G.R. No. L-32181,5 March 1986
Court of First Instance of Cebu a petition for the cancellation and/or correction of entries of birth of Bernardo Go and Jessica Go in the Civil Registry of the City of Cebu. The case was docketed as Special Proceedings No. 3043-R.
The Solicitor General filed an opposition to the petition alleging that the petition for correction of entry in the Civil Registry, contemplates a summary proceeding and correction of mere clerical errors, those harmless and innocuous changes such as the correction of a name that is merely mispelled, occupation of parents, etc., and not changes or corrections involving civil status, nationality, or citizenship which are substantial and controversial.
Respondent Leonor Valencia, filed her reply to the opposition wherein she admitted that the present petition seeks substantial changes involving the civil status and nationality or citizenship of respondents, but alleged that substantial changes in the civil registry records involving the civil status of parents, their nationality or citizenship may be allowed if- (1) the proper suit is filed, and (2) evidence is submitted, either to support the allegations of the petition or to disprove the same; that respondents have complied with these requirements by filing the present special proceeding for cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry pursuant to Rule 108 of the Revised Rules of Court and that they have caused reasonable notice to be given to the persons named in the petition and have also caused the order for the hearings of their petition to be published for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province.
Subsequently, the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that since the petition seeks to change the nationality or citizenship of Bernardo Go and Jessica Go from “Chinese” to “Filipino” and their status from “Legitimate” to Illegitimate”, and changing also the status of the mother from “married” to “single” the corrections sought are not merely clerical but substantial, involving as they do the citizenship and status of the petitioning minors and the status of their mother.
May a change in the record of birth in a civil registry, involving the nationality or citizenship of a person, be granted in a summary procedure?
The Supreme Court likewise held that corrections involving the nationality or citizenship of a person were substantial and could not be effected except in adversarial proceedings.
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 the nationality or citizenship, which is undisputably 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. The SC 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 proceedings.
Rule 108 of the Revise 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, lay all the other provisions of the Rules of Court, was promulgated by the Supreme Court pursuant to its rule- making authority under Sec. 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 or 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.
Thus, Valencia requires that a petition for substantial correction or change of entries in the civil registry should have as respondents the civil registrar, as well as all other persons who have or claim any interest that would be affected thereby. It further mandates that a full hearing, not merely a summary proceeding, be conducted.
* Case digest by Lady Rubyge A. Denura, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018