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Estrellita J. Tamano vs. Hon. Rodolfo Ortiz, et.

Al
G.R No. 126603, June 29, 1998
Facts :
Sen. Tamano and Zorayda Tamano married in civil rites. Before Sen.
Tamano died, he married Estrellita in civil rites too. A year after Sen. Tamanos
death, Zorayda and her son filed a complaint for declaration of nullity of
marriage of her husband and Estrellita with the RTC where Ortiz is the sitting
judge on the ground that it was bigamous. Zorayda further claimed that her
husband claimed to be divorced and Estrellita as single, hence, their marriage
was fraudulent. Estrellita filed a motion to dismiss alleging that RTC has no
jurisdiction because only a party to a marriage could file an action for
annulment against the other spouse.
Estrellita also contended that since Tamano and Zorayda were both
Muslims and married in Muslim rites, the jurisdiction to hear and try the case
is vested in Sharia courts pursuant to Art 155 of Code of Muslim. RTC denied
the petition and ruled it has jurisdiction since Estrellita and Tamano were
married in accordance with the Civil Code. Motion for reconsideration was also
denied. Petitioner referred to SC which ruled that it should be referred to CA
first.
The CA ruled that the case would fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of
sharia courts only when filed in places where there are sharia courts. But in
places where there are no sharia courts, the instant petition could be at RTC.
Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: W/N Sharia courts and not the RTC has jurisdiction over the subject
case and the nature of action.

HELD:
No.
The Court held that the Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over the
subject case. Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, the Regional
Trial Courts have jurisdiction over all actions involving the contract of marriage
and marital relations. There should be no question by now that what

determines the nature of an action and correspondingly the court which has
jurisdiction over it are the allegations made by the plaintiff in this case.
The Regional Trial Court was not divested of jurisdiction to hear and try
the instant case despite the allegation in the Motion for Reconsideration that
Estrellita and Tamano were likewise married in Muslim rites. This is because a
courts jurisdiction cannot be made to depend upon defenses set up in the
answer, in a motion to dismiss, or in a motion for reconsideration, but only
upon allegations of the complaint. Further, the court held that assuming that
indeed the petitioner and Tamano were likewise married under Muslim laws,
the same would still fall under the general original jurisdiction of the Regional
Trial Courts.
Article 13 of PD No. 1083 does not provide for a situation where the
parties were married both in civil and Muslim rites. Consequently, the sharia
courts are not vested with original and exclusive jurisdiction when it comes to
marriages celebrated under both civil and Muslim laws.