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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Correcting errors in your birth certificate

"Prior to 2001, the correction of any entries or changes in birth certificates were only possible if they were judicially approved."

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Is your first name different from the first name in your birth certificate? For example, have you been using Elen when your real name is Eleanor in the birth certificate? Does your birth certificate say that your sex is male when your sex at birth is female? Is your year of birth, for example, in 1986 but your birth certificate says that you were born in 1981? If your answer is “yes” to any of those questions, then you may need guidance in correcting errors in your birth certificate.

I recall my father, Tranquil Jr., who was then a sitting Judge, adamantly telling me to personally fill in the details of my children’s birth certificates and not to delegate nor rely on someone else to do it for me. He said that any discrepancy in the names appearing in the school records and the birth certificates of my children may pose a problem in the future, should they decide to take courses that require board or bar examinations. It is important to note that when I was reminded by my father in the late 90s, Republic Act No. 9048 or otherwise known as the law “allowing correction of clerical or typographical error[s] in an entry and/or change of first name or nickname in the civil register without judicial order” was still not in place, as it was passed only in 2001.

Prior to 2001, the correction of any entries or changes in birth certificates were only possible if they were judicially approved. However, after R.A. 9048 took effect, administrative clerical corrections of entries or the changing of a first name or nickname in birth certificates have been allowed. Despite these, changes of surname, middle name, nationality, age, status or sex of the petitioner in the birth certificate may only be made under a judicial order. The name or nickname may be administratively corrected if the petitioner shows that: (a) the first name or nickname is ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (b) the new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the petitioner and has been publicly known in the community; or (c) the change will avoid confusion (Section 4, R.A 9048).

The petition shall be in the form of an affidavit. The affidavit shall state the merits of the petition and the entry or entries which the petitioner wants corrected and/or changed. The petition shall be supported with: (a) a certified true copy of the certificate or of the page of the registry book to be corrected or changed; (b) at least two (2) public or private documents showing the correct entry or entries upon which the correction or change shall be based; and (c) other documents which are relevant and necessary for the approval of the petition. In case the petition is for a correction or change of a first name or nickname, the petition shall be published at least once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation. The petitioner shall also submit a certification from the appropriate law enforcement agencies that he has no pending case or no criminal record. All petitions for the correction of clerical or typographical errors or changing of first names or nicknames may be availed only once (Section 5, R.A 9048 as amended by R.A. 10172).

Who may file the verified Petition in the local civil registry? Any person having direct and personal interest in the correction can do this. He may be the owner of the record, the owner’s spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, guardian, or any person authorized by law (Rules 3.1 and 3.2, IRR-NSO Administrative Order No. 1, s.2012) to do so. However, if the error sought to be corrected is a clerical error with regard to the sex of the petitioner, he/she shall personally file the petition. The petition shall be filed with the local civil registry of the city or municipality where the birth record is being kept. If the petitioner has migrated to another place in the country, the petition may be filed with the local civil registrar of the place where the interested party is presently residing or domiciled. The two (2) local civil registrars concerned will then communicate to facilitate the processing of the petition. On the other hand, if the petitioner is presently residing or domiciled in a foreign country, he may file the petition in the nearest Philippine Consulate (Section 3, R.A. 9048). 

R.A. 9048 was later amended by R.A. 10172 in 2012 to include the correction of mistakes with regard to the entries of the day or month in the person’s date of birth, or on matters of sex which are visible. These can be corrected or changed only by seeking reference to other existing records. In other words, the year of birth cannot be the subject of an administrative correction in the birth certificate. The change of sex, likewise, extends only to those errors which are purely clerical. Hence, a person who has undergone a sex change may not avail of the clerical correction of entry as to sex.

No petitions for the correction of an erroneous entry concerning the date of birth or the sex of a person shall be entertained except if the petition is accompanied by the earliest school record or earliest school documents, medical records, baptismal certificates and other documents issued by religious authorities. Any entry involving sex may only be corrected if the petition is accompanied by a certification issued by an accredited government physician attesting to the fact that the petitioner has not undergone a sex reassignment procedure of any kind (Section 5, R.A. 10172). Like the petition for the change of first names or nicknames, the correction of an erroneous entry concerning the day or month in the date of birth, or the sex of a person, shall be published at least once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation.

The birth certificate appears to be a harmless public document, so much so that some even ignore its timely filing. It is, however, an important document that is required to be presented when we apply for school admission, try to get a passport or visa, apply for employment, register as a voter, and apply for membership with the GSIS or SSS, among others. The importance of the birth certificate is not limited to recording the identity of the child and the fact of his or her birth, since more importantly, it establishes filiation to members of his family.


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