Tongol v. Tongol

G.R. No. 157610, 19 October 2007

FACTS:

Orlando G. Tongol and Filipinas M. Tongol were married on August 27, 1967. Out of their union, they begot four children, namely: Crisanto, Olivia, Frederick, and Ma. Cecilia. On May 13, 1994, Orlando and Filipinas filed a petition for dissolution of their conjugal partnership of gains, which was granted in a Judgment issued by the RTC of Makati City, Branch 143 on April 24, 1995.

On August 19, 1996, Orlando filed before the RTC of Makati City a verified petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage with Filipinas on the ground that the latter is psychologically incapacitated to comply with her essential marital obligations. Orlando alleged that Filipinas was unable to perform her duty as a wife because of Filipinas unbearable attitude that will lead to their constant quarrel. In her answer with Counter-Petition, Filipinas admitted that efforts at reconciliation have been fruitless and that their marriage is a failure. However, she claims that their marriage failed because it is Orlando`s insufficiency to fulfill his obligation as married man. Both parties underwent a psychological exam which proved that the respondent Filipinas Tongol has a psychological insufficiency.

Evidence for Orlando consisted of his own testimony, that of his sister, Angelina Tongol, and of Annaliza Guevara, an employee in the pharmaceutical company owned by the spouses Tongol. Orlando also presented Dr. Cecilia Villegas, a psychiatrist who conducted a psychological examination of both parties. Orlando submitted documents evidencing their marriage, the birth of their four children, the RTC decision granting the petition for dissolution of their conjugal partnership of gains, and the written evaluation of Dr. Villegas regarding the spouses’ psychological examination. On the other hand, record shows that evidence for Filipinas only consisted of her own testimony.

On June 30, 1999, the RTC of Makati City, Branch 149, rendered a Decision dismissing the petition on appeal, the CA affirmed, in toto, the Decision of the RTC. Hence, herein petition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the totality of the evidence presented in the present case is enough to sustain a finding that herein respondent is psychologically incapacitated to comply with her essential marital obligations.

RULING:

The Court cannot see how respondent’s personality disorder would render her unaware of the essential marital obligations, or to borrow the terms used in Santos Case, “to be truly in cognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage.” What has been established in the instant case is that, by reason of her feelings of inadequacy and rejection, respondent not only encounters a lot of difficulty but even refuses to assume some of her obligations towards her husband, such as respect, help and support for him. However, this Court has ruled that psychological incapacity must be more than just a “difficulty,” a “refusal” or”neglect” in the performance of some marital obligations.

Dr. Villegas also failed to fully and satisfactorily explain if the personality disorder of respondent is grave enough to bring about her disability to assume the essential obligations of marriage. There is no evidence that such incapacity is incurable. Neither in her written evaluation nor in her testimony did Dr. Villegas categorically and conclusively characterizes respondent’s inadequate personality disorder as permanent or incurable.

The psychological incapacity considered under Article 36 of the Family Code is not meant to comprehend all possible cases of psychoses. The fourth guideline in Molina requires that the psychological incapacity as understood under Article 36 of the Family Code must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job. In the present case, the testimonies of petitioner and respondent as well as the other witnesses regarding the spouses’ differences and misunderstanding basically revolve around and are limited to their disagreement regarding the management of their business. A mere showing of irreconcilable differences and conflicting personalities in no wise constitutes psychological incapacity. In addition, it is true that the marital obligations of a husband and wife enumerated under the Family Code include the mutual responsibility of the spouses to manage the household and provide support for the family, which means that compliance with this obligation necessarily entails the management of the income and expenses of the household. While disagreements on money matters would, no doubt, affect the other aspects of one’s marriage as to make the wedlock unsatisfactory, this is not a sufficient ground to declare a marriage null and void.

Marital obligation includes not only a spouse’s obligation to the other spouse but also one’s obligation toward their children. In the present case, no evidence was presented to show that respondent had been remiss in performing her obligations toward their children as enumerated in Article 220 of the Family Code.

* Case digest by Paula Bianca B. Eguia, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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