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KILOSBAYAN FOUNDATION AND BANTAY KATARUNGAN

FOUNDATION V. EXEC SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA


AND SB JUSTICE GREGORY ONG, G.R. NO 177721
(2007)
EN BANC: CJ Puno, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, SandovalGutierrez (on leave), Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona,
Tinga, Carpio-Morales, Garcia, Chico-Nazario, Nachura,
Velasco
PONENTE: J. Azcuna
NATURE: Petition for certiorari under Rule 65 ROC
FACTS: On May 16, 2007, respondent Executive Secretary
Ermita announced an appointment in favor of respondent
Gregory Ong as Associate Justice of SC to fill up the vacancy
created by the retirement of AJ Romeo Callejo Sr. on April
28, 2007.
1. On May 18, 2007, the major publications reported
that the appointment was held in abeyance by
Malacanang in view of the question relating to the
citizenship of Gregory Ong. There was no indication,
however, that the appointment has been cancelled
by the President
2. Petitioner filed the instant case to contend that the
appointment of Ong through respondent Ermita was
patently unconstitutional, arbitrary, whimsical and
issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction
3. Petitioners claim that Ong is a Chinese citizen based
on his birth certificate showing that at the time of his
birth on May 25, 1953, his father was Chinese and his
mother was also Chinese
4. Petitioners invoke Sec 7(1), Art VIII 1987 Constitution
which provides that no personal shall be appointed
member of the Supreme Court or any lower
collegiate court unless he is a natural-born citizen of
the Philippines. Even assuming that Ongs father was
finally granted Filipino citizenship by naturalization,
such would not make respondent Ong a natural-born
Filipino citizen.

5. Petitioners, moreover, assert that said birth


certificate prevails over Ongs new Identification
certificate issued by the Bureau of Immigration dated
Oct 16, 1996, stating that he is a natural-born Filipino
and over the opinion of DOJ Sec Teofisto Guingona
since the latter do not have power or authority to
alter entries in a birth certificate and that Ongs
remedy is an action to correct his citizenship as it
appears in his birth certificate
6. On the other hand respondent Ermita contended that
the President appointed Ong from among the list of
nominees who were duly screened by and bore the
imprimatur of the JBC under Sec 8, Art VIII 1987
Constitution.
7. Respondent Ong maintained that he is a natural-born
Filipino citizen; that petitioners have no standing to
file the suit; and at the issue raised ought to be
addressed to the JBC as the Constitutional body
mandated to review the qualifications of those it
recommends to judicial posts.
ISSUE: WON petitioners have legal standing to file the
instant case
RULING: Yes.
RATIO: Petitioners have standing to file the suit simply as
peoples organizations and taxpayers since the matter
involves an issue of utmost and far-reaching constitutional
importance, namely the qualificationthe citizenship of a
person to be appointed a member of this Court. Standing
has been accorded and recognized in similar instances.
ISSUE: WON the President is a necessary party to be
impleaded
RULING: No.
RATIO: Since the suit impleads the Executive Secretary who
is the alter ego of the President, there is no need to implead
the president as a necessary part. Furthermore, the suit

does not seek to stop the President from extending the


appointment but only the Executive Secretary from
releasing it and respondent Ong from accepting the same.
ISSUE: WON respondent Ong is a natural-born Filipino
citizen

are substantial in character 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.

HELD: Yes. The SC took judicial notice of the records of


respondents petition to be admitted to the Philippine bar. In
his petition, Ong alleged that he is qualified to be admitted
to the Philippine bar because he is a Filipino citizen because
his father, a Chinese citizen, was naturalized in 1964 when
Ong was a minor, and thus, he too became a Filipino citizen.

Sec 2(3) RA 9048 provides that a summary administrative


proceeding to correct clerical or typographical errors in a
birth certificate cannot apply to a change in nationality.
Substantial corrections to the nationality or citizenship of
persons recorded should, therefore, be effected through a
petition filed in court under Rule 108 ROC.

It is clear, therefore, that from the records of the Court, Ong


is a naturalized Filipino citizen. The alleged subsequent
recognition of his natural-born status by the Bureau of
Immigration and DOJ cannot amend the final decision of the
trial court stating that Ong and his mother were naturalized
along with his father.

DISPOSITIVE: Petition granted as one of injunction against


Ong who is hereby enjoined from accepting an appointment
to the position of Associate Justice SC or assuming the
position and discharging the functions of that office, until he
shall have successfully completed all necessary steps
through appropriate adversarial proceedings in court, to
show that he is a natural-born Filipino citizen and correct the
records of his birth and citizenship

Moreover, no substantial change or correction in an entry in


a civil register can be made without a judicial order, and,
under the law, a change in citizenship status is a substantial
change. In Labayo-Rowe v. Republic, the SC held that
changes which affect the civil status or citizenship of a party

Final and immediately executory