Use by married woman of her maiden name in her replacement passport

Can a married woman, who originally used her husband’s surname in her expired passport, revert to the use of her maiden name in the replacement passport, despite the subsistence of her marriage?

In Ma. Virginia V. Remo vs. The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs, G.R. No. 169202, March 5, 2010, petitioner Maria Virginia V. Remo is a married Filipino citizen whose Philippine passport was then expiring on 27 October 2000. Petitioner is married to Francisco R. Rallonza and the following entries appear in her passport: “Rallonza” as her surname, “Maria Virginia” as her given name, and “Remo” as her middle name. Prior to the expiry of the validity of her passport, petitioner, whose marriage still subsists, applied for the renewal of her passport with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., with a request to revert to her maiden name and surname in the replacement passport.

The DFA denied the request.  According to the DFA:

Use of maiden name is allowed in passport application only if the married name has not been used in previous application. The Implementing Rules and Regulations for Philippine Passport Act of 1996 clearly defines the conditions when a woman applicant may revert to her maiden name, that is, only in cases of annulment of marriage, divorce and death of the husband. Ms. Remo’s case does not meet any of these conditions.

Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied by the DFA and this prompted petitioner to appeal the matter to the Office of the President, which similarly denied the request as well as a subsequent motion for reconsideration.  Petitioner then filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals, which also denied the petition.

The Court of Appeals found no conflict between Article 370 of the Civil Code and Section 5(d) of RA 8239. The Court of Appeals held that for passport application and issuance purposes, RA 8239 limits the instances when a married woman applicant may exercise the option to revert to the use of her maiden name such as in a case of a divorce decree, annulment or declaration of nullity of marriage. Since there was no showing that petitioner’s marriage to Francisco Rallonza has been annulled, declared void or a divorce decree has been granted to them, petitioner cannot simply revert to her maiden name in the replacement passport after she had adopted her husband’s surname in her old passport. Hence, according to the Court of Appeals, the DFA was justified in refusing the request of petitioner to revert to her maiden name in the replacement passport.

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