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A question of validity

Nora Soriño .

ILIGAN City–Is a marriage ceremony done by an officer authorized to do so but does so inside a prison cell where he is a detainee valid?

The answer is “yes.”

The answer is also “no.”

“Yes,” because the papers seem to be in order. The parties sign the paper–the couple being married, the witnesses, the solemnizing officer, even the city civil registrar. And all the other parties  duty bound  to sign such.

“No,” because the passport issuing office thinks so. Read on, please.

More than two years ago, 30 or so pairs were married inside the Tipanoy city jail when then city mayor Celso G. Regencia was detained in connection with the ambush of the convoy of then congressman Vicente Belmonte Jr. of the city’s lone district in Dec. 11, 2014 where the mayor was tagged as the mastermind.

A judge then during that time, Judge Arthur Abundiente of a Regional Trial Court here ruled that the mayor could act as mayor of this city even if in detention. He had cited several cases of such, like Sen, Antonio Trillanes IV and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

And so, Regencia did such — act as mayor.  Including solemnizing marriages.    But what happened is that a party in a marriage in which he had solemnized had trouble with the authorities later.

Dina (not her real name) was questioned in connection with such marriage contract being solemnized inside a jail. She wasn’t issued a passport because of that. So her travel plans to New Zealand hit a snag.

All because of that damn marriage contract. Solemnized inside a jail facility.

But, there should not have been such questions if Dina had not applied for a passport.

So, another query begs to be answered: How are the offsprings of such union classified? Legitimate? Or illegitimate?

It might be noted that later on, another judge, Ombra Bacaraman, reversed Abundiente’s decision. That the mayor could not function as such because he was “legally incapacitated.”

But the solemnizing of some marriages had  long  been done. Before that other decision.

To note too, the  ambush case of the mayor was later on dismissed and he became a free man and really acted and functioned as mayor. Although in the course of his duties, he was slapped with a three-month suspension. Because of that, functioning as mayor inside a jail facility.

So, back to the question: Was the marriage he solemnized valid?

My little brain says it is not void, but voidable. Valid until one party applies for a passport or something like that. This is my three units of law, in “Obligations and Contracts” tell me (although they say, “little knowledge is dangerous”).

What lesson can  then can we get from this matter?

I asked Mely, a friend on this and she said: “Let yourself be married by a detained solemnizing officer at your own risk.”

“Yes,” I couldn’t help but agree with her profusely!


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