REPUBLIC v. GRANADA G.R. No. 187512, June 13, 2012
After nine years of waiting, Yolanda filed a Petition to have Cyrus declared presumptively dead with the RTC Lipa City. On 7 February 2005, the RTC rendered a Decision declaring Cyrus presumptively dead.
On 10 March 2005, petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the OSG, filed a Motion for Reconsideration arguing that Yolanda had failed to exert earnest efforts to locate Cyrus and thus failed to prove her well-founded belief that he was already dead. The motion was denied. The OSG then elevated the case on appeal to the CA. Yolanda filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the CA had no jurisdiction over the appeal. She argued that her Petition for Declaration of Presumptive Death, based on Article 41 of the Family Code, was a summary judicial proceeding, in which the judgment is immediately final and executory and, thus, not appealable.
A petition for declaration of presumptive death of an absent spouse for the purpose of contracting a subsequent marriage under Article 41 of the Family Code is a summary proceeding “as provided for” under the Family Code. Taken together, Articles 41, 238, 247 and 253 of the Family Code provide that since a petition for declaration of presumptive death is a summary proceeding, the judgment of the court therein shall be immediately final and executory.
As a matter of course, it follows that no appeal can be had of the trial court's judgment in a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death of an absent spouse under Article 41 of the Family Code. It goes without saying, however, that an aggrieved party may file a petition for certiorari to question abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
The law does not define what is meant by a well-grounded belief.
The belief of the present spouse must be the result of proper and honest to goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of the absent spouse and whether the absent spouse is still alive or is already dead. Whether or not the spouse present acted on a well-founded belief of death of the absent spouse depends upon the inquiries to be drawn from a great many circumstances occurring before and after the disappearance of the absent spouse and the nature and extent of the inquiries made by present spouse.