The Office of the Civil Registrar General (OCRG) revised the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 9255 or the 12-year-old law allowing illegitimate children to use their father’s surname, amending Article 176 of the Family Code. The revised IRR was approved by the Civil Registrar General, Dr. Lisa Grace S. Bersales, on March 22, 2016 and took effect on April 7, 2016. The revision was a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2014 (Grande v. Antonio –G.R. No. 206248) declaring Rules 7 and 8 of the original IRR as null and void.
Previously, Article 176 of the Family Code provided that Illegitimate children shall use the surname of their mother. On March 19, 2004, however, this provision of the Family Code was amended by RA 9255. This law provides that “illegitimate children may use the surname of their father if their filiation has been expressly recognized by their father through the record of birth appearing in the civil register, or when an admission in a public document or private handwritten instrument is made by the father”.
On May 14, 2004, the OCRG issued the IRR containing the following provisions: (Rule 7) For births not yet registered, the illegitimate child shall use the surname of the father if a public document is executed by the father, either at the back of the certificate of live birth or in a separate document; For previously registered under the surname of the mother, if filiation has been expressly recognized by the father, the child shall use the surname of the father upon the submission of the accomplished affidavit to use the surname of the father. (Rule 8) For births not yet registered, the surname of the father shall be entered as the last name of the child in the certificate of live birth.
These rules 7 and 8 of the IRR was disapproved by the Supreme Court in the Grande versus Antonio case, the Supreme Court ruled that Article 176 of the Family Code gives illegitimate children the right to decide to use the surname of their father or not. The High Court clarified that it is neither the father nor the mother who is granted by law the right to dictate the surname of their illegitimate children. The Supreme Court added that the use of the word “may” in Article 176 of the Family Code as amended by RA 9255 shows that “an acknowledged illegitimate child is under no compulsion to use the surname of his father”.
For the standard implementation of the revised IRR, a series of training will be conducted by the OCRG to the PSA officials, city/municipal civil registrars and other civil registration stakeholders in May 2016.