Emelita Basilio Gan (petitioner) was born on December 21, 1956 out of wedlock to Pia Gan, her father who is a Chinese national, and Consolacion Basilio, her mother who is a Filipino citizen. The petitioner’s birth certificate, which was registered in the Office of the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) of Libmanan, Camarines Sur, indicates that her full name is Emelita Basilio.
On June 29, 2010, the petitioner filed a Petition 5 for correction of name with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Libmanan, Camarines Sur. The petitioner sought to change the full name indicated in her birth certificate from “Emelita Basilio” to “Emelita Basilio Gan.” She claimed that she had been using the name “Emelita Basilio Gan” in her school records from elementary until college, employment records, marriage contract, and other government records.
A change of name is a privilege and not a matter of right; a proper and reasonable cause must exist before a person may be authorized to change his name. “In granting or denying petitions for change of name, the question of proper and reasonable cause is left to the sound discretion of the court. . . . What is involved is not a mere matter of allowance or disallowance of the request, but a judicious evaluation of the sufficiency and propriety of the justifications advanced in support thereof, mindful of the consequent results in the event of its grant and with the sole prerogative for making such determination being lodged in the courts.”
After a judicious review of the records of this case, the Court agrees with the CA that the reason cited by the petitioner in support of her petition for change of name, i.e., that she has been using the name “Emelita Basilio Gan” in all of her records, is not a sufficient or proper justification to allow her petition. When the petitioner was born in 1956, prior to the enactment and effectivity of the Family Code, the pertinent provisions of the Civil Code then regarding the petitioner’s use of surname provide:
Article 366. A natural child acknowledged by both parents shall principally use the surname of the father. If recognized by only one of the parents, a natural child shall employ the surname of the recognizing parent.
Article 368. Illegitimate children referred to in Article 287 shall bear the surname of the mother.
In her amended petition for change of name, the petitioner merely stated that she was born out of wedlock; she did not state whether her parents, at the time of her birth, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other, which would make her a natural child pursuant to Article 269 of the Civil Code. If, at the time of the petitioner’s birth, either of her parents had an impediment to marry the other, she may only bear the surname of her mother pursuant to Article 368 of the Civil Code. Otherwise, she may use the surname of her father provided that she was acknowledged by her father.
However, the petitioner failed to adduce any evidence that would show that she indeed was duly acknowledged by his father. The petitioner’s evidence consisted only of her birth certificate signed by her mother, school records, employment records, marriage contract, certificate of baptism, and other government records. Thus, assuming that she is a natural child pursuant to Article 269 of the Civil Code, she could still not insist on using her father’s surname.
In Coseteng-Magpayo, the issue was the proper procedure to be followed when the change sought to be effected in the birth certificate affects the civil status of the respondent therein from legitimate to illegitimate. The respondent therein claimed that his parents were never legally married; he filed a petition to change his name from “Julian Edward Emerson Coseteng Magpayo,” the name appearing in his birth certificate, to “Julian Edward Emerson Marquez-Lim Coseteng.” The notice setting the petition for hearing was published and, since there was no opposition thereto, the trial court issued an order of general default and eventually granted the petition of the respondent therein by, inter alia, deleting the entry on the date and place of marriage of his parents and correcting his surname from “Magpayo” to Coseteng.” The Court reversed the trial court’s decision since the proper remedy would have been to file a petition under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The Court ruled that the change sought by the respondent therein involves his civil status as a legitimate child; it may only be given due course through an adversarial proceedings under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. The Court’s pronouncement in Coseteng-Magpayo finds no application in this case.
Finally, Lim likewise finds no application in this case. In Lim, the petition that was filed was for correction of entries under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court; the petition sought, among others, is the correction of the surname of the respondent therein from “Yo” to “Yu.” Further, the respondent therein, although an illegitimate child, had long been using the surname of her father. It bears stressing that the birth certificate of the respondent therein indicated that her surname was the same as her father albeit misspelled. Thus, a correction of entry in her birth certificate is appropriate.
Here, the petitioner filed a petition for change of name under Rule 103 and not a petition for correction of entries under Rule 108. Unlike in Lim, herein petitioner’s birth certificate indicated that she bears the surname of her mother and not of her father.
WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the petition is DENIED.
G.R. No. 207147. September 14, 2016.
EMELITA BASILIO GAN