Civil Law

Balogbog v. CA G.R. No. 83598 March 7, 1997 Marriage

FACTS:

Petitioners Leoncia and Gaudioso Balogbog are the children of Basilio Balogbog and Genoveva Arzibal who died intestate in 1951 and 1961, respectively. They had an older brother, Gavino, who predeceased their parents.

Private respondents Ramonito and Generoso Balogbog brought an action for partition and accounting against petitioners, claiming that they were the legitimate children of Gavino by Catalina Ubas, and that, as such, they were entitled to the one-third share of Gavino in the estate of their grandparents.

Petitioners denied knowing private respondents. They alleged that their brother Gavino died single and without issue.

Private respondents presented Priscilo Trazo, mayor of the municipality of Asturias from 1928 to 1934, and Matias Pogoy, afamily friend, who both testified that they attended the wedding of Gavino and Catalina.

Catalina testified concerning her marriage to Gavino, and that after the wedding, she was handed a “receipt,” presumably the marriage certificate, by Fr. Jomao-as, but it was burned during the war. 

A certificate from the Office of the Local Civil Registrar showed that did not have a record of the marriage of Gavino and Catalina, another certificate from the Office of the Treasurer that there was no record of the birth of Ramonito, and for this reason, the record must be presumed to have been lost or destroyed during the war.

The Court of First Instance of Cebu City rendered judgment for private respondents, ordering the partition of the estate and delivery to private respondents one-third of the estate of Basilio and Genoveva, and to pay attorney’s fees and costs.

On appeal, the CA affirmed the assailed judgment.

Hence, this petition.

ISSUE:

Rule on the existence of marriage between Gavino and Catalina.

RULING:

The decision appealed from is AFFIRMED.

In Pugeda v. Trias, evidence consisting of the testimonies of witnesses was held competent to prove the marriage. Indeed, although a marriage contract is considered primary evidence of marriage, the failure to present it is not proof that no marriage took place. Other evidence may be presented to prove marriage.  

Here, private respondents proved, through testimonial evidence, that Gavino and Catalina were married in 1929; that they had three children, one of whom died in infancy; that their marriage subsisted until 1935 when Gavino died; and that their children, private respondents herein, were recognized by Gavino’s family and by the public as the legitimate children of Gavino.

There is no merit in the argument that the existence of the marriage cannot be presumed because there was no evidence showing in particular that Gavino and Catalina, in the presence of two witnesses, declared that they were taking each other as husband and wife.  

An exchange of vows can be presumed to have been made from the testimonies of the witnesses who state that a wedding took place, since the very purpose for having a wedding is to exchange vows of marital commitment. 

The law favors the validity of marriage, because the State is interested in the preservation of the family and the sanctity of the family is a matter of constitutional concern. 

As stated in Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee: 

The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but it is a new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any counter-presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact married. 

Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio — Always presume marriage.

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