Case Digest: Llave v. Republic, Tamano & Tamano

G.R. No. 169766: March 30, 2011

ESTRELLITA JULIANO-LLAVE,Petitioner,v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, HAJA PUTRI ZORAYDA A. TAMANO and ADIB AHMAD A. TAMANO, Respondents.

FACTS:


Around 11 months before his death, Sen. Tamano married Estrellita twice initially under the Islamic laws and tradition and under a civil ceremony officiated by an RTC Judge at Malabang, Lanao del Sur.In their marriage contracts, Sen. Tamanos civil status was indicated as divorced.

Private respondents Haja Putri Zorayda A. Tamano (Zorayda) and her son Adib Ahmad A. Tamano (Adib filed a complaint with the RTC of Quezon City for the declaration of nullity of marriage between Estrellita and Sen. Tamano for being bigamous.

It was further alleged that since Zorayda and deceased were married when the NCC was already in effect, the subsequent marriage to Estrellita is void ab initio since divorce is not allowed under the NCC. Moreover, the deceased did not and could not have divorced Complainant Zorayda by invoking the provision of P.D. 1083, otherwise known as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, for the simple reason that the marriage of the deceased with Complainant Zorayda was never deemed, legally and factually, to have been one contracted under Muslim law.

Instead of filing an Answer, Estrellita filed a motion to dismiss. The trial court denied Estrellitas motion and asserted its jurisdiction over the case for declaration of nullity. Thus, Estrellita filed acertioraripetition before the SC questioning the denial of her Motion to Dismiss which was referred to and subsequently denied by the CA. This prompted Estrellita to file a petition for review on certiorari before the SC (GR No. 126603)

Subsequent to the promulgation of the CA Decision, the RTC ordered Estrellita to present her evidence but she asked for postponement. Unhappy with the delays in the resolution of their case, Zorayda and Adib moved to submit the case for decision, reasoning that Estrellita had long been delaying the case. Estrellita opposed, on the ground that she has not yet filed her answer as she still awaits the outcome of G.R. No. 126603.

The RTC rendered the aforementioned judgment declaring Estrellitas marriage with Sen. Tamano as void ab initio. On appeal to the CA, Estrellita argued that she was denied due process as the RTC rendered its judgment even without waiting for the finality of the Decision of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 126603. The CA denied the appeal as she was given ample opportunity to be heard but simply ignored it by asking for numerous postponements. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Estrellita was denied due process

Whether or not the marriage of Estrellita and Tamano was bigamous

HELD:

Remedial Law- "An application for certiorari is an independent action which is not part or a continuation of the trial which resulted in the rendition of the judgment complained of."

Estrellitas refusal to file an answer eventually led to the loss of her right to answer; and her pending petition for certiorari/review on certiorari questioning the denial of the motion to dismiss before the higher courts does not at all suspend the trial proceedings of the principal suit before the RTC of Quezon City.

Firstly, it can never be argued that Estrellita was deprived of her right to due process. She was never declared in default, and she even actively participated in the trial to defend her interest.

Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is explicit in stating that "[t]he petition shall not interrupt the course of the principal case unless a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction has been issued against the public respondent from further proceeding in the case.In fact, the trial court respected the CAs temporary restraining order and only after the CA rendered judgment did the RTC again require Estrellita to present her evidence.

Notably, when the CA judgment was elevated to us by way of Rule 45, we never issued any order precluding the trial court from proceeding with the principal action. With her numerous requests for postponements, Estrellita remained obstinate in refusing to file an answer or to present her evidence when it was her turn to do so, insisting that the trial court should wait first for our decision in G.R. No. 126603. Her failure to file an answer and her refusal to present her evidence were attributable only to herself and she should not be allowed to benefit from her own dilatory tactics to the prejudice of the other party.

Civil Law- A new law ought to affect the future, not what is past

The marriage between the late Sen. Tamano and Zorayda was celebrated in 1958, solemnized under civil and Muslim rites. The only law in force governing marriage relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims alike was the Civil Code of 1950, under the provisions of which only one marriage can exist at any given time.Under the marriage provisions of the Civil Code, divorce is not recognized except during the effectivity of Republic Act No. 394which was not availed of during its effectivity.

As far as Estrellita is concerned, Sen. Tamanos prior marriage to Zorayda has been severed by way of divorce under PD 1083,the law that codified Muslim personal laws. However, PD 1083 cannot benefit Estrellita. Firstly, Article 13(1) thereof provides that the law applies to "marriage and divorce wherein both parties are Muslims, or wherein only the male party is a Muslim and the marriage is solemnized in accordance with Muslim law or this Code in any part of the Philippines." But we already ruled in G.R. No. 126603 that "Article 13 of PD 1083 does not provide for a situation where the parties were married both in civil and Muslim rites."

Moreover, the Muslim Code took effect only on February 4, 1977, and this law cannot retroactively override the Civil Code which already bestowed certain rights on the marriage of Sen. Tamano and Zorayda.

DENIED.

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