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G.R. No. 16902 : March 5, 2010 Maria Virginia V. Remo, Petitioner, vs.

The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affai rs, Respondent. Ponente: Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio MATERIAL FACTS Maria Virginia V. Remo is a married Filipino citizen whose passport was then exp iring on October 27, 2000 Being married to Francisco R. Rallonza, the following entries appear: surname: Rallonza given name: Maria Virginia middle name: Remo Prior to expiry of her passport, the petitioner (marriage still subsists) applie d for renewal in DFA Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. with a request to revert to her m aiden name and surname in the replacement passport Petitioners request having been denied (#1), Atty. Manuel Joseph R. Bretana III, representing petitioner, wrote on the Secretary of DFA expressing a similar requ est On August 28, 2000, DFA through Asst. Sec. Belen F. Anota, denied (#2) the reque st, stating: it is not obligatory for a married woman to use her husbands name. Use of maiden na me is allowed in passport application only if the married name has not been used in previous application. The Implementing Rules and Regulations for Philippines Passport Act of 1996 (RA 8239) clearly defines the conditions when a woman may revert to her maiden name, that is, of only in cases nnulment of marriage, divor ce and death of the husband. Ms. Remos case does not meet any of these conditions . Petitioners motion for reconsideration of the above-letter resolution was denied (#3) in a letter dated October 13, 2000 On November 15, 2000, petitioner filed an appeal with the Office of the Presiden t. On July 27, 2004, the Office of the President dismissed (#4) the appeal with the same argument as the Asst. Secretary of DFA (RA 8239) The Office of the President further held that in case of conflict between a gener al and special law, the latter will control over the former regardless of the re spective dates of passage. Since the Civil Code is a general rule, it should yie ld to RA 8239. The petitioner filed for a motion for reconsideration and on October 28, 2004, t he Office of the President denied (#5) the motion. Petitioner filed with the court of Appeals for a petition for review and on May 27, 2005, the Court of Appeals denied (#6) the petition and affirmed the ruling of the Office of the President. Petitioner moved for reconsideration which the Court of Appeals denied (#7) in i ts Resolution dated August 2, 2005. Hence, this petition. ISSUES Whether the petitioner, who originally used her husbands surname in her passport, can revert to the use of her maiden name in the replacement passport, despite t he subsistence of her marriage. Whether there is a conflict between the general law (Civil Code Article 370) and the special law (RA 8239). RULES/LAW 1. Title XIII of the Civil Code governs the use of surnames. In the case of a married woman, Article 370 of the Civil Code provides: A married woman may use:

(1) Her maiden first name and surname and add her husbands surname, or (2) Her maiden first name and her husbands surname, or (3) Her husbands full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is h is wife, such as Mrs. 2. RA 8239: The Implementing Rules and Regulations for Philippine Passport Act of 1996 Section 5. Requirements for the Issuance of Passport. No passport shall be issue d to an applicant unless the Secretary or his duly authorized representative is satisfied that the applicant is a Filipino citizen who has complied with the fol lowing requirements: xxx (d) In case of a woman who is married, separated, divorced, or widowed, or whose marriage has been annulled or declared by court as void, a copy of the certific ate of marriage, court decree of separation, divorce or annulment or certificate of death of the deceased spouse duly issued and authenticated by the Office of the Civil Registrar General: Provided, That in case of a divorce decree, annulme nt or declaration of marriage as void, the woman applicant may revert the use of her maiden name: Provided, further, That such divorce is recognized under the e xisting laws of the Philippines; xxx 3. Section I, Article 12 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 82 39 The passport can be amended only in the following cases: (a) Amendment of womans name due to marriage (b) Amendment of womans name due to death of spouse, annulment of marriage or div orce initiated by a foreign spouse; or (c) Change of surname of a child who is legitimated by virtue of a subsequent ma rriage of his parents 4. The DFA allows a married woman who applies for a passport for the first time to use her maiden name. Such an applicant is not required to adopt to her h usbands name 5. In case of renewal of passport, a married woman may either adopt her hus bands surname or continuously use her maiden name. 6. Once a the woman adopted her husbands surname in her passport, she may no t revert to the use of her maiden name, except in cases enumerated in section 5( d) of RA 8239. APPLICATION 1. The petitioner used her maiden first name and her husbands last name, thu s, Maria Virginia V. Remo. This is in accord to Article 370(2), Title XIII of th e Civil Code of the Philippines. 2. it is not obligatory for a married woman to use her husbands name. Use of m aiden name is allowed in passport application only if the married name has not b een used in previous application. The Implementing Rules and Regulations for Phi lippines Passport Act of 1996 (RA 8239) clearly defines the conditions when a wo man may revert to her maiden name, that is, of only in cases nnulment of marriag e, divorce and death of the husband. Ms. Remos case does not meet any of these co nditions. DFA Asst. Sec. Belen F. Anota CONCLUSION No. Ms. Remo cannot revert to the use of her maiden name in the replacement pass port, despite the subsistence of her marriage because she used her husbands last name when she applied for her passport for the first time. According to the rule , upon renewal of passport, a married woman may either adopt her husbands surname

or continuously use her maiden name. And once a the woman adopted her husbands surn ame in her passport, she may not revert to the use of her maiden name, except in cases enumerated in section 5(d) of RA 8239. No. There is no conflict between Article 370 of the Civil Code and Section 5(d) of RA 8239. Even assuming RA 8239 conflicts with the Civil Code, the provisions of RA 8239 wh ich is a special law specifically dealing with passport issuance must prevail ov er the provisions of Title XIII of the Civil Code which is a general law on the use of surnames. A basic tenet in statutory construction is that special law pre vails over a general law. The Court DENIED the petition and AFFIRMED the May 27, 2005 Decision and August 2, 2005 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87710.