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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 103047 September 2, 1994
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS AND ANGELINA M. CASTRO, respondents.
Parungao, Abesamis, Eleazar & Pulgar Law Offices for private respondent.

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

PUNO, J.:
The case at bench originated from a petition filed by private respondent Angelina M.
Castro in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City seeking a judicial declaration of
nullity of her marriage to Edwin F. Cardenas. 1 As ground therefor, Castro claims
that no marriage license was ever issued to them prior to the solemnization of their
marriage.
Despite notice, defendant Edwin F. Cardenas failed to file his answer. Consequently,
he was declared in default. Trial proceeded in his absence.
The controlling facts are undisputed:
On June 24, 1970, Angelina M. Castro and Edwin F. Cardenas were married in a
civil ceremony performed by Judge Pablo M. Malvar, City Court Judge of Pasay
City. The marriage was celebrated without the knowledge of Castro's parents.
Defendant Cardenas personally attended to the processing of the documents required
for the celebration of the marriage, including the procurement of the marriage,
license. In fact, the marriage contract itself states that marriage license no. 3196182
was issued in the name of the contracting parties on June 24, 1970 in Pasig, Metro
Manila.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:


This is to certify that the names EDWIN F. CARDENAS and
ANGELINA M. CASTRO who were allegedly married in the
Pasay City Court on June 21, 1970 under an alleged
(s)upportive marriage license
no. 3196182 allegedly issued in the municipality on June 20,
1970 cannot be located as said license no. 3196182 does not
appear from our records.
Issued upon request of Mr. Ed Atanacio.
(Sgd) CENONA D. QUINTOS
Senior Civil Registry Officer
Castro testified that she did not go to the civil registrar of Pasig on or before June
24, 1970 in order to apply for a license. Neither did she sign any application
therefor. She affixed her signature only on the marriage contract on June 24, 1970 in
Pasay City.

The trial court denied the petition. 2 It held that the above certification was
inadequate to establish the alleged non-issuance of a marriage license prior to the
celebration of the marriage between the parties. It ruled that the "inability of the
certifying official to locate the marriage license is not conclusive to show that there
was no marriage license issued."
Unsatisfied with the decision, Castro appealed to respondent appellate court. She
insisted that the certification from the local civil registrar sufficiently established the
absence of a marriage license.
As stated earlier, respondent appellate court reversed the Decision of the trial
court. 3 It declared the marriage between the contracting parties null and void and
directed the Civil Registrar of Pasig to cancel the subject marriage contract.

We affirm the impugned Decision.


At the time the subject marriage was solemnized on June 24, 1970, the law
governing marital relations was the New Civil Code. The law 4 provides that no
marriage shall be solemnized without a marriage license first issued by a local civil
registrar. Being one of the essential requisites of a valid marriage, absence of a
license would render the marriage voidab initio. 5
Petitioner posits that the certification of the local civil registrar of due search and
inability to find a record or entry to the effect that marriage license no. 3196182 was
issued to the parties is not adequate to prove its non-issuance.
We hold otherwise. The presentation of such certification in court is sanctioned by
Section 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, viz.:

Hence this petition for review on certiorari.


Petitioner Republic of the Philippines urges that respondent appellate court erred
when it ruled that the certification issued by the civil registrar that marriage license
no. 3196182 was not in their record adequately proved that no such license was ever
issued. Petitioner also faults the respondent court for relying on the self-serving and
uncorroborated testimony of private respondent Castro that she had no part in the
procurement of the subject marriage license. Petitioner thus insists that the
certification and the uncorroborated testimony of private respondent are insufficient
to overthrow the legal presumption regarding the validity of a marriage.
Petitioner also points that in declaring the marriage between the parties as null and
void, respondent appellate court disregarded the presumption that the solemnizing
officer, Judge Pablo M. Malvar, regularly performed his duties when he attested in
the marriage contract that marriage license no. 3196182 was duly presented to him
before the solemnization of the subject marriage.
The issues, being interrelated, shall be discussed jointly.
The core issue presented by the case at bench is whether or not the documentary and
testimonial evidence presented by private respondent are sufficient to establish that
no marriage license was issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig prior to the
celebration of the marriage of private respondent to Edwin F. Cardenas.

Sec. 29. Proof of lack of record. A written statement signed


by an officer having custody of an official record or by his
deputy, that after diligent search, no record or entry of a
specified tenor is found to exist in the records of his office,
accompanied by a certificate as above provided, is admissible as
evidence that the records of his office contain no such record or
entry.
The above Rule authorized the custodian of documents to certify that despite
diligent search, a particular document does not exist in his office or that a particular
entry of a specified tenor was not to be found in a register. As custodians of public
documents, civil registrars are public officers charged with the duty, inter alia, of
maintaining a register book where they are required to enter all applications for
marriage licenses, including the names of the applicants, the date the marriage
license was issued and such other relevant data. 6
The certification of "due search and inability to find" issued by the civil registrar of
Pasig enjoys probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a
record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage license. Unaccompanied by
any circumstance of suspicion and pursuant to Section 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of
Court, a certificate of "due search and inability to find" sufficiently proved that his
office did not issue marriage license no. 3196182 to the contracting parties.

The fact that private respondent Castro offered only her testimony in support of her
petition is, in itself, not a ground to deny her petition. The failure to offer any other
witness to corroborate her testimony is mainly due to the peculiar circumstances of
the case. It will be remembered that the subject marriage was a civil ceremony
performed by a judge of a city court. The subject marriage is one of those commonly
known as a "secret marriage" a legally non-existent phrase but ordinarily used to
refer to a civil marriage celebrated without the knowledge of the relatives and/or
friends of either or both of the contracting parties. The records show that the
marriage between Castro and Cardenas was initially unknown to the parents of the
former.
Surely, the fact that only private respondent Castro testified during the trial cannot
be held against her. Her husband, Edwin F. Cardenas, was duly served with notice of
the proceedings and a copy of the petition. Despite receipt thereof, he chose to
ignore the same. For failure to answer, he was properly declared in default. Private
respondent cannot be faulted for her husband's lack of interest to participate in the
proceedings. There was absolutely no evidence on record to show that there was
collusion between private respondent and her husband Cardenas.
It is noteworthy to mention that the finding of the appellate court that the marriage
between the contracting parties is null and void for lack of a marriage license does
not discount the fact that indeed, a spurious marriage license, purporting to be issued
by the civil registrar of Pasig, may have been presented by Cardenas to the
solemnizing officer.
In fine, we hold that, under the circumstances of the case, the documentary and
testimonial evidence presented by private respondent Castro sufficiently established
the absence of the subject marriage license.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED there being no showing of any
reversible error committed by respondent appellate court.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

Rederick A. Recio, a Filipino, was married to Editha Samson, an Australian citizen,


in Malabon, Rizal, on March 1, 1987.4 They lived together as husband and wife in
Australia. On May 18, 1989,5 a decree of divorce, purportedly dissolving the
marriage, was issued by an Australian family court.

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 138322

October 2, 2001

GRACE J. GARCIA, a.k.a. GRACE J. GARCIA-RECIO, petitioner,


vs.
REDERICK A. RECIO, respondents.
PANGANIBAN, J.:
A divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be recognized in our jurisdiction,
provided such decree is valid according to the national law of the foreigner.
However, the divorce decree and the governing personal law of the alien spouse who
obtained the divorce must be proven. Our courts do not take judicial notice of
foreign laws and judgment; hence, like any other facts, both the divorce decree and
the national law of the alien must be alleged and proven according to our law on
evidence.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to
nullify the January 7, 1999 Decision1 and the March 24, 1999 Order2 of the Regional
Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 28, in Civil Case No. 3026-AF. The assailed
Decision disposed as follows:
"WHEREFORE, this Court declares the marriage between Grace J. Garcia
and Rederick A. Recio solemnized on January 12, 1994 at Cabanatuan
City as dissolved and both parties can now remarry under existing and
applicable laws to any and/or both parties."3
The assailed Order denied reconsideration of the above-quoted Decision.
The Facts

On June 26, 1992, respondent became an Australian citizen, as shown by a


"Certificate of Australian Citizenship" issued by the Australian
government.6 Petitioner a Filipina and respondent were married on January 12,
1994 in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Cabanatuan City.7 In
their application for a marriage license, respondent was declared as "single" and
"Filipino."8
Starting October 22, 1995, petitioner and respondent lived separately without prior
judicial dissolution of their marriage. While the two were still in Australia, their
conjugal assets were divided on May 16, 1996, in accordance with their Statutory
Declarations secured in Australia.9
On March 3, 1998, petitioner filed a Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of
Marriage10 in the court a quo, on the ground of bigamy respondent allegedly had a
prior subsisting marriage at the time he married her on January 12, 1994. She
claimed that she learned of respondent's marriage to Editha Samson only in
November, 1997.
In his Answer, respondent averred that, as far back as 1993, he had revealed to
petitioner his prior marriage andits subsequent dissolution.11 He contended that his
first marriage to an Australian citizen had been validly dissolved by a divorce decree
obtained in Australian in 1989;12 thus, he was legally capacitated to marry petitioner
in 1994.1wphi1.nt
On July 7, 1998 or about five years after the couple's wedding and while the suit
for the declaration of nullity was pending respondent was able to secure a divorce
decree from a family court in Sydney, Australia because the "marriage ha[d]
irretrievably broken down."13
Respondent prayed in his Answer that the Complained be dismissed on the ground
that it stated no cause of action.14 The Office of the Solicitor General agreed with
respondent.15 The court marked and admitted the documentary evidence of both

parties.16 After they submitted their respective memoranda, the case was submitted
for resolution.17
Thereafter, the trial court rendered the assailed Decision and Order.

"4
The trial court patently and grievously erred in disregarding Arts. 11, 13,
21, 35, 40, 52 and 53 of the Family Code as the applicable provisions in
this case.

Ruling of the Trial Court


"5
The trial court declared the marriage dissolved on the ground that the divorce issued
in Australia was valid and recognized in the Philippines. It deemed the marriage
ended, but not on the basis of any defect in an essential element of the marriage; that
is, respondent's alleged lack of legal capacity to remarry. Rather, it based its
Decision on the divorce decree obtained by respondent. The Australian divorce had
ended the marriage; thus, there was no more martial union to nullify or annual.
Hence, this Petition.18
Issues
Petitioner submits the following issues for our consideration:
"I
The trial court gravely erred in finding that the divorce decree obtained in
Australia by the respondent ipso facto terminated his first marriage to
Editha Samson thereby capacitating him to contract a second marriage
with the petitioner.

The trial court gravely erred in pronouncing that the divorce gravely erred
in pronouncing that the divorce decree obtained by the respondent in
Australia ipso facto capacitated the parties to remarry, without first
securing a recognition of the judgment granting the divorce decree before
our courts."19
The Petition raises five issues, but for purposes of this Decision, we shall
concentrate on two pivotal ones: (1) whether the divorce between respondent and
Editha Samson was proven, and (2) whether respondent was proven to be legally
capacitated to marry petitioner. Because of our ruling on these two, there is no more
necessity to take up the rest.
The Court's Ruling
The Petition is partly meritorious.
First Issue:
Proving the Divorce Between Respondent and Editha Samson

"2
The failure of the respondent, who is now a naturalized Australian, to
present a certificate of legal capacity to marry constitutes absence of a
substantial requisite voiding the petitioner' marriage to the respondent.
"3
The trial court seriously erred in the application of Art. 26 of the Family
Code in this case.

Petitioner assails the trial court's recognition of the divorce between respondent and
Editha Samson. Citing Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,20 petitioner argues that the
divorce decree, like any other foreign judgment, may be given recognition in this
jurisdiction only upon proof of the existence of (1) the foreign law allowing absolute
divorce and (2) the alleged divorce decree itself. She adds that respondent miserably
failed to establish these elements.
Petitioner adds that, based on the first paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,
marriages solemnized abroad are governed by the law of the place where they were

celebrated (the lex loci celebrationist). In effect, the Code requires the presentation
of the foreign law to show the conformity of the marriage in question to the legal
requirements of the place where the marriage was performed.
At the outset, we lay the following basic legal principles as the take-off points for
our discussion. Philippine law does not provide for absolute divorce; hence, our
courts cannot grant it.21 A marriage between two Filipinos cannot be dissolved even
by a divorce obtained abroad, because of Articles 1522 and 1723 of the Civil
Code.24 In mixed marriages involving a Filipino and a foreigner, Article 26 25 of the
Family Code allows the former to contract a subsequent marriage in case the divorce
is "validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to
remarry."26 A divorce obtained abroad by a couple, who are both aliens, may be
recognized in the Philippines, provided it is consistent with their respective national
laws.27
A comparison between marriage and divorce, as far as pleading and proof are
concerned, can be made. Van Dorn v. Romillo Jr. decrees that "aliens may obtain
divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are
valid according to their national law."28 Therefore, before a foreign divorce decree
can be recognized by our courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a
fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. 29 Presentation
solely of the divorce decree is insufficient.
Divorce as a Question of Fact
Petitioner insists that before a divorce decree can be admitted in evidence, it must
first comply with the registration requirements under Articles 11, 13 and 52 of the
Family Code. These articles read as follows:
"ART. 11. Where a marriage license is required, each of the contracting
parties shall file separately a sworn application for such license with the
proper local civil registrar which shall specify the following:
xxx

xxx

xxx

"(5) If previously married, how, when and where the previous marriage
was dissolved or annulled;

xxx

xxx

xxx

"ART. 13. In case either of the contracting parties has been previously
married, the applicant shall be required to furnish, instead of the birth of
baptismal certificate required in the last preceding article, the death
certificate of the deceased spouse or the judicial decree of annulment or
declaration of nullity of his or her previous marriage. x x x.
"ART. 52. The judgment of annulment or of absolute nullity of the
marriage, the partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses,
and the delivery of the children's presumptive legitimes shall be recorded
in the appropriate civil registry and registries of property; otherwise, the
same shall not affect their persons."
Respondent, on the other hand, argues that the Australian divorce decree is a public
document a written official act of an Australian family court. Therefore, it requires
no further proof of its authenticity and due execution.
Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before a foreign judgment is given
presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be presented and admitted in
evidence.30 A divorce obtained abroad is proven by the divorce decree itself. Indeed
the best evidence of a judgment is the judgment itself. 31 The decree purports to be a
written act or record of an act of an officially body or tribunal of a foreign country. 32
Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other hand, a writing or document
may be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an
official publication or (2) a copy thereof attested 33 by the officer having legal
custody of the document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy must
be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or consular
officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign country in which the
record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office. 34
The divorce decree between respondent and Editha Samson appears to be an
authentic one issued by an Australian family court. 35 However, appearance is not
sufficient; compliance with the aforemetioned rules on evidence must be
demonstrated.

Fortunately for respondent's cause, when the divorce decree of May 18, 1989 was
submitted in evidence, counsel for petitioner objected, not to its admissibility, but
only to the fact that it had not been registered in the Local Civil Registry of
Cabanatuan City.36 The trial court ruled that it was admissible, subject to petitioner's
qualification.37Hence, it was admitted in evidence and accorded weight by the judge.
Indeed, petitioner's failure to object properly rendered the divorce decree admissible
as a written act of the Family Court of Sydney, Australia. 38

reason of their judicial function.44 The power of judicial notice must be exercised
with caution, and every reasonable doubt upon the subject should be resolved in the
negative.

Compliance with the quoted articles (11, 13 and 52) of the Family Code is not
necessary; respondent was no longer bound by Philippine personal laws after he
acquired Australian citizenship in 1992.39 Naturalization is the legal act of adopting
an alien and clothing him with the political and civil rights belonging to a
citizen.40 Naturalized citizens, freed from the protective cloak of their former states,
don the attires of their adoptive countries. By becoming an Australian, respondent
severed his allegiance to the Philippines and the vinculum juris that had tied him to
Philippine personal laws.

Petitioner contends that, in view of the insufficient proof of the divorce, respondent
was legally incapacitated to marry her in 1994.

Burden of Proving Australian Law

Respondent's contention is untenable. In its strict legal sense, divorce means the
legal dissolution of a lawful union for a cause arising after marriage. But divorces
are of different types. The two basic ones are (1) absolute divorce or a vinculo
matrimonii and (2) limited divorce or a mensa et thoro. The first kind terminates the
marriage, while the second suspends it and leaves the bond in full force. 45 There is
no showing in the case at bar which type of divorce was procured by respondent.

Respondent contends that the burden to prove Australian divorce law falls upon
petitioner, because she is the party challenging the validity of a foreign judgment.
He contends that petitioner was satisfied with the original of the divorce decree and
was cognizant of the marital laws of Australia, because she had lived and worked in
that country for quite a long time. Besides, the Australian divorce law is allegedly
known by Philippine courts: thus, judges may take judicial notice of foreign laws in
the exercise of sound discretion.
We are not persuaded. The burden of proof lies with "the party who alleges the
existence of a fact or thing necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action." 41 In
civil cases, plaintiffs have the burden of proving the material allegations of the
complaint when those are denied by the answer; and defendants have the burden of
proving the material allegations in their answer when they introduce new
matters.42 Since the divorce was a defense raised by respondent, the burden of
proving the pertinent Australian law validating it falls squarely upon him.
It is well-settled in our jurisdiction that our courts cannot take judicial notice of
foreign laws.43 Like any other facts, they must be alleged and proved. Australian
marital laws are not among those matters that judges are supposed to know by

Second Issue:
Respondent's Legal Capacity to Remarry

Hence, she concludes that their marriage was void ab initio.


Respondent replies that the Australian divorce decree, which was validly admitted in
evidence, adequately established his legal capacity to marry under Australian law.

Respondent presented a decree nisi or an interlocutory decree a conditional or


provisional judgment of divorce. It is in effect the same as a separation from bed and
board, although an absolute divorce may follow after the lapse of the prescribed
period during which no reconciliation is effected. 46
Even after the divorce becomes absolute, the court may under some foreign statutes
and practices, still restrict remarriage. Under some other jurisdictions, remarriage
may be limited by statute; thus, the guilty party in a divorce which was granted on
the ground of adultery may be prohibited from remarrying again. The court may
allow a remarriage only after proof of good behavior.47
On its face, the herein Australian divorce decree contains a restriction that reads:

"1. A party to a marriage who marries again before this decree becomes
absolute (unless the other party has died) commits the offence of
bigamy."48
This quotation bolsters our contention that the divorce obtained by respondent may
have been restricted. It did not absolutely establish his legal capacity to remarry
according to his national law. Hence, we find no basis for the ruling of the trial
court, which erroneously assumed that the Australian divorce ipso facto restored
respondent's capacity to remarry despite the paucity of evidence on this matter.
We also reject the claim of respondent that the divorce decree raises a disputable
presumption or presumptive evidence as to his civil status based on Section 48, Rule
3949 of the Rules of Court, for the simple reason that no proof has been presented on
the legal effects of the divorce decree obtained under Australian laws.
Significance of the Certificate of Legal Capacity
Petitioner argues that the certificate of legal capacity required by Article 21 of the
Family Code was not submitted together with the application for a marriage license.
According to her, its absence is proof that respondent did not have legal capacity to
remarry.
We clarify. To repeat, the legal capacity to contract marriage is determined by the
national law of the party concerned. The certificate mentioned in Article 21 of the
Family Code would have been sufficient to establish the legal capacity of
respondent, had he duly presented it in court. A duly authenticated and admitted
certificate is prima facie evidence of legal capacity to marry on the part of the alien
applicant for a marriage license.50
As it is, however, there is absolutely no evidence that proves respondent's legal
capacity to marry petitioner. A review of the records before this Court shows that
only the following exhibits were presented before the lower court: (1) for petitioner:
(a) Exhibit "A" Complaint;51 (b) Exhibit "B" Certificate of Marriage Between
Rederick A. Recto (Filipino-Australian) and Grace J. Garcia (Filipino) on January
12, 1994 in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija;52(c) Exhibit "C" Certificate of Marriage
Between Rederick A. Recio (Filipino) and Editha D. Samson (Australian) on March
1, 1987 in Malabon, Metro Manila;53 (d) Exhibit "D" Office of the City Registrar
of Cabanatuan City Certification that no information of annulment between

Rederick A. Recto and Editha D. Samson was in its records;54 and (e) Exhibit "E"
Certificate of Australian Citizenship of Rederick A. Recto; 55 (2) for respondent:
(Exhibit "1" Amended Answer;56 (b) Exhibit "S" Family Law Act 1975 Decree
Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in the Family Court of Australia;57 (c) Exhibit "3"
Certificate of Australian Citizenship of Rederick A. Recto; 58 (d) Exhibit "4"
Decree Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in the Family Court of Australia
Certificate;59 and Exhibit "5" Statutory Declaration of the Legal Separation
Between Rederick A. Recto and Grace J. Garcia Recio since October 22, 1995. 60
Based on the above records, we cannot conclude that respondent, who was then a
naturalized Australian citizen, was legally capacitated to marry petitioner on January
12, 1994. We agree with petitioner's contention that the court a quo erred in finding
that the divorce decree ipso facto clothed respondent with the legal capacity to
remarry without requiring him to adduce sufficient evidence to show the Australian
personal law governing his status; or at the very least, to prove his legal capacity to
contract the second marriage.
Neither can we grant petitioner's prayer to declare her marriage to respondent null
and void on the ground of bigamy. After all, it may turn out that under Australian
law, he was really capacitated to marry petitioner as a direct result of the divorce
decree. Hence, we believe that the most judicious course is to remand this case to
the trial court to receive evidence, if any, which show petitioner's legal capacity to
marry petitioner. Failing in that, then the court a quo may declare a nullity of the
parties' marriage on the ground of bigamy, there being already in evidence two
existing marriage certificates, which were both obtained in the Philippines, one in
Malabon, Metro Manila dated March 1, 1987 and the other, in Cabanatuan City
dated January 12, 1994.
WHEREFORE, in the interest of orderly procedure and substantial justice,
we REMAND the case to the court a quo for the purpose of receiving evidence
which conclusively show respondent's legal capacity to marry petitioner; and failing
in that, of declaring the parties' marriage void on the ground of bigamy, as above
discussed. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, Puno, Vitug, and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

Nevada Court wherein respondent had acknowledged that he and petitioner had "no
community property" as of June 11, 1982. The Court below denied the Motion to
Dismiss in the mentioned case on the ground that the property involved is located in
the Philippines so that the Divorce Decree has no bearing in the case. The denial is
now the subject of this certiorari proceeding.

ALICE REYES VAN DORN, petitioner,


vs.
HON. MANUEL V. ROMILLO, JR., as Presiding Judge of Branch CX,
Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Region Pasay City and RICHARD
UPTON respondents.

Generally, the denial of a Motion to Dismiss in a civil case is interlocutory and is not
subject to appeal. certiorari and Prohibition are neither the remedies to question the
propriety of an interlocutory order of the trial Court. However, when a grave abuse
of discretion was patently committed, or the lower Court acted capriciously and
whimsically, then it devolves upon this Court in a certiorari proceeding to exercise
its supervisory authority and to correct the error committed which, in such a case, is
equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. 1 Prohibition would then lie since it would be
useless and a waste of time to go ahead with the proceedings. 2 Weconsider the
petition filed in this case within the exception, and we have given it due course.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:\

For resolution is the effect of the foreign divorce on the parties and their alleged
conjugal property in the Philippines.

G.R. No. L-68470 October 8, 1985

In this Petition for certiorari and Prohibition, petitioner Alice Reyes Van Dorn seeks
to set aside the Orders, dated September 15, 1983 and August 3, 1984, in Civil Case
No. 1075-P, issued by respondent Judge, which denied her Motion to Dismiss said
case, and her Motion for Reconsideration of the Dismissal Order, respectively.
The basic background facts are that petitioner is a citizen of the Philippines while
private respondent is a citizen of the United States; that they were married in
Hongkong in 1972; that, after the marriage, they established their residence in the
Philippines; that they begot two children born on April 4, 1973 and December 18,
1975, respectively; that the parties were divorced in Nevada, United States, in 1982;
and that petitioner has re-married also in Nevada, this time to Theodore Van Dorn.
Dated June 8, 1983, private respondent filed suit against petitioner in Civil Case No.
1075-P of the Regional Trial Court, Branch CXV, in Pasay City, stating that
petitioner's business in Ermita, Manila, (the Galleon Shop, for short), is conjugal
property of the parties, and asking that petitioner be ordered to render an accounting
of that business, and that private respondent be declared with right to manage the
conjugal property. Petitioner moved to dismiss the case on the ground that the cause
of action is barred by previous judgment in the divorce proceedings before the

Petitioner contends that respondent is estopped from laying claim on the alleged
conjugal property because of the representation he made in the divorce proceedings
before the American Court that they had no community of property; that the Galleon
Shop was not established through conjugal funds, and that respondent's claim is
barred by prior judgment.
For his part, respondent avers that the Divorce Decree issued by the Nevada Court
cannot prevail over the prohibitive laws of the Philippines and its declared national
policy; that the acts and declaration of a foreign Court cannot, especially if the same
is contrary to public policy, divest Philippine Courts of jurisdiction to entertain
matters within its jurisdiction.
For the resolution of this case, it is not necessary to determine whether the property
relations between petitioner and private respondent, after their marriage, were upon
absolute or relative community property, upon complete separation of property, or
upon any other regime. The pivotal fact in this case is the Nevada divorce of the
parties.

The Nevada District Court, which decreed the divorce, had obtained jurisdiction
over petitioner who appeared in person before the Court during the trial of the case.
It also obtained jurisdiction over private respondent who, giving his address as No.
381 Bush Street, San Francisco, California, authorized his attorneys in the divorce
case, Karp & Gradt Ltd., to agree to the divorce on the ground of incompatibility in
the understanding that there were neither community property nor community
obligations. 3 As explicitly stated in the Power of Attorney he executed in favor of
the law firm of KARP & GRAD LTD., 336 W. Liberty, Reno, Nevada, to represent
him in the divorce proceedings:

the same being considered contrary to our concept of public police and morality.
However, aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the
Philippines, provided they are valid according to their national law. 6 In this case, the
divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the marriage from the standards
of American law, under which divorce dissolves the marriage. As stated by
the Federal Supreme Court of the United States in Atherton vs. Atherton, 45 L. Ed.
794, 799:
The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce from the bond of
matrimony by a court of competent jurisdiction are to change the
existing status or domestic relation of husband and wife, and to
free them both from the bond. The marriage tie when thus
severed as to one party, ceases to bind either. A husband without
a wife, or a wife without a husband, is unknown to the law.
When the law provides, in the nature of a penalty. that the guilty
party shall not marry again, that party, as well as the other, is
still absolutely freed from the bond of the former marriage.

xxx xxx xxx


You are hereby authorized to accept service of Summons, to file
an Answer, appear on my behalf and do an things necessary and
proper to represent me, without further contesting, subject to the
following:
1. That my spouse seeks a divorce on the ground of
incompatibility.
2. That there is no community of property to be adjudicated by
the Court.
3. 'I'hat there are no community obligations to be adjudicated by
the court.
xxx xxx xxx

There can be no question as to the validity of that Nevada divorce in any of the
States of the United States. The decree is binding on private respondent as an
American citizen. For instance, private respondent cannot sue petitioner, as her
husband, in any State of the Union. What he is contending in this case is that the
divorce is not valid and binding in this jurisdiction, the same being contrary to local
law and public policy.
It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil
Code, 5 only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against absolute divorces

Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the husband of
petitioner. He would have no standing to sue in the case below as petitioner's
husband entitled to exercise control over conjugal assets. As he is bound by the
Decision of his own country's Court, which validly exercised jurisdiction over him,
and whose decision he does not repudiate, he is estopped by his own representation
before said Court from asserting his right over the alleged conjugal property.
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws, petitioner has to be
considered still married to private respondent and still subject to a wife's obligations
under Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil Code cannot be just. Petitioner should not be
obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support to
private respondent. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs with
possible rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated against in her
own country if the ends of justice are to be served.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is granted, and respondent Judge is hereby ordered to
dismiss the Complaint filed in Civil Case No. 1075-P of his Court.
Without costs.

SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Plana, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente and Patajo, JJ.,
concur.

FIRST DIVISION
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,

G.R. No. 154380

Petitioner,

Given a valid marriage between two Filipino citizens, where one party is later
naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a valid divorce decree capacitating him
or her to remarry, can the Filipino spouse likewise remarry under Philippine law?
Present:

Before us is a case of first impression that behooves the Court to make a definite
ruling on this apparently novel question, presented as a pure question of law.

- versus -

Davide, Jr., C .J.,

In this petition for review, the Solicitor General assails the Decision [1] dated May

(Chairman),

15, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23 and
its Resolution [2] dated July 4, 2002 denying the motion for reconsideration. The

Quisumbing,

court a quo had declared that herein respondent Cipriano Orbecido III is capacitated

Ynares-Santiago,

to remarry. The fallo of the impugned Decision reads:

Carpio, and
Azcuna, JJ.

IT IS SO ORDERED. [3]

CIPRIANO ORBECIDO III,


Respondent.

WHEREFORE, by virtue of the provision of the second


paragraph of Art. 26 of the Family Code and by reason of the
divorce decree obtained against him by his American wife, the
petitioner is given the capacity to remarry under the Philippine
Law.

Promulgated:
The factual antecedents, as narrated by the trial court, are as follows.
October 5, 2005
On May 24, 1981, Cipriano Orbecido III married Lady Myros M. Villanueva at the

x--------------------------------------------------x

United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Lam-an, Ozamis City. 'Their marriage

was blessed with a son and a daughter, Kristoffer Simbortriz V. Orbecido and Lady

respondent's situation. The OSG posits that this is a matter of legislation and not of

Kimberly V. Orbecido.

judicial determination. [6]

In 1986, Cipriano's wife left for the United States bringing along their son Kristoffer.

For his part, respondent admits that Article 26 is not directly applicable to his case

A few years later, Cipriano discovered that his wife had been naturalized as an

but insists that when his naturalized alien wife obtained a divorce decree which

American citizen.

capacitated her to remarry, he is likewise capacitated by operation of law pursuant to


Section 12, Article II of the Constitution. [7]

Sometime in 2000, Cipriano learned from his son that his wife had obtained a
divorce decree and then married a certain Innocent Stanley. She, Stanley and her

At the outset, we note that the petition for authority to remarry filed before the trial

child by him currently live at 5566 A. Walnut Grove Avenue, San Gabriel,

court actually constituted a petition for declaratory relief. In this connection, Section

California.

1, Rule 63 of the Rules of Court provides:

Cipriano thereafter filed with the trial court a petition for authority to remarry
invoking Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code. No opposition was filed.
Finding merit in the petition, the court granted the same. The Republic, herein
petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), sought reconsideration
but it was denied.
In this petition, the OSG raises a pure question of law:
WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT CAN REMARRY
UNDER ARTICLE 26 OF THE FAMILY CODE [4]

RULE 63
DECLARATORY RELIEF AND SIMILAR REMEDIES
Section 1. Who may file petitionAny person interested under a
deed, will, contract or other written instrument, or whose rights
are affected by a statute, executive order or regulation,
ordinance, or other governmental regulation may, before breach
or violation thereof, bring an action in the appropriate Regional
Trial Court to determine any question of construction or validity
arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties, thereunder.
...

The requisites of a petition for declaratory relief are: (1) there must be a justiciable
The OSG contends that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code is not

controversy; (2) the controversy must be between persons whose interests are

applicable to the instant case because it only applies to a valid mixed marriage; that

adverse; (3) that the party seeking the relief has a legal interest in the controversy;

is, a marriage celebrated between a Filipino citizen and an alien. The proper remedy,

and (4) that the issue is ripe for judicial determination. [8]

according to the OSG, is to file a petition for annulment or for legal


separation. [5] Furthermore, the OSG argues there is no law that governs

This case concerns the applicability of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 to a marriage


between two Filipino citizens where one later acquired alien citizenship, obtained a

divorce decree, and remarried while in the U.S.A. The interests of the parties are
also adverse, as petitioner representing the State asserts its duty to protect the
institution of marriage while respondent, a private citizen, insists on a declaration of
his capacity to remarry. Respondent, praying for relief, has legal interest in the
controversy. The issue raised is also ripe for judicial determination inasmuch as
when respondent remarries, litigation ensues and puts into question the validity of
his second marriage.

ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in


accordance with the laws in force in the country where they
were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in
this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4),
(5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is
validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained
abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry,
the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under
Philippine law . (Emphasis supplied)

Coming now to the substantive issue, does Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family
Code apply to the case of respondent? Necessarily, we must dwell on how this

On its face, the foregoing provision does not appear to govern the situation

provision had come about in the first place, and what was the intent of the legislators

presented by the case at hand. It seems to apply only to cases where at the time of

in its enactment?

the celebration of the marriage, the parties are a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The
instant case is one where at the time the marriage was solemnized, the parties were
two Filipino citizens, but later on, the wife was naturalized as an American citizen
Brief Historical Background

and subsequently obtained a divorce granting her capacity to remarry, and indeed
she remarried an American citizen while residing in the U.S.A.

On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law Executive Order
No. 209, otherwise known as the 'Family Code, which took effect on August 3,

Noteworthy, in the Report of the Public Hearings [9] on the Family Code, the

1988. Article 26 thereof states:

Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) registered the following

All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance


with the laws in force in the country where they were
solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this
country, except those prohibited under Articles 35, 37, and 38.

On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family Code, Executive
Order No. 227 was likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26, 36, and 39 of the
Family Code. A second paragraph was added to Article 26. As so amended, it now
provides:

objections to Paragraph 2 of Article 26:


1.

The rule is discriminatory. It discriminates against


those whose spouses are Filipinos who divorce them
abroad. These spouses who are divorced will not be
able to re-marry, while the spouses of foreigners who
validly divorce them abroad can.

2.

This is the beginning of the recognition of the


validity of divorce even for Filipino citizens. For those
whose foreign spouses validly divorce them abroad
will also be considered to be validly divorced here and
can re-marry. We propose that this be deleted and
made into law only after more widespread
consultation. (Emphasis supplied.)

Legislative Intent

obtains a divorce decree. The Filipino spouse should likewise be allowed to remarry
as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the solemnization of the

Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations showed that the intent

marriage. To rule otherwise would be to sanction absurdity and injustice. Where the

of Paragraph 2 of Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a member of

interpretation of a statute according to its exact and literal import would lead to

the Civil Code Revision Committee, is to avoid the absurd situation where the

mischievous results or contravene the clear purpose of the legislature, it should be

Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce,

construed according to its spirit and reason, disregarding as far as necessary the

is no longer married to the Filipino spouse.

letter of the law. A statute may therefore be extended to cases not within the literal
meaning of its terms, so long as they come within its spirit or intent. [12]

Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the 1985 case of Van
Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.[10] The Van Dorn case involved a marriage between a Filipino

If we are to give meaning to the legislative intent to avoid the absurd situation where

citizen and a foreigner. The Court held therein that a divorce decree validly obtained

the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a

by the alien spouse is valid in the Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino spouse

divorce is no longer married to the Filipino spouse, then the instant case must be

is capacitated to remarry under Philippine law.

deemed as coming within the contemplation of Paragraph 2 of Article 26.

Does the same principle apply to a case where at the time of the celebration of the

In view of the foregoing, we state the twin elements for the application of Paragraph

marriage, the parties were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them obtains a

2 of Article 26 as follows:

foreign citizenship by naturalization?


1.

There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated


between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and

2.

A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien


spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.

The jurisprudential answer lies latent in the 1998 case of Quita v. Court of
Appeals. [11] In Quita, the parties were, as in this case, Filipino citizens when they
got married. The wife became a naturalized American citizen in 1954 and obtained a
divorce in the same year. The Court therein hinted, by way of obiter dictum, that a
Filipino divorced by his naturalized foreign spouse is no longer married under

The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration of

Philippine law and can thus remarry.

the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the

Thus, taking into consideration the legislative intent and applying the rule of reason,

alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry.

we hold that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 should be interpreted to include cases

In this case, when Cipriano's wife was naturalized as an American citizen, there was

involving parties who, at the time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino

still a valid marriage that has been celebrated between her and Cipriano. As fate

citizens, but later on, one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and

would have it, the naturalized alien wife subsequently obtained a valid divorce

capacitating her to remarry. Clearly, the twin requisites for the application of

Nevertheless, we are unanimous in our holding that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the

Paragraph 2 of Article 26 are both present in this case. Thus Cipriano, the 'divorced

Family Code (E.O. No. 209, as amended by E.O. No. 227), should be interpreted to

Filipino spouse, should be allowed to remarry.

allow a Filipino citizen, who has been divorced by a spouse who had acquired
foreign citizenship and remarried, also to remarry. However, considering that in the

We are also unable to sustain the OSG's theory that the proper remedy of the

present petition there is no sufficient evidence submitted and on record, we are

Filipino spouse is to file either a petition for annulment or a petition for legal

unable to declare, based on respondent's bare allegations that his wife, who was

separation. Annulment would be a long and tedious process, and in this particular

naturalized as an American citizen, had obtained a divorce decree and had remarried

case, not even feasible, considering that the marriage of the parties appears to have

an American, that respondent is now capacitated to remarry. Such declaration could

all the badges of validity. On the other hand, legal separation would not be a

only be made properly upon respondent's submission of the aforecited evidence in

sufficient remedy for it would not sever the marriage tie; hence, the legally separated

his favor.

Filipino spouse would still remain married to the naturalized alien spouse.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition by the Republic of the Philippines is GRANTED.
However, we note that the records are bereft of competent evidence duly submitted

The assailed Decisiondated May 15, 2002, and Resolution dated July 4, 2002, of the

by respondent concerning the divorce decree and the naturalization of respondent's

Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23, are hereby SET

wife. It is settled rule that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and

ASIDE.

mere allegation is not evidence. [13]


No pronouncement as to costs.
Accordingly, for his plea to prosper, respondent herein must prove his allegation that
his wife was naturalized as an American citizen. Likewise, before a foreign divorce
decree can be recognized by our own courts, the party pleading it must prove the
divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing
it. [14] Such foreign law must also be proved as our courts cannot take judicial
notice of foreign laws. Like any other fact, such laws must be alleged and
proved. [15]Furthermore, respondent must also show that the divorce decree allows
his former wife to remarry as specifically required in Article 26. Otherwise, there
would be no evidence sufficient to declare that he is capacitated to enter into another
marriage.

SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION

recognition of the foreign divorce decree as he is a naturalized Canadian citizen. It


ruled that only the Filipino spouse can avail of the remedy, under the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,[8] in order for him or her to be able to
remarry under Philippine law.[9] Article 26 of the Family Code reads:

[G.R. No. 186571 : August 11, 2010]


GERBERT R. CORPUZ, PETITIONER, VS. DAISYLYN TIROL STO.
TOMAS AND THE SOLICITOR GENERAL, RESPONDENTS.
DECISION
BRION, J.:
Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision [1] of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via a petition for review
on certiorari[2] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (present petition).
Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen who acquired Canadian
citizenship through naturalization on November 29, 2000. [3] On January 18, 2005,
Gerbert married respondent Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a Filipina, in Pasig City.[4] Due
to work and other professional commitments, Gerbert left for Canada soon after the
wedding. He returned to the Philippines sometime in April 2005 to surprise
Daisylyn, but was shocked to discover that his wife was having an affair with
another man. Hurt and disappointed, Gerbert returned to Canada and filed a petition
for divorce. The Superior Court of Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada granted
Gerbert's petition for divorce on December 8, 2005. The divorce decree took effect a
month later, on January 8, 2006.[5]
Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has found another Filipina to
love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina fiance in the Philippines, Gerbert
went to the Pasig City Civil Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce
decree on his and Daisylyn's marriage 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 law; to be
enforceable, the foreign divorce decree must first be judicially recognized by a
competent Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982. [6]
Accordingly, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce
and/or declaration of marriage as dissolved (petition) with the RTC. Although
summoned, Daisylyn did not file any responsive pleading but submitted instead a
notarized letter/manifestation to the trial court. She offered no opposition to
Gerbert's petition and, in fact, alleged her desire to file a similar case herself but was
prevented by financial and personal circumstances. She, thus, requested that she be
considered as a party-in-interest with a similar prayer to Gerbert's.
In its October 30, 2008 decision,[7] the RTC denied Gerbert's petition. The RTC
concluded that Gerbert was not the proper party to institute the action for judicial

Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the
laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such,
shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4),
(5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly
celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise
have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative intent behind the
enactment of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, as determined
by the Court in Republic v. Orbecido III;[10] the provision was enacted to "avoid the
absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who,
after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse."[11]
THE PETITION
From the RTC's ruling,[12] Gerbert filed the present petition.[13]
Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially for declaratory relief,
similar to that filed in Orbecido; he, thus, similarly asks for a determination of his
rights under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. Taking into
account the rationale behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,
he contends that the provision applies as well to the benefit of the alien spouse. He
claims that the RTC ruling unduly stretched the doctrine in Orbecido by limiting the
standing to file the petition only to the Filipino spouse - an interpretation he claims
to be contrary to the essence of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
Code. He considers himself as a proper party, vested with sufficient legal interest, to
institute the case, as there is a possibility that he might be prosecuted for bigamy if
he marries his Filipina fiance in the Philippines since two marriage certificates,
involving him, would be on file with the Civil Registry Office. The Office of the
Solicitor General and Daisylyn, in their respective Comments, [14] both support
Gerbert's position.
Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second paragraph of Article
26 of the Family Code extends to aliens the right to petition a court of this
jurisdiction for the recognition of a foreign divorce decree.

THE COURT'S RULING


The alien spouse can claim no right under the second paragraph of Article 26 of
the Family Code as the substantive right it establishes is in favor of the Filipino
spouse
The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative history and intent
behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code.
The Family Code recognizes only two types of defective marriages - void [15] and
voidable[16]marriages. In both cases, the basis for the judicial declaration of absolute
nullity or annulment of the marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage.
Divorce, on the other hand, contemplates the dissolution of the lawful union for
cause arising after the marriage.[17] Our family laws do not recognize absolute
divorce between Filipino citizens.[18]
Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages between a Filipino
and an alien, President Corazon C. Aquino, in the exercise of her legislative powers
under the Freedom Constitution,[19] enacted Executive Order No. (EO) 227,
amending Article 26 of the Family Code to its present wording, as follows:
Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the
laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such,
shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4),
(5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly
celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise
have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, EO 227 effectively
incorporated into the law this Court's holding in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.
[20]
and Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera.[21] In both cases, the Court refused to acknowledge
the alien spouse's assertion of marital rights after a foreign court's divorce decree
between the alien and the Filipino. The Court, thus, recognized that the foreign
divorce had already severed the marital bond between the spouses. The Court
reasoned in Van Dorn v. Romillo that:
To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the Filipino spouse] has to be
considered still married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to a wife's
obligations x x x cannot be just. [The Filipino spouse] should not be obliged to live
together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support to [the alien spouse].
The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs with possible rights to conjugal

property. She should not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends
of justice are to be served.[22]
As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in the law "to avoid the
absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who,
after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse."[23] The
legislative intent is for the benefit of the Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her
marital status, settling the doubts created by the divorce decree. Essentially, the
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provided the Filipino spouse
a substantive right to have his or her marriage to the alien spouse considered as
dissolved, capacitating him or her to remarry.[24] Without the second paragraph
of Article 26 of the Family Code, the judicial recognition of the foreign decree of
divorce, whether in a proceeding instituted precisely for that purpose or as a related
issue in another proceeding, would be of no significance to the Filipino spouse since
our laws do not recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital bond; [25] Article
17 of the Civil Code provides that the policy against absolute divorces cannot be
subverted by judgments promulgated in a foreign country. The inclusion of the
second paragraph in Article 26 of the Family Code provides the direct exception to
this rule and serves as basis for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage between
the Filipino spouse and his or her alien spouse.
Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
Code is not limited to the recognition of the foreign divorce decree. If the court
finds that the decree capacitated the alien spouse to remarry, the courts can declare
that the Filipino spouse is likewise capacitated to contract another marriage. No
court in this jurisdiction, however, can make a similar declaration for the alien
spouse (other than that already established by the decree), whose status and legal
capacity are generally governed by his national law.[26]
Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the purpose of the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the RTC was correct in limiting the
applicability of the provision for the benefit of the Filipino spouse. In other words,
only the Filipino spouse can invoke the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
Code; the alien spouse can claim no right under this provision.
The foreign divorce decree is presumptive evidence of a right that clothes the
party with legal interest to petition for its recognition in this jurisdiction
We qualify our above conclusion - i.e., that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code bestows no rights in favor of aliens - with the complementary
statement that this conclusion is not sufficient basis to dismiss Gerbert's petition
before the RTC. In other words, the unavailability of the second paragraph of
Article 26 of the Family Code to aliens does not necessarily strip Gerbert of legal
interest to petition the RTC for the recognition of his foreign divorce decree. The
foreign divorce decree itself, after its authenticity and conformity with the alien's

national law have been duly proven according to our rules of evidence, serves as a
presumptive evidence of right in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to Section 48, Rule 39 of
the Rules of Court which provides for the effect of foreign judgments. This Section
states:
SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders.--The effect of a judgment or
final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the
judgment or final order is as follows:
(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment or final
order is conclusive upon the title of the thing; and
(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final
order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their
successors in interest by a subsequent title.
In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of
jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or
fact.
To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign judgment is
sufficient to clothe a party with the requisite interest to institute an action before our
courts for the recognition of the foreign judgment. In a divorce situation, we have
declared, no less, that the divorce obtained by an alien abroad may be recognized in
the Philippines, provided the divorce is valid according to his or her national law.[27]
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the
acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and
laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, "no sovereign is bound to give effect
within its dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country." [28]
This means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts
under our rules on evidence, together with the alien's applicable national law to
show the effect of the judgment on the alien himself or herself. [29] The recognition
may be made in an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action
where a party invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or
defense.
In Gerbert's case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the
alien, recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a divorce, purport to be official acts
of a sovereign authority, Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court comes into
play. This Section requires proof, either by (1) official publications or (2) copies
attested by the officer having legal custody of the documents. If the copies of
official records are not kept in the Philippines, these must be (a) accompanied by a
certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine

foreign service stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b)
authenticated by the seal of his office.
The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a copy of the divorce decree,
as well as the required certificates proving its authenticity,[30] but failed to include a
copy of the Canadian law on divorce.[31] Under this situation, we can, at this point,
simply dismiss the petition for insufficiency of supporting evidence, unless we deem
it more appropriate to remand the case to the RTC to determine whether the divorce
decree is consistent with the Canadian divorce law.
We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of action, given the Article 26
interests that will be served and the Filipina wife's (Daisylyn's) obvious conformity
with the petition. A remand, at the same time, will allow other interested parties to
oppose the foreign judgment and overcome a petitioner's presumptive evidence of a
right by proving want of jurisdiction, want of notice to a party, collusion, fraud, or
clear mistake of law or fact. Needless to state, every precaution must be taken to
ensure conformity with our laws before a recognition is made, as the foreign
judgment, once recognized, shall have the effect of res judicata[32] between the
parties, as provided in Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. [33]
In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the practice of reciprocal
recognition of foreign judgments between nations, the res judicata effect of the
foreign judgments of divorce serves as the deeper basis for extending judicial
recognition and for considering the alien spouse bound by its terms. This same
effect, as discussed above, will not obtain for the Filipino spouse were it not for the
substantive rule that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code
provides.
Considerations beyond the recognition of the foreign divorce decree
As a matter of "housekeeping" concern, we note that the Pasig City Civil Registry
Office has already recorded the divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyn's
marriage certificate based on the mere presentation of the decree. [34] We
consider the recording to be legally improper; hence, the need to draw attention of
the bench and the bar to what had been done.
Article 407 of the Civil Code states that "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees
concerning the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil register." The
law requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal
consequences touching upon a person's legal capacity and status,i.e., those affecting
"all his personal qualities and relations, more or less permanent in nature, not
ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being legitimate or illegitimate,
or his being married or not."[35]
A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign one, affecting a

person's legal capacity and status that must be recorded. In fact, Act No. 3753 or the
Law on Registry of Civil Status specifically requires the registration of divorce
decrees in the civil registry:
Sec. 1. Civil Register. - A civil register is established for recording the civil status
of persons, in which shall be entered:
(a) births;
(b) deaths;
(c) marriages;
(d) annulments of marriages;
(e) divorces;
(f) legitimations;
(g) adoptions;
(h) acknowledgment of natural children;
(i) naturalization; and
(j) changes of name.
xxxx
Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. -- The local registrars shall keep and preserve in their
offices the following books, in which they shall, respectively make the proper
entries concerning the civil status of persons:
(1) Birth and death register;
(2) Marriage register, in which shall be entered not only the marriages
solemnized but also divorces and dissolved marriages.
(3) Legitimation, acknowledgment, adoption, change of name and naturalization
register.
But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the civil registry, the
law and the submission of the decree by themselves do not ipso facto authorize the
decree's registration. The law should be read in relation with the requirement of a
judicial recognition of the foreign judgment before it can be given res
judicata effect. In the context of the present case, no judicial order as yet exists
recognizing the foreign divorce decree. Thus, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office
acted totally out of turn and without authority of law when it annotated the Canadian
divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyn's marriage certificate, on the strength alone
of the foreign decree presented by Gerbert.
Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of the requirement of a
court recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982, [36] and Department

of Justice Opinion No. 181, series of 1982[37] - both of which required a final order
from a competent Philippine court before a foreign judgment, dissolving a marriage,
can be registered in the civil registry, but it, nonetheless, allowed the registration of
the decree. For being contrary to law, the registration of the foreign divorce decree
without the requisite judicial recognition is patently void and cannot produce any
legal effect.
Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the recognition that the RTC may
extend to the Canadian divorce decree does not, by itself, authorize
the cancellation of the entry in the civil registry. A petition for recognition of a
foreign judgment is not the proper proceeding, contemplated under the Rules of
Court, for the cancellation of entries in the civil registry.
Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that "no entry in a civil register shall be
changed or corrected, without judicial order." The Rules of Court supplements
Article 412 of the Civil Code by specifically providing for a special remedial
proceeding by which entries in the civil registry may be judicially cancelled or
corrected. Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets in detail the jurisdictional and
procedural requirements that must be complied with before a judgment, authorizing
the cancellation or correction, may be annotated in the civil registry. It also requires,
among others, that the verified petition must be filed with the RTC of the province
where the corresponding civil registry is located;[38] that the civil registrar and all
persons who have or claim any interest must be made parties to the proceedings;
[39]
and that the time and place for hearing must be published in a newspaper of
general circulation.[40] As these basic jurisdictional requirements have not been met
in the present case, we cannot consider the petition Gerbert filed with the RTC as
one filed under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be construed as requiring
two separate proceedings for the registration of a foreign divorce decree in the civil
registry - one for recognition of the foreign decree and another specifically for
cancellation of the entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The recognition of
the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the
object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is
precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact. Moreover,
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court can serve as the appropriate adversarial
proceeding[41] by which the applicability of the foreign judgment can be measured
and tested in terms of jurisdictional infirmities, want of notice to the party, collusion,
fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition for review on certiorari,
and REVERSE the October 30, 2008 decision of the Regional Trial Court of Laoag
City, Branch 11, as well as its February 17, 2009 order. We order the REMAND of
the case to the trial court for further proceedings in accordance with our ruling

above. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Civil Registrar General. No
costs.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 196049

June 26, 2013

MINORU FUJIKI, PETITIONER,


vs.
MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL CIVIL
REGISTRAR OF QUEZON CITY, AND THE ADMINISTRATOR AND
CIVIL REGISTRAR GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL STATISTICS
OFFICE,RESPONDENTS.
DECISION

In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara (Maekara). Without the
first marriage being dissolved, Marinay and Maekara were married on 15 May 2008
in Quezon City, Philippines. Maekara brought Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay
allegedly suffered physical abuse from Maekara. She left Maekara and started to
contact Fujiki.3
Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish their relationship.
In 2010, Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a judgment from a family court in Japan
which declared the marriage between Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of
bigamy.4 On 14 January 2011, Fujiki filed a petition in the RTC entitled: "Judicial
Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)."
Fujiki prayed that (1) the Japanese Family Court judgment be recognized; (2) that
the bigamous marriage between Marinay and Maekara be declared void ab
initio under Articles 35(4) and 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines; 5 and (3) for
the RTC to direct the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City to annotate the Japanese
Family Court judgment on the Certificate of Marriage between Marinay and
Maekara and to endorse such annotation to the Office of the Administrator and Civil
Registrar General in the National Statistics Office (NSO). 6
The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
107, Quezon City, through a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court on a pure question of law. The petition assails the Order 1 dated 31
January 2011 of the RTC in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 and its Resolution dated 2
March 2011 denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The RTC dismissed
the petition for "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute
Nullity of Marriage)" based on improper venue and the lack of personality of
petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to file the petition.

A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately issued an Order
dismissing the petition and withdrawing the case from its active civil docket. 7 The
RTC cited the following provisions of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity
of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC):
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 solely by the husband or the wife.
xxxx

The Facts
Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married respondent
Maria Paz Galela Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines 2 on 23 January 2004. The
marriage did not sit well with petitioners parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his
wife to Japan where he resides. Eventually, they lost contact with each other.

Sec. 4. Venue. The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or
city where the petitioner or the respondent has been residing for at least six months
prior to the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may
be found in the Philippines, at the election of the petitioner. x x x

The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in "gross
violation" of the above provisions. The trial court based its dismissal on Section 5(4)
of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which provides that "[f]ailure to comply with any of the
preceding requirements may be a ground for immediate dismissal of the
petition."8 Apparently, the RTC took the view that only "the husband or the wife," in
this case either Maekara or Marinay, can file the petition to declare their marriage
void, and not Fujiki.
Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
contemplated ordinary civil actions for declaration of nullity and annulment of
marriage. Thus, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply. A petition for recognition of
foreign judgment is a special proceeding, which "seeks to establish a status, a right
or a particular fact,"9 and not a civil action which is "for the enforcement or
protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong."10 In other words, the
petition in the RTC sought to establish (1) the status and concomitant rights of Fujiki
and Marinay as husband and wife and (2) the fact of the rendition of the Japanese
Family Court judgment declaring the marriage between Marinay and Maekara as
void on the ground of bigamy. The petitioner contended that the Japanese judgment
was consistent with Article 35(4) of the Family Code of the Philippines 11on bigamy
and was therefore entitled to recognition by Philippine courts. 12
In any case, it was also Fujikis view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applied only to
void marriages under Article 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological
incapacity.13 Thus, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC provides that "a petition
for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages may be filed solely by the
husband or the wife." To apply Section 2(a) in bigamy would be absurd because
only the guilty parties would be permitted to sue. In the words of Fujiki, "[i]t is not,
of course, difficult to realize that the party interested in having a bigamous marriage
declared a nullity would be the husband in the prior, pre-existing marriage."14 Fujiki
had material interest and therefore the personality to nullify a bigamous marriage.
Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil
Registry) of the Rules of Court is applicable. Rule 108 is the "procedural
implementation" of the Civil Register Law (Act No. 3753) 15 in relation to Article
413 of the Civil Code.16 The Civil Register Law imposes a duty on the "successful
petitioner for divorce or annulment of marriage to send a copy of the final decree of
the court to the local registrar of the municipality where the dissolved or annulled
marriage was solemnized."17 Section 2 of Rule 108 provides that entries in the civil

registry relating to "marriages," "judgments of annulments of marriage" and


"judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning" are subject to cancellation
or correction.18 The petition in the RTC sought (among others) to annotate the
judgment of the Japanese Family Court on the certificate of marriage between
Marinay and Maekara.
Fujikis motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that the trial court
"gravely erred" when, on its own, it dismissed the petition based on improper venue.
Fujiki stated that the RTC may be confusing the concept of venue with the concept
of jurisdiction, because it is lack of jurisdiction which allows a court to dismiss a
case on its own. Fujiki cited Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate Court19 which held
that the "trial court cannot pre-empt the defendants prerogative to object to the
improper laying of the venue by motu proprio dismissing the case."20Moreover,
petitioner alleged that the trial court should not have "immediately dismissed" the
petition under Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC because he substantially
complied with the provision.
On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioners motion for reconsideration.
In its Resolution, the RTC stated that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies because the
petitioner, in effect, prays for a decree of absolute nullity of marriage. 21 The trial
court reiterated its two grounds for dismissal, i.e. lack of personality to sue and
improper venue under Sections 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. The RTC
considered Fujiki as a "third person"22 in the proceeding because he "is not the
husband in the decree of divorce issued by the Japanese Family Court, which he
now seeks to be judicially recognized, x x x."23 On the other hand, the RTC did not
explain its ground of impropriety of venue. It only said that "[a]lthough the Court
cited Sec. 4 (Venue) x x x as a ground for dismissal of this case[,] it should be taken
together with the other ground cited by the Court x x x which is Sec. 2(a) x x x." 24
The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition based on Braza
v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental. 25 The Court in
Braza ruled that "[i]n a special proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108
(Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Original Registry), the trial court has no
jurisdiction to nullify marriages x x x."26 Braza emphasized that the "validity of
marriages as well as legitimacy and filiation can be questioned only in a direct
action seasonably filed by the proper party, and not through a collateral attack such
as [a] petition [for correction of entry] x x x."27

The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the validity of marriage
between Marinay and Maekara. The trial court held that this is a "jurisdictional
ground" to dismiss the petition.28 Moreover, the verification and certification against
forum shopping of the petition was not authenticated as required under Section 5 29 of
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. Hence, this also warranted the "immediate dismissal" of the
petition under the same provision.
The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor General and the
Letters of Marinay and Maekara
On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their comment on the
petition for review.30 The public respondents, the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon
City and the Administrator and Civil Registrar General of the NSO, participated
through the Office of the Solicitor General. Instead of a comment, the Solicitor
General filed a Manifestation and Motion.31
The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the RTCs
"pronouncement that the petitioner failed to comply with x x x A.M. No. 02-11-10SC x x x be set aside" and that the case be reinstated in the trial court for further
proceedings.32 The Solicitor General argued that Fujiki, as the spouse of the first
marriage, is an injured party who can sue to declare the bigamous marriage between
Marinay and Maekara void. The Solicitor General cited Juliano-Llave v.
Republic33 which held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in
cases of bigamy. In Juliano-Llave, this Court explained:
[t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she had only
discovered during the connubial period that the marriage was bigamous, and
especially if the conjugal bliss had already vanished. Should parties in a subsequent
marriage benefit from the bigamous marriage, it would not be expected that they
would file an action to declare the marriage void and thus, in such circumstance, the
"injured spouse" who should be given a legal remedy is the one in a subsisting
previous marriage. The latter is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage
not only threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior
marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior spouse. The
subsequent marriage will always be a reminder of the infidelity of the spouse and the
disregard of the prior marriage which sanctity is protected by the Constitution. 34

The Solicitor General contended that the petition to recognize the Japanese Family
Court judgment may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding. 35 In Corpuz v. Santo
Tomas,36 this Court held that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be
made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as
that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a
party or a particular fact."37 WhileCorpuz concerned a foreign divorce decree, in the
present case the Japanese Family Court judgment also affected the civil status of the
parties, especially Marinay, who is a Filipino citizen.
The Solicitor General asserted that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is the procedure
to record "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons"
in the civil registry as required by Article 407 of the Civil Code. In other words,
"[t]he law requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that produce
legal consequences upon a persons legal capacity and status x x x." 38 The Japanese
Family Court judgment directly bears on the civil status of a Filipino citizen and
should therefore be proven as a fact in a Rule 108 proceeding.
Moreover, the Solicitor General argued that there is no jurisdictional infirmity in
assailing a void marriage under Rule 108, citing De Castro v. De Castro39 and Nial
v. Bayadog40 which declared that "[t]he validity of a void marriage may be
collaterally attacked."41
Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to comply with the
directive for them to comment on the petition. 42 Maekara wrote that Marinay
concealed from him the fact that she was previously married to Fujiki. 43Maekara
also denied that he inflicted any form of violence on Marinay.44 On the other hand,
Marinay wrote that she had no reason to oppose the petition. 45 She would like to
maintain her silence for fear that anything she say might cause misunderstanding
between her and Fujiki.46
The Issues
Petitioner raises the following legal issues:
(1) Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC)
is applicable.

(2) Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to


recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between
his or her spouse and a foreign citizen on the ground of bigamy.
(3) Whether the Regional Trial Court can recognize the foreign judgment
in a proceeding for cancellation or correction of entries in the Civil
Registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
The Ruling of the Court
We grant the petition.
The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of
Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not apply in a petition to
recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage where one of the
parties is a citizen of a foreign country. Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v.
Republic,47 this Court held that the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the
husband or wife can file a declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage "does not
apply if the reason behind the petition is bigamy."48
I.
For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a
marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country, the petitioner only
needs to prove the foreign judgment as a fact under the Rules of Court. To be more
specific, a copy of the foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as
a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of
the Rules of Court.49 Petitioner may prove the Japanese Family Court judgment
through (1) an official publication or (2) a certification or copy attested by the
officer who has custody of the judgment. If the office which has custody is in a
foreign country such as Japan, the certification may be made by the proper
diplomatic or consular officer of the Philippine foreign service in Japan and
authenticated by the seal of office. 50
To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for recognition of foreign
judgment would mean that the trial court and the parties should follow its
provisions, including the form and contents of the petition, 51 the service of
summons,52 the investigation of the public prosecutor,53 the setting of pre-trial,54 the

trial55 and the judgment of the trial court.56 This is absurd because it will litigate the
case anew. It will defeat the purpose of recognizing foreign judgments, which is "to
limit repetitive litigation on claims and issues."57 The interpretation of the RTC is
tantamount to relitigating the case on the merits. In Mijares v. Raada,58 this Court
explained that "[i]f every judgment of a foreign court were reviewable on the merits,
the plaintiff would be forced back on his/her original cause of action, rendering
immaterial the previously concluded litigation."59
A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the civil status,
condition and legal capacity of its parties. However, the effect of a foreign judgment
is not automatic. To extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines,
Philippine courts must determine if the foreign judgment is consistent with domestic
public policy and other mandatory laws.60 Article 15 of the Civil Code provides that
"[l]aws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal
capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living
abroad." This is the rule of lex nationalii in private international law. Thus, the
Philippine State may require, for effectivity in the Philippines, recognition by
Philippine courts of a foreign judgment affecting its citizen, over whom it exercises
personal jurisdiction relating to the status, condition and legal capacity of such
citizen.
A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does not
require relitigation under a Philippine court of the case as if it were a new petition
for declaration of nullity of marriage. Philippine courts cannot presume to know the
foreign laws under which the foreign judgment was rendered. They cannot substitute
their judgment on the status, condition and legal capacity of the foreign citizen who
is under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine courts can only recognize
the foreign judgment as a fact according to the rules of evidence.
Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign judgment or
final order against a person creates a "presumptive evidence of a right as between
the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title." Moreover, Section
48 of the Rules of Court states that "the judgment or final order may be repelled by
evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or
clear mistake of law or fact." Thus, Philippine courts exercise limited review on
foreign judgments. Courts are not allowed to delve into the merits of a foreign
judgment. Once a foreign judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine court, it
can only be repelled on grounds external to its merits, i.e. , "want of jurisdiction,

want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." The rule
on limited review embodies the policy of efficiency and the protection of party
expectations,61 as well as respecting the jurisdiction of other states. 62
Since 1922 in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,63 Philippine courts have recognized
foreign divorce decrees between a Filipino and a foreign citizen if they are
successfully proven under the rules of evidence. 64 Divorce involves the dissolution
of a marriage, but the recognition of a foreign divorce decree does not involve the
extended procedure under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the rules of ordinary trial.
While the Philippines does not have a divorce law, Philippine courts may, however,
recognize a foreign divorce decree under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code, to capacitate a Filipino citizen to remarry when his or her foreign
spouse obtained a divorce decree abroad.65
There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a fact the Japanese
Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on
the ground of bigamy. While the Philippines has no divorce law, the Japanese
Family Court judgment is fully consistent with Philippine public policy, as bigamous
marriages are declared void from the beginning under Article 35(4) of the Family
Code. Bigamy is a crime under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. Thus, Fujiki
can prove the existence of the Japanese Family Court judgment in accordance with
Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of
Court.
II.
Since the recognition of a foreign judgment only requires proof of fact of the
judgment, it may be made in a special proceeding for cancellation or correction of
entries in the civil registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. Rule 1, Section 3
of the Rules of Court provides that "[a] special proceeding is a remedy by which a
party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact." Rule 108 creates a
remedy to rectify facts of a persons life which are recorded by the State pursuant to
the Civil Register Law or Act No. 3753. These are facts of public consequence such
as birth, death or marriage,66 which the State has an interest in recording. As noted
by the Solicitor General, in Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas this Court declared that "[t]he
recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding
itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact." 67

Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states:


Sec. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event, order or
decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the civil
register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry
relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the province where the
corresponding civil registry is located. (Emphasis supplied)
Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court
judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of
bigamy because the judgment concerns his civil status as married to Marinay. For
the same reason he has the personality to file a petition under Rule 108 to cancel the
entry of marriage between Marinay and Maekara in the civil registry on the basis of
the decree of the Japanese Family Court.
There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material interest in
maintaining the integrity of the marriage he contracted and the property relations
arising from it. There is also no doubt that he is interested in the cancellation of an
entry of a bigamous marriage in the civil registry, which compromises the public
record of his marriage. The interest derives from the substantive right of the spouse
not only to preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances68) his most intimate human
relation, but also to protect his property interests that arise by operation of law the
moment he contracts marriage.69 These property interests in marriage include the
right to be supported "in keeping with the 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
spouses right in a marriage extends further to relational rights recognized under
Title III ("Rights and Obligations between Husband and Wife") of the Family
Code.73 A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC cannot "diminish, increase, or modify" the
substantive right of the spouse to maintain the integrity of his marriage. 74 In any
case, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC preserves this substantive right by
limiting the personality to sue to the husband or the wife of the union recognized by
law.
Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse of a subsisting
marriage to question the validity of a subsequent marriage on the ground of bigamy.
On the contrary, when Section 2(a) states that "[a] petition for declaration of

absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife"75
it refers to the husband or the wife of the subsisting marriage. Under Article 35(4)
of the Family Code, bigamous marriages are void from the beginning. Thus, the
parties in a bigamous marriage are neither the husband nor the wife under the law.
The husband or the wife of the prior subsisting marriage is the one who has the
personality to file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage
under Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous marriages void from the
beginning, is the civil aspect of Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, 76 which
penalizes bigamy. Bigamy is a public crime. Thus, anyone can initiate prosecution
for bigamy because any citizen has an interest in the prosecution and prevention of
crimes.77If anyone can file a criminal action which leads to the declaration of nullity
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 preventing crimes, he is also personally
interested in the purely civil aspect of protecting his marriage.
When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated, the spouse is clearly
an injured party and is therefore interested in the judgment of the suit. 79 JulianoLlave ruled that the prior spouse "is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous
marriage not only threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the
prior marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior
spouse."80 Being a real party in interest, the prior spouse is entitled to sue in order to
declare a bigamous marriage void. For this purpose, he can petition a court to
recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the bigamous marriage and judicially
declare as a fact that such judgment is effective in the Philippines. Once established,
there should be no more impediment to cancel the entry of the bigamous marriage in
the civil registry.
III.
In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, this
Court held that a "trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages" in a special
proceeding for cancellation or correction of entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court.81 Thus, the "validity of marriage[] x x x can be questioned only in a direct
action" to nullify the marriage.82 The RTC relied on Braza in dismissing the petition

for recognition of foreign judgment as a collateral attack on the marriage between


Marinay and Maekara.
Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a recognition of a foreign
judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of the
foreign country.
To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil registry
cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. A direct action is necessary
to prevent circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage
under the Family Code, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these
safeguards are the requirement of proving the limited grounds for the dissolution of
marriage,83 support pendente lite of the spouses and children,84 the liquidation,
partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses, 85 and the investigation of
the public prosecutor to determine collusion.86 A direct action for declaration of
nullity or annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent circumvention of the
jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Family Courts Act of 1997 (Republic Act
No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry
may be filed in the Regional Trial Court "where the corresponding civil registry is
located."87 In other words, a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the
mere expedient of changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.
However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or cancellation of a civil
registry entry based on the recognition of a foreign judgment annulling a marriage
where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country. There is neither
circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under
Philippine law, nor of the jurisdiction of Family Courts under R.A. No. 8369. A
recognition of a foreign judgment is not an action to nullify a marriage. It is an
action for Philippine courts to recognize the effectivity of a foreign judgment, which
presupposes a case which was already tried and decided under foreign law. The
procedure in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in a petition to recognize a
foreign judgment annulling a bigamous marriage where one of the parties is a citizen
of the foreign country. Neither can R.A. No. 8369 define the jurisdiction of the
foreign court.
Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the
effect of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without undergoing trial to
determine the validity of the dissolution of the marriage. The second paragraph of

Article 26 of the Family Code provides that "[w]here a marriage between a Filipino
citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly
obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino
spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law." InRepublic v.
Orbecido,88 this Court recognized the legislative intent of the second paragraph of
Article 26 which is "to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains
married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to
the Filipino spouse"89 under the laws of his or her country. The second paragraph of
Article 26 of the Family Code only authorizes Philippine courts to adopt the effects
of a foreign divorce decree precisely because the Philippines does not allow divorce.
Philippine courts cannot try the case on the merits because it is tantamount to trying
a case for divorce.
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, whose laws allow divorce. The anomaly consists in
the Filipino spouse being tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to
marry under the laws of his or her country. The correction is made by extending in
the Philippines the effect of the foreign divorce decree, which is already effective in
the country where it was rendered. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
Code is based on this Courts decision in Van Dorn v. Romillo90 which declared that
the Filipino spouse "should not be discriminated against in her own country if the
ends of justice are to be served."91
The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a marriage between a
Filipino and a foreign citizen who obtains a foreign judgment nullifying the
marriage on the ground of bigamy. The Filipino spouse may file a petition abroad to
declare the marriage void on the ground of bigamy. The principle in the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code applies because the foreign spouse, after
the foreign judgment nullifying the marriage, is capacitated to remarry under the
laws of his or her country. If the foreign judgment is not recognized in the
Philippines, the Filipino spouse will be discriminatedthe foreign spouse can
remarry while the Filipino spouse cannot remarry.
Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine courts are
empowered to correct a situation where the Filipino spouse is still tied to the
marriage while the foreign spouse is 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 case of a foreign divorce decree and a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous
marriage is that bigamy, as a ground for the nullity of marriage, is fully consistent
with Philippine public policy as expressed in Article 35(4) of the Family Code and
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The Filipino spouse has the option to
undergo full trial by filing a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage under
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only remedy available to him or her.
Philippine courts have jurisdiction to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying a
bigamous marriage, without prejudice to a criminal prosecution for bigamy.
In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are incompetent to
substitute their judgment on how a case was decided under foreign law. They cannot
decide on the "family rights and duties, or on the status, condition and legal
capacity" of the foreign citizen who is a party to 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
marriage involving a citizen of a foreign country, Philippine courts only decide
whether to extend its effect to the Filipino party, under the rule of lex
nationalii expressed in Article 15 of the Civil Code.
For this purpose, Philippine courts will only determine (1) whether the foreign
judgment is inconsistent with an overriding public policy in the Philippines; and (2)
whether any alleging party is able to prove an extrinsic ground to repel the foreign
judgment, i.e. want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or
clear mistake of law or fact. If there is neither inconsistency with public policy nor
adequate proof to repel the judgment, Philippine courts should, by default, recognize
the foreign judgment as part of the comity of nations. Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the
Rules of Court states that the foreign judgment is already "presumptive evidence of
a right between the parties." Upon recognition of the foreign judgment, this right
becomes conclusive and 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 establishes a new status,
right and fact92 that needs to be reflected in the civil registry. Otherwise, there will
be an inconsistency between the recognition of the effectivity of the foreign
judgment and the public records in the Philippines.1wphi1

However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is


without prejudice to prosecution for bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal
Code.93 The recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is not
a ground for extinction of criminal liability under Articles 89 and 94 of the Revised
Penal Code. Moreover, under Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code, "[t]he term of
prescription [of the crime of bigamy] shall not run when the offender is absent from
the Philippine archipelago."
Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is inapplicable, the Court no longer sees the need to
address the questions on venue and the contents and form of the petition under
Sections 4 and 5, respectively, of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Order dated 31 January 2011 and the
Resolution dated 2 March 2011 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 107, Quezon
City, in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 are REVERSED andSET ASIDE. The
Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to REINSTATE the petition for further
proceedings in accordance with this Decision.
SO ORDERED.
Brion, Del Castillo, Perez, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 195432

August 27, 2014

EDELINA T. ANDO, Petitioner,


vs.
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Respondent.
DECISION
SERENO, CJ:
This is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking the
nullification of the Orders dated 14 January and 8 February 2011 issued by the
Regional Trial Court (R TC), Third Judicial Region, Branch 45, 1 City of San
Fernando, Pampanga, in Civil Case No. 137, which dismissed the Petition for
Declaratory Relief filed therein.
STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND OF THE CASE
The pertinent facts of the case, as alleged by petitioner, are as follows:
3. On 16 September 2001, petitioner married Yuichiro Kobayashi, a
Japanese National, in a civil wedding solemnized at Candaba, Pampanga.
A copy of their Certificate of Marriage is hereto attached as Annex 'A' and
made an integral part hereof.
4. On 16 September 2004, Yuichiro Kobayashi sought in Japan, and was
validly granted under Japaneselaws, a divorce in respect of his marriage
with petitioner. A copy of the Divorce Certificate duly issued by the
Consulate-General of Japan and duly authenticated by the Department of
Foreign Affairs, Manila, is heretoas Annex B and made an integral part
hereof. 5. Said Divorce Certificate was duly registered with the Office of

the Civil Registry of Manila. A copy of the Certification dated 28 October


2005 is hereto attached as Annex C and made an integral part hereof.
6. Believing in good faith that said divorce capacitated her to remarry and
that by such she reverted to her single status, petitioner married Masatomi
Y. Ando on 13 September 2005 in a civil wedding celebrated in Sta. Ana,
Pampanga. A copy of their Certificate of Marriage is hereto 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 the JapaneseFamily Registry Record of
Kobayashi showing the divorce he obtained and his remarriage with Ryo
Miken, duly authenticated by the Consulate-General of Japan and the
Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, is hereto attached as Annex E
and made an integral part hereof.
8. Recently, petitioner applied for the renewal of her Philippine passport to
indicate her surname withher husband Masatomi Y. Ando but she was told
at the Department of Foreign Affairs that the same cannot be issued to her
until she can prove bycompetent court decision that her marriage with her
said husband Masatomi Y. Ando is valid until otherwise declared.
xxxx
12. Prescinding from the foregoing, petitioners marriage with her said
husband Masatomi Y. Ando musttherefore be honored, considered and
declared valid, until otherwise declared by a competent court.
Consequently, and until then, petitioner therefore is and must be declared
entitled to the issuance of a Philippine passport under the name Edelina
Ando y Tungol. Hence, this petitioner pursuant to Rule 63 of the Rules of
Court.2
On 29 October 2010, petitioner filed with the RTC a Petition for Declaratory Relief,
which was later raffled off to Branch 46. She impleaded the Department of Foreign
Affairs (DFA) as respondent and prayed for the following reliefs before the lower
court:

WHEREFORE, petitioner most respectfully prays of this Honorable Court that after
proper proceedings, judgment be rendered, as follows:
(a) declaring as valid and subsisting the marriage between petitioner
Edelina T. Ando and her husband Masatomi Y. Ando until otherwise
declared by a competent court;
(b) declaring petitioner entitled to the issuance of a Philippine Passport
under the name "Edelina Ando y Tungol"; and
(c) directing the Department ofForeign Affairs to honor petitioners
marriage to her husband Masatomi Y. Ando and to issue a Philippine
Passport to petitioner under the name "Edelina Ando y Tungol".
Petitioner prays for such other just and equitable reliefs. 3
On 15 November 2010, in an Order dismissing the Petition for want of cause and
action, as well as jurisdiction, the RTC held thus:
Records of the case would reveal that prior to petitioners marriage to Masatomi Y.
Ando, herein petitioner was married to Yuichiro Kobayashi, a Japanese National, in
Candaba, Pampanga, on September 16, 2001, and that though a divorce was
obtained and granted in Japan, with respect to the their (sic) marriage, there is no
showing that petitioner herein complied with the requirements set forth in Art. 13 of
the Family Code that is obtaining a judicial recognition of the foreign decree of
absolute divorce in our country.
It is therefore evident, under the foregoing circumstances, that herein petitioner does
not have any causeof action and/or is entitled to the reliefs prayed for under Rule 63
of the Rules of Court. In the same vein, though there is other adequate remedy
available to the petitioner, such remedy is however beyond the authority and
jurisdiction of this court to act upon and grant, as it isonly the family court which is
vested with such authority and jurisdiction.4
On 3 December 2010, petitioner filed an Ex ParteMotion for Reconsideration of the
Order dated 15 November 2010. In anOrder dated 14 December 2010, the RTC
granted the motion in this wise:

WHEREFORE, considering that the allegations and reliefs prayed for by the
petitioner in her petition and the instant Motion for Reconsideration falls within the
jurisdiction of the Special Family Court of this jurisdiction and for the interest
ofsubstantial justice, the Order of the Court dated November 15, 2010 is hereby
reconsidered.
Let the record of this case be therefore referred back to the Office of the Clerk of
Court for proper endorsement to the Family Court of this jurisdiction for
appropriateaction and/or disposition.5 Thereafter, the case was raffled to Branch 45
of the RTC. On 14 January 2011, the trial court dismissed the Petition anew on the
ground that petitioner had no cause of action. The Order reads thus:
The petition specifically admits that the marriage she seeks to be declared as valid is
already her second marriage, a bigamous marriage under Article 35(4) of the Family
Codeconsidering that the first one, though allegedly terminated by virtue of the
divorce obtained by Kobayashi, was never recognized by a Philippine court, hence,
petitioner is considered as still married to Kobayashi. Accordingly, the second
marriage with Ando cannot be honored and considered asvalid at this time.
Petitioners allegation of Sec. 2 (a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is misplaced. The fact
that no judicial declaration of nullity of her marriage with Ando was rendered does
not make the same valid because such declaration under Article 40 ofthe Family
Code is applicable onlyin case of re-marriage. More importantly, the absence of a
judicial declaration of nullity of marriage is not even a requisite to make a marriage
valid.
In view of the foregoing, the dismissal of this case is imperative. 6
On 1 February 2011,petitioner filed an Ex ParteMotion for Reconsideration of the
Order dated 14 January 2011. The motion was denied by the RTC in open court on 8
February2011, considering that neither the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) nor
respondent was furnished with copies of the motion.
On 24 March 2011, petitioner filed the instant Petition for Review, raising the sole
issue of whether or not the RTC erred in ruling that she had no cause of action.
Petitioner argues that under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, or the Rule on the Declaration
of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, it is

solely the wife or the husband who can file a petition for the declaration of the
absolute nullity of a void marriage. Thus, as the state is not even allowed to filea
direct petition for the declaration of the absolute nullity of a void marriage,with even
more reason can it not collaterally attack the validity of a marriage, as in a petition
for declaratory relief. Further, petitioner alleges that under the law, a marriage
even one that is void or voidable shall be deemed valid until declared otherwise in
a judicial proceeding.

The Court finds the Petition to be without merit.

Petitioner also argues that assuming a court judgment recognizing a judicial decree
of divorce is required under Article 13 of the Family Code, noncompliance therewith
is a mere irregularity in the issuance of a marriage license. Any irregularity in the
formal requisites of marriage, such as with respect to the marriage license, shall
notaffect the legality of the marriage. Petitioner further claims that all the requisites
for a petition for declaratory relief have been complied with.

Under the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. 8239, which was
adopted on 25 February 1997, the following are the additional documentary
requirements before a married woman may obtain a passport under the name of her
spouse:

With respect to the failure to furnish a copy of the Ex ParteMotion for


Reconsideration to the OSG and the DFA, petitioner avers that at the time of the
filing, the RTC had yet to issue a summons to respondent; thus, it had yet to acquire
jurisdiction over them.
Thereafter, the DFA, through the OSG, filed a Comment on the Petition. The latter
raised the following arguments: (1) the Petition was improperly verified, as the
juratin the Verification thereof only stated that the affiant had exhibited "her
currentand valid proof of identity," which proof was not properly indicated,
however; (2) prior judicial recognition by a Philippine court of a divorce decree
obtained by the alien spouse is required before a Filipino spouse can remarry and be
entitled to the legal effects of remarriage; (3) petitioner failed to show that she had
first exhausted all available administrative remedies, such as appealing to the
Secretary of the DFA under Republic Act No. (R.A.) 8239, or the Philippine
Passport Act of 1996, before resorting to the special civil action of declaratory relief;
and (4) petitioners Motion for Reconsideration before the RTC was a mere scrap of
paper and did not toll the running of the period to appeal. Hence, the RTC Order
dated 14 January 2011 is now final.
On 29 November 2011, petitioner filed her Reply to the Comment, addressing the
issues raised therein.
THE COURTS RULING

First, with respect to her prayer tocompel the DFA to issue her passport, petitioner
incorrectly filed a petition for declaratory relief before the RTC. She should have
first appealed before the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, since her ultimate entreaty
was toquestion the DFAs refusal to issue a passport to her under her second
husbands name.

SECTION 2. The issuance of passports to married, divorced or widowed women


shall be made inaccordance with the following provisions:
a) In case of a woman who is married and who decides to adopt the
surname of her husband pursuant to Art. 370 of Republic Act No. 386, she
must present the original or certifiedtrue copy of her marriage contract,
and one photocopy thereof.
In addition thereto, a Filipino who contracts marriage in the Philippines to
a foreigner, shall be required to present a Certificate of Attendance in a
Guidance and Counselling Seminar conducted by the CFO when applying
for a passport for the first time.
b) In case of annulment of marriage, the applicant must present a certified
true copy of her annotated Marriage Contract or Certificate of Registration
and the Court Order effecting the annulment.
c) In case of a woman who was divorced by her alien husband, she must
present a certified 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 diplomatic
or consular mission in the Philippines.

When the divorcee is a Filipino Muslim, she must present a certified true copy of the
Divorce Decree or a certified true copy of the Certificate of Divorce from the
Shariah Court or the OCRG. d) In the event that marriage is dissolved by the death
of the husband, the applicant must present the original or certified true copy of the
Death Certificate of the husband or the Declaration of Presumptive Death by a Civil
or Shariah Court, in which case the applicant may choose to continue to use her
husbands surname or resume the use of her maiden surname. From the above
provisions, it is clear that for petitioner to obtain a copy of her passport under her
married name, all she needed to present were the following: (1) the original or
certified true copyof her marriage contract and one photocopy thereof; (2) a
Certificate of Attendance in a Guidance and Counseling Seminar, if applicable; and
(3) a certified true copy of the Divorce Decree duly authenticated by the Philippine
Embassy or consular post that has jurisdiction over the place where the divorce is
obtained or by the concerned foreign diplomatic or consular mission in the
Philippines.
In this case, petitioner was allegedly told that she would not be issued a Philippine
passport under her second husbands name.1wphi1 Should her application for a
passport be denied, the remedies available to her are provided in Section 9 of R.A.
8239, which reads thus:
Sec. 9. Appeal. Any person who feels aggrieved as a result of the application of
this Act of the implementing rules and regulations issued by the Secretary shall have
the right to appeal to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs from whose decision judicial
review may be had to the Courts in due course.
The IRR further provides in detail:
ARTICLE 10
Appeal
In the event that an application for a passport is denied, or an existing one cancelled
or restricted, the applicant or holder thereof shall have the right to appeal in writing
to the Secretary within fifteen (15) days from notice of denial, cancellation or
restriction.
Clearly, she should have filed anappeal with the Secretary of the DFA in the event of
the denial of her application for a passport, after having complied with the

provisions of R.A. 8239. Petitioners argument that her application "cannot be said
to havebeen either denied, cancelled or restricted by [the DFA ], so as to make her an
aggrieved party entitled to appeal", 7 as instead she "was merely told"8 that her
passport cannot be issued, does not persuade. The law provides a direct recourse for
petitioner in the event of the denial of her application.
Second, with respect to her prayer for the recognition of her second marriage as
valid, petitioner should have filed, instead, a petition for the judicial recognition of
her foreign divorce from her first husband.
In Garcia v. Recio,9 we ruled that a divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be
recognized in our jurisdiction, provided the decree is valid according to the national
law of the foreigner. The presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient;
both the divorce decree and the governing personal law of the alien spouse who
obtained the divorce must be proven. Because our courts do not take judicial notice
of foreign laws and judgment, our law on evidence requires that both the divorce
decree and the national law of the alien must be alleged and proven and like any
other fact.10
While it has been ruled that a petition for the authority to remarry filed before a trial
court actually constitutes a petition for declaratory relief, 11 we are still unable to
grant the prayer of petitioner. As held by the RTC, there appears to be insufficient
proof or evidence presented on record of both the national law of her first husband,
Kobayashi, and of the validity of the divorce decree under that national law.12 Hence,
any declaration as to the validity of the divorce can only be made upon her complete
submission of evidence proving the divorce decree and the national law of her alien
spouse, in an action instituted in the proper forum.
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED without prejudice to petitioner's
recourse to the proper remedies available.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 137110

August 1, 2000

VINCENT PAUL G. MERCADO a.k.a. VINCENT G. MERCADO, petitioner,


vs.
CONSUELO TAN, respondent.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is necessary before a
subsequent one can be legally contracted. One who enters into a subsequent
marriage without first obtaining such judicial declaration is guilty of bigamy. This
principle applies even if the earlier union is characterized by statute as "void."
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the July 14, 1998 Decision
of the Court of Appeals (CA)1in CA-GR CR No. 19830 and its January 4, 1999
Resolution denying reconsideration. The assailed Decision affirmed the ruling of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bacolod City in Criminal Case No. 13848, which
convicted herein petitioner of bigamy as follows:
"WHEREFORE, finding the guilt of accused Dr. Vincent Paul G. Mercado a.k.a. Dr.
Vincent G. Mercado of the crime of Bigamy punishable under Article 349 of the
Revised Penal Code to have been proven beyond reasonable doubt, [the court hereby
renders] judgment imposing upon him a prison term of three (3) years, four (4)
months and fifteen (15) days of prision correccional, as minimum of his
indeterminate sentence, to eight (8) years and twenty-one (21) days of prision
mayor, as maximum, plus accessory penalties provided by law.

Costs against accused."2


The Facts
The facts are quoted by Court of Appeals (CA) from the trial courts judgment, as
follows: "From the evidence adduced by the parties, there is no dispute that accused
Dr. Vincent Mercado and complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan got married on June 27,
1991 before MTCC-Bacolod City Br. 7 Judge Gorgonio J. Ibaez [by reason of]
which a Marriage Contract was duly executed and signed by the parties. As entered
in said document, the status of accused was single. There is no dispute either that
at the time of the celebration of the wedding with complainant, accused was actually
a married man, having been in lawful wedlock with Ma. Thelma Oliva in a marriage
ceremony solemnized on April 10, 1976 by Judge Leonardo B. Caares, CFI-Br.
XIV, Cebu City per Marriage Certificate issued in connection therewith, which
matrimony was further blessed by Rev. Father Arthur Baur on October 10, 1976 in
religious rites at the Sacred Heart Church, Cebu City. In the same manner, the civil
marriage between accused and complainant was confirmed in a church ceremony on
June 29, 1991 officiated by Msgr. Victorino A. Rivas, Judicial Vicar, Diocese of
Bacolod City. Both marriages were consummated when out of the first consortium,
Ma. Thelma Oliva bore accused two children, while a child, Vincent Paul, Jr. was
sired by accused with complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan.
"On October 5, 1992, a letter-complaint for bigamy was filed by complainant
through counsel with the City Prosecutor of Bacolod City, which eventually resulted
[in] the institution of the present case before this Court against said accused, Dr.
Vincent G. Mercado, on March 1, 1993 in an Information dated January 22, 1993.
"On November 13, 1992, or more than a month after the bigamy case was lodged in
the Prosecutors Office, accused filed an action for Declaration of Nullity of
Marriage against Ma. Thelma V. Oliva in RTC-Br. 22, Cebu City, and in a Decision
dated May 6, 1993 the marriage between Vincent G. Mercado and Ma. Thelma V.
Oliva was declared null and void.
"Accused is charged [with] bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code for
having contracted a second marriage with herein complainant Ma. Consuelo Tan on
June 27, 1991 when at that time he was previously united in lawful marriage with
Ma. Thelma V. Oliva on April 10, 1976 at Cebu City, without said first marriage
having been legally dissolved. As shown by the evidence and admitted by accused,

all the essential elements of the crime are present, namely: (a) that the offender has
been previously legally married; (2) that the first marriage has not been legally
dissolved or in case the spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be
presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (3) that he contract[ed] a second or
subsequent marriage; and (4) that the second or subsequent marriage ha[d] all the
essential requisites for validity. x x x
"While acknowledging the existence of the two marriage[s], accused posited the
defense that his previous marriage ha[d] been judicially declared null and void and
that the private complainant had knowledge of the first marriage of accused.
"It is an admitted fact that when the second marriage was entered into with Ma.
Consuelo Tan on June 27, 1991, accuseds prior marriage with Ma. Thelma V. Oliva
was subsisting, no judicial action having yet been initiated or any judicial
declaration obtained as to the nullity of such prior marriage with Ma. Thelma V.
Oliva. Since no declaration of the nullity of his first marriage ha[d] yet been made at
the time of his second marriage, it is clear that accused was a married man when he
contracted such second marriage with complainant on June 27, 1991. He was still at
the time validly married to his first wife."3

In his Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues:


"A
Whether or not the element of previous legal marriage is present in order
to convict petitioner.
"B
Whether or not a liberal interpretation in favor of petitioner of Article 349
of the Revised Penal Code punishing bigamy, in relation to Articles 36 and
40 of the Family Code, negates the guilt of petitioner.
"C
Whether or not petitioner is entitled to an acquittal on the basis of
reasonable doubt."6
The Courts Ruling

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


The Petition is not meritorious.
Agreeing with the lower court, the Court of Appeals stated:
Main Issue:Effect of Nullity of Previous Marriage
"Under Article 40 of the Family Code, the absolute nullity of a previous marriage
may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment
declaring such previous marriage void. But here, the final judgment declaring null
and void accuseds previous marriage came not before the celebration of the second
marriage, but after, when the case for bigamy against accused was already tried in
court. And what constitutes the crime of bigamy is the act of any person who shall
contract a second subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally
dissolved."4
Hence, this Petition.5

Petitioner was convicted of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code,
which provides:
"The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract
a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally
dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by
means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings."
The elements of this crime are as follows:

The Issues

"1. That the offender has been legally married;

2. That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her
spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead
according to the Civil Code;
3. That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage;
4. That the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites
for validity."7
When the Information was filed on January 22, 1993, all the elements of bigamy
were present. It is undisputed that petitioner married Thelma G. Oliva on April 10,
1976 in Cebu City. While that marriage was still subsisting, he contracted a second
marriage, this time with Respondent Ma. Consuelo Tan who subsequently filed the
Complaint for bigamy.
Petitioner contends, however, that he obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his
first marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, thereby rendering it void ab
initio. Unlike voidable marriages which are considered valid until set aside by a
competent court, he argues that a void marriage is deemed never to have taken place
at all.8Thus, he concludes that there is no first marriage to speak of. Petitioner also
quotes the commentaries9 of former Justice Luis Reyes that "it is now settled that if
the first marriage is void from the beginning, it is a defense in a bigamy charge. But
if the first marriage is voidable, it is not a defense."
Respondent, on the other hand, admits that the first marriage was declared null and
void under Article 36 of the Family Code, but she points out that that declaration
came only after the Information had been filed. Hence, by then, the crime had
already been consummated. She argues that a judicial declaration of nullity of a void
previous marriage must be obtained before a person can marry for a subsequent
time.
We agree with the respondent.
To be sure, jurisprudence regarding the need for a judicial declaration of nullity of
the previous marriage has been characterized as "conflicting." 10 In People v.
Mendoza,11 a bigamy case involving an accused who married three times, the Court
ruled that there was no need for such declaration. In that case, the accused
contracted a second marriage during the subsistence of the first. When the first wife

died, he married for the third time. The second wife then charged him with bigamy.
Acquitting him, the Court held that the second marriage was void ab initiobecause it
had been contracted while the first marriage was still in effect. Since the second
marriage was obviously void and illegal, the Court ruled that there was no need for a
judicial declaration of its nullity. Hence, the accused did not commit bigamy when
he married for the third time. This ruling was affirmed by the Court inPeople v.
Aragon,12 which involved substantially the same facts.
But in subsequent cases, the Court impressed the need for a judicial declaration of
nullity. In Vda de Consuegra v. GSIS,13 Jose Consuegra married for the second time
while the first marriage was still subsisting. Upon his death, the Court awarded one
half of the proceeds of his retirement benefits to the first wife and the other half to
the second wife and her children, notwithstanding the manifest nullity of the second
marriage. It held: "And with respect to the right of the second wife, this Court
observes that although the second marriage can be presumed to be void ab initio as
it was celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there is need for
judicial declaration of such nullity."
In Tolentino v. Paras,14 however, the Court again held that judicial declaration of
nullity of a void marriage was not necessary. In that case, a man married twice. In
his Death Certificate, his second wife was named as his surviving spouse. The first
wife then filed a Petition to correct the said entry in the Death Certificate. The Court
ruled in favor of the first wife, holding that "the second marriage that he contracted
with private respondent during the lifetime of the first spouse is null and void from
the beginning and of no force and effect. No judicial decree is necessary to establish
the invalidity of a void marriage."
In Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy,15 the Court stressed the need for such declaration. In that
case, Karl Heinz Wiegel filed an action for the declaration of nullity of his marriage
to Lilia Olivia Wiegel on the ground that the latter had a prior existing marriage.
After pretrial, Lilia asked that she be allowed to present evidence to prove, among
others, that her first husband had previously been married to another woman. In
holding that there was no need for such evidence, the Court ruled: "x x x There is
likewise no need of introducing evidence about the existing prior marriage of her
first husband at the time they married each other, for then such a marriage though
void still needs, according to this Court, a judicial declaration of such fact and for
all legal intents and purposes she would still be regarded as a married woman at the
time she contracted her marriage with respondent Karl Heinz Wiegel; x x x."

Subsequently, in Yap v. CA,16 the Court reverted to the ruling in People v. Mendoza,
holding that there was no need for such declaration of nullity.

illegal and void from its performance, and no judicial decree is necessary to
establish its invalidity, as distinguished from mere annulable marriages."19

In Domingo v. CA,17 the issue raised was whether a judicial declaration of nullity
was still necessary for the recovery and the separation of properties of erstwhile
spouses. Ruling in the affirmative, the Court declared: "The Family Code has settled
once and for all the conflicting jurisprudence on the matter. A declaration of the
absolute nullity of a marriage is now explicitly required either as a cause of action
or a ground for defense; in fact, the requirement for a declaration of absolute nullity
of a marriage is also for the protection of the spouse who, believing that his or her
marriage is illegal and void, marries again. With the judicial declaration of the
nullity of his or her first marriage, the person who marries again cannot be charged
with bigamy."18

The provision appeared in substantially the same form under Article 83 of the 1950
Civil Code and Article 41 of the Family Code. However, Article 40 of the Family
Code, a new provision, expressly requires a judicial declaration of nullity of the
previous marriage, as follows:

Unlike Mendoza and Aragon, Domingo as well as the other cases herein cited was
not a criminal prosecution for bigamy. Nonetheless, Domingo underscored the need
for a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage on the basis of a new
provision of the Family Code, which came into effect several years after the
promulgation ofMendoza and Aragon.
In Mendoza and Aragon, the Court relied on Section 29 of Act No. 3613 (Marriage
Law), which provided:
"Illegal marriages. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during
the lifetime of the first spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance, unless:
(a) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved;
(b) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the
time of the second marriage without the spouse present having news of the
absentee being alive, or the absentee being generally considered as dead
and believed to be so by the spouse present at the time of contracting such
subsequent marriage, the marriage as contracted being valid in either case
until declared null and void by a competent court."
The Court held in those two cases that the said provision "plainly makes a
subsequent marriage contracted by any person during the lifetime of his first spouse

"ART. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes
of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such marriage void."
In view of this provision, Domingo stressed that a final judgment declaring such
marriage void was necessary. Verily, the Family Code and Domingo affirm the
earlier ruling in Wiegel. Thus, a Civil Law authority and member of the Civil Code
Revision Commitee has observed:
"[Article 40] is also in line with the recent decisions of the Supreme Court that the
marriage of a person may be null and void but there is need of a judicial declaration
of such fact before that person can marry again; otherwise, the second marriage will
also be void (Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy, Aug. 19/86, 143 SCRA 499, Vda. De
Consuegra v. GSIS, 37 SCRA 315). This provision changes the old rule that where a
marriage is illegal and void from its performance, no judicial decree is necessary to
establish its validity (People v. Mendoza, 95 Phil. 843; People v. Aragon, 100 Phil.
1033)."20
In this light, the statutory mooring of the ruling in Mendoza and Aragon that there
is no need for a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage -- has been cast
aside by Article 40 of the Family Code. Such declaration is now necessary before
one can contract a second marriage. Absent that declaration, we hold that one may
be charged with and convicted of bigamy.
The present ruling is consistent with our pronouncement in Terre v. Terre,21 which
involved an administrative Complaint against a lawyer for marrying twice. In
rejecting the lawyers argument that he was free to enter into a second marriage
because the first one was void ab initio, the Court ruled: "for purposes of
determining whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage, a judicial
declaration that the first marriage was null and voidab initio is essential." The Court
further noted that the said rule was "cast into statutory form by Article 40 of the

Family Code." Significantly, it observed that the second marriage, contracted


without a judicial declaration that the first marriage was void, was "bigamous and
criminal in character."
Moreover, Justice Reyes, an authority in Criminal Law whose earlier work was cited
by petitioner, changed his view on the subject in view of Article 40 of the Family
Code and wrote in 1993 that a person must first obtain a judicial declaration of the
nullity of a void marriage before contracting a subsequent marriage: 22
"It is now settled that the fact that the first marriage is void from the beginning is
not a defense in a bigamy charge. As with a voidable marriage, there must be a
judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage before contracting the second
marriage. Article 40 of the Family Code states that x x x. The Code Commission
believes that the parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that their
marriage is void, even if such is the fact, but must first secure a judicial declaration
of nullity of their marriage before they should be allowed to marry again. x x x."
In the instant case, petitioner contracted a second marriage although there was yet no
judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage. In fact, he instituted the Petition
to have the first marriage declared void only after complainant had filed a lettercomplaint charging him with bigamy. By contracting a second marriage while the
first was still subsisting, he committed the acts punishable under Article 349 of the
Revised Penal Code.
That he subsequently obtained a judicial declaration of the nullity of the first
marriage was immaterial. To repeat, the crime had already been consummated by
then. Moreover, his view effectively encourages delay in the prosecution of bigamy
cases; an accused could simply file a petition to declare his previous marriage void
and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial question in the criminal case.
We cannot allow that.
Under the circumstances of the present case, he is guilty of the charge against him.
Damages
In her Memorandum, respondent prays that the Court set aside the ruling of the
Court of Appeals insofar as it denied her claim of damages and attorneys fees. 23

Her prayer has no merit. She did not appeal the ruling of the CA against her; hence,
she cannot obtain affirmative relief from this Court. 24 In any event, we find no
reason to reverse or set aside the pertinent ruling of the CA on this point, which we
quote hereunder:
"We are convinced from the totality of the evidence presented in this case that
Consuelo Tan is not the innocent victim that she claims to be; she was well aware of
the existence of the previous marriage when she contracted matrimony with Dr.
Mercado. The testimonies of the defense witnesses prove this, and we find no reason
to doubt said testimonies.
xxx

xxx

xxx

"Indeed, the claim of Consuelo Tan that she was not aware of his previous marriage
does not inspire belief, especially as she had seen that Dr. Mercado had two (2)
children with him. We are convinced that she took the plunge anyway, relying on the
fact that the first wife would no longer return to Dr. Mercado, she being by then
already living with another man.
"Consuelo Tan can therefore not claim damages in this case where she was fully
conscious of the consequences of her act. She should have known that she would
suffer humiliation in the event the truth [would] come out, as it did in this case,
ironically because of her personal instigation. If there are indeed damages caused to
her reputation, they are of her own willful making." 25
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., see concurring and dissenting opinion.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 150758

February 18, 2004

VERONICO TENEBRO, petitioner


vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
We are called on to decide the novel issue concerning the effect of the judicial
declaration of the nullity of a second or subsequent marriage, on the ground of
psychological incapacity, on an individuals criminal liability for bigamy. We hold
that the subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity does not retroact to the date of the celebration of the
marriage insofar as the Philippines penal laws are concerned. As such, an individual
who contracts a second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid
marriage is criminally liable for bigamy, notwithstanding the subsequent declaration
that the second marriage is void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity.
Petitioner in this case, Veronico Tenebro, contracted marriage with private
complainant Leticia Ancajas on April 10, 1990. The two were wed by Judge Alfredo
B. Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City. Tenebro and Ancajas lived
together continuously and without interruption until the latter part of 1991, when
Tenebro informed Ancajas that he had been previously married to a certain Hilda
Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Tenebro showed Ancajas a photocopy of a
marriage contract between him and Villareyes. Invoking this previous marriage,
petitioner thereafter left the conjugal dwelling which he shared with Ancajas, stating
that he was going to cohabit with Villareyes.1

On January 25, 1993, petitioner contracted yet another marriage, this one with a
certain Nilda Villegas, before Judge German Lee, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court of
Cebu City, Branch 15.2 When Ancajas learned of this third marriage, she verified
from Villareyes whether the latter was indeed married to petitioner. In a handwritten
letter,3Villareyes confirmed that petitioner, Veronico Tenebro, was indeed her
husband.
Ancajas thereafter filed a complaint for bigamy against petitioner.4 The
Information,5 which was docketed as Criminal Case No. 013095-L, reads:
That on the 10th day of April 1990, in the City of Lapu-lapu, Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the aforenamed accused, having been
previously united in lawful marriage with Hilda Villareyes, and without the said
marriage having been legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously contract a second marriage with LETICIA ANCAJAS, which second or
subsequent marriage of the accused has all the essential requisites for validity were
it not for the subsisting first marriage.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
When arraigned, petitioner entered a plea of "not guilty". 6
During the trial, petitioner admitted having cohabited with Villareyes from 19841988, with whom he sired two children. However, he denied that he and Villareyes
were validly married to each other, claiming that no marriage ceremony took place
to solemnize their union.7 He alleged that he signed a marriage contract merely to
enable her to get the allotment from his office in connection with his work as a
seaman.8 He further testified that he requested his brother to verify from the Civil
Register in Manila whether there was any marriage at all between him and
Villareyes, but 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 Revised Penal Code, and sentencing him to four
(4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years
and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum. 10 On appeal, the Court of Appeals
affirmed the decision of the trial court. Petitioners motion for reconsideration was
denied for lack of merit.

Hence, the instant petition for review on the following assignment of errors:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED, AND
THIS ERROR IS CORRECTIBLE IN THIS APPEAL WHEN IT
AFFIRMED THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT A
QUOCONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR (sic) THE CRIME OF
BIGAMY, DESPITE THE NON-EXISTENCE OF THE FIRST
MARRIAGE AND INSUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE.

Petitioners assignment of errors presents a two-tiered defense, in which he (1)


denies the existence of his first marriage to Villareyes, and (2) argues that the
declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological
incapacity, which is an alleged indicator that his marriage to Ancajas lacks the
essential requisites for validity, retroacts to the date on which the second marriage
was celebrated.13 Hence, petitioner argues that all four of the elements of the crime
of bigamy are absent, and prays for his acquittal. 14
Petitioners defense must fail on both counts.

II. THE COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR (sic)


THE CRIME OF BIGAMY DESPITE CLEAR PROOF THAT THE
MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE ACCUSED AND PRIVATE
COMPLAINANT HAD BEEN DECLARED NULL AND VOID AB
INITIO AND WITHOUT LEGAL FORCE AND EFFECT.11
After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find no cogent reason to disturb
the assailed judgment.
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, the elements of the crime of Bigamy
are:
(1) that the offender has been legally married;
(2) that the first marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or
her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead
according to the Civil Code;
(3) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and
(4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites
for validity.12

First, the prosecution presented sufficient evidence, both documentary and oral, to
prove the existence of the first marriage between petitioner and Villareyes.
Documentary evidence presented was in the form of: (1) a copy of a marriage
contract between Tenebro and Villareyes, dated November 10, 1986, which, as seen
on the document, was solemnized at the Manila City Hall before Rev. Julieto Torres,
a Minister of the Gospel, and certified to by the Office of the Civil Registrar of
Manila;15 and (2) a handwritten letter from Villareyes to Ancajas dated July 12,
1994, informing Ancajas that Villareyes and Tenebro were legally married. 16
To assail the veracity of the marriage contract, petitioner presented (1) a certification
issued by the National Statistics Office dated October 7, 1995; 17 and (2) a
certification issued by the City Civil Registry of Manila, dated February 3,
1997.18 Both these documents attest that the respective issuing offices have no
record of a marriage celebrated between Veronico B. Tenebro and Hilda B.
Villareyes on November 10, 1986.
To our mind, the documents presented by the defense cannot adequately assail the
marriage contract, which in itself would already have been sufficient to establish the
existence of a marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes.
All three of these documents fall in the category of public documents, and the Rules
of Court provisions relevant to public documents are applicable to all. Pertinent to
the marriage contract, Section 7 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court reads as follows:
Sec. 7. Evidence admissible when original document is a public record. When the
original of a document is in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public
office, its contents may be proved by a certified copy issued by the public officer in
custody thereof (Emphasis ours).

This being the case, the certified copy of the marriage contract, issued by a public
officer in custody thereof, was admissible as the best evidence of its contents. The
marriage contract plainly indicates that a marriage was celebrated between petitioner
and Villareyes on November 10, 1986, and it should be accorded the full faith and
credence given to public documents.
Moreover, an examination of the wordings of the certification issued by the National
Statistics Office on October 7, 1995 and that issued by the City Civil Registry of
Manila on February 3, 1997 would plainly show that neither document attests as a
positive fact that there was no marriage celebrated between Veronico B. Tenebro and
Hilda B. Villareyes on November 10, 1986. Rather, the documents merely attest that
the respective issuing offices have no record of such a marriage. Documentary
evidence as to the absence of a record is quite different from documentary evidence
as to the absence of a marriage ceremony, or documentary evidence as to the
invalidity of the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes.
The marriage contract presented by the prosecution serves as positive evidence as to
the existence of the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes, which should be
given greater credence than documents testifying merely as to absence of any record
of the marriage, especially considering that there is absolutely no requirement in the
law that a marriage contract needs to be submitted to the civil registrar as a
condition precedent for the validity of a marriage. The mere fact that no record of a
marriage exists does not invalidate the marriage, provided all requisites for its
validity are present.19 There is no evidence presented by the defense that would
indicate that the marriage between Tenebro and Villareyes lacked any requisite for
validity, apart from the self-serving testimony of the accused himself. Balanced
against this testimony are Villareyes letter, Ancajas testimony that petitioner
informed her of the existence of the valid first marriage, and petitioners own
conduct, which would all tend to indicate that the first marriage had all the requisites
for validity.
Finally, although the accused claims that he took steps to verify the non-existence of
the first marriage to Villareyes by requesting his brother to validate such purported
non-existence, it is significant to note that the certifications issued by the National
Statistics Office and the City Civil Registry of Manila are dated October 7, 1995 and
February 3, 1997, respectively. Both documents, therefore, are dated after the
accuseds marriage to his second wife, private respondent in this case.

As such, this Court rules that there was sufficient evidence presented by the
prosecution to prove the first and second requisites for the crime of bigamy.
The second tier of petitioners defense hinges on the effects of the subsequent
judicial declaration20 of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity.
Petitioner argues that this subsequent judicial declaration retroacts to the date of the
celebration of the marriage to Ancajas. As such, he argues that, since his marriage to
Ancajas was subsequently declared void ab initio, the crime of bigamy was not
committed.21
This argument is not impressed with merit.
Petitioner makes much of the judicial declaration of the nullity of the second
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, invoking Article 36 of the
Family Code. What petitioner fails to realize is that a declaration of the nullity of the
second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity is of absolutely no
moment insofar as the States penal laws are concerned.
As a second or subsequent marriage contracted during the subsistence of petitioners
valid marriage to Villareyes, petitioners marriage to Ancajas would be null and void
ab initio completely regardless of petitioners psychological capacity or
incapacity.22 Since a marriage contracted during the subsistence of a valid marriage
is automatically void, the nullity of this second marriage is not per se an argument
for the avoidance of criminal liability for bigamy. Pertinently, Article 349 of the
Revised Penal Code criminalizes "any person who shall contract a second or
subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or
before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a
judgment rendered in the proper proceedings". A plain reading of the law, therefore,
would indicate that the provision penalizes the mere act of contracting a second or a
subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage.
Thus, as soon as the second marriage to Ancajas was celebrated on April 10, 1990,
during the subsistence of the valid first marriage, the crime of bigamy had already
been consummated. To our mind, there is no cogent reason for distinguishing
between a subsequent marriage that is null and void purely because it is a second or
subsequent marriage, and a subsequent marriage that is null and void on the ground

of psychological incapacity, at least insofar as criminal liability for bigamy is


concerned. The States penal laws protecting the institution of marriage are in
recognition of the sacrosanct character of this special contract between spouses, and
punish an individuals deliberate disregard of the permanent character of the special
bond between spouses, which petitioner has undoubtedly done.
Moreover, the declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity is not an indicator that petitioners marriage to Ancajas
lacks the essential requisites for validity. The requisites for the validity of a marriage
are classified by the Family Code into essential (legal capacity of the contracting
parties and their consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing
officer)23 and formal (authority of the solemnizing officer, marriage license, and
marriage ceremony wherein the parties personally declare their agreement to marry
before the solemnizing officer in the presence of at least two witnesses). 24 Under
Article 5 of the Family Code, any male or female of the age of eighteen years or
upwards not under any of the impediments mentioned in Articles 37 25 and 3826 may
contract marriage.27
In this case, all the essential and formal requisites for the validity of marriage were
satisfied by petitioner and Ancajas. Both were over eighteen years of age, and they
voluntarily contracted the second marriage with the required license before Judge
Alfredo B. Perez, Jr. of the City Trial Court of Lapu-lapu City, in the presence of at
least two witnesses.
Although the judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity retroacts to the date of the celebration of the marriage
insofar as the vinculum between the spouses is concerned, it is significant to note
that said marriage is not without legal effects. Among these effects is that children
conceived or born before the judgment of absolute nullity of the marriage shall be
considered legitimate.28 There is therefore a recognition written into the law itself
that such a marriage, although void ab initio, may still produce legal consequences.
Among these legal consequences is incurring criminal liability for bigamy. To hold
otherwise would render the States penal laws on bigamy completely nugatory, and
allow individuals to deliberately ensure that each marital contract be flawed in some
manner, and to thus escape the consequences of contracting multiple marriages,
while beguiling throngs of hapless women with the promise of futurity and
commitment.

As such, we rule that the third and fourth requisites for the crime of bigamy are
present in this case, and affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
As a final point, we note that based on the evidence on record, petitioner contracted
marriage a third time, while his marriages to Villareyes and Ancajas were both still
subsisting. Although this is irrelevant in the determination of the accuseds guilt for
purposes of this particular case, the act of the accused displays a deliberate disregard
for the sanctity of marriage, and the State does not look kindly on such activities.
Marriage is a special contract, the key characteristic of which is its permanence.
When an individual manifests a deliberate pattern of flouting the foundation of the
States basic social institution, the States criminal laws on bigamy step in.
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the penalty for the crime
of bigamy is prision mayor, which has a duration of six (6) years and one (1) day to
twelve (12) years. There being neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, the
same shall be imposed in its medium period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence
Law, petitioner shall be entitled to a minimum term, to be taken from the penalty
next lower in degree, i.e., prision correccional which has a duration of six (6)
months and one (1) day to six (6) years. Hence, the Court of Appeals correctly
affirmed the decision of the trial court which sentenced petitioner to suffer an
indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition for review is
DENIED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 21636,
convicting petitioner Veronico Tenebro of the crime of Bigamy and sentencing him
to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision
correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as
maximum, is AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 159218

March 30, 2004

SALVADOR S. ABUNADO and ZENAIDA BIAS ABUNADO, Petitioners,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Responden
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse and set aside the decision 1 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 26135 which affirmed with modification the
decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 77, San Mateo, Rizal in Criminal Case
No. 2803 convicting petitioner Salvador S. Abunado of bigamy.
The records show that on September 18, 1967, Salvador married Narcisa Arceo at
the Manila City Hall before Rev. Pedro Tiangco.2 In 1988 Narcisa left for Japan to
work but returned to the Philippines in 1992, when she learned that her husband was
having an extra-marital affair and has left their conjugal home.
After earnest efforts, Narcisa found Salvador in Quezon City cohabiting with Fe
Corazon Plato. She also discovered that on January 10, 1989, Salvador contracted a
second marriage with a certain Zenaida Bias before Judge Lilian Dinulos
Panontongan in San Mateo, Rizal.3
On January 19, 1995, an annulment case was filed by Salvador against Narcisa. 4 On
May 18, 1995, a case for bigamy was filed by Narcisa against Salvador and
Zenaida.5
Salvador admitted that he first married Zenaida on December 24, 1955 before a
municipal trial court judge in Concepcion, Iloilo and has four children with her prior

to their separation in 1966. It appeared however that there was no evidence of their
1955 marriage so he and Zenaida remarried on January 10, 1989, upon the request of
their son for the purpose of complying with the requirements for his commission in
the military.
On May 18, 2001, the trial court convicted petitioner Salvador Abunado of bigamy
and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day, as
minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day, as maximum. Petitioner Zenaida Bias
was acquitted for insufficiency of evidence.6

The real nature of the crime charged is determined by the facts alleged in the
Information and not by the title or designation of the offense contained in the
caption of the Information. It is fundamental that every element of which the offense
is comprised must be alleged in the Information. What facts and circumstances are
necessary to be alleged in the Information must be determined by reference to the
definition and essential elements of the specific crimes. 10
The question, therefore, is whether petitioner has been sufficiently informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation against him, namely, that he contracted a
subsequent marriage with another woman while his first marriage was subsisting.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the decision of the trial
court, as follows:

The information against petitioner alleges:

WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is hereby MODIFIED as to the penalty


imposed but AFFIRMED in all other respects. Appreciating the mitigating
circumstance that accused is 76 years of age and applying the provisions of the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, the appellant is hereby sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate prison term of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of
prision correccional as Minimum to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor
as Maximum. No costs.

That in or about and sometime in the month of January, 1995 at the Municipality of
San Mateo, Rizal place (sic) within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, having been legally married to complainant Narcisa Abunado
on September 16, 1967 which has not been legally dissolved, did then and
therewillfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a subsequent marriage to Zenaida
Bias Abunado on January 10, 1989 which has all the essential requisites of a valid
marriage.

SO ORDERED.7

CONTRARY TO LAW.11

Petitioner is now before us on petition for review.

The statement in the information that the crime was committed "in or about and
sometime in the month of January, 1995," was an obvious typographical error, for
the same information clearly states that petitioner contracted a subsequent marriage
to Zenaida Bias Abunado on January 10, 1989. Petitioners submission, therefore,
that the information was defective is untenable.

First, he argues that the Information was defective as it stated that the bigamous
marriage was contracted in 1995 when in fact it should have been 1989.
Indeed, an accused has the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation against him.8 It is required that the acts and omissions complained of as
constituting the offense must be alleged in the Information. 9

The general rule is that a defective information cannot support a judgment of


conviction unless the defect was cured by evidence during the trial and no objection
appears to have been raised.12 It should be remembered that bigamy can be
successfully prosecuted provided all its elements concur two of which are a
previous marriage and a subsequent marriage which possesses all the requisites for
validity.13 All of these have been sufficiently established by the prosecution during
the trial. Notably, petitioner failed to object to the alleged defect in the Information
during the trial and only raised the same for the first time on appeal before the Court
of Appeals.

Second, petitioner argues that Narcisa consented to his marriage to Zenaida, which
had the effect of absolving him of criminal liability.

case for bigamy, because all that is required for the charge of bigamy to prosper is
that the first marriage be subsisting at the time the second marriage is contracted. 18

In this regard, we agree with the Court of Appeals when it ruled, thus:

Thus, under the law, a marriage, even one which is void or voidable, shall be
deemed valid until declared otherwise in a judicial proceeding. 19 In this case, even if
petitioner eventually obtained a declaration that his first marriage was void ab initio,
the point is, both the first and the second marriage were subsisting before the first
marriage was annulled.

x x x, while he claims that there was condonation on the part of complainant when
he entered into a bigamous marriage, the same was likewise not established by clear
and convincing evidence. But then, a pardon by the offended party does not
extinguish criminal action considering that a crime is committed against the State
and the crime of Bigamy is a public offense which can be denounced not only by the
person affected thereby but even by a civic-spirited citizen who may come to know
the same.14
Third, petitioner claims that his petition for annulment/declaration of nullity of
marriage was a prejudicial question, hence, the proceedings in the bigamy case
should have been suspended during the pendency of the annulment case. Petitioner,
in fact, eventually obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to
Narcisa on October 29, 1999.15
A prejudicial question has been defined as one based on a fact distinct and separate
from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or
innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal action, it must appear
not only that said case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the
criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the issue or
issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would
necessarily be determined. The rationale behind the principle of suspending a
criminal case in view of a prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting
decisions.16
The subsequent judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage was
immaterial because prior to the declaration of nullity, the crime had already been
consummated. Moreover, petitioners assertion would only delay the prosecution of
bigamy cases considering that an accused could simply file a petition to declare his
previous marriage void and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial
question in the criminal case. We cannot allow that. 17
The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioners marriage to Narcisa had
no bearing upon the determination of petitioners innocence or guilt in the criminal

Finally, petitioner claims that the penalty imposed on him was improper.
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code imposes the penalty of prision mayor for
bigamy. Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the court shall sentence the accused
to an indeterminate penalty, the maximum term of which shall be that which, in view
of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under the Revised Penal
Code, and the minimum term of which shall be within the range of the penalty next
lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense. The penalty next lower would
be based on the penalty prescribed by the Code for the offense, without first
considering any modifying circumstance attendant to the commission of the crime.
The determination of the minimum penalty is left by law to the sound discretion of
the court and it can be anywhere within the range of the penalty next lower without
any reference to the periods into which it might be subdivided. The modifying
circumstances are considered only in the imposition of the maximum term of the
indeterminate sentence.20
In light of the fact that petitioner is more than 70 years of age, 21 which is a
mitigating circumstance under Article 13, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code,
the maximum term of the indeterminate sentence should be taken from prision
mayor in its minimum period which ranges from six (6) years and one (1) day to
eight (8) years, while the minimum term should be taken from prision correccional
in any of its periods which ranges from six (6) months and one (1) day to six (6)
years.
Therefore, the penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals, i.e., two (2) years, four (4)
months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum, to six (6) years and
one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum, is proper.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Court of Appeals in


CA-G.R. CR No. 26135, finding petitioner Salvador S. Abunado guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy, and sentencing him to suffer an
indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision
correccional, as minimum, to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as
maximum, is AFFIRMED.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), Panganiban, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, and Azcuna,
JJ.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 169766

March 30, 2011

ESTRELLITA JULIANO-LLAVE, Petitioner,


vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, HAJA PUTRI ZORAYDA A.
TAMANO and ADIB AHMAD A. TAMANO,Respondents.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
A new law ought to affect the future, not what is past. Hence, in the case of
subsequent marriage laws, no vested rights shall be impaired that pertain to the
protection of the legitimate union of a married couple.
This petition for review on certiorari assails the Decision1 dated August 17,
2004 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 61762 and its
subsequent Resolution2 dated September 13, 2005, which affirmed the Decision
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 89 declaring
petitioner Estrellita Juliano-Llaves (Estrellita) marriage to Sen. Mamintal A.J.
Tamano (Sen. Tamano) as void ab initio.
Factual Antecedents
Around 11 months before his death, Sen. Tamano married Estrellita twice
initially under the Islamic laws and tradition on May 27, 1993 in Cotabato
City3 and, subsequently, under a civil ceremony officiated by an RTC Judge at
Malabang, Lanao del Sur on June 2, 1993.4 In their marriage contracts, Sen.
Tamanos civil status was indicated as divorced.

Since then, Estrellita has been representing herself to the whole world as Sen.
Tamanos wife, and upon his death, his widow.
On November 23, 1994, private respondents Haja Putri Zorayda A. Tamano
(Zorayda) and her son Adib Ahmad A. Tamano (Adib), in their own behalf and
in behalf of the rest of Sen. Tamanos legitimate children with Zorayda, 5filed a
complaint with the RTC of Quezon City for the declaration of nullity of
marriage between Estrellita and Sen. Tamano for being bigamous. The
complaint6 alleged, inter alia, that Sen. Tamano married Zorayda on May 31,
1958 under civil rites, and that this marriage remained subsisting when he
married Estrellita in 1993. The complaint likewise averred that:
11. The marriage of the deceased and Complainant Zorayda, having
been celebrated under the New Civil Code, is therefore governed by
this law. Based on Article 35 (4) of the Family Code, the subsequent
marriage entered into by deceased Mamintal with Defendant Llave is
void ab initio because he contracted the same while his prior marriage
to Complainant Zorayda was still subsisting, and his status being
declared as "divorced" has no factual or legal basis, because the
deceased never divorced Complainant Zorayda in his lifetime, and he
could not have validly done so because divorce is not allowed under
the New Civil Code;
11.1 Moreover, the deceased did not and could not have divorced
Complainant Zorayda by invoking the provision of P.D. 1083,
otherwise known as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, for the simple
reason that the marriage of the deceased with Complainant Zorayda
was never deemed, legally and factually, to have been one contracted
under Muslim law as provided under Art. 186 (2) of P.D. 1083, since
they (deceased and Complainant Zorayda) did not register their mutual
desire to be thus covered by this law;7
Summons was then served on Estrellita on December 19, 1994. She then asked
from the court for an extension of 30 days to file her answer to be counted from
January 4, 1995,8 and again, another 15 days9 or until February 18, 1995, both
of which the court granted.10

Instead of submitting her answer, however, Estrellita filed a Motion to


Dismiss11 on February 20, 1995 where she declared that Sen. Tamano and
Zorayda are both Muslims who were married under the Muslim rites, as had
been averred in the latters disbarment complaint against Sen.
Tamano.12 Estrellita argued that the RTC has no jurisdiction to take cognizance
of the case because under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1083, or the Code of
Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (Muslim Code), questions and issues
involving Muslim marriages and divorce fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of
sharia courts.
The trial court denied Estrellitas motion and asserted its jurisdiction over the
case for declaration of nullity.13Thus, Estrellita filed in November 1995
a certiorari petition with this Court questioning the denial of her Motion to
Dismiss. On December 15, 1995, we referred the petition to the CA 14 which was
docketed thereat as CA-G.R. SP No. 39656.
During the pendency of CA-G.R. SP No. 39656, the RTC continued to try the
case since there can be no default in cases of declaration of nullity of marriage
even if the respondent failed to file an answer. Estrellita was allowed to
participate in the trial while her opposing parties presented their evidence.
When it was Estrellitas turn to adduce evidence, the hearings set for such
purpose15 were postponed mostly at her instance until the trial court, on March
22, 1996, suspended the proceedings16 in view of the CAs temporary restraining
order issued on February 29, 1996, enjoining it from hearing the case. 17
Eventually, however, the CA resolved the petition adverse to Estrellita in its
Decision dated September 30, 1996.18 Estrellita then elevated the appellate
courts judgment to this Court by way of a petition for review on certiorari
docketed as G.R. No. 126603.19
Subsequent to the promulgation of the CA Decision, the RTC ordered Estrellita
to present her evidence on June 26, 1997.20 As Estrellita was indisposed on that
day, the hearing was reset to July 9, 1997.21 The day before this scheduled
hearing, Estrellita again asked for a postponement.22

Unhappy with the delays in the resolution of their case, Zorayda and Adib
moved to submit the case for decision,23 reasoning that Estrellita had long been
delaying the case. Estrellita opposed, on the ground that she has not yet filed her
answer as she still awaits the outcome of G.R. No. 126603.24
On June 29, 1998, we upheld the jurisdiction of the RTC of Quezon
City,25 stating as one of the reasons that as sharia courts are not vested with
original and exclusive jurisdiction in cases of marriages celebrated under both
the Civil Code and PD 1083, the RTC, as a court of general jurisdiction, is not
precluded from assuming jurisdiction over such cases. In our Resolution dated
August 24, 1998,26 we denied Estrellitas motion for reconsideration27 with
finality.
A few days before this resolution, or on August 18, 1998, the RTC rendered the
aforementioned judgment declaring Estrellitas marriage with Sen. Tamano as
void ab initio.28
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
The RTC, finding that the marital ties of Sen. Tamano and Zorayda were never
severed, declared Sen. Tamanos subsequent marriage to Estrellita as void ab
initio for being bigamous under Article 35 of the Family Code of the Philippines
and under Article 83 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.29 The court said:
A comparison between Exhibits A and B (supra) immediately shows that the
second marriage of the late Senator with [Estrellita] was entered into during the
subsistence of his first marriage with [Zorayda]. This renders the subsequent
marriage void from the very beginning. The fact that the late Senator declared
his civil status as "divorced" will not in any way affect the void character of the
second marriage because, in this jurisdiction, divorce obtained by the Filipino
spouse is not an acceptable method of terminating the effects of a previous
marriage, especially, where the subsequent marriage was solemnized under the
Civil Code or Family Code.30
Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In her appeal,31 Estrellita argued that she was denied her right to be heard as
the RTC rendered its judgment even without waiting for the finality of the
Decision of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 126603. She claimed that the RTC
should have required her to file her answer after the denial of her motion to
dismiss. She maintained that Sen. Tamano is capacitated to marry her as his
marriage and subsequent divorce with Zorayda is governed by the Muslim
Code. Lastly, she highlighted Zoraydas lack of legal standing to question the
validity of her marriage to the deceased.
In dismissing the appeal in its Decision dated August 17, 2004,32 the CA held
that Estrellita can no longer be allowed to file her answer as she was given
ample opportunity to be heard but simply ignored it by asking for numerous
postponements. She never filed her answer despite the lapse of around 60 days,
a period longer than what was prescribed by the rules. It also ruled that
Estrellita cannot rely on her pending petition for certiorari with the higher
courts since, as an independent and original action, it does not interrupt the
proceedings in the trial court.
As to the substantive merit of the case, the CA adjudged that Estrellitas
marriage to Sen. Tamano is void ab initio for being bigamous, reasoning that the
marriage of Zorayda and Sen. Tamano is governed by the Civil Code, which
does not provide for an absolute divorce. It noted that their first nuptial
celebration was under civil rites, while the subsequent Muslim celebration was
only ceremonial. Zorayda then, according to the CA, had the legal standing to
file the action as she is Sen. Tamanos wife and, hence, the injured party in the
senators subsequent bigamous marriage with Estrellita.
In its September 13, 2005 Resolution,33 the CA denied Estrellitas Motion for
Reconsideration/Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration where it debunked
the additional errors she raised. The CA noted that the allegation of lack of the
public prosecutors report on the existence of collusion in violation of both Rule
9, Section 3(e) of the Rules of Court34 and Article 48 of the Family Code35 will
not invalidate the trial courts judgment as the proceedings between the parties
had been adversarial, negating the existence of collusion. Assuming that the
issues have not been joined before the RTC, the same is attributable to

Estrellitas refusal to file an answer. Lastly, the CA disregarded Estrellitas


allegation that the trial court erroneously rendered its judgment way prior to our
remand to the RTC of the records of the case ratiocinating that G.R. No. 126603
pertains to the issue on the denial of the Motion to Dismiss, and not to the issue
of the validity of Estrellitas marriage to Sen. Tamano.
The Parties Respective Arguments
Reiterating her arguments before the court a quo, Estrellita now argues that the
CA erred in upholding the RTC judgment as the latter was prematurely issued,
depriving her of the opportunity to file an answer and to present her evidence to
dispute the allegations against the validity of her marriage. She claims that
Judge Macias v. Macias36 laid down the rule that the filing of a motion to
dismiss instead of an answer suspends the period to file an answer and,
consequently, the trial court is obliged to suspend proceedings while her motion
to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction has not yet been resolved with
finality. She maintains that she merely participated in the RTC hearings because
of the trial courts assurance that the proceedings will be without prejudice to
whatever action the High Court will take on her petition questioning the RTCs
jurisdiction and yet, the RTC violated this commitment as it rendered an adverse
judgment on August 18, 1998, months before the records of G.R. No. 126603
were remanded to the CA on November 11, 1998.37 She also questions the lack
of a report of the public prosecutor anent a finding of whether there was
collusion, this being a prerequisite before further proceeding could be held
when a party has failed to file an answer in a suit for declaration of nullity of
marriage.
Estrellita is also steadfast in her belief that her marriage with the late senator is
valid as the latter was already divorced under the Muslim Code at the time he
married her. She asserts that such law automatically applies to the marriage of
Zorayda and the deceased without need of registering their consent to be
covered by it, as both parties are Muslims whose marriage was solemnized
under Muslim law. She pointed out that Sen. Tamano married all his wives
under Muslim rites, as attested to by the affidavits of the siblings of the
deceased.38

Lastly, Estrellita argues that Zorayda and Adib have no legal standing to file suit
because only the husband or the wife can file a complaint for the declaration of
nullity of marriage under Supreme Court Resolution A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. 39

3. Whether Zorayda and Adib have the legal standing to have


Estrellitas marriage declared void ab initio.
Our Ruling

Refuting the arguments, the Solicitor General (Sol Gen) defends the CAs
reasoning and stresses that Estrellita was never deprived of her right to be
heard; and, that filing an original action for certiorari does not stay the
proceedings of the main action before the RTC.
As regards the alleged lack of report of the public prosecutor if there is
collusion, the Sol Gen says that this is no longer essential considering the
vigorous opposition of Estrellita in the suit that obviously shows the lack of
collusion. The Sol Gen also supports private respondents legal standing to
challenge the validity of Estrellitas purported marriage with Sen. Tamano,
reasoning that any proper interested party may attack directly or collaterally a
void marriage, and Zorayda and Adib have such right to file the action as they
are the ones prejudiced by the marital union.
Zorayda and Adib, on the other hand, did not file any comment.
Issues
The issues that must be resolved are the following:
1. Whether the CA erred in affirming the trial courts judgment, even
though the latter was rendered prematurely because: a) the judgment
was rendered without waiting for the Supreme Courts final resolution
of her certiorari petition, i.e., G.R. No. 126603; b) she has not yet filed
her answer and thus was denied due process; and c) the public
prosecutor did not even conduct an investigation whether there was
collusion;
2. Whether the marriage between Estrellita and the late Sen. Tamano
was bigamous; and

Estrellitas refusal to file an answer eventually led to the loss of her right to
answer; and her pending petition for certiorari/review on certiorari questioning
the denial of the motion to dismiss before the higher courts does not at all
suspend the trial proceedings of the principal suit before the RTC of Quezon
City.
Firstly, it can never be argued that Estrellita was deprived of her right to due
process. She was never declared in default, and she even actively participated in
the trial to defend her interest.
Estrellita invokes Judge Macias v. Macias40 to justify the suspension of the
period to file an answer and of the proceedings in the trial court until her
petition for certiorari questioning the validity of the denial of her Motion to
Dismiss has been decided by this Court. In said case, we affirmed the following
reasoning of the CA which, apparently, is Estrellitas basis for her argument, to
wit:
However, she opted to file, on April 10, 2001, a Motion to Dismiss, instead of
filing an Answer to the complaint. The filing of said motion suspended the
period for her to file her Answer to the complaint. Until said motion is resolved
by the Respondent Court with finality, it behooved the Respondent Court to
suspend the hearings of the case on the merits. The Respondent Court, on April
19, 2001, issued its Order denying the Motion to Dismiss of the Petitioner.
Under Section 6, Rule 16 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure [now Section
4], the Petitioner had the balance of the period provided for in Rule 11 of the
said Rules but in no case less than five (5) days computed from service on her
of the aforesaid Order of the Respondent Court within which to file her Answer
to the complaint: x x x41 (Emphasis supplied.)
Estrellita obviously misappreciated Macias. All we pronounced therein is that
the trial court is mandated to suspend trial until it finally resolves the motion to

dismiss that is filed before it. Nothing in the above excerpt states that the trial
court should suspend its proceedings should the issue of the propriety or
impropriety of the motion to dismiss be raised before the appellate courts.
In Macias, the trial court failed to observe due process in the course of the
proceeding of the case because after it denied the wifes motion to dismiss, it
immediately proceeded to allow the husband to present evidence ex parte and
resolved the case with undue haste even when, under the rules of procedure, the
wife still had time to file an answer. In the instant case, Estrellita had no time
left for filing an answer, as she filed the motion to dismiss beyond the extended
period earlier granted by the trial court after she filed motions for extension of
time to file an answer.
Estrellita argues that the trial court prematurely issued its judgment, as it should
have waited first for the resolution of her Motion to Dismiss before the CA and,
subsequently, before this Court. However, in upholding the RTC, the CA
correctly ruled that the pendency of a petition for certiorari does not suspend the
proceedings before the trial court. "An application for certiorari is an
independent action which is not part or a continuation of the trial which resulted
in the rendition of the judgment complained of." 42 Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
is explicit in stating that "[t]he petition shall not interrupt the course of the
principal case unless a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary
injunction has been issued against the public respondent from further
proceeding in the case."43 In fact, the trial court respected the CAs temporary
restraining order and only after the CA rendered judgment did the RTC again
require Estrellita to present her evidence.
Notably, when the CA judgment was elevated to us by way of Rule 45, we
never issued any order precluding the trial court from proceeding with the
principal action. With her numerous requests for postponements, Estrellita
remained obstinate in refusing to file an answer or to present her evidence when
it was her turn to do so, insisting that the trial court should wait first for our
decision in G.R. No. 126603. Her failure to file an answer and her refusal to
present her evidence were attributable only to herself and she should not be
allowed to benefit from her own dilatory tactics to the prejudice of the other
party. Sans her answer, the trial court correctly proceeded with the trial and
rendered its Decision after it deemed Estrellita to have waived her right to
present her side of the story. Neither should the lower court wait for the decision

in G.R. No. 126603 to become final and executory, nor should it wait for its
records to be remanded back to it because G.R. No. 126603 involves strictly the
propriety of the Motion to Dismiss and not the issue of validity of marriage.
The Public Prosecutor issued a report as
to the non-existence of collusion.
Aside from Article 48 of the Family Code and Rule 9, Section 3(e) of the Rules
of Court, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and
Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC)44 also requries the
participation of the public prosecutor in cases involving void marriages. It
specifically mandates the prosecutor to submit his investigation report to
determine whether there is collusion between the parties:
Sec. 9. Investigation report of public prosecutor.(1) Within one month after
receipt of the court order mentioned in paragraph (3) of Section 8 above, the
public prosecutor shall submit a report to the court stating whether the parties
are in collusion and serve copies thereof on the parties and their respective
counsels, if any.
(2) If the public prosecutor finds that collusion exists, he shall state the
basis thereof in his report. The parties shall file their respective
comments on the finding of collusion within ten days from receipt of a
copy of the report. The court shall set the report for hearing and if
convinced that the parties are in collusion, it shall dismiss the petition.
(3) If the public prosecutor reports that no collusion exists, the court
shall set the case for pre-trial. It shall be the duty of the public
prosecutor to appear for the State at the pre-trial.
Records show that the trial court immediately directed the public prosecutor to
submit the required report,45 which we find to have been sufficiently complied
with by Assistant City Prosecutor Edgardo T. Paragua in his Manifestation dated
March 30, 1995,46 wherein he attested that there could be no collusion between

the parties and no fabrication of evidence because Estrellita is not the spouse of
any of the private respondents.
Furthermore, the lack of collusion is evident in the case at bar. Even assuming
that there is a lack of report of collusion or a lack of participation by the public
prosecutor, just as we held in Tuason v. Court of Appeals, 47 the lack of
participation of a fiscal does not invalidate the proceedings in the trial court:
The role of the prosecuting attorney or fiscal in annulment of marriage and legal
separation proceedings is to determine whether collusion exists between the
parties and to take care that the evidence is not suppressed or fabricated.
Petitioner's vehement opposition to the annulment proceedings negates the
conclusion that collusion existed between the parties. There is no allegation by
the petitioner that evidence was suppressed or fabricated by any of the parties.
Under these circumstances, we are convinced that the non-intervention of a
prosecuting attorney to assure lack of collusion between the contending parties
is not fatal to the validity of the proceedings in the trial court.48
The Civil Code governs the marriage of Zorayda and the late Sen. Tamano; their
marriage was never invalidated by PD 1083. Sen. Tamanos subsequent
marriage to Estrellita is void ab initio.
The marriage between the late Sen. Tamano and Zorayda was celebrated in
1958, solemnized under civil and Muslim rites. 49 The only law in force
governing marriage relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims alike was
the Civil Code of 1950, under the provisions of which only one marriage can
exist at any given time.50 Under the marriage provisions of the Civil Code,
divorce is not recognized except during the effectivity of Republic Act No.
39451 which was not availed of during its effectivity.
As far as Estrellita is concerned, Sen. Tamanos prior marriage to Zorayda has
been severed by way of divorce under PD 1083,52 the law that codified Muslim
personal laws. However, PD 1083 cannot benefit Estrellita. Firstly, Article 13(1)
thereof provides that the law applies to "marriage and divorce wherein both
parties are Muslims, or wherein only the male party is a Muslim and the
marriage is solemnized in accordance with Muslim law or this Code in any part

of the Philippines." But we already ruled in G.R. No. 126603 that "Article 13 of
PD 1083 does not provide for a situation where the parties were married both in
civil and Muslim rites."53
Moreover, the Muslim Code took effect only on February 4, 1977, and this law
cannot retroactively override the Civil Code which already bestowed certain
rights on the marriage of Sen. Tamano and Zorayda. The former explicitly
provided for the prospective application of its provisions unless otherwise
provided:
Art. 186 (1). Effect of code on past acts. Acts executed prior to the effectivity
of this Code shall be governed by the laws in force at the time of their
execution, and nothing herein except as otherwise specifically provided, shall
affect their validity or legality or operate to extinguish any right acquired or
liability incurred thereby.
It has been held that:
The foregoing provisions are consistent with the principle that all laws operate
prospectively, unless the contrary appears or is clearly, plainly and
unequivocably expressed or necessarily implied; accordingly, every case of
doubt will be resolved against the retroactive operation of laws. Article 186
aforecited enunciates the general rule of the Muslim Code to have its provisions
applied prospectively, and implicitly upholds the force and effect of a preexisting body of law, specifically, the Civil Code in respect of civil acts that
took place before the Muslim Codes enactment.54
An instance of retroactive application of the Muslim Code is Article 186(2)
which states:
A marriage contracted by a Muslim male prior to the effectivity of this Code in
accordance with non-Muslim law shall be considered as one contracted under
Muslim law provided the spouses register their mutual desire to this effect.
Even granting that there was registration of mutual consent for the marriage to
be considered as one contracted under the Muslim law, the registration of

mutual consent between Zorayda and Sen. Tamano will still be ineffective, as
both are Muslims whose marriage was celebrated under both civil and Muslim
laws. Besides, as we have already settled, the Civil Code governs their personal
status since this was in effect at the time of the celebration of their marriage. In
view of Sen. Tamanos prior marriage which subsisted at the time Estrellita
married him, their subsequent marriage is correctly adjudged by the CA as void
ab initio.
Zorayda and Adib, as the injured parties, have the legal personalities to file the
declaration of nullity of marriage. A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, which limits to only
the husband or the wife the filing of a petition for nullity is prospective in
application and does not shut out the prior spouse from filing suit if the ground
is a bigamous subsequent marriage.
Her marriage covered by the Family Code of the Philippines, 55 Estrellita relies
on A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which took effect on March 15, 2003 claiming that
under Section 2(a)56 thereof, only the husband or the wife, to the exclusion of
others, may file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity, therefore only she
and Sen. Tamano may directly attack the validity of their own marriage.
Estrellita claims that only the husband or the wife in a void marriage can file a
petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. However, this interpretation does
not apply if the reason behind the petition is bigamy.
In explaining why under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC only the spouses may file the
petition to the exclusion of compulsory or intestate heirs, we said:
The Rationale of the Rules on Annulment of Voidable Marriages and
Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, Legal Separation and
Provisional Orders explicates on Section 2(a) in the following manner, viz:
(1) Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file petitions for annulment of
voidable marriages and declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such
petitions cannot be filed by the compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or
by the State. [Section 2; Section 3, paragraph a]

Only an aggrieved or injured spouse may file a petition for annulment of


voidable marriages or declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages. Such
petition cannot be filed by compulsory or intestate heirs of the spouses or by the
State. The Committee is of the belief that they do not have a legal right to file
the petition. Compulsory or intestate heirs have only inchoate rights prior to the
death of their predecessor, and hence can only question the validity of the
marriage of the spouses upon the death of a spouse in a proceeding for the
settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the regular courts. On the
other hand, the concern of the State is to preserve marriage and not to seek its
dissolution.57
Note that the Rationale makes it clear that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10SC refers to the "aggrieved or injured spouse." If Estrellitas interpretation is
employed, the prior spouse is unjustly precluded from filing an action. Surely,
this is not what the Rule contemplated.
The subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she had
only discovered during the connubial period that the marriage was bigamous,
and especially if the conjugal bliss had already vanished. Should parties in a
subsequent marriage benefit from the bigamous marriage, it would not be
expected that they would file an action to declare the marriage void and thus, in
such circumstance, the "injured spouse" who should be given a legal remedy is
the one in a subsisting previous marriage. The latter is clearly the aggrieved
party as the bigamous marriage not only threatens the financial and the property
ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional
burden to the prior spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be a reminder
of the infidelity of the spouse and the disregard of the prior marriage which
sanctity is protected by the Constitution.
Indeed, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC precludes the son from
impugning the subsequent marriage.1wphi1 But in the case at bar, both
Zorayda and Adib have legal personalities to file an action for nullity. Albeit the
Supreme Court Resolution governs marriages celebrated under the Family
Code, such is prospective in application and does not apply to cases already
commenced before March 15, 2003.58

Zorayda and Adib filed the case for declaration of nullity of Estrellitas
marriage in November 1994. While the Family Code is silent with respect to the
proper party who can file a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage prior
to A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, it has been held that in a void marriage, in which no
marriage has taken place and cannot be the source of rights, any interested party
may attack the marriage directly or collaterally without prescription, which may
be filed even beyond the lifetime of the parties to the marriage. 59 Since A.M.
No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply, Adib, as one of the children of the deceased
who has property rights as an heir, is likewise considered to be the real party in
interest in the suit he and his mother had filed since both of them stand to be
benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit.60
Since our Philippine laws protect the marital union of a couple, they should be
interpreted in a way that would preserve their respective rights which include
striking down bigamous marriages. We thus find the CA Decision correctly
rendered.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed August 17, 2004 Decision
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 61762, as well as its subsequent
Resolution issued on September 13, 2005, are hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 183896

January 30, 2013

SYED AZHAR ABBAS, Petitioner,


vs.
GLORIA GOO ABBAS, Respondent.
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, questioning the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated March 11,
2008 in CA-G.R. CV No. 86760, which reversed the Decision2 in Civil Case No. 030382-CFM dated October 5, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 109,
Pasay City, and the CA Resolution dated July 24, 2008, denying petitioner's Motion
for Reconsideration of the CA Decision.
The present case stems from a petition filed by petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas (Syed)
for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Gloria Goo-Abbas (Gloria) with the
RTC of Pasay City, docketed as Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM, and raffled to RTC
Branch 109. Syed alleged the absence of a marriage license, as provided for in
Article 4, Chapter I, Title 1 of Executive Order No. 269, otherwise known as the
Family Code of the Philippines, as a ground for the annulment of his marriage to
Gloria.
In the Marriage Contract3 of Gloria and Syed, it is stated that Marriage License No.
9969967, issued at Carmona, Cavite on January 8, 1993, was presented to the
solemnizing officer. It is this information that is crucial to the resolution of this case.
At the trial court, Syed, a Pakistani citizen, testified that he met Gloria, a Filipino
citizen, in Taiwan in 1991, and they were married on August 9, 1992 at the Taipei

Mosque in Taiwan.4 He arrived in the Philippines in December of 1992. On January


9, 1993, at around 5 oclock in the afternoon, he was at his mother-in-laws
residence, located at 2676 F. Muoz St., Malate, Manila, when his mother-in-law
arrived with two men. He testified that he was told that he was going to undergo
some ceremony, one of the requirements for his stay in the Philippines, but was not
told of the nature of said ceremony. During the ceremony he and Gloria signed a
document. He claimed that he did not know that the ceremony was a marriage until
Gloria told him later. He further testified that he did not go to Carmona, Cavite to
apply for a marriage license, and that he had never resided in that area. In July of
2003, he went to the Office of the Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, to check on
their marriage license, and was asked to show a copy of their marriage contract
wherein the marriage license number could be found. 5 The Municipal Civil
Registrar, Leodivinia C. Encarnacion, issued a certification on July 11, 2003 to the
effect that the marriage 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 Mabilangan. 6 Said
certification reads as follows:
11 July 2003
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
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 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
On cross-examination, Syed testified that Gloria had filed bigamy cases against him
in 2001 and 2002, and that he had gone to the Municipal Civil Registrar of
Carmona, Cavite to get certification on whether or not there was a marriage license
on advice of his counsel.8

Petitioner also presented Norberto Bagsic (Bagsic), an employee of the Municipal


Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite. Bagsic appeared under a letter of authority from
the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, and brought documents
pertaining to Marriage License No. 9969967, which was issued to Arlindo Getalado
and Myra Mabilangan on January 20, 1993.9
Bagsic testified that their office issues serial numbers for marriage licenses and that
the numbers are issued chronologically.10 He testified that the certification dated July
11, 2003, was issued and signed by Leodivina Encarnacion, Registrar of the
Municipality of Carmona, Cavite, certifying that Marriage License No. 9969967 was
issued for Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan on January 19, 1993, and that
their office had not issued any other license of the same serial number, namely
9969967, to any other person.11
For her part, Gloria testified on her own behalf, and presented Reverend Mario
Dauz, Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez, Felicitas Goo and May Ann Ceriola.
Reverend Mario Dauz (Rev. Dauz) testified that he was a minister of the Gospel and
a barangay captain, and that he is authorized to solemnize marriages within the
Philippines.12 He testified that he solemnized the marriage of Syed Azhar Abbas and
Gloria Goo at the residence of the bride on January 9, 1993. 13 He stated that the
witnesses were Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez (Atty. Sanchez) and Mary Ann Ceriola. 14 He
testified that he had been solemnizing marriages since 1982, and that he is familiar
with the requirements.15 Rev. Dauz further testified that Atty. Sanchez gave him the
marriage license the day before the actual wedding, and that the marriage contract
was prepared by his secretary.16 After the solemnization of the marriage, it was
registered with the Local Civil Registrar of Manila, and Rev. Dauz submitted the
marriage contract and copy of the marriage license with that office. 17
Atty. Sanchez testified that he was asked to be the sponsor of the wedding of Syed
Abbas and Gloria Goo by the mother of the bride, Felicitas Goo. 18 He testified that
he requested a certain Qualin to secure the marriage license for the couple, and that
this Qualin secured the license and gave the same to him on January 8, 1993. 19He
further testified that he did not know where the marriage license was obtained. 20 He
attended the wedding ceremony on January 9, 1993, signed the marriage contract as
sponsor, and witnessed the signing of the marriage contract by the couple, the
solemnizing officer and the other witness, Mary Ann Ceriola. 21

Felicitas Goo testified that Gloria Goo is her daughter and Syed Azhar Abbas is her
son-in-law, and that she was present at the wedding ceremony held on January 9,
1993 at her house.22 She testified that she sought the help of Atty. Sanchez at the
Manila City Hall in securing the marriage license, and that a week before the
marriage was to take place, a male person went to their house with the application
for marriage license.23 Three days later, the same person went back to their house,
showed her the marriage license before returning it to Atty. Sanchez who then gave
it to Rev. Dauz, the solemnizing officer.24 She further testified that she did not read
all of the contents of the marriage license, and that she was told that the marriage
license was obtained from Carmona.25 She also testified that a bigamy case had been
filed by Gloria against Syed at the Regional Trial Court of Manila, evidenced by an
information for Bigamy dated January 10, 2003, pending before Branch 47 of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila.26
As to Mary Ann Ceriolas testimony, the counsels for both parties stipulated that: (a)
she is one of the sponsors at the wedding of Gloria Goo and Syed Abbas on January
9, 1993; (b) she was seen in the wedding photos and she could identify all the
persons depicted in said photos; and (c) her testimony corroborates that of Felicitas
Goo and Atty. Sanchez.
The respondent, Gloria, testified that Syed is her husband, and presented the
marriage contract bearing their signatures as proof. 27 She and her mother sought the
help of Atty. Sanchez in securing a marriage license, and asked him to be one of the
sponsors. A certain Qualin went to their house and said that he will get the marriage
license for them, and after several days returned with an application for marriage
license for them to sign, which she and Syed did. After Qualin returned with the
marriage license, they gave the license to Atty. Sanchez who gave it to Rev. Dauz,
the solemnizing officer. Gloria testified that she and Syed were married on January
9, 1993 at their residence.28
Gloria further testified that she has a daughter with Syed, born on June 15, 1993. 29
Gloria also testified that she filed a bigamy case against Syed, who had married a
certain Maria Corazon Buenaventura during the existence of the previous marriage,
and that the case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 02A-03408, with the RTC of
Manila.30

Gloria stated that she and Syed had already been married on August 9, 1992 in
Taiwan, but that she did not know if said marriage had been celebrated under
Muslim rites, because the one who celebrated their marriage was Chinese, and those
around them at the time were Chinese.31

Gloria filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated November 7, 2005, but the RTC
denied the same, prompting her to appeal the questioned decision to the Court of
Appeals.
The Ruling of the CA

The Ruling of the RTC


In her appeal to the CA, Gloria submitted the following assignment of errors:
In its October 5, 2005 Decision, the Pasay City RTC held that no valid marriage
license was issued by the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite in favor of
Gloria and Syed, as Marriage License No. 9969967 had been issued to Arlindo
Getalado and Myra Mabilangan, and the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona,
Cavite had certified that no marriage license had been issued for Gloria and
Syed.32 It also took into account the fact that neither party was a resident of
Carmona, Cavite, the place where Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued, in
violation of Article 9 of the Family Code.33 As the marriage was not one of those
exempt from the license requirement, and that the lack of a valid marriage license is
an absence of a formal requisite, the marriage of Gloria and Syed on January 9, 1993
was void ab initio.
The dispositive portion of the Decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the petitioner, and against
the respondent declaring as follows:
1. The marriage on January 9, 1993 between petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas
and respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas is hereby annulled;
2. Terminating the community of property relations between the petitioner
and the respondent even if no property was acquired during their
cohabitation by reason of the nullity of the marriage of the parties.
3. The Local Civil Registrar of Manila and the Civil Registrar General,
National Statistics Office, are hereby ordered to cancel from their
respective civil registries the marriage contracted by petitioner Syed Azhar
Abbas and respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas on January 9, 1993 in Manila.
SO ORDERED.34

I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THE MARRIAGE
BETWEEN THE PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT AS NULL AND
VOID DUE TO THE ABSENCE OF A MARRIAGE LICENSE DESPITE
EVIDENCE CLEARLY SHOWING THAT THERE WAS ONE.
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING, AS A
REQUISITE OF A VALID MARRIAGE, THE OVERWHELMING
EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT A MARRIAGE CEREMONY TOOK
PLACE WITH THE APPEARANCE OF THE CONTRACTING
PARTIES BEFORE THE SOLEMNIZING OFFICER AND THEIR
PERSONAL DECLARATION THAT THEY TOOK EACH OTHER AS
HUSBAND AND WIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF NOT LESS THAN
TWO WITNESSES OF LEGAL AGE.
III
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING ON THE ISSUE OF
ESTOPPEL BY LACHES ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER, AN
ISSUE TIMELY RAISED IN THE COURT BELOW.35
The CA gave credence to Glorias arguments, and granted her appeal. It held that the
certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar failed to categorically state that a
diligent search for the marriage license of Gloria and Syed was conducted, and thus
held that said certification could not be accorded probative value. 36 The CA ruled
that there was sufficient testimonial and documentary evidence that Gloria and Syed

had been validly married and that there was compliance with all the requisites laid
down by law.37
It gave weight to the fact that Syed had admitted to having signed the marriage
contract. The CA also considered that the parties had comported themselves as
husband and wife, and that Syed only instituted his petition after Gloria had filed a
case against him for bigamy.38

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN


REVERSING AND SETTING ASIDE, WITHOUT ANY FACTUAL
AND LEGAL BASIS, THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT GRANTING THE PETITION FOR DECLARATION OF
NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.42
The Ruling of this Court

The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads as follows:

The petition is meritorious.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated


05 October 2005 and Order dated 27 January 2006 of the Regional Trial Court of
Pasay City, Branch 109, in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE and the Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage is DISMISSED. The
marriage between Shed [sic] Azhar Abbas and Gloria Goo Abbas contracted on 09
January 1993 remains valid and subsisting. No costs.

As the marriage of Gloria and Syed was solemnized on January 9, 1993, Executive
Order No. 209, or the Family Code of the Philippines, is the applicable law. The
pertinent provisions that would apply to this particular case are Articles 3, 4 and
35(3), which read as follows:
Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:

SO ORDERED.39

(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;

Syed then filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated April 1, 2008 40 but the same was
denied by the CA in a Resolution dated July 24, 2008.41

(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2
of this Title; and

Hence, this petition.

(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the
contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal
declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence
of not less than two witnesses of legal age.

Grounds in Support of Petition


I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS
ERROR OF LAW IN CITING REPUBLIC VS. COURT OF APPEALS
AS THE SAME IS DIAMETRICALLY INCONSISTENT AND
CONTRARY TO THE COURTS OWN FINDINGS AND
CONCLUSIONS IN THIS CASE.
II

Art. 4. The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the
marriage void ab initio, except as stated in Article 35(2).
A defect in any of the essential requisites shall render the marriage voidable as
provided in Article 45.
An irregularity in the formal requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage
but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and
administratively liable.

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
xxxx
(3) Those solemnized without a license, except those covered by the preceding
Chapter.
There is no issue with the essential requisites under Art. 2 of the Family Code, nor
with the formal requisites of the authority of the solemnizing officer and the conduct
of the marriage ceremony. Nor is the marriage one that is exempt from the
requirement of a valid marriage license under Chapter 2, Title I of the Family Code.
The resolution of this case, thus, hinges on whether or not a valid marriage license
had been issued for the couple. The RTC held that no valid marriage license had
been issued. The CA held that there was a valid marriage license.
We find the RTC to be correct in this instance.

documents, civil registrars are public officers charged with the duty, inter alia, of
maintaining a register book where they are required to enter all applications for
marriage licenses, including the names of the applicants, the date the marriage
license was issued and such other relevant data.44
The Court held in that case that the certification issued by the civil registrar enjoyed
probative value, as his duty was to maintain records of data relative to the issuance
of a marriage license.
The Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, where the marriage license of
Gloria and Syed was allegedly issued, issued a certification to the effect that no such
marriage license for Gloria and Syed was issued, and that the serial number of the
marriage license pertained to another couple, Arlindo Getalado and Myra
Mabilangan. A certified machine copy of Marriage License No. 9969967 was
presented, which was issued in Carmona, Cavite, and indeed, the names of Gloria
and Syed do not appear in the document.

Respondent Gloria failed to present the actual marriage license, or a copy thereof,
and relied on the marriage contract as well as the testimonies of her witnesses to
prove the existence of said license. To prove that no such license was issued, Syed
turned to the office of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite which had
allegedly issued said license. It was there that he requested certification that no such
license was issued. In the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals 43 such certification
was allowed, as permitted by Sec. 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, which reads:

In reversing the RTC, the CA focused on the wording of the certification, stating that
it did not comply with Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

SEC. 28. Proof of lack of record. A written statement signed by an officer having
the custody of an official record or by his deputy that after diligent search, no record
or entry of a specified tenor is found to exist in the records of his office,
accompanied by a certificate as above provided, is admissible as evidence that the
records of his office contain no such record or entry.

To justify that deduction, the CA cited the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals. 45 It
is worth noting that in that particular case, the Court, in sustaining the finding of the
lower court that a marriage license was lacking, relied on the Certification issued by
the Civil Registrar of Pasig, which merely stated that the alleged marriage license
could not be located as the same did not appear in their records. Nowhere in the
Certification was it categorically stated that the officer involved conducted a diligent
search, nor is a categorical declaration absolutely necessary for Sec. 28, Rule 132 of
the Rules of Court to apply.

In the case of Republic, in allowing the certification of the Civil Registrar of Pasig
to prove the non-issuance of a marriage license, the Court held:
The above Rule authorized the custodian of the documents to certify that despite
diligent search, a particular document does not exist in his office or that a particular
entry of a specified tenor was not to be found in a register. As custodians of public

The CA deduced that from the absence of the words "despite diligent search" in the
certification, and since the certification used stated that no marriage license appears
to have been issued, no diligent search had been conducted and thus the certification
could not be given probative value.

Under Sec. 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, it is a disputable presumption that
an official duty has been regularly performed, absent contradiction or other evidence
to the contrary. We held, "The presumption of regularity of official acts may be
rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a duty." 46 No

such affirmative evidence was shown that the Municipal Civil Registrar was lax in
performing her duty of checking the records of their office, thus the presumption
must stand. In fact, proof does exist of a diligent search having been conducted, as
Marriage License No. 996967 was indeed located and submitted to the court. The
fact that the names in said license do not correspond to those of Gloria and Syed
does not overturn the presumption that the registrar conducted a diligent search of
the records of her office.
It is telling that Gloria failed to present their marriage license or a copy thereof to
the court. She failed to explain why the marriage license was secured in Carmona,
Cavite, a location where, admittedly, neither party resided. She took no pains to
apply for the license, so she is not the best witness to testify to the validity and
existence of said license. Neither could the other witnesses she presented prove the
existence of the marriage license, as none of them applied for the license in
Carmona, Cavite. Her mother, Felicitas Goo, could not even testify as to the contents
of the license, having admitted to not reading all of its contents. Atty. Sanchez, one
of the sponsors, whom Gloria and Felicitas Goo approached for assistance in
securing the license, admitted not knowing where the license came from. The task of
applying for the license was delegated to a certain Qualin, who could have testified
as to how the license was secured and thus impeached the certification of the
Municipal Civil Registrar as well as the testimony of her representative. As Gloria
failed to present this Qualin, the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar still
enjoys probative value.
It is also noted that the solemnizing officer testified that the marriage contract and a
copy of the marriage license were submitted to the Local Civil Registrar of Manila.
Thus, a copy of the marriage license could have simply been secured from that
office and submitted to the court. However, Gloria inexplicably failed to do so,
further weakening her claim that there was a valid marriage license issued for her
and Syed.
In the case of Cario v. Cario,47 following the case of Republic,48 it was held that
the certification of the Local Civil Registrar that their office had no record of a
marriage license was adequate to prove the non-issuance of said license. The case of
Cario further held that the presumed validity of the marriage of the parties had been
overcome, and that it became the burden of the party alleging a valid marriage to
prove that the marriage was valid, and that the required marriage license had been
secured.49 Gloria has failed to discharge that burden, and the only conclusion that

can be reached is that no valid marriage license was issued. It cannot be said that
there was a simple irregularity in the marriage license that would not affect the
validity of the marriage, as no license was presented by the respondent. No marriage
license was proven to have been issued to Gloria and Syed, based on the
certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite and Glorias
failure to produce a copy of the alleged marriage license.
To bolster its ruling, the CA cited other evidence to support its conclusion that
Gloria and Syed were validly married. To quote the CA:
Moreover, the record is replete with evidence, testimonial and documentary, that
appellant and appellee have been validly married and there was compliance with all
the requisites laid down by law. Both parties are legally capacitated to marry. A
certificate of legal capacity was even issued by the Embassy of Pakistan in favor of
appellee. The parties herein gave their consent freely. Appellee admitted that the
signature above his name in the marriage contract was his. Several pictures were
presented showing appellant and appellee, before the solemnizing officer, the
witnesses and other members of appellants family, taken during the marriage
ceremony, as well as in the restaurant where the lunch was held after the marriage
ceremony. Most telling of all is Exhibit "5-C" which shows appellee signing the
Marriage Contract.
xxxx
The parties have comported themselves as husband and wife and has [sic] one
offspring, Aliea Fatima Goo Abbas, who was born on 15 June 1993. It took appellee
more than ten (10) years before he filed on 01 August 2003 his Petition for
Declaration of Nullity of Marriage under Article 4 of the Family Code. We take
serious note that said Petition appears to have been instituted by him only after an
Information for Bigamy (Exhibit "1") dated 10 January 2003 was filed against him
for contracting a second or subsequent marriage with one Ma. Corazon (Maryam) T.
Buenaventura. We are not ready to reward (appellee) by declaring the nullity of his
marriage and give him his freedom and in the process allow him to profit from his
own deceit and perfidy.50
All the evidence cited by the CA to show that a wedding ceremony was conducted
and a marriage contract was signed does not operate to cure the absence of a valid
marriage license. Article 4 of the Family Code is clear when it says, "The absence of

any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio,
except as stated in Article 35(2)." Article 35(3) of the Family Code also provides
that a marriage solemnized without a license is void from the beginning, except
those exempt from the license requirement under Articles 27 to 34, Chapter 2, Title I
of the same Code.51 Again, this marriage cannot be characterized as among the
exemptions, and thus, having been solemnized without a marriage license, is void ab
initio.1wphi1

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The


assailed Decision dated March 11, 2008 and Resolution dated July 24, 2008 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 86760 are hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 109, Pasay City dated
October 5, 2005 in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM annulling the marriage of
petitioner with respondent on January 9, 1993 is hereby REINSTATED.
No costs.

As to the motive of Syed in seeking to annul his marriage to Gloria, it may well be
that his motives are less than pure, that he seeks to evade a bigamy suit. Be that as it
may, the same does not make up for the failure of the respondent to prove that they
had a valid marriage license, given the weight of evidence presented by petitioner.
The lack of a valid marriage license cannot be attributed to him, as it was Gloria
who took steps to procure the same. The law must be applied. As the marriage
license, a formal requisite, is clearly absent, the marriage of Gloria and Syed is void
ab initio.

SO ORDERED.