Posted by: Elmer Brabante | September 1, 2009

Navarro vs. Domagtoy


NAVARRO VS. DOMAGTOY

259 SCRA 129

July 19, 1996 

FACTS:

                Complainant Mayor Rodolfo Navarro of Dapa, Surigao del Norte filed this case to the Supreme Court against respondent Judge Henando Domagtoy of MCTC of Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte, for gross misconduct as well as inefficiency and ignorance of the law. 

                First, on Sept. 24, 1994, Judge Domagtoy solemnized the marriage of Gaspar Tagadan and Arlyn Borja despite his knowledge that Tagadan was merely separated from his wife.  Second, her performed a marriage ceremony between Floriano Sumaylo and Gemma del Rosario in October 1994 at respondent judge’s residence in Dapa, SDN.  As to the first, Domagtoy contended that he merely relied on the affidavit issued by the RTC Judge of Bassey, Samar, which stated that Tagadan and his wife have not seen each other for almost seven years.  However, the certified true copy of the marriage contract between Tagadan and Borja showed that his civil status was “separated”. 

ISSUE:

(1)     Whether or not a court may solemnize another marriage of a husband who was merely separated from his wife for almost seven years.

(2)     Whether or not a Judge may solemnize a marriage at his residence. 

HELD:

                (1) Article 41 of the Family Code expressly provides that a marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead.  In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient. 

                For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in the Code for the declaration of presumptive death.  Absent this judicial declaration, he remains to be married to Peñaranda.  Wittingly or unwittingly, it was manifest error on the part of respondent judge to have accepted the joind affidavit submitted by Tagadan.  Such neglect or ignorance of the law has resulted in a bigamous and therefore void marriage. 

                (2) Art. 7. A marriage may be solemnized by (1) any incumbent member of the judiciary within the court’s jurisdiction xxx .  Article 8, however, states that marriages shall be solemnized publicly in the chambers of the judge or in open court, in the church, chapel or temple, or in the office of the consul-general, consul or vice consul, as the case may be, and not elsewhere, except in cases of marriages contracted on the point of death or in remote places in accordance with Art. 29 of the Family Code, or where both parties in which case the marriage may be solemnized at a house or place designated by them in a sworn statement to that effect. 

                There is no pretense that either Sumaylo or del Rosario was at the point of death or in a remote place.  Moreover, the written request presented addressed to the respondent judge is the “authority of the solemnizing officer”.  Under Art. 8, which is only a discretionary 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. Non-compliance herewith will not invalidate the marriage. 

                Judges who are appointed to specific jurisdiction may officiate in marriages only within said areas and not beyond.  Where a judge solemnizes a marriage outside his court’s jurisdiction, there is a resultant irregularity in the formal requisite laid down in Article 3 which while it may not affect the validity of the marriage, may subject the officiating official to administrative liability.               

                Judge Domagtoy was suspended for six months for demonstrating gross ignorance of the law.

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