Remedial Law

In Re: Audit of RTC 67, Paniqui, Tarlac

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A.M No. 06-7-414-RTC – Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – General Principles – Special Proceedings Cases are Non-Adversarial – Rule 108 cases may be summary or adversarial; Need of publication; RA 9048 is not meant to be applied in judicial proceedings

In 2005, an audit was conducted RTC 67 in Paniqui, Tarlac. The court was presided by Judge Cesar Sotero. The audit team found, among others, that there were 608 special proceedings cases that were irregularly proceeded with because no publications were made and no hearings were conducted.

Judge Sotero, when made to explain, averred that most of those special proceedings cases were under Rule 103 (Change of Name) and Rule 108 (Correction of Entries); that those petitions were supposed to be filed with the local civil registrar under R.A. No. 9048 which authorizes city or municipal civil registrars to correct clerical or typographical errors in an entry and/or change the first name or nickname in the civil registry without need for a judicial order; that they were only filed in court because there was no local civil registrar assigned; and so he merely accommodated the petitions. Since RA 9048 allows corrections of entries without hearing and publication for as long as the necessary documents are submitted, Judge Sotero treated the petitions as summary cases.

ISSUE: Whether or not Judge Sotero is correct.

HELD: No. Despite the passage of RA 9048, courts may still take cognizance of petitions for corrections of clerical errors in entries in the local civil registry. However, the procedure to be used should be Rule 103 or Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. Nowhere in RA 9048 does it provide that the summary nature of the administrative proceedings in the LCR may be applied in petitions for correction of clerical errors filed in court.

Petitions for change of name and correction of entries in the civil registry are actions in rem, the decision on the petition being binding not only on the parties thereto but on the whole world. An in rem proceeding is validated essentially through publication. Publication gives notice to the whole world that the proceeding has for its object to bar indefinitely all who might be minded to make an objection of any sort against the right sought to be established. It is the publication of such notice that brings in the whole world as a party to the case and vests the court with jurisdiction to hear and decide it.

Nature of cases under Rule 108:

The proceedings under Rule 108 may either be summary or adversarial in nature. If the correction sought to be made in the civil registry is clerical, the procedure to be adopted is summary. If the rectification affects the civil status, citizenship or nationality of a party, it is deemed substantial and the procedure to be adopted is adversarial. The procedure under Rule 108 becomes the appropriate adversarial proceeding to effect substantial changes in the registry only if the procedural requirements therein are complied with.

Judge Sotero was merely fined. He would have been dismissed from the service had he not retired in 2006. This case was decided in 2007.

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