Monday, September 30, 2013

If there’s no valid marriage license, then the marriage contract, authority of solemnizing officer, testimony of witnesses and sponsors, wedding pictures, etc. do not mean anything

Plain Language summary:

Case title:Syed Azhar Abbas v. Gloria Goo Abbas,” G.R. No. 183896. January 30, 2013

Issue:

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) ruled that no valid marriage license was issued and thus the marriage is void. The RTC based its ruling on the certification by the Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite that no marriage license was issued to Syed and Gloria.

On the other hand, the Court of Appeals held that, for several reasons, Syed and Gloria were validly married. The certification of the Municipal Civil Registrar failed to categorically state that a diligent search for the marriage license was conducted under Sec. 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

Supreme Court ruling:

Syed and Gloria’s marriage is void because they did not have a valid marriage license.

Relevant cases and legal provisions:

Republic vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 103047, September 2, 1994, 236 SCRA 257

Cariño vs. Cariño, 403 Phil. 861, 869 (2001)

Section 28, Rule 132 of the
Rules of Court

Family Code of the Philippines: Article 3; Article 4; Article 35 (3)

Background facts


Syed Azhar Abbas (Syed) filed a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Gloria GooAbbas (Gloria) with the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City (RTC).

The RTC ruled that Syed and Gloria’s marriage was void from the beginning because they did not have a valid marriage license. The Municipal Civil Registrar of Carmona, Cavite certified that Syed and Gloria’s alleged Marriage License No. 9969967 was actually issued to a certain Arlindo Getalado and Myra Mabilangan.

On the other hand, the Court of Appeals ruled that Syed and Gloria’s marriage was valid because:

(1) The Municipal Civil Registrar’s certification cannot be used as evidence because it failed to categorically state that a “diligent search” for the marriage license was conducted, as required by Section 28, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

(2) Both Syed and Gloria were legally capacitated to marry; the Embassy of Pakistan issued a certificate of legal capacity in Syed’s favor.

(3) Syed admitted to signing the marriage contract.

(4) Several pictures were presented showing Syed and Gloria before the solemnizing officer, the witnesses, and other members of Gloria’s family, taken during the marriage ceremony and in the restaurant where the lunch was held after the marriage ceremony.

(5) Syed and Gloria comported themselves as husband and wife.

(6) Syed only filed his petition after Gloria had filed a case against him for bigamy.

Supreme Court ruling


[1] Syed and Gloria’s marriage is void because they did not have a valid marriage license.

[2] All the evidence cited by the CA to show that a wedding ceremony was conducted and a marriage contract was signed cannot cure the absence of a valid marriage license. Article 4 of the Family Code is clear when it says, “The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio, except as stated in Article 35(2).”

[3] From the absence of the words “despite diligent search” in the certification, the CA reasoned that no diligent search was conducted and thus, the certification could not be used as evidence. But a categorical declaration is not absolutely necessary for Sec. 28, Rule 132 to apply, as held in Republic vs. Court of Appeals and in Cariño vs. Cariño.

The Municipal Civil Registrar did conduct a “diligent search” because it located and submitted Marriage License No. 996967 to the RTC.

[4] The solemnizing officer testified that the marriage contract and a copy of the marriage license were submitted to the Local Civil Registrar of Manila. Gloria could have simply secured a copy of the license from that office and submitted it to the RTC. But Gloria inexplicably failed to do so, further weakening her claim that there was a valid marriage license issued for her and Syed.

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