Petitioner Minoru Fujiki (Fujiki) is a Japanese national who married respondent Maria Paz Galela Marinay (Marinay) in the Philippines on 23 January 2004. The marriage did not sit well with petitioner’s parents. Thus, Fujiki could not bring his wife to Japan where he resides. Eventually, they lost contact with each other.
In 2008, Marinay met another Japanese, Shinichi Maekara (Maekara). Without the first marriage being dissolved, Marinay and Maekara were married on 15 May 2008 in Quezon City, Philippines. Maekara brought Marinay to Japan. However, Marinay allegedly suffered physical abuse from Maekara. She left Maekara and started to contact Fujiki.
Fujiki and Marinay met in Japan and they were able to reestablish their relationship. In 2010, Fujiki helped Marinay obtain a judgment from a family court in Japan which declared the marriage between Marinay and Maekara void on the ground of bigamy. On 14 January 2011, Fujiki filed a petition in the RTC entitled: “Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment (or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage).”
RTC dismissed the petition for "Judicial Recognition of Foreign Judgment ·(or Decree of Absolute Nullity of Marriage)" based on improper venue and the lack of personality of petitioner, Minoru Fujiki, to file the petition.
Fujiki filed a motion for reconsideration which the RTC denied upon consideration that Fujiki as a "third person” in the proceeding because he "is not the husband in the decree of divorce issued by the Japanese Family Court, which he now seeks to be judicially recognized.
The OSG agreed with the petitioner that the RTC’s decision be set aside.
1. Whether the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) is applicable.
2. Whether a husband or wife of a prior marriage can file a petition to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying the subsequent marriage between his or her spouse and a foreign citizen on the ground of bigamy.
3. Whether the RTC can recognize the foreign judgment in a proceeding for cancellation or correction of entries in the Civil Registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
1. No. Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC) does not apply in a petition to recognize a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage where one of the parties is a citizen of a foreign country.
2. YES. The prior spouse has a personal and material interest in maintaining the integrity of the marriage he contracted and the property relations arising from it. Fujiki has the personality to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Family Court judgment nullifying the marriage between Marinay and Maekara on the ground of bigamy because the judgment concerns his civil status as married to Marinay.
3. YES. The Philippine court can recognize the effectivity of a foreign judgment, which presupposes a case which was already tried and decided under foreign law. Philippine courts already have jurisdiction to extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines to the extent that the foreign judgment does not contravene domestic public policy. However, the Philippine courts have jurisdiction to recognize a foreign judgment nullifying a bigamous marriage, without prejudice to a criminal prosecution for bigamy.
In the recognition of foreign judgments, Philippine courts are incompetent to substitute their judgment on how a case was decided under foreign law. They cannot decide on the "family rights and duties, or on the status, condition and legal capacity" of the foreign citizen who is a party to the foreign judgment. Thus, Philippine courts are limited to the question of whether to extend the effect of a foreign judgment in the Philippines. In a foreign judgment relating to the status of a marriage involving a citizen of a foreign country, Philippine courts only decide whether to extend its effect to the Filipino party, under the rule of lex nationalii expressed in Article 15 of the Civil Code