Friday, December 16, 2011

Ablaza v. Republic, G. R. 158298, August 11, 2010

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FACTS: On October 17, 2000, the petitioner filed in the RTC Masbate a petition for the declaration of the absolute nullity of the marriage contracted on December 26, 1949 between his late brother A and B.

The petitioner alleged that the marriage between A and B had been celebrated without a marriage license, due to such license being issued only on January 9, 1950, thereby rendering the marriage void ab initio for having been solemnized without a marriage license.

ISSUE: Whether a person may bring an action for the declaration of the absolute nullity of the marriage of his deceased brother solemnized under the regime of the OLD Civil Code?

RULING: YES. Before anything more, the Court has to clarify the impact to the issue posed herein of Administrative Matter (A.M.) No. 02-11-10-SC (Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages), which took effect on March 15, 2003.

Section 2, paragraph (a), of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC explicitly provides the limitation that a petition for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the husband or wife. Such limitation demarcates a line to distinguish between marriages covered by the Family Code and those solemnized under the regime of the Civil Code. Specifically, A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC extends only to marriages covered by the Family Code, which took effect on August 3, 1988, but, being a procedural rule that is prospective in application, is confined only to proceedings commenced after March 15, 2003.

Based on Carlos v. Sandoval, the following actions for declaration of absolute nullity of a marriage are excepted from the limitation, to wit:

Those commenced before March 15, 2003, the effectivity date of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC; and

Those filed vis-à-vis marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the Civil Code and, those celebrated under the regime of the Family Code prior to March 15, 2003.

Considering that the marriage between A and B was contracted on December 26, 1949, the applicable law was the old Civil Code, the law in effect at the time of the celebration of the marriage. Hence, the rule on the exclusivity of the parties to the marriage as having the right to initiate the action for declaration of nullity of the marriage under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC had absolutely no application to the petitioner.

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