The Supreme Court Says Legitimate Children Can Use Their Mother's Last Name

Although the use of the father's surname is the first choice, according to the law, it is not the only choice.

In the Philippines, its standard to use the father's surname for a newborn child. And, even if the parents separate and the child grows up under the custody of the mother, the child's last name remains the same. Now, however, Filipino children can, legitimate or not, use their mother's maid last name.

This is according to the Supreme Court's (SC) decision to ensure the fundamental equality of men and women as stated in the Constitution.

A legitimate child is entitled to use the surname of father or mother

This is good news especially for children raised by single mothers once the parents have separated, and if they want to carry the surname of their mothers.

Justice Marvic F. Leonen stated in his 15-page decision published on February 24, 2021: "A legitimate child is entitled to use the surname of either parent as a last name." The SC decision is based on the petition filed by Anacleto Ballaho Alanis III (the name on his certificate) in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Zamboanga City, Branch 12.

The petitioner asked the court to change his name to Abdulhamid Ballaho, his birth name that he grew up with and used in all documents. Ballaho is his mother's last name. In his testimony in court, the petitioner said he was five years old when his parents separated. His mother testified that she raised her children alone, including the petitioner.

In 2008, the RTC decided not to grant the petition. The petitioner appealed, but he still failed. So he took the case to the Court of Appeals until it was heard in the Supreme Court.


The surnames of fathers and mothers aren't seen as equalH

Justice Leonen explained in his SC decision that the RTC was wrong in saying that a legitimate child cannot use his mother's last name. That is said to be an unequal view of the mother's last name and the father's last name.

He explained that the law states that "legitimate and legitimated children shall principally use the surname of the father." He emphasizes that "principally" is not the same as "exclusively" or unique. That is, although my father's last name is first choice, it is not the only choice. The choice includes the mother's last name, and you can use it as you wish.

Justice Leonen added that the goal and duty of the State is to change the existing "patriarchy," where men hold power in society and set aside women's rights. He adds, "If a surname is significant for identifying a person's ancestry, interpreting the laws to mean that a marital child's surname must identify only the paternal line renders the mother and her family invisible."

Aside from just surnames, Justice Leonen also saw the point of change in the petitioner's full name. So in the end, the Supreme Court favored the petition.

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h/t: She Talks Asia

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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