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III.

CONFLICT OF LAWS
G.R. Nos. 95122-23

May 31, 1991

BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS (COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION AND DEPORTATION), BOARD OF


SPECIAL INQUIRY, COMMISSIONER ANDREA D. DOMINGO, ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER JORGE
V. SARMIENTO, ACTING ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER REGINO R. SANTIAGO, MEMBERS OF THE
BOARD OF SPECIAL INQUIRY, ESTANISLAO CANTA, LEO MAGAHOM and BENJAMIN
KALAW, petitioners,
vs.
HON. JOSELITO DELA ROSA, Presiding Judge, RTC Manila, Branch 29, WILLIAM T.
GATCHALIAN,respondents.
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS (COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION AND DEPORTATION), BOARD OF
SPECIAL INQUIRY, COMMISSIONER ANDREA D. DOMINGO, ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER JORGE
V. SARMIENTO, ACTING ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER REGINO R. SANTIAGO, MEMBERS OF THE
BOARD OF SPECIAL INQUIRY, ESTANISLAO CANTA, LEO MAGAHOM and BENJAMIN
KALAW, petitioners,
vs.
HON. TERESITA DIZON CAPULONG, Presiding Judge, RTC Branch 172, Valenzuela, Metro Manila,
DEE HUA T. GATCHALIAN, SHERWING T. GATCHALIAN, KENNETH T. GATCHALIAN, REXLON T.
GATCHALIAN, and WESLIE T. GATCHALIAN, respondents.
G.R. Nos. 95612-13

May 31, 1991

WILLIAM T. GATCHALIAN, petitioner,


vs.
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS (COMMISSION ON IMMIGRATION AND DEPORTATION), et
al., respondents.
Facts: On July 6, 1960, Santiago Gatchalian, grandfather of William Gatchalian, was recognized by the
BOI as a native born Filipino citizen. Santiago Gatchalian testified that he has 5 children.
On June 27, 1961, William Gatchalian then a twelve year old minor arrived in Manila and sought
admission as Filipino citizen which was eventually granted by the board of special inquiry. However, the
Secretary of Justice issued a memorandum setting aside all decisions and directed the Board of
Commissions to review all cases where entry was allowed among which was that of William Gatchalian.
ISSUE: Whether or not the marriage of Gatchalian in China is valid in accordance with Philippine law.
HELD: The Supreme Court held that in the absence of the evidence to the contrary foreign laws on a
particular subject are presumed to be the same as those of the Philippines. This is known as Processual
Presumption. In this case, there being no proof of Chinese law relating to marriage, there arises a
presumption that it is the same of that of Philippine law the said marriage then is declared valid.
Therefore, William Gatchalian following the citizenship of his father is a Filipino citizen.
Where it held that, considering that in case of doubt, all presumptions favor the solidarity of the family
and every intendment of the law or facts leans toward the validity of marriage, he who asserts that the
marriage is not valid under our law bears the burden of proof to present the foreign law. This case,
therefore, shifted the burden of proof from the one who asserts the validity of a marriage to the one
assailing the validity of the marriage. Pertinently, the Supreme Court stated, to wit: In Miciano v. Brimo (50
Phil. 867 [1924]; Lim and Lim v. Collector of Customs, 36 Phil. 472; Yam Ka Lim v. Collector of Customs,
30 Phil. 46 [1915]), this Court held that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, foreign laws on a
particular subject are presumed to be the same as those of the Philippines. In the case at bar, there being

no proof of Chinese law relating to marriage, there arises a presumption that it is the same as Philippine
law.
The lack of proof of Chinese law on the matter cannot be blamed on Santiago Gatchalian, much more on
respondent William Gatchalian who was then a twelve year-old minor. That fact is, as records indicate,
Santiago was not pressed by the Citizenship Investigation Board to prove the laws of China relating to
marriage, having been content with the testimony of Santiago that the Marriage Certificate was lost or
destroyed during the Japanese occupation of China. Neither was Francisco Gatchalians testimony
subjected to the same scrutiny by the Board of Special Inquiry. Nevertheless, the testimonies of Santiago
Gatchalian and Francisco Gatchalian before the Philippine consular and immigration authorities regarding
their marriages, birth and relationship to each other are not self-serving but are admissible in evidence as
statements or declarations regarding family relation, reputation or tradition in matters of pedigree (Sec.
34, Rule 130). Furthermore, this salutary rule of evidence finds support in substantive law. Thus, Art. 267
of the Civil Code provides: Art. 267. In the absence of a record of birth, authentic document, final
judgment or possession of status, legitimate filiation may be proved by any other means allowed by the
Rules of Court and special laws (See also Art. 172 of the Family Code).
Consequently, the testimonies/affidavits of Santiago Gatchalian and Francisco Gatchalian aforementioned
are not self-serving but are competent proofs of filiation (Art. 172[2], Family Code).
Philippine law, following the lex loci celebrationis, adheres to the rule that a marriage formally valid where
celebrated is valid everywhere. Referring to marriages contracted abroad, Art. 71 of the Civil Code (now
Art. 26 of the Family Code) provides that all marriages performed outside of the Philippines in
accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were performed and valid there as such, shall
also be valid in this country And any doubt as to the validity of the matrimonial unity and the extent as
to how far the validity of such marriage may be extended to the consequences of the coverture is
answered by Art. 220 of the Civil Code in this manner: In case of doubt, all presumptions favor the
solidarity of the family. Thus, every intendment of law or facts leans toward the validity of marriage, the
indissolubility of marriage bonds, the legitimacy of children, the community of property during the
marriage, the authority of parents over their children, and the validity of defense for any member of the
family in case of unlawful aggression. Bearing in mind the processual presumption enunciated in
Miciano and other cases, he who asserts that the marriage is not valid under our law bears the burden of
proof to present the foreign law.
Interestingly and with reasons, Justice Florentino Feliciano strongly registered his dissent in the
aforequoted ruling by stating that the rule that a foreign marriage valid in accordance with the law of the
place where it was performed shall be valid also in the Philippines, cannot begin to operate until after the
marriage performed abroad and its compliance with the requirements for validity under the marriage law
of the place where performed, are first shown as factual matters (Ibid., pages 913-914).