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Lee vs.

Court of Appeals, 367 SCRA 110 , October 11, 2001


Case Title : MARCELO LEE, ALBINA LEE-YOUNG, MARIANO LEE, PABLO LEE,
HELEN LEE, CATALINO K. LEE, EUSEBIO LEE, EMMA LEE, and TIU CHUAN,
petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and HON. LORENZO B. VENERACION and
HON. JAIME T. HAMOY, in their capacities as Presiding Judge of Branch 47,
Regional Trial Court of Manila and Branch 130, Regional Trial Court of
Kalookan City, respectively and RITA K. LEE, LEONCIO LEE TEK SHENG in
their personal capacities and ROSA K. LEE-VANDERLEK, MELODY K. LEECHIN, LUCIA K. LEE TEK SHENG, JULIAN K. LEE, HENRY K. LEE, MARTIN K.
LEE, VICTORIANO K. LEE, NATIVIDAD K. LEE-MIGUEL, and THOMAS K. LEE,
represented by RITA K. LEE, respondents.Case Nature : PETITION for
review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals.
Syllabi Class : Special Proceedings|Actions|Civil Register|Pleadings and
Practice|Judgments|Words and Phrases|Actions|Prescription|Land Titles|
Forum Shopping
Syllabi:
1. Special Proceedings; Civil Register; It is precisely the province of a
special proceeding such as the one outlined under Rule 108 of the Revised
Rules of Court to establish the status or right of a party, or a particular fact.

+
2. Special Proceedings; Civil Register; The ruling in Labayo-Rowe v.
Republic, 168 SCRA 294 (1988), does not exclude recourse to Rule 108 of
the Revised Rules of Court to effect substantial changes or corrections in
entries of the civil register, the only requisite being that the proceedings
under Rule 108 be an appropriate adversary proceeding as contradistinguished from a summary proceeding.+
3. Special Proceedings; Civil Register; Pleadings and Practice; It is
true that in special proceedings formal pleadings and a hearing may be
dispensed with, and the remedy granted upon mere application or motion,
but this is not always the case, as when the statute expressly provides; Rule
108, when all the procedural requirements thereunder are followed, is the
appropriate adversary proceeding to effect substantial corrections and
changes in entries of the civil register.+
4. Special Proceedings; Civil Register; Judgments; It is high time that
the Court puts an end to the confusion sown by pronouncements seemingly
in conflict with each other, and perhaps, in the process, stem the continuing
influx of cases raising the same substantial issue; The pronouncements in Ty
Kong Tin v. Republic, 94 Phil. 321 (1954), and Chua Wee v. Republic, 38
SCRA 409 (1971), proceed from a wrong premise, that is, the interpretation
that Article 412 of the New Civil Code pertains only to clerical errors of a
harmless or innocuous nature, effectively excluding from its domain, and the

scope of its implementing rule, substantial changes that may affect


nationality, status, filiation and the like.+
5. Special Proceedings; Civil Register; Words and Phrases; In its
ordinary sense, to correct means to make or set right, to remove the
faults or errors from while to change means to replace something with
something else of the same kind or with something that serves as a
substitute.+
6. Special Proceedings; Civil Register; Judgments; The Ty Kong Tin
pronouncement that Article 412 does not contemplate matters that may
affect civil status, nationality or citizenship is erroneous. +
7. Special Proceedings; Civil Register; Statutes, Republic Act (R.A.)
9048; The obvious effect of R.A. 9048 providing that clerical or
typographical errors in entries of the civil register are now to be corrected
and changed without need of a judicial order and by the city or municipal
civil registrar or consul general is to remove from the ambit of Rule 108 the
correction or changing of such errors in entries of the civil register, leaving
for the scope of operation of Rule 108 substantial changes and corrections in
entries of the civil register.+
8. Special Proceedings; Civil Register; The Court admits that though it
has constantly referred to an appropriate adversary proceeding, it has failed
to categorically state just what that procedure is. R.A. 9048 now embodies
that summary procedure while Rule 108 is that appropriate adversary
proceeding.+
9. Special Proceedings; Civil
Register; Actions; Prescription; Inasmuch as no law or rule specifically
prescribes a fixed time for filing the special proceeding under Rule 108 in
relation to Article 412 of the New Civil Code, it is Article 1149 of the New
Civil Code which applies, in that the action must be brought within five years
from the time the right of action accrues.+
10. Special Proceedings; Civil Register; Actions; Prescription; In
petitions for cancellation and/or correction of entries in the records of birth
arising from the falsification of the entries, the petitioners right tiff action or
right to sue accrued only upon their discovery that they in fact had a cause
of action.+
11. Special Proceedings; Civil Register; Actions; Prescription; Land
Titles; Unlike a title to a parcel of land, a persons parentage cannot be
acquired by prescriptionone is either born of a particular mother or not. +
12. Actions; Pleadings and Practice; Forum Shopping; Words and
Phrases; Forum shopping is present when in the two or more cases pending
there is identity of parties, rights or causes of action and reliefs sought. +

G.R. No. 118387

October 11, 2001

MARCELO LEE, ALBINA LEE-YOUNG, MARIANO LEE, PABLO LEE, HELEN LEE, CATALINO K.
LEE, EUSEBIO LEE, EMMA LEE, and TIU CHUAN, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and HON. LORENZO B. VENERACION and HON. JAIME T. HAMOY, in
their capacities as Presiding Judge of Branch 47, Regional Trial Court of Manila and Branch
130, Regional Trial Court of Kalookan City, respectively and RITA K. LEE, LEONCIO LEE TEK
SHENG in their personal capacities and ROSA K. LEE-VANDERLEK, MELODY K. LEE-CHIN,
LUCIA K. LEE TEK SHENG, JULIAN K. LEE, HENRY K. LEE, MARTIN K. LEE, VICTORIANO K.
LEE, NATIVIDAD K. LEE-MIGUEL, and THOMAS K. LEE, represented by RITA K.
LEE, respondents.
DE LEON, JR., J.:
This Petition for Review on Certiorari, with Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order
and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction, seeks the reversal of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals
dated October 28, 1994 in CA-G.R. SP NO. 317862 . The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals
upheld the Orders issued by respondents Judges Hon. Lorenzo B. Veneracion 3 and Hon. Jaime T.
Hamoy4 taking cognizance of two (2) separate petitions filed by private respondents before their
respective salas for the cancellation and/or correction of entries in the records of birth of petitioners
pursuant to Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court.
This is a story of two (2) sets of children sired by one and the same man but begotten of two (2)
different mothers. One set, the private respondents herein, are the children of Lee Tek Sheng and
his lawful wife, Keh Shiok Cheng. The other set, the petitioners herein, are allegedly children of Lee
Tek Sheng and his concubine, Tiu Chuan.
Rita K. Lee, Leoncio Lee Tek Sheng, Rosa K. Lee-Vanderlek, Melody K. Lee-Chin, Lucia K. Lee Tek
Sheng-Ong, Julian K. Lee, Henry K. Lee, Martin K. Lee, Victoriano K. Lee, Natividad K. Lee-Miguel
and Thomas K. Lee (hereinafter referred to as private respondents) filed two (2) separate petitions
for the cancellation and/or correction of entries in the records of birth of Marcelo Lee, Albina LeeYoung, Mariano Lee, Pablo Lee, Helen Lee, Catalino K. Lee, Eusebio Lee, and Emma Lee
(hereinafter referred to as petitioners). On December 2, 1992, the petition against all petitioners, with
the exception of Emma Lee, was filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila and docketed
as SP. PROC. NO. 92-636925 and later assigned to Branch 47 presided over by respondent Judge
Lorenzo B. Veneracion. On February 3, 1993, a similar petition against Emma Lee was filed before
the RTC of Kalookan and docketed as SP. PROC. NO. C-16746 and assigned to the sala of
respondent Judge Jaime T. Hamoy of Branch 130.
Both petitions sought to cancel and/or correct the false and erroneous entries in all pertinent records
of birth of petitioners by deleting and/or canceling therein the name of "Keh Shiok Cheng" as their
mother, and by substituting the same with the name "Tiu Chuan", who is allegedly the petitioners'
true birth mother.
The private respondents alleged in their petitions before the trial courts that they are the legitimate
children of spouses Lee Tek Sheng and Keh Shiok Cheng who were legally married in China
sometime in 1931. Except for Rita K. Lee who was born and raised in China, private respondents
herein were all born and raised in the Philippines.
Sometime in October, 1948, Lee Tek Sheng, facilitated the arrival in the Philippines from China of a
young girl named Tiu Chuan. She was introduced by Lee Tek Sheng to his family as their new

housemaid but far from becoming their housemaid, Tiu Chuan immediately became Lee Tek Sheng's
mistress. As a result of their illicit relations, Tiu Chuan gave birth to petitioners.
Unknown to Keh Shiok Cheng and private respondents, every time Tiu Chuan gave birth to each of
the petitioners, their common father, Lee Tek Sheng, falsified the entries in the records of birth of
petitioners by making it appear that petitioners' mother was Keh Shiok Cheng.
Since the birth of petitioners, it was Tiu Chuan who gave maternal care and guidance to the
petitioners. They all lived in the same compound Keh Shiok Cheng and private respondents were
residing in. All was well, therefore, before private respondents' discovery of the dishonesty and fraud
perpetrated by their father, Lee Tek Sheng.
The tides turned after Keh Shiok Cheng's demise on May 9, 1989. Lee Tek Sheng insisted that the
names of all his children, including those of petitioners', be included in the obituary notice of Keh
Shiok Cheng's death that was to be published in the newspapers. It was this seemingly irrational act
that piqued private respondents' curiosity, if not suspicion. 7
Acting on their suspicion, the private respondents requested the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI) to conduct an investigation into the matter. After investigation and verification of all pertinent
records, the NBI prepared a report that pointed out, among others, the false entries in the records of
birth of petitioners, specifically the following.
1. As per Birth Certificate MARCELO LEE (Annex F-1), their father, LEE TEK SHENG made
it appear that he is the 12th child of Mrs. KEH SHIOK CHENG, but upon investigation, it was
found out that her Hospital Records, the mother who gave birth to MARCELO LEE had given
birth for the 1st time, as per diagnosis of the attending physician, Dr. R. LIM, it was
"GRAVIDA I, PARA I" which means "first pregnancy, first live birth delivery" (refer to:
MASTER PATIENT'S RECORDS SUMMARY Annex I). Also, the age of the mother when
she gave birth to MARCELO LEE as per record was only 17 years old, when in fact and in
truth, KEH SHIOK CHENG's age was then already 38 years old. The address used by their
father in the Master Patient record was also the same as the Birth Certificate of MARCELO
LEE (2425 Rizal Avenue, Manila). The name of MARCELO LEE was recorded under
Hospital No. 221768, page 73.
2. As per Birth Certificate of ALBINA LEE (Annex F-2), it was made to appear that ALBINA
LEE was the third child which is without any rationality, because the 3rd child of KEH SHIOK
CHENG is MELODY LEE TEK SHENG (Annex E-2). Note also, that the age of the mother as
per Hospital Records jump (sic) from 17 to 22 years old, but the only age gap of MARCELO
LEE and ALBINA LEE is only 2 years.
3. As per Birth Certificate of MARIANO LEE (Annex F-3), it was made to appear that
MARIANO LEE was the 5th child, but the truth is, KEH SHIOK CHENG's 5th child is LUCIA
LEE TEK SHENG (Annex E-4). As per Hospital Record, the age of KEH SHIOK CHENG was
only 23 years old, while the actual age of KEH SHIOK CHENG, was then already 40 years
old.
4. As per Birth Certificate of PABLO LEE (Annex F-4), it was made to appear that PABLO
LEE was the 16th child of KEH SHIOK CHENG which is impossible to be true, considering
the fact that KEH SHIOK CHENG have stopped conceiving after her 11th child. Also as per
Hospital Record, the age of the mother was omitted in the records. If PABLO LEE is the 16th
child of KEH SHIOK CHENG, it would only mean that she have (sic) given birth to her first
born child at the age of 8 to 9 years, which is impossible to be true.

Based on the birth record of MARIANO LEE in 1953, the recorded age of KEH SHIOK
CHENG was 23 years old. Two years after PABLO LEE was born in 1955, the difference is
only 2 years, so it is impossible for PABLO LEE to be the 16th child of KEH SHIOK CHENG,
as it will only mean that she have (sic) given birth at that impossible age.
5. As per Birth Certificate of HELEN LEE (Annex F-5), it was made to appear that she is the
6th child of KEH SHIOK CHENG, but as per Birth Certificate of JULIAN LEE (Annex E-5), he
is the true 6th child of KEH SHIOK CHENG. Per Hospital Record, KEH SHIOK CHENG is
only 28 years old, while KEH SHIOK CHENG'S true age at that time was 45 years old.
6. EMMA LEE has no record in the hospital because, as per complainant's allegation, she
was born at their house, and was later admitted at Chinese General Hospital.
7. As per Birth Certificate of CATALINO LEE (Annex F-7), it was made to appear that he is
the 14th child of KEH SHIOK CHENG, and that the age of KEH SHIOK CHENG a.k.a. Mrs.
LEE TEK SHENG, jumped from 28 years old at the birth of HELEN LEE on 23 August 1957
to 38 years old at the birth of CATALINO LEE on 22 April 1959.
8. As per Birth Certificate of EUSEBIO LEE, the alleged last son of KEH SHIOK CHENG, the
age of the mother is 48 years old. However, as per Hospital Record, the age of Mrs. LEE
TEK SHENG, then was only 39 years old. Considering the fact, that at the time of
MARCELO's birth on 11 May 1950. KEH SHIOK CHENG's age is 38 years old and at the
time of EUSEBIO's birth, she is already 48 years old, it is already impossible that she could
have given birth to 8 children in a span of only 10 years at her age. As per diagnosis, the
alleged mother registered on EUSEBIO's birth indicate that she had undergone CEASARIAN
SECTION, which Dr. RITA K. LEE said is not true.
In view of the foregoing facts, the NBI concluded that:
10. In conclusion, as per Chinese General Hospital Patients Records, it is very
obvious that the mother of these 8 children is certainly not KEH SHIOK CHENG, but
a much younger woman, most probably TIU CHUAN. Upon further evaluation and
analysis by these Agents, LEE TEK SHENG, is in a quandary in fixing the age of
KEH SHIOK CHENG possibly to conform with his grand design of making his 8
children as their own legitimate children, consequently elevating the status of his 2nd
family and secure their future. The doctor lamented that this complaint would not
have been necessary had not the father and his 2nd family kept on insisting that the
8 children are the legitimate children of KEH SHIOK CHENG.8
It was this report that prompted private respondents to file the petitions for cancellation and/or
correction of entries in petitioners' records of birth with the lower courts.
The petitioners filed a motion to dismiss both petitions SP. PROC. NO. 92-63692 and SP. PROC.
NO. C-1674 on the grounds that: (1) resort to Rule 108 is improper where the ultimate objective is
to assail the legitimacy and filiation of petitioners; (2) the petition, which is essentially an action to
impugn legitimacy was filed prematurely; and (3) the action to impugn has already prescribed. 9
On February 12, 1993, respondent Judge Veneracion denied the motion to dismiss SP. PROC. NO.
92-63692 for failure of the herein petitioners (defendants in the lower court) to appear at the hearing
of the said motion.10 Then on February 17, 1993, Judge Veneracion issued an Order, the pertinent
portion of which, reads as follows:

Finding the petition to be sufficient in form and substance, the same is hereby given due
course. Let this petition be set for hearing on March 29, 1993 at 8:30 in the morning before
this Court located at the 5th Floor of the City Hall of Manila.
Notice is hereby given that anyone who has any objection to the petition should file on or
before the date of hearing his opposition thereto with a statement of the grounds therefor.
Let a copy of this Order be published, at the expense of the petitioners, once a week for
three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.
Let copies of the verified petition with its annexes and of this Order be served upon the
Office of the Solicitor General, and the respondents, and be posted on the Bulletin Board of
this Court, also at the expense of the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.11
On the other hand, respondent Judge Hamoy issued an Order dated April 15, 1993 taking
cognizance of SP. PROC. No. C-1674, to wit:
It appearing from the documentary evidence presented and marked by the petitioners that
the Order of the Court setting the case for hearing was published in "Media Update" once a
week for three (3) consecutive weeks, that is on February 20, 27, and March 6, 1993 as
evidenced by the Affidavit of Publication and the clippings attached to the affidavit, and by
the copies of the "Media Update" published on the aforementioned dates; further, copy of the
order setting the case for hearing together with copy of the petition had been served upon
the Solicitor General, City Prosecutor of Kalookan City, Civil Registrar of Kalookan City and
the private respondents, the Court holds that the petitioners have complied with the
jurisdictional requirements for the Court to take cognizance of this case.
xxx

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xxx

SO ORDERED.12
Petitioners' attempts at seeking a reconsideration of the above-mentioned orders of Judge
Veneracion and Judge Hamoy failed, hence their recourse to the Court of Appeals via a Petition for
Certiorari and Prohibition with Application for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or
Writ of Preliminary Injunction. Petitioners averred that respondents judges had acted with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed orders allowing
the petitions for the cancellation and/or correction of entries in petitioners' records of birth to prosper
in the lower courts.
In their petition before the Court of Appeals, the petitioners raised the following arguments: (1) Rule
108 is inappropriate for impugning the legitimacy and filiation of children; (2) Respondents judges
are sanctioning a collateral attack against the filiation and legitimacy of children; (3) Respondents
judges are allowing private respondents to impugn the legitimacy and filiation of their siblings despite
the fact that their undisputed common father is still alive; (4) Respondents judges are entertaining
petitions which are already time-barred; and (5) The petitions below are part of a forum-shopping
spree.13

Finding no merit in petitioners' arguments, the Court of Appeals dismissed their petition in a Decision
dated October 28, 1994.14 Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration of the said decision was also
denied by the Court of Appeals in a Resolution dated December 19, 1994. 15
Hence, this petition.
1. Petitioners contend that resort to Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court is improper since private
respondents seek to have the entry for the name of petitioners' mother changed from "Keh Shiok
Cheng" to "Tiu Chuan" who is a completely different person. What private respondents therefore
seek is not merely a correction in name but a declaration that petitioners were not born of Lee Tek
Sheng's legitimate wife, Keh Shiok Cheng, but of his mistress, Tiu Chuan, in effect a "bastardization
of petitioners."16 Petitioners thus label private respondents' suits before the lower courts as a
collateral attack against their legitimacy in the guise of a Rule 108 proceeding.
Debunking petitioners' above contention, the Court of Appeals observed:
xxx

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xxx

As correctly pointed out by the private respondents in their comment . . . , the proceedings
are simply aimed at establishing a particular fact, status and/or right. Stated differently, the
thrust of said proceedings was to establish the factual truth regarding the occurrence of
certain events which created or affected the status of persons and/or otherwise deprived said
persons of rights.17
xxx

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xxx

It is precisely the province of a special proceeding such as the one outlined under Rule 108 of the
Revised Rules of Court to establish the status or right of a party, or a particular fact. 18 The petitions
filed by private respondents for the correction of entries in the petitioners' records of birth were
intended to establish that for physical and/or biological reasons it was impossible for Keh Shiok
Cheng to have conceived and given birth to the petitioners as shown in their birth records. Contrary
to petitioners' contention that the petitions before the lower courts were actually actions to impugn
legitimacy, the prayer therein is not to declare that petitioners are illegitimate children of Keh Shiok
Cheng, but to establish that the former are not the latter's children. There is nothing to impugn as
there is no blood relation at all between Keh Shiok Cheng and petitioners. 19
Further sanctioning private respondents' resort to Rule 108, the Court of Appeals adverted to our
ruling in the leading case of Republic vs. Valencia20 where we affirmed the decision of Branch XI of
the then Court of First Instance (CFI) of Cebu City ordering the correction in the nationality and civil
status of petitioner's minor children as stated in their records of birth from "Chinese" to "Filipino", and
"legitimate" to "illegitimate", respectively. Although recognizing that the changes or corrections
sought to be effected are not mere clerical errors of a harmless or innocuous nature, this Court,
sitting en banc, held therein that even substantial errors in a civil register may be corrected and the
true facts established provided the parties aggrieved by the error avail themselves of the appropriate
adversary proceeding.21 In the said case, we also laid down the rule that a proceeding for correction
and/or cancellation of entries in the civil register under Rule 108 ceases to be summary in nature
and takes on the characteristics of an appropriate adversary proceeding when all the procedural
requirements under Rule 108 are complied with. Thus we held:
"Provided the trial court has conducted proceedings where all relevant facts have been fully
and properly developed, where opposing counsel have been given opportunity to demolish

the opposite party's case, and where the evidence has been thoroughly weighed and
considered, the suit or proceeding is 'appropriate.'
The pertinent sections of rule 108 provide:
'SECTION 3. Parties. When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil
register is sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest
which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.'
'SECTION 4. Notice and publication. Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall,
by an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and cause reasonable
notice thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition. The court shall also
cause the order to be published once in a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a
newspaper of general circulation in the province.'
'SECTION 5. Opposition. The civil registrar and any person having or claiming any
interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may, within fifteen
(15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of publication of such
notice, file his opposition thereto.'
"Thus, the persons who must be made parties to a proceeding concerning the cancellation or
correction of an entry in the civil register are (1) the civil registrar, and (2) all persons who
have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby. Upon the filing of the petition, it
becomes the duty of the court to (1) issue an order fixing the time and place for the
hearing of the petition, and (2) cause the order for hearing to be published once a week for
three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province. The
following are likewise entitled to oppose the petition: (1) the civil registrar, and (2) any
person having or claiming any interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is
sought.
"If all these procedural requirements have been followed, a petition for correction and/or
cancellation of entries in the record of birth even if filed and conducted under Rule 108 of the
Revised Rules of Court can no longer be described as "summary". There can be no doubt
that when an opposition to the petition is filed either by the Civil Registrar or any person
having or claiming any interest in the entries sought to be cancelled and/or corrected and the
opposition is actively prosecuted, the proceedings thereon become adversary
proceedings."22 (Emphasis supplied.)
To the mind of the Court of Appeals, the proceedings taken in both petitions for cancellation and/or
correction of entries in the records of birth of petitioners in the lower courts are appropriate
adversary proceedings.
We agree. As correctly observed by the Court of Appeals:
In the instant case, a petition for cancellation and/or correction of entries of birth was filed by
private respondents and pursuant to the order of the RTC-Manila, dated February 17, 1993,
a copy of the order setting the case for hearing was ordered published once a week for three
(3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. In the RTCKalookan, there was an actual publication of the order setting the case for hearing in "Media
Update" once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks. In both cases notices of the orders
were ordered served upon the Solicitor General, the Civil Registrars of Manila and Kalookan
and upon the petitioners herein. Both orders set the case for hearing and directed the Civil

Registrars and the other respondents in the case below to file their oppositions to the said
petitions. A motion to dismiss was consequently filed by herein petitioners Marcelo, Mariano,
Pablo, Helen, Catalino and Eusebio, all surnamed Lee, and Albina Lee-Young in the RTCManila, and an opposition was filed by Emma Lee in the RTC-Kalookan.
In view of the foregoing, we hold that the petitions filed by the private respondents in the
courts below by way of a special proceeding cancellation and/or correction of entries in the
civil registers with the requisite parties, notices and publications could very well be regarded
as that proper suit or appropriate action.23 (Emphasis supplied.)
The petitioners assert, however, that making the proceedings adversarial does not give trial courts
the license to go beyond the ambit of Rule 108 which is limited to those corrections contemplated by
Article 412 of the New Civil Code or mere clerical errors of a harmless or innocuous nature. 24 The
petitioners point to the case of Labayo-Rowe vs. Republic,25 which is of a later date than Republic
vs. Valencia,26 where this Court reverted to the doctrine laid down in earlier cases, 27 starting with Ty
Kong Tin vs. Republic,28 prohibiting the extension of the application of Rule 108 beyond innocuous or
harmless changes or corrections. Petitioners contend that as held in Go, et al. vs. Civil
Registrar,29 allowing substantial changes under Rule 108 would render the said rule unconstitutional
as the same would have the effect of increasing or modifying substantive rights.
At the outset, it should be pointed out that in the cited case of Labayo-Rowe vs. Republic,30 the
reason we declared null and void the portion of the lower court's order directing the change of
Labayo-Rowe's civil status and the filiation of one of her children as appearing in the latter's record
of birth, is not because Rule 108 was inappropriate to effect such changes, but because LabayoRowe's petition before the lower court failed to implead all indispensable parties to the case.
We explained in this wise:
"x x x An appropriate proceeding is required wherein all the indispensable parties should be
made parties to the case as required under Section 3, Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of
Court.
"In the case before Us, since only the Office of the Solicitor General was notified through the
Office of the Provincial Fiscal, representing the Republic of the Philippines as the only
respondent, the proceedings taken, which is summary in nature, is short of what is required
in cases where substantial alterations are sought. Aside from the Office of the Solicitor
General, all other indispensable parties should have been made respondents. They include
not only the declared father of the child but the child as well, together with the paternal
grandparents, if any, as their hereditary rights would be adversely affected thereby. All other
persons who may be affected by the change should be notified or represented x x x.
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xxx

"The right of the child Victoria to inherit from her parents would be substantially impaired if
her status would be changed from 'legitimate' to 'illegitimate'. Moreover, she would be
exposed to humiliation and embarrassment resulting from the stigma of an illegitimate
filiation that she will bear thereafter. The fact that the notice of hearing of the petition was
published in a newspaper of general circulation and notice thereof was served upon the
State will not change the nature of the proceedings taken. Rule 108, like all the other
provisions of the Rules of Court, was promulgated by the Supreme Court pursuant to its rulemaking authority under Section 13, Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution, which directs that
such rules 'shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive rights.' If Rule 108 were to be

extended beyond innocuous or harmless changes or corrections of errors which are visible
to the eye or obvious to the understanding, so as to comprehend substantial and
controversial alterations concerning citizenship, legitimacy of paternity or filiation, or
legitimacy of marriage, without observing the proper proceedings as earlier mentioned, said
rule would thereby become an unconstitutional exercise which would tend to increase or
modify substantive rights. This situation is not contemplated under Article 412 of the Civil
Code."31 (italics supplied).
Far from petitioners' theory, this Court's ruling in Labayo-Rowe vs. Republic32 does not exclude
recourse to Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court to effect substantial changes or corrections in
entries of the civil register. The only requisite is that the proceedings under Rule 108 be
an appropriate adversary proceeding as contra-distinguished from a summary proceeding. Thus:
"If the purpose of the petition [for cancellation and/or correction of entries in the civil register]
is merely to correct the clerical errors which are visible to the eye or obvious to the
understanding, the court may, under a summary procedure, issue an order for the correction
of a mistake. However, as repeatedly construed, changes which may affect the civil status
from legitimate to illegitimate, as well as sex, are substantial and controversial alterations
which can only be allowed after appropriate adversary proceedings depending upon the
nature of the issues involved. Changes which affect the civil status or citizenship of a party
are substantial in character and should be threshed out in a proper action depending upon
the nature of the issues in controversy, and wherein all the parties who may be affected by
the entries are notified or represented and evidence is submitted to prove the allegations of
the complaint, and proof to the contrary admitted x x x." 33 (Emphasis supplied.)
It is true that in special proceedings formal pleadings and a hearing may be dispensed with, and the
remedy granted upon mere application or motion. But this is not always the case, as when the
statute expressly provides.34 Hence, a special proceeding is not always summary. One only has to
take a look at the procedure outlined in Rule 108 to see that what is contemplated therein is not a
summary proceeding per se. Rule 108 requires publication of the petition three (3) times, i.e., once a
week for three (3) consecutive weeks (Sec.4). The Rule also requires inclusion as parties of all
persons who claim any interest which would be affected by the cancellation or correction (Sec. 3).
The civil registrar and any person in interest are also required to file their opposition, if any, within
fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the last date of publication of such notice (Sec.
5). Last, but not the least, although the court may make orders expediting the proceedings, it is after
hearing that the court shall either dismiss the petition or issue an order granting the same (Sec. 7).
Thus, we find no reason to depart from our ruling in Republic vs. Valencia,35 that Rule 108, when all
the procedural requirements thereunder are followed, is the appropriate adversary proceeding to
effect substantial corrections and changes in entries of the civil register.
It must be conceded, however, that even after Republic vs. Valencia36 there continues to be a
seesawing of opinion on the issue of whether or not substantial corrections in entries of the civil
register may be effected by means of Rule 108 in relation to Article 412 of the New Civil Code. The
more recent cases of Leonor vs. Court of Appeals37 andRepublic vs. Labrador38 do seem to signal a
reversion to the Ty Kong Tin ruling which delimited the scope of application of Article 412 to clerical
or typographical errors in entries of the civil register.
In Republic vs. Labrador, the Court held that Rule 108 cannot be used to modify, alter or increase
substantive rights, such as those involving the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a child. We ruled thus:

"This issue has been resolved in Leonor vs. Court of Appeals. In that case, Respondent
Mauricio Leonor filed a petition before the trial court seeking the cancellation of the
registration of his marriage to Petitioner Virginia Leonor. He alleged, among others, the
nullity of their legal vows arising from the "non-observance of the legal requirements for a
valid marriage." In debunking the trial court's ruling granting such petition, the Court held as
follows:
'On its face, the Rule would appear to authorize the cancellation of any entry
regarding "marriages" in the civil registry for any reason by the mere filing of a
verified petition for the purpose. However, it is not as simple as it looks. Doctrinally,
the only errors that can be canceled or corrected under this Rule are typographical or
clerical errors, not material or substantial ones like the validity or nullity of a marriage.
A clerical error is one which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding;
error made by a clerk or a transcriber; a mistake in copying or writing (Black vs.
Republic, L-10869, Nov. 28, 1958); or some harmless and innocuous change such
as a correction of name that is clearly misspelled or of a misstatement of the
occupation of the parent (Ansalada vs. Republic, L-10226, Feb. 14, 1958).'
'Where the effect of a correction in a civil registry will change the civil status of
petitioner and her children from legitimate to illegitimate, the same cannot be granted
except only in an adversarial x x x .'
'Clearly and unequivocally, the summary procedure under Rule 108, and for that
matter under Article 412 of the Civil Code cannot be used by Mauricio to change his
and Virginia's civil status from married to single and of their three children from
legitimate to illegitimate x x x '
"Thus, where the effect of a correction of an entry in a civil registry will change the status of a
person from "legitimate to "illegitimate," as in Sarah Zita's case, the same cannot be granted
in summary proceedings."39
It is, therefore, high time that we put an end to the confusion sown by pronouncements seemingly in
conflict with each other, and perhaps, in the process, stem the continuing influx of cases raising the
same substantial issue.
The basis for the pronouncement that extending the scope of Rule 108 to substantial corrections is
unconstitutional is embodied in the early case of Ty Kong Tin vs. Republic40 that first delineated the
extent or scope of the matters that may be changed or corrected pursuant to Article 412 of the New
Civil Code. The Supreme Court ruled in this case that:
"x x x After a mature deliberation, the opinion was reached that what was contemplated
therein are mere corrections of mistakes that are clerical in nature and not those that may
affect the civil status or the nationality or citizenship of the persons involved. If the purpose of
the petition is merely a clerical error then the court may issue an order in order that the error
or mistake may be corrected. If it refers to a substantial change, which affects the status or
citizenship of a party, the matter should be threshed out in a proper action depending upon
the nature of the issue involved. Such action can be found at random in our substantive and
remedial laws the implementation of which will naturally depend upon the factors and
circumstances that might arise affecting the interested parties. This opinion is predicated
upon the theory that the procedure contemplated in article 412 is summary in nature which
cannot cover cases involving controversial issues."41

This doctrine was taken a step further in the case of Chua Wee, et al. vs. Republic42 where the Court
said that:
"From the time the New Civil Code took effect on August 30, 1950 until the promulgation of
the Revised Rules of Court on January 1, 1964, there was no law nor rule of court
prescribing the procedure to secure judicial authorization to effect the desired innocuous
rectifications or alterations in the civil register pursuant to Article 412 of the New Civil Code.
Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court now provides for such a procedure which should be
limited solely to the implementation of Article 412, the substantive law on the matter of
correcting entries in the civil register. Rule 108, like all the other provisions of the Rules of
Court, was promulgated by the Supreme Court pursuant to its rule-making authority under
Section 13 of Art. VIII of the Constitution, which directs that such rules of court 'shall not
diminish or increase or modify substantive rights.' If Rule 108 were to be extended beyond
innocuous or harmless changes or corrections of errors which are visible to the eye or
obvious to the understanding, so as to comprehend substantial and controversial alterations
concerning citizenship, legitimacy of paternity or filiation, or legitimacy of marriage, said Rule
108 would thereby become unconstitutional for it would be increasing or modifying
substantive rights, which changes are not authorized under Article 412 of the New Civil
Code."43 (Italics supplied).
We venture to say now that the above pronouncements proceed from a wrong premise, that is, the
interpretation that Article 412 pertains only to clerical errors of a harmless or innocuous nature,
effectively excluding from its domain, and the scope of its implementing rule, substantial changes
that may affect nationality, status, filiation and the like. Why the limited scope of Article 412?
Unfortunately, Ty Kong Tin does not satisfactorily answer this question except to opine that the
procedure contemplated in Article 412 is summary in nature and cannot, therefore, cover cases
involving controversial issues. Subsequent cases have merely echoed the Ty Kong Tin doctrine
without, however, shedding light on the matter.
The flaw in Ty Kong Tin lies in its theory that Article 412 contemplates a summary procedure.
First of all, Article 412 is a substantive law that provides as follows:
"No entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected, without a judicial order."
It does not provide for a specific procedure of law to be followed except to say that the corrections or
changes must be effected by judicial order. As such, it cannot be gleaned therefrom that the
procedure contemplated for obtaining such judicial order is summary in nature.
Secondly, it is important to note that Article 412 uses both the terms "corrected" and "changed". In its
ordinary sense, to correct means to make or set right"; "to remove the faults or errors from" 44 while to
change means "to replace something with something else of the same kind or with something that
serves as a substitute".45 The provision neither qualifies as to the kind of entry to be changed or
corrected nor does it distinguish on the basis of the effect that the correction or change may have.
Hence, it is proper to conclude that all entries in the civil register may be changed or corrected under
Article 412. What are the entries in the civil register? We need not go further than Articles 407 and
408 of the same title to find the answer.
"Art. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons shall be
recorded in the civil register."
"Art. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register:

(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5) annulments of marriage; (6)
judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7) legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9)
acknowledgments of natural children; (10) naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of
citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14) judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary
emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of name."
It is beyond doubt that the specific matters covered by the preceding provisions include not only
status but also nationality. Therefore, the Ty Kong Tin pronouncement that Article 412 does not
contemplate matters that may affect civil status, nationality or citizenship is erroneous. This
interpretation has the effect of isolating Article 412 from the rest of the articles in Title XVI, Book I of
the New Civil Code, in clear contravention of the rule of statutory construction that a statute must
always be construed as a whole such that the particular meaning to be attached to any word or
phrase is ascertained from the context and the nature of the subject treated. 46
Thirdly, Republic Act No. 904847 which was passed by Congress on February 8, 2001 substantially
amended Article 412 of the New Civil Code, to wit:
"SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or Typographical Error and Change of First Name
or Nickname. No entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial
order, except for clerical or typographical errors and change of first name or nickname which
can be corrected or changed by the concerned city or municipal civil registrar or consul
general in accordance with the provisions of this Act and its implementing rules and
regulations."
The above law speaks clearly. Clerical or typographical errors in entries of the civil register are now
to be corrected and changed without need of a judicial order and by the city or municipal civil
registrar or consul general. The obvious effect is to remove from the ambit of Rule 108 the correction
or changing of such errors in entries of the civil register. Hence, what is left for the scope of
operation of Rule 108 are substantial changes and corrections in entries of the civil register. This is
precisely the opposite of what Ty Kong Tin and other cases of its genre had said, perhaps another
indication that it was not sound doctrine after all.
It may be very well said that Republic Act No. 9048 is Congress' response to the confusion wrought
by the failure to delineate as to what exactly is that so-called summary procedure for changes or
corrections of a harmless or innocuous nature as distinguished from that appropriate adversary
proceeding for changes or corrections of a substantial kind. For we must admit that though we have
constantly referred to an appropriate adversary proceeding, we have failed to categorically state just
what that procedure is. Republic Act No. 9048 now embodies that summary procedure while Rule
108 is that appropriate adversary proceeding. Be that as it may, the case at bar cannot be decided
on the basis of Republic Act No. 9048 which has prospective application. Hence, the necessity for
the preceding treatise.
II. The petitioners contend that the private respondents have no cause of action to bring the cases
below as Article 171 of the Family Code allows the heirs of the father to bring an action to impugn
the legitimacy of his children only after his death. 48
Article 171 provides:
"The heirs of the husband may impugn the filiation of the child within the period prescribed in
the preceding article only in the following cases:
"(1) If the husband should die before the expiration of the period fixed for bringing this action;

"(2) If he should die after the filing of the complaint, without having desisted therefrom; or
"(3) If the child was born after the death of the husband."
Petitioner's contention is without merit.
In the recent case of Babiera vs. Catotal,49 we upheld the decision of the Court of Appeals that
affirmed the judgment of the RTC of Lanao del Norte declaring the birth certificate of one Teofista
Guinto as null and void ab initio, and ordering the Local Civil Registrar of Iligan City to cancel the
same from the Registry of Live Births. We ruled therein that private respondent Presentacion
Catotal, child of spouses Eugenio Babiera and Hermogena Cariosa, had the requisite standing to
initiate an action to cancel the entry of birth of Teofista Babiera, another alleged child of the same
spouses because she is the one who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or
the party entitled to the avails of the suit.50
We likewise held therein that:
"x x x Article 171 of the Family Code is not applicable to the present case. A close reading of
the provision shows that it applies to instances in which the father impugns the legitimacy of
his wife's child. The provision, however, presupposes that the child was the undisputed
offspring of the mother. The present case alleges and shows that Hermogena did not give
birth to petitioner. In other words, the prayer therein is not to declare that petitioner is an
illegitimate child of Hermogena, but to establish that the former is not the latter's child at all x
x x. ''51
Similarly, we ruled in Benitez-Badua vs. Court of Appeals52 that:
"Petitioner's insistence on the applicability of Articles 164, 166, 170 and 171 of the Family
Code to the case at bench cannot be sustained. x x x.
xxx

xxx

xxx

"A careful reading of the above articles will show that they do not contemplate a situation,
like in the instant case, where a child is alleged not be the child of nature or biological child
of a certain couple. Rather, these articles govern a situation where a husband (or his heirs)
denies as his own a child of his wife. Thus, under Article 166, it is the husband who can
impugn the legitimacy of said child by proving: (1) it was physically impossible for him to
have sexual intercourse, with his wife within the first 120 days of the 300 days which
immediately preceded the birth of the child; (2) that for biological or other scientific reasons,
the child could not have been his child; (3) that in case of children conceived through artificial
insemination, the written authorization or ratification by either parent was obtained through
mistake, fraud, violence, intimidation or undue influence. Articles 170 and 171 reinforce this
reading as they speak of the prescriptive period within which the husband or any of his heirs
should file the action impugning the legitimacy of said child. Doubtless then, the appellate
court did not err when it refused to apply these articles to the case at bench. For the case at
bench is not one where the heirs of the late Vicente are contending that petitioner is not his
child by Isabel. Rather, their clear submission is that petitioner was not born to Vicente and
Isabel. Our ruling in Cabatbat-Lim vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 166 SCRA 451, 457
cited in the impugned decision is apropos, viz:

'Petitioners' recourse to Article 263 of the New Civil Code [now Art. 170 of the Family
Code] is not well taken. This legal provision refers to an action to impugn legitimacy.
It is inapplicable to this case because this is not an action to impugn the legitimacy of
a child, but an action of the private respondents to claim their inheritance as legal
heirs of their childless deceased aunt. They do not claim that petitioner Violeta
Cabatbat Lim is an illegitimate child of the deceased, but that she is not the
decedent's child at all. Being neither legally adopted child, nor an acknowledged
natural child, nor a child by legal fiction of Esperanza Cabatbat, Violeta is not a legal
heir of the deceased. "'53
III. Petitioners claim that private respondents' cause of action had already prescribed as more than
five (5) years had lapsed between the registration of the latest birth among the petitioners in 1960
and the filing of the actions in December of 1992 and February of 1993. 54
We disagree. As correctly pointed out by the Court of Appeals, inasmuch as no law or rule
specifically prescribes a fixed time for filing the special proceeding under Rule 108 in relation to
Article 412 of the New Civil Code, it is the following provision of the New Civil Code that applies:
"Art. 1149. other actions whose periods are not fixed in this Code or in other laws must be
brought within five years from the time the right of action accrues."
The right of action accrues when there exists a cause of action, which consists of three (3) elements,
namely: a) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever law it arises or is
created; b) an obligation on the part of the defendant to respect such right; and c) an act or omission
on the part of such defendant violative of the right of the plaintiff. It is only when the last element
occurs or takes place that it can be said in law that a cause of action has arisen. 55
It is indubitable that private respondents have a cause of action. The last element of their cause of
action, that is, the act of their father in falsifying the entries in petitioners' birth records, occurred
more than thirty (30) years ago. Strictly speaking, it was upon this occurrence that private
respondents' right of action or right to sue accrued. However, we must take into account the fact that
it was only sometime in 1989 that private respondents discovered that they in fact had a cause of
action against petitioners who continue to use said falsified birth records.
Hence, it would result in manifest injustice if we were to deprive private respondents of their right to
establish the truth about a fact, in this case, petitioners' true mother, and their real status, simply
because they had discovered the dishonesty perpetrated upon them by their common father at a
much later date. This is especially true in the case of private respondents who, as their father's
legitimate children, did not have any reason to suspect that he would commit such deception against
them and deprive them of their sole right to inherit from their mother's (Keh Shiok Cheng's) estate. It
was only sometime in 1989 that private respondents' suspicions were aroused and confirmed. From
that time until 1992 and 1993, less than five (5) years had lapsed.
Petitioners would have us reckon the five-year prescriptive period from the date of the registration of
the last birth among the petitioners-siblings in 1960, and not from the date private respondents had
discovered the false entries in petitioners' birth records in 1989. Petitioners base their position on the
fact that birth records are public documents, hence, the period of prescription for the right of action
available to the private respondents started to run from the time of the registration of their birth
certificates in the Civil Registry.
We cannot agree with petitioners' thinking on that point.

It is true that the books making up the Civil Register and all documents relating thereto are public
documents and shall be prima facie evidence of the facts therein contained.56 Petitioners liken their
birth records to land titles, public documents that serve as notice to the whole world. Unfortunately
for the petitioners, this analogy does not hold water. Unlike a title to a parcel of land, a person's
parentage cannot be acquired by prescription. One is either born of a particular mother or not. It is
that simple.
IV. Finally, petitioners accuse private respondents of forum shopping. They enumerate the other
actions filed by private respondents against them prior to the filing of their Rule 108 petitions in the
lower courts, as follows:
(1) A criminal complaint for falsification of entries in the birth certificates filed against their
father as principal and against defendants as alleged accessories;
(2) A petition for the cancellation of the naturalization certificate of their father, Lee Tek
Sheng; and
(3) A petition for partition of Keh Shiok Cheng's estate. 57
According to the petitioners, all the three (3) actions above-mentioned, as well as the Rule 108
petitions, subject of the case before us, raise the common issue of whether petitioners are the
natural children of Keh Shiok Cheng or Tiu Chuan. They contend that in all these cases, the judge or
hearing officer would have to resolve this issue in order to determine whether or not to grant the
relief prayed for.58
Forum shopping is present when in the two or more cases pending there is identity of parties, rights
or causes of action and reliefs sought.59 Even a cursory examination of the pleadings filed by private
respondents in their various cases against petitioners would reveal that at the very least there is no
identity of rights or causes of action and reliefs prayed for. The present case has its roots in two (2)
petitions filed under Rule 108, the purpose of which is to correct and/or cancel certain entries in
petitioners' birth records. Suffice it to state, the cause of action in these Rule 108 petitions and the
relief sought therefrom are very different from those in the criminal complaint against petitioners and
their father which has for its cause of action, the commission of a crime as defined and penalized
under the Revised Penal Code, and which seeks the punishment of the accused; or the action for
the cancellation of Lee Tek Sheng naturalization certificate which has for its cause of action the
commission by Lee Tek Sheng of an immoral act, and his ultimate deportation for its object; or for
that matter, the action for partition of Keh Shiok Cheng's estate which has for its cause of action the
private respondents' right under the New Civil Code to inherit from their mother's estate.
We therefore concur in the finding of the Court of Appeals that there is no forum shopping to speak
of in the concept that this is described and contemplated in Circular No. 28-91 of the Supreme Court.
HCISED
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals
dated October 28, 1994 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Mendoza, Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ., concur.

Chiao Ben Lim vs. Zosa, 146 SCRA 366 , December 29, 1986
Case Title : ANTONIO CHIAO BEN LIM, petitioner, vs. HON. MARIANO A.
ZOSA, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch V and the local
civil registrar of the City of Cebu, respondents.Case Nature : APPEAL by
certiorari to review the orders of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Br. V.
Zosa, J.
Syllabi Class : Civil Law|
Syllabi:
1. Civil Law; Persons and Family Relations; Correction of entries in the
birth records; Changes in the birth entry regarding a person's citizenship
now allowed, as long as adversary proceedings are held; Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court provides only the procedure or mechanism for the proper
enforcement of the substantive law embodied in Art. 412 of the Civil Code. The Valencia ruling has in effect adopted the above-stated views insofar as it
now allows changes in the birth entry regarding a person's citizenship as
long as adversary proceedings are held. Where such a change is ordered,
the Court will not be establishing a substantive right but only correcting or
rectifying an erroneous entry in the civil registry as authorized by law. In
short, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court provides only the procedure or
mechanism for the proper enforcement of the substantive law embodied in
Article 412 of the Civil Code and so does not violate the Constitution.

Division: EN BANC
Docket Number: No. L-40252
Counsel: Eleno Andales
Ponente: CRUZ
Dispositive Portion:
WHEREFORE, the challenged Orders are hereby set aside, and Special
Proceeding No. 3596-R of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch V, is
reinstated for trial on the merits without delay. No pronouncement as to
costs.

G.R. No. L-40252 December 29, 1986


ANTONIO CHIAO BEN LIM, petitioner,
vs.
HON. MARIANO A. ZOSA, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch V and the
local civil registrar of the City of Cebu, respondents.

Eleno Andales for petitioner.

CRUZ, J.:
This is an appeal by certiorari from two Orders 1 of the respondent judge dismissing a petition for the
correction of an allegedly wrong entry in the birth records of Kim Joseph describing him as a Chinese
national instead of a Filipino citizen.
The petitioner had offered to prove the error through several pieces of evidence, among them an
earlier birth certificate of Kim Joseph describing him as a Filipino citizen, the birth certificates of his
seven brothers and sisters all describing them as Filipinos, and a decision of the Court of Appeals
recognizing their grandfather as a Filipino citizen. 2
On opposition by the local civil registrar of Cebu, 3 however, the respondent judge dismissed the
petition and sustained the contention that only clerical errors were allowed to be corrected in the summary
proceedings authorized under Article 412 of the Civil Code and Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.
Substantial issues like citizenship were not covered. In effect, it was held the petition was for a judicial
declaration of citizenship, which was not allowed under existing rules. 4
Article 412 of the Civil Code simply provides: "No entry in the civil registry shall be changed or
corrected without a judicial order."
In fairness to the respondent judge, there was abundant jurisprudence to lend support to his Orders
at the time they were issued. Since then, however, the strict doctrine announced in those cases has
been relaxed, most recently in the case of Republic v. Valencia, 5 supported by twelve members of this
Court with only one other member not taking part.
In that case (arising, incidentally, also in Cebu City), there was a petition for the correction in the birth
entries of two persons in the local civil registry, specifically to change their citizenship from "Chinese"
to "Filipino," their status as children from "legitimate" to "illegitimate," and their mother's status from
"married" to "single." The motion to dismiss filed by the local civil registrar having been denied, a fullblown trial was held and the changes sought were thereafter ordered by the trial court. The Republic
of the Philippines then came to this Court to question the decision, invoking substantially the same
grounds on which the Orders now being challenged were based.
In a well-reasoned and exhaustive decision, Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez declared inter alia:
It is undoubtedly true that if the subject matter of a petition is not for the correction of clerical
errors of a harmless and innocuous nature, but one involving nationality or citizenship, which
is indisputably substantial as well as controverted, affirmative relief cannot be granted in a
proceeding summary in nature. However, it is also true that a right in law may be enforced
and a wrong may be remedied as long as the appropriate remedy is used. This Court
adheres to the principle that even substantial errors in a civil registry may be corrected and
the true facts established provided the parties aggrieved by the error avail themselves of the
appropriate adversary proceeding. As a matter of fact, the opposition of the Solicitor General
dated February 20, 1970 while questioning the use of Article 412 of the Civil Code in relation
to Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court admits that 'the entries sought to be corrected
should be threshed out in an appropriate proceeding.

What is meant by 'appropriate adversary proceedings 'Black's Law Dictionary defines


adversary proceeding' as follows:
One having opposing parties; contested, as distinguished from an ex parte application, one
of which the party seeking relief has given legal warning to the other party, and afforded the
latter an opportunity to contest it. Excludes an adoption proceeding. (Platt v. Magagnini, 187,
p. 716, 718, 110 Was. 39). 6
<re||an1w>

xxx xxx xxx


The court's role in hearing the petition to correct certain entries in the civil registry is to
ascertain the truth about the facts recorded therein.Under our system of administering
justice, truth is best ascertained or approximated by trial conducted under the adversary
system. 7
xxx xxx xxx
Provided the trial court has conducted proceedings where all relevant facts have been fully
and properly developed, where opposing counsel have been given opportunity to demolish
the opposite party's case, and where the evidence has been thoroughly weighed and
considered, the suit or proceeding is 'appropriate.'
The pertinent sections of Rule 108 provide:
SEC. 3. Parties. When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register is sought,
the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected
thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.
SEC. 4. Notice and publication. Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall, by an order,
fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and cause reasonable notice thereof to be
given to the persons named in the petition. The court shall also cause the order to be
published once in a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general
circulation in the province.
SEC. 5. Opposition. The civil registrar and any person having or claiming any interest
under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may, within fifteen (15) days from
notice of the petition, or from the last date of publication of such notice, file his opposition
thereto.
Thus, the persons who must be made parties to a proceeding concerning the cancellation or
correction of an entry in the civil registrar are-(1) the civil registrar, and (2) all persons who
have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby. Upon the filing of the petition, it
becomes the duty of the court to (1) issue an order fixing the time and place for the hearing
of the petition, and (2) cause the order for hearing to be published once a week for three (3)
consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province. The following are
likewise entitled to oppose the petition: (1) the civil registrar, and (2) any persons having or
claiming any interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought.
If all these procedural requirements have been followed, a petition for correction and/or
cancellation of entries in the record of birth even if filed and conducted under Rule 108 of the
Revised Rules of Court can no longer be described as "summary".There can be no doubt

that when an opposition to the petition is filed either by the Civil Registrar or any person
having or claiming any interest in the entries sought to be cancelled and/or corrected and the
opposition is actively prosecuted, the proceedings thereon become adversary proceedings.
xxx xxx xxx
We are of the opinion that the petition filed by the respondent in the lower court by way of a
special proceeding for cancellation and/or correction of entries in the civil register with the
requisite notice and publication and the recorded proceedings that actually took place
thereafter could very well be regarded as that proper suit or appropriate action. 8
In a number of earlier cases, the Court has ruled that the birth entry regarding a person's citizenship
could not be changed under Rule 108 as this would involve substantive rights that the rules of court
could not "diminish, increase or modify" under the Constitution. 9
Thus, in Chua Wee v. Republic, 10 a unanimous Court declared that, "if Rule 108 were to be extended
beyond innocuous or harmless changes or corrections of errors which are visible to the eye or obvious to
the understanding, so as to comprehend substantial and controversial alterations concerning citizenship,
legitimacy of paternity or filiation, or legitimacy of marriage, said Rule 108 would thereby become
unconstitutional for it would be increasing or modifying substantive rights, which changes are not
authorized under Article 412 of the new Civil Code."
In Wong v. Republic, 11 however, Justice Vicente Abad Santos, in a separate concurrence, expressed the
view that Article 412, which Rule 108 was supposed to implement, "does not say that it applies only to
noncontroversial issues and that the procedure to be used is summary in nature," adding that "Article 412
contemplates all kinds of issues and all kinds of procedures." Justice Pacifico de Castro, in a dissenting
opinion, agreed with him and said (speaking also of Article 412) that "no prohibition may be seen from its
express provision, nor by mere implication, against correction of a substantial error as one affecting the
status of a person." Amplifying on this view, he declared in another dissenting opinion in Republic v. de la
Cruz: 12
It is not accurate to say that Rule 108 would be rendered unconstitutional if it would allow the
correction of more than mere harmless clerical error, as it would thereby increase or modify
substantive rights which the Constitution expressly forbids because Article 412 of the Civil
Code, the substantive law sought to be implemented by Rule 108, allows only the correction
of innocuous clerical errors not those affecting the status of persons. As was stressed in the
dissent on the aforesaid Wong Case, Article 412 does not limit in its express terms nor by
mere implication, the correction authorized by it to that of mere clerical errors. Upon a
consideration of this fact, it would be reasonable and justified to rule that Article 412
contemplates of correction of erroneous entry of whatever nature, procedural safeguards
having only to be provided for, as was the manifest purpose of Rule 108.
It is worth emphasing that proceedings for the correction of erroneous entry should not be
considered as establishing one's status in a legal manner conclusively beyond dispute or
controversion, for as provided by Article 410 of the Civil Code, 'the books making up the civil
register and all documents relating thereto ... shall beprima facie evidence of the facts
therein contained.' Hence, the status as corrected would not have a superior quality for
evidentiary purpose. Moreover, the correction should not imply a change of status but a mere
rectification of error to make the matter corrected speak for the truth. There is, therefore, no
increase or diminution of substantive right, as is the basis for holding that Rule 108 would be
unconstitutional if held to allow ccrrection of more than mere harmless and innocuous
clerical errors.

The Valencia ruling has in effect adopted the above-stated views insofar as it now allows changes in
the birth entry regarding a person's citizenship as long as adversary proceedings are held. Where
such a change is ordered, the Court will not be establishing a substantive right but only correcting or
rectifying an erroneous entry in the civil registry as authorized by law. In short, Rule 108 of the Rules
of Court provides only the procedure or mechanism for the proper enforcement of the substantive
law embodied in Article 412 of the Civil Code and so does not violate the Constitution. We note that
in the case at bar the petition was dismissed outright without a trial being held, on the justification
that it was not permitted. In the light of the Valencia ruling, the Orders of the respondent judge must
now be reversed, to give way to the appropriate proceedings necessary to the resolution of the
substantial issue raised by the petitioner. The records show that the publication requirement has
already been complied with. 13 The next step, therefore, is for the petitioner and all adverse and
interested parties to be given their day in court in a regular trial on the merits.
WHEREFORE, the challenged Orders are hereby set aside, and Special Proceeding No. 3596-R of
the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch V, is reinstated for trial on the merits without delay. No
pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee, C.J.,

Eleosida vs. Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City, 382 SCRA 22 , May 09,
2002
Case Title : MA. LOURDES BARRIENTOS ELEOSIDA, for and in behalf of her
minor child, CHARLES CHRISTIAN ELEOSIDA, petitioner, vs. LOCAL CIVIL
REGISTRAR OF QUEZON CITY, and CARLOS VILLENA BORBON,
respondents.Case Nature : PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision
of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Br. 89.
Syllabi Class : Civil Law|Civil Registry
Syllabi:
1. Civil Law; Civil Registry; Even substantial errors in a civil registry may
be corrected and the true facts established under Rule 108 provided the
parties aggrieved by the error avail themselves of the appropriate adversary
proceeding.Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court provides the procedure for
cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry. The proceedings
under said rule may either be summary or adversary in nature. If the
correction sought to be made in the civil register is clerical, then the
procedure to be adopted is summary. If the rectification affects the civil
status, citizenship or nationality of a party, it is deemed substan- tial, and
the procedure to be adopted is adversary. This is our ruling in Republic vs.
Valencia where we held that even substantial errors in a civil registry may
be corrected and the true facts established under Rule 108 provided the
parties aggrieved by the error avail themselves of the appropriate adversary
proceeding. An appropriate adversary suit or proceeding is one where the
trial court has conducted proceedings where all relevant facts have been
fully and properly developed, where opposing counsel have been given
opportunity to demolish the opposite partys case, and where the evidence
has been thoroughly weighed and considered.
2. Civil Law; Civil Registry; Substantial changes are now allowed under
Rule 108 in accordance with the ruling in Republic vs. Valencia provided that
the appropriate procedural requirements are complied with. It is true in the case at bar that the changes sought to be made by
petitioner are not merely clerical or harmless errors but substantial ones as
they would affect the status of the marriage between petitioner and Carlos
Borbon, as well as the legitimacy of their son, Charles Christian. Changes of
such nature, however, are now allowed under Rule 108 in accordance with
our ruling in Republic vs. Valencia provided that the appropriate procedural
requirements are complied with.

Division: FIRST DIVISION


Docket Number: G.R. No. 130277

Counsel: Quiazon, Makalintal, Barot, Torres & Ibarra, The Solicitor General
Ponente: PUNO
Dispositive Portion:
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED and the Order dated August 25,
1997 of the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 89, subject of the petition at bar is
set aside. The case is REMANDED to the court a quo for further proceedings.
G.R. No. 130277

May 9, 2002

MA. LOURDES BARRIENTOS ELEOSIDA, for and in behalf of her minor child, CHARLES
CHRISTIAN ELEOSIDA, petitioner,
vs.
LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR OF QUEZON CITY, and CARLOS VILLENA BORBON, respondents.
PUNO, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Order 1 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 89, which dismissed motu proprio the petition of Ma. Lourdes Eleosida to correct some
entries in the birth certificate of her son, Charles Christian. The birth certificate shows, among others,
that the child's full name is Charles Christian Eleosida Borbon. He was born on May 24, 1992 to Ma.
Lourdes Barrientos Eleosida and Carlos Villena Borbon. The birth certificate also indicates that the
child's parents were married on January 10, 1985 in Batangas City.2
On January 30, 1997, petitioner Ma. Lourdes Eleosida filed a petition before the Regional Trial Court
of Quezon City seeking to correct the following entries in the birth certificate of her son, Charles
Christian: first, the surname "Borbon" should be changed to "Eleosida;" second, the date of the
parents' wedding should be left blank; and third, the informant's name should be "Ma. Lourdes B.
Eleosida," instead of "Ma. Lourdes E. Borbon." In support of her petition, petitioner alleged that she
gave birth to her son out of wedlock on May 24, 1992; that she and the boy's father, Carlos Borbon,
were never married; and that the child is therefore illegitimate and should follow the mother's
surname. The petition impleaded the Local Registrar of Quezon City and Carlos Villena Borbon as
respondents.3
On April 23, 1997, the trial court issued a notice of hearing stating:
"Verified petition having been filed by petitioner Ma. Lourdes Barrientos Eleosida, praying
that the entries in the Certificate of Live Birth of her minor child, Charles Christian Eleosida
Borbon, be changed and/or corrected, such that, his last name BORBON be deleted and
instead place therein the name ELEOSIDA, which is the surname of his mother-petitioner;
the entry "January 10, 1985 Batangas City", be likewise deleted, since the petitioner and
respondent Carlos Villena Borbon, at the time of the minor's birth were not legally married;
and the surname BORBON of petitioner Ma. Lourdes E. Borbon under the column Informant,
be also deleted;
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that this petition is set for hearing on June 26, 1997 at 8:30
o'clock in the morning, in the Session Hall of this Court sitting at the Ground Floor, Room
118, Hall of Justice, Quezon City, which is ordered published once a week for three (3)

consecutive weeks, in a newspaper of general circulation and published in Metro Manila, to


be selected by raffle, at the expense of the petitioner, at which date, time and place, the
petitioner shall appear and prove her petition, in that all other persons having or claiming any
interest thereon shall also appear and show cause why, if any, they have, the petition shall
not be granted.
1wphi1.nt

Let copies of this notice be furnished the petitioner, and together with copies of the petition,
respondent Carlos Villena Borbon; the Offices of the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City and
the Solicitor General, who are given fifteen (15) days from notice of the petition, or from the
last date of publication of such notice, within which to file their opposition thereto, if any. In
the event that the Solicitor General may not be able to appear on the scheduled hearing, to
designate the City Prosecutor of Quezon City to appear for and in behalf of the State.
SO ORDERED."4
On June 26, 1997, the trial court issued another order setting the date for the presentation of
evidence on July 23, 1997. It stated:
"Considering that there is no opposition filed despite notice to the Solicitor General as
contained in the notice of hearing dated April 23, 1997 requiring that office to file their
opposition, if any, to the petition for correction of entries in the birth certificate of minor child
Charles Christian Eleosida, the petitioner will be allowed to present compliance with the
jurisdictional requirements and at the same time initially present evidence on July 23, 1997,
at 8:30 o'clock in the morning."5
On August 25, 1997, the trial court motu proprio dismissed the petition for lack of merit. It ruled:
"It is an established jurisprudence that, only CLERICAL ERRORS OF A HARMLESS AND
INNOCUOUS NATURE like: misspelled name, occupation of the parents, etc., may be the
subject of a judicial order (contemplated under Article 412 of the New Civil Code),
authorizing changes or corrections and: NOT as may affect the CIVIL STATUS,
NATIONALITY OR CITIZENSHIP OF THE PERSONS INVOLVED.
In the present case, it is very clear that the changes desired by the petitioner will ultimately
affect the CIVIL STATUS OF CHARLES CHRISTIAN, as she wants the Court to Direct the
Civil Registrar of Quezon City to substitute her maiden name, ELEOSIDA, with that of
BORBON; to delete the information supplied in ITEM 12, respecting the date and place of
marriage of parents, on the ground that she was never married to respondent CARLOS
VILLENA BORBON and amend the information in ITEM 14, respecting the name of the
informant, from MA. LOURDES E. BORBON to MA. LOURDES B. ELEOSIDA, and is
indicative of petitioner's intention and device to establish that CHARLES CHRISTIAN's civil
status as ILLEGITIMATE.
With the petition's ultimate purpose on the part of petitioner to secure judicial order, which
would authorize a change in the civil status of CHARLES CHRISTIAN, this Court, finds the
action improper. The matters desired to be cancelled and/or changed by petitioner cannot be
considered falling under the ambit of the words 'clerical errors of a harmless and innocuous
nature.'
WHEREFORE, for LACK OF MERIT, the petition is now MOTU PROPIO (sic) dismissed." 6

Petitioner fled the instant petition for review raising the issue of whether corrections of entries in the
certificate of live birth pursuant to Article 412 of the Civil Code, in relation to Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court may be allowed even if the errors to be corrected are substantial and not merely clerical errors
of a harmless and innocuous nature.7
The Court required the respondents to comment on the petition. The Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG) filed a Manifestation in Lieu of Comment. The OSG submitted that even substantial errors in
the civil registry may be corrected provided that the parties aggrieved by the error avail themselves
of the appropriate adversary proceeding. Thus it argued that even if the petition seeks the correction
and eventual change in the civil status of Charles Christian, the same can be ordered by the court as
long as all the parties who may be affected by the entries are notified and represented. 8 Respondent
Carlos Borbon, on the other hand, failed to submit his comment on the petition despite several
notices from this Court. Hence, on January 24, 2001, the Court dispensed with the filing of
respondent Borbon's comment and gave due course to the petition. 9
We find merit in the petition. Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court provides the procedure for
cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry. The proceedings under said rule may either
be summary or adversary in nature. If the correction sought to be made in the civil register is clerical,
then the procedure to be adopted is summary. If the rectification affects the civil status, citizenship or
nationality of a party, it is deemed substantial, and the procedure to be adopted is adversary.10 This is
our ruling in Republic vs. Valencia11 where we held that even substantial errors in a civil registry
may be corrected and the true facts established under Rule 108 provided the parties aggrieved by
the error avail themselves of the appropriate adversary proceeding. An appropriate adversary suit or
proceeding is one where the trial court has conducted proceedings where all relevant facts have
been fully and properly developed, where opposing counsel have been given opportunity to
demolish the opposite party's case, and where the evidence has been thoroughly weighed and
considered. The Court further laid down the procedural requirements to make the proceedings under
Rule 108 adversary, thus:
"The pertinent sections of Rule 108 provide:
SEC. 3. Parties.When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register is
sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest which would
be affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.
1wphi1.nt

SEC. 4. Notice and publication.Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall, by
an order, fix the time and place for the hearing of the same, and cause reasonable
notice thereof to be given to the persons named in the petition. The court shall also
cause the order to be published once in a week for three 93) consecutive weeks in a
newspaper of general circulation in the province.
SEC. 5. Opposition.The civil registrar and any person having or claiming any
interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought may, within fifteen
(15) days from notice, file his opposition thereto.
Thus, the persons who must be made parties to a proceeding concerning the cancellation or
correction of an entry in the civil register are(1) the civil registrar, and (2) all persons who
have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby. Upon the filing of the petition, it
becomes the duty of the court to(1) issue an order fixing the time and place for the hearing
of the petition, and (2) cause the order for hearing to be published once a week for three (3)
consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province. The following are

likewise entitled to oppose the petition:--(1) the civil registrar, and (2) any person having or
claiming any interest under the entry whose cancellation or correction is sought.
If all these procedural requirements have been followed, a petition for correction and/or
cancellation of entries in the record of birth even if filed and conducted under Rule 108 of the
Revised Rules of Court can no longer be described as 'summary'. xxx" 12
It is true in the case at bar that the changes sought to be made by petitioner are not merely clerical
or harmless errors but substantial ones as they would affect the status of the marriage between
petitioner and Carlos Borbon, as well as the legitimacy of their son, Charles Christian. Changes of
such nature, however, are now allowed under Rule 108 in accordance with our ruling in Republic
vs. Valencia provided that the appropriate procedural requirements are complied with. The records
show that upon receipt of the petition, the trial court issued a notice of hearing setting the hearing on
June 26, 1997 at 8:30 in the morning at Room 118, Hall of Justice, Quezon City. The trial court
likewise ordered the publication of said notice once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a
newspaper of general circulation and its posting in selected places in Metro Manila. The notice
stated that the petitioner shall prove her petition during said hearing and all other persons having or
claiming any interest thereon shall also appear and show if there is any reason why the petition
should not be granted. Respondents Carlos Villena Borbon, the Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City
and the Solicitor General were all furnished with a copy of the notice of hearing together with a copy
of the petition. On June 26, 1997, the trial court issued a second order giving the petitioner an
opportunity to show compliance with the jurisdictional requirements and to present evidence during
the hearing set on July 23, 1997. The foregoing satisfy all the requirements of Rule 108 to make it an
adversary proceeding. It was therefore an error for the trial court to dismiss the petition motu
proprio without allowing the petitioner to present evidence to support her petition and all the other
persons who have an interest over the matter to oppose the same.
1wphi1.nt

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED and the Order dated August 25, 1997 of the RTC of
Quezon City, Branch 89, subject of the petition at bar is set aside. The case is REMANDED to the
court a quo for further proceedings.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., Kapu

Silverio vs. Republic, 537 SCRA 373 , October 19, 2007


Case Title : ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC
OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.Case Nature : PETITION for review on
certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals.
Syllabi Class : Change of Name|Clerical Error Law (RA 9048)|
Administrative Law|Jurisdictions|Sex Change|Words and Phrases|Statutory
Construction|Civil Register Law (Act 3753)|Marriage|Separation of Powers|
Judicial Legislation
Syllabi:
1. Change of Name; The State has an interest in the names borne by
individuals and entities for purposes of identification; A change of
name is a privilege, not a right.The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and entities
for purposes of identification. A change of name is a privilege, not a right.
Petitions for change of name are controlled by statutes. In this connection,
Article 376 of the Civil Code provides: ART. 376. No person can change his
name or surname without judicial authority.
2. Same; Same; Same; Same; The Court recognizes that there are people
whose preferences and orientation do not fit neatly into the commonly
recognized parameters of social convention and that, at least for them, life is
indeed an ordeal, but the remedies involve questions of public policy to be
addressed solely by the legislature, not by the courts.+
3. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; If the legislature intends to
confer on a person who has undergone sex reassignment the
privilege to change his name and sex to conform with his reassigned
sex, it has to enact legislation laying down the guidelines in turn
governing the conferment of that privilege; The Supreme Court cannot
enact a law where no law exists.To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions for change of first
name and for correction or change of entries in the civil registry, where they
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
on a person who has undergone sex reassignment the privilege to change
his name and sex to conform with his reassigned sex, it has to enact
legislation laying down the guidelines in turn governing the conferment of
that privilege. It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write a
protocol on when a person may be recognized as having successfully
changed his sex. However, this Court has no authority to fashion a law on
that matter, or on anything else. The Court cannot enact a law where no law
exists. It can only apply or interpret the written word of its co-equal branch
of government, Congress.

4. Same; Same; Same; Separation of Powers; Judicial


Legislation; Article 9 of the Civil Code which mandates that [n]o
judge or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the
silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the law is not a license for
courts to engage in judicial legislation; In our system of government, it
is for the legislature, should it choose to do so, to determine what guidelines
should govern the recognition of the effects of sex reassignment. It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that [n]o judge or
court 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
judicial legislation. The duty of the courts is to apply or interpret the law, not
to make or amend it. In our system of government, it is for the legislature,
should it choose to do so, to determine what guidelines should govern the
recognition of the effects of sex reassignment. The need for legislative
guidelines becomes particularly important in this case where the claims
asserted are statutebased.
5. Same; Same; Same; Marriage; To grant the changes in name and sex
sought by petitioner will substantially reconfigure and greatly alter the laws
on marriage and family relationsit will allow the union of a man with another man who has undergone sex
reassignment (a male-to-female post-operative transsexual).The changes
sought by petitioner will have serious and wide-ranging legal and public
policy consequences. First, even the trial court itself found that the petition
was but petitioners first step towards his eventual marriage to his male
fianc. However, marriage, one of the most sacred social institutions, is a
special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman. One of
its essential requisites is the legal capacity of the contracting parties who
must be a male and a female. To grant the changes sought by petitioner will
substantially reconfigure and greatly alter 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 post-operative transsexual).
Second, there are various laws which apply particularly to women such as
the provisions of the Labor Code on employment of women, certain felonies
under the Revised Penal Code and the presumption of survivorship in case of
calamities under Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, among others. These laws
underscore the public policy in relation to women which could be
substantially affected if petitioners petition were to be granted.
6. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Statutory Construction; When
words are not defined in a statute they are to be given their common
and ordinary meaning in the absence of a contrary legislative
intent; The words sex, male and female as used in the Civil
Register Law and laws concerning the civil registry (and even all
other laws) should therefore be understood in their common and

ordinary usage, there being no legislative intent to the contrary; Sex


is defined as the sum of peculiarities of structure and function that
distinguish a male from a female or the distinction between male
and female; The words male and female in everyday
understanding do not include persons who have undergone sex
reassignment; While a person may have succeeded in altering his body
and appearance through the intervention of modern surgery, no law
authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry for that reason. When words are not defined in a statute they are to be given their
common and ordinary meaning in the absence of a contrary legislative
intent. The words sex, male and female as used in the Civil Register
Law and laws concerning the civil registry (and even all other laws) should
therefore be understood in their common and ordinary usage, there being
no legislative 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 female or the distinction between male and female. Female is the
sex that produces ova or bears young and male is the sex that has organs
to produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova. Thus, the words male and
female in everyday understanding do not include persons who have
undergone sex reassignment. Furthermore, words that are employed in a
statute which had at the time a well-known meaning are presumed to have
been used in that sense unless the context compels to the contrary. Since
the statutory language of the Civil Register Law was enacted in the early
1900s and remains unchanged, it cannot be argued that the term sex as
used then is something alterable through surgery or something that allows a
post-operative male-to-female transsexual to be included in the category
female. For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in altering
his body and appearance through the intervention of modern surgery, no
law authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry for that
reason. Thus, there is no legal basis for his petition for the correction or
change of the entries in his birth certificate.
7. Same; Same; Same; Same; Civil Register Law (Act 3753); Under
the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical record of the facts as
they existed at the time of birththus, the sex of a person is determined at birth, visually done by the birth
attendant (the physician or midwife) by examining the genitals of the infant;
Considering that there is no law legally recognizing sex reassignment, the
determination of a persons sex made at the time of his or her birth, if not
attended by error, is immutable.Under the Civil Register Law, a birth
certificate is a historical record of the facts as they existed at the time of
birth. Thus, the sex of a person is determined at birth, visually done by the
birth attendant (the physician or midwife) by examining the genitals of the
infant. Considering that there is no law legally recognizing sex reassignment,

the determination of a persons sex made at the time of his or her birth, if
not attended by error, is immutable.
8. Same; Same; Same; Same; A persons sex is an essential factor in
marriage and family relations+
9. Same; Same; Same; Same; Status refers to the circumstances
affecting the legal situation (that is, the sum total of capacities and
incapacities) of a person in view of his age, nationality and his family
membership.+
10. Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Statutory
Construction; No reasonable interpretation of Art. 407 of the Civil
Code can justify the conclusion that it covers the correction on the
ground of sex reassignment; To correct simply means to make or
set aright; to remove the faults or error from while to change means to
replace something with something else of the same kind or with something
that serves as a substitute.The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of the
Civil Code include even those that occur after birth. However, no reasonable
interpretation of the provision can justify the conclusion that it covers the
correction on the ground of sex reassignment. To correct simply means to
make or set aright; to remove the faults or error from while to change
means to replace something with something else of the same kind or with
something that serves as a substitute. The birth certificate of petitioner
contained no error. All entries therein, including those corresponding to his
first name and sex, were all correct. No correction is necessary.
11. Same; Same; Sex Change; No law allows the change of entry in
the birth certificate as to sex on the ground of sex
reassignment; Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving
the change of sex is not a mere clerical or typographical error it is a substantial change for which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of
the Rules of Court.Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a clerical or
typographical error is: SECTION 2. Definition of Terms.As used in this
Act, the following terms shall mean: x x x x x x x x x (3) Clerical or
typographical error refers to a mistake committed in the performance of
clerical work in writing, copying, transcribing or typing an entry in the civil
register that is harmless and innocuous, such as misspelled name or
misspelled place of birth or the like, which is visible to the eyes or obvious to
the understanding, and can be corrected or changed only by reference to
other existing record or records: Provided, however, That no correction must
involve the change of nationality, age, status or sex of the petitioner.
(emphasis supplied) Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry
involving the change of sex is not a mere clerical or typographical error. It is
a substantial change for which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the

Rules of Court. The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and
correctable under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court are those provided in
Articles 407 and 408 of the Civil Code.
12. Same; Same; A petition in the trial court in so far as it prays for
change of first name is not within that courts primary jurisdiction as the
petition should be filed with the local civil registrar concerned, namely,
where the birth certificate is kept.The petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for the change of
petitioners first name was not within that courts primary jurisdiction as the
petition should have been filed with the local civil registrar concerned,
assuming it could be legally done. It was an improper remedy because the
proper remedy was administrative, that is, that provided under RA 9048. It
was also filed in the wrong venue as the proper venue was in the Office of
the Civil Registrar of Manila where his birth certificate is kept. More
importantly, it had no merit since the use of his true and official name does
not prejudice him at all. For all these reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly
dismissed petitioners petition in so far as the change of his first name was
concerned.
13. Same; Same; Same; Same; Sex Change; A change of name does not
alter ones legal capacity or civil statusRA 9048 does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex
reassignment. Petitioners basis in praying for the change of his first name
was his sex reassignment. He intended to make his first name compatible
with the sex he thought he transformed himself into through surgery.
However, a change of name does not alter ones legal capacity or civil
status. RA 9048 does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of
sex reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion, changing petitioners first
name for his declared purpose may only create grave complications in the
civil registry and the public interest. Before a person can legally change his
given name, he must present proper or reasonable cause or any compelling
reason justifying such change. In addition, he must show that he will be
prejudiced by the use of his true and official name. In this case, he failed to
show, or even allege, any prejudice that he might suffer as a result of using
his true and official name.
14. Same; Clerical Error Law (RA 9048); Administrative
Law; Jurisdictions; RA 9048 now governs the change of first name,
and vests the power and authority to entertain petitions for change
of first name to the city or municipal civil registrar or consul general
concerned; The intent 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 Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of

Court, until and unless an administrative petition for change of name is first
filed and subsequently deniedin sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating change of first name
are primarily administrative in nature, not judicial.RA 9048 now governs
the change of first name. It vests the power and authority to entertain
petitions for change of first name to the city or municipal civil registrar or
consul general concerned. Under the law, therefore, jurisdiction over
applications for change of first name is now primarily lodged with the
aforementioned administrative officers. The intent 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 Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of
the Rules of Court, until and unless an administrative petition for change of
name is first filed and subsequently denied. It likewise lays down the
corresponding venue, form and procedure. In sum, the remedy and the
proceedings regulating change of first name are primarily administrative in
nature, not judicial.
G.R. No. 174689

October 22, 2007

ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, petitioner,


vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; He created them male and
female. (Genesis 5:1-2)
Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed planted by Bathala and she heard 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. All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit open. Out
came two human beings; one was a male and the other was a female. Amihan named the
man "Malakas" (Strong) and the woman "Maganda" (Beautiful). (The Legend of Malakas and
Maganda)
When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In particular, does the law recognize the
changes made by a physician using scalpel, drugs and counseling with regard to a persons sex?
May a person successfully petition for a change of name and sex appearing in the birth certificate to
reflect the result of a sex reassignment surgery?
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 Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The
petition, docketed as SP Case No. 02-105207, impleaded the civil registrar of Manila as respondent.

Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the City of Manila to the spouses Melecio
Petines Silverio and Anita Aquino Dantes on April 4, 1962. His name was registered as "Rommel
Jacinto Dantes Silverio" in his certificate of live birth (birth certificate). His sex was registered as
"male."
He further alleged that he is a male transsexual, that is, "anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts
as a female" and that he had always identified himself with girls since childhood. 1 Feeling trapped in
a mans body, he consulted several doctors in the United States. He underwent psychological
examination, hormone treatment and breast augmentation. His attempts to transform himself to a
"woman" culminated on January 27, 2001 when he underwent sex reassignment surgery 2 in
Bangkok, Thailand. He was thereafter examined by Dr. Marcelino Reysio-Cruz, Jr., a plastic and
reconstruction surgeon in the Philippines, who issued a medical certificate attesting that he
(petitioner) had in fact undergone the procedure.
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 from "Rommel Jacinto" to "Mely," and his sex from
"male" to "female."
An order setting the case for initial hearing was published in the Peoples 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 Solicitor General (OSG) and the civil registrar of Manila.
On the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional requirements were established. No opposition to the
petition was made.
During trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also presented Dr. Reysio-Cruz, Jr. and his American
fianc, Richard P. Edel, as witnesses.
On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision4 in favor of petitioner. Its relevant portions read:
Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or judgment or any infraction thereof
or for any unlawful motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth records compatible
with his present sex.
The sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is entitled to the relief asked for.
The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative.
Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that granting the petition would be more in consonance
with the principles of justice and equity. With his sexual [re-assignment], petitioner, who has
always felt, thought and acted like a woman, now possesses the physique of a female.
Petitioners misfortune to be trapped in a mans body is not his own doing and should not be
in any way taken against him.
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 contrary, granting the petition would bring the
much-awaited happiness on the part of the petitioner and her [fianc] and the realization of
their dreams.

Finally, no evidence was presented to show any cause or ground to deny the present petition
despite due notice and publication thereof. Even the State, through the [OSG] has not seen
fit to interpose any [o]pposition.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered GRANTING the petition and ordering the Civil
Registrar of Manila to change the entries appearing in the Certificate of Birth of [p]etitioner,
specifically for petitioners first name from "Rommel Jacinto" to MELY and petitioners gender
from "Male" to FEMALE. 5
On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), thru the OSG, filed a petition for
certiorari in the Court of Appeals.6 It alleged that there is no law allowing the change of entries in the
birth certificate by reason of sex alteration.
On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals7 rendered a decision8 in favor of the Republic. It ruled
that the trial courts decision lacked legal basis. There is no law allowing the change of either name
or sex in the certificate of birth on the ground of sex reassignment through surgery. Thus, the Court
of Appeals granted the Republics petition, set aside the decision of the trial court and ordered the
dismissal of SP Case No. 02-105207. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it was
denied.9 Hence, this petition.
Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his name and sex in his birth certificate is allowed
under Articles 407 to 413 of the Civil Code, Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court and RA 9048. 10
The petition lacks merit.
A Persons First Name Cannot Be Changed On the Ground of Sex Reassignment
Petitioner invoked his sex reassignment as the ground for his petition for change of name and sex.
As found by the trial court:
Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or judgment or any infraction thereof
or for any unlawful motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth records
compatible with his present sex. (emphasis supplied)
Petitioner believes that after having acquired the physical features of a female, he became entitled to
the civil registry changes sought. We disagree.
The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and entities for 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 connection, Article 376 of the Civil Code provides:
ART. 376. No person can change his name or surname without judicial authority.
This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048 (Clerical Error Law). In particular, Section 1 of
RA 9048 provides:
SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or Typographical Error and Change of First Name
or Nickname. No entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial
order, except for clerical or typographical errors and change of first name or nickname which
can be corrected or changed by the concerned city or municipal civil registrar or consul

general in accordance with the provisions of this Act and its implementing rules and
regulations.
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 municipal civil registrar or consul general concerned.
Under the law, therefore, jurisdiction over applications for change of first name is now primarily
lodged with the aforementioned administrative officers. The intent 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 Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court, until and unless an administrative
petition for change of name is first filed and subsequently denied. 15 It likewise lays down the
corresponding venue,16form17 and procedure. In sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating
change of first name are primarily administrative in nature, not judicial.
RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which change of first name may be allowed:
SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or Nickname. The petition for change of
first name or nickname may be allowed in any of the following cases:
(1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or
extremely difficult to write or pronounce;
(2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the
petitioner and he has been publicly known by that first name or nickname in the community;
or
(3) The change will avoid confusion.
Petitioners basis in praying for the change of his first name was his sex reassignment. He intended
to make his first name compatible with the sex he thought he transformed himself into through
surgery. However, a change of name does not alter ones legal capacity or civil status. 18 RA 9048
does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment. Rather than avoiding
confusion, changing petitioners first name for his declared purpose may only create grave
complications in the civil registry and the public interest.
Before a person can legally change his given name, he must present proper 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 official name.20 In this case, he failed to show, or even allege, any
prejudice that he might suffer as a result of using his true and official name.
In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it prayed for the change of petitioners first name was
not within that courts primary jurisdiction as the petition should have been filed with the local civil
registrar concerned, assuming it could be legally done. It was an improper remedy because the
proper remedy was administrative, that is, that provided under RA 9048. It was also filed in the
wrong venue as the proper venue was in the Office of the Civil Registrar of Manila where his birth
certificate is kept. More importantly, it had no merit since the use of his true and official name does
not prejudice him at all. For all these reasons, the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed petitioners
petition in so far as the change of his first name was concerned.
No Law Allows The Change of Entry In The Birth Certificate As To Sex On the Ground of Sex
Reassignment

The determination of a persons sex appearing in his birth certificate is a legal issue and the court
must look to the statutes.21 In this connection, Article 412 of the Civil Code provides:
ART. 412. No entry in the civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial order.
Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this provision was amended by RA 9048 in so far
as clerical or typographical errors are involved. The correction or change of such matters can now be
made through 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 the correction of such errors. 22 Rule
108 now applies only to substantial changes and corrections in entries in the civil register.23
Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a "clerical or typographical error" is:
SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. As used in this Act, the following terms shall mean:
xxx

xxx

xxx

(3) "Clerical or typographical error" refers to a mistake committed in the performance


of clerical work in writing, copying, transcribing or typing an entry in the civil register
that is harmless and innocuous, such as misspelled name or misspelled place of
birth or the like, which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding, and can
be corrected or changed only by reference to other existing record or
records:Provided, however, That no correction must involve the change
of nationality, age, status or sex of the petitioner. (emphasis supplied)
Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry involving the change of sex is not a mere clerical or
typographical error. It is a substantial change for which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court.
The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code and correctable under Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court are those provided in Articles 407 and 408 of the Civil Code:24
ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees concerning the civil status of persons shall be
recorded in the civil register.
ART. 408. The following shall be entered in the civil register:
(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal separations; (5) annulments of marriage; (6)
judgments declaring marriages void from the beginning; (7) legitimations; (8) adoptions; (9)
acknowledgments of natural children; (10) naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery of
citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14) judicial determination of filiation; (15) voluntary
emancipation of a minor; and (16) changes of name.
The acts, events or factual errors contemplated under Article 407 of the Civil Code include even
those that occur after birth.25 However, no reasonable interpretation of the provision can justify the
conclusion that it covers the correction on the ground of sex reassignment.
To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to remove the faults or error from" while to change
means "to replace something with something else of the same kind or with something that serves as
a substitute."26 The birth certificate of petitioner contained no error. All entries therein, including those
corresponding to his first name and sex, were all correct. No correction is necessary.

Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in the civil registry of certain acts (such as
legitimations, acknowledgments of illegitimate children and naturalization), events (such as births,
marriages, naturalization and deaths) and judicial decrees (such as legal separations, annulments of
marriage, declarations of nullity of marriages, adoptions, naturalization, loss or recovery of
citizenship, civil interdiction, judicial determination of filiation and changes of name). These acts,
events and judicial decrees produce legal consequences that touch upon the legal capacity, status
and nationality of a person. Their effects are expressly sanctioned by the laws. In contrast, sex
reassignment is not among those acts or events mentioned in Article 407. Neither is it recognized
nor even mentioned by any law, expressly or impliedly.
"Status" refers to the circumstances affecting the legal situation (that is, the sum total of capacities
and incapacities) of a person in view of his age, nationality and his family membership. 27
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 own will, such as his being
legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not. The comprehensive term status
include such matters as the beginning and end of legal personality, capacity to have rights in
general, family relations, and its various aspects, such as birth, legitimation, adoption,
emancipation, marriage, divorce, and sometimes even succession. 28 (emphasis supplied)
A persons sex is an essential factor in marriage and family relations. It is a part of a persons legal
capacity and civil status. In this connection, Article 413 of the Civil Code provides:
ART. 413. All other matters pertaining to the registration of civil status shall be governed by
special laws.
But there is no such special law in the Philippines governing sex reassignment and its effects. This is
fatal to petitioners cause.
Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register Law) provides:
SEC. 5. Registration and certification of births. The declaration of the 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 registration of a birth in the civil register. Such
declaration shall be exempt from documentary stamp tax and shall be sent to the local civil
registrar not later than thirty days after the birth, by the physician or midwife in attendance at
the birth or by either parent of the newborn child.
In such declaration, the person above mentioned shall certify to the following facts: (a) date
and hour of birth; (b) sex and nationality of infant; (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 infant was born; and (f) such other data as may be required in the
regulations to be issued.
xxx

xxx

xxx (emphasis supplied)

Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical record of the facts as they existed at
the time of birth.29Thus, the sex of a person is determined at birth, visually done by the birth
attendant (the physician or midwife) by examining the genitals of the infant. Considering that there is
no law legally recognizing sex reassignment, the determination of a persons sex made at the time of
his or her birth, if not attended by error,30 is immutable.31

When words are not defined in a statute they are to be given their common and ordinary meaning in
the absence of a contrary legislative intent. The words "sex," "male" and "female" as used in the Civil
Register Law and laws concerning the civil registry (and even all other laws) should therefore be
understood in their common and ordinary usage, there being no legislative 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 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 organs to produce spermatozoa for
fertilizing ova."35 Thus, the words "male" and "female" in everyday understanding do not include
persons who have undergone sex reassignment. Furthermore, "words that are employed in a statute
which had at the time a well-known meaning are presumed to have been used in that sense unless
the context compels to the contrary."36 Since the statutory language of the Civil Register Law was
enacted in the early 1900s and remains unchanged, it cannot be argued that the term "sex" as used
then is something alterable through surgery or something that allows a post-operative male-tofemale transsexual to be included in the category "female."
For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in altering his body and appearance
through the intervention of modern surgery, no law authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the
civil registry for that reason. Thus, there is no legal basis for his petition for the correction or change
of the entries in his birth certificate.
Neither May Entries in the Birth Certificate As to First Name or Sex Be Changed on the
Ground of Equity
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 would cause no harm, injury or prejudice to anyone.
This is wrong.
The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wide-ranging legal and public policy
consequences. First, even the trial court itself found that the petition was but petitioners first step
towards his eventual marriage to his male fianc. However, marriage, one of the most sacred social
institutions, is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman.37 One of its
essential requisites is the legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a
female.38 To grant the changes sought by petitioner will substantially reconfigure and greatly alter 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 post-operative transsexual). Second, there are
various laws which apply particularly to women such as the provisions of the Labor Code on
employment of women,39 certain felonies under the Revised Penal Code40 and the presumption of
survivorship in case of calamities under Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, 41 among others. These laws
underscore the public policy in relation to women which could be substantially affected if petitioners
petition were to be granted.
It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates that "[n]o judge or court 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 judicial legislation. The duty of the courts is to apply or interpret the law, not
to make or amend it.
In our system of government, it is for the legislature, should it choose to do so, to determine what
guidelines should govern the recognition of the effects of sex reassignment. The need for legislative
guidelines becomes particularly important in this case where the claims asserted are statute-based.
To reiterate, the statutes define who may file petitions for change of first name and for correction or
change of entries in the civil registry, where they 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
on a person who has undergone sex reassignment the privilege to change his name and sex to
conform with his reassigned sex, it has to enact legislation laying down the guidelines in turn
governing the conferment of that privilege.
It might be theoretically possible for this Court to write a protocol on when a person may be
recognized as having successfully changed his sex. However, this Court has no authority to fashion
a law on that matter, or on anything else. The Court cannot enact a law where no law exists. It can
only apply or interpret the written word of its co-equal branch of government, Congress.
Petitioner pleads that "[t]he unfortunates are also entitled to a life of happiness, contentment and
[the] realization of their dreams." No argument about that. The Court recognizes that there are
people whose preferences and orientation do not fit neatly into the commonly recognized
parameters of social convention and that, at least for them, life is indeed an ordeal. However, the
remedies petitioner seeks involve questions of public policy to be addressed solely by the
legislature, not by the courts.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, C.J., Ch

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