Zorayda and Adib, as the injured parties, have the legal personalities to file the declaration of nullity of marriage. A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, which limits to only the husband or the wife the filing of a petition for nullity is prospective in application and does not shut out the prior spouse from filing suit if the ground is a bigamous subsequent marriage.
Her marriage covered by the Family Code of the Philippines, Estrellita relies on A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which took effect on March 15, 2003 claiming that under Section 2(a) thereof, only the husband or the wife, to the exclusion of others, may file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity, therefore only she and Sen. Tamano may directly attack the validity of their own marriage.
Estrellita claims that only the husband or the wife in a void marriage can file a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. However, this interpretation does not apply if the reason behind the petition is bigamy.
In explaining why under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC only the spouses may file the petition to the exclusion of compulsory or intestate heirs, we said:
The Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, Legal Separation and Provisional Orders explicates on Section 2(a) in the following manner, viz:
(1) Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file petitions for annulment of voidable marriages and declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petitions cannot be filed by the compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. [Section 2; Section 3, paragraph a]
Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of voidable marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the State. The Committee is of the belief that they do not have a legal right to file the petition. Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the death of their predecessor, and hence can only question the validity of the marriage of the spouses upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts. On the other hand, the concern of the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its dissolution.
Note that the Rationale makes it clear that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC refers to the “aggrieved or injured spouse.” If Estrellita’s interpretation is employed, the prior spouse is unjustly precluded from filing an action. Surely, this is not what the Rule contemplated.
The subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she had only discovered during the connubial period that the marriage was bigamous, and especially if the conjugal bliss had already vanished. Should parties in a subsequent marriage benefit from the bigamous marriage, it would not be expected that they would file an action to declare the marriage void and thus, in such circumstance, the “injured spouse” who should be given a legal remedy is the one in a subsisting previous marriage. The latter is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be a reminder of the infidelity of the spouse and the disregard of the prior marriage which sanctity is protected by the Constitution.
Indeed, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC precludes the son from impugning the subsequent marriage. But in the case at bar, both Zorayda and Adib have legal personalities to file an action for nullity. Albeit the Supreme Court Resolution governs marriages celebrated under the Family Code, such is prospective in application and does not apply to cases already commenced before March 15, 2003.
Zorayda and Adib filed the case for declaration of nullity of Estrellita’s marriage in November 1994. While the Family Code is silent with respect to the proper party who can file a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage prior to A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, it has been held that in a void marriage, in which no marriage has taken place and cannot be the source of rights, any interested party may attack the marriage directly or collaterally without prescription, which may be filed even beyond the lifetime of the parties to the marriage. Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply, Adib, as one of the children of the deceased who has property rights as an heir, is likewise considered to be the real party in interest in the suit he and his mother had filed since both of them stand to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit.
Since our Philippine laws protect the marital union of a couple, they should be interpreted in a way that would preserve their respective rights which include striking down bigamous marriages. We thus find the CA Decision correctly rendered.