G.R. No. 154380, 5 October 2005
Cipriano Orbecido III, respondent married Lady Myros M. Villanueva at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Lam-an, Ozamis City and had 2 children. The wife went to the United States to work. A few years later, Cipriano discovered that his wife had been naturalized as an American citizen, obtained a divorce decree and married another man.
Orbecido filed a petition for authority to remarry under the Article 26 (2) of the Family Code. No opposition was filed. Finding merit in the petition, the lower court granted the same. The Republic, herein petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), sought reconsideration but it was denied.
Whether or not a divorce decree acquired by a Filipino from the United States is valid and recognized in the Philippines
Yes, the respondent can remarry. Paragraph 2 of Article 26 should be interpreted to include cases involving parties who, at the time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The Filipino spouse should likewise be allowed to remarry as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the solemnization of the marriage. The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the lattertoremarry.
However, in the present petition there is no sufficient evidence submitted as to the claim of Orbecide that his wife was naturalized as an American citizen, had obtained a divorce decree and had remarried an American, that respondent is now capacitated to remarry. Such declaration could only be made properly upon respondent’s submission of the aforecited evidence in his favor. Thus, the petition by the Republic of the Philippines is GRANTED.
* Case digest by Aisha Mie Faith M. Fernandez, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018