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The Most Unintentionally Hilarious Couples' Legal Cases in the Philippines

As we get closer to finally passing a divorce law in the country, a look back at a few weird breakups in the annals of our legal system.
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The domestic-turned-national debacle between Commission on Elections chairman Andres "Andy" Bautista and his wife Patricia Paz "Tish" Bautista proves that there is, indeed, a thin line between love and hate. Sordid claims related to hidden wealth, sexual infidelity, and mental health issues have been made by both parties. Needless to say, Andy and Tish (who have four children) have already sued each other.

Then again, the Bautistas aren't the couple whose relationship has been dissected out in the legal battlefield. Many couples before them have gone through similar—if not worse—ordeals. The court documents of the unhappy endings of these couple's unions are publicly available and make for very interesting reading. In other words, they make being single look very, very good.

JOEL JIMENEZ vs. REMEDIOS CAÑIZARES

August 31, 1960

The Case: Joel married Remedios on August 3, 1950 before a judge of the municipal court of Zamboanga City. But he wanted their marriage annulled because he claims that her vagina was "too small to allow the penetration of a male organ or penis for copulation." He said that was the reason why he left their conjugal home just two nights and one day after they had been married. On June 7, 1955 he filed an annulment case at the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga. Remedios didn't ever appear in court and, in fact, also ignored an order to have herself examined by a lady doctor.

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Court Document Excerpt: "Although her refusal to be examined or failure to appear in court show indifference on her part, yet from such attitude the presumption arising out of the suppression of evidence could not arise or be inferred because women of this country are by nature coy, bashful and shy and would not submit to a physical examination unless compelled to by competent authority.

"This the Court may do without doing violence to and infringing in this case is not self-incrimination. She is not charged with any offense. She is not being compelled to be a witness against herself. Impotency being an abnormal condition should not be presumed. The presumption is in favor of potency. The lone testimony of the husband that his wife is physically incapable of sexual intercourse is insufficient to tear asunder the ties that have bound them together as husband and wife."

Outcome: The case was remanded to the lower court for further proceedings.

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PILAR ABAIGAR vs. DAVID D.C. PAZ

September 10, 1979

The Case: Pilar filed an administrative case for disbarment against David, a member of the Philippine Bar.

Pilar met David when sought the aid of a legal counsel regarding her divorce case filed by her husband in the Superior Court of California in Alameda County, USA. When she called the office of Congressman Ramon Bagatsing in Manila, it was David who answered.

Since David introduced himself to her as a lawyer, she believed he had the necessary legal experience. Thus, she confided her legal problems to him. In time, David "became exceedingly friendly" with her and eventually declared his love for her. This was before the invention of Tinder, so perhaps this was the way things were done 40 years ago.

Pilar said she was initially hesitant to be involved with David because he was living with a woman named Virginia Paz. However, he assured her that he and Virginia were not in love. He explained that he had been "compelled" to contract a civil marriage with her. He told Pilar that since he and Virginia were not married in Church, he was free to marry anyone he chose in Church.

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Pilar believed David, and said yes when he proposed marriage to her. Since they were going to get married anyway, he reasoned, "since they were going to get married anyway, they should act as husband and wife." Unsurprisingly, Pilar got pregnant, though she had a miscarriage.

Sometime after this, Virginia Paz met up with Pilar and told her the truth: that David and Virginia Paz were married twice—in a civil ceremony and at Church. Pilar confronted David, but he merely stayed silent. That was when she decided to file a disbarment case against him, which resulted in undeservedly poetic court records.

Court Document Excerpt: "What conclusion then can a reasonable mind draw from the given premises? Either complainant was so helplessly naive as to be beguiled by respondent's blandishments. Or, comprehending fully the legal impossibility of the fulfillment of his marriage proposals, she unconditionally laid herself prostrate to his charms, too much enamored of him to care about anything else.

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"For, as philosopher Blaise Pascal has so pithily stated of the profundity of human love, 'love has reasons that reason cannot explain.' Since complainant cannot hide behind the camouflage of innocence, considering her intellectual capacity and educational background, no other conclusion is possible except that she voluntarily submitted to sexual intimacy with respondent without entertaining any illusion or hope of sublimating the illicit relations by legal union."

Outcome: The case was dismissed. The SC noted: "From all indications, there is little room for doubt that she filed his disbarment case not in redress of a wrong, for there was no wrong committed. It was a voluntary act of indiscretion between two consenting adults who were fully aware of the consequences of their deed and for which they were responsible only to their own private consciences."

EVELYN CHUA-QUA vs. TAY TUNG HIGH SCHOOL, INC.

August 30, 1990

The Case: This is actually an illegal dismissal case. However, the circumstances surrounding it is mind-blowing, to say the least.

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Evelyn was a teacher at the Tay Tung High School in Bacolod City between 1963 to 1976. There she met the boy who would become her husband, Bobby Qua. When they met, she was 28 and he was 14. They began a relationship faster than you can say "Mary Kay Letorneau."

On December 24, 1975, Evelyn, then 30, and Bobby, then 16, got married in a civil ceremony solemnized by Hon. Cornelio G. Lazaro, City Judge of Iloilo. Since Bobby was a minor, his mother Concepcion Ong had to indicate her consent to the marriage.

On February 4, 1976, a complaint was filed with the sub-regional office of the Department of Labor at Bacolod City an application for clearance to terminate Evelyn's employment at the school. The complaint stated that she should be fired "for abusive and unethical conduct unbecoming of a dignified school teacher and that her continued employment is inimical to the best interest, and would downgrade the high moral values, of the school."

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As such Evelyn was placed under suspension without pay on March 12, 1976. She was eventually fired.

Court Document Excerpt: "Defying all standards of decency, she recklessly took advantage of her position as school teacher, lured a Grade VI boy under her advisory section and 14 years her junior into an amorous relation."

Outcome: The case went through a lot in over 10 years of legal wrangling. The National Labor Relations Commission, the Labor Department, and even Presidential Executive Assistant Jacobo C. Clave got involved.

In the end, though, Evelyn won. The SC ordered Tay Tung High School, Inc. to pay her back wages equivalent to three years (without any deduction or qualification) and separation pay in the amount of one month for every year of service.

CHI MING TSOI vs. COURT OF APPEALS (CA) and GINA LAO-TSOI

January 16, 1997

The Case: Gina—who is described in court documents as a "distraught wife"— wanted her marriage to Chi Ming annulled. Gina revealed that she and her husband never had sex since they got married in 1988. In fact, on their first night as a married couple, Gina claims that her husband simply got on the bed, turned his back on her, and went to sleep. This went on throughout their marriage. At some point, they went to a doctor to find out if any or both of them had a defect, but she was declared as perfectly healthy and he was supposedly only given some sort of supplement.

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Gina alleged that her husband’s lack of interest in sex was because he was actually gay, and only married her to maintain his residency status in the Philippines. She also implied that he had a small penis.

For his part, Chi Ming said it was Gina who didn't want to have sex with him. He claimed that she only wanted an annulment because she "is afraid that she will be forced to return the pieces of jewelry of his mother and because of her fear of consummation."

Court Document Excerpt: "The defendant submitted himself to a physical examination. His penis was examined by Dr. Sergio Alteza, Jr., for the purpose of finding out whether he is impotent . As a result thereof, Dr. Alteza submitted his Doctor's Medical Report. (Exh. "2"). It is stated there, that there is no evidence of impotency (Exh. "2-B"), and he is capable of erection. (Exh. "2-C")

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"The doctor said, that he asked the defendant to masturbate to find out whether or not he has an erection and he found out that from the original size of two (2) inches, or five (5) centimeters, the penis of the defendant lengthened by one (1) inch and one centimeter. Dr. Alteza said, that the defendant had only a soft erection which is why his penis is not in its full length. But, [it] still is capable of further erection, in that with his soft erection, the defendant is capable of having sexual intercourse with a woman."

Outcome: Prior to the case being brought to the SC, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City (Branch 89) already granted the annulment of the marriage due to the husband's psychological incapacity. He took the case to the CA, which only reaffirmed the RTC decision. He then took the case to the SC because of he said he "loves his wife very much" and that he is "physically and psychologically capable" of functioning as a husband. He added that if he has any defect, it could be "cured by the intervention of medical technology or science." The SC, however, wisely decreed that the annulment of this particular marriage should hold.

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PATRICIA FIGUEROA vs. SIMEON BARRANCO, JR.

July 31, 1997

The Case: In 1971, Patricia filed a petition to prevent Simeon from being admitted to the legal profession. Patricia claimed that she and Simeon had been in a relationship since 1953, when they were in their teens and both living in Janiuay, Iloilo.

The court document noted: "Simeon even acted as escort to Patricia when she reigned as Queen at the 1953 town fiesta. Patricia first acceded to sexual congress with Simeon sometime in 1960. Their son, Rafael Barranco, was born on December 11, 1964."

Patricia pointed out that Simeon did not fulfill promise to marry her. She claimed that Simeon spoke to her about marriage around 20 to 30 times. During this time, she said he only gave ten pesos to their child on his birthdays. Pilar eventually gave up on Simeon when she learned that he had married another woman.

Simeon was prevented from taking the lawyer's oath in 1971 because of the charges of gross immorality made by complainant.

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Court Document Excerpt: "We cannot help viewing the instant complaint as an act of revenge of a woman scorned, bitter and unforgiving to the end. It is also intended to make respondent suffer severely and it seems, perpetually, sacrificing the profession he worked very hard to be admitted into. Even assuming that his past indiscretions are ignoble, the twenty-six years that respondent has been prevented from being a lawyer constitute sufficient punishment therefor. During this time there appears to be no other indiscretion attributed to him."

Outcome: The SC ruled in favor of Simeon and said he could take the lawyer's oath. The catch: Simeon was already 62 years old when he officially became a lawyer.

CONCERNED EMPLOYEE vs. GLENDA E. MAYOR

November 23, 2004

The Case: Glenda was a court stenographer at an RTC (Branch 72) in Olongapo City.

On October 29, 1998, a letter written by a "Concerned Employee" (whose identity was never revealed) addressed to then Court Administrator Alfredo Benipayo claimed that Glenda had engaged in "several immoral activities, characterized by promiscuous sexual behavior."

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On top of that, the letter-writer also noted that Glenda had been unable to pass her Civil Service Eligibility Exams but that her boss, Judge Eliodoro G. Ubiadas, "has been exhausting all possibilities so she can extend and renew her appointment."

Court Document Excerpt: "The administrative matter was referred to Judge Ubiadas for appropriate investigation and report. Judge Ubiadas issued a Memorandum directing all personnel of the RTC-Olongapo City to submit via a sealed envelope their respective comments on the complaint filed against Glenda. As reported by Judge Ubiadas, none of the employees of Branch 72 submitted any report or comment in response to the Memorandum. On the other hand, the employees of Branches 73 and 74 reported to Judge Ubiadas that not one of them had written the anonymous letter. Judge Ubiadas concluded that the charges posed against respondent were unsubstantiated, and consequently recommended the dismissal of the complaint."

Outcome: The SC didn't go with Judge Ubiadas' decision. Plot twist: It turns out that Glenda was having an affair with Neslie L. Leao, a married policeman. The SC reasoned: "The Court finds respondent Glenda E. Mayor, Court Stenographer III, RTC, Branch 72, Olongapo City, GUILTY of Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct and orders that she be suspended for six (6) months without pay with the warning that a repetition of the same or similar offense in the future shall be dealt with more severely."

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