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Republic of the Philippines Again, on 7 January 1986, President Marcos issued Proclamation No.

2476, further
SUPREME COURT amending Proclamation No. 423, which excluded barangaysLower Bicutan, Upper
Manila Bicutan and Signal Village from the operation of Proclamation No. 423 and declared it
open for disposition under the provisions of Republic Act Nos. (R.A.) 274 and 730.
FIRST DIVISION
At the bottom of Proclamation No. 2476, President Marcos made a handwritten
G.R. No. 187587 June 5, 2013 addendum, which reads:

NAGKAKAISANG MARALITA NG SITIO MASIGASIG, INC., Petitioner, "P.S. This includes Western Bicutan
vs.
MILITARY SHRINE SERVICES - PHILIPPINE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE, (SGD.) Ferdinand E. Marcos"2
DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE, Respondent.
The crux of the controversy started when Proclamation No. 2476 was published in the
x-----------------------x Official Gazette3 on 3 February 1986, without the above-quoted addendum.

G.R. No. 187654 Years later, on 16 October 1987, President Corazon C. Aquino (President Aquino)
issued Proclamation No. 172 which substantially reiterated Proclamation No. 2476, as
WESTERN BICUTAN LOT OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., represented by its published, but this time excluded Lots 1 and 2 of Western Bicutan from the operation
Board of Directors, Petitioner, of Proclamation No. 423 and declared the said lots open for disposition under the
vs. provisions of R.A. 274 and 730.
MILITARY SHRINE SERVICES - PHILIPPINE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE,
DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE, Respondent. Memorandum Order No. 119, implementing Proclamation No. 172, was issued on the
same day.
DECISION
Through the years, informal settlers increased and occupied some areas of Fort
SERENO, CJ.: Bonifacio including portions of the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Thus, Brigadier General
Fredelito Bautista issued General Order No. 1323 creating Task Force Bantay (TFB),
primarily to prevent further unauthorized occupation and to cause the demolition of
Before us are consolidated Petitions for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court illegal structures at Fort Bonifacio.
assailing the Decision1promulgated on 29 April 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. SP No. 97925.
On 27 August 1999, members of petitioner Nagkakaisang Maralita ng Sitio Masigasig,
Inc. (NMSMI) filed a Petition with the Commission on Settlement of Land Problems
THE FACTS (COSLAP), where it was docketed as COSLAP Case No. 99-434. The Petition prayed
for the following: (1) the reclassification of the areas they occupied, covering Lot 3 of
The facts, as culled from the records, are as follows: SWO-13-000-298 of Western Bicutan, from public land to alienable and disposable
land pursuant to Proclamation No. 2476; (2) the subdivision of the subject lot by the
On 12 July 1957, by virtue of Proclamation No. 423, President Carlos P. Garcia Director of Lands; and (3) the Land Management Bureaus facilitation of the
reserved parcels of land in the Municipalities of Pasig, Taguig, Paraaque, Province distribution and sale of the subject lot to its bona fide occupants. 4
of Rizal and Pasay City for a military reservation. The military reservation, then known
as Fort William McKinley, was later on renamed Fort Andres Bonifacio (Fort On 1 September 2000, petitioner Western Bicutan Lot Owners Association, Inc.
Bonifacio). (WBLOAI) filed a Petition-in-Intervention substantially praying for the same reliefs as
those prayed for by NMSMI with regard to the area the former then occupied covering
On 28 May 1967, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (President Marcos) issued Lot 7 of SWO-00-001302 in Western Bicutan.5
Proclamation No. 208, amending Proclamation No. 423, which excluded a certain
area of Fort Bonifacio and reserved it for a national shrine. The excluded area is now Thus, on 1 September 2006, COSLAP issued a Resolution 6 granting the Petition and
known as Libingan ng mga Bayani, which is under the administration of herein declaring the portions of land in question alienable and disposable, with Associate
respondent Military Shrine Services Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (MSS-PVAO). Commissioner Lina Aguilar-General dissenting.7
The COSLAP ruled that the handwritten addendum of President Marcos was an WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY
integral part of Proclamation No. 2476, and was therefore, controlling. The intention of ERRED IN RULING THAT PROCLAMATION NO. 2476 DID NOT INCLUDE ANY
the President could not be defeated by the negligence or inadvertence of others. PORTION OF WESTERN BICUTAN AS THE HANDWRITTEN NOTATION BY
Further, considering that Proclamation PRESIDENT MARCOS ON THE SAID PROCLAMATION WAS NOT PUBLISHED IN
THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE.
No. 2476 was done while the former President was exercising legislative powers, it
could not be amended, repealed or superseded, by a mere executive enactment. II
Thus, Proclamation No. 172 could not have superseded much less displaced
Proclamation No. 2476, as the latter was issued on October 16, 1987 when President WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY
Aquinos legislative power had ceased. ERRED IN RULING THAT PROCLAMATION NO. 172 LIKEWISE EXCLUDED THE
PORTION OF LAND OCCUPIED BY MEMBER OF HEREIN PETITIONER.
In her Dissenting Opinion, Associate Commissioner Lina AguilarGeneral stressed that
pursuant to Article 2 of the Civil Code, publication is indispensable in every case. III
Likewise, she held that when the provision of the law is clear and unambiguous so
that there is no occasion for the court to look into legislative intent, the law must be
taken as it is, devoid of judicial addition or subtraction.8 Finally, she maintained that WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT
the Commission had no authority to supply the addendum originally omitted in the CONSIDERING THAT THE HON. COSLAP HAS BROAD POWERS TO
published version of Proclamation No. 2476, as to do so would be tantamount to RECOMMEND TO THE PRESIDENT >INNOVATIVE MEASURES TO RESOLVE
encroaching on the field of the legislature. EXPEDITIOUSLY VARIOUS LAND CASES.14

Herein respondent MSS-PVAO filed a Motion for Reconsideration,9 which was denied On the other hand, petitioner WBLOAI raises this sole issue:
by the COSLAP in a Resolution dated 24 January 2007.10
WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
MSS-PVAO filed a Petition with the Court of Appeals seeking to reverse the COSLAP HOLDING THAT THE SUBJECT PROPERTY WAS NOT DECLARED ALIENABLE
Resolutions dated 1 September 2006 and 24 January 2007. AND DISPOSABLE BY VIRTUE OF PROCLAMATION NO. 2476 BECAUSE THE
HANDWRITTEN ADDENDUM OF PRESIDENT FERDINAND E. MARCOS
INCLUDING WESTERN BICUTAN IN PROCLAMATION NO. 2476 WAS NOT
Thus, on 29 April 2009, the then Court of Appeals First Division rendered the assailed INCLUDED IN THE PUBLICATION.15
Decision granting MSS-PVAOs Petition, the dispositive portion of which reads:
Both Petitions boil down to the principal issue of whether the Court of Appeals erred
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The in ruling that the subject lots were not alienable and disposable by virtue of
Resolutions dated September 1, 2006 and January 24, 2007 issued by the Proclamation No. 2476 on the ground that the handwritten addendum of President
Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems in COSLAP Case No. 99-434 are Marcos was not included in the publication of the said law.
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. In lieu thereof, the petitions of respondents in
COSLAP Case No. 99-434 are DISMISSED, for lack of merit, as discussed herein.
Further, pending urgent motions filed by respondents are likewise THE COURTS RULING

DENIED. SO ORDERED.11 (Emphasis in the original) We deny the Petitions for lack of merit.

Both NMSMI12 and WBLOAI13 appealed the said Decision by filing their respective Considering that petitioners were occupying Lots 3 and 7 of Western Bicutan (subject
Petitions for Review with this Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. lots), their claims were anchored on the handwritten addendum of President Marcos
to Proclamation No. 2476. They allege that the former President intended to include
all Western Bicutan in the reclassification of portions of Fort Bonifacio as disposable
THE ISSUES public land when he made a notation just below the printed version of Proclamation
No. 2476.
Petitioner NMSMI raises the following issues:
However, it is undisputed that the handwritten addendum was not included when
I Proclamation No. 2476 was published in the Official Gazette.
The resolution of whether the subject lots were declared as reclassified and We hold therefore that all statutes, including those of local application and private
disposable lies in the determination of whether the handwritten addendum of laws, shall be published as a condition for their effectivity, which shall begin fifteen
President Marcos has the force and effect of law. In relation thereto, Article 2 of the days after publication unless a different effectivity date is fixed by the legislature.
Civil Code expressly provides:
Covered by this rule are presidential decrees and executive orders promulgated by
ART. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their the President in the exercise of legislative powers whenever the same are validly
publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided. This Code shall delegated by the legislature or, at present, directly conferred by the Constitution.
take effect one year after such publication. Administrative rules and regulations must also be published if their purpose is to
enforce or implement existing law pursuant also to a valid delegation.
Under the above provision, the requirement of publication is indispensable to give
effect to the law, unless the law itself has otherwise provided. The phrase "unless xxxx
otherwise provided" refers to a different effectivity date other than after fifteen days
following the completion of the laws publication in the Official Gazette, but does not Accordingly, even the charter of a city must be published notwithstanding that it
imply that the requirement of publication may be dispensed with. The issue of the applies to only a portion of the national territory and directly affects only the
requirement of publication was already settled in the landmark case Taada v. Hon. inhabitants of that place. All presidential decrees must be published, including even,
Tuvera,16 in which we had the occasion to rule thus: say, those naming a public place after a favored individual or exempting him from
certain prohibitions or requirements. The circulars issued by the Monetary Board must
Publication is indispensable in every case, but the legislature may in its discretion be published if they are meant not merely to interpret but to "fill in the details" of the
provide that the usual fifteen-day period shall be shortened or extended. An example, Central Bank Act which that body is supposed to enforce.
as pointed out by the present Chief Justice in his separate concurrence in the original
decision, is the Civil Code which did not become effective after fifteen days from its xxxx
publication in the Official Gazette but "one year after such publication." The general
rule did not apply because it was "otherwise provided."
We agree that the publication must be in full or it is no publication at all since its
purpose is to inform the public of the contents of the laws. As correctly pointed out by
It is not correct to say that under the disputed clause publication may be dispensed the petitioners, the mere mention of the number of the presidential decree, the title of
with altogether. The reason is that such omission would offend due process insofar as such decree, its whereabouts (e.g., "with Secretary Tuvera"), the supposed date of
it would deny the public knowledge of the laws that are supposed to govern it. Surely, effectivity, and in a mere supplement of the Official Gazette cannot satisfy the
if the legislature could validly provide that a law shall become effective immediately publication requirement.1wphi1 This is not even substantial compliance. This was
upon its approval notwithstanding the lack of publication (or after an unreasonably the manner, incidentally, in which the General Appropriations Act for FY 1975, a
short period after publication), it is not unlikely that persons not aware of it would be presidential decree undeniably of general applicability and interest, was "published"
prejudiced as a result; and they would be so not because of a failure to comply with it by the Marcos administration. The evident purpose was to withhold rather than
but simply because they did not know of its existence. Significantly, this is not true disclose information on this vital law.
only of penal laws as is commonly supposed. One can think of many non-penal
measures, like a law on prescription, which must also be communicated to the
persons they may affect before they can begin to operate. xxxx

xxxx Laws must come out in the open in the clear light of the sun instead of skulking in the
shadows with their dark, deep secrets. Mysterious pronouncements and rumored
rules cannot be recognized as binding unless their existence and contents are
The term "laws" should refer to all laws and not only to those of general application, confirmed by a valid publication intended to make full disclosure and give proper
for strictly speaking all laws relate to the people in general albeit there are some that notice to the people. The furtive law is like a scabbarded saber that cannot feint, parry
do not apply to them directly. An example is a law granting citizenship to a particular or cut unless the naked blade is drawn. (Emphases supplied)
individual, like a relative of President Marcos who was decreed instant naturalization.
It surely cannot be said that such a law does not affect the public although it
unquestionably does not apply directly to all the people. The subject of such law is a Applying the foregoing ruling to the instant case, this Court cannot rely on a
matter of public interest which any member of the body politic may question in the handwritten note that was not part of Proclamation No. 2476 as published. Without
political forums or, if he is a proper party, even in the courts of justice. In fact, a law publication, the note never had any legal force and effect.
without any bearing on the public would be invalid as an intrusion of privacy or as
class legislation or as an ultra vires act of the legislature. To be valid, the law must Furthermore, under Section 24, Chapter 6, Book I of the Administrative Code, "the
invariably affect the public interest even if it might be directly applicable only to one publication of any law, resolution or other official documents in the Official Gazette
individual, or some of the people only, and not to the public as a whole. shall be prima facie evidence of its authority." Thus, whether or not President Marcos
intended to include Western Bicutan is not only irrelevant but speculative. Simply put,
the courts may not speculate as to the probable intent of the legislature apart from the
words appearing in the law.17 This Court cannot rule that a word appears in the law
when, evidently, there is none. In Pagpalain Haulers, Inc. v. Hon. Trajano, 18 we ruled
that "under Article 8 of the Civil Code, 'judicial decisions applying or interpreting the
laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines.' This
does not mean, however, that courts can create law. The courts exist for interpreting
the law, not for enacting it. To allow otherwise would be violative of the principle of
separation of powers, inasmuch as the sole function of our courts is to apply or
interpret the laws, particularly where gaps or lacunae exist or where ambiguities
becloud issues, but it will not arrogate unto itself the task of legislating." The remedy
sought in these Petitions is not judicial interpretation, but another legislation that
would amend the law to include petitioners' lots in the reclassification.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petitions are hereby DENIED for
lack of merit. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 97925
dated 29 April 2009 is AFFIRMED in toto. Accordingly, this Court's status quo order
dated 17 June 2009 is hereby LIFTED. Likewise, all pending motions to cite
respondent in contempt is DENIED, having been rendered moot. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice, Chairperson

WE CONCUR:

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

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

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC of the sequestered 753,848,312 Class "A" and "B" common shares of San Miguel
Corporation (SMC), registered in the name of Coconut Industry Investment Fund
G.R. Nos. 177857-58 February 11, 2010 (CIIF) Holding Companies (hereunder referred to as SMC Common Shares), into
753,848,312 SMC Series 1 Preferred Shares.
PHILIPPINE COCONUT PRODUCERS FEDERATION, INC. (COCOFED), MANUEL
V. DEL ROSARIO, DOMINGO P. ESPINA, SALVADOR P. BALLARES, JOSELITO Oppositors-intervenors Salonga, et al. anchor their plea for reconsideration on the
A. MORALEDA, PAZ M. YASON, VICENTE A. CADIZ, CESARIA DE LUNA following submission or issues:
TITULAR, and RAYMUNDO C. DE VILLA, Petitioners,
vs. 1
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
JOVITO R. SALONGA, WIGBERTO E. TAADA, OSCAR F. SANTOS, ANA The conversion of the shares is patently disadvantageous to the government and the
THERESIA HONTIVEROS, and TEOFISTO L. GUINGONA III, Oppositors- coconut farmers, given that SMCs option to redeem ensures that the shares will be
Intervenors. bought at less than their market value.
WIGBERTO E. TAADA, OSCAR F. SANTOS, SURIGAO DEL SUR FEDERATION
OF AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES (SUFAC) and MORO FARMERS
ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR (MOFAZS), represented by ROMEO 2
C. ROYANDOYAN; and PAMBANSANG KILUSAN NG MGA SAMAHAN NG
MAGSASAKA (PAKISAMA), represented by VICENTE FABE, Movants- The honorable court overlooks the value of the fact that the government, as opposed
Intervenors. to the current administration, is the winning party in the case below and thus has no
incentive to convert.2
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
The Court is not inclined to reconsider.
G.R. No. 178193
The two (2) issues and the arguments and citations in support thereof are, for the
DANILO B. URUSA, Petitioner, most part and with slight variations, clearly replications of oppositors-intervenors
vs. previous position presented in opposition to COCOFEDs motion for approval of the
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. conversion in question. They have been amply considered, discussed at length, and
found to be bereft of merit.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
Oppositors-intervenors harp on the perceived economic disadvantages and harm that
the government would likely suffer by the approval of the proposed conversion.
G.R. No. 180705 Pursuing this point, it is argued that the Court missed the fact that the current value of
the shares in question is increasing and the "perceived advantages of pegging the
EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR., Petitioner, issue price at PhP 75 are dwindling on a daily basis."3
vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. Oppositors-intervenors concerns, encapsulated above, have been adequately
addressed in some detail in the resolution subject of this motion. For reference we
RESOLUTION reproduce what we wrote:

VELASCO, JR., J.: Salonga, et al. also argue that the proposed redemption is a right to buy the preferred
shares at less than the market value. That the market value of the preferred
Before us is the motion for reconsideration1 of the Resolution of the Court dated shares may be higher than the issue price of PhP 75 per share at the time of
September 17, 2009, interposed by oppositors-intervenors Jovito R. Salonga, redemption is possible. But then the opposite scenario is also possible. Again,
Wigberto E. Taada, Oscar F. Santos, Ana Theresa Hontiveros, and Teofisto L. the Court need not delve into policy decisions of government agencies because of
Guingona III. their expertise and special knowledge of these matters. Suffice it to say that all
indications show that SMC will redeem said preferred shares in the third year and not
later because the dividend rate of 8% it has to pay on said shares is higher than the
As may be recalled, the Court, in its resolution adverted to, approved, upon motion of interest it will pay to the banks in case it simply obtains a loan. When market prices of
petitioner Philippine Coconut Producers Federation, Inc. (COCOFED), the conversion shares are low, it is possible that interest rate on loans will likewise be low. On the
other hand, if SMC has available cash, it would be prudent for it to use such cash to subject of a case before this Court; hence, the need of the Courts approval for the
redeem the shares than place it in a regular bank deposit which will earn lower desired conversion is effected.
interests. It is plainly expensive and costly for SMC to keep on paying the 8%
dividend rate annually in the hope that the market value of the shares will go up Apropos the separation of powers doctrine and its relevance to this case, it may well
before it redeems the shares. Likewise, the conclusion that respondent Republic will be appropriate to again quote the following excerpts from our decision in JG Summit
suffer a loss corresponding to the difference between a high market value and the Holdings, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,6 to wit:
issue price does not take into account the dividends to be earned by the preferred
shares for the three years prior to redemption. The guaranteed PhP 6 per share
dividend multiplied by three years will amount to PhP 18. If one adds PhP 18 to the The role of the Courts is to ascertain whether a branch or instrumentality of the
issue price of PhP 75, then the holders of the preferred shares will have actually Government has transgressed its constitutional boundaries. But the Courts will not
attained a price of PhP 93 which hews closely to the speculative PhP 100 per share interfere with executive or legislative discretion exercised within those boundaries.
price indicated by movants-intervenors.4 (Emphasis added.) Otherwise, it strays into the realm of policy decision-making.

Elaborating on how the value of the sequestered shares will be preserved and and our complementary holding in Ledesma v. Court of Appeals,7 thus:
conserved, we said:
x x x [A] court is without power to directly decide matters over which full discretionary
Moreover, the conversion may be viewed as a sound business strategy to preserve authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government.
and conserve the value of the governments interests in CIIF SMC shares. It is not empowered to substitute its judgment for that of Congress or of the President.
Preservation is attained by fixing the value today at a significant premium over the It may, however, look into the question of whether such exercise has been made in
market price and ensuring that such value is not going to decline despite negative grave abuse of discretion.
market conditions. Conservation is realized thru an improvement in the earnings
value via the 8% per annum dividends versus the uncertain and most likely lower The point, in fine, is: while it may, in appropriate cases, look into the question of
dividends on common shares. whether or not the PCGG acted in grave abuse of discretion, the Court is not
empowered to review and go into the wisdom of the policy decision or choices of
In this recourse, it would appear that oppositors-intervenors seem unable to accept, in PCGG and other executive agencies of the government. This is the limited mandate
particular, the soundness angle of the conversion. But as we have explained, the of this Court. And as we have determined in our Resolution, the PCGG thoroughly
conversion of the shares along with the safeguards attached thereto will ensure that studied and considered the effects of conversion and, based upon such study,
the value of the shares will be preserved. In effect, due to the nature of stocks in concluded that it would best serve the purpose of maintaining and preserving the
general and the prevailing business conditions, the government, through the value of the shares of stock to convert the same. It was proved that the PCGG had
Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), chose not to speculate with exercised proper diligence in reviewing the pros and cons of the conversion. The
the CIIF SMC shares, as prima facie public property, in the hope that there would be efforts PCGG have taken with respect to the desired stock conversion argue against
a brighter economy in the future, and that the value of the shares would increase. We the notion of grave abuse of discretion.1avvphi1
must respect the decision of the executive department, absent a clear showing of
grave abuse of discretion. Anent the second issue that it is the government, as opposed to the current
administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, that is the winning party in the
Next, oppositors-intervenors argue that: case below and has no incentive to convert, the Court finds that this argument has no
merit.
The very reason why the PCGG and the OSG [Office of Solicitor General] are before
this Honorable Court is precisely because, on their own, they have no authority to The current administration, or any administration for that matter, cannot be detached
alter the nature of the sequestered shares. This fact ought not to be novel to this from the government. In the final analysis, the seat of executive powers is located in
Honorable Court because it is the Court itself that established such jurisprudence. the sitting President who heads the government and/or the "administration." Under
Thus, the reference to separation of powers is rather gratuitous. 5 the government established under the Constitution, it is the executive branch, either
pursuant to the residual power of the President or by force of her enumerated powers
under the laws, that has control over all matters pertaining to the disposition of
The Court to be sure agrees with the thesis that, under present state of things, the government property or, in this case, sequestered assets under the administration of
PCGG and the Office of the Solicitor General have no power, by themselves, to the PCGG. Surely, such control is neither legislative nor judicial. As the Court aptly
convert the sequestered shares of stock. That portion, however, about the reference held in Springer v. Government of the Philippine Islands,8 resolving the issue as to
to the separation of powers being gratuitous does not commend itself for which between the Governor-General, as head of the executive branch, and the
concurrence. As may be noted, the reference to the separation of powers concept Legislature may vote the shares of stock held by the government:
was made in the context that the ownership of the subject sequestered shares is the
It is clear that they are not legislative in character, and still more clear that they are reasonably necessary for him to safeguard an interest of his own which no other party
not judicial. The fact that they do not fall within the authority of either of these two on record is interested in protecting." (Emphasis supplied.)
constitutes legal ground for concluding that they do fall within that of the remaining
one among which the powers of the government are divided. SUFAC, MOFAZS, and PAKISAMA all failed to demonstrate that none of the existing
parties, that are similarly situated as they, would not defend their common interest. In
The executive branch, through the PCGG, has given its assent to the conversion and the instant case, COCOFED, the federation of farmers associations recognized by
such decision may be deemed to be the decision of the government. The notion the Philippine Coconut Authority, has actively participated in the instant case,
suggested by oppositors-intervenors that the current administration, thru the PCGG, vigorously defending their rights and those of all the coconut farmers who are
is without power to decide and act on the conversion on the theory that the head of supposedly stockholders of SMC.
the current administration is not government, cannot be sustained for lack of legal
basis. The Court can extend to the instant motion of Taada, et al. the benefit of the liberal
application of procedural rules and entertain the motion and resolve the issues
Likewise, before the Court is the Motion to Admit Motion for Reconsideration with therein. Nonetheless, an examination of the issues raised in the Taada motion for
Motion for Reconsideration [Re: Conversion of SMC Shares] dated October 16, reconsideration would show that the same have been more than adequately
20099 filed by movants-intervenors Wigberto E. Taada; Oscar F. Santos; Surigao del addressed in our Resolution of September 19, 2009.
Sur Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives (SUFAC) and Moro Farmers Association
of Zamboanga del Sur (MOFAZS); and Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahan ng Movants-intervenors contend that the challenged resolution violates the Courts
Magsasaka (PAKISAMA). holding in San Miguel Corporation v. Sandiganbayan, 13 as the conversion of the
sequestered common shares into treasury shares would destroy the character of the
In filing their motion, movants-intervenors explain that: shares of stock.

Messrs. Taada and Santos earlier joined an opposition filed by a group led by former The invocation of San Miguel Corporation is quite misplaced, it being inapplicable
Senate President Jovito R. Salonga, by way of solidarity and without desire or intent since it is not on all fours factually with the instant case.
of trifling with judicial processes as, in fact, the instant Motion for Reconsideration is
filed by herein movants-intervenors, through counsel, Atty. Taada, and also by way San Miguel Corporation involved the sale by the 14 CIIF Companies, through the
of supplement and support to the Opposition earlier filed by Salonga, et al., and the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), of 33,133,266 SMC shares, to the SMC.
Opposition originally intended to be filed by herein Movants-intervenors.10 (Emphasis Before the perfection of the sale, however, the said shares were sequestered. Thus,
supplied.) the SMC group suspended payment of the purchase price of the shares, while the
UCPB group rescinded the sale. Later, the SMC and UCPB groups entered into a
Movants-intervenors argue further that the Court allowed them to intervene in a Compromise Agreement and Amicable Settlement, whereby they undertook to
Resolution in G.R. No. 180702, which also arose from Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. continue with the sale of the subject shares of stock. The parties, over the opposition
0033-F and, thus, should similarly be allowed to intervene in the instant case. 11 of both the Republic and the COCOFED, then moved for the approval of this
agreement by the Sandiganbayan where the case was then pending. Later, UCPB
This motion of Taada, et al. must fail. and the SMC groups implemented their agreement extra-judicially, withdrawing, at the
same time, their petition for the approval of their aforementioned compromise
agreement. Thereafter, the Sandiganbayan issued an Order dated August 5, 1991,
As it were, Atty. Taada and Oscar Santos admit having joined oppositors-intervenors directing the SMC to deliver to the graft court the sequestered SMC shares that it
Salonga, et al. in the latters October 7, 2009 motion for reconsideration. Accordingly, bought from UCPB. This was followed by another Order dated March 18, 1992, for
they should have voiced out all their arguments in the Salonga motion for the delivery to the court of dividends pertaining to the subject SMC shares. It was
reconsideration following the Omnibus Motion Rule. The filing of yet another motion these two delivery Orders that were submitted for the consideration of the Court.
for reconsideration by way of supplement to the Salonga motion for reconsideration is
a clear deviation from the Omnibus Motion Rule and cannot be countenanced.
An examination of the facts of San Miguel Corporation would show the factual
dissimilarities of such case to the instant controversy. First, in San Miguel
Even the joinder of SUFAC, MOFAZS, and PAKISAMA with co-intervenors Taada Corporation, the Court did not even pass upon the validity of the Compromise
and Santos will not cure the flawed motion. In Heirs of Geronimo Restrivera v. De Agreement, while, in the instant case, the Court approved the conversion. Second, in
Guzman,12 the Court explained why: the instant case, court approval was sought before the execution of the conversion,
while in San Miguel Corporation, no court approval was sought for the Compromise
Indeed, the right of intervention should be accorded to any one having title to property Agreement. And third, in San Miguel Corporation, both the Republic and COCOFED
"which is the subject of litigation, provided that his right will be substantially affected opposed the Compromise Agreement, while, in the instant case, they both agreed to
by the direct legal operation and effect of the decision, and provided also that it is
the conversion. Clearly, San Miguel Corporation finds no application to the instant Circular No. 89-296, which covers only the disposition of government property, cannot
case. plausibly be made to govern the conversion of the SMC shares in question, assuming
for the nonce that the challenged conversion is equivalent to disposition. As explained
Moreover, our ruling in San Miguel Corporation did not per se forbid the conversion of in the September 17, 2009 Resolution, the sequestered assets are akin to property
sequestered common shares into preferred/treasury shares. As we held thereat, the subject of preliminary attachment or receivership. As stated in the assailed resolution,
changes that are unacceptable are those "of any permanent character that will alter the Court is authorized to allow the conversion of the subject shares under Rule 57,
their being sequestered shares and, therefore, in custodia legis, that is to say, under Sec. 11, in relation to Rule 59, Sec. 6 of the Rules of Court. And as may be recalled,
the control and disposition of this Court." Here, the SMC Series 1 Preferred Shares the Court, in Palm Avenue Realty Development Corporation v. PCGG,16 allowed the
will also be sequestered in exchange for the common shares originally sequestered. sale of sequestered properties without an auction sale given that, as here, the
Thus, the approval of the conversion of the subject SMC shares in the instant case sequestered assets would not have fetched the correct market price. In the instant
does not run counter, as movants insist otherwise, to the ruling in San Miguel case, the same is also true. It is highly doubtful that anyone other than SMC would
Corporation. purchase the sequestered shares at market value.

Movants-intervenors also assail the conversion of the SMC shares from common to Finally, Taada, et al. posit the view that the conversion of shares needs the
preferred on another angle, thus: acquiescence of the 14 CIIF companies.

Simply, there is no right to vote: There is no greater alteration of the very nature of a The contention is untenable.
common share. In a very real sense, therefore, a common share with all its rights, is
reduced to a mere promissory note; worse, an unsecured and conditional promissory It should be remembered that the SMC shares allegedly owned by the CIIF
note, the returns on which is dependent on available retained earnings and the over- companies are sequestered assets under the control and supervision of the PCGG
all viability of SMC.14 pursuant to Executive Order No. 1, Series of 1986. Be that as it may, it is the duty of
the PCGG to preserve the sequestered assets and prevent their dissipation. In the
The assault is without merit. exercise of its powers, the PCGG need not seek or obtain the consent or even the
acquiescence of the sequestered assets owner with respect to any of its acts
intended to preserve such assets. Otherwise, it would be well-nigh impossible for
Again, by their very nature, shares of common stock, while giving the stockholder the PCGG to perform its duties and exercise its powers under existing laws, for the owner
right to vote, do not guarantee that the vote of the stockholder will prevail. That is non of the sequestered assets will more often than not oppose or resist PCGGs actions if
sequitur. This we explained in the Resolution subject of reconsideration: their consent is a condition precedent. The act of PCGG of proposing the conversion
of the sequestered SMC shares to Series 1 Preferred Shares was clearly an exercise
The mere presence of four (4) PCGG nominated directors in the SMC Board does not of its mandate under existing laws, where the consent of the CIIF Companies is
mean it can prevent board actions that are viewed to fritter away the company assets. rendered unnecessary.
Even under the status quo, PCGG has no controlling sway in the SMC Board, let
alone a veto power at 24% of the stockholdings. In relinquishing the voting rights, the Additionally, the above contention has been rendered moot with the filing on October
government, through the PCGG, is not in reality ceding control. 26, 2009 of the Manifestation dated October 23, 2009. Attached to such Manifestation
is the Secretarys Certificate of the 14 CIIF companies approving the conversion of
Moreover, PCGG has ample powers to address alleged strategies to thwart recovery the SMC Common Shares into Series 1 Preferred Shares.17
of ill-gotten wealth. Thus, the loss of voting rights has no significant effect on PCGGs
function to recover ill-gotten wealth or prevent dissipation of sequestered As a final consideration, the Court also takes note of the Motion for Leave to
assets.151avvphi1 Intervene and to File and Admit Attached Motion for Partial Reconsideration dated
October 5, 2009 and the Motion for Partial Reconsideration dated October 6, 2009
Movants-intervenors likewise challenge the legality of the conversion in light of filed by movant-intervenor UCPB. UCPB claims to have direct interest in the SMC
Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 89-296, which provides that the divestment shares subject of the instant case, being the statutory administrator, pursuant to
or disposal of government property shall be undertaken primarily through public Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1468, of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund and as
auction. an investor in the CIIF companies.

The postulation has no merit, for there is, in the first place, no divestment or disposal UCPB argues that, as the statutory administrator of the CIIF, the proceeds of the net
of the SMC shares. The CIIF companies shall remain the registered owners of the dividend earnings of, and/or redemption proceeds from, the Series 1 Preferred
SMC Series 1 Preferred Shares after conversion, although the shares are still subject Shares of SMC should be deposited in escrow with it rather than, as directed by the
of sequestration. To state the obvious, these SMC shares are not yet government Court in its September 17, 2009 Resolution, with the Development Bank of the
assets as ownership thereof are still to be peremptorily determined. Hence, COA Philippines (DBP) or the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).
Concededly, UCPB is the administrator of the CIIF, which invested in the subject
Series 1 Preferred Shares of SMC. UCPBs legal authority as such administrator does
not, however, include its being made the exclusive depository bank of the proceeds of
dividends, interest, or income from the investments solely with UCPB. To be sure, the
relevant decrees, PD Nos. 775, 961, and 1468, did not constitute UCPBthe bank
acquired for the coconut farmers under PD 755to be the sole depositary of the
proceeds of the returns of the investments authorized under Sec. 9, Art. III of PD
1468.

Besides, since the subject sequestered SMC shares are under custodia legis, the
Court has certain control over them and their fruits. Nonetheless, the PCGG, having
administrative control over the subject sequestered shares pending resolution of the
actual ownership thereof, possesses discretion, taking into account the greater
interest of the government and the farmers, to decide on where to deposit on escrow
the net dividend earnings of, and/or redemption proceeds from, the Series 1 Preferred
Shares of SMC. The depository bank may be the DBP/LBP or the UCPB.

WHEREFORE, the Court resolves to DENY for lack of merit the: (1) Motion for
Reconsideration dated October 7, 2009 filed by oppositors-intervenors Jovito R.
Salonga, Wigberto E. Taada, Oscar F. Santos, Ana Theresa Hontiveros, and
Teofisto L. Guingona III; and (2) Motion to Admit Motion for Reconsideration with
Motion for Reconsideration [Re: Conversion of SMC Shares] dated October 16, 2009
filed by movants-intervenors Wigberto E. Taada, Oscar F. Santos, SUFAC,
MOFAZS, represented by Romeo C. Royandoyan, and PAKISAMA, represented by
Vicente Fabe.

The Court PARTIALLY GRANTS the Motion for Leave to Intervene and to File and
Admit Attached Motion for Partial Reconsideration dated October 5, 2009, and the
Motion for Partial Reconsideration dated October 6, 2009 filed by movant-intervenor
UCPB.

The Court AMENDS its Resolution dated September 17, 2009 to give to the PCGG
the discretion in depositing on escrow the net dividend earnings on, and/or
redemption proceeds from, the Series 1 Preferred Shares of SMC, either with the
Development Bank of the Philippines/Land Bank of the Philippines or with the United
Coconut Planters Bank, having in mind the greater interest of the government and the
coconut farmers.

SO ORDERED.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION the corporate name of the petitioner as well as Article 2 thereof referring to
the principal purpose for which the petitioner was formed.
G.R. No. 164026 December 23, 2008
On March 19, 1996, the petitioner requested for an official opinion/ruling
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, petitioner, from the SEC on the validity and propriety of the assessment for application
vs. for extension of its corporate term.
GMA NETWORK, INC., respondent.
Consequently, the respondent SEC, through Associate Commissioner Fe
DECISION Eloisa C. Gloria, on April 18, 1996, issued its ruling upholding the validity of
the questioned assessment, the dispositive portion of which states:
TINGA, J.:
"In light of the foregoing, we believe that the questioned assessment is
in accordance with law. Accordingly, you are hereby required to
Petitioner Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) assails the Decision1
dated comply with the required filing fee."
February 20, 2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 68163, which directed
that SEC Memorandum Circular No. 1, Series of 1986 should be the basis for
computing the filing fee relative to GMA Network, Inc.s (GMAs) application for the An appeal from the aforequoted ruling of the respondent SEC was
amendment of its articles of incorporation for purposes of extending its corporate subsequently taken by the petitioner on the ground that the assessment of
term. filing fees for the petitioners application for extension of corporate term
equivalent to 1/10 of 1% of the authorized capital stock plus 20% thereof is
not in accordance with law.
The undisputed facts as narrated by the appellate court are as follows:
On September 26, 2001, following three (3) motions for early resolution filed
On August 19, 1995, the petitioner, GMA NETWORK, INC., (GMA, for by the petitioner, the respondent SEC En Banc issued the assailed order
brevity), a domestic corporation, filed an application for collective approval of dismissing the petitioners appeal, the dispositive portion of which provides
various amendments to its Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws with the as follows:
respondent Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC, for brevity). The
amendments applied for include, among others, the change in the corporate
name of petitioner from "Republic Broadcasting System, Inc." to "GMA WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the instant Appeal is hereby dismissed.
Network, Inc." as well as the extension of the corporate term for another fifty
(50) years from and after June 16, 2000. SO ORDERED.2

Upon such filing, the petitioner had been assessed by the SECs Corporate In its petition for review3 with the Court of Appeals, GMA argued that its application
and Legal Department a separate filing fee for the application for extension for the extension of its corporate term is akin to an amendment and not to a filing of
of corporate term equivalent to 1/10 of 1% of its authorized capital stock plus new articles of incorporation. It further averred that SEC Memorandum Circular No. 2,
20% thereof or an amount of P1,212,200.00. Series of 1994, which the SEC used as basis for assessing P1,212,200.00 as filing
fee for the extension of GMAs corporate term, is not valid.
On September 26, 1995, the petitioner informed the SEC of its intention to
contest the legality and propriety of the said assessment. However, the The appellate court agreed with the SECs submission that an extension of the
petitioner requested the SEC to approve the other amendments being corporate term is a grant of a fresh license for a corporation to act as a juridical being
requested by the petitioner without being deemed to have withdrawn its endowed with the powers expressly bestowed by the State. As such, it is not an
application for extension of corporate term. ordinary amendment but is analogous to the filing of new articles of incorporation.

On October 20, 1995, the petitioner formally protested the assessment However, the Court of Appeals ruled that Memorandum Circular No. 2, Series of 1994
amounting to P1,212,200.00 for its application for extension of corporate is legally invalid and ineffective for not having been published in accordance with law.
term. The challenged memorandum circular, according to the appellate court, is not merely
an internal or interpretative rule, but affects the public in general. Hence, its
On February 20, 1996, the SEC approved the other amendments to the publication is required for its effectivity.
petitioners Articles of Incorporation, specifically Article 1 thereof referring to
The appellate court denied reconsideration in a Resolution4 dated June 9, 2004.
In its Memorandum5 dated September 6, 2005, the SEC argues that it issued the Several years after, the SEC issued Memorandum Circular No. 2, Series of 1994,
questioned memorandum circular in the exercise of its delegated legislative power to imposing new fees and charges and deleting the maximum filing fee set forth in SEC
fix fees and charges. The filing fees required by it are allegedly uniformly imposed on Circular No. 1, Series of 1986, such that the fee for the filing of articles of
the transacting public and are essential to its supervisory and regulatory functions. incorporation became 1/10 of 1% of the authorized capital stock plus 20% thereof but
The fees are not a form of penalty or sanction and, therefore, require no publication. not less thanP500.00.

For its part, GMA points out in its Memorandum,6 dated September 23, 2005, that A reading of the two circulars readily reveals that they indeed pertain to different
SEC Memorandum Circular No. 1, Series of 1986 refers to the filing fees for amended matters, as GMA points out. SEC Memorandum Circular No. 1, Series of 1986 refers
articles of incorporation where the amendment consists of extending the term of to the filing fee for the amendment of articles of incorporation to extend corporate life,
corporate existence. The questioned circular, on the other hand, refers only to filing while Memorandum Circular No. 2, Series of 1994 pertains to the filing fee for articles
fees for articles of incorporation. Thus, GMA argues that the former circular, being the of incorporation. Thus, as GMA argues, the former circular, being squarely applicable
one that specifically treats of applications for the extension of corporate term, should and, more importantly, being more favorable to it, should be followed.
apply to its case.
What this proposition fails to consider, however, is the clear directive of R.A. No. 3531
Assuming that Memorandum Circular No. 2, Series of 1994 is applicable, GMA avers to impose the same fees for the filing of articles of incorporation and the filing of
that the latter did not take effect and cannot be the basis for the imposition of the fees amended articles of incorporation to reflect an extension of corporate term. R.A. No.
stated therein for the reasons that it was neither filed with the University of the 3531 provides an unmistakable standard which should guide the SEC in fixing and
Philippines Law Center nor published either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper imposing its rates and fees. If such mandate were the only consideration, the Court
of general circulation as required under existing laws. would have been inclined to rule that the SEC was correct in imposing the filing fees
as outlined in the questioned memorandum circular, GMAs argument
It should be mentioned at the outset that the authority of the SEC to collect and notwithstanding.
receive fees as authorized by law is not in question.7 Its power to collect fees for
examining and filing articles of incorporation and by-laws and amendments thereto, However, we agree with the Court of Appeals that the questioned memorandum
certificates of increase or decrease of the capital stock, among others, is recognized. circular is invalid as it does not appear from the records that it has been published in
Likewise established is its power under Sec. 7 of P.D. No. 902-A to recommend to the the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. Executive Order No.
President the revision, alteration, amendment or adjustment of the charges which it is 200, which repealed Art. 2 of the Civil Code, provides that "laws shall take effect after
authorized to collect. fifteen days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette
or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless it is otherwise
The subject of the present inquiry is not the authority of the SEC to collect and provided."
receive fees and charges, but rather the validity of its imposition on the basis of a
memorandum circular which, the Court of Appeals held, is ineffective. In Taada v. Tuvera,10 the Court, expounding on the publication requirement, held:

Republic Act No. 3531 (R.A. No. 3531) provides that where the amendment consists We hold therefore that all statutes, including those of local application and
in extending the term of corporate existence, the SEC "shall be entitled to collect and private laws, shall be published as a condition for their effectivity, which shall
receive for the filing of the amended articles of incorporation the same fees collectible begin fifteen days after publication unless a different effectivity date is fixed
under existing law as the filing of articles of incorporation." 8 As is clearly the import of by the legislature.
this law, the SEC shall be entitled to collect and receive the same fees it assesses
and collects both for the filing of articles of incorporation and the filing of an amended Covered by this rule are presidential decrees and executive orders
articles of incorporation for purposes of extending the term of corporate existence. promulgated by the President in the exercise of legislative powers whenever
the same are validly delegated by the legislature, or, at present, directly
The SEC, effectuating its mandate under the aforequoted law and other pertinent conferred by the Constitution. Administrative rules and regulations must also
laws,9 issued SEC Memorandum Circular No. 1, Series of 1986, imposing the filing be published if their purpose is to enforce or implement existing law pursuant
fee of 1/10 of 1% of the authorized capital stock but not less than P300.00 nor more also to a valid delegation.
than P100,000.00 for stock corporations, and 1/10 of 1% of the authorized capital
stock but not less than P200.00 nor more than P100,000.00 for stock corporations Interpretative regulations and those merely internal in nature, that is,
without par value, for the filing of amended articles of incorporation where the regulating only the personnel of the administrative agency and not the
amendment consists of extending the term of corporate existence. public, need not be published. Neither is publication required of the so-called
letters of instructions issued by administrative superiors concerning the rules
or guidelines to be followed by their subordinates in the performance of their
duties.11

The questioned memorandum circular, furthermore, has not been filed with the Office
of the National Administrative Register of the University of the Philippines Law Center
as required in the Administrative Code of 1987.12

In Philsa International Placement and Services Corp. v. Secretary of Labor and


Employment,13 Memorandum Circular No. 2, Series of 1983 of the Philippine
Overseas Employment Administration, which provided for the schedule of placement
and documentation fees for private employment agencies or authority holders, was
struck down as it was not published or filed with the National Administrative Register.

The questioned memorandum circular, it should be emphasized, cannot be construed


as simply interpretative of R.A. No. 3531. This administrative issuance is an
implementation of the mandate of R.A.

No. 3531 and indubitably regulates and affects the public at large. It cannot,
therefore, be considered a mere internal rule or regulation, nor an interpretation of the
law, but a rule which must be declared ineffective as it was neither published nor filed
with the Office of the National Administrative Register.

A related factor which precludes consideration of the questioned issuance as


interpretative in nature merely is the fact the SECs assessment amounting
to P1,212,200.00 is exceedingly unreasonable and amounts to an imposition. A filing
fee, by legal definition, is that charged by a public official to accept a document for
processing. The fee should be just, fair, and proportionate to the service for which the
fee is being collected, in this case, the examination and verification of the documents
submitted by GMA to warrant an extension of its corporate term.

Rate-fixing is a legislative function which concededly has been delegated to the SEC
by R.A. No. 3531 and other pertinent laws. The due process clause, however, permits
the courts to determine whether the regulation issued by the SEC is reasonable and
within the bounds of its rate-fixing authority and to strike it down when it arbitrarily
infringes on a persons right to property.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. SP No. 68163, dated February 20, 2004, and its Resolution, dated June 9, 2004,
are AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice
Republic of the Philippines incapable to render military service as a result of his having sworn allegiance to a
SUPREME COURT foreign country. It was also mentioned that termination of retirement benefits of
Baguio City pensioner of the AFP could be done pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decree
(PD) No. 16388which provides that the name of a retiree who loses his Filipino
THIRD DIVISION citizenship shall be removed from the retired list and his retirement benefits
terminated upon such loss. It being in consonance with the policy consideration that
all retirement laws inconsistent with the provisions of PD No. 1638 are repealed and
G.R. No. 189649 April 20, 2015 modified accordingly.

ADORACION CARO LINO (spouse and in substitution of the deceased On August 24, 2006, Jeremias filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon
JEREMIAS A. CAROLINO),Petitioner, City, a Petition for Mandamus9against Gen. Generoso Senga, as Chief of Staff of the
vs. AFP, Brig. Gen. Fernando Zabat, as Chief of the AFP Finance Center, Comm.
GEN. GENEROSO SENGA, as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Reynaldo Basilio, as Chief of the AFP- GHQ Management and Fiscal Office, and
Philippines (AFP); BRIG GEN. FERNANDO ZABAT, as Chief of the AFP Finance Comm. Emilio Marayag, Pension and Gratuity Management Officer, Pension and
Center; COMMO. REYNALDO BASILIO, as Chief of the AFP-GHQ Management Gratuity Management Center, AFP Finance Center, seeking reinstatement of his
and Fiscal Office; and COMMO. EMILIO MARAYAG, Pension and Gratuity name in the list of the AFP retired officers, resumption of payment of his retirement
Officer, Pension and Gratuity Management Center, AFP Finance benefits under RA No. 340, and the reimbursement of all his retirement pay and
Center, Respondents. benefits which accrued from March 5, 2005 up to the time his name is reinstated and,
thereafter, with claim for damages and attorney's fees. The case was docketed as
DECISION Civil Case No. Q-06-58686, and raffled off to Branch 220.

PERALTA, J.: On February 26, 2007, the RTC rendered its Decision10 granting the petition for
mandamus, the dispositive portion of which reads:
Before us is a petition for review under Rule 45 seeking to reverse and set aside the
Decision1 dated May 25, 2009 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering General Hermogenes Esperon,
103502 and the Resolution2 dated September 10, 2009 denying reconsideration Jr., as Chief of Staff of the AFP, Brigadier General Fernando Zabat, as the
thereof. Commanding Officer of the AFP Finance Center, Commodore Reynaldo Basilio, as
Chief of the AFP-GHQ Management and Fiscal Office, and Captain Theresa M.
The factual and legal antecedents are as follows: Nicdao, as Pension and Gratuity Officer of the Pension and Gratuity Management
Center, or any of their respective successors and those taking instructions from them
as agents or subordinates, to:
On December 1, 1976, Jeremias A. Carolino, petitioner's husband, Retired3 from the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with the rank of Colonel under General Order
No. 1208 dated November 29, 1976, pursuant to the provisions of Sections 1(A) and a. immediately reinstate the name of petitioner in the list of retired AFP
10 of Republic Act (RA) No. 340,4 as amended. He started receiving his monthly Officers, and to resume payment of his retirement benefits under RA 340;
retirement pay in the amount of P18,315.00 in December 1976 until the same was and
withheld by respondents in March 2005. On June 3, 2005, Jeremias wrote a
letter5 addressed to the AFP Chief of Staff asking for the reasons of the withholding of b. release to [petitioner] all retirement benefits due him under RA 340 which
his retirement pay. In a letter reply,6 Myrna F. Villaruz, LTC (FS) PA, Pension and accrued to him from March 2005 continuously up to the time his name is
Gratuity Officer of the AFP Finance Center, informed Jeremias that his loss of Filipino reinstated in the list of AFP retired officers.11
citizenship caused the deletion of his name in the alpha list of the AFP Pensioners
Payroll effective March 5, 2005; and that he could avail of re-entitlement to his The RTC found that the issue for resolution is the applicability of RA No. 340 and PD
retirement benefits and the restoration of his name in the AFP Pensioners' Master list No. 1638 upon Jeremias' retirement benefits. It found that he retired as a
Payroll by complying with the requirements prescribed under RA No. 9225, or the commissioned officer of the AFP in 1976; thus, RA No. 340 is the law applicable in
Dual Citizenship Act. determining his entitlement to his retirement benefits and not PD No. 1638 which was
issued only in 1979. Article 4 of the Civil Code provides that "laws shall have no
It appeared that the termination of Jeremias' pension was done pursuant to retroactive effect unless the contrary is provided." PD No. 1638 does not provide for
Disposition Form7 dated October 29, 2004,which was approved by the Chief of Staff such retroactive application. Also, it could not have been the intendment of PD No.
and made effective in January 2005. In the said Disposition Form, the AFP Judge 1638 to deprive its loyal soldiers of a monthly pension during their old age especially
Advocate General opined that under the provisions of Sections 4, 5, and 6 of RA No. where, as here, the right had been vested to them through time. RA No. 340 does not
340, retired military personnel are disqualified from receiving pension benefits once provide that the loss of Filipino citizenship would terminate one's retirement benefits;
and that PD No. 1638 does not reduce whatever benefits that any person has already Petitioner correctly availed of the remedy of mandamus to compel the reinstatement
been receiving under existing law. of his pension and benefits from the AFP under RA 340 as PD 1638 was not
applicable to him. Petitioner contends that her husband's retirement from the active
Respondents sought reconsideration,12 but the RTC denied the same in an service in 1976 was pursuant to the provisions of RA No. No. 340 as PD No. 1638
Order13 dated May 25, 2007, the decretal portion of which reads: was not yet in existence then, and there was nothing in RA No. 340 that disqualifies a
retired military personnel from receiving retirement benefits after acquiring foreign
citizenship. The concept of retirement benefits is such that one is entitled to them for
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Motion for Reconsideration is services already rendered and not for those to be made at a future time. Retirement
hereby DENIED, considering that the questioned decision has not yet attained its benefits due petitioner's husband under RA No. 340, is an acquired right which
finality. The Motion for Execution in the meantime is hereby DENIED. 14 cannot be taken away by a subsequent law. PD No. 1638 does not expressly provide
for its retroactive application. Respondents, being officers of the AFP tasked to
Aggrieved, respondents elevated the case to the CA. After the submission of the implement the provisions of RA No. 340 have neglected their function thereunder by
parties' respective memoranda, the case was submitted for decision. delisting petitioner's husband as a retiree, thus, mandamus is proper.

Jeremias died on September 30, 200715 and was substituted by his wife, herein In his Comment, the Solicitor General argues that PD No. 1638 applies to all military
petitioner. On May 25, 2009, the CA granted respondents' appeal. The dispositive personnel in the service of the AFP whether active or retired; hence, it applies
portion of the CA decision reads: retroactively to petitioner's husband. Even when a retiree is no longer in the active
service, his being a Filipino still makes him a part of the Citizen Armed Forces; that
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is GRANTED. The appealed whether a military personnel retires under the provisions of RA No. 340 or under PD
decision is REVOKED and SET ASIDE.16 No. 1638, he is still in the service of the military and/or the State only that he is
retired, thus, they should not be treated differently upon the loss of Filipino
citizenship. He argues when there is an irreconcilable conflict between the two laws of
In so ruling, the CA found that while it is true that Jeremias retired in 1976 under the different vintages, i.e., RA No. 340 and PD No. 1638, the latter enactment prevails.
provisions of RA No. 340, as amended, which does not contain any provision anent
cessation or loss of retirement benefits upon acquiring another citizenship, PD No.
1638, which was signed in 1979, effectively repealed RA No. 340, as amended. The Solicitor General argues that mandamus will not issue to enforce a right to
Section 27 of PD No. 1638, which provides that the name of a retiree who loses his compel compliance with a duty which is questionable or over which a substantial
Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired list and his retirement benefits doubt exists. In this case, petitioner's husband does not have a well-defined, clear
terminated upon such loss, was correctly made applicable to Jeremias' retirement and certain legal right to continuously receive retirement benefits after becoming an
benefits. Logic dictates that since Jeremias had already renounced his allegiance to American citizen. Likewise, the AFP does not have a clear and imperative duty to
the Philippines, he cannot now be compelled by the State to render active service and grant the said benefits considering that Section 27 of PD No. 1638 provides that the
to render compulsory military service when the need arises. The CA found that for the name of a retiree who loses his Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired
writ of mandamus to lie, it is essential that Jeremias should have a clear legal right to list and his retirement benefits terminated upon such loss.
the thing demanded and it must be the imperative duty of respondents to perform the
act required which petitioner failed to show; thus, mandamus will not lie. Petitioner filed her reply thereto.

Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated September We find merit in the petition.
10, 2009.
Petitioner's husband retired in1976 under RA No. 340. He was already receiving his
Hence, this petition raising the following: monthly retirement benefit in the amount of P18,315.00 since December 1976 until it
was terminated in March 2005. Section 5, RA No. 340 provides:
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR
IN RENDERING THE ASSAILED DECISION AND RESOLUTION WHICH SET Sec. 5. Officers and enlisted men placed in the retired list shall be subject to the rules
ASIDE AND REVERSED THE 26 FEBRUARY 2007 DECISION OF THE QC RTC and articles of war and to trial by court-martial for any breach thereof. At any time said
BECAUSE: officers and enlisted men may be called to active service by the President. Refusal on
the part of any officer or enlisted man to perform such services shall terminate his
PD 1638 should not have been applied and cannot be used against petitioner as her right to further participation in the benefits of this Act provided he resides in the
husband's retirement and pension were granted to him by the AFP under RA 340 Philippines and is physically fit for service. Such fitness for service shall be
which was not superseded by PD 1638, a later statute. determined by applicable regulations.
The afore-quoted provision clearly shows how a retiree's retirement benefits may be Secondly, it has been held that before a right to retirement benefits or pension vests
terminated, i.e., when the retiree refuses to perform active service when called to do in an employee, he must have met the stated conditions of eligibility with respect to
so provided that (1) the retiree resides in the Philippines and (2) is physically fit for the nature of employment, age, and length of service.22Undeniably, petitioner's
service. There is no other requirement found in the law which would be the reason for husband had complied with the conditions of eligibility to retirement benefits as he
the termination of a retiree's retirement benefits. Petitioner's husband was never was then receiving his retirement benefits on a monthly basis until it was terminated.
called to perform active service and refused to do so, however, his retirement benefit Where the employee retires and meets the eligibility requirements, he acquires a
was terminated. The reason for such termination was his loss of Filipino citizenship vested right to the benefits that is protected by the due process clause. 23 It is only
based on Section 27 of PD No. 1638, to wit: upon retirement that military personnel acquire a vested right to retirement
benefits.24 Retirees enjoy a protected property interest whenever they acquire a right
Section 27. Military personnel retired under Sections 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 shall be to immediate payment under pre-existing law.25
carried in the retired list of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The name of a retiree
who loses his Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired list and his In Ayog v. Cusi,26 we expounded the nature of a vested right, thus:
retirement benefits terminated upon such loss.
"A right is vested when the right to enjoyment has become the property of some
We find that the CA erred in applying PD No. 1638 to the retirement benefits of particular person or persons as a present interest" (16 C.J.S. 1173).1wphi1 It is "the
petitioner's husband. privilege to enjoy property legally vested, to enforce contracts, and enjoy the rights of
property conferred by the existing law" (12 C.J.S. 955, Note 46, No. 6) or "some right
Firstly, PD No. 1638 was signed by then President Ferdinand Marcos on September or interest in property which has become fixed and established and is no longer open
10, 1979. Under Article 4 of the Civil Code, it is provided that laws shall have no to doubt or controversy" (Downs vs. Blount 170 Fed. 15, 20, cited in Balboa vs.
retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided. It is said that the law looks to the Farrales, 51 Phil. 498, 502).
future only and has no retroactive effect unless the legislator may have formally given
that effect to some legal provisions;17 that all statutes are to be construed as having The due process clause prohibits the annihilation of vested rights. "A state may not
only prospective operation, unless the purpose and intention of the legislature to give impair vested rights by legislative enactment, by the enactment or by the subsequent
them a retrospective effect is expressly declared or is necessarily implied from the repeal of a municipal ordinance, or by a change in the constitution of the State,
language used; and that every case of doubt must be resolved against retrospective except in a legitimate exercise of the police power" (16 C.J.S. 1177-78).
effect.18 These principles also apply to amendments of statutes.
It has been observed that, generally, the term "vested right" expresses the concept of
PD No. 1638 does not contain any provision regarding its retroactive application, nor present fixed interest, which in right reason and natural justice should be protected
the same may be implied from its language. In fact, Section 36 of PD No. 1638 clearly against arbitrary State action, or an innately just and imperative right which an
provides that the decree shall take effect upon its approval. As held in Parreo v. enlightened free society, sensitive to inherent and irrefragable individual rights,
COA,19 there is no question that PD No. 1638, as amended, applies prospectively. cannot deny (16 C.J.S. 1174, Note 71, No. 5, citing Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines,
Since PD No. 1638, as amended, is about the new system of retirement and Inc. vs. Rosenthal, 192 Atl. 2nd 587).27
separation from service of military personnel, it should apply to those who were in the
service at the time of its approval.20 Conversely, PD No. 1638 is not applicable to Petitioner's husband acquired vested right to the payment of his retirement benefits
those who retired before its effectivity in 1979. The rule is familiar that after an act is which must be respected and cannot be affected by the subsequent enactment of PD
amended, the original act continues to be in force with regard to all rights that had No. 1638 which provides that loss of Filipino citizenship terminates retirement
accrued prior to such amendment.21 benefits. Vested rights include not only legal or equitable title to the enforcement of a
demand, but also an exemption from new obligations after the right has vested. 28
Moreover, Section 27 of PD No. 1638 specifically provides for the retirees to whom
the law shall be applied, to wit: In fact, Sections 33 and 35 of PD No.1638 recognize such vested right, to wit:

Section 27. Military personnel retired under Sections 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 shall be Section 33. Nothing in this Decree shall be construed in any manner to reduce
carried in the retired list of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The name of a retiree whatever retirement and separation pay or gratuity or other monetary benefits which
who loses his Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the retired list and his any person is heretofore receiving or is entitled to receive under the provisions of
retirement benefits terminated upon such loss. (emphasis supplied) existing law.

Notably, petitioner's husband did not retire under those above-enumerated Sections xxxx
of PD No. 1638 as he retired under RA No. 340.
Section. 35. Except those necessary to give effect to the provisions of this Decree their jurisdiction before the same may be elevated to the courts of justice for
and to preserve the rights granted to retired or separated military personnel, all laws, review.34 However, the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies need not be
rules and regulations inconsistent with the provisions of this Decree are hereby adhered to when the question is purely legal.35 This is because issues of law cannot
repealed or modified accordingly. be resolved with finality by the administrative officer.36 Appeal to the administrative
officer would only be an exercise in futility.37 Here, the question raised is purely legal,
Section 33 of PD No. 1638 is clear that the law has no intention to reduce or to i.e., what law should be applied in the payment of retirement benefits of petitioner's
revoke whatever retirement benefits being enjoyed by a retiree at the time of its husband. Thus, there was no need to exhaust all administrative remedies before a
passage. Hence, Section 35 provides for an exception to what the decree repealed or judicial relief can be sought.
modified, i.e., except those necessary to preserve the rights granted to retired or
separated military personnel. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated May 25, 2009 and the
Resolution dated September 10, 2009 of the Court of Appeals are hereby
We also find that the CA erred in finding that mandamus will not lie. REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated February 26, 2007 of the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 220, is AFFIRMED.
Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court lay down under what circumstances petition
for mandamus may be filed, to wit: SO ORDERED.

SEC. 3. Petition for mandamus. When any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically Associate Justice
enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes
another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled,
and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of
law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court,
alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding
the respondent, immediately or at some other time to be specified by the court, to do
the act required to be done to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the
damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the
respondent.

A writ of mandamus can be issued only when petitioners legal right to the
performance of a particular act which is sought to be compelled is clear and
complete. A clear legal right is a right which is indubitably granted by law or is
inferable as a matter of law.29 A doctrine well-embedded in our jurisprudence is that
mandamus will issue only when the petitioner has a clear legal right to the
performance of the act sought to be compelled and the respondent has an imperative
duty to perform the same.30 The remedy of mandamus lies to compel the
performance of a ministerial duty.31 A purely ministerial act or duty is one that an
officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in
obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of its
own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done. 32 If the law imposes a
duty upon a public officer, and gives him the right to decide how or when the duty
shall be performed, such duty is discretionary and not ministerial. 33

The petition for mandamus filed by petitioner's husband with the RTC was for the
payment of his terminated retirement benefits, which has become vested, and being a
ministerial duty on the part of the respondents to pay such claim, mandamus is the
proper remedy to compel such payment.

The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies calls for resort first to the
appropriate administrative authorities in the resolution of a controversy falling under
Republic of the Philippines WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the complaint and
SUPREME COURT defendants counterclaim; and plaintiff, being the successor-in-interest of the
Manila subdivision owner, Wilfredo S. Ignacio, is ordered to issue the corresponding transfer
certificate of title to defendant Ambrosio Rotairo pursuant to the provisions of PD [No.]
THIRD DIVISION 957.

G.R. No. 173632 September 29, 2014 SO ORDERED.6

AMBROSIO ROTAIRO (substituted by his spouse MARIA RONSA YRO The RTC ruled that the transaction between Ignacio & Co. and Rotairo was covered
ROTAIRO, and his children FELINA ROTAIRO, ERLINDA ROTAIRO CRUZ, by Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 957.7 Rovira, as "successor-in-interest of Wilfredo
EUDOSIA ROTAIRO CRIZALDO, NIEVES ROTAIRO TUBIG, REMEDIOS S.Ignacio [and Victor Alcantara] was well aware of the condition of the property which
ROTAIRO MACAHILIG, FELISA ROTAIRO LEGASPI, JOSEFINA ROTAIRO she bought from the Pilipinas Bank, because she lives near the land, and at the time
TORREVILLAS, and CRISENCIO R. ROTAIRO, MARCIANA TIBAY, EUGENIO she purchased it she was aware of the existing houses or structures on the
PUNZALAN, and VICENTE DEL ROSARIO, Petitioners, land."8 She was, therefore, not entitled to the relief prayed for in her complaint.
vs.
ROVIRA ALCANTARA and VICTOR ALCANTARA, Respondents. On appeal, the CA set aside the RTC decision and ordered the turnover of
possession of the property to Rovira. The dispositive portion of the assailed CA
DECISION Decision dated July 21, 2005 provides:

REYES, J.: WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is SET ASIDE. The Heirs of Ambrosio
Rotairo and their assigns, are ORDERED to turn over possession of Lot C-1 to Rovira
Alcantara. Third party defendants, William [sic] Ignacio and Victor Alcantara, are
For review is the Decision1 dated July 21, 2005 and Resolution2 dated July 7, 2006 of ORDERED to return the purchase price of P10,000.00 to the Heirs of Ambrosio
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 58455, which set aside the Rotairo, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum until finality of this decision, and at
Decision3 dated December 27, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Antipolo, the rate of 12% per annum thereafter until fully paid.
Rizal, Branch 71 in Civil Case No. 672.
SO ORDERED.9
Civil Case No. 672 was filed by the respondent Rovira Alcantara (Rovira) for the
recovery of possession of a parcel of land in Barangay San Andres, Cainta, Rizal,
measuring 2,777 square meters and originally titled under Transfer Certificate of Title Petitioners sought reconsideration, which was denied by the CA in the assailed
(TCT) No. 481018. Said property was formerly owned by Roviras father, Victor C. Resolution10 dated July 7, 2006.
Alcantara (Alcantara), and Alfredo C. Ignacio (Ignacio), who mortgaged the property
to Pilipinas Bank and Trust Company (Pilipinas Bank) in 1968. Two years after, the In granting possession in favor of Rovira, the CA held that P.D. No. 957 is not
property was parcelled out by Alcantara and Ignacio, through their firm Wilfredo S. applicable since the mortgagewas constituted prior to the sale to Rotairo. According
Ignacio & Company (Ignacio & Co.), and separately sold to different buyers. One of to the CA, Section 1811 of P.D. No. 957 protects innocent lot buyers, and where there
the buyers was Ambrosio Rotairo (Rotairo) who bought a 200-square meter portion is a prior registered mortgage, the buyer purchases it with knowledge of the
on installment basis. Rotairo constructed his house on the property identified as Lot mortgage. In the caseof Rotairo, P.D. No. 957 does not confer "more" rights to an
C-1, and after completing payments, a Deed of Absolute Sale was executed on unregistered buyer like him, as against a registered prior mortgagee like Pilipinas
September 25, 1979 in his favor by Ignacio & Co.4 Bank and its buyer, Rovira.12 Hence, the present petition.

In the meantime, Alcantara and Ignacio defaulted in their loan obligations causing Petitioners raise the following issues:
Pilipinas Bank to foreclose the mortgage on the entire property. Without redemption
being made by Alcantara and Ignacio, title was consolidated in the name of Pilipinas 1. Whether or not, notwithstanding that the subject land is subdivision lot,
Bank, being the highest bidder during the auction sale. Pilipinas Bank then sold the Ambrosio Rotairo (father of the Petitioners), [a] buyer and builder in good
property in a Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 6, 1975 to Rovira, who happens to be faith should suffer, while the seller in bad faith Victor Alcantara should be
Alcantaras daughter.5 benefited by his malicious acts.

In 1988, Rovira filed her Amended Complaint in Civil Case No. 672 for recovery of
possession and damages.After trial, the RTC dismissed Civil Case No. 672. The
Decision dated December 27, 1996 provides for the following dispositive portion:
2. Whether or not, Ambrosio Rotairo (father of the Petitioners), a buyer and existence of the mortgage, and consequently, for the latter to exercise their option to
builder in good faith should suffer while the seller in bad faith Victor pay the instalments directly to the mortgagee.
Alcantara should be benefited by his malicious acts.13
Nevertheless, such concomitant obligation of the developer under Section 21 did not
Petitioners insist on the applicabilityof P.D. No. 957 in this case, and that the arise in this case. It must be noted that at the time of the enactment of P.D. No. 957 in
transaction between Rotairo and Ignacio & Co. should fall within the protection of the 1976 and asearly as 1974, Pilipinas Bank had already foreclosed the mortgage and
law. On the other hand, Rovira principally relies on the prior registration of the bought the properties in the foreclosure sale. There was, thus, no mortgage to speak
mortgage and the sale in her favor vis--visthe petitioners unregistered transactions. of such that Rotairo should be notified thereof so that he could properly exercise his
option to pay the instalments directly to Pilipinas Bank.
The first issue then that must be resolved is whether P.D. No. 957 is applicable in this
case. But the more crucial issue before the Court is who, as between the petitioners Rovira is not a buyer in good faith
and Rovira, has better right to the property in dispute?
Notwithstanding the preceding discussion, the Court finds that Rovira cannot claim a
Retroactive application of P.D. No. 957 better right to the property because she is not a buyer in good faith. Initially, it must be
stated that the determination of whether one is a buyer in good faith is a factual issue,
The retroactive application of P.D. No. 957 to transactions entered into prior to its which generally cannotbe determined by the Court in a petition for review filed under
enactment in 1976 is already settled.1wphi1 In Eugenio v. Exec. Sec. Drilon,14 which Rule 45.17 The rule, nonetheless, admits of exceptions, someof which are when the
involved a land purchase agreement entered into in 1972, the Court stated that the judgment of the CA is based on a misapprehension offacts or when the CA
unmistakeable intent of the legislature is to have P.D. No. 957 operate overlooked undisputed facts which, if properly considered, would justify a different
retrospectively. Moreover, the specific terms of P.D. No. 957 provide for its retroactive conclusion.18 A review of this case shows that the CA failed to appreciate the
effect even to contracts and transactions entered into prior to its enactment. In relevance of certain undisputed facts, thus giving rise to its erroneous conclusion that
particular, Section 21 of P.D. No. 957 provides: Rovira has a better right to the property in dispute.

Sec. 21. Sales Prior to Decree. In cases of subdivision lots or condominium units sold Rovira contended that the registered mortgage between Pilipinas Bank and Alcantara
or disposed of prior to the effectivity of this Decree, it shall be incumbent upon the and Ignacio is superior to the unregistered contract to sell between Ignacio & Co. and
owner or developer of the subdivision or condominium project to complete Rotairo, which was sustained by the CA. The CA applied Section 50 of Act No. 496 or
compliance with his or its obligations as provided in the preceding section within two the Land Registration Act and ruled that since the sale to Rotairo was unregistered
years from the date of this Decree unless otherwise extended by the Authority or and subsequent to the registered mortgage, the latter was obligated to respect the
unless an adequate performance bond isfiled in accordance with Section 6 hereof. foreclosure and eventual sale of the property in dispute, among others.19

Failure of the owner or developer to comply with the obligations under this and the Indeed, the rule is that as "[b]etween two transactions concerning the same parcel of
preceding provisions shall constitute a violation punishable under Section 38 and 39 land, the registered transaction prevails over the earlier unregistered right." 20 This is
ofthis Decree. (Emphasis ours) in accord with Section 50 of the Land Registration Act,21 which provides:

In this case, the contract to sell between Rotairo and Ignacio & Co. was entered into Sec. 50. An owner of registered land may convey, mortgage, lease, charge, or
in 1970, and the agreement was fully consummated with Rotairos completion of otherwise deal with the same as fully as if it had not been registered. He may use
payments and the execution of the Deed of Sale in his favor in 1979. Clearly, P.D. forms of deeds, mortgages[,] leases, or other voluntary instruments like those now in
No. 957 is applicable in this case. use and sufficient in law for the purpose intended. But no deed, mortgage, lease, or
other voluntary instrument, except a will purporting to convey or affect registered land,
shall take effect as a conveyance or bind the land, but shall operate only as a contract
It was error for the CA to rule thatthe retroactive application of P.D. No. 957 is between the parties and as evidence of authority to the clerk or register of deeds to
"warranted only where the subdivision is mortgaged after buyers have purchased make registration. The act of registration shall be the operative act to convey and
individual lots."15 According to the CA, the purpose of Section 18 requiring notice of affect the land, and in all cases under this Act the registration shall be made inthe
the mortgage to the buyers is to give the buyer the option to pay the instalments office of register of deeds for the province or provinces or city where the land lies.
directly to the mortgagee; hence, if the subdivision is mortgaged before the lots are (Emphasis ours)
sold, then there are no buyers to notify.16 What the CA overlooked is that Section 21
requires the owner or developer of the subdivision project to complete compliance
with its obligations within two years from 1976.The two-year compliance provides the Section 51 of the Land Registration Act further states that "[e]very conveyance,
developer the opportunity to comply with its obligation to notify the buyers of the mortgage, lease, lien, attachment, order, decree, instrument, or entry affecting
registered land x x x, if registered x x x be notice to all persons from the time of such
registeringx x x." "The principal purpose of registration is merely to notify other "[I]t is a settled rule that the Land Registration Act protects only holders of title in good
persons not parties to a contract that a transaction involving the property has been faith, and does not permit its provision to be used as a shield for the commission of
entered into."22 Thus, it has been held that "registration in a publicregistry creates fraud, or as a means to enrich oneself at the expense of others. " 36
constructive notice to the whole world."23 Moreover, "[a] person dealing with
registered land may safely rely on the correctness of the certificate of title issued Under different circumstances, the prior registration of the mortgage between
therefor, and he is not required to go beyond the certificate to determine the condition Pilipinas Bank and Alcantara and Ignacio, and Rovira's subsequent purchase of the
of the property."24 subject property would have been valid and binding, and could have defeated
Rotairo's unregistered claim over it. But given Rovira's privity with her father Victor C.
The rule, however, is not without recognized exceptions. "The conveyance shall not Alcantara and the fact that she had actual knowledge of the disposition of the
be valid against any person unless registered, except (1) the grantor, (2) his heirs and property and Rotairo's possession thereof, her acquisition of the property cannot be
devisees, and (3) third persons having actual notice or knowledge upheld.
thereof."25 Moreover, "when the party has actual knowledge of facts and
circumstances that would impel a reasonably cautious man to make such inquiry or WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated July 21, 2005 and
when the purchaser has knowledge of a defect or the lack of title in his vendor or of Resolution dated July 7, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 58455 are
sufficient facts to induce a reasonably prudent man to inquire into the status of the SET ASIDE. The Decision dated December 27, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court of
title of the property in litigation,26 he cannot find solace in the protection afforded by a Antipolo, Rizal, Branch 71, dismissing Civil Case No. 672 is REINSTATED.
prior registration. Neither can such person be considered an innocent purchaser for
value nor a purchaser in good faith.27
SO ORDERED.
In this case, two factors work against Rovira as a buyer in good faith. One, she
cannot be considered a third person for purposes of applying the rule. Rovira does BIENVENIDO L. REYES
not deny that she is the daughter and an heir of Victor C. Alcantara, one of the parties Associate Justice
to the contract to sell (and the contract of sale) executed in favor of Rotairo. "The
vendors heirs are his privies."28 Based on such privity, Rovira is charged with
constructive knowledge of prior dispositions or encumbrances affecting the subject
property made by her father.29 The fact that the contract to sell was unregistered
became immaterial and she is, therefore, bound by the provisions of the contract to
sell and eventually, the contract of sale, executed by her father in favor of Rotairo.

Further, more than the chargeof constructive knowledge, the surrounding


circumstances of this case show Roviras actual knowledgeof the disposition of the
subject property and Rotairos possession thereof. It is undisputed that after the
contract to sell was executed in April 1970, Rotairo immediately secured a mayors
permit in September 28, 1970 for the construction of his residential house on the
property.30 Rotairo, and subsequently, his heirs, has been residing on the property
since then. Rovira, who lives only fifty (50) meters away from the subject property, in
fact, knew that there were "structures built on the property." 31 Rovira, however, claims
that "she did not bother to inquire as to the legitimacy of the rights of the occupants,
because she was assured by the bank of its title to the property." 32 But Rovira cannot
rely solely on the title and assurances of Pilipinas Bank; it was incumbent upon her to
look beyond the title and make necessary inquiries because the bank was not in
possession of the property. "Where the vendor is not in possession of the property,
the prospective vendees are obligated to investigate the rights of one in
possession."33 A purchaser cannot simply close his eyes to facts which should put a
reasonable man on guard,34 and thereafter claim that he acted in good faith under the
belief that there was no defect in the title of the vendor.35 Hence, Rovira cannot claim
a right better than that of Rotairo' s as she is not a buyer in good faith.
Republic of the Philippines On April 25, 1997, the NHA General Manager forwarded the SSHA resolution to
SUPREME COURT Romulo Q. Fabul, Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the HLURB in
Manila Quezon City.8

SECOND DIVISION In a letter dated May 29, 1997, the Regional Director of the Expanded NCR Field
Office, HLURB, opined that the open space requirement of P.D. No. 957, as amended
G.R. No. 149417 June 4, 2004 by P.D. No. 1216, was not applicable to Santos Subdivision.9

GLORIA SANTOS DUEAS, petitioner, SSHA then filed a petition/motion for reconsideration,10 docketed as HLURB Case
vs. No. REM-070297-9821, which averred among others that: (1) P.D. No. 957 should
SANTOS SUBDIVISION HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, respondent. apply retroactively to Santos Subdivision, notwithstanding that the subdivision plans
were approved in 1966 and (2) Gloria Santos Dueas should be bound by the verbal
promise made by her late father during his lifetime that an open space would be
DECISION provided for in Phase III of Santos Subdivision, the lots of which were at that time
already for sale.
QUISUMBING, J.:
Petitioner denied any knowledge of the allegations of SSHA. She stressed that she
For review on certiorari is the Decision1 dated December 29, 2000, of the Court of was not a party to the alleged transactions, and had neither participation nor
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 51601, setting aside the Decision2 of the Housing and involvement in the development of Santos Subdivision and the sale of the
Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) in HLURB Case No. REM-A-980227-0032 subdivisions lots. As affirmative defenses, she raised the following: (a) It was her late
which earlier affirmed the Decision3 of the HLURB-NCR Regional Field Office in father, Cecilio J. Santos, who owned and developed the subdivision, and she was
HLURB Case No. REM-070297-9821. Said Regional Field Office dismissed the neither its owner nor developer; (b) that this suit was filed by an unauthorized entity
petition of herein respondent Santos Subdivision Homeowners Association (SSHA) against a non-existent person, as SSHA and Santos Subdivision are not juridical
seeking to require herein petitioner, Gloria Santos Dueas, to provide for an open entities, authorized by law to institute or defend against actions; (c) that P.D. No. 957
space in the subdivision for recreational and community activities. In its assailed cannot be given retroactive effect to make it applicable to Santos Subdivision as the
decision, the CA remanded the case to the HLURB for determination of a definitive law does not expressly provide for its retroactive applicability; and (d) that the present
land area for open space.4 Petitioner assails also the Court of Appeals petition is barred by laches.
Resolution5 dated July 31, 2001, denying her motion for reconsideration.
On January 14, 1998, HLURB-NCR disposed of HLURB Case No. REM-070297-
The facts of this case are as follows: 9821 in this wise:

Petitioner Gloria Santos Dueas is the daughter of the late Cecilio J. Santos In view of the foregoing, the complaint is hereby dismissed.
who, during his lifetime, owned a parcel of land with a total area of 2.2
hectares located at General T. De Leon, Valenzuela City, Metro Manila. In It is So Ordered.11
1966, Cecilio had the realty subdivided into smaller lots, the whole forming
the Cecilio J. Santos Subdivision (for brevity, Santos Subdivision). The then
Land Registration Commission (LRC) approved the project and the National In dismissing the case, the HLURB-NCR office ruled that while SSHA failed to
Housing Authority (NHA) issued the required Certificate of Registration and present evidence showing that it is an association duly organized under Philippine law
License to Sell. At the time of Cecilios death in 1988, there were already with capacity to sue, nonetheless, the suit could still prosper if viewed as a suit filed
several residents and homeowners in Santos Subdivision. by all its members who signed and verified the petition. However, the petition failed to
show any cause of action against herein petitioner as (1) there is no evidence
showing Santos-Dueas as the owner/developer or successor-in-interest of Cecilio
Sometime in 1997, the members of the SSHA submitted to the petitioner a resolution Santos, who was the owner/developer and sole proprietor of Santos Subdivision; (2)
asking her to provide within the subdivision an open space for recreational and other the LRC-approved subdivision plan was bereft of any proviso indicating or identifying
community activities, in accordance with the provisions of P.D. No. 957,6 as amended an open space, as required by P.D. No. 957, as amended, hence there was no legal
by P.D. No. 1216.7 Petitioner, however, rejected the request, thus, prompting the basis to compel either Cecilio or his daughter Santos-Dueas, as his purported
members of SSHA to seek redress from the NHA. successor, to provide said space; and (3) the alleged verbal promise of the late
Cecilio Santos was inadmissible as evidence under the dead mans statute.12
SSHA then appealed the NCR offices ruling to the HLURB Board of Commissioners. Hence, this petition grounded on the following assignment of errors:
The latter body, however, affirmed the action taken by the HLURB-NCR office,
concluding thus: I. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW BY
TAKING COGNIZANCE OF RESPONDENTS PETITION (WHICH ASSAILS
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for Review is hereby THE DECISION OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE HLURB)
DISMISSED and the decision of the Office below is hereby AFFIRMED IN WHEN JURISDICTION THEREON IS WITH THE OFFICE OF THE
TOTO. PRESIDENT, AS CLEARLY MANDATED BY SEC. 2, RULE XVIII OF THE
1996 RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE HOUSING AND LAND USE
SO ORDERED.13 REGULATORY BOARD.

The HLURB Board decreed that there was no basis to compel the petitioner to II. IT WAS GRAVE ERROR FOR THE COURT OF APPEALS TO HAVE
provide an open space within Santos Subdivision, inasmuch as the subdivision plans ASSUMED JURISDICTION OVER THE PETITION BELOW WHEN
approved on July 8, 1966, did not provide for said space and there was no law RESPONDENTS CLEARLY FAILED TO EXHAUST THE ADMINISTRATIVE
requiring the same at that time. It further ruled that P.D. No. 957 could not be given REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO THEM UNDER THE LAW.
retroactive effect in the absence of an express provision in the law. Finally, it found
the action time-barred since it was filed nine (9) years after the death of Cecilio. The III. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT
Board noted that SSHA sought to enforce an alleged oral promise of Cecilio, which RESPONDENT SANTOS SUBDIVISION HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION,
should have been done within the six-year prescriptive period provided for under A NON-REGISTERED ORGANIZATION, LACKED THE LEGAL
Article 114514 of the Civil Code. PERSONALITY TO SUE.

Dissatisfied, respondent sought relief from the Court of Appeals via a petition for IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT HOLDING
review under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The petition, docketed as THAT RESPONDENT SANTOS SUBDIVISION HOMEOWNERS
CA-G.R. SP No. 51601, was decided by the appellate court in this manner: ASSOCIATION HAS NO CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST PETITIONER;
NEITHER WAS SANTOS SUBDIVISION, A NON-ENTITY, POSSESSED
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED--and the decision, dated January WITH CAPACITY TO BE SUED NOR IS PETITIONER GLORIA SANTOS-
20, 1999, of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) in DUEAS A PROPER PARTY TO THE CASE, THE LATTER NOT BEING
HLURB Case No. REM-A-980227-0032 is hereby REVERSED and SET THE OWNER OR DEVELOPER OF SANTOS SUBDIVISION.
ASIDE. Accordingly, this case is ordered REMANDED to the HLURB for the
determination of the definitive land area that shall be used for open space in V. THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN SUBSTITUTING
accordance with law and the rules and standards prescribed by the HLURB. ITS FINDINGS WITH THAT OF THE ADJUDICATION BOARD AND
No pronouncement as to costs. BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE HLURB WHEN THEIR DECISION
IS BASED ON SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE AND NO GRAVE ABUSE OF
SO ORDERED.15 DISCRETION CAN BE ATTRIBUTED TO THEM.

In finding for SSHA, the appellate court relied upon Eugenio v. Exec. Sec. VI. THE COURT OF APPEALS DEVIATED FROM THE EXISTING LAW
Drilon,16 which held that while P.D. No. 957 did not expressly provide for its AND JURISPRUDENCE WHEN IT RULED THAT P.D. 957 HAS
retroactive application, nonetheless, it can be plainly inferred from its intent that it was RETROACTIVE APPLICATION -- WHEN THE LAW ITSELF DOES NOT
to be given retroactive effect so as to extend its coverage even to those contracts PROVIDE FOR ITS RETROACTIVITY AND THE EXISTING
executed prior to its effectivity in 1976. The Court of Appeals also held that the action JURISPRUDENCE THEREON CLEARLY PRONOUNCED THAT IT HAS
was neither barred by prescription nor laches as the obligation of a subdivision NO RETROACTIVE APPLICATION. TO PROVIDE RETROACTIVITY TO
developer to provide an open space is not predicated upon an oral contract, but P.D. 957 WOULD CAUSE IMPAIRMENT OF VESTED RIGHTS.
mandated by law, hence, an action may be brought within ten (10) years from the
time the right of action accrues under Article 114417 of the Civil Code. Moreover, the VII. WHILE AS A GENERAL RULE, THE FACTUAL FINDINGS OF THE
equitable principle of laches will not apply when the claim was filed within the COURT OF APPEALS IS BINDING ON THE SUPREME COURT, THE
reglementary period. SAME IS NOT TRUE WHEN THE FORMERS CONCLUSION IS BASED
ON SPECULATION, SURMISES AND CONJECTURES, THE INFERENCE
Petitioner duly moved for reconsideration, which the Court of Appeals denied on July MADE IS MANIFESTLY MISTAKEN OR ABSURD, THERE IS GRAVE
31, 2001. ABUSE OF DISCRETION, JUDGMENT IS BASED ON
MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS CONTRARY TO THOSE OF THE
ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY CONCERNED, AND IT WENT BEYOND THE in a civil action. Article 4425 of the Civil Code enumerates the various classes of
ISSUES OF THE CASE AND THE SAME IS CONTRARY TO THE juridical persons. Under said Article, an association is considered a juridical person if
ADMISSIONS OF BOTH PARTIES.18 the law grants it a personality separate and distinct from that of its members.26 The
records of the present case are bare of any showing by SSHA that it is an association
To our mind, the foregoing may be reduced into the following issues: (1) the duly organized under Philippine law. It was thus an error for the HLURB-NCR Office
applicability of the doctrine of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies; (2) the legal to give due course to the complaint in HLURB Case No. REM-070297-9821, given
capacity of respondent to sue the petitioner herein; and (3) the retroactivity of P.D. the SSHAs lack of capacity to sue in its own name. Nor was it proper for said agency
No. 957, as amended by P.D. No. 1216. to treat the complaint as a suit by all the parties who signed and verified the
complaint. The members cannot represent their association in any suit without valid
and legal authority. Neither can their signatures confer on the association any legal
On the first issue, the petitioner contends that the filing of CA-G.R. SP No. 51601 was capacity to sue. Nor will the fact that SSHA belongs to the Federation of Valenzuela
premature as SSHA failed to exhaust all administrative remedies. Petitioner submits Homeowners Association, Inc., suffice to endow SSHA with the personality and
that since Section 1,19 Rule 43 of the 1997 Rule of Civil Procedure does not mention capacity to sue. Mere allegations of membership in a federation are insufficient and
the HLURB, the respondent should have appealed the decision of the HLURB Board inconsequential. The federation itself has a separate juridical personality and was not
in HLURB Case No. REM-A-980227-0032 to the Office of the President prior to impleaded as a party in HLURB Case No. REM-070297-9821 nor in this case. Neither
seeking judicial relief. In other words, it is the decision of the Office of the was it shown that the federation was authorized to represent SSHA. Facts showing
President,20 and not that of the HLURB Board, which the Court of Appeals may the capacity of a party to sue or be sued or the authority of a party to sue or be sued
review. in a representative capacity or the legal existence of an organized association of
persons that is made a party, must be averred.27 Hence, for failing to show that it is a
We find petitioners contentions bereft of merit. The principle of non-exhaustion of juridical entity, endowed by law with capacity to bring suits in its own name, SSHA is
administrative remedies is, under the factual circumstances of this case, inapplicable. devoid of any legal capacity, whatsoever, to institute any action.
While this Court has held that before a party is allowed to seek intervention of the
courts, it is a pre condition that he avail himself of all administrative processes Anent the third issue, the petitioner ascribes error to the appellate court for holding
afforded him,21 nonetheless, said rule is not without exceptions.22 The doctrine is a that P.D. No. 957 has retroactive application. She points out that there is no
relative one and is flexible depending on the peculiarity and uniqueness of the factual retroactivity provision in the said decree. Hence, it cannot be applied retroactively
and circumstantial settings of each case.23 pursuant to Article 428 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. The same holds true for
P.D. No. 1216, which amended Section 31 of P.D. No. 957 and imposed the open
In the instant case, the questions posed are purely legal, namely: (1) whether the space requirement in subdivisions. Petitioner stresses that P.D. No. 1216 only took
respondent had any right to demand an open space and the petitioner had any legal effect on October 14, 1977 or more than ten (10) years after the approval of the
obligation to provide said open space within Santos Subdivision under P.D. No. 957, subdivision plans of Cecilio Santos.
as amended by P.D. No. 1216, and (2) whether the action had already prescribed
under Article 1145 of the Civil Code. Moreover, the Court of Appeals found that SSHA Although it may seem that this particular issue, given our ruling on the first issue
had sought relief from the Office of the President, but the latter forwarded the case to regarding the lack of capacity of SSHA to bring any action in its name, is now moot
the HLURB. In view of the foregoing, we find that in this particular case, there was no and academic, we are constrained to still address it.
need for SSHA to exhaust all administrative remedies before seeking judicial relief.
This petition was brought to us not by respondent SSHA but by Gloria Santos Dueas
On the second issue, the petitioner claims that respondent SSHA failed to present who assails the appellate courts finding that our ruling in Eugenio v. Exec. Sec.
any evidence showing that it is a legally organized juridical entity, authorized by law to Drilon29 allows P.D. No. 957, as amended, to apply retroactively.
sue or be sued in its own name. Thus, pursuant to Section 1, Rule 324 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure, it has no legal capacity to file this suit before the HLURB
and the Court of Appeals. We find merit in petitioners contention.

SSHA counters that it has the capacity to sue as an association, since it is a member Eugenio v. Exec. Sec. Drilon is inapplicable. It is not on all fours with the instant case.
of the Federation of Valenzuela Homeowners Association, Inc., which is registered The issue in Eugenio was the applicability of P.D. No. 957 to purchase agreements
with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the alternative, the individual on lots entered into prior to its enactment where there was non-payment of
members of SSHA who signed both the resolution and the complaint in this case amortizations, and failure to develop the subdivision. We held therein that although
may, as natural persons, pursue the action. P.D. No. 957 does not provide for any retroactive application, nonetheless, the intent
of the law of protecting the helpless citizens from the manipulations and machinations
of unscrupulous subdivision and condominium sellers justify its retroactive application
There is merit in petitioners contention. Under Section 1, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules to contracts entered into prior to its enactment. Hence, we ruled that the non-payment
of Court, only natural or juridical persons, or entities authorized by law may be parties
of amortizations was justified under Section 23 of the said decree in view of the failure
of the subdivision owner to develop the subdivision project.

Unlike Eugenio, non-development of the subdivision is not present in this case, nor
any allegation of non-payment of amortizations. Further, we have held in a
subsequent case30 that P.D. No. 957, as amended, cannot be applied retroactively in
view of the absence of any express provision on its retroactive application. Thus:

Article 4 of the Civil Code provides that laws shall have no retroactive
effect, unless the contrary is provided. Thus, it is necessary that an express
provision for its retroactive application must be made in the law. There being
no such provision in both P.D. Nos. 957 and 1344, these decrees cannot be
applied to a situation that occurred years before their promulgation.

At any rate, our principal concern in this case is Section 31 of P.D. No. 957,
an amendment introduced by P.D. No. 1216. Properly, the question should
focus on the retroactivity of P.D. No. 1216 and not P.D. No. 957 per se.

We have examined the text of P.D. No. 1216 and nowhere do we find any clause or
provision expressly providing for its retroactive application. Basic is the rule that no
statute, decree, ordinance, rule or regulation shall be given retrospective effect unless
explicitly stated.31 Hence, there is no legal basis to hold that P.D. No. 1216 should
apply retroactively.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of


the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 51601 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
The Decision of the HLURB dated January 20, 1999 sustaining that of its Regional
Office is AFFIRMED and REINSTATED. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 158298 August 11, 2010 The petitioner seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration, but the RTC denied the
motion for reconsideration on November 14, 2000.
ISIDRO ABLAZA, Petitioner,
vs. Ruling of the Court of Appeals
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
The petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA), assigning the lone error that:
DECISION
The trial court erred in dismissing the petition for being filed out of time and that the
BERSAMIN, J.: petitioner is not a party to the marriage.

Whether a person may bring an action for the declaration of the absolute nullity of the In its decision dated January 30, 2003,4 however, the CA affirmed the dismissal order
marriage of his deceased brother solemnized under the regime of the old Civil Code of the RTC, thus:
is the legal issue to be determined in this appeal brought by the petitioner whose
action for that purpose has been dismissed by the lower courts on the ground that he, While an action to declare the nullity of a marriage considered void from the
not being a party in the assailed marriage, had no right to bring the action. beginning does not prescribe, the law nonetheless requires that the same action must
be filed by the proper party, which in this case should be filed by any of the parties to
Antecedents the marriage. In the instant case, the petition was filed by Isidro Ablaza, a brother of
the deceased-spouse, who is not a party to the marriage contracted by Cresenciano
On October 17, 2000, the petitioner filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Ablaza and Leonila Honato. The contention of petitioner-appellant that he is
Cataingan, Masbate a petition for the declaration of the absolute nullity of the considered a real party in interest under Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
marriage contracted on December 26, 1949 between his late brother Cresenciano Procedure, as he stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, is
Ablaza and Leonila Honato.1 The case was docketed as Special Case No. 117 simply misplaced. Actions for annulment of marriage will not prosper if persons other
entitled In Re: Petition for Nullification of Marriage Contract between Cresenciano than those specified in the law file the case.
Ablaza and Leonila Honato; Isidro Ablaza, petitioner.
Certainly, a surviving brother of the deceased spouse is not the proper party to file the
The petitioner alleged that the marriage between Cresenciano and Leonila had been subject petition. More so that the surviving wife, who stands to be prejudiced, was not
celebrated without a marriage license, due to such license being issued only on even impleaded as a party to said case.
January 9, 1950, thereby rendering the marriage void ab initio for having been
solemnized without a marriage license. He insisted that his being the surviving WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error therefrom, the Orders now on appeal are
brother of Cresenciano who had died without any issue entitled him to one-half of the hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner-appellant.
real properties acquired by Cresenciano before his death, thereby making him a real
party in interest; and that any person, himself included, could impugn the validity of SO ORDERED.5
the marriage between Cresenciano and Leonila at any time, even after the death of
Cresenciano, due to the marriage being void ab initio.2
Hence, this appeal.
Ruling of the RTC
Issues
On October 18, 2000, 3 the RTC dismissed the petition, stating:
The petitioner raises the following issues:
Considering the petition for annulment of marriage filed, the Court hereby resolved to
DISMISS the petition for the following reasons: 1) petition is filed out of time (action I.
had long prescribed) and 2) petitioner is not a party to the marriage (contracted
between Cresenciano Ablaza and Leonila Nonato on December 26, 1949 and WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION OF THIS HONORABLE COURT OF
solemnized by Rev. Fr. Eusebio B. Calolot). APPEALS IN CA-G.R. CV. NO. 69684 AFFIRMING THE ORDER OF
DISMISSAL OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 49 AT
CATAINGAN, MASBATE IN SPECIAL PROCEEDING NO. 117 IS IN 2. Those filed vis--vis marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil
ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE LAWS AND JURISPRUDENCE; Code and, those celebrated under the regime of the Family Code prior to
March 15, 2003.
II.
Considering that the marriage between Cresenciano and Leonila was contracted on
WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF December 26, 1949, the applicable law was the old Civil Code, the law in effect at the
APPEALS IN CA-G.R. CV NO. 69684 (SHOULD) BE REVERSED BASED time of the celebration of the marriage. Hence, the rule on the exclusivity of the
ON EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 209 AND EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE. parties to the marriage as having the right to initiate the action for declaration of nullity
of the marriage under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC had absolutely no application to the
petitioner.
The issues, rephrased, boil down to whether the petitioner is a real party in interest in
the action to seek the declaration of nullity of the marriage of his deceased brother.
The old and new Civil Codes contain no provision on who can file a petition to declare
the nullity of a marriage, and when. Accordingly, in Nial v. Bayadog,12 the children
Ruling were allowed to file after the death of their father a petition for the declaration of the
nullity of their fathers marriage to their stepmother contracted on December 11, 1986
The petition is meritorious. due to lack of a marriage license. There, the Court distinguished between a void
marriage and a voidable one, and explained how and when each might be impugned,
A valid marriage is essential in order to create the relation of husband and wife and to thuswise:
give rise to the mutual rights, duties, and liabilities arising out of such relation. The
law prescribes the requisites of a valid marriage. Hence, the validity of a marriage is Jurisprudence under the Civil Code states that no judicial decree is necessary in
tested according to the law in force at the time the marriage is contracted.6 As a order to establish the nullity of a marriage. "A void marriage does not require a judicial
general rule, the nature of the marriage already celebrated cannot be changed by a decree to restore the parties to their original rights or to make the marriage void but
subsequent amendment of the governing law.7 To illustrate, a marriage between a though no sentence of avoidance be absolutely necessary, yet as well for the sake of
stepbrother and a stepsister was void under the Civil Code, but is not anymore good order of society as for the peace of mind of all concerned, it is expedient that the
prohibited under the Family Code; yet, the intervening effectivity of the Family Code nullity of the marriage should be ascertained and declared by the decree of a court of
does not affect the void nature of a marriage between a stepbrother and a stepsister competent jurisdiction." "Under ordinary circumstances, the effect of a void marriage,
solemnized under the regime of the Civil Code. The Civil Code marriage remains so far as concerns the conferring of legal rights upon the parties, is as though no
void, considering that the validity of a marriage is governed by the law in force at the marriage had ever taken place. And therefore, being good for no legal purpose, its
time of the marriage ceremony.8 invalidity can be maintained in any proceeding in which the fact of marriage may be
material, either direct or collateral, in any civil court between any parties at any time,
Before anything more, the Court has to clarify the impact to the issue posed herein of whether before or after the death of either or both the husband and the wife, and
Administrative Matter (A.M.) No. 02-11-10-SC (Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity upon mere proof of the facts rendering such marriage void, it will be disregarded or
of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages), which took effect on March treated as non-existent by the courts." It is not like a voidable marriage which cannot
15, 2003. be collaterally attacked except in direct proceeding instituted during the lifetime of the
parties so that on the death of either, the marriage cannot be impeached, and is
made good ab initio. But Article 40 of the Family Code expressly provides that there
Section 2, paragraph (a), of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC explicitly provides the limitation must be a judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage, though void, before
that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by a party can enter into a second marriage and such absolute nullity can be based only
the husband or wife. Such limitation demarcates a line to distinguish between on a final judgment to that effect. For the same reason, the law makes either the
marriages covered by the Family Code and those solemnized under the regime of the action or defense for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage imprescriptible.
Civil Code.9 Specifically, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC extends only to marriages covered by Corollarily, if the death of either party would extinguish the cause of action or the
the Family Code, which took effect on August 3, 1988, but, being a procedural rule ground for defense, then the same cannot be considered imprescriptible.
that is prospective in application, is confined only to proceedings commenced after
March 15, 2003.10
However, other than for purposes of remarriage, no judicial action is necessary to
declare a marriage an absolute nullity. For other purposes, such as but not limited to
Based on Carlos v. Sandoval,11the following actions for declaration of absolute nullity determination of heirship, legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child, settlement of estate,
of a marriage are excepted from the limitation, to wit: dissolution of property regime, or a criminal case for that matter, the court may pass
upon the validity of marriage even in a suit not directly instituted to question the same
1. Those commenced before March 15, 2003, the effectivity date of A.M. No. so long as it is essential to the determination of the case. This is without prejudice to
02-11-10-SC; and any issue that may arise in the case. When such need arises, a final judgment of
declaration of nullity is necessary even if the purpose is other than to remarry. The Nevertheless, we note that the petitioner did not implead Leonila, who, as the late
clause "on the basis of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void" in Cresencianos surviving wife,19stood to be benefited or prejudiced by the nullification
Article 40 of the Family Code connotes that such final judgment need not be obtained of her own marriage. It is relevant to observe, moreover, that not all marriages
only for purpose of remarriage.13 celebrated under the old Civil Code required

It is clarified, however, that the absence of a provision in the old and new Civil Codes a marriage license for their validity;20 hence, her participation in this action is made all
cannot be construed as giving a license to just any person to bring an action to the more necessary in order to shed light on whether the marriage had been
declare the absolute nullity of a marriage. According toCarlos v. Sandoval,14 the celebrated without a marriage license and whether the marriage might have been a
plaintiff must still be the party who stands to be benefited by the suit, or the party marriage excepted from the requirement of a marriage license. She was truly an
entitled to the avails of the suit, for it is basic in procedural law that every action must indispensable party who must be joined herein:
be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party in interest. 15 Thus, only the
party who can demonstrate a "proper interest" can file the action. 16 Interest within the xxx under any and all conditions, [her] presence being a sine qua non for the exercise
meaning of the rule means material interest, or an interest in issue to be affected by of judicial power.1avvphi1 It is precisely "when an indispensable party is not before
the decree or judgment of the case, as distinguished from mere curiosity about the the court [that] the action should be dismissed." The absence of an indispensable
question involved or a mere incidental interest. One having no material interest to party renders all subsequent actions of the court null and void for want of authority to
protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as plaintiff in an action. When the act, not only as to the absent parties but even as to those present.21
plaintiff is not the real party in interest, the case is dismissible on the ground of lack of
cause of action.17
We take note, too, that the petitioner and Leonila were parties in C.A.-G.R. CV No.
91025 entitled Heirs of Cresenciano Ablaza, namely: Leonila G. Ablaza and Leila
Here, the petitioner alleged himself to be the late Cresencianos brother and surviving Ablaza Jasul v. Spouses Isidro and Casilda Ablaza, an action to determine who
heir. Assuming that the petitioner was as he claimed himself to be, then he has a between the parties were the legal owners of the property involved therein.
material interest in the estate of Cresenciano that will be adversely affected by any Apparently, C.A.-G.R. CV No. 91025 was decided on November 26, 2009, and the
judgment in the suit. Indeed, a brother like the petitioner, albeit not a compulsory heir petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied on June 23, 2010. As a defendant
under the laws of succession, has the right to succeed to the estate of a deceased in that action, the petitioner is reasonably presumed to have knowledge that the
brother under the conditions stated in Article 1001 and Article 1003 of the Civil Code, therein plaintiffs, Leonila and Leila, were the wife and daughter, respectively, of the
as follows: late Cresenciano. As such, Leila was another indispensable party whose substantial
right any judgment in this action will definitely affect. The petitioner should likewise
Article 1001. Should brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or implead Leila.
widower, the latter shall be entitled to one half of the inheritance and the brothers and
sisters or their children to the other half. The omission to implead Leonila and Leila was not immediately fatal to the present
action, however, considering that Section 11,22 Rule 3, Rules of Court, states that
Article 1003. If there are no descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a neither misjoinder nor non-joinder of parties is a ground for the dismissal of an action.
surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall succeed to the entire estate of the The petitioner can still amend his initiatory pleading in order to implead her, for under
deceased in accordance with the following articles. the same rule, such amendment to implead an indispensable party may be made "on
motion of any party or on (the trial courts) own initiative at any stage of the action and
Pursuant to these provisions, the presence of descendants, ascendants, or on such terms as are just."
illegitimate children of the deceased excludes collateral relatives like the petitioner
from succeeding to the deceaseds estate.18 Necessarily, therefore, the right of the WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is granted.
petitioner to bring the action hinges upon a prior determination of whether
Cresenciano had any descendants, ascendants, or children (legitimate or illegitimate), We reverse and set aside the decision dated January 30, 2003 rendered by the Court
and of whether the petitioner was the late Cresencianos surviving heir. Such prior of Appeals.
determination must be made by the trial court, for the inquiry thereon involves
questions of fact.
Special Case No. 117 entitled In Re: Petition for Nullification of Marriage Contract
between Cresenciano Ablaza and Leonila Honato; Isidro Ablaza, petitioner, is
As can be seen, both the RTC and the CA erroneously resolved the issue presented reinstated, and its records are returned to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 49, in
in this case. We reverse their error, in order that the substantial right of the petitioner, Cataingan, Masbate, for further proceedings, with instructions to first require the
if any, may not be prejudiced. petitioner to amend his initiatory pleading in order to implead Leonila Honato and her
daughter Leila Ablaza Jasul as parties-defendants; then to determine whether the late
Cresenciano Ablaza had any ascendants, descendants, or children (legitimate or
illegitimate) at the time of his death as well as whether the petitioner was the brother
and surviving heir of the late Cresenciano Ablaza entitled to succeed to the estate of
said deceased; and thereafter to proceed accordingly.

No costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice
Republic of the Philippines status as illegitimate children during the lifetime of Sima Wei pursuant to Article 175
SUPREME COURT of the Family Code.
Manila
The other heirs of Sima Wei filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss 8 on the ground that the
FIRST DIVISION certification against forum shopping should have been signed by private respondents
and not their counsel. They contended that Remedios should have executed the
G.R. No. 163707 September 15, 2006 certification on behalf of her minor daughters as mandated by Section 5, Rule 7 of the
Rules of Court.
MICHAEL C. GUY, petitioner,
vs. In a Manifestation/Motion as Supplement to the Joint Motion to Dismiss, 9 petitioner
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. SIXTO MARELLA, JR., Presiding Judge, RTC, and his co-heirs alleged that private respondents' claim had been paid, waived,
Branch 138, Makati City and minors, KAREN DANES WEI and KAMILLE DANES abandoned or otherwise extinguished by reason of Remedios' June 7, 1993 Release
WEI, represented by their mother, REMEDIOS OANES, respondents. and Waiver of Claim stating that in exchange for the financial and educational
assistance received from petitioner, Remedios and her minor children discharge the
estate of Sima Wei from any and all liabilities.
DECISION
The Regional Trial Court denied the Joint Motion to Dismiss as well as the
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: Supplemental Motion to Dismiss. It ruled that while the Release and Waiver of Claim
was signed by Remedios, it had not been established that she was the duly
This petition for review on certiorari assails the January 22, 2004 Decision 1 of the constituted guardian of her minor daughters. Thus, no renunciation of right occurred.
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79742, which affirmed the Orders dated July 21, Applying a liberal application of the rules, the trial court also rejected petitioner's
20002 and July 17, 20033 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 138 in SP objections on the certification against forum shopping.
Proc. Case No. 4549 denying petitioner's motion to dismiss; and its May 25, 2004
Resolution4 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but was denied. He filed a petition for certiorari
before the Court of Appeals which affirmed the orders of the Regional Trial Court in
The facts are as follows: its assailed Decision dated January 22, 2004, the dispositive portion of which states:

On June 13, 1997, private respondent-minors Karen Oanes Wei and Kamille Oanes WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present petition is hereby DENIED
Wei, represented by their mother Remedios Oanes (Remedios), filed a petition for DUE COURSE and accordingly DISMISSED, for lack of merit.
letters of administration5 before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 138. Consequently, the assailed Orders dated July 21, 2000 and July 17, 2003
The case was docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 4549 and entitled Intestate Estate of Sima are hereby both AFFIRMED. Respondent Judge is hereby DIRECTED to
Wei (a.k.a. Rufino Guy Susim). resolve the controversy over the illegitimate filiation of the private
respondents (sic) minors [-] Karen Oanes Wei and Kamille Oanes Wei who
Private respondents alleged that they are the duly acknowledged illegitimate children are claiming successional rights in the intestate estate of the deceased Sima
of Sima Wei, who died intestate in Makati City on October 29, 1992, leaving an estate Wei, a.k.a. Rufino Guy Susim.
valued at P10,000,000.00 consisting of real and personal properties. His known heirs
are his surviving spouse Shirley Guy and children, Emy, Jeanne, Cristina, George SO ORDERED.10
and Michael, all surnamed Guy. Private respondents prayed for the appointment of a
regular administrator for the orderly settlement of Sima Wei's estate. They likewise The Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration, hence, this
prayed that, in the meantime, petitioner Michael C. Guy, son of the decedent, be petition.
appointed as Special Administrator of the estate. Attached to private respondents'
petition was a Certification Against Forum Shopping6 signed by their counsel, Atty.
Sedfrey A. Ordoez. Petitioner argues that the Court of Appeals disregarded existing rules on certification
against forum shopping; that the Release and Waiver of Claim executed by Remedios
released and discharged the Guy family and the estate of Sima Wei from any claims
In his Comment/Opposition,7 petitioner prayed for the dismissal of the petition. He or liabilities; and that private respondents do not have the legal personality to institute
asserted that his deceased father left no debts and that his estate can be settled the petition for letters of administration as they failed to prove their filiation during the
without securing letters of administration pursuant to Section 1, Rule 74 of the Rules lifetime of Sima Wei in accordance with Article 175 of the Family Code.
of Court. He further argued that private respondents should have established their
Private respondents contend that their counsel's certification can be considered repudiate the inheritance left to their wards only by judicial
substantial compliance with the rules on certification of non-forum shopping, and that authorization.
the petition raises no new issues to warrant the reversal of the decisions of the
Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals. The right to accept an inheritance left to the poor shall belong to the persons
designated by the testator to determine the beneficiaries and distribute the
The issues for resolution are: 1) whether private respondents' petition should be property, or in their default, to those mentioned in Article 1030. (Emphasis
dismissed for failure to comply with the rules on certification of non-forum shopping; supplied)
2) whether the Release and Waiver of Claim precludes private respondents from
claiming their successional rights; and 3) whether private respondents are barred by Parents and guardians may not therefore repudiate the inheritance of their wards
prescription from proving their filiation. without judicial approval. This is because repudiation amounts to an alienation of
property16 which must pass the court's scrutiny in order to protect the interest of the
The petition lacks merit. ward. Not having been judicially authorized, the Release and Waiver of Claim in the
instant case is void and will not bar private respondents from asserting their rights as
Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court provides that the certification of non-forum heirs of the deceased.
shopping should be executed by the plaintiff or the principal party. Failure to comply
with the requirement shall be cause for dismissal of the case. However, a liberal Furthermore, it must be emphasized that waiver is the intentional relinquishment of a
application of the rules is proper where the higher interest of justice would be served. known right. Where one lacks knowledge of a right, there is no basis upon which
InSy Chin v. Court of Appeals,11 we ruled that while a petition may have been flawed waiver of it can rest. Ignorance of a material fact negates waiver, and waiver cannot
where the certificate of non-forum shopping was signed only by counsel and not by be established by a consent given under a mistake or misapprehension of fact. 17
the party, this procedural lapse may be overlooked in the interest of substantial
justice.12 So it is in the present controversy where the merits 13 of the case and the In the present case, private respondents could not have possibly waived their
absence of an intention to violate the rules with impunity should be considered as successional rights because they are yet to prove their status as acknowledged
compelling reasons to temper the strict application of the rules. illegitimate children of the deceased. Petitioner himself has consistently denied that
private respondents are his co-heirs. It would thus be inconsistent to rule that they
As regards Remedios' Release and Waiver of Claim, the same does not bar private waived their hereditary rights when petitioner claims that they do not have such right.
respondents from claiming successional rights. To be valid and effective, a waiver Hence, petitioner's invocation of waiver on the part of private respondents must fail.
must be couched in clear and unequivocal terms which leave no doubt as to the
intention of a party to give up a right or benefit which legally pertains to him. A waiver Anent the issue on private respondents' filiation, we agree with the Court of Appeals
may not be attributed to a person when its terms do not explicitly and clearly evince that a ruling on the same would be premature considering that private respondents
an intent to abandon a right.14 have yet to present evidence. Before the Family Code took effect, the governing law
on actions for recognition of illegitimate children was Article 285 of the Civil Code, to
In this case, we find that there was no waiver of hereditary rights. The Release and wit:
Waiver of Claim does not state with clarity the purpose of its execution. It merely
states that Remedios received P300,000.00 and an educational plan for her minor ART. 285. The action for the recognition of natural children may be brought only
daughters "by way of financial assistance and in full settlement of any and all claims during the lifetime of the presumed parents, except in the following cases:
of whatsoever nature and kind x x x against the estate of the late Rufino Guy
Susim."15 Considering that the document did not specifically mention private
respondents' hereditary share in the estate of Sima Wei, it cannot be construed as a (1) If the father or mother died during the minority of the child, in which case
waiver of successional rights. the latter may file the action before the expiration of four years from the
attainment of his majority;
Moreover, even assuming that Remedios truly waived the hereditary rights of private
respondents, such waiver will not bar the latter's claim. Article 1044 of the Civil Code, (2) If after the death of the father or of the mother a document should appear of
provides: which nothing had been heard and in which either or both parents recognize the
child.
ART. 1044. Any person having the free disposal of his property may accept
or repudiate an inheritance. In this case, the action must be commenced within four years from the finding of
the document. (Emphasis supplied)
Any inheritance left to minors or incapacitated persons may be
accepted by their parents or guardians. Parents or guardians may
We ruled in Bernabe v. Alejo18 that illegitimate children who were still minors at the would be impossible to determine the same in this case as there has been no
time the Family Code took effect and whose putative parent died during their minority reception of evidence yet. This Court is not a trier of facts. Such matters may be
are given the right to seek recognition for a period of up to four years from attaining resolved only by the Regional Trial Court after a full-blown trial.
majority age. This vested right was not impaired or taken away by the passage of the
Family Code.19 While the original action filed by private respondents was a petition for letters of
administration, the trial court is not precluded from receiving evidence on private
On the other hand, Articles 172, 173 and 175 of the Family Code, which superseded respondents' filiation. Its jurisdiction extends to matters incidental and collateral to the
Article 285 of the Civil Code, provide: exercise of its recognized powers in handling the settlement of the estate, including
the determination of the status of each heir.20 That the two causes of action, one to
ART. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the following: compel recognition and the other to claim inheritance, may be joined in one complaint
is not new in our jurisprudence.21 As held in Briz v. Briz:22
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or
The question whether a person in the position of the present plaintiff can in any
event maintain a complex action to compel recognition as a natural child and at the
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten same time to obtain ulterior relief in the character of heir, is one which in the
instrument and signed by the parent concerned. opinion of this court must be answered in the affirmative, provided always that the
conditions justifying the joinder of the two distinct causes of action are present in
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved by: the particular case. In other words, there is no absolute necessity requiring that the
action to compel acknowledgment should have been instituted and prosecuted to a
(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or successful conclusion prior to the action in which that same plaintiff seeks
additional relief in the character of heir. Certainly, there is nothing so peculiar to the
action to compel acknowledgment as to require that a rule should be here applied
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws. different from that generally applicable in other cases. x x x

ART. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be brought by the child during his or The conclusion above stated, though not heretofore explicitly formulated by this
her lifetime and shall be transmitted to the heirs should the child die during minority court, is undoubtedly to some extent supported by our prior decisions. Thus, we
or in a state of insanity. In these cases, the heirs shall have a period of five years have held in numerous cases, and the doctrine must be considered well settled,
within which to institute the action. that a natural child having a right to compel acknowledgment, but who has not been
in fact acknowledged, may maintain partition proceedings for the division of the
The action already commenced by the child shall survive notwithstanding the death inheritance against his coheirs (Siguiong vs. Siguiong, 8 Phil., 5; Tiamson vs.
of either or both of the parties. Tiamson, 32 Phil., 62); and the same person may intervene in proceedings for the
distribution of the estate of his deceased natural father, or mother (Capistrano vs.
Fabella, 8 Phil., 135; Conde vs. Abaya, 13 Phil., 249; Ramirez vs. Gmur, 42 Phil.,
ART. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same
855). In neither of these situations has it been thought necessary for the plaintiff to
way and on the same, evidence as legitimate children.
show a prior decree compelling acknowledgment. The obvious reason is that in
partition suits and distribution proceedings the other persons who might take by
The action must be brought within the same period specified in Article 173, except inheritance are before the court; and the declaration of heirship is appropriate to
when the action is based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which case the such proceedings.
action may be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision dated January 22, 2004
Under the Family Code, when filiation of an illegitimate child is established by a of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79742 affirming the denial of petitioner's
record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment, or an admission of motion to dismiss; and its Resolution dated May 25, 2004 denying petitioner's motion
filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument signed by the parent for reconsideration, are AFFIRMED. Let the records be REMANDED to the Regional
concerned, the action for recognition may be brought by the child during his or her Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 138 for further proceedings.
lifetime. However, if the action is based upon open and continuous possession of the
status of an illegitimate child, or any other means allowed by the rules or special laws,
SO ORDERED.
it may only be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent.

Panganiban, C.J., Chairperson, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., Chico-Nazario,


It is clear therefore that the resolution of the issue of prescription depends on the type
J.J., concur.
of evidence to be adduced by private respondents in proving their filiation. However, it
Republic of the Philippines such he (Adrian) be given his share in Fiscal Bernabes estate, which is now being
SUPREME COURT held by Ernestina as the sole surviving heir.
Manila
"On July 16, 1995, the Regional Trial Court dismissed the complaint, ruling that under
THIRD DIVISION the provisions of the Family Code as well as the case of Uyguangco vs. Court of
Appeals, the complaint is now barred x x x."6
G.R. No. 140500 January 21, 2002
Orders of the Trial Court
ERNESTINA BERNABE, petitioner,
vs. In an Order dated July 26, 1995, the trial court granted Ernestina Bernabes Motion
CAROLINA ALEJO as guardian ad litem for the minor ADRIAN for Reconsideration of the trial courts Decision and ordered the dismissal of the
BERNABE, respondent. Complaint for recognition. Citing Article 175 of the Family Code, the RTC held that the
death of the putative father had barred the action.
DECISION
In its Order dated October 6, 1995, the trial court added that since the putative father
PANGANIBAN, J.: had not acknowledged or recognized Adrian Bernabe in writing, the action for
recognition should have been filed during the lifetime of the alleged father to give him
the opportunity to either affirm or deny the childs filiation.
The right to seek recognition granted by the Civil Code to illegitimate children who
were still minors at the time the Family Code took effect cannot be impaired or taken
away. The minors have up to four years from attaining majority age within which to file Ruling of the Court of Appeals
an action for recognition.
On the other hand, the Court of Appeals ruled that in the interest of justice, Adrian
Statement of the Case should be allowed to prove that he was the illegitimate son of Fiscal Bernabe.
Because the boy was born in 1981, his rights are governed by Article 285 of the Civil
Code, which allows an action for recognition to be filed within four years after the child
Before us is a Petition1 for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, has attained the age of majority. The subsequent enactment of the Family Code did
praying for (1) the nullification of the July 7, 1999 Court of Appeals 2 (CA) Decision3 in not take away that right.
CA-GR CV No. 51919 and the October 14, 1999 CA Resolution 4 denying petitioners
Motion for Reconsideration, as well as (2) the reinstatement of the two Orders issued
by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City (Branch 109) concerning the same Hence, this appeal.7
case. The dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads as follows:
Issues
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the order of the lower court dismissing Civil
Case No. 94-0562 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Let the records of this case be In her Memorandum,8 petitioner raises the following issues for our consideration:
remanded to the lower court for trial on the merits."5
I
The Facts
"Whether or not respondent has a cause of action to file a case against petitioner, the
The undisputed facts are summarized by the Court of Appeals in this wise: legitimate daughter of the putative father, for recognition and partition with accounting
after the putative fathers death in the absence of any written acknowledgment of
"The late Fiscal Ernesto A. Bernabe allegedly fathered a son with his secretary of paternity by the latter.
twenty-three (23) years, herein plaintiff-appellant Carolina Alejo. The son was born on
September 18, 1981 and was named Adrian Bernabe. Fiscal Bernabe died on August II
13, 1993, while his wife Rosalina died on December 3 of the same year, leaving
Ernestina as the sole surviving heir. "Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that respondents had
four years from the attainment of minority to file an action for recognition as provided
"On May 16, 1994, Carolina, in behalf of Adrian, filed the aforesaid complaint praying in Art. 285 of the Civil Code, in complete disregard of its repeal by the [express]
that Adrian be declared an acknowledged illegitimate son of Fiscal Bernabe and as
provisions of the Family Code and the applicable jurisprudence as held by the (2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private
Honorable Court of Appeals. handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned.

III "In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved by:

"Whether or not the petition for certiorari filed by the petition[er] is fatally defective for (1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child;
failure to implead the Court of Appeals as one of the respondents."9 or

The Courts Ruling (2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws."

The Petition has no merit. "ART. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be brought by the child during his or
her lifetime and shall be transmitted to the heirs should the child die during minority or
First and Second Issues: Period to File Action for Recognition in a state of insanity. In these cases, the heirs shall have a period of five years within
which to institute the action.
Because the first and the second issues are interrelated, we shall discuss them
jointly. "The action already commenced by the child shall survive notwithstanding the death
of either or both of the parties."
Petitioner contends that respondent is barred from filing an action for recognition,
because Article 285 of the Civil Code has been supplanted by the provisions of the "ART. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the same
Family Code. She argues that the latter Code should be given retroactive effect, since way and on the same, evidence as legitimate children.
no vested right would be impaired. We do not agree.
"The action must be brought within the same period specified in Article 173, except
Article 285 of the Civil Code provides the period for filing an action for recognition as when the action is based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which case the
follows: action may be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent."

"ART. 285. The action for the recognition of natural children may be brought only Under the new law, an action for the recognition of an illegitimate child must be
during the lifetime of the presumed parents, except in the following cases: brought within the lifetime of the alleged parent. The Family Code makes no
distinction on whether the former was still a minor when the latter died. Thus, the
putative parent is given by the new Code a chance to dispute the claim, considering
(1) If the father or mother died during the minority of the child, in which case that "illegitimate children are usually begotten and raised in secrecy and without the
the latter may file the action before the expiration of four years from the legitimate family being aware of their existence. x x x The putative parent should thus
attainment of his majority; be given the opportunity to affirm or deny the childs filiation, and this, he or she
cannot do if he or she is already dead."10
(2) If after the death of the father or of the mother a document should appear
of which nothing had been heard and in which either or both parents Nonetheless, the Family Code provides the caveat that rights that have already
recognize the child. vested prior to its enactment should not be prejudiced or impaired as follows:

"In this case, the action must be commenced within four years from the finding of the "ART. 255. This Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice or
document." impair vested or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other laws."

The two exceptions provided under the foregoing provision, have however been The crucial issue to be resolved therefore is whether Adrians right to an action for
omitted by Articles 172, 173 and 175 of the Family Code, which we quote: recognition, which was granted by Article 285 of the Civil Code, had already vested
prior to the enactment of the Family Code. Our answer is affirmative.
"ART. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the following:
A vested right is defined as "one which is absolute, complete and unconditional, to the
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or exercise of which no obstacle exists, and which is immediate and perfect in itself and
not dependent upon a contingency x x x."11Respondent however contends that the
filing of an action for recognition is procedural in nature and that "as a general rule, no "A childs parents should not have been disqualified to marry each other at the time of
vested right may attach to [or] arise from procedural laws."12 conception for him to qualify as a natural child."20

Bustos v. Lucero13 distinguished substantive from procedural law in these words: A strict and literal interpretation of Article 285 has already been frowned upon by this
Court in the aforesaid case of Aruego, which allowed minors to file a case for
"x x x. Substantive law creates substantive rights and the two terms in this respect recognition even if their parents were disqualified from marrying each other. There,
may be said to be synonymous. Substantive rights is a term which includes those the Complaint averred that the late Jose Aruego Sr., a married man, had an
rights which one enjoys under the legal system prior to the disturbance of normal extramarital liason with Luz Fabian. Out of this relationship were born two illegitimate
relations. Substantive law is that part of the law which creates, defines and regulates children who in 1983 filed an action for recognition. The two children were born in
rights, or which regulates the rights and duties which give rise to a cause of action; 1962 and 1963, while the alleged putative father died in 1982. In short, at the time of
that part of the law which courts are established to administer; as opposed to their conception, the two childrens parents were legally disqualified from marrying
adjective or remedial law, which prescribes the method of enforcing rights or obtains each other. The Court allowed the Complaint to prosper, even though it had been
redress for their invasion."14 (Citations omitted) filed almost a year after the death of the presumed father. At the time of his death,
both children were still minors.
Recently, in Fabian v. Desierto,15 the Court laid down the test for determining whether
a rule is procedural or substantive: Moreover, in the earlier case Divinagracia v. Rovira,21 the Court said that the rules on
voluntary and compulsory acknowledgment of natural children, as well as the
prescriptive period for filing such action, may likewise be applied to spurious children.
"[I]n determining whether a rule prescribed by the Supreme Court, for the practice and Pertinent portions of the case are quoted hereunder:
procedure of the lower courts, abridges, enlarges, or modifies any substantive right,
the test is whether the rule really regulates procedure, that is, the judicial process for
enforcing rights and duties recognized by substantive law and for justly administering "The so-called spurious children, or illegitimate children other than natural children,
remedy and redress for a disregard or infraction of them. If the rule takes away a commonly known as bastards, include those adulterous children or those born out of
vested right, it is not procedural. If the rule creates a right such as the right to appeal, wedlock to a married woman cohabiting with a man other than her husband or to a
it may be classified as a substantive matter; but if it operates as a means of married man cohabiting with a woman other than his wife. They are entitled to support
implementing an existing right then the rule deals merely with procedure." 16 and successional rights. But their filiation must be duly proven.

Applying the foregoing jurisprudence, we hold that Article 285 of the Civil Code is a "How should their filiation be proven? Article 289 of the Civil Code allows the
substantive law, as it gives Adrian the right to file his petition for recognition within investigation of the paternity or maternity or spurious children under the
four years from attaining majority age. Therefore, the Family Code cannot impair or circumstances specified in articles 283 and 284 of the Civil Code. The implication is
take Adrians right to file an action for recognition, because that right had already that the rules on compulsory recognition of natural children are applicable to spurious
vested prior to its enactment. children.

Uyguangco v. Court of Appeals17 is not applicable to the case at bar, because the "Spurious children should not be in a better position than natural children. The rules
plaintiff therein sought recognition as an illegitimate child when he was no longer a on proof of filiation of natural children or the rules on voluntary and compulsory
minor. On the other hand, in Aruego Jr. v. Court of Appeals18 the Court ruled that an acknowledgment for natural children may be applied to spurious children.
action for recognition filed while the Civil Code was in effect should not be affected by
the subsequent enactment of the Family Code, because the right had already vested. "That does not mean that spurious children should be acknowledged, as that term is
used with respect to natural children. What is simply meant is that the grounds or
Not Limited to Natural Children instances for the acknowledgment of natural children are utilized to establish the
filiation of spurious children.
To be sure, Article 285 of the Civil Code refers to the action for recognition of
"natural" children. Thus, petitioner contends that the provision cannot be availed of by "A spurious child may prove his filiation by means of a record of birth, a will, a
respondent, because at the time of his conception, his parents were impeded from statement before a court of record, or in any authentic writing. These are the modes
marrying each other. In other words, he is not a natural child. of voluntary recognition of natural children.

A "natural child" is one whose parents, at the time of conception, were not disqualified "In case there is no evidence on the voluntary recognition of the spurious child, then
by any legal impediment from marrying each other. Thus, in De Santos v. his filiation may be established by means of the circumstances or grounds for
Angeles,19 the Court explained: compulsory recognition prescribed in the aforementioned articles 283 and 284.
"The prescriptive period for filing the action for compulsory recognition in the case of
natural children, as provided for in article 285 of the Civil Code, applies to spurious
children."22 (Citations omitted, italics supplied)

Thus, under the Civil Code, natural children have superior successional rights over
spurious ones.23 However,Rovira treats them as equals with respect to other rights,
including the right to recognition granted by Article 285.

To emphasize, illegitimate children who were still minors at the time the Family Code
took effect and whose putative parent died during their minority are thus given the
right to seek recognition (under Article 285 of the Civil Code) for a period of up to four
years from attaining majority age. This vested right was not impaired or taken away
by the passage of the Family Code.

Indeed, our overriding consideration is to protect the vested rights of minors who
could not have filed suit, on their own, during the lifetime of their putative parents. As
respondent aptly points out in his Memorandum,24 the State as parens patriae should
protect a minors right. Born in 1981, Adrian was only seven years old when the
Family Code took effect and only twelve when his alleged father died in 1993. The
minor must be given his day in court.

Third Issue: Failure to Implead the CA

Under Section 4(a) of Rule 45 of the current Rules of Court, it is no longer required to
implead "the lower courts or judges x x x either as petitioners or respondents." Under
Section 3, however, the lower tribunal should still be furnished a copy of the petition.
Hence, the failure of petitioner to implead the Court of Appeals as a party is not a
reversible error; it is in fact the correct procedure.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision and
Resolution AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Melo, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio, JJ., concur.


Vitug, J., no part. Relationship with family.
Republic of the Philippines evidence. Petitioner also submitted the decision of the Juvenile and Domestic
SUPREME COURT Relations Court of Quezon City dated August 4, 1980, which declared null
Manila and void his civil marriage to Anna Maria Regina Villanueva celebrated on March 29,
1977, and his church marriage to said Anna Maria on August 27, 1977. These
SECOND DIVISION documents were submitted as evidence during trial and, according to petitioner, are
therefore deemed sufficient proof of the facts therein. The fact that the civil marriage
of private respondent and petitioner took place on April 4, 1979, before the judgment
G.R. No. 127406 November 27, 2000 declaring his prior marriage as null and void is undisputed. It also appears
indisputable that private respondent and petitioner had a church wedding ceremony
OFELIA P. TY, petitioner, on April 4, 1982.1
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, and EDGARDO M. REYES, respondents. The Pasig RTC sustained private respondents civil suit and declared his marriage to
herein petitioner null andvoid ab initio in its decision dated November 4, 1991. Both
DECISION parties appealed to respondent Court of Appeals. On July 24, 1996, the appellate
court affirmed the trial courts decision. It ruled that a judicial declaration of nullity of
QUISUMBING, J.: the first marriage (to Anna Maria) must first be secured before a subsequent marriage
could be validly contracted. Said the appellate court:

This appeal seeks the reversal of the decision dated July 24, 1996, of the Court of
Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV 37897, which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial We can accept, without difficulty, the doctrine cited by defendants counsel that no
Court of Pasig, Branch 160, declaring the marriage contract between private judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of void marriages. It does not
respondent Edgardo M. Reyes and petitioner Ofelia P. Ty null and void ab initio. It say, however, that a second marriage may proceed even without a judicial decree.
also ordered private respondent to pay P15,000.00 as monthly support for their While it is true that if a marriage is null and void, ab initio, there is in fact no subsisting
children Faye Eloise Reyes and Rachel Anne Reyes. marriage, we are unwilling to rule that the matter of whether a marriage is valid or not
is for each married spouse to determine for himself for this would be the
consequence of allowing a spouse to proceed to a second marriage even before a
As shown in the records of the case, private respondent married Anna Maria Regina competent court issues a judicial decree of nullity of his first marriage. The results
Villanueva in a civil ceremony on March 29, 1977, in Manila. Then they had a church would be disquieting, to say the least, and could not have been the intendment of
wedding on August 27, 1977. However, on August 4, 1980, the Juvenile and even the now-repealed provisions of the Civil Code on marriage.
Domestic Relations Court of Quezon City declared their marriage null and voidab
initio for lack of a valid marriage license. The church wedding on August 27, 1977,
was also declared null andvoid ab initio for lack of consent of the parties. xxx

Even before the decree was issued nullifying his marriage to Anna Maria, private WHEREFORE, upon the foregoing ratiocination, We modify the appealed Decision in
respondent wed Ofelia P. Ty, herein petitioner, on April 4, 1979, in ceremonies this wise:
officiated by the judge of the City Court of Pasay. On April 4, 1982, they also had a
church wedding in Makati, Metro Manila. 1. The marriage contracted by plaintiff-appellant [herein private respondent]
Eduardo M. Reyes and defendant-appellant [herein petitioner] Ofelia P. Ty is
On January 3, 1991, private respondent filed a Civil Case 1853-J with the RTC of declared null and void ab initio;
Pasig, Branch 160, praying that his marriage to petitioner be declared null and void.
He alleged that they had no marriage license when they got married. He also averred 2. Plaintiff-appellant Eduardo M. Reyes is ordered to give monthly support in
that at the time he married petitioner, he was still married to Anna Maria. He stated the amount of P15,000.00 to his children Faye Eloise Reyes and Rachel
that at the time he married petitioner the decree of nullity of his marriage to Anna Anne Reyes from November 4, 1991; and
Maria had not been issued. The decree of nullity of his marriage to Anna Maria was
rendered only on August 4, 1980, while his civil marriage to petitioner took place on 3. Cost against plaintiff-appellant Eduardo M. Reyes.
April 4, 1979.
SO ORDERED.2
Petitioner, in defending her marriage to private respondent, pointed out that his claim
that their marriage was contracted without a valid license is untrue. She submitted
their Marriage License No. 5739990 issued at Rosario, Cavite on April 3, 1979, as Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, this instant petition
Exh. 11, 12 and 12-A. He did not question this document when it was submitted in asserting that the Court of Appeals erred:
I. For purposes of determining whether a person is legally free to contract a second
marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was null and void ab initio is
BOTH IN THE DECISION AND THE RESOLUTION, IN REQUIRING FOR essential. . . .6
THE VALIDITY OF PETITIONERS MARRIAGE TO RESPONDENT, A
JUDICIAL DECREE NOT REQUIRED BY LAW. At the outset, we must note that private respondents first and second marriages
contracted in 1977 and 1979, respectively, are governed by the provisions of the Civil
II Code. The present case differs significantly from the recent cases of Bobis v.
Bobis7 and Mercado v. Tan,8 both involving a criminal case for bigamy where the
bigamous marriage was contracted during the effectivity of the Family Code, 9 under
IN THE RESOLUTION, IN APPLYING THE RULING IN DOMINGO VS. which a judicial declaration of nullity of marriage is clearly required.
COURT OF APPEALS.
Pertinent to the present controversy, Article 83 of the Civil Code provides that:
III
Art. 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime of
IN BOTH THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION IN NOT CONSIDERING THE the first spouse of such person with any person other than such first spouse shall be
CIVIL EFFECTS OF THE RELIGIOUS RATIFICATION WHICH USED THE illegal and void from its performance, unless:
SAME MARRIAGE LICENSE.
(1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or
IV
(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time
IN THE DECISION NOT GRANTING MORAL AND EXEMPLARY of the second marriage without the spouse present having news of the
DAMAGES TO THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT. absentee being alive, or if the absentee, though he has been absent for less
than seven years, is generally considered as dead and before any person
The principal issue in this case is whether the decree of nullity of the first marriage is believed to be so by the spouse present at the time of contracting such
required before a subsequent marriage can be entered into validly? To resolve this subsequent marriage, or if the absentee is presumed dead according to
question, we shall go over applicable laws and pertinent cases to shed light on the articles 390 and 391. The marriage so contracted shall be valid in any of the
assigned errors, particularly the first and the second which we shall discuss jointly. three cases until declared null and void by a competent court.

In sustaining the trial court, the Court of Appeals declared the marriage of petitioner to As to whether a judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage is necessary, the Civil
private respondent null and void for lack of a prior judicial decree of nullity of the Code contains no express provision to that effect. Jurisprudence on the matter,
marriage between private respondent and Villanueva. The appellate court rejected however, appears to be conflicting.
petitioners claim that People v. Mendoza3 and People v. Aragon4 are applicable in
this case. For these cases held that where a marriage is void from its performance, Originally, in People v. Mendoza,10 and People v. Aragon,11 this Court held that no
no judicial decree is necessary to establish its invalidity. But the appellate court said judicial decree is necessary to establish the nullity of a void marriage. Both cases
these cases, decided before the enactment of the Family Code (E.O. No. 209 as involved the same factual milieu. Accused contracted a second marriage during the
amended by E.O No. 227), no longer control. A binding decree is now needed and subsistence of his first marriage. After the death of his first wife, accused contracted a
must be read into the provisions of law previously obtaining.5 third marriage during the subsistence of the second marriage. The second wife
initiated a complaint for bigamy. The Court acquitted accused on the ground that the
In refusing to consider petitioners appeal favorably, the appellate court also said: second marriage is void, having been contracted during the existence of the first
marriage. There is no need for a judicial declaration that said second marriage is void.
Terre v. Attorney Terre, Adm. Case No. 2349, 3 July 1992 is mandatory precedent for Since the second marriage is void, and the first one terminated by the death of his
this case. Although decided by the High Court in 1992, the facts situate it within the wife, there are no two subsisting valid marriages. Hence, there can be no bigamy.
regime of the now-repealed provisions of the Civil Code, as in the instant case. Justice Alex Reyes dissented in both cases, saying that it is not for the spouses but
the court to judge whether a marriage is void or not.

xxx
In Gomez v. Lipana,12 and Consuegra v. Consuegra,13 however, we recognized the
right of the second wife who entered into the marriage in good faith, to share in their
acquired estate and in proceeds of the retirement insurance of the husband. The
Court observed that although the second marriage can be presumed to be void ab
initio as it was celebrated while the first marriage was still subsisting, still there was a The Court applied this ruling in subsequent cases. In Domingo v. Court of
need for judicial declaration of such nullity (of the second marriage). And since the Appeals (1993),22 the Court held:
death of the husband supervened before such declaration, we upheld the right of the
second wife to share in the estate they acquired, on grounds of justice and equity.14 Came the Family Code which settled once and for all the conflicting jurisprudence on
the matter. A declaration of absolute nullity of marriage is now explicitly required
But in Odayat v. Amante (1977),15 the Court adverted to Aragon and Mendoza as either as a cause of action or a ground for defense. (Art. 39 of the Family Code).
precedents. We exonerated a clerk of court of the charge of immorality on the ground Where the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked for
that his marriage to Filomena Abella in October of 1948 was void, since she was purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law for said
already previously married to one Eliseo Portales in February of the same year. The projected marriage to be free from legal infirmity is a final judgment declaring the
Court held that no judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of void previous marriage void. (Family Code, Art. 40; See also arts. 11, 13, 42, 44, 48, 50,
marriages. This ruling was affirmed in Tolentino v. Paras.16 52, 54, 86, 99, 147, 148).23

Yet again in Wiegel v. Sempio-Diy (1986),17 the Court held that there is a need for a However, a recent case applied the old rule because of the peculiar circumstances of
judicial declaration of nullity of a void marriage. In Wiegel, Lilia married Maxion in the case. In Apiag v. Cantero, (1997)24 the first wife charged a municipal trial judge of
1972. In 1978, she married another man, Wiegel. Wiegel filed a petition with the immorality for entering into a second marriage. The judge claimed that his first
Juvenile Domestic Relations Court to declare his marriage to Lilia as void on the marriage was void since he was merely forced into marrying his first wife whom he
ground of her previous valid marriage. The Court, expressly relying on Consuegra, got pregnant. On the issue of nullity of the first marriage, we
concluded that:18 applied Odayat, Mendoza and Aragon. We held that since the second marriage took
place and all the children thereunder were born before the promulgation ofWiegel and
There is likewise no need of introducing evidence about the existing prior marriage of the effectivity of the Family Code, there is no need for a judicial declaration of nullity
her first husband at the time they married each other, for then such a marriage though of the first marriage pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence at that time.
void still needs according to this Court a judicial declaration (citing Consuegra) of
such fact and for all legal intents and purposes she would still be regarded as a Similarly, in the present case, the second marriage of private respondent was entered
married woman at the time she contracted her marriage with respondent Karl Heinz into in 1979, before Wiegel. At that time, the prevailing rule was found in Odayat,
Wiegel; accordingly, the marriage of petitioner and respondent would be regarded Mendoza and Aragon. The first marriage of private respondent being void for lack of
VOID under the law. (Emphasis supplied). license and consent, there was no need for judicial declaration of its nullity before he
could contract a second marriage. In this case, therefore, we conclude that private
In Yap v. Court of Appeals,19 however, the Court found the second marriage void respondents second marriage to petitioner is valid.
without need of judicial declaration, thus reverting to the Odayat,
Mendoza and Aragon rulings. Moreover, we find that the provisions of the Family Code cannot be retroactively
applied to the present case, for to do so would prejudice the vested rights of petitioner
At any rate, the confusion under the Civil Code was put to rest under the Family and of her children. As held in Jison v. Court of Appeals,25the Family Code has
Code. Our rulings in Gomez, Consuegra, and Wiegel were eventually embodied in retroactive effect unless there be impairment of vested rights. In the present case,
Article 40 of the Family Code.20 Article 40 of said Code expressly required a judicial that impairment of vested rights of petitioner and the children is patent. Additionally,
declaration of nullity of marriage we are not quite prepared to give assent to the appellate courts finding that despite
private respondents "deceit and perfidy" in contracting marriage with petitioner, he
could benefit from her silence on the issue. Thus, coming now to the civil effects of
Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of the church ceremony wherein petitioner married private respondent using the
remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage marriage license used three years earlier in the civil ceremony, we find that petitioner
void. now has raised this matter properly. Earlier petitioner claimed as untruthful private
respondents allegation that he wed petitioner but they lacked a marriage license.
In Terre v. Terre (1992)21 the Court, applying Gomez, Indeed we find there was a marriage license, though it was the same license issued
Consuegra and Wiegel, categorically stated that a judicial declaration of nullity of a on April 3, 1979 and used in both the civil and the church rites. Obviously, the church
void marriage is necessary. Thus, we disbarred a lawyer for contracting a bigamous ceremony was confirmatory of their civil marriage. As petitioner contends, the
marriage during the subsistence of his first marriage. He claimed that his first appellate court erred when it refused to recognize the validity and salutary effects of
marriage in 1977 was void since his first wife was already married in 1968. We held said canonical marriage on a technicality, i.e. that petitioner had failed to raise this
that Atty. Terre should have known that the prevailing case law is that "for purposes matter as affirmative defense during trial. She argues that such failure does not
of determining whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage, a prevent the appellate court from giving her defense due consideration and weight.
judicial declaration that the first marriage was null and void ab initio is essential." She adds that the interest of the State in protecting the inviolability of marriage, as a
legal and social institution, outweighs such technicality. In our view, petitioner and
private respondent had complied with all the essential and formal requisites for a valid
marriage, including the requirement of a valid license in the first of the two
ceremonies. That this license was used legally in the celebration of the civil ceremony
does not detract from the ceremonial use thereof in the church wedding of the same
parties to the marriage, for we hold that the latter rites served not only to ratify but
also to fortify the first. The appellate court might have its reasons for brushing aside
this possible defense of the defendant below which undoubtedly could have tendered
a valid issue, but which was not timely interposed by her before the trial court. But we
are now persuaded we cannot play blind to the absurdity, if not inequity, of letting the
wrongdoer profit from what the CA calls "his own deceit and perfidy."

On the matter of petitioners counterclaim for damages and attorneys


fees.1wphi1 Although the appellate court admitted that they found private
respondent acted "duplicitously and craftily" in marrying petitioner, it did not award
moral damages because the latter did not adduce evidence to support her claim. 26

Like the lower courts, we are also of the view that no damages should be awarded in
the present case, but for another reason. Petitioner wants her marriage to private
respondent held valid and subsisting. She is suing to maintain her status as legitimate
wife. In the same breath, she asks for damages from her husband for filing a baseless
complaint for annulment of their marriage which caused her mental anguish, anxiety,
besmirched reputation, social humiliation and alienation from her parents. Should we
grant her prayer, we would have a situation where the husband pays the wife
damages from conjugal or common funds. To do so, would make the application of
the law absurd. Logic, if not common sense, militates against such incongruity.
Moreover, our laws do not comprehend an action for damages between husband and
wife merely because of breach of a marital obligation.27 There are other remedies.28

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of


Appeals dated July 24, 1996 and its Resolution dated November 7, 1996, are
reversed partially, so that the marriage of petitioner Ofelia P. Ty and private
respondent Edgardo M. Reyes is hereby DECLARED VALID AND SUBSISTING; and
the award of the amount of P15,000.00 is RATIFIED and MAINTAINED as monthly
support to their two children, Faye Eloise Reyes and Rachel Anne Reyes, for as long
as they are of minor age or otherwise legally entitled thereto. Costs against private
respondent.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines Claude A. Miller was a member of the United States Air Force, as
SUPREME COURT airman first class, assigned at Clark Air Base since January 26,
Manila 1985.

FIRST DIVISION The family maintains their residence at Don Bonifacio Subdivision,
Balibago, Angeles City, since 1985. 1

The minor Michael Magno Madayag is the legitimate son of


G.R. No. 125932 April 21, 1999 Marcelo S. Madayag, Jr. and Zenaida Magno. Born on July 14,
1987, at San Fernando, La Union, the minor has been in the
custody of respondents since the first week of August 1987.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioners Poverty and deep concern for the future of their son prompted the
vs. natural parents who have no visible means of livelihood to have
CLAUDE A. MILLER and JUMRUS S. MILLER, respondents. their child adopted by respondents. They executed affidavits giving
their irrevocable consent to the adoption by respondents.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, through its


PARDO, J Regional office at San Fernando, Pampanga, recommended
approval of the petition on the basis of its evaluation that
The Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, appealed originally to respondents were morally, emotionally and financially fit to be
the Court of Appeals from a decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 59, Angeles adoptive parents and that the adoption would be to the minor's best
interest and welfare. 2
City, granting the petition of respondent spouses to adopt the minor Michael Magno
Madayag.
On May 12, 1989, the trial court rendered decision granting the petition for adoption,
In its decision promulgated on April 17, 1996, the Court of Appeals certified the case the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
to the Supreme Court because the petition raised only questions of law.
WHEREFORE, finding that petitioners possess all the qualifications
By resolution adopted on September 23, 1996, we accepted the appeal. We shall and none of the disqualifications for adoption, the instant petition is
treat the appeal as one via certiorari from a decision of the regional trial court under hereby Granted, and this Court decrees the minor MICHAEL
Supreme Court Circular 2-90, dated March 9, 1990, on pure questions of law. MAGNO MADAYAG freed from all obligation of obedience and
support with respect to natural parents and is hereby declared the
child of the herein petitioners by adoption. The minor's surname
The facts are undisputed and may be related as follows: shall be changed from "MADAYAG" to "MILLER", which is the
surname of the herein
On July 29, 1988, the spouses Claude A. Miller and Jumrus S. Miller, filed with the petitioners. 3
Regional Trial Court, Branch 59, Angeles City, a verified petition to adopt the minor
Michael Magno Madayag. In due time, the Solicitor General, in behalf of the Republic, interposed an appeal to
the Court of Appeals. As heretofore stated, the Court of Appeals certified the case to
The trial court scheduled the petition for hearing on September 9, 1988, at 9:00 in the this Court.
morning. At the hearing, with the attendance of an assistant city fiscal of Angeles City,
in representation of the Solicitor General, respondents adduced evidence showing The issue raised is whether the court may allow aliens to adopt a Filipino child despite
that: the prohibition under the Family Code, 4 effective on August 3, 1988 5 when the
petition for adoption was filed on July 29, 1988, under the provision of the Child and
Claude A. Miller, 38 years old and Jumrus S. Miller, 40 years of Youth Welfare Code 6 which allowed aliens to adopt.
age, both American citizens, are husband and wife, having been
married on June 21, 1982. The issue is not new. This Court has ruled that an alien qualified to adopt under the
Child and Youth Welfare Code, which was in force at the time of the filing of the
They were childless and "do not expect to have sibling out of their petition, acquired a vested right which could not be affected by the subsequent
union on account of a medical problem of the wife." enactment of a new law disqualifying him. 7
Consequently, the enactment of the Family Code, effective August 3, 1988, will not
impair the right of respondents who are aliens to adopt a Filipino child because the
right has become vested at the time of filing of the petition for adoption and shall be
governed by the law then in force. "A vested right is one whose existence, effectivity
and extent does not depend upon events foreign to the will of the holder. The term
expresses the concept of present fixed interest which in right reason and natural
justice should be protected against arbitrary State action, or an innately just and
imperative right which enlightened free society, sensitive to inherent and irrefragable
individual rights, cannot deny." 8 "Vested rights include not only legal or equitable title
to the enforcement of a demand, but also an exemption from new obligations created
after the right has vested. 9

As long as the petition for adoption was sufficient in form and substance in
accordance with the law in governance at the time it was filed, the court acquires
jurisdiction and retains it until it fully disposes of the case. To repeat, the jurisdiction of
the court is determined by the statute in force at the time of the commencement of the
action. Such jurisdiction of a court, whether in criminal or civil cases, once it attaches
cannot be ousted by a subsequent happenings or events, although of a character
which would have prevented jurisdiction from attaching in the first instance. 10

Therefore, an alien who filed a petition for adoption before the effective of the Family
Code, although denied the right to adopt under Art. 184 of said Code, may continue
with his petition under the law prevailing before the Family Code. 11

Adoption statutes, being humane and salutary, hold the interests and welfare of the
child to be of paramount consideration. They are designed to provide homes, parental
care and education for unfortunate, needy or orphaned children and give them the
protection of society and family in the person of the adopter, as well as childless
couples or persons to experience the joy of parenthood and give them legally a child
in the person of the adopted for the manifestation of their natural parent instincts.
Every reasonable intendment should be sustained to promote and fulfill these noble
and compassionate objective of the law. 12

WHEREFORE, we hereby AFFIRM the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 59, Angeles City, in SP. Proc. No. 3562.1wphi1.nt

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Melo, Kapunan and Nares-Santiago, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines against complainant. According to him, it was the sister of De Castro who called the
SUPREME COURT police to arrest complainant.
Manila
Respondent also denies having been married to Ongkiko, although he admits having
EN BANC five children with her. He alleges that while he and Ongkiko went through a marriage
ceremony before a Nueva Ecija town mayor on April 25, 1965, the same was not a
valid marriage for lack of a marriage license. Upon the request of the parents of
Ongkiko, respondent went through another marriage ceremony with her in Manila on
June 5, 1965. Again, neither party applied for a marriage license. Ongkiko abandoned
A.M. No. MTJ-92-706 March 29, 1995 respondent 17 years ago, leaving their children to his care and custody as a single
parent.
LUPO ALMODIEL ATIENZA, complainant,
vs. Respondent claims that when he married De Castro in civil rites in Los Angeles,
JUDGE FRANCISCO F. BRILLANTES, JR., Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 28, California on December 4, 1991, he believed, in all good faith and for all legal intents
Manila, respondent. and purposes, that he was single because his first marriage was solemnized without
a license.

Under the Family Code, there must be a judicial declaration of the nullity of a previous
QUIASON, J.: marriage before a party thereto can enter into a second marriage. Article 40 of said
Code provides:
This is a complaint by Lupo A. Atienza for Gross Immorality and Appearance of
Impropriety against Judge Francisco Brillantes, Jr., Presiding Judge of the The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for the
Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 20, Manila. purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment
declaring such previous marriage void.
Complainant alleges that he has two children with Yolanda De Castro, who are living
together at No. 34 Galaxy Street, Bel-Air Subdivision, Makati, Metro Manila. He stays Respondent argues that the provision of Article 40 of the Family Code does not apply
in said house, which he purchased in 1987, whenever he is in Manila. to him considering that his first marriage took place in 1965 and was governed by the
Civil Code of the Philippines; while the second marriage took place in 1991 and
In December 1991, upon opening the door to his bedroom, he saw respondent governed by the Family Code.
sleeping on his (complainant's) bed. Upon inquiry, he was told by the houseboy that
respondent had been cohabiting with De Castro. Complainant did not bother to wake Article 40 is applicable to remarriages entered into after the effectivity of the Family
up respondent and instead left the house after giving instructions to his houseboy to Code on August 3, 1988 regardless of the date of the first marriage. Besides, under
take care of his children. Article 256 of the Family Code, said Article is given "retroactive effect insofar as it
does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil
Thereafter, respondent prevented him from visiting his children and even alienated Code or other laws." This is particularly true with Article 40, which is a rule of
the affection of his children for him. procedure. Respondent has not shown any vested right that was impaired by the
application of Article 40 to his case.

Complainant claims that respondent is married to one Zenaida Ongkiko with whom he
has five children, as appearing in his 1986 and 1991 sworn statements of assets and The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the litigants' rights may not
liabilities. Furthermore, he alleges that respondent caused his arrest on January 13, preclude their retroactive application to pending actions. The retroactive application of
1992, after he had a heated argument with De Castro inside the latter's office. procedural laws is not violative of any right of a person who may feel that he is
adversely affected (Gregorio v. Court of Appeals, 26 SCRA 229 [1968]). The reason
is that as a general rule no vested right may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws
For his part, respondent alleges that complainant was not married to De Castro and (Billones v. Court of Industrial Relations, 14 SCRA 674 [1965]).
that the filing of the administrative action was related to complainant's claim on the
Bel-Air residence, which was disputed by De Castro.
Respondent is the last person allowed to invoke good faith. He made a mockery of
the institution of marriage and employed deceit to be able to cohabit with a woman,
Respondent denies that he caused complainant's arrest and claims that he was even who beget him five children.
a witness to the withdrawal of the complaint for Grave Slander filed by De Castro
Respondent passed the Bar examinations in 1962 and was admitted to the practice of
law in 1963. At the time he went through the two marriage ceremonies with Ongkiko,
he was already a lawyer. Yet, he never secured any marriage license. Any law
student would know that a marriage license is necessary before one can get married.
Respondent was given an opportunity to correct the flaw in his first marriage when he
and Ongkiko were married for the second time. His failure to secure a marriage
license on these two occasions betrays his sinister motives and bad faith.

It is evident that respondent failed to meet the standard of moral fitness for
membership in the legal profession.

While the deceit employed by respondent existed prior to his appointment as a


Metropolitan Trial Judge, his immoral and illegal act of cohabiting with De Castro
began and continued when he was already in the judiciary.

The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of a judge must be free of a
whiff of impropriety, not only with respect to his performance of his judicial duties but
also as to his behavior as a private individual. There is no duality of morality. A public
figure is also judged by his private life. A judge, in order to promote public confidence
in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times,
in the performance of his judicial duties and in his everyday life. These are judicial
guideposts too self-evident to be overlooked. No position exacts a greater demand on
moral righteousness and uprightness of an individual than a seat in the judiciary
(Imbing v. Tiongzon, 229 SCRA 690 [1994]).

WHEREFORE, respondent is DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all leave
and retirement benefits and with prejudice to reappointment in any branch,
instrumentality, or agency of the government, including government-owned and
controlled corporations. This decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo,
Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza and Francisco, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines CA-G.R. SP No. 61516 dismissing FBDC's Petition for Review with regard to the
SUPREME COURT Decision of the Court of Ta:x Appeals (CTA) dated October 13, 2000 in CTA Case
Manila No. 5885, and from (b) the Court of Appeals Resolution 3 dated November 30, 2006
denying its Motion for Reconsideration.
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 180035 is likewise an appeal by certiorari pursuant to Rule 45 from (a) the
G.R. No. 175707 November 19, 2014 Court of Appeals Decision4dated April 30, 2007 in CAG.R. SP No. 76540 denying
FBDCs Petition for Review with respect to the CTA Resolution5 dated March 28,
2003 in CTA Case No. 6021, and from (b) the Court of Appeals Resolution 6 dated
FORT BONIFACIO DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner, October 8, 2007 denying its Motion for Reconsideration.
vs.
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and REVENUE DISTRICT OFFICER,
REVENUE DISTRICT NO. 44, TAGUIG and PATEROS, BUREAU OF INTERNAL The CTA Resolution reconsidered and reversed its earlier Decision 7 dated January
REVENUE, Respondents. 30, 2002 ordering respondents in CTA Case No. 6021 to refund or issue a tax credit
certificate infavor of petitioner in the amount ofP77,151,020.46, representing "VAT
erroneously paid by or illegally collected from petitioner for the first quarter of 1998,
x-----------------------x and instead denied petitioners Claim for Refund therefor." 8

G.R. No. 180035 G.R. No. 181092 is also an appeal by certiorari pursuant to Rule 45 from the Court of
Appeals Decision9 dated December 28, 2007 in CA-G.R. SP No. 61158 dismissing
FORT BONIFACIO DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner, FBDCs petition for review with respect to the CTA Decision10 dated September 29,
vs. 2000 in CTA Case No. 5694. The aforesaid CTA Decision, which the Court of
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and REVENUE DISTRICT OFFICER, Appeals affirmed, denied petitioners Claim for Refund in the amount
REVENUE DISTRICT NO. 44, TAGUIG and PATEROS, BUREAU OF INTERNAL of P269,340,469.45, representing "VAT erroneously paid by or illegally collected from
REVENUE, Respondents. petitioner for the fourth quarter of 1996."11

x-----------------------x The facts are not in dispute.

G.R. No. 181092 Petitioner FBDC (petitioner) is a domestic corporation duly registered and existing
under Philippine laws. Its issued and outstanding capital stock is owned in part by the
FORT BONIFACIO DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner, Bases Conversion Development Authority, a wholly owned government corporation
vs. created by Republic Act No. 7227 for the purpose of "accelerating the conversion of
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and REVENUE DISTRICT OFFICER, military reservations into alternative productive uses and raising funds through the
REVENUE DISTRICT NO. 44, TAGUIG and PATEROS, BUREAU OF INTERNAL sale of portions of said military reservationsin order to promote the economic and
REVENUE, Respondents. social development of the country in general."12 The remaining fifty-five per cent
(55%) is owned by Bonifacio Land Corporation, a consortium of private domestic
corporations.13
DECISION
Respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue is the head of the Bureau of Internal
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: Revenue (BIR). Respondent Revenue District Officer, Revenue District No. 44,
Taguig and Pateros, BIR, is the chief of the aforesaid District Office.
The Court has consolidated these three petitions as they involve the same parties,
similar facts and common questions of law. This is not the first time that Fort The parties entered into a Stipulation of Facts, Documents, and Issue14 before the
Bonifacio Development Corporation (FBDC) has come to this Court about these CTA for each case. It was established before the CTA that petitioner is engaged in
issues against the very same respondents, and the Court En Banc has resolved them the development and sale of real property. It is the owner of, and is developing and
in two separate, recent cases1 that are applicable here for reasons to be discussed selling, parcels of land within a "newtown" development area known as the Fort
below. Bonifacio Global City (the Global City), located within the former military camp known
as Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, Metro Manila.15 The National Government, by virtue of
G.R. No. 175707 is an appeal by certiorari pursuant to Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Republic Act No. 722716 and Executive Order No. 40,17was the one that conveyed to
Civil Procedure from (a) the Decision2 dated April 22, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in petitioner these parcels of land on February 8, 1995.
In May 1996, petitioner commenced developing the Global City, and since October Petitioners VAT returns filed with the BIR show that for the second quarter of 1997,
1996, had been selling lots to interested buyers.18 At the time of acquisition, value- petitioner received the total amount of P5,014,755,287.40 from its sales and lease of
added tax (VAT) was not yet imposed on the sale of real properties. Republic Act No. lots, on which the output VAT payable wasP501,475,528.74.26 The VAT returns
7716(the Expanded Value-Added Tax [E-VAT] Law),19 which took effect on January likewise show that petitioner made cash payments totaling P486,355,846.78 and
1, 1996, restructured the VAT system by further amending pertinent provisions of the utilized its input tax credit of P15,119,681.96 on purchases of goods and services.27
National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC). Section 100 of the old NIRC was so
amended by including "real properties" in the definition of the term "goods or On February 11, 1999, petitioner filed with the BIR a claim for refundof the amount
properties," thereby subjecting the sale of "real properties" to VAT. The provision, as of P486,355,846.78 which it paid in cash as VAT for the second quarter of 1997.28
amended, reads:
On May 21, 1999, petitioner filed with the CTA a petition for review29 by way of
SEC. 100. Value-Added Tax on Sale of Goods or Properties. (a) Rate and Base of appeal, docketed as CTA Case No. 5885, from the alleged inaction by respondents of
Tax. There shall be levied, assessed and collected on every sale, barter or petitioners claim for refund with the BIR. On October 1, 1999, the parties submitted
exchange of goods or properties, a value-added tax equivalent to 10% of the gross tothe CTA a Stipulation of Facts, Documents and Issue.30 On October 13, 2000, the
selling price or gross value in money of the goods or properties sold, bartered or CTA issued its Decision31 in CTA Case No. 5885 denying petitioners claim for refund
exchanged, such tax to be paid by the seller or transferor. for lack of merit.

(1) The term "goods or properties" shall mean all tangible and intangible objects On November 23, 2000, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for
which are capable of pecuniary estimation and shall include: Review of the aforesaid CTA Decision, which was docketed as CA-G.R SP No.
61516. On April 22, 2003, the CA issued its Decision 32dismissing the Petition for
(A) Real properties held primarily for sale to customers or held for lease in the Review. On November 30, 2006, the Court of Appeals issued its Resolution 33 denying
ordinary course of trade or business[.] petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.

While prior to Republic Act No. 7716, real estate transactions were not subject to On December 21, 2006, this Petition for Review was filed.
VAT, they became subject to VAT upon the effectivity of said law. Thus, the sale of
the parcels of land by petitioner became subject to a 10% VAT, and this was later Petitioner submitted its Memorandum34 on November 7, 2008 while respondents filed
increased to 12%, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9337.20 Petitioner afterwards their "Comment"35 on May 4, 2009.36
becamea VAT-registered taxpayer.
On December 2, 2009, petitioner submitted a Supplement37 to its Memorandum dated
On September 19, 1996, in accordance with Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 November 6, 2008,stating that the said case is intimately related to the cases of Fort
(Consolidated VAT Regulations), petitioner submitted to respondent BIR, Revenue Bonifacio Development Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No.
District No. 44, Taguig and Pateros, an inventory list of its properties as of February 158885, and Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal
29, 1996. The total book value of petitioners land inventory amounted Revenue," G.R. No. 170680, which were already decided by this Court, and which
toP71,227,503,200.00.21 involve the same parties and similar facts and issues.38

On the basis of Section 105 of the NIRC,22 petitioner claims a transitional or Except for the amounts of tax refund being claimed and the periods covered for each
presumptive input tax creditof 8% ofP71,227,503,200.00, the total value of the real claim, the facts in this case and in the other two consolidated cases below are
properties listed in its inventory, or a total input tax credit ofP5,698,200,256.00.23 After thesame. The parties entered into similar Stipulations in the other two cases
the value of the real properties was reduced dueto a reconveyance by petitioner to consolidated here.39
BCDA of a parcel of land, petitioner claims that it is entitled to input tax credit in the
reduced amountofP4,250,475,000.48.24
G.R. No. 180035
What petitioner seeks to be refunded are the actual VAT payments made by it in
cash, which it claims were either erroneously paid by or illegally collected from We quote relevant portions of the parties Stipulation of Facts, Documents and Issue
it.25 Each Claim for Refund is based on petitioners position that it is entitled to a in CTA Case No. 602140below:
transitional input tax credit under Section 105 of the old NIRC, which more than
offsets the aforesaid VAT payments. 1.11. Per VAT returns filed by petitioner with the BIR, for the second quarter
of 1998, petitioner derived the total amount of P903,427,264.20 from its
G.R. No. 175707 sales and lease of lots, on which the output VAT payable to the Bureau of
Internal Revenue was P90,342,726.42.
1.12. The VAT returns filed by petitioner likewise show that to pay said 1.10. The VAT returns filed by petitioner likewise show that to pay said
amount of P90,342,726.42 due to the BIR, petitioner made cash payments amount of P318,080,792.14 due to the BIR, petitioner made cash payments
totalling P77,151,020.46 and utilized its regular input tax credit totalling P269,340,469.45 and utilized (a) part of the total
ofP39,878,959.37 on purchases of goods and services. transitional/presumptive input tax credit of P5,698,200,256.00 being claimed
by it to the extent ofP28,413,783.00; and (b) its regular input tax credit
1.13. On November 22, 1999, petitioner filed with the BIR a claim for refund of P20,326,539.69 on purchases of goods and services.
of the amount ofP77,151,020.46 which it paid as valueadded tax for the first
quarter of 1998. 1.11. On October 8, 1998 petitioner filed with the BIR a claim for refund of
the amounts ofP269,340,469.45, which it paid as valueadded tax.
1.14. Earlier, on October 8, 1998 and November 17, 1998, February 11,
1999, May 11, 1999, and September 10, 1999, based on similar grounds, 1.12. As of the date of the Petition, no action had been taken by respondents
petitioner filed with the BIR claims for refund of the amounts on petitioners claim for refund.47 (Emphases ours.)
of P269,340,469.45, P359,652,009.47, P486,355,846.78, P347,741,695.74,
and P15,036,891.26, representing value-added taxes paid by it on proceeds Petitioner submitted its Memorandum48 on January 18, 2010 while respondents filed
derived from its sales and lease of lots for the quarters ended December 31, theirs on October 14, 2010.49
1996, March 31, 1997, June 30, 1997, September 30, 1997, and December
31, 1997, respectively. After deducting these amounts
of P269,340,469.45, P359,652,009.47,P486,355,846.78, P347,741,695.74, On March 14, 2013, petitioner filed a Motion for Consolidation 50 of G.R. No. 181092
and P15,036,891.26 from the total amount of P5,698,200,256.00 claimed by with G.R. No. 175707.
petitioner as input tax credit, the remaining input tax credit more than
sufficiently covers the amount of P77,151,020.46 subject of petitioners claim On January 23, 2014, petitioner filed a Motion to Resolve 51 these consolidated cases,
for refund of November 22, 1999. alleging that the parties had already filed their respective memoranda; and, more
importantly, that the principal issue in these cases, whether petitioner is entitled to the
1.15. As of the date of the Petition, no action had been taken by respondents 8% transitional input tax granted in Section 105 (now Section 111[A]) of the NIRC
on petitioners claim for refund of November 22, 1999.41 (Emphases ours.) based on the value of its inventory of land, and as a consequence, to a refund of the
amounts it paid as VAT for the periods in question, had already been resolved by the
Supreme Court En Bancin its Decision dated April 2, 2009 in G.R. Nos. 158885 and
The petition in G.R. No. 180035 "seeks to correct the unauthorized limitation of the 170680, as well as its Decision dated September 4, 2012 in G.R. No. 173425.
term real properties to improvements thereon by Revenue Regulations 7-95 and the Petitioner further alleges that said decided cases involve the same parties, facts, and
error of the Court of Tax Appeals and Court of Appeals in sustaining the aforesaid issues as the cases now before this Court.52
Regulations."42 This theory of petitioner is the same for all three cases now before us.
THEORY OF PETITIONER
On March 14, 2013, petitioner filed a Motion for Consolidation 43 of G.R. No. 180035
with G.R. No. 175707.
Petitioner claims that "the 10% value-added tax is based on the gross selling price or
gross value in money of the goods sold, bartered or exchanged."53 Petitioner
Petitioner submitted itsMemorandum44 on September 15, 2009 while respondents likewise claims thatby definition, the term "goods" was limited to "movable, tangible
filed theirson September 22, 2009.45 objects which is appropriable or transferable" and that said term did not originally
include "real property."54 It was previously defined as follows under Revenue
G.R. No. 181092 Regulations No. 5-87:

The facts summarized below are found in the parties Stipulation of Facts, Documents (p) "Goods" means any movable, tangible objects which is appropriable or
and Issue in CTA Case No. 569446: transferrable. Republic Act No. 7716 (E-VAT Law, January 1, 1996) expanded the
coverage of the original VAT Law (Executive Order No. 273), specifically Section 100
1.09. Per VAT returns filed by petitioner with the BIR, for the fourth quarter of of the old NIRC. According to petitioner, while under Executive Order No. 273, the
1996, petitioner derived the total amount of P3,498,888,713.60 from its sales term "goods" did not include real properties, Republic Act No. 7716, in amending
and lease of lots, on which the output VAT payableto the Bureau of Internal Section 100, explicitly included in the term "goods" "real properties held primarily for
Revenue wasP318,080,792.14. sale to customers or held for lease in the ordinary course of trade or business."
Consequently, the sale, barter, or exchange of real properties was made subject to a
VAT equivalent to 10% (later increased to 12%, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9337) of
the gross selling price of real properties.
Among the new provisions included by Executive Order No. 273 in the NIRC was the "Input tax"means the value-added tax due from or paid by a VAT registered person
following: SEC. 105. Transitional Input Tax Credits. A person who becomes liable on importation of goodsor local purchases of goods or services, including lease or
to value-added tax orany person who elects to be a VAT registered person shall, use of property, from another VAT-registered person in the course ofhis trade or
subject to the filing of an inventory as prescribed by regulations, be allowed input tax business. It shall also include the transitional or presumptive input tax determined in
on his beginning inventory of goods, materials and supplies equivalent to 8%of the accordance with Section 105 of the Code.
value of such inventory or the actual value-added tax paid on such goods, materials
and supplies, whichever is higher, which shall be creditable against the output tax. xxxx

According to petitioner, the E-VAT Law, Republic Act No. 7716, did not amend SECTION 4.105-1. Transitional input tax on beginning inventories. Taxpayers who
Section 105. Thus, Section 105, as quoted above, remained effective even after the became VAT-registered persons upon effectivity of RA No. 7716 who have exceeded
enactment of Republic Act No. 7716. the minimum turnover of P500,000.00 or who voluntarily register even if their turnover
does not exceed P500,000.00 shall be entitled to a presumptive input tax on the
Previously, or on December 9, 1995, the Secretary of Finance and the Commissioner inventory on hand as of December 31, 1995 on the following; (a) goods purchased for
of Internal Revenue issued Revenue Regulations No. 7-95, which included the sale in their present condition; (b) materials purchased for further processing, but
following provisions: SECTION 4.100-1. Value-added tax on sale of goods or which have not yet undergone processing; (c) goods which have been manufactured
properties. VAT is imposed and collected on every sale, barter or exchange or by the taxpayer; (d) goods in process and supplies, all of which are for sale or for use
transactions "deemed sale" of taxable goods or properties at the rate of 10% of the in the course of the taxpayer's trade or business as a VAT-registered person.
gross selling price.
However, in the case of real estate dealers, the basis of the presumptive input tax
"Gross selling price" means the total amount of money or its equivalent which the shall be the improvements, such as buildings, roads, drainage systems, and other
purchaser pays or is obligated to pay to the seller in consideration of the sale, barter similar structures, constructed on or after effectivity of E.O. 273 (January 1, 1988).
or exchange of the goods or properties, excluding the value-added tax. The excise
tax, if any, on such goods or properties shall form part of the gross selling price. In the The transitional input tax shall be 8% of the value of the inventory or actual VAT paid,
case of sale, barter or exchange of real property subject to VAT, gross selling price whichever is higher, which amount may be allowed as tax credit against the output
shall mean the consideration stated in the sales document or the zonal value tax of the VAT-registered person.
whichever is higher. Provided however, in the absence of zonal value, gross selling
price refers to the market value shown in the latest declaration or the consideration
whichever is higher. The value allowed for income tax purposes on inventories shall be the basis for the
computation of the 8% excluding goods that are exempt from VAT under SECTION
103. Only VAT-registered persons shall be entitled to presumptive input tax credits.
"Taxable sale" refers to the sale, barter, exchange and/or lease of goods or
properties, including transactions "deemed sale" and the performance of service for a
consideration, all of which are subject to tax under Sections 100 and 102 of the Code. xxxx

Any person otherwise required to register for VAT purposes who fails to register shall TRANSITORY PROVISIONS
also be liable to VAT on his sale of taxable goods or properties as defined in the
preceding paragraph. The sale of goods subject to excise tax is also subject to VAT, (a) Presumptive Input Tax Credits
except manufactured petroleum products (other than lubricating oil, processed gas,
grease, wax and petrolatum). (i) For goods, materials or supplies not for sale but purchased for use in
business in their present condition, which are not intended for further
"Goods or properties" refer to all tangible and intangible objects which are capable of processing and are on hand as of December 31, 1995, a presumptive input
pecuniary estimation and shall include: tax equivalent to 8% of the value of the goods or properties shall be allowed.

1. Real properties held primarily for sale to customers or held for lease in the ordinary (ii) For goods or properties purchased with the object of resale in their
course of trade or business. present condition, the same presumptive input tax equivalent to 8% of the
value of the goods unused as of December 31, 1995 shall be allowed, which
xxxx amount may also be credited against the output tax of a VAT-registered
person.
SECTION 4.104-1. Credits for input tax.
(iii) For real estate dealers, the presumptive input tax of 8% of the book transactions involved inthese consolidated cases took place after Revenue
value of improvements constructed on or after January 1, 1988 (the Regulations No. 6-97 took effect, under the provisions of which the transitional input
effectivityof E.O. 273) shall be allowed. tax credit with regardto real properties would be based on the value of the land
inventory and not limited to the value of the improvements.
For purposes of sub-paragraph (i), (ii) and (iii) above, an inventory as of December
31, 1995 of such goods or properties and improvements showing the quantity, Petitioner assigns another error: the Court of Appeals erred in holding that Revenue
description, and amount should be filed with the RDO not later than January 31, Regulations No. 7-95 isa valid implementation of the NIRC and in according it great
1996. (Emphases supplied.) respect, and should have held that the same is invalid for being contrary to the
provisions of Section 105 of the NIRC.59 Petitioner contends that Revenue
Petitioner argues that Section 4.100-1 of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 explicitly Regulations No. 7-95 is not valid for being contrary to the express provisions of
limited the term "goods" as regards real properties to "improvements, such as Section 105 of the NIRC, and in fact amends the same, for it limited the scope of
buildings, roads, drainage systems, and other similar structures," thereby excluding Section 105 "to less than what the law provides."60 Petitioner elaborates:
the real property itself from the coverage of the term "goods" as it is used in Section
105 of the NIRC. This has brought about, as a consequence, the issues involved in [Revenue Regulations No. 7-95] illegally constricted the provisions of the aforesaid
the instant case. section. It delimited the coverage of Section 105 and practically amended it in
violation of the fundamental principle that administrative regulations are subordinate
Petitioner claims that the "Court of Appeals erred in not holding that Revenue to the law. Based on the numerous authorities cited above, Section 4.105-1 and the
Regulations No. 6-97 has effectively repealed or repudiated Revenue Regulations Transitory Provisions of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 are invalid and ineffective
No. 7-95 insofar as the latter limited the transitional/presumptive input tax credit which insofar as they limit the input tax credit to 8% of the value of the "improvements" on
may be claimed under Section 105 of the NIRC to the improvements on real land, for being contrary to the express provisions of Section 105, in relation to Section
properties."55Petitioner argues that the provision in Section 4.105-1 of Revenue 100, of the NIRC, and the Court of Appeals should have so held.61 Petitioner likewise
Regulations No. 7-95 stating that in the case of real estate dealers, the basis of the raises the following arguments:
input tax credit shall be the improvements, has been deleted by Revenue Regulations
No. 6-97, dated January 2, 1997,which amended Revenue Regulations No. 7-95. The rule that the construction given by the administrative agency charged with the
Revenue Regulations No. 6-97 was issued to implement Republic Act No. 8241 (the enforcement of the law should be accorded great weight by the courts, does not apply
law amending Republic Act No. 7716, the E-VAT Law), which took effect on January here.62 x x x Section 4.105-1 of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 neither exclude[s]
1, 1997. Petitioner notes that Section 4.105-1 of Revenue Regulations No. 6-97 is but nor prohibit[s] that the 8% input tax credit may also [be] based on the taxpayers
a reenactment of Section 4.105-1 of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95, with the only inventory of land.63
difference being that the following paragraph in Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 was
deleted: The issuance of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 by the [BIR], which changed the
statutory definition of "goods" with regard to the application of Section 105 of the
However, in the case of real estate dealers, the basis of the presumptive input tax NIRC, and the declaration of validity of said regulations by the Court of Appeals and
shall be the improvements, such as buildings, roads, drainage systems, and other Court of Tax Appeals, was in violation of the fundamental principle of separation of
similar structures, constructed on or after the effectivity of E.O. 273 (January 1, 1988). powers.64

Petitioner calls this an express repeal, and with the deletion of the above paragraph, xxxx
what stands and should be applied "is the statutory definition in Section 100 of the
NIRC of the term goods in Section 105 thereof."56 Insofar, therefore, as Revenue Regulation[s] No. 7-95 limited the scope of the term
"goods" under Section 105, to "improvements" on real properties, contrary to the
Petitioner contends that the relevant provision now states that "[t]he transitional input definition of "goods" in Section 100, [RR] No. 7-95 decreed "what the law shall be",
tax credit shall be eight percent (8%) of the value of the beginning inventory x x x on now "how the law may be enforced", and is, consequently, of no effect because it
such goods, materials and supplies." It no longer limits the allowable transitional input constitutes undue delegation of legislative power.
tax credit to "improvements" on the real properties. The amendment recognizes that
the basis of the 8% input tax credit should not be confinedto the value of the xxxx
improvements. Petitioner further contends that the Commissioner of Internal Revenue
has in fact corrected the mistake in Revenue Regulations No. 7-95.57
[T]he transgression by the BIR and the CTA and CA of the basic principle of
separation of powers, including the fundamental rule of nondelegation of legislative
Petitioner argues that Revenue Regulations No. 6-97, being beneficial to the power, is clear.65 Furthermore, petitioner claims that:
taxpayer, should be given a retroactive application. 58 Petitioner states that the
SINCE THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 105 OF THE [NIRC] IN RELATION 3. Section 4.105-1 of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 of the BIR is valid,
TO SECTION 100 THEREOF, ARE CLEAR, THERE WAS NO BASIS AND effective and has the force and effect of law, which implemented Section 105
NECESSITY FOR THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE AND THE of the NIRC.71
COURT OF APPEALS AND THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS TO
INTERPRET AND CONSTRUE THE SAME.66 In respondents Comment72 dated November 3, 2008 in G.R. No. 180035, they
averred that petitioners claim for the 8% transitional/presumptive input tax is
PETITIONER IS CLEARLY ENTITLED TO THE "inconsistent with the purpose and intent of the law in granting such tax refund or tax
TRANSITIONAL/PRESUMPTIVE INPUT TAX CREDIT GRANTED IN credit."73 Respondents raise the following arguments:
SECTION 105 OF THE NIRCAND HENCE TO A REFUND OF THE VALUE-
ADDED TAX PAID BY IT FOR THE SECOND QUARTER OF 1997.67 1. The transitional input tax provided under Section 105 in relation to Section
100 of the Tax Code, as amended by EO No. 273 effective January 1, 1988,
Petitioner insists that there was no basis and necessity for the BIR, the CTA, and the is subject to certain conditions which petitioner failed to meet.74
Court of Appeals to interpret and construe Sections 100 and 105 of the NIRC
because "where the law speaks in clear and categorical language, or the terms of the 2. The claim for petitioner for transitional input tax is in the nature of a tax
statute are clear and unambiguous and free from doubt, there is no room for exemption which should be strictly construed against it. 75
interpretation or construction and no interpretation or construction is called for; there
is only room for application."68 Petitioner asserts that legislative intent is determined
primarily from the language of the statute; legislative intent has to be discovered from 3. Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 is valid and consistent with provisions of
the four corners of the law; and thus, where no ambiguity appears, it may be the NIRC.76 Moreover, respondents contend that:
presumed conclusivelythat the clear and explicit terms of a statute express the
legislative intention.69 "[P]etitioner is not legally entitled to any transitional input tax credit, whether it be the
8% presumptive inputtax credit or any actual input tax credit in respect of its inventory
So looking at the cases now before us, petitioner avers that the Court of Appeals, the of land brought into the VAT regime beginning January 1, 1996, in view of the
CTA, and the BIR did not merely interpret and construe Section 105, and that they following:
virtually amended the said section, for it is allegedly clear from Section 105 of the old
NIRC, in relation to Section 100, that "legislative intent is to the effect that the 1. VAT free acquisition of the raw land. petitioner purchased and acquired, from the
taxpayer is entitled to the input tax credit based on the value of the beginning Government, the aforesaid raw land under a VAT free sale transaction. The
inventory of land, not merely on the improvements thereon, and irrespective of any Government, as a vendor, was tax-exempt and accordingly did not pass on any VAT
prior payment of sales tax or VAT."70 or sales tax as part of the price paid therefor by the petitioner.

THEORY OF RESPONDENTS 2. No transitory input tax on inventory of land is allowed. Section 105 of the Code, as
amended by Republic Act No. 7716, and as implemented by Section 4.105-1 of
Petitioners claims for refund were consistently denied in the three cases now before Revenue Regulations No. 7-95, expressly provides that no transitional input tax credit
us. Even if inone case, G.R. No. 180035, petitioner succeeded in getting a favorable shall be allowed to real estate dealers in respect of their beginning inventory of land
decision from the CTA, the grant of refund or tax credit was subsequently reversed on brought into the VAT regime beginning January 1, 1996 (supra). Likewise, the
respondents Motion for Reconsideration, and such denial ofpetitioners claim was Transitory Provisions [(a) (iii)] of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 categorically states
affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Respondents reasons for denying petitioners that "for real estate dealers, the presumptive input tax of 8% of the book value of
claims are summarized in their Comment in G.R. No. 175707, and we quote: improvements constructed on or after January 1, 1998 (effectivity of E.O. 273) shall
be allowed." For purposes of subparagraphs (i), (ii) and (iii) above, an inventory as of
December 31, 1995 ofsuch goods or properties and improvements showing the
REASONS WHY PETITION SHOULD BE DENIED OR DISMISSED quantity, description, and amount should be filed with the RDO not later than January
31, 1996. It is admitted that petitioner filed its inventory listing of real properties on
1. The 8% input tax credit provided for in Section 105 of the NIRC, in relation September 19, 1996 or almost nine (9) months late in contravention [of] the
to Section 100 thereof, is based on the value of the improvements on the requirements in Revenue Regulations No. 7-95."77
land.
Respondents, quoting the Civil Code,78 argue that Section 4.105-1 of Revenue
2. The taxpayer is entitled to the input tax credit provided for in Section 105 Regulations No. 7-95 has the force and effect of a law since it is not contrary to any
of the NIRC only if it has previously paid VAT or sales taxes on its inventory law or the Constitution. Respondents add that "[w]hen the administrative agency
of land. promulgates rules and regulations, it makes a new law with the force and effect of a
valid law x x x."79
ISSUES Section 4.105-1 of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95, which the CTA claims is
consistent and in harmony with the law it seeks to implement. Thus, the CTA denied
The main issue before us now is whether or not petitioner is entitled to a refund of the petitioners claim for refund.86
amounts of: 1)P486,355,846.78 in G.R. No. 175707, 2) P77,151,020.46 for G.R. No.
180035, and 3) P269,340,469.45 in G.R. No. 181092, which it paid as value-added 2. CA-G.R. No. 61516 Decision (April 22, 2003)
tax, or to a tax credit for said amounts.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the CTA and ruled that petitioner is not entitled to
To resolve the issue stated above, it is also necessary to determine: refund or tax credit in the amount of P486,355,846.78 and stated that "Revenue
Regulations No. 7-95 is a valid implementation of the NIRC."87 According to the
Whether the transitional/presumptive input tax credit under Section 105 of the NIRC Court of Appeals:
may be claimed only on the "improvements" on real properties;
"[P]etitioner acquired the contested property from the National Government under a
Whether there must have been previous payment of sales tax or value added tax by VAT-free transaction. The Government, as a vendor was outside the operation of the
petitioner on its land before it may claim the input tax credit granted by Section 105 of VATand ergo, could not possibly have passed on any VAT or sales tax as part of the
the NIRC; purchase price to the petitioner as vendee."88

Whether Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 is a valid implementation of Section 105 of x x x [T]he grant of transitional input tax credit indeed presupposes that the
the NIRC; and manufacturers, producers and importers should have previously paid sales taxes on
their inventories. They were given the benefit of transitional input tax credits,
precisely, to make up for the previously paid sales taxes which were now abolished
Whether the issuance of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 by the BIR, and declaration by the VAT Law. It bears stressing that the VAT Law took the place of privilege taxes,
of validity of saidRegulations by the Court of Tax Appeals and the Court of Appeals, percentage taxes and sales taxes on original or subsequent sale of articles. These
was in violation of the fundamental principle of separation of powers. taxes were substituted by the VAT at the constant rate of 0% or 10%. 89

THE RULINGS BELOW 3. CA-G.R. No. 61516 Resolution (November 30, 2006)

A. G.R. No. 175707 Upon petitioners Motion for Reconsideration, the Court of Appeals affirmed its
decision, but we find the following statement by the appellate court worthy of note:
1. CTA Case No. 5885 Decision (October 13, 2000)
We concede that the inventory restrictions under Revenue Regulation No. 7-95
The CTA traced the history of "transitional input tax credit" from the original VAT Law limiting the coverage of the inventory only to acquisition cost of the materials used in
of 1988 (Executive Order No. 273) up to the Tax Reform Act of 1997 and looked into building "improvements" has already been deleted by Revenue Regulation 6-97. This
Section 105 of the Tax Code. According to the CTA, the BIR issued Revenue notwithstanding, we are poised to sustain our earlier ruling as regards the refund
Regulations No. 5-87, specifically Section 26(b),80 to implement the provisions of presently claimed.90
Section 105. The CTA concluded from these provisions that "the purpose of granting
transitional input tax credit to be utilized as payment for output VAT is primarily to give B. G.R. No. 180035
recognition to the sales tax component of inventories which would qualify as input tax
credit had such goods been acquired during the effectivity of the VAT Law of
1988."81The CTA stated that the purpose of transitional input tax credit remained the 1. CTA Case No. 6021 Decision (January 30, 2002)
same even after the amendments introduced by the E-VAT Law.82 The CTA held that
"the rationale in granting the transitional input tax credit also serves as its condition The CTA sustained petitioners position and held that respondent erred in basing the
for its availment as a benefit"83 and that "[i]nherent in the law is the condition of prior transitional input tax credit of real estate dealers on the value of the
payment of VAT or sales taxes."84 The CTA excluded petitioner from availing of the improvements.91 The CTA ratiocinated as follows:
transitional input tax credit provided by law, reasoning that "to base the 8%
transitional input tax on the book value of the land isto negate the purpose of the law This Court, in upholding the position taken by the petitioner, is convinced that Section
in granting such benefit. It would be tantamount to giving an undeserved bonus to real 105 of the Tax Code is clear in itself. Explicit therefrom is the fact that a taxpayer shall
estate dealers similarly situated as petitioner which the Government cannot afford to be allowed a transitional/presumptive input tax credit based on the value of its
provide."85 Furthermore, the CTA held that respondent was correct in basing the 8% beginning inventory of goods which is defined in Section 100 as to encompass even
transitional input tax credit on the value of the improvements on the land, citing real property. x x x.92
The CTA went on to point out inconsistencies it had found between the transitory To prove the fact of overpayment, Petitioner presented the original Monthly VAT
provisions of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 and the law it sought to implement, in Declaration for the month of January 1998 showing the amount of P77,151,020.46 as
the following manner: the cash component of the value-added taxes paid (Exhibits E-14 & E-14-A) which is
the subject matter of the instant claim for refund.
Notice that letter (a)(ii) of the x x x transitory provisions 93 states that goods or
properties purchased with the object of resalein their present condition comes with In Petitioners amended quarterly VAT return for the 1st quarter of 1998 (Exhibit D-1),
the corresponding 8% presumptive input tax of the value of the goods, which amount Petitioner deducted the amount of P77,151,020.46 from the total available input tax
may alsobe credited against the output tax of a VAT-registered person. It must be toshow that the amount being claimed would no longer be available as input tax
remembered that Section 100 as amended by Republic Act No. 7716 extends the credit.
term "goods or properties" to real properties held primarily for sale to customers or
held for lease in the ordinary course of trade or business. This provision alone entitles In conclusion, the Petitioner has satisfactorily proven its entitlement to the refund of
Petitioner to the 8%presumptive input tax of the value of the land (goods or value-added taxes paid for the first quarter of taxable year 1998.
properties) sold. However in letter (a)(iii) of the same Transitory Provisions,
Respondent apparently changed his (sic) course when it declared that real estate
dealers are only entitled to the 8% of the value of the improvements. This glaring WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition for Review is GRANTED.
inconsistency between the two provisions prove that Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 Respondents are hereby ORDERED to REFUND or issue a TAX CREDIT
was not a result of an intensive study and analysis and may have been haphazardly CERTIFICATE in favor of the Petitioner the total amount of P77,151,020.46
formulated.94 representing the erroneously paid value-added tax for the first quarter of 1998.96

The CTA held that the implementing regulation, which provides that the 8% 2. CTA Case No. 6021 Resolution (March 28, 2003)
transitional input tax shall bebased on the improvements only of the real properties, is
neither valid nor effective.95 The CTA also sustained petitioners argument that The CTA reversedits earlier ruling upon respondents motion for reconsideration and
Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 provides no specific date as to when the inventory list thus denied petitioners claim for refund. The CTA reasoned and concluded as
should be submitted. The relevant portion of the CTA decision reads: follows:

The only requirement is that the presumptive input tax shall be supported by an The vortex of the controversy in the instant case actually involves the question of
inventory of goods asshown in a detailed list to be submitted to the BIR. Moreover, whether or not Section 4.105-1 of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95, issued by the
the requirement of filing an inventory of goods not later than January 31, 1996 inthe Secretary of Finance upon recommendation of the Commissioner of Internal
transitory provision of the same regulation refers to the recognition of presumptive Revenue, is valid and consistent with and not violative of Section 105 of the Tax
input tax on goods or properties on hand as of December 31, 1995 of taxpayers Code, in relation to Section 100 (a)(1)(A).
already liable to VAT as of that date.
xxxx
Clearly, Petitioner is entitled to the presumptive input tax in the amount
of P5,698,200,256.00, computed as follows: We agree with the position taken by the respondents that Revenue Regulations No.
7-95 is not contrary to the basic law which it seeks to implement. As clearly worded,
Book Value of Inventory x x x P71,227,503,200.00 Section 105 of the Tax Code provides that a person who becomes liable to value-
added tax or any person who elects to be a VAT-registered person shall be allowed
Multiply by Presumptive 8% transitional input tax subject to the filing of an inventory as prescribed by
regulations.
Input Tax rate _____ 8%
Section 105, which requires the filing of an inventory for the grant of the transitional
input tax, is couched in a manner where there is a need for an implementing rule or
Available Presumptive Input Tax P5,698,200,256.00 regulation tocarry its intendment. True to its wordings, the BIR issued Revenue
Regulations No. 7-95 (specifically Section 4.105-1) which succinctly mentioned that
The failure of the Petitioner to consider the presumptive input tax in the computation the basis of the presumptive input tax shall be the improvements in case of real
of its output tax liability for the 1st quarter of 1998 results to overpayment of the VAT estate dealers.97
for the same period.
xxxx
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant Motion for Reconsideration filed present tax credit method adopted in this jurisdiction whereby an entity can credit
by respondents is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, petitioners claim for refund of the against or subtract from the VAT charged on its sales or outputs the VAT paid on its
alleged overpaid Value-Added Tax in the amount ofP77,151,020.46 covering the first purchases, inputs and imports.
quarter of 1998 is hereby DENIEDfor lack of merit.98
We proceed to traverse another argument raised in this controversy. Petitioner insists
3. CA-G.R. SP No. 76540 Decision (April 30, 2007) that the term "goods" which was one of the bases in computing the transitional
inputtax credit must be construed so as to include real properties held primarily for
The Court of Appeals affirmed the CTAs Resolution denying petitioners claim for sale to customers. Petitioner posits that respondent Commissioner practically rewrote
refund, and we quote portions of the discussion from the Court of Appeals decision the law when it issued Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 which limited the basis of the
below: 8% transitional input tax credit to the value of improvements alone.

To Our mind, the key to resolving the jugular issue of this controversy involves a Petitioner is clearly mistaken.
deeper analysis on how the much-contested transitional input tax credit has been
encrypted in the countrys valueadded tax (VAT) system. The term "goods" has been defined to mean any movable or tangible objects which
are appreciable or tangible. More specifically, the word "goods" is always used to
xxxx designate wares, commodities, and personal chattels; and does not include chattels
real."Real property" on the other hand, refers to land, and generally whatever is
erected or growing upon or affixed to land. It is therefore quite absurd to equate
x x x [T]he Commissioner of Internal Revenue promulgated Revenue Regulations No. "goods" as being synonymous to "properties". The vast difference between the terms
7-95which laid down, among others, the basis of the transitional input tax credit for "goods" and "real properties" is so obvious that petitioners assertion must be
real estate dealers:99 x x x x struckdown for being utterly baseless and specious.

The Regulation unmistakably allows credit for transitional input tax of any person who Along this line, We uphold the validity of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95. The
becomes liable to VAT or who elects to be a VAT registered person. More authority of the Secretary of Finance, in conjunction with the Commissioner of Internal
particularly, real estate dealers who were beforehand not subject to VAT are allowed Revenue, to promulgate all needful rules and regulations for the effective
a tax credit to cushion the staggering effect of the newly imposed 10% output VAT enforcement of internal revenue laws cannot be controverted. Neither can it be
liability under RA No. 7716. disputed that such rules and regulations, as well as administrative opinions and
rulings, ordinarily should deserve weight and respect by the courts. Much more
Bearing in mind the purpose of the transitional input tax credit under the VAT system, fundamental than either of the above, however, is that all such issuances must not
We find it incongruous to grant petitioners claim for tax refund. We take note of the override, but must remain consistent and in harmony with, the law they seek to apply
fact that petitioner acquired the Global City lots from the National Government. The and implement. Administrative rules and regulations are intended to carry out, neither
transaction was not subject to any sales or business tax. Since the seller did not pass to supplant nor to modify, the law. Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 is clearly not
on any tax liability to petitioner, the latter may not claim tax credit. Clearly then, inconsistent with the prevailing statute insofar as the provision on transitional inputtax
petitioner cannot simply demand that it is entitled to the transitional input tax credit. credit is concerned.100

xxxx 4. CA-G.R. SP No. 76540 Resolution (October 8, 2007)

Another point.Section 105 of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended by EO In this Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration
No. 273, explicitly provides that the transitional input tax credit shall be based on "the of its Decision dated April 30, 2007.
beginning inventory of goods, materials and supplies orthe actual value-added tax
paid on such goods, materials and supplies, whichever is higher." Note that the law C. G.R. No. 181092
did not simply say the transitional input tax credit shall be 8% of the beginning
inventory of goods, materials and supplies.
1. CTA Case No. 5694 Decision (September 29, 2000)
Instead, lawmakers went on to say that the creditable input tax shall be whichever is
higher between the value of the inventory and the actual VAT paid. Necessarily then, The CTA ruled that petitioner is not automatically entitled to the 8% transitional input
a comparison of these two figures would have to be made. This strengthens Our view tax allowed under Section 105 of the Tax Code based solely on its inventory of real
that previous payment of the VAT is indispensable to determine the actual value of properties, and cited the rule on uniformity in taxation duly enshrined in the
the input tax creditable against the output tax. So too, this is in consonance with the Constitution.101 According to the CTA:
As defined under the above Section 104 of the Tax Code, an "input tax" means the Evidently, Petitioner is not similarly situated both as to privileges and liabilities to that
VAT paid by a VAT-registered person in the course of his trade or business on of a VAT-registered person who has paid actual 10% input VAT on his purchases of
importation ofgoods or services from a VAT registered person; and that such tax shall goods, materials and supplies. The latter person will not earn anything from his
include the transitional input tax determined in accordance with Section 105 of the transitional input tax which, to emphasize, has been paid by him because the same
Tax Code,supra.102 will just offset his 10% output VAT liability. On the other hand, herein Petitioner will
earn gratis the amount equivalent to 10% output VAT it has passed on to buyers for
Applying the rule on statutory construction that particular words, clauses and phrases the simple reason that it has never previously paid any input tax on its goods. Its gain
should not be studied as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every will be facilitated by herein claim for refund if ever granted. This is the reason why we
part of the statute must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts in order do not see any incongruity in Section 4.105-1 of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 as it
to produce a harmonious whole, the phrase "transitional input tax" found in Section relates to Section 105 of the 1996 Tax Code, contrary to the contention of Petitioner.
105 should be understood to encompass goods, materials and supplies which are Section 4.105-1 (supra), which bases the transitional input tax credit on the value of
subject to VAT, in line with the context of "input tax" as defined in Section 104, most the improvements, is consistent with the purpose of the law x x x. 106
especially that the latter includes, and immediately precedes, the former under its
statutory meaning. Petitioners contention that the 8% transitional input tax is 2. CA-G.R. SP No. 61158 Decision (December 28, 2007) The Court of Appeals
statutorily presumed to the extent that its real properties which have not been affirmed the CTAs denial of petitioners claim for refund and upheld the validity of the
subjected to VAT are entitled thereto, would directly contradict "input tax" as defined questioned Revenue Regulation issued by respondent Commissioner ofInternal
in Section 104 and would invariably cause disharmony.103 Revenue, reasoning as follows:

The CTA held that the 8% transitional input tax should not be viewed as an outright Sec. 105 of the NIRC, as amended, provides that the allowance for the 8% input tax
grant or presumption without need of prior taxes having been paid. Expounding on on the beginning inventory of a VAT-covered entity is "subject to the filing of an
this, the CTA said: The simple instance in the aforesaid paragraphs of requiring the inventory as prescribed by regulations." This means that the legislature left to the BIR
tax on the materials, supplies or goods comprising the inventory to be currently the determination of what will constitute the beginning inventory ofgoods, materials
unutilized as deferred sales tax credit before the 8% presumptive input tax can be and supplies which will, in turn, serve as the basis for computing the 8% input tax.
enjoyed readily leads to the inevitable conclusion that such 8% tax cannot be just
granted toany VAT liable person if he has no priorly paid creditable sales taxes. While the power to tax cannot be delegated to executive agencies, details as to the
Legislative intent thus clearly points to priorly paid taxes on goods, materials and enforcement and administration of an exercise of such power may be left to them,
supplies before a VAT registered person can avail of the 8% presumptive input tax. 104 including the power to determine the existence of facts on which its operation
depends x x x. Hence, there is no gainsaying that the CIR and the Secretary of
Anent the applicability to petitioners case of the requirement under Article VI, Section Finance, in limiting the application of the input tax of real estate dealers to
28, par. 1 of the Constitution that the rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable, improvements constructed on or after January 1, 1988, merely exercised their
the CTA held thus: Granting arguendo that Petitioner is statutorily presumed to be delegated authority under Sec. 105, id., to promulgate rules and regulations defining
entitled to the 8% transitional input tax as provided in Section 105, even without what should be included in the beginning inventory of a VAT-registered entity.
having previously paid any tax on its inventory of goods, Petitioner would be placed at
a more advantageous position than a similar VAT-registered person who also xxxx
becomes liable to VAT but who has actually paid VAT on his purchases of goods,
materials and supplies. This is evident from the alternative modes of acquiring the
proper amount of transitional input tax under Section 105, supra. One is by getting the In the instant case, We find that, contrary to petitioners attacks against its validity, the
equivalent amount of 8% tax based on the beginning inventory of goods, materials limitation on the beginning inventory of real estate dealers contained in Sec. 4.105-1
and supplies and the other is by the actual VAT paid on such goods, materials and of RR No. 7-95 is reasonable and consistent with the natureof the input VAT. x x x.
supplies, whichever is higher.
Based on the foregoing antecedents, it is clear why the second paragraph of Sec.
As it is supposed to work, the transitional input tax should answer for the 10% output 4.105-1 of RR No. 7-95 limits the transitional input taxes of real estate dealers to the
VAT liability thata VAT-registered person will incur once he starts business value of improvements constructed on or after January 1, 1988. Since the sale of the
operations. While a VAT-registered person who is allowed a transitional input tax land was not subject to VAT or other sales taxes prior to the effectivity of Rep. Act No.
based on his actual payment of 10% VAT on his purchases can utilize the same to 7716, real estate dealers at that time had no input taxes to speak of. With this in
pay for his output VAT liability, a similar VAT-registered person like herein Petitioner, mind, the CIR correctly limited the application of the 8% transitional input tax to
when allowed the alternative 8% transitional input tax, can offset his output VAT improvements on real estate dealers constructed on or after January 1, 1988 when
liability equally through such 8% tax even without having paid any previous tax. This the VAT was initially implemented. This is, as it should be, for to grant petitioner a
obvious inequity that may arise could not have been the intention and purpose of the refund or credit for input taxes it never paid would be tantamount to unjust
lawmakers in granting the transitional input tax credit. x x x105 enrichment.
As petitioner itself observes, the input tax credit provided for by Sec. 105 of the NIRC 105 of the National Internal Revenue Code to the "improvements" on real
is a mechanism used to grant some relief from burden some taxes. It follows, properties.
therefore, that not having been burdened by VAT or any other sales tax on its
inventory of land prior to the effectivity of Rep. Act No. 7716, petitioner is not entitled 3.05.b. Whether Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 is a valid implementation of
to the relief afforded by Sec. 105, id.107 Section 105 of the National Internal Revenue Code.

The Court of Appeals ruled that petitioner is not similarly situated as those business 3.05.c. Whether the issuance of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 by the
entities which previously paid taxes on their inputs, and stressed that "a tax refund or Bureau of Internal Revenue, and declaration of validity of said Regulations
credit x x x is in the nature of a tax exemption which must be construed strictissimi by the Court of Tax Appeals and Court of Appeals, [were] in violation of the
juris against the taxpayer x x x."108 fundamental principle of separation of powers.

THIS COURTS RULING 3.05.d. Whether there is basis and necessity to interpret and construe the
provisions of Section 105 of the National Internal Revenue Code.
As previously stated, the issues here have already been passed upon and resolved
by this Court En Banc twice, in decisions that have reached finality, and we are bound 3.05.e. Whether there must have been previous payment of business tax
by the doctrine of stare decisis to apply those decisions to these consolidated cases, [sales tax or value-added tax]110by petitioner on its land before it may claim
for they involve the same facts, issues, and even parties. the input tax credit granted by Section 105 of the National Internal Revenue
Code.
Thus, we find for the petitioner.
3.05.f. Whether the Court of Appeals and Court of Tax Appeals merely
DISCUSSION speculated on the purpose of the transitional/presumptive input tax provided
for in Section 105 of the National Internal Revenue Code.
The errors assigned by petitioner to the Court of Appeals and the arguments offered
by respondents to support the denial of petitioners claim for tax refund have already 3.05.g. Whether the economic and socialobjectives in the acquisition of the
been dealt with thoroughly by the Court En Banc in Fort Bonifacio Development subject property by petitioner from the Government should be taken into
Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. Nos. 158885 and 170680 consideration.111
(Decision - April 2, 2009; Resolution - October 2, 2009); and Fort Bonifacio
Development Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 173425 The Courts pronouncements in the decided cases regarding these issues are
(Decision - September 4, 2012; Resolution - January 22, 2013). discussed below. The doctrine of stare decisis et non quieta movere, which means "to
abide by, or adhere to, decided cases,"112 compels us to apply the rulings by the
The Court En Bancdecided on the following issues in G.R. Nos. 158885 and 170680: Court tothese consolidated cases before us. Under the doctrine of stare decisis,
"when this Court has once laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certainstate
1. In determining the 10% value-added tax in Section 100 of the [Old NIRC] of facts, it will adhere to that principle, and apply it to all future cases, where facts are
on the sale of real properties by real estate dealers, is the 8% transitional substantially the same; regardless of whether the parties and property are the
input tax credit in Section 105 applied only to the improvements on the real same."113 This is to provide stability in judicial decisions, as held by the Court in a
property or is it applied on the value of the entire real property? previous case:

2. Are Section 4.105.1 and paragraph (a)(III) of the Transitory Provisions of Stand by the decisions and disturb not what is settled. Stare decisis simply means
Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 valid in limiting the 8% transitional input tax that for the sake of certainty, a conclusion reached in one case should be applied to
to the improvements on the real property? those that follow if the facts are substantially the same, even though the parties may
be different. It proceeds from the first principle of justice that, absent any powerful
countervailing considerations, like cases ought to be decided alike. 114
Subsequently, in G.R. No. 173425, the Court resolved issues that are identical to the
ones raised here by petitioner,109 thus:
More importantly, we cannot depart from the legal precedents as laid down by the
Court En Banc. It is provided in the Constitution that "no doctrine or principle of law
3.05.a. Whether Revenue Regulations No. 6-97 effectively repealed or laid down by the court in a decision rendered en bancor in division may be modified
repudiated Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 insofar as the latter limited the or reversed except by the court sitting en banc." 115
transitional/presumptive input tax credit which may be claimed under Section
What is left for this Court to do is to reiterate the rulings in the aforesaid legal business. It is clear that those regularly engaged in the real estate business are
precedents and apply them to these consolidated cases. accorded the same treatment as the merchants of other goods or properties available
in the market. In the same way that a milliner considers hats as his goods and a
As regards the main issue, the Court conclusively held that petitioner is entitled to the rancher considers cattle as his goods, a real estate dealer holds real property,
8% transitional input tax on its beginning inventory of land, which is granted in Section whether ornot it contains improvements, as his goods.117 (Citations omitted, emphasis
105 (nowSection 111[A]) of the NIRC, and granted the refund of the amounts added.)
petitioner had paid as output VAT for the different tax periods in question. 116
xxxx
Whether the transitional/presumptive
input tax credit under Section 105 of the Under Section 105, the beginning inventory of "goods" forms part of the valuation of
NIRC may be claimed only on the the transitional input tax credit. Goods, as commonly understood in the business
"improvements" on real properties. sense, refers to the product which the VAT registered person offers for sale to the
public. With respect to real estate dealers, it is the real properties themselves which
The Court held in the earlier consolidated decision, G.R. Nos. 158885 and 170680, as constitute their "goods". Such real properties are the operating assets of the real
follows: On its face, there is nothing in Section 105 of the Old NIRC that prohibits the estate dealer.
inclusion of real properties, together with the improvements thereon, in the beginning
inventory of goods, materials and supplies, based on which inventory the transitional Section 4.100-1 of RR No. 7-95 itself includes in its enumeration of "goods or
input tax credit is computed. It can be conceded that when it was drafted Section 105 properties" such "real properties held primarily for sale to customers or held for lease
could not have possibly contemplated concerns specific to real properties, as real in the ordinary course of trade or business." Said definition was taken from the very
estate transactions were not originally subject to VAT. At the same time, when statutory language of Section 100 of the Old NIRC. By limiting the definition of goods
transactions on real properties were finally made subject to VAT beginning withRep. to "improvements" in Section 4.105-1, the BIR not only contravened the definition of
Act No. 7716, no corresponding amendment was adopted as regards Section 105 to "goods" as provided in the Old NIRC, but also the definition which the same revenue
provide for a differentiated treatment in the application of the transitional input tax regulation itself has provided.118 (Emphasis added.)
credit with respect to real properties or real estate dealers.
The Court then emphasized in its Resolution in G.R. No. 158885 and G.R. No.
It was Section 100 of the Old NIRC, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7716, which made 170680 that Section 105 of the old NIRC, on the transitional input tax credit, remained
real estate transactions subject to VAT for the first time. Prior to the amendment, intact despite the enactment of Republic Act No. 7716. Section 105 was amended by
Section 100 had imposed the VAT "on every sale, barter or exchange of goods", Republic Act No. 8424, and the provisions on the transitional input tax credit are now
without however specifying the kind of properties that fall within or under the generic embodied in Section 111(A) of the new NIRC, which reads:
class "goods" subject to the tax.
Section 111. Transitional/Presumptive Input Tax Credits.
Rep. Act No. 7716, which significantly is also known as the Expanded Value-Added
Tax (EVAT) law, expanded the coverage of the VAT by amending Section 100 of the (A) Transitional Input Tax Credits. A person who becomes liable to value-added tax
Old NIRC in several respects, some of which we will enumerate. First, it made every or any person who elects to be a VAT-registered person shall, subject to the filing of
sale, barter or exchange of "goods or properties" subject to VAT. Second, it generally an inventory according to rules and regulations prescribed by the Secretary of
defined "goods or properties" as "all tangible and intangible objects which are capable [F]inance, upon recommendation of the Commissioner, be allowed input tax on his
of pecuniary estimation." Third, it included a non-exclusive enumeration of various beginning inventory of goods, materials and supplies equivalent for 8% of the value of
objects that fall under the class "goods or properties" subject to VAT, including "[r]eal such inventory or the actual value-added tax paid on such goods, materials and
properties held primarily for sale to customers or held for lease in the ordinary supplies, whichever is higher, which shall be creditable against the output tax.119
courseof trade or business."
In G.R. Nos. 158885 and 170680, the Court asked, "If the plain text of Republic Act
From these amendments to Section 100, is there any differentiated VAT treatment on No. 7716 fails to supply any apparent justification for limiting the beginning inventory
realproperties or real estate dealers that would justify the suggested limitations on the of real estate dealers only to the improvements on their properties, how then were the
application of the transitional input tax on them? We see none. Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the courts a quoable to justify such a
view?"120 The Court then answered this question in this manner:
Rep. Act No. 7716 clarifies that it is the real properties "held primarily for sale to
customers or held for lease in the ordinary course of trade or business" that are IV.
subject to the VAT, and not when the real estate transactions are engaged in by
persons who do not sell or lease properties in the ordinary course of trade or
The fact alone that the denial of FBDC's claims is in accord with Section 4.105-1 of the tax credit once they become VAT-registered. The transitional input tax credit,
RR 7-95 does not, of course, put this inquiry to rest. If Section 4.105-1 is itself whether under the Old NIRC or the New NIRC, may be claimed by a newly-VAT
incongruent to Rep. Act No. 7716, the incongruence cannot by itself justify the denial registered person such as when a business as it commences operations.
of the claims. We need to inquire into the rationale behind Section 4.105-1, as well as
the question whether the interpretation of the law embodied therein is validated by the x x x [I]t is not always true that the acquisition of such goods, materials and supplies
law itself. entail the payment of taxes on the part of the new business. In fact, this could occur
as a matter of course by virtue of the operation of various provisions of the NIRC, and
xxxx not only on account of a specially legislated exemption.

It is correct, as pointed out by the CTA, that upon the shift from sales taxes to VAT in xxxx
1987 newly-VAT registered people would have been prejudiced by the inability to
credit against the output VAT their payments by way of sales tax on their existing The interpretation proffered by the CTA would exclude goods and properties which
stocks in trade. Yet that inequity was precisely addressed by a transitory provision in are acquired through sale not in the ordinary course of trade or business, donation or
E.O. No. 273 found in Section 25 thereof. The provision authorized VAT-registered through succession, from the beginning inventory on which the transitional input tax
persons to invoke a "presumptive input tax equivalent to 8% of the value of the credit is based. This prospect all but highlights the ultimate absurdity of the
inventory as of December 31, 1987 of materials and supplies which are not for sale, respondents' position. Again, nothing in the Old NIRC (or even the New NIRC)
the tax on which was not taken up or claimed as deferred sales tax credit," and a speaks of such a possibility or qualifies the previous payment of VAT or any other
similar presumptive input tax equivalent to 8% of the value of the inventory as of taxes on the goods, materials and supplies as a pre-requisite for inclusion in the
December 31, 1987 of goods for sale, the tax on which was not taken up or claimed beginning inventory.
as deferred sales tax credit.121 (Emphasis ours.)
It is apparent that the transitional input tax credit operates to benefit newly VAT-
Whether there must have been previous registered persons, whether or not they previously paid taxes in the acquisition of
payment of sales tax or value-added tax their beginning inventory of goods, materials and supplies. During that period of
by petitioner on its land before petitioner transition from non-VAT to VAT status, the transitional input tax credit serves to
may claim the input tax credit granted by alleviate the impact of the VAT on the taxpayer. At the very beginning, the VAT-
Section 105 (now Section 111[A]) of the NIRC. registered taxpayer is obliged to remit a significant portion of the income it derived
from its sales as output VAT. The transitional input tax credit mitigates this initial
The Court discussed this matter lengthily in its Decision in G.R. Nos. 158885 and diminution of the taxpayer's income by affording the opportunity to offset the losses
170680, and we quote: incurred through the remittance of the output VAT at a stage when the person is yet
unable to credit input VAT payments.
Section 25 of E.O. No. 273 perfectly remedies the problem assumed by the CTA as
the basis for the introduction of transitional input tax credit in 1987. If the core There is another point that weighs against the CTA's interpretation. Under Section
purpose of the tax credit is only, as hinted by the CTA, to allow for some mode of 105 of the Old NIRC, the rate of the transitional input tax credit is "8% of the value of
accreditation of previously-paid sales taxes, then Section 25 alone would have such inventory or the actual value-added tax paid on such goods, materials and
sufficed. Yet E.O. No. 273 amended the Old NIRC itself by providing for the supplies, whichever is higher." If indeed the transitional input tax credit is premised on
transitional input tax credit under Section 105, thereby assuring that the tax credit the previous payment of VAT, then it does not make sense to afford the taxpayer the
would endure long after the last goods made subject to sales tax have been benefit of such credit based on "8% of the value of such inventory" should the same
consumed. prove higher than the actual VAT paid. This intent that the CTA alluded to could have
been implemented with ease had the legislature shared such intent by providing the
If indeed the transitional input tax credit is integrally related to previously paid sales actual VAT paid as the sole basis for the rate of the transitional input tax credit.
taxes, the purported causal link between those two would have been nonetheless
extinguished long ago. Yet Congress has reenacted the transitional input tax credit The CTA harped on the circumstance that FBDC was excused from paying any tax
several times; that fact simply belies the absence of any relationship between such on the purchase of its properties from the national government, even claiming that to
tax credit and the long-abolished sales taxes. Obviously then, the purpose behind the allow the transitional input tax credit is "tantamount to giving an undeserved bonusto
transitional input tax credit is not confined to the transition from sales tax to VAT. real estate dealers similarly situated as [FBDC] which the Government cannot afford
to provide." Yet the tax laws in question, and all tax laws in general, are designed to
x x x Section 105 states that the transitional input tax credits become available either enforce uniform tax treatment to persons or classes of persons who share minimum
to (1) a person who becomes liable to VAT; or (2) any person who elects to be VAT- legislated standards. The common standard for the application of the transitional input
registered. The clear language of the law entitles new trades or businesses to avail of tax credit, as enacted by E.O. No. 273 and all subsequent tax laws which reinforced
or reintegrated the tax credit, is simply that the taxpayer in question has become
liable to VAT or has elected to be a VAT-registered person. E.O. No. 273 and the old NIRC and that petitioner is entitled to it, despite the fact that petitioner acquired
subsequent tax laws are all decidedly neutral and accommodating in ascertaining the Global City property under a tax-free transaction.125 The Court En Banc held:
who should be entitled to the tax credit, and it behooves the CIR and the CTA to
adopt a similarly judicious perspective.122 (Citations omitted, emphases ours.) Contrary to the view of the CTA and the CA, there is nothing in the abovequoted
provision to indicate that prior payment of taxes is necessary for the availment of the
The Court En Bancin its Resolution in G.R. No. 173425 likewise discussed the 8% transitional input tax credit. Obviously, all that is required is for the taxpayerto file
question of prior payment of taxes as a prerequisite before a taxpayer could avail of a beginning inventory with the BIR.
the transitional input tax credit. The Court found that petitioner is entitled to the 8%
transitional input tax credit, and clearly said that the fact that petitioner acquired the To require prior payment of taxes x x x is not only tantamount to judicial legislation but
Global City property under a tax-free transaction makes no difference as prior would also render nugatory the provision in Section 105 of the old NIRC that the
payment of taxes is not a prerequisite.123 We quote pertinent portions of the resolution transitional input tax credit shall be "8% of the value of [the beginning] inventory or the
below: actual [VAT] paid on such goods, materials and supplies, whichever is higher"
because the actual VAT (now 12%) paid on the goods, materials, and supplies would
This argument has long been settled. To reiterate, prior payment of taxes is not always be higher than the 8% (now 2%) of the beginning inventory which, following
necessary before a taxpayer could avail of the 8% transitional input tax credit. This the view of Justice Carpio, would have to exclude all goods, materials, and supplies
position is solidly supported by law and jurisprudence, viz.: where no taxes were paid. Clearly, limiting the value of the beginning inventory only
to goods, materials, and supplies, where prior taxes were paid, was not the intention
First.Section 105 of the old National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) clearly provides of the law. Otherwise, it would have specifically stated that the beginning inventory
that for a taxpayer to avail of the 8% transitional input tax credit, all that is required excludes goods, materials, and supplies where no taxes were paid.126
from the taxpayer is to file a beginning inventory with the Bureau of Internal Revenue
(BIR). It was never mentioned in Section 105 that prior payment of taxes is a Whether Revenue Regulations No. 7-95 is
requirement. x x x. a valid implementation of Section 105 of
the NIRC.
xxxx
In the April 2, 2009 Decision inG.R. Nos. 158885 and 170680, the Court struck down
Second. Since the law (Section 105 of the NIRC) does not provide for prior payment Section 4.105-1 ofRevenue Regulations No. 7-95 for being in conflict with the
of taxes, to require it now would be tantamount to judicial legislation which, to state law.127 The decision reads in part as follows:
the obvious, is not allowed.
[There] is no logic that coheres with either E.O. No. 273 or Rep. Act No. 7716 which
Third. A transitional input tax credit is not a tax refund per se but a tax credit. supports the restriction imposed on realestate brokers and their ability to claim the
Logically, prior payment of taxes is not required before a taxpayer could avail of transitional input tax credit based on the value of their real properties. In addition, the
transitional input tax credit. As we have declared in our September 4, 2012 Decision, very idea of excluding the real properties itself from the beginning inventory simply
"[t]ax credit is not synonymous to tax refund. Tax refund is defined as the money that runs counter to what the transitional input tax credit seeks to accomplish for persons
a taxpayer overpaid and is thus returned by the taxing authority. Tax credit, on the engaged in the sale of goods, whether or not such "goods" take the form of real
other hand, is an amount subtracted directly from one's total tax liability. It is any properties or more mundane commodities.
amount given to a taxpayer as a subsidy, a refund, or an incentive to encourage
investment." Under Section 105, the beginning inventory of "goods" forms part of the valuation of
the transitional input tax credit. Goods, as commonly understood in the business
Fourth. The issue of whether prior payment of taxes is necessary to avail of sense, refers to the product which the VAT registered person offers for sale to the
transitional input tax credit is no longer novel. It has long been settled by public. With respect to real estate dealers, it is the real properties themselves which
jurisprudence. x x x. constitute their "goods". Such real properties are the operating assets of the real
estate dealer.
Fifth. Moreover, in Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Central Luzon Drug Corp.,
this Court had already declared that prior payment of taxes is not required in order Section 4.100-1 of RR No. 7-95 itself includes in its enumeration of "goods or
toavail of a tax credit. x x x124 (Citations omitted, emphases ours.) properties" such "real properties held primarily for sale to customers or held for lease
in the ordinary course of trade or business." Said definition was taken from the very
statutory language of Section 100 of the Old NIRC. By limiting the definition of goods
The Court has thus categorically ruled that prior payment of taxes is not required for a to "improvements" in Section 4.105-1, the BIR not only contravened the definition of
taxpayer toavail of the 8% transitional input tax credit provided in Section 105 of the
"goods" as provided in the Old NIRC, but also the definition which the same revenue regulations that administrative agencies promulgate, which are the product of a
regulation itself has provided. delegated legislative power to create new and additional legal provisions that have
the effect of law, should be within the scope of the statutory authority granted by the
The Court of Tax Appeals claimed that under Section 105 of the Old NIRC the basis legislature to the objects and purposes of the law, and should not be in contradiction
for the inventory of goods, materials and supplies upon which the transitional input to, but in conformity with, the standards prescribed by law.
VAT would be based "shall be left to regulation by the appropriate administrative
authority". This is based on the phrase "filing of an inventory as prescribed by To be valid, an administrative rule or regulation must conform, not contradict, the
regulations" found in Section 105. Nonetheless, Section 105 does include the provisions of the enabling law. An implementing rule or regulation cannot modify,
particular properties to be included in the inventory, namely goods, materials and expand, or subtract from the law it is intended to implement. Any rule that is not
supplies. It is questionable whether the CIR has the power to actually redefine the consistent with the statute itself is null and void.
concept of "goods", as she did when she excluded real properties from the class of
goods which real estate companies in the business of selling real properties may While administrative agencies, such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, may issue
include in their inventory. The authority to prescribe regulations can pertain to more regulations to implement statutes, they are without authority to limit the scope of the
technical matters, such as how to appraise the value of the inventory or what papers statute to less than what it provides, or extend or expand the statute beyond itsterms,
need to be filed to properly itemize the contents of such inventory. But such authority or in any way modify explicit provisions of the law. Indeed, a quasi-judicial body or an
cannot go as far as to amend Section 105 itself, which the Commissioner had administrative agency for that matter cannot amend an act of Congress. Hence, in
unfortunately accomplished in this case. case of a discrepancy between the basic law and an interpretative or administrative
ruling, the basic law prevails.
It is of course axiomatic that a rule or regulation must bear upon, and be consistent
with, the provisions of the enabling statute if such rule or regulation is to be valid. In To recapitulate, RR 7-95, insofar as it restricts the definition of "goods" as basis of
case of conflict between a statute and an administrative order, the former must transitional input tax credit under Section 105 is a nullity.
prevail. Indeed, the CIR has no power to limit the meaning and coverage of the term
"goods" in Section 105 of the Old NIRC absent statutory authority or basis to make
and justify such limitation. A contrary conclusion would mean the CIR could very well As we see it then, the 8% transitional input tax creditshould not be limited to the value
moot the law or arrogate legislative authority unto himself by retaining sole discretion of the improvements on the real properties but should include the value of the real
to provide the definition and scope of the term "goods." 128 (Emphasis added.) properties as well.129 (Citations omitted, emphasis ours.)

Furthermore, in G.R. No. 173425, the Court held: Whether the issuance of Revenue
Regulations No. 7-95 by the BIR, and
declaration of validity of said Regulations
Section 4.105-1 of RR 7-95 is by the CTA and the Court of Appeals,
inconsistent with Section 105 of the was in violation of the fundamental
old NIRC principle of separation of powers.

As regards Section 4.105-1 ofRR 7-95 which limited the 8% transitional input tax In the Resolution dated October 2, 2009 in G.R. Nos. 158885 and 170680 the Court
credit to the value of the improvements on the land, the same contravenes the denied the respondents Motion for Reconsideration with finality and held:
provision of Section 105 of the old NIRC, in relation to Section 100 of the same Code,
as amended by RA 7716, which defines "goods or properties," to wit:
[The April 2, 2009 Decision] held that the CIR had no power to limit the meaning and
coverage of the term "goods" in Section 105 of the Old NIRC sans statutory authority
xxxx or basis and justification to make such limitation. This it did when it restrictedthe
application of Section 105 in the case of real estate dealers only to improvements on
In fact, in our Resolution dated October 2, 2009, in the related case of Fort Bonifacio, the real property belonging to their beginning inventory.
we ruled that Section 4.105-1 of RR 7-95, insofar as it limits the transitional input tax
credit to the value of the improvement of the real properties, is a nullity. Pertinent xxxx
portions of the Resolution read:
The statutory definition of the term "goods or properties" leaves no room for doubt. It
As mandated by Article 7 of the Civil Code, an administrative rule or regulation cannot states: "Sec. 100. Value-added tax on sale of goods or properties. (a) Rate and
contravene the law on which it is based. RR 7-95 is inconsistent with Section 105 base of tax. x x x (1) The term goods or properties shall mean all tangible and
insofar as the definition of the term "goods" is concerned. This is a legislative act intangible objects which are capable of pecuniary estimation and shall include:
beyond the authority of the CIR and the Secretary of Finance. The rules and
(A) Real properties held primarily for sale to customers or held for lease in the To recapitulate, RR 7-95, insofar as it restricts the definition of "goods" as basis of
ordinary course of trade or business; x x x." transitional inputtax credit under Section 105 is a nullity.

The amendatory provision of Section 105 of the NIRC, as introduced by RA 7716, On January 1, 1997, RR 6-97 was issued by the Commissioner of Internal
states: Revenue.1wphi1 RR 6-97 was basically a reiteration of the same Section 4.105-1 of
RR 7-95, except that the RR 6-97 deleted the following paragraph:
"Sec. 105. Transitional Input [T]ax Credits. A person who becomes liable to value-
added tax or any person who elects to be a VAT-registered person shall, subject to "However, in the case of real estate dealers, the basis of the presumptive input tax
the filing of an inventory as prescribed by regulations, be allowed input tax on his shall be the improvements, such as buildings, roads, drainage systems, and other
beginning inventory of goods, materials and supplies equivalent to 8% of the value of similar structures, constructed on or after the effectivity of E.O. 273 (January 1,
such inventory or the actual value-added tax paid on such goods, materials and 1988)."
supplies, whichever is higher, which shall be creditable against the output tax."
It is clear, therefore, that under RR 6-97, the allowable transitional input tax credit is
The term "goods or properties" by the unambiguous terms of Section 100 includes not limited to improvements on real properties. The particular provision of RR 7-95
"real properties held primarily for sale to c[u]st[o]mers or held for lease in the ordinary has effectively been repealed by RR 6-97 which is now in consonance with Section
course of business." Having been defined in Section 100 of the NIRC, the term 100 of the NIRC, insofar as the definition of real properties as goods is concerned.
"goods" as used in Section 105 of the same code could not have a different meaning. The failure to add a specific repealing clause would not necessarily indicate that there
This has been explained in the Decision dated April 2, 2009, thus: was no intent to repeal RR 7-95. The fact that the aforequoted paragraph was deleted
created an irreconcilable inconsistency and repugnancy between the provisions of RR
xxxx 6-97 and RR 7-95.

Section 4.105-1 of RR 7-95 restricted the definition of "goods," viz.: xxxx

"However, in the case of real estate dealers, the basis of the presumptive input tax As pointed out in Our Decision ofApril 2, 2009, to give Section 105 a restrictive
shall be the improvements, such as buildings, roads, drainage systems, and other construction that transitional input tax credit applies only when taxes were previously
similar structures, constructed on or after the effectivity of EO 273 (January 1, 1988)." paid on the properties in the beginning inventory and there is a law imposing the tax
which is presumed to have been paid, is to impose conditions or requisites to the
application of the transitional tax input credit which are not found in the law. The
As mandated by Article 7 of the Civil Code, an administrative rule or regulation cannot courts must not read into the law what is not there. To do so will violate the principle
contravene the law on which it is based. RR 7-95 is inconsistent with Section 105 of separation of powers which prohibits this Court from engaging in judicial
insofar as the definition of the term"goods" is concerned. This is a legislative act legislation.130 (Emphases added.)
beyond the authority of the CIR and the Secretary of Finance. The rules and
regulations that administrative agencies promulgate, which are the product of a
delegated legislative power to create new and additional legal provisions that have As the Court En Banc held in G.R. No. 173425, the issues in this case are not novel.
the effect of law, should be within the scope of the statutory authority granted bythe These same issues have been squarely ruled upon by this Court in the earlier
legislature to the objects and purposes of the law, and should not be in contradiction decided casesthat have attained finality.131
to, but in conformity with, the standards prescribed by law.
It is now this Courts duty to apply the previous rulings to the present case. Once a
To be valid, an administrative ruleor regulation must conform, not contradict, the case has been decided one way, any other case involving exactly the same point at
provisions of the enabling law. An implementing rule or regulation cannot modify, issue, as in the present case, should be decided in the same manner. 132
expand, or subtract from the law itis intended to implement. Any rule that is not
consistent with the statute itself is null and void. While administrative agencies, such Thus, we find that petitioner is entitled to a refund of the amounts of:
as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, may issue regulations to implement statutes, they 1) P486,355,846.78 in G.R. No. 175707, 2)P77,151,020.46 in G.R. No. 180035, and
are without authority to limit the scope of the statute to less than what it provides, or 3) P269,340,469.45 in G.R. No. 181092, which petitioner paid as value-added tax, or
extend or expand the statute beyond itsterms, or in any way modify explicit provisions toa tax credit for said amounts. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the
of the law. Indeed, a quasi-judicial body or an administrative agency for that consolidated petitions are hereby GRANTED. The following are REVERSED and SET
mattercannot amend an act of Congress. Hence, in case of a discrepancy between ASIDE:
the basic law and an interpretative or administrative ruling, the basic law prevails.
1) Under G.R. No. 175707, the Decisiondated April 22, 2003 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 61516 and its subsequent Resolution dated
November 30, 2006;

2) Under G.R. No. 180035, the Decisiondated April 30, 2007 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 76540 and its subsequent Resolution dated
October 8, 2007; and

3) Under G.R. No. 181092, the Decisiondated December 28, 2007 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 61158.

Respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue is ordered to REFUND, OR, IN THE


ALTERNATIVE, TO ISSUE A TAX CREDIT CERTIFICATE to petitioner Fort
Bonifacio Development Corporation, the following amounts:

1) P486,355,846. 78 paid as output value-added tax for the second quarter


of 1997 (G.R. No. 175707);

2) P77,151,020.46 paid as output value-added tax for the first quarter of


1998 (G.R. No. 180035); and

3) P269,340,469.45 paid as output value-added tax for the fourth quarter of


1996 (G.R. No. 181092).

SO ORDERED.

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice
SECOND DIVISION which makes the call and through which the access number and the PIN number
printed at the back of the card are entered; and the receiving phone a caller
G.R. No. 179408, March 05, 2014 identification (caller id) unitequipped telephone line which would receive the call and
reflect the incoming callers telephone number.
PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, Petitioner, v. ABIGAIL R. During a test call placed at the PLDTACPDD office, the receiving phone reflected a
RAZON ALVAREZ AND VERNON R. RAZON, Respondents. PLDT telephone number (28243285) as the calling number used, as if the call was
originating from a local telephone in Metro Manila. Upon verification with the PLDTs
DECISION Integrated Customer Management (billing) System, the ACPDD learned that the
subscriber of the reflected telephone number is Abigail R. Razon Alvarez, with
BRION, J.: address at 17 Dominic Savio St., Savio Compound, Barangay Don Bosco, Paraaque
City. It further learned that several lines are installed at this address with Abigail and
Vernon R. Razon (respondents), among others, as subscribers.10
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari1 assailing the decision2 dated
August 11, 2006 and the resolution3 dated August 22, 2007 of the Court of Appeals To validate its findings, the ACPDD conducted the same test calls on November 5,
(CA) in CAG.R. SP No. 89213 on the validity of the four search warrants issued by 2003 at the premises of the NTC in Quezon City (and in the presence of an NTC
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City, Branch 115. representative11) using the same prepaid card (validation test). The receiving phone
at the NTC premises reflected the telephone numbers registered in the name of
The CA rulings (i) quashed the first two search warrants, similarly docketed as Search Abigail as the calling number from the United Kingdom.12
Warrant No. 03063, issued for violation of Article 308, in relation to Article 309, of
the Revised Penal Code (RPC), and (ii) declared void paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of the Similar test calls subsequently conducted using the prepaid cards Unity Card and IDT
other two search warrants, also similarly docketed as Search Warrant No. 03064, Supercalling Card revealed the same results. The calleridequipped receiving phone
issued for violation of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 401.4 reflected telephone numbers13 that are in the names of Experto Enterprises and
Experto Phils, as subscribers, with a common address at No. 38 Indonesia St., Better
FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS Living Subdivision, Barangay Don Bosco, Paraaque City. It turned out that the actual
occupant of these premises is also Abigail. Subsequently, a validation test was also
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) is the grantee of a legislative conducted, yielding several telephone numbers registered in the name of Experto
franchise5 which authorizes it to carry on the business of providing basic and Phils./Experto Enterprises as the calling numbers supposedly from the United
enhanced telecommunications services in and between areas in the Philippines and Kingdom.14
between the Philippines and other countries and territories,6and, accordingly, to
establish, operate, manage, lease, maintain and purchase telecommunications According to PLDT, had an ordinary and legitimate call been made, the screen of the
system for both domestic and international calls.7 Pursuant to its franchise, PLDT calleridequipped receiving phone would not reflect a local number or any number at
offers to the public wide range of services duly authorized by the National all. In the cards they tested, however, once the caller enters the access and pin
Telecommunications Commission (NTC). numbers, the respondents would route the call via the internet to a local telephone
number (in this case, a PLDT telephone number) which would connect the call to the
PLDTs network is principally composed of the Public Switch Telephone Network, receiving phone. Since calls through the internet never pass the toll center of the
telephone handsets and/or telecommunications equipment used by its subscribers, PLDTs IGF, users of these prepaid cards can place a call to any point in the
the wires and cables linking these handsets and/or equipment, antennae, Philippines (provided the local line is NDDcapable) without the call appearing as
transmission facilities, the international gateway facility (IGF) and other coming from abroad.15
telecommunications equipment providing interconnections. 8 To safeguard the integrity
of its network, PLDT regularly conducts investigations on various prepaid cards On November 6, 2003 and November 19, 2003, Mr. Lawrence Narciso of the PLDTs
marketed and sold abroad to determine alternative calling patterns (ACP) and Quality Control Division, together with the operatives of the Philippine National Police
network fraud that are being perpetrated against it. (PNP), conducted an ocular inspection at 17 Dominic Savio St., Savio Compound and
at No. 38 Indonesia St., Better Living Subdivision both in Barangay Don Bosco,
To prevent or stop network fraud, PLDTs ACP Detection Division (ACPDD) regularly Paranaque City and discovered that PLDT telephone lines were connected to
visits foreign countries to conduct market research on various prepaid phone cards several pieces of equipment.16 Mr. Narciso narrated the results of the inspection, thus
offered abroad that allow their users to make overseas calls to PLDT subscribers in
the Philippines at a cheaper rate. 10. During [the] ocular inspection [at 17 Dominic Savio St., Savio Compound], Ms.
Abigail Razon Alvarez allowed us to gain entry and check the telephone installations
The ACPDD bought The Number One prepaid card a card principally marketed to within their premises. First, we checked the location of the telephone protectors that
Filipinos residing in the United Kingdom for calls to the Philippines to make test are commonly installed at a concrete wall boundary inside the compound. Some of
calls using two telephone lines: the dialing phone an IDDcapable9 telephone line these protectors are covered with a fabricated wooden cabinet. Other protectors are
installed beside the said wooden cabinet, xxx. The inside wiring installations from both in Barangay Don Bosco, Paranaque City. The four search warrants enumerated
telephone protectors to connecting block were routed to the said adjacent room the objects to be searched and seized as follows:
passing through the house ceiling. 1. MERIDIAN SUBSCRIBERS UNIT AND PLDT DSL LINES and/or CABLES AND
ANTENNAS and/or similar equipment or device capable of transmitting air waves or
11. xxx. Upon entering the socalled adjacent room, we immediately noticed that the frequency, such as a Meridian Subscribers Unit, Broadband DSL and telephone
PLDT telephone lines were connected to the equipment situated at multilayered lines;
rack. The equipment room contains the following:
a. 6 Quintum router; 2. PERSONAL COMPUTERS or any similar equipment or device capable of
accepting information applying the prescribed process of the information and
b. 13 Com router; supplying the result of this process;

c. 1 Cisco 800 router; 3. NOKIA MODEM or any similar equipment or device that enables data terminal
equipment such as computers to communicate with other data terminal equipment via
d. 1 Nokia Modem for PLDT DSL; a telephone line;

e. 1 Meridian Subscribers Unit[;] 4. QUINTUM Equipment or any similar equipment capable of receiving digital signals
from the internet and converting those signals to voice;
f. 5 Personal Computers[;]
5. QUINTUM, 3COM AND CISCO Routers or any similar equipment capable of
g. 1 Computer Printer[; and] switching packets of data to their assigned destination or addresses;

h. 1 Flatbed Scanner[.] 6. LINKS DSL SWITCH or any similar equipment capable of switching data;
12. We also noticed that these routers are connected to the Meridians subscriber
7. COMPUTER PRINTERS AND SCANNERS or any similar equipment or device
unit ("SU ) that has an outdoor antenna installed on the top of the roof. Meridians SU
used for copying and/or printing data and/or information;
and outdoor antenna are service components used to connect with wireless
broadband internet access service of Meridian Telekoms.
8. SOFTWARE, DISKETTES, TAPES or any similar equipment or device used for
recording or storing information; and
xxxx
9. Manuals, phone cards, access codes, billing statements, receipts, contracts,
18. During the site inspection [at No. 38 Indonesia St., Better Living Subdivision], we
checks, orders, communications and documents, lease and/or subscription
noticed that the protector of each telephone line/number xxx were enclosed in a
agreements or contracts, communications and documents relating to securing and
fabricated wooden cabinet with safety padlock. Said wooden cabinet was situated on
using telephone lines and/or equipment[.]21
the concrete wall inside the compound near the garage entrance gate. The telephone
inside the wiring installations from the protector to the connecting blocks were placed On the same date, the PNP searched the premises indicated in the warrants. On
in a plastic electrical conduit routed to the adjacent room at the second floor. 17 December 10, 2003, a return was made with a complete inventory of the items
seized.22 On January 14, 2004, the PLDT and the PNP filed with the Department of
On December 3, 2003, Police Superintendent Gilbert C. Cruz filed a consolidated
Justice a joint complaintaffidavit for theft and for violation of PD No. 401 against the
application for a search warrant18 before Judge Francisco G. Mendiola of the RTC, for
respondents.23
the crimes of theft and violation of PD No. 401. According to PLDT, the respondents
are engaged in a form of network fraud known as International Simple Resale (ISR)
On February 18, 2004, the respondents filed with the RTC a motion to quash 24 the
which amounts to theft under the RPC.
search warrants essentially on the following grounds: first, the RTC had no authority
to issue search warrants which were enforced in Paraaque City; second, the
ISR is a method of routing and completing international long distance calls using
enumeration of the items to be searched and seized lacked particularity; and third,
lines, cables, antennae and/or wave frequencies which are connected directly to the
there was no probable cause for the crime of theft.
domestic exchange facilities of the country where the call is destined (terminating
country); and, in the process, bypassing the IGF at the terminating country.19
On March 12, 2004, PLDT opposed the respondents' motion.25
Judge Mendiola found probable cause for the issuance of the search warrants applied
In a July 6, 2004 order,26 the RTC denied the respondents' motion to quash. Having
for. Accordingly, four search warrants20 were issued for violations of Article 308, in
been rebuffed27in their motion for reconsideration,28 the respondents filed a petition
relation to Article 309, of the RPC (SW A1 and SW A2) and of PD No. 401, as
for certiorari with the CA. 29
amended (SW B1 and SW B2) for the ISR activities being conducted at 17 Dominic
Savio St., Savio Compound and at No. 38 Indonesia St., Better Living Subdivision,
RULING OF THE CA time the RTC issued the search warrants in 2003, Laurel had not yet been
promulgated.
On August 11, 2006, the CA rendered the assailed decision and resolution, granting
the respondents' petition for certiorari. The CA quashed SW Al and SW A2 (for In defending the validity of the nullified provisions of SW Bl and SW B2, PLDT
theft) on the ground that they were issued for nonexistent crimes. 30 According to argues that PD No. 401 also punishes unauthorized installation of telephone
the CA, inherent in the determination of probable cause for the issuance of search connections. Since the enumerated items are connected to the computers that are
warrant is the accompanying determination that an offense has been committed. illegally connected to PLDT telephone lines, then these items bear a direct relation to
Relying on this Courts decision in Laurel v. Judge Abrogar,31 the CA ruled that the the offense of violation of PD No. 401, justifying their seizure.
respondents could not have possibly committed the crime of theft because PLDTs
business of providing telecommunication services and these services themselves are The enumeration in paragraph 8 is likewise a proper subject of seizure because they
not personal properties contemplated under Article 308 of the RPC. are the fruits of the offense as they contain information on PLDTs business profit and
other information relating to the commission of violation of PD No. 401. Similarly,
With respect to SW Bl and SW B2 (for violation of PD No. 401), the CA upheld paragraph 9 specifies the fruits and evidence of violation of PD No. 401 since it
paragraphs one to six of the enumeration of items subject of the search. The CA held supports PLDTs claim that the respondents have made a business out of their illegal
that the stock phrase or similar equipment or device found in paragraphs one to six connections to PLDT lines.
of the search warrants did not make it suffer from generality since each paragraphs
enumeration of items was sufficiently qualified by the citation of the specific objects to THE RESPONDENTS' ARGUMENTS
be seized and by its functions which are inherently connected with the crime allegedly
committed. The respondents counter that while Laurel may not yet be final, at least it has a
persuasive effect as the current jurisprudence on the matter. Even without Laurel, the
The CA, however, nullified the ensuing paragraphs, 7, 8 and 9, for lack of particularity CAs nullification of SW Al and SW A2 can withstand scrutiny because of the
and ordered the return of the items seized under these provisions. While the same novelty of the issue presented before it. The nullification of paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of
stock phrase appears in paragraphs 7 and 8, the properties described therein i.e., SW Bl and SW B2 must be upheld not only on the ground of broadness but for lack
printer and scanner, software, diskette and tapes include even those for the of any relation whatsoever with PD No. 401 which punishes the theft of electricity.
respondents' personal use, making the description of the things to be seized too
general in nature. OUR RULING
With the denial of its motion for reconsideration,32 PLDT went to this Court via this We partially grant the petition.
Rule 45 petition.
Laurel and its reversal by the Court En Banc
THE PETITIONER'S ARGUMENTS
Before proceeding with the case, a review of Laurel is in order as it involves
PLDT faults the CA for relying on Laurel on three grounds: first, Laurel cannot be substantially similar facts as in the present case.
cited yet as an authority under the principle of stare decisis because Laurel is not yet
final and executory; in fact, it is the subject of a pending motion for reconsideration Baynet Co., Ltd. (Baynet) sells prepaid cards, Bay Super Orient Card, that allow
filed by PLDT itself; second, even assuming that Laurel is already final, the facts their users to place a call to the Philippines from Japan. PLDT asserted that Baynet is
in Laurel vary from the present case. Laurel involves the quashalof an information on engaged in ISR activities by using an international private leased line (IPL) to course
the ground that the information does not charge any offense; hence, the Baynets incoming international long distance calls. The IPL is linked to a switching
determination of the existence of the elements of the crime of theft is indispensable in equipment, which is then connected to PLDT telephone lines/numbers and
resolving the motion to quash. In contrast, the present case involves the quashal of a equipment, with Baynet as subscriber.
search warrant. Third, accordingly, in resolving the motion, the issuing court only has
to be convinced that there is probable cause to hold that: (i) the items to be seized To establish its case, PLDT obtained a search warrant. On the strength of the items
are connected to a criminal activity; and (ii) these items are found in the place to be seized during the search of Baynets premises, the prosecutor found probable cause
searched. Since the matter of quashing a search warrant may be rooted on matters for theft against Luis Marcos Laurel (Laurel) and other Baynet officials. Accordingly,
extrinsic of the search warrant, 33 the issuing court does not need to look into the an information was filed, alleging that the Baynet officials take, steal and use the
elements of the crime allegedly committed in the same manner that the CA did international long distance calls belonging to PLDT by [ISR activities] xxx effectively
in Laurel. stealing this business from PLDT while using its facilities in the estimated amount of
P20,370,651.92 to the damage and prejudice of PLDT[.] 35
PLDT adds that a finding of grave abuse of discretion in the issuance of search
warrant may be justified only when there is disregard of the requirements for the Laurel moved to quash the information on the bold assertion that ISR activities do not
issuance of a search warrant[.] 34In the present case, the CA did not find (and could constitute a crime under Philippine law. Laurel argued that an ISR activity cannot
not have found) any grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC because at the
entail taking of personal property because the international long distance telephone Penal Code. The Legislature did not. In fact, the Revised Penal Code does not even
calls using PLDT telephone lines belong to the caller himself; the amount stated in the contain a definition of services.37
information, if at all, represents the rentals due PLDT for the callers usage of its
PLDT38 moved for reconsideration and referral of the case to the Court En Banc. The
facilities. Laurel argued that the business of providing international long distance
Courts First Division granted the referral.
calls, i.e., PLDTs service, and the revenue derived therefrom are not personal
property that can be appropriated.
On January 13, 2009 (or while the present petition was pending in court), the
Court En Bancunanimously granted PLDTs motion for reconsideration.39 The Court
Laurel went to the Court after failing to secure the desired relief from the trial and
ruled that even prior to the passage of the RPC, jurisprudence is settled that any
appellate courts,36raising the core issue of whether PLDTs business of providing
personal property, tangible or intangible, corporeal or incorporeal, capable of
telecommunication services for international long distance calls is a proper subject of
appropriation can be the object of theft. 40 This jurisprudence, in turn, applied the
theft under Article 308 of the RPC. The Courts First Division granted Laurels petition
prevailing legal meaning of the term personal property under the old Civil Code as
and ordered the quashal of the information.
anything susceptible of appropriation and not included in the foregoing chapter (not
real property). 41 PLDTs telephone service or its business of providing this was
Taking off from the basic rule that penal laws are construed strictly against the State,
appropriable personal property and was, in fact, the subject of appropriation in an ISR
the Court ruled that international long distance calls and the business of providing
operation, facilitated by means of the unlawful use of PLDTs facilities.
telecommunication or telephone services by PLDT are not personal properties that
In this regard, the Amended Information inaccurately describes the offense by making
can be the subject of theft.
it appear that what [Laurel] took were the international long distance telephone calls,
One is apt to conclude that personal property standing alone, covers both tangible
rather than respondent PLDTs business.
and intangible properties and are subject of theft under the Revised Penal Code. But
the words Personal property under the Revised Penal Code must be considered in
xxxx
tandem with the word take in the law. The statutory definition of taking and
movable property indicates that, clearly, not all personal properties may be the proper
Indeed, while it may be conceded that international long distance calls, the matter
subjects of theft. The general rule is that, only movable properties which have
alleged to be stolen xxx, take the form of electrical energy, it cannot be said that such
physical or material existence and susceptible of occupation by another are proper
international long distance calls were personal properties belonging to PLDT since
objects of theft, xxx.
the latter could not have acquired ownership over such calls. PLDT merely encodes,
augments, enhances, decodes and transmits said calls using its complex
xxxx
communications infrastructure and facilities. PLDT not being the owner of said
telephone calls, then it could not validly claim that such telephone calls were taken
xxx. Business, like services in business, although are properties, are not proper
without its consent. It is the use of these communications facilities without the consent
subjects of theft under the Revised Penal Code because the same cannot be taken
of PLDT that constitutes the crime of theft, which is the unlawful taking of the
or occupied. If it were otherwise, xxx there would be no juridical difference between
telephone services and business.
the taking of the business of a person or the services provided by him for gain, visa
vis, the taking of goods, wares or merchandise, or equipment comprising his
Therefore, the business of providing telecommunication and the telephone service
business. If it was its intention to include business as personal property under Article
are personal property under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, and the act of
308 of the Revised Penal Code, the Philippine Legislature should have spoken in
engaging in ISR is an act of subtraction penalized under said article.42
language that is clear and definite: that business is personal property under Article
308 of the Revised Penal Code. The Court En Bancs reversal of its Laurel Division ruling during the pendency of this
petition significantly impacts on how the Court should resolve the present case for two
xxxx reasons:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The petitioner is not charged, under the Amended Information, for theft of First, the Laurel En Banc ruling categorically equated an ISR activity to theft under the
telecommunication or telephone services offered by PLDT. Even if he is, the term RPC. In so doing, whatever alleged factual variance there may be
personal property under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code cannot be between Laurel and the present case cannot render Laurel inapplicable.
interpreted beyond its seams so as to include telecommunication or telephone
services or computer services for that matter. xxx. Even at common law, neither time Second, and more importantly, in a Rule 45 petition, the Court basically determines
nor services may be taken and occupied or appropriated. A service is generally not whether the CA was legally correct in determining whether the RTC committed grave
considered property and a theft of service would not, therefore, constitute theft since abuse of discretion. Under this premise, the CA ordinarily gauges the grave abuse of
there can be no caption or asportation. Neither is the unauthorized use of the discretion at the time the RTC rendered its assailed resolution. In quashing SW Al
equipment and facilities of PLDT by [Laurel] theft under [Article 308]. and SW A2, note that the CA relied on the Laurel Division ruling at the time when it
was still subject of a pending motion for reconsideration. The CA, in fact, did not
If it was the intent of the Philippine Legislature, in 1930, to include services to be the expressly impute grave abuse of discretion on the RTC when the RTC issued the
subject of theft, it should have incorporated the same in Article 308 of the Revised search warrants and later refused to quash these. Understandably, the CA could not
have really found the presence of grave abuse of discretion for there was
no Laurel ruling to speak of at the time the RTC issued the search warrants. In a certiorari proceeding, the determination translates to an inquiry on whether the
requirements and limitations provided under the Constitution and the Rules of Court
These peculiar facts require us to more carefully analyze our prism of review under were properly complied with, from the issuance of the warrant up to its
Rule 45. implementation. In view of the constitutional objective of preventing stealthy
encroachment upon or the gradual depreciation of the rights secured by the
Requisites for the issuance of search warrant; probable cause requires the Constitution, strict compliance with the constitutional and procedural requirements is
probable existence of an offense required. A judge who issues a search warrant without complying with these
requirements commits grave abuse of discretion.48
Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution guarantees the right of persons to be
free from unreasonable searches and seizures. One of the constitutional requirements for the validity of a search warrant is that it
Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and must be issued based on probable cause which, under the Rules, must be in
effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any connection with one specific offense. In search warrant proceedings, probable cause
purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue is defined as such facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonably discreet and
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects
examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched. 49
produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or
things to be seized. In the determination of probable cause, the court must necessarily determine whether
an offense exists to justify the issuance or quashal of the search warrant 50 because
The purposes of the constitutional provision against unlawful searches and seizures
the personal properties that may be subject of the search warrant are very much
are to: (i) prevent the officers of the law from violating private security in person and
intertwined with the one specific offense requirement of probable cause.51 Contrary
property and illegally invading the sanctity of the home; and (ii) give remedy against
to PLDTs claim, the only way to determine whether a warrant should issue in
such usurpations when attempted or committed.43
connection with one specific offense is to juxtapose the facts and circumstances
presented by the applicant with the elements of the offense that are alleged to
The constitutional requirement for the issuance of a search warrant is reiterated under
support the search warrant.
Sections 4 and 5, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. These
sections lay down the following requirements for the issuance of a search warrant: (1)
Reviewing the RTCs denial of the motion to quash SWAl and SW A2
the existence of probable cause; (2) the probable cause must be determined
personally by the judge; (3) the judge must examine, in writing and under oath or
a. From the prism of Rule 65
affirmation, the complainant and the witnesses he or she may produce; (4) the
applicant and the witnesses testify on the facts personally known to them; and (5) the
The facts of the present case easily call to mind the case of Columbia Pictures, Inc. v.
warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be
CA52 involving copyright infringement. In that case, the CA likewise voided the search
seized.44 Should any of these requisites be absent, the party aggrieved by the
warrant issued by the trial court by applying a doctrine that added a new requirement
issuance and enforcement of the search warrant may file a motion to quash the
(i.e., the production of the master tape for comparison with the allegedly pirate
search warrant with the issuing court or with the court where the action is
copies) in determining the existence of probable cause for the issuance of search
subsequently instituted.45
warrant in copyright infringement cases. The doctrine referred to was laid down
in 20th Century Fox Film Corporation v. Court of Appeals. 20th Century Fox, however,
A search warrant proceeding is a special criminal and judicial process akin to a writ of
was promulgated more than eight months after the search warrants were issued by
discovery. It is designed by the Rules of Criminal Procedure to respond only to an
the RTC. In reversing the CA, the Court ruled:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
incident in the main case, if one has already been instituted, or in anticipation thereof.
Since it is at most incidental to the main criminal case, an order granting or denying a
Mindful as we are of the ramifications of the doctrine of stare decisis and the
motion to quash a search warrant may be questioned only via a petition
rudiments of fair play, it is our considered view that the 20th Century Fox ruling cannot
for certiorari under Rule 65.46
be retroactively applied to the instant case to justify the quashal of Search Warrant
No. 87053. [The] petitioners' consistent position that the order of the lower court[,]
When confronted with this petition, the higher court must necessarily determine the
xxx [which denied the respondents'] motion to lift the order of search warrant^] was
validity of the lower courts action from the prism of whether it was tainted with grave
properly issued, [because there was] satisfactory compliance with the then prevailing
abuse of discretion. By grave abuse of discretion, jurisprudence refers to the
standards under the law for determination of probable cause, is indeed well taken.
capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or to
The lower court could not possibly have expected more evidence from petitioners in
the exercise of power in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or
their application for a search warrant other than what the law and jurisprudence, then
personal hostility or in a manner so patent and gross as to amount to an invasion of
existing and judicially accepted, required with respect to the finding of probable
positive duty or to the virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in
cause.53
contemplation of the law.47
Columbia could easily be cited in favor of PLDT to sustain the RTCs refusal to quash
the search warrant. Indeed, in quashing SW Al and SW A2, the CA never intimated b1. the stare decisis aspect
that the RTC disregarded any of the requisites for the issuance of a search warrant as
these requirements were interpreted and observed under the then With the Court En Bancs reversal of the earlier Laurel ruling, then the CAs quashal
prevailing jurisprudence. The CA could not have done so because precisely the of these warrants would have no leg to stand on. This is the dire consequence of
issue of whether telephone services or the business of providing these services could failing to appreciate the full import of the doctrine of stare decisis that the CA ignored.
be the subject of theft under the RPC had not yet reached the Court when the search
warrants were applied for and issued. Under Article 8 of the Civil Code, the decisions of this Court form part of the countrys
legal system. While these decisions are not laws pursuant to the doctrine of
However, what distinguishes Columbia from the present case is the focus separation of powers, they evidence the laws' meaning, breadth, and scope and,
of Columbias legal rationale. Columbias focus was not on whether the facts and therefore, have the same binding force as the laws themselves. 57 Hence, the Courts
circumstances would reasonably lead to the conclusion that an offense has been or is interpretation of a statute forms part of the law as of the date it was originally passed
being committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense were in because the Courts construction merely establishes the contemporaneous legislative
the place to be searched the primary points of focus of the present intent that the interpreted law carries into effect.58
case. Columbias focus was on whether the evidence presented at the time the
search warrant was applied for was sufficient to establish the facts and Article 8 of the Civil Code embodies the basic principle of stare decisis et non quieta
circumstances required for establishing probable cause to issue a search warrant. movere (to adhere to precedents and not to unsettle established matters) that enjoins
adherence to judicial precedents embodied in the decision of the Supreme Court.
Nonetheless, Columbia serves as a neat guide for the CA to decide the That decision becomes a judicial precedent to be followed in subsequent cases by all
respondents' certioraripetition. In Columbia, the Court applied the principle of non courts in the land. The doctrine of stare decisis, in turn, is based on the principle that
retroactivity of its ruling in 20th Century Fox, whose finality was not an issue, in once a question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled
reversing a CA ruling. The Courts attitude in that case should have been adopted by and closed to further argument.59 The doctrine of (horizontal) stare decisisis one of
the CA in the present case a fortiori since the ruling that the CA relied upon was not policy, grounded on the necessity of securing certainty and stability of judicial
yet final at the time the CA resolved to quash the search warrants. decisions.60

b. Supervening events justifying a broader review under Rule 65 In the field of adjudication, a case cannot yet acquire the status of a decided case
that is deemedsettled and closed to further argument if the Courts decision is still
Ordinarily, the CAs determination under Rule 65 is limited to whether the RTC the subject of a motion for reconsideration seasonably filed by the moving party.
gravely abused its discretion in granting or denying the motion to quash based on Under the Rules of Court, a party is expressly allowed to file a motion for
facts then existing. Nonetheless, the Court recognizes that supervening facts may reconsideration of the Courts decision within 15 days from notice. 61 Since the
transpire after the issuance and implementation of the search warrant that may doctrine of stare decisis is founded on the necessity of securing certainty and stability
provide justification for the quashal of the search warrant via a petition forcertiorari. in law, then these attributes will spring only once the Courts ruling has lapsed to
finality in accordance with law. In Ting v. VelezTing,62 we ruled that:
For one, if the offense for which the warrant is issued is subsequently decriminalized The principle of stare decisis enjoins adherence by lower courts to doctrinal rules
during the pendency of the petition for certiorari, then the warrant may be established by this Court in its final decisions. It is based on the principle that once a
quashed.54 For another, a subsequent ruling from the Court that a similar set of facts question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and
and circumstances does not constitute an offense, as alleged in the search warrant closed to further argument.
application, may be used as a ground to quash a warrant. 55In both instances, the
In applying Laurel despite PLDTs statement that the case is still subject of a pending
underlying reason for quashing the search warrant is the absence of probable cause
motion for reconsideration,63 the CA legally erred in refusing to reconsider its ruling
which can only possibly exist when the combination of facts and circumstances points
that largely relied on a nonfmal ruling of the Court. While the CAs dutiful desire to
to the possible commission of an offense that may be evidenced by the personal
apply the latest pronouncement of the Court in Laurel is expected, it should have
properties sought to be seized. To the CA, the second instance mentioned justified
acted with caution, instead of excitement, on being informed by PLDT of its pending
the quashal of the search warrants.
motion for reconsideration; it should have then followed the principle of stare decisis.
The appellate courts application of an exceptional circumstance when it may order
We would have readily agreed with the CA if the Laurel Division ruling had not been
the quashal of the search warrant on grounds not existing at the time the warrant was
subsequently reversed. As things turned out, however, the Court granted PLDTs
issued or implemented must still rest on prudential grounds if only to maintain the
motion for reconsideration of the Court First Divisions ruling in Laurel and ruled that
limitation of the scope of the remedy of certiorari as a writ to correct errors of
the act of engaging in ISR is xxx penalized under xxx article [308 of the RPC]. 56 As
jurisdiction and not mere errors of judgment.
the RTC itself found, PLDT successfully established in its application for a search
warrant a probable cause for theft by evidence that Laurels ISR activities deprived
Still, the respondents attempt to justify the CAs action by arguing that the CA would
PLDT of its telephone services and of its business of providing these services without
still rule in the way it did64 even without Laurel. As PLDT correctly pointed out, there is
its consent.
simply nothing in the CAs decision that would support its quashal of the search offense for which the warrant is being issued.69
warrant independently of Laurel. We must bear in mind that the CAs quashal of SW
Al and SW A2 operated under the strictures of a certioraripetition, where the Additionally, the Rules require that a search warrant should be issued in connection
presence of grave abuse of discretion is necessary for the corrective writ to issue with one specific offense to prevent the issuance of a scattershot warrant.70 The
since the appellate court exercises its supervisory jurisdiction in this case. We simply onespecificoffense requirement reinforces the constitutional requirement that a
cannot secondguess what the CAs action could have been. search warrant should issue only on the basis of probable cause. 71 Since the primary
objective of applying for a search warrant is to obtain evidence to be used in a
Lastly, the CAs reliance on Savage v. Judge Taypin65 can neither sustain the quashal subsequent prosecution for an offense for which the search warrant was applied, a
of SW Al and SW A2. In Savage, the Court granted the certiorari petition and judge issuing a particular warrant must satisfy himself that the evidence presented by
quashed the search warrant because the alleged crime (unfair competition involving the applicant establishes the facts and circumstances relating to this specific offense
design patents) that supported the search warrant had already been repealed, and for which the warrant is sought and issued.72 Accordingly, in a subsequent challenge
the act complained of, if at all, gave rise only to civil liability (for patent infringement). against the validity of the warrant, the applicant cannot be allowed to maintain its
Having been decriminalized, probable cause for the crime alleged could not possibly validity based on facts and circumstances that may be related to other search
exist. warrants but are extrinsic to the warrant in question.

In the present case, the issue is whether the commission of an ISR activity, in the Under the Rules, the following personal property may be subject of search warrant: (i)
manner that PLDTs evidence shows, sufficiently establishes probable cause for the the subject of the offense; (ii) fruits of the offense; or (iii) those used or intended to be
issuance of search warrants for the crime of theft. Unlike in Savage, the Court used as the means of committing an offense. In the present case, we sustain the
in Laurel was not confronted with the issue of decriminalization (which is a legislative CAs ruling nullifying paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of SW Bl and SW B2 for failing the test
prerogative) but whether the commission of an ISR activity meets the elements of the of particularity. More specifically, these provisions do not show how the enumerated
offense of theft for purposes of quashing an information. Since the Court, in Laurel, items could have possibly been connected with the crime for which the warrant was
ultimately ruled then an ISR activity justifies the elements of theft that must issued, i.e., P.D. No. 401. For clarity, PD No. 401 punishes:
necessarily be alleged in the information a fortiori, the RTCs determination should be Section 1. Any person who installs any water, electrical, telephone or piped
sustained on certiorari. gasconnection without previous authority from xxx the Philippine Long
Distance Telephone Company, xxx, tampers and/or uses tampered water, electrical
The requirement of particularity in SWB1 and SWB2 or gas meters, jumpers or other devices whereby water, electricity or piped gas is
stolen; steals or pilfers water, electric or piped gas meters, or water, electric and/or
On the issue of particularity in SW Bl and SW B2, we note that the respondents telephone wires, or piped gas pipes or conduits; knowingly possesses stolen or
have not appealed to us the CA ruling that sustained paragraphs 1 to 6 of the search pilfered water, electrical or gas meters as well as stolen or pilfered water, electrical
warrants. Hence, we shall limit our discussion to the question of whether the CA and/or telephone wires, or piped gas pipes and conduits, shall, upon conviction, be
correctly ruled that the RTC gravely abused its discretion insofar as it refused to punished with prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from two
quash paragraphs 7 to 9 of SW Bl and SWB2. thousand to six thousand pesos, or both.73
Paragraphs 7 to 8 of SW Bl and SW B2 read as follows:
Aside from the requirement of probable cause, the Constitution also requires that the
7. COMPUTER PRINTERS AND SCANNERS or any similar equipment or device
search warrant must particularly describe the place to be searched and the things to
used for copying and/or printing data and/or information;
be seized. This requirement of particularity in the description, especially of the things
to be seized, is meant to enable the law enforcers to readily identify the properties to
8. SOFTWARE, DISKETTES, TAPES or any similar equipment or device used for
be seized and, thus, prevent the seizure of the wrong items. It seeks to leave the law
recording or storing information; and
enforcers with no discretion at all regarding these articles and to give life to the
constitutional provision against unreasonable searches and seizures.66 In other
9. Manuals, phone cards, access codes, billing statements, receipts, contracts,
words, the requisite sufficient particularity is aimed at preventing the law enforcer
checks, orders, communications and documents, lease and/or subscription
from exercising unlimited discretion as to what things are to be taken under the
agreements or contracts, communications and documents relating to securing and
warrant and ensure that only those connected with the offense for which the warrant
using telephone lines and/or equipment[.]74
was issued shall be seized.67
According to PLDT, the items in paragraph 7 have a direct relation to violation of PD
The requirement of specificity, however, does not require technical accuracy in the No. 401 because the items are connected to computers that, in turn, are linked to the
description of the property to be seized. Specificity is satisfied if the personal unauthorized connections to PLDT telephone lines. With regard to the software,
properties' description is as far as the circumstances will ordinarily allow it to be so diskette and tapes in paragraph 8, and the items in paragraph 9, PLDT argues that
described. The nature of the description should vary according to whether the identity these items are fruits of the offense and that the information it contains constitutes
of the property or its character is a matter of concern.68 One of the tests to determine the business profit of PLDT. According to PLDT, it corroborates the fact that the
the particularity in the description of objects to be seized under a search warrant respondents have made a business out of their illegal connections to its telephone
is when the things described are limited to those which bear direct relation to the lines.
We disagree with PLDT. The fact that the printers and scanners are or may be
connected to the other illegal connections to the PLDT telephone lines does not make
them the subject of the offense or fruits of the offense, much less could they become
a means of committing an offense.

It is clear from PLDTs submission that it confuses the crime for which SW Bl and
SW B2 were issued with the crime for which SW Al and SWA2 were issued: SW
Bl and SW B2 were issued for violation of PD No. 401, to be enforced in two
different places as identified in the warrants. The crime for which these search
warrants were issued does not pertain to the crime of theft where matters of
personal property and the taking thereof with intent to gain become significant but to
PD No. 401.

These items could not be the subject of a violation of PD No. 401 since PLDT itself
does not claim that these items themselves comprise the unauthorized installations.
For emphasis, what PD No. 401 punishes is the unauthorized installation of telephone
connection without the previous consent of PLDT. In the present case, PLDT has not
shown that connecting printers, scanners, diskettes or tapes to a computer, even if
connected to a PLDT telephone line, would or should require its prior authorization.

Neither could these items be a means of committing a violation of PD No. 401 since
these copying, printing and storage devices in no way aided the respondents in
making the unauthorized connections. While these items may be accessory to the
computers and other equipment linked to telephone lines, PD No. 401 does not cover
this kind of items within the scope of the prohibition. To allow the seizure of items
under the PLDTs interpretation would, as the CA correctly observed, allow the
seizure under the warrant of properties for personal use of the respondents.

If PLDT seeks the seizure of these items to prove that these installations contain the
respondents' financial gain and the corresponding business loss to PLDT, then that
purpose is served by SW Al and SW A2 since this is what PLDT essentially
complained of in charging the respondents with theft. However, the same reasoning
does not justify its seizure under a warrant for violation of PD No. 401 since these
items are not directly connected to the PLDT telephone lines and PLDT has not even
claimed that the installation of these items requires prior authorization from it.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The


decision and the resolution of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 89213 are
hereby MODIFIED in that SW Al and SW A2 are hereby declared valid and
constitutional.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio, (Chairperson), Del Castillo, Perez, and PerlasBernabe, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines psychological incapacity even at the time of the celebration of their marriage, which,
SUPREME COURT however, only became manifest thereafter. 13
Manila
In her complaint, Carmen stated that prior to their marriage, she was already aware
THIRD DIVISION that Benjamin used to drink and gamble occasionally with his friends. 14 But after they
were married, petitioner continued to drink regularly and would go home at about
G.R. No. 166562 March 31, 2009 midnight or sometimes in the wee hours of the morning drunk and violent. He would
confront and insult respondent, physically assault her and force her to have sex with
him. There were also instances when Benjamin used his gun and shot the gate of
BENJAMIN G. TING, Petitioner, their house.15 Because of his drinking habit, Benjamins job as anesthesiologist was
vs. affected to the point that he often had to refuse to answer the call of his fellow doctors
CARMEN M. VELEZ-TING, Respondent. and to pass the task to other anesthesiologists. Some surgeons even stopped calling
him for his services because they perceived petitioner to be unreliable. Respondent
DECISION tried to talk to her husband about the latters drinking problem, but Benjamin refused
to acknowledge the same.16
NACHURA, J.:
Carmen also complained that petitioner deliberately refused to give financial support
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside the November 17, to their family and would even get angry at her whenever she asked for money for
2003 Amended Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), and its December 13, 2004 their children. Instead of providing support, Benjamin would spend his money on
Resolution2 in CA-G.R. CV No. 59903. The appellate court, in its assailed decision drinking and gambling and would even buy expensive equipment for his hobby. 17 He
and resolution, affirmed the January 9, 1998 Decision 3 of the Regional Trial Court rarely stayed home18 and even neglected his obligation to his children.19
(RTC), Branch 23, Cebu City, declaring the marriage between petitioner and
respondent null and void ab initio pursuant to Article 36 of the Family Code.4 Aside from this, Benjamin also engaged in compulsive gambling. 20 He would gamble
two or three times a week and would borrow from his friends, brothers, or from loan
The facts follow. sharks whenever he had no money. Sometimes, Benjamin would pawn his wifes own
jewelry to finance his gambling.21 There was also an instance when the spouses had
to sell their family car and even a portion of the lot Benjamin inherited from his father
Petitioner Benjamin Ting (Benjamin) and respondent Carmen Velez-Ting (Carmen) just to be able to pay off his gambling debts.22 Benjamin only stopped going to the
first met in 1972 while they were classmates in medical school. 5 They fell in love, and casinos in 1986 after he was banned therefrom for having caused trouble, an act
they were wed on July 26, 1975 in Cebu City when respondent was already pregnant which he said he purposely committed so that he would be banned from the gambling
with their first child. establishments.23

At first, they resided at Benjamins family home in Maguikay, Mandaue City. 6 When In sum, Carmens allegations of Benjamins psychological incapacity consisted of the
their second child was born, the couple decided to move to Carmens family home in following manifestations:
Cebu City.7 In September 1975, Benjamin passed the medical board
examinations8 and thereafter proceeded to take a residency program to become a
surgeon but shifted to anesthesiology after two years. By 1979, Benjamin completed 1. Benjamins alcoholism, which adversely affected his family relationship
the preceptorship program for the said field9 and, in 1980, he began working for Velez and his profession;
Hospital, owned by Carmens family, as member of its active staff,10 while Carmen
worked as the hospitals Treasurer.11 2. Benjamins violent nature brought about by his excessive and regular
drinking;
The couple begot six (6) children, namely Dennis, born on December 9, 1975; James
Louis, born on August 25, 1977; Agnes Irene, born on April 5, 1981; Charles 3. His compulsive gambling habit, as a result of which Benjamin found it
Laurence, born on July 21, 1986; Myles Vincent, born on July 19, 1988; and Marie necessary to sell the family car twice and the property he inherited from his
Corinne, born on June 16, 1991.12 father in order to pay off his debts, because he no longer had money to pay
the same; and
On October 21, 1993, after being married for more than 18 years to petitioner and
while their youngest child was only two years old, Carmen filed a verified petition 4. Benjamins irresponsibility and immaturity as shown by his failure and
before the RTC of Cebu City praying for the declaration of nullity of their marriage refusal to give regular financial support to his family.24
based on Article 36 of the Family Code. She claimed that Benjamin suffered from
In his answer, Benjamin denied being psychologically incapacitated. He maintained WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring
that he is a respectable person, as his peers would confirm. He said that he is an the marriage between plaintiff and defendant null and void ab initio pursuant to Art. 36
active member of social and athletic clubs and would drink and gamble only for social of the Family Code. x x x
reasons and for leisure. He also denied being a violent person, except when
provoked by circumstances.25 As for his alleged failure to support his family xxxx
financially, Benjamin claimed that it was Carmen herself who would collect his
professional fees from Velez Hospital when he was still serving there as practicing
anesthesiologist.26 In his testimony, Benjamin also insisted that he gave his family SO ORDERED.37
financial support within his means whenever he could and would only get angry at
respondent for lavishly spending his hard-earned money on unnecessary things.27 He Aggrieved, petitioner appealed to the CA. On October 19, 2000, the CA rendered a
also pointed out that it was he who often comforted and took care of their children, Decision38 reversing the trial courts ruling. It faulted the trial courts finding, stating
while Carmen played mahjong with her friends twice a week.28 that no proof was adduced to support the conclusion that Benjamin was
psychologically incapacitated at the time he married Carmen since Dr. Oates
During the trial, Carmens testimony regarding Benjamins drinking and gambling conclusion was based only on theories and not on established fact, 39 contrary to the
habits and violent behavior was corroborated by Susana Wasawas, who served as guidelines set forth in Santos v. Court of Appeals40 and in Rep. of the Phils. v. Court
nanny to the spouses children from 1987 to 1992.29 Wasawas stated that she of Appeals and Molina.41
personally witnessed instances when Benjamin maltreated Carmen even in front of
their children.30 Because of this, Carmen filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the Molina
guidelines should not be applied to this case since the Molina decision was
Carmen also presented as witness Dr. Pureza Trinidad-Oate, a promulgated only on February 13, 1997, or more than five years after she had filed
psychiatrist.31 Instead of the usual personal interview, however, Dr. Oates her petition with the RTC.42 She claimed that the Molina ruling could not be made to
evaluation of Benjamin was limited to the transcript of stenographic notes taken apply retroactively, as it would run counter to the principle of stare decisis. Initially, the
during Benjamins deposition because the latter had already gone to work as an CA denied the motion for reconsideration for having been filed beyond the prescribed
anesthesiologist in a hospital in South Africa. After reading the transcript of period. Respondent thereafter filed a manifestation explaining compliance with the
stenographic notes, Dr. Oate concluded that Benjamins compulsive drinking, prescriptive period but the same was likewise denied for lack of merit. Undaunted,
compulsive gambling and physical abuse of respondent are clear indications that respondent filed a petition for certiorari43 with this Court. In a Resolution44 dated
petitioner suffers from a personality disorder.32 March 5, 2003, this Court granted the petition and directed the CA to resolve
Carmens motion for reconsideration.45 On review, the CA decided to reconsider its
previous ruling. Thus, on November 17, 2003, it issued an Amended
To refute Dr. Oates opinion, petitioner presented Dr. Renato D. Obra, a psychiatrist Decision46reversing its first ruling and sustaining the trial courts decision. 47
and a consultant at the Department of Psychiatry in Don Vicente Sotto Memorial
Medical Center, as his expert witness.33 Dr. Obra evaluated Benjamins psychological
behavior based on the transcript of stenographic notes, as well as the psychiatric A motion for reconsideration was filed, this time by Benjamin, but the same was
evaluation report prepared by Dr. A.J.L. Pentz, a psychiatrist from the University of denied by the CA in its December 13, 2004 Resolution.48
Pretoria in South Africa, and his (Dr. Obras) interview with Benjamins
brothers.34 Contrary to Dr. Oates findings, Dr. Obra observed that there is nothing Hence, this petition.
wrong with petitioners personality, considering the latters good relationship with his
fellow doctors and his good track record as anesthesiologist. 35 For our resolution are the following issues:

On January 9, 1998, the lower court rendered its Decision 36 declaring the marriage I. Whether the CA violated the rule on stare decisis when it refused to follow
between petitioner and respondent null and void. The RTC gave credence to Dr. the guidelines set forth under the Santos and Molina cases;
Oates findings and the admissions made by Benjamin in the course of his
deposition, and found him to be psychologically incapacitated to comply with the
essential obligations of marriage. Specifically, the trial court found Benjamin an II. Whether the CA correctly ruled that the requirement of proof of
excessive drinker, a compulsive gambler, someone who prefers his extra-curricular psychological incapacity for the declaration of absolute nullity of marriage
activities to his family, and a person with violent tendencies, which character traits based on Article 36 of the Family Code has been liberalized; and
find root in a personality defect existing even before his marriage to Carmen. The
decretal portion of the decision reads: III. Whether the CAs decision declaring the marriage between petitioner and
respondent null and void [is] in accordance with law and jurisprudence.

We find merit in the petition.


I. On the issue of stare decisis. flexibility in refusing to apply stare decisis in constitutional litigations. Justice Brandeis'
view on the binding effect of the doctrine in constitutional litigations still holds sway
The principle of stare decisis enjoins adherence by lower courts to doctrinal rules today. In soothing prose, Brandeis stated: "Stare decisis is not . . . a universal and
established by this Court in its final decisions. It is based on the principle that once a inexorable command. The rule of stare decisis is not inflexible. Whether it shall be
question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and followed or departed from, is a question entirely within the discretion of the court,
closed to further argument.49 Basically, it is a bar to any attempt to relitigate the same which is again called upon to consider a question once decided." In the same vein,
issues,50 necessary for two simple reasons: economy and stability. In our jurisdiction, the venerable Justice Frankfurter opined: "the ultimate touchstone of constitutionality
the principle is entrenched in Article 8 of the Civil Code. 51 is the Constitution itself and not what we have said about it." In contrast, the
application of stare decisis on judicial interpretation of statutes is more inflexible. As
Justice Stevens explains: "after a statute has been construed, either by this Court or
This doctrine of adherence to precedents or stare decisis was applied by the English by a consistent course of decision by other federal judges and agencies, it acquires a
courts and was later adopted by the United States. Associate Justice (now Chief meaning that should be as clear as if the judicial gloss had been drafted by the
Justice) Reynato S. Punos discussion on the historical development of this legal Congress itself." This stance reflects both respect for Congress' role and the need to
principle in his dissenting opinion in Lambino v. Commission on Elections52 is preserve the courts' limited resources.
enlightening:
In general, courts follow the stare decisis rule for an ensemble of reasons, viz.: (1) it
The latin phrase stare decisis et non quieta movere means "stand by the thing and do legitimizes judicial institutions; (2) it promotes judicial economy; and, (3) it allows for
not disturb the calm." The doctrine started with the English Courts. Blackstone predictability. Contrariwise, courts refuse to be bound by the stare decisis rule where
observed that at the beginning of the 18th century, "it is an established rule to abide (1) its application perpetuates illegitimate and unconstitutional holdings; (2) it cannot
by former precedents where the same points come again in litigation." As the rule accommodate changing social and political understandings; (3) it leaves the power to
evolved, early limits to its application were recognized: (1) it would not be followed if it overturn bad constitutional law solely in the hands of Congress; and, (4) activist
were "plainly unreasonable"; (2) where courts of equal authority developed conflicting judges can dictate the policy for future courts while judges that respect stare decisis
decisions; and, (3) the binding force of the decision was the "actual principle or are stuck agreeing with them.
principles necessary for the decision; not the words or reasoning used to reach the
decision."
In its 200-year history, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to follow the stare decisis
rule and reversed its decisions in 192 cases. The most famous of these reversals is
The doctrine migrated to the United States. It was recognized by the framers of the Brown v. Board of Education which junked Plessy v. Ferguson's "separate but equal
U.S. Constitution. According to Hamilton, "strict rules and precedents" are necessary doctrine." Plessy upheld as constitutional a state law requirement that races be
to prevent "arbitrary discretion in the courts." Madison agreed but stressed that "x x x segregated on public transportation. In Brown, the U.S. Supreme Court, unanimously
once the precedent ventures into the realm of altering or repealing the law, it should held that "separate . . . is inherently unequal." Thus, by freeing itself from the
be rejected." Prof. Consovoy well noted that Hamilton and Madison "disagree about shackles of stare decisis, the U.S. Supreme Court freed the colored Americans from
the countervailing policy considerations that would allow a judge to abandon a the chains of inequality. In the Philippine setting, this Court has likewise refused to be
precedent." He added that their ideas "reveal a deep internal conflict between the straitjacketed by the stare decisis rule in order to promote public welfare. In La Bugal-
concreteness required by the rule of law and the flexibility demanded in error B'laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos, we reversed our original ruling that certain
correction. It is this internal conflict that the Supreme Court has attempted to deal with provisions of the Mining Law are unconstitutional. Similarly, in Secretary of Justice v.
for over two centuries." Lantion, we overturned our first ruling and held, on motion for reconsideration, that a
private respondent is bereft of the right to notice and hearing during the evaluation
Indeed, two centuries of American case law will confirm Prof. Consovoy's observation stage of the extradition process.
although stare decisis developed its own life in the United States. Two strains of stare
decisis have been isolated by legal scholars. The first, known as vertical stare decisis An examination of decisions on stare decisis in major countries will show that courts
deals with the duty of lower courts to apply the decisions of the higher courts to cases are agreed on the factors that should be considered before overturning prior rulings.
involving the same facts. The second, known as horizontal stare decisis requires that These are workability, reliance, intervening developments in the law and changes in
high courts must follow its own precedents. Prof. Consovoy correctly observes that fact. In addition, courts put in the balance the following determinants: closeness of the
vertical stare decisis has been viewed as an obligation, while horizontal stare decisis, voting, age of the prior decision and its merits.
has been viewed as a policy, imposing choice but not a command. Indeed, stare
decisis is not one of the precepts set in stone in our Constitution.
The leading case in deciding whether a court should follow the stare decisis rule in
constitutional litigations is Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It established a 4-pronged
It is also instructive to distinguish the two kinds of horizontal stare decisis test. The court should (1) determine whether the rule has proved to be intolerable
constitutional stare decisis and statutory stare decisis. Constitutional stare decisis simply in defying practical workability; (2) consider whether the rule is subject to a
involves judicial interpretations of the Constitution while statutory stare decisis kind of reliance that would lend a special hardship to the consequences of overruling
involves interpretations of statutes. The distinction is important for courts enjoy more
and add inequity to the cost of repudiation; (3) determine whether related principles of on the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations but according to
law have so far developed as to have the old rule no more than a remnant of an its own attendant facts. Courts should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis,
abandoned doctrine; and, (4) find out whether facts have so changed or come to be guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological
seen differently, as to have robbed the old rule of significant application or disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals.
justification.53
Far from abandoning Molina, we simply suggested the relaxation of the stringent
To be forthright, respondents argument that the doctrinal guidelines prescribed in requirements set forth therein, cognizant of the explanation given by the Committee
Santos and Molina should not be applied retroactively for being contrary to the on the Revision of the Rules on the rationale of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute
principle of stare decisis is no longer new. The same argument was also raised but Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-
was struck down in Pesca v. Pesca,54 and again in Antonio v. Reyes.55 In these SC), viz.:
cases, we explained that the interpretation or construction of a law by courts
constitutes a part of the law as of the date the statute is enacted. It is only when a To require the petitioner to allege in the petition the particular root cause of the
prior ruling of this Court is overruled, and a different view is adopted, that the new psychological incapacity and to attach thereto the verified written report of an
doctrine may have to be applied prospectively in favor of parties who have relied on accredited psychologist or psychiatrist have proved to be too expensive for the
the old doctrine and have acted in good faith, in accordance therewith under the parties. They adversely affect access to justice o poor litigants. It is also a fact that
familiar rule of "lex prospicit, non respicit." there are provinces where these experts are not available. Thus, the Committee
deemed it necessary to relax this stringent requirement enunciated in the Molina
II. On liberalizing the required proof for the declaration of nullity of marriage under Case. The need for the examination of a party or parties by a psychiatrist or clinical
Article 36. psychologist and the presentation of psychiatric experts shall now be determined by
the court during the pre-trial conference.60
Now, petitioner wants to know if we have abandoned the Molina doctrine.
But where, as in this case, the parties had the full opportunity to present professional
We have not. and expert opinions of psychiatrists tracing the root cause, gravity and incurability of a
partys alleged psychological incapacity, then such expert opinion should be
presented and, accordingly, be weighed by the court in deciding whether to grant a
In Edward Kenneth Ngo Te v. Rowena Ong Gutierrez Yu-Te,56 we declared that, in petition for nullity of marriage.
hindsight, it may have been inappropriate for the Court to impose a rigid set of rules,
as the one in Molina, in resolving all cases of psychological incapacity. We said that
instead of serving as a guideline, Molina unintentionally became a straightjacket, III. On petitioners psychological incapacity.
forcing all cases involving psychological incapacity to fit into and be bound by it,
which is not only contrary to the intention of the law but unrealistic as well because, Coming now to the main issue, we find the totality of evidence adduced by
with respect to psychological incapacity, no case can be considered as on "all fours" respondent insufficient to prove that petitioner is psychologically unfit to discharge the
with another.57 duties expected of him as a husband, and more particularly, that he suffered from
such psychological incapacity as of the date of the marriage eighteen (18) years ago.
By the very nature of cases involving the application of Article 36, it is logical and Accordingly, we reverse the trial courts and the appellate courts rulings declaring the
understandable to give weight to the expert opinions furnished by psychologists marriage between petitioner and respondent null and void ab initio.
regarding the psychological temperament of parties in order to determine the root
cause, juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability of the psychological incapacity. The intendment of the law has been to confine the application of Article 36 to the
However, such opinions, while highly advisable, are not conditions sine qua non in most serious cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter
granting petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage. 58 At best, courts must treat insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage. 61 The
such opinions as decisive but not indispensable evidence in determining the merits of psychological illness that must have afflicted a party at the inception of the marriage
a given case. In fact, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a should be a malady so grave and permanent as to deprive one of awareness of the
finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical or psychological examination duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond he or she is about to
of the person concerned need not be resorted to.59 The trial court, as in any other assume.621avvphi1.zw+
given case presented before it, must always base its decision not solely on the expert
opinions furnished by the parties but also on the totality of evidence adduced in the In this case, respondent failed to prove that petitioners "defects" were present at the
course of the proceedings. time of the celebration of their marriage. She merely cited that prior to their marriage,
she already knew that petitioner would occasionally drink and gamble with his friends;
It was for this reason that we found it necessary to emphasize in Ngo Te that each but such statement, by itself, is insufficient to prove any pre-existing psychological
case involving the application of Article 36 must be treated distinctly and judged not
defect on the part of her husband. Neither did the evidence adduced prove such
"defects" to be incurable.

The evaluation of the two psychiatrists should have been the decisive evidence in
determining whether to declare the marriage between the parties null and void. Sadly,
however, we are not convinced that the opinions provided by these experts
strengthened respondents allegation of psychological incapacity. The two experts
provided diametrically contradicting psychological evaluations: Dr. Oate testified that
petitioners behavior is a positive indication of a personality disorder,63 while Dr. Obra
maintained that there is nothing wrong with petitioners personality. Moreover, there
appears to be greater weight in Dr. Obras opinion because, aside from analyzing the
transcript of Benjamins deposition similar to what Dr. Oate did, Dr. Obra also took
into consideration the psychological evaluation report furnished by another
psychiatrist in South Africa who personally examined Benjamin, as well as his (Dr.
Obras) personal interview with Benjamins brothers.64 Logically, therefore, the
balance tilts in favor of Dr. Obras findings.

Lest it be misunderstood, we are not condoning petitioners drinking and gambling


problems, or his violent outbursts against his wife. There is no valid excuse to justify
such a behavior. Petitioner must remember that he owes love, respect, and fidelity to
his spouse as much as the latter owes the same to him. Unfortunately, this court finds
respondents testimony, as well as the totality of evidence presented by the
respondent, to be too inadequate to declare him psychologically unfit pursuant to
Article 36.

It should be remembered that the presumption is always in favor of the validity of


marriage. Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio.65 In this case, the presumption has
not been amply rebutted and must, perforce, prevail.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review on certiorari is


GRANTED. The November 17, 2003 Amended Decision and the December 13, 2004
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 59903 are accordingly
REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice
Republic of the Philippines On August 28, 2009, petitioner, through her counsel, sent a letter demanding for
SUPREME COURT support from respondent. However, respondent refused to receive the letter.12
Manila
Because of the foregoing circumstances, petitioner filed a complaint affidavit with the
THIRD DIVISION Provincial Prosecutor of Cebu City against respondent for violation of Section 5,
paragraph E(2) of R.A. No. 9262 for the latters unjust refusal to support his minor
G.R. No. 193707 December 10, 2014 child with petitioner.13 Respondent submitted his counter-affidavit thereto, to which
petitioner also submitted her reply-affidavit.14 Thereafter, the Provincial Prosecutor of
Cebu City issued a Resolution recommending the filing of an information for the crime
NORMA A. DEL SOCORRO, for and in behalf of her minor child RODERIGO charged against herein respondent.
NORJO VAN WILSEM,Petitioner,
vs.
ERNST JOHAN BRINKMAN VAN WILSEM, Respondent. The information, which was filed with the RTC-Cebu and raffled to Branch 20 thereof,
states that:
DECISION
That sometime in the year 1995 and up to the present, more or less, in the
Municipality of Minglanilla, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
PERALTA, J.: this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and deliberately deprive, refuse and still continue to deprive his son
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of RODERIGO NORJO VAN WILSEM, a fourteen (14) year old minor, of financial
Court seeking to reverse and set aside the Orders 1 dated February 19, 2010 and support legally due him, resulting in economic abuse to the victim. CONTRARY TO
September 1, 2010, respectively, of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City (RTC- LAW.15
Cebu), which dismissed the criminal case entitled People of the Philippines v. Ernst
Johan Brinkman Van Wilsem, docketed as Criminal Case No. CBU-85503, for Upon motion and after notice and hearing, the RTC-Cebu issued a Hold Departure
violation of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Order against respondent.16Consequently, respondent was arrested and,
Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004. subsequently, posted bail.17 Petitioner also filed a Motion/Application of Permanent
Protection Order to which respondent filed his Opposition. 18 Pending the resolution
The following facts are culled from the records: thereof, respondent was arraigned.19 Subsequently, without the RTC-Cebu having
resolved the application of the protection order, respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss
Petitioner Norma A. Del Socorro and respondent Ernst Johan Brinkman Van Wilsem on the ground of: (1) lack of jurisdiction over the offense charged; and (2) prescription
contracted marriage in Holland on September 25, 1990.2 On January 19, 1994, they of the crime charged.20
were blessed with a son named Roderigo Norjo Van Wilsem, who at the time of the
filing of the instant petition was sixteen (16) years of age. 3 On February 19, 2010, the RTC-Cebu issued the herein assailed Order,21 dismissing
the instant criminal case against respondent on the ground that the facts charged in
Unfortunately, their marriage bond ended on July 19, 1995 by virtue of a Divorce the information do not constitute an offense with respect to the respondent who is
Decree issued by the appropriate Court of Holland.4 At that time, their son was only analien, the dispositive part of which states:
eighteen (18) months old.5 Thereafter, petitioner and her son came home to the
Philippines.6 WHEREFORE, the Court finds that the facts charged in the information do not
constitute an offense with respect to the accused, he being an alien, and accordingly,
According to petitioner, respondentmade a promise to provide monthly support to orders this case DISMISSED.
their son in the amount of Two Hundred Fifty (250) Guildene (which is equivalent to
Php17,500.00 more or less).7 However, since the arrival of petitioner and her son in The bail bond posted by accused Ernst Johan Brinkman Van Wilsem for his
the Philippines, respondent never gave support to the son, Roderigo.8 provisional liberty ishereby cancelled (sic) and ordered released.

Not long thereafter, respondent cameto the Philippines and remarried in SO ORDERED.
Pinamungahan, Cebu, and since then, have been residing thereat. 9 Respondent and
his new wife established a business known as Paree Catering, located at Barangay Cebu City, Philippines, February 19, 2010.22
Tajao, Municipality of Pinamungahan, Cebu City.10 To date, all the parties, including
their son, Roderigo, are presently living in Cebu City. 11
Thereafter, petitioner filed her Motion for Reconsideration thereto reiterating petition for review under Rule 42, whereby judgment was rendered by the RTC in the
respondents obligation to support their child under Article 195 23 of the Family Code, exercise of its appellate jurisdiction; and (3) by a petition for review on certiorari
thus, failure todo so makes him liable under R.A. No. 9262 which "equally applies to before the Supreme Court under Rule 45. "The first mode of appeal is taken to the
all persons in the Philippines who are obliged to support their minor children [Court of Appeals] on questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law. The
regardless of the obligors nationality."24 second mode of appeal is brought to the CA on questions of fact, of law, or mixed
questions of fact and law. The third mode of appealis elevated to the Supreme Court
On September 1, 2010, the lower court issued an Order25 denying petitioners Motion only on questions of law." (Emphasis supplied)
for Reconsideration and reiterating its previous ruling. Thus:
There is a question of law when the issue does not call for an examination of the
x x x The arguments therein presented are basically a rehash of those advanced probative value of the evidence presented or of the truth or falsehood of the facts
earlier in the memorandum of the prosecution. Thus, the court hereby reiterates its being admitted, and the doubt concerns the correct application of law and
ruling that since the accused is a foreign national he is not subject to our national law jurisprudence on the matter. The resolution of the issue must rest solely on what the
(The Family Code) in regard to a parents duty and obligation to givesupport to his law provides on the given set of circumstances.29
child. Consequently, he cannot be charged of violating R.A. 9262 for his alleged
failure to support his child. Unless it is conclusively established that R.A. 9262 applies Indeed, the issues submitted to us for resolution involve questions of law the
to a foreigner who fails to give support tohis child, notwithstanding that he is not response thereto concerns the correct application of law and jurisprudence on a given
bound by our domestic law which mandates a parent to give such support, it is the set of facts, i.e.,whether or not a foreign national has an obligation to support his
considered opinion of the court that no prima faciecase exists against the accused minor child under Philippine law; and whether or not he can be held criminally liable
herein, hence, the case should be dismissed. under R.A. No. 9262 for his unjustified failure to do so.

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. It cannot be negated, moreover, that the instant petition highlights a novel question of
law concerning the liability of a foreign national who allegedly commits acts and
SO ORDERED. omissions punishable under special criminal laws, specifically in relation to family
rights and duties. The inimitability of the factual milieu of the present case, therefore,
deserves a definitive ruling by this Court, which will eventually serve as a guidepost
Cebu City, Philippines, September 1, 2010.26 for future cases. Furthermore, dismissing the instant petition and remanding the same
to the CA would only waste the time, effort and resources of the courts. Thus, in the
Hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari raising the following issues: present case, considerations of efficiency and economy in the administration of
justice should prevail over the observance of the hierarchy of courts.
1. Whether or not a foreign national has an obligation to support his minor
child under Philippine law; and Now, on the matter of the substantive issues, We find the petition meritorious.
Nonetheless, we do not fully agree with petitioners contentions.
2. Whether or not a foreign national can be held criminally liable under R.A.
No. 9262 for his unjustified failure to support his minor child. 27 To determine whether or not a person is criminally liable under R.A. No. 9262, it is
imperative that the legal obligation to support exists.
At the outset, let it be emphasized that We are taking cognizance of the instant
petition despite the fact that the same was directly lodged with the Supreme Court, Petitioner invokes Article 19530 of the Family Code, which provides the parents
consistent with the ruling in Republic v. Sunvar Realty Development obligation to support his child. Petitioner contends that notwithstanding the existence
Corporation,28 which lays down the instances when a ruling of the trial court may be of a divorce decree issued in relation to Article 26 of the Family Code, 31 respondent is
brought on appeal directly to the Supreme Court without violating the doctrine of not excused from complying with his obligation to support his minor child with
hierarchy of courts, to wit: petitioner.

x x x Nevertheless, the Rules do not prohibit any of the parties from filing a Rule 45 On the other hand, respondent contends that there is no sufficient and clear basis
Petition with this Court, in case only questions of law are raised or involved. This presented by petitioner that she, as well as her minor son, are entitled to financial
latter situation was one that petitioners found themselves in when they filed the support.32 Respondent also added that by reason of the Divorce Decree, he is not
instant Petition to raise only questions of law. In Republic v. Malabanan, the Court obligated topetitioner for any financial support.33
clarified the three modes of appeal from decisions of the RTC, to wit: (1) by ordinary
appeal or appeal by writ of error under Rule 41, whereby judgment was rendered in a On this point, we agree with respondent that petitioner cannot rely on Article 195 34 of
civil or criminal action by the RTC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction; (2) by a the New Civil Code in demanding support from respondent, who is a foreign citizen,
since Article 1535 of the New Civil Code stresses the principle of nationality. In other Moreover, while in Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera,45 the Court held that a divorce obtained in a
words, insofar as Philippine laws are concerned, specifically the provisions of the foreign land as well as its legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines in view of
Family Code on support, the same only applies to Filipino citizens. By analogy, the the nationality principle on the matter of status of persons, the Divorce Covenant
same principle applies to foreigners such that they are governed by their national law presented by respondent does not completely show that he is notliable to give
with respect to family rights and duties.36 support to his son after the divorce decree was issued. Emphasis is placed on
petitioners allegation that under the second page of the aforesaid covenant,
The obligation to give support to a child is a matter that falls under family rights and respondents obligation to support his child is specifically stated, 46which was not
duties. Since the respondent is a citizen of Holland or the Netherlands, we agree with disputed by respondent.
the RTC-Cebu that he is subject to the laws of his country, not to Philippinelaw, as to
whether he is obliged to give support to his child, as well as the consequences of his We likewise agree with petitioner that notwithstanding that the national law of
failure to do so.37 respondent states that parents have no obligation to support their children or that
such obligation is not punishable by law, said law would still not find applicability,in
In the case of Vivo v. Cloribel,38 the Court held that light of the ruling in Bank of America, NT and SA v. American Realty Corporation,47 to
wit:
Furthermore, being still aliens, they are not in position to invoke the provisions of the
Civil Code of the Philippines, for that Code cleaves to the principle that family rights In the instant case, assuming arguendo that the English Law on the matter were
and duties are governed by their personal law, i.e.,the laws of the nation to which they properly pleaded and proved in accordance with Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of
belong even when staying in a foreign country (cf. Civil Code, Article 15).39 Court and the jurisprudence laid down in Yao Kee, et al. vs. Sy-Gonzales, said
foreign law would still not find applicability.
It cannot be gainsaid, therefore, that the respondent is not obliged to support
petitioners son under Article195 of the Family Code as a consequence of the Divorce Thus, when the foreign law, judgment or contract is contrary to a sound and
Covenant obtained in Holland. This does not, however, mean that respondent is not established public policy of the forum, the said foreign law, judgment or order shall
obliged to support petitioners son altogether. not be applied.

In international law, the party who wants to have a foreign law applied to a dispute or Additionally, prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those
case has the burden of proving the foreign law.40 In the present case, respondent which have for their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be
hastily concludes that being a national of the Netherlands, he is governed by such rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or
laws on the matter of provision of and capacity to support.41 While respondent conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.
pleaded the laws of the Netherlands in advancing his position that he is not obliged to
support his son, he never proved the same. The public policy sought to be protected in the instant case is the principle imbedded
in our jurisdiction proscribing the splitting up of a single cause of action.
It is incumbent upon respondent to plead and prove that the national law of the
Netherlands does not impose upon the parents the obligation to support their child Section 4, Rule 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is pertinent
(either before, during or after the issuance of a divorce decree), because Llorente v.
Court of Appeals,42 has already enunciated that:

True, foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our courts are not If two or more suits are instituted on the basis of the same cause of action, the filing
authorized to takejudicial notice of them. Like any other fact, they must be alleged of one or a judgment upon the merits in any one is available as a ground for the
and proved.43 dismissal of the others. Moreover, foreign law should not be applied when its
application would work undeniable injustice to the citizens or residents of the forum.
In view of respondents failure to prove the national law of the Netherlands in his To give justice is the most important function of law; hence, a law, or judgment or
favor, the doctrine of processual presumption shall govern. Under this doctrine, if the contract that is obviously unjust negates the fundamental principles of Conflict of
foreign law involved is not properly pleaded and proved, our courts will presume that Laws.48
the foreign law is the same as our local or domestic or internal law. 44 Thus, since the
law of the Netherlands as regards the obligation to support has not been properly Applying the foregoing, even if the laws of the Netherlands neither enforce a parents
pleaded and proved in the instant case, it is presumed to be the same with Philippine obligation to support his child nor penalize the noncompliance therewith, such
law, which enforces the obligation of parents to support their children and penalizing obligation is still duly enforceable in the Philippines because it would be of great
the non-compliance therewith. injustice to the child to be denied of financial support when the latter is entitled
thereto.
We emphasize, however, that as to petitioner herself, respondent is no longer liable In addition, considering that respondent is currently living in the Philippines, we find
to support his former wife, in consonance with the ruling in San Luis v. San Luis,49 to strength in petitioners claim that the Territoriality Principle in criminal law, in relation
wit: to Article 14 of the New Civil Code, applies to the instant case, which provides that:
"[p]enal laws and those of public security and safety shall be obligatory upon all who
As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the Court ruled that she should no live and sojourn in Philippine territory, subject to the principle of public international
longerbe considered marriedto the alien spouse. Further, she should not be required law and to treaty stipulations." On this score, it is indisputable that the alleged
to perform her marital duties and obligations. It held: continuing acts of respondent in refusing to support his child with petitioner is
committed here in the Philippines as all of the parties herein are residents of the
Province of Cebu City. As such, our courts have territorial jurisdiction over the offense
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws, petitioner has to be charged against respondent. It is likewise irrefutable that jurisdiction over the
considered still married to private respondent and still subject to a wife's obligations respondent was acquired upon his arrest.
under Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil Code cannot be just. Petitioner should not be
obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support to
private respondent. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs with possible Finally, we do not agree with respondents argument that granting, but not admitting,
rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated against in her own that there is a legal basis for charging violation of R.A. No. 9262 in the instant case,
country if the ends of justice are to be served. (Emphasis added) 50 the criminal liability has been extinguished on the ground of prescription of
crime52 under Section 24 of R.A. No. 9262, which provides that:
Based on the foregoing legal precepts, we find that respondent may be made liable
under Section 5(e) and (i) of R.A. No. 9262 for unjustly refusing or failing to give SECTION 24. Prescriptive Period. Acts falling under Sections 5(a) to 5(f) shall
support topetitioners son, to wit: prescribe in twenty (20) years. Acts falling under Sections 5(g) to 5(I) shall prescribe
in ten (10) years.
SECTION 5. Acts of Violence Against Women and Their Children.- The crime of
violence against women and their children is committed through any of the following The act of denying support to a child under Section 5(e)(2) and (i) of R.A. No. 9262 is
acts: a continuing offense,53which started in 1995 but is still ongoing at present.
Accordingly, the crime charged in the instant case has clearly not prescribed.
xxxx
Given, however, that the issue on whether respondent has provided support to
petitioners child calls for an examination of the probative value of the evidence
(e) Attempting to compel or compelling the woman or her child to engage in conduct presented, and the truth and falsehood of facts being admitted, we hereby remand
which the woman or her child has the right to desist from or desist from conduct which the determination of this issue to the RTC-Cebu which has jurisdiction over the case.
the woman or her child has the right to engage in, or attempting to restrict or
restricting the woman's or her child's freedom of movement or conduct by force or
threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm, or WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Orders dated February 19, 2010 and
intimidation directed against the woman or child. This shall include, butnot limited to, September 1, 2010, respectively, of the Regional Trial Court of the City of Cebu are
the following acts committed with the purpose or effect of controlling or restricting the hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the same court to
woman's or her child's movement or conduct: conduct further proceedings based on the merits of the case.

xxxx SO ORDERED.

(2) Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her children of financial support DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
legally due her or her family, or deliberately providing the woman's children Associate Justice
insufficient financial support; x x x x

(i) Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or
her child, including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and
denial of financial support or custody of minor childrenof access to the woman's
child/children.51

Under the aforesaid special law, the deprivation or denial of financial support to the
child is considered anact of violence against women and children.
Republic of the Philippines Before long, Suzuki learned that CCT No. 9118 representing the title to the Parking
SUPREME COURT Slot No. 42 contained no annotations although it remained under the name of
Manila Cityland Pioneer. This notwithstanding, Cityland Pioneer, through Assistant Vice
President Rosario D. Perez, certified that Kang had fully paid the purchase price of
SECOND DIVISION Unit. No. 53610 and Parking Slot No. 42.11 CCT No. 18186 representing the title to the
condominium unit had no existing encumbrance, except for anannotation under Entry
No. 73321/C-10186 which provided that any conveyance or encumbrance of CCT No.
G.R. No. 205487 November 12, 2014 18186 shall be subject to approval by the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA).
Although CCT No. 18186 contained Entry No. 66432/C-10186 dated February 2,
ORION SAVINGS BANK, Petitioner, 1999 representing a mortgage in favor of Orion for a P1,000,000.00 loan, that
vs. annotation was subsequently cancelled on June 16, 2000 by Entry No. 73232/T. No.
SHIGEKANE SUZUKI, Respondent. 10186. Despite the cancellation of the mortgage to Orion, the titles to the properties
remained in possession of Perez.
DECISION
To protect his interests, Suzuki thenexecuted an Affidavit of Adverse Claim12 dated
BRION, J.: September 8, 2003, withthe Registry of Deeds of Mandaluyong City, annotated as
Entry No. 3292/C-No. 18186 in CCT No. 18186. Suzuki then demanded the delivery
of the titles.13 Orion, (through Perez), however, refused to surrender the titles, and
Before us is the Petition for Review on Certiorari1 filed by petitioner Orion Savings cited the need to consult Orions legal counsel as its reason.
Bank (Orion) under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the decision 2 dated
August 23, 2012 and the resolution3 dated January 25, 2013 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 94104. On October 14, 2003, Suzuki received a letter from Orions counsel dated October 9,
2003, stating that Kang obtained another loan in the amount of P1,800,000.00. When
Kang failed to pay, he executed a Dacion en Pagodated February 2, 2003, in favorof
The Factual Antecedents Orion covering Unit No. 536. Orion, however, did not register the Dacion en Pago,
until October 15, 2003.
In the first week of August 2003, respondent Shigekane Suzuki (Suzuki), a Japanese
national, met with Ms. Helen Soneja (Soneja) to inquire about a condominium unit On October 28, 2003, Suzuki executed an Affidavit of Adverse Claim over Parking
and a parking slot at Cityland Pioneer, Mandaluyong City, allegedly owned by Yung Slot No. 42 (covered by CCT No. 9118) and this was annotated as Entry No. 4712/C-
Sam Kang (Kang), a Korean national and a Special Resident Retiree's Visa (SRRV) No. 9118 in the parking lots title.
holder.
On January 27, 2004, Suzuki filed a complaint for specific performance and damages
At the meeting, Soneja informed Suzuki that Unit No. 536 [covered by Condominium against Kang and Orion. At the pre-trial, the parties made the following admissions
Certificate of Title (CCT) No. 18186]4 and Parking Slot No. 42 [covered by CCT No. and stipulations:
9118]5 were for sale for P3,000,000.00. Soneja likewise assured Suzuki that the titles
to the unit and the parking slot were clean. After a brief negotiation, the parties
agreed to reduce the price to P2,800,000.00. On August 5, 2003, Suzuki issued Kang 1. That as of August 26, 2003, Kang was the registered owner of Unit No.
a Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI) Check No. 83349 6 for One Hundred Thousand 536 and Parking Slot No. 42;
Pesos (P100,000.00) as reservation fee.7 On August 21, 2003, Suzuki issued Kang
another check, BPI Check No. 83350,8 this time for P2,700,000.00 representing the 2. That the mortgage in favor ofOrion supposedly executed by Kang, with
remaining balance of the purchase price. Suzuki and Kang then executed a Deed of Entry No. 66432/C-10186 dated February 2, 1999, was subsequently
Absolute Sale dated August 26, 20039 covering Unit No. 536 and Parking Slot No. 42. cancelled by Entry No. 73232/T No. 10186 dated June 16, 2000;
Soon after, Suzuki took possession of the condominium unit and parking lot, and
commenced the renovation of the interior of the condominium unit. 3. That the alleged Dacion en Pagowas never annotated in CCT Nos. 18186
and 9118;
Kang thereafter made several representations with Suzuki to deliver the titles to the
properties, which were then allegedly in possession of Alexander Perez (Perez, 4. That Orion only paid the appropriate capital gains tax and the
Orions Loans Officer) for safekeeping. Despite several verbal demands, Kang failed documentary stamp tax for the alleged Dacion en Pago on October 15,
to deliver the documents. Suzuki later on learned that Kang had left the country, 2003;
prompting Suzuki to verify the status of the properties with the Mandaluyong City
Registry of Deeds.
5. That Parking Slot No. 42, covered by CCT No. 9118, was never 2. Suzuki is not a buyer in good faith for he failed to check the owners
mortgaged to Orion; and duplicate copies of the CCTs;

6. That when Suzuki bought the properties, he went to Orion to obtain 3. Knowledge of the PRA restriction under Entry No. 73321/C-10186, which
possession of the titles. prohibits any conveyance or encumbrance of the property investment,
defeats the alleged claim of good faith by Suzuki; and
The RTC Ruling
4. Orion should not be faulted for exercising due diligence.
In its decision14 dated June 29, 2009, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 213,
Mandaluyong City ruled infavor of Suzuki and ordered Orion to deliver the CCT Nos. In his Comment,16 Suzuki asserts that the issue on spousal consent was belatedly
18186 and 9118 to Suzuki. raised on appeal. Moreover, proof of acquisition during the marital coverture is a
condition sine qua nonfor the operation of the presumption of conjugal
The court found that Suzuki was an innocent purchaser for value whose rights over ownership.17 Suzuki additionally maintains that he is a purchaser in good faith, and is
the properties prevailed over Orions. The RTC further noted that Suzuki exerted thus entitled to the protection of the law.
efforts to verify the status of the properties but he did not find any existing
encumbrance inthe titles. Although Orion claims to have purchased the property by The Courts Ruling
way of a Dacion en Pago, Suzuki only learned about it two (2) months after he bought
the properties because Orion never bothered to register or annotate the Dacion en We deny the petition for lack of merit.
Pagoin CCT Nos. 18186 and 9116.
The Court may inquire into conclusions of fact when the inference made is manifestly
The RTC further ordered Orion and Kang to jointly and severally pay Suzuki moral mistaken
damages, exemplary damages, attorneys fees, appearance fees, expenses for
litigation and cost ofsuit. Orion timely appealed the RTC decision with the CA.
In a Rule 45 petition, the latitude of judicial review generally excludes a factual and
evidentiary re-evaluation, and the Court ordinarily abides by the uniform factual
The CA Ruling conclusions of the trial court and the appellate court. 18 In the present case, while the
courts below both arrived at the same conclusion, there appears tobe an
On August 23, 2012, the CA partially granted Orions appeal and sustained the RTC incongruence in their factual findings and the legal principle they applied to the
insofar as it upheld Suzukis right over the properties. The CA further noted that Entry attendant factual circumstances. Thus, we are compelled to examine certain factual
No. 73321/C-10186 pertaining to the withdrawal of investment of an SRRV only issues in the exercise of our sound discretion to correct any mistaken inference that
serves as a warning to an SRRV holder about the implications of a conveyance of a may have been made.19
property investment. It deviated from the RTC ruling, however, by deleting the award
for moral damages, exemplary damages, attorneys fees, expenses for litigation and Philippine Law governs the transfer of real property
cost of suit.
Orion believes that the CA erred in not ruling on the issue of spousal consent. We
Orion sought a reconsideration of the CA decision but the CA denied the motion in its cannot uphold this position, however, because the issue of spousal consent was only
January 25, 2013 resolution. Orion then filed a petition for review on certiorariunder raised on appeal to the CA. It is a well-settled principle that points of law, theories,
Rule 45 with this Court. issues, and arguments not brought to the attention of the trial court cannot be raised
for the first time on appeal and considered by a reviewing court. 20 To consider these
The Petition and Comment belated arguments would violate basic principles of fairplay, justice, and due process.

Orions petition is based on the following grounds/arguments: 15 Having said these, we shall nonetheless discuss the issues Orion belatedly raised, if
only to put an end to lingering doubts on the correctness of the denial of the present
1. The Deed of Sale executed by Kang in favor of Suzuki is null and void. petition.
Under Korean law, any conveyance of a conjugal property should be made
with the consent of both spouses; It is a universal principle thatreal or immovable property is exclusively subject to the
laws of the country or state where it is located.21 The reason is found in the very
nature of immovable property its immobility. Immovables are part of the country
and so closely connected to it that all rights over them have their natural center of of the Republic of Korea"29 to prove the existence of Korean Law. This certification,
gravity there.22 does not qualify as sufficient proof of the conjugal nature of the property for there is
no showing that it was properly authenticated bythe seal of his office, as required
Thus, all matters concerning the titleand disposition ofreal property are determined by under Section 24 of Rule 132.30
what is known as the lex loci rei sitae, which can alone prescribe the mode by which a
title canpass from one person to another, or by which an interest therein can be Accordingly, the International Law doctrine of presumed-identity approachor
gained or lost.23 This general principle includes all rules governing the descent, processual presumption comes into play, i.e., where a foreign law is not pleaded or,
alienation and transfer of immovable property and the validity, effect and construction evenif pleaded, is not proven, the presumption is that foreign law is the same as
of wills and other conveyances.24 Philippine Law.31

This principle even governs the capacity of the person making a deed relating to Under Philippine Law, the phrase "Yung Sam Kang married to' Hyun Sook Jung" is
immovable property, no matter what its nature may be. Thus, an instrument will be merely descriptive of the civil status of Kang.32 In other words, the import from the
ineffective to transfer title to land if the person making it is incapacitated by the lex loci certificates of title is that Kang is the owner of the properties as they are registered in
rei sitae, even though under the law of his domicile and by the law of the place where his name alone, and that he is married to Hyun Sook Jung.
the instrument is actually made, his capacity is undoubted.25
We are not unmindful that in numerous cases we have held that registration of the
On the other hand, property relations between spouses are governed principally by property in the name of only one spouse does not negate the possibility of it being
the national law of the spouses.26 However, the party invoking the application of a conjugal or community property.33 In those cases, however, there was proof that the
foreign law has the burden of proving the foreign law. The foreign law is a question of properties, though registered in the name of only one spouse, were indeed either
fact to be properly pleaded and proved as the judge cannot take judicial notice of a conjugal or community properties.34 Accordingly, we see no reason to declare as
foreign law.27 He is presumed to know only domestic or the law of the forum. 28 invalid Kangs conveyance in favor of Suzuki for the supposed lack of spousal
consent.
To prove a foreign law, the party invoking it must present a copy thereof and comply
with Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court which reads: The petitioner failed to adduce sufficient evidence to prove the due execution of the
Dacion en Pago
SEC. 24. Proof of official record. The record of public documents referred to in
paragraph (a) of Section 19, when admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced by Article 1544 of the New Civil Codeof the Philippines provides that:
an official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the officer having the legal
custody of the record, or by his deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in ART. 1544. If the same thing should have been sold to different vendees, the
the Philippines, with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If the office in ownership shall be transferred to the person who may have first taken possession
which the record is kept is in a foreign country, the certificate may be made by a thereof in good faith, if it should be movable property.
secretary of the embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice consul, or consular
agent or by any officer in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed in the foreign
country inwhich the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his office. Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall belong to the person acquiring it
(Emphasis supplied) who in good faith first recorded it in the Registry of Property.

SEC. 25. What attestation ofcopy must state. Whenever a copy of a document or Should there be no inscription, the ownership shall pertain to the person who in good
record is attested for the purpose of the evidence, the attestation must state, in faith was first in the possession; and, in the absence thereof, to the person who
substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, as presents the oldest title, provided there is good faith.
the case may be. The attestation must be under the official seal of the attesting
officer, if there be any, or if he be the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of The application of Article 1544 of the New Civil Code presupposes the existence of
such court. two or more duly executed contracts of sale. In the present case, the Deed of Sale
dated August 26, 200335 between Suzuki and Kang was admitted by Orion36 and was
Accordingly, matters concerning the title and disposition of real property shall be properly identified by Suzukis witness Ms. Mary Jane Samin (Samin). 37
governed by Philippine law while issues pertaining to the conjugal natureof the
property shall be governed by South Korean law, provided it is proven as a fact. It is not disputed, too, that the Deed of Sale dated August 26, 2003 was
consummated. In a contract of sale, the seller obligates himself to transfer the
In the present case, Orion, unfortunately failed to prove the South Korean law on the ownership of the determinate thing sold, and to deliver the same to the buyer, who
conjugal ownership ofproperty. It merely attached a "Certification from the Embassy obligates himself to pay a price certain to the seller.38 The execution of the notarized
deed of saleand the actual transfer of possession amounted to delivery that produced A: February 6, 2003, your Honor.41
the legal effect of transferring ownership to Suzuki.39
A reading of the supposed promissory note, however, shows that there was nodefault
On the other hand, although Orion claims priority in right under the principle of prius to speak of when the supposed Dacion en Pagowas executed.
tempore, potior jure (i.e.,first in time, stronger in right), it failedto prove the existence
and due execution of the Dacion en Pagoin its favor. Based on the promissory note, Kangs loan obligation wouldmature only on August
27, 2003. Neither can Orion claim that Kang had been in default in his installment
At the outset, Orion offered the Dacion en Pagoas Exhibit "5"with submarkings "5-a" payments because the wordings of the promissory note provide that "[t]he principal of
to "5-c" to prove the existence of the February 6, 2003 transaction in its Formal Offer this loanand its interest and other charges shall be paid by me/us in accordance
dated July 20, 2008. Orion likewise offered in evidence the supposed promissory note hereunder: SINGLE PAYMENT LOANS.42 "There was thus no due and demandable
dated September 4, 2002 as Exhibit "12"to prove the existence of the loan obligation when the alleged Dacion en Pago was executed.
additional P800,000.00 loan. The RTC, however, denied the admission of Exhibits "5"
and "12,"among others, in its order dated August 19, 2008 "since the same [were] not Second, Perez, the supposed person who prepared the Dacion en Pago,appears to
identified in court by any witness."40 only have a vague idea of the transaction he supposedly prepared. During his cross-
examination, he testified:
Despite the exclusion of its most critical documentary evidence, Orion failed to make
a tender ofexcluded evidence, as provided under Section 40, Rule 132 of the Rules of ATTY. DE CASTRO:
Court. For this reason alone, we are prevented from seriously considering Exhibit "5"
and its submarkings and Exhibit "12" in the present petition.
Q: And were you the one who prepared this [dacion en pago] Mr. witness?
Moreover, even if we consider Exhibit "5" and its submarkings and Exhibit "12" in the
present petition, the copious inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimonial and A: Yes, sir. I personally prepared this.
documentary evidence of Orion, militate against the conclusion that the Dacion en
Pagowas duly executed. First, there appears to be no due and demandable obligation xxxx
when the Dacion en Pago was executed, contrary to the allegations of Orion. Orions
witness Perez tried to impress upon the RTC that Kang was in default in Q: So this 1.8 million pesos is already inclusive of all the penalties, interest
his P1,800,000.00 loan. During his direct examination, he stated: and surcharge due from Mr. Yung Sam Kang?

ATTY. CRUZAT: A: Its just the principal, sir.

Q: Okay, so this loan of P1.8 million, what happened to this loan, Mr. Q: So you did not state the interest [and] penalties?
Witness?

A: In the [dacion en pago], we do not include interest, sir. We may actually


A: Well it became past due, there has been delayed interest payment by Mr. includethat but....
Kangand...

Q: Can you read the Second Whereas Clause, Mr. Witness?


Q: So what did you do after there were defaults[?]

A: Whereas the first party failed to pay the said loan to the second party and
A: We have to secure the money or the investment of the bank through as of February 10, 2003, the outstanding obligation which is due and
loans and we have executed a dacion en pagobecause Mr. Kang said he demandable principal and interest and other charges included amounts
has no money. So we just execute[d] the dacion en pago rather than going to P1,800,000.00 pesos, sir.
through the Foreclosure proceedings.

xxxx
xxxx

Q: You are now changing your answer[.] [I]t now includes interest and other
Q: Can you tell the court when was this executed? charges, based on this document?
A: Yes, based on that document, sir.43 Q: Would you recall if there was any payment by Mr. Yung Sam Kang of
this P1,000,000.00 loan?
Third, the Dacion en Pago,mentioned that the P1,800,000.00 loan was
secured by a real estate mortgage. However, no document was ever A: None sir.
presented to prove this real estate mortgage aside from it being mentioned
in the Dacion en Pago itself. Q: No payments?

ATTY. DE CASTRO: A: None sir.

Q: Would you know if there is any other document like a supplement to that Q: And from 1999 to 2002, there was no payment, either by way of payment
Credit Line Agreement referring to this 1.8 million peso loan by Mr. Yung to the principal, by way ofpayment of interest, there was no payment by Mr.
Sam Kang which says that there was a subsequent collateralization or Yung Sam Kang of this loan?
security given by Mr. Yung [Sam]
A: Literally, there was no actual cash movement, sir.
Kang for the loan?
Q: There was no actual cash?
xxxx
A: Yes, sir.
A: The [dacion en pago], sir.44
Q: And yet despite no payment, the bank Orion Savings Bank still extended
Fourth,the Dacion en Pago was first mentioned only two (2) months after Suzuki and an P800,000.00 additional right?
Samin demanded the delivery of the titles sometime in August 2003,and after Suzuki
caused the annotation of his affidavit of adverse claim. Records show that it was only
on October 9, 2003, when Orion, through its counsel, Cristobal Balbin Mapile & A: Yes, sir.47
Associates first spoke of the Dacion en Pago.45 Not even Perez mentioned any
Dacion en Pago on October 1, 2003, when he personally received a letter demanding Fifth, it is undisputed that notwithstanding the supposed execution of theDacion en
the delivery of the titles.Instead, Perez refused to accept the letter and opted to first Pago on February 2, 2003, Kang remained in possession of the condominium unit. In
consult with his lawyer.46 fact, nothing in the records shows that Orion even bothered to take possession of the
property even six (6) months after the supposed date of execution of the Dacion en
Notably, even the October 9, 2003 letter contained material inconsistencies in its Pago. Kang was even able to transfer possession of the condominium unit to Suzuki,
recital of facts surrounding the execution of the Dacion en Pago. In particular, it who then made immediate improvements thereon. If Orion really purchased the
mentioned that "on [September 4, 2002], after paying the original loan, [Kang] applied condominium unit on February 2, 2003 and claimed to be its true owner, why did it not
and was granted a new Credit Line Facility by [Orion] x x x for ONE MILLION EIGHT assert its ownership immediately after the alleged sale took place? Why did it have to
HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P1,800,000.00)." Perez, however, testified that assert its ownership only after Suzuki demanded the delivery of the titles? These
there was "no cash movement" in the original P1,000,000.00 loan. In his testimony, gaps have remained unanswered and unfilled.
he said:
In Suntay v. CA,48 we held that the most prominent index of simulation is the
COURT: complete absence of anattempt on the part of the vendee to assert his rights of
ownership over the property in question. After the sale, the vendee should have
entered the land and occupied the premises. The absence of any attempt on the part
xxxx of Orion to assert its right of dominion over the property allegedly soldto it is a clear
badge of fraud. That notwithstanding the execution of the Dacion en Pago, Kang
Q: Would you remember what was the subject matter of that real estate remained in possession of the disputed condominium unit from the time of the
mortgage for that firstP1,000,000.00 loan? execution of the Dacion en Pagountil the propertys subsequent transfer to Suzuki
unmistakably strengthens the fictitious nature of the Dacion en Pago.
A: Its a condominium Unit in Cityland, sir.

xxxx
These circumstances, aside from the glaring inconsistencies in the documents and Moreover, Orion should not be allowed to successfully assail the good faith of Suzuki
testimony of Orions witness, indubitably prove the spurious nature of the Dacion en on the basis of the PRA restriction. Orion knew of the PRA restriction when it
Pago. transacted with Kang. Incidentally, Orion admitted accommodating Kangs request to
cancel the mortgage annotation despite the lack of payment to circumvent the PRA
The fact that the Dacion en Pago restriction. Orion, thus, is estopped from impugning the validity of the conveyance in
is a notarized document does not favor of Suzuki on the basis of the PRA restriction that Orion itself ignored and
support the conclusion that the "attempted" to circumvent.
sale it embodies is a true
conveyance With the conclusion that Orion failed to prove the authenticity of the Dacion en Pago,
we see no reason for the application of the rules on double sale under Article 1544 of
Public instruments are evidence of the facts that gave rise to their execution and are the New Civil Code. Suzuki, moreover, successfully adduced sufficient evidence to
to be considered as containing all the terms of the agreement.49 While a notarized establish the validity of conveyance in his favor.
document enjoys this presumption, "the fact that a deed is notarized is not a
guarantee of the validity of its contents."50 The presumption of regularity of notarized WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the petition for lack of merit. Costs
documents is not absolute and may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence to against petitioner Orion Savings Bank.
the contrary.51
SO ORDERED.
In the present case, the presumption cannot apply because the regularity in the
execution of the Dacion en Pago and the loan documents was challenged in the ARTURO D. BRION
proceedings below where their prima facievalidity was overthrown by the highly Associate Justice
questionable circumstances surrounding their execution. 52

Effect of the PRA restriction on


the validity of Suzukis title to the
property

Orion argues that the PRA restriction in CCT No. 18186 affects the conveyance to
Suzuki. In particular, Orion assails the status of Suzuki as a purchaser in good faith in
view of the express PRA restriction contained in CCT No. 18186.53

We reject this suggested approachoutright because, to our mind, the PRA restriction
cannot affect the conveyance in favor of Suzuki. On this particular point, we concur
withthe following findings of the CA:

x x x the annotation merely servesas a warning to the owner who holds a Special
Resident Retirees Visa(SRRV) that he shall lose his visa if he disposes his property
which serves as his investment in order to qualify for such status. Section 14 of the
Implementing Investment Guidelines under Rule VIII-A of the Rules and Regulations
Implementing Executive Order No. 1037, Creating the Philippine Retirement Park
System Providing Funds Therefor and For Other Purpose ( otherwise known as the
Philippine Retirement Authority) states:

Section 14. Should the retiree-investor withdraw his investment from the Philippines,
or transfer the same to another domestic enterprise, orsell, convey or transfer his
condominium unit or units to another person, natural or juridical without the prior
approval of the Authority, the Special Resident Retirees Visa issued to him, and/or
unmarried minor child or children[,] may be cancelled or revoked by the Philippine
Government, through the appropriate government department or agency, upon
recommendation of the Authority.54
Republic of the Philippines 7. In the meantime, Yuichiro Kobayashi married Ryo Miken on 27 December
SUPREME COURT 2005. A copy of the JapaneseFamily Registry Record of Kobayashi showing the
Manila divorce he obtained and his remarriage with Ryo Miken, duly authenticated by
the Consulate-General of Japan and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, is
FIRST DIVISION hereto attached as Annex E and made an integral part hereof.

G.R. No. 195432 August 27, 2014 8. Recently, petitioner applied for the renewal of her Philippine passport to
indicate her surname withher husband Masatomi Y. Ando but she was told at the
Department of Foreign Affairs that the same cannot be issued to her until she
EDELINA T. ANDO, Petitioner, can prove bycompetent court decision that her marriage with her said husband
vs. Masatomi Y. Ando is valid until otherwise declared.
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Respondent.
xxxx
DECISION
12. Prescinding from the foregoing, petitioners marriage with her said husband
SERENO, CJ: Masatomi Y. Ando musttherefore be honored, considered and declared valid,
until otherwise declared by a competent court. Consequently, and until then,
This is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking the petitioner therefore is and must be declared entitled to the issuance of a
nullification of the Orders dated 14 January and 8 February 2011 issued by the Philippine passport under the name Edelina Ando y Tungol. Hence, this
Regional Trial Court (R TC), Third Judicial Region, Branch 45, 1 City of San Fernando, petitioner pursuant to Rule 63 of the Rules of Court. 2
Pampanga, in Civil Case No. 137, which dismissed the Petition for Declaratory Relief
filed therein. On 29 October 2010, petitioner filed with the RTC a Petition for Declaratory Relief,
which was later raffled off to Branch 46. She impleaded the Department of Foreign
STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND OF THE CASE Affairs (DFA) as respondent and prayed for the following reliefs before the lower
court:
The pertinent facts of the case, as alleged by petitioner, are as follows:
WHEREFORE, petitioner most respectfully prays of this Honorable Court that after
3. On 16 September 2001, petitioner married Yuichiro Kobayashi, a Japanese proper proceedings, judgment be rendered, as follows:
National, in a civil wedding solemnized at Candaba, Pampanga. A copy of their
Certificate of Marriage is hereto attached as Annex 'A' and made an integral part (a) declaring as valid and subsisting the marriage between petitioner Edelina T.
hereof. Ando and her husband Masatomi Y. Ando until otherwise declared by a
competent court;
4. On 16 September 2004, Yuichiro Kobayashi sought in Japan, and was validly
granted under Japaneselaws, a divorce in respect of his marriage with petitioner. (b) declaring petitioner entitled to the issuance of a Philippine Passport under the
A copy of the Divorce Certificate duly issued by the Consulate-General of Japan name "Edelina Ando y Tungol"; and
and duly authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, is heretoas
Annex B and made an integral part hereof. 5. Said Divorce Certificate was duly (c) directing the Department ofForeign Affairs to honor petitioners marriage to
registered with the Office of the Civil Registry of Manila. A copy of the her husband Masatomi Y. Ando and to issue a Philippine Passport to petitioner
Certification dated 28 October 2005 is hereto attached as Annex C and made under the name "Edelina Ando y Tungol".
an integral part hereof.
Petitioner prays for such other just and equitable reliefs.3
6. Believing in good faith that said divorce capacitated her to remarry and that by
such she reverted to her single status, petitioner married Masatomi Y. Ando on
13 September 2005 in a civil wedding celebrated in Sta. Ana, Pampanga. A copy On 15 November 2010, in an Order dismissing the Petition for want of cause and
of their Certificate of Marriage is hereto attached as Annex D and made an action, as well as jurisdiction, the RTC held thus:
integral part hereof.
Records of the case would reveal that prior to petitioners marriage to Masatomi Y.
Ando, herein petitioner was married to Yuichiro Kobayashi, a Japanese National, in
Candaba, Pampanga, on September 16, 2001, and that though a divorce was
obtained and granted in Japan, with respect to the their (sic) marriage, there is no Petitioner argues that under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, or the Rule on the Declaration of
showing that petitioner herein complied with the requirements set forth in Art. 13 of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, it is solely
the Family Code that is obtaining a judicial recognition of the foreign decree of the wife or the husband who can file a petition for the declaration of the absolute
absolute divorce in our country. nullity of a void marriage. Thus, as the state is not even allowed to filea direct petition
for the declaration of the absolute nullity of a void marriage,with even more reason
It is therefore evident, under the foregoing circumstances, that herein petitioner does can it not collaterally attack the validity of a marriage, as in a petition for declaratory
not have any causeof action and/or is entitled to the reliefs prayed for under Rule 63 relief. Further, petitioner alleges that under the law, a marriage even one that is void
of the Rules of Court. In the same vein, though there is other adequate remedy or voidable shall be deemed valid until declared otherwise in a judicial proceeding.
available to the petitioner, such remedy is however beyond the authority and
jurisdiction of this court to act upon and grant, as it isonly the family court which is Petitioner also argues that assuming a court judgment recognizing a judicial decree of
vested with such authority and jurisdiction.4 divorce is required under Article 13 of the Family Code, noncompliance therewith is a
mere irregularity in the issuance of a marriage license. Any irregularity in the formal
On 3 December 2010, petitioner filed an Ex ParteMotion for Reconsideration of the requisites of marriage, such as with respect to the marriage license, shall notaffect
Order dated 15 November 2010. In anOrder dated 14 December 2010, the RTC the legality of the marriage. Petitioner further claims that all the requisites for a
granted the motion in this wise: petition for declaratory relief have been complied with.

WHEREFORE, considering that the allegations and reliefs prayed for by the petitioner With respect to the failure to furnish a copy of the Ex ParteMotion for Reconsideration
in her petition and the instant Motion for Reconsideration falls within the jurisdiction of to the OSG and the DFA, petitioner avers that at the time of the filing, the RTC had
the Special Family Court of this jurisdiction and for the interest ofsubstantial justice, yet to issue a summons to respondent; thus, it had yet to acquire jurisdiction over
the Order of the Court dated November 15, 2010 is hereby reconsidered. them.

Let the record of this case be therefore referred back to the Office of the Clerk of Thereafter, the DFA, through the OSG, filed a Comment on the Petition. The latter
Court for proper endorsement to the Family Court of this jurisdiction for raised the following arguments: (1) the Petition was improperly verified, as the juratin
appropriateaction and/or disposition.5 Thereafter, the case was raffled to Branch 45 of the Verification thereof only stated that the affiant had exhibited "her currentand valid
the RTC. On 14 January 2011, the trial court dismissed the Petition anew on the proof of identity," which proof was not properly indicated, however; (2) prior judicial
ground that petitioner had no cause of action. The Order reads thus: recognition by a Philippine court of a divorce decree obtained by the alien spouse is
required before a Filipino spouse can remarry and be entitled to the legal effects of
remarriage; (3) petitioner failed to show that she had first exhausted all available
The petition specifically admits that the marriage she seeks to be declared as valid is administrative remedies, such as appealing to the Secretary of the DFA under
already her second marriage, a bigamous marriage under Article 35(4) of the Family Republic Act No. (R.A.) 8239, or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, before resorting
Codeconsidering that the first one, though allegedly terminated by virtue of the to the special civil action of declaratory relief; and (4) petitioners Motion for
divorce obtained by Kobayashi, was never recognized by a Philippine court, hence, Reconsideration before the RTC was a mere scrap of paper and did not toll the
petitioner is considered as still married to Kobayashi. Accordingly, the second running of the period to appeal. Hence, the RTC Order dated 14 January 2011 is now
marriage with Ando cannot be honored and considered asvalid at this time. final.

Petitioners allegation of Sec. 2 (a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is misplaced. The fact On 29 November 2011, petitioner filed her Reply to the Comment, addressing the
that no judicial declaration of nullity of her marriage with Ando was rendered does not issues raised therein.
make the same valid because such declaration under Article 40 ofthe Family Code is
applicable onlyin case of re-marriage. More importantly, the absence of a judicial
declaration of nullity of marriage is not even a requisite to make a marriage valid. THE COURTS RULING

In view of the foregoing, the dismissal of this case is imperative. 6 The Court finds the Petition to be without merit.

On 1 February 2011,petitioner filed an Ex ParteMotion for Reconsideration of the First, with respect to her prayer tocompel the DFA to issue her passport, petitioner
Order dated 14 January 2011. The motion was denied by the RTC in open court on 8 incorrectly filed a petition for declaratory relief before the RTC. She should have first
February2011, considering that neither the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) nor appealed before the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, since her ultimate entreaty was
respondent was furnished with copies of the motion. toquestion the DFAs refusal to issue a passport to her under her second husbands
name.
On 24 March 2011, petitioner filed the instant Petition for Review, raising the sole
issue of whether or not the RTC erred in ruling that she had no cause of action.
Under the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. 8239, which was Sec. 9. Appeal. Any person who feels aggrieved as a result of the application of
adopted on 25 February 1997, the following are the additional documentary this Act of the implementing rules and regulations issued by the Secretary shall have
requirements before a married woman may obtain a passport under the name of her the right to appeal to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs from whose decision judicial
spouse: review may be had to the Courts in due course.

SECTION 2. The issuance of passports to married, divorced or widowed women shall The IRR further provides in detail:
be made inaccordance with the following provisions:
ARTICLE 10
a) In case of a woman who is married and who decides to adopt the surname of her Appeal
husband pursuant to Art. 370 of Republic Act No. 386, she must present the
original or certifiedtrue copy of her marriage contract, and one photocopy thereof. In the event that an application for a passport is denied, or an existing one cancelled
or restricted, the applicant or holder thereof shall have the right to appeal in writing to
In addition thereto, a Filipino who contracts marriage in the Philippines to a the Secretary within fifteen (15) days from notice of denial, cancellation or restriction.
foreigner, shall be required to present a Certificate of Attendance in a Guidance
and Counselling Seminar conducted by the CFO when applying for a passport for Clearly, she should have filed anappeal with the Secretary of the DFA in the event of
the first time. the denial of her application for a passport, after having complied with the provisions
of R.A. 8239. Petitioners argument that her application "cannot be said to havebeen
b) In case of annulment of marriage, the applicant must present a certified true either denied, cancelled or restricted by [the DFA ], so as to make her an aggrieved
copy of her annotated Marriage Contract or Certificate of Registration and the Court party entitled to appeal",7 as instead she "was merely told"8 that her passport cannot
Order effecting the annulment. be issued, does not persuade. The law provides a direct recourse for petitioner in the
event of the denial of her application.
c) In case of a woman who was divorced by her alien husband, she must present a
certified true copy of the Divorce Decree duly authenticated by the Philippine Second, with respect to her prayer for the recognition of her second marriage as
Embassy or consular post which has jurisdiction over the place where the divorce is valid, petitioner should have filed, instead, a petition for the judicial recognition of her
obtained or by the concerned foreign diplomatic or consular mission in the foreign divorce from her first husband.
Philippines.
In Garcia v. Recio,9 we ruled that a divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be
When the divorcee is a Filipino Muslim, she must present a certified true copy of the recognized in our jurisdiction, provided the decree is valid according to the national
Divorce Decree or a certified true copy of the Certificate of Divorce from the Shariah law of the foreigner. The presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient; both
Court or the OCRG. d) In the event that marriage is dissolved by the death of the the divorce decree and the governing personal law of the alien spouse who obtained
husband, the applicant must present the original or certified true copy of the Death the divorce must be proven. Because our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign
Certificate of the husband or the Declaration of Presumptive Death by a Civil or laws and judgment, our law on evidence requires that both the divorce decree and the
Shariah Court, in which case the applicant may choose to continue to use her national law of the alien must be alleged and proven and like any other fact. 10
husbands surname or resume the use of her maiden surname. From the above
provisions, it is clear that for petitioner to obtain a copy of her passport under her While it has been ruled that a petition for the authority to remarry filed before a trial
married name, all she needed to present were the following: (1) the original or court actually constitutes a petition for declaratory relief, 11 we are still unable to grant
certified true copyof her marriage contract and one photocopy thereof; (2) a the prayer of petitioner. As held by the RTC, there appears to be insufficient proof or
Certificate of Attendance in a Guidance and Counseling Seminar, if applicable; and evidence presented on record of both the national law of her first husband,
(3) a certified true copy of the Divorce Decree duly authenticated by the Philippine Kobayashi, and of the validity of the divorce decree under that national law.12 Hence,
Embassy or consular post that has jurisdiction over the place where the divorce is any declaration as to the validity of the divorce can only be made upon her complete
obtained or by the concerned foreign diplomatic or consular mission in the submission of evidence proving the divorce decree and the national law of her alien
Philippines. spouse, in an action instituted in the proper forum.

In this case, petitioner was allegedly told that she would not be issued a Philippine WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED without prejudice to petitioner's
passport under her second husbands name.1wphi1 Should her application for a recourse to the proper remedies available.
passport be denied, the remedies available to her are provided in Section 9 of R.A.
8239, which reads thus:
SO ORDERED. MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Chief Justice, Chairperson
Republic of the Philippines A parcel of land with an area of 175 sq.m. located at P175,000.00 3
SUPREME COURT Sabang Baler, Aurora
Manila
3-has. coconut plantation in San Joaquin Maria P750,000.00
SECOND DIVISION Aurora, Aurora
USA
G.R. No. 188289 August 20, 2014
PROPERTY FAIR MARKET VALUE
DAVID A. NOVERAS, Petitioner, House and Lot at 1155 Hanover Street, Daly City,
vs. California
LETICIA T. NOVERAS, Respondent.
$550,000.00
DECISION (unpaid debt of $285,000.00)
Furniture and furnishings $3,000
PEREZ, J.:
Jewelries (ring and watch) $9,000
Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the 9 May 2008 Decision 1 of the 2000 Nissan Frontier 4x4 pickup truck $13,770.00
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R .. CV No. 88686, which affirmed in part the 8 December
2006 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baler, Aurora, Branch 96. Bank of America Checking Account $8,000
Bank of America Cash Deposit
The factual antecedents are as follow:
Life Insurance (Cash Value) $100,000.00
David A. Noveras (David) and Leticia T. Noveras (Leticia) were married on 3 Retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuities $56,228.00 4
December 1988 in Quezon City, Philippines. They resided in California, United States
of America (USA) where they eventually acquired American citizenship. They then
begot two children, namely: Jerome T. The Sampaloc property used to beowned by Davids parents. The parties herein
secured a loan from a bank and mortgaged the property. When said property was
Noveras, who was born on 4 November 1990 and JenaT. Noveras, born on 2 May about to be foreclosed, the couple paid a total of P1.5 Million for the redemption of the
1993. David was engaged in courier service business while Leticia worked as a nurse same.
in San Francisco, California.
Due to business reverses, David left the USA and returned to the Philippines in 2001.
During the marriage, they acquired the following properties in the Philippines and in In December 2002,Leticia executed a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) authorizing
the USA: David to sell the Sampaloc property for P2.2 Million. According to Leticia, sometime in
September 2003, David abandoned his family and lived with Estrellita Martinez in
Aurora province. Leticia claimed that David agreed toand executed a Joint Affidavit
PHILIPPINES with Leticia in the presence of Davids father, Atty. Isaias Noveras, on 3 December
2003 stating that: 1) the P1.1Million proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property
PROPERTY FAIR MARKET VALUE shall be paid to and collected by Leticia; 2) that David shall return and pay to
LeticiaP750,000.00, which is equivalent to half of the amount of the redemption price
House and Lot with an area of 150 sq. m. located at P1,693,125.00 of the Sampaloc property; and 3) that David shall renounce and forfeit all his rights
1085 Norma Street, Sampaloc, Manila (Sampaloc and interest in the conjugal and real properties situated in the Philippines. 5 David was
property)
able to collect P1,790,000.00 from the sale of the Sampaloc property, leaving an
Agricultural land with an area of 20,742 sq. m. P400,000.00 unpaid balance of P410,000.00.
located at Laboy, Dipaculao, Aurora
Upon learning that David had an extra-marital affair, Leticia filed a petition for divorce
A parcel of land with an area of 2.5 hectares located P490,000.00 with the Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo, USA. The California court
at Maria Aurora, Aurora granted the divorce on 24 June 2005 and judgment was duly entered on 29 June
2005.6 The California court granted to Leticia the custody of her two children, as well 1. The absolute community of property of the parties is hereby declared
as all the couples properties in the USA.7 DISSOLVED;

On 8 August 2005, Leticia filed a petition for Judicial Separation of Conjugal Property 2. The net assets of the absolute community of property ofthe parties in the
before the RTC of Baler, Aurora. She relied on the 3 December 2003 Joint Affidavit Philippines are hereby ordered to be awarded to respondent David A.
and Davids failure to comply with his obligation under the same. She prayed for: 1) Noveras only, with the properties in the United States of America remaining
the power to administer all conjugal properties in the Philippines; 2) David and his in the sole ownership of petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana
partner to cease and desist from selling the subject conjugal properties; 3) the pursuant to the divorce decree issuedby the Superior Court of California,
declaration that all conjugal properties be forfeited in favor of her children; 4) David to County of San Mateo, United States of America, dissolving the marriage of
remit half of the purchase price as share of Leticia from the sale of the Sampaloc the parties as of June 24, 2005. The titles presently covering said properties
property; and 5) the payment ofP50,000.00 and P100,000.00 litigation expenses.8 shall be cancelled and new titles be issued in the name of the party to whom
said properties are awarded;
In his Answer, David stated that a judgment for the dissolution of their marriage was
entered on 29 June 2005 by the Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo. 3. One-half of the properties awarded to respondent David A. Noveras in the
He demanded that the conjugal partnership properties, which also include the USA preceding paragraph are hereby given to Jerome and Jena, his two minor
properties, be liquidated and that all expenses of liquidation, including attorneys fees children with petitioner LeticiaNoveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana as their
of both parties be charged against the conjugal partnership.9 presumptive legitimes and said legitimes must be annotated on the titles
covering the said properties.Their share in the income from these properties
The RTC of Baler, Aurora simplified the issues as follow: shall be remitted to them annually by the respondent within the first half of
January of each year, starting January 2008;
1. Whether or not respondent David A. Noveras committed acts of
abandonment and marital infidelity which can result intothe forfeiture of the 4. One-half of the properties in the United States of America awarded to
parties properties in favor of the petitioner and their two (2) children. petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana in paragraph 2 are hereby
given to Jerome and Jena, her two minor children with respondent David A.
Noveras as their presumptive legitimes and said legitimes must be
2. Whether or not the Court has jurisdiction over the properties in California, annotated on the titles/documents covering the said properties. Their share
U.S.A. and the same can be included in the judicial separation prayed for. in the income from these properties, if any, shall be remitted to them
annually by the petitioner within the first half of January of each year, starting
3. Whether or not the "Joint Affidavit" x x x executed by petitioner Leticia T. January 2008;
Noveras and respondent David A. Noveras will amount to a waiver or
forfeiture of the latters property rights over their conjugal properties. 5. For the support of their two (2) minor children, Jerome and Jena,
respondent David A. Noveras shall give them US$100.00 as monthly
4. Whether or not Leticia T. Noveras isentitled to reimbursement of onehalf allowance in addition to their income from their presumptive legitimes, while
of the P2.2 [M]illion sales proceeds of their property in Sampaloc, Manila petitioner Leticia Tacbiana shall take care of their food, clothing, education
and one-half of the P1.5 [M]illion used to redeem the property of Atty. Isaias and other needs while they are in her custody in the USA. The monthly
Noveras, including interests and charges. allowance due from the respondent shall be increased in the future as the
needs of the children require and his financial capacity can afford;
5. How the absolute community properties should be distributed.
6. Of the unpaid amount of P410,000.00 on the purchase price of the
6. Whether or not the attorneys feesand litigation expenses of the parties Sampaloc property, the Paringit Spouses are hereby ordered to
were chargeable against their conjugal properties. pay P5,000.00 to respondent David A. Noveras and P405,000.00 to the two
children. The share of the respondent may be paid to him directly but the
share of the two children shall be deposited with a local bank in Baler,
Corollary to the aboveis the issue of: Aurora, in a joint account tobe taken out in their names, withdrawal from
which shall only be made by them or by their representative duly authorized
Whether or not the two common children of the parties are entitled to support and with a Special Power of Attorney. Such payment/deposit shall be made
presumptive legitimes.10 withinthe period of thirty (30) days after receipt of a copy of this Decision,
with the passbook of the joint account to be submitted to the custody of the
Clerk of Court of this Court within the same period. Said passbook can be
On 8 December 2006, the RTC rendered judgment as follows:
withdrawn from the Clerk of Court only by the children or their attorney-in- 4. One-half of the properties awarded to petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) in
fact; and paragraph 2 shall pertain to her minor children, Jerome and Jena, as their
presumptive legitimes which shall be annotated on the titles/documents
7. The litigation expenses and attorneys fees incurred by the parties shall be covering the said properties. Their share in the income therefrom, if any,
shouldered by them individually.11 shall be remitted to them by petitioner annually within the first half of
January, starting 2008;
The trial court recognized that since the parties are US citizens, the laws that cover
their legal and personalstatus are those of the USA. With respect to their marriage, xxx
the parties are divorced by virtue of the decree of dissolution of their marriage issued
by the Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo on 24June 2005. Under 6. Respondent David A. Noveras and petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) are
their law, the parties marriage had already been dissolved. Thus, the trial court each ordered to pay the amount ofP520,000.00 to their two children, Jerome
considered the petition filed by Leticia as one for liquidation of the absolute and Jena, as their presumptive legitimes from the sale of the Sampaloc
community of property regime with the determination of the legitimes, support and property inclusive of the receivables therefrom, which shall be deposited to a
custody of the children, instead of an action for judicial separation of conjugal local bank of Baler, Aurora, under a joint account in the latters names. The
property. payment/deposit shall be made within a period of thirty (30) days from
receipt ofa copy of this Decision and the corresponding passbook entrusted
With respect to their property relations, the trial court first classified their property to the custody ofthe Clerk of Court a quowithin the same period,
regime as absolute community of property because they did not execute any withdrawable only by the children or their attorney-in-fact.
marriage settlement before the solemnization of their marriage pursuant to Article 75
of the Family Code. Then, the trial court ruled that in accordance with the doctrine of A number 8 is hereby added, which shall read as follows:
processual presumption, Philippine law should apply because the court cannot take
judicial notice of the US law since the parties did not submit any proof of their national 8. Respondent David A. Noveras is hereby ordered to pay petitioner Leticia
law. The trial court held that as the instant petition does not fall under the provisions Tacbiana (sic) the amount ofP1,040,000.00 representing her share in the
of the law for the grant of judicial separation of properties, the absolute community proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property.
properties cannot beforfeited in favor of Leticia and her children. Moreover, the trial
court observed that Leticia failed to prove abandonment and infidelity with
preponderant evidence. The last paragraph shall read as follows:

The trial court however ruled that Leticia is not entitled to the reimbursements she is Send a copy of this Decision to the local civil registry of Baler, Aurora; the local civil
praying for considering that she already acquired all of the properties in the USA. registry of Quezon City; the Civil RegistrarGeneral, National Statistics Office, Vibal
Relying still on the principle of equity, the Court also adjudicated the Philippine Building, Times Street corner EDSA, Quezon City; the Office of the Registry of Deeds
properties to David, subject to the payment of the childrens presumptive legitimes. for the Province of Aurora; and to the children, Jerome Noveras and Jena Noveras.
The trial court held that under Article 89 of the Family Code, the waiver or
renunciation made by David of his property rights in the Joint Affidavit is void. The rest of the Decision is AFFIRMED.12

On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the trial courts Decision by directing the In the present petition, David insists that the Court of Appeals should have recognized
equal division of the Philippine properties between the spouses. Moreover with the California Judgment which awarded the Philippine properties to him because said
respect to the common childrens presumptive legitime, the appellate court ordered judgment was part of the pleading presented and offered in evidence before the trial
both spouses to each pay their children the amount of P520,000.00, thus: court. David argues that allowing Leticia to share in the Philippine properties is
tantamount to unjust enrichment in favor of Leticia considering that the latter was
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. Numbers 2, 4 and 6 of the already granted all US properties by the California court.
assailedDecision dated December 8, 2006 of Branch 96, RTC of Baler, Aurora
Province, in Civil Case No. 828 are hereby MODIFIED to read as follows: In summary and review, the basic facts are: David and Leticia are US citizens who
own properties in the USA and in the Philippines. Leticia obtained a decree of divorce
2. The net assets of the absolute community of property of the parties in the from the Superior Court of California in June 2005 wherein the court awarded all the
Philippines are hereby divided equally between petitioner Leticia Noveras properties in the USA to Leticia. With respect to their properties in the Philippines,
a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana (sic) and respondent David A. Noveras; Leticiafiled a petition for judicial separation ofconjugal properties.

xxx
At the outset, the trial court erred in recognizing the divorce decree which severed the Even if we apply the doctrine of processual presumption17 as the lower courts did with
bond of marriage between the parties. In Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas,13 we stated that: respect to the property regime of the parties, the recognition of divorce is entirely a
different matter because, to begin with, divorce is not recognized between Filipino
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the citizens in the Philippines. Absent a valid recognition of the divorce decree, it follows
acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and that the parties are still legally married in the Philippines. The trial court thus erred in
laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, "no sovereign is bound to give effect proceeding directly to liquidation.
within its dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country." This
means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must beproven as facts under As a general rule, any modification in the marriage settlements must be made before
our rules on evidence, together with the aliens applicable national law to show the the celebration of marriage. An exception to this rule is allowed provided that the
effect of the judgment on the alien himself or herself. The recognition may be made in modification isjudicially approved and refers only to the instances provided in Articles
an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party 66,67, 128, 135 and 136 of the Family Code.18
invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense. 14
Leticia anchored the filing of the instant petition for judicial separation of property on
The requirements of presenting the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the paragraphs 4 and 6 of Article 135 of the Family Code, to wit:
foreigner must comply with our Rules of Evidence. Specifically, for Philippine courts to
recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage, a copy of the foreign Art. 135. Any of the following shall be considered sufficient cause for judicial
judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections separation of property:
24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court. 15
(1) That the spouse of the petitioner has been sentenced to a penalty which
Under Section 24 of Rule 132, the record of public documents of a sovereign carries with it civil interdiction;
authority or tribunal may be proved by: (1) an official publication thereof or (2) a copy
attested by the officer having the legal custody thereof. Such official publication or
copy must beaccompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines, with a (2) That the spouse of the petitioner has been judicially declared an
certificate that the attesting officer has the legal custody thereof. The certificate may absentee;
be issued by any of the authorized Philippine embassy or consular officials stationed
in the foreign country in which the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his (3) That loss of parental authority ofthe spouse of petitioner has been
office. The attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the decreed by the court;
original, or a specific part thereof, asthe case may be, and must be under the official
seal of the attesting officer. (4) That the spouse of the petitioner has abandoned the latter or failed to
comply with his or her obligations to the family as provided for in Article 101;
Section 25 of the same Rule states that whenever a copy of a document or record is
attested for the purpose of evidence, the attestation must state, in substance, that the (5) That the spouse granted the power of administration in the marriage
copy is a correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may be. settlements has abused that power; and
The attestation must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any,
or if hebe the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court.
(6) That at the time of the petition, the spouses have been separated in fact
for at least one year and reconciliation is highly improbable.
Based on the records, only the divorce decree was presented in evidence. The
required certificates to prove its authenticity, as well as the pertinent California law on
divorce were not presented. In the cases provided for in Numbers (1), (2), and (3), the presentation of the final
judgment against the guiltyor absent spouse shall be enough basis for the grant of the
decree ofjudicial separation of property. (Emphasis supplied).
It may be noted that in Bayot v. Court of Appeals,16 we relaxed the requirement on
certification where we held that "[petitioner therein] was clearly an American
citizenwhen she secured the divorce and that divorce is recognized and allowed in The trial court had categorically ruled that there was no abandonment in this case to
any of the States of the Union, the presentation of a copy of foreign divorce decree necessitate judicial separation of properties under paragraph 4 of Article 135 of the
duly authenticatedby the foreign court issuing said decree is, as here, sufficient." In Family Code. The trial court ratiocinated:
this case however, it appears that there is no seal from the office where the divorce
decree was obtained. Moreover, abandonment, under Article 101 of the Family Code quoted above, must
be for a valid cause and the spouse is deemed to have abandoned the other when
he/she has left the conjugal dwelling without intention of returning. The intention of
not returning is prima facie presumed if the allegedly [sic] abandoning spouse failed Under Article 102 of the same Code, liquidation follows the dissolution of the absolute
to give any information as to his or her whereabouts within the period of three months community regime and the following procedure should apply:
from such abandonment.
Art. 102. Upon dissolution of the absolute community regime, the following procedure
In the instant case, the petitioner knows that the respondent has returned to and shall apply:
stayed at his hometown in Maria Aurora, Philippines, as she even went several times
to visit him there after the alleged abandonment. Also, the respondent has been going (1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing separately all the properties of the
back to the USA to visit her and their children until the relations between them absolute community and the exclusive properties of each spouse.
worsened. The last visit of said respondent was in October 2004 when he and the
petitioner discussed the filing by the latter of a petition for dissolution of marriage with
the California court. Such turn for the worse of their relationship and the filing of the (2) The debts and obligations of the absolute community shall be paid out of
saidpetition can also be considered as valid causes for the respondent to stay in the its assets. In case of insufficiency of said assets, the spouses shall be
Philippines.19 solidarily liable for the unpaid balance with their separate properties in
accordance with the provisions of the second paragraph of Article 94.
Separation in fact for one year as a ground to grant a judicial separation of property
was not tackled in the trial courts decision because, the trial court erroneously treated (3) Whatever remains of the exclusive properties of the spouses shall
the petition as liquidation of the absolute community of properties. thereafter be delivered to each of them.

The records of this case are replete with evidence that Leticia and David had indeed (4) The net remainder of the properties of the absolute community shall
separated for more than a year and that reconciliation is highly improbable. First, constitute its net assets, which shall be divided equally between husband
while actual abandonment had not been proven, it is undisputed that the spouses had and wife, unless a different proportion or division was agreed upon in the
been living separately since 2003 when David decided to go back to the Philippines to marriage settlements, or unless there has been a voluntary waiver of such
set up his own business. Second, Leticia heard from her friends that David has been share provided in this Code. For purposes of computing the net profits
cohabiting with Estrellita Martinez, who represented herself as Estrellita Noveras. subject to forfeiture in accordance with Articles 43, No. (2) and 63, No.
Editha Apolonio, who worked in the hospital where David was once confined, testified (2),the said profits shall be the increase in value between the market value
that she saw the name of Estrellita listed as the wife of David in the Consent for of the community property at the time of the celebration of the marriage and
Operation form.20 Third and more significantly, they had filed for divorce and it was the market value at the time of its dissolution.
granted by the California court in June 2005.
(5) The presumptive legitimes of the common children shall be delivered
Having established that Leticia and David had actually separated for at least one upon partition, in accordance with Article 51.
year, the petition for judicial separation of absolute community of property should be
granted. (6) Unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, in the partition of the
properties, the conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is situated shall be
The grant of the judicial separation of the absolute community property automatically adjudicated tothe spouse with whom the majority of the common children
dissolves the absolute community regime, as stated in the 4th paragraph of Article 99 choose to remain. Children below the age of seven years are deemed to
ofthe Family Code, thus: have chosen the mother, unless the court has decided otherwise. In case
there is no such majority, the court shall decide, taking into consideration the
best interests of said children. At the risk of being repetitious, we will not
Art. 99. The absolute community terminates: remand the case to the trial court. Instead, we shall adopt the modifications
made by the Court of Appeals on the trial courts Decision with respect to
(1) Upon the death of either spouse; liquidation.

(2) When there is a decree of legal separation; We agree with the appellate court that the Philippine courts did not acquire jurisdiction
over the California properties of David and Leticia. Indeed, Article 16 of the Civil Code
(3) When the marriage is annulled or declared void; or clearly states that real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of
the country where it is situated. Thus, liquidation shall only be limited to the Philippine
properties.
(4) In case of judicial separation of property during the marriage under
Articles 134 to 138. (Emphasis supplied).
We affirm the modification madeby the Court of Appeals with respect to the share of
the spouses in the absolutecommunity properties in the Philippines, as well as the
payment of their childrens presumptive legitimes, which the appellate court explained
in this wise:

Leticia and David shall likewise have an equal share in the proceeds of the Sampaloc
property.1wphi1 While both claimed to have contributed to the redemption of the
Noveras property, absent a clear showing where their contributions came from, the
same is presumed to have come from the community property. Thus, Leticia is not
entitled to reimbursement of half of the redemption money.

David's allegation that he used part of the proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc
property for the benefit of the absolute community cannot be given full credence. Only
the amount of P120,000.00 incurred in going to and from the U.S.A. may be charged
thereto. Election expenses in the amount of P300,000.00 when he ran as municipal
councilor cannot be allowed in the absence of receipts or at least the Statement of
Contributions and Expenditures required under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7166
duly received by the Commission on Elections. Likewise, expenses incurred to settle
the criminal case of his personal driver is not deductible as the same had not
benefited the family. In sum, Leticia and David shall share equally in the proceeds of
the sale net of the amount of P120,000.00 or in the respective amounts
of P1,040,000.00.

xxxx

Under the first paragraph of Article 888 of the Civil Code, "(t)he legitime of legitimate
children and descendants consists of one-half or the hereditary estate of the father
and of the mother." The children arc therefore entitled to half of the share of each
spouse in the net assets of the absolute community, which shall be annotated on the
titles/documents covering the same, as well as to their respective shares in the net
proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property including the receivables from Sps.
Paringit in the amount of P410,000.00. Consequently, David and Leticia should each
pay them the amount of P520,000.00 as their presumptive legitimes therefrom.21

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals
in CA G.R. CV No. 88686 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice
Republic of the Philippines "AGREEMENT FOR SEPARATION AND PROPERTY SETTLEMENT" dated
SUPREME COURT November 12, 1975, whereby they agreed to live separately and to dissolve and
Manila liquidate their conjugal partnership of property.

FIRST DIVISION On January 12, 1976, ATTY. LUNA obtained a divorce decree of his marriage with
EUGENIA from the Civil and Commercial Chamber of the First Circumscription of the
G.R. No. 171914 July 23, 2014 Court of First Instance of Sto. Domingo, Dominican Republic. Also in Sto.Domingo,
Dominican Republic, on the same date, ATTY. LUNA contracted another marriage,
this time with SOLEDAD. Thereafter, ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD returned to the
SOLEDAD L. LAVADIA, Petitioner, Philippines and lived together as husband and wife until 1987.
vs.
HEIRS OF JUAN LUCES LUNA, represented by GREGORIO Z. LUNA and
EUGENIA ZABALLERO-LUNA,Respondents. Sometime in 1977, ATTY. LUNA organized a new law firm named: Luna, Puruganan,
Sison and Ongkiko (LUPSICON) where ATTY. LUNA was the managing partner.
DECISION
On February 14, 1978, LUPSICON through ATTY. LUNA purchased from Tandang
Sora Development Corporation the 6th Floor of Kalaw-Ledesma Condominium
BERSAMIN, J.: Project(condominium unit) at Gamboa St., Makati City, consisting of 517.52 square
meters, for P1,449,056.00, to be paid on installment basis for 36months starting on
Divorce between Filipinos is void and ineffectual under the nationality rule adopted by April 15, 1978. Said condominium unit was to be usedas law office of LUPSICON.
Philippine law. Hence, any settlement of property between the parties of the first After full payment, the Deed of Absolute Sale over the condominium unit was
marriage involving Filipinos submitted as an incident of a divorce obtained in a foreign executed on July 15, 1983, and CCT No. 4779 was issued on August 10, 1983, which
country lacks competent judicial approval, and cannot be enforceable against the was registered bearing the following names:
assets of the husband who contracts a subsequent marriage.
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (46/100); MARIO E. ONGKIKO,
The Case married to Sonia P.G. Ongkiko (25/100); GREGORIO R. PURUGANAN, married to
Paz A. Puruganan (17/100); and TERESITA CRUZ SISON, married to Antonio J.M.
The petitioner, the second wife of the late Atty. Juan Luces Luna, appeals the Sison (12/100) x x x" Subsequently, 8/100 share of ATTY. LUNA and 17/100 share of
adverse decision promulgated on November 11, 2005, 1 whereby the Court of Appeals Atty. Gregorio R. Puruganan in the condominium unit was sold to Atty. Mario E.
(CA) affirmed with modification the decision rendered on August 27, 2001 by the Ongkiko, for which a new CCT No. 21761 was issued on February 7, 1992 in the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 138, in Makati City.2 The CA thereby denied her following names:
right in the 25/100 pro indiviso share of the husband in a condominium unit, and in the
law books of the husband acquired during the second marriage. "JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna (38/100); MARIO E. ONGKIKO,
married to Sonia P.G. Ongkiko (50/100); TERESITA CRUZ SISON, married to
Antecedents Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x x x"

The antecedent facts were summarized by the CA as follows: Sometime in 1992, LUPSICON was dissolved and the condominium unit was
partitioned by the partners but the same was still registered in common under CCT
No. 21716. The parties stipulated that the interest of ATTY. LUNA over the
ATTY. LUNA, a practicing lawyer, was at first a name partner in the prestigious law condominium unit would be 25/100 share. ATTY. LUNA thereafter established and
firm Sycip, Salazar, Luna, Manalo, Hernandez & Feliciano Law Offices at that time headed another law firm with Atty. Renato G. Dela Cruzand used a portion of the
when he was living with his first wife, herein intervenor-appellant Eugenia Zaballero- office condominium unit as their office. The said law firm lasted until the death of
Luna (EUGENIA), whom he initially married ina civil ceremony conducted by the ATTY. JUAN on July 12, 1997.
Justice of the Peace of Paraaque, Rizal on September 10, 1947 and later
solemnized in a church ceremony at the Pro-Cathedral in San Miguel, Bulacan on
September 12, 1948. In ATTY. LUNAs marriage to EUGENIA, they begot seven (7) After the death of ATTY. JUAN, his share in the condominium unit including the
children, namely: Regina Maria L. Nadal, Juan Luis Luna, Araceli Victoria L. Arellano, lawbooks, office furniture and equipment found therein were taken over by Gregorio
Ana Maria L. Tabunda, Gregorio Macario Luna, Carolina Linda L. Tapia, and Cesar Z. Luna, ATTY. LUNAs son of the first marriage. Gregorio Z. Luna thenleased out the
Antonio Luna. After almost two (2) decades of marriage, ATTY. LUNA and EUGENIA 25/100 portion of the condominium unit belonging to his father to Atty. Renato G. De
eventually agreed to live apart from each other in February 1966 and agreed to la Cruz who established his own law firm named Renato G. De la Cruz & Associates.
separation of property, to which end, they entered into a written agreement entitled
The 25/100 pro-indiviso share of ATTY. Luna in the condominium unit as well as the Both parties appealed to the CA.6
law books, office furniture and equipment became the subject of the complaint filed by
SOLEDAD against the heirs of ATTY. JUAN with the RTC of Makati City, Branch 138, On her part, the petitioner assigned the following errors to the RTC, namely:
on September 10, 1999, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-1644. The complaint alleged
that the subject properties were acquired during the existence of the marriage
between ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD through their joint efforts that since they had no I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE CONDOMINIUM
children, SOLEDAD became co-owner of the said properties upon the death of ATTY. UNIT WAS ACQUIRED THRU THE SOLE INDUSTRY OF ATTY. JUAN
LUNA to the extent of pro-indiviso share consisting of her share in the said LUCES LUNA;
properties plus her share in the net estate of ATTY. LUNA which was bequeathed
to her in the latters last will and testament; and thatthe heirs of ATTY. LUNA through II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT PLAINTIFFAPPELLANT
Gregorio Z. Luna excluded SOLEDAD from her share in the subject properties. The DID NOT CONTRIBUTE MONEY FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE
complaint prayed that SOLEDAD be declared the owner of the portion of the CONDOMINIUM UNIT;
subject properties;that the same be partitioned; that an accounting of the rentals on
the condominium unit pertaining to the share of SOLEDAD be conducted; that a III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO PORTIONS
receiver be appointed to preserve ad administer the subject properties;and that the OF THE TESTIMONY OF GREGORIO LUNA, WHO HAS NO ACTUAL
heirs of ATTY. LUNA be ordered to pay attorneys feesand costs of the suit to KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACQUISITION OF THE UNIT, BUT IGNORED
SOLEDAD.3 OTHER PORTIONS OF HIS TESTIMONY FAVORABLE TO THE
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT;
Ruling of the RTC
IV. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING SIGNIFICANCE TO THE
On August 27, 2001, the RTC rendered its decision after trial upon the FACT THAT THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN LUNA AND
aforementioned facts,4 disposing thusly: INTERVENOR-APPELLANT WAS ALREADY DISSOLVED AND
LIQUIDATED PRIOR TO THE UNION OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows: LUNA;

(a) The 24/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium unit located at the V. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO
SIXTH FLOOR of the KALAW LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM PROJECT THE ABSENCE OF THE DISPOSITION OF THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT IN
covered by Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting of FIVE THE HOLOGRAPHIC WILL OF THE PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT;
HUNDRED SEVENTEEN (517/100) SQUARE METERS is adjudged to have
been acquired by Juan Lucas Luna through his sole industry; VI. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO
THE FACTTHAT THE NAME OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT DID NOT
(b) Plaintiff has no right as owner or under any other concept over the APPEAR IN THE DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE EXECUTED BY TANDANG
condominium unit, hence the entry in Condominium Certificate of Title No. SORA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION OVER THE CONDOMINIUM
21761 of the Registry of Deeds of Makati with respect to the civil status of UNIT;
Juan Luces Luna should be changed from "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to
Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN LUCES LUNA married to Eugenia Zaballero VII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT NEITHER ARTICLE
Luna"; 148 OF THE FAMILYCODE NOR ARTICLE 144 OF THE CIVIL CODE OF
THE PHILIPPINES ARE APPLICABLE;
(c) Plaintiff is declared to be the owner of the books Corpus Juris, Fletcher
on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court VIII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT THE CAUSE OF
Reports found in the condominium unit and defendants are ordered to ACTION OF THE INTERVENOR-APPELLANT HAS BEEN BARRED BY
deliver them to the plaintiff as soon as appropriate arrangements have been PESCRIPTION AND LACHES; and
madefor transport and storage.
IX. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT EXPUNGING/DISMISSING THE
No pronouncement as to costs. INTERVENTION FOR FAILURE OF INTERVENOR-APPELLANT TO PAY
FILING FEE.7
SO ORDERED.5
In contrast, the respondents attributedthe following errors to the trial court, to wit:
Decision of the CA
I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT CERTAIN FOREIGN No pronouncement as to costs.
LAW BOOKS IN THE LAW OFFICE OF ATTY. LUNA WERE BOUGHT
WITH THE USE OF PLAINTIFFS MONEY; SO ORDERED.11

II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PLAINTIFF PROVED On March 13, 2006,12 the CA denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration. 13
BY PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE (HER CLAIM OVER) THE
SPECIFIED FOREIGN LAW BOOKS FOUND IN ATTY. LUNAS LAW
OFFICE; and Issues

III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT, ASSUMING In this appeal, the petitioner avers in her petition for review on certiorarithat:
PLAINTIFF PAID FOR THE SAID FOREIGN LAW BOOKS, THE RIGHT TO
RECOVER THEM HAD PRESCRIBED AND BARRED BY LACHES AND A. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the Agreement for
ESTOPPEL.8 Separation and Property Settlement executed by Luna and Respondent
Eugenia was unenforceable; hence, their conjugal partnership was not
On November 11, 2005, the CA promulgated its assailed modified decision,9 holding dissolved and liquidated;
and ruling:
B. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not recognizing the Dominican
EUGENIA, the first wife, was the legitimate wife of ATTY. LUNA until the latters death Republic courts approval of the Agreement;
on July 12, 1997. The absolute divorce decree obtained by ATTY. LUNA inthe
Dominican Republic did not terminate his prior marriage with EUGENIA because C. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Petitioner failed to
foreign divorce between Filipino citizens is not recognized in our jurisdiction. x x x10 adduce sufficient proof of actual contribution to the acquisition of purchase of
the subjectcondominium unit; and
xxxx
D. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling that Petitioner was not
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed August 27, 2001 Decision of the entitled to the subject law books.14
RTC of MakatiCity, Branch 138, is hereby MODIFIEDas follows:
The decisive question to be resolved is who among the contending parties should be
(a) The 25/100 pro-indiviso share in the condominium unit at the SIXTH entitled to the 25/100 pro indivisoshare in the condominium unit; and to the law books
FLOOR of the KALAW LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by (i.e., Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and Federal
Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting of FIVE HUNDRED Supreme Court Reports).
SEVENTEEN (517/100) (sic) SQUARE METERS is hereby adjudged to
defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero- The resolution of the decisive question requires the Court to ascertain the law that
Luna (first marriage), having been acquired from the sole funds and sole should determine, firstly, whether the divorce between Atty. Luna and Eugenia
industry of Juan Luces Luna while marriage of Juan Luces Luna and Zaballero-Luna (Eugenia) had validly dissolved the first marriage; and, secondly,
Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (first marriage) was still subsisting and valid; whether the second marriage entered into by the late Atty. Luna and the petitioner
entitled the latter to any rights in property. Ruling of the Court
(b) Plaintiff-appellant Soledad Lavadia has no right as owner or under any
other concept over the condominium unit, hence the entry in Condominium We affirm the modified decision of the CA.
Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the Registry of Deeds ofMakati with respect
to the civil status of Juan Luces Luna should be changed from "JUAN 1. Atty. Lunas first marriage with Eugenia
LUCES LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN LUCES LUNA married subsisted up to the time of his death
to Eugenia Zaballero Luna";

The first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, both Filipinos, was solemnized in
(c) Defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan Luces Luna and Eugenia the Philippines on September 10, 1947. The law in force at the time of the
Zaballero-Luna(first marriage) are hereby declared to be the owner of the solemnization was the Spanish Civil Code, which adopted the nationality rule. The
books Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation, American Jurisprudence and Civil Codecontinued to follow the nationality rule, to the effect that Philippine laws
Federal Supreme Court Reports found in the condominium unit. relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of
persons were binding upon citizens of the Philippines, although living
abroad.15 Pursuant to the nationality rule, Philippine laws governed thiscase by virtue Article 119. The future spouses may in the marriage settlements agree upon absolute
of bothAtty. Luna and Eugenio having remained Filipinos until the death of Atty. Luna or relative community of property, or upon complete separation of property, or upon
on July 12, 1997 terminated their marriage. any other regime. In the absence of marriage settlements, or when the same are void,
the system of relative community or conjugal partnership of gains as established in
From the time of the celebration ofthe first marriage on September 10, 1947 until the this Code, shall govern the property relations between husband and wife.
present, absolute divorce between Filipino spouses has not been recognized in the
Philippines. The non-recognition of absolute divorce between Filipinos has remained Article 142 of the Civil Codehas defined a conjugal partnership of gains thusly:
even under the Family Code,16 even if either or both of the spouses are residing
abroad.17 Indeed, the only two types of defective marital unions under our laws have Article 142. By means of the conjugal partnership of gains the husband and wife
beenthe void and the voidable marriages. As such, the remedies against such place in a common fund the fruits of their separate property and the income from their
defective marriages have been limited to the declaration of nullity ofthe marriage and work or industry, and divide equally, upon the dissolution of the marriage or of the
the annulment of the marriage. partnership, the net gains or benefits obtained indiscriminately by either spouse
during the marriage.
It is true that on January 12, 1976, the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Sto. Domingo
in the Dominican Republic issued the Divorce Decree dissolving the first marriage of The conjugal partnership of gains subsists until terminated for any of various causes
Atty. Luna and Eugenia.18 Conformably with the nationality rule, however, the divorce, of termination enumerated in Article 175 of the Civil Code, viz:
even if voluntarily obtained abroad, did not dissolve the marriage between Atty. Luna
and Eugenia, which subsisted up to the time of his death on July 12, 1997. This
finding conforms to the Constitution, which characterizes marriage as an inviolable Article 175. The conjugal partnership of gains terminates:
social institution,19 and regards it as a special contract of permanent union between a
man and a woman for the establishment of a conjugal and family life. 20 The non- (1) Upon the death of either spouse;
recognition of absolute divorce in the Philippines is a manifestation of the respect for
the sanctity of the marital union especially among Filipino citizens. It affirms that the (2) When there is a decree of legal separation;
extinguishment of a valid marriage must be grounded only upon the death of either
spouse, or upon a ground expressly provided bylaw. For as long as this public policy
on marriage between Filipinos exists, no divorce decree dissolving the marriage (3) When the marriage is annulled;
between them can ever be given legal or judicial recognition and enforcement in this
jurisdiction. (4) In case of judicial separation of property under Article 191.

2. The Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement The mere execution of the Agreement by Atty. Luna and Eugenia did not per
was void for lack of court approval sedissolve and liquidate their conjugal partnership of gains. The approval of the
Agreement by a competent court was still required under Article 190 and Article 191
The petitioner insists that the Agreement for Separation and Property Settlement of the Civil Code, as follows:
(Agreement) that the late Atty. Luna and Eugenia had entered into and executed in
connection with the divorce proceedings before the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Article 190. In the absence of an express declaration in the marriage settlements, the
Dominican Republic to dissolve and liquidate their conjugal partnership was separation of property between spouses during the marriage shall not take place save
enforceable against Eugenia. Hence, the CA committed reversible error in decreeing in virtue of a judicial order. (1432a)
otherwise.
Article 191. The husband or the wife may ask for the separation of property, and it
The insistence of the petitioner was unwarranted. shall be decreed when the spouse of the petitioner has been sentenced to a penalty
which carries with it civil interdiction, or has been declared absent, or when legal
Considering that Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not entered into any marriage separation has been granted.
settlement prior to their marriage on September 10, 1947, the system of relative
community or conjugal partnership of gains governed their property relations. This is xxxx
because the Spanish Civil Code, the law then in force at the time of their marriage,
did not specify the property regime of the spouses in the event that they had not
The husband and the wife may agree upon the dissolution of the conjugal partnership
entered into any marriage settlement before or at the time of the marriage. Article 119
during the marriage, subject to judicial approval. All the creditors of the husband and
of the Civil Codeclearly so provides, to wit:
of the wife, as well as of the conjugal partnership shall be notified of any petition for
judicialapproval or the voluntary dissolution of the conjugal partnership, so that any
such creditors may appear atthe hearing to safeguard his interests. Upon approval of Due to the second marriage between Atty. Luna and the petitioner being void ab
the petition for dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the court shall take such initioby virtue of its being bigamous, the properties acquired during the bigamous
measures as may protect the creditors and other third persons. marriage were governed by the rules on co-ownership, conformably with Article 144
of the Civil Code, viz:
After dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the provisions of articles 214 and 215
shall apply. The provisions of this Code concerning the effect of partition stated in Article 144. When a man and a woman live together as husband and wife, but they
articles 498 to 501 shall be applicable. (1433a) are not married, ortheir marriage is void from the beginning, the property acquired by
eitheror both of them through their work or industry or their wages and salaries shall
But was not the approval of the Agreement by the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the be governed by the rules on co-ownership.(n)
Dominican Republic sufficient in dissolving and liquidating the conjugal partnership of
gains between the late Atty. Luna and Eugenia? In such a situation, whoever alleges co-ownership carried the burden of proof to
confirm such fact.1wphi1 To establish co-ownership, therefore, it became imperative
The query is answered in the negative. There is no question that the approval took for the petitioner to offer proof of her actual contributions in the acquisition of property.
place only as an incident ofthe action for divorce instituted by Atty. Luna and Eugenia, Her mere allegation of co-ownership, without sufficient and competent evidence,
for, indeed, the justifications for their execution of the Agreement were identical to the would warrant no relief in her favor. As the Court explained in Saguid v. Court of
grounds raised in the action for divorce.21 With the divorce not being itself valid and Appeals:25
enforceable under Philippine law for being contrary to Philippine public policy and
public law, the approval of the Agreement was not also legally valid and enforceable In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, which involved the issue
under Philippine law. Consequently, the conjugal partnership of gains of Atty. Luna of co-ownership ofproperties acquired by the parties to a bigamous marriage and an
and Eugenia subsisted in the lifetime of their marriage. adulterous relationship, respectively, we ruled that proof of actual contribution in the
acquisition of the property is essential. The claim of co-ownership of the petitioners
3. Atty. Lunas marriage with Soledad, being bigamous, therein who were parties to the bigamous and adulterousunion is without basis
was void; properties acquired during their marriage because they failed to substantiate their allegation that they contributed money in the
were governed by the rules on co-ownership purchase of the disputed properties. Also in Adriano v. Court of Appeals, we ruled
that the fact that the controverted property was titled in the name of the parties to an
adulterous relationship is not sufficient proof of coownership absent evidence of
What law governed the property relations of the second marriage between Atty. Luna actual contribution in the acquisition of the property.
and Soledad?
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as determined
The CA expressly declared that Atty. Lunas subsequent marriage to Soledad on by the pleadings or the nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue. Contentions
January 12, 1976 was void for being bigamous,22 on the ground that the marriage must be proved by competent evidence and reliance must be had on the strength of
between Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not been dissolved by the Divorce Decree the partys own evidence and not upon the weakness of the opponents defense. This
rendered by the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic but had subsisted applies with more vigor where, as in the instant case, the plaintiff was allowed to
until the death of Atty. Luna on July 12, 1997. present evidence ex parte.1wphi1 The plaintiff is not automatically entitled to the
relief prayed for. The law gives the defendantsome measure of protection as the
The Court concurs with the CA. plaintiff must still prove the allegations in the complaint. Favorable relief can be
granted only after the court isconvinced that the facts proven by the plaintiff warrant
In the Philippines, marriages that are bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous are void. such relief. Indeed, the party alleging a fact has the burden of proving it and a
Article 71 of the Civil Codeclearly states: mereallegation is not evidence.26

Article 71. All marriages performed outside the Philippines in accordance with the The petitioner asserts herein that she sufficiently proved her actual contributions in
laws in force in the country where they were performed, and valid there as such, shall the purchase of the condominium unit in the aggregate amount of at
also be valid in this country, except bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous marriages least P306,572.00, consisting in direct contributions ofP159,072.00, and in repaying
as determined by Philippine law. the loans Atty. Luna had obtained from Premex Financing and Banco Filipino
totaling P146,825.30;27 and that such aggregate contributions of P306,572.00
corresponded to almost the entire share of Atty. Luna in the purchase of the
Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by contracting a second or subsequent condominium unit amounting to P362,264.00 of the units purchase price
marriage before the first marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent of P1,449,056.00.28 The petitioner further asserts that the lawbooks were paid for
spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in solely out of her personal funds, proof of which Atty. Luna had even sent her a "thank
the proper proceedings.23 A bigamous marriage is considered void ab initio.24 you" note;29 that she had the financial capacity to make the contributions and
purchases; and that Atty. Luna could not acquire the properties on his own due to the for payment of the loan of Atty. Luna. The fourth check, Exhibit "M", forP4,072.00 was
meagerness of the income derived from his law practice. dated December 17, 1980. None of the foregoing prove that the amounts delivered by
plaintiff to the payees were for the acquisition of the subject condominium unit. The
Did the petitioner discharge her burden of proof on the co-ownership? connection was simply not established. x x x"

In resolving the question, the CA entirely debunked the petitioners assertions on her SOLEDADs claim that she made a cash contribution of P100,000.00 is
actual contributions through the following findings and conclusions, namely: unsubstantiated. Clearly, there is no basis for SOLEDADs claim of co-ownership over
the 25/100 portion of the condominium unit and the trial court correctly found that the
same was acquired through the sole industry of ATTY. LUNA, thus:
SOLEDAD was not able to prove by preponderance of evidence that her own
independent funds were used to buy the law office condominium and the law books
subject matter in contentionin this case proof that was required for Article 144 of the "The Deed of Absolute Sale, Exhibit "9", covering the condominium unit was in the
New Civil Code and Article 148 of the Family Code to apply as to cases where name of Atty. Luna, together with his partners in the law firm. The name of the plaintiff
properties were acquired by a man and a woman living together as husband and wife does not appear as vendee or as the spouse of Atty. Luna. The same was acquired
but not married, or under a marriage which was void ab initio. Under Article 144 of the for the use of the Law firm of Atty. Luna. The loans from Allied Banking Corporation
New Civil Code, the rules on co-ownership would govern. But this was not readily and Far East Bank and Trust Company were loans of Atty. Luna and his partners and
applicable to many situations and thus it created a void at first because it applied only plaintiff does not have evidence to show that she paid for them fully or partially. x x x"
if the parties were not in any way incapacitated or were without impediment to marry
each other (for it would be absurd to create a co-ownership where there still exists a The fact that CCT No. 4779 and subsequently, CCT No. 21761 were in the name of
prior conjugal partnership or absolute community between the man and his lawful "JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna" was no proof that SOLEDAD was
wife). This void was filled upon adoption of the Family Code. Article 148 provided that: a co-owner of the condominium unit. Acquisition of title and registration thereof are
only the property acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution two different acts. It is well settled that registration does not confer title but merely
of money, property or industry shall be owned in common and in proportion to their confirms one already existing. The phrase "married to" preceding "Soledad L. Luna" is
respective contributions. Such contributions and corresponding shares were prima merely descriptive of the civil status of ATTY. LUNA.
faciepresumed to be equal. However, for this presumption to arise, proof of actual
contribution was required. The same rule and presumption was to apply to joint SOLEDAD, the second wife, was not even a lawyer. So it is but logical that
deposits of money and evidence of credit. If one of the parties was validly married to SOLEDAD had no participation in the law firm or in the purchase of books for the law
another, his or her share in the co-ownership accrued to the absolute community or firm. SOLEDAD failed to prove that she had anything to contribute and that she
conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith actually purchased or paid for the law office amortization and for the law books. It is
was not validly married to another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the manner more logical to presume that it was ATTY. LUNA who bought the law office space and
provided in the last paragraph of the Article 147. The rules on forfeiture applied even the law books from his earnings from his practice of law rather than embarrassingly
if both parties were in bad faith. Co-ownership was the exception while conjugal beg or ask from SOLEDAD money for use of the law firm that he headed. 30
partnership of gains was the strict rule whereby marriage was an inviolable social
institution and divorce decrees are not recognized in the Philippines, as was held by
the Supreme Court in the case of Tenchavez vs. Escao, G.R. No. L-19671, The Court upholds the foregoing findings and conclusions by the CA both because
November 29, 1965, 15 SCRA 355, thus: they were substantiated by the records and because we have not been shown any
reason to revisit and undo them. Indeed, the petitioner, as the party claiming the co-
ownership, did not discharge her burden of proof. Her mere allegations on her
xxxx contributions, not being evidence,31 did not serve the purpose. In contrast, given the
subsistence of the first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia, the presumption
As to the 25/100pro-indivisoshare of ATTY. LUNA in the condominium unit, that Atty. Luna acquired the properties out of his own personal funds and effort
SOLEDAD failed to prove that she made an actual contribution to purchase the said remained. It should then be justly concluded that the properties in litislegally pertained
property. She failed to establish that the four (4) checks that she presented were to their conjugal partnership of gains as of the time of his death. Consequently, the
indeed used for the acquisition of the share of ATTY. LUNA in the condominium unit. sole ownership of the 25/100 pro indivisoshare of Atty. Luna in the condominium unit,
This was aptly explained in the Decision of the trial court, viz.: and of the lawbooks pertained to the respondents as the lawful heirs of Atty. Luna.

"x x x The first check, Exhibit "M" for P55,000.00 payable to Atty. Teresita Cruz Sison WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on November 11,
was issued on January 27, 1977, which was thirteen (13) months before the 2005; and ORDERS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.
Memorandum of Agreement, Exhibit "7" was signed. Another check issued on April
29, 1978 in the amount of P97,588.89, Exhibit "P" was payable to Banco Filipino. SO ORDERED. LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
According to the plaintiff, this was in payment of the loan of Atty. Luna. The third Associate Justice
check which was for P49,236.00 payable to PREMEX was dated May 19, 1979, also
Republic of the Philippines appeared was definitely not respondent.7 Lastly, a document examiner testified that
SUPREME COURT the signature appearing in the marriage contract was forged.8
Manila
On May 5, 2009, the RTC rendered the assailed Decision, the dispositive portion of
THIRD DIVISION which reads:

G.R. No. 189538 February 10, 2014 WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, the petition is granted in favor of the
petitioner, Merlinda L. Olaybar. The Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City is directed to
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, cancel all the entries in the WIFE portion of the alleged marriage contract of the
vs. petitioner and respondent Ye Son Sune.
MERLINDA L. OLAYBAR, Respondent.
SO ORDERED.9
DECISION
Finding that the signature appearing in the subject marriage contract was not that of
PERALTA, J.: respondent, the court found basis in granting the latters prayer to straighten her
record and rectify the terrible mistake.10
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
are the Regional Trial Court1(RTC) Decision2 dated May 5, 2009 and Order3 dated Petitioner, however, moved for the reconsideration of the assailed Decision on the
August 25, 2009 in SP. Proc. No. 16519-CEB. The assailed decision granted grounds that: (1) there was no clerical spelling, typographical and other innocuous
respondent Merlinda L. Olaybar's petition for cancellation of entries in the latter's errors in the marriage contract for it to fall within the provisions of Rule 108 of the
marriage contract; while the assailed order denied the motion for reconsideration filed Rules of Court; and (2) granting the cancellation of all the entries in the wife portion of
by petitioner Republic of the Philippines through the Office of the Solicitor General the alleged marriage contract is, in effect, declaring the marriage void ab initio.11
(OSG).
In an Order dated August 25, 2009, the RTC denied petitioners motion for
The facts of the case are as follows: reconsideration couched in this wise:

Respondent requested from the National Statistics Office (NSO) a Certificate of No WHEREFORE, the court hereby denies the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the
Marriage (CENOMAR) as one of the requirements for her marriage with her boyfriend Republic of the Philippines. Furnish copies of this order to the Office of the Solicitor
of five years. Upon receipt thereof, she discovered that she was already married to a General, the petitioners counsel, and all concerned government agencies.
certain Ye Son Sune, a Korean National, on June 24, 2002, at the Office of the
Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Palace of Justice. She denied having SO ORDERED.12
contracted said marriage and claimed that she did not know the alleged husband; she
did not appear before the solemnizing officer; and, that the signature appearing in the Contrary to petitioners stand, the RTC held that it had jurisdiction to take cognizance
marriage certificate is not hers.4 She, thus, filed a Petition for Cancellation of Entries of cases for correction of entries even on substantial errors under Rule 108 of the
in the Marriage Contract, especially the entries in the wife portion Rules of Court being the appropriate adversary proceeding required. Considering that
thereof.5 Respondent impleaded the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City, as well as her respondents identity was used by an unknown person to contract marriage with a
alleged husband, as parties to the case. Korean national, it would not be feasible for respondent to institute an action for
declaration of nullity of marriage since it is not one of the void marriages under
During trial, respondent testified on her behalf and explained that she could not have Articles 35 and 36 of the Family Code.13
appeared before Judge Mamerto Califlores, the supposed solemnizing officer, at the
time the marriage was allegedly celebrated, because she was then in Makati working Petitioner now comes before the Court in this Petition for Review on Certiorari under
as a medical distributor in Hansao Pharma. She completely denied having known the Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal of the assailed RTC Decision and
supposed husband, but she revealed that she recognized the named witnesses to the Order based on the following grounds:
marriage as she had met them while she was working as a receptionist in Tadels
Pension House. She believed that her name was used by a certain Johnny Singh,
who owned a travel agency, whom she gave her personal circumstances in order for I.
her to obtain a passport.6 Respondent also presented as witness a certain Eufrocina
Natinga, an employee of MTCC, Branch 1, who confirmed that the marriage of Ye
Son Sune was indeed celebrated in their office, but claimed that the alleged wife who
RULE 108 OF THE REVISED RULES OF COURT APPLIES ONLY WHEN THERE interest which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the
ARE ERRORS IN THE ENTRIES SOUGHT TO BE CANCELLED OR CORRECTED. proceeding.

II. SEC. 4. Notice and Publication. Upon the filing of the petition, the court
shall, by an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and
GRANTING THE CANCELLATION OF "ALL THE ENTRIES IN THE WIFE PORTION cause reasonable notice thereof to be given to the persons named in the
OF THE ALLEGED MARRIAGE CONTRACT," IS IN EFFECT DECLARING THE petition. The court shall also cause the order to be published once a week
MARRIAGE VOID AB INITIO.14 for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the
province.
Petitioner claims that there are no errors in the entries sought to be cancelled or
corrected, because the entries made in the certificate of marriage are the ones SEC. 5. Opposition. The civil registrar and any person having or claiming
provided by the person who appeared and represented herself as Merlinda L. Olaybar any interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may,
and are, in fact, the latters personal circumstances.15 In directing the cancellation of within fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of
the entries in the wife portion of the certificate of marriage, the RTC, in effect, publication of such notice, file his opposition thereto.
declared the marriage null and void ab initio.16 Thus, the petition instituted by
respondent is actually a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage in the guise of a SEC. 6. Expediting proceedings. The court in which the proceedings is
Rule 108 proceeding.17 brought may make orders expediting the proceedings, and may also grant
preliminary injunction for the preservation of the rights of the parties pending
We deny the petition. such proceedings.

At the outset, it is necessary to stress that a direct recourse to this Court from the SEC. 7. Order. After hearing, the court may either dismiss the petition or
decisions and final orders of the RTC may be taken where only questions of law are issue an order granting the cancellation or correction prayed for. In either
raised or involved. There is a question of law when the doubt arises as to what the case, a certified copy of the judgment shall be served upon the civil registrar
law is on a certain state of facts, which does not call for the examination of the concerned who shall annotate the same in his record.
probative value of the evidence of the parties.18 Here, the issue raised by petitioner is
whether or not the cancellation of entries in the marriage contract which, in effect, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court provides the procedure for cancellation or correction of
nullifies the marriage may be undertaken in a Rule 108 proceeding. Verily, petitioner entries in the civil registry. The proceedings may either be summary or adversary. If
raised a pure question of law. the correction is clerical, then the procedure to be adopted is summary. If the
rectification affects the civil status, citizenship or nationality of a party, it is deemed
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets forth the rules on cancellation or correction of substantial, and the procedure to be adopted is adversary. Since the promulgation of
entries in the civil registry, to wit: Republic v. Valencia19 in 1986, the Court has repeatedly ruled that "even substantial
errors in a civil registry may be corrected through a petition filed under Rule 108, with
the true facts established and the parties aggrieved by the error availing themselves
SEC. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event, of the appropriate adversarial proceeding."20 An appropriate adversary suit or
order or decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been proceeding is one where the trial court has conducted proceedings where all relevant
recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or facts have been fully and properly developed, where opposing counsel have been
correction of any entry relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the given opportunity to demolish the opposite partys case, and where the evidence has
province where the corresponding civil registry is located. been thoroughly weighed and considered.21

SEC. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. Upon good and valid It is true that in special proceedings, formal pleadings and a hearing may be
grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be cancelled or dispensed with, and the remedy [is] granted upon mere application or motion.
corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) However, a special proceeding is not always summary. The procedure laid down in
judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages Rule 108 is not a summary proceeding per se. It requires publication of the petition; it
void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) mandates the inclusion as parties of all persons who may claim interest which would
acknowledgments of natural children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss or be affected by the cancellation or correction; it also requires the civil registrar and any
recovery of citizenship; (l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of person in interest to file their opposition, if any; and it states that although the court
filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name. may make orders expediting the proceedings, it is after hearing that the court shall
either dismiss the petition or issue an order granting the same. Thus, as long as the
SEC. 3. Parties. When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil procedural requirements in Rule 108 are followed, it is the appropriate adversary
register is sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any
proceeding to effect substantial corrections and changes in entries of the civil only "evidence" of marriage which is the marriage certificate was a forgery. While we
register.22 maintain that Rule 108 cannot be availed of to determine the validity of marriage, we
cannot nullify the proceedings before the trial court where all the parties had been
In this case, the entries made in the wife portion of the certificate of marriage are given the opportunity to contest the allegations of respondent; the procedures were
admittedly the personal circumstances of respondent. The latter, however, claims that followed, and all the evidence of the parties had already been admitted and
her signature was forged and she was not the one who contracted marriage with the examined. Respondent indeed sought, not the nullification of marriage as there was
purported husband. In other words, she claims that no such marriage was entered no marriage to speak of, but the correction of the record of such marriage to reflect
into or if there was, she was not the one who entered into such contract. It must be the truth as set forth by the evidence. Otherwise stated, in allowing the correction of
recalled that when respondent tried to obtain a CENOMAR from the NSO, it appeared the subject certificate of marriage by cancelling the wife portion thereof, the trial court
that she was married to a certain Ye Son Sune. She then sought the cancellation of did not, in any way, declare the marriage void as there was no marriage to speak of.
entries in the wife portion of the marriage certificate.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The
In filing the petition for correction of entry under Rule 108, respondent made the Local Regional Trial Court Decision dated May 5, 2009 and Order dated August 25, 2009 in
Civil Registrar of Cebu City, as well as her alleged husband Ye Son Sune, as parties- SP. Proc. No. 16519-CEB, are AFFIRMED.
respondents. It is likewise undisputed that the procedural requirements set forth in
Rule 108 were complied with. The Office of the Solicitor General was likewise notified SO ORDERED.
of the petition which in turn authorized the Office of the City Prosecutor to participate
in the proceedings. More importantly, trial was conducted where respondent herself, DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
the stenographer of the court where the alleged marriage was conducted, as well as a Associate Justice
document examiner, testified. Several documents were also considered as evidence.
With the testimonies and other evidence presented, the trial court found that the
signature appearing in the subject marriage certificate was different from
respondents signature appearing in some of her government issued identification
cards.23 The court thus made a categorical conclusion that respondents signature in
the marriage certificate was not hers and, therefore, was forged. Clearly, it was
established that, as she claimed in her petition, no such marriage was celebrated.

Indeed the Court made a pronouncement in the recent case of Minoru Fujiki v. Maria
Paz Galela Marinay, Shinichi Maekara, Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City, and the
Administrator and Civil Registrar General of the National Statistics Office 24 that:

To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil registry


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

Aside from the certificate of marriage, no such evidence was presented to show the
existence of marriage.1wphi1Rather, respondent showed by overwhelming evidence
that no marriage was entered into and that she was not even aware of such
existence. The testimonial and documentary evidence clearly established that the
Republic of the Philippines prayed that (1) the Japanese Family Court judgment be recognized; (2) that the
SUPREME COURT bigamous marriage between Marinay and Maekara be declared void ab initio under
Manila Articles 35(4) and 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines; 5 and (3) for the RTC to
direct the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City to annotate the Japanese Family Court
SECOND DIVISION judgment on the Certificate of Marriage between Marinay and Maekara and to
endorse such annotation to the Office of the Administrator and Civil Registrar General
in the National Statistics Office (NSO).6
G.R. No. 196049 June 26, 2013
The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
MINORU FUJIKI, PETITIONER,
vs.
MARIA PAZ GALELA MARINAY, SHINICHI MAEKARA, LOCAL CIVIL A few days after the filing of the petition, the RTC immediately issued an Order
REGISTRAR OF QUEZON CITY, AND THE ADMINISTRATOR AND CIVIL dismissing the petition and withdrawing the case from its active civil docket. 7 The RTC
REGISTRAR GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL STATISTICS cited the following provisions of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
OFFICE,RESPONDENTS. Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC):

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

CARPIO, J.: (a) Who may file. A petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may
be filed solely by the husband or the wife.
The Case
xxxx
This is a direct recourse to this Court from the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
107, Quezon City, through a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Sec. 4. Venue. The petition shall be filed in the Family Court of the province or city
Rules of Court on a pure question of law. The petition assails the Order1 dated 31 where the petitioner or the respondent has been residing for at least six months prior
January 2011 of the RTC in Civil Case No. Q-11-68582 and its Resolution dated 2 to the date of filing, or in the case of a non-resident respondent, where he may be
March 2011 denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The RTC dismissed the found in the Philippines, at the election of the petitioner. x x x
petition for "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity
of Marriage)" based on improper venue and the lack of personality of petitioner, The RTC ruled, without further explanation, that the petition was in "gross violation" of
Minoru Fujiki, to file the petition. the above provisions. The trial court based its dismissal on Section 5(4) of A.M. No.
02-11-10-SC which provides that "[f]ailure to comply with any of the preceding
The Facts requirements may be a ground for immediate dismissal of the petition." 8 Apparently,
the RTC took the view that only "the husband or the wife," in this case either Maekara
or Marinay, can file the petition to declare their marriage void, and not Fujiki.
Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married respondent Maria
Paz Galela Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines 2 on 23 January 2004. The marriage
did not sit well with petitioners parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his wife to Japan Fujiki moved that the Order be reconsidered. He argued that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
where he resides. Eventually, they lost contact with each other. contemplated ordinary civil actions for declaration of nullity and annulment of
marriage. Thus, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply. A petition for recognition of
foreign judgment is a special proceeding, which "seeks to establish a status, a right or
In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara (Maekara). Without the a particular fact,"9 and not a civil action which is "for the enforcement or protection of
first marriage being dissolved, Marinay and Maekara were married on 15 May 2008 in a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong." 10 In other words, the petition in the
Quezon City, Philippines. Maekara brought Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay RTC sought to establish (1) the status and concomitant rights of Fujiki and Marinay as
allegedly suffered physical abuse from Maekara. She left Maekara and started to husband and wife and (2) the fact of the rendition of the Japanese Family Court
contact Fujiki.3 judgment declaring the marriage between Marinay and Maekara as void on the
ground of bigamy. The petitioner contended that the Japanese judgment was
Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish their relationship. consistent with Article 35(4) of the Family Code of the Philippines 11on bigamy and
In 2010, Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a judgment from a family court in Japan which was therefore entitled to recognition by Philippine courts. 12
declared the marriage between Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of
bigamy.4 On 14 January 2011, Fujiki filed a petition in the RTC entitled: "Judicial In any case, it was also Fujikis view that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applied only to void
Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)." Fujiki marriages under Article 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological
incapacity.13 Thus, Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC provides that "a petition for seasonably filed by the proper party, and not through a collateral attack such as [a]
declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages may be filed solely by the husband or petition [for correction of entry] x x x."27
the wife." To apply Section 2(a) in bigamy would be absurd because only the guilty
parties would be permitted to sue. In the words of Fujiki, "[i]t is not, of course, difficult The RTC considered the petition as a collateral attack on the validity of marriage
to realize that the party interested in having a bigamous marriage declared a nullity between Marinay and Maekara. The trial court held that this is a "jurisdictional
would be the husband in the prior, pre-existing marriage."14 Fujiki had material ground" to dismiss the petition.28 Moreover, the verification and certification against
interest and therefore the personality to nullify a bigamous marriage. forum shopping of the petition was not authenticated as required under Section 5 29 of
A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. Hence, this also warranted the "immediate dismissal" of the
Fujiki argued that Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) petition under the same provision.
of the Rules of Court is applicable. Rule 108 is the "procedural implementation" of the
Civil Register Law (Act No. 3753)15 in relation to Article 413 of the Civil Code.16 The The Manifestation and Motion of the Office of the Solicitor General and the
Civil Register Law imposes a duty on the "successful petitioner for divorce or Letters of Marinay and Maekara
annulment of marriage to send a copy of the final decree of the court to the local
registrar of the municipality where the dissolved or annulled marriage was
solemnized."17 Section 2 of Rule 108 provides that entries in the civil registry relating On 30 May 2011, the Court required respondents to file their comment on the petition
to "marriages," "judgments of annulments of marriage" and "judgments declaring for review.30 The public respondents, the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the
marriages void from the beginning" are subject to cancellation or correction. 18 The Administrator and Civil Registrar General of the NSO, participated through the Office
petition in the RTC sought (among others) to annotate the judgment of the Japanese of the Solicitor General. Instead of a comment, the Solicitor General filed a
Family Court on the certificate of marriage between Marinay and Maekara. Manifestation and Motion.31

Fujikis motion for reconsideration in the RTC also asserted that the trial court The Solicitor General agreed with the petition. He prayed that the RTCs
"gravely erred" when, on its own, it dismissed the petition based on improper venue. "pronouncement that the petitioner failed to comply with x x x A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC x
Fujiki stated that the RTC may be confusing the concept of venue with the concept of x x be set aside" and that the case be reinstated in the trial court for further
jurisdiction, because it is lack of jurisdiction which allows a court to dismiss a case on proceedings.32 The Solicitor General argued that Fujiki, as the spouse of the first
its own. Fujiki cited Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate Court19 which held that the marriage, is an injured party who can sue to declare the bigamous marriage between
"trial court cannot pre-empt the defendants prerogative to object to the improper Marinay and Maekara void. The Solicitor General cited Juliano-Llave v.
laying of the venue by motu proprio dismissing the case."20Moreover, petitioner Republic33 which held that Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in
alleged that the trial court should not have "immediately dismissed" the petition under cases of bigamy. In Juliano-Llave, this Court explained:
Section 5 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC because he substantially complied with the
provision. [t]he subsequent spouse may only be expected to take action if he or she had only
discovered during the connubial period that the marriage was bigamous, and
On 2 March 2011, the RTC resolved to deny petitioners motion for reconsideration. In especially if the conjugal bliss had already vanished. Should parties in a subsequent
its Resolution, the RTC stated that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies because the marriage benefit from the bigamous marriage, it would not be expected that they
petitioner, in effect, prays for a decree of absolute nullity of marriage.21 The trial court would file an action to declare the marriage void and thus, in such circumstance, the
reiterated its two grounds for dismissal, i.e. lack of personality to sue and improper "injured spouse" who should be given a legal remedy is the one in a subsisting
venue under Sections 2(a) and 4 of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC. The RTC considered previous marriage. The latter is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous marriage
Fujiki as a "third person"22 in the proceeding because he "is not the husband in the not only threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the prior
decree of divorce issued by the Japanese Family Court, which he now seeks to be marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior spouse. The
judicially recognized, x x x."23 On the other hand, the RTC did not explain its ground subsequent marriage will always be a reminder of the infidelity of the spouse and the
of impropriety of venue. It only said that "[a]lthough the Court cited Sec. 4 (Venue) x x disregard of the prior marriage which sanctity is protected by the Constitution. 34
x as a ground for dismissal of this case[,] it should be taken together with the other
ground cited by the Court x x x which is Sec. 2(a) x x x." 24 The Solicitor General contended that the petition to recognize the Japanese Family
Court judgment may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding.35 In Corpuz v. Santo
The RTC further justified its motu proprio dismissal of the petition based on Braza v. Tomas,36 this Court held that "[t]he recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be
The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental. 25 The Court in Braza made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as
ruled that "[i]n a special proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108 that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or right of a
(Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Original Registry), the trial court has no party or a particular fact."37 WhileCorpuz concerned a foreign divorce decree, in the
jurisdiction to nullify marriages x x x."26 Braza emphasized that the "validity of present case the Japanese Family Court judgment also affected the civil status of the
marriages as well as legitimacy and filiation can be questioned only in a direct action parties, especially Marinay, who is a Filipino citizen.
The Solicitor General asserted that Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is the procedure to For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a
record "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons" in marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country, the petitioner only
the civil registry as required by Article 407 of the Civil Code. In other words, "[t]he law needs to prove the foreign judgment as a fact under the Rules of Court. To be more
requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal specific, a copy of the foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as a
consequences upon a persons legal capacity and status x x x." 38 The Japanese fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the
Family Court judgment directly bears on the civil status of a Filipino citizen and should Rules of Court.49 Petitioner may prove the Japanese Family Court judgment through
therefore be proven as a fact in a Rule 108 proceeding. (1) an official publication or (2) a certification or copy attested by the officer who has
custody of the judgment. If the office which has custody is in a foreign country such
Moreover, the Solicitor General argued that there is no jurisdictional infirmity in as Japan, the certification may be made by the proper diplomatic or consular officer of
assailing a void marriage under Rule 108, citing De Castro v. De Castro39 and Nial v. the Philippine foreign service in Japan and authenticated by the seal of office. 50
Bayadog40 which declared that "[t]he validity of a void marriage may be collaterally
attacked."41 To hold that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC applies to a petition for recognition of foreign
judgment would mean that the trial court and the parties should follow its provisions,
Marinay and Maekara individually sent letters to the Court to comply with the directive including the form and contents of the petition,51 the service of summons,52 the
for them to comment on the petition.42 Maekara wrote that Marinay concealed from investigation of the public prosecutor,53 the setting of pre-trial,54 the trial55 and the
him the fact that she was previously married to Fujiki. 43Maekara also denied that he judgment of the trial court.56 This is absurd because it will litigate the case anew. It will
inflicted any form of violence on Marinay.44 On the other hand, Marinay wrote that she defeat the purpose of recognizing foreign judgments, which is "to limit repetitive
had no reason to oppose the petition.45 She would like to maintain her silence for fear litigation on claims and issues."57 The interpretation of the RTC is tantamount to
that anything she say might cause misunderstanding between her and Fujiki.46 relitigating the case on the merits. In Mijares v. Raada,58 this Court explained that
"[i]f every judgment of a foreign court were reviewable on the merits, the plaintiff
would be forced back on his/her original cause of action, rendering immaterial the
The Issues previously concluded litigation."59

Petitioner raises the following legal issues: A foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage affects the civil status,
condition and legal capacity of its parties. However, the effect of a foreign judgment is
(1) Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages not automatic. To extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines, Philippine
and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) is applicable. courts must determine if the foreign judgment is consistent with domestic public policy
and other mandatory laws.60 Article 15 of the Civil Code provides that "[l]aws relating
(2) Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons
recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad." This is the
his or her spouse and a foreign citizen on the ground of bigamy. rule of lex nationalii in private international law. Thus, the Philippine State may
require, for effectivity in the Philippines, recognition by Philippine courts of a foreign
judgment affecting its citizen, over whom it exercises personal jurisdiction relating to
(3) Whether the Regional Trial Court can recognize the foreign judgment in a the status, condition and legal capacity of such citizen.
proceeding for cancellation or correction of entries in the Civil Registry under
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
A petition to recognize a foreign judgment declaring a marriage void does not require
relitigation under a Philippine court of the case as if it were a new petition for
The Ruling of the Court declaration of nullity of marriage. Philippine courts cannot presume to know the
foreign laws under which the foreign judgment was rendered. They cannot substitute
We grant the petition. their judgment on the status, condition and legal capacity of the foreign citizen who is
under the jurisdiction of another state. Thus, Philippine courts can only recognize the
foreign judgment as a fact according to the rules of evidence.
The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of
Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not apply in a petition to recognize
a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage where one of the parties is a Section 48(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that a foreign judgment or final
citizen of a foreign country. Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v. Republic,47 this Court held order against a person creates a "presumptive evidence of a right as between the
that the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the husband or wife can file a parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title." Moreover, Section 48
declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage "does not apply if the reason behind of the Rules of Court states that "the judgment or final order may be repelled by
the petition is bigamy."48 evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear
mistake of law or fact." Thus, Philippine courts exercise limited review on foreign
I. judgments. Courts are not allowed to delve into the merits of a foreign judgment.
Once a foreign judgment is admitted and proven in a Philippine court, it can only be Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court
repelled on grounds external to its merits, i.e. , "want of jurisdiction, want of notice to judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of
the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact." The rule on limited review bigamy because the judgment concerns his civil status as married to Marinay. For the
embodies the policy of efficiency and the protection of party expectations, 61 as well as same reason he has the personality to file a petition under Rule 108 to cancel the
respecting the jurisdiction of other states.62 entry of marriage between Marinay and Maekara in the civil registry on the basis of
the decree of the Japanese Family Court.
Since 1922 in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,63 Philippine courts have recognized
foreign divorce decrees between a Filipino and a foreign citizen if they are There is no doubt that the prior spouse has a personal and material interest in
successfully proven under the rules of evidence.64 Divorce involves the dissolution of maintaining the integrity of the marriage he contracted and the property relations
a marriage, but the recognition of a foreign divorce decree does not involve the arising from it. There is also no doubt that he is interested in the cancellation of an
extended procedure under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the rules of ordinary trial. While entry of a bigamous marriage in the civil registry, which compromises the public
the Philippines does not have a divorce law, Philippine courts may, however, record of his marriage. The interest derives from the substantive right of the spouse
recognize a foreign divorce decree under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the not only to preserve (or dissolve, in limited instances68) his most intimate human
Family Code, to capacitate a Filipino citizen to remarry when his or her foreign relation, but also to protect his property interests that arise by operation of law the
spouse obtained a divorce decree abroad.65 moment he contracts marriage.69 These property interests in marriage include the
right to be supported "in keeping with the financial capacity of the family" 70 and
There is therefore no reason to disallow Fujiki to simply prove as a fact the Japanese preserving the property regime of the marriage.71
Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the
ground of bigamy. While the Philippines has no divorce law, the Japanese Family Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the Constitution, 72 but a
Court judgment is fully consistent with Philippine public policy, as bigamous spouses right in a marriage extends further to relational rights recognized under Title
marriages are declared void from the beginning under Article 35(4) of the Family III ("Rights and Obligations between Husband and Wife") of the Family Code. 73 A.M.
Code. Bigamy is a crime under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. Thus, Fujiki No. 02-11-10-SC cannot "diminish, increase, or modify" the substantive right of the
can prove the existence of the Japanese Family Court judgment in accordance with spouse to maintain the integrity of his marriage.74 In any case, Section 2(a) of A.M.
Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of No. 02-11-10-SC preserves this substantive right by limiting the personality to sue to
Court. the husband or the wife of the union recognized by law.

II. Section 2(a) of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not preclude a spouse of a subsisting
marriage to question the validity of a subsequent marriage on the ground of bigamy.
Since the recognition of a foreign judgment only requires proof of fact of the On the contrary, when Section 2(a) states that "[a] petition for declaration of absolute
judgment, it may be made in a special proceeding for cancellation or correction of nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or the wife"75it refers
entries in the civil registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. Rule 1, Section 3 of to the husband or the wife of the subsisting marriage. Under Article 35(4) of the
the Rules of Court provides that "[a] special proceeding is a remedy by which a party Family Code, bigamous marriages are void from the beginning. Thus, the parties in a
seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact." Rule 108 creates a remedy to bigamous marriage are neither the husband nor the wife under the law. The husband
rectify facts of a persons life which are recorded by the State pursuant to the Civil or the wife of the prior subsisting marriage is the one who has the personality to file a
Register Law or Act No. 3753. These are facts of public consequence such as birth, petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage under Section 2(a) of A.M.
death or marriage,66 which the State has an interest in recording. As noted by the No. 02-11-10-SC.
Solicitor General, in Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas this Court declared that "[t]he recognition
of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the Article 35(4) of the Family Code, which declares bigamous marriages void from the
object of special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is beginning, is the civil aspect of Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, 76 which
precisely to establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact."67 penalizes bigamy. Bigamy is a public crime. Thus, anyone can initiate prosecution for
bigamy because any citizen has an interest in the prosecution and prevention of
Rule 108, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states: crimes.77If anyone can file a criminal action which leads to the declaration of nullity of
a bigamous marriage,78 there is more reason to confer personality to sue on the
husband or the wife of a subsisting marriage. The prior spouse does not only share in
Sec. 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested in any act, event, order or the public interest of prosecuting and preventing crimes, he is also personally
decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the interested in the purely civil aspect of protecting his marriage.
civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry
relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of the province where the corresponding
civil registry is located. (Emphasis supplied) When the right of the spouse to protect his marriage is violated, the spouse is clearly
an injured party and is therefore interested in the judgment of the suit.79 Juliano-
Llave ruled that the prior spouse "is clearly the aggrieved party as the bigamous
marriage not only threatens the financial and the property ownership aspect of the Article 26 of the Family Code confers jurisdiction on Philippine courts to extend the
prior marriage but most of all, it causes an emotional burden to the prior effect of a foreign divorce decree to a Filipino spouse without undergoing trial to
spouse."80 Being a real party in interest, the prior spouse is entitled to sue in order to determine the validity of the dissolution of the marriage. The second paragraph of
declare a bigamous marriage void. For this purpose, he can petition a court to Article 26 of the Family Code provides that "[w]here a marriage between a Filipino
recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the bigamous marriage and judicially declare citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained
as a fact that such judgment is effective in the Philippines. Once established, there abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse
should be no more impediment to cancel the entry of the bigamous marriage in the shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law." InRepublic v. Orbecido,88 this
civil registry. Court recognized the legislative intent of the second paragraph of Article 26 which is
"to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien
III. spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino
spouse"89 under the laws of his or her country. The second paragraph of Article 26 of
the Family Code only authorizes Philippine courts to adopt the effects of a foreign
In Braza v. The City Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, this Court divorce decree precisely because the Philippines does not allow divorce. Philippine
held that a "trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages" in a special proceeding courts cannot try the case on the merits because it is tantamount to trying a case for
for cancellation or correction of entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. 81 Thus, divorce.
the "validity of marriage[] x x x can be questioned only in a direct action" to nullify the
marriage.82 The RTC relied on Braza in dismissing the petition for recognition of
foreign judgment as a collateral attack on the marriage between Marinay and The second paragraph of Article 26 is only a corrective measure to address the
Maekara. anomaly that results from a marriage between a Filipino, whose laws do not allow
divorce, and a foreign citizen, whose laws allow divorce. The anomaly consists in the
Filipino spouse being tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry
Braza is not applicable because Braza does not involve a recognition of a foreign under the laws of his or her country. The correction is made by extending in the
judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of the Philippines the effect of the foreign divorce decree, which is already effective in the
foreign country. country where it was rendered. The second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
Code is based on this Courts decision in Van Dorn v. Romillo90 which declared that
To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil registry the Filipino spouse "should not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends
cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. A direct action is necessary to of justice are to be served."91
prevent circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage
under the Family Code, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC and other related laws. Among these The principle in Article 26 of the Family Code applies in a marriage between a Filipino
safeguards are the requirement of proving the limited grounds for the dissolution of and a foreign citizen who obtains a foreign judgment nullifying the marriage on the
marriage,83 support pendente lite of the spouses and children,84 the liquidation, ground of bigamy. The Filipino spouse may file a petition abroad to declare the
partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses, 85 and the investigation of marriage void on the ground of bigamy. The principle in the second paragraph of
the public prosecutor to determine collusion.86 A direct action for declaration of nullity Article 26 of the Family Code applies because the foreign spouse, after the foreign
or annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent circumvention of the judgment nullifying the marriage, is capacitated to remarry under the laws of his or
jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Family Courts Act of 1997 (Republic Act her country. If the foreign judgment is not recognized in the Philippines, the Filipino
No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry may spouse will be discriminatedthe foreign spouse can remarry while the Filipino
be filed in the Regional Trial Court "where the corresponding civil registry is spouse cannot remarry.
located."87 In other words, a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the mere
expedient of changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.
Under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, Philippine courts are
empowered to correct a situation where the Filipino spouse is still tied to the marriage
However, this does not apply in a petition for correction or cancellation of a civil while the foreign spouse is free to marry. Moreover, notwithstanding Article 26 of the
registry entry based on the recognition of a foreign judgment annulling a marriage Family Code, Philippine courts already have jurisdiction to extend the effect of a
where one of the parties is a citizen of the foreign country. There is neither foreign judgment in the Philippines to the extent that the foreign judgment does not
circumvention of the substantive and procedural safeguards of marriage under contravene domestic public policy. A critical difference between the case of a foreign
Philippine law, nor of the jurisdiction of Family Courts under R.A. No. 8369. A divorce decree and a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is that bigamy,
recognition of a foreign judgment is not an action to nullify a marriage. It is an action as a ground for the nullity of marriage, is fully consistent with Philippine public policy
for Philippine courts to recognize the effectivity of a foreign judgment, which as expressed in Article 35(4) of the Family Code and Article 349 of the Revised Penal
presupposes a case which was already tried and decided under foreign law. Code. The Filipino spouse has the option to undergo full trial by filing a petition for
The procedure in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC does not apply in a petition to recognize a declaration of nullity of marriage under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, but this is not the only
foreign judgment annulling a bigamous marriage where one of the parties is a citizen remedy available to him or her. Philippine courts have jurisdiction to recognize a
of the foreign country. Neither can R.A. No. 8369 define the jurisdiction of the foreign foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage, without prejudice to a criminal
court. prosecution for bigamy.
In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are incompetent to
substitute their judgment on how a case was decided under foreign law. They cannot
decide on the "family rights and duties, or on the status, condition and legal capacity"
of the foreign citizen who is a party to the foreign judgment. Thus, Philippine courts
are limited to the question of whether to extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the
Philippines. In a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage involving a
citizen of a foreign country, Philippine courts only decide whether to extend its effect
to the Filipino party, under the rule of lex nationalii expressed in Article 15 of the Civil
Code.

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

However, the recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is


without prejudice to prosecution for bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal
Code.93 The recognition of a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage is not a
ground for extinction of criminal liability under Articles 89 and 94 of the Revised Penal
Code. Moreover, under Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code, "[t]he term of
prescription [of the crime of bigamy] shall not run when the offender is absent from
the Philippine archipelago."

Since A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is inapplicable, the Court no longer sees the need to
address the questions on venue and the contents and form of the petition under
Sections 4 and 5, respectively, of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC.

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

SO ORDERED.

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


Republic of the Philippines criminal case for bigamy was filed against petitioner before Branch 54 of the RTC of
SUPREME COURT Alaminos, Pangasinan, and docketed as Crim. Case No. 2699-A.
Manila
Apparently, Felicitas Amor filed a Complaint for bigamy, alleging that petitioner
SECOND DIVISION contracted a second marriage to Orlando despite having been married to one
Eusebio Bristol on 12 December 1959.
G. R. No. 183622 February 8, 2012
On 6 August 1998, the RTC had acquitted petitioner of bigamy. 3 The trial court ruled
MEROPE ENRIQUEZ VDA. DE CATALAN, Petitioner, that since the deceased was a divorced American citizen, and since that divorce was
vs. not recognized under Philippine jurisdiction, the marriage between him and petitioner
LOUELLA A. CATALAN-LEE, Respondent. was not valid.

RESOLUTION Furthermore, it took note of the action for declaration of nullity then pending action
with the trial court in Dagupan City filed by Felicitas Amor against the deceased and
petitioner. It considered the pending action to be a prejudicial question in determining
SERENO, J.: the guilt of petitioner for the crime of bigamy.

Before us is a Petition for Review assailing the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision 1 and Finally, the trial court found that, in the first place, petitioner had never been married
Resolution2 regarding the issuance of letters of administration of the intestate estate to Eusebio Bristol.
of Orlando B. Catalan.
On 26 June 2006, Branch 70 of the RTC of Burgos, Pangasinan dismissed the
The facts are as follows: Petition for the issuance of letters of administration filed by petitioner and granted that
of private respondent. Contrary to its findings in Crim. Case No. 2699-A, the RTC
Orlando B. Catalan was a naturalized American citizen. After allegedly obtaining a held that the marriage between petitioner and Eusebio Bristol was valid and
divorce in the United States from his first wife, Felicitas Amor, he contracted a second subsisting when she married Orlando. Without expounding, it reasoned further that
marriage with petitioner herein. her acquittal in the previous bigamy case was fatal to her cause. Thus, the trial court
held that petitioner was not an interested party who may file a petition for the
On 18 November 2004, Orlando died intestate in the Philippines. issuance of letters of administration.4

Thereafter, on 28 February 2005, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) After the subsequent denial of her Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner elevated the
of Dagupan City a Petition for the issuance of letters of administration for her matter to the Court of Appeals (CA) via her Petition for Certiorari, alleging grave
appointment as administratrix of the intestate estate of Orlando. The case was abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC in dismissing her Petition for the issuance
docketed as Special Proceedings (Spec. Proc.) No. 228. of letters of administration.

On 3 March 2005, while Spec. Proc. No. 228 was pending, respondent Louella A. Petitioner reiterated before the CA that the Petition filed by respondent should have
Catalan-Lee, one of the children of Orlando from his first marriage, filed a similar been dismissed on the ground of litis pendentia. She also insisted that, while a
petition with the RTC docketed as Spec. Proc. No. 232. petition for letters of administration may have been filed by an "uninterested person,"
the defect was cured by the appearance of a real party-in-interest. Thus, she insisted
that, to determine who has a better right to administer the decedents properties, the
The two cases were subsequently consolidated. RTC should have first required the parties to present their evidence before it ruled on
the matter.
Petitioner prayed for the dismissal of Spec. Proc. No. 232 on the ground of litis
pendentia, considering that Spec. Proc. No. 228 covering the same estate was On 18 October 2007, the CA promulgated the assailed Decision. First, it held that
already pending. petitioner undertook the wrong remedy. She should have instead filed a petition for
review rather than a petition for certiorari. Nevertheless, since the Petition for
On the other hand, respondent alleged that petitioner was not considered an Certiorari was filed within the fifteen-day reglementary period for filing a petition for
interested person qualified to file a petition for the issuance of letters of administration review under Sec. 4 of Rule 43, the CA allowed the Petition and continued to decide
of the estate of Orlando. In support of her contention, respondent alleged that a on the merits of the case. Thus, it ruled in this wise:
As to the issue of litis pendentia, we find it not applicable in the case. For litis SO ORDERED.5 (Emphasis supplied)
pendentia to be a ground for the dismissal of an action, there must be: (a) identity of
the parties or at least such as to represent the same interest in both actions; (b) Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of this Decision. 6 She alleged that the
identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same reasoning of the CA was illogical in stating, on the one hand, that she was acquitted
acts, and (c) the identity in the two cases should be such that the judgment which of bigamy, while, on the other hand, still holding that her marriage with Orlando was
may be rendered in one would, regardless of which party is successful, amount to res invalid. She insists that with her acquittal of the crime of bigamy, the marriage enjoys
judicata in the other. A petition for letters of administration is a special proceeding. A the presumption of validity.
special proceeding is an application or proceeding to establish the status or right of a
party, or a particular fact. And, in contrast to an ordinary civil action, a special
proceeding involves no defendant or respondent. The only party in this kind of On 20 June 2008, the CA denied her motion.
proceeding is the petitioner of the applicant. Considering its nature, a subsequent
petition for letters of administration can hardly be barred by a similar pending petition Hence, this Petition.
involving the estate of the same decedent unless both petitions are filed by the same
person. In the case at bar, the petitioner was not a party to the petition filed by the At the outset, it seems that the RTC in the special proceedings failed to appreciate
private respondent, in the same manner that the latter was not made a party to the the finding of the RTC in Crim. Case No. 2699-A that petitioner was never married to
petition filed by the former. The first element of litis pendentia is wanting. The Eusebio Bristol. Thus, the trial court concluded that, because petitioner was acquitted
contention of the petitioner must perforce fail. of bigamy, it follows that the first marriage with Bristol still existed and was valid. By
failing to take note of the findings of fact on the nonexistence of the marriage between
Moreover, to yield to the contention of the petitioner would render nugatory the petitioner and Bristol, both the RTC and CA held that petitioner was not an interested
provision of the Rules requiring a petitioner for letters of administration to be an party in the estate of Orlando.
"interested party," inasmuch as any person, for that matter, regardless of whether he
has valid interest in the estate sought to be administered, could be appointed as Second, it is imperative to note that at the time the bigamy case in Crim. Case No.
administrator for as long as he files his petition ahead of any other person, in 2699-A was dismissed, we had already ruled that under the principles of comity, our
derogation of the rights of those specifically mentioned in the order of preference in jurisdiction recognizes a valid divorce obtained by a spouse of foreign nationality. This
the appointment of administrator under Rule 78, Section 6 of the Revised Rules of doctrine was established as early as 1985 in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 7 wherein we
Court, which provides: said:

xxx xxx xxx It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil
Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against absolute divorces[,]
The petitioner, armed with a marriage certificate, filed her petition for letters of the same being considered contrary to our concept of public policy and
administration. As a spouse, the petitioner would have been preferred to administer morality. However, aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized
the estate of Orlando B. Catalan. However, a marriage certificate, like any other in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to their national law. In this
public document, is only prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. The fact case, the divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the marriage
that the petitioner had been charged with bigamy and was acquitted has not from the standards of American law, under which divorce dissolves the
been disputed by the petitioner.Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by marriage. xxx
contracting a second or subsequent marriage before the first marriage has been
dissolved or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by a We reiterated this principle in Llorente v. Court of Appeals,8 to wit:
judgment rendered in a proper proceedings. The deduction of the trial court that
the acquittal of the petitioner in the said case negates the validity of her
subsequent marriage with Orlando B. Catalan has not been disproved by her. In Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. we held that owing to the nationality principle embodied in
There was not even an attempt from the petitioner to deny the findings of the Article 15 of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against
trial court. There is therefore no basis for us to make a contrary finding. Thus, not absolute divorces, the same being considered contrary to our concept of public policy
being an interested party and a stranger to the estate of Orlando B. Catalan, the and morality. In the same case, the Court ruled that aliens may obtain divorces
dismissal of her petition for letters of administration by the trial court is in place. abroad, provided they are valid according to their national law.

xxx xxx xxx Citing this landmark case, the Court held in Quita v. Court of Appeals, that once
proven that respondent was no longer a Filipino citizen when he obtained the
divorce from petitioner, the ruling in Van Dorn would become applicable and
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. No petitioner could "very well lose her right to inherit" from him.
pronouncement as to costs.
In Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera, we recognized the divorce obtained by the respondent in Burden of Proving Australian Law
his country, the Federal Republic of Germany. There, we stated that divorce and its
legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines insofar as respondent is Respondent contends that the burden to prove Australian divorce law falls upon
concerned in view of the nationality principle in our civil law on the status of petitioner, because she is the party challenging the validity of a foreign judgment. He
persons. contends that petitioner was satisfied with the original of the divorce decree and was
cognizant of the marital laws of Australia, because she had lived and worked in that
For failing to apply these doctrines, the decision of the Court of Appeals must be country for quite a long time. Besides, the Australian divorce law is allegedly known
reversed. We hold that the divorce obtained by Lorenzo H. Llorente from his by Philippine courts; thus, judges may take judicial notice of foreign laws in the
first wife Paula was valid and recognized in this jurisdiction as a matter of exercise of sound discretion.
comity. xxx
We are not persuaded. The burden of proof lies with the "party who alleges the
Nonetheless, the fact of divorce must still first be proven as we have enunciated in existence of a fact or thing necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action." In
Garcia v. Recio,9 to wit: civil cases, plaintiffs have the burden of proving the material allegations of the
complaint when those are denied by the answer; and defendants have the burden of
Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before a foreign judgment is given proving the material allegations in their answer when they introduce new matters.
presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be presented and admitted in Since the divorce was a defense raised by respondent, the burden of proving the
evidence. A divorce obtained abroad is proven by the divorce decree itself. Indeed pertinent Australian law validating it falls squarely upon him.
the best evidence of a judgment is the judgment itself. The decree purports to be a
written act or record of an act of an official body or tribunal of a foreign country. It is well-settled in our jurisdiction that our courts cannot take judicial notice of foreign
laws.1wphi1 Like any other facts, they must be alleged and proved. Australian
Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other hand, a writing or document may marital laws are not among those matters that judges are supposed to know by
be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an official reason of their judicial function. The power of judicial notice must be exercised with
publication or (2) a copy thereof attested by the officer having legal custody of the caution, and every reasonable doubt upon the subject should be resolved in the
document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) negative. (Emphasis supplied)
accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the
Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept It appears that the trial court no longer required petitioner to prove the validity of
and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office. Orlandos divorce under the laws of the United States and the marriage between
petitioner and the deceased. Thus, there is a need to remand the proceedings to the
The divorce decree between respondent and Editha Samson appears to be an trial court for further reception of evidence to establish the fact of divorce.
authentic one issued by an Australian family court. However, appearance is not
sufficient; compliance with the aforementioned rules on evidence must be Should petitioner prove the validity of the divorce and the subsequent marriage, she
demonstrated. has the preferential right to be issued the letters of administration over the estate.
Otherwise, letters of administration may be issued to respondent, who is undisputedly
Fortunately for respondent's cause, when the divorce decree of May 18, 1989 was the daughter or next of kin of the deceased, in accordance with Sec. 6 of Rule 78 of
submitted in evidence, counsel for petitioner objected, not to its admissibility, but only the Revised Rules of Court.
to the fact that it had not been registered in the Local Civil Registry of Cabanatuan
City. The trial court ruled that it was admissible, subject to petitioner's qualification. This is consistent with our ruling in San Luis v. San Luis,10 in which we said:
Hence, it was admitted in evidence and accorded weight by the judge. Indeed,
petitioner's failure to object properly rendered the divorce decree admissible as a Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the divorce decree allegedly obtained
written act of the Family Court of Sydney, Australia. by Merry Lee which absolutely allowed Felicisimo to remarry, would have vested
Felicidad with the legal personality to file the present petition as Felicisimo's surviving
Compliance with the quoted articles (11, 13 and 52) of the Family Code is not spouse. However, the records show that there is insufficient evidence to prove
necessary; respondent was no longer bound by Philippine personal laws after he the validity of the divorce obtained by Merry Lee as well as the marriage of
acquired Australian citizenship in 1992. Naturalization is the legal act of adopting an respondent and Felicisimo under the laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia v. Recio, the
alien and clothing him with the political and civil rights belonging to a citizen. Court laid down the specific guidelines for pleading and proving foreign law and
Naturalized citizens, freed from the protective cloak of their former states, don the divorce judgments. It held that presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient
attires of their adoptive countries. By becoming an Australian, respondent severed his and that proof of its authenticity and due execution must be presented. Under
allegiance to the Philippines and the vinculum juris that had tied him to Philippine Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, a writing or document may be proven as a public or
personal laws. official record of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication or (2) a copy
thereof attested by the officer having legal custody of the document. If the record is
not kept in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued
by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed
in the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of
his office.

With regard to respondent's marriage to Felicisimo allegedly solemnized in California,


U.S.A., she submitted photocopies of the Marriage Certificate and the annotated text
of the Family Law Act of California which purportedly show that their marriage was
done in accordance with the said law. As stated in Garcia, however, the Court cannot
take judicial notice of foreign laws as they must be alleged and proved.

Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial court for further reception
of evidence on the divorce decree obtained by Merry Lee and the marriage of
respondent and Felicisimo. (Emphasis supplied)

Thus, it is imperative for the trial court to first determine the validity of the divorce to
ascertain the rightful party to be issued the letters of administration over the estate of
Orlando B. Catalan.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is hereby PARTIALLY


GRANTED. The Decision dated 18 October 2007 and the Resolution dated 20 June
2008 of the Court of Appeals are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Let this case
be REMANDED to Branch 70 of the Regional Trial Court of Burgos, Pangasinan for
further proceedings in accordance with this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Associate Justice
Republic of the Philippines In its October 30, 2008 decision,7 the RTC denied Gerberts petition. The RTC
SUPREME COURT concluded that Gerbert was not the proper party to institute the action for judicial
Manila recognition of the foreign divorce decree as he is a naturalized Canadian citizen. It
ruled that only the Filipino spouse can avail of the remedy, under the second
THIRD DIVISION paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,8 in order for him or her to be able to
remarry under Philippine law.9 Article 26 of the Family Code reads:
G.R. No. 186571 August 11, 2010
Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws
in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall
GERBERT R. CORPUZ, Petitioner, also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and
vs. (6), 36, 37 and 38.
DAISYLYN TIROL STO. TOMAS and The SOLICITOR GENERAL, Respondents.
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and
DECISION a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or
her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under
BRION, J.: Philippine law.

Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative intent behind the
(RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via a petition for review on certiorari 2 under enactment of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, as determined
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (present petition). by the Court in Republic v. Orbecido III;10 the provision was enacted to "avoid the
absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who,
Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen who acquired Canadian after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse." 11
citizenship through naturalization on November 29, 2000. 3 On January 18, 2005,
Gerbert married respondent Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a Filipina, in Pasig City. 4 Due to THE PETITION
work and other professional commitments, Gerbert left for Canada soon after the
wedding. He returned to the Philippines sometime in April 2005 to surprise Daisylyn, From the RTCs ruling,12 Gerbert filed the present petition.13
but was shocked to discover that his wife was having an affair with another man. Hurt
and disappointed, Gerbert returned to Canada and filed a petition for divorce. The
Superior Court of Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada granted Gerberts petition for Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially for declaratory relief,
divorce on December 8, 2005. The divorce decree took effect a month later, on similar to that filed in Orbecido; he, thus, similarly asks for a determination of his
January 8, 2006.5 rights under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. Taking into
account the rationale behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,
he contends that the provision applies as well to the benefit of the alien spouse. He
Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has found another Filipina to claims that the RTC ruling unduly stretched the doctrine in Orbecido by limiting the
love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina fiance in the Philippines, Gerbert went to standing to file the petition only to the Filipino spouse an interpretation he claims to
the Pasig City Civil Registry Office and registered the Canadian divorce decree on his be contrary to the essence of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code.
and Daisylyns marriage certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an He considers himself as a proper party, vested with sufficient legal interest, to institute
official of the National Statistics Office (NSO) informed Gerbert that the marriage the case, as there is a possibility that he might be prosecuted for bigamy if he marries
between him and Daisylyn still subsists under Philippine law; to be enforceable, the his Filipina fiance in the Philippines since two marriage certificates, involving him,
foreign divorce decree must first be judicially recognized by a competent Philippine would be on file with the Civil Registry Office. The Office of the Solicitor General and
court, pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982.6 Daisylyn, in their respective Comments,14 both support Gerberts position.

Accordingly, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce and/or Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second paragraph of Article 26
declaration of marriage as dissolved (petition) with the RTC. Although summoned, of the Family Code extends to aliens the right to petition a court of this jurisdiction for
Daisylyn did not file any responsive pleading but submitted instead a notarized the recognition of a foreign divorce decree.
letter/manifestation to the trial court. She offered no opposition to Gerberts petition
and, in fact, alleged her desire to file a similar case herself but was prevented by
financial and personal circumstances. She, thus, requested that she be considered as THE COURTS RULING
a party-in-interest with a similar prayer to Gerberts.
The alien spouse can claim no right under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code as the substantive right it establishes is in favor of the Filipino spouse
The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative history and intent proceeding instituted precisely for that purpose or as a related issue in another
behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code. proceeding, would be of no significance to the Filipino spouse since our laws do not
recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital bond;25 Article 17 of the Civil
The Family Code recognizes only two types of defective marriages void15 and Code provides that the policy against absolute divorces cannot be subverted by
voidable16 marriages. In both cases, the basis for the judicial declaration of absolute judgments promulgated in a foreign country. The inclusion of the second paragraph in
nullity or annulment of the marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage. Article 26 of the Family Code provides the direct exception to this rule and serves as
Divorce, on the other hand, contemplates the dissolution of the lawful union for cause basis for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage between the Filipino spouse and
arising after the marriage.17 Our family laws do not recognize absolute divorce his or her alien spouse.
between Filipino citizens.18
Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages between a Filipino Code is not limited to the recognition of the foreign divorce decree. If the court finds
and an alien, President Corazon C. Aquino, in the exercise of her legislative powers that the decree capacitated the alien spouse to remarry, the courts can declare that
under the Freedom Constitution,19 enacted Executive Order No. (EO) 227, amending the Filipino spouse is likewise capacitated to contract another marriage. No court in
Article 26 of the Family Code to its present wording, as follows: this jurisdiction, however, can make a similar declaration for the alien spouse (other
than that already established by the decree), whose status and legal capacity are
generally governed by his national law.26
Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance with the laws
in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall
also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the purpose of the second
(6), 36, 37 and 38. paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the RTC was correct in limiting the
applicability of the provision for the benefit of the Filipino spouse. In other words, only
the Filipino spouse can invoke the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code;
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and the alien spouse can claim no right under this provision.
a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or
her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under
Philippine law. The foreign divorce decree is presumptive evidence of a right that clothes the party
with legal interest to petition for its recognition in this jurisdiction
Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, EO 227 effectively
incorporated into the law this Courts holding in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 20 and Pilapil We qualify our above conclusion i.e., that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
v. Ibay-Somera.21 In both cases, the Court refused to acknowledge the alien spouses Family Code bestows no rights in favor of aliens with the complementary statement
assertion of marital rights after a foreign courts divorce decree between the alien and that this conclusion is not sufficient basis to dismiss Gerberts petition before the
the Filipino. The Court, thus, recognized that the foreign divorce had already severed RTC. In other words, the unavailability of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
the marital bond between the spouses. The Court reasoned in Van Dorn v. Romillo Family Code to aliens does not necessarily strip Gerbert of legal interest to petition
that: the RTC for the recognition of his foreign divorce decree. The foreign divorce decree
itself, after its authenticity and conformity with the aliens national law have been duly
proven according to our rules of evidence, serves as a presumptive evidence of right
To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the Filipino spouse] has to be considered still in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which
married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to a wife's obligations x x x cannot be provides for the effect of foreign judgments. This Section states:
just. [The Filipino spouse] should not be obliged to live together with, observe respect
and fidelity, and render support to [the alien spouse]. The latter should not continue to
be one of her heirs with possible rights to conjugal property. She should not be SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders.The effect of a judgment or final
discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served.22 order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment or
final order is as follows:
As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in the law "to avoid the
absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, (a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment or
after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse." 23 The legislative final order is conclusive upon the title of the thing; and
intent is for the benefit of the Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her marital status,
settling the doubts created by the divorce decree. Essentially, the second paragraph (b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or
of Article 26 of the Family Code provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and
have his or her marriage to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating their successors in interest by a subsequent title.
him or her to remarry.24 Without the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
Code, the judicial recognition of the foreign decree of divorce, whether in a
In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of above, will not obtain for the Filipino spouse were it not for the substantive rule that
jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact. the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides.

To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign judgment is Considerations beyond the recognition of the foreign divorce decree
sufficient to clothe a party with the requisite interest to institute an action before our
courts for the recognition of the foreign judgment. In a divorce situation, we have As a matter of "housekeeping" concern, we note that the Pasig City Civil Registry
declared, no less, that the divorce obtained by an alien abroad may be recognized in Office has already recorded the divorce decree on Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage
the Philippines, provided the divorce is valid according to his or her national law. 27 certificate based on the mere presentation of the decree. 34We consider the recording
to be legally improper; hence, the need to draw attention of the bench and the bar to
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the what had been done.
acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign judgments and
laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, "no sovereign is bound to give effect Article 407 of the Civil Code states that "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees
within its dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of another country."28 This concerning the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil register." The law
means that the foreign judgment and its authenticity must be proven as facts under requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal
our rules on evidence, together with the aliens applicable national law to show the consequences touching upon a persons legal capacity and status, i.e., those
effect of the judgment on the alien himself or herself.29 The recognition may be made affecting "all his personal qualities and relations, more or less permanent in nature,
in an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a party not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or
invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or defense. his being married or not."35

In Gerberts case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the national law of the A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign one, affecting a persons
alien, recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a divorce, purport to be official acts of legal capacity and status that must be recorded. In fact, Act No. 3753 or the Law on
a sovereign authority, Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court comes into play. Registry of Civil Status specifically requires the registration of divorce decrees in the
This Section requires proof, either by (1) official publications or (2) copies attested by civil registry:
the officer having legal custody of the documents. If the copies of official records are
not kept in the Philippines, these must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by
the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in Sec. 1. Civil Register. A civil register is established for recording the civil status of
the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his persons, in which shall be entered:
office.
(a) births;
The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a copy of the divorce decree,
as well as the required certificates proving its authenticity, 30 but failed to include a (b) deaths;
copy of the Canadian law on divorce.31 Under this situation, we can, at this point,
simply dismiss the petition for insufficiency of supporting evidence, unless we deem it (c) marriages;
more appropriate to remand the case to the RTC to determine whether the divorce
decree is consistent with the Canadian divorce law.
(d) annulments of marriages;
We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of action, given the Article 26
interests that will be served and the Filipina wifes (Daisylyns) obvious conformity (e) divorces;
with the petition. A remand, at the same time, will allow other interested parties to
oppose the foreign judgment and overcome a petitioners presumptive evidence of a (f) legitimations;
right by proving want of jurisdiction, want of notice to a party, collusion, fraud, or clear
mistake of law or fact. Needless to state, every precaution must be taken to ensure
(g) adoptions;
conformity with our laws before a recognition is made, as the foreign judgment, once
recognized, shall have the effect of res judicata32 between the parties, as provided in
Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.33 (h) acknowledgment of natural children;

In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the practice of reciprocal (i) naturalization; and
recognition of foreign judgments between nations, the res judicata effect of the foreign
judgments of divorce serves as the deeper basis for extending judicial recognition and (j) changes of name.
for considering the alien spouse bound by its terms. This same effect, as discussed
xxxx hearing must be published in a newspaper of general circulation.40 As these basic
jurisdictional requirements have not been met in the present case, we cannot
Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. The local registrars shall keep and preserve in their consider the petition Gerbert filed with the RTC as one filed under Rule 108 of the
offices the following books, in which they shall, respectively make the proper entries Rules of Court.
concerning the civil status of persons:
We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be construed as requiring
(1) Birth and death register; two separate proceedings for the registration of a foreign divorce decree in the civil
registry one for recognition of the foreign decree and another specifically for
cancellation of the entry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The recognition of the
(2) Marriage register, in which shall be entered not only the marriages foreign divorce decree may be made in a Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of
solemnized but also divorces and dissolved marriages. special proceedings (such as that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to
establish the status or right of a party or a particular fact. Moreover, Rule 108 of the
(3) Legitimation, acknowledgment, adoption, change of name and Rules of Court can serve as the appropriate adversarial proceeding 41 by which the
naturalization register. applicability of the foreign judgment can be measured and tested in terms of
jurisdictional infirmities, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake
But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the civil registry, the law of law or fact.
and the submission of the decree by themselves do not ipso facto authorize the
decrees registration. The law should be read in relation with the requirement of a WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition for review on certiorari, and REVERSE the
judicial recognition of the foreign judgment before it can be given res judicata effect. October 30, 2008 decision of the Regional Trial Court of Laoag City, Branch 11, as
In the context of the present case, no judicial order as yet exists recognizing the well as its February 17, 2009 order. We order the REMAND of the case to the trial
foreign divorce decree. Thus, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office acted totally out of court for further proceedings in accordance with our ruling above. Let a copy of this
turn and without authority of law when it annotated the Canadian divorce decree on Decision be furnished the Civil Registrar General. No costs.
Gerbert and Daisylyns marriage certificate, on the strength alone of the foreign
decree presented by Gerbert. SO ORDERED.

Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of the requirement of a court ARTURO D. BRION
recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982, 36 and Department of Associate Justice
Justice Opinion No. 181, series of 198237 both of which required a final order from a
competent Philippine court before a foreign judgment, dissolving a marriage, can be
registered in the civil registry, but it, nonetheless, allowed the registration of the
decree. For being contrary to law, the registration of the foreign divorce decree
without the requisite judicial recognition is patently void and cannot produce any legal
effect.1avvphi1

Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the recognition that the RTC may
extend to the Canadian divorce decree does not, by itself, authorize the cancellation
of the entry in the civil registry. A petition for recognition of a foreign judgment is not
the proper proceeding, contemplated under the Rules of Court, for the cancellation of
entries in the civil registry.

Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that "no entry in a civil register shall be changed
or corrected, without judicial order." The Rules of Court supplements Article 412 of
the Civil Code by specifically providing for a special remedial proceeding by which
entries in the civil registry may be judicially cancelled or corrected. Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court sets in detail the jurisdictional and procedural requirements that must
be complied with before a judgment, authorizing the cancellation or correction, may
be annotated in the civil registry. It also requires, among others, that the verified
petition must be filed with the RTC of the province where the corresponding civil
registry is located;38 that the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any
interest must be made parties to the proceedings;39 and that the time and place for
Republic of the Philippines The Facts
SUPREME COURT
Manila Vicente and Rebecca were married on April 20, 1979 in Sanctuario de San Jose,
Greenhills, Mandaluyong City. On its face, the Marriage Certificate 6 identified
SECOND DIVISION Rebecca, then 26 years old, to be an American citizen7 born in Agaa, Guam, USA to
Cesar Tanchiong Makapugay, American, and Helen Corn Makapugay, American.
G.R. No. 155635 November 7, 2008
On November 27, 1982 in San Francisco, California, Rebecca gave birth to Marie
MARIA REBECCA MAKAPUGAY BAYOT, petitioner, Josephine Alexandra or Alix. From then on, Vicente and Rebecca's marital
vs. relationship seemed to have soured as the latter, sometime in 1996, initiated divorce
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and VICENTE MADRIGAL proceedings in the Dominican Republic. Before the Court of the First Instance of the
BAYOT, respondents. Judicial District of Santo Domingo, Rebecca personally appeared, while Vicente was
duly represented by counsel. On February 22, 1996, the Dominican court issuedCivil
Decree No. 362/96,8 ordering the dissolution of the couple's marriage and "leaving
x-------------------------------------------x them to remarry after completing the legal requirements," but giving them joint
custody and guardianship over Alix. Over a year later, the same court would
G.R. No. 163979 November 7, 2008 issue Civil Decree No. 406/97,9 settling the couple's property relations pursuant to an
Agreement10 they executed on December 14, 1996. Said agreement specifically
MARIA REBECCA MAKAPUGAY BAYOT, petitioner, stated that the "conjugal property which they acquired during their marriage consist[s]
vs. only of the real property and all the improvements and personal properties therein
VICENTE MADRIGAL BAYOT, respondent. contained at 502 Acacia Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa." 11

DECISION Meanwhile, on March 14, 1996, or less than a month from the issuance of Civil
Decree No. 362/96, Rebecca filed with the Makati City RTC a petition 12 dated January
26, 1996, with attachments, for declaration of nullity of marriage, docketed as Civil
VELASCO, JR., J.: Case No. 96-378. Rebecca, however, later moved13 and secured approval14 of the
motion to withdraw the petition.
The Case
On May 29, 1996, Rebecca executed an Affidavit of Acknowledgment 15 stating under
Before us are these two petitions interposed by petitioner Maria Rebecca Makapugay oath that she is an American citizen; that, since 1993, she and Vicente have been
Bayot impugning certain issuances handed out by the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA- living separately; and that she is carrying a child not of Vicente.
G.R. SP No. 68187.
On March 21, 2001, Rebecca filed another petition, this time before the Muntinlupa
In the first, a petition for certiorari1 under Rule 65 and docketed as G.R. No. City RTC, for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage16 on the ground of Vicente's
155635, Rebecca assails and seeks to nullify the April 30, 2002 Resolution2 of the alleged psychological incapacity. Docketed as Civil Case No. 01-094 and entitled
CA, as reiterated in another Resolution of September 2, 2002,3 granting a writ of as Maria Rebecca Makapugay Bayot v. Vicente Madrigal Bayot, the petition was
preliminary injunction in favor of private respondent Vicente Madrigal Bayot staving eventually raffled to Branch 256 of the court. In it, Rebecca also sought the
off the trial court's grant of support pendente lite to Rebecca. dissolution of the conjugal partnership of gains with application for support pendente
lite for her and Alix. Rebecca also prayed that Vicente be ordered to pay a permanent
monthly support for their daughter Alix in the amount of PhP 220,000.
The second, a petition for review under Rule 45,4 docketed G.R. No. 163979, assails
the March 25, 2004 Decision5 of the CA, (1) dismissing Civil Case No. 01-094, a suit
for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage with application for support commenced On June 8, 2001, Vicente filed a Motion to Dismiss 17 on, inter alia, the grounds of lack
by Rebecca against Vicente before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Muntinlupa City; of cause of action and that the petition is barred by the prior judgment of divorce.
and (2) setting aside certain orders and a resolution issued by the RTC in the said Earlier, on June 5, 2001, Rebecca filed and moved for the allowance of her
case. application for support pendente lite.

Per its Resolution of August 11, 2004, the Court ordered the consolidation of both To the motion to dismiss, Rebecca interposed an opposition, insisting on her Filipino
cases. citizenship, as affirmed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), and that, therefore, there
is no valid divorce to speak of.
Meanwhile, Vicente, who had in the interim contracted another marriage, and Rebecca moved24 but was denied reconsideration of the aforementioned April 30,
Rebecca commenced several criminal complaints against each other. Specifically, 2002 resolution. In the meantime, on May 20, 2002, the preliminary injunctive
Vicente filed adultery and perjury complaints against Rebecca. Rebecca, on the other writ25 was issued. Rebecca also moved for reconsideration of this issuance, but the
hand, charged Vicente with bigamy and concubinage. CA, by Resolution dated September 2, 2002, denied her motion.

Ruling of the RTC on the Motion to Dismiss The adverted CA resolutions of April 30, 2002 and September 2, 2002 are presently
and Motion for Support Pendente Lite being assailed in Rebecca's petition for certiorari, docketed under G.R. No. 155635.

On August 8, 2001, the RTC issued an Order18 denying Vicente's motion to dismiss Ruling of the CA
Civil Case No. 01-094 and granting Rebecca's application for support pendente lite,
disposing as follows: Pending resolution of G.R. No. 155635, the CA, by a Decision dated March 25, 2004,
effectively dismissed Civil Case No. 01-094, and set aside incidental orders the RTC
Wherefore, premises considered, the Motion to Dismiss filed by the issued in relation to the case. The fallo of the presently assailed CA Decision reads:
respondent is DENIED. Petitioner's Application in Support of the Motion for
Support Pendente Lite is hereby GRANTED. Respondent is hereby ordered IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Omnibus
to remit the amount of TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND Order dated August 8, 2001 and the Order dated November 20, 2001
PESOS (Php 220,000.00) a month to Petitioner as support for the duration are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one entered DISMISSING Civil
of the proceedings relative to the instant Petition. Case No. 01-094, for failure to state a cause of action. No pronouncement
as to costs.
SO ORDERED.19
SO ORDERED.26
The RTC declared, among other things, that the divorce judgment invoked by Vicente
as bar to the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage is a matter of To the CA, the RTC ought to have granted Vicente's motion to dismiss on the basis of
defense best taken up during actual trial. As to the grant of support pendente lite, the the following premises:
trial court held that a mere allegation of adultery against Rebecca does not operate to
preclude her from receiving legal support.
(1) As held in China Road and Bridge Corporation v. Court of Appeals, the
hypothetical-admission rule applies in determining whether a complaint or petition
Following the denial20 of his motion for reconsideration of the above August 8, 2001 states a cause of action.27 Applying said rule in the light of the essential elements of a
RTC order, Vicente went to the CA on a petition for certiorari, with a prayer for the cause of action,28 Rebecca had no cause of action against Vicente for declaration of
issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary nullity of marriage.
injunction.21 His petition was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 68187.
(2) Rebecca no longer had a legal right in this jurisdiction to have her marriage with
Grant of Writ of Preliminary Injunction by the CA Vicente declared void, the union having previously been dissolved on February 22,
1996 by the foreign divorce decree she personally secured as an American citizen.
On January 9, 2002, the CA issued the desired TRO.22 On April 30, 2002, the Pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, such divorce
appellate court granted, via a Resolution, the issuance of a writ of preliminary restored Vicente's capacity to contract another marriage.
injunction, the decretal portion of which reads:
(3) Rebecca's contention about the nullity of a divorce, she being a Filipino citizen at
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, pending final resolution of the petition the time the foreign divorce decree was rendered, was dubious. Her allegation as to
at bar, let the Writ of Preliminary Injunction be ISSUED in this case, her alleged Filipino citizenship was also doubtful as it was not shown that her father,
enjoining the respondent court from implementing the assailed Omnibus at the time of her birth, was still a Filipino citizen. The Certification of Birth of Rebecca
Order dated August 8, 2001 and the Order dated November 20, 2001, and issued by the Government of Guam also did not indicate the nationality of her father.
from conducting further proceedings in Civil Case No. 01-094, upon the
posting of an injunction bond in the amount of P250,000.00. (4) Rebecca was estopped from denying her American citizenship, having professed
to have that nationality status and having made representations to that effect during
SO ORDERED.23 momentous events of her life, such as: (a) during her marriage; (b) when she applied
for divorce; and (c) when she applied for and eventually secured an American
passport on January 18, 1995, or a little over a year before she initiated the first but
later withdrawn petition for nullity of her marriage (Civil Case No. 96-378) on March THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT THERE
14, 1996. WAS ABUSE OF DISCRETION ON THE PART OF THE TRIAL COURT,
MUCH LESS A GRAVE ABUSE.30
(5) Assuming that she had dual citizenship, being born of a purportedly Filipino father
in Guam, USA which follows the jus soli principle, Rebecca's representation and We shall first address the petition in G.R. No. 163979, its outcome being
assertion about being an American citizen when she secured her foreign divorce determinative of the success or failure of the petition in G.R. No. 155635.
precluded her from denying her citizenship and impugning the validity of the divorce.
Three legal premises need to be underscored at the outset. First, a divorce obtained
Rebecca seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration of the above Decision, but this abroad by an alien married to a Philippine national may be recognized in the
recourse was denied in the equally assailed June 4, 2004 Resolution.29 Hence, Philippines, provided the decree of divorce is valid according to the national law of the
Rebecca's Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45, docketed under G.R. No. foreigner.31 Second, the reckoning point is not the citizenship of the divorcing parties
163979. at birth or at the time of marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is
obtained abroad. And third, an absolute divorce secured by a Filipino married to
The Issues another Filipino is contrary to our concept of public policy and morality and shall not
be recognized in this jurisdiction.32
In G.R. No. 155635, Rebecca raises four (4) assignments of errors as grounds for the
allowance of her petition, all of which converged on the proposition that the CA erred Given the foregoing perspective, the determinative issue tendered in G.R. No.
in enjoining the implementation of the RTC's orders which would have entitled her to 155635, i.e., the propriety of the granting of the motion to dismiss by the appellate
support pending final resolution of Civil Case No. 01-094. court, resolves itself into the questions of: first, whether petitioner Rebecca was a
Filipino citizen at the time the divorce judgment was rendered in the Dominican
Republic on February 22, 1996; and second, whether the judgment of divorce is valid
In G.R. No. 163979, Rebecca urges the reversal of the assailed CA decision and, if so, what are its consequent legal effects?
submitting as follows:
The Court's Ruling
I
The petition is bereft of merit.
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT MENTIONING AND
NOT TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION IN ITS APPRECIATION OF THE
FACTS THE FACT OF PETITIONER'S FILIPINO CITIZENSHIP AS Rebecca an American Citizen in the Purview of This Case
CATEGORICALLY STATED AND ALLEGED IN HER PETITION BEFORE
THE COURT A QUO. There can be no serious dispute that Rebecca, at the time she applied for and
obtained her divorce from Vicente, was an American citizen and remains to be one,
II absent proof of an effective repudiation of such citizenship. The following are
compelling circumstances indicative of her American citizenship: (1) she was born in
Agaa, Guam, USA; (2) the principle of jus soli is followed in this American territory
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN RELYING ONLY ON granting American citizenship to those who are born there; and (3) she was, and may
ANNEXES TO THE PETITION IN RESOLVING THE MATTERS BROUGHT still be, a holder of an American passport.33
BEFORE IT.
And as aptly found by the CA, Rebecca had consistently professed, asserted, and
III represented herself as an American citizen, particularly: (1) during her marriage as
shown in the marriage certificate; (2) in the birth certificate of Alix; and (3) when she
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN FAILING TO CONSIDER secured the divorce from the Dominican Republic. Mention may be made of the
THAT RESPONDENT IS ESTOPPED FROM CLAIMING THAT HIS Affidavit of Acknowledgment34 in which she stated being an American citizen.
MARRIAGE TO PETITIONER HAD ALREADY BEEN DISSOLVED BY
VIRTUE OF HIS SUBSEQUENT AND CONCURRENT ACTS. It is true that Rebecca had been issued by the Bureau of Immigration (Bureau) of
Identification (ID) Certificate No. RC 9778 and a Philippine Passport. On its face, ID
IV Certificate No. RC 9778 would tend to show that she has indeed been recognized as
a Filipino citizen. It cannot be over-emphasized, however, that such recognition was
given only on June 8, 2000 upon the affirmation by the Secretary of Justice of
Rebecca's recognition pursuant to the Order of Recognition issued by Bureau required affirmation only on June 8, 2000. No explanation was given for this patent
Associate Commissioner Edgar L. Mendoza. aberration. There seems to be no error with the date of the issuance of the
1st Indorsement by Secretary of Justice Tuquero as this Court takes judicial notice
For clarity, we reproduce in full the contents of ID Certificate No. RC 9778: that he was the Secretary of Justice from February 16, 2000 to January 22, 2001.
There is, thus, a strong valid reason to conclude that the certificate in question must
be spurious.
To Whom It May Concern:
Under extant immigration rules, applications for recognition of Filipino citizenship
This is to certify that *MARIA REBECCA MAKAPUGAY BAYOT* whose require the affirmation by the DOJ of the Order of Recognition issued by the Bureau.
photograph and thumbprints are affixed hereto and partially covered by the Under Executive Order No. 292, also known as the 1987 Administrative Code,
seal of this Office, and whose other particulars are as follows: specifically in its Title III, Chapter 1, Sec. 3(6), it is the DOJ which is tasked to
"provide immigration and naturalization regulatory services andimplement the laws
Place of Birth: Guam, USA Date of Birth: March 5, 1953 governing citizenship and the admission and stay of aliens." Thus, the confirmation
by the DOJ of any Order of Recognition for Filipino citizenship issued by the Bureau
Sex: female Civil Status: married Color is required.
of Hair: brown
Pertinently, Bureau Law Instruction No. RBR-99-00235 on Recognition as a Filipino
Color of Eyes: brown Distinguishing marks on Citizen clearly provides:
face: none
The Bureau [of Immigration] through its Records Section shall automatically
was - r e c o g n i z e d - as a citizen of the Philippines as per pursuant to furnish the Department of Justice an official copy of its Order of Recognition
Article IV, Section 1, Paragraph 3 of the 1935 Constitution per order of within 72 days from its date of approval by the way of indorsement for
Recognition JBL 95-213 signed by Associate Commissioner Jose B. Lopez confirmation of the Order by the Secretary of Justice pursuant to Executive
dated October 6, 1995, and duly affirmed by Secretary of Justice Artemio G. Order No. 292. No Identification Certificate shall be issued before the
Tuquero in his 1st Indorsement dated June 8, 2000. date of confirmation by the Secretary of Justice and any Identification
Certificate issued by the Bureau pursuant to an Order of Recognition shall
prominently indicate thereon the date of confirmation by the Secretary of
Issued for identification purposes only. NOT VALID for travel purposes. Justice. (Emphasis ours.)

Given under my hand and seal this 11th day of October, 1995 Not lost on the Court is the acquisition by Rebecca of her Philippine passport only on
June 13, 2000, or five days after then Secretary of Justice Tuquero issued the
1st Indorsement confirming the order of recognition. It may be too much to attribute to
(SGD) EDGAR L. MENDOZA coincidence this unusual sequence of close events which, to us, clearly suggests that
ASSO. COMMISSIONER prior to said affirmation or confirmation, Rebecca was not yet recognized as a Filipino
citizen. The same sequence would also imply that ID Certificate No. RC 9778 could
Official Receipt No. 5939988 not have been issued in 1995, as Bureau Law Instruction No. RBR-99-002 mandates
issued at Manila that no identification certificate shall be issued before the date of confirmation by the
dated Oct. 10, 1995 for P 2,000 Secretary of Justice. Logically, therefore, the affirmation or confirmation of Rebecca's
recognition as a Filipino citizen through the 1st Indorsement issued only on June 8,
2000 by Secretary of Justice Tuquero corresponds to the eventual issuance of
From the text of ID Certificate No. RC 9778, the following material facts and dates
Rebecca's passport a few days later, or on June 13, 2000 to be exact.
may be deduced: (1) Bureau Associate Commissioner Jose B. Lopez issued the
Order of Recognition on October 6, 1995; (2) the 1st Indorsement of Secretary of
Justice Artemio G. Tuquero affirming Rebecca's recognition as a Filipino citizen was When Divorce Was Granted Rebecca, She Was not a
issued on June 8, 2000 or almost five years from the date of the order of recognition; Filipino Citizen and Was not Yet Recognized as One
and (3) ID Certificate No. RC 9778 was purportedly issued on October 11, 1995after
the payment of the PhP 2,000 fee on October 10, 1995 per OR No. 5939988. The Court can assume hypothetically that Rebecca is now a Filipino citizen. But from
the foregoing disquisition, it is indubitable that Rebecca did not have that status of, or
What begs the question is, however, how the above certificate could have been at least was not yet recognized as, a Filipino citizen when she secured the February
issued by the Bureau on October 11, 1995 when the Secretary of Justice issued the 22, 1996 judgment of divorce from the Dominican Republic.
The Court notes and at this juncture wishes to point out that Rebecca voluntarily signed before the Notary Public Enrico L. Espanol of the City of Manila, duly
withdrew her original petition for declaration of nullity (Civil Case No. 96-378 of the legalized and authorizing him to subscribe all the acts concerning this
Makati City RTC) obviously because she could not show proof of her alleged Filipino case.37 (Emphasis ours.)
citizenship then. In fact, a perusal of that petition shows that, while bearing the date
January 26, 1996, it was only filed with the RTC on March 14, 1996 or less than a Third, being an American citizen, Rebecca was bound by the national laws of the
month after Rebecca secured, on February 22, 1996, the foreign divorce decree in United States of America, a country which allows divorce. Fourth, the property
question. Consequently, there was no mention about said divorce in the petition. relations of Vicente and Rebecca were properly adjudicated through their
Significantly, the only documents appended as annexes to said original petition were: Agreement38 executed on December 14, 1996 after Civil Decree No. 362/96 was
the Vicente-Rebecca Marriage Contract (Annex "A") and Birth Certificate of Alix rendered on February 22, 1996, and duly affirmed by Civil Decree No. 406/97 issued
(Annex "B"). If indeed ID Certificate No. RC 9778 from the Bureau was truly issued on on March 4, 1997. Veritably, the foreign divorce secured by Rebecca was valid.
October 11, 1995, is it not but logical to expect that this piece of document be
appended to form part of the petition, the question of her citizenship being crucial to
her case? To be sure, the Court has taken stock of the holding in Garcia v. Recio that a foreign
divorce can be recognized here, provided the divorce decree is proven as a fact and
as valid under the national law of the alien spouse.39 Be this as it may, the fact that
As may be noted, the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage under Civil Rebecca was clearly an American citizen when she secured the divorce and that
Case No. 01-094, like the withdrawn first petition, also did not have the ID Certificate divorce is recognized and allowed in any of the States of the Union,40 the presentation
from the Bureau as attachment. What were attached consisted of the following of a copy of foreign divorce decree duly authenticated by the foreign court issuing
material documents: Marriage Contract (Annex "A") and Divorce Decree. It was only said decree is, as here, sufficient.
through her Opposition (To Respondent's Motion to Dismiss dated 31 May
2001)36 did Rebecca attach as Annex "C" ID Certificate No. RC 9778.
It bears to stress that the existence of the divorce decree has not been denied, but in
fact admitted by both parties. And neither did they impeach the jurisdiction of the
At any rate, the CA was correct in holding that the RTC had sufficient basis to dismiss divorce court nor challenge the validity of its proceedings on the ground of collusion,
the petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage as said petition, taken fraud, or clear mistake of fact or law, albeit both appeared to have the opportunity to
together with Vicente's motion to dismiss and Rebecca's opposition to motion, with do so. The same holds true with respect to the decree of partition of their conjugal
their respective attachments, clearly made out a case of lack of cause of action, property. As this Court explained in Roehr v. Rodriguez:
which we will expound later.
Before our courts can give the effect of res judicata to a foreign judgment [of
Validity of Divorce Decree divorce] x x x, it must be shown that the parties opposed to the judgment
had been given ample opportunity to do so on grounds allowed under Rule
Going to the second core issue, we find Civil Decree Nos. 362/96 and 406/97 valid. 39, Section 50 of the Rules of Court (now Rule 39, Section 48, 1997 Rules
of Civil Procedure), to wit:
First, at the time of the divorce, as above elucidated, Rebecca was still to be
recognized, assuming for argument that she was in fact later recognized, as a Filipino SEC. 50. Effect of foreign judgments.--The effect of a judgment of a
citizen, but represented herself in public documents as an American citizen. At the tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to pronounce the
very least, she chose, before, during, and shortly after her divorce, her American judgment is as follows:
citizenship to govern her marital relationship. Second, she secured personally said
divorce as an American citizen, as is evident in the text of the Civil Decrees, which (a) In case of a judgment upon a specific thing, the judgment is
pertinently declared: conclusive upon the title to the thing;

IN THIS ACTION FOR DIVORCE in which the parties expressly submit to (b) In case of a judgment against a person, the judgment is
the jurisdiction of this court, by reason of the existing incompatibility of presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and their
temperaments x x x. The parties MARIA REBECCA M. BAYOT, of United successors in interest by a subsequent title; but the judgment may
States nationality, 42 years of age, married, domiciled and residing at 502 be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to
Acacia Ave., Ayala Alabang, Muntin Lupa, Philippines, x x x, the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
who personally appeared before this court, accompanied by DR. JUAN
ESTEBAN OLIVERO, attorney, x x x and VICENTE MADRIGAL BAYOT, of
Philippine nationality, of 43 years of age, married and domiciled and residing It is essential that there should be an opportunity to challenge the foreign
at 502 Acacia Ave., Ayala Alabang, Muntin Lupa, Filipino, appeared before judgment, in order for the court in this jurisdiction to properly determine its
this court represented by DR. ALEJANDRO TORRENS, attorney, x x x, efficacy. In this jurisdiction, our Rules of Court clearly provide that with
revalidated by special power of attorney given the 19 th of February of 1996, respect to actions in personam, as distinguished from actions in rem, a
foreign judgment |merely constitutes prima facie evidence of the justness of 1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino
the claim of a party and, as such, is subject to proof to the contrary. 41 citizen and a foreigner; and

As the records show, Rebecca, assisted by counsel, personally secured the foreign 2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or
divorce while Vicente was duly represented by his counsel, a certain Dr. Alejandro her to remarry.
Torrens, in said proceedings. As things stand, the foreign divorce decrees rendered
and issued by the Dominican Republic court are valid and, consequently, bind both The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the
Rebecca and Vicente. celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is
obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry.45
Finally, the fact that Rebecca may have been duly recognized as a Filipino citizen by
force of the June 8, 2000 affirmation by Secretary of Justice Tuquero of the October Both elements obtain in the instant case. We need not belabor further the fact of
6, 1995 Bureau Order of Recognition will not, standing alone, work to nullify or marriage of Vicente and Rebecca, their citizenship when they wed, and their
invalidate the foreign divorce secured by Rebecca as an American citizen on professed citizenship during the valid divorce proceedings.
February 22, 1996. For as we stressed at the outset, in determining whether or not a
divorce secured abroad would come within the pale of the country's policy against
absolute divorce, the reckoning point is the citizenship of the parties at the time a Not to be overlooked of course is the fact that Civil Decree No. 406/97 and the
valid divorce is obtained.42 Agreement executed on December 14, 1996 bind both Rebecca and Vicente as
regards their property relations. The Agreement provided that the ex-couple's
conjugal property consisted only their family home, thus:
Legal Effects of the Valid Divorce
9. That the parties stipulate that the conjugal property which they
Given the validity and efficacy of divorce secured by Rebecca, the same shall be acquired during their marriage consists only of the real property and all
given a res judicataeffect in this jurisdiction. As an obvious result of the divorce the improvements and personal properties therein contained at 502 Acacia
decree obtained, the marital vinculumbetween Rebecca and Vicente is considered Avenue, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, covered by TCT No. 168301 dated
severed; they are both freed from the bond of matrimony. In plain language, Vicente Feb. 7, 1990 issued by the Register of Deeds of Makati, Metro Manila
and Rebecca are no longer husband and wife to each other. As the divorce court registered in the name of Vicente M. Bayot, married to Rebecca M. Bayot, x
formally pronounced: "[T]hat the marriage between MARIA REBECCA M. BAYOT x x.46 (Emphasis ours.)
and VICENTE MADRIGAL BAYOT is hereby dissolved x x x leaving them free to
remarry after completing the legal requirements."43
This property settlement embodied in the Agreement was affirmed by the divorce
court which, per its second divorce decree, Civil Decree No. 406/97 dated March 4,
Consequent to the dissolution of the marriage, Vicente could no longer be subject to a 1997, ordered that, "THIRD: That the agreement entered into between the parties
husband's obligation under the Civil Code. He cannot, for instance, be obliged to live dated 14th day of December 1996 in Makati City, Philippines shall survive in this
with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support to Rebecca. 44 Judgment of divorce by reference but not merged and that the parties are hereby
ordered and directed to comply with each and every provision of said
The divorce decree in question also brings into play the second paragraph of Art. 26 agreement."47
of the Family Code, providing as follows:
Rebecca has not repudiated the property settlement contained in the Agreement. She
Art. 26. x x x x is thus estopped by her representation before the divorce court from asserting that
her and Vicente's conjugal property was not limited to their family home in Ayala
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly Alabang.48
celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise No Cause of Action in the Petition for Nullity of Marriage
have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (As amended by E.O. 227)
Upon the foregoing disquisitions, it is abundantly clear to the Court that Rebecca
In Republic v. Orbecido III, we spelled out the twin elements for the applicability of the lacks, under the premises, cause of action. Philippine Bank of Communications v.
second paragraph of Art. 26, thus: Trazo explains the concept and elements of a cause of action, thus:

x x x [W]e state the twin elements for the application of Paragraph 2 of A cause of action is an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal
Article 26 as follows: right of the other. A motion to dismiss based on lack of cause of action
hypothetically admits the truth of the allegations in the complaint. The SO ORDERED.
allegations in a complaint are sufficient to constitute a cause of action
against the defendants if, hypothetically admitting the facts alleged, the court PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
can render a valid judgment upon the same in accordance with the prayer Associate Justice
therein. A cause of action exists if the following elements are present,
namely: (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under
whatever law it arises or is created; (2) an obligation on the part of the
named defendant to respect or not to violate such right; and (3) an act or
omission on the part of such defendant violative of the right of the plaintiff or
constituting a breach of the obligation of the defendant to the plaintiff for
which the latter may maintain an action for recovery of damages. 49

One thing is clear from a perusal of Rebecca's underlying petition before the RTC,
Vicente's motion to dismiss and Rebecca's opposition thereof, with the documentary
evidence attached therein: The petitioner lacks a cause of action for declaration of
nullity of marriage, a suit which presupposes the existence of a marriage.

To sustain a motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action, the movant must show that
the claim for relief does not exist rather than that a claim has been defectively stated
or is ambiguous, indefinite, or uncertain.50 With the valid foreign divorce secured by
Rebecca, there is no more marital tie binding her to Vicente. There is in fine no more
marriage to be dissolved or nullified.

The Court to be sure does not lose sight of the legal obligation of Vicente and
Rebecca to support the needs of their daughter, Alix. The records do not clearly show
how he had discharged his duty, albeit Rebecca alleged that the support given had
been insufficient. At any rate, we do note that Alix, having been born on November
27, 1982, reached the majority age on November 27, 2000, or four months before her
mother initiated her petition for declaration of nullity. She would now be 26 years old.
Hence, the issue of back support, which allegedly had been partly shouldered by
Rebecca, is best litigated in a separate civil action for reimbursement. In this way, the
actual figure for the support of Alix can be proved as well as the earning capacity of
both Vicente and Rebecca. The trial court can thus determine what Vicente owes, if
any, considering that support includes provisions until the child concerned shall have
finished her education.

Upon the foregoing considerations, the Court no longer need to delve into the issue
tendered in G.R. No. 155635, that is, Rebecca's right to support pendente lite. As it
were, her entitlement to that kind of support hinges on the tenability of her petition
under Civil Case No. 01-094 for declaration of nullity of marriage. The dismissal of
Civil Case No. 01-094 by the CA veritably removed any legal anchorage for, and
effectively mooted, the claim for support pendente lite.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 155635 is hereby DISMISSED on
the ground of mootness, while the petition for review in G.R. No. 163979 is
hereby DENIED for lack of merit. Accordingly, the March 25, 2004 Decision and June
4, 2004 Resolution of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 68187 are hereby AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
Republic of the Philippines Sometime in 2000, Cipriano learned from his son that his wife had obtained a divorce
SUPREME COURT decree and then married a certain Innocent Stanley. She, Stanley and her child by
him currently live at 5566 A. Walnut Grove Avenue, San Gabriel, California.
FIRST DIVISION
Cipriano thereafter filed with the trial court a petition for authority to remarry invoking
G.R. No. 154380 October 5, 2005 Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code. No opposition was filed. Finding merit in
the petition, the court granted the same. The Republic, herein petitioner, through the
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), sought reconsideration but it was denied.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
vs.
CIPRIANO ORBECIDO III, Respondent. In this petition, the OSG raises a pure question of law:

DECISION WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT CAN REMARRY UNDER ARTICLE 26 OF THE


FAMILY CODE4
QUISUMBING, J.:
The OSG contends that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code is not applicable
to the instant case because it only applies to a valid mixed marriage; that is, a
Given a valid marriage between two Filipino citizens, where one party is later marriage celebrated between a Filipino citizen and an alien. The proper remedy,
naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a valid divorce decree capacitating him or according to the OSG, is to file a petition for annulment or for legal
her to remarry, can the Filipino spouse likewise remarry under Philippine law? separation.5 Furthermore, the OSG argues there is no law that governs respondents
situation. The OSG posits that this is a matter of legislation and not of judicial
Before us is a case of first impression that behooves the Court to make a definite determination.6
ruling on this apparently novel question, presented as a pure question of law.
For his part, respondent admits that Article 26 is not directly applicable to his case but
In this petition for review, the Solicitor General assails the Decision1 dated May 15, insists that when his naturalized alien wife obtained a divorce decree which
2002, of the Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23 and capacitated her to remarry, he is likewise capacitated by operation of law pursuant to
its Resolution2 dated July 4, 2002 denying the motion for reconsideration. The Section 12, Article II of the Constitution.7
court a quo had declared that herein respondent Cipriano Orbecido III is capacitated
to remarry. The fallo of the impugned Decision reads: At the outset, we note that the petition for authority to remarry filed before the trial
court actually constituted a petition for declaratory relief. In this connection, Section 1,
WHEREFORE, by virtue of the provision of the second paragraph of Art. 26 of the Rule 63 of the Rules of Court provides:
Family Code and by reason of the divorce decree obtained against him by his
American wife, the petitioner is given the capacity to remarry under the Philippine RULE 63
Law.
DECLARATORY RELIEF AND SIMILAR REMEDIES
IT IS SO ORDERED.3
Section 1. Who may file petitionAny person interested under a deed, will, contract
The factual antecedents, as narrated by the trial court, are as follows. or other written instrument, or whose rights are affected by a statute, executive order
or regulation, ordinance, or other governmental regulation may, before breach or
On May 24, 1981, Cipriano Orbecido III married Lady Myros M. Villanueva at the violation thereof, bring an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court to determine
United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Lam-an, Ozamis City. Their marriage any question of construction or validity arising, and for a declaration of his rights or
was blessed with a son and a daughter, Kristoffer Simbortriz V. Orbecido and Lady duties, thereunder.
Kimberly V. Orbecido.
...
In 1986, Ciprianos wife left for the United States bringing along their son Kristoffer. A
few years later, Cipriano discovered that his wife had been naturalized as an The requisites of a petition for declaratory relief are: (1) there must be a justiciable
American citizen. controversy; (2) the controversy must be between persons whose interests are
adverse; (3) that the party seeking the relief has a legal interest in the controversy;
and (4) that the issue is ripe for judicial determination.8
This case concerns the applicability of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 to a marriage Noteworthy, in the Report of the Public Hearings 9 on the Family Code, the Catholic
between two Filipino citizens where one later acquired alien citizenship, obtained a Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) registered the following objections to
divorce decree, and remarried while in the U.S.A. The interests of the parties are also Paragraph 2 of Article 26:
adverse, as petitioner representing the State asserts its duty to protect the institution
of marriage while respondent, a private citizen, insists on a declaration of his capacity 1. The rule is discriminatory. It discriminates against those whose spouses are
to remarry. Respondent, praying for relief, has legal interest in the controversy. The Filipinos who divorce them abroad. These spouses who are divorced will not be able
issue raised is also ripe for judicial determination inasmuch as when respondent to re-marry, while the spouses of foreigners who validly divorce them abroad can.
remarries, litigation ensues and puts into question the validity of his second marriage.
2. This is the beginning of the recognition of the validity of divorce even for Filipino
Coming now to the substantive issue, does Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family citizens. For those whose foreign spouses validly divorce them abroad will also be
Code apply to the case of respondent? Necessarily, we must dwell on how this considered to be validly divorced here and can re-marry. We propose that this be
provision had come about in the first place, and what was the intent of the legislators deleted and made into law only after more widespread consultation. (Emphasis
in its enactment? supplied.)

Brief Historical Background Legislative Intent

On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law Executive Order No. Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations showed that the intent
209, otherwise known as the "Family Code," which took effect on August 3, 1988. of Paragraph 2 of Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a member of
Article 26 thereof states: the Civil Code Revision Committee, is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino
spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no
All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force longer married to the Filipino spouse.
in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be
valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35, 37, and 38. Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the 1985 case of Van Dorn
v. Romillo, Jr.10 The Van Dorn case involved a marriage between a Filipino citizen
On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family Code, Executive and a foreigner. The Court held therein that a divorce decree validly obtained by the
Order No. 227 was likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26, 36, and 39 of the alien spouse is valid in the Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino spouse is
Family Code. A second paragraph was added to Article 26. As so amended, it now capacitated to remarry under Philippine law.
provides:
Does the same principle apply to a case where at the time of the celebration of the
ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the marriage, the parties were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them obtains a foreign
laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, citizenship by naturalization?
shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5)
and (6), 36, 37 and 38. The jurisprudential answer lies latent in the 1998 case of Quita v. Court of
Appeals.11 In Quita, the parties were, as in this case, Filipino citizens when they got
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and married. The wife became a naturalized American citizen in 1954 and obtained a
a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or divorce in the same year. The Court therein hinted, by way of obiter dictum, that a
her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine Filipino divorced by his naturalized foreign spouse is no longer married under
law. (Emphasis supplied) Philippine law and can thus remarry.

On its face, the foregoing provision does not appear to govern the situation presented Thus, taking into consideration the legislative intent and applying the rule of reason,
by the case at hand. It seems to apply only to cases where at the time of the we hold that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 should be interpreted to include cases
celebration of the marriage, the parties are a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The involving parties who, at the time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino
instant case is one where at the time the marriage was solemnized, the parties were citizens, but later on, one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and
two Filipino citizens, but later on, the wife was naturalized as an American citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The Filipino spouse should likewise be allowed to remarry
subsequently obtained a divorce granting her capacity to remarry, and indeed she as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the solemnization of the marriage.
remarried an American citizen while residing in the U.S.A. To rule otherwise would be to sanction absurdity and injustice. Where the
interpretation of a statute according to its exact and literal import would lead to
mischievous results or contravene the clear purpose of the legislature, it should be
construed according to its spirit and reason, disregarding as far as necessary the
letter of the law. A statute may therefore be extended to cases not within the literal as specifically required in Article 26. Otherwise, there would be no evidence sufficient
meaning of its terms, so long as they come within its spirit or intent.12 to declare that he is capacitated to enter into another marriage.

If we are to give meaning to the legislative intent to avoid the absurd situation where Nevertheless, we are unanimous in our holding that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the
the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce Family Code (E.O. No. 209, as amended by E.O. No. 227), should be interpreted to
is no longer married to the Filipino spouse, then the instant case must be deemed as allow a Filipino citizen, who has been divorced by a spouse who had acquired foreign
coming within the contemplation of Paragraph 2 of Article 26. citizenship and remarried, also to remarry. However, considering that in the present
petition there is no sufficient evidence submitted and on record, we are unable to
In view of the foregoing, we state the twin elements for the application of Paragraph 2 declare, based on respondents bare allegations that his wife, who was naturalized as
of Article 26 as follows: an American citizen, had obtained a divorce decree and had remarried an American,
that respondent is now capacitated to remarry. Such declaration could only be made
properly upon respondents submission of the aforecited evidence in his favor.
1. There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a
foreigner; and
ACCORDINGLY, the petition by the Republic of the Philippines is GRANTED. The
assailed Decision dated May 15, 2002, and Resolution dated July 4, 2002, of the
2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to Regional Trial Court of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23, are hereby SET
remarry. ASIDE.

The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration No pronouncement as to costs.
of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by
the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry.
SO ORDERED.
In this case, when Ciprianos wife was naturalized as an American citizen, there was
still a valid marriage that has been celebrated between her and Cipriano. As fate LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
would have it, the naturalized alien wife subsequently obtained a valid divorce Associate Justice
capacitating her to remarry. Clearly, the twin requisites for the application of
Paragraph 2 of Article 26 are both present in this case. Thus Cipriano, the "divorced"
Filipino spouse, should be allowed to remarry.

We are also unable to sustain the OSGs theory that the proper remedy of the Filipino
spouse is to file either a petition for annulment or a petition for legal separation.
Annulment would be a long and tedious process, and in this particular case, not even
feasible, considering that the marriage of the parties appears to have all the badges
of validity. On the other hand, legal separation would not be a sufficient remedy for it
would not sever the marriage tie; hence, the legally separated Filipino spouse would
still remain married to the naturalized alien spouse.

However, we note that the records are bereft of competent evidence duly submitted
by respondent concerning the divorce decree and the naturalization of respondents
wife. It is settled rule that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and
mere allegation is not evidence.13

Accordingly, for his plea to prosper, respondent herein must prove his allegation that
his wife was naturalized as an American citizen. Likewise, before a foreign divorce
decree can be recognized by our own courts, the party pleading it must prove the
divorce as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. 14 Such
foreign law must also be proved as our courts cannot take judicial notice of foreign
laws. Like any other fact, such laws must be alleged and proved. 15 Furthermore,
respondent must also show that the divorce decree allows his former wife to remarry
Republic of the Philippines In 1990, Lucia came back to the Philippines and proposed to petition appellant to
SUPREME COURT join her in Canada. Both agreed to get married, thus they were married on
Manila August 30, 1990 at the Iglesia de Filipina Nacional at Catagdaan, Pilar, Bohol.

SECOND DIVISION On September 8, 1990, Lucia reported back to her work in Canada leaving
appellant Lucio behind.
G.R. No. 145226 February 06, 2004
On August 19, 1991, Lucia filed with the Ontario Court (General Division) a
LUCIO MORIGO y CACHO, petitioner, petition for divorce against appellant which was granted by the court on January
vs. 17, 1992 and to take effect on February 17, 1992.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
On October 4, 1992, appellant Lucio Morigo married Maria Jececha Lumbago 4 at
the Virgen sa Barangay Parish, Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

On September 21, 1993, accused filed a complaint for judicial declaration of


DECISION nullity of marriage in the Regional Trial Court of Bohol, docketed as Civil Case
No. 6020. The complaint seek (sic) among others, the declaration of nullity of
accuseds marriage with Lucia, on the ground that no marriage ceremony
actually took place.

On October 19, 1993, appellant was charged with Bigamy in an Information5 filed
QUISUMBING, J.: by the City Prosecutor of Tagbilaran [City], with the Regional Trial Court of
Bohol.6
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the decision1 dated October 21,
1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, which affirmed the The petitioner moved for suspension of the arraignment on the ground that the civil
judgment2 dated August 5, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bohol, Branch case for judicial nullification of his marriage with Lucia posed a prejudicial question in
4, in Criminal Case No. 8688. The trial court found herein petitioner Lucio Morigo y the bigamy case. His motion was granted, but subsequently denied upon motion for
Cacho guilty beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy and sentenced him to a prison term reconsideration by the prosecution. When arraigned in the bigamy case, which was
of seven (7) months ofprision correccional as minimum to six (6) years and one (1) docketed as Criminal Case No. 8688, herein petitioner pleaded not guilty to the
day of prision mayor as maximum. Also assailed in this petition is the resolution3 of charge. Trial thereafter ensued.
the appellate court, dated September 25, 2000, denying Morigos motion for
reconsideration.
On August 5, 1996, the RTC of Bohol handed down its judgment in Criminal Case No.
8688, as follows:
The facts of this case, as found by the court a quo, are as follows:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court finds accused Lucio
Appellant Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete were boardmates at the house of Morigo y Cacho guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Bigamy and
Catalina Tortor at Tagbilaran City, Province of Bohol, for a period of four (4) sentences him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from Seven (7)
years (from 1974-1978). Months of Prision Correccional as minimum to Six (6) Years and One (1) Day
ofPrision Mayor as maximum.
After school year 1977-78, Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete lost contact with each
other. SO ORDERED.7

In 1984, Lucio Morigo was surprised to receive a card from Lucia Barrete from In convicting herein petitioner, the trial court discounted petitioners claim that his first
Singapore. The former replied and after an exchange of letters, they became marriage to Lucia was null and void ab initio. Following Domingo v. Court of
sweethearts. Appeals,8 the trial court ruled that want of a valid marriage ceremony is not a defense
in a charge of bigamy. The parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume
In 1986, Lucia returned to the Philippines but left again for Canada to work there. that their marriage is void even if such be the fact but must first secure a judicial
While in Canada, they maintained constant communication. declaration of the nullity of their marriage before they can be allowed to marry again.
Anent the Canadian divorce obtained by Lucia, the trial court cited Ramirez v. speak of. Since the date of the nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage and
Gmur,9 which held that the court of a country in which neither of the spouses is since herein petitioner was, in the eyes of the law, never married, he cannot be
domiciled and in which one or both spouses may resort merely for the purpose of convicted beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy.
obtaining a divorce, has no jurisdiction to determine the matrimonial status of the
parties. As such, a divorce granted by said court is not entitled to recognition The present petition raises the following issues for our resolution:
anywhere. Debunking Lucios defense of good faith in contracting the second
marriage, the trial court stressed that following People v. Bitdu,10 everyone is
presumed to know the law, and the fact that one does not know that his act A.
constitutes a violation of the law does not exempt him from the consequences
thereof. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO
APPLY THE RULE THAT IN CRIMES PENALIZED UNDER THE REVISED
Seasonably, petitioner filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA- PENAL CODE, CRIMINAL INTENT IS AN INDISPENSABLE REQUISITE.
G.R. CR No. 20700. COROLLARILY, WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
FAILING TO APPRECIATE [THE] PETITIONERS LACK OF CRIMINAL INTENT
WHEN HE CONTRACTED THE SECOND MARRIAGE.
Meanwhile, on October 23, 1997, or while CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 was pending
before the appellate court, the trial court rendered a decision in Civil Case No. 6020
declaring the marriage between Lucio and Lucia void ab initio since no marriage B.
ceremony actually took place. No appeal was taken from this decision, which then
became final and executory. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
THE RULING IN PEOPLE VS. BITDU (58 PHIL. 817) IS APPLICABLE TO THE
On October 21, 1999, the appellate court decided CA-G.R. CR No. 20700 as follows: CASE AT BAR.

WHEREFORE, finding no error in the appealed decision, the same is hereby C.


AFFIRMED in toto.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FAILING TO
SO ORDERED.11 APPLY THE RULE THAT EACH AND EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE FAVORING
THE INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED MUST BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT.17
In affirming the assailed judgment of conviction, the appellate court stressed that the
subsequent declaration of nullity of Lucios marriage to Lucia in Civil Case No. 6020 To our mind, the primordial issue should be whether or not petitioner committed
could not acquit Lucio. The reason is that what is sought to be punished by Article bigamy and if so, whether his defense of good faith is valid.
34912 of the Revised Penal Code is the act of contracting a second marriage before
the first marriage had been dissolved. Hence, the CA held, the fact that the first The petitioner submits that he should not be faulted for relying in good faith upon the
marriage was void from the beginning is not a valid defense in a bigamy case. divorce decree of the Ontario court. He highlights the fact that he contracted the
second marriage openly and publicly, which a person intent upon bigamy would not
The Court of Appeals also pointed out that the divorce decree obtained by Lucia from be doing. The petitioner further argues that his lack of criminal intent is material to a
the Canadian court could not be accorded validity in the Philippines, pursuant to conviction or acquittal in the instant case. The crime of bigamy, just like other felonies
Article 1513 of the Civil Code and given the fact that it is contrary to public policy in punished under the Revised Penal Code, is mala in se, and hence, good faith and
this jurisdiction. Under Article 1714 of the Civil Code, a declaration of public policy lack of criminal intent are allowed as a complete defense. He stresses that there is a
cannot be rendered ineffectual by a judgment promulgated in a foreign jurisdiction. difference between the intent to commit the crime and the intent to perpetrate the act.
Hence, it does not necessarily follow that his intention to contract a second marriage
is tantamount to an intent to commit bigamy.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the appellate courts decision, contending that
the doctrine in Mendiola v. People,15 allows mistake upon a difficult question of law
(such as the effect of a foreign divorce decree) to be a basis for good faith. For the respondent, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) submits that good faith
in the instant case is a convenient but flimsy excuse. The Solicitor General relies
upon our ruling in Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,18 which held that bigamy can be
On September 25, 2000, the appellate court denied the motion for lack of successfully prosecuted provided all the elements concur, stressing that under Article
merit.16 However, the denial was by a split vote. The ponente of the appellate courts 4019 of the Family Code, a judicial declaration of nullity is a must before a party may
original decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, Justice Eugenio S. Labitoria, joined in the re-marry. Whether or not the petitioner was aware of said Article 40 is of no account
opinion prepared by Justice Bernardo P. Abesamis. The dissent observed that as the as everyone is presumed to know the law. The OSG counters that petitioners
first marriage was validly declared void ab initio, then there was no first marriage to
contention that he was in good faith because he relied on the divorce decree of the this argument to its logical conclusion, for legal purposes, petitioner was not married
Ontario court is negated by his act of filing Civil Case No. 6020, seeking a judicial to Lucia at the time he contracted the marriage with Maria Jececha. The existence
declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lucia. and the validity of the first marriage being an essential element of the crime of
bigamy, it is but logical that a conviction for said offense cannot be sustained where
Before we delve into petitioners defense of good faith and lack of criminal intent, we there is no first marriage to speak of. The petitioner, must, perforce be acquitted of
must first determine whether all the elements of bigamy are present in this case. the instant charge.
In Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis,20 we laid down the elements of bigamy thus:
The present case is analogous to, but must be distinguished from Mercado v.
(1) the offender has been legally married; Tan.25 In the latter case, the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage was
likewise obtained after the second marriage was already celebrated. We held therein
that:
(2) the first marriage has not been legally dissolved, or in case his or her spouse
is absent, the absent spouse has not been judicially declared presumptively
dead; A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is necessary before a
subsequent one can be legally contracted. One who enters into a subsequent
marriage without first obtaining such judicial declaration is guilty of bigamy. This
(3) he contracts a subsequent marriage; and principle applies even if the earlier union is characterized by statutes as "void." 26

(4) the subsequent marriage would have been valid had it not been for the It bears stressing though that in Mercado, the first marriage was actually solemnized
existence of the first. not just once, but twice: first before a judge where a marriage certificate was duly
issued and then again six months later before a priest in religious rites. Ostensibly, at
Applying the foregoing test to the instant case, we note that during the pendency of least, the first marriage appeared to have transpired, although later declared void ab
CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, the RTC of Bohol Branch 1, handed down the following initio.
decision in Civil Case No. 6020, to wit:
In the instant case, however, no marriage ceremony at all was performed by a duly
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered decreeing the authorized solemnizing officer. Petitioner and Lucia Barrete merely signed a marriage
annulment of the marriage entered into by petitioner Lucio Morigo and Lucia contract on their own. The mere private act of signing a marriage contract bears no
Barrete on August 23, 1990 in Pilar, Bohol and further directing the Local Civil semblance to a valid marriage and thus, needs no judicial declaration of nullity. Such
Registrar of Pilar, Bohol to effect the cancellation of the marriage contract. act alone, without more, cannot be deemed to constitute an ostensibly valid marriage
for which petitioner might be held liable for bigamy unless he first secures a judicial
SO ORDERED.21 declaration of nullity before he contracts a subsequent marriage.

The trial court found that there was no actual marriage ceremony performed between The law abhors an injustice and the Court is mandated to liberally construe a penal
Lucio and Lucia by a solemnizing officer. Instead, what transpired was a mere signing statute in favor of an accused and weigh every circumstance in favor of the
of the marriage contract by the two, without the presence of a solemnizing officer. The presumption of innocence to ensure that justice is done. Under the circumstances of
trial court thus held that the marriage is void ab initio, in accordance with Articles the present case, we held that petitioner has not committed bigamy. Further, we also
322 and 423 of the Family Code. As the dissenting opinion in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, find that we need not tarry on the issue of the validity of his defense of good faith or
correctly puts it, "This simply means that there was no marriage to begin with; and lack of criminal intent, which is now moot and academic.
that such declaration of nullity retroacts to the date of the first marriage. In other
words, for all intents and purposes, reckoned from the date of the declaration of the WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision, dated
first marriage as void ab initio to the date of the celebration of the first marriage, the October 21, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, as well as the
accused was, under the eyes of the law, never married." 24 The records show that no resolution of the appellate court dated September 25, 2000, denying herein
appeal was taken from the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. 6020, hence, petitioners motion for reconsideration, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The petitioner
the decision had long become final and executory. Lucio Morigo y Cacho is ACQUITTED from the charge of BIGAMY on the ground that
his guilt has not been proven with moral certainty.
The first element of bigamy as a crime requires that the accused must have been
legally married. But in this case, legally speaking, the petitioner was never married to SO ORDERED.
Lucia Barrete. Thus, there is no first marriage to speak of. Under the principle of
retroactivity of a marriage being declared void ab initio, the two were never married Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.
"from the beginning." The contract of marriage is null; it bears no legal effect. Taking
Republic of the Philippines [T]he Court of First Instance, Hamburg-Blankenese, Branch 513, has ruled
SUPREME COURT through Judge van Buiren of the Court of First Instance on the basis of the
Manila oral proceedings held on 4 Nov. 1997:

SECOND DIVISION The marriage of the Parties contracted on 11 December 1980 before the
Civil Registrar of Hamburg-Altona is hereby dissolved.
G.R. No. 142820 June 20, 2003
The parental custody for the children
WOLFGANG O. ROEHR, petitioner,
vs. Carolynne Roehr, born 18 November 1981
MARIA CARMEN D. RODRIGUEZ, HON. JUDGE JOSEFINA GUEVARA-
SALONGA, Presiding Judge of Makati RTC, Branch 149, respondents. Alexandra Kristine Roehr, born on 25 October 1987

QUISUMBING, J.: is granted to the father.

At the core of the present controversy are issues of (a) grave abuse of discretion The litigation expenses shall be assumed by the Parties. 9
allegedly committed by public respondent and (b) lack of jurisdiction of the regional
trial court, in matters that spring from a divorce decree obtained abroad by petitioner.
In view of said decree, petitioner filed a Second Motion to Dismiss on May 20, 1999
on the ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the
order 1
In this special civil action for certiorari, petitioner assails (a) the dated action or suit as a decree of divorce had already been promulgated dissolving the
September 30, 1999 of public respondent Judge Josefina Guevara-Salonga, marriage of petitioner and private respondent.
Presiding Judge of Makati Regional Trial Court,2 Branch 149, in Civil Case No. 96-
1389 for declaration of nullity of marriage, and (b) the order 3 dated March 31, 2000
denying his motion for reconsideration. The assailed orders partially set aside the trial On July 14, 1999, Judge Guevara-Salonga issued an order granting petitioners
courts order dismissing Civil Case No. 96-1389, for the purpose of resolving issues motion to dismiss. Private respondent filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration, with
relating to the property settlement of the spouses and the custody of their children. a prayer that the case proceed for the purpose of determining the issues of custody of
children and the distribution of the properties between petitioner and private
respondent.
Petitioner Wolfgang O. Roehr, a German citizen and resident of Germany, married
private respondent Carmen Rodriguez, a Filipina, on December 11, 1980 in Hamburg,
Germany. Their marriage was subsequently ratified on February 14, 1981 in Tayasan, On August 18, 1999, an Opposition to the Motion for Partial Reconsideration was filed
Negros Oriental.4 Out of their union were born Carolynne and Alexandra Kristine on by the petitioner on the ground that there is nothing to be done anymore in the instant
November 18, 1981 and October 25, 1987, respectively. case as the marital tie between petitioner Wolfgang Roehr and respondent Ma.
Carmen D. Rodriguez had already been severed by the decree of divorce
promulgated by the Court of First Instance of Hamburg, Germany on December 16,
On August 28, 1996, private respondent filed a petition 5 for declaration of nullity of 1997 and in view of the fact that said decree of divorce had already been recognized
marriage before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City. On February 6, 1997, by the RTC in its order of July 14, 1999, through the implementation of the mandate
petitioner filed a motion to dismiss,6 but it was denied by the trial court in its of Article 26 of the Family Code,10 endowing the petitioner with the capacity to
order7 dated May 28, 1997. remarry under the Philippine law.

On June 5, 1997, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but was also denied in On September 30, 1999, respondent judge issued the assailed order partially setting
an order8 dated August 13, 1997. On September 5, 1997, petitioner filed a petition for aside her order dated July 14, 1999 for the purpose of tackling the issues of property
certiorari with the Court of Appeals. On November 27, 1998, the appellate court relations of the spouses as well as support and custody of their children. The
denied the petition and remanded the case to the RTC. pertinent portion of said order provides:

Meanwhile, petitioner obtained a decree of divorce from the Court of First Instance of Acting on the Motion for Partial Reconsideration of the Order dated July 14,
Hamburg-Blankenese, promulgated on December 16, 1997. 1999 filed by petitioner thru counsel which was opposed by respondent and
considering that the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code was
The decree provides in part: included as an amendment thru Executive Order 227, to avoid the absurd
situation of a Filipino as being still married to his or her alien spouse though
the latter is no longer married to the Filipino spouse because he/she had In every case, the resolution shall state clearly and distinctly the reasons
obtained a divorce abroad which is recognized by his/her national law, and therefor. (Emphasis supplied.)
considering further the effects of the termination of the marriage under
Article 43 in relation to Article 50 and 52 of the same Code, which include Petitioner avers that a courts action on a motion is limited to dismissing the action or
the dissolution of the property relations of the spouses, and the support and claim, denying the motion, or ordering the amendment of the pleading.
custody of their children, the Order dismissing this case is partially set aside
with respect to these matters which may be ventilated in this Court.
Private respondent, on her part, argues that the RTC can validly reconsider its order
dated July 14, 1999 because it had not yet attained finality, given the timely filing of
SO ORDERED.11 (Emphasis supplied.) respondents motion for reconsideration.

Petitioner filed a timely motion for reconsideration on October 19, 1999, which was Pertinent to this issue is Section 3 in relation to Section 7, Rule 37 of the 1997 Rules
denied by respondent judge in an order dated March 31, 2000.12 of Civil Procedure, which provides:

Petitioner ascribes lack of jurisdiction of the trial court and grave abuse of discretion Sec. 3. Action upon motion for new trial or reconsideration.The trial court
on the part of respondent judge. He cites as grounds for his petition the following: may set aside the judgment or final order and grant a new trial, upon such
terms as may be just, or may deny the motion. If the court finds that
1. Partially setting aside the order dated July 14, 1999 dismissing the instant excessive damages have been awarded or that the judgment or final order is
case is not allowed by 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. 13 contrary to the evidence or law, it may amend such judgment or final order
accordingly.
2. Respondent Maria Carmen Rodriguez by her motion for Partial
Reconsideration had recognized and admitted the Divorce Decision obtained Sec. 7. Partial new trial or reconsideration.If the grounds for a motion
by her ex-husband in Hamburg, Germany.14 under this Rule appear to the court to affect the issues as to only a part, or
less than all of the matters in controversy, or only one, or less than all, of the
3. There is nothing left to be tackled by the Honorable Court as there are no parties to it, the court may order a new trial or grant reconsideration as to
conjugal assets alleged in the Petition for Annulment of Marriage and in the such issues if severable without interfering with the judgment or final order
Divorce petition, and the custody of the children had already been awarded upon the rest. (Emphasis supplied.)
to Petitioner Wolfgang Roehr.15
It is clear from the foregoing rules that a judge can order a partial reconsideration of a
Pertinent in this case before us are the following issues: case that has not yet attained finality. Considering that private respondent filed a
motion for reconsideration within the reglementary period, the trial court's decision of
July 14, 1999 can still be modified. Moreover, in Saado v. Court of Appeals,16we
1. Whether or not respondent judge gravely abused her discretion in issuing held that the court could modify or alter a judgment even after the same has become
her order dated September 30, 1999, which partially modified her order executory whenever circumstances transpire rendering its decision unjust and
dated July 14, 1999; and inequitable, as where certain facts and circumstances justifying or requiring such
modification or alteration transpired after the judgment has become final and
2. Whether or not respondent judge gravely abused her discretion when she executory17 and when it becomes imperative in the higher interest of justice or when
assumed and retained jurisdiction over the present case despite the fact that supervening events warrant it.18 In our view, there are even more compelling reasons
petitioner has already obtained a divorce decree from a German court. to do so when, as in this case, judgment has not yet attained finality.

On the first issue, petitioner asserts that the assailed order of respondent judge is Anent the second issue, petitioner claims that respondent judge committed grave
completely inconsistent with her previous order and is contrary to Section 3, Rule 16, abuse of discretion when she partially set aside her order dated July 14, 1999,
Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides: despite the fact that petitioner has already obtained a divorce decree from the Court
of First Instance of Hamburg, Germany.
Sec. 3. Resolution of motion - After the hearing, the court may dismiss the
action or claim, deny the motion, or order the amendment of the pleading. In Garcia v. Recio,19 Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.,20 and Llorente v. Court of
Appeals,21 we consistently held that a divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be
The court shall not defer the resolution of the motion for the reason that the recognized in our jurisdiction, provided such decree is valid according to the national
ground relied upon is not indubitable. law of the foreigner. Relevant to the present case is Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera,22 where
this Court specifically recognized the validity of a divorce obtained by a German
citizen in his country, the Federal Republic of Germany. We held in Pilapil that a two lawyers, private respondent had no counsel to assist her in said
foreign divorce and its legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines insofar as proceedings.27 More importantly, the divorce judgment was issued to petitioner by
respondent is concerned in view of the nationality principle in our civil law on the virtue of the German Civil Code provision to the effect that when a couple lived
status of persons. separately for three years, the marriage is deemed irrefutably dissolved. The decree
did not touch on the issue as to who the offending spouse was. Absent any finding
In this case, the divorce decree issued by the German court dated December 16, that private respondent is unfit to obtain custody of the children, the trial court was
1997 has not been challenged by either of the parties. In fact, save for the issue of correct in setting the issue for hearing to determine the issue of parental custody,
parental custody, even the trial court recognized said decree to be valid and binding, care, support and education mindful of the best interests of the children. This is in
thereby endowing private respondent the capacity to remarry. Thus, the present consonance with the provision in the Child and Youth Welfare Code that the childs
controversy mainly relates to the award of the custody of their two children, Carolynne welfare is always the paramount consideration in all questions concerning his care
and Alexandra Kristine, to petitioner. and custody. 28

As a general rule, divorce decrees obtained by foreigners in other countries are On the matter of property relations, petitioner asserts that public respondent
recognizable in our jurisdiction, but the legal effects thereof, e.g. on custody, care and exceeded the bounds of her jurisdiction when she claimed cognizance of the issue
support of the children, must still be determined by our courts. 23 Before our courts can concerning property relations between petitioner and private respondent. Private
give the effect of res judicata to a foreign judgment, such as the award of custody to respondent herself has admitted in Par. 14 of her petition for declaration of nullity of
petitioner by the German court, it must be shown that the parties opposed to the marriage dated August 26, 1996 filed with the RTC of Makati, subject of this case,
judgment had been given ample opportunity to do so on grounds allowed under Rule that: "[p]etitioner and respondent have not acquired any conjugal or community
39, Section 50 of the Rules of Court (now Rule 39, Section 48, 1997 Rules of Civil property nor have they incurred any debts during their marriage." 29 Herein petitioner
Procedure), to wit: did not contest this averment. Basic is the rule that a court shall grant relief warranted
by the allegations and the proof.30 Given the factual admission by the parties in their
pleadings that there is no property to be accounted for, respondent judge has no
SEC. 50. Effect of foreign judgments. - The effect of a judgment of a tribunal basis to assert jurisdiction in this case to resolve a matter no longer deemed in
of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment is as controversy.
follows:
In sum, we find that respondent judge may proceed to determine the issue regarding
(a) In case of a judgment upon a specific thing, the judgment is conclusive the custody of the two children born of the union between petitioner and private
upon the title to the thing; respondent. Private respondent erred, however, in claiming cognizance to settle the
matter of property relations of the parties, which is not at issue.
(b) In case of a judgment against a person, the judgment is presumptive
evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by WHEREFORE, the orders of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 149, issued
a subsequent title; but the judgment may be repelled by evidence of a want on September 30, 1999 and March 31, 2000 are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.
of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of We hereby declare that the trial court has jurisdiction over the issue between the
law or fact. parties as to who has parental custody, including the care, support and education of
the children, namely Carolynne and Alexandra Kristine Roehr. Let the records of this
It is essential that there should be an opportunity to challenge the foreign judgment, in case be remanded promptly to the trial court for continuation of appropriate
order for the court in this jurisdiction to properly determine its efficacy. In this proceedings. No pronouncement as to costs.
jurisdiction, our Rules of Court clearly provide that with respect to actions in
personam, as distinguished from actions in rem, a foreign judgment merely SO ORDERED.
constitutes prima facie evidence of the justness of the claim of a party and, as such,
is subject to proof to the contrary.24
Bellosillo, (Chairman), and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.
Austria-Martinez, J., on official leave.
In the present case, it cannot be said that private respondent was given the
opportunity to challenge the judgment of the German court so that there is basis for
declaring that judgment as res judicata with regard to the rights of petitioner to have
parental custody of their two children. The proceedings in the German court were
summary. As to what was the extent of private respondents participation in the
proceedings in the German court, the records remain unclear. The divorce decree
itself states that neither has she commented on the proceedings25 nor has she given
her opinion to the Social Services Office.26 Unlike petitioner who was represented by
Republic of the Philippines Starting October 22, 1995, petitioner and respondent lived separately without prior
SUPREME COURT judicial dissolution of their marriage. While the two were still in Australia, their
Manila conjugal assets were divided on May 16, 1996, in accordance with their Statutory
Declarations secured in Australia.9
THIRD DIVISION
On March 3, 1998, petitioner filed a Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of
G.R. No. 138322 October 2, 2001 Marriage10 in the court a quo, on the ground of bigamy respondent allegedly had a
prior subsisting marriage at the time he married her on January 12, 1994. She
claimed that she learned of respondent's marriage to Editha Samson only in
GRACE J. GARCIA, a.k.a. GRACE J. GARCIA-RECIO, petitioner, November, 1997.
vs.
REDERICK A. RECIO, respondents.
In his Answer, respondent averred that, as far back as 1993, he had revealed to
petitioner his prior marriage andits subsequent dissolution.11 He contended that his
PANGANIBAN, J.: first marriage to an Australian citizen had been validly dissolved by a divorce decree
obtained in Australian in 1989;12 thus, he was legally capacitated to marry petitioner in
A divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be recognized in our jurisdiction, provided 1994.1wphi1.nt
such decree is valid according to the national law of the foreigner. However, the
divorce decree and the governing personal law of the alien spouse who obtained the On July 7, 1998 or about five years after the couple's wedding and while the suit for
divorce must be proven. Our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign laws and the declaration of nullity was pending respondent was able to secure a divorce
judgment; hence, like any other facts, both the divorce decree and the national law of decree from a family court in Sydney, Australia because the "marriage ha[d]
the alien must be alleged and proven according to our law on evidence. irretrievably broken down."13

The Case Respondent prayed in his Answer that the Complained be dismissed on the ground
that it stated no cause of action.14 The Office of the Solicitor General agreed with
Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to respondent.15 The court marked and admitted the documentary evidence of both
nullify the January 7, 1999 Decision1 and the March 24, 1999 Order2 of the Regional parties.16 After they submitted their respective memoranda, the case was submitted
Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 28, in Civil Case No. 3026-AF. The assailed for resolution.17
Decision disposed as follows:
Thereafter, the trial court rendered the assailed Decision and Order.
"WHEREFORE, this Court declares the marriage between Grace J. Garcia
and Rederick A. Recio solemnized on January 12, 1994 at Cabanatuan City Ruling of the Trial Court
as dissolved and both parties can now remarry under existing and applicable
laws to any and/or both parties."3
The trial court declared the marriage dissolved on the ground that the divorce issued
in Australia was valid and recognized in the Philippines. It deemed the marriage
The assailed Order denied reconsideration of the above-quoted Decision. ended, but not on the basis of any defect in an essential element of the marriage; that
is, respondent's alleged lack of legal capacity to remarry. Rather, it based its Decision
The Facts on the divorce decree obtained by respondent. The Australian divorce had ended the
marriage; thus, there was no more martial union to nullify or annual.
Rederick A. Recio, a Filipino, was married to Editha Samson, an Australian citizen, in
Malabon, Rizal, on March 1, 1987.4 They lived together as husband and wife in Hence, this Petition.18
Australia. On May 18, 1989,5 a decree of divorce, purportedly dissolving the marriage,
was issued by an Australian family court. Issues

On June 26, 1992, respondent became an Australian citizen, as shown by a Petitioner submits the following issues for our consideration:
"Certificate of Australian Citizenship" issued by the Australian government.6 Petitioner
a Filipina and respondent were married on January 12, 1994 in Our Lady of
Perpetual Help Church in Cabanatuan City.7 In their application for a marriage "I
license, respondent was declared as "single" and "Filipino." 8
The trial court gravely erred in finding that the divorce decree obtained in jurisdiction only upon proof of the existence of (1) the foreign law allowing absolute
Australia by the respondent ipso facto terminated his first marriage to Editha divorce and (2) the alleged divorce decree itself. She adds that respondent miserably
Samson thereby capacitating him to contract a second marriage with the failed to establish these elements.
petitioner.
Petitioner adds that, based on the first paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,
"2 marriages solemnized abroad are governed by the law of the place where they were
celebrated (the lex loci celebrationist). In effect, the Code requires the presentation of
The failure of the respondent, who is now a naturalized Australian, to the foreign law to show the conformity of the marriage in question to the legal
present a certificate of legal capacity to marry constitutes absence of a requirements of the place where the marriage was performed.
substantial requisite voiding the petitioner' marriage to the respondent.
At the outset, we lay the following basic legal principles as the take-off points for our
"3 discussion. Philippine law does not provide for absolute divorce; hence, our courts
cannot grant it.21 A marriage between two Filipinos cannot be dissolved even by a
divorce obtained abroad, because of Articles 1522 and 1723 of the Civil Code.24 In
The trial court seriously erred in the application of Art. 26 of the Family Code mixed marriages involving a Filipino and a foreigner, Article 26 25 of the Family Code
in this case. allows the former to contract a subsequent marriage in case the divorce is "validly
obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry." 26 A divorce
"4 obtained abroad by a couple, who are both aliens, may be recognized in the
Philippines, provided it is consistent with their respective national laws. 27
The trial court patently and grievously erred in disregarding Arts. 11, 13, 21,
35, 40, 52 and 53 of the Family Code as the applicable provisions in this A comparison between marriage and divorce, as far as pleading and proof are
case. concerned, can be made. Van Dorn v. Romillo Jr. decrees that "aliens may obtain
divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid
"5 according to their national law."28 Therefore, before a foreign divorce decree can be
recognized by our courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce as a fact and
demonstrate its conformity to the foreign law allowing it. 29 Presentation solely of the
The trial court gravely erred in pronouncing that the divorce gravely erred in divorce decree is insufficient.
pronouncing that the divorce decree obtained by the respondent in
Australia ipso facto capacitated the parties to remarry, without first securing
Divorce as a Question of Fact
a recognition of the judgment granting the divorce decree before our
courts."19
Petitioner insists that before a divorce decree can be admitted in evidence, it must
The Petition raises five issues, but for purposes of this Decision, we shall concentrate first comply with the registration requirements under Articles 11, 13 and 52 of the
on two pivotal ones: (1) whether the divorce between respondent and Editha Samson Family Code. These articles read as follows:
was proven, and (2) whether respondent was proven to be legally capacitated to
marry petitioner. Because of our ruling on these two, there is no more necessity to "ART. 11. Where a marriage license is required, each of the contracting
take up the rest. parties shall file separately a sworn application for such license with the
proper local civil registrar which shall specify the following:
The Court's Ruling
xxx xxx xxx
The Petition is partly meritorious.
"(5) If previously married, how, when and where the previous marriage was
First Issue: dissolved or annulled;

Proving the Divorce Between Respondent and Editha Samson xxx xxx xxx

Petitioner assails the trial court's recognition of the divorce between respondent and "ART. 13. In case either of the contracting parties has been previously
Editha Samson. Citing Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee,20 petitioner argues that the married, the applicant shall be required to furnish, instead of the birth of
divorce decree, like any other foreign judgment, may be given recognition in this baptismal certificate required in the last preceding article, the death
certificate of the deceased spouse or the judicial decree of annulment or Burden of Proving Australian Law
declaration of nullity of his or her previous marriage. x x x.
Respondent contends that the burden to prove Australian divorce law falls upon
"ART. 52. The judgment of annulment or of absolute nullity of the marriage, petitioner, because she is the party challenging the validity of a foreign judgment. He
the partition and distribution of the properties of the spouses, and the contends that petitioner was satisfied with the original of the divorce decree and was
delivery of the children's presumptive legitimes shall be recorded in the cognizant of the marital laws of Australia, because she had lived and worked in that
appropriate civil registry and registries of property; otherwise, the same shall country for quite a long time. Besides, the Australian divorce law is allegedly known
not affect their persons." by Philippine courts: thus, judges may take judicial notice of foreign laws in the
exercise of sound discretion.
Respondent, on the other hand, argues that the Australian divorce decree is a public
document a written official act of an Australian family court. Therefore, it requires no We are not persuaded. The burden of proof lies with "the party who alleges the
further proof of its authenticity and due execution. existence of a fact or thing necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action." 41 In
civil cases, plaintiffs have the burden of proving the material allegations of the
Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before a foreign judgment is given complaint when those are denied by the answer; and defendants have the burden of
presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be presented and admitted in proving the material allegations in their answer when they introduce new
evidence.30 A divorce obtained abroad is proven by the divorce decree itself. Indeed matters.42 Since the divorce was a defense raised by respondent, the burden of
the best evidence of a judgment is the judgment itself. 31 The decree purports to be a proving the pertinent Australian law validating it falls squarely upon him.
written act or record of an act of an officially body or tribunal of a foreign country. 32
It is well-settled in our jurisdiction that our courts cannot take judicial notice of foreign
Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other hand, a writing or document may laws.43 Like any other facts, they must be alleged and proved. Australian marital laws
be proven as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an official are not among those matters that judges are supposed to know by reason of their
publication or (2) a copy thereof attested33 by the officer having legal custody of the judicial function.44 The power of judicial notice must be exercised with caution, and
document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) every reasonable doubt upon the subject should be resolved in the negative.
accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the
Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept Second Issue:
and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office.34
Respondent's Legal Capacity to Remarry
The divorce decree between respondent and Editha Samson appears to be an
authentic one issued by an Australian family court.35 However, appearance is not Petitioner contends that, in view of the insufficient proof of the divorce, respondent
sufficient; compliance with the aforemetioned rules on evidence must be was legally incapacitated to marry her in 1994.
demonstrated.
Hence, she concludes that their marriage was void ab initio.
Fortunately for respondent's cause, when the divorce decree of May 18, 1989 was
submitted in evidence, counsel for petitioner objected, not to its admissibility, but only
to the fact that it had not been registered in the Local Civil Registry of Cabanatuan Respondent replies that the Australian divorce decree, which was validly admitted in
City.36 The trial court ruled that it was admissible, subject to petitioner's evidence, adequately established his legal capacity to marry under Australian law.
qualification.37Hence, it was admitted in evidence and accorded weight by the judge.
Indeed, petitioner's failure to object properly rendered the divorce decree admissible Respondent's contention is untenable. In its strict legal sense, divorce means the
as a written act of the Family Court of Sydney, Australia.38 legal dissolution of a lawful union for a cause arising after marriage. But divorces are
of different types. The two basic ones are (1) absolute divorce or a vinculo
Compliance with the quoted articles (11, 13 and 52) of the Family Code is not matrimonii and (2) limited divorce or a mensa et thoro. The first kind terminates the
necessary; respondent was no longer bound by Philippine personal laws after he marriage, while the second suspends it and leaves the bond in full force.45 There is no
acquired Australian citizenship in 1992.39 Naturalization is the legal act of adopting an showing in the case at bar which type of divorce was procured by respondent.
alien and clothing him with the political and civil rights belonging to a
citizen.40 Naturalized citizens, freed from the protective cloak of their former states, Respondent presented a decree nisi or an interlocutory decree a conditional or
don the attires of their adoptive countries. By becoming an Australian, respondent provisional judgment of divorce. It is in effect the same as a separation from bed and
severed his allegiance to the Philippines and the vinculum juris that had tied him to board, although an absolute divorce may follow after the lapse of the prescribed
Philippine personal laws. period during which no reconciliation is effected.46
Even after the divorce becomes absolute, the court may under some foreign statutes Citizenship of Rederick A. Recto;58 (d) Exhibit "4" Decree Nisi of Dissolution of
and practices, still restrict remarriage. Under some other jurisdictions, remarriage may Marriage in the Family Court of Australia Certificate; 59 and Exhibit "5" Statutory
be limited by statute; thus, the guilty party in a divorce which was granted on the Declaration of the Legal Separation Between Rederick A. Recto and Grace J. Garcia
ground of adultery may be prohibited from remarrying again. The court may allow a Recio since October 22, 1995.60
remarriage only after proof of good behavior.47
Based on the above records, we cannot conclude that respondent, who was then a
On its face, the herein Australian divorce decree contains a restriction that reads: naturalized Australian citizen, was legally capacitated to marry petitioner on January
12, 1994. We agree with petitioner's contention that the court a quo erred in finding
"1. A party to a marriage who marries again before this decree becomes that the divorce decree ipso facto clothed respondent with the legal capacity to
absolute (unless the other party has died) commits the offence of bigamy." 48 remarry without requiring him to adduce sufficient evidence to show the Australian
personal law governing his status; or at the very least, to prove his legal capacity to
contract the second marriage.
This quotation bolsters our contention that the divorce obtained by respondent may
have been restricted. It did not absolutely establish his legal capacity to remarry
according to his national law. Hence, we find no basis for the ruling of the trial court, Neither can we grant petitioner's prayer to declare her marriage to respondent null
which erroneously assumed that the Australian divorce ipso facto restored and void on the ground of bigamy. After all, it may turn out that under Australian law,
respondent's capacity to remarry despite the paucity of evidence on this matter. he was really capacitated to marry petitioner as a direct result of the divorce decree.
Hence, we believe that the most judicious course is to remand this case to the trial
court to receive evidence, if any, which show petitioner's legal capacity to marry
We also reject the claim of respondent that the divorce decree raises a disputable petitioner. Failing in that, then the court a quo may declare a nullity of the parties'
presumption or presumptive evidence as to his civil status based on Section 48, Rule marriage on the ground of bigamy, there being already in evidence two existing
3949 of the Rules of Court, for the simple reason that no proof has been presented on marriage certificates, which were both obtained in the Philippines, one in Malabon,
the legal effects of the divorce decree obtained under Australian laws. Metro Manila dated March 1, 1987 and the other, in Cabanatuan City dated January
12, 1994.
Significance of the Certificate of Legal Capacity
WHEREFORE, in the interest of orderly procedure and substantial justice,
Petitioner argues that the certificate of legal capacity required by Article 21 of the we REMAND the case to the court a quo for the purpose of receiving evidence which
Family Code was not submitted together with the application for a marriage license. conclusively show respondent's legal capacity to marry petitioner; and failing in that,
According to her, its absence is proof that respondent did not have legal capacity to of declaring the parties' marriage void on the ground of bigamy, as above discussed.
remarry. No costs.

We clarify. To repeat, the legal capacity to contract marriage is determined by the SO ORDERED.
national law of the party concerned. The certificate mentioned in Article 21 of the
Family Code would have been sufficient to establish the legal capacity of respondent, Melo, Puno, Vitug, and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
had he duly presented it in court. A duly authenticated and admitted certificate is
prima facie evidence of legal capacity to marry on the part of the alien applicant for a
marriage license.50

As it is, however, there is absolutely no evidence that proves respondent's legal


capacity to marry petitioner. A review of the records before this Court shows that only
the following exhibits were presented before the lower court: (1) for petitioner: (a)
Exhibit "A" Complaint;51 (b) Exhibit "B" Certificate of Marriage Between Rederick
A. Recto (Filipino-Australian) and Grace J. Garcia (Filipino) on January 12, 1994 in
Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija;52(c) Exhibit "C" Certificate of Marriage Between
Rederick A. Recio (Filipino) and Editha D. Samson (Australian) on March 1, 1987 in
Malabon, Metro Manila;53 (d) Exhibit "D" Office of the City Registrar of Cabanatuan
City Certification that no information of annulment between Rederick A. Recto and
Editha D. Samson was in its records;54 and (e) Exhibit "E" Certificate of Australian
Citizenship of Rederick A. Recto;55 (2) for respondent: (Exhibit "1" Amended
Answer;56 (b) Exhibit "S" Family Law Act 1975 Decree Nisi of Dissolution of
Marriage in the Family Court of Australia;57 (c) Exhibit "3" Certificate of Australian
Republic of the Philippines proceeding and that the dissolution of said marriage was legally founded on and
SUPREME COURT authorized by the applicable law of that foreign jurisdiction. 4
Manila
On June 27, 1986, or more than five months after the issuance of the divorce decree,
SECOND DIVISION private respondent filed two complaints for adultery before the City Fiscal of Manila
alleging that, while still married to said respondent, petitioner "had an affair with a
G.R. No. 80116 June 30, 1989 certain William Chia as early as 1982 and with yet another man named Jesus Chua
sometime in 1983". Assistant Fiscal Jacinto A. de los Reyes, Jr., after the
corresponding investigation, recommended the dismissal of the cases on the ground
IMELDA MANALAYSAY PILAPIL, petitioner, of insufficiency of evidence. 5 However, upon review, the respondent city fiscal
vs. approved a resolution, dated January 8, 1986, directing the filing of two complaints for
HON. CORONA IBAY-SOMERA, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the adultery against the petitioner. 6 The complaints were accordingly filed and were
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XXVI; HON. LUIS C. VICTOR, in his eventually raffled to two branches of the Regional Trial Court of Manila. The case
capacity as the City Fiscal of Manila; and ERICH EKKEHARD entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Imelda Pilapil and William Chia", docketed as
GEILING, respondents. Criminal Case No. 87-52435, was assigned to Branch XXVI presided by the
respondent judge; while the other case, "People of the Philippines vs. Imelda Pilapil
and James Chua", docketed as Criminal Case No. 87-52434 went to the sala of
Judge Leonardo Cruz, Branch XXV, of the same court. 7
REGALADO, J.:
On March 14, 1987, petitioner filed a petition with the Secretary of Justice asking that
An ill-starred marriage of a Filipina and a foreigner which ended in a foreign absolute the aforesaid resolution of respondent fiscal be set aside and the cases against her
divorce, only to be followed by a criminal infidelity suit of the latter against the former, be dismissed. 8 A similar petition was filed by James Chua, her co-accused in
provides Us the opportunity to lay down a decisional rule on what hitherto appears to Criminal Case No. 87-52434. The Secretary of Justice, through the Chief State
be an unresolved jurisdictional question. Prosecutor, gave due course to both petitions and directed the respondent city fiscal
to inform the Department of Justice "if the accused have already been arraigned and
if not yet arraigned, to move to defer further proceedings" and to elevate the entire
On September 7, 1979, petitioner Imelda Manalaysay Pilapil, a Filipino citizen, and records of both cases to his office for review. 9
private respondent Erich Ekkehard Geiling, a German national, were married before
the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths at Friedensweiler in the Federal
Republic of Germany. The marriage started auspiciously enough, and the couple Petitioner thereafter filed a motion in both criminal cases to defer her arraignment and
to suspend further proceedings thereon. 10 As a consequence, Judge Leonardo Cruz
lived together for some time in Malate, Manila where their only child, Isabella Pilapil
Geiling, was born on April 20, 1980. 1 suspended proceedings in Criminal Case No. 87-52434. On the other hand,
respondent judge merely reset the date of the arraignment in Criminal Case No. 87-
52435 to April 6, 1987. Before such scheduled date, petitioner moved for the
Thereafter, marital discord set in, with mutual recriminations between the spouses, cancellation of the arraignment and for the suspension of proceedings in said
followed by a separation de facto between them. Criminal Case No. 87-52435 until after the resolution of the petition for review then
pending before the Secretary of Justice. 11 A motion to quash was also filed in the
After about three and a half years of marriage, such connubial disharmony same case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, 12 which motion was denied by the
eventuated in private respondent initiating a divorce proceeding against petitioner in respondent judge in an order dated September 8, 1987. The same order also directed
Germany before the Schoneberg Local Court in January, 1983. He claimed that there the arraignment of both accused therein, that is, petitioner and William Chia. The
was failure of their marriage and that they had been living apart since April, 1982. 2 latter entered a plea of not guilty while the petitioner refused to be arraigned. Such
refusal of the petitioner being considered by respondent judge as direct contempt,
she and her counsel were fined and the former was ordered detained until she
Petitioner, on the other hand, filed an action for legal separation, support and
submitted herself for arraignment. 13 Later, private respondent entered a plea of not
separation of property before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XXXII, on
guilty. 14
January 23, 1983 where the same is still pending as Civil Case No. 83-15866. 3

On October 27, 1987, petitioner filed this special civil action for certiorari and
On January 15, 1986, Division 20 of the Schoneberg Local Court, Federal Republic of
prohibition, with a prayer for a temporary restraining order, seeking the annulment of
Germany, promulgated a decree of divorce on the ground of failure of marriage of the
the order of the lower court denying her motion to quash. The petition is anchored on
spouses. The custody of the child was granted to petitioner. The records show that
the main ground that the court is without jurisdiction "to try and decide the charge of
under German law said court was locally and internationally competent for the divorce
adultery, which is a private offense that cannot be prosecuted de officio (sic), since
the purported complainant, a foreigner, does not qualify as an offended spouse offended party being merely the complaining witness therein. However, in the so-
having obtained a final divorce decree under his national law prior to his filing the called "private crimes" or those which cannot be prosecuted de oficio, and the present
criminal complaint." 15 prosecution for adultery is of such genre, the offended spouse assumes a more
predominant role since the right to commence the action, or to refrain therefrom, is a
On October 21, 1987, this Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the matter exclusively within his power and option.
respondents from implementing the aforesaid order of September 8, 1987 and from
further proceeding with Criminal Case No. 87-52435. Subsequently, on March 23, This policy was adopted out of consideration for the aggrieved party who might prefer
1988 Secretary of Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoez acted on the aforesaid petitions for to suffer the outrage in silence rather than go through the scandal of a public
review an