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Fictitious marriage

A LAW EACH DAY(Keeps Trouble Away) By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 7, 2014 -

The best proof of a marriage is the marriage contract or marriage certificate. But if the
entries therein are false especially regarding the identity of one of the parties, said
entries can be simply cancelled or corrected so as to show the inexistence of the
marriage. This is illustrated in this case of Ruth.
Ruth is one of the young adult career women trying to make good in her chosen profession with a well
paying job in a pharmaceutical company. But even while already working, she has also not forgotten her
love life. She met Randy and they became sweethearts. After five years of courtship, and convinced that
they were meant for each other, Ruth accepted Randy’s marriage proposal.

Before they can get married however, Ruth was required to get a certification from the National Statistics
Office (NSO) that she was still single, or what is known as the Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR).

To her surprise, Ruth discovered in the certificate issued to her by the NSO that she was already married
to a certain Kim Park, a Korean national, at the Cebu City Municipal Trial Court (MTCC). Because of this
discovery, Ruth filed a “Petition for Cancellation of Entries in the Marriage Contract” before the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) pursuant to Rule 108 of the Rules of Court, especially the entries in the portion of the
marriage contract containing information about the “wife.”

During the hearing, Ruth testified and denied having contracted that marriage and claimed that she did
not even know Kim Park. She further explained that she could have not been in Cebu City during the
alleged date of the wedding and appeared before the solemnizing officer because at that time she was
working at a pharmaceutical company in Makati. She however admitted that she knew the witnesses
named in the marriage certificate as she had met them while she was still working as a receptionist in a
hotel. She believed that her name was used by a travel agency personnel to whom she gave her personal
circumstances when she applied for a passport.

She also presented as witness an employee of MTCC who confirmed that the marriage of Kim Park was
indeed celebrated in their office, but claimed that the alleged “wife” who appeared was definitely not Ruth.
Then a document examiner also testified that her signature appearing in the marriage contract was
forged. Based on these facts, the RTC decided in favor of Ruth and ordered the cancellation and
correction of the entries on the portion of the marriage contract pertaining to the wife.

The Republic of the Philippines (Republic) however questioned this decision. They claimed that there are
no errors in the entries sought to be cancelled or corrected because said entries are the ones provided by
the person who appeared and represented herself as Ruth. Furthermore, the Republic contended that in
directing the cancellation of the entries in the “wife” portion of the marriage contract, the RTC, in effect,
declared the marriage null and void which cannot be done in a petition for cancellation or correction of
entries in the civil registry under Rule 108. Is the Republic correct?

No.Even substantial errors in a civil registry may be corrected through a petition filed
under Rule 108, by facts established in the appropriate adversarial proceeding.
In this case, Ruth was able to prove by overwhelming evidence that no marriage was entered into and
that she was not even aware of the existence of that marriage. The testimonial and documentary
evidence clearly established that the only “evidence” of marriage which is the marriage contract or
certificate was a forgery. While Rule 108 cannot be availed of to determine the validity of
marriage, the proceedings before the trial court cannot be nullified where all the parties
had been given the opportunity to contest the allegations of Ruth. Records show that the
proceedings under Rule 108 were followed, and all the evidence of the parties had already been admitted
and examined. Ruth indeed sought, not the nullification of marriage as there was no marriage to speak of,
but the correction of the record of such marriage to reflect the truth as established by the evidence. By
ordering the cancellation and correction of the portion in the marriage contract regarding the wife, the trial
court did not, in any way, declare the marriage void as there was no marriage to speak of (Republic of the
Philippines vs. Merlinda L. Olaybar, G.R. No. 189538, February 10, 2014).