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Grace Garcia-Recio vs Rederick Recio

(G.R. No. 138322; October 2, 2001)

Facts: Rederick Recio, a Filipino, was married to Editha Samson an Australian citizen, on
March 1, 1987. On May 18, 1989 a decree of divorce dissolving the marriage was issued by the
Australian Family Court. On June 26, 1992, respondent became an Australian citizen.
Subsequently, respondent entered into marriage with petitioner a Filipina on January 12, 1994.
Starting October 22, 1995, petitioner and respondent lived separately without prior judicial
dissolution of their marriage.

On March 3, 1998, petitioner filed a Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage in the
court a quo, on the ground of bigamy. Respondent allegedly had a prior subsisting marriage at
the time he married her on January 12, 1994. She claimed that she learned of respondents
marriage to Editha Samson only in November, 1997.

In his Answer, respondent averred that, as far back as 1993, he had revealed to petitioner his
prior marriage and its subsequent dissolution. He contended that his first marriage to an
Australian citizen had been validly dissolved by a divorce decree obtained in Australia in 1989;
thus, he was legally capacitated to marry petitioner in 1994.

On July 7, 1998, years after the couples wedding and while the suit for the declaration of nullity
was pending, respondent was able to secure a divorce decree from a family court in Sydney,
Australia because the marriage had irretrievably broken down. Respondent prayed in his Answer
that the Complaint be dismissed on the ground that it stated no cause of action.

In his Answer, respondent averred that, as far back as 1993, he had revealed to petitioner his
prior marriage and its subsequent dissolution. He contended that his first marriage to an
Australian citizen had been validly dissolved by a divorce decree obtained in Australia in 1989;
thus, he was legally capacitated to marry petitioner in 1994.

The trial court declared the marriage dissolved on the ground that the divorce issued in Australia
was valid and recognized in the Philippines. It deemed the marriage ended, but not on the basis
of any defect in an essential element of the marriage; that is, respondents alleged lack of legal
capacity to remarry. Rather, it based its Decision on the divorce decree obtained by respondent.
The Australian divorce had ended the marriage; thus, there was no more marital union to nullify
or annul.

Issue: WON the RTC erred in declaring the marriage dissolved based on the Australian
divorce decree.
Held: YES. Respondent argues that the Australian divorce decree is a public documenta
written official act of an Australian family court. Therefore, it requires no further proof of its
authenticity and due execution. Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before a foreign
judgment is given presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be presented and
admitted in evidence. A divorce obtained abroad is proven by the divorce decree itself. Indeed
the best evidence of a judgment is the judgment itself. The decree purports to be a written act or
record of an act of an official body or tribunal of a foreign country.

Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the other hand, a writing or document may be proven
as a public or official record of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication, or (2) a
copy thereof attested by the officer having legal custody of the document. If the record is not
kept in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper
diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign country in
which the record is kept, and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office. The divorce decree
between respondent and Editha Samson appears to be an authentic one issued by an Australian
family court. However, appearance is not sufficient; compliance with the aforementioned rules
on evidence must be demonstrated.

Fortunately for respondents cause, when the divorce decree of May 18, 1989 was submitted in
evidence, counsel for petitioner objected, not to its admissibility, but only to the fact that it had
not been registered in the Local Civil Registry of Cabanatuan City. The trial court ruled that it
was admissible, subject to petitioners qualification. Hence, it was admitted in evidence and
accorded weight by the judge. Indeed, petitioners failure to object properly rendered the divorce
decree admissible as a written act of the Family Court of Sydney, Australia.
People vs Cristina Hernandez
(G.R. No. 108028; July 30, 1996)

Facts: Respondent was charged with the crime of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale. The
accused allegedly represented herself to have the capacity to contract, enlist and transport
Filipino workers for employment abroad, did then and there willfully and unlawfully for a fee,
recruit and promise employment/job placement abroad to the private complainants, without first
having secured the required license or authority from the POEA.

Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty and trial on the merits ensued. Of the fourteen
(14) private complainants, four (4) were presented as witnesses for the prosecution. They testifed
that respondent introduced herself as the general manager of Philippine Thai Association, Inc
and asked them if they wanted to work as factory workers in Taipei for $800 a month.

Respondent allegedly required private complainants to pay placement and passport fees in the
total amount of P22,500.00 per applicant, to be paid in three installments. After having received
the entire amount from the witnesses, appellant assured them that they would be able to leave for
Taipeh sometime before the end of December, 1988. But contrary to appellant's promise,
complainants-witnesses were unable to leave for abroad. They demanded for the return of their
money but to no avail. Appellant's unfulfilled promise of employment and her refusal to return
the money that had been paid by way of placement and passport fees, triggered the filing of the
complaint.

Respondent claimed that she never met any of the complainants nor did she ever recruit any of
them. She likewise denied having received money from anyone and asserted that she did not
know any Liza Mendoza who is the alleged treasurer of Philippine-Thai. Appellant maintained
that although she had an office in Ermita Building located at Arquiza Street, Ermita, Manila, the
said office belonged to B.C. Island Wood Products Corporation which was engaged in the
logging business. However, when questioned further, appellant admitted being the president of
Philippine-Thai but only in a nominal capacity, and claimed that as nominee-president, she did
not participate in any of its transactions. Appellant likewise insisted that Philippine-Thai was
engaged solely in the barong tagalog business.

The court a quo rendered a decision holding that the defense of "denial" interposed by the
accused could not prevail over the positive and clear testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
which had established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt

Issue: WON the trial court erred in not giving credence to the defense of the accused.
Held: NO. It is true that as a general rule, courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of the
contents of the records of other cases, even when such cases have been tried or are pending in the
same court, and notwithstanding the fact that both cases may have been tried or are actually
pending before the same judge. However, this rule is subject to the exception that: x x x in the
absence of objection and as a matter of convenience to all parties, a court may properly treat all
or any part of the original record of the case filed in its archives as read into the records of a case
pending before it, when with the knowledge of the opposing party, reference is made to it, by
name and number or in some other manner by which it is sufficiently designated.

Assuming that the lower court improperly took judicial notice of the pendency of another illegal
recruitment case against the appellant, the error would not be fatal to the prosecution's cause. The
judgment of conviction was not based on the existence of another illegal recruitment case filed
against appellant by a different group of complainants, but on the overwhelming evidence
against her in the instant case.

Anent the last assignment of error, suffice it to say that we do not find any compelling reason to
reverse the findings of the lower court that appellant's bare denials cannot overthrow the positive
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses against her.

Well established is the rule that denials if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence are
negative, self-serving evidence which deserve no weight in law and cannot be given greater
evidentiary weight over the testimony of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters.
That she did not merely deny, but likewise raised as an affirmative defense her appointment as
mere nominee-president of Philippine-Thai is a futile attempt at exculpating herself and is of no
consequence whatsoever when weighed against the positive declarations of witnesses that it was
the appellant who executed the acts of illegal recruitment as complained of.