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Alvarez vs. Ramirez Case Digest


Susan Ramirez filed a criminal case for arson against her brother-in-law Maximo Alvarez. The prosecution called to the witness stand its first witness Esperanza Alvarez, sister of Susan and wife of Maximo. Esperanza testified but when she showed uncontrolled emotions, the trial judge to suspended the proceedings. Subsequently, Maximo, through counsel, filed a motion to disqualify Esperanza from testifying against him pursuant to Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court on marital disqualification. The trial court issued the questioned Order disqualifying Esperanza, prompting Susan to file a petition for Certiorari before the CA. The CA nullified the order of the RTC.


Can Esperanza testify against her husband in the arson case?


Yes. The offense of arson attributed to petitioner, directly impairs the conjugal relation between him and his wife Esperanza. His act, as embodied in the Information for arson filed against him, eradicates all the major aspects of marital life such as trust, confidence, respect and love by which virtues the conjugal relationship survives and flourishes.

As correctly observed by the Court of Appeals:

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. (People v. Castaneda, 271 SCRA 504). Thus, there is no longer any reason to apply the Marital Disqualification Rule.

It should be stressed that as shown by the records, prior to the commission of the offense, the relationship between petitioner and his wife was already strained. In fact, they were separated de facto almost six months before the incident. Indeed, the evidence and facts presented reveal that the preservation of the marriage between petitioner and Esperanza is no longer an interest the State aims to protect.

At this point, it bears emphasis that the State, being interested in laying the truth before the courts so that the guilty may be punished and the innocent exonerated, must have the right to offer the direct testimony of Esperanza, even against the objection of the accused, because it was the latter himself who gave rise to its necessity (Alvarez vs. Ramirez, G.R. No. 143439, October 14, 2005)

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