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Republic of the Philippines for basic needs.

Indeed, Fely left for abroad for financial reasons as


SUPREME COURT respondent Crasus had no job and what she was then earning as the
sole breadwinner in the Philippines was insufficient to support
SECOND DIVISION their family. Although she left all of her children with respondent
Crasus, she continued to provide financial support to them, as well
as, to respondent Crasus. Subsequently, Fely was able to bring her
G.R. No. 152577 September 21, 2005
children to the U.S.A., except for one, Calvert, who had to stay
behind for medical reasons. While she did file for divorce from
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioners, respondent Crasus, she denied having herself sent a letter to
vs. respondent Crasus requesting him to sign the enclosed divorce
CRASUS L. IYOY, Respondent. papers. After securing a divorce from respondent Crasus, Fely
married her American husband and acquired American citizenship.
DECISION She argued that her marriage to her American husband was legal
because now being an American citizen, her status shall be
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: governed by the law of her present nationality. Fely also pointed
out that respondent Crasus himself was presently living with
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the another woman who bore him a child. She also accused respondent
Rules of Court, petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented Crasus of misusing the amount of 90,000.00 which she advanced
by the Office of the Solicitor General, prays for the reversal of the to him to finance the brain operation of their son, Calvert. On the
Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62539, dated basis of the foregoing, Fely also prayed that the RTC declare her
30 July 2001,1 affirming the Judgment of the Regional Trial Court marriage to respondent Crasus null and void; and that respondent
(RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 22, in Civil Case No. CEB-20077, Crasus be ordered to pay to Fely the 90,000.00 she advanced to
dated 30 October 1998,2 declaring the marriage between him, with interest, plus, moral and exemplary damages, attorneys
respondent Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada Rosal-Iyoy null and void fees, and litigation expenses.
on the basis of Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines.
After respondent Crasus and Fely had filed their respective Pre-
The proceedings before the RTC commenced with the filing of a Trial Briefs,5 the RTC afforded both parties the opportunity to
Complaint3 for declaration of nullity of marriage by respondent present their evidence. Petitioner Republic participated in the trial
Crasus on 25 March 1997. According to the said Complaint, through the Provincial Prosecutor of Cebu.6
respondent Crasus married Fely on 16 December 1961 at Bradford
Memorial Church, Jones Avenue, Cebu City. As a result of their Respondent Crasus submitted the following pieces of evidence in
union, they had five children Crasus, Jr., Daphne, Debbie, support of his Complaint: (1) his own testimony on 08 September
Calvert, and Carlos who are now all of legal ages. After the 1997, in which he essentially reiterated the allegations in his
celebration of their marriage, respondent Crasus discovered that Complaint;7 (2) the Certification, dated 13 April 1989, by the
Fely was "hot-tempered, a nagger and extravagant." In 1984, Fely Health Department of Cebu City, on the recording of the Marriage
left the Philippines for the United States of America (U.S.A.), Contract between respondent Crasus and Fely in the Register of
leaving all of their five children, the youngest then being only six Deeds, such marriage celebration taking place on 16 December
years old, to the care of respondent Crasus. Barely a year after Fely 1961;8 and (3) the invitation to the wedding of Crasus, Jr., their
left for the U.S.A., respondent Crasus received a letter from her eldest son, wherein Fely openly used her American husbands
requesting that he sign the enclosed divorce papers; he disregarded surname, Micklus.9
the said request. Sometime in 1985, respondent Crasus learned,
through the letters sent by Fely to their children, that Fely got Felys counsel filed a Notice,10 and, later on, a Motion,11 to take
married to an American, with whom she eventually had a child. In the deposition of witnesses, namely, Fely and her children, Crasus,
1987, Fely came back to the Philippines with her American family, Jr. and Daphne, upon written interrogatories, before the consular
staying at Cebu Plaza Hotel in Cebu City. Respondent Crasus did officers of the Philippines in New York and California, U.S.A,
not bother to talk to Fely because he was afraid he might not be where the said witnesses reside. Despite the Orders12 and
able to bear the sorrow and the pain she had caused him. Fely Commissions13 issued by the RTC to the Philippine Consuls of
returned to the Philippines several times more: in 1990, for the New York and California, U.S.A., to take the depositions of the
wedding of their eldest child, Crasus, Jr.; in 1992, for the brain witnesses upon written interrogatories, not a single deposition was
operation of their fourth child, Calvert; and in 1995, for unknown ever submitted to the RTC. Taking into account that it had been
reasons. Fely continued to live with her American family in New over a year since respondent Crasus had presented his evidence
Jersey, U.S.A. She had been openly using the surname of her and that Fely failed to exert effort to have the case progress, the
American husband in the Philippines and in the U.S.A. For the RTC issued an Order, dated 05 October 1998,14 considering Fely to
wedding of Crasus, Jr., Fely herself had invitations made in which have waived her right to present her evidence. The case was thus
she was named as "Mrs. Fely Ada Micklus." At the time the deemed submitted for decision.
Complaint was filed, it had been 13 years since Fely left and
abandoned respondent Crasus, and there was no more possibility of Not long after, on 30 October 1998, the RTC promulgated its
reconciliation between them. Respondent Crasus finally alleged in Judgment declaring the marriage of respondent Crasus and Fely
his Complaint that Felys acts brought danger and dishonor to the null and void ab initio, on the basis of the following findings
family, and clearly demonstrated her psychological incapacity to
perform the essential obligations of marriage. Such incapacity,
being incurable and continuing, constitutes a ground for The ground bearing defendants psychological incapacity deserves
declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36, in relation to a reasonable consideration. As observed, plaintiffs testimony is
decidedly credible. The Court finds that defendant had indeed
Articles 68, 70, and 72, of the Family Code of the Philippines.
exhibited unmistakable signs of psychological incapacity to
comply with her marital duties such as striving for family unity,
Fely filed her Answer and Counterclaim4 with the RTC on 05 June observing fidelity, mutual love, respect, help and support. From the
1997. She asserted therein that she was already an American evidence presented, plaintiff adequately established that the
citizen since 1988 and was now married to Stephen Micklus. defendant practically abandoned him. She obtained a divorce
While she admitted being previously married to respondent Crasus decree in the United States of America and married another man
and having five children with him, Fely refuted the other and has establish [sic] another family of her own. Plaintiff is in an
allegations made by respondent Crasus in his Complaint. She anomalous situation, wherein he is married to a wife who is
explained that she was no more hot-tempered than any normal already married to another man in another country.
person, and she may had been indignant at respondent Crasus on
certain occasions but it was because of the latters drunkenness,
Defendants intolerable traits may not have been apparent or
womanizing, and lack of sincere effort to find employment and to
manifest before the marriage, the FAMILY CODE nonetheless
contribute to the maintenance of their household. She could not
allows the annulment of the marriage provided that these were
have been extravagant since the family hardly had enough money
eventually manifested after the wedding. It appears to be the case To condemn plaintiff to remain shackled in a marriage that in truth
in this instance. and in fact does not exist and to remain married to a spouse who is
incapacitated to discharge essential marital covenants, is verily to
Certainly defendants posture being an irresponsible wife erringly condemn him to a perpetual disadvantage which this Court finds
reveals her very low regard for that sacred and inviolable abhorrent and will not countenance. Justice dictates that plaintiff
institution of marriage which is the foundation of human society be given relief by affirming the trial courts declaration of the
throughout the civilized world. It is quite evident that the nullity of the marriage of the parties.16
defendant is bereft of the mind, will and heart to comply with her
marital obligations, such incapacity was already there at the time After the Court of Appeals, in a Resolution, dated 08 March
of the marriage in question is shown by defendants own attitude 2002,17 denied its Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner Republic
towards her marriage to plaintiff. filed the instant Petition before this Court, based on the following
arguments/grounds
In sum, the ground invoked by plaintiff which is defendants
psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital I. Abandonment by and sexual infidelity of respondents wife do
obligations which already existed at the time of the marriage in not per se constitute psychological incapacity.
question has been satisfactorily proven. The evidence in herein
case establishes the irresponsibility of defendant Fely Ada Rosal II. The Court of Appeals has decided questions of substance not in
Iyoy, firmly. accord with law and jurisprudence considering that the Court of
Appeals committed serious errors of law in ruling that Article 26,
Going over plaintiffs testimony which is decidedly credible, the paragraph 2 of the Family Code is inapplicable to the case at bar.18
Court finds that the defendant had indeed exhibited unmistakable
signs of such psychological incapacity to comply with her marital In his Comment19 to the Petition, respondent Crasus maintained
obligations. These are her excessive disposition to material things that Felys psychological incapacity was clearly established after a
over and above the marital stability. That such incapacity was full-blown trial, and that paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family
already there at the time of the marriage in question is shown by Code of the Philippines was indeed applicable to the marriage of
defendants own attitude towards her marriage to plaintiff. And for respondent Crasus and Fely, because the latter had already become
these reasons there is a legal ground to declare the marriage of an American citizen. He further questioned the personality of
plaintiff Crasus L. Iyoy and defendant Fely Ada Rosal Iyoy null petitioner Republic, represented by the Office of the Solicitor
and void ab initio.15 General, to institute the instant Petition, because Article 48 of the
Family Code of the Philippines authorizes the prosecuting attorney
Petitioner Republic, believing that the afore-quoted Judgment of or fiscal assigned to the trial court, not the Solicitor General, to
the RTC was contrary to law and evidence, filed an appeal with the intervene on behalf of the State, in proceedings for annulment and
Court of Appeals. The appellate court, though, in its Decision, declaration of nullity of marriages.
dated 30 July 2001, affirmed the appealed Judgment of the RTC,
finding no reversible error therein. It even offered additional After having reviewed the records of this case and the applicable
ratiocination for declaring the marriage between respondent Crasus laws and jurisprudence, this Court finds the instant Petition to be
and Fely null and void, to wit meritorious.

Defendant secured a divorce from plaintiff-appellee abroad, has I


remarried, and is now permanently residing in the United States.
Plaintiff-appellee categorically stated this as one of his reasons for
The totality of evidence presented during trial is insufficient to
seeking the declaration of nullity of their marriage
support the finding of psychological incapacity of Fely.

Article 36, concededly one of the more controversial provisions of


the Family Code of the Philippines, reads
Article 26 of the Family Code provides:
ART. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of
"Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with
accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and solemnization.
(6), 36, 37 and 38.
Issues most commonly arise as to what constitutes psychological
"WHERE A MARRIAGE BETWEEN A FILIPINO CITIZEN incapacity. In a series of cases, this Court laid down guidelines for
AND A FOREIGNER IS VALIDLY CELEBRATED AND A determining its existence.
DIVORCE IS THEREAFTER VALIDLY OBTAINED ABROAD
BY THE ALIEN SPOUSE CAPACITATING HIM OR HER TO In Santos v. Court of Appeals,20 the term psychological incapacity
REMARRY, THE FILIPINO SPOUSE SHALL LIKEWISE was defined, thus
HAVE CAPACITY TO REMARRY UNDER PHILIPPINE
LAW."
". . . [P]sychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a
mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly
The rationale behind the second paragraph of the above-quoted cognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must
provision is to avoid the absurd and unjust situation of a Filipino be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage which, as
citizen still being married to his or her alien spouse, although the
so expressed by Article 68 of the Family Code, include their
latter is no longer married to the Filipino spouse because he or she
mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and
has obtained a divorce abroad. In the case at bench, the defendant
fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any doubt that
has undoubtedly acquired her American husbands citizenship and
the intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of
thus has become an alien as well. This Court cannot see why the "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality
benefits of Art. 26 aforequoted can not be extended to a Filipino disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability
citizen whose spouse eventually embraces another citizenship and
to give meaning and significance to the marriage. This
thus becomes herself an alien.
psychological condition must exist at the time the marriage is
celebrated21
It would be the height of unfairness if, under these circumstances,
plaintiff would still be considered as married to defendant, given
The psychological incapacity must be characterized by
her total incapacity to honor her marital covenants to the former.
(a) Gravity It must be grave or serious such that the party would (6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by
be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband and
marriage; wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in
regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital
(b) Juridical Antecedence It must be rooted in the history of the obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by
party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations evidence and included in the text of the decision.
may emerge only after the marriage; and
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial
(c) Incurability It must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not
the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved.22 controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our
courts
More definitive guidelines in the interpretation and application of
Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines were handed (8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and
down by this Court in Republic v. Court of Appeals and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision
Molina,23 which, although quite lengthy, by its significance, shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a
deserves to be reproduced below certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating
therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may
(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the
to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification
within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted
existence and continuation of the marriage and against its
for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge
dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our
the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under
Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and
Canon 1095.24
unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire
Article on the Family, recognizing it "as the foundation of the
nation." It decrees marriage as legally "inviolable," thereby A later case, Marcos v. Marcos,25 further clarified that there is no
protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the requirement that the defendant/respondent spouse should be
family and marriage are to be "protected" by the state. personally examined by a physician or psychologist as a
condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity of marriage
The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and based on psychological incapacity. Such psychological incapacity,
however, must be established by the totality of the evidence
the family and emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and
presented during the trial.
solidarity.

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) Using the guidelines established by the afore-mentioned
medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) jurisprudence, this Court finds that the totality of evidence
presented by respondent Crasus failed miserably to establish the
sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the
alleged psychological incapacity of his wife Fely; therefore, there
decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity
is no basis for declaring their marriage null and void under Article
must be psychological - not physical, although its manifestations
36 of the Family Code of the Philippines.
and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must convince
the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or
psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have The only substantial evidence presented by respondent Crasus
known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing them, could before the RTC was his testimony, which can be easily put into
not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of question for being self-serving, in the absence of any other
such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the corroborating evidence. He submitted only two other pieces of
application of the provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, evidence: (1) the Certification on the recording with the Register of
nevertheless such root cause must be identified as a psychological Deeds of the Marriage Contract between respondent Crasus and
illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert Fely, such marriage being celebrated on 16 December 1961; and
evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical (2) the invitation to the wedding of Crasus, Jr., their eldest son, in
psychologists. which Fely used her American husbands surname. Even
considering the admissions made by Fely herself in her Answer to
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the respondent Crasuss Complaint filed with the RTC, the evidence is
not enough to convince this Court that Fely had such a grave
celebration" of the marriage. The evidence must show that the
mental illness that prevented her from assuming the essential
illness was existing when the parties exchanged their "I do's." The
obligations of marriage.
manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time,
but the illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior
thereto. It is worthy to emphasize that Article 36 of the Family Code of the
Philippines contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take
cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations; not a
(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or
mere refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less, ill will, on the part of
clinically permanent or incurable. Such incurability may be
the errant spouse.26 Irreconcilable differences, conflicting
absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not
necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. personalities, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, physical
Furthermore, such incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of abuse, habitual alcoholism, sexual infidelity or perversion, and
abandonment, by themselves, also do not warrant a finding of
marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to
psychological incapacity under the said Article.27
marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a
job
As has already been stressed by this Court in previous cases,
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability Article 36 "is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the
marital bond at the time the causes therefore manifest themselves.
of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage. Thus,
It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even
"mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, occasional
before the celebration of marriage. It is a malady so grave and so
emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness
permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and
must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal,
neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In other words, there is a responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume." 28
natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse
integral element in the personality structure that effectively The evidence may have proven that Fely committed acts that hurt
incapacitates the person from really accepting and thereby and embarrassed respondent Crasus and the rest of the family. Her
complying with the obligations essential to marriage. hot-temper, nagging, and extravagance; her abandonment of
respondent Crasus; her marriage to an American; and even her
flaunting of her American family and her American surname, may That Article 48 does not expressly mention the Solicitor General
indeed be manifestations of her alleged incapacity to comply with does not bar him or his Office from intervening in proceedings for
her marital obligations; nonetheless, the root cause for such was annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages. Executive Order
not identified. If the root cause of the incapacity was not identified, No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987,
then it cannot be satisfactorily established as a psychological or appoints the Solicitor General as the principal law officer and legal
mental defect that is serious or grave; neither could it be proven to defender of the Government.33 His Office is tasked to represent the
be in existence at the time of celebration of the marriage; nor that it Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities
is incurable. While the personal examination of Fely by a and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding,
psychiatrist or psychologist is no longer mandatory for the investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. The
declaration of nullity of their marriage under Article 36 of the Office of the Solicitor General shall constitute the law office of the
Family Code of the Philippines, by virtue of this Courts ruling Government and, as such, shall discharge duties requiring the
in Marcos v. Marcos,29 respondent Crasus must still have complied services of lawyers.34
with the requirement laid down in Republic v. Court of Appeals
and Molina30 that the root cause of the incapacity be identified as a The intent of Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines is to
psychological illness and that its incapacitating nature be fully ensure that the interest of the State is represented and protected in
explained. proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages
by preventing collusion between the parties, or the fabrication or
In any case, any doubt shall be resolved in favor of the validity of suppression of evidence; and, bearing in mind that the Solicitor
the marriage.31 No less than the Constitution of 1987 sets the General is the principal law officer and legal defender of the land,
policy to protect and strengthen the family as the basic social then his intervention in such proceedings could only serve and
institution and marriage as the foundation of the family. 32 contribute to the realization of such intent, rather than thwart it.

II Furthermore, the general rule is that only the Solicitor General is


authorized to bring or defend actions on behalf of the People or the
Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the Philippines is Republic of the Philippines once the case is brought before this
not applicable to the case at bar. Court or the Court of Appeals.35While it is the prosecuting attorney
or fiscal who actively participates, on behalf of the State, in a
proceeding for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage
According to Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Family Code of the
Philippines before the RTC, the Office of the Solicitor General takes over
when the case is elevated to the Court of Appeals or this Court.
Since it shall be eventually responsible for taking the case to the
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is appellate courts when circumstances demand, then it is only
validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained reasonable and practical that even while the proceeding is still
abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the being held before the RTC, the Office of the Solicitor General can
Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under already exercise supervision and control over the conduct of the
Philippine law. prosecuting attorney or fiscal therein to better guarantee the
protection of the interests of the State.
As it is worded, Article 26, paragraph 2, refers to a special
situation wherein one of the couple getting married is a Filipino In fact, this Court had already recognized and affirmed the role of
citizen and the other a foreigner at the time the marriage was the Solicitor General in several cases for annulment and
celebrated. By its plain and literal interpretation, the said declaration of nullity of marriages that were appealed before it,
provision cannot be applied to the case of respondent Crasus summarized as follows in the case of Ancheta v. Ancheta36
and his wife Fely because at the time Fely obtained her divorce,
she was still a Filipino citizen. Although the exact date was not
In the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals [268 SCRA 198
established, Fely herself admitted in her Answer filed before the
RTC that she obtained a divorce from respondent Crasus sometime (1997)], this Court laid down the guidelines in the interpretation
and application of Art. 48 of the Family Code, one of which
after she left for the United States in 1984, after which she married
concerns the role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the
her American husband in 1985. In the same Answer, she alleged
Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the State:
that she had been an American citizen since 1988. At the time she
filed for divorce, Fely was still a Filipino citizen, and pursuant to
the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code (8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and
of the Philippines, she was still bound by Philippine laws on family the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. No decision
rights and duties, status, condition, and legal capacity, even when shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General issues a
she was already living abroad. Philippine laws, then and even until certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating
now, do not allow and recognize divorce between Filipino spouses. therein his reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may
Thus, Fely could not have validly obtained a divorce from be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along with the
respondent Crasus. prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification
within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted
for resolution of the court. The Solicitor General shall discharge
the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under
Canon 1095. [Id., at 213]
III
The Solicitor General is authorized to intervene, on behalf of the
This Court in the case of Malcampo-Sin v. Sin [355 SCRA 285
Republic, in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity
(2001)] reiterated its pronouncement in Republic v. Court of
of marriages.
Appeals [Supra.] regarding the role of the prosecuting attorney or
fiscal and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the
Invoking Article 48 of the Family Code of the Philippines, State37
respondent Crasus argued that only the prosecuting attorney or
fiscal assigned to the RTC may intervene on behalf of the State in
Finally, the issuance of this Court of the Rule on Declaration of
proceedings for annulment or declaration of nullity of marriages;
Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
hence, the Office of the Solicitor General had no personality to file
Marriages,38 which became effective on 15 March 2003, should
the instant Petition on behalf of the State. Article 48 provides
dispel any other doubts of respondent Crasus as to the authority of
the Solicitor General to file the instant Petition on behalf of the
ART. 48. In all cases of annulment or declaration of absolute State. The Rule recognizes the authority of the Solicitor General to
nullity of marriage, the Court shall order the prosecuting attorney intervene and take part in the proceedings for annulment and
or fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf of the State to take steps declaration of nullity of marriages before the RTC and on appeal to
to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that the
evidence is not fabricated or suppressed.
higher courts. The pertinent provisions of the said Rule are FIRST DIVISION
reproduced below
G.R. No. 154380 October 5, 2005
Sec. 5. Contents and form of petition.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
vs.
CIPRIANO ORBECIDO III, Respondent.
(4) It shall be filed in six copies. The petitioner shall serve a copy
of the petition on the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office DECISION
of the City or Provincial Prosecutor, within five days from the date
of its filing and submit to the court proof of such service within the QUISUMBING, J.:
same period.
Given a valid marriage between two Filipino citizens, where one
party is later naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a valid
divorce decree capacitating him or her to remarry, can the Filipino
Sec. 18. Memoranda. The court may require the parties and the spouse likewise remarry under Philippine law?
public prosecutor, in consultation with the Office of the Solicitor
General, to file their respective memoranda in support of their Before us is a case of first impression that behooves the Court to
claims within fifteen days from the date the trial is terminated. It make a definite ruling on this apparently novel question, presented
may require the Office of the Solicitor General to file its own as a pure question of law.
memorandum if the case is of significant interest to the State. No
other pleadings or papers may be submitted without leave of court. In this petition for review, the Solicitor General assails
After the lapse of the period herein provided, the case will be
the Decision1 dated May 15, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of
considered submitted for decision, with or without the memoranda.
Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23 and its Resolution2 dated
July 4, 2002 denying the motion for reconsideration. The court a
Sec. 19. Decision. quo had declared that herein respondent Cipriano Orbecido III is
capacitated to remarry. The fallo of the impugned Decision reads:
(2) The parties, including the Solicitor General and the public
prosecutor, shall be served with copies of the decision personally
WHEREFORE, by virtue of the provision of the second paragraph
or by registered mail. If the respondent summoned by publication
of Art. 26 of the Family Code and by reason of the divorce decree
failed to appear in the action, the dispositive part of the decision obtained against him by his American wife, the petitioner is given
shall be published once in a newspaper of general circulation. the capacity to remarry under the Philippine Law.

(3) The decision becomes final upon the expiration of fifteen days
IT IS SO ORDERED.3
from notice to the parties. Entry of judgment shall be made if no
motion for reconsideration or new trial, or appeal is filed by any of
the parties, the public prosecutor, or the Solicitor General. The factual antecedents, as narrated by the trial court, are as
follows.

On May 24, 1981, Cipriano Orbecido III married Lady Myros M.


Villanueva at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in
Sec. 20. Appeal. Lam-an, Ozamis City. Their marriage was blessed with a son and a

daughter, Kristoffer Simbortriz V. Orbecido and Lady Kimberly V.


(2) Notice of Appeal. An aggrieved party or the Solicitor General
Orbecido.
may appeal from the decision by filing a Notice of Appeal within
fifteen days from notice of denial of the motion for reconsideration
or new trial. The appellant shall serve a copy of the notice of In 1986, Ciprianos wife left for the United States bringing along
appeal on the adverse parties. their son Kristoffer. A few years later, Cipriano discovered that his
wife had been naturalized as an American citizen.
Given the foregoing, this Court arrives at a conclusion contrary to
those of the RTC and the Court of Appeals, and sustains the Sometime in 2000, Cipriano learned from his son that his wife had
validity and existence of the marriage between respondent Crasus obtained a divorce decree and then married a certain Innocent
and Fely. At most, Felys abandonment, sexual infidelity, and Stanley. She, Stanley and her child by him currently live at 5566
bigamy, give respondent Crasus grounds to file for legal separation A. Walnut Grove Avenue, San Gabriel, California.
under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines, but not for
declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the same Cipriano thereafter filed with the trial court a petition for authority
Code. While this Court commiserates with respondent Crasus for to remarry invoking Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code.
being continuously shackled to what is now a hopeless and No opposition was filed. Finding merit in the petition, the court
loveless marriage, this is one of those situations where neither law granted the same. The Republic, herein petitioner, through the
nor society can provide the specific answer to every individual Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), sought reconsideration but
problem.39 it was denied.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed In this petition, the OSG raises a pure question of law:
Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 62539, dated
30 July 2001, affirming the Judgment of the RTC of Cebu City, WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT CAN REMARRY UNDER
Branch 22, in Civil Case No. CEB-20077, dated 30 October 1998, ARTICLE 26 OF THE FAMILY CODE4
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
The OSG contends that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family
The marriage of respondent Crasus L. Iyoy and Fely Ada Rosal- Code is not applicable to the instant case because it only applies to
Iyoy remains valid and subsisting. a valid mixed marriage; that is, a marriage celebrated between a
Filipino citizen and an alien. The proper remedy, according to the
SO ORDERED. OSG, is to file a petition for annulment or for legal
separation.5 Furthermore, the OSG argues there is no law that
governs respondents situation. The OSG posits that this is a matter
of legislation and not of judicial determination.6
For his part, respondent admits that Article 26 is not directly Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine
applicable to his case but insists that when his naturalized alien law. (Emphasis supplied)
wife obtained a divorce decree which capacitated her to remarry,
he is likewise capacitated by operation of law pursuant to Section On its face, the foregoing provision does not appear to govern the
12, Article II of the Constitution.7 situation presented by the case at hand. It seems to apply only to
cases where at the time of the celebration of the marriage, the
At the outset, we note that the petition for authority to remarry parties are a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The instant case is
filed before the trial court actually constituted a petition for one where at the time the marriage was solemnized, the parties
declaratory relief. In this connection, Section 1, Rule 63 of the were two Filipino citizens, but later on, the wife was naturalized as
Rules of Court provides: an American citizen and subsequently obtained a divorce granting
her capacity to remarry, and indeed she remarried an American
RULE 63 citizen while residing in the U.S.A.

DECLARATORY RELIEF AND SIMILAR REMEDIES Noteworthy, in the Report of the Public Hearings9 on the Family
Code, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)
registered the following objections to Paragraph 2 of Article 26:
Section 1. Who may file petitionAny person interested under a
deed, will, contract or other written instrument, or whose rights are
affected by a statute, executive order or regulation, ordinance, or 1. The rule is discriminatory. It discriminates against those whose
other governmental regulation may, before breach or violation spouses are Filipinos who divorce them abroad. These spouses
thereof, bring an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court to who are divorced will not be able to re-marry, while the spouses of
determine any question of construction or validity arising, and for foreigners who validly divorce them abroad can.
a declaration of his rights or duties, thereunder.
2. This is the beginning of the recognition of the validity of divorce
... even for Filipino citizens. For those whose foreign spouses validly
divorce them abroad will also be considered to be validly divorced
here and can re-marry. We propose that this be deleted and made
The requisites of a petition for declaratory relief are: (1) there must
into law only after more widespread consultation. (Emphasis
be a justiciable controversy; (2) the controversy must be between
persons whose interests are adverse; (3) that the party seeking the supplied.)
relief has a legal interest in the controversy; and (4) that the issue
is ripe for judicial determination.8 Legislative Intent

This case concerns the applicability of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 to Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations
a marriage between two Filipino citizens where one later acquired showed that the intent of Paragraph 2 of Article 26, according to
alien citizenship, obtained a divorce decree, and remarried while in Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a member of the Civil Code Revision
the U.S.A. The interests of the parties are also adverse, as Committee, is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino
petitioner representing the State asserts its duty to protect the spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a
institution of marriage while respondent, a private citizen, insists divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse.
on a declaration of his capacity to remarry. Respondent, praying
for relief, has legal interest in the controversy. The issue raised is Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the 1985
also ripe for judicial determination inasmuch as when respondent case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.10 The Van Dorn case involved a
remarries, litigation ensues and puts into question the validity of marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The Court
his second marriage. held therein that a divorce decree validly obtained by the alien
spouse is valid in the Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino
Coming now to the substantive issue, does Paragraph 2 of Article spouse is capacitated to remarry under Philippine law.
26 of the Family Code apply to the case of respondent?
Necessarily, we must dwell on how this provision had come about Does the same principle apply to a case where at the time of the
in the first place, and what was the intent of the legislators in its celebration of the marriage, the parties were Filipino citizens, but
enactment? later on, one of them obtains a foreign citizenship by
naturalization?
Brief Historical Background
The jurisprudential answer lies latent in the 1998 case of Quita v.
On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law Court of Appeals.11 In Quita, the parties were, as in this case,
Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the "Family Code," Filipino citizens when they got married. The wife became a
which took effect on August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states: naturalized American citizen in 1954 and obtained a divorce in the
same year. The Court therein hinted, by way of obiter dictum, that
a Filipino divorced by his naturalized foreign spouse is no longer
All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance
with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, married under Philippine law and can thus remarry.
and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except
those prohibited under Articles 35, 37, and 38. Thus, taking into consideration the legislative intent and applying
the rule of reason, we hold that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 should be
interpreted to include cases involving parties who, at the time of
On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family
Code, Executive Order No. 227 was likewise signed into law, the celebration of the marriage were Filipino citizens, but later on,
amending Articles 26, 36, and 39 of the Family Code. A second one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a
divorce decree. The Filipino spouse should likewise be allowed to
paragraph was added to Article 26. As so amended, it now
remarry as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the
provides:
solemnization of the marriage. To rule otherwise would be to
sanction absurdity and injustice. Where the interpretation of a
ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in statute according to its exact and literal import would lead to
accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were mischievous results or contravene the clear purpose of the
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this legislature, it should be construed according to its spirit and reason,
country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and disregarding as far as necessary the letter of the law. A statute may
(6), 36, 37 and 38. therefore be extended to cases not within the literal meaning of its
terms, so long as they come within its spirit or intent.12
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is
validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained
abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the
If we are to give meaning to the legislative intent to avoid the No pronouncement as to costs.
absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the
alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce is no longer married to SO ORDERED
the Filipino spouse, then the instant case must be deemed as
coming within the contemplation of Paragraph 2 of Article 26.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
In view of the foregoing, we state the twin elements for the Manila
application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 as follows:
FIRST DIVISION
1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a
Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and
G.R. No. 171914 July 23, 2014

2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse


SOLEDAD L. LAVADIA, Petitioner,
capacitating him or her to remarry.
vs.
HEIRS OF JUAN LUCES LUNA, represented by
The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time GREGORIO Z. LUNA and EUGENIA ZABALLERO-
of the celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time LUNA,Respondents.
a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating
the latter to remarry.
DECISION

In this case, when Ciprianos wife was naturalized as an American


BERSAMIN, J.:
citizen, there was still a valid marriage that has been celebrated
between her and Cipriano. As fate would have it, the naturalized
alien wife subsequently obtained a valid divorce capacitating her to Divorce between Filipinos is void and ineffectual under the
remarry. Clearly, the twin requisites for the application of nationality rule adopted by Philippine law. Hence, any settlement
Paragraph 2 of Article 26 are both present in this case. Thus of property between the parties of the first marriage involving
Cipriano, the "divorced" Filipino spouse, should be allowed to Filipinos submitted as an incident of a divorce obtained in a
remarry. foreign country lacks competent judicial approval, and cannot be
enforceable against the assets of the husband who contracts a
subsequent marriage.
We are also unable to sustain the OSGs theory that the proper
remedy of the Filipino spouse is to file either a petition for
annulment or a petition for legal separation. Annulment would be a The Case
long and tedious process, and in this particular case, not even
feasible, considering that the marriage of the parties appears to The petitioner, the second wife of the late Atty. Juan Luces Luna,
have all the badges of validity. On the other hand, legal separation appeals the adverse decision promulgated on November 11,
would not be a sufficient remedy for it would not sever the 2005,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed with
marriage tie; hence, the legally separated Filipino spouse would modification the decision rendered on August 27, 2001 by the
still remain married to the naturalized alien spouse. Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 138, in Makati City.2 The CA
thereby denied her right in the 25/100 pro indiviso share of the
However, we note that the records are bereft of competent husband in a condominium unit, and in the law books of the
evidence duly submitted by respondent concerning the divorce husband acquired during the second marriage.
decree and the naturalization of respondents wife. It is settled rule
that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and mere Antecedents
allegation is not evidence.13
The antecedent facts were summarized by the CA as follows:
Accordingly, for his plea to prosper, respondent herein must prove
his allegation that his wife was naturalized as an American citizen. ATTY. LUNA, a practicing lawyer, was at first a name partner in
Likewise, before a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our the prestigious law firm Sycip, Salazar, Luna, Manalo, Hernandez
own courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact & Feliciano Law Offices at that time when he was living with his
and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing first wife, herein intervenor-appellant Eugenia Zaballero-Luna
it.14 Such foreign law must also be proved as our courts cannot (EUGENIA), whom he initially married ina civil ceremony
take judicial notice of foreign laws. Like any other fact, such laws conducted by the Justice of the Peace of Paraaque, Rizal on
must be alleged and proved.15 Furthermore, respondent must also September 10, 1947 and later solemnized in a church ceremony at
show that the divorce decree allows his former wife to remarry as the Pro-Cathedral in San Miguel, Bulacan on September 12, 1948.
specifically required in Article 26. Otherwise, there would be no In ATTY. LUNAs marriage to EUGENIA, they begot seven (7)
evidence sufficient to declare that he is capacitated to enter into children, namely: Regina Maria L. Nadal, Juan Luis Luna, Araceli
another marriage. Victoria L. Arellano, Ana Maria L. Tabunda, Gregorio Macario
Luna, Carolina Linda L. Tapia, and Cesar Antonio Luna. After
Nevertheless, we are unanimous in our holding that Paragraph 2 of almost two (2) decades of marriage, ATTY. LUNA and EUGENIA
Article 26 of the Family Code (E.O. No. 209, as amended by E.O. eventually agreed to live apart from each other in February 1966
No. 227), should be interpreted to allow a Filipino citizen, who has and agreed to separation of property, to which end, they entered
been divorced by a spouse who had acquired foreign citizenship into a written agreement entitled "AGREEMENT FOR
and remarried, also to remarry. However, considering that in the SEPARATION AND PROPERTY SETTLEMENT" dated
present petition there is no sufficient evidence submitted and on November 12, 1975, whereby they agreed to live separately and to
record, we are unable to declare, based on respondents bare dissolve and liquidate their conjugal partnership of property.
allegations that his wife, who was naturalized as an American
citizen, had obtained a divorce decree and had remarried an On January 12, 1976, ATTY. LUNA obtained a divorce decree of
American, that respondent is now capacitated to remarry. Such his marriage with EUGENIA from the Civil and Commercial
declaration could only be made properly upon respondents Chamber of the First Circumscription of the Court of First Instance
submission of the aforecited evidence in his favor. of Sto. Domingo, Dominican Republic. Also in Sto.Domingo,
Dominican Republic, on the same date, ATTY. LUNA contracted
ACCORDINGLY, the petition by the Republic of the Philippines another marriage, this time with SOLEDAD. Thereafter, ATTY.
is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated May 15, 2002, and LUNA and SOLEDAD returned to the Philippines and lived
Resolution dated July 4, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of together as husband and wife until 1987.
Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23, are hereby SET ASIDE.
Sometime in 1977, ATTY. LUNA organized a new law firm (a) The 24/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium
named: Luna, Puruganan, Sison and Ongkiko (LUPSICON) where unit located at the SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW
ATTY. LUNA was the managing partner. LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by
Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting of
On February 14, 1978, LUPSICON through ATTY. LUNA FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN (517/100) SQUARE
purchased from Tandang Sora Development Corporation the 6th METERS is adjudged to have been acquired by Juan
Floor of Kalaw-Ledesma Condominium Project(condominium Lucas Luna through his sole industry;
unit) at Gamboa St., Makati City, consisting of 517.52 square
meters, for 1,449,056.00, to be paid on installment basis for (b) Plaintiff has no right as owner or under any other
36months starting on April 15, 1978. Said condominium unit was concept over the condominium unit, hence the entry in
to be usedas law office of LUPSICON. After full payment, the Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the
Deed of Absolute Sale over the condominium unit was executed on Registry of Deeds of Makati with respect to the civil
July 15, 1983, and CCT No. 4779 was issued on August 10, 1983, status of Juan Luces Luna should be changed from
which was registered bearing the following names: "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" to
"JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Eugenia Zaballero
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (46/100); Luna";
MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to Sonia P.G. Ongkiko (25/100);
GREGORIO R. PURUGANAN, married to Paz A. Puruganan (c) Plaintiff is declared to be the owner of the books
(17/100); and TERESITA CRUZ SISON, married to Antonio J.M. Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American
Sison (12/100) x x x" Subsequently, 8/100 share of ATTY. LUNA Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Reports found
and 17/100 share of Atty. Gregorio R. Puruganan in the in the condominium unit and defendants are ordered to
condominium unit was sold to Atty. Mario E. Ongkiko, for which a deliver them to the plaintiff as soon as appropriate
new CCT No. 21761 was issued on February 7, 1992 in the arrangements have been madefor transport and storage.
following names:
No pronouncement as to costs.
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (38/100);
MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to Sonia P.G. Ongkiko (50/100); SO ORDERED.5
TERESITA CRUZ SISON, married to Antonio J.M. Sison
(12/100) x x x" Decision of the CA

Sometime in 1992, LUPSICON was dissolved and the


Both parties appealed to the CA.6
condominium unit was partitioned by the partners but the same
was still registered in common under CCT No. 21716. The parties
stipulated that the interest of ATTY. LUNA over the condominium On her part, the petitioner assigned the following errors to the
unit would be 25/100 share. ATTY. LUNA thereafter established RTC, namely:
and headed another law firm with Atty. Renato G. Dela Cruzand
used a portion of the office condominium unit as their office. The I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT
said law firm lasted until the death of ATTY. JUAN on July 12, THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT WAS ACQUIRED THRU
1997. THE SOLE INDUSTRY OF ATTY. JUAN LUCES
LUNA;
After the death of ATTY. JUAN, his share in the condominium
unit including the lawbooks, office furniture and equipment found II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT
therein were taken over by Gregorio Z. Luna, ATTY. LUNAs son PLAINTIFFAPPELLANT DID NOT CONTRIBUTE
of the first marriage. Gregorio Z. Luna thenleased out the 25/100 MONEY FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE
portion of the condominium unit belonging to his father to Atty. CONDOMINIUM UNIT;
Renato G. De la Cruz who established his own law firm named
Renato G. De la Cruz & Associates. III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING
CREDENCE TO PORTIONS OF THE TESTIMONY OF
The 25/100 pro-indiviso share of ATTY. Luna in the condominium GREGORIO LUNA, WHO HAS NO ACTUAL
unit as well as the law books, office furniture and equipment KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACQUISITION OF THE
became the subject of the complaint filed by SOLEDAD against UNIT, BUT IGNORED OTHER PORTIONS OF HIS
the heirs of ATTY. JUAN with the RTC of Makati City, Branch TESTIMONY FAVORABLE TO THE PLAINTIFF-
138, on September 10, 1999, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-1644. APPELLANT;
The complaint alleged that the subject properties were acquired
during the existence of the marriage between ATTY. LUNA and IV. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING
SOLEDAD through their joint efforts that since they had no SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACT THAT THE
children, SOLEDAD became co-owner of the said properties upon CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN LUNA AND
the death of ATTY. LUNA to the extent of pro-indiviso share INTERVENOR-APPELLANT WAS ALREADY
consisting of her share in the said properties plus her share in DISSOLVED AND LIQUIDATED PRIOR TO THE
the net estate of ATTY. LUNA which was bequeathed to her in the UNION OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND LUNA;
latters last will and testament; and thatthe heirs of ATTY. LUNA
through Gregorio Z. Luna excluded SOLEDAD from her share in V. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE
the subject properties. The complaint prayed that SOLEDAD be SIGNIFICANCE TO THE ABSENCE OF THE
declared the owner of the portion of the subject properties;that DISPOSITION OF THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT IN
the same be partitioned; that an accounting of the rentals on the THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL OF THE PLAINTIFF-
condominium unit pertaining to the share of SOLEDAD be APPELLANT;
conducted; that a receiver be appointed to preserve ad administer
the subject properties;and that the heirs of ATTY. LUNA be
VI. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE
ordered to pay attorneys feesand costs of the suit to SOLEDAD. 3
SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACTTHAT THE NAME OF
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT DID NOT APPEAR IN THE
Ruling of the RTC DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE EXECUTED BY
TANDANG SORA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
On August 27, 2001, the RTC rendered its decision after trial upon OVER THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT;
the aforementioned facts,4 disposing thusly:
VII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows: NEITHER ARTICLE 148 OF THE FAMILYCODE NOR
ARTICLE 144 OF THE CIVIL CODE OF THE Federal Supreme Court Reports found in the
PHILIPPINES ARE APPLICABLE; condominium unit.

VIII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING No pronouncement as to costs.


THAT THE CAUSE OF ACTION OF THE
INTERVENOR-APPELLANT HAS BEEN BARRED SO ORDERED.11
BY PESCRIPTION AND LACHES; and
On March 13, 2006,12 the CA denied the petitioners motion for
IX. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT reconsideration.13
EXPUNGING/DISMISSING THE INTERVENTION
FOR FAILURE OF INTERVENOR-APPELLANT TO
Issues
PAY FILING FEE.7
In this appeal, the petitioner avers in her petition for review on
In contrast, the respondents attributedthe following errors to the
certiorarithat:
trial court, to wit:
A. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT the Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement
CERTAIN FOREIGN LAW BOOKS IN THE LAW
executed by Luna and Respondent Eugenia was
OFFICE OF ATTY. LUNA WERE BOUGHT WITH
unenforceable; hence, their conjugal partnership was not
THE USE OF PLAINTIFFS MONEY;
dissolved and liquidated;

II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT B. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not
PLAINTIFF PROVED BY PREPONDERANCE OF
recognizing the Dominican Republic courts approval of
EVIDENCE (HER CLAIM OVER) THE SPECIFIED
the Agreement;
FOREIGN LAW BOOKS FOUND IN ATTY. LUNAS
LAW OFFICE; and
C. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that
Petitioner failed to adduce sufficient proof of actual
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING
contribution to the acquisition of purchase of the
THAT, ASSUMING PLAINTIFF PAID FOR THE SAID
subjectcondominium unit; and
FOREIGN LAW BOOKS, THE RIGHT TO RECOVER
THEM HAD PRESCRIBED AND BARRED BY
LACHES AND ESTOPPEL.8 D. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that
Petitioner was not entitled to the subject law books.14
On November 11, 2005, the CA promulgated its assailed modified
decision,9 holding and ruling: The decisive question to be resolved is who among the contending
parties should be entitled to the 25/100 pro indivisoshare in the
condominium unit; and to the law books (i.e., Corpus Juris,
EUGENIA, the first wife, was the legitimate wife of ATTY.
Fletcher on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and Federal
LUNA until the latters death on July 12, 1997. The absolute
Supreme Court Reports).
divorce decree obtained by ATTY. LUNA inthe Dominican
Republic did not terminate his prior marriage with EUGENIA
because foreign divorce between Filipino citizens is not recognized The resolution of the decisive question requires the Court to
in our jurisdiction. x x x10 ascertain the law that should determine, firstly, whether the divorce
between Atty. Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (Eugenia) had
validly dissolved the first marriage; and, secondly, whether the
xxxx
second marriage entered into by the late Atty. Luna and the
petitioner entitled the latter to any rights in property. Ruling of the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed August 27, 2001 Court
Decision of the RTC of MakatiCity, Branch 138, is hereby
MODIFIEDas follows:
We affirm the modified decision of the CA.

(a) The 25/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium 1. Atty. Lunas first marriage with Eugenia
unit at the SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW LEDESMA subsisted up to the time of his death
CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by Condominium
Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting of FIVE
HUNDRED SEVENTEEN (517/100) (sic) SQUARE The first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, both Filipinos,
METERS is hereby adjudged to defendants-appellants, was solemnized in the Philippines on September 10, 1947. The law
the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna in force at the time of the solemnization was the Spanish Civil
(first marriage), having been acquired from the sole funds Code, which adopted the nationality rule. The Civil Codecontinued
and sole industry of Juan Luces Luna while marriage of to follow the nationality rule, to the effect that Philippine laws
Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (first relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and
marriage) was still subsisting and valid; legal capacity of persons were binding upon citizens of the
Philippines, although living abroad.15 Pursuant to the nationality
rule, Philippine laws governed thiscase by virtue of bothAtty. Luna
(b) Plaintiff-appellant Soledad Lavadia has no right as
and Eugenio having remained Filipinos until the death of Atty.
owner or under any other concept over the condominium
Luna on July 12, 1997 terminated their marriage.
unit, hence the entry in Condominium Certificate of Title
No. 21761 of the Registry of Deeds ofMakati with respect
to the civil status of Juan Luces Luna should be changed From the time of the celebration ofthe first marriage on September
from "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" 10, 1947 until the present, absolute divorce between Filipino
to "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Eugenia Zaballero spouses has not been recognized in the Philippines. The non-
Luna"; recognition of absolute divorce between Filipinos has remained
even under the Family Code,16 even if either or both of the spouses
are residing abroad.17 Indeed, the only two types of defective
(c) Defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna marital unions under our laws have beenthe void and the voidable
and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna(first marriage) are hereby marriages. As such, the remedies against such defective marriages
declared to be the owner of the books Corpus Juris,
have been limited to the declaration of nullity ofthe marriage and
Fletcher on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and
the annulment of the marriage.
It is true that on January 12, 1976, the Court of First Instance (CFI) The mere execution of the Agreement by Atty. Luna and Eugenia
of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic issued the Divorce did not per sedissolve and liquidate their conjugal partnership of
Decree dissolving the first marriage of Atty. Luna and gains. The approval of the Agreement by a competent court was
Eugenia.18 Conformably with the nationality rule, however, the still required under Article 190 and Article 191 of the Civil Code,
divorce, even if voluntarily obtained abroad, did not dissolve the as follows:
marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, which subsisted up to
the time of his death on July 12, 1997. This finding conforms to Article 190. In the absence of an express declaration in the
the Constitution, which characterizes marriage as an inviolable marriage settlements, the separation of property between spouses
social institution,19 and regards it as a special contract of during the marriage shall not take place save in virtue of a judicial
permanent union between a man and a woman for the order. (1432a)
establishment of a conjugal and family life.20 The non-recognition
of absolute divorce in the Philippines is a manifestation of the
Article 191. The husband or the wife may ask for the separation of
respect for the sanctity of the marital union especially among
property, and it shall be decreed when the spouse of the petitioner
Filipino citizens. It affirms that the extinguishment of a valid has been sentenced to a penalty which carries with it civil
marriage must be grounded only upon the death of either spouse, interdiction, or has been declared absent, or when legal separation
or upon a ground expressly provided bylaw. For as long as this
has been granted.
public policy on marriage between Filipinos exists, no divorce
decree dissolving the marriage between them can ever be given
legal or judicial recognition and enforcement in this jurisdiction. xxxx

2. The Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement The husband and the wife may agree upon the dissolution of the
was void for lack of court approval conjugal partnership during the marriage, subject to judicial
approval. All the creditors of the husband and of the wife, as well
as of the conjugal partnership shall be notified of any petition for
The petitioner insists that the Agreement for Separation and judicialapproval or the voluntary dissolution of the conjugal
Property Settlement (Agreement) that the late Atty. Luna and
partnership, so that any such creditors may appear atthe hearing to
Eugenia had entered into and executed in connection with the
safeguard his interests. Upon approval of the petition for
divorce proceedings before the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the
dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the court shall take such
Dominican Republic to dissolve and liquidate their conjugal
measures as may protect the creditors and other third persons.
partnership was enforceable against Eugenia. Hence, the CA
committed reversible error in decreeing otherwise.
After dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the provisions of
articles 214 and 215 shall apply. The provisions of this Code
The insistence of the petitioner was unwarranted.
concerning the effect of partition stated in articles 498 to 501 shall
be applicable. (1433a)
Considering that Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not entered into any
marriage settlement prior to their marriage on September 10, 1947,
But was not the approval of the Agreement by the CFI of Sto.
the system of relative community or conjugal partnership of gains
Domingo in the Dominican Republic sufficient in dissolving and
governed their property relations. This is because the Spanish Civil
liquidating the conjugal partnership of gains between the late Atty.
Code, the law then in force at the time of their marriage, did not
Luna and Eugenia?
specify the property regime of the spouses in the event that they
had not entered into any marriage settlement before or at the time
of the marriage. Article 119 of the Civil Codeclearly so provides, The query is answered in the negative. There is no question that
to wit: the approval took place only as an incident ofthe action for divorce
instituted by Atty. Luna and Eugenia, for, indeed, the justifications
for their execution of the Agreement were identical to the grounds
Article 119. The future spouses may in the marriage settlements raised in the action for divorce.21 With the divorce not being itself
agree upon absolute or relative community of property, or upon valid and enforceable under Philippine law for being contrary to
complete separation of property, or upon any other regime. In the
Philippine public policy and public law, the approval of the
absence of marriage settlements, or when the same are void, the
Agreement was not also legally valid and enforceable under
system of relative community or conjugal partnership of gains as
Philippine law. Consequently, the conjugal partnership of gains of
established in this Code, shall govern the property relations Atty. Luna and Eugenia subsisted in the lifetime of their marriage.
between husband and wife.
3. Atty. Lunas marriage with Soledad, being bigamous,
Article 142 of the Civil Codehas defined a conjugal partnership of
was void; properties acquired during their marriage
gains thusly:
were governed by the rules on co-ownership

Article 142. By means of the conjugal partnership of gains the


What law governed the property relations of the second marriage
husband and wife place in a common fund the fruits of their
between Atty. Luna and Soledad?
separate property and the income from their work or industry, and
divide equally, upon the dissolution of the marriage or of the
partnership, the net gains or benefits obtained indiscriminately by The CA expressly declared that Atty. Lunas subsequent marriage
either spouse during the marriage. to Soledad on January 12, 1976 was void for being bigamous, 22 on
the ground that the marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia had
not been dissolved by the Divorce Decree rendered by the CFI of
The conjugal partnership of gains subsists until terminated for any
Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic but had subsisted until
of various causes of termination enumerated in Article 175 of the
the death of Atty. Luna on July 12, 1997.
Civil Code, viz:
The Court concurs with the CA.
Article 175. The conjugal partnership of gains terminates:
In the Philippines, marriages that are bigamous, polygamous, or
(1) Upon the death of either spouse; incestuous are void. Article 71 of the Civil Codeclearly states:

(2) When there is a decree of legal separation;


Article 71. All marriages performed outside the Philippines in
accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were
(3) When the marriage is annulled; performed, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this
country, except bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous marriages as
(4) In case of judicial separation of property under Article determined by Philippine law.
191.
Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by contracting a second In resolving the question, the CA entirely debunked the petitioners
or subsequent marriage before the first marriage has been legally assertions on her actual contributions through the following
dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared findings and conclusions, namely:
presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper
proceedings.23 A bigamous marriage is considered void ab initio.24 SOLEDAD was not able to prove by preponderance of evidence
that her own independent funds were used to buy the law office
Due to the second marriage between Atty. Luna and the petitioner condominium and the law books subject matter in contentionin this
being void ab initioby virtue of its being bigamous, the properties case proof that was required for Article 144 of the New Civil
acquired during the bigamous marriage were governed by the rules Code and Article 148 of the Family Code to apply as to cases
on co-ownership, conformably with Article 144 of the Civil Code, where properties were acquired by a man and a woman living
viz: together as husband and wife but not married, or under a marriage
which was void ab initio. Under Article 144 of the New Civil
Article 144. When a man and a woman live together as husband Code, the rules on co-ownership would govern. But this was not
and wife, but they are not married, ortheir marriage is void from readily applicable to many situations and thus it created a void at
the beginning, the property acquired by eitheror both of them first because it applied only if the parties were not in any way
through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be incapacitated or were without impediment to marry each other (for
governed by the rules on co-ownership.(n) it would be absurd to create a co-ownership where there still exists
a prior conjugal partnership or absolute community between the
In such a situation, whoever alleges co-ownership carried the man and his lawful wife). This void was filled upon adoption of
burden of proof to confirm such fact.1wphi1 To establish co- the Family Code. Article 148 provided that: only the property
acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint
ownership, therefore, it became imperative for the petitioner to
contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned in
offer proof of her actual contributions in the acquisition of
common and in proportion to their respective contributions. Such
property. Her mere allegation of co-ownership, without sufficient
contributions and corresponding shares were prima faciepresumed
and competent evidence, would warrant no relief in her favor. As
the Court explained in Saguid v. Court of Appeals:25 to be equal. However, for this presumption to arise, proof of actual
contribution was required. The same rule and presumption was to
apply to joint deposits of money and evidence of credit. If one of
In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, which the parties was validly married to another, his or her share in the
involved the issue of co-ownership ofproperties acquired by the co-ownership accrued to the absolute community or conjugal
parties to a bigamous marriage and an adulterous relationship, partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted
respectively, we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the in bad faith was not validly married to another, his or her share
acquisition of the property is essential. The claim of co-ownership shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of
of the petitioners therein who were parties to the bigamous and the Article 147. The rules on forfeiture applied even if both parties
adulterousunion is without basis because they failed to substantiate were in bad faith. Co-ownership was the exception while conjugal
their allegation that they contributed money in the purchase of the partnership of gains was the strict rule whereby marriage was an
disputed properties. Also in Adriano v. Court of Appeals, we ruled inviolable social institution and divorce decrees are not recognized
that the fact that the controverted property was titled in the name of in the Philippines, as was held by the Supreme Court in the case of
the parties to an adulterous relationship is not sufficient proof of Tenchavez vs. Escao, G.R. No. L-19671, November 29, 1965, 15
coownership absent evidence of actual contribution in the SCRA 355, thus:
acquisition of the property.
xxxx
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party
who, as determined by the pleadings or the nature of the case,
As to the 25/100pro-indivisoshare of ATTY. LUNA in the
asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions must be proved by
condominium unit, SOLEDAD failed to prove that she made an
competent evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of the
actual contribution to purchase the said property. She failed to
partys own evidence and not upon the weakness of the opponents
defense. This applies with more vigor where, as in the instant case, establish that the four (4) checks that she presented were indeed
used for the acquisition of the share of ATTY. LUNA in the
the plaintiff was allowed to present evidence ex parte.1wphi1 The
condominium unit. This was aptly explained in the Decision of the
plaintiff is not automatically entitled to the relief prayed for. The
trial court, viz.:
law gives the defendantsome measure of protection as the plaintiff
must still prove the allegations in the complaint. Favorable relief
can be granted only after the court isconvinced that the facts "x x x The first check, Exhibit "M" for 55,000.00 payable to Atty.
proven by the plaintiff warrant such relief. Indeed, the party Teresita Cruz Sison was issued on January 27, 1977, which was
alleging a fact has the burden of proving it and a mereallegation is thirteen (13) months before the Memorandum of Agreement,
not evidence.26 Exhibit "7" was signed. Another check issued on April 29, 1978 in
the amount of 97,588.89, Exhibit "P" was payable to Banco
The petitioner asserts herein that she sufficiently proved her actual Filipino. According to the plaintiff, thiswas in payment of the loan
contributions in the purchase of the condominium unit in the of Atty. Luna. The third check which was for 49,236.00 payable
to PREMEX was dated May 19, 1979, also for payment of the loan
aggregate amount of at least 306,572.00, consisting in direct
of Atty. Luna. The fourth check, Exhibit "M", for 4,072.00 was
contributions of 159,072.00, and in repaying the loans Atty. Luna
dated December 17, 1980. None of the foregoing prove that the
had obtained from Premex Financing and Banco Filipino totaling
amounts delivered by plaintiff to the payees were for the
146,825.30;27 and that such aggregate contributions of
306,572.00 corresponded to almost the entire share of Atty. Luna acquisition of the subject condominium unit. The connection was
in the purchase of the condominium unit amounting to simply not established. x x x"
362,264.00 of the units purchase price of 1,449,056.00.28 The
petitioner further asserts that the lawbooks were paid for solely out SOLEDADs claim that she made a cash contribution of
of her personal funds, proof of which Atty. Luna had even sent her 100,000.00 is unsubstantiated. Clearly, there is no basis for
a "thank you" note;29 that she had the financial capacity to make SOLEDADs claim of co-ownership over the 25/100 portion of the
the contributions and purchases; and that Atty. Luna could not condominium unit and the trial court correctly found that the same
acquire the properties on his own due to the meagerness of the was acquired through the sole industry of ATTY. LUNA, thus:
income derived from his law practice.
"The Deed of Absolute Sale, Exhibit "9", covering the
Did the petitioner discharge her burden of proof on the co- condominium unit was in the name of Atty. Luna, together with his
ownership? partners in the law firm. The name of the plaintiff does not appear
as vendee or as the spouse of Atty. Luna. The same was acquired
for the use of the Law firm of Atty. Luna. The loans from Allied
Banking Corporation and Far East Bank and Trust Company were
loans of Atty. Luna and his partners and plaintiff does not have Dated June 8, 1983, private respondent filed suit against petitioner
evidence to show that she paid for them fully or partially. x x x" in Civil Case No. 1075-P of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
CXV, in Pasay City, stating that petitioner's business in Ermita,
The fact that CCT No. 4779 and subsequently, CCT No. 21761 Manila, (the Galleon Shop, for short), is conjugal property of the
were in the name of "JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. parties, and asking that petitioner be ordered to render an
Luna" was no proof that SOLEDAD was a co-owner of the accounting of that business, and that private respondent be
condominium unit. Acquisition of title and registration thereof are declared with right to manage the conjugal property. Petitioner
two different acts. It is well settled that registration does not confer moved to dismiss the case on the ground that the cause of action is
title but merely confirms one already existing. The phrase "married barred by previous judgment in the divorce proceedings before the
to" preceding "Soledad L. Luna" is merely descriptive of the civil Nevada Court wherein respondent had acknowledged that he and
status of ATTY. LUNA. petitioner had "no community property" as of June 11, 1982. The
Court below denied the Motion to Dismiss in the mentioned case
on the ground that the property involved is located in the
SOLEDAD, the second wife, was not even a lawyer. So it is but
logical that SOLEDAD had no participation in the law firm or in Philippines so that the Divorce Decree has no bearing in the case.
the purchase of books for the law firm. SOLEDAD failed to prove The denial is now the subject of this certiorari proceeding.
that she had anything to contribute and that she actually purchased
or paid for the law office amortization and for the law books. It is Generally, the denial of a Motion to Dismiss in a civil case is
more logical to presume that it was ATTY. LUNA who bought the interlocutory and is not subject to appeal. certiorari and Prohibition
law office space and the law books from his earnings from his are neither the remedies to question the propriety of an
practice of law rather than embarrassingly beg or ask from interlocutory order of the trial Court. However, when a grave abuse
SOLEDAD money for use of the law firm that he headed. 30 of discretion was patently committed, or the lower Court acted
capriciously and whimsically, then it devolves upon this Court in a
certiorari proceeding to exercise its supervisory authority and to
The Court upholds the foregoing findings and conclusions by the
correct the error committed which, in such a case, is equivalent to
CA both because they were substantiated by the records and
because we have not been shown any reason to revisit and undo lack of jurisdiction. 1 Prohibition would then lie since it would be
useless and a waste of time to go ahead with the
them. Indeed, the petitioner, as the party claiming the co-
proceedings. 2 Weconsider the petition filed in this case within the
ownership, did not discharge her burden of proof. Her mere
exception, and we have given it due course.
allegations on her contributions, not being evidence,31 did not
serve the purpose. In contrast, given the subsistence of the first
marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, the presumption that For resolution is the effect of the foreign divorce on the parties and
Atty. Luna acquired the properties out of his own personal funds their alleged conjugal property in the Philippines.
and effort remained. It should then be justly concluded that the
properties in litislegally pertained to their conjugal partnership of Petitioner contends that respondent is estopped from laying claim
gains as of the time of his death. Consequently, the sole ownership on the alleged conjugal property because of the representation he
of the 25/100 pro indivisoshare of Atty. Luna in the condominium made in the divorce proceedings before the American Court that
unit, and of the lawbooks pertained to the respondents as the lawful they had no community of property; that the Galleon Shop was not
heirs of Atty. Luna. established through conjugal funds, and that respondent's claim is
barred by prior judgment.
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on
November 11, 2005; and ORDERS the petitioner to pay the costs For his part, respondent avers that the Divorce Decree issued by
of suit. the Nevada Court cannot prevail over the prohibitive laws of the
Philippines and its declared national policy; that the acts and
SO ORDERED. declaration of a foreign Court cannot, especially if the same is
contrary to public policy, divest Philippine Courts of jurisdiction to
FIRST DIVISION entertain matters within its jurisdiction.

For the resolution of this case, it is not necessary to determine


G.R. No. L-68470 October 8, 1985
whether the property relations between petitioner and private
respondent, after their marriage, were upon absolute or relative
ALICE REYES VAN DORN, petitioner, community property, upon complete separation of property, or
vs. upon any other regime. The pivotal fact in this case is the
HON. MANUEL V. ROMILLO, JR., as Presiding Judge of Nevada divorce of the parties.
Branch CX, Regional Trial Court of the National Capital
Region Pasay City and RICHARD UPTON respondents.
The Nevada District Court, which decreed the divorce, had
obtained jurisdiction over petitioner who appeared in person before
the Court during the trial of the case. It also obtained jurisdiction
over private respondent who, giving his address as No. 381 Bush
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:\ Street, San Francisco, California, authorized his attorneys in the
divorce case, Karp & Gradt Ltd., to agree to the divorce on the
In this Petition for certiorari and Prohibition, petitioner Alice ground of incompatibility in the understanding that there were
Reyes Van Dorn seeks to set aside the Orders, dated September 15, neither community property nor community obligations. 3 As
1983 and August 3, 1984, in Civil Case No. 1075-P, issued by explicitly stated in the Power of Attorney he executed in favor of
respondent Judge, which denied her Motion to Dismiss said case, the law firm of KARP & GRAD LTD., 336 W. Liberty, Reno,
and her Motion for Reconsideration of the Dismissal Order, Nevada, to represent him in the divorce proceedings:
respectively.
xxx xxx xxx
The basic background facts are that petitioner is a citizen of the
Philippines while private respondent is a citizen of the United You are hereby authorized to accept service of
States; that they were married in Hongkong in 1972; that, after the Summons, to file an Answer, appear on my
marriage, they established their residence in the Philippines; that behalf and do an things necessary and proper to
they begot two children born on April 4, 1973 and December 18, represent me, without further contesting, subject
1975, respectively; that the parties were divorced in Nevada, to the following:
United States, in 1982; and that petitioner has re-married also in
Nevada, this time to Theodore Van Dorn. 1. That my spouse seeks a divorce on the ground
of incompatibility.
2. That there is no community of property to be G.R. No. 133743 February 6, 2007
adjudicated by the Court.
EDGAR SAN LUIS, Petitioner,
3. 'I'hat there are no community obligations to be vs.
adjudicated by the court. FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, Respondent.

xxx xxx xxx 4 x ---------------------------------------------------- x

There can be no question as to the validity of that Nevada divorce G.R. No. 134029 February 6, 2007
in any of the States of the United States. The decree is binding on
private respondent as an American citizen. For instance, private RODOLFO SAN LUIS, Petitioner,
respondent cannot sue petitioner, as her husband, in any State of vs.
the Union. What he is contending in this case is that the divorce is FELICIDAD SAGALONGOS alias FELICIDAD SAN
not valid and binding in this jurisdiction, the same being contrary LUIS, Respondent.
to local law and public policy.
DECISION
It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article
15 of the Civil Code, 5 only Philippine nationals are covered by the
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
policy against absolute divorces the same being considered
contrary to our concept of public police and morality. However,
aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Before us are consolidated petitions for review assailing the
Philippines, provided they are valid according to their national February 4, 1998 Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
law. 6 In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private CV No. 52647, which reversed and set aside the September 12,
respondent from the marriage from the standards of American law, 1995 2 and January 31, 1996 3Resolutions of the Regional Trial
under which divorce dissolves the marriage. As stated by Court of Makati City, Branch 134 in SP. Proc. No. M-3708; and its
the Federal Supreme Court of the United States in Atherton vs. May 15, 1998 Resolution 4 denying petitioners motion for
Atherton, 45 L. Ed. 794, 799: reconsideration.

The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce The instant case involves the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo
from the bond of matrimony by a court of T. San Luis (Felicisimo), who was the former governor of the
competent jurisdiction are to change the existing Province of Laguna. During his lifetime, Felicisimo contracted
status or domestic relation of husband and wife, three marriages. His first marriage was with Virginia Sulit on
and to free them both from the bond. The March 17, 1942 out of which were born six children, namely:
marriage tie when thus severed as to one party, Rodolfo, Mila, Edgar, Linda, Emilita and Manuel. On August 11,
ceases to bind either. A husband without a wife, 1963, Virginia predeceased Felicisimo.
or a wife without a husband, is unknown to the
law. When the law provides, in the nature of a Five years later, on May 1, 1968, Felicisimo married Merry Lee
penalty. that the guilty party shall not marry Corwin, with whom he had a son, Tobias. However, on October
again, that party, as well as the other, is still 15, 1971, Merry Lee, an American citizen, filed a Complaint for
absolutely freed from the bond of the former Divorce 5 before the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of
marriage. Hawaii, United States of America (U.S.A.), which issued a Decree
Granting Absolute Divorce and Awarding Child Custody on
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer December 14, 1973. 6
the husband of petitioner. He would have no standing to sue in the
case below as petitioner's husband entitled to exercise control over On June 20, 1974, Felicisimo married respondent Felicidad San
conjugal assets. As he is bound by the Decision of his own Luis, then surnamed Sagalongos, before Rev. Fr. William Meyer,
country's Court, which validly exercised jurisdiction over him, and Minister of the United Presbyterian at Wilshire Boulevard, Los
whose decision he does not repudiate, he is estopped by his own Angeles, California, U.S.A. 7 He had no children with respondent
representation before said Court from asserting his right over the but lived with her for 18 years from the time of their marriage up
alleged conjugal property. to his death on December 18, 1992.

To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws, Thereafter, respondent sought the dissolution of their conjugal
petitioner has to be considered still married to private respondent partnership assets and the settlement of Felicisimos estate. On
and still subject to a wife's obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of December 17, 1993, she filed a petition for letters of
the Civil Code cannot be just. Petitioner should not be obliged to administration 8 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support docketed as SP. Proc. No. M-3708 which was raffled to Branch
to private respondent. The latter should not continue to be one of 146 thereof.
her heirs with possible rights to conjugal property. She should not
be discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice Respondent alleged that she is the widow of Felicisimo; that, at the
are to be served. time of his death, the decedent was residing at 100 San Juanico
Street, New Alabang Village, Alabang, Metro Manila; that the
WHEREFORE, the Petition is granted, and respondent Judge is decedents surviving heirs are respondent as legal spouse, his six
hereby ordered to dismiss the Complaint filed in Civil Case No. children by his first marriage, and son by his second marriage; that
1075-P of his Court. the decedent left real properties, both conjugal and exclusive,
valued at 30,304,178.00 more or less; that the decedent does not
Without costs. have any unpaid debts. Respondent prayed that the conjugal
partnership assets be liquidated and that letters of administration be
issued to her.
SO ORDERED.
On February 4, 1994, petitioner Rodolfo San Luis, one of the
children of Felicisimo by his first marriage, filed a motion to
dismiss 9 on the grounds of improper venue and failure to state a
cause of action. Rodolfo claimed that the petition for letters of
administration should have been filed in the Province of Laguna
because this was Felicisimos place of residence prior to his death.
He further claimed that respondent has no legal personality to file
the petition because she was only a mistress of Felicisimo since the Respondent moved for reconsideration 26 and for the
latter, at the time of his death, was still legally married to Merry disqualification 27 of Judge Arcangel but said motions were
Lee. denied. 28

On February 15, 1994, Linda invoked the same grounds and joined Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed and
her brother Rodolfo in seeking the dismissal 10of the petition. On set aside the orders of the trial court in its assailed Decision dated
February 28, 1994, the trial court issued an Order 11 denying the February 4, 1998, the dispositive portion of which states:
two motions to dismiss.
WHEREFORE, the Orders dated September 12, 1995 and January
Unaware of the denial of the motions to dismiss, respondent filed 31, 1996 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE; the Orders
on March 5, 1994 her opposition 12 thereto. She submitted dated February 28 and October 24, 1994 are REINSTATED; and
documentary evidence showing that while Felicisimo exercised the the records of the case is REMANDED to the trial court for further
powers of his public office in Laguna, he regularly went home to proceedings. 29
their house in New Alabang Village, Alabang, Metro Manila
which they bought sometime in 1982. Further, she presented the The appellante court ruled that under Section 1, Rule 73 of the
decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family Court of the First Rules of Court, the term "place of residence" of the decedent, for
Circuit, State of Hawaii to prove that the marriage of Felicisimo to purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate, refers
Merry Lee had already been dissolved. Thus, she claimed that to the personal, actual or physical habitation, or actual residence or
Felicisimo had the legal capacity to marry her by virtue of place of abode of a person as distinguished from legal residence or
paragraph 2, 13 Article 26 of the Family Code and the doctrine laid domicile. It noted that although Felicisimo discharged his
down in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 14 functions as governor in Laguna, he actually resided in Alabang,
Muntinlupa. Thus, the petition for letters of administration was
Thereafter, Linda, Rodolfo and herein petitioner Edgar San Luis, properly filed in Makati City.
separately filed motions for reconsideration from the Order
denying their motions to dismiss. 15 They asserted that paragraph 2, The Court of Appeals also held that Felicisimo had legal capacity
Article 26 of the Family Code cannot be given retroactive effect to to marry respondent by virtue of paragraph 2, Article 26 of the
validate respondents bigamous marriage with Felicisimo because Family Code and the rulings in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 30 and
this would impair vested rights in derogation of Article 256 16 of Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera. 31 It found that the marriage between
the Family Code. Felicisimo and Merry Lee was validly dissolved by virtue of the
decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family Court of the First
On April 21, 1994, Mila, another daughter of Felicisimo from his Circuit, State of Hawaii. As a result, under paragraph 2, Article 26,
first marriage, filed a motion to disqualify Acting Presiding Judge Felicisimo was capacitated to contract a subsequent marriage with
Anthony E. Santos from hearing the case. respondent. Thus

On October 24, 1994, the trial court issued an Order 17 denying the With the well-known rule express mandate of paragraph 2,
motions for reconsideration. It ruled that respondent, as widow of Article 26, of the Family Code of the Philippines, the doctrines in
the decedent, possessed the legal standing to file the petition and Van Dorn, Pilapil, and the reason and philosophy behind the
that venue was properly laid. Meanwhile, the motion for enactment of E.O. No. 227, there is no justiciable reason to
disqualification was deemed moot and academic 18 because then sustain the individual view sweeping statement of Judge
Acting Presiding Judge Santos was substituted by Judge Salvador Arc[h]angel, that "Article 26, par. 2 of the Family Code,
S. Tensuan pending the resolution of said motion. contravenes the basic policy of our state against divorce in any
form whatsoever." Indeed, courts cannot deny what the law grants.
Mila filed a motion for inhibition 19 against Judge Tensuan on All that the courts should do is to give force and effect to the
November 16, 1994. On even date, Edgar also filed a motion for express mandate of the law. The foreign divorce having
reconsideration 20 from the Order denying their motion for been obtained by the Foreigner on December 14, 1992, 32 the
reconsideration arguing that it does not state the facts and law on Filipino divorcee, "shall x x x have capacity to remarry under
which it was based. Philippine laws". For this reason, the marriage between the
deceased and petitioner should not be denominated as "a bigamous
On November 25, 1994, Judge Tensuan issued an Order 21 granting marriage.
the motion for inhibition. The case was re-raffled to Branch 134
presided by Judge Paul T. Arcangel. Therefore, under Article 130 of the Family Code, the petitioner as
the surviving spouse can institute the judicial proceeding for the
settlement of the estate of the deceased. x x x 33
On April 24, 1995, 22 the trial court required the parties to submit
their respective position papers on the twin issues of venue and
legal capacity of respondent to file the petition. On May 5, 1995, Edgar, Linda, and Rodolfo filed separate motions for
Edgar manifested 23 that he is adopting the arguments and evidence reconsideration 34 which were denied by the Court of Appeals.
set forth in his previous motion for reconsideration as his position
paper. Respondent and Rodolfo filed their position papers on June On July 2, 1998, Edgar appealed to this Court via the instant
14, 24 and June 20, 25 1995, respectively. petition for review on certiorari. 35 Rodolfo later filed a
manifestation and motion to adopt the said petition which was
On September 12, 1995, the trial court dismissed the petition for granted. 36
letters of administration. It held that, at the time of his death,
Felicisimo was the duly elected governor and a resident of the In the instant consolidated petitions, Edgar and Rodolfo insist that
Province of Laguna. Hence, the petition should have been filed in the venue of the subject petition for letters of administration was
Sta. Cruz, Laguna and not in Makati City. It also ruled that improperly laid because at the time of his death, Felicisimo was a
respondent was without legal capacity to file the petition for letters resident of Sta. Cruz, Laguna. They contend that pursuant to our
of administration because her marriage with Felicisimo was rulings in Nuval v. Guray 37 and Romualdez v. RTC, Br. 7,
bigamous, thus, void ab initio. It found that the decree of absolute Tacloban City, 38"residence" is synonymous with "domicile" which
divorce dissolving Felicisimos marriage to Merry Lee was not denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when absent, one
valid in the Philippines and did not bind Felicisimo who was a intends to return. They claim that a person can only have one
Filipino citizen. It also ruled that paragraph 2, Article 26 of the domicile at any given time. Since Felicisimo never changed his
Family Code cannot be retroactively applied because it would domicile, the petition for letters of administration should have been
impair the vested rights of Felicisimos legitimate children. filed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

Petitioners also contend that respondents marriage to Felicisimo


was void and bigamous because it was performed during the
subsistence of the latters marriage to Merry Lee. They argue that cards 49 stating that his home/city address is at "100 San Juanico,
paragraph 2, Article 26 cannot be retroactively applied because it Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa" while his office/provincial
would impair vested rights and ratify the void bigamous marriage. address is in "Provincial Capitol, Sta. Cruz, Laguna."
As such, respondent cannot be considered the surviving wife of
Felicisimo; hence, she has no legal capacity to file the petition for From the foregoing, we find that Felicisimo was a resident of
letters of administration. Alabang, Muntinlupa for purposes of fixing the venue of the
settlement of his estate. Consequently, the subject petition for
The issues for resolution: (1) whether venue was properly laid, and letters of administration was validly filed in the Regional Trial
(2) whether respondent has legal capacity to file the subject Court 50 which has territorial jurisdiction over Alabang,
petition for letters of administration. Muntinlupa. The subject petition was filed on December 17, 1993.
At that time, Muntinlupa was still a municipality and the branches
The petition lacks merit. of the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region
which had territorial jurisdiction over Muntinlupa were then seated
Under Section 1, 39 Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the petition for in Makati City as per Supreme Court Administrative Order No.
3. 51 Thus, the subject petition was validly filed before the
letters of administration of the estate of Felicisimo should be filed
Regional Trial Court of Makati City.
in the Regional Trial Court of the province "in which he resides at
the time of his death." In the case of Garcia Fule v. Court of
Appeals, 40 we laid down the doctrinal rule for determining the Anent the issue of respondent Felicidads legal personality to file
residence as contradistinguished from domicile of the decedent the petition for letters of administration, we must first resolve the
for purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate: issue of whether a Filipino who is divorced by his alien spouse
abroad may validly remarry under the Civil Code, considering that
Felicidads marriage to Felicisimo was solemnized on June 20,
[T]he term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as
1974, or before the Family Code took effect on August 3, 1988. In
distinguished from "legal residence or domicile." This term
"resides," like the terms "residing" and "residence," is elastic and resolving this issue, we need not retroactively apply the provisions
of the Family Code, particularly Art. 26, par. (2) considering that
should be interpreted in the light of the object or purpose of the
there is sufficient jurisprudential basis allowing us to rule in the
statute or rule in which it is employed. In the application of venue
affirmative.
statutes and rules Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of
Court is of such nature residence rather than domicile is the
significant factor. Even where the statute uses the word "domicile" The case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 52 involved a marriage
still it is construed as meaning residence and not domicile in the between a foreigner and his Filipino wife, which marriage was
technical sense. Some cases make a distinction between the terms subsequently dissolved through a divorce obtained abroad by the
"residence" and "domicile" but as generally used in statutes fixing latter. Claiming that the divorce was not valid under Philippine
venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning as law, the alien spouse alleged that his interest in the properties from
the term "inhabitant." In other words, "resides" should be viewed their conjugal partnership should be protected. The Court,
or understood in its popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or however, recognized the validity of the divorce and held that the
physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode. alien spouse had no interest in the properties acquired by the
It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In Filipino wife after the divorce. Thus:
this popular sense, the term means merely residence, that is,
personal residence, not legal residence or domicile. Residence In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private respondent
simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, from the marriage from the standards of American law, under
while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an which divorce dissolves the marriage. As stated by the Federal
intention to make it ones domicile. No particular length of time of Supreme Court of the United States in Atherton vs. Atherton, 45 L.
residence is required though; however, the residence must be more Ed. 794, 799:
than temporary. 41 (Emphasis supplied)
"The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce from the bond of
It is incorrect for petitioners to argue that "residence," for purposes matrimony by a competent jurisdiction are to change the existing
of fixing the venue of the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo, is status or domestic relation of husband and wife, and to free them
synonymous with "domicile." The rulings in Nuval and Romualdez both from the bond. The marriage tie, when thus severed as to one
are inapplicable to the instant case because they involve election party, ceases to bind either. A husband without a wife, or a wife
cases. Needless to say, there is a distinction between "residence" without a husband, is unknown to the law. When the law provides,
for purposes of election laws and "residence" for purposes of in the nature of a penalty, that the guilty party shall not marry
fixing the venue of actions. In election cases, "residence" and again, that party, as well as the other, is still absolutely freed from
"domicile" are treated as synonymous terms, that is, the fixed the bond of the former marriage."
permanent residence to which when absent, one has the intention
of returning. 42 However, for purposes of fixing venue under the Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer
Rules of Court, the "residence" of a person is his personal, actual the husband of petitioner. He would have no standing to sue in the
or physical habitation, or actual residence or place of abode, which case below as petitioners husband entitled to exercise control over
may not necessarily be his legal residence or domicile provided he conjugal assets. As he is bound by the Decision of his own
resides therein with continuity and consistency. 43 Hence, it is countrys Court, which validly exercised jurisdiction over him, and
possible that a person may have his residence in one place and whose decision he does not repudiate, he is estopped by his own
domicile in another. representation before said Court from asserting his right over the
alleged conjugal property. 53
In the instant case, while petitioners established that Felicisimo
was domiciled in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, respondent proved that he As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the Court ruled
also maintained a residence in Alabang, Muntinlupa from 1982 up that she should no longer be considered married to the alien
to the time of his death. Respondent submitted in evidence the spouse. Further, she should not be required to perform her marital
Deed of Absolute Sale 44 dated January 5, 1983 showing that the duties and obligations. It held:
deceased purchased the aforesaid property. She also presented
billing statements 45 from the Philippine Heart Center and Chinese
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws,
General Hospital for the period August to December 1992
petitioner has to be considered still marriedto private
indicating the address of Felicisimo at "100 San Juanico, Ayala
respondent and still subject to a wife's obligations under
Alabang, Muntinlupa." Respondent also presented proof of Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil Code cannot be just. Petitioner
membership of the deceased in the Ayala Alabang Village
should not be obliged to live together with, observe respect and
Association 46 and Ayala Country Club, Inc., 47 letter-
fidelity, and render support to private respondent. The latter should
envelopes 48 from 1988 to 1990 sent by the deceaseds children to
not continue to be one of her heirs with possible rights to conjugal
him at his Alabang address, and the deceaseds calling
property. She should not be discriminated against in her own
country if the ends of justice are to be served.54 (Emphasis involved a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner.
added) The Court held therein that a divorce decree validly obtained
by the alien spouse is valid in the Philippines, and
This principle was thereafter applied in Pilapil v. Ibay- consequently, the Filipino spouse is capacitated to remarry
Somera 55 where the Court recognized the validity of a divorce under Philippine law. 63 (Emphasis added)
obtained abroad. In the said case, it was held that the alien spouse
is not a proper party in filing the adultery suit against his Filipino As such, the Van Dorn case is sufficient basis in resolving a
wife. The Court stated that "the severance of the marital bond had situation where a divorce is validly obtained abroad by the alien
the effect of dissociating the former spouses from each spouse. With the enactment of the Family Code and paragraph 2,
other, hence the actuations of one would not affect or cast obloquy Article 26 thereof, our lawmakers codified the law already
on the other." 56 established through judicial precedent.1awphi1.net

Likewise, in Quita v. Court of Appeals, 57 the Court stated that Indeed, when the object of a marriage is defeated by rendering its
where a Filipino is divorced by his naturalized foreign spouse, the continuance intolerable to one of the parties and productive of no
ruling in Van Dorn applies. 58 Although decided on December 22, possible good to the community, relief in some way should be
1998, the divorce in the said case was obtained in 1954 when the obtainable. 64 Marriage, being a mutual and shared commitment
Civil Code provisions were still in effect. between two parties, cannot possibly be productive of any good to
the society where one is considered released from the marital bond
The significance of the Van Dorn case to the development of while the other remains bound to it. Such is the state of affairs
limited recognition of divorce in the Philippines cannot be denied. where the alien spouse obtains a valid divorce abroad against the
The ruling has long been interpreted as severing marital ties Filipino spouse, as in this case.
between parties in a mixed marriage and capacitating the Filipino
spouse to remarry as a necessary consequence of upholding the Petitioners cite Articles 15 65 and 17 66 of the Civil Code in stating
validity of a divorce obtained abroad by the alien spouse. In his that the divorce is void under Philippine law insofar as Filipinos
treatise, Dr. Arturo M. Tolentino cited Van Dorn stating that "if the are concerned. However, in light of this Courts rulings in the
foreigner obtains a valid foreign divorce, the Filipino spouse shall cases discussed above, the Filipino spouse should not be
have capacity to remarry under Philippine law." 59In Garcia v. discriminated against in his own country if the ends of justice are
Recio, 60 the Court likewise cited the aforementioned case in to be served. 67 In Alonzo v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 68 the
relation to Article 26. 61 Court stated:

In the recent case of Republic v. Orbecido III, 62 the historical But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law by its results;
background and legislative intent behind paragraph 2, Article 26 of and likewise, we may add, by its purposes. It is a cardinal rule that,
the Family Code were discussed, to wit: in seeking the meaning of the law, the first concern of the judge
should be to discover in its provisions the intent of the lawmaker.
Brief Historical Background Unquestionably, the law should never be interpreted in such a way
as to cause injustice as this is never within the legislative intent.
An indispensable part of that intent, in fact, for we presume the
On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law
good motives of the legislature, is to render justice.
Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the "Family Code,"
which took effect on August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states:
Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in
consonance with justice. Law and justice are inseparable, and we
All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance
must keep them so. To be sure, there are some laws that, while
with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized,
generally valid, may seem arbitrary when applied in a particular
and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except
those prohibited under Articles 35, 37, and 38. case because of its peculiar circumstances. In such a situation, we
are not bound, because only of our nature and functions, to apply
them just the same, in slavish obedience to their language. What
On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family we do instead is find a balance between the word and the will, that
Code, Executive Order No. 227 was likewise signed into law, justice may be done even as the law is obeyed.
amending Articles 26, 36, and 39 of the Family Code. A second
paragraph was added to Article 26. As so amended, it now
As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and must not
provides:
unfeelingly apply the law as it is worded, yielding like robots to
the literal command without regard to its cause and consequence.
ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in "Courts are apt to err by sticking too closely to the words of a
accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were law," so we are warned, by Justice Holmes again, "where these
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this words import a policy that goes beyond them."
country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and
(6), 36, 37 and 38.
xxxx
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is
validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined justice "as the
constant and perpetual wish to render every one his due." That
abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the
wish continues to motivate this Court when it assesses the facts
Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine
and the law in every case brought to it for decision. Justice is
law. (Emphasis supplied)
always an essential ingredient of its decisions. Thus when the facts
warrants, we interpret the law in a way that will render justice,
xxxx presuming that it was the intention of the lawmaker, to begin with,
Legislative Intent that the law be dispensed with justice. 69

Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the divorce decree
showed that the intent of Paragraph 2 of Article 26, according to allegedly obtained by Merry Lee which absolutely allowed
Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a member of the Civil Code Revision Felicisimo to remarry, would have vested Felicidad with the legal
Committee, is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino personality to file the present petition as Felicisimos surviving
spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a spouse. However, the records show that there is insufficient
divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. evidence to prove the validity of the divorce obtained by Merry
Lee as well as the marriage of respondent and Felicisimo under the
Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia v. Recio, 70 the Court laid down the
1985 case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. The Van Dorn case specific guidelines for pleading and proving foreign law and
divorce judgments. It held that presentation solely of the divorce The regime of limited co-ownership of property governing the
decree is insufficient and that proof of its authenticity and due union of parties who are not legally capacitated to marry each
execution must be presented. Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule other, but who nonetheless live together as husband and wife,
132, a writing or document may be proven as a public or official applies to properties acquired during said cohabitation in
record of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication or proportion to their respective contributions. Co-ownership will
(2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having legal custody of only be up to the extent of the proven actual contribution of
the document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such money, property or industry. Absent proof of the extent thereof,
copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper their contributions and corresponding shares shall be presumed to
diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service be equal.
stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b)
authenticated by the seal of his office. 71 xxxx

With regard to respondents marriage to Felicisimo allegedly In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, which
solemnized in California, U.S.A., she submitted photocopies of the involved the issue of co-ownership of properties acquired by the
Marriage Certificate and the annotated text 72 of the Family Law parties to a bigamous marriage and an adulterous relationship,
Act of California which purportedly show that their marriage was respectively, we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the
done in accordance with the said law. As stated acquisition of the property is essential. x x x
in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take judicial notice of
foreign laws as they must be alleged and proved. 73 As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party
who, as determined by the pleadings or the nature of the case,
Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial court for asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions must be proved by
further reception of evidence on the divorce decree obtained by competent evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of the
Merry Lee and the marriage of respondent and Felicisimo. partys own evidence and not upon the weakness of the opponents
defense. x x x 81
Even assuming that Felicisimo was not capacitated to marry
respondent in 1974, nevertheless, we find that the latter has the In view of the foregoing, we find that respondents legal capacity
legal personality to file the subject petition for letters of to file the subject petition for letters of administration may arise
administration, as she may be considered the co-owner of from her status as the surviving wife of Felicisimo or as his co-
Felicisimo as regards the properties that were acquired through owner under Article 144 of the Civil Code or Article 148 of the
their joint efforts during their cohabitation. Family Code.

Section 6, 74 Rule 78 of the Rules of Court states that letters of WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court
administration may be granted to the surviving spouse of the of Appeals reinstating and affirming the February 28, 1994 Order
decedent. However, Section 2, Rule 79 thereof also provides in of the Regional Trial Court which denied petitioners motion to
part: dismiss and its October 24, 1994 Order which dismissed
petitioners motion for reconsideration is AFFIRMED. Let this
SEC. 2. Contents of petition for letters of administration. A case be REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings.
petition for letters of administration must be filed by an interested
person and must show, as far as known to the petitioner: x x x. SO ORDERED.

An "interested person" has been defined as one who would be THIRD DIVISION
benefited by the estate, such as an heir, or one who has a claim
against the estate, such as a creditor. The interest must be material
G.R. No. 186571 August 11, 2010
and direct, and not merely indirect or contingent. 75
GERBERT R. CORPUZ, Petitioner,
In the instant case, respondent would qualify as an interested
vs.
person who has a direct interest in the estate of Felicisimo by
DAISYLYN TIROL STO. TOMAS and The SOLICITOR
virtue of their cohabitation, the existence of which was not denied GENERAL, Respondents.
by petitioners. If she proves the validity of the divorce and
Felicisimos capacity to remarry, but fails to prove that her
marriage with him was validly performed under the laws of the DECISION
U.S.A., then she may be considered as a co-owner under Article
144 76 of the Civil Code. This provision governs the property BRION, J.:
relations between parties who live together as husband and wife
without the benefit of marriage, or their marriage is void from the Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision1 of the
beginning. It provides that the property acquired by either or both Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via
of them through their work or industry or their wages and salaries a petition for review on certiorari2 under Rule 45 of the Rules of
shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership. In a co-ownership, Court (present petition).
it is not necessary that the property be acquired through their joint
labor, efforts and industry. Any property acquired during the union Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen who
is prima facie presumed to have been obtained through their joint acquired Canadian citizenship through naturalization on November
efforts. Hence, the portions belonging to the co-owners shall be 29, 2000.3 On January 18, 2005, Gerbert married respondent
presumed equal, unless the contrary is proven. 77 Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a Filipina, in Pasig City.4 Due to work
and other professional commitments, Gerbert left for Canada soon
Meanwhile, if respondent fails to prove the validity of both the after the wedding. He returned to the Philippines sometime in
divorce and the marriage, the applicable provision would be April 2005 to surprise Daisylyn, but was shocked to discover that
Article 148 of the Family Code which has filled the hiatus in his wife was having an affair with another man. Hurt and
Article 144 of the Civil Code by expressly regulating the property disappointed, Gerbert returned to Canada and filed a petition for
relations of couples living together as husband and wife but are divorce. The Superior Court of Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
incapacitated to marry. 78 In Saguid v. Court of Appeals, 79 we held granted Gerberts petition for divorce on December 8, 2005. The
that even if the cohabitation or the acquisition of property occurred divorce decree took effect a month later, on January 8, 2006.5
before the Family Code took effect, Article 148 governs. 80 The
Court described the property regime under this provision as Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has found
follows: another Filipina to love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina
fiance in the Philippines, Gerbert went to the Pasig City Civil
Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree on his
and Daisylyns marriage certificate. Despite the registration of the THE COURTS RULING
divorce decree, an official of the National Statistics Office (NSO)
informed Gerbert that the marriage between him and Daisylyn still The alien spouse can claim no right under the second paragraph of
subsists under Philippine law; to be enforceable, the foreign Article 26 of the Family Code as the substantive right it establishes
divorce decree must first be judicially recognized by a competent is in favor of the Filipino spouse
Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982.6
The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative
Accordingly, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of history and intent behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
foreign divorce and/or declaration of marriage as dissolved Family Code.
(petition) with the RTC. Although summoned, Daisylyn did not
file any responsive pleading but submitted instead a notarized
The Family Code recognizes only two types of defective marriages
letter/manifestation to the trial court. She offered no opposition to
void15 and voidable16 marriages. In both cases, the basis for the
Gerberts petition and, in fact, alleged her desire to file a similar judicial declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of the
case herself but was prevented by financial and personal marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage. Divorce, on
circumstances. She, thus, requested that she be considered as a
the other hand, contemplates the dissolution of the lawful union for
party-in-interest with a similar prayer to Gerberts.
cause arising after the marriage.17 Our family laws do not
recognize absolute divorce between Filipino citizens.18
In its October 30, 2008 decision,7 the RTC denied Gerberts
petition. The RTC concluded that Gerbert was not the proper party Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages
to institute the action for judicial recognition of the foreign divorce
between a Filipino and an alien, President Corazon C. Aquino, in
decree as he is a naturalized Canadian citizen. It ruled that only the
the exercise of her legislative powers under the Freedom
Filipino spouse can avail of the remedy, under the second
Constitution,19 enacted Executive Order No. (EO) 227, amending
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, 8 in order for him or
Article 26 of the Family Code to its present wording, as follows:
her to be able to remarry under Philippine law.9 Article 26 of the
Family Code reads:
Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in
accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were
Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this
accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this (6), 36, 37 and 38.
country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and
(6), 36, 37 and 38.
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is
validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the
validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under
abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the
Philippine law.
Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under
Philippine law.
Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,
EO 227 effectively incorporated into the law this Courts holding
This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.20 and Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera.21 In both
intent behind the enactment of the second paragraph of Article 26
cases, the Court refused to acknowledge the alien spouses
of the Family Code, as determined by the Court in Republic v.
assertion of marital rights after a foreign courts divorce decree
Orbecido III;10 the provision was enacted to "avoid the absurd
between the alien and the Filipino. The Court, thus, recognized that
situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien
the foreign divorce had already severed the marital bond between
spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the the spouses. The Court reasoned in Van Dorn v. Romillo that:
Filipino spouse."11
To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the Filipino spouse] has to
THE PETITION
be considered still married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to
a wife's obligations x x x cannot be just. [The Filipino spouse]
From the RTCs ruling,12 Gerbert filed the present petition.13 should not be obliged to live together with, observe respect and
fidelity, and render support to [the alien spouse]. The latter should
Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially for not continue to be one of her heirs with possible rights to conjugal
declaratory relief, similar to that filed in Orbecido; he, thus, property. She should not be discriminated against in her own
similarly asks for a determination of his rights under the second country if the ends of justice are to be served.22
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. Taking into account
the rationale behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in the law
Family Code, he contends that the provision applies as well to the "to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains
benefit of the alien spouse. He claims that the RTC ruling unduly married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no
stretched the doctrine in Orbecido by limiting the standing to file longer married to the Filipino spouse." 23 The legislative intent is
the petition only to the Filipino spouse an interpretation he for the benefit of the Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her
claims to be contrary to the essence of the second paragraph of marital status, settling the doubts created by the divorce decree.
Article 26 of the Family Code. He considers himself as a proper Essentially, the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code
party, vested with sufficient legal interest, to institute the case, as provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to have his or her
there is a possibility that he might be prosecuted for bigamy if he marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating
marries his Filipina fiance in the Philippines since two marriage him or her to remarry.24 Without the second paragraph of Article
certificates, involving him, would be on file with the Civil Registry 26 of the Family Code, the judicial recognition of the foreign
Office. The Office of the Solicitor General and Daisylyn, in their decree of divorce, whether in a proceeding instituted precisely for
respective Comments,14 both support Gerberts position. that purpose or as a related issue in another proceeding, would be
of no significance to the Filipino spouse since our laws do not
Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital bond;25 Article
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code extends to aliens the 17 of the Civil Code provides that the policy against absolute
right to petition a court of this jurisdiction for the recognition of a divorces cannot be subverted by judgments promulgated in a
foreign divorce decree. foreign country. The inclusion of the second paragraph in Article
26 of the Family Code provides the direct exception to this rule
and serves as basis for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage
between the Filipino spouse and his or her alien spouse.
Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article In Gerberts case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the
26 of the Family Code is not limited to the recognition of the national law of the alien, recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a
foreign divorce decree. If the court finds that the decree divorce, purport to be official acts of a sovereign authority, Section
capacitated the alien spouse to remarry, the courts can declare that 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court comes into play. This Section
the Filipino spouse is likewise capacitated to contract another requires proof, either by (1) official publications or (2) copies
marriage. No court in this jurisdiction, however, can make a attested by the officer having legal custody of the documents. If the
similar declaration for the alien spouse (other than that already copies of official records are not kept in the Philippines, these must
established by the decree), whose status and legal capacity are be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic
generally governed by his national law. 26 or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the
foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated
Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the by the seal of his office.
purpose of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,
the RTC was correct in limiting the applicability of the provision The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a copy of the
for the benefit of the Filipino spouse. In other words, only the divorce decree, as well as the required certificates proving its
Filipino spouse can invoke the second paragraph of Article 26 of authenticity,30 but failed to include a copy of the Canadian law on
the Family Code; the alien spouse can claim no right under this divorce.31 Under this situation, we can, at this point, simply
provision. dismiss the petition for insufficiency of supporting evidence,
unless we deem it more appropriate to remand the case to the RTC
The foreign divorce decree is presumptive evidence of a right that to determine whether the divorce decree is consistent with the
clothes the party with legal interest to petition for its recognition in Canadian divorce law.
this jurisdiction
We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of action,
We qualify our above conclusion i.e., that the second paragraph given the Article 26 interests that will be served and the Filipina
of Article 26 of the Family Code bestows no rights in favor of wifes (Daisylyns) obvious conformity with the petition. A
aliens with the complementary statement that this conclusion is remand, at the same time, will allow other interested parties to
not sufficient basis to dismiss Gerberts petition before the RTC. In oppose the foreign judgment and overcome a petitioners
other words, the unavailability of the second paragraph of Article presumptive evidence of a right by proving want of jurisdiction,
26 of the Family Code to aliens does not necessarily strip Gerbert want of notice to a party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law
of legal interest to petition the RTC for the recognition of his or fact. Needless to state, every precaution must be taken to ensure
foreign divorce decree. The foreign divorce decree itself, after its conformity with our laws before a recognition is made, as the
authenticity and conformity with the aliens national law have been foreign judgment, once recognized, shall have the effect of res
duly proven according to our rules of evidence, serves as a judicata32 between the parties, as provided in Section 48, Rule 39
presumptive evidence of right in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to of the Rules of Court.33
Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which provides for the
effect of foreign judgments. This Section states: In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the
practice of reciprocal recognition of foreign judgments between
SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders.The effect nations, the res judicata effect of the foreign judgments of divorce
of a judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, serves as the deeper basis for extending judicial recognition and for
having jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as considering the alien spouse bound by its terms. This same effect,
follows: as discussed above, will not obtain for the Filipino spouse were it
not for the substantive rule that the second paragraph of Article 26
of the Family Code provides.
(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific
thing, the judgment or final order is conclusive upon the
title of the thing; and Considerations beyond the recognition of the foreign divorce
decree
(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person,
the judgment or final order is presumptive evidence of a As a matter of "housekeeping" concern, we note that the Pasig City
right as between the parties and their successors in Civil Registry Office has already recorded the divorce decree on
interest by a subsequent title. Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage certificate based on the mere
presentation of the decree.34 We consider the recording to be
legally improper; hence, the need to draw attention of the bench
In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by
and the bar to what had been done.
evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party,
collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
Article 407 of the Civil Code states that "[a]cts, events and judicial
To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign decrees concerning the civil status of persons shall be recorded in
the civil register." The law requires the entry in the civil registry of
judgment is sufficient to clothe a party with the requisite interest to
judicial decrees that produce legal consequences touching upon a
institute an action before our courts for the recognition of the
persons legal capacity and status, i.e., those affecting "all his
foreign judgment. In a divorce situation, we have declared, no less,
personal qualities and relations, more or less permanent in nature,
that the divorce obtained by an alien abroad may be recognized in
the Philippines, provided the divorce is valid according to his or not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being
her national law.27 legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not." 35

A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign one,


The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment
affecting a persons legal capacity and status that must be
is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of
foreign judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a recorded. In fact, Act No. 3753 or the Law on Registry of Civil
rule, "no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a Status specifically requires the registration of divorce decrees in
the civil registry:
judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country." 28 This means
that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as
facts under our rules on evidence, together with the aliens Sec. 1. Civil Register. A civil register is established for recording
applicable national law to show the effect of the judgment on the the civil status of persons, in which shall be entered:
alien himself or herself.29 The recognition may be made in an
action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action (a) births;
where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of
his claim or defense. (b) deaths;
(c) marriages; be made parties to the proceedings;39and that the time and place for
hearing must be published in a newspaper of general
(d) annulments of marriages; circulation.40 As these basic jurisdictional requirements have not
been met in the present case, we cannot consider the petition
Gerbert filed with the RTC as one filed under Rule 108 of the
(e) divorces;
Rules of Court.
(f) legitimations;
We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be
construed as requiring two separate proceedings for the registration
(g) adoptions; of a foreign divorce decree in the civil registry one for
recognition of the foreign decree and another specifically for
(h) acknowledgment of natural children; cancellation of the entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The
recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule
(i) naturalization; and 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as
that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the
(j) changes of name. status or right of a party or a particular fact. Moreover, Rule 108 of
the Rules of Court can serve as the appropriate adversarial
proceeding41 by which the applicability of the foreign judgment
xxxx
can be measured and tested in terms of jurisdictional infirmities,
want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law
Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. The local registrars shall keep and or fact.
preserve in their offices the following books, in which they shall,
respectively make the proper entries concerning the civil status of
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition for review on certiorari,
persons:
and REVERSE the October 30, 2008 decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Laoag City, Branch 11, as well as its February 17,
(1) Birth and death register; 2009 order. We order the REMAND of the case to the trial court
for further proceedings in accordance with our ruling above. Let a
(2) Marriage register, in which shall be entered not only copy of this Decision be furnished the Civil Registrar General. No
the marriages solemnized but also divorces and dissolved costs.
marriages.
SO ORDERED.
(3) Legitimation, acknowledgment, adoption, change of
name and naturalization register.

But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the THIRD DIVISION
civil registry, the law and the submission of the decree by
themselves do not ipso facto authorize the decrees registration.
G.R. No. 138322 October 2, 2001
The law should be read in relation with the requirement of a
judicial recognition of the foreign judgment before it can be given
res judicata effect. In the context of the present case, no judicial GRACE J. GARCIA, a.k.a. GRACE J. GARCIA-
order as yet exists recognizing the foreign divorce decree. Thus, RECIO, petitioner,
the Pasig City Civil Registry Office acted totally out of turn and vs.
without authority of law when it annotated the Canadian divorce REDERICK A. RECIO, respondents.
decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage certificate, on the
strength alone of the foreign decree presented by Gerbert. PANGANIBAN, J.:

Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of the A divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be recognized in our
requirement of a court recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4, jurisdiction, provided such decree is valid according to the national
series of 1982,36 and Department of Justice Opinion No. 181, law of the foreigner. However, the divorce decree and the
series of 198237 both of which required a final order from a governing personal law of the alien spouse who obtained the
competent Philippine court before a foreign judgment, dissolving a divorce must be proven. Our courts do not take judicial notice of
marriage, can be registered in the civil registry, but it, nonetheless, foreign laws and judgment; hence, like any other facts, both the
allowed the registration of the decree. For being contrary to law, divorce decree and the national law of the alien must be alleged
the registration of the foreign divorce decree without the requisite and proven according to our law on evidence.
judicial recognition is patently void and cannot produce any legal
effect.1avvphi1 The Case

Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the recognition Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of
that the RTC may extend to the Canadian divorce decree does not, Court, seeking to nullify the January 7, 1999 Decision1 and the
by itself, authorize the cancellation of the entry in the civil registry. March 24, 1999 Order2 of the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan
A petition for recognition of a foreign judgment is not the proper City, Branch 28, in Civil Case No. 3026-AF. The assailed Decision
proceeding, contemplated under the Rules of Court, for the disposed as follows:
cancellation of entries in the civil registry.
"WHEREFORE, this Court declares the marriage between
Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that "no entry in a civil Grace J. Garcia and Rederick A. Recio solemnized on
register shall be changed or corrected, without judicial order." The January 12, 1994 at Cabanatuan City as dissolved and
Rules of Court supplements Article 412 of the Civil Code by both parties can now remarry under existing and
specifically providing for a special remedial proceeding by which applicable laws to any and/or both parties." 3
entries in the civil registry may be judicially cancelled or
corrected. Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets in detail the The assailed Order denied reconsideration of the above-quoted
jurisdictional and procedural requirements that must be complied Decision.
with before a judgment, authorizing the cancellation or correction,
may be annotated in the civil registry. It also requires, among
others, that the verified petition must be filed with the RTC of the
province where the corresponding civil registry is located;38that the
civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest must
The Facts "2

Rederick A. Recio, a Filipino, was married to Editha Samson, an The failure of the respondent, who is now a naturalized
Australian citizen, in Malabon, Rizal, on March 1, 1987. 4 They Australian, to present a certificate of legal capacity to
lived together as husband and wife in Australia. On May 18, marry constitutes absence of a substantial requisite
1989,5 a decree of divorce, purportedly dissolving the marriage, voiding the petitioner' marriage to the respondent.
was issued by an Australian family court.
"3
On June 26, 1992, respondent became an Australian citizen, as
shown by a "Certificate of Australian Citizenship" issued by the The trial court seriously erred in the application of Art. 26
Australian government.6 Petitioner a Filipina and respondent of the Family Code in this case.
were married on January 12, 1994 in Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Church in Cabanatuan City.7 In their application for a marriage "4
license, respondent was declared as "single" and "Filipino."8
The trial court patently and grievously erred in
Starting October 22, 1995, petitioner and respondent lived
disregarding Arts. 11, 13, 21, 35, 40, 52 and 53 of the
separately without prior judicial dissolution of their marriage. Family Code as the applicable provisions in this case.
While the two were still in Australia, their conjugal assets were
divided on May 16, 1996, in accordance with their Statutory
Declarations secured in Australia.9 "5

On March 3, 1998, petitioner filed a Complaint for Declaration of The trial court gravely erred in pronouncing that the
Nullity of Marriage10 in the court a quo, on the ground of bigamy divorce gravely erred in pronouncing that the divorce
respondent allegedly had a prior subsisting marriage at the time he decree obtained by the respondent in Australia ipso
married her on January 12, 1994. She claimed that she learned of facto capacitated the parties to remarry, without first
respondent's marriage to Editha Samson only in November, 1997. securing a recognition of the judgment granting the
divorce decree before our courts." 19
In his Answer, respondent averred that, as far back as 1993, he had
revealed to petitioner his prior marriage and its subsequent The Petition raises five issues, but for purposes of this Decision,
dissolution.11 He contended that his first marriage to an Australian we shall concentrate on two pivotal ones: (1) whether the divorce
citizen had been validly dissolved by a divorce decree obtained in between respondent and Editha Samson was proven, and (2)
Australian in 1989;12 thus, he was legally capacitated to marry whether respondent was proven to be legally capacitated to marry
petitioner in 1994.1wphi1.nt petitioner. Because of our ruling on these two, there is no more
necessity to take up the rest.
On July 7, 1998 or about five years after the couple's wedding
and while the suit for the declaration of nullity was pending The Court's Ruling
respondent was able to secure a divorce decree from a family court
in Sydney, Australia because the "marriage ha[d] irretrievably The Petition is partly meritorious.
broken down."13
First Issue:
Respondent prayed in his Answer that the Complained be
dismissed on the ground that it stated no cause of action. 14 The Proving the Divorce Between Respondent and Editha Samson
Office of the Solicitor General agreed with respondent. 15 The court
marked and admitted the documentary evidence of both Petitioner assails the trial court's recognition of the divorce
parties.16 After they submitted their respective memoranda, the between respondent and Editha Samson. Citing Adong v. Cheong
case was submitted for resolution.17 Seng Gee,20 petitioner argues that the divorce decree, like any other
foreign judgment, may be given recognition in this jurisdiction
Thereafter, the trial court rendered the assailed Decision and only upon proof of the existence of (1) the foreign law allowing
Order. absolute divorce and (2) the alleged divorce decree itself. She adds
that respondent miserably failed to establish these elements.
Ruling of the Trial Court
Petitioner adds that, based on the first paragraph of Article 26 of
The trial court declared the marriage dissolved on the ground that the Family Code, marriages solemnized abroad are governed by
the divorce issued in Australia was valid and recognized in the the law of the place where they were celebrated (the lex loci
Philippines. It deemed the marriage ended, but not on the basis of celebrationist). In effect, the Code requires the presentation of the
any defect in an essential element of the marriage; that foreign law to show the conformity of the marriage in question to
is, respondent's alleged lack of legal capacity to remarry. Rather, the legal requirements of the place where the marriage was
it based its Decision on the divorce decree obtained by respondent. performed.
The Australian divorce had ended the marriage; thus, there was no
more martial union to nullify or annual. At the outset, we lay the following basic legal principles as the
take-off points for our discussion. Philippine law does not provide
Hence, this Petition.18 for absolute divorce; hence, our courts cannot grant it.21 A
marriage between two Filipinos cannot be dissolved even by a
Issues divorce obtained abroad, because of Articles 15 22 and 1723 of the
Civil Code.24 In mixed marriages involving a Filipino and a
foreigner, Article 2625 of the Family Code allows the former to
Petitioner submits the following issues for our consideration: contract a subsequent marriage in case the divorce is "validly
obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to
"I remarry."26 A divorce obtained abroad by a couple, who are both
aliens, may be recognized in the Philippines, provided it is
The trial court gravely erred in finding that the divorce consistent with their respective national laws.27
decree obtained in Australia by the respondent ipso
facto terminated his first marriage to Editha Samson A comparison between marriage and divorce, as far as pleading
thereby capacitating him to contract a second marriage and proof are concerned, can be made. Van Dorn v. Romillo
with the petitioner. Jr. decrees that "aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be
recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to accorded weight by the judge. Indeed, petitioner's failure to object
their national law."28 Therefore, before a foreign divorce decree properly rendered the divorce decree admissible as a written act of
can be recognized by our courts, the party pleading it must prove the Family Court of Sydney, Australia.38
the divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign
law allowing it.29 Presentation solely of the divorce decree is Compliance with the quoted articles (11, 13 and 52) of the Family
insufficient. Code is not necessary; respondent was no longer bound by
Philippine personal laws after he acquired Australian citizenship in
Divorce as a Question of Fact 1992.39 Naturalization is the legal act of adopting an alien and
clothing him with the political and civil rights belonging to a
Petitioner insists that before a divorce decree can be admitted in citizen.40 Naturalized citizens, freed from the protective cloak of
evidence, it must first comply with the registration requirements their former states, don the attires of their adoptive countries. By
under Articles 11, 13 and 52 of the Family Code. These articles becoming an Australian, respondent severed his allegiance to the
read as follows: Philippines and the vinculum juris that had tied him to Philippine
personal laws.
"ART. 11. Where a marriage license is required, each of
the contracting parties shall file separately a sworn Burden of Proving Australian Law
application for such license with the proper local civil
registrar which shall specify the following: Respondent contends that the burden to prove Australian divorce
law falls upon petitioner, because she is the party challenging the
xxx xxx xxx validity of a foreign judgment. He contends that petitioner was
satisfied with the original of the divorce decree and was cognizant
of the marital laws of Australia, because she had lived and worked
"(5) If previously married, how, when and where the
previous marriage was dissolved or annulled; in that country for quite a long time. Besides, the Australian
divorce law is allegedly known by Philippine courts: thus, judges
may take judicial notice of foreign laws in the exercise of sound
xxx xxx xxx discretion.

"ART. 13. In case either of the contracting parties has We are not persuaded. The burden of proof lies with "the party
been previously married, the applicant shall be required to who alleges the existence of a fact or thing necessary in the
furnish, instead of the birth of baptismal certificate prosecution or defense of an action." 41 In civil cases, plaintiffs
required in the last preceding article, the death certificate have the burden of proving the material allegations of the
of the deceased spouse or the judicial decree of annulment complaint when those are denied by the answer; and defendants
or declaration of nullity of his or her previous marriage. x have the burden of proving the material allegations in their answer
x x. when they introduce new matters.42 Since the divorce was a
defense raised by respondent, the burden of proving the pertinent
"ART. 52. The judgment of annulment or of absolute Australian law validating it falls squarely upon him.
nullity of the marriage, the partition and distribution of
the properties of the spouses, and the delivery of the It is well-settled in our jurisdiction that our courts cannot take
children's presumptive legitimes shall be recorded in the judicial notice of foreign laws.43 Like any other facts, they must be
appropriate civil registry and registries of property; alleged and proved. Australian marital laws are not among those
otherwise, the same shall not affect their persons." matters that judges are supposed to know by reason of their
judicial function.44 The power of judicial notice must be exercised
Respondent, on the other hand, argues that the Australian divorce with caution, and every reasonable doubt upon the subject should
decree is a public document a written official act of an Australian be resolved in the negative.
family court. Therefore, it requires no further proof of its
authenticity and due execution. Second Issue:

Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before a foreign judgment Respondent's Legal Capacity to Remarry
is given presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be
presented and admitted in evidence.30 A divorce obtained abroad is
Petitioner contends that, in view of the insufficient proof of the
proven by the divorce decree itself. Indeed the best evidence of a
divorce, respondent was legally incapacitated to marry her in 1994.
judgment is the judgment itself.31 The decree purports to be a
written act or record of an act of an officially body or tribunal of a
foreign country.32 Hence, she concludes that their marriage was void ab initio.

Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other hand, a writing Respondent replies that the Australian divorce decree, which was
or document may be proven as a public or official record of a validly admitted in evidence, adequately established his legal
foreign country by either (1) an official publication or (2) a copy capacity to marry under Australian law.
thereof attested33 by the officer having legal custody of the
document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy Respondent's contention is untenable. In its strict legal
must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper sense, divorce means the legal dissolution of a lawful union for a
diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service cause arising after marriage. But divorces are of different types.
stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) The two basic ones are (1) absolute divorce or a vinculo
authenticated by the seal of his office.34 matrimonii and (2) limited divorce or a mensa et thoro. The first
kind terminates the marriage, while the second suspends it and
The divorce decree between respondent and Editha Samson leaves the bond in full force.45 There is no showing in the case at
appears to be an authentic one issued by an Australian family bar which type of divorce was procured by respondent.
court.35 However, appearance is not sufficient; compliance with the
aforemetioned rules on evidence must be demonstrated. Respondent presented a decree nisi or an interlocutory decree a
conditional or provisional judgment of divorce. It is in effect the
Fortunately for respondent's cause, when the divorce decree of same as a separation from bed and board, although an absolute
May 18, 1989 was submitted in evidence, counsel for petitioner divorce may follow after the lapse of the prescribed period during
objected, not to its admissibility, but only to the fact that it had not which no reconciliation is effected.46
been registered in the Local Civil Registry of Cabanatuan
City.36 The trial court ruled that it was admissible, subject to Even after the divorce becomes absolute, the court may under
petitioner's qualification.37Hence, it was admitted in evidence and some foreign statutes and practices, still restrict remarriage. Under
some other jurisdictions, remarriage may be limited by statute; turn out that under Australian law, he was really capacitated to
thus, the guilty party in a divorce which was granted on the ground marry petitioner as a direct result of the divorce decree. Hence, we
of adultery may be prohibited from remarrying again. The court believe that the most judicious course is to remand this case to the
may allow a remarriage only after proof of good behavior. 47 trial court to receive evidence, if any, which show petitioner's legal
capacity to marry petitioner. Failing in that, then the court a
On its face, the herein Australian divorce decree contains a quo may declare a nullity of the parties' marriage on the ground of
restriction that reads: bigamy, there being already in evidence two existing marriage
certificates, which were both obtained in the Philippines, one in
"1. A party to a marriage who marries again before this Malabon, Metro Manila dated March 1, 1987 and the other, in
Cabanatuan City dated January 12, 1994.
decree becomes absolute (unless the other party has died)
commits the offence of bigamy." 48
WHEREFORE, in the interest of orderly procedure and substantial
This quotation bolsters our contention that the divorce obtained by justice, we REMAND the case to the court a quofor the purpose of
respondent may have been restricted. It did not absolutely establish receiving evidence which conclusively show respondent's legal
capacity to marry petitioner; and failing in that, of declaring the
his legal capacity to remarry according to his national law. Hence,
parties' marriage void on the ground of bigamy, as above
we find no basis for the ruling of the trial court, which erroneously
discussed. No costs.
assumed that the Australian divorce ipso facto restored
respondent's capacity to remarry despite the paucity of evidence on
this matter. SO ORDERED.

We also reject the claim of respondent that the divorce decree


raises a disputable presumption or presumptive evidence as to his
civil status based on Section 48, Rule 3949 of the Rules of Court, G.R. No. 215723
for the simple reason that no proof has been presented on the legal
effects of the divorce decree obtained under Australian laws. DOREEN GRACE PARILLA MEDINA, a.k.a. "DOREEN
GRACE MEDINA KOIKE," Petitioner
Significance of the Certificate of Legal Capacity vs.
MICHIYUKI KOIKE, THE LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF
Petitioner argues that the certificate of legal capacity required by QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA, and THE
Article 21 of the Family Code was not submitted together with the ADMINISTRATOR AND CIVIL REGISTRAR GENERAL
application for a marriage license. According to her, its absence is OF THE NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE, Respondents
proof that respondent did not have legal capacity to remarry.
DECISION
We clarify. To repeat, the legal capacity to contract marriage is
determined by the national law of the party concerned. The PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
certificate mentioned in Article 21 of the Family Code would have
been sufficient to establish the legal capacity of respondent, had he Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1are the
duly presented it in court. A duly authenticated and admitted Decision2 dated July 31, 2014 and the Resolution3 dated November
certificate is prima facie evidence of legal capacity to marry on the 28, 2014, of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 106
part of the alien applicant for a marriage license.50 (RTC), in Sp. Proc. No. Q-13-72692, denying petitioner's petition
for judicial recognition of foreign divorce and declaration of
As it is, however, there is absolutely no evidence that proves capacity to remarry pursuant to Article 26 of the Family Code.
respondent's legal capacity to marry petitioner. A review of the
records before this Court shows that only the following exhibits The Facts
were presented before the lower court: (1) for petitioner: (a)
Exhibit "A" Complaint;51 (b) Exhibit "B" Certificate of
Petitioner Doreen Grace Parilla (Doreen), a Filipino citizen, and
Marriage Between Rederick A. Recto (Filipino-Australian) and respondent Michiyuki Koike (Michiyuki), a Japanese national,
Grace J. Garcia (Filipino) on January 12, 1994 in Cabanatuan City, were married on June 14, 2005 in Quezon City, Philippines. 4 Their
Nueva Ecija;52 (c) Exhibit "C" Certificate of Marriage Between
union bore two children, Masato Koike, who was born on January
Rederick A. Recio (Filipino) and Editha D. Samson (Australian)
23, 2006, and Fuka Koike who was born on April 4, 2007. 5
on March 1, 1987 in Malabon, Metro Manila;53 (d) Exhibit "D"
Office of the City Registrar of Cabanatuan City Certification that
no information of annulment between Rederick A. Recto and On June 14, 2012, Doreen and Michiyuki, pursuant to the laws of
Editha D. Samson was in its records;54 and (e) Exhibit "E" Japan, filed for divorce6 before the Mayor of Ichinomiya City,
Certificate of Australian Citizenship of Rederick A. Recto;55 (2) Aichi Prefecture, Japan. They were divorced on even date as
for respondent: (Exhibit "1" Amended Answer;56 (b) Exhibit "S" appearing in the Divorce Certificate7and the same was duly
Family Law Act 1975 Decree Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in recorded in the Official Family Register ofMichiyuki Koike. 8
the Family Court of Australia;57 (c) Exhibit "3" Certificate of
Australian Citizenship of Rederick A. Recto;58 (d) Exhibit "4" Seeking to have the said Divorce Certificate annotated on her
Decree Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in the Family Court of Certificate of Marriage9 on file with the Local Civil Registrar of
Australia Certificate;59 and Exhibit "5" Statutory Declaration of Quezon City, Doreen filed on February 7, 2013 a petition10 for
the Legal Separation Between Rederick A. Recto and Grace J. judicial recognition of ioreign divorce and declaration of capacity
Garcia Recio since October 22, 1995.60 to remarry pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code11 before the RTC, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. Q-13-
Based on the above records, we cannot conclude that respondent, 72692.
who was then a naturalized Australian citizen, was legally
capacitated to marry petitioner on January 12, 1994. We agree with At the hearing, no one appeared to oppose the petition.12 On the
petitioner's contention that the court a quo erred in finding that the other hand, Doreen presented several foreign documents, namely,
divorce decree ipso facto clothed respondent with the legal "Certificate of Receiving/ Certificate of Acceptance of
capacity to remarry without requiring him to adduce sufficient Divorce"13 and "Family Register of Michiyuki Koike" 14 both
evidence to show the Australian personal law governing his status; issued by the Mayor of Ichinomiya City and duly authenticated by
or at the very least, to prove his legal capacity to contract the the Consul of the Republic of the Philippines for Osaka, Japan. She
second marriage. also presented a certified machine copy of a document entitled
"Divorce Certificate" issued by the Consul for the Ambassador of
Neither can we grant petitioner's prayer to declare her marriage to Japan in Manila that was authenticated by the Department of the
respondent null and void on the ground of bigamy. After all, it may Foreign Affairs, as well as a Certification15 issued by the City Civil
Registry Office in Manila that the original of said divorce foreign judgments and laws.1wphi1 Justice Herrera explained
certificate was filed and recorded in the said Office. In addition, that, as a rule, "no sovereign is bound to give effect within its
photocopies of the Civil Code of Japan and their corresponding dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another
English translation, as well as two (2) books entitled "The Civil country." This means that the foreign judgment and its
Code of Japan 2000" 16 and "The Civil Code of Japan authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on
2009"17 were likewise submitted as proof of the existence of evidence, together with the alien's applicable national law to
Japan's law on divorce.18 show the effect of the judgment on the alien himself or
herself. The recognition may be made in an action instituted
The RTC Ruling specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party
invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or
defense.28 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied; citation omitted)
In a Decision19 dated July 31, 2014, the RTC denied Doreen's
petition, ruling that in an action for recognition of foreign divorce
decree pursuant to Article 26 of the Family Code, the foreign Thus, in Garcia v. Recio,29 it was pointed out that in order for a
divorce decree and the national law of the alien recognizing his or divorce obtained abroad by the alien spouse to be recognized in
her capacity to obtain a divorce must be proven in accordance with our jurisdiction, it must be shown that the divorce decree is valid
Sections 2420 and 2521 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on according to the national law of the foreigner. Both the divorce
Evidence. The RTC ruled that while the divorce documents decree and the governing personal law of the alien spouse who
presented by Doreen were successfully proven to be public or obtained the divorce must be proven.30 Since our courts do not take
official records of Japan, she nonetheless fell short of proving the judicial notice of foreign laws and judgment, our law on evidence
national law of her husband, particularly the existence of the law requires that both the divorce decree and the national law of the
on divorce. The RTC observed that the "The Civil Code of Japan alien must be alleged and proven like any other fact.31
2000" and "The Civil Code of Japan 2009," presented were not
duly authenticated by the Philippine Consul in Japan as required by Considering that the validity of the divorce decree between Doreen
Sections 24 and 25 of the said Rules, adding too that the testimony and Michiyuki, as well as the existence of pertinent laws of Japan
of Doreen relative to the applicable provisions found therein and on the matter are essentially factual that calls for a re-evaluation of
its effect on the matrimonial relations was insufficient since she the evidence presented before the RTC, the issue raised in the
was not presented as a qualified expert witness nor was shown to instant appeal is obviously a question of fact that is beyond the
have, at the very least, a working knowledge of the laws of Japan, ambit of a Rule 45 petition for review.
particularly those on family relations and divorce. It likewise did
not consider the said books as learned treatises pursuant to Section Well entrenched is the rule that this Court is not a trier of facts.
46,22 Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, since no expert The resolution of factual issues is the function of the lower courts,
witness on the subject matter was presented and considering whose findings on these matters are received with respect and are
further that Philippine courts cannot take judicial notice of in fact binding subject to certain exceptions.32 In this regard, it is
foreignjudgments and law.23 settled that appeals taken from judgments or final orders rendered
by RTC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction raising questions
Doreen's motion for reconsideration24 was denied in a of fact or mixed questions of fact and law should be brought to the
Resolution25 dated November 28, 2014; hence, this petition. Court of Appeals (CA) in accordance with Rule 41 of the Rules of
Court.33
The Issue Before the Court
Nonetheless, despite the procedural restrictions on Rule 45 appeals
The core issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not the RTC as above-adverted, the Court may refer the case to the CA under
erred in denying the petition for judicial recognition of foreign paragraph 2, Section 6 of Rule 56 of the Rules of Court, which
divorce.1wphi1 provides:

The Court's Ruling SEC. 6. Disposition of improper appeal. -x x x

At the outset, it bears stressing that Philippine law does not provide An appeal by certiorari taken to the Supreme Court from the
for absolute divorce; hence, our courts cannot grant it. However, Regional Trial Court submitting issues of fact may be referred to
Article 26 of the Family Code - which addresses foreign marriages the Court of Appeals for decision or appropriate action. The
or mixed marriages involving a Filipino and a foreigner - allows a determination of the Supreme Court on whether or not issues of
Filipino spouse to contract a subsequent marriage in case the fact are involved shall be final.
divorce is validly obtained abroad by an alien spouse capacitating
him or her to remarry. The provision reads: This, notwithstanding the express provision under Section 5 (f)
thereof that an appeal likewise "may" be dismissed when there is
Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in error irr the choice or mode of appeal.34
accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this Since the said Rules denote discretion on the part of the Court to
country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and either dismiss the appeal or refer the case to the CA, the question
(6), 36, 37 and 38. of fact involved in the instant appeal and substantial ends of justice
warrant that the case be referred to the CA for further appropriate
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is proceedings. It bears to stress that procedural rules were intended
validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained to ensure proper administration of law and justice. The rules of
abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, procedure ought not to be applied in a very rigid, technical sense,
the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry for they are adopted to help secure, not override, substantial
under Philippine law. (Emphasis supplied) justice. A deviation from its rigid enforcement may thus be
allowed to attain its prime objective, for after all, the dispensation
of justice is the core reason for the existence of the courts. 35
Under the above-highlighted paragraph, the law confers
jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the effect of a foreign
divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without undergoing trial to WHEREFORE, in the interest of orderly procedure and
determine the validity of the dissolution of the marriage. 26 substantial justice, the case is hereby REFERRED to the Court of
Appeals for appropriate action including the reception of evidence
to DETERMINE and RESOLVE the pertinent factual issues in
In Corpuz v. Sta. Tomas,27the Court had the occasion to rule that:
accordance with this Decision.
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment
is the acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of SO ORDERED.