Labo, Jr. vs. COMELEC
(Aug. 1, 1989)Ponente: Cruz, J.FACTS:
Ramon Labo, Jr. married an Australian citizen in the Philippines. He was granted Australiancitizenship in 1976. In 1980, the marriage was declared void for being bigamous.
Labo returned to the Philippines in 1980, using an Australian passport, and obtained an AlienCertificate of Registration (ACR). He later applied for a change in status from immigrant toreturning Filipino citizen. However, the Commission on Immigration and Deportation denied hisapplication for the cancellation of his ACR since he has not applied for reacquisition of hisFilipino citizenship.
According to the records of the Australian Embassy (as certified by the Australian Consul),Labo was still an Australian citizen as of April 12, 1984. Although no direct evidence waspresented to prove that he took an oath of allegiance as a naturalized Australian citizen, thelaws of Australia at the time required any person over the age of 16 years who is grantedAustralian citizenship to take an oath of allegiance. The wording/text of this oath includes arenunciation of all other allegiance.
Labo ran and won as Mayor of Baguio City in the local elections held on January 18, 1988. Thesecond-placer, Luis Lardizabal, filed a petition for
, alleging that Labo isdisqualified from holding public office on the grounds of alienage, and asking that the latter'sproclamation as Mayor be annulled.ISSUES:*The original issue raised before the Supreme Court concerned only the COMELEC's jurisdiction over Lardizabal's petition. Labo contended that the petition for
was not filed on time, hencethe COMELEC lacks the jurisdiction to conduct an inquiry regarding his citizenship. However, the SCdecided to rule on the merits of the case, given that the issue is also of considerable importance (aforeign citizen holding public office in the Philippines), and in the interest of the speedy administrationof justice.1. Does the COMELEC have the jurisdiction to inquire into Labo's citizenship?2. Is Ramon Labo, Jr. a Filipino citizen?3. Is he qualified to hold public office in the Philippines?4. If Labo is not eligible to serve as Mayor, can Lardizabal, as the runner-up in the elections, replacehim?HELD/RATIO:1. Yes. Contrary to Labo's claim, the petition for
was filed on time. Lardizabal did notimmediately pay the filing fee because the COMELEC had at first considered the petition as a pre-proclamation proceeding, which does not require the payment of such a fee. When the COMELECreclassified the petition, Lardizabal immediately paid the filing fee -- thus, he still complied with theprescribed 10-day period. Furthermore, the Court held that such technicalities should not hinder judicial decisions on significant issues, such as the one being decided in this case.2. Labo is not a Filipino citizen. He had lost his Philippine citizenship by all 3 modes specified in theConstitution: (1) naturalization in a foreign country, (2) express renunciation of citizenship, and (3)subscribing to an oath of allegiance to support the Constitution or laws of a foreign country. He has notreacquired Philippine citizenship by any of the 3 methods prescribed in the Constitution: (1) direct actof Congress, (2) naturalization, and (3) repatriation.- Contrary to Labo's claim, his naturalization in Australia did not confer him with dual citizenship. TheConstitution explicitly states that dual citizenship is inimical to national interest.- The contention that his marriage to an Australian national did not automatically divest him of Filipino