G.R No. 80116, 30 June 1989
Imelda M. Pilapil, a Filipino citizen, was married with private respondent, Erich Ekkehard Geiling, a German national before the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths at Friedensweiler, Federal Republic of Germany. They have a child who was born on April 20, 1980 and named Isabella Pilapil Geiling. Conjugal disharmony eventuated in private respondent and he initiated a divorce proceeding against petitioner in Germany before the Schoneberg Local Court in January 1983. The petitioner then filed an action for legal separation, support and separation of property before the RTC Manila on January 23, 1983.
The decree of divorce was promulgated on January 15, 1986 on the ground of failure of marriage of the spouses. The custody of the child was granted to the petitioner.
On June 27, 1986, private respondent filed 2 complaints for adultery before the City Fiscal of Manila alleging that while still married to Imelda, latter “had an affair with William Chia as early as 1982 and another man named Jesus Chua sometime in 1983”.
Whether private respondent can prosecute petitioner on the ground of adultery even though they are no longer husband and wife as decree of divorce was already issued.
No. The law specifically provided that in prosecution for adultery and concubinage, the person who can legally file the complaint should be the offended spouse and nobody else. While the State, as parens patriae, was added and vested by the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure with the power to initiate the criminal action for a deceased or incapacitated victim in the aforesaid offenses of seduction, abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness, in default of her parents, grandparents or guardian, such amendment did not include the crimes of adultery and concubinage. In other words, only the offended spouse, and no other, is authorized by law to initiate the action therefor.
Pursuant to Article 26 of the Family Code, where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (As amended by Executive Order 227)
Though in this case, it appeared that private respondent is the offended spouse, the latter obtained a valid divorce in his country and said divorce and its legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines in so far as he is concerned. Thus, under the same consideration and rationale, private respondent is no longer the husband of petitioner and has no legal standing to commence the adultery case under the imposture that he was the offended spouse at the time he filed suit.
* Case digest by Immanuel Y. Granada, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018