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Rules on Change of Name

Rule 103 and Rule 108 differentiated .

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON COSETENG-MAGPAYO (A.K.A. JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON MARQUEZ-LIM COSETENG), G.R. No. 189476, February 2, 2011

“x x x.

A person can effect a change of name under Rule 103 (CHANGE OF NAME) using valid and meritorious grounds including (a) when the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (b) when the change results as a legal consequence such as legitimation; (c) when the change will avoid confusion; (d) when one has continuously used and been known since childhood by a Filipino name, and was unaware of alien parentage; (e) a sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudicing anybody; and (f) when the surname causes embarrassment and there is no showing that the desired change of name was for a fraudulent purpose or that the change of name would prejudice public interest.[1] Respondent’s reason for changing his name cannot be considered as one of, or analogous to, recognized grounds, however.

The present petition must be differentiated from Alfon v. Republic of the Philippines.[2] In Alfon, the Court allowed the therein petitioner, Estrella Alfon, to use the name that she had been known since childhood in order to avoid confusion. Alfon did not deny her legitimacy, however. She merely sought to use the surname of her mother which she had been using since childhood. Ruling in her favor, the Court held that she was lawfully entitled to use her mother’s surname, adding that the avoidance of confusion was justification enough to allow her to do so. In the present case, however, respondent denies his legitimacy.

The change being sought in respondent’s petition goes so far as to affect his legal status in relation to his parents. It seeks to change his legitimacy to that of illegitimacy. Rule 103 then would not suffice to grant respondent’s supplication.

Labayo-Rowe v. Republic[3] categorically holds that “changes which may affect the civil status from legitimate to illegitimate . . . are substantial and controversial alterations which can only be allowed after appropriate adversary proceedings . . .”

Since respondent’s desired change affects his civil status from legitimate to illegitimate, Rule 108 applies. It reads:

SECTION 1. Who may file petition.—Any person interested in any act, event, order or decree concerning the civil status of persons which has been recorded in the civil register, may file a verified petition for the cancellation or correction of any entry relating thereto, with the [RTC] of the province where the corresponding civil registry is located.

x x x x

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 a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province. (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

Rule 108 clearly directs that a petition which concerns one’s civil status should be filed in the civil registry in which the entry is sought to be cancelled or corrected – that of Makati in the present case, and “all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby” should be made parties to the proceeding.

As earlier stated, however, the petition of respondent was filed not in Makati where his birth certificate was registered but in Quezon City. And as the above-mentioned title of the petition filed by respondent before the RTC shows, neither the civil registrar of Makati nor his father and mother were made parties thereto.

X x x.”

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