Kenneth Mondero's "Let's take another look at Republic v. Manalo" (G.R. No. 221029, April 24, 2018)


PHOTO SOURCE: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2003/08/divorce-separation-broken-family-1599x900.jpg
REPUBLIC v. MANALO: The Supreme Court (SC) en banc issued a landmark ruling on Tuesday, April 24, recognizing divorce in marriages with foreigners. Voting 10-3-1, the SC en banc ruled "that a foreign divorce secured by a Filipino against a foreign spouse is also considered valid in the Philippines, even if it is the Filipino spouse who files for divorce abroad." The particular case was that of Marelyn Tanedo Manalo who was married to Japanese national Minoru Yoshino. Manalo filed for and was granted divorce in Japan in 2011. (G.R. No. 221029, April 24, 2018) SOURCE: https://www.rappler.com/nation/200950-supreme-court-landmark-ruling-divorce-foreign-marriages

In previous rulings of the Supreme Court, such as Republic v. Orbecido III (G.R. No. 154380, October 5, 2005), it has been held that the foreign spouse is the one who should acquire the divorce decree abroad. In this case, either the Filipino spouse or the other may file a petition for recognition of the foreign divorce decree. If successful, judgment may be obtained recognizing the divorce issued by a foreign court, capacitating the Filipino spouse to remarry.

PROJECT JURISPRUDENCE'S STAND: The law is clear. "Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly OBTAINED BY THE ALIEN spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have the capacity to remarry under Philippine law." (Article 26 of the Civil Code) The divorce decree must have been obtained by the alien spouse.

However, the argument is that this provision violates EQUAL PROTECTION OF LAW because the Filipino spouse is at the mercy of the foreigner. The question is, "Why should a foreigner be in a better standing, between him and his Filipino spouse, than a Filipino in releasing himself from the bonds of marriage?"
KENNETH MONDERO'S ARGUMENT: Taking another glance at Article 26, the law does not categorically state to the effect that only a divorce obtained by a foreign spouse will capacitate the Filipino spouse. It merely provides for the effect that should a foreign spouse obtain a divorce that capacitates him/her [foreign spouse] to remarry, it shall also capacitate the Filipino spouse to remarry. SOURCE: https://www.facebook.com/iamkengmondero?fref=gc&dti=342887616112507

It is Article 15 of the Civil Code that establishes the legal capacity of a Filipino spouse. In this jurisdiction, we adhere to the nationality principle. In addition, Paragraph 3 of Article 17 mandates the non-compromising principle that laws which have for their object...public policy...shall not be rendered ineffective by laws...promulgated...in a foreign country.

Since divorce is against the established public policy of the Philippines, it cannot be compromised, even to the disadvantage of the Filipinos themselves.

The recourse is in the legislative department to amend the law and carve a new public policy. Otherwise, the Supreme Court will have to strike down said law [in its prevailing construction] to make way for such lofty ideal as allowing a Filipino spouse in a mixed marriage to avail of the remedy open to his/her foreign spouse. But that path may be a precarious and delicate one, for it may throw into dispute some other time-honored principles.

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