The Philippines is the bastion of Christianity in Asia with over 93% of our population listed as Christians; we ranked 5th worldwide according to a 2011 report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Filipinos take religiosity pretty seriously. To us, it is not just some form of affiliation or membership, it is a legacy passed on to us, an identity we must protect and preserve at all costs.
And so it IS a big deal to have to find out that your religion, as written in your birth certificate, is anything but Catholic or Christian.
Such was the case of Arabah Joy Quinto, a Roman Catholic by birth. After receiving an Exchange Scholar grant from her high school, she immediately applied for a passport at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). She thought she had all the needed documents prepared until she was required to submit a certificate from the Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA)! Apparently, her birth certificate shows that her parents are Muslims. She insisted that her entire family has always been devout Roman Catholics, all of them baptized by the Catholic Church as supported by their birth certificates. The DFA would have none of it; either she presents the required OMA or have the entries in her birth certificate corrected.
How to Correct a ‘Wrong Religion’?
There are two ways of rectifying incorrect entries in a birth certificate:
- Under RA No. 9048 or Clerical Error Law (as amended by RA 10172) if the matter involved correcting typographical errors in the First Name, Place of Birth, Day and month of Birth , or Gender.
- Through a petition in court if the correction is not covered by any of the above cases.
Correcting the entries in ‘Religion’ is not included in the errors covered by RA 9048 or 10172.
In this case, Arabah Joy needs to file a petition for Correction of Entry in the Regional Trial Court of the place where her birth was registered. Once filed, the court shall set the case for a hearing, followed by publication of the correction in a local newspaper.
As soon as the petition is granted, the LCR of Arabah’s birth place will receive a certified copy of the court’s decision. The LCR will be directed to apply the necessary annotations on Arabah’s birth certificate, so that the same shall now reflect her parents’ correct religion.
The first corrected copy of Arabah’s birth certificate may be requested from a PSA office while succeeding copies may be ordered online at www.psahelpline.ph
If you have questions about civil registration in the Philippines, please feel free to drop usa line and we will do our best to find the answers for you.
www.gov.ph (The Family Code of the Philippines)