional Circumstances.
Article 247 states that if any legally married spouse who unexpectedly catches his or her spouse having sex with another and shall kill or seriously harm one or both of them shall face the penalty of destierro, which prohibits the convicted person from entering court‐designated places or a specified radius of those places.
Article 247 also makes a direct reference daughters under 18: “These rules shall be applicable, under the same circumstances, to parents with respect to their daughters under eighteen years of age, and their seducer, while the daughters are living with their parents.”
“Our recommendation is to have this provision repealed all together. The provision on daughters discriminate against women and killing is killing; people should not be allowed to take the law into their own hands,” explained Baleda.
Another provision, Article 351 on Pre-Mature Marriage prohibits women to re-marry within 301 days from the death of her husband or prior to delivery if she was pregnant at the time of his death.
“The period 301 days is roughly equivalent to the nine months of pregnancy and is again linked with protecting the lineage of the family. With the modern scientific ways we now have to prove paternity, we are recommending that this provision be repealed,” said Baleda.
Why is it taking so long?
There have been a number of laws and international agreements the Philippines has entered into promising equality and the to promotion the rights of women.
The Magna Carta of Women, which was passed in 1999 provides for the amendment or repeal of laws that are discriminatory to women, as does the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development (PPGD).
So why is it taking so long to have these laws amended or repealed?
“Unang – una na lang, tignan natin ang hystorical composisyon ng Congress, karamihan mga lalaki. Sinasabi nga natin ng macho ang Congresso,” said Rhoda Avila, secretary-general of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP). “Pangalawa, kahit na babae ang Congressista, hindi ibi sabibin pro-women ang pananaw nya sa mga batas.” [First of all, we have to look at the historical composition of Congress; they are mostly men. We say that we have a macho Congress. Secondly, even if we have female legislators, it doesn’t mean that they are automatically pro-women.”]
DSWP is a nationwide grassroots organization that has been lobbying for policies that will women’s empowerment, women’s sexual reproductive health rights, among others.
Kung titingin mo nga, kapag ang panukalang batas ay dudulot ng kabutihan sa sambayanan, lalong lalo na sa mga kababakihan, napakahirap ito ipasa. Hindi ito ang nagiging priority ng Congresso, said Avila citing the experience of policy activists in pushing for pro-women legislation. “The amendments in the Anti-Rape Law took 10 years, the VAWC (violence against women and their children) Law, 10 years din. Ang RH Law, 14 years na kasalukuyang pa din nakabinbin sa Courte Suprema.”
But the PCW remains positive that the Women’s Legislative Agenda will be given priority in the 16th Congress.
“The PCW is optimistic that the proposed measures will be passed in the 16th Congress, especially now that the House of Representatives has 79 women legislators and the Senate with six women senators, the highest in the history of Philippine politics,” said in a released statement. – Rappler.com
SEOUL, South Korea—South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a controversial adultery law which for more than 60 years had criminalized extra-marital sex and jailed violators for up to two years.
The nine-member bench ruled by seven to two that the 1953 statute aimed at protecting traditional family values was unconstitutional.
“Even if adultery should be condemned as immoral, state power should not intervene in individuals’ private lives,” said presiding justice Park Han-Chul.
It was the fifth time the apex court had considered the constitutional legality of the legislation which had made South Korea one of the few non-Muslim countries to regard marital infidelity as a criminal act.
In the past six years, close to 5,500 people have been formerly arraigned on adultery charges — including nearly 900 in 2014.
But the numbers had been falling, with cases that ended in prison terms increasingly rare.
Whereas 216 people were jailed under the law in 2004, that figure had dropped to 42 by 2008, and since then only 22 have found themselves behind bars, according to figures from the state prosecution office.
The downward trend was partly a reflection of changing societal trends in a country where rapid modernization has frequently clashed with traditionally conservative norms.
Public views ‘have changed’
“Public conceptions of individuals’ rights in their sexual lives have undergone changes,” Park said, as he delivered the court’s decision.
Under the 1953 law, adultery could only be prosecuted on complaint from an injured party, and any case was closed immediately if the plaintiff dropped the charge — a common occurrence that often involved a financial settlement.
The law was grounded in a belief that adultery challenged the social order and damaged families, but critics insisted it was outdated and represented state overreach into people’s private lives.
The debate over its future had simmered away for years, bubbling over from time to time especially if a public figure fell foul of the statute.
Such was the case in 2008 when one of the country’s best-known actresses, Ok So-Ri, was given an eight-month suspended sentence for having an adulterous affair.
At that time, Ok unsuccessfully petitioned the Constitutional Court, arguing that the law amounted to a violation of her human rights in the name of revenge.
The court had previously deliberated the issue in 1990, 1993 and 2001, but those moves to strike down the law had failed to gain the support of the six judges required.
Ok’s 2008 petition had come close with five judges deeming the statute unconstitutional.
Improving gender equality
The law was originally designed to protect the rights of women at a time when marriage afforded them few legal rights, with most having no independent income and divorce carrying enormous social stigma.
But even socially conservative civic groups who had supported the legislation in the past acknowledged that times had changed.
“Adultery must be censured morally and socially, but such a law is inappropriate in a modern society,” said Ko Seon-Ju, an activist with the Seoul-based civic group Healthy Families.
“It used to be an effective legal tool to protect female rights, but equal rights legislation has improved,” Ko said.
“Adultery is an issue that should be dealt with through dialogue between the partners, not by law,” she added.
While the adultery law may have been ruled out of existence, social disapproval of marital infidelity remains potent.
In April last year, South Korea blocked the newly launched Korean version of the global adultery hook-up site Ashley Madison, saying it threatened family values.
SC relaxes rules on psychological incapacity as ground to annul marriages
5:20 PM | Monday, March 9th, 2015
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has taken a liberal stand in allowing the annulment of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity as it reversed itself and nullified the marriage of two individuals saying a strict implementation of the rules would allow diagnosed sociopaths, schizophrenics, narcissists and the like to stay married.
In a 25-page decision, the high court’s Special First Division through Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin reversed its September 2011 ruling “after taking a second hard look” at the facts of the case.
In the September 2011 ruling, the high court upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision in upholding the marriage of the two private individuals.
The high court said the lower court failed to make factual findings, which can serve as legal bases for concluding that one of parties is suffering from psychological incapacity.
But in its recent ruling, the high court said Article 36 of the Family Code should not be so strictly and too literally be applied.
Article 36 provides that “a marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.”
The high court, in 1997 has set specific guidelines before a marriage can be nullified on the ground of psychological incapacity. Some of the guidelines include: the root cause of the psychological incapacity must be medically or clinically identified, alleged in the complaint, sufficiently proven by experts, must be proven to be existing at “the time of the celebration” of the marriage, clinically or medically incurable, among others.
“The foregoing guidelines have turned out to be rigid, such that their application to every instance practically condemned the petitions for declaration of nullity to the fate of certain rejection,” the high court said in its recent ruling.
“Instead, every court should approach the issue of nullity “not on the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations, but according to its own facts” in recognition of the verity that no case would be on ‘all fours’ with the next one in the field of psychological incapacity as a ground for the nullity of marriage; hence, every “trial judge must take pains in examining the factual,” the high court said.
In this case, the high court granted the motion for reconsideration filed by the husband against the wife who loves to play mahjong and frequents the beauty parlor, displaying narcissistic behavior.
Aside from medical experts, the high court also gave credence to the testimony of Fr. Gerard Healy S.J., a canon law expert and a consultant of the Family Code Revision Committee who testified that the wife’s duties to her husband and children had become secondary to her beauty, being a former model, her going-out, going to beauty parlor and mahjong.
The high court added that taking her children with her while playing mahjong is exposing them to a culture of gambling, which was “a very grave and serious act of subordinating their needs for parenting to the gratification of her own personal and escapist desires.”
In relaxing the rules in determining psychological incapacity for nullification of marriages, the high court said they are “not demolishing the foundation of families but is actually protecting the sanctity of marriage, because it refuses to allow a person afflicted with a psychological disorder, who cannot comply with or assume the essential marital obligations from remaining in that sacred bond.”
The high court added that the courts may be flooded by petitions for nullity of marriage but there is no reason to be worried because of ample safeguards such as intervention of the government.
“The court should rather be alarmed by the rising number of cases involving marital abuse, child abuse, domestic violence and incestuous rape,” the high court added.