I am the only child of my parents, who at the time of my birth were not yet married to each other. When my father was single at the time, my mother was still in the process of securing a judicial declaration of nullity of her marriage with her previous husband. My birth certificate, however, indicates that I am a legitimate child of my parents, as the same was both signed by my parents. Also it indicated therein that my parents were married at the time of my birth. Thus, I would like to seek legal advice if an administrative proceeding can be brought for the purpose of changing my status from “legitimate” to “illegitimate.”
No, an administrative proceeding cannot be brought for the purpose of changing your status and surname. It is clearly provided in Section 1 of Republic Act 9048 that only clerical or typographical errors and change of first name or nickname can be corrected by the concerned city or municipal registrar.
“Section 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or Typographical Error and Change of First Name or Nickname – No entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial order, except for clerical or typographical errors and change of first name or nickname which can be corrected or changed by the concerned city or municipal civil registrar or consul general in accordance with the provisions of this Act and its implementing rules and regulations.” (Emphasis supplied)
The change you sought to be made are not clerical or harmless errors but considered as substantial as they would affect your filiation, specifically your legitimacy, from legitimate to illegitimate. Change of such nature, however, requires judicial action for correction of entry. In Francler P. Onde vs. the Office of the Local Civil Registration of Las Piñas City (G.R. No. 197174, September 10, 2014), a case decided by the Supreme Court and penned by former Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr., it is emphasized that when a petition for cancelation or correction of an entry in the civil register involves substantial and controversial alterations, including those on citizenship, legitimacy of paternity or filiation or legitimacy of marriage, strict compliance with the requirements of the Rules of Court is mandated. Therefore, judicial action for the correction of entry, as in the instant case is necessary.
We find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated. We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
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