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  Case Digest Rommel Silverio v. Republic G.R. No. 174689, October 22, 2007 FACTS: On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio filed a petition for the change of his first name and sex in his birth certificate in the RTC Branch 8 of Manila. His name was registered as “Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio” in his certifica te of live birth and his sex was registered as “male.” Petitioner asserts that he is a transsexual, and had always identified himself with girls since childhood. On SJanuary 27, 2001, petitioner underwent sex reassignment surgery in Bangkok, Thailand. On J une 4, 2003, the trial court granted petitioner’s prayer to have his name and sex entered in his certificate of live birth to conform with his present sex. The Court of Appeals rendered a decision in favor of the Republic, ruling that there is no law allowing change of name or sex in the birth certificate on the basis of sex reassignment. ISSUE : Can one’s name or sex as it appears on the certificate of live birth be changed on the ground of sex reassignment? RULING: No, the Court ruled that the primary law governing change of name is now RA 9048 (Clerical Error Law) and Section 1 hereof gives the authority to change name to the city or municipal civil registrar or consul general concerned. Such offices are given primary jurisdiction for name change and the courts can only be sought when such actions are denied therefrom. This was not followed in the case at bar. In addition, no law allows the change of sex in the birth certificate on the basis of sex reassignment, Sec. 2 (c) of RA 9048states that no correction must involve the change of nationality, age, status or sex of petitioner. Furthermore, change of name or sex on the ground of equity is not tenable in case at bar since it would have far ranging implications and policy consequences such as provisions in the penal and civil code that deals specifically for women such as marriage, family relations and survivorship in calamities among others.   Case Analyis ã  Identification of the Parties   The petitioner is ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, while the respondent is the REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. ã  Prior Proceedings On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio filed a petition for the change of his first name and sex in his birth certificate in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The trial court ruled in favor of petitioner. He appealed the case before the Court of Appeals which rendered a decision in favor of the Republic.Hence the instant petition. ã  Theories of the Parties The Republic of the Philippines (respondent), alleged that there is no law allowing the change of entries in the birth certificate by reason of sex alteration. On the other hand, Petitioner asserts that he is a transsexual, and had always identified himself with girls since childhood. On SJanuary 27, 2001, petitioner underwent sex reassignment surgery in Bangkok, Thai land. On June 4, 2003, the trial court granted petitioner’s  prayer to have his name and sex entered in his certificate of live birth to conform with his present sex ã  Objectives of the Parties Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his name and sex in his birth certificate is allowed under Articles 407 to 413 of the Civil Code, Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court and RA 9048. The respondent seeks for the rejection of the petitioner  ’s claim because prior to the enactment of RA 9048, changing a person’s sex to reflect his or her gender identity and gender expression has been impossible. The objective of both parties are both procedural but respondent’s side is merely indispensable because it is supported with legal principles. ã  Key Facts RTC gave due course to his petition, ruling based on equity, that “petitioner’s misfortune to be trapped in a man’s body is not his own doing and should not be taken against him” and that “no harm, i njury or prejudice will be caused to anybody” if the petition were to be granted. His name was thus changed to Mely, and sex to “female.” The Republic appealed the case in the Court of Appeals, whereby the decision was set aside because there is no law that provides for the change of first name because of a sex reassignment. ã  Issues (Issue in the RTC and CA) sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is entitled to the relief asked for: ã   Whether or not a person’s first name be changed because of sex reassignment? ã  Whether or not entries in the Birth Certificate (B.C) be changed on the basis of equity? ã  Holding and Finding The SC held that a person’s first name cannot be change because of sex reassignment and RA 9048 deliberately expounded on how a name can be change and sex reassignment is not one of them.   The SC held that No Law Allows The Change of Entry In The Birth Certificate As To Sex On the Ground of Sex Reassignment. It is but clear to state that a person’s status is determined at birth and not by reassignment. Status refers to the circumstances affecting the legal situation (that is, the sum total of capacities and incapacities) of a person in view of his age, nationality and his family membership. ã  Ratio Decidendi ã  Change of Name, primarily Administrative in nature: Section 1 of RA 9048 provides in essence that no entry in a civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial order, except for clerical or typographical errors, which can be changed by concerned city or municipal civil registrar or consul general  . The jurisdiction therefore is primarily lodged with these officers. The intent and effect of the law is to exclude the change of first name from the coverage of Rules 103 (Change of Name) and 108 (Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court, until and unless an administrative petition for change of name is first filed and subsequently denied. In sum, the remedy and the proceedings regulating change of first name are primarily administrative in nature, not judicial. Hence, the venue to which petitioner filed is improper. ã  Grounds for change of name: RA 9048 provides the grounds for which change of first name may be allowed: 1) petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; 2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the petitioner and he has been publicly known by that first name or nickname in the community; or 3) The change will avoid confusion. From these grounds, it can be gleaned that RA 9048 does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion, changing petitioner’s name for his declared purpose may only create grave complication
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