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Vda. de Jacob v.

[G.R. No. 135216. August 19, 1999]

TOMASA VDA. DE JACOB, as Special Administratrix of the Intestate Estate
of Deceased Alfredo E. Jacob, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, PEDRO
PILAPIL, THE REGISTER OF DEEDS for the Province of Camarines Sur,
and JUAN F. TRIVINO as publisher of "Balalong," respondents.

Petitioner: Tomasa Vda. de Jacob
Private Respondent: Pedro Pilapil
What: The loss of the best evidence of marriage, specifically the marriage
contract, and how to prove the validity of marriage using a reconstructed
marriage certificate and other evidences.
Summary: Tomasa is the surviving spouse of the deceased Alfredo e. Jacob
and claims the right over the latter's estate. However Pedro, the legally
adopted son of the late Alfredo, claims for his share of the estate as the sole
surviving heir. Pedro further questions the validity of the marriage between
Tomasa and his late adoptive father.
Nature of the Case:
The instant case is a petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
assailing the Decision and the Resolution of the Court of Appeals denying
petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The CA ruled in favor of Pedro Pilapil
and against Tomasa Vda. de Jacob on grounds including the declaration that
the reconstructed marriage certificate as spurious and non-existent. Hence,
the present petition.

What are the facts of the case?
1. Petitioner Tomasa narrated that her marriage with the late Alfredo was
solemnized by one Msgr. Florencio C. Yllana in Intramuros, Manila sometime
in 1975. She could not however present the original copy of the Marriage
Contract stating that the original document was lost when Msgr. Yllana
allegedly gave it to one Mr. Jose Centenera for registration.
In lieu of the lost marriage certificate, petitioner presented a reconstructed
marriage contract issued three years after the said marriage.
However, several irregularities of the reconstructed marriage contract was
observed by the court:
a. No copy of the Marriage Contract was sent to the local civil registrar;
b. A mere thumbmark was purportedly placed by the late Alfredo on the
alleged reconstructed marriage contract instead of his customary signature
as affixed in their sworn affidavit;
c. Inconsistencies in the affidavit of Msgr. Yllana on the circumstances
surrounding the loss of the marriage contract and the testimonies of
appellant Tomasa; and
d. Appellant admitted that there was no record entered into the San Agustin
Church where the alleged marriage was solemnized.

What are the issues of the case?
1. Whether the alleged reconstructed marriage contract is valid and is a
sufficient proof of marriage in lieu of the lost Marriage Contract.
2. Whether the questioned marriage was void ab initio due to lack of
marriage license and a marriage ceremony as alleged by the legally adopted
son, Pedro.
3. Whether the absence of said marriage on the record book of the local civil
register affects the validity of such.

What is the ruling of the court?

1. Yes. Even though the marriage contract is the best evidence that a
marriage indeed took place between two contracting parties, absence or lost
thereof does not render the marriage void. The marriage license is not a
formal requisite of marriage; it is merely a written manifestation or the
reiteration of the exchange of vows done during the marriage ceremony. As
provided by Section 3 in relation to Section 5, Rule 130 of the Rules of
Court, the contents of such document may be proven by competent
evidences other than the document itself.
In the case at bar, appellant Tomasa had provided competent evidences to
prove that a valid marriage had been solemnized between her and the late
Alfredo. Such evidences were supplied by the sworn testimonies of Msgr.
Yllana who was the solemnizing officer; witness Adela Pilapil, and Tomasa
herself both in open court and in writing.
2. No. The contention Pedro that there was no marriage license issued prior
to the solemnization of the marriage between the two was misplaced due to
the fact that the said spouses had been cohabiting with each other for more
than five years as stated in a sworn affidavit made by the late Alfedo and
the appellant. This is an exceptional character under the Article 76 of the
Civil Code which provided that the questioned marriage is exempted from
the requisite of a valid marriage license. The accusations of Pedro Pilapil
which were formerly favored by the Court of Appeals were then reversed and
set aside.
3. No. Absence of an entry pertaining to 1975 in the Books of Marriage of
the Local Civil Registrar of Manila and in the National Census and Statistics
Office (NCSO) does not invalidate the marriage. It is of the solemnizing
officer's duty to send a copy of marriage certificate to these offices in order
to be duly recorded (Art. 23, FC).
In the absence of other competent evidences to the contrary, a man and a
woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are presumed to have
entered into a legal contract of marriage. The fact that the appellant and the
deceased had lived together as husband and wife and the same was affirmed
by the evidences, the presumption of marriage was not likewise rebutted.

The marriage between petitioner Tomasa and the late Alfredo was proven to
be valid in virtue of the reconstructed marriage contract sworn by the
solemnizing officer himself and a witness to the marriage ceremony.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision of the Court
of Appeals is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The marriage between Petitioner
Tomasa Vda. de Jacob and the deceased Alfredo E. Jacob is hereby
recognized and declared VALID and the claimed adoption of Respondent

Significant Provisions to the Case at Bar

Section 3, Rule 130, ROC. Original document must be produced;
exceptions. When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no
evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself, except
in the following cases:
(a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in
court without bad faith on the part of the offeror;
x x x x x x x x x

Section 5, Rule 130, ROC. When the original document is unavailable.
When the original document has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be
produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence and
the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its
contents by a copy. Or by a recital of its contents in some authentic
document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order stated.

Art. 76, CC. No marriage license shall be necessary when a man and a
woman who have attained the age of majority and who, being unmarried,
have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years, desire to
marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in
an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oath. The
official, priest or minister who solemnized the marriage shall also state in an
affidavit that he took steps to ascertain the ages and other qualifications of
the contracting parties and that he found no legal impediment to the

Other issues:
Whether Pedro Pilapil is a legally adopted son of the late Alfredo Jacob.
No. The court ruled that the burden of proof in establishing adoption is upon
the person claiming such relationship. However, Pedro Pilapil failed to do
such. Likewise, both the Bureau of Records Management in Manila and the
Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Tigaon, Camarines Sur, issued
Certifications that there was no record that Pedro Pilapil had been adopted
by Dr. Jacob. Taken together, these circumstances inexorably negate the
alleged adoption of respondent.

Semper Presumitur Pro Matrimonio: Always Presume Marriage
The Supreme Court, holding the sanctity of marriage with the highest
regards and respect, rule that marriage shall always be presumed between a
man and a woman of legal age, who had voluntarily cohabitated with each
other, and had no legal impediment to marry. Marriage is always favored in
the absence of proofs to the contrary. If ever there will be an ambiguity in
the question of the validity of the marriage, the question shall be resolved in
light of the presumption of marriage.
The court held that "Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward
legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are
presumed, in the absence of any counter presumption or evidence special to
the case, to be in fact married."
The constant pressure of the presumption of marriage made it necessary
that the evidence presented in order to repel such must be strong, distinct,
and satisfactory (Sta. Maria, 2010).
The Duty of the Solemnizing Officer
Article 23 of the Family Code provides that it is the primary duty of the
solemnizing officer to submit the copies of the Marriage Contract, specifically
the duplicate and the triplicate copies, to the Local Civil Registrar where the
marriage was validly solemnized. It is mandatory that the copies shall be
sent to the Local Civil Registrar not later than 15 days after the marriage
ceremony. Such as in the case of Beso v. Judge Daguman (323 SCRA 566),
the solemnizing officer will be held administratively liable for the non-
registration of the marriage or a significant delay thereof.
Such non-registration is a mere irregularity in the procedure of marriage and
does not render the marriage void or annullable for it is not the contracting
parties duty to do such.

In my Humble Opinion

Administratix (noun) - a woman who is an administrator, specifically of an