LEGITIMATE Filipino children can use the surname of their mother as their own, according to the Supreme Court (SC).

In a 15-page decision written by Justice Marvic F. Leonen, the tribunal said this is in keeping with the Constitution, which tells the state to ensure the fundamental equality of women and men before the law.

The trial court gravely erred when it held that legitimate children cannot use their mother’s surname because it “treated the surnames of the petitioner’s mother and father unequally.”

“This is guaranteed by no less than the Constitution, a statute and an international convention to which the Philippines is a party,” the court said.

It reversed trial and appellate court rulings that rejected Anacleto B. Alanis III’s plea to change his surname to Ballaho, the surname of his mother who single-handedly raised him and his siblings.

The tribunal noted that while legitimate children would “principally” use the surname of their father under the law, principally does not mean exclusively.

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

The court favored Mr. Ballaho even if he failed to appeal the adverse ruling on time. “In the exercise of its equity jurisdiction, this court may choose to apply procedural rules more liberally to promote substantial justice,” it said. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago