Republic of the Philippines v. Cipriano Orbecido III, G.R. No. 154380, 5 October 2005.

FACTS:

Cipriano Orbecido III married Lady Myros M. Villanueva at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Lam-an, Ozamis City. Their marriage was blessed with a son and a daughter.

Myros left for the United States bringing along their son Kristoffer. She had been naturalized as an American citizen, obtained divorce decree and married a certain Innocent Stanley.

Cipriano thereafter filed with the trial court a petition for authority to remarry invoking Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code. The Republic, herein petitioner, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), sought reconsideration but it was denied.

ISSUE:

Whether Paragraph 2 of Article 26 of the Family Code is applicable only to a valid mixed marriage; that is, a marriage celebrated between a Filipino citizen and an alien.

HELD:

NO. Legislative Intent: Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations showed that the intent of Paragraph 2 of Article 26, is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse.

Taking into consideration the legislative intent and applying the rule of reason, we hold that Paragraph 2 of Article 26 should be interpreted to include cases involving parties who, at the time of the celebration of the marriage were Filipino citizens, but later on, one of them becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and obtains a divorce decree. The Filipino spouse should likewise be allowed to remarry as if the other party were a foreigner at the time of the solemnization of the marriage. To rule otherwise would be to sanction absurdity and injustice.

The twin elements for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 as follows:

1.There is a valid marriage that has been celebrated between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner; and

2. A valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.

The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of the celebration of the marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry.

In this case, when Cipriano’s wife was naturalized as an American citizen, there was still a valid marriage that has been celebrated between her and Cipriano. As fate would have it, the naturalized alien wife subsequently obtained a valid divorce capacitating her to remarry. Clearly, the twin requisites for the application of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 are both present in this case. Thus Cipriano, the “divorced” Filipino spouse, should be allowed to remarry.
However, considering that in the present petition there is no sufficient evidence submitted and on record, we are unable to declare, based on respondent’s bare allegations that his wife, who was naturalized as an American citizen, had obtained a divorce decree and had remarried an American, that respondent is now capacitated to remarry. Such declaration could only be made properly upon respondent’s submission of the aforecited evidence in his favor. The petition by the Republic of the Philippines is GRANTED.

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