Why you need to take a look at your birth certificate now

Have you ever gone over your birth certificate?

Or do you even have a copy of it?

If you still do not have one, then it is high time that you get a copy of it.

And as soon as you have it, you need to take a look at all its contents.

Do it carefully.

Find out if all the details entered are correct.

If all are correct, then you have nothing to worry.

You can sleep soundly at night and enjoy the day the moment you wake up.

But if there are incorrect details, then you need to consult a lawyer and have them corrected at once.

Do it now and while you still find no need to use it.

You may wonder why I am urging you to take these steps right away.

It is because, if you will ignore them altogether and do nothing now, you will surely encounter serious and undesirable consequences the moment you find the need to use it.

I know of several horror stories related to the failure of certain individuals to take the necessary steps in order to have the erroneous entries in their birth certificates corrected at once.

Some are even based on actual cases I handled in the past.

One perfect example was the case of a certain male client.

When he was in his twenties, a petition was filed in the United States (US) so he and his siblings could go there as legal immigrants.

He was so excited because he was about to fulfill his lifelong dream of residing permanently in the US legally.

But when he obtained a copy of his birth certificate as part of the requirements, he got the shock of his life.

His excitement had suddenly turned into disappointment.

Why?

Because he discovered that his first name in his birth certificate was different from what he has been known for and was using since his childhood years.

Worse, it was not just a totally different name but was in fact a female first name.

To make matters even worse, he also found out that his registered gender was “female” instead of “male.”

I am sure you already know by now what happened next.

Unlike his siblings, the processing of his petition had been delayed and his dream of living in the US was put on hold.

But what made it even more disappointing was that the delay was not just in months but in years.

He was in his fifties when he had finally fulfilled his dream of living permanently in the US legally.

This was of course only after he had caused the correction of the erroneous entries in his birth certificate with the help of a lawyer, who happened to be me.

You can definitely avoid this from happening to you.

How?

By going over your birth certificate now.

If you still have none, then get a copy of it and take a careful look at all its contents right away.

This is for you to find out if it has incorrect details in it.

If it has none, then such is indeed a great news to hear.

But if it has even one, then you need to go to a lawyer and have it corrected at once.

I am sure you will thank yourself profusely one day for heeding my advice.

References:

  • Act No. 3753 otherwise known as the “Civil Registry Law”
  • Republic Act No. 9048
  • Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9048 (Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2001)
  • Republic Act No. 10172
  • Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 10172 (Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2012)
  • Rule 130, Section 2 (d) of the Rules of Court
  • Rule 103 of the Rules of Court
  • Rule 108 of the Rules of Court
  • Zapanta vs. Civil Registrar of the City of Davao, September 26, 1994
  • Article 407 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
  • Article 408 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
  • Article 410 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
  • Article 411 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
  • Article 412 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
  • Article 376 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
  • Article 25 of the Family Code of the Philippines
  • Emperatriz Labayo-Rowe vs. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. L-53417, December 8, 1998
  • Republic of the Philippines vs. Gladys C. Labrador, G.R. No. 132980, March 25, 1999
  • Republic of the Philippines vs. Carlito I. Kho, Michael Kho, Mercy Nona Kho-Fortun, Heddy Moira Kho-Serrano, Kevin Dogmoc Kho (Minor), and Kelly Dogmoc Kho (Minor), G.R. No. 170340, June 29, 2007
  • Republic of the Philippines vs. Merlyn Mercadera through her Attorney-in-Fact, Evelyn M. Oga, G.R. No. 186027, December 8, 2010
  • In the matter of the Petition for Correction of Entry (Change of Family Name in the Birth Certificate of Felipe C. Almojuela as appearing in the records of the National Statistics Office), Felipe C. Almojuela vs. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. 211724, August 24, 2016

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The Iron Curtain Rule

By law, illegitimate children are considered compulsory or legal heirs of their parents.

This means they have the right to inherit from them with or without a Last Will and Testament.

Children are of course considered illegitimate if they are conceived and born outside a valid marriage.

But do they also have the right to inherit from the legitimate children and relatives of their parents?

If it is an intestate succession, that is, when a person dies without a will, they have no right to inherit from the legitimate children and relatives of their parents.

The legitimate children and relatives of their parents in turn also have no right to inherit from them.

This is in consonance with what is known in law as “The Iron Curtain Rule,” which bars illegitimate children from inheriting from the legitimate children and relatives of their parents and vice-versa.

It was made part of our laws in order to avoid further grounds of resentment between the legitimate and illegitimate family given the intervening antagonism and incompatibility that is presumed to exist between them.

But the rule finds no application in a testate succession, that is, when a person dies with a will.

This is so because it is based only on the presumed and not on the express will of the decedent.

Bear in mind that it is the express will of the decedent that will matter most and will be respected, if not followed, in a testate succession.

References:

Article 992 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, Article 165 of the Family Code of the Philippines, Cresenciano Leonardo vs. Court of Appeals, Maria Cailles, James Bracewell and Rural Bank of Paranaque, Inc., G.R. No. L-51263, February 28, 1983, Anselma Diaz, guardian of Victor, Rodrigo, Anselmina and Miguel, all surnamed Santero, and Felixberta Pacursa, guardian of Federico Santero, et. al. vs. Intermediate Appellate Court and Felisa Pamuti Jardin, G.R. No. L-66574, February 21, 1990, Olivia S. Pascual and Hermes S. Pascual vs. Esperanza C. Pascual-Bautista, Manuel C. Pascual, Jose C. Pascual, Susana C. Pascual-Bautista, Erlinda C. Pascual, Wenceslao C. Pascual, Jr., Intestate Estate of Eleuterio T. Pascual, Avelino Pascual, Isoceles Pascual, Leida Pascual-Martines, Virginia Pascual-Ner, Nona Pascual-Fernando, Octovio Pascual, Geranaia Pascual-Dubert, and the Honorable Presiding Judge Manuel S. Padolina of Br. 162, RTC, Pasig, Metro Manila, G.R. No. 84240, March 25, 1992, Benigno Manuel, Liberato Manuel, Lorenzo Manuel, Placida Manuel, Madrona Manuel, Esperanza Manuel, Agapita Manuel, Basilisa Manuel, Emilia Manuel and Numeriana Manuel vs. Hon. Nicodemo T. Ferrer, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 37, Lingayen, Pangasinan, Modesta Baltazar and Estanislaoa Manuel, G.R. No. 117246, August 21, 1995, In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay; Emilio A.M. Suntay III vs. Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay, G.R. No. 183053, June 16, 2010.

 

 

Right to remarry in the Philippines of a divorced Filipino in a mixed marriage

Let us say you met a foreign citizen. You eventually fell in love with each other and later got married.

But years after, your marriage turned sour. Despite all efforts exerted, you and your foreign spouse failed to save it.

He soon obtained a divorce decree abroad. And it capacitated him to remarry, which he later did.

You now find yourself in a very absurd and unfair situation.

Why?

Because you remain married to him under our laws and yet he is no longer married to you.

To avoid this kind of situation, a provision was added to our laws to the effect that a Filipino in a mixed marriage is allowed to get married again in the Philippines once a divorce is obtained abroad that capacitates her foreign spouse to remarry.

By a mixed marriage, I am of course referring to a marriage between a Filipino and a foreign citizen.

But remember that your right to remarry in the Philippines as a divorced Filipino in a mixed marriage is not automatic.

Why?

Because you need to go to a Philippine court first and file a petition to have the foreign divorced decree recognized.

Bear in mind that you will only be allowed to get married again if you already have such court recognition with you.

[References: Second Paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines, Grace J. Garcia, a.k.a. Grace J. Garcia-Recio vs. Rederick A. Recio, G.R. No. 138322, October 2, 2001, Republic of the Philippines vs. Cipriano Orbecido III, G.R. No. 154380, October 5, 2005, Gerbert R. Corpuz vs. Daisylyn Sto. Tomas and The Solicitor General, G.R. No. 186571,  August 11, 2010, Edelina T. Ando vs. Department of Foreign Affairs, G.R. No. 195432, August 27, 2014, and Republic of the Philippines vs. Marelyn Tanedo Manalo, G.R. No. 221029, April 24, 2018] 

Correct middle initials for compound middle names

Are you one of those with compound middle names?

By compound middle names, I am of course referring to those middle names such as Dela Cruz, Quintos Deles, Villa Roman and the like.

If you are one of them, what then is your correct middle initial?

Is it the first letter of your middle name?

Or is it some other letter or letters?

In its website, the Philippine Statistics Authority or PSA gave the answer to these questions.

The PSA said in essence that it is the first letter of your middle name that is your correct middle initial.

For instance, if your middle name is Dela Cruz, your middle initial will then be “D.”

If yours is Quintos Deles, it will then be “Q.”

And if it is Villa Roman, it will then be “V.”

[Reference: psa.gov.ph]

Can a married woman drop the surname of her husband and use her maiden name and surname again?

Surname of a married woman

Image source: weclipart.com

Unknown to many, a married woman has no legal obligation to use the surname of her husband.

This means she can continue using her maiden name and surname even after the wedding.

Among the reasons for this is there is no law requiring a married woman to use the surname of her husband.

Neither is there a law prohibiting her from using her maiden name and surname.

Three options

But if she wants to use the surname of her husband, a married woman has by law three options on how to use it.

She may use either:

(1) Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname, or

(2) Her maiden first name and her husband’s surname, or

(3) Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.”

Illustration

To illustrate, let us say a woman named Maria Clara marries a man named Crisostomo Ibarra.

If Maria Clara wants to use the surname of her husband, she has three options on how to use it.

She may use either:

(1) Maria Clara Ibarra, or

(2) Maria Ibarra, or

(3) Mrs. Crisostomo Ibarra.

When the use of “Mrs.” is inappropriate

It is, however, inappropriate for her to use “Mrs. Maria Clara Ibarra” or “Mrs. Maria Ibarra.”

This is because given that the prefix “Mrs.” is an abbreviation of the word Mistress, “Mrs. Maria Clara Ibarra” would then mean Mistress of Maria Clara Ibarra, while “Mrs. Maria Ibarra” would mean Mistress of Maria Ibarra.

When “Mrs.” should be enclosed in parentheses

But if she really wants to add the prefix “Mrs.” to her name, she should enclose it in parentheses.

That prefix, enclosed in parentheses, would then merely be descriptive of her marital status.

Consequently, she may use “(Mrs.) Maria Clara Ibarra” or “(Mrs.) Maria Ibarra.”

It is, however, acceptable for her to use “Mrs. Ibarra,” because this falls under Option No. 3.

Option not a duty

In a decided case, the Supreme Court made it clear that the use of the surname of the husband is a mere option and not a duty on the part of a married woman.

She is consequently allowed to use not only the surname of her husband in any of the ways given by law, but also her maiden name and surname upon marriage.

She is not prohibited from continuously using her maiden name and surname once she is married.

This is because when a woman marries, she does not change her name, but only her civil status.

This interpretation is in consonance with the principle that surnames indicate descent.

Right to drop the surname of the husband

For similar reasons, a married woman who opted to use the surname of her husband at first can later drop it and use her maiden name and surname again.

Besides, save for a few instances, there is no law prohibiting a married woman from dropping the surname of her husband and resuming the use of her maiden name and surname.

Philippine Passport

But it is different when it comes to Philippine passports.

By law, once a married woman starts using the surname of her husband in her passport, she can no longer drop it and resume the use of her maiden name and surname in it, which is considered superior to all other official documents.

This is of course true only while her marriage still exists.

Legal separation

It is also different in case of legal separation, where marital bonds are not severed.

By law, a married woman is required to continue using the name and surname she used before her legal separation with her husband. And this holds true even if she is the innocent spouse.

For instance, if prior to her legal separation with Crisostomo Ibarra, Maria Clara used the name and surname Maria Ibarra, she is required to continue using it even after her legal separation. And this holds true even if she is the innocent spouse.

[References: Articles 370 and 372 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, Persons (2000 Edition) By Dean Ernesto L. Pineda, Civil Code of the Philippines Annotated, Fourteenth Edition (1998), Volume One (Persons and Family Relations) By Edgardo L. Paras, Article 63 of the Family Code of the Philippines, and Laperal v. Republic (6 SCRA 357), Maria Virginia V. Remo vs. The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs (G.R. No. 169202, March 5, 2010), Section 5(d) of RA 8239, Re: Request to Revert to Use of Maiden Name/Petition for Review of Vallar, Rommela B., (Civil Service Resolution No. 101203, June 15, 2010), Hatima C. Yasin vs. The Honorable Judge SHARIA’A District Court (G.R. No. 949986, February 23, 1995, Article 376 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, Ng Yao Siong v. Republic (16 SCRA 483 [1066], Article 408 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, Philippine Commission on Women Memorandum Circular No. 2016-07 (To: All Government Departments including Attached Agencies, Bureaus and Offices; State Universities and Colleges (SUCs); Government Owned and/or Controlled Corporations (GOCCs); Other Government Instrumentalities, Private Institutions and All Other Concerned/Subject: Allowing Married Women to Retain and Use their Maiden Name in lieu of their Husband’s Surname in accordance with Existing Laws and Pertinent Jurisprudence/Date: 12 October 2016), Philippine Passport Act of 1996 (RA 8239), In the matter of the change of name of Jesus Ng Yao Siong. Jesus Ng Yao Siong vs. Republic of the Philippines (G.R. No. L-20306, March 31, 1996), Article 408 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, Article 376 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, Hatima C. Yasin, represented by her Attorney-in-Fact, Hadji Hasan S. Centi vs. The Honorable Judge Shari’a District Court Third Shari’a Judicial District, Zamboanga City (G.R. No. 94986, February 23, 1995), Rule 103 of the Rules of Court, Article 376 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, and Article 371 (2) of the Civil Code of the Philippines, Article 372 of the Civil Code of the Philippines]

 

Why we need to know the law

Image source: slideshare.net

Have you ever heard of the phrase Ignorantia Legis Non Excusat?

It refers to a Latin legal maxim, which literally stands for “ignorance of the law is not an excuse.”

Like in other countries, we also follow this maxim.

In fact, it was even made part of our laws.

And you will find it in Article 3 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which in turn says, “Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith.”

But aside from its literal meaning, we also need to know the broader meaning of this maxim.

Knowing its broader meaning is of course essential given the legal effect it carries with it.

Remember that because of this maxim, we are conclusively presumed to know the law.

And so if you broke the law, you cannot escape liability by claiming you do not know it.

This holds true even if you later proved you really do not know it.

Now this gives us the simple yet broader meaning of the maxim, which as stated was made part of our laws.

And most important of all, it tells us why we all need to know the law at all times.

[References: Article 3 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, THELAW.com and Pages 15-16 of The Law on Obligations and Contracts (2014) by Hector S. De Leon and Hector M. De Leon, Jr]

Effect of mere reappearance of the absent spouse on the subsequent marriage

Bigamous Subsequent Marriage

Image source: youtube.com

Our laws allow a married individual to marry again legally if the following essential requisites are present:

(1) The prior spouse has been absent for four consecutive years (or two consecutive years if it falls within any of the instances when the four-year period may be reduced to two years);

(2) The spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already dead;

(3) There must be a summary proceeding for the declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse; and,

(4) There is a court declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse.

Known as “Bigamous Subsequent Marriage,” such marriage, though bigamous in nature, as its name suggests, is valid.

And the spouse present may not be held criminally liable for bigamy.

Effect of mere reappearance on the subsequent marriage

But what happens to the subsequent marriage if the absent spouse later reappears?

Will the mere reappearance terminate such marriage?

The answer is NO.

Mere reappearance of the absent spouse will not terminate the subsequent marriage.

And this holds true even if the spouses in such marriage are already aware of it.

Termination of the subsequent marriage by reappearance subject to conditions

Why? Because by law the termination of the subsequent marriage by reappearance is subject to the following conditions:

(1) The non-existence of a judgment annulling the previous marriage or declaring it void;

(2) Recording in the civil registry of the residence of the parties to the subsequent marriage of the sworn statement of the fact and circumstances of reappearance (affidavit of reappearance);

(3) Due notice to the spouses in the subsequent marriage of the fact of reappearance; and,

(4) The fact of reappearance must either be undisputed or judicially determined.

This means the reappearance of the absent spouse will terminate the subsequent marriage only when all these conditions are present.

Instances when the subsequent marriage will still exist even with reappearance

It follows then that the subsequent marriage will still exist even with the reappearance of the absent spouse if:

(1) The previous marriage has already been annulled or declared void;

(2) The sworn statement of the fact and circumstances of reappearance (affidavit of reappearance) is not recorded in the civil registry of the residence of the parties to the subsequent marriage;

(3) There is no notice to the spouses in the subsequent marriage of the fact of reappearance; or,

(4) The fact of reappearance is disputed in the proper courts of law and no judgment is rendered yet confirming it.

Court action not precluded

Reappearance coupled with the recording of an affidavit of reappearance with due notice as a remedy to terminate the subsequent marriage does not preclude the use of other legal remedies.

For instance, an action may also be filed in court to prove the reappearance of the absent spouse and obtain a declaration of dissolution or termination of the subsequent marriage.

Proper remedy when the person declared presumptively dead has never been absent 

But what is the proper remedy when the person declared presumptively dead has never been absent?

The proper remedy for a judicial declaration of presumptive death obtained by extrinsic fraud is annulment of judgment.

Reappearance coupled with the recording of an affidavit of reappearance with due notice is not the proper remedy when the person declared presumptively dead has never been absent.

Annulment of judgment

What then is annulment of judgment?

Annulment of judgment is the remedy when the judgment, order, or resolution of the Regional Trial Court has become final and the remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault of the petitioner.

Grounds for annulment of judgment

There are two grounds for annulment of judgment. These are extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.

Extrinsic fraud as a ground for annulment of judgment

Remember that for fraud to be a ground for annulment of judgment, it has to be extrinsic.

Fraud is extrinsic when a litigant commits acts outside of the trial that prevents a party from having a real contest or from presenting all of his case such that there is no fair submission of the controversy.

And it is intrinsic when the fraudulent acts pertain to an issue involved in the original action or where the acts constituting the fraud were or could have been litigated.

When extrinsic fraud not a valid ground for annulment of judgment

But extrinsic fraud will not be a valid ground for annulment of judgment if it was availed or could have been availed of in a motion for new trial or petition for relief.

Period for filing of annulment of judgment

If based on extrinsic fraud, annulment of judgment must be filed within four (4) years from its discovery.

And if based on lack of jurisdiction, it must be filed before it is barred by laches or estoppel.

Why choice of proper remedy important

The choice of the proper remedy is important because remedies carry with them certain admissions, conditions and presumptions.

For instance, the use of the remedy of reappearance coupled with the recording of an affidavit of reappearance with due notice is an admission on the part of the absent spouse that her marriage with the spouse present was terminated when the court declared her presumptively dead.

Bear in mind that when a subsequent marriage is entered into after a judicial declaration of presumptive death, a presumption arises to the effect that the absent spouse is already dead and such marriage is legal.

The choice of the proper remedy is also important to determine the status of the subsequent marriage and the liabilities of the spouse who in bad faith claimed that the other spouse was absent.

Why an insufficient remedy

When the person declared presumptively dead has never been absent, the remedy of reappearance coupled with the recording of an affidavit of reappearance with due notice is insufficient.

The reason being that while it will terminate the subsequent marriage, it will not nullify the effects of such marriage and the declaration of her presumptive death.

Remember that since an undisturbed subsequent marriage is valid until terminated, the children will be considered legitimate and the property relations of the spouses will be the same as in valid marriages.

If it is terminated through the use of this remedy, the children in the subsequent marriage conceived prior to its termination will still be considered legitimate.

And the spouse who in bad faith claimed that the other spouse was absent may evade criminal liability for bigamy by simply raising as a defense the judicial declaration of presumptive death.

[References: Article 41 of the Family Code, Article 391 of the Civil Code, Article 42 of the Family Code, Article 35 (4) of the Family Code, Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, Rule 47 (Annulment of Judgments or Final Orders and Resolutions) of the Rules of Court, Social Security System vs. Teresita Jarque Vda. De Bailon, G.R. No. 165545, March 24, 2006, and Celerina J. Santos vs. Ricardo T. Santos, G.R. No. 187061, October 8, 2014]