Syed Azhar Abbas vs Gloria Goo-Abbas

February 12, 2014

689 SCRA 646 (109 OG 7469) – Civil Law – Family Code – Bigamy – Void Ab Initio Marriage – Lack of a Marriage License
Remedial Law – Evidence – Probative Value – Public Records

In January 1993, Syed Azhar Abbas was invited to the house of Felicitas Goo, mother of Gloria Goo. He said he was asked to participate in a ceremony which was meant to welcome him to the Philippines (Abbas is a Pakistani). He said he did not know that the ceremony was actually his marriage with Gloria Goo.

Later, Gloria filed a bigamy case against Abbas. Abbas allegedly married a certain Maria Corazon Buenaventura.

To avoid the bigamy case, Abbas filed a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to Gloria Goo.

To prove the validity of their marriage, Gloria presented a marriage contract signed by Abbas as well as the solemnizing officer who celebrated their marriage. The marriage contract contained the alleged marriage license issued to Abbas.

Abbas presented a certification issued by the Local Civil Registrar which states that the marriage license, based on its number, indicated in the marriage contract was never issued to Abbas but to someone else.

The RTC ruled in favor of Abbas. However, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC on the ground that there was no diligence to search for the real source of the marriage license issued to Abbas (for it could be that the marriage license was issued in another municipality).

ISSUE: Whether or not the marriage between Abbas and Goo is void ab initio.

HELD: Yes. Their marriage lacked one of the essential requisites of marriage which is the issuance of a valid marriage license.

The Court of Appeals is wrong in reversing the RTC. The Local Civil registrar’s certification enjoyed probative value as her duty was to maintain records of data relative to the issuance of a marriage license. There is a presumption of regularity of official acts in favor of the local civil registrar. Gloria was not able to overcome this presumption hence it stands to favor Abbas.

The fact that Abbas did sign the marriage contract does not make it conclusive that there was in fact a valid marriage license issued to him nor does it cure the fact that no marriage license was issued to Abbas. Article 4 of the Family Code is clear when it says, “The absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio.” Article 35(3) of the Family Code also provides that a marriage solemnized without a license is void from the beginning.

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