Converting to Islam to marry a second spouse is bigamy, SC rules

MANILA, Philippines – Changing to Islam to marry a further person on top of a previously civilly married wife or husband does not spare someone from being charged with bigamy, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled.

In a 17-page final decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen and unveiled on Monday, March 21, the SC stated: “A social gathering to a civil marriage who converts to Islam and contracts another marriage, in spite of the initially marriage’s subsistence, is guilty of bigamy.”

“Likewise responsible is the husband or wife in the subsequent relationship. Conversion to Islam does not operate to exculpate them from felony legal responsibility,” the determination included.

The SC affirmed a Court docket of Appeals (CA) ruling in 2015, which upheld a 2012 ruling of the regional trial courtroom (RTC) convicting a certain Francis and Jacqueline of bigamy and sentencing every of them to a prison time period of up to six decades.

“Further, a married Muslim can not marry a different. In outstanding circumstances, a married Muslim man may do so if ‘he can deal with them with equivalent companionship and just treatment method as enjoined by Islamic legislation,’” the SC claimed.

But the SC pointed to Short article 13 of the Muslim Code, which says that the Civil Code of the Philippines applies to marriages in between a Muslim and a non-Muslim which had been not solemnized in Muslim rites.

The best court also modified the decreased courts’ penalties, expanding the jail phrases imposed on the pair to a utmost of eight many years.

The story of Francis, Jacqueline, and Nerrian

Documents of the case display that Francis and Jacqueline had been billed with bigamy on November 20, 2006. In her complaint, Francis’ wife Nerrian claimed she and Francis were being married less than the spiritual rites of Iglesia ni Cristo on March 26, 1988 in Panabo City, Davao del Norte, and have two youngsters.

Nerrian stated that in 2005, Francis went to Tagum Metropolis in research of perform, but finally abandoned the household.

Nerrian then identified that Francis had been living with Jacqueline, and that they married on June 18, 2005, solemnized by a municipal demo court judge.

While Francis and Jacqueline admitted that they obtained married while the former’s marriage to Nerrian was nonetheless subsisting, they claimed that they were being immune from bigamy as they converted to Islam prior to finding married.

But a regional trial courtroom dominated towards the new pair, and observed Francis and Jacqueline responsible of bigamy over and above acceptable doubt on May 7, 2012.

The RTC reported that the Muslim Code did not govern the situations of Nerrian, Francis, and Jacqueline – due to the fact Nerrian is not a Muslim. The court also denied Jacqueline and Francis’ movement for reconsideration, prompting them to elevate the case to the CA.

Even now, the CA affirmed the decreased court’s choice on April 24, 2015, holding that all features of bigamy were being present. The CA held that unless the initially relationship was dissolved and finalized below the Civil Code, any party’s subsequent marriage makes them liable for bigamy.

Then, as Francis and Jacqueline filed their petition with the SC, they insisted they were being Muslims married under Muslim law on June 5, 2005, presenting their certificates of conversion and marriage anew. They also married right before a trial court docket decide on June 18, 2005, but reported that this was simply ceremonial.

Francis and Jacqueline also argued that Post 3 of the Muslim Code gives that when there is conflict amongst Muslim legislation and normal legislation, Muslim law prevails.

But the SC pointed to Report 13 of the Muslim Code, which says that the Civil Code of the Philippines applies to marriages involving a Muslim and a non-Muslim.

“There is no conflict with normal law listed here. The nature, effects, and incidents of petitioner Francis’ prior and admittedly subsisting relationship to Nerrian stay well-inside of the ambit of the Civil Code, and its counterpart penal provisions in the Revised Penal Code,” the SC stated.

The SC explained that, whether Francis converted to Islam in advance of or immediately after his relationship with Jacqueline, their subsequent relationship nevertheless consummated the crime of bigamy.

“He are not able to correctly invoke the exculpatory clause in Article 180 [of the Muslim Code], taking into consideration that the Muslim Code finds no software in his then subsisting relationship with Nerrian, the marriage recognized by law that bars and penalizes a subsequent relationship,” the SC stated.

The ruling is the most recent SC determination on relationship and spouse and children issues. Other noteworthy conclusions involve the SC’s upholding of its decision to junk a same-sex marriage petition in 2020. In 2021, the Courtroom granted a child’s petition to bear his mother’s surname, ruling that the Civil Code did not say that a father’s surname have to completely be applied by little ones. – Rappler.com