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SC: Muslim Code governs marriage of Muslim couple

Close up of wooden gavel isolated on white background

Close up of wooden gavel isolated on white background

Which law should prevail in a divorce case or “Talaq” between a Muslim couple who were first married under the Muslim law and later under the country’s civil law?

The Supreme Court  said: “The Muslim Code continues to govern the marital relations of Muslim spouses who first wed under Muslim law rites and decided to wed again under civil law rites.”

With the ruling, the SC denied for lack of merit the petition filed by a Muslim wife against the rulings of both the Shari’a circuit court in Tacurong City in 2011 and the Shari’a district court in Cotabato City in 2012 granting the Talaq filed by her husband.

Case records showed that Rohaina and Abdulgani Sumagka, both Muslims, were married in 1998 in accordance with Muslim law.

Later in 2004, they renewed their marriage vows under civil law in a wedding ceremony solemnized by then Mayor Narciso R.A. Grafilo Jr. of Alabel, Sarangani.

Starting 2006, however, the couple’s marriage started to turn sour when Abdulgani became a policeman and frequently assigned to posts far from their conjugal home.

Rohaina, together with her three children with Abdulgani, decided to live with her parents in General Santos City.

When the couple failed to settle their differences, Rohaina filed a case against her husband for grave misconduct on the ground of infidelity and abandonment.

Abdulgani, in turn, filed a petition for divorce before the SCC based on Article 46 of Presidential Decree No. 1083, the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines.

Article 46 states that “a divorce by ‘Talaq’ may be effected by the husband in a single repudiation of his wife during her non-menstrual period or ‘Tuhr’ within which he has totally abstained from carnal relation with her. Any number of repudiations made during one ‘Tuhr’ shall constitute only one repudiation and shall become irrevocable after the expiration of the prescribed ‘Iddah,’” a period a woman must observe after the death of her husband or after a divorce during which she may not marry another man.

Rohaina opposed the petition and claimed that the SCC has no authority or jurisdiction over the divorce case because of their subsequent marriage under the country’s civil law.

The SCC asserted its jurisdiction over the case in an order issued on July 12, 2010. (Rey Panaligan)