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 charácter
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-
go·ernmental organizations engaged in public and ci·ic causes aimed at protecting the people`s rights to
selí-go·ernance and justice. Respondent Lxecuti·e Secretary Lduardo Lrmita is the head oí the Oííice
oí the President and is in charge oí releasing presidential appointments including those oí Supreme
Court Justices. Respondent Gregory Ong is allegedly the party whose appointment would íill up the
·acancy in this court.
Petitioners allege that Lrmita, in representation oí the Oííice oí the President, announced an
appointment in ía·or oí Ong as Associate Justice oí the Supreme Court to íill up the ·acancy created by
the retirement oí Associate Justice Romeo Callejo, Sr. 1hey contend that such appointment is patently
unconstitutional, arbitrary, whimsical and issued with gra·e abuse oí discretion amounting to lack oí
jurisdiction. 1hey claim that Ong is a Chinese citizen, that this íact is plain and incontestable, and that his
own birth certiíicate indicates Chinese citizenship. 1he birth certiíicate, petitioners add, re·eals that at
the time oí Ong`s birth on May 25, 1953, his íather was Chinese and his mother was also Chinese.
Petitioners in·oke the Constitution which requires members oí the Supreme Court to be natural-born
citizens, or those citizens oí the Philippines írom birth without ha·ing to períorm any act to acquire or
períect their Philippine Citizenship. 1hey maintain that e·en ií it were granted that ele·en years aíter
Ong`s birth, his íather was íinally granted lilipino citizenship by naturalization, that, by itselí, would not
make Ong a natural-born lilipino citizen. 1hey íurther assert that this birth certiíicate pre·ails o·er
Ong`s new Identiíication Certiíicate issued by the Bureau oí Immigration stating that he is a natural-born
Petitioners thereupon pray íor the annulment oí the appointment oí Ong as Associate Justice oí
this Court. 1hey íiled a motion íor the issuance oí a 1emporary Restraining Order to pre·ent and
restrain Lrmita írom releasing the appointment oí Ong, and to pre·ent and restraining respondent Ong
írom assuming the oííice and discharging the íunctions oí Associate Justice oí this Court.
\hether or not respondent Gregory Ong is a natural-born lilipino citizen
1he Petition is GRAN1LD.
It is clear írom the records oí this case that respondent Ong is a naturalized lilipino citizen. 1he
alleged subsequent recognition oí his natural-born status by the Bureau oí Immigration and the DOJ
cannot amend the íinal decision oí the trial court stating that Ong and his mother were naturalized with
his íather. lurthermore, no substantial change or correction in an entry in a ci·il 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 oí persons recorded in the ci·il registry should,
thereíore, be eííected through a petition íiled in court Rule 108 oí the Rules oí Court.
1he series oí e·ents and long string oí alleged changes in the nationalities oí Ong`s ancestors, by
·arious births, marriages and deaths, all entail íactual 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 oí
e·idence would ha·e to show that Dy Guiok Santos, Ong`s mother, was a lilipino citizen, contrary to
what still appears in the records oí this Court. Ong has the burden oí pro·ing in court his alleged
ancestral tree as well as his citizenship under the time-line oí three Constitutions. Until this is done, Ong
cannot accept an appointment to this Court as that would be a ·iolation oí the Constitution. lor this
reason, he can be pre·ented by injunction írom doing so.

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