Question: Mrs. Lacson works in the Philippines and her husband works in Canada. She received definite photographic proof that her husband maintained a mistress in the state of Ontario. Later on he converted to Canadian citizenship and married his mistress. Aggrieved, can Mrs. Lacson sue for Bigamy against the husband and adultery against the mistress?

Legal Analysis:

Before ascertaining responsibility we need to identify the elements of the crime/s.

Criminal Concubinage

A husband is guilty of Concubinage when he maintains a mistress in the family home, or, shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall live with with her in any other place. Art 334 of the Revised Penal Code elucidates:

Art. 334. Concubinage. — Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.

The crime of Concubinage applies only to husbands.

Criminal Adultery

Adultery pertains to sexual relations between a married woman and a man who is not her husband, knowing full well that she be married, Each sexual intercourse constitutes a crime of adultery.

Art. 333. Who are guilty of adultery. — Adultery is committed by any married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of her knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void.

Bigamous Relationships

Bigamy pertains to act of marrying again while the first marriage is still subsisting. It is defined under Article 349 of the RPC as the contracting of a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved.

From the facts of the case, the husband is guilty of first committing concubinage, then bigamy thereafter by marrying his mistress. Notwithstanding the existence of the elements of the crime being present, the husband may not be prosecuted at all because of the principle of territoriality.

Crimes Are Punishable Only when Committed in Philippine Soil

The husband allegedly contracted a new marriage in Canada- in a foreign country. Under the precepts of international law and the territorial limitations of Philippine laws – crimes committed abroad incurs no liability.

In sum: Philippine law is applicable to all crimes committed or perpetrated within the limits of Philippine territory. Hence, iniquities occurring outside the territory of the Philippines are not within the jurisdiction of Philippine authorities to prosecute. Filing a criminal case for bigamy against the erring husband  will fail.

What if the husband committed forgery and oral defamation against his Philippine wife while in Canada. Can he be made liable for that?

No. As with bigamy, the case will not prosper. Penal laws of the Philippines are territorial in nature. Local statutes penalize  acts defined as criminal acts committed within the Philippine territory. Crimes or felonies committed even by Filipinos outside of the Philippines do not come within the ambit of our criminal laws.

Understand that there is one instance wherein the husband may be prosecuted. Should the husband returns to the Philippines with his new wife, and both cohabit  as husband and wife, the aggrieved first wife can validly file a criminal complaint for concubinage as  their illegal relationship is committed within national limits.

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