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Concept of Bigamy in the Philippines | Manila Legal - Philippines Largest Legal Network

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Concept Of Bigamy

What is Bigamy Under Philippine Family Law?

Elements of Bigamy

The Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, particularly, Article 349, elucidates the following elements of the crime of bigamy:

  1. A person contracts a second or subsequent marriage;
  2. A former marriage exists which has not yet been legally dissolved, or in case of an absent spouse, he or she has not yet been declared presumptively dead by a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.

It is clear from the above provision that bigamy is committed by the mere act of contracting a second marriage while a first valid marriage subsists. As implied by the Philippine Family Law, a marriage remains valid as long as there is no court judgment either annulling the same or declaring its nullity. Therefore, even if married partners have strong grounds for either annulment or the declaration of nullity of the marriage, they must still seek redress from the courts in order to sever the marriage bonds.

In the recent case of Victoria Jarillo vs. People, G.R. No. 164435, September 29, 2009, the Philippine Supreme explained the reason behind the need for a prior judicial declaration before the dissolution of the marriage by citing its ruling in the case of Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis, to wit:

x x x The reason is that, without a judicial declaration of its nullity, the first marriage is presumed to be subsisting. xxx

With this, an issue arises on whether a declaration of nullity of the two marriages–the first and the second, results to an acquittal of the spouse simultaneously charged with bigamy. The High Court explains in the above-cited case of Jarillo vs. People the solution to said issue in this wise:

The subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of petitioners two marriages to Alocillo cannot be considered a valid defense in the crime of bigamy. The moment petitioner contracted a second marriage without the previous one having been judicially declared null and void, the crime of bigamy was already consummated because at the time of the celebration of the second marriage, petitioners marriage to Alocillo, which had not yet been declared null and void by a court of competent jurisdiction, was deemed valid and subsisting. Neither would a judicial declaration of the nullity of petitioners marriage to Uy make any difference. As held in Tenebro, since a marriage contracted during the subsistence of a valid marriage is automatically void, the nullity of this second marriage is not per se an argument for the avoidance of criminal liability for bigamy.

x x x

Indeed, Philippine Family laws are strict in the requirements for the dissolution of marriages since it adheres to the view of marriage as the foundation of the family–a basic social institution.

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