MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Reynato Puno has slapped preventive suspension and ordered administrative charges filed against four municipal trial court in cities (MTCC) judges in Cebu City for their alleged involvement in the questionable solemnization of marriages.
Ordered suspended and charged for corruption, dishonesty, gross ignorance of the law and deliberate violation of the law on marriage are Judges Anatalio Necesario (Branch 2), Gil Acosta (Branch 3), Rosabella Tormis (Branch 4) and Edgemelo Rosales (Branch 8).
The case stemmed from reports that some courts in Cebu conduct marriages with “undue haste” in exchange for an amount higher than the prescribed P300 marriage fee.
Puno received the complaints while conducting a dialogue with members of the religious and business community, diplomatic corps and cause-oriented groups during the First Distinguished Lecture, Series of 2007 in Cebu last June 29.
Upon receiving the information, Puno immediately held a dialogue with the Cebu judges and sent a judicial audit team led by Office of the Court Administrator Region VII supervisor Rullyn Garcia.
The investigation showed that, of 643 marriage certificates, Necesario solemnized 92 marriages under Article 34 of the Family Code from 2005 to 2007; Judge Acosta with 67 marriages from 2003 to 2007; Judge Tormis, 73 marriages from 2005 to 2007 and Judge Rosales, 48 marriages from 206 to 2007.
However, an examination in the logbooks for marriages showed there were more marriages recorded as solemnized by the four judges than the number of marriage certificates actually examined.
Further investigation showed that a number of marriage licenses were obtained from local civil registrars of places where neither of the couple lived. There were also discrepancies in the signatures of the local civil registrars of Barili and Liloan, Cebu, indicating forgery.
Some marriages were also solemnized despite the non-completion of requirements and that the fees couples paid ranged from P1,500 to P15,000.
“Undeniably, Judges Necesario, Acosta, Rosales, and Tormis abused their authority to solemnize marriage, thereby making a mockery of the sanctity of marriage,” the investigation report stated.