Republic v. Ontuca

G.R. No. 232053, July 15, 2020


In 2000, Ontuca gave birth to Zsanine. Carabeo, registered midwife, volunteered herself to register Zsanine’s birth with the Parañaque Civil Registrar. After several days, the midwife delivered the birth certificate to Annabelle. Annabelle was, however, dismayed to see the erroneous entries in the certificate. To correct these entries, Annabelle filed a Petition under Rule 108 praying that 

Her name “Mary Annabelle Peleño Ontuca” be corrected by removing “Mary” and changing “Paliño” to “Peleño;”

That the date and place of marriage of parents be changed from “May 25, 1999 at Occ. Mindoro” to “NOT MARRIED.”

RTC granted the petition. The OSG moved for a reconsideration,5 arguing that the RTC has no jurisdiction to correct Annabelle’s first name and middle name under Rule 108 because the errors are clerical that can be corrected through administrative proceedings under Republic Act (RA) No. 9048, as amended. On the other hand, the change in the date and place of marriage of the child’s parents is substantial, hence, Annabelle should have impleaded the OSG and all other persons who have a claim or any interest in the proceedings.


1. Whether the RTC has jurisdiction to order the correction of 

a. Annabelle’s first name from “MARY ANNABELLE” to “ANNABELLE” and her middle name from “PALIÑO” to “PELEÑO” and 

b. To change her civil status from married to “NOT MARRIED” under the provisions of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.


a. YES. Ideally, Annabelle should have filed the petition for correction with the local civil registrar under RA No. 9048, as amended, and only when the petition is denied can the RTC take cognizance of the case. In any case, RA No. 9048, as amended, did not divest the trial courts of jurisdiction over petitions for correction of clerical or typographical errors in a birth certificate. To be sure, the local civil registrars’ administrative authority to change or correct similar errors is only primary but not exclusive. The regular courts maintain the authority to make judicial corrections of entries in the civil registry. Moreover, the doctrine of primary administrative jurisdiction is not absolute and may be dispensed with for reasons of equity.

In this case, Annabelle had presented testimonial and documentary evidence, which the RTC had evaluated and found sufficient. To require her to file a new petition with the local civil registrar and start the process all over again would not be in keeping with the purpose of RA No. 9048, that is, to give people an option to have the erroneous entries in their civil records corrected through an administrative proceeding that is less expensive and more expeditious.

The correction of Annabelle’s middle name from “PALIÑO” to “PELEÑO” involves clerical or typographical error. It merely rectified the erroneous spelling through the substitution of the letters “A” and “I” in “PALIÑO” with the letter “E,” so it will read as “PELEÑO.” To be sure, Annabelle’s Unified Multi-Purpose ID14 shows that her middle name is spelled as “PELEÑO.”

Similarly, the error in Annabelle’s first name is clerical that will neither affect nor prejudice her substantial rights. Annabelle’s postal ID15 and passport16 satisfactorily show that her first name is “ANNABELLE” and not “MARY ANNABELLE.” Verily, by referring to Annabelle’s existing records, or documents,

b. YES. Meanwhile, the correction of the date and place of the parent’s marriage from “May 25, 1999 at Occ. Mindoro” to “NOT MARRIED” is substantial since it will alter the child’s status from legitimate to illegitimate. Here, Annabelle correctly filed a petition for cancellation and/or correction of the entries before the RTC under Rule 108.

However, Annabelle failed to observe the required procedures under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of Rule 108. The rules require two sets of notices to potential oppositors – one given to persons named in the petition and another served to persons who are not named in the petition, but nonetheless may be considered interested or affected parties. Consequently, the petition for a substantial correction must implead the civil registrar and other persons who have, or claim to have any interest that would be affected. There was no earnest effort on the part of Annabelle to bring to court the OSG, the child’s father, and siblings, if any, and other parties who may have an interest in the petition. Also, these indispensable parties are not the ones who initiated the proceedings, and Annabelle cannot possibly claim that she was not aware, actually or presumptively, as to the existence or whereabouts of these interested parties.

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