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On 28 May 2001, the case was referred by the Office of the Chief

Justice to then Acting Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepaño for
appropriate action. On 8 June 2001, the Office of the Court
Administrator required respondent judge to comment.

In his Comment dated 5 July 2001, respondent judge averred that he
was requested by a certain Juan Arroyo on 15 February 2000 to
solemnize the marriage of the parties on 17 February 2000. Having
been assured that all the documents to the marriage were complete,
FIRST DIVISION he agreed to solemnize the marriage in his sala at the Municipal Trial
Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur. However, on 17 February 2000,
A.M. No. MTJ-02-1390 April 11, 2002 Arroyo informed him that Orobia had a difficulty walking and could
(Formerly IPI No. 01-1049-MTJ) not stand the rigors of travelling to Balatan which is located almost
25 kilometers from his residence in Nabua. Arroyo then requested if
respondent judge could solemnize the marriage in Nabua, to which
MERCEDITA MATA ARAÑES, petitioner,
request he acceded.
vs.
JUDGE SALVADOR M. OCCIANO, respondent.
Respondent judge further avers that before he started the ceremony,
he carefully examined the documents submitted to him by petitioner.
PUNO, J.:
When he discovered that the parties did not possess the requisite
marriage license, he refused to solemnize the marriage and
Petitioner Mercedita Mata Arañes charges respondent judge with suggested its resetting to another date. However, due to the earnest
Gross Ignorance of the Law via a sworn Letter-Complaint dated 23 pleas of the parties, the influx of visitors, and the delivery of
May 2001. Respondent is the Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial provisions for the occasion, he proceeded to solemnize the marriage
Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur. Petitioner alleges that on 17 out of human compassion. He also feared that if he reset the
February 2000, respondent judge solemnized her marriage to her wedding, it might aggravate the physical condition of Orobia who just
late groom Dominador B. Orobia without the requisite marriage suffered from a stroke. After the solemnization, he reiterated the
license and at Nabua, Camarines Sur which is outside his territorial necessity for the marriage license and admonished the parties that
jurisdiction. their failure to give it would render the marriage void. Petitioner and
Orobia assured respondent judge that they would give the license to
They lived together as husband and wife on the strength of this him in the afternoon of that same day. When they failed to comply,
marriage until her husband passed away. However, since the respondent judge followed it up with Arroyo but the latter only gave
marriage was a nullity, petitioner's right to inherit the "vast properties" him the same reassurance that the marriage license would be
left by Orobia was not recognized. She was likewise deprived of delivered to his sala at the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan,
receiving the pensions of Orobia, a retired Commodore of the Camarines Sur.
Philippine Navy.1âwphi1.nêt
Respondent judge vigorously denies that he told the contracting
Petitioner prays that sanctions be imposed against respondent judge parties that their marriage is valid despite the absence of a marriage
for his illegal acts and unethical misrepresentations which allegedly license. He attributes the hardships and embarrassment suffered by
caused her so much hardships, embarrassment and sufferings. the petitioner as due to her own fault and negligence.

petitioner filed her Affidavit of Desistance Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980. apply. which while it may not Registrar of Nabua. the Office of the Local Civil marriages. may officiate in Contract of the parties since it has no record of their marriage. proficient in the law they are sworn to P5. regardless of the venue.00 was recommended to be imposed on respondent judge. It is We agree. We further held The Office of the Court Administrator.1âwphi1. In Navarro vs. it appears that petitioner and jurisdictional area of the municipalities of Sta. a Clerk of said office. Surigao del Norte which did not fall within the Reviewing the records of the case. she realized her own shortcomings and is Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta. there is a resultant irregularity in the formal so the latter could communicate with the Office of the Local Civil requisite laid down in Article 3. he solemnized a wedding at his residence in the municipality of Dapa. if not license and for doing so outside his territorial jurisdiction.P.On 12 September 2001. as long as the requisites Registrar of Nabua. found the respondent judge guilty of solemnizing a marriage without a duly issued marriage "The judiciary should be composed of persons who. They should be skilled and competent in understanding and applying the law. officiating official to administrative liability. It was stamped in this Application that the marriage license shall be issued on 17 January 2000. Respondent judge wrote the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua. are at least. However. However. more than the ordinary laymen. imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles .nêt was because of her prodding and reassurances that he eventually solemnized the same. petitioner sought the assistance of respondent judge jurisdiction. Likewise.) Grace T. Surigao del now bothered by her conscience. the dated 28 August 2001 with the Office of the Court Administrator. after reading the Comment Domagtoy.000. Escobal. may subject the license.1 respondent judge held office and had jurisdiction in the filed by respondent judge. neither petitioner nor "A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local Orobia claimed it. In a letter dated 9 May 2001. or B. Camarines Sur for the issuance of her marriage affect the validity of the marriage."2 (Emphasis Camarines Sur. we suspended respondent judge for six (6) months on Death Certificate of his previous spouse. administrative case out of rage. judges who are dated 7 May 2001 that it cannot issue a true copy of the Marriage appointed to specific jurisdictions. informed respondent judge that their office cannot issue the marriage license due to the failure of Orobia to submit the In said case. 129. ordinance to marry the faithful is authorized to do so only within the area or diocese or place allowed by his Bishop. Camarines Sur issued another Certification of the law are complied with. Monica-Burgos. She authority of the regional trial court judges and judges of inferior attested that respondent judge initially refused to solemnize her courts to solemnize marriages is confined to their territorial marriage due to the want of a duly issued marriage license and that it jurisdiction as defined by the Supreme Court. Norte. An It also appears that the Office of the Civil Registrar General issued a appellate court Justice or a Justice of this Court has Certification that it has no record of such marriage that allegedly took jurisdiction over the entire Philippines to solemnize place on 17 February 2000. However. the ground that his act of solemnizing a marriage outside his jurisdiction constitutes gross ignorance of the law. supplied. Monica and Burgos. weddings only within said areas and not beyond. However. Orobia filed their Application for Marriage License on 5 January We held that: 2000. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his court's On 8 May 2001. in its Report and that: Recommendation dated 15 November 2000. A fine of experts. She confessed that she filed this The case at bar is not without precedent.

Otherwise. Camarines Sur. Camarines Sur therefore is contrary to law and subjects him to administrative liability. This Court has consistently held in a catena of cases that the withdrawal of the complaint does not necessarily have the legal effect of exonerating respondent from disciplinary action.1âwphi1. limited to the municipality of Balatan. condone a detestable act. In People vs. undermine the trust character of a public office and impair the integrity and dignity of this Court as a disciplining authority. and that the subsequent issuance of such license cannot render valid or even add an iota of validity to the marriage. Camarines Sur. Otherwise. would be undermined. the prompt and fair administration of justice. for Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan. respondent Judge Salvador M. for one reason or another.5 Disciplinary actions of this nature do not involve purely private or personal matters. Presiding magistrates may at times make mistakes in judgment. They can not be made to depend upon the will of every complainant who may. respondent judge acted in gross ignorance of the law. as well as the discipline of court personnel. Respondent judge did not possess such authority when he solemnized the marriage of petitioner. x x x While WHEREFORE. Occiano.00 pesos with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of ignorance of elementary provisions of law. In this respect. the territorial jurisdiction of respondent judge is SO ORDERED. in an area which the same or similar offense in the future will be dealt with more has greatly prejudiced the status of married persons. In the case at bar. the respondent judge exhibited fined P5.6 . His act of solemnizing the marriage of petitioner and Orobia in Nabua."3 severely. that power may be put to naught. We cannot be bound by the unilateral act of a complainant in a matter which involves the Court's constitutional power to discipline judges. he cannot avoid liability for violating the law on marriage.000. it is the marriage license that gives the solemnizing officer the authority to solemnize a marriage. His act may not amount to gross ignorance of the law for he allegedly solemnized the marriage out of human compassion but nonetheless. Except in cases provided by law. Lara. Respondent judge should also be faulted for solemnizing a marriage without the requisite marriage license. like the ones involved in the instant case.nêt Respondent judge cannot be exculpated despite the Affidavit of Desistance filed by petitioner. is which they are not penalized.4 we held that a marriage which preceded the issuance of the marriage license is void.

c. Samar. . J.P. Margarita-Tarangan. Beso charged Judge Juan J. complainant. 1997. to inquire. . In a Complaint-Affidavit dated December 12. Yman). Solemnizing our marriage outside his jurisdiction. 1. I was informed by Judge vs. That to my surprise. Daguman. That upon advisement of the Local Civil Registrar. BESO. 2000 f. . I wrote (Formerly OCA-IPI No. with solemnizing marriage outside of his jurisdiction and of negligence in not retaining a copy and not registering the marriage contract with the office of the Local Registrar alleging — 2. The civil marriage of complainant Zenaida Beso and Bernardito Yman had to be solemnized by respondent in Calbayog City though outside his territory as municipal . g.: i. Samar. . so what I did was I went to Calbayog City and wrote the City Civil Registrar to inquire my Marriage Contract. . d. e. That the ceremony was attended by PACIFICO In his Comment. That after our wedding.R. 99-1211 January 28. Sta. Subdivision in Calbayog City. ZENAIDA S. MCTC. I and my fiancee (sic) BERNARDITO A. Daguman that all the copies of the Marriage Contract were Judge JUAN DAGUMAN. b. 1. Negligence in not retaining a copy and not registering our marriage before the office of the Local Civil Registrar. I was informed by the Local Civil Registrar of Calbayog City that my marriage was not FIRST DIVISION registered. That not copy was retained by Judge Daguman. That to my second surprise. respondent. respondent Judge averred that: MAGHACOT who acted as our principal sponsor and spouses RAMON DEAN and TERESITA DEAN. 98-471-MTJ) Judge Juan Daguman. That I believe that the respondent judge committed acts In this administrative complaint. for comment. . Pagsanjan. YNARES-SANTIAGO. 1997. h. That I smell something fishy. a. taken by Oloy (Bernardito A. respondent Judge stands charged prejudicial to my interest such as: with Neglect of Duty and Abuse of Authority. No. . . my husband BERNARDITO YMAN abandoned me without any reason at all. Jr. YMAN got married and our marriage was solemnized by judge (sic) Juan Daguman in his residence of The Affidavit-Complaint was thereafter referred to respondent Judge J. .M. Zenaida S. That on August 28. A.

1997 marriage her husband.1. second. Mr. 1. third. respondent left the three and would entail serious problems of finding a remaining copies on top of the desk in his private solemnizing officer and another pair of witnesses or office where the marriage ceremonies were held. respondent realized. last. all the three last another publication of notice. Panglunsod [member] Ramon Dean were already with them as sponsors. Mr. After a few days following the wedding. Sangguniang copies and to keep the forth (sic) in his office. . . .2.1. On August 28.2. but that said husband admitted "he had another girl by the name . because the following circumstances beyond the control of complainants said she must leave that same day to respondent: be able to fly from Manila for abroad as scheduled. Samar due to the following and 2. which 3. which failure was also occasioned by their marriage right then and there. Considering the futility of contracting respondent found all in order. without prior appointment. Complainant bride is an accredited Filipino the established facts so far in this dispute. believe the claim of complainant that after August deserved more than ordinary official attention under 28. In the forenoon of that date. party.3. After handling to the husband the first copy of another town for the marriage would be expensive the marriage certificate.Judge of Sta. if the parties go copies of the certificate were missing. . Another point brought up in the complaint was the failure unexpectedly came to the residence of respondent of registration of the duplicate and triplicate copies of the in said City. . first. and. Yman's claim. abandoned her without any reason . complainant would be respondent gathered all the papers relating to the out of the country for a long period and their said marriage but notwithstanding diligent search in marriage license would lapse and necessitate the premises and private files. If we overseas worker. a reasonable conclusion can be drawn on the basis of 1. Promptly. Yman. Unfortunately. complainant Beso and Mr. fourth. At the time respondent solemnized the marriage in pressing circumstances: question.3. it was too late to contract complainant for a confirmation of Mr. 1997 respondent was physically not be too expensive and complicated for citizens to get indisposed and unable to report to his station in Sta. beyond their plans for the scheduled marriage. who. Margarita. 1997. The contracting parties were ready with the desired cocuments (sic) for a valid marriage.nêt complainant now that she is out of the country. he believed in good faith that by so doing he was leaning on the side of liberality of the law so that it may be 1. Yman to complainant feared it would complicate her shed light on the missing documents and he said he employment abroad. urgently requesting the celebration of marriage certificate. if they failed to get 3. Margita. sponsors. present Government policy.1âwphi1. Yman 3. respondent invited by subpoena . that for the parties to go to 3. while in fact former Undersecretary intending later to register the duplicate and triplicate Pacifico Maghacot. married on August 28. all other alternatives saw complainant Beso put the copies of the as to date and venue of marriage were considered marriage certificate in her bag during the wedding impracticable by the parties. married.

Under the facts above stated. Family Code which provides: The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) in an evaluation report It shall be the duty of the person solemnizing the dated August 11. 3. respondent would confer with the Civil Registrar General for possible registration of reconstituted Such duty is entrusted upon him pursuant to Article 23 of the copies of said documents. the authority to solemnize marriage is only limited to those municipalities under his jurisdiction. in a sworn statement to that effect. . to wit: have exerted more effort to locate or reconstitute the same.4. (emphasis ours) Pagsanjan. As presiding judge of the MCTC Sta. he should other than his sala. respondent has The foregoing circumstances are unavailing in the instant no other recourse but to protect the public interest case. committed marriage to furnish either of the contracting parties non-feasance in office" and recommended that he be fined Five the original of the marriage certificate referred to in Thousand Pesos (P5. His imputation at the point of death. Granting Article 8 of the Family Code. Samar. . As a holder of such a sensitive position. respondent Judge the expected hearing of the above mentioned civil neglected his duty when failed to register the marriage of case in the City of Marikina. undermined the very foundation of marriage which is the basic social institution in our society whose nature. . It is clearly evident from the foregoing that not only has the Clearly.000. he is expected to be (1) when either or both of the contracting parties is conscientious in handling official documents. there are only three instances. it seems reasonably clear (3) where both of the parties request the solemnizing who of the two marriage contracting parties probably officer in writing in which case the marriage may be absconded with the missing copies of the marriage solemnized at a house or place designated by them certificate. by trying all possible means to recover custody of the missing documents in some amicable way during Moreover. failing to do which said complainant to Bernardito Yman. as provided by consequences and incidents are governed by law. . of LITA DANGUYAN" . . . Margarita Tarangnan. that the missing copies of the marriage certificate were taken by Bernardito Yman is based merely on conjectures and (2) when the residence of either party is located in a does not deserve consideration for being devoid of proof. Calbayog City is no longer within his area of respondent Judge committed non-feasance in office. . remote place. wherein a marriage may be that respondent Judge indeed failed to locate the duplicate solemnized by a judge outside his chamber[s] or at a place and triplicate copies of the marriage certificate. he also jurisdiction. .00) with a warning that the commission of Article 6 and to send the duplicate and triplicate the same or future acts will be dealt with more severely pointing out copies of the certificate not later than fifteen days that: after the marriage. to the local civil register of the place where the marriage was solemnized. 1998 found that respondent Judge ". Additionally. as solemnizing officer.

or marriage and frowns upon hasty. A judge accordance with Article 29. by the very delicate nature jurisdiction.3 he must also be conscientious and (1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court's thorough in doing so. Article 8 of the same statute mandates that: If at all. solemnize the marriage of Beso and Yman because complainant The security and stability of the state are largely dependent upon it. ill-advised and ill-timed marital were both parties request the solemnizing officer in writing in unions. presumed to know the constitutional limits of the writing in a sworn statement to this effect. . respondent realized deserved more is the interest and duty of each and every member of the community than ordinary official attention under present Government policy. fiancé Yman was at the point of death or in a remote place." With regard to the solemnization of marriage. Marriage my be solemnized by: but must also live and abide by it and render justice at all times without resorting to shortcuts clearly uncalled for.] upon the request of both parties in is. among others. Republic1 underscores the importance of marriage as a respondent Judge that the marriage be solemnized outside his social institution thus: "[M]arriage in this country is an institution in chambers or at a place other than his sala. What. Neither was there a sworn written request made by the contracting parties to Jimenez v. furthermore. in fact.2 A judge is not only bound by oath to apply the law. 8. (Emphasis ours) of their office should be more circumspect in the performance of their duties. who. They also betray respondent's vice-consul. a marriage can be held down by superior authority should have given respondent judge outside the judge's chambers or courtroom only in the following pause and made him more vigilant in the exercise of his authority instances: 1. ." to prevent the bringing about a condition that would shake its Respondent Judge further avers that in solemnizing the marriage in foundation and untimely lead to its destruction. 7. "[h]e believed in good faith that by doing so he was leaning on the side of liberality of the law so that it may not be too expensive and complicated for citizens to get married.4 Certainly. . judges. there is no pretense that either complainant Beso or her finds the evaluation report of the OCA well-taken. Article 7 of the Family Code provides.6 Thus respondent Judge should be reminded that — .] at the point of death. the reasons proffered by respondent Judge to justify his Art. The marriage shall be solemnized publicly in the hurried solemnization of the marriage in this case only tends to chambers of the judge or in open court. authority or jurisdiction of his court. appears on which the community is deeply interested. in the church. the Court In this case. continuity and permanence.5 In relation thereto. or in the office of the counsel-general. It was "[a]n overseas worker. that — A person presiding over a court of law must not only apply the law Art. 2." question. or 3.After a careful and thorough examination of the evidence. and not elsewhere. chapel degrade the revered position enjoined by marriage in the hierarchy of or temple. which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect. as the case may be. An elementary regard for the sacredness of laws — let alone that (Emphasis ours) enacted in order to preserve so sacrosanct an inviolable social institution as marriage — and the stability of judicial doctrines laid As the above-quoted provision clearly states. except cavalier proclivity on its significance in our culture which is more in cases of marriages contracted at the point of death or in disposed towards an extended period of engagement prior to remote places in accordance with Article 29 of this Code. consul or social institutions in the country.] in remote places in and the performance of his duties as a solemnizing officer. The state has surrounded record is that respondent Judge was prompted more by urgency to it with safeguards to maintain its purity.

incumbent upon him to devise an in the formal requisite laid down in Article 3. — It shall be the duty of the person solemnizing the marriage to furnish either of the contracting parties. there is a resultant irregularity dispatch of business. the OCA recommended that respondent municipality of Sta.000.00) and warned that a was not clothed with authority to solemnize a marriage in the City of repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. he is WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar infractions will be likewise commanded to observance extra precautions to ensure that dealt with more severely.00) and STERNLY authority and the performance of his duties in its solemnization. There is no justification for missing records save the venue. in fact. the records show that the loss was with. However. may subject the all the one directly responsible for the proper discharge of his official officiating official to administrative liability. An appellate official documents. regardless of custody are intact. Art. as long as the requisites of the law are complied fortuitous events. aside from the mandate WHEREFORE. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage and organize their dockets in order to bolster the prompt and efficient outside his court's jurisdiction. he Judge be fined Five Thousand Pesos (P5.8 This Court adopts the recommendation of the OCA.10 It is. the original of the marriage contract referred to in Article 6 and to send the duplicate and triplicate copies of the certificate not later than fifteen days after the marriage. Samar only. (Emphasis supplied) .1âwphi1.9 However.7 functions. in proper cases. the original of the marriage license and. 23. Margarita-Tarangan-Pagsanjan. in view of all the foregoing.nêt Furthermore. we agree with the evaluation of the OCA marry the faithful. from the nature of marriage.11 Considering that respondents Judge's jurisdiction covers the In the evaluation report. which while it efficient recording and filing system in his court because he is after may not affect the validity of the marriage. the event is properly documented in accordance with Article 23 of the Family Code which states in no uncertain terms that — SO ORDERED. to the local civil registrar of the place where the marriage was solemnized. This Court jurisdictions may officiate in weddings only within said areas reiterates that judges must adopt a system of record management and not beyond. the affidavit of the contracting party regarding the solemnization of the marriage in a place other than those mentioned in Article 8. Proper receipts shall be issued by the local civil registrar to the solemnizing officer transmitting copies of the marriage certificate. respondent Judge is that a judge should exercise extra care in the exercise of his hereby FINED Five Thousand Pesos (P5. is authorized to do so only within the area that respondent Judge was less than conscientious in handling of the diocese or place allowed by is Bishop. Judges who are appointed to specific occasioned by carelessness on respondent Judge's part. Calbayog. A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his ordinary to In view of the foregoing. The solemnizing officer shall retain in his file the quadruplicate copy of the marriage certificate.000. A judge is charged with exercising extra care in court justice or a Justice of this Court has jurisdiction over ensuring that the records of the cases and official documents in his the entire Philippines to solemnize marriages.