Dear Atty. Duran-Schulze,
My fiancee and I are about to get married in the Philippines, her hometown is in Cebu. She applied for a CENOMAR and when it was received, it stated that she was already married to someone in Cebu City. She never signed any marriage document before, so we need help. How do we resolve this issue and get the records cleared?
In order to correct such erroneous entry, the best way to address this is to file a petition for cancellation of entry in the Marriage Certificate in court. Your fiancee may avail of the remedy provided under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court, as amended, which is specifically designed to correct or cancel erroneous entries in the civil registry. This includes the alleged erroneous entry in her Marriage Certificate:
“Section 1. Who may file a petition. — Any person interested in any act, event, order or decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry relating thereto, with the Court of First Instance of the province where the corresponding civil registry is located.
“Section 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. — Upon good and valid grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be canceled or corrected: (a) births: (b) marriage; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name.” (Emphases supplied)
Your fiancee’s situation is similar to the case of Republic of the Philippines vs. Merlinda L. Olaybar (GR 189538, Feb. 10, 2014), wherein the Supreme Court clarified the following:
“(A) petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil registry cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. xxx In other words, a Filipino citizen cannot dissolve his marriage by the mere expedient of changing his entry of marriage in the civil registry.
Aside from the certificate of marriage, no such evidence was presented to show the existence of marriage. Rather, the respondent showed by overwhelming evidence that no marriage was entered into and that she was not even aware of such existence. The testimonial and documentary evidence clearly established that the only “evidence” of marriage which is the marriage certificate was a forgery. xxx Otherwise stated, in allowing the correction of the subject certificate of marriage by canceling the wife portion thereof, the trial court did not, in any way, declare the marriage void as there was no marriage to speak of.”
Thus, your fiancee may avail the remedy of filing a verified petition for cancellation of entry provided that she can support her petition by presenting proof that she did not sign the certificate of marriage and that she did not appear before the solemnizing officer during the alleged marriage. In short, she must show by overwhelming evidence that no marriage was entered into, and she was not aware of such existence until she took a copy of her Cenomar.
By canceling the entry of “wife” where her name appears in the Marriage Certificate which, she will be able to secure a new Cenomar that will accordingly indicate that she is not married.