Civil Law

Edelina Ando vs Department of Foreign Affairs

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G.R. No. 195432 – 742 Phil. 37 – Civil Law – Persons and Family Relations – Family Code – Article 26; Foreign Divorce; how recognized

Remedial Law – Evidence – Foreign Divorce; Must be proven as a matter of fact

In 2001, Edelina Tungul married a Japanese citizen named Yuichiro Kobayashi. In 2004, Kobayashi obtained a divorce decree against Edelina in Japan. Kobayashi later married someone else.

In 2005, Edelina again married another Japanese citizen named Masatomi Ando.

Thereafter, Edelina tried to renew her passport but this time she wanted to use her married name – she wanted to use Ando’s name. However, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) told her that cannot be issued to her until she can prove by competent court decision that her marriage with her said husband Masatomi Ando is valid until otherwise declared.

In 2010, Edelina filed a petition for declaratory relief as she insists that she should be issued a passport bearing her married name even without a judicial declaration that her marriage with Ando is valid because, according to the law, void and voidable marriages enjoy the presumption of validity until proven otherwise. And also on that juncture, she prayed that the court recognize her second marriage as valid.

ISSUE: Whether or not the petition for declaratory relief should prosper.

HELD No. In the first place, the petition is misplaced. Edelina failed to exhaust all administrative remedies. When her request for renewal of passport under her married name was denied, she should have appealed the denial to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs – pursuant to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 8239 (Philippine Passport Act).

Second, her prayer to have her second marriage be “honored” is not proper. The proper remedy is for her to file a petition for the judicial recognition of her foreign divorce from her first husband.

A divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be recognized in our jurisdiction, provided the decree is valid according to the national law of the foreigner. The presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient; both the divorce decree and the governing personal law of the alien spouse who obtained the divorce must be proven. Because our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign laws and judgment, our law on evidence requires that both the divorce decree and the national law of the alien must be alleged and proven like any other fact.

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