The Public Prosecutor issued a report as to the non-existence of collusion.
Aside from Article 48 of the Family Code and Rule 9, Section 3(e) of the Rules of Court, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) also requries the participation of the public prosecutor in cases involving void marriages. It specifically mandates the prosecutor to submit his investigation report to determine whether there is collusion between the parties:
Sec. 9. Investigation report of public prosecutor.–(1) Within one month after receipt of the court order mentioned in paragraph (3) of Section 8 above, the public prosecutor shall submit a report to the court stating whether the parties are in collusion and serve copies thereof on the parties and their respective counsels, if any.
(2) If the public prosecutor finds that collusion exists, he shall state the basis thereof in his report. The parties shall file their respective comments on the finding of collusion within ten days from receipt of a copy of the report. The court shall set the report for hearing and if convinced that the parties are in collusion, it shall dismiss the petition.
(3) If the public prosecutor reports that no collusion exists, the court shall set the case for pre-trial. It shall be the duty of the public prosecutor to appear for the State at the pre-trial.
Records show that the trial court immediately directed the public prosecutor to submit the required report, which we find to have been sufficiently complied with by Assistant City Prosecutor Edgardo T. Paragua in his Manifestation dated March 30, 1995, wherein he attested that there could be no collusion between the parties and no fabrication of evidence because Estrellita is not the spouse of any of the private respondents.
Furthermore, the lack of collusion is evident in the case at bar. Even assuming that there is a lack of report of collusion or a lack of participation by the public prosecutor, just as we held in Tuason v. Court of Appeals, the lack of participation of a fiscal does not invalidate the proceedings in the trial court:
The role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal in annulment of marriage and legal separation proceedings is to determine whether collusion exists between the parties and to take care that the evidence is not suppressed or fabricated. Petitioner’s vehement opposition to the annulment proceedings negates the conclusion that collusion existed between the parties. There is no allegation by the petitioner that evidence was suppressed or fabricated by any of the parties. Under these circumstances, we are convinced that the non-intervention of a prosecuting attorney to assure lack of collusion between the contending parties is not fatal to the validity of the proceedings in the trial court.