Legitimate child has right to use parents’ surnames

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My husband recently found out when he was trying to apply for a passport with the DFA that his record in the National Statistics Office (NSO) and Local Civil Registrar of Manila showed that his surname is that of his mother’s. He was born in 1966. His original baptismal certificate indicates that he is using his father surname. He has been using his father’s surname in all his records and transactions since he was not aware of that problem and since his mother is also using the surname of his father. His concern is that both his parents have already passed away and he cannot find any document that would show his filiation with his father, except that baptismal certificate. He also never met his father because according to his mother he died while he was only months old. His mother died in 2003. I hope you can advise us on what to do.

Dear SCB,
Legitimate children have the right, among others, to use the surnames of their father and mother (Article 174, Family Code of the Philippines). Insofar as illegitimate children are concerned, they have the right, among others, to use the surname and be under the parental authority of their mother. Nevertheless, illegitimate children may be allowed to use the surname of their father, provided that their filiation has been expressly recognized by their father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission of such filiation has been made by the father in a public document or private handwritten instrument (Section 1, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9255).

In the situation that you have presented before us, it is not clear whether or not your husband is a legitimate child of his parents. If his parents were married prior to his birth, he will be considered as a legitimate child. Accordingly, he has the right to bear the surname of both his parents. However, it is necessary for him to present before the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the National Statistics Office (NSO) authenticated copy of the marriage certificate of his parents or the copy which they submitted to the Local Civil Registrar of the place where their marriage transpired in order for him to establish his legitimate filiation with his parents and to substantiate his entitlement to use the surname of his father.

Should the said certificate be unavailable, he may establish his filiation through other means provided under Article 172 of the Family Code of the Philippines, to wit: through a final judgment, or by admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by his father. In the absence thereof, their legitimate filiation may be established by his open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child, or by any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws.

Assuming, however, that your husband is an illegitimate child, his only recourse is to present a public document or private handwritten instrument signed by his father particularly recognizing their filiation in consonance with R. A. No. 9255. This is because his birth certificate does not indicate that he was registered under his father’s name. Insofar as he has an original baptismal certificate, we submit that this may not comply with what the law requires, unless the same is in the form of a private handwritten instrument and is signed by his father.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.


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