Cosca vs. Palaypayon
237 SCRA 249
The following are the complainants: Juvy N. Cosca (Stenographer 1), Edmundo B. Peralta (Interpreter 1), Ramon C. Sambo (Clerk II) and Apollo Villamora (Process Server). Respondents are Judge Lucio Palaypayon Jr., the presiding judge, and Nelia B. Esmeralda-Baroy, clerk of court II. All work in MTC-Tinambac, Camarines Sur.
Complainants alleged that Palaypayon solemnized marriages even without the requisite of a marriage license. Hence, the following couples were able to get married just by paying the marriage fees to respondent Baroy: Alano P. Abellano & Nelly Edralin; Francisco Selpo & Julieta Carrido; Eddie Terrobias & Maria Gacer; Renato Gamay & Maricris Belga; Arsenio Sabater & Margarita Nacario; Sammy Bocaya & Gina Bismonte. As a consequence, the marriage contracts of the following couples did not reflect any marriage license number. In addition, Palaypayon did not sign the marriage contracts and did not indicate the date of solemnization reasoning out that he allegedly had to wait for the marriage license to be submitted by the parties which happens usually several days after the marriage ceremony.
Palaypayon contends that marriage between Abellano & Edralin falls under Article 34 of the Civil Code thus exempted from the marriage license requirement. According to him, he gave strict instructions to complainant Sambo to furnish the couple copy of the marriage contract and to file the same with the civil registrar but the latter failed to do so. In order to solve the problem, the spouses subsequently formalized the marriage by securing a marriage license and executing their marriage contract, a copy of which was then filed with the civil registrar. The other five marriages were not illegally solemnized because Palaypayon did not sign their marriage contracts and the date and place of marriage are not included. It was alleged that copies of these marriage contracts are in the custody of complainant Sambo. The alleged marriage of Selpo & Carrido, Terrobias & Gacer, Gamay & Belga, Sabater & Nacario were not celebrated by him since he refused to solemnize them in the absence of a marriage license and that the marriage of Bocaya & Bismonte was celebrated even without the requisite license due to the insistence of the parties to avoid embarrassment with the guests which he again did not sign the marriage contract.
An illegal solemnization of marriage was charged against the respondents.
ISSUE: Whether the marriage solemnized by Judge Palaypayon were valid.
Bocaya & Besmonte’s marriage was solemnized without a marriage license along with the other couples. The testimonies of Bocay and Pompeo Ariola including the photographs taken showed that it was really Judge Palaypayon who solemnized their marriage. Bocaya declared that they were advised by judge to return after 10 days after the solemnization and bring with them their marriage license. They already started living together as husband and wife even without the formal requisite. With respect to the photographs, judge explained that it was a simulated solemnization of marriage and not a real one. However, considering that there were pictures from the start of the wedding ceremony up to the signing of the marriage certificates in front of him. The court held that it is hard to believe that it was simulated.
On the other hand, Judge Palaypayon admitted that he solemnized marriage between Abellano & Edralin and claimed it was under Article 34 of the Civil Code so the marriage license was dispensed with considering that the contracting parties executed a joint affidavit that they have been living together as husband and wife for almost 6 years already. However, it was shown in the marriage contract that Abellano was only 18 yrs 2months and 7 days old. If he and Edralin had been living together for 6 years already before they got married as what is stated in the joint affidavit, Abellano must have been less than 13 years old when they started living together which is hard to believe. Palaypayon should have been aware, as it is his duty to ascertain the qualification of the contracting parties who might have executed a false joint affidavit in order to avoid the marriage license requirement.
Article 4 of the Family Code pertinently provides that “in the absence of any of the essential or formal requisites shall render the marriage void ab initio whereas an irregularity in the formal requisite shall not affect the validity of the marriage but the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally, and administratively liable.