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Persons Criminal Law 1 Digest: Manuel v. People G.R. No. 165842

Manuel v. People
G.R. No. 165842  November 29, 2005

Lesson:  Felony, Bigamy, Judicial Declaration of Presumptive Death, malice, good faith as a valid defense
·         Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea

Laws Applicable: Art. 3 par 2 RPC, Art. 349 RPC, Art. 41 FC

·         July 28, 1975: Eduardo married Rubylus Gaña before Msgr. Feliciano Santos in Makati
o    Rubylus was charged with estafa in 1975 and thereafter imprisoned
o    Eduardo only visited 3 times and never saw her again
·         January 1996: Eduardo met Tina B. Gandalera, 21 year old computer secretarial student, in Dagupan City while she looked for a friend during her 2 days stay
·         Later, Eduardo visited Tina, they went to a motel together and he proposed marriage and introduced her to his parents who assures that he is single
·         April 22, 1996: Eduardo married Tina before Judge Antonio C. Reyes, the Presiding Judge of the RTC of Baguio City and they were able to build a home after
·         1999: Eduardo only visited their home twice or thrice a year and whenever jobless Tina would ask for money, he would slap her
·         January 2001: Eduardo packed his things and left and stopped giving financial support
·         August 2001: Tina through inquiries from the National Statistics Office (NSO) in Manila and was embarrassed and humiliated to learn that Eduardo was previously married
·         Eduardo claimed that he did NOT know that he had to go to court to seek for the nullification of his first marriage before marrying Tina
·         RTC: Eduardo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy and sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from 6 years and 10 months, as minimum, to 10 years, as maximum and P200,000.00 by way of moral damages, plus costs of suit
o    Eduardo’s belief, that his first marriage had been dissolved because of his first wife’s 20-year absence, even if true, did not exculpate him from liability for bigamy
·         Eduardo appealed to the CA contending that he did so in good faith and without any malicious intent whereas under Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code, there must be malice for one to be criminally liable for a felony
·         CA: affirming the decision of the RTC stating that Article 41 of the Family Code should apply that there should have been a judicial declaration of Gaña’s presumptive death as the absent spouse and modified minimum to 2 years and four months

ISSUE: W/N Eduardo is guilty of Bigamy, a felony by dolo (deceit). 

HELD: YES. petition is DENIED. CA affirmed

·         Art. 349. Bigamy. – The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.
o    The reason why bigamy is considered a felony is to preserve and ensure the juridical tie of marriage established by law.
o    Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code has made the dissolution of marriage dependent not only upon the personal belief of parties, but upon certain objective facts easily capable of accurate judicial cognizance, namely, a judgment of the presumptive death of the absent spouse
·         For the accused to be held guilty of bigamy, the prosecution is burdened to prove the felony:
o    (a) he/she has been legally married; and      
o    (b) he/she contracts a subsequent marriage without the former marriage having been lawfully dissolved. 
§  The felony is consummated on the celebration of the second marriage or subsequent marriage
·         Article 3, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code provides that there is deceit when the act is performed with deliberate intent
o    Malice -a mental state or condition prompting the doing of an overt act WITHOUT legal excuse or justification from which another suffers injury
o    When the act or omission defined by law as a felony is proved to have been done or committed by the accused, the law presumes it to have been intentional
o    For one to be criminally liable for a felony by dolo, there must be a confluence of both an evil act and an evil intent. 
§  Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea
·         GR: mistake of fact or good faith of the accused is a valid defense in a prosecution for a felony by dolo; such defense negates malice or criminal intent.
·         EX: ignorance of the law is not an excuse because everyone is presumed to know the law.  
o    Ignorantia legis neminem excusat
·         burden of the petitioner to prove his defense that when he married he was of the well-grounded belief that his first wife was already dead, as he had not heard from her for more than 20 years since 1975
o    failed to discharge his burden since no judicial declaration as proof
·         Article 41 of the Family Code amended the rules on presumptive death on Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code which states that before the spouse present may contract a subsequent marriage, he or she must institute summary proceedings for the declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee spouse, without prejudice to the effect of the reappearance of the absentee spouse. 
·         moral damages may be awarded under Article 2219 in relation to Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code for being against public policy as they undermine and subvert the family as a social institution, good morals and the interest and general welfare of society