Monday, October 24, 2016

Correcting Errors in Birth Certificates

There are several ways to correct an error in one's record of live birth. The general rule is that if such error is not clerical in nature, the correction should be made through a Petition which will be filed in the Regional Trial Court, but I shall reserve that for another discussion as we shall look into how to correct errors in one's certificate of live birth thru administrative correction (or a correction which does not have to go through the courts).

We have two (2) pieces of legislation for this, the first one is Republic Act 9048 which was subsequently amended by Republic Act 10172. Both of these laws deal with Administrative Corrections where such petition is filed before the Local Civil Registrar.

Let's take a look at RA 9048. There are several common errors (clerical) which may be addressed by this law. Please take note that the corrections to be addressed in this law are clerical or typographical in nature. What is a clerical or typographical error? The law defines this as a mistake committed in the performance of clerical work in writing, copying, transcribing or typing an entry in the civil register that is harmless and innocuous, such as misspelled name or misspelled place of birth or the like, which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding, and can be corrected or changed only by reference to other existing record or records.

Here are some examples of harmless/innocuous errors or misspelled name:

Huan instead of Juan; Mery instead of Mary; Carlu instead of Carlo; it could even be something like where a common name has been transcribed in a manner which was not the intention of the parents/informant. An example would be Ra Quel instead of Raquel; Rose Anne instead of Roseanne. An error could even be a phonetic rendering of a simple name such as Bartoleme instead of Bartholomew. There are many more examples which I will no longer make mention as it will fill up this entire article. 

Aside from the correction of such harmless errors, RA 9048 even allows one to change one's First name or Nickname but under stringent conditions. The law provides that such a change will be allowed if the Petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce. 

An example would be the child was named Baby Boy de la Cruz; Baby Girl de la Cruz; Lord Voldemort de la Cruz; or one of those awful made up names and even names which have disparaging connotations, or those which may be considered as tongue twisters even. 

The law even allows one to use a name which you have habitually and continuously used and you are publicly known by that name despite what appears on your birth certificate. Say for example you are known in the community as John but your birth certificate states that your name is Juan. It is possible to have your name changed to John if are habitually and continuously using that name. 

And finally, the change will avoid confusion. This is one of the more important parts of RA 9048 or change of name/nickname. If all of your government ids, school records, and public records show that you are using a different name than that which appears on your record of birth, you are allowed by the law to have your name changed to that which you habitually use in order to avoid confusion.

Then we come to the amendment of RA 9048. RA 10172 allows for the administrative correction of typographical errors in the day and month in the date of birth or sex of a person appearing in his record of birth. 

Let's discuss the first part, say there was an error on the day and month when you were born. The law allows for administrative correction. But if the error involves the year of birth, sadly, such error cannot be corrected under this law and that the usual procedure would be to have it corrected via petition that will be filed in the Regional Trial Court. Errors in the year of birth is not considered harmless or innocuous. 

Now, let's go over a more interesting aspect of this law, RA 10172 allows for the correction of one's gender in your record of birth, but mind you, this involves only a correction of an error, not carte blanche authority for you to change your gender just because you have had sex reassignment surgery in Thailand. There are times that one's gender has been incorrectly reported by the informant or the typist/clerk mistakenly entered a different gender than what your biological gender is. 

To properly have your gender corrected in your record of birth, you must have yourself examined by a Government Physician who shall certify that you have not gone through any sex-reassignment surgery. You must either be biologically male or female. If you went through any sex-reassignment surgery or you feel that you are female even if biologically you are not, you cannot correct such entry in your record of birth. 

I remember having attended legal aid and many were surprised that one's gender in the birth certificate may be corrected. Sadly, some did not notice the part where I said that there should be an error in the entry and that one must not have had sex-reassignment surgery; it does not even relate to sexual preference. Throngs of gays huddled around my desk and they were quite disappointed when I told them how the law is to be applied. Sorry folks, you can't have cheap sex-reassignment through the correction of your birth certificate. 

If the errors or corrections needed to be made fall squarely on the matters discussed under RA 9048 as amended by RA 10172, there shouldn't be any need to file a Petition in the Regional Trial Court to correct those errors, but alas, there are still matters not covered by these laws, which I shall discuss in another post in the future.

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