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G.R. No.

189476 February 2, 2011


The notice setting the petition for hearing on
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, November 20, 2008 was published in the
vs. newspaper Broadside in its issues of October
JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON COSETENG- 31-November 6, 2008, November 7-13,
MAGPAYO (A.K.A. JULIAN EDWARD 2008, and November 14-20, 2008.8 And a
EMERSON MARQUEZ-LIM COSETENG), copy of the notice was furnished the Office of
Respondent. the Solicitor General (OSG).

DECISION No opposition to the petition having been


filed, an order of general default was entered
CARPIO MORALES, J.: by the trial court which then allowed
respondent to present evidence ex parte.9
Born in Makati on September 9, 1972, Julian
Edward Emerson Coseteng Magpayo By Decision of January 8, 2009,10 the trial
(respondent) is the son of Fulvio M. Magpayo court granted respondent’s petition and
Jr. and Anna Dominique Marquez-Lim directed the Civil Registrar of Makati City to:
Coseteng who, as respondent’s certificate of
live birth1 shows, contracted marriage on 1. Delete the entry "March 26, 1972" in Item
March 26, 1972. 24 for "DATE AND PLACE OF MARRIAGE OF
PARTIES" [in herein respondent’s Certificate
Claiming, however, that his parents were of live Birth];
never legally married, respondent filed on
July 22, 2008 at the Regional Trial Court 2. Correct the entry "MAGPAYO" in the space
(RTC) of Quezon City a Petition to change his for the Last Name of the [respondent] to
name to Julian Edward Emerson Marquez "COSETENG";
Lim Coseteng. The petition, docketed as SPP
No. Q-0863058, was entitled "IN RE 3. Delete the entry "COSETENG" in the space
PETITION FOR CHANGE OF NAME OF JULIAN for Middle Name of the [respondent]; and
EDWARD EMERSON COSETENG MAGPAYO
TO JULIAN EDWARD EMERSON MARQUEZ- 4. Delete the entry "Fulvio Miranda Magpayo,
LIM COSETENG." Jr." in the space for FATHER of the
[respondent]… (emphasis and underscoring
In support of his petition, respondent supplied; capitalization in the original)
submitted a certification from the National
Statistics Office stating that his mother Anna The Republic of the Philippines (Republic)
Dominique "does not appear in [its] National filed a motion for reconsideration but it was
Indices of Marriage."2 Respondent also denied by the trial court by Order of July 2,
submitted his academic records from 2009,11 hence, it, thru the OSG, lodged the
elementary up to college3 showing that he present petition for review to the Court on
carried the surname "Coseteng," and the pure question of law.
birth certificate of his child where "Coseteng"
appears as his surname.4 In the 1998, 2001 The Republic assails the decision in this
and 2004 Elections, respondent ran and was wise:
elected as Councilor of Quezon City’s 3rd
District using the name "JULIAN M.L. I. . . . THE PETITION FOR CHANGE OF
COSETENG."5 NAME…INVOLVES THE CHANGE OF
[RESPONDENT’S] CIVIL STATUS FROM
On order of Branch 77 of the Quezon City LEGITIMATE TO ILLEGITIMATE AND,
RTC,6 respondent amended his petition by THEREFORE, SHOULD BE MADE THROUGH
alleging therein compliance with the 3-year APPROPRIATE ADVERSARIAL
residency requirement under Section 2, Rule PROCEEDINGS…
103] of the Rules of Court.7
II. THE TRIAL COURT EXCEEDED ITS
JURISDICTION WHEN IT DIRECTED THE The petition is impressed with merit.
DELETION OF THE NAME OF RESPONDENT’S
FATHER FROM HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE.12 A person can effect a change of name under
(emphasis and underscoring supplied) Rule 103 (CHANGE OF NAME) using valid
and meritorious grounds including (a) when
The Republic contends that the deletion of the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or
the entry on the date and place of marriage extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (b)
of respondent’s parents from his birth when the change results as a legal
certificate has the effect of changing his civil consequence such as legitimation; (c) when
status from legitimate to illegitimate, hence, the change will avoid confusion; (d) when
any change in civil status of a person must one has continuously used and been known
be effected through an appropriate since childhood by a Filipino name, and was
adversary proceeding.13 unaware of alien parentage; (e) a sincere
desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase
The Republic adds that by ordering the signs of former alienage, all in good faith
deletion of respondent’s parents’ date of and without prejudicing anybody; and (f)
marriage and the name of respondent’s when the surname causes embarrassment
father from the entries in respondent’s birth and there is no showing that the desired
certificate,14 the trial court exceeded its change of name was for a fraudulent
jurisdiction, such order not being in accord purpose or that the change of name would
with respondent’s prayer reading: prejudice public interest.17 Respondent’s
reason for changing his name cannot be
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most considered as one of, or analogous to,
respectfully prayed that the Honorable Court recognized grounds, however.
issue an order allowing the change of name
of petitioner from JULIAN EDWARD The present petition must be differentiated
EMERSON COSETENG MAGPAYO to JULIAN from Alfon v. Republic of the Philippines.18
EDWARD EMERSON MARQUEZ-LIM In Alfon, the Court allowed the therein
COSETENG, and that the Honorable Court petitioner, Estrella Alfon, to use the name
order the Local Civil Registrar and all other that she had been known since childhood in
relevant government agencies to reflect the order to avoid confusion. Alfon did not deny
said change of name in their records. her legitimacy, however. She merely sought
to use the surname of her mother which she
Petitioner prays for other reliefs deemed had been using since childhood. Ruling in her
proper under the premises.15 (underscoring favor, the Court held that she was lawfully
supplied) entitled to use her mother’s surname, adding
that the avoidance of confusion was
Respondent counters that the proceeding justification enough to allow her to do so. In
before the trial court was adversarial in the present case, however, respondent
nature. He cites the serving of copies of the denies his legitimacy.
petition and its annexes upon the Civil
Registrar of Makati, the Civil Registrar The change being sought in respondent’s
General, and the OSG; the posting of copies petition goes so far as to affect his legal
of the notice of hearing in at least four public status in relation to his parents. It seeks to
places at least ten days before the hearing; change his legitimacy to that of illegitimacy.
the delegation to the OSG by the City Rule 103 then would not suffice to grant
Prosecutor of Quezon City to appear on respondent’s supplication.
behalf of the Republic; the publication of the
notice of hearing in a newspaper of general Labayo-Rowe v. Republic19 categorically
circulation for three consecutive weeks; and holds that "changes which may affect the
the fact that no oppositors appeared on the civil status from legitimate to illegitimate . . .
scheduled hearing.16 are substantial and controversial alterations
which can only be allowed after appropriate nor his father and mother were made parties
adversary proceedings . . ." thereto.

Since respondent’s desired change affects Respondent nevertheless cites Republic v.


his civil status from legitimate to illegitimate, Capote20 in support of his claim that his
Rule 108 applies. It reads: change of name was effected through an
appropriate adversary proceeding.
SECTION 1. Who may file petition.—Any
person interested in any act, event, order or Republic v. Belmonte,21 illuminates,
decree concerning the civil status of persons however:
which has been recorded in the civil register,
may file a verified petition for the The procedure recited in Rule 103] regarding
cancellation or correction of any entry change of name and in Rule 108 concerning
relating thereto, with the [RTC] of the the cancellation or correction of entries in
province where the corresponding civil the civil registry are separate and distinct.
registry is located. They may not be substituted one for the
other for the sole purpose of expediency. To
xxxx hold otherwise would render nugatory the
provisions of the Rules of Court allowing the
SEC. 3. Parties.—When cancellation or change of one’s name or the correction of
correction of an entry in the civil register is entries in the civil registry only upon
sought, the civil registrar and all persons meritorious grounds. . . . (emphasis,
who have or claim any interest which would capitalization and underscoring supplied)
be affected thereby shall be made parties to
the proceeding.
Even assuming arguendo that respondent
SEC. 4. Notice and publication. –Upon the had simultaneously availed of these two
filing of the petition, the court shall, by an statutory remedies, respondent cannot be
order, fix the time and place for the hearing said to have sufficiently complied with Rule
of the same, and cause reasonable notice 108. For, as reflected above, aside from
thereof to be given to the persons named in improper venue, he failed to implead the civil
the petition. The court shall also cause the registrar of Makati and all affected parties as
order to be published once a week for three respondents in the case.
(3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of
general circulation in the province. Republic v. Labrador22 mandates that "a
(emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied) petition for a substantial correction or
change of entries in the civil registry should
Rule 108 clearly directs that a petition which have as respondents the civil registrar, as
concerns one’s civil status should be filed in well as all other persons who have or claim
the civil registry in which the entry is sought to have any interest that would be affected
to be cancelled or corrected – that of Makati thereby." It cannot be gainsaid that change
in the present case, and "all persons who of status of a child in relation to his parents
have or claim any interest which would be is a substantial correction or change of entry
affected thereby" should be made parties to in the civil registry.
the proceeding.
Labayo-Rowe23 highlights the necessity of
As earlier stated, however, the petition of impleading indispensable parties in a petition
respondent was filed not in Makati where his which involves substantial and controversial
birth certificate was registered but in Quezon alterations. In that case, the therein
City. And as the above-mentioned title of the petitioner Emperatriz Labayo-Rowe
petition filed by respondent before the RTC (Emperatriz) filed a petition for the
shows, neither the civil registrar of Makati correction of entries in the birth certificates
of her children, Vicente Miclat, Jr. and
Victoria Miclat, in the Civil Registry of San Rule 108, like all the other provisions of the
Fernando, Pampanga. Emperatriz alleged Rules of Court, was promulgated by the
that her name appearing in the birth Supreme Court pursuant to its rule-making
certificates is Beatriz, which is her nickname, authority under Section 13, Article VIII of
but her full name is Emperatriz; and her civil the 1973 Constitution, which directs that
status appearing in the birth certificate of such rules "shall not diminish, increase or
her daughter Victoria as "married" on "1953 modify substantive rights." If Rule 108 were
Bulan" are erroneous because she was not to be extended beyond innocuous or
married to Vicente Miclat who was the one harmless changes or corrections of errors
who furnished the data in said birth which are visible to the eye or obvious to the
certificate. understanding, so as to comprehend
substantial and controversial alterations
The trial court found merit in Emperatriz’s concerning citizenship, legitimacy of
petition and accordingly directed the local paternity or filiation, or legitimacy of
civil registrar to change her name appearing marriage, without observing the proper
in her children’s birth certificates from proceedings as earlier mentioned, said rule
Beatriz to Emperatriz; and to correct her civil would thereby become an unconstitutional
status in Victoria’s birth certificate from exercise which would tend to increase or
"married" to "single" and the date and place modify substantive rights. This situation is
of marriage to "no marriage." not contemplated under Article 412 of the
Civil Code.24 (emphasis, italics and
On petition before this Court after the Court underscoring supplied)
of Appeals found that the order of the trial
court involved a question of law, the Court As for the requirement of notice and
nullified the trial court’s order directing the publication, Rule 108 provides:
change of Emperatriz’ civil status and the
filiation of her child Victoria in light of the SEC. 4. Notice and publication.—Upon the
following observations: filing of the petition, the court shall, by an
order, fix the time and place for the hearing
x x x x Aside from the Office of the Solicitor of the same, and cause reasonable notice
General, all other indispensable parties thereof to be given to the persons named in
should have been made respondents. They the petition. The court shall also cause the
include not only the declared father of the order to be published once a week for three
child but the child as well, together with the (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of
paternal grandparents, if any, as their general circulation in the province.
hereditary rights would be adversely affected
thereby. All other persons who may be SEC. 5. Opposition.—The civil registrar and
affected by the change should be notified or any person having or claiming any interest
represented. The truth is best ascertained under the entry whose cancellation or
under an adversary system of justice. correction is sought may, within fifteen (15)
days from notice of the petition, or from the
The right of the child Victoria to inherit from last date of publication of such notice, file his
her parents would be substantially impaired opposition thereto. (emphasis and
if her status would be changed from underscoring supplied)
"legitimate" to "illegitimate." Moreover, she
would be exposed to humiliation and A reading of these related provisions readily
embarrassment resulting from the stigma of shows that Rule 108 clearly mandates two
an illegitimate filiation that she will bear sets of notices to different "potential
thereafter. The fact that the notice of oppositors." The first notice is that given to
hearing of the petition was published in a the "persons named in the petition" and the
newspaper of general circulation and notice second (which is through publication) is that
thereof was served upon the State will not given to other persons who are not named in
change the nature of the proceedings taken. the petition but nonetheless may be
considered interested or affected parties, correction, as any judicial determination that
such as creditors. That two sets of notices June was the daughter of Armando would
are mandated under the above-quoted affect her ward’s share in the estate of her
Section 4 is validated by the subsequent father. It cannot be established whether
Section 5, also above-quoted, which Nadina knew of Mary Joy’s existence at the
provides for two periods (for the two types time she filed the petition for correction.
of "potential oppositors") within which to file Indeed, doubt may always be cast as to
an opposition (15 days from notice or from whether a petitioner under Rule 108 would
the last date of publication). know of all the parties whose interests may
be affected by the granting of a petition. For
This is the overriding principle laid down in example, a petitioner cannot be presumed to
Barco v. Court of Appeals.25 In that case, be aware of all the legitimate or illegitimate
Nadina Maravilla (Nadina) filed a petition for offsprings of his/her spouse or paramour. x x
correction of entries in the birth certificate of x x.
her daughter June from June Salvacion
Maravilla to June Salvacion "Gustilo," xxxx
Armando Gustilo being, according to Nadina,
her daughter’s real father. Gustilo in fact The purpose precisely of Section 4, Rule 108
filed before the trial court a "CONSTANCIA" is to bind the whole world to the subsequent
wherein he acknowledged June as his judgment on the petition. The sweep of the
daughter. The trial court granted the decision would cover even parties who
petition. should have been impleaded under Section
3, Rule 108 but were inadvertently left out. x
After Gustilo died, his son Jose Vicente x x x.26 (emphasis, italics and underscoring
Gustilo filed with the Court of Appeals a supplied)
petition for annulment of the Order of the
trial court granting the change of June’s Meanwhile, in Republic v. Kho,27 Carlito Kho
family name to Gustilo. (Carlito) and his siblings named the civil
registrar as the sole respondent in the
Milagros Barco (Barco), natural guardian of petition they filed for the correction of
her minor daughter Mary Joy Ann Gustilo, entries in their respective birth certificates in
filed before the appellate court a motion for the civil registry of Butuan City, and
intervention, alleging that Mary Joy had a correction of entries in the birth certificates
legal interest in the annulment of the trial of Carlito’s minor children. Carlito and his
court’s Order as Mary Joy was, by Barco’s siblings requested the correction in their
claim, also fathered by Gustilo. birth certificates of the citizenship of their
mother Epifania to "Filipino," instead of
The appellate court dismissed the petition for "Chinese," and the deletion of the word
annulment and complaint-in-intervention. "married" opposite the phrase "Date of
marriage of parents" because their parents ─
On appeal by Barco, this Court ruled that she Juan and Epifania ─ were not married. And
should have been impleaded in Nadina’s Carlito requested the correction in the birth
petition for correction of entries of the birth certificates of their children of his and his
certificate of Mary Joy. But since a petitioner, wife’s date of marriage to reflect the actual
like Nadina, is not expected to exhaustively date of their marriage as appearing in their
identify all the affected parties, the marriage certificate. In the course of the
subsequent publication of the notice cured hearing of the petition, Carlito also sought
the omission of Barco as a party to the case. the correction of the name of his wife from
Thus the Court explained: Maribel to "Marivel."

Undoubtedly, Barco is among the parties The Khos’ mother Epifania took the witness
referred to in Section 3 of Rule 108.1awphi1 stand where she declared that she was not
Her interest was affected by the petition for
married to Juan who died before the filing of Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in SP
the Khos’ petition. Proc. No. Q-0863058 is NULLIFIED.

The trial court granted the petition. SO ORDERED.

On the issue of whether the failure to


implead Marivel and the Khos’ parents
rendered the trial of the petition short of the
required adversary proceedings and the trial
court’s judgment void, this Court held that
when all the procedural requirements under
Rule 108 are followed, the publication of the
notice of hearing cures the failure to implead
an indispensable party. In so ruling, the
Court noted that the affected parties were
already notified of the proceedings in the
case since the petitioner-siblings Khos were
the ones who initiated the petition respecting
their prayer for correction of their
citizenship, and Carlito respecting the actual
date of his marriage to his wife; and, with
respect to the Khos’ petition for change of
their civil status from legitimate to
illegitimate, their mother Epifania herself
took the witness stand declaring that she
was not married to their father.

What is clear then in Barco and Kho is the


mandatory directive under Section 3 of Rule
108 to implead the civil registrar and the
parties who would naturally and legally be
affected by the grant of a petition for
correction or cancellation of entries. Non-
impleading, however, as party-respondent of
one who is inadvertently left out or is not
established to be known by the petitioner to
be affected by the grant of the petition or
actually participates in the proceeding is G.R. No. L-18008 October 30, 1962
notified through publication.
ELISEA LAPERAL, petitioner,
IN FINE, when a petition for cancellation or vs.
correction of an entry in the civil register REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, oppositor.
involves substantial and controversial
alterations including those on citizenship, Martin B. Laurea and Associates for
legitimacy of paternity or filiation, or petitioner.
legitimacy of marriage, a strict compliance Office of the Solicitor General for oppositor.
with the requirements of Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court is mandated. BARRERA, J.:

WHEREFORE, the petition is, in light of the On May 10, 1960, Elisea Laperal filed in the
foregoing discussions, GRANTED. The Court of First Instance of Baguio (Sp Proc.
January 8, 2009 Decision of Branch 77 of the No. 433) a petition which reads:
1. That petitioner has been a bona fide ground that to allow petitioner, who is a
resident of the City of Baguio for the last businesswoman decreed legally separated
three years prior to the date of the filing of from her husband, to continue using her
this petition; married name would give rise to confusion in
her finances and the eventual liquidation of
2. That petitioner's maiden name is the conjugal assets. Hence, this appeal by
ELISEA LAPERAL; that on March 24, 1939, the State.
she married Mr. Enrique R. Santamaria; that
in a partial decision entered on this The contention of the Republic finds support
Honorable Court on January 18, 1958, in in the provisions of Article 372 of the New
Civil Case No. 356 of this Court, entitled Civil Code which reads:
'Enrique R. Santamaria vs. Elisea L.
Santamaria' Mr. Enrique Santamaria was ART. 372. When legal separation has been
given a decree of legal separation from her; granted, the wife shall continue using her
that the said partial decision is now final; name and surname employed before the
legal separation. (Emphasis supplied)
3. That during her marriage to Enrique R.
Santamaria, she naturally used, instead of Note that the language of the statute is
her maiden name, that of Elisea L. mandatory that the wife, even after the legal
Santamaria; that aside from her legal separation has been decreed, shall continue
separation from Enrique R. Santamaria, she using her name and surname employed
has also ceased to live with him for many before the legal separation. This is so
years now; because her married status is unaffected by
the separation, there being no severance of
4. That in view of the fact that she has the vinculum. It seems to be the policy of
been legally separated from Mr. Enrique R. the law that the wife should continue to use
Santamaria and has likewise ceased to live the name indicative of her unchanged status
with him for many years, it is desirable that for the benefit of all concerned.
she be allowed to change her name and/or
be permitted to resume using her maiden The appellee contends, however, that the
name, to wit: ELISEA LAPERAL. petition is substantially for change of her
name from Elisea L. Santamaria, the one she
WHEREFORE, petitioner respectfully prayed has been using, since her marriage, to Elisea
that after the necessary proceedings are Laperal, her maiden name, giving as reason
had, she be allowed to resume using her or cause therefor her being legally separated
maiden name of Elisea Laperal. from the husband Enrique R. Santamaria,
and the fact that they have ceased to live
The petition was opposed by the City together for many years.
Attorney of Baguio on the ground that the
same violates the provisions of Article 370 There seems to be no dispute that in the
(should be 372) of the Civil Code, and that it institution of these proceedings, the
is not sanctioned by the Rules of Court. procedure prescribed in Rule 103 of the
Rules of Court for change of name has been
In its decision of October 31, 1960, the court observed. But from the petition quoted in full
denied the petition for the reason that Article at the beginning of these opinion, the only
372 of the Civil Code requires the wife, even reason relied upon for the change of name is
after she is decreed legally separated from the fact that petitioner is legally separated
her husband, to continue using the name from her husband and has, in fact, ceased to
and surname she employed before the legal live with him for many years. It is doubtful,
separation. Upon petitioner's motion, to say the least, whether Rule 103 which
however, the court, treating the petition as refers to change of name in general, may
one for change of name, reconsidered its prevail over the specific provisions of Article
decision and granted the petition on the 372 of the New Civil Code with regards to
married women legally separated from their
husbands. Even, however, applying Rule 103
to this case, the fact of legal separation
alone — which is the only basis for the
petition at bar — is, in our opinion, not a
sufficient ground to justify a change of the
name of herein petitioner, for to hold
otherwise would be to provide an easy
circumvention of the mandatory provisions of
Article 372.

It is true that in the second decision which


reconsidered the first it is stated that as the
petitioner owns extensive business interests,
the continued used of her husband surname
may cause undue confusion in her finances
and the eventual liquidation of the conjugal
assets. This finding is however without basis.
In the first place, these were not the causes
upon which the petition was based; hence,
obviously no evidence to this effect had been
adduced. Secondly, with the issuance of the
decree of legal separation in 1958, the G.R. No. L-18127 April 5, 1967
conjugal partnership between petitioner and
her husband had automatically been IN THE MATTER OF THE CHANGES OF NAME
dissolved and liquidated. (Art. 106[2], Civil OF GERTRUDES JOSEFINA DEL PRADO,
Cod). Consequently, there could be no more THRU HER NATURAL GUARDIAN CORAZON
occasion for an eventual liquidation of the ADOLFO CALDERON, petitioner-appellee,
conjugal assets. vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, oppositor-
WHEREFORE, the order of the lower court of appellant.
December 1, 1960, granting the petition, is
hereby set aside and the petition dismissed. Office of the Solicitor General for oppositor
Without costs. So ordered. and appellant.
Angeles, Maskariño & Angeles for petitioner
and appellee.

ZALDIVAR, J.:

This is an appeal by the Solicitor General


from the order of the Court of First Instance
of Davao granting the petition of petitioner-
appellee, Gertrudes Josefina del Prado, for a
change of name.

On July 23, 1959, Gertrudes Josefina del


Prado, a minor, through her mother and
natural guardian, Corazon Adolfo Calderdon,
filed a petition in the Court of First Instance
of Davao, praying that her name "Gertrudes
Josefina del Prado" be changed to "Getrudes
Josefina Calderon." It is alleged in the
petition that the petitioner is an illegitimate
child, born on March 17, 1956, out of a petitioner of her status, rights and
bigamous marriage contracted by Manuel del obligations as recognized by law."
Prado with Corazon Adolfo; that the surname
"Del Prado" which the petitioner carries is a From the above-mentioned order the
stigma of illegitimacy, by reason of which provincial fiscal, representing the Solicitor
she has become the subject of unfair General, appealed to this Court.
comments; that the surname which the
petitioner carries would constitute a In this appeal the Solicitor General contends
handicap in her life in later years, and would (1) that the lower court erred in finding as
give cause for constant irritation in her social proper and reasonable ground for the change
relations with other people; that petitioner is of the surname of the petitioner the reason
living with her mother who is now married to that petitioner's present surname carries the
Engineer Romeo C. Calderon; and that it is stigma of illegitimacy, and (2) that the lower
the desire of the petitioner to have her court erred in declaring "that although the
surname changed from "Del Prado" to law is specific that petitioner shall principally
"Calderon "which is the surname of her use the surname of the father yet it does not
foster father, the husband of her mother. follow that petitioner is prohibited from using
other surnames when justified."1
The publication of the order for the hearing
of the petition was duly made. The issue to be resolved in the present case
is whether the lower court's order granting
On July 11, 1960, the Provincial Fiscal of the petition is, based upon "proper and
Davao, representing the Solicitor General, reasonable cause" as required by Section 5
filed an opposition to the petition upon the of Rule 103 of the new Rules of Court.
ground that the change of surname of the
petition is unwarranted, considering that said The lower court found that petitioner
petitioner was born out of a bigamous Gertrudes Josefina del Prado was born on
marriage and as such she has the status of March 17, 1956, an illegitimate child of
an acknowledged natural child by legal Manuel del Prado and Corazon Adolfo as a
fiction and under the law she should bear the result of their bigamous marriage which was
surname of her father Manuel del Prado; and annulled on July 18, 1957, after a judgment
that the change of the surname of the of conviction of said Manuel del Prado on the
petitioner would be prejudicial to the rights complaint for bigamy on December 5, 1956;
and interest which she has by virtue of the that subsequently, on December 26, 1957,
judgment in Civil Case No. 2272 of the Court Corazon Adolfo, mother of the petitioner, got
of First Instance of Davao, annulling the married to Romeo C. Calderon; that the
marriage of her mother, Corazon Adolfo, to petitioner is living with her mother and her
Manuel del Prado, and would also be foster father; and that Romeo C. Calderon
prejudicial to her rights as conferred upon declared in open court his consent to the
her by law. Counsel for the petitioner filed in petitioner's adopting his surname, especially
reply to the opposition, the provincial fiscal so because he is the one supporting her. The
filed a supplemental opposition, and counsel lower court says, "In the opinion of the Court
for the petitioner filed a reply to the the reasons adduced by the petitioner are
supplemental opposition.1äwphï1.ñët valid and will redound to the best interests of
said minor who after all is not at fault to
After hearing the court a quo issued an have come to this world as an illegitimate
order, under date of July 28, 1960, granting child."
the petition and ordering the change of the
name of the petitioner from "Gertrudes We agree with the court a quo. A petition to
Josefina, del Prado," to "Gertrudes Josefina change the name of an infant, as in this
Calderon." The dispositive portion of the case, should be granted only where to do so
order of the court further states: "This order, is clearly for the best interest of the child.
however, shall not operate to deprive the When the mother of the petitioner filed the
instant petition she had in mind what she showing of a "proper and reasonable cause",
believed was for the best interest of her child We do not see any reason why a natural
considering that her husband Romeo C. child cannot do the same. The purpose of the
Calderon is the one supporting the child and law in allowing a change of name, as
that he is agreeable to the child's using his contemplated by the provisions of Rule 103
surname. The mother had considered the of the Rules of Court, is to give a person an
generous attitude of her husband as an opportunity to improve his personality and to
opportunity for her to promote the promote his interests. We are satisfied that
personality, and enhance the dignity, of her the facts and circumstances as borne out by
daughter, by eliminating what constitutes a the record amply justify the change of the
stigma of illegitimacy which her child would surname of the petitioner, as ordered by the
continue to bear if her surname is that of her lower court . We have held that the matter
illegitimate father. whether to grant or deny a petition for a
change of name is left to the sound
The Solicitor General, in his brief, avers that discretion of the court,2 and in the present
the evident purpose of petitioner in seeking case We believe that the court a quo has
a change of her surname is to conceal her exercised its discretion in a judicious way
status as an illegitimate child and that any when it granted the petition.
attempt to conceal illegitimacy cannot be
motivated by good faith and an honest The Solicitor General expresses an
purpose. The Solicitor General further alleges apprehension that because the petitioner
that to authorize the change of the name of here is of tender age, who cannot as yet
the petitioner would be to sanction a understand and appreciate the value of the
misrepresentation because the petitioner change of her name, may be prejudiced in
wants to appear as if she is the daughter of her rights under the law. This apprehension
Romeo C. Calderon. We cannot agree with is dispelled by the pronouncement of this
the view of the Solicitor General. The Court, speaking through Mr. Justice
Solicitor General seems to support the idea Makalintal, as follow:
that since the petitioner has the misfortune
of being born illegitimate she must bear that ... But a change of name as authorized
stigma of illegitimacy as long as she lives. under Rule 103 does not by itself define, or
That idea should not be countenanced. affect a change in, one's existing family
Justice dictates that every person be allowed relations, or in the rights and duties flowing
to avail of any opportunity to improve his therefrom; nor does it create new family
social standing as long as in so doing he rights and duties where none before was
does not cause prejudice or injury to the existing. It does not alter one's legal
interests of the State or of other people. capacity, civil status, or citizenship. What is
altered is only the name, which is that word
The Solicitor General also contends that the or combination of words by which a person is
status of the petitioner is that of a natural distinguished from others and which he
child by legal fiction and under Article 367 of bears as a label or appellation for the
the Civil Code she shall principally enjoy the convenience of the world at large in
surname of the father. We agree with the addressing him, or in speaking of or dealing
lower court when it said that "While it is true with him (38 Am. Jur. 596). (In Re Petition
that the Code provides that a natural child for Change of Name of Joselito Yu, Juan S.
by legal fiction as the petitioner herein shall Barrera vs. Republic of the Philippines, L-
principally enjoy the surname of the father, 20874, May 25, 1966)
yet, this does not mean that such child is
prohibited by law, from taking another In view of the foregoing, the order appealed
surname with the latters consent and for from is affirmed, without pronouncement as
justifiable reasons." If under the law a to the costs. It is so ordered.
legitimate child may secure a change of his
name through judicial proceedings, upon a
G.R. No. 129846 January 18, 2000

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and TRADERS ROYAL
BANK, respondents.

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition, for certiorari seeking to set


aside the resolution,1 dated March 17, 1997,
of the Court of Appeals dismissing
petitioner's appeal from an order of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, Manila,
which dismissed petitioner's complaint. The
appellate court threw out petitioner's appeal
on the ground that its notice of appeal had
been filed out of time. Petitioner urges a
relaxation of the rules in applying the period
for filing appeals. But even its appeal to this
Court from the resolution of the appellate
court is late. Hence, the dismissal of the
present petition is called for.1âwphi1.nêt

The procedural antecedents are as follows:

On two occasions in January 1986, the Office


of the President issued four type "B"
Treasury Warrants drawn against the Bureau
of Treasury in the aggregate amount of
P151,645,000.00. The treasury warrants
were deposited in private respondent
Traders Royal Bank for collection.

On January 7, 1986, private respondent


presented the warrants to the Bureau of
Treasury for clearing. The warrants were
cleared and private respondent credited the
amounts to the designated payees'
accounts.2 Petitioner subsequently
discovered on April 3, 1986 that the payees'
indorsements on the warrants had been
forged. It demanded reimbursement from
private respondent of the amounts paid on
the warrants but the latter refused to pay.
On October 13, 1987, petitioner, through the extension of time. Its motion was granted,
Bureau of Treasury, filed Civil Case No. 87- but instead of filing its brief, private
42752 for collection against private respondent asked the appellate court to
respondent before the Regional Trial Court, dismiss petitioner's appeal on the ground
Branch 19, Manila. Trial then ensued. After that it was filed out of time. Its motion was
petitioner had rested its case, private granted and petitioner's appeal was
respondent, with prior leave of court, filed a dismissed. Petitioner filed a motion for
Demurrer to Evidence on January 12, 1994. reconsideration, but its motion was denied.
Among others, it was contended: Petitioner received the appellate court's
resolution denying its motion on June 5,
. . . The plaintiff does not claim nor alleged 1997, so that it had until June 20, 1997
that because of the alleged forgery of the within which to appeal to this Court by filing
indorsements of the payees, it (the plaintiff) a petition for review on certiorari under Rule
had to replace the treasury warrants in 45. Instead, petitioner filed on August 4,
question and thus pay the payees all over 1997, 45 days after the last day to file an
again. Does not the cause of action or right appeal, the present petition for certiorari
to relief, then, if any, properly pertain to the under Rule 65, contending that the Court of
payees whose endorsements were allegedly Appeals gravely abused its discretion in
forged? And is not such a cause of action or dismissing its appeal from the order of the
right to relief properly against the forger/s or RTC which dismissed its complaint against
perpetrator of the forgery? private respondent.

In an order dated September 30, 1994, the As earlier stated, this petition should be
trial court denied the demurrer to evidence. dismissed.
However, on motion of private respondent,
the trial court, on January 30, 1995, First. Petitioner's remedy was to appeal to
reconsidered its order and dismissed this Court from the resolutions, dated March
petitioner's complaint. Petitioner received 17, 1997 and May 20, 1997, of the appellate
the order of dismissal on February 7, 1995. court by filing a petition for review on
Hence, it had up to February 22, 1995 within certiorari under Rule 45. Instead, it filed this
which to appeal. petition for certiorari under Rule 65 only on
August 4, 1997. Apparently, petitioner
On February 20, 1995, two days before the resorted to this special civil action because it
last day to file an appeal, petitioner filed a had failed to take an appeal within the 15-
motion for reconsideration of the order of day reglementary period which expired on
dismissal which interrupted the running of June 20, 1997. This, of course, cannot be
the period of appeal. done. The special civil action of certiorari
cannot be used as a substitute for an appeal
On May 23, 1995, the trial court denied which petitioner has lost. Nor can it be
petitioner's motion for reconsideration. The contended that the only question raised in
order was received by petitioner on June 2, this case is a jurisdictional question.
1995, so that it had until June 4, 1995 within Certiorari lies only where there is no appeal
which to file the notice of appeal. However, nor any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy
petitioner filed its notice of appeal only on in the ordinary course of law. There is no
June 16, 1995, 12 days beyond the 15-day reason why the question being raised by
reglementary period. As a consequence, the petitioner, i.e., whether the appellate court
dismissal became final. For some reason, committed a grave abuse of discretion in
this fact was not immediately noticed, so dismissing petitions, could not have been
that the records of the case were elevated to raised by it on appeal.
the Court of Appeals and petitioner was
required to file its appellant's brief. When it In Bernardo vs. Court of Appeals,3 we
came to its turn to file its brief as an dismissed a Rule 65 petition on the ground
appellee, private respondent asked for an that the proper remedy for petitioner therein
should have been an appeal under Rule 45 of instances, has allowed the rules on the
the Rules of Court, viz.: periods for perfecting appeals to be
relaxed.9 Unfortunately for petitioner, even
At the outset, this Court notes that the a cursory reading of the very case upon
proper remedy of Petitioner Bernardo should which it relies for support shows that the
have been an appeal under Rule 45 of the policy invoked is qualified by the
Rules of Court. We have time and again requirement that there must be exceptional
reminded members of the bench and bar circumstances to justify the relaxation of the
that a special civil action for certiorari under rules. The case cited, which involved an
Rule 65 lies only when "there is no appeal appeal made five days late, illustrates how
nor plain, speedy and adequate remedy in questions of this nature have been resolved
the ordinary course of law." Certiorari can by this Court:
not be allowed when a party to a case fails
to appeal a judgment despite the availability True, in few highly exceptional instances, we
of that remedy, certiorari not being a have allowed the relaxing of the rules on the
substitute for lost appeal. The remedies of application of the reglementary periods of
appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive appeal. We cite a few typical examples: In
and not alternative or successive. . . .4 Ramos vs. Bagasao, 96 SCRA 395, we
excused the delay of four days in the filing of
Admittedly, this Court, in accordance with a notice of appeal because the questioned
the liberal spirit pervading the Rules of Court decision of the trial court was served upon
and in the interest of justice, has the appellant Ramos at a time when her counsel
discretion to treat a petition for certiorari as of record was already dead. Her new counsel
having been filed under Rule 45, especially if could only file the appeal four days after the
filed within the reglementary period for filing prescribed reglementary period was over. In
a petition for review.5 In this case, however, Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 83 SCRA 453,
we find no reason to justify a liberal we allowed the perfection of an appeal by
application of the rules. The petition was the Republic despite the delay of six days to
filed well beyond the reglementary period for prevent a gross miscarriage of justice since
filing a petition for review without any the Republic stands to lose hundreds of
reason therefor. hectares of land already titled in its name
and had since then been devoted for
Second. Even on the grounds invoked by educational purposes. In Olacao vs. National
petitioner we think the present petition Labor Relations Commission, 577 SCRA 38,
should be dismissed. Time and again, we 41, we accepted a tardy appeal considering
have emphasized that the perfection of that the subject matter in issue had
appeals in the manner and within the period theretofore been judicially settled, with
permitted by law is not only mandatory but finality, in another case. The dismissal of the
jurisdictional, and that the failure to perfect appeal would have had the effect of the
an appeal renders the decision of the trial appellant being ordered twice to make the
court final and executory.6 This rule is same reparation to the appellee.
founded upon the principle that the right to
appeal is not part of due process of law but The case at bench, given its own settings,
is a mere statutory privilege to be exercised can not come close to those extraordinary
only in the manner and in accordance with circumstances that have indeed justified a
the provisions of the law.7 In this case, we deviation from an otherwise stringent rule.
find no reason to depart from this rule. Let it not be overlooked that the timeliness
of an appeal is a jurisdictional caveat that
Petitioner invokes the judicial policy of not even this Court can trifle with.10
allowing appeals, although filed late, when
the interest of justice so requires. Citing As in Bank of America, there is no showing in
Bank of America, NT & SA v. Gerochi, Jr.,8 it this case of a factual setting which
contends that this Court, in meritorious approximates any of the extraordinary
circumstances which may justify a deviation broader interest of substantial justice.12
from the rule on timely filing of appeals. While every litigant must be given the
Anyone seeking exemption from the amplest opportunity for the proper and just
application of this rule has the burden of determination of his cause, free from the
proving that exceptionally meritorious constraints of technicalities,13 the failure to
instances exist which warrant such perfect an appeal within the reglementary
departure. In this case, petitioner failed to period is not a mere technicality. It raises a
discharge this burden. It offered no jurisdictional problem as it deprives the
explanation at all for the 12-day delay in appellate court of jurisdiction over the
filing its notice of appeal. What was said in appeal.14 The failure to file the notice of
Videogram Regulatory Board v. Court of appeal within the reglementary period is akin
Appeals11 applies with equal force to this to the failure to pay the appeal fee within the
case, as petitioner is likewise represented by prescribed period. In both cases, the appeal
the Office of the Solicitor General, viz.: is not perfected in due time. As we held in
Pedrosa v. Hill,15 the requirement of an
And, while we understand the OSG's appeal fee is by no means a mere
predicament, its oft-repeated excuse of technicality of law or procedure, but an
being saddled with a huge caseload, which is essential requirement without which the
resorted to almost everytime it applies for decision appealed from would become final
extension of time for appeal and filing of and executory.16 The same can be said
comments/replies/briefs, has already lost its about the late filing of a notice of appeal.
flavor, if not gone stale entirely. Certainly,
by this time the OSG must have already The fact is that petitioner did not only fail to
developed a system for keeping crack of all appeal from the main order of the trial court
its deadlines and monitoring the progress of dismissing its complaint. It did not only fail
work being done on the cases it is handling. to appeal on time from the order denying
After all, government service really entails reconsideration. Petitioner likewise failed to
hard work and perennial unceasing pressure make a timely appeal to this Court from the
to meet deadlines. Most assuredly, this is not resolution of the appellate court dismissing
a ground for the liberal interpretation of the its appeal.
rules. Only in exceptionally meritorious cases
should the rules be relaxed. Such has not Nonetheless, it is contended that petitioner
been shown to be the situation in this case. has a meritorious claim against private
respondent and that it stands to lose
After its case was dismissed by the trial P151,645,000.00 if it cannot appeal from the
court, all that the OSG had to do was to file trial court's order dismissing its complaint
a notice of appeal, which is just a brief against private respondent. The finality of
statement of petitioner's intention to appeal the trial court's order as a consequence of
from the court's decision. There is no reason petitioner's failure to appeal on time, first to
why the OSG could not have this in two the Court of Appeals and, later to this Court,
days. Unlike a record on appeal, a notice of unfortunately, bars further consideration of
appeal does not require the extractions of its case. There is simply no explanation
pleadings and documents from the records offered for such lapses.
pertinent to the subject of the appeal. In the
absence of any satisfactory explanation, the Third. There is another reason why review of
OSG's failure to file a timely notice of appeal the trial court's order cannot be made.
simply cannot be excused without defeating Petitioner does not dispute the fact that, as
private respondent's right, as a party- observed by the Court of Appeals, its notice
litigant, to benefit from a decision that has of appeal referred only to the order of the
become final executory. trial court denying its Motion for
Reconsideration and not the order of
Nor can petitioner invoke the doctrine that dismissal of its complaint as well.17 Such
rules of technicality must yield to the failure is fatal. Rule 37, §9 of the Rules of
Civil Procedure provides that an order REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
denying a motion for reconsideration is not
appealable, the remedy being an appeal DECISION
from the judgment or final order. On the
other hand, Rule 41, §1(a) of the same rules CALLEJO, SR., J.:
also provides that no appeal may be taken
from an order denying a motion for Assailed in this petition for review on
reconsideration. It is true the present Rules certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
of Civil Procedure took effect only on July 1, is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in
1997 whereas this case involves an appeal CA-G.R. CV No. 77826 which reversed the
taken in February 1995. But Rule 37, §9 and Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
Rule 41, §1(a) simply codified the rulings in of Tarlac City, Branch 63 in Civil Case No.
several cases to the effect that an order 2733 granting the Petition for Adoption of
denying a motion for reconsideration is the petitioner herein.
interlocutory in nature18 and, therefore, is
not appealable.19 These rules, therefore, are The Antecedents
not really new.
On February 4, 2002, Diwata Ramos
The outcome of this petition maybe a bitter Landingin, a citizen of the United States of
lesson for petitioner, but one mainly of its America (USA), of Filipino parentage and a
own doing. Not only did it file its notice of resident of Guam, USA, filed a petition3 for
appeal well beyond the reglementary period, the adoption of minors Elaine Dizon Ramos
it actually failed to appeal from the order who was born on August 31, 1986;4 Elma
dismissing its case against private Dizon Ramos, who was born on September
respondent. The inevitable consequence of 7, 1987;5 and Eugene Dizon Ramos who was
such grave inadvertence is to render the trial born on August 5, 1989.6 The minors are the
court's decision dismissing its case final and natural children of Manuel Ramos,
executory. The Court of Appeals thus acted petitioner’s brother, and Amelia Ramos.
properly in dismissing petitioner's
appeal.1âwphi1.nêt Landingin, as petitioner, alleged in her
petition that when Manuel died on May 19,
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. 1990,7 the children were left to their
paternal grandmother, Maria Taruc Ramos;
SO ORDERED. their biological mother, Amelia, went to
Italy, re-married there and now has two
children by her second marriage and no
longer communicated with her children by
Manuel Ramos nor with her in-laws from the
time she left up to the institution of the
adoption; the minors are being financially
supported by the petitioner and her children,
and relatives abroad; as Maria passed away
on November 23, 2000, petitioner desires to
adopt the children; the minors have given
their written consent8 to the adoption; she is
qualified to adopt as shown by the fact that
she is a 57-year-old widow, has children of
her own who are already married, gainfully
employed and have their respective families;
G.R. No. 164948 June 27, 2006 she lives alone in her own home in Guam,
USA, where she acquired citizenship, and
DIWATA RAMOS LANDINGIN Petitioner, works as a restaurant server. She came back
vs. to the Philippines to spend time with the
minors; her children gave their written
consent9 to the adoption of the minors. In view of the foregoing, undersigned finds
Petitioner’s brother, Mariano Ramos, who minors Elaine, Elma & Eugene all surnamed
earns substantial income, signified his Ramos, eligible for adoption because of the
willingness and commitment to support the following reasons:
minors while in petitioner’s custody.
1. Minors’ surviving parent, the mother has
Petitioner prayed that, after due hearing, voluntarily consented to their adoption by
judgment be rendered in her favor, as the paternal aunt, Diwata Landingin this is in
follows: view of her inability to provide the parental
care, guidance and support they need. An
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed Affidavit of Consent was executed by the
to this Honorable Court that after publication mother which is hereto attached.
and hearing, judgment be rendered allowing
the adoption of the minor children Elaine 2. The three minors subject for adoption
Dizon Ramos, Elma Dizon Ramos, and have also expressed their willingness to be
Eugene Dizon Ramos by the petitioner, and adopted and joins the petitioners in Guam,
ordering that the minor children’s name USA in the future. A joint Affidavit of consent
follow the family name of petitioner. is hereto attached. The minors developed
close attachment to the petitioners and they
Petitioner prays for such other reliefs, just regarded her as second parent.
and equitable under the premises.10
3. The minors are present under the care of
On March 5, 2002, the court ordered the a temporary guardian who has also family to
Department of Social Welfare and look after. As young adolescents they really
Development (DSWD) to conduct a case need parental love, care, guidance and
study as mandated by Article 34 of support to ensure their protection and well
Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, being.
and to submit a report thereon not later than
April 4, 2002, the date set for the initial In view of the foregoing, it is hereby
hearing of the petition.11 The Office of the respectfully recommended that minors Elaine
Solicitor General (OSG) entered its D. Ramos, Elma D. Ramos and Eugene D.
appearance12 but deputized the City Ramos be adopted by their maternal aunt
Prosecutor of Tarlac to appear in its Diwata Landingin. Trial custody is hereby
behalf.13 Since her petition was unopposed, further recommended to be dispensed with
petitioner was allowed to present her considering that they are close relatives and
evidence ex parte.14 that close attachments was already
developed between the petitioner and the 3
The petitioner testified in her behalf. She minors.17
also presented Elaine Ramos, the eldest of
the adoptees, to testify on the written Pagbilao narrated what transpired during her
consent executed by her and her siblings.15 interview, as follows:
The petitioner marked in evidence the
Affidavit of Consent purportedly executed by The mother of minors came home together
her children Ann, Errol, Dennis and Ricfel with her son John Mario, this May 2002 for 3
Branitley, all surnamed Landingin, and weeks vacation. This is to enable her appear
notarized by a notary public in Guam, USA, for the personal interview concerning the
as proof of said consent.16 adoption of her children.

On May 24, 2002, Elizabeth Pagbilao, Social The plan for the adoption of minors by their
Welfare Officer II of the DSWD, Field Office paternal aunt Diwata Landingin was
III, Tarlac, submitted a Child Study Report, conceived after the death of their paternal
with the following recommendation: grandmother and guardian. The paternal
relatives including the petitioner who changes/amendment in the birth certificates
attended the wake of their mother were very of the above-mentioned minors.
much concerned about the well-being of the
three minors. While preparing for their SO ORDERED.19
adoption, they have asked a cousin who has
a family to stay with minors and act as their The OSG appealed20 the decision to the
temporary guardian. Court of Appeals on December 2, 2002. In
its brief21 for the oppositor-appellant, the
The mother of minors was consulted about OSG raised the following arguments:
the adoption plan and after weighing the
benefits of adoption to her children, she I
voluntarily consented. She realized that her
children need parental love, guidance and THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE
support which she could not provide as she PETITION FOR ADOPTION DESPITE THE
already has a second family & residing in LACK OF CONSENT OF THE PROPOSED
Italy. Knowing also that the petitioners & her ADOPTEES’ BIOLOGICAL MOTHER.
children have been supporting her children
up to the present and truly care for them, II
she believes her children will be in good
hands. She also finds petitioners in a better THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE
position to provide a secured and bright PETITION FOR ADOPTION DESPITE THE
future to her children.18 LACK OF THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE
PETITIONER’S CHILDREN AS REQUIRED BY
However, petitioner failed to present LAW.
Pagbilao as witness and offer in evidence the
voluntary consent of Amelia Ramos to the III
adoption; petitioner, likewise, failed to
present any documentary evidence to prove THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE
that Amelia assents to the adoption. PETITION FOR ADOPTION DESPITE
PETITIONER’S FAILURE TO ESTABLISH THAT
On November 23, 2002, the court, finding SHE IS IN A POSITION TO SUPPORT THE
merit in the petition for adoption, rendered a PROPOSED ADOPTEES.
decision granting said petition. The
dispositive portion reads: On April 29, 2004, the CA rendered a
decision22 reversing the ruling of the RTC. It
WHEREFORE, it is hereby ordered that held that petitioner failed to adduce in
henceforth, minors Elaine Dizon Ramos, evidence the voluntary consent of Amelia
Elma Dizon Ramos, Eugene Dizon Ramos be Ramos, the children’s natural mother.
freed from all legal obligations obedience Moreover, the affidavit of consent of the
and maintenance from their natural parents petitioner’s children could not also be
and that they be declared for all legal intents admitted in evidence as the same was
and purposes the children of Diwata Ramos executed in Guam, USA and was not
Landingin. Trial custody is dispensed with authenticated or acknowledged before a
considering that parent-children relationship Philippine consular office, and although
has long been established between the petitioner has a job, she was not stable
children and the adoptive parents. Let the enough to support the children. The
surnames of the children be changed from dispositive portion of the CA decision reads:
"Dizon-Ramos" to "Ramos-Landingin."
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the
Let a copy of this decision be furnished the appealed decision dated November 25, 2002
Local Civil Registrar of Tarlac, Tarlac for him of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 63, Tarlac
to effect the corresponding City in Spec. Proc. No. 2733 is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
adopted for the manifestation of their natural
SO ORDERED.23 parental instincts. Every reasonable
intendment should thus be sustained to
Petitioner filed a Motion for promote and fulfill these noble and
Reconsideration24 on May 21, 2004, which compassionate objectives of the law.29
the CA denied in its Resolution dated August
12, 2004.25 However, in Cang v. Court of Appeals,30 the
Court also ruled that the liberality with which
Petitioner, thus, filed the instant petition for this Court treats matters leading to adoption
review on certiorari26 on September 7, insofar as it carries out the beneficent
2004, assigning the following errors: purposes of the law to ensure the rights and
privileges of the adopted child arising
1. THAT THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT therefrom, ever mindful that the paramount
HAS OVERLOOKED AND MISAPPLIED SOME consideration is the overall benefit and
FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ARE interest of the adopted child, should be
OF WEIGHT AND IMPORTANCE AND WHICH understood in its proper context and
IF CONSIDERED WOULD HAVE AFFECTED perspective. The Court’s position should not
THE RESULT OF THE CASE. be misconstrued or misinterpreted as to
extend to inferences beyond the
2. THAT THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT contemplation of law and jurisprudence.
ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT THE Thus, the discretion to approve adoption
PETITIONER-APPELLEE IS NOT FINANCIALLY proceedings is not to be anchored solely on
CAPABLE TO SUPPORT THE THREE best interests of the child but likewise, with
CHILDREN.27 due regard to the natural rights of the
parents over the child.31
The issues raised by the parties in their
pleadings are the following: (a) whether the Section 9 of Republic Act No. 8552,
petitioner is entitled to adopt the minors otherwise known as the Domestic Adoption
without the written consent of their biological Act of 1998, provides:
mother, Amelia Ramos; (b) whether or not
the affidavit of consent purportedly executed Sec. 9. Whose Consent is Necessary to the
by the petitioner-adopter’s children Adoption. - After being properly counseled
sufficiently complies with the law; and (c) and informed of his/her right to give or
whether or not petitioner is financially withhold his/her approval of the adoption,
capable of supporting the adoptees. the written consent of the following to the
adoption is hereby required:
The Court’s Ruling
(a) The adoptee, if ten (10) years of age or
The petition is denied for lack of merit. over;

It has been the policy of the Court to adhere (b) The biological parent(s) of the child, if
to the liberal concept, as stated in Malkinson known, or the legal guardian, or the proper
v. Agrava,28 that adoption statutes, being government instrumentality which has legal
humane and salutary, hold the interest and custody of the child;
welfare of the child to be of paramount
consideration and are designed to provide (c) The legitimate and adopted
homes, parental care and education for sons/daughters, ten (10) years of age or
unfortunate, needy or orphaned children and over, of the adopter(s) and adoptee, if any;
give them the protection of society and
family in the person of the adopter as well as (d) The illegitimate sons/daughters, ten (10)
to allow childless couples or persons to years of age or over, of the adopter, if living
experience the joys of parenthood and give with said adopter and the latter’s souse, if
them legally a child in the person of the any;
worker that she conformed to the adoption
(e) The spouse, if any, of the person of her three children by the petitioner.
adopting or to be adopted.
Petitioner’s contention must be rejected.
The general requirement of consent and When she filed her petition with the trial
notice to the natural parents is intended to court, Rep. Act No. 8552 was already in
protect the natural parental relationship from effect. Section 9 thereof provides that if the
unwarranted interference by interlopers, and written consent of the biological parents
to insure the opportunity to safeguard the cannot be obtained, the written consent of
best interests of the child in the manner of the legal guardian of the minors will suffice.
the proposed adoption.32 If, as claimed by petitioner, that the
biological mother of the minors had indeed
Clearly, the written consent of the biological abandoned them, she should, thus have
parents is indispensable for the validity of a adduced the written consent of their legal
decree of adoption. Indeed, the natural right guardian.
of a parent to his child requires that his
consent must be obtained before his parental Ordinarily, abandonment by a parent to
rights and duties may be terminated and re- justify the adoption of his child without his
established in adoptive parents. In this case, consent, is a conduct which evinces a settled
petitioner failed to submit the written purpose to forego all parental duties.33 The
consent of Amelia Ramos to the adoption. term means neglect and refusal to perform
the filial and legal obligations of love and
We note that in her Report, Pagbilao support. If a parent withholds presence,
declared that she was able to interview love, care, the opportunity to display filial
Amelia Ramos who arrived in the Philippines affection, and neglects to lend support and
with her son, John Mario in May 2002. If said maintenance, the parent, in effect, abandons
Amelia Ramos was in the Philippines and the child.34
Pagbilao was able to interview her, it is
incredible that the latter would not require Merely permitting the child to remain for a
Amelia Ramos to execute a Written Consent time undisturbed in the care of others is not
to the adoption of her minor children. such an abandonment.35 To dispense with
Neither did the petitioner bother to present the requirement of consent, the
Amelia Ramos as witness in support of the abandonment must be shown to have
petition. existed at the time of adoption.36

Petitioner, nonetheless, argues that the In this case, petitioner relied solely on her
written consent of the biological mother is no testimony and that of Elaine Ramos to prove
longer necessary because when Amelia’s her claim that Amelia Ramos had abandoned
husband died in 1990, she left for Italy and her children. Petitioner’s testimony on that
never came back. The children were then left matter follows:
to the guidance and care of their paternal
grandmother. It is the paternal relatives, Q Where is the mother of these three
including petitioner, who provided for the children now?
children’s financial needs. Hence, Amelia, the
biological mother, had effectively abandoned A She left for Italy on November 20, 1990,
the children. Petitioner further contends that sir.
it was by twist of fate that after 12 years,
when the petition for adoption was pending Q At the time when Amelia Ramos left for
with the RTC that Amelia and her child by Italy, was there an instance where she
her second marriage were on vacation in the communicated with the family?
Philippines. Pagbilao, the DSWD social
worker, was able to meet her, and during A None, sir.
the meeting, Amelia intimated to the social
Q How about with her children?
Since the mother left for Italy, minors
A None, sir. siblings had been under the care and
custody of their maternal grandmother.
Q Do you know what place in Italy did she However, she died in Nov. 2001 and an
reside? uncle, cousin of their deceased father now
serves as their guardian. The petitioner,
A I do not know, sir. together with her children and other
relatives abroad have been supporting the
Q Did you receive any news about Amelia minor children financially, even during the
Ramos? time that they were still living with their
natural parents. Their mother also sends
A What I know, sir, was that she was already financial support but very minimal.39
married with another man.
xxxx
Q From whom did you learn that?
V. Background Information about the Minors
A From others who came from Italy, sir. Being Sought for Adoption:

Q Did you come to know whether she has xxxx


children by her second marriage?
As the eldest she tries her best to be a role
A Yes, sir, she got two kids.37 model to her younger siblings. She helps
them in their lessons, works and has fun
Elaine, the eldest of the minors, testified, with them. She also encourages openness on
thus: their problems and concerns and provides
petty counseling. In serious problems she
Q Where is your mother now? already consult (sic) her mother and
petitioner-aunt.40
A In Italy, sir.
xxxx
Q When did your mother left for Italy?
In their 5 years of married life, they begot 3
A After my father died, sir. children, herein minors, Amelia recalled that
they had a happy and comfortable life. After
Q How old were you when your mother left the death of her husband, her in-laws which
for Italy in 1990? include the petitioner had continued
providing support for them. However being
A Two years old, sir. ashamed of just depending on the support of
her husband’s relatives, she decided to work
Q At the time when your mother left for abroad. Her parents are also in need of
Italy, did your mother communicate with financial help as they are undergoing
you? maintenance medication. Her parents
mortgaged their farm land which she used in
A No, sir.38 going to Italy and worked as domestic
helper.
However, the Home Study Report of the
DSWD Social Worker also stated the When she left for Italy in November 1990,
following: she entrusted her 3 children to the care &
custody of her mother-in-law who returned
IV. Background of the Case: home for good, however she died on
November 2000.
xxxx
While working in Italy, she met Jun Tayag, a Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court
married man from Tarlac. They became live- provides that the Court shall consider no
in partners since 1995 and have a son John evidence which has not been formally
Mario who is now 2 years old. The three of offered. The purpose for which the evidence
them are considered Italian residents. is offered must be specified. The offer of
Amelia claimed that Mr. Tayag is planning to evidence is necessary because it is the duty
file an annulment of his marriage and his of the Court to rest its findings of fact and its
wife is amenable to it. He is providing his judgment only and strictly upon the evidence
legitimate family regular support. offered by the parties. Unless and until
admitted by the court in evidence for the
Amelia also sends financial support ranging purpose or purposes for which such
from P10,000-P15,000 a month through her document is offered, the same is merely a
parents who share minimal amount of scrap of paper barren of probative weight.
P3,000-P5,000 a month to his (sic) children. Mere identification of documents and the
The petitioner and other paternal relatives markings thereof as exhibits do not confer
are continuously providing support for most any evidentiary weight on documents unless
of the needs & education of minors up to formally offered.44
present.41
Petitioner failed to offer in evidence
Thus, when Amelia left for Italy, she had not Pagbilao’s Report and of the Joint Affidavit of
intended to abandon her children, or to Consent purportedly executed by her
permanently sever their mother-child children; the authenticity of which she,
relationship. She was merely impelled to likewise, failed to prove. The joint written
leave the country by financial constraints. consent of petitioner’s children45 was
Yet, even while abroad, she did not notarized on January 16, 2002 in Guam,
surrender or relinquish entirely her motherly USA; for it to be treated by the Rules of
obligations of rearing the children to her now Court in the same way as a document
deceased mother-in-law, for, as claimed by notarized in this country it needs to comply
Elaine herself, she consulted her mother, with Section 2 of Act No. 2103,46 which
Amelia, for serious personal problems. states:
Likewise, Amelia continues to send financial
support to the children, though in minimal Section 2. An instrument or document
amounts as compared to what her affluent acknowledged and authenticated in a foreign
in-laws provide. country shall be considered authentic if the
acknowledgment and authentication are
Let it be emphasized, nevertheless, that the made in accordance with the following
adoption of the minors herein will have the requirements:
effect of severing all legal ties between the
biological mother, Amelia, and the adoptees, (a) The acknowledgment shall be made
and that the same shall then be vested on before (1) an ambassador, minister,
the adopter.42 It would thus be against the secretary of legation, chargé d affaires,
spirit of the law if financial consideration consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of the
were to be the paramount consideration in Republic of the Philippines, acting within the
deciding whether to deprive a person of country or place to which he is accredited, or
parental authority over his/her children. (2) a notary public or officer duly authorized
More proof has to be adduced that Amelia by law of the country to take
has emotionally abandoned the children, and acknowledgments of instruments or
that the latter will not miss her guidance and documents in the place where the act is
counsel if they are given to an adopting done.
parent.43 Again, it is the best interest of the
child that takes precedence in adoption. (b) The person taking the acknowledgment
shall certify that the person acknowledging
the instrument or document is known to him,
and that he is the same person who an hour with tips of not less than $1,000.00
executed it, and acknowledged that the a month. Her children and siblings have
same is his free act and deed. The certificate likewise committed themselves to provide
shall be under his official seal, if he is by law financial backing should the need arise. The
required to keep a seal, and if not, his OSG, again in its comment, banks on the
certificate shall so state. In case the statement in the Home Study Report that
acknowledgment is made before a notary "petitioner has limited income." Accordingly,
public or an officer mentioned in subdivision it appears that she will rely on the financial
(2) of the preceding paragraph, the backing of her children and siblings in order
certificate of the notary public or the officer to support the minor adoptees. The law,
taking the acknowledgment shall be however, states that it is the adopter who
authenticated by an ambassador, minister, should be in a position to provide support in
secretary of legation, chargé de affaires, keeping with the means of the family.
consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of the
Republic of the Philippines, acting within the Since the primary consideration in adoption
country or place to which he is accredited. is the best interest of the child, it follows
The officer making the authentication shall that the financial capacity of prospective
certify under his official seal that the person parents should also
who took the acknowledgment was at the be carefully evaluated and considered.
time duly authorized to act as notary public Certainly, the adopter should be in a position
or that he was duly exercising the functions to support the would-be adopted child or
of the office by virtue of which he assumed children, in keeping with the means of the
to act, and that as such he had authority family.
under the law to take acknowledgment of
instruments or documents in the place where According to the Adoption Home Study
the acknowledgment was taken, and that his Report49 forwarded by the Department of
signature and seal, if any, are genuine. Public Health & Social Services of the
Government of Guam to the DSWD,
As the alleged written consent of petitioner’s petitioner is no longer supporting her
legitimate children did not comply with the legitimate children, as the latter are already
afore-cited law, the same can at best be adults, have individual lives and families. At
treated by the Rules as a private document the time of the filing of the petition,
whose authenticity must be proved either by petitioner was 57 years old, employed on a
anyone who saw the document executed or part-time basis as a waitress, earning $5.15
written; or by evidence of the genuineness an hour and tips of around $1,000 a month.
of the signature or handwriting of the Petitioner’s main intention in adopting the
makers.47 children is to bring the latter to Guam, USA.
She has a house at Quitugua Subdivision in
Since, in the instant case, no further proof Yigo, Guam, but the same is still being
was introduced by petitioner to authenticate amortized. Petitioner likewise knows that the
the written consent of her legitimate limited income might be a hindrance to the
children, the same is inadmissible in adoption proceedings.
evidence.
Given these limited facts, it is indeed
In reversing the ruling of the RTC, the CA doubtful whether petitioner will be able to
ruled that petitioner was not stable enough sufficiently handle the financial aspect of
to support the children and is only relying on rearing the three children in the US. She
the financial backing, support and only has a part-time job, and she is rather of
commitment of her children and her age. While petitioner claims that she has the
siblings.48 Petitioner contradicts this by financial support and backing of her children
claiming that she is financially capable as and siblings, the OSG is correct in stating
she has worked in Guam for 14 years, has that the ability to support the adoptees is
savings, a house, and currently earns $5.15 personal to the adopter, as adoption only
creates a legal relation between the former Petitioner Maria Virginia V. Remo is a
and the latter. Moreover, the records do not married Filipino citizen whose Philippine
prove nor support petitioner’s allegation that passport was then expiring on 27 October
her siblings and her children are financially 2000. Petitioner being married to Francisco
able and that they are willing to support the R. Rallonza, the following entries appear in
minors herein. The Court, therefore, again her passport: "Rallonza" as her surname,
sustains the ruling of the CA on this issue. "Maria Virginia" as her given name, and
"Remo" as her middle name. Prior to the
While the Court recognizes that petitioner expiry of the validity of her passport,
has only the best of intentions for her nieces petitioner, whose marriage still subsists,
and nephew, there are legal infirmities that applied for the renewal of her passport with
militate against reversing the ruling of the the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
CA. In any case, petitioner is not prevented office in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., with a
from filing a new petition for adoption of the request to revert to her maiden name and
herein minors. surname in the replacement passport.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petitioner’s request having been denied,


petition is hereby DENIED. Atty. Manuel Joseph R. Bretana III,
representing petitioner, wrote then Secretary
SO ORDERED. of Foreign Affairs Domingo Siason expressing
a similar request.

On 28 August 2000, the DFA, through


Assistant Secretary Belen F. Anota, denied
the request, stating thus:

G.R. No. 169202 March 5, 2010 This has reference to your letter dated 17
August 2000 regarding one Ms. Maria
MARIA VIRGINIA V. REMO, Petitioner, Virginia V. Remo who is applying for renewal
vs. of her passport using her maiden name.
THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF FOREIGN
AFFAIRS, Respondent. This Office is cognizant of the provision in
the law that it is not obligatory for a married
DECISION woman to use her husband’s name. Use of
maiden name is allowed in passport
CARPIO, J.: application only if the married name has not
been used in previous application. The
The Case Implementing Rules and Regulations for
Philippine Passport Act of 1996 clearly
Before the Court is a petition for review1 of defines the conditions when a woman
the 27 May 2005 Decision2 and 2 August applicant may revert to her maiden name,
2005 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in that is, only in cases of annulment of
CA-G.R. SP No. 87710. The Court of Appeals marriage, divorce and death of the husband.
affirmed the decision of the Office of the Ms. Remo’s case does not meet any of these
President, which in turn affirmed the decision conditions.4 (Emphasis supplied)
of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs denying
petitioner’s request to revert to the use of Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the
her maiden name in her replacement above-letter resolution was denied in a letter
passport. dated 13 October 2000.5

The Facts On 15 November 2000, petitioner filed an


appeal with the Office of the President.
On 27 July 2004, the Office of the President may exercise the option to revert to the use
dismissed the appeal6 and ruled that Section of her maiden name such as in a case of a
5(d) of Republic Act No. 8239 (RA 8239) or divorce decree, annulment or declaration of
the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 "offers no nullity of marriage. Since there was no
leeway for any other interpretation than that showing that petitioner's marriage to
only in case of divorce, annulment, or Francisco Rallonza has been annulled,
declaration [of nullity] of marriage may a declared void or a divorce decree has been
married woman revert to her maiden name granted to them, petitioner cannot simply
for passport purposes." The Office of the revert to her maiden name in the
President further held that in case of conflict replacement passport after she had adopted
between a general and special law, the latter her husband’s surname in her old passport.
will control the former regardless of the Hence, according to the Court of Appeals,
respective dates of passage. Since the Civil respondent was justified in refusing the
Code is a general law, it should yield to RA request of petitioner to revert to her maiden
8239. name in the replacement passport.1avvphi1

On 28 October 2004, the Office of the The Issue


President denied the motion for
reconsideration.7 The sole issue in this case is whether
petitioner, who originally used her husband’s
Petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a surname in her expired passport, can revert
petition for review under Rule 43 of the to the use of her maiden name in the
Rules of Civil Procedure. replacement passport, despite the
subsistence of her marriage.
In its Decision of 27 May 2005, the Court of
Appeals denied the petition and affirmed the The Ruling of the Court
ruling of the Office of the President. The
dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals’ The petition lacks merit.
decision reads:
Title XIII of the Civil Code governs the use of
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the surnames. In the case of a married woman,
petition is DENIED, and the resolution dated Article 370 of the Civil Code provides:
July 27, 2004, and the order dated October
28, 2004 of the Office of the President in ART. 370. A married woman may use:
O.P. Case No. 001-A-9344 are hereby
AFFIRMED. (1) Her maiden first name and surname and
add her husband’s surname, or
SO ORDERED.8
(2) Her maiden first name and her husband's
Petitioner moved for reconsideration which surname, or
the Court of Appeals denied in its Resolution
dated 2 August 2005. (3) Her husband’s full name, but prefixing a
word indicating that she is his wife, such as
Hence, this petition. "Mrs."

The Court of Appeals’ Ruling We agree with petitioner that the use of the
word "may" in the above provision indicates
The Court of Appeals found no conflict that the use of the husband’s surname by
between Article 370 of the Civil Code9 and the wife is permissive rather than obligatory.
Section 5(d) of RA 8239.10 The Court of This has been settled in the case of Yasin v.
Appeals held that for passport application Honorable Judge Shari’a District Court.11
and issuance purposes, RA 8239 limits the
instances when a married woman applicant
In Yasin,12 petitioner therein filed with the maiden name. Petitioner cites Yasin as the
Shari’a District Court a "Petition to resume applicable precedent. However, Yasin is not
the use of maiden name" in view of the squarely in point with this case. Unlike in
dissolution of her marriage by divorce under Yasin, which involved a Muslim divorcee
the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the whose former husband is already married to
Philippines, and after marriage of her former another woman, petitioner’s marriage
husband to another woman. In ruling in remains subsisting. Another point, Yasin did
favor of petitioner therein, the Court not involve a request to resume one’s
explained that: maiden name in a replacement passport, but
a petition to resume one’s maiden name in
When a woman marries a man, she need not view of the dissolution of one’s marriage.
apply and/or seek judicial authority to use
her husband’s name by prefixing the word The law governing passport issuance is RA
"Mrs." before her husband’s full name or by 8239 and the applicable provision in this
adding her husband’s surname to her case is Section 5(d), which states:
maiden first name. The law grants her such
right (Art. 370, Civil Code). Similarly, when Sec. 5. Requirements for the Issuance of
the marriage ties or vinculum no longer Passport. — No passport shall be issued to
exists as in the case of death of the husband an applicant unless the Secretary or his duly
or divorce as authorized by the Muslim Code, authorized representative is satisfied that
the widow or divorcee need not seek judicial the applicant is a Filipino citizen who has
confirmation of the change in her civil status complied with the following requirements: x
in order to revert to her maiden name as use xx
of her former husband’s is optional and not
obligatory for her (Tolentino, Civil Code, p. (d) In case of a woman who is married,
725, 1983 ed.; Art. 373, Civil Code). When separated, divorced or widowed or whose
petitioner married her husband, she did not marriage has been annulled or declared by
change her but only her civil status. Neither court as void, a copy of the certificate of
was she required to secure judicial authority marriage, court decree of separation, divorce
to use the surname of her husband after the or annulment or certificate of death of the
marriage as no law requires it. (Emphasis deceased spouse duly issued and
supplied) authenticated by the Office of the Civil
Registrar General: Provided, That in case of
Clearly, a married woman has an option, but a divorce decree, annulment or declaration
not a duty, to use the surname of the of marriage as void, the woman applicant
husband in any of the ways provided by may revert to the use of her maiden name:
Article 370 of the Civil Code.13 She is Provided, further, That such divorce is
therefore allowed to use not only any of the recognized under existing laws of the
three names provided in Article 370, but also Philippines; x x x (Emphasis supplied)
her maiden name upon marriage. She is not
prohibited from continuously using her The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), on
maiden name once she is married because behalf of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs,
when a woman marries, she does not change argues that the highlighted proviso in
her name but only her civil status. Further, Section 5(d) of RA 8239 "limits the instances
this interpretation is in consonance with the when a married woman may be allowed to
principle that surnames indicate descent.14 revert to the use of her maiden name in her
passport." These instances are death of
In the present case, petitioner, whose husband, divorce decree, annulment or
marriage is still subsisting and who opted to nullity of marriage. Significantly, Section 1,
use her husband’s surname in her old Article 12 of the Implementing Rules and
passport, requested to resume her maiden Regulations of RA 8239 provides:
name in the replacement passport arguing
that no law prohibits her from using her
The passport can be amended only in the her maiden name, except in the cases
following cases: enumerated in Section 5(d) of RA 8239.
These instances are: (1) death of husband,
a) Amendment of woman’s name due to (2) divorce, (3) annulment, or (4) nullity of
marriage; marriage. Since petitioner’s marriage to her
husband subsists, she may not resume her
b) Amendment of woman’s name due to maiden name in the replacement passport.
death of spouse, annulment of marriage or Otherwise stated, a married woman's
divorce initiated by a foreign spouse; or reversion to the use of her maiden name
must be based only on the severance of the
c) Change of surname of a child who is marriage.
legitimated by virtue of a subsequent
marriage of his parents. Even assuming RA 8239 conflicts with the
Civil Code, the provisions of RA 8239 which
Since petitioner’s marriage to her husband is a special law specifically dealing with
subsists, placing her case outside of the passport issuance must prevail over the
purview of Section 5(d) of RA 8239 (as to provisions of Title XIII of the Civil Code
the instances when a married woman may which is the general law on the use of
revert to the use of her maiden name), she surnames. A basic tenet in statutory
may not resume her maiden name in the construction is that a special law prevails
replacement passport.15 This prohibition, over a general law,18 thus:
according to petitioner, conflicts with and,
thus, operates as an implied repeal of Article [I]t is a familiar rule of statutory
370 of the Civil Code. construction that to the extent of any
necessary repugnancy between a general
Petitioner is mistaken. The conflict between and a special law or provision, the latter will
Article 370 of the Civil Code and Section 5(d) control the former without regard to the
of RA 8239 is more imagined than real. RA respective dates of passage.19
8239, including its implementing rules and
regulations, does not prohibit a married Moreover, petitioner’s theory of implied
woman from using her maiden name in her repeal must fail. Well-entrenched is the rule
passport. In fact, in recognition of this right, that an implied repeal is disfavored. T he
the DFA allows a married woman who apparently conflicting provisions of a law or
applies for a passport for the first time to two laws should be harmonized as much as
use her maiden name. Such an applicant is possible, so that each shall be effective.20
not required to adopt her husband's For a law to operate to repeal another law,
surname.16 the two laws must actually be inconsistent.
The former must be so repugnant as to be
In the case of renewal of passport, a married irreconcilable with the latter act.21 This
woman may either adopt her husband’s petitioner failed to establish.1avvphi1
surname or continuously use her maiden
name. If she chooses to adopt her husband’s The Court notes that petitioner would not
surname in her new passport, the DFA have encountered any problems in the
additionally requires the submission of an replacement passport had she opted to
authenticated copy of the marriage continuously and consistently use her
certificate. Otherwise, if she prefers to maiden name from the moment she was
continue using her maiden name, she may married and from the time she first applied
still do so. The DFA will not prohibit her from for a Philippine passport. However, petitioner
continuously using her maiden name.17 consciously chose to use her husband’s
surname before, in her previous passport
However, once a married woman opted to application, and now desires to resume her
adopt her husband’s surname in her maiden name. If we allow petitioner’s
passport, she may not revert to the use of present request, definitely nothing prevents
her in the future from requesting to revert to
the use of her husband’s surname. Such
unjustified changes in one's name and
identity in a passport, which is considered
superior to all other official documents,22
cannot be countenanced. Otherwise, undue
confusion and inconsistency in the records of
passport holders will arise. Thus, for
passport issuance purposes, a married
woman, such as petitioner, whose marriage
subsists, may not change her family name at
will.

The acquisition of a Philippine passport is a


privilege. The law recognizes the passport
applicant’s constitutional right to travel.
However, the State is also mandated to
protect and maintain the integrity and
credibility of the passport and travel
documents proceeding from it23 as a
Philippine passport remains at all times the
property of the Government. The holder is
merely a possessor of the passport as long
as it is valid and the same may not be
surrendered to any person or entity other
than the government or its representative.24

As the OSG correctly pointed out:

[T]he issuance of passports is impressed


with public interest. A passport is an official
document of identity and nationality issued
to a person intending to travel or sojourn in
foreign countries. It is issued by the
Philippine government to its citizens
requesting other governments to allow its
holder to pass safely and freely, and in case
of need, to give him/her aid and protection.
xxx

Viewed in the light of the foregoing, it is


within respondent’s competence to regulate
any amendments intended to be made
therein, including the denial of unreasonable
and whimsical requests for amendments
such as in the instant case.25

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We


AFFIRM the 27 May 2005 Decision and 2
August 2005 Resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87710.

SO ORDERED.
certificate: (1) the name "Jennifer
Cagandahan" changed to "Jeff Cagandahan"
and (2) gender from "female" to "male."

The facts are as follows.


SUPREME COURT
Manila On December 11, 2003, respondent Jennifer
Cagandahan filed a Petition for Correction of
SECOND DIVISION Entries in Birth Certificate2 before the RTC,
Branch 33 of Siniloan, Laguna.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
In her petition, she alleged that she was
Petitioner, born on January 13, 1981 and was
registered as a female in the Certificate of
- versus - Live Birth but while growing up, she
developed secondary male characteristics
JENNIFER B. CAGANDAHAN, and was diagnosed to have Congenital
Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) which is a
Respondent. condition where persons thus afflicted
possess both male and female
G.R. No. 166676 characteristics. She further alleged that she
was diagnosed to have clitoral hyperthropy
Present: in her early years and at age six, underwent
an ultrasound where it was discovered that
Quisumbing, J., Chairperson, she has small ovaries. At age thirteen, tests
revealed that her ovarian structures had
Carpio Morales, minimized, she has stopped growing and she
has no breast or menstrual development.
Tinga, She then alleged that for all interests and
appearances as well as in mind and emotion,
VELASCO, JR., and she has become a male person. Thus, she
prayed that her birth certificate be corrected
BRION, JJ. such that her gender be changed from
female to male and her first name be
Promulgated: changed from Jennifer to Jeff.

September 12, 2008 The petition was published in a newspaper of


general circulation for three (3) consecutive
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - weeks and was posted in conspicuous places
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x by the sheriff of the court. The Solicitor
General entered his appearance and
DECISION authorized the Assistant Provincial
QUISUMBING, J.: Prosecutor to appear in his behalf.

This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of To prove her claim, respondent testified and
the Rules of Court raising purely questions of presented the testimony of Dr. Michael
law and seeking a reversal of the Decision[1] Sionzon of the Department of Psychiatry,
dated January 12, 2005 of the Regional Trial University of the Philippines-Philippine
Court (RTC), Branch 33 of Siniloan, Laguna, General Hospital. Dr. Sionzon issued a
which granted the Petition for Correction of medical certificate stating that respondent’s
Entries in Birth Certificate filed by Jennifer B. condition is known as CAH. He explained that
Cagandahan and ordered the following genetically respondent is female but because
changes of entries in Cagandahan’s birth her body secretes male hormones, her
female organs did not develop normally and The issues raised by petitioner are:
she has two sex organs – female and male.
He testified that this condition is very rare, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE
that respondent’s uterus is not fully PETITION CONSIDERING THAT:
developed because of lack of female
hormones, and that she has no monthly I.
period. He further testified that respondent’s
condition is permanent and recommended THE REQUIREMENTS OF RULES 103 AND 108
the change of gender because respondent OF THE RULES OF COURT HAVE NOT BEEN
has made up her mind, adjusted to her COMPLIED WITH; AND,
chosen role as male, and the gender change
would be advantageous to her. II.

The RTC granted respondent’s petition in a CORRECTION OF ENTRY UNDER RULE 108
Decision dated January 12, 2005 which DOES NOT ALLOW CHANGE OF "SEX" OR
reads: "GENDER" IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE,
WHILE RESPONDENT’S MEDICAL
The Court is convinced that petitioner has CONDITION, i.e., CONGENITAL ADRENAL
satisfactorily shown that he is entitled to the HYPERPLASIA DOES NOT MAKE HER A
reliefs prayed [for]. Petitioner has "MALE."4
adequately presented to the Court very clear
and convincing proofs for the granting of his Simply stated, the issue is whether the trial
petition. It was medically proven that court erred in ordering the correction of
petitioner’s body produces male hormones, entries in the birth certificate of respondent
and first his body as well as his action and to change her sex or gender, from female to
feelings are that of a male. He has chosen to male, on the ground of her medical condition
be male. He is a normal person and wants to known as CAH, and her name from
be acknowledged and identified as a male. "Jennifer" to "Jeff," under Rules 103 and 108
of the Rules of Court.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Civil
Register of Pakil, Laguna is hereby ordered The OSG contends that the petition below is
to make the following corrections in the birth fatally defective for non-compliance with
[c]ertificate of Jennifer Cagandahan upon Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court
payment of the prescribed fees: because while the local civil registrar is an
indispensable party in a petition for
a) By changing the name from Jennifer cancellation or correction of entries under
Cagandahan to JEFF CAGANDAHAN; and Section 3, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court,
respondent’s petition before the court a quo
b) By changing the gender from female to did not implead the local civil registrar.5 The
MALE. OSG further contends respondent’s petition
is fatally defective since it failed to state that
It is likewise ordered that petitioner’s school respondent is a bona fide resident of the
records, voter’s registry, baptismal province where the petition was filed for at
certificate, and other pertinent records are least three (3) years prior to the date of
hereby amended to conform with the such filing as mandated under Section 2(b),
foregoing corrected data. Rule 103 of the Rules of Court.6 The OSG
argues that Rule 108 does not allow change
SO ORDERED.[3] of sex or gender in the birth certificate and
respondent’s claimed medical condition
Thus, this petition by the Office of the known as CAH does not make her a male.7
Solicitor General (OSG) seeking a reversal of
the abovementioned ruling. On the other hand, respondent counters that
although the Local Civil Registrar of Pakil,
Laguna was not formally named a party in circulation published in the province, as the
the Petition for Correction of Birth court shall deem best. The date set for the
Certificate, nonetheless the Local Civil hearing shall not be within thirty (30) days
Registrar was furnished a copy of the prior to an election nor within four (4)
Petition, the Order to publish on December months after the last publication of the
16, 2003 and all pleadings, orders or notice.
processes in the course of the proceedings,8
respondent is actually a male person and Sec. 4. Hearing. – Any interested person
hence his birth certificate has to be corrected may appear at the hearing and oppose the
to reflect his true sex/gender,9 change of petition. The Solicitor General or the proper
sex or gender is allowed under Rule 108,10 provincial or city fiscal shall appear on behalf
and respondent substantially complied with of the Government of the Republic.
the requirements of Rules 103 and 108 of
the Rules of Court.11 Sec. 5. Judgment. – Upon satisfactory proof
in open court on the date fixed in the order
Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court that such order has been published as
provide: directed and that the allegations of the
petition are true, the court shall, if proper
Rule 103 and reasonable cause appears for changing
the name of the petitioner, adjudge that
CHANGE OF NAME such name be changed in accordance with
the prayer of the petition.
Section 1. Venue. – A person desiring to
change his name shall present the petition to Sec. 6. Service of judgment. – Judgments or
the Regional Trial Court of the province in orders rendered in connection with this rule
which he resides, [or, in the City of Manila, shall be furnished the civil registrar of the
to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations municipality or city where the court issuing
Court]. the same is situated, who shall forthwith
enter the same in the civil register.
Sec. 2. Contents of petition. – A petition for
change of name shall be signed and verified Rule 108
by the person desiring his name changed, or
some other person on his behalf, and shall CANCELLATION OR CORRECTION OF
set forth: ENTRIES

(a) That the petitioner has been a bona fide IN THE CIVIL REGISTRY
resident of the province where the petition is
filed for at least three (3) years prior to the Section 1. Who may file petition. – Any
date of such filing; person interested in any act, event, order or
decree concerning the civil status of persons
(b) The cause for which the change of the which has been recorded in the civil register,
petitioner's name is sought; may file a verified petition for the
cancellation or correction of any entry
(c) The name asked for. relating thereto, with the Regional Trial
Court of the province where the
Sec. 3. Order for hearing. – If the petition corresponding civil registry is located.
filed is sufficient in form and substance, the
court, by an order reciting the purpose of the Sec. 2. Entries subject to cancellation or
petition, shall fix a date and place for the correction. – Upon good and valid grounds,
hearing thereof, and shall direct that a copy the following entries in the civil register may
of the order be published before the hearing be cancelled or corrected: (a) births; (b)
at least once a week for three (3) successive marriages; (c) deaths; (d) legal separations;
weeks in some newspaper of general (e) judgments of annulments of marriage;
(f) judgments declaring marriages void from implead the local civil registrar. Section 3,
the beginning; (g) legitimations; (h) Rule 108 provides that the civil registrar and
adoptions; (i) acknowledgments of natural all persons who have or claim any interest
children; (j) naturalization; (k) election, loss which would be affected thereby shall be
or recovery of citizenship; (l) civil made parties to the proceedings. Likewise,
interdiction; (m) judicial determination of the local civil registrar is required to be
filiation; (n) voluntary emancipation of a made a party in a proceeding for the
minor; and (o) changes of name. correction of name in the civil registry. He is
an indispensable party without whom no
Sec. 3. Parties. – When cancellation or final determination of the case can be
correction of an entry in the civil register is had.[12] Unless all possible indispensable
sought, the civil registrar and all persons parties were duly notified of the proceedings,
who have or claim any interest which would the same shall be considered as falling much
be affected thereby shall be made parties to too short of the requirements of the rules.13
the proceeding. The corresponding petition should also
implead as respondents the civil registrar
Sec. 4. Notice and publication. – Upon the and all other persons who may have or may
filing of the petition, the court shall, by an claim to have any interest that would be
order, fix the time and place for the hearing affected thereby.14 Respondent, however,
of the same, and cause reasonable notice invokes Section 6,[15] Rule 1 of the Rules of
thereof to be given to the persons named in Court which states that courts shall construe
the petition. The court shall also cause the the Rules liberally to promote their
order to be published once a week for three objectives of securing to the parties a just,
(3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of speedy and inexpensive disposition of the
general circulation in the province. matters brought before it. We agree that
there is substantial compliance with Rule 108
Sec. 5. Opposition. – The civil registrar and when respondent furnished a copy of the
any person having or claiming any interest petition to the local civil registrar.
under the entry whose cancellation or
correction is sought may, within fifteen (15) The determination of a person’s sex
days from notice of the petition, or from the appearing in his birth certificate is a legal
last date of publication of such notice, file his issue and the court must look to the
opposition thereto. statutes. In this connection, Article 412 of
the Civil Code provides:
Sec. 6. Expediting proceedings. – The court
in which the proceedings is brought may ART. 412. No entry in a civil register shall be
make orders expediting the proceedings, and changed or corrected without a judicial
may also grant preliminary injunction for the order.
preservation of the rights of the parties
pending such proceedings. Together with Article 376[16] of the Civil
Code, this provision was amended by
Sec. 7. Order. – After hearing, the court may Republic Act No. 9048[17] in so far as
either dismiss the petition or issue an order clerical or typographical errors are involved.
granting the cancellation or correction The correction or change of such matters can
prayed for. In either case, a certified copy of now be made through administrative
the judgment shall be served upon the civil proceedings and without the need for a
registrar concerned who shall annotate the judicial order. In effect, Rep. Act No. 9048
same in his record. removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the
Rules of Court the correction of such errors.
The OSG argues that the petition below is Rule 108 now applies only to substantial
fatally defective for non-compliance with changes and corrections in entries in the civil
Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court register.18
because respondent’s petition did not
Under Rep. Act No. 9048, a correction in the
civil registry involving the change of sex is CAH is one of many conditions[21] that
not a mere clerical or typographical error. It involve intersex anatomy. During the
is a substantial change for which the twentieth century, medicine adopted the
applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the Rules term "intersexuality" to apply to human
of Court.19 beings who cannot be classified as either
male or female.[22] The term is now of
The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the widespread use. According to Wikipedia,
Civil Code and correctable under Rule 108 of intersexuality "is the state of a living thing of
the Rules of Court are those provided in a gonochoristic species whose sex
Articles 407 and 408 of the Civil Code: chromosomes, genitalia, and/or secondary
sex characteristics are determined to be
ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees neither exclusively male nor female. An
concerning the civil status of persons shall organism with intersex may have biological
be recorded in the civil register. characteristics of both male and female
sexes."
ART. 408. The following shall be entered in
the civil register: Intersex individuals are treated in different
ways by different cultures. In most societies,
(1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) intersex individuals have been expected to
legal separations; (5) annulments of conform to either a male or female gender
marriage; (6) judgments declaring marriages role.[23] Since the rise of modern medical
void from the beginning; (7) legitimations; science in Western societies, some intersex
(8) adoptions; (9) acknowledgments of people with ambiguous external genitalia
natural children; (10) naturalization; (11) have had their genitalia surgically modified
loss, or (12) recovery of citizenship; (13) to resemble either male or female
civil interdiction; (14) judicial determination genitals.[24] More commonly, an intersex
of filiation; (15) voluntary emancipation of a individual is considered as suffering from a
minor; and (16) changes of name. "disorder" which is almost always
recommended to be treated, whether by
The acts, events or factual errors surgery and/or by taking lifetime medication
contemplated under Article 407 of the Civil in order to mold the individual as neatly as
Code include even those that occur after possible into the category of either male or
birth.20 female.

Respondent undisputedly has CAH. This In deciding this case, we consider the
condition causes the early or "inappropriate" compassionate calls for recognition of the
appearance of male characteristics. A various degrees of intersex as variations
person, like respondent, with this condition which should not be subject to outright
produces too much androgen, a male denial. "It has been suggested that there is
hormone. A newborn who has XX some middle ground between the sexes, a
chromosomes coupled with CAH usually has ‘no-man’s land’ for those individuals who are
a (1) swollen clitoris with the urethral neither truly ‘male’ nor truly ‘female’."[25]
opening at the base, an ambiguous genitalia The current state of Philippine statutes
often appearing more male than female; (2) apparently compels that a person be
normal internal structures of the female classified either as a male or as a female,
reproductive tract such as the ovaries, but this Court is not controlled by mere
uterus and fallopian tubes; as the child appearances when nature itself
grows older, some features start to appear fundamentally negates such rigid
male, such as deepening of the voice, facial classification.
hair, and failure to menstruate at puberty.
About 1 in 10,000 to 18,000 children are In the instant case, if we determine
born with CAH. respondent to be a female, then there is no
basis for a change in the birth certificate much less on whether or not to undergo
entry for gender. But if we determine, based medical treatment to reverse the male
on medical testimony and scientific tendency due to CAH. The Court will not
development showing the respondent to be consider respondent as having erred in not
other than female, then a change in the choosing to undergo treatment in order to
become or remain as a female. Neither will
subject’s birth certificate entry is in order. the Court force respondent to undergo
treatment and to take medication in order to
Biologically, nature endowed respondent fit the mold of a female, as society
with a mixed (neither consistently and commonly currently knows this gender of the
categorically female nor consistently and human species. Respondent is the one who
categorically male) composition. Respondent has to live with his intersex anatomy. To him
has female (XX) chromosomes. However, belongs the human right to the pursuit of
respondent’s body system naturally produces happiness and of health. Thus, to him should
high levels of male hormones (androgen). As belong the primordial choice of what courses
a result, respondent has ambiguous genitalia of action to take along the path of his sexual
and the phenotypic features of a male. development and maturation. In the absence
of evidence that respondent is an
Ultimately, we are of the view that where the "incompetent"[27] and in the absence of
person is biologically or naturally intersex evidence to show that classifying respondent
the determining factor in his gender as a male will harm other members of
classification would be what the individual, society who are equally entitled to protection
like respondent, having reached the age of under the law, the Court affirms as valid and
majority, with good reason thinks of his/her justified the respondent’s position and his
sex. Respondent here thinks of himself as a personal judgment of being a male.
male and considering that his body produces
high levels of male hormones (androgen) In so ruling we do no more than give respect
there is preponderant biological support for to (1) the diversity of nature; and (2) how
considering him as being male. Sexual an individual deals with what nature has
development in cases of intersex persons handed out. In other words, we respect
makes the gender classification at birth respondent’s congenital condition and his
inconclusive. It is at maturity that the mature decision to be a male. Life is already
gender of such persons, like respondent, is difficult for the ordinary person. We cannot
fixed. but respect how respondent deals with his
unordinary state and thus help make his life
Respondent here has simply let nature take easier, considering the unique circumstances
its course and has not taken unnatural steps in this case.
to arrest or interfere with what he was born
with. And accordingly, he has already As for respondent’s change of name under
ordered his life to that of a male. Rule 103, this Court has held that a change
Respondent could have undergone treatment of name is not a matter of right but of
and taken steps, like taking lifelong judicial discretion, to be exercised in the
medication,[26] to force his body into the light of the reasons adduced and the
categorical mold of a female but he did not. consequences that will follow.[28] The trial
He chose not to do so. Nature has instead court’s grant of respondent’s change of
taken its due course in respondent’s name from Jennifer to Jeff implies a change
development to reveal more fully his male of a feminine name to a masculine name.
characteristics. Considering the consequence that
respondent’s change of name merely
In the absence of a law on the matter, the recognizes his preferred gender, we find
Court will not dictate on respondent merit in respondent’s change of name. Such
concerning a matter so innately private as a change will conform with the change of the
one’s sexuality and lifestyle preferences,
entry in his birth certificate from female to
male.

WHEREFORE, the Republic’s petition is


DENIED. The Decision dated January 12,
2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33
of Siniloan, Laguna, is AFFIRMED. No
pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 191805 April 16, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE


WRIT OF AMPARO AND HABEAS DATA IN
FAVOR OF NORIEL RODRIGUEZ, NORIEL
RODRIGUEZ, Petitioner,
vs.
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, GEN. VICTOR
S. IBRADO, PDG JESUS AME VERSOZA, LT.
GEN. DELFIN BANGIT, MAJ. GEN. NESTOR Z.
OCHOA, P/CSUPT. AMETO G. TOLENTINO,
P/SSUPT. JUDE W. SANTOS, COL. REMIGIO
M. DE VERA, an officer named MATUTINA,
LT. COL. MINA, CALOG, GEORGE PALACPAC
under the name "HARRY," ANTONIO CRUZ,
ALDWIN "BONG" PASICOLAN and VINCENT the DOJ are ordered to submit to this Court
CALLAGAN, Respondents. the results of their action within a period of
six months from receipt of this Decision.
x-----------------------x
In the event that herein respondents no
G.R. No. 193160 longer occupy their respective posts, the
directives mandated in this Decision and in
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE the Court of Appeals are enforceable against
WRIT OF AMPARO AND HABEAS DATA IN the incumbent officials holding the relevant
FAVOR OF NORIEL RODRIGUEZ, POLICE DIR. positions. Failure to comply with the
GEN. JESUS A. VERSOZA, P/SSUPT. JUDE W. foregoing shall constitute contempt of court.
SANTOS, BGEN. REMEGIO M. DE VERA, 1ST
LT. RYAN S. MATUTINA, LT. COL. LAURENCE SO ORDERED.
E. MINA, ANTONIO C. CRUZ, ALDWIN C.
PASICOLAN and VICENTE A. CALLAGAN, After a careful examination of the records,
Petitioners, the Court was convinced that the Court of
vs. Appeals correctly found sufficient evidence
NORIEL H. RODRIGUEZ, Respondent. proving that the soldiers of the 17th Infantry
Battalion, 5th Infantry Division of the
RESOLUTION military abducted petitioner Rodriguez on 6
September 2009, and detained and tortured
SERENO, CJ.: him until 17 September 2009.

On 15 November 2011, the Court Pursuant to the Decision ordering the Office
promulgated its Decision in the present case, of the Ombudsman to take further action,
the dispositive portion of which reads: Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales sent
this Court a letter dated 23 May 2012,
WHEREFORE, we resolve to GRANT the requesting an additional two-month period,
Petition for Partial Review in G.R. No. or until 24 July 2012, within which to submit
191805 and DENY the Petition for Review in a report. The Ombudsman stated that Noriel
G.R. No. 193160. The Decision of the Court Rodriguez (Rodriguez) and his family refused
of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED WITH to cooperate with the investigation for
MODIFICATION. security reasons.

The case is dismissed with respect to On 6 January 2012, respondents filed their
respondents former President Gloria Motion for Reconsideration,1 arguing that
Macapagal-Arroyo, P/CSupt. Ameto G. the soldiers belonging to the 17th Infantry
Tolentino, and P/SSupt. Jude W. Santos, Battalion, 5th Infantry Division of the
Calog, George Palacpac, Antonio Cruz, military cannot be held accountable for
Aldwin Pasicolan and Vincent Callagan for authoring the abduction and torture of
lack of merit. petitioner. Their arguments revolve solely on
the claim that respondents were never
This Court directs the Office of the specifically mentioned by name as having
Ombudsman (Ombudsman) and the performed, permitted, condoned, authorized,
Department of Justice (DOJ) to take the or allowed the commission of any act or
appropriate action with respect to any incurrence omission which would violate or
possible liability or liabilities, within their threaten with violation the rights to life,
respective legal competence, that may have liberty, and security of petitioner-respondent
been incurred by respondents Gen. Victor and his family.2
lbrado, PDG. Jesus Verzosa, Lt. Gen. Delfin
Bangit, Maj. Gen. Nestor Ochoa, Brig. Gen. On 18 January 2013, the Ombudsman
Remegio De Vera, 1st Lt. Ryan Matutina, and submitted the Investigation Report, as
Lt. Col. Laurence Mina. The Ombudsman and compliance with the Court’s directive to take
appropriate action with respect to possible and ruled upon in our Decision. The OMB
liabilities respondents may have incurred. further laments, "If only he (Noriel) could be
The exhaustive report detailed the steps asked to verify the circumstances under
taken by the Field Investigation Office (FIO) which he executed these subsequent
of the Office of the Ombudsman, concluding affidavits, his inconsistent claims will finally
that no criminal, civil, or administrative be settled," and that "(I)f there is one
liabilities may be imputed to the person who can attest on whether detention
respondents. It was reflected therein that and torture were indeed committed by any
the lawyers for the Rodriguezes had of the Subjects herein, it is Noriel Rodriguez
manifested to the FIO that the latter are himself, the supposed victim."4
hesitant to appear before them for security
reasons, viz: The purported unwillingness of the petitioner
to appear or participate at this stage of the
Karapatan (a non-governmental organization proceedings due to security reasons does not
that provides legal assistance to victims of affect the rationale of the writ granted by the
human rights violations and their families) CA, as affirmed by this Court. In any case,
could not locate Noriel and Rodel. As of this the issue of the existence of criminal, civil,
writing, the Rodriguezes refused to or administrative liability which may be
participate in the present fact-finding imputed to the respondents is not the
investigation ‘for security reasons.’ Atty. province of amparo proceedings -- rather,
Yambot disclosed (through a Manifestation the writ serves both preventive and curative
dated March 30, 2012 that despite efforts to roles in addressing the problem of
convince Noriel to participate in the present extrajudicial killings and enforced
proceedings, the latter ‘remains unconvinced disappearances. It is preventive in that it
and unwilling to this date.’ breaks the expectation of impunity in the
commission of these offenses, and it is
Recent information, however, revealed that curative in that it facilitates the subsequent
Noriel and his family are no longer interested punishment of perpetrators by inevitably
in participating in the present case. leading to subsequent investigation and
action.5 In this case then, the thrust of
Instead of appearing before this Office for a ensuring that investigations are conducted
conference under oath, SPO1 Robert B. and the rights to life, liberty, and security of
Molina submitted an Affidavit dated June 13, the petitioner, remains.
2012 stating that on September 15, 2009, at
around 11:00 o’clock in the morning, Wilma We deny the motion for reconsideration.
H. Rodriguez appeared before the Gonzaga
Police Station and requested to enter into The writ of amparo partakes of a summary
the blotter that her son, Noriel, was allegedly proceeding that requires only substantial
missing in Sitio Comunal, Gonzaga, evidence to make the appropriate interim
Cagayan. Thereupon, he gathered and permanent reliefs available to the
information relative to Wilma’s report "but petitioner. As explained in the Decision, it is
the community residence failed to reveal not an action to determine criminal guilt
anything".3 requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, or
liability for damages requiring
preponderance of evidence, or even
The other accounts – specifically that of administrative responsibility requiring
respondent Antonino C. Cruz, Special substantial evidence. The totality of evidence
Investigator II of the Commission on Human as a standard for the grant of the writ was
Rights (CHR), as well as the claims of correctly applied by this Court, as first laid
respondents Mina and De Vera that they had down in Razon v. Tagitis:
disclosed to the CHR that Noriel had become
an agent ("asset") of the 17th Infantry The fair and proper rule, to our mind, is to
Battalion – have been thoroughly evaluated consider all the pieces of evidence adduced
in their totality, and to consider any evidence Respondents’ main contention in their Return
otherwise inadmissible under our usual rules of the Writ was correctly deemed illogical
to be admissible if it is consistent with the and contradictory by the CA. They claim that
admissible evidence adduced. In other Rodriguez had complained of physical
words, we reduce our rules to the most basic ailments due to activities in the CPP-NPA, yet
test of reason – i.e., to the relevance of the nevertheless signified his desire to become a
evidence to the issue at hand and its double-agent for the military. The CA stated:
consistency with all other pieces of adduced
evidence. Thus, even hearsay evidence can In the Return of the Writ, respondent AFP
be admitted if it satisfies this basic minimum members alleged that petitioner confided to
test.6 (Emphasis supplied.) his military handler, Cpl. Navarro, that
petitioner could no longer stand the
No reversible error may be attributed to the hardships he experienced in the wilderness,
grant of the privilege of the writ by the CA, and that he wanted to become an ordinary
and the present motion for reconsideration citizen again because of the empty promises
raises no new issues that would convince us of the CPP-NPA. However, in the same
otherwise. Return, respondents state that petitioner
agreed to become a double agent for the
Respondents’ claim that they were not military and wanted to re-enter the CPP-
competently identified as the soldiers who NPA, so that he could get information
abducted and detained the petitioner, or that regarding the movement directly from the
there was no mention of their names in the source. If petitioner was tired of life in the
documentary evidence, is baseless. The CA wilderness and desired to become an
rightly considered Rodriguez’s Sinumpaang ordinary citizen again, it defies logic that he
Salaysay7 as a meticulous and would agree to become an undercover agent
straightforward account of his horrific ordeal and work alongside soldiers in the mountains
with the military, detailing the manner in – or the wilderness he dreads – to locate the
which he was captured and maltreated on hideout of his alleged NPA comrades.12
account of his suspected membership in the (Emphasis supplied.)
NPA.8
Respondents conveniently neglect to address
Petitioner narrated that at dawn on 9 the findings of both the CA and this Court
September 2009, he noticed a soldier with that aside from the abduction of Rodriguez,
the name tag "Matutina," who appeared to respondents, specifically 1st Lt. Matutina,
be an official because the other soldiers had violated and threatened the former’s
addressed him as "sir."9 He saw Matutina right to security when they made a visual
again at 11:00 p.m. on 15 September 2009, recording of his house, as well as the photos
when his abductors took him to a military of his relatives. The CA found that the
operation in the mountains. His narration of soldiers even went as far as taking videos of
his suffering included an exhaustive the photos of petitioner’s relatives hung on
description of his physical surroundings, the wall of the house, and the innermost
personal circumstances, and perceived portions of the house.13 There is no
observations. He likewise positively identified reasonable justification for this violation of
respondents 1st Lt. Matutina and Lt. Col. the right to privacy and security of
Mina to be present during his abduction, petitioner’s abode, which strikes at the very
detention and torture.10 These facts were heart and rationale of the Rule on the Writ of
further corroborated by Hermie Antonio Amparo. More importantly, respondents also
Carlos in his Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 16 neglect to address our ruling that the failure
September 2009,11 wherein he recounted in to conduct a fair and effective investigation
detail the circumstances surrounding the similarly amounted to a violation of, or
victim’s capture. threat to Rodriguez’s rights to life, liberty,
and security.14
The writ’s curative role is an
acknowledgment that the violation of the
right to life, liberty, and security may be
caused not only by a public official’s act, but
also by his omission. Accountability may
attach to respondents who are imputed with
knowledge relating to the enforced
disappearance and who carry the burden of
disclosure; or those who carry, but have
failed to discharge, the burden of
extraordinary diligence in the investigation of
the enforced disappearance.15 The duty to
investigate must be undertaken in a serious
manner and not as a mere formality
preordained to be ineffective.16

The CA found that respondents Gen. Ibrado,


PDG Verzosa, LT. Gen. Bangit, Maj. Gen.
Ochoa, Col. De Vera, and Lt. Col. Mina
conducted a perfunctory investigation which
relied solely on the accounts of the military.
Thus, the CA correctly held that the
investigation was superficial, one-sided, and G.R. No. 191805 April 16, 2013
depended entirely on the report prepared by
1st Lt. Johnny Calub. No efforts were IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE
undertaken to solicit petitioner’s version of WRIT OF AMPARO AND HABEAS DATA IN
the incident, and no witnesses were FAVOR OF NORIEL RODRIGUEZ, NORIEL
questioned regarding it.17 The CA also took RODRIGUEZ, Petitioner,
into account the palpable lack of effort from vs.
respondent Versoza, as the chief of the GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, GEN. VICTOR
Philippine National Police. S. IBRADO, PDG JESUS AME VERSOZA, LT.
GEN. DELFIN BANGIT, MAJ. GEN. NESTOR Z.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the OCHOA, P/CSUPT. AMETO G. TOLENTINO,
Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED P/SSUPT. JUDE W. SANTOS, COL. REMIGIO
with FINALITY. Let a copy of this Resolution M. DE VERA, an officer named MATUTINA,
be furnished the Ombudsman for whatever LT. COL. MINA, CALOG, GEORGE PALACPAC
appropriate action she may still take under under the name "HARRY," ANTONIO CRUZ,
circumstances. ALDWIN "BONG" PASICOLAN and VINCENT
CALLAGAN, Respondents.
SO ORDERED.
x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 193160

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE


WRIT OF AMPARO AND HABEAS DATA IN
FAVOR OF NORIEL RODRIGUEZ, POLICE DIR.
GEN. JESUS A. VERSOZA, P/SSUPT. JUDE W.
SANTOS, BGEN. REMEGIO M. DE VERA, 1ST
LT. RYAN S. MATUTINA, LT. COL. LAURENCE
E. MINA, ANTONIO C. CRUZ, ALDWIN C.
PASICOLAN and VICENTE A. CALLAGAN,
Petitioners,
vs. Appeals correctly found sufficient evidence
NORIEL H. RODRIGUEZ, Respondent. proving that the soldiers of the 17th Infantry
Battalion, 5th Infantry Division of the
RESOLUTION military abducted petitioner Rodriguez on 6
September 2009, and detained and tortured
SERENO, CJ.: him until 17 September 2009.

On 15 November 2011, the Court Pursuant to the Decision ordering the Office
promulgated its Decision in the present case, of the Ombudsman to take further action,
the dispositive portion of which reads: Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales sent
this Court a letter dated 23 May 2012,
WHEREFORE, we resolve to GRANT the requesting an additional two-month period,
Petition for Partial Review in G.R. No. or until 24 July 2012, within which to submit
191805 and DENY the Petition for Review in a report. The Ombudsman stated that Noriel
G.R. No. 193160. The Decision of the Court Rodriguez (Rodriguez) and his family refused
of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED WITH to cooperate with the investigation for
MODIFICATION. security reasons.

The case is dismissed with respect to On 6 January 2012, respondents filed their
respondents former President Gloria Motion for Reconsideration,1 arguing that
Macapagal-Arroyo, P/CSupt. Ameto G. the soldiers belonging to the 17th Infantry
Tolentino, and P/SSupt. Jude W. Santos, Battalion, 5th Infantry Division of the
Calog, George Palacpac, Antonio Cruz, military cannot be held accountable for
Aldwin Pasicolan and Vincent Callagan for authoring the abduction and torture of
lack of merit. petitioner. Their arguments revolve solely on
the claim that respondents were never
This Court directs the Office of the specifically mentioned by name as having
Ombudsman (Ombudsman) and the performed, permitted, condoned, authorized,
Department of Justice (DOJ) to take the or allowed the commission of any act or
appropriate action with respect to any incurrence omission which would violate or
possible liability or liabilities, within their threaten with violation the rights to life,
respective legal competence, that may have liberty, and security of petitioner-respondent
been incurred by respondents Gen. Victor and his family.2
lbrado, PDG. Jesus Verzosa, Lt. Gen. Delfin
Bangit, Maj. Gen. Nestor Ochoa, Brig. Gen. On 18 January 2013, the Ombudsman
Remegio De Vera, 1st Lt. Ryan Matutina, and submitted the Investigation Report, as
Lt. Col. Laurence Mina. The Ombudsman and compliance with the Court’s directive to take
the DOJ are ordered to submit to this Court appropriate action with respect to possible
the results of their action within a period of liabilities respondents may have incurred.
six months from receipt of this Decision. The exhaustive report detailed the steps
taken by the Field Investigation Office (FIO)
In the event that herein respondents no of the Office of the Ombudsman, concluding
longer occupy their respective posts, the that no criminal, civil, or administrative
directives mandated in this Decision and in liabilities may be imputed to the
the Court of Appeals are enforceable against respondents. It was reflected therein that
the incumbent officials holding the relevant the lawyers for the Rodriguezes had
positions. Failure to comply with the manifested to the FIO that the latter are
foregoing shall constitute contempt of court. hesitant to appear before them for security
reasons, viz:
SO ORDERED.
Karapatan (a non-governmental organization
After a careful examination of the records, that provides legal assistance to victims of
the Court was convinced that the Court of human rights violations and their families)
could not locate Noriel and Rodel. As of this the issue of the existence of criminal, civil,
writing, the Rodriguezes refused to or administrative liability which may be
participate in the present fact-finding imputed to the respondents is not the
investigation ‘for security reasons.’ Atty. province of amparo proceedings -- rather,
Yambot disclosed (through a Manifestation the writ serves both preventive and curative
dated March 30, 2012 that despite efforts to roles in addressing the problem of
convince Noriel to participate in the present extrajudicial killings and enforced
proceedings, the latter ‘remains unconvinced disappearances. It is preventive in that it
and unwilling to this date.’ breaks the expectation of impunity in the
commission of these offenses, and it is
Recent information, however, revealed that curative in that it facilitates the subsequent
Noriel and his family are no longer interested punishment of perpetrators by inevitably
in participating in the present case. leading to subsequent investigation and
action.5 In this case then, the thrust of
Instead of appearing before this Office for a ensuring that investigations are conducted
conference under oath, SPO1 Robert B. and the rights to life, liberty, and security of
Molina submitted an Affidavit dated June 13, the petitioner, remains.
2012 stating that on September 15, 2009, at
around 11:00 o’clock in the morning, Wilma We deny the motion for reconsideration.
H. Rodriguez appeared before the Gonzaga
Police Station and requested to enter into The writ of amparo partakes of a summary
the blotter that her son, Noriel, was allegedly proceeding that requires only substantial
missing in Sitio Comunal, Gonzaga, evidence to make the appropriate interim
Cagayan. Thereupon, he gathered and permanent reliefs available to the
information relative to Wilma’s report "but petitioner. As explained in the Decision, it is
the community residence failed to reveal not an action to determine criminal guilt
anything".3 requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, or
liability for damages requiring
preponderance of evidence, or even
The other accounts – specifically that of administrative responsibility requiring
respondent Antonino C. Cruz, Special substantial evidence. The totality of evidence
Investigator II of the Commission on Human as a standard for the grant of the writ was
Rights (CHR), as well as the claims of correctly applied by this Court, as first laid
respondents Mina and De Vera that they had down in Razon v. Tagitis:
disclosed to the CHR that Noriel had become
an agent ("asset") of the 17th Infantry The fair and proper rule, to our mind, is to
Battalion – have been thoroughly evaluated consider all the pieces of evidence adduced
and ruled upon in our Decision. The OMB in their totality, and to consider any evidence
further laments, "If only he (Noriel) could be otherwise inadmissible under our usual rules
asked to verify the circumstances under to be admissible if it is consistent with the
which he executed these subsequent admissible evidence adduced. In other
affidavits, his inconsistent claims will finally words, we reduce our rules to the most basic
be settled," and that "(I)f there is one test of reason – i.e., to the relevance of the
person who can attest on whether detention evidence to the issue at hand and its
and torture were indeed committed by any consistency with all other pieces of adduced
of the Subjects herein, it is Noriel Rodriguez evidence. Thus, even hearsay evidence can
himself, the supposed victim."4 be admitted if it satisfies this basic minimum
test.6 (Emphasis supplied.)
The purported unwillingness of the petitioner
to appear or participate at this stage of the No reversible error may be attributed to the
proceedings due to security reasons does not grant of the privilege of the writ by the CA,
affect the rationale of the writ granted by the and the present motion for reconsideration
CA, as affirmed by this Court. In any case,
raises no new issues that would convince us Return, respondents state that petitioner
otherwise. agreed to become a double agent for the
military and wanted to re-enter the CPP-
Respondents’ claim that they were not NPA, so that he could get information
competently identified as the soldiers who regarding the movement directly from the
abducted and detained the petitioner, or that source. If petitioner was tired of life in the
there was no mention of their names in the wilderness and desired to become an
documentary evidence, is baseless. The CA ordinary citizen again, it defies logic that he
rightly considered Rodriguez’s Sinumpaang would agree to become an undercover agent
Salaysay7 as a meticulous and and work alongside soldiers in the mountains
straightforward account of his horrific ordeal – or the wilderness he dreads – to locate the
with the military, detailing the manner in hideout of his alleged NPA comrades.12
which he was captured and maltreated on (Emphasis supplied.)
account of his suspected membership in the
NPA.8 Respondents conveniently neglect to address
the findings of both the CA and this Court
Petitioner narrated that at dawn on 9 that aside from the abduction of Rodriguez,
September 2009, he noticed a soldier with respondents, specifically 1st Lt. Matutina,
the name tag "Matutina," who appeared to had violated and threatened the former’s
be an official because the other soldiers right to security when they made a visual
addressed him as "sir."9 He saw Matutina recording of his house, as well as the photos
again at 11:00 p.m. on 15 September 2009, of his relatives. The CA found that the
when his abductors took him to a military soldiers even went as far as taking videos of
operation in the mountains. His narration of the photos of petitioner’s relatives hung on
his suffering included an exhaustive the wall of the house, and the innermost
description of his physical surroundings, portions of the house.13 There is no
personal circumstances, and perceived reasonable justification for this violation of
observations. He likewise positively identified the right to privacy and security of
respondents 1st Lt. Matutina and Lt. Col. petitioner’s abode, which strikes at the very
Mina to be present during his abduction, heart and rationale of the Rule on the Writ of
detention and torture.10 These facts were Amparo. More importantly, respondents also
further corroborated by Hermie Antonio neglect to address our ruling that the failure
Carlos in his Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 16 to conduct a fair and effective investigation
September 2009,11 wherein he recounted in similarly amounted to a violation of, or
detail the circumstances surrounding the threat to Rodriguez’s rights to life, liberty,
victim’s capture. and security.14

Respondents’ main contention in their Return The writ’s curative role is an


of the Writ was correctly deemed illogical acknowledgment that the violation of the
and contradictory by the CA. They claim that right to life, liberty, and security may be
Rodriguez had complained of physical caused not only by a public official’s act, but
ailments due to activities in the CPP-NPA, yet also by his omission. Accountability may
nevertheless signified his desire to become a attach to respondents who are imputed with
double-agent for the military. The CA stated: knowledge relating to the enforced
disappearance and who carry the burden of
In the Return of the Writ, respondent AFP disclosure; or those who carry, but have
members alleged that petitioner confided to failed to discharge, the burden of
his military handler, Cpl. Navarro, that extraordinary diligence in the investigation of
petitioner could no longer stand the the enforced disappearance.15 The duty to
hardships he experienced in the wilderness, investigate must be undertaken in a serious
and that he wanted to become an ordinary manner and not as a mere formality
citizen again because of the empty promises preordained to be ineffective.16
of the CPP-NPA. However, in the same
The CA found that respondents Gen. Ibrado,
PDG Verzosa, LT. Gen. Bangit, Maj. Gen.
Ochoa, Col. De Vera, and Lt. Col. Mina
conducted a perfunctory investigation which
relied solely on the accounts of the military.
Thus, the CA correctly held that the
investigation was superficial, one-sided, and G.R. No. 184769 October 5, 2010
depended entirely on the report prepared by
1st Lt. Johnny Calub. No efforts were MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, ALEXANDER S.
undertaken to solicit petitioner’s version of DEYTO and RUBEN A. SAPITULA, Petitioners,
the incident, and no witnesses were vs.
questioned regarding it.17 The CA also took ROSARIO GOPEZ LIM, Respondent.
into account the palpable lack of effort from
respondent Versoza, as the chief of the DECISION
Philippine National Police.
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the
Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED The Court is once again confronted with an
with FINALITY. Let a copy of this Resolution opportunity to define the evolving metes and
be furnished the Ombudsman for whatever bounds of the writ of habeas data. May an
appropriate action she may still take under employee invoke the remedies available
circumstances. under such writ where an employer decides
to transfer her workplace on the basis of
SO ORDERED. copies of an anonymous letter posted therein
─ imputing to her disloyalty to the company
and calling for her to leave, which imputation
it investigated but fails to inform her of the
details thereof?

Rosario G. Lim (respondent), also known as


Cherry Lim, is an administrative clerk at the
Manila Electric Company (MERALCO).

On June 4, 2008, an anonymous letter was


posted at the door of the Metering Office of
the Administration building of MERALCO
Plaridel, Bulacan Sector, at which respondent
is assigned, denouncing respondent. The
letter reads:

Cherry Lim:

MATAPOS MONG LAMUNIN LAHAT NG


BIYAYA NG MERALCO, NGAYON NAMAN AY
GUSTO MONG PALAMON ANG BUONG
KUMPANYA SA MGA BUWAYA NG
GOBYERNO. KAPAL NG MUKHA MO,
LUMAYAS KA RITO, WALANG UTANG NA
LOOB….1

Copies of the letter were also inserted in the


lockers of MERALCO linesmen. Informed
about it, respondent reported the matter on
June 5, 2008 to the Plaridel Station of the the rationale for management’s initiated
Philippine National Police.2 transfer. Reflecting further, it appears to me
that instead of the management supposedly
By Memorandum3 dated July 4, 2008, extending favor to me, the net result and
petitioner Alexander Deyto, Head of effect of management action would be a
MERALCO’s Human Resource Staffing, punitive one.4 (emphasis and underscoring
directed the transfer of respondent to supplied)
MERALCO’s Alabang Sector in Muntinlupa as
"A/F OTMS Clerk," effective July 18, 2008 in Respondent thus requested for the
light of the receipt of "… reports that there deferment of the implementation of her
were accusations and threats directed transfer pending resolution of the issues she
against [her] from unknown individuals and raised.
which could possibly compromise [her]
safety and security." No response to her request having been
received, respondent filed a petition5 for the
Respondent, by letter of July 10, 2008 issuance of a writ of habeas data against
addressed to petitioner Ruben A. Sapitula, petitioners before the Regional Trial Court
Vice-President and Head of MERALCO’s (RTC) of Bulacan, docketed as SP. Proc. No.
Human Resource Administration, appealed 213-M-2008.
her transfer and requested for a dialogue so
she could voice her concerns and misgivings By respondent’s allegation, petitioners’
on the matter, claiming that the "punitive" unlawful act and omission consisting of their
nature of the transfer amounted to a denial continued failure and refusal to provide her
of due process. Citing the grueling travel with details or information about the alleged
from her residence in Pampanga to Alabang report which MERALCO purportedly received
and back entails, and violation of the concerning threats to her safety and security
provisions on job security of their Collective amount to a violation of her right to privacy
Bargaining Agreement (CBA), respondent in life, liberty and security, correctible by
expressed her thoughts on the alleged habeas data. Respondent thus prayed for the
threats to her security in this wise: issuance of a writ commanding petitioners to
file a written return containing the following:
xxxx
a) a full disclosure of the data or information
I feel that it would have been better . . . if about respondent in relation to the report
you could have intimated to me the nature purportedly received by petitioners on the
of the alleged accusations and threats so alleged threat to her safety and security; the
that at least I could have found out if these nature of such data and the purpose for its
are credible or even serious. But as you collection;
stated, these came from unknown individuals
and the way they were handled, it appears b) the measures taken by petitioners to
that the veracity of these accusations and ensure the confidentiality of such data or
threats to be [sic] highly suspicious, doubtful information; and
or are just mere jokes if they existed at all.
c) the currency and accuracy of such data or
Assuming for the sake of argument only, information obtained.
that the alleged threats exist as the
management apparently believe, then my Additionally, respondent prayed for the
transfer to an unfamiliar place and issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order
environment which will make me a "sitting (TRO) enjoining petitioners from effecting
duck" so to speak, seems to betray the real her transfer to the MERALCO Alabang Sector.
intent of management which is contrary to
its expressed concern on my security and By Order6 of August 29, 2008, Branch 7 of
safety . . . Thus, it made me think twice on the Bulacan RTC directed petitioners to file
their verified written return. And by Order of
September 5, 2008, the trial court granted Petitioners thus maintain that the RTC had
respondent’s application for a TRO. no authority to restrain the implementation
of the Memorandum transferring
Petitioners moved for the dismissal of the respondent’s place of work which is purely a
petition and recall of the TRO on the grounds management prerogative, and that OCA-
that, inter alia, resort to a petition for writ of Circular No. 79-200312 expressly prohibits
habeas data was not in order; and the RTC the issuance of TROs or injunctive writs in
lacked jurisdiction over the case which labor-related cases.
properly belongs to the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC).7 Petitioners go on to point out that the Rule
on the Writ of Habeas Data directs the
By Decision8 of September 22, 2008, the issuance of the writ only against public
trial court granted the prayers of respondent officials or employees, or private individuals
including the issuance of a writ of or entities engaged in the gathering,
preliminary injunction directing petitioners to collecting or storing of data or information
desist from implementing respondent’s regarding an aggrieved party’s person,
transfer until such time that petitioners family or home; and that MERALCO (or its
comply with the disclosures required. officers) is clearly not engaged in such
activities.
The trial court justified its ruling by declaring
that, inter alia, recourse to a writ of habeas The petition is impressed with merit.
data should extend not only to victims of
extra-legal killings and political activists but Respondent’s plea that she be spared from
also to ordinary citizens, like respondent complying with MERALCO’s Memorandum
whose rights to life and security are directing her reassignment to the Alabang
jeopardized by petitioners’ refusal to provide Sector, under the guise of a quest for
her with information or data on the reported information or data allegedly in possession of
threats to her person. petitioners, does not fall within the province
of a writ of habeas data.
Hence, the present petition for review under
Rule 45 of 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas
the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data9 Data provides:
contending that 1) the RTC lacked
jurisdiction over the case and cannot restrain Section 1. Habeas Data. – The writ of habeas
MERALCO’s prerogative as employer to data is a remedy available to any person
transfer the place of work of its employees, whose right to privacy in life, liberty or
and 2) the issuance of the writ is outside the security is violated or threatened by an
parameters expressly set forth in the Rule on unlawful act or omission of a public official or
the Writ of Habeas Data.101avvphi1 employee or of a private individual or entity
engaged in the gathering, collecting or
Maintaining that the RTC has no jurisdiction storing of data or information regarding the
over what they contend is clearly a labor person, family, home and correspondence of
dispute, petitioners argue that "although the aggrieved party. (emphasis and
ingeniously crafted as a petition for habeas underscoring supplied)
data, respondent is essentially questioning
the transfer of her place of work by her The habeas data rule, in general, is designed
employer"11 and the terms and conditions of to protect by means of judicial complaint the
her employment which arise from an image, privacy, honor, information, and
employer-employee relationship over which freedom of information of an individual. It is
the NLRC and the Labor Arbiters under meant to provide a forum to enforce one’s
Article 217 of the Labor Code have right to the truth and to informational
jurisdiction. privacy, thus safeguarding the constitutional
guarantees of a person’s right to life, liberty move." Her posture unwittingly concedes
and security against abuse in this age of that the issue is labor-related.
information technology.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
It bears reiteration that like the writ of assailed September 22, 2008 Decision of the
amparo, habeas data was conceived as a Bulacan RTC, Branch 7 in SP. Proc. No. 213-
response, given the lack of effective and M-2008 is hereby REVERSED and SET
available remedies, to address the ASIDE. SP. Proc. No. 213-M-2008 is,
extraordinary rise in the number of killings accordingly, DISMISSED.
and enforced disappearances. Its intent is to
address violations of or threats to the rights No costs.
to life, liberty or security as a remedy
independently from those provided under SO ORDERED.
prevailing Rules.13

Castillo v. Cruz14 underscores the emphasis


laid down in Tapuz v. del Rosario15 that the
writs of amparo and habeas data will NOT
issue to protect purely property or
commercial concerns nor when the grounds
invoked in support of the petitions therefor
are vague or doubtful.16 Employment
constitutes a property right under the
context of the due process clause of the
Constitution.17 It is evident that
respondent’s reservations on the real
reasons for her transfer - a legitimate
concern respecting the terms and conditions
of one’s employment - are what prompted
her to adopt the extraordinary remedy of
habeas data. Jurisdiction over such concerns
is inarguably lodged by law with the NLRC
and the Labor Arbiters.

In another vein, there is no showing from


the facts presented that petitioners
committed any unjustifiable or unlawful
violation of respondent’s right to privacy vis-
a-vis the right to life, liberty or security. To
argue that petitioners’ refusal to disclose the
contents of reports allegedly received on the
threats to respondent’s safety amounts to a
violation of her right to privacy is at best
speculative. Respondent in fact trivializes
these threats and accusations from unknown
individuals in her earlier-quoted portion of
her July 10, 2008 letter as "highly
suspicious, doubtful or are just mere jokes if
they existed at all."18 And she even
suspects that her transfer to another place of
work "betray[s] the real intent of
management]" and could be a "punitive
The individual's desire for privacy is never
absolute, since participation in society is an
equally powerful desire. Thus each individual
is continually engaged in a personal
adjustment process in which he balances the
desire for privacy with the desire for
disclosure and communication of himself to
others, in light of the environmental
conditions and social norms set by the
society in which he lives.

- Alan Westin, Privacy and Freedom (1967)

The Case

Before Us is a Petition for Review on


Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court, in relation to Section 19 of A.M. No.
08-1-16-SC,1 otherwise known as the "Rule
on the Writ of Habeas Data." Petitioners
herein assail the July 27, 2012 Decision2 of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 14 in Cebu
City (RTC) in SP. Proc. No. 19251-CEB,
which dismissed their habeas data petition.

The Facts

Nenita Julia V. Daluz (Julia) and Julienne


Vida Suzara (Julienne), both minors, were,
during the period material, graduating high
school students at St. Theresa's College
(STC), Cebu City. Sometime in January
2012, while changing into their swimsuits for
a beach party they were about to attend,
Julia and Julienne, along with several others,
took digital pictures of themselves clad only
in their undergarments. These pictures were
then uploaded by Angela Lindsay Tan
(Angela) on her Facebook3 profile.

G.R. No. 202666 September 29, Back at the school, Mylene Rheza T.
2014 Escudero (Escudero), a computer teacher at
STC’s high school department, learned from
RHONDA AVE S. VIVARES and SPS. her students that some seniors at STC
MARGARITA and DAVID SUZARA, Petitioners, posted pictures online, depicting themselves
vs. from the waist up, dressed only in
ST. THERESA'S COLLEGE, MYLENE RHEZA T. brassieres. Escudero then asked her
ESCUDERO, and JOHN DOES, Respondents. students if they knew who the girls in the
photos are. In turn, they readily identified
DECISION Julia, Julienne, and Chloe Lourdes Taboada
(Chloe), among others.
VELASCO, JR., J.:
Using STC’s computers, Escudero’s students Principal Mussolini S. Yap (Yap), Roswinda
logged in to their respective personal Jumiller, and Tigol. What is more, Sr.
Facebook accounts and showed her photos Purisima informed their parents the following
of the identified students, which include: (a) day that, as part of their penalty, they are
Julia and Julienne drinking hard liquor and barred from joining the commencement
smoking cigarettes inside a bar; and (b) Julia exercises scheduled on March 30, 2012.
and Julienne along the streets of Cebu
wearing articles of clothing that show A week before graduation, or on March 23,
virtually the entirety of their black 2012, Angela’s mother, Dr. Armenia M. Tan
brassieres. What is more, Escudero’s (Tan), filed a Petition for Injunction and
students claimed that there were times when Damages before the RTC of Cebu City
access to or the availability of the identified against STC, et al., docketed as Civil Case
students’ photos was not confined to the No. CEB-38594.7 In it, Tan prayed that
girls’ Facebook friends,4 but were, in fact, defendants therein be enjoined from
viewable by any Facebook user.5 implementing the sanction that precluded
Angela from joining the commencement
Upon discovery, Escudero reported the exercises.
matter and, through one of her student’s
Facebook page, showed the photosto Kristine On March 25, 2012,petitioner Rhonda Ave
Rose Tigol (Tigol), STC’s Discipline-in- Vivares (Vivares), the mother of Julia, joined
Charge, for appropriate action. Thereafter, the fray as an intervenor. On March 28,
following an investigation, STC found the 2012, defendants inCivil Case No. CEB-
identified students to have deported 38594 filed their memorandum, containing
themselves in a manner proscribed by the printed copies of the photographs in issue as
school’s Student Handbook, to wit: annexes. That same day, the RTC issued a
temporary restraining order (TRO) allowing
1. Possession of alcoholic drinks outside the the students to attend the graduation
school campus; ceremony, to which STC filed a motion for
reconsideration.
2. Engaging in immoral, indecent, obscene
or lewd acts; Despite the issuance of the TRO,STC,
nevertheless, barred the sanctioned students
3. Smoking and drinking alcoholicbeverages from participating in the graduation rites,
in public places; arguing that, on the date of the
commencement exercises, its adverted
4. Apparel that exposes the underwear; motion for reconsideration on the issuance
ofthe TRO remained unresolved.
5. Clothing that advocates unhealthy
behaviour; depicts obscenity; contains Thereafter, petitioners filed before the RTC a
sexually suggestive messages, language or Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Habeas
symbols; and 6. Posing and uploading Data, docketed as SP. Proc. No. 19251-CEB8
pictures on the Internet that entail ample on the basis of the following considerations:
body exposure.
1. The photos of their children in their
On March 1, 2012, Julia, Julienne, Angela, undergarments (e.g., bra) were taken for
and the other students in the pictures in posterity before they changed into their
question, reported, as required, to the office swimsuits on the occasion of a birthday
of Sr. Celeste Ma. Purisima Pe (Sr. beach party;
Purisima), STC’s high school principal and
ICM6 Directress. They claimed that during 2. The privacy setting of their children’s
the meeting, they were castigated and Facebook accounts was set at "Friends
verbally abused by the STC officials present Only." They, thus, have a reasonable
in the conference, including Assistant
expectation of privacy which must be affidavits, within five (5) working days from
respected. service of the writ.

3. Respondents, being involved in the field of In time, respondents complied with the
education, knew or ought to have known of RTC’s directive and filed their verified written
laws that safeguard the right to privacy. return, laying down the following grounds for
Corollarily, respondents knew or ought to the denial of the petition, viz: (a) petitioners
have known that the girls, whose privacy has are not the proper parties to file the petition;
been invaded, are the victims in this case, (b) petitioners are engaging in forum
and not the offenders. Worse, after viewing shopping; (c) the instant case is not one
the photos, the minors were called where a writ of habeas data may issue;and
"immoral" and were punished outright; (d) there can be no violation of their right to
privacy as there is no reasonable expectation
4. The photos accessed belong to the girls of privacy on Facebook.
and, thus, cannot be used and reproduced
without their consent. Escudero, however, Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
violated their rights by saving digital copies
of the photos and by subsequently showing On July 27, 2012, the RTC rendered a
them to STC’s officials. Thus, the Facebook Decision dismissing the petition for habeas
accounts of petitioners’ children were data. The dispositive portion of the Decision
intruded upon; pertinently states:

5. The intrusion into the Facebook accounts, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing
as well as the copying of information, data, premises, the Petition is hereby DISMISSED.
and digital images happened at STC’s
Computer Laboratory; and The parties and media must observe the
aforestated confidentiality.
6. All the data and digital images that were
extracted were boldly broadcasted by xxxx
respondents through their memorandum
submitted to the RTC in connection with Civil SO ORDERED.9
Case No. CEB-38594. To petitioners, the
interplay of the foregoing constitutes an To the trial court, petitioners failed to prove
invasion of their children’s privacy and, thus, the existence of an actual or threatened
prayed that: (a) a writ of habeas databe violation of the minors’ right to privacy, one
issued; (b) respondents be ordered to of the preconditions for the issuance of the
surrender and deposit with the court all soft writ of habeas data. Moreover, the court a
and printed copies of the subjectdata before quoheld that the photos, having been
or at the preliminary hearing; and (c) after uploaded on Facebook without restrictions as
trial, judgment be rendered declaring all to who may view them, lost their privacy in
information, data, and digital images some way. Besides, the RTC noted, STC
accessed, saved or stored, reproduced, gathered the photographs through legal
spread and used, to have been illegally means and for a legal purpose, that is, the
obtained inviolation of the children’s right to implementation of the school’s policies and
privacy. rules on discipline.

Finding the petition sufficient in form and Not satisfied with the outcome, petitioners
substance, the RTC, through an Order dated now come before this Court pursuant to
July 5, 2012, issued the writ of habeas data. Section 19 of the Rule on Habeas Data.10
Through the same Order, herein respondents
were directed to file their verified written The Issues
return, together with the supporting
The main issue to be threshed out inthis at least by substantial evidence, of an actual
case is whether or not a writ of habeas or threatened violation of the right to privacy
datashould be issued given the factual in life, liberty or security of the victim are
milieu. Crucial in resolving the controversy, indispensable before the privilege of the writ
however, is the pivotal point of whether or may be extended.15
not there was indeed an actual or threatened
violation of the right to privacy in the life, Without an actionable entitlement in the first
liberty, or security of the minors involved in place to the right to informational privacy, a
this case. habeas datapetition will not prosper. Viewed
from the perspective of the case at bar,this
Our Ruling requisite begs this question: given the
nature of an online social network (OSN)––
We find no merit in the petition. (1) that it facilitates and promotes real-time
interaction among millions, if not billions, of
Procedural issues concerning the availability users, sans the spatial barriers,16 bridging
of the Writ of Habeas Data the gap created by physical space; and (2)
that any information uploaded in OSNs
The writ of habeas datais a remedy available leavesan indelible trace in the provider’s
to any person whose right to privacy in life, databases, which are outside the control of
liberty or security is violated or threatened the end-users––is there a right to
by an unlawful act or omission of a public informational privacy in OSN activities of its
official or employee, or of a private individual users? Before addressing this point, We must
or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting first resolve the procedural issues in this
or storing of data or information regarding case.
the person, family, home and
correspondence of the aggrieved party.11 It a. The writ of habeas data is not only
is an independent and summary remedy confined to cases of extralegal killings and
designed to protect the image, privacy, enforced disappearances
honor, information, and freedom of
information of an individual, and to provide a Contrary to respondents’ submission, the
forum to enforce one’s right to the truth and Writ of Habeas Datawas not enacted solely
to informational privacy. It seeks to protect a for the purpose of complementing the Writ of
person’s right to control information Amparoin cases of extralegal killings and
regarding oneself, particularly in instances in enforced disappearances.
which such information is being collected
through unlawful means in order to achieve Section 2 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas
unlawful ends.12 Data provides:

In developing the writ of habeas data, the Sec. 2. Who May File. – Any aggrieved party
Court aimed to protect an individual’s right may file a petition for the writ of habeas
to informational privacy, among others. A data. However, in cases of extralegal killings
comparative law scholar has, in fact, defined and enforced disappearances, the petition
habeas dataas "a procedure designed to may be filed by:
safeguard individual freedom from abuse in
the information age."13 The writ, however, (a) Any member of the immediate family of
will not issue on the basis merely of an the aggrieved party, namely: the spouse,
alleged unauthorized access to information children and parents; or
about a person.Availment of the writ
requires the existence of a nexus between (b) Any ascendant, descendant or collateral
the right to privacy on the one hand, and the relative of the aggrieved party within the
right to life, liberty or security on the fourth civil degreeof consanguinity or
other.14 Thus, the existence of a person’s affinity, in default of those mentioned in the
right to informational privacy and a showing, preceding paragraph. (emphasis supplied)
Section 1. Habeas Data. – The writ of habeas
Had the framers of the Rule intended to datais a remedy available to any person
narrow the operation of the writ only to whose right to privacy in life, liberty or
cases of extralegal killings or enforced security is violated or threatened by an
disappearances, the above underscored unlawful act or omission of a public official or
portion of Section 2, reflecting a variance of employee, or of a private individual or entity
habeas data situations, would not have been engaged in the gathering, collecting or
made. storing of data or information regarding the
person, family, home and correspondence of
Habeas data, to stress, was designed "to the aggrieved party. (emphasis Ours)
safeguard individual freedom from abuse in
the information age."17 As such, it is The provision, when taken in its proper
erroneous to limit its applicability to context, as a whole, irresistibly conveys the
extralegal killings and enforced idea that habeas data is a protection against
disappearances only. In fact, the annotations unlawful acts or omissions of public officials
to the Rule preparedby the Committee on and of private individuals or entities engaged
the Revision of the Rules of Court, after in gathering, collecting, or storing data about
explaining that the Writ of Habeas Data the aggrieved party and his or her
complements the Writ of Amparo, pointed correspondences, or about his or her family.
out that: Such individual or entity need not be in the
business of collecting or storing data.
The writ of habeas data, however, can be
availed of as an independent remedy to To "engage" in something is different from
enforce one’s right to privacy, more undertaking a business endeavour. To
specifically the right to informational privacy. "engage" means "to do or take part in
The remedies against the violation of such something."19 It does not necessarily mean
right can include the updating, rectification, that the activity must be done in pursuit of a
suppression or destruction of the database business. What matters is that the person or
or information or files in possession or in entity must be gathering, collecting or
control of respondents.18 (emphasis Ours) storing said data or information about the
Clearly then, the privilege of the Writ of aggrieved party or his or her family. Whether
Habeas Datamay also be availed of in cases such undertaking carries the element of
outside of extralegal killings and enforced regularity, as when one pursues a business,
disappearances. and is in the nature of a personal endeavour,
for any other reason or even for no reason at
b. Meaning of "engaged" in the gathering, all, is immaterial and such will not prevent
collecting or storing of data or information the writ from getting to said person or
entity.
Respondents’ contention that the habeas
data writ may not issue against STC, it not To agree with respondents’ above argument,
being an entity engaged in the gathering, would mean unduly limiting the reach of the
collecting or storing of data or information writ to a very small group, i.e., private
regarding the person, family, home and persons and entities whose business is data
correspondence of the aggrieved party, while gathering and storage, and in the process
valid to a point, is, nonetheless, erroneous. decreasing the effectiveness of the writ asan
instrument designed to protect a right which
To be sure, nothing in the Rule would is easily violated in view of rapid
suggest that the habeas data protection shall advancements in the information and
be available only against abuses of a person communications technology––a right which a
or entity engaged in the businessof great majority of the users of technology
gathering, storing, and collecting of data. As themselves are not capable of protecting.
provided under Section 1 of the Rule:
Having resolved the procedural aspect of the technologically but also socially or else it will
case, We now proceed to the core of the lose credibility in the eyes of the people. x x
controversy. x It is imperative that the courts respond
appropriately to changing times, acting
The right to informational privacy on cautiously and with wisdom." Consistent with
Facebook this, the Court, by developing what may be
viewed as the Philippine model of the writ of
a. The Right to Informational Privacy habeas data, in effect, recognized that,
generally speaking, having an expectation of
The concept of privacyhas, through time, informational privacy is not necessarily
greatly evolved, with technological incompatible with engaging in cyberspace
advancements having an influential part activities, including those that occur in OSNs.
therein. This evolution was briefly recounted
in former Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno’s The question now though is up to whatextent
speech, The Common Right to Privacy,20 is the right to privacy protected in OSNs?
where he explained the three strands of the Bear in mind that informational privacy
right to privacy, viz: (1) locational or involves personal information. At the same
situational privacy;21 (2) informational time, the very purpose of OSNs is
privacy; and (3) decisional privacy.22 Of the socializing––sharing a myriad of
three, what is relevant to the case at bar is information,27 some of which would have
the right to informational privacy––usually otherwise remained personal.
defined as the right of individuals to control
information about themselves.23 b. Facebook’s Privacy Tools: a response to
the clamor for privacy in OSN activities
With the availability of numerous avenues
for information gathering and data sharing Briefly, the purpose of an OSN is precisely to
nowadays, not to mention each system’s give users the ability to interact and to stay
inherent vulnerability to attacks and connected to other members of the same or
intrusions, there is more reason that every different social media platform through the
individual’s right to control said flow of sharing of statuses, photos, videos, among
information should be protected and that others, depending on the services provided
each individual should have at least a by the site. It is akin to having a room filled
reasonable expectation of privacy in with millions of personal bulletin boards or
cyberspace. Several commentators regarding "walls," the contents of which are under the
privacy and social networking sites, control of each and every user. In his or her
however, all agree that given the millions of bulletin board, a user/owner can post
OSN users, "[i]n this [Social Networking] anything––from text, to pictures, to music
environment, privacy is no longer grounded and videos––access to which would depend
in reasonable expectations, but rather in on whether he or she allows one, some or all
some theoretical protocol better known as of the other users to see his or her posts.
wishful thinking."24 Since gaining popularity, the OSN
phenomenon has paved the way to the
It is due to this notion that the Court saw creation of various social networking sites,
the pressing need to provide for judicial includingthe one involved in the case at bar,
remedies that would allow a summary www.facebook.com (Facebook), which,
hearing of the unlawful use of data or according to its developers, people use "to
information and to remedy possible stay connected with friends and family, to
violations of the right to privacy.25 In the discover what’s going on in the world, and to
same vein, the South African High Court, in share and express what matters to them."28
its Decision in the landmark case, H v. W,26
promulgated on January30, 2013, Facebook connections are established
recognized that "[t]he law has to take into through the process of "friending" another
account the changing realities not only user. By sending a "friend request," the user
invites another to connect their accounts so specific profile content, statuses, and photos,
that they can view any and all "Public" and among others, from another user’s point of
"Friends Only" posts of the other.Once the view. In other words, Facebook extends its
request is accepted, the link is established users an avenue to make the availability of
and both users are permitted to view the their Facebook activities reflect their choice
other user’s "Public" or "Friends Only" posts, as to "when and to what extent to disclose
among others. "Friending," therefore, allows facts about [themselves] – and to put others
the user to form or maintain one-to-one in the position of receiving such
relationships with other users, whereby the confidences."34 Ideally, the selected setting
user gives his or her "Facebook friend" will be based on one’s desire to interact with
access to his or her profile and shares others, coupled with the opposing need to
certain information to the latter.29 withhold certain information as well as to
regulate the spreading of his or her personal
To address concerns about privacy,30 but information. Needless to say, as the privacy
without defeating its purpose, Facebook was setting becomes more limiting, fewer
armed with different privacy tools designed Facebook users can view that user’s
to regulate the accessibility of a user’s particular post.
profile31 as well as information uploaded by
the user. In H v. W,32 the South Gauteng STC did not violate petitioners’ daughters’
High Court recognized this ability of the right to privacy
users to "customize their privacy settings,"
but did so with this caveat: "Facebook states Without these privacy settings, respondents’
in its policies that, although it makes every contention that there is no reasonable
effort to protect a user’s information, these expectation of privacy in Facebook would, in
privacy settings are not foolproof."33 context, be correct. However, such is not the
case. It is through the availability of said
For instance, a Facebook user canregulate privacy tools that many OSN users are said
the visibility and accessibility of digital to have a subjective expectation that only
images(photos), posted on his or her those to whomthey grant access to their
personal bulletin or "wall," except for the profile will view the information they post or
user’sprofile picture and ID, by selecting his upload thereto.35
or her desired privacy setting:
This, however, does not mean thatany
(a) Public - the default setting; every Facebook user automatically has a protected
Facebook user can view the photo; expectation of privacy inall of his or her
Facebook activities.
(b) Friends of Friends - only the user’s
Facebook friends and their friends can view Before one can have an expectation of
the photo; privacy in his or her OSN activity, it is first
necessary that said user, in this case the
(b) Friends - only the user’s Facebook children of petitioners,manifest the intention
friends can view the photo; to keepcertain posts private, through the
employment of measures to prevent access
(c) Custom - the photo is made visible only thereto or to limit its visibility.36 And this
to particular friends and/or networks of the intention can materialize in cyberspace
Facebook user; and through the utilization of the OSN’s privacy
tools. In other words, utilization of these
(d) Only Me - the digital image can be privacy tools is the manifestation,in cyber
viewed only by the user. world, of the user’s invocation of his or her
right to informational privacy.37
The foregoing are privacy tools, available to
Facebook users, designed to set up barriers Therefore, a Facebook user who opts to
to broaden or limit the visibility of his or her make use of a privacy tool to grant or deny
access to his or her post orprofile detail by the five of them,40 although who these
should not be denied the informational five are do not appear on the records.
privacy right which necessarily accompanies
said choice.38 Otherwise, using these Escudero, on the other hand, stated in her
privacy tools would be a feckless exercise, affidavit41 that "my students showed me
such that if, for instance, a user uploads a some pictures of girls cladin brassieres. This
photo or any personal information to his or student [sic] of mine informed me that these
her Facebook page and sets its privacy level are senior high school [students] of STC,
at "Only Me" or a custom list so that only the who are their friends in [F]acebook. x x x
user or a chosen few can view it, said photo They then said [that] there are still many
would still be deemed public by the courts as other photos posted on the Facebook
if the user never chose to limit the photo’s accounts of these girls. At the computer lab,
visibility and accessibility. Such position, if these students then logged into their
adopted, will not only strip these privacy Facebook account [sic], and accessed from
tools of their function but it would also there the various photographs x x x. They
disregard the very intention of the user to even told me that there had been times
keep said photo or information within the when these photos were ‘public’ i.e., not
confines of his or her private space. confined to their friends in Facebook."

We must now determine the extent that the In this regard, We cannot give muchweight
images in question were visible to other to the minors’ testimonies for one key
Facebook users and whether the disclosure reason: failure to question the students’ act
was confidential in nature. In other words, of showing the photos to Tigol disproves
did the minors limit the disclosure of the their allegation that the photos were
photos such that the images were kept viewable only by the five of them. Without
within their zones of privacy? This any evidence to corroborate their statement
determination is necessary in resolving the that the images were visible only to the five
issue of whether the minors carved out a of them, and without their challenging
zone of privacy when the photos were Escudero’s claim that the other students
uploaded to Facebook so that the images will were able to view the photos, their
be protected against unauthorized access statements are, at best, self-serving, thus
and disclosure. deserving scant consideration.42

Petitioners, in support of their thesis about It is well to note that not one of petitioners
their children’s privacy right being violated, disputed Escudero’s sworn account that her
insist that Escudero intruded upon their students, who are the minors’ Facebook
children’s Facebook accounts, downloaded "friends," showed her the photos using their
copies ofthe pictures and showed said photos own Facebook accounts. This only goes to
to Tigol. To them, this was a breach of the show that no special means to be able to
minors’ privacy since their Facebook viewthe allegedly private posts were ever
accounts, allegedly, were under "very resorted to by Escudero’s students,43 and
private" or "Only Friends" setting that it is reasonable to assume, therefore,
safeguarded with a password.39 Ultimately, that the photos were, in reality, viewable
they posit that their children’s disclosure was either by (1) their Facebook friends, or (2)
only limited since their profiles were not by the public at large.
open to public viewing. Therefore, according
to them, people who are not their Facebook Considering that the default setting for
friends, including respondents, are barred Facebook posts is"Public," it can be surmised
from accessing said post without their that the photographs in question were
knowledge and consent. Aspetitioner’s viewable to everyone on Facebook, absent
children testified, it was Angelawho uploaded any proof that petitioners’ children positively
the subjectphotos which were only viewable limited the disclosure of the photograph. If
suchwere the case, they cannot invoke the
protection attached to the right to Facebook friends with the source of the
informational privacy. The ensuing content. The user’s own Facebook friend can
pronouncement in US v. Gines-Perez44 is share said content or tag his or her own
most instructive: Facebook friend thereto, regardless of
whether the user tagged by the latter is
[A] person who places a photograph on the Facebook friends or not with the former.
Internet precisely intends to forsake and Also, when the post is shared or when a
renounce all privacy rights to such imagery, person is tagged, the respective Facebook
particularly under circumstances suchas friends of the person who shared the post or
here, where the Defendant did not employ who was tagged can view the post, the
protective measures or devices that would privacy setting of which was set at "Friends."
have controlled access to the Web page or
the photograph itself.45 To illustrate, suppose A has 100 Facebook
friends and B has 200. A and B are not
Also, United States v. Maxwell46 held that Facebook friends. If C, A’s Facebook friend,
"[t]he more open the method of tags B in A’s post, which is set at "Friends,"
transmission is, the less privacy one can the initial audience of 100 (A’s own Facebook
reasonably expect. Messages sent to the friends) is dramatically increased to 300 (A’s
public at large inthe chat room or e-mail that 100 friends plus B’s 200 friends or the
is forwarded from correspondent to public, depending upon B’s privacy setting).
correspondent loses any semblance of As a result, the audience who can view the
privacy." post is effectively expanded––and to a very
large extent.
That the photos are viewable by "friends
only" does not necessarily bolster the This, along with its other features and uses,
petitioners’ contention. In this regard, the is confirmation of Facebook’s proclivity
cyber community is agreed that the digital towards user interaction and socialization
images under this setting still remain to be rather than seclusion or privacy, as it
outside the confines of the zones of privacy encourages broadcasting of individual user
in view of the following: posts. In fact, it has been said that OSNs
have facilitated their users’ self-tribute,
(1) Facebook "allows the world to be more thereby resulting into the "democratization
open and connected by giving its users the of fame."51 Thus, it is suggested, that a
tools to interact and share in any conceivable profile, or even a post, with visibility set at
way;"47 "Friends Only" cannot easily, more so
automatically, be said to be "very private,"
(2) A good number of Facebook users contrary to petitioners’ argument.
"befriend" other users who are total
strangers;48 As applied, even assuming that the photos in
issue are visible only to the sanctioned
(3) The sheer number of "Friends" one user students’ Facebook friends, respondent STC
has, usually by the hundreds; and can hardly be taken to task for the perceived
privacy invasion since it was the minors’
(4) A user’s Facebook friend can "share"49 Facebook friends who showed the pictures to
the former’s post, or "tag"50 others who are Tigol. Respondents were mere recipients of
not Facebook friends with the former, what were posted. They did not resort to any
despite its being visible only tohis or her own unlawful means of gathering the information
Facebook friends. as it was voluntarily given to them by
persons who had legitimate access to the
It is well to emphasize at this point that said posts. Clearly, the fault, if any, lies with
setting a post’s or profile detail’s privacy to the friends of the minors. Curiously enough,
"Friends" is no assurance that it can no however, neither the minors nor their
longer be viewed by another user who is not parents imputed any violation of privacy
against the students who showed the images violations.54 As a cyberspace
to Escudero. communitymember, one has to be proactive
in protecting his or her own privacy.55 It is
Furthermore, petitioners failed to prove their in this regard that many OSN users,
contention that respondents reproduced and especially minors, fail.Responsible social
broadcasted the photographs. In fact, what networking or observance of the
petitioners attributed to respondents as an "netiquettes"56 on the part of teenagers has
act of offensive disclosure was no more than been the concern of many due to the
the actuality that respondents appended said widespreadnotion that teenagers can
photographs in their memorandum sometimes go too far since they generally
submitted to the trial court in connection lack the people skills or general wisdom to
with Civil Case No. CEB-38594.52 These are conduct themselves sensibly in a public
not tantamount to a violation of the minor’s forum.57
informational privacy rights, contrary to
petitioners’ assertion. Respondent STC is clearly aware of this and
incorporating lessons on good cyber
In sum, there can be no quibbling that the citizenship in its curriculum to educate its
images in question, or to be more precise, students on proper online conduct may be
the photos of minor students scantily clad, mosttimely. Too, it is not only STC but a
are personal in nature, likely to affect, if number of schools and organizations have
indiscriminately circulated, the reputation of already deemed it important to include
the minors enrolled in a conservative digital literacy and good cyber citizenshipin
institution. However, the records are bereft their respective programs and curricula in
of any evidence, other than bare assertions view of the risks that the children are
that they utilized Facebook’s privacy settings exposed to every time they participate in
to make the photos visible only to them or to online activities.58 Furthermore, considering
a select few. Without proof that they placed the complexity of the cyber world and its
the photographs subject of this case within pervasiveness,as well as the dangers that
the ambit of their protected zone of privacy, these children are wittingly or unwittingly
they cannot now insist that they have an exposed to in view of their unsupervised
expectation of privacy with respect to the activities in cyberspace, the participation of
photographs in question. the parents in disciplining and educating
their children about being a good digital
Had it been proved that the access tothe citizen is encouraged by these institutions
pictures posted were limited to the original and organizations. In fact, it is believed that
uploader, through the "Me Only" privacy "to limit such risks, there’s no substitute for
setting, or that the user’s contact list has parental involvement and supervision."59
been screened to limit access to a select few,
through the "Custom" setting, the result may As such, STC cannot be faulted for being
have been different, for in such instances, steadfast in its duty of teaching its students
the intention to limit access to the particular to beresponsible in their dealings and
post, instead of being broadcasted to the activities in cyberspace, particularly in OSNs,
public at large or all the user’s friends en whenit enforced the disciplinary actions
masse, becomes more manifest and specified in the Student Handbook, absenta
palpable. showing that, in the process, it violated the
students’ rights.
On Cyber Responsibility
OSN users should be aware of the risks that
It has been said that "the best filter is the they expose themselves to whenever they
one between your children’s ears."53 This engage incyberspace activities.1âwphi1
means that self-regulation on the part of Accordingly, they should be cautious enough
OSN users and internet consumers ingeneral to control their privacy and to exercise sound
is the best means of avoiding privacy rights discretion regarding how much information
about themselves they are willing to give up.
Internet consumers ought to be aware that,
by entering or uploading any kind of data or
information online, they are automatically
and inevitably making it permanently
available online, the perpetuation of which is
outside the ambit of their control.
Furthermore, and more importantly,
information, otherwise private, voluntarily
surrendered by them can be opened, read,
or copied by third parties who may or may
not be allowed access to such.

It is, thus, incumbent upon internet users to


exercise due diligence in their online dealings
and activities and must not be negligent in
protecting their rights. Equity serves the
vigilant. Demanding relief from the courts,
as here, requires that claimants themselves
take utmost care in safeguarding a right
which they allege to have been violated.
These are indispensable. We cannot afford
protection to persons if they themselves did
nothing to place the matter within the
confines of their private zone. OSN users
must be mindful enough to learn the use of
privacy tools, to use them if they desire to
keep the information private, and to keep
track of changes in the available privacy
settings, such as those of Facebook,
especially because Facebook is notorious for
changing these settings and the site's layout
often.

In finding that respondent STC and its


officials did not violate the minors' privacy
rights, We find no cogent reason to disturb
the findings and case disposition of the court
a quo.

In light of the foregoing, the Court need not


belabor the other assigned errors.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the


petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision
dated July 27, 2012 of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 14 in Cebu City in SP. Proc.
No. 19251-CEB is hereby AFFIRMED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.