A.M. No. MTJ-96- 1088, 19 July 1996
Municipal Mayor of Dapa, Surigao del Norte, Rodolfo G. Navarro filed a complaint on two specific acts committed by respondent Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge Hernando Domagtoy on the grounds of gross misconduct, ineffiency in office and ignorance of the law.
It was alleged that Domagtoy solemnized marriage of Gaspar Tagadan and Arlyn Borja on September 27, 1994 despite the knowledge that the groom has a subsisting marriage with Ida Penaranda and that they are merely separated. It was told that Ida left their conjugal home in Bukidnon and has not returned and been heard for almost seven years. The said judge likewise solemnizes marriage of FlorianoDadoySumaylo and Gemma G. del Rosario outside his court’s jurisdiction on October 27, 1994. The judge holds his office and has jurisdiction in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte but he solemnized the said wedding at his residence in the municipality of Dapa located 40 to 50 km away.
Whether or not the marriages solemnized were void.
In the first allegation, Remarriage of Gaspar Tagadan is void.
The law provides that: “A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the provisions of Articles 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.”; “For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Code for the declaration of presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent spouse”
Absent this judicial declaration, he remains married to Ida Penaranda. Whether wittingly, or unwittingly, it was manifest error on the part of respondent judge to have accepted the joint affidavit submitted by the groom. Such neglect or ignorance of the law has resulted in a bigamous, and therefore void, marriage.
The second marriage is also void.
The law provides that marriage may be solemnized by an incumbent member of the judiciary within the court’s jurisdiction. Additionally Art. 8 of the Family Code provides that: “Marriages shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers of the judge or in open court, in the church, chapel or temple, or in the office of the consul-general, consul or vice-consul, as the case may be, and not elsewhere, except in cases of marriages contracted on the point of death or in remote places in accordance with Article 29 of this Code, or where both parties request the solemnizing officer in writing in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect.”
In as much as respondent judge’s jurisdiction covers the municipalities of Sta. Monica and Burgos, he was also not clothed with authority to solemnize a marriage in Dapa, Surigao del Norte. By citing the aforementioned laws and its exceptions therein as grounds for the exercise of his misplaced authority, respondent judge again demonstrated a lack of understanding of the basic principles of civil law.
Because of the respondent’s failure to apply the legal principles applicable in these cases, the Court finds respondent to have acted in gross ignorance of the law because of this he is suspended for a period of six months.
* Case digest by Ariel M. Acopiado, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018