Legitimate children can choose to take their mother's surname, the Supreme Court has said in a decision that corrects the patriarchal interpretation of family law.
The high tribunal ruled in favor of a man from Zamboanga, Anacleto Ballaho Alanis III, who wanted to use his mother's surname, Ballaho, since his parents separated when he was five years old.
The regional trial court denied his petition for a change of name, citing the Family Code, which said that legitimate children should take their father's surname. Ballaho took his fight all the way to the Supreme Court.
The SC Third Division said the law does not exclusively limit the surnames of legitimate children to their fathers. Associate Justice Marvic Leonen penned the decision.
"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.
"The trial court’s reasoning further encoded patriarchy into our system. 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," it said.
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