Case Brief: Republic v Lim

G.R. No. 153883  January 13, 2004

Republic of the Philippines v Chule Y Lim

Facts:

The respondent, Chule Y. Lim, is an illegitimate daughter of a Chinese father and a Filipina mother, who never got married due to a prior subsisting marriage of her father. The respondent petitioned that there were few mistakes as to her citizenship and identity, to wit:

1. That her surname “Yu” was misspelled as “Yo”. She has been using “Yu” in all of her school records and in her marriage certificate.

2. That her father’s name in her birth record was written as “Yo Diu To (Co Tian)” when it should have been “Yu Dio To (Co Tian).”

3. That her nationality was entered as Chinese when it should have been Filipino considering that her father and mother got married.

4. That she was entered as a legitimate child on her birth certificate when in fact, it should have been illegitimate. Both the trial court and Court of Appeals granted the respondent’s petition.

Issue:

The Republic of the Philippines appealed the decision to the Supreme Court on the following grounds:

1. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in ordering the correction of the citizenship of respondent Chule Y. Lim from “Chinese” to “Filipino” despite the fact that respondent never demonstrated any compliance with the legal requirements for election of citizenship.

2. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in allowing respondent to continue using her father’s surname despite its finding that respondent is an illegitimate child.

Held:

1. No. The Republic avers that respondent did not comply with the constitutional requirement of electing Filipino citizenship when she reached the age of majority as mandated in Article IV, Section 1(3) of the 1935 Constitution and Section 1 of the Commonwealth Act No. 625. The Supreme Court held that the two above provisions only apply to legitimate children. These do not apply in the case of the respondent who was an illegitimate child considering that her parents never got married. By being an illegitimate child of a Filipino mother, respondent automatically became a Filipino upon birth, and as such, there was no more need for her to validly elect Filipino citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. Also, she registered as a voter inside the country when she reached 18 years old. The exercise of the right of suffrage and the participation in election exercises constitute a positive act of election of Philippine citizenship.
2. No. The Republic’s submission was misleading. The Court of Appeals did not allow respondent to use her father’s surname. What it did allow was the correction of her father’s misspelled surname which she has been using ever since she can remember. The court held that prohibiting the respondent to use her father’s surname would only sow confusion. Also, Sec. 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 142 which regulates the use of aliases as well as the jurisprudence state that it is allowed for a person to use a name “by which he has been known since childhood”. Even legitimate children cannot enjoin the illegitimate children of their father from using his surname. While judicial authority is required for a chance of name or surname, there is no such requirement for the continued use of a surname which a person has already been using since childhood.
The doctrine that disallows such change of name as would give the false impression of family relationship remains valid but only to the extent that the proposed change of name would in great probability cause prejudice or future mischief to the family whose surname it is that is involved or to the community in general. In this case, the Republic has not shown that the Yu family in China would probably be prejudiced or be the object of future mischief.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition brought by the Republic is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.

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