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Persons and Family Relations September 5 and 7 Page |1

RODOLFO G. NAVARRO, complainant, proceed with the marriage ceremony. We do not agree. Article 41 of the Family Code expressly
vs. JUDGE HERNANDO C. DOMAGTOY, respondent. provides:
DECISION "A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void, unless
ROMERO, J.: before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and
the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance
The complainant in this administrative case is the Municipal Mayor of Dapa, Surigao del Norte, where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the provisions of Articles 391 of the Civil Code,
Rodolfo G. Navarro. He has submitted evidence in relation to two specific acts committed by respondent an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.
Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Hernando Domagtoy, which, he contends, exhibits gross misconduct For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse
as well as inefficiency in office and ignorance of the law. present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of
First, on September 27, 1994, respondent judge solemnized the wedding between Gaspar A. presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent
Tagadan and Arlyn F. Borga, despite the knowledge that the groom is merely separated from his first spouse." (Emphasis added.)
wife. Second, it is alleged that he performed a marriage ceremony between Floriano Dador Sumaylo and There is nothing ambiguous or difficult to comprehend in this provision. In fact, the law is clear
Gemma G. del Rosario outside his court's jurisdiction on October 27, 1994.Respondent judge holds office and simple. Even if the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already
and has jurisdiction in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta. Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte. The dead, a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death is necessary in order to contract a
wedding was solemnized at the respondent judge's residence in the municipality of Dapa, which does subsequent marriage, a mandatory requirement which has been precisely incorporated into the Family
not fall within his jurisdictional area of the municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos, located some 40 to Code to discourage subsequent marriages where it is not proven that the previous marriage has been
45 kilometers away from the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte. dissolved or a missing spouse is factually or presumptively dead, in accordance with pertinent provisions
In his letter-comment to the Office of the Court Administrator, respondent judge avers that the of law.
office and name of the Municipal Mayor of Dapa have been used by someone else, who, as the mayor's In the case at bar, Gaspar Tagadan did not institute a summary proceeding for the declaration of
"lackey," is overly concerned with his actuations both as judge and as a private person. The same his first wife's presumptive death. Absent this judicial declaration, he remains married to Ida
person had earlier filed Administrative Matter No. 94-980-MTC, which was dismissed for lack of merit on Pearanda. Whether wittingly, or unwittingly, it was manifest error on the part of respondent judge to
September 15, 1994, and Administrative Matter No. OCA-IPI-95-16, "Antonio Adapon v. Judge Hernando have accepted the joint affidavit submitted by the groom. Such neglect or ignorance of the law has
C. Domagtoy," which is still pending. resulted in a bigamous, and therefore void, marriage. Under Article 35 of the Family Code, "The
In relation to the charges against him, respondent judge seeks exculpation from his act of having following marriage shall be void from the beginning: (4) Those bigamous x x x marriages not falling
solemnized the marriage between Gaspar Tagadan, a married man separated from his wife, and Arlyn F. under Article 41."
Borga by stating that he merely relied on the Affidavit issued by the Municipal Trial Judge of Basey, The second issue involves the solemnization of a marriage ceremony outside the court's
Samar, confirming the fact that Mr. Tagadan and his first wife have not seen each other for almost jurisdiction, covered by Articles 7 and 8 of the Family Code, thus:
seven years.[1] With respect to the second charge, he maintains that in solemnizing the marriage "Art. 7. Marriage may be solemnized by:
between Sumaylo and del Rosario, he did not violate Article 7, (1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's jurisdiction;
paragraph 1 of the Family Code which states that: "Marriage may be solemnized by: (1) Any incumbent Art. 8. The marriage shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers of the judge or in open court, in the church, chapel
member of the judiciary within the court's jurisdiction; and that Article 8 thereof applies to the case in or temple, or in the office of the consul-general, consul or vice-consul, as the case may be, and not
elsewhere, except in cases of marriages contracted on the point of death or in remote places in
question.
accordance with Article 29 of this Code, or where both parties request the solemnizing officer in
The complaint was not referred, as is usual, for investigation, since the pleadings submitted were writing in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place designated by them in a
considered sufficient for a resolution of the case.[2] Since the countercharges of sinister motives and sworn statement to that effect."
fraud on the part of complainant have not been sufficiently proven, they will not be dwelt upon. The Respondent judge points to Article 8 and its exceptions as the justifications for his having
acts complained of and respondent judge's answer thereto will suffice and can be objectively assessed solemnized the marriage between Floriano Sumaylo and Gemma del Rosario outside of his court's
by themselves to prove the latter's malfeasance. jurisdiction. As the aforequoted provision states, a marriage can be held outside of the judge's chambers
The certified true copy of the marriage contract between Gaspar Tagadan and Arlyn Borga states or courtroom only in the following instances: (1) at the point of death, (2) in remote places in
that Tagadan's civil status is "separated." Despite this declaration, the wedding ceremony was accordance with Article 29 or (3) upon request of both parties in writing in a sworn statement to this
solemnized by respondent judge. He presented in evidence a joint affidavit by Maurecio A. Labado, Sr. effect. There is no pretense that either Sumaylo or del Rosario was at the point of death or in a remote
and Eugenio Bullecer, subscribed and sworn to before Judge Demosthenes C. Duquilla, Municipal Trial place. Moreover, the written request presented addressed to the respondent judge was made by only
Judge of Basey, Samar.[3] The affidavit was not issued by the latter judge, as claimed by respondent one party, Gemma del Rosario.[4] More importantly, the elementary principle underlying this provision is
judge, but merely acknowledged before him.In their affidavit, the affiants stated that they knew Gaspar the authority of the solemnizing judge. Under Article 3, one of the formal requisites of marriage is the
Tagadan to have been civilly married to Ida D. Pearanda in September 1983; that after thirteen years of "authority of the solemnizing officer." Under Article 7, marriage may be solemnized by, among others,
cohabitation and having borne five children, Ida Pearanda left the conjugal dwelling in Valencia, "any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's jurisdiction." Article 8, which is a directory
Bukidnon and that she has not returned nor been heard of for almost seven years, thereby giving rise to provision, refers only to the venue of the marriage ceremony and does not alter or qualify the authority
the presumption that she is already dead. In effect, Judge Domagtoy maintains that the aforementioned of the solemnizing officer as provided in the preceding provision. Non-compliance herewith will not
joint affidavit is sufficient proof of Ida Pearanda's presumptive death, and ample reason for him to invalidate the marriage.
Persons and Family Relations September 5 and 7 Page |2

A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local ordinary to marry the faithful, is authorized approval, and cannot be enforceable against the assets of the husband who contracts a
to do so only within the area of the diocese or place allowed by his Bishop. An appellate court Justice or subsequent marriage.
a Justice of this Court has jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to solemnize marriages, regardless of THE CASE
the venue, as long as the requisites of the law are complied with. However, judges who are appointed The petitioner, the second wife of the late Atty. Juan Luces Luna, appeals the adverse decision
to specific jurisdictions, may officiate in weddings only within said areas and not beyond. Where a judge promulgated on November 11, 2005,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed with
solemnizes a marriage outside his court's jurisdiction, there is a resultant irregularity in the formal modification the decision rendered on August 27, 2001 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
requisite laid down in Article 3, which while it may not affect the validity of the marriage, may subject 138, in Makati City.2 The CA thereby denied her right in the 25/100 pro indiviso share of the
the officiating official to administrative liability.[5] Inasmuch as respondent judge's jurisdiction covers the
husband in a condominium unit, and in the law books of the husband acquired during the second
municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos, he was not clothed with authority to solemnize a marriage in
marriage.
the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte. By citing Article 8 and the exceptions therein as grounds for
ANTECEDENTS
the exercise of his misplaced authority, respondent judge again demonstrated a lack of understanding of
the basic principles of civil law. The antecedent facts were summarized by the CA as follows:
Accordingly, the Court finds respondent to have acted in gross ignorance of the law. The legal ATTY. LUNA, a practicing lawyer, was at first a name partner in the prestigious law firm Sycip,
principles applicable in the cases brought to our attention are elementary and uncomplicated, prompting Salazar, Luna, Manalo, Hernandez & Feliciano Law Offices at that time when he was living with his
us to conclude that respondent's failure to apply them is due to a lack of comprehension of the law. The first wife, herein intervenor-appellant Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (EUGENIA), whom he initially
judiciary should be composed of persons who, if not experts, are at least, proficient in the law they are married ina civil ceremony conducted by the Justice of the Peace of Parañaque, Rizal on
sworn to apply, more than the ordinary laymen. They should be skilled and competent in understanding September 10, 1947 and later solemnized in a church ceremony at the Pro-Cathedral in San
and applying the law. It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles like the ones Miguel, Bulacan on September 12, 1948. In ATTY. LUNA’s marriage to EUGENIA, they begot seven
involved in instant case.[6] It is not too much to expect them to know and apply the law (7) children, namely: Regina Maria L. Nadal, Juan Luis Luna, Araceli Victoria L. Arellano, Ana Maria
intelligently.[7] Otherwise, the system of justice rests on a shaky foundation indeed, compounded by the L. Tabunda, Gregorio Macario Luna, Carolina Linda L. Tapia, and Cesar Antonio Luna. After almost
errors committed by those not learned in the law.While magistrates may at times make mistakes in two (2) decades of marriage, ATTY. LUNA and EUGENIA eventually agreed to live apart from each
judgment, for which they are not penalized, the respondent judge exhibited ignorance of elementary other in February 1966 and agreed to separation of property, to which end, they entered into a
provisions of law, in an area which has greatly prejudiced the status of married persons. written agreement entitled "AGREEMENT FOR SEPARATION AND PROPERTY SETTLEMENT" dated
The marriage between Gaspar Tagadan and Arlyn Borga is considered bigamous and void, there November 12, 1975, whereby they agreed to live separately and to dissolve and liquidate their
being a subsisting marriage between Gaspar Tagadan and Ida Pearanda. conjugal partnership of property.
The Office of the Court Administrator recommends, in its Memorandum to the Court, a six-month
suspension and a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more On January 12, 1976, ATTY. LUNA obtained a divorce decree of his marriage with EUGENIA from
severely. Considering that one of the marriages in question resulted in a bigamous union and therefore the Civil and Commercial Chamber of the First Circumscription of the Court of First Instance of Sto.
void, and the other lacked the necessary authority of respondent judge, the Court adopts said Domingo, Dominican Republic. Also in Sto.Domingo, Dominican Republic, on the same date, ATTY.
recommendation. Respondent is advised to be more circumspect in applying the law and to cultivate a LUNA contracted another marriage, this time with SOLEDAD. Thereafter, ATTY. LUNA and
deeper understanding of the law. SOLEDAD returned to the Philippines and lived together as husband and wife until 1987.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, respondent Judge Hernando C. Domagtoy is hereby SUSPENDED for a
period of six (6) months and given a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with Sometime in 1977, ATTY. LUNA organized a new law firm named: Luna, Puruganan, Sison and
more severely. Ongkiko (LUPSICON) where ATTY. LUNA was the managing partner. On February 14, 1978,
SO ORDERED. LUPSICON through ATTY. LUNA purchased from Tandang Sora Development Corporation the 6th
Floor of Kalaw-Ledesma Condominium Project(condominium unit) at Gamboa St., Makati City,
G.R. No. 171914 July 23, 2014 consisting of 517.52 square meters, for ₱1,449,056.00, to be paid on installment basis for
SOLEDAD L. LAVADIA, Petitioner, 36months starting on April 15, 1978. Said condominium unit was to be usedas law office of
vs. LUPSICON. After full payment, the Deed of Absolute Sale over the condominium unit was executed
HEIRS OF JUAN LUCES LUNA, represented by GREGORIO Z. LUNA and EUGENIA on July 15, 1983, and CCT No. 4779 was issued on August 10, 1983, which was registered bearing
ZABALLERO-LUNA,Respondents. the following names:
DECISION "JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (46/100); MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to
BERSAMIN, J.: Sonia P.G. Ongkiko (25/100); GREGORIO R. PURUGANAN, married to Paz A. Puruganan
Divorce between Filipinos is void and ineffectual under the nationality rule adopted by Philippine (17/100); and TERESITA CRUZ SISON, married to Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x x x"
law. Hence, any settlement of property between the parties of the first marriage involving Filipinos Subsequently, 8/100 share of ATTY. LUNA and 17/100 share of Atty. Gregorio R. Puruganan in
submitted as an incident of a divorce obtained in a foreign country lacks competent judicial the condominium unit was sold to Atty. Mario E. Ongkiko, for which a new CCT No. 21761 was
issued on February 7, 1992 in the following names:
Persons and Family Relations September 5 and 7 Page |3

and defendants are ordered to deliver them to the plaintiff as soon as appropriate
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (38/100); MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to arrangements have been madefor transport and storage.
Sonia P.G. Ongkiko (50/100); TERESITA CRUZ SISON, married to Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x No pronouncement as to costs.
x x" SO ORDERED.5
Sometime in 1992, LUPSICON was dissolved and the condominium unit was partitioned by the DECISION OF THE CA
partners but the same was still registered in common under CCT No. 21716. The parties stipulated Both parties appealed to the CA.6
that the interest of ATTY. LUNA over the condominium unit would be 25/100 share. ATTY. LUNA On her part, the petitioner assigned the following errors to the RTC, namely:
thereafter established and headed another law firm with Atty. Renato G. Dela Cruzand used a I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT WAS ACQUIRED
portion of the office condominium unit as their office. The said law firm lasted until the death of THRU THE SOLE INDUSTRY OF ATTY. JUAN LUCES LUNA;
ATTY. JUAN on July 12, 1997. II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT PLAINTIFFAPPELLANT DID NOT CONTRIBUTE
MONEY FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT;
After the death of ATTY. JUAN, his share in the condominium unit including the lawbooks, office III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO PORTIONS OF THE TESTIMONY OF
furniture and equipment found therein were taken over by Gregorio Z. Luna, ATTY. LUNA’s son of GREGORIO LUNA, WHO HAS NO ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACQUISITION OF THE UNIT,
the first marriage. Gregorio Z. Luna thenleased out the 25/100 portion of the condominium unit BUT IGNORED OTHER PORTIONS OF HIS TESTIMONY FAVORABLE TO THE PLAINTIFF-
belonging to his father to Atty. Renato G. De la Cruz who established his own law firm named APPELLANT;
Renato G. De la Cruz & Associates.The 25/100 pro-indiviso share of ATTY. Luna in the IV. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACT THAT THE
condominium unit as well as the law books, office furniture and equipment became the subject of CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN LUNA AND INTERVENOR-APPELLANT WAS ALREADY
the complaint filed by SOLEDAD against the heirs of ATTY. JUAN with the RTC of Makati City, DISSOLVED AND LIQUIDATED PRIOR TO THE UNION OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND LUNA;
Branch 138, on September 10, 1999, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-1644. The complaint alleged V. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO THE ABSENCE OF THE
that the subject properties were acquired during the existence of the marriage between ATTY. DISPOSITION OF THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT IN THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL OF THE PLAINTIFF-
LUNA and SOLEDAD through their joint efforts that since they had no children, SOLEDAD became APPELLANT;
co-owner of the said properties upon the death of ATTY. LUNA to the extent of ¾ pro-indiviso VI. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACTTHAT THE
share consisting of her ½ share in the said properties plus her ½ share in the net estate of ATTY. NAME OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT DID NOT APPEAR IN THE DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE
EXECUTED BY TANDANG SORA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION OVER THE CONDOMINIUM
LUNA which was bequeathed to her in the latter’s last will and testament; and thatthe heirs of
UNIT;
ATTY. LUNA through Gregorio Z. Luna excluded SOLEDAD from her share in the subject properties.
VII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT NEITHER ARTICLE 148 OF THE
The complaint prayed that SOLEDAD be declared the owner of the ¾ portion of the subject
FAMILYCODE NOR ARTICLE 144 OF THE CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES ARE APPLICABLE;
properties;that the same be partitioned; that an accounting of the rentals on the condominium unit VIII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT THE CAUSE OF ACTION OF THE
pertaining to the share of SOLEDAD be conducted; that a receiver be appointed to preserve ad INTERVENOR-APPELLANT HAS BEEN BARRED BY PESCRIPTION AND LACHES; and
administer the subject properties;and that the heirs of ATTY. LUNA be ordered to pay attorney’s IX. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT EXPUNGING/DISMISSING THE INTERVENTION FOR
feesand costs of the suit to SOLEDAD.3 FAILURE OF INTERVENOR-APPELLANT TO PAY FILING FEE.7
RULING OF THE RTC In contrast, the respondents attributedthe following errors to the trial court, to wit:
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT CERTAIN FOREIGN LAW BOOKS IN THE LAW
On August 27, 2001, the RTC rendered its decision after trial upon the aforementioned
OFFICE OF ATTY. LUNA WERE BOUGHT WITH THE USE OF PLAINTIFF’S MONEY;
facts,4 disposing thusly:
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PLAINTIFF PROVED BY PREPONDERANCE
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:
OF EVIDENCE (HER CLAIM OVER) THE SPECIFIED FOREIGN LAW BOOKS FOUND IN ATTY.
(a) The 24/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium unit located at the SIXTH FLOOR of the
LUNA’S LAW OFFICE; and
KALAW LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by Condominium Certificate of Title No.
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT, ASSUMING PLAINTIFF PAID FOR THE
21761 consisting of FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN (517/100) SQUARE METERS is adjudged to
SAID FOREIGN LAW BOOKS, THE RIGHT TO RECOVER THEM HAD PRESCRIBED AND BARRED
have been acquired by Juan Lucas Luna through his sole industry;
BY LACHES AND ESTOPPEL.8
(b) Plaintiff has no right as owner or under any other concept over the condominium unit,
hence the entry in Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the Registry of Deeds of On November 11, 2005, the CA promulgated its assailed modified decision,9 holding and ruling:
Makati with respect to the civil status of Juan Luces Luna should be changed from "JUAN EUGENIA, the first wife, was the legitimate wife of ATTY. LUNA until the latter’s death on July 12,
LUCES LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Eugenia Zaballero 1997. The absolute divorce decree obtained by ATTY. LUNA inthe Dominican Republic did not
Luna"; terminate his prior marriage with EUGENIA because foreign divorce between Filipino citizens is not
(c) Plaintiff is declared to be the owner of the books Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, recognized in our jurisdiction. x x x10
American Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Reports found in the condominium unit xxxx
Persons and Family Relations September 5 and 7 Page |4

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed August 27, 2001 Decision of the RTC of virtue of bothAtty. Luna and Eugenio having remained Filipinos until the death of Atty. Luna on
MakatiCity, Branch 138, is hereby MODIFIEDas follows: July 12, 1997 terminated their marriage.
(a) The 25/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium unit at the SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW From the time of the celebration ofthe first marriage on September 10, 1947 until the present,
LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 absolute divorce between Filipino spouses has not been recognized in the Philippines. The non-
consisting of FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN (517/100) (sic) SQUARE METERS is hereby adjudged recognition of absolute divorce between Filipinos has remained even under the Family Code, 16 even
to defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (first if either or both of the spouses are residing abroad.17 Indeed, the only two types of defective
marriage), having been acquired from the sole funds and sole industry of Juan Luces Luna marital unions under our laws have beenthe void and the voidable marriages. As such, the
while marriage of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (first marriage) was still remedies against such defective marriages have been limited to the declaration of nullity ofthe
subsisting and valid; marriage and the annulment of the marriage.
(b) Plaintiff-appellant Soledad Lavadia has no right as owner or under any other concept over
It is true that on January 12, 1976, the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Sto. Domingo in the
the condominium unit, hence the entry in Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the
Dominican Republic issued the Divorce Decree dissolving the first marriage of Atty. Luna and
Registry of Deeds ofMakati with respect to the civil status of Juan Luces Luna should be
Eugenia.18 Conformably with the nationality rule, however, the divorce, even if voluntarily obtained
changed from "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN LUCES LUNA married
to Eugenia Zaballero Luna"; abroad, did not dissolve the marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, which subsisted up to the
(c) Defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna(first time of his death on July 12, 1997. This finding conforms to the Constitution, which characterizes
marriage) are hereby declared to be the owner of the books Corpus Juris, Fletcher on marriage as an inviolable social institution, 19 and regards it as a special contract of permanent
Corporation, American Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Reports found in the union between a man and a woman for the establishment of a conjugal and family life. 20 The non-
condominium unit. recognition of absolute divorce in the Philippines is a manifestation of the respect for the sanctity
No pronouncement as to costs. of the marital union especially among Filipino citizens. It affirms that the extinguishment of a valid
SO ORDERED.11 marriage must be grounded only upon the death of either spouse, or upon a ground expressly
On March 13, 2006,12 the CA denied the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.13 provided bylaw. For as long as this public policy on marriage between Filipinos exists, no divorce
ISSUES decree dissolving the marriage between them can ever be given legal or judicial recognition and
In this appeal, the petitioner avers in her petition for review on certiorarithat: enforcement in this jurisdiction.
A. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the Agreement for Separation and 2. The Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement was void for lack of court approval
Property Settlement executed by Luna and Respondent Eugenia was unenforceable; hence, The petitioner insists that the Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement (Agreement) that
their conjugal partnership was not dissolved and liquidated; the late Atty. Luna and Eugenia had entered into and executed in connection with the divorce
B. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not recognizing the Dominican Republic court’s proceedings before the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic to dissolve and liquidate
approval of the Agreement; their conjugal partnership was enforceable against Eugenia. Hence, the CA committed reversible
C. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Petitioner failed to adduce sufficient error in decreeing otherwise.
proof of actual contribution to the acquisition of purchase of the subjectcondominium unit; and The insistence of the petitioner was unwarranted.
D. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Petitioner was not entitled to the subject Considering that Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not entered into any marriage settlement prior to
law books.14 their marriage on September 10, 1947, the system of relative community or conjugal partnership
The decisive question to be resolved is who among the contending parties should be entitled to the
of gains governed their property relations. This is because the Spanish Civil Code, the law then in
25/100 pro indivisoshare in the condominium unit; and to the law books (i.e., Corpus Juris, Fletcher on
force at the time of their marriage, did not specify the property regime of the spouses in the event
Corporation, American Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court Reports).
that they had not entered into any marriage settlement before or at the time of the marriage.
The resolution of the decisive question requires the Court to ascertain the law that should determine,
firstly, whether the divorce between Atty. Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (Eugenia) had validly Article 119 of the Civil Codeclearly so provides, to wit:
dissolved the first marriage; and, secondly, whether the second marriage entered into by the late Atty. Article 119. The future spouses may in the marriage settlements agree upon absolute or
Luna and the petitioner entitled the latter to any rights in property. Ruling of the Court relative community of property, or upon complete separation of property, or upon any other regime. In
We affirm the modified decision of the CA. the absence of marriage settlements, or when the same are void, the system of relative community or
1. Atty. Luna’s first marriage with Eugenia subsisted up to the time of his death conjugal partnership of gains as established in this Code, shall govern the property relations between
The first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, both Filipinos, was solemnized in the husband and wife.
Philippines on September 10, 1947. The law in force at the time of the solemnization was the
Article 142 of the Civil Codehas defined a conjugal partnership of gains thusly:
Spanish Civil Code, which adopted the nationality rule. The Civil Codecontinued to follow the
Article 142. By means of the conjugal partnership of gains the husband and wife place in a
nationality rule, to the effect that Philippine laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the common fund the fruits of their separate property and the income from their work or industry,
status, condition and legal capacity of persons were binding upon citizens of the Philippines, and divide equally, upon the dissolution of the marriage or of the partnership, the net gains or
although living abroad.15 Pursuant to the nationality rule, Philippine laws governed thiscase by benefits obtained indiscriminately by either spouse during the marriage.
Persons and Family Relations September 5 and 7 Page |5

The Court concurs with the CA.


The conjugal partnership of gains subsists until terminated for any of various causes of termination
In the Philippines, marriages that are bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous are void. Article 71 of
enumerated in Article 175 of the Civil Code, viz:
the Civil Codeclearly states:
Article 175. The conjugal partnership of gains terminates:
Article 71. All marriages performed outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force
(1) Upon the death of either spouse; in the country where they were performed, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this
(2) When there is a decree of legal separation; country, except bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous marriages as determined by Philippine
(3) When the marriage is annulled; law.
(4) In case of judicial separation of property under Article 191. Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by contracting a second or subsequent marriage before
The mere execution of the Agreement by Atty. Luna and Eugenia did not per sedissolve and the first marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared
liquidate their conjugal partnership of gains. The approval of the Agreement by a competent court presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings. 23 A bigamous
was still required under Article 190 and Article 191 of the Civil Code, as follows: marriage is considered void ab initio.24
Due to the second marriage between Atty. Luna and the petitioner being void ab initioby virtue of
Article 190. In the absence of an express declaration in the marriage settlements, the its being bigamous, the properties acquired during the bigamous marriage were governed by the
separation of property between spouses during the marriage shall not take place save in virtue rules on co-ownership, conformably with Article 144 of the Civil Code, viz:
of a judicial order. (1432a) Article 144. When a man and a woman live together as husband and wife, but they are not
Article 191. The husband or the wife may ask for the separation of property, and it shall be
married, ortheir marriage is void from the beginning, the property acquired by eitheror both of
decreed when the spouse of the petitioner has been sentenced to a penalty which carries with
them through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall be governed by the rules on
it civil interdiction, or has been declared absent, or when legal separation has been granted. x
co-ownership.(n)
xxx
In such a situation, whoever alleges co-ownership carried the burden of proof to confirm such
The husband and the wife may agree upon the dissolution of the conjugal partnership during the fact.1âwphi1 To establish co-ownership, therefore, it became imperative for the petitioner to offer
marriage, subject to judicial approval. All the creditors of the husband and of the wife, as well as proof of her actual contributions in the acquisition of property. Her mere allegation of co-
of the conjugal partnership shall be notified of any petition for judicialapproval or the voluntary ownership, without sufficient and competent evidence, would warrant no relief in her favor. As the
dissolution of the conjugal partnership, so that any such creditors may appear atthe hearing to Court explained in Saguid v. Court of Appeals:25
safeguard his interests. Upon approval of the petition for dissolution of the conjugal partnership, In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, which involved the issue of co-
the court shall take such measures as may protect the creditors and other third persons.After ownership ofproperties acquired by the parties to a bigamous marriage and an adulterous
dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the provisions of articles 214 and 215 shall apply. The relationship, respectively, we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the acquisition of the
provisions of this Code concerning the effect of partition stated in articles 498 to 501 shall be property is essential. The claim of co-ownership of the petitioners therein who were parties to
applicable. (1433a) the bigamous and adulterousunion is without basis because they failed to substantiate their
But was not the approval of the Agreement by the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic allegation that they contributed money in the purchase of the disputed properties. Also in
sufficient in dissolving and liquidating the conjugal partnership of gains between the late Atty. Adriano v. Court of Appeals, we ruled that the fact that the controverted property was titled in
Luna and Eugenia? The query is answered in the negative. There is no question that the approval the name of the parties to an adulterous relationship is not sufficient proof of coownership
absent evidence of actual contribution in the acquisition of the property.
took place only as an incident ofthe action for divorce instituted by Atty. Luna and Eugenia, for,
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as determined by the
indeed, the justifications for their execution of the Agreement were identical to the grounds raised
pleadings or the nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions must be proved by
in the action for divorce.21 With the divorce not being itself valid and enforceable under Philippine
competent evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of the party’s own evidence and not
law for being contrary to Philippine public policy and public law, the approval of the Agreement
upon the weakness of the opponent’s defense. This applies with more vigor where, as in the
was not also legally valid and enforceable under Philippine law. Consequently, the conjugal
instant case, the plaintiff was allowed to present evidence ex parte.1âwphi1 The plaintiff is not
partnership of gains of Atty. Luna and Eugenia subsisted in the lifetime of their marriage.
automatically entitled to the relief prayed for. The law gives the defendantsome measure of
3. Atty. Luna’s marriage with Soledad, being bigamous, was void; properties acquired during their
protection as the plaintiff must still prove the allegations in the complaint. Favorable relief can be
marriage were governed by the rules on co-ownership
granted only after the court isconvinced that the facts proven by the plaintiff warrant such relief.
What law governed the property relations of the second marriage between Atty. Luna and
Indeed, the party alleging a fact has the burden of proving it and a mereallegation is not
Soledad? The CA expressly declared that Atty. Luna’s subsequent marriage to Soledad on January
evidence.26
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 Sto. Domingo in the
The petitioner asserts herein that she sufficiently proved her actual contributions in the purchase
Dominican Republic but had subsisted until the death of Atty. Luna on July 12, 1997.
of the condominium unit in the aggregate amount of at least ₱306,572.00, consisting in direct
contributions of ₱159,072.00, and in repaying the loans Atty. Luna had obtained from Premex
Persons and Family Relations September 5 and 7 Page |6

Financing and Banco Filipino totaling ₱146,825.30;27 and that such aggregate contributions of spouse of Atty. Luna. The same was acquired for the use of the Law firm of Atty. Luna. The loans from
₱306,572.00 corresponded to almost the entire share of Atty. Luna in the purchase of the Allied Banking Corporation and Far East Bank and Trust Company were loans of Atty. Luna and his
condominium unit amounting to ₱362,264.00 of the unit’s purchase price of ₱1,449,056.00. 28 The partners and plaintiff does not have evidence to show that she paid for them fully or partially. x x x"
petitioner further asserts that the lawbooks were paid for solely out of her personal funds, proof of The fact that CCT No. 4779 and subsequently, CCT No. 21761 were in the name of "JUAN LUCES LUNA,
which Atty. Luna had even sent her a "thank you" note;29 that she had the financial capacity to married to Soledad L. Luna" was no proof that SOLEDAD was a co-owner of the condominium unit.
make the contributions and purchases; and that Atty. Luna could not acquire the properties on his Acquisition of title and registration thereof are two different acts. It is well settled that registration does
own due to the meagerness of the income derived from his law practice. not confer title but merely confirms one already existing. The phrase "married to" preceding "Soledad L.
Luna" is merely descriptive of the civil status of ATTY. LUNA.
Did the petitioner discharge her burden of proof on the co-ownership? In resolving the question,
SOLEDAD, the second wife, was not even a lawyer. So it is but logical that SOLEDAD had no
the CA entirely debunked the petitioner’s assertions on her actual contributions through the
participation in the law firm or in the purchase of books for the law firm. SOLEDAD failed to prove that
following findings and conclusions, namely:
she had anything to contribute and that she actually purchased or paid for the law office amortization
SOLEDAD was not able to prove by preponderance of evidence that her own independent funds were used to buy the
law office condominium and the law books subject matter in contentionin this case – proof that was required for and for the law books. It is more logical to presume that it was ATTY. LUNA who bought the law office
Article 144 of the New Civil Code and Article 148 of the Family Code to apply – as to cases where properties were space and the law books from his earnings from his practice of law rather than embarrassingly beg or
acquired by a man and a woman living together as husband and wife but not married, or under a marriage which ask from SOLEDAD money for use of the law firm that he headed.30
was void ab initio. Under Article 144 of the New Civil Code, the rules on co-ownership would govern. But this was not The Court upholds the foregoing findings and conclusions by the CA both because they were
readily applicable to many situations and thus it created a void at first because it applied only if the parties were not substantiated by the records and because we have not been shown any reason to revisit and undo
in any way incapacitated or were without impediment to marry each other (for it would be absurd to create a co- them. Indeed, the petitioner, as the party claiming the co-ownership, did not discharge her burden of
ownership where there still exists a prior conjugal partnership or absolute community between the man and his lawful proof. Her mere allegations on her contributions, not being evidence, 31 did not serve the purpose. In
wife). This void was filled upon adoption of the Family Code. Article 148 provided that: only the property acquired by
contrast, given the subsistence of the first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, the presumption
both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property or industry shall be owned in common
and in proportion to their respective contributions. Such contributions and corresponding shares were prima that Atty. Luna acquired the properties out of his own personal funds and effort remained. It should
faciepresumed to be equal. However, for this presumption to arise, proof of actual contribution was required. The then be justly concluded that the properties in litislegally pertained to their conjugal partnership of gains
same rule and presumption was to apply to joint deposits of money and evidence of credit. If one of the parties was as of the time of his death. Consequently, the sole ownership of the 25/100 pro indivisoshare of Atty.
validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership accrued to the absolute community or conjugal Luna in the condominium unit, and of the lawbooks pertained to the respondents as the lawful heirs of
partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith was not validly married to another, his Atty. Luna.
or her share shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of the Article 147. The rules on forfeiture
applied even if both parties were in bad faith. Co-ownership was the exception while conjugal partnership of gains WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on November 11, 2005; and ORDERS
was the strict rule whereby marriage was an inviolable social institution and divorce decrees are not recognized in the the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.
Philippines, as was held by the Supreme Court in the case of Tenchavez vs. Escaño, G.R. No. L-19671, November 29, SO ORDERED.
1965, 15 SCRA 355, thus:
xxxx
As to the 25/100pro-indivisoshare of ATTY. LUNA in the condominium unit, SOLEDAD failed to
G.R. No. 195432 August 27, 2014
prove that she made an actual contribution to purchase the said property. She failed to establish
EDELINA T. ANDO, Petitioner,
that the four (4) checks that she presented were indeed used for the acquisition of the share of
vs.
ATTY. LUNA in the condominium unit. This was aptly explained in the Decision of the trial court,
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Respondent.
viz.:
DECISION
"x x x The first check, Exhibit "M" for ₱55,000.00 payable to Atty. Teresita Cruz Sison was issued on
SERENO, CJ:
January 27, 1977, which was thirteen (13) months before the Memorandum of Agreement, Exhibit "7"
was signed. Another check issued on April 29, 1978 in the amount of ₱97,588.89, Exhibit "P" was
This is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking the nullification of the
payable to Banco Filipino. According to the plaintiff, thiswas in payment of the loan of Atty. Luna. The
third check which was for ₱49,236.00 payable to PREMEX was dated May 19, 1979, also for payment of
Orders dated 14 January and 8 February 2011 issued by the Regional Trial Court (R TC), Third
the loan of Atty. Luna. The fourth check, Exhibit "M", for ₱4,072.00 was dated December 17, 1980. Judicial Region, Branch 45,1 City of San Fernando, Pampanga, in Civil Case No. 137, which
None of the foregoing prove that the amounts delivered by plaintiff to the payees were for the dismissed the Petition for Declaratory Relief filed therein.
acquisition of the subject condominium unit. The connection was simply not established. x x x" STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND OF THE CASE
SOLEDAD’s claim that she made a cash contribution of ₱100,000.00 is unsubstantiated. Clearly, there is The pertinent facts of the case, as alleged by petitioner, are as follows:
no basis for SOLEDAD’s claim of co-ownership over the 25/100 portion of the condominium unit and the 3. On 16 September 2001, petitioner married Yuichiro Kobayashi, a Japanese National, in a civil
trial court correctly found that the same was acquired through the sole industry of ATTY. LUNA, thus: wedding solemnized at Candaba, Pampanga. A copy of their Certificate of Marriage is hereto
"The Deed of Absolute Sale, Exhibit "9", covering the condominium unit was in the name of Atty. Luna, attached as Annex 'A' and made an integral part hereof.
together with his partners in the law firm. The name of the plaintiff does not appear as vendee or as the
Persons and Family Relations September 5 and 7 Page |7

4. On 16 September 2004, Yuichiro Kobayashi sought in Japan, and was validly granted under It is therefore evident, under the foregoing circumstances, that herein petitioner does not have any
Japaneselaws, a divorce in respect of his marriage with petitioner. A copy of the Divorce causeof action and/or is entitled to the reliefs prayed for under Rule 63 of the Rules of Court. In
Certificate duly issued by the Consulate-General of Japan and duly authenticated by the the same vein, though there is other adequate remedy available to the petitioner, such remedy is
Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, is heretoas Annex ‘B’ and made an integral part hereof. however beyond the authority and jurisdiction of this court to act upon and grant, as it isonly the
5. Said Divorce Certificate was duly registered with the Office of the Civil Registry of Manila. A family court which is vested with such authority and jurisdiction.4
copy of the Certification dated 28 October 2005 is hereto attached as Annex ‘C’ and made an On 3 December 2010, petitioner filed an Ex ParteMotion for Reconsideration of the Order dated 15
integral part hereof. November 2010. In anOrder dated 14 December 2010, the RTC granted the motion in this wise:
6. Believing in good faith that said divorce capacitated her to remarry and that by such she
WHEREFORE, considering that the allegations and reliefs prayed for by the petitioner in her
reverted to her single status, petitioner married Masatomi Y. Ando on 13 September 2005 in a
petition and the instant Motion for Reconsideration falls within the jurisdiction of the Special Family
civil wedding celebrated in Sta. Ana, Pampanga. A copy of their Certificate of Marriage is hereto
Court of this jurisdiction and for the interest ofsubstantial justice, the Order of the Court dated
attached as Annex ‘D’ and made an integral part hereof.
7. In the meantime, Yuichiro Kobayashi married Ryo Miken on 27 December 2005. A copy of November 15, 2010 is hereby reconsidered.
the JapaneseFamily Registry Record of Kobayashi showing the divorce he obtained and his Let the record of this case be therefore referred back to the Office of the Clerk of Court for proper
remarriage with Ryo Miken, duly authenticated by the Consulate-General of Japan and the endorsement to the Family Court of this jurisdiction for appropriateaction and/or
Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, is hereto attached as Annex ‘E’ and made an integral disposition.5 Thereafter, the case was raffled to Branch 45 of the RTC. On 14 January 2011, the
part hereof. trial court dismissed the Petition anew on the ground that petitioner had no cause of action. The
8. Recently, petitioner applied for the renewal of her Philippine passport to indicate her Order reads thus:
surname withher husband Masatomi Y. Ando but she was told at the Department of Foreign The petition specifically admits that the marriage she seeks to be declared as valid is already her
Affairs that the same cannot be issued to her until she can prove bycompetent court decision second marriage, a bigamous marriage under Article 35(4) of the Family Codeconsidering that the
that her marriage with her said husband Masatomi Y. Ando is valid until otherwise declared. first one, though allegedly terminated by virtue of the divorce obtained by Kobayashi, was never
xxxx recognized by a Philippine court, hence, petitioner is considered as still married to Kobayashi.
12. Prescinding from the foregoing, petitioner’s marriage with her said husband Masatomi Y. Accordingly, the second marriage with Ando cannot be honored and considered asvalid at this
Ando musttherefore be honored, considered and declared valid, until otherwise declared by a time.
competent court. Consequently, and until then, petitioner therefore is and must be declared Petitioner’s allegation of Sec. 2 (a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is misplaced. The fact that no judicial
entitled to the issuance of a Philippine passport under the name ‘Edelina Ando y Tungol.’ declaration of nullity of her marriage with Ando was rendered does not make the same valid
Hence, this petitioner pursuant to Rule 63 of the Rules of Court.2 because such declaration under Article 40 ofthe Family Code is applicable onlyin case of re-
On 29 October 2010, petitioner filed with the RTC a Petition for Declaratory Relief, which was later marriage. More importantly, the absence of a judicial declaration of nullity of marriage is not even
raffled off to Branch 46. She impleaded the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as respondent a requisite to make a marriage valid.
and prayed for the following reliefs before the lower court: In view of the foregoing, the dismissal of this case is imperative.6
WHEREFORE, petitioner most respectfully prays of this Honorable Court that after proper On 1 February 2011,petitioner filed an Ex ParteMotion for Reconsideration of the Order dated 14
proceedings, judgment be rendered, as follows: January 2011. The motion was denied by the RTC in open court on 8 February2011, considering
(a) declaring as valid and subsisting the marriage between petitioner Edelina T. Ando and her that neither the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) nor respondent was furnished with copies of
husband Masatomi Y. Ando until otherwise declared by a competent court;
the motion.
(b) declaring petitioner entitled to the issuance of a Philippine Passport under the name
On 24 March 2011, petitioner filed the instant Petition for Review, raising the sole issue of whether
"Edelina Ando y Tungol"; and
or not the RTC erred in ruling that she had no cause of action.
(c) directing the Department ofForeign Affairs to honor petitioner’s marriage to her husband
Masatomi Y. Ando and to issue a Philippine Passport to petitioner under the name "Edelina Petitioner argues that under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, or the Rule on the Declaration of Absolute
Ando y Tungol". Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, it is solely the wife or the husband
Petitioner prays for such other just and equitable reliefs.3 who can file a petition for the declaration of the absolute nullity of a void marriage. Thus, as the
On 15 November 2010, in an Order dismissing the Petition for want of cause and action, as well as state is not even allowed to filea direct petition for the declaration of the absolute nullity of a void
jurisdiction, the RTC held thus: marriage,with even more reason can it not collaterally attack the validity of a marriage, as in a
Records of the case would reveal that prior to petitioner’s marriage to Masatomi Y. Ando, herein petition for declaratory relief. Further, petitioner alleges that under the law, a marriage – even one
petitioner was married to Yuichiro Kobayashi, a Japanese National, in Candaba, Pampanga, on that is void or voidable – shall be deemed valid until declared otherwise in a judicial proceeding.
September 16, 2001, and that though a divorce was obtained and granted in Japan, with respect Petitioner also argues that assuming a court judgment recognizing a judicial decree of divorce is
to the their (sic) marriage, there is no showing that petitioner herein complied with the required under Article 13 of the Family Code, noncompliance therewith is a mere irregularity in the
requirements set forth in Art. 13 of the Family Code – that is obtaining a judicial recognition of the issuance of a marriage license. Any irregularity in the formal requisites of marriage, such as with
foreign decree of absolute divorce in our country.
Persons and Family Relations September 5 and 7 Page |8

respect to the marriage license, shall notaffect the legality of the marriage. Petitioner further Presumptive Death by a Civil or Shari’ah Court, in which case the applicant may choose to continue
claims that all the requisites for a petition for declaratory relief have been complied with. to use her husband’s surname or resume the use of her maiden surname. From the above
With respect to the failure to furnish a copy of the Ex ParteMotion for Reconsideration to the OSG provisions, it is clear that for petitioner to obtain a copy of her passport under her married name,
and the DFA, petitioner avers that at the time of the filing, the RTC had yet to issue a summons to all she needed to present were the following: (1) the original or certified true copyof her marriage
respondent; thus, it had yet to acquire jurisdiction over them. contract and one photocopy thereof; (2) a Certificate of Attendance in a Guidance and Counseling
Thereafter, the DFA, through the OSG, filed a Comment on the Petition. The latter raised the Seminar, if applicable; and (3) a certified true copy of the Divorce Decree duly authenticated by
following arguments: (1) the Petition was improperly verified, as the juratin the Verification thereof the Philippine Embassy or consular post that has jurisdiction over the place where the divorce is
only stated that the affiant had exhibited "her currentand valid proof of identity," which proof was obtained or by the concerned foreign diplomatic or consular mission in the Philippines.
not properly indicated, however; (2) prior judicial recognition by a Philippine court of a divorce In this case, petitioner was allegedly told that she would not be issued a Philippine passport under
decree obtained by the alien spouse is required before a Filipino spouse can remarry and be her second husband’s name.1âwphi1 Should her application for a passport be denied, the remedies
entitled to the legal effects of remarriage; (3) petitioner failed to show that she had first exhausted available to her are provided in Section 9 of R.A. 8239, which reads thus:
all available administrative remedies, such as appealing to the Secretary of the DFA under Republic Sec. 9. Appeal. — Any person who feels aggrieved as a result of the application of this Act of the
Act No. (R.A.) 8239, or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, before resorting to the special civil implementing rules and regulations issued by the Secretary shall have the right to appeal to the
action of declaratory relief; and (4) petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration before the RTC was a Secretary of Foreign Affairs from whose decision judicial review may be had to the Courts in due
mere scrap of paper and did not toll the running of the period to appeal. Hence, the RTC Order course.
dated 14 January 2011 is now final. The IRR further provides in detail:
On 29 November 2011, petitioner filed her Reply to the Comment, addressing the issues raised ARTICLE 10 Appeal
therein. In the event that an application for a passport is denied, or an existing one cancelled or restricted,
THE COURT’S RULING the applicant or holder thereof shall have the right to appeal in writing to the Secretary within
The Court finds the Petition to be without merit. fifteen (15) days from notice of denial, cancellation or restriction.
First, with respect to her prayer to compel the DFA to issue her passport, petitioner incorrectly filed Clearly, she should have filed anappeal with the Secretary of the DFA in the event of the denial of
a petition for declaratory relief before the RTC. She should have first appealed before the her application for a passport, after having complied with the provisions of R.A. 8239. Petitioner’s
Secretary of Foreign Affairs, since her ultimate entreaty was to question the DFA’s refusal to issue argument that her application "cannot be said to havebeen either denied, cancelled or restricted by
a passport to her under her second husband’s name. [the DFA ], so as to make her an aggrieved party entitled to appeal", 7 as instead she "was merely
Under the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. 8239, which was adopted on 25 told"8 that her passport cannot be issued, does not persuade. The law provides a direct recourse
February 1997, the following are the additional documentary requirements before a married for petitioner in the event of the denial of her application.
woman may obtain a passport under the name of her spouse: Second, with respect to her prayer for the recognition of her second marriage as valid, petitioner
SECTION 2. The issuance of passports to married, divorced or widowed women shall be made should have filed, instead, a petition for the judicial recognition of her foreign divorce from her first
inaccordance with the following provisions: husband.
a) In case of a woman who is married and who decides to adopt the surname of her husband In Garcia v. Recio,9 we ruled that a divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be recognized in our
pursuant to Art. 370 of Republic Act No. 386, she must present the original or certifiedtrue jurisdiction, provided the decree is valid according to the national law of the foreigner. The
copy of her marriage contract, and one photocopy thereof. presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient; both the divorce decree and the governing
In addition thereto, a Filipino who contracts marriage in the Philippines to a foreigner, shall be personal law of the alien spouse who obtained the divorce must be proven. Because our courts do
required to present a Certificate of Attendance in a Guidance and Counselling Seminar not take judicial notice of foreign laws and judgment, our law on evidence requires that both the
conducted by the CFO when applying for a passport for the first time. divorce decree and the national law of the alien must be alleged and proven and like any other
b) In case of annulment of marriage, the applicant must present a certified true copy of her fact.10
annotated Marriage Contract or Certificate of Registration and the Court Order effecting the
While it has been ruled that a petition for the authority to remarry filed before a trial court actually
annulment.
constitutes a petition for declaratory relief,11 we are still unable to grant the prayer of petitioner. As
c) In case of a woman who was divorced by her alien husband, she must present a certified
held by the RTC, there appears to be insufficient proof or evidence presented on record of both
true copy of the Divorce Decree duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or consular post
which has jurisdiction over the place where the divorce is obtained or by the concerned foreign the national law of her first husband, Kobayashi, and of the validity of the divorce decree under
diplomatic or consular mission in the Philippines. that national law.12 Hence, any declaration as to the validity of the divorce can only be made upon
When the divorcee is a Filipino Muslim, she must present a certified true copy of the Divorce her complete submission of evidence proving the divorce decree and the national law of her alien
Decree or a certified true copy of the Certificate of Divorce from the Shari’ah Court or the OCRG. spouse, in an action instituted in the proper forum.
d) In the event that marriage is dissolved by the death of the husband, the applicant must present WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED without prejudice to petitioner's recourse to the
the original or certified true copy of the Death Certificate of the husband or the Declaration of proper remedies available.
Persons and Family Relations September 5 and 7 Page |9

SO ORDERED. with his work as a seaman.8 He further testified that he requested his brother to verify from the
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO Civil Register in Manila whether there was any marriage at all between him and Villareyes, but
Chief Justice, Chairperson there was no record of said marriage.9
On November 10, 1997, the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City, Branch 54, rendered a decision
finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy under Article 349 of the
G.R. No. 150758 February 18, 2004 Revised Penal Code, and sentencing him to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision
VERONICO TENEBRO, petitioner correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum. 10 On
vs. appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court. Petitioner’s motion for
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondent. reconsideration was denied for lack of merit.
DECISION Hence, the instant petition for review on the following assignment of errors:
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED, AND THIS ERROR IS CORRECTIBLE
We are called on to decide the novel issue concerning the effect of the judicial declaration of the IN THIS APPEAL – WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT A
nullity of a second or subsequent marriage, on the ground of psychological incapacity, on an QUOCONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE CRIME OF BIGAMY, DESPITE THE NON-
individual’s criminal liability for bigamy. We hold that the subsequent judicial declaration of nullity EXISTENCE OF THE FIRST MARRIAGE AND INSUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE.
of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity does not retroact to the date of the II. THE COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE CRIME OF BIGAMY
celebration of the marriage insofar as the Philippines’ penal laws are concerned. As such, an DESPITE CLEAR PROOF THAT THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE ACCUSED AND PRIVATE
individual who contracts a second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid COMPLAINANT HAD BEEN DECLARED NULL AND VOID AB INITIO AND WITHOUT LEGAL
FORCE AND EFFECT.11
marriage is criminally liable for bigamy, notwithstanding the subsequent declaration that the
After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find no cogent reason to disturb the assailed
second marriage is void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity.
judgment.
Petitioner in this case, Veronico Tenebro, contracted marriage with private complainant Leticia
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, the elements of the crime of Bigamy are:
Ancajas on April 10, 1990. The two were wed by Judge Alfredo B. Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court
(1) that the offender has been legally married;
of Lapu-lapu City. Tenebro and Ancajas lived together continuously and without interruption until
(2) that the first marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent,
the latter part of 1991, when Tenebro informed Ancajas that he had been previously married to a
the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code;
certain Hilda Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Tenebro showed Ancajas a photocopy of a (3) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and
marriage contract between him and Villareyes. Invoking this previous marriage, petitioner (4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity. 12
thereafter left the conjugal dwelling which he shared with Ancajas, stating that he was going to Petitioner’s assignment of errors presents a two-tiered defense, in which he (1) denies the
cohabit with Villareyes.1 existence of his first marriage to Villareyes, and (2) argues that the declaration of the nullity of the
On January 25, 1993, petitioner contracted yet another marriage, this one with a certain Nilda second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, which is an alleged indicator that his
Villegas, before Judge German Lee, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 15.2 When marriage to Ancajas lacks the essential requisites for validity, retroacts to the date on which the
Ancajas learned of this third marriage, she verified from Villareyes whether the latter was indeed second marriage was celebrated.13 Hence, petitioner argues that all four of the elements of the
married to petitioner. In a handwritten letter,3 Villareyes confirmed that petitioner, Veronico crime of bigamy are absent, and prays for his acquittal.14
Tenebro, was indeed her husband. Petitioner’s defense must fail on both counts.
Ancajas thereafter filed a complaint for bigamy against petitioner.4 The Information,5 which was First, the prosecution presented sufficient evidence, both documentary and oral, to prove the
docketed as Criminal Case No. 013095-L, reads: existence of the first marriage between petitioner and Villareyes. Documentary evidence presented
That on the 10th day of April 1990, in the City of Lapu-lapu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of was in the form of: (1) a copy of a marriage contract between Tenebro and Villareyes, dated
this Honorable Court, the aforenamed accused, having been previously united in lawful marriage with
November 10, 1986, which, as seen on the document, was solemnized at the Manila City Hall
Hilda Villareyes, and without the said marriage having been legally dissolved, did then and there
before Rev. Julieto Torres, a Minister of the Gospel, and certified to by the Office of the Civil
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with LETICIA ANCAJAS, which second or
Registrar of Manila;15 and (2) a handwritten letter from Villareyes to Ancajas dated July 12, 1994,
subsequent marriage of the accused has all the essential requisites for validity were it not for the
subsisting first marriage. informing Ancajas that Villareyes and Tenebro were legally married. 16
CONTRARY TO LAW. To assail the veracity of the marriage contract, petitioner presented (1) a certification issued by the
When arraigned, petitioner entered a plea of "not guilty".6 National Statistics Office dated October 7, 1995;17 and (2) a certification issued by the City Civil
During the trial, petitioner admitted having cohabited with Villareyes from 1984-1988, with whom Registry of Manila, dated February 3, 1997.18 Both these documents attest that the respective
he sired two children. However, he denied that he and Villareyes were validly married to each issuing offices have no record of a marriage celebrated between Veronico B. Tenebro and Hilda B.
other, claiming that no marriage ceremony took place to solemnize their union. 7 He alleged that he Villareyes on November 10, 1986.
signed a marriage contract merely to enable her to get the allotment from his office in connection
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 10

To our mind, the documents presented by the defense cannot adequately assail the marriage This argument is not impressed with merit.
contract, which in itself would already have been sufficient to establish the existence of a marriage Petitioner makes much of the judicial declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the
between Tenebro and Villareyes. ground of psychological incapacity, invoking Article 36 of the Family Code. What petitioner fails to
All three of these documents fall in the category of public documents, and the Rules of Court realize is that a declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological
provisions relevant to public documents are applicable to all. Pertinent to the marriage contract, incapacity is of absolutely no moment insofar as the State’s penal laws are concerned.
Section 7 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court reads as follows: As a second or subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of petitioner’s valid
Sec. 7. Evidence admissible when original document is a public record. – When the original of a marriage to Villareyes, petitioner’s marriage to Ancajas would be null and void ab initio completely
document is in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office, its contents may be regardless of petitioner’s psychological capacity or incapacity. 22 Since a marriage contracted during
proved by a certified copy issued by the public officer in custody thereof (Emphasis ours). the subsistence of a valid marriage is automatically void, the nullity of this second marriage is not
This being the case, the certified copy of the marriage contract, issued by a public officer in per se an argument for the avoidance of criminal liability for bigamy. Pertinently, Article 349 of the
custody thereof, was admissible as the best evidence of its contents. The marriage contract plainly Revised Penal Code criminalizes "any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage
indicates that a marriage was celebrated between petitioner and Villareyes on November 10, 1986, before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been
and it should be accorded the full faith and credence given to public documents. declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings". A plain
Moreover, an examination of the wordings of the certification issued by the National Statistics reading of the law, therefore, would indicate that the provision penalizes the mere act of
Office on October 7, 1995 and that issued by the City Civil Registry of Manila on February 3, 1997 contracting a second or a subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage.
would plainly show that neither document attests as a positive fact that there was no marriage Thus, as soon as the second marriage to Ancajas was celebrated on April 10, 1990, during the
celebrated between Veronico B. Tenebro and Hilda B. Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Rather, subsistence of the valid first marriage, the crime of bigamy had already been consummated. To
the documents merely attest that the respective issuing offices have no record of such a marriage. our mind, there is no cogent reason for distinguishing between a subsequent marriage that is null
Documentary evidence as to the absence of a record is quite different from documentary evidence and void purely because it is a second or subsequent marriage, and a subsequent marriage that is
as to the absence of a marriage ceremony, or documentary evidence as to the invalidity of the null and void on the ground of psychological incapacity, at least insofar as criminal liability for
marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes. The marriage contract presented by the prosecution bigamy is concerned. The State’s penal laws protecting the institution of marriage are in
serves as positive evidence as to the existence of the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes, recognition of the sacrosanct character of this special contract between spouses, and punish an
which should be given greater credence than documents testifying merely as to absence of any individual’s deliberate disregard of the permanent character of the special bond between spouses,
record of the marriage, especially considering that there is absolutely no requirement in the law which petitioner has undoubtedly done.
that a marriage contract needs to be submitted to the civil registrar as a condition precedent for Moreover, the declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological
the validity of a marriage. The mere fact that no record of a marriage exists does not invalidate the incapacity is not an indicator that petitioner’s marriage to Ancajas lacks the essential requisites for
marriage, provided all requisites for its validity are present.19 There is no evidence presented by validity. The requisites for the validity of a marriage are classified by the Family Code into essential
the defense that would indicate that the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes lacked any (legal capacity of the contracting parties and their consent freely given in the presence of the
requisite for validity, apart from the self-serving testimony of the accused himself. Balanced solemnizing officer)23 and formal (authority of the solemnizing officer, marriage license, and
against this testimony are Villareyes’ letter, Ancajas’ testimony that petitioner informed her of the marriage ceremony wherein the parties personally declare their agreement to marry before the
existence of the valid first marriage, and petitioner’s own conduct, which would all tend to indicate solemnizing officer in the presence of at least two witnesses).24 Under Article 5 of the Family Code,
that the first marriage had all the requisites for validity. any male or female of the age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments
Finally, although the accused claims that he took steps to verify the non-existence of the first mentioned in Articles 3725 and 3826 may contract marriage.27
marriage to Villareyes by requesting his brother to validate such purported non-existence, it is In this case, all the essential and formal requisites for the validity of marriage were satisfied by
significant to note that the certifications issued by the National Statistics Office and the City Civil petitioner and Ancajas. Both were over eighteen years of age, and they voluntarily contracted the
Registry of Manila are dated October 7, 1995 and February 3, 1997, respectively. Both documents, second marriage with the required license before Judge Alfredo B. Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court
therefore, are dated after the accused’s marriage to his second wife, private respondent in this of Lapu-lapu City, in the presence of at least two witnesses.
case. Although the judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage on the ground of psychological
As such, this Court rules that there was sufficient evidence presented by the prosecution to prove incapacity retroacts to the date of the celebration of the marriage insofar as the vinculum between
the first and second requisites for the crime of bigamy. the spouses is concerned, it is significant to note that said marriage is not without legal effects.
The second tier of petitioner’s defense hinges on the effects of the subsequent judicial Among these effects is that children conceived or born before the judgment of absolute nullity of
declaration20 of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity. the marriage shall be considered legitimate.28 There is therefore a recognition written into the law
Petitioner argues that this subsequent judicial declaration retroacts to the date of the celebration itself that such a marriage, although void ab initio, may still produce legal consequences. Among
of the marriage to Ancajas. As such, he argues that, since his marriage to Ancajas was these legal consequences is incurring criminal liability for bigamy. To hold otherwise would render
subsequently declared void ab initio, the crime of bigamy was not committed. 21 the State’s penal laws on bigamy completely nugatory, and allow individuals to deliberately ensure
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 11

that each marital contract be flawed in some manner, and to thus escape the consequences of obligations.4 According to Norma, the manifestations of Eulogio’s psychological incapacity are
contracting multiple marriages, while beguiling throngs of hapless women with the promise of his immaturity, habitual alcoholism, unbearable jealousy, maltreatment, constitutional laziness,
futurity and commitment. and abandonment of his family since December 27, 1985.
As such, we rule that the third and fourth requisites for the crime of bigamy are present in this Summons, together with a copy of the complaint, was served by personal service on Eulogio on October
case, and affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals. 21, 1996 by the sheriff.5 Eulogio failed to file an answer or to enter his appearance within the
As a final point, we note that based on the evidence on record, petitioner contracted marriage a reglementary period.
third time, while his marriages to Villareyes and Ancajas were both still subsisting. Although this is On November 25, 1996, the RTC ordered the Public Prosecutor to conduct an investigation on the
irrelevant in the determination of the accused’s guilt for purposes of this particular case, the act of case to determine whether or not there exists collusion between the contending parties. 6 On
the accused displays a deliberate disregard for the sanctity of marriage, and the State does not December 18, 1996, Public Prosecutor Joven M. Maramba submitted his Manifestation to the effect
look kindly on such activities. Marriage is a special contract, the key characteristic of which is its that no collusion existed between the contending parties. 7 On December 19, 1996, the RTC set the
permanence. When an individual manifests a deliberate pattern of flouting the foundation of the reception of evidence on January 8, 1997.8
State’s basic social institution, the State’s criminal laws on bigamy step in. On January 8, 1997, upon motion of Norma’s counsel, the RTC allowed the presentation of
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the penalty for the crime of bigamy is evidence before the Clerk of Court.9 Norma testified that since the birth of their firstborn, Eulogio
prision mayor, which has a duration of six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years. There has been a habitual alcoholic; when he is drunk he (a) sometimes sleeps on the streets, (b) every
being neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, the same shall be imposed in its medium so often, he goes to her office, utters unwholesome remarks against her and drags her home, (c)
period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, petitioner shall be entitled to a minimum term, he usually lays a hand on her, (d) he often scolds their children without justifiable reason; his
to be taken from the penalty next lower in degree, i.e., prision correccional which has a duration of liquor drinking habit has brought shame and embarrassment on their family; when she would
six (6) months and one (1) day to six (6) years. Hence, the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the refuse to give him money for his compulsive drinking habit, he would beat her up and threaten
decision of the trial court which sentenced petitioner to suffer an indeterminate penalty of four (4) her; he has not been employed since he was dismissed from work and he refuses to look for a job;
years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day she has been the one supporting the family, providing for the education and the basic needs of
of prision mayor, as maximum. their children out of her salary as a government employee; on December 27, 1985, because of
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition for review is DENIED. The assailed unbearable jealousy to her male officemates, Eulogio went to her office, dragged her home and
decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 21636, convicting petitioner Veronico Tenebro then beat her up; her brothers saw this, came to her rescue and then told Eulogio to get out of the
of the crime of Bigamy and sentencing him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years house; and since then, Eulogio has not visited or communicated with his family such that
and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of reconciliation is very unlikely.10 The Public Prosecutor thereafter conducted a brief cross-
prision mayor, as maximum, is AFFIRMED in toto. examination of Norma.11
SO ORDERED.Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Azcuna, Twelve days later, or on January 20, 1997, the RTC rendered its decision nullifying the marriage of
JJ., concur. Norma and Eulogio. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby GRANTS the instant petition for being impressed with merit. As such,
pursuant to Art. 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, the marriage between Norma L. Cuison-Melgar
G.R. No. 139676 March 31, 2006
and Eulogio A. Melgar, Jr. is declared an ABSOLUTE NULLITY.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
The Local Civil Registrar of Dagupan City is therefore ordered to cancel the Marriage Contract of the
vs.
parties bearing Registry No. 180 in the Marriage Registry of said Office after payment of the required
NORMA CUISON-MELGAR, Respondents. fees. Let a copy of this decision be furnished the following offices: The City Prosecution Office, Dagupan
DECISION City, the Solicitor General, and the Local Civil Registrar of Dagupan City.
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: SO ORDERED.12
Filed by the Republic of the Philippines (petitioner) is a petition for review on certiorari of the The RTC reasoned that:
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated August 11, 1999 in CA-G.R. CV No. 55538, which With the testimony of the petitioner, the Court is convinced that defendant has been incorrigible in his
affirmed in toto the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 43, Dagupan City (RTC) nullifying vices such as habitual alcoholism, subjecting his family to physical maltreatment and many times caused
the marriage of respondents Norma Cuison-Melgar (Norma) and Eulogio A. Melgar2 (Eulogio) them to be scandalized, his being indolent by not at least trying to look for a job so that he could also
pursuant to Article 363 of the Family Code. help his wife in supporting his family, and also his uncalled for display of his jealousy. These are clear
The factual background of the case is as follows: manifestation of his psychological incapacity to perform his marital obligation to his wife such as
On March 27, 1965, Norma and Eulogio were married before the Catholic Church in Dagupan showing respect, understanding and love to her. Defendant also became indifferent to the needs of his
City. Their union begot five children, namely, Arneldo, Fermin, Norman, Marion Joy, and own children who really longed for a father who is willing to make the sacrifice in looking for a job so as
Eulogio III. On August 19, 1996, Norma filed for declaration of nullity of her marriage on the to support them. Without any communication to his family since 1985, certaining [sic] reconciliation and
ground of Eulogio’s psychological incapacity to comply with his essential marital love would be improbable. The attendant circumstances in this case really point to the fact that
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 12

defendant was unprepared to comply with his responsibilities as a good and responsible husband to his good, solid and happy families. The break up of families weakens our social and moral fabric and,
wife and a loving father to his children x x x.13 hence, their preservation is not the concern alone of the family members. 22
In this regard, Article 48 of the Family Code mandates:
Petitioner, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed an appeal with the CA,
ART. 48. In all cases of annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage, the Court shall
contending that the evidence presented are not sufficient to declare the marriage void under
order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf of the State to take
Article 36 of the Family Code.14 On August 11, 1999, the CA rendered its Decision affirming the
steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that the evidence is not
decision of the RTC.15 The CA, quoting extensively Norma’s testimony, ratiocinated:
fabricated or suppressed.
[I]t has been adequately established that the decree of annulment is proper not simply because of
In the cases referred to in the preceding paragraph, no judgment shall be based upon a stipulation
defendant’s habitual alcoholism but likewise because of other causes amounting to psychological
of facts or confession of judgment. (Emphasis supplied)
incapacity as a result of which defendant has failed to perform his obligations under Articles 68-72,
Similarly, Section 6 of Rule 18 of the 1985 Rules of Court, 23 the rule then applicable, provides:
220, 221 and 225 of the Family Code x x x. Sec. 6. No defaults in actions for annulment of marriage or for legal separation. - If the
Contrary to the submission of the appellant Republic, the grant of annulment is not based merely defendant in an action for annulment of marriage or for legal separation fails to answer, the
on defendant’s habitual alcoholism but also because of his inability to cope with his other essential court shall order the prosecuting attorney to investigate whether or not a collusion between the
marital obligations foremost of which is his obligation to live together with his wife, observe mutual parties exists, and if there is no collusion, to intervene for the State in order to see to it that
love, respect, fidelity and render mutual help and support. For the whole duration of their the evidence submitted is not fabricated. (Emphasis supplied)
marriage, that is, the period when they actually lived together as husband and wide and even In Republic v. Molina,24 the Court emphasized the role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal, and
thereafter, defendant has miserably failed to perform his obligations for which reason the plaintiff the OSG to appear as counsel for the State in proceedings for annulment and declaration of nullity
should not be made to suffer any longer. The contention of the Republic that plaintiff never of marriages:
showed that she exerted effort to seek medical help for her husband is stretching the obligations (8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to
of the plaintiff beyond its limits. To our mind, it is equivalent to saying that plaintiff deserves to be appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor General
punished for all the inabilities of defendant to perform his concomitant duties as a husband and a issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his reasons for
father all of which inabilities in the first place are in no way attributable to the herein plaintiff. 16 his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor General, along
Hence, the present petition for review on certiorari. with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification within fifteen (15)
In its Petition,17 the OSG poses a sole issue for resolution: days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of the court. The Solicitor
WHETHER OR NOT THE ALLEGED PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY OF RESPONDENT IS IN THE NATURE General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor vinculi contemplated under
CONTEMPLATED BY ARTICLE 36 OF THE FAMILY CODE.18 Canon 1095.25 (Emphasis supplied)
The OSG contends that the law does not contemplate mere inability to perform the essential In this case, the State did not actively participate in the prosecution of the case at the trial level.
marital obligations as equivalent to or evidence of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Other than the Public Prosecutor’s Manifestation26 that no collusion existed between the
Family Code; that such inability must be due to causes that are psychological in nature; that no contending parties and the brief cross-examination27 which had barely scratched the surface, no
psychiatrist or psychologist testified during the trial that a psychological disorder is the cause of pleading, motion, or position paper was filed by the Public Prosecutor or the OSG. The State
Eulogio's inability to look for a job, his resulting drunkenness, unbearable jealousy and other should have been given the opportunity to present controverting evidence before the judgment
disagreeable behavior; and that the decision failed to state the nature, gravity or seriousness, and was rendered.28 Truly, only the active participation of the Public Prosecutor or the OSG will ensure
incurability of Eulogio’s alleged psychological incapacity. that the interest of the State is represented and protected in proceedings for annulment and
In her Comment,19 Norma maintains that her testimony pointing to the facts and circumstances of declaration of nullity of marriages by preventing collusion between the parties, or the fabrication or
Eulogio’s immaturity, habitual alcoholism, unbearable jealousy, maltreatment, constitutional suppression of evidence.29
laziness and indolence are more than enough proof of Eulogio’s psychological incapacity to comply Be that as it may, the totality of evidence presented by Norma is completely insufficient to sustain
with his essential marital obligations, which justifies the dissolution of their marriage. a finding that Eulogio is psychologically incapacitated.
In its Reply,20 the OSG submits that Norma’s comments are irrelevant and not responsive to the In Santos v. Court of Appeals,30 the Court declared that psychological incapacity must be
arguments in the petition. Nonetheless, the OSG reiterates that Norma’s evidence fell short of the characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence, and (c) incurability. 31 It should refer to "no
requirements of the law since no competent evidence was presented during the trial to prove that less than a mental, not physical, incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic
Eulogio’s inability to look for a job, his resulting drunkenness, jealousy and other disagreeable marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the
behavior are manifestations of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code. marriage."32 The intendment of the law has been to confine the meaning of "psychological
Prefatorily, it bears stressing that it is the policy of our Constitution to protect and strengthen the incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter
family as the basic autonomous social institution and marriage as the foundation of the insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. 33
family.21 Our family law is based on the policy that marriage is not a mere contract, but a social Subsequently, the Court laid down in Republic of the Philippines v. Molina34 the guidelines in the
institution in which the state is vitally interested. The State can find no stronger anchor than on interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Code, to wit:
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(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity of marriage based on psychological incapacity.
should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its Such psychological incapacity, however, must be established by the totality of the evidence
dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish presented during the trial.37
the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article In the present case, Norma alone testified in support of her complaint for declaration of nullity of
on the Family, recognizing it "as the foundation of the nation." It decrees marriage as legally her marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code. She failed to establish the fact that at the time
"inviolable," thereby protecting it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family they were married, Eulogio was already suffering from a psychological defect which in fact
and marriage are to be "protected" by the state. deprived him of the ability to assume the essential duties of marriage and its concomitant
The Family Code echoes this constitutional edict on marriage and the family and emphasizes
responsibilities. In fact, Norma admitted in her testimony that her marital woes and Eulogio’s
their permanence, inviolability and solidarity.
disagreeable behavior started only after the birth of their firstborn and when Eulogio lost his job. 38
(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be: (a) medically or clinically identified,
Further, no other evidence was presented to show that Eulogio was not cognizant of the basic
(b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the
decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological - not marital obligations as outlined in Articles 68 to 72,39 220,40 221,41 and 22542 of the Family Code. It
physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. The evidence must was not sufficiently proved that Eulogio was really incapable of fulfilling his duties due to some
convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or psychically ill to such an incapacity of a psychological nature, and not merely physical.lawphil.net
extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was assuming, or knowing The Court cannot presume psychological defect from the mere fact of Eulogio’s immaturity,
them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no example of such incapacity habitual alcoholism, unbearable jealousy, maltreatment, constitutional laziness, and abandonment
need be given here so as not to limit the application of the provision under the principle of his family. These circumstances by themselves cannot be equated with psychological incapacity
of ejusdem generis (Salita v. Magtolis, 233 SCRA 100, 108), nevertheless such root cause must within the contemplation of the Family Code. It must be shown that these acts are manifestations
be identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert of a disordered personality which make Eulogio completely unable to discharge the essential
evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists. obligations of the marital state.43
(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the At best, the circumstances relied upon by Norma are grounds for legal separation under Article
marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged 5544 of the Family Code. As the Court ruled in Republic of the Philippines v. Molina, 45 it is not
their "I do’s." The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the enough to prove that a spouse failed to meet his responsibility and duty as a married person, it is
illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto. essential that he must be shown to be incapable of doing so due to some psychological, not
(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable. physical, illness. There was no proof of a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an
Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates a person from
necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be
accepting and complying with the obligations essential to marriage.46
relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to those not related to
All told, in order that the allegation of psychological incapacity may not be considered a mere
marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may
fabrication, evidence other than Norma’s lone testimony should have been adduced. While an
be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing medicine to cure them but may
not be psychologically capacitated to procreate, bear and raise his/her own children as an actual medical, psychiatric or psychological examination is not a conditio sine qua non to a finding
essential obligation of marriage. of psychological incapacity,47 an expert witness would have strengthened Norma’s claim of
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the Eulogio’s alleged psychological incapacity. Norma’s omission to present one is fatal to her position.
essential obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild characteriological peculiarities, mood changes, There can be no conclusion of psychological incapacity where there is absolutely no showing that
occasional emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness must be shown the "defects" were already present at the inception of the marriage or that they are incurable. 48
as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In The Court commiserates with Norma’s marital predicament, but as a court, even as the highest
other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an adverse integral one, it can only apply the letter and the spirit of the law; it cannot reinvent or modify it.
element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person from really Unfortunately, law and jurisprudence are ranged against Norma’s stance. The Court has no choice
accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage. but to apply them accordingly, if it must be true to its mission under the rule of law. The Court’s
(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the first and foremost duty is to apply the law no matter how harsh it may be.
Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same WHEREFORE, the present petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals
Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must also dated August 11, 1999 in CA-G.R. CV No. 55538, affirming the Decision of the Regional Trial Court,
be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the decision. Branch 43, Dagupan City in Civil Case No. CV-96-01061-D, dated January 20, 1997,
(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint of Norma Cuison-Melgar in Civil Case No. CV-96-
in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our courts. 01061-D is DISMISSED.
x x x.35 (Emphasis supplied)
SO ORDERED.
Later, the Court clarified in Marcos v. Marcos36 that there is no requirement that the
defendant/respondent spouse should be personally examined by a physician or psychologist as a
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 14

GERBERT R. CORPUZ, G.R. No. 186571 the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse
Petitioner, shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
- versus - This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative intent behind the enactment of
DAISYLYN TIROL STO. TOMAS and The the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, as determined by the Court in Republic v.
SOLICITOR GENERAL, Orbecido III;[10] the provision was enacted to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse
Respondents. remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the
x-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x Filipino spouse.[11]
DECISION THE PETITION
BRION, J.: From the RTCs ruling,[12] Gerbert filed the present petition.[13]
Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially for declaratory relief, similar
of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via a petition for review on certiorari[2]under Rule 45 of the to that filed in Orbecido; he, thus, similarly asks for a determination of his rights under the second
Rules of Court (present petition). paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. Taking into account the rationale behind the second
Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen who acquired Canadian citizenship paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, he contends that the provision applies as well to the
through naturalization on November 29, 2000.[3] On January 18, 2005, Gerbert married respondent benefit of the alien spouse. He claims that the RTC ruling unduly stretched the doctrine
Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a Filipina, in Pasig City.[4] Due to work and other professional in Orbecido by limiting the standing to file the petition only to the Filipino spouse an interpretation
commitments, Gerbert left for Canada soon after the wedding. He returned to he claims to be contrary to the essence of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
the Philippines sometime in April 2005 to surprise Daisylyn, but was shocked to discover that his Code. He considers himself as a proper party, vested with sufficient legal interest, to institute the
wife was having an affair with another man. Hurt and disappointed, Gerbert returned case, as there is a possibility that he might be prosecuted for bigamy if he marries his Filipina
to Canada and filed a petition for divorce. The Superior Court of fiance in the Philippines since two marriage certificates, involving him, would be on file with the
Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada granted Gerberts petition for divorce on December 8, 2005. The Civil Registry Office. The Office of the Solicitor General and Daisylyn, in their respective
divorce decree took effect a month later, on January 8, 2006.[5] Comments,[14] both support Gerberts position.
Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has found another Filipina to Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second paragraph of Article 26 of
love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina fiance in the Philippines, Gerbert went to the Pasig City the Family Code extends to aliens the right to petition a court of this jurisdiction for
Civil Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree on his and Daisylyns marriage the recognition of a foreign divorce decree.
certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an official of the National Statistics Office
(NSO) informed Gerbert that the marriage between him and Daisylyn still subsists under Philippine THE COURTS RULING
law; to be enforceable, the foreign divorce decree must first be judicially recognized by a The alien spouse can claim no right under
competent Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982.[6] the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Accordingly, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce and/or Family Code as the substantive right it
declaration of marriage as dissolved (petition) with the RTC. Although summoned, Daisylyn establishes is in favor of the Filipino
did not file any responsive pleading but submitted instead a notarized letter/manifestation to the spouse
trial court. She offered no opposition to Gerberts petition and, in fact, alleged her desire to file a The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative history and intent behind the second
similar case herself but was prevented by financial and personal circumstances. She, thus, paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code.
requested that she be considered as a party-in-interest with a similar prayer to Gerberts. The Family Code recognizes only two types of defective marriages void[15] and
In its October 30, 2008 decision,[7] the RTC denied Gerberts petition. The RTC concluded that voidable[16] marriages. In both cases, the basis for the judicial declaration of absolute nullity or
Gerbert was not the proper party to institute the action for judicial recognition of the foreign annulment of the marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage. Divorce, on the other
divorce decree as he is a naturalized Canadian citizen. It ruled that only the Filipino spouse can hand, contemplates the dissolution of the lawful union for cause arising after the marriage.[17] Our
avail of the remedy, under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, [8] in order for family laws do not recognize absolute divorce between Filipino citizens.[18]
him or her to be able to remarry under Philippine law.[9] Article 26 of the Family Code reads: Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages between a Filipino and an
Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the alien, President Corazon C. Aquino, in the exercise of her legislative powers under the Freedom
laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall Constitution,[19] enacted Executive Order No. (EO) 227, amending Article 26 of the Family Code to
also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), its present wording, as follows:
36, 37 and 38. Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such,
validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by
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shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) The foreign divorce decree is presumptive
and (6), 36, 37 and 38. evidence of a right that clothes the party
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is with legal interest to petition for its
validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the recognition in this jurisdiction
alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall We qualify our above conclusion i.e., that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. Code bestows no rights in favor of aliens with the complementary statement that this conclusion is
Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, EO 227 effectively incorporated not sufficient basis to dismiss Gerberts petition before the RTC. In other words, the unavailability
into the law this Courts holding in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.[20] and Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera.[21] In both of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code to aliens does not necessarily strip
cases, the Court refused to acknowledge the alien spouses assertion of marital rights after a Gerbert of legal interest to petition the RTC for the recognition of his foreign divorce decree. The
foreign courts divorce decree between the alien and the Filipino. The Court, thus, recognized that foreign divorce decree itself, after its authenticity and conformity with the aliens national law have
the foreign divorce had already severed the marital bond between the spouses. The Court been duly proven according to our rules of evidence, serves as a presumptive evidence of right in
reasoned in Van Dorn v. Romillo that: favor of Gerbert, pursuant to Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which provides for the
To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the Filipino spouse] has to be effect of foreign judgments. This Section states
considered still married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to a wife's SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders.The effect of a
obligations x x x cannot be just. [The Filipino spouse] should not be obliged to judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having
live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support to [the alien jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:
spouse]. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs with possible rights to (a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the
conjugal property. She should not be discriminated against in her own country judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title of the thing; and
if the ends of justice are to be served.[22] (b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person,
As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in the law to avoid the absurd the judgment or final order is presumptive evidence of a
situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after right as between the parties and their successors in interest
obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse.[23] The legislative intent is by a subsequent title.
for the benefit of the Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her marital status, settling the In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a
doubts created by the divorce decree. Essentially, the second paragraph of Article want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of
26 of the Family Code provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to have law or fact.
his or her marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign judgment is sufficient to clothe
him or her to remarry.[24] Without the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family a party with the requisite interest to institute an action before our courts for the recognition of the
Code, the judicial recognition of the foreign decree of divorce, whether in a proceeding foreign judgment. In a divorce situation, we have declared, no less, that the divorce obtained by
instituted precisely for that purpose or as a related issue in another proceeding, would be an alien abroad may be recognized in the Philippines, provided the divorce is valid according to his
of no significance to the Filipino spouse since our laws do not recognize divorce as a mode or her national law.[27]
of severing the marital bond;[25] Article 17 of the Civil Code provides that the policy The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the acknowledgment
against absolute divorces cannot be subverted by judgments promulgated in a foreign that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained
country. The inclusion of the second paragraph in Article 26 of the Family Code provides that, as a rule, no sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a judgment rendered by
the direct exception to this rule and serves as basis for recognizing the dissolution of the a tribunal of another country.[28] This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be
marriage between the Filipino spouse and his or her alien spouse. proven as facts under our rules on evidence, together with the aliens applicable national law to
Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is not show the effect of the judgment on the alien himself or herself. [29] The recognition may be made in
limited to the recognition of the foreign divorce decree. If the court finds that the decree an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party invokes the
capacitated the alien spouse to remarry, the courts can declare that the Filipino spouse is likewise foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense.
capacitated to contract another marriage. No court in this jurisdiction, however, can make a similar In Gerberts case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the alien,
declaration for the alien spouse (other than that already established by the decree), whose status recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a divorce, purport to be official acts of a sovereign
and legal capacity are generally governed by his national law.[26] authority, Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court comes into play. This Section requires proof,
Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the purpose of the second either by (1) official publications or (2) copies attested by the officer having legal custody of the
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the RTC was correct in limiting the applicability of the documents. If the copies of official records are not kept in the Philippines, these must be (a)
provision for the benefit of the Filipino spouse. In other words, only the Filipino spouse can invoke accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine
the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code; the alien spouse can claim no right under foreign service stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated
this provisions by the seal of his office.
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The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a copy of the divorce decree, as xxxx
well as the required certificates proving its authenticity,[30] but failed to include a copy of the Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. The local registrars shall keep and preserve in
Canadian law on divorce.[31] Under this situation, we can, at this point, simply dismiss the petition their offices the following books, in which they shall, respectively make the proper
for insufficiency of supporting evidence, unless we deem it more appropriate to remand the case to entries concerning the civil status of persons:
the RTC to determine whether the divorce decree is consistent with the Canadian divorce law. (1) Birth and death register;
We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of action, given the Article 26 (2) Marriage register, in which shall be entered not only the
interests that will be served and the Filipina wifes (Daisylyns) obvious conformity with the marriages solemnized but also divorces and dissolved marriages.
petition. A remand, at the same time, will allow other interested parties to oppose the foreign (3) Legitimation, acknowledgment, adoption, change of name and
judgment and overcome a petitioners presumptive evidence of a right by proving want of naturalization register.
jurisdiction, want of notice to a party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. Needless to But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the civil registry, the law and the
state, every precaution must be taken to ensure conformity with our laws before a recognition is submission of the decree by themselves do not ipso facto authorize the decrees registration. The
made, as the foreign judgment, once recognized, shall have the effect of res judicata[32] between law should be read in relation with the requirement of a judicial recognition of the foreign
the parties, as provided in Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. [33] judgment before it can be given res judicata effect. In the context of the present case, no judicial
In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the practice of reciprocal order as yet exists recognizing the foreign divorce decree. Thus, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office
recognition of foreign judgments between nations, the res judicata effect of the foreign judgments acted totally out of turn and without authority of law when it annotated the Canadian divorce
of divorce serves as the deeper basis for extending judicial recognition and for considering the decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage certificate, on the strength alone of the foreign decree
alien spouse bound by its terms. This same effect, as discussed above, will not obtain for the presented by Gerbert.
Filipino spouse were it not for the substantive rule that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of the requirement of a court
Family Code provides. recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982,[36] and Department of Justice Opinion
Considerations beyond the recognition of No. 181, series of 1982[37] both of which required a final order from a competent Philippine
the foreign divorce decree court before a foreign judgment, dissolving a marriage, can be registered in the civil registry, but
As a matter of housekeeping concern, we note that the Pasig City Civil Registry Office it, nonetheless, allowed the registration of the decree. For being contrary to law, the registration of
has already recorded the divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage certificate the foreign divorce decree without the requisite judicial recognition is patently void and cannot
based on the mere presentation of the decree.[34] We consider the recording to be legally produce any legal effect
improper; hence, the need to draw attention of the bench and the bar to what had been done. Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the recognition that the RTC may
Article 407 of the Civil Code states that [a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil extend to the Canadian divorce decree does not, by itself, authorize the cancellation of the entry
status of persons shall be recorded in the civil register. The law requires the entry in the civil in the civil registry. A petition for recognition of a foreign judgment is not the proper proceeding,
registry of judicial decrees that produce legal consequences touching upon a persons legal capacity contemplated under the Rules of Court, for the cancellation of entries in the civil registry.
and status, i.e., those affecting all his personal qualities and relations, more or less permanent in Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that no entry in a civil register shall be changed or
nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his corrected, without judicial order. The Rules of Court supplements Article 412 of the Civil Code by
being married or not.[35] specifically providing for a special remedial proceeding by which entries in the civil registry may be
A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign one, affecting a persons judicially cancelled or corrected. Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets in detail the jurisdictional and
legal capacity and status that must be recorded. In fact, Act No. 3753 or the Law on Registry of procedural requirements that must be complied with before a judgment, authorizing the
Civil Status specifically requires the registration of divorce decrees in the civil registry: cancellation or correction, may be annotated in the civil registry. It also requires, among others,
Sec. 1. Civil Register. A civil register is established for recording the that the verified petition must be filed with the RTC of the province where the corresponding civil
civil status of persons, in which shall be entered: registry is located;[38] that the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest must be
(a) births; made parties to the proceedings;[39] and that the time and place for hearing must be published in a
(b) deaths; newspaper of general circulation.[40] As these basic jurisdictional requirements have not been met
(c) marriages; in the present case, we cannot consider the petition Gerbert filed with the RTC as one filed under
(d) annulments of marriages; Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
(e) divorces;
(f) legitimations; We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be construed as requiring two
(g) adoptions; separate proceedings for the registration of a foreign divorce decree in the civil registry one for
(h) acknowledgment of natural children; recognition of the foreign decree and another specifically for cancellation of the entry under Rule
(i) naturalization; and 108 of the Rules of Court. The recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule
(j) changes of name.
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108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of that the bigamous marriage between Marinay and Maekara be declared void ab initiounder Articles
Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact. Moreover, Rule 108 35(4) and 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines;5 and (3) for the RTC to direct the Local Civil
of the Rules of Court can serve as the appropriate adversarial proceeding [41] by which the Registrar of Quezon City to annotate the Japanese Family Court judgment on the Certificate of
applicability of the foreign judgment can be measured and tested in terms of jurisdictional Marriage between Marinay and Maekara and to endorse such annotation to the Office of the
infirmities, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. Administrator and Civil Registrar General in the National Statistics Office (NSO).6
The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition for review on certiorari, A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately issued an Order dismissing the
and REVERSE the October 30, 2008 decision of the Regional Trial Court of Laoag City, Branch 11, petition and withdrawing the case from its active civil docket.7 The RTC cited the following
as well as its February 17, 2009 order. We order the REMAND of the case to the trial court for provisions of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of
further proceedings in accordance with our ruling above. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC):
the Civil Registrar General. No costs. Sec. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. –
(a) Who may file. – A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed
SO ORDERED. solely by the husband or the wife.
xxxx
Sec. 4. Venue. – The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or city where the
G.R. No. 196049 June 26, 2013 petitioner or the respondent has been residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing, or in the
MINORU FUJIKI, PETITIONER, case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in the Philippines, at the election of the
vs. petitioner. x x x
MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in "gross violation" of the above
QUEZON CITY, AND THE ADMINISTRATOR AND CIVIL REGISTRAR GENERAL OF THE provisions. The trial court based its dismissal on Section 5(4) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which
NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE,RESPONDENTS. provides that "[f]ailure to comply with any of the preceding requirements may be a ground for
DECISION immediate dismissal of the petition."8 Apparently, the RTC took the view that only "the husband or
CARPIO, J.: the wife," in this case either Maekara or Marinay, can file the petition to declare their marriage
The Case void, and not Fujiki.
This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 107, Quezon Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC contemplated
City, through a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on a pure ordinary civil actions for declaration of nullity and annulment of marriage. Thus, A.M. No. 02-11-
question of law. The petition assails the Order1 dated 31 January 2011 of the RTC in Civil Case No. 10-SC does not apply. A petition for recognition of foreign judgment is a special proceeding, which
Q-11-68582 and its Resolution dated 2 March 2011 denying petitioner’s Motion for "seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular fact,"9 and not a civil action which is "for the
Reconsideration. The RTC dismissed the petition for "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong."10 In other words,
Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)" based on improper venue and the lack of personality of the petition in the RTC sought to establish (1) the status and concomitant rights of Fujiki and
petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to file the petition. Marinay as husband and wife and (2) the fact of the rendition of the Japanese Family Court
The Facts judgment declaring the marriage between Marinay and Maekara as void on the ground of bigamy.
Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married respondent Maria Paz Galela The petitioner contended that the Japanese judgment was consistent with Article 35(4) of the
Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines2 on 23 January 2004. The marriage did not sit well with Family Code of the Philippines11 on bigamy and was therefore entitled to recognition by Philippine
petitioner’s parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his wife to Japan where he resides. Eventually, courts.12
they lost contact with each other. In any case, it was also Fujiki’s view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applied only to void marriages
In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara (Maekara). Without the first marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological incapacity. 13 Thus, Section 2(a)
being dissolved, Marinay and Maekara were married on 15 May 2008 in Quezon City, Philippines. of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC provides that "a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void
Maekara brought Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay allegedly suffered physical abuse from marriages may be filed solely by the husband or the wife." To apply Section 2(a) in bigamy would
Maekara. She left Maekara and started to contact Fujiki. 3 be absurd because only the guilty parties would be permitted to sue. In the words of Fujiki, "[i]t is
Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish their relationship. In 2010, Fujiki not, of course, difficult to realize that the party interested in having a bigamous marriage declared
helped Marinay obtain a judgment from a family court in Japan which declared the marriage a nullity would be the husband in the prior, pre-existing marriage."14 Fujiki had material interest
between Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of bigamy. 4 On 14 January 2011, Fujiki filed a and therefore the personality to nullify a bigamous marriage.
petition in the RTC entitled: "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules
Nullity of Marriage)." Fujiki prayed that (1) the Japanese Family Court judgment be recognized; (2) of Court is applicable. Rule 108 is the "procedural implementation" of the Civil Register Law (Act
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 18

No. 3753)15 in relation to Article 413 of the Civil Code.16 The Civil Register Law imposes a duty on The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the RTC’s "pronouncement that the
the "successful petitioner for divorce or annulment of marriage to send a copy of the final decree petitioner failed to comply with x x x A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC x x x be set aside" and that the case be
of the court to the local registrar of the municipality where the dissolved or annulled marriage was reinstated in the trial court for further proceedings.32 The Solicitor General argued that Fujiki, as
solemnized."17 Section 2 of Rule 108 provides that entries in the civil registry relating to the spouse of the first marriage, is an injured party who can sue to declare the bigamous marriage
"marriages," "judgments of annulments of marriage" and "judgments declaring marriages void between Marinay and Maekara void. The Solicitor General cited Juliano-Llave v. Republic33 which
from the beginning" are subject to cancellation or correction. 18 The petition in the RTC sought held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in cases of bigamy. In Juliano-Llave,
(among others) to annotate the judgment of the Japanese Family Court on the certificate of this Court explained:
marriage between Marinay and Maekara. [t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she had only discovered
Fujiki’s motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that the trial court "gravely erred" during the connubial period that the marriage was bigamous, and especially if the conjugal bliss
when, on its own, it dismissed the petition based on improper venue. Fujiki stated that the RTC had already vanished. Should parties in a subsequent marriage benefit from the bigamous
may be confusing the concept of venue with the concept of jurisdiction, because it is lack of marriage, it would not be expected that they would file an action to declare the marriage void and
jurisdiction which allows a court to dismiss a case on its own. Fujiki cited Dacoycoy v. Intermediate thus, in such circumstance, the "injured spouse" who should be given a legal remedy is the one in
Appellate Court19 which held that the "trial court cannot pre-empt the defendant’s prerogative to a subsisting previous marriage. The latter is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage
object to the improper laying of the venue by motu proprio dismissing the case." 20Moreover, not only threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most
petitioner alleged that the trial court should not have "immediately dismissed" the petition under of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be a
Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC because he substantially complied with the provision. reminder of the infidelity of the spouse and the disregard of the prior marriage which sanctity is
On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. In its protected by the Constitution.34
Resolution, the RTC stated that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies because the petitioner, in effect, The Solicitor General contended that the petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court judgment
prays for a decree of absolute nullity of marriage.21 The trial court reiterated its two grounds for may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding.35 In Corpuz v. Santo Tomas,36 this Court held that "[t]he
dismissal, i.e. lack of personality to sue and improper venue under Sections 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No. recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the
02-11-10-SC. The RTC considered Fujiki as a "third person"22 in the proceeding because he "is not object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to
the husband in the decree of divorce issued by the Japanese Family Court, which he now seeks to establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact."37 While Corpuzconcerned a foreign
be judicially recognized, x x x."23 On the other hand, the RTC did not explain its ground of divorce decree, in the present case the Japanese Family Court judgment also affected the civil
impropriety of venue. It only said that "[a]lthough the Court cited Sec. 4 (Venue) x x x as a ground status of the parties, especially Marinay, who is a Filipino citizen.
for dismissal of this case[,] it should be taken together with the other ground cited by the Court x The Solicitor General asserted that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is the procedure to record
x x which is Sec. 2(a) x x x."24 "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons" in the civil registry as
The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition based on Braza v. The City Civil required by Article 407 of the Civil Code. In other words, "[t]he law requires the entry in the civil
Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.25 The Court in Braza ruled that "[i]n a special registry of judicial decrees that produce legal consequences upon a person’s legal capacity and
proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the status x x x."38 The Japanese Family Court judgment directly bears on the civil status of a Filipino
Original Registry), the trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages x x x." 26 Braza emphasized citizen and should therefore be proven as a fact in a Rule 108 proceeding.
that the "validity of marriages as well as legitimacy and filiation can be questioned only in a direct Moreover, the Solicitor General argued that there is no jurisdictional infirmity in assailing a void
action seasonably filed by the proper party, and not through a collateral attack such as [a] petition marriage under Rule 108, citing De Castro v. De Castro39 and Niñal v. Bayadog40 which declared
[for correction of entry] x x x."27 that "[t]he validity of a void marriage may be collaterally attacked." 41
The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the validity of marriage between Marinay Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to comply with the directive for them to
and Maekara. The trial court held that this is a "jurisdictional ground" to dismiss the comment on the petition.42 Maekara wrote that Marinay concealed from him the fact that she was
petition.28 Moreover, the verification and certification against forum shopping of the petition was previously married to Fujiki.43Maekara also denied that he inflicted any form of violence on
not authenticated as required under Section 529 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. Hence, this also Marinay.44 On the other hand, Marinay wrote that she had no reason to oppose the petition. 45 She
warranted the "immediate dismissal" of the petition under the same provision. would like to maintain her silence for fear that anything she say might cause misunderstanding
The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor General and the Letters of between her and Fujiki.46
Marinay and Maekara The Issues
On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their comment on the petition for Petitioner raises the following legal issues:
review.30 The public respondents, the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the Administrator (1) Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of
and Civil Registrar General of the NSO, participated through the Office of the Solicitor General. Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) is applicable.
Instead of a comment, the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion.31
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(2) Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to recognize a foreign marriage. Philippine courts cannot presume to know the foreign laws under which the foreign
judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between his or her spouse and a foreign citizen judgment was rendered. They cannot substitute their judgment on the status, condition and legal
on the ground of bigamy. capacity of the foreign citizen who is under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine courts
(3) Whether the Regional Trial Court can recognize the foreign judgment in a proceeding for can only recognize the foreign judgment as a fact according to the rules of evidence.
cancellation or correction of entries in the Civil Registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign judgment or final order against
The Ruling of the Court a person creates a "presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in
We grant the petition. interest by a subsequent title." Moreover, Section 48 of the Rules of Court states that "the
The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the
(A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." Thus, Philippine courts exercise limited
status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country. Moreover, in Juliano- review on foreign judgments. Courts are not allowed to delve into the merits of a foreign
Llave v. Republic,47 this Court held that the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the husband or judgment. Once a foreign judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine court, it can only be
wife can file a declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage "does not apply if the reason behind repelled on grounds external to its merits, i.e. , "want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party,
the petition is bigamy."48 collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." The rule on limited review embodies the policy of
I. efficiency and the protection of party expectations, 61 as well as respecting the jurisdiction of other
For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage where states.62
one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country, the petitioner only needs to prove the foreign Since 1922 in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,63 Philippine courts have recognized foreign divorce
judgment as a fact under the Rules of Court. To be more specific, a copy of the foreign judgment decrees between a Filipino and a foreign citizen if they are successfully proven under the rules of
may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation evidence.64 Divorce involves the dissolution of a marriage, but the recognition of a foreign divorce
to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.49 Petitioner may prove the Japanese Family Court decree does not involve the extended procedure under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the rules of
judgment through (1) an official publication or (2) a certification or copy attested by the officer ordinary trial. While the Philippines does not have a divorce law, Philippine courts may, however,
who has custody of the judgment. If the office which has custody is in a foreign country such as recognize a foreign divorce decree under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, to
Japan, the certification may be made by the proper diplomatic or consular officer of the Philippine capacitate a Filipino citizen to remarry when his or her foreign spouse obtained a divorce decree
foreign service in Japan and authenticated by the seal of office.50 abroad.65
To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for recognition of foreign judgment would There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a fact the Japanese Family Court
mean that the trial court and the parties should follow its provisions, including the form and judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy. While
contents of the petition,51 the service of summons,52 the investigation of the public the Philippines has no divorce law, the Japanese Family Court judgment is fully consistent with
prosecutor,53 the setting of pre-trial,54 the trial55 and the judgment of the trial court. 56 This is Philippine public policy, as bigamous marriages are declared void from the beginning under Article
absurd because it will litigate the case anew. It will defeat the purpose of recognizing foreign 35(4) of the Family Code. Bigamy is a crime under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. Thus,
judgments, which is "to limit repetitive litigation on claims and issues."57 The interpretation of the Fujiki can prove the existence of the Japanese Family Court judgment in accordance with Rule 132,
RTC is tantamount to relitigating the case on the merits. In Mijares v. Rañada,58 this Court Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.
explained that "[i]f every judgment of a foreign court were reviewable on the merits, the plaintiff II.
would be forced back on his/her original cause of action, rendering immaterial the previously Since the recognition of a foreign judgment only requires proof of fact of the judgment, it may be
concluded litigation."59 made in a special proceeding for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry under Rule
A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the civil status, condition and legal 108 of the Rules of Court. Rule 1, Section 3 of the Rules of Court provides that "[a] special
capacity of its parties. However, the effect of a foreign judgment is not automatic. To extend the proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact."
effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines, Philippine courts must determine if the foreign Rule 108 creates a remedy to rectify facts of a person’s life which are recorded by the State
judgment is consistent with domestic public policy and other mandatory laws. 60 Article 15 of the pursuant to the Civil Register Law or Act No. 3753. These are facts of public consequence such as
Civil Code provides that "[l]aws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and birth, death or marriage,66 which the State has an interest in recording. As noted by the Solicitor
legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad." General, in Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas this Court declared that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce
This is the rule of lex nationalii in private international law. Thus, the Philippine State may require, decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as
for effectivity in the Philippines, recognition by Philippine courts of a foreign judgment affecting its that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a
citizen, over whom it exercises personal jurisdiction relating to the status, condition and legal particular fact."67
capacity of such citizen. Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states:
A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does not require relitigation Sec. 1. Who may file petition. — Any person interested in any act, event, order or
under a Philippine court of the case as if it were a new petition for declaration of nullity of decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the civil
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 20

register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry relating thereto, with III.
the Regional Trial Court of the province where the corresponding civil registry is located. (Emphasis In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, this Court held that a "trial
supplied) court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages" in a special proceeding for cancellation or correction of
Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.81 Thus, the "validity of marriage[] x x x can be questioned
the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy because the judgment concerns only in a direct action" to nullify the marriage.82 The RTC relied on Braza in dismissing the petition for
his civil status as married to Marinay. For the same reason he has the personality to file a petition under recognition of foreign judgment as a collateral attack on the marriage between Marinay and Maekara.
Rule 108 to cancel the entry of marriage between Marinay and Maekara in the civil registry on the basis Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a recognition of a foreign judgment
of the decree of the Japanese Family Court. nullifying a bigamous marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country.
There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material interest in maintaining the integrity To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil registry cannot
of the marriage he contracted and the property relations arising from it. There is also no doubt that he substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. A direct action is necessary to prevent
is interested in the cancellation of an entry of a bigamous marriage in the civil registry, which circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family Code,
compromises the public record of his marriage. The interest derives from the substantive right of the A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these safeguards are the requirement of
spouse not only to preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances68) his most intimate human relation, but
proving the limited grounds for the dissolution of marriage,83 support pendente lite of the spouses
also to protect his property interests that arise by operation of law the moment he contracts
and children,84 the liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses,85 and the
marriage.69 These property interests in marriage include the right to be supported "in keeping with the
investigation of the public prosecutor to determine collusion.86 A direct action for declaration of
financial capacity of the family"70 and preserving the property regime of the marriage.71
Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the Constitution,72 but a spouse’s right in a nullity or annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent circumvention of the jurisdiction of
marriage extends further to relational rights recognized under Title III ("Rights and Obligations between the Family Courts under the Family Courts Act of 1997 (Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for
Husband and Wife") of the Family Code.73 A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC cannot "diminish, increase, or modify" cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry may be filed in the Regional Trial Court
the substantive right of the spouse to maintain the integrity of his marriage.74 In any case, Section 2(a) "where the corresponding civil registry is located."87 In other words, a Filipino citizen cannot
of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC preserves this substantive right by limiting the personality to sue to the dissolve his marriage by the mere expedient of changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.
husband or the wife of the union recognized by law. However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or cancellation of a civil registry entry
Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse of a subsisting marriage to question based on the recognition of a foreign judgment annulling a marriage where one of the parties is a
the validity of a subsequent marriage on the ground of bigamy. On the contrary, when Section 2(a) citizen of the foreign country. There is neither circumvention of the substantive and procedural
states that "[a] petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the safeguards of marriage under Philippine law, nor of the jurisdiction of Family Courts under R.A. No.
husband or the wife"75—it refers to the husband or the wife of the subsisting marriage. Under Article 8369. A recognition of a foreign judgment is not an action to nullify a marriage. It is an action for
35(4) of the Family Code, bigamous marriages are void from the beginning. Thus, the parties in a Philippine courts to recognize the effectivity of a foreign judgment, which presupposes a case
bigamous marriage are neither the husband nor the wife under the law. The husband or the wife of the which was already tried and decided under foreign law. The procedure in A.M. No. 02-11-
prior subsisting marriage is the one who has the personality to file a petition for declaration of absolute 10-SC does not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment annulling a bigamous marriage
nullity of void marriage under Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country. Neither can R.A. No. 8369 define the
Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous marriages void from the beginning, is the civil jurisdiction of the foreign court.
aspect of Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code,76 which penalizes bigamy. Bigamy is a public crime.
Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the effect of a
Thus, anyone can initiate prosecution for bigamy because any citizen has an interest in the prosecution
foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without undergoing trial to determine the validity of the
and prevention of crimes.77 If anyone can file a criminal action which leads to the declaration of nullity
dissolution of the marriage. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides that
of a bigamous marriage,78 there is more reason to confer personality to sue on the husband or the wife
of a subsisting marriage. The prior spouse does not only share in the public interest of prosecuting and "[w]here a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is
preventing crimes, he is also personally interested in the purely civil aspect of protecting his marriage. thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the
When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated, the spouse is clearly an injured Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law." In Republic v. Orbecido,88 this
party and is therefore interested in the judgment of the suit.79 Juliano-Llave ruled that the prior Court recognized the legislative intent of the second paragraph of Article 26 which is "to avoid the
spouse "is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only threatens the financial absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after
and the property ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse" 89 under the laws of his or her
burden to the prior spouse."80 Being a real party in interest, the prior spouse is entitled to sue in country. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code only authorizes Philippine courts to
order to declare a bigamous marriage void. For this purpose, he can petition a court to recognize a adopt the effects of a foreign divorce decree precisely because the Philippines does not allow
foreign judgment nullifying the bigamous marriage and judicially declare as a fact that such divorce. Philippine courts cannot try the case on the merits because it is tantamount to trying a
judgment is effective in the Philippines. Once established, there should be no more impediment to case for divorce.
cancel the entry of the bigamous marriage in the civil registry. The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure to address the anomaly that
results from a marriage between a Filipino, whose laws do not allow divorce, and a foreign citizen,
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whose laws allow divorce. The anomaly consists in the Filipino spouse being tied to the marriage establishes a new status, right and fact92 that needs to be reflected in the civil registry. Otherwise,
while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country. The correction is there will be an inconsistency between the recognition of the effectivity of the foreign judgment
made by extending in the Philippines the effect of the foreign divorce decree, which is already and the public records in the Philippines.1âwphi1
effective in the country where it was rendered. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is without prejudice
Code is based on this Court’s decision in Van Dorn v. Romillo90 which declared that the Filipino to prosecution for bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.93 The recognition of a
spouse "should not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is not a ground for extinction of criminal liability
served."91 under Articles 89 and 94 of the Revised Penal Code. Moreover, under Article 91 of the Revised
The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a marriage between a Filipino and a foreign Penal Code, "[t]he term of prescription [of the crime of bigamy] shall not run when the offender is
citizen who obtains a foreign judgment nullifying the marriage on the ground of bigamy. The absent from the Philippine archipelago."
Filipino spouse may file a petition abroad to declare the marriage void on the ground of bigamy. Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is inapplicable, the Court no longer sees the need to address the
The principle in the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code applies because the foreign questions on venue and the contents and form of the petition under Sections 4 and 5, respectively,
spouse, after the foreign judgment nullifying the marriage, is capacitated to remarry under the of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
laws of his or her country. If the foreign judgment is not recognized in the Philippines, the Filipino WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Order dated 31 January 2011 and the Resolution
spouse will be discriminated—the foreign spouse can remarry while the Filipino spouse cannot dated 2 March 2011 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 107, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. Q-11-
remarry. 68582 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court
Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine courts are empowered to is ORDERED to REINSTATE the petition for further proceedings in accordance with this Decision.
correct a situation where the Filipino spouse is still tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is SO ORDERED. Brion, Del Castillo, Perez, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.
free to marry. Moreover, notwithstanding Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine courts already
have jurisdiction to extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines to the extent that the
foreign judgment does not contravene domestic public policy. A critical difference between the G.R. Nos. 212656-57, November 23, 2016
case of a foreign divorce decree and a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is that MAYOR AMADO CORPUZ, JR., Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND
bigamy, as a ground for the nullity of marriage, is fully consistent with Philippine public policy as SANDIGANBAYAN, Respondents.
expressed in Article 35(4) of the Family Code and Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The DECISION
Filipino spouse has the option to undergo full trial by filing a petition for declaration of nullity of PEREZ, J.:
marriage under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only remedy available to him or her. This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the
Philippine courts have jurisdiction to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage, Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Sandiganbayan (SB) in Criminal Case Nos. SB-12-CRM-0171 and
without prejudice to a criminal prosecution for bigamy. SB-12-CRM-0172 dated 27 February 2014 and 23 May 2014, respectively, finding petitioner Mayor
In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are incompetent to substitute their Amado. Corpuz, Jr. guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts of Falsification of Public
judgment on how a case was decided under foreign law. They cannot decide on the "family rights Document under Article 171, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
and duties, or on the status, condition and legal capacity" of the foreign citizen who is a party to The Facts
the foreign judgment. Thus, Philippine courts are limited to the question of whether to extend the
effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines. In a foreign judgment relating to the status of a Petitioner, in his official capacity as the Municipal Mayor of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, was indicted for
marriage involving a citizen of a foreign country, Philippine courts only decide whether to extend two (2) counts of the abovementioned criminal offense. The accusatory portions of the two (2)
its effect to the Filipino party, under the rule of lex nationalii expressed in Article 15 of the Civil separate Informations filed against him before the SB are as follows:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Code. CRIM. CASE NO. SB-12-CRM-0171
For this purpose, Philippine courts will only determine (1) whether the foreign judgment is That on 28 October 2009 or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija,
inconsistent with an overriding public policy in the Philippines; and (2) whether any alleging party Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named [petitioner], a
is able to prove an extrinsic ground to repel the foreign judgment, i.e. want of jurisdiction, want of public officer, being the Municipal Mayor of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, acting in relation to his office and
notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. If there is neither inconsistency taking advantage of his official position, did there and then deliberately, willfully and feloniously,
with public policy nor adequate proof to repel the judgment, Philippine courts should, by default, falsify the Certificate of Marriage of Manny Asuncion and Dina Lumanlan by certifying therein that
recognize the foreign judgment as part of the comity of nations. Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the it was he who solemnized their marriage when in truth and in fact, he was not the one who
Rules of Court states that the foreign judgment is already "presumptive evidence of a right solemnized the same but rather Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., Local Civil Registrar (of) Cuyapo, Nueva
between the parties." Upon recognition of the foreign judgment, this right becomes conclusive and Ecija, to the damage and prejudice of the said couple and of public interest.
the judgment serves as the basis for the correction or cancellation of entry in the civil registry. The
recognition of the foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is a subsequent event that
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 22

CRIM. CASE NO. SB-12-CRM-0172 court; that he did not execute any affidavit of desistance to that effect; and that his son Thelmo
That on 18 December 2009 or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, Corpuz III was already separated from the government service, and that in the recent local
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named [petitioner], a elections, the latter sided with the political rival of petitioner.7 The above narration was
public officer, being the Municipal Mayor of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, acting in relation to his office and corroborated and attested to by witness Felicisima D. Almonte, Clerk of Court of the MTC, with the
taking advantage of his official position, did there and then deliberately, willfully and feloniously, stipulation of the parties on the authenticity and due execution of its 15 July 2013 Decision. On
falsify the Certificate of Marriage of Alex Pascual and Esperanza Arizabal by certifying therein that cross-examination, she affirmed that as part of the records of the case, that there was a
it was he who solemnized their marriage when in truth and in fact, he was not the one who counter�-affidavit attached therewith by Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., but without an affidavit of
solemnized the same but rather Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., Local Civil Registrar (of) Cuyapo, Nueva recantation against his previous counter-affidavit denying such accusations against him; and that
Ecija, to the damage and prejudice of the said couple and of public during the last local election, both Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., and his son, Thelmo Corpuz, Jr.,
interest.3chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary persuaded her to vote for petitioner's opponent.
As petitioner pleaded not guilty to both charges, trial ensued with the prosecution presenting five In his defense, petitioner himself testified. He insisted that he actually solemnized at his office the
(5) witnesses, and the defense presenting three (3) witnesses, inclusive of documentary evidence marriage of spouses Pascual and that of spouses Asuncion; that spouses Asuncion executed a joint
admitted therein, in order to resolve the jointly proposed issue of "who among the parties the affidavit of cohabitation based on Article 34 of the Family Code making them exempted from
complainant on the one hand, [and] the married couples and the sponsors who attest to the fact securing a marriage license as appearing in their marriage contract; that complainant Arsenio
that it was the accused who solemnized the said marriage is telling the truth?" Flores was not present at the mayor's office when the wedding of spouses Pascual took place; that
in the subject weddings, all signatures appearing on the marriage certificates were actually signed
At the trial, the prosecution presented complainant Arsenio Flores, a retired government employee in his presence; that as a mayor for eighteen ( 18) years, he knew that the power to solemnize
who testified that being one of the wedding sponsors of Alex Pascual and Esperanza Arizabal, he marriage cannot be delegated; and that he is aware that a case for usurpation of official function
attended and witnessed the actual ceremony of their wedding which was solemnized by Thelmo was filed against Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., but has no knowledge about his change of plea. The
Corpuz, Sr., the Municipal Registrar, and not petitioner, at the Municipal Registrar's Office where it above testimonies were further bolstered by no other than the parties themselves of said marriage
was held; that with the knowledge that said Municipal Registrar was not authorized to solemnize ceremonies. Both Alex Y. Pascual and Manny M. Asuncion appeared and testified that petitioner
marriage, he did not sign as a witness their marriage certificate, and thereafter searched for was indeed the one who solemnized their respective marriage; that their respective marriage is
documents, including pictures and invitation cards, in order to establish such illegal acts; that valid and legal; that both ceremonies were held at the mayor's office; and that, as reflected in the
based on the documents he gathered, it was made to appear that petitioner was the one who pictures shown by the prosecution, they appeared before Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr. only to receive
solemnized said marriages because of his signature appearing on the corresponding marriage marriage counseling and to be taught on how to act during the actual ceremony, before they went
certificates; and that he could not explain why the subject marriage certificate was already signed to the mayor's office for the actual solemnization by petitioner.
by petitioner when in fact he was not around during the ceremony, and was immediately given to From the foregoing testimonial and documentary evidence, including the stipulations between the
them on the same day.4 His testimony was corroborated by Honorato M. Tolentino, the brother-in- parties, the facts, as taken and appreciated by the SB, are presented as follows:
law of Alex Pascual, who testified that he rendered his services for free as a photographer during At the time material to the Informations, the [petitioner] was the incumbent Mayor of the
said wedding, and witnessed the actual ceremony, with the observation that it was Thelmo Corpuz, Municipality of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, while Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr. was the Municipal Civil Registrar
Sr. who solemnized the same. until his retirement from the service in 2011.
As to the marriage ceremony of Manny Asuncion and Dina Lumanlan, Jorge N. Lazaro, a freelance As set forth on the invitation for the Asuncion-Lumanlan Nuptials, the couple was united in
photographer and pilot, testified that the latter and her mother engaged his services as a matrimony on October 28, 2009 at around 9:30 in the morning at Cuyapo Town Hall, Cuyapo,
photographer, and even requested his live-in partner, Tessie Atayde, to stand as one of the Nueva Ecija. Jorge N. Lazaro attended the occasion along with his live-in partner Tessie Atayde,
principal sponsors; that while taking photos for the event, he naturally witnessed the actual who was one of the principal sponsors. Lazaro was hired as photographer for the event and was
ceremony which was held at the Senior Citizen Building (now called Multi-Purpose Building); and able to capture the actual ceremony. A marriage certificate was then issued to Spouses Asuncion,
that it was Thelmo Corpuz, Sr., the Municipal Registrar of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, who actually duly signed by the [petitioner] as the solemnizing officer.
solemnized said marriage. Another wedding which took place at the Municipal Hall of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija on December 18,
Lastly, the prosecution presented as rebuttal witness, Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., who testified that 2009 at around 9:00 o'clock in the morning was that of Alex Pascual and Esperanza Arizabal.
complainant Arsenio Flores filed a case for usurpation of official functions against him before the Among those present was Arsenio Flores who stood as one of the principal sponsors. The
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) in connection with the marriages of the couples, which he allegedly ceremony was similarly witnessed by Honorato M. Tolentino, a brother-in-law of the groom who
solemnized; that he changed his plea of NOT GUILTY to that of GUILTY, in order to have a peace was also hired as photographer for the said wedding. As proof of the wedding, a marriage
of mind and to reveal the truth that it was actually him who solemnized said marriages; that it was certificate bearing the signature of the [petitioner] as solemnizing officer was thereafter issued to
actually him who was standing in front of both couples as shown by the pictures presented as spouses Pascual.
evidence; that after pleading guilty, he immediately filed a Petition for Probation before the same Displeased with what transpired during the wedding ceremony of Alez and Esperanza, Arsenio
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 23

Flores came up with a complaint-affidavit, dated February 8, 2010, setting forth the violations for each count, and to pay a fine of P5,000.00 for each case, with subsidiary imprisonment in case
committed by the [petitioner] and that of Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., the former as mere signatory of of insolvency.11chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
the marriage certificates, and the latter acting as the solemnizing officer on behalf of the mayor. It ruled that with the prosecution's pieces of evidence taken together, all the elements of the crime
Flores' declaration with respect to the Pascual-Arizabal nuptial was corroborated by the affidavit, of falsification of public documents, by making untruthful statements in a narration of facts, were
dated March 22, 2010, of Honorato M. Tolentino, Sr., who covered the said wedding. Flores adequately established. The SB further explained that being a local chief executive and duly
included in his affidavit other nuptials specifically that of Manny and Dina which was held on authorized officer to solemnize marriage, petitioner was duty-bound to observe his solemn
October 28, 2009 and which was also solemnized by Thelma Corpuz, Sr. His statement was affirmation on the marriage certificates. More so, by taking advantage of his official position,
supported by Jorge Lazaro's affidavit, dated March 22, 2010, inclusive of snapshots he personally petitioner certified the particulars of an event, the subject marriages, despite full knowledge that
took on that day. In view of Thelma O. Corpuz's entry of plea of guilty for two (2) counts of he did not personally solemnize the exchange of marital vows of spouses Pascual and spouses
usurpation of official functions filed against him before the Municipal Trial Court of Cuyapo, Nueva Asuncion. In other words, what he certified was absolutely false and for such reason, petitioner's
Ecija, the court, in its Decision dated July 15, 2013, duly considered his plea of guilty as a guilt was established beyond reasonable doubt. By way of conclusion, the court stressed that in
mitigating circumstance, and imposed on him the straight penalty of one (1) year imprisonment for falsification of public or official documents, it is not necessary that there be present the idea of
each case. gain or intent to injure a third person because in the falsification of public document, what is being
DISCUSSION punished is the violation of the public faith and the destruction of the truth as therein solemnly
In his memorandum, the [petitioner] maintains his innocence as he questions the trustworthiness proclaimed.12chanrobleslaw
and reliability of the prosecution's witnesses. According to him, the presumption of authenticity of Petitioner's motion for reconsideration thereof and his supplemental thereto were likewise denied
public documents, the marriage certificates in these cases, should prevail over the inconsistent for lack of merit in the 23 May 2014 Resolution.
testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution that it was not him who officiated these Aggrieved, petitioner elevated the matter through a petition for review on certiorari before this
ceremonies. According to him also, the couples themselves through Alex and Manny, who are Court asserting the following errors, grounds or arguments:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
definitely in the best position to attest that it was the [petitioner] himself who solemnized their 1. THE SANDIGANBAYAN (RESPONDENT COURT FOR BREVITY) COMMITTED SERIOUS REVERSIBLE
marriage, did so in open court and expressed such fact in their Joint Affidavits. Further, the ERROR OF LAW AND MATTERS OF SUBSTANCE NOT IN ACCORD WITH JURISPRUDENCE WHEN
rebuttal evidence of the prosecution sans the affidavit of recantation of Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., did WITHOUT ANY JUSTIFICATION IT ADMITTED MERE PHOTOCOPIES OF PROSECUTION'S EVIDENCE,
not alter his previous declaration that he did not solemnize the subject weddings but the herein I.E., (1) INVITATION CARDS AND (2) PICTURES OVER THE OBJECTION OF THE DEFENSE -
[petitioner] who rightfully certified his deed in the marriage certificates. With these, the defense 1.1 WORSENED BY THE ALLOWANCE OF SECONDARY EVIDENCE (AS A NECESSARY CONSEQUENCE
avers that the prosecution failed to establish the guilt of the [petitioner] beyond reasonable doubt IN ITS ADMISSION) WITHOUT COMPLIANCE WITH THE RUDIMENTS ON SECONDARY EVIDENCE;
and, therefore, the [petitioner] should be acquitted. AND
On the other hand, in its memorandum, the prosecution asserts that from the pieces of evidence
presented and the testimonies of its witnesses, it has proven all the elements of the offense 1.2 SERIOUS MISAPPRECIATJON OF FACT UPON ITS FAlLURE AND/OR OMISSION TO CONSIDER
charged based on the quantum of evidence required by law. The accused clearly committed GLARING DISPARITIES BETWEEN PROSECUTION'S VERY OWN EVIDENCE, I.E., (SAID)
falsification of public documents by making untruthful statements in a narration of facts when, by INVITATION CARDS AND ITS OWN WITNESSES' STATEMENT AS TO THE PLACE OR VENUE OF
taking advantage of his official function, he certified in the marriage certificates of spouses SOLEMNIZATION WHICH ON MATTERS OF CREDIBILITY MORE SO, BY THE SURROUNDING
Asuncion and spouses Pascual that as the Municipal Mayor, he personally solemnized their CIRCUMSTANCES IN HERE, TOUCHES ON THE VERY ISSUE OF COMPETENCY OF THE WITNESS
marriage when it was Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., the Municipal Civil Registrar, who did so on his AND THE STRICT RULE ON ASSESSMENT OF EVIDENCE AGAINST THE STATE AND'LIBERAL FOR
behalf. Thus, for this false declaration, the [petitioner] should be held criminally THE ACCUSED. THIS RULE WAS SADLY IGNORED. WE TAKE THIS TO NOTE AS NO TRIVIAL
liable.10chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary ASPECT AS THE RESPONDENT COURT PUT IT.
The Ruling of the Sandiganhayan
2. THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW AND MATTERS OF SUBSTANCE
In the assailed Decision dated 27 February 2014, the SB found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable NOT IN ACCORD WITH CASE LAW WHEN IT CONSIDERED FACTS NOT OFFERED IN EVIDENCE AND
doubt for the said crimes, the dispositive portion of which is stated hereunder for ready reference, TOTALLY OUT OF THE RECORDS - HOLDING DEFENSE TWO (2) WITNESSES, THE SPOUSES
to wit:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary HUSBANDS, ALEX PASCUAL, AND MANNY ASUNCION, WERE ALLEGEDLY INDEBTED OF GRATITUDE TO
WHEREFORE, in light of all the foregoing, the Court finds [petitioner] Amado R. Corpuz, Jr. THE ACCUSED FOR BEING ALLEGEDLY EMPLOYED BY THE LATTER; HENCE, DEBUNKING CREDIBILITY
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for two (2) counts of Falsification of Public Document, defined OF THEIR TESTIMONIES.
and penalized under Article 171, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code and, applying the 3. THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED SERIOUS REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW AND
Indeterminate Sentence Law, is hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of four (4) years and MISAPPRECIATION OF FACTS ON MATTERS AND SUBSTANCE SO MATERIAL POINTING TO THE
one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as maximum, DEFENSE AS ALLEGEDLY THE ONE WHO SAID THAT THE BEST PERSONS WHO COULD ATTEST WHO
THE SOLEMNIZER WAS IN THEIR RESPECTIVE WEDDINGS WERE THE COUPLES TliEMSELVES WHICH
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CORRECT PRONOUNCEMENT AND ACCURATE OBSERVATION, WAS IN FACT, MADE BY ONE OF THE The Issue
HONORABLE JUSTICES, THE HONORABLE RODOLFO PONFERRADA, IN OPEN COURT NOT THE Whether or not petitioner is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of falsification of public
ACCUSED WHICH OBSERVATION WE NOT ONLY SUPPORT BUT TREASURE SO MUCH. documents.
4. THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED SERIOUS REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW AND The Ruling of the Court
MISAPPRECIATION OF FACTS ON MATTERS OF SUBSTANCE WHEN IT AGAIN MADE ANOTHER At the outset, the Constitution presumes a person innocent until proven guilty by proof beyond
PRONOUNCEMENT DECLARING THAT "ACCUSED ONLY RELIED ON DISPUTABLE PRESUMPTION OF reasonable doubt. The prosecution cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness ofthe
REGULARITY WITHOUT PRESENTING ANY OTHER EVIDENCE NOT TO DOUBT HIS PERSONAL defense's evidence for it has the onus probandi in establishing the guilt of the accused - ei
APPEARANCE ON THOSE DATES AND THAT HE SIGNED THESE DOCUMENTS AFTER ACTUALLY
incumbit probatio qui elicit, non que negat - he who asserts, not he who denies, must prove.
SOLEMNIZING THE SAID MARRIAGES."
In other words, the burden of such proof rests with the prosecution, which must rely on the
5. THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW AND MISAPPRECIATION OF
strength of its case rather than on the weakness of the case for the defense. Proof beyond
FACTS - WHEN IT DECLARED TIIE PRESENCE OF ALL THE ELEMENTS OF FALSIFICATION UNDER
ARTICLE 171 [OF THE] REVISED PENAL CODE, AGORAVATED BY THE MISAPPLICATION OF THE reasonable doubt, or that quantum of proof sufficient to produce a moral certainty that would
DICTUM IN ITS CITED GALEOS VS. PEOPLE. convince and satisfy the conscience of those who act in judgment, is indispensable to overcome
6. THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR OF LAW AND MISAPPRECIATION OF FACTS the constitutional presumption of innocence.
WHICH ARE MATTERS OF SUBSTANCE NOT IN ACCORD WITH CASE LAW ADOPTING TWO (2) Worthy to mention that in every criminal onviction, the prosecution is required to prove two thinss
STANDARDS OF APPLICATION OF LAW OVER TWO (2) OPPOSSING DOCUMENTS, I.E., (1) THE TWO beyond reasonable doubt: first, the fact of the commission of the crime charged, or the presence
SETS OF MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES ON ONE HAND, AND (2) THE ADMITTEDLY FALSIFIED THREE (3) of all the elements of the offense; and second, the fact that the accused was the perpetrator of
AFFIDAVITS OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES, HONORATO TOLENTINO, JORGE LAZARO AND the crime.
THELMO CORPUZ, THEREBY GROSSLY MISAPPLIED ART. 171 [OF THE] REVISED PENAL CODE AS In the instant case, petitioner was charged with violation of Article 171, paragraph 4 of the RPC,
CITED IN GALEOS VS. PEOPLE, WHEN IT TURNED DOWN THE TWO (2) CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGES which provides:
IGNORING THE DECIDENDI IN THE CITED CASE - WHILE CASUALLY DOWNPLAYED THE FALSIFIED 3 ART. 171. Falsification by public officer, employee, or notary or ecclesiastical minister. - The penalty of
WITNESSES AFFIDAVITS, ITS LEGAL AND NECESSARY CONSEQUENCES. prision mayor and a fine not to exceed 5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public officer, employee,
7. OVER ALL CONSIDERATIONS, THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED THE MOST SERIOUS or notary who, taking advantage of his official position, shall falsify a document by committing any of
REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW AND MISAPPRECIATION OF FACTS IN CLINGING TO ITS JUDGMENT OF the following acts:
CONVICTION INSTEAD OF ACQUITTAL ON THE BASIS OF THE OPPOSING EVIDENCE RESPECTIVELY 4. Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts; x x x
PRESENTED BY THE PROSECUTION ON ONE HAND - AND - THE DEFENSE ON THE OTHER HEREAFTER It bears emphasis that what is punished in falsification of a public document is the violation of the
PRESENTED IN GRAPHIC FORM. public faith and the destruction of the truth as solemnly proclaimed in it.18 Generally, the elements
It is the contention of petitioner that none of the five (5) witnesses presented by the prosecution of Article 171 are: (1) the offender is a public officer, employee, or notary public; (2) he takes
was competent to testify on accused's actual solemnization of and presence during the subject advantage of his official position; and (3) that he falsifies a document by committing any of the
marriages. Neither did any of the documentary evidence submitted by the prosecution establish ways it is done.
beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner was not the one who solemnized the same. Thus, in his Specifically, paragraph 4 of the said Article requires that: (a) the offender makes in a public
defense, petitioner believes that he is innocent considering that he was able to present the document untruthful statements in a narration of facts; (b) the offender has a legal obligation to
husbands of the subject marriages, who appeared before him during the actual solemnizations, disclose the truth of the facts narrated by him; and (c) the facts narrated by the offender are
and both testified in his favor, supported by various documentary evidence, such as the subject absolutely false.
marriage certificates, including the joint affidavit of cohabitation and joint affidavit of confirmation In addition to the aforecited elements, it must also be proven that the public officer or employee
issued by the couples, and also the counter-affidavit issued by Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., the person had taken advantage of his official position in making the falsification. In falsification of public
alleged to have actually conducted the said solemnization of the subject marriages; who initially document, the offender is considered to have taken advantage of his official position when (1) he
denied being the one who acted as a solemnizing officer to any marriage ceremony. has the duty to make or prepare or otherwise to intervene in the preparation of a document; or (2)
Respondents, through its Office of the Special Prosecutor, filed on 28 April 2015 its Comment 14 to he has the official custody of the document which he falsifies.21chanrobleslaw
the instant petition, and counters that the SB acted in accord with law and jurisprudence on the In the case at bench, and as correctly found by the SB, it is undisputed that petitioner was a public
basis of the evidence on record when it found petitioner guilty of the felonies charged; that officer, being the Municipal Mayor of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, duly authorized by law to solemnize
petitioner raised questions of fact contrary to Rule 45 of the Rules of Court; that the equipoise marriages, at the time such alleged criminal offense was committed. Likewise, in issuing marriage
doctrine is inapplicable in the case of petitioner; that petitioner was correctly convicted of the certificates, being a public document issued by the Municipality of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, petitioner
crimes of falsification of public document since all the elements to establish the same were proven had the legal duty to prepare said document, and not only to attest to the truth of what he had
beyond reasonable doubt; and that the other issues and arguments raised by petitioner do not given account of but more importantly, to warrant the truth of the facts narrated by him
constitute reversible error on the part of the SB. thereon.22 Undoubtedly, these factual circumstances were clearly established since petitioner
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himself admits the same. Accordingly; we are now left with one final matter to determine, i.e. by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. As can be gleaned from the narration of facts
whether or not the facts narrated by petitioner on the subject marriage certificates were absolutely provided by the trial court, there is no showing that an actual appearance by the concerned parties
false. If answered in the affirmative, then petitioner is indeed guilty beyond reasonable doubt of (spouses Pascual and spouses Asuncion) before petitioner as their solemnizing officer did not occur
falsification of public documents. Otherwise, he shall be exonerated. or happen. Looking into the evidence presented, the only patent conclusion that can be derived
Relevant thereto, the initial query to be resolved is whose evidence between the prosecution and from the prosecution's evidence, as admitted by the witnesses for the defense, is that both couples
defense is credible in order to determine the guilt of the accused in a criminal action. appeared before. Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., for the sole purpose of recetvmg marriage counseling
For ready reference, we find the necessity of reproducing hereunder the actual pertinent portion and/or marriage rehearsals, nothing more.
declared by petitioner in his official capacity as a solemnizing officer, common to the subject Second, as mentioned in the assailed Decision, the SB expressed that the testimonies of the
marriage certificates, which reads: defense's witnesses appear biased considering that they "owe their current employment with the
THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT BEFORE ME, on the date and place above written, personally appeared the accused as these narrations rang no truth and sounded to have been well-coached;" hence, they
above-mentioned parties, with their mutual consent, lawfully joined together in marriage which was found the testimonies of the prosecution's witnesses more credible. Unfortunately, we find this
solemnized by me in the presence of the witnesses named below, all of legal age. declaration quite odd considering that there was no iota of evidence to show that both Alex Y.
x x xx Pascual and. Manny M. Asuncion owe debts of gratitude to petitioner. Indeed even it is taken as
(Signed) true that the defense witnesses who are the husbands in the questioned marriages owe their
HON. AMADOR. CORPUS, JR.
MUNICIPAL MAYOR
employment to the accused such fact can rightfully be construed as itself the reason why these
CUYAPO, NUEVA ECIJA23 witnesses would truly want their respective�marriages officiated by the accused. As a matter of
From the above-quoted statement, petitioner categorically expresses that, in both marriages, all fact, it was the prosecution's witnesses who have manifested some tainted credibility in their
parties (referring to spouses Pascual and spouses Asuncion), personally appeared before him, as testimonies when it was declared, among others, that: (a) all the judicial affidavits were prepared
their solemnizing officer, in the presence of other witnesses. by the complainant Arsenio A. Flores and were given to them for their signatures; (b) Thelma
In ruling that petitioner was not the one who solemnized the subject marriages, the SB relied Corpuz III, the son of Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., was separated from the government service, and
heavily on the testimonial evidence of the prosecution's witnesses, particularly on the common fact that in the recent local election, he sided with petitioner's political rival; and (c) Thelmo O. Corpuz,
that they all witnessed an alleged ceremony conducted on said dates wherein Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr. and his son, Thelmo Corpuz, Jr., persuaded Felicisima D. Almonte to vote for the petitioner's
Sr., the Municipal Registrar, was the one who acted as the solemnizing officer, and not petitioner. opponent during the local election. Clearly therefore, if there were any doubts as to the credibility
It further considered the photos and photocopies of the invitations presented and offered as of the witnesses in this case, it is those of the prosecution who should be considered guilty of
additional proofs to establish the aforesaid incidents which show spouses Pascual and spouses potential political motivations.
Asuncion standing in front of Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr. Moreover, the testimony of Thelmo O. Corpuz, Third, as to the testimony of Thelmo O. Corpuz, Sr., we do not find the same damaging on the
Sr., being a rebuttal evidence to the claims of Alex Y. Pascual and Manny M. Asuncion that it was part of petitioner considering that his admission of conducting his own ceremony in the capacity of
petitioner who solemnized their respective marriages, was vastly recognized as acceptable and a solemnizing officer simply confirms his criminal liability in the case of usurpation of authority as
damaging to petitioner's defense since the principle of res inter alios acta (the rights of a party his conviction was already pronounced by the MTC. Such testimony does not necessarily result in
cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration, or mission of another) does not apply in this case. the falsity of petitioner's declaration that he nonetheless conducted his own solemnization of the
We are not unaware that settled is the rule that factual findings of the SB are conclusive upon this subject marriages. The fact remains that, as testified to by Alex Y. Pascual and Manny M.
Court. However, there are exceptions to said rule, to wit: (1) the conclusion is a finding grounded Asuncion, it was petitioner who solemnized their marriages on said date and at said office.
entirely on speculation, surmise and conjecture; (2) the inference made is manifestly an error or Fourth, the burden of proof in estabiishing that petitioner made an untruthful statement in the
founded on a mistake; (3) there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on marriage certificate in order to be convicted of the crime of falsification of public instrument solely
misapprehension of facts; (5) the findings of fact are premised on a want of evidence and are lies on the prosecution.
contradicted by evidence on record; and (6) said findings of fact are conclusions without citation of If only to stress the merit of this petition, we repeat the axioms that the Bill of Rights guarantees
specific evidence on which they are based. the right of an accused to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. In order to overcome
A perusal of the offered and admitted evidence, testimonial and documentary, reveals some the presumption of innocence, the prosecution is required to adduce against him nothing less than
misappreciation of facts of which if considered� may result in a different conclusion. In other proof beyond reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to discharge its heavy burden, then it is
words, there were findings grounded entirely on speculation and/or premised on want of evidence not only the right of the accused to be freed, it becomes the Court's constitutional duty to acquit
that are needed to be resolved in the case before us. Hence, we rule to reverse the SB's ruling of him.
conviction against petitioner. Lastly, considering that the subject public instrument in this case refers to the marriage certificate,
First, none of the testimonial and documentary evidence offered by the prosecution was able to we find it apropos to point out that the validity of marriage cannot be collaterally attacked since
dispute the presumption of regularity of an official function and authenticity and due execution of under existing laws and jurisprudence, the same may be questioned only in a direct action. A
the public instruments issued by petitioner as the Municipal Mayor, which may only be overcome direct action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of
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marriage under the Family Code, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. In declaring that G.R. No. 183896 January 30, 2013
the one who solemnized the subject marriages had no authority to do so would indirectly result in SYED AZHAR ABBAS, Petitioner,
the declaration that said marriages are void. This is what our jurisdiction intends to prevent. vs.
By way of reiteration, it is a fundamental rule in criminal procedure that the State carries the onus GLORIA GOO ABBAS, Respondent.
probandi in establishing the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt, as a consequence of DECISION
the tenet ei incumbit probation, qui dicit, non qui negat, which means that he who asserts, not he VELASCO, JR., J.:
who denies, must prove,27 and as a means of respecting the presumption of innocence in favor of This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
the man or woman on the dock for a crime. Accordingly, the State has the burden of proof to questioning the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated March 11, 2008 in CA-G.R. CV No.
show: (1) the correct identification of the author of a crime, and (2) the actuality of the 86760, which reversed the Decision2 in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM dated October 5, 2005 of the
commission of the offense with the participation of the accused. All these facts must be proved by Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 109, Pasay City, and the CA Resolution dated July 24, 2008,
the State beyond reasonable doubt on the strength of its evidence and without solace from the denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of the CA Decision.
weakness of the defense. That the defense the accused puts up may be weak is inconsequential if, The present case stems from a petition filed by petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas (Syed) for the
in the first place, the State has failed to discharge the onus of his identity and culpability. The declaration of nullity of his marriage to Gloria Goo-Abbas (Gloria) with the RTC of Pasay City,
presumption of innocence dictates that it is for the� prosecution to demonstrate the guilt and not docketed as Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM, and raffled to RTC Branch 109. Syed alleged the absence
for the accused to establish innocence.28 Indeed, the accused, being presumed innocent, carries no of a marriage license, as provided for in Article 4, Chapter I, Title 1 of Executive Order No. 269,
burden of proof on his or her shoulders. otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines, as a ground for the annulment of his
marriage to Gloria.
Furthermore, it has been consistently ruled that "[c]ourts must judge the guilt or innocence of the In the Marriage Contract3 of Gloria and Syed, it is stated that Marriage License No. 9969967,
accused based on facts and not on mere conjectures, presumptions, or suspicions." 29 It is issued at Carmona, Cavite on January 8, 1993, was presented to the solemnizing officer. It is this
iniquitous to base petitioner's guilt on the presumptions of the prosecution's witnesses for the information that is crucial to the resolution of this case.
Court has, time and again, declared that if the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of At the trial court, Syed, a Pakistani citizen, testified that he met Gloria, a Filipino citizen, in Taiwan
two or more interpretations, one of which being consistent with the innocence of the accused and in 1991, and they were married on August 9, 1992 at the Taipei Mosque in Taiwan.4 He arrived in
the other or others consistent with his guilt, then the evidence in view of the constitutional the Philippines in December of 1992. On January 9, 1993, at around 5 o’clock in the afternoon, he
presumption of innocence has not fulfilled the test of moral certainty and is thus insufficient to was at his mother-in-law’s residence, located at 2676 F. Muñoz St., Malate, Manila, when his
support a conviction. mother-in-law arrived with two men. He testified that he was told that he was going to undergo
In sum, the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution in this case failed to pass the some ceremony, one of the requirements for his stay in the Philippines, but was not told of the
test of moral certainty necessary to warrant petitioner's conviction. Accusation is not synonymous nature of said ceremony. During the ceremony he and Gloria signed a document. He claimed that
with guilt.31Not only that, where the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or he did not know that the ceremony was a marriage until Gloria told him later. He further testified
more explanations or interpretations, one of which is consistent with the innocence of the accused that he did not go to Carmona, Cavite to apply for a marriage license, and that he had never
and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not meet or hurdle the test of moral resided in that area. In July of 2003, he went to the Office of the Civil Registrar of Carmona,
certainty required for conviction.32 Accordingly, the prosecution failed to establish the elements of Cavite, to check on their marriage license, and was asked to show a copy of their marriage
falsification of public documents. With the prosecution having failed to discharge its burden of contract wherein the marriage license number could be found. 5 The Municipal Civil Registrar,
establishing petitioner's guilt beyond reasonable doubt, this Court is constrained, as is its bounden Leodivinia C. Encarnacion, issued a certification on July 11, 2003 to the effect that the marriage
duty when reasonable doubt persists, to acquit him. license number appearing in the marriage contract he submitted, Marriage License No. 9969967,
was the number of another marriage license issued to a certain Arlindo Getalado and Myra
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case Mabilangan.6 Said certification reads as follows:
Nos. SB-12-CRM-0171 and SB-12-CRM-0172 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Amado 11 July 2003
Corpuz, Jr. is hereby ACQUITTED for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
reasonable doubt. This is to certify as per Registry Records of Marriage License filed in this office, Marriage License
No. 9969967 was issued in favor of MR. ARLINDO GETALADO and MISS MYRA MABILANGAN on
SO ORDERED. January 19, 1993.
No Marriage License appear [sic] to have been issued to MR. SYED AZHAR ABBAS and MISS
gLORIA F. GOO on January 8, 1993.
This certification is being issued to Mr. Syed Azhar Abbas for whatever legal purpose or intents it
may serve.7
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On cross-examination, Syed testified that Gloria had filed bigamy cases against him in 2001 and in the wedding photos and she could identify all the persons depicted in said photos; and (c) her
2002, and that he had gone to the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite to get certification testimony corroborates that of Felicitas Goo and Atty. Sanchez.
on whether or not there was a marriage license on advice of his counsel.8 The respondent, Gloria, testified that Syed is her husband, and presented the marriage contract
Petitioner also presented Norberto Bagsic (Bagsic), an employee of the Municipal Civil Registrar of bearing their signatures as proof.27 She and her mother sought the help of Atty. Sanchez in
Carmona, Cavite. Bagsic appeared under a letter of authority from the Municipal Civil Registrar of securing a marriage license, and asked him to be one of the sponsors. A certain Qualin went to
Carmona, Cavite, and brought documents pertaining to Marriage License No. 9969967, which was their house and said that he will get the marriage license for them, and after several days returned
issued to Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan on January 20, 1993. 9 with an application for marriage license for them to sign, which she and Syed did. After Qualin
Bagsic testified that their office issues serial numbers for marriage licenses and that the numbers returned with the marriage license, they gave the license to Atty. Sanchez who gave it to Rev.
are issued chronologically.10 He testified that the certification dated July 11, 2003, was issued and Dauz, the solemnizing officer. Gloria testified that she and Syed were married on January 9, 1993
signed by Leodivina Encarnacion, Registrar of the Municipality of Carmona, Cavite, certifying that at their residence.28Gloria further testified that she has a daughter with Syed, born on June 15,
Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued for Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan on January 1993.29 Gloria also testified that she filed a bigamy case against Syed, who had married a certain
19, 1993, and that their office had not issued any other license of the same serial number, namely Maria Corazon Buenaventura during the existence of the previous marriage, and that the case was
9969967, to any other person.11 docketed as Criminal Case No. 02A-03408, with the RTC of Manila.30
For her part, Gloria testified on her own behalf, and presented Reverend Mario Dauz, Atty. Lorenzo Gloria stated that she and Syed had already been married on August 9, 1992 in Taiwan, but that
Sanchez, Felicitas Goo and May Ann Ceriola. Reverend Mario Dauz (Rev. Dauz) testified that he she did not know if said marriage had been celebrated under Muslim rites, because the one who
was a minister of the Gospel and a barangay captain, and that he is authorized to solemnize celebrated their marriage was Chinese, and those around them at the time were Chinese. 31
marriages within the Philippines.12 He testified that he solemnized the marriage of Syed Azhar The Ruling of the RTC
Abbas and Gloria Goo at the residence of the bride on January 9, 1993. 13 He stated that the In its October 5, 2005 Decision, the Pasay City RTC held that no valid marriage license was issued
witnesses were Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez (Atty. Sanchez) and Mary Ann Ceriola.14 He testified that he by the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite in favor of Gloria and Syed, as Marriage License
had been solemnizing marriages since 1982, and that he is familiar with the requirements.15 Rev. No. 9969967 had been issued to Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan, and the Municipal Civil
Dauz further testified that Atty. Sanchez gave him the marriage license the day before the actual Registrar of Carmona, Cavite had certified that no marriage license had been issued for Gloria and
wedding, and that the marriage contract was prepared by his secretary.16 After the solemnization Syed.32 It also took into account the fact that neither party was a resident of Carmona, Cavite, the
of the marriage, it was registered with the Local Civil Registrar of Manila, and Rev. Dauz submitted place where Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued, in violation of Article 9 of the Family
the marriage contract and copy of the marriage license with that office. 17 Code.33 As the marriage was not one of those exempt from the license requirement, and that the
Atty. Sanchez testified that he was asked to be the sponsor of the wedding of Syed Abbas and lack of a valid marriage license is an absence of a formal requisite, the marriage of Gloria and Syed
Gloria Goo by the mother of the bride, Felicitas Goo.18 He testified that he requested a certain on January 9, 1993 was void ab initio.
Qualin to secure the marriage license for the couple, and that this Qualin secured the license and The dispositive portion of the Decision reads as follows:
gave the same to him on January 8, 1993.19 He further testified that he did not know where the WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the petitioner, and against the respondent
marriage license was obtained.20 He attended the wedding ceremony on January 9, 1993, signed declaring as follows:
the marriage contract as sponsor, and witnessed the signing of the marriage contract by the 1. The marriage on January 9, 1993 between petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas and respondent
couple, the solemnizing officer and the other witness, Mary Ann Ceriola. 21 Gloria Goo-Abbas is hereby annulled;
Felicitas Goo testified that Gloria Goo is her daughter and Syed Azhar Abbas is her son-in-law, and 2. Terminating the community of property relations between the petitioner and the respondent
that she was present at the wedding ceremony held on January 9, 1993 at her house. 22 She even if no property was acquired during their cohabitation by reason of the nullity of the
testified that she sought the help of Atty. Sanchez at the Manila City Hall in securing the marriage marriage of the parties.
license, and that a week before the marriage was to take place, a male person went to their house 3. The Local Civil Registrar of Manila and the Civil Registrar General, National Statistics Office,
with the application for marriage license.23 Three days later, the same person went back to their are hereby ordered to cancel from their respective civil registries the marriage contracted by
house, showed her the marriage license before returning it to Atty. Sanchez who then gave it to petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas and respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas on January 9, 1993 in Manila.
Rev. Dauz, the solemnizing officer.24 She further testified that she did not read all of the contents SO ORDERED.34
of the marriage license, and that she was told that the marriage license was obtained from Gloria filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated November 7, 2005, but the RTC denied the same,
Carmona.25 She also testified that a bigamy case had been filed by Gloria against Syed at the prompting her to appeal the questioned decision to the Court of Appeals.
Regional Trial Court of Manila, evidenced by an information for Bigamy dated January 10, 2003, The Ruling of the CA
pending before Branch 47 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila.26 In her appeal to the CA, Gloria submitted the following assignment of errors:
As to Mary Ann Ceriola’s testimony, the counsels for both parties stipulated that: (a) she is one of I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE PETITIONER AND
the sponsors at the wedding of Gloria Goo and Syed Abbas on January 9, 1993; (b) she was seen RESPONDENT AS NULL AND VOID DUE TO THE ABSENCE OF A MARRIAGE LICENSE DESPITE EVIDENCE
CLEARLY SHOWING THAT THERE WAS ONE.
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II (3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING, AS A REQUISITE OF A VALID MARRIAGE, THE before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as
OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT A MARRIAGE CEREMONY TOOK PLACE WITH THE husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.
APPEARANCE OF THE CONTRACTING PARTIES BEFORE THE SOLEMNIZING OFFICER AND THEIR
Art. 4. The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio,
PERSONAL DECLARATION THAT THEY TOOK EACH OTHER AS HUSBAND AND WIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF
NOT LESS THAN TWO WITNESSES OF LEGAL AGE. except as stated in Article 35(2).
III A defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage voidable as provided in Article 45.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING ON THE ISSUE OF ESTOPPEL BY LACHES ON THE PART OF An irregularity in the formal requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the party or
THE PETITIONER, AN ISSUE TIMELY RAISED IN THE COURT BELOW.35 parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and administratively liable.
The CA gave credence to Gloria’s arguments, and granted her appeal. It held that the certification Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
of the Municipal Civil Registrar failed to categorically state that a diligent search for the marriage xxxx
license of Gloria and Syed was conducted, and thus held that said certification could not be (3) Those solemnized without a license, except those covered by the preceding Chapter.
accorded probative value.36 The CA ruled that there was sufficient testimonial and documentary There is no issue with the essential requisites under Art. 2 of the Family Code, nor with the formal
evidence that Gloria and Syed had been validly married and that there was compliance with all the requisites of the authority of the solemnizing officer and the conduct of the marriage ceremony.
requisites laid down by law.37 Nor is the marriage one that is exempt from the requirement of a valid marriage license under
It gave weight to the fact that Syed had admitted to having signed the marriage contract. The CA Chapter 2, Title I of the Family Code. The resolution of this case, thus, hinges on whether or not a
also considered that the parties had comported themselves as husband and wife, and that Syed valid marriage license had been issued for the couple. The RTC held that no valid marriage license
only instituted his petition after Gloria had filed a case against him for bigamy. 38 had been issued. The CA held that there was a valid marriage license.
The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads as follows: We find the RTC to be correct in this instance.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated 05 October 2005 Respondent Gloria failed to present the actual marriage license, or a copy thereof, and relied on
and Order dated 27 January 2006 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 109, in Civil the marriage contract as well as the testimonies of her witnesses to prove the existence of said
Case No. 03-0382-CFM are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the Petition for Declaration of Nullity of license. To prove that no such license was issued, Syed turned to the office of the Municipal Civil
Marriage is DISMISSED. The marriage between Shed [sic] Azhar Abbas and Gloria Goo Abbas Registrar of Carmona, Cavite which had allegedly issued said license. It was there that he
contracted on 09 January 1993 remains valid and subsisting. No costs. requested certification that no such license was issued. In the case of Republic v. Court of
SO ORDERED.39 Appeals43 such certification was allowed, as permitted by Sec. 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court,
Syed then filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated April 1, 200840 but the same was denied by the which reads:
CA in a Resolution dated July 24, 2008.41 SEC. 28. Proof of lack of record. – A written statement signed by an officer having the custody of an
Hence, this petition. official record or by his deputy that after diligent search, no record or entry of a specified tenor is found
Grounds in Support of Petition to exist in the records of his office, accompanied by a certificate as above provided, is admissible as
I evidence that the records of his office contain no such record or entry.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW IN CITING In the case of Republic, in allowing the certification of the Civil Registrar of Pasig to prove the non-
REPUBLIC VS. COURT OF APPEALS AS THE SAME IS DIAMETRICALLY INCONSISTENT AND issuance of a marriage license, the Court held:
CONTRARY TO THE COURT’S OWN FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS IN THIS CASE. The above Rule authorized the custodian of the documents to certify that despite diligent search, a
II particular document does not exist in his office or that a particular entry of a specified tenor was
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN REVERSING AND SETTING ASIDE, not to be found in a register. As custodians of public documents, civil registrars are public officers
WITHOUT ANY FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASIS, THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT charged with the duty, inter alia, of maintaining a register book where they are required to enter
GRANTING THE PETITION FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.42 all applications for marriage licenses, including the names of the applicants, the date the marriage
The Ruling of this Court license was issued and such other relevant data. 44
The petition is meritorious. The Court held in that case that the certification issued by the civil registrar enjoyed probative
As the marriage of Gloria and Syed was solemnized on January 9, 1993, Executive Order No. 209, value, as his duty was to maintain records of data relative to the issuance of a marriage license.
or the Family Code of the Philippines, is the applicable law. The pertinent provisions that would The Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, where the marriage license of Gloria and Syed
apply to this particular case are Articles 3, 4 and 35(3), which read as follows: was allegedly issued, issued a certification to the effect that no such marriage license for Gloria
Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are: and Syed was issued, and that the serial number of the marriage license pertained to another
(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer; couple, Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan. A certified machine copy of Marriage License No.
(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this Title; and 9969967 was presented, which was issued in Carmona, Cavite, and indeed, the names of Gloria
and Syed do not appear in the document.
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 29

In reversing the RTC, the CA focused on the wording of the certification, stating that it did not can be reached is that no valid marriage license was issued. It cannot be said that there was a
comply with Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. simple irregularity in the marriage license that would not affect the validity of the marriage, as no
The CA deduced that from the absence of the words "despite diligent search" in the certification, license was presented by the respondent. No marriage license was proven to have been issued to
and since the certification used stated that no marriage license appears to have been issued, no Gloria and Syed, based on the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite and
diligent search had been conducted and thus the certification could not be given probative value. Gloria’s failure to produce a copy of the alleged marriage license.
To justify that deduction, the CA cited the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals.45 It is worth noting To bolster its ruling, the CA cited other evidence to support its conclusion that Gloria and Syed
that in that particular case, the Court, in sustaining the finding of the lower court that a marriage were validly married. To quote the CA:
license was lacking, relied on the Certification issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig, which merely Moreover, the record is replete with evidence, testimonial and documentary, that appellant and
stated that the alleged marriage license could not be located as the same did not appear in their appellee have been validly married and there was compliance with all the requisites laid down by
records. Nowhere in the Certification was it categorically stated that the officer involved conducted law. Both parties are legally capacitated to marry. A certificate of legal capacity was even issued by
a diligent search, nor is a categorical declaration absolutely necessary for Sec. 28, Rule 132 of the the Embassy of Pakistan in favor of appellee. The parties herein gave their consent freely. Appellee
Rules of Court to apply. admitted that the signature above his name in the marriage contract was his. Several pictures
Under Sec. 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, it is a disputable presumption that an official duty were presented showing appellant and appellee, before the solemnizing officer, the witnesses and
has been regularly performed, absent contradiction or other evidence to the contrary. We held, other members of appellant’s family, taken during the marriage ceremony, as well as in the
"The presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of restaurant where the lunch was held after the marriage ceremony. Most telling of all is Exhibit "5-
irregularity or failure to perform a duty."46 No such affirmative evidence was shown that the C" which shows appellee signing the Marriage Contract.
Municipal Civil Registrar was lax in performing her duty of checking the records of their office, thus xxxx
the presumption must stand. In fact, proof does exist of a diligent search having been conducted, The parties have comported themselves as husband and wife and has [sic] one offspring, Aliea
as Marriage License No. 996967 was indeed located and submitted to the court. The fact that the Fatima Goo Abbas, who was born on 15 June 1993. It took appellee more than ten (10) years
names in said license do not correspond to those of Gloria and Syed does not overturn the before he filed on 01 August 2003 his Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage under Article 4
presumption that the registrar conducted a diligent search of the records of her office. of the Family Code. We take serious note that said Petition appears to have been instituted by him
It is telling that Gloria failed to present their marriage license or a copy thereof to the court. She only after an Information for Bigamy (Exhibit "1") dated 10 January 2003 was filed against him for
failed to explain why the marriage license was secured in Carmona, Cavite, a location where, contracting a second or subsequent marriage with one Ma. Corazon (Maryam) T. Buenaventura.
admittedly, neither party resided. She took no pains to apply for the license, so she is not the best We are not ready to reward (appellee) by declaring the nullity of his marriage and give him his
witness to testify to the validity and existence of said license. Neither could the other witnesses freedom and in the process allow him to profit from his own deceit and perfidy. 50
she presented prove the existence of the marriage license, as none of them applied for the license All the evidence cited by the CA to show that a wedding ceremony was conducted and a marriage
in Carmona, Cavite. Her mother, Felicitas Goo, could not even testify as to the contents of the contract was signed does not operate to cure the absence of a valid marriage license. Article 4 of
license, having admitted to not reading all of its contents. Atty. Sanchez, one of the sponsors, the Family Code is clear when it says, "The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites
whom Gloria and Felicitas Goo approached for assistance in securing the license, admitted not shall render the marriage void ab initio, except as stated in Article 35(2)." Article 35(3) of the
knowing where the license came from. The task of applying for the license was delegated to a Family Code also provides that a marriage solemnized without a license is void from the beginning,
certain Qualin, who could have testified as to how the license was secured and thus impeached the except those exempt from the license requirement under Articles 27 to 34, Chapter 2, Title I of the
certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar as well as the testimony of her representative. As Gloria same Code.51 Again, this marriage cannot be characterized as among the exemptions, and thus,
failed to present this Qualin, the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar still enjoys probative having been solemnized without a marriage license, is void ab initio. 1âwphi1
value. As to the motive of Syed in seeking to annul his marriage to Gloria, it may well be that his motives
It is also noted that the solemnizing officer testified that the marriage contract and a copy of the are less than pure, that he seeks to evade a bigamy suit. Be that as it may, the same does not
marriage license were submitted to the Local Civil Registrar of Manila. Thus, a copy of the make up for the failure of the respondent to prove that they had a valid marriage license, given
marriage license could have simply been secured from that office and submitted to the court. the weight of evidence presented by petitioner. The lack of a valid marriage license cannot be
However, Gloria inexplicably failed to do so, further weakening her claim that there was a valid attributed to him, as it was Gloria who took steps to procure the same. The law must be applied.
marriage license issued for her and Syed. As the marriage license, a formal requisite, is clearly absent, the marriage of Gloria and Syed is
In the case of Cariño v. Cariño,47 following the case of Republic,48 it was held that the certification void ab initio.
of the Local Civil Registrar that their office had no record of a marriage license was adequate to WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed Decision
prove the non-issuance of said license. The case of Cariño further held that the presumed validity dated March 11, 2008 and Resolution dated July 24, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
of the marriage of the parties had been overcome, and that it became the burden of the party No. 86760 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
alleging a valid marriage to prove that the marriage was valid, and that the required marriage 109, Pasay City dated October 5, 2005 in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM annulling the marriage of
license had been secured.49 Gloria has failed to discharge that burden, and the only conclusion that petitioner with respondent on January 9, 1993 is hereby REINSTATED.
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 30

No costs. The MTC Judgment


SO ORDERED. The MTC found the petitioner guilty of violation of Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, and
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. imposed on him a ₱200.00 fine pursuant to Section 44 of Act No. 3613. It held that the petitioner’s
Associate Justice act of giving a blessing constitutes a marriage ceremony as he made an official church recognition
of the cohabitation of the couple as husband and wife.11 It further ruled that in performing a
G.R. No. 182438 July 2, 2014 marriage ceremony without the couple’s marriage license, the petitioner violated Article 352 of the
RENE RONULO, Petitioner, RPC which imposes the penalty provided under Act No. 3613 or the Marriage Law. The MTC
vs. applied Section 44 of the Marriage Law which pertinently states that a violation of any of its
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. provisions that is not specifically penalized or of the regulations to be promulgated, shall be
DECISION punished by a fine of not more than two hundred pesos or by imprisonment of not more than one
BRION, J.: month, or both, in the discretion of the court.
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari1 filed by petitioner Fr. Rene Ronulo The RPC is a law subsequent to the Marriage Law, and provides the penalty for violation of the
challenging the April 3, 2008 decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR. No. 31028 latter law. Applying these laws, the MTC imposed the penalty of a fine in the amount of ₱200.00. 12
which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court, (RTC) Branch 18, Batac, Ilocos Norte. The RTC Ruling
The Factual Antecedents The RTC affirmed the findings of the MTC and added that the circumstances surrounding the act of
The presented evidence showed that3 Joey Umadac and Claire Bingayen were scheduled to marry the petitioner in "blessing" the couple unmistakably show that a marriage ceremony had
each other on March 29, 2003 at the Sta. Rosa Catholic Parish Church of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. transpired. It further ruled that the positive declarations of the prosecution witnesses deserve
However, on the day of the wedding, the supposed officiating priest, Fr. Mario Ragaza, refused to more credence than the petitioner’s negative statements. 13 The RTC, however, ruled that the basis
solemnize the marriage upon learning that the couple failed to secure a marriage license. As a of the fine should be Section 39, instead of Section 44, of the Marriage Law.
recourse, Joey, who was then dressed in barong tagalong,and Claire, clad in a wedding gown, The CA Decision
together with their parents, sponsors and guests, proceeded to the Independent Church of Filipino On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC’s ruling. The CA observed that although there is no prescribed
Christians, also known as the Aglipayan Church. They requested the petitioner, an Aglipayan form or religious rite for the solemnization of marriage, the law provides minimum standards in
priest, to perform a ceremony to which the latter agreed despite having been informed by the determining whether a marriage ceremony has been conducted, viz.: (1) the contracting parties
couple that they had no marriage certificate. must appear personally before the solemnizing officer; and (2) they should declare that they take
The petitioner prepared his choir and scheduled a mass for the couple on the same date. He each other as husband and wife in the presence of at least two witnesses of legal age. 14 According
conducted the ceremony in the presence of the groom, the bride, their parents, the principal and to the CA, the prosecution duly proved these requirements. It added that the presence of a
secondary sponsors and the rest of their invited guests.4 marriage certificate is not a requirement in a marriage ceremony. 15
An information for violation of Article 352 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended, was filed The CA additionally ruled that the petitioner’s criminal liability under Article 352 of the RPC, as
against the petitioner before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Batac, Ilocos Norte for allegedly amended, is not dependent on whether Joey or Claire were charged or found guilty under Article
performing an illegal marriage ceremony.5 350 of the same Code.16
The petitioner entered the plea of "not guilty" to the crime charged on arraignment. The CA agreed with the MTC that the legal basis for the imposition of the fine is Section 44 of the
The prosecution’s witnesses, Joseph and Mary Anne Yere, testified on the incidents of the Marriage Law since it covers violation of regulations to be promulgated by the proper authorities
ceremony. Joseph was the veil sponsor while Mary Anne was the cord sponsor in the wedding. such as the RPC.
Mary Anne testified that she saw the bride walk down the aisle. She also saw the couple exchange The Petition
their wedding rings, kiss each other, and sign a document.6She heard the petitioner instructing the The petitioner argues that the CA erred on the following grounds: First, Article 352 of the RPC, as
principal sponsors to sign the marriage contract. Thereafter, they went to the reception, had lunch amended, is vague and does not define what constitutes "an illegal marriage ceremony." Assuming
and took pictures. She saw the petitioner there. She also identified the wedding invitation given to that a marriage ceremony principally constitutes those enunciated in Article 55 of the Civil Code
her by Joey.7 and Article 6 of the Family Code, these provisions require the verbal declaration that the couple
Florida Umadac, the mother of Joey, testified that she heard the couple declare during the take each other as husband and wife, and a marriage certificate containing the declaration in
ceremony that they take each other as husband and wife. 8 Days after the wedding, she went to writing which is duly signed by the contracting parties and attested to by the solemnizing
the municipal local civil registrar of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte with Atty. Mariano R. Nalupta Jr. officer.17 The petitioner likewise maintains that the prosecution failed to prove that the contracting
where she was given a certificate that no marriage license was issued to the couple. 9 parties personally declared that they take each other as husband and wife.18 Second, under the
The petitioner, while admitting that he conducted a ceremony, denied that his act of blessing the principle of separation of church and State, the State cannot interfere in ecclesiastical affairs such
couple was tantamount to a solemnization of the marriage as contemplated by law. 10 as the administration of matrimony. Therefore, the State cannot convert the "blessing" into a
"marriage ceremony."19
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Third, the petitioner had no criminal intent as he conducted the "blessing" in good faith for At any rate, if the defense found the line of questioning of the judge objectionable, its failure to
purposes of giving moral guidance to the couple.20 timely register this bars it from belatedly invoking any irregularity.
Fourth, the non-filing of a criminal case against the couple in violating Article 350 of the RPC, as In addition, the testimonies of Joseph and Mary Anne, and even the petitioner’s admission
amended, should preclude the filing of the present case against him. 21 regarding the circumstances of the ceremony, support Florida’s testimony that there had indeed
Finally, Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, does not provide for a penalty. The present case is not been the declaration by the couple that they take each other as husband and wife. The testimony
covered by Section 44 of the Marriage Law as the petitioner was not found violating its provisions of Joey disowning their declaration as husband and wife cannot overcome these clear and
nor a regulation promulgated thereafter.22 convincing pieces of evidence. Notably, the defense failed to show that the prosecution witnesses,
THE COURT’S RULING: Joseph and Mary Anne, had any ill-motive to testify against the petitioner.
We find the petition unmeritorious. We also do not agree with the petitioner that the principle of separation of church and State
The elements of the crime punishable under Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, were proven by precludes the State from qualifying the church "blessing" into a marriage ceremony. Contrary to
the prosecution the petitioner’s allegation, this principle has been duly preserved by Article 6 of the Family Code
Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, penalizes an authorized solemnizing officer who shall perform when it provides that no prescribed form or religious rite for the solemnization of marriage is
or authorize any illegal marriage ceremony. The elements of this crime are as follows: (1) authority required. This pronouncement gives any religion or sect the freedom or latitude in conducting its
of the solemnizing officer; and (2) his performance of an illegal marriage ceremony. In the present respective marital rites, subject only to the requirement that the core requirements of law be
case, the petitioner admitted that he has authority to solemnize a marriage. Hence, the only issue observed.
to be resolved is whether the alleged "blessing" by the petitioner is tantamount to the performance We emphasize at this point that Article 1529 of the Constitution recognizes marriage as an
of an "illegal marriage ceremony" which is punishable under Article 352 of the RPC, as amended. inviolable social institution and that our family law is based on the policy that marriage is not a
While Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, does not specifically define a "marriage ceremony" and mere contract, but a social institution in which the State is vitally interested. The State has
what constitutes its "illegal" performance, Articles 3(3) and 6 of the Family Code are clear on these paramount interest in the enforcement of its constitutional policies and the preservation of the
matters. These provisions were taken from Article 5523 of the New Civil Code which, in turn, was sanctity of marriage. To this end, it is within its power to enact laws and regulations, such as
copied from Section 324 of the Marriage Law with no substantial amendments. Article 625 of the Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, which penalize the commission of acts resulting in the
Family Code provides that "[n]o prescribed form or religious rite for the solemnization of the disintegration and mockery of marriage.
marriage is required. It shall be necessary, however, for the contracting parties to appear From these perspectives, we find it clear that what the petitioner conducted was a marriage
personally before the solemnizing officer and declare in the presence of not less than two ceremony, as the minimum requirements set by law were complied with. While the petitioner may
witnesses of legal age that they take each other as husband and wife."26 Pertinently, Article view this merely as a "blessing," the presence of the requirements of the law constitutive of a
3(3)27 mirrors Article 6 of the Family Code and particularly defines a marriage ceremony as that marriage ceremony qualified this "blessing" into a "marriage ceremony" as contemplated by Article
which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer 3(3) of the Family Code and Article 352 of the RPC, as amended.
and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of We come now to the issue of whether the solemnization by the petitioner of this marriage
not less than two witnesses of legal age. ceremony was illegal.
Even prior to the date of the enactment of Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, the rule was clear Under Article 3(3) of the Family Code, one of the essential requisites of marriage is the presence of
that no prescribed form of religious rite for the solemnization of the marriage is required. However, a valid marriage certificate. In the present case, the petitioner admitted that he knew that the
as correctly found by the CA, the law sets the minimum requirements constituting a marriage couple had no marriage license, yet he conducted the "blessing" of their relationship.
ceremony: first, there should be the personal appearance of the contracting parties before a Undoubtedly, the petitioner conducted the marriage ceremony despite knowledge that the
solemnizing officer; and second, heir declaration in the presence of not less than two witnesses essential and formal requirements of marriage set by law were lacking. The marriage ceremony,
that they take each other as husband and wife. therefore, was illegal. The petitioner’s knowledge of the absence of these requirements negates his
As to the first requirement, the petitioner admitted that the parties appeared before him and this defense of good faith.
fact was testified to by witnesses. On the second requirement, we find that, contrary to the We also do not agree with the petitioner that the lack of a marriage certificate negates his criminal
petitioner’s allegation, the prosecution has proven, through the testimony of Florida, that the liability in the present case. For purposes of determining if a marriage ceremony has been
contracting parties personally declared that they take each other as husband and wife. conducted, a marriage certificate is not included in the requirements provided by Article 3(3) of the
The petitioner’s allegation that the court asked insinuating and leading questions to Florida fails to Family Code, as discussed above.
persuadeus. A judge may examine or cross-examine a witness. He may propound clarificatory Neither does the non-filing of a criminal complaint against the couple negate criminal liability of the
questions to test the credibility of the witness and to extract the truth. He may seek to draw out petitioner. Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, does not make this an element of the crime. The
relevant and material testimony though that testimony may tend to support or rebut the position penalty imposed is proper
taken by one or the other party. It cannot be taken against him if the clarificatory questions he On the issue on the penalty for violation of Article 352 of the RPC, as amended, this provision
propounds happen to reveal certain truths that tend to destroy the theory of one party.28 clearly provides that it shall be imposed in accordance with the provision of the Marriage Law. The
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 32

penalty provisions of the Marriage Law are Sections 39 and 44 which provide as follows: Section 39 Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 143, in Civil Case No. 97-1325 dated 14 February
of the Marriage Law provides that: 2000, dismissing his petition for annulment of marriage.
Section 39. Illegal Solemnization of Marriage – Any priest or minister solemnizing marriage without
being authorized by the Director of the Philippine National Library or who, upon solemnizing The antecedent facts are:
marriage, refuses to exhibit the authorization in force when called upon to do so by the parties or A petition for annulment of marriage[3] was filed by petitioner against respondent Rosita
parents, grandparents, guardians, or persons having charge and any bishop or officer, priest, or A. Alcantara alleging that on 8 December 1982 he and respondent, without securing the required
minister of any church, religion or sect the regulations and practices whereof require banns or marriage license, went to the Manila City Hall for the purpose of looking for a person who could
publications previous to the solemnization of a marriage in accordance with section ten, who arrange a marriage for them. They met a person who, for a fee, arranged their wedding before a
authorized the immediate solemnization of a marriage that is subsequently declared illegal; or any certain Rev. Aquilino Navarro, a Minister of the Gospel of the CDCC BR Chapel.[4] They got married
officer, priest or minister solemnizing marriage in violation of this act, shall be punished by on the same day, 8 December 1982. Petitioner and respondent went through another marriage
imprisonment for not less than one month nor more than two years, or by a fine of not less than ceremony at the San Jose de Manuguit Church in Tondo, Manila, on 26 March 1983. The marriage
two hundred pesos nor more than two thousand pesos. [emphasis ours] was likewise celebrated without the parties securing a marriage license. The alleged marriage
On the other hand, Section 44 of the Marriage Law states that: license, procured in Carmona, Cavite, appearing on the marriage contract, is a sham, as neither
Section 44. General Penal Clause – Any violation of any provision of this Act not specifically party was a resident of Carmona, and they never went to Carmona to apply for a license with the
penalized, or of the regulations to be promulgated by the proper authorities, shall be punished by local civil registrar of the said place. On 14 October 1985, respondent gave birth to their child Rose
a fine of not more than two hundred pesos or by imprisonment for not more than one month, or Ann Alcantara. In 1988, they parted ways and lived separate lives. Petitioner prayed that after due
both, in the discretion of the court. [emphasis ours] hearing, judgment be issued declaring their marriage void and ordering the Civil Registrar to cancel
From a reading of the provisions cited above, we find merit in the ruling of the CA and the MTC the corresponding marriage contract[5] and its entry on file.[6]
that the penalty imposable in the present case is that covered under Section 44, and not Section
Answering petitioners petition for annulment of marriage, respondent asserts the validity of their
39, of the Marriage Law. The penalized acts under Section 39 of Act No. 3613 do not include the
marriage and maintains that there was a marriage license issued as evidenced by a certification
present case.1âwphi1 As correctly found by the MTC, the petitioner was not found violating the
from the Office of the Civil Registry of Carmona, Cavite. Contrary to petitioners representation,
provisions of the Marriage Law but Article 352 of the RPC, as amended. It is only the imposition of
respondent gave birth to their first child named Rose Ann Alcantara on 14 October 1985 and to
the penalty for the violation of this provision which is referred to the Marriage Law. On this point,
another daughter named Rachel Ann Alcantara on 27 October 1992.[7] Petitioner has a mistress
Article 352 falls squarely under the provision of Section 44 of Act No. 3613 which provides for the
with whom he has three children.[8]Petitioner only filed the annulment of their marriage to evade
penalty for any violation of the regulations to be promulgated by the proper authorities; Article 352
prosecution for concubinage.[9] Respondent, in fact, has filed a case for concubinage against
of the RPC, as amended, which was enacted after the Marriage Law, is one of such regulations.
petitioner before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 60.[10] Respondent
Therefore, the CA did not err in imposing the penalty of fine of ₱200.00 pursuant to Section 44 of
prays that the petition for annulment of marriage be denied for lack of merit.
the Marriage Law.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition and affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals dated April 3, On 14 February 2000, the RTC of Makati City, Branch 143, rendered its Decision disposing as
2008 in CA-G.R. CR. No. 31028. follows:
SO ORDERED. The foregoing considered, judgment is rendered as follows:
ARTURO D. BRION 1. The Petition is dismissed for lack of merit;
2. Petitioner is ordered to pay respondent the sum of twenty thousand pesos
RESTITUTO M. ALCANTARA, G.R. No. 167746 (P20,000.00) per month as support for their two (2) children on the first five (5)
Petitioner, August 28, 2007 days of each month; and
- versus - 3. To pay the costs.[11]
ROSITA A. ALCANTARA and HON.
As earlier stated, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision dismissing the petitioners appeal. His
COURT OF APPEALS,
Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied in a resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 6
Respondents.
April 2005.[12]
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: The Court of Appeals held that the marriage license of the parties is presumed to be regularly
issued and petitioner had not presented any evidence to overcome the presumption.Moreover, the
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by parties marriage contract being a public document is a prima facie proof of the questioned
petitioner Restituto Alcantara assailing the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated 30 September marriage under Section 44, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.[13]
2004 in CA-G.R. CV No. 66724 denying petitioners appeal and affirming the decision[2] of the
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In his Petition before this Court, petitioner raises the following issues for resolution: Petitioner cannot insist on the absence of a marriage license to impugn the validity of his
marriage. The cases where the court considered the absence of a marriage license as a ground for
a. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it ruled that the
considering the marriage void are clear-cut.
Petition for Annulment has no legal and factual basis despite the evidence on record
that there was no marriage license at the precise moment of the solemnization of In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals,[22] the Local Civil Registrar issued a certification
the marriage. of due search and inability to find a record or entry to the effect that Marriage License No.
b. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it gave weight 3196182 was issued to the parties. The Court held that the certification of due search and inability
to the Marriage License No. 7054133 despite the fact that the same was not to find a record or entry as to the purported marriage license, issued by the Civil Registrar
identified and offered as evidence during the trial, and was not the Marriage license of Pasig, enjoys probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all
number appearing on the face of the marriage contract. data relative to the issuance of a marriage license. Based on said certification, the Court held that
c. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it failed to
there is absence of a marriage license that would render the marriage void ab initio.
apply the ruling laid down by this Honorable Court in the case of Sy vs. Court of
Appeals. (G.R. No. 127263, 12 April 2000 [330 SCRA 550]). In Cario v. Cario,[23] the Court considered the marriage of therein petitioner Susan Nicdao and the
d. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it failed to deceased Santiago S. Carino as void ab initio. The records reveal that the marriage contract of
relax the observance of procedural rules to protect and promote the substantial petitioner and the deceased bears no marriage license number and, as certified by the Local Civil
rights of the party litigants.[14] Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record of such marriage license. The court
We deny the petition. held that the certification issued by the local civil registrar is adequate to prove the non-issuance of
Petitioner submits that at the precise time that his marriage with the respondent was celebrated, the marriage license. Their marriage having been solemnized without the necessary marriage
there was no marriage license because he and respondent just went to the ManilaCity Hall and license and not being one of the marriages exempt from the marriage license requirement, the
dealt with a fixer who arranged everything for them.[15] The wedding took place at the stairs marriage of the petitioner and the deceased is undoubtedly void ab initio.
in Manila City Hall and not in CDCC BR Chapel where Rev.Aquilino Navarro who solemnized the
marriage belongs.[16] He and respondent did not go to Carmona, Cavite, to apply for a marriage In Sy v. Court of Appeals,[24] the marriage license was issued on 17 September 1974, almost one
license. Assuming a marriage license from Carmona, Cavite, was issued to them, neither he nor year after the ceremony took place on 15 November 1973. The Court held that the ineluctable
the respondent was a resident of the place. The certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar conclusion is that the marriage was indeed contracted without a marriage license.
of Carmona, Cavite, cannot be given weight because the certification states that Marriage License In all these cases, there was clearly an absence of a marriage license which rendered the marriage
number 7054133 was issued in favor of Mr. Restituto Alcantara and Miss Rosita Almario[17] but void. Clearly, from these cases, it can be deduced that to be considered void on the ground of
their marriage contract bears the number 7054033 for their marriage license number. absence of a marriage license, the law requires that the absence of such marriage license must be
The marriage involved herein having been solemnized on 8 December 1982, or prior to apparent on the marriage contract, or at the very least, supported by a certification from the local
the effectivity of the Family Code, the applicable law to determine its validity is the Civil Code civil registrar that no such marriage license was issued to the parties. In this case, the marriage
which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration. contract between the petitioner and respondent reflects a marriage license number. A certification
A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the Civil Code, the absence to this effect was also issued by the local civil registrar of Carmona, Cavite.[25] The certification
of which renders the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3)[18] in relation to Article 58 of moreover is precise in that it specifically identified the parties to whom the marriage license was
the same Code.[19] issued, namely Restituto Alcantara and Rosita Almario, further validating the fact that a license was
Article 53 of the Civil Code[20] which was the law applicable at the time of the marriage of the in fact issued to the parties herein.
parties states:
Art. 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied with: The certification of Municipal Civil Registrar Macrino L. Diaz of Carmona, Cavite, reads:
(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties;
This is to certify that as per the registry Records of Marriage filed in this office,
(2) Their consent, freely given;
Marriage License No. 7054133 was issued in favor of Mr. Restituto Alcantara and
(3) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and
Miss Rosita Almario on December 8, 1982.
(4) A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character.
This Certification is being issued upon the request of Mrs. Rosita A. Alcantara for
The requirement and issuance of a marriage license is the States demonstration of its involvement whatever legal purpose or intents it may serve.[26]
and participation in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the general public is
This certification enjoys the presumption that official duty has been regularly performed and the
interested.[21]
issuance of the marriage license was done in the regular conduct of official business. [27] The
presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or
failure to perform a duty. However, the presumption prevails until it is overcome by no less than
clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. Thus, unless the presumption is rebutted, it
P e r s o n s a n d F a m i l y R e l a t i o n s S e p t e m b e r 5 a n d 7 P a g e | 34

becomes conclusive. Every reasonable intendment will be made in support of the presumption and, WITNESS I think they asked us for documents and I said we have already a Marriage
in case of doubt as to an officers act being lawful or unlawful, construction should be in favor of its Contract and I dont know if it is good enough for the marriage and they
lawfulness.[28]Significantly, apart from these, petitioner, by counsel, admitted that a marriage accepted it your honor.
license was, indeed, issued in Carmona, Cavite.[29] COURT In other words, you represented to the San Jose de Manuguit church that you
have with you already a Marriage Contract?
Petitioner, in a faint attempt to demolish the probative value of the marriage license, claims that WITNESS Yes your honor.
neither he nor respondent is a resident of Carmona, Cavite. Even then, we still hold that there is COURT That is why the San Jose de Manuguit church copied the same marriage
no sufficient basis to annul petitioner and respondents marriage. Issuance of a marriage license in License in the Marriage Contract issued which Marriage License is Number
a city or municipality, not the residence of either of the contracting parties, and issuance of a 7054033.
marriage license despite the absence of publication or prior to the completion of the 10-day period WITNESS Yes your honor.[35]
for publication are considered mere irregularities that do not affect the validity of the
The logical conclusion is that petitioner was amenable and a willing participant to all that took
marriage.[30] An irregularity in any of the formal requisites of marriage does not affect its validity
place at that time. Obviously, the church ceremony was confirmatory of their civil marriage,
but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity are civilly, criminally and administratively
thereby cleansing whatever irregularity or defect attended the civil wedding. [36]
liable.[31]
Likewise, the issue raised by petitioner -- that they appeared before a fixer who arranged
Again, petitioner harps on the discrepancy between the marriage license number in the
everything for them and who facilitated the ceremony before a certain Rev. AquilinoNavarro, a
certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar, which states that the marriage license issued to the
Minister of the Gospel of the CDCC Br Chapel -- will not strengthen his posture. The authority of
parties is No. 7054133, while the marriage contract states that the marriage license number of the
the officer or clergyman shown to have performed a marriage ceremony will be presumed in the
parties is number 7054033. Once more, this argument fails to sway us. It is not impossible to
absence of any showing to the contrary.[37] Moreover, the solemnizing officer is not duty-bound to
assume that the same is a mere a typographical error, as a closer scrutiny of the marriage contract
investigate whether or not a marriage license has been duly and regularly issued by the local civil
reveals the overlapping of the numbers 0 and 1, such that the marriage license may read either as
registrar. All the solemnizing officer needs to know is that the license has been issued by the
7054133 or 7054033. It therefore does not detract from our conclusion regarding the existence
competent official, and it may be presumed from the issuance of the license that said official has
and issuance of said marriage license to the parties.
fulfilled the duty to ascertain whether the contracting parties had fulfilled the requirements of
Under the principle that he who comes to court must come with clean hands,[32] petitioner cannot
law.[38]
pretend that he was not responsible or a party to the marriage celebration which he now insists .

took place without the requisite marriage license. Petitioner admitted that the civil marriage took Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio. The presumption is always in favor of the validity of the
place because he initiated it.[33] Petitioner is an educated person.He is a mechanical engineer by marriage.[39] Every intendment of the law or fact leans toward the validity of the marriage
profession. He knowingly and voluntarily went to the Manila City Hall and likewise, knowingly and bonds. The Courts look upon this presumption with great favor. It is not to be lightly repelled; on
voluntarily, went through a marriage ceremony. He cannot benefit from his action and be allowed the contrary, the presumption is of great weight.
to extricate himself from the marriage bond at his mere say-so when the situation is no longer
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The decision
palatable to his taste or suited to his lifestyle. We cannot countenance such effrontery. His attempt
of the Court of Appeals dated 30 September 2004 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial
to make a mockery of the institution of marriage betrays his bad faith. [34]
Court, Branch 143 of Makati City, dated 14 February 2000, are AFFIRMED. Costs against
Petitioner and respondent went through a marriage ceremony twice in a span of less than one year petitioner.
utilizing the same marriage license. There is no claim that he went through the second wedding
ceremony in church under duress or with a gun to his head. Everything was executed without nary SO ORDERED.
a whimper on the part of the petitioner.
In fact, for the second wedding of petitioner and respondent, they presented to the San Jose
de Manuguit Church the marriage contract executed during the previous wedding ceremony before
the Manila City Hall. This is confirmed in petitioners testimony as follows
WITNESS As I remember your honor, they asked us to get the necessary document
prior to the wedding.
COURT What particular document did the church asked you to produce? I am
referring to the San Jose de Manuguit church.
WITNESS I dont remember your honor.
COURT Were you asked by the church to present a Marriage License?