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Monday, January 22, 2007

The Promise of Annulment

“Ganun ba talaga yun? Inabandona ka na nga. Ni hindi mo alam kung nasaan sya ngayon. Tapos patuloy ka pa ring itinatali ng batas sa inyong pag-aasawa?”

Or words to that effect.

This was Boy Abunda’s and Cristy Fermin’s lament while interviewing Amy Perez in their talk show’s segment where Perez and her new-found boyfriend publicly ann
ounced their undying devotion to each other and her subsequent “planned” pregnancy. It was a show of love defying all odds, a call for sympathy for a woman unjustly denied of her right to a more meaningful and blissful future.

And who among the viewers would dare disagree with such cry for fairness and justice? In a world where multitudes of marriages have already been officially declared null, why not this one? Isn’t such sweet Princess entitled to find her Prince Charming somewhere, albeit belatedly and after a failed first shot?

Yes, bleeding hearts we could all be, suckers as we are to the melodramatic. But one thing is always left out during discussions of this issue – that the law did not discriminate Perez.

Let’s set the basic parameter in the discussion of the Brix-Amy drama: they both knew what they were getting into when they made their vows and signed that document now condescendingly tagged as a mere “piece of paper”. They knew the law (there is a seminar for all would-be couples) and its effects.

As the Court put it, “to be sure, the couple’s relationship before the marriage and even during their brief union (for well about a year or so) was not all bad. During that relatively short period of time, petitioner was happy and contented with her life in the company of respondent. In fact, by petitioner’s own reckoning, respondent was a responsible and loving husband.”

So what went wrong?

In her petition with the Court, Amy claimed “psychological incapacity” on the part of Brix, citing an alleged mixed personality disorder, a “leaving-the-house” attitude whenever they quarreled, violent tendencies during epileptic attacks, sexual infidelity, abandonment and lack of support, and his preference to spend more time with his band mates than his family.

All sounded valid, right? But then again, what the law requires are manifestations of psychological incapacity, and such is not akin to “irreconcilable differences” which is usually the catch-all reason for US divorces.

The Supreme Court in many previous instances, has realized that this window provided by the law has been abused by lawyers and couples alike that a strict definition has been set.

In Ma. Armida Perez-Ferraris Vs. Brix Ferraris, (G.R. No. 162368), the Supreme Court reiterated that:

The term “psychological incapacity” to be a ground for the nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonia
l bond one is about to assume. As all people may have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies, or isolated characteristics associated with certain personality disorders, there is hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of “psychological incapacity” to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.” (emphasis mine)

“Indeed, the evidence on record did not convincingly establish that respondent was suffering from psychological incapacity. There is absolutely no showing that his “defects” were already present at the inception of the marriage, or that those are incurable.”

“Quite apart from being plainly self-serving, petitioner’s evidence showed that respondent’s alleged failure to perform his so-called marital obligations was not at all a manifestation of some deep-seated, grave, permanent and incurable psychological malady.”

From my humble point of view, the decision is in all fours with the law and those who object to it should at least read it first.

Indeed, it is unfortunate that there are couples who have to endure the ties of a marriage gone sour. But is it not true that our old folks have always warned us that marriage is “hindi parang kaning isusubo na iluluwa pag napaso”? This has always been the case, so why are couples hoping that the contrary can easily occur, just in case?

Blame it on showbiz, as it has shown Filipinos how easy it is to dissolve marriages. Actors and actresses have become everyone’s envy as they get into marital rigodons like they were simply playing musical chairs. It is just but proper for the Court to put its foot down and put things into their proper perspective.

Lessons? Don’t jump into marriage with very little expectation of the worst. If you get burned, live with it. Or better yet, if you’re afraid to get burned, for gods’ sakes, don’t join the bandwagon.

Further suggestion to our lawmakers: parties declared psychologically incapacitated should not be allowed to re-marry. Not being cognizant of the true nature of a previous marriage makes him similarly incapacitated to contract another. Or, let’s require a psychological clearance before any subsequent marriage for these persons, such that if the latter fails, no dissolution of the marital union shall be allowed.

One final note: Amy, for all intents and purposes, is still very much married to Brix. With her public admission of her new relationship now “blessed” with a child in her womb, doesn’t that make her a self-confessed adulteress?

Paging Brix.. He he.


Anonymous said...

whoah... spoken like a true lawyer who will do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court... my comment... Correct! may tama ka! (may sense ba?)

aryo said...

True lawyer ka dyan. Kailangan pa po natin pumasa, kaya lahat ng sabihin natin ngayon puro pa "humble" opinion.

Anonymous said...

Pasado ka nya'n pray ka lang nothing is impossible with GOD.