Rayray vs Kyung Lee (GR No. L-18176 October 26, 1966)

Rayray vs Kyung Lee
GR No. L-18176 October 26, 1966

Facts: Plaintiff Lazaro Rayray seeks the annulment of his marriage to defendant Chae Kyung Lee. Inasmuch as, the latter’s whereabouts is unknown, and she was formerly a resident of Pusan, Korea, summons was served by publication, as provided in the Rules of Court. Thereafter, plaintiff moved that defendant be declared in default, she not having filed an answer, and that a date be set for the reception of his evidence. Before acting on this motion, the lower court referred the case to the City Fiscal of Manila pursuant to Articles 88 and 101 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, for the purpose of determining whether or not a collusion between the parties exists. Said officer having found no such collusion, the case was heard on the merits. In due course, thereafter, decision was rendered dismissing plaintiff’s complaint, without costs, upon the ground: (1) that the court could not nullify a marriage contracted abroad; and (2) that the facts proven do not warrant the relief prayed for. A reconsideration of this decision having been denied, plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeals, which certified the case to the Supreme Court, the jurisdiction of the lower court being in issue in the appeal.

Issues: Whether or not the lower court has jurisdiction to grant the annulment.

Whether or not the plaintiff is entitled for the relief prayed for.

Held: Yes. The subject-matter of the present case is the annulment of plaintiff’s marriage to the defendant, which is within the jurisdiction of our courts of first instance, and, in Manila, of its Court of Juvenile and Domestic Relations.

The same acquired jurisdiction over plaintiff herein by his submission thereto in consequence of the filing of the complaint herein. Defendant was placed under the jurisdiction of said court, upon the service of summons by publication.

This is an action in rem, for it concerns the status of the parties herein, and status affects or binds the whole word. The res in the present case is the relation between said parties, or their marriage tie. Jurisdiction over the same depends upon the nationality or domicile of the parties, not the place of celebration of marriage, or the locus celebrationis. Plaintiff here is a citizen of the Philippines, domiciled therein. His status is, therefore, subject to our jurisdiction, on both counts. True that defendant was and — under plaintiff’s — theory still is a non-resident alien. But, this fact does not deprive the lower court of its jurisdiction to pass upon the validity of her marriage to plaintiff herein.

Indeed, marriage is one of the cases of double status, in that the status therein involves and affects two persons. One is married, never in abstract or a vacuum, but, always to somebody else. Hence, a judicial decree on the marriage status of a person necessarily reflects upon the status of another and the relation between them. The prevailing rule is, accordingly, that a court has jurisdiction over the res, in an action for annulment of marriage, provided, at least, one of the parties is domiciled in, or a national of, the forum. Since plaintiff is a Filipino, domiciled in the Philippines, it follows that the lower court had jurisdiction over the res, in addition to its jurisdiction over the subject-matter and the parties. In other words, it could validly inquire into the legality of the marriage between the parties herein.

No. Plaintiff cannot possibly secure the relief prayed for unless full faith and credence are given to his testimony, but we cannot believe him for the records show that he would not hesitate to lie when it suits his purpose. Thus, for instance, when plaintiff contracted marriage with the defendant, he said that he was single, although, he admitted, this was a lie, because, sometime in 1940, he married in Baguio, one Adelaida Melecio or Valdez. But, then he would, also, have us believe that his marriage with the latter was illegal or fictitious, because Adelaida and he did no more than sign, on a small window in the City Hall of Baguio, certain documents the contents of which he did not read.

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