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TENCHAVEZ vs.

ESCANO
FACTS:

27 years old Vicenta Escano who belong to a prominent Filipino Family of Spanish ancestry
got married on Feburary 24, 1948 with Pastor Tenchavez, 32 years old engineer, and ex-army officer
before Catholic chaplain Lt. Moises Lavares.The marriage was a culmination of the love affair of the
couple and was duly registered in the local civil registry. A certain Pacita Noel came to be their
match-maker and go-between who had an amorous relationship with Tenchavez as written by a San
Carlos college student where she and Vicenta are studying. Vicenta and Pastor are supposed to
renew their vows/ marriage in a church as suggested by Vicentas parents. However after translating
the said letter to Vicentas father, he disagreed for a new marriage. Vicenta continued leaving with her
parents in Cebu while Pastor went back to work in Manila.

Subsequently, Vicenta applied for a passport indicating that she was single and when it was
approved she left for the United States and filed a complaint for divorce against Pastor which was
later on approved and issued by the Second Judicial Court of the State of Nevada. She then sought
for the annulment of her marriage to the Archbishop of Cebu. Vicenta married Russell Leo Moran, an
American, in Nevada and has begotten children. She acquired citizenship on August 8, 1958.
Petitioner filed a complaint against Vicenta and her parents whom he alleged to have dissuaded
Vicenta from joining her husband.


ISSUE:

Whether the divorce sought by Vicenta Escano is valid and binding upon courts of the
Philippines.


RULING:

NO. Divorce, although successfully obtained in another country, cannot be applied in the
Philippines since it is contrary to public policy. The principle is well-established, in private international
law, that foreign decrees cannot be enforced or recognized if they contravene public policy.

At the time the divorce decree was issued, Escano like her husband, was still a Filipino citizen.
She was then subject to Philippine law under Art. 15 of the NCC. Philippine law, under the NCC then
now in force, does not admit absolute divorce but only provides for legal separation. For Phil. courts
to recognize foreign divorce decrees bet. Filipino citizens would be a patent violation of the declared
policy of the State, especially in view of the 3rd par. of Art. 17, NCC. Moreover, recognition would
give rise to scandalous discrimination in favor of wealthy citizens to the detriment of those members
of our society whose means do not permit them to sojourn abroad and obtain absolute divorce
outside the Philippines.

Therefore, a foreign divorce between Filipino citizens, sought and decreed after the effectivity
of the NCC, is not entitled to recognition as valid in this jurisdiction.

WHEREFORE, the decision under appeal is hereby modified as follows;
(1) Adjudging plaintiff-appellant Pastor Tenchavez entitled to a decree of legal separation from
defendant Vicenta F. Escao;
(2) Sentencing defendant-appellee Vicenta Escao to pay plaintiff-appellant Tenchavez the
amount of P25,000 for damages and attorneys' fees;
(3) Sentencing appellant Pastor Tenchavez to pay the appellee, Mamerto Escao and the
estate of his wife, the deceased Mena Escao, P5,000 by way of damages and attorneys' fees.