The Office of the Civil Registrar General of the National Statistics Office promulgated Administrative Order No. 1 series of 2012 (AO 1) on October 24, 2012. The AO implements the provisions of Republic Act 10172, the amendatory law to Republic Act 9048, and supplements Administrative Order 1 series of 2001, which, in turn, implements RA 9048. Both statutes provide a means of correcting erroneous entries in the civil registry without need of judicial action.
Prior to RA 10172, RA 9048 allowed changes in a person’s first name or nickname as well as corrections to typographical entries through an administrative petition to the local civil registry or the consul-general. RA 10172 expands RA 9048 and expressly allows corrections to entries concerning a person’s date of birth or sex. More specifically, the law amended Sections 1, 2, 5 and 8 of RA 9048, which respectively defined the scope of the powers of the civil registry, the terms used in the Act, the form and contents of the petition and the authority to charge fees for the correction.
Only clerical or typographical errors are allowed to be corrected. For substantial amendments to any entry in the civil registry, except for change of first name or nickname, an adversarial proceeding under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court is still required. These include petitions to change nationality, age or status. Under the act, clerical or typographical errors are “harmless and innocuous…visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding, and can be corrected or changed only by reference to other existing record or records.”
As in RA 9048, a sworn affidavit with relevant supporting documents is required for the petition. These documents shall include a certified true copy of the certificate containing the erroneous entry and at least two public or private documents containing the entries on which the civil registry will base its correction. The AO also requires publication of the petition once a week for two consecutive weeks, the affidavit of publication and a copy of the newspaper clipping, a certification that petitioner has no pending administrative, civil or criminal case or criminal record from the NBI, PNP and petitioner’s employer, if any, and submission of the petitioner’s school records or school documents such as “medical records, baptismal records and other documents issued by religious authorities” if the entry to be corrected pertains to the date of birth or sex of a person. Moreover, if the entry sought to be corrected pertains to gender, the law, and the AO also requires a certification by a government physician that petitioner has not undergone sex change or transplant. The Act also allows the city or municipal registrar to require other documents to support the petition.
The petition must be filed in triplicate in the local civil registry in which the erroneous entry was registered. If one is currently living outside the Philippines or is residing in the Philippines but far from the civil registry where the entries are registered, then the petition may be filed with the consul-general or the local civil registry of the place where petitioner is currently residing.
A stricter rule is imposed for petitions concerning changes in the entry as to sex. The IRR requires personal filing of the petition with the city or municipal civil registry or consulate where the record to be corrected is registered.
Under the AO, the civil registry may collect PhP3,000 for every petition. Only indigent petitioners are exempt from payment. Indigency may be proved by a certification to that effect from the city or municipal social welfare office. If the petition is filed with the consul-general, a filing fee of USD150, or its equivalent, may be collected. Migrant petitions, or those filed with a civil registrar other than the one where the entries are registered, shall be charged an additional service fee of PhP1,000. A petition that includes corrections under both RA 9048 and RA 10172 will only be charged a single filing fee of PhP3,000.
While errors in the date of birth is now correctible administratively, the IRR clarifies that it excludes corrections to the year of birth since the law still does not allow administrative corrections to entries pertaining to age. In relation to the medical certification required for changes in entries of a person’s sex, the IRR requires that the physician issuing such a certification must be registered with the Professional Regulations Commission and employed in a government hospital, public health office or health institution.
The petition may be filed by the owner of the record sought to be corrected or by his or her representative, namely a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, guardian or other person authorized by the owner or by law. Petitions on behalf of a minor or incapacitated person may be brought by these same representatives.
Finally, while the AO generally adopts the procedures for processing, posting and publishing the petition as well as the duties of the civil registrar and the civil registrar general outlined under AO 1 series of 2001 for petitions under RA 9048, it adds to the duties of the Civil Registrar by requiring it to issue a certification as to the authenticity of the medical certification to be issued by the accredited government physician in cases where the petition relates to changes in the entry on sex. This requirement was not provided for by law, prompting a petition by the local civil registrar of Quezon City for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the IRR on this issue. The petition also claims that the provision requiring local governments (LGUs) to ratify the fees imposed under the AO unduly restricted the authority given by law to the civil registrar to impose fees under the Act. Finally, the petition for TRO also claims that the AO was issued without consultation with the association of local civil registrars. The Regional Trial Court of Quezon City denied the prayer for a TRO last December and the IRR remains effective as of this writing.
(Imee and April Carmela B. Lacson co-authored this article.)