DECISIONS OF THE COURT OF APPEALS
April 14, 1959]
of the Philippines, plaintiff and appellee, vs.
Maria Norma Hernandez, Mariano Hernandez and
Ramona Martinez, defendants; Maria Norma Her-
nandez, defendant and appellant.
Criminal Law; Slander by Deed; one who Backs out from an
Agreement to Marry Cannot be held Liable for Slander by
Deed. A party to an agreement to marry who backs out cannot be held liable for the crime of slander by deed, for then
that would be an inherent way of compelling said party to go
into a marriage without his or her free consent, and this would
contravene the principle in law that what could not be done
directly could not be done indirectly; and said party has the
right to avoid to himself or herself the evil of going through
a loveless marriage pursuant to Article 11, paragraph 4 of the
Revised Penal Code.
from a judgment
The facts are stated
of the Court of First Instance
in the opinion of the Court.
Zosima C. Hernandez, for defendant and appellant.
Assistant Solicitor General Esmeraldo Umali and Attorney Enrique M. Reyes, for plaintiff and appellee.
Gutierrez David, Pres.
Together with the herein appellant Maria Norma Hernandez, her father Mariano Hernandez and mother Ramona
Martinez were charged with serious slander by deed. The
Court of First Instance of Batangas after due trial acquitted Mariano Hernandez and Ramona Martinez but convicted the herein appellant and sentenced her to pay a fine
of P300, to indemnify the offended party in the sum of P200
with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to
pay the costs.
The evidence for the prosecution tends
The complainant, Vivencio Lascano, a lad of 19 years of
age started courting appellant Maria Norma Hernandez
sometime in August, 1954. After months of courtship apOn
pellant finally accepted Vivencio on January 6, 1955.
that date they
Vivencio to bring his parents to her home so that they
On January 6, 1955 Vicould talk about their marriage.
vencio told his parents about appellant’s
quently* or on February 6, 1955
gether with his twelve aunts,
chickens and three goats,
Batangas. appellant could be found nowhere. Appellant. and the house was closed. No. They even sought the help of her uncle. Before they came. They set March 19. Vivencio and his parents still waited for her until twelve midnight of March 19 but appellant never showed up thus causing them great pellant’s parents. F) was issued. ap- . the appellant and Vivencio. On February 21. wise agreed that Vivencio’s parents would buy a wedding dress. 55. bringing chickens along with them. Later on they went to the house of one Isidora Lascano to order appellant’s wedding gown which was brought to appellant’s house on March 16. however. Inasmuch as there was no one there. On the same date. On March 5. two vestidos. On the morning of March 19. to file their application for marriage (Exhibits B and C) and the consent of their parents to said marriage (Exhibits D and E). Batangas to arrange the proclamation of the coming marriage of the two. she was finally prevailed upon to accept Vivencio’s love. although she felt no love for the latter. Vivencio’s father. 1955 the corresponding marriage After the issuance of the license.OFFICIAL GAZETTE 8466 Vol. to persuade her. Her parents. a pair of shoes for the bride. marriage license. On March 18 they constructed a temporary shed where the wedding feast was to be held wherein they put up a temporary stove. as the date of the wedding was approaching. to advance P20 for fetching the sponsors in the wedding and to repair the roof of one Feliciano Martinez’ house. shame and humiliation. pigs and chickens and they served around 90 guests. really courting her but she was not in love with him. 40 for her hand in marriage. 1955. Batangas. averred that Vivencio was. On the same date and on March 17 and 18 the parents of Vivencio cleaned the yard of appellant’s house and did other household chores in the traditional barrio wedding practice. Vivencio and his parents together with the appellant and the parents of the latter went to the parish priest of Taal. Vivencio’s parents went to ask for her hand in marriage. went to the municipal treasurer of Taal. The parents of both parties agreed to the marriage of appellant to Vivencio. 1955 as the date of the wedding to be held at They likethe Roman Catholic church of Taal. who was insistent. Being obedient to her parents and her uncle Agapito. They slaughtered goats. as agreed upon. together with their parents. they served around 70 guests because Vivencio’s parents invited the appellant’s friends and relatives. While said party or celebration was going on. the gown was just left in the balcony. in the presence of ap- gave P20 to the appellant’s father. tried to persuade her to accept Vivencio s proposal of marriage. 1955. an uncle of the appellant. (Exh. testifying in her own behalf. Agapito Mortel.
vencio’s parents went to their house on March 17 and 18 to prepare food for the coming marriage and that a temporary shed was constructed for the wedding feast and averred that there was no wedding gown brought to their house. She then decided to leave her home as a last recourse in order to prevent the marriage believing that if anyone will be humiliated by the failure of the marSo riage. and that the steps taken by her in order to prevent the celebration of the marriage constitute the crime of serious slander by deed. pellant already counseled The appellant’s parents corroborated the latter’s version was courting their daughter and that stating that Vivencio they wanted Vivencio to marry her but inasmuch as appellant was cool to Vivencio they persuaded her to accept his proposition and even sought the help of Maria’s uncle. As the date of the marriage was approaching. convicted her for said crime. On its part. left for Mindoro and stayed with her cousin at Calapan where she remained until April of 1955 when she was fetched by her cousin to be brought to Taal. Appellant now assails such findings and judgment as erroneous and seeks acquittal. 1959 OFFICIAL GAZETTE them not to bring those chickens appellant had to tell them that that they insisted such but they and Vivencio should not regret what should happen later. They denied that Vidid not go to Calapan to fetch her. she alone and without telling her parents what her plans were. Batangas because she was under arrest on account of this present case. she felt a sense of torture because she was not honestly in love with Vivencio. 1955 they found out that the appellant was not in their house so they started looking for her and on the following day they were informed that she was in Calapan. that on March 11. Agapito Mortel. on March 11. 1955.October 5. Appellant denied having received a wedding gown. Appellant’s father feeling very much embarrassed and thinking that he might kill her daughter upon seeing her. 8467 . until finally appellant acceded. The trial court finding that appellant purposely and deliberately absconded in order to prevent the celebration of her marriage with the offended party after subsequent preparations had been made by the latter in connection with the marriage. the appellee recommends reversal of the appealed judgment and acquittal of appellant on the ground that appellant’s act in going to Mindoro with the deliberate purpose of preventing the celebration of the marriage with complainant because she does not love the latter does not constitute the crime of slander by deed. stating that what Vivencio once brought to her was an ordinary dress (“bestida”) and that was before she accepted his love. it would be she being a girl and not Vivencio. Mindoro.
40 Among the reasons adduced by the Solicitor General are that malice. no malice on her part that since no marriage shall be solemnized unless the consent of the parties is freely given. Hernandez and Amparo. then that would be an inherent way of compelling said party to go into a marriage without his or her free consent. . has not been proven that in the act done by appellant there was no malice because in changing her mind. 55. so that it cannot be sustained that appellant was motivated by spite or ill-will in deliberately frustrating the marriage. . and this would contravene the principle in law that what could not be done directly could not be done indirectly. and that appellant had the right to avoid to herself the evil of going through a loveless marriage pursuant to Article 11. No. one of the essential requisites of slander. concur. assuming that she was in love with complainant previous to the incident. With the foregoing reasonings of the appellee we are in full accord so. that if a party to an agreement to marry who backs out should be held liable for the crime of slander by deed. . there always existed good relations between them being neighbors. and there was. simply because she desisted in continuing with the marriage. she was merely exercising her right not to give her consent to the marriage after mature consideration. therefore. “an institution in the maintenance of which in its purity the * * *” public is deeply interested that since the appellant unquestionably has the privilege to change or reconsider her previous commitment to marry the complainant it would be rank inconsistency to convict her for the crime of serious slander by deed. as prayed for by both parties. such consent being her prerogative as one of the contracting parties that she can freely refuse such consent during the actual marriage even if there was previous valid agreement to marry that there were no strained relations existing between the complainant and the appellant and her parents before the incident. the appealed judgment is hereby reversed and the appellant acquitted . to penalize appellant for not continuing with the proposed marriage would make the State practically instrumental in compelling an unwilling party to enter into a marriage. on the contrary. Judgment reversed.OFFICIAL GAZETTE Vol. . with costs cle officio. paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code. .