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Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 183896 January 30, 2013

SYED AZHAR ABBAS, Petitioner,


vs.
GLORIA GOO ABBAS, Respondent.

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, questioning the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated March 11, 2008
in CA-G.R. CV No. 86760, which reversed the Decision 2 in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM
dated October 5, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 109, Pasay City, and the
CA Resolution dated July 24, 2008, denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of the
CA Decision.

The present case stems from a petition filed by petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas (Syed) for
the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Gloria Goo-Abbas (Gloria) with the RTC of
Pasay City, docketed as Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM, and raffled to RTC Branch 109. Syed
alleged the absence of a marriage license, as provided for in Article 4, Chapter I, Title 1
of Executive Order No. 269, otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines, as a
ground for the annulment of his marriage to Gloria.

In the Marriage Contract3 of Gloria and Syed, it is stated that Marriage License No.
9969967, issued at Carmona, Cavite on January 8, 1993, was presented to the
solemnizing officer. It is this information that is crucial to the resolution of this case.

At the trial court, Syed, a Pakistani citizen, testified that he met Gloria, a Filipino citizen,
in Taiwan in 1991, and they were married on August 9, 1992 at the Taipei Mosque in
Taiwan.4 He arrived in the Philippines in December of 1992. On January 9, 1993, at
around 5 oclock in the afternoon, he was at his mother-in-laws residence, located at
2676 F. Muoz St., Malate, Manila, when his mother-in-law arrived with two men. He
testified that he was told that he was going to undergo some ceremony, one of the
requirements for his stay in the Philippines, but was not told of the nature of said
ceremony. During the ceremony he and Gloria signed a document. He claimed that he
did not know that the ceremony was a marriage until Gloria told him later. He further
testified that he did not go to Carmona, Cavite to apply for a marriage license, and that
he had never resided in that area. In July of 2003, he went to the Office of the Civil
Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, to check on their marriage license, and was asked to show
a copy of their marriage contract wherein the marriage license number could be found. 5
The Municipal Civil Registrar, Leodivinia C. Encarnacion, issued a certification on July 11,
2003 to the effect that the marriage license number appearing in the marriage contract
he submitted, Marriage License No. 9969967, was the number of another marriage
license issued to a certain Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan. 6 Said certification
reads as follows:

11 July 2003

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

This is to certify as per Registry Records of Marriage License filed in this office, Marriage
License No. 9969967 was issued in favor of MR. ARLINDO GETALADO and MISS MYRA
MABILANGAN on January 19, 1993.
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No Marriage License appear [sic] to have been issued to MR. SYED AZHAR ABBAS and
MISS GLORIA F. GOO on January 8, 1993.

This certification is being issued to Mr. Syed Azhar Abbas for whatever legal purpose or
intents it may serve.7

On cross-examination, Syed testified that Gloria had filed bigamy cases against him in
2001 and 2002, and that he had gone to the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite
to get certification on whether or not there was a marriage license on advice of his
counsel.8

Petitioner also presented Norberto Bagsic (Bagsic), an employee of the Municipal Civil
Registrar of Carmona, Cavite. Bagsic appeared under a letter of authority from the
Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, and brought documents pertaining to
Marriage License No. 9969967, which was issued to Arlindo Getalado and Myra
Mabilangan on January 20, 1993.9

Bagsic testified that their office issues serial numbers for marriage licenses and that the
numbers are issued chronologically.10 He testified that the certification dated July 11,
2003, was issued and signed by Leodivina Encarnacion, Registrar of the Municipality of
Carmona, Cavite, certifying that Marriage License No. 9969967 was issued for Arlindo
Getalado and Myra Mabilangan on January 19, 1993, and that their office had not issued
any other license of the same serial number, namely 9969967, to any other person. 11

For her part, Gloria testified on her own behalf, and presented Reverend Mario Dauz,
Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez, Felicitas Goo and May Ann Ceriola.

Reverend Mario Dauz (Rev. Dauz) testified that he was a minister of the Gospel and a
barangay captain, and that he is authorized to solemnize marriages within the
Philippines.12 He testified that he solemnized the marriage of Syed Azhar Abbas and
Gloria Goo at the residence of the bride on January 9, 1993. 13 He stated that the
witnesses were Atty. Lorenzo Sanchez (Atty. Sanchez) and Mary Ann Ceriola. 14 He
testified that he had been solemnizing marriages since 1982, and that he is familiar with
the requirements.15 Rev. Dauz further testified that Atty. Sanchez gave him the marriage
license the day before the actual wedding, and that the marriage contract was prepared
by his secretary.16 After the solemnization of the marriage, it was registered with the
Local Civil Registrar of Manila, and Rev. Dauz submitted the marriage contract and copy
of the marriage license with that office.17

Atty. Sanchez testified that he was asked to be the sponsor of the wedding of Syed Abbas
and Gloria Goo by the mother of the bride, Felicitas Goo. 18 He testified that he requested
a certain Qualin to secure the marriage license for the couple, and that this Qualin
secured the license and gave the same to him on January 8, 1993. 19 He further testified
that he did not know where the marriage license was obtained. 20 He attended the
wedding ceremony on January 9, 1993, signed the marriage contract as sponsor, and
witnessed the signing of the marriage contract by the couple, the solemnizing officer and
the other witness, Mary Ann Ceriola.21

Felicitas Goo testified that Gloria Goo is her daughter and Syed Azhar Abbas is her son-
in-law, and that she was present at the wedding ceremony held on January 9, 1993 at
her house.22 She testified that she sought the help of Atty. Sanchez at the Manila City
Hall in securing the marriage license, and that a week before the marriage was to take
place, a male person went to their house with the application for marriage license. 23
Three days later, the same person went back to their house, showed her the marriage
license before returning it to Atty. Sanchez who then gave it to Rev. Dauz, the
solemnizing officer.24 She further testified that she did not read all of the contents of the
marriage license, and that she was told that the marriage license was obtained from
Carmona.25 She also testified that a bigamy case had been filed by Gloria against Syed at
the Regional Trial Court of Manila, evidenced by an information for Bigamy dated January
10, 2003, pending before Branch 47 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila.26
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As to Mary Ann Ceriolas testimony, the counsels for both parties stipulated that: (a) she
is one of the sponsors at the wedding of Gloria Goo and Syed Abbas on January 9, 1993;
(b) she was seen in the wedding photos and she could identify all the persons depicted in
said photos; and (c) her testimony corroborates that of Felicitas Goo and Atty. Sanchez.

The respondent, Gloria, testified that Syed is her husband, and presented the marriage
contract bearing their signatures as proof.27 She and her mother sought the help of Atty.
Sanchez in securing a marriage license, and asked him to be one of the sponsors. A
certain Qualin went to their house and said that he will get the marriage license for
them, and after several days returned with an application for marriage license for them
to sign, which she and Syed did. After Qualin returned with the marriage license, they
gave the license to Atty. Sanchez who gave it to Rev. Dauz, the solemnizing officer. Gloria
testified that she and Syed were married on January 9, 1993 at their residence. 28

Gloria further testified that she has a daughter with Syed, born on June 15, 1993.29

Gloria also testified that she filed a bigamy case against Syed, who had married a certain
Maria Corazon Buenaventura during the existence of the previous marriage, and that the
case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 02A-03408, with the RTC of Manila.30

Gloria stated that she and Syed had already been married on August 9, 1992 in Taiwan,
but that she did not know if said marriage had been celebrated under Muslim rites,
because the one who celebrated their marriage was Chinese, and those around them at
the time were Chinese.31

The Ruling of the RTC

In its October 5, 2005 Decision, the Pasay City RTC held that no valid marriage license
was issued by the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite in favor of Gloria and
Syed, as Marriage License No. 9969967 had been issued to Arlindo Getalado and Myra
Mabilangan, and the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite had certified that no
marriage license had been issued for Gloria and Syed. 32 It also took into account the fact
that neither party was a resident of Carmona, Cavite, the place where Marriage License
No. 9969967 was issued, in violation of Article 9 of the Family Code. 33 As the marriage
was not one of those exempt from the license requirement, and that the lack of a valid
marriage license is an absence of a formal requisite, the marriage of Gloria and Syed on
January 9, 1993 was void ab initio.

The dispositive portion of the Decision reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the petitioner, and against the
respondent declaring as follows:

1. The marriage on January 9, 1993 between petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas and
respondent Gloria Goo-Abbas is hereby annulled;

2. Terminating the community of property relations between the petitioner and the
respondent even if no property was acquired during their cohabitation by reason of
the nullity of the marriage of the parties.

3. The Local Civil Registrar of Manila and the Civil Registrar General, National
Statistics Office, are hereby ordered to cancel from their respective civil registries
the marriage contracted by petitioner Syed Azhar Abbas and respondent Gloria
Goo-Abbas on January 9, 1993 in Manila.

SO ORDERED.34

Gloria filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated November 7, 2005, but the RTC denied
the same, prompting her to appeal the questioned decision to the Court of Appeals.

The Ruling of the CA


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In her appeal to the CA, Gloria submitted the following assignment of errors:

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE


PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT AS NULL AND VOID DUE TO THE ABSENCE OF A
MARRIAGE LICENSE DESPITE EVIDENCE CLEARLY SHOWING THAT THERE WAS ONE.

II

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING, AS A REQUISITE OF A VALID


MARRIAGE, THE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT A MARRIAGE
CEREMONY TOOK PLACE WITH THE APPEARANCE OF THE CONTRACTING PARTIES
BEFORE THE SOLEMNIZING OFFICER AND THEIR PERSONAL DECLARATION THAT
THEY TOOK EACH OTHER AS HUSBAND AND WIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF NOT LESS
THAN TWO WITNESSES OF LEGAL AGE.

III

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING ON THE ISSUE OF ESTOPPEL BY LACHES
ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER, AN ISSUE TIMELY RAISED IN THE COURT
BELOW.35

The CA gave credence to Glorias arguments, and granted her appeal. It held that the
certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar failed to categorically state that a diligent
search for the marriage license of Gloria and Syed was conducted, and thus held that
said certification could not be accorded probative value. 36 The CA ruled that there was
sufficient testimonial and documentary evidence that Gloria and Syed had been validly
married and that there was compliance with all the requisites laid down by law.37

It gave weight to the fact that Syed had admitted to having signed the marriage
contract. The CA also considered that the parties had comported themselves as husband
and wife, and that Syed only instituted his petition after Gloria had filed a case against
him for bigamy.38

The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated 05


October 2005 and Order dated 27 January 2006 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City,
Branch 109, in Civil Case No. 03-0382-CFM are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the
Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage is DISMISSED. The marriage between Shed
[sic] Azhar Abbas and Gloria Goo Abbas contracted on 09 January 1993 remains valid
and subsisting. No costs.

SO ORDERED.39

Syed then filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated April 1, 2008 40 but the same was
denied by the CA in a Resolution dated July 24, 2008.41

Hence, this petition.

Grounds in Support of Petition

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW IN


CITING REPUBLIC VS. COURT OF APPEALS AS THE SAME IS DIAMETRICALLY
INCONSISTENT AND CONTRARY TO THE COURTS OWN FINDINGS AND
CONCLUSIONS IN THIS CASE.

II
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THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN REVERSING AND SETTING


ASIDE, WITHOUT ANY FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASIS, THE DECISION OF THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT GRANTING THE PETITION FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY
OF MARRIAGE.42

The Ruling of this Court

The petition is meritorious.

As the marriage of Gloria and Syed was solemnized on January 9, 1993, Executive Order
No. 209, or the Family Code of the Philippines, is the applicable law. The pertinent
provisions that would apply to this particular case are Articles 3, 4 and 35(3), which read
as follows:

Art. 3. The formal requisites of marriage are:

(1) Authority of the solemnizing officer;

(2) A valid marriage license except in the cases provided for in Chapter 2 of this
Title; and

(3) A marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting
parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take
each other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of
legal age.

Art. 4. 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.

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

xxxx

(3) Those solemnized without a license, except those covered by the preceding Chapter.

There is no issue with the essential requisites under Art. 2 of the Family Code, nor with
the formal requisites of the authority of the solemnizing officer and the conduct of the
marriage ceremony. Nor is the marriage one that is exempt from the requirement of a
valid marriage license under Chapter 2, Title I of the Family Code. The resolution of this
case, thus, hinges on whether or not a valid marriage license had been issued for the
couple. The RTC held that no valid marriage license had been issued. The CA held that
there was a valid marriage license.

We find the RTC to be correct in this instance.

Respondent Gloria failed to present the actual marriage license, or a copy thereof, and
relied on the marriage contract as well as the testimonies of her witnesses to prove the
existence of said license. To prove that no such license was issued, Syed turned to the
office of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite which had allegedly issued said
license. It was there that he requested certification that no such license was issued. In
the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals43 such certification was allowed, as permitted by
Sec. 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, which reads:
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SEC. 28. Proof of lack of record. A written statement signed by an officer having the
custody of an official record or by his deputy that after diligent search, no record or entry
of a specified tenor is found to exist in the records of his office, accompanied by a
certificate as above provided, is admissible as evidence that the records of his office
contain no such record or entry.

In the case of Republic, in allowing the certification of the Civil Registrar of Pasig to prove
the non-issuance of a marriage license, the Court held:

The above Rule authorized the custodian of the documents to certify that despite diligent
search, a particular document does not exist in his office or that a particular entry of a
specified tenor was not to be found in a register. As custodians of public documents, civil
registrars are public officers charged with the duty, inter alia, of maintaining a register
book where they are required to enter all applications for marriage licenses, including the
names of the applicants, the date the marriage license was issued and such other
relevant data.44

The Court held in that case that the certification issued by the civil registrar enjoyed
probative value, as his duty was to maintain records of data relative to the issuance of a
marriage license.

The Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, where the marriage license of Gloria
and Syed was allegedly issued, issued a certification to the effect that no such marriage
license for Gloria and Syed was issued, and that the serial number of the marriage
license pertained to another couple, Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan. A certified
machine copy of Marriage License No. 9969967 was presented, which was issued in
Carmona, Cavite, and indeed, the names of Gloria and Syed do not appear in the
document.

In reversing the RTC, the CA focused on the wording of the certification, stating that it did
not comply with Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

The CA deduced that from the absence of the words "despite diligent search" in the
certification, and since the certification used stated that no marriage license appears to
have been issued, no diligent search had been conducted and thus the certification could
not be given probative value.

To justify that deduction, the CA cited the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals. 45 It is
worth noting that in that particular case, the Court, in sustaining the finding of the lower
court that a marriage license was lacking, relied on the Certification issued by the Civil
Registrar of Pasig, which merely stated that the alleged marriage license could not be
located as the same did not appear in their records. Nowhere in the Certification was it
categorically stated that the officer involved conducted a diligent search, nor is a
categorical declaration absolutely necessary for Sec. 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court
to apply.

Under Sec. 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, it is a disputable presumption that an
official duty has been regularly performed, absent contradiction or other evidence to the
contrary. We held, "The presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by
affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a duty." 46 No such affirmative
evidence was shown that the Municipal Civil Registrar was lax in performing her duty of
checking the records of their office, thus the presumption must stand. In fact, proof does
exist of a diligent search having been conducted, as Marriage License No. 996967 was
indeed located and submitted to the court. The fact that the names in said license do not
correspond to those of Gloria and Syed does not overturn the presumption that the
registrar conducted a diligent search of the records of her office.

It is telling that Gloria failed to present their marriage license or a copy thereof to the
court. She failed to explain why the marriage license was secured in Carmona, Cavite, a
location where, admittedly, neither party resided. She took no pains to apply for the
license, so she is not the best witness to testify to the validity and existence of said
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license. Neither could the other witnesses she presented prove the existence of the
marriage license, as none of them applied for the license in Carmona, Cavite. Her
mother, Felicitas Goo, could not even testify as to the contents of the license, having
admitted to not reading all of its contents. Atty. Sanchez, one of the sponsors, whom
Gloria and Felicitas Goo approached for assistance in securing the license, admitted not
knowing where the license came from. The task of applying for the license was delegated
to a certain Qualin, who could have testified as to how the license was secured and thus
impeached the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar as well as the testimony of
her representative. As Gloria failed to present this Qualin, the certification of the
Municipal Civil Registrar still enjoys probative value.

It is also noted that the solemnizing officer testified that the marriage contract and a
copy of the marriage license were submitted to the Local Civil Registrar of Manila. Thus,
a copy of the marriage license could have simply been secured from that office and
submitted to the court. However, Gloria inexplicably failed to do so, further weakening
her claim that there was a valid marriage license issued for her and Syed.

In the case of Cario v. Cario, 47 following the case of Republic, 48 it was held that the
certification of the Local Civil Registrar that their office had no record of a marriage
license was adequate to prove the non-issuance of said license. The case of Cario
further held that the presumed validity of the marriage of the parties had been
overcome, and that it became the burden of the party alleging a valid marriage to prove
that the marriage was valid, and that the required marriage license had been secured. 49
Gloria has failed to discharge that burden, and the only conclusion that can be reached is
that no valid marriage license was issued. It cannot be said that there was a simple
irregularity in the marriage license that would not affect the validity of the marriage, as
no license was presented by the respondent. No marriage license was proven to have
been issued to Gloria and Syed, based on the certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar
of Carmona, Cavite and Glorias failure to produce a copy of the alleged marriage license.

To bolster its ruling, the CA cited other evidence to support its conclusion that Gloria and
Syed were validly married. To quote the CA:

Moreover, the record is replete with evidence, testimonial and documentary, that
appellant and appellee have been validly married and there was compliance with all the
requisites laid down by law. Both parties are legally capacitated to marry. A certificate of
legal capacity was even issued by the Embassy of Pakistan in favor of appellee. The
parties herein gave their consent freely. Appellee admitted that the signature above his
name in the marriage contract was his. Several pictures were presented showing
appellant and appellee, before the solemnizing officer, the witnesses and other members
of appellants family, taken during the marriage ceremony, as well as in the restaurant
where the lunch was held after the marriage ceremony. Most telling of all is Exhibit "5-C"
which shows appellee signing the Marriage Contract.

xxxx

The parties have comported themselves as husband and wife and has [sic] one offspring,
Aliea Fatima Goo Abbas, who was born on 15 June 1993. It took appellee more than ten
(10) years before he filed on 01 August 2003 his Petition for Declaration of Nullity of
Marriage under Article 4 of the Family Code. We take serious note that said Petition
appears to have been instituted by him only after an Information for Bigamy (Exhibit "1")
dated 10 January 2003 was filed against him for contracting a second or subsequent
marriage with one Ma. Corazon (Maryam) T. Buenaventura. We are not ready to reward
(appellee) by declaring the nullity of his marriage and give him his freedom and in the
process allow him to profit from his own deceit and perfidy.50

All the evidence cited by the CA to show that a wedding ceremony was conducted and a
marriage contract was signed does not operate to cure the absence of a valid marriage
license. Article 4 of the Family Code is clear when it says, "The absence of any of the
essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio, except as stated in
Article 35(2)." Article 35(3) of the Family Code also provides that a marriage solemnized
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without a license is void from the beginning, except those exempt from the license
requirement under Articles 27 to 34, Chapter 2, Title I of the same Code. 51 Again, this
marriage cannot be characterized as among the exemptions, and thus, having been
solemnized without a marriage license, is void ab initio.1wphi1

As to the motive of Syed in seeking to annul his marriage to Gloria, it may well be that
his motives are less than pure, that he seeks to evade a bigamy suit. Be that as it may,
the same does not make up for the failure of the respondent to prove that they had a
valid marriage license, given the weight of evidence presented by petitioner. The lack of
a valid marriage license cannot be attributed to him, as it was Gloria who took steps to
procure the same. The law must be applied. As the marriage license, a formal requisite,
is clearly absent, the marriage of Gloria and Syed is void ab initio.

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed
Decision dated March 11, 2008 and Resolution dated July 24, 2008 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 86760 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 109, Pasay City dated October 5, 2005 in Civil Case No.
03-0382-CFM annulling the marriage of petitioner with respondent on January 9, 1993 is
hereby REINSTATED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

ROBERTO A. ABAD JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARVIC MARIO VICTOR F. LEONEN


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's
Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's
Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes
1
Penned by Associate Justice Celia C. Librea-Leagogo and concurred in by
Associate Justices Regalado E. Maambong and Myrna Dimaranan Vidal.
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33
Article 9. A Marriage License shall be issued by the Local Civil Registrar of the
city or municipality where either contracting party habitually resides, except in
marriages where no license is required in accordance with Chapter 2 of this Title.
34
Rollo, pp. 58-59.
51
Art. 27. In case either or both of the contracting parties are at the point of death,
the marriage may be solemnized without necessity of a marriage license and shall
remain valid even if the ailing party subsequently survives.

Art. 28. If the residence of either party is so located that there is no means of
transportation to enable such party to appear personally before the local civil
registrar, the marriage may be solemnized without necessity of a marriage
license.

Art. 29. In the cases provided for in the two preceding articles, the
solemnizing officer shall state in an affidavit executed before the local civil
registrar or any other person legally authorized to administer oaths that the
marriage was performed in articulo mortis or that the residence of either
party, specifying the barrio or barangay, is so located that there is no means
of transportation to enable such party to appear personally before the local
civil registrar and that the officer took the necessary steps to ascertain the
ages and relationship of the contracting parties and the absence of legal
impediment to the marriage.

Art. 30. The original of the affidavit required in the last preceding article,
together with a legible copy of the marriage contract, shall be sent by the
person solemnizing the marriage to the local civil registrar of the
municipality where it was performed within the period of thirty days after the
performance of the marriage.

Art. 31. A marriage in articulo mortis between passengers or crew members


may also be solemnized by a ship captain or by an airplane pilot not only
while the ship is at sea or the plane is in flight, but also during stopovers at
ports of call.

Art. 32. A military commander of a unit, who is a commissioned officer, shall


likewise have authority to solemnize marriages in articulo mortis between
persons within the zone of military operation, whether members of the
armed forces or civilians.

Art. 33. Marriage among Muslims or among members of the ethnic cultural
communities may be performed validly without the necessity of marriage
licenses, provided they arc solemnized in accordance with their customs,
rites or practices.

Art. 34. No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a
woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years
and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting
parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person
authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also
state under oath that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting
parties and found no legal impediment to the marriage.

Case title: Syed Azhar Abbas v. Gloria Goo Abbas, G.R. No. 183896. January 30, 2013

If theres no valid marriage license, then the marriage contract, authority of


solemnizing officer, testimony of witnesses and sponsors, wedding pictures, etc. do
not mean anything
10 | P a g e

Plain Language summary:

Case title: Syed Azhar Abbas v. Gloria Goo Abbas, G.R. No. 183896. January
30, 2013

Issue:

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) ruled that no valid marriage license was issued
and thus the marriage is void. The RTC based its ruling on the certification by the
Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite that no marriage license was issued
to Syed and Gloria.

On the other hand, the Court of Appeals held that, for several reasons, Syed and
Gloria were validly married. The certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar failed
to categorically state that a diligent search for the marriage license was
conducted under Sec. 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

Supreme Court ruling:

Syed and Glorias marriage is void because they did not have a valid marriage
license.

Relevant cases and legal provisions:

Republic vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 103047, September 2, 1994, 236 SCRA
257

Cario vs. Cario, 403 Phil. 861, 869 (2001)

Section 28, Rule 132 of the


Rules of Court

Family Code of the Philippines: Article 3; Article 4; Article 35 (3)

Background facts

Syed Azhar Abbas (Syed) filed a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage
to Gloria GooAbbas (Gloria) with the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City (RTC).

The RTC ruled that Syed and Glorias marriage was void from the beginning
because they did not have a valid marriage license. The Municipal Civil
Registrar of Carmona, Cavite certified that Syed and Glorias alleged Marriage
License No. 9969967 was actually issued to a certain Arlindo Getalado and Myra
Mabilangan.

On the other hand, the Court of Appeals ruled that Syed and Glorias
marriage was valid because:

(1) The Municipal Civil Registrars certification cannot be used as evidence because it
failed to categorically state that a diligent search for the marriage license was
conducted, as required by Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.
11 | P a g e

(2) Both Syed and Gloria were legally capacitated to marry; the Embassy of Pakistan
issued a certificate of legal capacity in Syeds favor.

(3) Syed admitted to signing the marriage contract.

(4) Several pictures were presented showing Syed and Gloria before the solemnizing
officer, the witnesses, and other members of Glorias family, taken during the
marriage ceremony and in the restaurant where the lunch was held after the
marriage ceremony.

(5) Syed and Gloria comported themselves as husband and wife.

(6) Syed only filed his petition after Gloria had filed a case against him for bigamy.

Supreme Court ruling

[1] Syed and Glorias marriage is void because they did not have a valid
marriage license.

[2] All the evidence cited by the CA to show that a wedding ceremony was
conducted and a marriage contract was signed cannot cure the absence of a valid
marriage license. Article 4 of the Family Code is clear when it says, The absence of
any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio,
except as stated in Article 35(2).

[3] From the absence of the words despite diligent search in the certification, the
CA reasoned that no diligent search was conducted and thus, the certification could
not be used as evidence. But a categorical declaration is not absolutely necessary for
Sec. 28, Rule 132 to apply, as held in Republic vs. Court of Appeals and in Cario vs.
Cario.

The Municipal Civil Registrar did conduct a diligent search because it located and
submitted Marriage License No. 996967 to the RTC.

[4] The solemnizing officer testified that the marriage contract and a copy of the
marriage license were submitted to the Local Civil Registrar of Manila. Gloria could
have simply secured a copy of the license from that office and submitted it to the
RTC. But Gloria inexplicably failed to do so, further weakening her claim that there
was a valid marriage license issued for her and Syed.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 196049 June 26, 2013

MINORU FUJIKI, PETITIONER,


vs.
MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF
QUEZON CITY, AND THE ADMINISTRATOR AND CIVIL REGISTRAR GENERAL OF
THE NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE, RESPONDENTS.
12 | P a g e

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 107,
Quezon City, through a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court on a pure question of law. The petition assails the Order 1 dated 31 January 2011 of
the RTC in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 and its Resolution dated 2 March 2011 denying
petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The RTC dismissed the petition for "Judicial
Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)" based on
improper venue and the lack of personality of petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to file the petition.

The Facts

Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married respondent Maria Paz
Galela Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines 2 on 23 January 2004. The marriage did not sit
well with petitioners parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his wife to Japan where he
resides. Eventually, they lost contact with each other.

In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara (Maekara). Without the first
marriage being dissolved, Marinay and Maekara were married on 15 May 2008 in Quezon
City, Philippines. Maekara brought Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay allegedly suffered
physical abuse from Maekara. She left Maekara and started to contact Fujiki.3

Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish their relationship. In
2010, Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a judgment from a family court in Japan which
declared the marriage between Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of bigamy. 4 On
14 January 2011, Fujiki filed a petition in the RTC entitled: "Judicial Recognition of Foreign
Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)." Fujiki prayed that (1) the Japanese
Family Court judgment be recognized; (2) that the bigamous marriage between Marinay
and Maekara be declared void ab initio under Articles 35(4) and 41 of the Family Code of
the Philippines;5 and (3) for the RTC to direct the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City to
annotate the Japanese Family Court judgment on the Certificate of Marriage between
Marinay and Maekara and to endorse such annotation to the Office of the Administrator
and Civil Registrar General in the National Statistics Office (NSO).6

The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately issued an Order
dismissing the petition and withdrawing the case from its active civil docket. 7 The RTC
cited the following provisions of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC):

Sec. 2. Petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages.

(a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be
filed solely by the husband or the wife.

xxxx

Sec. 4. Venue. The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or city
where the petitioner or the respondent has been residing for at least six months prior to
the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be found in
the Philippines, at the election of the petitioner. x x x

The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in "gross violation" of
the above provisions. The trial court based its dismissal on Section 5(4) of A.M. No. 02-
11-10-SC which provides that "[f]ailure to comply with any of the preceding requirements
may be a ground for immediate dismissal of the petition." 8 Apparently, the RTC took the
13 | P a g e

view that only "the husband or the wife," in this case either Maekara or Marinay, can file
the petition to declare their marriage void, and not Fujiki.

Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
contemplated ordinary civil actions for declaration of nullity and annulment of marriage.
Thus, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply. A petition for recognition of foreign judgment
is a special proceeding, which "seeks to establish a status, a right or a particular fact," 9
and not a civil action which is "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 sought to
establish (1) the status and concomitant rights of Fujiki and Marinay as husband and wife
and (2) the fact of the rendition of the Japanese Family Court judgment declaring the
marriage between Marinay and Maekara as void on the ground of bigamy. The petitioner
contended that the Japanese judgment was consistent with Article 35(4) of the Family
Code of the Philippines11 on bigamy and was therefore entitled to recognition by
Philippine courts.12

In any case, it was also Fujikis view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applied only to void
marriages under Article 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological
incapacity.13 Thus, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC provides that "a petition for
declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages may be filed solely by the husband or
the wife." To apply Section 2(a) in bigamy would be absurd because only the guilty
parties would be permitted to sue. In the words of Fujiki, "[i]t is not, of course, difficult to
realize that the party interested in having a bigamous marriage declared a nullity would
be the husband in the prior, pre-existing marriage."14 Fujiki had material interest and
therefore the personality to nullify a bigamous marriage.

Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of
the Rules of Court is applicable. Rule 108 is the "procedural implementation" of the Civil
Register Law (Act No. 3753)15 in relation to Article 413 of the Civil Code. 16 The Civil
Register Law imposes a duty on the "successful petitioner for divorce or annulment of
marriage to send a copy of the final decree of the court to the local registrar of the
municipality where the dissolved or annulled marriage was solemnized." 17 Section 2 of
Rule 108 provides that entries in the civil registry relating to "marriages," "judgments of
annulments of marriage" and "judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning"
are subject to cancellation or correction. 18 The petition in the RTC sought (among others)
to annotate the judgment of the Japanese Family Court on the certificate of marriage
between Marinay and Maekara.

Fujikis motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that the trial court "gravely
erred" when, on its own, it dismissed the petition based on improper venue. Fujiki stated
that the RTC may be confusing the concept of venue with the concept of jurisdiction,
because it is lack of jurisdiction which allows a court to dismiss a case on its own. Fujiki
cited Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate Court 19 which held that the "trial court cannot
pre-empt the defendants prerogative to object to the improper laying of the venue by
motu proprio dismissing the case."20 Moreover, petitioner alleged that the trial court
should not have "immediately dismissed" the petition under Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-
10-SC because he substantially complied with the provision.

On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioners motion for reconsideration. In its
Resolution, the RTC stated that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies because the petitioner, in
effect, prays for a decree of absolute nullity of marriage. 21 The trial court reiterated its
two grounds for dismissal, i.e. lack of personality to sue and improper venue under
Sections 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. The RTC considered Fujiki as a "third
person"22 in the proceeding because he "is not the husband in the decree of divorce
issued by the Japanese Family Court, which he now seeks to be judicially recognized, x x
x."23 On the other hand, the RTC did not explain its ground of impropriety of venue. It
only said that "[a]lthough the Court cited Sec. 4 (Venue) x x x as a ground for dismissal
of this case[,] it should be taken together with the other ground cited by the Court x x x
which is Sec. 2(a) x x x."24
14 | P a g e

The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition based on Braza v. The
City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental. 25 The Court in Braza ruled
that "[i]n a special proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or
Correction of Entries in the Original Registry), the trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify
marriages x x x."26 Braza emphasized that the "validity of marriages as well as legitimacy
and filiation can be questioned only in a direct action seasonably filed by the proper
party, and not through a collateral attack such as [a] petition [for correction of entry] x x
x."27

The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the validity of marriage
between Marinay and Maekara. The trial court held that this is a "jurisdictional ground" to
dismiss the petition.28 Moreover, the verification and certification against forum shopping
of the petition was not authenticated as required under Section 5 29 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-
SC. Hence, this also warranted the "immediate dismissal" of the petition under the same
provision.

The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor General and the
Letters of Marinay and Maekara

On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their comment on the petition for
review.30 The public respondents, the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the
Administrator and Civil Registrar General of the NSO, participated through the Office of
the Solicitor General. Instead of a comment, the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation
and Motion.31

The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the RTCs "pronouncement
that the petitioner failed to comply with x x x A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC x x x be set aside"
and that the case be reinstated in the trial court for further proceedings. 32 The Solicitor
General argued that Fujiki, as the spouse of the first marriage, is an injured party who
can sue to declare the bigamous marriage between Marinay and Maekara void. The
Solicitor General cited Juliano-Llave v. Republic33 which held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No.
02-11-10-SC does not apply in cases of bigamy. In Juliano-Llave, this Court explained:

[t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she had only
discovered during the connubial period that the marriage was bigamous, and especially
if the conjugal bliss had already vanished. Should parties in a subsequent marriage
benefit from the bigamous marriage, it would not be expected that they would file an
action to declare the marriage void and thus, in such circumstance, the "injured spouse"
who should be given a legal remedy is the one in a subsisting previous marriage. The
latter is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only threatens the
financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most of all, it
causes an emotional burden to the prior spouse. The subsequent marriage will always be
a reminder of the infidelity of the spouse and the disregard of the prior marriage which
sanctity is protected by the Constitution.34

The Solicitor General contended that the petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court
judgment may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding. 35 In Corpuz v. Santo Tomas,36 this
Court held that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule
108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of
the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a particular
fact."37 While Corpuz concerned a foreign divorce decree, in the present case the
Japanese Family Court judgment also affected the civil status of the parties, especially
Marinay, who is a Filipino citizen.

The Solicitor General asserted that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is the procedure to
record "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons" in the
civil registry as required by Article 407 of the Civil Code. In other words, "[t]he law
requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal consequences
upon a persons legal capacity and status x x x." 38 The Japanese Family Court judgment
directly bears on the civil status of a Filipino citizen and should therefore be proven as a
fact in a Rule 108 proceeding.
15 | P a g e

Moreover, the Solicitor General argued that there is no jurisdictional infirmity in assailing
a void marriage under Rule 108, citing De Castro v. De Castro39 and Nial v. Bayadog40
which declared that "[t]he validity of a void marriage may be collaterally attacked." 41

Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to comply with the directive
for them to comment on the petition.42 Maekara wrote that Marinay concealed from him
the fact that she was previously married to Fujiki. 43 Maekara also denied that he inflicted
any form of violence on Marinay.44 On the other hand, Marinay wrote that she had no
reason to oppose the petition.45 She would like to maintain her silence for fear that
anything she say might cause misunderstanding between her and Fujiki.46

The Issues

Petitioner raises the following legal issues:

(1) Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and
Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) is applicable.

(2) Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to recognize a
foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between his or her spouse
and a foreign citizen on the ground of bigamy.

(3) Whether the Regional Trial Court can recognize the foreign judgment in a
proceeding for cancellation or correction of entries in the Civil Registry under Rule
108 of the Rules of Court.

The Ruling of the Court

We grant the petition.

The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign
judgment relating to the status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a
foreign country. Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v. Republic,47 this Court held that the rule in
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the husband or wife can file a declaration of nullity or
annulment of marriage "does not apply if the reason behind the petition is bigamy."48

I.

For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage
where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country, the petitioner only needs to
prove the foreign judgment as a fact under the Rules of Court. To be more specific, a
copy of the foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under
Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court. 49
Petitioner may prove the Japanese Family Court judgment through (1) an official
publication or (2) a certification or copy attested by the officer who has custody of the
judgment. If the office which has custody is in a foreign country such as Japan, the
certification may be made by the proper diplomatic or consular officer of the Philippine
foreign service in Japan and authenticated by the seal of office.50

To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for recognition of foreign
judgment would mean that the trial court and the parties should follow its provisions,
including the form and contents of the petition, 51 the service of summons,52 the
investigation of the public prosecutor,53 the setting of pre-trial,54 the trial55 and the
judgment of the trial court.56 This is absurd because it will litigate the case anew. It will
defeat the purpose of recognizing foreign judgments, which is "to limit repetitive
litigation on claims and issues." 57 The interpretation of the RTC is tantamount to
relitigating the case on the merits. In Mijares v. Raada,58 this Court explained that "[i]f
every judgment of a foreign court were reviewable on the merits, the plaintiff would be
forced back on his/her original cause of action, rendering immaterial the previously
concluded litigation."59
16 | P a g e

A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the civil status, condition
and legal capacity of its parties. However, the effect of a foreign judgment is not
automatic. To extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines, Philippine courts
must determine if the foreign judgment is consistent with domestic public policy and
other mandatory laws.60 Article 15 of the Civil Code provides that "[l]aws relating to
family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are
binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad." This is the rule of
lex nationalii in private international law. Thus, the Philippine State may require, for
effectivity in the Philippines, recognition by Philippine courts of a foreign judgment
affecting its citizen, over whom it exercises personal jurisdiction relating to the status,
condition and legal capacity of such citizen.

A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does not require
relitigation under a Philippine court of the case as if it were a new petition for declaration
of nullity of marriage. Philippine courts cannot presume to know the foreign laws under
which the foreign judgment was rendered. They cannot substitute their judgment on the
status, condition and legal capacity of the foreign citizen who is under the jurisdiction of
another state. Thus, Philippine courts can only recognize the foreign judgment as a fact
according to the rules of evidence.

Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign judgment or final
order against a person creates a "presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties
and their successors in interest by a subsequent title." Moreover, Section 48 of the Rules
of Court states that "the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want
of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or
fact." Thus, Philippine courts exercise limited review on foreign judgments. Courts are
not allowed to delve into the merits of a foreign judgment. Once a foreign judgment is
admitted and proven 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, collusion, fraud, or clear
mistake of law or fact." The rule on limited review embodies the policy of efficiency and
the protection of party expectations,61 as well as respecting the jurisdiction of other
states.62

Since 1922 in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee, 63 Philippine courts have recognized foreign
divorce decrees between a Filipino and a foreign citizen if they are successfully proven
under the rules of evidence. 64 Divorce involves the dissolution of a marriage, but the
recognition of a foreign divorce decree does not involve the extended procedure under
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the rules of ordinary trial. While the Philippines does not have a
divorce law, Philippine courts may, however, recognize a foreign divorce decree under
the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, to capacitate a Filipino citizen to
remarry when his or her foreign spouse obtained a divorce decree abroad.65

There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a fact the Japanese
Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the
ground of bigamy. While the Philippines has no divorce law, the Japanese Family Court
judgment is fully consistent with Philippine public policy, as bigamous marriages are
declared void from the beginning under Article 35(4) of the Family Code. Bigamy is a
crime under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. Thus, Fujiki can prove the existence
of the Japanese Family Court judgment in accordance with Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25,
in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.

II.

Since the recognition of a foreign judgment only requires proof of fact of the judgment, it
may be made in a special proceeding for 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
provides that "[a] special proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a
status, a right, or a particular fact." Rule 108 creates a remedy to rectify facts of a
persons life which are recorded by the State pursuant to the Civil Register Law or Act
No. 3753. These are facts of public consequence such as birth, death or marriage, 66
which the State has an interest in recording. As noted by the Solicitor General, in Corpuz
17 | P a g e

v. Sto. Tomas this Court declared that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce decree
may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such
as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a
party or a particular fact."67

Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states:

Sec. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event, order or
decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the
civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry
relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the province where the corresponding
civil registry is located. (Emphasis supplied)

Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court
judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy
because the judgment concerns his civil status as married to Marinay. For the same
reason he has the personality to file a petition under Rule 108 to cancel the entry of
marriage between Marinay and Maekara in the civil registry on the basis of the decree of
the Japanese Family Court.

There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material interest in
maintaining the integrity of the marriage he contracted and the property relations arising
from it. There is also no doubt that he is interested in the cancellation of an entry of a
bigamous marriage in the civil registry, which compromises the public record of his
marriage. The interest derives from the substantive right of the spouse not only to
preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances 68) his most intimate human relation, but also to
protect his property interests that arise by operation of law the moment he contracts
marriage.69 These property interests in marriage include the right to be supported "in
keeping with the financial capacity of the family" 70 and preserving the property regime of
the marriage.71

Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the Constitution, 72 but a
spouses right in a marriage extends further to relational rights recognized under Title III
("Rights and Obligations between Husband and Wife") of the Family Code. 73 A.M. No. 02-
11-10-SC cannot "diminish, increase, or modify" the substantive right of the spouse to
maintain the integrity of his 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 to the husband or the
wife of the union recognized by law.

Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse of a subsisting marriage
to question the validity of a subsequent marriage on the ground of bigamy. On the
contrary, when Section 2(a) states that "[a] petition for declaration of absolute nullity of
void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife"75it refers to the
husband or the wife of the subsisting marriage. Under Article 35(4) of the Family Code,
bigamous marriages are void from the beginning. Thus, the parties in a bigamous
marriage are neither the husband nor the wife under the law. The husband or the wife of
the prior subsisting marriage is the one who has the personality to file a petition for
declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage under Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-
SC.

Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous marriages void from the
beginning, is the civil aspect of Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, 76 which penalizes
bigamy. Bigamy is a public crime. Thus, anyone can initiate prosecution for bigamy
because any citizen has an interest in the prosecution and prevention of crimes. 77 If
anyone can file a criminal action which leads to the declaration of nullity of a bigamous
marriage,78 there is more reason to confer personality to sue on the husband or the wife
of a subsisting marriage. The prior spouse does not only share in the public interest of
prosecuting and preventing crimes, he is also personally interested in the purely civil
aspect of protecting his marriage.
18 | P a g e

When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated, the spouse is clearly an
injured party and is therefore interested in the judgment of the suit. 79 Juliano-Llave ruled
that the prior spouse "is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage not only
threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior marriage but most
of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior spouse." 80 Being a real party in interest,
the prior spouse is entitled to sue in order to declare a bigamous marriage void. For this
purpose, he can petition a court to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the bigamous
marriage and judicially declare as a fact that such judgment is effective in the
Philippines. Once established, there should be no more impediment to cancel the entry
of the bigamous marriage in the civil registry.

III.

In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, this Court held
that a "trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages" in a special proceeding for
cancellation or correction of entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. 81 Thus, the
"validity of marriage[] x x x can be questioned only in a direct action" to nullify the
marriage.82 The RTC relied on Braza in dismissing the petition for recognition of foreign
judgment as a collateral attack on the marriage between Marinay and Maekara.

Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a recognition of a foreign
judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of the
foreign country.

To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil registry cannot
substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. A direct action is necessary to prevent
circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under the
Family Code, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these safeguards are
the requirement of proving the limited grounds for the dissolution of marriage, 83 support
pendente lite of the spouses and children,84 the liquidation, partition and distribution of
the properties of the spouses, 85 and the investigation of the public prosecutor to
determine collusion.86 A direct action for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage
is also necessary to prevent circumvention of the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under
the Family Courts Act of 1997 (Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or
correction of entries in the civil registry may be filed in the Regional Trial Court "where
the corresponding civil registry is located." 87 In other words, a Filipino citizen cannot
dissolve his marriage by the mere expedient of changing his entry of marriage in the civil
registry.

However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or cancellation of a civil registry
entry based on the recognition of a foreign judgment annulling a marriage where one of
the parties is a citizen of the foreign country. There is neither circumvention of the
substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under Philippine law, nor of the
jurisdiction of Family Courts under R.A. No. 8369. A recognition of a foreign judgment is
not an action to nullify a marriage. It is an action for Philippine courts to recognize the
effectivity of a foreign judgment, which presupposes a case which was already
tried and decided under foreign law. The procedure in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does
not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment annulling a bigamous marriage
where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country. Neither can R.A. No. 8369
define the jurisdiction of the foreign court.

Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the effect
of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without undergoing trial to determine the
validity of the dissolution of the marriage. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code provides that "[w]here a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner
is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to
remarry under Philippine law." In Republic v. Orbecido,88 this Court recognized the
legislative intent of the second paragraph of Article 26 which is "to avoid the absurd
situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after
obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse" 89 under the laws of his or
19 | P a g e

her country. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code only authorizes
Philippine courts to adopt the effects of a foreign divorce decree precisely because the
Philippines does not allow divorce. Philippine courts cannot try the case on the merits
because it is tantamount to trying a case for divorce.

The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure to address the anomaly
that results from a marriage between a Filipino, whose laws do not allow divorce, and a
foreign citizen, whose laws allow divorce. The anomaly consists in the Filipino spouse
being tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his
or her country. The correction is made by extending in the Philippines the effect of the
foreign divorce decree, which is already effective in the country where it was rendered.
The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code is based on this Courts decision
in Van Dorn v. Romillo90 which declared that the Filipino spouse "should not be
discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served."91

The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a marriage between a Filipino and
a foreign citizen who obtains a foreign judgment nullifying the marriage on the ground of
bigamy. The Filipino spouse may file a petition abroad to declare the marriage void on
the ground of bigamy. The principle in the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
Code applies because the foreign spouse, after the foreign judgment nullifying the
marriage, is capacitated to remarry under the laws of his or her country. If the foreign
judgment is not recognized in the Philippines, the Filipino spouse will be discriminated
the foreign spouse can remarry while the Filipino spouse cannot remarry.

Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine courts are
empowered to correct a situation where the Filipino spouse is still tied to the marriage
while the foreign spouse is free to marry. Moreover, notwithstanding Article 26 of the
Family Code, Philippine courts already have jurisdiction to extend the effect of a foreign
judgment in the Philippines to the extent that the foreign judgment does not contravene
domestic public policy. A critical difference between the case of a foreign divorce decree
and a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is that bigamy, as a ground for
the nullity of marriage, is fully consistent with Philippine public policy as expressed in
Article 35(4) of the Family Code and Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The Filipino
spouse has the option to undergo full trial by filing a petition for declaration of nullity of
marriage under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only remedy available to him or
her. Philippine courts have jurisdiction to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying a
bigamous marriage, without prejudice to a criminal prosecution for bigamy.

In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are incompetent to substitute


their judgment on how a case was decided under foreign law. They cannot decide on the
"family rights and duties, or on the status, condition and legal capacity" of the foreign
citizen who is a party to the foreign judgment. Thus, Philippine courts are limited to the
question of whether to extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines. In a
foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage involving a citizen of a foreign
country, Philippine courts only decide whether to extend its effect to the Filipino party,
under the rule of lex nationalii expressed in Article 15 of the Civil Code.

For this purpose, Philippine courts will only determine (1) whether the foreign judgment
is inconsistent with an overriding public policy in the Philippines; and (2) whether any
alleging party is able to prove an extrinsic ground to repel the foreign judgment, i.e. want
of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or
fact. If there is neither inconsistency with public policy nor adequate proof to repel the
judgment, Philippine courts should, by default, recognize the foreign judgment as part of
the comity of nations. Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court states that the foreign
judgment is already "presumptive evidence of a right between the parties." Upon
recognition of the foreign judgment, this right becomes conclusive and the judgment
serves as the basis for the correction or cancellation of entry in the civil registry. The
recognition of the foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is a subsequent
event that establishes a new status, right and fact 92 that needs to be reflected in the civil
registry. Otherwise, there will be an inconsistency between the recognition of the
effectivity of the foreign judgment and the public records in the Philippines.1wphi1
20 | P a g e

However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is without


prejudice to prosecution for bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. 93 The
recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is not a ground for
extinction of criminal liability under Articles 89 and 94 of the Revised Penal Code.
Moreover, under Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code, "[t]he term of prescription [of the
crime of bigamy] shall not run when the offender is absent from the Philippine
archipelago."

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 contents and form of the petition under Sections 4 and
5, respectively, of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Order dated 31 January 2011 and the
Resolution dated 2 March 2011 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 107, Quezon City, in
Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is
ORDERED to REINSTATE the petition for further proceedings in accordance with this
Decision.

SO ORDERED.

Brion, Del Castillo, Perez, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1
Penned by Judge Jose L. Bautista Jr.
2
In Pasay City, Metro Manila.
3
See rollo, p. 88; Trial Family Court Decree No. 15 of 2009, Decree of Absolute
Nullity of Marriage between Maria Paz Galela Marinay and Shinichi Maekara dated
18 August 2010. Translated by Yoshiaki Kurisu, Kurisu Gyoseishoshi Lawyers Office
(see rollo, p. 89).
4
Id.
5
FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES (E.O. No. 209 as amended):

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

xxxx

(4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not falling under Article 41;

xxxx

Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during subsistence of a


previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the
subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive
years and the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent
spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger of
death under the circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of
the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.
6
Rollo, pp. 79-80.
7
The dispositive portion stated:

WHEREFORE, the instant case is hereby ordered DISMISSED and WITHDRAWN from
the active civil docket of this Court. The RTC-OCC, Quezon City is directed to refund
21 | P a g e

to the petitioner the amount of One Thousand Pesos (P1,000) to be taken from the
Sheriffs Trust Fund.
8
Rollo, pp. 44-45. Section 5 of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) provides:

Sec. 5. Contents and form of petition. (1) The petition shall allege the
complete facts constituting the cause of action.

(2) It shall state the names and ages of the common children of the parties
and specify the regime governing their property relations, as well as the
properties involved.

If there is no adequate provision in a written agreement between the parties,


the petitioner may apply for a provisional order for spousal support, custody
and support of common children, visitation rights, administration of
community or conjugal property, and other matters similarly requiring urgent
action.

(3) It must be verified and accompanied by a certification against forum


shopping. The verification and certification must be signed personally by the
petitioner. No petition may be filed solely by counsel or through an attorney-
in-fact.

If the petitioner is in a foreign country, the verification and certification


against forum shopping shall be authenticated by the duly authorized officer
of the Philippine embassy or legation, consul general, consul or vice-consul
or consular agent in said country.

(4) It shall be filed in six copies. The petitioner shall serve a copy of the
petition on the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the City or
Provincial Prosecutor, within five days from the date of its filing and submit to
the court proof of such service within the same period.

Failure to comply with any of the preceding requirements may be a ground


for immediate dismissal of the petition.
9
RULES OF COURT, Rule 1, Sec. 3(c). See rollo, pp. 55-56 (Petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration).
10
RULES OF COURT, Rule 1, Sec. 3(a).
11
FAMILY CODE (E.O. No. 209 as amended), Art. 35. The following marriages shall
be void from the beginning:

xxxx

(4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not falling under Article 41;

xxxx
12
Rollo, p. 56.
13
FAMILY CODE, Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of
the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity
becomes manifest only after its solemnization.
14
Rollo, p. 68.
15
Enacted 26 November 1930.
22 | P a g e

16
CIVIL CODE, Art. 413. All other matters pertaining to the registration of civil
status shall be governed by special laws.
17
Act No. 3753, Sec. 7. Registration of marriage. - All civil officers and priests or
ministers authorized to solemnize marriages shall send a copy of each marriage
contract solemnized by them to the local civil registrar within the time limit
specified in the existing Marriage Law.

In cases of divorce and annulment of marriage, it shall be the duty of the


successful petitioner for divorce or annulment of marriage to send a copy of
the final decree of the court to the local civil registrar of the municipality
where the dissolved or annulled marriage was solemnized.

In the marriage register there shall be entered the full name and address of
each of the contracting parties, their ages, the place and date of the
solemnization of the marriage, the names and addresses of the witnesses,
the full name, address, and relationship of the minor contracting party or
parties or the person or persons who gave their consent to the marriage, and
the full name, title, and address of the person who solemnized the marriage.

In cases of divorce or annulment of marriages, there shall be recorded the


names of the parties divorced or whose marriage was annulled, the date of
the decree of the court, and such other details as the regulations to be
issued may require.
18
RULES OF COURT, Rule 108, Sec. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction.
Upon good and valid grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be
cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations;
(e) judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void
from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of
natural children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (1)
civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation
of a minor; and (o) changes of name.
29
Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC states in part:

Contents and form of petition. x x x

xxxx

(3) It must be verified and accompanied by a certification against forum


shopping. The verification and certification must be signed personally by the
petitioner. No petition may be filed solely by counsel or through an attorney-
in-fact.

If the petitioner is in a foreign country, the verification and certification


against forum shopping shall be authenticated by the duly authorized officer
of the Philippine embassy or legation, consul general, consul or vice-consul
or consular agent in said country.

xxxx

Failure to comply with any of the preceding requirements may be a ground


for immediate dismissal of the petition.
30
Resolution dated 30 May 2011. Rollo, p. 105.
31
Under Solicitor General Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz.
32
Rollo, p. 137. The "Conclusion and Prayer" of the "Manifestation and Motion (In
Lieu of Comment)" of the Solicitor General stated:
23 | P a g e

In fine, the court a quos pronouncement that the petitioner failed to comply with
the requirements provided in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC should accordingly be set
aside. It is, thus, respectfully prayed that Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 be reinstated
for further proceedings.

Other reliefs, just and equitable under the premises are likewise prayed for.
33
G.R. No. 169766, 30 March 2011, 646 SCRA 637.
34
Id. at 656. Quoted in the Manifestation and Motion of the Solicitor General, pp. 8-
9. See rollo, pp. 132-133.
49
RULES OF COURT, Rule 132, Sec. 24. Proof of official record. The record of
public documents referred to in paragraph (a) of Section 19, when admissible for
any purpose, may be evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a copy
attested by the officer having the legal custody of the record, or by his deputy, and
accompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines, with a certificate that such
officer has the custody. If the office in which the record is kept is in a foreign
country, the certificate may be made by a secretary of the embassy or legation,
consul general, consul, vice consul, or consular agent or by any officer in the
foreign service of the Philippines stationed in the foreign country in which the
record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his office.

Sec. 25. What attestation of copy must state. Whenever a copy of a


document or record is attested for the purpose of evidence, the attestation
must state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or a
specific part thereof, as the case may be. The attestation must be under the
official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any, or if he be the clerk of a
court having a seal, under the seal of such court.

Rule 39, Sec. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. The effect of a
judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction
to render the judgment or final order, is as follows:

(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment or
final order is conclusive upon the title of the thing; and

(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or


final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and
their successors in interest by a subsequent title.

In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a


want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear
mistake of law or fact.
50
See RULES OF COURT, Rule 132, Sec. 24-25. See also Corpuz v. Santo Tomas,
supra note 36 at 282.

xxxx

Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which
have for their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not
be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by
determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.
61
Mijares v. Raada, supra note 57 at 386. "Otherwise known as the policy of
preclusion, it seeks to protect party expectations resulting from previous litigation,
to safeguard against the harassment of defendants, to insure that the task of
courts not be increased by never-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 law: rest and quietness." (Citations omitted)
24 | P a g e

62
Mijares v. Raada, supra note 57 at 382. "The rules of comity, utility and
convenience of nations have established a usage among civilized states by which
final judgments of foreign courts of competent jurisdiction are reciprocally
respected and rendered efficacious under certain conditions that may vary in
different countries." (Citations omitted)
63
43 Phil. 43 (1922).
64
Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas, G.R. No. 186571, 11 August 2010, 628 SCRA 266, 280;
Garcia v. Recio, 418 Phil. 723 (2001); Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee, supra.
65
FAMILY CODE, Art. 26. x x x

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated


and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating
him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under
Philippine law.
66
Act No. 3753, Sec. 1. Civil Register. A civil register is established for recording
the civil status of persons, in which shall be entered: (a) births; (b) deaths; (c)
marriages; (d) annulments of marriages; (e) divorces; (f) legitimations; (g)
adoptions; (h) acknowledgment of natural children; (i) naturalization; and (j)
changes of name.

Cf. RULES OF COURT, Rule 108, Sec. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or


correction. Upon good and valid grounds, the following entries in the civil
register may be cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths;
(d) legal separations; (e) judgments of annulments of marriage; (f)
judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h)
adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural children; (j) naturalization; (k)
election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (1) civil interdiction; (m) judicial
determination of filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o)
changes of name.
67
Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas, supra note 36 at 287.
68
FAMILY CODE, Art. 35-67.
69
FAMILY CODE, Art. 74-148.
70
FAMILY CODE, Art. 195 in relation to Art. 194.
71
See supra note 69.
72
CONSTITUTION, Art. III, Sec. 1: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or
property without due process of law x x x."
73
FAMILY CODE, Art. 68-73.
74
CONSTITUTION, Art. VIII, Sec. 5(5). The Supreme Court shall have the following
powers:

xxxx

(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of


constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the
admission to the practice of law, the integrated bar, and legal assistance to
the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive
procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts
of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify
substantive rights. x x x
25 | P a g e

x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
75
Emphasis supplied.
76
Revised Penal Code (Act No. 3815, as amended), Art. 349. Bigamy. - The penalty
of prisin mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or
subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or
before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a
judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.
77
See III RAMON AQUINO, THE REVISED PENAL CODE (1997), 518.
78
RULES OF COURT, Rule 111, Sec. 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a)
When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability
arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with the criminal
action unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to
institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.

xxxx
79
Cf. RULES OF COURT, Rule 3, Sec. 2. Parties in interest. A real party in interest
is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or
the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or
these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real
party in interest.
80
Juliano-Llave v. Republic, supra note 33.
81
Supra note 25.
82
Supra note 25.
83
See supra note 68.
84
FAMILY CODE, Art. 49. During the pendency of the action and in the absence of
adequate provisions in a written agreement between the spouses, the Court shall
provide for the support of the spouses and the custody and support of their
common children. The Court shall give paramount consideration to the moral and
material welfare of said children and their choice of the parent with whom they
wish to remain as provided to in Title IX. It shall also provide for appropriate
visitation rights of the other parent.

Cf. RULES OF COURT, Rule 61.


85
FAMILY CODE, Art. 50. The effects provided for by paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and (5)
of Article 43 and by Article 44 shall also apply in the proper cases to marriages
which are declared ab initio or annulled by final judgment under Articles 40 and 45.

The final judgment in such cases shall provide for the liquidation, partition
and distribution of the properties of the spouses, the custody and support of
the common children, and the delivery of third presumptive legitimes, unless
such matters had been adjudicated in previous judicial proceedings.

All creditors of the spouses as well as of the absolute community or the


conjugal partnership shall be notified of the proceedings for liquidation.

In the partition, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated, shall
be adjudicated in accordance with the provisions of Articles 102 and 129.

A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, Sec. 19. Decision. (1) If the court renders a decision
granting the petition, it shall declare therein that the decree of absolute
26 | P a g e

nullity or decree of annulment shall be issued by the court only after


compliance with Articles 50 and 51 of the Family Code as implemented under
the Rule on Liquidation, Partition and Distribution of Properties.

xxxx
86
FAMILY CODE, Art. 48. In all cases of annulment or declaration of absolute nullity
of marriage, the Court shall order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it
to appear on behalf of the State to take steps to prevent collusion between the
parties and to take care that evidence is not fabricated or suppressed.

In the cases referred to in the preceding paragraph, no judgment shall be


based upon a stipulation of facts or confession of judgment.

A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, Sec. 9. Investigation report of public prosecutor. (1)


Within one month after receipt of the court order mentioned in paragraph (3)
of Section 8 above, the public prosecutor shall submit a report to the court
stating whether the parties are in collusion and serve copies thereof on the
parties and their respective counsels, if any.

(2) If the public prosecutor finds that collusion exists, he shall state the basis
thereof in his report. The parties shall file their respective comments on the
finding of collusion within ten days from receipt of a copy of the report The
court shall set the report for hearing and if convinced that the parties are in
collusion, it shall dismiss the petition.

(3) If the public prosecutor reports that no collusion exists, the court shall set
the case for pre-trial. It shall be the duty of the public prosecutor to appear
for the State at the pre-trial.
87
RULES OF COURT, Rule 108, Sec. 1.
88
509 Phil. 108 (2005).
89
Id. at 114.
90
223 Phil. 357 (1985).
91
Id. at 363.
92
See RULES OF COURT, Rule 1, Sec. 3(c).
93
See RULES OF COURT, Rule 72, Sec. 2. Applicability of rules of civil actions. In
the absence of special provisions, the rules provided for in ordinary actions shall
be, as far as practicable, applicable in special proceedings.

Rule 111, Sec. 2. When separate civil action is suspended. x x x

If the criminal action is filed after the said civil action has already been
instituted, the latter shall be suspended in whatever stage it may be found
before judgment on the merits. The suspension shall last until final judgment
is rendered in the criminal action. Nevertheless, before judgment on the
merits is rendered in the civil action, the same may, upon motion of the
offended party, be consolidated with the criminal action in the court trying
the criminal action. In case of consolidation, the evidence already adduced in
the civil action shall be deemed automatically reproduced in the criminal
action without prejudice to the right of the prosecution to cross-examine the
witnesses presented by the offended party in the criminal case and of the
parties to present additional evidence. The consolidated criminal and civil
actions shall be tried and decided jointly.
27 | P a g e

During the pendency of the criminal action, the running of the period of
prescription of the civil action which cannot be instituted separately or whose
proceeding has been suspended shall be tolled.

The extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the civil
action. However, the civil action based on delict shall be deemed
extinguished if there is a finding in a final judgment in the criminal action
that the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist.

FUJIKI vs. MARINAY

Citation: G.R. No. 196049, June 26, 2013


Ponente: Carpio; SECOND DIVISION

Doctrine:
Recognition of foreign judgment declaring nullity of marriage A recognition of a
foreign judgment is not an action to nullify a marriage. It is an action for Philippine
courts to recognize the effectivity of a foreign judgment, which presupposes a case
which was already tried and decided under foreign law. Article 26 of the Family
Code further confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the effect of a
foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without undergoing trial to determine
the validity of the dissolution of the marriage. The second paragraph of Article 26 of
the Family Code provides that [w]here a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a
foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by
the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have
capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

FACTS:
Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki), a Japanese national married respondent Maria Paz
Galela Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines on January 23, 2004. Sadly, petitioner
Fujiki could not bring respondent Marinay back to Japan and they eventually lost
contact with one another. In 2008, Marinay met Shinichi Maekara and they married
without the earlier marriage being dissolved.

Marinay suffered abuse from Maekara and so she left him and was able to
reestablish contact with Fujiki and rekindle their relationship. The couple was able
to obtain a judgment in a Japanese court that declared Marinay's marriage to
Maekara void on the ground of bigamy in 2010. Fujiki then filed a petition in the
RTC entitled: Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute
Nullity of Marriage). In this case, petitioner prayed that:

(1) the Japanese Family Court judgment be recognized; (2) that the bigamous
marriage between Marinay and Maekara be declared void ab initio under Articles
35(4) and 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines; and (3) for the RTC to direct the
Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City to annotate the Japanese Family Court
judgment on the Certificate of Marriage between Marinay and Maekara and to
endorse such annotation to the Office of the Administrator and Civil Registrar
General in the National Statistics Office (NSO).

The trial court dismissed the petition on the ground that it did not meet standing
and venue requirements as prescribed on the Rule on Rule on Declaration of
Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No.
02-11-10-SC), specifically, only the spouses (i.e. Marimay or Maekara) may file an
action for declaration of nullity of marriage. Petitioner in a Motion for
Reconsideration claimed that the case should not be dismissed as the above rule
applied only to cases of annulment of marriage on the ground of psychological
incapacity and not in a petition for recognition of a foreign judgment. Notably,
when the Solicitor General was asked for comment, it agreed with the Petitioner
stating that the above rule should not apply to cases of bigamy and that insofar as
the Civil Registrar and the NSO are concerned, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court
provide the procedure to be followed. Lastly, the Solicitor General argued that
28 | P a g e

there is no jurisdictional infirmity in assailing a void marriage under Rule 108, citing
De Castro v. De Castro and Nial v. Bayadog which declared that [t]he validity of a
void marriage may be collaterally attacked.

ISSUE:
Whether or not a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to recognize
a foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between his or her spouse
and a foreign citizen on the ground of bigamy.

HELD:
YES. Firstly, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and
Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not apply in a
petition to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage where
one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country. Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v.
Republic, this Court held that the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the
husband or wife can file a declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage does not
apply if the reason behind the petition is bigamy.

The Supreme Court further held that:

For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a


marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country, the petitioner
only needs to prove the foreign judgment as a fact under the Rules of Court. To be
more specific, a copy of the foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and
proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section
48(b) of the Rules of Court. Petitioner may prove the Japanese Family Court
judgment through (1) an official publication or (2) a certification or copy attested by
the officer who has custody of the judgment. If the office which has custody is in a
foreign country such as Japan, the certification may be made by the proper
diplomatic or consular officer of the Philippine foreign service in Japan and
authenticated by the seal of office.

xxx

A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does not


require relitigation under a Philippine court of the case as if it were a new petition
for declaration of nullity of marriage. Philippine courts cannot presume to know the
foreign laws under which the foreign judgment was rendered. They cannot
substitute their judgment on the status, condition and legal capacity of the foreign
citizen who is under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine courts can
only recognize the foreign judgment as a fact according to the rules of evidence.

xxx

There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a fact the


Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and
Maekara on the ground of bigamy. While the Philippines has no divorce law, the
Japanese Family Court judgment is fully consistent with Philippine public policy, as
bigamous marriages are declared void from the beginning under Article 35(4) of
the Family Code. Bigamy is a crime under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.
Thus, Fujiki can prove the existence of the Japanese Family Court judgment in
accordance with Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b)
of the Rules of Court.

A recognition of a foreign judgment is not an action to nullify a marriage. It is an


action for Philippine courts to recognize the effectivity of a foreign judgment, which
presupposes a case which was already tried and decided under foreign law. Article
26 of the Family Code further confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the
effect of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without undergoing trial to
determine the validity of the dissolution of the marriage. The second paragraph of
Article 26 of the Family Code provides that [w]here a marriage between a Filipino
29 | P a g e

citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly


obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino
spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

Petition was granted and the RTC was ordered to reinstate the proceedings.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 201061 July 3, 2013

SALLY GO-BANGAYAN, Petitioner,


vs.
BENJAMIN BANGAYAN, JR., Respondent.

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a petition for review 1 assailing the 17 August 2011 Decision 2 and the
14 March 2012 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 94226.

The Antecedent Facts

On 15 March 2004, Benjamin Bangayan, Jr. (Benjamin) filed a petition for declaration of a
non-existent marriage and/or declaration of nullity of marriage before the Regional Trial
Court of Manila, Branch 43 (trial court). The case was docketed as Civil Case No.
04109401. Benjamin alleged that on 10 September 1973, he married Azucena Alegre
(Azucena) in Caloocan City. They had three children, namely, Rizalyn, Emmamylin, and
Benjamin III.

In 1979, Benjamin developed a romantic relationship with Sally GoBangayan (Sally) who
was a customer in the auto parts and supplies business owned by Benjamins family. In
December 1981, Azucena left for the United States of America. In February 1982,
Benjamin and Sally lived together as husband and wife. Sallys father was against the
relationship. On 7 March 1982, in order to appease her father, Sally brought Benjamin to
an office in Santolan, Pasig City where they signed a purported marriage contract. Sally,
knowing Benjamins marital status, assured him that the marriage contract would not be
registered.

Benjamin and Sallys cohabitation produced two children, Bernice and Bentley. During
the period of their cohabitation, they acquired the following real properties:
30 | P a g e

(1) property under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 61722 registered in the
names of Benjamin and Sally as spouses;

(2) properties under TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860 registered in the name of
Benjamin, married to Sally;

(3) properties under Condominium Certificate of Title (CCT) Nos. 8782 and 8783
registered in the name of Sally, married to Benjamin; and

(4) properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 registered in the name of
Sally as a single individual.

The relationship of Benjamin and Sally ended in 1994 when Sally left for Canada,
bringing Bernice and Bentley with her. She then filed criminal actions for bigamy and
falsification of public documents against Benjamin, using their simulated marriage
contract as evidence. Benjamin, in turn, filed a petition for declaration of a non-existent
marriage and/or declaration of nullity of marriage before the trial court on the ground
that his marriage to Sally was bigamous and that it lacked the formal requisites to a valid
marriage. Benjamin also asked the trial court for the partition of the properties he
acquired with Sally in accordance with Article 148 of the Family Code, for his
appointment as administrator of the properties during the pendency of the case, and for
the declaration of Bernice and Bentley as illegitimate children. A total of 44 registered
properties became the subject of the partition before the trial court. Aside from the
seven properties enumerated by Benjamin in his petition, Sally named 37 properties in
her answer.

After Benjamin presented his evidence, Sally filed a demurrer to evidence which the trial
court denied. Sally filed a motion for reconsideration which the trial court also denied.
Sally filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals and asked for the issuance
of a temporary restraining order and/or injunction which the Court of Appeals never
issued. Sally then refused to present any evidence before the trial court citing the
pendency of her petition before the Court of Appeals. The trial court gave Sally several
opportunities to present her evidence on 28 February 2008, 10 July 2008, 4 September
2008, 11 September 2008, 2 October 2008, 23 October 2008, and 28 November 2008.
Despite repeated warnings from the trial court, Sally still refused to present her
evidence, prompting the trial court to consider the case submitted for decision.

The Decision of the Trial Court

In a Decision4 dated 26 March 2009, the trial court ruled in favor ofBenjamin. The trial
court gave weight to the certification dated 21 July 2004 from the Pasig Local Civil
Registrar, which was confirmed during trial, that only Marriage License Series Nos.
6648100 to 6648150 were issued for the month of February 1982 and the purported
Marriage License No. N-07568 was not issued to Benjamin and Sally. 5 The trial court ruled
that the marriage was not recorded with the local civil registrar and the National
Statistics Office because it could not be registered due to Benjamins subsisting marriage
with Azucena.

The trial court ruled that the marriage between Benjamin and Sally was not bigamous.
The trial court ruled that the second marriage was void not because of the existence of
the first marriage but because of other causes, particularly, the lack of a marriage
license. Hence, bigamy was not committed in this case. The trial court did not rule on the
issue of the legitimacy status of Bernice and Bentley because they were not parties to
the case. The trial court denied Sallys claim for spousal support because she was not
married to Benjamin. The trial court likewise denied support for Bernice and Bentley who
were both of legal age and did not ask for support.

On the issue of partition, the trial court ruled that Sally could not claim the 37 properties
she named in her answer as part of her conjugal properties with Benjamin. The trial court
ruled that Sally was not legally married to Benjamin. Further, the 37 properties that Sally
was claiming were owned by Benjamins parents who gave the properties to their
31 | P a g e

children, including Benjamin, as advance inheritance. The 37 titles were in the names of
Benjamin and his brothers and the phrase "married to Sally Go" was merely descriptive
of Benjamins civil status in the title. As regards the two lots under TCT Nos. 61720 and
190860, the trial court found that they were bought by Benjamin using his own money
and that Sally failed to prove any actual contribution of money, property or industry in
their purchase. The trial court found that Sally was a registered co-owner of the lots
covered by TCT Nos. 61722, N-193656, and 253681 as well as the two condominium
units under CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783. However, the trial court ruled that the lot under
TCT No. 61722 and the two condominium units were purchased from the earnings of
Benjamin alone. The trial court ruled that the properties under TCT Nos. 61722, 61720,
and 190860 and CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 were part of the conjugal partnership of
Benjamin and Azucena, without prejudice to Benjamins right to dispute his conjugal
state with Azucena in a separate proceeding.

The trial court further ruled that Sally acted in bad faith because she knew that Benjamin
was married to Azucena. Applying Article 148 of the Family Code, the trial court forfeited
Sallys share in the properties covered under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 in favor of
Bernice and Bentley while Benjamins share reverted to his conjugal ownership with
Azucena.

The dispositive portion of the trial courts decision reads:

ACCORDINGLY, the marriage of BENJAMIN BANGAYAN, JR. and SALLY S. GO on March 7,


1982 at Santolan, Pasig, Metro Manila is hereby declared NULL and VOID AB INITIO. It is
further declared NONEXISTENT.

Respondents claim as co-owner or conjugal owner of the thirtyseven (37) properties


under TCT Nos. 17722, 17723, 17724, 17725, 126397, RT-73480, and RT-86821; in
Manila, TCT Nos. 188949, 188950, 188951, 193035, 194620, 194621, 194622, 194623,
194624, 194625, 194626, 194627, 194628, 194629, 194630, 194631, 194632, 194633,
194634, 194635, 194636, 194637, 194638, 194639, 198651, 206209, 206210, 206211,
206213 and 206215 is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The registered owners, namely:
Benjamin B. Bangayan, Jr., Roberto E. Bangayan, Ricardo B. Bangayan and Rodrigo B.
Bangayan are the owners to the exclusion of "Sally Go" Consequently, the Registry of
Deeds for Quezon City and Manila are directed to delete the words "married to Sally Go"
from these thirty-seven (37) titles.

Properties under TCT Nos. 61722, 61720 and 190860, CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 are
properties acquired from petitioners money without contribution from respondent,
hence, these are properties of the petitioner and his lawful wife. Consequently, petitioner
is appointed the administrator of these five (5) properties. Respondent is ordered to
submit an accounting of her collections of income from these five (5) properties within
thirty (30) days from notice hereof. Except for lot under TCT No. 61722, respondent is
further directed within thirty (30) days from notice hereof to turn over and surrender
control and possession of these properties including the documents of title to the
petitioner.

On the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and N-253681, these properties are under
co-ownership of the parties shared by them equally. However, the share of respondent is
declared FORFEITED in favor of Bernice Go Bangayan and Bentley Go Bangayan. The
share of the petitioner shall belong to his conjugal ownership with Azucena Alegre. The
liquidation, partition and distribution of these two (2) properties shall be further
processed pursuant to Section 21 of A.M. No. 02-11-10 of March 15, 2003.

Other properties shall be adjudicated in a later proceeding pursuant to Section 21 of A.M.


No. 02-11-10.

Respondents claim of spousal support, children support and counterclaims are


DISMISSED for lack of merit. Further, no declaration of the status of the parties children.

No other relief granted.


32 | P a g e

Furnish copy of this decision to the parties, their counsels, the Trial Prosecutor, the
Solicitor General and the Registry of Deeds in Manila, Quezon City and Caloocan.

SO ORDERED.6

Sally filed a Verified and Vigorous Motion for Inhibition with Motion for Reconsideration. In
its Order dated 27 August 2009,7 the trial court denied the motion. Sally appealed the
trial courts decision before the Court of Appeals.

The Decision of the Court of Appeals

In its 17 August 2011 Decision, the Court of Appeals partly granted the appeal. The Court
of Appeals ruled that the trial court did not err in submitting the case for decision. The
Court of Appeals noted that there were six resettings of the case, all made at the
instance of Sally, for the initial reception of evidence, and Sally was duly warned to
present her evidence on the next hearing or the case would be deemed submitted for
decision. However, despite the warning, Sally still failed to present her evidence. She
insisted on presenting Benjamin who was not around and was not subpoenaed despite
the presence of her other witnesses.

The Court of Appeals rejected Sallys allegation that Benjamin failed to prove his action
for declaration of nullity of marriage. The Court of Appeals ruled that Benjamins action
was based on his prior marriage to Azucena and there was no evidence that the
marriage was annulled or dissolved before Benjamin contracted the second marriage
with Sally. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court committed no error in declaring
Benjamins marriage to Sally null and void.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the property relations of Benjamin and Sally was
governed by Article 148 of the Family Code. The Court of Appeals ruled that only the
properties acquired by the parties through their actual joint contribution of money,
property or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective
contribution. The Court of Appeals ruled that the 37 properties being claimed by Sally
rightfully belong to Benjamin and his siblings.

As regards the seven properties claimed by both parties, the Court of Appeals ruled that
only the properties under TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860 registered in the name of
Benjamin belong to him exclusively because he was able to establish that they were
acquired by him solely. The Court of

Appeals found that the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 and under CCT
Nos. 8782 and 8783 were exclusive properties of Sally in the absence of proof of
Benjamins actual contribution in their purchase. The Court of Appeals ruled that the
property under TCT No. 61722 registered in the names of Benjamin and Sally shall be
owned by them in common, to be shared equally. However, the share of Benjamin shall
accrue to the conjugal partnership under his existing marriage with Azucena while Sallys
share shall accrue to her in the absence of a clear and convincing proof of bad faith.

Finally, the Court of Appeals ruled that Sally failed to present clear and convincing
evidence that would show bias and prejudice on the part of the trial judge that would
justify his inhibition from the case.

The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. The assailed
Decision and Order dated March 26, 2009 and August 27, 2009, respectively, of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 43, in Civil Case No. 04-109401 are hereby
AFFIRMED with modification declaring TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860 to be exclusively
owned by the petitioner-appellee while the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and
253681 as well as CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 shall be solely owned by the respondent-
appellant. On the other hand, TCT No. 61722 shall be owned by them and common and
to be shared equally but the share of the petitioner-appellee shall accrue to the conjugal
33 | P a g e

partnership under his first marriage while the share of respondent-appellant shall accrue
to her. The rest of the decision stands.

SO ORDERED.8

Sally moved for the reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision. In its 14 March
2012 Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied her motion.

Hence, the petition before this Court.

The Issues

Sally raised the following issues before this Court:

(1) Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming the trial
courts ruling that Sally had waived her right to present evidence;

(2) Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming the trial
courts decision declaring the marriage between Benjamin and Sally null and void
ab initio and non-existent; and

(3) Whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming with
modification the trial courts decision regarding the property relations of Benjamin
and Sally.

The Ruling of this Court

The petition has no merit.

Waiver of Right to Present Evidence

Sally alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial courts ruling that she
waived her right to present her evidence. Sally alleges that in not allowing her to present
evidence that she and Benjamin were married, the trial court abandoned its duty to
protect marriage as an inviolable institution.

It is well-settled that a grant of a motion for continuance or postponement is not a


matter of right but is addressed to the discretion of the trial court. 9 In this case, Sallys
presentation of evidence was scheduled on28 February 2008. Thereafter, there were six
resettings of the case: on 10 July 2008, 4 and 11 September 2008, 2 and 28 October
2008, and 28 November 2008. They were all made at Sallys instance. Before the
scheduled hearing of 28 November 2008, the trial court warned Sally that in case she
still failed to present her evidence, the case would be submitted for decision. On the date
of the scheduled hearing, despite the presence of other available witnesses, Sally
insisted on presenting Benjamin who was not even subpoenaed on that day. Sallys
counsel insisted that the trial court could not dictate on the priority of witnesses to be
presented, disregarding the trial courts prior warning due to the numerous resettings of
the case. Sally could not complain that she had been deprived of her right to present her
evidence because all the postponements were at her instance and she was warned by
the trial court that it would submit the case for decision should she still fail to present her
evidence on 28 November 2008.

We agree with the trial court that by her continued refusal to present her evidence, she
was deemed to have waived her right to present them. As pointed out by the Court of
Appeals, Sallys continued failure to present her evidence despite the opportunities given
by the trial court showed her lack of interest to proceed with the case. Further, it was
clear that Sally was delaying the case because she was waiting for the decision of the
Court of Appeals on her petition questioning the trial courts denial of her demurrer to
evidence, despite the fact that the Court of Appeals did not issue any temporary
restraining order as Sally prayed for. Sally could not accuse the trial court of failing to
protect marriage as an inviolable institution because the trial court also has the duty to
34 | P a g e

ensure that trial proceeds despite the deliberate delay and refusal to proceed by one of
the parties.10

Validity of the Marriage between Benjamin and Sally

Sally alleges that both the trial court and the Court of Appeals recognized her marriage
to Benjamin because a marriage could not be nonexistent and, at the same time, null
and void ab initio. Sally further alleges that if she were allowed to present her evidence,
she would have proven her marriage to Benjamin. To prove her marriage to Benjamin,
Sally asked this Court to consider that in acquiring real properties, Benjamin listed her as
his wife by declaring he was "married to" her; that Benjamin was the informant in their
childrens birth certificates where he stated that he was their father; and that Benjamin
introduced her to his family and friends as his wife. In contrast, Sally claims that there
was no real property registered in the names of Benjamin and Azucena. Sally further
alleges that Benjamin was not the informant in the birth certificates of his children with
Azucena.

First, Benjamins marriage to Azucena on 10 September 1973 was duly established


before the trial court, evidenced by a certified true copy of their marriage contract. At
the time Benjamin and Sally entered into a purported marriage on 7 March 1982, the
marriage between Benjamin and Azucena was valid and subsisting.

On the purported marriage of Benjamin and Sally, Teresita Oliveros (Oliveros),


Registration Officer II of the Local Civil Registrar of Pasig City, testified that there was no
valid marriage license issued to Benjamin and Sally. Oliveros confirmed that only
Marriage Licence Nos. 6648100 to 6648150 were issued for the month of February 1982.
Marriage License No. N-07568 did not match the series issued for the month. Oliveros
further testified that the local civil registrar of Pasig City did not issue Marriage License
No. N-07568 to Benjamin and Sally. The certification from the local civil registrar is
adequate to prove the non-issuance of a marriage license and absent any suspicious
circumstance, the certification enjoys probative value, being issued by the officer
charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage
license.11 Clearly, if indeed Benjamin and Sally entered into a marriage contract, the
marriage was void from the beginning for lack of a marriage license.12

It was also established before the trial court that the purported marriage between
Benjamin and Sally was not recorded with the local civil registrar and the National
Statistics Office. The lack of record was certified by Julieta B. Javier, Registration Officer
IV of the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of the Municipality of Pasig; 13 Teresita R.
Ignacio, Chief of the Archives Division of the Records Management and Archives Office,
National Commission for Culture and the Arts; 14 and Lourdes J. Hufana, Director III, Civil
Registration Department of the National Statistics Office. 15 The documentary and
testimonial evidence proved that there was no marriage between Benjamin and Sally. As
pointed out by the trial court, the marriage between Benjamin and Sally "was made only
in jest"16 and "a simulated marriage, at the instance of Sally, intended to cover her up
from expected social humiliation coming from relatives, friends and the society
especially from her parents seen as Chinese conservatives." 17 In short, it was a fictitious
marriage.

The fact that Benjamin was the informant in the birth certificates of Bernice and Bentley
was not a proof of the marriage between Benjamin and Sally. This Court notes that
Benjamin was the informant in Bernices birth certificate which stated that Benjamin and
Sally were married on 8 March 198218 while Sally was the informant in Bentleys birth
certificate which also stated that Benjamin and Sally were married on 8 March 1982. 19
Benjamin and Sally were supposedly married on 7 March 1982 which did not match the
dates reflected on the birth certificates.

We see no inconsistency in finding the marriage between Benjamin and Sally null and
void ab initio and, at the same time, non-existent. Under Article 35 of the Family Code, a
marriage solemnized without a license, except those covered by Article 34 where no
license is necessary, "shall be void from the beginning." In this case, the marriage
35 | P a g e

between Benjamin and Sally was solemnized without a license. It was duly established
that no marriage license was issued to them and that Marriage License No. N-07568 did
not match the marriage license numbers issued by the local civil registrar of Pasig City
for the month of February 1982. The case clearly falls under Section 3 of Article 35 20
which made their marriage void ab initio. The marriage between Benjamin and Sally was
also non-existent. Applying the general rules on void or inexistent contracts under Article
1409 of the Civil Code, contracts which are absolutely simulated or fictitious are
"inexistent and void from the beginning." 21 Thus, the Court of Appeals did not err in
sustaining the trial courts ruling that the marriage between Benjamin and Sally was null
and void ab initio and non-existent.

Except for the modification in the distribution of properties, the Court of Appeals affirmed
in all aspects the trial courts decision and ruled that "the rest of the decision stands." 22
While the Court of Appeals did notdiscuss bigamous marriages, it can be gleaned from
the dispositive portion of the decision declaring that "the rest of the decision stands" that
the Court of Appeals adopted the trial courts discussion that the marriage between
Benjamin and Sally is not bigamous.1wphi1 The trial court stated:

On whether or not the parties marriage is bigamous under the concept of Article 349 of
the Revised Penal Code, the marriage is not bigamous. It is required that the first or
former marriage shall not be null and void. The marriage of the petitioner to Azucena
shall be assumed as the one that is valid, there being no evidence to the contrary and
there is no trace of invalidity or irregularity on the face of their marriage contract.
However, if the second marriage was void not because of the existence of the first
marriage but for other causes such as lack of license, the crime of bigamy was not
committed. In People v. De Lara [CA, 51 O.G., 4079], it was held that what was
committed was contracting marriage against the provisions of laws not under Article 349
but Article 350 of the Revised Penal Code. Concluding, the marriage of the parties is
therefore not bigamous because there was no marriage license. The daring and repeated
stand of respondent that she is legally married to petitioner cannot, in any instance, be
sustained. Assuming that her marriage to petitioner has the marriage license, yet the
same would be bigamous, civilly or criminally as it would be invalidated by a prior
existing valid marriage of petitioner and Azucena.23

For bigamy to exist, the second or subsequent marriage must have all the essential
requisites for validity except for the existence of a prior marriage. 24 In this case, there
was really no subsequent marriage. Benjamin and Sally just signed a purported marriage
contract without a marriage license. The supposed marriage was not recorded with the
local civil registrar and the National Statistics Office. In short, the marriage between
Benjamin and Sally did not exist. They lived together and represented themselves as
husband and wife without the benefit of marriage.

Property Relations Between Benjamin and Sally

The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that the property relations of Benjamin and Sally is
governed by Article 148 of the Family Code which states:

Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article, only the
properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of
money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their
respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary, their contributions and
corresponding shares are presumed to be equal. The same rule and presumption shall
apply to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit.

If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership
shall accrue to the absolute community of conjugal partnership existing in such valid
marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her
share shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of the preceding
Article.

The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties are in bad faith.
36 | P a g e

Benjamin and Sally cohabitated without the benefit of marriage. Thus, only the
properties acquired by them through their actual joint contribution of money, property,
or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective
contributions. Thus, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals correctly excluded the
37 properties being claimed by Sally which were given by Benjamins father to his
children as advance inheritance. Sallys Answer to the petition before the trial court even
admitted that "Benjamins late father himself conveyed a number of properties to his
children and their respective spouses which included Sally x x x."25

As regards the seven remaining properties, we rule that the decision of the Court of
Appeals is more in accord with the evidence on record. Only the property covered by TCT
No. 61722 was registered in the names of Benjamin and Sally as spouses. 26 The
properties under TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860 were in the name of Benjamin 27 with the
descriptive title "married to Sally." The property covered by CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783
were registered in the name of Sally28 with the descriptive title "married to Benjamin"
while the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 were registered in the name
of Sally as a single individual. We have ruled that the words "married to" preceding the
name of a spouse are merely descriptive of the civil status of the registered owner. 29
Such words do not prove co-ownership. Without proof of actual contribution from either
or both spouses, there can be no co-ownership under Article 148 of the Family Code.30

Inhibition of the Trial Judge

Sally questions the refusal of Judge Roy G. Gironella (Judge Gironella) to inhibit himself
from hearing the case. She cited the failure of Judge Gironella to accommodate her in
presenting her evidence. She further alleged that Judge Gironella practically labeled her
as an opportunist in his decision, showing his partiality against her and in favor of
Benjamin.

We have ruled that the issue of voluntary inhibition is primarily a matter of conscience
and sound discretion on the part of the judge. 31 To justify the call for inhibition, there
must be extrinsic evidence to establish bias, bad faith, malice, or corrupt purpose, in
addition to palpable error which may be inferred from the decision or order itself. 32 In this
case, we have sufficiently explained that Judge Gironella did not err in submitting the
case for decision because of Sallys continued refusal to present her evidence.

We reviewed the decision of the trial court and while Judge Gironella may have used
uncomplimentary words in writing the decision, they are not enough to prove his
prejudice against Sally or show that he acted in bad faith in deciding the case that would
justify the call for his voluntary inhibition.

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the 17 August 2011 Decision and the 14 March 2012 Resolution
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 94226.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN* MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
37 | P a g e

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson's
Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's
Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes

* Designated additional member per Raffle dated 8 October 2012.


1
Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
2
Rollo, pp. 29-40. Penned by Associate Justice (now Supreme Court Associate
Justice) Estela M. PerlasBernabe with Associate Justices Bienvenido L. Reyes (now
also a Supreme Court Associate Justice) and Samuel H. Gaerlan, concurring.
3
Id. at 52. Penned by Associate Justice Samuel H. Gaerlan with Associate Justices
Amelita G. Tolentino and Ramon R. Garcia, concurring.
4
Id. at 107-123. Penned by Presiding Judge Roy G. Gironella.
5
Records, Vol. 2, p. 461.
6
Id. at 122-123.
7
Id. at 124-128.
8
Id. at 40.
9
See Bautista v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 157219, 28 May 2004, 430 SCRA 353.
10
Id.
11
Nicdao Cario v. Yee Cario, 403 Phil. 861 (2001).
12
Article 35 of the Family Code states:

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

(1) Those contracted by any party below eighteen years of age even
with the consent of parents or guardians;

(2) Those solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform


marriages unless such marriages were contracted with either or both
parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal
authority to do so;
38 | P a g e

(3) Those solemnized without a license, except those covered by the


preceding Chapter;

(4) Those bigamous or polygamous marriages not falling under Article


41;

(5) Those contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to


the identity of the other; and

(6) Those subsequent marriages that are void under Article 53.
21
Article 1409. The following contracts are inexistent and void from the beginning:

xxxx

(2) Those which are absolutely simulated or fictitious;

xxxx

For Bigamy To Exist, The Second Or Subsequent Marriage Must Have


All The Essential Requisites For Validity Except For The Existence Of A
Prior Marriage

The Facts:

Benjamin Jr. (Respondent) married Azucena Alegre in September 1973. In


1979, he and Sally Go-Bangayan (petitioner) developed a romantic affair; since
Sallys father was against the relationship, Sally, to appease her father, brought
Benjamin to an office in Santolan, Pasig City where they signed a purported
marriage contract; Sally, despite knowing Benjamins marital status, assured him
the marriage would not be registered. They then lived together as husband and
wife, producing two children, Bernice and Bentley. During their cohabitation,
several properties were acquired by them. In 1994, their relationship soured, and
Sally then filed criminal actions for bigamy and falsification of public documents
against Benjamin, using the purported simulated marriage contract. Benjamin
then filed a petition for declaration of a non-existent marriage before the Regional
Trial Court, alleging that his marriage to Sally was bigamous and lacked the formal
requisites of a valid marriage. He also prayed that the trial court order a partition
of the properties he acquired with Sally, he be appointed as administrator of the
properties during the pendency of the case, and for the declaration of Bernice and
Bentley as illegitimate children. In her answer, Sally stated that aside from the
seven properties declared by Benjamin in his petition, there were 37 other
properties acquired during their marriage. After Benjamin presented his evidence,
Sally filed his demurrer to evidence which the trial court denied; she then elevated
the matter to the Court of Appeals, and prayed for issuance of a TRO, which was
never issued. The trial court gave Sally several opportunities to present her
evidence but she did not do so, hence the trial court submitted the case for
resolution.

Ruling in favour of Benjamin, the trial court held that the marriage of
Benjamin and Sally was non-existent, not bigamous, and made in jest, bolstered
by the following findings: Marriage License No. N-07568 was not issued to the two;
only Marriage License Series Nos. 6648100 to 6648150 were issued for the month
of February, 1982; the marriage was not recorded in the local civil registrar and
the National Statistics Office due to the subsisting marriage of Benjamin with
39 | P a g e

Azucena. It denied Sallys claim for spousal support because she was not married
to Benjamin, and did not give support to Bernice and Bentley who were of legal
age and did not ask for support. It then disposed the properties as follows:

A. Sally could not claim the 37 properties Sally alleged in her answer as part
of the conjugal properties since she was not married to Benjamin. The properties
were owned by Benjamins properties who gave them as advance inheritance;
Sallys inclusion in the titles were merely descriptive.

B. Lots under TCT Nos. 61720 and 19060 were bought by Benjamin using his
own money;

C. Sally was a registered co-owner of the lots and condominium covered by


TCT Nos. 61722, N-193656, 253681, CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783; TCT No. 61722 ,
61720, 190860 and CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 were bought by Benjamins earnings
alone, hence part of the conjugal property of Benjamin and Azucena. Since
Azucena acted in bad faith since she knew Benjamin was married to Azucena, her
share in TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 were forfeited in Bernice and Bentleys
favour.

Sally appealed to the Court of Appeals, after her Verified and Vigorous
Motion for Inhibition was denied by the RTC. The appellate court affirmed with
modification the RTC ruling. It ruled that Sally was given every opportunity to
present her case but did not do so, hence the RTC did not err in submitting the
case for resolution; it also did not err in declaring Sallys marriage to Benjamin was
null and void, but modified the partition of the properties by declaring that
Benjamin was able to prove that he acquire solely the lots covered by TCT Nos.
61720 and 190860; the properties under TCT Nos. N-193656 and 253681 and
under CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 were exclusive properties of Sally in the absence of
proof of Benjamins actual contribution in their purchase. The property under TCT
No. 61722 were owned by them in common but Benjamins share in the property
accrued to his conjugal partnership with Azucena.

Sally elevated the case to the Supreme Court via petition for certiorari.

The Issues:

Whether Sally had waived her right to present evidence;

Whether Sallys marriage to Benjamin was void and non-existent;

Whether the Court of Appeals properly affirmed the RTC ruling on the
property relations between Sally and Benjamin.

The Ruling:

The petition has no merit.

Waiver of Right to Present Evidence

Sally alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial courts
ruling that she waived her right to present her evidence. Sally alleges that in not
allowing her to present evidence that she and Benjamin were married, the trial
court abandoned its duty to protect marriage as an inviolable institution.

It is well-settled that a grant of a motion for continuance or postponement is


not a matter of right but is addressed to the discretion of the trial court 1 In this
case, Sallys presentation of evidence was scheduled on28 February 2008.
40 | P a g e

Thereafter, there were six resettings of the case: on 10 July 2008, 4 and 11
September 2008, 2 and 28 October 2008, and 28 November 2008. They were all
made at Sallys instance. Before the scheduled hearing of 28 November 2008, the
trial court warned Sally that in case she still failed to present her evidence, the
case would be submitted for decision. On the date of the scheduled hearing,
despite the presence of other available witnesses, Sally insisted on presenting
Benjamin who was not even subpoenaed on that day. Sallys counsel insisted that
the trial court could not dictate on the priority of witnesses to be presented,
disregarding the trial courts prior warning due to the numerous resettings of the
case. Sally could not complain that she had been deprived of her right to present
her evidence because all the postponements were at her instance and she was
warned by the trial court that it would submit the case for decision should she still
fail to present her evidence on 28 November 2008.

We agree with the trial court that by her continued refusal to present her
evidence, she was deemed to have waived her right to present them. As pointed
out by the Court of Appeals, Sallys continued failure to present her evidence
despite the opportunities given by the trial court showed her lack of interest to
proceed with the case. Further, it was clear that Sally was delaying the case
because she was waiting for the decision of the Court of Appeals on her petition
questioning the trial courts denial of her demurrer to evidence, despite the fact
that the Court of Appeals did not issue any temporary restraining order as Sally
prayed for. Sally could not accuse the trial court of failing to protect marriage as an
inviolable institution because the trial court also has the duty to ensure that trial
proceeds despite the deliberate delay and refusal to proceed by one of the
parties2.

Validity of the Marriage between Benjamin and Sally

Sally alleges that both the trial court and the Court of Appeals recognized
her marriage to Benjamin because a marriage could not be nonexistent and, at the
same time, null and void ab initio. Sally further alleges that if she were allowed to
present her evidence, she would have proven her marriage to Benjamin. To prove
her marriage to Benjamin, Sally asked this Court to consider that in acquiring real
properties, Benjamin listed her as his wife by declaring he was married to her;
that Benjamin was the informant in their childrens birth certificates where he
stated that he was their father; and that Benjamin introduced her to his family and
friends as his wife. In contrast, Sally claims that there was no real property
registered in the names of Benjamin and Azucena. Sally further alleges that
Benjamin was not the informant in the birth certificates of his children with
Azucena.

First, Benjamins marriage to Azucena on 10 September 1973 was duly


established before the trial court, evidenced by a certified true copy of their
marriage contract. At the time Benjamin and Sally entered into a purported
marriage on 7 March 1982, the marriage between Benjamin and Azucena was valid
and subsisting.

On the purported marriage of Benjamin and Sally, Teresita Oliveros


(Oliveros), Registration Officer II of the Local Civil Registrar of Pasig City, testified
that there was no valid marriage license issued to Benjamin and Sally. Oliveros
confirmed that only Marriage Licence Nos. 6648100 to 6648150 were issued for
the month of February 1982. Marriage License No. N-07568 did not match the
series issued for the month. Oliveros further testified that the local civil registrar of
Pasig City did not issue Marriage License No. N-07568 to Benjamin and Sally. The
41 | P a g e

certification from the local civil registrar is adequate to prove the non-issuance of
a marriage license and absent any suspicious circumstance, the certification
enjoys probative value, being issued by the officer charged under the law to keep
a record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage license 3 Clearly, if indeed
Benjamin and Sally entered into a marriage contract, the marriage was void from
the beginning for lack of a marriage license.4

It was also established before the trial court that the purported marriage
between Benjamin and Sally was not recorded with the local civil registrar and the
National Statistics Office. The lack of record was certified by Julieta B. Javier,
Registration Officer IV of the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of the Municipality
of Pasig5 Teresita R. Ignacio, Chief of the Archives Division of the Records
Management and Archives Office, National Commission for Culture and the Arts; 6
and Lourdes J. Hufana, Director III, Civil Registration Department of the National
Statistics Office.7 The documentary and testimonial evidence proved that there
was no marriage between Benjamin and Sally. As pointed out by the trial court, the
marriage between Benjamin and Sally was made only in jest 8 and a simulated
marriage, at the instance of Sally, intended to cover her up from expected social
humiliation coming from relatives, friends and the society especially from her
parents seen as Chinese conservatives.9 In short, it was a fictitious marriage.

The fact that Benjamin was the informant in the birth certificates of Bernice
and Bentley was not a proof of the marriage between Benjamin and Sally. This
Court notes that Benjamin was the informant in Bernices birth certificate which
stated that Benjamin and Sally were married on 8 March 1982 10 while Sally was
the informant in Bentleys birth certificate which also stated that Benjamin and
Sally were married on 8 March 1982.11 Benjamin and Sally were supposedly
married on 7 March 1982 which did not match the dates reflected on the birth
certificates.

We see no inconsistency in finding the marriage between Benjamin and Sally


null and void ab initio and, at the same time, non-existent. Under Article 35 of the
Family Code, a marriage solemnized without a license, except those covered by
Article 34 where no license is necessary, shall be void from the beginning. In this
case, the marriage between Benjamin and Sally was solemnized without a license.
It was duly established that no marriage license was issued to them and that
Marriage License No. N-07568 did not match the marriage license numbers issued
by the local civil registrar of Pasig City for the month of February 1982. The case
clearly falls under Section 3 of Article 35 12 which made their marriage void ab
initio. The marriage between Benjamin and Sally was also non-existent. Applying
the general rules on void or inexistent contracts under Article 1409 of the Civil
Code, contracts which are absolutely simulated or fictitious are inexistent and
void from the beginning.13 Thus, the Court of Appeals did not err in sustaining the
trial courts ruling that the marriage between Benjamin and Sally was null and void
ab initio and non-existent.

Except for the modification in the distribution of properties, the Court of


Appeals affirmed in all aspects the trial courts decision and ruled that the rest of
the decision stands.14 While the Court of Appeals did not discuss bigamous
marriages, it can be gleaned from the dispositive portion of the decision declaring
that the rest of the decision stands that the Court of Appeals adopted the trial
courts discussion that the marriage between Benjamin and Sally is not
bigamous. The trial court stated:
42 | P a g e

On whether or not the parties marriage is bigamous under the concept of


Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, the marriage is not bigamous. It is required
that the first or former marriage shall not be null and void. The marriage of the
petitioner to Azucena shall be assumed as the one that is valid, there being no
evidence to the contrary and there is no trace of invalidity or irregularity on the
face of their marriage contract. However, if the second marriage was void not
because of the existence of the first marriage but for other causes such as lack of
license, the crime of bigamy was not committed. In People v. De Lara [CA, 51 O.G.,
4079], it was held that what was committed was contracting marriage against the
provisions of laws not under Article 349 but Article 350 of the Revised Penal Code.
Concluding, the marriage of the parties is therefore not bigamous because there
was no marriage license. The daring and repeated stand of respondent that she is
legally married to petitioner cannot, in any instance, be sustained. Assuming that
her marriage to petitioner has the marriage license, yet the same would be
bigamous, civilly or criminally as it would be invalidated by a prior existing valid
marriage of petitioner and Azucena.15

For bigamy to exist, the second or subsequent marriage must have all the
essential requisites for validity except for the existence of a prior marriage. 16 In
this case, there was really no subsequent marriage. Benjamin and Sally just signed
a purported marriage contract without a marriage license. The supposed marriage
was not recorded with the local civil registrar and the National Statistics Office. In
short, the marriage between Benjamin and Sally did not exist. They lived together
and represented themselves as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage.

Property Relations Between Benjamin and Sally

The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that the property relations of Benjamin
and Sally is governed by Article 148 of the Family Code which states:

Art. 148. In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article, only
the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint
contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in
proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the
contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal.
The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money and
evidences of credit.

If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-
ownership shall accrue to the absolute community of conjugal partnership existing
in such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith is not validly married to
another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last
paragraph of the preceding Article.

The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties are
in bad faith.

Benjamin and Sally cohabitated without the benefit of marriage. Thus, only
the properties acquired by them through their actual joint contribution of money,
property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their
respective contributions. Thus, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals
correctly excluded the 37 properties being claimed by Sally which were given by
Benjamins father to his children as advance inheritance. Sallys Answer to the
petition before the trial court even admitted that Benjamins late father himself
conveyed a number of properties to his children and their respective spouses
which included Sally x x x.17
43 | P a g e

As regards the seven remaining properties, we rule that the decision of the
Court of Appeals is more in accord with the evidence on record. Only the property
covered by TCT No. 61722 was registered in the names of Benjamin and Sally as
spouses.18 The properties under TCT Nos. 61720 and 190860 were in the name of
Benjamin19 with the descriptive title married to Sally. The property covered by
CCT Nos. 8782 and 8783 were registered in the name of Sally 20 with the
descriptive title married to Benjamin while the properties under TCT Nos. N-
193656 and 253681 were registered in the name of Sally as a single individual. We
have ruled that the words married to preceding the name of a spouse are merely
descriptive of the civil status of the registered owner 21. Such words do not prove
co-ownership. Without proof of actual contribution from either or both spouses,
there can be no co-ownership under Article 148 of the Family Code. 22

Inhibition of the Trial Judge

Sally questions the refusal of Judge Roy G. Gironella (Judge Gironella) to


inhibit himself from hearing the case. She cited the failure of Judge Gironella to
accommodate her in presenting her evidence. She further alleged that Judge
Gironella practically labeled her as an opportunist in his decision, showing his
partiality against her and in favor of Benjamin.

We have ruled that the issue of voluntary inhibition is primarily a matter of


conscience and sound discretion on the part of the judge. 23 To justify the call for
inhibition, there must be extrinsic evidence to establish bias, bad faith, malice, or
corrupt purpose, in addition to palpable error which may be inferred from the
decision or order itself.24 In this case, we have sufficiently explained that Judge
Gironella did not err in submitting the case for decision because of Sallys
continued refusal to present her evidence.

We reviewed the decision of the trial court and while Judge Gironella may
have used uncomplimentary words in writing the decision, they are not enough to
prove his prejudice against Sally or show that he acted in bad faith in deciding the
case that would justify the call for his voluntary inhibition.

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the 17 August 2011 Decision and the 14 March


2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 94226.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Civil Law Family Code Marriage Bigamy Non-existent marriage

In September 1979, Benjamin Bangayan, Jr. married Azucena Alegre. In


1982, while Alegre was outside the Philippines, Benjamin developed a romantic
relationship with Sally Go. Sallys father was against this. In order to appease her
father, Sally convinced Benjamin to sign a purported marriage contract in March
1982.

In 1994, the relationship between Sally and Benjamin soured. Sally filed a
bigamy case against Benjamin. Benjamin on the other hand filed an action to
declare his alleged marriage to Sally as non-existent. To prove the existence of
their marriage, Sally presented a marriage license allegedly issued to Benjamin.

ISSUE: Whether or not the marriage between Sally and Benjamin is bigamous.

HELD: No. The elements of bigamy are:


44 | P a g e

1. That the offender has been legally married.

2. That the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her
spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to
the Civil Code.

3. That he contracts a second or subsequent marriage.

4. That the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites
for validity.

In this case, the fourth element is not present. The marriage license
presented by Sally was not authentic as in fact, no marriage license was ever
issued to both parties in view of the alleged marriage. The marriage between them
was merely in jest and never complied with the essential requisites of marriage.
Hence, there is no bigamous marriage to speak of.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 189121 July 31, 2013

AMELIA GARCIA-QUIAZON, JENNETH QUIAZON and MARIA JENNIFER QUIAZON,


Petitioners,
vs.
MA. LOURDES BELEN, for and in behalf of MARIA LOURDES ELISE QUIAZON,
Respondent.

DECISION

PEREZ, J.:

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed pursuant to Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of
Court, primarily assailing the 28 November 2008 Decision rendered by the Ninth Division
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 88589,1 the decretal portion of which states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DENIED. The assailed Decision
dated March 11, 2005, and the Order dated March 24, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 275, Las Pias City are AFFIRMED in toto.2

The Facts

This case started as a Petition for Letters of Administration of the Estate of Eliseo
Quiazon (Eliseo), filed by herein respondents who are Eliseos common-law wife and
daughter. The petition was opposed by herein petitioners Amelia Garcia-Quaizon
(Amelia) to whom Eliseo was married. Amelia was joined by her children, Jenneth
Quiazon (Jenneth) and Maria Jennifer Quiazon (Jennifer).

Eliseo died intestate on 12 December 1992.

On 12 September 1994, Maria Lourdes Elise Quiazon (Elise), represented by her mother,
Ma. Lourdes Belen (Lourdes), filed a Petition for Letters of Administration before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las Pias City. 3 In her Petition docketed as SP Proc. No. M-
3957, Elise claims that she is the natural child of Eliseo having been conceived and born
45 | P a g e

at the time when her parents were both capacitated to marry each other. Insisting on the
legal capacity of Eliseo and Lourdes to marry, Elise impugned the validity of Eliseos
marriage to Amelia by claiming that it was bigamous for having been contracted during
the subsistence of the latters marriage with one Filipito Sandico (Filipito). To prove her
filiation to the decedent, Elise, among others, attached to the Petition for Letters of
Administration her Certificate of Live Birth 4 signed by Eliseo as her father. In the same
petition, it was alleged that Eliseo left real properties worth P2,040,000.00 and personal
properties worth P2,100,000.00. In order to preserve the estate of Eliseo and to prevent
the dissipation of its value, Elise sought her appointment as administratrix of her late
fathers estate.

Claiming that the venue of the petition was improperly laid, Amelia, together with her
children, Jenneth and Jennifer, opposed the issuance of the letters of administration by
filing an Opposition/Motion to Dismiss.5 The petitioners asserted that as shown by his
Death Certificate, 6 Eliseo was a resident of Capas, Tarlac and not of Las Pias City, at the
time of his death. Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court, 7 the
petition for settlement of decedents estate should have been filed in Capas, Tarlac and
not in Las Pias City. In addition to their claim of improper venue, the petitioners averred
that there are no factual and legal bases for Elise to be appointed administratix of
Eliseos estate.

In a Decision8 dated 11 March 2005, the RTC directed the issuance of Letters of
Administration to Elise upon posting the necessary bond. The lower court ruled that the
venue of the petition was properly laid in Las Pias City, thereby discrediting the position
taken by the petitioners that Eliseos last residence was in Capas, Tarlac, as hearsay. The
dispositive of the RTC decision reads:

Having attained legal age at this time and there being no showing of any disqualification
or incompetence to serve as administrator, let letters of administration over the estate of
the decedent Eliseo Quiazon, therefore, be issued to petitioner, Ma. Lourdes Elise
Quiazon, after the approval by this Court of a bond in the amount of P100,000.00 to be
posted by her.9

On appeal, the decision of the trial court was affirmed in toto in the 28 November 2008
Decision10 rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.CV No. 88589. In validating the
findings of the RTC, the Court of Appeals held that Elise was able to prove that Eliseo and
Lourdes lived together as husband and wife by establishing a common residence at No.
26 Everlasting Road, Phase 5, Pilar Village, Las Pias City, from 1975 up to the time of
Eliseos death in 1992. For purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of Eliseos
estate, the Court of Appeals upheld the conclusion reached by the RTC that the decedent
was a resident of Las Pias City. The petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was denied
by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution11 dated 7 August 2009.

The Issues

The petitioners now urge Us to reverse the assailed Court of Appeals Decision and
Resolution on the following grounds:

I. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THAT ELISEO QUIAZON


WAS A RESIDENT OF LAS PIAS AND THEREFORE, THE PETITION FOR LETTERS OF
ADMINISTRATION WAS PROPERLY FILED WITH THE RTC OF LAS PIAS;

II. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DECLARING THAT AMELIA GARCIA-
QUIAZON WAS NOT LEGALLY MARRIED TO ELISEO QUIAZON DUE TO PREEXISTING
MARRIAGE; AND

III. THE COURT OF APPEALS OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT ELISE QUIAZON HAS NOT
SHOWN ANY INTEREST IN THE PETITION FOR LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION.12

The Courts Ruling


46 | P a g e

We find the petition bereft of merit.

Under Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the petition for letters of administration of
the estate of a decedent should be filed in the RTC of the province where the decedent
resides at the time of his death:

Sec. 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an inhabitant of


the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his will shall be
proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the Court of First
Instance now Regional Trial Court in the province in which he resides at the time of his
death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First Instance now
Regional Trial Court of any province in which he had estate. The court first taking
cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to
the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends
on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be
contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original
case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record. (Emphasis supplied).

The term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as distinguished from "legal
residence or domicile." This term "resides," like the terms "residing" and "residence," is
elastic and should be interpreted in the light of the object or purpose of the statute or
rule in which it is employed. In the application of venue statutes and rules Section 1,
Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature residence rather than domicile is
the significant factor.13 Even where the statute uses word "domicile" still it is construed
as meaning residence and not domicile in the technical sense. 14 Some cases make a
distinction between the terms "residence" and "domicile" but as generally used in
statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the
term "inhabitant."15 In other words, "resides" should be viewed or understood in its
popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, actual
residence or place of abode. 16 It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay
thereat.17 Venue for ordinary civil actions and that for special proceedings have one and
the same meaning.18 As thus defined, "residence," in the context of venue provisions,
means nothing more than a persons actual residence or place of abode, provided he
resides therein with continuity and consistency.19

Viewed in light of the foregoing principles, the Court of Appeals cannot be faulted for
affirming the ruling of the RTC that the venue for the settlement of the estate of Eliseo
was properly laid in Las Pias City. It is evident from the records that during his lifetime,
Eliseo resided at No. 26 Everlasting Road, Phase 5, Pilar Village, Las Pias City. For this
reason, the venue for the settlement of his estate may be laid in the said city.

In opposing the issuance of letters of administration, the petitioners harp on the entry in
Eliseos Death Certificate that he is a resident of Capas, Tarlac where they insist his
estate should be settled. While the recitals in death certificates can be considered proofs
of a decedents residence at the time of his death, the contents thereof, however, is not
binding on the courts. Both the RTC and the Court of Appeals found that Eliseo had been
living with Lourdes, deporting themselves as husband and wife, from 1972 up to the time
of his death in 1995. This finding is consistent with the fact that in 1985, Eliseo filed an
action for judicial partition of properties against Amelia before the RTC of Quezon City,
Branch 106, on the ground that their marriage is void for being bigamous. 20 That Eliseo
went to the extent of taking his marital feud with Amelia before the courts of law renders
untenable petitioners position that Eliseo spent the final days of his life in Tarlac with
Amelia and her children. It disproves rather than supports petitioners submission that
the lower courts findings arose from an erroneous appreciation of the evidence on
record. Factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the appellate court, must be
held to be conclusive and binding upon this Court.21

Likewise unmeritorious is petitioners contention that the Court of Appeals erred in


declaring Amelias marriage to Eliseo as void ab initio. In a void marriage, it was though
no marriage has taken place, thus, it cannot be the source of rights. Any interested party
may attack the marriage directly or collaterally. A void marriage can be questioned even
47 | P a g e

beyond the lifetime of the parties to the marriage. 22 It must be pointed out that at the
time of the celebration of the marriage of Eliseo and Amelia, the law in effect was the
Civil Code, and not the Family Code, making the ruling in Nial v. Bayadog 23 applicable
four-square to the case at hand. In Nial, the Court, in no uncertain terms, allowed
therein petitioners to file a petition for the declaration of nullity of their fathers marriage
to therein respondent after the death of their father, by contradistinguishing void from
voidable marriages, to wit:

Consequently, void marriages can be questioned even after the death of either party but
voidable marriages can be assailed only during the lifetime of the parties and not after
death of either, in which case the parties and their offspring will be left as if the marriage
had been perfectly valid. That is why the action or defense for nullity is imprescriptible,
unlike voidable marriages where the action prescribes. Only the parties to a voidable
marriage can assail it but any proper interested party may attack a void marriage.24

It was emphasized in Nial that in a void marriage, no marriage has taken place and it
cannot be the source of rights, such that any interested party may attack the marriage
directly or collaterally without prescription, which may be filed even beyond the lifetime
of the parties to the marriage.25

Relevant to the foregoing, there is no doubt that Elise, whose successional rights would
be prejudiced by her fathers marriage to Amelia, may impugn the existence of such
marriage even after the death of her father. The said marriage may be questioned
directly by filing an action attacking the validity thereof, or collaterally by raising it as an
issue in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse, such as in
the case at bar. Ineluctably, Elise, as a compulsory heir, 26 has a cause of action for the
declaration of the absolute nullity of the void marriage of Eliseo and Amelia, and the
death of either party to the said marriage does not extinguish such cause of action.

Having established the right of Elise to impugn Eliseos marriage to Amelia, we now
proceed to determine whether or not the decedents marriage to Amelia is void for being
bigamous.

Contrary to the position taken by the petitioners, the existence of a previous marriage
between Amelia and Filipito was sufficiently established by no less than the Certificate of
Marriage issued by the Diocese of Tarlac and signed by the officiating priest of the Parish
of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Capas, Tarlac. The said marriage certificate is a competent
evidence of marriage and the certification from the National Archive that no information
relative to the said marriage exists does not diminish the probative value of the entries
therein. We take judicial notice of the fact that the first marriage was celebrated more
than 50 years ago, thus, the possibility that a record of marriage can no longer be found
in the National Archive, given the interval of time, is not completely remote.
Consequently, in the absence of any showing that such marriage had been dissolved at
the time Amelia and Eliseos marriage was solemnized, the inescapable conclusion is
that the latter marriage is bigamous and, therefore, void ab initio.27

Neither are we inclined to lend credence to the petitioners contention that Elise has not
shown any interest in the Petition for Letters of Administration.

Section 6, Rule 78 of the Revised Rules of Court lays down the preferred persons who are
entitled to the issuance of letters of administration, thus:

Sec. 6. When and to whom letters of administration granted. If no executor is named


in the will, or the executor or executors are incompetent, refuse the trust, or fail to give
bond, or a person dies intestate, administration shall be granted:

(a) To the surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or both, in
the discretion of the court, or to such person as such surviving husband or wife, or
next of kin, requests to have appointed, if competent and willing to serve;
48 | P a g e

(b) If such surviving husband or wife, as the case may be, or next of kin, or the
person selected by them, be incompetent or unwilling, or if the husband or widow,
or next of kin, neglects for thirty (30) days after the death of the person to apply
for administration or to request that administration be granted to some other
person, it may be granted to one or more of the principal creditors, if competent
and willing to serve;

(c) If there is no such creditor competent and willing to serve, it may be granted to
such other person as the court may select.

Upon the other hand, Section 2 of Rule 79 provides that a petition for Letters of
Administration must be filed by an interested person, thus:

Sec. 2. Contents of petition for letters of administration. A petition for letters of


administration must be filed by an interested person and must show, so far as known to
the petitioner:

(a) The jurisdictional facts;

(b) The names, ages, and residences of the heirs, and the names and residences of
the creditors, of the decedent;

(c) The probable value and character of the property of the estate;

(d) The name of the person for whom letters of administration are prayed.

But no defect in the petition shall render void the issuance of letters of administration.

An "interested party," in estate proceedings, is one who would be benefited in the estate,
such as an heir, or one who has a claim against the estate, such as a creditor. Also, in
estate proceedings, the phrase "next of kin" refers to those whose relationship with the
decedent Is such that they are entitled to share in the estate as distributees.28

In the instant case, Elise, as a compulsory heir who stands to be benefited by the
distribution of Eliseos estate, is deemed to be an interested party. With the
overwhelming evidence on record produced by Elise to prove her filiation to Eliseo, the
petitioners pounding on her lack of interest in the administration of the decedents
estate, is just a desperate attempt to sway this Court to reverse the findings of the Court
of Appeals. Certainly, the right of Elise to be appointed administratix of the estate of
Eliseo is on good grounds. It is founded on her right as a compulsory heir, who, under the
law, is entitled to her legitimate after the debts of the estate are satisfied. 29 Having a
vested right in the distribution of Eliseos estate as one of his natural children, Elise can
rightfully be considered as an interested party within the purview of the law.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. Accordingly,
the Court of Appeals assailed 28 November 2008 Decision and 7 August 2009 Resolution,
arc AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justic
Chairpersone

ARTURO D. BRION MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice Associate Justice
49 | P a g e

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation be lore
the case was assigned to the writer or the opinion or the Courts Division.

ATONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's
Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached
in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer or the opinion of the Court's
Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes
1
Penned by Associate Justice Ramon R. Garcia with Associate Justices Josefina
Guevara-Salonga and Magdangal M. De Leon, concurring, CA rollo, pp.94-106.
2
Id. at 105.
3
Special Proceeding No. M-3957. Records, Vol. I, pp. 1-9.
4
Id. at 10.
5
Id. at 40-44.
6
Id. at 11.
7
Sec. 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an
inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien,
his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled,
in the Court of First Instance now Regional Trial Court in the province in which he
resides at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the
Court of First Instance now Regional Trial Court of any province in which he had
estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a
decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The
jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of
the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or
proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the
want of jurisdiction appears on the record.
8
Penned by Judge Bonifacio Sanz Maceda. CA rollo, pp. 33-38.
9
Id. at 38.
10
Id. at 94-106.
11
Id. at 118-119.
12
Rollo, pp. 32-33.
50 | P a g e

13
Garcia Fule v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. L-40502 and L-42670, 29 November
1976, 74 SCRA 189, 199.
14
Id.
15
Id.
16
Id.
17
Id.
18
Jao v. Court of Appeals, 432 Phil. 160, 170 (2002).
19
Id.
20
Quiazon v. Garcia, Civil Case No. Q-43712. Records, Vol. II, pp. 234-240.
21
Golden (Iloilo) Delta Sales Corporation v. Pre-Stress International Corporation,
G.R. No. 176768, 12 January 2009, 576 SCRA 23, 35; Seaoil Petroleum Corporation
v. Autocorp Group, G.R. No. 164326, 17 October 2008, 569 SCRA 387, 394; Ejercito
v. M.R. Vargas Construction, G.R. No. 172595, 10 April 2008, 551 SCRA 97, 106.
22
Juliano-Llave v. Republic, G.R. No. 169766, 30 March 2011, 646 SCRA 637, 656-
657 citing Nial v. Bayadog, 384 Phil. 661, 673 (2000).
23
Id.
24
Id. at 673.
25
Id.
26
New Civil Code. Art. 961. In default of the testamentary heirs, the law vests the
inheritance, in accordance with the rules hereinafter set forth, in the legitimate and
illegitimate relatives of the deceased, in the surviving spouse, and in the State.

New Civil Code. Art. 988. In the absence of legitimate descendants or


ascendants, the illegitimate children shall succeed to the entire estate of the
deceased.
27
Old Civil Code. Art. 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person
during the lifetime of the first spouse of such person with any person other than
such first spouse shall be illegal and void from its performance, unless:

(1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or

(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time
of the second marriage without the spouse present having news of the
absentee being alive, or if the absentee, though he has been absent for less
than seven years, is generally considered as dead and believed to be so by
the spouse present at the time of contracting such subsequent marriage, or
if the absentee is presumed dead according to Articles 390 and 391. The
marriage so contracted shall be valid in any of the three cases until declared
null and void by a competent court.
28
Solinap v. Locsin, Jr., 423 Phil. 192, 199 (2001).
29
New Civil Code. Art. 961. In default or the testamentary heirs, the law, vests the
inheritance, in accordance with the rules hereinafter set forth, in the legitimate and
illegitimate relatives of the deceased, in the surviving spouse, and in the State.
51 | P a g e

New Civil Code. Art. 988. In the absence of legitimate descendants or


ascendants, the illegitimate children shall succeed to the entire estate of the
deceased.

AMELIA GARCIA-QUIAZON, JENNETH QUIAZON and MARIA JENNIFER


QUIAZON, Petitioners,
vs.
MA. LOURDES BELEN, for and in behalf of MARIA LOURDES ELISE
QUIAZON, Respondent.

G.R. No. 189121 July 31, 2013

FACTS

Elise Quiazon is the daughter of Eliseo Quiazon and his common-law wife Ma.
Lourdes Belen. When Eliseo died intestate, Elise represented by her mother, Lourdes,
filed a Petition for Letters of Administration before the RTC of Las Pias City in order to
preserve the estate of Eliseo and to prevent the dissipation of its value. She likewise
sought her appointment as administratrix of her late fathers estate.

Amelia Quiazon, to whom Eliseo was married, together with her two children, filed
an Opposition/Motion to Dismiss on the ground of improper venue asserting that Eliseo
was a resident of Capas, Tarlac and not of Las Pias City. In addition to their claim of
improper venue, the petitioners averred that there are no factual and legal bases for
Elise to be appointed administratix of Eliseos estate.

RTC rendered a decision directing the issuance of Letters of Administration to Elise


upon posting the necessary bond. On appeal, the decision of the trial court was affirmed
in toto by the Court of Appeals. In validating the findings of the RTC, the Court of
Appeals held that Elise was able to prove that Eliseo and Lourdes lived together as
husband and wife by establishing a common residence at No. 26 Everlasting Road, Phase
5, Pilar Village, Las Pias City, from 1975 up to the time of Eliseos death in 1992. For
purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of Eliseos estate, the Court of Appeals
upheld the conclusion reached by the RTC that the decedent was a resident of Las Pias
City.

ISSUE/S:

1. Whether or not Las Pinas City was the proper venue.


2. Whether or not Elise is qualified to be administrator of the estate.

HELD:

1. YES. Under Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the petition for letters of
administration of the estate of a decedent should be filed in the RTC of the province
where the decedent resides at the time of his death:

Sec. 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an


inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien,
52 | P a g e

his will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled,
in the Court of First Instance now Regional Trial Court in the province in which he
resides at the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the
Court of First Instance now Regional Trial Court of any province in which he had
estate. The court first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a
decedent, shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The
jurisdiction assumed by a court, so far as it depends on the place of residence of
the decedent, or of the location of his estate, shall not be contested in a suit or
proceeding, except in an appeal from that court, in the original case, or when the
want of jurisdiction appears on the record.

The term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as distinguished


from "legal residence or domicile." This term "resides," like the terms "residing" and
"residence," is elastic and should be interpreted in the light of the object or purpose of
the statute or rule in which it is employed. In the application of venue statutes and rules
Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature residence rather
than domicile is the significant factor. 13 Even where the statute uses word "domicile" still
it is construed as meaning residence and not domicile in the technical sense. Some
cases make a distinction between the terms "residence" and "domicile" but as generally
used in statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning
as the term "inhabitant." In other words, "resides" should be viewed or understood in its
popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, actual
residence or place of abode. It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay
thereat. Venue for ordinary civil actions and that for special proceedings have one and
the same meaning. As thus defined, "residence," in the context of venue provisions,
means nothing more than a persons actual residence or place of abode, provided he
resides therein with continuity and consistency.

Viewed in light of the foregoing principles, the Court of Appeals cannot be faulted
for affirming the ruling of the RTC that the venue for the settlement of the estate of
Eliseo was properly laid in Las Pias City. It is evident from the records that during his
lifetime, Eliseo resided at No. 26 Everlasting Road, Phase 5, Pilar Village, Las Pias City.
For this reason, the venue for the settlement of his estate may be laid in the said city.

2. Elise, as a compulsory heir who stands to be benefited by the distribution of Eliseos


estate, is deemed to be an interested party. With the overwhelming evidence on record
produced by Elise to prove her filiation to Eliseo, the petitioners pounding on her lack of
interest in the administration of the decedents estate, is just a desperate attempt to
sway this Court to reverse the findings of the Court of Appeals. Certainly, the right of
Elise to be appointed administratix of the estate of Eliseo is on good grounds. It is
founded on her right as a compulsory heir, who, under the law, is entitled to her
legitimate after the debts of the estate are satisfied.Having a vested right in the
distribution of Eliseos estate as one of his natural children, Elise can rightfully be
considered as an interested party within the purview of the law.

Special Proceedings: Venue In Settlement Of Estate of Deceased Persons.

Elise, then represented by her mother Ma. Lourdes, a natural child of Eliso, who
died without a will on December 12, 1992, filed a Petition for Letter of Administration of
the estate of Eliseo before the Regional Trial Court of Las Pinas City. She also impugned
the validity of his fathers marriage to Amelia. According to her, the marriage was
bigamous because at the time of his marriage to Amelia, there was a prior and valid
subsisting marriage of Eliseo to one Filipito Sandico. The petition was opposed by Amelia
and her children, Jenneth and Jennifer, who alleged that venue was improperly laid, as
53 | P a g e

Eliseo died in Capas, Tarlac as shown by his Death Certificate, the petition should have
been filed there as it was his residence at the time of his death. They also sought to
discredit the factual and legal basis for any grant of letters of administration in favour of
Elise.
The RTC ruled that Elise, who by that time have already attained legal age, should be
granted letters of administration over the estate of Eliseo. It brushed aside Amelias
objections over the venue of the petition.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the CA denied Amelias petition, ruling that
venue was properly laid as it was shown that Eliseo resided and established residence at
Las Pinas City from 1975 up to his death in 1992.

What is the rule on venue in special proceedings, especially as in this case, a


settlement of estate of a decedent? Was the marriage between Amelia and Eliseo
bigamous?

Under Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the petition for letters of
administration of the estate of a decedent should be filed in the RTC of the province
where the decedent resides at the time of his death:

Sec. 1. Where estate of deceased persons settled. If the decedent is an


inhabitant of the Philippines at the time of his death, whether a citizen or an alien, his
will shall be proved, or letters of administration granted, and his estate settled, in the
Court of First Instance [now Regional Trial Court] in the province in which he resides at
the time of his death, and if he is an inhabitant of a foreign country, the Court of First
Instance [now Regional Trial Court] of any province in which he had estate. The court
first taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a decedent, shall exercise
jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts. The jurisdiction assumed by a court, so
far as it depends on the place of residence of the decedent, or of the location of his
estate, shall not be contested in a suit or proceeding, except in an appeal from that
court, in the original case, or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.
(Emphasis supplied).

The term resides connotes ex vi termini actual residence as distinguished from


legal residence or domicile. This term resides, like the terms residing and
residence, is elastic and should be interpreted in the light of the object or purpose of
the statute or rule in which it is employed. In the application of venue statutes and rules
Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature residence rather
than domicile is the significant factor. Even where the statute uses the word domicile
still it is construed as meaning residence and not domicile in the technical sense. Some
cases make a distinction between the terms residence and domicile but as generally
used in statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning
as the term inhabitant. In other words, resides should be viewed or understood in its
popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or physical habitation of a person, actual
residence or place of abode. It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay
thereat. Venue for ordinary civil actions and that for special proceedings have one and
the same meaning. As thus defined, residence, in the context of venue provisions,
means nothing more than a persons actual residence or place of abode, provided he
resides therein with continuity and consistency.

Viewed in light of the foregoing principles, the Court of Appeals cannot be faulted
for affirming the ruling of the RTC that the venue for the settlement of the estate of
Eliseo was properly laid in Las Pias City. It is evident from the records that during his
54 | P a g e

lifetime, Eliseo resided at No. 26 Everlasting Road, Phase 5, Pilar Village, Las Pias City.
For this reason, the venue for the settlement of his estate may be laid in the said city.

xxx

Likewise unmeritorious is petitioners contention that the Court of Appeals erred


in declaring Amelias marriage to Eliseo as void ab initio. In a void marriage, it was
though no marriage has taken place, thus, it cannot be the source of rights. Any
interested party may attack the marriage directly or collaterally. A void marriage can be
questioned even beyond the lifetime of the parties to the marriage. It must be pointed
out that at the time of the celebration of the marriage of Eliseo and Amelia, the law in
effect was the Civil Code, and not the Family Code, making the ruling in Nial v. Bayadog
applicable four-square to the case at hand. In Nial, the Court, in no uncertain terms,
allowed therein petitioners to file a petition for the declaration of nullity of their fathers
marriage to therein respondent after the death of their father, by contradistinguishing
void from voidable marriages, to wit:

[C]onsequently, void marriages can be questioned even after the death of either
party but voidable marriages can be assailed only during the lifetime of the parties and
not after death of either, in which case the parties and their offspring will be left as if the
marriage had been perfectly valid. That is why the action or defense for nullity is
imprescriptible, unlike voidable marriages where the action prescribes. Only the parties
to a voidable marriage can assail it but any proper interested party may attack a void
marriage.

It was emphasized in Nial that in a void marriage, no marriage has taken place
and it cannot be the source of rights, such that any interested party may attack the
marriage directly or collaterally without prescription, which may be filed even beyond
the lifetime of the parties to the marriage.

Relevant to the foregoing, there is no doubt that Elise, whose successional rights
would be prejudiced by her fathers marriage to Amelia, may impugn the existence of
such marriage even after the death of her father. The said marriage may be questioned
directly by filing an action attacking the validity thereof, or collaterally by raising it as an
issue in a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the deceased spouse, such as in
the case at bar. Ineluctably, Elise, as a compulsory heir, has a cause of action for the
declaration of the absolute nullity of the void marriage of Eliseo and Amelia, and the
death of either party to the said marriage does not extinguish such cause of action.
55 | P a g e

xxx

An interested party, in estate proceedings, is one who would be benefited in the


estate, such as an heir, or one who has a claim against the estate, such as a creditor.
Also, in estate proceedings, the phrase next of kin refers to those whose relationship
with the decedent is such that they are entitled to share in the estate as distributees.

In the instant case, Elise, as a compulsory heir who stands to be benefited by the
distribution of Eliseos estate, is deemed to be an interested party. With the
overwhelming evidence on record produced by Elise to prove her filiation to Eliseo, the
petitioners pounding on her lack of interest in the administration of the decedents
estate, is just a desperate attempt to sway this Court to reverse the findings of the Court
of Appeals. Certainly, the right of Elise to be appointed administratix of the estate of
Eliseo is on good grounds. It is founded on her right as a compulsory heir, who, under
the law, is entitled to her legitime after the debts of the estate are satisfied. Having a
vested right in the distribution of Eliseos estate as one of his natural children, Elise can
rightfully be considered as an interested party within the purview of the law.

SECOND DIVISION, G.R. No. 189121, July 31, 2013, AMELIA GARCIA-QUIAZON, JENNETH
QUIAZON AND MARIA JENNIFER QUIAZON, PETITIONERS, VS. MA. LOURDES BELEN, FOR
AND IN BEHALF OF MARIA LOURDES ELISE QUIAZON, RESPONDENT

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 198780 October 16, 2013

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
LIBERTY D. ALBIOS, Respondent.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules t of Court assailing
the September 29, 2011 Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CV No. 95414,
which affirmed the April 25, 2008Decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court, Imus, Cavite (RTC).
declaring the marriage of Daniel Lee Fringer (Fringer) and respondent Liberty Albios
(A/bios) as void from the beginning.

The facts

On October 22, 2004, Fringer, an American citizen, and Albios were married before Judge
Ofelia I. Calo of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch59, Mandaluyong City (MeTC), as
evidenced by a Certificate of Marriage with Register No. 2004-1588.3

On December 6, 2006, Albios filed with the RTC a petition for declaration of nullity 4 of
her marriage with Fringer. She alleged that immediately after their marriage, they
separated and never lived as husband and wife because they never really had any
intention of entering into a married state or complying with any of their essential marital
obligations. She described their marriage as one made in jest and, therefore, null and
void ab initio .
56 | P a g e

Summons was served on Fringer but he did not file his answer. On September 13, 2007,
Albios filed a motion to set case for pre-trial and to admit her pre-trial brief. The RTC
ordered the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor to conduct an investigation and determine
the existence of a collusion. On October 2, 2007, the Assistant Prosecutor complied and
reported that she could not make a determination for failure of both parties to appear at
the scheduled investigation.

At the pre-trial, only Albios, her counsel and the prosecutor appeared. Fringer did not
attend the hearing despite being duly notified of the schedule. After the pre-trial, hearing
on the merits ensued.

Ruling of the RTC

In its April 25, 2008 Decision,5 the RTC declared the marriage void ab initio, the
dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the marriage


of Liberty Albios and Daniel Lee Fringer as void from the very beginning. As a necessary
consequence of this pronouncement, petitioner shall cease using the surname of
respondent as she never acquired any right over it and so as to avoid a misimpression
that she remains the wife of respondent.

xxxx

SO ORDERED.6

The RTC was of the view that the parties married each other for convenience only. Giving
credence to the testimony of Albios, it stated that she contracted Fringer to enter into a
marriage to enable her to acquire American citizenship; that in consideration thereof, she
agreed to pay him the sum of $2,000.00; that after the ceremony, the parties went their
separate ways; that Fringer returned to the United States and never again
communicated with her; and that, in turn, she did not pay him the $2,000.00 because he
never processed her petition for citizenship. The RTC, thus, ruled that when marriage was
entered into for a purpose other than the establishment of a conjugal and family life,
such was a farce and should not be recognized from its inception.

Petitioner Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG), filed a motion for reconsideration. The RTC issued the Order, 7 dated February 5,
2009, denying the motion for want of merit. It explained that the marriage was declared
void because the parties failed to freely give their consent to the marriage as they had
no intention to be legally bound by it and used it only as a means to acquire American
citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00.

Not in conformity, the OSG filed an appeal before the CA.

Ruling of the CA

In its assailed decision, dated September 29, 2011, the CA affirmed the RTC ruling which
found that the essential requisite of consent was lacking. The CA stated that the parties
clearly did not understand the nature and consequence of getting married and that their
case was similar to a marriage in jest. It further explained that the parties never
intended to enter into the marriage contract and never intended to live as husband and
wife or build a family. It concluded that their purpose was primarily for personal gain,
that is, for Albios to obtain foreign citizenship, and for Fringer, the consideration of
$2,000.00.

Hence, this petition.

Assignment of Error
57 | P a g e

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAWWHEN IT HELD THAT A


MARRIAGE CONTRACTED FOR THEPURPOSE OF OBTAINING FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP WAS
DONEIN JEST, HENCE, LACKING IN THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OFCONSENT. 8

The OSG argues that albeit the intention was for Albios to acquire American citizenship
and for Fringer to be paid $2,000.00, both parties freely gave their consent to the
marriage, as they knowingly and willingly entered into that marriage and knew the
benefits and consequences of being bound by it. According to the OSG, consent should
be distinguished from motive, the latter being inconsequential to the validity of
marriage.

The OSG also argues that the present case does not fall within the concept of a marriage
in jest. The parties here intentionally consented to enter into a real and valid marriage,
for if it were otherwise, the purpose of Albios to acquire American citizenship would be
rendered futile.

On October 29, 2012, Albios filed her Comment 9 to the petition, reiterating her stand that
her marriage was similar to a marriage by way of jest and, therefore, void from the
beginning.

On March 22, 2013, the OSG filed its Reply 10 reiterating its arguments in its petition for
review on certiorari.

Ruling of the Court

The resolution of this case hinges on this sole question of law: Is a marriage, contracted
for the sole purpose of acquiring American citizenship in consideration of $2,000.00, void
ab initio on the ground of lack of consent?

The Court resolves in the negative.

Before the Court delves into its ruling, It shall first examine the phenomenon of marriage
fraud for the purposes of immigration.

Marriage Fraud in Immigration

The institution of marriage carries with it concomitant benefits. This has led to the
development of marriage fraud for the sole purpose of availing of particular benefits. In
the United States, marriages where a couple marries only to achieve a particular purpose
or acquire specific benefits, have been referred to as "limited purpose" marriages. 11 A
common limited purpose marriage is one entered into solely for the legitimization of a
child.12 Another, which is the subject of the present case, is for immigration purposes.
Immigration law is usually concerned with the intention of the couple at the time of their
marriage,13 and it attempts to filter out those who use marriage solely to achieve
immigration status.14

In 1975, the seminal case of Bark v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 15


established the principal test for determining the presence of marriage fraud in
immigration cases. It ruled that a "marriage is a sham if the bride and groom did not
intend to establish a life together at the time they were married. "This standard was
modified with the passage of the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendment of 1986
(IMFA), which now requires the couple to instead demonstrate that the marriage was not
"entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States." The
focus, thus, shifted from determining the intention to establish a life together, to
determining the intention of evading immigration laws.16 It must be noted, however, that
this standard is used purely for immigration purposes and, therefore, does not purport to
rule on the legal validity or existence of a marriage.

The question that then arises is whether a marriage declared as a sham or fraudulent for
the limited purpose of immigration is also legally void and in existent. The early cases on
58 | P a g e

limited purpose marriages in the United States made no definitive ruling. In 1946, the
notable case of

United States v. Rubenstein17 was promulgated, wherein in order to allow an alien to stay
in the country, the parties had agreed to marry but not to live together and to obtain a
divorce within six months. The Court, through Judge Learned Hand, ruled that a marriage
to convert temporary into permanent permission to stay in the country was not a
marriage, there being no consent, to wit:

x x x But, that aside, Spitz and Sandler were never married at all. Mutual consent is
necessary to every contract; and no matter what forms or ceremonies the parties may
go through indicating the contrary, they do not contract if they do not in fact assent,
which may always be proved. x x x Marriage is no exception to this rule: a marriage in
jest is not a marriage at all. x x x It is quite true that a marriage without subsequent
consummation will be valid; but if the spouses agree to a marriage only for the sake of
representing it as such to the outside world and with the understanding that they will put
an end to it as soon as it has served its purpose to deceive, they have never really
agreed to be married at all. They must assent to enter into the relation as it is ordinarily
understood, and it is not ordinarily understood as merely a pretence, or cover, to deceive
others.18

(Italics supplied)

On the other end of the spectrum is the 1969 case of Mpiliris v. Hellenic Lines, 19 which
declared as valid a marriage entered into solely for the husband to gain entry to the
United States, stating that a valid marriage could not be avoided "merely because the
marriage was entered into for a limited purpose." 20 The 1980 immigration case of Matter
of McKee,21 further recognized that a fraudulent or sham marriage was intrinsically
different from a non subsisting one.

Nullifying these limited purpose marriages for lack of consent has, therefore, been
recognized as problematic. The problem being that in order to obtain an immigration
benefit, a legal marriage is first necessary. 22 At present, United States courts have
generally denied annulments involving" limited purpose" marriages where a couple
married only to achieve a particular purpose, and have upheld such marriages as valid. 23

The Court now turns to the case at hand.

Respondents marriage not void

In declaring the respondents marriage void, the RTC ruled that when a marriage was
entered into for a purpose other than the establishment of a conjugal and family life,
such was a farce and should not be recognized from its inception. In its resolution
denying the OSGs motion for reconsideration, the RTC went on to explain that the
marriage was declared void because the parties failed to freely give their consent to the
marriage as they had no intention to be legally bound by it and used it only as a means
for the respondent to acquire American citizenship. Agreeing with the RTC, the CA ruled
that the essential requisite of consent was lacking. It held that the parties clearly did not
understand the nature and consequence of getting married. As in the Rubenstein case,
the CA found the marriage to be similar to a marriage in jest considering that the parties
only entered into the marriage for the acquisition of American citizenship in exchange of
$2,000.00. They never intended to enter into a marriage contract and never intended to
live as husband and wife or build a family.

The CAs assailed decision was, therefore, grounded on the parties supposed lack of
consent. Under Article 2 of the Family Code, consent is an essential requisite of marriage.
Article 4 of the same Code provides that the absence of any essential requisite shall
render a marriage void ab initio.

Under said Article 2, for consent to be valid, it must be (1) freely given and (2) made in
the presence of a solemnizing officer. A "freely given" consent requires that the
59 | P a g e

contracting parties willingly and deliberately enter into the marriage. Consent must be
real in the sense that it is not vitiated nor rendered defective by any of the vices of
consent under Articles45 and 46 of the Family Code, such as fraud, force, intimidation,
and undue influence.24 Consent must also be conscious or intelligent, in that the parties
must be capable of intelligently understanding the nature of, and both the beneficial or
unfavorable consequences of their act.25 Their understanding should not be affected by
insanity, intoxication, drugs, or hypnotism.26

Based on the above, consent was not lacking between Albios and Fringer. In fact, there
was real consent because it was not vitiated nor rendered defective by any vice of
consent. Their consent was also conscious and intelligent as they understood the nature
and the beneficial and inconvenient consequences of their marriage, as nothing impaired
their ability to do so. That their consent was freely given is best evidenced by their
conscious purpose of acquiring American citizenship through marriage. Such plainly
demonstrates that they willingly and deliberately contracted the marriage. There was a
clear intention to enter into a real and valid marriage so as to fully comply with the
requirements of an application for citizenship. There was a full and complete
understanding of the legal tie that would be created between them, since it was that
precise legal tie which was necessary to accomplish their goal.

In ruling that Albios marriage was void for lack of consent, the CA characterized such as
akin to a marriage by way of jest. A marriage in jest is a pretended marriage, legal in
form but entered into as a joke, with no real intention of entering into the actual
marriage status, and with a clear understanding that the parties would not be bound.
The ceremony is not followed by any conduct indicating a purpose to enter into such a
relation.27 It is a pretended marriage not intended to be real and with no intention to
create any legal ties whatsoever, hence, the absence of any genuine consent. Marriages
in jest are void ab initio, not for vitiated, defective, or unintelligent consent, but for a
complete absence of consent. There is no genuine consent because the parties have
absolutely no intention of being bound in any way or for any purpose.

The respondents marriage is not at all analogous to a marriage in jest.1wphi1 Albios


and Fringer had an undeniable intention to be bound in order to create the very bond
necessary to allow the respondent to acquire American citizenship. Only a genuine
consent to be married would allow them to further their objective, considering that only
a valid marriage can properly support an application for citizenship. There was, thus, an
apparent intention to enter into the actual marriage status and to create a legal tie,
albeit for a limited purpose. Genuine consent was, therefore, clearly present.

The avowed purpose of marriage under Article 1 of the Family Code is for the couple to
establish a conjugal and family life. The possibility that the parties in a marriage might
have no real intention to establish a life together is, however, insufficient to nullify a
marriage freely entered into in accordance with law. The same Article 1 provides that the
nature, consequences, and incidents of marriage are governed by law and not subject to
stipulation. A marriage may, thus, only be declared void or voidable under the grounds
provided by law. There is no law that declares a marriage void if it is entered into for
purposes other than what the Constitution or law declares, such as the acquisition of
foreign citizenship. Therefore, so long as all the essential and formal requisites
prescribed by law are present, and it is not void or voidable under the grounds provided
by law, it shall be declared valid.28

Motives for entering into a marriage are varied and complex. The State does not and
cannot dictate on the kind of life that a couple chooses to lead. Any attempt to regulate
their lifestyle would go into the realm of their right to privacy and would raise serious
constitutional questions.29 The right to marital privacy allows married couples to
structure their marriages in almost any way they see fit, to live together or live apart, to
have children or no children, to love one another or not, and so on. 30 Thus, marriages
entered into for other purposes, limited or otherwise, such as convenience,
companionship, money, status, and title, provided that they comply with all the legal
requisites,31 are equally valid. Love, though the ideal consideration in a marriage
60 | P a g e

contract, is not the only valid cause for marriage. Other considerations, not precluded by
law, may validly support a marriage.

Although the Court views with disdain the respondents attempt to utilize marriage for
dishonest purposes, It cannot declare the marriage void. Hence, though the respondents
marriage may be considered a sham or fraudulent for the purposes of immigration, it is
not void ab initio and continues to be valid and subsisting.

Neither can their marriage be considered voidable on the ground of fraud under Article
45 (3) of the Family Code. Only the circumstances listed under Article 46 of the same
Code may constitute fraud, namely, (1) non- disclosure of a previous conv1ctwn
involving moral turpitude; (2) concealment by the wife of a pregnancy by another man;
(3) concealment of a sexually transmitted disease; and (4) concealment of drug
addiction, alcoholism, or homosexuality. No other misrepresentation or deceit shall
constitute fraud as a ground for an action to annul a marriage. Entering into a marriage
for the sole purpose of evading immigration laws does not qualify under any of the listed
circumstances. Furthermore, under Article 47 (3), the ground of fraud may only be
brought by the injured or innocent party. In the present case, there is no injured party
because Albios and Fringer both conspired to enter into the sham marriage.

Albios has indeed made a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage. Allowing her
marriage with Fringer to be declared void would only further trivialize this inviolable
institution. The Court cannot declare such a marriage void in the event the parties fail to
qualify for immigration benefits, after they have availed of its benefits, or simply have no
further use for it. These unscrupulous individuals cannot be allowed to use the courts as
instruments in their fraudulent schemes. Albios already misused a judicial institution to
enter into a marriage of convenience; she should not be allowed to again abuse it to get
herself out of an inconvenient situation.

No less than our Constitution declares that marriage, as an in violable social institution,
is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State. 32 It must, therefore,
be safeguarded from the whims and caprices of the contracting parties. This Court
cannot leave the impression that marriage may easily be entered into when it suits the
needs of the parties, and just as easily nullified when no longer needed.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The September 29, 2011 Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 95414 is ANNULLED, and Civil Case No. 1134-06 is DISMISSED
for utter lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO* ARTURO D. BRION**


Associate Justice Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.
61 | P a g e

PRESBITER J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's
Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's
Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes
*
Designated Acting Member in lieu of Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor F.
Leonen per Special Order No. 1570 dated October 14. 2013.
**
Designated Acting Member in lieu of Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad. Per
Special Order No. 1554dated September 19, 2013.
1
Rollo. pp. 26-32; penned by Associate Justice Juan Q. Enriquez. Jr. and concurred
in by Associate Justice Ramon M. Bato. Jr. and Associate Justice Fiorito S. Macalino
of the Fifth Division. Manila.
11
Abrams, Kerry. Marriage Fraud . 100 Cal. L. Rev. 1
(2012);http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2000956. Lutwak v.
United States , 344 U.S. 604, 612-613 (U.S. 1953).
12
Abrams, Kerry. Marriage Fraud . 100 Cal. L. Rev. 1
(2012);http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2000956; citing Schibi
v. Schibi , 69 A.2d 831 (Conn. 1949) (denying annulment where parties married
only to give a name to a prospective child); Bishop v. Bishop , 308 N.Y.S.2d 998
(Sup. Ct. 1970); Erickson v. Erickson , 48 N.Y.S.2d 588 (Sup. Ct. 1944) (holding
similarly to Schibi ); Delfino v.Delfino , 35 N.Y.S.2d 693 (Sup. Ct. 1942) (denying
annulment where purpose of marriage was to protect the girls name and there
was an understanding that the parties would not live together as man and wife);
Bove v. Pinciotti , 46 Pa. D. & C. 159 (1942); Campbell v. Moore , 189 S.E.2d 497
(S.C.1939) (refusing an annulment where parties entered marriage for the purpose
of legitimizing a child); Chander v. Chander , No.2937-98-4, 1999 WL 1129721 (Va.
Ct. App. June 22, 1999) (denying annulment where wife married husband to get his
pension with no intention to consummate marriage because husband knew that
was the purpose of the marriage).
13
Abrams, Kerry. Immigration Law and the Regulation of Marriage; 91 Minn. L. Rev.
1625 (2007);http://www.minnesotalawreview.org/wp-
content/uploads/2012/01/Abrams_Final.pdf; citing Immigration and Nationality Act
(INA), 237(a)(1)(G), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(1)(G) (2000).
14
Abrams, Kerry. Immigration Law and the Regulation of Marriage ; 91 Minn. L. Rev.
1625 (2007);http://www.minnesotalawreview.org/wp-
content/uploads/2012/01/Abrams_Final.pdf; citing 132 CONG.REC. 27,012, 27,015
(1986) (statement of Rep Mc Collum) (promoting the Immigration Marriage Fraud
Amendments of 1986).
15
511 F.2d 1200, 1201 (9th Cir. 1975).
62 | P a g e

16
Abrams, Kerry. Immigration Law and the Regulation of Marriage; 91 Minn. L. Rev.
1625 (2007);http://www.minnesotalawreview.org/wp-
content/uploads/2012/01/Abrams_Final.pdf.
17
151 F.2d 915 (2d Cir. 1945).
18
United States v. Rubenstein , 151 F.2d 915 (2d Cir. 1945).
19
Mpiliris v. Hellenic Lines, Ltd. , 323 F. Supp. 865 (S.D. Tex. 1969), affd , 440 F.2d
1163 (5th Cir. 1971).
20
Abrams, Kerry. Marriage Fraud . 100 Cal. L. Rev. 1
(2012);http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2000956; citing Mpiliris
v. Hellenic Lines, Ltd. , 323 F. Supp. 865 (S.D. Tex. 1969), affd, 440F.2d 1163 (5th
Cir. 1971).
21
Matter of McKee, 17 I. & N. Dec. 332, 333 (B.I.A. 1980).
22
Lynn D. Wardle and Laurence C. Nolan, Family Law in the USA, (The Netherlands:
Kluwer Law International, 2011) p. 86.
23
Abrams, Kerry. Marriage Fraud. 100 Cal. L. Rev. 1
(2012);http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2000956.
24
Alicia V. Sempio-Diy, Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines, (Quezon
City, Philippines: Joer Printing Services, 2005), p. 4.
25
Melencio S. Sta. Maria, Jr., Persons and Family Relations Law, (Quezon City,
Philippines: Rex Printing Company, Inc., 2010), Fifth Edition, p. 121.
26
Arturo M. Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the
Philippines, (Manila, Philippines: Central Book Supply, Inc., 2004), Volume I, p. 231.
27
Arturo M. Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the
Philippines, (Manila, Philippines: Central Book Supply, Inc., 2004), Volume I, p. 231;
citing McClurg v. Terry, 21 N.J. 225.
28
Article 4, Family Code.
29
Bark v. Immigration & Naturalization Service, 511 F.2d 1200, 1201 (9th Cir.
1975).
30
Abrams, Kerry. Immigration Law and the Regulation of Marriage; 91 Minn. L. Rev.
1625 (2007);http://www.minnesotalawreview.org/wp-
content/uploads/2012/01/Abrams_Final.pdf; citing McGuire v. McGuire , 59 N.W.2d
336, 337 (Neb. 1953). Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 48586 (1965).
31
Article 4, Family Code.
32
Const. ( 1987), Article XV, Section 2.

Republic of the Philippines vs. Liberty Albios, G.R. No. 198780, October 16,
2013

Issue:

Is a marriage, entered into for the sole purpose of acquiring American citizenship in
exchange for $2,000, void on the ground of lack of consent?
63 | P a g e

Background facts:

Liberty Albios asked Daniel Lee Fringer to marry her so that she can acquire
American citizenship. In return, Albios promised to give Fringer $2,000. After the
wedding, they went their separate ways. Fringer returned to the United States and
never again communicated with Albios. In turn, Albios did not pay Fringer the
$2,000 because he never processed her petition for citizenship.

Regional Trial Court rules that Albios and Fringers marriage is void for
lack of consent

Albios filed with the Regional Trial Court a petition for declaration of nullity of her
marriage with Fringer. She described their marriage as made in jest and, therefore,
null and void ab initio (from the start). The RTC ruled that the essential requisite of
consent was lacking and that when marriage was entered into for a purpose other
than the establishment of a conjugal and family life, the marriage was a farce.

Court of Appeals affirms RTC ruling

The Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC ruling that the essential requisite of consent
was lacking. The CA stated that Albios and Fringer clearly did not understand the
nature and consequence of getting married and that their case was similar to a
marriage in jest. It further explained that Albios and Fringer never intended to enter
into the marriage contract and never intended to live as husband and wife or build
a family. It concluded that their purpose was primarily for personal gain, that is, for
Albios to obtain foreign citizenship, and for Fringer, the consideration of $2,000.

Supreme Court rules that the marriage is valid

Albios and Fringer's marriage is not void ab initio (from the start) and continues to
be valid and subsisting.

Consent was not lacking between Albios and Fringer. Their consent was conscious
and intelligent as they understood the nature and the beneficial and inconvenient
consequences of their marriage. Their consent was freely given as best evidenced
by their conscious purpose of acquiring American citizenship through marriage.
Such plainly demonstrates that they willingly and deliberately contracted the
marriage.

Motives for entering into a marriage are varied and complex. The State does not
and cannot dictate on the kind of life that a couple chooses to lead. Thus,
marriages entered into for other purposes, limited or otherwise, such as
convenience, companionship, money, status, and title, provided that they comply
with all the legal requisites, are equally valid. Love, though the ideal consideration
in a marriage contract, is not the only valid cause for marriage. Other
considerations, not precluded by law, may validly support a marriage.

Albios has indeed made a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage. Allowing
her marriage with Fringer to be declared void would only further trivialize this
inviolable institution. The Court cannot declare such a marriage void in the event
the parties fail to qualify for immigration benefits, after they have availed of its
benefits, or simply have no further use for it. These unscrupulous individuals cannot
64 | P a g e

be allowed to use the courts as instruments in their fraudulent schemes. Albios


already misused a judicial institution to enter into a marriage of convenience; she
should not be allowed to again abuse it to get herself out of an inconvenient
situation.