“Iqbal’s alleged use of aliases violates law — solon,” states the caption of a news article, referring to the allegation of Davao City Representative Carlo Nogales that the use of an alias by MILF Spokesman Mohagher Iqbal, apparently not his real name, in official documents “violates the Revised Penal Code and the Anti-Alias law which prohibit the use of pseudonyms in public documents.” It might be helpful to have a summary of the laws the penalize the use of aliases.
What is an alias?
An alias is a name or names used by a person or intended to be used by him publicly and habitually usually in business transactions in addition to his real name by which he is registered at birth or baptized the first time or substitute name authorized by a competent authority. A man’s name is simply the sound or sounds by which he is commonly designated by his fellows and by which they distinguish him but sometimes a man is known by several different names and these are known as aliases.
What is the objective of the law?
The objective and purpose of Commonwealth Act No. 142 (An Act to Regulate the Use of Aliases, full text below), according to the Supreme Court, have their origin and basis in Act No. 3883 (“An Act to Regulate the Use in Business Transactions of Names other than True Names, Prescribing the Duties of the Director of the Bureau of Commerce And Industry in its Enforcement, Providing Penalties for Violations thereof, and for other purposes,”), amended by Act No. 4147. This law was made primarily to curb the common practice among the Chinese of adopting scores of different names and aliases which created tremendous confusion in the field of trade. Such a practice almost bordered on the crime of using fictitious names which for obvious reasons could not be successfully maintained against the Chinese who, rightly or wrongly, claimed they possessed a thousand and one names. CA. No. 142 thus penalized the act of using an alias name, unless such alias was duly authorized by proper judicial proceedings and recorded in the civil register.
Is the use of an alias automatically penalized?
Under C.A. 142, the use of a fictitious name or a different name belonging to another person in a single instance without any sign or indication that the user intends to be known by this name in addition to his real name from that day forth does not fall within the prohibition.
What are the relevant laws on false names?
We point to the summary of these laws, contained in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Executive Order No. 306 (Instituting Measures to Promote Lawful Use of Government-Issued Identity Documents and Prevent Violations of Laws Involving False Names and Identities):
(a) the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2002 (Republic Act [RA] No. 9160, as amended), which requires banks and other covered institutions to established and record the true identity of their clients based on official documents;
(b) the Revised Penal Code (Act of 3815, as amended) which penalizes the public use of a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime, evading the execution of a judgment, or causing of damage (1st paragraph, Art 178), the concealment of a person’s true name and other personal circumstances (2nd paragraph, Art. 178), and the Act of defrauding another by using a fictitious name (4th paragraph, Art. 315);
(c) the Civil Code of the Philippines (RA No. 386, as amended), which prohibits the use of different names and surnames, except for pen and stage names (Art. 379 and 380);
(d) the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 (Commonwealth Act No. 613 as amended), which penalizes any individual who shall be evade the immigration laws by appearing under an assumed or fictitious name (Sec. 45);
(e) the Tax Reform Act of 1997 (RA8424), as amended, which made it unlawful for any person to enter any false or fictitious name in a taxpayer’s books of accounts or records;
(f) Presidential Decree No. 1829, which penalizes any individual who shall knowingly or willfully obstruct, impede, frustrate or delay the apprehension of suspects and the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases by publicly using a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime evading prosecution or the execution of a judgment, or concealing his true name and other personal circumstances for the same purpose (Sec. 1[d]); and
(g) Commonwealth Act No. 142, as amended by RA No. 6085, which penalizes any person who shall use any name different from the one with which he was registered at birth in the office of the local civil registry, or with which he was baptized for the first time, or with which he was registered in the Bureau of Immigration, or such substitute name as may have been authorized by a competent court (Sec. 1);
Rep. Nograles speaks of two laws — the Revised Penal Code and the “anti-alias law.” Both provisions carry the penalty of imprisonment. The pertinent provision of the Revised Penal Code is Article 178, which reads:
Art. 178. Using fictitious name and concealing true name. — The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not to exceed 500 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall publicly use a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime, evading the execution of a judgment or causing damage.
Any person who conceals his true name and other personal circumstances shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine not to exceed 200 pesos.
The “anti-alias law,” on the other hand, is Commonwealth Act No. 142 (An Act to Regulate the Use of Aliases), as amended by Republic Act No. 6085, which provides:
Sec. 1. Except as a pseudonym solely for literary, cinema, television, radio or other entertainment purposes and in athletic events where the use of pseudonym is a normally accepted practice, no person shall use any name different from the one with which he was registered at birth in the office of the local civil registry, or with which he was baptized for the first time, or, in case of an alien, with which he was registered in the bureau of immigration upon entry; or such substitute name as may have been authorized by a competent court: Provided, That persons, whose births have not been registered in any local civil registry and who have not been baptized, have one year from the approval of this act within which to register their names in the civil registry of their residence. The name shall comprise the patronymic name and one or two surnames.
Sec. 2. Any person desiring to use an alias shall apply for authority therefor in proceedings like those legally provided to obtain judicial authority for a change of name, and no person shall be allowed to secure such judicial authority for more than one alias. The petition for an alias shall set forth the person’s baptismal and family name and the name recorded in the civil registry, if different, his immigrant’s name, if an alien, and his pseudonym, if he has such names other than his original or real name, specifying the reason or reasons for the use of the desired alias. The judicial authority for the use of alias the Christian name and the alien immigrant’s name shall be recorded in the proper local civil registry, and no person shall use any name or names other, than his original or real name unless the same is or are duly recorded in the proper local civil registry.
Sec. 3. No person having been baptized with a name different from that with which he was registered at birth in the local civil registry, or in case of an alien, registered in the bureau of immigration upon entry, or any person who obtained judicial authority to use an alias, or who uses a pseudonym, shall represent himself in any public or private transaction or shall sign or execute any public or private document without stating or affixing his real or original name and all names or aliases or pseudonym he is or may have been authorized to use.
Sec. 4. Six months from the approval of this act and subject to the provisions of section 1 hereof, all persons who have used any name and/or names and alias or aliases different from those authorized in section one of this act and duly recorded in the local civil registry, shall be prohibited to use such other name or names and/or alias or aliases.
Sec. 5. Any violation of this Act shall be punished with imprisonment of from one year to five years and a fine of P5,000 to P10,000.
Source: Ursua vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 112170, 10 April 1996.