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EN BANC

March 8, 2016

G.R. No. 221697

MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioners,


vs.
COMELEC AND ESTRELLA C. ELAMPARO Respondents.

x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 221698-700

MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioners,


vs.
COMELEC, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS AND AMADO
D. VALDEZ Respondents.

DECISION

PEREZ, J.:

Before the Court are two consolidated petitions under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of
the Rules of Court with extremely urgent application for an ex parte issuance of
temporary restraining order/status quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary
injunction assailing the following: (1) 1 December 2015 Resolution of the Commission
on Elections (COMELEC) Second Division; (2) 23 December 2015 Resolution of the
COMELEC En Banc, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC); (3) 11 December 2015 Resolution of the
COMELEC First Division; and ( 4) 23 December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC En
Banc, in SPA No. 15-002 (DC), SPA No. 15-007 (DC) and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) for
having been issued without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction.

The Facts

Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares (petitioner) was found abandoned as a


newborn infant in the Parish Church of Jaro, Iloilo by a certain Edgardo Militar
(Edgardo) on 3 September 1968. Parental care and custody over petitioner was passed
on by Edgardo to his relatives, Emiliano Militar (Emiliano) and his wife. Three days
after, 6 September 1968, Emiliano reported and registered petitioner as a foundling with
the Office of the Civil Registrar of Iloilo City (OCR-Iloilo). In her Foundling Certificate
and Certificate of Live Birth, the petitioner was given the name "Mary Grace Natividad
Contreras Militar." 1

When petitioner was five (5) years old, celebrity spouses Ronald Allan Kelley Poe (a.k.a.
Fenando Poe, Jr.) and Jesusa Sonora Poe (a.k.a. Susan Roces) filed a petition for her
adoption with the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of San Juan City. On 13 May 1974, the
trial court granted their petition and ordered that petitioner's name be changed from
"Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar" to "Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe."
Although necessary notations were made by OCR-Iloilo on petitioner's foundling
certificate reflecting the court decreed adoption,2 the petitioner's adoptive mother
discovered only sometime in the second half of 2005 that the lawyer who handled
petitioner's adoption failed to secure from the OCR-Iloilo a new Certificate of Live Birth
indicating petitioner's new name and the name of her adoptive parents. 3 Without delay,
petitioner's mother executed an affidavit attesting to the lawyer's omission which she
submitted to the OCR-Iloilo. On 4 May 2006, OCR-Iloilo issued a new Certificate of Live
Birth in the name of Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe.4

Having reached the age of eighteen (18) years in 1986, petitioner registered as a voter
with the local COMELEC Office in San Juan City. On 13 December 1986, she received
her COMELEC Voter's Identification Card for Precinct No. 196 in Greenhills, San Juan,
Metro Manila.5

On 4 April 1988, petitioner applied for and was issued Philippine Passport No.
F9272876 by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Subsequently, on 5 April 1993
and 19 May 1998, she renewed her Philippine passport and respectively secured
Philippine Passport Nos. L881511 and DD156616.7

Initially, the petitioner enrolled and pursued a degree in Development Studies at the
University of the Philippines8 but she opted to continue her studies abroad and left for
the United States of America (U.S.) in 1988. Petitioner graduated in 1991 from Boston
College in Chestnuts Hill, Massachusetts where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree
in Political Studies.9

On 27 July 1991, petitioner married Teodoro Misael Daniel V. Llamanzares


(Llamanzares), a citizen of both the Philippines and the U.S., at Sanctuario de San Jose
Parish in San Juan City. 10 Desirous of being with her husband who was then based in
the U.S., the couple flew back to the U.S. two days after the wedding ceremony or on 29
July 1991. 11

While in the U.S., the petitioner gave birth to her eldest child Brian Daniel (Brian) on 16
April 1992.12 Her two daughters Hanna MacKenzie (Hanna) and Jesusa Anika (Anika)
were both born in the Philippines on 10 July 1998 and 5 June 2004, respectively. 13

On 18 October 2001, petitioner became a naturalized American citizen. 14 She obtained


U.S. Passport No. 017037793 on 19 December 2001. 15

On 8 April 2004, the petitioner came back to the Philippines together with Hanna to
support her father's candidacy for President in the May 2004 elections. It was during
this time that she gave birth to her youngest daughter Anika. She returned to the U.S.
with her two daughters on 8 July 2004. 16
After a few months, specifically on 13 December 2004, petitioner rushed back to the
Philippines upon learning of her father's deteriorating medical condition. 17 Her father
slipped into a coma and eventually expired. The petitioner stayed in the country until 3
February 2005 to take care of her father's funeral arrangements as well as to assist in
the settlement of his estate.18

According to the petitioner, the untimely demise of her father was a severe blow to her
entire family. In her earnest desire to be with her grieving mother, the petitioner and
her husband decided to move and reside permanently in the Philippines sometime in
the first quarter of 2005.19 The couple began preparing for their resettlement including
notification of their children's schools that they will be transferring to Philippine schools
for the next semester;20coordination with property movers for the relocation of their
household goods, furniture and cars from the U.S. to the Philippines;21 and inquiry with
Philippine authorities as to the proper procedure to be followed in bringing their pet dog
into the country.22 As early as 2004, the petitioner already quit her job in the U.S.23

Finally, petitioner came home to the Philippines on 24 May 200524 and without delay,
secured a Tax Identification Number from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Her three
(3) children immediately followed25 while her husband was forced to stay in the U.S. to
complete pending projects as well as to arrange the sale of their family home there. 26

The petitioner and her children briefly stayed at her mother's place until she and her
husband purchased a condominium unit with a parking slot at One Wilson Place
Condominium in San Juan City in the second half of 2005.27 The corresponding
Condominium Certificates of Title covering the unit and parking slot were issued by the
Register of Deeds of San Juan City to petitioner and her husband on 20 February
2006.28 Meanwhile, her children of school age began attending Philippine private
schools.

On 14 February 2006, the petitioner made a quick trip to the U.S. to supervise the
disposal of some of the family's remaining household belongings.29 She travelled back to
the Philippines on 11 March 2006.30

In late March 2006, petitioner's husband officially informed the U.S. Postal Service of
the family's change and abandonment of their address in the U.S.31 The family home was
eventually sold on 27 April 2006.32 Petitioner's husband resigned from his job in the
U.S. in April 2006, arrived in the country on 4 May 2006 and started working for a
major Philippine company in July 2006.33

In early 2006, petitioner and her husband acquired a 509-square meter lot in
Corinthian Hills, Quezon City where they built their family home34 and to this day, is
where the couple and their children have been residing.35 A Transfer Certificate of Title
covering said property was issued in the couple's name by the Register of Deeds of
Quezon City on 1June 2006.

On 7 July 2006, petitioner took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines
pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-
acquisition Act of 2003.36 Under the same Act, she filed with the Bureau of Immigration
(BI) a sworn petition to reacquire Philippine citizenship together with petitions for
derivative citizenship on behalf of her three minor children on 10 July 2006.37 As can be
gathered from its 18 July 2006 Order, the BI acted favorably on petitioner's petitions
and declared that she is deemed to have reacquired her Philippine citizenship while her
children are considered as citizens of the Philippines.38 Consequently, the BI issued
Identification Certificates (ICs) in petitioner's name and in the names of her three (3)
children. 39

Again, petitioner registered as a voter of Barangay Santa Lucia, San Juan City on 31
August 2006.40 She also secured from the DFA a new Philippine Passport bearing the
No. XX4731999.41 This passport was renewed on 18 March 2014 and she was issued
Philippine Passport No. EC0588861 by the DFA.42

On 6 October 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed petitioner as


Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board
(MTRCB).43 Before assuming her post, petitioner executed an "Affidavit of Renunciation
of Allegiance to the United States of America and Renunciation of American
Citizenship" before a notary public in Pasig City on 20 October 2010,44 in satisfaction of
the legal requisites stated in Section 5 of R.A. No. 9225.45 The following day, 21 October
2010 petitioner submitted the said affidavit to the BI46 and took her oath of office as
Chairperson of the MTRCB.47 From then on, petitioner stopped using her American
passport.48

On 12 July 2011, the petitioner executed before the Vice Consul of the U.S. Embassy in
Manila an "Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation of Nationality of the United States."49 On
that day, she accomplished a sworn questionnaire before the U.S. Vice Consul wherein
she stated that she had taken her oath as MTRCB Chairperson on 21 October 2010 with
the intent, among others, of relinquishing her American citizenship.50 In the same
questionnaire, the petitioner stated that she had resided outside of the U.S., specifically
in the Philippines, from 3 September 1968 to 29 July 1991 and from May 2005 to
present.51

On 9 December 2011, the U.S. Vice Consul issued to petitioner a "Certificate of Loss of
Nationality of the United States" effective 21 October 2010.52

On 2 October 2012, the petitioner filed with the COMELEC her Certificate of Candidacy
(COC) for Senator for the 2013 Elections wherein she answered "6 years and 6 months"
to the question "Period of residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013."53 Petitioner
obtained the highest number of votes and was proclaimed Senator on 16 May 2013. 54

On 19 December 2013, petitioner obtained Philippine Diplomatic Passport No.


DE0004530. 55

On 15 October 2015, petitioner filed her COC for the Presidency for the May 2016
Elections. 56 In her COC, the petitioner declared that she is a natural-born citizen and
that her residence in the Philippines up to the day before 9 May 2016 would be ten (10)
years and eleven (11) months counted from 24 May 2005.57 The petitioner attached to
her COC an "Affidavit Affirming Renunciation of U.S.A. Citizenship" subscribed and
sworn to before a notary public in Quezon City on 14 October 2015. 58

Petitioner's filing of her COC for President in the upcoming elections triggered the filing
of several COMELEC cases against her which were the subject of these consolidated
cases.

Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. No. 221697

A day after petitioner filed her COC for President, Estrella Elamparo (Elamparo) filed a
petition to deny due course or cancel said COC which was docketed as SPA No. 15-001
(DC) and raffled to the COMELEC Second Division.59She is convinced that the
COMELEC has jurisdiction over her petition.60 Essentially, Elamparo's contention is
that petitioner committed material misrepresentation when she stated in her COC that
she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and that she is a resident of the Philippines for at
least ten (10) years and eleven (11) months up to the day before the 9 May 2016
Elections.61

On the issue of citizenship, Elamparo argued that petitioner cannot be considered as a


natural-born Filipino on account of the fact that she was a foundling.62 Elamparo
claimed that international law does not confer natural-born status and Filipino
citizenship on foundlings.63 Following this line of reasoning, petitioner is not qualified
to apply for reacquisition of Filipino citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 for she is not a
natural-born Filipino citizen to begin with.64Even assuming arguendo that petitioner
was a natural-born Filipino, she is deemed to have lost that status when she became a
naturalized American citizen.65 According to Elamparo, natural-born citizenship must
be continuous from birth.66

On the matter of petitioner's residency, Elamparo pointed out that petitioner was bound
by the sworn declaration she made in her 2012 COC for Senator wherein she indicated
that she had resided in the country for only six ( 6) years and six ( 6) months as of May
2013 Elections. Elamparo likewise insisted that assuming arguendo that petitioner is
qualified to regain her natural-born status under R.A. No. 9225, she still fell short of the
ten-year residency requirement of the Constitution as her residence could only be
counted at the earliest from July 2006, when she reacquired Philippine citizenship
under the said Act. Also on the assumption that petitioner is qualified to reacquire lost
Philippine Citizenship, Elamparo is of the belief that she failed to reestablish her
domicile in the Philippines.67

Petitioner seasonably filed her Answer wherein she countered that:

(1) the COMELEC did not have jurisdiction over Elamparo's petition as it was
actually a petition for quo warranto which could only be filed if Grace Poe wins
in the Presidential elections, and that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has
primary jurisdiction to revoke the BI's July 18, 2006 Order;
(2) the petition failed to state a cause of action because it did not contain
allegations which, if hypothetically admitted, would make false the statement in
her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen nor was there any allegation
that there was a willful or deliberate intent to misrepresent on her part;

(3) she did not make any material misrepresentation in the COC regarding her
citizenship and residency qualifications for:

a. the 1934 Constitutional Convention deliberations show that foundlings


were considered citizens;

b. foundlings are presumed under international law to have been born of


citizens of the place where they are found;

c. she reacquired her natural-born Philippine citizenship under the


provisions of R.A. No. 9225;

d. she executed a sworn renunciation of her American citizenship prior to


the filing of her COC for President in the May 9, 2016 Elections and that
the same is in full force and effect and has not been withdrawn or
recanted;

e. the burden was on Elamparo in proving that she did not possess
natural-born status;

f. residence is a matter of evidence and that she reestablished her domicile


in the Philippines as early as May 24, 2005;

g. she could reestablish residence even before she reacquired natural-born


citizenship under R.A. No. 9225;

h. statement regarding the period of residence in her 2012 COC for


Senator was an honest mistake, not binding and should give way to
evidence on her true date of reacquisition of domicile;

i. Elamparo's petition is merely an action to usurp the sovereign right of


the Filipino people to decide a purely political question, that is, should she
serve as the country's next leader.68

After the parties submitted their respective Memoranda, the petition was deemed
submitted for resolution.

On 1 December 2015, the COMELEC Second Division promulgated a Resolution finding


that petitioner's COC, filed for the purpose of running for the President of the Republic
of the Philippines in the 9 May 2016 National and Local Elections, contained material
representations which are false. The fallo of the aforesaid Resolution reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the instant Petition to Deny
Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly,
the Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May
9, 2016 National and Local Elections filed by respondent Mary Grace Natividad Sonora
Poe Llamanzares is hereby CANCELLED.69

Motion for Reconsideration of the 1 December 2015 Resolution was filed by petitioner
which the COMELEC En Banc resolved in its 23 December 2015 Resolution by denying
the same.70

Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. Nos. 221698-700

This case stemmed from three (3) separate petitions filed by Francisco S. Tatad (Tatad),
Antonio P. Contreras (Contreras) and Amado D. Valdez (Valdez) against petitioner
before the COMELEC which were consolidated and raffled to its First Division.

In his petition to disqualify petitioner under Rule 25 of the COMELEC Rules of


Procedure,71 docketed as SPA No. 15-002 (DC), Tatad alleged that petitioner lacks the
requisite residency and citizenship to qualify her for the Presidency.72

Tatad theorized that since the Philippines adheres to the principle of jus
sanguinis, persons of unknown parentage, particularly foundlings, cannot be considered
natural-born Filipino citizens since blood relationship is determinative of natural-born
status.73 Tatad invoked the rule of statutory construction that what is not included is
excluded. He averred that the fact that foundlings were not expressly included in the
categories of citizens in the 193 5 Constitution is indicative of the framers' intent to
exclude them.74 Therefore, the burden lies on petitioner to prove that she is a natural-
born citizen.75

Neither can petitioner seek refuge under international conventions or treaties to support
her claim that foundlings have a nationality.76 According to Tatad, international
conventions and treaties are not self-executory and that local legislations are necessary
in order to give effect to treaty obligations assumed by the Philippines.77 He also
stressed that there is no standard state practice that automatically confers natural-born
status to foundlings.78

Similar to Elamparo's argument, Tatad claimed that petitioner cannot avail of the option
to reacquire Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 because it only applies to former
natural-born citizens and petitioner was not as she was a foundling.79

Referring to petitioner's COC for Senator, Tatad concluded that she did not comply with
the ten (10) year residency requirement.80 Tatad opined that petitioner acquired her
domicile in Quezon City only from the time she renounced her American citizenship
which was sometime in 2010 or 2011.81 Additionally, Tatad questioned petitioner's lack
of intention to abandon her U.S. domicile as evinced by the fact that her husband stayed
thereat and her frequent trips to the U.S.82
In support of his petition to deny due course or cancel the COC of petitioner, docketed
as SPA No. 15-139 (DC), Valdez alleged that her repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 did
not bestow upon her the status of a natural-born citizen.83 He advanced the view that
former natural-born citizens who are repatriated under the said Act reacquires only
their Philippine citizenship and will not revert to their original status as natural-born
citizens.84

He further argued that petitioner's own admission in her COC for Senator that she had
only been a resident of the Philippines for at least six (6) years and six (6) months prior
to the 13 May 2013 Elections operates against her. Valdez rejected petitioner's claim that
she could have validly reestablished her domicile in the Philippines prior to her
reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. In effect, his position was that petitioner did not
meet the ten (10) year residency requirement for President.

Unlike the previous COMELEC cases filed against petitioner, Contreras'


petition,85 docketed as SPA No. 15-007 (DC), limited the attack to the residency issue.
He claimed that petitioner's 2015 COC for President should be cancelled on the ground
that she did not possess the ten-year period of residency required for said candidacy and
that she made false entry in her COC when she stated that she is a legal resident of the
Philippines for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months by 9 May 2016.86 Contreras
contended that the reckoning period for computing petitioner's residency in the
Philippines should be from 18 July 2006, the date when her petition to reacquire
Philippine citizenship was approved by the BI.87 He asserted that petitioner's physical
presence in the country before 18 July 2006 could not be valid evidence of reacquisition
of her Philippine domicile since she was then living here as an American citizen and as
such, she was governed by the Philippine immigration laws.88

In her defense, petitioner raised the following arguments:

First, Tatad's petition should be dismissed outright for failure to state a cause of action.
His petition did not invoke grounds proper for a disqualification case as enumerated
under Sections 12 and 68 of the Omnibus Election Code.89 Instead, Tatad completely
relied on the alleged lack of residency and natural-born status of petitioner which are
not among the recognized grounds for the disqualification of a candidate to an elective
office.90

Second, the petitions filed against her are basically petitions for quo warranto as they
focus on establishing her ineligibility for the Presidency.91 A petition for quo
warranto falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal
(PET) and not the COMELEC.92

Third, the burden to prove that she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen is on the
respondents.93 Otherwise stated, she has a presumption in her favor that she is a
natural-born citizen of this country.
Fourth, customary international law dictates that foundlings are entitled to a nationality
and are presumed to be citizens of the country where they are found.94 Consequently,
the petitioner is considered as a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.95

Fifth, she claimed that as a natural-born citizen, she has every right to be repatriated
under R.A. No. 9225 or the right to reacquire her natural-born status.96 Moreover, the
official acts of the Philippine Government enjoy the presumption of regularity, to wit:
the issuance of the 18 July 2006 Order of the BI declaring her as natural-born citizen,
her appointment as MTRCB Chair and the issuance of the decree of adoption of San
Juan RTC.97 She believed that all these acts reinforced her position that she is a natural-
born citizen of the Philippines.98

Sixth, she maintained that as early as the first quarter of 2005, she started
reestablishing her domicile of choice in the Philippines as demonstrated by her
children's resettlement and schooling in the country, purchase of a condominium unit in
San Juan City and the construction of their family home in Corinthian Hills.99

Seventh, she insisted that she could legally reestablish her domicile of choice in the
Philippines even before she renounced her American citizenship as long as the three
determinants for a change of domicile are complied with.100She reasoned out that there
was no requirement that renunciation of foreign citizenship is a prerequisite for the
acquisition of a new domicile of choice.101

Eighth, she reiterated that the period appearing in the residency portion of her COC for
Senator was a mistake made in good faith.102

In a Resolution103 promulgated on 11 December 2015, the COMELEC First Division


ruled that petitioner is not a natural-born citizen, that she failed to complete the ten (10)
year residency requirement, and that she committed material misrepresentation in her
COC when she declared therein that she has been a resident of the Philippines for a
period of ten (10) years and eleven (11) months as of the day of the elections on 9 May
2016. The COMELEC First Division concluded that she is not qualified for the elective
position of President of the Republic of the Philippines. The dispositive portion of said
Resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it


hereby RESOLVES, to GRANT the Petitions and cancel the Certificate of Candidacy
of MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES for the elective
position of President of the Republic of the Philippines in connection with the 9 May
2016 Synchronized Local and National Elections.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration seeking a reversal of the COMELEC First
Division's Resolution. On 23 December 2015, the COMELEC En Banc issued a
Resolution denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.

Alarmed by the adverse rulings of the COMELEC, petitioner instituted the present
petitions for certiorari with urgent prayer for the issuance of an ex parte temporary
restraining order/status quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. On 28
December 2015, temporary restraining orders were issued by the Court enjoining the
COMELEC and its representatives from implementing the assailed COMELEC
Resolutions until further orders from the Court. The Court also ordered the
consolidation of the two petitions filed by petitioner in its Resolution of 12 January
2016. Thereafter, oral arguments were held in these cases.

The Court GRANTS the petition of Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares and to
ANNUL and SET ASIDE the:

1. Resolution dated 1 December 2015 rendered through its Second Division, in


SPA No. 15-001 (DC), entitled Estrella C. Elamparo, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace
Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares.

2. Resolution dated 11 December 2015, rendered through its First Division, in the
consolidated cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC) entitled Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner,
vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-
007 (DC) entitled Antonio P. Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad
Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) entitled Amado
D. Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares,
respondent.

3. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the Commission En Banc, upholding


the 1 December 2015 Resolution of the Second Division.

4. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the Commission En Banc, upholding


the 11 December 2015 Resolution of the First Division.

The procedure and the conclusions from which the questioned Resolutions emanated
are tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The
petitioner is a QUALIFIED CANDIDATE for President in the 9 May 2016 National
Elections.

The issue before the COMELEC is whether or not the COC of petitioner should be
denied due course or cancelled "on the exclusive ground" that she made in the certificate
a false material representation. The exclusivity of the ground should hedge in the
discretion of the COMELEC and restrain it from going into the issue of the qualifications
of the candidate for the position, if, as in this case, such issue is yet undecided or
undetermined by the proper authority. The COMELEC cannot itself, in the same
cancellation case, decide the qualification or lack thereof of the candidate.

We rely, first of all, on the Constitution of our Republic, particularly its provisions in
Article IX, C, Section 2:

Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and
functions:
(1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct
of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall.

(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the
elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial,
and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving
elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction,
or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited
jurisdiction.

Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election contests


involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executory,
and not appealable.

(3) Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting
elections, including determination of the number and location of polling
places, appointment of election officials and inspectors, and registration of
voters.

(4) Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcement


agencies and instrumentalities of the Government, including the Armed
Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free,
orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.

(5) Register, after sufficient publication, political parties, organizations, or


coalitions which, in addition to other requirements, must present their
platform or program of government; and accredit citizens' arms of the
Commission on Elections. Religious denominations and sects shall not be
registered. Those which seek to achieve their goals through violence or
unlawful means, or refuse to uphold and adhere to this Constitution, or
which are supported by any foreign government shall likewise be refused
registration.

Financial contributions from foreign governments and their agencies to


political parties, organizations, coalitions, or candidates related to
elections constitute interference in national affairs, and, when accepted,
shall be an additional ground for the cancellation of their registration with
the Commission, in addition to other penalties that may be prescribed by
law.

(6) File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative, petitions in


court for inclusion or exclusion of voters; investigate and, where
appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election laws, including acts
or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses, and malpractices.

(7) Recommend to the Congress effective measures to minimize election


spending, including limitation of places where propaganda materials shall
be posted, and to prevent and penalize all forms of election frauds,
offenses, malpractices, and nuisance candidacies.

(8) Recommend to the President the removal of any officer or employee it


has deputized, or the imposition of any other disciplinary action, for
violation or disregard of, or disobedience to its directive, order, or
decision.

(9) Submit to the President and the Congress a comprehensive report on


the conduct of each election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, or recall.

Not any one of the enumerated powers approximate the exactitude of the provisions of
Article VI, Section 17 of the same basic law stating that:

The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral
Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election,
returns, and qualifications of their respective Members. Each Electoral Tribunal
shall be composed of nine Members, three of whom shall be Justices of the
Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Justice, and the remaining six shall
be Members of the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be,
who shall be chosen on the basis of proportional representation from the political
parties and the parties or organizations registered under the party-list system
represented therein. The senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its
Chairman.

or of the last paragraph of Article VII, Section 4 which provides that:

The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating
to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and
may promulgate its rules for the purpose.

The tribunals which have jurisdiction over the question of the qualifications of the
President, the Vice-President, Senators and the Members of the House of
Representatives was made clear by the Constitution. There is no such provision for
candidates for these positions.

Can the COMELEC be such judge?

The opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in Romualdez-Marcos v. Commission on


Elections,104 which was affirmatively cited in the En Banc decision in Fermin v.
COMELEC105 is our guide. The citation in Fermin reads:

Apparently realizing the lack of an authorized proceeding for declaring the ineligibility
of candidates, the COMELEC amended its rules on February 15, 1993 so as to provide in
Rule 25 § 1, the following:
Grounds for disqualification. - Any candidate who does not possess all the
qualifications of a candidate as provided for by the Constitution or by
existing law or who commits any act declared by law to be grounds for
disqualification may be disqualified from continuing as a candidate.

The lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be
supplied by a mere rule. Such an act is equivalent to the creation of a cause of action
which is a substantive matter which the COMELEC, in the exercise of its rule-making
power under Art. IX, A, §6 of the Constitution, cannot do it. It is noteworthy that the
Constitution withholds from the COMELEC even the power to decide cases involving the
right to vote, which essentially involves an inquiry into qualifications based on age,
residence and citizenship of voters. [Art. IX, C, §2(3)]

The assimilation in Rule 25 of the COMELEC rules of grounds for ineligibility into
grounds for disqualification is contrary to the evident intention of the law. For not only
in their grounds but also in their consequences are proceedings for "disqualification"
different from those for a declaration of "ineligibility." "Disqualification" proceedings, as
already stated, are based on grounds specified in § 12 and §68 of the Omnibus Election
Code and in §40 of the Local Government Code and are for the purpose of barring an
individual from becoming a candidate or from continuing as a candidate for public
office. In a word, their purpose is to eliminate a candidate from the race either from the
start or during its progress. "Ineligibility," on the other hand, refers to the lack of the
qualifications prescribed in the Constitution or the statutes for holding public office and
the purpose of the proceedings for declaration of ineligibility is to remove the incumbent
from office.

Consequently, that an individual possesses the qualifications for a public office does not
imply that he is not disqualified from becoming a candidate or continuing as a candidate
for a public office and vice versa. We have this sort of dichotomy in our Naturalization
Law. (C.A. No. 473) That an alien has the qualifications prescribed in §2 of the Law does
not imply that he does not suffer from any of [the] disqualifications provided in §4.

Before we get derailed by the distinction as to grounds and the consequences of the
respective proceedings, the importance of the opinion is in its statement that "the lack of
provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be supplied by a
mere rule". Justice Mendoza lectured in Romualdez-Marcos that:

Three reasons may be cited to explain the absence of an authorized proceeding for
determining before election the qualifications of a candidate.

First is the fact that unless a candidate wins and is proclaimed elected, there is no
necessity for determining his eligibility for the office. In contrast, whether an individual
should be disqualified as a candidate for acts constituting election offenses (e.g., vote
buying, over spending, commission of prohibited acts) is a prejudicial question which
should be determined lest he wins because of the very acts for which his disqualification
is being sought. That is why it is provided that if the grounds for disqualification are
established, a candidate will not be voted for; if he has been voted for, the votes in his
favor will not be counted; and if for some reason he has been voted for and he has won,
either he will not be proclaimed or his proclamation will be set aside.

Second is the fact that the determination of a candidates' eligibility, e.g., his citizenship
or, as in this case, his domicile, may take a long time to make, extending beyond the
beginning of the term of the office. This is amply demonstrated in the companion case
(G.R. No. 120265, Agapito A. Aquino v. COMELEC) where the determination of
Aquino's residence was still pending in the COMELEC even after the elections of May
8, 1995. This is contrary to the summary character proceedings relating to certificates
of candidacy. That is why the law makes the receipt of certificates of candidacy a
ministerial duty of the COMELEC and its officers. The law is satisfied if candidates state
in their certificates of candidacy that they are eligible for the position which they seek to
fill, leaving the determination of their qualifications to be made after the election and
only in the event they are elected. Only in cases involving charges of false
representations made in certificates of candidacy is the COMELEC given jurisdiction.

Third is the policy underlying the prohibition against pre-proclamation cases in


elections for President, Vice President, Senators and members of the House of
Representatives. (R.A. No. 7166, § 15) The purpose is to preserve the prerogatives of the
House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the other Tribunals as "sole judges"
under the Constitution of the election, returns and qualifications of members of
Congress of the President and Vice President, as the case may be.106

To be sure, the authoritativeness of the Romualdez pronouncements as reiterated


in Fermin, led to the amendment through COMELEC Resolution No. 9523, on 25
September 2012 of its Rule 25. This, the 15 February1993 version of Rule 25, which
states that:

Grounds for disqualification. -Any candidate who does not possess all the qualifications
of a candidate as provided for by the Constitution or by existing law or who commits any
act declared by law to be grounds for disqualification may be disqualified from
continuing as a candidate.107

was in the 2012 rendition, drastically changed to:

Grounds. - Any candidate who, in action or protest in which he is a party, is declared by


final decision of a competent court, guilty of, or found by the Commission to be suffering
from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution.

A Petition to Disqualify a Candidate invoking grounds for a Petition to Deny to or Cancel


a Certificate of Candidacy or Petition to Declare a Candidate as a Nuisance Candidate, or
a combination thereof, shall be summarily dismissed.

Clearly, the amendment done in 2012 is an acceptance of the reality of absence of an


authorized proceeding for determining before election the qualifications of candidate.
Such that, as presently required, to disqualify a candidate there must be a declaration by
a final judgment of a competent court that the candidate sought to be disqualified "is
guilty of or found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided
by law or the Constitution."

Insofar as the qualification of a candidate is concerned, Rule 25 and Rule 23 are


flipsides of one to the other. Both do not allow, are not authorizations, are not vestment
of jurisdiction, for the COMELEC to determine the qualification of a candidate. The
facts of qualification must beforehand be established in a prior proceeding before an
authority properly vested with jurisdiction. The prior determination of qualification may
be by statute, by executive order or by a judgment of a competent court or tribunal.

If a candidate cannot be disqualified without a prior finding that he or she is suffering


from a disqualification "provided by law or the Constitution," neither can the certificate
of candidacy be cancelled or denied due course on grounds of false representations
regarding his or her qualifications, without a prior authoritative finding that he or she is
not qualified, such prior authority being the necessary measure by which the falsity of
the representation can be found. The only exception that can be conceded are self-
evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity and judicial confessions. Such
are, anyway, bases equivalent to prior decisions against which the falsity of
representation can be determined.

The need for a predicate finding or final pronouncement in a proceeding under Rule 23
that deals with, as in this case, alleged false representations regarding the candidate's
citizenship and residence, forced the COMELEC to rule essentially that since
foundlings108 are not mentioned in the enumeration of citizens under the 1935
Constitution,109 they then cannot be citizens. As the COMELEC stated in oral
arguments, when petitioner admitted that she is a foundling, she said it all. This borders
on bigotry. Oddly, in an effort at tolerance, the COMELEC, after saying that it cannot
rule that herein petitioner possesses blood relationship with a Filipino citizen when "it is
certain that such relationship is indemonstrable," proceeded to say that "she now has
the burden to present evidence to prove her natural filiation with a Filipino parent."

The fact is that petitioner's blood relationship with a Filipino citizen is


DEMONSTRABLE.

At the outset, it must be noted that presumptions regarding paternity is neither


unknown nor unaccepted in Philippine Law. The Family Code of the Philippines has a
whole chapter on Paternity and Filiation.110 That said, there is more than sufficient
evider1ce that petitioner has Filipino parents and is therefore a natural-born Filipino.
Parenthetically, the burden of proof was on private respondents to show that petitioner
is not a Filipino citizen. The private respondents should have shown that both of
petitioner's parents were aliens. Her admission that she is a foundling did not shift the
burden to her because such status did not exclude the possibility that her parents were
Filipinos, especially as in this case where there is a high probability, if not certainty, that
her parents are Filipinos.

The factual issue is not who the parents of petitioner are, as their identities are
unknown, but whether such parents are Filipinos. Under Section 4, Rule 128:
Sect. 4. Relevancy, collateral matters - Evidence must have such a relation to the fact in
issue as to induce belief in its existence or no-existence. Evidence on collateral matters
shall not be allowed, except when it tends in any reasonable degree to establish the
probability of improbability of the fact in issue.

The Solicitor General offered official statistics from the Philippine Statistics Authority
(PSA)111 that from 1965 to 1975, the total number of foreigners born in the Philippines
was 15,986 while the total number of Filipinos born in the country was 10,558,278. The
statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines in that decade is natural-
born Filipino was 99.83%. For her part, petitioner presented census statistics for Iloilo
Province for 1960 and 1970, also from the PSA. In 1960, there were 962,532 Filipinos
and 4,734 foreigners in the province; 99.62% of the population were Filipinos. In 1970,
the figures were 1,162,669 Filipinos and 5,304 foreigners, or 99.55%. Also presented
were figures for the child producing ages (15-49). In 1960, there were 230,528 female
Filipinos as against 730 female foreigners or 99.68%. In the same year, there were
210,349 Filipino males and 886 male aliens, or 99.58%. In 1970, there were 270,299
Filipino females versus 1, 190 female aliens, or 99.56%. That same year, there were
245,740 Filipino males as against only 1,165 male aliens or 99.53%. COMELEC did not
dispute these figures. Notably, Commissioner Arthur Lim admitted, during the oral
arguments, that at the time petitioner was found in 1968, the majority of the population
in Iloilo was Filipino.112

Other circumstantial evidence of the nationality of petitioner's parents are the fact that
she was abandoned as an infant in a Roman Catholic Church in Iloilo City.1âwphi1 She
also has typical Filipino features: height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond
shaped eyes and an oval face.

There is a disputable presumption that things have happened according to the ordinary
course of nature and the ordinary habits of life.113 All of the foregoing evidence, that a
person with typical Filipino features is abandoned in Catholic Church in a municipality
where the population of the Philippines is overwhelmingly Filipinos such that there
would be more than a 99% chance that a child born in the province would be a Filipino,
would indicate more than ample probability if not statistical certainty, that petitioner's
parents are Filipinos. That probability and the evidence on which it is based are
admissible under Rule 128, Section 4 of the Revised Rules on Evidence.

To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd, if not the virtually impossible, as the norm.
In the words of the Solicitor General:

Second. It is contrary to common sense because foreigners do not come to the


Philippines so they can get pregnant and leave their newborn babies behind. We do not
face a situation where the probability is such that every foundling would have a 50%
chance of being a Filipino and a 50% chance of being a foreigner. We need to frame our
questions properly. What are the chances that the parents of anyone born in the
Philippines would be foreigners? Almost zero. What are the chances that the parents of
anyone born in the Philippines would be Filipinos? 99.9%.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, from 2010 to 2014, on a yearly average,
there were 1,766,046 children born in the Philippines to Filipino parents, as opposed to
1,301 children in the Philippines of foreign parents. Thus, for that sample period, the
ratio of non-Filipino children to natural born Filipino children is 1:1357. This means
that the statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines would be a natural
born Filipino is 99.93%.

From 1965 to 1975, the total number of foreigners born in the Philippines is 15,986
while the total number of Filipinos born in the Philippines is 15,558,278. For this period,
the ratio of non-Filipino children is 1:661. This means that the statistical probability that
any child born in the Philippines on that decade would be a natural born Filipino is
99.83%.

We can invite statisticians and social anthropologists to crunch the numbers for us, but I
am confident that the statistical probability that a child born in the Philippines would be
a natural born Filipino will not be affected by whether or not the parents are known. If
at all, the likelihood that a foundling would have a Filipino parent might even be higher
than 99.9%. Filipinos abandon their children out of poverty or perhaps, shame. We do
not imagine foreigners abandoning their children here in the Philippines thinking those
infants would have better economic opportunities or believing that this country is a
tropical paradise suitable for raising abandoned children. I certainly doubt whether a
foreign couple has ever considered their child excess baggage that is best left behind.

To deny full Filipino citizenship to all foundlings and render them stateless just because
there may be a theoretical chance that one among the thousands of these foundlings
might be the child of not just one, but two, foreigners is downright discriminatory,
irrational, and unjust. It just doesn't make any sense. Given the statistical certainty -
99.9% - that any child born in the Philippines would be a natural born citizen, a decision
denying foundlings such status is effectively a denial of their birthright. There is no
reason why this Honorable Court should use an improbable hypothetical to sacrifice the
fundamental political rights of an entire class of human beings. Your Honor,
constitutional interpretation and the use of common sense are not separate disciplines.

As a matter of law, foundlings are as a class, natural-born citizens. While the 1935
Constitution's enumeration is silent as to foundlings, there is no restrictive language
which would definitely exclude foundlings either. Because of silence and ambiguity in
the enumeration with respect to foundlings, there is a need to examine the intent of the
framers. In Nitafan v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue,114 this Court held that:

The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the fundamental principle
of constitutional construction that the intent of the framers of the organic law
and of the people adopting it should be given effect. The primary task in
constitutional construction is to ascertain and thereafter assure the realization of
the purpose of the framers and of the people in the adoption of the Constitution.
It may also be safely assumed that the people in ratifying the Constitution were
guided mainly by the explanation offered by the framers.115
As pointed out by petitioner as well as the Solicitor General, the deliberations of the
1934 Constitutional Convention show that the framers intended foundlings to be
covered by the enumeration. The following exchange is recorded:

Sr. Rafols: For an amendment. I propose that after subsection 2, the following is
inserted: "The natural children of a foreign father and a Filipino mother not recognized
by the father.

xxxx

President:
[We] would like to request a clarification from the proponent of the amendment. The
gentleman refers to natural children or to any kind of illegitimate children?

Sr. Rafols:
To all kinds of illegitimate children. It also includes natural children of unknown
parentage, natural or illegitimate children of unknown parents.

Sr. Montinola:
For clarification. The gentleman said "of unknown parents." Current codes consider
them Filipino, that is, I refer to the Spanish Code wherein all children of unknown
parentage born in Spanish territory are considered Spaniards, because the presumption
is that a child of unknown parentage is the son of a Spaniard. This may be applied in the
Philippines in that a child of unknown parentage born in the Philippines is deemed to be
Filipino, and there is no need ...

Sr. Rafols:
There is a need, because we are relating the conditions that are [required] to be Filipino.

Sr. Montinola:
But that is the interpretation of the law, therefore, there is no [more] need for
amendment.

Sr. Rafols:
The amendment should read thus:
"Natural or illegitimate of a foreign father and a Filipino mother recognized by one, or
the children of unknown parentage."

Sr. Briones:
The amendment [should] mean children born in the Philippines of unknown parentage.

Sr. Rafols:
The son of a Filipina to a Foreigner, although this [person] does not recognize the child,
is not unknown.

President:
Does the gentleman accept the amendment or not?
Sr. Rafols:
I do not accept the amendment because the amendment would exclude the children of a
Filipina with a foreigner who does not recognize the child. Their parentage is not
unknown and I think those of overseas Filipino mother and father [whom the latter]
does not recognize, should also be considered as Filipinos.

President:
The question in order is the amendment to the amendment from the Gentleman from
Cebu, Mr. Briones.

Sr. Busion:
Mr. President, don't you think it would be better to leave this matter in the hands of the
Legislature?

Sr. Roxas:
Mr. President, my humble opinion is that these cases are few and far in between, that
the constitution need [not] refer to them. By international law the principle that
children or people born in a country of unknown parents are citizens in this nation is
recognized, and it is not necessary to include a provision on the subject exhaustively.116

Though the Rafols amendment was not carried out, it was not because there was any
objection to the notion that persons of "unknown parentage" are not citizens but only
because their number was not enough to merit specific mention. Such was the
account,117 cited by petitioner, of delegate and constitution law author Jose Aruego who
said:

During the debates on this provision, Delegate Rafols presented an amendment


to include as Filipino citizens the illegitimate children with a foreign father of a
mother who was a citizen of the Philippines, and also foundlings; but this
amendment was defeated primarily because the Convention believed that the
cases, being too few to warrant the inclusion of a provision in the Constitution to
apply to them, should be governed by statutory legislation. Moreover, it was
believed that the rules of international law were already clear to the effect that
illegitimate children followed the citizenship of the mother, and that foundlings
followed the nationality of the place where they were found, thereby making
unnecessary the inclusion in the Constitution of the proposed amendment.

This explanation was likewise the position of the Solicitor General during the 16
February 2016 Oral Arguments:

We all know that the Rafols proposal was rejected. But note that what was declined was
the proposal for a textual and explicit recognition of foundlings as Filipinos. And so, the
way to explain the constitutional silence is by saying that it was the view of Montinola
and Roxas which prevailed that there is no more need to expressly declare foundlings as
Filipinos.
Obviously, it doesn't matter whether Montinola's or Roxas' views were legally correct.
Framers of a constitution can constitutionalize rules based on assumptions that are
imperfect or even wrong. They can even overturn existing rules. This is basic. What
matters here is that Montinola and Roxas were able to convince their colleagues in the
convention that there is no more need to expressly declare foundlings as Filipinos
because they are already impliedly so recognized.

In other words, the constitutional silence is fully explained in terms of linguistic


efficiency and the avoidance of redundancy. The policy is clear: it is to recognize
foundlings, as a class, as Filipinos under Art. IV, Section 1 (3) of the 1935 Constitution.
This inclusive policy is carried over into the 1973 and 1987 Constitution. It is
appropriate to invoke a famous scholar as he was paraphrased by Chief Justice
Fernando: the constitution is not silently silent, it is silently vocal. 118

The Solicitor General makes the further point that the framers "worked to create a just
and humane society," that "they were reasonable patriots and that it would be unfair to
impute upon them a discriminatory intent against foundlings." He exhorts that, given
the grave implications of the argument that foundlings are not natural-born Filipinos,
the Court must search the records of the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions "for an
express intention to deny foundlings the status of Filipinos. The burden is on those who
wish to use the constitution to discriminate against foundlings to show that the
constitution really intended to take this path to the dark side and inflict this across the
board marginalization."

We find no such intent or language permitting discrimination against foundlings. On the


contrary, all three Constitutions guarantee the basic right to equal protection of the
laws. All exhort the State to render social justice. Of special consideration are several
provisions in the present charter: Article II, Section 11 which provides that the "State
values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights,"
Article XIII, Section 1 which mandates Congress to "give highest priority to the
enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human
dignity, reduce social, economic, and political inequalities x x x" and Article XV, Section
3 which requires the State to defend the "right of children to assistance, including
proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse,
cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development." Certainly,
these provisions contradict an intent to discriminate against foundlings on account of
their unfortunate status.

Domestic laws on adoption also support the principle that foundlings are Filipinos.
These laws do not provide that adoption confers citizenship upon the adoptee. Rather,
the adoptee must be a Filipino in the first place to be adopted. The most basic of such
laws is Article 15 of the Civil Code which provides that "[l]aws relating to family rights,
duties, status, conditions, legal capacity of persons are binding on citizens of the
Philippines even though living abroad." Adoption deals with status, and a Philippine
adoption court will have jurisdiction only if the adoptee is a Filipino. In Ellis and Ellis v.
Republic,119 a child left by an unidentified mother was sought to be adopted by aliens.
This Court said:
In this connection, it should be noted that this is a proceedings in rem, which no court
may entertain unless it has jurisdiction, not only over the subject matter of the case and
over the parties, but also over the res, which is the personal status of Baby Rose as well
as that of petitioners herein. Our Civil Code (Art. 15) adheres to the theory that
jurisdiction over the status of a natural person is determined by the latter's nationality.
Pursuant to this theory, we have jurisdiction over the status of Baby Rose, she being a
citizen of the Philippines, but not over the status of the petitioners, who are
foreigners.120 (Underlining supplied)

Recent legislation is more direct. R.A. No. 8043 entitled "An Act Establishing the Rules
to Govern the Inter-Country Adoption of Filipino Children and For Other Purposes"
(otherwise known as the "Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995"), R.A. No. 8552, entitled
"An Act Establishing the Rules and Policies on the Adoption of Filipino Children and
For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998) and this
Court's A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC or the "Rule on Adoption," all expressly refer to "Filipino
children" and include foundlings as among Filipino children who may be adopted.

It has been argued that the process to determine that the child is a foundling leading to
the issuance of a foundling certificate under these laws and the issuance of said
certificate are acts to acquire or perfect Philippine citizenship which make the foundling
a naturalized Filipino at best. This is erroneous. Under Article IV, Section 2 "Natural-
born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to
perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship." In the first place,
"having to perform an act" means that the act must be personally done by the citizen. In
this instance, the determination of foundling status is done not by the child but by the
authorities.121 Secondly, the object of the process is the determination of the
whereabouts of the parents, not the citizenship of the child. Lastly, the process is
certainly not analogous to naturalization proceedings to acquire Philippine citizenship,
or the election of such citizenship by one born of an alien father and a Filipino mother
under the 1935 Constitution, which is an act to perfect it.

In this instance, such issue is moot because there is no dispute that petitioner is a
foundling, as evidenced by a Foundling Certificate issued in her favor.122 The Decree of
Adoption issued on 13 May 1974, which approved petitioner's adoption by Jesusa
Sonora Poe and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, expressly refers to Emiliano and his wife,
Rosario Militar, as her "foundling parents," hence effectively affirming petitioner's
status as a foundling.123

Foundlings are likewise citizens under international law. Under the 1987 Constitution,
an international law can become part of the sphere of domestic law either by
transformation or incorporation. The transformation method requires that an
international law be transformed into a domestic law through a constitutional
mechanism such as local legislation.124 On the other hand, generally accepted principles
of international law, by virtue of the incorporation clause of the Constitution, form part
of the laws of the land even if they do not derive from treaty obligations. Generally
accepted principles of international law include international custom as evidence of a
general practice accepted as law, and general principles of law recognized by civilized
nations.125 International customary rules are accepted as binding as a result from the
combination of two elements: the established, widespread, and consistent practice on
the part of States; and a psychological element known as the opinionjuris sive
necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). Implicit in the latter element is a belief that
the practice in question is rendered obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring
it.126 "General principles of law recognized by civilized nations" are principles
"established by a process of reasoning" or judicial logic, based on principles which are
"basic to legal systems generally,"127 such as "general principles of equity, i.e., the
general principles of fairness and justice," and the "general principle against
discrimination" which is embodied in the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention
Against Discrimination in Education, the Convention (No. 111) Concerning
Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation."128 These are the same core
principles which underlie the Philippine Constitution itself, as embodied in the due
process and equal protection clauses of the Bill of Rights.129

Universal Declaration of Human Rights ("UDHR") has been interpreted by this Court as
part of the generally accepted principles of international law and binding on the
State.130 Article 15 thereof states:

1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to
change his nationality.

The Philippines has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
(UNCRC). Article 7 of the UNCRC imposes the following obligations on our country:

Article 7

1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from
birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to
know and be cared for by his or her parents.

2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their
national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this
field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.

In 1986, the country also ratified the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR). Article 24 thereof provide for the right of every child "to acquire a
nationality:"

Article 24

1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language,
religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right, to such measures of
protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and
the State.

2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.

3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.

The common thread of the UDHR, UNCRC and ICCPR is to obligate the Philippines to
grant nationality from birth and ensure that no child is stateless. This grant of
nationality must be at the time of birth, and it cannot be accomplished by the
application of our present naturalization laws, Commonwealth Act No. 473, as
amended, and R.A. No. 9139, both of which require the applicant to be at least eighteen
(18) years old.

The principles found in two conventions, while yet unratified by the Philippines, are
generally accepted principles of international law. The first is Article 14 of the 1930
Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws
under which a foundling is presumed to have the "nationality of the country of birth," to
wit:

Article 14

A child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of the country of
birth. If the child's parentage is established, its nationality shall be determined by the
rules applicable in cases where the parentage is known.

A foundling is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have been born on the territory
of the State in which it was found. (Underlining supplied)

The second is the principle that a foundling is presumed born of citizens of the country
where he is found, contained in Article 2 of the 1961 United Nations Convention on the
Reduction of Statelessness:

Article 2

A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to
the contrary, be considered to have been born within the territory of parents possessing
the nationality of that State.

That the Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention nor to the 1961
Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness does not mean that their principles are
not binding. While the Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention, it is a
signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 15(1)
ofwhich131effectively affirms Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention. Article 2 of the
1961 "United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness" merely "gives
effect" to Article 15(1) of the UDHR.132 In Razon v. Tagitis, 133 this Court noted that the
Philippines had not signed or ratified the "International Convention for the Protection
of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance." Yet, we ruled that the proscription against
enforced disappearances in the said convention was nonetheless binding as a "generally
accepted principle of international law." Razon v. Tagitis is likewise notable for
declaring the ban as a generally accepted principle of international law although the
convention had been ratified by only sixteen states and had not even come into force
and which needed the ratification of a minimum of twenty states. Additionally, as
petitioner points out, the Court was content with the practice of international and
regional state organs, regional state practice in Latin America, and State Practice in the
United States.

Another case where the number of ratifying countries was not determinative is Mijares
v. Ranada, 134 where only four countries had "either ratified or acceded to"135 the 1966
"Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and
Commercial Matters" when the case was decided in 2005. The Court also pointed out
that that nine member countries of the European Common Market had acceded to the
Judgments Convention. The Court also cited U.S. laws and jurisprudence on recognition
of foreign judgments. In all, only the practices of fourteen countries were considered
and yet, there was pronouncement that recognition of foreign judgments was
widespread practice.

Our approach in Razon and Mijares effectively takes into account the fact that
"generally accepted principles of international law" are based not only on international
custom, but also on "general principles of law recognized by civilized nations," as the
phrase is understood in Article 38.1 paragraph (c) of the ICJ Statute. Justice, fairness,
equity and the policy against discrimination, which are fundamental principles
underlying the Bill of Rights and which are "basic to legal systems generally,"136 support
the notion that the right against enforced disappearances and the recognition of foreign
judgments, were correctly considered as "generally accepted principles of international
law" under the incorporation clause.

Petitioner's evidence137 shows that at least sixty countries in Asia, North and South
America, and Europe have passed legislation recognizing foundlings as its citizen. Forty-
two (42) of those countries follow the jus sanguinis regime. Of the sixty, only thirty-
three (33) are parties to the 1961 Convention on Statelessness; twenty-six (26) are not
signatories to the Convention. Also, the Chief Justice, at the 2 February 2016 Oral
Arguments pointed out that in 166 out of 189 countries surveyed (or 87.83%),
foundlings are recognized as citizens. These circumstances, including the practice of jus
sanguinis countries, show that it is a generally accepted principle of international law to
presume foundlings as having been born of nationals of the country in which the
foundling is found.

Current legislation reveals the adherence of the Philippines to this generally accepted
principle of international law. In particular, R.A. No. 8552, R.A. No. 8042 and this
Court's Rules on Adoption, expressly refer to "Filipino children." In all of them,
foundlings are among the Filipino children who could be adopted. Likewise, it has been
pointed that the DFA issues passports to foundlings. Passports are by law, issued only to
citizens. This shows that even the executive department, acting through the DFA,
considers foundlings as Philippine citizens.

Adopting these legal principles from the 1930 Hague Convention and the 1961
Convention on Statelessness is rational and reasonable and consistent with the jus
sanguinis regime in our Constitution. The presumption of natural-born citizenship of
foundlings stems from the presumption that their parents are nationals of the
Philippines. As the empirical data provided by the PSA show, that presumption is at
more than 99% and is a virtual certainty.

In sum, all of the international law conventions and instruments on the matter of
nationality of foundlings were designed to address the plight of a defenseless class which
suffers from a misfortune not of their own making. We cannot be restrictive as to their
application if we are a country which calls itself civilized and a member of the
community of nations. The Solicitor General's warning in his opening statement is
relevant:

.... the total effect of those documents is to signify to this Honorable Court that those
treaties and conventions were drafted because the world community is concerned that
the situation of foundlings renders them legally invisible. It would be tragically ironic if
this Honorable Court ended up using the international instruments which seek to
protect and uplift foundlings a tool to deny them political status or to accord them
second-class citizenship.138

The COMELEC also ruled139 that petitioner's repatriation in July 2006 under the
provisions of R.A. No. 9225 did not result in the reacquisition of natural-born
citizenship. The COMELEC reasoned that since the applicant must perform an act, what
is reacquired is not "natural-born" citizenship but only plain "Philippine citizenship."

The COMELEC's rule arrogantly disregards consistent jurisprudence on the matter of


repatriation statutes in general and of R.A. No. 9225 in particular.

In the seminal case of Bengson Ill v. HRET, 140 repatriation was explained as follows:

Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality. This means
that a naturalized Filipino who lost his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a
naturalized Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born
citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his former status
as a natural-born Filipino.

R.A. No. 9225 is a repatriation statute and has been described as such in several cases.
They include Sobejana-Condon v. COMELEC141 where we described it as an
"abbreviated repatriation process that restores one's Filipino citizenship x x x." Also
included is Parreno v. Commission on Audit,142 which cited Tabasa v. Court of
Appeals,143where we said that "[t]he repatriation of the former Filipino will allow him to
recover his natural-born citizenship. Parreno v. Commission on Audit144 is categorical
that "if petitioner reacquires his Filipino citizenship (under R.A. No. 9225), he will
... recover his natural-born citizenship."

The COMELEC construed the phrase "from birth" in the definition of natural citizens as
implying "that natural-born citizenship must begin at birth and remain uninterrupted
and continuous from birth." R.A. No. 9225 was obviously passed in line with Congress'
sole prerogative to determine how citizenship may be lost or reacquired. Congress saw it
fit to decree that natural-born citizenship may be reacquired even if it had been once
lost. It is not for the COMELEC to disagree with the Congress' determination.

More importantly, COMELEC's position that natural-born status must be continuous


was already rejected in Bengson III v. HRET145 where the phrase "from birth" was
clarified to mean at the time of birth: "A person who at the time of his birth, is a citizen
of a particular country, is a natural-born citizen thereof." Neither is "repatriation" an act
to "acquire or perfect" one's citizenship. In Bengson III v. HRET, this Court pointed out
that there are only two types of citizens under the 1987 Constitution: natural-born
citizen and naturalized, and that there is no third category for repatriated citizens:

It is apparent from the enumeration of who are citizens under the present Constitution
that there are only two classes of citizens: (1) those who are natural-born and (2) those
who are naturalized in accordance with law. A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino,
ie., did not have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain Philippine
citizenship, necessarily is a natural-born Filipino. Noteworthy is the absence in said
enumeration of a separate category for persons who, after losing Philippine citizenship,
subsequently reacquire it. The reason therefor is clear: as to such persons, they would
either be natural-born or naturalized depending on the reasons for the loss of their
citizenship and the mode prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition thereof.
As respondent Cruz was not required by law to go through naturalization proceedings in
order to reacquire his citizenship, he is perforce a natural-born Filipino. As such, he
possessed all the necessary qualifications to be elected as member of the House of
Representatives.146

The COMELEC cannot reverse a judicial precedent. That is reserved to this Court. And
while we may always revisit a doctrine, a new rule reversing standing doctrine cannot be
retroactively applied. In Morales v. Court of Appeals and Jejomar Erwin S. Binay,
Jr.,147 where we decreed reversed the condonation doctrine, we cautioned that it "should
be prospective in application for the reason that judicial decisions applying or
interpreting the laws of the Constitution, until reversed, shall form part of the legal
system of the Philippines." This Court also said that "while the future may ultimately
uncover a doctrine's error, it should be, as a general rule, recognized as good law prior to
its abandonment. Consequently, the people's reliance thereupon should be
respected."148

Lastly, it was repeatedly pointed out during the oral arguments that petitioner
committed a falsehood when she put in the spaces for "born to" in her application for
repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 the names of her adoptive parents, and this misled the
BI to presume that she was a natural-born Filipino. It has been contended that the data
required were the names of her biological parents which are precisely unknown.

This position disregards one important fact - petitioner was legally adopted. One of the
effects of adoption is "to sever all legal ties between the biological parents and the
adoptee, except when the biological parent is the spouse of the adoptee."149 Under R.A.
No. 8552, petitioner was also entitled to an amended birth certificate "attesting to the
fact that the adoptee is the child of the adopter(s)" and which certificate "shall not bear
any notation that it is an amended issue."150 That law also requires that "[a]ll records,
books, and papers relating to the adoption cases in the files of the court, the Department
[of Social Welfare and Development], or any other agency or institution participating in
the adoption proceedings shall be kept strictly confidential."151 The law therefore allows
petitioner to state that her adoptive parents were her birth parents as that was what
would be stated in her birth certificate anyway. And given the policy of strict
confidentiality of adoption records, petitioner was not obligated to disclose that she was
an adoptee.

Clearly, to avoid a direct ruling on the qualifications of petitioner, which it cannot make
in the same case for cancellation of COC, it resorted to opinionatedness which is,
moreover, erroneous. The whole process undertaken by COMELEC is wrapped in grave
abuse of discretion.

On Residence

The tainted process was repeated in disposing of the issue of whether or not petitioner
committed false material representation when she stated in her COC that she has before
and until 9 May 2016 been a resident of the Philippines for ten (10) years and eleven (11)
months.

Petitioner's claim that she will have been a resident for ten (10) years and eleven (11)
months on the day before the 2016 elections, is true.

The Constitution requires presidential candidates to have ten (10) years' residence in the
Philippines before the day of the elections. Since the forthcoming elections will be held
on 9 May 2016, petitioner must have been a resident of the Philippines prior to 9 May
2016 for ten (10) years. In answer to the requested information of "Period of Residence
in the Philippines up to the day before May 09, 2016," she put in "10 years 11 months"
which according to her pleadings in these cases corresponds to a beginning date of 25
May 2005 when she returned for good from the U.S.

When petitioner immigrated to the U.S. in 1991, she lost her original domicile, which is
the Philippines. There are three requisites to acquire a new domicile: 1. Residence or
bodily presence in a new locality; 2. an intention to remain there; and 3. an intention to
abandon the old domicile.152 To successfully effect a change of domicile, one must
demonstrate an actual removal or an actual change of domicile; a bona fide intention of
abandoning the former place of residence and establishing a new one and definite acts
which correspond with the purpose. In other words, there must basically be animus
manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. The purpose to remain in or at the
domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must
be voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be
actual.153

Petitioner presented voluminous evidence showing that she and her family abandoned
their U.S. domicile and relocated to the Philippines for good. These evidence include
petitioner's former U.S. passport showing her arrival on 24 May 2005 and her return to
the Philippines every time she travelled abroad; e-mail correspondences starting in
March 2005 to September 2006 with a freight company to arrange for the shipment of
their household items weighing about 28,000 pounds to the Philippines; e-mail with the
Philippine Bureau of Animal Industry inquiring how to ship their dog to the Philippines;
school records of her children showing enrollment in Philippine schools starting June
2005 and for succeeding years; tax identification card for petitioner issued on July
2005; titles for condominium and parking slot issued in February 2006 and their
corresponding tax declarations issued in April 2006; receipts dated 23 February 2005
from the Salvation Army in the U.S. acknowledging donation of items from petitioner's
family; March 2006 e-mail to the U.S. Postal Service confirming request for change of
address; final statement from the First American Title Insurance Company showing sale
of their U.S. home on 27 April 2006; 12 July 2011 filled-up questionnaire submitted to
the U.S. Embassy where petitioner indicated that she had been a Philippine resident
since May 2005; affidavit from Jesusa Sonora Poe (attesting to the return of petitioner
on 24 May 2005 and that she and her family stayed with affiant until the condominium
was purchased); and Affidavit from petitioner's husband (confirming that the spouses
jointly decided to relocate to the Philippines in 2005 and that he stayed behind in the
U.S. only to finish some work and to sell the family home).

The foregoing evidence were undisputed and the facts were even listed by the
COMELEC, particularly in its Resolution in the Tatad, Contreras and Valdez cases.

However, the COMELEC refused to consider that petitioner's domicile had been timely
changed as of 24 May 2005. At the oral arguments, COMELEC Commissioner Arthur
Lim conceded the presence of the first two requisites, namely, physical presence
and animus manendi, but maintained there was no animus non-revertendi.154 The
COMELEC disregarded the import of all the evidence presented by petitioner on the
basis of the position that the earliest date that petitioner could have started residence in
the Philippines was in July 2006 when her application under R.A. No. 9225 was
approved by the BI. In this regard, COMELEC relied on Coquilla v.
COMELEC,155 Japzon v. COMELEC156 and Caballero v. COMELEC. 157 During the oral
arguments, the private respondents also added Reyes v. COMELEC.158 Respondents
contend that these cases decree that the stay of an alien former Filipino cannot be
counted until he/she obtains a permanent resident visa or reacquires Philippine
citizenship, a visa-free entry under a balikbayan stamp being insufficient. Since
petitioner was still an American (without any resident visa) until her reacquisition of
citizenship under R.A. No. 9225, her stay from 24 May 2005 to 7 July 2006 cannot be
counted.
But as the petitioner pointed out, the facts in these four cases are very different from her
situation. In Coquilla v. COMELEC,159 the only evidence presented was a community tax
certificate secured by the candidate and his declaration that he would be running in the
elections. Japzon v. COMELEC160 did not involve a candidate who wanted to count
residence prior to his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. With the Court decreeing
that residence is distinct from citizenship, the issue there was whether the candidate's
acts after reacquisition sufficed to establish residence. In Caballero v. COMELEC, 161 the
candidate admitted that his place of work was abroad and that he only visited during his
frequent vacations. In Reyes v. COMELEC,162 the candidate was found to be an
American citizen who had not even reacquired Philippine citizenship under R.A. No.
9225 or had renounced her U.S. citizenship. She was disqualified on the citizenship
issue. On residence, the only proof she offered was a seven-month stint as provincial
officer. The COMELEC, quoted with approval by this Court, said that "such fact alone is
not sufficient to prove her one-year residency."

It is obvious that because of the sparse evidence on residence in the four cases cited by
the respondents, the Court had no choice but to hold that residence could be counted
only from acquisition of a permanent resident visa or from reacquisition of Philippine
citizenship. In contrast, the evidence of petitioner is overwhelming and taken together
leads to no other conclusion that she decided to permanently abandon her U.S.
residence (selling the house, taking the children from U.S. schools, getting quotes from
the freight company, notifying the U.S. Post Office of the abandonment of their address
in the U.S., donating excess items to the Salvation Army, her husband resigning from
U.S. employment right after selling the U.S. house) and permanently relocate to the
Philippines and actually re-established her residence here on 24 May 2005 (securing
T.I.N, enrolling her children in Philippine schools, buying property here, constructing a
residence here, returning to the Philippines after all trips abroad, her husband getting
employed here). Indeed, coupled with her eventual application to reacquire Philippine
citizenship and her family's actual continuous stay in the Philippines over the years, it is
clear that when petitioner returned on 24 May 2005 it was for good.

In this connection, the COMELEC also took it against petitioner that she had entered
the Philippines visa-free as a balikbayan. A closer look at R.A. No. 6768 as amended,
otherwise known as the "An Act Instituting a Balikbayan Program," shows that there is
no overriding intent to treat balikbayans as temporary visitors who must leave after one
year. Included in the law is a former Filipino who has been naturalized abroad and
"comes or returns to the Philippines." 163 The law institutes a balikbayan program
"providing the opportunity to avail of the necessary training to enable the balikbayan to
become economically self-reliant members of society upon their return to the
country"164in line with the government's "reintegration
program."165 Obviously, balikbayans are not ordinary transients.

Given the law's express policy to facilitate the return of a balikbayan and help him
reintegrate into society, it would be an unduly harsh conclusion to say in absolute terms
that the balikbayan must leave after one year. That visa-free period is obviously granted
him to allow him to re-establish his life and reintegrate himself into the community
before he attends to the necessary formal and legal requirements of repatriation. And
that is exactly what petitioner did - she reestablished life here by enrolling her children
and buying property while awaiting the return of her husband and then applying for
repatriation shortly thereafter.

No case similar to petitioner's, where the former Filipino's evidence of change in


domicile is extensive and overwhelming, has as yet been decided by the Court.
Petitioner's evidence of residence is unprecedented. There is no judicial precedent that
comes close to the facts of residence of petitioner. There is no indication in Coquilla v.
COMELEC,166 and the other cases cited by the respondents that the Court intended to
have its rulings there apply to a situation where the facts are different. Surely, the issue
of residence has been decided particularly on the facts-of-the case basis.

To avoid the logical conclusion pointed out by the evidence of residence of petitioner,
the COMELEC ruled that petitioner's claim of residence of ten (10) years and eleven (11)
months by 9 May 2016 in her 2015 COC was false because she put six ( 6) years and six (
6) months as "period of residence before May 13, 2013" in her 2012 COC for Senator.
Thus, according to the COMELEC, she started being a Philippine resident only in
November 2006. In doing so, the COMELEC automatically assumed as true the
statement in the 2012 COC and the 2015 COC as false.

As explained by petitioner in her verified pleadings, she misunderstood the date


required in the 2013 COC as the period of residence as of the day she submitted that
COC in 2012. She said that she reckoned residency from April-May 2006 which was the
period when the U.S. house was sold and her husband returned to the Philippines. In
that regard, she was advised by her lawyers in 2015 that residence could be counted
from 25 May 2005.

Petitioner's explanation that she misunderstood the query in 2012 (period of residence
before 13 May 2013) as inquiring about residence as of the time she submitted the COC,
is bolstered by the change which the COMELEC itself introduced in the 2015 COC which
is now "period of residence in the Philippines up to the day before May 09, 2016." The
COMELEC would not have revised the query if it did not acknowledge that the first
version was vague.

That petitioner could have reckoned residence from a date earlier than the sale of her
U.S. house and the return of her husband is plausible given the evidence that she had
returned a year before. Such evidence, to repeat, would include her passport and the
school records of her children.

It was grave abuse of discretion for the COMELEC to treat the 2012 COC as a binding
and conclusive admission against petitioner. It could be given in evidence against her,
yes, but it was by no means conclusive. There is precedent after all where a candidate's
mistake as to period of residence made in a COC was overcome by
evidence. In Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC,167 the candidate mistakenly put seven
(7) months as her period of residence where the required period was a minimum of one
year. We said that "[i]t is the fact of residence, not a statement in a certificate of
candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has
satisfied the constitutions residency qualification requirement." The COMELEC ought
to have looked at the evidence presented and see if petitioner was telling the truth that
she was in the Philippines from 24 May 2005. Had the COMELEC done its duty, it
would have seen that the 2012 COC and the 2015 COC both correctly stated
the pertinent period of residency.

The COMELEC, by its own admission, disregarded the evidence that petitioner actually
and physically returned here on 24 May 2005 not because it was false, but only because
COMELEC took the position that domicile could be established only from petitioner's
repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 in July 2006. However, it does not take away the fact
that in reality, petitioner had returned from the U.S. and was here to stay permanently,
on 24 May 2005. When she claimed to have been a resident for ten (10) years and eleven
(11) months, she could do so in good faith.

For another, it could not be said that petitioner was attempting to hide anything. As
already stated, a petition for quo warranto had been filed against her with the SET as
early as August 2015. The event from which the COMELEC pegged the commencement
of residence, petitioner's repatriation in July 2006 under R.A. No. 9225, was an
established fact to repeat, for purposes of her senatorial candidacy.

Notably, on the statement of residence of six (6) years and six (6) months in the 2012
COC, petitioner recounted that this was first brought up in the media on 2 June 2015 by
Rep. Tobias Tiangco of the United Nationalist Alliance. Petitioner appears to have
answered the issue immediately, also in the press. Respondents have not disputed
petitioner's evidence on this point. From that time therefore when Rep. Tiangco
discussed it in the media, the stated period of residence in the 2012 COC and the
circumstances that surrounded the statement were already matters of public record and
were not hidden.

Petitioner likewise proved that the 2012 COC was also brought up in the SET petition
for quo warranto. Her Verified Answer, which was filed on 1 September 2015, admitted
that she made a mistake in the 2012 COC when she put in six ( 6) years and six ( 6)
months as she misunderstood the question and could have truthfully indicated a longer
period. Her answer in the SET case was a matter of public record. Therefore, when
petitioner accomplished her COC for President on 15 October 2015, she could not be
said to have been attempting to hide her erroneous statement in her 2012 COC for
Senator which was expressly mentioned in her Verified Answer.

The facts now, if not stretched to distortion, do not show or even hint at an intention to
hide the 2012 statement and have it covered by the 2015 representation. Petitioner,
moreover, has on her side this Court's pronouncement that:

Concededly, a candidate's disqualification to run for public office does not necessarily
constitute material misrepresentation which is the sole ground for denying due course
to, and for the cancellation of, a COC. Further, as already discussed, the candidate's
misrepresentation in his COC must not only refer to a material fact (eligibility and
qualifications for elective office), but should evince a deliberate intent to mislead,
misinform or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. It must be
made with an intention to deceive the electorate as to one's qualifications to run for
public office.168

In sum, the COMELEC, with the same posture of infallibilism, virtually ignored a good
number of evidenced dates all of which can evince animus manendi to the Philippines
and animus non revertedi to the United States of America. The veracity of the events of
coming and staying home was as much as dismissed as inconsequential, the focus
having been fixed at the petitioner's "sworn declaration in her COC for Senator" which
the COMELEC said "amounts to a declaration and therefore an admission that her
residence in the Philippines only commence sometime in November 2006"; such that
"based on this declaration, [petitioner] fails to meet the residency requirement for
President." This conclusion, as already shown, ignores the standing jurisprudence that it
is the fact of residence, not the statement of the person that determines residence for
purposes of compliance with the constitutional requirement of residency for election as
President. It ignores the easily researched matter that cases on questions of residency
have been decided favorably for the candidate on the basis of facts of residence far less
in number, weight and substance than that presented by petitioner.169 It ignores, above
all else, what we consider as a primary reason why petitioner cannot be bound by her
declaration in her COC for Senator which declaration was not even considered by the
SET as an issue against her eligibility for Senator. When petitioner made the declaration
in her COC for Senator that she has been a resident for a period of six (6) years and six
(6) months counted up to the 13 May 2013 Elections, she naturally had as reference the
residency requirements for election as Senator which was satisfied by her declared years
of residence. It was uncontested during the oral arguments before us that at the time the
declaration for Senator was made, petitioner did not have as yet any intention to vie for
the Presidency in 2016 and that the general public was never made aware by petitioner,
by word or action, that she would run for President in 2016. Presidential candidacy has
a length-of-residence different from that of a senatorial candidacy. There are facts of
residence other than that which was mentioned in the COC for Senator. Such other facts
of residence have never been proven to be false, and these, to repeat include:

[Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on 24 May 2005. (petitioner's] husband


however stayed in the USA to finish pending projects and arrange the sale of their family
home.

Meanwhile [petitioner] and her children lived with her mother in San Juan City.
[Petitioner] enrolled Brian in Beacon School in Taguig City in 2005 and Hanna in
Assumption College in Makati City in 2005. Anika was enrolled in Learning Connection
in San Juan in 2007, when she was already old enough to go to school.

In the second half of 2005, [petitioner] and her husband acquired Unit 7F of One
Wilson Place Condominium in San Juan. [Petitioner] and her family lived in Unit 7F
until the construction of their family home in Corinthian Hills was completed.

Sometime in the second half of 2005, [petitioner's] mother discovered that her former
lawyer who handled [petitioner's] adoption in 1974 failed to secure from the Office of
the Civil Registrar of Iloilo a new Certificate of Live Birth indicating [petitioner's] new
name and stating that her parents are "Ronald Allan K. Poe" and "Jesusa L. Sonora."

In February 2006, [petitioner] travelled briefly to the US in order to supervise the


disposal of some of the family's remaining household belongings.1a\^/phi1 [Petitioner]
returned to the Philippines on 11 March 2006.

In late March 2006, [petitioner's] husband informed the United States Postal Service of
the family's abandonment of their address in the US.

The family home in the US was sole on 27 April 2006.

In April 2006, [petitioner's] husband resigned from his work in the US. He returned to
the Philippines on 4 May 2006 and began working for a Philippine company in July
2006.

In early 2006, [petitioner] and her husband acquired a vacant lot in Corinthian Hills,
where they eventually built their family home.170

In light of all these, it was arbitrary for the COMELEC to satisfy its intention to let the
case fall under the exclusive ground of false representation, to consider no other date
than that mentioned by petitioner in her COC for Senator.

All put together, in the matter of the citizenship and residence of petitioner for her
candidacy as President of the Republic, the questioned Resolutions of the COMELEC in
Division and En Banc are, one and all, deadly diseased with grave abuse of discretion
from root to fruits.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions, to wit:

1. dated 1 December 2015 rendered through the COMELEC Second Division, in SPA No.
15-001 (DC), entitled Estrella C. Elamparo, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad
Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent, stating that:

[T]he Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the
May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections filed by respondent Mary Grace Natividad
Sonora Poe-Llamanzares is hereby GRANTED.

2. dated 11 December 2015, rendered through the COMELEC First Division, in the
consolidated cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC) entitled Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs.
Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC)
entitled Antonio P. Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-
Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) entitled Amado D. Valdez,
petitioner, v. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; stating
that:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby
RESOLVES, to GRANT the petitions and cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of MARY
GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES for the elective position of
President of the Republic of the Philippines in connection with the 9 May 2016
Synchronized Local and National Elections.

3. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, upholding the 1 December 2015
Resolution of the Second Division stating that:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby


RESOLVES, to DENY the Verified Motion for Reconsideration of SENATOR MARY
GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES. The Resolution dated 11
December 2015 of the Commission First Division is AFFIRMED.

4. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, upholding the 11 December 2015
Resolution of the First Division.

are hereby ANNULED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD
SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES is DECLARED QUALIFIED to be a candidate for
President in the National and Local Elections of 9 May 2016.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

G.R. No. 221538, September 20, 2016

RIZALITO Y. DAVID, Petitioner, v. SENATE ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL AND


MARY GRACE POE-LLAMANZARES, Respondents.

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

The words of our most fundamental law cannot be read so as to callously exclude all
foundlings from public service.

When the names of the parents of a foundling cannot be discovered despite a diligent
search, but sufficient evidence is presented to sustain a reasonable inference that
satisfies the quantum of proof required to conclude that at least one or both of his or her
parents is Filipino, then this should be sufficient to establish that he or she is a natural-
born citizen. When these inferences are made by the Senate Electoral Tribunal in the
exercise of its sole and exclusive prerogative to decide the qualifications of the members
of the Senate, then there is no grave abuse of discretion remediable by either Rule 65 of
the Rules of Court or Article VIII, Section I of the Constitution.

This case certainly does not decide with finality the citizenship of every single foundling
as natural-born. The circumstances of each case are unique, and substantial proof may
exist to show that a foundling is not natural-born. The nature of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal and its place in the scheme of political powers, as devised by the Constitution,
are likewise different from the other ways to raise questions of citizenship.

Before this Court is a Petition for Certiorari1 filed by petitioner Rizalito Y. David (David).
He prays for the nullification of the assailed November 17, 2015 Decision and December
3, 2015 Resolution of public respondent Senate Electoral Tribunal in SET Case No. 001-
15.2 The assailed November 17, 2015 Decision3 dismissed the Petition for Quo Warranto
filed by David, which sought to unseat private respondent Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares
as a Senator for allegedly not being a natural-born citizen of the Philippines and,
therefore, not being qualified to hold such office under Article VI, Section 34 of the 1987
Constitution. The assailed December 3, 2015 Resolution5 denied David's Motion for
Reconsideration.

Senator Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares (Senator Poe) is a foundling whose biological


parents are unknown. As an infant, she was abandoned at the Parish Church of Jaro,
Iloilo.6 Edgardo Militar found her outside the church on September 3, 1968 at about
9:30 a.m.7 He later turned her over to Mr. and Mrs. Emiliano Militar.8 Emiliano Militar
reported to the Office of the Local Civil Registrar that the infant was found on
September 6, 1968.9 She was given the name Mary Grace Natividad Contreras
Militar.10 Local Civil Registrar issued a Certificate of Live Birth/Foundling Certificate
stating:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Circumstances: THE SUBJECT CHILD WAS FOUND IN THE PARISH CHURCHD [sic]
OF JARO, ON SEPTEMBER 3, 1968 AT ABOUT 9:30 A.M. BY EDGARDO MILITAR
AND THE SAID CHILD IS PRESENTLY IN THE CUSTODY OF MR. AND MRS.
EMILIANO MILITAR AT STA. ISABEL STREET, JARO . . .11chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
On May 13, 1974, the Municipal Court of San Juan, Rizal promulgated the Decision
granting the Petition for Adoption of Senator Poe by Spouses Ronald Allan Poe (more
popularly known as Fernando Poe, Jr.) and Jesusa Sonora Poe (more popularly known
as Susan Roces).12 The Decision also ordered the change in Senator Poe's name from
Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar to Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe.13 October
27, 2005, Clerk of Court III Eleanor A. Sorio certified that the Decision had become final
in a Certificate of Finality.14chanrobleslaw

On April 11, 1980, the Office of Civil Registrar-Iloilo received the Decision of the San
Juan Court Municipal Court and noted on Senator Poe's foundling certificate that she
was adopted by Spouses Ronald Allan and Jesusa Poe.15 This hand-written notation
appears on Senator Poe's foundling certificate:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
NOTE: Adopted child by the Spouses Ronald Allan Poe and Jesusa Sonora Poe as per
Court Order, Mun. Court, San Juan, Rizal, by Hon. Judge Alfredo M. Gorgonio dated
May 13, 1974, under Sp. Proc. No. 138.16chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Senator Poe became a registered voter in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila when she
turned 18 years old.17 The Commission on Elections issued her a Voter's Identification
Card for Precinct No. 196, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila on December 13,
1986.18chanrobleslaw

On April 4, 1988, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued her a Philippine


passport.19 Her passport was renewed on April 5, 1993, May 19, 1998, October 13, 2009,
December 19, 2013, and March 18, 2014.20Having become Senator, she was also issued a
Philippine diplomatic passport on December 19, 2013.21chanrobleslaw

Senator Poe took Development Studies at the University of the Philippines, Manila, but
eventually went to the United States in 1988 to obtain her college degree.22 In 1991, she
earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Boston College, Chestnut Hill,
Massachusetts.23chanrobleslaw

On July 27, 1991, Senator Poe married Teodoro Misael Daniel V. Llamanzares, both an
American and Filipino national since birth.24 The marriage took place in Sanctuario de
San Jose Parish, San Juan, Manila.25cralawred On July 29, 1991, Senator Poe returned
to the United States with her husband.26 For some time, she lived with her husband and
children in the United States.27chanrobleslaw

Senator Poe and her husband had three (3) children: Brian Daniel (Brian), Hanna
MacKenzie (Hanna), and Jesusa Anika (Anika).28 Brian was born in the United States on
April 16, 1992. Hanna was born on July 10, 1998, and Anika on June 5, 2004. Both
Hanna and Anika were born in the Philippines.29chanrobleslaw

Senator Poe was naturalized and granted American citizenship on October 18,
2001.30 She was subsequently given a United States passport.31chanrobleslaw

Senator Poe's adoptive father, Fernando Poe, Jr., ran for President of the Republic of the
Philippines in the 2004 National Elections.32 To support her father's candidacy, Senator
Poe and her daughter Hanna returned to the Philippines on April 8, 2004.33 After the
Elections, she returned to the United States on July 8, 2004.34 It was during her stay in
the Philippines that she gave birth to her youngest daughter, Anika.35chanrobleslaw

Fernando Poe, Jr. was hospitalized on December 11, 2004 and eventually "slipped into a
coma."36Senator Poe returned to the Philippines on December 13, 2004.37 On December
14, 2004, her father died.38 She stayed in the country until February 3, 2005 to attend
her father's funeral and to attend to the settling of his estate.39chanrobleslaw

In 2004, Senator Poe resigned from work in the United States. She never looked for
work again in the United States.40chanrobleslaw

Senator Poe decided to return home in 2005.41 After consulting her children, they all
agreed to return to the Philippines to support the grieving Susan Roces.42 In early 2005,
they notified Brian and Hanna's schools Virginia, United States that they would be
transferring to the Philippines the following semester.43 She came back on May 24,
2005.44 Her children also arrived in the first half of 2005.45However, her husband
stayed in the United States to "finish pending projects, and to arrange for the sale of the
family home there."46chanrobleslaw
Following her return, Senator Poe was issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue a Tax
Identification Number (TIN) on July 22, 2005.47chanrobleslaw

On July 7, 2006, Senator Poe took the Oath of Allegiance to Republic of the
Philippines:48
I, Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares, solemnly swear that I will support and defend the
Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and legal orders
promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby declare
that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the Philippines and will maintain
true faith and allegiance thereto; and that I impose this obligation upon myself
voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of
evasion.49chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
On July 10, 2006, Senator Poe filed a Petition for Retention and or Re-acquisition of
Philippine Citizenship through Republic Act No. 9225.50 She also "filed applications for
derivative citizenship on behalf of her three children who were all below eighteen (18)
years of age at that time."51chanrobleslaw

The Petition was granted by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation on July 18,
2006 through an Order signed by Associate Commissioner Roy M. Almoro for
Commissioner Alipio F. Fernandez, Jr:52
A careful review of the documents submitted in support of the instant petition indicate
that David was a former citizen of the Republic of the Philippines being born to Filipino
parents and is presumed to be a natural born Philippine citizen; thereafter, became an
American citizen and is now a holder of an American passport; was issued an ACT and
ICR and has taken her oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on July 7,
2006 and so is thereby deemed to have re-acquired her Philippine
Citizenship.53 (Emphasis in the original)
In the same Order, Senator Poe's children were "deemed Citizens of the Philippines in
accordance with Section 4 of R[epublic] A[ct] No. 9225."54 Until now, the Order "has not
been set aside by the Department of Justice or any other agency of
Government."55chanrobleslaw

On July 31, 2006, the Bureau of Immigration issued Identification Certificates in the
name of Senator Poe and her children.56 It stated that Senator Poe is a "citizen of the
Philippines pursuant to the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003 . . . in
relation to Administrative Order No. 91, Series of 2004 and Memorandum Circular No.
AFF-2-005 per Office Order No. AFF-06-9133 signed Associate Commissioner Roy M.
Almoro dated July 18, 2006."57chanrobleslaw

Senator Poe became a registered voter of Barangay Santa Lucia, San Juan City on
August 31, 2006.58chanrobleslaw

Senator Poe made several trips to the United States of America between 2006 and 2009
using her United States Passport No. 170377935.59 She used her passport "after having
taken her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic on 07 July 2006, but not after she has
formally renounced her American citizenship on 20 October 2010."60 The following are
the flight records given by the Bureau of Immigration:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Departures Flight No.

November 1, 2006 SQ071

July 20, 2007 PR730

October 31, 2007 PR300

October 2, 2008 PR358

April 20, 2009 PR104

July 31, 2009 PR730

October 19, 2009 PR102

November 15, 2009 PR103

December 27, 2009 PR112

March 27, 2010 PR102

Arrivals Flight No.

November 4, 2006 SQ076

July 23, 2007 PR731

November 5, 2007 PR337

May 8, 2008 PR103

October 5, 2008 PR359

May 21, 2009 PR105

August 3, 2009 PR733

November 15, 2009 PR10361


On October 6, 2010, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III appointed Senator Poe as
Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board
(MTRCB).62 On October 20, 2010, Senator Poe executed an Affidavit of Renunciation of
Allegiance to the United States of America and Renunciation of American
Citizenship,63 stating:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryI, MARY GRACE POE-LLAMANZARES, Filipino, of legal


age, and presently residing at No. 107 Rodeo Drive, Corinthian Hills, Quezon City,
Philippines, after having been duly sworn to in accordance with the law, do hereby
depose and state that with this affidavit, I hereby expressly and voluntarily renounce my
United States nationality/American citizenship, together with all rights and privileges
and all duties and allegiance and fidelity thereunto pertaining. I make this renunciation
intentionally, voluntarily, and of my own free will, free of any duress or undue
influence.64 (Emphasis in the original)

The affidavit was submitted to the Bureau of Immigration on October 21, 2010.65 On
October 21, 2010, she took her Oath of Office as MTRCB Chairperson and assumed
office on October 26, 2010.66 Her oath of office stated:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
PANUNUMPA SA KATUNGKULAN

Ako, si MARY GRACE POE LLAMANZARES, na itinalaga sa katungkulan


bilang Chairperson, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, ay taimtim
na nanunumpa na tutuparin ko nang buong husay at katapatan, sa abot ng aking
kakayahan, ang mga tungkulin ng aking kasalukuyang katungkulan at ng mga iba pang
pagkaraan nito'y gagampanan ko sa ilalim ng Republika ng Pilipinas; na aking
itataguyod at ipagtatanggol ang Saligan Batas ng Pilipinas; na tunay na mananalig at
tatalima ako rito; na susundin ko ang mga batas, mga kautusang lega, at mga dekretong
pinaiiral ng mga sadyang itinakdang may kapangyarihan ng Republika ng Pilipinas; at
kusa kong babalikatin ang pananagutang ito, nang walang ano mang pasubali o
hangaring umiwas.

Kasihan nawa ako ng Diyos.

NILAGDAAN AT PINANUMPAAN sa harap ko ngayong ika-21 ng Oktubre 2010,


Lungsod ng Maynila, Pilipinas.67 (Emphasis in the original)
Senator Poe executed an Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation of Nationality of the United
States68 in the presence of Vice-Consul Somer E. Bessire-Briers on July 12, 2011.69 On
this occasion, she also filled out the Questionnaire Information for Determining Possible
Loss of U.S. Citizenship.70 On December 9, 2011, Vice Consul Jason Galian executed a
Certificate of Loss of Nationality for Senator Poe.71 The certificate was approved by the
Overseas Citizen Service, Department of State, on February 3, 2012.72chanrobleslaw

Senator Poe decided to run as Senator in the 2013 Elections.73 On September 27, 2012,
she executed a Certificate of Candidacy, which was submitted to the Commission on
Elections on October 2, 2012.74 She won and was declared as Senator-elect on May 16,
2013.75chanrobleslaw

David, a losing candidate in the 2013 Senatorial Elections, filed before the Senate
Electoral Tribunal a Petition for Quo Warranto on August 6, 2015.76 He contested the
election of Senator Poe for failing to "comply with the citizenship and residency
requirements mandated by the 1987 Constitution."77chanrobleslaw

Thereafter, the Senate Electoral Tribunal issued Resolution No. 15-01 requiring David
"to correct the formal defects of his petition."78 David filed his amended Petition on
August 17, 2015.79chanrobleslaw

On August 18, 2015, Resolution No. 15-02 was issued by the Senate Electoral Tribunal,
through its Executive Committee, ordering the Secretary of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal to summon Senator Poe to file an answer to the amended
Petition.80chanrobleslaw

Pending the filing of Senator Poe's answer, David filed a Motion Subpoena the Record of
Application of Citizenship Re-acquisition and related documents from the Bureau of
Immigration on August 25, 2015.81The documents requested included Senator Poe's
record of travels and NSO kept Birth Certificate.82 On August 26, 2015, the Senate
Electoral Tribunal issued Resolution No. 15-04 granting the Motion.83 The same
Resolution directed the Secretary of the Tribunal to issue a subpoena to the concerned
officials of the Bureau of Immigration and the National Statistics Office.84 The
subpoenas ordered the officials to appear on September 1, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. before the
Office of the Secretary of the Senate bearing three (3) sets of the requested
documents.85 The subpoenas were complied with by both the Bureau of Immigration
and the National Statistics Office on September 1, 2015.86chanrobleslaw

On September 1, 2015, Senator Poe submitted her Verified Answer with (1) Prayer for
Summary Dismissal; (2) Motion for Preliminary Hearing on Grounds for Immediate
Dismissal/Affirmative Defenses; (3) Motion to Cite David for Direct Contempt of Court;
and (4) Counterclaim for Indirect Contempt of Court.87chanrobleslaw

On September 2, 2015, the Senate Electoral Tribunal issued Resolution No. 15-05
requiring the parties to file a preliminary conference brief on or before September 9,
2015.88 The Resolution also set the Preliminary Conference on September 11,
2015.89 During the Preliminary Conference, the parties "agreed to drop the issue of
residency on the ground of prescription."90chanrobleslaw

Oral arguments were held by the Senate Electoral Tribunal on September 21, 2015.91 The
parties were then "required to submit their respective [memoranda], without prejudice
to the submission of DNA evidence by [Senator Poe] within thirty (30) days from the
said date."92chanrobleslaw

On October 21, 2015, Senator Poe moved to extend for 15 days the submission of DNA
test results.93The Senate Electoral Tribunal granted the Motion on October 27, 2015
through Resolution No. 15-08.94On November 5, 2015, Senator Poe filed a Manifestation
regarding the results of DNA Testing,95 which stated that "none of the tests that [Senator
Poe] took provided results that would shed light to the real identity of her biological
parents."96 The Manifestation also stated that Senator Poe was to continue to find
closure regarding the issue and submit any development to the Senate Electoral
Tribunal. Later, Senator Poe submitted "the issue of her natural-born Filipino
citizenship as a foundling for resolution upon the legal arguments set forth in her
submissions to the Tribunal."97 On November 6, 2015, through Resolution No. 15-10,
the Senate Electoral Tribunal "noted the [M]anifestation and considered the case
submitted for resolution."98chanrobleslaw
On November 17, 2015, the Senate Electoral Tribunal promulgated its assailed Decision
finding Senator Poe to be a natural-born citizen and, therefore, qualified to hold office
as Senator.99 The Decision stated:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
We rule that Respondent is a natural-born citizen under the 1935 Constitution and
continue to be a natural-born citizen as defined under the 1987 Constitution, as she is a
citizen of the Philippines from birth, without having to perform any act to acquire or
perfect (her) Philippine citizenship.

....

In light of our earlier pronouncement that Respondent is a natural-born Filipino citizen,


Respondent validly reacquired her natural-born Filipino citizenship upon taking her
Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, as required under Section 3 of R.A.
No. 9225.

Under Section 11 of B.I. Memorandum Circular No. AFF 05-002 (the Revised Rules
Implementing R.A. No. 9225), the foregoing Oath of Allegiance is the "final act" to
reacquire natural-born Philippine citizenship.

....

To repeat, Respondent never used her USA passport from the moment she renounced
her American citizenship on 20 October 2010. She remained solely a natural-born
Filipino citizen from that time on until today.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for quo warranto is DISMISSED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.100 (Citations omitted)


On November 23, 2015, David moved for reconsideration.101 The Senate Electoral
Tribunal issued Resolution No. 15-11 on November 24, 2015, giving Senator Poe five (5)
days to comment on the Motion for Reconsideration.102chanrobleslaw

Senator Poe filed her Comment/Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration on


December 1, 2015.103David's Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the Senate
Electoral Tribunal on December 3, 2015:104
WHEREFORE, the Tribunal resolves to DENY the Verified Motion for Reconsideration
(of the Decision promulgated on 17 November 2015) of David Rizalito Y. David dated 23
November 2015.

The Tribunal further resolves to CONFIRM Resolution No. 15-11 dated 24 November
2015 issued by the Executive Committee of the Tribunal; to NOTE the
Comment/Opposition filed by counsel for Respondent on 01 December 2015;
to GRANT the motion for leave to appear and submit memorandum as amici
curiae filed by Dean Arturo de Castro [and to] NOTE the Memorandum (for Volunteer
Amicus Curiae) earlier submitted by Dean de Castro before the Commission on
Elections in SPA No. 15-139 (DC), entitled "Amado D. Valdez, Petitoner, versus Mary
Grace Natividad Sonora Poe Llaman[z]ares, Respondent."

SO ORDERED.105 (Emphasis in the original)


On December 8, 2015, the Senate Electoral Tribunal's Resolution was received by
David.106 On December 9, 2015, David filed the pre Petition for Certiorari before this
Court.107chanrobleslaw

On December 16, 2015, this Court required the Senate Electoral Tribunal and Senator
Poe to comment on the Petition "within a non-extendible period of fifteen (15) days
from notice."108 The Resolution also set oral arguments on January 19, 2016.109 The
Senate Electoral Tribunal, through the Office of the Solicitor General, submitted its
Comment on December 30, 2015.110 Senator Poe submitted her Comment on January 4,
2016.111chanrobleslaw

This case was held in abeyance pending the resolution of the Commission on Elections
case on the issue of private respondent's citizenship.

For resolution is the sole issue of whether the Senate Electoral Tribunal committed
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing
petitioner's Petition for Quo Warranto based on its finding that private respondent is a
natural-born Filipino citizen, qualified to hold a seat as Senator under Article VI,
Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution.

Petitioner comes to this Court invoking our power of judicial review through a petition
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. He seeks to annul the
assailed Decision and Resolution of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, which state its
findings and conclusions on private respondent's citizenship.

Ruling on petitioner's plea for post-judgment relief calls for a consideration of two (2)
factors: first, the breadth of this Court's competence relative to that of the Senate
Electoral Tribunal; and second, the nature of the remedial vehicle—a petition for
certiorari—through which one who is aggrieved by a judgment of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal may seek relief from this Court.

I. A

The Senate Electoral Tribunal, along with the House of Representatives Electoral
Tribunal, is a creation of Article VI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution:112
ARTICLE VI
The Legislative Department

....
SECTION 17. The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral
Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns,
and qualifications of their respective Members. Each Electoral Tribunal shall be
composed of nine Members, three of whom shall be Justices of the Supreme Court to be
designated by the Chief Justice, and the remaining six shall be Members of the Senate or
the House of Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen on the basis of
proportional representation from the political parties and the parties or organizations
registered under the party-list system represented therein. The senior Justice in the
Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman. (Emphasis supplied)
Through Article VI, Section 17, the Constitution segregates from all other judicial and
quasi-judicial bodies (particularly, courts and the Commission on Elections113) the
power to rule on contests114relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of
members of the Senate (as well as of the House of Representatives). These powers are
granted to a separate and distinct constitutional organ. There are two (2) aspects to the
exclusivity of the Senate Electoral Tribunal's power. The power to resolve such contests
is exclusive to any other body. The resolution of such contests is its only task; it
performs no other function.

The 1987 Constitution is not the first fundamental law to introduce into our legal system
an "independent, impartial and non-partisan body attached to the legislature and
specially created for that singular purpose."115 The 1935 Constitution similarly created
an Electoral Commission, independent from the National Assembly, to be the sole judge
of all contests relating to members of the National Assembly.116 This was a departure
from the system introduced by prior organic acts enforced under American colonial
rule—namely: the Philippine Bill of 1902 and the Jones Law of 1916—which vested the
power to resolve such contests in the legislature itself. When the 1935 Constitution was
amended to make room for a bicameral legislature, a corresponding amendment was
made for there to be separate electoral tribunals for each chamber of Congress.117 The
1973 Constitution did away with these electoral tribunals, but they have since been
restored by the 1987 Constitution.

All constitutional provisions—under the 1935 and 1987 Constitutions—which provide for
the creation of electoral tribunals (or their predecessor, the Electoral Commission), have
been unequivocal in their language. The electoral tribunal shall be the "sole" judge.

In Lazatin v. House Electoral Tribunal:118


The use of the word "sole" emphasizes the exclusive character of the jurisdiction
conferred. . . . The exercise of the power by the Electoral Commission under the 1935
Constitution has been described as "intended to be as complete and unimpaired as if it
had remained originally in the legislature[.]" Earlier, this grant of power to the
legislature was characterized by Justice Malcohn as "full, clear and complete." . . . Under
the amended 1935 Constitution, the power was unqualifiedly reposed upon the Electoral
Tribunal . . . and it remained as full, clear and complete as that previously granted the
legislature and the Electoral Commission. . . . The same may be said with regard to the
jurisdiction of the Electoral Tribunals under the 1987
Constitution.119chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Exclusive, original jurisdiction over contests relating to the election, returns, and
qualifications of the elective officials falling within the scope of their powers is, thus,
vested in these electoral tribunals. It is only before them that post-election challenges
against the election, returns, and qualifications of Senators and Representatives (as well
as of the President and the Vice-President, in the case of the Presidential Electoral
Tribunal) may be initiated.

The judgments of these tribunals are not beyond the scope of any review. Article VI,
Section 17's stipulation of electoral tribunals' being the "sole" judge must be read in
harmony with Article VIII, Section 1's express statement that "[j]udicial power includes
the duty of the courts of justice . . . to determine whether or not there has been a grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any
branch or instrumentality of the Government." Judicial review is, therefore, still
possible. In Libanan v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal:120
The Court has stressed that ". . . so long as the Constitution grants the [House of
Representatives Electoral Tribunal] the power to be the sole judge of all contests
relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the House of
Representatives, any final action taken by the [House of Representatives Electoral
Tribunal] on a matter within its jurisdiction shall, as a rule, not be reviewed by this
Court . . . the power granted to the Electoral Tribunal . . . excludes the exercise of any
authority on the part of this Court that would in any wise restrict it or curtail it or even
affect the same."

The Court did recognize, of course, its power of judicial review in exceptional cases.
In Robles vs. [House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal], the Court has explained
that while the judgments of the Tribunal are beyond judicial interference, the Court may
do so, however, but only "in the exercise of this Court's so-called extraordinary
jurisdiction, . . . upon a determination that the Tribunal's decision or resolution was
rendered without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion or
paraphrasing Morrero, upon a clear showing of such arbitrary and improvident use by
the Tribunal of its power as constitutes a denial of due process of law, or upon a
demonstration of a very clear unmitigated error, manifestly constituting such grave
abuse of discretion that there has to be a remedy for such abuse."

In the old, but still relevant, case of Morrero vs. Bocar, the Court has ruled that the
power of the Electoral Commission "is beyond judicial interference except, in any event,
upon a clear showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of power as will constitute a
denial of due process." The Court does not, to paraphrase it in Co vs. [House of
Representatives Electoral Tribunal], venture into the perilous area of correcting
perceived errors of independent branches of the Government; it comes in only when it
has to vindicate a denial of due process or correct an abuse of discretion so grave or
glaring that no less than the Constitution itself calls for remedial action.121 (Emphasis
supplied, citations omitted)
This Court reviews judgments of the House and Senate Electoral Tribunals not in the
exercise of its appellate jurisdiction. Our review is limited to a determination of whether
there has been an error in jurisdiction, not an error in judgment.
I. B

A party aggrieved by the rulings of the Senate or House Electoral Tribunal invokes the
jurisdiction of this Court through the vehicle of a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. An appeal is a continuation of the proceedings in the
tribunal from which the appeal is taken. A petition for certiorari is allowed in Article
VIII, Section 1 of the Constitution and described in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure as
an independent civil action.122 The viability of such a petition is premised on an
allegation of "grave abuse of discretion."123chanrobleslaw

The term "grave abuse of discretion" has been generally held to refer to such arbitrary,
capricious, or whimsical exercise of judgment as is tantamount to lack of
jurisdiction:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
[T]he abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a
positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in
contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic
manner by reason of passion and hostility. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough: it
must be grave.124chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
There is grave abuse of discretion when a constitutional organ such as the Senate
Electoral Tribunal or the Commission on Elections, makes manifestly gross errors in its
factual inferences such that critical pieces of evidence, which have been nevertheless
properly introduced by a party, or admitted, or which were the subject of stipulation, are
ignored or not accounted for.125chanrobleslaw

A glaring misinterpretation of the constitutional text or of statutory provisions, as well


as a misreading or misapplication of the current state of jurisprudence, is also
considered grave abuse of discretion.126 The arbitrariness consists in the disregard of the
current state of our law.

Adjudication that fails to consider the facts and evidence or frivolously departs from
settled principles engenders a strong suspicion of partiality. This can be a badge of
hostile intent against a party.

Writs of certiorari have, therefore, been issued: (a) where the tribunal's approach to an
issue is premised on wrong considerations and its conclusions founded on a gross
misreading, if not misrepresentation, of the evidence;127 (b) where a tribunal's
assessment of a case is "far from reasonable[,] [and] based solely on very personal and
subjective assessment standards when the law is replete with standards that can be
used";128 "(c) where the tribunal's action on the appreciation and evaluation of evidence
oversteps the limits of its discretion to the point of being grossly unreasonable";129 and
(d) where the tribunal invokes erroneous or irrelevant considerations in resolving an
issue.130chanrobleslaw

I. C

We find no basis for concluding that the Senate Electoral Tribunal acted without or in
excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction.

The Senate Electoral Tribunal's conclusions are in keeping with a faithful and exhaustive
reading of the Constitution, one that proceeds from an intent to give life to all the
aspirations of all its provisions.

Ruling on the Petition for Quo Warranto initiated by petitioner, the Senate Electoral
Tribunal was confronted with a novel legal question: the citizenship status of children
whose biological parents are unknown, considering that the Constitution, in Article IV,
Section 1(2) explicitly makes reference to one's father or mother. It was compelled to
exercise its original jurisdiction in the face of a constitutional ambiguity that, at that
point, was without judicial precedent.

Acting within this void, the Senate Electoral Tribunal was only asked to make a
reasonable interpretation of the law while needfully considering the established
personal circumstances of private respondent. It could not have asked the impossible of
private respondent, sending her on a proverbial fool's errand to establish her parentage,
when the controversy before it arose because private respondent's parentage was
unknown and has remained so throughout her life.

The Senate Electoral Tribunal knew the limits of human capacity. It did not insist on
burdening private respondent with conclusively proving, within the course of the few
short months, the one thing that she has never been in a position to know throughout
her lifetime. Instead, it conscientiously appreciated the implications of all other facts
known about her finding. Therefore, it arrived at conclusions in a manner in keeping
with the degree of proof required in proceedings before a quasi-judicial body: not
absolute certainty, not proof beyond reasonable doubt or preponderance of evidence,
but "substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion."131chanrobleslaw

In the process, it avoided setting a damning precedent for all children with the
misfortune of having been abandoned by their biological parents. Far from reducing
them to inferior, second-class citizens, the Senate Electoral Tribunal did justice to the
Constitution's aims of promoting and defending the well-being of children, advancing
human rights, and guaranteeing equal protection of the laws and equal access to
opportunities for public service.

II

Article VI, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution spells out the requirement that "[n]o
person shall be a Senator unless he [or she] is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines."

Petitioner asserts that private respondent is not a natural-born citizen and, therefore,
not qualified to sit as Senator of the Republic, chiefly on two (2) grounds. First, he
argues that as a foundling whose parents are unknown, private respondent fails to
satisfy the jus sanguinis principle: that is, that she failed to establish her Filipino "blood
line," which is supposedly the essence of the Constitution's determination of who are
natural-born citizens of the Philippines. Proceeding from this first assertion, petitioner
insists that as private respondent was never a natural-born citizen, she could never leave
reverted to natural-born status despite the performance of acts that ostensibly comply
with Republic Act No. 9225, otherwise known as the Citizenship Retention and Re-
acquisition Act of 2003.

Petitioner's case hinges on the primacy he places over Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987
Constitution and its enumeration of who are Filipino citizens, more specifically on
Section 1(2), which identifies as citizens "[t]hose whose fathers or mothers are citizens
of the Philippines." Petitioner similarly claims that, as private respondent's foundling
status is settled, the burden to prove Filipino parentage was upon her. With private
respondent having supposedly failed to discharge this burden, the supposed inevitable
conclusion is that she is not a natural-born Filipino.

III

At the heart of this controversy is a constitutional ambiguity. Definitely, foundlings have


biological parents, either or both of whom can be Filipinos. Yet, by the nature of their
being foundlings, they may, at critical times, not know their parents. Thus, this
controversy must consider possibilities where parentage may be Filipino but, due to no
fault of the foundling, remains unknown.132 Resolving this controversy hinges on
constitutional interpretation.

Discerning constitutional meaning is an exercise in discovering the sovereign's purpose


so as to identify which among competing interpretations of the same text is the more
contemporarily viable construction. Primarily, the actual words—text—and how they are
situated within the whole document—context—govern. Secondarily, when discerning
meaning from the plain text (i.e., verba legis) fails, contemporaneous construction may
settle what is more viable. Nevertheless, even when a reading of the plain text is already
sufficient, contemporaneous construction may still be resorted to as a means for
verifying or validating the clear textual or contextual meaning of the Constitution.

III. A

The entire exercise of interpreting a constitutional provision must necessarily begin with
the text itself. The language of the provision being interpreted is the principal source
from which this Court determines constitutional intent.133chanrobleslaw

To the extent possible, words must be given their ordinary meaning; this is consistent
with the basic precept of verba legis.134 The Constitution is truly a public document in
that it was ratified and approved by a direct act of the People exercising their right of
suffrage, they approved of it through a plebiscite. The preeminent consideration in
reading the Constitution, therefore, is the People's consciousness: that is, popular,
rather than technical-legal, understanding. Thus:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
We look to the language of the document itself in our search for its meaning. We do not
of course stop there, but that is where we begin. It is to be assumed that the words in
which constitutional provisions are couched express the objective sought to be attained.
They are to be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed
in which case the significance thus attached to them prevails. As the Constitution is not
primarily a lawyer's document, it being essential for the rule of law to obtain that it
should ever be present in the people's consciousness, its language as much as possible
should be understood in the sense they have in common use. What it says according to
the text of the provision to be construed compels acceptance and negates the power of
the courts to alter it, based on the postulate that the framers and the people mean what
they say. Thus, these are the cases where the need for construction is reduced to a
minimum.135(Emphasis supplied)
Reading a constitutional provision requires awareness of its relation with the whole of
the Constitution. A constitutional provision is but a constituent of a greater whole. It is
the framework of the Constitution that animates each of its components through the
dynamism of these components' interrelations. What is called into operation is the
entire document, not simply a peripheral item. The Constitution should, therefore, be
appreciated and read as a singular, whole unit—ut magis valeat quam pereat.136 Each
provision must be understood and effected in a way that gives life to all that the
Constitution contains, from its foundational principles to its finest
fixings.137chanrobleslaw

The words and phrases that establish its framework and its values color each provision
at the heart of a controversy in an actual case. In Civil Liberties Union v. Executive
Secretary:138
It is a well-established rule in constitutional construction that no one provision of the
Constitution is to be separated from all the others, to be considered alone, but that all
the provisions bearing upon a particular subject are to be brought into view and to be so
interpreted as to effectuate the great purposes of the instrument. Sections bearing on a
particular subject should be considered and interpreted together as to effectuate the
whole purpose of the Constitution and one section is not to be allowed to defeat another,
if by any reasonable construction, the two can be made to stand together.

In other words, the court must harmonize them, if practicable, and must lean in favor of
construction which will render every word operative, rather than one which may make
the words idle and nugatory.139 (Citations omitted)
Reading a certain text includes a consideration of jurisprudence that has previously
considered that exact same text, if any. Our legal system is founded on the basic
principle that "judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution
shall form part of [our] legal system."140 Jurisprudence is not an independent source of
law. Nevertheless, judicial interpretation is deemed part of or written into the text itself
as of the date that it was originally passed. This is because judicial construction
articulates the contemporaneous intent that the text brings to effect. 141 Nevertheless,
one must not fall into the temptation of considering prior interpretation as immutable.

Interpretation grounded on textual primacy likewise looks into how the text has evolved.
Unless completely novel, legal provisions are the result of the re-adoption—often with
accompanying re-calibration—of previously existing rules. Even when seemingly novel,
provisions are often introduced as a means of addressing the inadequacies and excesses
of previously existing rules.

One may trace the historical development of text by comparing its current iteration with
prior counterpart provisions, keenly taking note of changes in syntax, along with
accounting for more conspicuous substantive changes such as the addition and deletion
of provisos or items in enumerations, shifting terminologies, the use of more emphatic
or more moderate qualifiers, and the imposition of heavier penalties. The tension
between consistency and change galvanizes meaning.

Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, which enumerates who are citizens of the
Philippines, may be compared with counterpart provisions, not only in earlier
Constitutions but even in organic laws142and in similar mechanisms143 introduced by
colonial rulers whose precepts nevertheless still resonate today.

Even as ordinary meaning is preeminent, a realistic appreciation of legal interpretation


must grapple with the truth that meaning is not always singular and uniform. In Social
Weather Stations, Inc. v. Commission on Elections,144 this Court explained the place of
a holistic approach in legal interpretation:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Interestingly, both COMELEC and petitioners appeal to what they (respectively)
construe to be plainly evident from Section 5.2(a)'s text on the part of COMELEC, that
the use of the words "paid for" evinces no distinction between direct purchasers and
those who purchase via subscription schemes; and, on the part of petitioners, that
Section 5.2(a)'s desistance from actually using the word "subscriber" means that
subscribers are beyond its contemplation. The variance in the parties' positions,
considering that they are both banking on what they claim to be the Fair Election Act's
plain meaning, is the best evidence of an extant ambiguity.

Second, statutory construction cannot lend itself to pedantic rigor that foments
absurdity. The dangers of inordinate insistence on literal interpretation are
commonsensical and need not be belabored. These dangers are by no means endemic to
legal interpretation. Even in everyday conversations, misplaced literal interpretations
are fodder for humor. A fixation on technical rules of grammar is no less innocuous. A
pompously doctrinaire approach to text can stifle, rather than facilitate, the legislative
wisdom that unbridled textualism purports to bolster.

Third, the assumption that there is, in all cases, a universal plain language is erroneous.
In reality, universality and uniformity in meaning is a rarity. A contrary belief wrongly
assumes that language is static.

The more appropriate and more effective approach is, thus, holistic rather
than parochial: to consider context and the interplay of the historical, the
contemporary, and even the envisioned. Judicial interpretation entails the
convergence of social realities and social ideals. The latter are meant to be effected by
the legal apparatus, chief of which is the bedrock of the prevailing legal order: the
Constitution. Indeed, the word in the vernacular that describes the Constitution —
saligan — demonstrates this imperative of constitutional primacy.
Thus, we refuse to read Section 5.2(a) of the Fair Election Act in isolation. Here, we
consider not an abstruse provision but a stipulation that is part of the whole, i.e., the
statute of which it is a part, that is aimed at realizing the ideal of fair elections. We
consider not a cloistered provision but a norm that should have a present authoritative
effect to achieve the ideals of those who currently read, depend on, and demand fealty
from the Constitution.145 (Emphasis supplied)
III. B

Contemporaneous construction and aids that are external to the text may be resorted to
when the text is capable of multiple, viable meanings.146 It is only then that one can go
beyond the strict boundaries of the document. Nevertheless, even when meaning has
already been ascertained from a reading of the plain text, contemporaneous
construction may serve to verify or validate the meaning yielded by such reading.

Limited resort to contemporaneous construction is justified by the realization that the


business of understanding the Constitution is not exclusive to this Court. The basic
democratic foundation of our constitutional order necessarily means that all organs of
government, and even the People, read the fundamental law and are guided by it. When
competing viable interpretations arise, a justiciable controversy may ensue requiring
judicial intervention in order to arrive with finality at which interpretation shall be
sustained. To remain true to its democratic moorings, however, judicial involvement
must remain guided by a framework or deference and constitutional avoidance. This
same principle underlies the basic doctrine that courts are to refrain from issuing
advisory opinions. Specifically as regards this Court, only constitutional issues that are
narrowly framed, sufficient to resolve an actual case, may be
entertained.147chanrobleslaw

When permissible then, one may consider analogous jurisprudence (that is, judicial
decisions on similar, but not the very same, matters or concerns),148 as well as
thematically similar statutes and international norms that form part of our legal system.
This includes discerning the purpose and aims of the text in light of the specific facts
under consideration. It is also only at this juncture—when external aids may be
consulted—that the supposedly underlying notions of the framers, as articulated
through records of deliberations and other similar accounts, can be illuminating.

III. C

In the hierarchy of the means for constitutional interpretation, inferring meaning from
the supposed intent of the framers or fathoming the original understanding of the
individuals who adopted the basic document is the weakest approach.

These methods leave the greatest room for subjective interpretation. Moreover, they
allow for the greatest errors. The alleged intent of the framers is not necessarily
encompassed or exhaustively articulated in the records of deliberations. Those that have
been otherwise silent and have not actively engaged in interpellation and debate may
have voted for or against a proposition for reasons entirely their own and not necessarily
in complete agreement with those articulated by the more vocal. It is even possible that
the beliefs that motivated them were based on entirely erroneous premises. Fathoming
original understanding can also misrepresent history as it compels a comprehension of
actions made within specific historical episodes through detached, and not necessarily
better-guided, modern lenses.

Moreover, the original intent of the framers of the Constitution is not always uniform
with the original understanding of the People who ratified it. In Civil Liberties
Union:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to consult the debates and proceedings of the
constitutional convention in order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the resulting
Constitution, resort thereto may be had only when other guides fail as said proceedings
are powerless to vary the terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear. Debates
in the constitutional convention "are of value as showing the views of the individual
members, and as indicating the reasons for their votes, but they give us no light as to the
views of the large majority who did not talk, much less of the mass of our fellow citizens
whose votes at the polls gave the instrument the force of fundamental law. We think it
safer to construe the constitution from what appears upon its face." The proper
interpretation therefore depends more on how it was understood by the people
adopting it than in the framer's understanding thereof.149 (Emphasis supplied)
IV

Though her parents are unknown, private respondent is a Philippine citizen without the
need for an express statement in the Constitution making her so. Her status as such is
but the logical consequence of a reasonable reading of the Constitution within its plain
text. The Constitution provides its own cues; there is not even a need to delve into the
deliberations of its framers and the implications of international legal instruments. This
reading proceeds from several levels.

On an initial level, a plain textual reading readily identifies the specific provision, which
principally governs: the Constitution's actual definition, in Article IV, Section 2, of
"natural-born citizens." This definition must be harmonized with Section 1's
enumeration, which includes a reference to parentage. These provisions must then be
appreciated in relation to the factual milieu of this case. The pieces of evidence before
the Senate Electoral Tribunal, admitted facts, and uncontroverted circumstances
adequately justify the conclusion of private respondent's Filipino parentage.

On another level, the assumption should be that foundlings are natural-born unless
there is substantial evidence to the contrary. This is necessarily engendered by a
complete consideration of the whole Constitution, not just its provisions on citizenship.
This includes its mandate of defending the well-being of children, guaranteeing equal
protection of the law, equal access to opportunities for public service, and respecting
human rights, as well as its reasons for requiring natural-born status for select public
offices. Moreover, this is a reading validated by contemporaneous construction that
considers related legislative enactments, executive and administrative actions, and
international instruments.

V
Private respondent was a Filipino citizen at birth. This status' commencement from
birth means that private respondent never had to do anything to consummate this
status. By definition, she is natural-born. Though subsequently naturalized, she
reacquired her natural-born status upon satisfying the requirement of Republic Act No.
9225. Accordingly, she is qualified to hold office as Senator of the Republic.

V. A

Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution enumerates who are citizens of the
Philippines:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this
Constitution;

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines;

(3) Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.150


Article IV, Section 2 identifies who are natural-born
citizens:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Sec. 2. Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from
birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their
Philippine citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with
paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens. (Emphasis
supplied)
Section 2's significance is self-evident. It provides a definition of the term "natural-born
citizens." This is distinct from Section 1's enumeration of who are citizens. As against
Section 1's generic listing, Section 2 specifically articulates those who may count
themselves as natural-born.

The weight and implications of this categorical definition are better appreciated when
supplemented with an understanding of how our concepts of citizenship and natural-
born citizenship have evolved. As will be seen, the term "natural-born citizen" was a
transplanted, but tardily defined, foreign concept.

V. B

Citizenship is a legal device denoting political affiliation. It is the "right to have


rights."151 It is one's personal and . . . permanent membership in a political community. .
. The core of citizenship is the capacity to enjoy political rights, that is, the right to
participate in government principally through the right to vote, the right to hold public
office[,] and the right to petition the government for redress of
grievance.152chanrobleslaw

Citizenship also entails obligations to the political community of which one is


part.153 Citizenship, therefore, is intimately tied with the notion that loyalty is owed to
the state, considering the benefits and protection provided by it. This is particularly so if
these benefits and protection have been enjoyed from the moment of the citizen's birth.

Tecson v. Commission on Elections154 reckoned with the historical development of our


concept of citizenship, beginning under Spanish colonial rule.155 Under the Spanish, the
native inhabitants of the Philippine Islands were identified not as citizens but as
"Spanish subjects."156 Church records show that native inhabitants were referred to as
"indios." The alternative identification of native inhabitants as subjects or as indios
demonstrated the colonial master's regard for native inhabitants as inferior.157Natives
were, thus, reduced to subservience in their own land.

Under the Spanish Constitution of 1876, persons born within Spanish territory, not just
peninsular Spain, were considered Spaniards, classification, however, did not extend to
the Philippine Islands, as Article 89 expressly mandated that the archipelago was to be
governed by special laws.158 It was only on December 18, 1889, upon the effectivity in
this jurisdiction of the Civil Code of Spain, that there existed a categorical enumeration
of who were Spanish citizens,159 thus:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
(a) Persons born in Spanish territory,

(b) Children of a Spanish father or mother, even if they were born outside of Spain,

(c) Foreigners who have obtained naturalization papers,

(d) Those who, without such papers, may have become domiciled inhabitants of any
town of the Monarchy.160
1898 marked the end of Spanish colonial rule. The Philippine Islands were ceded by
Spain to the United States of America under the Treaty of Paris, which was entered into
on December 10, 1898. The Treaty of Paris did not automatically convert the native
inhabitants to American citizens.161 Instead, it left the determination of the native
inhabitants' status to the Congress of the United States:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Spanish subjects, natives of the Peninsula, residing in the territory over which Spain by
the present treaty relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty may remain in such territory or
may remove therefrom. . . . In case they remain in the territory they may preserve their
allegiance to the Crown of Spain by making . . . a declaration of their decision to
preserve such allegiance; in default of which declaration they shall be held to have
renounced it and to have adopted the nationality of the territory in which they may
reside.

Thus -

The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants of the territories hereby
ceded to the United States shall be determined by
Congress.162chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Pending legislation by the United States Congress, the native inhabitants who had
ceased to be Spanish subjects were "issued passports describing them to be citizens of
the Philippines entitled to the protection of the United States."163chanrobleslaw

The term "citizens of the Philippine Islands" first appeared in legislation in the
Philippine Organic Act, otherwise known as the Philippine Bill of 1902:164
Section 4. That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands continuing to reside therein,
who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-
nine, and then resided in said Islands, and their children born subsequent
thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands and
as such entitled to the protection of the United States, except such as shall have elected
to preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of
the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain signed at Paris December tenth,
eighteen hundred and ninety-eight. (Emphasis supplied)
The Philippine Bill of 1902 explicitly covered the status of children born in the
Philippine Islands to its inhabitants who were Spanish subjects as of April 11, 1899.
However, it did not account for the status of children born in the Islands to parents who
were not Spanish subjects. A view was expressed that the common law concept of jus
soli (or citizenship by place of birth), which was operative in the United States, applied
to the Philippine Islands.165chanrobleslaw

On March 23, 1912, the United States Congress amended Section 4 of the Philippine Bill
of 1902. It was made to include a proviso for the enactment by the legislature of a law on
acquiring citizenship. This proviso read:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Provided, That the Philippine Legislature, herein provided for, is hereby authorized to
provide by law for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those natives of the
Philippine Islands who do not come within the foregoing provisions, the natives of the
insular possessions of the United States, and such other persons residing in the
Philippine Islands who are citizens of the United States, or who could become citizens of
the United States under the laws of the United States if residing
therein.166chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
In 1916, the Philippine Autonomy Act, otherwise known as the Jones Law of 1916,
replaced the Philippine Bill of 1902. It restated the citizenship provision of the
Philippine Bill of 1902, as amended:167
Section 2.—Philippine Citizenship and Naturalization

That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh
day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in said Islands, and
their children born subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the
Philippine Islands, except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the
Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace between the
United States and Spain, signed at Paris December tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-
eight, and except such others as have since become citizens of some other country:
Provided, That the Philippine Legislature, herein provided for, is hereby authorized to
provide by law for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those natives of the
Philippine Islands who do not come within the foregoing provisions, the natives of the
insular possessions of the United States, and such other persons residing in the
Philippine Islands who are citizens of the United States, or who could become citizens of
the United States under the laws of the United States if residing therein.
The Jones Law of 1916 provided that a native-born inhabitant of the Philippine Islands
was deemed to be a citizen of the Philippines as of April 11, 1899 if he or she was "(1) a
subject of Spain on April 11, 1899, (2) residing in the Philippines on said date, and (3)
since that date, not a citizen of some other country."168chanrobleslaw

There was previously the view that jus soli may apply as a mode of acquiring citizenship.
It was the 1935 Constitution that made sole reference to parentage vis-a-vis the
determination of citizenship.169 Article III, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution
provided:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SECTION 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of the adoption of
this Constitution.

(2) Those born in the Philippines Islands of foreign parents who, before the
adoption of this Constitution, had been elected to public office in the Philippine
Islands.

(3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines.

(4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and upon reaching the age
of majority, elect Philippine citizenship.

(5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.


The term "natural-born citizen" first appeared in this jurisdiction in the 1935
Constitution's provision stipulating the qualifications for President and Vice-President
of the Philippines. Article VII, Section 3 read:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SECTION 3. No person may be elected to the office of President or Vice-President,
unless he be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a qualified voter, forty years of age
or over, and has been a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately
preceding the election.
While it used the term "natural-born citizen," the 1935 Constitution did not define the
term.

Article II, Section 1(4) of the 1935 Constitution—read with the then civil law provisions
that stipulated the automatic loss of Filipino citizens lip by women who marry alien
husbands—was discriminatory towards women.170 The 1973 Constitution rectified this
problematic situation:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SECTION 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this
Constitution.

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines.

(3) Those who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the
Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-five.

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

SECTION 2. A female citizen of the Philippines who marries an alien shall retain her
Philippine citizenship, unless by her act or omission she is deemed, under the law, to
have renounced her citizenship.171chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The 1973 Constitution was the first instrument to actually define the term "natural-born
citizen." Article III, Section 4 of the 1973 Constitution
provided:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SECTION 4. A natural-born citizen is one who is a citizen of the Philippines from birth
without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his Philippine
citizenship.172chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The present Constitution adopted most of the provisions of the 1973 Constitution on
citizenship, "except for subsection (3) thereof that aimed to correct the irregular
situation generated by the questionable proviso in the 1935
Constitution."173chanrobleslaw

Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution now reads:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary


Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this
Constitution;

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines;

(3) Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.174


Article IV, Section 2 also calibrated the 1973 Constitution's previous definition of
natural-born citizens, as follows:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Sec. 2. Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from
birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their
Philippine citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with
paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens. (Emphasis
supplied)
Ironically, the concept of "natural-born" citizenship is a "foreign" concept that was
transplanted into this jurisdiction as part of the 1935 Constitution's eligibility
requirements for President and Vice-President of the Philippines.

In the United States Constitution, from which this concept originated, the term
"natural-born citizen" appears in only a single instance: as an eligibility requirement for
the presidency.175 It is not defined in that Constitution or in American laws. Its origins
and rationale for inclusion as a requirement for the presidency are not even found in the
records of constitutional deliberations.176 However, it has been suggested that, as the
United States was under British colonial rule before its independence, the requirement
of being natural-born was introduced as a safeguard against foreign infiltration in the
administration of national government:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
It has been suggested, quite plausibly, that this language was inserted in response to a
letter sent by John Jay to George Washington, and probably to other delegates, on July
25, 1787, which stated:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to
the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to
declare expressly that the Command in Chief of the American army shall not be given to
nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.
Possibly this letter was motivated by distrust of Baron Von Steuben, who had served
valiantly in the Revolutionary forces, but whose subsequent loyalty was suspected by
Jay. Another theory is that the Jay letter, and the resulting constitutional provision,
responded to rumors that the Convention was concocting a monarchy to be ruled by a
foreign monarch.177chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
In the United States, however, citizenship is based on jus soli, not jus sanguinis.

V. C

Today, there are only two (2) categories of Filipino citizens: natural-born and
naturalized.

A natural-born citizen is defined in Article IV, Section 2 as one who is a citizen of the
Philippines "from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect
Philippine citizenship." By necessary implication, a naturalized citizen is one who is not
natural-born. Bengson v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal178 articulates this
definition by dichotomy:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
[O]nly naturalized Filipinos are considered not natural-born citizens. It is apparent
from the enumeration of who are citizens under the present Constitution that there are
only two classes of citizens: . . . A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, i.e., did not
have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship,
necessarily is a natural-born Filipino.179chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Former Associate Justice Artemio Panganiban further shed light on the concept of
naturalized citizens in his Concurring Opinion in Bengson: naturalized citizens, he
stated, are "former aliens or foreigners who had to undergo a rigid procedure, in which
they had to adduce sufficient evidence to prove that they possessed all the qualifications
and none of the disqualifications provided by law in order to become Filipino
citizens."180chanrobleslaw

One who desires to acquire Filipino citizenship by naturalization is generally required to


file a verified petition.181 He or she must establish. among others, that he or she is of
legal age, is of good moral character, and has the capacity to adapt to Filipino culture,
tradition, and principles, or otherwise has resided in the Philippines for a significant
period of time.182 Further, the applicant must show that he or she will not be a threat to
the state, to the public, and to the Filipinos' core beliefs.183chanrobleslaw

V. D

Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution merely gives an enumeration. Section 2
categorically defines "natural-born citizens." This constitutional definition is further
clarified in jurisprudence, which delineates natural-born citizenship from naturalized
citizenship. Consistent with Article 8 of the Civil Code, this jurisprudential clarification
is deemed written into the interpreted text, thus establishing its contemporaneous
intent.

Therefore, petitioner's restrictive reliance on Section 1 and the need to establish


bloodline is misplaced. It is inordinately selective and myopic. It divines Section 1's
mere enumeration but blatantly turns a blind eye to the succeeding Section's
unequivocal definition.

Between Article IV, Section 1(2), which petitioner harps on, and Section 2, it is Section 2
that is on point. To determine whether private respondent is a natural-born citizen, we
must look into whether she had to do anything to perfect her citizenship. In view
of Bengson, this calls for an inquiry into whether she underwent the naturalization
process to become a Filipino.

She did not.

At no point has it been substantiated that private respondent went through the actual
naturalization process. There is no more straightforward and more effective way to
terminate this inquiry than this realization of total and utter lack of proof.

At most, there have been suggestions likening a preferential approach to foundlings, as


well as compliance with Republic Act No. 9225, with naturalization. These attempts at
analogies are misplaced. The statutory mechanisms for naturalization are clear, specific,
and narrowly devised. The investiture of citizenship on foundlings benefits children,
individuals whose capacity to act is restricted.184 It is a glaring mistake to liken them to
an adult filing before the relevant authorities a sworn petition seeking to become a
Filipino, the grant of which is contingent on evidence that he or she must himself or
herself adduce. As shall later be discussed, Republic Act No. 9225 is premised on the
immutability of natural-born status. It privileges natural-born citizens and proceeds
from an entirely different premise from the restrictive process of naturalization.

So too, the jurisprudential treatment of naturalization vis-a-vis natural-born status is


clear. It should be with the actual process of naturalization that natural-born status is to
be contrasted, not against other procedures relating to citizenship. Otherwise, the door
may be thrown open for the unbridled diminution of the status of citizens.

V. E

Natural-born citizenship is not concerned with being a human thoroughbred.

Section 2 defines "natural-born citizens." Section 1(2) stipulates that to be a citizen,


either one's father or one's mother must be a Filipino citizen.

That is all there is to Section 1(2). Physical features, genetics, pedigree, and ethnicity are
not determinative of citizenship.

Section 1(2) does not require one's parents to be natural-born Filipino citizens. It does
not even require them to conform to traditional conceptions of what is indigenously or
ethnically Filipino. One or both parents can, therefore, be ethnically foreign.

Section 1(2) requires nothing more than one ascendant degree: parentage. The
citizenship of everyone else in one's ancestry is irrelevant. There is no need, as petitioner
insists, for a pure Filipino bloodline.

Section 1(2) requires citizenship, not identity. A conclusion of Filipino citizenship may
be sustained by evidence adduced in a proper proceeding, which substantially proves
that either or both of one's parents is a Filipino citizen.

V. F

Private respondent has done this. The evidence she adduced in these proceedings attests
to how at least one—if not both—of her biological parents were Filipino citizens.

Proving private respondent's biological parentage is now practically impossible. To


begin with, she was abandoned as a newborn infant. She was abandoned almost half a
century ago. By now, there are only a handful of those who, in 1968, were able-minded
adults who can still lucidly render testimonies on the circumstances of her birth and
finding. Even the identification of individuals against whom DNA evidence may be
tested is improbable, and by sheer economic cost, prohibitive.

However, our evidentiary rules admit of alternative means for private respondent to
establish her parentage.

In lieu of direct evidence, facts may be proven through circumstantial evidence.


In Suerte-Felipe v. People:185
Direct evidence is that which proves the fact in dispute without the aid of any inference
or presumption; while circumstantial evidence is the proof of fact or facts from which,
taken either singly or collectively, the existence of a particular fact in dispute may be
inferred as a necessary or probable consequence.186chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
People v. Raganas187 further defines circumstantial
evidence:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Circumstantial evidence is that which relates to a series of facts other than the fact in
issue, which by experience have been found so associated with such fact that in a
relation of cause and effect, they lead us to a satisfactory conclusion.188 (Citation
omitted)
Rule 133, Section 4 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, for instance, stipulates when
circumstantial evidence is sufficient to justify a conviction in criminal
proceedings:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Section 4. Circumstantial evidence, when sufficient. — Circumstantial evidence is
sufficient for conviction if:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary(a) There is more than one circumstances;

(b) The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and cralawlawlibrary

(c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond
reasonable doubt.
Although the Revised Rules on Evidence's sole mention of circumstantial evidence is in
reference to criminal proceedings, this Court has nevertheless sustained the use of
circumstantial evidence in other proceedings.189 There is no rational basis for making
the use of circumstantial evidence exclusive to criminal proceedings and for not
considering circumstantial facts as valid means for proof in civil and/or administrative
proceedings.

In criminal proceedings, circumstantial evidence suffices to sustain a conviction (which


may result in deprivation of life, liberty, and property) anchored on the highest standard
or proof that our legal system would require, i.e., proof beyond reasonable doubt. If
circumstantial evidence suffices for such a high standard, so too may it suffice to satisfy
the less stringent standard of proof in administrative and quasi-judicial proceedings
such as those before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, i.e., substantial
evidence.190chanrobleslaw

Private respondent was found as a newborn infant outside the Parish Church of Jaro,
Iloilo on September 3, 1968.191 In 1968, Iloilo, as did most—if not all—Philippine
provinces, had a predominantly Filipino population.192 Private respondent is described
as having "brown almond-shaped eyes, a low nasal bridge, straight black hair and an
oval-shaped face."193 She stands at 5 feet and 2 inches tall.194Further, in 1968, there was
no international airport in Jaro, Iloilo.

These circumstances are substantial evidence justifying an inference that her biological
parents were Filipino. Her abandonment at a Catholic Church is more or less consistent
with how a Filipino who, in 1968, lived in a predominantly religious and Catholic
environment, would have behaved. The absence of an international airport in Jaro,
Iloilo precludes the possibility of a foreigner mother, along with a foreigner father,
swiftly and surreptitiously coming in and out of Jaro, Iloilo just to give birth and leave
her offspring there. Though proof of ethnicity is unnecessary, her physical features
nonetheless attest to it.

In the other related case of Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections,195 the


Solicitor General underscored how it is statistically more probable that private
respondent was born a Filipino citizen rather than as a foreigner. He submitted the
following table is support of his statistical inference:196
NUMBER OF FOREIGN AND FILIPINO CHILDREN BORN IN THE PHILIPPINES:
1965-1975 and 2010-2014

FOREIGN CHILDREN BORN IN FILIPINO CHILDREN BORN IN


YEAR
THE PHILIPPINES THE PHILIPPINES

1965 1,479 795,415

1966 1,437 823,342

1967 1,440 840,302

1968 1,595 898,570

1969 1,728 946,753

1970 1,521 966,762

1971 1,401 963,749

1972 1,784 968,385

1973 1,212 1,045,290

1974 1,496 1,081,873

1975 1,493 1,223,837

2010 1,244 1,782,877

2011 1,140 1,746,685

2012 1,454 1,790,367

2013 1,315 1,751,523

2014 1,351 1,748,782


Source: Philippine Statistics Authority [illegible]197chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Thus, out of the 900,165 recorded births in the Philippines in 1968, only 1,595 or 0.18%
newborns were foreigners. This translates to roughly 99.8% probability that private
respondent was born a Filipino citizen.

Given the sheer difficulty, if not outright impossibility, of identifying her parents after
half a century, a range of substantive proof is available to sustain a reasonable
conclusion as to private respondent's parentage.

VI

Before a discussion on how private respondent's natural-born status is sustained by a


general assumption on foundlings arising from a comprehensive reading and validated
by a contemporaneous construction of the Constitution, and considering that we have
just discussed the evidence pertaining to the circumstances of private respondent's
birth, it is opportune to consider petitioner's allegations that private respondent bore
the burden of proving—through proof of her bloodline—her natural-born status.

Petitioner's claim that the burden of evidence shifted to private respondent upon a mere
showing that she is a foundling is a serious error.

Petitioner invites this Court to establish a jurisprudential presumption that all newborns
who have been abandoned in rural areas in the Philippines are not Filipinos. His
emphasis on private respondent's supposed burden to prove the circumstances of her
birth places upon her an impossible condition. To require proof from private respondent
borders on the absurd when there is no dispute that the crux of the controversy—the
identity of her biological parents—is simply not known.

"Burden of proof is the duty of a party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary
to establish his claim or defense by the amount of evidence required by law." Burden of
proof lies on the party making the allegations;198 that is, the party who "alleges the
affirmative of the issue"199 Burden of proof never shifts from one party to another. What
shifts is the burden of evidence. This shift happens when a party makes a prima facie
case in his or her favor.200 The other party then bears the "burden of going
forward"201 with the evidence considering that which has ostensibly been established
against him or her.

In an action for quo warranto, the burden of proof necessarily falls on the party who
brings the action and who alleges that the respondent is ineligible for the office involved
in the controversy. In proceedings before quasi-judicial bodies such as the Senate
Electoral Tribunal, the requisite quantum of proof is substantial evidence.202 This
burden was petitioner's to discharge. Once the petitioner makes a prima facie case, the
burden of evidence shifts to the respondent.

Private respondent's admitted status as a foundling does not establish a prima facie case
in favor of petitioner. While it does establish that the identities of private respondent's
biological parents are not known, it does not automatically mean that neither her father
nor her mother is a Filipino.

The most that petitioner had in his favor was doubt. A taint of doubt, however, is by no
means substantial evidence establishing a prima facie case and shifting the burden of
evidence to private respondent.

Isolating the fact of private respondent's being a foundling, petitioner trivializes other
uncontroverted circumstances that we have previously established as substantive
evidence of private respondent's parentage:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
(1) Petitioner was found in front of a church in Jaro, Iloilo;

(2) She was only an infant when she was found, practically a newborn;

(3) She was-found sometime in September 1968;

(4) Immediately after she was found, private respondent was registered as a
foundling;

(5) There was no international airport in Jaro, Iloilo; and

(6) Private respondent's physical features are consistent with those of typical
Filipinos.
Petitioner's refusal to account for these facts demonstrates an imperceptive bias. As
against petitioner's suggested conclusions, the more reasonable inference from these
facts is that at least one of private respondent's parents is a Filipino.

VII

Apart from how private respondent is a natural-born Filipino citizen consistent with a
reading that harmonizes Article IV, Section 2's definition of natural-born citizens and
Section 1(2)'s reference to parentage, the Constitution sustains a presumption that all
foundlings found in the Philippines are born to at least either a Filipino father or a
Filipino mother and are thus natural-born, unless there is substantial proof otherwise.
Consistent with Article IV, Section 1(2), any such countervailing proof must show that
both—not just one—of a foundling's biological parents are not Filipino citizens.

VII. A
Quoting heavily from Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro's Dissenting
Opinion to the assailed November 17, 2015 Decision, petitioner intimates that no
inference or presumption in favor of natural-born citizenship may be indulged in
resolving this case.203 He insists that it is private respondent's duty to present
incontrovertible proof of her Filipino parentage.

Relying on presumptions is concededly less than ideal. Common sense dictates that
actual proof is preferable. Nevertheless, resolving citizenship issues based on
presumptions is firmly established in jurisprudence.

In 2004, this Court resolved Tecson on the basis of presumptions. Ruling on the
allegations that former presidential candidate Ronald Allan Poe (more popularly known
as Fernando Poe, Jr.) was not a natural-born Filipino citizen, this Court proceeded from
the presumptions that: first, Fernando Poe Jr.'s grandfather, Lorenzo Pou, was born
sometime in 1870, while the country was still under Spanish colonial rule;204 and
second, that Lorenzo Pou's place of residence, as indicated in his dearth certificate, must
have also been his place of residence before death, which subjected him to the "en masse
Filipinization," or sweeping investiture of Filipino citizenship effected by the Philippine
Bill of 1902.205 This Court then noted that Lorenzo Pou's citizenship would have
extended to his son and Fernando Poe Jr.'s father, Allan F. Poe. Based on these,
Fernando Poe. Jr. would then have been a natural-born Filipino as he was born while
the 1935 Constitution, which conferred Filipino citizenship to those born to Filipino
fathers, was in effect:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
In ascertaining, in G.R. No. 161824, whether grave abuse of discretion has been
committed by the COMELEC, it is necessary to take on the matter of whether or not
respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen, which, in turn, depended on whether or not
the father of respondent, Allan F. Poe, would have himself been a Filipino citizen and, in
the affirmative, whether or not the alleged illegitimacy of respondent prevents him from
taking after the Filipino citizenship of his putative father. Any conclusion on the Filipino
citizenship of Lorenzo Pou could only be drawn from the presumption that having died
in 1954 at 84 years old, when the Philippines was under Spanish rule, and that San
Carlos, Pangasinan, his place of residence upon his death in 1954, in the absence of any
other evidence, could have well been his place of residence before death, such that
Lorenzo Pou would have benefited from the "en masse Filipinization" that the
Philippine Bill had effected in 1902. That citizenship (of Lorenzo Pou), if acquired,
would thereby extend to his son, Allan F. Poe, father of respondent FPJ. The 1935
Constitution, during which regime respondent FPJ has seen first light, confers
citizenship to all persons whose fathers are Filipino citizens regardless of whether such
children are legitimate or illegitimate.206chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
It is true that there is jurisprudence—Paa v. Chan207 and Go v. Ramos208 (which merely
cites Paa)—to the effect that presumptions cannot be entertained in citizenship cases.

Paa, decided in 1967, stated:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary


It is incumbent upon the respondent, who claims Philippine citizenship, to prove to the
satisfaction of the court that he is really a Filipino. No presumption can be indulged in
favor of the claimant, of Philippine citizenship, and any doubt regarding citizenship
must be resolved in favor of the State.209 (Emphasis supplied)
These pronouncements are no longer controlling in light of this Court's more recent
ruling in Tecson.

Moreover, what this Court stated in Paa was that "no presumption can be indulged in
favor of theclaimant of Philippine citizenship." This reference to "the claimant" was
preceded by a sentence specifically referencing the duty of "the respondent." The syntax
of this Court's pronouncement—using the definitive article "the"—reveals that its
conclusion was specific only to Chan and to his circumstances. Otherwise, this Court
would have used generic language. Instead of the definite article "the," it could have
used the indefinite article "a" in that same sentence: "no presumption can be indulged in
favor of aclaimant of Philippine citizenship." In the alternative, it could have used other
words that would show absolute or sweeping application, for instance: "no presumption
can be indulged in favor of any/everyclaimant of Philippine citizenship;" or, "no
presumption can be indulged in favor of all claimants of Philippine citizenship."

The factual backdrop of Paa is markedly different from those of this case. Its
statements, therefore, are inappropriate precedents for this case. In Paa, clear evidence
was adduced showing that respondent Quintin Chan was registered as an alien with the
Bureau of Immigration. His father was likewise registered as an alien. These pieces of
evidence already indubitably establish foreign citizenship and shut the door to any
presumption. In contrast, petitioner in this case presents no proof, direct or
circumstantial, of private respondent's or of both of her parents' foreign citizenship.

Go cited Paa, taking the same quoted portion but revising it to make it appear that the
same pronouncement was generally applicable:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
It is incumbent upon one who claims Philippine citizenship to prove to the satisfaction
of the court that he is really a Filipino. No presumption can be indulged hi favor of the
claimant of Philippine citizenship, and any doubt regarding citizenship must be resolved
in favor of the state.210 (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, Paa's essential and pivotal nuance was lost in proverbial translation. In any case,
Go was decided by this Court sitting in Division. It cannot overturn Tecson, which was
decided by this Court sitting En Banc. Likewise, Go's factual and even procedural
backdrops are different from those of this case. Goinvolved the deportation of an
allegedly illegal and undesirable alien, not an election controversy. In Go, copies of birth
certificates unequivocally showing the Chinese citizenship of Go and of his siblings were
adduced.

VII. B

The presumption that all foundlings found in the Philippines are born to at least either a
Filipino father or a Filipino mother (and are thus natural-born, unless there is
substantial proof otherwise) arises when one reads the Constitution as a whole, so as to
"effectuate [its] whole purpose."211chanrobleslaw
As much as we have previously harmonized Article IV, Section 2 with Article IV, Section
1(2), constitutional provisions on citizenship must not be taken in isolation. They must
be read in light of the constitutional mandate to defend the well-being of children, to
guarantee equal protection of the law and equal access to opportunities for public
service, and to respect human rights. They must also be read in conjunction with the
Constitution's reasons for requiring natural-born status for select public offices. Further,
this presumption is validated by contemporaneous construction that considers related
legislative enactments, executive and administrative actions, and international
instruments.

Article II, Section 13 and Article XV, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution require the state
to enhance children's well-being and to project them from conditions prejudicial to or
that may undermine their development. Fulfilling this mandate includes preventing
discriminatory conditions and, especially, dismantling mechanisms for discrimination
that hide behind the veneer of the legal apparatus:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
ARTICLE II

....

State Policies

....

SECTION 13. The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building
and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual,
and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and
encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.

....

ARTICLE XV
The Family

....

SECTION 3. The State shall defend:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary. . . .

(2) The right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition,
and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty,
exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development[.]
(Emphasis supplied)
Certain crucial government offices are exclusive to natural-born citizens of the
Philippines. The 1987 Constitution makes the following offices exclusive to natural-born
citizens:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
(1) President;212

(2) Vice-President;213

(3) Senator;214

(4) Member of the House of Representatives;215

(5) Member of the Supreme Court or any lower collegiate court;216

(6) Chairperson and Commissioners of the Civil Service Commission;217

(7) Chairperson and Commissioners of the Commission on Elections;218

(8) Chairperson and Commissioners of the Commission on Audit;219

(9) Ombudsman and his or her deputies;220

(10) Board of Governors of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas;221 and

(11) Chairperson and Members of the Commission on Human Rights.222


Apart from these, other positions that are limited to natural-born citizens include,
among others, city fiscals,223 assistant city fiscals,224 Presiding Judges and Associate
Judges of the Sandiganbayan, and other public offices.225 Certain professions are also
limited to natural-born citizens,226 as are other legally established benefits and
incentives.227chanrobleslaw

Concluding that foundlings are not natural-born Filipino citizens is tantamount to


permanently discriminating against our foundling citizens. They can then never be of
service to the country in the highest possible capacities. It is also tantamount to
excluding them from certain means such as professions and state scholarships, which
will enable the actualization of their aspirations. These consequences cannot be
tolerated by the Constitution, not least of all through the present politically charged
proceedings, the direct objective of which is merely to exclude a singular politician from
office. Concluding that foundlings are not natural-born citizens creates an inferior class
of citizens who are made to suffer that inferiority through no fault of their own.

If that is not discrimination, we do not know what is.

The Constitution guarantees equal protection of the laws and equal access to
opportunities for public service:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
ARTICLE II

....

State Policies

....
SECTION 26. The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for
public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.

....

ARTICLE III
Bill of Rights

SECTION 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process
of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

....

ARTICLE XIII
Social Justice and Human Rights

SECTION 1. The Congress shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures
that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity,
reduce social, economic, and political inequalities, and remove cultural
inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the
common good. (Emphasis supplied)
The equal protection clause serves as a guarantee that "persons under like
circumstances and falling within the same class are treated alike, in terms of 'privileges
conferred and liabilities enforced.' It is a guarantee against 'undue favor and individual
or class privilege, as well as hostile discrimination or oppression of
inequality.'"228chanrobleslaw

Other than the anonymity of their biological parents, no substantial


distinction229 differentiates foundlings from children with known Filipino parents. They
are both entitled to the full extent of the state's protection from the moment of their
birth. Foundlings' misfortune in failing to identify the parents who abandoned them—an
inability arising from no fault of their own—cannot be the foundation of a rule that
reduces them to statelessness or, at best, as inferior, second-class citizens who are not
entitled to as much benefits and protection from the state as those who know their
parents. Sustaining this classification is not only inequitable; it is dehumanizing. It
condemns those who, from the very beginning of their lives, were abandoned to a life of
desolation and deprivation.

This Court does not exist in a vacuum. It is a constitutional organ, mandated to effect
the Constitution's dictum of defending and promoting the well-being and development
of children. It is not our business to reify discriminatory classes based on circumstances
of birth.

Even more basic than their being citizens of the Philippines, foundlings are human
persons whose dignity we value and rights we, as a civilized nation, respect.
Thus:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
ARTICLE II

....

State Policies

....

SECTION 11. The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full
respect for human rights. (Emphasis supplied)
VII. C

Though the matter is settled by interpretation exclusively within the confines of


constitutional text, the presumption that foundlings are natural-born citizens of the
Philippines (unless substantial evidence of the foreign citizenship of both of the
foundling's parents is presented) is validated by a parallel consideration or
contemporaneous construction of the Constitution with acts of Congress, international
instruments in force in the Philippines, as well as acts of executive organs such as the
Bureau of Immigration, Civil Registrars, and the President of the Philippines.

Congress has enacted statutes founded on the premise that foundlings are Filipino
citizens at birth. It has adopted mechanisms to effect the constitutional mandate to
protect children. Likewise, the Senate has ratified treaties that put this mandate into
effect.

Republic Act No. 9344, otherwise known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of
2006, provides:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SEC. 2. Declaration of State Policy. - The following State policies shall be observed
at all times:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary. . . .

(b) The State shall protect the best interests of the child through measures
that will ensure the observance of international standards of child
protection, especially those to which the Philippines is a party. Proceedings
before any authority shall be conducted in the best interest of the child and in a manner
which allows the child to participate and to express himself/herself freely. The
participation of children in the program and policy formulation and implementation
related to juvenile justice and welfare shall be ensured by the concerned government
agency. (Emphasis supplied)
Section 4(b) of the Republic Act No. 9344 defines the "best interest of the child" as the
"totality of the circumstances and conditions which are most congenial to the survival,
protection and feelings of security of the child and most encouraging to the child's
physical, psychological and emotional development."

Consistent with this statute is our ratification230 of the United Nations Convention on
the Rights of the Child. This specifically requires the states-parties' protection of: first,
children's rights to immediate registration and nationality after birth; second, against
statelessness; and third, against discrimination on account of their birth
status.231 Pertinent portions of the Convention read:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Preamble

The State Parties to the present Convention,

Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the
United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and
inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of
freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Bearing in mind that the peoples of the United Nations have, in the
Charter, reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights and in the
dignity and worth of the human person, and have determined to promote social
progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Recognizing that the United Nations has, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and in the International Covenants on Human Rights, proclaimed and agreed
that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth
therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language,
religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or
other status,

Recalling that, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has
proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance,

....

Have agreed as follows:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary. . . .

Article 2

1. State parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present
Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without
discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or
her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion,
political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property,
disability, birth or other status.

2. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that


the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or
punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions,
or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.
Article 3

1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or


private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative
authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall
be a primary consideration.

2. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and


care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account
the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other
individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take
all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.

....

Article 7

1. The child, shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have
the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and
as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in


accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant
international instruments in this field, in particular where the child
would otherwise be stateless. (Emphasis supplied)

The Philippines likewise ratified232 the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights. As with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, this treaty requires
that children be allowed immediate registration after birth and to acquire a nationality.
It similarly defends them against discrimination:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Article 24. . . .

1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex,
language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such
measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family,
society and the State.

2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.

3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.

....

Article 26. All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any
discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law
shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and
effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour,
sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status. (Emphasis supplied)
Treaties are "international agreements] concluded between state| in written form and
governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or
more related instruments and whatever its particular designation."233 Under Article VII,
Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution, treaties require concurrence by the Senate before
they became binding:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SECTION 21. No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless
concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.
The Senate's ratification of a treaty makes it legally effective and binding by
transformation. It then has the force and effect of a statute enacted by Congress.
In Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Duque III, et
al.:234
Under the 1987 Constitution, international law can become part of the sphere of
domestic law either by transformation or incorporation. The transformation method
requires that an international law be transformed into a domestic law through a
constitutional mechanism such as local legislation. The incorporation method applies
when, by mere constitutional declaration, international law is deemed to have the force
of domestic law.

Treaties become part of the law of the land through transformation pursuant to Article
VII, Section 21 of the Constitution which provides that "[n]o treaty or international
agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all
the members of the Senate." Thus, treaties or conventional international law must go
through a process prescribed by the Constitution for it to be transformed into
municipal law that can be applied to domestic conflicts.235 (Emphasis supplied)
Following ratification by the Senate, no further action, legislative or otherwise, is
necessary. Thereafter, the whole of government—including the judiciary—is duty-bound
to abide by the treaty, consistent with the maxim pacta sunt servanda.

Accordingly, by the Constitution and by statute, foundlings cannot be the object of


discrimination. They are vested with the rights to be registered and granted nationality
upon birth. To deny them these rights, deprive them of citizenship, and render them
stateless is to unduly burden them, discriminate them, and undermine their
development.

Not only Republic Act No. 9344, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights effect the constitutional dictum of
promoting the well-being of children and protecting them from discrimination. Other
legislative enactments demonstrate the intent to treat foundlings as Filipino citizens
from birth.

Republic Act No. 8552, though briefly referred to as the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998,
is formally entitled An Act Establishing the Rules and Policies on Domestic Adoption of
Filipino Children and for Other Purposes. It was enacted as a mechanism to "provide
alternative protection and assistance through foster care or adoption of every child who
is neglected, orphaned, or abandoned."236chanrobleslaw

Foundlings are explicitly among the "Filipino children" covered by Republic Act No.
8552:237
SECTION 5. Location of Unknown Parent(s). — It shall be the duty of the Department
or the child-placing or child-caring agency which has custody of the child to exert all
efforts to locate his/her unknown biological parent(s). If such efforts fail, the child
shall be registered as a foundling and subsequently be the subject of legal
proceedings where he/she shall be declared abandoned. (Emphasis supplied)
Similarly, Republic Act No. 8043, though briefly referred to as the Inter-Country
Adoption Act of 1995, is formally entitled An Act Establishing the Rules to Govern Inter-
Country Adoption of Filipino Children, and for Other Purposes. As with Republic
Act No. 8552, it expressly includes foundlings among "Filipino children" who may be
adopted:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SECTION 8. Who May Be Adopted. — Only a legally free child may be the subject of
inter-country adoption, hi order that such child may be considered for placement, the
following documents must be submitted: to the Board:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary a) Child study;

b) Birth certificate/foundling certificate;

c) Deed of voluntary commitment/decree of abandonment/death certificate of


parents;

d) Medical evaluation/history;

e) Psychological evaluation, as necessary; and cralawlawlibrary

f) Recent photo of the child. (Emphasis supplied)


In the case of foundlings, foundling certificates may be presented in lieu of
authenticated birth certificates to satisfy the requirement for the issuance of passports,
which will then facilitate their adoption by foreigners:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SECTION 5. If the applicant is an adopted person, he must present a certified true copy
of the Court Order of Adoption, certified true copy of his original and amended birth
certificates as issued by the OCRG. If the applicant is a minor, a Clearance from the
DSWD shall be required. In case the applicant is for adoption by foreign parents under
R.A. No. 8043, the following, shall be required:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

a) Certified true copy of the Court Decree of Abandonment of Child, the Death
Certificate of the child's parents, or the Deed of Voluntary Commitment executed
after the birth of the child.
b) Endorsement of child to the Intercountry Adoption Board by the DSWD.

c) Authenticated Birth or Foundling Certificate.238 (Emphasis supplied)


Our statutes on adoption allow for the recognition of foundlings' Filipino citizenship on
account of their birth. They benefit from this without having to do any act to perfect
their citizenship or without having to complete the naturalization process. Thus, by
definition, they are natural-born citizens.

Specifically regarding private respondent, several acts of executive organs have


recognized her natural-born status. This status was never questioned throughout her
life; that is, until circumstances made it appear that she was a viable candidate for
President of the Philippines. Until this, as well as the proceedings in the related case
of Poe-Llamanzares, private respondent's natural-born status has been affirmed and
reaffirmed through various official public acts.

First, private respondent was issued a foundling certificate and benefitted from the
domestic adoption process. Second, on July 18, 2006, she was granted an order of
reacquisition of natural-born citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 by the Bureau of
Immigration. Third, on October 6, 2010, the President of the Philippines appointed her
as MTRCB Chairperson—an office that requires natural-born
citizenship.239chanrobleslaw

VIII

As it is settled that private respondent's being a foundling is not a bar to natural-born


citizenship, petitioner's proposition as to her inability to benefit from Republic Act No.
9225 crumbles. Private respondent, a natural-born Filipino citizen, re-acquired natural-
born Filipino citizenship when, following her naturalization as a citizen of the United
States, she complied with the requisites of Republic Act No. 9225.

VIII. A

"Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the manner provided by


law."240 Commonwealth Act No. 63, which was in effect when private respondent was
naturalized an American citizen on October 18, 2001, provided in Section 1(1) that "[a]
Filipino citizen may lose his citizenship . . . [b]y naturalization in a foreign country."
Thus, private respondent lost her Philippine citizenship when she was naturalized an
American citizen. However, on July 7, 2006, she took her Oath of Allegiance to the
Republic of the Philippines under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225. Three (3) days
later, July 10, 2006, she filed before the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation a
Petition for Reacquisition of her Philippine citizenship. Shortly after, this Petition was
granted.241chanrobleslaw

Republic Act No. 9225 superseded Commonwealth Act No. 63242 and Republic Act No.
8171243specifically "to do away with the provision in Commonwealth Act No. 63 which
takes away Philippine citizenship from natural-born Filipinos who become naturalized
citizens of other countries."244chanrobleslaw

The citizenship regime put in place by Republic Act No. 9225 is designed, in its own
words, to ensure "that all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country
shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship."245 This Court shed light on
this in Calilung v. Commission on Elections:246 "[w]hat 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."247chanrobleslaw

Republic Act No. 9225 made natural-born Filipinos' status permanent and immutable
despite naturalization as citizens of other countries. To effect this, Section 3 of Republic
Act No. 9225 provides:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SEC. 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship. — Any provision of law to the contrary
notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine
citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby
deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of
allegiance to the Republic:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
"I _________________________, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support
and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and
legal orders promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I
hereby declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the Philippines and
will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; and that I impose this obligation upon
myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion."
Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act, become
citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the
aforesaid oath.
Section 3's implications are clear. Natural-born Philippine citizens who, after Republic
Act 9225 took effect, are naturalized in foreign countries "retain," that is, keep, their
Philippine citizenship, although the effectivity of this retention and the ability to
exercise the rights and capacities attendant to this status are subject to certain
solemnities (i.e., oath of allegiance and other requirements for specific rights and/or
acts, as enumerated in Section 5). On the other hand, those who became citizens of
another country before the effectivity of Republic Act No. 9225 "reacquire" their
Philippine citizenship and may exercise attendant rights and capacities, also upon
compliance with certain solemnities. Read in conjunction with Section 2's declaration of
a policy of immutability, this reacquisition is not a mere restoration that leaves a
vacuum in the intervening period. Rather, this reacquisition works to restore natural-
born status as though it was never lost at all.

VIII. B

Taking the Oath of Allegiance effects the retention or reacquisition of natural-born


citizenship. It also facilitates the enjoyment of civil and political rights, "subject to all
attendant liabilities and responsibilities."248 However, other conditions must be met for
the exercise of other faculties:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Sec. 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:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

(1) Those intending to exercise their right of suffrage must meet the
requirements under Section 1, Article V of the Constitution, Republic Act
No. 9189, otherwise known as "the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003"
and other existing laws;

(2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the
qualifications 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;

(3) Those appointed to any public office shall subscribe and swear to an oath
of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and its duly
constituted authorities prior to their assumption of
office; Provided, That they renounce their oath of allegiance to the country
where they took that oath;

(4) Those intending to practice their profession in the Philippines shall apply
with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice;
and

(5) That the right to vote or be elected or appointed to any public office in the
Philippines cannot be exercised by, or extended to, those who:

a. are candidates for or are occupying any public office in the country of which
they are naturalized citizens; and/or
b. are in active service as commissioned or noncommissioned officers in the
armed forces of the country which they are naturalized citizens. (Emphasis
supplied)
Thus, natural-born Filipinos who have been naturalized elsewhere and wish to run for
elective public office must comply with all of the following requirements:

chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryFirst, taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic. This


effects the retention or reacquisition of one's status as a natural-born Filipino.249 This
also enables the enjoyment of full civil and political rights, subject to all attendant
liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws, provided the solemnities recited in
Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9225 are satisfied.250chanrobleslaw

Second, compliance with Article V, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution,251 Republic Act
No. 9189, otherwise known as the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003, and other
existing laws. This is to facilitate the exercise of the right of suffrage; that is, to allow for
voting in elections.252chanrobleslaw

Third, "mak[ing] a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship
before any public officer authorized to administer an oath."253 This, along with satisfying
the other qualification requirements under relevant laws, makes one eligible for elective
public office.

As explained in Sobejana-Condon v. Commission on Elections,254 this required sworn


renunciation is intended to complement Article XI, Section 18 of the Constitution in that
"[p]ublic officers and employees owe the State and this Constitution allegiance at all
times and any public officer or employee who seeks to change his citizenship or acquire
the status of an immigrant of another country during his tenure shall be dealt with by
law."255 It is also in view of this that Section 5(5) similarly bars those who seek or occupy
public office elsewhere and/or who are serving in the armed forces of other countries
from being appointed or elected to public office in the Philippines.

VIII. C

Private respondent has complied with all of these requirements. First, on July 7, 2006,
she took the Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.256 Second, on August
31, 2006, she became a registered voter of Barangay Santa Lucia, San Juan.257 This
evidences her compliance with Article V, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution. Since she
was to vote within the country, this dispensed with the need to comply with the
Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003. Lastly, on October 20, 2010, she executed an
Affidavit of Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States of America and
Renunciation of American Citizenship.258This was complemented by her execution of an
Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation of Nationality of the United States259 before Vice-
Consul Somer E. Bessire-Briers on July 12, 2011,260 which was, in turn, followed by Vice
Consul Jason Galian's issuance of a Certificate of Loss of Nationality on December 9,
2011261 and the approval of this certificate by the Overseas Citizen Service, Department
of State, on February 3, 2012.262chanrobleslaw
Private respondent has, therefore, not only fully reacquired natural-born citizenship;
she has also complied with all of the other requirements for eligibility to elective public
office, as stipulated in Republic Act No. 9225.

VIII. D

It is incorrect to intimate that private respondent's having had to comply with Republic
Act No. 9225 shows that she is a naturalized, rather than a natural-born, Filipino citizen.
It is wrong to postulate that compliance with Republic Act No. 9225 signifies the
performance of acts to perfect citizenship.

To do so is to completely disregard the unequivocal policy of permanence and


immutability as articulated in Section 2 of Republic Act No. 9225 and as illuminated in
jurisprudence. It is to erroneously assume that a natural-born Filipino citizen's
naturalization elsewhere is an irreversible termination of his or her natural-born status.

To belabor the point, those who take the Oath of Allegiance under Section 3 of Republic
Act No. 9225 reacquire natural-born citizenship. The prefix "re" signifies reference to
the preceding state of affairs. It is to this status quo ante that one returns. "Re"-
acquiring can only mean a reversion to "the way things were." Had Republic Act No.
9225 intended to mean the investiture of an entirely new status, it should not have used
a word such as "reacquire." Republic Act No. 9225, therefore, does not operate to make
new citizens whose citizenship commences only from the moment of compliance with its
requirements.

Bengson, speaking on the analogous situation of repatriation, ruled that repatriation


involves the restoration of former status or the recovery of one's original
nationality:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality. This means
that a naturalized Filipino who lost his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a
naturalized Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born
citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his former status
as a natural-born Filipino.263 (Emphasis supplied)
Although Bengson was decided while Commonwealth Act No. 63 was in force, its ruling
is in keeping with Republic Act No. 9225 's policy of permanence and immutablity: "all
Philippine citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine
citizenship."264 In Bengson's words, the once naturalized citizen is "restored" or brought
back to his or her natural-born status. There may have been an interruption in the
recognition of this status, as, in the interim, he or she was naturalized elsewhere, but the
restoration of natural-born status expurgates this intervening fact. Thus, he or she does
not become a Philippine citizen only from the point of restoration and moving forward.
He or she is recognized, de jure, as a Philippine citizen from birth, although the
intervening fact may have consequences de facto.

Republic Act No. 9225 may involve extended processes not limited to taking the Oath of
Allegiance and requiring compliance with additional solemnities, but these are for
facilitating the enjoyment of other incidents to citizenship, not for effecting the
reacquisition of natural-born citizenship itself. Therefore, it is markedly different from
naturalization as there is no singular, extended process with which the former natural-
born citizen must comply.

IX

To hold, as petitioner suggests, that private respondent is stateless265 is not only to set a
dangerous and callous precedent. It is to make this Court an accomplice to injustice.

Equality, the recognition of the humanity of every individual, and social justice are the
bedrocks of our constitutional order. By the unfortunate fortuity of the inability or
outright irresponsibility of those gave them life, foundlings are compelled to begin their
very existence at a disadvantage. Theirs is a continuing destitution that can never be
truly remedied by any economic relief.

If we are to make the motives of our Constitution true, then we an never tolerate an
interpretation that condemns foundlings to an even greater misfortune because of their
being abandoned. The Constitution cannot be rendered inert and meaningless for them
by mechanical judicial fiat.

Dura lex sed lex is not a callous and unthinking maxim to be deployed against other
reasonable interpretations of our basic law. It does command us to consider legal text,
but always with justice in mind.

It is the empowering and ennobling interpretation of the Constitution that we must


always sustain. Not only will this manner of interpretation edify the less fortunate; it
establishes us, as Filipinos, as a humane and civilized people.

The Senate Electoral Tribunal acted well within the bounds of its constitutional
competence when it ruled that private respondent is a natural-born citizen qualified to
sit as Senator of the Republic. Contrary to petitioner's arguments, there is no basis for
annulling its assailed Decision and Resolution.

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Certiorari is DISMISSED. Public respondent Senate


Electoral Tribunal did not act without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse
of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in rendering its assailed
November 17, 2015 Decision and December 3, 2015 Resolution.

Private respondent Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino citizen


qualified to hold office as Senator of the Republic.

SO ORDERED.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

EN BANC

G.R. No. 161434 March 3, 2004


MARIA JEANETTE C. TECSON and FELIX B. DESIDERIO, JR., petitioners,
vs.
The COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, RONALD ALLAN KELLY POE (a.k.a.
FERNANDO POE, JR.) and VICTORINO X. FORNIER, respondents.

x-----------------------------x

G.R. No. 161634 March 3, 2004

ZOILO ANTONIO VELEZ, petitioner,


vs.
RONALD ALLAN KELLEY POE, a.k.a. FERNANDO POE, JR., respondent.

x-----------------------------x

G. R. No. 161824 March 3, 2004

VICTORINO X. FORNIER, petitioner,


vs.
HON. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and RONALD ALLAN KELLEY POE,
ALSO KNOWN AS FERNANDO POE JR., respondents.

DECISION

VITUG, J.:

Citizenship is a treasured right conferred on those whom the state believes


are deserving of the privilege. It is a "precious heritage, as well as an
inestimable acquisition,"1 that cannot be taken lightly by anyone - either by
those who enjoy it or by those who dispute it.

Before the Court are three consolidated cases, all of which raise a single question of
profound importance to the nation. The issue of citizenship is brought up to challenge
the qualifications of a presidential candidate to hold the highest office of the land. Our
people are waiting for the judgment of the Court with bated breath. Is Fernando Poe,
Jr., the hero of silver screen, and now one of the main contenders for the presidency, a
natural-born Filipino or is he not?

The moment of introspection takes us face to face with Spanish and American colonial
roots and reminds us of the rich heritage of civil law and common law traditions, the
fusion resulting in a hybrid of laws and jurisprudence that could be no less than
distinctly Filipino.

Antecedent Case Settings

On 31 December 2003, respondent Ronald Allan Kelly Poe, also known as Fernando
Poe, Jr. (hereinafter "FPJ"), filed his certificate of candidacy for the position of
President of the Republic of the Philippines under the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang
Pilipino (KNP) Party, in the forthcoming national elections. In his certificate of
candidacy, FPJ, representing himself to be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines,
stated his name to be "Fernando Jr.," or "Ronald Allan" Poe, his date of birth to be 20
August 1939 and his place of birth to be Manila.

Victorino X. Fornier, petitioner in G.R. No. 161824, entitled "Victorino X. Fornier,


Petitioner, versus Hon. Commission on Elections and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, also
known as Fernando Poe, Jr., Respondents," initiated, on 09 January 2004, a petition
docketed SPA No. 04-003 before the Commission on Elections ("COMELEC") to
disqualify FPJ and to deny due course or to cancel his certificate of candidacy upon the
thesis that FPJ made a material misrepresentation in his certificate of candidacy by
claiming to be a natural-born Filipino citizen when in truth, according to Fornier, his
parents were foreigners; his mother, Bessie Kelley Poe, was an American, and his father,
Allan Poe, was a Spanish national, being the son of Lorenzo Pou, a Spanish subject.
Granting, petitioner asseverated, that Allan F. Poe was a Filipino citizen, he could not
have transmitted his Filipino citizenship to FPJ, the latter being an illegitimate child of
an alien mother. Petitioner based the allegation of the illegitimate birth of respondent
on two assertions - first, Allan F. Poe contracted a prior marriage to a certain Paulita
Gomez before his marriage to Bessie Kelley and, second, even if no such prior marriage
had existed, Allan F. Poe, married Bessie Kelly only a year after the birth of respondent.

In the hearing before the Third Division of the COMELEC on 19 January 2004,
petitioner, in support of his claim, presented several documentary exhibits - 1) a copy of
the certificate of birth of FPJ, 2) a certified photocopy of an affidavit executed in
Spanish by Paulita Poe y Gomez attesting to her having filed a case for bigamy and
concubinage against the father of respondent, Allan F. Poe, after discovering his
bigamous relationship with Bessie Kelley, 3) an English translation of the affidavit
aforesaid, 4) a certified photocopy of the certificate of birth of Allan F. Poe, 5) a
certification issued by the Director of the Records Management and Archives Office,
attesting to the fact that there was no record in the National Archives that a Lorenzo Poe
or Lorenzo Pou resided or entered the Philippines before 1907, and 6) a certification
from the Officer-In-Charge of the Archives Division of the National Archives to the
effect that no available information could be found in the files of the National Archives
regarding the birth of Allan F. Poe.

On his part, respondent, presented twenty-two documentary pieces of evidence, the


more significant ones being - a) a certification issued by Estrella M. Domingo of the
Archives Division of the National Archives that there appeared to be no available
information regarding the birth of Allan F. Poe in the registry of births for San Carlos,
Pangasinan, b) a certification issued by the Officer-In-Charge of the Archives Division of
the National Archives that no available information about the marriage of Allan F. Poe
and Paulita Gomez could be found, c) a certificate of birth of Ronald Allan Poe, d)
Original Certificate of Title No. P-2247 of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of
Pangasinan, in the name of Lorenzo Pou, e) copies of Tax Declaration No. 20844, No.
20643, No. 23477 and No. 23478 in the name of Lorenzo Pou, f) a copy of the certificate
of death of Lorenzo Pou, g) a copy of the purported marriage contract between
Fernando Pou and Bessie Kelley, and h) a certification issued by the City Civil Registrar
of San Carlos City, Pangasinan, stating that the records of birth in the said office during
the period of from 1900 until May 1946 were totally destroyed during World War II.

On 23 January 2004, the COMELEC dismissed SPA No. 04-003 for lack of merit. Three
days later, or on 26 January 2004, Fornier filed his motion for reconsideration. The
motion was denied on 06 February 2004 by the COMELEC en banc. On 10 February
2004, petitioner assailed the decision of the COMELEC before this Court conformably
with Rule 64, in relation to Rule 65, of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. The
petition, docketed G. R. No. 161824, likewise prayed for a temporary restraining order, a
writ of preliminary injunction or any other resolution that would stay the finality and/or
execution of the COMELEC resolutions.

The other petitions, later consolidated with G. R. No. 161824, would include G. R. No.
161434, entitled "Maria Jeanette C. Tecson, and Felix B. Desiderio, Jr., vs. The
Commission on Elections, Ronald Allan Kelley Poe (a.k.a. ‘Fernando Poe, Jr.’), and
Victorino X. Fornier," and the other, docketed G. R. No. 161634, entitled "Zoilo Antonio
G. Velez, vs. Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr.," both challenging the
jurisdiction of the COMELEC and asserting that, under Article VII, Section 4, paragraph
7, of the 1987 Constitution, only the Supreme Court had original and exclusive
jurisdiction to resolve the basic issue on the case.

Jurisdiction of the Court

In G. R. No. 161824

In seeking the disqualification of the candidacy of FPJ and to have the COMELEC deny
due course to or cancel FPJ’s certificate of candidacy for alleged misrepresentation of a
material fact (i.e., that FPJ was a natural-born citizen) before the COMELEC, petitioner
Fornier invoked Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code –

"Section 78. Petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy. ---
A verified petition seeking to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of
candidacy may be filed by any person exclusively on the ground that any material
representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false" –

in consonance with the general powers of COMELEC expressed in Section 52 of the


Omnibus Election Code -

"Section 52. Powers and functions of the Commission on Elections. In addition to


the powers and functions conferred upon it by the Constitution, the Commission
shall have exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws
relative to the conduct of elections for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly and
honest elections" -
and in relation to Article 69 of the Omnibus Election Code which would authorize
"any interested party" to file a verified petition to deny or cancel the certificate of
candidacy of any nuisance candidate.

Decisions of the COMELEC on disqualification cases may be reviewed by the Supreme


Court per Rule 642 in an action for certiorari under Rule 653 of the Revised Rules of Civil
Procedure. Section 7, Article IX, of the 1987 Constitution also reads –

"Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its Members any case or
matter brought before it within sixty days from the date of its submission for
decision or resolution. A case or matter is deemed submitted for decision or
resolution upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or memorandum, required
by the rules of the Commission or by the Commission itself. Unless otherwise
provided by this Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each
Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved
party within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof."

Additionally, Section 1, Article VIII, of the same Constitution provides that judicial
power is vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by
law which power "includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government."

It is sufficiently clear that the petition brought up in G. R. No. 161824 was aptly elevated
to, and could well be taken cognizance of by, this Court. A contrary view could be a gross
denial to our people of their fundamental right to be fully informed, and to make a
proper choice, on who could or should be elected to occupy the highest government post
in the land.

In G. R. No. 161434 and G. R. No. 161634

Petitioners Tecson, et al., in G. R. No. 161434, and Velez, in G. R. No. 161634, invoke the
provisions of Article VII, Section 4, paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution in assailing the
jurisdiction of the COMELEC when it took cognizance of SPA No. 04-003 and in urging
the Supreme Court to instead take on the petitions they directly instituted before it. The
Constitutional provision cited reads:

"The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests
relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-
President, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose."

The provision is an innovation of the 1987 Constitution. The omission in the 1935 and
the 1973 Constitution to designate any tribunal to be the sole judge of presidential and
vice-presidential contests, has constrained this Court to declare, in Lopez vs. Roxas,4 as
"not (being) justiciable" controversies or disputes involving contests on the elections,
returns and qualifications of the President or Vice-President. The constitutional lapse
prompted Congress, on 21 June 1957, to enact Republic Act No. 1793, "An Act
Constituting an Independent Presidential Electoral Tribunal to Try, Hear and Decide
Protests Contesting the Election of the President-Elect and the Vice-President-Elect of
the Philippines and Providing for the Manner of Hearing the Same." Republic Act 1793
designated the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court to be the
members of the tribunal. Although the subsequent adoption of the parliamentary form
of government under the 1973 Constitution might have implicitly affected Republic Act
No. 1793, the statutory set-up, nonetheless, would now be deemed revived under the
present Section 4, paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution.

Ordinary usage would characterize a "contest" in reference to a post-election scenario.


Election contests consist of either an election protest or a quo warranto which, although
two distinct remedies, would have one objective in view, i.e., to dislodge the winning
candidate from office. A perusal of the phraseology in Rule 12, Rule 13, and Rule 14 of
the "Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal," promulgated by the Supreme Court en
banc on 18 April 1992, would support this premise -

"Rule 12. Jurisdiction. - The Tribunal shall be the sole judge of all contests
relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-
President of the Philippines.

"Rule 13. How Initiated. - An election contest is initiated by the filing of an


election protest or a petition for quo warranto against the President or Vice-
President. An election protest shall not include a petition for quo warranto. A
petition for quo warranto shall not include an election protest.

"Rule 14. Election Protest. - Only the registered candidate for President or for
Vice-President of the Philippines who received the second or third highest
number of votes may contest the election of the President or the Vice-President,
as the case may be, by filing a verified petition with the Clerk of the Presidential
Electoral Tribunal within thirty (30) days after the proclamation of the winner."

The rules categorically speak of the jurisdiction of the tribunal over contests relating to
the election, returns and qualifications of the "President" or "Vice-President", of the
Philippines, and not of "candidates" for President or Vice-President. A quo warranto
proceeding is generally defined as being an action against a person who usurps, intrudes
into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office.5 In such context, the election
contest can only contemplate a post-election scenario. In Rule 14, only a registered
candidate who would have received either the second or third highest number of votes
could file an election protest. This rule again presupposes a post-election scenario.

It is fair to conclude that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, defined by Section 4,
paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution, would not include cases directly brought before it,
questioning the qualifications of a candidate for the presidency or vice-presidency
before the elections are held.
Accordingly, G. R. No. 161434, entitled "Maria Jeanette C. Tecson, et al., vs. Commission
on Elections et al.," and G. R. No. 161634, entitled "Zoilo Antonio Velez vs. Ronald Allan
Kelley Poe a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr." would have to be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

The Citizenship Issue

Now, to the basic issue; it should be helpful to first give a brief historical background on
the concept of citizenship.

Perhaps, the earliest understanding of citizenship was that given by Aristotle, who,
sometime in 384 to 322 B.C., described the "citizen" to refer to a man who shared in the
administration of justice and in the holding of an office.6Aristotle saw its significance if
only to determine the constituency of the "State," which he described as being composed
of such persons who would be adequate in number to achieve a self-sufficient
existence.7 The concept grew to include one who would both govern and be governed,
for which qualifications like autonomy, judgment and loyalty could be expected.
Citizenship was seen to deal with rights and entitlements, on the one hand, and with
concomitant obligations, on the other.8 In its ideal setting, a citizen was active in public
life and fundamentally willing to submit his private interests to the general interest of
society.

The concept of citizenship had undergone changes over the centuries. In the 18th
century, the concept was limited, by and large, to civil citizenship, which established the
rights necessary for individual freedom, such as rights to property, personal liberty and
justice.9 Its meaning expanded during the 19th century to include political citizenship,
which encompassed the right to participate in the exercise of political power.10 The 20th
century saw the next stage of the development of social citizenship, which laid emphasis
on the right of the citizen to economic well-being and social security.11 The idea of
citizenship has gained expression in the modern welfare state as it so developed in
Western Europe. An ongoing and final stage of development, in keeping with the rapidly
shrinking global village, might well be the internationalization of citizenship.12

The Local Setting - from Spanish Times to the Present

There was no such term as "Philippine citizens" during the Spanish regime but "subjects
of Spain" or "Spanish subjects."13 In church records, the natives were called 'indios',
denoting a low regard for the inhabitants of the archipelago. Spanish laws on citizenship
became highly codified during the 19th century but their sheer number made it difficult
to point to one comprehensive law. Not all of these citizenship laws of Spain however,
were made to apply to the Philippine Islands except for those explicitly extended by
Royal Decrees.14

Spanish laws on citizenship were traced back to the Novisima Recopilacion,


promulgated in Spain on 16 July 1805 but as to whether the law was extended to the
Philippines remained to be the subject of differing views among experts;15 however,
three royal decrees were undisputably made applicable to Spaniards in the Philippines -
the Order de la Regencia of 14 August 1841,16 the Royal Decree of 23 August 1868
specifically defining the political status of children born in the Philippine Islands,17 and
finally, the Ley Extranjera de Ultramar of 04 July 1870, which was expressly made
applicable to the Philippines by the Royal Decree of 13 July 1870.18

The Spanish Constitution of 1876 was never extended to the Philippine Islands because
of the express mandate of its Article 89, according to which the provisions of the
Ultramar among which this country was included, would be governed by special laws.19

It was only the Civil Code of Spain, made effective in this jurisdiction on 18 December
1889, which came out with the first categorical enumeration of who were Spanish
citizens. -

"(a) Persons born in Spanish territory,

"(b) Children of a Spanish father or mother, even if they were born outside of
Spain,

"(c) Foreigners who have obtained naturalization papers,

"(d) Those who, without such papers, may have become domiciled inhabitants of
any town of the Monarchy."20

The year 1898 was another turning point in Philippine history. Already in the state of
decline as a superpower, Spain was forced to so cede her sole colony in the East to an
upcoming world power, the United States. An accepted principle of international law
dictated that a change in sovereignty, while resulting in an abrogation of all political
laws then in force, would have no effect on civil laws, which would remain virtually
intact.

The Treaty of Paris was entered into on 10 December 1898 between Spain and the
United States.21 Under Article IX of the treaty, the civil rights and political status of the
native inhabitants of the territories ceded to the United States would be determined by
its Congress -

"Spanish subjects, natives of the Peninsula, residing in the territory over which
Spain by the present treaty relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty may remain in
such territory or may remove therefrom, retaining in either event all their rights
of property, including the right to sell or dispose of such property or of its
proceeds; and they shall also have the right to carry on their industry, commerce,
and professions, being subject in respect thereof to such laws as are applicable to
foreigners. In case they remain in the territory they may preserve their allegiance
to the Crown of Spain by making, before a court of record, within a year from the
date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty, a declaration of their decision
to preserve such allegiance; in default of which declaration they shall be held to
have renounced it and to have adopted the nationality of the territory in which
they reside.
Thus –

"The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants of the territories
hereby ceded to the United States shall be determined by the Congress."22

Upon the ratification of the treaty, and pending legislation by the United States
Congress on the subject, the native inhabitants of the Philippines ceased to be Spanish
subjects. Although they did not become American citizens, they, however, also ceased to
be "aliens" under American laws and were thus issued passports describing them to be
citizens of the Philippines entitled to the protection of the United States.

The term "citizens of the Philippine Islands" appeared for the first time in the Philippine
Bill of 1902, also commonly referred to as the Philippine Organic Act of 1902, the first
comprehensive legislation of the Congress of the United States on the Philippines -

".... that all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands continuing to reside therein, who
were Spanish subjects on the 11th day of April, 1891, and then resided in said
Islands, and their children born subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and held to
be citizens of the Philippine Islands and as such entitled to the protection of the
United States, except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the
Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace between
the United States and Spain, signed at Paris, December tenth eighteen hundred
and ninety eight."23

Under the organic act, a "citizen of the Philippines" was one who was an inhabitant of
the Philippines, and a Spanish subject on the 11th day of April 1899. The term
"inhabitant" was taken to include 1) a native-born inhabitant, 2) an inhabitant who was
a native of Peninsular Spain, and 3) an inhabitant who obtained Spanish papers on or
before 11 April 1899.24

Controversy arose on to the status of children born in the Philippines from 11 April 1899
to 01 July 1902, during which period no citizenship law was extant in the Philippines.
Weight was given to the view, articulated in jurisprudential writing at the time, that the
common law principle of jus soli, otherwise also known as the principle of territoriality,
operative in the United States and England, governed those born in the Philippine
Archipelago within that period.25 More about this later.

In 23 March 1912, the Congress of the United States made the following amendment to
the Philippine Bill of 1902 -

"Provided, That the Philippine Legislature is hereby authorized to provide by law


for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those natives of the Philippine
Islands who do not come within the foregoing provisions, the natives of other
insular possession of the United States, and such other persons residing in the
Philippine Islands who would become citizens of the United States, under the
laws of the United States, if residing therein."26
With the adoption of the Philippine Bill of 1902, the concept of "Philippine citizens" had
for the first time crystallized. The word "Filipino" was used by William H. Taft, the first
Civil Governor General in the Philippines when he initially made mention of it in his
slogan, "The Philippines for the Filipinos." In 1916, the Philippine Autonomy Act, also
known as the Jones Law restated virtually the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902,
as so amended by the Act of Congress in 1912 -

"That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands who were Spanish subjects on the
eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in said
Islands, and their children born subsequently thereto, shall be deemed and held
to be citizens of the Philippine Islands, except such as shall have elected to
preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions
of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain, signed at Paris
December tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight and except such others as
have since become citizens of some other country; Provided, That the Philippine
Legislature, herein provided for, is hereby authorized to provide for the
acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those natives of the Philippine Islands
who do not come within the foregoing provisions, the natives of the insular
possessions of the United States, and such other persons residing in the
Philippine Islands who are citizens of the United States, or who could become
citizens of the United States under the laws of the United States, if residing
therein."

Under the Jones Law, a native-born inhabitant of the Philippines was deemed to be a
citizen of the Philippines as of 11 April 1899 if he was 1) a subject of Spain on 11 April
1899, 2) residing in the Philippines on said date, and, 3) since that date, not a citizen of
some other country.

While there was, at one brief time, divergent views on whether or not jus soli was a
mode of acquiring citizenship, the 1935 Constitution brought to an end to any such link
with common law, by adopting, once and for all, jus sanguinis or blood relationship as
being the basis of Filipino citizenship -

"Section 1, Article III, 1935 Constitution. The following are citizens of the
Philippines -

"(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of the adoption of
this Constitution

"(2) Those born in the Philippines Islands of foreign parents who, before the
adoption of this Constitution, had been elected to public office in the Philippine
Islands.

"(3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines.

"(4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and upon reaching the
age of majority, elect Philippine citizenship.
"(5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law."

Subsection (4), Article III, of the 1935 Constitution, taken together with existing civil
law provisions at the time, which provided that women would automatically lose their
Filipino citizenship and acquire that of their foreign husbands, resulted in
discriminatory situations that effectively incapacitated the women from transmitting
their Filipino citizenship to their legitimate children and required illegitimate children
of Filipino mothers to still elect Filipino citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.
Seeking to correct this anomaly, as well as fully cognizant of the newly found status of
Filipino women as equals to men, the framers of the 1973 Constitution crafted the
provisions of the new Constitution on citizenship to reflect such concerns -

"Section 1, Article III, 1973 Constitution - The following are citizens of the
Philippines:

"(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this
Constitution.

"(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines.

"(3) Those who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the
Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-five.

"(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law."

For good measure, Section 2 of the same article also further provided that –

"A female citizen of the Philippines who marries an alien retains her Philippine
citizenship, unless by her act or omission she is deemed, under the law to have
renounced her citizenship."

The 1987 Constitution generally adopted the provisions of the 1973 Constitution, except
for subsection (3) thereof that aimed to correct the irregular situation generated by the
questionable proviso in the 1935 Constitution.

Section I, Article IV, 1987 Constitution now provides:

"The following are citizens of the Philippines:

"(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of
this Constitution.

"(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines.

"(3) Those born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who elect
Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and
"(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law."

The Case Of FPJ

Section 2, Article VII, of the 1987 Constitution expresses:

"No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the


Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age
on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years
immediately preceding such election."

The term "natural-born citizens," is defined to include "those who are citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their
Philippine citizenship."27

The date, month and year of birth of FPJ appeared to be 20 August 1939 during the
regime of the 1935 Constitution. Through its history, four modes of acquiring citizenship
- naturalization, jus soli, res judicata and jus sanguinis28 – had been in vogue. Only two,
i.e., jus soli and jus sanguinis, could qualify a person to being a "natural-born" citizen of
the Philippines. Jus soli, per Roa vs. Collector of Customs29 (1912), did not last long.
With the adoption of the 1935 Constitution and the reversal of Roa in Tan Chong vs.
Secretary of Labor30 (1947), jus sanguinis or blood relationship would now become the
primary basis of citizenship by birth.

Documentary evidence adduced by petitioner would tend to indicate that the earliest
established direct ascendant of FPJ was his paternal grandfather Lorenzo Pou, married
to Marta Reyes, the father of Allan F. Poe. While the record of birth of Lorenzo Pou had
not been presented in evidence, his death certificate, however, identified him to be a
Filipino, a resident of San Carlos, Pangasinan, and 84 years old at the time of his death
on 11 September 1954. The certificate of birth of the father of FPJ, Allan F. Poe, showed
that he was born on 17 May 1915 to an Español father, Lorenzo Pou, and a mestiza
Español mother, Marta Reyes. Introduced by petitioner was an "uncertified" copy of a
supposed certificate of the alleged marriage of Allan F. Poe and Paulita Gomez on 05
July 1936. The marriage certificate of Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley reflected the date of
their marriage to be on 16 September 1940. In the same certificate, Allan F. Poe was
stated to be twenty-five years old, unmarried, and a Filipino citizen, and Bessie Kelley to
be twenty-two years old, unmarried, and an American citizen. The birth certificate of
FPJ, would disclose that he was born on 20 August 1939 to Allan F. Poe, a Filipino,
twenty-four years old, married to Bessie Kelly, an American citizen, twenty-one years
old and married.

Considering the reservations made by the parties on the veracity of some of the entries
on the birth certificate of respondent and the marriage certificate of his parents, the only
conclusions that could be drawn with some degree of certainty from the documents
would be that -

1. The parents of FPJ were Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley;


2. FPJ was born to them on 20 August 1939;

3. Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley were married to each other on 16 September,
1940;

4. The father of Allan F. Poe was Lorenzo Poe; and

5. At the time of his death on 11 September 1954, Lorenzo Poe was 84 years old.

Would the above facts be sufficient or insufficient to establish the fact that FPJ is a
natural-born Filipino citizen? The marriage certificate of Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley,
the birth certificate of FPJ, and the death certificate of Lorenzo Pou are documents of
public record in the custody of a public officer. The documents have been submitted in
evidence by both contending parties during the proceedings before the COMELEC.

The birth certificate of FPJ was marked Exhibit "A" for petitioner and Exhibit "3" for
respondent. The marriage certificate of Allan F. Poe to Bessie Kelley was submitted as
Exhibit "21" for respondent. The death certificate of Lorenzo Pou was submitted by
respondent as his Exhibit "5." While the last two documents were submitted in evidence
for respondent, the admissibility thereof, particularly in reference to the facts which
they purported to show, i.e., the marriage certificate in relation to the date of marriage
of Allan F. Poe to Bessie Kelley and the death certificate relative to the death of Lorenzo
Pou on 11 September 1954 in San Carlos, Pangasinan, were all admitted by petitioner,
who had utilized those material statements in his argument. All three documents were
certified true copies of the originals.

Section 3, Rule 130, Rules of Court states that -

"Original document must be produced; exceptions. - When the subject of inquiry


is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the
original document itself, except in the following cases:

"x x x xxx xxx

"(d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public office or is
recorded in a public office."

Being public documents, the death certificate of Lorenzo Pou, the marriage certificate of
Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelly, and the birth certificate of FPJ, constitute prima facie
proof of their contents. Section 44, Rule 130, of the Rules of Court provides:

"Entries in official records. Entries in official records made in the performance of


his duty by a public officer of the Philippines, or by a person in the performance
of a duty specially enjoined by law, are prima facie evidence of the facts therein
stated."
The trustworthiness of public documents and the value given to the entries made
therein could be grounded on 1) the sense of official duty in the preparation of the
statement made, 2) the penalty which is usually affixed to a breach of that duty, 3) the
routine and disinterested origin of most such statements, and 4) the publicity of record
which makes more likely the prior exposure of such errors as might have occurred.31

The death certificate of Lorenzo Pou would indicate that he died on 11 September 1954,
at the age of 84 years, in San Carlos, Pangasinan. It could thus be assumed that Lorenzo
Pou was born sometime in the year 1870 when the Philippines was still a colony of
Spain. Petitioner would argue that Lorenzo Pou was not in the Philippines during the
crucial period of from 1898 to 1902 considering that there was no existing record about
such fact in the Records Management and Archives Office. Petitioner, however, likewise
failed to show that Lorenzo Pou was at any other place during the same period. In his
death certificate, the residence of Lorenzo Pou was stated to be San Carlos, Pangasinan.
In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it should be sound to conclude, or at least
to presume, that the place of residence of a person at the time of his death was also his
residence before death. It would be extremely doubtful if the Records Management and
Archives Office would have had complete records of all residents of the Philippines from
1898 to 1902.

Proof of Paternity and Filiation

Under Civil Law.

Petitioner submits, in any case, that in establishing filiation (relationship or civil status
of the child to the father [or mother]) or paternity (relationship or civil status of the
father to the child) of an illegitimate child, FPJ evidently being an illegitimate son
according to petitioner, the mandatory rules under civil law must be used.

Under the Civil Code of Spain, which was in force in the Philippines from 08 December
1889 up until the day prior to 30 August 1950 when the Civil Code of the Philippines
took effect, acknowledgment was required to establish filiation or paternity.
Acknowledgment was either judicial (compulsory) or voluntary. Judicial or compulsory
acknowledgment was possible only if done during the lifetime of the putative parent;
voluntary acknowledgment could only be had in a record of birth, a will, or a public
document.32 Complementary to the new code was Act No. 3753 or the Civil Registry Law
expressing in Section 5 thereof, that -

"In case of an illegitimate child, the birth certificate shall be signed and sworn to
jointly by the parents of the infant or only by the mother if the father refuses. In
the latter case, it shall not be permissible to state or reveal in the document the
name of the father who refuses to acknowledge the child, or to give therein any
information by which such father could be identified."

In order that the birth certificate could then be utilized to prove voluntary
acknowledgment of filiation or paternity, the certificate was required to be signed or
sworn to by the father. The failure of such requirement rendered the same useless as
being an authoritative document of recognition.33 In Mendoza vs. Mella,34 the Court
ruled -

"Since Rodolfo was born in 1935, after the registry law was enacted, the question
here really is whether or not his birth certificate (Exhibit 1), which is merely a
certified copy of the registry record, may be relied upon as sufficient proof of his
having been voluntarily recognized. No such reliance, in our judgment, may be
placed upon it. While it contains the names of both parents, there is no showing
that they signed the original, let alone swore to its contents as required in Section
5 of Act No. 3753. For all that might have happened, it was not even they or either
of them who furnished the data to be entered in the civil register. Petitioners say
that in any event the birth certificate is in the nature of a public document
wherein voluntary recognition of a natural child may also be made, according to
the same Article 131. True enough, but in such a case, there must be a clear
statement in the document that the parent recognizes the child as his or her
own."

In the birth certificate of respondent FPJ, presented by both parties, nowhere in the
document was the signature of Allan F. Poe found. There being no will apparently
executed, or at least shown to have been executed, by decedent Allan F. Poe, the only
other proof of voluntary recognition remained to be "some other public document." In
Pareja vs. Pareja,35 this Court defined what could constitute such a document as proof of
voluntary acknowledgment:

"Under the Spanish Civil Code there are two classes of public documents, those
executed by private individuals which must be authenticated by notaries, and
those issued by competent public officials by reason of their office. The public
document pointed out in Article 131 as one of the means by which recognition
may be made belongs to the first class."

Let us leave it at that for the moment.

The 1950 Civil Code categorized the acknowledgment or recognition of illegitimate


children into voluntary, legal or compulsory. Voluntary recognition was required to be
expressedly made in a record of birth, a will, a statement before a court of record or in
any authentic writing. Legal acknowledgment took place in favor of full blood brothers
and sisters of an illegitimate child who was recognized or judicially declared as natural.
Compulsory acknowledgment could be demanded generally in cases when the child had
in his favor any evidence to prove filiation. Unlike an action to claim legitimacy which
would last during the lifetime of the child, and might pass exceptionally to the heirs of
the child, an action to claim acknowledgment, however, could only be brought during
the lifetime of the presumed parent.

Amicus Curiae Ruben F. Balane defined, during the oral argument, "authentic writing,"
so as to be an authentic writing for purposes of voluntary recognition, simply as being a
genuine or indubitable writing of the father. The term would include a public
instrument (one duly acknowledged before a notary public or other competent official)
or a private writing admitted by the father to be his.

The Family Code has further liberalized the rules; Article 172, Article 173, and Article 175
provide:

"Art. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of the


following:

"(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or

"(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a private


handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned.

"In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall be proved
by:

"(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate child; or

"(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws.

"Art. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be brought by the child during his
or her lifetime and shall be transmitted to the heirs should the child die during
minority or in a state of insanity. In these cases, the heirs shall have a period of
five years within which to institute the action.

"The action already commenced by the child shall survive notwithstanding the
death of either or both of the parties.

"x x x xxx x x x.

"Art. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate filiation in the
same way and on the same, evidence as legitimate children.

"The action must be brought within the same period specified in Article 173,
except when the action is based on the second paragraph of Article 172, in which
case the action may be brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent."

The provisions of the Family Code are retroactively applied; Article 256 of the code
reads:

"Art. 256. This Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice
or impair vested or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other
laws."

Thus, in Vda. de Sy-Quia vs. Court of Appeals,36 the Court has ruled:
"We hold that whether Jose was a voluntarily recognized natural child should be
decided under Article 278 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. Article 2260 of
that Code provides that 'the voluntary recognition of a natural child shall take
place according to this Code, even if the child was born before the effectivity of
this body of laws' or before August 30, 1950. Hence, Article 278 may be given
retroactive effect."

It should be apparent that the growing trend to liberalize the acknowledgment or


recognition of illegitimate children is an attempt to break away from the traditional idea
of keeping well apart legitimate and non-legitimate relationships within the family in
favor of the greater interest and welfare of the child. The provisions are intended to
merely govern the private and personal affairs of the family. There is little, if any, to
indicate that the legitimate or illegitimate civil status of the individual would also affect
his political rights or, in general, his relationship to the State. While, indeed, provisions
on "citizenship" could be found in the Civil Code, such provisions must be taken in the
context of private relations, the domain of civil law; particularly -

"Civil Law is that branch of law which has for its double purpose the organization
of the family and the regulation of property. It has thus [been] defined as the
mass of precepts which determine and regulate the relations of assistance,
authority and obedience among members of a family, and those which exist
among members of a society for the protection of private interests."37

In Yañez de Barnuevo vs. Fuster,38 the Court has held:

"In accordance with Article 9 of the Civil Code of Spain, x x x the laws relating to
family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons,
govern Spaniards although they reside in a foreign country; that, in consequence,
'all questions of a civil nature, such as those dealing with the validity or nullity of
the matrimonial bond, the domicile of the husband and wife, their support, as
between them, the separation of their properties, the rules governing property,
marital authority, division of conjugal property, the classification of their
property, legal causes for divorce, the extent of the latter, the authority to decree
it, and, in general, the civil effects of marriage and divorce upon the persons and
properties of the spouses, are questions that are governed exclusively by the
national law of the husband and wife."

The relevance of "citizenship" or "nationality" to Civil Law is best exemplified in Article


15 of the Civil Code, stating that -

"Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal
capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though
living abroad" -

that explains the need to incorporate in the code a reiteration of the Constitutional
provisions on citizenship. Similarly, citizenship is significant in civil relationships found
in different parts of the Civil Code,39 such as on successional rights and family
relations.40 In adoption, for instance, an adopted child would be considered the child of
his adoptive parents and accorded the same rights as their legitimate child but such
legal fiction extended only to define his rights under civil law41 and not his political
status.

Civil law provisions point to an obvious bias against illegitimacy. This discriminatory
attitude may be traced to the Spanish family and property laws, which, while defining
proprietary and successional rights of members of the family, provided distinctions in
the rights of legitimate and illegitimate children. In the monarchial set-up of old Spain,
the distribution and inheritance of titles and wealth were strictly according to bloodlines
and the concern to keep these bloodlines uncontaminated by foreign blood was
paramount.

These distinctions between legitimacy and illegitimacy were codified in the Spanish Civil
Code, and the invidious discrimination survived when the Spanish Civil Code became
the primary source of our own Civil Code. Such distinction, however, remains and
should remain only in the sphere of civil law and not unduly impede or impinge on the
domain of political law.

The proof of filiation or paternity for purposes of determining his citizenship status
should thus be deemed independent from and not inextricably tied up with that
prescribed for civil law purposes. The Civil Code or Family Code provisions on proof of
filiation or paternity, although good law, do not have preclusive effects on matters alien
to personal and family relations. The ordinary rules on evidence could well and should
govern. For instance, the matter about pedigree is not necessarily precluded from being
applicable by the Civil Code or Family Code provisions.

Section 39, Rule 130, of the Rules of Court provides -

"Act or Declaration about pedigree. The act or declaration of a person deceased,


or unable to testify, in respect to the pedigree of another person related to him by
birth or marriage, may be received in evidence where it occurred before the
controversy, and the relationship between the two persons is shown by evidence
other than such act or declaration. The word `pedigree’ includes relationship,
family genealogy, birth, marriage, death, the dates when and the places where
these facts occurred, and the names of the relatives. It embraces also facts of
family history intimately connected with pedigree."

For the above rule to apply, it would be necessary that (a) the declarant is already dead
or unable to testify, (b) the pedigree of a person must be at issue, (c) the declarant must
be a relative of the person whose pedigree is in question, (d) declaration must be made
before the controversy has occurred, and (e) the relationship between the declarant and
the person whose pedigree is in question must be shown by evidence other than such act
or declaration.

Thus, the duly notarized declaration made by Ruby Kelley Mangahas, sister of Bessie
Kelley Poe submitted as Exhibit 20 before the COMELEC, might be accepted to prove
the acts of Allan F. Poe, recognizing his own paternal relationship with FPJ, i.e, living
together with Bessie Kelley and his children (including respondent FPJ) in one house,
and as one family -

"I, Ruby Kelley Mangahas, of legal age and sound mind, presently residing in
Stockton, California, U.S.A., after being sworn in accordance with law do hereby
declare that:

"1. I am the sister of the late Bessie Kelley Poe.

"2. Bessie Kelley Poe was the wife of Fernando Poe, Sr.

"3. Fernando and Bessie Poe had a son by the name of Ronald Allan Poe, more
popularly known in the Philippines as `Fernando Poe, Jr.,’ or `FPJ’.

"4. Ronald Allan Poe `FPJ’ was born on August 20, 1939 at St. Luke's Hospital,
Magdalena Street, Manila.

"x x x xxx xxx

"7. Fernando Poe Sr., and my sister Bessie, met and became engaged while they
were students at the University of the Philippines in 1936. I was also introduced
to Fernando Poe, Sr., by my sister that same year.

"8. Fernando Poe, Sr., and my sister Bessie had their first child in 1938.

"9. Fernando Poe, Sr., my sister Bessie and their first three children, Elizabeth,
Ronald, Allan and Fernando II, and myself lived together with our mother at our
family's house on Dakota St. (now Jorge Bocobo St.), Malate until the liberation
of Manila in 1945, except for some months between 1943-1944.

"10. Fernando Poe, Sr., and my sister, Bessie, were blessed with four (4) more
children after Ronald Allan Poe.

"x x x xxx xxx

"18. I am executing this Declaration to attest to the fact that my nephew, Ronald
Allan Poe is a natural born Filipino, and that he is the legitimate child of
Fernando Poe, Sr.

"Done in City of Stockton, California, U.S.A., this 12th day of January 2004.

Ruby Kelley Mangahas Declarant DNA Testing

In case proof of filiation or paternity would be unlikely to satisfactorily establish or


would be difficult to obtain, DNA testing, which examines genetic codes obtained from
body cells of the illegitimate child and any physical residue of the long dead parent could
be resorted to. A positive match would clear up filiation or paternity. In Tijing vs. Court
of Appeals,42 this Court has acknowledged the strong weight of DNA testing -

"Parentage will still be resolved using conventional methods unless we adopt the
modern and scientific ways available. Fortunately, we have now the facility and
expertise in using DNA test for identification and parentage testing. The University of
the Philippines Natural Science Research Institute (UP-NSRI) DNA Analysis Laboratory
has now the capability to conduct DNA typing using short tandem repeat (STR) analysis.
The analysis is based on the fact that the DNA of a child/person has two (2) copies, one
copy from the mother and the other from the father. The DNA from the mother, the
alleged father and the child are analyzed to establish parentage. Of course, being a novel
scientific technique, the use of DNA test as evidence is still open to challenge.
Eventually, as the appropriate case comes, courts should not hesitate to rule on the
admissibility of DNA evidence. For it was said, that courts should apply the results of
science when competently obtained in aid of situations presented, since to reject said
result is to deny progress."

Petitioner’s Argument For Jurisprudential Conclusiveness

Petitioner would have it that even if Allan F. Poe were a Filipino citizen, he could not
have transmitted his citizenship to respondent FPJ, the latter being an illegitimate child.
According to petitioner, prior to his marriage to Bessie Kelley, Allan F. Poe, on July 5,
1936, contracted marriage with a certain Paulita Gomez, making his subsequent
marriage to Bessie Kelley bigamous and respondent FPJ an illegitimate child. The
veracity of the supposed certificate of marriage between Allan F. Poe and Paulita Gomez
could be most doubtful at best. But the documentary evidence introduced by no less
than respondent himself, consisting of a birth certificate of respondent and a marriage
certificate of his parents showed that FPJ was born on 20 August 1939 to a Filipino
father and an American mother who were married to each other a year later, or on 16
September 1940. Birth to unmarried parents would make FPJ an illegitimate child.
Petitioner contended that as an illegitimate child, FPJ so followed the citizenship of his
mother, Bessie Kelley, an American citizen, basing his stand on the ruling of this Court
in Morano vs. Vivo,43 citing Chiongbian vs. de Leo44 and Serra vs. Republic.45

On the above score, the disquisition made by amicus curiae Joaquin G. Bernas, SJ, is
most convincing; he states -

"We must analyze these cases and ask what the lis mota was in each of them. If
the pronouncement of the Court on jus sanguinis was on the lis mota, the
pronouncement would be a decision constituting doctrine under the rule of stare
decisis. But if the pronouncement was irrelevant to the lis mota, the
pronouncement would not be a decision but a mere obiter dictum which did not
establish doctrine. I therefore invite the Court to look closely into these cases.

"First, Morano vs. Vivo. The case was not about an illegitimate child of a Filipino
father. It was about a stepson of a Filipino, a stepson who was the child of a
Chinese mother and a Chinese father. The issue was whether the stepson
followed the naturalization of the stepfather. Nothing about jus sanguinis there.
The stepson did not have the blood of the naturalized stepfather.

"Second, Chiongbian vs. de Leon. This case was not about the illegitimate son of a
Filipino father. It was about a legitimate son of a father who had become Filipino
by election to public office before the 1935 Constitution pursuant to Article IV,
Section 1(2) of the 1935 Constitution. No one was illegitimate here.

"Third, Serra vs. Republic. The case was not about the illegitimate son of a
Filipino father. Serra was an illegitimate child of a Chinese father and a Filipino
mother. The issue was whether one who was already a Filipino because of his
mother who still needed to be naturalized. There is nothing there about invidious
jus sanguinis.

"Finally, Paa vs. Chan.46 This is a more complicated case. The case was about the
citizenship of Quintin Chan who was the son of Leoncio Chan. Quintin Chan
claimed that his father, Leoncio, was the illegitimate son of a Chinese father and a
Filipino mother. Quintin therefore argued that he got his citizenship from
Leoncio, his father. But the Supreme Court said that there was no valid proof that
Leoncio was in fact the son of a Filipina mother. The Court therefore concluded
that Leoncio was not Filipino. If Leoncio was not Filipino, neither was his son
Quintin. Quintin therefore was not only not a natural-born Filipino but was not
even a Filipino.

"The Court should have stopped there. But instead it followed with an obiter
dictum. The Court said obiter that even if Leoncio, Quintin's father, were Filipino,
Quintin would not be Filipino because Quintin was illegitimate. This statement
about Quintin, based on a contrary to fact assumption, was absolutely
unnecessary for the case. x x x It was obiter dictum, pure and simple, simply
repeating the obiter dictum in Morano vs. Vivo.

"x x x xxx xxx

"Aside from the fact that such a pronouncement would have no textual
foundation in the Constitution, it would also violate the equal protection clause of
the Constitution not once but twice. First, it would make an illegitimate
distinction between a legitimate child and an illegitimate child, and second, it
would make an illegitimate distinction between the illegitimate child of a Filipino
father and the illegitimate child of a Filipino mother.

"The doctrine on constitutionally allowable distinctions was established long ago


by People vs. Cayat.47 I would grant that the distinction between legitimate
children and illegitimate children rests on real differences. x x x But real
differences alone do not justify invidious distinction. Real differences may justify
distinction for one purpose but not for another purpose.
"x x x What is the relevance of legitimacy or illegitimacy to elective public service?
What possible state interest can there be for disqualifying an illegitimate child
from becoming a public officer. It was not the fault of the child that his parents
had illicit liaison. Why deprive the child of the fullness of political rights for no
fault of his own? To disqualify an illegitimate child from holding an important
public office is to punish him for the indiscretion of his parents. There is neither
justice nor rationality in that. And if there is neither justice nor rationality in the
distinction, then the distinction transgresses the equal protection clause and
must be reprobated."

The other amici curiae, Mr. Justice Vicente Mendoza (a former member of this Court),
Professor Ruben Balane and Dean Martin Magallona, at bottom, have expressed similar
views. The thesis of petitioner, unfortunately hinging solely on pure obiter dicta, should
indeed fail.

Where jurisprudence regarded an illegitimate child as taking after the citizenship of its
mother, it did so for the benefit the child. It was to ensure a Filipino nationality for the
illegitimate child of an alien father in line with the assumption that the mother had
custody, would exercise parental authority and had the duty to support her illegitimate
child. It was to help the child, not to prejudice or discriminate against him.

The fact of the matter – perhaps the most significant consideration – is that the 1935
Constitution, the fundamental law prevailing on the day, month and year of birth of
respondent FPJ, can never be more explicit than it is. Providing neither conditions nor
distinctions, the Constitution states that among the citizens of the Philippines are "those
whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines." There utterly is no cogent justification to
prescribe conditions or distinctions where there clearly are none provided.

In Sum –

(1) The Court, in the exercise of its power of judicial review, possesses jurisdiction
over the petition in G. R. No. 161824, filed under Rule 64, in relation to Rule 65,
of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. G.R. No. 161824 assails the resolution of
the COMELEC for alleged grave abuse of discretion in dismissing, for lack of
merit, the petition in SPA No. 04-003 which has prayed for the disqualification of
respondent FPJ from running for the position of President in the 10th May 2004
national elections on the contention that FPJ has committed material
representation in his certificate of candidacy by representing himself to be a
natural-born citizen of the Philippines.

(2) The Court must dismiss, for lack of jurisdiction and prematurity, the petitions
in G. R. No. 161434 and No. 161634 both having been directly elevated to this
Court in the latter’s capacity as the only tribunal to resolve a presidential and
vice-presidential election contest under the Constitution. Evidently, the primary
jurisdiction of the Court can directly be invoked only after, not before, the
elections are held.
(3) In ascertaining, in G.R. No. 161824, whether grave abuse of discretion has
been committed by the COMELEC, it is necessary to take on the matter of
whether or not respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen, which, in turn,
depended on whether or not the father of respondent, Allan F. Poe, would have
himself been a Filipino citizen and, in the affirmative, whether or not the alleged
illegitimacy of respondent prevents him from taking after the Filipino citizenship
of his putative father. Any conclusion on the Filipino citizenship of Lorenzo Pou
could only be drawn from the presumption that having died in 1954 at 84 years
old, Lorenzo would have been born sometime in the year 1870, when the
Philippines was under Spanish rule, and that San Carlos, Pangasinan, his place of
residence upon his death in 1954, in the absence of any other evidence, could
have well been his place of residence before death, such that Lorenzo Pou would
have benefited from the "en masse Filipinization" that the Philippine Bill had
effected in 1902. That citizenship (of Lorenzo Pou), if acquired, would thereby
extend to his son, Allan F. Poe, father of respondent FPJ. The 1935 Constitution,
during which regime respondent FPJ has seen first light, confers citizenship to all
persons whose fathers are Filipino citizens regardless of whether such children
are legitimate or illegitimate.

(4) But while the totality of the evidence may not establish conclusively that
respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, the evidence on hand
still would preponderate in his favor enough to hold that he cannot be held guilty
of having made a material misrepresentation in his certificate of candidacy in
violation of Section 78, in relation to Section 74, of the Omnibus Election Code.
Petitioner has utterly failed to substantiate his case before the Court,
notwithstanding the ample opportunity given to the parties to present their
position and evidence, and to prove whether or not there has been material
misrepresentation, which, as so ruled in Romualdez-Marcos vs.
COMELEC,48 must not only be material, but also deliberate and willful.

WHEREFORE, the Court RESOLVES to DISMISS –

1. G. R. No. 161434, entitled "Maria Jeanette C. Tecson and Felix B. Desiderio, Jr.,
Petitioners, versus Commission on Elections, Ronald Allan Kelley Poe (a.k.a.
"Fernando Poe, Jr.,) and Victorino X. Fornier, Respondents," and G. R. No.
161634, entitled "Zoilo Antonio Velez, Petitioner, versus Ronald Allan Kelley Poe,
a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr., Respondent," for want of jurisdiction.

2. G. R. No. 161824, entitled "Victorino X. Fornier, Petitioner, versus Hon.


Commission on Elections and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, also known as Fernando
Poe, Jr.," for failure to show grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent
Commission on Elections in dismissing the petition in SPA No. 04-003.

No Costs.

SO ORDERED.
EN BANC

G.R. Nos. 192147 & 192149 August 23, 2011

RENALD F. VILANDO, Petitioner,


vs.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL, JOCELYN SY
LIMKAICHONG AND HON. SPEAKER PROSPERO NOGRALES, Respondents.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court assailing the
March 24, 2010 Decision1of the House of Representatives Electoral
Tribunal (HRET) dismissing the petitions for quo warranto and declaring private
respondent Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong (Limkaichong) not disqualified as Member of the
House of Representatives representing the First District of Negros Oriental and its
Resolution2 dated May 17, 2010, denying the motion for reconsideration.

In the May 14, 2007 elections, Limkaichong filed her certificate of candidacy for the
position of Representative of the First District of Negros Oriental. She won over the
other contender, Olivia Paras.

On May 25, 2007, she was proclaimed as Representative by the Provincial Board of
Canvassers on the basis of Comelec Resolution No. 80623 issued on May 18, 2007.

On July 23, 2007, she assumed office as Member of the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, petitions involving either the disqualification or the proclamation of


Limkaichong were filed before the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) which reached
the Court.

The petitions, which questioned her citizenship, were filed against Limkaichong by her
detractors: Louis Biraogo (G.R. No. 179120);4 Olivia Paras (G.R. Nos. 179132-33);5 and
Renald F. Vilando (G.R. Nos. 179240-41).6 These three (3) petitions were consolidated
with the petition for certiorari filed by Limkaichong (G.R. Nos. 178831-32) assailing the
Joint Resolution issued by the COMELEC which resolved the disqualification cases
against her.

On April 1, 2009, the Court granted the aforesaid petition of Limkaichong, reversed the
Joint Resolution of the Comelec, dismissed the three (3) other petitions, and directed
the petitioners to seek relief before the HRET by way of a petition for Quo Warranto.

On April 21, 2009 and May 27, 2009, petitioner Renald F. Vilando (Vilando), as
taxpayer; and Jacinto Paras, as registered voter of the congressional district concerned,
filed separate petitions for Quo Warranto against Limkaichong before the HRET. These
petitions were consolidated by the HRET as they both challenged the eligibility of one
and the same respondent. Petitioners asserted that Limkaichong was a Chinese citizen
and ineligible for the office she was elected and proclaimed. They alleged that she was
born to a father (Julio Sy), whose naturalization had not attained finality, and to a
mother who acquired the Chinese citizenship of Julio Sy from the time of her marriage
to the latter. Also, they invoked the jurisdiction of the HRET for a determination of
Limkaichong’s citizenship, which necessarily included an inquiry into the validity of the
naturalization certificate of Julio Sy.

For her defense, Limkaichong maintained that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen. She
averred that the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by her father was regular and in
order and had already attained the status of res judicata. Further, she claimed that the
validity of such citizenship could not be assailed through a collateral attack.

On March 24, 2010, the HRET dismissed both petitions and declared Limkaichong not
disqualified as Member of the House of Representatives. Pertinent portions of the
HRET decision reads:

By and large, petitioners failed to satisfy the quantum of proof to sustain their theory
that respondent is not a natural-born Filipino citizen and therefore not qualified as
Representative of the First District, Negros Oriental. This being so, their petitions must
fail.

WHEREFORE, the Tribunal DISMISSES the instant petition for lack of merit and
declares that respondent Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong is not disqualified as Member of the
House of Representatives representing the First District, Negros Oriental.

As soon as the Decision becomes final and executory, notice of copies thereof shall be
sent to the President of the Philippines, the House of Representatives through the
Speaker, the Commission on Audit through the Chairman, pursuant to Rule 96 of the
2004 Rules of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal. Let a copy of this
Decision be furnished the Chairman, Commission on Elections, for his information and
appropriate action.

SO ORDERED.7

The petitioners sought reconsideration of the aforesaid decision, but it was denied by
the HRET in its Resolution dated May 17, 2010.

Hence, this petition for certiorari filed by Vilando anchored on the following

GROUNDS:

THE ONE-SIDED RESOLUTION OF THE SUBJECT PETITION FOR QUO


WARRANTO AND THE UTTER FAILURE OF THE HRET TO DISQUALIFY
LIMKAICHONG AS MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DESPITE
MANIFEST EVIDENCE THAT SHE IS NOT A NATURAL-BORN FILIPINO CITIZEN IS
WHIMSICAL, CAPRICIOUS AND ARBITRARY BECAUSE:

1. THE PETITION FOR QUO WARRANTO DOES NOT OPERATE AS A


COLLATERAL ATTACK ON THE CITIZENSHIP OF LIMKAICHONG’S
FATHER FOR THE REASON THAT HER FATHER’S CERTIFICATE OF
NATURALIZATION IS OF NO FORCE AND EFFECT FROM THE VERY
BEGINNING, HENCE, THERE IS ACTUALLY NOTHING BEING
ATTACKED OR ASSAILED BY THE SAME.

2. LIMKAICHONG CANNOT DERIVE PHILIPPINE CITIZENSHIP FROM


HER MOTHER GIVEN THAT AT THE TIME OF HER BIRTH, HER
MOTHER IS NOT ALREADY A FILIPINO CITIZEN AS A RESULT OF
HER MARRIAGE TO HER FATHER AS PROVIDED FOR UNDER
SECTION 1 (7) OF COMMONWEALTH ACT NO. 63 IN RELATION TO
ARTICLE 2 (1) CHAPTER II OF THE CHINESE REVISED NATIONALITY
LAW OF FEBRUARY 5, 1959.

3. HAVING THE PLENARY, ABSOLUTE AND EXCLUSIVE


JURISDICTION TO DETERMINE, AMONG OTHERS, THE
QUALIFICATIONS OF MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, THE HRET CAN LOOK INTO THE ELIGIBILITY
OF LIMKAICHONG EVEN IF, AS AN INCIDENT THERETO, IT WOULD
MEAN LOOKING INTO THE VALIDITY OF THE CERTIFICATE OF
NATURALIZATION.8

It should be noted that Limkaichong’s term of office as Representative of the First


District of Negros Oriental from June 30, 2007 to June 30, 2010 already expired. As
such, the issue questioning her eligibility to hold office has been rendered moot and
academic by the expiration of her term. Whatever judgment is reached, the same can no
longer have any practical legal effect or, in the nature of things, can no longer be
enforced.9 Thus, the petition may be dismissed for being moot and academic.

Moreover, there was the conduct of the 2010 elections, a supervening event, in a sense,
has also rendered this case moot and academic. A moot and academic case is one that
ceases to present a justiciable controversy by virtue of supervening events, so that a
declaration thereon would be of no practical value. As a rule, courts decline jurisdiction
over such case, or dismiss it on ground of mootness. 10

Citizenship, being a continuing requirement for Members of the House of


Representatives, however, may be questioned at anytime.11 For this reason, the Court
deems it appropriate to resolve the petition on the merits. This position finds support in
the rule that courts will decide a question, otherwise moot and academic, if it is "capable
of repetition, yet evading review."12 The question on Limkaichong’s citizenship is likely
to recur if she would run again, as she did run, for public office, hence, capable of
repetition.
In any case, the Court is of the view that the HRET committed no grave abuse of
discretion in finding that Limkaichong is not disqualified to sit as Member of the House
of Representatives.

Vilando’s argument, that the quo warranto petition does not operate as a collateral
attack on the citizenship of Limkaichong’s father as the certificate of naturalization is
null and void from the beginning, is devoid of merit.

In this petition, Vilando seeks to disqualify Limkaichong on the ground that she is a
Chinese citizen. To prove his point, he makes reference to the alleged nullity of the grant
of naturalization of Limkaichong’s father which, however, is not allowed as it would
constitute a collateral attack on the citizenship of the father. In our jurisdiction, an
attack on a person's citizenship may only be done through a direct action for its nullity.13

The proper proceeding to assail the citizenship of Limkaichong’s father should be in


accordance with Section 18 of Commonwealth Act No. 473. As held in Limkaichong v.
Comelec,14 thus:

As early as the case of Queto v. Catolico,15 where the Court of First Instance judge motu
propio and not in the proper denaturalization proceedings called to court various
grantees of certificates of naturalization (who had already taken their oaths of
allegiance) and cancelled their certificates of naturalization due to procedural
infirmities, the Court held that:

x x x It may be true that, as alleged by said respondents, that the proceedings for
naturalization were tainted with certain infirmities, fatal or otherwise, but that is beside
the point in this case. The jurisdiction of the court to inquire into and rule upon such
infirmities must be properly invoked in accordance with the procedure laid down by law.
Such procedure is the cancellation of the naturalization certificate. [Section 1(5),
Commonwealth Act No. 63], in the manner fixed in Section 18 of Commonwealth Act
No. 473, hereinbefore quoted, namely, "upon motion made in the proper proceedings by
the Solicitor General or his representatives, or by the proper provincial fiscal." In other
words, the initiative must come from these officers, presumably after previous
investigation in each particular case.

Clearly, under law and jurisprudence, it is the State, through its representatives
designated by statute, that may question the illegally or invalidly procured certificate of
naturalization in the appropriate denaturalization proceedings. It is plainly not a matter
that may be raised by private persons in an election case involving the naturalized
citizen’s descendant.

Vilando asserts that as an incident in determining the eligibility of Limkaichong, the


HRET, having the plenary, absolute and exclusive jurisdiction to determine her
qualifications, can pass upon the efficacy of the certificate of naturalization.

True, the HRET has jurisdiction over quo warranto petitions, specifically over cases
challenging ineligibility on the ground of lack of citizenship. No less than the 1987
Constitution vests the HRET the authority to be the sole judge of all contests relating to
the election, returns and qualifications of its Members. This constitutional power is
likewise echoed in the 2004 Rules of the HRET. Rule 14 thereof restates this duty, thus:

Rule 14. Jurisdiction. – The Tribunal is the sole judge of all contests relating to the
election, returns, and qualifications of the Members of the House of Representatives.

Time and again, this Court has acknowledged this sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the
HRET.16 The power granted to HRET by the Constitution is intended to be as complete
and unimpaired as if it had remained originally in the legislature.17 Such power is
regarded as full, clear and complete and excludes the exercise of any authority on the
part of this Court that would in any wise restrict it or curtail it or even affect the same.18

Such power of the HRET, no matter how complete and exclusive, does not carry with it
the authority to delve into the legality of the judgment of naturalization in the pursuit of
disqualifying Limkaichong. To rule otherwise would operate as a collateral attack on the
citizenship of the father which, as already stated, is not permissible. The HRET properly
resolved the issue with the following ratiocination:

xxx We note that Jocelyn C. Limkaichong, not the father – Julio Ong Sy, is the
respondent in the present case. The Tribunal may not dwell on deliberating on the
validity of naturalization of the father if only to pursue the end of declaring the daughter
as disqualified to hold office.

Unfortunately, much as the Tribunal wants to resolve said issue, it cannot do so because
its jurisdiction is limited to the qualification of the proclaimed respondent Limkaichong,
being a sitting Member of the Congress.

Evidently, there is no basis to oblige the Tribunal to reopen the naturalization


proceedings for a determination of the citizenship of the ascendant of respondent. A
petition for quo warranto is not a means to achieve that purpose. To rule on this issue
in this quo warranto proceeding will not only be a clear grave abuse of discretion
amounting to a lack or excess of jurisdiction, but also a blatant violation of due process
on the part of the persons who will be affected or who are not parties in this case.19

Thus, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) wrote that "a collateral attack against a
judgment is generally not allowed, unless the judgment is void upon its face or its nullity
is apparent by virtue of its own recitals."20 Under the present situation, there is no
evidence to show that the judgment is void on its face:

As to the Order of the CFI, Negros Oriental dated July 9, 1957 and September 21, 1959
that were offered in evidence, far from proving an invalid oath of allegiance and
certificate of naturalization, being public records, they do in fact constitute legitimate
source of authority for the conferment of status of the father of respondent as
naturalized Filipino. Absent any contrary declaration by a competent court, the Tribunal
presumes the validity of the CFI Orders of July 9, 1957 and September 21, 1959, and the
resulting documentations of Julio Sy’s acquisition of Filipino citizenship by
naturalization as valid and of legal effect. The oath of allegiance and certificate of
naturalization are themselves proofs of the actual conferment of naturalization.21

The HRET, therefore, correctly relied on the presumption of validity of the July 9, 1957
and September 21, 1959 Orders of the Court of First Instance (CFI) Negros Oriental,
which granted the petition and declared Julio Sy a naturalized Filipino absent any
evidence to the contrary.

Records disclose that Limkaichong was born in Dumaguete City on November 9, 1959.
The governing law is the citizenship provision of the 1935 Constitution, the pertinent
portion thereof, reads:

Article IV

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

xxx

(3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines.

(4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and, upon reaching the age of
majority, elect Philippine citizenship.

xxx

Indubitably, with Limkaichong’s father having been conferred the status as a


naturalized Filipino, it follows that she is a Filipino citizen born to a Filipino father.

Even on the assumption that the naturalization proceedings and the subsequent
issuance of certificate of naturalization were invalid, Limkaichong can still be
considered a natural-born Filipino citizen having been born to a Filipino mother and
having impliedly elected Filipino citizenship when she reached majority age. The HRET
is, thus, correct in declaring that Limkaichong is a natural-born Filipino citizen:

Respondent Limkaichong falls under the category of those persons whose fathers are
citizens of the Philippines. (Section 1(3), Article IV, 1935 Constitution) It matters not
whether the father acquired citizenship by birth or by naturalization. Therefore,
following the line of transmission through the father under the 1935 Constitution, the
respondent has satisfactorily complied with the requirement for candidacy and for
holding office, as she is a natural-born Filipino citizen.

Likewise, the citizenship of respondent Limkaichong finds support in paragraph 4,


Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution.

Having failed to prove that Anesia Sy lost her Philippine citizenship, respondent can be
considered a natural born citizen of the Philippines, having been born to a mother who
was a natural-born Filipina at the time of marriage, and because respondent was able to
elect citizenship informally when she reached majority age. Respondent participated in
the barangay elections as a young voter in 1976, accomplished voter’s affidavit as of
1984, and ran as a candidate and was elected as Mayor of La Libertad, Negros Oriental
in 2004. These are positive acts of election of Philippine citizenship. The case of In
re: Florencio Mallare, elucidates how election of citizenship is manifested in actions
indubitably showing a definite choice. We note that respondent had informally elected
citizenship after January 17, 1973 during which time the 1973 Constitution considered as
citizens of the Philippines all those who elect citizenship in accordance with the 1935
Constitution. The 1987 Constitution provisions, i.e., Section 1(3), Article [IV] and
Section 2, Article [IV] were enacted to correct the anomalous situation where one born
of a Filipino father and an alien mother was automatically accorded the status of a
natural-born citizen, while one born of a Filipino mother and an alien father would still
have to elect Philippine citizenship yet if so elected, was not conferred natural-born
status. It was the intention of the framers of the 1987 Constitution to treat equally those
born before the 1973 Constitution and who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching
the age of majority either before or after the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution. Thus,
those who would elect Philippine citizenship under par. 3, Section 1, Article [IV] of the
1987 Constitution are now, under Section 2, Article [IV] thereof also natural-born
Filipinos. The following are the pertinent provisions of the 1987 Constitution:

Article IV

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this
Constitution;

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines;

(3) Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

Section 2. Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth
without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.
Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1
hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.22

Vilando’s assertion that Limkaichong cannot derive Philippine citizenship from her
mother because the latter became a Chinese citizen when she married Julio Sy, as
provided for under Section 1 (7) of Commonwealth Act No. 63 in relation to Article 2 (1)
Chapter II of the Chinese Revised Nationality Law of February 5, 1959, must likewise
fail.

As aptly pointed out by the HRET, Vilando was not able to offer in evidence a duly
certified true copy of the alleged Chinese Revised Law of Nationality to prove that
Limkaichong’s mother indeed lost her Philippine citizenship. Verily, Vilando failed to
establish his case through competent and admissible evidence to warrant a reversal of
the HRET ruling.

Also, an application for an alien certificate of registration (ACR) is not an indubitable


proof of forfeiture of Philippine citizenship. It is well to quote the ruling of the HRET on
this matter, to wit:

An alien certificate of registration is issued to an individual who declares that he is not a


Filipino citizen. It is obtained only when applied for. It is in a form prescribed by the
agency and contains a declaration by the applicant of his or her personal information, a
photograph, and physical details that identify the applicant. It bears no indication of
basis for foreign citizenship, nor proof of change to foreign citizenship. It certifies that a
person named therein has applied for registration and fingerprinting and that such
person was issued a certificate of registration under the Alien Registration Act of 1950
or other special law. It is only evidence of registration.

Unlike birth certificates registered pursuant to Act 3753 (The Civil Register Law), and
much less like other public records referred to under Section 23, Rule 132, an alien
certificate of registration is not a public document that would be prima facie evidence of
the truth of facts contained therein. On its face, it only certifies that the applicant had
submitted himself or herself to registration. Therefore, there is no presumption of
alienage of the declarant. This is especially so where the declarant has in fact been a
natural-born Filipino all along and never lost his or her status as such.23 1avvphi1

Thus, obtaining an ACR by Limkaichong’s mother was not tantamount to a repudiation


of her original citizenship. Neither did it result in an acquisition of alien citizenship. In a
string of decisions, this Court has consistently held that an application for, and the
holding of, an alien certificate of registration is not an act constituting renunciation of
Philippine citizenship.24 For renunciation to effectively result in the loss of citizenship,
the same must be express.25Such express renunciation is lacking in this case.

Accordingly, Limkaichong’s mother, being a Filipino citizen, can transmit her


citizenship to her daughter.

Well-settled is the principle that the judgments of the HRET are beyond judicial
interference. The only instance where this Court may intervene in the exercise of its so-
called extraordinary jurisdiction is upon a determination that the decision or resolution
of the HRET was rendered without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of
discretion or upon a clear showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of its power to
constitute a denial of due process of law, or upon a demonstration of a very clear
unmitigated error, manifestly constituting such grave abuse of discretion that there has
to be a remedy for such abuse.26 In this case, there is no showing of any such
arbitrariness or improvidence. The HRET acted well within the sphere of its power when
it dismissed the quo warranto petition.
In fine, this Court finds sufficient basis to sustain the ruling of the HRET which resolved
the issue of citizenship in favor of Limkaichong.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Accordingly, the Court affirms the March 24,
2010 Decision of the HRET declaring that Limkaichong is not disqualified as Member of
the House of Representatives representing the First District, Negros Oriental.

SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 187567 February 15, 2012

THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
NORA FE SAGUN, Respondent.

DECISION

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari filed by the Solicitor General on behalf of
the Republic of the Philippines, seeking the reversal of the April 3, 2009 Decision1 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 3, of Baguio City in Spcl. Pro. Case No. 17-R. The
RTC granted the petition2 filed by respondent Nora Fe Sagun entitled "In re: Judicial
Declaration of Election of Filipino Citizenship, Nora Fe Sagun v. The Local Civil
Registrar of Baguio City."

The facts follow:

Respondent is the legitimate child of Albert S. Chan, a Chinese national, and Marta
Borromeo, a Filipino citizen. She was born on August 8, 1959 in Baguio City3 and did not
elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. In 1992, at the age of 33
and after getting married to Alex Sagun, she executed an Oath of Allegiance4 to the
Republic of the Philippines. Said document was notarized by Atty. Cristeta Leung on
December 17, 1992, but was not recorded and registered with the Local Civil Registrar of
Baguio City.

Sometime in September 2005, respondent applied for a Philippine passport. Her


application was denied due to the citizenship of her father and there being no
annotation on her birth certificate that she has elected Philippine citizenship.
Consequently, she sought a judicial declaration of her election of Philippine citizenship
and prayed that the Local Civil Registrar of Baguio City be ordered to annotate the same
on her birth certificate.

In her petition, respondent averred that she was raised as a Filipino, speaks Ilocano and
Tagalog fluently and attended local schools in Baguio City, including Holy Family
Academy and the Saint Louis University. Respondent claimed that despite her part-
Chinese ancestry, she always thought of herself as a Filipino. She is a registered voter of
Precinct No. 0419A of Barangay Manuel A. Roxas in Baguio City and had voted in local
and national elections as shown in the Voter Certification5 issued by Atty. Maribelle
Uminga of the Commission on Elections of Baguio City.

She asserted that by virtue of her positive acts, she has effectively elected Philippine
citizenship and such fact should be annotated on her record of birth so as to entitle her
to the issuance of a Philippine passport.

On August 7, 2007, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) entered its appearance as
counsel for the Republic of the Philippines and authorized the City Prosecutor of Baguio
City to appear in the above mentioned case.6 However, no comment was filed by the City
Prosecutor.

After conducting a hearing, the trial court rendered the assailed Decision on April 3,
2009 granting the petition and declaring respondent a Filipino citizen. The fallo of the
decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. Petitioner Nora Fe Sagun y


Chan is hereby DECLARED [a] FILIPINO CITIZEN, having chosen or elected Filipino
citizenship.

Upon payment of the required fees, the Local Civil Registrar of Baguio City is hereby
directed to annotate [on] her birth certificate, this judicial declaration of Filipino
citizenship of said petitioner.

IT IS SO ORDERED.7

Contending that the lower court erred in so ruling, petitioner, through the OSG, directly
filed the instant recourse viaa petition for review on certiorari before us. Petitioner
raises the following issues:

Whether or not an action or proceeding for judicial declaration of Philippine


citizenship is procedurally and jurisdictionally permissible; and,

II

Whether or not an election of Philippine citizenship, made twelve (12) years after
reaching the age of majority, is considered to have been made "within a
reasonable time" as interpreted by jurisprudence.8

Petitioner argues that respondent’s petition before the RTC was improper on two
counts: for one, law and jurisprudence clearly contemplate no judicial action or
proceeding for the declaration of Philippine citizenship; and for another, the pleaded
registration of the oath of allegiance with the local civil registry and its annotation on
respondent’s birth certificate are the ministerial duties of the registrar; hence, they
require no court order. Petitioner asserts that respondent’s petition before the trial court
seeking a judicial declaration of her election of Philippine citizenship undeniably entails
a determination and consequent declaration of her status as a Filipino citizen which is
not allowed under our legal system. Petitioner also argues that if respondent’s intention
in filing the petition is ultimately to have her oath of allegiance registered with the local
civil registry and annotated on her birth certificate, then she does not have to resort to
court proceedings.

Petitioner further argues that even assuming that respondent’s action is sanctioned, the
trial court erred in finding respondent as having duly elected Philippine citizenship
since her purported election was not in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law
and was not made within a "reasonable time." Petitioner points out that while
respondent executed an oath of allegiance before a notary public, there was no affidavit
of her election of Philippine citizenship. Additionally, her oath of allegiance which was
not registered with the nearest local civil registry was executed when she was already 33
years old or 12 years after she reached the age of majority. Accordingly, it was made
beyond the period allowed by law.

In her Comment,9 respondent avers that notwithstanding her failure to formally elect
Filipino citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, she has in fact effectively elected
Filipino citizenship by her performance of positive acts, among which is the exercise of
the right of suffrage. She claims that she had voted and participated in all local and
national elections from the time she was of legal age. She also insists that she is a
Filipino citizen despite the fact that her "election" of Philippine citizenship was delayed
and unregistered.

In reply,10 petitioner argues that the special circumstances invoked by respondent, like
her continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines, her having been educated in
schools in the country, her choice of staying here despite the naturalization of her
parents as American citizens, and her being a registered voter, cannot confer on her
Philippine citizenship as the law specifically provides the requirements for acquisition of
Philippine citizenship by election.

Essentially, the issues for our resolution are: (1) whether respondent’s 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.

The petition is meritorious.

At the outset, it is necessary to stress that a direct recourse to this Court from the
decisions, final resolutions and orders of the RTC may be taken where only questions of
law are raised or involved. There is a question of law when the doubt or difference arises
as to what the law is on a certain state of facts, which does not call for an examination of
the probative value of the evidence presented by the parties-litigants. On the other hand,
there is a question of fact when the doubt or controversy arises as to the truth or falsity
of the alleged facts. Simply put, when there is no dispute as to fact, the question of
whether the conclusion drawn therefrom is correct or not, is a question of law.11

In the present case, petitioner assails the propriety of the decision of the trial court
declaring respondent a Filipino citizen after finding that respondent was able to
substantiate her election of Filipino citizenship. Petitioner contends that respondent’s
petition for judicial declaration of election of Philippine citizenship is procedurally and
jurisdictionally impermissible. Verily, petitioner has raised questions of law as the
resolution of these issues rest solely on what the law provides given the attendant
circumstances.

In granting the petition, the trial court stated:

This Court believes that petitioner was able to fully substantiate her petition regarding
her election of Filipino citizenship, and the Local Civil Registrar of Baguio City should
be ordered to annotate in her birth certificate her election of Filipino citizenship. This
Court adds that the petitioner’s election of Filipino citizenship should be welcomed by
this country and people because the petitioner has the choice to elect citizenship of
powerful countries like the United States of America and China, however, petitioner has
chosen Filipino citizenship because she grew up in this country, and has learned to love
the Philippines. Her choice of electing Filipino citizenship is, in fact, a testimony that
many of our people still wish to live in the Philippines, and are very proud of our
country.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. Petitioner Nora Fe Sagun y


Chan is hereby DECLARED as FILIPINO CITIZEN, having chosen or elected Filipino
citizenship.12

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.13 There is
no specific legislation authorizing the institution of a judicial proceeding to declare that
a given person is part of our citizenry.14 This was our ruling in Yung Uan Chu v.
Republic15citing the early case of Tan v. Republic of the Philippines,16 where we
clearly stated:

Under our laws, there can be no action or proceeding for the judicial declaration of the
citizenship of an individual. Courts of justice exist for settlement of justiciable
controversies, which imply a given right, legally demandable and enforceable, an act or
omission violative of said right, and a remedy, granted or sanctioned by law, for said
breach of right. As an incident only of the adjudication of the rights of the parties to a
controversy, the court may pass upon, and make a pronouncement relative to their
status. Otherwise, such a pronouncement is beyond judicial power. x x x

Clearly, it was erroneous for the trial court to make a specific declaration of respondent’s
Filipino citizenship as such pronouncement was not within the court’s competence.
As to the propriety of respondent’s 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. Sec. 1, Art. IV of the 1935 Constitution reads:

Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

xxxx

(4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and, upon reaching the age of
majority, elect Philippine citizenship.

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 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.17 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.19

Being a legitimate child, respondent’s 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.20 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.21 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. 625,22 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, to wit:
Section 1. The option to elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with subsection (4),
[S]ection 1, Article IV, of the Constitution shall be expressed in a statement to be signed
and sworn to by the party concerned before any officer authorized to administer oaths,
and shall be filed with the nearest civil registry. The said party shall accompany the
aforesaid statement with the oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the Government
of the Philippines.

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.23

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.24 Pertinently, the person electing Philippine citizenship
is required to file a petition with the Commission of Immigration and Deportation (now
Bureau of Immigration) 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.25 Afterwards,
the same is elevated to the Ministry (now Department) of Justice for final determination
and review.26 1âwphi1

It should be stressed that there is no specific statutory or procedural rule which


authorizes the direct filing of a petition for declaration of election of Philippine
citizenship before the courts. The special proceeding provided under Section 2, Rule 108
of the Rules of Court on Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil
Registry, merely allows any interested party to file an action for cancellation or
correction of entry in the civil registry, i.e., election, loss and recovery of citizenship,
which is not the relief prayed for by the respondent.

Be that as it may, even if we set aside this procedural infirmity, still the trial court’s
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 respondent’s 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.27 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, respondent’s petition before
the trial court must be denied.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated April 3, 2009 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 3 of Baguio City in Spcl. Pro. Case No. 17-R is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. The petition for judicial declaration of election of Philippine citizenship
filed by respondent Nora Fe Sagun is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION

March 18, 2015

G.R. No. 200983

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
HUANG TE FU a.k.a. ROBERT UY, Respondent.

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

This case reiterates the rule in naturalization cases that when full and complete
compliance with the requirements of the Revised Naturalization Law, or Commonwealth
Act No. 473 (CA 473), is not shown, a petition for naturalization must be perfunctorily
denied.

This Petition for Review on Certiorari1 seeks to set aside 1) the November 29, 2011
Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 91213 affirming the
September 24, 2007 Order3 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 96 in
Nat. Case/Spec. Proc. No. Q-05-55251, as well as 2) the CA's March 7, 2012
Resolution4denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.5

Factual Antecedents

On March 19, 2004, respondent Huang Te Fu, a.k.a. Robert Uy – a citizen of the
Republic of China (Taiwan) – filed a sworn Declaration of Intent to Become [a] Citizen
of the Philippines6 with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

On April 27, 2005, respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City (trial
court) a Petition for Naturalization,7 which was docketed as Spec. Proc. No. Q-05-55251
and assigned to Branch 96. The Petition states:

I apply for naturalization as citizen of the Philippines and to the Court, respectfully
shows [sic]:

First: My full name is HUANG TE FU, also known as ROBERT UY;

Second: My places of residence were:

1982 1 Santiago Street, Malinta, Valenzuela City

1982 to 1984 Biak na Bato, San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City

1984 to 1994 235 C 3rd Street, 10th Avenue, Caloocan City

1994 to present 64-A Parklane Street, Barangay Sangandaan, Project 8,


Quezon City;

Third: My trade or profession is a Businessman engaged in the manufacture of zipper,


in which I have been connected since 1992; and from which I derive an average monthly
income of P15,000.00;

Fourth: I was born on the 15th day of August 1976 in Taiwan. I am at present a Citizen
or subject of the Republic of China, under whose laws Filipinos may become naturalized
citizens or subjects thereof [sic];

Fifth: I am married to a Filipino, IRENE D. CHAN, 28 years of age, having been born on
11 April 1977 at Manila, and with whom I have two (2) children, namely: ROCHELLE
IVY C. HUANG, 3 years of age, who was born on 26 March 2002 at [sic] Quezon City;
and REYNARD IVAN C. HUANG, 1 year of age, who was born on 25 February 2004 at
[sic] Quezon City. My wife and two children are presently residing with me at 64-A
Parklane Street, Barangay Sangandaan, Project 8, Quezon City;

Sixth: I arrived in the Philippines via China Airlines on the 13th of August 1982;
Seventh: I have filed my Declaration of Intent to Become a Citizen of the Philippines
with the Office of the Solicitor General on 4 March 2004, pursuant to and in compliance
with Section 5 of Commonwealth Act No. 473, as amended;8

Eighth: I have resided continuously, for the last twenty three (23) years, in the
Philippines since my arrival. I have received my primary education at Philippine
Cultural High School; secondary education at Philippine Cultural High School; and
finished my college education at Ateneo de Manila University with the degree of
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, respectively, which are schools recognized by
the Government and not limited to any race or nationality;

Ninth: I am able to speak and write English and Filipino;

Tenth: I believe in the principle underlying the Philippine Constitution. I am of good


moral character and have conducted myself in a proper and irreproachable manner
during the entire period of my residence in the Philippines, in my relations with the
constituted Government as well as with the community in which I am living. I have
mingled socially with the Filipinos, and have evinced a sincere desire to learn and
embrace the customs, traditions, and ideals of the Filipinos. I have all the qualifications
required under Section 2, a special qualification under Section 3, by being married to a
Filipino woman, and none of the disqualifications under Section 4 of Commonwealth
Act No. 473;

I am not opposed to organized government or affiliated with any


association or group of persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing
all organized governments. I am not defending or teaching the necessity or
propriety of violence, personal assault, or assassination for the success and
predominance of men’s ideas. I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the
practice of polygamy. I have not been convicted of any crime involving
moral turpitude. I am not suffering from any mental alienation or
incurable diseases. The nation of which I am a citizen or subject of is not at
war with the Philippines. The country of which I am a citizen or subject of
grants Filipinos the right to become naturalized citizens or subjects
thereof;

Eleventh: It is my intention in good faith to become a citizen or subject of the


Philippines and to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to my
foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to the Republic of China
of which at this time I am a citizen or subject. I will reside continuously in the
Philippines from the date of the filing of my petition up to the time of my admission to
the Philippine Citizenship;

Twelfth: I have not heretofore made any petition for citizenship to any Court;

Thirteenth: Mr. BENJAMIN A. MORALEDA, JR., of legal age, married, residing at 82-A
Maginoo Street, Barangay Central, Quezon City, and Ms. BELLA RAMONA A.
ANTONANO, of legal age, single, residing at 1 Ligaya Street, Mandaluyong City, who are
both Filipinos, will appear and testify as my witnesses at the hearing of my herein
petition.

Attached hereto and made an integral part of this petition are: (a) the Original
Certification of Arrival from the Bureau of Immigration (Annex "A");(b) Declaration of
Intent to Become a Citizen of the Philippines (Annex "B"); (c) Affidavit of the two
witnesses (Annexes "C" and "D"); and (d) my two recent photographs (Annexes "E" and
"E-1").

WHEREFORE, petitioner prays that he be admitted a citizen of the Philippines.9

After trial, the trial court issued a September 24, 2007 Order10 granting respondent’s
petition for naturalization, decreeing thus:

Petitioner11 thereafter testified that he was born on August 15, 1976 in Taiwan; that his
father, Huang Ping-Hsung, and mother, Huang Wen, Chiu-Yueh are both Chinese
nationals; that he is the holder of Alien Certificate of Registration No. E062035 and
Immigrant Certificate of Residence No. 259804; that he resided at Lin 4, Chienkuo Li,
Panchiao City, Taipei County, Taiwan Province since his birth until he came to Manila,
Philippines on August 13, 1982; that he first stayed at Santiago Street, Valenzuela City;
that they transferred to Biak-na-Bato Street, San Francisco Del Monte and they later
transferred to 23-C, 3rd Street, 10th Avenue, Caloocan City; that petitioner presently
resides at No. 64- A Parklane Street, Barangay Sangandaan, Project 8, Quezon City; that
he attended Philippine Cultural High School for his elementary and secondary
education; that he attended Ateneo de Manila University where he took up Bachelor of
Science in Computer Science.

When petitioner graduated from College in the year 2000, he worked as General
Manager of MIT Zipper, a company owned by the family of the petitioner; that as a
businessman he conscientiously files Income Tax Returns; that he is presently married
to Irene Chan, a Filipino citizen on October 01, 2000; that he has two children namely,
Rochelle Ivy C. Huang, 3 years old, and Reynard Ivan C. Huang, 1 year old and that he
and his family are presently residing at 64-A Parklane Street, Barangay Sangandaan,
Project 8, Quezon City.1âwphi1

Petitioner further alleged that he believes in the principles underlying the Philippine
Constitution. He had conducted himself in a proper, irreproachable manner during his
entire period of residence in the Philippines in his relations with the constituted
government as well as with the community in which he is living. These allegations are
evinced by the clearances petitioner was able to secure from the Philippine National
Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Office of the Clerk of Court – Regional Trial
Court, Quezon City, and the Office of the City Prosecutor. He has mingled socially with
the Filipinos, and have [sic] evinced a sincere desire to learn and embrace the customs,
traditions, and ideals of the Filipinos.

Petitioner further alleged that he is not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of
polygamy. He has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude. He is not
suffering from any mental alienation or any incurable or contagious disease. The nation
of which he is presently a citizen or subject of, is not at war with the Philippines. He is
not opposed to organized government or affiliated with any association or group of
persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing all organized governments. He has all
the qualifications required and none of the disqualifications under Commonwealth Act
No. 473, as amended.

Moreover, petitioner’s intention to become a citizen of the Philippines is being done in


good faith, and to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any
foreign state, prince, potentate or sovereignty and particularly to the Chinese
Government of which at this time he is a citizen and subject, and that petitioner shall
reside continuously in the Philippines from the date of filing of this petition up to the
time of [his] admission to the Philippine Citizenship.

Based on the foregoing, the Court believes that the petitioner was able to establish by
sufficient evidence, both testimonial and documentary, that he has all the qualifications
and none of the disqualifications provided for under the law which will warrant the
granting of the relief being prayed for.

ACCORDINGLY, therefore, the petition for admission as citizen of the Philippines is


hereby GRANTED.

This decision shall become executory after two (2) years from its promulgation and after
the Court, after hearing, with the attendance of the Solicitor General or his
representative, is satisfied, and so finds that during the intervening time the applicant
has (1) not left the Philippines, (2) dedicated himself continuously to a lawful calling or
profession, (3) not been convicted of any offense or violation of government[-
]promulgated rules, or (4) committed any act of [sic] prejudicial to the interest of the
nation or contrary to any government renounced [sic] policies.

SO ORDERED.12

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Petitioner filed an appeal with the CA, which was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 91213.
Petitioner contended in its Appellant’s Brief13 that respondent may not become a
naturalized Filipino citizen because: 1) he does not own real estate in the Philippines; 2)
he does not have some known lucrative trade, profession or lawful occupation; 3) he is
not gainfully employed, as he merely worked in the business owned by his family and
was merely given allowances by his parents for the daily expenses of his family; 4) in an
August 2001 Deed of Sale14 covering a parcel of land in Antipolo City he and his wife
supposedly purchased, respondent falsely misrepresented himself as a Filipino citizen,
thus exemplifying his lack of good moral character; 5) his income tax returns for the
years 2002, 2003 and 2004 reveal that his actual monthly income differs from his
monthly income as declared in his petition for naturalization, leading to the conclusion
that either he is evading taxes or concealing the truth regarding his income; and 6) on
cross-examination by petitioner, he could not cite any of the principles underlying the
Philippine Constitution which he is supposed to believe in.

In a short Comment/Opposition15 to petitioner’s brief, respondent admitted that while


"he was merely made to sign the Deed of Sale" which falsely represented him as a
Filipino citizen, he "had nothing to do with the preparation" thereof and was "unaware"
that his citizenship was even indicated therein – "he just signed the document as
requested by the broker so that the property will be registered in the name of his wife;"
that the discrepancy between his income declarations in his tax returns and the declared
income in his petition for naturalization came to light and resulted from the fact that "he
does not personally file his income tax returns and that he merely received salaries in
the range of P15,000.00 per month considering that he is employed in a family
corporation;" that "most of his expenses are taken care of by his parents who own the
corporation," and this has been explained during his cross-examination; that while
petitioner claimed that he could not cite any underlying principles of the Constitution,
he was not confronted by the former about these principles during the proceedings; and
that petitioner’s opposition is based merely on conjecture and particular portions of the
evidence which do not represent the whole context of the proceedings.

On November 29, 2011, the CA issued the assailed Decision, pronouncing thus:

First off, an examination of the evidence presented during the proceedings below shows
that the petitioner-appellee16 has been engaged in some lucrative trade or lawful
occupation. He works as general manager in their family-owned business, Crown
Shipper Manufacturer and Trading Corporation, a zipper manufacturing company
employing workers mostly coming from the province.

Prior to his appointment as general manager, petitioner-appellee has also been working
in the family’s business before his parents turned over the management of its affairs.
This is evidenced by the increase in the declared gross income of the petitioner-appellee
in his Income Tax Returns filed for the years 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. The extent of
the operations of the petitioner- appellee’s family business and his involvement in the
management thereof are corroborated by the testimonies of Atty. Benjamin Moraleda
and Atty. Bella Ramona Antonano, both friends of the Huang family and the petitioner-
appellee since 1987 and 1994, respectively. Both witnesses also testified that the
petitioner-appellee possessed all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications to
become a naturalized citizen of the Philippines.

Secondly, the Solicitor General also averred that the petitioner-appellee failed to
conduct himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during his entire stay or
residence in the Philippines. It noted that the petitioner-appellee stated in his petition
that he earns an average of P15,000.00 per month but his declared gross income for
2002 and 2003 indicated that he earned P120,000.00 annually while in 2004, his
annual gross income was P210,000.00. The Solicitor General contended that because of
the petitioner-appellee’s failure to divulge his true income, his moral character has been
tainted.
We hold otherwise.

Absent a clear and unmistakable showing that the petitioner-appellee knowingly and
deliberately filed a fraudulent return with intent to evade tax or that he has concealed
the truth in his income tax returns, the presumption that the latter has regularly filed his
return prevails. The petitioner-appellee has, in fact, explained before the trial court that
his salary is not exactly fixed; sometimes he earns more or sometimes less than his
estimated or average monthly earnings which could well be between P15,000.00 to
P18,000.00. He even testified that he is not included in the payroll since his parents
own the company and his salaries are handed to him by his parents.

In the case of Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals and Loh Khuan Fatt, the
Supreme Court did not agree with the argument of the Solicitor General that there had
been a willful failure on the part of the applicant to disclose the petitioner’s true income,
thereby tainting his moral character. The discrepancy between the petitioner’s estimate
of his income in his application and that declared by him during his direct testimony
should not be taken against him as an indication of intent to evade payment of taxes. x x
x

xxxx

Lastly, the Solicitor General argued that petitioner-appellee is disqualified from


becoming a citizen of the Philippines because he could not even cite any of the principles
underlying the Constitution during cross- examination x x x.

xxxx

We agree with the observation of the petitioner-appellee that the oppositor’s


representative during the cross-examination was actually asking the petitioner-appellee
to recite what these underlying principles of the Constitution are in a manner which a
law professor would normally ask his Political Law students. Not being able to
enumerate the principles in verbatim does not necessarily mean that one does not
believe in the Constitution. What is important is that the petitioner-appellee declared
under oath that he believes in the principles underlying the Constitution, and that he
had no derogatory or criminal record which would be a clear violation of the law of the
land. Apparently, during cross-examination the oppositor-appellant did not confront the
petitioner- appellee of the principles which it thought the latter does not believe in.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED and the Decision dated September 24, 2007 of
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 96 in Naturalization Case No. Q-05-
55251 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.17

Petitioner moved for reconsideration, but in its March 7, 2012 Resolution, the appellate
court stood its ground.
Issue

Thus, the instant Petition was filed, raising the following issue:

WHETHER X X X RESPONDENT X X X HAS DULY COMPLIED WITH THE RIGID


REQUISITES PRESCRIBED BY COMMONWEALTH ACT NO. 473, OTHERWISE
KNOWN AS THE REVISED NATURALIZATION LAW, AS TO ENTITLE HIM TO BE
ADMITTED AS A CITIZEN OF THE PHILIPPINES.18

Petitioner’s Arguments

In its Petition and Reply19 seeking the reversal of the assailed CA dispositions as well as
the denial of respondent’s petition for naturalization, petitioner argues that respondent
failed to prove that he is engaged in a lucrative trade, profession or lawful occupation;
that respondent’s admission during trial that he is not even in the payroll of his
employer belies his claim that he is the general manager thereof, as well as his claim that
he is engaged in a lucrative trade; that respondent’s declared monthly income is not
even sufficient for his family, much less could it be considered "lucrative;" that
respondent’s admission that he received allowances from his parents to answer for the
daily expenses of his family further proves the point that he does not have a lucrative
trade; that the monthly income declared in respondent’s petition for naturalization
could not be reconciled with the incomes stated in his annual tax returns; that the
inconsistencies in respondent’s testimonial and documentary evidence point to the fact
the he could either be evading taxes or concealing the truth regarding his income, and
indicates that he does not possess the requisite good moral character; that respondent’s
act of falsely declaring himself a Filipino citizen in the August 2001 deed of sale proves
lack of good moral character and defiance of the constitutional prohibition regarding
foreign ownership of land; and that respondent has exhibited lack of knowledge of the
underlying principles of the Philippine Constitution.

Respondent’s Arguments

In his Comment,20 respondent reiterates that the inconsistencies in his income tax
returns and declarations during the naturalization proceedings are explained by the fact
that he does not personally file his income tax returns; that his monthly salary is not
fixed; that most of his expenses are taken cared of by his parents who own the zipper
manufacturing business which employs him; that the Antipolo property was not titled in
his name, but in the name of his wife, and the title thereto merely describes and
indicates that the owner – his wife – is married to him; that he was merely made to sign
the deed of sale, and he had no hand in its preparation – nor was he aware that his
citizenship was indicated therein; and that as he was not a law student, he could not at
the trial be expected to recite verbatim and specifically the underlying legal principles of
the Constitution, which is what petitioner expected him to do at the time.

Our Ruling

The Court finds for petitioner.


In Republic v. Hong,21 it was held in essence that an applicant for naturalization must
show full and complete compliance with the requirements of the naturalization law;
otherwise, his petition for naturalization will be denied. This ponente has likewise held
that "[t]he courts must always be mindful that naturalization proceedings are imbued
with the highest public interest. Naturalization laws should be rigidly enforced and
strictly construed in favor of the government and against the applicant. The burden of
proof rests upon the applicant to show full and complete compliance with the
requirements of law."22

Section 2 of the Revised Naturalization Law or CA 473 requires, among others, that an
applicant for naturalization must be of good moral character and must have some
known lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation. In regard to the requirement
that the applicant must have a known lucrative trade, this ponente declared:

Based on jurisprudence, the qualification of "some known lucrative trade, profession, or


lawful occupation" means "not only that the person having the employment
gets enough for his ordinary necessities in life. It must be shown that the
employment gives one an income such that there is an appreciable margin
of his income over his expenses as to be able to provide for an adequate
support in the event of unemployment, sickness, or disability to work and
thus avoid one’s becoming the object of charity or a public charge." His
income should permit "him and the members of his family to live with
reasonable comfort, in accordance with the prevailing standard of living,
and consistently with the demands of human dignity, at this stage of our
civilization."

Moreover, it has been held that in determining the existence of a lucrative income, the
courts should consider only the applicant’s income; his or her spouse’s income should
not be included in the assessment. The spouse’s additional income is immaterial "for
under the law the petitioner should be the one to possess ‘some known lucrative trade,
profession or lawful occupation’ to qualify him to become a Filipino citizen." Lastly, the
Court has consistently held that the applicant’s qualifications must be determined as of
the time of the filing of his petition.23 (Emphasis supplied)

From the above, it may be concluded that there is no basis for the CA finding that
respondent is engaged in a lucrative trade. Indeed, his supposed income of P15,000.00
to P18,000.00 per month as found by the CA is not enough for the support of his family.
By his own admission, most of his family’s daily expenses are still shouldered by his
parents who own the zipper manufacturing business which employs him. This simply
means that respondent continues to be a burden to, and a charge upon, his parents; he
lives on the charity of his parents. He cannot support his own family on his own.

Indeed, it is even doubtful that respondent is carrying on a trade at all. He admitted


during trial that he was not even listed or included in the payroll of his family’s zipper
business. If this is the case, then he may not be considered an employee thereof. One of
the most effective pieces of evidence to prove employment – aside from the employment
contract itself and other documents such as daily time records24 – is a worker’s inclusion
in the payroll. With this admitted fact, one may not be faulted for believing that
respondent’s alleged employment in his family’s zipper business was contrived for the
sole purpose of complying with the legal requirements prior to obtaining Philippine
citizenship.1âwphi1

On the other hand, even assuming that respondent was indeed employed by his parents,
his non-inclusion in the payroll for all the years he has worked in his parents’
business25 suggests – as correctly argued by petitioner – an intent to evade taxes or to
conceal the true nature of his employment and the amount of his salary or income. It is
concealment of the truth; an attempt to circumvent with impunity the tax laws, labor
laws relative to the employment of aliens, and other laws that would otherwise regulate
respondent’s actions during his stay in this country. Indeed, without payroll records, it
can never be said that respondent works for his parents’ zipper business. If such is the
case, then respondent is not required to state in his income tax return – as is the case –
his employer and what he actually receives as salary therefrom; he is free to
conveniently declare any amount of income in his tax returns.

Either way, respondent’s deliberate non-inclusion in the payroll of his parents’


business can have only the most unpleasant connotations. And his consent to be part of
such scheme reflects negatively on his moral character. It shows a proclivity for
untruthfulness and dishonesty, and an unreserved willingness and readiness to violate
Philippine laws.

The appellate court’s reliance upon the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals26 is
misplaced. In that case, there was only a discrepancy between the applicant’s estimate of
his income in his application and that declared by him during his direct testimony. In
the present case, respondent is not at all listed on the payroll of his parent’s business,
where he is supposed to be its general manager. As a result, there is absolutely no basis
for the correct determination of his income; instead, he invites Us to conveniently rely
on his income tax returns and his unilateral declarations. As We have earlier said, if We
are to believe them, then still, they are insufficient to generate a conclusion that
respondent is carrying on a lucrative trade; he cannot support his family from his
declared income.

Moreover, respondent’s admitted false declaration under oath contained in the August
2001 deed of sale that he is a Filipino citizen – which he did to secure the seamless
registration of the property in the name of his wife – is further proof of respondent’s
lack of good moral character. It is also a violation of the constitutional prohibition on
ownership of lands by foreign individuals.27 His defense that he unknowingly signed the
deed is unacceptable. First of all, as a foreigner living in a foreign land, he should
conduct himself accordingly in this country – with care, circumspect, and respect for the
laws of the host. Finally, as an educated and experienced businessman, it must be
presumed that he acted with due care and signed the deed of sale with full knowledge of
its import.28

Having decided in the foregoing manner, We must conclude the instant case and
disregard the other issues and arguments of the parties; they are deemed irrelevant and
will not alter the conclusion arrived at. As far as this Court is concerned, respondent has
failed to satisfy the law which renders him completely undeserving of Filipino
citizenship.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The November 29, 2011 Decision and
March 7, 2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 91213
are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The September 24, 2007 Order of the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 96 in Nat. Case/Spec. Proc. No. Q-05-55251 is
likewise ANNULLED and SET ASIDE, and the respondent’s Petition for
Naturalization in said case is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION

July 29, 2015

G.R. No. 210412

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
KAMRAN F. KARBASI, Respondent.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

The Contracting States shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and
naturalization of refugees. They shall in particular make every effort to expedite
naturalization proceedings and to reduce as far as possible the charges and costs of
such proceedings. 1

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing
the January 29, 2013 Decision2 and the November 27, 20133 Resolution of the Court of
Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CV No. 01126-MIN, which affirmed the January 17, 2007
Order of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 10, Dipolog City (RTC), in a naturalization
case docketed as Naturalization Case No. 2866. The RTC order granted the petition for
naturalization and, thus, admitted Karman F. Karbasi as a citizen of the Philippines.

The Facts

On June 25, 2002, Kamran F. Karbasi (Karbasi) filed a petition for naturalization with
the RTC, where he alleged the following:

1. His full name is Kamran F. Karbasi;


2. He is recognized as a Person of Concern by the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as shown in a certification duly issued by the
UNHCR;

3. He is presently residing with his family at 341 Burgos Street, Dipolog City, since early
part of June 2000 and more so has resided continuously in the Philippines for not less
than 11 years immediately preceding the date of this petition; to wit, since 11 July 1990
and in Dipolog City for more than one (1) year;

4. His last place of foreign residence was Pakistan and his other places of residence,
prior to his present residence, were as follows (i) Panay Ave., Quezon City; (ii) Sta.
Filomena, Dipolog City; (iii) Capitol Area, Dumaguete City; (iv) Dohinob, Roxas,
Zamboanga del Norte;

5. He was born on 4 September 1966 in Tehran, Iran, as shown in his identity card
which also serves as his birth certificate;

6. He is married and is the father of one (1) child;

7. His wife Cliji G. Lim Karbasi is a Filipino citizen, 22 years old and born on 10 August
1979 in Cebu City, whom he married on 12 October 2000 in Dipolog City, as shown in

their certificate of marriage;

8. His child, Keenyji L. Karbasi, 1-year old , was born on 9 June 2001 in Dipolog City
and presently residing with him and his wife at 341 Burgos Street, Dipolog City;

9. He arrived in Manila, Philippines, under an assumed name (Syed Gul Agha) from
Pakistan on 11 July 1990 specifically at the Manila International Airport on board
Philippine Airlines Flight No. 731, per UNHCR certification containing reference to his
Pakistani passport issued under said assumed name;

10. Due to his marriage, he is entitled to the benefit of Section 3 of Commonwealth Act
No. 473, which reduced to five years the ten year requirement of continuous residence;

11. He speaks and writes English and Visayan;

12. His trade or occupation is as a repair technician in which he has been engaged since
1998 and, as such, he derives an average annual income of Php 80,000.00 more or less;

13. He has all the qualifications required under Section 2 and none of the
disqualifications under Section 4, of the Commonwealth Act No. 473;

14. He has complied with the requirements of the Naturalization Law (Commonwealth
Act No. 473) regarding the filing with the Office of the Solicitor General of his bona fide
intention to become a citizen of the Philippines, as shown in his Declaration of Intention
duly filed on 25 May 2001;
15. It is his intention in good faith to become a citizen of the Philippines and to renounce
absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or
sovereignty, and particularly to Iran of which, at this time, he is a citizen or subject; that
he will reside continuously in the Philippines from the date of filing of this petition up to
the time of his admission to Philippine citizenship;

16. Dominador Natividad Tagulo, of legal age, Filipino, married and residing at ABC
Compound, Quezon Ave., Miputak, Dipolog City and Alton C. Ratificar, of legal age,
Filipino, married and residing at 047 Burgos Street, Dipolog City, who are Filipino
citizens, whose affidavits are attached to his petition, will appear and testify as witnesses
at the hearing thereof.

[Emphasis Supplied]

On July 2, 2002, after finding the petition sufficient in form and substance, the RTC
issued an order setting the petition for hearing on October 21, 2002 and ordering the
publication thereof, once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks, in the Official Gazette
and in a newspaper of general circulation in Zamboanga del Norte and in the cities of
Dipolog and Dapitan. In the same Order, persons concerned were enjoined to show
cause, if any, why the petition should not be granted and oppose the petition.

On July 22, 2002, the RTC amended its previous order and, with notice to the Office of
the Solicitor General (OSG), reset the hearing on September 10, 2003 instead because
the National Printing Office could no longer accommodate the publication requirement
before the first hearing date.

On December 2, 9 and 16, 2002, copies of the amended order and Karbasi’s petition
were published in the Official Gazette. Subsequently, the same were published in Press
Freedom on January 27, February 3 and 10, 2003. The said copies were likewise posted
on the bulletin boards of the RTC and the Municipal Building of Roxas, Zamboanga del
Norte and Capitol Building, Dipolog City.

On September 10, 2003, Karbasi and his counsel appeared and presented proof of
compliance with the jurisdictional requirements. Nobody appeared to interpose an
objection to the petition. During the hearing on May 18, 2006, Alton C.
Ratificar (Ratificar) and Dominador Natividad Tagulo (Tagulo) testified as character
witnesses.

Ratificar testified that in 1990, he was introduced to Karbasi whose house was located
about 30 meters away from his; that he came to know him since then; that when Karbasi
got married, he was invited to the wedding ceremony where the then City Mayor of
Dipolog was one of the wedding sponsors; that he also attended the celebration; that he
used to see Karbasi almost every day as he owned an electronics repair shop near his
house; that Karbasi would also allow neighbors, who did not own television sets at
home, to watch shows at his repair shop; that he never heard of any complaint by the
neighbors against Karbasi, who went to church during Sundays and even on weekdays;
that on several occasions, he was invited to Karbasi’s home, where he observed his good
relationship with his in-laws and his treatment of his wife and child which was in
accordance with Filipino customs; and that Karbasi talked to him in both Visayan and
English.

For his part, witness Tagulo testified that he worked at the Andres Bonifacio College and
had known Karbasi since July 1990 when the latter was then enrolled in a vocational
course; that Karbasi was very respectful to his instructors and that he had good grades;
that he treated his schoolmates in accordance with Filipino customs; that he never
showed any inclination to violence; that when Karbasi transferred to Dumaguete City,
he visited him there; and that during this visits, Tagulo witnessed how Karbasi socially
interacted and mingled with the rest of the community.

On August 10, 2006, the wife of Karbasi, Cliji G. Lim (Cliji), also took the witness stand.
She testified that her father introduced her to Karbasi during her graduation party; that
a courtship followed thereafter for five months, during which Karbasi was well-behaved
and acted like any other Filipino; that when Karbasi proposed marriage to her, he was
accompanied by his brother, Ali Karbasi; that Karbasi’s baptism as a Catholic coincided
with her birthday; that after their marriage, they begot two (2) children; that Karbasi
continuously stayed with his family and never returned to Iran; that he was a good
husband, father and provider; that all his income from the repair shop was turned over
to her for the budgeting of the family’s expenses; and that he was then earning a daily
income of P1,000.00.

She added that Karbasi and his family regularly attended the Catholic mass and received
communion; that they were active members of Couples for Christ since 2003; that he
actively participated in Catholic practices like the novena and vigil for her deceased
grandfather; that Karbasi was not a polygamist and that he did not flirt with other
women; that she never heard her husband speak of any terrorist groups; and that he was
never known to have an immoral reputation.

On several hearing dates thereafter, Karbasi himself took the witness stand. As
summarized by the RTC, the gist of his testimony is as follows:

He is an Iranian national. He was born in Tehran, Iran, and resided there since birth up
to 1986. His father is Abdolhossein Karbasi, a doctor in Iran, and his mother is Narjes
Froghnia Karbasi, a retired teacher.

He has five brothers and two sisters. The eldest of the brood, Hamid Reza Karbasi, is in
the United States of America and is now an American Citizen. The second, Dr. Ali Reza
Karbasi, admitted as Filipino citizen in the Regional Trial Court, Branch 6, Dipolog City,
is in the Philippines. The third is Qite Karbasi, his sister. The fourth, his brother, Dr.
Abduoul Reza Karbasi, graduated in India. The fifth, his sister, Kia Karbasi, is a nurse.
The sixth, his brother Qolam Reza Karbasi, is an engineer who graduated in France. His
last four siblings are all in Iran.

He was a Shiite Muslim before he was converted as Roman Catholic. His former religion
believes in the existence of a Supreme Being called God. It believes in the existence of
government and repudiates violence. His said religion is not within an organization of Al
Qaeda, Jemayah Islamiya, or any terrorist group. It also adheres to the principle of one
man-one woman marital relation. He and his brother, Ali Reza Karbasi, left Iran in 1986
because of the war between Iran and Iraq at that time. When the Shah of Iran, Pahlavi,
was overthrown by Ayatolah Khomini in 1979, some Iranian nationals left Iran. He and
Ali Reza, who also condemns the act of overthrowing an existing government by force
and violence, were among those who left. Since the government confiscated his
passport, they traveled by camel and passed by the desert during night time to reach
Pakistan. He stayed there for almost three (3) years,

Being foreigners in Pakistan, they submitted themselves to the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees. However, they were not granted the status of refugee right
away since Pakistan is adjacent to Iran. They had to transfer to a third country not at
war with Iran. Since his brother Ali Reza was already studying in the Philippines, they
decided to come here.

As it was difficult for him to get travel documents, petitioner procured a Pakistani
passport under the assumed name of Syed Gul Agha.

Upon his arrival in the Philippines on July 11, 1990, he submitted himself to the United
Nations in Manila. After several interviews, he was admitted as a refugee and, later on,
as a person of concern. As a refugee, he was granted by the United Nations allowances,
medical benefits and protection to some extent.

After having been interviewed by the Solicitor General regarding his intention to
become a Filipino citizen, he filed the corresponding Declaration of Intention, dated
March 28, 2001, on May 25, 2001.

Sometime in 2002, petitioner, having signified his intention to become a Filipino


citizen, was issued a certification captioned "UN High Commissioner for Refugees,
Liaison Office for the Philippines," dated 25 June 2002, certifying that he has been
recognized as a person of concern who arrived in the Philippines on 11 July 1990 on
board Philippine Airlines flight 731 under an assumed name (Syed Gul Agha).

At the time of the filing of the petition, he was already married and residing at 341
Burgos Street, Dipolog City. However, upon arrival in the Philippines, he first resided at
Panay Avenue, Quezon City, where he stayed for almost six months. During those times,
the United Nations provided him a monthly allowance of P2,800.00, being a refugee.
He then transferred to Burgos Street, Miputak, Dipolog City, where he stayed at the
house of the fatherin- law of his brother Ali Reza for a month.

He then moved to Sta. Filomena, Dipolog City, at the house of his sister-in-law. It was
during this time that he enrolled at Andres Bonifacio College where he studied from
1990 to 1992. He finished a two-year vocational course in said school as evidenced by a
Diploma issued by the Andres Bonifacio College, Dipolog City. In Iran, he finished
Bachelor of Science in Economics.
He then pursued a four-year course (Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology Major
in Electronics) at the Central Visayas Polytechnic College in Dumaguete City. He resided
in the Capitol Area of said city. He was already receiving a monthly allowance of
P4,800.00 from the United Nations at that time. He graduated from said institution as
evidenced by a Diploma issued by said school. He also attended technical trainings
conducted by Asian Durables Manufacturing, Inc. as evidenced by a Certificate of
Attendance issued by said company.

In 1996, he returned to Dipolog City and resided at Burgos Street where he opened his
electronics repair shop (KX3 Electronics Repair Shop).

On October 12, 2000, he got married. The couple transferred to the house of his
parents-in-law after the marriage. When the grandfather of his wife got ill, they were
requested to take care of him. Thus, the couple transferred their residence to Dohinob,
Roxas. However, they moved back to their house in Burgos Street, Dipolog City, as it is
nearer to a hospital. When his grandfather-in-law died, he participated in all the rites
and ceremonies relative to his wake and burial.

At present, his repair shop’s gross monthly income hovers between P20,000.00 to
P25,000.00."4

Additionally, Karbasi claimed that he had never been involved in any demonstration or
mass action protesting any issuances, policies or acts of the Philippine Government and
its officials; that he had never made any rebellious or seditious utterances; that he
believed in the principles underlying the Philippine Constitution and he had even
memorized the preamble; and that he can also sing the Philippine National Anthem and
recite the Filipino Patriotic Pledge, both of which he did in open court.

The following documents were proffered in Karbasi’s Formal Offer of Exhibits: 1]


Identity Card issued by Iran to prove his Iranian citizenship; 2] Pakistani passport with
visa under the assumed name of Syed Gul Agha; 3] Certifications and Identification
Card issued by the UNHCR to prove his status as a refugee and, later, as a "person of
concern"; 4] Alien Certificate of Registration; 5] Certifications to prove Filipino
nationality of Karbasi’s wife, Cliji G. Lim; 6] Certificate of Marriage between Karbasi
and Cliji; 7] Certificates of Live Birth of his children Keenyji and Kerl Jasmen; 8]
Karbasi’s Certificate of Baptism; 9] Affidavits of his character witnesses Alton C.
Ratificar and Dominador Tagulo; 10] Police and NBI Clearances; 11] Certifications and
Diploma to prove his completion of vocational technology, BS Industrial Technology,
and training seminars; 12] Alien Employment Permit for Refugees; 13] Business Permit,
Clearances and DTI Certificates of Accreditation to KX3 Repair Shop, Karbasi’s source
of livelihood; 14] Income Tax Returns for the years 2001 to 2005; and 15] Contract of
Service with Quality Circuits Services, Inc. and Kolins Philippines Intl. Inc., including a
Summary of Accounts paid to KX3 Electronics Repair Shop.5

On January 17, 2007, the RTC found Karbasi’s evidence sufficient to support his
petition. Finding Karbasi as possessing all the qualifications and none of the
disqualifications to become a Filipino citizen, the RTC rendered its decision, the
dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for naturalization filed by


KAMRAN F. KARBASI to be admitted as citizen of the Philippines is hereby GRANTED.

SO ORDERED.6

Not in conformity, the Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG), interposed an appeal to the CA, based mainly on the ground that the
RTC erred in granting Karbasi’s petition as he failed to comply with the provisions of
Commonwealth Act No. 473 (Naturalization Law) on character, income and reciprocity.
Specifically, the OSG pointed out that Karbasi failed to establish that: 1] Iran grants
reciprocal rights of naturalization to Filipino citizens; 2] he has a lucrative income as
required under the law; and 3] he is of good moral character as shown by his disregard
of Philippine tax laws when he had underdeclared his income in his income tax returns
(ITRs) and overstated the same in his petition for naturalization.

On January 29, 2013, the CA rendered the assailed decision affirming the grant of
Filipino citizenship to Karbasi. The dispositive portion of the CA decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision dated 17


January 2007 of the Regional Trial Court of Dipolog City, Branch 10 in Naturalization
Case No. 2866 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.7

The CA ruled that the alleged under declaration in Karbasi’s ITRs was prepared in good
faith because he was of the belief that he no longer needed to include the income he
received as payment of his services to Daewoo Electronics Electronics Services,
Inc. (Daewoo) and Kolins Philippines International, Inc. (Kolins), because the same
were already withheld at source. The CA likewise affirmed the RTC finding that Karbasi,
as a refugee, need not prove reciprocity between Philippine and Iranian laws.

Hence, this petition.

Position of the OSG

The OSG asserts that the findings of the courts a quo are not in accord with law and
jurisprudence because Karbasi failed to prove that he had a lucrative income and an
irreproachable character. It insists that Karbasi failed to establish his lucrative income
considering that at the time of the filing of his petition for naturalization in 2002, his
gross income was P21,868.65. Per table of Annual Income and Expenditure in Western
Mindanao, the average income for the year 2000 was P86,135.00 and for 2003 was
P93,000.00. This shows that Karbasi’s declared gross income was way below the
average income and average expenses in Western Mindanao, the region where Dipolog
City, his residence, is located. The OSG argues that even if the subsequent years were to
be considered, Karbasi’s income was still insufficient as compared to the average income
and expenditure in the area. Karbasi’s declared income for the years 2003, 2004 and
2005 were P31,613.00, P41,200.00 and P39,020.00, respectively. The same table
presentation, however, provides that the average expenditure for the year 2000 was
P69,452.00, and for the year 2003 was P75,000.00. This shows that Karbasi’s declared
gross income was not enough to support his family within the contemplation of the law.
Whether based on his testimony or on his ITRs, Karbasi’s gross income was not
adequate, given the high cost of living prevailing in the region. The OSG also mentions
that Karbasi’s child had started formal schooling which would entail substantial income
on the part of Karbasi, so that he could meet his family’s needs.

The OSG cites the discrepancy between his petition for naturalization and his ITRs as
another reason to deny his application for Filipino citizenship. An examination of the
petition discloses that Karbasi claimed an annual income of P80,000.00. He had also
declared in his testimony that he was earning P20,000.00 to P25,000.00, monthly,
from his electronic repair shop. His ITRs on the other hand, show his gross income as
P14,870.00 in 2001; P21,868.65 in 2002; P31,613.00 in 2003; P41,200.00 in 2004; and
P39,020.00 in 2005.

The OSG further argues that the "underdeclaration" of Karbasi’s income in his ITRs
reflects his disregard of Philippine tax laws and, worse, its overstatement in his petition
indicates his intent to make it appear that there was compliance with the Naturalization
Law, when there was actually none. According to the OSG, this negates irreproachable
behavior which required of every applicant for naturalization because the failure to
enter the true income on the tax return is indicative of dishonesty. The OSG cited the
ruling in Republic v. Yao,8 where the Court ordered the cancellation of the
naturalization certificate issued to the applicant therein upon the discovery of his
underdeclaration and underpayment of income tax. In the OSG’s words,
"[u]nderdeclaration of income is a serious matter that it is used as a ground to cancel
the certificate of naturalization. If the court can reverse the decision in an application
for naturalization, with more reason can underdeclaration be considered in denying an
application," as in Karbasi’s case.9

Position of Karbasi

In the April 7, 2014 Resolution of the Court, Karbasi was required to file a comment on
the petition in which he mainly argued that the petition did not raise questions of law
but questions of facts which were too unsubstantial to require consideration. He
countered that while, admittedly, the "lucrative trade/occupation" requirement under
the law must be complied with, it has been emphasized in jurisprudence that, the
objective of this economic requirement is to ensure that the applicant should not
become a public charge or an economic burden upon the society.10Karbasi claims that he
had more than satisfactorily established his lucrative trade or occupation, showing that
he would become a citizen who could contribute to national progress. This has been
clearly and unanimously appreciated by the RTC and the CA.
Karbasi also avers that the analysis of the OSG with respect to the data on Annual
Income and Expenditure in Western Mindanao is misplaced. Firstly, the data presented
were merely statistical and not actual, and did not reflect the circumstances relative to a
specific subject or person. Hence, these are greatly unreliable with respect to a specific
person in a naturalization case. At best, it was only intended for the purpose it was made
– for planning and for policy making of the government and not to determine whether a
certain trade, occupation or income is lucrative or not.

Anent the allegation that the underdeclaration of his income projects was a flaw on his
moral character, Karbasi point out that he had sincerely explained that his failure to
declare his correct annual income was in good faith not intended to commit fraud. He
believed that the other sources of his income apart from his repair shop had already
been withheld by the companies for whom he had rendered services. For Karbasi, the
meaning of "irreproachable" as required by the law does not mean "perfectly faultless."

On September 18, 2014, Karbasi moved for leave of court to file a supplemental
pleading, in which he insisted that pursuant to the 1951 Convention Relating to the
Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, to which the
Philippines was a signatory, the country was bound to safeguard the rights and well-
being of the refugees and to ensure the facility of their local integration including
naturalization. Karbasi reasoned that this was precisely why Department Circular 58
Series of 2012 was issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Under the said circular,
the Refugees and Stateless Persons Unit was created not only to facilitate the
identification and determination of refugees but also for the protection of these
refugees.

Karbasi insisted that unlike any other alien applying for naturalization, he had to leave
Iran out of fear of persecution without any mental and financial preparation, and only
with a view of finding safe refuge in the Philippines.

Reply of OSG

In its Reply, the OSG contended that Karbasi could not downplay the significance of the
Data on Annual Income and Expenditure in Western Mindanao, as it was an accurate
illustration of the financial condition of a typical family in a particular region. The said
table was prepared by the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB), which
strengthened the credibility of the report. The OSG explained that whether the data
were statistical or actual, the numbers still reflected the financial standing of Karbasi. It
followed then that Karbasi could not claim good faith in failing to declare the income he
gained from his transactions with several companies. He even failed to present a
certificate of tax withheld to show that these companies had actually remitted the
withholding taxes due to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Even assuming that Karbasi’s
declared income allegedly excluded the amount withheld by these companies, the OSG
claimed that his income would still be below the standard income and expenditure per
the table.

The Court’s Ruling


The Court is confronted with the issue of whether or not the CA had correctly affirmed
the RTC decision granting Karbasi’s application for naturalization despite the
opposition posed by the OSG.

Citizenship is personal and, more or less a permanent membership in a political


community. It denotes possession within that particular political community of full civil
and political rights subject to special disqualifications. Reciprocally, it imposes the duty
of allegiance to the political community.11 The core of citizenship is the capacity to enjoy
political rights, that is, the right to participate in government principally through the
right to vote, the right to hold public office and the right to petition the government for
redress of grievance.12

No less than the 1987 Constitution enumerates who are Filipino citizens.13 Among those
listed are citizens by naturalization. Naturalization refers to the legal act of adopting an
alien and clothing him with the privilege of a native-born citizen. Under the present
laws, the process of naturalization can be judicial or administrative. Judicially, the
Naturalization Law provides that after hearing the petition for citizenship and the
receipt of evidence showing that the petitioner has all the qualifications and none of the
disqualifications required by law, the competent court may order the issuance of the
proper naturalization certificate and its registration in the proper civil registry. On the
other hand, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9139 provides that aliens born and residing in the
Philippines may be granted Philippine citizenship by administrative proceeding by filing
a petition for citizenship with the Special Committee, which, in view of the facts before
it, may approve the petition and issue a certificate of naturalization.14 In both cases, the
petitioner shall take an oath of allegiance to the Philippines as a sovereign nation.

It is a well-entrenched rule that Philippine citizenship should not easily be given


away.15 All those seeking to acquire it must prove, to the satisfaction of the Court, that
they have complied with all the requirements of the law. The reason for this requirement
is simple. Citizenship involves political status; hence, every person must be proud of his
citizenship and should cherish it. Naturalization is not a right, but one of privilege of the
most discriminating, as well as delicate and exacting nature, affecting, as it does, public
interest of the highest order, and which may be enjoyed only under the precise
conditions prescribed by law therefor.16

Jurisprudence dictates that in judicial naturalization, the application must show


substantial and formal compliance with the law. In other words, an applicant must
comply with the jurisdictional requirements; establish his or her possession of the
qualifications and none of the disqualifications enumerated under the law; and present
at least two (2) character witnesses to support his allegations.17 Section 2 of the
Naturalization Law clearly sets forth the qualifications that must be possessed by any
applicant, viz:

Section 2. Qualifications. – Subject to section four of this Act, any person having the
following qualifications may become a citizen of the Philippines by naturalization:
First. He must be not less than twenty-one years of age on the day of the hearing of the
petition;

Second. He must have resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than
ten years;

Third. He must be of good moral character and believes in the principles underlying the
Philippine Constitution, and must have conducted himself in a proper and
irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence in the Philippines
in his relation with the constituted government as well as with the community in which
he is living.

Fourth. He must own real estate in the Philippines worth not less than five thousand
pesos, Philippine currency, or must have some known lucrative trade,
profession, or lawful occupation;

Fifth. He must be able to speak and write English or Spanish and any one of the
principal Philippine languages;

Sixth. He must have enrolled his minor children of school age, in any of the public
schools or private schools recognized by the Office of Private Education1 of the
Philippines, where the Philippine history, government and civics are taught or
prescribed as part of the school curriculum, during the entire period of the residence in
the Philippines required of him prior to the hearing of his petition for naturalization as
Philippine citizen.

[Emphasis supplied]

The contention in this case revolves around the following points:

1. the sufficiency of Karbasi’s income for purposes of naturalization;

2. the effect of the alleged discrepancy in the amounts of his gross income as declared in
his ITRs, on one hand, and in his petition for naturalization on the other; and

3. the necessity of proving reciprocity between Iranian and Philippine laws on


naturalization.

The Court resolves these issues in seriatim.

First. A reading of the OSG’s pleadings discloses that its position arose out of a
comparison made between Karbasi’s declared income and the amounts reflected in the
Data on Annual Income and Expenditure in Western Mindanao issued by the NSCB.
The OSG also invokes the past rulings of the Court where the concept of "lucrative trade,
trade, profession or lawful occupation" was explained in this wise:
It means not only that the person having the employment gets enough for his ordinary
necessities in life. It must be shown that the employment gives one an income such that
there is an appreciable margin of his income over his expenses as to be able to provide
for an adequate support in the event of unemployment, sickness, or disability to work
and thus avoid one’s becoming the object of charity or a public charge. His income
should permit him and the members of his family to live with reasonable comfort, in
accordance with the prevailing standard of living, and consistently with the demands of
human dignity, at this stage of our civilization.18

A long line of cases reveals that the Court did not hesitate in reversing grants of
citizenship upon a showing that the applicant had no lucrative income and would, most
likely, become a public charge. A summary of some of these notable cases is in order:

1. In the Matter of the Petition for Admission to Philippine Citizenship of


Engracio Chan also known as Nicasio Lim.19– The Court found that the
petitioner, who was a salesman at the Caniogan Sari-Sari and Grocery Store, then
located in Pasig, Rizal, from which he received a monthly salary of P200.00, with
free board and lodging, had no lucrative income. Even if the petitioner was then
an unmarried man without dependents, a monthly income of P200.00 with free
board and lodging, was not considered gainful employment. Further, there was
no proof that he was legally authorized to use an alias and his use thereof, being
in violation of the Anti-Alias Law, was indicative of a reproachable conduct.

2. In the Matter of the Petition of Antonio Po to be admitted a Citizen of the


Philippines.20– The Court found Antonio Po, then single and employed as
collector of the Surigao Chamber of Commerce as without lucrative income on
the ground that his employment had so long depended upon the selection of the
succeeding presidents of the chamber and that he then got free board and lodging
by living with his widowed mother. Simply put, there was not enough stability in
his claimed salary. His additional income gained from helping his mother to run
a store was also insufficient to satisfy the law, in the amount and in its steadiness.
His free board and lodging pretense was also discerned as indicative of
dependence upon his mother for support.

3. In the Matter of the Petition of Tanpa Ong Alias Pedro Tan to be admitted a
Citizen of the Philippines.21– The income of the applicant as contemplated in the
naturalization law was only P3,000.00 a year. Considering that he had a wife and
seven children to support, this income was held as insufficient to meet the high
cost of living at that time.

4. Keng Giok v. Republic.22– The Court held that an income of P9,074.50 per
annum was not sufficient for a married applicant with a wife and five children to
support.

5. Sy Ang Hoc vs. Republic.23– The Court held that his income, derived from
employment in a business enterprise of the petitioner's father, was not sufficient
to establish compliance with the statutory requirement of lucrative occupation or
calling.

6. In the Matter of the Petition to be admitted a Citizen of the Philippines by


Pantaleon Sia alias Alfredo Sia.24–The Court ruled that the determination of
lucrative income or occupation should be reckoned as of the time of the filing of
the petition. The Court decided against the petitioner as his regular salary was
not ample enough to defray his family’s expenses. The excess amounts
representing his bonuses and commissions should not be considered in
determining whether or not petitioner had a lucrative income or occupation.

With the pronouncements in these cases in mind, the comparison made by the OSG now
begets another question: can the possession of an applicant’s lucrative trade, profession
or lawful occupation, for purposes of naturalization, be fairly determined through a
simplistic read-through on government data?

The Court answers in the negative.

While it is true that a naturalization case is not an ordinary judicial contest to be decided
in favor of the party whose claim is supported by the preponderance of the evidence, this
does not accord infallibility on any and all of the OSG’s assertions. If this were the case,
the rules of evidence might as well be brushed aside in order to accord conclusiveness to
every opposition by the Republic. Needless to state, the Court still has the final authority
and duty to evaluate the records of proceedings a quo and decide on the issues with fair
and sound judgment.

Here, it is clear that the circumstances prevailing in the above-cited cases are not at all
attendant in Karbasi’s situation. There was neither a showing that Karbasi was
dependent on another person for support nor proof that his family’s extraordinary
expenses that would render his income as inadequate. As in any other business venture,
the risk of losses is a possibility for his repair shop but, still, this risk was not clearly
established to render his livelihood as unstable and volatile. In fact, the OSG does not
belie the fact that Karbasi has been engaged by reputable companies for his services.
Conversely, the findings of the RTC would indicate that Karbasi had indeed exhibited
industry and hard work in putting up his repair shop business and that his wife
considered him as a good provider, not to mention a vocational and college degree
holder. Admittedly, testimonies in favor of an applicant for naturalization are expected
to be self-serving. Nevertheless, the Court finds it difficult to agree with the OSG’s
meager use of government data to prove that Karbasi would become a burden to the
Philippine society in the future. Except for its own citation of government data, nothing
else was presented to establish that Karbasi had indeed no lucrative income or trade to
support himself and his family.

To accept the OSG’s logic is a dangerous precedent that would peg the compliance to
this requirement in the law to a comparison with the results of research, the purpose of
which is unclear. This is not to say that the data produced by government research are
inappropriate, or much less irrelevant in judicial proceedings. The plain reliance on this
research information, however, may not be expected to produce the force of logic which
the OSG wants to attain in this case. Besides, had the law intended for government data
on livelihood and income research to be used as a gauge for the "lucrative income"
requirement, it must have stated the same and foreclosed the Court’s power to assess
existing facts in any given case. Here, the Court opts to exercise this power and delve
into a judicious review of the findings of the RTC and the CA and, as explained, to rule
that Karbasi, possesses a lucrative income and a lawful occupation, as required by the
Naturalization Law.1âwphi1

At this point, it is worthy to note the Court’s ruling in Republic v. Court of Appeals and
Chua25(Chua), where the Court assessed the prevailing circumstances of an applicant
for naturalization who was a medical student at the time of the filing of her petition.
In Chua, the Court rejected the Republic’s argument that the applicant’s status as a
subsequent passer of the Board Examinations of 1985 for Doctors of Medicine could not
by itself be equated with "gainful employment or tangible receipts." The Court held that
this interpretation of the income requirement in the law is "too literal and restrictive." It
then cited Uy v. Republic,26 where the Court laid down the public policy underlying the
lucrative income requirement as follows:

[T]he Court must be satisfied that there is reasonable assurance not only that the
applicant will not be a social burden or liability but that he is a potential asset to the
country he seeks to adopt for himself and quite literally, for his children and his
children's children.

The Court, in Chua, continued:

The economic qualification for naturalization may be seen to embody the objective of
ensuring that the petitioner would not become a public charge or an economic burden
upon society. The requirement relates, in other words, not simply to the time of
execution of the petition for naturalization but also to the probable future of the
applicant for naturalization. In the case at bar, the Solicitor General does not dispute
that respondent applicant, then a student, was earning P2,000.00 a month, with free
board and lodging, at the time she filed her Petition in August 1984. While this amount
was not, even in 1984, exactly a princely sum, she was not then a public charge and the
respondent applicant having passed the qualifying medical board examinations, can
scarcely be regarded as likely to become a public charge in the future should she be
admitted as a citizen of this Republic. Respondent is certainly in a position to earn
substantial income if allowed to exercise her profession. Being a Doctor of Medicine, she
is also clearly a "potential asset to the country."27

As in Chua’s case, it does not at all seem likely that Karbasi, in his current
circumstances, will ever become a public charge. It bears emphasis to note that from a
refugee who had nothing when he came to the Philippines, Karbasi had indeed refused
to be the object of charity by working hard to graduate from college and to eventually
engage in business to give his family support and comfort. The CA could not have
explained this in better terms—
Thus, Karbasi went from being a refugee – who was dependent on the UNCHR for
support – to a self-made entrepreneur who can ably support himself and his family. As
such, there is no showing that Karbasi may turn out to be a public charge and a burden
to our country’s resources. The fact moreover that he overcame this adversity through
his education and skills shows that he is a potential asset of the country.

Second. The OSG raised the issue of Karbasi’s alleged underdeclaration of income in
his ITRs. It contended that even if Karbasi had, indeed, a lucrative means of earning, his
failure to declare the income which he had earned from service contracts and to present
any proof of the withholding of the taxes thereon, would reflect adversely on his
conduct, which under the statute must be "proper and irreproachable." The OSG
cited Lim Eng Yu v. Republic28(Lim Eng Yu), where the applicant later refuted the
amounts reflected in his ITRs in order to prove that he had lucrative trade or
occupation. The Court rebuffed this "eleventh hour explanation" and concluded that the
applicant had to conceal his true income for the purpose of evading payment of lawful
taxes. The Court found that Lim Eng Yu, at that time, had a wife and two children, so, at
most, his total tax exemption then, was P5,000.00. Had he stated the net incomes he
claimed in his ITRs, he would have been required to pay income taxes, it appearing that
the same exceeded his exemption under the law. Such conduct showed that Lim Eng
Yu’s moral character was not irreproachable, or as good as it should be, thus,
disqualifying him for naturalization.

Like the CA, the Court is inclined not to apply the rigidity of the ruling in Lim Eng Yu to
the present case. Unlike Lim Eng Yu, Karbasi did not deny the charge of the OSG and
instead admitted a procedural lapse on his part. Here, there is no showing that the
income earned by Karbasi was undeclared in order to benefit from statutory tax
exemptions. To clarify, this does not intend to downplay the requirement of good moral
character in naturalization cases. It bears stressing that the granting of applications for
naturalization still necessitates that only those who are deserving may be admitted as
Filipino citizens. The character of the applicant remains to be one of the significant
measures to determine entitlement to Filipino citizenship. Nonetheless, the tenor of the
ground used for the denial of the application in Lim Eng Yu is not akin to what
happened in this case.

Clearly, in Lim Eng Yu, the petitioner altogether intended to evade the payment of taxes
by abusing the benefits granted by tax exemptions.1âwphi1 In this case, Karbasi did not
deny that he gained income through his transactions with Daewoo and Kolin. He even
presented, as evidence, the contracts of service he had entered into with the companies
including a Summary of Accounts paid to his repair shop. He did not disclaim that he
had rendered services to these companies and that he had earned a considerable sum
therefrom. Instead, he explained the cause of his lapse and acknowledged his mistaken
belief that his earnings from these transactions need not be declared in his ITRs as these
were withheld already.

Again, it is not the objective of the Court to justify irregularities in ITRs by reason of a
"mistaken belief." The Court, however, finds it difficult to equate Karbasi’s lapse with a
moral depravity that is fatal to his application for Filipino citizenship. This mistaken
understanding of the proper way to declare income is actually so common to individual
taxpayers, including lawyers and other professionals. While this is not to be taken as an
excuse for every irregularity in ITRs, the Court is not prepared to consider this as an
outright reflection of one’s immoral inclinations. With due consideration to his
character as established by witnesses, and as observed by the RTC during the hearings,
Karbasi should be deemed to have sufficiently explained his mistake.

In the case of Chua, the Court had even disregarded the OSG’s argument that the
applicant’s failure to execute her ITR "reflects adversely on her conduct." Her
explanation of non-filing as an "honest mistake" was accepted by the Court with due
regard to the other circumstances of her case. Like the CA, the Court also finds the same
degree of sincerity in Karbasi’s case, for he was candid enough to elicit this conclusion.
Besides, there was no suggestion in the records that Karbasi habitually excluded
particular income in his ITRs. Echoing the findings in Chua, the Court does not believe
that this one lapse should be regarded as having so blackened Karbasi’s character as to
disqualify him from naturalization as a Philippine citizen.

Third. Considering the above disquisitions, the Court does not need to belabor the last
issue on reciprocity between Iranian and Philippine laws on naturalization. True, the
Naturalization Law disqualifies citizens or subjects of a foreign country whose laws do
not grant Filipinos the right to become naturalized citizens or subjects. A perusal of
Karbasi’s petition, both with the RTC and the CA, together with his supplemental
pleadings filed with the Court, however, reveals that he has successfully established his
refugee status upon arrival in the Philippines. In effect, the country’s obligations under
its various international commitments come into operation. Articles 6 and 34 of the 1951
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, to which the Philippines is a signatory,
must be considered in this case, to wit:

Article 6 of the 1951 Convention:

For the purposes of this Convention, the term "in the same circumstances" implies that
any requirements (including requirements as to length and conditions of sojourn or
residence) which the particular individual would have to fulfill for the enjoyment of the
right in question, if he were not a refugee, must be fulfilled by him, with the exception of
requirements which by their nature a refugee is incapable of fulfilling.

Article 34 of the 1951 Convention:

The Contracting States shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and
naturalization of refugees. They shall in particular make every effort to
expedite naturalization proceedings and to reduce as far as possible the charges
and costs of such proceedings.

In the same vein, Article 729 of the said Convention expressly provides exemptions from
reciprocity, while Article 34 states the earnest obligation of contracting parties to "as far
as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees." As applied to this
case, Karbasi' s status as a refugee has to end with the attainment of Filipino citizenship,
in consonance with Philippine statutory requirements and international obligations.
Indeed, the Naturalization Law must be read in light of the developments in
international human rights law specifically the granting of nationality to refugees and
stateless persons.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

SECTION 3

EN BANC

G.R. No. 142840 May 7, 2001

ANTONIO BENGSON III, petitioner,


vs.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL and TEODORO C.
CRUZ, respondents.

CONCURRING OPINION

DISSENTING OPINION

KAPUNAN, J.:

The citizenship of respondent Teodoro C. Cruz is at issue in this case, in view of the
constitutional requirement that "no person shall be a Member of the House of
Representative unless he is a natural-born citizen."1

Respondent Cruz was a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. He was born in San
Clemente, Tarlac, on April 27, 1960, of Filipino parents. The fundamental law then
applicable was the 1935 Constitution.2

On November 5, 1985, however, respondent Cruz enlisted in the United States Marine
Corps and without the consent of the Republic of the Philippines, took an oath of
allegiance to the United States. As a Consequence, he lost his Filipino citizenship for
under Commonwealth Act No. 63, section 1(4), a Filipino citizen may lose his citizenship
by, among other, "rendering service to or accepting commission in the armed forces of a
foreign country." Said provision of law reads:

SECTION 1. How citizenship may be lost. – A Filipino citizen may lose his
citizenship in any of the following ways and/or events:

xxx
(4) By rendering services to, or accepting commission in, the armed of a foreign
country: Provided, That the rendering of service to, or the acceptance of such
commission in, the armed forces of a foreign country, and the taking of an oath of
allegiance incident thereto, with the consent of the Republic of the Philippines,
shall not divest a Filipino of his Philippine citizenship if either of the following
circumstances is present:

(a) The Republic of the Philippines has a defensive and/or offensive pact of
alliance with said foreign country; or

(b) The said foreign country maintains armed forces on Philippine territory with
the consent of the Republic of the Philippines: Provided, That the Filipino citizen
concerned, at the time of rendering said service, or acceptance of said
commission, and taking the oath of allegiance incident thereto, states that he
does so only in connection with his service to said foreign country; And provided,
finally, That any Filipino citizen who is rendering service to, or is commissioned
in, the armed forces of a foreign country under any of the circumstances
mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b), shall not be Republic of the Philippines during
the period of his service to, or commission in, the armed forces of said country.
Upon his discharge from the service of the said foreign country, he shall be
automatically entitled to the full enjoyment of his civil and politically entitled to
the full enjoyment of his civil political rights as a Filipino citizen x x x.

Whatever doubt that remained regarding his loss of Philippine citizenship was erased by
his naturalization as a U.S. citizen on June 5, 1990, in connection with his service in the
U.S. Marine Corps.

On March 17, 1994, respondent Cruz reacquired his Philippine citizenship through
repatriation under Republic Act No. 2630.3 He ran for and was elected as the
Representative of the Second District of Pangasinan in the May 11, 1998 elections. He
won by a convincing margin of 26,671 votes over petitioner Antonio Bengson III, who
was then running for reelection.1âwphi1.nêt

Subsequently, petitioner filed a case for Quo Warranto Ad Cautelam with respondent
House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) claiming that respondent Cruz was
not qualified to become a member of the House of Representatives since he is not a
natural-born citizen as required under Article VI, section 6 of the Constitution.4

On March 2, 2000, the HRET rendered its decision5 dismissing the petition for quo
warranto and declaring Cruz the duly elected Representative of the Second District of
Pangasinan in the May 1998 elections. The HRET likewise denied petitioner's motion
for reconsideration of the decision in its resolution dated April 27, 2000.6

Petitioner thus filed the present petition for certiorari assailing the HRET's decision on
the following grounds:
1. The HRET committed serious errors and grave abuse of discretion, amounting
to excess of jurisdiction, when it ruled that private respondent is a natural-born
citizen of the Philippines despite the fact that he had ceased being such in view of
the loss and renunciation of such citizenship on his part.

2. The HRET committed serious errors and grave abuse of discretion, amounting
to excess of jurisdiction, when it considered private respondent as a citizen of the
Philippines despite the fact he did not validly acquire his Philippine citizenship.

3. Assuming that private respondent's acquisition of Philippine citizenship was


invalid, the HRET committed serious errors and grave abuse of discretion,
amounting to excess of jurisdiction, when it dismissed the petition despite the
fact that such reacquisition could not legally and constitutionally restore his
natural-born status.7

The issue now before us is whether respondent Cruz, a natural-born Filipino who
became an American citizen, can still be considered a natural-born Filipino upon his
reacquisition of Philippine citizenship.

Petitioner asserts that respondent Cruz may no longer be considered a natural-born


Filipino since he lost h is Philippine citizenship when he swore allegiance to the United
States in 1995, and had to reacquire the same by repatriation. He insists that Article
citizens are those who are from birth with out having to perform any act to acquire or
perfect such citizenship.

Respondent on the other hand contends that he reacquired his status as natural-born
citizen when he was repatriated since the phrase "from birth" in Article IV, Section 2
refers to the innate, inherent and inborn characteristic of being a natural-born citizen.

The petition is without merit.

The 1987 Constitution enumerates who are Filipino citizens as follow:

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this
Constitution;

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines;

(3) Those born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mother, who elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, and

(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.8

There are two ways of acquiring citizenship: (1) by birth, and (2) by naturalization.
These ways of acquiring citizenship correspond to the two kinds of citizens: the natural-
born citizen, and the naturalized citizen. A person who at the time of his birth is a citizen
of a particular country, is a natural-born citizen thereof.9
As defined in the same Constitution, natural-born citizens "are those citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his
Philippine citezenship."10

On the other hand, naturalized citizens are those who have become Filipino citizens
through naturalization, generally under Commonwealth Act No. 473, otherwise known
as the Revised Naturalization Law, which repealed the former Naturalization Law (Act
No. 2927), and by Republic Act No. 530.11 To be naturalized, an applicant has to prove
that he possesses all the qualifications12 and none of the disqualification13 provided by
law to become a Filipino citizen. The decision granting Philippine citizenship becomes
executory only after two (2) years from its promulgation when the court is satisfied that
during the intervening period, the applicant has (1) not left the Philippines; (2) has
dedicated himself to a lawful calling or profession; (3) has not been convicted of any
offense or violation of Government promulgated rules; or (4) committed any act
prejudicial to the interest of the nation or contrary to any Government announced
policies.14

Filipino citizens who have lost their citizenship may however reacquire the same in the
manner provided by law. Commonwealth Act. No. (C.A. No. 63), enumerates the three
modes by which Philippine citizenship may be reacquired by a former citizen: (1) by
naturalization, (2) by repatriation, and (3) by direct act of Congress.15

Naturalization is mode for both acquisition and reacquisition of Philippine citizenship.


As a mode of initially acquiring Philippine citizenship, naturalization is governed by
Commonwealth Act No. 473, as amended. On the other hand, naturalization as a mode
for reacquiring Philippine citizenship is governed by Commonwealth Act No.
63.16 Under this law, a former Filipino citizen who wishes to reacquire Philippine
citizenship must possess certain qualifications17and none of the disqualification
mentioned in Section 4 of C.A. 473.18

Repatriation, on the other hand, may be had under various statutes by those who lost
their citizenship due to: (1) desertion of the armed forces;19 services in the armed forces
of the allied forces in World War II;20 (3) service in the Armed Forces of the United
States at any other time,21 (4) marriage of a Filipino woman to an alien;22 and (5)
political economic necessity.23

As distinguished from the lengthy process of naturalization, repatriation simply consists


of the taking of an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippine and registering
said oath in the Local Civil Registry of the place where the person concerned resides or
last resided.

In Angat v. Republic,24 we held:

xxx. Parenthetically, under these statutes [referring to RA Nos. 965 and 2630],
the person desiring to reacquire Philippine citizenship would not even be
required to file a petition in court, and all that he had to do was to take an oath of
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to register that fact with the civil
registry in the place of his residence or where he had last resided in the
Philippines. [Italics in the original.25

Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality.26 This means
that a naturalized Filipino who lost his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a
naturalized Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born
citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his former status
as a natural-born Filipino.

In respondent Cruz's case, he lost his Filipino citizenship when he rendered service in
the Armed Forces of the United States. However, he subsequently reacquired Philippine
citizenship under R.A. No. 2630, which provides:

Section 1. Any person who had lost his Philippine citizenship by rendering service
to, or accepting commission in, the Armed Forces of the United States, or after
separation from the Armed Forces of the United States, acquired United States
citizenship, may reacquire Philippine citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance
to the Republic of the Philippines and registering the same with Local Civil
Registry in the place where he resides or last resided in the Philippines. The said
oath of allegiance shall contain a renunciation of any other citizenship.

Having thus taken the required oath of allegiance to the Republic and having registered
the same in the Civil Registry of Magantarem, Pangasinan in accordance with the
aforecited provision, respondent Cruz is deemed to have recovered his original status as
a natural-born citizen, a status which he acquired at birth as the son of a Filipino
father.27 It bears stressing that the act of repatriation allows him to recover, or return
to, his original status before he lost his Philippine citizenship.

Petitioner's contention that respondent Cruz is no longer a natural-born citizen since he


had to perform an act to regain his citizenship is untenable. As correctly explained by
the HRET in its decision, the term "natural-born citizen" was first defined in Article III,
Section 4 of the 1973 Constitution as follows:

Sec. 4. A natural-born citizen is one who is a citizen of the Philippines from birth
without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect his Philippine citizenship.

Two requisites must concur for a person to be considered as such: (1) a person must be a
Filipino citizen birth and (2) he does not have to perform any act to obtain or perfect his
Philippine citizenship.

Under the 1973 Constitution definition, there were two categories of Filipino citizens
which were not considered natural-born: (1) those who were naturalized and (2) those
born before January 17, 1973,38 of Filipino mothers who, upon reaching the age of
majority, elected Philippine citizenship. Those "naturalized citizens" were not
considered natural-born obviously because they were not Filipino at birth and had to
perform an act to acquire Philippine citizenship. Those born of Filipino mothers before
the effectively of the 1973 Constitution were likewise not considered natural-born
because they also had to perform an act to perfect their Philippines citizenship.

The present Constitution, however, now consider those born of Filipino mothers before
the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution and who elected Philippine citizenship upon
reaching the majority age as natural-born. After defining who re natural-born citizens,
Section 2 of Article IV adds a sentence: "Those who elect Philippine citizenship in
accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens."
Consequently, only naturalized Filipinos are considered not natural-born citizens. It is
apparent from the enumeration of who are citizens under the present Constitution that
there are only two classes of citizens: (1) those who are natural-born and (2) those who
are naturalized in accordance with law. A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, i.e.,
did not have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship,
necessarily is natural-born Filipino. Noteworthy is the absence in said enumeration of a
separate category for persons who, after losing Philippine citizenship, subsequently
reacquire it. The reason therefor is clear: as to such persons, they would either be
natural-born or naturalized depending on the reasons for the loss of their citizenship
and the mode prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition thereof. As
respondent Cruz was not required by law to go through naturalization proceeding in
order to reacquire his citizenship, he is perforce a natural-born Filipino. As such, he
possessed all the necessary qualifications to be elected as member of the House of
Representatives.

A final point. The HRET has been empowered by the Constitution to be the "sole judge"
of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the
House.29 The Court's jurisdiction over the HRET is merely to check "whether or not
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction"
on the part of the latter.30 In the absence thereof, there is no occasion for the Court to
exercise its corrective power and annul the decision of the HRET nor to substitute the
Court's judgement for that of the latter for the simple reason that it is not the office of a
petition for certiorari to inquire into the correctness of the assailed decision.31 There is
no such showing of grave abuse of discretion in this case.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 125793 August 29, 2006

JOEVANIE ARELLANO TABASA, Petitioner,


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

DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:

Citizenship is a priceless possession. Former U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren fittingly
emphasized its crowning value when he wrote that "it is man’s basic right for it is
nothing less than to have rights." 1 When a person loses citizenship, therefore, the State
sees to it that its reacquisition may only be granted if the former citizen fully satisfies all
conditions and complies with the applicable law. Without doubt, repatriation is not to
be granted simply based on the vagaries of the former Filipino citizen.

The Case

The instant petition for review 2 under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure
contests the denial by the Court of Appeals (CA) of the Petition for Habeas
Corpus interposed by petitioner Joevanie Arellano Tabasa from the Order of Summary
Deportation issued by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) for his return
to the United States.

The Facts

The facts as culled by the CA from the records show that petitioner Joevanie Arellano
Tabasa was a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. In 1968, 3 when petitioner was
seven years old, 4 his father, Rodolfo Tabasa, became a naturalized citizen 5 of the
United States. By derivative naturalization (citizenship derived from that of another as
from a person who holds citizenship by virtue of naturalization 6), petitioner also
acquired American citizenship.

Petitioner arrived in the Philippines on August 3, 1995, and was admitted as a


"balikbayan" for one year. Thereafter, petitioner was arrested and detained by agent
Wilson Soluren of the BID on May 23, 1996, pursuant to BID Mission Order No. LIV-
96-72 in Baybay, Malay, Aklan; subsequently, he was brought to the BID Detention
Center in Manila.7

Petitioner was investigated by Special Prosecutor Atty. Edy D. Donato at the Law and
Investigation Division of the BID on May 28, 1996; and on the same day, Tabasa was
accused of violating Section 8, Chapter 3, Title 1, Book 3 of the 1987 Administrative
Code, in a charge sheet which alleged:

1. That on 3 August 1995, respondent (petitioner herein [Tabasa]) arrived in the


Philippines and was admitted as a balikbayan;

2. That in a letter dated 16 April 1996, Honorable Kevin Herbert, Consul General of [the]
U.S. Embassy, informed the Bureau that respondent’s Passport No. 053854189 issued
on June 10, 1994 in San Francisco, California, U.S.A., had been revoked by the U.S.
Department of State;

3. Hence, respondent [petitioner Tabasa] is now an undocumented and undesirable


alien and may be summarily deported pursuant to Law and Intelligence Instructions No.
53 issued by then Commissioner Miriam Defensor Santiago to effect his deportation
(Exhibit 3). 8

The pertinent portion of the Herbert letter is as follows:

The U.S. Department of State has revoked U.S. passport 053854189 issued on June 10,
1994 in San Francisco, California under the name of Joevanie Arellano Tabasa, born on
February 21, 1959 in the Philippines. Mr. Tabasa’s passport has been revoked because he
is the subject of an outstanding federal warrant of arrest issued on January 25, 1996 by
the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, for violation of Section
1073, "Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution," of Title 18 of the United States Code. He is
charged with one count of a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of California
Penal Code, Section 12021(A)(1), and one count of sexual battery, in violation of
California Penal Code, Section 243.4 (D). 9

The BID ordered petitioner’s deportation to his country of origin, the United States, on
May 29, 1996, in the following summary deportation order:

Records show that on 16 April 1996, Mr. Kevin F. Herbert, Consul General of the U.S.
Embassy in Manila, filed a request with the Bureau to apprehend and deport the
abovenamed [sic] respondent [petitioner Tabasa] on the ground that a standing warrant
for several federal charges has been issued against him, and that the respondent’s
Passport No. 053854189 has been revoked.

By reason thereof, and on the strength of Mission Order No. LIV-96-72, Intelligence
operatives apprehended the respondent in Aklan on 23 May 1996.

In Schonemann vs. Commissioner Santiago, et al., (G.R. No. 81461 [sic, ‘81461’ should
be ‘86461’], 30 May 1989), the Supreme Court ruled that if a foreign embassy cancels
the passport of an alien, or does not reissue a valid passport to him, the alien loses the
privilege to remain in the country. Further, under Office Memorandum Order No. 34
issued on 21 August 1989, summary deportation proceedings lie where the passport of
the alien has expired.

It is, thus, apparent that respondent has lost his privilege to remain in the country. 10

Petitioner filed before the CA a Petition for Habeas Corpus with Preliminary Injunction
and/or Temporary Restraining Order 11 on May 29, 1996, which was docketed as CA-
G.R. SP No. 40771. Tabasa alleged that he was not afforded due process; that no warrant
of arrest for deportation may be issued by immigration authorities before a final order of
deportation is made; that no notice of the cancellation of his passport was made by the
U.S. Embassy; that he is entitled to admission or to a change of his immigration status
as a non-quota immigrant because he is married to a Filipino citizen as provided in
Section 13, paragraph (a) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940; and that he was a
natural-born citizen of the Philippines prior to his derivative naturalization when he was
seven years old due to the naturalization of his father, Rodolfo Tabasa, in 1968.
At the time Tabasa filed said petition, he was already 35 years old. 12

On May 30, 1996, the CA ordered the respondent Bureau to produce the person of the
petitioner on June 3, 1996 and show the cause of petitioner’s detention, and restrained
the Bureau from summarily deporting him. On June 3, 1996, the BID presented Tabasa
before the CA; and on June 6, 1996, the CA granted both parties ten (10) days within
which to file their memoranda, after which the case would be considered submitted for
decision. 13Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Immigration granted the petitioner’s
temporary release on bail on a PhP 20,000.00 cash bond. 14

However, on June 13, 1996, petitioner filed a Supplemental Petition alleging that he had
acquired Filipino citizenship by repatriation in accordance with Republic Act No. 8171
(RA 8171), and that because he is now a Filipino citizen, he cannot be deported or
detained by the respondent Bureau. 15

The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The CA, in its August 7, 1996 Decision, 16 denied Tabasa’s petition on the ground that he
had not legally and successfully acquired––by repatriation––his Filipino citizenship as
provided in RA 8171. The court said that although he became an American citizen by
derivative naturalization when his father was naturalized in 1968, there is no evidence to
show that he lost his Philippine citizenship "on account of political or economic
necessity," as explicitly provided in Section 1, RA 8171—the law governing the
repatriation of natural-born Filipinos who have lost their citizenship. The affidavit does
not state that political or economic necessity was the compelling reason for petitioner’s
parents to give up their Filipino citizenship in 1968. Moreover, the court a quo found
that petitioner Tabasa did not dispute the truth of the April 16, 1996 letter of the United
States Consul General Kevin F. Herbert or the various warrants issued for his arrest by
the United States court. The court a quo noted that after petitioner was ordered
deported by the BID on May 29, 1996, he successively executed an Affidavit of
Repatriation on June 6, 1996 and took an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines on June 13, 1996––more than ten months after his arrival in the country on
August 3, 1995. The appellate court considered petitioner’s "repatriation" as a last ditch
effort to avoid deportation and prosecution in the United States. The appellate court
concluded that his only reason to want to reacquire Filipino citizenship is to avoid
criminal prosecution in the United States of America. The court a quo, therefore, ruled
against Tabasa, whose petition is now before us.

The Issue

The only issue to be resolved is whether petitioner has validly reacquired Philippine
citizenship under RA 8171. If there is no valid repatriation, then he can be summarily
deported for his being an undocumented alien.

The Court’s Ruling

The Court finds no merit in this petition.


RA 8171, "An Act Providing for the Repatriation of Filipino Women Who Have Lost
Their Philippine Citizenship by Marriage to Aliens and of Natural-Born Filipinos," was
enacted on October 23, 1995. It provides for the repatriation of only two (2) classes of
persons, viz:

Filipino women who have lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens and
natural-born Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship, including their minor
children, on account of political or economic necessity, may reacquire Philippine
citizenship through repatriation in the manner provided in Section 4 of Commonwealth
Act No. 63, as amended: Provided, That the applicant is not a:

(1) Person opposed to organized government or affiliated with any association or group
of persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing organized government;

(2) Person defending or teaching the necessity or propriety of violence, personal assault,
or association for the predominance of their ideas;

(3) Person convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude; or

(4) Person suffering from mental alienation or incurable contagious


diseases. 17 (Emphasis supplied.)

Does petitioner 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: 18 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 parent’s 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 Re-acquisition 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 (A.O. No. 285) dated August 22, 1996, to wit:

Section 1. Composition.—The composition of the Special Committee on Naturalization,


with the Solicitor General as Chairman, the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs and the
Director-General of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, as members, shall
remain as constituted.
Sec. 2. Procedure.—Any person desirous of repatriating or reacquiring Filipino
citizenship pursuant to R.A. No. 8171 shall file a petition with the Special Committee on
Naturalization which shall process the same. If their applications are approved[,] they
shall take the necessary oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, after which
they shall be deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship. The Commission on
Immigration and Deportation shall thereupon cancel their certificate of registration
(emphasis supplied).

Sec. 3. Implementing Rules.—The Special Committee is hereby authorized to


promulgate rules and regulations and prescribe the appropriate forms and the required
fees for the processing of petitions.

Sec. 4. Effectivity.—This Administrative Order shall take effect immediately.

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. 19 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. 20 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. 21 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 petitioner––now of legal age––can 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

Petitioner’s 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. This intention is more evident in the following sponsorship
speech of Rep. Andrea B. Domingo on House Bill No. 1248, the origin of RA 8171, to wit:

Ms. Domingo: x x x

From my experience as the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and


Deportation, I observed that there are only four types of Filipinos who leave the country.

The first is what we call the "economic refugees" who go abroad to work because there is
no work to be found in the country. Then we have the "political refugees" who leave the
country for fear of their lives because they are not in consonance with the prevailing
policy of government. The third type is those who have committed crimes and would
like to escape from the punishment of said crimes. Lastly, we have those Filipinos who
feel that they are not Filipinos, thereby seeking other citizenship elsewhere.

Of these four types of Filipinos, Mr. Speaker, the first two have to leave the country not
of choice, but rather out of sacrifice to look for a better life, as well as for a safer abode
for themselves and their families. It is for these two types of Filipinos that this measure
is being proposed for approval by this body. (Emphasis supplied.)

xxxx

x x x [I]f the body would recall, I mentioned in my short sponsorship speech the four
types of Filipinos who leave their country. And the two types—the economic and
political refugees—are the ones being addressed by this proposed law, and they are not
really Filipino women who lost their citizenship through marriage. We had a lot of
problems with these people who left the country because of political persecution or
because of pressing economic reasons, and after feeling that they should come back to
the country and get back their citizenship and participate as they should in the affairs of
the country, they find that it is extremely difficult to get their citizenship back because
they are treated no different from any other class of alien. 26

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 one’s native country constitutes a "necessary and
unavoidable shifting of his political allegiance," and his father’s loss of Philippine
citizenship through naturalization "cannot therefore be said to be for any reason other
than political or economic necessity." 27

This argument has no merit.

While it is true that renunciation of allegiance to one’s 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.

Office Memorandum No. 34 dated August 21, 1989 of the BID is enlightening on
summary deportation:

2. The Board of Special Inquiry and the Hearing Board IV shall observe summary
deportation proceedings in cases where the charge against the alien is overstaying, or
the expiration or cancellation by his government of his passport. In cases involving
overstaying aliens, BSI and the Hearing Board IV shall merely require the presentation
of the alien’s valid passport and shall decide the case on the basis thereof.

3. If a foreign embassy cancels the passport of the alien, or does not reissue a valid
passport to him, the alien loses the privilege to remain in the country, under the
Immigration Act, Sections 10 and 15 (Schonemann v. Santiago, et al., G.R. No. 81461
[sic, should be ‘86461’], 30 May 1989). The automatic loss of the privilege obviates
deportation proceedings. In such instance, the Board of Commissioners may issue
summary judgment of deportation which shall be immediately executory. 28

In addition, in the case of Schonemann v. Defensor Santiago, et al., this Court held:

It is elementary that if an alien wants to stay in the Philippines, he must possess the
necessary documents. One of these documents is a valid passport. There are, of course,
exceptions where in the exercise of its sovereign prerogatives the Philippines may grant
refugee status, refuse to extradite an alien, or otherwise allow him or her to stay here
even if he [the alien] has no valid passport or Philippine visa. "Boat people" seeking
residence elsewhere are examples. However, the grant of the privilege of staying in the
Philippines is discretionary on the part of the proper authorities. There is no showing of
any grave abuse of discretion, arbitrariness, or whimsicality in the questioned summary
judgment. x x x 29

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.

WHEREFORE, this petition for review is DISMISSED, and the August 7, 1996
Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. No costs to the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

April 5, 2016
G.R. No. 216607

ARLENE LLENA EMPAYNADO CHUA, Petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, IMELDA E. FRAGATA, and KRYSTLE
MARIE C. BACANI, Respondents.

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

Dual citizens are disqualified from running for any elective local position. They cannot
successfully run and assume office because their ineligibility is inherent in them,
existing prior to the filing of their certificates of candidacy. Their certificates of
candidacy are void ab initio, and votes cast for them will be disregarded. Consequently,
whoever garners the next highest number of votes among the eligible candidates is the
person legally entitled to the position.

This resolves a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition1 assailing the Commission on
Elections Resolutions dated October 17, 20132 and January 30, 2015.3 The Commission
on Elections annulled the "proclamation of . . . Arlene Llena Empaynado Chua as
Councilor for the Fourth District of Manila[,]"4 and directed the Board of Canvassers to
reconvene and proclaim Krystle Marie C. Bacani (Bacani) as Councilor for having
garnered the next highest number of votes.5

On October 3, 2012, Arlene Llena Empaynado Chua (Chua) filed her Certificate of
Candidacy6 for Councilor for the Fourth District of Manila during the May 13, 2013
National and Local Elections. The Fourth District of Manila is entitled to six (6) seats in
the Sangguniang Panlungsod.7

After the conduct of elections, Chua garnered the sixth highest number of votes.8 She
was proclaimed by the Board of Canvassers on May 15, 2013.9

On the date of Chua’s proclamation, however, Imelda E. Fragata (Fragata) filed a


Petition10 captioned as a "petition to declare [Chua] as a nuisance candidate"11 and "to
deny due course and/or cancel [Chua’s] Certificate of Candidacy."12 Fragata was
allegedly a registered voter in the Fourth District13 who claimed that Chua was
unqualified to run for Councilor on two grounds: Chua was not a Filipino citizen, and
she was a permanent resident of the United States of America.14 Fragata specifically
alleged the following in her Petition:

3. [Chua] is not a Filipino Citizen.

4. Prior to the filing of her candidacy, [Chua] has been living in the United States
of America (USA) for at least 33 years.
5. [Chua] is an immigrant and was validly issued a Green Card by the
Government of the USA.

6. She resided and continues to reside [in Georgia, USA].

7. [Chua] has been a Registered Professional Nurse in the State of Georgia, USA
since November 17, 1990.

8. . . . [Chua’s] Professional License in the USA is still to expire in 31 January


2014.15

The last paragraph of the Petition prayed that Chua "be disqualified as a candidate for
the position of councilor in the Fourth District of the City of Manila[.]"16

Answering the Petition, Chua contended that she was a natural-born Filipino, born to
Filipino parents in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija.17 With respect to her residency, Chua
alleged that she had been residing in Sampaloc, Manila since 200818 and had more than
complied with the one-year period required to run for Councilor.19

According to Chua, Fragata’s Petition was belatedly filed,20 whether it was treated as one
for declaration of a nuisance candidate21 or for denial of due course or cancellation of
certificate of candidacy.22 Fragata filed her Petition on May 15, 2013, which was beyond
five (5) days from October 5, 2012, the last day of the filing of certificates of
candidacy.23 The Petition was also filed beyond 25 days from October 3, 2012,24 the date
Chua filed her Certificate of Candidacy.25

Chua stressed that she had already been proclaimed on May 15, 2013, the same date that
Fragata filed her Petition; hence, Fragata’s proper remedy was to file a petition for quo
warranto26 under Section 253 of the Omnibus Election Code. Chua prayed that the
Commission dismiss Fragata’s Petition.27

On June 19, 2013, Bacani filed a Motion to Intervene with Manifestation and Motion to
Annul Proclamation.28 Bacani alleged that she likewise ran for Councilor in the Fourth
District of Manila, and that after the canvassing of votes, she ranked seventh among all
the candidates, next to Chua.29 Should Chua be disqualified, Bacani claimed that she
should be proclaimed Councilor30 following this Court’s ruling in Maquiling v.
Commission on Elections.31

Bacani argued that Chua, being a dual citizen, was unqualified to run for
Councilor.32 Based on an Order of the Bureau of Immigration, Chua was allegedly
naturalized as an American citizen on December 7, 1977.33 She was issued an American
passport34 on July 14, 2006.

Chua took an Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on September 21,
2011.35 Nonetheless, Chua allegedly continued on using her American passport,
specifically on the following dates:
October 16, 2012 Departure for the United States

December 11, 2012 Arrival in the Philippines

May 30, 2013 Departure for the United States36

Moreover, Chua did not execute an oath of renunciation of her American


citizenship.37

With Chua being a dual citizen at the time she filed her Certificate of Candidacy, Bacani
prayed that the Commission on Elections annul Chua’s proclamation.38

In her Comment/Opposition (to the Motion to Intervene of Krystle Marie


Bacani),39 Chua argued that the Motion was a belatedly filed petition to deny due course
or cancel a certificate of candidacy, having been filed after the day of the
elections.40 According to Chua, the Motion should not even be considered since she was
already proclaimed by the Board of Canvassers.41 Thus, Chua prayed that the Motion to
Intervene be denied and expunged from the records of the case.42

The Commission on Elections then ordered the parties to file their respective
memoranda.43

In her Memorandum,44 Chua maintained that Fragata’s Petition was filed out of time
and should have been outright dismissed.45 Reiterating that she had already been
proclaimed, Chua argued that Fragata’s proper remedy was a petition for quo
warranto.46

Countering Chua’s claims, Fragata and Bacani restated in their Joint


Memorandum47 that Chua was a dual citizen disqualified from running for any elective
local position.

The Commission on Elections Second Division resolved Fragata’s Petition. Ruling that
Bacani had a legal interest in the matter in litigation, it allowed Bacani’s Motion to
Intervene.48 The Commission said that should Fragata’s Petition be granted, the votes
for Chua would not be counted.49 In effect, Bacani would garner the sixth highest
number of votes among the qualified candidates, which would earn her a seat in the
Sangguniang Panlungsod of Manila.50

With respect to the nature of Fragata’s Petition, the Commission on Elections held that
it was one for disqualification, regardless of the caption stating that it was a petition to
declare Chua a nuisance candidate.51 The Petition alleged a ground for disqualification
under Section 40 of the Local Government Code,52 specifically, that Chua was a
permanent resident in the United States.

Since Fragata filed a petition for disqualification, Rule 25, Section 3 of the Commission
on Elections Rules of Procedure governed the period for its filing.53 Under the Rules, a
petition for disqualification should be filed "any day after the last day for filing of
certificates of candidacy, but not later than the date of the proclamation." Fragata filed
the Petition within this period, having filed it on the date of Chua’s proclamation on May
15, 2013.54

The Commission no longer discussed whether Chua was a permanent resident of the
United States. Instead, it found that Chua was a dual citizen when she filed her
Certificate of Candidacy.55 Although she reacquired her Filipino citizenship in 2011 by
taking an Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, petitioner failed to take a
sworn and personal renunciation of her American citizenship required under Section
5(2) of the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.56

Considering that Chua is a dual citizen, the Commission held that Chua was disqualified
to run for Councilor pursuant to Section 40 of the Local Government
Code.57 Consequently, Chua’s Certificate of Candidacy was void ab initio, and all votes
casted for her were stray.58 Chua’s proclamation was likewise voided, and
per Maquiling, Bacani was declared to have garnered the sixth highest number of
votes.59

Thus, in the Resolution dated October 17, 2013, the Commission on Elections Second
Division ruled in favor of Fragata and Bacani.60 The dispositive portion of the October
17, 2013 Resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission (Second Division) RESOLVES,


as it hereby RESOLVED:

1. To ANNUL the proclamation of respondent Arlene Llena Empaynado Chua as


Councilor for the Fourth District of Manila;

2. To DIRECT the Board of Canvassers of the City of Manila


to CONVENE and PROCLAIM Intervenor Krystle Marie C. Bacani as the duly
elected Councilor of the Fourth District of the City of Manila, having obtained the
sixth highest number of votes for said position.

Let the Deputy Executive Director for Operations implement this Resolution.

SO ORDERED.61

Chua moved for reconsideration,62 but the Commission on Elections En Banc denied the
Motion in the Resolution dated January 30, 2015.

Arguing that the Commission issued its October 17, 2013 and January 30, 2015
Resolutions with grave abuse of discretion, Chua filed before this Court a Petition for
Certiorari and Prohibition with prayer for issuance of temporary restraining order
and/or writ of preliminary injunction.63 Fragata and Bacani jointly filed their
Comment,64 while the Commission on Elections filed its Comment65 through the Office
of the Solicitor General.
Chua emphasizes that she was already proclaimed as a duly elected
Councilor.66 Assuming that she was ineligible to run for office, this created a permanent
vacancy in the Sangguniang Panlungsod, which was to be filled according to the rule on
succession under Section 45 of the Local Government Code, and not by proclamation of
the candidate who garnered the next highest number of votes.67

Chua maintains that Fragata belatedly filed her Petition before the Commission on
Elections.68 Since Fragata filed a Petition to deny due course or cancel certificate of
candidacy, it should have been filed within five (5) days from the last day for filing of
certificates of candidacy, but not later than 25 days from the time of the filing of the
certificate of candidacy assailed.69 Fragata filed the Petition on May 15, 2013, more than
25 days after Chua filed her Certificate of Candidacy on October 3, 2012.70 The
Commission on Elections, therefore, should have outright dismissed Fragata’s Petition.71

With her already proclaimed, Chua argues that the Commission on Elections should
have respected the voice of the people.72 Chua prays that the Resolutions annulling her
proclamation and subsequently proclaiming Bacani be set aside.73

As for Fragata and Bacani as well as the Commission on Elections, all maintain that
Fragata’s Petition was a petition for disqualification assailing Chua’s citizenship and
status as a permanent resident in the United States.74The Petition, which Fragata filed
on the date of Chua’s proclamation, was filed within the reglementary period.75

The Commission on Elections stresses that Chua was a dual citizen at the time she filed
her Certificate of Candidacy.76 Consequently, she was ineligible to run for Councilor and
was correctly considered a non-candidate. 77All the votes casted in Chua’s favor were
correctly disregarded, resulting in Bacani garnering the next highest number of
votes.78 Following Maquiling, the Commission argues that Bacani was validly
proclaimed as Councilor, and, contrary to Chua’s claim, the rule on succession under
Section 45 of the Local Government Code did not apply, with the disqualifying
circumstance existing prior to the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy.79

Although Chua was already proclaimed, the Commission on Elections argues that "[t]he
will of the people as expressed through the ballot cannot cure the vice of ineligibility,
especially if they mistakenly believed that the candidate was qualified."80 Fragata,
Bacani, and the Commission on Elections pray that the Petition for Certiorari and
Prohibition be dismissed.81

The issues for this Court’s resolution are the following:

First, whether private respondent Imelda E. Fragata filed a petition for disqualification
or a petition to deny due course or cancel certificate of candidacy; and

Second, whether the rule on succession under Section 45 of the Local Government Code
applies to this case.
We dismiss the Petition. The allegations of private respondent Fragata’s Petition before
the Commission on Elections show that it was a timely filed petition for disqualification.
Moreover, the Commission on Elections did not gravely abuse its discretion in
disqualifying petitioner Arlene Llena Empaynado Chua, annulling her proclamation,
and subsequently proclaiming private respondent Krystle Marie C. Bacani, the
candidate who garnered the sixth highest number of votes among the qualified
candidates.

As this Court has earlier observed in Fermin v. Commission on Elections,82 members of


the bench and the bar have "indiscriminately interchanged"83 the remedies of a petition
to deny due course or cancel certificate of candidacy and a petition for disqualification,
thus "adding confusion to the already difficult state of our jurisprudence on election
laws."84

The remedies, however, have different grounds and periods for their filing. The
remedies have different legal consequences.

A person files a certificate of candidacy to announce his or her candidacy and to declare
his or her eligibility for the elective office indicated in the certificate. 85 Section 74 of the
Omnibus Election Code on the contents of a certificate of candidacy states:

Sec. 74. Contents of certificate of candidacy. – The certificate of candidacy shall


state that the person filing it is announcing his candidacy for the office stated therein
and that he is eligible for said office; if for Member of the Batasang Pambansa, the
province, including its component cities, highly urbanized city or district or section
which he seeks to represent; the political party to which he belongs; civil status; his date
of birth; residence; his post office address for all election purposes; his profession or
occupation; that he will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will
maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; that he will obey the laws, legal orders, and
decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities; that he is not a permanent
resident or immigrant to a foreign country; that the obligation imposed by his oath is
assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that the
facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge.

Unless a candidate has officially changed his name through a court approved
proceeding, a candidate shall use in a certificate of candidacy the name by which he has
been baptized, or if has not been baptized in any church or religion, the name registered
in the office of the local civil registrar or any other name allowed under the provisions of
existing law or, in the case of a Muslim, his Hadji name after performing the prescribed
religious pilgrimage: Provided, That when there are two or more candidates for an office
with the same name and surname, each candidate, upon being made aware of such fact,
shall state his paternal and maternal surname, except the incumbent who may continue
to use the name and surname stated in his certificate of candidacy when he was elected.
He may also include one nickname or stage name by which he is generally or popularly
known in the locality.
The person filing a certificate of candidacy shall also affix his latest photograph,
passport size; a statement in duplicate containing his bio-data and program of
government not exceeding one hundred words, if he so desires.

The Commission on Elections has the ministerial duty to receive and acknowledge
receipt of certificates of candidacy.86 However, under Section 78 of the Omnibus
Election Code,87 the Commission may deny due course or cancel a certificate of
candidacy through a verified petition filed exclusively on the ground that "any material
representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false." The
"material representation" referred to in Section 78 is that which involves the eligibility
or qualification for the office sought by the person who filed the certificate.88 Section 78
must, therefore, be read "in relation to the constitutional and statutory provisions on
qualifications or eligibility for public office."89 Moreover, the false representation "must
consist of a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would
otherwise render a candidate ineligible."90

A person intending to run for public office must not only possess the required
qualifications for the position for which he or she intends to run. The candidate must
also possess none of the grounds for disqualification under the law. As Justice Vicente
V. Mendoza said in his Dissenting Opinion in Romualdez-Marcos v. Commission on
Elections,91 "that an individual possesses the qualifications for a public office does not
imply that he is not disqualified from becoming a candidate or continuing as a candidate
for a public office and vice-versa."92

Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code provides for grounds in filing a petition for
disqualification:

Sec. 68 Disqualifications. – Any candidate who, in action or protest in which he is a


party is declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of, or found by the
Commission of having (a) given money or other material consideration to influence,
induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral functions; (b)
committed acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy; (c) spent in his election campaign
an amount in excess of that allowed by this Code; (d) solicited, received or made any
contribution prohibited under Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104; or (e) violated any of
Sections 80, 83, 85, 86 and 261, paragraphs d, e, k, v, and cc, sub-paragraph 6, shall be
disqualified from continuing as a candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding the
office. Any person who is a permanent resident of or an immigrant of a foreign country
in accordance with the residence requirement provided for in the election laws.

Apart from the grounds provided in Section 68, any of the grounds in Section 12 of the
Omnibus Election Code as well as in Section 40 of the Local Government Code may
likewise be raised in a petition for disqualification. Section 12 of the Omnibus Election
Code states:

Sec. 12. Disqualifications. – Any person who has been declared by competent
authority insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for
subversion, insurrection, rebellion, or for any offense for which he has been sentenced
to a penalty of more than eighteen months or for a crime involving moral turpitude,
shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given
plenary pardon or granted amnesty.

This disqualifications to be a candidate herein provided shall be deemed removed upon


the declaration by competent authority that said insanity or incompetence had been
removed or after the expiration of a period of five years from his service of sentence,
unless within the same period he again becomes disqualified.

Disqualifications specifically applicable to those running for local elective positions are
found in Section 40 of the Local Government Code:

SECTION 40. Disqualifications. – The following persons are disqualified from


running for any elective local position:

(a) Those sentenced by final judgment for an offense involving moral turpitude or
for an offense punishable by one (1) year or more of imprisonment, within two
(2) years after serving sentence;

(b) Those removed from office as a result of an administrative case;

(c) Those convicted by final judgment for violating the oath of allegiance to the
Republic;

(d) Those with dual citizenship;

(e) Fugitives from justice in criminal or nonpolitical cases here or abroad;

(f) Permanent residents in a foreign country or those who have acquired the right
to reside abroad and continue to avail of the same right after the effectivity of this
Code; and

(g) The insane or feeble-minded.

Private respondent Fragata alleges in her Petition that petitioner is a permanent


resident in the United States, a green card holder who, prior to the filing of her
Certificate of Candidacy for Councilor, has resided in the State of Georgia for 33 years.
She anchors her Petition on Section 40 of the Local Government Code, which
disqualifies permanent residents of a foreign country from running for any elective local
position.

It is true that under Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code, persons who file their
certificates of candidacy declare that they are not a permanent resident or immigrant to
a foreign country. Therefore, a petition to deny due course or cancel a certificate of
candidacy may likewise be filed against a permanent resident of a foreign country
seeking an elective post in the Philippines on the ground of material misrepresentation
in the certificate of candidacy.93
What remedy to avail himself or herself of, however, depends on the petitioner. If the
false material representation in the certificate of candidacy relates to a ground for
disqualification, the petitioner may choose whether to file a petition to deny due course
or cancel a certificate of candidacy or a petition for disqualification, so long as the
petition filed complies with the requirements under the law.94

Before the Commission on Elections, private respondent Fragata had a choice of filing
either a petition to deny due course or cancel petitioner’s certificate of candidacy or a
petition for disqualification. In her Petition, private respondent Fragata did not argue
that petitioner made a false material representation in her Certificate of Candidacy; she
asserted that petitioner was a permanent resident disqualified to run for Councilor
under Section 40 of the Local Government Code. Private respondent Fragata’s Petition,
therefore, was a petition for disqualification.

It follows that private respondent Fragata timely filed her Petition before the
Commission on Elections. Under Rule 25, Section 3 of the Rules of Procedure of the
Commission, a petition for disqualification "shall be filed any day after the last day for
filing of certificates of candidacy, but not later that the date of proclamation." Private
respondent Fragata filed her Petition on the date of petitioner’s proclamation on May 15,
2013. The Commission on Elections did not gravely abuse its discretion in taking
cognizance of private respondent Fragata’s Petition.

In addition, the Commission on Elections correctly admitted private respondent


Bacani’s pleading-in-intervention.

An adverse decision against petitioner would require a pronouncement as to who should


assume the position of Councilor. Hence, those who believe that they are entitled to the
position may prove their legal interest in the matter in litigation95 and may properly
intervene for a complete disposition of the case.

Private respondent Bacani claims that she is entitled to the position of Councilor. In her
Motion to Intervene, she argues for petitioner’s disqualification and alleges the
circumstances surrounding petitioner’s dual citizenship. She then cites Maquiling,
arguing that she should be proclaimed in lieu of petitioner because she obtained the
sixth highest number of votes among the qualified candidates. Private respondent
Bacani’s intervention was, therefore, proper.

II

The Commission on Elections did not gravely abuse its discretion in disqualifying
petitioner, annulling her proclamation, and subsequently proclaiming private
respondent Bacani as the duly elected Councilor for the Fourth District of Manila.

Petitioner was born to Filipino parents in 1967, which makes her a natural-born Filipino
under the 1935 Constitution.96 Ten years later, on December 7, 1977, petitioner became
a naturalized American. Hence, she lost her Filipino citizenship pursuant to Section 1 of
Commonwealth Act No. 63.97
It was on September 21, 2011 when petitioner took an Oath of Allegiance to the Republic
of the Philippines, thus reacquiring her Filipino citizenship.98 From September 21, 2011
up to the present, however, petitioner failed to execute a sworn and personal
renunciation of her foreign citizenship particularly required of those seeking elective
public office. Section 5(2) of the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003

provides:

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 qualifications
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 cannot claim that she has renounced her American citizenship by taking the
Oath of Allegiance. The oath of allegiance and the sworn and personal renunciation of
foreign citizenship are separate requirements, the latter being
an additional requirement for qualification to run for public office. In Jacot v. Dal:99

[T]he oath of allegiance contained in the Certificate of Candidacy, which is substantially


similar to the one contained in Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225, does not constitute
the personal and sworn renunciation sought under Section 5(2) of Republic Act No.
9225. It bears to emphasize that the said oath of allegiance is a general requirement for
all those who wish to run as candidates in Philippine elections; while the renunciation of
foreign citizenship is an additional requisite only for those who have retained or
reacquired Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 and who seek elective
public posts, considering their special circumstance of having more than one
citizenship.100

With petitioner’s failure to execute a personal and sworn renunciation of her American
citizenship, petitioner was a dual citizen at the time she filed her Certificate of
Candidacy on October 3, 2012. Under Section 40 of the Local Government Code, she
was disqualified to run for Councilor in the Fourth District of Manila during the 2013
National and Local Elections.

Petitioner, however, argues that the Commission on Elections gravely abused its
discretion in proclaiming private respondent Bacani, the mere seventh placer among the
candidates for Councilor and, therefore, not the electorate’s choice. Petitioner maintains
that the vacancy left by her disqualification should be filled according to the rule on
succession under Section 45(a)(1) of the Local Government Code, which provides:
SECTION 45. Permanent Vacancies in the Sanggunian. – (a) Permanent
vacancies in the sanggunian where automatic successions provided above do not apply
shall be filled by appointment in the following manner:

(1) The President, through the Executive Secretary, in the case of the sangguniang
panlalawigan and the sangguniang panlungsod of highly urbanized cities and
independent component cities[.]

The permanent vacancies referred to in Section 45 are those arising "when an elective
local official fills a higher vacant office, refuses to assume office, fails to qualify, dies, is
removed from office, voluntarily resigns, or is otherwise permanently incapacitated to
discharge the functions of his office."101 In these situations, the vacancies were caused by
those whose certificates of candidacy were valid at the time of the filing "but
subsequently had to be cancelled because of a violation of law that took place, or a legal
impediment that took effect, after the filing of the certificate of candidacy."102

The rule on succession under Section 45, however, would not apply if the permanent
vacancy was caused by one whose certificate of candidacy was void ab initio. Specifically
with respect to dual citizens, their certificates of candidacy are void ab initio because
they possess "a substantive [disqualifying circumstance] . . . [existing] prior to the filing
of their certificate of candidacy."103 Legally, they should not even be considered
candidates. The votes casted for them should be considered stray and should not be
counted.104

In cases of vacancies caused by those with void ab initio certificates of candidacy, the
person legally entitled to the vacant position would be the candidate who garnered the
next highest number of votes among those eligible.105 In this case, it is private
respondent Bacani who is legally entitled to the position of Councilor, having garnered
the sixth highest number of votes among the eligible candidates. The Commission on
Elections correctly proclaimed private respondent Bacani in lieu of petitioner.

Petitioner may have garnered more votes than private respondent Bacani. She may have
already been proclaimed. Nevertheless, elections are more than a numbers game.
Hence, in Maquiling:

The ballot cannot override the constitutional and statutory requirements for
qualifications and disqualifications of candidates. When the law requires certain
qualifications to be possessed or that certain disqualifications be not possessed by
persons desiring to serve as elective public officials, those qualifications must be met
before one even becomes a candidate. When a person who is not qualified is voted for
and eventually garners the highest number of votes, even the will of the electorate
expressed through the ballot cannot cure the defect in the qualifications of the
candidate. To rule otherwise is to trample upon and rent asunder the very law that sets
forth the qualifications and disqualifications of candidates. We might as well write off
our election laws if the voice of the electorate is the sole determinant of who should be
proclaimed worthy to occupy elective positions in our republic.
....

As in any contest, elections are governed by rules that determine the qualifications and
disqualifications of those who are allowed to participate as players. When there are
participants who turn out to be ineligible, their victory is voided and the laurel is
awarded to the next in rank who does not possess any of the disqualifications nor lacks
any of the qualifications set in the rules to be eligible as candidates. 106

All told, petitioner Arlene Llena Empaynado Chua is a dual citizen correctly disqualified
from running for the position of Councilor in the Fourth District of Manila during the
2013 National and Local elections. With her dual citizenship existing prior to the filing
of the certificate of candidacy, her Certificate of Candidacy was void ab initio. She was
correctly considered a non-candidate. All votes casted for her were stray, and the person
legally entitled to the position is private respondent Krystle Marie C. Bacani, the
candidate with the next highest number of votes among the eligible candidates. The
Commission on Elections did not gravely abuse its discretion in annulling Chua's
proclamation and subsequently proclaiming private respondent Bacani.

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition is DISMISSED. This


Decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

G.R. No. 207105, November 10, 2015

ARSENIO A. AGUSTIN, Petitioner, v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND


SALVADOR S. PILLOS, Respondent.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

A person of dual citizenship is disqualified from running for a public office in the
Philippines.

The Case

The petitioner seeks to annul and set aside the adverse resolution issued on April 23,
2013 in SPA No. 13-023 (DC),1 whereby the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En
Banc disposed:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration of Petitioner


Stewart D. De La Cruz in SPA No. 13-024 (DC) is denied for lack of merit. On the other
hand, the Motion for Reconsideration of Petitioner Salvador S. Pillos in SPA No. 13-023
(DC) is granted; consequently, the Certificate of Candidacy of Respondent Arsenio A.
Agustin is hereby CANCELLED and DENIED DUE COURSE.

SO ORDERED.2ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
cralawlawlibrary

Antecedents

In 1997, the petitioner was naturalized as a citizen of the United States of America
(USA).3 On October 5, 2012,4 he filed his certificate of candidacy (CoC) for the position
of Mayor of the Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte to be contested in the May 13, 2013
local elections.5 As the official candidate of the Nacionalista Party,6 he declared in his
CoC that he was eligible for the office he was seeking to be elected to; that he was a
natural born Filipino citizen; and that he had been a resident of the Municipality of
Marcos, Ilocos Norte for 25 years.7

On October 10, 2012, respondent Salvador S. Pillos, a rival mayoralty candidate, filed in
the COMELEC aPetition To Deny Due Course and/or to Cancel the Certificate of
Candidacy of Arsenio A. Agustin,docketed as SPA No. 13-023 (DC),8 alleging that the
petitioner had made a material misrepresentation in his CoC by stating that he had been
a resident of the Municipality of Marcos for 25 years despite having registered as a voter
therein only on May 31, 2012. The petition stated the sole ground
thuswise:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

THE DECLARATION UNDER OATH MADE BY THE RESPONDENT THAT HE IS


ELIGIBLE FOR THE OFFICE OR SEEK TO BE ELECTED TO (sic) CONSTITUTES
MATERIAL MISREPRESENTATION FOR THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER (sic) HE
HAS NOT RESIDED AS REQUIRED BY LAW FOR A PERIOD OF ONE YEAR IN THE
LOCALITY HE SEEKS TO BE ELECTED.9cralawlawlibrary

and prayed, viz.:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed before this Honorable Commission, to issue an


order to immediately deny due course and or to cancel the certificate of candidacy of
respondent Arsenio A. Agustin.

Other reliefs just and equitable are likewise prayed of (sic).10cralawlawlibrary

In his answer, the petitioner countered that the one-year requirement referred to
residency, not to voter registration; that residency was not dependent on citizenship,
such that his travel to Hawaii for business purposes did not violate the residency
requirement pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence; and that as regards citizenship, he
attached a copy of his Affidavit of Renunciation of U.S./American Citizenshipexecuted
on October 2, 2012.11

On January 28, 2013, the COMELEC Second Division issued its omnibus
resolution,12 pertinently holding:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
As can be clearly gathered from the Velasco case, a candidate's status as a registered
voter is a material fact which falls under the same classification as one's citizenship or
residence. While they are under the same classification as referring to a candidate's
qualification for elective office, the requirements are different. The requirement that a
candidate must be a registered voter does not carry with it the requirement that he must
be so one year before the elections because this refers to the residency qualification.

On this score, it could not be said that respondents falsely represented the length of
their residence in the municipality simply because they became registered voters thereof
only fairly recently. As far as registration as a voter is concerned, it should suffice that
they are duly registered upon the filing of their COCs or within the period prescribed by
law for such registration.

Anent petitioner['] allegations that respondents were unable to vote because they are
residents of other countries, the records are bereft of any evidence that would
substantiate this. It is a fundamental rule that he who alleges, not he who denies, must
prove. Mere, petitioners have not adduced a single shred of competent evidence that
respondents were actually residents or citizens of other countries that is why they were
unable to vote.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petitions are hereby DENIED for lack of
merit.

SO ORDERED.13ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
cralawlawlibrary

On February 12, 2013, Pillos moved for the reconsideration of the January 28, 2013
resolution with the COMELEC En Banc.14 He underscored in his motion that the
certification issued by the Bureau of Immigration reflected that the petitioner had
voluntarily declared in his travel documents that he was a citizen of the USA; that when
he travelled to Hawaii, USA on October 6, 2012, he still used his USA passport despite
his renunciation of his USA citizenship on October 2, 2012 and after filing his CoC on
October 5, 2012, in which he declared that he was a resident of the Municipality of
Marcos, Ilocos Norte; and that the petitioner's declaration of his eligibility in his CoC
constituted material misrepresentation because of his failure to meet the citizenship and
residency requirements.

The petitioner opposed the motion for reconsideration.15

On April 23, 2013, the COMELEC En Banc issued its assailed resolution cancelling and
denying due course to the petitioner's CoC, observing as
follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Having admitted his dual citizenship, Agustin had the burden of proving through his
evidence that he complied with the statutory requirements imposed upon dual citizens
provided under Republic Act 9225, particularly Section 3 and 5(2) thereof, to
wit:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
xxxx

While Agustin presented a copy of his Affidavit of Renunciation, he failed to furnish this
Commission a copy of his Oath of Allegiance. Noteworthy is the fact, that in Agustin's
Affidavit of Renunciation, it was stated that his Oath of Allegiance is attached as Annex
"B"; however, said attachment has not been made available for the perusal of this
Commission. Having failed to sufficiently show that he complied with the provisions of
RA 9225, Agustin's COC must be cancelled and/or denied due course. Consequently, the
Motion for Reconsideration is only granted as against Respondent
Agustin.16ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
cralawlawlibrary

On May 3, 2013, the petitioner filed a Verified Urgent Motion for Reconsideration with
Leave of Court.17He attached thereto copies of the Order of Approval dated February 12,
201218 and his Oath of Allegiance dated March 9, 2012,19 both issued by the Consulate
General of the Philippines in Honolulu, Hawaii. He further attached certifications issued
by Election Officers in Ilocos Norte attesting that the documents had been received by
the COMELEC and retained in its files. He explained that the documents were not
presented during the course of the proceedings because the sole issue raised by
Pillos' Petition to Deny Due Course and/or to Cancel Certificate of Candidacy had
involved only his (petitioner) compliance with the one-year residency requirement.

Pillos submitted a Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution and Comment on the
Verified Motion for Reconsideration with Leave of Court on May 8, 2013,20 praying that
a writ of execution be issued to implement the cancellation of the petitioner's COC.

On election day, May 13, 2013, the name of the petitioner remained in the ballot. He was
later on proclaimed as the duly elected Municipal Mayor of Marcos, Ilocos Norte for
obtaining 5,020 votes,21 the highest among the contending parties.

Sensing that the 30-day period within which a petition for certiorari should be filed in
the Supreme Court was about to expire, the petitioner filed on May 24, 2013 an Urgent
Motion to Withdraw Verified Urgent Motion for Reconsideration with Leave of Court
dated May 3, 2013.22

On May 28, 2013, the petitioner thus instituted this case, alleging grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the COMELEC En
Banc based on the following grounds:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

a. The assailed En Banc Resolution was promulgated in gross violation of


Petitioner's guaranteed Constitutional Right to Due Process and to be
informed of the facts and the law on which the same was based; and

b. The grave erroneous appreciation of the facts, law, and the evidence of the
case.23
cralawlawlibrary

Meanwhile, on June 18, 2013, the COMELEC En Banc, pointing out that the filing of a
motion for reconsideration of an en banc resolution was not allowed under Rule 13 of
the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure; and that, accordingly, the April 23, 2013
resolution was deemed final and executory pursuant to Section 8, paragraph 2 of
COMELEC Resolution No. 9523, issued the writ of execution.24

On July 16, 2013, the Court required the parties to observe the status quo prevailing
before the issuance of the COMELEC En Banc resolution dated April 23,
2013.25cralawred

Issues

The core issue involves the eligibility of the petitioner as a candidate for the position of
Mayor of the Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte.

A secondary issue concerns the propriety of Pillos' claim as the rightful occupant of the
contested elective position.

Ruling

The petition for certiorari lacks merit.

The Court finds and declares that the petitioner made no material misrepresentation in
his CoC; hence, there is no legal or factual basis for the cancellation of the CoC. Even so,
he was disqualified to run as Mayor of the Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte for
being a dual citizen. With his disqualification having been determined and pronounced
by final judgment before the elections, the votes cast in his favor should not be counted.
Accordingly, his rival, respondent Pillos, should be proclaimed duly elected Mayor for
obtaining the highest number of votes in the elections.

1.
Administrative due process was observed

Before anything more, let us deal with the petitioner's insistence that the COMELEC En
Banc gravely abused its discretion in resolving Pillos' motion for reconsideration based
on a ground that was neither the basis of nor raised in the Petition To Deny Due Course
and/or to Cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of Arsenio A. Agustin; that the non-
presentation of his Oath of Allegiance should not be fatal to his constitutional right to
run for public office especially because the sole ground for Pillos' petition in the
COMELEC had dealt only with the residency requirement; that Pillos could have
included citizenship as a ground by the amendment of his petition, but he did not move
for that purpose; that he duly complied with the requirements for the re-acquisition of
his Philippine citizenship pursuant to Republic Act No. 9225, and the proof of the re-
acquisition had been submitted to the Election Officers in Ilocos Norte; and that the
COMELEC, by not at least holding a clarificatory hearing to ascertain and confirm such
matters, violated his right to due process by denying to him the opportunity to prepare
for his defense.

The petitioner's insistence lacks merit.

We note that the petitioner's citizenship came to the fore because he himself asserted his
Philippine citizenship in his answer to Pillos' petition to cancel his CoC in order to
bolster his allegation of compliance with the one-year residency requirement. As such,
he could not credibly complain about being denied due process, especially considering
that he had been able to file an opposition to Pillos' motion for reconsideration. It is
worthy to state that the observance of due process in administrative proceedings does
not always require or involve a trial-type proceeding, for the demand of due process is
also met whenever a person, being notified, is afforded the opportunity to explain or
defend himself. Also, due process is satisfied by giving the opportunity to seek the
reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.26 The rule is the same in election
cases.27

2.
The petitioner filed a valid CoC, but the use of
his USA passport after his renunciation of
foreign citizenship rendered him disqualified
from continuing as a mayoralty candidate

A valid CoC arises upon the timely filing of a person's declaration of his intention to run
for public office and his affirmation that he possesses the eligibility for the position he
seeks to assume. The valid CoC renders the person making the declaration a valid or
official candidate.28

There are two remedies available under existing laws to prevent a candidate from
running in an electoral race. One is by petition for disqualification, and the other by
petition to deny due course to or to cancel his certificate of candidacy. In Fermin v.
Commission on Elections,29 the Court has differentiated the two remedies
thuswise:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

[A] petition for disqualification, on the one hand, can be premised on Section 12 or 68 of
the OEC, or Section 40 of the LGC. On the other hand, a petition to deny due course to
or cancel a CoC can only be grounded on a statement of a material representation in the
said certificate that is false. The petitions also have different effects. While a person who
is disqualified under Section 68 is merely prohibited to continue as a candidate, the
person whose certificate is cancelled or denied due course under Section 78 is not
treated as a candidate at all, as if he/she never filed a CoC.30cralawlawlibrary

Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Section 78. Petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy. - A


verified petition seeking to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy may
be filed by the person exclusively on the ground that any material representation
contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false. The petition may be filed
at any time not later than twenty-five days from the time of the filing of the certificate of
candidacy and shall be decided, after due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days
before the election.cralawlawlibrary

The Court has described the nature of a Section 78 petition


in Fermin thusly:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

[t]he denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC is not based on the lack of
qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material representation that
is false, which may relate to the qualifications required of the public office he/she is
running for. It is noted that the candidate states in his/her CoC that he/she
is eligible for the office he/she seeks. Section 78 of the OEC, therefore, is to be
read in relation to the constitutional and statutory provisions
on qualifications or eligibility for public office. If the candidate
subsequently states a material representation in the CoC that is false, the
COMELEC, following the law, is empowered to deny due course to or cancel
such certificate. Indeed, the Court has already likened a proceeding under Section 78
to a quo warranto proceeding under Section 253 of the OEC since they both deal with
the eligibility or qualification of a candidate, with the distinction mainly in the feet that
a "Section 78" petition is filed before proclamation, while a petition for quo warranto is
filed after proclamation of the winning candidate.31cralawlawlibrary

The denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC under Section 78 of the
Omnibus Election Code involves a finding not only that a person lacked a qualification
for the office he is vying for but also that such he made a material representation in the
CoC that was false. The Court has stressed in Mitra v. Commission on Elections32 that in
addition to materiality there must be a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide
a fact that would otherwise render the candidate
ineligible, viz.:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The false representation under Section 78 must likewise be a "deliberate attempt to


mislead, misinform, or hide a fact that would otherwise render a candidate ineligible."
Given the purpose of the requirement, it must be made with the intention to deceive the
electorate as to the would-be candidate's qualifications for public office. Thus, the
misrepresentation that Section 78 addresses cannot be the result of a mere innocuous
mistake, and cannot exist in a situation where the intent to deceive is patently absent, or
where no deception on the electorate results. The deliberate character of the
misrepresentation necessarily follows from a consideration of the consequences of any
material falsity: a candidate who falsifies a material fact cannot run; if he runs and is
elected, he cannot serve; in both cases, he can be prosecuted for violation of the election
laws.33ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
cralawlawlibrary

A petition for the denial of due course to or cancellation of COC that falls short of the
foregoing requirements should not be granted.
The petition of Pillos in SPA No. 13-023 (DC) was in the nature of the Section 78
petition to deny due course to or to cancel the CoC of the petitioner because it contained
allegations pertaining to a Section 78 petition, namely: (a) the petitioner as a candidate
made a representation in his CoC; (b) the representation referred to a material matter
that would affect his substantive right as candidate (that is, the right to run for the
position for which he filed his CoC); and (c) he made the false representation with the
intention to deceive the electorate as to his qualification for public office, or he
deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact that would otherwise render
him ineligible. Pillos further challenged the petitioner's eligibility for public office based
on his failure to comply with the one-year residency requirement stated in the Local
Government Code, and ultimately specifically prayed that the COMELEC "issue an
order to immediately deny due course and or to cancel the certificate of candidacy of
respondent Arsenio A. Agustin."34

Yet, the COMELEC En Banc canceled the petitioner's CoC not because of his failure to
meet the residency requirement but because of his failure "to sufficiently show that he
complied with the provisions of RA 9225."35 In our view, such basis for cancelation was
unwarranted considering that he became eligible to run for public office when he
expressly renounced his USA citizenship, by which he fully complied with the
requirements stated in Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225, to
wit:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

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:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

xxxx

(2) Those seeking elective public 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;

xxxx
cralawlawlibrary

More particularly, the petitioner took his Oath of Allegiance on March 9, 2012 and
executed his Affidavit of Renunciation on October 2, 2012. By his Oath of Allegiance
and his renunciation of his USA citizenship, he reverted to the status of an exclusively
Filipino citizen. On October 5, 2012, the date he filed his CoC he was, therefore,
exclusively a Filipino citizen, rendering him eligible to run for public office. His CoC was
valid for all intents and purposes of the election laws because he did not make therein
any material misrepresentation of his eligibility to run as Mayor of the Municipality of
Marcos, Ilocos Norte.
Nonetheless, we uphold the declaration by the COMELEC En Banc that the petitioner
was ineligible to run and be voted for as Mayor of the Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos
Norte. It is not disputed that on October 6, 2012,36 after having renounced his USA
citizenship and having already filed his CoC, he travelled abroad using his USA passport,
thereby representing himself as a citizen of the USA. He continued using his USA
passport in his subsequent travels abroad37 despite having been already issued his
Philippine passport on August 23, 2012.38 He thereby effectively repudiated his oath of
renunciation on October 6, 2012, the first time he used his USA passport after
renouncing his USA citizenship on October 2, 2012. Consequently, he could be
considered an exclusively Filipino citizen only for the four days from October 2, 2012
until October 6, 2012.

The petitioner's continued exercise of his rights as a citizen of the USA through using his
USA passport after the renunciation of his USA citizenship reverted him to his earlier
status as a dual citizen.39 Such reversion disqualified him from being elected to public
office in the Philippines pursuant to Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code,
viz.:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Section 40. Disqualifications. - The following persons arc disqualified from running for
any elective local position:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

xxxx

(d) Those with dual citizenship;

x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
cralawlawlibrary

A candidate is ineligible if he is disqualified to be elected to office, and he is disqualified


if he lacks any of the qualifications for elective office.40 Even if it made no finding that
the petitioner had deliberately attempted to mislead or to misinform as to warrant the
cancellation of his CoC, the COMELEC could still declare him disqualified for not
meeting the requisite eligibility under the Local Government Code.

3.
The petitioner was declared disqualified by
final judgment before election day; hence, the
votes cast for him should not be counted.

Considering that the Section 78 petition to deny due course to or to cancel the CoC
requires a finding that he made a material representation in the CoC that was false, the
COMELEC En Banc, in granting Pillos' motion for reconsideration, expressly held the
petitioner ineligible to participate in the elections or disqualified from the mayoralty
race, which was the basis for the cancellation of his CoC. Such reason cancelling the
petitioner's CoC despite the absence of the material misrepresentation at the time he
filed his CoC might not be in order, but the undisputed fact is that the COMELEC En
Banc expressly decreed his disqualification in the April 23, 2013 resolution.

The effect of the petitioner's disqualification under the April 23, 2013 resolution
depended on when the disqualification attained finality. The distinction exists because
of Section 6 of Republic Act No. 6646 (The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987), which
states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Section 6. Effect of Disqualification Case. — Any candidate who has been declared by
final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall
not be counted. If for any reason a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an
election to be disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes
in such election, the Court or Commission shall continue with the trial and hearing of
the action, inquiry, or protest and, upon motion of the complainant or any intervenor,
may during the pendency thereof order the suspension of the proclamation of such
candidate whenever the evidence of his guilt is strong.
cralawlawlibrary

In Cayat v. Commission on Elections,41 the Court has expounded on the effect of Section
6 of Republic Act No. 6646 thusly:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The law expressly declares that a candidate disqualified by final judgment before an
election cannot be voted for, and votes cast for him shall not be counted. This is a
mandatory provision of law. Section 6 of Republic Act No. 6646, The Electoral
Reforms Law of 1987, states:
Sec. 6. Effect of Disqualification Case.— Any candidate who has been declared by
final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast
for him shall not be counted. If for any reason a candidate is not declared by
final judgment before an election to be disqualified and he is voted for and
receives the winning number of votes in such election, the Court or Commission shall
continue with the trial and hearing of the action, inquiry, or protest and, upon motion of
the complainant or any intervenor, may during the pendency thereof order the
suspension of the proclamation of such candidate whenever the evidence of his guilt is
strong. (Emphasis added)
Section 6 of the Electoral Reforms Law of 1987 covers two situations. The first is when
the disqualification becomes final before the elections, which is the situation covered in
the first sentence of Section 6. The second is when the disqualification becomes final
after the elections, which is the situation covered in the second sentence of Section 6.

The present case falls under the first situation. Section 6 of the Electoral Reforms Law
governing the first situation is categorical: a candidate disqualified by final
judgment before an election cannot be voted for, and votes cast for him
shall not be counted. The Resolution disqualifying Cayat became final on 17 April
2004, way before the 10 May 2004 elections. Therefore, all the 8,164 votes cast
in Cayat's favor are stray. Cayat was never a candidate in the 10 May 2004
elections. Palileng's proclamation is proper because he was the sole and only
candidate, second to none.42cralawlawlibrary
Even if his disqualification did not subvert the validity of his CoC, the petitioner would
be reduced to a non-candidate under the terms of Section 6, supra, should it be shown
that the disqualification attained finality prior to the 2013 elections. The effect was to
render the votes cast in his favor stray, resulting in Pillos being proclaimed the winning
candidate.

It is crucial, therefore, to determine with certainty the time when the judgment
declaring the petitioner disqualified from running for the local elective position attained
finality.

Pillos submits that the April 23, 2013 resolution was already deemed final and executory
as of May 4, 2013; hence, the writ of execution was issued on June 18, 2013; and that the
petitioner's disqualification thus attained finality prior to the May 13, 2013 elections.

Pillos' submission is correct.

Although the petitioner filed his Verified Urgent Motion for Reconsideration with
Leave of Court on May 3, 201343 upon receiving the April 23, 2013 resolution granting
Pillos' motion for reconsideration,44 such filing did not impede the April 23, 2013
resolution from being deemed final and executory because Section l(d), Rule 13 of the
1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure expressly disallowed the filing of the motion for
reconsideration.45 Within the context of Section 13, Rule 18,46 and Section 3, Rule
37,47 both of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the April 23, 2013 resolution
became final and executory as of May 4, 2013 upon the lapse of five days from its
promulgation without a restraining order being issued by the Supreme Court.

Under the circumstances, the finality of the petitioner's disqualification pursuant to the
April 23, 2013 resolution prior to the May 13, 2013 elections rendered him a non-
candidate, and the votes cast for him should not have been counted.48 Pillos, being the
qualified candidate obtaining the highest number of votes, should be proclaimed duly
elected as Mayor of the Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte in the 2013 elections.

WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the petition for certiorari; AFFIRMS the
resolution dated April 23, 2013 insofar as it disqualified petitioner Arsenio A. Agustin
from running for any local elective position in the May 13, 2013
elections; DECLARES respondent Salvador S. Pillos the duly elected Mayor of the
Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte in the May 13, 2013 elections; ORDERS the
Commission on Elections to cause the proclamation of respondent Salvador S. Pillos as
the duly elected Mayor of the Municipality of Marcos, Ilocos Norte in the May 13, 2013
elections; and REQUIRES the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

EN BANC

G.R. No. 198742 August 10, 2012


TEODORA SOBEJANA-CONDON, Petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, LUIS M. BAUTISTA, ROBELITO V. PICAR
and WILMA P. PAGADUAN,Respondents.

SERENO,*

PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ *

DECISION

REYES, J.:

Failure to renounce foreign citizenship in accordance with the exact tenor of Section
5(2) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 renders a dual citizen ineligible to run for and thus
hold any elective public office.

The Case

At bar is a special civil action for certiorari1 under Rule 64 of the Rules of Court seeking
to nullify Resolution2 dated September 6, 2011 of the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) en banc in EAC (AE) No. A-44-2010. The assailed resolution (a) reversed
the Order3 dated November 30, 2010 of COMELEC Second Division dismissing
petitioner’s appeal; and (b) affirmed the consolidated Decision4 dated October 22, 2010
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Bauang, La Union, Branch 33, declaring petitioner
Teodora Sobejana-Condon (petitioner) disqualified and ineligible to her position as
Vice-Mayor of Caba, La Union.

The Undisputed Facts

The petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen having been born of Filipino parents on
August 8, 1944. On December 13, 1984, she became a naturalized Australian citizen
owing to her marriage to a certain Kevin Thomas Condon.

On December 2, 2005, she filed an application to re-acquire Philippine citizenship


before the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia pursuant to Section 3 of R.A. No.
9225 otherwise known as the "Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of
2003."5 The application was approved and the petitioner took her oath of allegiance to
the Republic of the Philippines on December 5, 2005.

On September 18, 2006, the petitioner filed an unsworn Declaration of Renunciation of


Australian Citizenship before the Department of Immigration and Indigenous Affairs,
Canberra, Australia, which in turn issued the Order dated September 27, 2006 certifying
that she has ceased to be an Australian citizen.6

The petitioner ran for Mayor in her hometown of Caba, La Union in the 2007 elections.
She lost in her bid. She again sought elective office during the May 10, 2010 elections
this time for the position of Vice-Mayor. She obtained the highest numbers of votes and
was proclaimed as the winning candidate. She took her oath of office on May 13, 2010.

Soon thereafter, private respondents Robelito V. Picar, Wilma P. Pagaduan7 and Luis M.
Bautista,8 (private respondents) all registered voters of Caba, La Union, filed separate
petitions for quo warranto questioning the petitioner’s eligibility before the RTC. The
petitions similarly sought the petitioner’s disqualification from holding her elective post
on the ground that she is a dual citizen and that she failed to execute a "personal and
sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any public officer
authorized to administer an oath" as imposed by Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225.

The petitioner denied being a dual citizen and averred that since September 27, 2006,
she ceased to be an Australian citizen. She claimed that the Declaration of Renunciation
of Australian Citizenship she executed in Australia sufficiently complied with Section
5(2), R.A. No. 9225 and that her act of running for public office is a clear abandonment
of her Australian citizenship.

Ruling of the RTC

In its consolidated Decision dated October 22, 2010, the trial court held that the
petitioner’s failure to comply with Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 rendered her ineligible
to run and hold public office. As admitted by the petitioner herself during trial, the
personal declaration of renunciation she filed in Australia was not under oath. The law
clearly mandates that the document containing the renunciation of foreign citizenship
must be sworn before any public officer authorized to administer oath. Consequently,
the RTC’s decision disposed as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court renders judgment in FAVOR of [private


respondents] and AGAINST (petitioner):

1) DECLARING [petitioner] TEODORA SOBEJANA-CONDON, disqualified and


ineligible to hold the office of Vice-Mayor of Caba, La Union;

2) NULLIFYING her proclamation as the winning candidate for Vice-Mayor of said


municipality; and

3) DECLARING the position of Vice-Mayor in said municipality vacant.

SO ORDERED.9

Ruling of the COMELEC

The petitioner appealed to the COMELEC but the appeal was dismissed by the Second
Division in its Order10 dated November 30, 2010 for failure to pay the docket fees within
the prescribed period. On motion for reconsideration, the appeal was reinstated by the
COMELEC en banc in its Resolution11 dated September 6, 2011. In the same issuance,
the substantive merits of the appeal were given due course. The COMELEC en banc
concurred with the findings and conclusions of the RTC; it also granted the Motion for
Execution Pending Appeal filed by the private respondents.

The decretal portion of the resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered the Commission RESOLVED as it


hereby RESOLVES as follows:

1. To DISMISS the instant appeal for lack of merit;

2. To AFFIRM the DECISION dated 22 October 2010 of the court a quo; and

3. To GRANT the Motion for Execution filed on November 12, 2010.

SO ORDERED.12 (Emphasis supplied)

Hence, the present petition ascribing grave abuse of discretion to the COMELEC en
banc.

The Petitioner’s Arguments

The petitioner contends that since she ceased to be an Australian citizen on September
27, 2006, she no longer held dual citizenship and was only a Filipino citizen when she
filed her certificate of candidacy as early as the 2007 elections. Hence, the "personal and
sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship" imposed by Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 to
dual citizens seeking elective office does not apply to her.

She further argues that a sworn renunciation is a mere formal and not a mandatory
requirement. In support thereof, she cites portions of the Journal of the House of
Representatives dated June 2 to 5, 2003 containing the sponsorship speech for House
Bill (H.B.) No. 4720, the precursor of R.A. No. 9225.

She claims that the private respondents are estopped from questioning her eligibility
since they failed to do so when she filed certificates of candidacy for the 2007 and 2010
elections.

Lastly, she disputes the power of the COMELEC en banc to: (a) take cognizance of the
substantive merits of her appeal instead of remanding the same to the COMELEC
Second Division for the continuation of the appeal proceedings; and (b) allow the
execution pending appeal of the RTC’s judgment.

The Issues

Posed for resolution are the following issues: I) Whether the COMELEC en banc may
resolve the merits of an appeal after ruling on its reinstatement; II) Whether the
COMELEC en banc may order the execution of a judgment rendered by a trial court in
an election case; III) Whether the private respondents are barred from questioning the
qualifications of the petitioner; and IV) For purposes of determining the petitioner’s
eligibility to run for public office, whether the "sworn renunciation of foreign
citizenship" in Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 is a mere pro-forma requirement.

The Court’s Ruling

I. An appeal may be simultaneously


reinstated and definitively resolved
by the COMELEC en banc in a
resolution disposing of a motion for
reconsideration.

The power to decide motions for reconsideration in election cases is arrogated unto the
COMELEC en banc by Section 3, Article IX-C of the Constitution, viz:

Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall
promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases,
including pre-proclamation controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and
decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be
decided by the Commission en banc.

A complementary provision is present in Section 5(c), Rule 3 of the COMELEC Rules of


Procedure, to wit:

Any motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division shall be


resolved by the Commission en banc except motions on interlocutory orders of the
division which shall be resolved by the division which issued the order.

Considering that the above cited provisos do not set any limits to the COMELEC en
banc’s prerogative in resolving a motion for reconsideration, there is nothing to prevent
the body from directly adjudicating the substantive merits of an appeal after ruling for
its reinstatement instead of remanding the same to the division that initially dismissed
it.

We thus see no impropriety much more grave abuse of discretion on the part of the
COMELEC en banc when it proceeded to decide the substantive merits of the
petitioner’s appeal after ruling for its reinstatement.

Further, records show that, in her motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC en
banc, the petitioner not only proffered arguments on the issue on docket fees but also on
the issue of her eligibility. She even filed a supplemental motion for reconsideration
attaching therewith supporting documents13 to her contention that she is no longer an
Australian citizen. The petitioner, after obtaining an unfavorable decision, cannot be
permitted to disavow the en banc’s exercise of discretion on the substantial merits of her
appeal when she herself invoked the same in the first place.
The fact that the COMELEC en banc had remanded similar appeals to the Division that
initially dismissed them cannot serve as a precedent to the disposition of the petitioner’s
appeal. A decision or resolution of any adjudicating body can be disposed in several
ways. To sustain petitioner’s argument would be virtually putting a straightjacket on the
COMELEC en banc’s adjudicatory powers.

More significantly, the remand of the appeal to the COMELEC Second Division would
be unnecessarily circuitous and repugnant to the rule on preferential disposition of quo
warranto cases espoused in Rule 36, Section 15 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.14

II. The COMELEC en banc has the


power to order discretionary
execution of judgment.

We cannot subscribe to petitioner’s submission that the COMELEC en banc has no


power to order the issuance of a writ of execution and that such function belongs only to
the court of origin.

There is no reason to dispute the COMELEC’s authority to order discretionary execution


of judgment in view of the fact that the suppletory application of the Rules of Court is
expressly sanctioned by Section 1, Rule 41 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.15

Under Section 2, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, execution pending appeal may be issued
by an appellate court after the trial court has lost jurisdiction. In Batul v. Bayron,16 we
stressed the import of the provision vis-à-vis election cases when we held that
judgments in election cases which may be executed pending appeal includes those
decided by trial courts and those rendered by the COMELEC whether in the exercise of
its original or appellate jurisdiction.

III. Private respondents are not


estopped from questioning
petitioner’s eligibility to hold public
office.

The fact that the petitioner’s qualifications were not questioned when she filed
certificates of candidacy for 2007 and 2010 elections cannot operate as an estoppel to
the petition for quo warranto before the RTC.

Under the Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 (Omnibus Election Code), there are two
instances where a petition questioning the qualifications of a registered candidate to run
for the office for which his certificate of candidacy was filed can be raised, to wit:

(1) Before election, pursuant to Section 78 thereof which provides that:

Sec. 78. Petition to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy. – A verified
petition seeking to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy may be filed by
any person exclusively on the ground that any material representation contained therein
as required under Section 74 hereof is false. The petition may be filed at any time not
later than twenty-five days from the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy and
shall be decided, after due notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before the
election; and

(2) After election, pursuant to Section 253 thereof, viz:

Sec. 253. Petition for quo warranto. – Any voter contesting the election of any Member
of the Batasang Pambansa, regional, provincial, or city officer on the ground of
ineligibility or of disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines shall file a sworn petition
for quo warranto with the Commission within ten days after the proclamation of the
results of the election. (Emphasis ours)

Hence, if a person qualified to file a petition to disqualify a certain candidate fails to file
the petition within the twenty-five (25)-day period prescribed by Section 78 of the
Omnibus Election Code for whatever reasons, the elections laws do not leave him
completely helpless as he has another chance to raise the disqualification of the
candidate by filing a petition for quo warranto within ten (10) days from the
proclamation of the results of the election, as provided under Section 253 of the
Omnibus Election Code.17

The above remedies were both available to the private respondents and their failure to
utilize Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code cannot serve to bar them should they
opt to file, as they did so file, a quo warranto petition under Section 253.

IV. Petitioner is disqualified from


running for elective office for
failure to renounce her Australian
citizenship in accordance with
Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225.

R.A. No. 9225 allows the retention and re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship for natural-
born citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship18 by taking an oath of allegiance
to the Republic, thus:

Section 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship. – Any provision of law to the contrary


notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine
citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby
deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of
allegiance to the Republic:

"I, _____________________, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will


support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and
obey the laws and legal orders promulgated by the duly constituted
authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby declare that I recognize and
accept the supreme authority of the Philippines and will maintain true
faith and allegiance thereto; and that I imposed this obligation upon
myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion."

Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act, become
citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the
aforesaid oath.

The oath is an abbreviated repatriation process that restores one’s Filipino citizenship
and all civil and political rights and obligations concomitant therewith, subject to
certain conditions imposed in Section 5, viz:

Sec. 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:

(1) Those intending to exercise their right of suffrage must meet the requirements under
Section 1, Article V of the Constitution, Republic Act No. 9189, otherwise known as "The
Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003" and other existing laws;

(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;

(3) Those appointed to any public office shall subscribe and swear to an oath of
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and its duly constituted authorities prior to
their assumption of office: Provided, That they renounce their oath of allegiance to the
country where they took that oath;

(4) Those intending to practice their profession in the Philippines shall apply with the
proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice; and

(5) That right to vote or be elected or appointed to any public office in the Philippines
cannot be exercised by, or extended to, those who:

(a) are candidates for or are occupying any public office in the country of which they are
naturalized citizens; and/or

(b) are in active service as commissioned or non-commissioned officers in the armed


forces of the country which they are naturalized citizens. (Emphasis ours)

Under the provisions of the aforementioned law, the petitioner has validly re-acquired
her Filipino citizenship when she took an Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines on December 5, 2005. At that point, she held dual citizenship, i.e.,
Australian and Philippine.
On September 18, 2006, or a year before she initially sought elective public office, she
filed a renunciation of Australian citizenship in Canberra, Australia. Admittedly,
however, the same was not under oath contrary to the exact mandate of Section 5(2)
that the renunciation of foreign citizenship must be sworn before an officer authorized
to administer oath.

To obviate the fatal consequence of her inutile renunciation, the petitioner pleads the
Court to interpret the "sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship" in Section
5(2) to be a mere pro forma requirement in conformity with the intent of the
Legislature. She anchors her submission on the statement made by Representative
Javier during the floor deliberations on H.B. No. 4720, the precursor of R.A. No. 9225.

At the outset, it bears stressing that the Court’s duty to interpret the law according to its
true intent is exercised only when the law is ambiguous or of doubtful meaning. The first
and fundamental duty of the Court is to apply the law. As such, when the law is clear and
free from any doubt, there is no occasion for construction or interpretation; there is only
room for application.19 Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 is one such instance.

Ambiguity is a condition of admitting two or more meanings, of being understood in


more than one way, or of referring to two or more things at the same time. For a statute
to be considered ambiguous, it must admit of two or more possible meanings.20

The language of Section 5(2) is free from any ambiguity. In Lopez v. COMELEC,21 we
declared its categorical and single meaning: a Filipino American or any dual citizen
cannot run for any elective public position in the Philippines unless he or she personally
swears to a renunciation of all foreign citizenship at the time of filing the certificate of
candidacy. We also expounded on the form of the renunciation and held that to be valid,
the renunciation must be contained in an affidavit duly executed before an officer of the
law who is authorized to administer an oath stating in clear and unequivocal terms that
affiant is renouncing all foreign citizenship.

The same meaning was emphasized in Jacot v. Dal,22 when we held that Filipinos re-
acquiring or retaining their Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 must explicitly
renounce their foreign citizenship if they wish to run for elective posts in the
Philippines, thus:

The law categorically requires persons seeking elective public office, who either retained
their Philippine citizenship or those who reacquired it, to make a personal and sworn
renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before a public officer authorized to
administer an oath simultaneous with or before the filing of the certificate of candidacy.

Hence, Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 compels natural-born Filipinos, who have
been naturalized as citizens of a foreign country, but who reacquired or retained their
Philippine citizenship (1) to take the oath of allegiance under Section 3 of Republic Act
No. 9225, and (2) for those seeking elective public offices in the Philippines, to
additionally execute a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign
citizenship before an authorized public officer prior or simultaneous to the filing of their
certificates of candidacy, to qualify as candidates in Philippine elections.

Clearly Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 (on the making of a personal and sworn
renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship) requires of the Filipinos availing
themselves of the benefits under the said Act to accomplish an undertaking other than
that which they have presumably complied with under Section 3 thereof (oath of
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines). This is made clear in the discussion of the
Bicameral Conference Committee on Disagreeing Provisions of House Bill No. 4720 and
Senate Bill No. 2130 held on 18 August 2003 (precursors of Republic Act No. 9225),
where the Hon. Chairman Franklin Drilon and Hon. Representative Arthur Defensor
explained to Hon. Representative Exequiel Javier that the oath of allegiance is different
from the renunciation of foreign citizenship;

xxxx

The intent of the legislators was not only for Filipinos reacquiring or retaining their
Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 to take their oath of allegiance to
the Republic of the Philippines, but also to explicitly renounce their foreign citizenship
if they wish to run for elective posts in the Philippines. To qualify as a candidate in
Philippine elections, Filipinos must only have one citizenship, namely, Philippine
citizenship.23 (Citation omitted and italics and underlining ours)

Hence, in De Guzman v. COMELEC,24 we declared petitioner therein to be disqualified


from running for the position of vice-mayor for his failure to make a personal and sworn
renunciation of his American citizenship.

We find no reason to depart from the mandatory nature infused by the above rulings to
the phrase "sworn renunciation". The language of the provision is plain and
unambiguous. It expresses a single, definite, and sensible meaning and must thus be
read literally.25 The foreign citizenship must be formally rejected through an affidavit
duly sworn before an officer authorized to administer oath.

It is conclusively presumed to be the meaning that the Legislature has intended to


convey.26 Even a resort to the Journal of the House of Representatives invoked by the
petitioner leads to the same inference, viz:

INTERPELLATION OF REP. JAVIER

Rep. Javier initially inquired whether under the Bill, dual citizenship is only limited to
natural-born Filipinos and not to naturalized Filipinos.

Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative.

Rep. Javier subsequently adverted to Section 5 of the Bill which provides that natural-
born Filipinos who have dual citizenship shall continue to enjoy full civil and political
rights. This being the case, he sought clarification as to whether they can indeed run for
public office provided that they renounce their foreign citizenship.

Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative, citing that these citizens will only have to make
a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship before any authorized public
officer.

Rep. Javier sought further clarification on this matter, citing that while the Bill provides
them with full civil and political rights as Filipino citizens, the measure also
discriminates against them since they are required to make a sworn renunciation of
their other foreign citizenship if and when they run for public office. He thereafter
proposed to delete this particular provision.

In his rejoinder, Rep. Libanan explained that this serves to erase all doubts
regarding any issues that might be raised pertaining to the citizenship of
any candidate. He subsequently cited the case of Afroyim vs. Rusk, wherein
the United States considered a naturalized American still as an American
citizen even when he cast his vote in Israel during one of its elections.

Rep. Javier however pointed out that the matter of voting is different because in voting,
one is not required to renounce his foreign citizenship. He pointed out that under the
Bill, Filipinos who run for public office must renounce their foreign citizenship. He
pointed out further that this is a contradiction in the Bill.

Thereafter, Rep. Javier inquired whether Filipino citizens who had acquired foreign
citizenship and are now entitled to reacquire their Filipino citizenship will be considered
as natural-born citizens. As such, he likewise inquired whether they will also be
considered qualified to run for the highest elective positions in the country.

Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative, citing that the only requirement is that they
make a sworn renunciation of their foreign citizenship and that they comply with the
residency and registration requirements as provided for in the Constitution.

Whereupon, Rep. Javier noted that under the Constitution, natural-born citizens are
those who are citizens at the time of birth without having to perform an act to complete
or perfect his/her citizenship.

Rep. Libanan agreed therewith, citing that this is the reason why the Bill seeks the
repeal of CA No. 63. The repeal, he said, would help Filipino citizens who acquired
foreign citizenship to retain their citizenship. With regard then to Section 5 of the Bill,
he explained that the Committee had decided to include this provision because Section
18, Article XI of the Constitution provides for the accountability of public officers.

In his rejoinder, Rep. Javier maintained that in this case, the sworn renunciation of a
foreign citizenship will only become a pro forma requirement.
On further queries of Rep. Javier, Rep. Libanan affirmed that natural-born Filipino
citizens who became foreign citizens and who have reacquired their Filipino citizenship
under the Bill will be considered as natural-born citizens, and therefore qualified to run
for the presidency, the vice-presidency or for a seat in Congress. He also agreed with the
observation of Rep. Javier that a natural-born citizen is one who is a citizen of the
country at the time of birth. He also explained that the Bill will, in effect, return to a
Filipino citizen who has acquired foreign citizenship, the status of being a natural-born
citizen effective at the time he lost his Filipino citizenship.

As a rejoinder, Rep. Javier opined that doing so would be discriminating against


naturalized Filipino citizens and Filipino citizens by election who are all disqualified to
run for certain public offices. He then suggested that the Bill be amended by not
considering as natural-born citizens those Filipinos who had renounced their Filipino
citizenship and acquired foreign citizenship. He said that they should be considered as
repatriated citizens.

In reply, Rep. Libanan assured Rep. Javier that the Committee will take note of the
latter’s comments on the matter. He however stressed that after a lengthy deliberation
on the subject, the Committees on Justice, and Foreign Affairs had decided to revert
back to the status of being natural-born citizens those natural-born Filipino citizens who
had acquired foreign citizenship but now wished to reacquire their Filipino citizenship.

Rep. Javier then explained that a Filipina who loses her Filipino citizenship by virtue of
her marriage to a foreigner can regain her repatriated Filipino citizenship, upon the
death of her husband, by simply taking her oath before the Department of Justice
(DOJ).

Rep. Javier said that he does not oppose the Bill but only wants to be fair to other
Filipino citizens who are not considered natural-born. He reiterated that natural-born
Filipino citizens who had renounced their citizenship by pledging allegiance to another
sovereignty should not be allowed to revert back to their status of being natural-born
citizens once they decide to regain their Filipino citizenship. He underscored that this
will in a way allow such Filipinos to enjoy dual citizenship.

On whether the Sponsors will agree to an amendment incorporating the position of Rep.
Javier, Rep. Libanan stated that this will defeat the purpose of the Bill.

Rep. Javier disagreed therewith, adding that natural-born Filipino citizens who acquired
foreign citizenships and later decided to regain their Filipino citizenship, will be
considered as repatriated citizens.

Rep. Libanan cited the case of Bengzon vs. HRET wherein the Supreme Court had ruled
that only naturalized Filipino citizens are not considered as natural-born citizens.

In reaction, Rep. Javier clarified that only citizens by election or those whose mothers
are Filipino citizens under the 1935 Constitution and who elected Filipino citizenship
upon reaching the age of maturity, are not deemed as natural-born citizens.
In response, Rep. Libanan maintained that in the Bengzon case, repatriation results in
the recovery of one’s original nationality and only naturalized citizens are not
considered as natural-born citizens.

On whether the Sponsors would agree to not giving back the status of being natural-
born citizens to natural-born Filipino citizens who acquired foreign citizenship, Rep.
Libanan remarked that the Body in plenary session will decide on the matter.27

The petitioner obviously espouses an isolated reading of Representative Javier’s


statement; she conveniently disregards the preceding and succeeding discussions in the
records.

The above-quoted excerpts of the legislative record show that Representative Javier’s
statement ought to be understood within the context of the issue then being discussed,
that is – whether former natural-born citizens who re-acquire their Filipino citizenship
under the proposed law will revert to their original status as natural-born citizens and
thus be qualified to run for government positions reserved only to natural-born
Filipinos, i.e. President, Vice-President and Members of the Congress.

It was Representative Javier’s position that they should be considered as repatriated


Filipinos and not as natural-born citizens since they will have to execute a personal and
sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship. Natural-born citizens are those who need not
perform an act to perfect their citizenship. Representative Libanan, however,
maintained that they will revert to their original status as natural-born citizens. To
reconcile the renunciation imposed by Section 5(2) with the principle that natural-born
citizens are those who need not perform any act to perfect their citizenship,
Representative Javier suggested that the sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship be
considered as a mere pro forma requirement.

Petitioner’s argument, therefore, loses its point. The "sworn renunciation of foreign
citizenship" must be deemed a formal requirement only with respect to the re-
acquisition of one’s status as a natural-born Filipino so as to override the effect of the
principle that natural-born citizens need not perform any act to perfect their citizenship.
Never was it mentioned or even alluded to that, as the petitioner wants this Court to
believe, those who re-acquire their Filipino citizenship and thereafter run for public
office has the option of executing an unsworn affidavit of renunciation.

It is also palpable in the above records that Section 5 was intended to complement
Section 18, Article XI of the Constitution on public officers’ primary accountability of
allegiance and loyalty, which provides:

Sec. 18. – Public officers and employees owe the State and this Constitution allegiance at
all times and any public officer or employee who seeks to change his citizenship or
acquire the status of an immigrant of another country during his tenure shall be dealt
with by law.
An oath is a solemn declaration, accompanied by a swearing to God or a revered person
or thing, that one’s statement is true or that one will be bound to a promise. The person
making the oath implicitly invites punishment if the statement is untrue or the promise
is broken. The legal effect of an oath is to subject the person to penalties for perjury if
the testimony is false.28

Indeed, the solemn promise, and the risk of punishment attached to an oath ensures
truthfulness to the prospective public officer’s abandonment of his adopted state and
promise of absolute allegiance and loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines.

To hold the oath to be a mere pro forma requirement is to say that it is only for
ceremonial purposes; it would also accommodate a mere qualified or temporary
allegiance from government officers when the Constitution and the legislature clearly
demand otherwise.

Petitioner contends that the Australian Citizenship Act of 1948, under which she is
already deemed to have lost her citizenship, is entitled to judicial notice. We disagree.

Foreign laws are not a matter of judicial notice. Like any other fact, they must be alleged
and proven.29 To prove a foreign law, the party invoking it must present a copy thereof
and comply with Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court which
reads:

Sec. 24. Proof of official record. – The record of public documents referred to in
paragraph (a) of Section 19, when admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced by an
official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody of
the record, or by his deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in the
Philippines, with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If the office in which the
record is kept is in a foreign country, the certificate may be made by a secretary of the
embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice- consul, or consular agent or by any
officer in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed in the foreign country in which
the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his office. (Emphasis ours)

Sec. 25. What attestation of copy must state. – Whenever a copy of a document or
record is attested for the purpose of the evidence, the attestation must state, in
substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, as the
case may be. The attestation must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if
there be any, or if he be the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court.

The Court has admitted certain exceptions to the above rules and held that the existence
of a foreign law may also be established through: (1) a testimony under oath of an expert
witness such as an attorney-at-law in the country where the foreign law operates
wherein he quotes verbatim a section of the law and states that the same was in force at
the time material to the facts at hand; and (2) likewise, in several naturalization cases, it
was held by the Court that evidence of the law of a foreign country on reciprocity
regarding the acquisition of citizenship, although not meeting the prescribed rule of
practice, may be allowed and used as basis for favorable action, if, in the light of all the
circumstances, the Court is "satisfied of the authenticity of the written proof offered."
Thus, in a number of decisions, mere authentication of the Chinese Naturalization Law
by the Chinese Consulate General of Manila was held to be a competent proof of that
law.30

The petitioner failed to prove the Australian Citizenship Act of 1948 through any of the
above methods. As uniformly observed by the RTC and COMELEC, the petitioner failed
to show proof of the existence of the law during trial. Also, the letter issued by the
Australian government showing that petitioner already renounced her Australian
citizenship was unauthenticated hence, the courts a quo acted judiciously in
disregarding the same.

We are bound to arrive at a similar conclusion even if we were to admit as competent


evidence the said letter in view of the photocopy of a Certificate of Authentication issued
by Consular Section of the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia attached to the
petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.

We have stressed in Advocates and Adherents of Social Justice for School Teachers and
Allied Workers (AASJS) Member v. Datumanong31 that the framers of R.A. No. 9225 did
not intend the law to concern itself with the actual status of the other citizenship.

This Court as the government branch tasked to apply the enactments of the legislature
must do so conformably with the wisdom of the latter sans the interference of any
foreign law. If we were to read the Australian Citizen Act of 1948 into the application
and operation of R.A. No. 9225, we would be applying not what our legislative
department has deemed wise to require. To do so would be a brazen encroachment upon
the sovereign will and power of the people of this Republic.32

The petitioner’s act of running for public office does not suffice to serve as an effective
renunciation of her Australian citizenship. While this Court has previously declared that
the filing by a person with dual citizenship of a certificate of candidacy is already
considered a renunciation of foreign citizenship,33 such ruling was already adjudged
superseded by the enactment of R.A. No. 9225 on August 29, 2003 which provides for
the additional condition of a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship.34

The fact that petitioner won the elections can not cure the defect of her 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.35

In fine, R.A. No. 9225 categorically demands natural-born Filipinos who re-acquire their
citizenship and seek elective office, to execute a personal and sworn renunciation of any
and all foreign citizenships before an authorized public officer prior to or simultaneous
to the filing of their certificates of candidacy, to qualify as candidates in Philippine
elections.36 The rule applies to all those who have re-acquired their Filipino citizenship,
like petitioner, without regard as to whether they are still dual citizens or not. It is a pre-
requisite imposed for the exercise of the right to run for public office.
Stated differently, it is an additional qualification for elective office specific only to
Filipino citizens who re-acquire their citizenship under Section 3 of R.A. No. 9225. It is
the operative act that restores their right to run for public office. The petitioner's failure
to comply therewith in accordance with the exact tenor of the law, rendered ineffectual
the Declaration of Renunciation of Australian Citizenship she executed on September
18, 2006. As such, she is yet to regain her political right to seek elective office. Unless
she executes a sworn renunciation of her Australian citizenship, she is ineligible to run
for and hold any elective office in the Philippines.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. The
Resolution dated September 6, 2011 of the Commission on Elections en bane in EAC
(AE) No. A-44-2010 is AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.