Monday, March 29, 2010

Legal lessons from GMA 7’s “Pepito Manaloto”

Last night after coming home from church and while having a late supper of siopao, corn on the cob, some beef and C2, I was able to watch some scenes of GMA7’s Pepito Manaloto.” It is claimed to be the first ever reality sitcom, whatever that means. The scenes last night showed Pepito (played by Michael V) being bawled out by his wife Elsa (Manilyn Reynes) for buying a lotto ticket instead of medicine for their sick child (Joshua Pineda). The next episode will show Pepito winning 700 million pesos from the lotto.

What legal lessons can we learn from “Pepito Manaloto”?

[1] Articles 68 to 73 of the Family Code provide for the rights and obligations Between husband and wife. These rights and obligations are:

Article 68 Personal obligations of the spouses
Article 69 Who decides on the family domicile
Article 70 Responsibility for family support
Article 71 Household management by both spouses
Article 72 Relief from the courts in case of disagreement
Article 73 Exercise by a spouse of a profession, industry, etc
[2] Article 75 of the Family Code provides that “the future spouses may, in the marriage settlements, agree upon the regime of absolute community, conjugal partnership of gains, complete separation of property, or any other regime. In the absence of a marriage settlement, or when the regime agreed upon is void, the system of absolute community of property as established in this Code shall govern”.

The problem is that a lot of Filipinos get married without knowing what these property regimes (systems) are, or that they even have a choice as to what regime they want. The same is true with a lot of foreigners married to Filipinos.

If the future spouses, BEFORE getting married, did not agree upon what kind of property regime they want, then as Article 75 provides, the system of absolute community of property (ACP) will automatically govern them.

[3] Article 88 of the Family Code provides that “the absolute community of property between spouses shall commence at the precise moment that the marriage is celebrated. Any stipulation, express or implied, for the commencement of the community regime at any other time shall be void.”

[4] Article 91 provides that “unless otherwise provided in this Chapter or in the marriage settlements, the community property shall consist of all the property owned by the spouses at the time of the celebration of the marriage or acquired thereafter.”

In simpler terms, everything owned by the man and woman at the time they got married will automatically become part of their community property. No exceptions; even those properties acquired by the man or woman by inheritance or donation BEFORE the marriage will become part of the community property from the moment they get married. This is true even if the titles to the properties acquired were not transferred to the names of the spouses after the marriage.

But during the marriage, properties acquired by inheritance or donation by either spouse do not become part of the community property, as provided for by Article 92 (1).

[5] Article 92 enumerates what properties are excluded from the community property.

[6] Article 93 provides an important principle: “Property acquired during the marriage is presumed to belong to the community, unless it is proved that it is one of those excluded therefrom.”

[7] Now the part of the Family Code that relates to “Pepito Manaloto”:

Article 95 provides that “whatever may be lost during the marriage in any game of chance, betting, sweepstakes, or any other kind of gambling, whether permitted or prohibited by law, shall be borne by the loser and shall not be charged to the community but any winnings therefrom shall form part of the community property.”

From the scenes I watched last night, it seems that Pepito used the money meant for the purchase of medicine to buy a lotto ticket. Article 95 states any winnings from any game of chance (like the lotto) shall become part of the community property. The fictional Pepito or any real Pinoy who might win the lotto cannot claim the winnings all by himself or herself; if that Pinoy is married, the winnings become part of community property.

What if the Pinoy who wins the lotto happens to be separated from the husband or wife? Well, the winnings become part of the community property as long as (1) the marriage has not been annulled or declared null and void; or (2) the spouses have not been legally separated; or (3) there has been no judicial separation of property under Articles 134 to 142 of the Family Code.

What if the Pinoy borrows money from the “5-6” loan shark in order to buy a lotto ticket? And this Pinoy doesn’t win? Can the community property of this Pinoy and the spouse be held liable to pay the loan shark? Well, as you can read from Article 95, “whatever may be lost during the marriage in any game of chance, betting, sweepstakes, or any other kind of gambling, whether permitted or prohibited by law, shall be borne by the loser and shall not be charged to the community.” In other words, that poor Pinoy must pay the loan shark out of his/her own pocket, cannot require the other spouse to help, or use their savings if any to pay the debt.

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