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G.R. Nos. J7772J, 3 July 2007, Azcuna, J. (Ln Banc)

Changes which affect the civil status or citizenship of a party are substantial in charcter
and should be threshed out in a proper action depending upon the nature of the issues in
controversy, and wherein all the parties who may be affected by the entries are notified or
represented and evidence is submitted to prove the allegations of the complaint, and proof to the
contrary admitted.
Petitioners Kilosbayan loundation and Bantay Katarungan loundation are people`s and,or non-
goernmental organizations engaged in public and ciic causes aimed at protecting the people`s rights to
sel-goernance and justice. Respondent Lxecutie Secretary Lduardo Lrmita is the head o the Oice
o the President and is in charge o releasing presidential appointments including those o Supreme
Court Justices. Respondent Gregory Ong is allegedly the party whose appointment would ill up the
acancy in this court.
Petitioners allege that Lrmita, in representation o the Oice o the President, announced an
appointment in aor o Ong as Associate Justice o the Supreme Court to ill up the acancy created by
the retirement o Associate Justice Romeo Callejo, Sr. 1hey contend that such appointment is patently
unconstitutional, arbitrary, whimsical and issued with grae abuse o discretion amounting to lack o
jurisdiction. 1hey claim that Ong is a Chinese citizen, that this act is plain and incontestable, and that his
own birth certiicate indicates Chinese citizenship. 1he birth certiicate, petitioners add, reeals that at
the time o Ong`s birth on May 25, 1953, his ather was Chinese and his mother was also Chinese.
Petitioners inoke the Constitution which requires members o the Supreme Court to be natural-born
citizens, or those citizens o the Philippines rom birth without haing to perorm any act to acquire or
perect their Philippine Citizenship. 1hey maintain that een i it were granted that eleen years ater
Ong`s birth, his ather was inally granted lilipino citizenship by naturalization, that, by itsel, would not
make Ong a natural-born lilipino citizen. 1hey urther assert that this birth certiicate preails oer
Ong`s new Identiication Certiicate issued by the Bureau o Immigration stating that he is a natural-born
Petitioners thereupon pray or the annulment o the appointment o Ong as Associate Justice o
this Court. 1hey iled a motion or the issuance o a 1emporary Restraining Order to preent and
restrain Lrmita rom releasing the appointment o Ong, and to preent and restraining respondent Ong
rom assuming the oice and discharging the unctions o Associate Justice o this Court.
\hether or not respondent Gregory Ong is a natural-born lilipino citizen
1he Petition is GRAN1LD.
It is clear rom the records o this case that respondent Ong is a naturalized lilipino citizen. 1he
alleged subsequent recognition o his natural-born status by the Bureau o Immigration and the DOJ
cannot amend the inal decision o the trial court stating that Ong and his mother were naturalized with
his ather. lurthermore, no substantial change or correction in an entry in a ciil register can be made
without a judicial order, and under the law, a change in citizenship status is a substantial change.
Substantial corrections to the nationality or citizenship o persons recorded in the ciil registry should,
thereore, be eected through a petition iled in court Rule 108 o the Rules o Court.
1he series o eents and long string o alleged changes in the nationalities o Ong`s ancestors, by
arious births, marriages and deaths, all entail actual assertions that need to be threshed out in proper
judicial proceedings so as to correct the existing records on his birth and citizenship. 1he chain o
eidence would hae to show that Dy Guiok Santos, Ong`s mother, was a lilipino citizen, contrary to
what still appears in the records o this Court. Ong has the burden o proing in court his alleged
ancestral tree as well as his citizenship under the time-line o three Constitutions. Until this is done, Ong
cannot accept an appointment to this Court as that would be a iolation o the Constitution. lor this
reason, he can be preented by injunction rom doing so.