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513 Phil. 237


[ G.R. NO. 140305, December 09, 2005 ]




Petitioners-spouses Platon Ceruila and Librada D. Ceruila (Ceruilas) filed an action with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, docketed as Spec. Proc. No. 97-818932, for the annulment and cancellation of the birth certificate of Maria Rosilyn Telin Delantar (Rosilyn), the child-victim in the rape case involving Romeo Jaloslos.[1] The RTC granted the Ceruilas' petition in its decision dated April 11, 1997[2] which was nullified, however, by the Court of Appeals (CA) on June 10, 1999.[3] The CA denied petitioners' motion for reconsideration.[4] Hence the present petition.

The antecedents are as follows:

Sometime in 1996, Rosilyn complained against her father, Simplicio Delantar (Simplicio) for child abuse, particularly prostitution. Simplicio was incarcerated at the Pasay City Jail starting August 22, 1996 which prompted the filing of a petition for involuntary commitment of Rosilyn in favor of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as the whereabouts of the mother, Librada Ceruila, was unknown. The petition was granted by the RTC of Pasay City, Branch 119 on November 9, 1996 and Simplicio's motion to vacate said judgment was denied by said court on January 20, 1997.[5]

On February 3, 1997, the Ceruilas filed a petition before the RTC of Manila, entitled "IN THE MATTER OF CANCELLATION AND ANNULMENT OF THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF MARIA ROSILYN TELIN DELANTAR," praying that the birth certificate of Rosilyn be canceled and declared null and void for the reasons that said birth certificate was made an instrument of the crime of simulation of birth and therefore invalid and spurious, and it falsified all material entries therein, as follows:
  1. The name of her mother which should not be petitioner Librada A. Telin;
  2. The signature of informant referring to "Librada T. Delantar" being a forgery;
  3. The name of Simplicio Delantar as the biological father, considering that, as already mentioned, he is merely the foster father and co-guardian in fact of Maria Rosilyn and the name of the natural father in (sic) unknown;
  4. The date of marriage of the supposed parents, since the parents reflected in said certificate were (sic) actually full blood brother and sister and therefore marriage between the two is virtually impossible;
  5. The status of Maria Rosilyn as a legitimate child as the same (sic) is actually not legitimate;
  6. The date of actual birth of Marial (sic) Rosilyn, since the known father merely made it appear that she was born at the time the informations for the birth certificate were supplied by him to the civil registrar or (sic) proper recording;
  7. The name of the physician who allegedly attended at the time of birth of Maria Rosilyn, being a fictitious 'Dr. Santos'.[6]
On February 7, 1997, the RTC issued an Order setting the case for hearing on March 19, 1997 and directed the publication of said order once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation. The Order also stated that any person who is interested in the petition may interpose his/her comment or opposition thereto on or before the scheduled hearing.[7]

Summons was sent to the Civil Register of Manila.[8] However, no representative appeared during the scheduled hearing.[9]

On April 11, 1997, the RTC rendered its decision granting the petition of the Ceruilas as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
  1. DECLARING the certificate of live birth of the Minor Maria Rosilyn Telin Delantar as registered under the Local Civil Registry No. 85-27325 of the office of the City Civil Registrar of Manila as null and void ab initio: and

  2. ORDERING the City Civil Registrar of Manila and the National Statistics Office, Manila, to expunge from their respective marriage registers the entry of the birth of said minor and such other documents pertaining thereto, if any.

    Let a copy of this Decision be served on the Office of the City Civil Registrar of Manila and the National Statistics Office for record purposes.

    SO ORDERED.[10]
The RTC explained in its Decision thus:
During the initial trial, the petition was read aloud in open court to find out if there is any opposition thereto. There being none, the petitioner's counsel, Atty. Goering G.C. Paderanga, then established the jurisdictional requirements (Exhibits "A" to "E").[11] Thereafter, petitioner husband Platon Ceruila was placed on the stand as the lone witness for the petitioner and after he completed his testimony, Atty. Paderanga formally offered his evidence and rested his case.

The evidence on record reveals the following:

On May 11, 1985, a child was born at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila. The name of the child was entered in her birth certificate as Maria Rosilyn Telin Delantar (Exhibit "I"). In the said birth certificate the name of the child's mother appear as Librada A. Telin (Entry No. 6) while that of her father as Simplicio R. Delantar (Entry No. 9). The birth certificate likewise shows that the parents of the child, Simplicio R. Delantar and Librada A. Telin, were married on February 14, 1977 in Manila (Entry No. 12). Likewise, in Entry No. 21 of the same document, it is made to appear that the mother of the child was 27 years old when the child was born and that she was attended in her delivery thereof by Dr. Santos (Entry No. 13). The birth certificate was signed by one Librada T. delos Santos as the informant and mother of the child with her given address as 2165 P. Burgos St., Pasay City (Entry No. 14). This is the very certificate of live birth that is being seriously impugned by the herein petitioners.

In support of their petition, the petitioners submitted the baptismal certificates of Simplicio Delantar (Exhibit "J") and Librada Delantar (Exhibit "K") to prove that they are full blood brother and sister and could not have been possible for them to have sired Rosilyn (sic). In the said baptismal certificates, the names of the parents of Simplicio and Librada are similarly entered as Juan Delantar and Carila Telen (Exhibit "J-1" and "K-1"). The Court is inclined to concur with the observation of the petitioner that it is highly unlikely that the alleged parents of Rosilyn would commit an incestuous act and proclaim to the whole world that they are the parents of the herein minor. The court has also observed that in the baptismal certificate of Librada Delantar, it is entered therein that she was born on January 8, 1940 in Tubod, Manglanilla, Cebu (Exhibit "K-2"). Such being the case, then Librada must have been 45 years of age at the time of the birth of Rosilyn in stark contrast to her age appearing in Entry No. 27 (sic) of the birth certificate of the latter which shows that Librada was 27 years old at the time of her delivery. The presentation of the baptismal certificate of Librada Delantar as secondary evidence of her birth certificate was resorted to after the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Minglanilla, Cebu gave a certification to the effect that the records of birth on file with the office for the period January, 1940 to April, 1945 were all destroyed by WORLD WAR II (Exhibit "L"). And going for the jugular, so to speak, the signature of the person named Librada T. delos Santos in the birth certificate (Exhibit "I") purporting to be that of the petitioner wife and the signature of the latter appearing in the verification of the petitioner (sic) (Exhibit "A-6") are so strikingly dissimilar that they could not have but proceeded from two different hands. For it does not require the trained eye of an expert calligrapher to discern such discrepancy in the writing style.

In fine, there being an abundance of evidence to support the petitioner's claim that the birth certificate is indeed a falsified document, the Court is left with no other alternative but to grant the relief prayed for in the petition. To let the birth certificate reamin (sic) as it is would adversely affect the rights and interests of the herein petitioners.[12]
On July 15, 1997, Rosilyn, represented by her legal guardian, the DSWD, filed, with the CA, a petition for the annulment of judgment in the petition for cancellation of entry of her birth certificate.[13] She claimed that she and her guardian were not notified of the petition and the subsequent judgment and learned about the same only from the news on May 16, 1997.[14] She argued that the RTC decision was issued without jurisdiction and in violation of her right to due process; that the Judge did not have authority to declare her to be illegitimate; and that mere correction of entries, not cancellation of the entire certificate, is the appropriate remedy.[15]

Rosilyn further argued that: granting, without admitting that Librada is not her mother, still it was erroneous to cancel or annul her entire birth certificate; Librada is not an interested party concerning the issue of whether Simplicio is the father, the date of actual birth, and the name of the physician who attended to the birth;[16] Librada's allegations are also contradicted by (a) the "Records Based on Cord Dressing Room Book ... dated April 13-May 29, 1985," issued by Emelita H. Avinante, Head of the Medical Records Section and Admitting Unit of the Fabella Hospital, which is attached to the petition for annulment as Annex "E" and which states that Maria Rosilyn Delantar was born on May 11, 1985 at the Fabella Hospital and that her parents are Librada Telin and Simplicio Delantar;[17] and (b) the admission of Simplicio in his Motion to Vacate Judgment[18] in Sp. Proc. No. 96-419[19] regarding the custody of Rosilyn, which is attached to the petition to annul as Annex "F," where he stated that he, as the rightful parent of Rosilyn, should not be deprived of his parental authority.[20]

On June 10, 1999, the CA rendered the herein assailed decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is GRANTED.

Judgment is hereby rendered DECLARING NULL and VOID the decision of the respondent Regional Trial Court dated April 11, 1997 in Special Proceedings No. 97-81893.

With costs against private respondents.

The CA reasoned that:
As shown in the caption of the petition in Special Proceedings No. 97-81893 entitled "In the Matter of Cancellation and Annulment of the Birth Certificate of Maria Rosilyn Telin Delantar", herein petitioner Rosilyn Delantar represented by her legal guardian, DSWD, was not made a party-respondent therein,"contrary to the mandatory provision of Section 3 of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court "

In the said Special Proceeding No. 97-81893, petitioners therein, Platon Ceruila and Librada D. Ceruila, sought not only a cancellation or correction of an entry in the birth certificate of Rosilyn Telin Delantar but in effect sought to annul, cancel or expunge from the Civil Register the subject birth certificate. With more reasons, therefore, that all parties, particularly Rosilyn Telin Delantar, or thru her legal guardian, the DSWD, whose birth certificate was sought to be annulled or cancelled from the Civil Register must not only be notified but must be made a party in the said petition.


Petitioner and her guardian are undoubtedly persons who have interest which would be affected by the petition for the obvious reason that it is the entry of her birth which is being sought to be annulled and cancelled.


In a similar case, the Supreme Court ruled that corrections of substantial entries in the certificate other than mere clerical errors, should be passed upon in an appropriate adversary proceedings with all the persons interested are made parties therein... Republic vs. Valencia (141 SCRA 462; 468-469; 470-474).

The proceedings undertaken in said Special Proceedings No. 97-81893 is indeed wanting of the required notice to all the parties having claim or interest which would be affected thereby, and of the adversarial proceedings, as disclosed in the decision dated April 11, 1997...


With the foregoing disquisitions, We find that the decision dated April 11, 1997 null and void for want of jurisdiction over the person of herein petitioner Rosilyn Delantar and the DSWD as her legal guardian and all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected by the said decision. Also, the said decision dated April 11, 1997 is considered null and void for lack of due process there being no adversarial proceedings (was) conducted by the public respondent Regional Trial Court.


And, even if the same judgment had already become final and executory, and had in fact been executed, as in the instant case, still the execution thereof produces no legal effects. [22]
The CA denied the motion for reconsideration of petitioners.[23] Hence, the present petition raising the following issues:



As to the first issue, petitioners argue that: since the falsification of the entries in the birth certificate of Rosilyn renders the same void ab initio, the case should be liberally construed as an ordinary civil action for declaration of nullity of falsified documents based on Article 5 of the Civil Code[25] and Section 15, Rule 6 of the Rules of Court[26] and not as a special proceeding; petitioners were only constrained to utilize the provisions of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court on the Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry since Article 5 of the Civil Code provides no procedure for the nullification of void documents which happens to be a birth certificate in this case; since the present case involves an ordinary civil action, the cases relied upon by the CA which are applicable only to special proceedings should not be applied herein; the civil registrar, which is an indispensable party, was duly served summons by mail; respondent, meanwhile, is not an indispensable party and granting that she is, she was deemed duly impleaded as her name was clearly stated in the caption of the case; respondent's location could not be determined as she was reported to have ran away from the custody of Simplicio, thus the publication of the petition and the order of the RTC setting the case for hearing once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation should be considered substantial notice and the requirements of due process deemed substantially complied with; there was no adversarial proceeding in court because the parties were declared in general default thus, just like an ordinary civil case, the court should receive evidence ex parte.[27]

As to the second issue, petitioners claim that: the CA should have exercised its peremptory power to declare the birth certificate of Rosilyn as null and void ab initio following the doctrine that where an instrument is void ab initio for being contrary to law, no amount of technicalities could correct its inherent nullity; otherwise, there will be multiplicity of actions as the parties will have to file cases anew to annul respondent's birth certificate.[28]

They then pray that the CA decision dated June 10, 1999 be reversed and that the RTC judgment dated April 11, 1997 be reinstated.[29]

Anent the first issue, the Solicitor General, for the respondent, contends that: since the petitioners chose to file a petition under Rule 108 they cannot in the present action turn around and claim that their case is not a special proceeding; in any case, due process was not complied with rendering the proceedings a quo annullable; petitioners sought to establish Librada Ceruila's status, i.e., whether or not she is the mother of respondent, thus, the action falls within the ambit of Sec. 3(c), Rule 1 of the Rules of Court;[30] petitioners did not allege that they are bringing the suit to enforce or protect their right or to prevent or redress a wrong, for their case to be categorized as an ordinary civil action; Art. 5 of the Civil Code which is being invoked by petitioners is a general provision, while entries of record of birth in the civil register are governed by Republic Act No. 3753 (Civil Registry Law) as amended, and Presidential Decree No. 651; since the law provides for a remedy when an entry in a record found in the civil registry is erroneous or falsified, petitioners cannot, by their mere allegation, transport their case from the realm of the rules on special proceedings for the correction of entry to that of an ordinary civil case for annulment of a falsified document; in Republic vs. Valencia,[31] it was held that the parties who must be made parties to a proceeding concerning the cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register are the civil registrar and all persons who have or who are claiming interests who would be affected thereby; respondent, being a person whose interests would be adversely affected by the petition, is an indispensable party to the case; publication cannot be substituted for notice; respondent cannot be declared in default since she was not properly notified.[32]

Anent the second issue, respondent contends that the CA has no authority to rule on the merits of the case since in a petition for annulment of judgment on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, its authority is limited to ruling on whether or not the petitioner was denied due process of law; that if the CA were to rule on the merits of the case, it would have deprived respondent of due process; and that in any case, respondent's record of birth is not void as Librada was only able to prove that she is not the mother of respondent.[33]

Preliminarily, this Court notes that while the petition states that it is one for review on certiorari, it claimed at the same time that the CA committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction, which is properly a ground for a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 and not for a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45. Considering however the substance of the issues raised herein, we shall treat the present petition, as it claims, to be a petition for review on certiorari.[34]

Is the petition for annulment and cancellation of the birth certificate of Rosilyn an ordinary civil action or a special proceeding? Considering that the petition, based on its allegations, does not question the fact of birth of Rosilyn, all matters assailing the truthfulness of any entry in the birth certificate properly, including the date of birth, fall under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court which governs cancellation or correction of entries in the Civil Registry. Thus, the petition filed by the Ceruilas, alleging material entries in the certificate as having been falsified, is properly considered as a special proceeding pursuant to Section 3(c), Rule 1 and Rule 108 of the Rules of Court.

Did the Ceruilas comply with the requirements of Rule 108? We answer in the negative.

Sec. 3, Rule 108 of the Rules of Court, expressly states that:
SEC. 3. Parties. --- When cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register is sought, the civil registrar and all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected thereby shall be made parties to the proceeding.
Indeed, not only the civil registrar but also all persons who have or claim any interest which would be affected by a proceeding concerning the cancellation or correction of an entry in the civil register must be made parties thereto.[35] As enunciated in Republic vs. Benemerito,[36] unless all possible indispensable parties were duly notified of the proceedings, the same shall be considered as falling much too short of the requirements of the rules.[37]

Here, it is clear that no party could be more interested in the cancellation of Rosilyn's birth certificate than Rosilyn herself. Her filiation, legitimacy, and date of birth are at stake.

Petitioners claim that even though Rosilyn was never made a party to the proceeding, it is enough that her name was included in the caption of the petition. Such reasoning is without merit.

As we pronounced in Labayo-Rowe vs. Republic[38] where the mother sought changes in the entries of her two children's birth certificates:
...since only the Office of the Solicitor General was notified through the Office of the Provincial Fiscal, representing the Republic of the Philippines as the only respondent, the proceedings taken, which is summary in nature, is short of what is required in cases where substantial alterations are sought. Aside from the Office of the Solicitor General, all other indispensable parties should have been made respondents. They include not only the declared father of the child but the child as well, together with the paternal grandparents, if any, as their hereditary rights would be adversely affected thereby. All other persons who may be affected by the change should be notified or represented . . ..[39] (Emphasis supplied)
In the present case, only the Civil Registrar of Manila was served summons, who, however, did not participate in the proceedings. This alone is clearly not sufficient to comply with the requirements laid down by the rules.

Petitioners further claim that the lack of summons on Rosilyn was cured by the publication of the order of the trial court setting the case for hearing for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation.

We do not agree. Summons must still be served, not for the purpose of vesting the courts with jurisdiction, but to comply with the requirements of fair play and due process.[40] This is but proper, to afford the person concerned the opportunity to protect her interest if she so chooses.

Indeed, there were instances when we ruled that even though an interested party was not impleaded in the petition, such defect was cured by compliance with Sec. 4, Rule 108 on publication. In said cases, however, earnest efforts were made by the petitioners in bringing to court all possible interested parties.[41]

Such is not the case at bar. Rosilyn was never made a party at all to the proceedings seeking the cancellation of her birth certificate. Neither did petitioners make any effort to summon the Solicitor General.

It does not take much to deduce the real motive of petitioners in seeking the cancellation of Rosilyn's birth certificate and in not making her, her guardian, the DSWD, and the Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, parties to the petition. Rosilyn was involved in the rape case against Romeo Jalosjos, where her father, as appearing in the birth certificate, was said to have pimped her into prostitution. In the criminal case, the defense contended that the birth certificate of Rosilyn should not have been considered by the trial court to prove Rosilyn's age and thus find basis for statutory rape, as said birth certificate has been cancelled by the RTC of Manila, Branch 38, in the special proceeding antecedent to this petition. Their efforts in this regard, however, were thwarted when the CA overturned Branch 38's decision, and the Court, in G.R. Nos. 132875-76[42] considered other evidence as proof of Rosilyn's age at the time of the commission of the crime.

There is also no merit in the contention of petitioners that because of the false entries in the birth certificate of Rosilyn, the same is void ab initio, hence should be nullified under Art. 5 of the Civil Code, or should be nullified by the CA in exercise of its peremptory power to declare null and void the said certificate.

The function of a petition for annulment of judgment, under Rule 47 of the Rules of Court, is not to replace the trial court's decision sought to be annulled. The action under Sections 1, 2 and 7 of said Rule, to wit:
Section. 1. Coverage. --- This Rule shall govern the annulment by the Court of Appeals of judgments or final orders and resolutions in civil actions of Regional Trial Courts for which the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault of the petitioner.

Sec. 2. Grounds for annulment. ---The annulment may be based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.

Extrinsic fraud shall not be a valid ground if it was availed of, or could have been availed of, in a motion for new trial or petition for relief.

Sec. 7. Effect of judgment. --- A judgment of annulment shall set aside the questioned judgment or final order or resolution and render the same null and void, without prejudice to the original action being refiled in the proper court. However, where the judgment or final order or resolution is set aside on the ground of extrinsic fraud, the court may on motion order the trial court to try the case as if a timely motion for new trial had been granted therein.
is merely for the annulment of the RTC Decision on grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction, nothing more. The Rules do not allow the CA to resolve the merits of the petition for the amendment and cancellation of the birth certificate of Rosilyn or to substitute its own findings thereon.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.


Puno, Callejo, Sr., Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

See People vs. Jaloslos, G.R. Nos. 132875-76, November 16, 2001, 369 SCRA 179, 209-210.

[2] Rollo, pp. 31-34.

[3] Penned by Associate Justice B.A. Adefuin-de la Cruz and concurred in by Associate Justices Fermin A. Martin, Jr., and Teodoro P. Regino; Rollo, p. 65.

[4] Rollo, p. 66.

[5] Id., p. 53, CA Decision.

[6] Records, p. 3.

[7] Id., p. 8.

[8] Id., p. 12.

[9] Id., p. 10.

[10] Id., pp. 53-54.

[11] Exhs. "A," "A-1," "A-2," "A-3" and "A-4," petition filed by the Spouses Ceruilas, Records, pp. 1-5; Exh. "B," RTC Order dated February 7, 1997, Records, pp. 7-8; Exh. "C," Summons sent to the Civil Register of the City of Manila, Records, p. 12; Exh. "D," Affidavit of Publication, Records, p. 13; and Exh. "E," copy of newspaper "Metropolitan Post," Records, p. 14.

[12] Records, pp. 51-53.

[13] CA Rollo, pp. 1-16.

[14] Id., p. 6.

[15] Id., pp. 6-7.

[16] Id., pp. 11-13.

[17] CA Rollo, pp. 35-36.

[18] Id., pp. 37-64.

[19] Entitled "In Re: Petition for the Custody of the minor Rosilyn Delantar, DSWD, Petitioner vs. Simplicio Delantar & Librada T. Delantar, Respondents."

[20] CA Rollo, p. 50.

[21] Rollo, p. 65.

[22] Rollo, pp. 56-64.

[23] Id., p. 66.

[24] Rollo, p. 16.

[25] Art. 5. Acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity.

[26] Section 15. Liberal Construction. – All pleadings shall be liberally construed as to do substantial justice.

[27] Rollo, pp. 17-20.

[28] Id., pp. 20-21.

[29] Id., p. 22.

[30] Sec. 3. Cases governed - ...

(c) A special proceeding is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact.

[31] No. L-32181, March 5, 1986, 141 SCRA 462.

[32] Rollo, pp. 83-92.

[33] Id., pp. 93-94.

[34] Chua Tee Dee vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 135721, May 27, 2004, 429 SCRA 418.

[35] Republic vs. Valencia, No. L-32181, March 5, 1986, 141 SCRA 462, 473; Republic vs. Benemerito, G.R. No. 146963, March 15, 2004, 425 SCRA 488, 492.

[36] Republic vs. Benemerito, supra.

[37] Supra.

[38] No. L-53417, December 8, 1988, 168 SCRA 294.

[39] Id., p. 301.

[40] Valmonte vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 108538, January 22, 1996, 252 SCRA 92; Asiavest Limited vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 128803, September 25, 1998, 296 SCRA 539, 554; Gomez vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127692, March 10, 2004; Alba vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 164041, July 29, 2005.

[41] See Barco vs. Court of Appeals as reiterated in Alba vs. Court of Appeals.

[42] People vs. Jalosjos, supra, p. 210.

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