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Contracting illegal or void marriages

Dear PAO,

What can I file against someone who deliberately contracts a void marriage to avoid prosecution for bigamy?


Dear Alfred,

Please be informed of the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Pulido vs People (G.R. No. 220149, July 27, 2021, Ponente: Honorable Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando), where it was held that:

«We cannot simply disregard the effects of a void ab initio marriage and penalize the accused for bigamy despite the clear absence of a valid prior marriage on the mere speculation that this interpretation may be subject to abuse by those parties who deliberately and consciously enter into multiple marriages knowing them to be void and thereafter, evade prosecution on the pretext of a void ab initio marriage. It must be pointed out and emphasized that these deliberate acts are already penalized under Article 350 of the RPC which reads:

»ART. 350. Marriage contracted against provisions of laws. – The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed upon any person who, without being included in the provisions of the next preceding article, shall contract marriage knowing that the requirements of the law have not been complied with or that the marriage is in disregard of a legal impediment.

«If either of the contracting parties shall obtain the consent of the other by means of violence, intimidation, or fraud, he shall be punished by the maximum period of the penalty provided, in the next preceding paragraph. (Emphasis supplied.)

»Thus, the dilemma sought to be prevented as reflected in several cases is nothing more but a mere speculation and should not be considered sufficient ground to sustain the erroneous conclusion that to allow the accused to collaterally attack a void ab initio marriage in bigamy cases would render nugatory Article 349 of the RPC. To reiterate, Article 349 of the RPC penalizes parties who contracted a valid or voidable second marriage when the first marriage, which may be valid or voidable, is still subsisting. In contrast, Article 350 of the RPC penalizes those who without being included in Article 349, contract a marriage knowing that the requirements of the law have not been