December 6, 2023

Was your first name recorded as “Baby boy” or spelled wrongly?
Erroneous and inaccurate entries recorded in birth certificates are common occurrences here, especially in the remote areas.
From misspelled names, mistaken dates and places of birth, to significant errors in gender, nationality, and legitimacy of an individual, these problems in registered recordings cause unnecessary stress to a person who has to undergo a process in rectifying his/her birth certificate.
Such rectification cannot be taken lightly given that a birth certificate is a primary source to verify one’s identity. The trouble in correcting these errors comes with the toil of determining the proper remedy to know which procedure to resort to.
Under the law, a change in a birth certificate depends on the nature of the error. It may either be by filing a petition before the local civil registrar concerned (administrative correction) or before the appropriate courts (judicial correction).
The difference lies whether the error is clerical or substantial. If the error is merely clerical or typographical (ex: misspelled name or misspelled place of birth), the proper remedy is through administrative means.
Administrative correction of entries is go-verned by Republic Act 9048, as amended by RA 10172. An affidavit of correction before the local civil registrar will suffice.
On the other hand, if the correction sought is substantial (ex: change of age, gender, status, and nationality), the proper remedy is through filing a petition in court and obtaining a court order authorizing such correction.
Judicial correction of entries is governed by Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. In Santos v. Republic (GR 221277; 18 March 2021), the Supreme Court reiterated the rule that substantial changes in a birth certificate must be resolved through the appropriate adversary proceedings under Rule 108, and not through a mere petition for correction.
Eduardo sought to correct his records in the civil registry to reflect his surname as “Santos” instead of “Cu,” his nationality as “Filipino” instead of “Chinese,” his filiation as “illegitimate” instead of “legitimate,” and his mother’s civil status as “single” instead of “married.”
He claimed he was born in Manila on June 10, 1953 to his Chinese father, Nga Cu Lay, and Filipino mother, Juana Santos, who were not legally married.
In dismissing Eduardo’s petition, the Court held that the changes sought to be reflected are substantial and may only be resolved through the appropriate adversary proceedings under Rule 108. The Court explained that “(Eduardo’s petition) is not a simple or negligible matter of correcting a single letter in his surname due to a misspelling. Rather, Eduardo’s filiation, status, and citizenship will be gravely affected.”
The High Court added that “this will affect not only his identity, but his successional rights as well. “Given that the changes sought to be reflected are substantial, the Supreme Court held that Eduardo must comply with Rule 108.
The SC said he can modify his surname from “Cu” to “Santos,” which is the surname of his mother. In Alanis III v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that “a legitimate child is entitled to use the surname of either parent as a last name.”
Thus, in consonance with the aforementioned ruling, the SC permitted Eduardo to use his mother’s surname when he filed a petition for change of name.
Can’t help recalling a parish priest who was named and baptized as Peter Gago and as the Filipino way was, became the subject of jokes, ridicule, and mockery.
So, he went to the hometown lawyer for a petition for change of name and when he saw the petition filed, immediately fired the lawyer because the change of name was from Peter to Paul Gago.