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Silverio v.

Republic
GR No. 174689, October 19, 2007
Petitioner: Rommel Silverio
Respondent: Republic of the PH
Facts: In 2002, Rommel Silverio filed a petition for the change of his first
name from Rommel to Mely and sex from male to female in his birth
certificate in RTC Manila; respondent was the civil registrar. He alleged in
his petition that he is a male transsexualanatomically male but feels,
thinks, and acts as a female, and that he had always identified himself with
girls since childhood. He consulted several doctored in the US and
underwent sex reassignment in Thailand, in an attempt to transform himself
into a woman. Dr. Marcelino Reysio-Cruz Jr., a plastic and reconstruction
surgeon in the Philippines issued a medical certificate, attesting that Rommel
had indeed undergone the procedure. An order setting the case for initial
hearing was published and copies were sent to the OSG and civil registrar.
RTC ruling: trial court granted the petition, in consonance with the
principles of justice and equality. RTC believed that no harm, injury, or
prejudice will be caused to anybody in granting the petition. No evidence had
been presented to deny the petition.
CA ruling: The PH, through the OSG, filed a petition for certiorari in the
CA, alleging that no law allows the change in entries in the birth certificate
by reason of sex alteration. CA ruled in favour of the PH, saying that the
RTC lacked legal basis. Silverio filed for MR, but was denied. He elevated to
SC
Issue: W/N change in name and sex in his birth certificate is allowed under
Arts. 407 and 413 of the NCC, Rules 103 and 108 of the ROC, and RA 9048.
Held: NO. petition lacks merit.
Ratio: The State has an interest in the names borne by individuals and
entities for purposes of identification. A change in name is a privilege not a

right. Under Art. 376 of the NCC, no person can change his name or surname
without judicial authority, but this was amended by RA 9048 (Clerical Error
Law) which provides that no entry in a civil register shall be changed or
corrected without a judicial order, except for clerical or typographical
errors. RA 9048 governs the change of first name, vesting the power and
jurisdiction to change it to the city/municipal civil registrar or consul general
concerned.
Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry based on the change in
name is not a mere clerical error. It is a substantial change for which the
applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the ROC, but no reasonable
interpretation of this provision can justify the conclusion that it covers the
ground of sex reassignment
A change of name does not alter ones legal capacity or civil status. RA 9048
does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment.
Before a person can legally change his given name, he must present proper
or reasonable cause. He must also show that he will be prejudiced by the use
of his true and official name. In this case, Silverio failed to show this.
Furthermore, a persons sex is an essential factor in marriage and family
relations. It is a part of a persons legal capacity and civil status. Art. 413 of
the NCC provides that all other matters pertaining to the registration of civil
status shall be governed by special laws. But there is no such special law in
the Philippines governing sex reassignment.
The changes sought by petitioner will have serious and wide-ranging legal
consequences. RTC found that this is Silverios first step towards his
eventual marriage with his male fianc. However, marriage, one of the
most sacred social institutions, is a special contract of permanent
between a man and a woman. On of its essential requisites is the legal
capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male or female. To grant
the petition will substantially affect marriage laws and family relations.