Wrong entry in birth certificate no longer considered as typo error

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
Recently, I found out that my Certificate of Live Birth reflected that my parents were married while in fact they were not. I would like this to be rectified. Can this be done by the local civil registrar?
Anton

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Dear Anton,
Changing the entry in your Certificate of Live Birth indicating that your parents are “married” into “not married” needs the approval of the court. This correction is no longer considered as typographical or clerical error which is within the authority of the Local Civil Registrar to act upon. The correction you want is substantial because it affects the status of your parents. Once that entry is changed, it will also affect your status of being “legitimate child” into “illegitimate child.” The proper remedy then is to file a petition in court of appropriate jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 108 of the 1997 Rules of Court.

In a similar situation, the Supreme Court in Republic vs Kho et al.(G.R. No. 170340, June 29, 2007) said:

“Further, the deletion of the entry that Carlitos and his siblings’ parents were married alters their filiation from legitimate to illegitimate, with significant implications on their successional and other rights.

Clearly, the changes sought can only be granted in an adversary proceeding. Labayo-Rowe v. Republic, explains the raison d’etre:

The philosophy behind this requirement lies in the fact that the books making up the civil register and all documents relating thereto shall be prima facie evidence of the facts therein contained. If the entries in the civil register could be corrected or changed through mere summary proceedings and not through appropriate action wherein all parties who may be affected by the entries are notified or represented, the door to fraud or other mischief would be set open, the consequence of which might be detrimental and far reaching.

In Republic v. Valencia, however, this court ruled, and has since repeatedly ruled, that even substantial errors in a civil registry may be corrected through a petition filed under Rule 108.

It is undoubtedly true that if the subject matter of a petition is not for the correction of clerical errors of a harmless and innocuous nature, but one involving nationality or citizenship, which is indisputably substantial as well as controverted, affirmative relief cannot be granted in a proceeding summary in nature. However, it is also true that a right in law may be enforced and a wrong may be remedied as long as the appropriate remedy is used. This court adheres to the principle that even substantial errors in a civil registry may be corrected and the true facts established provided the parties aggrieved by the error avail themselves of the appropriate adversary proceeding.

What is meant by appropriate adversary proceeding? Black’s Law Dictionary defines adversary proceeding as follows:

One having opposing parties; contested, as distinguished from an ex parte application, one of which the party seeking relief has given legal warning to the other party, and afforded the latter an opportunity to contest it”.

Again, 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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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