SC upholds divorce under shari’a court

The Supreme Court of the Philippines.

The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed the petition of a Muslim wife to invalidate a shari’a court’s decision granting her husband’s petition for divorce even if they wed under civil law rites.

In an 11-page resolution, the SC First Division denied the motion for reconsideration (MFR) of the wife for lack of merit saying it saw “no reason to deviate from the rulings of the 8th Shari’a Circuit Court (SCC) of Tacurong City and the 5th Shari’a District Court (SDC) of Cotabato City that affirmed the SCC’s decision on the case.

On 2 November 2011 and 9 January 2012, the SDC dismissed petitioner Rohaina Sumagka’s appeal and affirmed the Decree of Divorce. The SDC also denied Sumagka’s subsequent MFR.

On 18 July 1998, Rohaina and Abdulgani Sumagka, both Muslims, married in accordance with Muslim law at Tinagacan, General Santos. They renewed their marriage vows under civil rites before the municipal mayor of Alabel, Sarangani Province on 4 February 2004.

The marriage turned sour when Abdulgani became a policeman in 2006 and was frequently assigned to different posts. The couple often quarreled because of Rohaina’s jealousies and suspicions.

Abdulgani filed a petition for divorce in the SCC which has jurisdiction over the petition under Article 46 of Presidential Decree 1083 of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines. The SCC constituted the Agama Arbitration Council (Agama Council), which agreed for their divorce.

The SCC granted Abdulgani’s petition and declared the divorce on 14 March, 2011.

However, Rohaina appealed the SCC ruling asserting that civil law governs her marriage with Abdulgani and that the Agama Council’s report was invalid as it was not signed personally by one of its members, Limbong Mamalompong.

On 2 November 2011, the SDC ruled that the law on marriage that will govern parties who are both Muslims is the Muslim Code and that SCC has exclusive original jurisdiction over the case.

The SC ruled that it was “undisputed that Rohaina and Abdulgani are Muslims whose marriage was first celebrated under Muslim rites.”

It also held that the subsequent civil law marriage did not supersede their previous marriage and the Muslim Code under which their first marriage was celebrated still applies.

The SC also held that the non-signing was satisfactorily explained by the SCC when it stated that the said council member actively participated in the arbitration hearings but failed to return in the afternoon session for the mechanical signing of the report.

“We agree with the SCC and SDC that the first marriage of Rohaina and Abdulgani is the validating rite while the second marriage is merely ceremonial….Considering that the Muslim Code governs the marriage of Rohaina and Abdulgani, the latter may legally avail of divorce by Talaq under the Code,” the SC ruled.

p: wjg