Atty. Adriano married Rosario Adriano, herein respondent, on November 15, 1955. The two begot 2 sons, 3 daughters, and adopted one child. Their marriage failed. Thus, the two lived separately. A year later, Atty. Adriano found a new love life, one of his former clients, named Fe Valino, herein petitioner, where they live together as common law partners. Despite such situation, Atty. Adriano continued to provide financial support to Rosario and their children.
The husband died due to acute emphysema, a lung disease. At the time of husband’s death, the first wife and children were having their Christmas vacation in the US. Due to this, the common law wife, Valino, facilitated the funeral of Atty. Adriano. The legal wife requested the common law wife to delay the internment for them to pay their last respect to his dead husband. However,her request was not heeded. They buried Adriano at the mausoleum of the family of Valino at the Manila Memorial Park. Respondents were not able to attend the interment.
The legal family, having been deprived of the last chance to view the remains of Atty. Adriano, filed a suit against the common law wife. In their claim that the deceased did not wished to be buried in Manila Memorial Park.
In her defense, the common law wife countered that she and the deceased were living together for more than 20 years, and claims that she has the better right to make decisions concerning the burial of Atty. Adriano.
RTC dismissed respondents (legal wife) petition. On the ground that it would not serve any useful purpose and so he (Atty. Adriano) should be spared and respected.
CA reversed and set aside the RTC decision and directed Valino to have the remains of Atty. Adriano exhumed at the expense of respondents.
Hence, the common law wife appealed to the SC.
Who between Rosario and Valino is entitled to the remains of Atty. Adriano.
Under the law, the right and duty to make funeral arrangements is the surviving legal wife.
Article 30 provides:
“The duty and the right to make arrangements for the funeral of a relative shall be in accordance with the order established for support, under Article 294. In case of descendants of the same degree, or of brothers and sisters, the oldest shall be preferred. In case of ascendants, the paternal shall have a better right. ”
Art. 199. Also provides that whenever two or more persons are obliged to give support, the liability shall devolve upon the following persons in the order herein provided:
(1) The spouse;
(2) The descendants in the nearest degree;
(3) The ascendants in the nearest degree; and
(4) The brothers and sisters. (294a)
Further, Article 308 of the Civil Code provides:
“No human remains shall be retained, interred, disposed of or exhumed without the consent of the persons mentioned in Articles 294 and 305.”
In this connection, Section 1103 of the Revised Administrative Code provides:
Section 1103. Persons charged with the duty of burial. – The immediate duty of burying the body of a deceased person, regardless of the ultimate liability for the expense thereof, shall devolve upon the persons herein below specified:
(a) If the deceased was a married man or woman, the duty of the burial shall devolve upon the surviving spouse if he or she possesses sufficient means to pay the necessary expenses.
The fact that she was living separately from her husband and was in the United States when he died has no controlling significance. To say that Rosario had, in effect, waived or renounced, expressly or impliedly, her right and duty to make arrangements for the funeral of her deceased husband is baseless. The right and duty to make funeral arrangements, like any other right, will not be considered as having been waived or renounced, except upon clear and satisfactory proof of conduct indicative of a free and voluntary intent to that end. While there was disaffection between Atty. Adriano and Rosario and their children when he was still alive, the Court also recognizes that human compassion, more often than not, opens the door to mercy and forgiveness once a family member joins his Creator. Notably, it is an undisputed fact that the respondents wasted no time in making frantic pleas to Valino for the delay of the interment for a few days so they could attend the service and view the remains of the deceased. As soon as they came to know about Atty. Adriano’s death in the morning of December 19, 1992 (December 20, 1992 in the Philippines), the respondents immediately contacted Valino and the Arlington Memorial Chapel to express their request, but to no avail.