Saturday, March 10, 2012

Potenciano vs. CA [GR No. 139789, 139808, July 19, 2001]

Facts: In March 1999, Erlinda Illusorio, the wife of herein petitioner, Potenciano, petitioned for habeas corpus which was dismissed on May 2000 for lack of merit and granted the petition to nullify the CA ruling giving visitation rights to Erlinda. This case before SC is Erlinda’s motion to reconsider the decision made. A conference was set on September 2000 to determine the propriety and relevance of a physical and medical examination of Potenciano and how it will be conducted. Erlinda’s motion to have Potenciano be medically examined by a team of medical experts appointed by the Court was denied with finality in March 2001. 

Issue: Whether a court can validly issue an order compelling the husband to live together and observe mutual love, respect and fidelity. 

HeldErlinda claimed that she was not compelling Potenciano to live with her in consortium but clearly she wanted the latter to live with her and is the root cause of her petition. What the law provides is that “husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity”. The sanction thereof is the “spontaneous, mutual affection between husband and wife and not any legal mandate or court order to enforce consortium. 

Evidently, there was absence of empathy between Erlinda and Potenciano having separated from bed and board since 1972. Empathy as defined by SC is a “shared feeling between husband and wife experienced not only by having spontaneous sexual intimacy but a deep sense of spiritual communion”. Marital union is a two-way process. It is for two loving adults who view the relationship with respect, sacrifice and a continuing commitment to togetherness, conscious of its value as a sublime social institution. 

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