MANILA, Philippines -- The Court Appeals has affirmed the decision of a lower court that dismissed the appeal by a former professional basketball player to have his marriage annulled.
In a 12-page decision, the appellate court?s 9th division said it could not find any reason to reverse the ruling of Quezon City regional trial court Branch 255 that denied Kenneth Duremdes? petition to have his marriage with one Vanessa Cariaga nullified.
The appeals court said that based on Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 02-11-10-SC, a pre-trial is mandatory in petitions for annulment of marriages unless the petitioner's counsel or any duly representative appears in court and explain the party's absence.
In this case, Duremdes, as well as his counsel Benedicto Malcontento, failed to appear before the court to present proof of a valid excuse for the former basketball player?s non-appearance at the pre-trial.
"When appellant Duremdes failed to attend the pre-trial conference, his petition was correctly dismissed by the court a quo. While it is true that there are times when the rule on dismissal of cases for failure to appear during the pre-trial is not strictly applied, appellant Duremdes failed to come forward with the most persuasive reasons for such relaxation of the said rule," the appeals court said.
The appeals court added that if Benedicto had a conflict in schedule with other cases he was handling, there should have been other lawyers assigned to appear in behalf of Duremdes because it was the Kho Bustos Malcontento Argonsino Law Offices who was his listed counsel, not only Malcontento.
The case stemmed from the petition for the declaration of nullity filed by Duremdes against Cariaga who, he claimed he never married, but admitted to having a relationship with her for a few months in 1993.
Cariaga filed a complaint for bigamy against Duremdes following his marriage to Teresa Ibasco in 1996.
Cariaga alleged that she and Duremdes got married in 1993 at the Manila City Hall. She presented their marriage license and claimed that the ceremony was officiated by a certain Reverend Jesus Mesa and witnessed by Manolita San Luis and Nora Atienzo.
Duremdes has asked the lower court to investigate whether there has been a collusion against him. But the appeals court said the law did not require the conduct of such an inquiry.