My friend from Dumaguete City (Negros Oriental) is being petitioned by her fiancé who is working in Norway.
They are both Filipino citizens but her fiancé is already an immigrant of Norway. When she applied for her CENOMAR, she was shocked to learn that she is already married. Well, she is not “married” because she never contracted marriage with anyone, although it boggles her mind how her personal information matches the ones indicated in the marriage certificate issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority. The so-called marriage transpired in La Union, where she has never been, with a man she has not even met, although she said the names of two of the witnesses are familiar to her. The signature is also not hers. Can she file for the cancelation of entries of her personal information in the marriage certificate because she does not like her details to appear in a certificate where she has no participation whatsoever? Will this be the same as filing for nullification of the purported marriage?
A person who is interested in any act, event, order or decree concerning the civil status of persons that has been recorded in the civil register may file a verified petition for cancelation or correction of any entry relating thereto. If the rectification is substantial in nature, as when it involves the cancelation or correction of the civil status, citizenship or nationality of a person, it should be filed before the Regional Trial Court, which has jurisdiction over the Office of the Civil Registrar where such entries were recorded (Section 1, Rule 108, Rules of Court).
In the situation that you have shared with us, it appears that your friend’s personal circumstances are reflected in a marriage certificate that has been recorded in the civil register and she seeks the cancelation of these entries as they are alleged to have been erroneously made given that she did not actually enter into a contract of marriage with the other party therein. Corollary, we believe that she may file a petition for the cancelation of entries before the court, which has jurisdiction over the Office of the Civil Registrar where such entries were recorded. The concerned Local Civil Registrar and all persons whose interest may be affected thereby must be made parties thereto. (Section 3, Id.)
Once the petition is filed, the court shall issue an order fixing the time and place of the hearing thereof and require that notices be given to the persons named therein. It shall also mandate that the order be published in a newspaper of general circulation, once a week for three consecutive weeks. (Section 4, Id.)
Your friend must present numerous pieces of concrete evidence, which would establish that, indeed, no marriage was entered into between her and her supposed husband, and that it is not her signature that appears in the marriage certificate. The civil registrar and the persons having or claiming any interest relative to those entries may file their opposition. It must be done within fifteen days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of publication of such notice. (Section 5, Id.)
If your friend is able to convince the court, her petition may be granted and a certified copy of the judgment shall be served upon the concerned civil registrar, who shall annotate the same in his record. (Section 7, Id.)
We wish to emphasize that the above-mentioned procedure is not similar to a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage. Neither can it be utilized as a substitute for the latter. If a marriage in fact transpired between a man and a woman, only there is a ground for the nullification or annulment thereof pursuant to our Family Code, then the proper remedy is to file the appropriate petition for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage. If, however, there is no marriage to speak of, as when no marriage was actually celebrated between the parties thereof, and what is merely being sought is the cancelation or correction of entries made in the civil register, then a petition for the cancelation of entries may be availed of (Republic of the Philippines vs. Olaybar, G.R. No. 189538, February 10, 2014, Ponente, Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org