Adong vs Cheong Seng Gee (43 Phil 43)

Adong vs Cheong Seng Gee
43 Phil 43 [GR No. 18081 March 3, 1922]

Facts: Cheong Boo, a native of China, died intestate in Zamboanga, Philippine Islands, on August 5, 1919. He left property worth nearly P100,000. The estate of the deceased was claimed, on the one hand, by Cheong Seng Gee, who alleged that he was a legitimate child by a marriage contracted by Cheong Boo with Tan Dit in China in 1895. The estate was claimed, on the other hand, by the Mora Adong who alleged that she had been lawfully married to Cheong Boo in 1896 in Basilan, Philippine Islands, and her daughters, Payang, married to Cheng Bian Chay, and Rosalia Cheong Boo, unmarried. The conflicting claims to the estate of Cheong Boo were ventilated in the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga. The trial judge, the Honorable Quirico Abeto, after hearing the evidence presented by both sides, reached the conclusion, with reference to the allegations of Cheong Seng Gee, that the proof did not sufficiently establish the Chinese marriage, 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 the Mora Adong and her daughters Payang and Rosalia, the trial judge reached the conclusion that the marriage between the Mora Adong and the deceased had been adequately proved but that under the laws of the Philippine Islands it could not be held to be a lawful marriage; accordingly, the daughters Payang and Rosalia would inherit as natural children. The order of the trial judge, following these conclusions, was that there should be a partition of the property of the deceased Cheong Boo between the natural children, Cheong Seng Gee, Payang, and Rosalia.

Issues: Whether or not the chinese marriage is valid and recognizable in the Philippines.

Whether or not the mohammedan marriage is valid.

Held: No. Section IV of the Marriage Law (General Order No. 68) provides that “All marriages contracted without these 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 of the 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.

In the case at bar there is no competent testimony as to what the laws of China in the Province of Amoy concerning marriage were in 1895. As in the Encarnacion case, there is lacking proof so clear, strong, and unequivocal as to produce a moral conviction of the existence of the alleged prior Chinese marriage. Substitute twenty-three years for forty years and the two cases are the same.

Yes. The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage. Marriage in this jurisdiction is not only a civil contract, but, it is a new relation, an institution in the maintenance of which the public is deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any 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 and of law. A presumption established by our Code of Civil Procedure is “that a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.”

Section IX of the Marriage Law is in the nature of a curative provision intended to safeguard society by legalizing prior marriages. We can see no substantial reason for denying to the legislative power the right to remove impediments to an effectual marriage. If the legislative power can declare what shall be valid marriages, it can render valid, marriages which, when they took place, were against the law. Public policy should aid acts intended to validate marriages and should retard acts intended to invalidate marriages.

The courts can properly incline the scales of their decisions in favors of that solution which will mot effectively promote the public policy. That is the true construction which will best carry legislative intention into effect. And here the consequences, entailed in holding that the marriage of the Mora Adong and the deceased Cheong Boo, in conformity with the Mohammedan religion and Moro customs, was void, would be far reaching in disastrous result. The last census shows that there are at least one hundred fifty thousand Moros who have been married according to local custom. We then have it within our power either to nullify or to validate all of these marriages; either to make all of the children born of these unions bastards or to make them legitimate; either to proclaim immorality or to sanction morality; either to block or to advance settled governmental policy. Our duty is a obvious as the law is plain.

We regard the evidence as producing a moral conviction of the existence of the Mohammedan marriage. We regard the provisions of section IX of the Marriage law as validating marriages performed according to the rites of the Mohammedan religion.

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