CASE IN POINT by Dean Ed Vincent Albano | Invocation of nationality principle; not absolute

Conveniently invoking the nationality principle is erroneous. Such principle, found under Article 15 of the Civil Code, is not an absolute and unbending rule. In fact, the mere existence of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 is a testament that the State may provide for an exception thereto. Moreover, blind adherence to the nationality principle must be disallowed if it would cause unjust discrimination and oppression to certain classes of individuals whose rights are equally protected by law. The courts have the duty to enforce the laws of divorce as written by the Legislature only if they are constitutional (See Barretto Gonzales v. Gonzales, 58 Phil. 67, 72 [1933], as cited in Tenchavez v. Escaño, et al., supra).

A prohibitive view of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 would do more harm than good. If We disallow a Filipino citizen who initiated and obtained a foreign divorce from the coverage of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 and still require him or her to first avail of the existing “mechanisms” under the Family Cod, any subsequent relationship that he or she would enter in the meantime shall be considered as illicit in the eyes of the Philippine law. Worse, any child born out of such “extra-marital” affair has to suffer the stigma of being branded as illegitimate. Surely, these are just but a few of the adverse consequences, not only to the parent but also to the child, if We are to hold a restrictive interpretation of the subject provision. The irony is that the principle of inviolability of marriage under Section 2, Article XV of the Constitution is meant to be tilted in favor of marriage and against unions not formalized by marriage, but without denying State protection and assistance to live-in arrangements or to families formed according to indigenous customs (Rep. v. Manalo,).
Dean Albano is the proprietor & Bar Review Director of Albano Bar Review Center.