Suntay v. Cojuangco-Suntay, G.R. No. 132254, 29 December 1998.

02 Oct



The ratio decidendi points as the legal basis for setting aside the marriage is paragraph 3, Article 85 of the New Civil Code, the law in force prior to the enactment of the Family Code, on voidable  marriages.

The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

“WHEREFORE, the marriage celebrated between Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay and Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay on July 9, 1958 is hereby declared null and void and of no effect as between the parties. xxx”

The conflict lies on the legal connotation and implications of the terms “voidable” and “null and void”.


Which should prevail between the ratio decidendi and the fallo in this case?


It is the ratio decidendi..

[I]t is an elementary principle of procedure that the resolution of the court in a given issue as embodied in the dispositive part of a decision or order is the controlling factor as to settlement of rights of the parties and the questions presented, notwithstanding statement in the body of the decision or order which may be somewhat confusing, the same is not without qualification. The foregoing rule holds true only when the dispositive part of a final decision or order is definite, clear and unequivocal and can be wholly given effect without need of interpretation or construction which usually is the case where the order or decision in question is that of a court not of record which is not constitutionally required to state the facts and the law on which the judgment is based.

Assuming that a doubt or uncertainty exists between the dispositive portion and the body of the decision, effort must be made to harmonize the whole body of the decision in order to give effect to the intention, purpose and judgment of the court.


Thus, a reading of the pertinent portions of the decision xxx shows that the marriage is voidable.


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