• Correcting entries in birth certificates

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    The spelling of my brother’s first name in his marriage certificate is incorrect. He wants to correct this error to prevent future problems. We’ve read in several articles that erroneous entries in birth certificates can be corrected without going to court. Is such remedy also available to correct errors in marriage certificate? Will it require him to stay in the Philippines for a long time? He is already based in the US.                

    Dear Joyce,
    The remedy you mentioned that is available to correct entries in birth certificates without going to court is prescribed by Republic Act (as amended by RA 10172). Under the law, clerical or typographical error, which refers to mistake committed in the performance of clerical work in writing, copying, transcribing or typing an entry in the civil register may be corrected through an administrative procedure provided such is harmless and innocuous, visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding, and can be corrected or changed by reference to other existing record or records. This includes misspelled name or misspelled place of birth, mistake in day and month of birth, or the sex of the person (Sec. 2(3), RA 9048, as amended).

    In case of problems with the first name, the law also allows change of first name or nickname in case the same is ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce, or the new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the person and he has been publicly known by that name, or to avoid confusion (Sec. 4, RA 9048, as amended).

    The remedy is widely known to be available in correcting an entry in birth certificate, but the scope of the law is actually wider than that. It can be used to correct clerical or typographical error in an entry found in the civil register. The civil register refers to the various registry books and related certificates and documents kept in the archives of the local civil registry offices, Philippine Consulates and of the Office of the Civil Registrar General (Sec. 2(4), RA 9048, as amended). By reference to the Rules of Court, the entries in the civil register include not only birth, but also marriage, death, legal separation, judgment of annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage, legitimation, adoption, change of name, among others (Sec. 2, Rule 108). Thus, an error in the entry of first name in the marriage certificate can also be administratively corrected, that is, without going to court.

    In order to avail of the remedy, your brother need not stay in the Philippines for a long time. In fact, it will not even require him to come back to the Philippines. The petition may be filed abroad. The law states that “Filipino citizens who are presently residing or domiciled in foreign countries may file their petition, in person, with the nearest Philippine Consulates” (Sec. 3, RA 9048, as amended). In this regard, I advise your brother to coordinate with the Philippine Consulate nearest his place of residence to seek assistance in correcting the spelling of his first name in his marriage certificate.

    We hope you find our opinion helpful. Please bear in mind that this opinion is based on the facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary should actual facts and circumstances change.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net


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    1 Comment

    1. Melandro B. Lope on

      With due respect to Atty. Persida, you can also file a petition for correction of clerical error under R.A. 9048 in behalf of your brother, to the office of the city/municipal civil registrar where your brother’s marriage was recorded.