G.R. No. 167746, 28 August 2007
Restituto M. Alcantara filed a petition for annulment of marriage against respondent Rosita A. Alcantara alleging that on 8 December 1982 he and respondent, without securing the required marriage license, went to the Manila City Hall for the purpose of looking for a person who could arrange a marriage for them. They met a person who, for a fee, arranged their wedding before a certain priest. They got married on the same day. They went through another marriage ceremony in a church in Tondo, Manila, on 26 March 1983. The marriage was likewise celebrated without the parties securing a marriage license. The alleged marriage license, procured in Carmona, Cavite, appearing on the marriage contract, is a sham, as neither party was a resident of Carmona, and they never went to Carmona to apply for a license. In 1988, they parted ways and lived separate lives. Petitioner prayed that after due hearing, judgment be issued declaring their marriage void and ordering the Civil Registrar to cancel the corresponding marriage contract and its entry on file.
Rosita asserted the validity of their marriage and maintained that there was a marriage license issued as evidenced by a certification from the Office of the Civil Registry of Carmona, Cavite. Petitioner has a mistress with whom he has three children. Petitioner only filed the annulment of their marriage to evade prosecution for concubinage. After hearing, the trial court dismissed the petition for lack of merit. The CA affirmed the decision.
Whether or not there was an absence of marriage license that would render the marriage between petitioner and respondent void ab initio?
No. A valid marriage license is a requisite of marriage, the absence of which renders the marriage void ab initio. The requirement and issuance of a marriage license is the State’s demonstration of its involvement and participation in every marriage, in the maintenance of which the general public is interested.
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. In this case, the marriage contract between the petitioner and respondent reflects a marriage license number. A certification to this effect was also issued by the local civil registrar of Carmona, Cavite. The certification moreover is precise in that it specifically identified the parties to whom the marriage license was issued, namely Restituto Alcantara and Rosita Almario, further validating the fact that a license was in fact issued to the parties herein. This certification enjoys the presumption that official duty has been regularly performed and the issuance of the marriage license was done in the regular conduct of official business. Hence, petitioner cannot insist on the absence of a marriage license to impugn the validity of his marriage.
Petitioner, in a faint attempt to demolish the probative value of the marriage license, claims that neither he nor respondent is a resident of Carmona, Cavite. Even then, we still hold that there is no sufficient basis to annul petitioner and respondent’s marriage. Issuance of a marriage license in a city or municipality, not the residence of either of the contracting parties, and issuance of a marriage license despite the absence of publication or prior to the completion of the 10-day period for publication are considered mere irregularities that do not affect the validity of the marriage.An irregularity in any of the formal requisites of marriage does not affect its validity but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity are civilly, criminally and administratively liable.
Likewise, the issue raised by petitioner — which they appeared before a “fixer” who arranged everything for them and who facilitated the ceremony before a certain priest — will not strengthen his posture. The authority of the officer or clergyman shown to have performed a marriage ceremony will be presumed in the absence of any showing to the contrary. Moreover, the solemnizing officer is not duty-bound to investigate whether or not a marriage license has been duly and regularly issued by the local civil registrar. All solemnizing officer needs to know is that the license has been issued by the competent official, and it may be presumed from the issuance of the license that said official has fulfilled the duty to ascertain whether the contracting parties had fulfilled the requirements of law.
Article 53 of the Civil Code which was the law applicable at the time of the marriage of the parties’ states:
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.
Petitioner cannot insist on the absence of a marriage license to impugn the validity of his marriage since all the elements in Article 53 are present in the case at bar.
* Case digest by Daisy Mae O. Tambolero, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018