G.R. No. 97336, 19 February 1993
Private respondent, Marilou Gonzales, filed a complaint dated October 27, 1987 for damages against the petitioner for the alleged breach of their agreement to get married. She met the petitioner in Dagupan where the latter was an Iranian medical exchange student who later courted her and proposed marriage. The petitioner even went to Marilou’s house to secure approval of her parents. The petitioner then forced the respondent to leave with him in his apartment. Marilou was a virgin before she lived with him. After a week, she filed a complaint because the petitioner started maltreating and threatening her. He even tied the respondent in the apartment while he was in school and drugged her. Marilou at one time became pregnant but the petitioner administered a drug to abort the baby.
Petitioner repudiated the marriage agreement and told Marilou to not live with him since he is already married to someone in Bacolod. He claimed that he never proposed marriage or agreed to be married neither sought consent nor approval of Marliou’s parents. He claimed that he asked Marilou to stay out of his apartment since the latter deceived him by stealing money and his passport. The private respondent prayed for damages and reimbursements of actual expenses.
Whether or not breach of promise to marry can give rise to cause for damages.
Yes. Though, the existing rule is that breach of promise to marry per se is not an actionable wrong. The court held that when a man uses his promise of marriage to deceive a woman to consent to his malicious desires, he commits fraud and willfully injures the woman. In that instance, the court found that petitioner’s deceptive promise to marry led Marilou to surrender her virtue and womanhood.
But the Code Commission had gone farther than the sphere of wrongs defined or determined by positive law. Fully sensible that there are countless gaps in the statutes, which leave so many victims of moral wrongs helpless, even though they have actually suffered material and moral injury, the Commission has deemed it necessary, in the interest of justice, to incorporate in the proposed Civil Code the following rule:
Art. 23. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.
Moral damages can be claimed when such promise to marry was a deceptive ploy to have carnal knowledge with the woman and actual damages should be paid for the wedding preparation expenses. Petitioner even committed deplorable acts in disregard of the laws of the country. Therefore, SC set aside the decision of CA awarding damages to the respondent.
* Case digest by Prince Dave C. Santiago, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018