Aling Nelia is a housewife and a mother of five children. On her 57th birthday, her kids pooled their resources and surprised her with a round-trip ticket to Hong Kong as it has always been her ardent dream to see the place.
She began working on the required documents while waiting for her passport application appointment at the DFA. However, when she got hold of her PSA birth certificate, she realized that her name is misspelled on the document. Her real name, and the name that she has used all her life, is Cornelia Pineda Mangosing, while the name written in her birth certificate is Cornelio Pineda Mangosing.
At first glance, it looked like all Aling Nelia had to do was file a petition for correction of a clerical error on her birth certificate. After all, it was just one letter – “o” in Cornelio should be changed to “a” to make it Cornelia. However, when she sought assistance from the Local Civil Registry, she was informed that it is not as simple as it seemed.
What is the difference between correction of clerical error and change of name?
A lot, actually.
Correction of clerical error is covered by R.A. 9048 where an error in a birth certificate is corrected without the need to file a case in court, hire a lawyer, and attend hearings. The corrections are applied by the LCR where the birth was registered. RA 9048 may be applied if the error or errors are clearly typhographical in nature – harmless and innocuous. An evidence of which is that the name, in its erroneous form, sounds ridiculous and tainted with dishonor.
On the other hand, a name that was supposedly misspelled but is still acceptable as a name, may not always be considered misspelled and therefore, may not be covered by the provisions of RA 9048. Correcting such kinds of entries in a birth certificate follows a different process.
Cornelio vs. Cornelia
Aling Nelia’s name, as far as she is concerned, is misspelled. Her name is Cornelia, not Cornelio. Her argument is valid and she has all the documents to prove her claim. However, the supposed misspelled name, Cornelio, is in itself, a name! Changing the last letter to make it Cornelia would mean just that – changing the name – not merely correcting the spelling.
What should be done then?
Aling Nelia may resort to have the correction applied through a judicial proceeding. She needs to file a verified petition in the Regional Trial Court of her birth place or where the LCR is located. The rest of the procedures she needs to follow are outlined in Rule 108 of the Rules of Court in order to apply the necessary “correction”. This may be better explained to her by a lawyer.
It may seem strange to have to go through a rather complicated process when all Aling Nelia wanted was to set her records straight and align the name on her birth certificate with the name that she had been using all her life. At this point, she actually has two options: she could have her name changed through a court proceeding, or simply adopt “Cornelio” being the registered name and drop “Cornelia”. The latter, of course, would be a ridiculous choice.
This is another reminder for all of us to always be careful when accomplishing public documents such as Certificates of Live Birth, Marriage Certificates, and Death Certificates. An honest mistake may lead to a string of complications that may affect important transactions such as passport applications and benefit claims.
If you have questions regarding your birth certificate or think that there might be an error you need to rectify, proceed to the LCR office where your birth was registered. You may also drop us a line and we will do our best to find the most accurate answers for you.