Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tenchavez v Escano (1965)

Tenchavez v Escano (1965)

 Pastor Tenchavez), 32, married Vicenta Escano, 27, on Feb. 24, 1948, in Cebu City. As of June 1948, the newly-weds were already estranged. On June 24, 1950, Escano left for the US. On Agugust 22, 1950, she filed a verified complaint for divorce against the plaintiff in the State of Nevada on the ground of "extreme cruelty, entirely mental in character."
On October 21, 1950, a decree of divorce was issued by the Nevada Court. On September 13, 1954, Escano married an American Russel Leo Moran in Nevada. She now lives with him in California and by him, has begotten children. She acquired American citizenship on August 8, 1958. On July 30, 1955, Tenchavez filed a complaint for legal separation and damages against VE and her parents in the CFI-Cebu.
Tenchavez poses the novel theory that Mamerto and Mina Escaño are undeserving of an award for damages because they are guilty of contributory negligence in failing to take up proper and timely measures to dissuade their daughter Vicenta from leaving her husband Tenchavez obtaining a foreign divorce and marrying another man (Moran). This theory cannot be considered: first, because this was not raised in the court below; second, there is no evidence to support it; third, it contradicts plaintiff's previous theory of alienation of affections in that contributory negligence involves an omission to perform an act while alienation of affection involves the performance of a positive act.

1. WON at the the time Escano was still a Filipino citizen when the divorce decree was issued.
2. WON the award of moral damages against Escaño may be given to Tenchavez on the grounds of her refusal to perform her wifely duties, her denial of consortium, and desertion of her husband.

1. YES
 At the time the divorce decree was issued, Escano like her husband, was still a Filipino citizen. She was then subject to Philippine law under Art. 15 of the NCC. Philippine law, under the NCC then now in force, does not admit absolute divorce but only provides for legal separation.
For Phil. courts to recognize foreign divorce decrees bet. Filipino citizens would be a patent violation of the declared policy of the State, especially in view of the 3rd par. of Art. 17, NCC. Moreover, recognition would give rise to scandalous discrimination in favor of wealthy citizens to the detriment of those members of our society whose means do not permit them to sojourn abroad and obtain absolute divorce outside the Phils.
Therefore, a foreign divorce bet. Filipino citizens, sought and decreed after the effectivity of the NCC, is not entitled to recognition as valid in this jurisdiction.
2. YES
The acts of Vicenta (up to and including her divorce, for grounds not countenanced by our law, which was hers at the time) constitute a wilful infliction of injury upon plaintiff's feelings in a manner "contrary to morals, good customs or public policy" (Civ. Code, Art. 21) for which Article 2219 (10) authorizes an award of moral damages.
It is also argued that, by the award of moral damages, an additional effect of legal separation has been added to Article 106. It was plain in the decision that the damages attached to her wrongful acts under the codal article (Article 2176) expressly cited.
But economic sanctions are not held in our law to be incompatible with the respect accorded to individual liberty in civil cases. Thus, a consort who unjustifiably deserts the conjugal abode can be denied support (Art. 178, Civil Code of the Phil.). And where the wealth of the deserting spouse renders this remedy illusory, there is no cogent reason why the court may not award damage as it may in cases of breach of other obligations to do intuitu personae even if in private relations physical coercion be barred under the old maxim "Nemo potest precise cogi and factum".

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