My mother will be renewing her Philippine passport next month. She has not renewed it for several years and she only needs a new one now because her company will send her abroad for a convention. She used the surname of my father in her previous passports but she would like her new passport to be issued under her maiden surname.
They have been married for 30 years but my father left us a couple of years ago. This devastated my mother so it is quite understandable why she wants her new passport that way. Please advice.
It is very common here in the Philippines for married women to use their husbands’ surname. However, it should be emphasized that the use of the husband’s surname is not mandated by law. In fact, our laws present options for married women. Under Article 370 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, it is stated: “A married woman may use: (1) Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname, or (2) Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname, or (3) Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as ‘Mrs’. ”
Once a married woman opted to use another name in consonance with the foregoing provision, she may revert to the name she has previously used, unless there is a law or legal directive regulating the same.
For instance, a married woman who has opted to use her husband’s surname in her Philippine passport may not seek for the issuance of a new Philippine passport under her maiden name, unless her husband has passed away or their marriage has been annulled or declared void by the court. This is pursuant to Section 5 of Republic Act No. 8239, otherwise known as the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 which provides that: “No passport shall be issued to an applicant unless the Secretary or his duly authorized representative is satisfied that the applicant is a Filipino citizen who has complied with the following requirements: x x x (d) In case of a woman who is married, separated, divorced or widowed or whose marriage has been annulled or declared by court as void, a copy of the certificate of marriage, court decree of separation, divorce or annulment or certificate of death of the deceased spouse duly issued and authenticated by the Office of the Civil Registrar General: Provided, That in case of a divorce decree, annulment or declaration of marriage as void, the woman applicant may revert to the use of her maiden name: Provided, further, That such divorce is recognized under existing laws of the Philippines; x x x”
Applying the foregoing in the situation of your mother, we submit that she will not be issued a new passport under her maiden surname unless she can present a court order annulling her marriage with your father or declaring the same null and void, or a death certificate, in case of the demise of your father.
It is worth mentioning that our Supreme Court has likewise ruled that: “x x x Significantly, Section 1, Article 12 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 8239 provides: “The passport can be amended only in the following cases: a) Amendment of a woman’s name due to marriage; b) Amendment of a woman’s name due to death of the spouse, annulment of marriage or divorce initiated by a foreign spouse, or c) Change of surname of a child who is legitimated by virtue of a subsequent marriage of his parents” (Remo vs. The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs, 614 SCRA 281, March 5, 2010).
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.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org