As law students, we were required to read several cases a day. In four years, an average law student probably read more than a thousand Supreme Court decisions. Due to the volume of these required readings, we tend to forget some of them. Some, however, are simply unforgettable. Of all these cases, none is more memorable than the case of Chi Ming Tsoi vs. Court of Appeals. I tell you, a lawyer may forget very important landmark cases. He may forget the Preamble of the Philippine Constitution. He may forget his law school teachers. He may even forget his own name. But no lawyer or law student will ever forget the case of Chi Ming Tsoi.
THE GIST OF THE CASE
This is a case for declaration of nullity of marriage or, in layman’s terms — annulment of marriage. The wife filed the Petition against his husband. She claims that the man was psychologically incapacitated to perform his marital obligations. Find out why.
THE OPENING STATEMENT
The very first paragraphs of this Decision, penned by Supreme Court Justice Justo P. Torres, Jr. is immediately captivating. There, he stated that:
Man has not invented a reliable compass by which to steer a marriage in its journey over troubled waters. Laws are seemingly inadequate. Over time, much reliance has been placed in the works of the unseen hand of Him who created all things.
Who is to blame when a marriage fails?”
Sometime in 1988, at the lovely Manila Cathedral, Chi Ming Tsoi married Gina Lao. The wedding ceremony was followed by the wedding reception, which was held in South Villa, Makati. After a long day, the newlyweds went straight to their room, lied down in a single bed and spent the first night of their married life together.
Chi Ming Tsoi went to bed, turned his back on his wife and slept the whole night. The same thing happened on the second night, and the third, and the fourth. In fact, a week passed and the couple never consummated their marriage (this is the legal term for “having sex”, “doing the deed”, “humping the bump”… you know what I mean).
At the end of that week, the newlyweds went to Baguio City for their honeymoon. Gina Lao-Tsoi expected a romantic weekend where she and her husband would spend the whole time together as a loving couple. Chi Ming Tsoi also planned to have a great time during this honeymoon. But he wanted to spend it with his entire family. Thus, instead of spending this weekend alone with his wife, he brought along his mother, his uncle and his nephew. At nights, he would take long walks alone and, afterwards, sleep in a rocking chair in the living room while his wife slept by herself in the bedroom.
Nothing happened during their honeymoon. Again, they never consummated their marriage.
A year has passed. Gina Lao-Tsoi remained a virgin. In fact, despite being married for a year, Gina had never even seen Chi Ming Tsoi’s “little friend”.
Distraught, disappointed, frustrated and probably a little bit horny, Chi Ming Tsoi’s wife filed a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage. According to her, his husband was psychologically incapacitated to perform his basic marital obligations. Gina Lao-Tsoi claimed that Chi Ming Tsoi’s failure to do the deed is due to the fact that he was probably impotent. She wasn’t sure because, as mentioned, soft or hard, she had not yet seen Chi Ming Tsoi’s one-eyed snake.
Chi Ming Tsoi vehemently denied his wife’s allegation. To refute her claim, Chi Ming Tsoi submitted himself to physical examination. In front of a medical doctor, he stroked his lizard and proved that his “little friend” can stand on his own. In its Decision, the Supreme Court took note of this. Verbatim, this is the Court’s statement on the matter:
The defendant submitted himself to a physical examination. His penis was examined by Dr. Sergio Alteza, Jr., for the purpose of finding out whether he is impotent. As a result thereof, Dr. Alteza submitted his Doctor’s Medical Report. It is stated there, that there is no evidence of impotency and he is capable of erection.
The doctor said, that he asked the defendant to masturbate to find out whether or not he has an erection and he found out that from the original size of two (2) inches, or five (5) centimeters, the penis of the defendant lengthened by one (1) inch and one centimeter. Dr. Alteza said, that the defendant had only a soft erection which is why his penis is not in its full length. But, still is capable of further erection, in that with his soft erection, the defendant is capable of having sexual intercourse with a woman.”
WHY THE CASE IS UNFORGETTABLE
In his attempt to prove that he was not impotent, Chi Ming Tsoi was clearly successful. The Supreme Court was convinced that his “little friend” could surely rise up to the occasion. But he probably forgot that court proceedings are public in nature. In his enthusiasm to refute his wife’s allegation of impotency, he also announced to the whole world that his “little friend” is indeed a “little friend”.
Henceforth, the length of Chi Ming Tsoi’s phallus was forever inscribed in the annals of legal scripture. In fact, this would be an interesting question for the bar exams. What is the size of Chi Ming Tsoi’s penis? Definitely, all bar examinees will be able answer this question perfectly — 2 inches or 5 centimeters while soft and it lengthens by 1 inch and 1 centimeter during a soft erection.
THE LEGAL DOCTRINE
Believe it or not, this is a very important legal case. In fact, it is a landmark case because it laid down an important legal doctrine. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that refusal of one party to consummate the marriage is a sign of psychological incapacity and hence, a ground for declaration of nullity of marriage. Indeed, the Supreme Court declared the marriage between Chi Ming Tsoi and his wife as null and void. Since it was proven that Chi Ming Tsoi was not impotent, it was clear that he simply refused to have sex with his wife. Thus, according the Supreme Court:
If a spouse, although physically capable but simply refuses to perform his or her essential marriage obligations, and the refusal is senseless and constant, Catholic marriage tribunals attribute the causes to psychological incapacity than to stubborn refusal. Senseless and protracted refusal is equivalent to psychological incapacity. Thus, the prolonged refusal of a spouse to have sexual intercourse with his or her spouse is considered a sign of psychological incapacity.
Evidently, one of the essential marital obligations under the Family Code is ‘to procreate children based on the universal principle that procreation of children through sexual cooperation is the basic end of marriage.’ Constant non- fulfillment of this obligation will finally destroy the integrity or wholeness of the marriage. In the case at bar, the senseless and protracted refusal of one of the parties to fulfill the above marital obligation is equivalent to psychological incapacity.”
This case is also remembered for its definition of love and marriage. In its final statements, Justice Torres stated:
While the law provides that the husband and the wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, the sanction therefor is actually the ‘spontaneous, mutual affection between husband and wife and not any legal mandate or court order’. Love is useless unless it is shared with another. Indeed, no man is an island, the cruelest act of a partner in marriage is to say ‘I could not have cared less.’ This is so because an ungiven self is an unfulfilled self. The egoist has nothing but himself. In the natural order, it is sexual intimacy which brings spouses wholeness and oneness. Sexual intimacy is a gift and a participation in the mystery of creation. It is a function which enlivens the hope of procreation and ensures the continuation of family relations.”
Isn’t it beautiful? It’s a pity that this wonderful statement is overshadowed by the statement of facts. Instead of remembering this case for its important legal implications and its lovely definition of love and marriage, it is most remembered for its definition of Chi Ming Tsoi’s penis.
Click here for the full text of the case of Chi Ming Tsoi vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 119190, January 16, 1997) – http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1997/jan1997/gr_119190_1997.html.