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EE.M.

DELACRUZ, DMD

instead with the earthly representative, his estate. The clash has been SECOND DIVISION
for now interrupted by a trial court ruling, seemingly comported to legal [G.R. No. 139325. April 12, 2005]
logic, that required the petitioners to pay a whopping filing fee of over
Four Hundred Seventy-Two Million Pesos (P472,000,000.00) in order PRISCILLA C. MIJARES, LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES, HILDA B.
that they be able to enforce a judgment awarded them by a foreign court. NARCISO, SR. MARIANI DIMARANAN, SFIC, and JOEL C.
There is an understandable temptation to cast the struggle within the LAMANGAN in their behalf and on behalf of the Class Plaintiffs in
simplistic confines of a morality tale, and to employ short-cuts to arrive at Class Action No. MDL 840, United States District Court of Hawaii,
what might seem the desirable solution. But easy, reflexive resort to the petitioners, vs. HON. SANTIAGO JAVIER RANADA, in his capacity
equity principle all too often leads to a result that may be morally correct, as Presiding Judge of Branch 137, Regional Trial Court, Makati City,
but legally wrong. and the ESTATE OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS, through its court
appointed legal representatives in Class Action MDL 840, United
Nonetheless, the application of the legal principles involved in this case States District Court of Hawaii, namely: Imelda R. Marcos and
will comfort those who maintain that our substantive and procedural Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., respondents.
laws, for all their perceived ambiguity and susceptibility to myriad DECISION
interpretations, are inherently fair and just. The relief sought by the TINGA, J.:
petitioners is expressly mandated by our laws and conforms to
established legal principles. The granting of this petition for certiorari is Our martial law experience bore strange unwanted fruits, and we have
warranted in order to correct the legally infirm and unabashedly unjust yet to finish weeding out its bitter crop. While the restoration of freedom
ruling of the respondent judge. and the fundamental structures and processes of democracy have been
much lauded, according to a significant number, the changes, however,
The essential facts bear little elaboration. On 9 May 1991, a complaint have not sufficiently healed the colossal damage wrought under the
was filed with the United States District Court (US District Court), District oppressive conditions of the martial law period. The cries of justice for
of Hawaii, against the Estate of former Philippine President Ferdinand E. the tortured, the murdered, and the desaparecidos arouse outrage and
Marcos (Marcos Estate). The action was brought forth by ten Filipino sympathy in the hearts of the fair-minded, yet the dispensation of the
citizens[2] who each alleged having suffered human rights abuses such appropriate relief due them cannot be extended through the same
as arbitrary detention, torture and rape in the hands of police or military caprice or whim that characterized the ill-wind of martial rule. The
forces during the Marcos regime.[3] The Alien Tort Act was invoked as damage done was not merely personal but institutional, and the proper
basis for the US District Courts jurisdiction over the complaint, as it rebuke to the iniquitous past has to involve the award of reparations due
involved a suit by aliens for tortious violations of international law.[4] within the confines of the restored rule of law.
These plaintiffs brought the action on their own behalf and on behalf of a
class of similarly situated individuals, particularly consisting of all current The petitioners in this case are prominent victims of human rights
civilian citizens of the Philippines, their heirs and beneficiaries, who violations[1] who, deprived of the opportunity to directly confront the man
between 1972 and 1987 were tortured, summarily executed or had who once held absolute rule over this country, have chosen to do battle
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

alleged that petitioners had only paid Four Hundred Ten Pesos disappeared while in the custody of military or paramilitary groups.
(P410.00) as docket and filing fees, notwithstanding the fact that they Plaintiffs alleged that the class consisted of approximately ten thousand
sought to enforce a monetary amount of damages in the amount of over (10,000) members; hence, joinder of all these persons was
Two and a Quarter Billion US Dollars (US$2.25 Billion). The Marcos impracticable.
Estate cited Supreme Court Circular No. 7, pertaining to the proper
computation and payment of docket fees. In response, the petitioners The institution of a class action suit was warranted under Rule 23(a) and
claimed that an action for the enforcement of a foreign judgment is not (b)(1)(B) of the US Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the provisions of
capable of pecuniary estimation; hence, a filing fee of only Four Hundred which were invoked by the plaintiffs. Subsequently, the US District Court
Ten Pesos (P410.00) was proper, pursuant to Section 7(c) of Rule 141. certified the case as a class action and created three (3) sub-classes of
[9] torture, summary execution and disappearance victims.[5] Trial ensued,
and subsequently a jury rendered a verdict and an award of
On 9 September 1998, respondent Judge Santiago Javier Ranada[10] of compensatory and exemplary damages in favor of the plaintiff class.
the Makati RTC issued the subject Order dismissing the complaint Then, on 3 February 1995, the US District Court, presided by Judge
without prejudice. Respondent judge opined that contrary to the Manuel L. Real, rendered a Final Judgment (Final Judgment) awarding
petitioners submission, the subject matter of the complaint was indeed the plaintiff class a total of One Billion Nine Hundred Sixty Four Million
capable of pecuniary estimation, as it involved a judgment rendered by a Five Thousand Eight Hundred Fifty Nine Dollars and Ninety Cents
foreign court ordering the payment of definite sums of money, allowing ($1,964,005,859.90). The Final Judgment was eventually affirmed by the
for easy determination of the value of the foreign judgment. On that US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in a decision rendered on 17
score, Section 7(a) of Rule 141 of the Rules of Civil Procedure would December 1996.[6]
find application, and the RTC estimated the proper amount of filing fees
was approximately Four Hundred Seventy Two Million Pesos, which On 20 May 1997, the present petitioners filed Complaint with the
obviously had not been paid. Regional Trial Court, City of Makati (Makati RTC) for the enforcement of
the Final Judgment. They alleged that they are members of the plaintiff
Not surprisingly, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which class in whose favor the US District Court awarded damages.[7] They
Judge Ranada denied in an Order dated 28 July 1999. From this denial, argued that since the Marcos Estate failed to file a petition for certiorari
petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 assailing the twin with the US Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had
orders of respondent judge.[11] They prayed for the annulment of the affirmed the Final Judgment, the decision of the US District Court had
questioned orders, and an order directing the reinstatement of Civil Case become final and executory, and hence should be recognized and
No. 97-1052 and the conduct of appropriate proceedings thereon. enforced in the Philippines, pursuant to Section 50, Rule 39 of the Rules
of Court then in force.[8]
Petitioners submit that their action is incapable of pecuniary estimation
as the subject matter of the suit is the enforcement of a foreign On 5 February 1998, the Marcos Estate filed a motion to dismiss,
judgment, and not an action for the collection of a sum of money or raising, among others, the non-payment of the correct filing fees. It
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

An examination of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court readily evinces that the recovery of damages. They also point out that to require the class
respondent judge ignored the clear letter of the law when he concluded plaintiffs to pay Four Hundred Seventy Two Million Pesos
that the filing fee be computed based on the total sum claimed or the (P472,000,000.00) in filing fees would negate and render inutile the
stated value of the property in litigation. liberal construction ordained by the Rules of Court, as required by
Section 6, Rule 1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, particularly the
In dismissing the complaint, the respondent judge relied on Section 7(a), inexpensive disposition of every action.
Rule 141 as basis for the computation of the filing fee of over P472
Million. The provision states: Petitioners invoke Section 11, Article III of the Bill of Rights of the
Constitution, which provides that Free access to the courts and quasi-
SEC. 7. Clerk of Regional Trial Court.- judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any
person by reason of poverty, a mandate which is essentially defeated by
(a) For filing an action or a permissive counterclaim or money claim the required exorbitant filing fee. The adjudicated amount of the filing
against an estate not based on judgment, or for filing with leave of court fee, as arrived at by the RTC, was characterized as indisputably unfair,
a third-party, fourth-party, etc., complaint, or a complaint in intervention, inequitable, and unjust.
and for all clerical services in the same time, if the total sum claimed,
exclusive of interest, or the started value of the property in litigation, is: The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was permitted to intervene in
this case.[12] It urged that the petition be granted and a judgment
1. Less than P 100,00.00 P 500.00 rendered, ordering the enforcement and execution of the District Court
2. P 100,000.00 or more - P 800.00 judgment in accordance with Section 48, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of
but less than P 150,000.00 Civil Procedure. For the CHR, the Makati RTC erred in interpreting the
3. P 150,000.00 or more but - P 1,000.00 action for the execution of a foreign judgment as a new case, in violation
less than P 200,000.00 of the principle that once a case has been decided between the same
4. P 200,000.00 or more but parties in one country on the same issue with finality, it can no longer be
less than P 250,000.00 - P 1,500.00 relitigated again in another country.[13] The CHR likewise invokes the
5. P 250,000.00 or more but principle of comity, and of vested rights.
less than P 300,00.00 - P 1,750.00
6. P 300,000.00 or more but The Courts disposition on the issue of filing fees will prove a useful
not more than P 400,000.00 - P 2,000.00 jurisprudential guidepost for courts confronted with actions enforcing
7. P 350,000.00 or more but not foreign judgments, particularly those lodged against an estate. There is
more than P400,000.00 - P 2,250.00 no basis for the issuance a limited pro hac vice ruling based on the
8. For each P 1,000.00 in excess of special circumstances of the petitioners as victims of martial law, or on
P 400,000.00 - P 10.00 the emotionally-charged allegation of human rights abuses.
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

...
1. Actions where the value
of the subject matter (Emphasis supplied)
cannot be estimated --- P 600.00
Obviously, the above-quoted provision covers, on one hand, ordinary
2. Special civil actions except actions, permissive counterclaims, third-party, etc. complaints and
judicial foreclosure which complaints-in-interventions, and on the other, money claims against
shall be governed by estates which are not based on judgment. Thus, the relevant question for
paragraph (a) above --- P 600.00 purposes of the present petition is whether the action filed with the lower
court is a money claim against an estate not based on judgment.
3. All other actions not
involving property --- P 600.00 Petitioners complaint may have been lodged against an estate, but it is
clearly based on a judgment, the Final Judgment of the US District
In a real action, the assessed value of the property, or if there is none, Court. The provision does not make any distinction between a local
the estimated value, thereof shall be alleged by the claimant and shall be judgment and a foreign judgment, and where the law does not
the basis in computing the fees. distinguish, we shall not distinguish.

It is worth noting that the provision also provides that in real actions, the A reading of Section 7 in its entirety reveals several instances wherein
assessed value or estimated value of the property shall be alleged by the filing fee is computed on the basis of the amount of the relief sought,
the claimant and shall be the basis in computing the fees. Yet again, this or on the value of the property in litigation. The filing fee for requests for
provision does not apply in the case at bar. A real action is one where extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage is based on the amount of
the plaintiff seeks the recovery of real property or an action affecting title indebtedness or the mortgagees claim.[14] In special proceedings
to or recovery of possession of real property.[16] Neither the complaint involving properties such as for the allowance of wills, the filing fee is
nor the award of damages adjudicated by the US District Court involves again based on the value of the property.[15] The aforecited rules
any real property of the Marcos Estate. evidently have no application to petitioners complaint.

Thus, respondent judge was in clear and serious error when he Petitioners rely on Section 7(b), particularly the proviso on actions where
concluded that the filing fees should be computed on the basis of the the value of the subject matter cannot be estimated. The provision reads
schematic table of Section 7(a), as the action involved pertains to a in full:
claim against an estate based on judgment. What provision, if any, then
should apply in determining the filing fees for an action to enforce a SEC. 7. Clerk of Regional Trial Court.-
foreign judgment?
(b) For filing
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

There is an evident distinction between a foreign judgment in an action in To resolve this question, a proper understanding is required on the
rem and one in personam. For an action in rem, the foreign judgment is nature and effects of a foreign judgment in this jurisdiction.
deemed conclusive upon the title to the thing, while in an action in
personam, the foreign judgment is presumptive, and not conclusive, of a The rules of comity, utility and convenience of nations have established a
right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a usage among civilized states by which final judgments of foreign courts
subsequent title.[21] However, in both cases, the foreign judgment is of competent jurisdiction are reciprocally respected and rendered
susceptible to impeachment in our local courts on the grounds of want of efficacious under certain conditions that may vary in different countries.
jurisdiction or notice to the party,[22] collusion, fraud,[23] or clear [17] This principle was prominently affirmed in the leading American
mistake of law or fact.[24] Thus, the party aggrieved by the foreign case of Hilton v. Guyot[18] and expressly recognized in our
judgment is entitled to defend against the enforcement of such decision jurisprudence beginning with Ingenholl v. Walter E. Olsen & Co.[19] The
in the local forum. It is essential that there should be an opportunity to conditions required by the Philippines for recognition and enforcement of
challenge the foreign judgment, in order for the court in this jurisdiction to a foreign judgment were originally contained in Section 311 of the Code
properly determine its efficacy.[25] of Civil Procedure, which was taken from the California Code of Civil
Procedure which, in turn, was derived from the California Act of March
It is clear then that it is usually necessary for an action to be filed in order 11, 1872.[20] Remarkably, the procedural rule now outlined in Section
to enforce a foreign judgment[26], even if such judgment has conclusive 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Civil Procedure has remained unchanged
effect as in the case of in rem actions, if only for the purpose of allowing down to the last word in nearly a century. Section 48 states:
the losing party an opportunity to challenge the foreign judgment, and in
order for the court to properly determine its efficacy.[27] Consequently, SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments. The effect of a judgment of a
the party attacking a foreign judgment has the burden of overcoming the tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to pronounce the
presumption of its validity.[28] judgment is as follows:

The rules are silent as to what initiatory procedure must be undertaken (a) In case of a judgment upon a specific thing, the judgment is
in order to enforce a foreign judgment in the Philippines. But there is no conclusive upon the title to the thing;
question that the filing of a civil complaint is an appropriate measure for
such purpose. A civil action is one by which a party sues another for the (b) In case of a judgment against a person, the judgment is presumptive
enforcement or protection of a right,[29] and clearly an action to enforce evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in
a foreign judgment is in essence a vindication of a right prescinding interest by a subsequent title;
either from a conclusive judgment upon title or the presumptive evidence
of a right.[30] Absent perhaps a statutory grant of jurisdiction to a quasi- In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence
judicial body, the claim for enforcement of judgment must be brought of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or
before the regular courts.[31] clear mistake of law or fact.
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

law: rest and quietness.[33] If every judgment of a foreign court were There are distinctions, nuanced but discernible, between the cause of
reviewable on the merits, the plaintiff would be forced back on his/her action arising from the enforcement of a foreign judgment, and that
original cause of action, rendering immaterial the previously concluded arising from the facts or allegations that occasioned the foreign
litigation.[34] judgment. They may pertain to the same set of facts, but there is an
essential difference in the right-duty correlatives that are sought to be
Petitioners appreciate this distinction, and rely upon it to support the vindicated. For example, in a complaint for damages against a tortfeasor,
proposition that the subject matter of the complaintthe enforcement of a the cause of action emanates from the violation of the right of the
foreign judgmentis incapable of pecuniary estimation. Admittedly the complainant through the act or omission of the respondent. On the other
proposition, as it applies in this case, is counter-intuitive, and thus hand, in a complaint for the enforcement of a foreign judgment awarding
deserves strict scrutiny. For in all practical intents and purposes, the damages from the same tortfeasor, for the violation of the same right
matter at hand is capable of pecuniary estimation, down to the last cent. through the same manner of action, the cause of action derives not from
In the assailed Order, the respondent judge pounced upon this point the tortious act but from the foreign judgment itself.
without equivocation:
More importantly, the matters for proof are different. Using the above
The Rules use the term where the value of the subject matter cannot be example, the complainant will have to establish before the court the
estimated. The subject matter of the present case is the judgment tortious act or omission committed by the tortfeasor, who in turn is
rendered by the foreign court ordering defendant to pay plaintiffs definite allowed to rebut these factual allegations or prove extenuating
sums of money, as and for compensatory damages. The Court finds that circumstances. Extensive litigation is thus conducted on the facts, and
the value of the foreign judgment can be estimated; indeed, it can even from there the right to and amount of damages are assessed. On the
be easily determined. The Court is not minded to distinguish between other hand, in an action to enforce a foreign judgment, the matter left for
the enforcement of a judgment and the amount of said judgment, and proof is the foreign judgment itself, and not the facts from which it
separate the two, for purposes of determining the correct filing fees. prescinds.
Similarly, a plaintiff suing on promissory note for P1 million cannot be
allowed to pay only P400 filing fees (sic), on the reasoning that the As stated in Section 48, Rule 39, the actionable issues are generally
subject matter of his suit is not the P1 million, but the enforcement of the restricted to a review of jurisdiction of the foreign court, the service of
promissory note, and that the value of such enforcement cannot be personal notice, collusion, fraud, or mistake of fact or law. The limitations
estimated.[35] on review is in consonance with a strong and pervasive policy in all legal
systems to limit repetitive litigation on claims and issues.[32] Otherwise
The jurisprudential standard in gauging whether the subject matter of an known as the policy of preclusion, it seeks to protect party expectations
action is capable of pecuniary estimation is well-entrenched. The Marcos resulting from previous litigation, to safeguard against the harassment of
Estate cites Singsong v. Isabela Sawmill and Raymundo v. Court of defendants, to insure that the task of courts not be increased by never-
Appeals, which ruled: ending litigation of the same disputes, and in a larger sense to promote
what Lord Coke in the Ferrers Case of 1599 stated to be the goal of all
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

[44] It is urged that an action for enforcement of a foreign judgment [I]n determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which is
belongs to the same class. not capable of pecuniary estimation this Court has adopted the criterion
of first ascertaining the nature of the principal action or remedy sought. If
This is an intriguing argument, but ultimately it is self-evident that while it is primarily for the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered
the subject matter of the action is undoubtedly the enforcement of a capable of pecuniary estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the
foreign judgment, the effect of a providential award would be the municipal courts or in the courts of first instance would depend on the
adjudication of a sum of money. Perhaps in theory, such an action is amount of the claim. However, where the basic issue is something other
primarily for the enforcement of the foreign judgment, but there is a than the right to recover a sum of money, where the money claim is
certain obtuseness to that sort of argument since there is no denying purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought, this
that the enforcement of the foreign judgment will necessarily result in the Court has considered such actions as cases where the subject of the
award of a definite sum of money. litigation may not be estimated in terms of money, and are cognizable
exclusively by courts of first instance (now Regional Trial Courts).
But before we insist upon this conclusion past beyond the point of
reckoning, we must examine its possible ramifications. Petitioners raise On the other hand, petitioners cite the ponencia of Justice JBL Reyes in
the point that a declaration that an action for enforcement of foreign Lapitan v. Scandia,[36] from which the rule in Singsong and Raymundo
judgment may be capable of pecuniary estimation might lead to an actually derives, but which incorporates this additional nuance omitted in
instance wherein a first level court such as the Municipal Trial Court the latter cases:
would have jurisdiction to enforce a foreign judgment. But under the
statute defining the jurisdiction of first level courts, B.P. 129, such courts xxx However, where the basic issue is something other than the right to
are not vested with jurisdiction over actions for the enforcement of recover a sum of money, where the money claim is purely incidental to,
foreign judgments. or a consequence of, the principal relief sought, like in suits to have the
defendant perform his part of the contract (specific performance) and in
Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts actions for support, or for annulment of judgment or to foreclose a
and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in civil cases. Metropolitan Trial mortgage, this Court has considered such actions as cases where the
Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall subject of the litigation may not be estimated in terms of money, and are
exercise: cognizable exclusively by courts of first instance.[37]

(1) Exclusive original jurisdiction over civil actions and probate Petitioners go on to add that among the actions the Court has
proceedings, testate and intestate, including the grant of provisional recognized as being incapable of pecuniary estimation include legality of
remedies in proper cases, where the value of the personal property, conveyances and money deposits,[38] validity of a mortgage,[39] the
estate, or amount of the demand does not exceed One hundred right to support,[40] validity of documents,[41] rescission of contracts,
thousand pesos (P100,000.00) or, in Metro Manila where such personal [42] specific performance,[43] and validity or annulment of judgments.
property, estate, or amount of the demand does not exceed Two hundred
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

An examination of Section 19(6), B.P. 129 reveals that the instant thousand pesos (P200,000.00) exclusive of interest damages of
complaint for enforcement of a foreign judgment, even if capable of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses, and costs, the
pecuniary estimation, would fall under the jurisdiction of the Regional amount of which must be specifically alleged: Provided, That where
Trial Courts, thus negating the fears of the petitioners. Indeed, an there are several claims or causes of action between the same or
examination of the provision indicates that it can be relied upon as different parties, embodied in the same complaint, the amount of the
jurisdictional basis with respect to actions for enforcement of foreign demand shall be the totality of the claims in all the causes of action,
judgments, provided that no other court or office is vested jurisdiction irrespective of whether the causes of action arose out of the same or
over such complaint: different transactions;

Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise (2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over cases of forcible entry and
exclusive original jurisdiction: unlawful detainer: Provided, That when, in such cases, the defendant
raises the question of ownership in his pleadings and the question of
xxx possession cannot be resolved without deciding the issue of ownership,
the issue of ownership shall be resolved only to determine the issue of
(6) In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, possession.
person or body exercising jurisdiction or any court, tribunal, person or
body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions. (3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to,
or possession of, real property, or any interest therein where the
Thus, we are comfortable in asserting the obvious, that the complaint to assessed value of the property or interest therein does not exceed
enforce the US District Court judgment is one capable of pecuniary Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila,
estimation. But at the same time, it is also an action based on judgment where such assessed value does not exceed Fifty thousand pesos
against an estate, thus placing it beyond the ambit of Section 7(a) of (P50,000.00) exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's
Rule 141. What provision then governs the proper computation of the fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That value of such
filing fees over the instant complaint? For this case and other similarly property shall be determined by the assessed value of the adjacent lots.
situated instances, we find that it is covered by Section 7(b)(3), involving [45]
as it does, other actions not involving property.
Section 33 of B.P. 129 refers to instances wherein the cause of action or
Notably, the amount paid as docket fees by the petitioners on the subject matter pertains to an assertion of rights and interests over
premise that it was an action incapable of pecuniary estimation property or a sum of money. But as earlier pointed out, the subject
corresponds to the same amount required for other actions not involving matter of an action to enforce a foreign judgment is the foreign judgment
property. The petitioners thus paid the correct amount of filing fees, and itself, and the cause of action arising from the adjudication of such
it was a grave abuse of discretion for respondent judge to have applied judgment.
instead a clearly inapplicable rule and dismissed the complaint.
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

rendering it obligatory force, there is consensus that the viability of such


recognition and enforcement is essential. Steiner and Vagts note: There is another consideration of supreme relevance in this case, one
which should disabuse the notion that the doctrine affirmed in this
. . . The notion of unconnected bodies of national law on private decision is grounded solely on the letter of the procedural rule. We
international law, each following a quite separate path, is not one earlier adverted to the the internationally recognized policy of preclusion,
conducive to the growth of a transnational community encouraging travel [46] as well as the principles of comity, utility and convenience of
and commerce among its members. There is a contemporary nations[47] as the basis for the evolution of the rule calling for the
resurgence of writing stressing the identity or similarity of the values that recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. The US Supreme
systems of public and private international law seek to further a Court in Hilton v. Guyot[48] relied heavily on the concept of comity, as
community interest in common, or at least reasonable, rules on these especially derived from the landmark treatise of Justice Story in his
matters in national legal systems. And such generic principles as Commentaries on the Conflict of Laws of 1834.[49] Yet the notion of
reciprocity play an important role in both fields.[57] comity has since been criticized as one of dim contours[50] or suffering
from a number of fallacies.[51] Other conceptual bases for the
Salonga, whose treatise on private international law is of worldwide recognition of foreign judgments have evolved such as the vested rights
renown, points out: theory or the modern doctrine of obligation.[52]

Whatever be the theory as to the basis for recognizing foreign There have been attempts to codify through treaties or multilateral
judgments, there can be little dispute that the end is to protect the agreements the standards for the recognition and enforcement of foreign
reasonable expectations and demands of the parties. Where the parties judgments, but these have not borne fruition. The members of the
have submitted a matter for adjudication in the court of one state, and European Common Market accede to the Judgments Convention, signed
proceedings there are not tainted with irregularity, they may fairly be in 1978, which eliminates as to participating countries all of such
expected to submit, within the state or elsewhere, to the enforcement of obstacles to recognition such as reciprocity and rvision au fond.[53] The
the judgment issued by the court.[58] most ambitious of these attempts is the Convention on the Recognition
and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters,
There is also consensus as to the requisites for recognition of a foreign prepared in 1966 by the Hague Conference of International Law.[54]
judgment and the defenses against the enforcement thereof. As earlier While it has not received the ratifications needed to have it take effect,
discussed, the exceptions enumerated in Section 48, Rule 39 have [55] it is recognized as representing current scholarly thought on the
remain unchanged since the time they were adapted in this jurisdiction topic.[56] Neither the Philippines nor the United States are signatories to
from long standing American rules. The requisites and exceptions as the Convention.
delineated under Section 48 are but a restatement of generally accepted
principles of international law. Section 98 of The Restatement, Second, Yet even if there is no unanimity as to the applicable theory behind the
Conflict of Laws, states that a valid judgment rendered in a foreign nation recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments or a universal treaty
after a fair trial in a contested proceeding will be recognized in the United
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

opinion juris sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). Implicit in States, and on its face, the term valid brings into play requirements such
the latter element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered notions as valid jurisdiction over the subject matter and parties.[59]
obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it.[67] Similarly, the notion that fraud or collusion may preclude the enforcement
of a foreign judgment finds affirmation with foreign jurisprudence and
While the definite conceptual parameters of the recognition and commentators,[60] as well as the doctrine that the foreign judgment must
enforcement of foreign judgments have not been authoritatively not constitute a clear mistake of law or fact.[61] And finally, it has been
established, the Court can assert with certainty that such an undertaking recognized that public policy as a defense to the recognition of
is among those generally accepted principles of international law.[68] As judgments serves as an umbrella for a variety of concerns in
earlier demonstrated, there is a widespread practice among states international practice which may lead to a denial of recognition.[62]
accepting in principle the need for such recognition and enforcement,
albeit subject to limitations of varying degrees. The fact that there is no The viability of the public policy defense against the enforcement of a
binding universal treaty governing the practice is not indicative of a foreign judgment has been recognized in this jurisdiction.[63] This
widespread rejection of the principle, but only a disagreement as to the defense allows for the application of local standards in reviewing the
imposable specific rules governing the procedure for recognition and foreign judgment, especially when such judgment creates only a
enforcement. presumptive right, as it does in cases wherein the judgment is against a
person.[64] The defense is also recognized within the international
Aside from the widespread practice, it is indubitable that the procedure sphere, as many civil law nations adhere to a broad public policy
for recognition and enforcement is embodied in the rules of law, whether exception which may result in a denial of recognition when the foreign
statutory or jurisprudential, adopted in various foreign jurisdictions. In the court, in the light of the choice-of-law rules of the recognizing court,
Philippines, this is evidenced primarily by Section 48, Rule 39 of the applied the wrong law to the case.[65] The public policy defense can
Rules of Court which has existed in its current form since the early safeguard against possible abuses to the easy resort to offshore
1900s. Certainly, the Philippine legal system has long ago accepted into litigation if it can be demonstrated that the original claim is noxious to our
its jurisprudence and procedural rules the viability of an action for constitutional values.
enforcement of foreign judgment, as well as the requisites for such valid
enforcement, as derived from internationally accepted doctrines. Again, There is no obligatory rule derived from treaties or conventions that
there may be distinctions as to the rules adopted by each particular requires the Philippines to recognize foreign judgments, or allow a
state,[69] but they all prescind from the premise that there is a rule of law procedure for the enforcement thereof. However, generally accepted
obliging states to allow for, however generally, the recognition and principles of international law, by virtue of the incorporation clause of the
enforcement of a foreign judgment. The bare principle, to our mind, has Constitution, form part of the laws of the land even if they do not derive
attained the status of opinio juris in international practice. from treaty obligations.[66] The classical formulation in international law
sees those customary rules accepted as binding result from the
This is a significant proposition, as it acknowledges that the procedure combination two elements: the established, widespread, and consistent
and requisites outlined in Section 48, Rule 39 derive their efficacy not practice on the part of States; and a psychological element known as the
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

merely from the procedural rule, but by virtue of the incorporation clause
As crafted, Rule 141 of the Rules of Civil Procedure avoids of the Constitution. Rules of procedure are promulgated by the Supreme
unreasonableness, as it recognizes that the subject matter of an action Court,[70] and could very well be abrogated or revised by the high court
for enforcement of a foreign judgment is the foreign judgment itself, and itself. Yet the Supreme Court is obliged, as are all State components, to
not the right-duty correlatives that resulted in the foreign judgment. In obey the laws of the land, including generally accepted principles of
this particular circumstance, given that the complaint is lodged against international law which form part thereof, such as those ensuring the
an estate and is based on the US District Courts Final Judgment, this qualified recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments.[71]
foreign judgment may, for purposes of classification under the governing
procedural rule, be deemed as subsumed under Section 7(b)(3) of Rule Thus, relative to the enforcement of foreign judgments in the Philippines,
141, i.e., within the class of all other actions not involving property. Thus, it emerges that there is a general right recognized within our body of
only the blanket filing fee of minimal amount is required. laws, and affirmed by the Constitution, to seek recognition and
enforcement of foreign judgments, as well as a right to defend against
Finally, petitioners also invoke Section 11, Article III of the Constitution, such enforcement on the grounds of want of jurisdiction, want of notice
which states that [F]ree access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any person by
reason of poverty. Since the provision is among the guarantees ensured The preclusion of an action for enforcement of a foreign judgment in this
by the Bill of Rights, it certainly gives rise to a demandable right. country merely due to an exhorbitant assessment of docket fees is alien
However, now is not the occasion to elaborate on the parameters of this to generally accepted practices and principles in international law.
constitutional right. Given our preceding discussion, it is not necessary to Indeed, there are grave concerns in conditioning the amount of the filing
utilize this provision in order to grant the relief sought by the petitioners. fee on the pecuniary award or the value of the property subject of the
It is axiomatic that the constitutionality of an act will not be resolved by foreign decision. Such pecuniary award will almost certainly be in foreign
the courts if the controversy can be settled on other grounds[73] or denomination, computed in accordance with the applicable laws and
unless the resolution thereof is indispensable for the determination of the standards of the forum.[72] The vagaries of inflation, as well as the
case.[74] relative low-income capacity of the Filipino, to date may very well
translate into an award virtually unenforceable in this country, despite its
One more word. It bears noting that Section 48, Rule 39 acknowledges integral validity, if the docket fees for the enforcement thereof were
that the Final Judgment is not conclusive yet, but presumptive evidence predicated on the amount of the award sought to be enforced. The
of a right of the petitioners against the Marcos Estate. Moreover, the theory adopted by respondent judge and the Marcos Estate may even
Marcos Estate is not precluded to present evidence, if any, of want of lead to absurdities, such as if applied to an award involving real property
jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake situated in places such as the United States or Scandinavia where real
of law or fact. This ruling, decisive as it is on the question of filing fees property values are inexorably high. We cannot very well require that the
and no other, does not render verdict on the enforceability of the Final filing fee be computed based on the value of the foreign property as
Judgment before the courts under the jurisdiction of the Philippines, or determined by the standards of the country where it is located.
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

The Case for that matter any other issue which may legitimately be presented
before the trial court. Such issues are to be litigated before the trial court,
This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial but within the confines of the matters for proof as laid down in Section
48, Rule 39. On the other hand, the speedy resolution of this claim by
Court (RTC), Branch 107, Quezon City, through a petition for
the trial court is encouraged, and contumacious delay of the decision on
review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court on a pure
the merits will not be brooked by this Court.
question of law. The petition assails the Order1 dated 31 January
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed orders
2011 of the RTC in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 and its Resolution are NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE, and a new order REINSTATING Civil
dated 2 March 2011 denying petitioners Motion for Case No. 97-1052 is hereby issued. No costs.
Reconsideration. The RTC dismissed the petition for Judicial
Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of G.R. No. 196049, June 26, 2013 - MINORU FUJIKI, Petitioner,
Marriage) based on improper venue and the lack of personality of v. MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA,
petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to file the petition. LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF QUEZON CITY, AND THE
ADMINISTRATOR AND CIVIL REGISTRAR GENERAL OF THE
The Facts NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE, Respondents.
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who
married respondent Maria Paz Galela Marinay (Marinay) in the SECOND DIVISION
Philippines2 on 23 January 2004. The marriage did not sit well
with petitioners parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his wife to G.R. No. 196049, June 26, 2013
Japan where he resides. Eventually, they lost contact with each
other. MINORU FUJIKI, Petitioner, v. MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY,
SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF QUEZON
In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara CITY, AND THE ADMINISTRATOR AND CIVIL REGISTRAR
(Maekara). Without the first marriage being dissolved, Marinay GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE,
and Maekara were married on 15 May 2008 in Quezon City, Respondents.
Philippines. Maekara brought Marinay to Japan. However,
Marinay allegedly suffered physical abuse from Maekara. She left DECISION
Maekara and started to contact Fujiki.3
CARPIO, J.:
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish
xxxx their relationship. In 2010, Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a
judgment from a family court in Japan which declared the
Sec. 4. Venue. The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of marriage between Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of
the province or city where the petitioner or the respondent has bigamy.4 On 14 January 2011, Fujiki filed a petition in the RTC
been residing for at least six months prior to the date of filing, or in entitled: Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of
the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in Absolute Nullity of Marriage). Fujiki prayed that (1) the Japanese
the Philippines, at the election of the petitioner. x x x Family Court judgment be recognized; (2) that the bigamous
marriage between Marinay and Maekara be declared void ab initio
The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in under Articles 35(4) and 41 of the Family Code of the
gross violation of the above provisions. The trial court based its Philippines;5 and (3) for the RTC to direct the Local Civil Registrar
dismissal on Section 5(4) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which of Quezon City to annotate the Japanese Family Court judgment
provides that [f]ailure to comply with any of the preceding on the Certificate of Marriage between Marinay and Maekara and
requirements may be a ground for immediate dismissal of the to endorse such annotation to the Office of the Administrator and
petition.8 Apparently, the RTC took the view that only the Civil Registrar General in the National Statistics Office (NSO).6
husband or the wife, in this case either Maekara or Marinay, can
file the petition to declare their marriage void, and not Fujiki. The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M. A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately
No. 02-11-10-SC contemplated ordinary civil actions for issued an Order dismissing the petition and withdrawing the case
declaration of nullity and annulment of marriage. Thus, A.M. No. from its active civil docket.7 The RTC cited the following
02-11-10-SC does not apply. A petition for recognition of foreign provisions of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
judgment is a special proceeding, which seeks to establish a Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-
status, a right or a particular fact,9 and not a civil action which is 10-SC):cralavvonlinelawlibrary
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 Sec. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void
sought to establish (1) the status and concomitant rights of Fujiki marriages.
and Marinay as husband and wife and (2) the fact of the rendition
of the Japanese Family Court judgment declaring the marriage (a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of
between Marinay and Maekara as void on the ground of bigamy. void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife.
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

sought (among others) to annotate the judgment of the Japanese The petitioner contended that the Japanese judgment was
Family Court on the certificate of marriage between Marinay and consistent with Article 35(4) of the Family Code of the
Maekara. Philippines11 on bigamy and was therefore entitled to recognition
by Philippine courts.12
Fujikis motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that
the trial court gravely erred when, on its own, it dismissed the In any case, it was also Fujikis view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
petition based on improper venue. Fujiki stated that the RTC may applied only to void marriages under Article 36 of the Family Code
be confusing the concept of venue with the concept of jurisdiction, on the ground of psychological incapacity.13 Thus, Section 2(a) of
because it is lack of jurisdiction which allows a court to dismiss a A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC provides that a petition for declaration of
case on its own. Fujiki cited Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate absolute nullity of void marriages may be filed solely by the
Court19 which held that the trial court cannot pre-empt the husband or the wife. To apply Section 2(a) in bigamy would be
defendants prerogative to object to the improper laying of the absurd because only the guilty parties would be permitted to sue.
venue by motu proprio dismissing the case.20 Moreover, In the words of Fujiki, [i]t is not, of course, difficult to realize that
petitioner alleged that the trial court should not have immediately the party interested in having a bigamous marriage declared a
dismissed the petition under Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC nullity would be the husband in the prior, pre-existing marriage.14
because he substantially complied with the provision. Fujiki had material interest and therefore the personality to nullify
a bigamous marriage.
On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioners motion for
reconsideration. In its Resolution, the RTC stated that A.M. No. Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries
02-11-10-SC applies because the petitioner, in effect, prays for a in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court is applicable. Rule 108
decree of absolute nullity of marriage.21 The trial court reiterated is the procedural implementation of the Civil Register Law (Act
its two grounds for dismissal, i.e. lack of personality to sue and No. 3753)15 in relation to Article 413 of the Civil Code.16 The
improper venue under Sections 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No. 02-11-10- Civil Register Law imposes a duty on the successful petitioner for
SC. The RTC considered Fujiki as a third person22 in the divorce or annulment of marriage to send a copy of the final
proceeding because he is not the husband in the decree of decree of the court to the local registrar of the municipality where
divorce issued by the Japanese Family Court, which he now the dissolved or annulled marriage was solemnized.17 Section 2
seeks to be judicially recognized, x x x.23 On the other hand, the of Rule 108 provides that entries in the civil registry relating to
RTC did not explain its ground of impropriety of venue. It only marriages, judgments of annulments of marriage and
said that [a]lthough the Court cited Sec. 4 (Venue) x x x as a judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning are
ground for dismissal of this case[,] it should be taken together with subject to cancellation or correction.18 The petition in the RTC
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

of the Solicitor General. Instead of a comment, the Solicitor the other ground cited by the Court x x x which is Sec. 2(a) x x
General filed a Manifestation and Motion.31 x.24

The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition
RTCs pronouncement that the petitioner failed to comply with x x based on Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City,
x A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC x x x be set aside and that the case be Negros Occidental.25 The Court in Braza ruled that [i]n a special
reinstated in the trial court for further proceedings.32 The Solicitor proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or
General argued that Fujiki, as the spouse of the first marriage, is Correction of Entries in the Original Registry), the trial court has
an injured party who can sue to declare the bigamous marriage no jurisdiction to nullify marriages x x x.26 Braza emphasized
between Marinay and Maekara void. The Solicitor General cited that the validity of marriages as well as legitimacy and filiation
Juliano-Llave v. Republic33 which held that Section 2(a) of A.M. can be questioned only in a direct action seasonably filed by the
No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in cases of bigamy. In Juliano- proper party, and not through a collateral attack such as [a]
Llave, this Court explained:cralavvonlinelawlibrary petition [for correction of entry] x x x.27

[t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the
or she had only discovered during the connubial period that the validity of marriage between Marinay and Maekara. The trial court
marriage was bigamous, and especially if the conjugal bliss had held that this is a jurisdictional ground to dismiss the petition.28
already vanished. Should parties in a subsequent marriage Moreover, the verification and certification against forum shopping
benefit from the bigamous marriage, it would not be expected that of the petition was not authenticated as required under Section
they would file an action to declare the marriage void and thus, in 529 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. Hence, this also warranted the
such circumstance, the injured spouse who should be given a immediate dismissal of the petition under the same provision.
legal remedy is the one in a subsisting previous marriage. The
latter is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor General
only threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of and the Letters of Marinay and Maekara
the prior marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden
to the prior spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be a On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their
reminder of the infidelity of the spouse and the disregard of the comment on the petition for review.30 The public respondents, the
prior marriage which sanctity is protected by the Constitution.34 Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the Administrator and
Civil Registrar General of the NSO, participated through the Office
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

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

The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to
Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does comply with the directive for them to comment on the petition.42
not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment relating to Maekara wrote that Marinay concealed from him the fact that she
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

recognizing foreign judgments, which is to limit repetitive litigation the status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a
on claims and issues.57 The interpretation of the RTC is foreign country. Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v. Republic,47 this
tantamount to relitigating the case on the merits. In Mijares v. Court held that the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the
Raada,58 this Court explained that [i]f every judgment of a husband or wife can file a declaration of nullity or annulment of
foreign court were reviewable on the merits, the plaintiff would be marriage does not apply if the reason behind the petition is
forced back on his/her original cause of action, rendering bigamy.48
immaterial the previously concluded litigation.59
I.
A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the
civil status, condition and legal capacity of its parties. However, For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to
the effect of a foreign judgment is not automatic. To extend the the status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a
effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines, Philippine courts foreign country, the petitioner only needs to prove the foreign
must determine if the foreign judgment is consistent with domestic judgment as a fact under the Rules of Court. To be more specific,
public policy and other mandatory laws.60 Article 15 of the Civil a copy of the foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and
Code provides that [l]aws relating to family rights and duties, or to proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to
the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.49 Petitioner may
upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad. This prove the Japanese Family Court judgment through (1) an official
is the rule of lex nationalii in private international law. Thus, the publication or (2) a certification or copy attested by the officer who
Philippine State may require, for effectivity in the Philippines, has custody of the judgment. If the office which has custody is in a
recognition by Philippine courts of a foreign judgment affecting its foreign country such as Japan, the certification may be made by
citizen, over whom it exercises personal jurisdiction relating to the the proper diplomatic or consular officer of the Philippine foreign
status, condition and legal capacity of such citizen. service in Japan and authenticated by the seal of office.50

A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for
void does not require relitigation under a Philippine court of the recognition of foreign judgment would mean that the trial court
case as if it were a new petition for declaration of nullity of and the parties should follow its provisions, including the form and
marriage. Philippine courts cannot presume to know the foreign contents of the petition,51 the service of summons,52 the
laws under which the foreign judgment was rendered. They investigation of the public prosecutor,53 the setting of pre-trial,54
cannot substitute their judgment on the status, condition and legal the trial55 and the judgment of the trial court.56 This is absurd
capacity of the foreign citizen who is under the jurisdiction of because it will litigate the case anew. It will defeat the purpose of
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

Code, to capacitate a Filipino citizen to remarry when his or her another state. Thus, Philippine courts can only recognize the
foreign spouse obtained a divorce decree abroad.65 foreign judgment as a fact according to the rules of evidence.

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

limited instances68) his most intimate human relation, but also to special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of
protect his property interests that arise by operation of law the Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a
moment he contracts marriage.69 These property interests in particular fact.67
marriage include the right to be supported in keeping with the
financial capacity of the family70 and preserving the property Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court
regime of the marriage.71 states:cralavvonlinelawlibrary

Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the Sec. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act,
Constitution,72 but a spouses right in a marriage extends further event, order or decree concerning the civil status of persons which
to relational rights recognized under Title III (Rights and has been recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition
Obligations between Husband and Wife) of the Family Code.73 for the cancellation or correction of any entry relating thereto, with
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC cannot diminish, increase, or modify the the Regional Trial Court of the province where the corresponding
substantive right of the spouse to maintain the integrity of his civil registry is located. (Emphasis supplied)
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 Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the
to the husband or the wife of the union recognized by law. Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between
Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy because the
Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse judgment concerns his civil status as married to Marinay. For the
of a subsisting marriage to question the validity of a subsequent same reason he has the personality to file a petition under Rule
marriage on the ground of bigamy. On the contrary, when Section 108 to cancel the entry of marriage between Marinay and
2(a) states that [a] petition for declaration of absolute nullity of Maekara in the civil registry on the basis of the decree of the
void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife75 Japanese Family Court.
it refers to the husband or the wife of the subsisting marriage.
Under Article 35(4) of the Family Code, bigamous marriages are There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and
void from the beginning. Thus, the parties in a bigamous marriage material interest in maintaining the integrity of the marriage he
are neither the husband nor the wife under the law. The husband contracted and the property relations arising from it. There is also
or the wife of the prior subsisting marriage is the one who has the no doubt that he is interested in the cancellation of an entry of a
personality to file a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of bigamous marriage in the civil registry, which compromises the
void marriage under Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. public record of his marriage. The interest derives from the
substantive right of the spouse not only to preserve (or dissolve, in
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous
Occidental, this Court held that a trial court has no jurisdiction to marriages void from the beginning, is the civil aspect of Article
nullify marriages in a special proceeding for cancellation or 349 of the Revised Penal Code,76 which penalizes bigamy.
correction of entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.81 Thus, Bigamy is a public crime. Thus, anyone can initiate prosecution for
the validity of marriage[] x x x can be questioned only in a direct bigamy because any citizen has an interest in the prosecution and
action to nullify the marriage.82 The RTC relied on Braza in prevention of crimes.77 If anyone can file a criminal action which
dismissing the petition for recognition of foreign judgment as a leads to the declaration of nullity of a bigamous marriage,78 there
collateral attack on the marriage between Marinay and Maekara. is more reason to confer personality to sue on the husband or the
wife of a subsisting marriage. The prior spouse does not only
Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a share in the public interest of prosecuting and preventing crimes,
recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage he is also personally interested in the purely civil aspect of
where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country. protecting his marriage.

To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated,
the civil registry cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a the spouse is clearly an injured party and is therefore interested in
marriage. A direct action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the judgment of the suit.79Juliano-Llave ruled that the prior
the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the spouse is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage
Family Code, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. not only threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect
Among these safeguards are the requirement of proving the of the prior marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional
limited grounds for the dissolution of marriage,83 support burden to the prior spouse.80 Being a real party in interest, the
pendente lite of the spouses and children,84 the liquidation, prior spouse is entitled to sue in order to declare a bigamous
partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses,85 and marriage void. For this purpose, he can petition a court to
the investigation of the public prosecutor to determine collusion.86 recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the bigamous marriage
A direct action for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage and judicially declare as a fact that such judgment is effective in
is also necessary to prevent circumvention of the jurisdiction of the Philippines. Once established, there should be no more
the Family Courts under the Family Courts Act of 1997 (Republic impediment to cancel the entry of the bigamous marriage in the
Act No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or correction of entries civil registry.
in the civil registry may be filed in the Regional Trial Court where
the corresponding civil registry is located.87 In other words, a III.
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the mere
Filipino spouse89 under the laws of his or her country. The expedient of changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code only authorizes
Philippine courts to adopt the effects of a foreign divorce decree However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or
precisely because the Philippines does not allow divorce. cancellation of a civil registry entry based on the recognition of a
Philippine courts cannot try the case on the merits because it is foreign judgment annulling a marriage where one of the parties is
tantamount to trying a case for divorce. a citizen of the foreign country. There is neither circumvention of
the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under
The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure Philippine law, nor of the jurisdiction of Family Courts under R.A.
to address the anomaly that results from a marriage between a No. 8369. A recognition of a foreign judgment is not an action to
Filipino, whose laws do not allow divorce, and a foreign citizen, nullify a marriage. It is an action for Philippine courts to recognize
whose laws allow divorce. The anomaly consists in the Filipino the effectivity of a foreign judgment, which presupposes a case
spouse being tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free which was already tried and decided under foreign law. The
to marry under the laws of his or her country. The correction is procedure in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in a petition to
made by extending in the Philippines the effect of the foreign recognize a foreign judgment annulling a bigamous marriage
divorce decree, which is already effective in the country where it where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country. Neither
was rendered. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family can R.A. No. 8369 define the jurisdiction of the foreign court.
Code is based on this Courts decision in Van Dorn v. Romillo90
which declared that the Filipino spouse should not be Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine
discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are courts to extend the effect of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino
to be served.91 spouse without undergoing trial to determine the validity of the
dissolution of the marriage. The second paragraph of Article 26 of
The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a the Family Code provides that [w]here a marriage between a
marriage between a Filipino and a foreign citizen who obtains a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce
foreign judgment nullifying the marriage on the ground of bigamy. is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse
The Filipino spouse may file a petition abroad to declare the capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have
marriage void on the ground of bigamy. The principle in the capacity to remarry under Philippine law. In Republic v.
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code applies Orbecido,88 this Court recognized the legislative intent of the
because the foreign spouse, after the foreign judgment nullifying second paragraph of Article 26 which is to avoid the absurd
the marriage, is capacitated to remarry under the laws of his or situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

judgment relating to the status of a marriage involving a citizen of her country. If the foreign judgment is not recognized in the
a foreign country, Philippine courts only decide whether to extend Philippines, the Filipino spouse will be discriminatedthe foreign
its effect to the Filipino party, under the rule of lex nationalii spouse can remarry while the Filipino spouse cannot remarry.
expressed in Article 15 of the Civil Code.
Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,
For this purpose, Philippine courts will only determine (1) whether Philippine courts are empowered to correct a situation where the
the foreign judgment is inconsistent with an overriding public Filipino spouse is still tied to the marriage while the foreign
policy in the Philippines; and (2) whether any alleging party is able spouse is free to marry. Moreover, notwithstanding Article 26 of
to prove an extrinsic ground to repel the foreign judgment, i.e. the Family Code, Philippine courts already have jurisdiction to
want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines to the
clear mistake of law or fact. If there is neither inconsistency with extent that the foreign judgment does not contravene domestic
public policy nor adequate proof to repel the judgment, Philippine public policy. A critical difference between the case of a foreign
courts should, by default, recognize the foreign judgment as part divorce decree and a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous
of the comity of nations. Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of marriage is that bigamy, as a ground for the nullity of marriage, is
Court states that the foreign judgment is already presumptive fully consistent with Philippine public policy as expressed in Article
evidence of a right between the parties. Upon recognition of the 35(4) of the Family Code and Article 349 of the Revised Penal
foreign judgment, this right becomes conclusive and the judgment Code. The Filipino spouse has the option to undergo full trial by
serves as the basis for the correction or cancellation of entry in filing a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage under A.M. No.
the civil registry. The recognition of the foreign judgment nullifying 02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only remedy available to him or
a bigamous marriage is a subsequent event that establishes a her. Philippine courts have jurisdiction to recognize a foreign
new status, right and fact92 that needs to be reflected in the civil judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage, without prejudice to a
registry. Otherwise, there will be an inconsistency between the criminal prosecution for bigamy.
recognition of the effectivity of the foreign judgment and the public
records in the Philippines. In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are
incompetent to substitute their judgment on how a case was
However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a decided under foreign law. They cannot decide on the family
bigamous marriage is without prejudice to prosecution for bigamy rights and duties, or on the status, condition and legal capacity of
under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.93 The recognition the foreign citizen who is a party to the foreign judgment. Thus,
of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is not a Philippine courts are limited to the question of whether to extend
ground for extinction of criminal liability under Articles 89 and 94 the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines. In a foreign
EE.M.DELACRUZ, DMD

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Order dated 31 of the Revised Penal Code. Moreover, under Article 91 of the
January 2011 and the Resolution dated 2 March 2011 of the Revised Penal Code, [t]he term of prescription [of the crime of
Regional Trial Court, Branch 107, Quezon City, in Civil Case No. bigamy] shall not run when the offender is absent from the
Q-11-68582 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Philippine archipelago.
Court is ORDERED to REINSTATE the petition for further
proceedings in accordance with this Decision. 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
SO ORDERED. contents and form of the petition under Sections 4 and 5,
respectively, of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.
Brion, Del Castillo, Perez, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.