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Republic of the Philippines

Second, it is alleged that he performed a marriage ceremony

SUPREME COURT

between Floriano Dador Sumaylo and Gemma G. del Rosario

Manila

outside his court's jurisdiction on October 27, 1994. Respondent


judge holds office and has jurisdiction in the Municipal Circuit Trial

SECOND DIVISION

Court of Sta. Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte. The wedding was


solemnized at the respondent judge's residence in the municipality of

A.M. No. MTJ-96-1088 July 19, 1996

Dapa, which does not fall within his jurisdictional area of the
municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos, located some 40 to 45

RODOLFO G. NAVARRO, complainant,

kilometers away from the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte.

vs.

In his letter-comment to the office of the Court Administrator,


respondent judge avers that the office and name of the Municipal

JUDGE HERNANDO C. DOMAGTOY, respondent.

Mayor of Dapa have been used by someone else, who, as the


mayor's "lackey," is overly concerned with his actuations both as

ROMERO, J.:p

judge and as a private person. The same person had earlier filed
Administrative Matter No 94-980-MTC, which was dismissed for lack

The complainant in this administrative case is the Municipal Mayor of

of merit on September 15, 1994, and Administrative Matter No. OCA-

Dapa, Surigao del Norte, Rodolfo G. Navarro. He has submitted

IPI-95-16, "Antonio Adapon v. Judge Hernando C. Domagtoy," which

evidence in relation to two specific acts committed by respondent

is still pending.

Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Hernando Domagtoy, which, he


contends, exhibits gross misconduct as well as inefficiency in office

In relation to the charges against him, respondent judge seeks

and ignorance of the law.

exculpation from his act of having solemnized the marriage between


Gaspar Tagadan, a married man separated from his wife, and Arlyn

First, on September 27, 1994, respondent judge solemnized the

F. Borga by stating that he merely relied on the Affidavit issued by the

wedding between Gaspar A. Tagadan and Arlyn F. Borga, despite the

Municipal Trial Judge of Basey, Samar, confirming the fact that Mr.

knowledge that the groom is merely separated from his first wife.

Tagadan and his first wife have not seen each other for almost seven
years. 1 With respect to the second charge, he maintains that in

solemnizing the marriage between Sumaylo and del Rosario, he did

cohabitation and having borne five children, Ida Pearanda left the

not violate Article 7, paragraph 1 of the Family Code which states

conjugal dwelling in Valencia, Bukidnon and that she has not

that: "Marriage may be solemnized by: (1) Any incumbent member of

returned nor been heard of for almost seven years, thereby giving

the judiciary within the court's jurisdiction;" and that article 8 thereof

rise to the presumption that she is already dead.

applies to the case in question.


In effect, Judge Domagtoy maintains that the aforementioned joint
The complaint was not referred, as is usual, for investigation, since

affidavit is sufficient proof of Ida Pearanda's presumptive death, and

the pleadings submitted were considered sufficient for a resolution of

ample reason for him to proceed with the marriage ceremony. We do

the case. 2

not agree.

Since the countercharges of sinister motives and fraud on the part of

Article 41 of the Family Code expressly provides:

complainant have not been sufficiently proven, they will not be dwelt
upon. The acts complained of and respondent judge's answer

A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a

thereto will suffice and can be objectively assessed by themselves to

previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the

prove the latter's malfeasance.

celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been


absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-

The certified true copy of the marriage contract between Gaspar

founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of

Tagadan and Arlyn Borga states that Tagadan's civil status is

disappearance where there is danger of death under the

"separated." Despite this declaration, the wedding ceremony was

circumstances set forth in the provisions of Articles 391 of the Civil

solemnized by respondent judge. He presented in evidence a joint

Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.

affidavit by Maurecio A. Labado, Sr. and Eugenio Bullecer,


subscribed and sworn to before Judge Demosthenes C. Duquilla,

For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the

Municipal Trial Judge of Basey, Samar. 3 The affidavit was not

preceding paragraph, the spouse present must institute a summary

issued by the latter judge, as claimed by respondent judge, but

proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of

merely acknowledged before him. In their affidavit, the affiants stated

presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of

that they knew Gaspar Tagadan to have been civilly married to Ida D.

reappearance of the absent spouse. (Emphasis added.)

Pearanda in September 1983; that after thirteen years of

There is nothing ambiguous or difficult to comprehend in this


provision. In fact, the law is clear and simple. Even if the spouse

(1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's

present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was

jurisdiction;

already dead, a summary proceeding for the declaration of


presumptive death is necessary in order to contract a subsequent

xxx

xxx

xxx (Emphasis supplied.)

marriage, a mandatory requirement which has been precisely


incorporated into the Family Code to discourage subsequent

Art. 8. The marriage shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers

marriages where it is not proven that the previous marriage has been

the judge or in open court, in the church, chapel or temple, or in the

dissolved or a missing spouse is factually or presumptively dead, in

office of the consul-general, consul or vice-consul, as the case may

accordance with pertinent provisions of law.

be, and not elsewhere, except in cases of marriages contracted on


the point of death or in remote places in accordance with Article 29 of

In the case at bar, Gaspar Tagadan did not institute a summary

this Code, or where both parties request the solemnizing officer in

proceeding for the declaration of his first wife's presumptive death.

writing in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or

Absent this judicial declaration, he remains married to Ida

place designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect.

Pearanda. Whether wittingly or unwittingly, it was manifest error on


the part of respondent judge to have accepted the joint affidavit

Respondent judge points to Article 8 and its exceptions as the

submitted by the groom. Such neglect or ignorance of the law has

justification for his having solemnized the marriage between Floriano

resulted in a bigamous, and therefore void, marriage. Under Article

Sumaylo and Gemma del Rosario outside of his court's jurisdiction.

35 of the Family Code, " The following marriage shall be void from

As the aforequoted provision states, a marriage can be held outside

the beginning: (4) Those bigamous . . . marriages not falling under

of the judge's chambers or courtroom only in the following instances:

Article 41."

(1) at the point of death, (2) in remote places in accordance with


Article 29 or (3) upon request of both parties in writing in a sworn

The second issue involves the solemnization of a marriage

statement to this effect. There is no pretense that either Sumaylo or

ceremony outside the court's jurisdiction, covered by Articles 7 and 8

del Rosario was at the point of death or in the remote place.

of the Family Code, thus:

Moreover, the written request presented addressed to the


respondent judge was made by only one party, Gemma del Rosario.

Art. 7. Marriage may be solemnized by :

By citing Article 8 and the exceptions therein as grounds for the


More importantly, the elementary principle underlying this provision is

exercise of his misplaced authority, respondent judge again

the authority of the solemnizing judge. Under Article 3, one of the

demonstrated a lack of understanding of the basic principles of civil

formal requisites of marriage is the "authority of the solemnizing

law.

officer." Under Article 7, marriage may be solemnized by, among


others, "any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's

Accordingly, the Court finds respondent to have acted in gross

jurisdiction." Article 8, which is a directory provision, refers only to the

ignorance of the law. The legal principles applicable in the cases

venue of the marriage ceremony and does not alter or qualify the

brought to our attention are elementary and uncomplicated,

authority of the solemnizing officer as provided in the preceding

prompting us to conclude that respondent's failure to apply them is

provision. Non-compliance herewith will not invalidate the marriage.

due to a lack of comprehension of the law.

A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local ordinary to

The judiciary should be composed of persons who, if not experts, are

marry the faithful, is authorized to do so only within the area of the

at least, proficient in the law they are sworn to apply, more than the

diocese or place allowed by his Bishop. An appellate court Justice or

ordinary laymen. They should be skilled and competent in

a Justice of this Court has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to

understanding and applying the law. It is imperative that they be

solemnize marriages, regardless of the venue, as long as the

conversant with basic legal principles like the ones involved in instant

requisites of the law are complied with. However, judges who are

case. 6 It is not too much to expect them to know and apply the law

appointed to specific jurisdictions, may officiate in weddings only

intelligently. 7 Otherwise, the system of justice rests on a shaky

within said areas and not beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a

foundation indeed, compounded by the errors committed by those

marriage outside his court's jurisdiction, there is a resultant

not learned in the law. While magistrates may at times make

irregularity in the formal requisite laid down in Article 3, which while it

mistakes in judgment, for which they are not penalized, the

may not affect the validity of the marriage, may subject the officiating

respondent judge exhibited ignorance of elementary provisions of

official to administrative liability. 5

law, in an area which has greatly prejudiced the status of married


persons.

Inasmuch as respondent judge's jurisdiction covers the municipalities


of Sta. Monica and Burgos, he was not clothed with authority to
solemnize a marriage in the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte.

The marriage between Gaspar Tagadan and Arlyn Borga is


considered bigamous and void, there being a subsisting marriage
between Gaspar Tagadan and Ida Pearanda.
The Office of the Court Administrator recommends, in its
Memorandum to the Court, a six-month suspension and a stern
warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with
more severely. Considering that one of the marriages in question
resulted in a bigamous union and therefore void, and the other
lacked the necessary authority of respondent judge, the Court adopts
said recommendation. Respondent is advised to be more
circumspect in applying the law and to cultivate a deeper
understanding of the law.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, respondent Judge Hernando C.
Domagtoy is hereby SUSPENDED for a period of six (6) months and
given a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar
acts will be dealt with more severely.
Regalado, Puno, Mendoza and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT

b. That the ceremony was attended by PACIFICO MAGHACOT who

Manila

acted as our principal sponsor and spouses RAMON DEAN and


TERESITA DEAN; . . .

FIRST DIVISION
c. That after our wedding, my husband BERNARDITO YMAN
A.M. No. 99-1211

January 28, 2000

abandoned me without any reason at all;

(Formerly OCA-IPI No. 98-471-MTJ)


d. That I smell something fishy; so what I did was I went to Calbayog
ZENAIDA S. BESO, complainant,

City and wrote the City Civil Registrar to inquire my Marriage

vs.

Contract;

Judge JUAN DAGUMAN, MCTC, Sta. Margarita-TaranganPagsanjan, Samar, respondent.

e. That to my surprise, I was informed by the Local Civil Registrar of


Calbayog City that my marriage was not registered; . . .

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
f. That upon advisement of the Local Civil Registrar; I wrote Judge
In this administrative complaint, respondent Judge stands charged

Juan Daguman, to inquire;

with Neglect of Duty and Abuse of Authority. In a Complaint-Affidavit


dated December 12, 1997, Zenaida S. Beso charged Judge Juan J.

g. That to my second surprise, I was informed by Judge Daguman

Daguman, Jr. with solemnizing marriage outside of his jurisdiction

that all the copies of the Marriage Contract were taken by Oloy

and of negligence in not retaining a copy and not registering the

(Bernardito A. Yman);

marriage contract with the office of the Local Registrar alleging


h. That not copy was retained by Judge Daguman;
a. That on August 28, 1997, I and my fiancee (sic) BERNARDITO A.
YMAN got married and our marriage was solemnized by judge (sic)

i. That I believe that the respondent judge committed acts prejudicial

Juan Daguman in his residence of J.P.R. Subdivision in Calbayog

to my interest such as:

City, Samar; . . .

1. Solemnizing our marriage outside his jurisdiction;

sponsors; third, if they failed to get married on August 28, 1997,


complainant would be out of the country for a long period and their

2. Negligence in not retaining a copy and not registering our

marriage license would lapse and necessitate another publication of

marriage before the office of the Local Civil Registrar.

notice; fourth, if the parties go beyond their plans for the scheduled
marriage, complainant feared it would complicate her employment

The Affidavit-Complaint was thereafter referred to respondent Judge

abroad; and, last, all other alternatives as to date and venue of

for comment.

marriage were considered impracticable by the parties;

In his Comment, respondent Judge averred that:

1.2. The contracting parties were ready with the desired cocuments
(sic) for a valid marriage, which respondent found all in

1. The civil marriage of complainant Zenaida Beso and Bernardito

order.1wphi1.nt

Yman had to be solemnized by respondent in Calbayog City though


outside his territory as municipal Judge of Sta. Margarita, Samar due

1.3. Complainant bride is an accredited Filipino overseas worker,

to the following and pressing circumstances:

who, respondent realized, deserved more than ordinary official


attention under present Government policy.

1.1. On August 28, 1997 respondent was physically indisposed and


unable to report to his station in Sta. Margita. In the forenoon of that

2. At the time respondent solemnized the marriage in question, he

date, without prior appointment, complainant Beso and Mr. Yman

believed in good faith that by so doing he was leaning on the side of

unexpectedly came to the residence of respondent in said City,

liberality of the law so that it may be not be too expensive and

urgently requesting the celebration of their marriage right then and

complicated for citizens to get married.

there, first, because complainants said she must leave that same
day to be able to fly from Manila for abroad as scheduled; second,

3. Another point brought up in the complaint was the failure of

that for the parties to go to another town for the marriage would be

registration of the duplicate and triplicate copies of the marriage

expensive and would entail serious problems of finding a

certificate, which failure was also occasioned by the following

solemnizing officer and another pair of witnesses or sponsors, while

circumstances beyond the control of respondent:

in fact former Undersecretary Pacifico Maghacot, Sangguniang


Panglunsod [member] Ramon Dean were already with them as

3.1. After handling to the husband the first copy of the marriage

3.4. Under the facts above stated, respondent has no other recourse

certificate, respondent left the three remaining copies on top of the

but to protect the public interest by trying all possible means to

desk in his private office where the marriage ceremonies were held,

recover custody of the missing documents in some amicable way

intending later to register the duplicate and triplicate copies and to

during the expected hearing of the above mentioned civil case in the

keep the forth (sic) in his office.

City of Marikina, failing to do which said respondent would confer


with the Civil Registrar General for possible registration of

3.2. After a few days following the wedding, respondent gathered all

reconstituted copies of said documents.

the papers relating to the said marriage but notwithstanding diligent


search in the premises and private files, all the three last copies of

The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) in an evaluation report

the certificate were missing. Promptly, respondent invited by

dated August 11, 1998 found that respondent Judge ". . . committed

subpoena . . . . Mr. Yman to shed light on the missing documents

non-feasance in office" and recommended that he be fined Five

and he said he saw complainant Beso put the copies of the marriage

Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) with a warning that the commission of

certificate in her bag during the wedding party. Unfortunately, it was

the same or future acts will be dealt with more severely pointing out

too late to contract complainant for a confirmation of Mr. Yman's

that:

claim.
As presiding judge of the MCTC Sta. Margarita Tarangnan3.3. Considering the futility of contracting complainant now that she

Pagsanjan, Samar, the authority to solemnize marriage is only

is out of the country, a reasonable conclusion can be drawn on the

limited to those municipalities under his jurisdiction. Clearly,

basis of the established facts so far in this dispute. If we believe the

Calbayog City is no longer within his area of jurisdiction.

claim of complainant that after August 28, 1997 marriage her


husband, Mr. Yman, abandoned her without any reason . . . but that

Additionally, there are only three instances, as provided by Article 8

said husband admitted "he had another girl by the name of LITA

of the Family Code, wherein a marriage may be solemnized by a

DANGUYAN" . . . it seems reasonably clear who of the two marriage

judge outside his chamber[s] or at a place other than his sala, to wit:

contracting parties probably absconded with the missing copies of


the marriage certificate.

(1) when either or both of the contracting parties is at the point of


death;

(2) when the residence of either party is located in a remote place;

to locate the duplicate and triplicate copies of the marriage


certificate, he should have exerted more effort to locate or

(3) where both of the parties request the solemnizing officer in writing

reconstitute the same. As a holder of such a sensitive position, he is

in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place

expected to be conscientious in handling official documents. His

designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect.

imputation that the missing copies of the marriage certificate were


taken by Bernardito Yman is based merely on conjectures and does

The foregoing circumstances are unavailing in the instant case.

not deserve consideration for being devoid of proof.

Moreover, as solemnizing officer, respondent Judge neglected his

After a careful and thorough examination of the evidence, the Court

duty when failed to register the marriage of complainant to

finds the evaluation report of the OCA well-taken.

Bernardito Yman.
Jimenez v. Republic1 underscores the importance of marriage as a
Such duty is entrusted upon him pursuant to Article 23 of the Family

social institution thus: "[M]arriage in this country is an institution in

Code which provides:

which the community is deeply interested. The state has surrounded


it with safeguards to maintain its purity, continuity and permanence.

It shall be the duty of the person solemnizing the marriage to furnish

The security and stability of the state are largely dependent upon it. It

either of the contracting parties the original of the marriage certificate

is the interest and duty of each and every member of the community

referred to in Article 6 and to send the duplicate and triplicate copies

to prevent the bringing about a condition that would shake its

of the certificate not later than fifteen days after the marriage, to the

foundation and untimely lead to its destruction."

local civil register of the place where the marriage was


solemnized. . . . (emphasis ours)

With regard to the solemnization of marriage, Article 7 of the Family


Code provides, among others, that

It is clearly evident from the foregoing that not only has the
respondent Judge committed non-feasance in office, he also

Art. 7. Marriage my be solemnized by:

undermined the very foundation of marriage which is the basic social


institution in our society whose nature, consequences and incidents

(1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's

are governed by law. Granting that respondent Judge indeed failed

jurisdiction; . . . (Emphasis ours)

than ordinary official attention under present Government policy."


In relation thereto, Article 8 of the same statute mandates that:

Respondent Judge further avers that in solemnizing the marriage in


question, "[h]e believed in good faith that by doing so he was leaning

Art. 8. The marriage shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers of

on the side of liberality of the law so that it may not be too expensive

the judge or in open court, in the church, chapel or temple, or in the

and complicated for citizens to get married."

office of the counsel-general, consul or vice-consul, as the case may


be, and not elsewhere, except in cases of marriages contracted at

A person presiding over a court of law must not only apply the law

the point of death or in remote places in accordance with Article 29 of

but must also live and abide by it and render justice at all times

this Code, or were both parties request the solemnizing officer in

without resorting to shortcuts clearly uncalled for.2 A judge is not only

writing in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or

bound by oath to apply the law;3 he must also be conscientious and

place designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect.

thorough in doing so.4 Certainly, judges, by the very delicate nature

(Emphasis ours)

of their office should be more circumspect in the performance of their


duties.5

As the above-quoted provision clearly states, a marriage can be held


outside the judge's chambers or courtroom only in the following

If at all, the reasons proffered by respondent Judge to justify his

instances: 1.] at the point of death; 2.] in remote places in

hurried solemnization of the marriage in this case only tends to

accordance with Article 29, or 3.] upon the request of both parties in

degrade the revered position enjoined by marriage in the hierarchy of

writing in a sworn statement to this effect.

social institutions in the country. They also betray respondent's


cavalier proclivity on its significance in our culture which is more

In this case, there is no pretense that either complainant Beso or her

disposed towards an extended period of engagement prior to

fianc Yman was at the point of death or in a remote place. Neither

marriage and frowns upon hasty, ill-advised and ill-timed marital

was there a sworn written request made by the contracting parties to

unions.

respondent Judge that the marriage be solemnized outside his


chambers or at a place other than his sala. What, in fact, appears on

An elementary regard for the sacredness of laws let alone that

record is that respondent Judge was prompted more by urgency to

enacted in order to preserve so sacrosanct an inviolable social

solemnize the marriage of Beso and Yman because complainant

institution as marriage and the stability of judicial doctrines laid

was "[a]n overseas worker, who, respondent realized deserved more

down by superior authority should have given respondent judge

pause and made him more vigilant in the exercise of his authority

likewise commanded to observance extra precautions to ensure that

and the performance of his duties as a solemnizing officer. A judge

the event is properly documented in accordance with Article 23 of the

is, furthermore, presumed to know the constitutional limits of the

Family Code which states in no uncertain terms that

authority or jurisdiction of his court.6 Thus respondent Judge should


be reminded that

Art. 23. It shall be the duty of the person solemnizing the marriage
to furnish either of the contracting parties, the original of the marriage

A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his ordinary to marry

contract referred to in Article 6 and to send the duplicate and

the faithful, is authorized to do so only within the area of the diocese

triplicate copies of the certificate not later than fifteen days after the

or place allowed by is Bishop. An appellate court justice or a Justice

marriage, to the local civil registrar of the place where the marriage

of this Court has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to solemnize

was solemnized. Proper receipts shall be issued by the local civil

marriages, regardless of the venue, as long as the requisites of the

registrar to the solemnizing officer transmitting copies of the marriage

law are complied with. However, Judges who are appointed to

certificate. The solemnizing officer shall retain in his file the

specific jurisdictions may officiate in weddings only within said areas

quadruplicate copy of the marriage certificate, the original of the

and not beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his

marriage license and, in proper cases, the affidavit of the contracting

court's jurisdiction, there is a resultant irregularity in the formal

party regarding the solemnization of the marriage in a place other

requisite laid down in Article 3, which while it may not affect the

than those mentioned in Article 8. (Emphasis supplied)

validity of the marriage, may subject the officiating official to


administrative liability.7

In view of the foregoing, we agree with the evaluation of the OCA


that respondent Judge was less than conscientious in handling

Considering that respondents Judge's jurisdiction covers the

official documents. A judge is charged with exercising extra care in

municipality of Sta. Margarita-Tarangan-Pagsanjan, Samar only, he

ensuring that the records of the cases and official documents in his

was not clothed with authority to solemnize a marriage in the City of

custody are intact. There is no justification for missing records save

Calbayog.8

fortuitous events.9 However, the records show that the loss was
occasioned by carelessness on respondent Judge's part. This Court

Furthermore, from the nature of marriage, aside from the mandate

reiterates that judges must adopt a system of record management

that a judge should exercise extra care in the exercise of his

and organize their dockets in order to bolster the prompt and efficient

authority and the performance of his duties in its solemnization, he is

dispatch of business.10 It is, in fact, incumbent upon him to devise

an efficient recording and filing system in his court because he is


after all the one directly responsible for the proper discharge of his
official functions.11
In the evaluation report, the OCA recommended that respondent
Judge be fined Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) and warned that a
repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
This Court adopts the recommendation of the OCA.1wphi1.nt
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, respondent Judge is
hereby FINED Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) and STERNLY
WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar infractions will be
dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Kapunan and Pardo, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT

b. That the ceremony was attended by PACIFICO MAGHACOT who

Manila

acted as our principal sponsor and spouses RAMON DEAN and


TERESITA DEAN; . . .

FIRST DIVISION
c. That after our wedding, my husband BERNARDITO YMAN
A.M. No. 99-1211

January 28, 2000

abandoned me without any reason at all;

(Formerly OCA-IPI No. 98-471-MTJ)


d. That I smell something fishy; so what I did was I went to Calbayog
ZENAIDA S. BESO, complainant,

City and wrote the City Civil Registrar to inquire my Marriage

vs.

Contract;

Judge JUAN DAGUMAN, MCTC, Sta. Margarita-TaranganPagsanjan, Samar, respondent.

e. That to my surprise, I was informed by the Local Civil Registrar of


Calbayog City that my marriage was not registered; . . .

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
f. That upon advisement of the Local Civil Registrar; I wrote Judge
In this administrative complaint, respondent Judge stands charged

Juan Daguman, to inquire;

with Neglect of Duty and Abuse of Authority. In a Complaint-Affidavit


dated December 12, 1997, Zenaida S. Beso charged Judge Juan J.

g. That to my second surprise, I was informed by Judge Daguman

Daguman, Jr. with solemnizing marriage outside of his jurisdiction

that all the copies of the Marriage Contract were taken by Oloy

and of negligence in not retaining a copy and not registering the

(Bernardito A. Yman);

marriage contract with the office of the Local Registrar alleging


h. That not copy was retained by Judge Daguman;
a. That on August 28, 1997, I and my fiancee (sic) BERNARDITO A.
YMAN got married and our marriage was solemnized by judge (sic)

i. That I believe that the respondent judge committed acts prejudicial

Juan Daguman in his residence of J.P.R. Subdivision in Calbayog

to my interest such as:

City, Samar; . . .

1. Solemnizing our marriage outside his jurisdiction;

sponsors; third, if they failed to get married on August 28, 1997,


complainant would be out of the country for a long period and their

2. Negligence in not retaining a copy and not registering our

marriage license would lapse and necessitate another publication of

marriage before the office of the Local Civil Registrar.

notice; fourth, if the parties go beyond their plans for the scheduled
marriage, complainant feared it would complicate her employment

The Affidavit-Complaint was thereafter referred to respondent Judge

abroad; and, last, all other alternatives as to date and venue of

for comment.

marriage were considered impracticable by the parties;

In his Comment, respondent Judge averred that:

1.2. The contracting parties were ready with the desired cocuments
(sic) for a valid marriage, which respondent found all in

1. The civil marriage of complainant Zenaida Beso and Bernardito

order.1wphi1.nt

Yman had to be solemnized by respondent in Calbayog City though


outside his territory as municipal Judge of Sta. Margarita, Samar due

1.3. Complainant bride is an accredited Filipino overseas worker,

to the following and pressing circumstances:

who, respondent realized, deserved more than ordinary official


attention under present Government policy.

1.1. On August 28, 1997 respondent was physically indisposed and


unable to report to his station in Sta. Margita. In the forenoon of that

2. At the time respondent solemnized the marriage in question, he

date, without prior appointment, complainant Beso and Mr. Yman

believed in good faith that by so doing he was leaning on the side of

unexpectedly came to the residence of respondent in said City,

liberality of the law so that it may be not be too expensive and

urgently requesting the celebration of their marriage right then and

complicated for citizens to get married.

there, first, because complainants said she must leave that same
day to be able to fly from Manila for abroad as scheduled; second,

3. Another point brought up in the complaint was the failure of

that for the parties to go to another town for the marriage would be

registration of the duplicate and triplicate copies of the marriage

expensive and would entail serious problems of finding a

certificate, which failure was also occasioned by the following

solemnizing officer and another pair of witnesses or sponsors, while

circumstances beyond the control of respondent:

in fact former Undersecretary Pacifico Maghacot, Sangguniang


Panglunsod [member] Ramon Dean were already with them as

3.1. After handling to the husband the first copy of the marriage

3.4. Under the facts above stated, respondent has no other recourse

certificate, respondent left the three remaining copies on top of the

but to protect the public interest by trying all possible means to

desk in his private office where the marriage ceremonies were held,

recover custody of the missing documents in some amicable way

intending later to register the duplicate and triplicate copies and to

during the expected hearing of the above mentioned civil case in the

keep the forth (sic) in his office.

City of Marikina, failing to do which said respondent would confer


with the Civil Registrar General for possible registration of

3.2. After a few days following the wedding, respondent gathered all

reconstituted copies of said documents.

the papers relating to the said marriage but notwithstanding diligent


search in the premises and private files, all the three last copies of

The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) in an evaluation report

the certificate were missing. Promptly, respondent invited by

dated August 11, 1998 found that respondent Judge ". . . committed

subpoena . . . . Mr. Yman to shed light on the missing documents

non-feasance in office" and recommended that he be fined Five

and he said he saw complainant Beso put the copies of the marriage

Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) with a warning that the commission of

certificate in her bag during the wedding party. Unfortunately, it was

the same or future acts will be dealt with more severely pointing out

too late to contract complainant for a confirmation of Mr. Yman's

that:

claim.
As presiding judge of the MCTC Sta. Margarita Tarangnan3.3. Considering the futility of contracting complainant now that she

Pagsanjan, Samar, the authority to solemnize marriage is only

is out of the country, a reasonable conclusion can be drawn on the

limited to those municipalities under his jurisdiction. Clearly,

basis of the established facts so far in this dispute. If we believe the

Calbayog City is no longer within his area of jurisdiction.

claim of complainant that after August 28, 1997 marriage her


husband, Mr. Yman, abandoned her without any reason . . . but that

Additionally, there are only three instances, as provided by Article 8

said husband admitted "he had another girl by the name of LITA

of the Family Code, wherein a marriage may be solemnized by a

DANGUYAN" . . . it seems reasonably clear who of the two marriage

judge outside his chamber[s] or at a place other than his sala, to wit:

contracting parties probably absconded with the missing copies of


the marriage certificate.

(1) when either or both of the contracting parties is at the point of


death;

(2) when the residence of either party is located in a remote place;

to locate the duplicate and triplicate copies of the marriage


certificate, he should have exerted more effort to locate or

(3) where both of the parties request the solemnizing officer in writing

reconstitute the same. As a holder of such a sensitive position, he is

in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place

expected to be conscientious in handling official documents. His

designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect.

imputation that the missing copies of the marriage certificate were


taken by Bernardito Yman is based merely on conjectures and does

The foregoing circumstances are unavailing in the instant case.

not deserve consideration for being devoid of proof.

Moreover, as solemnizing officer, respondent Judge neglected his

After a careful and thorough examination of the evidence, the Court

duty when failed to register the marriage of complainant to

finds the evaluation report of the OCA well-taken.

Bernardito Yman.
Jimenez v. Republic1 underscores the importance of marriage as a
Such duty is entrusted upon him pursuant to Article 23 of the Family

social institution thus: "[M]arriage in this country is an institution in

Code which provides:

which the community is deeply interested. The state has surrounded


it with safeguards to maintain its purity, continuity and permanence.

It shall be the duty of the person solemnizing the marriage to furnish

The security and stability of the state are largely dependent upon it. It

either of the contracting parties the original of the marriage certificate

is the interest and duty of each and every member of the community

referred to in Article 6 and to send the duplicate and triplicate copies

to prevent the bringing about a condition that would shake its

of the certificate not later than fifteen days after the marriage, to the

foundation and untimely lead to its destruction."

local civil register of the place where the marriage was


solemnized. . . . (emphasis ours)

With regard to the solemnization of marriage, Article 7 of the Family


Code provides, among others, that

It is clearly evident from the foregoing that not only has the
respondent Judge committed non-feasance in office, he also

Art. 7. Marriage my be solemnized by:

undermined the very foundation of marriage which is the basic social


institution in our society whose nature, consequences and incidents

(1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's

are governed by law. Granting that respondent Judge indeed failed

jurisdiction; . . . (Emphasis ours)

than ordinary official attention under present Government policy."


In relation thereto, Article 8 of the same statute mandates that:

Respondent Judge further avers that in solemnizing the marriage in


question, "[h]e believed in good faith that by doing so he was leaning

Art. 8. The marriage shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers of

on the side of liberality of the law so that it may not be too expensive

the judge or in open court, in the church, chapel or temple, or in the

and complicated for citizens to get married."

office of the counsel-general, consul or vice-consul, as the case may


be, and not elsewhere, except in cases of marriages contracted at

A person presiding over a court of law must not only apply the law

the point of death or in remote places in accordance with Article 29 of

but must also live and abide by it and render justice at all times

this Code, or were both parties request the solemnizing officer in

without resorting to shortcuts clearly uncalled for.2 A judge is not only

writing in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or

bound by oath to apply the law;3 he must also be conscientious and

place designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect.

thorough in doing so.4 Certainly, judges, by the very delicate nature

(Emphasis ours)

of their office should be more circumspect in the performance of their


duties.5

As the above-quoted provision clearly states, a marriage can be held


outside the judge's chambers or courtroom only in the following

If at all, the reasons proffered by respondent Judge to justify his

instances: 1.] at the point of death; 2.] in remote places in

hurried solemnization of the marriage in this case only tends to

accordance with Article 29, or 3.] upon the request of both parties in

degrade the revered position enjoined by marriage in the hierarchy of

writing in a sworn statement to this effect.

social institutions in the country. They also betray respondent's


cavalier proclivity on its significance in our culture which is more

In this case, there is no pretense that either complainant Beso or her

disposed towards an extended period of engagement prior to

fianc Yman was at the point of death or in a remote place. Neither

marriage and frowns upon hasty, ill-advised and ill-timed marital

was there a sworn written request made by the contracting parties to

unions.

respondent Judge that the marriage be solemnized outside his


chambers or at a place other than his sala. What, in fact, appears on

An elementary regard for the sacredness of laws let alone that

record is that respondent Judge was prompted more by urgency to

enacted in order to preserve so sacrosanct an inviolable social

solemnize the marriage of Beso and Yman because complainant

institution as marriage and the stability of judicial doctrines laid

was "[a]n overseas worker, who, respondent realized deserved more

down by superior authority should have given respondent judge

pause and made him more vigilant in the exercise of his authority

likewise commanded to observance extra precautions to ensure that

and the performance of his duties as a solemnizing officer. A judge

the event is properly documented in accordance with Article 23 of the

is, furthermore, presumed to know the constitutional limits of the

Family Code which states in no uncertain terms that

authority or jurisdiction of his court.6 Thus respondent Judge should


be reminded that

Art. 23. It shall be the duty of the person solemnizing the marriage
to furnish either of the contracting parties, the original of the marriage

A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his ordinary to marry

contract referred to in Article 6 and to send the duplicate and

the faithful, is authorized to do so only within the area of the diocese

triplicate copies of the certificate not later than fifteen days after the

or place allowed by is Bishop. An appellate court justice or a Justice

marriage, to the local civil registrar of the place where the marriage

of this Court has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to solemnize

was solemnized. Proper receipts shall be issued by the local civil

marriages, regardless of the venue, as long as the requisites of the

registrar to the solemnizing officer transmitting copies of the marriage

law are complied with. However, Judges who are appointed to

certificate. The solemnizing officer shall retain in his file the

specific jurisdictions may officiate in weddings only within said areas

quadruplicate copy of the marriage certificate, the original of the

and not beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his

marriage license and, in proper cases, the affidavit of the contracting

court's jurisdiction, there is a resultant irregularity in the formal

party regarding the solemnization of the marriage in a place other

requisite laid down in Article 3, which while it may not affect the

than those mentioned in Article 8. (Emphasis supplied)

validity of the marriage, may subject the officiating official to


administrative liability.7

In view of the foregoing, we agree with the evaluation of the OCA


that respondent Judge was less than conscientious in handling

Considering that respondents Judge's jurisdiction covers the

official documents. A judge is charged with exercising extra care in

municipality of Sta. Margarita-Tarangan-Pagsanjan, Samar only, he

ensuring that the records of the cases and official documents in his

was not clothed with authority to solemnize a marriage in the City of

custody are intact. There is no justification for missing records save

Calbayog.8

fortuitous events.9 However, the records show that the loss was
occasioned by carelessness on respondent Judge's part. This Court

Furthermore, from the nature of marriage, aside from the mandate

reiterates that judges must adopt a system of record management

that a judge should exercise extra care in the exercise of his

and organize their dockets in order to bolster the prompt and efficient

authority and the performance of his duties in its solemnization, he is

dispatch of business.10 It is, in fact, incumbent upon him to devise

an efficient recording and filing system in his court because he is


after all the one directly responsible for the proper discharge of his
official functions.11
In the evaluation report, the OCA recommended that respondent
Judge be fined Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) and warned that a
repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
This Court adopts the recommendation of the OCA.1wphi1.nt
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, respondent Judge is
hereby FINED Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) and STERNLY
WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar infractions will be
dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Kapunan and Pardo, JJ., concur.

2011 denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The RTC


Republic of the Philippines

dismissed the petition for "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment

SUPREME COURT

(or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)" based on improper venue

Manila

and the lack of personality of petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to file the


petition.

SECOND DIVISION
The Facts
G.R. No. 196049

June 26, 2013


Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married

MINORU FUJIKI, PETITIONER,

respondent Maria Paz Galela Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines2

vs.

on 23 January 2004. The marriage did not sit well with petitioners

MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL

parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his wife to Japan where he

CIVIL REGISTRAR OF QUEZON CITY, AND THE

resides. Eventually, they lost contact with each other.

ADMINISTRATOR AND CIVIL REGISTRAR GENERAL OF THE


NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE, RESPONDENTS.

In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara


(Maekara). Without the first marriage being dissolved, Marinay and

DECISION

Maekara were married on 15 May 2008 in Quezon City, Philippines.


Maekara brought Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay allegedly

CARPIO, J.:

suffered physical abuse from Maekara. She left Maekara and started
to contact Fujiki.3

The Case
Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish
This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial Court

their relationship. In 2010, Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a judgment

(RTC), Branch 107, Quezon City, through a petition for review on

from a family court in Japan which declared the marriage between

certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on a pure question of

Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of bigamy.4 On 14 January

law. The petition assails the Order1 dated 31 January 2011 of the

2011, Fujiki filed a petition in the RTC entitled: "Judicial Recognition

RTC in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 and its Resolution dated 2 March

of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)."

Fujiki prayed that (1) the Japanese Family Court judgment be

residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing, or in the

recognized; (2) that the bigamous marriage between Marinay and

case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in the

Maekara be declared void ab initio under Articles 35(4) and 41 of the

Philippines, at the election of the petitioner. x x x

Family Code of the Philippines;5 and (3) for the RTC to direct the
Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City to annotate the Japanese Family

The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in

Court judgment on the Certificate of Marriage between Marinay and

"gross violation" of the above provisions. The trial court based its

Maekara and to endorse such annotation to the Office of the

dismissal on Section 5(4) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which provides

Administrator and Civil Registrar General in the National Statistics

that "[f]ailure to comply with any of the preceding requirements may

Office (NSO).6

be a ground for immediate dismissal of the petition."8 Apparently, the


RTC took the view that only "the husband or the wife," in this case

The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

either Maekara or Marinay, can file the petition to declare their


marriage void, and not Fujiki.

A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately issued
an Order dismissing the petition and withdrawing the case from its

Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M.

active civil docket.7 The RTC cited the following provisions of the

No. 02-11-10-SC contemplated ordinary civil actions for declaration

Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and

of nullity and annulment of marriage. Thus, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC

Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC):

does not apply. A petition for recognition of foreign judgment is a


special proceeding, which "seeks to establish a status, a right or a

Sec. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.

particular fact,"9 and not a civil action which is "for the enforcement
or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong."10 In

(a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void

other words, the petition in the RTC sought to establish (1) the status

marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife.

and concomitant rights of Fujiki and Marinay as husband and wife


and (2) the fact of the rendition of the Japanese Family Court

xxxx

judgment declaring the marriage between Marinay and Maekara as


void on the ground of bigamy. The petitioner contended that the

Sec. 4. Venue. The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the
province or city where the petitioner or the respondent has been

Japanese judgment was consistent with Article 35(4) of the Family

Code of the Philippines11 on bigamy and was therefore entitled to

annotate the judgment of the Japanese Family Court on the

recognition by Philippine courts.12

certificate of marriage between Marinay and Maekara.

In any case, it was also Fujikis view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC

Fujikis motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that the

applied only to void marriages under Article 36 of the Family Code on

trial court "gravely erred" when, on its own, it dismissed the petition

the ground of psychological incapacity.13 Thus, Section 2(a) of A.M.

based on improper venue. Fujiki stated that the RTC may be

No. 02-11-10-SC provides that "a petition for declaration of absolute

confusing the concept of venue with the concept of jurisdiction,

nullity of void marriages may be filed solely by the husband or the

because it is lack of jurisdiction which allows a court to dismiss a

wife." To apply Section 2(a) in bigamy would be absurd because only

case on its own. Fujiki cited Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate

the guilty parties would be permitted to sue. In the words of Fujiki,

Court19 which held that the "trial court cannot pre-empt the

"[i]t is not, of course, difficult to realize that the party interested in

defendants prerogative to object to the improper laying of the venue

having a bigamous marriage declared a nullity would be the husband

by motu proprio dismissing the case."20 Moreover, petitioner alleged

in the prior, pre-existing marriage."14 Fujiki had material interest and

that the trial court should not have "immediately dismissed" the

therefore the personality to nullify a bigamous marriage.

petition under Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC because he


substantially complied with the provision.

Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in


the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court is applicable. Rule 108 is the
"procedural implementation" of the Civil Register Law (Act No.

On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioners motion for

3753)15 in relation to Article 413 of the Civil Code.16 The Civil

reconsideration. In its Resolution, the RTC stated that A.M. No. 02-

Register Law imposes a duty on the "successful petitioner for divorce

11-10-SC applies because the petitioner, in effect, prays for a decree

or annulment of marriage to send a copy of the final decree of the

of absolute nullity of marriage.21 The trial court reiterated its two

court to the local registrar of the municipality where the dissolved or

grounds for dismissal, i.e. lack of personality to sue and improper

annulled marriage was solemnized."17 Section 2 of Rule 108

venue under Sections 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. The RTC

provides that entries in the civil registry relating to "marriages,"

considered Fujiki as a "third person"22 in the proceeding because he

"judgments of annulments of marriage" and "judgments declaring

"is not the husband in the decree of divorce issued by the Japanese

marriages void from the beginning" are subject to cancellation or

Family Court, which he now seeks to be judicially recognized, x x

correction.18 The petition in the RTC sought (among others) to

x."23 On the other hand, the RTC did not explain its ground of

impropriety of venue. It only said that "[a]lthough the Court cited Sec.

On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their

4 (Venue) x x x as a ground for dismissal of this case[,] it should be

comment on the petition for review.30 The public respondents, the

taken together with the other ground cited by the Court x x x which is

Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the Administrator and Civil

Sec. 2(a) x x x."24

Registrar General of the NSO, participated through the Office of the


Solicitor General. Instead of a comment, the Solicitor General filed a

The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition

Manifestation and Motion.31

based on Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City,


Negros Occidental.25 The Court in Braza ruled that "[i]n a special

The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the

proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or

RTCs "pronouncement that the petitioner failed to comply with x x x

Correction of Entries in the Original Registry), the trial court has no

A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC x x x be set aside" and that the case be

jurisdiction to nullify marriages x x x."26 Braza emphasized that the

reinstated in the trial court for further proceedings.32 The Solicitor

"validity of marriages as well as legitimacy and filiation can be

General argued that Fujiki, as the spouse of the first marriage, is an

questioned only in a direct action seasonably filed by the proper

injured party who can sue to declare the bigamous marriage

party, and not through a collateral attack such as [a] petition [for

between Marinay and Maekara void. The Solicitor General cited

correction of entry] x x x."27

Juliano-Llave v. Republic33 which held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No.


02-11-10-SC does not apply in cases of bigamy. In Juliano-Llave, this

The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the validity

Court explained:

of marriage between Marinay and Maekara. The trial court held that
this is a "jurisdictional ground" to dismiss the petition.28 Moreover,

[t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or

the verification and certification against forum shopping of the

she had only discovered during the connubial period that the

petition was not authenticated as required under Section 529 of A.M.

marriage was bigamous, and especially if the conjugal bliss had

No. 02-11-10-SC. Hence, this also warranted the "immediate

already vanished. Should parties in a subsequent marriage benefit

dismissal" of the petition under the same provision.

from the bigamous marriage, it would not be expected that they


would file an action to declare the marriage void and thus, in such

The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor General

circumstance, the "injured spouse" who should be given a legal

and the Letters of Marinay and Maekara

remedy is the one in a subsisting previous marriage. The latter is


clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only

threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior

Moreover, the Solicitor General argued that there is no jurisdictional

marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior

infirmity in assailing a void marriage under Rule 108, citing De

spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be a reminder of the

Castro v. De Castro39 and Nial v. Bayadog40 which declared that

infidelity of the spouse and the disregard of the prior marriage which

"[t]he validity of a void marriage may be collaterally attacked."41

sanctity is protected by the Constitution.34


Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to comply
The Solicitor General contended that the petition to recognize the

with the directive for them to comment on the petition.42 Maekara

Japanese Family Court judgment may be made in a Rule 108

wrote that Marinay concealed from him the fact that she was

proceeding.35 In Corpuz v. Santo Tomas,36 this Court held that

previously married to Fujiki.43 Maekara also denied that he inflicted

"[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a

any form of violence on Marinay.44 On the other hand, Marinay

Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings

wrote that she had no reason to oppose the petition.45 She would

(such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to

like to maintain her silence for fear that anything she say might

establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact."37 While

cause misunderstanding between her and Fujiki.46

Corpuz concerned a foreign divorce decree, in the present case the


Japanese Family Court judgment also affected the civil status of the

The Issues

parties, especially Marinay, who is a Filipino citizen.


Petitioner raises the following legal issues:
The Solicitor General asserted that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is
the procedure to record "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees

(1) Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void

concerning the civil status of persons" in the civil registry as required

Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-

by Article 407 of the Civil Code. In other words, "[t]he law requires

SC) is applicable.

the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal
consequences upon a persons legal capacity and status x x x."38

(2) Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition

The Japanese Family Court judgment directly bears on the civil

to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage

status of a Filipino citizen and should therefore be proven as a fact in

between his or her spouse and a foreign citizen on the ground of

a Rule 108 proceeding.

bigamy.

(3) Whether the Regional Trial Court can recognize the foreign

certification or copy attested by the officer who has custody of the

judgment in a proceeding for cancellation or correction of entries in

judgment. If the office which has custody is in a foreign country such

the Civil Registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.

as Japan, the certification may be made by the proper diplomatic or


consular officer of the Philippine foreign service in Japan and

The Ruling of the Court

authenticated by the seal of office.50

We grant the petition.

To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for


recognition of foreign judgment would mean that the trial court and

The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and

the parties should follow its provisions, including the form and

Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not

contents of the petition,51 the service of summons,52 the

apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the

investigation of the public prosecutor,53 the setting of pre-trial,54 the

status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign

trial55 and the judgment of the trial court.56 This is absurd because it

country. Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v. Republic,47 this Court held

will litigate the case anew. It will defeat the purpose of recognizing

that the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the husband or wife

foreign judgments, which is "to limit repetitive litigation on claims and

can file a declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage "does not

issues."57 The interpretation of the RTC is tantamount to relitigating

apply if the reason behind the petition is bigamy."48

the case on the merits. In Mijares v. Raada,58 this Court explained


that "[i]f every judgment of a foreign court were reviewable on the

I.

merits, the plaintiff would be forced back on his/her original cause of


action, rendering immaterial the previously concluded litigation."59

For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the


status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign

A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the civil

country, the petitioner only needs to prove the foreign judgment as a

status, condition and legal capacity of its parties. However, the effect

fact under the Rules of Court. To be more specific, a copy of the

of a foreign judgment is not automatic. To extend the effect of a

foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact

foreign judgment in the Philippines, Philippine courts must determine

under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section

if the foreign judgment is consistent with domestic public policy and

48(b) of the Rules of Court.49 Petitioner may prove the Japanese

other mandatory laws.60 Article 15 of the Civil Code provides that

Family Court judgment through (1) an official publication or (2) a

"[l]aws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition

and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the

judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine court, it can only be

Philippines, even though living abroad." This is the rule of lex

repelled on grounds external to its merits, i.e. , "want of jurisdiction,

nationalii in private international law. Thus, the Philippine State may

want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or

require, for effectivity in the Philippines, recognition by Philippine

fact." The rule on limited review embodies the policy of efficiency and

courts of a foreign judgment affecting its citizen, over whom it

the protection of party expectations,61 as well as respecting the

exercises personal jurisdiction relating to the status, condition and

jurisdiction of other states.62

legal capacity of such citizen.


Since 1922 in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,63 Philippine courts have
A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void

recognized foreign divorce decrees between a Filipino and a foreign

does not require relitigation under a Philippine court of the case as if

citizen if they are successfully proven under the rules of evidence.64

it were a new petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. Philippine

Divorce involves the dissolution of a marriage, but the recognition of

courts cannot presume to know the foreign laws under which the

a foreign divorce decree does not involve the extended procedure

foreign judgment was rendered. They cannot substitute their

under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the rules of ordinary trial. While the

judgment on the status, condition and legal capacity of the foreign

Philippines does not have a divorce law, Philippine courts may,

citizen who is under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine

however, recognize a foreign divorce decree under the second

courts can only recognize the foreign judgment as a fact according to

paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, to capacitate a Filipino

the rules of evidence.

citizen to remarry when his or her foreign spouse obtained a divorce


decree abroad.65

Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign


judgment or final order against a person creates a "presumptive

There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a

evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in

fact the Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage

interest by a subsequent title." Moreover, Section 48 of the Rules of

between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy. While the

Court states that "the judgment or final order may be repelled by

Philippines has no divorce law, the Japanese Family Court judgment

evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party,

is fully consistent with Philippine public policy, as bigamous

collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." Thus, Philippine

marriages are declared void from the beginning under Article 35(4) of

courts exercise limited review on foreign judgments. Courts are not

the Family Code. Bigamy is a crime under Article 349 of the Revised

allowed to delve into the merits of a foreign judgment. Once a foreign

Penal Code. Thus, Fujiki can prove the existence of the Japanese

Family Court judgment in accordance with Rule 132, Sections 24

Regional Trial Court of the province where the corresponding civil

and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.

registry is located. (Emphasis supplied)

II.

Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese


Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and

Since the recognition of a foreign judgment only requires proof of fact

Maekara on the ground of bigamy because the judgment concerns

of the judgment, it may be made in a special proceeding for

his civil status as married to Marinay. For the same reason he has

cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry under Rule

the personality to file a petition under Rule 108 to cancel the entry of

108 of the Rules of Court. Rule 1, Section 3 of the Rules of Court

marriage between Marinay and Maekara in the civil registry on the

provides that "[a] special proceeding is a remedy by which a party

basis of the decree of the Japanese Family Court.

seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact." Rule 108


creates a remedy to rectify facts of a persons life which are recorded

There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material

by the State pursuant to the Civil Register Law or Act No. 3753.

interest in maintaining the integrity of the marriage he contracted and

These are facts of public consequence such as birth, death or

the property relations arising from it. There is also no doubt that he is

marriage,66 which the State has an interest in recording. As noted by

interested in the cancellation of an entry of a bigamous marriage in

the Solicitor General, in Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas this Court declared

the civil registry, which compromises the public record of his

that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a

marriage. The interest derives from the substantive right of the

Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings

spouse not only to preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances68) his

(such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to

most intimate human relation, but also to protect his property

establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact."67

interests that arise by operation of law the moment he contracts


marriage.69 These property interests in marriage include the right to

Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states:

be supported "in keeping with the financial capacity of the family"70


and preserving the property regime of the marriage.71

Sec. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act,
event, order or decree concerning the civil status of persons which

Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the

has been recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for

Constitution,72 but a spouses right in a marriage extends further to

the cancellation or correction of any entry relating thereto, with the

relational rights recognized under Title III ("Rights and Obligations

between Husband and Wife") of the Family Code.73 A.M. No. 02-11-

personality to sue on the husband or the wife of a subsisting

10-SC cannot "diminish, increase, or modify" the substantive right of

marriage. The prior spouse does not only share in the public interest

the spouse to maintain the integrity of his marriage.74 In any case,

of prosecuting and preventing crimes, he is also personally

Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC preserves this substantive right

interested in the purely civil aspect of protecting his marriage.

by limiting the personality to sue to the husband or the wife of the


union recognized by law.

When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated, the
spouse is clearly an injured party and is therefore interested in the

Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse of

judgment of the suit.79 Juliano-Llave ruled that the prior spouse "is

a subsisting marriage to question the validity of a subsequent

clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only

marriage on the ground of bigamy. On the contrary, when Section

threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior

2(a) states that "[a] petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void

marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior

marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife"75it refers

spouse."80 Being a real party in interest, the prior spouse is entitled

to the husband or the wife of the subsisting marriage. Under Article

to sue in order to declare a bigamous marriage void. For this

35(4) of the Family Code, bigamous marriages are void from the

purpose, he can petition a court to recognize a foreign judgment

beginning. Thus, the parties in a bigamous marriage are neither the

nullifying the bigamous marriage and judicially declare as a fact that

husband nor the wife under the law. The husband or the wife of the

such judgment is effective in the Philippines. Once established, there

prior subsisting marriage is the one who has the personality to file a

should be no more impediment to cancel the entry of the bigamous

petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage under

marriage in the civil registry.

Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.


III.
Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous marriages
void from the beginning, is the civil aspect of Article 349 of the

In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros

Revised Penal Code,76 which penalizes bigamy. Bigamy is a public

Occidental, this Court held that a "trial court has no jurisdiction to

crime. Thus, anyone can initiate prosecution for bigamy because any

nullify marriages" in a special proceeding for cancellation or

citizen has an interest in the prosecution and prevention of crimes.77

correction of entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.81 Thus, the

If anyone can file a criminal action which leads to the declaration of

"validity of marriage[] x x x can be questioned only in a direct action"

nullity of a bigamous marriage,78 there is more reason to confer

to nullify the marriage.82 The RTC relied on Braza in dismissing the

petition for recognition of foreign judgment as a collateral attack on

foreign judgment annulling a marriage where one of the parties is a

the marriage between Marinay and Maekara.

citizen of the foreign country. There is neither circumvention of the


substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under Philippine

Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a recognition

law, nor of the jurisdiction of Family Courts under R.A. No. 8369. A

of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage where one of

recognition of a foreign judgment is not an action to nullify a

the parties is a citizen of the foreign country.

marriage. It is an action for Philippine courts to recognize the


effectivity of a foreign judgment, which presupposes a case which

To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the

was already tried and decided under foreign law. The procedure in

civil registry cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage.

A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in a petition to recognize a

A direct action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the

foreign judgment annulling a bigamous marriage where one of the

substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family

parties is a citizen of the foreign country. Neither can R.A. No. 8369

Code, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these

define the jurisdiction of the foreign court.

safeguards are the requirement of proving the limited grounds for the
dissolution of marriage,83 support pendente lite of the spouses and

Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts

children,84 the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties

to extend the effect of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse

of the spouses,85 and the investigation of the public prosecutor to

without undergoing trial to determine the validity of the dissolution of

determine collusion.86 A direct action for declaration of nullity or

the marriage. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code

annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent circumvention of

provides that "[w]here a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a

the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Family Courts Act of

foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly

1997 (Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or

obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to

correction of entries in the civil registry may be filed in the Regional

remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under

Trial Court "where the corresponding civil registry is located."87 In

Philippine law." In Republic v. Orbecido,88 this Court recognized the

other words, a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the

legislative intent of the second paragraph of Article 26 which is "to

mere expedient of changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.

avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married
to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer

However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or

married to the Filipino spouse"89 under the laws of his or her

cancellation of a civil registry entry based on the recognition of a

country. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code only

authorizes Philippine courts to adopt the effects of a foreign divorce

discriminatedthe foreign spouse can remarry while the Filipino

decree precisely because the Philippines does not allow divorce.

spouse cannot remarry.

Philippine courts cannot try the case on the merits because it is


tantamount to trying a case for divorce.

Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,


Philippine courts are empowered to correct a situation where the

The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure to

Filipino spouse is still tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is

address the anomaly that results from a marriage between a Filipino,

free to marry. Moreover, notwithstanding Article 26 of the Family

whose laws do not allow divorce, and a foreign citizen, whose laws

Code, Philippine courts already have jurisdiction to extend the effect

allow divorce. The anomaly consists in the Filipino spouse being tied

of a foreign judgment in the Philippines to the extent that the foreign

to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the

judgment does not contravene domestic public policy. A critical

laws of his or her country. The correction is made by extending in the

difference between the case of a foreign divorce decree and a

Philippines the effect of the foreign divorce decree, which is already

foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is that bigamy, as a

effective in the country where it was rendered. The second

ground for the nullity of marriage, is fully consistent with Philippine

paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is based on this Courts

public policy as expressed in Article 35(4) of the Family Code and

decision in Van Dorn v. Romillo90 which declared that the Filipino

Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The Filipino spouse has the

spouse "should not be discriminated against in her own country if the

option to undergo full trial by filing a petition for declaration of nullity

ends of justice are to be served."91

of marriage under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only
remedy available to him or her. Philippine courts have jurisdiction to

The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a marriage

recognize a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage, without

between a Filipino and a foreign citizen who obtains a foreign

prejudice to a criminal prosecution for bigamy.

judgment nullifying the marriage on the ground of bigamy. The


Filipino spouse may file a petition abroad to declare the marriage

In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are

void on the ground of bigamy. The principle in the second paragraph

incompetent to substitute their judgment on how a case was decided

of Article 26 of the Family Code applies because the foreign spouse,

under foreign law. They cannot decide on the "family rights and

after the foreign judgment nullifying the marriage, is capacitated to

duties, or on the status, condition and legal capacity" of the foreign

remarry under the laws of his or her country. If the foreign judgment

citizen who is a party to the foreign judgment. Thus, Philippine courts

is not recognized in the Philippines, the Filipino spouse will be

are limited to the question of whether to extend the effect of a foreign

judgment in the Philippines. In a foreign judgment relating to the

349 of the Revised Penal Code.93 The recognition of a foreign

status of a marriage involving a citizen of a foreign country, Philippine

judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is not a ground for

courts only decide whether to extend its effect to the Filipino party,

extinction of criminal liability under Articles 89 and 94 of the Revised

under the rule of lex nationalii expressed in Article 15 of the Civil

Penal Code. Moreover, under Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code,

Code.

"[t]he term of prescription [of the crime of bigamy] shall not run when
the offender is absent from the Philippine archipelago."

For this purpose, Philippine courts will only determine (1) whether
the foreign judgment is inconsistent with an overriding public policy in

Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is inapplicable, the Court no longer sees

the Philippines; and (2) whether any alleging party is able to prove

the need to address the questions on venue and the contents and

an extrinsic ground to repel the foreign judgment, i.e. want of

form of the petition under Sections 4 and 5, respectively, of A.M. No.

jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear

02-11-10-SC.

mistake of law or fact. If there is neither inconsistency with public


policy nor adequate proof to repel the judgment, Philippine courts

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Order dated 31 January

should, by default, recognize the foreign judgment as part of the

2011 and the Resolution dated 2 March 2011 of the Regional Trial

comity of nations. Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court states

Court, Branch 107, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 are

that the foreign judgment is already "presumptive evidence of a right

REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED

between the parties." Upon recognition of the foreign judgment, this

to REINSTATE the petition for further proceedings in accordance

right becomes conclusive and the judgment serves as the basis for

with this Decision.

the correction or cancellation of entry in the civil registry. The


recognition of the foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is

SO ORDERED.

a subsequent event that establishes a new status, right and fact92


that needs to be reflected in the civil registry. Otherwise, there will be
an inconsistency between the recognition of the effectivity of the
foreign judgment and the public records in the Philippines.1wphi1
However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous
marriage is without prejudice to prosecution for bigamy under Article

Brion, Del Castillo, Perez, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.

Goo-Abbas (Gloria) with the RTC of Pasay City, docketed as Civil


Republic of the Philippines

Case No. 03-0382-CFM, and raffled to RTC Branch 109. Syed

SUPREME COURT

alleged the absence of a marriage license, as provided for in Article

Manila

4, Chapter I, Title 1 of Executive Order No. 269, otherwise known as


the Family Code of the Philippines, as a ground for the annulment of

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 183896

his marriage to Gloria.


January 30, 2013

In the Marriage Contract3 of Gloria and Syed, it is stated that


Marriage License No. 9969967, issued at Carmona, Cavite on

SYED AZHAR ABBAS, Petitioner,

January 8, 1993, was presented to the solemnizing officer. It is this

vs.

information that is crucial to the resolution of this case.

GLORIA GOO ABBAS, Respondent.


At the trial court, Syed, a Pakistani citizen, testified that he met
DECISION

Gloria, a Filipino citizen, in Taiwan in 1991, and they were married on


August 9, 1992 at the Taipei Mosque in Taiwan.4 He arrived in the

VELASCO, JR., J.:

Philippines in December of 1992. On January 9, 1993, at around 5


oclock in the afternoon, he was at his mother-in-laws residence,

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997

located at 2676 F. Muoz St., Malate, Manila, when his mother-in-law

Rules of Civil Procedure, questioning the Decision1 of the Court of

arrived with two men. He testified that he was told that he was going

Appeals (CA) dated March 11, 2008 in CA-G.R. CV No. 86760,

to undergo some ceremony, one of the requirements for his stay in

which reversed the Decision2 in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM dated

the Philippines, but was not told of the nature of said ceremony.

October 5, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 109,

During the ceremony he and Gloria signed a document. He claimed

Pasay City, and the CA Resolution dated July 24, 2008, denying

that he did not know that the ceremony was a marriage until Gloria

petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of the CA Decision.

told him later. He further testified that he did not go to Carmona,


Cavite to apply for a marriage license, and that he had never resided

The present case stems from a petition filed by petitioner Syed Azhar

in that area. In July of 2003, he went to the Office of the Civil

Abbas (Syed) for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Gloria

Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, to check on their marriage license,

and was asked to show a copy of their marriage contract wherein the

whether or not there was a marriage license on advice of his

marriage license number could be found.5 The Municipal Civil

counsel.8

Registrar, Leodivinia C. Encarnacion, issued a certification on July


11, 2003 to the effect that the marriage license number appearing in

Petitioner also presented Norberto Bagsic (Bagsic), an employee of

the marriage contract he submitted, Marriage License No. 9969967,

the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite. Bagsic appeared

was the number of another marriage license issued to a certain

under a letter of authority from the Municipal Civil Registrar of

Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan.6 Said certification reads as

Carmona, Cavite, and brought documents pertaining to Marriage

follows:

License No. 9969967, which was issued to Arlindo Getalado and


Myra Mabilangan on January 20, 1993.9

11 July 2003
Bagsic testified that their office issues serial numbers for marriage
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

licenses and that the numbers are issued chronologically.10 He


testified that the certification dated July 11, 2003, was issued and

This is to certify as per Registry Records of Marriage License filed in

signed by Leodivina Encarnacion, Registrar of the Municipality of

this office, Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued in favor of MR.

Carmona, Cavite, certifying that Marriage License No. 9969967 was

ARLINDO GETALADO and MISS MYRA MABILANGAN on January

issued for Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan on January 19,

19, 1993.

1993, and that their office had not issued any other license of the
same serial number, namely 9969967, to any other person.11

No Marriage License appear [sic] to have been issued to MR. SYED


AZHAR ABBAS and MISS GLORIA F. GOO on January 8, 1993.

For her part, Gloria testified on her own behalf, and presented
Reverend Mario Dauz, Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez, Felicitas Goo and

This certification is being issued to Mr. Syed Azhar Abbas for

May Ann Ceriola.

whatever legal purpose or intents it may serve.7


Reverend Mario Dauz (Rev. Dauz) testified that he was a minister of
On cross-examination, Syed testified that Gloria had filed bigamy

the Gospel and a barangay captain, and that he is authorized to

cases against him in 2001 and 2002, and that he had gone to the

solemnize marriages within the Philippines.12 He testified that he

Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite to get certification on

solemnized the marriage of Syed Azhar Abbas and Gloria Goo at the

residence of the bride on January 9, 1993.13 He stated that the

marriage was to take place, a male person went to their house with

witnesses were Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez (Atty. Sanchez) and Mary Ann

the application for marriage license.23 Three days later, the same

Ceriola.14 He testified that he had been solemnizing marriages since

person went back to their house, showed her the marriage license

1982, and that he is familiar with the requirements.15 Rev. Dauz

before returning it to Atty. Sanchez who then gave it to Rev. Dauz,

further testified that Atty. Sanchez gave him the marriage license the

the solemnizing officer.24 She further testified that she did not read

day before the actual wedding, and that the marriage contract was

all of the contents of the marriage license, and that she was told that

prepared by his secretary.16 After the solemnization of the marriage,

the marriage license was obtained from Carmona.25 She also

it was registered with the Local Civil Registrar of Manila, and Rev.

testified that a bigamy case had been filed by Gloria against Syed at

Dauz submitted the marriage contract and copy of the marriage

the Regional Trial Court of Manila, evidenced by an information for

license with that office.17

Bigamy dated January 10, 2003, pending before Branch 47 of the


Regional Trial Court of Manila.26

Atty. Sanchez testified that he was asked to be the sponsor of the


wedding of Syed Abbas and Gloria Goo by the mother of the bride,

As to Mary Ann Ceriolas testimony, the counsels for both parties

Felicitas Goo.18 He testified that he requested a certain Qualin to

stipulated that: (a) she is one of the sponsors at the wedding of

secure the marriage license for the couple, and that this Qualin

Gloria Goo and Syed Abbas on January 9, 1993; (b) she was seen in

secured the license and gave the same to him on January 8,

the wedding photos and she could identify all the persons depicted in

1993.19 He further testified that he did not know where the marriage

said photos; and (c) her testimony corroborates that of Felicitas Goo

license was obtained.20 He attended the wedding ceremony on

and Atty. Sanchez.

January 9, 1993, signed the marriage contract as sponsor, and


witnessed the signing of the marriage contract by the couple, the

The respondent, Gloria, testified that Syed is her husband, and

solemnizing officer and the other witness, Mary Ann Ceriola.21

presented the marriage contract bearing their signatures as proof.27


She and her mother sought the help of Atty. Sanchez in securing a

Felicitas Goo testified that Gloria Goo is her daughter and Syed

marriage license, and asked him to be one of the sponsors. A certain

Azhar Abbas is her son-in-law, and that she was present at the

Qualin went to their house and said that he will get the marriage

wedding ceremony held on January 9, 1993 at her house.22 She

license for them, and after several days returned with an application

testified that she sought the help of Atty. Sanchez at the Manila City

for marriage license for them to sign, which she and Syed did. After

Hall in securing the marriage license, and that a week before the

Qualin returned with the marriage license, they gave the license to

Atty. Sanchez who gave it to Rev. Dauz, the solemnizing officer.

resident of Carmona, Cavite, the place where Marriage License No.

Gloria testified that she and Syed were married on January 9, 1993

9969967 was issued, in violation of Article 9 of the Family Code.33

at their residence.28

As the marriage was not one of those exempt from the license
requirement, and that the lack of a valid marriage license is an

Gloria further testified that she has a daughter with Syed, born on

absence of a formal requisite, the marriage of Gloria and Syed on

June 15, 1993.29

January 9, 1993 was void ab initio.

Gloria also testified that she filed a bigamy case against Syed, who

The dispositive portion of the Decision reads as follows:

had married a certain Maria Corazon Buenaventura during the


existence of the previous marriage, and that the case was docketed

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the

as Criminal Case No. 02A-03408, with the RTC of Manila.30

petitioner, and against the respondent declaring as follows:

Gloria stated that she and Syed had already been married on August

1. The marriage on January 9, 1993 between petitioner Syed Azhar

9, 1992 in Taiwan, but that she did not know if said marriage had

Abbas and respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas is hereby annulled;

been celebrated under Muslim rites, because the one who


celebrated their marriage was Chinese, and those around them at

2. Terminating the community of property relations between the

the time were Chinese.31

petitioner and the respondent even if no property was acquired


during their cohabitation by reason of the nullity of the marriage of

The Ruling of the RTC

the parties.

In its October 5, 2005 Decision, the Pasay City RTC held that no

3. The Local Civil Registrar of Manila and the Civil Registrar General,

valid marriage license was issued by the Municipal Civil Registrar of

National Statistics Office, are hereby ordered to cancel from their

Carmona, Cavite in favor of Gloria and Syed, as Marriage License

respective civil registries the marriage contracted by petitioner Syed

No. 9969967 had been issued to Arlindo Getalado and Myra

Azhar Abbas and respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas on January 9, 1993

Mabilangan, and the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite

in Manila.

had certified that no marriage license had been issued for Gloria and
Syed.32 It also took into account the fact that neither party was a

SO ORDERED.34

HUSBAND AND WIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF NOT LESS THAN


Gloria filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated November 7, 2005,

TWO WITNESSES OF LEGAL AGE.

but the RTC denied the same, prompting her to appeal the
questioned decision to the Court of Appeals.

III

The Ruling of the CA

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING ON THE ISSUE OF


ESTOPPEL BY LACHES ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER, AN

In her appeal to the CA, Gloria submitted the following assignment of

ISSUE TIMELY RAISED IN THE COURT BELOW.35

errors:
The CA gave credence to Glorias arguments, and granted her
I

appeal. It held that the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar


failed to categorically state that a diligent search for the marriage

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THE MARRIAGE

license of Gloria and Syed was conducted, and thus held that said

BETWEEN THE PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT AS NULL AND

certification could not be accorded probative value.36 The CA ruled

VOID DUE TO THE ABSENCE OF A MARRIAGE LICENSE

that there was sufficient testimonial and documentary evidence that

DESPITE EVIDENCE CLEARLY SHOWING THAT THERE WAS

Gloria and Syed had been validly married and that there was

ONE.

compliance with all the requisites laid down by law.37

II

It gave weight to the fact that Syed had admitted to having signed
the marriage contract. The CA also considered that the parties had

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING, AS A

comported themselves as husband and wife, and that Syed only

REQUISITE OF A VALID MARRIAGE, THE OVERWHELMING

instituted his petition after Gloria had filed a case against him for

EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT A MARRIAGE CEREMONY TOOK

bigamy.38

PLACE WITH THE APPEARANCE OF THE CONTRACTING


PARTIES BEFORE THE SOLEMNIZING OFFICER AND THEIR
PERSONAL DECLARATION THAT THEY TOOK EACH OTHER AS

The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is GRANTED. The


Decision dated 05 October 2005 and Order dated 27 January 2006

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN

of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 109, in Civil Case

REVERSING AND SETTING ASIDE, WITHOUT ANY FACTUAL AND

No. 03-0382-CFM are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the Petition

LEGAL BASIS, THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT

for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage is DISMISSED. The marriage

GRANTING THE PETITION FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF

between Shed [sic] Azhar Abbas and Gloria Goo Abbas contracted

MARRIAGE.42

on 09 January 1993 remains valid and subsisting. No costs.


The Ruling of this Court
SO ORDERED.39
The petition is meritorious.
Syed then filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated April 1, 200840
but the same was denied by the CA in a Resolution dated July 24,

As the marriage of Gloria and Syed was solemnized on January 9,

2008.41

1993, Executive Order No. 209, or the Family Code of the


Philippines, is the applicable law. The pertinent provisions that would

Hence, this petition.

apply to this particular case are Articles 3, 4 and 35(3), which read as
follows:

Grounds in Support of Petition


Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:
I
(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS
ERROR OF LAW IN CITING REPUBLIC VS. COURT OF APPEALS

(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in

AS THE SAME IS DIAMETRICALLY INCONSISTENT AND

Chapter 2 of this Title; and

CONTRARY TO THE COURTS OWN FINDINGS AND


CONCLUSIONS IN THIS CASE.

(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of


the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their

II

personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife

no valid marriage license had been issued. The CA held that there

in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.

was a valid marriage license.

Art. 4. The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall

We find the RTC to be correct in this instance.

render the marriage void ab initio, except as stated in Article 35(2).


Respondent Gloria failed to present the actual marriage license, or a
A defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage

copy thereof, and relied on the marriage contract as well as the

voidable as provided in Article 45.

testimonies of her witnesses to prove the existence of said license.


To prove that no such license was issued, Syed turned to the office

An irregularity in the formal requisites shall not affect the validity of

of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite which had

the marriage but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity

allegedly issued said license. It was there that he requested

shall be civilly, criminally and administratively liable.

certification that no such license was issued. In the case of Republic


v. Court of Appeals43 such certification was allowed, as permitted by

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

Sec. 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, which reads:

xxxx

SEC. 28. Proof of lack of record. A written statement signed by an


officer having the custody of an official record or by his deputy that

(3) Those solemnized without a license, except those covered by the

after diligent search, no record or entry of a specified tenor is found

preceding Chapter.

to exist in the records of his office, accompanied by a certificate as


above provided, is admissible as evidence that the records of his

There is no issue with the essential requisites under Art. 2 of the

office contain no such record or entry.

Family Code, nor with the formal requisites of the authority of the
solemnizing officer and the conduct of the marriage ceremony. Nor is

In the case of Republic, in allowing the certification of the Civil

the marriage one that is exempt from the requirement of a valid

Registrar of Pasig to prove the non-issuance of a marriage license,

marriage license under Chapter 2, Title I of the Family Code. The

the Court held:

resolution of this case, thus, hinges on whether or not a valid


marriage license had been issued for the couple. The RTC held that

The above Rule authorized the custodian of the documents to certify

The CA deduced that from the absence of the words "despite diligent

that despite diligent search, a particular document does not exist in

search" in the certification, and since the certification used stated

his office or that a particular entry of a specified tenor was not to be

that no marriage license appears to have been issued, no diligent

found in a register. As custodians of public documents, civil registrars

search had been conducted and thus the certification could not be

are public officers charged with the duty, inter alia, of maintaining a

given probative value.

register book where they are required to enter all applications for
marriage licenses, including the names of the applicants, the date

To justify that deduction, the CA cited the case of Republic v. Court of

the marriage license was issued and such other relevant data.44

Appeals.45 It is worth noting that in that particular case, the Court, in


sustaining the finding of the lower court that a marriage license was

The Court held in that case that the certification issued by the civil

lacking, relied on the Certification issued by the Civil Registrar of

registrar enjoyed probative value, as his duty was to maintain

Pasig, which merely stated that the alleged marriage license could

records of data relative to the issuance of a marriage license.

not be located as the same did not appear in their records. Nowhere
in the Certification was it categorically stated that the officer involved

The Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, where the

conducted a diligent search, nor is a categorical declaration

marriage license of Gloria and Syed was allegedly issued, issued a

absolutely necessary for Sec. 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court to

certification to the effect that no such marriage license for Gloria and

apply.

Syed was issued, and that the serial number of the marriage license
pertained to another couple, Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan.

Under Sec. 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, it is a disputable

A certified machine copy of Marriage License No. 9969967 was

presumption that an official duty has been regularly performed,

presented, which was issued in Carmona, Cavite, and indeed, the

absent contradiction or other evidence to the contrary. We held, "The

names of Gloria and Syed do not appear in the document.

presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by


affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a duty."46 No

In reversing the RTC, the CA focused on the wording of the

such affirmative evidence was shown that the Municipal Civil

certification, stating that it did not comply with Section 28, Rule 132

Registrar was lax in performing her duty of checking the records of

of the Rules of Court.

their office, thus the presumption must stand. In fact, proof does exist
of a diligent search having been conducted, as Marriage License No.
996967 was indeed located and submitted to the court. The fact that

the names in said license do not correspond to those of Gloria and

could have simply been secured from that office and submitted to the

Syed does not overturn the presumption that the registrar conducted

court. However, Gloria inexplicably failed to do so, further weakening

a diligent search of the records of her office.

her claim that there was a valid marriage license issued for her and
Syed.

It is telling that Gloria failed to present their marriage license or a


copy thereof to the court. She failed to explain why the marriage

In the case of Cario v. Cario,47 following the case of Republic,48 it

license was secured in Carmona, Cavite, a location where,

was held that the certification of the Local Civil Registrar that their

admittedly, neither party resided. She took no pains to apply for the

office had no record of a marriage license was adequate to prove the

license, so she is not the best witness to testify to the validity and

non-issuance of said license. The case of Cario further held that the

existence of said license. Neither could the other witnesses she

presumed validity of the marriage of the parties had been overcome,

presented prove the existence of the marriage license, as none of

and that it became the burden of the party alleging a valid marriage

them applied for the license in Carmona, Cavite. Her mother,

to prove that the marriage was valid, and that the required marriage

Felicitas Goo, could not even testify as to the contents of the license,

license had been secured.49 Gloria has failed to discharge that

having admitted to not reading all of its contents. Atty. Sanchez, one

burden, and the only conclusion that can be reached is that no valid

of the sponsors, whom Gloria and Felicitas Goo approached for

marriage license was issued. It cannot be said that there was a

assistance in securing the license, admitted not knowing where the

simple irregularity in the marriage license that would not affect the

license came from. The task of applying for the license was

validity of the marriage, as no license was presented by the

delegated to a certain Qualin, who could have testified as to how the

respondent. No marriage license was proven to have been issued to

license was secured and thus impeached the certification of the

Gloria and Syed, based on the certification of the Municipal Civil

Municipal Civil Registrar as well as the testimony of her

Registrar of Carmona, Cavite and Glorias failure to produce a copy

representative. As Gloria failed to present this Qualin, the

of the alleged marriage license.

certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar still enjoys probative


value.

To bolster its ruling, the CA cited other evidence to support its


conclusion that Gloria and Syed were validly married. To quote the

It is also noted that the solemnizing officer testified that the marriage
contract and a copy of the marriage license were submitted to the
Local Civil Registrar of Manila. Thus, a copy of the marriage license

CA:

Moreover, the record is replete with evidence, testimonial and

him his freedom and in the process allow him to profit from his own

documentary, that appellant and appellee have been validly married

deceit and perfidy.50

and there was compliance with all the requisites laid down by law.
Both parties are legally capacitated to marry. A certificate of legal

All the evidence cited by the CA to show that a wedding ceremony

capacity was even issued by the Embassy of Pakistan in favor of

was conducted and a marriage contract was signed does not operate

appellee. The parties herein gave their consent freely. Appellee

to cure the absence of a valid marriage license. Article 4 of the

admitted that the signature above his name in the marriage contract

Family Code is clear when it says, "The absence of any of the

was his. Several pictures were presented showing appellant and

essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio,

appellee, before the solemnizing officer, the witnesses and other

except as stated in Article 35(2)." Article 35(3) of the Family Code

members of appellants family, taken during the marriage ceremony,

also provides that a marriage solemnized without a license is void

as well as in the restaurant where the lunch was held after the

from the beginning, except those exempt from the license

marriage ceremony. Most telling of all is Exhibit "5-C" which shows

requirement under Articles 27 to 34, Chapter 2, Title I of the same

appellee signing the Marriage Contract.

Code.51 Again, this marriage cannot be characterized as among the


exemptions, and thus, having been solemnized without a marriage

xxxx

license, is void ab initio.1wphi1

The parties have comported themselves as husband and wife and

As to the motive of Syed in seeking to annul his marriage to Gloria, it

has [sic] one offspring, Aliea Fatima Goo Abbas, who was born on 15

may well be that his motives are less than pure, that he seeks to

June 1993. It took appellee more than ten (10) years before he filed

evade a bigamy suit. Be that as it may, the same does not make up

on 01 August 2003 his Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage

for the failure of the respondent to prove that they had a valid

under Article 4 of the Family Code. We take serious note that said

marriage license, given the weight of evidence presented by

Petition appears to have been instituted by him only after an

petitioner. The lack of a valid marriage license cannot be attributed to

Information for Bigamy (Exhibit "1") dated 10 January 2003 was filed

him, as it was Gloria who took steps to procure the same. The law

against him for contracting a second or subsequent marriage with

must be applied. As the marriage license, a formal requisite, is

one Ma. Corazon (Maryam) T. Buenaventura. We are not ready to

clearly absent, the marriage of Gloria and Syed is void ab initio.

reward (appellee) by declaring the nullity of his marriage and give

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the petition is hereby


GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated March 11, 2008 and
Resolution dated July 24, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 86760 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 109, Pasay City dated
October 5, 2005 in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM annulling the
marriage of petitioner with respondent on January 9, 1993 is hereby
REINSTATED.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision [1] of the

Supreme Court
Manila

Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via a
petition for review on certiorari[2]under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
(present petition).

THIRD DIVISION
Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen
who
GERBERT R. CORPUZ,

G.R. No. 186571

acquired

Canadian

citizenship

through

naturalization

on November 29, 2000.[3] On January 18, 2005, Gerbert married


respondent Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a Filipina, in Pasig City.[4] Due to

Petitioner,
Present:

work

and

other

for Canada soon

versus -

professional
after

the

commitments,
wedding. He

Gerbert

left

returned

to

CARPIO MORALES,

the Philippines sometime in April 2005 to surprise Daisylyn, but was

BRION,

shocked to discover that his wife was having an affair with another

BERSAMIN,

man. Hurt and disappointed, Gerbert returned to Canada and filed a

ABAD, and

petition

VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada granted

for

divorce. The

Superior
Gerberts

Court
petition

of
for

divorce onDecember 8, 2005. The divorce decree took effect a


month later, on January 8, 2006.[5]
Promulgated:
DAISYLYN TIROL STO. TOMAS and The

August 11, 2010

SOLICITOR GENERAL,

Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has
found another Filipina to love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina

Respondents. -- fiance in the Philippines, Gerbert went to the Pasig City Civil Registry
x-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree on his and
DECISION
BRION, J.:

Daisylyns marriage certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce


decree, an official of the National Statistics Office (NSO) informed

Gerbert that the marriage between him and Daisylyn still subsists

valid there as such, shall also be valid in this

under Philippine law; to be enforceable, the foreign divorce decree

country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1),

must first be judicially recognized by a competent Philippine court,

(4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982.[6]


Where a marriage between a Filipino
Accordingly, Gerbert

filed

petition

for

judicial

citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a

recognition of foreign divorce and/or declaration of marriage as

divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by

dissolved (petition) with the RTC. Although summoned, Daisylyn did

the alien spouse capacitating him or her to

not file any responsive pleading but submitted instead a notarized

remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have

letter/manifestation to the trial court. She offered no opposition to

capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

Gerberts petition and, in fact, alleged her desire to file a similar case
herself

but

was

prevented

by

financial

and

personal

This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative

circumstances. She, thus, requested that she be considered as a

intent behind the enactment of the second paragraph of Article 26 of

party-in-interest with a similar prayer to Gerberts.

the Family Code, as determined by the Court in Republic v. Orbecido


III;[10] the provision was enacted to avoid the absurd situation where

In its October 30, 2008 decision,[7] the RTC denied Gerberts


petition. The RTC concluded that Gerbert was not the proper

the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after
obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. [11]

party to institute the action for judicial recognition of the foreign


divorce decree as he is a naturalized Canadian citizen. It ruled

THE PETITION

that only the Filipino spouse can avail of the remedy, under the
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, [8] in order for him
or her to be able to remarry under Philippine law. [9] Article 26 of the
Family Code reads:

From the RTCs ruling,[12] Gerbert filed the present petition.[13]


Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially
for declaratory relief, similar to that filed in Orbecido; he, thus,
similarly asks for a determination of his rights under the second

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside

paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. Taking into account the

the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force

rationale behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family

in the country where they were solemnized, and

Code, he contends that the provision applies as well to the benefit of

the alien spouse. He claims that the RTC ruling unduly stretched the

is in favor of the

doctrine in Orbecido by limiting the standing to file the petition only to

Filipino spouse

the Filipino spouse an interpretation he claims to be contrary to the


essence of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family

The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative history

Code. He considers himself as a proper party, vested with sufficient

and intent behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family

legal interest, to institute the case, as there is a possibility that he

Code.

might be prosecuted for bigamy if he marries his Filipina fiance in the


Philippines since two marriage certificates, involving him, would be

The Family Code recognizes only two types of defective marriages

on file with the Civil Registry Office. The Office of the Solicitor

void[15] and voidable[16] marriages. In both cases, the basis for

General and Daisylyn, in their respective Comments, [14] both support

the judicial declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of the

Gerberts position.

marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage. Divorce, on the


other hand, contemplates the dissolution of the lawful union for

Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second

cause arising after the marriage.[17] Our family laws do not recognize

paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code extends to aliens the

absolute divorce between Filipino citizens.[18]

right to petition a court of this jurisdiction for the recognition of


a foreign divorce decree.
THE COURTS RULING

Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in


marriages between a Filipino and an alien, President Corazon C.
Aquino, in the exercise of her legislative powers under the Freedom
Constitution,[19] enacted Executive Order No. (EO) 227, amending

The alien spouse

Article 26 of the Family Code to its present wording, as follows:

can claim no right


under the second

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside

paragraph of

the Philippines, in accordance with the laws in force

Article 26 of the

in the country where they were solemnized, and

Family Code as

valid there as such, shall also be valid in this

the substantive

country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1),

right it establishes

(4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino


citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a
divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by

As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in

the alien spouse capacitating him or her to

the law to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse

remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have

remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is

capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

no longer married to the Filipino spouse. [23] The legislative intent is


for the benefit of the Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her marital

Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, EO

status,

settling

the

doubts

created

by

the

divorce

227 effectively incorporated into the law this Courts holding in Van

decree. Essentially, the second paragraph of Article 26 of the

Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.[20] and Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera.[21] In both cases,

Family Code provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to

the Court refused to acknowledge the alien spouses assertion of

have his or her marriage to the alien spouse considered as

marital rights after a foreign courts divorce decree between the alien

dissolved, capacitating him or her to remarry.[24] Without the

and the Filipino. The Court, thus, recognized that the foreign divorce

second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the judicial

had already severed the marital bond between the spouses. The

recognition of the foreign decree of divorce, whether in a proceeding

Court reasoned in Van Dorn v. Romillo that:

instituted precisely for that purpose or as a related issue in another


proceeding, would be of no significance to the Filipino spouse since

To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the

our laws do not recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital

Filipino spouse] has to be considered still

bond;[25] Article 17 of the Civil Code provides that the policy against

married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to

absolute divorces cannot be subverted by judgments promulgated in

a wife's obligations x x x cannot be just. [The

a foreign country. The inclusion of the second paragraph in Article 26

Filipino spouse] should not be obliged to live

of the Family Code provides the direct exception to this rule and

together with, observe respect and fidelity, and

serves as basis for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage

render support to [the alien spouse]. The latter

between the Filipino spouse and his or her alien spouse.

should not continue to be one of her heirs with


possible rights to conjugal property. She should not

Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article 26

be discriminated against in her own country if

of the Family Code is not limited to the recognition of the foreign

the ends of justice are to be served.

[22]

divorce decree. If the court finds that the decree capacitated the

alien spouse to remarry, the courts can declare that the Filipino

of aliens with the complementary statement that this conclusion is

spouse is likewise capacitated to contract another marriage. No court

not sufficient basis to dismiss Gerberts petition before the RTC. In

in this jurisdiction, however, can make a similar declaration for the

other words, the unavailability of the second paragraph of Article 26

alien spouse (other than that already established by the decree),

of the Family Code to aliens does not necessarily strip Gerbert of

whose status and legal capacity are generally governed by his

legal interest to petition the RTC for the recognition of his foreign

[26]

national law.

divorce decree. The foreign divorce decree itself, after its authenticity
and conformity with the aliens national law have been duly proven

Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the

according to our rules of evidence, serves as a presumptive

purpose of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,

evidence of right in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to Section 48, Rule 39

the RTC was correct in limiting the applicability of the provision for

of the Rules of Court which provides for the effect of foreign

the benefit of the Filipino spouse. In other words, only the Filipino

judgments. This Section states:

spouse can invoke the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family


Code; the alien spouse can claim no right under this provision.

SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final


orders.The effect of a judgment or final order of a
tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction

The foreign

to render the judgment or final order is as follows:

divorce decree is
presumptive

(a)

In case of a judgment or final

evidence of a right

order upon a specific thing, the

that clothes the

judgment or final order is conclusive

party with legal

upon the title of the thing; and

interest to petition
for its recognition
in this jurisdiction

(b)

In case of a judgment or final


order

against

judgment

or

person,

final

order

the
is

We qualify our above conclusion i.e., that the second

presumptive evidence of a right

paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code bestows no rights in favor

as between the parties and their

successors

in

interest

by

subsequent title.

invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or


defense.

In either case, the judgment or final order

In Gerberts case, since both the foreign divorce decree and

may be repelled by evidence of a want of

the national law of the alien, recognizing his or her capacity to obtain

jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion,

a divorce, purport to be official acts of a sovereign authority, Section

fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.

24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court comes into play. This Section
requires proof, either by (1) official publications or (2) copies attested

To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign

by the officer having legal custody of the documents. If the copies of

judgment is sufficient to clothe a party with the requisite interest to

official records are not kept in the Philippines, these must be (a)

institute an action before our courts for the recognition of the foreign

accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or

judgment. In a divorce situation, we have declared, no less, that the

consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the

divorce obtained by an alien abroad may be recognized in

foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by

the Philippines, provided the divorce is valid according to his or her

the seal of his office.

[27]

national law.

The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a


The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce

copy of the divorce decree, as well as the required certificates

judgment is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial

proving its authenticity,[30] but failed to include a copy of the Canadian

notice of foreign judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that,

law on divorce.[31] Under this situation, we can, at this point, simply

as a rule, no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a

dismiss the petition for insufficiency of supporting evidence, unless

judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country.

[28]

This means

we deem it more appropriate to remand the case to the RTC to

that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts

determine whether the divorce decree is consistent with the

under our rules on evidence, together with the aliens applicable

Canadian divorce law.

national law to show the effect of the judgment on the alien himself or
herself.[29] The recognition may be made in an action instituted

We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of

specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party

action, given the Article 26 interests that will be served and the
Filipina wifes (Daisylyns) obvious conformity with the petition. A

remand, at the same time, will allow other interested parties to

based on the mere presentation of the decree. [34] We consider the

oppose

recording to be legally improper; hence, the need to draw attention of

the

foreign

judgment

and

overcome

petitioners

presumptive evidence of a right by proving want of jurisdiction, want

the bench and the bar to what had been done.

of notice to a party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or


fact. Needless to state, every precaution must be taken to ensure

Article 407 of the Civil Code states that [a]cts, events and judicial

conformity with our laws before a recognition is made, as the foreign

decrees concerning the civil status of persons shall be recorded in

judgment,

of res

the civil register. The law requires the entry in the civil registry of

between the parties, as provided in Section 48, Rule 39 of

judicial decrees that produce legal consequences touching upon a

judicata

[32]

once

the Rules of Court.

recognized,

shall

have

the

effect

[33]

persons legal capacity and status, i.e., those affecting all his
personal qualities and relations, more or less permanent in nature,

In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the


practice of reciprocal recognition of foreign judgments between

not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being legitimate
or illegitimate, or his being married or not.[35]

nations, the res judicata effect of the foreign judgments of divorce


serves as the deeper basis for extending judicial recognition and for

A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign

considering the alien spouse bound by its terms. This same effect,

one, affecting a persons legal capacity and status that must be

as discussed above, will not obtain for the Filipino spouse were it not

recorded. In fact, Act No. 3753 or the Law on Registry of Civil Status

for the substantive rule that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the

specifically requires the registration of divorce decrees in the civil

Family Code provides.

registry:

Considerations

Sec.

1. Civil

Register. A

civil

register

is

beyond the

established for recording the civil status of

recognition of the

persons, in which shall be entered:

foreign divorce
decree

(a)
As a matter of housekeeping concern, we note that

births;

(b) deaths;

the Pasig City Civil Registry Office has already recorded the

(c)

marriages;

divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage certificate

(d) annulments of marriages;

(e)

divorces;

But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the civil

(f)

legitimations;

registry, the law and the submission of the decree by themselves do

(g) adoptions;

not ipso facto authorize the decreesregistration. The law should be

(h) acknowledgment of natural children;

read in relation with the requirement of a judicial recognition of the

(i)

naturalization; and

foreign judgment before it can be given res judicata effect. In the

(j)

changes of name.

context of the present case, no judicial order as yet exists


recognizing the foreign divorce decree. Thus, the Pasig City Civil

xxxx

Registry Office acted totally out of turn and without authority of law
when it annotated the Canadian divorce decree on Gerbert and

Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. The local registrars


shall keep and preserve in their offices the following

Daisylyns marriage certificate, on the strength alone of the foreign


decree presented by Gerbert.

books, in which they shall, respectively make the


proper entries concerning the civil status of persons:

Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of


the requirement of a court recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4,
series of 1982,[36] and Department of Justice Opinion No. 181, series

(1) Birth and death register;

of 1982[37] both of which required a final order from a competent


(2) Marriage register, in which shall be
entered not

only

solemnized

but

the

marriages

also divorces

and

dissolved marriages.

Philippine court before a foreign judgment, dissolving a marriage,


can be registered in the civil registry, but it, nonetheless, allowed the
registration of the decree. For being contrary to law, the registration
of the foreign divorce decree without the requisite judicial recognition
is patently void and cannot produce any legal effect.

(3) Legitimation,
adoption,

change

naturalization register.

acknowledgment,
of

name

and

Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the


recognition that the RTC may extend to the Canadian divorce decree
does not, by itself, authorize the cancellation of the entry in the civil
registry. A petition for recognition of a foreign judgment is not the

proper proceeding, contemplated under the Rules of Court, for the

as the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the

cancellation of entries in the civil registry.

Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party


or a particular fact. Moreover, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court can

Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that no entry in a civil

serve as the appropriate adversarial proceeding [41] by which the

register shall be changed or corrected, without judicial order. The

applicability of the foreign judgment can be measured and tested in

Rules of Court supplements Article 412 of the Civil Code by

terms of jurisdictional infirmities, want of notice to the party, collusion,

specifically providing for a special remedial proceeding by which

fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.

entries in the civil registry may be judicially cancelled or


corrected. Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets in detail the

WHEREFORE,

we GRANT the

review

on certiorari,

with before a judgment, authorizing the cancellation or correction,

the Regional Trial Court of Laoag City,

may be annotated in the civil registry. It also requires, among others,

its February 17, 2009 order. We order the REMAND of the case to

that the verified petition must be filed with the RTC of the province

the trial court for further proceedings in accordance with our ruling

where the corresponding civil registry is located;

that the civil

registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest must be
made parties to the proceedings; [39] and that the time and place for
hearing must be published in a newspaper of general circulation.
[40]

As these basic jurisdictional requirements have not been met in

the present case, we cannot consider the petition Gerbert filed with
the RTC as one filed under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be
construed as requiring two separate proceedings for the registration
of a foreign divorce decree in the civil registry one for recognition of
the foreign decree and another specifically for cancellation of the
entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The recognition of the
foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself,

30,

for

jurisdictional and procedural requirements that must be complied

[38]

and REVERSE the October

petition

Branch

2008 decision

of

11,

as

as

well

above. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Civil Registrar


General. No costs.

G.R. No. 171557, February 12, 2014

determine if collusion exists between Rodolfo and Natividad and

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. RODOLFO O. DE


GRACIA, Respondent.

found that there was none.9 Trial on the merits then ensued.
In support of his complaint, Rodolfo testified, among others, that he

DECISION

first met Natividad when they were students at the Barangay High
PERLASBERNABE, J.:

School of Sindangan,10 and he was forced to marry her barely three

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the

(3) months into their courtship in light of her accidental

Decision2 dated June 2, 2005 and Resolution3dated February 3,

pregnancy.11 At the time of their marriage, he was 21 years old, while

2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. CV No. 69103 which

Natividad was 18 years of age. He had no stable job and merely

affirmed the Decision dated October 17, 2000 of the Regional Trial

worked in the gambling cockpits as kristo and bangkero sa

Court of Zamboanga del Norte, Branch 11 (RTC) in Civil Case No.

hantak. When he decided to join and train with the army,12 Natividad

S665 declaring the marriage of respondent Rodolfo O. De Gracia

left their conjugal home and sold their house without his

(Rodolfo) and Natividad N. Rosalem (Natividad) void on the ground

consent.13Thereafter, Natividad moved to Dipolog City where she

of psychological incapacity pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code

lived with a certain Engineer Terez (Terez), and bore him a child

named Julie Ann Terez.14 After cohabiting with Terez, Natividad

of the Philippines (Family Code).


The Facts

contracted a second marriage on January 11, 1991 with another man

Rodolfo and Natividad were married on February 15, 1969 at the


6

named Antonio Mondarez and has lived since then with the latter in

Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer in Salug, Zamboanga del Norte. They

Cagayan de Oro City.15 From the time Natividad abandoned them in

lived in Dapaon, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte and have two (2)

1972, Rodolfo was left to take care of Ma. Reynilda and Ma.

children, namely, Ma. Reynilda R. De Gracia (Ma. Reynilda) and Ma.

Rizza16 and he exerted earnest efforts to save their marriage which,

Rizza R. De Gracia (Ma. Rizza), who were born on August 20, 1969

however, proved futile because of Natividads psychological

and January 15, 1972, respectively.

incapacity that appeared to be incurable.17

On December 28, 1998, Rodolfo filed a verified complaint for

For her part, Natividad failed to file her answer, as well as appear

declaration of nullity of marriage (complaint) before the RTC,

during trial, despite service of summons.18 Nonetheless, she

docketed as Civil Case No. S665, alleging that Natividad was

informed the court that she submitted herself for psychiatric

psychologically incapacitated to comply with her essential marital

examination to Dr. Cheryl T. Zalsos (Dr. Zalsos) in response to

obligations. In compliance with the Order8 dated January 5, 1999 of

Rodolfos claims.19 Rodolfo also underwent the same examination.20

the RTC, the public prosecutor conducted an investigation to

In her twopage psychiatric evaluation report,21 Dr. Zalsos stated that

but manifested only thereafter. It likewise concurred with Dr. Zalsoss

both Rodolfo and Natividad were psychologically incapacitated to

observation that Natividads condition is incurable since it is deeply

comply with the essential marital obligations, finding that both parties

rooted within the makeup of her personality. Accordingly, it

suffered from utter emotional immaturity [which] is unusual and

concluded that Natividad could not have known, much more

unacceptable behavior considered [as] deviant from persons who

comprehend the marital obligations she was assuming, or, knowing

22

abide by established norms of conduct. As for Natividad, Dr.

them, could not have given a valid assumption thereof.27

Zalsos also observed that she lacked the willful cooperation of being

The Republic appealed to the CA, averring that there was no

a wife and a mother to her two daughters. Similarly, Rodolfo failed to

showing that Natividads personality traits constituted psychological

perform his obligations as a husband, adding too that he sired a son

incapacity as envisaged under Article 36 of the Family Code, and

with another woman. Further, Dr. Zalsos noted that the mental

that the testimony of the expert witness was not conclusive upon the

condition of both parties already existed at the time of the celebration

court.28

of marriage, although it only manifested after. Based on the

The CA Ruling

foregoing, Dr. Zalsos concluded that the couples union was bereft

In a Decision29 dated June 2, 2005, the CA affirmed the ruling of the

of the mind, will and heart for the obligations of marriage. 23

RTC, finding that while Natividads emotional immaturity,

On February 10, 1999, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),

irresponsibility and promiscuity by themselves do not necessarily

representing petitioner Republic of the Philippines (Republic), filed

equate to psychological incapacity, their degree or severity, as duly

24

an opposition to the complaint, contending that the acts committed

testified to by Dr. Zalsos, has sufficiently established a case of

by Natividad did not demonstrate psychological incapacity as

psychological disorder so profound as to render [Natividad]

contemplated by law, but are mere grounds for legal separation

incapacitated to perform her essential marital obligations.30

under the Family Code.25

The Republic moved for reconsideration which was, however, denied


The RTC Ruling

In a Decision26 dated October 17, 2000, the RTC declared the

in a Resolution31 dated February 3, 2006, hence, the instant petition.


The Issue Before the Court

marriage between Rodolfo and Natividad void on the ground of

The primordial issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in

psychological incapacity. It relied on the findings and testimony of Dr.

sustaining the RTCs finding of psychological incapacity.

Zalsos, holding that Natividads emotional immaturity exhibited a


behavioral pattern which in psychiatry constitutes a form of
personality disorder that existed at the time of the parties marriage

The Ruling of the Court


The petition is meritorious.

Psychological incapacity, as a ground to nullify a marriage under


32

irresponsibility could not be equated with psychological incapacity

Article 36 of the Family Code, should refer to no less than a mental

as it was not shown that these acts are manifestations of a

not merely physical incapacity that causes a party to betruly

disordered personality which make her completely unable to

incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly

discharge the essential marital obligations of the marital state,

must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage

not merely due to heryouth, immaturity or sexual promiscuity.42 In

which, as so expressed in Article 6833 of the Family Code, among

the same light, the Court, in the case of Pesca v. Pesca43 (Pesca),

others,34 include their mutual obligations to live together, observe

ruled against a declaration of nullity, as petitioner therein utterly

love, respect and fidelity and render help and support. There is

failed, both in her allegations in the complaint and in her evidence, to

hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine

make out a case of psychological incapacity on the part of

the meaning of psychological incapacity to the most serious

respondent, let alone at the time of solemnization of the contract, so

cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter

as to warrant a declaration of nullity of the marriage, significantly

insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the

noting that the [e]motional immaturity and irresponsibility,

marriage.35 In Santos v. CA36 (Santos), the Court first declared that

invoked by her, cannot be equated with psychological incapacity.

psychological incapacity must be characterized by: (a) gravity (i.e., it

In Pesca, the Court upheld the appellate courts finding that the

must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of

petitioner therein had not established that her husband showed

carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage); (b)juridical

signs of mental incapacity as would cause him to be truly incognitive

antecedence (i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party

of the basic marital covenant, as so provided for in Article 68 of the

antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may

Family Code; that the incapacity is grave, has preceded the marriage

emerge only after the marriage); and (c) incurability (i.e., it must be

and is incurable; that his incapacity to meet his marital responsibility

incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the

is because of a psychological, not physical illness; that the root

37

means of the party involved). The Court laid down more definitive

cause of the incapacity has been identified medically or clinically, and

guidelines in the interpretation and application of Article 36 of the

has been proven by an expert; and that the incapacity is permanent

Family Code in Republic of the Phils. v. CA,38 whose salient points

and incurable in nature.44

are footnoted hereunder.39 These guidelines incorporate the basic

The Court maintains a similar view in this case. Based on the

requirements that the Court established inSantos.

40

Keeping with these principles, the Court, in Dedel v. CA,41 held that
therein respondents emotional immaturity and

evidence presented, there exists insufficient factual or legal basis to


conclude that Natividads emotional immaturity, irresponsibility, or

even sexual promiscuity, can be equated with psychological

emotional immaturity, irresponsibility and infidelity do not rise to the

incapacity.

level of psychological incapacity that would justify the nullification of

The RTC, as affirmed by the CA, heavily relied on the psychiatric

the parties marriage. Indeed, to be declared clinically or medically

evaluation report of Dr. Zalsos which does not, however, explain in

incurable is one thing; to refuse or be reluctant to perform ones

reasonable detail how Natividads condition could be characterized

duties is another. To hark back to what has been earlier discussed,

as grave, deeplyrooted, and incurable within the parameters of

psychological incapacity refers only to the most serious cases of

psychological incapacity jurisprudence. Aside from failing to disclose

personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or

the types of psychological tests which she administered on

inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. 46 In the

Natividad, Dr. Zalsos failed to identify in her report the root cause of

final analysis, the Court does not perceive a disorder of this nature to

Natividads condition and to show that it existed at the time of the

exist in the present case. Thus, for these reasons, coupled too with

parties marriage. Neither was the gravity or seriousness of

the recognition that marriage is an inviolable social institution and the

Natividads behavior in relation to her failure to perform the essential

foundation of the family,47 the instant petition is hereby granted.

marital obligations sufficiently described in Dr. Zalsoss report.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated June

Further, the finding contained therein on the incurability of Natividads

2, 2005 and Resolution dated February 3, 2006 of the Court of

condition remains unsupported by any factual or scientific basis and,

Appeals in CAGR. CV No. 69103 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

hence, appears to be drawn out as a bare conclusion and even self

Accordingly, the complaint for declaration of nullity of marriage filed

serving. In the same vein, Dr. Zalsoss testimony during trial, which is

under Article 36 of the Family Code is DISMISSED.

essentially a reiteration of her report, also fails to convince the Court


of her conclusion that Natividad was psychologically incapacitated.
Verily, although expert opinions furnished by psychologists regarding
the psychological temperament of parties are usually given
considerable weight by the courts, the existence of psychological
incapacity must still be proven by independent evidence. 45 After
poring over the records, the Court, however, does not find any such
evidence sufficient enough to uphold the court a quos nullity
declaration. To the Courts mind, Natividads refusal to live with
Rodolfo and to assume her duties as wife and mother as well as her

Republic of the Philippines

A finding of psychological incapacity must be supported by well-established

Supreme Court

facts. It is the plaintiffs burden to convince the court of the existence of

Manila

these facts.
Before the Court is a Petition for Review[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) May

FIRST DIVISION

27, 2004 Decision[2] and December 15, 2004 Resolution[3] in CA-G.R. CV


VALERIO E. KALAW,

G.R. No. 166357

Petitioner,

No. 64240, which reversed the trial courts declaration of nullity of the herein
parties marriage. The fallo of the assailed Decision reads:

Present:

WHEREFOREthe

CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,


- versus -

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,

appeal

is GRANTED,

and

the

assailed Decision is SET ASIDE and VACATED while


the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage is
hereby DISMISSED.

DEL CASTILLO, and


SO ORDERED.[4]

PEREZ, JJ.
MA. ELENA FERNANDEZ,
Respondent.

Promulgated:
September 19, 2011

Factual Antecedents

x------------------------------------------------------------------x
Petitioner Valerio E. Kalaw (Tyrone) and respondent Ma. Elena Fernandez
DECISION

(Malyn) met in 1973. They maintained a relationship and eventually married


in Hong Kong on November 4, 1976.They had four children, Valerio (Rio),

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Maria Eva (Ria), Ramon Miguel (Miggy or Mickey), and Jaime Teodoro
(Jay).
Shortly after the birth of their youngest son, Tyrone had an extramarital affair
with Jocelyn Quejano (Jocelyn), who gave birth to a son in March 1983.[5]

the time of the celebration of their marriage. He further claimed that her
In May 1985, Malyn left the conjugal home (the house of her Kalaw in-laws)

psychological incapacity was manifested by her immaturity and

and her four children with Tyrone. [6] Meanwhile, Tyrone started living with

irresponsibility towards Tyrone and their children during their co-habitation,

Jocelyn, who bore him three more children.[7]

as shown by Malyns following acts:

In 1990, Tyrone went to the United States (US) with Jocelyn and their
children. He left his four children from his marriage with Malyn in a rented

1. she left the children without proper care and


attention as she played mahjong all day and all night;

[8]

house in Valle Verde with only a househelp and a driver. The househelp
would just call Malyn to take care of the children whenever any of them got
sick. Also, in accordance with their custody agreement, the children stayed
with Malyn on weekends.

2. she left the house to party with male friends


and returned in the early hours of the following day; and

[9]

3. she committed adultery on June 9, 1985,


In 1994, the two elder children, Rio and Ria, asked for Malyns permission to

which act Tyrone discovered in flagrante delicto.[13]

go to Japan for a one-week vacation. Malyn acceded only to learn later that
Tyrone brought the children to the US.[10] After just one year, Ria returned to
the Philippines and chose to live with Malyn.

During trial,[14] Tyrone narrated the circumstances of Malyns alleged

Meanwhile, Tyrone and Jocelyns family returned to the Philippines and

infidelity. According to him, on June 9, 1985, he and his brother-in-law,

resumed physical custody of the two younger children, Miggy and

Ronald Fernandez (Malyns brother), proceeded to Hyatt Hotel and learned

Jay. According to Malyn, from that time on, the children refused to go to her

that Malyn was occupying a room with a certain Benjie Guevarra

house on weekends because of alleged weekend plans with their father.[11]

(Benjie). When he proceeded to the said room, he saw Benjie and Malyn
inside.[15] At rebuttal, Tyrone elaborated that Benjie was wearing only a

Complaint for declaration of nullity of marriage

towel around his waist, while Malyn was lying in bed in her underwear. After
an exchange of words, he agreed not to charge Malyn with adultery when

On July 6, 1994, nine years since the de facto separation from his wife,

the latter agreed to relinquish all her marital and parental rights. [16] They put

Tyrone filed a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage based on Article

their agreement in writing before Atty. Jose Palarca.

36 of the Family Code.[12] He alleged that Malyn was psychologically


incapacitated to perform and comply with the essential marital obligations at

Tyrone presented a psychologist, Dr. Cristina Gates (Dr. Gates), and a


Catholic canon law expert, Fr. Gerard Healy, S.J. (Fr. Healy), to testify on

Fr. Healy clarified that playing mahjong and spending time with friends are

Malyns psychological incapacity.

not disorders by themselves. They only constitute psychological incapacity


whenever inordinate amounts of time are spent on these activities to the

Dr. Gates explained on the stand that the factual allegations regarding

detriment of ones familial duties.[23] Fr. Healy characterized Malyns

Malyns behavior her sexual infidelity, habitual mahjong playing, and her

psychological incapacity as grave and incurable.[24]

frequent nights-out with friends may reflect a narcissistic personality


disorder (NPD).[17] NPD is present when a person is obsessed to meet her
wants and needs in utter disregard of her significant others.

[18]

Malyns NPD

is manifest in her utter neglect of her duties as a mother.[19]

He based his opinion on his interview with Tyrone, the trial transcripts, as
well as the report of Dr. Natividad Dayan (Dr. Dayan), Malyns expert
witness.[25] He clarified that he did not verify the truthfulness of the factual
allegations regarding Malyns habits because he believed it is the courts

Dr. Gates reported that Malyns personality disorder may have been evident

duty to do so.[26] Instead, he formed his opinion on the assumption that the

even prior to her marriage because it is rooted in her family background and

factual allegations are indeed true.

upbringing, which the psychologist gathered to be materially deprived and


without a proper maternal role model.[20]

Malyns version

Dr. Gates based her diagnosis on the facts revealed by her interviews with

Malyn denied being psychologically incapacitated.[27] While she admitted

Tyrone, Trinidad Kalaw (Tyrones sister-in-law), and the son Miggy. She also

playing mahjong, she denied playing as frequently as Tyrone alleged. She

read the transcript of Tyrones court testimony.[21]

maintained that she did so only two to three times a week and always
between 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. only.[28] And in those instances, she always had

Fr. Healy corroborated Dr. Gates assessment. He concluded that Malyn


was psychologically incapacitated to perform her marital duties.

[22]

He

explained that her psychological incapacity is rooted in her role as the

Tyrones permission and would often bring the children and their
respective yayaswith her.[29] She maintained that she did not neglect her
duties as mother and wife.

breadwinner of her family. This role allegedly inflated Malyns ego to the
point that her needs became priority, while her kids and husbands needs

Malyn admitted leaving the conjugal home in May 1985. She, however,

became secondary.Malyn is so self-absorbed that she is incapable of

explained that she did so only to escape her physically abusive husband.

prioritizing her familys needs.

[30]

On the day she left, Tyrone, who preferred to keep Malyn a housewife,

was upset that Malyn was preparing to go to work. He called up the security

dependence, habitual drinking, womanizing, and physical violence.[35] Malyn

guards and instructed them not to let Malyn out of the house. Tyrone then

presented Dr. Dayan a clinical psychologist, as her expert witness.

placed cigarette ashes on Malyns head and proceeded to lock the bedroom
doors. Fearing another beating, Malyn rushed out of their bedroom and into

Dr. Dayan interviewed Tyrone, Malyn, Miggy/Mickey, Jay, and Ria for her

her mother-in-laws room. She blurted that Tyrone would beat her up again

psychological evaluation of the spouses. The factual narrations culled from

so her mother-in-law gave her P300 to leave the house.

[31]

She never

returned to their conjugal home.

these interviews reveal that Tyrone found Malyn a lousy mother because of
her mahjong habit,[36] while Malyn was fed up with Tyrones sexual infidelity,
drug habit, and physical abuse.[37] Dr. Dayan determined that both Tyrone

Malyn explained that she applied for work, against Tyrones wishes,

and Malyn were behaviorally immature. They encountered problems

because she wanted to be self-sufficient. Her resolve came from her

because of their personality differences, which ultimately led to the demise

discovery that Tyrone had a son by Jocelyn and had secretly gone to the

of their marriage. Her diagnostic impressions are summarized below:

US with Jocelyn.

[32]

The marriage of Tyrone and Malyn was a mistake from


Malyn denied the allegation of adultery. She maintained that Benjie only

the very beginning. Both of them were not truly ready for

booked a room at the Hyatt Hotel for her because she was so drunk after

marriage even after two years of living together and

partying with friends. She admitted finding her brother Ronald and Tyrone

having a child. When Malyn first met Tyrone who

at the door of the Hyatt Hotel room, but maintained being fully clothed at

showered her with gifts, flowers, and affection she

that time.

[33]

Malyn insisted that she wrote the letter relinquishing all her

spousal and parental rights under duress.[34]

resisted his overtures. She made it clear that she could


take him or leave him. But the minute she started to care,
she became a different person clingy and immature,

After the Hyatt Hotel incident, Malyn only saw her children by surreptitiously

doubting his love, constantly demanding reassurance that

visiting them in school. She later obtained partial custody of the children as

she

an incident to the legal separation action filed by Tyrone against her (which

life. She became relationship-dependent. It appears that

action was subsequently dismissed for lack of interest).

her style then was when she begins to care for a man,

was

the

most

important

person

in

his

she puts all her energy into him and loses focus on
As an affirmative defense, Malyn maintained that it was Tyrone who was

herself. This imbalance between thinking and feeling was

suffering from psychological incapacity, as manifested by his drug

overwhelming to Tyrone who admitted that the thought of

commitment scared him. Tyrone admitted that when he

committing himself to his duties as a husband. He is unable to remain

was in his younger years, he was often out seeking other

faithful to Malyn and is psychologically incapacitated to perform this duty.[41]

women. His interest in them was not necessarily for sex,


just for fun dancing, drinking, or simply flirting.

Childrens version

Both of them seem behaviorally immature. For some

The children all stated that both their parents took care of them, provided for

time, Malyn adapted to her husband who was a moody

their needs, and loved them. Rio testified that they would accompany their

man with short temper and unresolved issues with

mother to White Plains on days that she played mahjong with her

parents and siblings. He was a distancer, concerned

friends. None of them reported being neglected or feeling abandoned.

more about his work and friends tha[n] he was about


spending time with his family. Because of Malyns and

The two elder kids remembered the fights between their parents but it was

Tyrones backgrounds (both came from families with high

only Ria who admitted actually witnessing physical abuse inflicted on her

conflicts) they experienced turmoil and chaos in their

mother.[42] The two elder kids also recalled that, after the separation, their

marriage. The conflicts they had struggled to avoid

mother would visit them only in school.[43]

suddenly

galloped

out

of

control Their

individual

personalities broke through, precipitating the demise of


their marriage.

[38]

The children recalled living in Valle Verde with only the househelp and driver
during the time that their dad was abroad.[44] While they did not live with
their mother while they were housed in Valle Verde, the kids were in
agreement that their mother took care of them on weekends and would see

Dr. Dayan likewise wrote in her psychological evaluation report that Malyn

to their needs. They had a common recollection that the househelp would

exhibited significant, but not severe, dependency, narcissism, and

call their mother to come and take care of them in Valle Verde whenever

compulsiveness.

[39]

any of them was sick.[45]


Other witnesses

On the stand, the psychologist elaborated that while Malyn had relationship
problems with Tyrone, she appeared to have a good relationship with her

Dr. Cornelio Banaag, Tyrones attending psychiatrist at the Manila

kids.[40] As for Tyrone, he has commitment issues which prevent him from

Sanitarium, testified that, for the duration of Tyrones confinement, the


couple appeared happy and the wife was commendable for the support she

gave to her spouse.[46] He likewise testified that Tyrone tested negative for
drugs and was not a drug dependent.

[47]

respective schools. And while she was only granted weekend custody of
the children, it appeared that she made efforts to personally attend to their
needs and to devote time with them.[51]

Malyns brother, Ronald Fernandez, confirmed Tyrones allegation that they

On the contrary, Tyrone, who had custody of the children since the

found Malyn with Benjie in the Hyatt hotel room. Contrary to Tyrones

couples de facto separation, simply left the children for several years with

version, he testified that neither he nor Tyrone entered the room, but stayed

only a maid and a driver to care for them while he lived with his second

in the hallway. He likewise did not recall seeing Benjie or Malyn half-naked.

family abroad.[52] The social worker found that Tyrone tended to prioritize his

[48]

second family to the detriment of his children with Malyn. Given this history
during the formative years of the children, the social worker did not find

Tyrone then presented Mario Calma (Mario), who was allegedly part of

Tyrone a reliable parent to whom custody of adolescents may be awarded.

Malyns group of friends. He stated on the stand that they would go on


nights-out as a group and Malyn would meet with a male musician-friend

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court[53]

afterwards.[49]
After summarizing the evidence presented by both parties, the trial court
Social worker

concluded that both parties are psychologically incapacitated to perform the


essential marital obligations under the Family Code. The courts Decision is

The trial court ordered the court social worker, Jocelyn V. Arre (Arre), to

encapsulated in this paragraph:

conduct a social case study on the parties as well as the minor


children. Arre interviewed the parties Tyrone and Malyn; the minor

From the evidence, it appears that parties are both

children Miggy/Mickey and Jay; Tyrones live-in partner, Jocelyn; [50] and

suffering from psychological incapacity to perform their

Tyrone and Malyns only daughter, Ria. While both parents are financially

essential marital obligations under Article 36 of the Family

stable and have positive relationships with their children, she recommended

Code. The parties entered into a marriage without as

that the custody of the minor children be awarded to Malyn. Based on the

much as understanding what it entails. They failed to

interviews of family members themselves, Malyn was shown to be more

commit themselves to its essential obligations: the

available to the children and to exercise better supervision and care. The

conjugal act, the community of life and love, the rendering

social worker commended the fact that even after Malyn left the conjugal

of mutual help, the procreation and education of their

home in 1985, she made efforts to visit her children clandestinely in their

children to become responsible individuals. Parties

psychological incapacity is grave, and serious such that

Petitioners arguments

both are incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties


required in marriage. The incapacity has been clinically

Petitioner Tyrone argues that the CA erred in disregarding the factual

established and was found to be pervasive, grave and

findings of the trial court, which is the court that is in the best position to

incurable.

[54]

appreciate the evidence. He opines that he has presented preponderant

The trial court then declared the parties marriage void ab initio pursuant to

evidence to prove that respondent is psychologically incapacitated to

Article 36 of the Family Code.[55]

perform her essential marital obligations, to wit:

Ruling of the Court of Appeals[56]

a) the expert witnesses, Dr. Gates and Fr. Healy, proved


on the stand that respondents egocentric attitude, immaturity, self-

Malyn appealed the trial courts Decision to the CA. The CA reversed the
trial courts ruling because it is not supported by the facts on record. Both

obsession

and

respondents NPD;

self-centeredness

were

manifestations

of

[61]

parties allegations and incriminations against each other do not support a


finding of psychological incapacity. The parties faults tend only to picture

b) these expert witnesses proved that respondents NPD

their immaturity and irresponsibility in performing their marital and familial

is grave and incurable and prevents her from performing her

obligations.At most, there may be sufficient grounds for a legal separation.

essential martial obligations;[62] and

[57]

Moreover, the psychological report submitted by petitioners expert

witness, Dr. Gates, does not explain how the diagnosis of NPD came to be

c) that respondents NPD existed at the time of the

drawn from the sources. It failed to satisfy the legal and jurisprudential

celebration of the marriage because it is rooted in her upbringing,

requirements for the declaration of nullity of marriage.[58]

family background, and socialite lifestyle prior to her marriage.[63]

Tyrone filed a motion for reconsideration [59] but the same was denied

Petitioner stresses that even respondent insisted that their marriage is void

on December 15, 2004.[60]

because of psychological incapacity, albeit on petitioners part.[64]


Respondents arguments

Respondent maintains that Tyrone failed to discharge his burden of proving


[65]

her alleged psychological incapacity.

She argues that the testimonies of

Whether petitioner has sufficiently proved that respondent suffers from


psychological incapacity

her children and the findings of the court social worker to the effect that she
was a good, loving, and attentive mother are sufficient to rebut Tyrones
allegation that she was negligent and irresponsible.

Our Ruling

[66]

The petition has no merit. The CA committed no reversible error in setting


She assails Dr. Gatess report as one-sided and lacking in depth. Dr. Gates

aside the trial courts Decision for lack of legal and factual basis.

did not interview her, their common children, or even Jocelyn. Moreover, her
report failed to state that Malyns alleged psychological incapacity was grave

A petition for declaration of nullity of marriage is governed by Article 36 of

and incurable.[67] Fr. Healys testimony, on the other hand, was based only

the Family Code which provides:

on Tyrones version of the facts.

[68]

ART. 36. A marriage contracted by any party


who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically

Malyn reiterates the appellate courts ruling that the trial court Decision is

incapacitated to comply with the essential marital

intrinsically defective for failing to support its conclusion of psychological

obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such

incapacity with factual findings.

incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.

Almost four years after filing her memorandum, respondent apparently had
a change of heart and filed a Manifestation with Motion for Leave to

Psychological incapacity is the downright incapacity or inability to take

Withdraw Comment and Memorandum.[69]She manifested that she was no

cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations.[72] The burden of

longer disputing the possibility that their marriage may really be void on the

proving psychological incapacity is on the plaintiff.[73] The plaintiff must prove

basis of Tyrones psychological incapacity. She then asked the Court to

that the incapacitated party, based on his or her actions or behavior, suffers

dispose of the case with justice.

[70]

Her manifestation and motion were

noted by the Court in its January 20, 2010 Resolution.[71]

a serious psychological disorder that completely disables him or her from


understanding and discharging the essential obligations of the marital state.
The psychological problem must be grave, must have existed at the time of

Issue

marriage, and must be incurable.[74]

In the case at bar, petitioner failed to prove that his wife (respondent) suffers

present any proof, other than his own testimony, that the mahjong sessions

from psychological incapacity. He presented the testimonies of two

were so frequent that respondent neglected her family. While he intimated

supposed

is

that two of his sons repeated the second grade, he was not able to link this

psychologically incapacitated, but the conclusions of these witnesses were

episode to respondents mahjong-playing. The least that could have been

premised on the alleged acts or behavior of respondent which had not been

done was to prove the frequency of respondents mahjong-playing during

sufficiently proven.Petitioners experts heavily relied on petitioners

the years when these two children were in second grade. This was not

allegations of respondents constant mahjong sessions, visits to the beauty

done. Thus, while there is no dispute that respondent played mahjong, its

parlor, going out with friends, adultery, and neglect of their children.

alleged debilitating frequency and adverse effect on the children were not

Petitioners experts opined that respondents alleged habits, when performed

proven.

constantly to the detriment of quality and quantity of time devoted to her

Also unproven was petitioners claim about respondents alleged constant

duties as mother and wife, constitute a psychological incapacity in the form

visits to the beauty parlor, going out with friends, and obsessive need for

of NPD.

attention from other men. No proof whatsoever was presented to prove her

expert

witnesses who

concluded

that

respondent

visits to beauty salons or her frequent partying with friends. Petitioner


But petitioners allegations, which served as the bases or

presented Mario (an alleged companion of respondent during these nights-

underlying premises of the conclusions of his experts, were not actually

out) in order to prove that respondent had affairs with other men, but Mario

proven. In fact, respondent presented contrary evidence refuting these

only testified that respondent appeared to be dating other men. Even

allegations of the petitioner.

assuming arguendo that petitioner was able to prove that respondent had
an extramarital affair with another man, that one instance of sexual infidelity

For instance, petitioner alleged that respondent constantly played mahjong

cannot, by itself, be equated with obsessive need for attention from other

and neglected their children as a result. Respondent admittedly played

men. Sexual infidelity per se is a ground for legal separation, but it does not

mahjong, but it was not proven that she engaged in mahjong so frequently

necessarily constitute psychological incapacity.

that she neglected her duties as a mother and a wife. Respondent refuted

Given the insufficiency of evidence that respondent actually engaged in the

petitioners allegations that she played four to five times a week. She

behaviors described as constitutive of NPD, there is no basis for concluding

maintained it was only two to three times a week and always with the

that she was indeed psychologically incapacitated. Indeed, the totality of the

permission of her husband and without abandoning her children at

evidence points to the opposite conclusion. A fair assessment of the facts

home. The children corroborated this, saying that they were with their

would show that respondent was not totally remiss and incapable of

mother when she played mahjong in their relatives home. Petitioner did not

appreciating and performing her marital and parental duties. Not once did

the children state that they were neglected by their mother. On the contrary,

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Court of

they narrated that she took care of them, was around when they were sick,

Appeals May 27, 2004 Decision and its December 15, 2004 Resolution in

and cooked the food they like. It appears that respondent made real efforts

CA-G.R. CV No. 64240 areAFFIRMED.

to see and take care of her children despite her estrangement from their
father.There was no testimony whatsoever that shows abandonment and
neglect of familial duties. While petitioner cites the fact that his two sons,
Rio and Miggy, both failed the second elementary level despite having
tutors, there is nothing to link their academic shortcomings to Malyns
actions.
After poring over the records of the case, the Court finds no factual basis for
the conclusion of psychological incapacity. There is no error in the CAs
reversal of the trial courts ruling that there was psychological incapacity. The
trial courts Decision merely summarized the allegations, testimonies, and
evidence of the respective parties, but it did not actually assess the veracity
of these allegations, the credibility of the witnesses, and the weight of the
evidence. The trial court did not make factual findings which can serve as
bases for its legal conclusion of psychological incapacity.
What transpired between the parties is acrimony and, perhaps,
infidelity, which may have constrained them from dedicating the best of
themselves to each other and to their children. There may be grounds for
legal separation, but certainly not psychological incapacity that voids a
marriage.

FIRST DIVISION

divorce decree capacitating him or her to remarry, can the Filipino


spouse likewise remarry under Philippine law?
Before us is a case of first impression that behooves the
Court to make a definite ruling on this apparently novel question,

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,


G.R. No. 154380

Petitioner,

presented as a pure question of law.


In this petition for review, the Solicitor General assails
the Decision[1] dated May 15, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of

Present:

Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23 and itsResolution[2] dated


July 4, 2002 denying the motion for reconsideration. The court a

- versus -

Davide, Jr., C.J.,

quo had declared that herein respondent Cipriano Orbecido III is

(Chairman),

capacitated to remarry. The fallo of the impugned Decision reads:

Quisumbing,

WHEREFORE, by virtue of the provision of the

Ynares-Santiago,

second paragraph of Art. 26 of the Family Code and


by reason of the divorce decree obtained against

Carpio, and

him by his American wife, the petitioner is given the


capacity to remarry under the Philippine Law.

Azcuna, JJ.

IT IS SO ORDERED.[3]

CIPRIANO ORBECIDO III,


Respondent.

Promulgated:

The factual antecedents, as narrated by the trial court, are as

October 5, 2005
x-------------------------------------------------

follows.

-x

Villanueva at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Lam-

On May 24, 1981, Cipriano Orbecido III married Lady Myros M.


an, Ozamis City. Their marriage was blessed with a son and a

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

daughter, Kristoffer Simbortriz V. Orbecido and Lady Kimberly V.


Orbecido.

Given a valid marriage between two Filipino citizens, where

In 1986, Ciprianos wife left for the United States bringing

one party is later naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a valid

along their son Kristoffer. A few years later, Cipriano discovered that
his wife had been naturalized as an American citizen.

Sometime in 2000, Cipriano learned from his son that his

At the outset, we note that the petition for authority to remarry filed

wife had obtained a divorce decree and then married a certain

before the trial court actually constituted a petition for declaratory

Innocent Stanley. She, Stanley and her child by him currently live at

relief. In this connection, Section 1, Rule 63 of the Rules of Court

5566 A. Walnut Grove Avenue, San Gabriel, California.

provides:

Cipriano thereafter filed with the trial court a petition for authority to

RULE 63

remarry invoking Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code. No

DECLARATORY RELIEF AND SIMILAR REMEDIES

opposition was filed. Finding merit in the petition, the court granted
the same. The Republic, herein petitioner, through the Office of the

Section

Solicitor General (OSG), sought reconsideration but it was denied.

interested under a deed, will, contract or other

In this petition, the OSG raises a pure question of law:

written instrument, or whose rights are affected by a

WHETHER

OR

NOT

RESPONDENT

1. Who

may

file

petitionAny

person

CAN

statute, executive order or regulation, ordinance, or

REMARRY UNDER ARTICLE 26 OF THE FAMILY

other governmental regulation may, before breach or

CODE[4]

violation thereof, bring an action in the appropriate

The OSG contends that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code

Regional Trial Court to determine any question of

is not applicable to the instant case because it only applies to a valid

construction or validity arising, and for a declaration

mixed marriage; that is, a marriage celebrated between a Filipino

of his rights or duties, thereunder.

citizen and an alien. The proper remedy, according to the OSG, is to


file a petition for annulment or for legal separation.

[5]

...

Furthermore,

The requisites of a petition for declaratory relief are: (1) there must

the OSG argues there is no law that governs respondents situation.

be a justiciable controversy; (2) the controversy must be between

The OSG posits that this is a matter of legislation and not of judicial

persons whose interests are adverse; (3) that the party seeking the

determination.

[6]

For his part, respondent admits that Article 26 is not directly

relief has a legal interest in the controversy; and (4) that the issue is
ripe for judicial determination.[8]

applicable to his case but insists that when his naturalized alien wife

This case concerns the applicability of Paragraph 2 of Article

obtained a divorce decree which capacitated her to remarry, he is

26 to a marriage between two Filipino citizens where one later

likewise capacitated by operation of law pursuant to Section 12,

acquired alien citizenship, obtained a divorce decree, and remarried

Article II of the Constitution.[7]

while in the U.S.A. The interests of the parties are also adverse, as
petitioner representing the State asserts its duty to protect the

institution of marriage while respondent, a private citizen, insists on a

valid there as such, shall also be valid in this

declaration of his capacity to remarry. Respondent, praying for relief,

country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1),

has legal interest in the controversy. The issue raised is also ripe for

(4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

judicial determination inasmuch as when respondent remarries,

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen

litigation ensues and puts into question the validity of his second

and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is

marriage.

thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien

Coming now to the substantive issue, does Paragraph 2 of Article 26

spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the

of the Family Code apply to the case of respondent? Necessarily, we

Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under

must dwell on how this provision had come about in the first place,

Philippine law. (Emphasis supplied)

and what was the intent of the legislators in its enactment?

On its face, the foregoing provision does not appear to

Brief Historical Background

govern the situation presented by the case at hand. It seems to apply

On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into

only to cases where at the time of the celebration of the marriage,

law Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the Family Code,

the parties are a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The instant case is

which took effect on August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states:

one where at the time the marriage was solemnized, the parties were

All

marriages

solemnized

outside

the

two Filipino citizens, but later on, the wife was naturalized as an

Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in

American citizen and subsequently obtained a divorce granting her

the country where they were solemnized, and valid

capacity to remarry, and indeed she remarried an American citizen

there as such, shall also be valid in this country,

while residing in the U.S.A.


Noteworthy, in the Report of the Public Hearings [9] on the

except those prohibited under Articles 35, 37, and


38.

Family Code, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original

(CBCP) registered the following objections to Paragraph 2 of Article

Family Code, Executive Order No. 227 was likewise signed into law,
amending Articles 26, 36, and 39 of the Family Code. A second
paragraph was added to Article 26. As so amended, it now provides:

26:
1.

The

rule

is

discriminatory.

It

discriminates against those whose spouses

ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside

are Filipinos who divorce them abroad.

the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force

These spouses who are divorced will not be

in the country where they were solemnized, and

able to re-marry, while the spouses of

foreigners who validly divorce them abroad

of Quita v. Court of Appeals.[11] In Quita, the parties were, as in this

can.
2.

The jurisprudential answer lies latent in the 1998 case

This is the beginning of the recognition

case, Filipino citizens when they got married. The wife became a

of the validity of divorce even for Filipino

naturalized American citizen in 1954 and obtained a divorce in the

citizens. For those whose foreign spouses

same year. The Court therein hinted, by way of obiter dictum, that a

validly divorce them abroad will also be

Filipino divorced by his naturalized foreign spouse is no longer

considered to be validly divorced here and

married under Philippine law and can thus remarry.

can re-marry. We propose that this be

Thus, taking into consideration the legislative intent and

deleted and made into law only after more

applying the rule of reason, we hold that Paragraph 2 of Article 26

widespread

should be interpreted to include cases involving parties who, at the

consultation.

(Emphasis

supplied.)

time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino citizens, but later
Legislative Intent

on, one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains

Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations

a divorce decree. The Filipino spouse should likewise be allowed to

showed that the intent of Paragraph 2 of Article 26, according to

remarry as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the

Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a member of theCivil Code Revision

solemnization of the marriage. To rule otherwise would be to sanction

Committee, is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse

absurdity and injustice. Where the interpretation of a statute

remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is

according to its exact and literal import would lead to mischievous

no longer married to the Filipino spouse.

results or contravene the clear purpose of the legislature, it should

Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the

be construed according to its spirit and reason, disregarding as far

1985 case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.[10] The Van Dorn case involved

as necessary the letter of the law. A statute may therefore be

a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The Court held

extended to cases not within the literal meaning of its terms, so long

therein that a divorce decree validly obtained by the alien spouse is

as they come within its spirit or intent.[12]

valid in the Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino spouse is


capacitated to remarry under Philippine law.

If we are to give meaning to the legislative intent to avoid the


absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the

Does the same principle apply to a case where at the time of

alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce is no longer married to

the celebration of the marriage, the parties were Filipino citizens, but

the Filipino spouse, then the instant case must be deemed as

later on, one of them obtains a foreign citizenship by naturalization?

coming within the contemplation of Paragraph 2 of Article 26.

In view of the foregoing, we state the twin elements for the


application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 as follows:
1.

2.

hence, the legally separated Filipino spouse would still remain


married to the naturalized alien spouse.

There is a valid marriage that has been

However, we note that the records are bereft of competent evidence

celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a

duly submitted by respondent concerning the divorce decree and the

foreigner; and

naturalization of respondents wife. It is settled rule that one who

A valid divorce is obtained abroad by

alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and mere allegation is not

the alien spouse capacitating him or her to

evidence.[13]

remarry.

Accordingly, for his plea to prosper, respondent herein must prove

The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the

his allegation that his wife was naturalized as an American citizen.

time of the celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time

Likewise, before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our

a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the

own courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and

latter to remarry.

demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. [14] Such

In this case, when Ciprianos wife was naturalized as an

foreign law must also be proved as our courts cannot take judicial

American citizen, there was still a valid marriage that has been

notice of foreign laws. Like any other fact, such laws must be alleged

celebrated between her and Cipriano. As fate would have it, the

and proved.[15] Furthermore, respondent must also show that the

naturalized alien wife subsequently obtained a valid divorce

divorce decree allows his former wife to remarry as specifically

capacitating her to remarry. Clearly, the twin requisites for the

required in Article 26. Otherwise, there would be no evidence

application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 are both present in this case.

sufficient to declare that he is capacitated to enter into another

Thus Cipriano, the divorced Filipino spouse, should be allowed to

marriage.

remarry.

Nevertheless, we are unanimous in our holding that Paragraph 2 of

We are also unable to sustain the OSGs theory that the

Article 26 of the Family Code (E.O. No. 209, as amended by E.O.

proper remedy of the Filipino spouse is to file either a petition for

No. 227), should be interpreted to allow a Filipino citizen, who has

annulment or a petition for legal separation. Annulment would be a

been divorced by a spouse who had acquired foreign citizenship and

long and tedious process, and in this particular case, not even

remarried, also to remarry. However, considering that in the present

feasible, considering that the marriage of the parties appears to have

petition there is no sufficient evidence submitted and on record, we

all the badges of validity. On the other hand, legal separation would

are unable to declare, based on respondents bare allegations that

not be a sufficient remedy for it would not sever the marriage tie;

his wife, who was naturalized as an American citizen, had obtained a

divorce decree and had remarried an American, that respondent is


now capacitated to remarry. Such declaration could only be made
properly upon respondents submission of the aforecited evidence in
his favor.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition by the Republic of the Philippines
is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated May 15, 2002, and
Resolution dated July 4, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of Molave,
Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23, are hereby SET ASIDE.
No pronouncement as to costs.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

Petitioner Filipina Y. Sy and private respondent Fernando Sy


contracted marriage on November 15, 1973 at the Church of Our
Lady of Lourdes in Quezon City. 4 Both were then 22 years old. Their
union was blessed with two children, Frederick and Farrah Sheryll

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 127263

April 12, 2000

FILIPINA Y. SY, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HONORABLE

who were born on July 8, 1975 and February 14, 1978, respectively.5
The spouses first established their residence in Singalong, Manila,
then in Apalit, Pampanga, and later at San Matias, Sto. Tomas,
Pampanga. They operated a lumber and hardware business in Sto.
Tomas, Pampanga.6

REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA,

On September 15, 1983, Fernando left their conjugal dwelling. Since

BRANCH XLI, and FERNANDO SY, respondents.

then, the spouses lived separately, and their two children were in the
custody of their mother. However, their son Frederick transferred to
his father's residence at Masangkay, Tondo, Manila on May 15,

QUISUMBING, J.:
For review is the decision1 dated May 21, 1996 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 44144, which affirmedthe decision2 of
the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, denying the
petition3 for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage of the spouses
Filipina Sy and Fernando Sy.

1988, and from then on, lived with his father.7


On February 11, 1987, Filipina filed a petition for legal separation,
docketed as Civil Case No. 7900 before the Regional Trial Court of
San Fernando, Pampanga. Later, upon motion of petitioner, the
action was later amended to a petition for separation of property on
the grounds that her husband abandoned her without just cause; that
they have been living separately for more than one year; and that
they voluntarily entered into a Memorandum of Agreement dated
September 29, 1983, containing the rules that would govern the
dissolution of their conjugal partnership.8 Judgment was rendered
dissolving their conjugal partnership of gains and approving a regime

of separation of properties based on the Memorandum of Agreement


9

grounds: (1) repeated physical violence; (2) sexual infidelity; (3)

executed by the spouses. The trial court also granted custody of the

attempt by respondent against her life; and (4) abandonment of her

children to Filipina. 10

by her husband without justifiable cause for more than one year. The
Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, in its

In May 1988, Filipina filed a criminal action for attempted parricide

decision 13 dated December 4, 1991, granted the petition on the

against her husband, docketed as Criminal Case No. 88-68006,

grounds of repeated physical violence and sexual infidelity, and

before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. Filipina testified that in the

issued a decree of legal separation. It awarded custody of their

afternoon of May 15, 1988, she went to the dental clinic at

daughter Farrah Sheryll to petitioner, and their son Frederick to

Masangkay, Tondo, Manila, owned by her husband but operated by

respondent.

his mistress, to fetch her son and bring him to San Fernando,
14

Pampanga. While she was talking to her son, the boy ignored her

On August 4, 1992, Filipina filed a petition

and continued playing with the family computer. Filipina got mad,

absolute nullity of her marriage to Fernando on the ground of

took the computer away from her son, and started spanking him. At

psychological incapacity. She points out that the final judgment

that instance, Fernando pulled Filipina away from their son, and

rendered by the Regional Trial Court in her favor, in her petitions for

punched her in the different parts of her body. Filipina also claimed

separation of property and legal separation, and Fernando's infliction

that her husband started choking her when she fell on the floor, and

of physical violence on her which led to the conviction of her

released her only when he thought she was dead. Filipina suffered

husband for slight physical injuries are symptoms of psychological

from hematoma and contusions on different parts of her body as a

incapacity. She also cites as manifestations of her husband's

result of the blows inflicted by her husband, evidenced by a Medical

psychological incapacity the following: (1) habitual alcoholism; (2)

Certificate issued by a certain Dr. James Ferraren. She said it was

refusal to live with her without fault on her part, choosing to live with

not the first time Fernando maltreated her.

11

for the declaration of

his mistress instead; and (3) refusal to have sex with her, performing
the marital act only to satisfy himself. Moreover, Filipina alleges that

The Regional Trial Court of Manila, however, in its decision

12

dated

such psychological incapacity of her husband existed from the time

April 26, 1990, convicted Fernando only of the lesser crime of slight

of the celebration of their marriage and became manifest

physical injuries, and sentenced him to 20 days imprisonment.

thereafter. 15

Petitioner later filed a new action for legal separation against private
respondent, docketed as Civil Case No. 8273, on the following

The Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, in its


decision

16

dated December 9, 1993, denied the petition of Filipina

1. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF


APPEALS MANIFESTLY OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT

Sy for the declaration of absolute nullity of her marriage to Fernando.

ON THE DATE OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE PARTIES'

It stated that the alleged acts of the respondent, as cited by

MARRIAGE ON NOVEMBER 15, 1973, NOT DISPUTED BY

petitioner, do not constitute psychological incapacity which may

RESPONDENT FERNANDO, THERE WAS NO MARRIAGE

warrant the declaration of absolute nullity of their marriage.

LICENSE THERETO;

Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the

2. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF

decision of the trial court. In the decision

17

of the Court of Appeals

APPEALS COMMITTED MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS

dated May 21, 1996, it ruled that the testimony of petitioner

BY STATING THAT THE GROUNDS RELIED UPON BY

concerning respondent's purported psychological incapacity falls

APPELLANT [herein petitioner] DO NOT CONSTITUTE

short of the quantum of evidence required to nullify a marriage

PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY AS WOULD JUSTIFY

celebrated with all the formal and essential requisites of law.

NULLIFICATION OF HER MARRIAGE TO APPELLEE

Moreover, the Court of Appeals held that petitioner failed to show

[herein respondent];

that the alleged psychological incapacity of respondent had existed


at the time of the celebration of their marriage in 1973. It reiterated

3. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF

the finding of the trial court that the couple's marital problems

APPEALS COMMITTED MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS

surfaced only in 1983, or almost ten years from the date of the

BY STATING THAT APPELLANT FAILED TO SHOW THAT

celebration of their marriage. And prior to their separation in 1983,

THE ALLEGED UNDESIRABLE ACTUATIONS OF

they were living together harmoniously. Thus, the Court of Appeals

APPELLEE HAD EXISTED OR WERE PRESENT AT THE

affirmed the judgment of the lower court which it found to be in

TIME THEIR MARRIAGE WAS CELEBRATED IN 1973;

accordance with law and the evidence on record.


Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration,

19

18

4. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF

which the Court of

Appeals denied in its resolution dated November 21, 1996.

20

APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION


IN AFFIRMING THE ERRONEOUS RULING OF THE
LOWER COURT THAT THERE IS A REDEEMING

Hence, this appeal by certiorari 21 wherein petitioner now raises the

ATTITUDE SHOWN TO THE COURT BY RESPONDENT

following issues:

FERNANDO WITH RESPECT TO HIS CHILDREN AND

ALSO BELIEVES THAT RECONCILIATION BETWEEN THE

rights of litigants. We said that certain rules ought not to be applied

PARTIES IS NOT A REMOTE POSSIBILITY WHICH IS

with severity and rigidity if by so doing, the very reason for their

ERRONEOUS; AND

existence would be defeated. 24 Hence, when substantial justice


plainly requires, exempting a particular case from the operation of

5. WHETHER OR NOT THE CASE OF SANTOS V. COURT


OF APPEALS (240 SCRA 20) IS APPLICABLE HERETO.

22

In sum, two issues are to be resolved:


1. Whether or not the marriage between petitioner and private
respondent is void from the beginning for lack of a marriage license
at the time of the ceremony; and
2. Whether or not private respondent is psychologically incapacitated
at the time of said marriage celebration to warrant a declaration of its
absolute nullity.

technicalities should not be subject to cavil.

25

In our view, the case at

bar requires that we address the issue of the validity of the marriage
between Filipina and Fernando which petitioner claims is void from
the beginning for lack of a marriage license, in order to arrive at a
just resolution of a deeply seated and violent conflict between the
parties. Note, however, that here the pertinent facts are not disputed;
and what is required now is a declaration of their effects according to
existing law.
Petitioner states that though she did not categorically state in her
petition for annulment of marriage before the trial court that the
incongruity in the dates of the marriage license and the celebration of

Petitioner, for the first time, raises the issue of the marriage being

the marriage itself would lead to the conclusion that her marriage to

void for lack of a valid marriage license at the time of its celebration.

Fernando was void from the beginning, she points out that these

It appears that, according to her, the date of the actual celebration of

critical dates were contained in the documents she submitted before

their marriage and the date of issuance of their marriage certificate

the court. The date of issue of the marriage license and marriage

and marriage license are different and incongruous.

certificate, September 17, 1974, is contained in their marriage


contract which was attached as Annex "A" in her petition for

Although we have repeatedly ruled that litigants cannot raise an

declaration of absolute nullity of marriage before the trial court, and

issue for the first time on appeal, as this would contravene the basic

thereafter marked as Exhibit "A" in the course of the trial.

rules of fair play and justice, 23 in a number of instances, we have

of celebration of their marriage at Our Lady of Lourdes, Sta. Teresita

relaxed observance of procedural rules, noting that technicalities are

Parish, on November 15, 1973, is admitted both by petitioner and

not ends in themselves but exist to protect and promote substantive

private respondent, as stated in paragraph three of petitioner's

26

The date

petition for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage before the


trial court, and private respondent's answer admitting it.

27

This fact

marriage license was issued on September 17, 1974, almost one


year after the ceremony took place on November 15, 1973. The

was also affirmed by petitioner, in open court, on January 22, 1993,

ineluctable conclusion is that the marriage was indeed contracted

during her direct examination, 28 as follows:

without a marriage license. Nowhere do we find private respondent


denying these dates on record. Article 80 of the Civil Code

31

is

ATTY. RAZON: In the last hearing, you said that you were

clearly applicable in this case. There being no claim of an

married on November 15, 1973?

exceptional character, the purported marriage between petitioner and


private respondent could not be classified among those enumerated

FILIPINA SY: Yes, Sir.

in Articles 72-79 32 of the Civil Code. We thus conclude that under

November 15, 1973, also appears as the date of marriage of the


parents in both their son's and daughter's birth certificates, which are
also attached as Annexes "B" and "C" in the petition for declaration
of absolute nullity of marriage before the trial court, and thereafter
marked as Exhibits "B" and "C" in the course of the trial.

29

These

pieces of evidence on record plainly and indubitably show that on the


day of the marriage ceremony, there was no marriage license. A
marriage license is a formal requirement; its absence renders the
marriage void ab initio. In addition, the marriage contract shows that
the marriage license, numbered 6237519, was issued in Carmona,
Cavite, yet, neither petitioner nor private respondent ever resided in
Carmona. 30
Carefully reviewing the documents and the pleadings on record, we
find that indeed petitioner did not expressly state in her petition
before the trial court that there was incongruity between the date of
the actual celebration of their marriage and the date of the issuance
of their marriage license. From the documents she presented, the

Article 80 of the Civil Code, the marriage between petitioner and


private respondent is void from the beginning.
We note that their marriage certificate and marriage license are only
photocopies. So are the birth certificates of their son Frederick and
daughter Farrah Sheryll. Nevertheless, these documents were
marked as Exhibits during the course of the trial below, which shows
that these have been examined and admitted by the trial court, with
no objections having been made as to their authenticity and due
execution. Likewise, no objection was interposed to petitioner's
testimony in open court when she affirmed that the date of the actual
celebration of their marriage was on November 15, 1973. We are of
the view, therefore, that having been admitted in evidence, with the
adverse party failing to timely object thereto, these documents are
deemed sufficient proof of the facts contained therein. 33
The remaining issue on the psychological incapacity of private
respondent need no longer detain us. It is mooted by our conclusion

that the marriage of petitioner to respondent is void ab initio for lack


of a marriage license at the time their marriage was solemnized.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the
Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, dated December
9, 1993 as well as the Decision promulgated on May 21, 1996 by the
Court of Appeals and its Resolution dated November 21, 1996 in CAG.R. No. 44144 are set aside. The marriage celebrated on
November 15, 1973 between petitioner Filipina Yap and private
respondent Fernando Sy is hereby declared void ab initio for lack of
a marriage license at the time of celebration. No pronouncement as
to costs.

SO ORDERED.