G.R. No. 94053, 17 March 1993
Gregorio Nolasco is a seaman. He met Janet Parker, a British, in bar in England. After that, Janet started living with Nolasco in his ship for six months. It lasted until the contract of Nolasco expired then he brought her to his hometown in Antique. They got married in January 1982. Due to another contract, Nolasco left the province. In 1983, Nolasco received a letter from his mother informing him that his son had been born but 15 days after, Janet left. Nolasco went home and cut short his contract to find Janet’s whereabouts. He did so by securing another seaman’s contract going to London. He wrote several letters to the bar where they first met but it was all returned. Gregorio petitioned in 1988 for a declaration of presumptive death of Janet.
Whether or not Nolasco had a well-founded belief that his wife, Janet, is already dead?
There are 4 requisites for the declaration of presumptive death under Article 41 of the Family Code:
1. That the absent spouse has been missing for four consecutive years, or two consecutive years if the disappearance occurred where there is danger of death under the circumstances laid down in Article 391, Civil Code;
2. That the present spouse wishes to remarry;
3. That the present spouse has a well-founded belief that the absentee is dead;
4. That the present spouse files a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee;
The Supreme Court ruled that Nolasco’s efforts to locate Janet were not persistent to show that he has a well-founded belief that his wife was already dead because instead of seeking assistance of local authorities and the British Embassy, he even secured another contract. More so, while he was in London, he did not even try to solicit help of the authorities to find his wife.
* Case digest by Lea A. Caipang, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018