Republic of the Philippines vs Lolita Quintero-Hamano

June 5, 2015
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428 SCRA 735 – Civil Law – Family Code – Article 36 – Psychological Incapacity – Irresponsibility; Abandonment

In 1986, Lolita Quintero and Toshio Hamano met in Japan. They had a love affair which resulted to a child.

In 1988, they married here in the Philippines. But only a month after their marriage, Toshio went back to Japan. He only gave financial support to Lolita for the first two months but thereafter, he stopped sending money to Lolita. Lolita wrote Toshio but he ignored those letters.

In 1991, Toshio returned to the Philippines but he never even bothered seeing his family here.

In June 1996, Lolita filed a complaint for declaration of nullity of her marriage with Toshio. She alleged that Toshio is psychologically incapacitated to assume his marital responsibilities; that his indifference to his wife and child is a clear manifestation of immaturity and insensitivity.

The trial court ruled in favor of Lolita. The Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC. In its ruling, the CA stated that the guidelines set in the case of Republic vs Court of Appeals and Molina are not applicable to this case because one of the spouse, Toshio, is an alien (Japanese). In short, the CA ruled that the said case is not applicable to mixed marriages.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Court of Appeals is correct.

HELD: No. In proving psychological incapacity, there is no distinction between an alien spouse and a Filipino spouse. The court cannot be lenient in the application of the rules merely because the spouse alleged to be psychologically incapacitated happens to be a foreign national. The medical and clinical rules to determine psychological incapacity were formulated on the basis of studies of human behavior in general. Hence, the norms used for determining psychological incapacity should apply to any person regardless of nationality.

Anent the issue of Toshio’s psychological incapacity, Lolita was not able to prove the same. The totality of evidence presented fell short of proving that Toshio was psychologically incapacitated to assume his marital responsibilities. Toshio’s act of abandonment was doubtlessly irresponsible but it was never alleged nor proven to be due to some kind of psychological illness. After Lolita testified on how Toshio abandoned his family, no other evidence was presented showing that his behavior was caused by a psychological disorder. Although, as a rule, there was no need for an actual medical examination, it would have greatly helped Lolita’s case had she presented evidence that medically or clinically identified his illness. This could have been done through an expert witness. It is not enough to prove that a spouse failed to meet his responsibility and duty as a married person; it is essential that he must be shown to be incapable of doing so due to some psychological, not physical, illness

 

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