Civil Law

Board of Commissioners vs Judge Joselito Dela Rosa

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G.R. Nos. 95122-23 – 197 SCRA 863 – Civil Law – Preliminary Title – Conflict of Laws – Foreign Laws; How Proven – Proof of Foreign Laws – Processual Presumption

In July 1960, Santiago Gatchalian was recognized as a natural born Filipino by the Bureau of Immigration. Santiago married in China a Chinese woman with whom he had a son named Francisco. Francisco also married a Chinese woman in China with whom he had a son named William.

In June 1961, Francisco and his minor son William Gatchalian arrived in the Philippines from Hong Kong. William was seeking to be admitted as a Filipino citizen. In July 1961, the Board of Special Inquiry recognized William as a Filipino.

In January 1962, the Secretary of Justice issued a resolution setting aside the recognition of William and others who were similarly situated. The Secretary likewise ordered the Bureau of Commissioners to review decisions made by the Bureau of Special Inquiry.

In July 1962, the Bureau of Commissioners reversed the recognition made by the Bureau of Special Inquiry anent the citizenship of William. Subsequently, a warrant of exclusion was issued against William for him to be deported. William filed a motion for reconsideration.

In 1973, his motion was granted and the original recognition made in William’s favor was reinstated. Since his arrival in 1961, William has continuously lived in the Philippines. He built his family and business here and was even a registered voter here.

However, in 1990, the National Bureau of Investigation recommended the filing of a criminal case against William for violation of the Immigration Act. It was alleged that the recognition issued in favor of William was invalid. Eventually, the Commission of Immigration and Deportation ordered the arrest of William. William posted bail then he filed an injunction case against the Board of Commissioners in the Regional Trial Court presided by Judge Joselito Dela Rosa. The Board of Commissioners filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the court has no jurisdiction over the Board of Commissioners nor the Board of Special Inquiry. The Judge denied the Motion to Dismiss. The Board of Commissioners then filed a certiorari case against Judge Dela Rosa. Other than the issue on jurisdiction, it was also alleged that there was no proof that Santiago’s and Francisco’s marriages with their respective Chinese wives in China were valid. It was argued that William must prove that under Chinese law, his father’s marriage with William’s mother in China is valid. Without such proof, William is an illegitimate child who should follow the citizenship of her Chinese mother.

ISSUE: Whether or not the marriage of Francisco Gatchalian in China is valid in accordance with Philippine Law.

HELD: Yes.┬áThe Supreme Court held that in the absence of the evidence to the contrary foreign laws on a particular subject are presumed to be the same as those of the Philippines. This is known as Processual Presumption. In this case, there being no proof of Chinese law relating to marriage, there arises a presumption that it is the same of that of Philippine law the said marriage then is declared valid. Therefore, William Gatchalian following the citizenship of his father is a Filipino citizen. William does not need to prove the Chinese Law as said law is considered the same as Philippine Law. And under Philippine Law, all marriages performed outside of the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were performed, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country. And any doubt as to the validity of the matrimonial unity and the extent as to how far the validity of such marriage may be extended to the consequences of the coverture is answered by Art. 220 of the Civil Code in this manner: “In case of doubt, all presumptions favor the solidarity of the family. Thus, every intendment of law or facts leans toward the validity of marriage, the indissolubility of the marriage bonds, the legitimacy of children, the community of property during marriage, the authority of parents over their children, and the validity of defense for any member of the family in case of unlawful aggression. Lastly, he who asserts that the marriage is not valid under our law bears the burden of proof to present the foreign law.

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