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P e r s o n s a n d Fa m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( Fa m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 1

G.R. No. 174689

October 22, 2007

ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, petitioner,


vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
When God created man, He made him in the likeness of
God; He created them male and female. (Genesis 5:1-2)
Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed planted by
Bathala and she heard voices coming from inside the
bamboo. "Oh North Wind! North Wind! Please let us
out!," the voices said. She pecked the reed once, then
twice. All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit
open. Out came two human beings; one was a male and
the other was a female. Amihan named the man
"Malakas" (Strong) and the woman "Maganda"
(Beautiful). (The Legend of Malakas and Maganda)
When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In
particular, does the law recognize the changes made by a
physician using scalpel, drugs and counseling with regard to a
persons sex? May a person successfully petition for a change
of name and sex appearing in the birth certificate to reflect the
result of a sex reassignment surgery?
On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes
Silverio filed a petition for the change of his first name and sex
in his birth certificate in the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 8. The petition, docketed as SP Case No. 02-105207,
impleaded the civil registrar of Manila as respondent.
Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the City of
Manila to the spouses Melecio Petines Silverio and Anita
Aquino Dantes on April 4, 1962. His name was registered as

"Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio" in his certificate of live birth


(birth certificate). His sex was registered as "male."
He further alleged that he is a male transsexual, that is,
"anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts as a female" and
that he had always identified himself with girls since
childhood.1 Feeling trapped in a mans body, he consulted
several doctors in the United States. He underwent
psychological examination, hormone treatment and breast
augmentation. His attempts to transform himself to a "woman"
culminated on January 27, 2001 when he underwent sex
reassignment surgery2 in Bangkok, Thailand. He was thereafter
examined by Dr. Marcelino Reysio-Cruz, Jr., a plastic and
reconstruction surgeon in the Philippines, who issued a medical
certificate attesting that he (petitioner) had in fact undergone
the procedure.
From then on, petitioner lived as a female and was in fact
engaged to be married. He then sought to have his name in his
birth certificate changed from "Rommel Jacinto" to "Mely," and
his sex from "male" to "female."
An order setting the case for initial hearing was published in
the Peoples Journal Tonight, a newspaper of general circulation
in Metro Manila, for three consecutive weeks. 3 Copies of the
order were sent to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and
the civil registrar of Manila.
On the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional requirements
were established. No opposition to the petition was made.
During trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also presented
Dr. Reysio-Cruz, Jr. and his American fianc, Richard P. Edel, as
witnesses.
On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision 4 in favor of
petitioner. Its relevant portions read:
Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law
or judgment or any infraction thereof or for any unlawful

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motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth
records compatible with his present sex.
The sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is
entitled to the relief asked for.
The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative.
Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that granting the
petition would be more in consonance with the
principles of justice and equity. With his sexual [reassignment], petitioner, who has always felt, thought
and acted like a woman, now possesses the physique of
a female. Petitioners misfortune to be trapped in a
mans body is not his own doing and should not be in
any way taken against him.
Likewise, the [c]ourt believes that no harm, injury [or]
prejudice will be caused to anybody or the community in
granting the petition. On the contrary, granting the
petition would bring the much-awaited happiness on the
part of the petitioner and her [fianc] and the realization
of their dreams.
Finally, no evidence was presented to show any cause or
ground to deny the present petition despite due notice
and publication thereof. Even the State, through the
[OSG] has not seen fit to interpose any [o]pposition.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered GRANTING
the petition and ordering the Civil Registrar of Manila to
change the entries appearing in the Certificate of Birth
of [p]etitioner, specifically for petitioners first name
from "Rommel Jacinto" to MELY and petitioners gender
from "Male" to FEMALE. 5
On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic),
thru the OSG, filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of
Appeals.6 It alleged that there is no law allowing the change of
entries in the birth certificate by reason of sex alteration.

On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals7 rendered a


decision8 in favor of the Republic. It ruled that the trial courts
decision lacked legal basis. There is no law allowing the
change of either name or sex in the certificate of birth on the
ground of sex reassignment through surgery. Thus, the Court of
Appeals granted the Republics petition, set aside the decision
of the trial court and ordered the dismissal of SP Case No. 02105207. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it was
denied.9 Hence, this petition.
Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his name and
sex in his birth certificate is allowed under Articles 407 to 413
of the Civil Code, Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court and
RA 9048.10
The petition lacks merit.
A Persons First Name Cannot Be Changed On the
Ground of Sex Reassignment
Petitioner invoked his sex reassignment as the ground for his
petition for change of name and sex. As found by the trial
court:
Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law
or judgment or any infraction thereof or for any unlawful
motive but solely for the purpose of making his
birth records compatible with his present sex.
(emphasis supplied)
Petitioner believes that after having acquired the physical
features of a female, he became entitled to the civil registry
changes sought. We disagree.
The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals
and entities for purposes of identification. 11 A change of name
is a privilege, not a right.12 Petitions for change of name are
controlled by statutes.13 In this connection, Article 376 of the
Civil Code provides:

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ART. 376. No person can change his name or surname
without judicial authority.
This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048 (Clerical
Error Law). In particular, Section 1 of RA 9048 provides:
SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or
Typographical Error and Change of First Name or
Nickname. No entry in a civil register shall be changed
or corrected without a judicial order, except for clerical
or typographical errors and change of first name or
nickname which can be corrected or changed by the
concerned city or municipal civil registrar or consul
general in accordance with the provisions of this Act and
its implementing rules and regulations.
RA 9048 now governs the change of first name. 14 It vests the
power and authority to entertain petitions for change of first
name to the city or municipal civil registrar or consul general
concerned. Under the law, therefore, jurisdiction over
applications for change of first name is now primarily lodged
with the aforementioned administrative officers. The intent and
effect of the law is to exclude the change of first name from
the coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and 108
(Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of
the Rules of Court, until and unless an administrative petition
for change of name is first filed and subsequently denied. 15 It
likewise lays down the corresponding venue, 16 form17 and
procedure. In sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating
change of first name are primarily administrative in nature, not
judicial.
RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which change of first
name may be allowed:
SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or
Nickname. The petition for change of first name or
nickname may be allowed in any of the following cases:

(1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be


ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to
write or pronounce;
(2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually
and continuously used by the petitioner and he has
been publicly known by that first name or nickname in
the community; or
(3) The change will avoid confusion.
Petitioners basis in praying for the change of his first name
was his sex reassignment. He intended to make his first name
compatible with the sex he thought he transformed himself
into through surgery. However, a change of name does not
alter ones legal capacity or civil status. 18 RA 9048 does not
sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex
reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion, changing
petitioners first name for his declared purpose may only
create grave complications in the civil registry and the public
interest.
Before a person can legally change his given name, he must
present proper or reasonable cause or any compelling reason
justifying such change.19 In addition, he must show that he will
be prejudiced by the use of his true and official name. 20 In this
case, he failed to show, or even allege, any prejudice that he
might suffer as a result of using his true and official name.
In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for
the change of petitioners first name was not within that
courts primary jurisdiction as the petition should have been
filed with the local civil registrar concerned, assuming it could
be legally done. It was an improper remedy because the
proper remedy was administrative, that is, that provided under
RA 9048. It was also filed in the wrong venue as the proper
venue was in the Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila where
his birth certificate is kept. More importantly, it had no merit
since the use of his true and official name does not prejudice
him at all. For all these reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly

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dismissed petitioners petition in so far as the change of his
first name was concerned.
No Law Allows The Change of Entry In The Birth
Certificate As To Sex On the Ground of Sex
Reassignment
The determination of a persons sex appearing in his birth
certificate is a legal issue and the court must look to the
statutes.21 In this connection, Article 412 of the Civil Code
provides:
ART. 412. No entry in the civil register shall be changed
or corrected without a judicial order.
Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this provision was
amended by RA 9048 in so far as clerical or
typographical errors are involved. The correction or change of
such matters can now be made through administrative
proceedings and without the need for a judicial order. In effect,
RA 9048 removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court the correction of such errors. 22 Rule 108 now applies only
to substantial changes and corrections in entries in the civil
register.23
Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a "clerical or
typographical error" is:
SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. As used in this Act, the
following terms shall mean:
xxx

xxx

xxx

(3) "Clerical or typographical error" refers to a


mistake committed in the performance of clerical
work in writing, copying, transcribing or typing an
entry in the civil register that is harmless and
innocuous, such as misspelled name or
misspelled place of birth or the like, which is
visible to the eyes or obvious to the

understanding, and can be corrected or changed


only by reference to other existing record or
records: Provided, however, That no correction
must involve the change of nationality, age,
status or sex of the petitioner. (emphasis
supplied)
Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the
change of sex is not a mere clerical or typographical error. It is
a substantial change for which the applicable procedure is Rule
108 of the Rules of Court.
The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and
correctable under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those
provided in Articles 407 and 408 of the Civil Code: 24
ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning
the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil
register.
ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil
register:
(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal
separations; (5) annulments of marriage; (6) judgments
declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7)
legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of
natural children; (10) naturalization; (11) loss, or (12)
recovery of citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14)
judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary
emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of name.
The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article
407 of the Civil Code include even those that occur after
birth.25 However, no reasonable interpretation of the provision
can justify the conclusion that it covers the correction on the
ground of sex reassignment.
To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to remove the
faults or error from" while to change means "to replace

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something with something else of the same kind or with
something that serves as a substitute."26 The birth certificate
of petitioner contained no error. All entries therein, including
those corresponding to his first name and sex, were all correct.
No correction is necessary.

status. In this connection, Article 413 of the Civil Code


provides:

Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in the civil
registry of certain acts (such as legitimations,
acknowledgments of illegitimate children and
naturalization), events (such as births, marriages,
naturalization and deaths) and judicial decrees (such as legal
separations, annulments of marriage, declarations of nullity of
marriages, adoptions, naturalization, loss or recovery of
citizenship, civil interdiction, judicial determination of filiation
and changes of name). These acts, events and judicial decrees
produce legal consequences that touch upon the legal
capacity, status and nationality of a person. Their effects are
expressly sanctioned by the laws. In contrast, sex
reassignment is not among those acts or events mentioned in
Article 407. Neither is it recognized nor even mentioned by any
law, expressly or impliedly.

But there is no such special law in the Philippines governing


sex reassignment and its effects. This is fatal to petitioners
cause.

"Status" refers to the circumstances affecting the legal


situation (that is, the sum total of capacities and incapacities)
of a person in view of his age, nationality and his family
membership.27
The status of a person in law includes all his personal
qualities and relations, more or less permanent in
nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will,
such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being
married or not. The comprehensive term status
include such matters as the beginning and end of legal
personality, capacity to have rights in general, family
relations, and its various aspects, such as birth,
legitimation, adoption, emancipation, marriage, divorce,
and sometimes even succession.28 (emphasis supplied)
A persons sex is an essential factor in marriage and family
relations. It is a part of a persons legal capacity and civil

ART. 413. All other matters pertaining to the registration


of civil status shall be governed by special laws.

Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register Law)


provides:
SEC. 5. Registration and certification of births. The
declaration of the physician or midwife in attendance at
the birth or, in default thereof, the declaration of either
parent of the newborn child, shall be sufficient for the
registration of a birth in the civil register. Such
declaration shall be exempt from documentary stamp
tax and shall be sent to the local civil registrar not later
than thirty days after the birth, by the physician or
midwife in attendance at the birth or by either parent of
the newborn child.
In such declaration, the person above mentioned shall
certify to the following facts: (a) date and hour of birth;
(b) sex and nationality of infant; (c) names, citizenship
and religion of parents or, in case the father is not
known, of the mother alone; (d) civil status of parents;
(e) place where the infant was born; and (f) such other
data as may be required in the regulations to be issued.
xxx

xxx

xxx (emphasis supplied)

Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical


record of the facts as they existed at the time of
birth.29 Thus, the sex of a person is determined at
birth, visually done by the birth attendant (the physician or
midwife) by examining the genitals of the infant. Considering
that there is no law legally recognizing sex reassignment, the

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determination of a persons sex made at the time of his or her
birth, if not attended by error, 30 is immutable.31
When words are not defined in a statute they are to be given
their common and ordinary meaning in the absence of a
contrary legislative intent. The words "sex," "male" and
"female" as used in the Civil Register Law and laws concerning
the civil registry (and even all other laws) should therefore be
understood in their common and ordinary usage, there being
no legislative intent to the contrary. In this connection, sex is
defined as "the sum of peculiarities of structure and function
that distinguish a male from a female"32 or "the distinction
between male and female."33 Female is "the sex that produces
ova or bears young"34 and male is "the sex that has organs to
produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova."35 Thus, the words
"male" and "female" in everyday understanding do not include
persons who have undergone sex reassignment. Furthermore,
"words that are employed in a statute which had at the time a
well-known meaning are presumed to have been used in that
sense unless the context compels to the contrary." 36 Since the
statutory language of the Civil Register Law was enacted in the
early 1900s and remains unchanged, it cannot be argued that
the term "sex" as used then is something alterable through
surgery or something that allows a post-operative male-tofemale transsexual to be included in the category "female."
For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in
altering his body and appearance through the intervention of
modern surgery, no law authorizes the change of entry as to
sex in the civil registry for that reason. Thus, there is no legal
basis for his petition for the correction or change of the entries
in his birth certificate.
Neither May Entries in the Birth Certificate As to First
Name or Sex Be Changed on the Ground of Equity
The trial court opined that its grant of the petition was in
consonance with the principles of justice and equity. It believed
that allowing the petition would cause no harm, injury or
prejudice to anyone. This is wrong.

The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wideranging legal and public policy consequences. First, even the
trial court itself found that the petition was but petitioners first
step towards his eventual marriage to his male fianc.
However, marriage, one of the most sacred social institutions,
is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a
woman.37 One of its essential requisites is the legal capacity of
the contracting parties who must be a male and a female.38 To
grant the changes sought by petitioner will substantially
reconfigure and greatly alter the laws on marriage and family
relations. It will allow the union of a man with another man
who has undergone sex reassignment (a male-to-female postoperative transsexual). Second, there are various laws which
apply particularly to women such as the provisions of the Labor
Code on employment of women,39 certain felonies under the
Revised Penal Code40 and the presumption of survivorship in
case of calamities under Rule 131 of the Rules of
Court,41 among others. These laws underscore the public policy
in relation to women which could be substantially affected if
petitioners petition were to be granted.
It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that "[n]o
judge or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of
the silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the law." However, it is
not a license for courts to engage in judicial legislation. The
duty of the courts is to apply or interpret the law, not to make
or amend it.
In our system of government, it is for the legislature, should it
choose to do so, to determine what guidelines should govern
the recognition of the effects of sex reassignment. The need
for legislative guidelines becomes particularly important in this
case where the claims asserted are statute-based.
To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions for
change of first name and for correction or change of entries in
the civil registry, where they may be filed, what grounds may
be invoked, what proof must be presented and what
procedures shall be observed. If the legislature intends to
confer on a person who has undergone sex reassignment the
privilege to change his name and sex to conform with his

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reassigned sex, it has to enact legislation laying down the
guidelines in turn governing the conferment of that privilege.
It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write a
protocol on when a person may be recognized as having
successfully changed his sex. However, this Court has no
authority to fashion a law on that matter, or on anything else.
The Court cannot enact a law where no law exists. It can only
apply or interpret the written word of its co-equal branch of
government, Congress.
Petitioner pleads that "[t]he unfortunates are also entitled to a
life of happiness, contentment and [the] realization of their
dreams." No argument about that. The Court recognizes that
there are people whose preferences and orientation do not fit
neatly into the commonly recognized parameters of social
convention and that, at least for them, life is indeed an ordeal.
However, the remedies petitioner seeks involve questions of
public policy to be addressed solely by the legislature, not by
the courts.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. (Exodus
33:14)
FILIPINA Y. SY, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT
OF APPEALS, THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,
SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA, BRANCH XLI, and
FERNANDO SY, respondents.
QUISUMBING, J.:
For review is the decision[1] dated May 21, 1996 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 44144, which affirmed the

decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando,


Pampanga, denying the petition[3] for declaration of absolute
nullity of marriage of the spouses Filipina Sy and Fernando Sy.
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 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]
On September 15, 1983, Fernando left their conjugal dwelling.
Since 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 15,1988, 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 executed by the spouses. [9]The
trial court also granted custody of the children to Filipina. [10]
In May 1988, Filipina filed a criminal action for attempted
parricide against her husband, docketed as Criminal Case No.
88-68006, before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. Filipina

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testified that in the afternoon of May 15, 1988, she went to the
dental clinic at Masangkay, Tondo, Manila, owned by her
husband but operated by his mistress, to fetch her son and
bring him to San Fernando, Pampanga. While she was talking
to her son, the boy ignored her and continued playing with the
family computer. Filipina got mad, took the computer away
from her son, and started spanking him. At that instance,
Fernando pulled Filipina away from their son, and punched her
in the different parts of her body. Filipina also claimed that her
husband started choking her when she fell on the floor, and
released her only when he thought she was dead. Filipina
suffered from hematoma and contusions on different parts of
her body as a result of the blows inflicted by her husband,
evidenced by a Medical Certificate issued by a certain Dr.
James Ferraren. She said it was not the first time Fernando
maltreated her.[11]
The Regional Trial Court of Manila, however, in its
decision[12] dated April 26, 1990, convicted Fernando only of
the lesser crime of slight physical injuries, and sentenced him
to 20 days imprisonment. Edpmis
Petitioner later filed a new action for legal separation against
private respondent, docketed as Civil Case No. 8273,on the
following grounds: (1) repeated physical violence; (2) sexual
infidelity; (3) attempt by respondent against her life; and (4)
abandonment of her by her husband without justifiable cause
for more than one year. The Regional Trial Court of San
Fernando, Pampanga, in its decision[13] dated December
4,1991, granted the petition on the grounds of repeated
physical violence and sexual infidelity, and issued a decree of
legal separation. It awarded custody of their daughter Farrah
Sheryll to petitioner, and their son Frederick to respondent.
On August 4, 1992, Filipina filed a petition [14] for the declaration
of absolute nullity of her marriage to Fernando on the ground
of psychological incapacity. She points out that the final
judgment rendered by the Regional Trial Court in her favor, in
her petitions for separation of property and legal separation,
and Fernando's infliction of physical violence on her which
led to the conviction of her husband for slight physical injuries

are symptoms of psychological incapacity. She also cites as


manifestations of her husband's psychological incapacity the
following: (1) habitual alcoholism; (2) refusal to live with her
without fault on her part, choosing to live with his mistress
instead; and (3) refusal to have sex with her, performing the
marital act only to satisfy himself. Moreover, Filipina alleges
that such psychological incapacity of her husband existed from
the time of the celebration of their marriage and became
manifest thereafter.[15]
The Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, in its
decision[16] dated December 9, 1993, denied the petition of
Filipina Sy for the declaration of absolute nullity of her
marriage to Fernando. It stated that the alleged acts of the
respondent, as cited by petitioner, do not constitute
psychological incapacity which may warrant the declaration of
absolute nullity of their marriage.Lexjuris
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the
decision of the trial court. In the decision [17] of the Court of
Appeals dated May 21, 1996, it ruled that the testimony of
petitioner concerning respondent's purported psychological
incapacity falls short of the quantum of evidence required to
nullify a marriage celebrated with all the formal and essential
requisites of law. Moreover, the Court of Appeals held that
petitioner failed to show that the alleged psychological
incapacity of respondent had existed at the time of the
celebration of their marriage in 1973. It reiterated the finding
of the trial court that the couple's marital problems surfaced
only in 1983, or almost ten years from the date of the
celebration of their marriage. And prior to their separation in
1983, they were living together harmoniously. Thus, the Court
of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the lower court which it
found to be in accordance with law and the evidence on
record.[18]
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, [19] which the Court
of Appeals denied in its resolution dated November 21, 1996.
[20]

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Hence, this appeal by certiorari[21] wherein petitioner now
raises the following issues: Jurismis
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS MANIFESTLY OVERLOOKED THE FACT
THAT ON THE DATE OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE
PARTIES' MARRIAGE ON NOVEMBER 15, 1973, NOT
DISPUTED BY RESPONDENT FERNANDO, THERE
WAS NO MARRIAGE LICENSE THERETO;
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS COMMITTED MISAPPREHENSION OF
FACTS BY STATING THAT THE GROUNDS RELIED
UPON BY APPELLANT [herein petitioner] DO NOT
CONSTITUTE PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY AS
WOULD JUSTIFY NULLIFICATION OF HER
MARRIAGE TO APPELLEE [herein respondent];
3. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS COMMITTED MISAPPREHENSION OF
FACTS BY STATING THAT APPELLANT FAILED TO
SHOW THAT THE ALLEGED UNDESIRABLE
ACTUATIONS OF APPELLEE HAD EXISTED OR
WERE PRESENT AT THE TIME THEIR MARRIAGE
WAS CELEBRATED IN 1973; Jjjuris
4. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN AFFIRMING THE ERRONEOUS
RULING OF THE LOWER COURT THAT THERE IS A
REDEEMING ATTITUDE SHOWN TO THE COURT BY
RESPONDENT FERNANDO WITH RESPECT TO HIS
CHILDREN AND ALSO BELIEVES THAT
RECONCILIATION BETWEEN THE PARTIES IS NOT A
REMOTE POSSIBILITY WHICH IS ERRONEOUS; AND
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: justice


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.
Petitioner, for the first time, raises the issue of the marriage
being void for lack of a valid marriage license at the time of its
celebration. It appears that, according to her, the date of the
actual celebration of their marriage and the date of issuance of
their marriage certificate and marriage license are different
and incongruous. Jksm
Although we have repeatedly ruled that litigants cannot raise
an issue for the first time on appeal, as this would contravene
the basic rules of fair play and justice,[23] in a number of
instances, we have relaxed observance of procedural rules,
noting that technicalities are not ends in themselves but exist
to protect and promote substantive rights of litigants. We said
that certain rules ought not to be applied with severity and
rigidity if by so doing, the very reason for their existence would
be defeated.[24] Hence, when substantial justice plainly
requires, exempting a particular case from the operation of
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 Fillipina 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 the marriage itself would lead to the
conclusion that her marriage to Fernando was void from the

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beginning, she points out that these critical dates were
contained in the documents she submitted before the court.
The date of issue of the marriage license and marriage
certificate, September 17, 1974, is contained in their marriage
contract which was attached as Annex "A" in her petition for
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage before the trial
court, and thereafter marked as Exhibit "A" in the course of the
trial.[26] The date of celebration of their marriage at Our Lady of
Lourdes, Sta. Teresita Parish, on November 15, 1973, is
admitted both by petitioner and private respondent, as stated
in paragraph three of petitioner's petition for the declaration of
absolute nullity of marriage before the trial court, and private
respondent's answer admitting it.[27] This fact was also affirmed
by petitioner, in open court, on January 22, 1993, during her
direct examination,[28] as follows: Es m
ATTY. RAZON: In the last hearing, you said that
you were married on November 15,1973?
FILIPINA SY: Yes, Sir.
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 marriage license was issued

on September 17,1974, almost one year after the ceremony


took place on November 15, 1973. The ineluctable conclusion
is that the marriage was indeed contracted without a marriage
license. Nowhere do we find private respondent denying these
dates on record. Article 80 of the Civil Code [31] is clearly
applicable in this case. There being no claim of an exceptional
character, the purported marriage between petitioner and
private respondent could not be classified among those
enumerated in Articles 72-79[32] of the Civil Code. We thus
conclude that under Article 80 of the Civil Code, the marriage
between petitioner and private respondent is void from the
beginning. Es msc
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. Esmm is
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 CA-G.R. No. 44144 are set aside. The
marriage celebrated on November 15, 1973 between petitioner
Filipina Yap and private respondent Fernando Sy is hereby

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declared void ab initio for lack of marriage license at the time
of celebration. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the
everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
G.R. No. 103047 September 2, 1994
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS AND ANGELINA M.
CASTRO, respondents.
Parungao, Abesamis, Eleazar & Pulgar Law Offices for private
respondent.

PUNO, J.:
The case at bench originated from a petition filed by private
respondent Angelina M. Castro in the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City seeking a judicial declaration of nullity of her
marriage to Edwin F. Cardenas. 1 As ground therefor, Castro
claims that no marriage license was ever issued to them prior
to the solemnization of their marriage.

Defendant Cardenas personally attended to the processing of


the documents required for the celebration of the marriage,
including the procurement of the marriage, license. In fact, the
marriage contract itself states that marriage license no.
3196182 was issued in the name of the contracting parties on
June 24, 1970 in Pasig, Metro Manila.
The couple did not immediately live together as husband and
wife since the marriage was unknown to Castro's parents.
Thus, it was only in March 1971, when Castro discovered she
was pregnant, that the couple decided to live together.
However, their cohabitation lasted only for four (4) months.
Thereafter, the couple parted ways. On October 19, 1971,
Castro gave birth. The baby was adopted by Castro's brother,
with the consent of Cardenas.
The baby is now in the United States. Desiring to follow her
daughter, Castro wanted to put in order her marital status
before leaving for the States. She thus consulted a lawyer,
Atty. Frumencio E. Pulgar, regarding the possible annulment of
her marriage. Through her lawyer's efforts, they discovered
that there was no marriage license issued to Cardenas prior to
the celebration of their marriage.
As proof, Angelina Castro offered in evidence a certification
from the Civil Register of Pasig, Metro Manila. It reads:
February 20, 1987
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

Despite notice, defendant Edwin F. Cardenas failed to file his


answer. Consequently, he was declared in default. Trial
proceeded in his absence.
The controlling facts are undisputed:
On June 24, 1970, Angelina M. Castro and Edwin F. Cardenas
were married in a civil ceremony performed by Judge Pablo M.
Malvar, City Court Judge of Pasay City. The marriage was
celebrated without the knowledge of Castro's parents.

This is to certify that the names EDWIN F. CARDENAS and


ANGELINA M. CASTRO who were allegedly married in the Pasay
City Court on June 21, 1970 under an alleged
(s)upportive marriage license
no. 3196182 allegedly issued in the municipality on June 20,
1970 cannot be located as said license no. 3196182 does not
appear from our records.
Issued upon request of Mr. Ed Atanacio.

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(Sgd) CENONA D. QUINTOS
Senior Civil Registry Officer
Castro testified that she did not go to the civil registrar of Pasig
on or before June 24, 1970 in order to apply for a license.
Neither did she sign any application therefor. She affixed her
signature only on the marriage contract on June 24, 1970 in
Pasay City.

Petitioner also points that in declaring the marriage between


the parties as null and void, respondent appellate court
disregarded the presumption that the solemnizing officer,
Judge Pablo M. Malvar, regularly performed his duties when he
attested in the marriage contract that marriage license no.
3196182 was duly presented to him before the solemnization
of the subject marriage.
The issues, being interrelated, shall be discussed jointly.

The trial court denied the petition. It held that the above
certification was inadequate to establish the alleged nonissuance of a marriage license prior to the celebration of the
marriage between the parties. It ruled that the "inability of the
certifying official to locate the marriage license is not
conclusive to show that there was no marriage license issued."
Unsatisfied with the decision, Castro appealed to respondent
appellate court. She insisted that the certification from the
local civil registrar sufficiently established the absence of a
marriage license.
As stated earlier, respondent appellate court reversed the
Decision of the trial court. 3 It declared the marriage between
the contracting parties null and void and directed the Civil
Registrar of Pasig to cancel the subject marriage contract.
Hence this petition for review on certiorari.
Petitioner Republic of the Philippines urges that respondent
appellate court erred when it ruled that the certification issued
by the civil registrar that marriage license no. 3196182 was
not in their record adequately proved that no such license was
ever issued. Petitioner also faults the respondent court for
relying on the self-serving and uncorroborated testimony of
private respondent Castro that she had no part in the
procurement of the subject marriage license. Petitioner thus
insists that the certification and the uncorroborated testimony
of private respondent are insufficient to overthrow the legal
presumption regarding the validity of a marriage.

The core issue presented by the case at bench is whether or


not the documentary and testimonial evidence presented by
private respondent are sufficient to establish that no marriage
license was issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig prior to the
celebration of the marriage of private respondent to Edwin F.
Cardenas.
We affirm the impugned Decision.
At the time the subject marriage was solemnized on June 24,
1970, the law governing marital relations was the New Civil
Code. The law 4 provides that no marriage shall be solemnized
without a marriage license first issued by a local civil registrar.
Being one of the essential requisites of a valid marriage,
absence of a license would render the marriage void ab initio. 5
Petitioner posits that the certification of the local civil registrar
of due search and inability to find a record or entry to the
effect that marriage license no. 3196182 was issued to the
parties is not adequate to prove its non-issuance.
We hold otherwise. The presentation of such certification in
court is sanctioned by Section 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of
Court, viz.:
Sec. 29. Proof of lack of record. A written
statement signed by an officer having custody of
an official record or by his deputy, that after
diligent search, no record or entry of a specified
tenor is found to exist in the records of his office,

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accompanied by a certificate as above provided,
is admissible as evidence that the records of his
office contain no such record or entry.
The above Rule authorized the custodian of documents to
certify that despite diligent search, a particular document does
not exist in his office or that a particular entry of a specified
tenor was not to be found in a register. As custodians of public
documents, civil registrars are public officers charged with the
duty, inter alia, of maintaining a register book where they are
required to enter all applications for marriage licenses,
including the names of the applicants, the date the marriage
license was issued and such other relevant data. 6

ignore the same. For failure to answer, he was properly


declared in default. Private respondent cannot be faulted for
her husband's lack of interest to participate in the proceedings.
There was absolutely no evidence on record to show that there
was collusion between private respondent and her husband
Cardenas.
It is noteworthy to mention that the finding of the appellate
court that the marriage between the contracting parties is null
and void for lack of a marriage license does not discount the
fact that indeed, a spurious marriage license, purporting to be
issued by the civil registrar of Pasig, may have been presented
by Cardenas to the solemnizing officer.

The certification of "due search and inability to find" issued by


the civil registrar of Pasig enjoys probative value, he being the
officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data
relative to the issuance of a marriage license. Unaccompanied
by any circumstance of suspicion and pursuant to Section 29,
Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, a certificate of "due search and
inability to find" sufficiently proved that his office did not issue
marriage license no. 3196182 to the contracting parties.

In fine, we hold that, under the circumstances of the case, the


documentary and testimonial evidence presented by private
respondent Castro sufficiently established the absence of the
subject marriage license.

The fact that private respondent Castro offered only her


testimony in support of her petition is, in itself, not a ground to
deny her petition. The failure to offer any other witness to
corroborate her testimony is mainly due to the peculiar
circumstances of the case. It will be remembered that the
subject marriage was a civil ceremony performed by a judge of
a city court. The subject marriage is one of those commonly
known as a "secret marriage" a legally non-existent phrase
but ordinarily used to refer to a civil marriage celebrated
without the knowledge of the relatives and/or friends of either
or both of the contracting parties. The records show that the
marriage between Castro and Cardenas was initially unknown
to the parents of the former.

SO ORDERED.

Surely, the fact that only private respondent Castro testified


during the trial cannot be held against her. Her husband, Edwin
F. Cardenas, was duly served with notice of the proceedings
and a copy of the petition. Despite receipt thereof, he chose to

This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks the reversal of the


Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 74416
dated 20 December 2004 which set aside the Decision 2 of the

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED there being no


showing of any reversible error committed by respondent
appellate court.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of


trouble. (Psalm 9:9-10)
JAIME O.SEVILLA, petitioner,
vs.
CARMELITA N. CARDENAS, respondent.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

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Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, in Civil Case No. 941285 dated 25 January 2002.
In a Complaint3 dated 28 March 1994 filed by Jaime O. Sevilla
before the RTC, he claimed that on 19 May 1969, through
machinations, duress and intimidation employed upon him by
Carmelita N. Cardenas and the latter's father, retired Colonel
Jose Cardenas of the Armed forces of the Philippines, he and
Carmelita went to the City Hall of Manila and they were
introduced to a certain Reverend Cirilo D. Gonzales, a
supposed Minister of the Gospel. On the said date, the father
of Carmelita caused him and Carmelita to sign a marriage
contract before the said Minister of the Gospel. According to
Jaime, he never applied for a marriage license for his supposed
marriage to Carmelita and never did they obtain any marriage
license from any Civil Registry, consequently, no marriage
license was presented to the solemnizing officer.
For her part, Carmelita refuted these allegations of Jaime, and
claims that she and Jaime were married civilly on 19 May
1969,4 and in a church ceremony thereafter on 31 May
19695 at the Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Quezon City. Both
marriages were registered with the local civil registry of Manila
and the National Statistics Office. He is estopped from invoking
the lack of marriage license after having been married to her
for 25 years.
The trial court made the following findings:
In support of his complaint, plaintiff [Jaime] testified that
on May 19, 1969, he and defendant [Carmelita]
appeared before a certain Rev. Cirilo D. Gonzales, a
Minister of the Gospel, at the city hall in Manila where
they executed a Marriage Contract (Exh. "A") in civil
rites. A certain Godofredo Occena who, plaintiff alleged,
was an aide of defendant's father accompanied them,
and who, together with another person, stood as witness
to the civil wedding. That although marriage license no.
2770792 allegedly issued in San Juan, Rizal on May 19,
1969 was indicated in the marriage contract, the same
was fictitious for he never applied for any marriage

license, (Ibid., p. 11). Upon verifications made by him


through his lawyer, Atty. Jose M. Abola, with the Civil
Registry of San Juan, a Certification dated March 11,
1994 (Exh. "E") was issued by Rafael D. Aliscad, Jr., Local
Civil Registrar of San Juan, that "no marriage license no.
2770792 was ever issued by said office." On May 31,
1969, he and defendant were again wed, this time in
church rites, before Monsignor Juan Velasco at the Most
Holy Redeemer Parish Church in Brixton Hills, Quezon
City, where they executed another marriage contract
(Exh. "F") with the same marriage license no. 2770792
used and indicated. Preparations and expenses for the
church wedding and reception were jointly shared by his
and defendant's parents. After the church wedding, he
and defendant resided in his house at Brixton Hills until
their first son, Jose Gabriel, was born in March 1970. As
his parents continued to support him financially, he and
defendant lived in Spain for some time, for his medical
studies. Eventually, their marital relationship turned bad
because it became difficult for him to be married he
being a medical student at that time. They started living
apart in 1976, but they underwent family counseling
before they eventually separated in 1978. It was during
this time when defendant's second son was born whose
paternity plaintiff questioned. Plaintiff obtained a divorce
decree against defendant in the United States in 1981
and later secured a judicial separation of their conjugal
partnership in 1983.
Atty. Jose M. Abola, then counsel for the plaintiff, himself
manifested that when his service was engaged by
plaintiff, and after the latter narrated to him the
circumstances of his marriage, he made inquiries with
the Office of Civil Registry of San Juan where the
supposed marriage license was obtained and with the
Church of the Most Holy Redeemer Parish where the
religious wedding ceremony was celebrated. His request
letters dated March 3, 1994 (Exh. "J"), March 7, 1994
(Exh. "L"), March 9, 1994 (Exh. "M") and March 11, 1994
(Exh. "K") were all sent to and received by the Civil
Registrar of San Juan, who in reply thereto, issued

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Certifications dated March 4, 1994 (Exh. "I"), and March
11, 1994 (Exh. "E") and September 20, 1994 (Exh. "C"),
that "no marriage license no. 2770792 was ever issued
by that office." Upon his inquiry, the Holy Redeemer
Parish Church issued him a certified copy of the
marriage contract of plaintiff and defendant (Exh. "F")
and a Certificate of Marriage dated April 11, 1994 (Exh.
"G"), wherein it noted that it was a "purely religious
ceremony, having been civilly married on May 19, 1969
at the City Hall, Manila, under Marriage License No.
2770792 issued at San Juan, Rizal on May 19, 1969."
Perlita Mercader, Registration Officer III of the Local
Registry of San Juan, identified the Certificates dated
March 4, 1994, March 11, 1994 and September 20, 1994
issued by Rafael Aliscad, Jr., the Local Civil Registrar,
and testified that their office failed to locate the book
wherein marriage license no. 2770792 may have been
registered (TSN, 8-6-96, p. 5).
Defendant Carmelita Cardenas testified that she and
plaintiff had a steady romantic relationship after they
met and were introduced to each other in October 1968.
A model, she was compelled by her family to join the
Mutya ng Pilipinas beauty pageant when plaintiff who
was afraid to lose her, asked her to run away with him to
Baguio. Because she loved plaintiff, she turned back on
her family and decided to follow plaintiff in Baguio.
When they came back to Manila, she and plaintiff
proceeded to the latter's home in Brixton Hills where
plaintiff's mother, Mrs. Sevilla, told her not to worry. Her
parents were hostile when they learned of the
elopement, but Mrs. Sevilla convinced them that she will
take care of everything, and promised to support
plaintiff and defendant. As plaintiff was still fearful he
may lose her, he asked her to marry him in civil rites,
without the knowledge of her family, more so her father
(TSN, 5-28-98, p. 4) on May 19, 1969, before a minister
and where she was made to sign documents. After the
civil wedding, they had lunch and later each went home
separately. On May 31, 1969, they had the church

wedding, which the Sevilla family alone prepared and


arranged, since defendant's mother just came from
hospital. Her family did not participate in the wedding
preparations. Defendant further stated that there was
no sexual consummation during their honeymoon and
that it was after two months when they finally had sex.
She learned from Dr. Escudero, plaintiff's physician and
one of their wedding sponsors that plaintiff was
undergoing psychiatric therapy since age 12 (TSN, 11-298, p. 15) for some traumatic problem compounded by
his drug habit. She found out plaintiff has unusual sexual
behavior by his obsession over her knees of which he
would take endless pictures of. Moreover, plaintiff
preferred to have sex with her in between the knees
which she called "intrafemural sex," while real sex
between them was far and between like 8 months,
hence, abnormal. During their marriage, plaintiff
exhibited weird sexual behavior which defendant
attributed to plaintiff's drug addiction (TSN, 11-5-98, pp.
5-8). A compulsive liar, plaintiff has a bad temper who
breaks things when he had tantrums. Plaintiff took drugs
like amphetamines, benzedrine and the like, "speed"
drugs that kept him from sleep and then would take
barbiturates or downers, like "mogadon." Defendant
tried very hard to keep plaintiff away from drugs but
failed as it has become a habit to him. They had no fixed
home since they often moved and partly lived in Spain
for about four and a half years, and during all those
times, her mother-in-law would send some financial
support on and off, while defendant worked as an
English teacher. Plaintiff, who was supposed to be
studying, did nothing. Their marriage became
unbearable, as plaintiff physically and verbally abused
her, and this led to a break up in their marriage. Later,
she learned that plaintiff married one Angela Garcia in
1991 in the United States.
Jose Cardenas, father of defendant, testified that he was
not aware of the civil wedding of his daughter with the
plaintiff; that his daughter and grandson came to stay
with him after they returned home from Spain and have

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lived with him and his wife ever since. His grandsons
practically grew up under his care and guidance, and he
has supported his daughter's expenses for medicines
and hospital confinements (Exhs. "9" and "10").
Victoria Cardenas Navarro, defendant's sister, testified
and corroborated that it was plaintiff's family that
attended to all the preparations and arrangements for
the church wedding of her sister with plaintiff, and that
she didn't know that the couple wed in civil rites some
time prior to the church wedding. She also stated that
she and her parents were still civil with the plaintiff
inspite of the marital differences between plaintiff and
defendant.
As adverse witness for the defendant, plaintiff testified
that because of irreconcilable differences with defendant
and in order for them to live their own lives, they agreed
to divorce each other; that when he applied for and
obtained a divorce decree in the United States on June
14, 1983 (Exh. "13"), it was with the knowledge and
consent of defendant who in fact authorized a certain
Atty. Quisumbing to represent her (TSN, 12-7-2000, p.
21). During his adverse testimony, plaintiff identified a
recent certification dated July 25, 2000 (Exh. "EE")
issued by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, that the
marriage license no. 2770792, the same marriage
license appearing in the marriage contract (Exh. "A"), is
inexistent, thus appears to be fictitious. 6
In its Decision dated 25 January 2002, declaring the nullity of
the marriage of the parties, the trial court made the following
justifications:
Thus, being one of the essential requisites for the
validity of the marriage, the lack or absence of a license
renders the marriage void ab initio. It was shown under
the various certifications (Exhs. "I", "E", and "C") earlier
issued by the office of the Local Civil Registrar of the
Municipality of San Juan, and the more recent one issued
on July 25, 2000 (Exh. "EE") that no marriage license no.

2770792 was ever issued by that office, hence, the


marriage license no. 2770792 appearing on the
marriage contracts executed on May 19, 1969 (Exh. "A")
and on May 31, 1969 (Exh. "F") was fictitious. Such a
certification enjoys probative value under the rules on
evidence, particularly Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules
of Court, x x x.
xxxx
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby declares the civil
marriage between Jaime O. Sevilla and Carmelita N.
Cardenas solemnized by Rev. Cirilo D. Gonzales at the
Manila City Hall on May 19, 1969 as well as their
contract of marriage solemnized under religious rites by
Rev. Juan B. Velasco at the Holy Redeemer Parish on May
31, 1969, NULL and VOID for lack of the requisite
marriage license. Let the marriage contract of the
parties under Registry No. 601 (e-69) of the registry
book of the Local Civil Registry of Manila be cancelled.
Let copies of this Decision be duly recorded in the
proper civil and property registries in accordance with
Article 52 of the Family Code. Likewise, let a copy hereof
be forwarded the Office of the Solicitor General for its
record and information.7
Carmelita filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. In a
Decision dated 20 December 2004, the Court of Appeals
disagreed with the trial court and held:
In People v. De Guzman (G.R. No. 106025, February 9,
1994), the Supreme Court explained that: "The
presumption of regularity of official acts may be
rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or
failure to perform a duty. The presumption, however,
prevails until it is overcome by no less than clear and
convincing evidence to the contrary. Thus, unless the
presumption is rebutted, it becomes conclusive."

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In this case, We note that a certain Perlita Mercader of
the local civil registry of San Juan testified that
they "failed to locate the book wherein marriage
license no. 2770792 is registered," for the reason
that "the employee handling is already
retired." With said testimony We cannot therefore just
presume that the marriage license specified in the
parties' marriage contract was not issued for in the end
the failure of the office of the local civil registrar of San
Juan to produce a copy of the marriage license was
attributable not to the fact that no such marriage license
was issued but rather, because it "failed to locate the
book wherein marriage license no. 2770792 is
registered." Simply put, if the pertinent book were
available for scrutiny, there is a strong possibility that it
would have contained an entry on marriage license no.
2720792.
xxxx
Indeed, this Court is not prepared to annul the parties'
marriage on the basis of a mere perception of plaintiff
that his union with defendant is defective with respect
to an essential requisite of a marriage contract, a
perception that ultimately was not substantiated with
facts on record.8
Jaime filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated 6 January 2005
which the Court of Appeals denied in a Resolution dated 6 April
2005.
This denial gave rise to the present Petition filed by Jaime.
He raises the following issues for Resolution.
1. Whether or not a valid marriage license was issued in
accordance with law to the parties herein prior to the
celebration of the marriages in question;

2. Whether or not the Court of Appeals correctly applied


and relied on the presumption of regularity of officials
acts, particularly the issuance of a marriage license,
arising solely from the contents of the marriage
contracts in question which show on their face that a
marriage license was purportedly issued by the Local
Civil Registry of San Juan, Metro Manila, and
3. Whether or not respondent could validly invoke/rely
upon the presumption of validity of a marriage arising
from the admitted "fact of marriage."9
At the core of this controversy is the determination of whether
or not the certifications from the Local Civil Registrar of San
Juan stating that no Marriage License No. 2770792 as
appearing in the marriage contract of the parties was issued,
are sufficient to declare their marriage as null and void ab
initio.
We agree with the Court of Appeals and rule in the negative.
Pertinent provisions of the Civil Code which was the law in
force at the time of the marriage of the parties are Articles
53,10 5811 and 80.12
Based on the foregoing provisions, a marriage license is an
essential requisite for the validity of marriage. The marriage
between Carmelita and Jaime is of no exception.
At first glance, this case can very well be easily dismissed as
one involving a marriage that is null and void on the ground of
absence of a marriage license based on the certifications
issued by the Local Civil Registar of San Juan. As ruled by this
Court in the case of Cario v. Cario13:
[A]s certified by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan,
Metro Manila, their office has no record of such marriage
license. In Republic v. Court of Appeals, the Court held
that such a certification is adequate to prove the nonissuance of a marriage license. Absent any circumstance

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 18
of suspicion, as in the present case, the certification
issued by the local civil registrar enjoys probative value,
he being the officer charged under the law to keep a
record of all date relative to the issuance of a marriage
license.
Such being the case, the presumed validity of the
marriage of petitioner and the deceased has been
sufficiently overcome. It then became the burden of
petitioner to prove that their marriage is valid and that
they secured the required marriage license. Although
she was declared in default before the trial court,
petitioner could have squarely met the issue and
explained the absence of a marriage license in her
pleadings before the Court of Appeals and this Court.
But petitioner conveniently avoided the issue and chose
to refrain from pursuing an argument that will put her
case in jeopardy. Hence, the presumed validity of their
marriage cannot stand.
It is beyond cavil, therefore, that the marriage between
petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, having been
solemnized without the necessary marriage license, and
not being one of the marriages exempt from the
marriage license requirement, is undoubtedly void ab
initio.
The foregoing Decision giving probative value to the
certifications issued by the Local Civil Registrar should be read
in line with the decision in the earlier case of Republic v. Court
of Appeals,14 where it was held that:
The above Rule authorized the custodian of
documents to certify that despite diligent search, a
particular document does not exist in his office or
that a particular entry of a specified tenor was
not to be found in a register. As custodians of public
documents, civil registrars are public officers charged
with the duty, inter alia, of maintaining a register book
where they are required to enter all applications for
marriage licenses, including the names of the

applicants, the date the marriage license was issued and


such other relevant data. (Emphasis supplied.)
Thus, the certification to be issued by the Local Civil Registrar
must categorically state that the document does not exist in
his office or the particular entry could not be found in the
register despite diligent search. Such certification shall be
sufficient proof of lack or absence of record as stated in
Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court:
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 after diligent search, no
record or entry of a specified tenor is found to exist in
the records of his office, accompanied by a certificate as
above provided, is admissible as evidence that the
records of his office contain no such record or entry.
We shall now proceed to scrutinize whether the certifications
by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan in connection with
Marriage License No. 2770792 complied with the foregoing
requirements and deserved to be accorded probative value.
The first Certification 15 issued by the Local Civil Registrar of
San Juan, Metro Manila, was dated 11 March 1994. It reads:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
No Marriage License Number 2770792 were (sic) ever
issued by this Office. With regards (sic) to Marriage
License Number 2880792,16 we exert all effort but we
cannot find the said number.
Hope and understand our loaded work cannot give you
our full force locating the above problem.
San Juan, Metro Manila
March 11, 1994

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(SGD)RAFAEL D. ALISCAD, JR.
Local Civil Registrar
The second certification 17 was dated 20 September 1994 and
provides:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
This is to certify that no marriage license Number
2770792 were ever issued by this Office with regards to
Marriage License Number 2880792, we exert all effort
but we cannot find the said number.
Hope and understand our loaded work cannot give you
our full force locating the above problem.
San Juan, Metro Manila
September 20, 1994
(SGD)RAFAEL D. ALISCAD, JR.
Local Civil Registrar
The third Certification,18 issued on 25 July 2000, states:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
This is to certify that according to the records of this
office, no Marriage License Application was filed and no
Marriage License No. 2770792 allegedly dated May 19,
1969 was issued by this Office to MR. JAIME O. SEVILLA
and MS. CARMELITA CARDENAS-SEVILLA.
This is to further certify that the said application and
license do not exist in our Local Civil Registry Index and,
therefore, appear to be fictitious.

This certification is being issued upon the request of the


interested party for whatever legal intent it may serve.
San Juan, Metro Manila
July 25, 2000
(SGD)RAFAEL D. ALISCAD, JR.
Local Civil Registrar
Note that the first two certifications bear the statement that
"hope and understand our loaded work cannot give you our full
force locating the above problem." It could be easily implied
from the said statement that the Office of the Local Civil
Registrar could not exert its best efforts to locate and
determine the existence of Marriage License No. 2770792 due
to its "loaded work." Likewise, both certifications failed to state
with absolute certainty whether or not such license was issued.
This implication is confirmed in the testimony of the
representative from the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of
San Juan, Ms. Perlita Mercader, who stated that they cannot
locate the logbook due to the fact that the person in charge of
the said logbook had already retired. Further, the testimony of
the said person was not presented in evidence. It does not
appear on record that the former custodian of the logbook was
deceased or missing, or that his testimony could not be
secured. This belies the claim that all efforts to locate the
logbook or prove the material contents therein, had been
exerted.
As testified to by Perlita Mercader:
Q Under the subpoena duces tecum, you were required
to bring to this Court among other things the register of
application of/or (sic) for marriage licenses received by
the Office of the :Local Civil Registrar of San Juan,
Province of Rizal, from January 19, 1969 to May 1969.
Did you bring with you those records?

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A I brought may 19, 1969, sir.
Q Is that the book requested of you under no. 3 of the
request for subpoena?
A Meron pang January. I forgot, January . . .
Q Did you bring that with you?

A The employee handling it is already retired, sir. 19


Given the documentary and testimonial evidence to the effect
that utmost efforts were not exerted to locate the logbook
where Marriage License No. 2770792 may have been entered,
the presumption of regularity of performance of official
function by the Local Civil Registrar in issuing the
certifications, is effectively rebutted.

Q Why not?

According to Section 3(m),20 Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, the


presumption that official duty has been regularly performed is
among the disputable presumptions.

A I cannot locate the book. This is the only book.

In one case, it was held:

A No, sir.

Q Will you please state if this is the register of marriage


of marriage applications that your office maintains as
required by the manual of the office of the Local Civil
Registrar?
COURT
May I see that book and the portion marked by
the witness.
xxxx
COURT
Why don't you ask her direct question whether
marriage license 2880792 is the number issued
by their office while with respect to license no.
2770792 the office of the Local Civil Registrar of
San Juan is very definite about it it was never
issued. Then ask him how about no. 2880792 if
the same was ever issued by their office. Did you
ask this 2887092, but you could not find the
record? But for the moment you cannot locate the
books? Which is which now, was this issued or
not?

A disputable presumption has been defined as a species


of evidence that may be accepted and acted on where
there is no other evidence to uphold the contention for
which it stands, or one which may be overcome by other
evidence. One such disputable/rebuttable presumption
is that an official act or duty has been regularly
performed. x x x.21
The presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted
by affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a
duty.22
The presumption of regularity of performance of official duty is
disputable and can be overcome by other evidence as in the
case at bar where the presumption has been effectively
defeated by the tenor of the first and second certifications.
Moreover, the absence of the logbook is not conclusive proof of
non-issuance of Marriage License No. 2770792. It can also
mean, as we believed true in the case at bar, that the logbook
just cannot be found. In the absence of showing of diligent
efforts to search for the said logbook, we cannot easily accept
that absence of the same also means non-existence or falsity
of entries therein.

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Finally, the rule is settled that every intendment of the law or
fact leans toward the validity of the marriage, the
indissolubility of the marriage bonds. 23 The courts look upon
this presumption with great favor. It is not to be lightly
repelled; on the contrary, the presumption is of great weight. 24

violation of decency and of law. A presumption established by


our Code of Civil Procedure is `that a man and a woman
deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a
lawful contract of marriage.' Semper praesumitur pro
matrimonio Always presume marriage."30

The Court is mindful of the policy of the 1987 Constitution to


protect and strengthen the family as the basic autonomous
social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family.
Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of
the marriage.25

This jurisprudential attitude towards marriage is based on


the prima facie presumption that a man and a woman
deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a
lawful contract of marriage.31

The parties have comported themselves as husband and wife


and lived together for several years producing two
offsprings,26 now adults themselves. It took Jaime several years
before he filed the petition for declaration of nullity.
Admittedly, he married another individual sometime in
1991.27 We are not ready to reward petitioner by declaring the
nullity of his marriage and give him his freedom and in the
process allow him to profit from his own deceit and perfidy. 28
Our Constitution is committed to the policy of strengthening
the family as a basic social institution. Our family law is based
on the policy that marriage is not a mere contract, but a social
institution in which the State is vitally interested. The State can
find no stronger anchor than on good, solid and happy families.
The break-up of families weakens our social and moral fabric;
hence, their preservation is not the concern of the family
members alone.29
"The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is x
x x marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil
contract, but it is a new relation, an institution in the
maintenance of which the public is deeply interested.
Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward
legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent
matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any
counterpresumption or evidence special to the case, to be in
fact married. The reason is that such is the common order of
society, and if the parties were not what they thus hold
themselves out as being, they would be living in the constant

By our failure to come to the succor of Jaime, we are not


trifling with his emotion or deepest sentiments. As we have
said in Carating-Siayngco v. Siayngco,32 regrettably, there are
situations like this one, where neither law nor society can
provide the specific answers to every individual problem.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition
is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 20
December 2004 and the Resolution dated 6 April 2005
are AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
ATILANO O. NOLLORA, JR., PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF
THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
G.R. No. 191425 is a petition for review[1] assailing the
Decision[2] promulgated on 30 September 2009 as well as the
Resolution[3] promulgated on 23 February 2010 by the Court of
Appeals (appellate court) in CA-G.R. CR No. 31538. The
appellate court affirmed the 19 November 2007 Decision [4] of

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 22
Branch 215 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (trial
court) in Criminal Case No. Q-04-129031.

Upon his arraignment on April 18, 2005, accused Nollora


assisted by counsel, refused to enter his plea. Hence, a plea of

The trial court found accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. (Nollora)

not guilty was entered by the Court for him. Accused

guilty of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code

Geraldino, on the other hand, entered a plea of not guilty when

and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment. Co-accused

arraigned on June 14, 2005. On even date, pre-trial conference

Rowena Geraldino (Geraldino) was acquitted for the

was held and both the prosecution and defense entered the

prosecution's failure to prove her guilt beyond reasonable

following stipulation of facts:

doubt.

"1. the validity of the first marriage between Atilano O. Nollora,


The Facts

Jr. and Jesusa Pinat Nollora solemnized on April 6, 1999 at


Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte;

The appellate court recited the facts as follows:


On August 24, 2004, Assistant City Prosecutor Raymond
Jonathan B. Lledo filed an Information against Atilano O.
Nollora, Jr. ("Nollora") and Rowena P. Geraldino ("Geraldino")
for the crime of Bigamy. The accusatory portion of the
Information reads:
"That on or about the 8th day of December 2001 in Quezon
City, Philippines, the above-named accused ATILANO O.
NOLLORA, JR., being then legally married to one JESUSA PINAT
NOLLORA, and as said marriage has not been legally dissolved
and still subsisting, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously contract a subsequent or second marriage with her
[sic] co-accused ROWENA P. GERALDINO, who knowingly
consented and agreed to be married to her co-accused
ATILANO O. NOLLORA, JR. knowing him to be a married man, to
the damage and prejudice of the said offended party JESUSA
PINAT NOLLORA."

2. that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. contracted the second marriage


with Rowena P. Geraldino on December 8, 2001 in Quezon City;
3. that in the Counter-Affidavit of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., he
admitted that he contracted the second marriage to Rowena P.
Geraldino;
4. that Rowena P. Geraldino attached to her Counter-Affidavit
the Certificate of Marriage with Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. dated
December 8, 2001;
5. the fact of marriage of Rowena P. Geraldino with Atilano O.
Nollora, Jr. as admitted in her Counter-Affidavit."
The only issue thus proffered by the prosecution for the RTC's
resolution is whether or not the second marriage is bigamous.
Afterwards, pre-trial conference was terminated and the case
was set for initial hearing. Thereafter, trial ensued.

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 23
knew that Rowena P. Geraldino knew of her marriage with
Evidence for the Prosecution

Atilano O. Nollora, Jr., because when she (private complainant)


was brought by Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. at the latter's residence in

As culled from the herein assailed Decision, the respective

Taguig, Metro Manila and introduced her to Atilano O. Nollora,

testimonies of prosecution witnesses were as follows:

Jr.'s parents, Rowena P. Geraldino was there in the house

"xxx (W)itness Jesusa Pinat Nollora xxx testified that she and
accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. met in Saudi Arabia while she
was working there as a Staff Midwife in King Abdulah Naval
Base Hospital. Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. courted her and on April 6,
1999, they got married at the [IE] MELIF Chruch [sic] in Sapang
Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan (Exhibit `A'). While working
in said hospital, she heard rumors that her husband has
another wife and because of anxiety and emotional stress, she
left Saudi Arabia and returned to the Philippines (TSN, October
4, 2005, page 10). Upon arrival in the Philippines, the private
complainant learned that indeed, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.
contracted a second marriage with co-accused Rowena P.
Geraldino on December 8, 2001 (Exhibit `B') when she secured
a certification as to the civil status of Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.
(Exhibit `C') from the National Statistics Office (NSO) sometime
in November 2003.
Upon learning this information, the private complainant
confronted Rowena P. Geraldino at the latter's workplace in
CBW, FTI, Taguig and asked her if she knew of the first
marriage between complainant and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. to
which Rowena P. Geraldino allegedly affirmed and despite this
knowledge, she allegedly still married Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.
because she loves him so much and because they were
neighbors and childhood friends. Private complainant also

together with a friend and she heard everything that they were
talking about.
Because of this case, private complainant was not able to
return to Saudi Arabia to work as a Staff Midwife thereby losing
income opportunity in the amount of P34,000.00 a month,
more or less. When asked about the moral damages she
suffered, she declared that what happened to her was a
tragedy and she had entertained [thoughts] of committing
suicide. She added that because of what happened to her, her
mother died and she almost got raped when Atilano O. Nollora,
Jr. left her alone in their residence in Saudi Arabia. However,
she declared that money is not enough to assuage her
sufferings. Instead, she just asked for the return of her money
in the amount of P50,000.00 (TSN, July 26, 2005, pages 4-14).
Prosecution witness Ruth Santos testified that she knew of the
marriage between the private complainant and Atilano O.
Nollora, Jr., because she was one of the sponsors in said
wedding. Sometime in November 2003, she was asked by the
private complainant to accompany the latter to the workplace
of Rowena P. Geraldino in FTI, Taguig, Metro Manila. She
declared that the private complainant and Rowena P. Geraldino
had a confrontation and she heard that Rowena P. Geraldino
admitted that she (Rowena) knew of the first marriage of

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 24
Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. and the private complainant but she still

this fact when he was courting her in Saudi Arabia and the

went on to marry Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. because she loves him

reason why said private complainant filed the instant case was

very much (TSN, October 24, 2005, pages 3-5).

due to hatred having learned of his second marriage with


Rowena P. Geraldino. She [sic] further testified that Rowena P.

Evidence for the Defense

Geraldino was not aware of his first marriage with the private
complainant and he did not tell her this fact because Rowena P.

The defense's version of facts, as summarized in the herein

Geraldino is a Catholic and he does not want to lose her if she

assailed Decision, is as follows:

learns of his first marriage.

"Accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. admitted having contracted two

He explained that in his Marriage Contract with Jesusa Pinat, it

(2) marriages, the first with private complainant Jesusa Pinat


and the second with Rowena P. Geraldino. He, however,
claimed that he was a Muslim convert way back on January 10,
1992, even before he contracted the first marriage with the
private complainant. As a [M]uslim convert, he is allegedly
entitled to marry four (4) wives as allowed under the Muslim or
Islam belief.
To prove that he is a Muslim convert even prior to his marriage
to the private complainant, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. presented a
Certificate of Conversion dated August 2, 2004 issued by one
Hadji Abdul Kajar Madueo and approved by one Khad Ibrahim
A. Alyamin wherein it is stated that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.
allegedly converted as a Muslim since January 19, 1992
(Exhibit `2,' `3' and `4'). Aside from said certificate, he also
presented a Pledge of Conversion dated January 10, 1992
issued by the same Hadji Abdul Kajar Madueo and approved
by one Khad Ibrahim A. Alyamin (Exhibit `7').
He claimed that the private complaint knew that he was a
Muslim convert prior to their marriage because she [sic] told

is indicated that he was a `Catholic Pentecostal' but that he


was not aware why it was placed as such on said contract. In
his Marriage Contract with Rowena P. Geraldino, the religion
`Catholic' was also indicated because he was keeping as a
secret his being a Muslim since the society does not approve of
marrying a Muslim. He also indicated that he was `single'
despite his first marriage to keep said first marriage a secret
(TSN, January 30, 2006, pages 2-13).
Defense witness Hadji Abdul Qasar Madueo testified that he is
the founder and president of Balik Islam Tableegh Foundation
of the Philippines and as such president, he has the power and
authority to convert any applicant to the Muslim religion. He
alleged that sometime in 1992, he met accused Atilano O.
Nollora, Jr. in Mabini (Manila) who was then going abroad.
Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. applied to become a Muslim (Exhibit `14')
and after receiving the application, said accused was
indoctrinated regarding his obligations as a Muslim. On January
10, 1992, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. embraced the Muslim faith. He
was then directed to report every Sunday to monitor his

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 25
development.

Nollora and only came to know her when this case was filed.
She insists that she is the one lawfully married to Atilano O.

In the year 2004, Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. visited him and asked

Nollora, Jr., having been married to the latter since December

for a certification because of the filing of the instant case. On

8, 2001. Upon learning that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. contracted a

October 2, 2004, he issued a Certificate of Conversion wherein

first marriage with the private complainant, she confronted the

it is stated that Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. is a Muslim convert since

former who admitted the said marriage. Prior to their marriage,

January 10, 1992. Apart from the above-mentioned document,

she asked Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. if he was single and the latter

their `Imam' also issued a Pledge of Conversion (Exhibit `7').

responded that he was single. She also knew that her husband

He declared that a Muslim convert could marry more than one

was a Catholic prior to their marriage but after she learned of

according to the Holy Koran. However, before marrying his

the first marriage of her husband, she learned that he is a

second, third and fourth wives, it is required that the consent

Muslim convert. She also claimed that after learning that her

of the first Muslim wife be secured. Thus, if the first wife is not

husband was a Muslim convert, she and Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.,

a Muslim, there is no necessity to secure her consent (TSN,

also got married in accordance with the Muslim rites. She also

October 9, 2006, pages 2-12).

belied the allegations of the private complainant that she was


sought by the private complainant and that they had a

During his cross-examinations, he declared that if a Muslim

confrontation where she admitted that she knew that Atilano

convert gets married not in accordance with the Muslim faith,

O. Nollora, Jr. was married to the private complainant and

the same is contrary to the teachings of the Muslim faith. A

despite this knowledge, she went on to marry him because she

Muslim also can marry up to four times but he should be able

loved him very much. She insisted that she only came to know

to treat them equally. He claimed that he was not aware of the

the private complainant when she (private complainant) filed

first marriage but was aware of the second. Since his second

this case (TSN, August 14, 2007, pages 2-8)." [5]

marriage with Rowena P. Geraldino was not in accordance with


the Muslim faith, he advised Atilano O. Nollora, Jr. to re-marry

The Trial Court's Ruling

Rowena P. Geraldino in accordance with Muslim marriage


celebration, otherwise, he will not be considered as a true

In its Decision[6] dated 19 November 2007, the trial court

Muslim (TSN, June 25, 2007, pages 3-7).

convicted Nollora and acquitted Geraldino.

Accused Rowena P. Geraldino alleged that she was only a

The trial court stated that there are only two exceptions to

victim in this incident of bigamous marriage. She claimed that

prosecution for bigamy: Article 41[7] of the Family Code, or

she does not know the private complainant Jesusa Pinat

Executive Order No. 209, and Article 180[8] of the Code of

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 26
Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, or Presidential Decree

accused Rowena P. Geraldino, did not comply with the above-

No. 1083. The trial court also cited Article 27 of the Code of

mentioned provision of the law. In fact, he did not even declare

Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, which provides the

that he was a Muslim convert in both marriages, indicating his

qualifications for allowing Muslim men to have more than one

criminal intent. In his converting to the Muslim faith, said

wife: "[N]o Muslim male can have more than one wife unless

accused entertained the mistaken belief that he can just marry

he can deal with them in equal companionship and just

anybody again after marrying the private complainant. What is

treatment as enjoined by Islamic Law and only in exceptional

clear, therefore, is [that] a Muslim is not given an unbridled

cases."

right to just marry anybody the second, third or fourth time.


There are requirements that the Shari'a law imposes, that is,

In convicting Nollora, the trial court's Decision further stated

he should have notified the Shari'a Court where his family

thus:

resides so that copy of said notice should be furnished to the

The principle in Islam is that monogamy is the general rule and


polygamy is allowed only to meet urgent needs. Only with the
permission of the court can a Muslim be permitted to have a
second wife subject to certain requirements. This is because
having plurality of wives is merely tolerated, not encouraged,
under certain circumstances (Muslim Law on Personal Status in
the Philippines by Amer M. Bara-acal and Abdulmajid J. Astir,
1998 First Edition, Pages 64-65). Arbitration is necessary. Any
Muslim husband desiring to contract subsequent marriages,
before so doing, shall notify the Shari'a Circuit Court of the
place where his family resides. The clerk of court shall serve a
copy thereof to the wife or wives. Should any of them objects
[sic]; an Agama Arbitration Council shall be constituted. If said
council fails to secure the wife's consent to the proposed
marriage, the Court shall, subject to Article 27, decide whether
on [sic] not to sustain her objection (Art. 162, Muslim Personal
Laws of the Philippines).
Accused Atilano Nollora, Jr., in marrying his second wife, co-

first wife. The argument that notice to the first wife is not
required since she is not a Muslim is of no moment. This
obligation to notify the said court rests upon accused Atilano
Nollora, Jr. It is not for him to interpret the Shari'a law. It is the
Shari'a Court that has this authority.
In an apparent attempt to escape criminal liability, the accused
recelebrated their marriage in accordance with the Muslim
rites. However, this can no longer cure the criminal liability
that has already been violated.
The Court, however, finds criminal liability on the person of
accused Atilano Nollora, Jr., only. There is no sufficient evidence
that would pin accused Rowena P. Geraldino down. The
evidence presented by the prosecution against her is the
allegation that she knew of the first marriage between private
complainant and Atilano Nollora, Jr., is insufficient[,] being
open to several interpretations. Private complainant alleged
that when she was brought by Atilano Nollora, Jr., to the latter's

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 27
house in Taguig, Metro Manila, Rowena P. Geraldino was there
standing near the door and heard their conversation. From this

Costs against accused Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.

incident, private complainant concluded that said Rowena P.


Geraldino was aware that she and Atilano Nollora, Jr., were

SO ORDERED.[9]

married. This conclusion is obviously misplaced since it could


not be reasonably presumed that Rowena P. Geraldino

Nollora filed a notice of appeal and moved for the allowance of

understands what was going on between her and Atilano

his temporary liberty under the same bail bond pending

Nollora, Jr. It is axiomatic that "(E)very circumstance favoring

appeal. The trial court granted Nollora's motion.

accused's innocence must be taken into account, proof against


him must survive the test of reason and the strongest

Nollora filed a brief with the appellate court and assigned only

suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment" (People

one error of the trial court:

vs. Austria, 195 SCRA 700). This Court, therefore, has to acquit
Rowena P. Geraldino for failure of the prosecution to prove her
guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby
rendered, as follows:
a) Finding accused ATILANO O. NOLLORA, JR. guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Bigamy punishable under
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. This court hereby
renders judgment imposing upon him a prison term of two (2)
years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional,
as minimum of his indeterminate sentence, to eight (8) years
and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum, plus accessory

The trial court gravely erred in finding the accused-appellant


guilty of the crime charged despite the prosecution's failure to
establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. [10]
The Appellate Court's Ruling
On 30 September 2009, the appellate court dismissed Nollora's
appeal and affirmed the trial court's decision. [11]
The appellate court rejected Nollora's defense that his second
marriage to Geraldino was in lawful exercise of his Islamic
religion and was allowed by the Qur'an. The appellate court
denied Nollora's invocation of his religious beliefs and practices
to the prejudice of the non-Muslim women who married him

penalties provided by law.

pursuant to Philippine civil laws. Nollora's two marriages were

b) Acquitting accused ROWENA P. GERALDINO of the crime of

Laws, hence the Family Code of the Philippines should apply.

Bigamy for failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond


reasonable doubt.

not conducted in accordance with the Code of Muslim Personal


Nollora's claim of religious freedom will not immobilize the
State and render it impotent in protecting the general welfare.

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In a Resolution[12] dated 23 February 2010, the appellate court

1. That the offender has been legally married.

denied Nollora's motion for reconsideration. The allegations in

2. That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in

the motion for reconsideration were a mere rehash of Nollora's

case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse

earlier arguments, and there was no reason for the appellate

could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil

court to modify its 30 September 2009 Decision.

Code.

Nollora filed the present petition for review before this Court on
6 April 2010.

3. That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage.


4. That the second or subsequent marriage has all

The Issue
The issue in this case is whether Nollora is guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy.
The Court's Ruling
Nollora's petition has no merit. We affirm the rulings of the
appellate court and of the trial court.
Elements of Bigamy
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code provides:

the essential requisites for validity. [13]

The circumstances in the present case satisfy all the elements


of bigamy. (1) Nollora is legally married to Pinat; [14] (2) Nollora
and Pinat's marriage has not been legally dissolved prior to the
date of the second marriage; (3) Nollora admitted the
existence of his second marriage to Geraldino; [15] and (4)
Nollora and Geraldino's marriage has all the essential
requisites for validity except for the lack of capacity of Nollora
due to his prior marriage.[16]
The marriage certificate[17] of Nollora and Pinat's marriage
states that Nollora and Pinat were married at Sapang Palay

Art. 349. Bigamy. - The penalty of prision mayor shall be

IEMELIF Church, Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan on

imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or

6 April 1999. Rev. Jonathan De Mesa, Minister of the IEMELIF

subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been

Church officiated the ceremony. The marriage certificate [18] of

legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been

Nollora and Geraldino's marriage states that Nollora and

declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment

Geraldino were married at Max's Restaurant, Quezon Avenue,

rendered in the proper proceedings.

Quezon City, Metro Manila on 8 December 2001. Rev. Honorato


D. Santos officiated the ceremony.

The elements of the crime of bigamy are:

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A certification dated 4 November 2003 from the Office of the
Civil Registrar General reads:
We certify that ATILANO JR O. NOLLORA who is alleged to have
been born on February 22, 1968 from ATILANO M. NOLLORA SR
and FLAVIANA OCLARIT, appears in our National Indices of
Marriage for Groom for the years 1973 to 2002 with the
following information:

(a) Legal capacity of the contracting parties;


(b) Mutual consent of the parties freely given;
(c) Offer (ijab) and acceptance (qabul) duly witnessed by at
least two competent persons after the proper guardian in
marriage (wali) has given his consent; and
(d) Stipulation of the customary dower (mahr) duly witnessed
by two competent persons.

Date of Marriage

Place of Marriage

a) April 06, 1999


a) December 08,
2001

b) SAN JOSE DEL MONTE, BULACAN


b) QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA (2nd
District)[19]

Art. 16. Capacity to contract marriage. - (1) Any Muslim male


at least fifteen years of age and any Muslim female of the age
of puberty or upwards and not suffering from any impediment
under the provisions of this Code may contract marriage. A

Before the trial and appellate courts, Nollora put up his Muslim

female is presumed to have attained puberty upon reaching

religion as his sole defense. He alleged that his religion allows

the age of fifteen.

him to marry more than once. Grantingarguendo that Nollora is


indeed of Muslim faith at the time of celebration of both

x x x.

marriages,[ 20] Nollora cannot deny that both marriage


ceremonies were not conducted in accordance with the Code

Art. 17. Marriage Ceremony. - No particular form of marriage

of Muslim Personal Laws, or Presidential Decree No. 1083. The

ceremony is required but the ijab and the qabul in marriage

applicable Articles in the Code of Muslim Personal Laws read:

shall be declared publicly in the presence of the person


solemnizing the marriage and the two competent witnesses.

Art. 14. Nature. - Marriage is not only a civil contract but a civil

The declaration shall be set forth in an instrument in triplicate,

institution. Its nature, consequences and incidents are

signed or marked by the contracting parties and said

governed by this Code and the Shari'a and not subject to

witnesses, and attested by the person solemnizing the

stipulation, except that the marriage settlements to a certain

marriage. One copy shall be given to the contracting parties

extent fix the property relations of the spouses.

and another sent to the Circuit Registrar by the solemnizing


officer who shall keep the third.

Art. 15. Essential Requisites. - No marriage contract shall be


perfected unless the following essential requisites are
complied with:

Art. 18. Authority to solemnize marriage. - Marriage maybe

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 30
solemnized:

Code of the Philippines] shall apply." Nollora's religious


affiliation is not an issue here. Neither is the claim that

(a) By the proper wali by the woman to be wedded;

Nollora's marriages were solemnized according to Muslim law.


Thus, regardless of his professed religion, Nollora cannot claim

(b) Upon the authority of the proper wali, by any person who is

exemption from liability for the crime of bigamy. [21]

competent under Muslim law to solemnize marriage; or


Nollora asserted in his marriage certificate with Geraldino that
(c) By the judge of the Shari'a District Court or Shari'a Circuit

his civil status is "single." Moreover, both of Nollora's marriage

Court or any person designated by the judge, should the

contracts do not state that he is a Muslim. Although the truth

proper wali refuse without justifiable reason, to authorize the

or falsehood of the declaration of one's religion in the marriage

solemnization.

certificate is not an essential requirement for marriage, such


omissions are sufficient proofs of Nollora's liability for bigamy.

Art. 19. Place of solemnization. - Marriage shall be solemnized

Nollora's false declaration about his civil status is thus further

publicly in any mosque, office of the Shari'a judge, office of the

compounded by these omissions.

Circuit Registrar, residence of the bride or her wali, or at any


other suitable place agreed upon by the parties.

[ATTY. CALDINO:]

Art. 20. Specification of dower. - The amount or value of dower

Q: In your marriage contract, Mr. Witness, with Jesusa Pinat,

may be fixed by the contracting parties (mahr-musamma)


before, during or after the celebration of marriage. If the
amount or the value thereof has not been so fixed, a proper
dower (mahr- mithl) shall, upon petition of the wife, be
determined by the court according to the social standing of the
parties.
Indeed, Article 13(2) of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws
states that "[i]n case of a marriage between a Muslim and
a non-Muslim, solemnized not in accordance with
Muslim law or this Code, the [Family Code of the
Philippines, or Executive Order No. 209, in lieu of the Civil

you indicated here as your religion, Catholic Pentecostal, and


you were saying that since January 10, 1992, you are already a
[M]uslim convert. . . you said, Mr. Witness, that you are already
a [M]uslim convert since January 10, 1992. However, in your
marriage contract with Jesusa Pinat, there is no indication here
that you have indicated your religion. Will you please go over
your marriage contract?
[NOLLORA:]
A: When we got married, they just placed there Catholic but I
didn't know why they did not place any Catholic there.

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xxx

A: Yes, ma'am.

Q: Now, Mr. Witness, I would like to call your attention

Q: If you would die for your new religion, why did you allow

with respect to your marriage contract with your co-

that your faith be indicated as Catholic when in fact you were

accused in this case, Rowena Geraldino, x x x will you

already as you alleged [M]uslim to be put in your marriage

please tell us, Mr. Witness, considering that you said

contract?

that you are already a [M]uslim convert on January 10,


1992, why in the marriage contract with Rowena

xxx

Geraldino, you indicated there your religion as Catholic,


Mr. Witness?

[A:] I don't think there is anything wrong with it, I just signed it
so we can get married under the Catholic rights [sic] because

A: Since I was a former Catholic and since I was then

after that we even got married under the [M]uslim rights [sic],

keeping, I was keeping it as a secret my being my Balik-

your Honor.

Islam, that's why I placed there Catholic since I know


that the society doesn't approve a Catholic to marry

xxx

another, that's why I placed there Catholic as my


religion, sir.

Q: Under your Muslim faith, if you marry a second wife, are you
required under your faith to secure the permission of your first

Q: How about under the column, "civil status," why did

wife to get married?

you indicate there that you're single, Mr. Witness?


A: Yes, ma'am.
A: I also kept it as a secret that I was married, earlier
married.[22] (Emphasis supplied)

Q: Did you secure that permission from your first wife, Jesusa
Nollora?

xxx
A: I was not able to ask any permission from her because she
[PROSECUTOR TAYLOR:]

was very mad at me, at the start, she was always very mad,
ma'am.[ 23]

Q: Would you die for your new religion, Mr. Nollora?


In his petition before this Court, Nollora casts doubt on the

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validity of his marriage to Geraldino. Nollora may not impugn
his marriage to Geraldino in order to extricate himself from
criminal liability; otherwise, we would be opening the doors to
allowing the solemnization of multiple flawed marriage

I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my


right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)
LUCIO MORIGO y CACHO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondent.

ceremonies. As we stated in Tenebro v. Court of Appeals:[24]


There is therefore a recognition written into the law itself that
such a marriage, although void ab initio, may still produce
legal consequences. Among these legal consequences is
incurring criminal liability for bigamy. To hold otherwise would
render the State's penal laws on bigamy completely nugatory,
and allow individuals to deliberately ensure that each marital
contract be flawed in some manner, and to thus escape the
consequences of contracting multiple marriages, while
beguiling throngs of hapless women with the promise of
futurity and commitment.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. The Decision of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31538 promulgated on 30
September 2009 and the Resolution promulgated on 23
February 2010 are AFFIRMED. Petitioner Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.
is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Bigamy in Criminal Case
No. Q-04-129031 and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment with a term of two years, four months and one
day of prision correccional as minimum to eight years and one
day of prision mayor as maximum of his indeterminate
sentence, as well as the accessory penalties provided by law.
Costs against petitioner Atilano O. Nollora, Jr.
SO ORDERED.

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the
decision[1] dated October 21, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, which affirmed the judgment [2] dated
August 5, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bohol,
Branch 4, in Criminal Case No. 8688. The trial court found
herein petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of bigamy and sentenced him to a prison
term of seven (7) months of prision correccional as minimum
to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as maximum.
Also assailed in this petition is the resolution [3] of the appellate
court, dated September 25, 2000, denying Morigos motion for
reconsideration.
The facts of this case, as found by the court a quo, are as
follows:
Appellant Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete were boardmates at
the house of Catalina Tortor at Tagbilaran City, Province of
Bohol, for a period of four (4) years (from 1974-1978).
After school year 1977-78, Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete lost
contact with each other.
In 1984, Lucio Morigo was surprised to receive a card from
Lucia Barrete from Singapore. The former replied and after an
exchange of letters, they became sweethearts.
In 1986, Lucia returned to the Philippines but left again for
Canada to work there. While in Canada, they maintained
constant communication.

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In 1990, Lucia came back to the Philippines and proposed to
petition appellant to join her in Canada. Both agreed to get
married, thus they were married on August 30, 1990 at
the Iglesia de Filipina Nacional at Catagdaan, Pilar, Bohol.
On September 8, 1990, Lucia reported back to her work in
Canada leaving appellant Lucio behind.
On August 19, 1991, Lucia filed with the Ontario Court (General
Division) a petition for divorce against appellant which was
granted by the court on January 17, 1992 and to take effect on
February 17, 1992.
On October 4, 1992, appellant Lucio Morigo married Maria
Jececha Lumbago[4] at the Virgen sa Barangay Parish,
Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
On September 21, 1993, accused filed a complaint for judicial
declaration of nullity of marriage in the Regional Trial Court of
Bohol, docketed as Civil Case No. 6020. The complaint seek
(sic) among others, the declaration of nullity of accuseds
marriage with Lucia, on the ground that no marriage ceremony
actually took place.
On October 19, 1993, appellant was charged with Bigamy in an
Information[5] filed by the City Prosecutor of Tagbilaran [City],
with the Regional Trial Court of Bohol. [6]
The petitioner moved for suspension of the arraignment on
the ground that the civil case for judicial nullification of his
marriage with Lucia posed a prejudicial question in the bigamy
case. His motion was granted, but subsequently denied upon
motion for reconsideration by the prosecution. When arraigned
in the bigamy case, which was docketed as Criminal Case No.
8688, herein petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial
thereafter ensued.
On August 5, 1996, the RTC of Bohol handed down its
judgment in Criminal Case No. 8688, as follows:

WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court finds


accused Lucio Morigo y Cacho guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime of Bigamy and sentences him to suffer the penalty
of imprisonment ranging from Seven (7) Months of Prision
Correccional as minimum to Six (6) Years and One (1) Day
of Prision Mayor as maximum.
SO ORDERED.[7]
In convicting herein petitioner, the trial court discounted
petitioners claim that his first marriage to Lucia was null and
void ab initio. Following Domingo v. Court of Appeals,[8] the
trial court ruled that want of a valid marriage ceremony is not
a defense in a charge of bigamy. The parties to a marriage
should not be allowed to assume that their marriage is void
even if such be the fact but must first secure a judicial
declaration of the nullity of their marriage before they can be
allowed to marry again.
Anent the Canadian divorce obtained by Lucia, the trial
court cited Ramirez v. Gmur,[9] which held that the court of a
country in which neither of the spouses is domiciled and in
which one or both spouses may resort merely for the purpose
of obtaining a divorce, has no jurisdiction to determine the
matrimonial status of the parties. As such, a divorce granted
by said court is not entitled to recognition anywhere.
Debunking Lucios defense of good faith in contracting the
second marriage, the trial court stressed that following People
v. Bitdu,[10] everyone is presumed to know the law, and the fact
that one does not know that his act constitutes a violation of
the law does not exempt him from the consequences thereof.
Seasonably, petitioner filed an appeal with the Court of
Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 20700.
Meanwhile, on October 23, 1997, or while CA-G.R. CR No.
20700 was pending before the appellate court, the trial court
rendered a decision in Civil Case No. 6020 declaring the
marriage between Lucio and Lucia void ab initio since no
marriage ceremony actually took place. No appeal was taken
from this decision, which then became final and executory.

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On October 21, 1999, the appellate court decided CA-G.R.
CR No. 20700 as follows:
WHEREFORE, finding no error in the appealed decision, the
same is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.[11]
In affirming the assailed judgment of conviction, the
appellate court stressed that the subsequent declaration of
nullity of Lucios marriage to Lucia in Civil Case No. 6020 could
not acquit Lucio. The reason is that what is sought to be
punished by Article 349[12] of the Revised Penal Code is the act
of contracting a second marriage before the first marriage had
been dissolved. Hence, the CA held, the fact that the first
marriage was void from the beginning is not a valid defense in
a bigamy case.
The Court of Appeals also pointed out that the divorce
decree obtained by Lucia from the Canadian court could not be
accorded validity in the Philippines, pursuant to Article 15 [13] of
the Civil Code and given the fact that it is contrary to public
policy in this jurisdiction. Under Article 17 [14] of the Civil Code,
a declaration of public policy cannot be rendered ineffectual by
a judgment promulgated in a foreign jurisdiction.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the appellate
courts decision, contending that the doctrine in Mendiola v.
People,[15] allows mistake upon a difficult question of law (such
as the effect of a foreign divorce decree) to be a basis for good
faith.
On September 25, 2000, the appellate court denied the
motion for lack of merit.[16] However, the denial was by a split
vote. The ponente of the appellate courts original decision in
CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria, joined in
the opinion prepared by Justice Bernardo P. Abesamis. The
dissent observed that as the first marriage was validly
declared void ab initio, then there was no first marriage to
speak of. Since the date of the nullity retroacts to the date of
the first marriage and since herein petitioner was, in the eyes

of the law, never married, he cannot be convicted beyond


reasonable doubt of bigamy.
The present petition raises the following issues for our
resolution:

A.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING
TO APPLY THE RULE THAT IN CRIMES PENALIZED UNDER THE
REVISED PENAL CODE, CRIMINAL INTENT IS AN INDISPENSABLE
REQUISITE. COROLLARILY, WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF
APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO APPRECIATE [THE]
PETITIONERS LACK OF CRIMINAL INTENT WHEN HE
CONTRACTED THE SECOND MARRIAGE.

B.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING
THAT THE RULING IN PEOPLE VS. BITDU (58 PHIL. 817) IS
APPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR.

C.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING
TO APPLY THE RULE THAT EACH AND EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE
FAVORING THE INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED MUST BE TAKEN
INTO ACCOUNT.[17]
To our mind, the primordial issue should be whether or not
petitioner committed bigamy and if so, whether his defense of
good faith is valid.
The petitioner submits that he should not be faulted for
relying in good faith upon the divorce decree of the Ontario
court. He highlights the fact that he contracted the second

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marriage openly and publicly, which a person intent upon
bigamy would not be doing. The petitioner further argues that
his lack of criminal intent is material to a conviction or
acquittal in the instant case. The crime of bigamy, just like
other felonies punished under the Revised Penal Code, is mala
in se, and hence, good faith and lack of criminal intent are
allowed as a complete defense. He stresses that there is a
difference between the intent to commit the crime and the
intent to perpetrate the act. Hence, it does not necessarily
follow that his intention to contract a second marriage is
tantamount to an intent to commit bigamy.
For the respondent, the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG) submits that good faith in the instant case is a
convenient but flimsy excuse. The Solicitor General relies upon
our ruling inMarbella-Bobis v. Bobis,[18] which held that bigamy
can be successfully prosecuted provided all the elements
concur, stressing that under Article 40[19] of the Family Code, a
judicial declaration of nullity is a must before a party may remarry. Whether or not the petitioner was aware of said Article
40 is of no account as everyone is presumed to know the law.
The OSG counters that petitioners contention that he was in
good faith because he relied on the divorce decree of the
Ontario court is negated by his act of filing Civil Case No. 6020,
seeking a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lucia.
Before we delve into petitioners defense of good faith and
lack of criminal intent, we must first determine whether all the
elements of bigamy are present in this case. In Marbella-Bobis
v. Bobis,[20] we laid down the elements of bigamy thus:
(1) the offender has been legally married;
(2) the first marriage has not been legally dissolved, or in
case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse
has not been judicially declared presumptively dead;
(3) he contracts a subsequent marriage; and
(4) the subsequent marriage would have been valid had it
not been for the existence of the first.
Applying the foregoing test to the instant case, we note
that during the pendency of CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, the RTC of

Bohol Branch 1, handed down the following decision in Civil


Case No. 6020, to wit:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby
rendered decreeing the annulment of the marriage entered
into by petitioner Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete on August 23,
1990 in Pilar, Bohol and further directing the Local Civil
Registrar of Pilar, Bohol to effect the cancellation of the
marriage contract.
SO ORDERED.[21]
The trial court found that there was no actual marriage
ceremony performed between Lucio and Lucia by a
solemnizing officer. Instead, what transpired was a mere
signing of the marriage contract by the two, without the
presence of a solemnizing officer. The trial court thus held that
the marriage is void ab initio, in accordance with Articles
3[22] and 4[23] of the Family Code. As the dissenting opinion in
CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, correctly puts it, This simply means
that there was no marriage to begin with; and that such
declaration of nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage.
In other words, for all intents and purposes, reckoned from the
date of the declaration of the first marriage as void ab initio to
the date of the celebration of the first marriage, the accused
was, under the eyes of the law, never married. [24] The records
show that no appeal was taken from the decision of the trial
court in Civil Case No. 6020, hence, the decision had long
become final and executory.
The first element of bigamy as a crime requires that the
accused must have been legally married. But in this case,
legally speaking, the petitioner was never married to Lucia
Barrete. Thus, there is no first marriage to speak of. Under the
principle of retroactivity of a marriage being declared void ab
initio, the two were never married from the beginning. The
contract of marriage is null; it bears no legal effect. Taking this
argument to its logical conclusion, for legal purposes,
petitioner was not married to Lucia at the time he contracted
the marriage with Maria Jececha. The existence and the
validity of the first marriage being an essential element of the

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crime of bigamy, it is but logical that a conviction for said
offense cannot be sustained where there is no first marriage to
speak of. The petitioner, must, perforce be acquitted of the
instant charge.
The present case is analogous to, but must be
distinguished from Mercado v. Tan.[25] In the latter case, the
judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage was likewise
obtained after the second marriage was already celebrated.
We held therein that:
A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is
necessary before a subsequent one can be legally contracted.
One who enters into a subsequent marriage without first
obtaining such judicial declaration is guilty of bigamy. This
principle applies even if the earlier union is characterized by
statutes as void.[26]
It bears stressing though that in Mercado, the first
marriage was actually solemnized not just once, but twice: first
before a judge where a marriage certificate was duly issued
and then again six months later before a priest in religious
rites. Ostensibly, at least, the first marriage appeared to have
transpired, although later declared void ab initio.
In the instant case, however, no marriage ceremony at all
was performed by a duly authorized solemnizing officer.
Petitioner and Lucia Barrete merely signed a marriage contract
on their own. The mere private act of signing a marriage
contract bears no semblance to a valid marriage and thus,
needs no judicial declaration of nullity. Such act alone, without
more, cannot be deemed to constitute an ostensibly valid
marriage for which petitioner might be held liable for bigamy
unless he first secures a judicial declaration of nullity before he
contracts a subsequent marriage.
The law abhors an injustice and the Court is mandated to
liberally construe a penal statute in favor of an accused and
weigh every circumstance in favor of the presumption of
innocence to ensure that justice is done. Under the
circumstances of the present case, we held that petitioner has
not committed bigamy. Further, we also find that we need not

tarry on the issue of the validity of his defense of good faith or


lack of criminal intent, which is now moot and academic.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The
assailed decision, dated October 21, 1999 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, as well as the resolution of
the appellate court dated September 25, 2000, denying herein
petitioners motion for reconsideration, is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The petitioner Lucio Morigo y Cacho is ACQUITTED from
the charge of BIGAMY on the ground that his guilt has not been
proven with moral certainty.
SO ORDERED.
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7-8)

THIRD DIVISION
RESTITUTO M. ALCANTARA,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 167746


Present:

- versus -

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ.

ROSITA A. ALCANTARA and


Promulgated:
HON. COURT OF APPEALS,
Respondent
August 28, 2007
s.
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 37
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Before
this
Court
is
a
Petition
for
Review
on Certiorari filed by petitioner Restituto Alcantara assailing
the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated 30 September
2004 in CA-G.R. CV No. 66724 denying petitioners appeal and
affirming the decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Makati City, Branch 143, in Civil Case No. 97-1325 dated 14
February 2000, dismissing his petition for annulment of
marriage.
The antecedent facts are:
[3]

A petition for annulment of marriage was filed by


petitioner against respondent Rosita A. Alcantara alleging that
on 8 December 1982 he and respondent, without securing the
required marriage license, went to the Manila City Hall for the
purpose of looking for a person who could arrange a marriage
for them. They met a person who, for a fee, arranged their
wedding before a certain Rev. Aquilino Navarro, a Minister of
the Gospel of the CDCC BR Chapel. [4] They got married on the
same day, 8 December 1982. Petitioner and respondent went
through another marriage ceremony at the San Jose
de Manuguit Church in Tondo, Manila, on 26 March 1983. The
marriage was likewise celebrated without the parties securing
a marriage license. The alleged marriage license, procured
in Carmona, Cavite, appearing on the marriage contract, is a
sham, as neither party was a resident of Carmona, and they
never went to Carmona to apply for a license with the local
civil registrar of the said place. On 14 October 1985,
respondent gave birth to their child Rose Ann Alcantara. In
1988, they parted ways and lived separate lives. Petitioner
prayed that after due hearing, judgment be issued declaring
their marriage void and ordering the Civil Registrar to cancel
the corresponding marriage contract [5] and its entry on file.[6]
Answering petitioners petition for annulment of
marriage, respondent asserts the validity of their marriage and

maintains that there was a marriage license issued as


evidenced by a certification from the Office of the Civil Registry
of Carmona, Cavite. Contrary to petitioners representation,
respondent gave birth to their first child named Rose
Ann Alcantara on 14 October 1985 and to another daughter
named Rachel Ann Alcantara on 27 October 1992.[7] Petitioner
has a mistress with whom he has three children. [8] Petitioner
only filed the annulment of their marriage to evade
prosecution for concubinage.[9] Respondent, in fact, has filed a
case
for concubinage against
petitioner
before
theMetropolitan Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 60.
[10]
Respondent prays that the petition for annulment of
marriage be denied for lack of merit.
On 14 February 2000, the RTC of Makati City, Branch
143, rendered its Decision disposing as follows:
The foregoing considered, judgment is
rendered as follows:
1.

The Petition is dismissed for lack of

merit;
2.
Petitioner is ordered to pay
respondent the sum of twenty thousand pesos
(P20,000.00) per month as support for their two
(2) children on the first five (5) days of each
month; and
3.

To pay the costs.[11]

As earlier stated, the Court of Appeals rendered its


Decision dismissing the petitioners appeal. His Motion for
Reconsideration was likewise denied in a resolution of the
Court of Appeals dated 6 April 2005.[12]
The Court of Appeals held that the marriage license of
the parties is presumed to be regularly issued and petitioner
had not presented any evidence to overcome the

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presumption. Moreover, the parties marriage contract being a
public document is a prima facie proof of the questioned
marriage under Section 44, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. [13]
In his Petition before this Court, petitioner raises the
following issues for resolution:
a.

The
Honorable
Court
of
Appeals
committed a reversible error when it ruled
that the Petition for Annulment has no legal
and factual basis despite the evidence on
record that there was no marriage license
at the precise moment of the solemnization
of the marriage.

b.

The
Honorable
Court
of
Appeals
committed a reversible error when it gave
weight to the Marriage License No.
7054133 despite the fact that the same
was not identified and offered as evidence
during the trial, and was not the Marriage
license number appearing on the face of
the marriage contract.

c.

d.

The
Honorable
Court
of
Appeals
committed a reversible error when it failed
to apply the ruling laid down by this
Honorable Court in the case of Sy vs. Court
of Appeals. (G.R. No. 127263, 12 April
2000 [330 SCRA 550]).
The
Honorable
Court
of
Appeals
committed a reversible error when it failed
to relax the observance of procedural rules
to protect and promote the substantial
rights of the party litigants.[14]

Petitioner submits that at the precise time that his


marriage with the respondent was celebrated, there was no
marriage license because he and respondent just went to
theManila City Hall and dealt with a fixer who arranged
everything for them.[15] The wedding took place at the stairs
in Manila City Hall and not in CDCC BR Chapel where
Rev.Aquilino Navarro who solemnized the marriage belongs.
[16]
He and respondent did not go to Carmona, Cavite, to apply
for a marriage license. Assuming a marriage license
fromCarmona, Cavite, was issued to them, neither he nor the
respondent was a resident of the place. The certification of the
Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, cannot be given
weight because the certification states that Marriage License
number
7054133
was
issued
in
favor
of
Mr. Restituto Alcantara and Miss Rosita Almario[17] but their
marriage contract bears the number 7054033 for their
marriage license number.
The marriage involved herein having been solemnized
on 8 December 1982, or prior to the effectivity of the Family
Code, the applicable law to determine its validity is the Civil
Code which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration.
A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under
Article 53 of the Civil Code, the absence of which renders the
marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3)[18] in relation to
Article 58 of the same Code.[19]
Article 53 of the Civil Code[20] which was the law
applicable at the time of the marriage of the parties states:
Art. 53. No marriage shall be solemnized
unless all these requisites are complied with:
(1)

Legal capacity of the contracting

(2)

Their consent, freely given;

parties;

We deny the petition.


(3)
Authority of the person performing
the marriage; and

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(4)
A marriage license, except in a
marriage of exceptional character.
The requirement and issuance of a marriage license is
the States demonstration of its involvement and participation
in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the general
public is interested.[21]
Petitioner cannot insist on the absence of a marriage
license to impugn the validity of his marriage. The cases
where the court considered the absence of a marriage license
as a ground for considering the marriage void are clear-cut.
In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals,[22] the
Local Civil Registrar issued a certification of due search and
inability to find a record or entry to the effect that Marriage
License No. 3196182 was issued to the parties. The Court held
that the certification of due search and inability to find a
record or entry as to the purported marriage license, issued by
the Civil Registrar of Pasig, enjoys probative value, he being
the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data
relative to the issuance of a marriage license. Based on said
certification, the Court held that there is absence of a marriage
license that would render the marriage void ab initio.
In Cario v. Cario,[23] the Court considered the marriage
of therein petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased Santiago
S. Carino as void ab initio. The records reveal that the
marriage contract of petitioner and the deceased bears no
marriage license number and, as certified by the Local Civil
Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record
of such marriage license. The court held that the certification
issued by the local civil registrar is adequate to prove the nonissuance of the marriage license. Their marriage having been
solemnized without the necessary marriage license and not
being one of the marriages exempt from the marriage license
requirement, the marriage of the petitioner and the deceased
is undoubtedly void ab initio.

In Sy v. Court of Appeals,[24] the marriage license was


issued on 17 September 1974, almost one year after the
ceremony took place on 15 November 1973. The Court held
that the ineluctable conclusion is that the marriage was indeed
contracted without a marriage license.
In all these cases, there was clearly an absence of a
marriage license which rendered the marriage void.
Clearly, from these cases, it can be deduced that to be
considered void on the ground of absence of a marriage
license, the law requires that the absence of such marriage
license must be apparent on the marriage contract, or at the
very least, supported by a certification from the local civil
registrar that no such marriage license was issued to the
parties. In this case, the marriage contract between the
petitioner and respondent reflects a marriage license
number. A certification to this effect was also issued by the
local civil registrar of Carmona, Cavite.[25] The certification
moreover is precise in that it specifically identified the parties
to
whom
the
marriage
license
was
issued,
namely RestitutoAlcantara and
Rosita Almario,
further
validating the fact that a license was in fact issued to the
parties herein.
The certification of Municipal Civil Registrar Macrino L.
Diaz of Carmona, Cavite, reads:
This is to certify that as per the registry
Records of Marriage filed in this office, Marriage
License No. 7054133 was issued in favor of
Mr. Restituto Alcantara and
Miss
Rosita Almario on December 8, 1982.
This Certification is being issued upon the
request of Mrs. Rosita A. Alcantara for whatever
legal purpose or intents it may serve.[26]
This certification enjoys the presumption that official
duty has been regularly performed and the issuance of the

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marriage license was done in the regular conduct of official
business.[27] The presumption of regularity of official acts may
be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to
perform a duty. However, the presumption prevails until it is
overcome by no less than clear and convincing evidence to the
contrary. Thus, unless the presumption is rebutted, it becomes
conclusive. Every reasonable intendment will be made in
support of the presumption and, in case of doubt as to an
officers act being lawful or unlawful, construction should be in
favor of its lawfulness.[28] Significantly, apart from these,
petitioner, by counsel, admitted that a marriage license was,
indeed, issued in Carmona, Cavite.[29]
Petitioner, in a faint attempt to demolish the probative
value of the marriage license, claims that neither he nor
respondent is a resident of Carmona, Cavite. Even then, we
still hold that there is no sufficient basis to annul petitioner and
respondents marriage. Issuance of a marriage license in a city
or municipality, not the residence of either of the contracting
parties, and issuance of a marriage license despite the
absence of publication or prior to the completion of the 10-day
period for publication are considered mere irregularities that
do not affect the validity of the marriage.[30] An irregularity in
any of the formal requisites of marriage does not affect its
validity but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity
are civilly, criminally and administratively liable.[31]
Again, petitioner harps on the discrepancy between the
marriage license number in the certification of the Municipal
Civil Registrar, which states that the marriage license issued to
the parties is No. 7054133, while the marriage contract states
that the marriage license number of the parties is number
7054033. Once more, this argument fails to sway us. It is not
impossible to assume that the same is a mere a typographical
error, as a closer scrutiny of the marriage contract reveals the
overlapping of the numbers 0 and 1, such that the marriage
license may read either as 7054133 or 7054033. It therefore
does not detract from our conclusion regarding the existence
and issuance of said marriage license to the parties.

Under the principle that he who comes to court must


come with clean hands,[32] petitioner cannot pretend that he
was not responsible or a party to the marriage celebration
which he now insists took place without the requisite marriage
license. Petitioner admitted that the civil marriage took place
because he initiated it.[33] Petitioner is an educated
person. He is a mechanical engineer by profession. He
knowingly and voluntarily went to the Manila City Hall and
likewise, knowingly and voluntarily, went through a marriage
ceremony. He cannot benefit from his action and be allowed to
extricate himself from the marriage bond at his mere say-so
when the situation is no longer palatable to his taste or suited
to his lifestyle. We cannot countenance such effrontery. His
attempt to make a mockery of the institution of marriage
betrays his bad faith.[34]
Petitioner and respondent went through a marriage
ceremony twice in a span of less than one year utilizing the
same marriage license. There is no claim that he went through
the second wedding ceremony in church under duress or with
a gun to his head. Everything was executed without nary a
whimper on the part of the petitioner.
In fact, for the second wedding of petitioner and
respondent,
they
presented
to
the
San
Jose
de Manuguit Church the marriage contract executed during the
previous wedding ceremony before the Manila City Hall. This is
confirmed in petitioners testimony as follows
WITNESS
As I remember your honor, they asked us
to get the necessary document prior to the
wedding.
COURT
What particular document did the church
asked you to produce? I am referring to the
San Jose de Manuguit church.

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WITNESS
I dont remember your honor.

The logical conclusion is that petitioner was amenable


and a willing participant to all that took place at that
time. Obviously, the church ceremony was confirmatory of
their civil marriage, thereby cleansing whatever irregularity or
defect attended the civil wedding.[36]

COURT
Were you asked by the church to present a
Marriage License?
WITNESS
I think they asked us for documents and I
said we have already a Marriage Contract
and I dont know if it is good enough for the
marriage and they accepted it your honor.
COURT
In other words, you represented to the San
Jose de Manuguit church that you have with
you already a Marriage Contract?
WITNESS
Yes your honor.
COURT
That
is
why
the
San
Jose
de Manuguit church copied the same
marriage License in the Marriage Contract
issued which Marriage License is Number
7054033.

Likewise, the issue raised by petitioner -- that they


appeared before a fixer who arranged everything for them
and who facilitated the ceremony before a certain
Rev.Aquilino Navarro, a Minister of the Gospel of the CDCC Br
Chapel -- will not strengthen his posture. The authority of the
officer or clergyman shown to have performed a marriage
ceremony will be presumed in the absence of any showing to
the contrary.[37] Moreover, the solemnizing officer is not dutybound to investigate whether or not a marriage license has
been duly and regularly issued by the local civil registrar. All
the solemnizing officer needs to know is that the license has
been issued by the competent official, and it may be presumed
from the issuance of the license that said official has fulfilled
the duty to ascertain whether the contracting parties had
fulfilled the requirements of law. [38]
Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio. The presumption
is always in favor of the validity of the marriage. [39] Every
intendment of the law or fact leans toward the validity of the
marriage bonds. The Courts look upon this presumption with
great favor. It is not to be lightly repelled; on the contrary, the
presumption is of great weight.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition
is DENIED for lack of merit. The decision of the Court of
Appeals dated 30 September 2004 affirming the decision of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 143 of Makati City, dated 14
February 2000, are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

WITNESS
Yes your honor.[35]

SO ORDERED.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from
all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 42
JUVY N. COSCA, EDMUNDO B. PERALTA, RAMON C.
SAMBO, and APOLLO A. VILLAMORA, complainants,
vs.
HON. LUCIO P. PALAYPAYON, JR., Presiding Judge, and
NELIA B. ESMERALDA-BAROY, Clerk of Court II, both of
the Municipal Trial Court of Tinambac, Camarines
Sur, respondents.
Esteban R. Abonal for complainants.
Haide B. Vista-Gumba for respondents.

PER CURIAM, J.:


Complainants Juvy N. Cosca, Edmundo B. Peralta, Ramon C.
Sambo, and Apollo Villamora, are Stenographer I, Interpreter I,
Clerk II, and Process Server, respectively, of the Municipal Trial
Court of Tinambac, Camarines Sur. Respondents Judge Lucio P.
Palaypayon, Jr. and Nelia B. Esmeralda-Baroy are respectively
the Presiding Judge and Clerk of Court II of the same court.
In an administrative complaint filed with the Office of the Court
Administrator on October 5, 1992, herein respondents were
charged with the following offenses, to wit: (1) illegal
solemnization of marriage; (2) falsification of the monthly
reports of cases; (3) bribery in consideration of an appointment
in the court; (4) non-issuance of receipt for cash bond
received; (5) infidelity in the custody of detained prisoners;
and (6) requiring payment of filing fees from exempted
entities. 1
Pursuant to a resolution issued by this Court respondents filed
their respective Comments. 2 A Reply to Answers of
Respondents was filed by complainants. 3 The case was
thereafter referred to Executive Judge David C. Naval of the
Regional Trial Court, Naga City, for investigation report and
recommendation. The case was however transferred to First
Assistant Executive Judge Antonio N. Gerona when Judge Naval

inhibited himself for the reason that his wife is a cousin of


respondent Judge Palaypayon, Jr. 4
The contending versions of the parties regarding the factual
antecedents of this administrative matter, as culled from the
records thereof, are set out under each particular charge
against respondents.
1. Illegal solemnization of marriage
Complainants allege that respondent judge solemnized
marriages even without the requisite marriage license. Thus,
the following couples were able to get married by the simple
expedient of paying the marriage fees to respondent Baroy,
despite the absence of a marriage license, viz.: Alano P.
Abellano and Nelly Edralin, Francisco Selpo and Julieta Carrido,
Eddie Terrobias and Maria Gacer, Renato Gamay and Maricris
Belga, Arsenio Sabater and Margarita Nacario, and Sammy
Bocaya and Gina Bismonte. As a consequence, their marriage
contracts (Exhibits B, C, D, F, G, and A, respectively) did not
reflect any marriage license number. In addition, respondent
judge did not sign their marriage contracts and did not indicate
the date of solemnization, the reason being that he allegedly
had to wait for the marriage license to be submitted by the
parties which was usually several days after the ceremony.
Indubitably, the marriage contracts were not filed with the
local civil registrar. Complainant Ramon Sambo, who prepares
the marriage contracts, called the attention of respondents to
the lack of marriage licenses and its effect on the marriages
involved, but the latter opted to proceed with the celebration
of said marriages.
Respondent Nelia Baroy claims that when she was appointed
Clerk of Court II, the employees of the court were already
hostile to her, especially complainant Ramon Sambo who told
her that he was filing a protest against her appointment. She
avers that it was only lately when she discovered that the
court had a marriage Register which is in the custody of
Sambo; that it was Sambo who failed to furnish the parties
copies of the marriage contract and to register these with the
local civil registrar; and that apparently Sambo kept these

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 43
marriage contracts in preparation for this administrative case.
Complainant Sambo, however, claims that all file copies of the
marriage contracts were kept by respondent Baroy, but the
latter insists that she had instructed Sambo to follow up the
submission by the contracting parties of their marriage
licenses as part of his duties but he failed to do so.

they have notarized only six (6) documents for July, 1992, but
the Notarial Register will show that there were one hundred
thirteen (113) documents which were notarized during that
month; and that respondents reported a notarial fee of only
P18.50 for each document, although in fact they collected
P20.00 therefor and failed to account for the difference.

Respondent Judge Palaypayon, Jr. contends that the marriage


between Alano P. Abellano and Nelly Edralin falls under Article
34 of the Civil Code, hence it is exempt from the marriage
license requirement; that he gave strict instructions to
complainant Sambo to furnish the couple a copy of the
marriage contract and to file the same with the civil registrar,
but the latter failed to do so; that in order to solve the
problem, the spouses subsequently formalized their marriage
by securing a marriage license and executing their marriage
contract, a copy of which was filed with the civil registrar; that
the other five marriages alluded to in the administrative
complaint were not illegally solemnized because the marriage
contracts were not signed by him and they did not contain the
date and place of marriage; that copies of these marriage
contracts are in the custody of complainant Sambo; that the
alleged marriage of Francisco Selpo and Julieta Carrido, Eddie
Terrobias and Maria Emma Gaor, Renato Gamay and Maricris
Belga, and of Arsenio Sabater and Margarita Nacario were not
celebrated by him since he refused to solemnize them in the
absence of a marriage license; that the marriage of Samy
Bocaya and Gina Bismonte was celebrated even without the
requisite license due to the insistence of the parties in order to
avoid embarrassment to their guests but that, at any rate, he
did not sign their marriage contract which remains unsigned
up to the present.

Respondent Baroy contends, however, that the marriage


registry where all marriages celebrated by respondent judge
are entered is under the exclusive control and custody of
complainant Ramon Sambo, hence he is the only one who
should be held responsible for the entries made therein; that
the reported marriages are merely based on the payments
made as solemnization fees which are in the custody of
respondent Baroy. She further avers that it is Sambo who is
likewise the custodian of the Notarial Register; that she cannot
be held accountable for whatever alleged difference there is in
the notarial fees because she is liable only for those payments
tendered to her by Sambo himself; that the notarial fees she
collects are duly covered by receipts; that of the P20.00
charged, P18.50 is remitted directly to the Supreme Court as
part of the Judiciary Development Fund and P150 goes to the
general fund of the Supreme Court which is paid to the
Municipal Treasurer of Tinambac, Camarines Sur. Respondent
theorizes that the discrepancies in the monthly report were
manipulated by complainant Sambo considering that he is the
one in charge of the preparation of the monthly report.

2. Falsification of monthly report for July, 1991


regarding the number of marriages solemnized
and the number of documents notarized.
It is alleged that respondent judge made it appear that he
solemnized seven (7) marriages in the month of July, 1992,
when in truth he did not do so or at most those marriages were
null and void; that respondents likewise made it appear that

Respondent Judge Palaypayon avers that the erroneous


number of marriages celebrated was intentionally placed by
complainant Sambo; that the number of marriages solemnized
should not be based on solemnization fees paid for that month
since not all the marriages paid for are solemnized in the same
month. He claims that there were actually only six (6)
documents notarized in the month of July, 1992 which tallied
with the official receipts issued by the clerk of court; that it is
Sambo who should be held accountable for any unreceipted
payment for notarial fees because he is the one in charge of
the Notarial Register; and that this case filed by complainant
Sambo is merely in retaliation for his failure to be appointed as
the clerk of court. Furthermore, respondent judge contends

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 44
that he is not the one supervising or preparing the monthly
report, and that he merely has the ministerial duty to sign the
same.
3. Bribery in consideration of an appointment in
the court
Complainants allege that because of the retirement of the
clerk of court, respondent judge forwarded to the Supreme
Court the applications of Rodel Abogado, Ramon Sambo, and
Jessell Abiog. However, they were surprised when respondent
Baroy reported for duty as clerk of court on October 21, 1991.
They later found out that respondent Baroy was the one
appointed because she gave a brand-new air-conditioning unit
to respondent judge.
Respondent Baroy claims that when she was still in Naga City
she purchased an air-conditioning unit but when she was
appointed clerk of court she had to transfer to Tinambac and,
since she no longer needed the air conditioner, she decided to
sell the same to respondent judge. The installation and use
thereof by the latter in his office was with the consent of the
Mayor of Tinambac.
Respondent judge contends that he endorsed all the
applications for the position of clerk of court to the Supreme
Court which has the sole authority over such appointments
and that he had no hand in the appointment of respondent
Baroy. He contends that the air-conditioning unit was bought
from his
co-respondent on installment basis on May 29, 1992, eight (8)
months after Baroy had been appointed clerk of court. He
claims that he would not be that naive to exhibit to the public
as item which could not be defended as a matter of honor and
prestige.
4. Cash bond issued without a receipt
It is alleged that in Criminal Case No. 5438, entitled "People vs.
Mendeza, et al., "bondswoman Januaria Dacara was allowed by

respondent judge to change her property bond to cash bond;


that she paid the amount of P1,000.00 but was never issued a
receipt therefor nor was it made to appear in the records that
the bond has been paid; that despite the lapse of two years,
the money was never returned to the bondswoman; and that it
has not been shown that the money was turned over to the
Municipal Treasurer of Tinambac.
Respondent Baroy counters that the cash bond was deposited
with the former clerk of court, then turned over to the acting
clerk of court and, later, given to her under a corresponding
receipt; that the cash bond is deposited with the bank; and
that should the bondswoman desire to withdraw the same, she
should follow the proper procedure therefor.
Respondent judge contends that Criminal Case No. 5438 was
archieved for failure of the bondsman to deliver the body of
the accused in court despite notice; and that he has nothing to
do with the payment of the cash bond as this is the duty of the
clerk of court.
5. Infidelity in the custody of prisoners
Complainants contend that respondent judge usually got
detention prisoners to work in his house, one of whom was
Alex Alano, who is accused in Criminal Case No. 5647 for
violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act; that while Alano was in
the custody of respondent judge, the former escaped and was
never recaptured; that in order to conceal this fact, the case
was archived pursuant to an order issued by respondent judge
dated April 6, 1992.
Respondent judge denied the accusation and claims that he
never employed detention prisoners and that he has adequate
household help; and that he had to order the case archived
because it had been pending for more than six (6) months and
the accused therein remained at large.
6. Unlawful collection of docket fees

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 45
Finally, respondents are charged with collecting docket fees
from the Rural Bank of Tinambac, Camarines Sur, Inc. although
such entity is exempt by law from the payment of said fees,
and that while the corresponding receipt was issued,
respondent Baroy failed to remit the amount to the Supreme
Court and, instead, she deposited the same in her personal
account.
Respondents Baroy contends that it was Judge-Designate
Felimon Montenegro (because respondent judge was on sick
leave) who instructed her to demand payment of docket fees
from said rural bank; that the bank issued a check for P800.00;
that she was not allowed by the Philippine National Bank to
encash the check and, instead, was instructed to deposit the
same in any bank account for clearing; that respondent
deposited the same in her account; and that after the check
was cleared, she remitted P400.00 to the Supreme Court and
the other P400.00 was paid to the Municipal Treasurer of
Tinambac.
On the basis of the foregoing contentions, First Vice-Executive
Judge Antonio N. Gerona prepared and submitted to us his
Report and Recommendations dated May 20, 1994, together
with the administrative matter. We have perspicaciously
reviewed the same and we are favorably impressed by the
thorough and exhaustive presentation and analysis of the facts
and evidence in said report. We commend the investigating
judge for his industry and perspicacity reflected by his findings
in said report which, being amply substantiated by the
evidence and supported by logical illations, we hereby approve
and hereunder reproduce at length the material portions
thereof.
xxx xxx xxx
The first charge against the respondents is illegal
solemnization of marriage. Judge Palaypayon is
charged with having solemnized without a
marriage license the marriage of Sammy Bocaya
and Gina Besmonte (Exh. A). Alano Abellano and
Nelly Edralin (Exh. B), Francisco Selpo and Julieta

Carrido (Exh. C), Eddie Terrobias and Maria Emma


Gaor (Exh. D), Renato Gamay and Maricris Belga
(Exh. F) and Arsenio Sabater and Margarita
Nacario (Exh. G).
In all these aforementioned marriages, the blank
space in the marriage contracts to show the
number of the marriage was solemnized as
required by Article 22 of the Family Code were not
filled up. While the contracting parties and their
witnesses signed their marriage contracts, Judge
Palaypayon did not affix his signature in the
marriage contracts, except that of Abellano and
Edralin when Judge Palaypayon signed their
marriage certificate as he claims that he
solemnized this marriage under Article 34 of the
Family Code of the Philippines. In said marriages
the contracting parties were not furnished a copy
of their marriage contract and the Local Civil
Registrar was not sent either a copy of the
marriage certificate as required by Article 23 of
the Family Code.
The marriage of Bocaya and Besmonte is shown
to have been solemnized by Judge Palaypayon
without a marriage license. The testimonies of
Bocay himself and Pompeo Ariola, one of the
witnesses of the marriage of Bocaya and
Besmonte, and the photographs taken when
Judge Palaypayon solemnized their marriage
(Exhs. K-3 to K-9) sufficiently show that Judge
Palaypayon really solemnized their marriage.
Bocaya declared that they were advised by Judge
Palaypayon to return after ten (10) days after
their marriage was solemnized and bring with
them their marriage license. In the meantime,
they already started living together as husband
and wife believing that the formal requisites of
marriage were complied with.

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Judge Palaypayon denied that he solemnized the
marriage of Bocaya and Besmonte because the
parties allegedly did not have a marriage license.
He declared that in fact he did not sign the
marriage certificate, there was no date stated on
it and both the parties and the Local Civil
Registrar did not have a copy of the marriage
certificate.

marriage certificate in front of Judge Palaypayon


and on his table (Exhs. K-3, K-3-a, K-3-b, K-3-c, K-4,
K-4-a, K-4-b, K-4-c,
K-4-d, K-5, K-5-a, K-5-b, K-6, K-7, K-8, K-8-a and K9), cannot possibly be just to show a simulated
solemnization of marriage. One or two pictures
may convince a person of the explanation of
Judge Palaypayon, but not all those pictures.

With respect to the photographs which show that


he solemnized the marriage of Bocaya and
Besmonte, Judge Palaypayon explains that they
merely show as if he was solemnizing the
marriage. It was actually a simulated
solemnization of marriage and not a real one. This
happened because of the pleading of the mother
of one of the contracting parties that he consent
to be photographed to show that as if he was
solemnizing the marriage as he was told that the
food for the wedding reception was already
prepared, visitors were already invited and the
place of the parties where the reception would be
held was more than twenty (20) kilometers away
from the poblacion of Tinambac.

Besides, as a judge it is very difficult to believe


that Judge Palaypayon would allows himself to be
photographed as if he was solemnizing a
marriage on a mere pleading of a person whom
he did not even know for the alleged reasons
given. It would be highly improper and
unbecoming of him to allow himself to be used as
an instrument of deceit by making it appear that
Bocaya and Besmonte were married by him when
in truth and in fact he did not solemnize their
marriage.

The denial made by Judge Palaypayon is difficult


to believe. The fact alone that he did not sign the
marriage certificate or contract, the same did not
bear a date and the parties and the Local Civil
Registrar were not furnished a copy of the
marriage certificate, do not by themselves show
that he did not solemnize the marriage. His
uncorroborated testimony cannot prevail over the
testimony of Bocaya and Ariola who also
declared, among others, that Bocaya and his
bride were advised by Judge Palaypayon to return
after ten (10) days with their marriage license and
whose credibility had not been impeached.
The pictures taken also from the start of the
wedding ceremony up to the signing of the

With respect to the marriage of Abellano and


Edralin (Exh. B), Judge Palaypayon admitted that
he solemnized their marriage, but he claims that
it was under Article 34 of the Family Code, so a
marriage license was not required. The
contracting parties here executed a joint affidavit
that they have been living together as husband
and wife for almost six (6) years already (Exh. 12;
Exh. AA).
In their marriage contract which did not bear any
date either when it was solemnized, it was stated
that Abellano was only eighteen (18) years, two
(2) months and seven (7) days old. If he and
Edralin had been living together as husband and
wife for almost six (6) years already before they
got married as they stated in their joint affidavit,
Abellano must ha(ve) been less than thirteen (13)
years old when he started living with Edralin as
his wife and this is hard to believe. Judge

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 47
Palaypayon should ha(ve) been aware of this
when he solemnized their marriage as it was his
duty to ascertain the qualification of the
contracting parties who might ha(ve) executed a
false joint affidavit in order to have an instant
marriage by avoiding the marriage license
requirement.
On May 23, 1992, however, after this case was
already filed, Judge Palaypayon married again
Abellano and Edralin, this time with a marriage
license (Exh. BB). The explanation given by Judge
Palaypayon why he solemnized the marriage of
the same couple for the second time is that he did
not consider the first marriage he solemnized
under Article 34 of the Family Code as (a)
marriage at all because complainant Ramon
Sambo did not follow his instruction that the date
should be placed in the marriage certificate to
show when he solemnized the marriage and that
the contracting parties were not furnished a copy
of their marriage certificate.
This act of Judge Palaypayon of solemnizing the
marriage of Abellano and Edralin for the second
time with a marriage license already only gave
rise to the suspicion that the first time he
solemnized the marriage it was only made to
appear that it was solemnized under exceptional
character as there was not marriage license and
Judge Palaypayon had already signed the
marriage certificate. If it was true that he
solemnized the first marriage under exceptional
character where a marriage license was not
required, why did he already require the parties to
have a marriage license when he solemnized their
marriage for the second time?
The explanation of Judge Palaypayon that the first
marriage of Abellano and Edralin was not a
marriage at all as the marriage certificate did not

state the date when the marriage was solemnized


and that the contracting parties were not
furnished a copy of their marriage certificate, is
not well taken as they are not any of those
grounds under Article(s) 35, 36, 37 and 38 of the
Family Code which declare a marriage void from
the beginning. Even if no one, however, received
a copy of the marriage certificate, the marriage is
still valid (Jones vs. H(o)rtiguela, 64 Phil. 179).
Judge Palaypayon cannot just absolve himself
from responsibility by blaming his personnel. They
are not the guardian(s) of his official function and
under Article 23 of the Family Code it is his duty
to furnish the contracting parties (a) copy of their
marriage contract.
With respect to the marriage of Francisco Selpo
and Julieta Carrido (Exh. C), and Arsenio Sabater
and Margarita Nacario (Exh. G), Selpo and Carrido
and Sabater and Nacarcio executed joint affidavits
that Judge Palaypayon did not solemnize their
marriage (Exh. 13-A and Exh. 1). Both Carrido and
Nacario testified for the respondents that actually
Judge Palaypayon did not solemnize their
marriage as they did not have a marriage license.
On cross-examination, however, both admitted
that they did not know who prepared their
affidavits. They were just told, Carrido by a
certain Charito Palaypayon, and Nacario by a
certain Kagawad Encinas, to just go to the
Municipal building and sign their joint affidavits
there which were already prepared before the
Municipal Mayor of Tinambac, Camarines Sur.
With respect to the marriage of Renato Gamay
and Maricris Belga (Exh. f), their marriage
contract was signed by them and by their two (2)
witnesses, Atty. Elmer Brioso and respondent
Baroy (Exhs. F-1 and F-2). Like the other
aforementioned marriages, the solemnization fee

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 48
was also paid as shown by a receipt dated June 7,
1992 and signed by respondent Baroy (Exh. F-4).
Judge Palaypayon also denied having solemnized
the marriage of Gamay and Belga allegedly
because there was no marriage license. On her
part, respondent Baroy at first denied that the
marriage was solemnized. When she was asked,
however, why did she sign the marriage contract
as a witness she answered that she thought the
marriage was already solemnized (TSN, p. 14; 1028-93).
Respondent Baroy was, and is, the clerk of court
of Judge Palaypayon. She signed the marriage
contract of Gamay and Belga as one of the two
principal sponsors. Yet, she wanted to give the
impression that she did not even know that the
marriage was solemnized by Judge Palaypayon.
This is found very difficult to believe.
Judge Palaypayon made the same denial of
having solemnized also the marriage of Terrobias
and Gaor (Exh. D). The contracting parties and
their witnesses also signed the marriage contract
and paid the solemnization fee, but Judge
Palaypayon allegedly did not solemnize their
marriage due to lack of marriage license. Judge
Palaypayon submitted the affidavit of William
Medina, Vice-Mayor of Tinambac, to corroborate
his testimony (Exh. 14). Medina, however, did not
testify in this case and so his affidavit has no
probative value.
Judge Palaypayon testified that his procedure and
practice have been that before the contracting
parties and their witnesses enter his chamber in
order to get married, he already required
complainant Ramon Sambo to whom he assigned
the task of preparing the marriage contract, to
already let the parties and their witnesses sign

their marriage contracts, as what happened to


Gamay and Belga, and Terrobias and Gaor, among
others. His purpose was to save his precious time
as he has been solemnizing marriages at the rate
of three (3) to four (4) times everyday (TSN, p. 12;
2-1-94).
This alleged practice and procedure, if true, is
highly improper and irregular, if not illegal,
because the contracting parties are supposed to
be first asked by the solemnizing officer and
declare that they take each other as husband and
wife before the solemnizing officer in the
presence of at least two (2) witnesses before they
are supposed to sign their marriage contracts
(Art. 6, Family Code).
The uncorroborated testimony, however, of Judge
Palaypayon as to his alleged practice and
procedure before solemnizing a marriage, is not
true as shown by the picture taken during the
wedding of Bocaya and Besmonte (Exhs. K-3 to K9) and by the testimony of respondent Baroy
herself who declared that the practice of Judge
Palaypayon ha(s) been to let the contracting
parties and their witnesses sign the marriage
contract only after Judge Palaypayon has
solemnized their marriage (TSN, p. 53;
10-28-93).
Judge Palaypayon did not present any evidence to
show also that he was really solemnizing three (3)
to four (4) marriages everyday. On the contrary
his monthly report of cases for July, 1992 shows
that his court had only twenty-seven (27) pending
cases and he solemnized only seven (7)
marriages for the whole month (Exh. E). His
monthly report of cases for September, 1992
shows also that he solemnized only four (4)
marriages during the whole month (Exh. 7).

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 49
In this first charge of having illegally solemnized
marriages, respondent Judge Palaypayon has
presented and marked in evidence several
marriage contracts of other persons, affidavits of
persons and certification issued by the Local Civil
Registrar (Exhs. 12-B to 12-H). These persons who
executed affidavits, however, did not testify in
this case. Besides, the marriage contracts and
certification mentioned are immaterial as Judge
Palaypayon is not charged of having solemnized
these marriages illegally also. He is not charged
that the marriages he solemnized were all illegal.
The second charge against herein respondents,
that of having falsified the monthly report of
cases submitted to the Supreme Court and not
stating in the monthly report the actual number of
documents notarized and issuing the
corresponding receipts of the notarial fees, have
been sufficiently proven by the complainants
insofar as the monthly report of cases for July and
September, 1992 are concerned.
The monthly report of cases of the MTC of
Tinambac, Camarines Sur for July, 1992 both
signed by the respondents, show that for said
month there were six (6) documents notarized by
Judge Palaypayon in his capacity as Ex-Officio
Notary Public (Exhs. H to H-1-b). The notarial
register of the MTC of Tinambac, Camarines Sur,
however, shows that there were actually one
hundred thirteen (113) documents notarized by
Judge Palaypayon for the said month (Exhs. Q to
Q-45).
Judge Palaypayon claims that there was no
falsification of the monthly report of cases for July,
1992 because there were only six (6) notarized
documents that were paid (for) as shown by
official receipts. He did not, however, present
evidence of the alleged official receipts showing

that the notarial fee for the six (6) documetns


were paid. Besides, the monthly report of cases
with respect to the number of documents
notarized should not be based on how many
notarized documents were paid of the notarial
fees, but the number of documents placed or
recorded in the notarial register.
Judge Palaypayon admitted that he was not
personally verifying and checking anymore the
correctness of the monthly reports because he
relies on his co-respondent who is the Clerk of
Court and whom he has assumed to have checked
and verified the records. He merely signs the
monthly report when it is already signed by
respondent Baroy.
The explanation of Judge Palaypayon is not well
taken because he is required to have close
supervision in the preparation of the monthly
report of cases of which he certifies as to their
correctness. As a judge he is personally
responsible for the proper discharge of his
functions (The Phil. Trial Lawyer's Asso. Inc. vs.
Agana, Sr., 102 SCRA 517). In Nidera vs. Lazaro,
174 SCRA 581, it was held that "A judge cannot
take refuge behind the inefficiency or
mismanagement of his court personnel."
On the part of respondent Baroy, she puts the
blame of the falsification of the monthly report of
cases on complainant Sambo whom she allegedly
assigned to prepare not only the monthly report
of cases, but the preparation and custody of
marriage contracts, notarized documents and the
notarial register. By her own admission she has
assigned to complainant Sambo duties she was
supposed to perform, yet according to her she
never bother(ed) to check the notarial register of
the court to find out the number of documents
notarized in a month (TSN, p. 30; 11-23-93).

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 50
Assuming that respondent Baroy assigned the
preparation of the monthly report of cases to
Sambo, which was denied by the latter as he
claims that he only typed the monthly report
based on the data given to him by her, still it is
her duty to verify and check whether the report is
correct.
The explanation of respondent Baroy that Sambo
was the one in custody of marriage contracts,
notarized documents and notarial register, among
other things, is not acceptable not only because
as clerk of court she was supposed to be in
custody, control and supervision of all court
records including documents and other properties
of the court (p. 32, Manual for Clerks of Court),
but she herself admitted that from January, 1992
she was already in full control of all the records of
the court including receipts (TSN, p. 11; 11-2393).
The evidence adduced in this cases in connection
with the charge of falsification, however, also
shows that respondent Baroy did not account for
what happened to the notarial fees received for
those documents notarized during the month of
July and September, 1992. The evidence adduced
in this case also sufficiently show that she
received cash bond deposits and she did not
deposit them to a bank or to the Municipal
Treasurer; and that she only issued temporary
receipts for said cash bond deposits.
For July, 1992 there were only six (6) documents
reported to have been notarized by Judge
Palaypayon although the documents notarized for
said month were actually one hundred thirteen
(113) as recorded in the notarial register. For
September, 1992, there were only five (5)
documents reported as notarized for that month,
though the notarial register show(s) that there

were fifty-six (56) documents actually notarized.


The fee for each document notarized as
appearing in the notarial register was P18.50.
Respondent Baroy and Sambo declared that what
was actually being charged was P20.00.
Respondent Baroy declared that P18.50 went to
the Supreme Court and P1.50 was being turned
over to the Municipal Treasurer.
Baroy, however, did not present any evidence to
show that she really sent to the Supreme Court
the notarial fees of P18.50 for each document
notarized and to the Municipal Treasurer the
additional notarial fee of P1.50. This should be
fully accounted for considering that Baroy herself
declared that some notarial fees were allowed by
her at her own discretion to be paid later.
Similarly, the solemnization fees have not been
accounted for by Baroy considering that she
admitted that even (i)n those instances where the
marriages were not solemnized due to lack of
marriage license the solemnization fees were not
returned anymore, unless the contracting parties
made a demand for their return. Judge
Palaypayon declared that he did not know of any
instance when solemnization fee was returned
when the marriage was not solemnized due to
lack of marriage license.
Respondent Baroy also claims that Ramon Sambo
did not turn over to her some of the notarial fees.
This is difficult to believe. It was not only because
Sambo vehemently denied it, but the minutes of
the conference of the personnel of the MTC of
Tinambac dated January 20, 1992 shows that on
that date Baroy informed the personnel of the
court that she was taking over the functions she
assigned to Sambo, particularly the collection of
legal fees (Exh. 7). The notarial fees she claims
that Sambo did not turn over to her were for
those documents notarized (i)n July and

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 51
September, 1992 already. Besides there never
was any demand she made for Sambo to turn
over some notarial fees supposedly in his
possession. Neither was there any memorandum
she issued on this matter, in spite of the fact that
she has been holding meetings and issuing
memoranda to the personnel of the court (Exhs.
V, W, FF, FF-1, FF-2, FF-3; Exhs. 4-A
(supplement(s), 5-8, 6-S, 7-S and 8-S).
It is admitted by respondent Baroy that on
October 29, 1991 a cash bond deposit of a certain
Dacara in the amount of One Thousand
(P1,000.00) Pesos was turned over to her after
she assumed office and for this cash bond she
issued only a temporary receipt (Exh. Y). She did
not deposit this cash bond in any bank or to the
Municipal Treasurer. She just kept it in her own
cash box on the alleged ground that the parties in
that case where the cash bond was deposited
informed her that they would settle the case
amicably.
Respondent Baroy declared that she finally
deposited the aforementioned cash bond of One
Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos with the Land Bank
of the Philippines (LBP) in February, 1993, after
this administrative case was already filed (TSN,
pp. 27-28; 12-22-93). The Pass Book, however,
shows that actually Baroy opened an account with
the LBP, Naga Branch, only on March 26, 1993
when she deposited an amount of Two Thousand
(P2,000.00) Pesos (Exhs. 8 to 8-1-a). She claims
that One Thousand (P1,000.000) Pesos of the
initial deposit was the cash bond of Dacara. If it
were true, it was only after keeping to herself the
cash bond of One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos for
around one year and five months when she finally
deposited it because of the filing of this case.

On April 29, 1993, or only one month and two


days after she finally deposited the One Thousand
(P1,000.00) Pesos cash bond of Dacara, she
withdrew it from the bank without any authority
or order from the court. It was only on July 23,
1993, or after almost three (3) months after she
withdrew it, when she redeposited said cash bond
(TSN, p. 6; 1-4-94).
The evidence presented in this case also show
that on February 28, 1993 respondent Baroy
received also a cash bond of Three Thousand
(P3,000.00) Pesos from a certain Alfredo Seprones
in Crim. Case No. 5180. For this cash bond
deposit, respondent Baroy issued only an
annumbered temporary receipt (Exh. X and X-1).
Again Baroy just kept this Three Thousand
(P3,000.00) Pesos cash bond to herself. She did
not deposit it either (in) a bank or (with) the
Municipal Treasurer. Her explanation was that the
parties in Crim. Case No. 5180 informed her that
they would settle the case amicably. It was on
April 26, 1993, or almost two months later when
Judge Palaypayon issued an order for the release
of said cash bond (Exh. 7).
Respondent Baroy also admitted that since she
assumed office on October 21, 1991 she used to
issue temporary receipt only for cash bond
deposits and other payments and collections she
received. She further admitted that some of these
temporary receipts she issued she failed to place
the number of the receipts such as that receipt
marked Exhibit X (TSN, p. 35; 11-23-93). Baroy
claims that she did not know that she had to use
the official receipts of the Supreme Court. It was
only from February, 1993, after this case was
already filed, when she only started issuing
official receipts.

P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s A r t i c l e 1 - 1 0 ( F a m i l y C o d e ) P a g e | 52
The next charge against the respondents is that in
order to be appointed Clerk of Court, Baroy gave
Judge Palaypayon an air conditioner as a gift. The
evidence adduced with respect to this charge,
show that on August 24, 1991 Baroy bought an air
conditioner for the sum of Seventeen Thousand
Six Hundred (P17,600.00) Pesos (Exhs. I and I-1).
The same was paid partly in cash and in check
(Exhs. I-2 and I-3). When the air conditioner was
brought to court in order to be installed in the
chamber of Judge Palaypayon, it was still placed
in the same box when it was bought and was not
used yet.
The respondents claim that Baroy sold it to Judge
Palaypayon for Twenty Thousand (P20,00.00)
Pesos on installment basis with a down payment
of Five Thousand (P5,000.00) Pesos and as proof
thereof the respondents presented a typewritten
receipt dated May 29, 1993 (Exh. 22). The receipt
was signed by both respondents and by the
Municipal Mayor of Tinambac, Camarines Sur and
another person as witness.
The alleged sale between respondents is not
beyond suspicion. It was bought by Baroy at a
time when she was applying for the vacant
position of Clerk of Court (to) which she was
eventually appointed in October, 1991. From the
time she bought the air conditioner on August 24,
1991 until it was installed in the office of Judge
Palaypayon it was not used yet. The sale to Judge
Palaypayon was only evidenced by a mere
typewritten receipt dated May 29, 1992 when this
case was already filed. The receipt could have
been easily prepared. The Municipal Mayor of
Tinambac who signed in the receipt as a witness
did not testify in this case. The sale is between
the Clerk of Court and the Judge of the same
court. All these circumstances give rise to
suspicion of at least impropriety. Judges should

avoid such action as would subject (them) to


suspicion and (their) conduct should be free from
the appearance of impropriety (Jaagueta vs.
Boncasos, 60 SCRA 27).
With respect to the charge that Judge Palaypayon
received a cash bond deposit of One Thousand
(P1,000.00) Pesos from Januaria Dacara without
issuing a receipt, Dacara executed an affidavit
regarding this charge that Judge Palaypayon did
not give her a receipt for the P1,000.00 cash bond
she deposited (Exh. N). Her affidavit, however,
has no probative value as she did not show that
this cash bond of P1,000.00 found its way into the
hands of respondent Baroy who issued only a
temporary receipt for it and this has been
discussed earlier.
Another charge against Judge Palaypayon is the
getting of detention prisoners to work in his house
and one of them escaped while in his custody and
was never found again. To hide this fact, the case
against said accused was ordered archived by
Judge Palaypayon. The evidence adduced with
respect to this particular charge, show that in
Crim. Case No. 5647 entitled People vs. Stephen
Kalaw, Alex Alano and Allan Adupe, accused Alex
Alano and Allan Adupe were arrested on April 12,
1991 and placed in the municipal jail of Tinambac,
Camarines Sur (Exhs. 0, 0-1, 0-2 and 0-3; Exh.
25). The evidence presented that Alex Alano was
taken by Judge Palaypayon from the municipal jail
where said accused was confined and that he
escaped while in custody of Judge Palaypayon is
solely testimonial, particularly that of David Ortiz,
a former utility worker of the MTC of Tinambac.
Herein investigator finds said evidence not
sufficient. The complainants should have
presented records from the police of Tinambac to
show that Judge Palaypayon took out from the

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municipal jail Alex Alano where he was under
detention and said accused escaped while in the
custody of Judge Palaypayon.
The order, however, of Judge Palaypayon dated
April 6, 1992 in Crim. Case No. 5047 archiving
said case appears to be without basis. The order
states: "this case was filed on April 12, 1991 and
the records show that the warrant of arrest (was)
issued against the accused, but up to this
moment there is no return of service for the
warrant of arrest issued against said accused"
(Exh. 0-4). The records of said case, however,
show that in fact there was a return of the service
of the warrant of arrest dated April 12, 1991
showing that Alano and Adupe were arrested
(Exh. 0-3).
Judge Palaypayon explained that his order dated
April 6, 1992 archiving Crim. Case No. 5047
referred only to one of the accused who remained
at large. The explanation cannot be accepted
because the two other accused, Alano and Adupe,
were arrested. Judge Palaypayon should have
issued an order for the arrest of Adupe who
allegedly jumped bail, but Alano was supposed to
be confined in the municipal jail if his claim is true
that he did not take custody of Alano.
The explanation also of Judge Palaypayon why he
ordered the case archived was because he heard
from the police that Alano escaped. This
explanation is not acceptable either. He should
ha(ve) set the case and if the police failed to
bring to court Alano, the former should have been
required to explain in writing why Alano was not
brought to court. If the explanation was that
Alano escaped from jail, he should have issued an
order for his arrest. It is only later on when he
could not be arrested when the case should have
been ordered archived. The order archiving this

case for the reason that he only heard that Alano


escaped is another circumstance which gave rise
to a suspicion that Alano might have really
escaped while in his custody only that the
complainants could not present records or other
documentary evidence to prove the same.
The last charge against the respondents is that
they collected filing fees on collection cases filed
by the Rural Bank of Tinambac, Camarines Sur
which was supposed to be exempted in paying
filing fees under existing laws and that the filing
fees received was deposited by respondent Baroy
in her personal account in the bank. The evidence
presented show that on February 4, 1992 the
Rural Bank of Tinambac filed ten (10) civil cases
for collection against farmers and it paid the total
amount of Four Hundred (P400.00) Pesos
representing filing fees. The complainants cited
Section 14 of Republic Act 720, as amended,
which exempts Rural Banks (from) the payment of
filing fees on collection of sums of money cases
filed against farmers on loans they obtained.
Judge Palaypayon, however, had nothing to do
with the payment of the filing fees of the Rural
Bank of Tinambac as it was respondent Baroy who
received them and besides, on February 4, 1992,
he was on sick leave. On her part Baroy claims
that the bank paid voluntarily the filing fees. The
records, however, shows that respondent Baroy
sent a letter to the manager of the bank dated
January 28, 1992 to the effect that if the bank
would not pay she would submit all Rural Bank
cases for dismissal (Annex 6, comment by
respondent Baroy).
Respondent Baroy should have checked whether
the Rural Bank of Tinambac was really exempt
from the payment of filing fees pursuant to
Republic Act 720, as amended, instead of

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threatening the bank to have its cases be
submitted to the court in order to have them
dismissed. Here the payment of the filing fees
was made on February 4, 1992, but the Four
Hundred (P400.00) Pesos was only turned over to
the Municipal Treasurer on March 12, 1992. Here,
there is an undue delay again in complying with
her obligation as accountable officer.
In view of the foregoing findings that the evidence
presented by the complainants sufficiently show
that respondent Judge Lucio P. Palaypayon, Jr. had
solemnized marriages, particularly that of Sammy
Bocaya and Gina Besmonte, without a marriage
license, and that it having been shown that he did
not comply with his duty in closely supervising his
clerk of court in the preparation of the monthly
report of cases being submitted to the Supreme
Court, particularly for the months of July and
September, 1992 where it has been proven that
the reports for said two (2) months were falsified
with respect to the number of documents
notarized, it is respectfully recommended that he
be imposed a fine of TEN THOUSAND
(P10,000.00) PESOS with a warning that the same
or similar offenses will be more severely dealt
with.
The fact that Judge Palaypayon did not sign the
marriage contracts or certificates of those
marriages he solemnized without a marriage
license, there were no dates placed in the
marriage contracts to show when they were
solemnized, the contracting parties were not
furnished their marriage contracts and the Local
Civil Registrar was not being sent any copy of the
marriage contract, will not absolve him from
liability. By solemnizing alone a marriage without
a marriage license he as the solemnizing officer is
the one responsible for the irregularity in not
complying (with) the formal requ(i)sites of

marriage and under Article 4(3) of the Family


Code of the Philippines, he shall be civilly,
criminally and administratively liable.
Judge Palaypayon is likewise liable for his
negligence or failure to comply with his duty of
closely supervising his clerk of court in the
performance of the latter's duties and functions,
particularly the preparation of the monthly report
of cases (Bendesula vs. Laya, 58 SCRA 16). His
explanation that he only signed the monthly
report of cases only when his clerk of court
already signed the same, cannot be accepted. It
is his duty to closely supervise her, to check and
verify the records if the monthly reports prepared
by his clerk of court do not contain false
statements. It was held that "A judge cannot take
refuge behind the inefficiency or incompetence of
court personnel (Nidua vs. Lazaro, 174 SCRA 158).
In view also of the foregoing finding that
respondent Nelia Esmeralda-Baroy, the clerk of
court of the Municipal Trial Court of Tinambac,
Camarines Sur, has been found to have falsified
the monthly report of cases for the months of July
and September, 1992 with respect to the number
of documents notarized, for having failed to
account (for) the notarial fees she received for
said two (2) months period; for having failed to
account (for) the solemnization fees of those
marriages allegedly not solemnized, but the
solemnization fees were not returned; for
unauthorized issuance of temporary receipts,
some of which were issued unnumbered; for
receiving the cash bond of Dacara on October 29,
1991 in the amount of One Thousand (P1,000.00)
Pesos for which she issued only a temporary
receipt (Exh. Y) and for depositing it with the Land
Bank of the Philippines only on March 26, 1993, or
after one year and five months in her possession
and after this case was already filed; for

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withdrawing said cash bond of One Thousand
(P1,000.00) Pesos on April 29, 1993 without any
court order or authority and redepositing it only
on July 23, 1993; for receiving a cash bond of
Three Thousand (P3,000.00) Pesos from Alfredo
Seprones in Crim. Case No. 5180, MTC, Tinambac,
Camarines Sur, for which she issued only an
unnumbered temporary receipt (Exhs. X and X-1)
and for not depositing it with a bank or with the
Municipal Treasurer until it was ordered released;
and for requiring the Rural Bank of Tinambac,
Camarines Sur to pay filing fees on February 4,
1992 for collection cases filed against farmers in
the amount of Four Hundred (P400.00) Pesos, but
turning over said amount to the Municipal
Treasurer only on March 12, 1992, it is
respectfully recommended that said respondent
clerk of court Nelia Esmeralda-Baroy be dismissed
from the service.
It is provided that "Withdrawal of court deposits
shall be by the clerk of court who shall issue
official receipt to the provincial, city or municipal
treasurer for the amount withdrawn. Court
deposits cannot be withdrawn except by order of
the court, . . . ." (Revised Manual of Instructions
for Treasurers, Sec. 183, 184 and 626; p. 127,
Manual for Clerks of Court). A circular also
provides that the Clerks of Court shall
immediately issue an official receipt upon receipt
of deposits from party litigants and thereafter
deposit intact the collection with the municipal,
city or provincial treasurer and their deposits, can
only be withdrawn upon proper receipt and order
of the Court (DOJ Circular No. 52, 26 April 1968; p.
136, Manual for Clerks of Court). Supreme Court
Memorandum Circular No. 5, 25 November 1982,
also provides that "all collections of funds of
fiduciary character including rental deposits, shall
be deposited immediately by the clerk of court
concerned upon receipt thereof with City,

Municipal or Provincial Treasurer where his court


is located" and that "no withdrawal of any of such
deposits shall be made except upon lawful order
of the court exercising jurisdiction over the
subject matter.
Respondent Baroy had either failed to comply
with the foregoing circulars, or deliberately
disregarded, or even intentionally violated them.
By her conduct, she demonstrated her callous
unconcern for the obligations and responsibility of
her duties and functions as a clerk of court and
accountable officer. The gross neglect of her
duties shown by her constitute(s) a serious
misconduct which warrant(s) her removal from
office. In the case of Belen P. Ferriola vs. Norma
Hiam, Clerk of Court, MTCC, Branch I, Batangas
City; A.M. No. P-90-414; August 9, 1993, it was
held that "The clerk of court is not authorized to
keep funds in his/her custody; monies received by
him/her shall be deposited immediately upon
receipt thereof with the City, Municipal or
Provincial Treasurer. Supreme Court Circular Nos.
5 dated November 25, 1982 and 5-A dated
December 3, 1982. Respondent Hiam's failure to
remit the cash bail bonds and fine she collected
constitutes serious misconduct and her
misappropriation of said funds constitutes
dishonesty. "Respondent Norma Hiam was found
guilty of dishonesty and serious misconduct
prejudicial to the best interest of the service and
(the Court) ordered her immediate dismissal
(from) the service.
xxx xxx xxx
We here emphasize once again our adjuration that the conduct
and behavior of everyone connected with an office charged
with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the
lowliest clerk, should be circumscribed with the heavy burden
of responsibility. His conduct, at all times, must not only be

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characterized by propriety and decorum but, above all else,
must be beyond suspicion. Every employee should be an
example of integrity, uprightness and honesty. 5 Integrity in a
judicial office is more than a virtue, it is a necessity. 6 It
applies, without qualification as to rank or position, from the
judge to the least of its personnel, they being standard-bearers
of the exacting norms of ethics and morality imposed upon a
Court of justice.
On the charge regarding illegal marriages the Family Code
pertinently provides that the formal requisites of marriage
are, inter alia, a valid marriage license except in the cases
provided for therein. 7 Complementarily, it declares that the
absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall
generally render the marriage void ab initio and that, while an
irregularity in the formal requisites shall not affect the validity
of the marriage, the party or parties responsible for the
irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and administratively
liable. 8
The civil aspect is addressed to the contracting parties and
those affected by the illegal marriages, and what we are
providing for herein pertains to the administrative liability of
respondents, all without prejudice to their criminal
responsibility. The Revised Penal Code provides that "(p)riests
or ministers of any religious denomination or sect, or civil
authorities who shall perform or authorize any illegal marriage
ceremony shall be punished in accordance with the provisions
of the Marriage Law." 9 This is of course, within the province of
the prosecutorial agencies of the Government.
The recommendation with respect to the administrative
sanction to be imposed on respondent judge should, therefore,
be modified. For one, with respect to the charge of illegal
solemnization of marriages, it does appear that he had not
taken to heart, but actually trifled with, the law's concern for
the institution of marriage and the legal effects flowing from
civil status. This, and his undeniable participation in the other
offenses charged as hereinbefore narrated in detail,
approximate such serious degree of misconduct and of gross

negligence in the performance of judicial duties as to ineludibly


require a higher penalty.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby imposes a FINE of P20,000.00
on respondent Judge Lucio P. Palaypayon. Jr., with a stern
warning that any repetition of the same or similar offenses in
the future will definitely be severely dealt with. Respondent
Nelia Esmeralda-Baroy is hereby DISMISSED from the service,
with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and with prejudice to
employment in any branch, agency or instrumentality of the
Government, including government-owned or controlled
corporations.
Let copies of this decision be spread on their records and
furnished to the Office of the Ombudsman for appropriate
action.
SO ORDERED.
Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:10b)
FIRST DIVISION

[A.M. No. MTJ-02-1390. April 11, 2002]

MERCEDITA
MATA
ARAES, petitioner, vs. JUDGE
SALVADOR M. OCCIANO, respondent.
DECISION
PUNO, J.:
Petitioner Mercedita Mata Araes charges respondent
judge with Gross Ignorance of the Law via a sworn LetterComplaint dated 23 May 2001. Respondent is the Presiding
Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur.
Petitioner alleges that on 17 February 2000, respondent judge

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solemnized her marriage to her late groom Dominador B.
Orobia without the requisite marriage license and at Nabua,
Camarines Sur which is outside his territorial jurisdiction.
They lived together as husband and wife on the strength of
this marriage until her husband passed away. However, since
the marriage was a nullity, petitioners right to inherit the vast
properties left by Orobia was not recognized. She was likewise
deprived of receiving the pensions of Orobia, a retired
Commodore of the Philippine Navy.
Petitioner prays that sanctions be imposed against
respondent judge for his illegal acts and unethical
misrepresentations which allegedly caused her so much
hardships, embarrassment and sufferings.
On 28 May 2001, the case was referred by the Office of the
Chief Justice to then Acting Court Administrator Zenaida N.
Elepao for appropriate action. On 8 June 2001, the Office of
the Court Administrator required respondent judge to
comment.
In his Comment dated 5 July 2001, respondent judge
averred that he was requested by a certain Juan Arroyo on 15
February 2000 to solemnize the marriage of the parties on 17
February 2000. Having been assured that all the documents to
the marriage were complete, he agreed to solemnize the
marriage in his sala at the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan,
Camarines Sur. However, on 17 February 2000, Arroyo
informed him that Orobia had a difficulty walking and could not
stand the rigors of travelling to Balatan which is located almost
25 kilometers from his residence in Nabua. Arroyo then
requested if respondent judge could solemnize the marriage in
Nabua, to which request he acceded.
Respondent judge further avers that before he started the
ceremony, he carefully examined the documents submitted to
him by petitioner. When he discovered that the parties did not
possess the requisite marriage license, he refused to solemnize
the marriage and suggested its resetting to another date.
However, due to the earnest pleas of the parties, the influx of
visitors, and the delivery of provisions for the occasion, he
proceeded to solemnize the marriage out of human

compassion. He also feared that if he reset the wedding, it


might aggravate the physical condition of Orobia who just
suffered from a stroke. After the solemnization, he reiterated
the necessity for the marriage license and admonished the
parties that their failure to give it would render the marriage
void. Petitioner and Orobia assured respondent judge that
they would give the license to him in the afternoon of that
same day. When they failed to comply, respondent judge
followed it up with Arroyo but the latter only gave him the
same reassurance that the marriage license would be
delivered to his sala at the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan,
Camarines Sur.
Respondent judge vigorously denies that he told the
contracting parties that their marriage is valid despite the
absence of a marriage license. He attributes the hardships and
embarrassment suffered by the petitioner as due to her own
fault and negligence.
On 12 September 2001, petitioner filed her Affidavit of
Desistance dated 28 August 2001 with the Office of the Court
Administrator. She attested that respondent judge initially
refused to solemnize her marriage due to the want of a duly
issued marriage license and that it was because of her
prodding and reassurances that he eventually solemnized the
same. She confessed that she filed this administrative case out
of rage. However, after reading the Comment filed by
respondent judge, she realized her own shortcomings and is
now bothered by her conscience.
Reviewing the records of the case, it appears that
petitioner and Orobia filed their Application for Marriage
License on 5 January 2000. It was stamped in this Application
that the marriage license shall be issued on 17 January 2000.
However, neither petitioner nor Orobia claimed it.
It also appears that the Office of the Civil Registrar General
issued a Certification that it has no record of such marriage
that allegedly took place on 17 February 2000. Likewise, the
Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur
issued another Certification dated 7 May 2001 that it cannot
issue a true copy of the Marriage Contract of the parties since
it has no record of their marriage.

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On 8 May 2001, petitioner sought the assistance of
respondent judge so the latter could communicate with the
Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur for
the issuance of her marriage license. Respondent judge wrote
the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur. In a letter
dated 9 May 2001, a Clerk of said office, Grace T. Escobal,
informed respondent judge that their office cannot issue the
marriage license due to the failure of Orobia to submit the
Death Certificate of his previous spouse.

in Article 3, which while it may not affect the validity of


the marriage, may subject the officiating official to
administrative liability.[2] (Emphasis supplied.)

The Office of the Court Administrator, in its Report and


Recommendation dated 15 November 2000, found the
respondent judge guilty of solemnizing a marriage without a
duly issued marriage license and for doing so outside his
territorial jurisdiction. A fine of P5,000.00 was recommended
to be imposed on respondent judge.

The judiciary should be composed of persons who, if not


experts, are at least, proficient in the law they are sworn to
apply, more than the ordinary laymen. They should be skilled
and competent in understanding and applying the law. It is
imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles
like the ones involved in the instant case. x x x While
magistrates may at times make mistakes in judgment, for
which they are not penalized, the respondent judge exhibited
ignorance of elementary provisions of law, in an area which
has greatly prejudiced the status of married persons. [3]

We agree.
Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, or B.P.129,
the authority of the regional trial court judges and judges of
inferior courts to solemnize marriages is confined to their
territorial jurisdiction as defined by the Supreme Court.
The case at bar is not without precedent. In Navarro vs.
Domagtoy,[1] respondent judge held office and had jurisdiction
in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta. Monica-Burgos,
Surigao del Norte. However, he solemnized a wedding at his
residence in the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte which
did not fall within the jurisdictional area of the municipalities of
Sta. Monica and Burgos. We held that:
A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local
ordinance to marry the faithful is authorized to do so only
within the area or diocese or place allowed by his Bishop. An
appellate court Justice or a Justice of this Court has jurisdiction
over the entire Philippines to solemnize marriages, regardless
of the venue, as long as the requisites of the law are complied
with. However, judges who are appointed to specific
jurisdictions, may officiate in weddings only within said
areas and not beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a
marriage outside his courts jurisdiction, there is a
resultant irregularity in the formal requisite laid down

In said case, we suspended respondent judge for six (6)


months on the ground that his act of solemnizing a marriage
outside his jurisdiction constitutes gross ignorance of the
law. We further held that:

In the case at bar, the territorial jurisdiction of respondent


judge is limited to the municipality of Balatan, Camarines Sur.
His act of solemnizing the marriage of petitioner and Orobia in
Nabua, Camarines Sur therefore is contrary to law and subjects
him to administrative liability. His act may not amount to gross
ignorance of the law for he allegedly solemnized the marriage
out of human compassion but nonetheless, he cannot avoid
liability for violating the law on marriage.
Respondent judge should also be faulted for solemnizing a
marriage without the requisite marriage license. In People vs.
Lara,[4] we held that a marriage which preceded the issuance
of the marriage license is void, and that the subsequent
issuance of such license cannot render valid or even add an
iota of validity to the marriage. Except in cases provided by
law, it is the marriage license that gives the solemnizing officer
the authority to solemnize a marriage. Respondent judge did
not possess such authority when he solemnized the marriage
of petitioner. In this respect, respondent judge acted in gross
ignorance of the law.

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Respondent judge cannot be exculpated despite the
Affidavit of Desistance filed by petitioner. This Court has
consistently held in a catena of cases that the withdrawal of
the complaint does not necessarily have the legal effect of
exonerating respondent from disciplinary action. Otherwise,
the prompt and fair administration of justice, as well as the
discipline of court personnel, would be undermined.
[5]
Disciplinary actions of this nature do not involve purely
private or personal matters. They can not be made to depend
upon the will of every complainant who may, for one reason or
another, condone a detestable act. We cannot be bound by the
unilateral act of a complainant in a matter which involves the
Courts constitutional power to discipline judges. Otherwise,
that power may be put to naught, undermine the trust
character of a public office and impair the integrity and dignity
of this Court as a disciplining authority. [6]
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Salvador M. Occiano,
Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan,
Camarines Sur, is fined P5,000.00 pesos with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense in the
future will be dealt with more severely.
SO ORDERED.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues
them from all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17)