Saturday, February 25, 2012

Navarro vs. Domagtoy [259 SCRA 129]

Facts: Respondent Judge was alleged to have committed two specific acts exhibiting gross misconduct as well as inefficiency in office and ignorance of the law: 

a) Respondent Judge solemnized the marriage between Gaspar Tagadan and Arlyn Borja on September 27, 1994 despite the lack of a summary proceeding for the declaration of Mr. Tagadan’s first wife’s (Ida Peñaranda) presumptive death. Respondent states that the joint affidavit presented by the groom confirming the fact that Mr. Tagadan and his first wife have not seen each other for almost seven years is sufficient proof of Ida Peñaranda’s presumptive death, and therefore, an ample reason for him to proceed with the marriage ceremony. 

b) Respondent Judge performed a marriage ceremony between Floriano Dador Sumaylo and Gemma G. del Rosario outside his court’s jurisdiction on October 27, 1994. Respondent maintains that this is not a violation of Article 7 (1) of the Family Code which states that: “Marriage may be solemnized by: (1) Any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court’s jurisdiction”; and that Article 8 which states, a marriage can be held outside of the judge’s chambers or courtroom only in the following instances: (1) at the point of death, (2) in remote places in accordance with Article 29 or (3) upon request of both parties in writing in a sworn statement to this effect thereof applies to the case in question. 

(1) Whether or not the marriages solemnized by the respondent judge are valid under the Family Code; and 

(2) Whether or not respondent is subject to administrative liability 

Held: First marriage is not valid. Article 41 of the Family Code requires that even if the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead, a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death is necessary in order to contract a subsequent marriage. Since Gaspar Tagadan failed to present such judicial declaration, he remains married to Ida Peñaranda. Respondent judge erred in accepting the joint affidavit submitted by the groom. The marriage solemnized has resulted in a bigamous, and therefore void, marriage as provided under Article 35 of the Family Code, “The following marriage shall be void from the beginning; (4) Those bigamous x x x marriages not falling under Article 41. 

Second marriage is valid. Under Article 3 of the Family Code, one of the formal requisites of marriage is the “authority of the solemnizing officer.” Under Article 7(1), marriage may be solemnized by, among others, “any incumbent member of the Judiciary within the Court’s jurisdiction.” Respondent Judge holds jurisdiction in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta. Maria-Burgos, Surigao del Norte. The wedding between Floriano Dador Sumaylo and Gemma G. del Rosario was solemnized at the respondent Judge’s residence in the municipality of Dapa, which does not fall within his jurisdictional area. Article 8, which is a directory provision, refers only to the venue of the marriage ceremony and does not alter or qualify the authority of the solemnizing officer as provided in the preceding provision. Article 8 requires both parties to present a written request. The written request presented addressed to respondent judge was made by only one party, Gemma del Rosario. Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his court’s jurisdiction, while there is a resultant irregularity in the formal requisite laid down in Article 3, the validity of the marriage is not affected. It is the officiating official, respondent Judge, who shall be subject to administrative liability.

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