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Republic of the Philippines

Court of Appeals
Manila

Tenth (10th) Division

MARELYN TANEDO MANALO, CA-G.R. CV No. 100076


Petitioner-Appellant,
Members:
-versus-
VELOSO, V.S.E.,
THE REPUBLIC OF THE Chairperson
PHILIPPINES, LANTION, J.A.C., and
Oppositor-Appellee. ANTONIO-VALENZUELA, N.G., JJ

Promulgated:

September 18, 2014

DECISION
LANTION, J.A.C., J.:

This is an appeal from the Decision1 dated 15 October 2012 of


the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City 2, First Judicial Region,
Branch 43 (court a quo),3 in SPEC. PROC. NO. 2012-0005, the
dispositive portion of which reads:

“WHEREFORE, premises considered the Petition is hereby


DENIED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.”4
1
Rollo, pp. 22-24.
2
Petitioner being a resident of Brgy. David, Mangaldan, Pangasinan.
3
Judge Raymond Reynold R. Lauigan, presiding.
4
Rollo, p. 28.
CA-G.R. CV No. 100076 Page 2 of 9
Decision

THE FACTS
(As culled from the Records)

On 10 January 2012, Petitioner Marelyn Tanedo Manalo


(Petitioner), a Filipino citizen, filed a Petition5 for the cancellation of
her marriage in the civil registry of San Juan, Metro Manila by virtue
of a judgment of divorce rendered by a Japanese court.

In the Petition, Petitioner alleged being previously married in


the Philippines to a certain Minoru Yoshino, a Japanese national, and
that she filed a divorce in Japan which was granted on 6 December
2011. Attached to the Petition were copies of 1) their Certificate of
Marriage;6 2) Translated Decision of the Japanese court decreeing the
divorce;7 3) Authentication8 by the Philippine Consulate General for
Japan of the Notification of Divorce.

After finding the Petition and its attachments to be sufficient in


form and substance, the court a quo set the case for initial hearing on
25 April 2012. Subsequently, the Petition and Notice of Initial Hearing9
were published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a
newspaper of general circulation.10

On 24 February 2012, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)


entered its appearance for the Republic of the Philippines,
authorizing the Assistant City Prosecutor to appear on its behalf.11

Through a Motion/Manifestation12 filed by the OSG, Petitioner


amended the caption of her Petition from Petition for Cancellation of
Entry of Marriage in the Civil Registry to Petition for the Recognition and
Enforcement of Foreign Judgment and for the Cancellation of Entry of
Marriage in the Civil Registry.13

5
Through her father - Oscar T. Narag, Records, p. 3.
6
Records, p. 49.
7
Records, pp. 50-51.
8
Records, p. 52.
9
Records, p. 25.
10
Cagayan Star Newspaper issues from September 9-15, 16-22 and 23-29, 2012; Records pp. 21-29.
11
Records p. 68.
12
Records, pp. 69-73.
13
Records, pp. 81-83.
CA-G.R. CV No. 100076 Page 3 of 9
Decision

Trial ensued thereafter. Petitioner testified in support of her


petition and offered the following documentary evidence, viz:

1) Order of the court a quo dated 25 January 2012, finding the


Petition and its attachments to be sufficient in form and in
substance;
2) Affidavit of Publication;
3) Issue of the Northern Journal dated 28 February to 5 March 2012;
4) Certificate of Marriage between Petitioner and the Japanese
national;
5) Decision of the Japanese Court allowing the divorce;
6) Authentication/Certificate issued by the Philippine Consulate
General in Osaka, Japan of the Notification of Divorce;
7) Acceptance of Certificate of Divorce by Petitioner and the
Japanese national.

xxx

The OSG in return did not present any controverting evidence


to rebut Petitioner's evidence.

On 15 October 2012, the court a quo rendered the assailed


Decision denying the Petition. The court a quo refused to recognize
the divorce obtained by Petitioner and her husband, considering that
it was Petitioner who filed the divorce case against the Japanese
national. The court a quo ratiocinated that the kind of divorce
recognized here in the Philippines are those validly obtained by the
alien spouse abroad, not by the Filipino spouse, pursuant to Article
2614 of the Family Code.

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration15 of the assailed


Decision of the court a quo, but the same was denied on 13 December
2012.

Hence, this Appeal.

14
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 (6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter
validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have
capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
15
Records, pp. 171-175.
CA-G.R. CV No. 100076 Page 4 of 9
Decision

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

I
THE COURT A QUO COMMITTED AN ERROR IN FACT
AND IN LAW WHEN IT PRONOUNCED THAT THE
DIVORCE OBTAINED BY PETITIONER-APPELLANT IN
JAPAN CANNOT BE RECOGNIZED IN THE PHILIPPINES.16

THIS COURT'S RULING

Petitioner imputes error on the part of the court a quo in


denying her Petition and in not applying in her favor Article 26 of the
Family Code. She argues that the divorce she and her Japanese
husband obtained in Japan should be recognized here in the
Philippines as it is unjust to consider her as still married to the said
Japanese who is no longer married to her and is already capacitated
to remarry another.

The Appeal has a merit.

The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative


history and intent behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the
Family Code.

The Family Code recognizes only two types of defective


marriages — void17 and voidable18 marriages. In both cases, the basis
for the judicial declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of the
marriage exists before or at the time of the marriage. Divorce, on the
other hand, contemplates the dissolution of the lawful union for
cause arising after the marriage.19 Our family laws do not recognize
absolute divorce between Filipino citizens.20

Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages


between a Filipino and an alien, President Corazon C. Aquino, in the
16
Rollo, p. 13.
17
The void marriages are those enumerated under Articles 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 44, and 53 in relation to Article 52
of the Family Code.
18
The voidable marriages are those enumerated under Article 45 of the Family Code.
19
Garcia v. Recio, G.R. No. 138322, October 2, 2001.
20
See A. Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the Philippines, Volume One, with the Family
Code of the Philippines (2004 ed.), p. 262.
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Decision

exercise of her legislative powers under the Freedom Constitution, 21


enacted Executive Order No. 227 (EO 227), amending Article 26 of
the Family Code to its present wording, as follows:

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
(6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a


foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly
obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to
remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to
remarry under Philippine law. (Emphasis supplied)

Article 26 of the Family Code was amended to avoid the


absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the
alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to
the Filipino spouse.22 The legislative intent is for the benefit of the
Filipino spouse, by clarifying his or her marital status, settling the
doubts created by the divorce decree.

In this case, Petitioner filed a divorce case in Japan against her


Japanese husband. Consequently, a divorce decree was obtained by
them making the said Japanese national no longer married to
Petitioner, capacitating the said Japanese to remarry. The court a quo,
however, did not recognize their divorce, considering that it was
Petitioner who filed the divorce case against the Japanese national.

We disagree.

The provision of Article 26 of the Family Code can be traced


from the Supreme Court's ruling in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr.,23 where
the marriage therein between the foreign spouse and his Filipino
spouse was subsequently dissolved through a divorce filed abroad
by the Filipino spouse. The Supreme Court ruled that a foreign
divorce can severe the marital bond between the Filipino and alien
spouse, ratiocinating:
21
Proclamation No. 3, issued on March 25, 1996.
22
Republic v. Orbecido III, G.R. No. 154380, October 5, 2005.
23
G.R. No. L-68470, October 8, 1985, 139 SCRA 139, as cited in the case of San Luis vs. San Luis, G.R. No. 133743.
February 6, 2007.
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Decision

To maintain . . . that, under our laws, the Filipino spouse has


to be considered still married to the alien spouse and still subject to
a wife's obligations . . . cannot be just. The Filipino spouse should
not be obliged to live together with, observe respect and fidelity,
and render support to the alien spouse. The alien spouse should
not continue to be an heir of the Filipino spouse with possible
rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated
against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served.24

As in Van Dorn, supra, the fact that it was Petitioner herein who
filed the divorce case against her Japanese husband is of no moment.
Article 26 of the Family Code states that a divorce validly obtained by
the alien spouse abroad, capacitating him to remarry shall likewise
capacitate the Filipino spouse to remarry under the Philippine law. 25
Here, from the divorce case filed by Petitioner, a divorce decree was
validly obtained by the Japanese national, capacitating him to
remarry. Considering that the said Japanese is already free to
remarry, Petitioner must likewise be allowed to remarry under the
Philippine law. In Navarro vs Ermita,26 the Supreme Court stated:

We test a law by its results; and likewise, we may add, by its


purposes. It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the meaning of the
law, the first concern of the judge should be to discover in its
provisions the intent of the lawmaker. Unquestionably, the law
should never be interpreted in such a way as to cause injustice as
this is never within the legislative intent. An indispensable part of
that intent, in fact, for we presume the good motives of the
legislature, is to render justice.

Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in


consonance with justice. Law and justice are inseparable, and we
must keep them so. To be sure, there are some laws that, while
generally valid, may seem arbitrary when applied in a particular
case because of its peculiar circumstances. In such a situation, we
are not bound, because only of our nature and functions, to apply
them just the same, in slavish obedience to their language. What we
do instead is find a balance between the word and the will, that
justice may be done even as the law is obeyed.

24
Supra.
25
Article 26 of the Family Code.
26
G.R. No. 180050, April 12, 2011.
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Decision

Conformably with Navarro vs. Ermita, supra, and considering


the legislative intent behind Article 26 of the Family Code, it would
be the height of injustice to consider Petitioner as still married to the
Japanese national, who is no longer married to Petitioner. A Filipino
spouse should not be discriminated against in his/her own country if
the ends of justice are to be served.27 To still expect Petitioner to
continue rendering support and observe fidelity to the Japanese
national who is already free to remarry is a clear discrimination
against Petitioner. Thus, in the interest of justice, Petitioner's
marriage to the Japanese national must likewise be considered as
dissolved.

For Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment relating


to the status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a
foreign country, the petitioner only needs to prove said foreign
judgment as a fact under the Rules of Court. To be more specific, a
copy of the foreign judgment, such as the divorce decree, may be
admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24
and 25,28 in relation to Rule 39, Section 48 (b)29 of the Rules of Court.
Petitioner may prove the Divorce Decree through (1) an official
publication or (2) a certification or copy attested by the officer who
has custody of the judgment. If the office which has custody is in a
foreign country such as Japan, the certification may be made by the
proper diplomatic or consular officer of the Philippine foreign
service in Japan and authenticated by the seal of office.30

In this case, Petitioner was able to submit before the court a quo
the 1) Decision of the Japanese Court allowing the divorce; 2) the

27
San Luis vs. San Luis, G.R. No. 133743, February 6, 2007.
28
Rule 132, Sec. 24. Proof of official record. — The record of public documents referred to in paragraph (a) of Section
19, when admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the
officer having the legal custody of the record, or by his deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in the
Philippines, with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If the office in which the record is kept is in a foreign
country, the certificate may be made by a secretary of the embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice consul, or
consular agent or by any officer in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed in the foreign country in which the
record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his office.

Sec. 25. What attestation of copy must state. — Whenever a copy of a document or record is attested for the
purpose of evidence, the attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or a specific
part thereof, as the case may be. The attestation must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any,
or if he be the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court.
29
Rule 39, Sec. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. — The effect of a judgment or final order of a tribunal
of a foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order, is as follows:
(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment or final order is conclusive upon the
title of the thing; and
(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final order is presumptive evidence
of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title.
In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of
notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
30
Fujiki vs. Marinay, G.R. No. 196049, June 26, 2013.
CA-G.R. CV No. 100076 Page 8 of 9
Decision

Authentication/Certificate issued by the Philippine Consulate General


in Osaka, Japan of the Decree of Divorce; and 3) Acceptance of Certificate
of Divorce by Petitioner and the Japanese national. Under Rule 132,
Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48 (b) of the Rules of
Court, these documents sufficiently prove the subject Divorce Decree
as a fact. Thus, We are constrained to recognize the Japanese Court's
judgment decreeing the divorce.

The recognition of a foreign judgment serves as the basis for the


correction or cancellation of entry in the civil registry. The said
recognition is a subsequent event that establishes a new status, right
and fact 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.31 Consequently, We order that a copy of this judgment
be served on the Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila for the
cancellation of Petitioner's entry of marriage in the Civil Registry.32

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is GRANTED. The Decision


dated 15 October 2012 of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City,
First Judicial Region, Branch 43, in SPEC. PROC. NO. 2012-0005 is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

Let a copy of this Decision be served on the Local Civil Registrar


of San Juan Metro Manila.

SO ORDERED.

JANE AURORA C. LANTION


Associate Justice

31
Fujiki vs. Marinay, G.R. No. 196049, June 26, 2013.
32
See Section 7, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
CA-G.R. CV No. 100076 Page 9 of 9
Decision

WE CONCUR:

VICENTE S.E. VELOSO NINA G. ANTONIO-VALENZUELA


Associate Justice Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, it is


hereby certified that the conclusions in the above decision were
reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of
the opinion of the court.

VICENTE S.E. VELOSO


Associate Justice
Chairperson, Tenth Division