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Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text

Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register


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Silverio v Republic be trapped in a man’s body is not his own doing and should not be in any
FIRST DIVISION way taken against him.

G.R. No. 174689 October 22, 2007 Likewise, the [c]ourt believes that no harm, injury [or] prejudice will be
caused to anybody or the community in granting the petition. On the
ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, petitioner, contrary, granting the petition would bring the much-awaited happiness on
vs. the part of the petitioner and her [fiancé] and the realization of their dreams.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
Finally, no evidence was presented to show any cause or ground to deny
DECISION the present petition despite due notice and publication thereof. Even the
State, through the [OSG] has not seen fit to interpose any [o]pposition.
CORONA, J.:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered GRANTING the petition and
When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; He created ordering the Civil Registrar of Manila to change the entries appearing in the
them male and female. (Genesis 5:1-2) Certificate of Birth of [p]etitioner, specifically for petitioner’s first name from
"Rommel Jacinto" to MELY and petitioner’s gender from "Male" to FEMALE.
Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed planted by Bathala and she heard 5
voices coming from inside the bamboo. "Oh North Wind! North Wind!
Please let us out!," the voices said. She pecked the reed once, then twice. On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), thru the
All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit open. Out came two human OSG, filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals.6 It alleged that
beings; one was a male and the other was a female. Amihan named the there is no law allowing the change of entries in the birth certificate by
man "Malakas" (Strong) and the woman "Maganda" (Beautiful). (The reason of sex alteration.
Legend of Malakas and Maganda)
On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals7 rendered a decision8 in favor
When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In particular, does of the Republic. It ruled that the trial court’s decision lacked legal basis.
the law recognize the changes made by a physician using scalpel, drugs There is no law allowing the change of either name or sex in the certificate
and counseling with regard to a person’s sex? May a person successfully of birth on the ground of sex reassignment through surgery. Thus, the Court
petition for a change of name and sex appearing in the birth certificate to of Appeals granted the Republic’s petition, set aside the decision of the trial
reflect the result of a sex reassignment surgery? court and ordered the dismissal of SP Case No. 02-105207. Petitioner
moved for reconsideration but it was denied.9 Hence, this petition.
On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio filed a
petition for the change of his first name and sex in his birth certificate in the Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his name and sex in his birth
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The petition, docketed as SP certificate is allowed under Articles 407 to 413 of the Civil Code, Rules 103
Case No. 02-105207, impleaded the civil registrar of Manila as respondent. and 108 of the Rules of Court and RA 9048.10

Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the City of Manila to the The petition lacks merit.
spouses Melecio Petines Silverio and Anita Aquino Dantes on April 4, 1962.
His name was registered as "Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio" in his A Person’s First Name Cannot Be Changed On the Ground of Sex
certificate of live birth (birth certificate). His sex was registered as "male." Reassignment

He further alleged that he is a male transsexual, that is, "anatomically male Petitioner invoked his sex reassignment as the ground for his petition for
but feels, thinks and acts as a female" and that he had always identified change of name and sex. As found by the trial court:
himself with girls since childhood.1 Feeling trapped in a man’s body, he
consulted several doctors in the United States. He underwent psychological Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or judgment or any
examination, hormone treatment and breast augmentation. His attempts to infraction thereof or for any unlawful motive but solely for the purpose of
transform himself to a "woman" culminated on January 27, 2001 when he making his birth records compatible with his present sex. (emphasis
underwent sex reassignment surgery2 in Bangkok, Thailand. He was supplied)
thereafter examined by Dr. Marcelino Reysio-Cruz, Jr., a plastic and
reconstruction surgeon in the Philippines, who issued a medical certificate Petitioner believes that after having acquired the physical features of a
attesting that he (petitioner) had in fact undergone the procedure. female, he became entitled to the civil registry changes sought. We
disagree.
From then on, petitioner lived as a female and was in fact engaged to be
married. He then sought to have his name in his birth certificate changed The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and entities for
from "Rommel Jacinto" to "Mely," and his sex from "male" to "female." purposes of identification.11 A change of name is a privilege, not a right.12
Petitions for change of name are controlled by statutes.13 In this
An order setting the case for initial hearing was published in the People’s connection, Article 376 of the Civil Code provides:
Journal Tonight, a newspaper of general circulation in Metro Manila, for
three consecutive weeks.3 Copies of the order were sent to the Office of the ART. 376. No person can change his name or surname without judicial
Solicitor General (OSG) and the civil registrar of Manila. authority.

On the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional requirements were This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048 (Clerical Error Law). In
established. No opposition to the petition was made. particular, Section 1 of RA 9048 provides:

During trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also presented Dr. Reysio- SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or Typographical Error and
Cruz, Jr. and his American fiancé, Richard P. Edel, as witnesses. Change of First Name or Nickname. – No entry in a civil register shall be
changed or corrected without a judicial order, except for clerical or
On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision4 in favor of petitioner. typographical errors and change of first name or nickname which can be
Its relevant portions read: corrected or changed by the concerned city or municipal civil registrar or
consul general in accordance with the provisions of this Act and its
Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or judgment or any implementing rules and regulations.
infraction thereof or for any unlawful motive but solely for the purpose of
making his birth records compatible with his present sex. RA 9048 now governs the change of first name.14 It vests the power and
authority to entertain petitions for change of first name to the city or
The sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is entitled to the relief asked municipal civil registrar or consul general concerned. Under the law,
for. therefore, jurisdiction over applications for change of first name is now
primarily lodged with the aforementioned administrative officers. The intent
The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative. and effect of the law is to exclude the change of first name from the
coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and 108 (Cancellation or
Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that granting the petition would be more Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court, until and
in consonance with the principles of justice and equity. With his sexual [re- unless an administrative petition for change of name is first filed and
assignment], petitioner, who has always felt, thought and acted like a subsequently denied.15 It likewise lays down the corresponding venue,16
woman, now possesses the physique of a female. Petitioner’s misfortune to form17 and procedure. In sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating
change of first name are primarily administrative in nature, not judicial.
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
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The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable under
RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which change of first name may Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those provided in Articles 407 and 408 of
be allowed: the Civil Code:24

SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or Nickname. – The ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of
petition for change of first name or nickname may be allowed in any of the persons shall be recorded in the civil register.
following cases:
ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register:
(1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted
with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5) annulments of
marriage; (6) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7)
(2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of natural children; (10)
used by the petitioner and he has been publicly known by that first name or naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of citizenship; (13) civil
nickname in the community; or interdiction; (14) judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary
emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of name.
(3) The change will avoid confusion.
The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of the
Petitioner’s basis in praying for the change of his first name was his sex Civil Code include even those that occur after birth.25 However, no
reassignment. He intended to make his first name compatible with the sex reasonable interpretation of the provision can justify the conclusion that it
he thought he transformed himself into through surgery. However, a change covers the correction on the ground of sex reassignment.
of name does not alter one’s legal capacity or civil status.18 RA 9048 does
not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment. To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to remove the faults or error
Rather than avoiding confusion, changing petitioner’s first name for his from" while to change means "to replace something with something else of
declared purpose may only create grave complications in the civil registry the same kind or with something that serves as a substitute."26 The birth
and the public interest. certificate of petitioner contained no error. All entries therein, including
those corresponding to his first name and sex, were all correct. No
Before a person can legally change his given name, he must present proper correction is necessary.
or reasonable cause or any compelling reason justifying such change.19 In
addition, he must show that he will be prejudiced by the use of his true and Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in the civil registry of
official name.20 In this case, he failed to show, or even allege, any certain acts (such as legitimations, acknowledgments of illegitimate children
prejudice that he might suffer as a result of using his true and official name. and naturalization), events (such as births, marriages, naturalization and
deaths) and judicial decrees (such as legal separations, annulments of
In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for the change of marriage, declarations of nullity of marriages, adoptions, naturalization, loss
petitioner’s first name was not within that court’s primary jurisdiction as the or recovery of citizenship, civil interdiction, judicial determination of filiation
petition should have been filed with the local civil registrar concerned, and changes of name). These acts, events and judicial decrees produce
assuming it could be legally done. It was an improper remedy because the legal consequences that touch upon the legal capacity, status and
proper remedy was administrative, that is, that provided under RA 9048. It nationality of a person. Their effects are expressly sanctioned by the laws.
was also filed in the wrong venue as the proper venue was in the Office of In contrast, sex reassignment is not among those acts or events mentioned
the Civil Registrar of Manila where his birth certificate is kept. More in Article 407. Neither is it recognized nor even mentioned by any law,
importantly, it had no merit since the use of his true and official name does expressly or impliedly.
not prejudice him at all. For all these reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly
dismissed petitioner’s petition in so far as the change of his first name was "Status" refers to the circumstances affecting the legal situation (that is, the
concerned. sum total of capacities and incapacities) of a person in view of his age,
nationality and his family membership.27
No Law Allows The Change of Entry In The Birth Certificate As To Sex On
the Ground of Sex Reassignment The status of a person in law includes all his personal qualities and
relations, more or less permanent in nature, not ordinarily terminable at his
The determination of a person’s sex appearing in his birth certificate is a own will, such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or
legal issue and the court must look to the statutes.21 In this connection, not. The comprehensive term status… include such matters as the
Article 412 of the Civil Code provides: beginning and end of legal personality, capacity to have rights in general,
family relations, and its various aspects, such as birth, legitimation,
ART. 412. No entry in the civil register shall be changed or corrected adoption, emancipation, marriage, divorce, and sometimes even
without a judicial order. succession.28 (emphasis supplied)

Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this provision was amended by A person’s sex is an essential factor in marriage and family relations. It is a
RA 9048 in so far as clerical or typographical errors are involved. The part of a person’s legal capacity and civil status. In this connection, Article
correction or change of such matters can now be made through 413 of the Civil Code provides:
administrative proceedings and without the need for a judicial order. In
effect, RA 9048 removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court ART. 413. All other matters pertaining to the registration of civil status shall
the correction of such errors.22 Rule 108 now applies only to substantial be governed by special laws.
changes and corrections in entries in the civil register.23
But there is no such special law in the Philippines governing sex
Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a "clerical or typographical error" is: reassignment and its effects. This is fatal to petitioner’s cause.

SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. – As used in this Act, the following terms Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register Law) provides:
shall mean:
SEC. 5. Registration and certification of births. – The declaration of the
xxx xxx xxx physician or midwife in attendance at the birth or, in default thereof, the
declaration of either parent of the newborn child, shall be sufficient for the
(3) "Clerical or typographical error" refers to a mistake committed in the registration of a birth in the civil register. Such declaration shall be exempt
performance of clerical work in writing, copying, transcribing or typing an from documentary stamp tax and shall be sent to the local civil registrar not
entry in the civil register that is harmless and innocuous, such as misspelled later than thirty days after the birth, by the physician or midwife in
name or misspelled place of birth or the like, which is visible to the eyes or attendance at the birth or by either parent of the newborn child.
obvious to the understanding, and can be corrected or changed only by
reference to other existing record or records: Provided, however, That no In such declaration, the person above mentioned shall certify to the
correction must involve the change of nationality, age, status or sex of the following facts: (a) date and hour of birth; (b) sex and nationality of infant;
petitioner. (emphasis supplied) (c) names, citizenship and religion of parents or, in case the father is not
known, of the mother alone; (d) civil status of parents; (e) place where the
Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the change of sex infant was born; and (f) such other data as may be required in the
is not a mere clerical or typographical error. It is a substantial change for regulations to be issued.
which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
xxx xxx xxx (emphasis supplied)
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
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Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical record of the anything else. The Court cannot enact a law where no law exists. It can only
facts as they existed at the time of birth.29 Thus, the sex of a person is apply or interpret the written word of its co-equal branch of government,
determined at birth, visually done by the birth attendant (the physician or Congress.
midwife) by examining the genitals of the infant. Considering that there is no
law legally recognizing sex reassignment, the determination of a person’s Petitioner pleads that "[t]he unfortunates are also entitled to a life of
sex made at the time of his or her birth, if not attended by error,30 is happiness, contentment and [the] realization of their dreams." No argument
immutable.31 about that. The Court recognizes that there are people whose preferences
and orientation do not fit neatly into the commonly recognized parameters
When words are not defined in a statute they are to be given their common of social convention and that, at least for them, life is indeed an ordeal.
and ordinary meaning in the absence of a contrary legislative intent. The However, the remedies petitioner seeks involve questions of public policy to
words "sex," "male" and "female" as used in the Civil Register Law and laws be addressed solely by the legislature, not by the courts.
concerning the civil registry (and even all other laws) should therefore be
understood in their common and ordinary usage, there being no legislative WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.
intent to the contrary. In this connection, sex is defined as "the sum of
peculiarities of structure and function that distinguish a male from a Costs against petitioner.
female"32 or "the distinction between male and female."33 Female is "the
sex that produces ova or bears young"34 and male is "the sex that has SO ORDERED.
organs to produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova."35 Thus, the words
"male" and "female" in everyday understanding do not include persons who Puno, C.J., Chairperson, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Azcuna, Garcia, JJ., concur.
have undergone sex reassignment. Furthermore, "words that are employed
in a statute which had at the time a well-known meaning are presumed to Footnotes
have been used in that sense unless the context compels to the
contrary."36 Since the statutory language of the Civil Register Law was 1 Petitioner went for his elementary and high school, as well as his
enacted in the early 1900s and remains unchanged, it cannot be argued Bachelor of Science in Statistics and Master of Arts, in the University of the
that the term "sex" as used then is something alterable through surgery or Philippines. He took up Population Studies Program, Master of Arts in
something that allows a post-operative male-to-female transsexual to be Sociology and Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology at the University of Hawaii,
included in the category "female." in Manoa, Hawaii, U.S.A. Rollo, p. 48.

For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in altering his body 2 This consisted of "penectomy [surgical removal of penis] bilateral
and appearance through the intervention of modern surgery, no law oschiectomy [or orchiectomy which is the surgical excision of the testes]
authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry for that reason. penile skin inversion vaginoplasty [plastic surgery of the vagina] clitoral
Thus, there is no legal basis for his petition for the correction or change of hood reconstruction and augmentation mammoplasty [surgical
the entries in his birth certificate. enhancement of the size and shape of the breasts]." Id.

Neither May Entries in the Birth Certificate As to First Name or Sex Be 3 On January 23, 2003, January 30, 2003 and February 6, 2003.
Changed on the Ground of Equity
4 Penned by Judge Felixberto T. Olalia, Jr. Rollo, pp. 51-53.
The trial court opined that its grant of the petition was in consonance with
the principles of justice and equity. It believed that allowing the petition 5 Id., pp. 52-53 (citations omitted).
would cause no harm, injury or prejudice to anyone. This is wrong.
6 Docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 78824.
The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wide-ranging legal
and public policy consequences. First, even the trial court itself found that 7 Special Sixth Division.
the petition was but petitioner’s first step towards his eventual marriage to
his male fiancé. However, marriage, one of the most sacred social 8 Penned by Associate Justice Arcangelita M. Romilla-Lontok with
institutions, is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a Associate Justices Marina L. Buzon and Aurora Santiago-Lagman
woman.37 One of its essential requisites is the legal capacity of the concurring. Rollo, pp. 25-33.
contracting parties who must be a male and a female.38 To grant the
changes sought by petitioner will substantially reconfigure and greatly alter 9 Resolution dated September 14, 2006, id., pp. 45-46.
the laws on marriage and family relations. It will allow the union of a man
with another man who has undergone sex reassignment (a male-to-female 10 An Act Authorizing the City or Municipal Civil Registrar or the Consul
post-operative transsexual). Second, there are various laws which apply General to Correct a Clerical or Typographical Error in an Entry and/or
particularly to women such as the provisions of the Labor Code on Change of First Name or Nickname in the Civil Register Without Need of a
employment of women,39 certain felonies under the Revised Penal Code40 Judicial Order, Amending for the Purpose Articles 376 and 412 of the Civil
and the presumption of survivorship in case of calamities under Rule 131 of Code of the Philippines.
the Rules of Court,41 among others. These laws underscore the public
policy in relation to women which could be substantially affected if 11 Wang v. Cebu City Civil Registrar, G.R. No. 159966, 30 March 2005,
petitioner’s petition were to be granted. 454 SCRA 155.

It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that "[n]o judge or court 12 Id.
shall decline to render judgment by reason of the silence, obscurity or
insufficiency of the law." However, it is not a license for courts to engage in 13 K v. Health Division, Department of Human Resources, 277 Or. 371, 560
judicial legislation. The duty of the courts is to apply or interpret the law, not P.2d 1070 (1977).
to make or amend it.
14 Under Section 2 (6) of RA 9048, "first name" refers to a name or
In our system of government, it is for the legislature, should it choose to do nickname given to a person which may consist of one or more names in
so, to determine what guidelines should govern the recognition of the addition to the middle names and last names. Thus, the term "first name"
effects of sex reassignment. The need for legislative guidelines becomes will be used here to refer both to first name and nickname.
particularly important in this case where the claims asserted are statute-
based. 15 The last paragraph of Section 7 of RA 9048 provides:

To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions for change of first SECTION 7. Duties and Powers of the Civil Registrar General. – xxx xxx
name and for correction or change of entries in the civil registry, where they xxx
may be filed, what grounds may be invoked, what proof must be presented
and what procedures shall be observed. If the legislature intends to confer Where the petition is denied by the city or municipal civil registrar or the
on a person who has undergone sex reassignment the privilege to change consul general, the petitioner may either appeal the decision to the civil
his name and sex to conform with his reassigned sex, it has to enact registrar general or file the appropriate petition with the proper court.
legislation laying down the guidelines in turn governing the conferment of
that privilege. 16 SECTION 3. Who May File the Petition and Where. – Any person having
direct and personal interest in the correction of a clerical or typographical
It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write a protocol on when a error in an entry and/or change of first name or nickname in the civil register
person may be recognized as having successfully changed his sex. may file, in person, a verified petition with the local civil registry office of the
However, this Court has no authority to fashion a law on that matter, or on
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
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city or municipality where the record being sought to be corrected or the civil register in the Office of the Local Civil Registrar. (Co v. Civil
changed is kept. Register of Manila, supra note 24)

In case the petitioner has already migrated to another place in the country 30 The error pertains to one where the birth attendant writes "male" or
and it would not be practical for such party, in terms of transportation "female" but the genitals of the child are that of the opposite sex.
expenses, time and effort to appear in person before the local civil registrar
keeping the documents to be corrected or changed, the petition may be 31 Moreover, petitioner’s female anatomy is all man-made. The body that
filed, in person, with the local civil registrar of the place where the interested he inhabits is a male body in all aspects other than what the physicians
party is presently residing or domiciled. The two (2) local civil registrars have supplied.
concerned will then communicate to facilitate the processing of the petition.
32 Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th edition (2004), p.1406.
Citizens of the Philippines who are presently residing or domiciled in foreign
countries may file their petition, in person, with the nearest Philippine 33 Words and Phrases, volume 39, Permanent Edition, p. 106.
Consulates.
34 In re Application for Marriage License for Nash, 2003-Ohio-7221 (No.
The petitions filed with the city or municipal civil registrar or the consul 2002-T-0149, slip op., Not Reported in N.E.2d, 2003 WL 23097095 (Ohio
general shall be processed in accordance with this Act and its implementing App. 11 Dist., December 31, 2003), citing Webster’s II New College
rules and regulations. Dictionary (1999).

All petitions for the clerical or typographical errors and/or change of first 35 Id.
names or nicknames may be availed of only once.
36 Standard Oil Co. v. United States, 221 U.S. 1 (1911), 31 S.Ct. 502, 55
17 SECTION 5. Form and Contents of the Petition. – The petition shall be in L.Ed. 619.
the form of an affidavit, subscribed and sworn to before any person
authorized by the law to administer oaths. The affidavit shall set forth facts 37 Article 1, Family Code.
necessary to establish the merits of the petition and shall show affirmatively
that the petitioner is competent to testify to the matters stated. The 38 Article 2(1), Id.
petitioner shall state the particular erroneous entry or entries, which are
sought to be corrected and/or the change sought to be made. 39 These are Articles 130 to 138 of the Labor Code which include nightwork
prohibition, facilities for women, prohibition on discrimination and stipulation
The petition shall be supported with the following documents: against marriage, among others.

(1) A certified true machine copy of the certificate or of the page of the 40 These include Article 333 on adultery, Articles 337 to 339 on qualified
registry book containing the entry or entries sought to be corrected or seduction, simple seduction and acts of lasciviousness with the consent of
changed; the offended party and Articles 342 and 343 on forcible and consented
abduction, among others.
(2) At least two (2) public or private documents showing the correct entry or
entries upon which the correction or change shall be based; and 41 Section 3(jj)(4).

(3) Other documents which the petitioner or the city or municipal civil Republic v Cagandahan
registrar or the consul general may consider relevant and necessary for the
approval of the petition. G.R. No. xgrno September xdate, 2008
xcite
In case of change of first name or nickname, the petition shall likewise be Republic of the Philippines
supported with the documents mentioned in the immediately preceding SUPREME COURT
paragraph. In addition, the petition shall be published at least once a week Manila
for two (2) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation.
Furthermore, the petitioner shall submit a certification from the appropriate SECOND DIVISION
law enforcement agencies that he has no pending case or no criminal
record. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,

18 Republic v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 97906, 21 May 1992, 209 SCRA Petitioner,
189.
- versus -
19 Supra note 11.
JENNIFER B. CAGANDAHAN,
20 Id.
Respondent.
21 In re Ladrach, 32 Ohio Misc.2d 6, 513 N.E.2d 828 (1987).
G.R. No. 166676
22 Lee v. Court of Appeals, 419 Phil. 392 (2001).
Present:
23 Id.
Quisumbing, J., Chairperson,
24 Co v. Civil Register of Manila, G.R. No. 138496, 23 February 2004, 423
SCRA 420. Carpio Morales,

25 Id. Tinga,

26 Id. VELASCO, JR., and

27 Beduya v. Republic of the Philippines, 120 Phil. 114 (1964). BRION, JJ.

28 Salonga, Jovito, Private International Law, 1995 Edition, Rex Bookstore, Promulgated:
p. 238.
September 12, 2008
29 This, of course, should be taken in conjunction with Articles 407 and 412
of the Civil Code which authorizes the recording of acts, events and judicial x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
decrees or the correction or change of errors including those that occur
after birth. Nonetheless, in such cases, the entries in the certificates of birth DECISION
are not be corrected or changed. The decision of the court granting the QUISUMBING, J.:
petition shall be annotated in the certificates of birth and shall form part of
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Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
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This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court raising
purely questions of law and seeking a reversal of the Decision[1] dated THE REQUIREMENTS OF RULES 103 AND 108 OF THE RULES OF
January 12, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 33 of Siniloan, COURT HAVE NOT BEEN COMPLIED WITH; AND,
Laguna, which granted the Petition for Correction of Entries in Birth
Certificate filed by Jennifer B. Cagandahan and ordered the following II.
changes of entries in Cagandahan’s birth certificate: (1) the name "Jennifer
Cagandahan" changed to "Jeff Cagandahan" and (2) gender from "female" CORRECTION OF ENTRY UNDER RULE 108 DOES NOT ALLOW
to "male." CHANGE OF "SEX" OR "GENDER" IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE, WHILE
RESPONDENT’S MEDICAL CONDITION, i.e., CONGENITAL ADRENAL
The facts are as follows. HYPERPLASIA DOES NOT MAKE HER A "MALE."4

On December 11, 2003, respondent Jennifer Cagandahan filed a Petition Simply stated, the issue is whether the trial court erred in ordering the
for Correction of Entries in Birth Certificate2 before the RTC, Branch 33 of correction of entries in the birth certificate of respondent to change her sex
Siniloan, Laguna. or gender, from female to male, on the ground of her medical condition
known as CAH, and her name from "Jennifer" to "Jeff," under Rules 103
In her petition, she alleged that she was born on January 13, 1981 and was and 108 of the Rules of Court.
registered as a female in the Certificate of Live Birth but while growing up,
she developed secondary male characteristics and was diagnosed to have The OSG contends that the petition below is fatally defective for non-
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) which is a condition where persons compliance with Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court because while the
thus afflicted possess both male and female characteristics. She further local civil registrar is an indispensable party in a petition for cancellation or
alleged that she was diagnosed to have clitoral hyperthropy in her early correction of entries under Section 3, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court,
years and at age six, underwent an ultrasound where it was discovered that respondent’s petition before the court a quo did not implead the local civil
she has small ovaries. At age thirteen, tests revealed that her ovarian registrar.5 The OSG further contends respondent’s petition is fatally
structures had minimized, she has stopped growing and she has no breast defective since it failed to state that respondent is a bona fide resident of
or menstrual development. She then alleged that for all interests and the province where the petition was filed for at least three (3) years prior to
appearances as well as in mind and emotion, she has become a male the date of such filing as mandated under Section 2(b), Rule 103 of the
person. Thus, she prayed that her birth certificate be corrected such that Rules of Court.6 The OSG argues that Rule 108 does not allow change of
her gender be changed from female to male and her first name be changed sex or gender in the birth certificate and respondent’s claimed medical
from Jennifer to Jeff. condition known as CAH does not make her a male.7

The petition was published in a newspaper of general circulation for three On the other hand, respondent counters that although the Local Civil
(3) consecutive weeks and was posted in conspicuous places by the sheriff Registrar of Pakil, Laguna was not formally named a party in the Petition for
of the court. The Solicitor General entered his appearance and authorized Correction of Birth Certificate, nonetheless the Local Civil Registrar was
the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor to appear in his behalf. furnished a copy of the Petition, the Order to publish on December 16, 2003
and all pleadings, orders or processes in the course of the proceedings,8
To prove her claim, respondent testified and presented the testimony of Dr. respondent is actually a male person and hence his birth certificate has to
Michael Sionzon of the Department of Psychiatry, University of the be corrected to reflect his true sex/gender,9 change of sex or gender is
Philippines-Philippine General Hospital. Dr. Sionzon issued a medical allowed under Rule 108,10 and respondent substantially complied with the
certificate stating that respondent’s condition is known as CAH. He requirements of Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court.11
explained that genetically respondent is female but because her body
secretes male hormones, her female organs did not develop normally and Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court provide:
she has two sex organs – female and male. He testified that this condition is
very rare, that respondent’s uterus is not fully developed because of lack of Rule 103
female hormones, and that she has no monthly period. He further testified
that respondent’s condition is permanent and recommended the change of CHANGE OF NAME
gender because respondent has made up her mind, adjusted to her chosen
role as male, and the gender change would be advantageous to her. Section 1. Venue. – A person desiring to change his name shall present the
petition to the Regional Trial Court of the province in which he resides, [or,
The RTC granted respondent’s petition in a Decision dated January 12, in the City of Manila, to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court].
2005 which reads:
Sec. 2. Contents of petition. – A petition for change of name shall be signed
The Court is convinced that petitioner has satisfactorily shown that he is and verified by the person desiring his name changed, or some other
entitled to the reliefs prayed [for]. Petitioner has adequately presented to the person on his behalf, and shall set forth:
Court very clear and convincing proofs for the granting of his petition. It was
medically proven that petitioner’s body produces male hormones, and first (a) That the petitioner has been a bona fide resident of the province where
his body as well as his action and feelings are that of a male. He has the petition is filed for at least three (3) years prior to the date of such filing;
chosen to be male. He is a normal person and wants to be acknowledged
and identified as a male. (b) The cause for which the change of the petitioner's name is sought;

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Civil Register of Pakil, Laguna is (c) The name asked for.
hereby ordered to make the following corrections in the birth [c]ertificate of
Jennifer Cagandahan upon payment of the prescribed fees: Sec. 3. Order for hearing. – If the petition filed is sufficient in form and
substance, the court, by an order reciting the purpose of the petition, shall
a) By changing the name from Jennifer Cagandahan to JEFF fix a date and place for the hearing thereof, and shall direct that a copy of
CAGANDAHAN; and the order be published before the hearing at least once a week for three (3)
successive weeks in some newspaper of general circulation published in
b) By changing the gender from female to MALE. the province, as the court shall deem best. The date set for the hearing
shall not be within thirty (30) days prior to an election nor within four (4)
It is likewise ordered that petitioner’s school records, voter’s registry, months after the last publication of the notice.
baptismal certificate, and other pertinent records are hereby amended to
conform with the foregoing corrected data. Sec. 4. Hearing. – Any interested person may appear at the hearing and
oppose the petition. The Solicitor General or the proper provincial or city
SO ORDERED.[3] fiscal shall appear on behalf of the Government of the Republic.

Thus, this petition by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) seeking a Sec. 5. Judgment. – Upon satisfactory proof in open court on the date fixed
reversal of the abovementioned ruling. in the order that such order has been published as directed and that the
allegations of the petition are true, the court shall, if proper and reasonable
The issues raised by petitioner are: cause appears for changing the name of the petitioner, adjudge that such
name be changed in accordance with the prayer of the petition.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION
CONSIDERING THAT: Sec. 6. Service of judgment. – Judgments or orders rendered in connection
with this rule shall be furnished the civil registrar of the municipality or city
I.
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
Page 6 of 13
where the court issuing the same is situated, who shall forthwith enter the Rules of Court the correction of such errors. Rule 108 now applies only to
same in the civil register. substantial changes and corrections in entries in the civil register.18

Rule 108 Under Rep. Act No. 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the
change of sex is not a mere clerical or typographical error. It is a substantial
CANCELLATION OR CORRECTION OF ENTRIES change for which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court.19
IN THE CIVIL REGISTRY
The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable under
Section 1. Who may file petition. – Any person interested in any act, event, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those provided in Articles 407 and 408 of
order or decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been the Civil Code:
recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation
or correction of any entry relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of
the province where the corresponding civil registry is located. persons shall be recorded in the civil register.

Sec. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. – Upon good and valid ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register:
grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be cancelled or
corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) (1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5) annulments of
judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages marriage; (6) judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7)
void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of natural children; (10)
acknowledgments of natural children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss or naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of citizenship; (13) civil
recovery of citizenship; (l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of interdiction; (14) judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary
filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name. emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of name.

Sec. 3. Parties. – When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of the
register is sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any Civil Code include even those that occur after birth.20
interest which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the
proceeding. Respondent undisputedly has CAH. This condition causes the early or
"inappropriate" appearance of male characteristics. A person, like
Sec. 4. Notice and publication. – Upon the filing of the petition, the court respondent, with this condition produces too much androgen, a male
shall, by an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and hormone. A newborn who has XX chromosomes coupled with CAH usually
cause reasonable notice thereof to be given to the persons named in the has a (1) swollen clitoris with the urethral opening at the base, an
petition. The court shall also cause the order to be published once a week ambiguous genitalia often appearing more male than female; (2) normal
for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the internal structures of the female reproductive tract such as the ovaries,
province. uterus and fallopian tubes; as the child grows older, some features start to
appear male, such as deepening of the voice, facial hair, and failure to
Sec. 5. Opposition. – The civil registrar and any person having or claiming menstruate at puberty. About 1 in 10,000 to 18,000 children are born with
any interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may, CAH.
within fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of
publication of such notice, file his opposition thereto. CAH is one of many conditions[21] that involve intersex anatomy. During
the twentieth century, medicine adopted the term "intersexuality" to apply to
Sec. 6. Expediting proceedings. – The court in which the proceedings is human beings who cannot be classified as either male or female.[22] The
brought may make orders expediting the proceedings, and may also grant term is now of widespread use. According to Wikipedia, intersexuality "is
preliminary injunction for the preservation of the rights of the parties the state of a living thing of a gonochoristic species whose sex
pending such proceedings. chromosomes, genitalia, and/or secondary sex characteristics are
determined to be neither exclusively male nor female. An organism with
Sec. 7. Order. – After hearing, the court may either dismiss the petition or intersex may have biological characteristics of both male and female
issue an order granting the cancellation or correction prayed for. In either sexes."
case, a certified copy of the judgment shall be served upon the civil registrar
concerned who shall annotate the same in his record. Intersex individuals are treated in different ways by different cultures. In
most societies, intersex individuals have been expected to conform to either
The OSG argues that the petition below is fatally defective for non- a male or female gender role.[23] Since the rise of modern medical science
compliance with Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court because in Western societies, some intersex people with ambiguous external
respondent’s petition did not implead the local civil registrar. Section 3, Rule genitalia have had their genitalia surgically modified to resemble either male
108 provides that the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any or female genitals.[24] More commonly, an intersex individual is considered
interest which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the as suffering from a "disorder" which is almost always recommended to be
proceedings. Likewise, the local civil registrar is required to be made a party treated, whether by surgery and/or by taking lifetime medication in order to
in a proceeding for the correction of name in the civil registry. He is an mold the individual as neatly as possible into the category of either male or
indispensable party without whom no final determination of the case can be female.
had.[12] Unless all possible indispensable parties were duly notified of the
proceedings, the same shall be considered as falling much too short of the In deciding this case, we consider the compassionate calls for recognition of
requirements of the rules.13 The corresponding petition should also the various degrees of intersex as variations which should not be subject to
implead as respondents the civil registrar and all other persons who may outright denial. "It has been suggested that there is some middle ground
have or may claim to have any interest that would be affected thereby.14 between the sexes, a ‘no-man’s land’ for those individuals who are neither
Respondent, however, invokes Section 6,[15] Rule 1 of the Rules of Court truly ‘male’ nor truly ‘female’."[25] The current state of Philippine statutes
which states that courts shall construe the Rules liberally to promote their apparently compels that a person be classified either as a male or as a
objectives of securing to the parties a just, speedy and inexpensive female, but this Court is not controlled by mere appearances when nature
disposition of the matters brought before it. We agree that there is itself fundamentally negates such rigid classification.
substantial compliance with Rule 108 when respondent furnished a copy of
the petition to the local civil registrar. In the instant case, if we determine respondent to be a female, then there is
no basis for a change in the birth certificate entry for gender. But if we
The determination of a person’s sex appearing in his birth certificate is a determine, based on medical testimony and scientific development showing
legal issue and the court must look to the statutes. In this connection, Article the respondent to be other than female, then a change in the
412 of the Civil Code provides:
subject’s birth certificate entry is in order.
ART. 412. No entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected without
a judicial order. Biologically, nature endowed respondent with a mixed (neither consistently
and categorically female nor consistently and categorically male)
Together with Article 376[16] of the Civil Code, this provision was amended composition. Respondent has female (XX) chromosomes. However,
by Republic Act No. 9048[17] in so far as clerical or typographical errors are respondent’s body system naturally produces high levels of male hormones
involved. The correction or change of such matters can now be made (androgen). As a result, respondent has ambiguous genitalia and the
through administrative proceedings and without the need for a judicial order. phenotypic features of a male.
In effect, Rep. Act No. 9048 removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
Page 7 of 13
Ultimately, we are of the view that where the person is biologically or
naturally intersex the determining factor in his gender classification would I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
be what the individual, like respondent, having reached the age of majority, consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
with good reason thinks of his/her sex. Respondent here thinks of himself Court’s Division.
as a male and considering that his body produces high levels of male
hormones (androgen) there is preponderant biological support for
considering him as being male. Sexual development in cases of intersex LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
persons makes the gender classification at birth inconclusive. It is at
maturity that the gender of such persons, like respondent, is fixed. Associate Justice

Respondent here has simply let nature take its course and has not taken Chairperson
unnatural steps to arrest or interfere with what he was born with. And
accordingly, he has already ordered his life to that of a male. Respondent CERTIFICATION
could have undergone treatment and taken steps, like taking lifelong
medication,[26] to force his body into the categorical mold of a female but Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division
he did not. He chose not to do so. Nature has instead taken its due course Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above
in respondent’s development to reveal more fully his male characteristics. Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to
the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
In the absence of a law on the matter, the Court will not dictate on
respondent concerning a matter so innately private as one’s sexuality and
lifestyle preferences, much less on whether or not to undergo medical REYNATO S. PUNO
treatment to reverse the male tendency due to CAH. The Court will not
consider respondent as having erred in not choosing to undergo treatment Chief Justice
in order to become or remain as a female. Neither will the Court force
respondent to undergo treatment and to take medication in order to fit the 15 SEC. 6. Construction.- These Rules shall be liberally construed in order
mold of a female, as society commonly currently knows this gender of the to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive
human species. Respondent is the one who has to live with his intersex disposition of every action and proceeding.
anatomy. To him belongs the human right to the pursuit of happiness and of
health. Thus, to him should belong the primordial choice of what courses of 16 Art. 376. No person can change his name or surname without judicial
action to take along the path of his sexual development and maturation. In authority.
the absence of evidence that respondent is an "incompetent"[27] and in the
absence of evidence to show that classifying respondent as a male will 17 An Act Authorizing the City or Municipal Civil Registrar or the Consul
harm other members of society who are equally entitled to protection under General to Correct a Clerical or Typographical Error in an Entry and/or
the law, the Court affirms as valid and justified the respondent’s position Change of First Name or Nickname in the Civil Registrar Without Need of a
and his personal judgment of being a male. Judicial Order, Amending for this Purpose Articles 376 and 412 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines. Approved, March 22, 2001.
In so ruling we do no more than give respect to (1) the diversity of nature;
and (2) how an individual deals with what nature has handed out. In other 18 Silverio v. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. 174689, October 19,
words, we respect respondent’s congenital condition and his mature 2007, 537 SCRA 373, 388.
decision to be a male. Life is already difficult for the ordinary person. We
cannot but respect how respondent deals with his unordinary state and thus
help make his life easier, considering the unique circumstances in this case. 21 (1) 5-alpha reductase deficiency; (2) androgen insensitivity syndrome;
(3) aphallia; (4) clitoromegaly; (5) congenital adrenal hyperplasia; (6)
As for respondent’s change of name under Rule 103, this Court has held gonadal dysgenesis (partial & complete); (7) hypospadias; (8) Kallmann
that a change of name is not a matter of right but of judicial discretion, to be syndrome; (9) Klinefelter syndrome; (10) micropenis; (11) mosaicism
exercised in the light of the reasons adduced and the consequences that involving sex chromosomes; (12) MRKH (mullerian agenesis; vaginal
will follow.[28] The trial court’s grant of respondent’s change of name from agenesis; congenital absence of vagina); (13) ovo-testes (formerly called
Jennifer to Jeff implies a change of a feminine name to a masculine name. "true hermaphroditism"); (14) partial androgen insensitivity syndrome; (15)
Considering the consequence that respondent’s change of name merely progestin induced virilization; (16) Swyer syndrome; (17) Turner syndrome.
recognizes his preferred gender, we find merit in respondent’s change of [Intersexuality <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersexual> (visited August 15,
name. Such a change will conform with the change of the entry in his birth 2008).]
certificate from female to male.
26 The goal of treatment is to return hormone levels to normal. This is done
WHEREFORE, the Republic’s petition is DENIED. The Decision dated by taking a form of cortisol (dexamethasone), fludrocortisone, or
January 12, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33 of Siniloan, hydrocortisone) every day. Additional doses of medicine are needed during
Laguna, is AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs. times of stress, such as severe illness or surgery.

SO ORDERED. xxxx

Parents of children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia should be aware of


LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING the side effects of steroid therapy. They should report signs of infection and
stress to their health care provider because increases in medication may be
Associate Justice required. In additional, steroid medications cannot be stopped suddenly, or
adrenal insufficiency will result.
WE CONCUR:
xxxx
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
The outcome is usually associated with good health, but short stature may
Associate Justice result even with treatment. Males have normal fertility. Females may have a
smaller opening of the vagina and lower fertility. Medication to treat this
DANTE O. TINGA disorder must be continued for life. (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
<http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/encyclopedia.html>.)
Associate Justice
27 The word "incompetent" includes persons suffering the penalty of civil
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. interdiction or who are hospitalized lepers, prodigals, deaf and dumb who
are unable to read and write, those who are of unsound mind, even though
Associate Justice they have lucid intervals, and persons not being of unsound mind, but by
reason of age, disease, weak mind, and other similar causes, cannot,
ARTURO D. BRION without outside aid, take care of themselves and manage their property,
becoming thereby an easy prey for deceit and exploitation. (See Sec. 2 of
Associate Justice Rule 92 of the Rules of Court)

ATTESTATION
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
Page 8 of 13
Corpuz v Sto Tomas applies as well to the benefit of the alien spouse. He claims that the RTC
ruling unduly stretched the doctrine in Orbecido by limiting the standing to
G.R. No. 186571 August 11, 2010 file the petition only to the Filipino spouse – an interpretation he claims to be
contrary to the essence of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family
GERBERT R. CORPUZ, Petitioner, Code. He considers himself as a proper party, vested with sufficient legal
vs. interest, to institute the case, as there is a possibility that he might be
DAISYLYN TIROL STO. TOMAS and The SOLICITOR GENERAL, prosecuted for bigamy if he marries his Filipina fiancée in the Philippines
Respondents. since two marriage certificates, involving him, would be on file with the Civil
Registry Office. The Office of the Solicitor General and Daisylyn, in their
DECISION respective Comments,14 both support Gerbert’s position.

BRION, J.: Essentially, the petition raises the issue of whether the second paragraph of
Article 26 of the Family Code extends to aliens the right to petition a court of
Before the Court is a direct appeal from the decision1 of the Regional Trial this jurisdiction for the recognition of a foreign divorce decree.
Court (RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 11, elevated via a petition for review on
certiorari2 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (present petition). THE COURT’S RULING

Petitioner Gerbert R. Corpuz was a former Filipino citizen who acquired The alien spouse can claim no right under the second paragraph of Article
Canadian citizenship through naturalization on November 29, 2000.3 On 26 of the Family Code as the substantive right it establishes is in favor of
January 18, 2005, Gerbert married respondent Daisylyn T. Sto. Tomas, a the Filipino spouse
Filipina, in Pasig City.4 Due to work and other professional commitments,
Gerbert left for Canada soon after the wedding. He returned to the The resolution of the issue requires a review of the legislative history and
Philippines sometime in April 2005 to surprise Daisylyn, but was shocked to intent behind the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code.
discover that his wife was having an affair with another man. Hurt and
disappointed, Gerbert returned to Canada and filed a petition for divorce. The Family Code recognizes only two types of defective marriages – void15
The Superior Court of Justice, Windsor, Ontario, Canada granted Gerbert’s and voidable16 marriages. In both cases, the basis for the judicial
petition for divorce on December 8, 2005. The divorce decree took effect a declaration of absolute nullity or annulment of the marriage exists before or
month later, on January 8, 2006.5 at the time of the marriage. Divorce, on the other hand, contemplates the
dissolution of the lawful union for cause arising after the marriage.17 Our
Two years after the divorce, Gerbert has moved on and has found another family laws do not recognize absolute divorce between Filipino citizens.18
Filipina to love. Desirous of marrying his new Filipina fiancée in the
Philippines, Gerbert went to the Pasig City Civil Registry Office and Recognizing the reality that divorce is a possibility in marriages between a
registered the Canadian divorce decree on his and Daisylyn’s marriage Filipino and an alien, President Corazon C. Aquino, in the exercise of her
certificate. Despite the registration of the divorce decree, an official of the legislative powers under the Freedom Constitution,19 enacted Executive
National Statistics Office (NSO) informed Gerbert that the marriage Order No. (EO) 227, amending Article 26 of the Family Code to its present
between him and Daisylyn still subsists under Philippine law; to be wording, as follows:
enforceable, the foreign divorce decree must first be judicially recognized by
a competent Philippine court, pursuant to NSO Circular No. 4, series of Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance
1982.6 with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid
there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited
Accordingly, Gerbert filed a petition for judicial recognition of foreign divorce under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
and/or declaration of marriage as dissolved (petition) with the RTC.
Although summoned, Daisylyn did not file any responsive pleading but Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly
submitted instead a notarized letter/manifestation to the trial court. She celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
offered no opposition to Gerbert’s petition and, in fact, alleged her desire to spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise
file a similar case herself but was prevented by financial and personal have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.
circumstances. She, thus, requested that she be considered as a party-in-
interest with a similar prayer to Gerbert’s. Through the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, EO 227
effectively incorporated into the law this Court’s holding in Van Dorn v.
In its October 30, 2008 decision,7 the RTC denied Gerbert’s petition. The Romillo, Jr.20 and Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera.21 In both cases, the Court
RTC concluded that Gerbert was not the proper party to institute the action refused to acknowledge the alien spouse’s assertion of marital rights after a
for judicial recognition of the foreign divorce decree as he is a naturalized foreign court’s divorce decree between the alien and the Filipino. The Court,
Canadian citizen. It ruled that only the Filipino spouse can avail of the thus, recognized that the foreign divorce had already severed the marital
remedy, under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,8 in bond between the spouses. The Court reasoned in Van Dorn v. Romillo
order for him or her to be able to remarry under Philippine law.9 Article 26 that:
of the Family Code reads:
To maintain x x x that, under our laws, [the Filipino spouse] has to be
Art. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines, in accordance considered still married to [the alien spouse] and still subject to a wife's
with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid obligations x x x cannot be just. [The Filipino spouse] should not be obliged
there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited to live together with, observe respect and fidelity, and render support to [the
under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38. alien spouse]. The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs with
possible rights to conjugal property. She should not be discriminated
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly against in her own country if the ends of justice are to be served.22
celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise As the RTC correctly stated, the provision was included in the law "to avoid
have capacity to remarry under Philippine law. the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien
spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino
This conclusion, the RTC stated, is consistent with the legislative intent spouse."23 The legislative intent is for the benefit of the Filipino spouse, by
behind the enactment of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family clarifying his or her marital status, settling the doubts created by the divorce
Code, as determined by the Court in Republic v. Orbecido III;10 the decree. Essentially, the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code
provision was enacted to "avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino provided the Filipino spouse a substantive right to have his or her marriage
spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after obtaining a divorce, to the alien spouse considered as dissolved, capacitating him or her to
is no longer married to the Filipino spouse."11 remarry.24 Without the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code,
the judicial recognition of the foreign decree of divorce, whether in a
THE PETITION proceeding instituted precisely for that purpose or as a related issue in
another proceeding, would be of no significance to the Filipino spouse since
From the RTC’s ruling,12 Gerbert filed the present petition.13 our laws do not recognize divorce as a mode of severing the marital
bond;25 Article 17 of the Civil Code provides that the policy against
Gerbert asserts that his petition before the RTC is essentially for declaratory absolute divorces cannot be subverted by judgments promulgated in a
relief, similar to that filed in Orbecido; he, thus, similarly asks for a foreign country. The inclusion of the second paragraph in Article 26 of the
determination of his rights under the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides the direct exception to this rule and serves as basis
Family Code. Taking into account the rationale behind the second for recognizing the dissolution of the marriage between the Filipino spouse
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, he contends that the provision and his or her alien spouse.
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
Page 9 of 13
case to the RTC to determine whether the divorce decree is consistent with
Additionally, an action based on the second paragraph of Article 26 of the the Canadian divorce law.
Family Code is not limited to the recognition of the foreign divorce decree. If
the court finds that the decree capacitated the alien spouse to remarry, the We deem it more appropriate to take this latter course of action, given the
courts can declare that the Filipino spouse is likewise capacitated to Article 26 interests that will be served and the Filipina wife’s (Daisylyn’s)
contract another marriage. No court in this jurisdiction, however, can make obvious conformity with the petition. A remand, at the same time, will allow
a similar declaration for the alien spouse (other than that already other interested parties to oppose the foreign judgment and overcome a
established by the decree), whose status and legal capacity are generally petitioner’s presumptive evidence of a right by proving want of jurisdiction,
governed by his national law.26 want of notice to a party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
Needless to state, every precaution must be taken to ensure conformity with
Given the rationale and intent behind the enactment, and the purpose of the our laws before a recognition is made, as the foreign judgment, once
second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, the RTC was correct in recognized, shall have the effect of res judicata32 between the parties, as
limiting the applicability of the provision for the benefit of the Filipino provided in Section 48, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.33
spouse. In other words, only the Filipino spouse can invoke the second
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code; the alien spouse can claim no In fact, more than the principle of comity that is served by the practice of
right under this provision. reciprocal recognition of foreign judgments between nations, the res
judicata effect of the foreign judgments of divorce serves as the deeper
The foreign divorce decree is presumptive evidence of a right that clothes basis for extending judicial recognition and for considering the alien spouse
the party with legal interest to petition for its recognition in this jurisdiction bound by its terms. This same effect, as discussed above, will not obtain for
the Filipino spouse were it not for the substantive rule that the second
We qualify our above conclusion – i.e., that the second paragraph of Article paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code provides.
26 of the Family Code bestows no rights in favor of aliens – with the
complementary statement that this conclusion is not sufficient basis to Considerations beyond the recognition of the foreign divorce decree
dismiss Gerbert’s petition before the RTC. In other words, the unavailability
of the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code to aliens does not As a matter of "housekeeping" concern, we note that the Pasig City Civil
necessarily strip Gerbert of legal interest to petition the RTC for the Registry Office has already recorded the divorce decree on Gerbert and
recognition of his foreign divorce decree. The foreign divorce decree itself, Daisylyn’s marriage certificate based on the mere presentation of the
after its authenticity and conformity with the alien’s national law have been decree.34 We consider the recording to be legally improper; hence, the
duly proven according to our rules of evidence, serves as a presumptive need to draw attention of the bench and the bar to what had been done.
evidence of right in favor of Gerbert, pursuant to Section 48, Rule 39 of the
Rules of Court which provides for the effect of foreign judgments. This Article 407 of the Civil Code states that "[a]cts, events and judicial decrees
Section states: concerning the civil status of persons shall be recorded in the civil register."
The law requires the entry in the civil registry of judicial decrees that
SEC. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders.—The effect of a produce legal consequences touching upon a person’s legal capacity and
judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having jurisdiction status, i.e., those affecting "all his personal qualities and relations, more or
to render the judgment or final order is as follows: less permanent in nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as
his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not."35
(a) In case of a judgment or final order upon a specific thing, the judgment
or final order is conclusive upon the title of the thing; and A judgment of divorce is a judicial decree, although a foreign one, affecting
a person’s legal capacity and status that must be recorded. In fact, Act No.
(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or 3753 or the Law on Registry of Civil Status specifically requires the
final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties and registration of divorce decrees in the civil registry:
their successors in interest by a subsequent title.
Sec. 1. Civil Register. – A civil register is established for recording the civil
In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a status of persons, in which shall be entered:
want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear
mistake of law or fact. (a) births;

To our mind, direct involvement or being the subject of the foreign judgment (b) deaths;
is sufficient to clothe a party with the requisite interest to institute an action
before our courts for the recognition of the foreign judgment. In a divorce (c) marriages;
situation, we have declared, no less, that the divorce obtained by an alien
abroad may be recognized in the Philippines, provided the divorce is valid (d) annulments of marriages;
according to his or her national law.27
(e) divorces;
The starting point in any recognition of a foreign divorce judgment is the
acknowledgment that our courts do not take judicial notice of foreign (f) legitimations;
judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that, as a rule, "no
sovereign is bound to give effect within its dominion to a judgment rendered (g) adoptions;
by a tribunal of another country."28 This means that the foreign judgment
and its authenticity must be proven as facts under our rules on evidence, (h) acknowledgment of natural children;
together with the alien’s applicable national law to show the effect of the
judgment on the alien himself or herself.29 The recognition may be made in (i) naturalization; and
an action instituted specifically for the purpose or in another action where a
party invokes the foreign decree as an integral aspect of his claim or (j) changes of name.
defense.
xxxx
In Gerbert’s case, since both the foreign divorce decree and the national
law of the alien, recognizing his or her capacity to obtain a divorce, purport Sec. 4. Civil Register Books. — The local registrars shall keep and preserve
to be official acts of a sovereign authority, Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules in their offices the following books, in which they shall, respectively make
of Court comes into play. This Section requires proof, either by (1) official the proper entries concerning the civil status of persons:
publications or (2) copies attested by the officer having legal custody of the
documents. If the copies of official records are not kept in the Philippines, (1) Birth and death register;
these must be (a) accompanied by a certificate issued by the proper
diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine foreign service stationed in (2) Marriage register, in which shall be entered not only the marriages
the foreign country in which the record is kept and (b) authenticated by the solemnized but also divorces and dissolved marriages.
seal of his office.
(3) Legitimation, acknowledgment, adoption, change of name and
The records show that Gerbert attached to his petition a copy of the divorce naturalization register.
decree, as well as the required certificates proving its authenticity,30 but
failed to include a copy of the Canadian law on divorce.31 Under this But while the law requires the entry of the divorce decree in the civil
situation, we can, at this point, simply dismiss the petition for insufficiency of registry, the law and the submission of the decree by themselves do not
supporting evidence, unless we deem it more appropriate to remand the ipso facto authorize the decree’s registration. The law should be read in
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
Page 10 of 13
relation with the requirement of a judicial recognition of the foreign judgment
before it can be given res judicata effect. In the context of the present case, Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997
no judicial order as yet exists recognizing the foreign divorce decree. Thus, Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the September 4, 2012
the Pasig City Civil Registry Office acted totally out of turn and without Decision2 and October 16, 2012 Order3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
authority of law when it annotated the Canadian divorce decree on Gerbert Branch 43, of Manila in Civil Case No. 11-126203. The RTC denied the
and Daisylyn’s marriage certificate, on the strength alone of the foreign petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage of petitioner Yasuo Iwasawa
decree presented by Gerbert. with private respondent Felisa Custodio Gangan due to insufficient
evidence.
Evidently, the Pasig City Civil Registry Office was aware of the requirement
of a court recognition, as it cited NSO Circular No. 4, series of 1982,36 and The antecedents follow:
Department of Justice Opinion No. 181, series of 198237 – both of which
required a final order from a competent Philippine court before a foreign Petitioner, a Japanese national, met private respondent sometime in 2002
judgment, dissolving a marriage, can be registered in the civil registry, but it, in one of his visits to the Philippines. Private respondent introduced herself
nonetheless, allowed the registration of the decree. For being contrary to as "single" and "has never married before." Since then, the two became
law, the registration of the foreign divorce decree without the requisite close to each other. Later that year, petitioner came back to the Philippines
judicial recognition is patently void and cannot produce any legal and married private respondent on November 28, 2002 in Pasay City. After
effect.1avvphi1 the wedding, the couple resided in Japan.4

Another point we wish to draw attention to is that the recognition that the In July 2009, petitioner noticed his wife become depressed. Suspecting that
RTC may extend to the Canadian divorce decree does not, by itself, something might have happened in the Philippines, he confronted his wife
authorize the cancellation of the entry in the civil registry. A petition for about it. To his shock, private respondent confessed to him that she
recognition of a foreign judgment is not the proper proceeding, received news that her previous husband passed away.5
contemplated under the Rules of Court, for the cancellation of entries in the
civil registry. Petitioner sought to confirm the truth of his wife’s confession and
discovered that indeed, she was married to one Raymond Maglonzo
Article 412 of the Civil Code declares that "no entry in a civil register shall Arambulo and that their marriage took place on June 20, 1994.6 This
be changed or corrected, without judicial order." The Rules of Court prompted petitioner to file a petition7 for the declaration of his marriage to
supplements Article 412 of the Civil Code by specifically providing for a private respondent as null and void on the ground that their marriage is a
special remedial proceeding by which entries in the civil registry may be bigamous one, based on Article 35(4) in relation to Article 41 of the Family
judicially cancelled or corrected. Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets in Code of the Philippines.
detail the jurisdictional and procedural requirements that must be complied
with before a judgment, authorizing the cancellation or correction, may be During trial, aside from his testimony, petitioner also offered the following
annotated in the civil registry. It also requires, among others, that the pieces of documentary evidence issued by the National Statistics Office
verified petition must be filed with the RTC of the province where the (NSO):
corresponding civil registry is located;38 that the civil registrar and all
persons who have or claim any interest must be made parties to the (1)
proceedings;39 and that the time and place for hearing must be published
in a newspaper of general circulation.40 As these basic jurisdictional Certificate of Marriage8 between petitioner and private respondent marked
requirements have not been met in the present case, we cannot consider as Exhibit "A" to prove the fact of marriage between the parties on
the petition Gerbert filed with the RTC as one filed under Rule 108 of the November 28, 2002;
Rules of Court.
(2)
We hasten to point out, however, that this ruling should not be construed as
requiring two separate proceedings for the registration of a foreign divorce Certificate of Marriage9 between private respondent and Raymond
decree in the civil registry – one for recognition of the foreign decree and Maglonzo Arambulo marked as Exhibit "B" to prove the fact of marriage
another specifically for cancellation of the entry under Rule 108 of the Rules between the parties on June 20, 1994;
of Court. The recognition of the foreign divorce decree may be made in a
Rule 108 proceeding itself, as the object of special proceedings (such as (3)
that in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court) is precisely to establish the status or
right of a party or a particular fact. Moreover, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court Certificate of Death10 of Raymond Maglonzo Arambulo marked as Exhibits
can serve as the appropriate adversarial proceeding41 by which the "C" and "C-1" to prove the fact of the latter’s death on July 14, 2009; and
applicability of the foreign judgment can be measured and tested in terms of
jurisdictional infirmities, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear (4)
mistake of law or fact.
Certification11 from the NSO to the effect that there are two entries of
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition for review on certiorari, and marriage recorded by the office pertaining to private respondent marked as
REVERSE the October 30, 2008 decision of the Regional Trial Court of Exhibit "D" to prove that private respondent in fact contracted two
Laoag City, Branch 11, as well as its February 17, 2009 order. We order the marriages, the first one was to a Raymond Maglonzo Arambulo on June 20,
REMAND of the case to the trial court for further proceedings in accordance 1994, and second, to petitioner on November 28, 2002.
with our ruling above. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Civil
Registrar General. No costs. The prosecutor appearing on behalf of the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG) admitted the authenticity and due execution of the above
SO ORDERED. documentary exhibits during pre-trial.12

When the entry sought to be corrected is substantial (i.e., the civil status of On September 4, 2012, the RTC rendered the assailed decision. It ruled
a person), a Rule 108 proceeding is deemed adversarial in nature. See Co that there was insufficient evidence to prove private respondent’s prior
v. Civil Register of Manila, G.R. No. 138496, February 23, 2004, 423 SCRA existing valid marriage to another man. It held that while petitioner offered
420, 430. the certificate of marriage of private respondent to Arambulo, it was only
petitioner who testified about said marriage. The RTC ruled that petitioner’s
Iwasawa v Gangan testimony is unreliable because he has no personal knowledge of private
respondent’s prior marriage nor of Arambulo’s death which makes him a
G.R. No. 204169 September 11, 2013 complete stranger to the marriage certificate between private respondent
and Arambulo and the latter’s death certificate. It further ruled that
YASUO IWASAWA, PETITIONER, petitioner’s testimony about the NSO certification is likewise unreliable since
vs. he is a stranger to the preparation of said document.
FELISA CUSTODIO GANGAN1 (A.K.A FELISA GANGAN ARAMBULO,
AND FELISA GANGAN IWASAWA) AND THE LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the same was denied by
OF PASAY CITY, RESPONDENTS. the RTC in an Order dated October 16, 2012.

DECISION Hence this petition raising the sole legal issue of whether the testimony of
the NSO records custodian certifying the authenticity and due execution of
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: the public documents issued by said office was necessary before they could
be accorded evidentiary weight.
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
Page 11 of 13
The Local Civil Registrar of Pasay City and the National Statistics Office are
Petitioner argues that the documentary evidence he presented are public hereby ORDERED to make proper entries into the records of the
documents which are considered self-authenticating and thus it was abovementioned parties in accordance with this Decision.
unnecessary to call the NSO Records Custodian as witness. He cites Article
410 of the Civil Code which provides that books making up the civil register No pronouncement as to costs.
and all documents relating thereto shall be considered public documents
and shall be prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. Moreover, the SO ORDERED.
trial prosecutor himself also admitted the authenticity of said documents.
Republic v Olaybar
The OSG, in its Comment,13 submits that the findings of the RTC are not in
accord with law and established jurisprudence. It contends that both G.R. No. 189538 February 10, 2014
Republic Act No. 3753, otherwise known as the Law on Registry of Civil
Status, and the Civil Code elaborated on the character of documents arising REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
from records and entries made by the civil registrar and categorically vs.
declared them as public documents. Being public documents, said MERLINDA L. OLAYBAR, Respondent.
documents are admissible in evidence even without further proof of their
due execution and genuineness and consequently, there was no need for DECISION
the court to require petitioner to present the records custodian or officer
from the NSO to testify on them. The OSG further contends that public PERALTA, J.:
documents have probative value since they are prima facie evidence of the
facts stated therein as provided in the above-quoted provision of the Civil Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Code. Thus, the OSG submits that the public documents presented by Court are the Regional Trial Court1 (RTC) Decision2 dated May 5, 2009
petitioner, considered together, completely establish the facts in issue. and Order3 dated August 25, 2009 in SP. Proc. No. 16519-CEB. The
assailed decision granted respondent Merlinda L. Olaybar's petition for
In her letter14 dated March 19, 2013 to this Court, private respondent cancellation of entries in the latter's marriage contract; while the assailed
indicated that she is not against her husband’s petition to have their order denied the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Republic of
marriage declared null and void. She likewise admitted therein that she the Philippines through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
contracted marriage with Arambulo on June 20, 1994 and contracted a
second marriage with petitioner on November 28, 2002. She further The facts of the case are as follows:
admitted that it was due to poverty and joblessness that she married
petitioner without telling the latter that she was previously married. Private Respondent requested from the National Statistics Office (NSO) a
respondent also confirmed that it was when she found out that Arambulo Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) as one of the requirements for her
passed away on July 14, 2009 that she had the guts to confess to petitioner marriage with her boyfriend of five years. Upon receipt thereof, she
about her previous marriage. Thereafter, she and petitioner have separated. discovered that she was already married to a certain Ye Son Sune, a
Korean National, on June 24, 2002, at the Office of the Municipal Trial Court
We grant the petition. in Cities (MTCC), Palace of Justice. She denied having contracted said
marriage and claimed that she did not know the alleged husband; she did
There is no question that the documentary evidence submitted by petitioner not appear before the solemnizing officer; and, that the signature appearing
are all public documents.1âwphi1 As provided in the Civil Code: in the marriage certificate is not hers.4 She, thus, filed a Petition for
Cancellation of Entries in the Marriage Contract, especially the entries in the
ART. 410. The books making up the civil register and all documents relating wife portion thereof.5 Respondent impleaded the Local Civil Registrar of
thereto shall be considered public documents and shall be prima facie Cebu City, as well as her alleged husband, as parties to the case.
evidence of the facts therein contained.
During trial, respondent testified on her behalf and explained that she could
As public documents, they are admissible in evidence even without further not have appeared before Judge Mamerto Califlores, the supposed
proof of their due execution and genuineness.15 Thus, the RTC erred when solemnizing officer, at the time the marriage was allegedly celebrated,
it disregarded said documents on the sole ground that the petitioner did not because she was then in Makati working as a medical distributor in Hansao
present the records custodian of the NSO who issued them to testify on Pharma. She completely denied having known the supposed husband, but
their authenticity and due execution since proof of authenticity and due she revealed that she recognized the named witnesses to the marriage as
execution was not anymore necessary. Moreover, not only are said she had met them while she was working as a receptionist in Tadels
documents admissible, they deserve to be given evidentiary weight Pension House. She believed that her name was used by a certain Johnny
because they constitute prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. Singh, who owned a travel agency, whom she gave her personal
And in the instant case, the facts stated therein remain unrebutted since circumstances in order for her to obtain a passport.6 Respondent also
neither the private respondent nor the public prosecutor presented evidence presented as witness a certain Eufrocina Natinga, an employee of MTCC,
to the contrary. Branch 1, who confirmed that the marriage of Ye Son Sune was indeed
celebrated in their office, but claimed that the alleged wife who appeared
This Court has consistently held that a judicial declaration of nullity is was definitely not respondent.7 Lastly, a document examiner testified that
required before a valid subsequent marriage can be contracted; or else, the signature appearing in the marriage contract was forged.8
what transpires is a bigamous marriage,16 which is void from the beginning
as provided in Article 35(4) of the Family Code of the Philippines. And this is On May 5, 2009, the RTC rendered the assailed Decision, the dispositive
what transpired in the instant case. portion of which reads:

As correctly pointed out by the OSG, the documentary exhibits taken WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, the petition is granted in favor
together concretely establish the nullity of the marriage of petitioner to of the petitioner, Merlinda L. Olaybar. The Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City
private respondent on the ground that their marriage is bigamous. The is directed to cancel all the entries in the WIFE portion of the alleged
exhibits directly prove the following facts: (1) that private respondent marriage contract of the petitioner and respondent Ye Son Sune.
married Arambulo on June 20, 1994 in the City of Manila; (2) that private
respondent contracted a second marriage this time with petitioner on SO ORDERED.9
November 28, 2002 in Pasay City; (3) that there was no judicial declaration
of nullity of the marriage of private respondent with Arambulo at the time Finding that the signature appearing in the subject marriage contract was
she married petitioner; (3) that Arambulo died on July 14, 2009 and that it not that of respondent, the court found basis in granting the latter’s prayer to
was only on said date that private respondent’s marriage with Arambulo straighten her record and rectify the terrible mistake.10
was deemed to have been dissolved; and (4) that the second marriage of
private respondent to petitioner is bigamous, hence null and void, since the Petitioner, however, moved for the reconsideration of the assailed Decision
first marriage was still valid and subsisting when the second marriage was on the grounds that: (1) there was no clerical spelling, typographical and
contracted. other innocuous errors in the marriage contract for it to fall within the
provisions of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court; and (2) granting the
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The cancellation of all the entries in the wife portion of the alleged marriage
September 4, 2012 Decision and October 16, 2012 Order of the Regional contract is, in effect, declaring the marriage void ab initio.11
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 43, in Civil Case No. 11-126203 are hereby
SET ASIDE. The marriage of petitioner Yasuo Iwasawa and private In an Order dated August 25, 2009, the RTC denied petitioner’s motion for
respondent Felisa Custodio Gangan is declared NULL and VOID. reconsideration couched in this wise:
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
Page 12 of 13
WHEREFORE, the court hereby denies the Motion for Reconsideration filed
by the Republic of the Philippines. Furnish copies of this order to the Office SEC. 5. Opposition. – The civil registrar and any person having or claiming
of the Solicitor General, the petitioner’s counsel, and all concerned any interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may,
government agencies. within fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of
publication of such notice, file his opposition thereto.
SO ORDERED.12
SEC. 6. Expediting proceedings. – The court in which the proceedings is
Contrary to petitioner’s stand, the RTC held that it had jurisdiction to take brought may make orders expediting the proceedings, and may also grant
cognizance of cases for correction of entries even on substantial errors preliminary injunction for the preservation of the rights of the parties
under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court being the appropriate adversary pending such proceedings.
proceeding required. Considering that respondent’s identity was used by an
unknown person to contract marriage with a Korean national, it would not SEC. 7. Order. – After hearing, the court may either dismiss the petition or
be feasible for respondent to institute an action for declaration of nullity of issue an order granting the cancellation or correction prayed for. In either
marriage since it is not one of the void marriages under Articles 35 and 36 case, a certified copy of the judgment shall be served upon the civil registrar
of the Family Code.13 concerned who shall annotate the same in his record.

Petitioner now comes before the Court in this Petition for Review on Rule 108 of the Rules of Court provides the procedure for cancellation or
Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal of the correction of entries in the civil registry. The proceedings may either be
assailed RTC Decision and Order based on the following grounds: summary or adversary. If the correction is clerical, then the procedure to be
adopted is summary. If the rectification affects the civil status, citizenship or
I. nationality of a party, it is deemed substantial, and the procedure to be
adopted is adversary. Since the promulgation of Republic v. Valencia19 in
RULE 108 OF THE REVISED RULES OF COURT APPLIES ONLY WHEN 1986, the Court has repeatedly ruled that "even substantial errors in a civil
THERE ARE ERRORS IN THE ENTRIES SOUGHT TO BE CANCELLED registry may be corrected through a petition filed under Rule 108, with the
OR CORRECTED. true facts established and the parties aggrieved by the error availing
themselves of the appropriate adversarial proceeding."20 An appropriate
II. adversary suit or proceeding is one where the trial court has conducted
proceedings where all relevant facts have been fully and properly
GRANTING THE CANCELLATION OF "ALL THE ENTRIES IN THE WIFE developed, where opposing counsel have been given opportunity to
PORTION OF THE ALLEGED MARRIAGE CONTRACT," IS IN EFFECT demolish the opposite party’s case, and where the evidence has been
DECLARING THE MARRIAGE VOID AB INITIO.14 thoroughly weighed and considered.21

Petitioner claims that there are no errors in the entries sought to be It is true that in special proceedings, formal pleadings and a hearing may be
cancelled or corrected, because the entries made in the certificate of dispensed with, and the remedy [is] granted upon mere application or
marriage are the ones provided by the person who appeared and motion. However, a special proceeding is not always summary. The
represented herself as Merlinda L. Olaybar and are, in fact, the latter’s procedure laid down in Rule 108 is not a summary proceeding per se. It
personal circumstances.15 In directing the cancellation of the entries in the requires publication of the petition; it mandates the inclusion as parties of all
wife portion of the certificate of marriage, the RTC, in effect, declared the persons who may claim interest which would be affected by the cancellation
marriage null and void ab initio.16 Thus, the petition instituted by or correction; it also requires the civil registrar and any person in interest to
respondent is actually a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage in the file their opposition, if any; and it states that although the court may make
guise of a Rule 108 proceeding.17 orders expediting the proceedings, it is after hearing that the court shall
either dismiss the petition or issue an order granting the same. Thus, as
We deny the petition. long as the procedural requirements in Rule 108 are followed, it is the
appropriate adversary proceeding to effect substantial corrections and
At the outset, it is necessary to stress that a direct recourse to this Court changes in entries of the civil register.22
from the decisions and final orders of the RTC may be taken where only
questions of law are raised or involved. There is a question of law when the In this case, the entries made in the wife portion of the certificate of
doubt arises as to what the law is on a certain state of facts, which does not marriage are admittedly the personal circumstances of respondent. The
call for the examination of the probative value of the evidence of the latter, however, claims that her signature was forged and she was not the
parties.18 Here, the issue raised by petitioner is whether or not the one who contracted marriage with the purported husband. In other words,
cancellation of entries in the marriage contract which, in effect, nullifies the she claims that no such marriage was entered into or if there was, she was
marriage may be undertaken in a Rule 108 proceeding. Verily, petitioner not the one who entered into such contract. It must be recalled that when
raised a pure question of law. respondent tried to obtain a CENOMAR from the NSO, it appeared that she
was married to a certain Ye Son Sune. She then sought the cancellation of
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court sets forth the rules on cancellation or entries in the wife portion of the marriage certificate.
correction of entries in the civil registry, to wit:
In filing the petition for correction of entry under Rule 108, respondent made
SEC. 1. Who may file petition. – Any person interested in any act, event, the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City, as well as her alleged husband Ye
order or decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been Son Sune, as parties-respondents. It is likewise undisputed that the
recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation procedural requirements set forth in Rule 108 were complied with. The
or correction of any entry relating thereto, with the Regional Trial Court of Office of the Solicitor General was likewise notified of the petition which in
the province where the corresponding civil registry is located. turn authorized the Office of the City Prosecutor to participate in the
proceedings. More importantly, trial was conducted where respondent
SEC. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or correction. – Upon good and valid herself, the stenographer of the court where the alleged marriage was
grounds, the following entries in the civil register may be cancelled or conducted, as well as a document examiner, testified. Several documents
corrected: (a) births; (b) marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations; (e) were also considered as evidence. With the testimonies and other evidence
judgments of annulments of marriage; (f) judgments declaring marriages presented, the trial court found that the signature appearing in the subject
void from the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) adoptions; (i) marriage certificate was different from respondent’s signature appearing in
acknowledgments of natural children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss or some of her government issued identification cards.23 The court thus made
recovery of citizenship; (l) civil interdiction; (m) judicial determination of a categorical conclusion that respondent’s signature in the marriage
filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (o) changes of name. certificate was not hers and, therefore, was forged. Clearly, it was
established that, as she claimed in her petition, no such marriage was
SEC. 3. Parties. – When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil celebrated.
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 Indeed the Court made a pronouncement in the recent case of Minoru Fujiki
proceeding. v. Maria Paz Galela Marinay, Shinichi Maekara, Local Civil Registrar of
Quezon City, and the Administrator and Civil Registrar General of the
SEC. 4. Notice and Publication. – Upon the filing of the petition, the court National Statistics Office24 that:
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 To be sure, a petition for correction or cancellation of an entry in the civil
petition. The court shall also cause the order to be published once a week registry cannot substitute for an action to invalidate a marriage. A direct
for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the action is necessary to prevent circumvention of the substantive and
province. procedural safeguards of marriage under the Family Code, A.M. No. 02-11-
Persons and Family Relations Jurisprudence/full text
Family Code Art 407-413 Civil Register
Page 13 of 13
10-SC and other related laws. Among these safeguards are the requirement
of proving the limited grounds for the dissolution of marriage, support
pendente lite of the spouses and children, the liquidation, partition and
distribution of the properties of the spouses and the investigation of the
public prosecutor to determine collusion. A direct action for declaration of
nullity or annulment of marriage is also necessary to prevent circumvention
of the jurisdiction of the Family Courts under the Family Courts Act of 1997
(Republic Act No. 8369), as a petition for cancellation or correction of
entries in the civil registry may be filed in the Regional Trial Court where the
corresponding civil registry is located. In other words, a Filipino citizen
cannot dissolve his marriage by the mere expedient of changing his entry of
marriage in the civil registry.

Aside from the certificate of marriage, no such evidence was presented to


show the existence of marriage.1âwphi1 Rather, respondent showed by
overwhelming evidence that no marriage was entered into and that she was
not even aware of such existence. The testimonial and documentary
evidence clearly established that the only "evidence" of marriage which is
the marriage certificate was a forgery. While we maintain that Rule 108
cannot be availed of to determine the validity of marriage, we cannot nullify
the proceedings before the trial court where all the parties had been given
the opportunity to contest the allegations of respondent; the procedures
were followed, and all the evidence of the parties had already been
admitted and examined. Respondent indeed sought, not the nullification of
marriage as there was no marriage to speak of, but the correction of the
record of such marriage to reflect the truth as set forth by the evidence.
Otherwise stated, in allowing the correction of the subject certificate of
marriage by cancelling the wife portion thereof, the trial court did not, in any
way, declare the marriage void as there was no marriage to speak of.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of


merit. The Regional Trial Court Decision dated May 5, 2009 and Order
dated August 25, 2009 in SP. Proc. No. 16519-CEB, are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.