Minoru Fujiki vs Maria Paz Marinay

May 31, 2015
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700 SCRA 69 – Civil Law – Family Code – Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage – Who May File – Bigamy

Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – Rule 108 – Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages – A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC

In January 204, Minoru Fujiki, a Japanese citizen, married Maria Paz Marinay, a Filipino, here in the Philippines. But in May 2008, Marinay, while her marriage with Fujiki was still subsisting, married another Japanese citizen (Shinichi Maekara), here in the Philippines. Marinay and Maekara later went to Japan.

In 2010, Fujiki and Marinay reconciled and decided to resurrect their love affair. Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a Japanese judgment declaring Marinay’s marriage with Maekara void on the ground of bigamy. Said decree was granted in the same year. Fujiki and Marinay later went back home to the Philippines together.

In 2011, Fujiki went to the RTC of Quezon City and filed a petition entitled “Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)“. He filed the petition under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court (Cancellation Or Correction Of Entries In The Civil Registry). Basically, Fujiki wanted the following to be done:

(1) the Japanese Family Court judgment be recognized;

(2) that the bigamous marriage between Marinay and Maekara be declared void ab initio under Articles 35(4) and 41 of the Family Code of the Philippines; and

(3) for the RTC to direct the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City to annotate the Japanese Family Court judgment on the Certificate of Marriage between Marinay and Maekara and to endorse such annotation to the Office of the Administrator and Civil Registrar General in the National Statistics Office (NSO).

The RTC dismissed the petition on the ground that what Fujiki wanted is to have the marriage between Marinay and Maekara be declared null (hence a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage); that under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC or the “Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages”, a petition for such may only be filed by the husband or wife or in this case either Maekara or Marinay only.

ISSUE: Whether or not the RTC is correct.

HELD: No. A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is not applicable here. What’s applicable is Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. As aptly commented by the Solicitor General:

Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is the procedure to record “[a]cts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons” in the civil registry as required by Article 407 of the Civil Code. In other words, “[t]he law requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that produce legal consequences upon a person’s legal capacity and status x x x.” The Japanese Family Court judgment directly bears on the civil status of a Filipino citizen and should therefore be proven as a fact in a Rule 108 proceeding.

Thus:

The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country. Moreover, in Juliano-Llave v. Republic, this Court held that the rule in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC that only the husband or wife can file a declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage “does not apply if the reason behind the petition is bigamy.”

But how will Fujiki’s petition in the RTC prosper?

Fujiki needs to prove the foreign judgment as a fact under the Rules of Court. To be more specific, a copy of the foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules of Court.

Fujiki may prove the Japanese Family Court judgment through

(1) an official publication or

(2) a certification or copy attested by the officer who has custody of the judgment. If the office which has custody is in a foreign country such as Japan, the certification may be made by the proper diplomatic or consular officer of the Philippine foreign service in Japan and authenticated by the seal of office.

 

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