VIRGINIA A. LEONOR, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. ROLINDO D. BELDIA, JR.

,
as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of San Carlos City, Branch 57, and MAURICIO
D. LEONOR, JR., respondents.
Topic: Entries in the Civil Register

Facts:
1. Petitioner Virginia A. Leonor was married to private respondent Mauricio D. Virginia and
Mauricio were married in 1960. However, their union was marred by long bouts of
separation, such that Mauricio, who was working in Switzerland, met a woman there
whom he lived with. When Virginia learned of this, she filed an action for separation and
alimony in Switzerland. Mauricio countered divorce.
2. The Swiss court granted the divorce decree, but did not separate the conjugal property.
It also denied alimony to Virginia. Mauricio, on the other hand wrote a letter to the court
alleging that his marriage with Virginia was non-existent. When Virginia learned that her
marriage was not registered with the local civil registrar, she filed for late registration of
her marriage with the local civil registrar; the same was granted and the marriage was
registered.
3. The appeal on the Swiss court decision was decided in favour of Virginia, who was
granted alimony. Hence, Mauricio again appealed the matter to the federal court with a
prayer to set aside the alimony judgment.
4. In May, 1992, Mauricio filed a petition for cancellation of entry of his and Virginia’s
marriage certificate, citing as grounds, the tardiness of the registration and the non-
observance of the valid grounds for marriage.
5. The Regional Trial Court, after hearing, granted Mauricio’s petition. It described the
marriage between Mauricio and Virginia’s marriage sham and fictitious in its decision.
6. Virginia filed her appeal, but the trial court dismissed it on the erroneous assertion that a
record on appeal is needed.
7. Virginia filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, to reverse the decision of
the trial court, and to set aside the order denying her appeal.
8. The Court of Appeals partially granted Virginia’s petition. It ruled that the order denying
her notice of appeal was erroneous and granted in excess of jurisdiction, but refused to
reverse the decision of the trial court. Appeal is the proper remedy to set aside the
decision, said the Court of Appeals.
9. Virginia elevated her case to the Supreme Court.

Issue: WoN the entry in the LCR can be change

Held:

The only errors that can be cancelled or corrected under this Rule are typographical or clerical
errors, not material or substantial ones like the validity or nullity of a marriage. 14 "A clerical
error is one which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding; error made by a clerk
or a transcriber; a mistake in copying or writing (Black vs. Republic, L-10869, Nov. 28, 1958); or
some harmless and innocuous change such as a correction of name that is clearly misspelled or
of a mis- statement of the occupation of the parent (Ansalada vs. Republic, No. L-10226, Feb.
14, 1958). "

Where the effect of a correction in a civil registry will change the civil status of petitioner and her
children from legitimate to illegitimate, the same cannot be granted except only in an adversarial
proceeding. 16 I n Vda. de Castro vs. Republic, this Court held:
". . . It has been the consistent ruling of this Court since the Ty Kong Tin vs. Republic, 94 Phil.
321, 'that substantial alterations, such as those affecting the status and citizenship of a person
in the Civil Registry Records, cannot be ordered by the court unless first threshed out in an
"appropriate action wherein all parties who may be affected by the entries are notified or
represented" (see Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court), and that the summary proceedings
under Article 412 of the Civil Code only justify an order to correct innocuous or clerical errors,
such as misspellings and the like, errors that are visible to the eyes or obvious to the
understanding. (Baybayan vs. Republic of the Philippines, 16 SCRA 403.)' "

Clearly and unequivocally, the summary procedure under Rule 108, and for that matter under
Art. 412 of the Civil Code, cannot be used by Mauricio to change his and Virginia's civil status
from married to single and of their three children from legitimate to illegitimate. Neither does the
trial court, under said Rule, have any jurisdiction to declare their marriage null and void as a
result thereof, to order the local civil registrar to cancel the marriage entry in the civil registry.
Further, the respondent trial judge gravely and seriously abused his discretion in
unceremoniously expanding his very limited jurisdiction under such rule to hear evidence on
such a controversial matter as nullity of a marriage under the Civil Code and/or Family Code, a
process that is proper only in ordinary adversarial proceedings under the Rules.

A void judgment for want of jurisdiction is no judgment at all. It cannot be the source of any right
nor the creator of any obligation. All acts performed pursuant to it and all claims emancipating
from it have no legal effect. Hence, it can never become final and any writ of execution based
on it is void; ". . . it may be said to be a lawless thing which can be treated as an outlaw and
slain at sight, or ignored wherever and whenever it exhibits its head."