December 2009 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
G.R. No. 181174 - Ma. Cristina Torres Braza, et al. v. The City Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, minor Patrick Alvin Titular Braza, represented by Leon Titular, et al.
[G.R. NO. 181174 : December 4, 2009]
MA. CRISTINA TORRES BRAZA, PAOLO JOSEF T. BRAZA and JANELLE ANN T. BRAZA, Petitioners, v. THE CITY CIVIL REGISTRAR OF HIMAMAYLAN CITY, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, minor PATRICK ALVIN TITULAR BRAZA, represented by LEON TITULAR, CECILIA TITULAR and LUCILLE C. TITULAR, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Petitioner Ma. Cristina Torres (Ma. Cristina) and Pablo Sicad Braza, Jr. (Pablo), also known as "Pablito Sicad Braza," were married1 on January 4, 1978. The union bore Ma. Cristina's co-petitioners Paolo Josef2 and Janelle Ann3 on May 8, 1978 and June 7, 1983, respectively, and Gian Carlo4 on June 4, 1980.
Pablo died5 on April 15, 2002 in a vehicular accident in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia.
During the wake following the repatriation of his remains to the Philippines, respondent Lucille Titular (Lucille) began introducing her co-respondent minor Patrick Alvin Titular Braza (Patrick) as her and Pablo's son. Ma. Cristina thereupon made inquiries in the course of which she obtained Patrick's birth certificate6 from the Local Civil Registrar of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental with the following entries:
Name of Child : PATRICK ALVIN CELESTIAL TITULAR Date of Birth : 01 January 1996 Mother : Lucille Celestial Titular Father : Pablito S. Braza Date Received at the Local Civil Registrar : January 13, 1997 Annotation : "Late Registration" Annotation/Remarks : "Acknowledge (sic) by the father Pablito Braza on January 13, 1997" Remarks : Legitimated by virtue of subsequent marriage of parents on April 22, 1998 at Manila. Henceforth, the child shall be known as Patrick Alvin Titular Braza (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary
Ma. Cristina likewise obtained a copy7 of a marriage contract showing that Pablo and Lucille were married on April 22, 1998, drawing her and her co-petitioners to file on December 23, 2005 before the Regional Trial Court of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental a petition8 to correct the entries in the birth record of Patrick in the Local Civil Register.
Contending that Patrick could not have been legitimated by the supposed marriage between Lucille and Pablo, said marriage being bigamous on account of the valid and subsisting marriage between Ma. Cristina and Pablo, petitioners prayed for (1) the correction of the entries in Patrick's birth record with respect to his legitimation, the name of the father and his acknowledgment, and the use of the last name "Braza"; 2) a directive to Leon, Cecilia and Lucille, all surnamed Titular, as guardians of the minor Patrick, to submit Parick to DNA testing to determine his paternity and filiation; and 3) the declaration of nullity of the legitimation of Patrick as stated in his birth certificate and, for this purpose, the declaration of the marriage of Lucille and Pablo as bigamous.
On Patrick's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction, the trial court, by Order9 of September 6, 2007, dismissed the petition without prejudice, it holding that in a special proceeding for correction of entry, the court, which is not acting as a family court under the Family Code, has no jurisdiction over an action to annul the marriage of Lucille and Pablo, impugn the legitimacy of Patrick, and order Patrick to be subjected to a DNA test, hence, the controversy should be ventilated in an ordinary adversarial action.
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration having been denied by Order10 of November 29, 2007, they filed the present Petition for Review .
Petitioners maintain that the court a quo may pass upon the validity of marriage and questions on legitimacy even in an action to correct entries in the civil registrar. Citing Cariņo v. Cariņo,11 Lee v. Court of Appeals12 and Republic v. Kho,13 they contend that even substantial errors, such as those sought to be corrected in the present case, can be the subject of a petition under Rule 108.14
The petition fails. In a special proceeding for correction of entry under Rule 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Original Registry), the trial court has no jurisdiction to nullify marriages and rule on legitimacy and filiation.
Rule 108 of the Rules of Court vis a vis Article 412 of the Civil Code15 charts the procedure by which an entry in the civil registry may be cancelled or corrected. The proceeding contemplated therein may generally be used only to correct clerical, spelling, typographical and other innocuous errors in the civil registry. A clerical error is one which is visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding; an error made by a clerk or a transcriber; a mistake in copying or writing, or a harmless change such as a correction of name that is clearly misspelled or of a misstatement of the occupation of the parent. Substantial or contentious alterations may be allowed only in adversarial proceedings, in which all interested parties are impleaded and due process is properly observed.16
The allegations of the petition filed before the trial court clearly show that petitioners seek to nullify the marriage between Pablo and Lucille on the ground that it is bigamous and impugn Patrick's filiation in connection with which they ask the court to order Patrick to be subjected to a DNA test.
Petitioners insist, however, that the main cause of action is for the correction of Patrick's birth records17 and that the rest of the prayers are merely incidental thereto.
Petitioners' position does not lie. Their cause of action is actually to seek the declaration of Pablo and Lucille's marriage as void for being bigamous and impugn Patrick's legitimacy, which causes of action are governed not by Rule 108 but by A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which took effect on March 15, 2003, and Art. 17118 of the Family Code, respectively, hence, the petition should be filed in a Family Court as expressly provided in said Code.???ņr?bl? ??r