Silva v. Peralta (G.R. No. L-13114)

Facts:

Saturnino Silva, an American citizen and US Army officer, was married to one Priscilla Isabel of Australia. While deployed in the Philippines, Saturnino married appellee Esther which was allegedly executed since no documents for the purpose of marriage were prepared. The said marriage produced a child. While in the US for medical treatment, Saturnino divorced therein Priscilla and contracted another marriage now with appellant Elenita Ledesma. Upon Saturnino’s return to the Philippines, Esther demanded support for the child and upon his refusal, instituted a suit. Thereupon, Elenita moved to enjoin Esther from representing herself as wife of Saturnino and prayed for the award of moral damages for the humiliation and distress she suffered upon learning his husband had a child. Esther filed a counterclaim for actual damages and fees due to the harassment and moral damages caused by Saturnino’s marital relation with Elenita and his subsequent refusal to acknowledge their offspring. The trial court found for Esther. Appellant spouses now prays for reconsideration of the decision alleging the award of the pecuniary damages is unwarranted by law.

Issue:

Whether or not appellee Esther Peralta is entitled to damages because of Saturnino’s affair and abandonment.

Ruling: YES.

The damages awarded to appellee are a natural and direct consequence of Silva’s deceitful maneuvers in making love to appellee, and inducing her to yield to his advances and live with him as his wife (when Silva knew all the time that he could not marry Esther Peralta because of his undissolved marriage to an Australian woman, a prior wedlock that he concealed from appellee). It is clear that Esther Peralta would not have consented to the liaison had there been no concealment of Silva’s previous marriage, or that the birth of the child was a direct result of this connection. That Esther had to support the child because Silva abandoned her before it was born is likewise patent upon the record, and we cannot see how said appellant can be excused from liability therefor.

Silva’s seduction and subsequent abandonment of appellee and his illegitimate child were likewise the direct cause for the filling of the support case in Manila, and in order to prosecute the same, appellee had to quit her employment in Davao. While the case could have been filed in Davao, we do not believe that this error in selecting a more favorable venue (due to her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of the law) should be allowed to neutralized the appellant Silva’s responsibility as the primary causative factor of the prejudice and damage suffered by appellee.

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