Monday, August 31, 2015

Case Digest: Ronulo v. People


G.R. No. 182438, 2 July 2014.


Joey Umadac and Claire Bingayen were scheduled to marry on 29 March 2003 at the Sta. Rosa Catholic Parish Church in Ilocos Norte. But on the day of the wedding, the church's officiating priest refused to solemnize the marriage because of lack of a marriage license.

With the couple and the guests already dressed for the wedding, they headed to an Aglipayan Church. The Aglipayan priest, herein petitioner Ronulo, conducted a ceremony on the same day where the couple took each other as husband and wife in front of the guests. This was despite Petitioner's knowledge of the couple's lack of marriage license.

Petitioner was eventually charged of violating Article 352 of the RPC for performing an illegal marriage ceremony.

The MTC did not believe Petitioner's defense that what he did was an act of blessing and was not tantamount to solemnization of marriage and was found guilty.

The decision was affirmed by both the RTC and the CA.

ISSUE: W/N Petitioner committed an illegal marriage.


Article 352 of the RPC penalizes an authorized solemnizing officer who shall perform or authorize any illegal marriage ceremony. The elements of this crime are: 
  1. authority of the solemnizing officer; and 
  2. his performance of an illegal marriage ceremony.
The first element is present since Petitioner himself admitted that he has authority to solemnize a marriage.

The second element is present since the alleged "blessing" by Petitioner is tantamount to the performance of an illegal marriage ceremony.

There is no prescribed form or rite for the solemnization of a marriage. However, Article 6 of the Family Code provides that it shall be necessary: 
  1. for the contracting parties to appear personally before the solemnizing officer; and 
  2. declare in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age that they take each other as husband and wife.
The first requirement is present since petitioner admitted to it. The second requirement is likewise present since the prosecution, through the testimony of its witnesses, proved that the contracting parties personally declared that they take each other as husband and wife.

The penalty for violating Article 352 of the RPC is in accordance with the provision of the Marriage Law, specifically Article 44, which states that:
Section 44. General Penal Clause – Any violation of any provision of this Act not specifically penalized, or of the regulations to be promulgated by the proper authorities, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred pesos or by imprisonment for not more than one month, or both, in the discretion of the court.
As such, Petitioner was held guilty of violating Article 352 and was fined P200 as penalty.


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