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Marital Disqualification Rule


Sec. 22Disqualification by reason of marriage. — During their marriage, neither the husband nor the wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse, except in a civil case by one against the other, or in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter's direct descendants or ascendants. . (Rule 130, Rules of Court)

During the marriage may the husband or the wife testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse?


As a general rule, the spouses, during the marriage, may not testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse.


What is the reason for the rule?

1.  There is identity of interests between husband and wife;

2.   If one were to testify for or against the other, there is consequent danger of perjury;

3.  The policy of the law is to guard the security and confidences of private life, even at the risk of an occasional failure of justice, and to prevent domestic disunion and unhappiness; and

4.  Where there is want of domestic tranquility there is danger of punishing one spouse through the hostile testimony of the other. (Alvarez vs. Ramirez, G.R. No. 143439, October 14, 2005)


● The rule forbidding one spouse to testify for or against the other is based on principles which are deemed important to preserve the marriage relation as one of full confidence and affection, and that this is regarded as more important to the public welfare than that the exigencies of the lawsuits should authorize domestic peace to be disregarded for the sake of ferreting out facts within the knowledge of strangers.


What are the exceptions to the rule?

Exceptions:

1.   in a civil case by one against the other, or
2.   in a criminal case for a crime committed by one against
       a.   the other or
       b.   the other’s direct descendants or ascendants


What are the reason for the exception?

The reason for the exception is that the identity of the interest of person disappears and the consequent danger of perjury based on that identity is non-existent. And in such a situation, the security and confidence of private life which the law aims at protecting will be nothing but ideals which, through their absence, merely leave a void in the unhappy home.


What are the requisites for the marital disqualification rule?

1.  Marriage is valid and existing as of the time of the offer of testimony.
2.  The other spouse is a party to the action.
3.  No consent from the spouse-litigant
4.  Not a civil case by one against the other, or a criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter's direct descendants or ascendants.


May objections to the competency of a husband and wife to testify against the other may be waived? 

Objections to the competency of a husband and wife to testify in a criminal prosecution against the other may be waived as in the case of other witnesses generally. (People vs. Pasensoy, G. R. No. 140634. September 12, 2002)


When should objection to the competency of the spouse must be made?

The objection to the competency of the spouse must be made when he or she is first offered as a witness. (People vs. Pasensoy)


Marital Disqualification Rule vs. Marital Privilege Rule

In business records, the person making the entry must be deceased or unable to testify. In official records, the person making the entry need not be deceased or unable to testify (Rule 130, Sec. 44). Both official and business records are only prima facie evidence.



Cases:


People v. Castañeda 
88 SCRA 562 (1979) 

The wife can testify against the husband in a case for falsification of the wife’s signature in public documents to sell share of wife in conjugal property because it is a crime committed by the husband against the wife.


People v. Francisco
78 Phil. 694 (1947) 

Where the accused husband in his testimony imputed the commission of the crime to his wife, he is deemed to have waived his objection to the latter’s testimony in rebuttal.


Alvarez vs. Ramirez
G.R. No. 143439, October 14, 2005

The act of private respondent in setting fire to the house of his sister-in-law Susan Ramirez, knowing fully well that his wife was there, and in fact with the alleged intent of injuring the latter, is an act totally alien to the harmony and confidences of marital relation which the disqualification primarily seeks to protect. The criminal act complained of had the effect of directly and vitally impairing the conjugal relation. It underscored the fact that the marital and domestic relations between her and the accused-husband have become so strained that there is no more harmony, peace or tranquility to be preserved. The Supreme Court has held that in such a case, identity is non-existent. In such a situation, the security and confidences of private life which the law aims to protect are nothing but ideals which through their absence, merely leave a void in the unhappy home. Thus, there is no longer any reason to apply the Marital Disqualification Rule.

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