MAY D. AÑONUEVO, ALEXANDER BLEE DESANTIS AND JOHN DESANTIS NERI, PETITIONERS VS. INTESTATE ESTATE OF RODOLFO G. JALANDONI, REPRESENTED BY BERNARDINO G. JALANDONI AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR, RESPONDENT (FIRS DIVISION, G.R. NO. 178221, O1 DECEMBER 2010)

 

THIS CASE IS ABOUT LEGAL PRESUMPTION OF MARRIAGE. BIRTH CERTIFICATE STATING THAT ONE’S PARENTS WERE MARRIED ESTABLISHES THE PRESUMPTION THAT INDEED THEY WERE MARRIED.

 

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE DECISION IN jabbulao.com under the category RECENT SUPREME COURT DECISIONS.

DIGEST:

 

FACTS:

 

RODOLFO DIED. HIS BROTHER FILED AT RTC PETITION FOR ISSUANCE OF LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION. ANONUEVO  ET AL INTERVENED. THEY SAID THEIR MOTHER SYLVIA  WAS DAUGHTER  OF ISABEL AND JOHN. BUT AT THE TIME OF RODOLFO’S DEATH, THEIR GRANDMOTHER ISABEL  WAS THE LAWFUL WIFE OF RODOLFO BASED ON A MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE. RODOLFO’S BROTHER  OPPOSED THEIR INTERVENTION BECAUSE THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF SYLVIA STATES THAT ISABEL AND JOHN  WERE MARRIED. THEREFORE ISABEL’S MARRIAGE TO RODOLFO WAS NULL AND VOID. ANONUEVO ET AL HOWEVER ARGUED THAT THE ENTRIES IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF SYLVIA COULD NOT BE USED AS PROOF THAT ISABEL AND JOHN WERE INDEED MARRIED. FURTHER, SUCH  STATEMENT OF MARRIAGE IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE IS JUST TO SAVE FACE AND IS CUSTOMARY.

 

ISSUE:

 

CAN ANONUEVO ET AL  INTERVENE?

 

RULING:

 

NO. THEY HAVE NO PERSONAL STANDING TO INTERVENE. THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF SYLVIA WHICH SHOWS THAT ISABEL AND JOHN  WERE MARRIED IS SUFFICIENT PROOF THAT INDEED THEY WERE MARRIED. THEREFORE ISABEL’S MARRIAGE TO RODOLFO IS VOID SINCE AT THAT TIME ISABEL WAS STILL MARRIED TO JOHN. BEING NOT MARRIED TO RODOLFO, ISABEL AND HER DESCENDANTS HAVE NO SHARE IN THE ESTATE OF RODOLFO.

 

WHILE A MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE IS CONSIDERED THE PRIMARY EVIDENCE OF A MARITAL UNION, IT IS NOT REGARDED AS THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE EVIDENCE OF MARRIAGE.[1][47]  JURISPRUDENCE TEACHES THAT THE FACT OF MARRIAGE MAY BE PROVEN BY RELEVANT EVIDENCE OTHER THAN THE MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE.[2][48]  HENCE, EVEN A PERSON’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE MAY BE RECOGNIZED AS COMPETENT EVIDENCE OF THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN HIS PARENTS. THE REASON “FACE SAVING/ CUSTOMARY” IS WITHOUT MERIT. THE COURT CANNOT TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE OF A FOLKWAY.

The ruling of the Court:

 

PEREZ, J.:

 

X X X X X X

The second argument of the petitioners is also without merit.  We agree with the finding of the Court of Appeals that the petitioners and their siblings failed to offer sufficient evidence to establish that Isabel was the legal spouse of Rodolfo.  The very evidence of the petitioners and their siblings negates their claim that Isabel has interest in Rodolfo’s estate.

Contrary to the position taken by the petitioners, the existence of a previous marriage between Isabel and John Desantis was adequately established.  This holds true notwithstanding the fact that no marriage certificate between Isabel and John Desantis exists on record.

While a marriage certificate is considered the primary evidence of a marital union, it is not regarded as the sole and exclusive evidence of marriage.[3][47]  Jurisprudence teaches that the fact of marriage may be proven by relevant evidence other than the marriage certificate.[4][48]  Hence, even a person’s birth certificate may be recognized as competent evidence of the marriage between his parents.[5][49]

In the present case, the birth certificate of Sylvia precisely serves as the competent evidence of marriage between Isabel and John Desantis.  As mentioned earlier, it contains the following notable entries: (a) that Isabel and John Desantis were “married” and (b) that Sylvia is their “legitimate” child.[6][50]  In clear and categorical language, Sylvia’s birth certificate speaks of a subsisting marriage between Isabel and John Desantis.

Pursuant to existing laws,[7][51] the foregoing entries are accorded prima facie weight.  They are presumed to be true.  Hence, unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence, they can, and will, stand as proof of the facts attested.[8][52]  In the case at bench, the petitioners and their siblings offered no such rebuttal.

The petitioners did no better than to explain away the entries in Sylvia’s birth certificate as untruthful statements made only in order to “save face.”[9][53]  They urge this Court to take note of a “typical” practice among unwed Filipino couples to concoct the illusion of marriage and make it appear that a child begot by them is legitimate.  That, the Court cannot countenance.

           The allegations of the petitioners, by themselves and unsupported by any other evidence, do not diminish the probative value of the entries.  This Court cannot, as the petitioners would like Us to do, simply take judicial notice of a supposed folkway and conclude therefrom that the usage was in fact followed.  It certainly is odd that the petitioners would themselves argue that the document on which they based their interest in intervention contains untruthful statements in its vital entries.

Ironically, it is the evidence presented by the petitioners and their siblings themselves which, properly appreciated, supports the finding that Isabel was, indeed, previously married to John Desantis.  Consequently, in the absence of any proof that such marriage had been dissolved by the time Isabel was married to Rodolfo, the inescapable conclusion is that the latter marriage is bigamous and, therefore, void ab initio.

The inability of the petitioners and their siblings to present evidence to prove that Isabel’s prior marriage was dissolved results in a failure to establish that she has interest in the estate of Rodolfo.  Clearly, an intervention by the petitioners and their siblings in the settlement proceedings cannot be justified.  We affirm the Court of Appeals.

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED. Accordingly, the decision dated 31 May 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00576 is hereby AFFIRMED.

          Costs against the petitioners.

          SO ORDERED.

  JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

Chairperson

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO    DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

 Associate Justice                                       Associate Justice

 

ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

       RENATO C. CORONA

                                                                      Chief Justice


 


[1][47]          Trinidad v. Court of Appeals, 352 Phil. 12, 30-31 (1988). 

[2][48]          Pugeda v. Trias, 114 Phil. 781, 787 (1962).

[3][47]          Trinidad v. Court of Appeals, 352 Phil. 12, 30-31 (1988). 

[4][48]          Pugeda v. Trias, 114 Phil. 781, 787 (1962).

[5][49]          In Trinidad v. Court of Appeals, supra note 47 at 30, this Court held:

To prove the fact of marriage, the following would constitute competent evidence: the testimony of a witness to the matrimony, the couple’s public and open cohabitation as husband and wife after the alleged wedlock, the birth and the baptismal certificates of children born during such union, and the mention of such nuptial in subsequent documents. (Pugeda v. Trias, id.) (Emphasis supplied)

[6][50]          CA rollo, p. 64

[7][51]          See Article 410 in relation to Article 408 of the Civil Code and Section 44 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.

[8][52]          Bustillo v. People, G.R. No. 160718, 12 May 2010.

[9][53]          Rollo, p. 27.