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Brainstorm: The Next Generation | Birth certificate errors

His Certificate of Live Birth reflects his name as Marileen Cruz Santus, his gender as “Female” and his birth date as February 29, 1981 when his correct name is Marlon Santos Cruz, his gender “Male” and his birth date is March 1, 1982. What is he supposed to do?

This is a very common problem maybe because the excitement of having a new child makes parents forget to properly check the birth certificate form prepared by the hospital staff who sometimes also do not put much care in ensuring the correctness of the entries made. This is why, all over the country, so many of our countrymen are registered with the names “Baby Boy” or “Baby Girl”.

For so many decades, the only way to correct entries in a Certificate of Live Birth was to file a petition for correction of entry with the court which is costly (due mostly to the attorney’s fees and not the court fees) and would take a long time, particularly considering that court dockets are quite full with many other kinds of cases.

However, with the enactment of R.A. 9048 and the additional amendments in R.A. 10172, much of what used to require court petitions can now be corrected by filing the petition with the local civil registry (LCR) office, preferably where the record is kept or, if this is not feasible, with the LCR where the petitioner resides and it will be the two offices that will communicate.

Going to our example, Marlon can simply fill up the petition form available at the local civil registry office and submit the required attachments. Considering his case, in addition to the accomplished form, he will have to submit a certified copy of the erroneous birth certificate, at least two (2) documents showing the correct entries, his earliest available school record showing correct entries, a police clearance and, because of the need to change the entry for his gender from female to male, a certification issued by an accredited government physician attesting to the fact that claimant has NOT undergone a sex change or sex transplant.

Only one (1) petition will be filed and only one (1) fee should be collected in Marlon’s case.

The last requirement is because while it is possible to physically change one’s gender through medical procedures, it is still not legally possible to do so in one’s official records in our country and this has already been deemed so by the Supreme Court. So, unless legislation is later enacted to allow it, if you are born male, you will legally stay male in the Philippines, regardless of how you identify as and even if you have already undergone gender reassignment surgery.

However, even if erroneous spelling of his first name, as well as the errors in the entries of the month and date of his birth, as well as his gender can be corrected via this process, what Marlon cannot correct via the petition is the YEAR of his birth. This is because it affects his age and the law is very specific in stating that AGE, NATIONALITY AND CIVIL STATUS cannot be the subject of the administrative process of correcting entries in the local civil registry.

As to his last and middle names, these can be corrected to “Santos Cruz” because clearly clerical errors as well as interchanged middle and last names are allowed to be corrected. Substantial changes to last names have to go through court proceedings though, because changes that are not simple corrections are allowed administratively only for first names or nicknames.

With the foregoing information, hopefully, the Baby Boys and Baby Girls in our country can already enjoy their true first names and proudly proclaim themselves in their corrected birth certificates as “PROCOPITO” or “PROPCOPITA.

(Credits to Atty Leo Braceros, Davao City Local Civil Registrar for his valuable inputs)

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