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August 17, 2013

TO: Atty. Meralyn M. Talon, Senior Partner


Talon and Associates
FROM: Atty. Johayra M. Pangandaman
SUBJECT: Legality of the Marriage of Raul and Martha
ISSUE: Whether the mayor of Libona, Bukidnon committed a grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction by signing the
marriage contract in Manolo Fortiich, Bukidnon which divested him of
his authority as a solemnizing officer, as defined in Article 4 of the
Family Code of the Philippines.
a. Whether the lack of authority of the mayor renders the marriage
void.
b. Whether Martha and Raul did not know the foregoing which is
essential consideration to deem them in good faith for the
validity of their marriage.
c. Whether Rauls underage, being just 19 years old during the
marriage, affects the legitimacy of the marriage.
d. Whether the marriage was valid notwithstanding the absence of
witnesses during the solemnization of the same which is one of
the requisites of marriage as enumerated in Article 3 of the
Family Code of the Philippines.
ANSWER: Yes. The Local Government Code of 1991 restored to the
mayors their authority to solemnize marriages. However, this
authority may only be exercised within the place of their jurisdiction.
In this case, the mayor can only validly solemnize marriage, which
necessarily includes the signing of the marriage contract, in Libona,
Bukidnon where he is seated as mayor. He is not permitted by law to
carry this authority anywhere else except in Libona, Bukidnon to do
otherwise would constitute grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction.
a. No. Article 4 of the Family Code of the Philippines draws a
difference between absence, defect, and, irregularity in the
formal requisites of marriage, to wit:
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.
It may be true that the mayor had no authority when he signed
the marriage license in Manolo Fortich but such only amounted
to irregularity in the marriage. As clearly stated in the
aforementioned Article, 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.
b. Maybe not. The letter of Mrs. Tagra, Marthas mother, is silent
as to the couples knowledge on the lack of authority of the
mayor to solemnize their marriage. Giving them the benefit of
the doubt for absence of showing of their bad faith, they are
considered in good faith. A new rule in the Family Code has
been promulgated that once the couple or at least one of them
believed that the solemnizing officer had an authority it shall not
affect the validity of their marriage.
c. No. Article 5 of the Family Code of the Philippines is controlling
in this matter. It states, Any male or female of the age of
eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments
mentioned in Articles 37 and 38, may contract marriage. Since
Raul neither Martha possesses the legal impediments
enumerated in Article 38 and 39, their marriage is completely
valid.
d. Yes. It is settled that a marriage ceremony regardless of form or
religious rite requires the presence of not less than two
witnesses of legal age (Paras, Persons and Family Relations).
This, however, is just an irregularity in the formal requisites and
does not affect the validity of the marriage.
STATEMENTS OF FACTS: Mrs. Andrea S. Tagra wrote her concern
about the legitimacy of the marriage between her daughter, Martha,
and the latters husband, Raul. Martha, 18 years old, and Raul, 19
years old decided to have a civil wedding. They went to the office of
the municipal mayor of Libona, Bukidnon after obtaining a marriage
license. However, only the secretary was present who told them that
the mayor was in a nearby town, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, attending
a fiesta. They proceeded to Manolo Fortich where the mayor signed
the marriage contract upon receiving and reading the marriage
license. They return to Libona, Bukidnon with their marriage contract.
They lived happily ever after and bore two (2) children.
DISCUSSION: Marriage is a special contract of permanent union
between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for
the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the
family and an inviolable social institution whose nature,
consequences, and incidents are governed by law (Article 1, Family
Code of the Philippines). Thus, we shall centre our discussion as to
how this controversial marriage of Raul and Martha has complied with
the requirements of the law to finally come out with a conclusion of its
legitimacy.
In the Family Code, an irregularity in the formal requisites shall not
affect the validity of the marriage. One of the formal requisites under
Article 3 is the authority of the solemnizing officer. In this case, there
is no doubt to the power of the mayor to solemnize a marriage. The
issue delves on his jurisdiction. As stated in the facts of the case, he
is the mayor of Libona, Bukindon; thus, he is by law limited to
solemnize marriage within the said municipality. Nevertheless, it is to
be noted that such lack of jurisdiction does not affect the validity of
the marriage when either or both of the couple believe that the
solemnizing officer holds an authority. So in this case, the mayors
lack of authority to solemnize marriage in the municipality of Manolo
Fortich has no effect to the validity of marriage between Raul and
Martha. Moreover, voidability of the marriage can neither be
grounded on Rauls supposed underage. Article 5 sets forth the
marriageable ages of the contracting parties to a marriage (Paras,
Persons and Family Relations). It states that male or female of the
age of eighteen years or upwards not under any of the impediments
mentioned in Articles 37 and 38, may contract marriage. As to the
absence of witnesses, our law only has not included this as one of
the grounds to annul or declare the nullity of a marriage. This only
constitutes an irregularity in the formal requisites; thus, does not
affect the legitimacy of the marriage.

Mrs. Martha needs not to be worried on the legitimacy of her
daughter with Raul. Generally, the marriage only suffers from
irregularity as briefly discussed in the foregoing which is not a ground
to nullify the said marriage. The grave abuse of discretion that
amounted to lack of jurisdiction of the mayor appears to be the most
divisive among these irregularities. Although it has no effect to the
legitimacy of the marriage, Article 4 states that the party or parties
responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally and
administratively liable. In this case, the mayor may be administratively
liable because a person who holds power under the law is
responsible to know the limits of his authority and must adhere to
such limitations. This is necessary to deter the commission of the
same mistake. Hence, I recommend the fling of administrative case
against the mayor by the married couple if it will not bring them
inconvenience.