Donato v. Luna

GR No. 53642, 15 April 1988

FACTS:

Information for bigamy against petitioner Leonilo Donato was filed on January 23, 1979 with the lower court in Manila. This was based on the complaint of private respondent Paz Abayan. Before the petitioner’s arraignment on September 28, 1979, Paz filed with Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Manila, a civil action for declaration of nullity of her marriage with petitioner contracted on September 26, 1978. Said civil case was based on the ground that Paz consented to entering into the marriage which was Donato’s second since she had no previous knowledge that Donato was already married to a certain Rosalinda Maluping on June 30, 1978. Donato defense that his second marriage was void since it was solemnized without a marriage license and that force, violence, intimidation and undue influence were employed by private respondent to obtain petitioner’s consent to the marriage. Prior to the solemnization of the second marriage, Paz and Donato had lived together as husband and wife without the benefit of wedlock for 5 years proven by a joint affidavit executed by them on September 26, 1978 for which reason, the requisite marriage license was dispensed with pursuant to Article 76 of the Civil Code. Donato continued to live with Paz until November 1978 where Paz left their home upon learning that Donato already previously married.

ISSUE:

Whether or not a criminal case for bigamy pending before the lower court be suspended in view of a civil case for annulment of marriage pending before the juvenile and domestic relations court on the ground that latter constitutes a prejudicial question.

RULING:

Petitioner Leonilo Donato can’t apply rule on prejudicial question. The court ruled that a prejudicial question can only be raised on the following elements (a) the previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed. A case for annulment of marriage can only be considered as a prejudicial question to the bigamy case against the accused if it was proved that petitioners consent to such marriage and was obtained by means of duress violence and intimidation to show that his act in the second marriage must be involuntary and cannot be the basis of his conviction for the crime of bigamy.

Accordingly, there being no prejudicial question shown to exit the order of denial issued by the respondent judge dated April 14, 1980 should be sustained. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. We make no pronouncement as to costs.

* Case digest by Lea A. Caipang, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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