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EDWIN A. ACEBEDO, petitioner, vs. EDDIE P. ARQUERO, respondent.

CARPIO MORALES, J.:


By letter-complaint dated June 1, 1994, Edwin A. Acebedo charged Eddie P. Arquero, Process Server of the Municipal Trial
Court (MTC) of Brooke’s Point, Palawan for immorality.
Complainant alleged that his wife, Dedje Irader Acebedo, a former stenographer of the MTC Brooke’s Point, and
respondent unlawfully and scandalously cohabited as husband and wife at Bancudo Pulot, Brooke’s Point, Palawan as a
result of which a girl, Desiree May Irader Arquero, was born to the two on May 21, 1989. Attached to the letter-complaint
was the girl’s Baptismal Certificate reflecting the names of respondent and Dedje Irader as her parents. Also attached to the
letter-complainant was a copy of a marriage contract showing that complainant and Dedje Irader contracted marriage on
July 10, 1979.
By Resolution of September 7, 1994, this Court required respondent to file an answer to the complaint.
By his Answer of October 6, 1994, respondent vehemently denied the charge of immorality, claiming that it is “just a (sic)
mere harassment and a product of complainant’s hatred and extreme jealousy to (sic) his wife.” Attached to the answer were
the September 27, 1987 affidavit of desistance executed by complainant in favor of his wife with respect to an
administrative complaint he had much earlier filed against her, and complainant’s sworn statement dated September 13,
1994 acknowledging paternity of a child born out of wedlock, which documents, respondent claims, support his contention
that the complaint filed against him is but a malicious scheme concocted by complainant to harass him.
Additionally, respondent claimed that sometime in 1991, complainant likewise instituted a criminal complaint against him
for “adultery” which was, however, dismissed after preliminary investigation.
Finally, respondent claimed that complainant himself had been cohabiting with another woman.
By Resolution of February 6, 1995, this Court referred the case to then Executive Judge Filomeno A. Vergara of the
Regional Trial Court of Puerto Princesa, Palawan for investigation, report and recommendation. Judge Vergara having
retired during the pendency of the investigation, the case was referred to Executive Judge Nelia Y. Fernandez who was, by
Resolution of August 16, 2000, directed by this Court to (1) verify the authenticity of the marriage certificate and baptismal
certificate submitted by complainant; (2) conduct an investigation as to the information contained in the said baptismal
certificate and the circumstances under which it was issued, and such other verifiable matters relevant to the charge; and (3)
submit her report and recommendation thereon.
In her Investigation Report of February 12, 2001, Judge Fernandez recommends that the complaint be dismissed for failure
to adduce adequate evidence to show that respondent is guilty of the charge. The report focuses on the non-appearance of
complainant and Dedje Irader Acebedo, thusly:
xxx
Having appeared that the complainant Edwin Acebedo and Dedjie Irader who per reliable information cannot be notified for
reason that subject persons are no longer residing in their given address and their whereabouts is unknown as shown by the
return of the subpoena dated November 7, 2000, and the inadmissibility of the baptismal certificate alleging therein that the
father of Desiree Arquero is the respondent herein, and for the reason that the same had not been testified to by Dedje Irader
who is the informant of the entries contained therein, this Court had not received adequate proof or relevant evidence to
support a conclusion that respondent herein could be held liable of the charge imputed against him, hence, he should be
absolved from any liability.
By Resolution of April 25, 2001, this Court referred the case to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for evaluation,
report and recommendation.
By Memorandum of December 12, 2001, the OCA, disagreeing with the recommendation of the Investigating Judge that the
case should be dismissed, recommends that respondent be held guilty of immorality and that he be suspended from office
for a period of one (1) year without pay. Thus the OCA ratiocinates:
. . . [R]espondent admitted the fact that for eight (8) to nine (9) months, he a single man maintained relations with
Dedje Irader Acebedo, wife of herein complainant, attended with “sexual union” (TSN dated 23 November 2000, pp.
14-15). Based on his testimony, we observed that respondent justified his having a relationship with Dedje I. Acebedo
solely on the written document purportedly a “Kasunduan” or agreement entered into by complainant and his wife,
consenting to and giving freedom to either of them to seek any partner and to live with him or her. Being a court
employee respondent should have known that said agreement was void despite it having been notarized. Even granting that
Dedjie I. Acebedo was separated from her husband during their short lived relation, to hold on to said scandalous agreement
and enter an immoral relationship with a very much married woman and a co-court-employee at that is highly improper. It
is contrary to the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees which provides that public
employees of which respondent is one, xxx “ shall at times (sic) respect the rights of others, and shall refrain from doing acts
contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest. Moreover,
respondent cannot seek refuge and “sling mud” at complainant for having executed an Affidavit dated September 13, 1994,
acknowledging that he bore a woman other than his wife, a child. It would seem that respondent would want to apply the
principle of in pari delicto in the instant case. Respondent would have it appear that a married man with an extra-marital
relation and an illegitimate child is precluded from complaining if his wife enters into a relationship with another man.
Second, the records show that an Affidavit of Desistance was executed by herein complainant. However, a cursory reading
of said document reveals that it favors only Dedje Irader Acebedo and not herein respondent. Interestingly, the date of said
affidavit is 2 September 1987. Respondent had the temerity to claim it as evidence in his favor when the instant complaint
was only filed sometime in 1994.
Third, when respondent was asked by the investigating judge if he attended the baptism of the daughter of Dedje Irader
Acebedo, his former co-employee and ex-intimate friend, he answered, “I did not. I’m not sure the child is mine”. From his
answer, we could infer that respondent did not categorically rule out the possibility that said child might be her (sic)
daughter, only that he is doubtful of her paternity.
x x x (Emphasis supplied; underscoring in the original).
While complainant appears to have lost interest in the prosecution of the present case, the same does not ipso facto warrant
its dismissal. Once administrative charges have been filed, this Court may not be divested of its jurisdiction to investigate
and ascertain the truth thereof. For it has an interest in the conduct of those in the service of the Judiciary and in improving
the delivery of justice to the people, and its efforts in that direction may not be derailed by the complainant’s desistance
from prosecuting the case he initiated.
On the merits of the case, the entry of respondent’s name as father in the baptismal certificate of Desiree May I. Arquero
cannot be used to prove her filiation and, therefore, cannot be availed of to imply that respondent maintained illicit relations
with Dedje Irader Acebedo. A canonical certificate is conclusive proof only of the baptism administered, in conformity with
the rites of the Catholic Church by the priest who baptized the child, but it does not prove the veracity of the declarations
and statements contained therein which concern the relationship of the person baptized. It merely attests to the fact which
gave rise to its issue, and the date thereof, to wit, the fact of the administration of the sacrament on the date stated, but not
the truth of the statements therein as to the parentage of the child baptized.
By respondent’s own admission, however, he had an illicit relationship with complainant’s wife:
Q: During the formal offer of the possible nature of your testimony before the Court by your counsel, did the Court
get it correct that there has been a short lived relation between you and Dedgie Irader, am I correct in my impression?
A: During that time that I have heard she and her husband have parted ways already, I jokingly informed her that she
is now being separated, she is now single and is free to have some commitment. So, I courted her and she accepted
me, so we have a short lived relation and after that we parted ways.
Q: For how long was this short lived relation you made mention a while ago?
A: May be (sic) about eight (8) to nine (9) months.
Q: When you said you have (sic) a short lived relationship from 8 to 9 months, you mean to tell the Court that you
have (sic) a sexual union with this woman?
A: Yes ma’am. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied).
Respondent justified his pursuing a relationship with complainant’s wife with the spouses having priorly entered into a
settlement with respect to their marriage which was embodied in a “Kasunduan”, the pertinent portions of which are
reproduced hereunder:
Kami, EDWIN AGUINALDO ACEBEDO at DEDJE IRADER ACEBEDO, may sapat na taong gulang, mag-asawa,
Pilipino, at kasalukuyang nakatira sa Poblacion, Broke’s (sic) Point, Palawan, ay malayang nagkasundo ng mga
sumusunod:
1. Na, yayamang hindi kami magkasundo bilang mag-asawa, at magiging miserable lamang ang aming mga buhay kung
aming ipagpapatuloy pa ang aming pagsasama bilang mag-asawa, kami ay malayang nagkasundo ngayon na maghiwalay
na bilang mag-asawa, at ang bawat isa sa amin ay may kalayaan na humanap na ng kaniyang makakasama sa buhay
bilang asawa at hindi kami maghahabol sa isat isa sa alin pa mang hukuman;
x x x (Italics supplied).
Respondent’s justification fails. Being an employee of the judiciary, respondent ought to have known that the Kasunduan
had absolutely no force and effect on the validity of the marriage between complainant and his wife. Article 1 of the Family
Code provides that marriage is “an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by
law and not subject to stipulation.” It is an institution of public order or policy, governed by rules established by law
which cannot be made inoperative by the stipulation of the parties.
Republic Act 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees,
enunciates the State’s policy of promoting a high standard of ethics and utmost responsibility in the public service.
Although every office in the government service is a public trust, no position exacts a greater demand for moral
righteousness and uprightness from an individual than in the judiciary. That is why this Court has firmly laid down exacting
standards of morality and decency expected of those in the service of the judiciary. Their conduct, not to mention behavior,
is circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility, characterized by, among other things, propriety and decorum so as
to earn and keep the public’s respect and confidence in the judicial service. It must be free from any whiff of impropriety,
not only with respect to their duties in the judicial branch but also to their behavior outside the court as private individuals.
There is no dichotomy of morality; court employees are also judged by their private morals.
Respondent’s act of having illicit relations with complainant’s wife is, within the purview of Section 46 (5) of Subtitle A,
Title I, Book V of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, a disgraceful and
immoral conduct.
Under Rule IV, Section 52A (15) of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, an immoral
conduct is classified as a grave offense which calls for a penalty of suspension for six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1)
year for the first offense, and dismissal is imposed for the second offense.
Since the present charge of immorality against respondent constitutes his first offense, his suspension for six (6) months and
one (1) day is in order.
WHEREFORE, this Court finds respondent Eddie P. Arquero, Process Server of the Municipal Trial Court of Brooke’s
Point, Palawan, GUILTY of immorality, for which he is hereby SUSPENDED for six (6) months and one (1) day without
pay with a STERN WARNING that commission of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with severely. Let a copy of this
decision be filed in the personal record of respondent.

G.R. No. 174689 October 22, 2007


ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In particular, does the law recognize the changes made by a
physician using scalpel, drugs and counseling with regard to a person’s sex? May a person successfully petition for a change
of name and sex appearing in the birth certificate to reflect the result of a sex reassignment surgery?
On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio filed a petition for the change of his first name and sex
in his birth certificate in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The petition, docketed as SP Case No. 02-105207,
impleaded the civil registrar of Manila as respondent.
Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the City of Manila to the spouses Melecio Petines Silverio and Anita
Aquino Dantes on April 4, 1962. His name was registered as "Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio" in his certificate of live
birth (birth certificate). His sex was registered as "male."
He further alleged that he is a male transsexual, that is, "anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts as a female" and that he
had always identified himself with girls since childhood.1 Feeling trapped in a man’s body, he consulted several doctors in
the United States. He underwent psychological examination, hormone treatment and breast augmentation. His attempts to
transform himself to a "woman" culminated on January 27, 2001 when he underwent sex reassignment surgery2 in Bangkok,
Thailand. He was thereafter examined by Dr. Marcelino Reysio-Cruz, Jr., a plastic and reconstruction surgeon in the
Philippines, who issued a medical certificate attesting that he (petitioner) had in fact undergone the procedure.
From then on, petitioner lived as a female and was in fact engaged to be married. He then sought to have his name in his
birth certificate changed from "Rommel Jacinto" to "Mely," and his sex from "male" to "female."
An order setting the case for initial hearing was published in the People’s Journal Tonight, a newspaper of general
circulation in Metro Manila, for three consecutive weeks.3 Copies of the order were sent to the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG) and the civil registrar of Manila.
On the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional requirements were established. No opposition to the petition was made.
During trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also presented Dr. Reysio-Cruz, Jr. and his American fiancé, Richard P.
Edel, as witnesses.
On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision4 in favor of petitioner. Its relevant portions read:
Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or judgment or any infraction thereof or for any unlawful
motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth records compatible with his present sex.
The sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is entitled to the relief asked for.
The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative.
Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that granting the petition would be more in consonance with the principles of
justice and equity. With his sexual [re-assignment], petitioner, who has always felt, thought and acted like a
woman, now possesses the physique of a female. Petitioner’s misfortune to be trapped in a man’s body is not his
own doing and should not be in any way taken against him.
Likewise, the [c]ourt believes that no harm, injury [or] prejudice will be caused to anybody or the community in
granting the petition. On the contrary, granting the petition would bring the much-awaited happiness on the part of
the petitioner and her [fiancé] and the realization of their dreams.
Finally, no evidence was presented to show any cause or ground to deny the present petition despite due notice and
publication thereof. Even the State, through the [OSG] has not seen fit to interpose any [o]pposition.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered GRANTING the petition and ordering the Civil Registrar of Manila
to change the entries appearing in the Certificate of Birth of [p]etitioner, specifically for petitioner’s first name
from "Rommel Jacinto" to MELY and petitioner’s gender from "Male" to FEMALE. 5
On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), thru the OSG, filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of
Appeals.6 It alleged that there is no law allowing the change of entries in the birth certificate by reason of sex alteration.
On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals7 rendered a decision8 in favor of the Republic. It ruled that the trial court’s
decision lacked legal basis. There is no law allowing the change of either name or sex in the certificate of birth on the
ground of sex reassignment through surgery. Thus, the Court of Appeals granted the Republic’s petition, set aside the
decision of the trial court and ordered the dismissal of SP Case No. 02-105207. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it
was denied.9 Hence, this petition.
Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his name and sex in his birth certificate is allowed under Articles 407 to 413
of the Civil Code, Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court and RA 9048.10
The petition lacks merit.
A Person’s First Name Cannot Be Changed On the Ground of Sex Reassignment
Petitioner invoked his sex reassignment as the ground for his petition for change of name and sex. As found by the trial
court:
Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or judgment or any infraction thereof or for any unlawful
motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth records compatible with his present sex. (emphasis
supplied)
Petitioner believes that after having acquired the physical features of a female, he became entitled to the civil registry
changes sought. We disagree.
The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and entities for purposes of identification.11 A change of name is
a privilege, not a right.12 Petitions for change of name are controlled by statutes.13 In this connection, Article 376 of the Civil
Code provides:
ART. 376. No person can change his name or surname without judicial authority.
This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048 (Clerical Error Law). In particular, Section 1 of RA 9048 provides:
SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or Typographical Error and Change of First Name or Nickname. – No
entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial order, except for clerical or typographical
errors and change of first name or nickname which can be corrected or changed by the concerned city or municipal
civil registrar or consul general in accordance with the provisions of this Act and its implementing rules and
regulations.
RA 9048 now governs the change of first name.14 It vests the power and authority to entertain petitions for change of first
name to the city or municipal civil registrar or consul general concerned. Under the law, therefore, jurisdiction over
applications for change of first name is now primarily lodged with the aforementioned administrative officers. The intent
and effect of the law is to exclude the change of first name from the coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and 108
(Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court, until and unless an administrative petition
for change of name is first filed and subsequently denied.15 It likewise lays down the corresponding venue,16 form17 and
procedure. In sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating change of first name are primarily administrative in nature,
not judicial.
RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which change of first name may be allowed:
SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or Nickname. – The petition for change of first name or nickname
may be allowed in any of the following cases:
(1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to
write or pronounce;
(2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the petitioner and he has been
publicly known by that first name or nickname in the community; or
(3) The change will avoid confusion.
Petitioner’s basis in praying for the change of his first name was his sex reassignment. He intended to make his first name
compatible with the sex he thought he transformed himself into through surgery. However, a change of name does not alter
one’s legal capacity or civil status.18 RA 9048 does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment.
Rather than avoiding confusion, changing petitioner’s first name for his declared purpose may only create grave
complications in the civil registry and the public interest.
Before a person can legally change his given name, he must present proper or reasonable cause or any compelling reason
justifying such change.19 In addition, he must show that he will be prejudiced by the use of his true and official name.20 In
this case, he failed to show, or even allege, any prejudice that he might suffer as a result of using his true and official name.
In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for the change of petitioner’s first name was not within that court’s
primary jurisdiction as the petition should have been filed with the local civil registrar concerned, assuming it could be
legally done. It was an improper remedy because the proper remedy was administrative, that is, that provided under RA
9048. It was also filed in the wrong venue as the proper venue was in the Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila where his
birth certificate is kept. More importantly, it had no merit since the use of his true and official name does not prejudice him
at all. For all these reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed petitioner’s petition in so far as the change of his first
name was concerned.
No Law Allows The Change of Entry In The Birth Certificate As To Sex On the Ground of Sex Reassignment
The determination of a person’s sex appearing in his birth certificate is a legal issue and the court must look to the statutes.21
In this connection, Article 412 of the Civil Code provides:
ART. 412. No entry in the civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial order.
Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this provision was amended by RA 9048 in so far as clerical or typographical
errors are involved. The correction or change of such matters can now be made through administrative proceedings and
without the need for a judicial order. In effect, RA 9048 removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court the
correction of such errors.22 Rule 108 now applies only to substantial changes and corrections in entries in the civil register.23
Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a "clerical or typographical error" is:
SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. – As used in this Act, the following terms shall mean:
xxx xxx xxx
(3) "Clerical or typographical error" refers to a mistake committed in the performance of clerical work in
writing, copying, transcribing or typing an entry in the civil register that is harmless and innocuous, such
as misspelled name or misspelled place of birth or the like, which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the
understanding, and can be corrected or changed only by reference to other existing record or records:
Provided, however, That no correction must involve the change of nationality, age, status or sex of the
petitioner. (emphasis supplied)
Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the change of sex is not a mere clerical or typographical error. It
is a substantial change for which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those
provided in Articles 407 and 408 of the Civil Code:24
ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil
register.
ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register:
(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5) annulments of marriage; (6) judgments declaring
marriages void from the beginning; (7) legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of natural children; (10)
naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14) judicial determination of
filiation; (15) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of name.
The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of the Civil Code include even those that occur after
birth.25 However, no reasonable interpretation of the provision can justify the conclusion that it covers the correction on the
ground of sex reassignment.
To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to remove the faults or error from" while to change means "to replace
something with something else of the same kind or with something that serves as a substitute."26 The birth certificate of
petitioner contained no error. All entries therein, including those corresponding to his first name and sex, were all correct.
No correction is necessary.
Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in the civil registry of certain acts (such as legitimations,
acknowledgments of illegitimate children and naturalization), events (such as births, marriages, naturalization and deaths)
and judicial decrees (such as legal separations, annulments of marriage, declarations of nullity of marriages, adoptions,
naturalization, loss or recovery of citizenship, civil interdiction, judicial determination of filiation and changes of name).
These acts, events and judicial decrees produce legal consequences that touch upon the legal capacity, status and nationality
of a person. Their effects are expressly sanctioned by the laws. In contrast, sex reassignment is not among those acts or
events mentioned in Article 407. Neither is it recognized nor even mentioned by any law, expressly or impliedly.
"Status" refers to the circumstances affecting the legal situation (that is, the sum total of capacities and incapacities) of a
person in view of his age, nationality and his family membership.27
The status of a person in law includes all his personal qualities and relations, more or less permanent in nature,
not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not.
The comprehensive term status… include such matters as the beginning and end of legal personality, capacity to
have rights in general, family relations, and its various aspects, such as birth, legitimation, adoption, emancipation,
marriage, divorce, and sometimes even succession.28 (emphasis supplied)
A person’s sex is an essential factor in marriage and family relations. It is a part of a person’s legal capacity and civil status.
In this connection, Article 413 of the Civil Code provides:
ART. 413. All other matters pertaining to the registration of civil status shall be governed by special laws.
But there is no such special law in the Philippines governing sex reassignment and its effects. This is fatal to petitioner’s
cause.
Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register Law) provides:
SEC. 5. Registration and certification of births. – The declaration of the physician or midwife in attendance at the
birth or, in default thereof, the declaration of either parent of the newborn child, shall be sufficient for the
registration of a birth in the civil register. Such declaration shall be exempt from documentary stamp tax and shall
be sent to the local civil registrar not later than thirty days after the birth, by the physician or midwife in attendance
at the birth or by either parent of the newborn child.
In such declaration, the person above mentioned shall certify to the following facts: (a) date and hour of birth; (b)
sex and nationality of infant; (c) names, citizenship and religion of parents or, in case the father is not known, of
the mother alone; (d) civil status of parents; (e) place where the infant was born; and (f) such other data as may be
required in the regulations to be issued.
xxx xxx xxx (emphasis supplied)
Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical record of the facts as they existed at the time of birth.29 Thus,
the sex of a person is determined at birth, visually done by the birth attendant (the physician or midwife) by examining the
genitals of the infant. Considering that there is no law legally recognizing sex reassignment, the determination of a person’s
sex made at the time of his or her birth, if not attended by error,30 is immutable.31
When words are not defined in a statute they are to be given their common and ordinary meaning in the absence of a
contrary legislative intent. The words "sex," "male" and "female" as used in the Civil Register Law and laws concerning the
civil registry (and even all other laws) should therefore be understood in their common and ordinary usage, there being no
legislative intent to the contrary. In this connection, sex is defined as "the sum of peculiarities of structure and function that
distinguish a male from a female"32 or "the distinction between male and female."33 Female is "the sex that produces ova or
bears young"34 and male is "the sex that has organs to produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova."35 Thus, the words "male"
and "female" in everyday understanding do not include persons who have undergone sex reassignment. Furthermore, "words
that are employed in a statute which had at the time a well-known meaning are presumed to have been used in that sense
unless the context compels to the contrary."36 Since the statutory language of the Civil Register Law was enacted in the early
1900s and remains unchanged, it cannot be argued that the term "sex" as used then is something alterable through surgery or
something that allows a post-operative male-to-female transsexual to be included in the category "female."
For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in altering his body and appearance through the intervention of
modern surgery, no law authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry for that reason. Thus, there is no legal
basis for his petition for the correction or change of the entries in his birth certificate.
Neither May Entries in the Birth Certificate As to First Name or Sex Be Changed on the Ground of Equity
The trial court opined that its grant of the petition was in consonance with the principles of justice and equity. It believed
that allowing the petition would cause no harm, injury or prejudice to anyone. This is wrong.
The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wide-ranging legal and public policy consequences. First, even the
trial court itself found that the petition was but petitioner’s first step towards his eventual marriage to his male fiancé.
However, marriage, one of the most sacred social institutions, is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a
woman.37 One of its essential requisites is the legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female.38
To grant the changes sought by petitioner will substantially reconfigure and greatly alter the laws on marriage and family
relations. It will allow the union of a man with another man who has undergone sex reassignment (a male-to-female post-
operative transsexual). Second, there are various laws which apply particularly to women such as the provisions of the
Labor Code on employment of women,39 certain felonies under the Revised Penal Code40 and the presumption of
survivorship in case of calamities under Rule 131 of the Rules of Court,41 among others. These laws underscore the public
policy in relation to women which could be substantially affected if petitioner’s petition were to be granted.
It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that "[n]o judge or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the
silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the law." However, it is not a license for courts to engage in judicial legislation. The
duty of the courts is to apply or interpret the law, not to make or amend it.
In our system of government, it is for the legislature, should it choose to do so, to determine what guidelines should govern
the recognition of the effects of sex reassignment. The need for legislative guidelines becomes particularly important in this
case where the claims asserted are statute-based.
To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions for change of first name and for correction or change of entries in the
civil registry, where they may be filed, what grounds may be invoked, what proof must be presented and what procedures
shall be observed. If the legislature intends to confer on a person who has undergone sex reassignment the privilege to
change his name and sex to conform with his reassigned sex, it has to enact legislation laying down the guidelines in turn
governing the conferment of that privilege.
It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write a protocol on when a person may be recognized as having
successfully changed his sex. However, this Court has no authority to fashion a law on that matter, or on anything else. The
Court cannot enact a law where no law exists. It can only apply or interpret the written word of its co-equal branch of
government, Congress.
Petitioner pleads that "[t]he unfortunates are also entitled to a life of happiness, contentment and [the] realization of their
dreams." No argument about that. The Court recognizes that there are people whose preferences and orientation do not fit
neatly into the commonly recognized parameters of social convention and that, at least for them, life is indeed an ordeal.
However, the remedies petitioner seeks involve questions of public policy to be addressed solely by the legislature, not by
the courts.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. Costs against petitioner.

Laxamana v. Baltazar [GR L-5955, 19 September 1952]


First Division, Bengzon (p): 7 concur
Facts: In July 1952 the mayor of Sexmoan, Pampanga, was suspended, vice-mayor Jose T. Baltazar, assumed office as
mayor by virtue of section 2195 of the Revised Administrative Code. However, the provincial governor, acting under
section 21(a) of the Revised Election Code (RA 180), with the consent of the provincial board appointed Jose L. Laxamana,
as mayor of Sexmoan, who immediately took the corresponding official oath. Thus, the quo warranto petition.
The Supreme Court dismissed the quo warranto petition with costs.
1. Section 21(a) derived from Section 2180; supplements, not repeal, Section 2195
Section 2195 of the Revised Administrative Code provides that upon the occasion of the absence, suspension, or other
temporary disability of the Mayor, his duties shall be discharged by the Vice-Mayor, or if there be no Vice-Mayor, by the
councilor who at the last general election received the highest number of votes. Section 21(a) of the Revised Election Code
provides that whenever a temporary vacancy in any elective local office occurs, the same shall be filled by appointment by
the President if it is a provincial or city office, and by the provincial governor, with the consent of the provincial board, if it
is a municipal office. The portion of Section 21(a) relating to municipal offices was taken from section 2180 of the Revised
Administrative Code. Thus, when the office of municipal president (now mayor) became permanently vacant, the vice-
president stepped into the office. Likewise, when the municipal president is suspended, the vice-president takes his place by
virtue of Section 2195. Sections 2180 and 2195, thus, supplemented each other. It must also be noted that paragraph (a) of
section 2180 applied to municipal offices in general, other than that of the municipal president.
2. Contemporaneous and practical interpretation of re-enacted statute
sWhere a statute has received a contemporaneous and practical interpretation and the statute as interpreted is re-enacted, the
practical interpretation is accorded greater weight than it ordinarily receives, and is regarded as presumptively the correct
interpretation of the law. The rule here is based upon the theory that the legislature is acquainted with the contemporaneous
interpretation of a statute, especially when made by an administrative body or executive officers charged with the duty of
administering or enforcing the law, and therefore impliedly adopts the interpretation upon re-enactment. The incorporation
of Section 2180 of the Revised Administrative Code as Section 21(a) of the Revised Election Law did not have the effect of
enlarging its scope, to supersede or repeal section 2195, what with the presumption against implied repeals.
3. Particular over general
Even disregarding their origin, the allegedly conflicting sections, could be interpreted in the light of the principle of
statutory construction that when a general and a particular provision are inconsistent the latter is paramount to the former
(Sec. 288, Act 190). Where one statute deals with a subject in general terms, and another deals with a part of the same
subject in a more detailed way, the two should be harmonized if possible; but if there is any conflict, the latter will prevail,
regardless of whether it was passed prior to the general statute. In the case at bar, section 2195 referring particularly to
vacancy in the office of mayor, must prevail over the general terms of section 21(a) as to vacancies of municipal (local)
offices. Otherwise stated, section 2195 may be deemed an exception to or qualification of the latter.
4. Particular not repealed by general statute unless there is manifest intent to repeal such
A special and local statute, providing for a particular case or class of cases, is not repealed by a subsequent statute, general
in its terms, provisions and applications, unless the intent to repeal or alter is manifest, although the terms of the general act
are broad enough to include the cases embraced in the special law. It is a canon of statutory construction that a later statute,
general in its terms and not expressly repealing a prior special statute, will ordinarily not affect the special provisions, of
such earlier statute. Where there are two statutes, the earlier special and the later general — the terms of the general broad
enough to include the matter provided for in the special — the fact that one is special and the other is general creates a
presumption that the special is to be considered as remaining an exception to the general, one as a general law of the land,
the other as the law of a particular case.
5. Executive Construction given weight by Court
The contemporaneous construction placed upon the statute by the executive officers charged with its execution deserves
great weight in the courts. In the case at bar, the Department of the Interior and the office of Executive Secretary who are
charged with the supervision of provincial and municipal governments, even after the Revised Election Code was enacted,
have consistently held that in case of the suspension or other temporary disability of the mayor, the vice-mayor shall, by
operation of law, assume the office of the mayor, and if the vice- mayor is not available, the said office shall be discharged
by the first councilor.
A.M. No. MTJ-92-721 September 30, 1994
JUVY N. COSCA, EDMUNDO B. PERALTA, RAMON C. SAMBO, and APOLLO A. VILLAMORA,
vs. HON. LUCIO P. PALAYPAYON, JR., Presiding Judge, and NELIA B. ESMERALDA-BAROY, Clerk of Court
II, both of the Municipal Trial Court of Tinambac, Camarines Sur, respondents.
PER CURIAM, J.:
Complainants Juvy N. Cosca, Edmundo B. Peralta, Ramon C. Sambo, and Apollo Villamora, are Stenographer I, Interpreter
I, Clerk II, and Process Server, respectively, of the Municipal Trial Court of Tinambac, Camarines Sur. Respondents Judge
Lucio P. Palaypayon, Jr. and Nelia B. Esmeralda-Baroy are respectively the Presiding Judge and Clerk of Court II of the
same court.
In an administrative complaint filed with the Office of the Court Administrator on October 5, 1992, herein respondents were
charged with the following offenses, to wit: (1) illegal solemnization of marriage; (2) falsification of the monthly reports of
cases; (3) bribery in consideration of an appointment in the court; (4) non-issuance of receipt for cash bond received; (5)
infidelity in the custody of detained prisoners; and (6) requiring payment of filing fees from exempted entities. 1
Pursuant to a resolution issued by this Court respondents filed their respective Comments. 2 A Reply to Answers of
Respondents was filed by complainants. 3 The case was thereafter referred to Executive Judge David C. Naval of the
Regional Trial Court, Naga City, for investigation report and recommendation. The case was however transferred to First
Assistant Executive Judge Antonio N. Gerona when Judge Naval inhibited himself for the reason that his wife is a cousin of
respondent Judge Palaypayon, Jr. 4
The contending versions of the parties regarding the factual antecedents of this administrative matter, as culled from the
records thereof, are set out under each particular charge against respondents.
1. Illegal solemnization of marriage
Complainants allege that respondent judge solemnized marriages even without the requisite marriage license. Thus, the
following couples were able to get married by the simple expedient of paying the marriage fees to respondent Baroy, despite
the absence of a marriage license, viz.: Alano P. Abellano and Nelly Edralin, Francisco Selpo and Julieta Carrido, Eddie
Terrobias and Maria Gacer, Renato Gamay and Maricris Belga, Arsenio Sabater and Margarita Nacario, and Sammy Bocaya
and Gina Bismonte. As a consequence, their marriage contracts (Exhibits B, C, D, F, G, and A, respectively) did not reflect
any marriage license number. In addition, respondent judge did not sign their marriage contracts and did not indicate the
date of solemnization, the reason being that he allegedly had to wait for the marriage license to be submitted by the parties
which was usually several days after the ceremony. Indubitably, the marriage contracts were not filed with the local civil
registrar. Complainant Ramon Sambo, who prepares the marriage contracts, called the attention of respondents to the lack of
marriage licenses and its effect on the marriages involved, but the latter opted to proceed with the celebration of said
marriages.
Respondent Nelia Baroy claims that when she was appointed Clerk of Court II, the employees of the court were already
hostile to her, especially complainant Ramon Sambo who told her that he was filing a protest against her appointment. She
avers that it was only lately when she discovered that the court had a marriage Register which is in the custody of Sambo;
that it was Sambo who failed to furnish the parties copies of the marriage contract and to register these with the local civil
registrar; and that apparently Sambo kept these marriage contracts in preparation for this administrative case. Complainant
Sambo, however, claims that all file copies of the marriage contracts were kept by respondent Baroy, but the latter insists
that she had instructed Sambo to follow up the submission by the contracting parties of their marriage licenses as part of his
duties but he failed to do so.
Respondent Judge Palaypayon, Jr. contends that the marriage between Alano P. Abellano and Nelly Edralin falls under
Article 34 of the Civil Code, hence it is exempt from the marriage license requirement; that he gave strict instructions to
complainant Sambo to furnish the couple a copy of the marriage contract and to file the same with the civil registrar, but the
latter failed to do so; that in order to solve the problem, the spouses subsequently formalized their marriage by securing a
marriage license and executing their marriage contract, a copy of which was filed with the civil registrar; that the other five
marriages alluded to in the administrative complaint were not illegally solemnized because the marriage contracts were not
signed by him and they did not contain the date and place of marriage; that copies of these marriage contracts are in the
custody of complainant Sambo; that the alleged marriage of Francisco Selpo and Julieta Carrido, Eddie Terrobias and Maria
Emma Gaor, Renato Gamay and Maricris Belga, and of Arsenio Sabater and Margarita Nacario were not celebrated by him
since he refused to solemnize them in the absence of a marriage license; that the marriage of Samy Bocaya and Gina
Bismonte was celebrated even without the requisite license due to the insistence of the parties in order to avoid
embarrassment to their guests but that, at any rate, he did not sign their marriage contract which remains unsigned up to the
present.
2. Falsification of monthly report for July, 1991 regarding the number of marriages solemnized and the
number of documents notarized.
It is alleged that respondent judge made it appear that he solemnized seven (7) marriages in the month of July, 1992, when
in truth he did not do so or at most those marriages were null and void; that respondents likewise made it appear that they
have notarized only six (6) documents for July, 1992, but the Notarial Register will show that there were one hundred
thirteen (113) documents which were notarized during that month; and that respondents reported a notarial fee of only
P18.50 for each document, although in fact they collected P20.00 therefor and failed to account for the difference.
Respondent Baroy contends, however, that the marriage registry where all marriages celebrated by respondent judge are
entered is under the exclusive control and custody of complainant Ramon Sambo, hence he is the only one who should be
held responsible for the entries made therein; that the reported marriages are merely based on the payments made as
solemnization fees which are in the custody of respondent Baroy. She further avers that it is Sambo who is likewise the
custodian of the Notarial Register; that she cannot be held accountable for whatever alleged difference there is in the
notarial fees because she is liable only for those payments tendered to her by Sambo himself; that the notarial fees she
collects are duly covered by receipts; that of the P20.00 charged, P18.50 is remitted directly to the Supreme Court as part of
the Judiciary Development Fund and P150 goes to the general fund of the Supreme Court which is paid to the Municipal
Treasurer of Tinambac, Camarines Sur. Respondent theorizes that the discrepancies in the monthly report were manipulated
by complainant Sambo considering that he is the one in charge of the preparation of the monthly report.
Respondent Judge Palaypayon avers that the erroneous number of marriages celebrated was intentionally placed by
complainant Sambo; that the number of marriages solemnized should not be based on solemnization fees paid for that month
since not all the marriages paid for are solemnized in the same month. He claims that there were actually only six (6)
documents notarized in the month of July, 1992 which tallied with the official receipts issued by the clerk of court; that it is
Sambo who should be held accountable for any unreceipted payment for notarial fees because he is the one in charge of the
Notarial Register; and that this case filed by complainant Sambo is merely in retaliation for his failure to be appointed as the
clerk of court. Furthermore, respondent judge contends that he is not the one supervising or preparing the monthly report,
and that he merely has the ministerial duty to sign the same.
3. Bribery in consideration of an appointment in the court
Complainants allege that because of the retirement of the clerk of court, respondent judge forwarded to the Supreme Court
the applications of Rodel Abogado, Ramon Sambo, and Jessell Abiog. However, they were surprised when respondent
Baroy reported for duty as clerk of court on October 21, 1991. They later found out that respondent Baroy was the one
appointed because she gave a brand-new air-conditioning unit to respondent judge.
Respondent Baroy claims that when she was still in Naga City she purchased an air-conditioning unit but when she was
appointed clerk of court she had to transfer to Tinambac and, since she no longer needed the air conditioner, she decided to
sell the same to respondent judge. The installation and use thereof by the latter in his office was with the consent of the
Mayor of Tinambac.
Respondent judge contends that he endorsed all the applications for the position of clerk of court to the Supreme Court
which has the sole authority over such appointments and that he had no hand in the appointment of respondent Baroy. He
contends that the air-conditioning unit was bought from his
co-respondent on installment basis on May 29, 1992, eight (8) months after Baroy had been appointed clerk of court. He
claims that he would not be that naive to exhibit to the public as item which could not be defended as a matter of honor and
prestige.
4. Cash bond issued without a receipt
It is alleged that in Criminal Case No. 5438, entitled "People vs. Mendeza, et al., "bondswoman Januaria Dacara was
allowed by respondent judge to change her property bond to cash bond; that she paid the amount of P1,000.00 but was never
issued a receipt therefor nor was it made to appear in the records that the bond has been paid; that despite the lapse of two
years, the money was never returned to the bondswoman; and that it has not been shown that the money was turned over to
the Municipal Treasurer of Tinambac.
Respondent Baroy counters that the cash bond was deposited with the former clerk of court, then turned over to the acting
clerk of court and, later, given to her under a corresponding receipt; that the cash bond is deposited with the bank; and that
should the bondswoman desire to withdraw the same, she should follow the proper procedure therefor.
Respondent judge contends that Criminal Case No. 5438 was archieved for failure of the bondsman to deliver the body of
the accused in court despite notice; and that he has nothing to do with the payment of the cash bond as this is the duty of the
clerk of court.
5. Infidelity in the custody of prisoners
Complainants contend that respondent judge usually got detention prisoners to work in his house, one of whom was Alex
Alano, who is accused in Criminal Case No. 5647 for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act; that while Alano was in the
custody of respondent judge, the former escaped and was never recaptured; that in order to conceal this fact, the case was
archived pursuant to an order issued by respondent judge dated April 6, 1992.
Respondent judge denied the accusation and claims that he never employed detention prisoners and that he has adequate
household help; and that he had to order the case archived because it had been pending for more than six (6) months and the
accused therein remained at large.
6. Unlawful collection of docket fees
Finally, respondents are charged with collecting docket fees from the Rural Bank of Tinambac, Camarines Sur, Inc.
although such entity is exempt by law from the payment of said fees, and that while the corresponding receipt was issued,
respondent Baroy failed to remit the amount to the Supreme Court and, instead, she deposited the same in her personal
account.
Respondents Baroy contends that it was Judge-Designate Felimon Montenegro (because respondent judge was on sick
leave) who instructed her to demand payment of docket fees from said rural bank; that the bank issued a check for P800.00;
that she was not allowed by the Philippine National Bank to encash the check and, instead, was instructed to deposit the
same in any bank account for clearing; that respondent deposited the same in her account; and that after the check was
cleared, she remitted P400.00 to the Supreme Court and the other P400.00 was paid to the Municipal Treasurer of
Tinambac.
On the basis of the foregoing contentions, First Vice-Executive Judge Antonio N. Gerona prepared and submitted to us his
Report and Recommendations dated May 20, 1994, together with the administrative matter. We have perspicaciously
reviewed the same and we are favorably impressed by the thorough and exhaustive presentation and analysis of the facts and
evidence in said report. We commend the investigating judge for his industry and perspicacity reflected by his findings in
said report which, being amply substantiated by the evidence and supported by logical illations, we hereby approve and
hereunder reproduce at length the material portions thereof.
xxx xxx xxx
The first charge against the respondents is illegal solemnization of marriage. Judge Palaypayon is charged with having
solemnized without a marriage license the marriage of Sammy Bocaya and Gina Besmonte (Exh. A). Alano Abellano and
Nelly Edralin (Exh. B), Francisco Selpo and Julieta Carrido (Exh. C), Eddie Terrobias and Maria Emma Gaor (Exh. D),
Renato Gamay and Maricris Belga (Exh. F) and Arsenio Sabater and Margarita Nacario (Exh. G).
In all these aforementioned marriages, the blank space in the marriage contracts to show the number of the marriage was
solemnized as required by Article 22 of the Family Code were not filled up. While the contracting parties and their
witnesses signed their marriage contracts, Judge Palaypayon did not affix his signature in the marriage contracts, except that
of Abellano and Edralin when Judge Palaypayon signed their marriage certificate as he claims that he solemnized this
marriage under Article 34 of the Family Code of the Philippines. In said marriages the contracting parties were not furnished
a copy of their marriage contract and the Local Civil Registrar was not sent either a copy of the marriage certificate as
required by Article 23 of the Family Code.
The marriage of Bocaya and Besmonte is shown to have been solemnized by Judge Palaypayon without a marriage license.
The testimonies of Bocay himself and Pompeo Ariola, one of the witnesses of the marriage of Bocaya and Besmonte, and
the photographs taken when Judge Palaypayon solemnized their marriage (Exhs. K-3 to K-9) sufficiently show that Judge
Palaypayon really solemnized their marriage. Bocaya declared that they were advised by Judge Palaypayon to return after
ten (10) days after their marriage was solemnized and bring with them their marriage license. In the meantime, they already
started living together as husband and wife believing that the formal requisites of marriage were complied with.
Judge Palaypayon denied that he solemnized the marriage of Bocaya and Besmonte because the parties allegedly did not
have a marriage license. He declared that in fact he did not sign the marriage certificate, there was no date stated on it and
both the parties and the Local Civil Registrar did not have a copy of the marriage certificate.
With respect to the photographs which show that he solemnized the marriage of Bocaya and Besmonte, Judge Palaypayon
explains that they merely show as if he was solemnizing the marriage. It was actually a simulated solemnization of marriage
and not a real one. This happened because of the pleading of the mother of one of the contracting parties that he consent to
be photographed to show that as if he was solemnizing the marriage as he was told that the food for the wedding reception
was already prepared, visitors were already invited and the place of the parties where the reception would be held was more
than twenty (20) kilometers away from the poblacion of Tinambac.
The denial made by Judge Palaypayon is difficult to believe. The fact alone that he did not sign the marriage certificate or
contract, the same did not bear a date and the parties and the Local Civil Registrar were not furnished a copy of the marriage
certificate, do not by themselves show that he did not solemnize the marriage. His uncorroborated testimony cannot prevail
over the testimony of Bocaya and Ariola who also declared, among others, that Bocaya and his bride were advised by Judge
Palaypayon to return after ten (10) days with their marriage license and whose credibility had not been impeached.
The pictures taken also from the start of the wedding ceremony up to the signing of the marriage certificate in front of Judge
Palaypayon and on his table (Exhs. K-3, K-3-a, K-3-b, K-3-c, K-4, K-4-a, K-4-b, K-4-c,
K-4-d, K-5, K-5-a, K-5-b, K-6, K-7, K-8, K-8-a and K-9), cannot possibly be just to show a simulated solemnization of
marriage. One or two pictures may convince a person of the explanation of Judge Palaypayon, but not all those pictures.
Besides, as a judge it is very difficult to believe that Judge Palaypayon would allows himself to be photographed as if he
was solemnizing a marriage on a mere pleading of a person whom he did not even know for the alleged reasons given. It
would be highly improper and unbecoming of him to allow himself to be used as an instrument of deceit by making it
appear that Bocaya and Besmonte were married by him when in truth and in fact he did not solemnize their marriage.
With respect to the marriage of Abellano and Edralin (Exh. B), Judge Palaypayon admitted that he solemnized their
marriage, but he claims that it was under Article 34 of the Family Code, so a marriage license was not required. The
contracting parties here executed a joint affidavit that they have been living together as husband and wife for almost six (6)
years already (Exh. 12; Exh. AA).
In their marriage contract which did not bear any date either when it was solemnized, it was stated that Abellano was only
eighteen (18) years, two (2) months and seven (7) days old. If he and Edralin had been living together as husband and wife
for almost six (6) years already before they got married as they stated in their joint affidavit, Abellano must ha(ve) been less
than thirteen (13) years old when he started living with Edralin as his wife and this is hard to believe. Judge Palaypayon
should ha(ve) been aware of this when he solemnized their marriage as it was his duty to ascertain the qualification of the
contracting parties who might ha(ve) executed a false joint affidavit in order to have an instant marriage by avoiding the
marriage license requirement.
On May 23, 1992, however, after this case was already filed, Judge Palaypayon married again Abellano and Edralin, this
time with a marriage license (Exh. BB). The explanation given by Judge Palaypayon why he solemnized the marriage of the
same couple for the second time is that he did not consider the first marriage he solemnized under Article 34 of the Family
Code as (a) marriage at all because complainant Ramon Sambo did not follow his instruction that the date should be placed
in the marriage certificate to show when he solemnized the marriage and that the contracting parties were not furnished a
copy of their marriage certificate.
This act of Judge Palaypayon of solemnizing the marriage of Abellano and Edralin for the second time with a marriage
license already only gave rise to the suspicion that the first time he solemnized the marriage it was only made to appear that
it was solemnized under exceptional character as there was not marriage license and Judge Palaypayon had already signed
the marriage certificate. If it was true that he solemnized the first marriage under exceptional character where a marriage
license was not required, why did he already require the parties to have a marriage license when he solemnized their
marriage for the second time?
The explanation of Judge Palaypayon that the first marriage of Abellano and Edralin was not a marriage at all as the
marriage certificate did not state the date when the marriage was solemnized and that the contracting parties were not
furnished a copy of their marriage certificate, is not well taken as they are not any of those grounds under Article(s) 35, 36,
37 and 38 of the Family Code which declare a marriage void from the beginning. Even if no one, however, received a copy
of the marriage certificate, the marriage is still valid (Jones vs. H(o)rtiguela, 64 Phil. 179). Judge Palaypayon cannot just
absolve himself from responsibility by blaming his personnel. They are not the guardian(s) of his official function and under
Article 23 of the Family Code it is his duty to furnish the contracting parties (a) copy of their marriage contract.
With respect to the marriage of Francisco Selpo and Julieta Carrido (Exh. C), and Arsenio Sabater and Margarita Nacario
(Exh. G), Selpo and Carrido and Sabater and Nacarcio executed joint affidavits that Judge Palaypayon did not solemnize
their marriage (Exh. 13-A and Exh. 1). Both Carrido and Nacario testified for the respondents that actually Judge
Palaypayon did not solemnize their marriage as they did not have a marriage license. On cross-examination, however, both
admitted that they did not know who prepared their affidavits. They were just told, Carrido by a certain Charito Palaypayon,
and Nacario by a certain Kagawad Encinas, to just go to the Municipal building and sign their joint affidavits there which
were already prepared before the Municipal Mayor of Tinambac, Camarines Sur.
With respect to the marriage of Renato Gamay and Maricris Belga (Exh. f), their marriage contract was signed by them and
by their two (2) witnesses, Atty. Elmer Brioso and respondent Baroy (Exhs. F-1 and F-2). Like the other aforementioned
marriages, the solemnization fee was also paid as shown by a receipt dated June 7, 1992 and signed by respondent Baroy
(Exh. F-4).
Judge Palaypayon also denied having solemnized the marriage of Gamay and Belga allegedly because there was no
marriage license. On her part, respondent Baroy at first denied that the marriage was solemnized. When she was asked,
however, why did she sign the marriage contract as a witness she answered that she thought the marriage was already
solemnized (TSN, p. 14; 10-28-93).
Respondent Baroy was, and is, the clerk of court of Judge Palaypayon. She signed the marriage contract of Gamay and
Belga as one of the two principal sponsors. Yet, she wanted to give the impression that she did not even know that the
marriage was solemnized by Judge Palaypayon. This is found very difficult to believe.
Judge Palaypayon made the same denial of having solemnized also the marriage of Terrobias and Gaor (Exh. D). The
contracting parties and their witnesses also signed the marriage contract and paid the solemnization fee, but Judge
Palaypayon allegedly did not solemnize their marriage due to lack of marriage license. Judge Palaypayon submitted the
affidavit of William Medina, Vice-Mayor of Tinambac, to corroborate his testimony (Exh. 14). Medina, however, did not
testify in this case and so his affidavit has no probative value.
Judge Palaypayon testified that his procedure and practice have been that before the contracting parties and their witnesses
enter his chamber in order to get married, he already required complainant Ramon Sambo to whom he assigned the task of
preparing the marriage contract, to already let the parties and their witnesses sign their marriage contracts, as what happened
to Gamay and Belga, and Terrobias and Gaor, among others. His purpose was to save his precious time as he has been
solemnizing marriages at the rate of three (3) to four (4) times everyday (TSN, p. 12;2-1-94).
This alleged practice and procedure, if true, is highly improper and irregular, if not illegal, because the contracting parties
are supposed to be first asked by the solemnizing officer and declare that they take each other as husband and wife before
the solemnizing officer in the presence of at least two (2) witnesses before they are supposed to sign their marriage contracts
(Art. 6, Family Code).
The uncorroborated testimony, however, of Judge Palaypayon as to his alleged practice and procedure before solemnizing a
marriage, is not true as shown by the picture taken during the wedding of Bocaya and Besmonte (Exhs. K-3 to K-9) and by
the testimony of respondent Baroy herself who declared that the practice of Judge Palaypayon ha(s) been to let the
contracting parties and their witnesses sign the marriage contract only after Judge Palaypayon has solemnized their marriage
(TSN, p. 53;
10-28-93).
Judge Palaypayon did not present any evidence to show also that he was really solemnizing three (3) to four (4) marriages
everyday. On the contrary his monthly report of cases for July, 1992 shows that his court had only twenty-seven (27)
pending cases and he solemnized only seven (7) marriages for the whole month (Exh. E). His monthly report of cases for
September, 1992 shows also that he solemnized only four (4) marriages during the whole month (Exh. 7).
In this first charge of having illegally solemnized marriages, respondent Judge Palaypayon has presented and marked in
evidence several marriage contracts of other persons, affidavits of persons and certification issued by the Local Civil
Registrar (Exhs. 12-B to 12-H). These persons who executed affidavits, however, did not testify in this case. Besides, the
marriage contracts and certification mentioned are immaterial as Judge Palaypayon is not charged of having solemnized
these marriages illegally also. He is not charged that the marriages he solemnized were all illegal.
The second charge against herein respondents, that of having falsified the monthly report of cases submitted to the Supreme
Court and not stating in the monthly report the actual number of documents notarized and issuing the corresponding receipts
of the notarial fees, have been sufficiently proven by the complainants insofar as the monthly report of cases for July and
September, 1992 are concerned.
The monthly report of cases of the MTC of Tinambac, Camarines Sur for July, 1992 both signed by the respondents, show
that for said month there were six (6) documents notarized by Judge Palaypayon in his capacity as Ex-Officio Notary Public
(Exhs. H to H-1-b). The notarial register of the MTC of Tinambac, Camarines Sur, however, shows that there were actually
one hundred thirteen (113) documents notarized by Judge Palaypayon for the said month (Exhs. Q to Q-45).
Judge Palaypayon claims that there was no falsification of the monthly report of cases for July, 1992 because there were
only six (6) notarized documents that were paid (for) as shown by official receipts. He did not, however, present evidence of
the alleged official receipts showing that the notarial fee for the six (6) documetns were paid. Besides, the monthly report of
cases with respect to the number of documents notarized should not be based on how many notarized documents were paid
of the notarial fees, but the number of documents placed or recorded in the notarial register.
Judge Palaypayon admitted that he was not personally verifying and checking anymore the correctness of the monthly
reports because he relies on his co-respondent who is the Clerk of Court and whom he has assumed to have checked and
verified the records. He merely signs the monthly report when it is already signed by respondent Baroy.
The explanation of Judge Palaypayon is not well taken because he is required to have close supervision in the preparation of
the monthly report of cases of which he certifies as to their correctness. As a judge he is personally responsible for the
proper discharge of his functions (The Phil. Trial Lawyer's Asso. Inc. vs. Agana, Sr., 102 SCRA 517). In Nidera vs. Lazaro,
174 SCRA 581, it was held that "A judge cannot take refuge behind the inefficiency or mismanagement of his court
personnel."
On the part of respondent Baroy, she puts the blame of the falsification of the monthly report of cases on complainant
Sambo whom she allegedly assigned to prepare not only the monthly report of cases, but the preparation and custody of
marriage contracts, notarized documents and the notarial register. By her own admission she has assigned to complainant
Sambo duties she was supposed to perform, yet according to her she never bother(ed) to check the notarial register of the
court to find out the number of documents notarized in a month (TSN, p. 30; 11-23-93).
Assuming that respondent Baroy assigned the preparation of the monthly report of cases to Sambo, which was denied by the
latter as he claims that he only typed the monthly report based on the data given to him by her, still it is her duty to verify
and check whether the report is correct.
The explanation of respondent Baroy that Sambo was the one in custody of marriage contracts, notarized documents and
notarial register, among other things, is not acceptable not only because as clerk of court she was supposed to be in custody,
control and supervision of all court records including documents and other properties of the court (p. 32, Manual for Clerks
of Court), but she herself admitted that from January, 1992 she was already in full control of all the records of the court
including receipts (TSN, p. 11; 11-23-93).
The evidence adduced in this cases in connection with the charge of falsification, however, also shows that respondent
Baroy did not account for what happened to the notarial fees received for those documents notarized during the month of
July and September, 1992. The evidence adduced in this case also sufficiently show that she received cash bond deposits
and she did not deposit them to a bank or to the Municipal Treasurer; and that she only issued temporary receipts for said
cash bond deposits.
For July, 1992 there were only six (6) documents reported to have been notarized by Judge Palaypayon although the
documents notarized for said month were actually one hundred thirteen (113) as recorded in the notarial register. For
September, 1992, there were only five (5) documents reported as notarized for that month, though the notarial register
show(s) that there were fifty-six (56) documents actually notarized. The fee for each document notarized as appearing in the
notarial register was P18.50. Respondent Baroy and Sambo declared that what was actually being charged was P20.00.
Respondent Baroy declared that P18.50 went to the Supreme Court and P1.50 was being turned over to the Municipal
Treasurer.
Baroy, however, did not present any evidence to show that she really sent to the Supreme Court the notarial fees of P18.50
for each document notarized and to the Municipal Treasurer the additional notarial fee of P1.50. This should be fully
accounted for considering that Baroy herself declared that some notarial fees were allowed by her at her own discretion to
be paid later. Similarly, the solemnization fees have not been accounted for by Baroy considering that she admitted that
even (i)n those instances where the marriages were not solemnized due to lack of marriage license the solemnization fees
were not returned anymore, unless the contracting parties made a demand for their return. Judge Palaypayon declared that he
did not know of any instance when solemnization fee was returned when the marriage was not solemnized due to lack of
marriage license.
Respondent Baroy also claims that Ramon Sambo did not turn over to her some of the notarial fees. This is difficult to
believe. It was not only because Sambo vehemently denied it, but the minutes of the conference of the personnel of the
MTC of Tinambac dated January 20, 1992 shows that on that date Baroy informed the personnel of the court that she was
taking over the functions she assigned to Sambo, particularly the collection of legal fees (Exh. 7). The notarial fees she
claims that Sambo did not turn over to her were for those documents notarized (i)n July and September, 1992 already.
Besides there never was any demand she made for Sambo to turn over some notarial fees supposedly in his possession.
Neither was there any memorandum she issued on this matter, in spite of the fact that she has been holding meetings and
issuing memoranda to the personnel of the court (Exhs. V, W, FF, FF-1, FF-2, FF-3; Exhs. 4-A (supplement(s), 5-8, 6-S, 7-S
and 8-S).
It is admitted by respondent Baroy that on October 29, 1991 a cash bond deposit of a certain Dacara in the amount of One
Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos was turned over to her after she assumed office and for this cash bond she issued only a
temporary receipt (Exh. Y). She did not deposit this cash bond in any bank or to the Municipal Treasurer. She just kept it in
her own cash box on the alleged ground that the parties in that case where the cash bond was deposited informed her that
they would settle the case amicably.
Respondent Baroy declared that she finally deposited the aforementioned cash bond of One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos
with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in February, 1993, after this administrative case was already filed (TSN, pp.
27-28; 12-22-93). The Pass Book, however, shows that actually Baroy opened an account with the LBP, Naga Branch, only
on March 26, 1993 when she deposited an amount of Two Thousand (P2,000.00) Pesos (Exhs. 8 to 8-1-a). She claims that
One Thousand (P1,000.000) Pesos of the initial deposit was the cash bond of Dacara. If it were true, it was only after
keeping to herself the cash bond of One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos for around one year and five months when she finally
deposited it because of the filing of this case.
On April 29, 1993, or only one month and two days after she finally deposited the One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos cash
bond of Dacara, she withdrew it from the bank without any authority or order from the court. It was only on July 23, 1993,
or after almost three (3) months after she withdrew it, when she redeposited said cash bond (TSN, p. 6; 1-4-94).
The evidence presented in this case also show that on February 28, 1993 respondent Baroy received also a cash bond of
Three Thousand (P3,000.00) Pesos from a certain Alfredo Seprones in Crim. Case No. 5180. For this cash bond deposit,
respondent Baroy issued only an annumbered temporary receipt (Exh. X and X-1). Again Baroy just kept this Three
Thousand (P3,000.00) Pesos cash bond to herself. She did not deposit it either (in) a bank or (with) the Municipal Treasurer.
Her explanation was that the parties in Crim. Case No. 5180 informed her that they would settle the case amicably. It was on
April 26, 1993, or almost two months later when Judge Palaypayon issued an order for the release of said cash bond (Exh.
7).
Respondent Baroy also admitted that since she assumed office on October 21, 1991 she used to issue temporary receipt only
for cash bond deposits and other payments and collections she received. She further admitted that some of these temporary
receipts she issued she failed to place the number of the receipts such as that receipt marked Exhibit X (TSN, p. 35; 11-23-
93). Baroy claims that she did not know that she had to use the official receipts of the Supreme Court. It was only from
February, 1993, after this case was already filed, when she only started issuing official receipts.
The next charge against the respondents is that in order to be appointed Clerk of Court, Baroy gave Judge Palaypayon an air
conditioner as a gift. The evidence adduced with respect to this charge, show that on August 24, 1991 Baroy bought an air
conditioner for the sum of Seventeen Thousand Six Hundred (P17,600.00) Pesos (Exhs. I and I-1). The same was paid partly
in cash and in check (Exhs. I-2 and I-3). When the air conditioner was brought to court in order to be installed in the
chamber of Judge Palaypayon, it was still placed in the same box when it was bought and was not used yet.
The respondents claim that Baroy sold it to Judge Palaypayon for Twenty Thousand (P20,00.00) Pesos on installment basis
with a down payment of Five Thousand (P5,000.00) Pesos and as proof thereof the respondents presented a typewritten
receipt dated May 29, 1993 (Exh. 22). The receipt was signed by both respondents and by the Municipal Mayor of
Tinambac, Camarines Sur and another person as witness.
The alleged sale between respondents is not beyond suspicion. It was bought by Baroy at a time when she was applying for
the vacant position of Clerk of Court (to) which she was eventually appointed in October, 1991. From the time she bought
the air conditioner on August 24, 1991 until it was installed in the office of Judge Palaypayon it was not used yet. The sale
to Judge Palaypayon was only evidenced by a mere typewritten receipt dated May 29, 1992 when this case was already
filed. The receipt could have been easily prepared. The Municipal Mayor of Tinambac who signed in the receipt as a witness
did not testify in this case. The sale is between the Clerk of Court and the Judge of the same court. All these circumstances
give rise to suspicion of at least impropriety. Judges should avoid such action as would subject (them) to suspicion and
(their) conduct should be free from the appearance of impropriety (Jaagueta vs. Boncasos, 60 SCRA 27).
With respect to the charge that Judge Palaypayon received a cash bond deposit of One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos from
Januaria Dacara without issuing a receipt, Dacara executed an affidavit regarding this charge that Judge Palaypayon did not
give her a receipt for the P1,000.00 cash bond she deposited (Exh. N). Her affidavit, however, has no probative value as she
did not show that this cash bond of P1,000.00 found its way into the hands of respondent Baroy who issued only a
temporary receipt for it and this has been discussed earlier.
Another charge against Judge Palaypayon is the getting of detention prisoners to work in his house and one of them escaped
while in his custody and was never found again. To hide this fact, the case against said accused was ordered archived by
Judge Palaypayon. The evidence adduced with respect to this particular charge, show that in Crim. Case No. 5647 entitled
People vs. Stephen Kalaw, Alex Alano and Allan Adupe, accused Alex Alano and Allan Adupe were arrested on April 12,
1991 and placed in the municipal jail of Tinambac, Camarines Sur (Exhs. 0, 0-1, 0-2 and 0-3; Exh. 25). The evidence
presented that Alex Alano was taken by Judge Palaypayon from the municipal jail where said accused was confined and that
he escaped while in custody of Judge Palaypayon is solely testimonial, particularly that of David Ortiz, a former utility
worker of the MTC of Tinambac.
Herein investigator finds said evidence not sufficient. The complainants should have presented records from the police of
Tinambac to show that Judge Palaypayon took out from the municipal jail Alex Alano where he was under detention and
said accused escaped while in the custody of Judge Palaypayon.
The order, however, of Judge Palaypayon dated April 6, 1992 in Crim. Case No. 5047 archiving said case appears to be
without basis. The order states: "this case was filed on April 12, 1991 and the records show that the warrant of arrest (was)
issued against the accused, but up to this moment there is no return of service for the warrant of arrest issued against said
accused" (Exh. 0-4). The records of said case, however, show that in fact there was a return of the service of the warrant of
arrest dated April 12, 1991 showing that Alano and Adupe were arrested (Exh. 0-3).
Judge Palaypayon explained that his order dated April 6, 1992 archiving Crim. Case No. 5047 referred only to one of the
accused who remained at large. The explanation cannot be accepted because the two other accused, Alano and Adupe, were
arrested. Judge Palaypayon should have issued an order for the arrest of Adupe who allegedly jumped bail, but Alano was
supposed to be confined in the municipal jail if his claim is true that he did not take custody of Alano.
The explanation also of Judge Palaypayon why he ordered the case archived was because he heard from the police that
Alano escaped. This explanation is not acceptable either. He should ha(ve) set the case and if the police failed to bring to
court Alano, the former should have been required to explain in writing why Alano was not brought to court. If the
explanation was that Alano escaped from jail, he should have issued an order for his arrest. It is only later on when he could
not be arrested when the case should have been ordered archived. The order archiving this case for the reason that he only
heard that Alano escaped is another circumstance which gave rise to a suspicion that Alano might have really escaped while
in his custody only that the complainants could not present records or other documentary evidence to prove the same.
The last charge against the respondents is that they collected filing fees on collection cases filed by the Rural Bank of
Tinambac, Camarines Sur which was supposed to be exempted in paying filing fees under existing laws and that the filing
fees received was deposited by respondent Baroy in her personal account in the bank. The evidence presented show that on
February 4, 1992 the Rural Bank of Tinambac filed ten (10) civil cases for collection against farmers and it paid the total
amount of Four Hundred (P400.00) Pesos representing filing fees. The complainants cited Section 14 of Republic Act 720,
as amended, which exempts Rural Banks (from) the payment of filing fees on collection of sums of money cases filed
against farmers on loans they obtained.
Judge Palaypayon, however, had nothing to do with the payment of the filing fees of the Rural Bank of Tinambac as it was
respondent Baroy who received them and besides, on February 4, 1992, he was on sick leave. On her part Baroy claims that
the bank paid voluntarily the filing fees. The records, however, shows that respondent Baroy sent a letter to the manager of
the bank dated January 28, 1992 to the effect that if the bank would not pay she would submit all Rural Bank cases for
dismissal (Annex 6, comment by respondent Baroy).
Respondent Baroy should have checked whether the Rural Bank of Tinambac was really exempt from the payment of filing
fees pursuant to Republic Act 720, as amended, instead of threatening the bank to have its cases be submitted to the court in
order to have them dismissed. Here the payment of the filing fees was made on February 4, 1992, but the Four Hundred
(P400.00) Pesos was only turned over to the Municipal Treasurer on March 12, 1992. Here, there is an undue delay again in
complying with her obligation as accountable officer.
In view of the foregoing findings that the evidence presented by the complainants sufficiently show that respondent Judge
Lucio P. Palaypayon, Jr. had solemnized marriages, particularly that of Sammy Bocaya and Gina Besmonte, without a
marriage license, and that it having been shown that he did not comply with his duty in closely supervising his clerk of court
in the preparation of the monthly report of cases being submitted to the Supreme Court, particularly for the months of July
and September, 1992 where it has been proven that the reports for said two (2) months were falsified with respect to the
number of documents notarized, it is respectfully recommended that he be imposed a fine of TEN THOUSAND
(P10,000.00) PESOS with a warning that the same or similar offenses will be more severely dealt with.
The fact that Judge Palaypayon did not sign the marriage contracts or certificates of those marriages he solemnized without
a marriage license, there were no dates placed in the marriage contracts to show when they were solemnized, the contracting
parties were not furnished their marriage contracts and the Local Civil Registrar was not being sent any copy of the marriage
contract, will not absolve him from liability. By solemnizing alone a marriage without a marriage license he as the
solemnizing officer is the one responsible for the irregularity in not complying (with) the formal requ(i)sites of marriage and
under Article 4(3) of the Family Code of the Philippines, he shall be civilly, criminally and administratively liable.
Judge Palaypayon is likewise liable for his negligence or failure to comply with his duty of closely supervising his clerk of
court in the performance of the latter's duties and functions, particularly the preparation of the monthly report of cases
(Bendesula vs. Laya, 58 SCRA 16). His explanation that he only signed the monthly report of cases only when his clerk of
court already signed the same, cannot be accepted. It is his duty to closely supervise her, to check and verify the records if
the monthly reports prepared by his clerk of court do not contain false statements. It was held that "A judge cannot take
refuge behind the inefficiency or incompetence of court personnel (Nidua vs. Lazaro, 174 SCRA 158).
In view also of the foregoing finding that respondent Nelia Esmeralda-Baroy, the clerk of court of the Municipal Trial Court
of Tinambac, Camarines Sur, has been found to have falsified the monthly report of cases for the months of July and
September, 1992 with respect to the number of documents notarized, for having failed to account (for) the notarial fees she
received for said two (2) months period; for having failed to account (for) the solemnization fees of those marriages
allegedly not solemnized, but the solemnization fees were not returned; for unauthorized issuance of temporary receipts,
some of which were issued unnumbered; for receiving the cash bond of Dacara on October 29, 1991 in the amount of One
Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos for which she issued only a temporary receipt (Exh. Y) and for depositing it with the Land
Bank of the Philippines only on March 26, 1993, or after one year and five months in her possession and after this case was
already filed; for withdrawing said cash bond of One Thousand (P1,000.00) Pesos on April 29, 1993 without any court order
or authority and redepositing it only on July 23, 1993; for receiving a cash bond of Three Thousand (P3,000.00) Pesos from
Alfredo Seprones in Crim. Case No. 5180, MTC, Tinambac, Camarines Sur, for which she issued only an unnumbered
temporary receipt (Exhs. X and X-1) and for not depositing it with a bank or with the Municipal Treasurer until it was
ordered released; and for requiring the Rural Bank of Tinambac, Camarines Sur to pay filing fees on February 4, 1992 for
collection cases filed against farmers in the amount of Four Hundred (P400.00) Pesos, but turning over said amount to the
Municipal Treasurer only on March 12, 1992, it is respectfully recommended that said respondent clerk of court Nelia
Esmeralda-Baroy be dismissed from the service.
It is provided that "Withdrawal of court deposits shall be by the clerk of court who shall issue official receipt to the
provincial, city or municipal treasurer for the amount withdrawn. Court deposits cannot be withdrawn except by order of the
court, . . . ." (Revised Manual of Instructions for Treasurers, Sec. 183, 184 and 626; p. 127, Manual for Clerks of Court). A
circular also provides that the Clerks of Court shall immediately issue an official receipt upon receipt of deposits from party
litigants and thereafter deposit intact the collection with the municipal, city or provincial treasurer and their deposits, can
only be withdrawn upon proper receipt and order of the Court (DOJ Circular No. 52, 26 April 1968; p. 136, Manual for
Clerks of Court). Supreme Court Memorandum Circular No. 5, 25 November 1982, also provides that "all collections of
funds of fiduciary character including rental deposits, shall be deposited immediately by the clerk of court concerned upon
receipt thereof with City, Municipal or Provincial Treasurer where his court is located" and that "no withdrawal of any of
such deposits shall be made except upon lawful order of the court exercising jurisdiction over the subject matter.
Respondent Baroy had either failed to comply with the foregoing circulars, or deliberately disregarded, or even intentionally
violated them. By her conduct, she demonstrated her callous unconcern for the obligations and responsibility of her duties
and functions as a clerk of court and accountable officer. The gross neglect of her duties shown by her constitute(s) a serious
misconduct which warrant(s) her removal from office. In the case of Belen P. Ferriola vs. Norma Hiam, Clerk of Court,
MTCC, Branch I, Batangas City; A.M. No. P-90-414; August 9, 1993, it was held that "The clerk of court is not authorized
to keep funds in his/her custody; monies received by him/her shall be deposited immediately upon receipt thereof with the
City, Municipal or Provincial Treasurer. Supreme Court Circular Nos. 5 dated November 25, 1982 and 5-A dated December
3, 1982. Respondent Hiam's failure to remit the cash bail bonds and fine she collected constitutes serious misconduct and
her misappropriation of said funds constitutes dishonesty. "Respondent Norma Hiam was found guilty of dishonesty and
serious misconduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and (the Court) ordered her immediate dismissal (from) the
service.
xxx xxx xxx
We here emphasize once again our adjuration that the clerk, should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of
responsibility. His conduct, at all times, must not only be characterized by propriety and decorum but, above all else, must
be beyond suspicion. Every employee should be an example of integrity, uprightness and honesty. 5 Integrity in a judicial
office is more than a virtue, it is a necessity. 6 It applies, without qualification as to rank or position, from the judge to the
least of its personnel, they being standard-bearers of the exacting norms of ethics and morality imposed upon a Court of
justice.
On the charge regarding illegal marriages the Family Code pertinently provides that the formal requisites of marriage are,
inter alia, a valid marriage license except in the cases provided for therein. 7 Complementarily, it declares that the absence
of any of the essential or formal requisites shall generally render the marriage void ab initio and that, while an irregularity in
the formal requisites shall not affect the validity of the marriage, the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be
civilly, criminally and administratively liable. 8
The civil aspect is addressed to the contracting parties and those affected by the illegal marriages, and what we are
providing for herein pertains to the administrative liability of respondents, all without prejudice to their criminal
responsibility. The Revised Penal Code provides that "(p)riests or ministers of any religious denomination or sect, or civil
authorities who shall perform or authorize any illegal marriage ceremony shall be punished in accordance with the
provisions of the Marriage Law." 9 This is of course, within the province of the prosecutorial agencies of the Government.
The recommendation with respect to the administrative sanction to be imposed on respondent judge should, therefore, be
modified. For one, with respect to the charge of illegal solemnization of marriages, it does appear that he had not taken to
heart, but actually trifled with, the law's concern for the institution of marriage and the legal effects flowing from civil
status. This, and his undeniable participation in the other offenses charged as hereinbefore narrated in detail, approximate
such serious degree of misconduct and of gross negligence in the performance of judicial duties as to ineludibly require a
higher penalty.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby imposes a FINE of P20,000.00 on respondent Judge Lucio P. Palaypayon. Jr., with a stern
warning that any repetition of the same or similar offenses in the future will definitely be severely dealt with. Respondent
Nelia Esmeralda-Baroy is hereby DISMISSED from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and with prejudice
to employment in any branch, agency or instrumentality of the Government, including government-owned or controlled
corporations.
Let copies of this decision be spread on their records and furnished to the Office of the Ombudsman for appropriate
action.SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 167684 July 31, 2006


JAIME O.SEVILLA vs. CARMELITA N. CARDENAS, respondent.
This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks the reversal of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
74416 dated 20 December 2004 which set aside the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, in Civil
Case No. 94-1285 dated 25 January 2002.
In a Complaint3 dated 28 March 1994 filed by Jaime O. Sevilla before the RTC, he claimed that on 19 May 1969, through
machinations, duress and intimidation employed upon him by Carmelita N. Cardenas and the latter's father, retired Colonel
Jose Cardenas of the Armed forces of the Philippines, he and Carmelita went to the City Hall of Manila and they were
introduced to a certain Reverend Cirilo D. Gonzales, a supposed Minister of the Gospel. On the said date, the father of
Carmelita caused him and Carmelita to sign a marriage contract before the said Minister of the Gospel. According to Jaime,
he never applied for a marriage license for his supposed marriage to Carmelita and never did they obtain any marriage
license from any Civil Registry, consequently, no marriage license was presented to the solemnizing officer.
For her part, Carmelita refuted these allegations of Jaime, and claims that she and Jaime were married civilly on 19 May
1969,4 and in a church ceremony thereafter on 31 May 19695 at the Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Quezon City. Both
marriages were registered with the local civil registry of Manila and the National Statistics Office. He is estopped from
invoking the lack of marriage license after having been married to her for 25 years.
The trial court made the following findings:
In support of his complaint, plaintiff [Jaime] testified that on May 19, 1969, he and defendant [Carmelita] appeared before a
certain Rev. Cirilo D. Gonzales, a Minister of the Gospel, at the city hall in Manila where they executed a Marriage Contract
(Exh. "A") in civil rites. A certain Godofredo Occena who, plaintiff alleged, was an aide of defendant's father accompanied
them, and who, together with another person, stood as witness to the civil wedding. That although marriage license no.
2770792 allegedly issued in San Juan, Rizal on May 19, 1969 was indicated in the marriage contract, the same was fictitious
for he never applied for any marriage license, (Ibid., p. 11). Upon verifications made by him through his lawyer, Atty. Jose
M. Abola, with the Civil Registry of San Juan, a Certification dated March 11, 1994 (Exh. "E") was issued by Rafael D.
Aliscad, Jr., Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, that "no marriage license no. 2770792 was ever issued by said office." On
May 31, 1969, he and defendant were again wed, this time in church rites, before Monsignor Juan Velasco at the Most Holy
Redeemer Parish Church in Brixton Hills, Quezon City, where they executed another marriage contract (Exh. "F") with the
same marriage license no. 2770792 used and indicated. Preparations and expenses for the church wedding and reception
were jointly shared by his and defendant's parents. After the church wedding, he and defendant resided in his house at
Brixton Hills until their first son, Jose Gabriel, was born in March 1970. As his parents continued to support him financially,
he and defendant lived in Spain for some time, for his medical studies. Eventually, their marital relationship turned bad
because it became difficult for him to be married he being a medical student at that time. They started living apart in 1976,
but they underwent family counseling before they eventually separated in 1978. It was during this time when defendant's
second son was born whose paternity plaintiff questioned. Plaintiff obtained a divorce decree against defendant in the
United States in 1981 and later secured a judicial separation of their conjugal partnership in 1983.
Atty. Jose M. Abola, then counsel for the plaintiff, himself manifested that when his service was engaged by plaintiff, and
after the latter narrated to him the circumstances of his marriage, he made inquiries with the Office of Civil Registry of San
Juan where the supposed marriage license was obtained and with the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer Parish where the
religious wedding ceremony was celebrated. His request letters dated March 3, 1994 (Exh. "J"), March 7, 1994 (Exh. "L"),
March 9, 1994 (Exh. "M") and March 11, 1994 (Exh. "K") were all sent to and received by the Civil Registrar of San Juan,
who in reply thereto, issued Certifications dated March 4, 1994 (Exh. "I"), and March 11, 1994 (Exh. "E") and September
20, 1994 (Exh. "C"), that "no marriage license no. 2770792 was ever issued by that office." Upon his inquiry, the Holy
Redeemer Parish Church issued him a certified copy of the marriage contract of plaintiff and defendant (Exh. "F") and a
Certificate of Marriage dated April 11, 1994 (Exh. "G"), wherein it noted that it was a "purely religious ceremony, having
been civilly married on May 19, 1969 at the City Hall, Manila, under Marriage License No. 2770792 issued at San Juan,
Rizal on May 19, 1969."
Perlita Mercader, Registration Officer III of the Local Registry of San Juan, identified the Certificates dated March 4, 1994,
March 11, 1994 and September 20, 1994 issued by Rafael Aliscad, Jr., the Local Civil Registrar, and testified that their
office failed to locate the book wherein marriage license no. 2770792 may have been registered (TSN, 8-6-96, p. 5).
Defendant Carmelita Cardenas testified that she and plaintiff had a steady romantic relationship after they met and were
introduced to each other in October 1968. A model, she was compelled by her family to join the Mutya ng Pilipinas beauty
pageant when plaintiff who was afraid to lose her, asked her to run away with him to Baguio. Because she loved plaintiff,
she turned back on her family and decided to follow plaintiff in Baguio. When they came back to Manila, she and plaintiff
proceeded to the latter's home in Brixton Hills where plaintiff's mother, Mrs. Sevilla, told her not to worry. Her parents were
hostile when they learned of the elopement, but Mrs. Sevilla convinced them that she will take care of everything, and
promised to support plaintiff and defendant. As plaintiff was still fearful he may lose her, he asked her to marry him in civil
rites, without the knowledge of her family, more so her father (TSN, 5-28-98, p. 4) on May 19, 1969, before a minister and
where she was made to sign documents. After the civil wedding, they had lunch and later each went home separately. On
May 31, 1969, they had the church wedding, which the Sevilla family alone prepared and arranged, since defendant's mother
just came from hospital. Her family did not participate in the wedding preparations. Defendant further stated that there was
no sexual consummation during their honeymoon and that it was after two months when they finally had sex. She learned
from Dr. Escudero, plaintiff's physician and one of their wedding sponsors that plaintiff was undergoing psychiatric therapy
since age 12 (TSN, 11-2-98, p. 15) for some traumatic problem compounded by his drug habit. She found out plaintiff has
unusual sexual behavior by his obsession over her knees of which he would take endless pictures of. Moreover, plaintiff
preferred to have sex with her in between the knees which she called "intrafemural sex," while real sex between them was
far and between like 8 months, hence, abnormal. During their marriage, plaintiff exhibited weird sexual behavior which
defendant attributed to plaintiff's drug addiction (TSN, 11-5-98, pp. 5-8). A compulsive liar, plaintiff has a bad temper who
breaks things when he had tantrums. Plaintiff took drugs like amphetamines, benzedrine and the like, "speed" drugs that
kept him from sleep and then would take barbiturates or downers, like "mogadon." Defendant tried very hard to keep
plaintiff away from drugs but failed as it has become a habit to him. They had no fixed home since they often moved and
partly lived in Spain for about four and a half years, and during all those times, her mother-in-law would send some
financial support on and off, while defendant worked as an English teacher. Plaintiff, who was supposed to be studying, did
nothing. Their marriage became unbearable, as plaintiff physically and verbally abused her, and this led to a break up in
their marriage. Later, she learned that plaintiff married one Angela Garcia in 1991 in the United States.
Jose Cardenas, father of defendant, testified that he was not aware of the civil wedding of his daughter with the plaintiff;
that his daughter and grandson came to stay with him after they returned home from Spain and have lived with him and his
wife ever since. His grandsons practically grew up under his care and guidance, and he has supported his daughter's
expenses for medicines and hospital confinements (Exhs. "9" and "10").
Victoria Cardenas Navarro, defendant's sister, testified and corroborated that it was plaintiff's family that attended to all the
preparations and arrangements for the church wedding of her sister with plaintiff, and that she didn't know that the couple
wed in civil rites some time prior to the church wedding. She also stated that she and her parents were still civil with the
plaintiff inspite of the marital differences between plaintiff and defendant.
As adverse witness for the defendant, plaintiff testified that because of irreconcilable differences with defendant and in order
for them to live their own lives, they agreed to divorce each other; that when he applied for and obtained a divorce decree in
the United States on June 14, 1983 (Exh. "13"), it was with the knowledge and consent of defendant who in fact authorized a
certain Atty. Quisumbing to represent her (TSN, 12-7-2000, p. 21). During his adverse testimony, plaintiff identified a
recent certification dated July 25, 2000 (Exh. "EE") issued by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, that the marriage
license no. 2770792, the same marriage license appearing in the marriage contract (Exh. "A"), is inexistent, thus appears to
be fictitious.6
In its Decision dated 25 January 2002, declaring the nullity of the marriage of the parties, the trial court made the following
justifications:
Thus, being one of the essential requisites for the validity of the marriage, the lack or absence of a licenserenders the
marriage void ab initio. It was shown under the various certifications (Exhs. "I", "E", and "C") earlier issued by the office of
the Local Civil Registrar of the Municipality of San Juan, and the more recent one issued on July 25, 2000 (Exh. "EE") that
no marriage license no. 2770792 was ever issued by that office, hence, the marriage license no. 2770792 appearing on the
marriage contracts executed on May 19, 1969 (Exh. "A") and on May 31, 1969 (Exh. "F") was fictitious. Such a certification
enjoys probative value under the rules on evidence, particularly Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, x x x.
xxxx
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby declares the civil marriage between Jaime O. Sevilla and Carmelita N. Cardenas
solemnized by Rev. Cirilo D. Gonzales at the Manila City Hall on May 19, 1969 as well as their contract of marriage
solemnized under religious rites by Rev. Juan B. Velasco at the Holy Redeemer Parish on May 31, 1969, NULL and VOID
for lack of the requisite marriage license. Let the marriage contract of the parties under Registry No. 601 (e-69) of the
registry book of the Local Civil Registry of Manila be cancelled.
Let copies of this Decision be duly recorded in the proper civil and property registries in accordance with Article 52 of the
Family Code. Likewise, let a copy hereof be forwarded the Office of the Solicitor General for its record and information.7
Carmelita filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. In a Decision dated 20 December 2004, the Court of Appeals disagreed
with the trial court and held:
In People v. De Guzman (G.R. No. 106025, February 9, 1994), the Supreme Court explained that: "The presumption of
regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a duty. The
presumption, however, prevails until it is overcome by no less than clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. Thus,
unless the presumption is rebutted, it becomes conclusive."
In this case, We note that a certain Perlita Mercader of the local civil registry of San Juan testified that they "failed to
locate the book wherein marriage license no. 2770792 is registered," for the reason that "the employee handling is
already retired." With said testimony We cannot therefore just presume that the marriage license specified in the parties'
marriage contract was not issued for in the end the failure of the office of the local civil registrar of San Juan to produce a
copy of the marriage license was attributable not to the fact that no such marriage license was issued but rather, because it
"failed to locate the book wherein marriage license no. 2770792 is registered." Simply put, if the pertinent book were
available for scrutiny, there is a strong possibility that it would have contained an entry on marriage license no. 2720792.
xxxx
Indeed, this Court is not prepared to annul the parties' marriage on the basis of a mere perception of plaintiff that his union
with defendant is defective with respect to an essential requisite of a marriage contract, a perception that ultimately was not
substantiated with facts on record.8
Jaime filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated 6 January 2005 which the Court of Appeals denied in a Resolution dated 6
April 2005.
This denial gave rise to the present Petition filed by Jaime.
He raises the following issues for Resolution.
1. Whether or not a valid marriage license was issued in accordance with law to the parties herein prior to the
celebration of the marriages in question;
2. Whether or not the Court of Appeals correctly applied and relied on the presumption of regularity of officials
acts, particularly the issuance of a marriage license, arising solely from the contents of the marriage contracts in
question which show on their face that a marriage license was purportedly issued by the Local Civil Registry of
San Juan, Metro Manila, and
3. Whether or not respondent could validly invoke/rely upon the presumption of validity of a marriage arising from
the admitted "fact of marriage."9
At the core of this controversy is the determination of whether or not the certifications from the Local Civil Registrar of San
Juan stating that no Marriage License No. 2770792 as appearing in the marriage contract of the parties was issued, are
sufficient to declare their marriage as null and void ab initio.
We agree with the Court of Appeals and rule in the negative.
Pertinent provisions of the Civil Code which was the law in force at the time of the marriage of the parties are Articles 53,10
5811 and 80.12
Based on the foregoing provisions, a marriage license is an essential requisite for the validity of marriage. The marriage
between Carmelita and Jaime is of no exception.
At first glance, this case can very well be easily dismissed as one involving a marriage that is null and void on the ground of
absence of a marriage license based on the certifications issued by the Local Civil Registar of San Juan. As ruled by this
Court in the case of Cariño v. Cariño13:
[A]s certified by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record of such marriage license. In
Republic v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that such a certification is adequate to prove the non-issuance of a marriage
license. Absent any circumstance of suspicion, as in the present case, the certification issued by the local civil registrar
enjoys probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all date relative to the issuance of a
marriage license.
Such being the case, the presumed validity of the marriage of petitioner and the deceased has been sufficiently overcome. It
then became the burden of petitioner to prove that their marriage is valid and that they secured the required marriage license.
Although she was declared in default before the trial court, petitioner could have squarely met the issue and explained the
absence of a marriage license in her pleadings before the Court of Appeals and this Court. But petitioner conveniently
avoided the issue and chose to refrain from pursuing an argument that will put her case in jeopardy. Hence, the presumed
validity of their marriage cannot stand.
It is beyond cavil, therefore, that the marriage between petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased, having been solemnized
without the necessary marriage license, and not being one of the marriages exempt from the marriage license requirement, is
undoubtedly void ab initio.
The foregoing Decision giving probative value to the certifications issued by the Local Civil Registrar should be read in line
with the decision in the earlier case of Republic v. Court of Appeals,14 where it was held that:
The above Rule authorized the custodian of 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. (Emphasis supplied.)
Thus, the certification to be issued by the Local Civil Registrar must categorically state that the document does not exist in
his office or the particular entry could not be found in the register despite diligent search. Such certification shall be
sufficient proof of lack or absence of record as stated in Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court:
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.
We shall now proceed to scrutinize whether the certifications by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan in connection with
Marriage License No. 2770792 complied with the foregoing requirements and deserved to be accorded probative value.
The first Certification15 issued by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, was dated 11 March 1994. It reads:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
No Marriage License Number 2770792 were (sic) ever issued by this Office. With regards (sic) to Marriage
License Number 2880792,16 we exert all effort but we cannot find the said number.
Hope and understand our loaded work cannot give you our full force locating the above problem.
San Juan, Metro Manila
March 11, 1994
(SGD)RAFAEL D. ALISCAD, JR.
Local Civil Registrar
The second certification17 was dated 20 September 1994 and provides:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
This is to certify that no marriage license Number 2770792 were ever issued by this Office with regards to
Marriage License Number 2880792, we exert all effort but we cannot find the said number.
Hope and understand our loaded work cannot give you our full force locating the above problem.
San Juan, Metro Manila
September 20, 1994
(SGD)RAFAEL D. ALISCAD, JR.
Local Civil Registrar
The third Certification,18 issued on 25 July 2000, states:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
This is to certify that according to the records of this office, no Marriage License Application was filed and no
Marriage License No. 2770792 allegedly dated May 19, 1969 was issued by this Office to MR. JAIME O.
SEVILLA and MS. CARMELITA CARDENAS-SEVILLA.
This is to further certify that the said application and license do not exist in our Local Civil Registry Index and,
therefore, appear to be fictitious.
This certification is being issued upon the request of the interested party for whatever legal intent it may serve.
San Juan, Metro Manila
July 25, 2000
(SGD)RAFAEL D. ALISCAD, JR.
Local Civil Registrar
Note that the first two certifications bear the statement that "hope and understand our loaded work cannot give you our full
force locating the above problem." It could be easily implied from the said statement that the Office of the Local Civil
Registrar could not exert its best efforts to locate and determine the existence of Marriage License No. 2770792 due to its
"loaded work." Likewise, both certifications failed to state with absolute certainty whether or not such license was issued.
This implication is confirmed in the testimony of the representative from the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan,
Ms. Perlita Mercader, who stated that they cannot locate the logbook due to the fact that the person in charge of the said
logbook had already retired. Further, the testimony of the said person was not presented in evidence. It does not appear on
record that the former custodian of the logbook was deceased or missing, or that his testimony could not be secured. This
belies the claim that all efforts to locate the logbook or prove the material contents therein, had been exerted.
As testified to by Perlita Mercader:
Q Under the subpoena duces tecum, you were required to bring to this Court among other things the register of
application of/or (sic) for marriage licenses received by the Office of the :Local Civil Registrar of San Juan,
Province of Rizal, from January 19, 1969 to May 1969. Did you bring with you those records?
A I brought may 19, 1969, sir.
Q Is that the book requested of you under no. 3 of the request for subpoena?
A Meron pang January. I forgot, January . . .
Q Did you bring that with you?
A No, sir.
Q Why not?
A I cannot locate the book. This is the only book.
Q Will you please state if this is the register of marriage of marriage applications that your office maintains as
required by the manual of the office of the Local Civil Registrar?
COURT
May I see that book and the portion marked by the witness.
xxxx
COURT
Why don't you ask her direct question whether marriage license 2880792 is the number issued by their
office while with respect to license no. 2770792 the office of the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan is very
definite about it it was never issued. Then ask him how about no. 2880792 if the same was ever issued by
their office. Did you ask this 2887092, but you could not find the record? But for the moment you cannot
locate the books? Which is which now, was this issued or not?
A The employee handling it is already retired, sir.19
Given the documentary and testimonial evidence to the effect that utmost efforts were not exerted to locate the logbook
where Marriage License No. 2770792 may have been entered, the presumption of regularity of performance of official
function by the Local Civil Registrar in issuing the certifications, is effectively rebutted.
According to Section 3(m),20 Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, the presumption that official duty has been regularly
performed is among the disputable presumptions.
In one case, it was held:
A disputable presumption has been defined as a species of evidence that may be accepted and acted on where there
is no other evidence to uphold the contention for which it stands, or one which may be overcome by other
evidence. One such disputable/rebuttable presumption is that an official act or duty has been regularly performed. x
x x.21
The presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a
duty.22
The presumption of regularity of performance of official duty is disputable and can be overcome by other evidence as in the
case at bar where the presumption has been effectively defeated by the tenor of the first and second certifications.
Moreover, the absence of the logbook is not conclusive proof of non-issuance of Marriage License No. 2770792. It can also
mean, as we believed true in the case at bar, that the logbook just cannot be found. In the absence of showing of diligent
efforts to search for the said logbook, we cannot easily accept that absence of the same also means non-existence or falsity
of entries therein.
Finally, the rule is settled that every intendment of the law or fact leans toward the validity of the marriage, the
indissolubility of the marriage bonds.23 The courts look upon this presumption with great favor. It is not to be lightly
repelled; on the contrary, the presumption is of great weight.24
The Court is mindful of the policy of the 1987 Constitution to protect and strengthen the family as the basic autonomous
social institution and marriage as the foundation of the family. Thus, any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of
the marriage.25
The parties have comported themselves as husband and wife and lived together for several years producing two offsprings,26
now adults themselves. It took Jaime several years before he filed the petition for declaration of nullity. Admittedly, he
married another individual sometime in 1991.27 We are not ready to reward petitioner 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.28
Our Constitution is committed to the policy of strengthening the family as a basic social institution. Our family law is based
on the policy that marriage is not a mere contract, but a social institution in which the State is vitally interested. The State
can find no stronger anchor than on good, solid and happy families. The break-up of families weakens our social and moral
fabric; hence, their preservation is not the concern of the family members alone.29
"The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is x x x marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil
contract, but it is a new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested. Consequently,
every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are
presumed, in the absence of any counterpresumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact married. The reason is that
such is the common order of society, and if the parties were not what they thus hold themselves out as being, they would be
living in the constant violation of decency and of law. A presumption established by our Code of Civil Procedure is `that a
man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.' Semper
praesumitur pro matrimonio – Always presume marriage."30
This jurisprudential attitude towards marriage is based on the prima facie presumption that a man and a woman deporting
themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.31
By our failure to come to the succor of Jaime, we are not trifling with his emotion or deepest sentiments. As we have said in
Carating-Siayngco v. Siayngco,32 regrettably, there are situations like this one, where neither law nor society can provide the
specific answers to every individual problem.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 20
December 2004 and the Resolution dated 6 April 2005 are AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
RESTITUTO M. ALCANTARA, vs. ROSITA G.R. No. 167746
A. ALCANTARA and HON. COURT OF
APPEALS,

Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by petitioner Restituto Alcantara assailing the Decision
of the Court of Appeals dated 30 September 2004 in CA-G.R. CV No. 66724 denying petitioner’s appeal and affirming the
decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 143, in Civil Case No. 97-1325 dated 14 February 2000,
dismissing his petition for annulment of marriage.

The antecedent facts are:


A petition for annulment of marriage was filed by petitioner against respondent Rosita A. Alcantara alleging that on 8
December 1982 he and respondent, without securing the required marriage license, went to the Manila City Hall for the
purpose of looking for a person who could arrange a marriage for them. They met a person who, for a fee, arranged their
wedding before a certain Rev. Aquilino Navarro, a Minister of the Gospel of the CDCC BR Chapel. They got married on
the same day, 8 December 1982. Petitioner and respondent went through another marriage ceremony at the San Jose de
Manuguit Church in Tondo, Manila, on 26 March 1983. The marriage was likewise celebrated without the parties securing
a marriage license. The alleged marriage license, procured in Carmona, Cavite, appearing on the marriage contract, is a
sham, as neither party was a resident of Carmona, and they never went to Carmona to apply for a license with the local civil
registrar of the said place. On 14 October 1985, respondent gave birth to their child Rose Ann Alcantara. In 1988, they
parted ways and lived separate lives. Petitioner prayed that after due hearing, judgment be issued declaring their marriage
void and ordering the Civil Registrar to cancel the corresponding marriage contract and its entry on file.
Answering petitioner’s petition for annulment of marriage, respondent asserts the validity of their marriage and
maintains that there was a marriage license issued as evidenced by a certification from the Office of the Civil Registry of
Carmona, Cavite. Contrary to petitioner’s representation, respondent gave birth to their first child named Rose Ann
Alcantara on 14 October 1985 and to another daughter named Rachel Ann Alcantara on 27 October 1992. Petitioner has a
mistress with whom he has three children. Petitioner only filed the annulment of their marriage to evade prosecution for
concubinage. Respondent, in fact, has filed a case for concubinage against petitioner before the Metropolitan Trial Court of
Mandaluyong City, Branch 60. Respondent prays that the petition for annulment of marriage be denied for lack of merit.

On 14 February 2000, the RTC of Makati City, Branch 143, rendered its Decision disposing as follows:
The foregoing considered, judgment is rendered as follows:
1. The Petition is dismissed for lack of merit;
2. Petitioner is ordered to pay respondent the sum of twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) per
month as support for their two (2) children on the first five (5) days of each month; and
3. To pay the costs.
As earlier stated, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision dismissing the petitioner’s appeal. His Motion for
Reconsideration was likewise denied in a resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 6 April 2005.

The Court of Appeals held that the marriage license of the parties is presumed to be regularly issued and petitioner
had not presented any evidence to overcome the presumption. Moreover, the parties’ marriage contract being a public
document is a prima facie proof of the questioned marriage under Section 44, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.
In his Petition before this Court, petitioner raises the following issues for resolution:
a. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it ruled that the Petition for
Annulment has no legal and factual basis despite the evidence on record that there was no
marriage license at the precise moment of the solemnization of the marriage.
b. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it gave weight to the Marriage
License No. 7054133 despite the fact that the same was not identified and offered as evidence
during the trial, and was not the Marriage license number appearing on the face of the marriage
contract.
c. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it failed to apply the ruling
laid down by this Honorable Court in the case of Sy vs. Court of Appeals. (G.R. No. 127263, 12
April 2000 [330 SCRA 550]).
d. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed a reversible error when it failed to relax the
observance of procedural rules to protect and promote the substantial rights of the party litigants.
We deny the petition.
Petitioner submits that at the precise time that his marriage with the respondent was celebrated, there was no marriage
license because he and respondent just went to the Manila City Hall and dealt with a “fixer” who arranged everything for
them. The wedding took place at the stairs in Manila City Hall and not in CDCC BR Chapel where Rev. Aquilino Navarro
who solemnized the marriage belongs. He and respondent did not go to Carmona, Cavite, to apply for a marriage license.
Assuming a marriage license from Carmona, Cavite, was issued to them, neither he nor the respondent was a resident of the
place. The certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite, cannot be given weight because the
certification states that “Marriage License number 7054133 was issued in favor of Mr. Restituto Alcantara and Miss Rosita
Almario” but their marriage contract bears the number 7054033 for their marriage license number.
The marriage involved herein having been solemnized on 8 December 1982, or prior to the effectivity of the Family
Code, the applicable law to determine its validity is the Civil Code which was the law in effect at the time of its celebration.
A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage under Article 53 of the Civil Code, the absence of which renders
the marriage void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3) in relation to Article 58 of the same Code.
Article 53 of the Civil Code which was the law applicable at the time of the marriage of the parties states:
Art. 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied with:
(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties;
(2) Their consent, freely given;
(3) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and
(4) A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character.
The requirement and issuance of a marriage license is the State’s demonstration of its involvement and participation
in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the general public is interested.
Petitioner cannot insist on the absence of a marriage license to impugn the validity of his marriage. The cases where
the court considered the absence of a marriage license as a ground for considering the marriage void are clear-cut.

In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, the Local Civil Registrar issued a certification of due search and
inability to find a record or entry to the effect that Marriage License No. 3196182 was issued to the parties. The Court held
that the certification of “due search and inability to find” a record or entry as to the purported marriage license, issued by the
Civil Registrar of Pasig, enjoys probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data
relative to the issuance of a marriage license. Based on said certification, the Court held that there is absence of a marriage
license that would render the marriage void ab initio.
In Cariño v. Cariño, the Court considered the marriage of therein petitioner Susan Nicdao and the deceased Santiago
S. Carino as void ab initio. The records reveal that the marriage contract of petitioner and the deceased bears no marriage
license number and, as certified by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record of such
marriage license. The court held that the certification issued by the local civil registrar is adequate to prove the non-
issuance of the marriage license. Their marriage having been solemnized without the necessary marriage license and not
being one of the marriages exempt from the marriage license requirement, the marriage of the petitioner and the deceased is
undoubtedly void ab initio.
In Sy v. Court of Appeals, the marriage license was issued on 17 September 1974, almost one year after the ceremony
took place on 15 November 1973. The Court held that the ineluctable conclusion is that the marriage was indeed contracted
without a marriage license.
In all these cases, there was clearly an absence of a marriage license which rendered the marriage void.
Clearly, from these cases, it can be deduced that to be considered void on the ground of absence of a marriage license,
the law requires that the absence of such marriage license must be apparent on the marriage contract, or at the very least,
supported by a certification from the local civil registrar that no such marriage license was issued to the parties. In this case,
the marriage contract between the petitioner and respondent reflects a marriage license number. A certification to this effect
was also issued by the local civil registrar of Carmona, Cavite. The certification moreover is precise in that it specifically
identified the parties to whom the marriage license was issued, namely Restituto Alcantara and Rosita Almario, further
validating the fact that a license was in fact issued to the parties herein.
The certification of Municipal Civil Registrar Macrino L. Diaz of Carmona, Cavite, reads:
This is to certify that as per the registry Records of Marriage filed in this office, Marriage License
No. 7054133 was issued in favor of Mr. Restituto Alcantara and Miss Rosita Almario on December 8,
1982.
This Certification is being issued upon the request of Mrs. Rosita A. Alcantara for whatever legal
purpose or intents it may serve.
This certification enjoys the presumption that official duty has been regularly performed and the issuance of the
marriage license was done in the regular conduct of official business. The presumption of regularity of official acts may be
rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a duty. However, the presumption prevails until it is
overcome by no less than clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. Thus, unless the presumption is rebutted, it
becomes conclusive. Every reasonable intendment will be made in support of the presumption and, in case of doubt as to an
officer’s act being lawful or unlawful, construction should be in favor of its lawfulness. Significantly, apart from these,
petitioner, by counsel, admitted that a marriage license was, indeed, issued in Carmona, Cavite.
Petitioner, in a faint attempt to demolish the probative value of the marriage license, claims that neither he nor
respondent is a resident of Carmona, Cavite. Even then, we still hold that there is no sufficient basis to annul petitioner and
respondent’s marriage. Issuance of a marriage license in a city or municipality, not the residence of either of the contracting
parties, and issuance of a marriage license despite the absence of publication or prior to the completion of the 10-day period
for publication are considered mere irregularities that do not affect the validity of the marriage. An irregularity in any of the
formal requisites of marriage does not affect its validity but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity are civilly,
criminally and administratively liable.
Again, petitioner harps on the discrepancy between the marriage license number in the certification of the Municipal
Civil Registrar, which states that the marriage license issued to the parties is No. 7054133, while the marriage contract states
that the marriage license number of the parties is number 7054033. Once more, this argument fails to sway us. It is not
impossible to assume that the same is a mere a typographical error, as a closer scrutiny of the marriage contract reveals the
overlapping of the numbers 0 and 1, such that the marriage license may read either as 7054133 or 7054033. It therefore
does not detract from our conclusion regarding the existence and issuance of said marriage license to the parties.
Under the principle that he who comes to court must come with clean hands, petitioner cannot pretend that he was not
responsible or a party to the marriage celebration which he now insists took place without the requisite marriage license.
Petitioner admitted that the civil marriage took place because he “initiated it.” Petitioner is an educated person. He is a
mechanical engineer by profession. He knowingly and voluntarily went to the Manila City Hall and likewise, knowingly
and voluntarily, went through a marriage ceremony. He cannot benefit from his action and be allowed to extricate himself
from the marriage bond at his mere say-so when the situation is no longer palatable to his taste or suited to his lifestyle. We
cannot countenance such effrontery. His attempt to make a mockery of the institution of marriage betrays his bad faith.
Petitioner and respondent went through a marriage ceremony twice in a span of less than one year utilizing the same
marriage license. There is no claim that he went through the second wedding ceremony in church under duress or with a
gun to his head. Everything was executed without nary a whimper on the part of the petitioner.
In fact, for the second wedding of petitioner and respondent, they presented to the San Jose de Manuguit Church the
marriage contract executed during the previous wedding ceremony before the Manila City Hall. This is confirmed in
petitioner’s testimony as follows—

WITNESS As I remember your honor, they asked us to get the necessary document prior to the
wedding.
COURT What particular document did the church asked you to produce? I am referring to the San
Jose de Manuguit church.
WITNESs I don’t remember your honor.
COURT Were you asked by the church to present a Marriage License?
WITNESS I think they asked us for documents and I said we have already a Marriage Contract and I
don’t know if it is good enough for the marriage and they accepted it your honor.
COURT In other words, you represented to the San Jose de Manuguit church that you have with
you already a Marriage Contract?
WITNESS Yes your honor.
COURT That is why the San Jose de Manuguit church copied the same marriage License in the
Marriage Contract issued which Marriage License is Number 7054033.
WITNESS Yes your honor.
The logical conclusion is that petitioner was amenable and a willing participant to all that took place at that time.
Obviously, the church ceremony was confirmatory of their civil marriage, thereby cleansing whatever irregularity or defect
attended the civil wedding.
Likewise, the issue raised by petitioner -- that they appeared before a “fixer” who arranged everything for them and
who facilitated the ceremony before a certain Rev. Aquilino Navarro, a Minister of the Gospel of the CDCC Br Chapel --
will not strengthen his posture. The authority of the officer or clergyman shown to have performed a marriage ceremony
will be presumed in the absence of any showing to the contrary. Moreover, the solemnizing officer is not duty-bound to
investigate whether or not a marriage license has been duly and regularly issued by the local civil registrar. All the
solemnizing officer needs to know is that the license has been issued by the competent official, and it may be presumed
from the issuance of the license that said official has fulfilled the duty to ascertain whether the contracting parties had
fulfilled the requirements of law.
Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio. The presumption is always in favor of the validity of the marriage. Every
intendment of the law or fact leans toward the validity of the marriage bonds. The Courts look upon this presumption with
great favor. It is not to be lightly repelled; on the contrary, the presumption is of great weight.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The decision of the Court of
Appeals dated 30 September 2004 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 143 of Makati City, dated 14
February 2000, are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-9005 June 20, 1958


ARSENIO DE LORIA and RICARDA DE LORIA vs. FELIPE APELAN FELIX, respondent.

Review of a decision of the Court of Appeals, involving the central issue of the validity of the marriage in articulo mortis
between Matea de la Cruz and Felipe Apelan Felix.
It appears that long before, and during the War of the Pacific, these two persons lived together as wife and husband at
Cabrera Street, Pasay City. They acquired properties but had no children. In the early part of the liberation of Manila and
surrounding territory, Matea be came seriously ill. Knowing her critical condition, two young ladies of legal age dedicated
to the service of God, named Carmen Ordiales and Judith Vizcarra1 visited and persuaded her to go to confession. They
fetched Father Gerardo Bautista, Catholic parish priest of Pasay. The latter, upon learning that the penitent had been living
with Felipe Apelan Felix without benefit of marriage, asked both parties to ratify their union according to the rites of his
Church. Both agreed. Whereupon the priest heard the confession of the bed-ridden old woman, gave her Holy Communion,
administered the Sacrament of Extreme Unction and then solemnized her marriage with Felipe Apelan Felix in articulo
mortis,2 Carmen Ordiales and Judith Vizcarra acting as sponsors or witnesses. It was then January 29 or 30, 1945.
After a few months, Matea recovered from her sickness; but death was not to be denied, and in January 1946, she was
interred in Pasay, the same Fr. Bautista performing the burial ceremonies.
On May 12, 1952, Arsenio de Loria and Ricarda de Loria filed this complaint to compel defendant to an accounting and to
deliver the properties left by the deceased. They are grandchildren of Adriana de la Cruz, sister of Matea, and claim to be
the only surviving forced heirs of the latter. Felipe Apelan Felix resisted the action, setting up his rights as widower. They
obtained favorable judgment in the court of first instance, but on appeal the Court of Appeals reversed and dismissed the
complaint.
Their request for review here was given due course principally to consider the legal question-which they amply discussed in
their petition and printed brief — whether the events which took place in January 1945 constituted, in the eyes of the law, a
valid and binding marriage.
According to the Court of Appeals:
There is no doubt at all in the mind of this Court, that Fr. Gerardo Bautista, solemnized the marriage in articulo
mortis of Defendant Apelan Felix and Matea de la Cruz, on January 29 and 30, 1945, under the circumstances set
forth in the reverend's testimony in court. Fr. Bautista, a respectable old priest of Pasay City then, had no reason to
side one or the other. . . . Notwithstanding this positive evidence on the celebration or performance of the marriage
in question, Plaintiffs-Appellees contend that the same was not in articulo mortis, because Matea de la Cruz was
not then on the point of death. Fr. Bautista clearly testified, however, that her condition at the time was bad; she
was bed-ridden; and according to his observation, she might die at any moment (Exhibit 1), so apprehensive was he
about her condition that he decided in administering to her the sacrament of extreme unction, after hearing her
confession. . . . .The greatest objection of the Appellees and the trial court against the validity of the marriage under
consideration, is the admitted fact that it was not registered.
The applicable legal provisions are contained in the Marriage Law of 1929 (Act No. 3613) as amended by Commonwealth
Act No. 114 (Nov. 1936) specially sections 1, 3, 20 and 21.
There is no question about the officiating priest's authority to solemnize marriage. There is also no question that the parties
had legal capacity to contract marriage, and that both declared before Fr. Bautista and Carmen Ordiales and Judith Vizcarra
that "they took each other as husband and wife."
The appellants' contention of invalidity rests on these propositions:
(a) There was no "marriage contract" signed by the wedded couple the witnesses and the priest, as required by section 3 of
the Marriage Law; and
(b) The priest filed no affidavit, nor recorded the marriage with the local civil registry.
The factual basis of the first proposition — no signing — may seriously be doubted. The Court of Appeals made no finding
thereon. Indeed if anything, its decision impliedly held such marriage contract to have been executed, since it said "the
marriage in articulo mortis was a fact", and the only question at issue was whether "the failure of Fr. Bautista to send copies
of the certificate of marriage in question to the Local Civil Registrar and to register the said marriage in the Record of
Marriages of the Pasay Catholic Church . . . renders the said marriage invalid." And such was the only issue tendered in the
court of first instance. (See p. 14, 34, Record on Appeal.)
However, we may as well face this second issue: Does the failure to sign the "marriage certificate or contract" constitute a
cause for nullity?
Marriage contract is the "instrument in triplicate" mentioned in sec. 3 of the Marriage Law which provides:
Sec. 3. Mutual Consent. — No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required, but the parties with legal
capacity to contract marriage must declare, in the presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and of two
witnesses of legal age, that they take each other as husband and wife. This declaration shall be set forth in an
instrument in triplicate, signed by signature or mark by the contracting parties and said two witnesses and attested
by the person solemnizing the marriage. . . . (Emphasis ours).
In the first place, the Marriage Law itself, in sections 28, 29 and 30 enumerates the causes for annulment of marriage.
Failure to sign the marriage contract is not one of them.
In the second place, bearing in mind that the "essential requisites for marriage are the legal capacity of the contracting
parties and their consent" (section 1), the latter being manifested by the declaration of "the parties" "in the presence of the
person solemnizing the marriage and of two witnesses of legal age that they take each other as husband and wife" — which
in this case actually occurred.3 We think the signing of the marriage contract or certificate was required by the statute simply
for the purpose of evidencing the act.4 No statutory provision or court ruling has been cited making it an essential requisite
— not the formal requirement of evidentiary value, which we believe it is. The fact of marriage is one thing; the proof by
which it may be established is quite another.
Certificate and Record. — Statutes relating to the solemnization of marriage usually provide for the issuance of a
certificate of marriage and for the registration or recording of marriage . . . Generally speaking, the registration or
recording of a marriage is not essential to its validity, the statute being addressed to the officials issuing the license,
certifying the marriage, and making the proper return and registration or recording. (Sec. 27 American
Jurisprudence "Marriage" p. 197-198.)
Formal Requisites. — . . . The general rule, however, is that statutes which direct that a license must be issued and
procured, that only certain persons shall perform the ceremony, that a certain number of witnesses shall be present,
that a certificate of the marriage shall be signed, returned, and recorded, and that persons violating the conditions
shall be guilty of a criminal offense, are addressed to persons in authority to secure publicity and to require a record
to be made of the marriage contract. Such statutes do not void common-law marriages unless they do so expressly,
even where such marriage are entered into without obtaining a license and are not recorded. It is the purpose of
these statutes to discourage deception and seduction, prevent illicit intercourse under the guise of matrimony, and
relieve from doubt the status of parties who live together as man and wife, by providing competent evidence of the
marriage. . . . (Section 15 American Jurisprudence "Marriage" pp. 188-189.) Emphasis Ours. (See also Corpus
Juris Secundum "Marriage" Sec. 33.)
And our law says, "no marriage shall be declared invalid because of the absence of one or several formal requirements of
this Act . . . ." (Section 27.)
In the third place, the law, imposing on the priest the duty to furnish to the parties copies of such marriage certificate
(section 16) and punishing him for its omission (section 41) implies his obligation to see that such "certificate" is executed
accordingly. Hence, it would not be fair to visit upon the wedded couple in the form of annulment, Father Bautista's
omission, if any, which apparently had been caused by the prevailing disorder during the liberation of Manila and its
environs.
Identical remarks apply to the priest's failure to make and file the affidavit required by sections 20 and 21. It was the priest's
obligation; non-compliance with it, should bring no serious consequences to the married pair, specially where as in this case,
it was caused by the emergency.
The mere fact that the parish priest who married the plaintiff's natural father and mother, while the latter was in
articulo mortis, failed to send a copy of the marriage certificate to the municipal secretary, does not invalidate said
marriage, since it does not appear that in the celebration thereof all requisites for its validity were not present, the
forwarding of a copy of the marriage certificate not being one of the requisites. (Jones vs. Hortiguela, 64 Phil. 179.)
See also Madridejo vs. De Leon, 55 Phil. 1.
The law permits in articulo mortis marriages, without marriage license; but it requires the priest to make the affidavit and
file it. Such affidavit contains the data usually required for the issuance of a marriage license. The first practically
substitutes the latter. Now then, if a marriage celebrated without the license is not voidable (under Act 3613),5 this marriage
should not also be voidable for lack of such affidavit.
In line with the policy to encourage the legalization of the union of men and women who have lived publicly in a state of
concubinage6, (section 22), we must hold this marriage to be valid.
The widower, needless to add, has better rights to the estate of the deceased than the plaintiffs who are the grandchildren of
her sister Adriana. "In the absence of brothers or sisters and of nephews, children of the former, . . . the surviving spouse . . .
shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased. (Art 952, Civil Code.)
Wherefore, the Court of Appeals' decision is affirmed, with costs. So ordered.
G.R. No. 155733 January 27, 2006
IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE ESTATES OF THE DECEASED JOSEFA DELGADO AND
GUILLERMO RUSTIA CARLOTA DELGADO VDA. DE DE LA ROSA and other HEIRS OF LUIS DELGADO,
namely, HEIRS OF CONCHA VDA. DE AREVALO, HEIRS OF LUISA DELGADO VDA. DE DANAO, ANGELA
DELGADO ARESPACOCHAGA, TERESA DELGADO PERLAS, CAROLINA DELGADO-ARESPACOCHAGA,
RODOLFO DELGADO, BENJAMIN DELGADO, GLICERIA DELGADO and CLEOFAS DELGADO; and
HEIRS OF GORGONIO DELGADO, namely, RAMON DELGADO CAMPO, CARLOS DELGADO CAMPO,
CLARITA DELGADO CAMPO-REIZA, YOLANDA DELGADO ENCINAS, FELISA DELGADO CAMPO-
ENCINAS and MELINDA DELGADO CAMPO-MADARANG, Petitioners,
vs.
HEIRS OF MARCIANA RUSTIA VDA. DE DAMIAN, namely, GUILLERMO R. DAMIAN and JOSE R.
DAMIAN; HEIRS OF HORTENCIA RUSTIA CRUZ, namely, TERESITA CRUZ-SISON, HORACIO R. CRUZ,
JOSEFINA CRUZ-RODIL, AMELIA CRUZ-ENRIQUEZ and FIDEL R. CRUZ, JR.; HEIRS OF ROMAN
RUSTIA, SR., namely, JOSEFINA RUSTIA ALBANO, VIRGINIA RUSTIA PARAISO, ROMAN RUSTIA, JR.,
SERGIO RUSTIA, FRANCISCO RUSTIA, LETICIA RUSTIA-MIRANDA; and GUILLERMINA RUSTIA, as
Oppositors; 1 and GUILLERMA RUSTIA, as Intervenor, 2 Respondents.3

CORONA, J.:
In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioners seek to reinstate the May 11, 1990 decision of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Manila, Branch 55,4 in SP Case No. 97668, which was reversed and set aside by the Court of Appeals in its
decision5 dated October 24, 2002.
FACTS OF THE CASE
This case concerns the settlement of the intestate estates of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado.6 The main issue in this
case is relatively simple: who, between petitioners and respondents, are the lawful heirs of the decedents. However, it is
attended by several collateral issues that complicate its resolution.
The claimants to the estates of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado may be divided into two groups: (1) the alleged heirs of
Josefa Delgado, consisting of her half- and full-blood siblings, nephews and nieces, and grandnephews and grandnieces, and
(2) the alleged heirs of Guillermo Rustia, particularly, his sisters,7 his nephews and nieces,8 his illegitimate child,9 and the de
facto adopted child10 (ampun-ampunan) of the decedents.
The alleged heirs of Josefa Delgado
The deceased Josefa Delgado was the daughter of Felisa11 Delgado by one Lucio Campo. Aside from Josefa, five other
children were born to the couple, namely, Nazario, Edilberta, Jose, Jacoba, and Gorgonio, all surnamed Delgado. Felisa
Delgado was never married to Lucio Campo, hence, Josefa and her full-blood siblings were all natural children of Felisa
Delgado.
However, Lucio Campo was not the first and only man in Felisa Delgado’s life. Before him was Ramon Osorio12 with whom
Felisa had a son, Luis Delgado. But, unlike her relationship with Lucio Campo which was admittedly one without the
benefit of marriage, the legal status of Ramon Osorio’s and Felisa Delgado’s union is in dispute.
The question of whether Felisa Delgado and Ramon Osorio ever got married is crucial to the claimants because the answer
will determine whether their successional rights fall within the ambit of the rule against reciprocal intestate succession
between legitimate and illegitimate relatives.13 If Ramon Osorio and Felisa Delgado had been validly married, then their
only child Luis Delgado was a legitimate half-blood brother of Josefa Delgado and therefore excluded from the latter’s
intestate estate. He and his heirs would be barred by the principle of absolute separation between the legitimate and
illegitimate families. Conversely, if the couple were never married, Luis Delgado and his heirs would be entitled to inherit
from Josefa Delgado’s intestate estate, as they would all be within the illegitimate line.
Petitioners allege that Ramon Osorio and Felisa Delgado were never married. In support thereof, they assert that no
evidence was ever presented to establish it, not even so much as an allegation of the date or place of the alleged marriage.
What is clear, however, is that Felisa retained the surname Delgado. So did Luis, her son with Ramon Osorio. Later on,
when Luis got married, his Partida de Casamiento14 stated that he was "hijo natural de Felisa Delgado" (the natural child of
Felisa Delgado),15 significantly omitting any mention of the name and other circumstances of his father.16 Nevertheless,
oppositors (now respondents) insist that the absence of a record of the alleged marriage did not necessarily mean that no
marriage ever took place.
Josefa Delgado died on September 8, 1972 without a will. She was survived by Guillermo Rustia and some collateral
relatives, the petitioners herein. Several months later, on June 15, 1973, Guillermo Rustia executed an affidavit of self-
adjudication of the remaining properties comprising her estate.
The marriage of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado
Sometime in 1917, Guillermo Rustia proposed marriage to Josefa Delgado17 but whether a marriage in fact took place is
disputed. According to petitioners, the two eventually lived together as husband and wife but were never married. To prove
their assertion, petitioners point out that no record of the contested marriage existed in the civil registry. Moreover, a
baptismal certificate naming Josefa Delgado as one of the sponsors referred to her as "Señorita" or unmarried woman.
The oppositors (respondents here), on the other hand, insist that the absence of a marriage certificate did not of necessity
mean that no marriage transpired. They maintain that Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado were married on June 3, 1919
and from then on lived together as husband and wife until the death of Josefa on September 8, 1972. During this period
spanning more than half a century, they were known among their relatives and friends to have in fact been married. To
support their proposition, oppositors presented the following pieces of evidence:
1. Certificate of Identity No. 9592 dated [December 1, 1944] issued to Mrs. Guillermo J. Rustia by Carlos P.
Romulo, then Resident Commissioner to the United States of the Commonwealth of the Philippines;
2. Philippine Passport No. 4767 issued to Josefa D. Rustia on June 25, 1947;
3. Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation for Disability Resulting from Service in the Active Military
or Naval Forces of the United States- Claim No. C-4, 004, 503 (VA Form 526) filed with the Veterans
Administration of the United States of America by Dr. Guillermo J. Rustia wherein Dr. Guillermo J. Rustia himself
[swore] to his marriage to Josefa Delgado in Manila on 3 June 1919;18
4. Titles to real properties in the name of Guillermo Rustia indicated that he was married to Josefa Delgado.
The alleged heirs of Guillermo Rustia
Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado never had any children. With no children of their own, they took into their home the
youngsters Guillermina Rustia Rustia and Nanie Rustia. These children, never legally adopted by the couple, were what was
known in the local dialect as ampun-ampunan.
During his life with Josefa, however, Guillermo Rustia did manage to father an illegitimate child,19 the intervenor-
respondent Guillerma Rustia, with one Amparo Sagarbarria. According to Guillerma, Guillermo Rustia treated her as his
daughter, his own flesh and blood, and she enjoyed open and continuous possession of that status from her birth in 1920
until her father’s demise. In fact, Josefa Delgado’s obituary which was prepared by Guillermo Rustia, named the intervenor-
respondent as one of their children. Also, her report card from the University of Santo Tomas identified Guillermo Rustia as
her parent/guardian.20
Oppositors (respondents here) nonetheless posit that Guillerma Rustia has no interest in the intestate estate of Guillermo
Rustia as she was never duly acknowledged as an illegitimate child. They contend that her right to compulsory
acknowledgement prescribed when Guillermo died in 1974 and that she cannot claim voluntary acknowledgement since the
documents she presented were not the authentic writings prescribed by the new Civil Code.21
On January 7, 1974, more than a year after the death of Josefa Delgado, Guillermo Rustia filed a petition for the adoption22
of their ampun-ampunan Guillermina Rustia. He stated under oath "[t]hat he ha[d] no legitimate, legitimated, acknowledged
natural children or natural children by legal fiction."23 The petition was overtaken by his death on February 28, 1974.
Like Josefa Delgado, Guillermo Rustia died without a will. He was survived by his sisters Marciana Rustia vda. de Damian
and Hortencia Rustia-Cruz, and by the children of his predeceased brother Roman Rustia Sr., namely, Josefina Rustia
Albano, Virginia Rustia Paraiso, Roman Rustia, Jr., Sergio Rustia, Francisco Rustia and Leticia Rustia Miranda.24
ANTECEDENT PROCEEDINGS
On May 8, 1975, Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao, the daughter of Luis Delgado, filed the original petition for letters of
administration of the intestate estates of the "spouses Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Rustia" with the RTC of Manila,
Branch 55.25 This petition was opposed by the following: (1) the sisters of Guillermo Rustia, namely, Marciana Rustia vda.
de Damian and Hortencia Rustia-Cruz;26 (2) the heirs of Guillermo Rustia’s late brother, Roman Rustia, Sr., and (3) the
ampun-ampunan Guillermina Rustia Rustia. The opposition was grounded on the theory that Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao
and the other claimants were barred under the law from inheriting from their illegitimate half-blood relative Josefa Delgado.
In November of 1975, Guillerma Rustia filed a motion to intervene in the proceedings, claiming she was the only surviving
descendant in the direct line of Guillermo Rustia. Despite the objections of the oppositors (respondents herein), the motion
was granted.
On April 3, 1978, the original petition for letters of administration was amended to state that Josefa Delgado and Guillermo
Rustia were never married but had merely lived together as husband and wife.
On January 24, 1980, oppositors (respondents herein) filed a motion to dismiss the petition in the RTC insofar as the estate
of Guillermo Rustia was concerned. The motion was denied on the ground that the interests of the petitioners and the other
claimants remained in issue and should be properly threshed out upon submission of evidence.
On March 14, 1988, Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa substituted for her sister, Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao, who had
died on May 18, 1987.
On May 11, 1990, the RTC appointed Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa as administratrix of both estates.27 The dispositive
portion of the decision read:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, petitioner and her co-claimants to the estate of the late Josefa Delgado listed
in the Petitions, and enumerated elsewhere in this Decision, are hereby declared as the only legal heirs of the said Josefa
Delgado who died intestate in the City of Manila on September 8, 1972, and entitled to partition the same among themselves
in accordance with the proportions referred to in this Decision.
Similarly, the intervenor Guillerma S. Rustia is hereby declared as the sole and only surviving heir of the late Dr. Guillermo
Rustia, and thus, entitled to the entire estate of the said decedent, to the exclusion of the oppositors and the other parties
hereto.
The Affidavit of Self-Adjudication of the estate of Josefa Delgado executed by the late Guillermo J. Rustia on June 15, 1973
is hereby SET ASIDE and declared of no force and effect.
As the estates of both dece[d]ents have not as yet been settled, and their settlement [is] considered consolidated in this
proceeding in accordance with law, a single administrator therefor is both proper and necessary, and, as the petitioner
Carlota Delgado Vda. de dela Rosa has established her right to the appointment as administratrix of the estates, the Court
hereby APPOINTS her as the ADMINISTRATRIX of the intestate estate of the decedent JOSEFA DELGADO in relation
to the estate of DR. GUILLERMO J. RUSTIA.
Accordingly, let the corresponding LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION issue to the petitioner CARLOTA DELGADO
VDA. DE DE LA ROSA upon her filing of the requisite bond in the sum of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS
(P500,000.00).
Finally, oppositor GUILLERMINA RUSTIA RUSTIA is hereby ordered to cease and desist from her acts of administration
of the subject estates, and is likewise ordered to turn over to the appointed administratix all her collections of the rentals and
income due on the assets of the estates in question, including all documents, papers, records and titles pertaining to such
estates to the petitioner and appointed administratix CARLOTA DELGADO VDA. DE DE LA ROSA, immediately upon
receipt of this Decision. The same oppositor is hereby required to render an accounting of her actual administration of the
estates in controversy within a period of sixty (60) days from receipt hereof.
SO ORDERED.28
On May 20, 1990, oppositors filed an appeal which was denied on the ground that the record on appeal was not filed on
time.29 They then filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus30 which was dismissed by the Court of Appeals.31 However,
on motion for reconsideration and after hearing the parties’ oral arguments, the Court of Appeals reversed itself and gave
due course to oppositors’ appeal in the interest of substantial justice.32
In a petition for review to this Court, petitioners assailed the resolution of the Court of Appeals, on the ground that
oppositors’ failure to file the record on appeal within the reglementary period was a jurisdictional defect which nullified the
appeal. On October 10, 1997, this Court allowed the continuance of the appeal. The pertinent portion of our decision33 read:
As a rule, periods prescribed to do certain acts must be followed. However, under exceptional circumstances, a delay in the
filing of an appeal may be excused on grounds of substantial justice.
xxx xxx xxx
The respondent court likewise pointed out the trial court’s pronouncements as to certain matters of substance, relating to the
determination of the heirs of the decedents and the party entitled to the administration of their estate, which were to be
raised in the appeal, but were barred absolutely by the denial of the record on appeal upon too technical ground of late filing.
xxx xxx xxx
In this instance, private respondents’ intention to raise valid issues in the appeal is apparent and should not have been
construed as an attempt to delay or prolong the administration proceedings.
xxx xxx xxx
A review of the trial court’s decision is needed.
xxx xxx xxx
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the Court hereby AFFIRMS the Resolution dated November 27,
1991 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 23415, for the APPROVAL of the private respondents’ Record on Appeal
and the CONTINUANCE of the appeal from the Manila, Branch LV Regional Trial Court’s May 11, 1990 decision.
SO ORDERED.
Acting on the appeal, the Court of Appeals34 partially set aside the trial court’s decision. Upon motion for reconsideration,35
the Court of Appeals amended its earlier decision.36 The dispositive portion of the amended decision read:
With the further modification, our assailed decision is RECONSIDERED and VACATED. Consequently, the decision of
the trial court is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. A new one is hereby RENDERED declaring: 1.) Dr. Guillermo Rustia and
Josefa Delgado Rustia to have been legally married; 2.) the intestate estate of Dr. Guillermo Rustia, Jacoba Delgado-Encinas
and the children of Gorgonio Delgado (Campo) entitled to partition among themselves the intestate estate of Josefa D.
Rustia in accordance with the proportion referred to in this decision; 3.) the oppositors-appellants as the legal heirs of the
late Dr. Guillermo Rustia and thereby entitled to partition his estate in accordance with the proportion referred to herein; and
4.) the intervenor-appellee Guillerma S. Rustia as ineligible to inherit from the late Dr. Guillermo Rustia; thus revoking her
appointment as administratrix of his estate.
The letters of administration of the intestate estate of Dr. Guillermo Rustia in relation to the intestate estate of Josefa
Delgado shall issue to the nominee of the oppositors-appellants upon his or her qualification and filing of the requisite bond
in the sum of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00).
Oppositor-appellant Guillermina Rustia Rustia is hereby ordered to cease and desist from her acts of administration of the
subject estates and to turn over to the appointed administrator all her collections of the rentals and incomes due on the assets
of the estates in question, including all documents, papers, records and titles pertaining to such estates to the appointed
administrator, immediately upon notice of his qualification and posting of the requisite bond, and to render an accounting of
her (Guillermina Rustia Rustia) actual administration of the estates in controversy within a period of sixty (60) days from
notice of the administrator’s qualification and posting of the bond.
The issue of the validity of the affidavit of self-adjudication executed by Dr. Guillermo Rustia on June 15, 1973 is
REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings to determine the extent of the shares of Jacoba Delgado-Encinas and
the children of Gorgonio Delgado (Campo) affected by the said adjudication.
Hence, this recourse.
The issues for our resolution are:
1. whether there was a valid marriage between Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado;
2. who the legal heirs of the decedents Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado are;
3. who should be issued letters of administration.
The marriage of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado
A presumption is an inference of the existence or non-existence of a fact which courts are permitted to draw from proof of
other facts. Presumptions are classified into presumptions of law and presumptions of fact. Presumptions of law are, in turn,
either conclusive or disputable.37
Rule 131, Section 3 of the Rules of Court provides:
Sec. 3. Disputable presumptions. — The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted
and overcome by other evidence:
xxx xxx xxx
(aa) That a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage;
xxx xxx xxx
In this case, several circumstances give rise to the presumption that a valid marriage existed between Guillermo Rustia and
Josefa Delgado. Their cohabitation of more than 50 years cannot be doubted. Their family and friends knew them to be
married. Their reputed status as husband and wife was such that even the original petition for letters of administration filed
by Luisa Delgado vda. de Danao in 1975 referred to them as "spouses."
Yet, petitioners maintain that Josefa Delgado and Guillermo Rustia had simply lived together as husband and wife without
the benefit of marriage. They make much of the absence of a record of the contested marriage, the testimony of a witness38
attesting that they were not married, and a baptismal certificate which referred to Josefa Delgado as "Señorita" or unmarried
woman.39
We are not persuaded.
First, although a marriage contract is considered a primary evidence of marriage, its absence is not always proof that no
marriage in fact took place.40 Once the presumption of marriage arises, other evidence may be presented in support thereof.
The evidence need not necessarily or directly establish the marriage but must at least be enough to strengthen the
presumption of marriage. Here, the certificate of identity issued to Josefa Delgado as Mrs. Guillermo Rustia,41 the passport
issued to her as Josefa D. Rustia,42 the declaration under oath of no less than Guillermo Rustia that he was married to Josefa
Delgado43 and the titles to the properties in the name of "Guillermo Rustia married to Josefa Delgado," more than adequately
support the presumption of marriage. These are public documents which are prima facie evidence of the facts stated
therein.44 No clear and convincing evidence sufficient to overcome the presumption of the truth of the recitals therein was
presented by petitioners.
Second, Elisa vda. de Anson, petitioners’ own witness whose testimony they primarily relied upon to support their position,
confirmed that Guillermo Rustia had proposed marriage to Josefa Delgado and that eventually, the two had "lived together
as husband and wife." This again could not but strengthen the presumption of marriage.
Third, the baptismal certificate45 was conclusive proof only of the baptism administered by the priest who baptized the child.
It was no proof of the veracity of the declarations and statements contained therein,46 such as the alleged single or unmarried
("Señorita") civil status of Josefa Delgado who had no hand in its preparation.
Petitioners failed to rebut the presumption of marriage of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado. In this jurisdiction, every
intendment of the law leans toward legitimizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together apparently in marriage are presumed
to be in fact married. This is the usual order of things in society and, if the parties are not what they hold themselves out to
be, they would be living in constant violation of the common rules of law and propriety. Semper praesumitur pro
matrimonio. Always presume marriage.47
The Lawful Heirs Of Josefa Delgado
To determine who the lawful heirs of Josefa Delgado are, the questioned status of the cohabitation of her mother Felisa
Delgado with Ramon Osorio must first be addressed.
As mentioned earlier, presumptions of law are either conclusive or disputable. Conclusive presumptions are inferences
which the law makes so peremptory that no contrary proof, no matter how strong, may overturn them.48 On the other hand,
disputable presumptions, one of which is the presumption of marriage, can be relied on only in the absence of sufficient
evidence to the contrary.
Little was said of the cohabitation or alleged marriage of Felisa Delgado and Ramon Osorio. The oppositors (now
respondents) chose merely to rely on the disputable presumption of marriage even in the face of such countervailing
evidence as (1) the continued use by Felisa and Luis (her son with Ramon Osorio) of the surname Delgado and (2) Luis
Delgado’s and Caridad Concepcion’s Partida de Casamiento49 identifying Luis as "hijo natural de Felisa Delgado" (the
natural child of Felisa Delgado).50
All things considered, we rule that these factors sufficiently overcame the rebuttable presumption of marriage. Felisa
Delgado and Ramon Osorio were never married. Hence, all the children born to Felisa Delgado out of her relations with
Ramon Osorio and Lucio Campo, namely, Luis and his half-blood siblings Nazario, Edilberta, Jose, Jacoba, Gorgonio and
the decedent Josefa, all surnamed Delgado,51 were her natural children.52
Pertinent to this matter is the following observation:
Suppose, however, that A begets X with B, and Y with another woman, C; then X and Y would be natural brothers and
sisters, but of half-blood relationship. Can they succeed each other reciprocally?
The law prohibits reciprocal succession between illegitimate children and legitimate children of the same parent, even
though there is unquestionably a tie of blood between them. It seems that to allow an illegitimate child to succeed ab
intestato (from) another illegitimate child begotten with a parent different from that of the former, would be allowing the
illegitimate child greater rights than a legitimate child. Notwithstanding this, however, we submit that
succession should be allowed, even when the illegitimate brothers and sisters are only of the half-blood. The reason
impelling the prohibition on reciprocal successions between legitimate and illegitimate families does not apply to the case
under consideration. That prohibition has for its basis the difference in category between illegitimate and legitimate
relatives. There is no such difference when all the children are illegitimate children of the same parent, even if begotten with
different persons. They all stand on the same footing before the law, just like legitimate children of half-blood relation. We
submit, therefore, that the rules regarding succession of legitimate brothers and sisters should be applicable to them. Full
blood illegitimate brothers and sisters should receive double the portion of half-blood brothers and sisters; and if all are
either of the full blood or of the half-blood, they shall share equally.53
Here, the above-named siblings of Josefa Delgado were related to her by full-blood, except Luis Delgado, her half-brother.
Nonetheless, since they were all illegitimate, they may inherit from each other. Accordingly, all of them are entitled to
inherit from Josefa Delgado.
We note, however, that the petitioners before us are already the nephews, nieces, grandnephews and grandnieces of Josefa
Delgado. Under Article 972 of the new Civil Code, the right of representation in the collateral line takes place only in favor
of the children of brothers and sisters (nephews and nieces). Consequently, it cannot be exercised by grandnephews and
grandnieces.54 Therefore, the only collateral relatives of Josefa Delgado who are entitled to partake of her intestate estate are
her brothers and sisters, or their children who were still alive at the time of her death on September 8, 1972. They have a
vested right to participate in the inheritance.55 The records not being clear on this matter, it is now for the trial court to
determine who were the surviving brothers and sisters (or their children) of Josefa Delgado at the time of her death.
Together with Guillermo Rustia,56 they are entitled to inherit from Josefa Delgado in accordance with Article 1001 of the
new Civil Code:57
Art. 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or widower, the latter shall be entitled to
one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or their children to the other one-half.
Since Josefa Delgado had heirs other than Guillermo Rustia, Guillermo could not have validly adjudicated Josefa’s estate all
to himself. Rule 74, Section 1 of the Rules of Court is clear. Adjudication by an heir of the decedent’s entire estate to
himself by means of an affidavit is allowed only if he is the sole heir to the estate:
SECTION 1. Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs. – If the decedent left no will and no debts and the heirs
are all of age, or the minors are represented by their judicial or legal representatives duly authorized for the purpose, the
parties may, without securing letters of administration, divide the estate among themselves as they see fit by means of a
public instrument filed in the office of the register of deeds, and should they disagree, they may do so in an ordinary action
of partition. If there is only one heir, he may adjudicate to himself the estate by means of an affidavit filed in the office
of the register of deeds. x x x (emphasis supplied)
The Lawful Heirs Of Guillermo Rustia
Intervenor (now co-respondent) Guillerma Rustia is an illegitimate child58 of Guillermo Rustia. As such, she may be entitled
to successional rights only upon proof of an admission or recognition of paternity.59 She, however, claimed the status of an
acknowledged illegitimate child of Guillermo Rustia only after the death of the latter on February 28, 1974 at which time it
was already the new Civil Code that was in effect.
Under the old Civil Code (which was in force till August 29, 1950), illegitimate children absolutely had no hereditary rights.
This draconian edict was, however, later relaxed in the new Civil Code which granted certain successional rights to
illegitimate children but only on condition that they were first recognized or acknowledged by the parent.
Under the new law, recognition may be compulsory or voluntary.60 Recognition is compulsory in any of the following cases:
(1) in cases of rape, abduction or seduction, when the period of the offense coincides more or less with that of the
conception;
(2) when the child is in continuous possession of status of a child of the alleged father (or mother)61 by the direct
acts of the latter or of his family;
(3) when the child was conceived during the time when the mother cohabited with the supposed father;
(4) when the child has in his favor any evidence or proof that the defendant is his father. 62
On the other hand, voluntary recognition may be made in the record of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record or
in any authentic writing.63
Intervenor Guillerma sought recognition on two grounds: first, compulsory recognition through the open and continuous
possession of the status of an illegitimate child and second, voluntary recognition through authentic writing.
There was apparently no doubt that she possessed the status of an illegitimate child from her birth until the death of her
putative father Guillermo Rustia. However, this did not constitute acknowledgment but a mere ground by which she could
have compelled acknowledgment through the courts.64 Furthermore, any (judicial) action for compulsory acknowledgment
has a dual limitation: the lifetime of the child and the lifetime of the putative parent.65 On the death of either, the action for
compulsory recognition can no longer be filed.66 In this case, intervenor Guillerma’s right to claim compulsory
acknowledgment prescribed upon the death of Guillermo Rustia on February 28, 1974.
The claim of voluntary recognition (Guillerma’s second ground) must likewise fail. An authentic writing, for purposes of
voluntary recognition, is understood as a genuine or indubitable writing of the parent (in this case, Guillermo Rustia). This
includes a public instrument or a private writing admitted by the father to be his.67 Did intervenor’s report card from the
University of Santo Tomas and Josefa Delgado’s obituary prepared by Guillermo Rustia qualify as authentic writings under
the new Civil Code? Unfortunately not. The report card of intervenor Guillerma did not bear the signature of Guillermo
Rustia. The fact that his name appears there as intervenor’s parent/guardian holds no weight since he had no participation in
its preparation. Similarly, while witnesses testified that it was Guillermo Rustia himself who drafted the notice of death of
Josefa Delgado which was published in the Sunday Times on September 10, 1972, that published obituary was not the
authentic writing contemplated by the law. What could have been admitted as an authentic writing was the original
manuscript of the notice, in the handwriting of Guillermo Rustia himself and signed by him, not the newspaper clipping of
the obituary. The failure to present the original signed manuscript was fatal to intervenor’s claim.
The same misfortune befalls the ampun-ampunan, Guillermina Rustia Rustia, who was never adopted in accordance with
law. Although a petition for her adoption was filed by Guillermo Rustia, it never came to fruition and was dismissed upon
the latter’s death. We affirm the ruling of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals holding her a legal stranger to the
deceased spouses and therefore not entitled to inherit from them ab intestato. We quote:
Adoption is a juridical act, a proceeding in rem, which [created] between two persons a relationship similar to that which
results from legitimate paternity and filiation. Only an adoption made through the court, or in pursuance with the procedure
laid down under Rule 99 of the Rules of Court is valid in this jurisdiction. It is not of natural law at all, but is wholly and
entirely artificial. To establish the relation, the statutory requirements must be strictly carried out, otherwise, the adoption is
an absolute nullity. The fact of adoption is never presumed, but must be affirmatively [proven] by the person claiming its
existence.68
Premises considered, we rule that two of the claimants to the estate of Guillermo Rustia, namely, intervenor Guillerma
Rustia and the ampun-ampunan Guillermina Rustia Rustia, are not lawful heirs of the decedent. Under Article 1002 of the
new Civil Code, if there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or surviving spouse, the collateral relatives
shall succeed to the entire estate of the deceased. Therefore, the lawful heirs of Guillermo Rustia are the remaining
claimants, consisting of his sisters,69 nieces and nephews.70
Entitlement To Letters Of Administration
An administrator is a person appointed by the court to administer the intestate estate of the decedent. Rule 78, Section 6 of
the Rules of Court prescribes an order of preference in the appointment of an administrator:
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 a 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;
(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 the 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.
In the appointment of an administrator, the principal consideration is the interest in the estate of the one to be appointed.71
The order of preference does not rule out the appointment of co-administrators, specially in cases where
justice and equity demand that opposing parties or factions be represented in the management of the estates,72 a situation
which obtains here.
It is in this light that we see fit to appoint joint administrators, in the persons of Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa and a
nominee of the nephews and nieces of Guillermo Rustia. They are the next of kin of the deceased spouses Josefa Delgado
and Guillermo Rustia, respectively.
WHEREFORE, the petition (which seeks to reinstate the May 11, 1990 decision of the RTC Manila, Branch 55) is hereby
DENIED. The assailed October 24, 2002 decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with the following
modifications:
1. Guillermo Rustia’s June 15, 1973 affidavit of self-adjudication is hereby ANNULLED.
2. the intestate estate of Guillermo Rustia shall inherit half of the intestate estate of Josefa Delgado. The remaining
half shall pertain to (a) the full and half-siblings of Josefa Delgado who survived her and (b) the children of any of
Josefa Delgado’s full- or half-siblings who may have predeceased her, also surviving at the time of her death.
Josefa Delgado’s grandnephews and grandnieces are excluded from her estate. In this connection, the trial court is
hereby ordered to determine the identities of the relatives of Josefa Delgado who are entitled to share in her estate.
3. Guillermo Rustia’s estate (including its one-half share of Josefa Delgado’s estate) shall be inherited by Marciana
Rustia vda. de Damian and Hortencia Rustia Cruz (whose respective shares shall be per capita) and the children of
the late Roman Rustia, Sr. (who survived Guillermo Rustia and whose respective shares shall be per stirpes).
Considering that Marciana Rustia vda. de Damian and Hortencia Rustia Cruz are now deceased, their respective
shares shall pertain to their estates.
4. Letters of administration over the still unsettled intestate estates of Guillermo Rustia and Josefa Delgado shall
issue to Carlota Delgado vda. de de la Rosa and to a nominee from among the heirs of Guillermo Rustia, as joint
administrators, upon their qualification and filing of the requisite bond in such amount as may be determined by the
trial court.
No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 85140 May 17, 1990


TOMAS EUGENIO, SR. vs.
HON. ALEJANDRO M. VELEZ,
PADILLA, J.:
On 5 October 1988, petitioner came to this Court with a petition for certiorari and prohibition with application for
restraining order and/or injunction (docketed as G.R. No. 85140) seeking to enjoin respondent Judge from proceeding with
the Habeas Corpus case (Sp. Proc. No. 88- 55, RTC, Branch 20, Cagayan de Oro City), * the respondent Sheriff from
enforcing and implementing the writ and orders of the respondent Judge dated 28, 29, and 30 September 1988, and to
declare said writ and orders as null and void. In a resolution issued on 11 October 1988, this Court required comment from
the respondents on the petition but denied the application for a temporary restraining order.
The records disclose the following:
Unaware of the death on 28 August 1988 of (Vitaliana Vargas Vitaliana for brevity), her full blood brothers and sisters,
herein private respondents (Vargases', for brevity) filed on 27 September 1988, a petition for habeas corpus before the RTC
of Misamis Oriental (Branch 20, Cagayan de Oro City) alleging that Vitaliana was forcibly taken from her residence
sometime in 1987 and confined by herein petitioner in his palacial residence in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental. Despite her desire
to escape, Vitaliana was allegedly deprived of her liberty without any legal authority. At the time the petition was filed, it
was alleged that Vitaliana was 25 years of age, single, and living with petitioner Tomas Eugenio.
The respondent court in an order dated 28 September 1988 issued the writ of habeas corpus, but the writ was returned
unsatisfied. Petitioner refused to surrender the body of Vitaliana (who had died on 28 August 1988) to the respondent
sheriff, reasoning that a corpse cannot be the subject of habeas corpus proceedings; besides, according to petitioner, he had
already obtained a burial permit from the Undersecretary of the Department of Health, authorizing the burial at the palace
quadrangle of the Philippine Benevolent Christian Missionary, Inc. (PBCM), a registered religious sect, of which he
(petitioner) is the Supreme President and Founder.
Petitioner also alleged that Vitaliana died of heart failure due to toxemia of pregnancy in his residence on 28 August 1988.
As her common law husband, petitioner claimed legal custody of her body. These reasons were incorporated in an
explanation filed before the respondent court. Two (2) orders dated 29 and 30 September 1988 were then issued by
respondent court, directing delivery of the deceased's body to a funeral parlor in Cagayan de Oro City and its autopsy.
Petitioner (as respondent in the habeas corpus proceedings) filed an urgent motion to dismiss the petition therein, claiming
lack of jurisdiction of the court over the nature of the action under sec. 1(b) of Rule 16 in relation to sec. 2, Rule 72 of the
Rules of Court. 1 A special proceeding for habeas corpus, petitioner argued, is not applicable to a dead person but extends
only to all cases of illegal confinement or detention of a live person.
Before resolving the motion to dismiss, private respondents (as petitioners below) were granted leave to amend their
petition. 2 Claiming to have knowledge of the death of Vitaliana only on 28 September 1988 (or after the filing of the
habeas corpus petition), private respondents (Vargases') alleged that petitioner Tomas Eugenia who is not in any way
related to Vitaliana was wrongfully interfering with their (Vargases') duty to bury her. Invoking Arts. 305 and 308 of the
Civil Code, 3 the Vargases contended that, as the next of kin in the Philippines, they are the legal custodians of the dead
body of their sister Vitaliana. An exchange of pleadings followed. The motion to dismiss was finally submitted for
resolution on 21 October 1988.
In the absence of a restraining order from this Court, proceedings continued before the respondent court; the body was
placed in a coffin, transferred to the Greenhills Memorial Homes in Cagayan de Oro City, viewed by the presiding Judge of
respondent court, and examined by a duly authorized government pathologist. 4
Denying the motion to dismiss filed by petitioner, the court a quo held in an order, 5 dated 17 November 1988, that:
It should be noted from the original petition, to the first amended petition, up to the second amended
petition that the ultimate facts show that if the person of Vitaliana Vargas turns out to be dead then this
Court is being prayed to declare the petitioners as the persons entitled to the custody, interment and/or
burial of the body of said deceased. The Court, considering the circumstance that Vitaliana Vargas was
already dead on August 28, 1988 but only revealed to the Court on September 29, 1988 by respondent's
counsel, did not lose jurisdiction over the nature and subject matter of this case because it may entertain
this case thru the allegations in the body of the petition on the determination as to who is entitled to the
custody of the dead body of the late Vitaliana Vargas as well as the burial or interment thereof, for the
reason that under the provisions of Sec. 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, which reads as follows:
Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. — Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:
(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary
estimation;
xxx xxx xxx
(5) In all actions involving the contract of marriage and marital relations;
(6) In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person or
body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions:
xxx xxx xxx
it so provides that the Regional Trial Court has exclusive original jurisdiction to try this case. The
authority to try the issue of custody and burial of a dead person is within the lawful jurisdiction of this
Court because of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 and because of the allegations of the pleadings in this case,
which are enumerated in Sec. 19, pars. 1, 5 and 6 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.
Thereafter, the court a quo proceeded as in or civil cases and, in due course, rendered a decision on 17 January 1989, 6
resolving the main issue of whether or not said court acquired jurisdiction over the case by treating it as an action for
custody of a dead body, without the petitioners having to file a separate civil action for such relief, and without the Court
first dismissing the original petition for habeas corpus.
Citing Sections 19 and 20 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 (the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1981), 7 Sections 5 and 6 of
Rule 135 of the Rules of Court 8 Articles 305 and 308 in relation to Article 294 of the Civil Code and Section 1104 of the
Revised Administrative Code, 9 the decision stated:
. . . . By a mere reading of the petition the court observed that the allegations in the original petition as
well as in the two amended petitions show that Vitaliana Vargas has been restrained of her liberty and if
she were dead then relief was prayed for the custody and burial of said dead person. The amendments to
the petition were but elaborations but the ultimate facts remained the same, hence, this court strongly finds
that this court has ample jurisdiction to entertain and sit on this case as an action for custody and burial of
the dead body because the body of the petition controls and is binding and since this case was raffled to
this court to the exclusion of all other courts, it is the primary duty of this court to decide and dispose of
this case. . . . . 10
Satisfied with its jurisdiction, the respondent court then proceeded to the matter of rightful custody over the dead body, (for
purposes of burial thereof). The order of preference to give support under Art. 294 was used as the basis of the award. Since
there was no surviving spouse, ascendants or descendants, the brothers and sisters were preferred over petitioner who was
merely a common law spouse, the latter being himself legally married to another woman. 11
On 23 January 1989, a new petition for review with application for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary
injunction was filed with this Court (G.R. No. 86470). Raised therein were pure questions of law, basically Identical to those
raised in the earlier petition (G.R. No. 85140); hence, the consolidation of both cases. 12 On 7 February 1989, petitioner filed
an urgent motion for the issuance of an injunction to maintain status quo pending appeal, which this Court denied in a
resolution dated 23 February 1989 stating that "Tomas Eugenio has so far failed to sufficiently establish a clear legal right to
the custody of the dead body of Vitaliana Vargas, which now needs a decent burial." The petitions were then submitted for
decision without further pleadings.
Between the two (2) consolidated petitions, the following issues are raised:
1. propriety of a habeas corpus proceeding under Rule 102 of the Rules of Court to recover custody of the
dead body of a 25 year old female, single, whose nearest surviving claimants are full blood brothers and
sisters and a common law husband.
2. jurisdiction of the RTC over such proceedings and/or its authority to treat the action as one for
custody/possession/authority to bury the deceased/recovery of the dead.
3. interpretation of par. 1, Art. 294 of the Civil Code (Art. 199 of the new Family Code)
which states:
Art. 294. The claim for support, when proper and two or more persons are obliged to
give it, shall be made in the following order:
(1) From the spouse;
xxx xxx xxx
Section 19, Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 provides for the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts over civil
cases. Under Sec. 2, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, the writ of habeas corpus may be granted by a Court of First Instance
(now Regional Trial Court). It is an elementary rule of procedure that what controls is not the caption of the complaint or
petition; but the allegations therein determine the nature of the action, and even without the prayer for a specific remedy,
proper relief may nevertheless be granted by the court if the facts alleged in the complaint and the evidence introduced so
warrant. 13
When the petition for habeas corpus was filed before the court a quo, it was not certain whether Vitaliana was dead or alive.
While habeas corpus is a writ of right, it will not issue as a matter of course or as a mere perfimetory operation on the filing
of the petition. Judicial discretion is exercised in its issuance, and such facts must be made to appear to the judge to whom
the petition is presented as, in his judgment, prima facie entitle the petitioner to the writ. 14 While the court may refuse to
grant the writ if the petition is insufficient in form and substance, the writ should issue if the petition complies with the legal
requirements and its averments make a prima facie case for relief. However, a judge who is asked to issue a writ of habeas
corpus need not be very critical in looking into the petition for very clear grounds for the exercise of this jurisdiction. The
latter's power to make full inquiry into the cause of commitment or detention will enable him to correct any errors or defects
in the petition. 15
In Macazo and Nunez vs. Nunez, 16 the Court frowned upon the dismissal of a habeas corpus petition filed by a brother to
obtain custody of a minor sister, stating:
All these circumstances notwithstanding, we believe that the case should not have been dismissed. The
court below should not have overlooked that by dismissing the petition, it was virtually sanctioning the
continuance of an adulterous and scandalous relation between the minor and her married employer,
respondent Benildo Nunez against all principles of law and morality. It is no excuse that the minor has
expressed preference for remaining with said respondent, because the minor may not chose to continue an
illicit relation that morals and law repudiate.
xxx xxx xxx
The minor's welfare being the paramount consideration, the court below should not allow the technicality,
that Teofilo Macazo was not originally made a party, to stand in the way of its giving the child full
protection. Even in a habeas corpus proceeding the court had power to award temporary custody to the
petitioner herein, or some other suitable person, after summoning and hearing all parties concerned. What
matters is that the immoral situation disclosed by the records be not allowed to continue. 17
After the fact of Vitaliana's death was made known to the petitioners in the habeas corpus proceedings, amendment of the
petition for habeas corpus, not dismissal, was proper to avoid multiplicity of suits. Amendments to pleadings are generally
favored and should be liberally allowed in furtherance of justice in order that every case may so far as possible be
determined on its real facts and in order to expedite the trial of cases or prevent circuity of action and unnecessary expense,
unless there are circumstances such as inexcusable delay or the taking of the adverse party by surprise or the like, which
justify a refusal of permission to amend. 18 As correctly alleged by respondents, the writ of habeas corpus as a remedy
became moot and academic due to the death of the person allegedly restrained of liberty, but the issue of custody remained,
which the court a quo had to resolve.
Petitioner claims he is the spouse contemplated under Art. 294 of the Civil Code, the term spouse used therein not being
preceded by any qualification; hence, in the absence of such qualification, he is the rightful custodian of Vitaliana's body.
Vitaliana's brothers and sisters contend otherwise. Indeed, Philippine Law does not recognize common law marriages. A
man and woman not legally married who cohabit for many years as husband and wife, who represent themselves to the
public as husband and wife, and who are reputed to be husband and wife in the community where they live may be
considered legally mauled in common law jurisdictions but not in the Philippines. 19
While it is true that our laws do not just brush aside the fact that such relationships are present in our society, and that they
produce a community of properties and interests which is governed by law, 20 authority exists in case law to the effect that
such form of co-ownership requires that the man and woman living together must not in any way be incapacitated to
contract marriage. 21 In any case, herein petitioner has a subsisting marriage with another woman, a legal impediment which
disqualified him from even legally marrying Vitaliana. In Santero vs. CFI of Cavite, 22 ,the Court, thru Mr. Justice Paras,
interpreting Art. 188 of the Civil Code (Support of Surviving Spouse and Children During Liquidation of Inventoried
Property) stated: "Be it noted however that with respect to 'spouse', the same must be the legitimate 'spouse' (not common-
law spouses)."
There is a view that under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, the term "spouse" embraces common law relation for
purposes of exemption from criminal liability in cases of theft, swindling and malicious mischief committed or caused
mutually by spouses. The Penal Code article, it is said, makes no distinction between a couple whose cohabitation is
sanctioned by a sacrament or legal tie and another who are husband and wife de facto. 23 But this view cannot even apply to
the facts of the case at bar. We hold that the provisions of the Civil Code, unless expressly providing to the contrary as in
Article 144, when referring to a "spouse" contemplate a lawfully wedded spouse. Petitioner vis-a-vis Vitaliana was not a
lawfully-wedded spouse to her; in fact, he was not legally capacitated to marry her in her lifetime.
Custody of the dead body of Vitaliana was correctly awarded to her surviving brothers and sisters (the Vargases). Section
1103 of the Revised Administrative Code provides:
Sec. 1103. Persons charged with duty of burial. — The immediate duty of burying the body of a deceased
person, regardless of the ultimate liability for the expense thereof, shall devolve upon the persons
hereinbelow specified:
xxx xxx xxx
(b) If the deceased was an unmarried man or woman, or a child, and left any kin, the
duty of burial shall devolve upon the nearest of kin of the deceased, if they be adults and
within the Philippines and in possession of sufficient means to defray the necessary
expenses.
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. Both petitions are hereby DISMISSED. No Costs.
SO ORDERED.