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Supreme Court rules legitimate children may take their mother’s last name

By Brooke Villanueva Published Feb 24, 2021 10:35 pm

Even legitimate Filipino children may now take their mother’s last name.

As stated in the Supreme Court (SC) ruling written by Associate Justice Marvic F. Leonen, it’s a must for courts—just like all other government departments and agencies—to “ensure the fundamental equality of women and men before the law.”

“Accordingly, where the text of a law allows for an interpretation that treats women and men more equally, that is the correct interpretation,” it read.

The 15-page decision was in line with the case of Anacleto Ballaho Alanis III v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 216425). Promulgated Nov. 11 of last year, it initially didn’t allow the petitioner to change his surname to his mom’s last name, which is Ballaho. It can be noted that he and his siblings were raised by the latter—all by herself.

Article 364 of the Civil Code says, “Legitimate and legitimated children shall principally use the surname of the father.” However, the tribunal stressed that “principally” does not mean “exclusively.”

“This gives ample room to incorporate into Article 364 the State policy of ensuring the fundamental equality of women and men before the law, and no discernible reason to ignore it,” the SC added.

Despite the fact that his notice of appeal was received beyond the filing period, the high court made the move to grant his petition.

“Patriarchy becomes encoded in our culture when it is normalized. The more it pervades our culture, the more its chances to infect this and future generations,” the court said.