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MA. LOURDES BARRIENTOS ELEOSIDA, for and in behalf of her minor child, CHARLES CHRISTIAN ELEOSIDA, petitioner, vs.

LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF QUEZON CITY, and CARLOS VILLENA BORBON, respondents. PUNO, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Order1 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 89, which dismissed motu proprio the petition of Ma. Lourdes Eleosida to correct some entries in the birth certificate of her son, Charles Christian. The birth certificate shows, among others, that the child's full name is Charles Christian Eleosida Borbon. He was born on May 24, 1992 to Ma. Lourdes Barrientos Eleosida and Carlos Villena Borbon. The birth certificate also indicates that the child's parents were married on January 10, 1985 in Batangas City.2 On January 30, 1997, petitioner Ma. Lourdes Eleosida filed a petition before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City seeking to correct the following entries in the birth certificate of her son, Charles Christian: first, the surname "Borbon" should be changed to "Eleosida;" second, the date of the parents' wedding should be left blank; and third, the informant's name should be "Ma. Lourdes B. Eleosida," instead of "Ma. Lourdes E. Borbon." In support of her petition, petitioner alleged that she gave birth to her son out of wedlock on May 24, 1992; that she and the boy's father, Carlos Borbon, were never married; and that the child is therefore illegitimate and should follow the mother's surname. The petition impleaded the Local Registrar of Quezon City and Carlos Villena Borbon as respondents.3 On April 23, 1997, the trial court issued a notice of hearing stating: "Verified petition having been filed by petitioner Ma. Lourdes Barrientos Eleosida, praying that the entries in the Certificate of Live Birth of her minor child, Charles Christian Eleosida Borbon, be changed and/or corrected, such that, his last name BORBON be deleted and instead place therein the name ELEOSIDA, which is the surname of his mother-petitioner; the entry "January 10, 1985 Batangas City", be likewise deleted, since the petitioner and respondent Carlos Villena Borbon, at the time of the minor's birth were not legally married; and the surname BORBON of petitioner Ma. Lourdes E. Borbon under the column Informant, be also deleted; NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that this petition is set for hearing on June 26, 1997 at 8:30 o'clock in the morning, in the Session Hall of this Court sitting at the Ground Floor, Room 118, Hall of Justice, Quezon City, which is ordered published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks, in a newspaper of general circulation and published in Metro Manila, to be selected by raffle, at the expense of the petitioner, at which date, time and place, the petitioner shall appear and prove her petition, in that all other persons having or claiming any interest thereon shall also appear and show cause why, if any, they have, the petition shall not be granted.1wphi1.nt Let copies of this notice be furnished the petitioner, and together with copies of the petition, respondent Carlos Villena Borbon; the Offices of the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the Solicitor General, who are given fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of publication of such notice, within which to file their opposition thereto, if any. In the event that the Solicitor General may not be able to appear on the scheduled hearing, to designate the City Prosecutor of Quezon City to appear for and in behalf of the State. SO ORDERED."4 On June 26, 1997, the trial court issued another order setting the date for the presentation of evidence on July 23, 1997. It stated: "Considering that there is no opposition filed despite notice to the Solicitor General as contained in the notice of hearing dated April 23, 1997 requiring that office to file their opposition, if any, to the petition for correction of entries in the birth certificate of minor child Charles Christian Eleosida, the petitioner will be allowed to present compliance with the jurisdictional requirements and at the same time initially present evidence on July 23, 1997, at 8:30 o'clock in the morning."5 On August 25, 1997, the trial court motu proprio dismissed the petition for lack of merit. It ruled: "It is an established jurisprudence that, only CLERICAL ERRORS OF A HARMLESS AND INNOCUOUS NATURE like: misspelled name, occupation of the parents, etc., may be the subject of a judicial order (contemplated under Article 412 of the New Civil Code), authorizing changes or corrections and: NOT as may affect the CIVIL STATUS, NATIONALITY OR CITIZENSHIP OF THE PERSONS INVOLVED. In the present case, it is very clear that the changes desired by the petitioner will ultimately affect the CIVIL STATUS OF CHARLES CHRISTIAN, as she wants the Court to Direct the Civil Registrar of Quezon City to substitute her maiden name, ELEOSIDA, with that of BORBON; to delete the information supplied in ITEM 12, respecting the date and place of marriage of parents, on the ground that she was never married to respondent CARLOS VILLENA BORBON and amend the information in ITEM 14, respecting the name of the informant, from MA. LOURDES E. BORBON to MA. LOURDES B. ELEOSIDA, and is indicative of petitioner's intention and device to establish that CHARLES CHRISTIAN's civil status as ILLEGITIMATE. With the petition's ultimate purpose on the part of petitioner to secure judicial order, which would authorize a change in the civil status of CHARLES CHRISTIAN, this Court, finds the action improper. The matters desired to be cancelled and/or changed by petitioner cannot be considered falling under the ambit of the words 'clerical errors of a harmless and innocuous nature.' WHEREFORE, for LACK OF MERIT, the petition is now MOTU PROPIO (sic) dismissed."6 Petitioner fled the instant petition for review raising the issue of whether corrections of entries in the certificate of live birth pursuant to Article 412 of the Civil Code, in relation to Rule 108 of the Rules of Court may be allowed even if the errors to be corrected are substantial and not merely clerical errors of a harmless and innocuous nature.7 The Court required the respondents to comment on the petition. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Manifestation in Lieu of Comment. The OSG submitted that even substantial errors in the civil registry may be corrected provided that the parties aggrieved by the error avail themselves of the appropriate adversary proceeding. Thus it argued that even if the petition seeks the correction and eventual change in the civil status of Charles Christian, the same can be ordered by the court as long as all the parties who may be affected by the entries are notified and represented.8 Respondent Carlos Borbon, on the other hand, failed to submit his comment on the petition despite several notices from this Court. Hence, on January 24, 2001, the Court dispensed with the filing of respondent Borbon's comment and gave due course to the petition.9

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We find merit in the petition. Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court provides the procedure for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry. The proceedings under said rule may either be summary or adversary in nature. If the correction sought to be made in the civil register is clerical, then the procedure to be adopted is summary. If the rectification affects the civil status, citizenship or nationality of a party, it is deemed substantial, and the procedure to be adopted is adversary.10 This is our ruling in Republic vs. Valencia11 where we held that even substantial errors in a civil registry may be corrected and the true facts established under Rule 108 provided the parties aggrieved by the error avail themselves of the appropriate adversary proceeding. An appropriate adversary suit or proceeding is one where the trial court has conducted proceedings where all relevant facts have been fully and properly developed, where opposing counsel have been given opportunity to demolish the opposite party's case, and where the evidence has been thoroughly weighed and considered. The Court further laid down the procedural requirements to make the proceedings under Rule 108 adversary, thus: "The pertinent sections of Rule 108 provide: SEC. 3. Parties.When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register is sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.1wphi1.nt SEC. 4. Notice and publication.Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall, by an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and cause reasonable notice thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition. The court shall also cause the order to be published once in a week for three 93) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province. SEC. 5. Opposition.The civil registrar and any person having or claiming any interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may, within fifteen (15) days from notice, file his opposition thereto. Thus, the persons who must be made parties to a proceeding concerning the cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register are(1) the civil registrar, and (2) all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby. Upon the filing of the petition, it becomes the duty of the court to(1) issue an order fixing the time and place for the hearing of the petition, and (2) cause the order for hearing to be published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province. The following are likewise entitled to oppose the petition:--(1) the civil registrar, and (2) any person having or claiming any interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought. If all these procedural requirements have been followed, a petition for correction and/or cancellation of entries in the record of birth even if filed and conducted under Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court can no longer be described as 'summary'. xxx"12 It is true in the case at bar that the changes sought to be made by petitioner are not merely clerical or harmless errors but substantial ones as they would affect the status of the marriage between petitioner and Carlos Borbon, as well as the legitimacy of their son, Charles Christian. Changes of such nature, however, are now allowed under Rule 108 in accordance with our ruling in Republic vs. Valencia provided that the appropriate procedural requirements are complied with. The records show that upon receipt of the petition, the trial court issued a notice of hearing setting the hearing on June 26, 1997 at 8:30 in the morning at Room 118, Hall of Justice, Quezon City. The trial court likewise ordered the publication of said notice once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation and its posting in selected places in Metro Manila. The notice stated that the petitioner shall prove her petition during said hearing and all other persons having or claiming any interest thereon shall also appear and show if there is any reason why the petition should not be granted. Respondents Carlos Villena Borbon, the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and the Solicitor General were all furnished with a copy of the notice of hearing together with a copy of the petition. On June 26, 1997, the trial court issued a second order giving the petitioner an opportunity to show compliance with the jurisdictional requirements and to present evidence during the hearing set on July 23, 1997. The foregoing satisfy all the requirements of Rule 108 to make it an adversary proceeding. It was therefore an error for the trial court to dismiss the petition motu proprio without allowing the petitioner to present evidence to support her petition and all the other persons who have an interest over the matter to oppose the same.1wphi1.nt IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED and the Order dated August 25, 1997 of the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 89, subject of the petition at bar is set aside. The case is REMANDED to the court a quo for further proceedings. SO ORDERED. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. CARLITO I. KHO, MICHAEL KHO, MERCY NONA KHO-FORTUN, HEDDY MOIRA KHO-SERRANO, KEVIN DOGMOC KHO (Minor), and KELLY DOGMOC KHO (Minor), respondents. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: Challenged via petition for review on certiorari is the October 27, 2005 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 78124 which affirmed the September 4, 2002 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Butuan City, Branch 5 granting the prayer of respondents Carlito I. Kho (Carlito), Michael Kho, Mercy Nona Kho-Fortun, and Heddy Moira Kho-Serrano for the correction of entries in their birth certificates as well as those of Carlitos minor children Kevin and Kelly Dogmoc Kho. The undisputed facts are as follows: On February 12, 2001, Carlito and his siblings Michael, Mercy Nona and Heddy Moira filed before the RTC of Butuan City a verified petition for correction of entries in the civil registry of Butuan City to effect changes in their respective birth certificates. Carlito also asked the court in behalf of his minor children, Kevin and Kelly, to order the correction of some entries in their birth certificates. In the case of Carlito, he requested the correction in his birth certificate of the citizenship of his mother to "Filipino" instead of "Chinese," as well as the deletion of the word "married" opposite the phrase "Date of marriage of parents" because his parents, Juan Kho and Epifania Inchoco (Epifania), were allegedly not legally married. The same request to delete the "married" status of their parents from their respective birth certificates was made by Carlito s siblings Michael, Mercy Nona, and Heddy Moira.

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With respect to the birth certificates of Carlitos children, he prayed that the date of his and his wifes marriage be corrected from April 27, 1989 to January 21, 2000, the date appearing in their marriage certificate. The Local Civil Registrar of Butuan City was impleaded as respondent. On April 23, 2001, Carlito et al. filed an Amended Petition3 in which it was additionally prayed that Carlitos second name of "John" be de leted from his record of birth; and that the name and citizenship of Carlitos father in his (Carlitos) marriage certificate be co rrected from "John Kho" to "Juan Kho" and "Filipino" to "Chinese," respectively. As required, the petition was published for three consecutive weeks4 in Mindanao Daily Patrol-CARAGA, a newspaper of general circulation, after which it was set for hearing on August 9, 2001. In a letter of June 18, 2001 addressed to the trial court, the city civil registrar5 stated her observations and suggestions to the proposed corrections in the birth records of Carlito and his siblings but interposed no objections to the other amendments. On the scheduled hearing of the petition on August 9, 2001, only the counsel for respondents appeared as the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) had yet to enter its appearance for the city civil registrar. The trial court thus reset the hearing to October 9, 2001.6 On September 14, 2001,7 the OSG entered its appearance with an authorization to the city prosecutor of Butuan City to appear in the case and render assistance to it (the OSG). On January 31, 2002, respondents presented documentary evidence showing compliance with the jurisdictional requirements of the petition. They also presented testimonial evidence consisting of the testimonies of Carlito and his mother, Epifania. During the same hearing, an additional correction in the birth certificates of Carlitos children was requested to the effect that the first name of their mother be rectified from "Maribel " to "Marivel." By Decision8 of September 4, 2002, the trial court directed the local civil registrar of Butuan City to correct the entries in the record of birth of Carlito, as follows: (1) change the citizenship of his mother from "Chinese" to "Filipino"; (2) delete "John" from his name; and (3) delete the word "married" opposite the date of marriage of his parents. The last correction was ordered to be effected likewise in the birth certificates of respondents Michael, Mercy Nona, and Heddy Moira. Additionally, the trial court ordered the correction of the birth certificates of the minor children of Carlito to reflect the date of marriage of Carlito and Marivel Dogmoc (Marivel) as January 21, 2000, instead of April 27, 1989, and the name "Maribel" as "Marivel." With respect to the marriage certificate of Carlito and Marivel, the corrections ordered pertained to the alteratio n of the name of Carlitos father from "John Kho" to "Juan Kho" and the latters citizenship from "Filipino" to "Chinese." Petitioner, Republic of the Philippines, appealed the RTC Decision to the CA, faulting the trial court in granting the petition for correction of entries in the subject documents despite the failure of respondents to implead the minors mother, Marivel, as an indispensable party and to offer sufficient evidence to warrant the corrections with regard to the questioned "married" status o f Carlito and his siblings parents, and the latters citizenship. Petitioner also faulted the trial court for ordering the change of the name "Carlito John Kho" to "Carlito Kho" for non-compliance with jurisdictional requirements for a change of name under Rule 103 of the Rules of Court. By the assailed Decision of October 27, 2005, the CA denied petitioners appeal and affirmed the decision of the trial court. The CA found that Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court, which outlines the proper procedure for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry, was observed in the case. Regarding Carlitos minor children Kevin and Kelly, the appellate court held that the correction of their mothers first name from "Maribel" to "Marivel" was made to rectify an innocuous error. As for the change in the date of the marriage of Carlito and Marivel, albeit the CA conceded that it is a substantial alteration, it held that the date would not affect the minors filiation from "legitimate" to "illegitimate" considering that at the time of their respective births in 1991 and 1993, their father Carlitos first marriage was still subsisting as it had been annulled only in 1999. In light of Carlitos legal impediment to marry Marivel at the time they were bor n, their children Kevin and Kelly were illegitimate. It followed, the CA went on to state, that Marivel was not an indispensable party to the case, the minors having been represented by their father as required under Section 5 of Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court. Further, the CA ruled that although Carlito failed to observe the requirements of Rule 103 of the Rules of Court, he had complied nonetheless with the jurisdictional requirements for correction of entries in the civil registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The petition for correction of entry in Carlitos birth record, it noted, falls under letter "o" of the enumeration under Section 2 of Rule 108. In the present petition, petitioner contends that since the changes sought by respondents were substantial in nature, they could only be granted through an adversarial proceeding in which indispensable parties, such as Marivel and respondents parents, should have been notified or impleaded. Petitioner further contends that the jurisdictional requirements to change Carlitos name under Section 2 of Rule 103 of the Rules of Court were not satisfied because the Amended Petition failed to allege Carlitos prior three -year bona fide residence in Butuan City, and that the title of the petition did not state Carlitos aliases and his true name as "Carlito John I. Kho." Petitioner concludes that the same jurisdictional defects attached to the change of name of Carlitos father. The petition fails. It can not be gainsaid that the petition, insofar as it sought to change the citizenship of Carlitos mother as it appeared in his birth certificate and delete the "married" status of Carlitos parents in his and his siblings respective birth certificates, as well as change the date of m arriage of Carlito and Marivel involves the correction of not just clerical errors of a harmless and innocuous nature.10 Rather, the changes entail substantial and controversial amendments.

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For the change involving the nationality of Carlitos mother as reflected in his b irth certificate is a grave and important matter that has a bearing and effect on the citizenship and nationality not only of the parents, but also of the offspring.11 Further, the deletion of the entry that Carlitos and his siblings parents were "marri ed" 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. Republic12 explains the raison d etre: x x x. 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. x x x (Emphasis supplied) In Republic v. Valencia,13 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 108.14 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. xxxx What is meant by "appropriate adversary proceeding?" Blacks L aw 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. x x x 15 (Emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied) The enactment in March 2001 of Republic Act No. 9048, otherwise known as "An Act Authorizing the City or Municipal Civil Registrar or the Consul General to Correct a Clerical or Typographical Error in an Entry and/or Change of First Name or Nickname in the Civil Register Without Need of Judicial Order," has been considered to lend legislative affirmation to the judicial precedence that substantial corrections to the civil status of persons recorded in the civil registry may be effected through the filing of a petition under Rule 108.16 Thus, this Court in Republic v. Benemerito17 observed that the obvious effect of Republic Act No. 9048 is to make possible the administrative correction of clerical or typographical errors or change of first name or nickname in entries in the civil register, leaving to Rule 108 the correction of substantial changes in the civil registry in appropriate adversarial proceedings. When all the procedural requirements under Rule 108 are thus followed, the appropriate adversary proceeding necessary to effect substantial corrections to the entries of the civil register is satisfied.18 The pertinent provisions of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court read: SEC. 3. Parties. When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil registrar is sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding. SEC. 4. Notice and publication. Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall, by an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and cause reasonable notice thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition. The court shall also cause the order to be published once in a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province. SEC. 5. Opposition. The civil registrar and any person having or claiming any interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may, within fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of publication of such notice, file his opposition thereto. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) There is no dispute that the trial courts Order19 setting the petition for hearing and directing any person or entity having interest in the petition to oppose it was posted20 as well as published for the required period; that notices of hearings were duly served on the Solicitor General, the city prosecutor of Butuan and the local civil registrar; and that trial was conducted on January 31, 2002 during which the public prosecutor, acting in behalf of the OSG, actively participated by cross-examining Carlito and Epifania. What surfaces as an issue is whether the failure to implead Marivel and Carlitos parents rendered the trial short of the required adversary proceeding and the trial courts judgment void. A similar issue was earlier raised in Barco v. Court of Appeals.21 That case stemmed from a petition for correction of entries in the birth certificate of a minor, June Salvacion Maravilla, to reflect the name of her real father (Armando Gustilo) and to correspondingly change her surname. The petition was granted by the trial court. Barco, whose minor daughter was allegedly fathered also by Gustilo, however, sought to annul the trial courts decision, claiming that she should have been made a party to the petition for correction. Failure to implead her deprived the RTC of jurisdiction, she contended. In dismissing Barcos petition, this Court held that the publication of the order of hearing under Section 4 of Rule 108 cured the failure to implead an indispensable party. The essential requisite for allowing substantial corrections of entries in the civil registry is that the true facts be established in an appropriate adversarial proceeding. This is embodied in Section 3, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court, which states: Section 3. Parties. When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register is sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.

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xxxx Undoubtedly, Barco is among the parties referred to in Section 3 of Rule 108. Her interest was affected by the petition for correction, as any judicial determination that June was the daughter of Armando would affect her wards share in the estate of her father. x x x. Yet, even though Barco was not impleaded in the petition, the Court of Appeals correctly pointed out that the defect was cured by compliance with Section 4, Rule 108, which requires notice by publication x x x. xxxx The purpose precisely of Section 4, Rule 108 is to bind the whole world to the subsequent judgment on the petition. The sweep of the decision would cover even parties who should have been impleaded under Section 3, Rule 108, but were inadvertently left out. x x x xxxx Verily, a petition for correction is an action in rem, an action against a thing and not against a person. The decision on the petition binds not only the parties thereto but the whole world. An in rem proceeding is validated essentially through publication. Publication is notice to the whole world that the proceeding has for its object to bar indefinitely all who might be minded to make an objection of any sort against the right sought to be established. It is the publication of such notice that brings in the whole world as a party in the case and vests the court with jurisdiction to hear and decide it.22 Given the above ruling, it becomes unnecessary to rule on whether Marivel or respondents parents should have been impleaded as parties t o the proceeding. It may not be amiss to mention, however, that during the hearing on January 31, 2002, the city prosecutor who was acting as representative of the OSG did not raise any objection to the non-inclusion of Marivel and Carlitos parents as parties to the proceeding. Parenthetically, it seems highly improbable that Marivel was unaware of the proceedings to correct the ent ries in her childrens birth certificates, especially since the notices, orders and decision of the trial court eHe were all sent to the residence23 she shared with Carlito and the children. It is also well to remember that the role of the court in hearing a petition to correct certain entries in the civil registry is to ascertain the truth about the facts recorded therein.24 With respect to the date of marriage of Carlito and Marivel, their certificate of marriage25 shows that indeed they were married on January 21, 2000, not on April 27, 1989. Explaining the error, Carlito declared that the date "April 27, 1989" was supplied by his helper, adding that he was not married to Marivel at the time his sons were born because his previous marriage was annulled only in 1999.26 Given the evidence presented by respondents, the CA observed that the minors were illegitimate at birth, hence, the correction would bring about no change at all in the nature of their filiation. With respect to Carlitos mother, it bears noting that she declared at the witness stand that she was not married to Juan Kho who died in 1959.27 Again, that testimony was not challenged by the city prosecutor. The documentary evidence supporting the deletion from Carlitos and his siblings birth certificates of the entry "Married" opposite the date of marriage of their parents, moreover, consisted of a certification issued on November 24, 1973 by St. Joseph (Butuan City) Parish priest Eugene van Vught stating that Juan Kho and Epifania had been living together as common law couple since 1935 but have never contracted marriage legally.28 A certification from the office of the city registrar, which was appended to respondents Amended Petition, likewise stated t hat it has no record of marriage between Juan Kho and Epifania.29 Under the circumstances, the deletion of the word "Married" opposite the "date of marriage of parents" is warranted. With respect to the correction in Carlitos birth certificate of his name from "Carlito Joh n" to "Carlito," the same was properly granted under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. As correctly pointed out by the CA, the cancellation or correction of entries involving changes of name falls under letter "o" of the following provision of Section 2 of Rule 108:30 Section 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. Upon good and valid grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separation; (e) judgments of annulment of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Hence, while the jurisdictional requirements of Rule 103 (which governs petitions for change of name) were not complied with, observance of the provisions of Rule 108 suffices to effect the correction sought for. More importantly, Carlitos official transcript of record from the Urious College in Butuan City,31 certificate of eligibilit y from the Civil Service Commission,32 and voter registration record33 satisfactorily show that he has been known by his first name only. No prejudice is thus likely to arise from the dropping of the second name. The correction of the mothers citizenship from Chinese to Filipino as appearing in Carlitos birth record was also proper. Of note is the fact that during the cross examination by the city prosecutor of Epifania, he did not deem fit to question her citizenship. Such failure to oppose the correction prayed for, which certainly was not respondents fault, does not in any way change the adversarial nature of the proceedings. Also significant to note is that the birth certificates of Carlitos siblings uniformly stated the citizenship of Epifania as "Filipino." To disallow the correction in Carlitos birth record of his mothers citizenship would perpetuate an inconsistency in the natal circumstances of the siblin gs who are unquestionably born of the same mother and father. Outside the ambit of substantial corrections, of course, is the co rrection of the name of Carlitos wife from "Maribel" to "Marivel." The mistake is clearly clerical or typographical, which is not only visible to the eyes, but is also obvious to the understanding34 considering that the name reflected in the marriage certificate of Carlito and his wife is "Marivel."

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Apropos is Yu v. Republic35 which held that changing the appellants Christian name of "Sincio" to "Sencio" amounts merely to the righting of a clerical error. The change of name from Beatriz Labayo/Beatriz Labayu to Emperatriz Labayo was also held to be a mere innocuous alteration, which can be granted through a summary proceeding.36 The same ruling holds true with respect to the correction in Carlitos marriage certificate of his fathers name from "John Kho" to "Juan Kho." Except in said marriage certificate, the name "Juan Kho" was uniformly entered in the birth certificates of Carlito and of his siblings.37 WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs. TRINIDAD R.A. CAPOTE, Respondent. DECISION CORONA, J.: This petition for review on certiorari1 seeks to set aside the Court of Appeals (CA) decision2 dated January 13, 2003 in CA-G.R. CV No. 66128, which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 23 of San Juan, Southern Leyte dated September 14, 1999 granting a petition for change of name. Respondent Trinidad R. A. Capote filed a petition for change of name of her ward from Giovanni N. Gallamaso to Giovanni Nadores on September 9, 1998. In Special Proceeding No. R-481,3 Capote as Giovannis guardian ad litem averred: xxx xxx xxx 1. [Respondent] is a Filipino citizen, of legal age, married, while minor GIOVANNI N. GALLAMASO, is also a Filipino citizen, sixteen (16) years old and both are residents of San Juan, Southern Leyte where they can be served with summons and other court processes; 2. [Respondent] was appointed guardian [ad litem] of minor Giovanni N. Gallamaso by virtue of a court order in Special [Proc.] No. R-459, dated [August 18, 1998] xxx xxx authorizing her to file in court a petition for change of name of said minor in accordance with the desire of his mother [who is residing and working abroad]; 3. Both [respondent] and minor have permanently resided in San Juan, Southern Leyte, Philippines for more than fifteen (15) years prior to the filing of this instant petition, the former since 1970 while the latter since his birth [in 1982]; 4. The minor was left under the care of [respondent] since he was yet nine (9) years old up to the present; 5. Minor GIOVANNI N. GALLAMASO is the illegitimate natural child of Corazon P. Nadores and Diosdado Gallamaso. [He] was born on July 9, 1982 [,] prior to the effectivity of the New Family Code and as such, his mother used the surname of the natural father despite the absence of marriage between them; and [Giovanni] has been known by that name since birth [as per his birth certificate registered at the Local Civil Register of San Juan, Southern Leyte]; 6. The father, Diosdado Gallamaso, from the time [Giovanni] was born and up to the present, failed to take up his responsibilities [to him] on matters of financial, physical, emotional and spiritual concerns. [Giovannis pleas] for a ttention along that line [fell] on deaf ears xxx xxx xxx; 7. [Giovanni] is now fully aware of how he stands with his father and he desires to have his surname changed to that of his m others surname; 8. [Giovannis] mother might eventually petition [him] to join her in the United States and [his] continued use of the surnam e Gallamaso, the surname of his natural father, may complicate [his] status as natural child; and 9. The change of name [from] GIOVANNI N. GALLAMASO to GIOVANNI NADORES will be for the benefit of the minor. xxx xxx xxx4 Respondent prayed for an order directing the local civil registrar to effect the change of name on Giovannis birth certificate. Having found respondents petition sufficient in form and substance, the trial court gave due course to the petition.5 Publication of the petition in a newspaper of general circulation in the province of Southern Leyte once a week for three consecutive weeks was likewise ordered.6 The trial court also directed that the local civil registrar be notified and that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) be sent a copy of the petition and order.7 Since there was no opposition to the petition, respondent moved for leave of court to present her evidence ex parte before a court-appointed commissioner. The OSG, acting through the Provincial Prosecutor, did not object; hence, the lower court granted the motion. After the reception of evidence, the trial court rendered a decision ordering the change of name from Giovanni N. Gallamaso to Giovanni Nadores.8 From this decision, petitioner Republic of the Philippines, through the OSG, filed an appeal with a lone assignment of error: the court a quo erred in granting the petition in a summary proceeding. Ruling that the proceedings were sufficiently adversarial in nature as required, the CA affirmed the RTC decision ordering the change of name.9 In this petition, the Republic contends that the CA erred in affirming the trial courts decision which gran ted the petition for change of name despite the nonjoinder of indispensable parties.10 Petitioner cites Republic of the Philippines v. Labrador11 and claims that the purported parents and all other persons who may be adversely affected by the childs change of name should have been made respondents to make the proceeding adversarial.12 We deny the petition.

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"The subject of rights must have a fixed symbol for individualization which serves to distinguish him from all others; this symbol is his name."13 Understandably, therefore, no person can change his name or surname without judicial authority.14 This is a reasonable requirement for those seeking such change because a persons name necessarily affects his identity, interests and interactions. The State m ust be involved in the process and decision to change the name of any of its citizens. The Rules of Court provides the requirements and procedure for change of name. Here, the appropriate remedy is covered by Rule 103,15 a separate and distinct proceeding from Rule 108 on mere cancellation and correction of entries in the civil registry (usually dealing only with innocuous or clerical errors thereon).16 The issue of non-joinder of alleged indispensable parties in the action before the court a quo is intertwined with the nature of the proceedings there. The point is whether the proceedings were sufficiently adversarial. Summary proceedings do not extensively address the issues of a case since the reason for their conduct is expediency. This, according to petitioner, is not sufficient to deal with substantial or contentious issues allegedly resulting from a change of name, meaning, legitimacy as well as successional rights.17 Such issues are ventilated only in adversarial proceedings wherein all interested parties are impleaded and due process is observed.18 When Giovanni was born in 1982 (prior to the enactment and effectivity of the Family Code of the Philippines),19 the pertinent provision of the Civil Code then as regards his use of a surname, read: Art. 366. A natural child acknowledged by both parents shall principally use the surname of the father. If recognized by only one of the parents, a natural child shall employ the surname of the recognizing parent. (emphasis ours) Based on this provision, Giovanni should have carried his mothers surname from birth. The records do not reveal any act or intention on the part of Giovannis putative father to actually recognize him. Meanwhile, according to the Family Code which repealed, among others, A rticle 366 of the Civil Code: Art. 176. Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to support in conformity with this Code. xxx xxx xxx (emphasis ours) Our ruling in the recent case of In Re: Petition for Change of Name and/or Correction/Cancellation of Entry in Civil Registry of Julian Lin Carulasan Wang20 is enlightening: Our laws on the use of surnames state that legitimate and legitimated children shall principally use the surname of the father. The Family Code gives legitimate children the right to bear the surnames of the father and the mother, while illegitimate children shall use the surname of their mother, unless their father recognizes their filiation, in which case they may bear the fathers surname. Applying these laws, an illegitimate child whose filiation is not recognized by the father bears only a given name and his mo ther surname, and does not have a middle name. The name of the unrecognized illegitimate child therefore identifies him as such. It is only when the illegitimate child is legitimated by the subsequent marriage of his parents or acknowledged by the father in a public document or private handwritten instrument that he bears both his mothers surname as his middle name and his fathers surname as his surname, reflecting his status as a legitimated child or an acknowledged chil d.1awphi1.net21 The foregoing discussion establishes the significant connection of a persons name to his identity, his status in relation to his parents and his successional rights as a legitimate or illegitimate child. For sure, these matters should not be taken lightly as to deprive those who may, in any way, be affected by the right to present evidence in favor of or against such change. The law and facts obtaining here favor Giovannis petition. Giovanni availed of the proper remedy, a petition for change of n ame under Rule 103 of the Rules of Court, and complied with all the procedural requirements. After hearing, the trial court found (and the appellate court affirmed) that the evidence presented during the hearing of Giovannis petition sufficiently established that, under Art. 176 of the Civil Code, Giovanni is entitl ed to change his name as he was never recognized by his father while his mother has always recognized him as her child. A change of name will erase the impression that he was ever recognized by his father. It is also to his best interest as it will facilitate his mothers intended petition to have him join her in the United States. This Court will not stand in the way of the reunification of mother and son. Moreover, it is noteworthy that the cases cited by petitioner22 in support of its position deal with cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry, a proceeding separate and distinct from the special proceedings for change of name. Those cases deal with the application and interpretation of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court while this case was correctly filed under Rule 103. Thus, the cases cited by p etitioner are irrelevant and have no bearing on respondents case. While the OSG is correct in its stance that the proceedings for change of name should be adversarial, the OSG cannot void the proceedings in the trial court on account of its own failure to participate therein. As the CA correctly ruled: The OSG is correct in stating that a petition for change of name must be heard in an adversarial proceeding. Unlike petitions for the cancellation or correction of clerical errors in entries in the civil registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court, a petition for change of name under Rule 103 cannot be decided through a summary proceeding. There is no doubt that this petition does not fall under Rule 108 for it is not alleged that the entry in the civil registry suffers from clerical or typographical errors. The relief sought clearly goes beyond correcting erroneous entries in the civil registry, although by granting the petition, the result is the same in that a corresponding change in the entry is also required to reflect the change in name. In this regard, [appellee] Capote complied with the requirement for an adversarial proceeding by posting in a newspaper of general circulation notice of the filing of the petition. The lower court also furnished the OSG a copy thereof. Despite the notice, no one came forward to oppose the petition including the OSG. The fact that no one opposed the petition did not deprive the court of its jurisdiction to hear the same nor does it make the proceeding less adversarial in nature. The lower court is still expected to exercise its judgment to determine whether the petition is meritorious or not and not merely accept as true the arguments propounded. Considering that the OSG neither opposed the petition nor the motion to present its evidence ex parte when it had the opportunity to do so, it cannot now complain that the proceedings in the lower court were not adversarial enough.23 (emphasis supplied) A proceeding is adversarial where the party seeking relief has given legal warning to the other party and afforded the latter an opportunity to contest it.24 Respondent gave notice of the petition through publication as required by the rules.25 With this, all interested parties were deemed notified and the whole world considered bound by the judgment therein. In addition, the trial court gave due notice to the OSG by serving a copy of the petition on it. Thus, all the requirements to make a proceeding adversarial were satisfied when all interested parties, including petitioner as represented by the OSG, were afforded the opportunity to contest the petition.

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WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the January 13, 2003 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 66128 AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. IN RE: PETITION FOR CHANGE OF NAME AND/OR CORRECTION/CANCELLATION OF ENTRY IN CIVIL REGISTRY OF JULIAN LIN CARULASAN WANG also known as JULIAN LIN WANG, to be amended/corrected as JULIAN LIN WANG, JULIAN LIN WANG, duly represented by his mother ANNA LISA WANG, Petitioners, vs. CEBU CITY CIVIL REGISTRAR, duly represented by the Registrar OSCAR B. MOLO, Respondents. DECISION TINGA, J.: I will not blot out his name out of the book of life. Revelation 3:5 On 22 September 2002, petitioner Julian Lin Carulasan Wang, a minor, represented by his mother Anna Lisa Wang, filed a petition dated 19 September 2002 for change of name and/or correction/cancellation of entry in the Civil Registry of Julian Lin Carulasan Wang. Petitioner sought to drop his middle name and have his registered name changed from Julian Lin Carulasan Wang to Julian Lin Wang. The petition was docketed as Special Proceedings Case No. 11458 CEB and raffled to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 57. The RTC established the following facts: Julian Lin Carulasan Wang was born in Cebu City on February 20, 1998 to parents Anna Lisa Wang and Sing-Foe Wang who were then not yet married to each other. When his parents subsequently got married on September 22, 1998, ...they exec uted a deed of legitimation of their son so that the childs name was changed from Julian Lin Carulasan to Julian Lin Carulasan Wang. The parents of Julian Lin Carulasan Wang plan to stay in Singapore for a long time because they will let him study there together with his sister named Wang Mei Jasmine who was born in Singapore. Since in Singapore middle names or the maiden surname of the mother are not carried in a persons name, they anticipate that Julian Lin Carulasan Wang will be discriminated against because of his current registered name which carries a middle name. Julian and his sister might also be asking whether they are brother and sister since they have different surnames. Carulasan sounds funny in Singapores Mandarin language since they do not have the letter "R" but if there is, they pronounce it as "L." It is for these reasons that the name of Julian Lin Carulasan Wang is requested to be changed to Julian Lin Wang.1 On 30 April 2003, the RTC rendered a decision denying the petition.2 The trial court found that the reason given for the change of name sought in the petitionthat is, that petitioner Julian may be discriminated against when studies in Singapore because of his middle name did not fall within the grounds recognized by law. The trial court ruled that the change sought is merely for the convenience of the child. Since the State has an interest in the name of a person, names cannot be changed to suit the convenience of the bearers. Under Article 174 of the Family Code, legitimate children have the right to bear the surnames of the father and the mother, and there is no reason why this right should now be taken from petitioner Julian, considering that he is still a minor. The trial court added that when petitioner Julian reaches the age of majority, he could then decide whether he will change his name by dropping his middle name.3 Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision but this was denied in a resolution dated 20 May 2004.4 The trial court maintained that the Singaporean practice of not carrying a middle name does not justify the dropping of the middle name of a legitimate Filipino child who intends to study there. The dropping of the middle name would be tantamount to giving due recognition to or application of the laws of Singapore instead of Philippine law which is controlling. That the change of name would not prejudice public interest or would not be for a fraudulent purpose would not suffice to grant the petition if the reason for the change of name is itself not reasonable.5 Petitioner then filed this Petition for Review on Certiorari (Under Rule 45)6 arguing that the trial court has decided a question of substance not theretofore determined by the Court, that is: whether or not dropping the middle name of a minor child is contrary to Article 1747 of the Family Code. Petitioner contends that "[W]ith globalization and mixed marriages, there is a need for the Supreme Court to rule on the matter of dropping of family name for a child to adjust to his new environment, for consistency and harmony among siblings, taking into consideration the "best interest of the child."8 It is argued that convenience of the child is a valid reason for changing the name as long as it will not prejudice the State and others. Petitioner points out that the middle name "Carulasan" will cause him undue embarrassment and the difficulty in writing or pronouncing it will be an obstacle to his social acceptance and integration in the Singaporean community. Petitioner also alleges that it is error for the trial court to have denied the petition for change of name until he had reached the age of majority for him to decide the name to use, contrary to previous cases9 decided by this Court that allowed a minor to petition for change of name.10 The Court required the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on the petition. The OSG filed its Comment11 positing that the trial court correctly denied the petition for change of name. The OSG argues that under Article 174 of the Family Code, legitimate children have the right to bear the surnames of their father and mother, and such right cannot be denied by the mere expedient of dropping the same. According to the OSG, there is also no showing that the dropping of the middle name "Carulasan" is in the best interest of petitioner, since mere convenience is not sufficient to support a petition for change of name and/or cancellation of entry.12 The OSG also adds that the petitioner has not shown any compelling reason to justify the change of name or the dropping of the middle name, for that matter. Petitioners allegation that the continued use of the middle name may result in confusion a nd difficulty is allegedly more imaginary than real. The OSG reiterates its argument raised before the trial court that the dropping of the childs middle name could only trigger much deeper inquiries regarding the true parentage of petitioner. Hence, while petitioner Julian has a sister named Jasmine Wei Wang, there is no confusion since both use the surname of their father, Wang. Even assuming that it is customary in Singapore to drop the middle name, it has also not been shown that the use of such middle name is actually proscribed by Singaporean law.13

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We affirm the decision of the trial court. The petition should be denied.

The Court has had occasion to express the view that the State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and entities for purposes of identification, and that a change of name is a privilege and not a right, so that before a person can be authorized to change his name given him either in his certificate of birth or civil registry, he must show proper or reasonable cause, or any compelling reason which may justify such change. Otherwise, the request should be denied.14 The touchstone for the grant of a change of name is that there be proper and reasonable cause for which the change is sough t.15 To justify a request for change of name, petitioner must show not only some proper or compelling reason therefore but also that he will be prejudiced by the use of his true and official name. Among the grounds for change of name which have been held valid are: (a) when the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (b) when the change results as a legal consequence, as in legitimation; (c) when the change will avoid confusion; (d) when one has continuously used and been known since childhood by a Filipino name, and was unaware of alien parentage; (e) a sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudicing anybody; and (f) when the surname causes embarrassment and there is no showing that the desired change of name was for a fraudulent purpose or that the change of name would prejudice public interest.16 In granting or denying petitions for change of name, the question of proper and reasonable cause is left to the sound discretion of the court. The evidence presented need only be satisfactory to the court and not all the best evidence available. What is involved is not a mere matter of allowance or disallowance of the request, but a judicious evaluation of the sufficiency and propriety of the justifications advanced in support thereof, mindful of the consequent results in the event of its grant and with the sole prerogative for making such determination being lodged in the courts.17 The petition before us is unlike other petitions for change of name, as it does not simply seek to change the name of the minor petitioner and adopt another, but instead seeks to drop the middle name altogether. Decided cases in this jurisdiction involving petitions for change of name usually deal with requests for change of surname. There are only a handful of cases involving requests for change of the given name18 and none on requests for changing or dropping of the middle name. Does the law allow one to drop the middle name from his registered name? We have to answer in the negative. A discussion on the legal significance of a persons name is relevant at this point. We quote, thus: For all practical and legal purposes, a man's name is the designation by which he is known and called in the community in wh ich he lives and is best known. It is defined as the word or combination of words by which a person is distinguished from other individuals and, also, as the label or appellation which he bears for the convenience of the world at large addressing him, or in speaking of or dealing with him. Names are used merely as one method of indicating the identity of persons; they are descriptive of persons for identification, since, the identity is the essential thing and it has frequently been held that, when identity is certain, a variance in, or misspelling of, the name is immaterial. The names of individuals usually have two parts: the given name or proper name, and the surname or family name. The given or proper name is that which is given to the individual at birth or baptism, to distinguish him from other individuals. The name or family name is that which identifies the family to which he belongs and is continued from parent to child. The given name may be freely selected by the parents for the child; but the surname to which the child is entitled is fixed by law. A name is said to have the following characteristics: (1) It is absolute, intended to protect the individual from being confused with others. (2) It is obligatory in certain respects, for nobody can be without a name. (3) It is fixed, unchangeable, or immutable, at least at the start, and may be changed only for good cause and by judicial proceedings. (4) It is outside the commerce of man, and, therefore, inalienable and intransmissible by act inter vivos or mortis causa. (5) It is imprescriptible.19 This citation does not make any reference to middle names, but this does not mean that middle names have no practical or legal significance. Middle names serve to identify the maternal lineage or filiation of a person as well as further distinguish him from others who may have the same given name and surname as he has. Our laws on the use of surnames state that legitimate and legitimated children shall principally use the surname of the father.20 The Family Code gives legitimate children the right to bear the surnames of the father and the mother,21 while illegitimate children shall use the surname of their mother, unless their father recognizes their filiation, in which case they may bear the fathers surname.22 Applying these laws, an illegitimate child whose filiation is not recognized by the father bears only a given name and his mothers surname, and does not have a middle name. The name of the unrecognized illegitimate child therefore identifies him as such. It is only when the illegitimate child is legitimated by the subsequent marriage of his parents or acknowledged by the father in a public document or private handwritten instrument that he bears both his mothers surname as his middle name and his fathers surname as his surname, reflecting his status as a legiti mated child or an acknowledged illegitimate child. Accordingly, the registration in the civil registry of the birth of such individuals requires that the middle name be indicated in the certificate. The registered name of a legitimate, legitimated and recognized illegitimate child thus contains a given or proper name, a middle name, and a surname. Petitioner theorizes that it would be for his best interest to drop his middle name as this would help him to adjust more easily to and integrate himself into Singaporean society. In support, he cites Oshita v. Republic23 and Calderon v. Republic,24 which, however, are not apropos both. In Oshita, the petitioner therein, a legitimate daughter of a Filipino mother, Buena Bartolome, and a Japanese father, Kishimatsu Oshita, sought to change her name from Antonina B. Oshita to Antonina Bartolome. The Court granted her petition based on the following considerations: she had elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; her other siblings who had a lso elected Philippine citizenship have been using their mothers surname; she was embarrassed to bear a Japanese surname there still being ill feeling against the Japanese due to the last World War; and there was no showing that the change of name was motivated by a fraudulent purpose or that it will prejudice public interest. In Calderon, the Court allowed petitioner Gertrudes Josefina del Prado, an illegitimate minor child acting through her mother who filed the petition in her behalf, to change her name to Gertudes Josefina Calderon, taking the surname of her stepfather, Romeo C. Calderon, her mothers husband. The Court hel d that a petition for change of name of an infant should be granted where to do is clearly for the best interest of the child. The Court took into consideration the opportunity provided for the minor petitioner to eliminate the stigma of illegitimacy which she would carry if she continued to use the surname of her illegitimate father. The Court pronounced that justice dictates that every person be allowed to avail of any opportunity to improve his social standing as long as doing so he does not cause prejudice or injury to the interests of the State or of other people. Petitioner cites Alfon v. Republic,25 in arguing that although Article 174 of the Family Code gives the legitimate child the right to use the surnames of the father and the mother, it is not mandatory such that the child could use only one family name, even the family name of the mother. In Alfon, the petitioner therein, the legitimate daughter of Filomeno Duterte and Estrella Alfon, sought to change her name from Maria Estrella Veronica Primitiva Duterte (her name

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as registered in the Local Civil Registry) to Estrella S. Alfon (the name she had been using since childhood , in her school records and in her voters registration). The trial court denied her petition but this Court overturned the denial, ruling that while Article 364 of the Civil Code states that she, as a legitimate child, should principally use the surname of her father, there is no legal obstacle for her to choose to use the surname of herm other to which she is entitled. In addition, the Court found that there was ample justification to grant her petition, i.e., to avoid confusion. Weighing petitioners reason of convenience for the change of his name against the standards set in the cases he cites to support his contention would show that his justification is amorphous, to say the least, and could not warrant favorable action on his petition. The factual antecedents and unique circumstances of the cited cases are not at all analogous to the case at bar. The instant case is clearly distinguishable from the cases of Oshita and Alfon, where the petitioners were already of age when they filed their petitions for change of name. Being of age, they are considered to have exercised their discretion and judgment, fully knowing the effects of their decision to change their surnames. It can also be unmistakably observed that the reason for the grant of the petitions for change of name in these two cases was the presence of reasonable or compelling grounds therefore. The Court, in Oshita, recognized the tangible animosity most Filipinos had during that time against the Japanese as a result of World War II, in addition to the fact of therein petitioners election of Philippine citizenship. In Alfon, the Court granted the petition since the petitioner had been known since childhood by a name different from her registered name and she had not used her registered name in he r school records and voters registration records; thus, denying the petition would only result to confusion. Calderon, on the other hand, granted the petition for change of name filed by a mother in behalf of her illegitimate minor child. Petitioner cites this case to buttress his argument that he does not have to reach the age of majority to petition for change of name. However, it is manifest in Calderon that the Court, in granting the petition for change of name, gave paramount consideration to the best interests of the minor petitioner therein. In the case at bar, the only reason advanced by petitioner for the dropping his middle name is convenience. However, how such change of name would make his integration into Singaporean society easier and convenient is not clearly established. That the continued use of his middle name would cause confusion and difficulty does not constitute proper and reasonable cause to drop it from his registered complete name. In addition, petitioner is only a minor. Considering the nebulous foundation on which his petition for change of name is based, it is best that the matter of change of his name be left to his judgment and discretion when he reaches the age of majority.26 As he is of tender age, he may not yet understand and appreciate the value of the change of his name and granting of the same at this point may just prejudice him in his rights under our laws. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is DENIED. SO ORDERED. MA. CRISTINA TORRES BRAZA, PAOLO JOSEF T. BRAZA and JANELLE ANN T. BRAZA, Petitioners, vs. THE CITY CIVIL REGISTRAR OF HIMAMAYLAN CITY, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, minor PATRICK ALVIN TITULAR BRAZA, represented by LEON TITULAR, CECILIA TITULAR and LUCILLE C. TITULAR, Respondents. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: Petitioner Ma. Cristina Torres (Ma. Cristina) and Pablo Sicad Braza, Jr. (Pablo), also known as "Pablito Sicad Braza," were married1 on January 4, 1978. The union bore Ma. Cristinas co-petitioners Paolo Josef2 and Janelle Ann3 on May 8, 1978 and June 7, 1983, respectively, and Gian Carlo4 on June 4, 1980. Pablo died5 on April 15, 2002 in a vehicular accident in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. During the wake following the repatriation of his remains to the Philippines, respondent Lucille Titular (Lucille) began introducing her co-respondent minor Patrick Alvin Titular Braza (Patrick) as her and Pablo's son. Ma. Cristina thereupon made inquiries in the course of which she obtained Patrick's birth certificate6 from the Local Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental with the following entries: Name of Child : PATRICK ALVIN CELESTIAL TITULAR Date of Birth : 01 January 1996 Mother : Lucille Celestial Titular Father : Pablito S. Braza Date Received at the Local Civil Registrar :January 13, 1997 Annotation : "Late Registration" Annotation/Remarks : "Acknowledge (sic) by the father Pablito Braza on January 13, 1997" Remarks : Legitimated by virtue of subsequent marriage of parents on April 22, 1998 at Manila. Henceforth, the child shall be known as Patrick Alvin Titular Braza (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Ma. Cristina likewise obtained a copy7 of a marriage contract showing that Pablo and Lucille were married on April 22, 1998, drawing her and her copetitioners to file on December 23, 2005 before the Regional Trial Court of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental a petition8 to correct the entries in the birth record of Patrick in the Local Civil Register. Contending that Patrick could not have been legitimated by the supposed marriage between Lucille and Pablo, said marriage being bigamous on account of the valid and subsisting marriage between Ma. Cristina and Pablo, petitioners prayed for (1) the correction of the entries in Patrick's birth record with respect to his legitimation, the name of the father and his acknowledgment, and the use of the last name "Braza"; 2) a directive to Leon, Cecilia and Lucille, all surnamed Titular, as guardians of the minor Patrick, to submit Parick to DNA testing to determine his paternity and filiation; and 3) the declaration of nullity of the legitimation of Patrick as stated in his birth certificate and, for this purpose, the declaration of the marriage of Lucille and Pablo as bigamous. On Patricks Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction, the trial court, by Order9 of September 6, 2007, dismissed the petition without prejudice, it holding that in a special proceeding for correction of entry, the court, which is not acting as a family court under the Family Code, has no jurisdiction over an action to annul the marriage of Lucille and Pablo, impugn the legitimacy of Patrick, and order Patrick to be subjected to a DNA test, hence, the controversy should be ventilated in an ordinary adversarial action.

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10

Petitioners motion for reconsideration having been denied by Order10 of November 29, 2007, they filed the present petition f or review. Petitioners maintain that the court a quo may pass upon the validity of marriage and questions on legitimacy even in an action to correct entries in the civil registrar. Citing Cario v. Cario,11 Lee v. Court of Appeals12 and Republic v. Kho,13 they contend that even substantial errors, such as those sought to be corrected in the present case, can be the subject of a petition under Rule 108.14 The petition fails. In a special proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Original Registry), the trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages and rule on legitimacy and filiation. Rule 108 of the Rules of Court vis a vis Article 412 of the Civil Code15 charts the procedure by which an entry in the civil registry may be cancelled or corrected. The proceeding contemplated therein may generally be used only to correct clerical, spelling, typographical and other innocuous errors in the civil registry. A clerical error is one which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding; an error made by a clerk or a transcriber; a mistake in copying or writing, or a harmless change such as a correction of name that is clearly misspelled or of a misstatement of the occupation of the parent. Substantial or contentious alterations may be allowed only in adversarial proceedings, in which all interested parties are impleaded and due process is properly observed.16 The allegations of the petition filed before the trial court clearly show that petitioners seek to nullify the marriage between Pablo and Lucille on the ground that it is bigamous and impugn Patricks filiation in connect ion with which they ask the court to order Patrick to be subjected to a DNA test. Petitioners insist, however, that the main cause of action is for the correction of Patricks birth records17 and that the re st of the prayers are merely incidental thereto. Petitioners position does not lie. Their cause of action is actually to seek the declaration of Pablo and Lucilles marriage as void for being bigamous and impugn Patricks legitimacy, which causes of action are governed not by Rule 108 but by A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which took effect on March 15, 2003, and Art. 17118 of the Family Code, respectively, hence, the petition should be filed in a Family Court as expressly provided in said Code.1avvphi1 It is well to emphasize that, doctrinally, validity of marriages as well as legitimacy and filiation can be questioned only in a direct action seasonably filed by the proper party, and not through collateral attack such as the petition filed before the court a quo. Petitioners reliance on the cases they cited is misplaced. Cario v. Cario was an action filed by a second wife against the first wife for the return of one-half of the death benefits received by the first after the death of the husband. Since the second wife contracted marriage with the husband while the latters marriage to the first wife was still subsisting, the Court ruled on the validity of the two marriages, it being essential to the determination of who is rightfully entitled to the death benefits. In Lee v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that contrary to the contention that the petitions filed by the therein petitioners before the lower courts were actions to impugn legitimacy, the prayer was not to declare that the petitioners are illegitimate children of Keh Shiok Cheng as stated in their records of birth but to establish that they are not the latters children, hence, there was nothing to impugn as there was no blood relation at all b etween the petitioners and Keh Shiok Cheng. That is why the Court ordered the cancellation of the name of Keh Shiok Cheng as the petitioners mother and the substitution thereof with "Tiu Chuan" who is their biological mother. Thus, the collateral attack was allowed and the petition deemed as adversarial proceeding contemplated under Rule 108. In Republic v. Kho, it was the petitioners themselves who sought the correction of the entries in their respective birth records to reflect that they were illegitimate and that their citizenship is "Filipino," not Chinese, because their parents were never legally married. Again, considering that the changes sought to be made were substantial and not merely innocuous, the Court, finding the proceedings under Rule 108 to be adversarial in nature, upheld the lower courts grant of the petition. It is thus clear that the facts in the above-cited cases are vastly different from those obtaining in the present case. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. SO ORDERED. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs. MERLYN MERCADERA through her Attorney-in-Fact, EVELYN M. OGA, Respondent. DECISION MENDOZA, J.: This petition for review on certiorari assails the December 9, 2008 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA G.R. CV No. 00568-MIN, which affirmed the September 28, 2005 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Dipolog City, Branch 8 (RTC), in a petition for correction of entries, docketed as Special Proceedings No. R-3427 (SP No. R-3427), filed by respondent Merlyn Mercadera (Mercadera) under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The Factual and Procedural Antecedents On June 6, 2005, Merlyn Mercadera (Mercadera), represented by her sister and duly constituted Attorney-in-Fact, Evelyn M. Oga (Oga), sought the correction of her given name as it appeared in her Certificate of Live Birth - from Marilyn L. Mercadera to Merlyn L. Mercadera before the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Dipolog City pursuant to Republic Act No. 9048 (R.A. No. 9048).2 Under R.A. No. 9048, the city or municipal civil registrar or consul general, as the case may be, is now authorized to effect the change of first name or nickname and the correction of clerical or typographical errors in civil registry entries. "Under said law, jurisdiction over applications for change of first name is now primarily lodged with administrative officers. The law now excludes the change of first name from the coverage of Rules 103 until and unless an administrative petition for change of name is first filed and subsequently denied"3 and removes "correction or changing of clerical errors in entries of the civil

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register from the ambit of Rule 108." Hence, what is left for the scope of operation of the rules are substantial changes and corrections in entries of the civil register.4 The Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Dipolog City, however, refused to effect the correction unless a court order was obtained "because the Civil Registrar therein is not yet equipped with a permanent appointment before he can validly act on petitions for corrections filed before their office as mandated by Republic Act 9048."5 Mercadera was then constrained to file a Petition For Correction of Some Entries as Appearing in the Certificate of Live Birth under Rule 108 before the Regional Trial Court of Dipolog City (RTC). The petition was docketed as Special Proceedings No. R-3427 (SP No. R-3427). Section 2 of Rule 108 reads: SEC. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. Upon good and valid grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss or recovery of citizenship; (l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name. [Underscoring supplied] Upon receipt of the petition for correction of entry, the RTC issued an order, dated June 10, 2005, which reads: Finding the petition sufficient in form and substance, notice is hereby given that the hearing of said petition is set on JUL Y 26, 2005 at 8:30 oclock in the morning, at the Session Hall of Branch 8, this Court, Bulwagan ng Katarungan, Dipolog City, on which date, time and place, anyone appearing to contest the petition shall state in writing his grounds there[for], serving a copy thereof to the petitioner and likewise file copies with this Court on or before the said date of hearing. Let this order be published at the expense of petitioner once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper edited and published in Dipolog City and of general circulation therein, the City of Dapitan and the province of Zamboanga del Norte, and copies hereof be furnished to the Office of the Solicitor General of (sic) 134 Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati, Metro Manila, the City Civil Registrar of Dipolog, and posted on the bulletin boards of the City Hall of Dipolog, the Provincial Capitol Building, and of this Court. IT IS SO ORDERED. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) entered its appearance for the Republic of the Philippines and deputized the Office of the City Prosecutor to assist in the case only on the very day of the hearing. This prompted the court to reset the hearing on September 5, 2005. On said day, there being no opposition, counsel for Mercadera moved for leave of court to present evidence ex parte. Without any objection from the City Prosecutor, the trial court designated the branch clerk of court to receive evidence for Mercadera. On September 15, 2005, the testimony of Oga and several photocopies of documents were formally offered and marked as evidence to prove that Mercadera never used the name "Marilyn" in any of her public or private transactions. On September 26, 2005, the RTC issued an order6 admitting Exhibits "A" to "I"7 and their submarkings, as relevant to the resolution of the case. The following facts were gathered from documentary evidence and the oral testimony of Oga, as reported by the lower court: Petitioner Merlyn M. Mercadera was born on August 19, 1970 at Dipolog City. She is the daughter of spouses Tirso U. Mercadera and Norma C. Lacquiao. The fact of her birth was reported to the Office of the City Civil Registrar of Dipolog City on September 8, 1970. It was recorded on page 68, book no. 9, in the Registry of Births of said civil registry. In the certification of birth dated May 9, 2005 issued by the same registry, her given name appears as Marilyn and not Merlyn (Exhibit "C"). On September 29, 1979, petitioner was baptized according to the rites and ceremonies of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. As reflected in her certificate of baptism issued by said church, she was baptized by the name Merlyn L. Mercadera (Exhibit "D"). In her elementary diploma issued by the Paaralang Sentral ng Estaka, Dipolog City; her high school diploma issued by the Zamboanga del Norte School of Arts and Trades, Dipolog City; and college diploma issued by the Silliman University, Dumaguete City, where she earned the degree of Bachelor of Secondary Education, uniformly show her name as Merlyn L. Mercadera (Exhibits "E", "F", and "G"). Presently, she is working in U.P. Mindanao, Buhangin, Davao City. Her certificate of membership issued by the Government Service Insurance System also bears his [sic] complete name as Merlyn Lacquiao Mercadera (Exhibit "H"). When she secured an authenticated copy of her certificate of live birth from the National Statistics Office, she discovered that her given name as registered is Marilyn and not Merlyn; hence, this petition. In its September 28, 2005 Decision,8 the RTC granted Mercaderas petition and directed the Office of the City Civil Registrar of Dipolog City to correct her name appearing in her certificate of live birth, Marilyn Lacquiao Mercadera, to MERLYN Lacquiao Mercadera. Specifically, the dispositive portion of the RTC Decision reads: WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the Office of the City Civil Registrar of Dipolog City is hereby directed to correct the given name of petitioner appearing in her certificate of live birth, from Marilyn Lacquiao Mercadera to MERLYN Lacquiao Mercadera. In a four-page decision, the RTC ruled that the documentary evidence presented by Mercadera sufficiently supported the circumstances alleged in her petition. Considering that she had used "Merlyn" as her given name since childhood until she discovered the discrepancy in her Certificate of Live Birth, the RTC was convinced that the correction was justified.

For the OSG, the correction in the spelling of Mercaderas given name might seem innocuous enough to grant but "it is in trut h a material correction as it would modify or increase substantive rights."10 What the lower court actually allowed was a change of Mercaderas given name, which would have been

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The OSG timely interposed an appeal praying for the reversal and setting aside of the RTC decision. It mainly anchored its appeal on the availment of Mercadera of the remedy and procedure under Rule 108. In its Brief9 filed with the CA, the OSG argued that the lower court erred (1) in granting the prayer for change of name in a petition for correction of entries; and (2) in admitting the photocopies of documentary evidence and hearsay testimony of Oga.

proper had she filed a petition under Rule 103 and proved any of the grounds therefor. The lower court, "may not substitute one for the other for purposes of expediency."11 Further, because Mercadera failed to invoke a specific ground recognized by the Rules, the lower courts order in effect allowed the change of ones name in the civil registry without basis. The CA was not persuaded. In its December 9, 2008 Decision, 12 the appellate court affirmed the questioned RTC Order in CA-G.R. CV No. 00568-MIN. The CA assessed the controversy in this wise: Appellants insistence that the petition should have been filed under Rule 103 and not Rule 108 of the Rules of C ourt is off the mark. This Court does not entertain any doubt that the petition before the trial court was one for the correction on an entry in petitioners Certifica te of Live Birth and not one in which she sought to change her name. In Co v. Civil Register of Manila, G.R. No. 138496, February 23, 2004, the High Court reiterated the distinction between the phrases "to correct" and "to change." Said the High Court: To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to remove the faults or error from." To change means "to replace something with something else of the same kind or with something that serves as a substitute. Article 412 of the New Civil Code does not qualify as to the kind of entry to be changed or corrected or distinguished on the basis of the effect that the correction or change may be. Such entries include not only those clerical in nature but also substantial errors. After all, the role of the Court under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is to ascertain the truths about the facts recorded therein. That appellee sought to correct an entry and not to change her name is patent to the Court from the allegations in her petition, specifically, paragraphs 7 and 8 thereof xxxx Anent the RTCs error in admitting the photocopies of Mercaderas documentary evidence and in vesting probative value to Ogas testimony, the CA cited the well-established rule that "evidence not objected to may be admitted and may be validly considered by the court in arriving at its judgment."13 On March 6, 2009, the OSG filed the present petition. On behalf of Mercadera, the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) filed its Comment14 on July 3, 2009. Th e OSG declined to file a reply claiming that its petition already contained an exhaustive discussion on the following assigned errors:15 I THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN GRANTING THE CHANGE IN RESPONDENTS NAME UNDER RULE 103. II THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN CONSIDERING SECONDARY EVIDENCE. Rule 103 procedurally governs judicial petitions for change of given name or surname, or both, pursuant to Article 376 of the Civil Code.16 This rule provides the procedure for an independent special proceeding in court to establish the status of a person involving his relations with others, that is, his legal position in, or with regard to, the rest of the community.17 In petitions for change of name, a person avails of a remedy to alter the "designation by which he is known and called in the community in which he lives and is best known."18 When granted, a persons identity and interactions are affected as he bears a new "label or appellation for the convenience of the world at large in addressing him, or in speaking of, or dealing with him."19 Judicial permission for a change of name aims to prevent fraud and to ensure a record of the change by virtue of a court decree. The proceeding under Rule 103 is also an action in rem which requires publication of the order issued by the court to afford the State and all other interested parties to oppose the petition. When complied with, the decision binds not only the parties impleaded but the whole world. As notice to all, publication serves to indefinitely bar all who might make an objection. "It is the publication of such notice that brings in the whole world as a party in the case and vests the court with jurisdiction to hear and decide it."20 Essentially, a change of name does not define or effect a change of ones existing family relations or in the rights and duti es flowing therefrom. It does not alter ones legal capacity or civil status.21 However, "there could be instances where the change applied for may be open to objection by parties who already bear the surname desired by the applicant, not because he would thereby acquire certain family ties with them but because the existence of such ties might be erroneously impressed on the public mind."22 Hence, in requests for a change of name, "what is involved is not a mere matter of allowance or disallowance of the request, but a judicious evaluation of the sufficiency and propriety of the justifications advanced x x x mindful of the consequent results in the event of its grant x x x."23 Rule 108, on the other hand, implements judicial proceedings for the correction or cancellation of entries in the civil registry pursuant to Article 412 of the Civil Code.24 Entries in the civil register refer to "acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons,"25 also as enumerated in Article 408 of the same law.26 Before, only mistakes or errors of a harmless and innocuous nature in the entries in the civil registry may be corrected under Rule 108 and substantial errors affecting the civil status, citizenship or nationality of a party are beyond the ambit of the rule. In the abandoned case of Chua Wee v. Republic,27 this Court declared that, x x x if Rule 108 were to be extended beyond innocuous or harmless changes or corrections of errors which are visible to the eye or obvious to the understanding, so as to comprehend substantial and controversial alterations concerning citizenship, legitimacy of paternity or filiation, or legitimacy of marriage, said Rule 108 would thereby become unconstitutional for it would be increasing or modifying substantive rights, which changes are not authorized under Article 412 of the new Civil Code." In the latter case of Wong v. Republic,28 however, Justice Vicente Abad Santos, in a separate concurrence, opined that Article 412, which Rule 108 implements, contemplates all kinds of issues and all types of procedures because "the provision does not say that it applies only to non-controversial issues and that the procedure to be used is summary in nature." In Republic v. Judge De la Cruz,29 the dissenting opinion penned by Justice Pacifico De Castro echoed the same view: It is not accurate to say that Rule 108 would be rendered unconstitutional if it would allow the correction of more than mere harmless clerical error, as it would thereby increase or modify substantive rights which the Constitution expressly forbids because Article 412 of the Civil Code, the substantive law sought to be implemented by Rule 108, allows only the correction of innocuous clerical errors not those affecting the status of persons. As was stressed in the dissent on the aforesaid Wong Case, Article 412 does not limit in its express terms nor by mere implication, the correction authorized by it to that of mere clerical

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errors. x x x it would be reasonable and justified to rule that Article 412 contemplates of correction of erroneous entry of whatever nature, procedural safeguards having only to be provided for, as was the manifest purpose of Rule 108. x x x proceedings for the correction of erroneous entry should not be considered as establishing one's status in a legal manner conclusively beyond dispute or controversion, x x x the books making up the civil register and all documents relating thereto x x x shall be prima facie evidence of the facts therein contained. Hence, the status as corrected would not have a superior quality for evidentiary purpose. Moreover, the correction should not imply a change of status but a mere rectification of error to make the matter corrected speak for the truth. x x x Finally in Republic v. Valencia,30 the above stated views were adopted by this Court insofar as even substantial errors or matters in a civil registry may be corrected and the true facts established, provided the parties aggrieved avail themselves of the appropriate adversary proceeding. "If the purpose of the petition is merely to correct the clerical errors which are visible to the eye or obvious to the understanding, the court may, under a summary procedure, issue an order for the correction of a mistake. However, as repeatedly construed, changes which may affect the civil status from legitimate to illegitimate, as well as sex, are substantial and controversial alterations which can only be allowed after appropriate adversary proceedings depending upon the nature of the issues involved. Changes which affect the civil status or citizenship of a party are substantial in character and should be threshed out in a proper action depending upon the nature of the issues in controversy, and wherein all the parties who may be affected by the entries are notified or represented and evidence is submitted to prove the allegations of the complaint, and proof to the contrary admitted x x x."31 "Where such a change is ordered, the Court will not be establishing a substantive right but only correcting or rectifying an erroneous entry in the civil registry as authorized by law. In short, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court provides only the procedure or mechanism for the proper enforcement of the substantive law embodied in Article 412 of the Civil Code and so does not violate the Constitution."32 In the case at bench, the OSG posits that the conversion from "MARILYN" to "MERLYN" is not a correction of an innocuous error but a material correction tantamount to a change of name which entails a modification or increase in substantive rights. For the OSG, this is a substantial error that requires compliance with the procedure under Rule 103, and not Rule 108. It appears from these arguments that there is, to some extent, confusion over the scope and application of Rules 103 and Rule 108. Where a "change of name" will necessarily be reflected by the corresponding correction in an entry, as in this case, the functions of both rules are often muddled. While there is no clearcut rule to categorize petitions under either rule, this Court is of the opinion that a resort to the basic distinctions between the two rules with respect to alterations in a persons registered name can effectively clear the seeming perplexity of the issue. Further, a careful evalu ation of circumstances alleged in the petition itself will serve as a constructive guide to determine the propriety of the relief prayed for. The "change of name" contemplated under Article 376 and Rule 103 must not be confused with Article 412 and Rule 108. A change of ones name under Rule 103 can be granted, only on grounds provided by law. In order to justify a request for change of name, there must be a proper and compelling reason for the change and proof that the person requesting will be prejudiced by the use of his official name. To assess the sufficiency of the grounds invoked therefor, there must be adversarial proceedings.33 In petitions for correction, only clerical, spelling, typographical and other innocuous errors in the civil registry may be raised. Considering that the enumeration in Section 2, Rule 10834 also includes "changes of name," the correction of a patently misspelled name is covered by Rule 108. Suffice it to say, not all alterations allowed in ones name are confined under Rule 103. Corrections for clerical errors may be set right under Rule 108. This rule in "names," however, does not operate to entirely limit Rule 108 to the correction of clerical errors in civil registry entries by way of a summary proceeding. As explained above, Republic v. Valencia is the authority for allowing substantial errors in other entries like citizenship, civil status, and paternity, to be corrected using Rule 108 provided there is an adversary proceeding. "After all, the role of the Court under Rule 108 is to ascertain the truths about the facts recorded therein."35 A serious scrutiny of this petition reveals a glaring lack of support to the OSGs assumption that Mercadera intended to chan ge her name under Rule 103. All that the petition propounded are swift arguments on the alleged procedural flaws of Mercaderas pet ition before the RTC. In the same vein, no concrete contention was brought up to convince this Court that the dangers sought to be prevented by the adversarial proceedings prescribed in Rule 103 are attendant in this case. Instead, the RTC found the documents presented by Mercadera to have satisfactorily shown that she had been known as MERLYN ever since, discounting the possibility that confusion, or a modification of substantive rights might arise. Truth be told, not a single oppositor appeared to contest the petition despite full compliance with the publication requirement. Thus, the petition filed by Mercadera before the RTC correctly falls under Rule 108 as it simply sought a correction of a misspelled given name. To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to remove the faults or error from." To change means "to replace something with something else of the same kind or with something that serves as a substitute."36 From the allegations in her petition, Mercadera clearly prayed for the lower court "to remove the faults or error" from her registered given name "MARILYN," and "to make or set aright" the same to conform to the one she grew up to, "MERLYN." It does not take a complex assessment of said petition to learn of its intention to simply correct the clerical error in spelling. Mercadera even attempted to avail of the remedy allowed by R.A. No. 9048 but she unfortunately failed to enjoy the expediency which the law provides and was constrained to take court action to obtain relief. Thus, the petition was clear in stating: 7. That as such, there is a need to correct her given name as appearing in her Certificate of Live Birth from MARILYN to MERLYN to conform to her true and correct given name that she had been using and had been known within the community x x x. 8. That herein petitioner went to the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Dipolog City and requested them to effect such correction in her Certificate of Live Birth, however, the Local Civil Registrar of Dipolog City will not effect such correction unless an order is obtained by herein petitioner from this Honorable Court because the Local Civil Registrar therein is not yet equipped with permanent appointment before he can validly act on petitions for corrections filed before their office as mandated by Republic Act 9048, hence the filing of this petition. [Emphases supplied] Indeed, there are decided cases involving mistakes similar to Mercaderas case which recognize the same a harmless error. In Yu v. Republic37 it was held that "to change Sincio to Sencio which merely involves the substitution of the first vowel i in the first name into the vowel e amounts merely to the righting of a clerical error." In Labayo-Rowe v. Republic,38 it was held that the change of petitioners nam e from "Beatriz Labayo/Beatriz Labayu" to "Emperatriz Labayo" was a mere innocuous alteration wherein a summary proceeding was appropriate. In Republic v. Court of Appeals, Jaime B. Caranto and Zenaida P. Caranto, the correction involved the substitution of the letters "ch" for the letter "d," so that what appears as "Midael" as given name would read "Michael." In the latter case, this Court, with the agreement of the Solicitor General, ruled that the error was plainly clerical, such that, "changing the name of the child from Midael C. Mazon to Michael C. Mazon cannot possibly cause any confusion, because both names can be read and pronounced with the same rhyme (tugma) and tone (tono, tunog, himig)."39

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In this case, the use of the letter "a" for the letter "e," and the deletion of the letter "i," so that what appears as "Marilyn" would read as "Merlyn" is patently a rectification of a name that is clearly misspelled. The similarity between "Marilyn" and "Merlyn" may well be the object of a mix- up that blemished Mercaderas Certificate of Live Birth until her adulthood, thus, her interest to correct the same. The CA did not allow Mercadera the change of her name. What it did allow was the correction of her misspelled given name which she had been using ever since she could remember. It is worthy to note that the OSGs reliance on Republic vs. Hernandez40 is flawed. In that case, this Court said that "a cha nge in a given name is a substantial matter" and that it "cannot be granted by means of any other proceeding that would in effect render it a mere incident or an offshoot of another special proceeding." While this Court stands true to the ruling in Hernandez, the said pronouncement therein was stated in a different tenor and, thus, inapplicable to this case. Hernandez was decided against an entirely different factual milieu. There was a petition for adoption that must not have led to a corresponding change in the adoptees given name because "it would be procedurally erroneous to employ a petition for ad option to effect a change of name in the absence of a corresponding petition for the latter relief at law." In the present case, the issue is the applicability of either Rule 103 or Rule 108 and the relief sought by Mercadera can in fact be granted under the latter. This Court finds no attempt on the part of Mercadera to render the requirements under Rule 103 illusory as in Hernandez. Besides, granting that Rule 103 applies to this case and that compliance with the procedural requirements under Rule 108 falls short of what is mandated, it still cannot be denied that Mercadera complied with the requirement for an adversarial proceeding before the lower court. The publication and posting of the notice of hearing in a newspaper of general circulation and the notices sent to the OSG and the Local Civil Registry are sufficient indicia of an adverse proceeding. The fact that no one opposed the petition, including the OSG, did not deprive the court of its jurisdiction to hear the same and did not make the proceeding less adversarial in nature. Considering that the OSG did not oppose the petition and the motion to present its evidence ex parte when it had the opportunity to do so, it cannot now complain that the proceedings in the lower court were procedurally defective. Indeed, it has become unnecessary to further discuss the reasons why the CA correctly affirmed the findings of the lower court especially in admitting and according probative value to the evidence presented by Mercadera. WHEREFORE, the December 9, 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 00568-MIN is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE WRIT OF AMPARO AND THE WRIT OF HABEAS DATA IN FAVOR OF MELISSA C. ROXAS, MELISSA C. ROXAS, Petitioner, vs. GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, GILBERT TEODORO, GEN. VICTOR S. IBRADO, P/DIR. GEN. JESUS AME VERZOSA, LT. GEN. DELFIN N. BANGIT, PC/SUPT. LEON NILO A. DELA CRUZ, MAJ. GEN. RALPH VILLANUEVA, PS/SUPT. RUDY GAMIDO LACADIN, AND CERTAIN PERSONS WHO GO BY THE NAME[S] DEX, RC AND ROSE, Respondents. DECISION PEREZ, J.: At bench is a Petition For Review on Certiorari1 assailing the Decision2 dated 26 August 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00036-WRA a petition that was commenced jointly under the Rules on the Writ of Amparo (Amparo Rule) and Habeas Data (Habeas Data Rule). In its decision, the Court of Appeals extended to the petitioner, Melissa C. Roxas, the privilege of the writs of amparo and habeas data but denied the lat ters prayers for an inspection order, production order and return of specified personal belongings. The fallo of the decision reads: WHEREFORE, the Petition is PARTIALLY MERITORIOUS. This Court hereby grants Petitioner the privilege of the Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data. Accordingly, Respondents are enjoined to refrain from distributing or causing the distribution to the public of any records in whatever form, reports, documents or similar papers relative to Petitioners Melissa C. Roxas, and/or Melissa Roxas; alleged ties to the CPP -NPA or pertinently related to the complained incident. Petitioners prayers for an inspection order, production order and for the return of the specified personal belongings are denied for lack of merit. Although there is no evidence that Respondents are responsible for the abduction, detention or torture of the Petitioner, said Respondents pursuant to their legally mandated duties are, nonetheless, ordered to continue/complete the investigation of this incident with the end in view of prosecuting those who are responsible. Respondents are also ordered to provide protection to the Petitioner and her family while in the Philippines against any and all forms of harassment, intimidation and coercion as may be relevant to the grant of these reliefs.3 We begin with the petitioners allegations. Petitioner is an American citizen of Filipino descent.4 While in the United States, petitioner enrolled in an exposure program to the Philippines with the group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-United States of America (BAYAN-USA) of which she is a member.5 During the course of her immersion, petitioner toured various provinces and towns of Central Luzon and, in April of 2009, she volunteered to join members of BAYAN-Tarlac6 in conducting an initial health survey in La Paz, Tarlac for a future medical mission.7 In pursuit of her volunteer work, petitioner brought her passport, wallet with Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00) in cash, journal, digital camera with memory card, laptop computer, external hard disk, IPOD,8 wristwatch, sphygmomanometer, stethoscope and medicines.9 After doing survey work on 19 May 2009, petitioner and her companions, Juanito Carabeo (Carabeo) and John Edward Jandoc (Jandoc), decided to rest in the house of one Mr. Jesus Paolo (Mr. Paolo) in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac.10 At around 1:30 in the afternoon, however, petitioner, her companions and Mr. Paolo were startled by the loud sounds of someone banging at the front door and a voice demanding that they open up.11 Suddenly, fifteen (15) heavily armed men forcibly opened the door, barged inside and ordered petitioner and her companions to lie on the ground face down.12 The armed men were all in civilian clothes and, with the exception of their leader, were also wearing bonnets to conceal their faces.13 Petitioner tried to protest the intrusion, but five (5) of the armed men ganged up on her and tied her hands.14 At this juncture, petitioner saw the other armed men herding Carabeo and Jandoc, already blindfolded and taped at their mouths, to a nearby blue van. Petitioner started to shout her name.15 Against her

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vigorous resistance, the armed men dragged petitioner towards the vanbruising her arms, legs and knees.16 Once inside the van, but before she can be blindfolded, petitioner was able to see the face of one of the armed men sitting beside her.17 The van then sped away. After about an hour of traveling, the van stopped.18 Petitioner, Carabeo and Jandoc were ordered to alight.19 After she was informed that she is being detained for being a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA), petitioner was separated from her companions and was escorted to a room that she believed was a jail cell from the sound of its metal doors.20 From there, she could hear the sounds of gunfire, the noise of planes taking off and landing and some construction bustle.21 She inferred that she was taken to the military camp of Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija.22 What followed was five (5) straight days of interrogation coupled with torture.23 The thrust of the interrogations was to convince petitioner to abandon her communist beliefs in favor of returning to "the fold."24 The torture, on the other hand, consisted of taunting, choking, boxing and suffocating the petitioner.25 Throughout the entirety of her ordeal, petitioner was made to suffer in blindfolds even in her sleep.26 Petitioner was only relieved of her blindfolds when she was allowed to take a bath, during which she became acquainted with a woman named "Rose" who bathed her.27 There were also a few times when she cheated her blindfold and was able to peek at her surroundings.28 Despite being deprived of sight, however, petitioner was still able to learn the names of three of her interrogators who introduced themselves to her as "Dex," "James" and "RC."29 "RC" even told petitioner that those who tortured her came from the "Special Operations Group," and that she was abducted because her name is included in the "Order of Battle."30 On 25 May 2009, petitioner was finally released and returned to her uncles house in Quezon City.31 Before being released, however, the abductors gave petitioner a cellular phone with a SIM32 card, a slip of paper containing an e-mail address with password,33 a plastic bag containing biscuits and books,34 the handcuffs used on her, a blouse and a pair of shoes.35 Petitioner was also sternly warned not to report the incident to the group Karapatan or something untoward will happen to her and her family.36 Sometime after her release, petitioner continued to receive calls from RC via the cellular phone given to her.37 Out of apprehension that she was being monitored and also fearing for the safety of her family, petitioner threw away the cellular phone with a SIM card. Seeking sanctuary against the threat of future harm as well as the suppression of any existing government files or records linking her to the communist movement, petitioner filed a Petition for the Writs of Amparo and Habeas Data before this Court on 1 June 2009.38 Petitioner impleaded public officials occupying the uppermost echelons of the military and police hierarchy as respondents, on the belief that it was government agents who were behind her abduction and torture. Petitioner likewise included in her suit "Rose," "Dex" and "RC."39 The Amparo and Habeas Data petition prays that: (1) respondents be enjoined from harming or even approaching petitioner and her family; (2) an order be issued allowing the inspection of detention areas in the 7th Infantry Division, Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija; (3) respondents be ordered to produce documents relating to any report on the case of petitioner including, but not limited to, intelligence report and operation reports of the 7th Infantry Division, the Special Operations Group of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its subsidiaries or branch/es prior to, during and subsequent to 19 May 2009; (4) respondents be ordered to expunge from the records of the respondents any document pertinent or connected to Melissa C. Roxas, Melissa Roxas or any name which sounds the same; and (5) respondents be ordered to return to petitioner her journal, digital camera with memory card, laptop computer, external hard disk, IPOD, wristwatch, sphygmomanometer, stethoscope, medicines and her P15,000.00 cash.40 In a Resolution dated 9 June 2009, this Court issued the desired writs and referred the case to the Court of Appeals for hearing, reception of evidence and appropriate action.41 The Resolution also directed the respondents to file their verified written return.42 On 18 June 2009, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed a Return of the Writs43 on behalf of the public officials impleaded as respondents. We now turn to the defenses interposed by the public respondents. The public respondents label petitioners alleged abduction a nd torture as "stage managed."44 In support of their accusation, the public respondents principally rely on the statement of Mr. Paolo, as contained in the Special Report45 of the La Paz Police Station. In the Special Report, Mr. Paolo disclosed that, prior to the purported abduction, petitioner and her companions instructed him and his two sons to avoid leaving the house.46 From this statement, the public respondents drew the distinct possibility that, except for those already inside Mr. Paolos house, nob ody else has any way of knowing where petitioner and her companions were at the time they were supposedly abducted.47 This can only mean, the public respondents concluded, that if ever there was any "abduction" it must necessarily have been planned by, or done with the consent of, the petitioner and her companions themselves.48 Public respondents also cited the Medical Certificate49 of the petitioner, as actually belying her claims that she was subjected to serious torture for five (5) days. The public respondents noted that while the petitioner alleges that she was choked and boxed by her abductors inflictions that could have easily produced remarkable bruisesher Medical Certificate only shows abrasions in her wrists and knee caps.50 For the public respondents, the above anomalies put in question the very authenticity of petitioners alleged abduction and torture, more so any military or police involvement therein. Hence, public respondents conclude that the claims of abduction and torture was no more than a charade fabricated by the petitioner to put the government in bad light, and at the same time, bring great media mileage to her and the group that she represents.51 Nevertheless, even assuming the abduction and torture to be genuine, the public respondents insist on the dismissal of the Amparo and Habeas Data petition based on the following grounds: (a) as against respondent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in particular, because of her immunity from suit,52 and (b) as against all of the public respondents, in general, in view of the absence of any specific allegation in the petition that they had participated in, or at least authorized, the commission of such atrocities.53 Finally, the public respondents posit that they had not been remiss in their duty to ascertain the truth behind the allegations of the petitioner.54 In both the police and military arms of the government machinery, inquiries were set-up in the following manner: Police Action Police authorities first learned of the purported abduction around 4:30 oclock in the afternoon of 19 May 2009, when Baranga y Captain Michael M. Manuel came to the La Paz Municipal Police Station to report the presence of heavily armed men somewhere in Barangay Kapanikian.55 Acting on the report, the police station launched an initial investigation.56

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The initial investigation revolved around the statement of Mr. Paolo, who informed the investigators of an abduction incident involving three (3) persons later identified as petitioner Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc who were all staying in his house.57 Mr. Paolo disclosed that the abduction occurred around 1:30 oclock in the afternoon, and was perpetrated by about eight (8) heavily arm ed men who forced their way inside his house.58 Other witnesses to the abduction also confirmed that the armed men used a dark blue van with an unknown plate number and two (2) Honda XRM motorcycles with no plate numbers.59 At 5:00 oclock in the afternoon of 19 May 2009, the investigators sent a Flash Message to the different police stations surrounding La Paz, Tarlac, in an effort to track and locate the van and motorcycles of the suspects. Unfortunately, the effort yielded negative results.60 On 20 May 2009, the results of the initial investigation were included in a Special Report61 that was transmitted to the Tarlac Police Provincial Office, headed by public respondent P/S Supt. Rudy Lacadin (Supt. Lacadin). Public respondent Supt. Lacadin, in turn, informed the Regional Police Office of Region 3 about the abduction.62 Follow-up investigations were, at the same time, pursued.63 On 26 May 2009, public respondent PC/Supt. Leon Nilo Dela Cruz, as Director of the Regional Police Office for Region 3, caused the creation of Special Investigation Task GroupCAROJAN (Task Group CAROJAN) to conduct an in-depth investigation on the abduction of the petitioner, Carabeo and Jandoc.64 Task Group CAROJAN started its inquiry by making a series of background examinations on the victims of the purported abduction, in order to reveal the motive behind the abduction and, ultimately, the identity of the perpetrators.65 Task Group CAROJAN also maintained liaisons with Karapatan and the Alliance for Advancement of Peoples Rightsorganizations trusted by petitionerin the hopes of obtaining the latters participation in the ongoing investigations.66 Unfortunately, the letters sent by the investigators requesting for the availability of the petitioner for inquiries were left unheeded.67 The progress of the investigations conducted by Task Group CAROJAN had been detailed in the reports68 that it submitted to public respondent General Jesus Ame Verzosa, the Chief of the Philippine National Police. However, as of their latest report dated 29 June 2009, Task Group CAROJAN is still unable to make a definitive finding as to the true identity and affiliation of the abductorsa fact that task group CAROJAN attributes to the refusal of the petitioner, or any of her fellow victims, to cooperate in their investigative efforts.69 Military Action Public respondent Gilbert Teodoro, the Secretary of National Defense, first came to know about the alleged abduction and torture of the petitioner upon receipt of the Resolution of this Court directing him and the other respondents to file their return.70 Immediately thereafter, he issued a Memorandum Directive71 addressed to the Chief of Staff of the AFP, ordering the latter, among others, to conduct an inquiry to determine the validity of the accusation of military involvement in the abduction.72 Acting pursuant to the Memorandum Directive, public respondent General Victor S. Ibrado, the AFP Chief of Staff, sent an AFP Radio Message73 addressed to public respondent Lieutenant General Delfin N. Bangit (Lt. Gen. Bangit), the Commanding General of the Army, relaying the order to cause an investigation on the abduction of the petitioner.74 For his part, and taking cue from the allegations in the amparo petition, public respondent Lt. Gen. Bangit instructed public respondent Major General Ralph A. Villanueva (Maj. Gen. Villanueva), the Commander of the 7th Infantry Division of the Army based in Fort Magsaysay, to set in motion an investigation regarding the possible involvement of any personnel assigned at the camp in the purported abduction of the petitioner.75 In turn, public respondent Maj. Gen. Villanueva tapped the Office of the Provost Marshal (OPV) of the 7th Infantry Division, to conduct the investigation.76 On 23 June 2009, the OPV of the 7th Infantry Division released an Investigation Report77 detailing the results of its inquiry. In substance, the report described petitioners allegations as "opinionated" and thereby cleared the military from any involvement in her alleged abduction and torture.78 The Decision of the Court of Appeals In its Decision,79 the Court of Appeals gave due weight and consideration to the petitioners version that she was indeed abd ucted and then subjected to torture for five (5) straight days. The appellate court noted the sincerity and resolve by which the petitioner affirmed the contents of her affidavits in open court, and was thereby convinced that the latter was telling the truth.80 On the other hand, the Court of Appeals disregarded the argument of the public respondents that the abduction of the petitioner was "stage managed," as it is merely based on an unfounded speculation that only the latter and her companions knew where they were staying at the time they were forcibly taken.81 The Court of Appeals further stressed that the Medical Certificate of the petitioner can only affirm the existence of a true abduction, as its findings are reflective of the very injuries the latter claims to have sustained during her harrowing ordeal, particularly when she was handcuffed and then dragged by her abductors onto their van.82 The Court of Appeals also recognized the existence of an ongoing threat against the security of the petitioner, as manifested in the attempts of "RC" to contact and monitor her, even after she was released.83 This threat, according to the Court of Appeals, is all the more compounded by the failure of the police authorities to identify the material perpetrators who are still at large.84 Thus, the appellate court extended to the petitioner the privilege of the writ of amparo by directing the public respondents to afford protection to the former, as well as continuing, under the norm of extraordinary diligence, their existing investigations involving the abduction.85 The Court of Appeals likewise observed a transgression of the right to informational privacy of the petitioner, noting the existence of "records of investigations" that concerns the petitioner as a suspected member of the CPP-NPA.86 The appellate court derived the existence of such records from a photograph and video file presented in a press conference by party-list representatives Jovito Palparan (Palparan) and Pastor Alcover (Alcover), which allegedly show the petitioner participating in rebel exercises. Representative Alcover also revealed that the photograph and video came from a female CPPNPA member who wanted out of the organization. According to the Court of Appeals, the proliferation of the photograph and video, as well as any form of media, insinuating that petitioner is part of the CPP-NPA does not only constitute a violation of the right to privacy of the petitioner but also puts further strain on her already volatile security.87 To this end, the appellate court granted the privilege of the writ of habeas data mandating the public respondents to refrain from distributing to the public any records, in whatever form, relative to petitioners alleged ties with the CPP -NPA or pertinently related to her abduction and torture.88

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The foregoing notwithstanding, however, the Court of Appeals was not convinced that the military or any other person acting under the acquiescence of the government, were responsible for the abduction and torture of the petitioner.89 The appellate court stressed that, judging by her own statements, the petitioner merely "believed" that the military was behind her abduction.90 Thus, the Court of Appeals absolved the public respondents from any complicity in the abduction and torture of petitioner.91 The petition was likewise dismissed as against public respondent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in view of her immunity from suit.92 Accordingly, the petitioners prayers for the return of her personal belongings were denied.93 Petitioners prayers for an in spection order and production order also met the same fate.94 Hence, this appeal by the petitioner. AMPARO A. Petitioner first contends that the Court of Appeals erred in absolving the public respondents from any responsibility in her abduction and torture.95 Corollary to this, petitioner also finds fault on the part of Court of Appeals in denying her prayer for the return of her personal belongings.96 Petitioner insists that the manner by which her abduction and torture was carried out, as well as the sounds of construction, gun-fire and airplanes that she heard while in detention, as these were detailed in her two affidavits and affirmed by her in open court, are already sufficient evidence to prove government involvement.97 Proceeding from such assumption, petitioner invokes the doctrine of command responsibility to implicate the high-ranking civilian and military authorities she impleaded as respondents in her amparo petition.98 Thus, petitioner seeks from this Court a pronouncement holding the respondents as complicit in her abduction and torture, as well as liable for the return of her belongings.99 Command Responsibility in Amparo Proceedings It must be stated at the outset that the use by the petitioner of the doctrine of command responsibility as the justification in impleading the public respondents in her amparo petition, is legally inaccurate, if not incorrect. The doctrine of command responsibility is a rule of substantive law that establishes liability and, by this account, cannot be a proper legal basis to implead a party-respondent in an amparo petition.100 The case of Rubrico v. Arroyo,101 which was the first to examine command responsibility in the context of an amparo proceeding, observed that the doctrine is used to pinpoint liability. Rubrico notes that:102 The evolution of the command responsibility doctrine finds its context in the development of laws of war and armed combats. According to Fr. Bernas, "command responsibility," in its simplest terms, means the "responsibility of commanders for crimes committed by subordinate members of the armed forces or other persons subject to their control in international wars or domestic conflict."103 In this sense, command responsibility is properly a form of criminal complicity. The Hague Conventions of 1907 adopted the doctrine of command responsibility,104 foreshadowing the present-day precept of holding a superior accountable for the atrocities committed by his subordinates should he be remiss in his duty of control over them. As then formulated, command responsibility is "an omission mode of individual criminal liability," whereby the superior is made responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates for failing to prevent or punish the perpetrators105 (as opposed to crimes he ordered). (Emphasis in the orginal, underscoring supplied) Since the application of command responsibility presupposes an imputation of individual liability, it is more aptly invoked in a full-blown criminal or administrative case rather than in a summary amparo proceeding. The obvious reason lies in the nature of the writ itself: The writ of amparo is a protective remedy aimed at providing judicial relief consisting of the appropriate remedial measures and directives that may be crafted by the court, in order to address specific violations or threats of violation of the constitutional rights to life, liberty or security.106 While the principal objective of its proceedings is the initial determination of whether an enforced disappearance, extralegal killing or threats thereof had transpiredthe writ does not, by so doing, fix liability for such disappearance, killing or threats, whether that may be criminal, civil or administrative under the applicable substantive law.107 The rationale underpinning this peculiar nature of an amparo writ has been, in turn, clearly set forth in the landmark case of The Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo:108 x x x The remedy provides rapid judicial relief as it partakes of a summary proceeding that requires only substantial evidence to make the appropriate reliefs available to the petitioner; it is not an action to determine criminal guilt requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, or liability for damages requiring preponderance of evidence, or administrative responsibility requiring substantial evidence that will require full and exhaustive proceedings.109(Emphasis supplied) It must be clarified, however, that the inapplicability of the doctrine of command responsibility in an amparo proceeding does not, by any measure, preclude impleading military or police commanders on the ground that the complained acts in the petition were committed with their direct or indirect acquiescence. In which case, commanders may be impleadednot actually on the basis of command responsibilitybut rather on the ground of their responsibility, or at least accountability. In Razon v. Tagitis,110 the distinct, but interrelated concepts of responsibility and accountability were given special and unique significations in relation to an amparo proceeding, to wit: x x x Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been established by substantial evidence to have participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in an enforced disappearance, as a measure of the remedies this Court shall craft, among them, the directive to file the appropriate criminal and civil cases against the responsible parties in the proper courts. Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the measure of remedies that should be addressed to those who exhibited involvement in the enforced disappearance without bringing the level of their complicity to the level of responsibility defined above; or who are imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of extraordinary diligence in the investigation of the enforced disappearance. Responsibility of Public Respondents At any rate, it is clear from the records of the case that the intent of the petitioner in impleading the public respondents is to ascribe some form of responsibility on their part, based on her assumption that they, in one way or the other, had condoned her abduction and torture.111

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To establish such assumption, petitioner attempted to show that it was government agents who were behind her ordeal. Thus, the petitioner calls attention to the circumstances surrounding her abduction and torturei.e., the forcible taking in broad daylight; use of vehicles with no license plates; utilization of blindfolds; conducting interrogations to elicit communist inclinations; and the infliction of physical abusewhich, according to her, is consistent with the way enforced disappearances are being practiced by the military or other state forces.112 Moreover, petitioner also claims that she was held inside the military camp Fort Magsaysaya conclusion that she was able to infer from the travel time required to reach the place where she was actually detained, and also from the sounds of construction, gun-fire and airplanes she heard while thereat.113 We are not impressed. The totality of the evidence presented by the petitioner does not inspire reasonable conclusion that her abductors were military or police personnel and that she was detained at Fort Magsaysay. First. The similarity between the circumstances attending a particular case of abduction with those surrounding previous instances of enforced disappearances does not, necessarily, carry sufficient weight to prove that the government orchestrated such abduction. We opine that insofar as the present case is concerned, the perceived similarity cannot stand as substantial evidence of the involvement of the government. In amparo proceedings, the weight that may be accorded to parallel circumstances as evidence of military involvement depends largely on the availability or non-availability of other pieces of evidence that has the potential of directly proving the identity and affiliation of the perpetrators. Direct evidence of identity, when obtainable, must be preferred over mere circumstantial evidence based on patterns and similarity, because the former indubitably offers greater certainty as to the true identity and affiliation of the perpetrators. An amparo court cannot simply leave to remote and hazy inference what it could otherwise clearly and directly ascertain. In the case at bench, petitioner was, in fact, able to include in her Offer of Exhibits,114 the cartographic sketches115 of several of her abductors whose faces she managed to see. To the mind of this Court, these cartographic sketches have the undeniable potential of giving the greatest certainty as to the true identity and affiliation of petitioners abductors. Unfortunately for the petitioner, this potential has not been realized in view of the fact that the faces described in such sketches remain unidentified, much less have been shown to be that of any military or police personnel. Bluntly stated, the abductors were not proven to be part of either the military or the police chain of command. Second. The claim of the petitioner that she was taken to Fort Magsaysay was not adequately established by her mere estimate of the time it took to reach the place where she was detained and by the sounds that she heard while thereat. Like the Court of Appeals, We are not inclined to take the estimate and observations of the petitioner as accurate on its face not only because they were made mostly while she was in blindfolds, but also in view of the fact that she was a mere sojourner in the Philippines, whose familiarity with Fort Magsaysay and the travel time required to reach it is in itself doubtful.116 With nothing else but obscure observations to support it, petitioners claim that she was taken to Fort Magsaysay remains a mere s peculation. In sum, the petitioner was not able to establish to a concrete point that her abductors were actually affiliated, whether formally or informally, with the military or the police organizations. Neither does the evidence at hand prove that petitioner was indeed taken to the military camp Fort Magsaysay to the exclusion of other places. These evidentiary gaps, in turn, make it virtually impossible to determine whether the abduction and torture of the petitioner was in fact committed with the acquiescence of the public respondents. On account of this insufficiency in evidence, a pronouncement of responsibility on the part of the public respondents, therefore, cannot be made. Prayer for the Return of Personal Belongings This brings Us to the prayer of the petitioner for the return of her personal belongings. In its decision, the Court of Appeals denied the above prayer of the petitioner by reason of the failure of the latter to prove that the public respondents were involved in her abduction and torture.117 We agree with the conclusion of the Court of Appeals, but not entirely with the reason used to support it. To the mind of this Court, the prayer of the petitioner for the return of her belongings is doomed to fail regardless of whether there is sufficient evidence to hold public respondents responsible for the abduction of the petitioner. In the first place, an order directing the public respondents to return the personal belongings of the petitioner is already equivalent to a conclusive pronouncement of liability. The order itself is a substantial relief that can only be granted once the liability of the public respondents has been fixed in a full and exhaustive proceeding. As already discussed above, matters of liability are not determinable in a mere summary amparo proceeding.118 But perhaps the more fundamental reason in denying the prayer of the petitioner, lies with the fact that a persons right to be restituted of his p roperty is already subsumed under the general rubric of property rightswhich are no longer protected by the writ of amparo.119 Section 1 of the Amparo Rule,120 which defines the scope and extent of the writ, clearly excludes the protection of property rights. B. The next error raised by the petitioner is the denial by the Court of Appeals of her prayer for an inspection of the detention areas of Fort Magsaysay.121 Considering the dearth of evidence concretely pointing to any military involvement in petitioners ordeal, this Court finds n o error on the part of the Court of Appeals in denying an inspection of the military camp at Fort Magsaysay. We agree with the appellate court that a contrary stance would be equivalent to sanctioning a "fishing expedition," which was never intended by the Amparo Rule in providing for the interim relief of inspection order.122 Contrary to the explicit position123 espoused by the petitioner, the Amparo Rule does not allow a "fishing expedition" for evidence. An inspection order is an interim relief designed to give support or strengthen the claim of a petitioner in an amparo petition, in order to aid the court before making a decision.124 A basic requirement before an amparo court may grant an inspection order is that the place to be inspected is reasonably determinable from the allegations of the party seeking the order. While the Amparo Rule does not require that the place to be inspected be identified with clarity and precision, it is, nevertheless, a minimum for the issuance of an inspection order that the supporting allegations of a party be sufficient in itself, so as to make a prima facie case. This, as was shown above, petitioner failed to do. Since the very estimates and observations of the petitioner are not strong enough to make out a prima facie case that she was detained in Fort Magsaysay, an inspection of the military camp cannot be ordered. An inspection order cannot issue on the basis of allegations that are, in themselves, unreliable and doubtful.

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HABEAS DATA As earlier intimated, the Court of Appeals granted to the petitioner the privilege of the writ of habeas data, by enjoining the public respondents from "distributing or causing the distribution to the public any records in whatever form, reports, documents or similar papers" r elative to the petitioners "alleged ties with the CPP-NPA or pertinently related to her abduction and torture." Though not raised as an issue in this appeal, this Court is constrained to pass upon and review this particular ruling of the Court of Appeals in order to rectify, what appears to Us, an error infecting the grant. For the proper appreciation of the rationale used by the Court of Appeals in granting the privilege of the writ of habeas data, We quote hereunder the relevant portion125 of its decision: Under these premises, Petitioner prayed that all the records, intelligence reports and reports on the investigations conducted on Melissa C. Roxas or Melissa Roxas be produced and eventually expunged from the records. Petitioner claimed to be included in the Governments Order of Ba ttle under Oplan Bantay Laya which listed political opponents against whom false criminal charges were filed based on made up and perjured information. Pending resolution of this petition and before Petitioner could testify before Us, Ex-army general Jovito Palaparan, Bantay party-list, and Pastor Alcover of the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy party-list held a press conference where they revealed that they received an information from a female NPA rebel who wanted out of the organization, that Petitioner was a communist rebel. Alcover claimed that said information reached them thru a letter with photo of Petitioner holding firearms at an NPA training camp and a video CD of the training exercises. Clearly, and notwithstanding Petitioners denial that she was the person in said video, ther e were records of other investigations on Melissa C. Roxas or Melissa Roxas which violate her right to privacy. Without a doubt, reports of such nature have reasonable connections, one wa y or another, to petitioners abduction where she claimed she had been subjected to cruelties and dehumanizing acts which nearly caused her life precisely due to allegation of her alleged membership in the CPP-NPA. And if said report or similar reports are to be continuously made available to the public, Petitioners securi ty and privacy will certainly be in danger of being violated or transgressed by persons who have strong sentiments or aversion against members of this group. The unregulated dissemination of said unverified video CD or reports of Petitioners alleged ties with the CPP-NPA indiscriminately made available for public consumption without evidence of its authenticity or veracity certainly violates Petitioners right to privacy which must be protected by this Court. We, thus, deem it necessary to grant Petitioner the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Data. (Emphasis supplied). The writ of habeas data was conceptualized as a judicial remedy enforcing the right to privacy, most especially the right to informational privacy of individuals.126 The writ operates to protect a persons right to control information regarding himself, particularly in the instances where such information is being collected through unlawful means in order to achieve unlawful ends. Needless to state, an indispensable requirement before the privilege of the writ may be extended is the showing, at least by substantial evidence, of an actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty or security of the victim.127 This, in the case at bench, the petitioner failed to do. The main problem behind the ruling of the Court of Appeals is that there is actually no evidence on record that shows that any of the public respondents had violated or threatened the right to privacy of the petitioner. The act ascribed by the Court of Appeals to the public respondents that would have violated or threatened the right to privacy of the petitioner, i.e., keeping records of investigations and other reports about the petiti oners ties with the CPP-NPA, was not adequately provenconsidering that the origin of such records were virtually unexplained and its existence, clearly, only inferred by the appellate court from the video and photograph released by Representatives Palparan and Alcover in their press conference. No evidence on record even shows that any of the public respondents had access to such video or photograph. In view of the above considerations, the directive by the Court of Appeals enjoining the public respondents from "distributing or causing the distribution to the public any records in whatever form, reports, documents or similar papers" relative to the petitioners "alleged ties with the CPP -NPA," appears to be devoid of any legal basis. The public respondents cannot be ordered to refrain from distributing something that, in the first place, it was not proven to have. Verily, until such time that any of the public respondents were found to be actually responsible for the abduction and torture of the petitioner, any inference regarding the existence of reports being kept in violation o f the petitioners right to privacy becomes farfetched, and premature. For these reasons, this Court must, at least in the meantime, strike down the grant of the privilege of the writ of habeas data. DISPOSITION OF THE CASE Our review of the evidence of the petitioner, while telling of its innate insufficiency to impute any form of responsibility on the part of the public respondents, revealed two important things that can guide Us to a proper disposition of this case. One, that further investigation with the use of extraordinary diligence must be made in order to identify the perpetrators behind the abduction and torture of the petitioner; and two, that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), pursuant to its Constitutional mandate to "investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights and to provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights,"128 must be tapped in order to fill certain investigative and remedial voids. Further Investigation Must Be Undertaken Ironic as it seems, but part and parcel of the reason why the petitioner was not able to adduce substantial evidence proving her allegations of government complicity in her abduction and torture, may be attributed to the incomplete and one-sided investigations conducted by the government itself. This "awkward" situation, wherein the very persons alleged to be involved in an enforced disappearance or extralegal killing are, at the same time, the very ones tasked by law to investigate the matter, is a unique characteristic of these proceedings and is the main source of the "evidentiary difficulties" faced by any petitioner in any amparo case.129 Cognizant of this situation, however, the Amparo Rule placed a potent safeguardrequiring the "respondent who is a public official or employee" to prove that no less than "extraordinary diligence as required by applicable laws, rules and regulations was observed in the performance of duty."130 Thus, unless and until any of the public respondents is able to show to the satisfaction of the amparo court that extraordinary diligence has been observed in their investigations, they cannot shed the allegations of responsibility despite the prevailing scarcity of evidence to that effect. With this in mind, We note that extraordinary diligence, as required by the Amparo Rule, was not fully observed in the conduct of the police and military investigations in the case at bar.

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A perusal of the investigation reports submitted by Task Group CAROJAN shows modest effort on the part of the police investigators to identify the perpetrators of the abduction. To be sure, said reports are replete with background checks on the victims of the abduction, but are, at the same time, comparatively silent as to other concrete steps the investigators have been taking to ascertain the authors of the crime. Although conducting a background investigation on the victims is a logical first step in exposing the motive behind the abduction its necessity is clearly outweighed by the need to identify the perpetrators, especially in light of the fact that the petitioner, who was no longer in captivity, already came up with allegations about the motive of her captors. Instead, Task Group CAROJAN placed the fate of their investigations solely on the cooperation or non-cooperation of the petitionerwho, they claim, was less than enthusiastic in participating in their investigative efforts.131 While it may be conceded that the participation of the petitioner would have facilitated the progress of Task Group CAROJANs investigation, this Court believes that the formers reticence to cooperate is hardly an exc use for Task Group CAROJAN not to explore other means or avenues from which they could obtain relevant leads.132 Indeed, while the allegations of government complicity by the petitioner cannot, by themselves, hold up as adequate evidence before a court of law they are, nonetheless, a vital source of valuable investigative leads that must be pursued and verified, if only to comply with the high standard of diligence required by the Amparo Rule in the conduct of investigations. Assuming the non-cooperation of the petitioner, Task Group CAROJANs reports still failed to explain why it never considere d seeking the assistance of Mr. Jesus Paolowho, along with the victims, is a central witness to the abduction. The reports of Task Group CAROJAN is silent in any attempt to obtain from Mr. Paolo, a cartographic sketch of the abductors or, at the very leas t, of the one who, by petitioners account, was not wearing any mask.1avvphi1 The recollection of Mr. Paolo could have served as a comparative material to the sketches included in petitioners offer of e xhibits that, it may be pointed out, were prepared under the direction of, and first submitted to, the CHR pursuant to the latters independent investigation on the abduction an d torture of the petitioner.133 But as mentioned earlier, the CHR sketches remain to be unidentified as of this date. In light of these considerations, We agree with the Court of Appeals that further investigation under the norm of extraordinary diligence should be undertaken. This Court simply cannot write finis to this case, on the basis of an incomplete investigation conducted by the police and the military. In a very real sense, the right to security of the petitioner is continuously put in jeopardy because of the deficient investigation that directly contributes to the delay in bringing the real perpetrators before the bar of justice. To add teeth to the appellate courts directive, however, We find it fitting, nay, necessary to shift the primary task of con ducting further investigations on the abduction and torture of the petitioner upon the CHR.134 We note that the CHR, unlike the police or the military, seems to enjoy the trust and confidence of the petitioneras evidenced by her attendance and participation in the hearings already conducted by the commission.135 Certainly, it would be reasonable to assume from such cooperation that the investigations of the CHR have advanced, or at the very least, bears the most promise of advancing farther, in terms of locating the perpetrators of the abduction, and is thus, vital for a final resolution of this petition. From this perspective, We also deem it just and appropriate to relegate the task of affording interim protection to the petitioner, also to the CHR. Hence, We modify the directive of the Court of the Appeals for further investigation, as follows 1.) Appointing the CHR as the lead agency tasked with conducting further investigation regarding the abduction and torture of the petitioner. Accordingly, the CHR shall, under the norm of extraordinary diligence, take or continue to take the necessary steps: (a) to identify the persons described in the cartographic sketches submitted by the petitioner, as well as their whereabouts; and (b) to pursue any other leads relevant to petitioner s abduction and torture. 2.) Directing the incumbent Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), or his successor, and the incumbent Chief of Staff of the AFP, or his successor, to extend assistance to the ongoing investigation of the CHR, including but not limited to furnishing the latter a copy of its personnel records circa the time of the petitioners abduction and torture, subject to reasonable regulations consistent with the Constitution and existing laws. 3.) Further directing the incumbent Chief of the PNP, or his successor, to furnish to this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the petitioner or her representative, a copy of the reports of its investigations and their recommendations, other than those that are already part of the records of this case, within ninety (90) days from receipt of this decision. 4.) Further directing the CHR to (a) furnish to the Court of Appeals within ninety (90) days from receipt of this decision, a copy of the reports on its investigation and its corresponding recommendations; and to (b) provide or continue to provide protection to the petitioner during her stay or visit to the Philippines, until such time as may hereinafter be determined by this Court. Accordingly, this case must be referred back to the Court of Appeals, for the purposes of monitoring compliance with the above directives and determining whether, in light of any recent reports or recommendations, there would already be sufficient evidence to hold any of the public respondents responsible or, at least, accountable. After making such determination, the Court of Appeals shall submit its own report with recommendation to this Court for final action. The Court of Appeals will continue to have jurisdiction over this case in order to accomplish its tasks under this decision. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is PARTIALLY MERITORIOUS. We hereby render a decision: 1.) AFFIRMING the denial of the petitioners prayer for the return of her personal belongings; 2.) AFFIRMING the denial of the petitioners prayer for an inspection of the detention areas of Fort Magsaysay. 3.) REVERSING the grant of the privilege of habeas data, without prejudice, however, to any modification that this Court may make on the basis of the investigation reports and recommendations submitted to it under this decision. 4.) MODIFYING the directive that further investigation must be undertaken, as follows a. APPOINTING the Commission on Human Rights as the lead agency tasked with conducting further investigation regarding the abduction and torture of the petitioner. Accordingly, the Commission on Human Rights shall, under the norm of extraordinary diligence, take or continue to take the necessary steps: (a) to identify the persons described in the cartographic sketches submitted by the petitioner, as well as their whereabouts; and (b) to pursue any other leads relevant to petitioners abduction and torture. b. DIRECTING the incumbent Chief of the Philippine National Police, or his successor, and the incumbent Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or his successor, to extend assistance to the ongoing investigation of the Commission on Human Rights, including but not limited to furnishing the latter a copy

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of its personnel records circa the time of the petitioners abduction and torture, subject to reasonable regulations consiste nt with the Constitution and existing laws. c. Further DIRECTING the incumbent Chief of the Philippine National Police, or his successor, to furnish to this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the petitioner or her representative, a copy of the reports of its investigations and their recommendations, other than those that are already part of the records of this case, within ninety (90) days from receipt of this decision. d. Further DIRECTING the Commission on Human Rights (a) to furnish to the Court of Appeals within ninety (90) days from receipt of this decision, a copy of the reports on its investigation and its corresponding recommendations; and (b) to provide or continue to provide protection to the petitioner during her stay or visit to the Philippines, until such time as may hereinafter be determined by this Court. 5.) REFERRING BACK the instant case to the Court of Appeals for the following purposes: a. To MONITOR the investigations and actions taken by the PNP, AFP, and the CHR; b. To DETERMINE whether, in light of the reports and recommendations of the CHR, the abduction and torture of the petitioner was committed by persons acting under any of the public respondents; and on the basis of this determination c. To SUBMIT to this Court within ten (10) days from receipt of the report and recommendation of the Commission on Human Rightsits own report, which shall include a recommendation either for the DISMISSAL of the petition as against the public respondents who were found not responsible and/or accountable, or for the APPROPRIATE REMEDIAL MEASURES, AS MAY BE ALLOWED BY THE AMPARO AND HABEAS DATA RULES, TO BE UNDERTAKEN as against those found responsible and/or accountable. Accordingly, the public respondents shall remain personally impleaded in this petition to answer for any responsibilities and/or accountabilities they may have incurred during their incumbencies. Other findings of the Court of Appeals in its Decision dated 26 August 2009 in CA-G.R. SP No. 00036-WRA that are not contrary to this decision are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. GEN. AVELINO I. RAZON, JR., Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP); Police Chief Superintendent RAUL CASTAEDA, Chief, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG); Police Senior Superintendent LEONARDO A. ESPINA, Chief, Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (PACER); and GEN. JOEL R. GOLTIAO, Regional Director of ARMM, PNP, Petitioners, vs. MARY JEAN B. TAGITIS, herein represented by ATTY. FELIPE P. ARCILLA, JR., Attorney-in-Fact, Respondent. RESOLUTION BRION, J.: We resolve in this Resolution the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the petitioners -- Gen. Avelino I. Razon, former Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP);1 Gen. Edgardo M. Doromal, former Chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), PNP;2 Police Senior Superintendent Leonardo A. Espina, former Chief of the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (PACER), PNP;3 and Gen. Joel Goltiao, former Regional Director of the PNPAutonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao4 (petitioners) -- addressing our Decision of December 3, 2009. This Decision affirmed the Court of Appeals (CA) decision of March 7, 2008 confirming the enforced disappearance of Engineer Morced N. Tagitis (Tagitis) and granting the Writ of Amparo. Our December 3, 2009 Decision was based, among other considerations, on the finding that Col. Julasirim Ahadin Kasim (Col. Kasim) informed the respondent Mary Jean Tagitis (respondent) and her friends that her husband had been under surveillance since January 2007 because an informant notified the authorities, through a letter, that Tagitis was a liaison for the JI;5 that he was "in good hands" and under custodial investigation for complicity with the JI after he was seen talking to one Omar Patik and a certain "Santos" of Bulacan, a "Balik Islam" charged with terrorism (Kasim evidence). We considered Col. Kasims information, together with the consistent denials by government authorities of any complicity in t he disappearance of Tagitis, the dismissive approach of the police authorities to the report of the disappearance, as well as the haphazard investigations conducted that did not translate into any meaningful results, to be indicative of government complicity in the disappearance of Tagitis (for purposes of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo). We explained that although the Kasim evidence was patently hearsay (and was thus incompetent and inadmissible under our rules of evidence), the unique evidentiary difficulties posed by enforced disappearance cases compel us to adopt standards that were appropriate and responsive to the evidentiary difficulties faced. We noted that while we must follow the substantial evidence rule, we must also observe flexibility in considering the evidence that we shall take into account. Thus, we introduced a new evidentiary standard for Writ of Amparo cases in this wise: The fair and proper rule, to our mind, is to consider all the pieces of evidence adduced in their totality, and to consider any evidence otherwise inadmissible under our usual rules to be admissible if it is consistent with the admissible evidence adduced. In other words, we reduce our rules to the most basic test of reason i.e., to the relevance of the evidence to the issue at hand and its consistency with all the other pieces of adduced evidence, Thus, even hearsay evidence can be admitted if it satisfies this minimum test. [Emphasis in the original] We held further that the Kasim evidence was crucial to the resolution of the present case for two reasons: first, it supplied the gaps that were never looked into or clarified by police investigation; and second, it qualified a simple missing person report into an enforced disappearance case by injecting the element of participation by agents of the State and thus brought into question how the State reacted to the disappearance. Based on these considerations, we held that the government in general, through the PNP and the PNP-CIDG, and in particular, the Chiefs of these organizations, together with Col. Kasim, were fully accountable6 for the enforced disappearance of Tagitis. Specifically, we held Col. Kasim accountable for his failure to disclose under oath information relating to the enforced disappearance; for the purpose of this accountability, we ordered that Col. Kasim be impleaded as a party to this case. Similarly, we also held the PNP accountable for the suppression of vital information that Col. Kasim could, but did not, provide with the same obligation of disclosure that Col. Kasim carries.

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The Motion for Reconsideration The petitioners cited two grounds in support of their Motion for Reconsideration. First, the petitioners argue that there was no sufficient evidence to conclude that Col. Kasims disclosure unequivocally poi nts to some government complicity in the disappearance of Tagitis. Specifically, the petitioners contend that this Court erred in unduly relying on the raw information given to Col. Kasim by a personal intelligence "asset" without any other evidence to support it. The petitioners also point out that the Court misapplied its cited cases (Secretary of Defense v. Manalo,7 Velasquez Rodriguez v. Honduras,8 and Timurtas v. Turkey9) to support its December 3, 2009 decision; in those cases, more than one circumstance pointed to the complicity of the government and its agents. The petitioners emphasize that in the present case, the respondent only presented a "token piece of evidence" that points to Col. Kasim as the source of information that Tagitis was under custodial investigation for having been suspected as a "terrorist supporter." This, according to the petitioners, cannot be equated to the substantial evidence required by the Rule on the Writ of Amparo.10 Second, the petitioners contend that Col. Kasims death renders impossible compliance with the Courts directive in its Decem ber 3, 2009 decision that Col. Kasim be impleaded in the present case and held accountable with the obligation to disclose information known to him and to his "assets" on the enforced disappearance of Tagitis. The petitioners alleged that Col. Kasim was killed in an encounter with the Abu Sayaff Group on May 7, 2009. To prove Col. Kasims death, the petitioners attached to their motion a copy of an article entitled "Abus kill Sulu police director" published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on May 8, 2009.11 This article alleged that "Senior Supt. Julasirim Kasim, his brother Rosalin, a police trainee, and two other police officers were killed in a fire fight with Abu Sayyaf bandits that started at about 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 7, 2009 at the boundaries of Barangays Kulasi and Bulabog in Maimbung town, Sulu." The petitioners also attached an official copy of General Order No. 1089 dated May 15, 2009 issued by the PNP National Headquarters, indicating that "PS SUPT [Police Senior Superintendent] Julasirim Ahadin Kasim 0-05530, PRO ARMM, is posthumously retired from PNP service effective May 8, 2009."12 Additionally, the petitioners point out that the intelligence "assets" who supplied the information that Tagitis was under custodial investigation were personal to Col. Kasim; hence, the movants can no longer comply with this Courts order to disclose any information known to Col. Kasim a nd his "assets." The Courts Ruling We hold that our directive to implead Col. Kasim as a party to the present case has been rendered moot and academic by his death. Nevertheless, we resolve to deny the petitioners motion for reconsideration for lack of merit. Paragraph (e) of the dispositive portion of our December 3, 2009 decision directs: e. Ordering Colonel Julasirim Ahadin Kasim impleaded in this case and holding him accountable with the obligation to disclose information known to him and to his "assets" in relation with the enforced disappearance of Engineer Morced N. Tagitis; Undisputably, this directive can no longer be enforced, and has been rendered moot and academic, given Col. Kasim's demise. His intervening death, however, does not necessarily signify the loss of the information Col. Kasim may have left behind, particularly the network of "assets" he utilized while he was in the service. Intelligence gathering is not an activity conducted in isolation, and involves an interwoven network of informants existing on the basis of symbiotic relationships with the police and the military. It is not farfetched that a resourceful investigator, utilizing the extraordinary diligence that the Rule on the Writ of Amparo requires,13 can still access or reconstruct the information Col. Kasim received from his "asset" or network of assets during his lifetime. The extinction of Col. Kasims personal accountability and obligation to disclose material information, known to him and his assets, does not also era se the burden of disclosure and investigation that rests with the PNP and the CIDG. Lest this Court be misunderstood, we reiterate that our holding in our December 3, 2009 Decision that the PNP -- through the incumbent PNP Chief; and the PNP-CIDG, through its incumbent Chief -- are directly responsible14 for the disclosure of material facts known to the government and to their offices regarding the disappearance of Tagitis; and that the conduct of proper investigation using extraordinary diligence still subsists. These are continuing obligations that will not truly be terminated until the enforced disappearance of the victim, Engr. Morced N. Tagitis, is fully addressed by the responsible or accountable parties, as we directed in our Decision. We now turn to the petitioners substantial challenge to the merits of our December 3, 2009 decision. We see no merit in the petitioners submitted position that no sufficient evidence exists to support the conclusion that the Kasim evidence unequivocally points to some government complicity in the disappearance. Contrary to the petitioners claim that our conclusions only relied on Col. Kasims report, our Decision plainly and pointedly considered other evidence supporting our conclusion, particularly the consistent denials by government authorities of any complicity in the disappearance of Tagitis; the dismissive approach of the police authorities to the report of the disappearance; and the conduct of haphazard investigations that did not translate into any meaningful results. We painstakingly ruled: To give full meaning to our Constitution and the rights it protects, we hold that, as in Velasquez, we should at least take a close look at the available evidence to determine the correct import of every piece of evidence even of those usually considered inadmissible under the general rules of evidence taking into account the surrounding circumstances and the test of reason that we can use as basic minimum admissibility requirement. In the present case, we should at least determine whether the Kasim evidence before us is relevant and meaningful to the disappearance of Tagistis and reasonably consistent with other evidence in the case. xxx The Kasim evidence assumes critical materiality given the dearth of direct evidence on the above aspects of the case, as it supplies the gaps that were never looked into and clarified by police investigation. It is the evidence, too, that colors a simple missing person report into an enforced disappearance case, as it injects the element of participation by agents of the State and thus brings into question how the State reacted to the disappearance. xxx We glean from all these pieces of evidence and developments a consistency in the governments denial of any complicity in the disappearance of Tagitis, disrupted only by the report made by Col. Kasim to the respondent at Camp Katitipan. Even Col. Kasim, however, eventually denied that he ever made the disclosure that Tagitis was under custodial investigation for complicity in terrorism. Another distinctive trait that runs through these developments is the governments dismissive approach to the disappearance, starting from the initial response by the Jolo police to Kunnongs initial reports of the disappearance, to the responses made to the respondent when she herself reported and inquired about her husbands disappearance, and even at Task Force Tagitis itself.

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As the CA found through Task Force Tagitis, the investigation was at best haphazard since the authorities were looking for a man whose picture they initially did not even secure. The returns and reports made to the CA fared no better, as the CIDG efforts themselves were confined to searching for custodial records of Tagitis in their various departments and divisions. To point out the obvious, if the abduction of Tagitis was a "black" operation because it was unrecorded or officially unauthorized, no record of custody would ever appear in the CIDG records; Tagitis, too, would not be detained in the usual police or CIDG detention places. In sum, none of the reports on record contains any meaningful results or details on the depth and extent of the investigation made. To be sure, reports of top police officials indicating the personnel and units they directed to investigate can never constitute exhaustive and meaningful investigation, or equal detailed investigative reports of the activities undertaken to search for Tagitis. Indisputably, the police authorities from the very beginning failed to come up to the extraordinary diligence that the Amparo Rule requires. [Emphasis in the original] Likewise, we see no merit in the petitioners claim that the Kasim evidence does not amount to substantial evidence required by the Rule on the Writ of Amparo. This is not a new issue; we extensively and thoroughly considered and resolved it in our December 3, 2009 Decision. At this point, we need not go into another full discussion of the justifications supporting an evidentiary standard specific to the Writ of Amparo. Suffice it to say that we continue to adhere to the substantial evidence rule that the Rule on the Writ of Amparo requires, with some adjustments for flexibility in considering the evidence presented. When we ruled that hearsay evidence (usually considered inadmissible under the general rules of evidence) may be admitted as the circumstances of the case may require, we did not thereby dispense with the substantial evidence rule; we merely relaxed the evidentiary rule on the admissibility of evidence, maintaining all the time the standards of reason and relevance that underlie every evidentiary situation. This, we did, by considering the totality of the obtaining situation and the consistency of the hearsay evidence with the other available evidence in the case. We also cannot agree with the petitioners contention that we misapplied Secretary of Defense v. Manalo,15 Velasquez Rodrigue z v. Honduras,16 and Timurtas v. Turkey17 to support our December 3, 2009 decision. The petitioners make this claim with the view that in these cases, more than one circumstance pointed to the government or its agents as the parties responsible for the disappearance, while we can only point to the Kasim evidence. A close reading of our December 3, 2009 Decision shows that it rests on more than one basis. At the risk of repetition, we stress that other pieces of evidence point the way towards our conclusion, particularly the unfounded and consistent denials by government authorities of any complicity in the disappearance; the dismissive approach of the police to the report of the disappearance; and the haphazard handling of the investigation that did not produce any meaningful results. In cruder but more understandable language, the run-around given to the respondent and the government responses to the request for meaningful investigation, considered in the light of the Kasim evidence, pointed to the conclusion that the Tagitis affair carried a "foul smell" indicative of government complicity or, at the very least, an attempt at cover-up and concealment. This is the situation that the Writ of Amparo specifically seeks to address. Manalo, Velasquez Rodriguez and Timurtas, read in proper perspective, fully support our findings and conclusions in this case. Manalo is different from Tagitis in terms of their factual settings, as enforced disappearance was no longer a problem in that case. The enforced disappearance of the brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo effectively ended when they escaped from captivity and surfaced, while Tagitis is still nowhere to be found and remains missing more than two years after his reported disappearance. An Amparo situation subsisted in Manalo, however, because of the continuing threat to the brothers right to security; the brothers claimed that since the persons responsible for their enforced disappearance were still at large and had not been held accountable, the former were still under the threat of being once again abducted, kept captive or even killed, which threat constituted a direct violation of their right to security of person. In ruling that substantial evidence existed to support the conclusion that the respondents right to security had been violated, the Court not only considered the respondents affi davit and testimony which positively identified the perpetrators, but also noted other evidence showing the ineffective investigation and protection on the part of the military. The Court significantly found that: Next, the violation of the right to security as protection by the government. Apart from the failure of military elements to provide protection to respondents by themselves perpetrating the abduction, detention, and torture, they also miserably failed in conducting an effective investigation of respondents abduction as revealed by the testimony and investigation report of petitioners own witness, Lt. Col. Ruben Jimenez, Provost Marshall of t he 7th Infantry Division. The one-day investigation conducted by Jimenez was very limited, superficial, and one-sided. He merely relied on the Sworn Statements of the six implicated members of the CAFGU and civilians whom he met in the investigation for the first time. He was present at the investigation when his subordinate Lingad was taking the sworn statements, but he did not propound a single question to ascertain the veracity of their statements or their credibility. He did not call for other witnesses to test the alibis given by the six implicated persons nor for the family or neighbors of the respondents. In his affidavit, petitioner Secretary of National Defense attested that in a Memorandum Directive dated October 31, 2007, he issued a policy directive addressed to the AFP Chief of Staff, that the AFP should adopt rules of action in the event the writ of amparo is issued by a competent court against any members of the AFP, which should essentially include verification of the identity of the aggrieved party; recovery and preservation of relevant evidence; identification of witnesses and securing statements from them; determination of the cause, manner, location and time of death or disappearance; identification and apprehension of the person or persons involved in the death or disappearance; and bringing of the suspected offenders before a competent court. Petitioner AFP Chief of Staff also submitted his own affidavit attesting that he received the above directive of respondent Secretary of National Defense and that acting on this directive, he immediately caused to be issued a directive to the units of the AFP for the purpose of establishing the circumstances of the alleged disappearance and the recent reappearance of the respondents, and undertook to provide results of the investigations to respondents. To this day, however, almost a year after the policy directive was issued by petitioner Secretary of National Defense on October 31, 2007, respondents have not been furnished the results of the investigation which they now seek through the instant petition for a writ of amparo. Under these circumstances, there is substantial evidence to warrant the conclusion that there is a violation of respondents right to security as a guar antee of protection by the government. [Emphasis supplied]18 Similarly in Velasquez Rodriguez, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) acknowledged that when the Honduran Government carried out or tolerated enforced disappearances, the police customarily used a distinctive form of kidnapping. Consequently, the IACHR presumed that Velasquez disappeared at the "hands of or with the acquiescence of those officials within the framework of that practice." Moreover, the IACHR found that negative inferences may be drawn from the fact that the government failed to investigate or to inquire into his disappearance, and thwarted the attempts by the victims family to do so; these according to the Court strongly suggested the governments involvement in the disappearance, even if there was no direct evidence indicating that the government kidnapped Velasquez.19 The Court thus held:201avvphi1 iii. In the case of Manfredo Velsquez, there were the same type of denials by his captors and the Armed Forces, the same omissions of the latter and of the Government in investigating and revealing his whereabouts, and the same ineffectiveness of the courts where three writs of HABEAS corpus and two criminal complaints were brought ( testimony of Miguel Angel Pavn Salazar, Ramn Custodio Lpez, Zenaida Velsquez, press clippings and documentary evidence ).

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h. There is no evidence in the record that Manfredo Velsquez had disappeared in order to join subversive groups, other than a letter from the Mayor of Langue, which contained rumors to that effect. The letter itself shows that the Government associated him with activities it considered a threat to national security. However, the Government did not corroborate the view expressed in the letter with any other evidence. Nor is there any evidence that he was kidnapped by common criminals or other persons unrelated to the practice of disappearances existing at that time." 148. Based upon the above, the Court finds that the following facts have been proven in this proceeding: (1) a practice of disappearances carried out or tolerated by Honduran officials existed between 1981 and 1984; ( 2) Manfredo Velsquez disappeared at the hands of or with the acquiescence of those officials within the framework of that practice; and (3) the Government of Honduras failed to guarantee the human rights affected by that practice. Finally, in Timurtas, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) altered the prevailing jurisprudence by permitting a lesser evidentiary burden in cases of enforced disappearances. The ECHR dismissed the need for direct evidence previously held necessary in the leading case of Kurt v. Turkey,21 and instead permitted the use of circumstantial evidence to establish a violation of the right to life. It stated that "whether the failure on the part of authorities to provide a plausible explanation as to a detainees fate, in the absence of a body, might raise issues under Article 2 of the Conven tion (right to life), will depend on the circumstances of the case and, in particular, on the existence of sufficient circumstantial evidence based on concrete elements, from which it may be concluded to the requisite standard of proof that the detainee must be presumed to have died in custody."22 The ECHR found that:23 Noting that more than six and a half years has gone by since Abdulvahap Timurtas apprehension and having regard to all the o ther circumstances of the case, the Court found that the disappearance of Abdulvahap Timurtas after he had been taken into detention led, in the circumstances of this case, to a presumption that he had died. No explanation having been provided by the Government as to what had happened to him during his detention, the Government was liable for his death and there was a violation of Article 2 of the Convention. [Emphasis supplied] Significantly (in the context of the present case), the ECHR also noted that the inadequacy of the investigation into the disappearance of Timurtas also constituted a violation of his right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Thus viewed, common threads that plainly run in the three cited cases are applicable to the present case. There is the evidence of ineffective investigation in Manalo and Velasquez Rodriguez, while in all three was the recognition that the burden of proof must be lowered or relaxed (either through the use of circumstantial or indirect evidence or even by logical inference); the requirement for direct evidence to establish that an enforced disappearance occurred -as the petitioners effectively suggest -- would render it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prove that an individual has been made to disappear. In these lights, we emphasized in our December 3, 2009 Decision that while the need for substantial evidence remains the rule, flexibility must be observed where appropriate (as the Courts in Velasquez Rodriguez and Timurtas did) for the protection of the precious rights to life, liberty and security. This flexibility, we noted, requires that "we should take a close look at the available evidence to determine the correct import of every piece of evidence even of those usually considered inadmissible under the general rules of evidence taking into account the surrounding circumstances and the test of reason that we can use as basic minimum admissibility requirement." From these perspectives, we see no error that we should rectify or reconsider. WHEREFORE, premises considered, we resolve to GRANT the motion to declare the inclusion of PS/Supt. Julasirim Ahadin Kasim moot and academic, but, otherwise, DENY the petitioners motion for reconsideration. Let this case be remanded to the Court of Appeals for further pr oceedings as directed in our Decision of December 3, 2009. SO ORDERED.

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