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Republic vs.

Sagun

Essentially, the issues for our resolution are: (1) whether respondents petition for declaration of election of Philippine citizenship is sanctioned by the Rules of Court and jurisprudence; (2) whether respondent has effectively elected Philippine citizenship in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law.

(1). For sure, this Court has consistently ruled that there is no proceeding established by law, or the Rules for the judicial declaration of the citizenship of an individual. There is no specific legislation authorizing the institution of a judicial proceeding to declare that a given person is part of our citizenry.

reaching the age of majority, the child elected Philippine citizenship. The right to elect Philippine citizenship was recognized in the 1973 Constitution when it provided that [t]hose who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-five are citizens of the Philippines. Likewise, this recognition by the 1973 Constitution was carried over to the 1987 Constitution which states that [t]hose born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority are Philippine citizens.[18] It should be noted, however, that the 1973 and 1987 Constitutional provisions on the election of Philippine citizenship should not be understood as having a curative effect on any irregularity in the acquisition of citizenship for those covered by the 1935 Constitution. If the citizenship of a person was subject to challenge under the old charter, it remains subject to challenge under the new charter even if the judicial challenge had not been commenced before the effectivity of the new Constitution. Being a legitimate child, respondents citizenship followed that of her father who is Chinese, unless upon reaching the age of majority, she elects Philippine citizenship. It is a settled rule that only legitimate children follow the citizenship of the father and that illegitimate children are under the parental authority of the mother and follow her nationality. An illegitimate child of Filipina need not perform any act to confer upon him all the rights and privileges attached to citizens of the Philippines; he automatically becomes a citizen himself. But in the case of respondent, for her to be considered a Filipino citizen, she must have validly elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No. 625, enacted pursuant to Section 1(4), Article IV of the 1935 Constitution, prescribes the procedure that should be followed in order to make a valid election of Philippine citizenship. Based on the foregoing, the statutory formalities of electing Philippine citizenship are: (1) a statement of election under oath; (2) an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and Government of the Philippines; and (3) registration of the statement of election and of the oath with the nearest civil registry.

Clearly, it was erroneous for the trial court to make a specific declaration of respondents Filipino citizenship as such pronouncement was not within the courts competence. (2). As to the propriety of respondents petition seeking a judicial declaration of election of Philippine citizenship, it is imperative that we determine whether respondent is required under the law to make an election and if so, whether she has complied with the procedural requirements in the election of Philippine citizenship. When respondent was born on August 8, 1959, the governing charter was the 1935 Constitution, which declares as citizens of the Philippines those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.

Under Article IV, Section 1(4) of the 1935 Constitution, the citizenship of a legitimate child born of a Filipino mother and an alien father followed the citizenship of the father, unless, upon

Furthermore, no election of Philippine citizenship shall be accepted for registration under C.A. No. 625 unless the party exercising the right of election has complied with the requirements of the Alien Registration Act of 1950. In other words, he should first be required to register as an alien. Pertinently, the person electing Philippine citizenship is required to file a petition with the Commission of Immigration and Deportation for the cancellation of his alien certificate of registration based on his aforesaid election of Philippine citizenship and said Office will initially decide, based on the evidence presented the validity or invalidity of said election. Afterwards, the same is elevated to the Ministry of Justice for final determination and review. Be that as it may, even if we set aside this procedural infirmity, still the trial courts conclusion that respondent duly elected Philippine citizenship is erroneous since the records undisputably show that respondent failed to comply with the legal requirements for a valid election. Specifically, respondent had not executed a sworn statement of her election of Philippine citizenship. The only documentary evidence submitted by respondent in support of her claim of alleged election was her oath of allegiance, executed 12 years after she reached the age of majority, which was unregistered. As aptly pointed out by the petitioner, even assuming arguendo that respondents oath of allegiance suffices, its execution was not within a reasonable time after respondent attained the age of majority and was not registered with the nearest civil registry as required under Section 1 of C.A. No. 625. The phrase reasonable time has been interpreted to mean that the election should be made generally within three (3) years from reaching the age of majority. Moreover, there was no satisfactory explanation proffered by respondent for the delay and the failure to register with the nearest local civil registry. Based on the foregoing circumstances, respondent clearly failed to comply with the procedural requirements for a valid and effective election of Philippine citizenship. Respondent cannot assert that the exercise of suffrage and the participation in election exercises constitutes a positive act of election of Philippine citizenship since the law specifically lays down the requirements for acquisition of citizenship by election. The mere exercise of suffrage, continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines, and other similar acts showing exercise of Philippine citizenship cannot

take the place of election of Philippine citizenship. Hence, respondent cannot now be allowed to seek the intervention of the court to confer upon her Philippine citizenship when clearly she has failed to validly elect Philippine citizenship. As we held in Ching, [28] the prescribed procedure in electing Philippine citizenship is certainly not a tedious and painstaking process. All that is required of the elector is to execute an affidavit of election of Philippine citizenship and, thereafter, file the same with the nearest civil registry. Having failed to comply with the foregoing requirements, respondents petition before the trial court must be denied.

JOEVANIE ARELLANO TABASA, vs.HON. COURT OF APPEALS, BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION and DEPORTATION and WILSON SOLUREN,Respondents.

Does Tabasa qualify as a natural-born Filipino who had lost his Philippine citizenship by reason of political or economic necessity under RA 8171? He does not. Persons qualified for repatriation under RA 8171 To reiterate, the only persons entitled to repatriation under RA 8171 are the following: a. Filipino women who lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens; and b. Natural-born Filipinos including their minor children who lost their Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic necessity. Petitioner theorizes that he could be repatriated under RA 8171 because he is a child of a natural-born Filipino, and that he lost his Philippine citizenship by derivative naturalization when he was still a minor. Petitioner overlooks the fact that the privilege of repatriation under RA 8171 is available only to natural-born Filipinos who lost their

citizenship on account of political or economic necessity, and to the minor children of said natural-born Filipinos. This means that if a parent who had renounced his Philippine citizenship due to political or economic reasons later decides to repatriate under RA 8171, his repatriation will also benefit his minor children according to the law. This includes a situation where a former Filipino subsequently had children while he was a naturalized citizen of a foreign country. The repatriation of the former Filipino will allow him to recover his natural-born citizenship and automatically vest Philippine citizenship on his children of jus sanguinis or blood relationship: the children acquire the citizenship of their parent(s) who are natural-born Filipinos. To claim the benefit of RA 8171, however, the children must be of minor age at the time the petition for repatriation is filed by the parent. This is so because a child does not have the legal capacity for all acts of civil life much less the capacity to undertake a political act like the election of citizenship. On their own, the minor children cannot apply for repatriation or naturalization separately from their parents. In the case at bar, there is no dispute that petitioner was a Filipino at birth. In 1968, while he was still a minor, his father was naturalized as an American citizen; and by derivative naturalization, petitioner acquired U.S. citizenship. Petitioner now wants us to believe that he is entitled to automatic repatriation as a child of natural-born Filipinos who left the country due to political or economic necessity. This is absurd. Petitioner was no longer a minor at the time of his "repatriation" on June 13, 1996. The privilege under RA 8171 belongs to children who are of minor age at the time of the filing of the petition for repatriation. Neither can petitioner be a natural-born Filipino who left the country due to political or economic necessity. Clearly, he lost his Philippine citizenship by operation of law and not due to political or economic exigencies. It was his father who could have been motivated by economic or political reasons in deciding to apply for naturalization. The decision was his parents and not his. The privilege of repatriation under RA 8171 is extended directly to the natural-born Filipinos who could prove that they acquired citizenship of a foreign country due to political and economic reasons, and extended indirectly to the minor children at the time of repatriation.

In sum, petitioner is not qualified to avail himself of repatriation under RA 8171. However, he can possibly reacquire Philippine citizenship by availing of the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003 (Republic Act No. 9225) by simply taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. Where to file a petition for repatriation pursuant to RA 8171 Even if we concede that petitioner Tabasa can avail of the benefit of RA 8171, still he failed to follow the procedure for reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. He has to file his petition for repatriation with the Special Committee on Naturalization (SCN), which was designated to process petitions for repatriation pursuant to Administrative Order No. 285. In the Amended Rules and Regulations Implementing RA 8171 issued by the SCN on August 5, 1999, applicants for repatriation are required to submit documents in support of their petition such as their birth certificate and other evidence proving their claim to Filipino citizenship. These requirements were imposed to enable the SCN to verify the qualifications of the applicant particularly in light of the reasons for the renunciation of Philippine citizenship. What petitioner simply did was that he took his oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; then, executed an affidavit of repatriation, which he registered, together with the certificate of live birth, with the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Manila. The said office subsequently issued him a certificate of such registration. At that time, the SCN was already in place and operational by virtue of the June 8, 1995 Memorandum issued by President Fidel V. Ramos. Although A.O. No. 285 designating the SCN to process petitions filed pursuant to RA 8171 was issued only on August 22, 1996, it is merely a confirmatory issuance according to the Court in Angat v. Republic.22 Thus, petitioner should have instead filed a petition for repatriation before the SCN. Requirements for repatriation under RA 8171 Even if petitionernow of legal agecan still apply for repatriation under RA 8171, he nevertheless failed to prove that his parents relinquished their Philippine citizenship on account of political or

economic necessity as provided for in the law. Nowhere in his affidavit of repatriation did he mention that his parents lost their Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic reasons. It is notable that under the Amended Rules and Regulations Implementing RA 8171, the SCN requires a petitioner for repatriation to set forth, among others, "the reason/s why petitioner lost his/her Filipino citizenship, whether by marriage in case of Filipino woman, or whether by political or economic necessity in case of [a] natural-born Filipino citizen who lost his/her Filipino citizenship. In case of the latter, such political or economic necessity should be specified." 23 Petitioner Tabasa asserts, however, that the CA erred in ruling that the applicant for repatriation must prove that he lost his Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic necessity. He theorizes that the reference to political or economic reasons is "merely descriptive, not restrictive, of the widely accepted reasons for naturalization in [a] foreign country." 24 Petitioners argument has no leg to stand on. A reading of Section 1 of RA 8171 shows the manifest intent of the legislature to limit the benefit of repatriation only to natural-born Filipinos who lost their Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic necessity, in addition to Filipino women who lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens. The precursor of RA 8171, Presidential Decree No. 725 (P.D. 725), 25 which was enacted on June 5, 1975 amending Commonwealth Act No. 63, also gives to the same groups of former Filipinos the opportunity to repatriate but without the limiting phrase, "on account of political or economic necessity" in relation to natural-born Filipinos. By adding the said phrase to RA 8171, the lawmakers clearly intended to limit the application of the law only to political or economic migrants, aside from the Filipino women who lost their citizenship by marriage to aliens. From these two sources, namely, P.D. 725 and the sponsorship speech on House Bill No. 1248, it is incontrovertible that the intent of our legislators in crafting Section 1 of RA 8171, as it is precisely worded out, is to exclude those Filipinos who have abandoned their country for reasons other than political or economic necessity.

Petitioner contends it is not necessary to prove his political or economic reasons since the act of renouncing allegiance to ones native country constitutes a "necessary and unavoidable shifting of his political allegiance," and his fathers loss of Philippine citizenship through naturalization "cannot therefore be said to be for any reason other than political or economic necessity." This argument has no merit. While it is true that renunciation of allegiance to ones native country is necessarily a political act, it does not follow that the act is inevitably politically or economically motivated as alleged by petitioner. To reiterate, there are other reasons why Filipinos relinquish their Philippine citizenship. The sponsorship speech of former Congresswoman Andrea B. Domingo illustrates that aside from economic and political refugees, there are Filipinos who leave the country because they have committed crimes and would like to escape from punishment, and those who really feel that they are not Filipinos and that they deserve a better nationality, and therefore seek citizenship elsewhere. Thus, assuming petitioner Tabasa is qualified under RA 8171, it is incumbent upon him to prove to the satisfaction of the SCN that the reason for his loss of citizenship was the decision of his parents to forfeit their Philippine citizenship for political or economic exigencies. He failed to undertake this crucial step, and thus, the sought relief is unsuccessful. Repatriation is not a matter of right, but it is a privilege granted by the State. This is mandated by the 1987 Constitution under Section 3, Article IV, which provides that citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the manner provided by law. The State has the power to prescribe by law the qualifications, procedure, and requirements for repatriation. It has the power to determine if an applicant for repatriation meets the requirements of the law for it is an inherent power of the State to choose who will be its citizens, and who can reacquire citizenship once it is lost. If the applicant, like petitioner Tabasa, fails to comply with said requirements, the State is justified in rejecting the petition for repatriation. Petitioner: an undocumented alien subject to summary deportation

Petitioner claims that because of his repatriation, he has reacquired his Philippine citizenship; therefore, he is not an undocumented alien subject to deportation. This theory is incorrect. As previously explained, petitioner is not entitled to repatriation under RA 8171 for he has not shown that his case falls within the coverage of the law. Petitioner Tabasa, whose passport was cancelled after his admission into the country, became an undocumented alien who can be summarily deported. His subsequent "repatriation" cannot bar such deportation especially considering that he has no legal and valid reacquisition of Philippine citizenship.

less tedious, less technical and more encouraging. 50 It likewise addresses the concerns of degree holders who, by reason of lack of citizenship requirement, cannot practice their profession, thus promoting "brain gain" for the Philippines.51 These however, do not justify petitioners contention that the qualifications set forth in said law apply even to applications for naturalization by judicial act. First. C.A. No. 473 and R.A. No. 9139 are separate and distinct laws the former covers all aliens regardless of class while the latter covers native-born aliens who lived here in the Philippines all their lives, who never saw any other country and all along thought that they were Filipinos; who have demonstrated love and loyalty to the Philippines and affinity to the customs and traditions. 52 To reiterate, the intention of the legislature in enacting R.A. No. 9139 was to make the process of acquiring Philippine citizenship less tedious, less technical and more encouraging which is administrative rather than judicial in nature. Thus, although the legislature believes that there is a need to liberalize the naturalization law of the Philippines, there is nothing from which it can be inferred that C.A. No. 473 was intended to be amended or repealed by R.A. No. 9139. What the legislature had in mind was merely to prescribe another mode of acquiring Philippine citizenship which may be availed of by native born aliens. The only implication is that, a native born alien has the choice to apply for judicial or administrative naturalization, subject to the prescribed qualifications and disqualifications. In the instant case, petitioner applied for naturalization by judicial act, though at the time of the filing of his petition, administrative naturalization under R.A. No. 9139 was already available. Consequently, his application should be governed by C.A. No. 473. Second. If the qualifications prescribed in R.A. No. 9139 would be made applicable even to judicial naturalization, the coverage of the law would be broadened since it would then apply even to aliens who are not native born. It must be stressed that R.A. No. 9139 applies only to aliens who were born in the Philippines and have been residing here. Third. Applying the provisions of R.A. No. 9139 to judicial naturalization is contrary to the intention of the legislature to liberalize the naturalization procedure in the country. One of the

EDISON SO, Petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. Naturalization signifies the act of formally adopting a foreigner into the political body of a nation by clothing him or her with the privileges of a citizen.44 Under current and existing laws, there are three ways by which an alien may become a citizen by naturalization: (a) administrative naturalization pursuant to R.A. No. 9139; (b) judicial naturalization pursuant to C.A. No. 473, as amended; and (c) legislative naturalization in the form of a law enacted by Congress bestowing Philippine citizenship to an alien. 45 Petitioners contention that the qualifications an applicant for naturalization should possess are those provided for in R.A. No. 9139 and not those set forth in C.A. No. 473 is barren of merit. The qualifications and disqualifications of an applicant for naturalization by judicial act are set forth in Sections 246 and 447 of C.A. No. 473. On the other hand, Sections 348 and 449 of R.A. No. 9139 provide for the qualifications and disqualifications of an applicant for naturalization by administrative act. Indeed, R.A. No. 9139 was enacted as a remedial measure intended to make the process of acquiring Philippine citizenship

qualifications set forth in R.A. No. 9139 is that the applicant was born in the Philippines and should have been residing herein since birth. Thus, one who was born here but left the country, though resided for more than ten (10) years from the filing of the application is also disqualified. On the other hand, if we maintain the distinct qualifications under each of the two laws, an alien who is not qualified under R.A. No. 9139 may still be naturalized under C.A. No. 473. Thus, absent a specific provision expressly amending C.A. No. 473, the law stands and the qualifications and disqualifications set forth therein are maintained. In naturalization proceedings, it is the burden of the applicant to prove not only his own good moral character but also the good moral character of his/her witnesses, who must be credible persons.56 Within the purview of the naturalization law, a "credible person" is not only an individual who has not been previously convicted of a crime; who is not a police character and has no police record; who has not perjured in the past; or whose affidavit or testimony is not incredible. What must be credible is not the declaration made but the person making it. This implies that such person must have a good standing in the community; that he is known to be honest and upright; that he is reputed to be trustworthy and reliable; and that his word may be taken on its face value, as a good warranty of the applicants worthiness. 57 We do not agree with petitioners argument that respondent is precluded from questioning the RTC decision because of its failure to oppose the petition. A naturalization proceeding is not a judicial adversary proceeding, and the decision rendered therein does not constitute res judicata. A certificate of naturalization may be cancelled if it is subsequently discovered that the applicant obtained it by misleading the court upon any material fact. Law and jurisprudence even authorize the cancellation of a certificate of naturalization upon grounds or conditions arising subsequent to the granting of the certificate.59 If the government can challenge a final grant of citizenship, with more reason can it appeal the decision of the RTC within the reglementary period despite its failure to oppose the petition before the lower court. Nicolas-lewis vs. comelec

After what appears to be a successful application for recognition of Philippine citizenship under R.A. 9189, petitioners now invoke their right to enjoy political rights, specifically the right of suffrage, pursuant to Section 5 thereof. Opposing the petitioners bid, however, respondent COMELEC invites attention to the same Section 5 (1) providing that duals can enjoy their right to vote, as an adjunct to political rights, only if they meet the requirements of Section 1, Article V of the Constitution, R.A. 9189 and other existing laws. Capitalizing on what at first blush is the clashing provisions of the aforecited provision of the Constitution, which, to repeat, requires residency in the Philippines for a certain period, and R.A. 9189 which grants a Filipino non-resident absentee voting rights. As may be noted, there is no provision in the dual citizenship law - R.A. 9225 - requiring "duals" to actually establish residence and physically stay in the Philippines first before they can exercise their right to vote. On the contrary, R.A. 9225, in implicit acknowledgment that duals are most likely non-residents, grants under its Section 5(1) the same right of suffrage as that granted an absentee voter under R.A. 9189. It cannot be overemphasized that R.A. 9189 aims, in essence, to enfranchise as much as possible all overseas Filipinos who, save for the residency requirements exacted of an ordinary voter under ordinary conditions, are qualified to vote. Considering the unison intent of the Constitution and R.A. 9189 and the expansion of the scope of that law with the passage of R.A. 9225, the irresistible conclusion is that"duals" may now exercise the right of suffrage thru the absentee voting scheme and as overseas absentee voters. While perhaps not determinative of the issue tendered h erein, we note that the expanded thrust of R.A. 9189 extends also to what might be tag as the next generation of "duals". It is very likely that a considerable number of those u nmarried children below eighteen (18) years of age had neve r set foot in the Philippines. Now then, if the next generation of "duals" may nonetheless avail themselves the right to enjoy full civil and political rights under Section 5 of the Act, then there is neither no rhyme nor reason why the petitioners and other present day "duals," provided they meet the requirements under Section

1, Article V of the Constitution in relation to R.A. 9189, be denied the right of suffrage as an overseas absentee voter. Congress could not have plausibly intended such absurd situation.

Neither can we subscribe to the proposition of petitioner that a law is not needed since the case of Mercado had already set the guidelines for determining dual allegiance. Petitioner misreads Mercado. That case did not set the parameters of what constitutes dual allegiance but merely made a distinction between dual allegiance and dual citizenship. Moreover, in Estrada v. Sandiganbayan,11 we said that the courts must assume that the legislature is ever conscious of the borders and edges of its plenary powers, and passed laws with full knowledge of the facts and for the purpose of promoting what is right and advancing the welfare of the majority. Hence, in determining whether the acts of the legislature are in tune with the fundamental law, we must proceed with judicial restraint and act with caution and forbearance.12 The doctrine of separation of powers demands no less. We cannot arrogate the duty of setting the parameters of what constitutes dual allegiance when the Constitution itself has clearly delegated the duty of determining what acts constitute dual allegiance for study and legislation by Congress. PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW, BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner. Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of the Philippine bar in accordance with the statutory requirements and who is in good and regular standing is entitled to practice law. Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications. The Rules of Court mandates that an applicant for admission to the bar be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral character and a resident of the Philippines.5 He must also produce before this Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in the Philippines. 6 Moreover, admission to the bar involves various phases such as furnishing satisfactory proof of educational, moral and other qualifications; 7 passing the bar examinations;8 taking the lawyers oath9 and signing the roll of attorneys and receiving from the clerk of court of this Court a certificate of the license to practice.10 The second requisite for the practice of law membership in good standing is a continuing requirement. This means continued membership and, concomitantly, payment of annual membership dues in the IBP; 11 payment of the annual professional tax;12 compliance with the mandatory continuing legal education requirement;13 faithful observance of the rules and ethics of the legal profession and being continually subject to judicial disciplinary control. 14

AASJS (ADVOCATES AND ADHERENTS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE FOR SCHOOL TEACHERS AND ALLIED WORKERS) MEMBER - HECTOR GUMANGAN CALILUNG, vs. THE HONORABLE SIMEON DATUMANONG, in his official capacity as the Secretary of Justice. From the excerpts of the legislative record, it is clear that the intent of the legislature in drafting Rep. Act No. 9225 is to do away with the provision in Commonwealth Act No. 63 which takes away Philippine citizenship from naturalborn Filipinos who become naturalized citizens of other countries. What Rep. Act No. 9225 does is allow dual citizenship to natural-born Filipino citizens who have lost Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country. On its face, it does not recognize dual allegiance. By swearing to the supreme authority of the Republic, the person implicitly renounces his foreign citizenship. Plainly, from Section 3, Rep. Act No. 9225 stayed clear out of the problem of dual allegiance and shifted the burden of confronting the issue of whether or not there is dual allegiance to the concerned foreign country. What happens to the other citizenship was not made a concern of Rep. Act No. 9225. Petitioner likewise advances the proposition that although Congress has not yet passed any law on the matter of dual allegiance, such absence of a law should not be justification why this Court could not rule on the issue. He further contends that while it is true that there is no enabling law yet on dual allegiance, the Supreme Court, through Mercado v. Manzano, 6 already had drawn up the guidelines on how to distinguish dual allegiance from dual citizenship. 7 For its part, the OSG counters that pursuant to Section 5, Article IV of the 1987 Constitution, dual allegiance shall be dealt with by law. Thus, until a law on dual allegiance is enacted by Congress, the Supreme Court is without any jurisdiction to entertain issues regarding dual allegiance. 8 To begin with, Section 5, Article IV of the Constitution is a declaration of a policy and it is not a self-executing provision. The legislature still has to enact the law on dual allegiance. In Sections 2 and 3 of Rep. Act No. 9225, the framers were not concerned with dual citizenship per se, but with the status of naturalized citizens who maintain their allegiance to their countries of origin even after their naturalization.9 Congress was given a mandate to draft a law that would set specific parameters of what really constitutes dual allegiance. 10 Until this is done, it would be premature for the judicial department, including this Court, to rule on issues pertaining to dual allegiance.

Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his Filipino citizenship still practice law in the Philippines? No. The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by law. 15 Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice law in the Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege denied to foreigners.16 The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization as a citizen of another country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because "all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions of [RA 9225]."17Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to resume law practice accrues. Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the Philippines and he reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions "(he) shall apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice."18 Stated otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law practice, he must first secure from this Court the authority to do so, conditioned on: (a) the updating and payment in full of the annual membership dues in the IBP; (b) the payment of professional tax; (c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory continuing legal education; this is specially significant to refresh the applicant/petitioners knowledge of Philippine laws and update him of legal developments and (d) the retaking of the lawyers oath which will not only remind him of his duties and responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the Court, but also renew his pledge to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.

Compliance with these conditions will restore his good standing as a member of the Philippine bar.

Lopez vs. comelec


Petitioner was born a Filipino but he deliberately sought American citizenship and renounced his Filipino citizenship. He later on became a dual citizen by re-acquiring Filipino citizenship.

More importantly, the Courts 2000 ruling in Valles has been superseded by the enactment of R.A. No. 9225 in 2003. R.A. No. 9225 expressly provides for the conditions before those who re-acquired Filipino citizenship may run for a public office in the Philippines. Section 5 of the said law states:

Section 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities. Those who retain or re-acquire Philippine citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political rights and be subject to all attendant liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the following conditions:

(2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the qualification for holding such public office as required by the Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath.

Petitioner re-acquired his Filipino citizenship under the cited law. This new law explicitly provides that should one seek elective public office, he should first make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath.

Petitioner failed to comply with this requirement.

While it is true that petitioner won the elections, took his oath and began to discharge the functions of Barangay Chairman, his victory can not cure the defect of his candidacy. Garnering the most number of votes does not validate the election of a disqualified candidate because the application of the constitutional and statutory provisions on disqualification is not a matter of popularity.

In sum, the COMELEC committed no grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying petitioner as candidate for Chairman in the Barangay elections of 2007.