ZULUETA VS. COURT OF APPEALS
G.R. No. 107383, February 20, 1996
Petitioner: Cecilia Zulueta
Respondents: Court of Appeals and Alfredo Martin
Ponente: J. Mendoza
This is a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals, affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch X) which ordered petitioner to return documents and papers taken by her from private respondent's clinic without the latter's knowledge and consent.
Petitioner Cecilia Zulueta is the wife of private respondent Alfredo Martin. On March 26, 1982, petitioner entered the clinic of her husband, a doctor of medicine, and in the presence of her mother, a driver and private respondent's secretary, forcibly opened the drawers and cabinet in her husband's clinic and took 157 documents consisting of private correspondence between Dr. Martin and his alleged paramours, greetings cards, cancelled checks, diaries, Dr. Martin's passport, and photographs. The documents and papers were seized for use in evidence in a case for legal separation and for disqualification from the practice of medicine which petitioner had filed against her husband.
(1) Whether or not the documents and papers in question are inadmissible in evidence;
(1) No. Indeed the documents and papers in question are inadmissible in evidence. The constitutional injunction declaring "the privacy of communication and correspondence [to be] inviolable" is no less applicable simply because it is the wife (who thinks herself aggrieved by her husband's infidelity) who is the party against whom the constitutional provision is to be enforced. The only exception to the prohibition in the Constitution is if there is a "lawful order [from a] court or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law." Any violation of this provision renders the evidence obtained inadmissible "for any purpose in any proceeding."
The intimacies between husband and wife do not justify any one of them in breaking the drawers and cabinets of the other and in ransacking them for any telltale evidence of marital infidelity. A person, by contracting marriage, does not shed his/her integrity or his right to privacy as an individual and the constitutional protection is ever available to him or to her.
The law insures absolute freedom of communication between the spouses by making it privileged. Neither husband nor wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse while the marriage subsists. Neither may be examined without the consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage, save for specified exceptions. But one thing is freedom of communication; quite another is a compulsion for each one to share what one knows with the other. And this has nothing to do with the duty of fidelity that each owes to the other.
The review for petition is DENIED for lack of merit.