G.R. No. 187462, June 01, 2016
RAQUEL G. KHO, Petitioner, v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES AND VERONICA B. KHO, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
Challenged in the present petition for review on certiorari are the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA), Cebu City dated March 30, 2006 and January 14, 2009, respectively, in CA-GR. CV No. 69218. The assailed CA Decision reversed and set aside the Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Borongan, Eastern Samar, Branch 2, in Civil Case No. 464, which ruled in petitioner's favor in an action he filed for declaration of nullity of his marriage with private respondent, while the CA Resolution denied petitioners' motion for reconsideration.
The present petition arose from a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage filed by herein petitioner with the RTC of Oras, Eastern Samar. Pertinent portions of the Petition allege as follows:
x x x xAmong the pieces of evidence presented by petitioner is a Certification5 issued by the Municipal Civil Registrar of Arteche, Eastern Samar which attested to the fact that the Office of the Local Civil Registrar has neither record nor copy of a marriage license issued to petitioner and respondent with respect to their marriage celebrated on June 1, 1972.
3. Sometime in the afternoon of May 31, 1972, petitioner's parents summoned one Eusebio Colongon, now deceased, then clerk in the office of the municipal treasurer, instructing said clerk to arrange and prepare whatever necessary papers were required for the intended marriage between petitioner and respondent supposedly to take place at around midnight of June 1, 1972 so as to exclude the public from witnessing the marriage ceremony;
4. Petitioner and Respondent thereafter exchanged marital vows in a marriage ceremony which actually took place at around 3:00 o'clock before dawn of June 1, 1972, on account that there was a public dance held in the town plaza which is just situated adjacent to the church whereas the venue of the wedding, and the dance only finished at around 2:00 o'clock of same early morning of June 1, 1972;
5. Petitioner has never gone to the office of the Local Civil Registrar to apply for marriage license and had not seen much less signed any papers or documents in connection with the procurement of a marriage license;
6. Considering the shortness of period from the time the aforenamed clerk of the treasurer's office was told to obtain the pertinent papers in the afternoon of May 31, 1972 so required for the purpose of the forthcoming marriage up to the moment the actual marriage was celebrated before dawn of June 1, 1972, no marriage license therefore could have been validly issued, thereby rendering the marriage solemnized on even date null and void for want of the most essential requisite;
7. For all intents and purposes, thus, Petitioner's and Respondent's marriage aforestated was solemnized sans the required marriage license, hence, null and void from the beginning and neither was it performed under circumstances exempting the requirement of such marriage license;
x x x x
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that after due notice and hearing, judgment be rendered:
1. Declaring the contract of marriage between petitioner and respondent held on June 1, 1972, at Arteche, Eastern Samar, null and void ab initio and of no legal effect;
x x x x4ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court hereby declares the marriage contracted between Raquel G. Kho and Veronica Borata on June 1, 1972 null and void ab initio, pursuant to Article 80 of the Civil Code and Articles 4 and 5 of the Family Code. The foregoing is without prejudice to the application of Articles 50 and 51 of the Family Code.The RTC found that petitioner's evidence sufficiently established the absence of the requisite marriage license when the marriage between petitioner and respondent was celebrated. As such, the RTC ruled that based on Articles 53(4), 58 and 80(3) of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the absence of the said marriage license rendered the marriage between petitioner and respondent null and void ab initio.
Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Municipal Civil Registrar of Arteche, Eastern Samar for proper registration of this decree of nullity of marriage.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated 25 September 2000 of Branch 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Borongan, Eastern Samar, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The marriage between the petitioner-appellee Raquel Kho and Veronica Kho is declared valid and subsisting for all intents and purposes.The CA held that since a marriage was, in fact, solemnized between the contending parties, there is a presumption that a marriage license was issued for that purpose and that petitioner failed to overcome such presumption. The CA also ruled that the absence of any indication in the marriage certificate that a marriage license was issued is a mere defect in the formal requisites of the law which does not invalidate the parties' marriage.
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ASCRIBING A SO-CALLED "ETHICAL DIMENSION" TO PETITIONER'S CAUSE, ALLUDING TO AN ALLEGED LIAISON WITH ANOTHER WOMAN AS A FACTOR IN REVERSING THE JUDGMENT OF THE LOWER COURT WHICH VOIDED HIS MARRIAGE IN QUESTION WITH RESPONDENT;Petitioner's basic contention in the present petition centers on the alleged failure of the CA to give due credence to petitioner's evidence which established the absence or lack of marriage license at the time that petitioner and respondent's marriage was solemnized. Petitioner argues that the CA erred in deciding the case not on the basis of law and evidence but rather on the ground of what the appellate court calls as ethical considerations as well as on the perceived motive of petitioner in seeking the declaration of nullity of his marriage with respondent.
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPRECIATING AGAINST PETITIONER THE FACT THAT DESPITE THE LAPSE OF 25 YEARS HE DID NOTHING TO ATTACK, EVEN COLLATERALLY, HIS APPARENTLY VOID MARRIAGE WITH RESPONDENT;
3. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ALTOGETHER DISREGARDING PETITIONER'S OBVIOUSLY OVERWHELMING DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCES OF LACK OF MARRIAGE LICENSE AND GIVING WEIGHT INSTEAD TO UNSUPPORTED PRESUMPTIONS IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENT, IN ITS ASSAILED DECISION; and
4 WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN SETTING ASIDE OR REVERSING THE LOWER COURT'S JUDGMENT DECLARING THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER AND RESPONDENT A NULLITY FOR ABSENCE OF THE REQUISITE MARRIAGE LICENSE.10ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises and conjectures;In the present case, the findings of the RTC and the CA, on whether or not there was indeed a marriage license obtained by petitioner and respondent, are conflicting. Hence, it is but proper for this Court to review these findings.
(2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;
(3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion;
(4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts;
(5) When the findings of fact are conflicting;
(6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee;
(7) When the findings arc contrary to those of the trial court;
(8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based;
(9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners' main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents; and
(10) When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record.11ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
ART 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied with:Article 58 of the Civil Code makes explicit that no marriage shall be solemnized without a license first being issued by the local civil registrar of the municipality where either contracting party habitually resides, save marriages of an exceptional character authorized by the Civil Code, but not those under Article 75.14 Under the Civil Code, marriages of exceptional character are covered by Chapter 2, Title 111, comprising Articles 72 to 79. These marriages are: (1) marriages in articulo mortis or at the point of death during peace or war; (2) marriages in remote places; (3) consular marriages; (4) ratification of marital cohabitation; (5) religious ratification of a civil marriage; (6) Mohammedan or pagan marriages; and (7) mixed marriages. Petitioner's and respondent's marriage does not fall under any of these exceptions.
(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties;
(2) Their consent, freely given;
(3) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and
(4) A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character.13ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Under Sec. 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, it is a disputable presumption that an official duty has been regularly performed, absent contradiction or other evidence to the contrary. We held, "The presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a duty." No such affirmative evidence was shown that the Municipal Civil Registrar was lax in performing her duty of checking the records of their office, thus the presumption must stand. x x x31ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryIn all the abovementioned cases, there was clear and unequivocal finding of the absence of the subject marriage license which rendered the marriage void.
* Designated Additional Member in lieu of Associate Francis II. Jardeleza, per Raffle dated May 23, 2016.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., with the concurrence of Associate Justices Arsenio J. Magapale and Vicente L. Yap, concurring; Annex "A" to Petition, rollo, pp. 28-40.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Francisco P. Acosta, with Associate Justices Amy C. Lazaro-Javier and Rodil V. Zalameda, concurring; Annex "B" to Petition, id. at 41-43.
3 Annex "C" to Petition, id. at 44-59.
4Rollo, pp. 60-61.
5 See RTC Decision, id. at 56.
6Rollo, p. 64.
7Id. at 59.
8Id. at 39.
9Id. at 72.
10Id. at 15.
11Geronimo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 105540, July 5, 1993, 224 SCRA 494, 498-499. (Emphasis supplied)
12 The Family Code of the Philippines took effect on August 3, 1988.
13 Emphasis supplied.
14 Art. 75. Marriages between Filipino citizens abroad may be solemnized by consuls and vice-consuls of the Republic of the Philippines. The duties of the local civil registrar and of a judge or justice of the peace or mayor with regard to the celebration of marriage shall be performed by such consuls and vice-consuls.
15Republic of the Phils. v. Dayot, 573 Phil. 553, 568-569 (2008).
16Id. at 569.
17Alcantara v. Alcantara, 558 Phil. 192, 202 (2007).
18 403 Phil. 861 (2001).
19Id. at 869.
20Id. at 870.
21 See RTC Decision, rollo, p. 56.
22Rollo, p. 133.
23Amor-Catalan v. Court of Appeals, 543 Phil. 568, 575 (2007).
24 529 Phil. 419, 429 (2006).cralawred
25 G.R. No. 103047, September 2, 1994, 236 SCRA 257, 262.
26 Sec. 28. Proof of lack of record. - A written statement signed by an officer having the custody of an official record or by his deputy that after diligent search, no record or entry of a specified tenor is found to exist in the records of his office, accompanied by a certificate as above provided, is admissible as evidence that the records of his office contain no such record or entry.cralawred
27Supra note 18.
28 G.R. No. 201061, July 3, 2013.
29 702 Phil. 578, 590-592 (2013).
30Supra note 25.
31Abbas v. Abbas, supra note 29, at 592.
32Alcantara v. Alcantara, supra note 17, at 203-204.
33Abbas v. Abbas, supra note 29, at 594.