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Outside the Vatican, the Philippines is the only country that proscribes divorce. In the Family Code of the Philippines (Family Code), the sole provision that talks about divorce and of Filipino citizens possibly benefitting from this manner of severing marriage is Article 26. However, like other provisions in an entire code, this article does not operate in a vacuum. There is an implicit mandate that its construction and interpretation must be consistent, as much as possible, with other existing provisions of the law.4 Thus, although the Family Code amended and superseded the Family Relations chapter of Book I of the Civil Code of the Philippines,5 the provisions of the Family Code are still to be construed in harmony with the entire Civil Code.

As the Supreme Court stated in Philippine International Trading Corporation v. Commission on Audit, “[i]t is a rule in statutory construction that every part of the statute must be interpreted with reference to the context, i.e., that every part of the statute must be considered together with the other parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of the whole enactment.” One such provision whose importance has heavily weighed in on Article 26 of the Family Code is Article 15 of the Civil Code, commonly referred to as the “nationality rule.” This Article discusses how the Supreme Court has interpreted the second paragraph of Article 26 over the years, and contends that the Court — in its desire to give the provision an expansive interpretation — committed a judicial overreach in Republic v. Manalo, by needlessly limiting the application of the nationality rule and by resorting to judicial legislation.

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