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Agnes Padrique Georfo Vs. Republic of the Philippines and Joe-Ar Jabian Georfo

Agnes, the petitioner, and Joe-Ar, the respondent, met at a restaurant in Bacolod City. Their relationship immediately developed. 

Shortly after they met, Agnes, who was just 18 at the time, was asked by her mother to go to her brother’s house and live there. Joe-Ar, who was 21 at the time, went with her. Her brother’s house was small, so Agnes and Joe-Ar had to share a bedroom. Because

of this, Agnes’ family assumed that they had intimate relations and urged them to get married, which they did. After they got married, they had a child. At this point, they were living with Joe-Ar’s in laws, to which Agnes objected to as she does not like her in-laws. True enough, they did not treat her well.

As their marriage developed, their relationship grew sour; Joe-Ar had a bad temper and would physically assault Agnes. Agnes moved to Cebu to escape from the abuse and to work. When she moved, she found out that Joe-Ar fooled around with different women and even had a child with one of them. Joe-Ar also failed to support their son. Hence, she filed a case for nullity of marriage under Article 36.

RTC granted the petition, stating that Joe-Ar’s personality disorder, as established by the psychological report, was the cause of his incapacity to comply with marital obligations.

OSG filed an MR then appealed to the CA, questioning the reliance of the RTC on the psychological report, and that it was biased since only Agnes and her sister were interviewed without any independent witnesses.

CA reversed the RTC, stating that the psych, the report, and the testimony of the psychologist cannot be given credence as he was not able to interview Joe-Ar.

On juridical antecedence

Juridical antecedence is established by showing that the psychological incapacity exists at the time of the celebration, even if it only manifests during the marriage.

There must be a TESTIMONY to describe the environment where the supposedly incapacitated spouse lived that may have led to a particular behavior. The petitioner must show that the incapacity “IN ALL REASONABLE LIKELIHOOD” already existed at the time the marriage was celebrated.

NOTE: Here, although not discussed, I think this was established by the testimony of Agnes who lived with Joe-Ar and his family as well as the psychologist. The SC said, the psychological report observed that Joe-Ar’s family background and environment nurtured and led to this type of personality.

Who should the psychologist interview?

The personal examination of the psychologically incapacitated spouse is not indispensable in establishing Art. 36 cases. It is enough that the totality of evidence establishes the psychological incapacity of one or both spouses. It is an accepted practice in psychiatry to base a person’s psychiatric history on collateral information, or information from sources aside from the person evaluated.

Here, the persons who testified were Agnes, her sister, and the psychiatrist. These were deemed sufficient by the SC.

SC said: it is only reasonable that a psychological report is based on the testimony of the petitioning spouse since she is the one who had closely observed and interacted with her partner. However, SC also clarified that evidence should also come from other sources.

Here, Dr. Gerong’s psychological assessment is not only based on the petitioner, but also on another source: petitioner’s sister.

Thus, psychological assessments based on testimonies of the petitioner and her sister may be given credence, unless there are reasons to believe that the testimonies are fabricated to favor the petitioner. As long as the totality of the evidence establishes the private respondent’s psychological incapacity, the dissolution of the marriage is warranted.

The SC considered all of the evidence adduced as sufficient to show the psychological incapacity of Joe-Ar, hence the marriage was dissolved.

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