GR. No. 18081 March 3, 1922
Mora Adong, petitioner and appellant
vs. Cheong Seng Gee, opponent and appellant
Agpalo’s Statutory Construction quoted this case to wit: “The policy of the law, once ascertained should be given effect by the judiciary. One way of accomplishing this mandate is to give a statute of doubtful meaning, a construction that will promote public policy.”
FACTS: Cheong Boo, a native of China died in Zamboanga, Philippine Islands on August 5, 1919 and left property worth nearly P100,000 which is now being claimed by two parties - (1) Cheong Seng Gee who alleged that he was a legitimate child by marriag contracted by Cheong Boo with Tan Bit in China in 1985, and (2) Mora Adong who alleged that she had been lawfully married to Cheong Boo in 1896 in Basilan, Philippine Islands and had two daughters with the deceased namely Payang and Rosalia.
The conflicting claims to Cheong Boo’s estate were ventilated in the lower court that ruled that Cheong Seng Gee failed to sufficiently establish the Chinese marriage through a mere letter testifying that Cheong Boo and Tan Bit married each other but that because Cheong Seng Gee had been admitted to the Philippine Islands as the son of the deceased, he should share in the estate as a natural child. With reference to the allegations of Mora Adong and her daughters, the trial court reached the conclusion that the marriage between Adong and Cheong Boo had been adequately proved but that under the laws of the Philippine Islands it could not be held to be a lawful marriage and thus the daughter Payang and Rosalia would inherit as natural children.
The lower court believes that Mohammedan marriages are not valid under the Philippine Island’s laws this as an Imam as a solemnizing officer and under Quaranic laws.
Whether or not the Chinese marriage between Cheong Boo and Tan Dit is valid
Whether or not the Mohammedan marriage between Cheong Boo and Mora Adong is valid
RULING: The Supreme Court found the (1) Chinese marriage not proved and Chinaman Cheong Seng Gee has only the rights of a natural child while (2) it found the Mohammedan marriage to be proved and to be valid, thus giving to the widow Mora Adong and the legitimate children Payang and Rosalia the rights accruing to them under the law.
HELD: (FOR STATCON)
The Supreme Court held that marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract but it is a new relation, an instruction in the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested.
The presumption as to marriage is that every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of counter-presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact married. The reason is that such is the common order of society, and if the parties were not what they thus hold themselves out as being, they would be living in the constant violation of decency of the law. As to retroactive force, marriage laws is in the nature of a curative provision intended to safeguard society by legalizing prior marriages. Public policy should aid acts intended to validate marriages and should retard acts intended to invalidate marriages. This as for public policy, the courts can properly incline the scales of their decision in favor of that solution which will most effectively promote the public policy. That is the true construction which will best carry legislative intention into effect.
Sec. IV of the Marriage law provides that “all marriages contracted outside the islands, which would be valid by the laws of the country in which the same were contracted, are valid in these islands. To establish a valid foreign marriage pursuant to this comity
provision, it is first necessary to prove before the courts ofthe Islands the existence of the foreign law as a question of fact, and it is then necessary to prove the alleged foreign marriage by convincing evidence. A Philippine marriage followed by 23 years of uninterrupted marital life, should not be impugned and discredited, after the death of the husband through an alleged prior Chinese marriage, “save upon proof so clear, strong and unequivocal as to produce a moral conviction of the existence of such impediment.” A marriage alleged to have been contracted in China and proven mainly by a so-called matrimonial letter held not to be valid in the Philippines.