Raquel Kho vs Veronica Kho
Liezl Joy M. Mabansag Civil Law Review Sat. 8-12 G.R. No. 187462, June 01, 2016 - RAQUEL G. KHO, Petitioner, v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES AND VERONICA B. KHO, Respondents – Petition for review on certiorari challenging the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals in holding that the marriage is valid despite the issue with the absence of marriage license. “A valid marriage license is requisite to a marriage, the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initio. To be considered void on the ground of absence of a marriage license, the law requires that the absence of such marriage license must be apparent on the marriage contract, or at the very least, supported by a certification from the local civil registrar that no such marriage license was issued to the parties.(1) The marriage between Raquel Kho and Veronica was celebrated on June 1, 1972 so the law that applies is the Civil Code. Article 53 of the Civil Code states that one of the 4 requirements in solemnization of marriage is a marriage license (except in marriage of exceptional character). Article 58 of the Civil Code states 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 (marriage between 2 Filipinos abroad). Article 80(3) of the Civil Code clearly provides that a marriage solemnized without a license is void from the beginning, except marriages of exceptional character under Articles 72 to 79 of the same Code. Facts: Raquel Kho filed a petition for annulment of his marriage to Veronica on the ground that there is no valid marriage license at the time of the celebration of the marriage. Veronica on the other hand alleged she and Raquel 1 Alcantara vs. Alcantara G.R. No. 167746 August 28, 2007
personally appeared before the local civil registrar and secured a marriage license before their marriage was solemnized. The RTC ruled that the marriage is void ab initio and granted Raquel’s petition. Among the pieces of evidence presented by Raquel, the petitioner, is a Certification issued by the Municipal Civil Registrar of Arteche, Eastern Samar which attested 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. It found that the Certification of the local Civil Registrar together with the absence of marriage license number on the marriage certificate presented by Raquel are enough to establish the absence of the requisite marriage license. The RTC anchored the ruling on Articles 53(4), 58 and 80(3) of the Civil Code of the Philippines and stated that the absence of the said marriage license rendered the marriage between petitioner and respondent null and void ab initio. Veronica filed an appeal to the CA which reversed the RTC’s decision. The marriage was declared valid and subsisting. 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. The motion for reconsideration filed by Raquel was denied by the CA. Raquel filed a petition for review on certiorari to the SC challenging the decision and resolution of the CA. RULING: The Supreme Court took cognizance of the case despite the case involving a question of fact because of the conflicting findings of the RTC of Eastern Samar and the Court of Appeals. In Raquel’s petition to the CA one of the issues raised by him is whether or not the CA erred when it ascribed a so called “Ethical Dimension” to his cause disregarding documentary evidence of the lack of a marriage license and giving weight to unsupported presumptions. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the CA and held that the marriage is void from the beginning.
In deciding the case, the Supreme Court cited several cases where in which the certification of the local civil registrar as well as the lack of any entry on the marriage certificate which will indicate that there is a marriage license obtained were held sufficient proof that there was no valid marriage license issued. Among the cases cited are the following: Cariño vs. Cariño, Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals and Abbas vs Abbas In Cariño vs. Cariño(2), a case decided in 2007, the Court considered the marriage of Susan Nicdao and the deceased Santiago S. Carino as void ab initio. According to the records, the marriage contract of Nicdao and Cariño bears no marriage license number and, as certified by the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan, Metro Manila, their office has no record of such marriage license. The court held that the certification issued by the local civil registrar is adequate to prove the non-issuance of the marriage license. Their marriage having been solemnized without the necessary marriage license and not being one of the marriages exempt from the marriage license requirement, the marriage of the petitioner and the deceased is undoubtedly void ab initio. In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals(3), the Local Civil Registrar issued a certification of due search and inability to find a record or entry to the effect that a marriage license was issued to the parties. The Court held that the certification of due search and inability to find a record or entry as to the purported marriage license, issued by the Civil Registrar of Pasig, enjoys probative value, he being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data relative to the issuance of a marriage license. Based on said certification, the Court held that there is absence of a marriage license that would render the marriage void ab initio. In addition to the cases cited, the 2013 case of Abbas v. Abbas(4) was also cited, the court again followed the ruling in Republic vs. CA and held that the Certification of the Local Civil Registrar is sufficient as proof that no marriage license was issued to the parties. The court in the said case stated the
2 Susan Nicdao cariño vs.Susan Yee Cariño G.R. no. 132529. February 2, 2001 3 Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals G.R. No. 103047, September 2, 1994 4 Syed Azhar Abbas Vs.Gloria Goo Abbas G.R. No. 183896 January 30, 2013
following when the lack of categorical statement that indicates that a diligent search was made was assailed : 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. "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. Based on the cases cited the court decided that that to be considered void on the ground of absence of a marriage license, the law requires that the absence of such marriage license must be apparent on the marriage contract, or at the very least, supported by a certification from the local civil registrar that no such marriage license was issued to the parties(5). In this Veronica claimed that she and Raquel obtained a marriage license yet she failed to present evidence to prove it. She did not present the alleged marriage license or a copy of it in court. In addition the certificate of marriage issued by the officiating priest does not contain any entry regarding the said marriage license. The court said that she could have obtained a copy of their marriage contract from the National Archives and Records Section where the information regarding the marriage license can be obtained. The SC also mentioned that it is settled in the rule that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and a mere allegation is not an evidence. As reiterated in the case of Abbas vs Abbas, the certification issued by the municipal registrar attesting to the lack of records of the marriage license enjoys the presumption that official duty has been regularly performed. Thus unless the presumption is rebutted, which in this case wasn’t, it becomes conclusive. It’s been told time and again that the law is what the Supreme Court says it to be. It was harsh on the part of Veronica but it is the law and the Supreme Court applied it strictly in her case. The Supreme Court said that although the motive of Raquel in petitioning for the annulment is not pure, that fact 5 Alcantara vs. Alcantara G.R. No. 167746 August 28, 2007
does not make up for the fact that there was failure on the part of Veronica to prove that there is a valid marriage license. The ethical considerations that Raquel raised in the Supreme Court which he said was a factor in the Court of appeals ruling is something worthy of consideration. It was alleged that Raquel has a mistress and that is the reason why he wants the marriage annulled. In the case of Alcantara, the marriage was held as valid despite the issue with the marriage license. It is somewhat similar to this case because in the case of Alcantara, Restituto has a mistress and has 3 illegitimate children with her. I would think that the court in a way made some ethical considerations which also became a factor in ruling on the validity of the Alcantara case. In that case the Supreme Court stated the following: ‘Under the principle that he who comes to court must come with clean hands, petitioner cannot pretend that he was not responsible or a party to the marriage celebration which he now insists took place without the requisite marriage license. Petitioner knowingly and voluntarily went to the Manila City Hall and likewise, knowingly and voluntarily, went through a marriage ceremony. He cannot benefit from his action and be allowed to extricate himself from the marriage bond at his mere say-so when the situation is no longer palatable to his taste or suited to his lifestyle’. It will be interesting to see how the so called ethical considerations in ruling in annulment cases will evolve as time passes by. Applicable law on marriage license: Article 53 of the civil code spells out the essential requisites of marriage as a contract. It reads: Art. 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied with: (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.13 Marriages of exceptional character: (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. The issues involve a determination and application of law and jurisprudence intertwined with a question of fact: whether or not a marriage license was obtained by the parties prior to marriage. Despite the OSG arguing that the issue involves a question of fact, the court took cognizance of the case due to the conflicting findings of the RTC and CA. The exceptions to the rule that Supreme Court shall not entertain questions of fact: 1. When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises and conjectures; 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; 1O. When the findings of fact of the court of appeals are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on rccord. Why marriage license is an essential requisite of marriage
In Nial vs. Bayadog, the court stated that the requirement and issuance of a marriage license is the States demonstration of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the general public is interested.