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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-24761

September 7, 1965

LEON G. MAQUERA, petitioner,


vs.
JUAN BORRA, CESAR MIRAFLOR, and GREGORIO SANTAYANA, in their respective capacities as Chairman and Members of the
Commission on Elections, and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondents.
--------------------------G.R. No. L-24828

September 7, 1965

FELIPE N. AUREA and MELECIO MALABANAN, petitioners,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.
Leon G. Maquera in his own behalf as petitioner.
Ramon Barrios for respondents.
RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:
Upon consideration of case G.R. No. L-24761, "Leon G. Maquera vs. Juan Borra, et al.," and case G.R. No. L-24828, "Felipe N. Aurea and
Melecio Malabanan vs. Commission on Elections," and it appearing:
1. That Republic Act No. 4421 requires "all candidates for national, provincial, city and municipal offices" to post a surety bond equivalent to the
one-year salary or emoluments of the position to which he is a candidate, which bond shall be forfeited in favor of the national, provincial, city or
municipal government concerned if the candidate, except when declared winner, fails to obtain at least 10% of the votes cast for the office to
which he has filed his certificate of candidacy, there being not more than four (4) candidates for the same office;"
2. That, in compliance with said Republic Act No. 4421, the Commission on Elections had, on July 20, 1965, decided to require all candidates for
President, Vice-President, Senator and Member of the House of Representatives to file a surety bond, by a bonding company of good reputation,
acceptable to the Commission, in the sums of P60,000.00 and P40,000.00, for President and Vice-President, respectively, and P32,000.00 for
Senator and Member of the House of Representatives;
3. That, in consequence of said Republic Act No. 4421 and the aforementioned action of the Commission on Elections, every candidate has to pay
the premium charged by bonding companies, and, to offer thereto, either his own properties, worth, at least, the amount of the surety bond, or
properties of the same worth, belonging to other persons willing to accommodate him, by way of counter-bond in favor of said bonding
companies;
4. That the effect of said Republic Act No. 4421 is, therefore, to prevent or disqualify from running for President, Vice-President, Senator or
Member of the House of Representatives those persons who, although having the qualifications prescribed by the Constitution therefore, cannot
file the surety bond aforementioned, owing to failure to pay the premium charged by the bonding company and/or lack of the property necessary
for said counter-bond;
5. That said Republic Act No. 4421 has, likewise, the effect of disqualifying for provincial, city or municipal elective offices, persons who,
although possessing the qualifications prescribed by law therefor, cannot pay said premium and/or do not have the property essential for the
aforementioned counter-bond;
6. That said Republic Act No. 4421 has, accordingly, the effect of imposing property qualifications in order that a person could run for a public
office and that the people could validly vote for him;
7. That said property qualifications are inconsistent with the nature and essence of the Republican system ordained in our Constitution and the
principle of social justice underlying the same, for said political system is premised upon the tenet that sovereignty resides in the people and all
government authority emanates from them, and this, in turn, implies necessarily that the right to vote and to be voted for shall not be dependent
upon the wealth of the individual concerned, whereas social justice presupposes equal opportunity for all, rich and poor alike, and that,
accordingly, no person shall, by reason of poverty, be denied the chance to be elected to public office; and

8. That the bond required in Republic Act No. 4421 and the confiscation of said bond are not predicated upon the necessity of defraying certain
expenses or of compensating services given in connection with elections, and is, therefore, arbitrary and oppressive.
The Court RESOLVED, without prejudice to rendering an extended decision, to declare that said Republic Act No. 4421 is unconstitutional and
hence null and void, and, hence, to enjoin respondents herein, as well as their representatives and agents, from enforcing and/or implementing
said constitutional enactment.
Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon., Makalintal and Zaldivar, JJ., concur.
Bengzon, C.J., took no part.
Barrera, J., is on leave.

Separate Opinions

BENGZON, J.P., J., concurring:.


A democratic form of government requires that political rights be enjoyed by the citizens regardless of social or economic distinctions. Such is
our government. As far back as 1899, the Representatives of the Filipino people adopted a Political Constitution at Malolos, Bulacan, providing
that: "The political association of all the Filipinos constitutes a nation, whose state is called the Philippine Republic"; "The Philippine Republic is
free and independent"; and "Sovereignty resides exclusively in the people." (Arts. 1, 2 and 3.) A generation later, in 1935, the Filipino people,
imploring the aid of Divine Providence, ordained and promulgated the present Constitution of the Philippines, stating the same principle: "The
Philippines is a republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them." (See. 1, Art. II). Clearly
and solemnly, therefore, our citizenry have thus been given the supreme guaranty of a democratic way of life, with all its freedom and limitations,
all its rights and duties.
Among the political rights of a Filipino citizen is the right to vote and be voted for a public office. The Constitution has given the right of suffrage
to "citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law who are twenty-one years of age or over and are able to read and write, and who
shall have resided in the Philippines for one year and in the municipality wherein they propose to vote for at least six months preceding the
election." (Sec. 1, Art. V.)
It is within the power of Congress, however, to prescribe the manner of exercising political rights so long as it does not run counter to the
Constitution. The Revised Election Code (RA 180) is the chief instance of the exercise of such legislative power.
Republic Act 4421, effective June 19, 1965, incorporated to the Revised Election Code:
SEC. 36-A. Posting of bond by candidates; exception; forfeiture. All candidates for national, provincial, city and municipal offices shall post a
surety bond equivalent to the one-year salary or emoluments of the position to which he is a candidate, which bond shall be forfeited in favor of
the national, provincial, city or municipal government concerned if the candidate, except when declared winner, fails to obtain at least ten per
cent of the votes cast for the office to which he has filed his certificate of candidacy there being not more than four candidates for the same office.
The Commission on Elections, implementing Sec. 36-A aforementioned, adopted on July 20, 1965 the following guidelines for the purpose of the
November 9, 1965 elections:
1. WHO SHALL POST SURETY BOND All candidates for national offices shall post a surety bond. A candidate who withdraws his
candidacy or ceases to be one, may ask for the return or cancellation of his bond. A party may post surety bond for each of its official candidates.
2. WHEN TO FILE On or before September 10, 1965, to coincide with the last day for filing certificates of candidacy, to facilitate processing
of both bond and certificates of candidacy by the Law Department.
3. WHERE TO FILE The surety bond shall be filed with the Cash Division, Commission on Elections. Cash bonds may be allowed and the
same to be filed in the Commission.
4. AMOUNT OF BOND The surety bond shall be equivalent to the one-year salary or emoluments of the position to which he is a candidate,
to wit:
President P60,000 (R.A. 4134)
Vice-President
P40,000 do
Senators P32,000 do
Congressmen
P32,000 do
5. CONDITION OF THE BOND That the bond shall be forfeited in favor of the national government if the candidate, except when declared
the winner, fails to obtain at least ten percent of the votes cast for the office to which he has filed his certificate of candidacy, there being not more
than four candidates for the same office.

6. FAILURE TO POST SURETY BOND If a candidate fails to post the required surety bond, the Commission on Elections shall refuse to give
due course to the certificate of candidacy of said candidate.
7. SURETY A bonding company of good reputation and acceptable to the Commission.
8. FORFEITURE The 10% required number of votes shall be based on and determined by the certificate of canvass and proclamation.
At bar are petitions that question the constitutionality of Republic Act 4421 in the ground that the same is undemocratic and contrary to the letter
and spirit of the Constitution.
The avowed purpose of Republic Act 4421 in requiring a candidate to post a bond equal to a year's salary of the office for which he will run is to
curb the practice of so-called nuisance candidates. Said the explanatory note to said law:
We have had sad experiences along that line. When a person, having the same name as that of a strong candidate, files his candidacy for the same
position sought by the latter, this act has the ultimate effect of frustrating the true intent of the voters. While their intent was to vote for the
publicly known strong candidate, their votes could be credited to the nuisance candidate. If this practice is not curbed, the Filipino people may
find the wrong men elected to an office.
1awphl.nt
Such an objective is indeed within the competence of the legislature to provide for. Nonetheless, the purpose alone does not resolve the
constitutionality of a statute. It must also be asked whether the effect of said law is or is not to transgress the fundamental law.
Does the law, it may then be asked, operate to bar bona fide candidates from running for office because of their financial inability to meet the
bond required? For this the test must be the amount at which the bond is fixed. Where it is fixed at an amount that will impose no hardship on any
person for whom there should be any desire to vote as a nominee for an office, and yet enough to prevent the filing of certificates of candidates by
anyone, regardless of whether or not he is a desirable candidate, it is a reasonable means to regulate elections. On the otherhand, if it puts a real
barrier that would stop many suitable men and women from presenting themselves as prospective candidates, it becomes unjustifiable, for it
would defeat its very objective of securing the right of honest candidates to run for public office.
Foremost democracies have similar measure to discourage "freak and propaganda candidates. One was adopted in the electoral system of
England. A candidate for the House of Commons, where each member receives 3,250 pounds annual compensation (formerly 1,000 pounds) is
required, by the Representatives of the People Act of 1918, to deposit 150 pounds with the returning officer at the time of nomination, the money
to be forfeited if he failed to secure 1/8 of the votes. *
In the United States of America a fee system obtains in some states whereby candidates are required to pay filing fees frequently to help defray
costs of election services ranging from one dollar upwards or a certain percentage of the annual salary of the office sought, the percentage
being from 1/4% to 5%.**
It should be noted that in the foregoing the deposits or fees are based on or constitute a certain percentage of the yearly salary. The amount of the
bond required by RA 4421 is, as noted, equal to the one-year salary or emolument of the office. It is quite evident, therefore, that several or a
considerable number of deserving, honest and sincere prospective candidates for that office would be prevented from running in the election
solely due to their being less endowed with the material things in life. It is worth remembering that Section 48 of the Revised Election Code
provides: "No candidate shall spend for his election campaign more than the total amount of the emoluments for one year attached to the office
for which he is a candidate." Thus, the amount of a one-year salary is considered by the law itself to be substantial enough to finance the entire
election campaign of the candidate. For Congress, therefore, to require such amount to be posted in the form of surety bond, with the danger of
forfeiting the same in the event of failure to obtain the required percentage of votes, unless there are more than four candidates, places a financial
burden on honest candidates that will in effect disqualify some of them who would otherwise have been qualified and bona fide candidates.
The Constitution, in providing for the qualification of Congressmen, sets forth only age, citizenship, voting and residence qualifications. No
property qualification of any kind is thereunder required. Since the effect of Republic Act 4421 is to require of candidates for Congress a
substantial property qualification, and to disqualify those who do not meet the same, it goes against the provision of the Constitution which, in
line with its democratic character, requires no property qualification for the right to hold said public office.
Freedom of the voters to exercise the elective franchise at a general election implies the right to freely choose from all qualified candidates for
public office. The imposition of unwarranted restrictions and hindrances precluding qualified candidates from running is, therefore, violative of
the constitutional guaranty of freedom in the exercise of elective franchise. It seriously interferes with the right of the electorate to choose freely
from among those eligible to office whomever they may desire. ***
Republic Act 4421, moreover, relates a person's right to run for office to the degree of success he will show at the polls. A candidate, however, has
no less a right to run when he faces prospects of defeat as when he is expected to win. Consequently, for the law to impose on said candidate
should he lose by the fatal margin a financial penalty not imposed on others would unreasonably deny him equal protection of the law. It is,
also, in my opinion, unconstitutional on this account. (Sec. 1 [1], Art. III, Phil. Const.)

Nuisance candidates, as an evil to be remedied, do not justify the adoption of measures that would bar poor candidates from running for office.
Republic Act 4421 in fact enables rich candidates, whether nuisance or not, to present themselves for election. Consequently, it cannot be
sustained as a valid regulation of elections to secure the expression of the popular will.
I fully concur, therefore, with the majority opinion.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 78239

February 9, 1989

SALVACION A. MONSANTO, petitioner,


vs.
FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., respondent.

FERNAN, C.J.:
The principal question raised in this petition for review is whether or not a public officer, who has been granted an absolute pardon by the Chief
Executive, is entitled to reinstatement to her former position without need of a new appointment.
In a decision rendered on March 25, 1983, the Sandiganbayan convicted petitioner Salvacion A. Monsanto (then assistant treasurer of Calbayog
City) and three other accused, of the complex crime of estafa thru falsification of public documents and sentenced them to imprisonment of four
(4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day of prision correccional as minimum, to ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as maximum,
and to pay a fine of P3,500. They were further ordered to jointly and severally indemnify the government in the sum of P4,892.50 representing
the balance of the amount defrauded and to pay the costs proportionately.
Petitioner Monsanto appealed her conviction to this Court which subsequently affirmed the same. She then filed a motion for reconsideration but
while said motion was pending, she was extended on December 17, 1984 by then President Marcos absolute pardon which she accepted on
December 21, 1984.
By reason of said pardon, petitioner wrote the Calbayog City treasurer requesting that she be restored to her former post as assistant city treasurer
since the same was still vacant.
Petitioner's letter-request was referred to the Ministry of Finance for resolution in view of the provision of the Local Government Code
transferring the power of appointment of treasurers from the city governments to the said Ministry. In its 4th Indorsement dated March 1, 1985,
the Finance Ministry ruled that petitioner may be reinstated to her position without the necessity of a new appointment not earlier than the date
she was extended the absolute pardon. It also directed the city treasurer to see to it that the amount of P4,892.50 which the Sandiganbayan had
required to be indemnified in favor of the government as well as the costs of the litigation, be satisfied. 1
Seeking reconsideration of the foregoing ruling, petitioner wrote the Ministry on April 17, 1985 stressing that the full pardon bestowed on her has
wiped out the crime which implies that her service in the government has never been interrupted and therefore the date of her reinstatement
should correspond to the date of her preventive suspension which is August 1, 1982; that she is entitled to backpay for the entire period of her
suspension; and that she should not be required to pay the proportionate share of the amount of P4,892.50. 2
The Ministry of Finance, however, referred petitioner's letter to the Office of the President for further review and action. On April 15, 1986, said
Office, through Deputy Executive Secretary Fulgenio S. Factoran, Jr. held:
We disagree with both the Ministry of Finance and the petitioner because, as borne out by the records, petitioner was convicted of the crime for
which she was accused. In line with the government's crusade to restore absolute honesty in public service, this Office adopts, as a juridical guide
(Miranda v. Imperial, 77 Phil. 1966), the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan, 2nd Division, in People v. Lising, Crim. Case No. 6675, October 4,
1985, that acquittal, not absolute pardon, of a former public officer is the only ground for reinstatement to his former position and entitlement to
payment of his salaries, benefits and emoluments due to him during the period of his suspension pendente lite.
In fact, in such a situation, the former public official must secure a reappointment before he can reassume his former position. ...

Anent the civil liability of Monsanto, the Revised Penal Code expressly provides that "a pardon shall in no case exempt the culprit from payment
of the civil indemnity imposed upon him by the sentence." (Sec. 36, par. 2).
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, this Office holds that Salvacion A. Monsanto is not entitled to an automatic reinstatement on the basis of the
absolute pardon granted her but must secure an appointment to her former position and that, notwithstanding said absolute pardon, she is liable
for the civil liability concomitant to her previous conviction. 3
Her subsequent motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner filed the present petition in her behalf We gave due course on October
13, 1987.
Petitioner's basic theory is that the general rules on pardon cannot apply to her case by reason of the fact that she was extended executive
clemency while her conviction was still pending appeal in this Court. There having been no final judgment of conviction, her employment
therefore as assistant city treasurer could not be said to have been terminated or forfeited. In other words, without that final judgment of
conviction, the accessory penalty of forfeiture of office did not attach and the status of her employment remained "suspended." More importantly,
when pardon was issued before the final verdict of guilt, it was an acquittal because there was no offense to speak of. In effect, the President has
declared her not guilty of the crime charged and has accordingly dismissed the same. 4
It is well to remember that petitioner had been convicted of the complex crime of estafa thru falsification of public documents and sentenced to
imprisonment of four years, two months and one day of prision correccional as minimum, to ten years and one day of prision mayor as maximum.
The penalty of prision mayor carries the accessory penalties of temporary absolute disqualification and perpetual special disqualification from the
right of suffrage, enforceable during the term of the principal penalty. 5 Temporary absolute disqualification bars the convict from public office or
employment, such disqualification to last during the term of the sentence. 6 Even if the offender be pardoned, as to the principal penalty, the
accessory penalties remain unless the same have been expressly remitted by the pardon. 7 The penalty of prision correccional carries, as one of its
accessory penalties, suspension from public office. 8
The propositions earlier advanced by petitioner reveal her inadequate understanding of the nature of pardon and its legal consequences. This is
not totally unexpected considering that the authorities on the subject have not been wholly consistent particularly in describing the effects of
pardon.
The benign mercy of pardon is of British origin, conceived to temper the gravity of the King's wrath. But Philippine jurisprudence on the subject
has been largely influenced by American case law.
Pardon is defined as "an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual, on
whom it is bestowed, from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed. It is the private, though official act of the executive
magistrate, delivered to the individual for whose benefit it is intended, and not communicated officially to the Court. ... A pardon is a deed, to the
validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance." 8-a
At the time the antecedents of the present case took place, the pardoning power was governed by the 1973 Constitution as amended in the April 7,
1981 plebiscite. The pertinent provision reads:
The President may, except in cases of impeachment, grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, remit fines and forfeitures, and with the
concurrence of the Batasang Pambansa, grant amnesty. 9
The 1981 amendments had deleted the earlier rule that clemency could be extended only upon final conviction, implying that clemency could be
given even before conviction. Thus, petitioner's unconditional pardon was granted even as her appeal was pending in the High Court. It is worth
mentioning that under the 1987 Constitution, the former limitation of final conviction was restored. But be that as it may, it is our view that in the
present case, it is not material when the pardon was bestowed, whether before or after conviction, for the result would still be the same. Having
accepted the pardon, petitioner is deemed to have abandoned her appeal and her unreversed conviction by the Sandiganbayan assumed the
character of finality.
Having disposed of that preliminary point, we proceed to discuss the effects of a full and absolute pardon in relation to the decisive question of
whether or not the plenary pardon had the effect of removing the disqualifications prescribed by the Revised Penal Code.
In Pelobello v. Palatino, 10 We find a reiteration of the stand consistently adopted by the courts on the various consequences of pardon: "... we
adopt the broad view expressed in Cristobal v. Labrador, G.R. No. 47941, December 7, 1940, that subject to the limitations imposed by the
Constitution, the pardoning power cannot be restricted or controlled by legislative action; that an absolute pardon not only blots out the crime
committed but removes all disabilities resulting from the conviction. ... (W)e are of the opinion that the better view in the light of the
constitutional grant in this jurisdiction is not to unnecessarily restrict or impair the power of the Chief Executive who, after an inquiry into the
environmental facts, should be at liberty to atone the rigidity of the law to the extent of relieving completely the party ... concerned from the
accessory and resultant disabilities of criminal conviction.
The Pelobello v. Palatino and Cristobal v. Labrador cases, 11 and several others 12 show the unmistakable application of the doctrinal case of Ex
Parte Garland, 13 whose sweeping generalizations to this day continue to hold sway in our jurisprudence despite the fact that much of its
relevance has been downplayed by later American decisions.

Consider the following broad statements:


A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offense and the guilt of the offender; and when the pardon is full, it releases the
punishment and blots out of existence the guilt, so that in the eye of the law the offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offense.
If granted before conviction, it prevents any of the penalties and disabilities, consequent upon conviction, from attaching; if granted after
conviction, it removes the penalties and disabilities and restores him to all his civil rights; it makes him, as it were, a new man, and gives him a
new credit and capacity. 14
Such generalities have not been universally accepted, recognized or approved. 15 The modern trend of authorities now rejects the unduly broad
language of the Garland case (reputed to be perhaps the most extreme statement which has been made on the effects of a pardon). To our mind,
this is the more realistic approach. While a pardon has generally been regarded as blotting out the existence of guilt so that in the eye of the law
the offender is as innocent as though he never committed the offense, it does not operate for all purposes. The very essence of a pardon is
forgiveness or remission of guilt. Pardon implies guilt. It does not erase the fact of the commission of the crime and the conviction thereof. It does
not wash out the moral stain. It involves forgiveness and not forgetfulness. 16
The better considered cases regard full pardon (at least one not based on the offender's innocence) as relieving the party from all the punitive
consequences of his criminal act, including the disqualifications or disabilities based on the finding of guilt. 17 But it relieves him from nothing
more. "To say, however, that the offender is a "new man", and "as innocent as if he had never committed the offense;" is to ignore the difference
between the crime and the criminal. A person adjudged guilty of an offense is a convicted criminal, though pardoned; he may be deserving of
punishment, though left unpunished; and the law may regard him as more dangerous to society than one never found guilty of crime, though it
places no restraints upon him following his conviction." 18
A pardon looks to the future. It is not retrospective. 19 It makes no amends for the past. It affords no relief for what has been suffered by the
offender. It does not impose upon the government any obligation to make reparation for what has been suffered. "Since the offense has been
established by judicial proceedings, that which has been done or suffered while they were in force is presumed to have been rightfully done and
justly suffered, and no satisfaction for it can be required." 20 This would explain why petitioner, though pardoned, cannot be entitled to receive
backpay for lost earnings and benefits.
Petitioner maintains that when she was issued absolute pardon, the Chief Executive declared her not guilty of the crime for which she was
convicted. In the case of State v. Hazzard, 21 we find this strong observation: "To assume that all or even a major number of pardons are issued
because of innocence of the recipients is not only to indict our judicial system, but requires us to assume that which we all know to be untrue. The
very act of forgiveness implies the commission of wrong, and that wrong has been established by the most complete method known to modern
civilization. Pardons may relieve from the disability of fines and forfeitures attendant upon a conviction, but they cannot erase the stain of bad
character, which has been definitely fixed. 22
In this ponencia, the Court wishes to stress one vital point: While we are prepared to concede that pardon may remit all the penal consequences of
a criminal indictment if only to give meaning to the fiat that a pardon, being a presidential prerogative, should not be circumscribed by legislative
action, we do not subscribe to the fictitious belief that pardon blots out the guilt of an individual and that once he is absolved, he should be treated
as if he were innocent. For whatever may have been the judicial dicta in the past, we cannot perceive how pardon can produce such "moral
changes" as to equate a pardoned convict in character and conduct with one who has constantly maintained the mark of a good, law-abiding
citizen.
Pardon cannot mask the acts constituting the crime. These are "historical" facts which, despite the public manifestation of mercy and forgiveness
implicit in pardon, "ordinary, prudent men will take into account in their subsequent dealings with the actor." 23
Pardon granted after conviction frees the individual from all the penalties and legal disabilities and restores him to all his civil rights. But unless
expressly grounded on the person's innocence (which is rare), it cannot bring back lost reputation for honesty, integrity and fair dealing. 24 This
must be constantly kept in mind lest we lose track of the true character and purpose of the privilege.
Thus, notwithstanding the expansive and effusive language of the Garland case, we are in full agreement with the commonly-held opinion that
pardon does not ipso facto restore a convicted felon to public office necessarily relinquished or forfeited by reason of the conviction 25 although
such pardon undoubtedly restores his eligibility for appointment to that office. 26
The rationale is plainly evident Public offices are intended primarily for the collective protection, safety and benefit of the common good. They
cannot be compromised to favor private interests. To insist on automatic reinstatement because of a mistaken notion that the pardon virtually
acquitted one from the offense of estafa would be grossly untenable. A pardon, albeit full and plenary, cannot preclude the appointing power from
refusing appointment to anyone deemed to be of bad character, a poor moral risk, or who is unsuitable by reason of the pardoned conviction.
For petitioner Monsanto, this is the bottom line: the absolute disqualification or ineligibility from public office forms part of the punishment
prescribed by the Revised Penal Code for estafa thru falsification of public documents. It is clear from the authorities referred to that when her
guilt and punishment were expunged by her pardon, this particular disability was likewise removed. Henceforth, petitioner may apply for
reappointment to the office which was forfeited by reason of her conviction. And in considering her qualifications and suitability for the public
post, the facts constituting her offense must be and should be evaluated and taken into account to determine ultimately whether she can once
again be entrusted with public funds. Stated differently, the pardon granted to petitioner has resulted in removing her disqualification from

holding public employment but it cannot go beyond that. To regain her former post as assistant city treasurer, she must re-apply and undergo the
usual procedure required for a new appointment.
Finally, petitioner has sought exemption from the payment of the civil indemnity imposed upon her by the sentence. The Court cannot oblige her.
Civil liability arising from crime is governed by the Revised Penal Code. It subsists notwithstanding service of sentence, or for any reason the
sentence is not served by pardon, amnesty or commutation of sentence. Petitioner's civil liability may only be extinguished by the same causes
recognized in the Civil Code, namely: payment, loss of the thing due, remission of the debt, merger of the rights of creditor and debtor,
compensation and novation. 27
WHEREFORE, the assailed resolution of former Deputy Executive Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., dated April 15, 1986, is AFFIRMED. No
costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 75025

September 14, 1993

VICENTE GARCIA, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON AUDIT, THE HONORABLE MINISTER, LAND TRANSPORTATION AND
COMMUNICATIONS, THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR, TELECOM REGIONAL OFFICE NO. IV, respondents.
BELLOSILLO, J.:
Petitioner comes to us on a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of 23 July 1985 of respondent Commission on Audit (COA) denying
his claim for payment of back wages, after he was reinstated to the service pursuant to an executive clemency. He prays for the extraordinary
remedy of mandamus against public respondents to enforce his claim.
Petitioner was a Supervising Lineman in the Region IV Station of the Bureau of Telecommunications in Lucena City. On 1 April 1975, petitioner
was summarily dismissed from the service on the ground of dishonesty in accordance with the decision of the then Ministry of Public Works,
Transportation and Communications in Adm. Case No. 975 for the loss of several telegraph poles which were located at the Sariaya-Lucena City
and Mauban-Sampaloc, Quezon, telecom lines. Petitioner did not appeal from the decision.
Based on the same facts obtaining in the administrative action, a criminal case for qualified theft was filed against petitioner with the then Court
of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Quezon. On 23 January 1980, the trial court rendered its decision acquitting petitioner of the
offense charged.
Consequently, petitioner sought reinstatement to his former position
in view of his acquittal in the criminal case. In an indorsement dated 7 April 1980, petitioner's request to be reinstated was denied by the Bureau
of Telecommunications. Hence, petitioner pleaded to the President of the Philippines for executive clemency.
On 26 August 1981, acting on the favorable indorsements of the then Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Civil Service
Commission, Deputy Presidential Executive Assistant Joaquin T. Venus, Jr., by authority of the President, per Resolution No. O.P. 1800, granted
executive clemency to petitioner.
Petitioner thereafter filed with respondent COA a claim for payment of back salaries effective 1 April 1975, the date of his dismissal from the
service. This was denied by the COA in its 5th Indorsement dated 12 October 1982 on the ground that the executive clemency granted to him did
not provide for the payment of back salaries and that he has not been reinstated in the service.
It appears that petitioner was recalled to the service on 12 March 1984 but the records do not show whether petitioner's reinstatement was to the
same position of Supervising Lineman. 1
Petitioner again filed a claim to recover his back salaries for the period from 1 April 1975, the date of his dismissal, to 12 March 1984, when he
was reinstated. In Decision No. 362 embodied in its 3rd Indorsement dated 23 July 1985, respondent COA denied the claim stating that the
executive clemency was silent on the payment of back wages and that he had not rendered service during the period of his claim.
Aggrieved, petitioner appealed the COA decision of 23 July 1985 to the Office of the President. On 21 April 1986, Deputy Executive Secretary
Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., by authority of the President, denied the appeal "due to legal and constitutional constraint," 2 holding that this Court is
the proper forum to take cognizance of the appeal on certiorari from the decision of the COA, citing Art. XII-(D), Sec. 2, par. 2, of the 1973
Constitution (now Art. IX-[A], Sec. 7, of the 1987 Constitution).

Hence, petitioner filed the instant petition on the issue of whether he is entitled to the payment of back wages after having been reinstated
pursuant to the grant of executive clemency.
In his comment to the petition, the Solicitor General recommends that the petition be given due course and the petitioner be awarded back wages
to be determined in the light of existing laws and jurisprudence. The Solicitor General submits that the award is implicit in the grant of executive
clemency, the ultimate objective of which is to accord full justice to petitioner.
On the other hand, the COA asks this Court to deny the petition for the following reasons: (a) petitioner's acquittal in the criminal case did not
necessarily free him from administrative liability; (b) petitioners unexplained failure to appeal the decision in the administrative case was
tantamount to a waiver or renunciation of his right to back wages; (c) the executive clemency was granted to petitioner for the purpose of
reinstatement only since it was silent on the matter of back wages; (d) the award of back wages is allowed only if the respondent is exonerated
from the administrative charge that his suspension or dismissal is declared illegal or unjustified by the court; and, (e) petitioner did not render any
service during the period before his reinstatement, hence, he is not entitled to back wages based on the "no service, no pay" rule.
The petition is meritorious.
Every civilized country recognizes, and has therefore provided for, the pardoning power to be exercised as an act of grace and humanity, in proper
cases. Without such a power of clemency, to be exercised by some department or functionary of a government, a country would be most
imperfect and deficient in its political morality and in that attribute of Deity whose judgments are always tempered with money. 3
Our Constitution reposes in the President the power and the exclusive prerogative to extend executive clemency under the following
circumstances:
Except in cases of impeachment or as otherwise provided in this Constitution, the President may grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, and
remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by final judgment.
He shall also have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress. 4
From among the different acts of executive clemency spelled out above, the clemency granted to petitioner in the instant case partakes of the
nature of an executive pardon. A reading of Resolution No. 1800 partly quoted hereunder is enlightening:
In a 3rd Indorsement dated September 5, 1980, the Director of Telecommunications interposed no objection to the petition, while the Minister of
Transportation and Communications, in his 4th Indorsement dated November 17, 1980, favorably recommended the grant of executive clemency
to petitioner for the reason that "while it is a rule that an administrative case is separate and distinct from a criminal case and an acquittal in the
latter case dos not ipso facto result in the exoneration in the former case, yet an exception could arise if the basis for the acquittal was the
innocence of the accused as in the case of petitioner Garcia.
Asked for comment pursuant to Section 43 of Presidential Decree No. 807, the Civil service Commission recommends the grant of executive
clemency to petitioner in view of the findings of the court that
instead of coming forward to the defense of the accused who actually was authorized to uproot or recover the poles in question and of
commending the latter for his high sense of responsibility in preventing losses to the government, said high officials had even the temerity to
disown and deny the authority they gave to the accused resulting in his separation from the service and having him all alone in defending himself
against the accusation of the very government he tried to protect.
After a careful study, this Office is inclined to grant executive clemency to petitioner in the light of this decision of the court acquitting him of the
crime of qualified theft which was based on the same acts obtaining in Administrative Case No. 975 against him, coupled with the favorable
recommendation of the Minister of Transportation and Communications and the Civil Service Commission.
In view of the foregoing, petitioner Vicente Garcia is hereby granted executive clemency. 5
Time and again this Court has unfolded the effects of a pardon upon the individual to whom it is granted. In Monsanto v. Factoran, 6 we have
firmly established the general rule that while a pardon has generally been regarded as blotting out the existence of guilt so that in the eyes of the
law the offender is as innocent as though he never committed the offense, it does not operate for all purposes. The very essence of a pardon is
forgiveness or remission of guilt and not forgetfulness . It does not erase the fact of the commission of the crime and the conviction thereof.
Pardon frees the individual from all the penalties and legal disabilities and restores to him all his civil rights. Unless expressly grounded on the
person's innocence, it cannot bring back lost reputation for honesty, integrity and fair dealing. The pardoned offender regains his eligibility for
appointment to public office which was forfeited by reason of the conviction of the offense. But since pardon does not generally result in
automatic reinstatement because the offender has to apply for reappointment, he is not entitled to back wages.
But, stated otherwise, if the pardon is based on the innocence of the individual, it affirms this innocence and makes him a new man and as
innocent; as if he had not been found guilty of the offense charged. 7 When a person is given pardon because he did not truly commit the offense,
the pardon relieves the party from all punitive consequences of his criminal act, thereby restoring to him his clean name, good reputation and
unstained character prior to the finding of guilt.

In the case at bar, petitioner was found administratively liable for dishonesty and consequently dismissed from the service. However, he was later
acquitted by the trial court of the charge of qualified theft based on the very same acts for which he was dismissed. The acquittal of petitioner by
the trial court was founded not on lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt but on the fact that petitioner did not commit the offense imputed to
him. Aside from finding him innocent of the charge, the trial court commended petitioner for his concern and dedication as a public servant.
Verily, petitioner's innocence is the primary reason behind the grant of executive clemency to him, bolstered by the favorable recommendations
for his reinstatement by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Civil Service Commission.
The bestowal of executive clemency on petitioner in effect completely obliterated the adverse effects of the administrative decision which found
him guilty of dishonesty and ordered his separation from the service. This can be inferred from the executive clemency itself exculpating
petitioner from the administrative charge and thereby directing his reinstatement, which is rendered automatic by the grant of the pardon. This
signifies that petitioner need no longer apply to be reinstated to his former employment; he is restored to his office ipso facto upon the issuance of
the clemency.
Petitioner's automatic reinstatement to the government service entitles him to back wages. 8 This is meant to afford relief to petitioner who is
innocent from the start and to make reparation for what he has suffered as a result of his unjust dismissal from the service. To rule otherwise
would defeat the very intention of the executive clemency, i.e., to give justice to petitioner. Moreover, the right to back wages is afforded to those
with have been illegally dismissed and were thus ordered reinstated or to those otherwise acquitted of the charges against them. 9 There is no
doubt that petitioner's case falls within the situations aforementioned to entitle him to back wages.
Further, it is worthy to note that the dismissal of petitioner was not the result of any criminal conviction that carried with it forfeiture of the right
to hold public office, but is the direct consequence of an administrative decision of a branch of the Executive Department over which the
President, as its head, has the power of control. The President's control has been defined to mean "the power of an officer to alter or modify or
nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to the judgment of the former for the latter." 10 In
pardoning petitioner and ordering his reinstatement, the Chief Executive exercised his power of control and set aside the decision of the Ministry
of Transportation and Communications. The clemency nullified the dismissal of petitioner and relieved him from administrative liability. The
separation of the petitioner from the service being null and void, he is thus entitled to back wages.
After having been declared innocent of the crime of qualified theft, which also served as basis for the administrative charge, petitioner should not
be considered to have left his office for all legal purposes, so that he is entitled to all the rights and privileges that accrued to him by virtue of the
office held, including back wages. 11
Established jurisprudence fixes recovery of back wages to a period of five (5) years to be paid an illegally dismissed government employee who
has been ordered reinstated. 12 The cases heretofore decided by this Court show that petitioners therein were employees of local governments
who were removed from office by their local officials. The reasons given for their removal were abolition of office or position, reduction of work
force, or lack of funds on the part of the local governments concerned, which reasons were found by this Court to be either devoid of factual basis
or not sufficiently proven, otherwise, their dismissal would have been valid and justified. In contrast, the case before us is different, involving as
it does circumstances that impel us to deviate from the general rule previously laid down on the recovery of back wages for five (15) years.
Petitioner's reinstatement in the instant case which was ordered pursuant to a grant of executive clemency was effected not because of lack of
sufficient proof of his commission of the offense but that, more importantly, he did not commit the offense charged. Verily, law, equity and justice
dictate that petitioner be afforded compassion for the embarrassment, humiliation and, above all, injustice caused to him and his family by his
unfounded dismissal. This Court cannot help surmising the painful stigma that must have caused petitioner, the incursion on his dignity and
reputation, for having been adjudged, albeit wrongfully, a dishonest man, and worse, a thief. Consequently, this Court finds it fair and just to
award petitioner full back wages from 1 April 1975 when he was illegally dismissed, to 12 March 1984 when he was reinstated. The payment
shall be without deduction or qualification.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of respondent Commission on Audit dated 23 July 1985 is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE, and a new one entered ordering public respondents, the Chairman of the Commission on Audit, the Minister (now Secretary) of Land
Transportation and Communications, the Regional Director of Telecom Regional Office No. IV, or whoever may be sitting in office in their stead,
to pay the full amount of petitioner's back salaries from 1 April 1975 to 12 March 1984 based on his latest salary scale.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 83896

February 22, 1991

CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, petitioner,


vs.
THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, respondent.
G.R. No. 83815
February 22, 1991

ANTI-GRAFT LEAGUE OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. and CRISPIN T. REYES, petitioners,


vs.
PHILIP ELLA C. JUICO,

FERNAN, C.J.:p
These two (2) petitions were consolidated per resolution dated August 9, 1988 1 and are being resolved jointly as both seek a declaration of the
unconstitutionality of Executive Order No. 284 issued by President Corazon C. Aquino on July 25, 1987. The pertinent provisions of the assailed
Executive Order are:
Sec. 1.
Even if allowed by law or by the ordinary functions of his position, a member of the Cabinet, undersecretary or assistant secretary or
other appointive officials of the Executive Department may, in addition to his primary position, hold not more than two positions in the
government and government corporations and receive the corresponding compensation therefor; Provided, that this limitation shall not apply to
ad hoc bodies or committees, or to boards, councils or bodies of which the President is the Chairman.
Sec. 2.
If a member of the cabinet, undersecretary or assistant secretary or other appointive official of the Executive Department holds more
positions than what is allowed in Section 1 hereof, they (sic) must relinquish the excess position in favor of the subordinate official who is next in
rank, but in no case shall any official hold more than two positions other than his primary position.
Sec. 3.
In order to fully protect the interest of the government in government-owned or controlled corporations, at least one-third (1/3) of the
members of the boards of such corporation should either be a secretary, or undersecretary, or assistant secretary.
Petitioners maintain that this Executive Order which, in effect, allows members of the Cabinet, their undersecretaries and assistant secretaries to
hold other government offices or positions in addition to their primary positions, albeit subject to the limitation therein imposed, runs counter to
Section 13, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, 2 which provides as follows:
Sec. 13. The President, Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, and their deputies or assistants shall not, unless otherwise provided in this
Constitution, hold any other office or employment during their tenure. They shall not, during said tenure, directly or indirectly practice any other
profession, participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the
Government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries.
They shall strictly avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their office.
It is alleged that the above-quoted Section 13, Article VII prohibits public respondents, as members of the Cabinet, along with the other public
officials enumerated in the list attached to the petitions as Annex "C" in G.R. No.
83815 3 and as Annex "B" in G.R. No. 83896 4 from holding any other office or employment during their tenure. In addition to seeking a
declaration of the unconstitutionality of Executive Order No. 284, petitioner Anti-Graft League of the Philippines further seeks in G.R. No. 83815
the issuance of the extraordinary writs of prohibition and mandamus, as well as a temporary restraining order directing public respondents therein
to cease and desist from holding, in addition to their primary positions, dual or multiple positions other than those authorized by the 1987
Constitution and from receiving any salaries, allowances, per diems and other forms of privileges and the like appurtenant to their questioned
positions, and compelling public respondents to return, reimburse or refund any and all amounts or benefits that they may have received from
such positions.
Specifically, petitioner Anti-Graft League of the Philippines charges that notwithstanding the aforequoted "absolute and self-executing" provision
of the 1987 Constitution, then Secretary of Justice Sedfrey Ordoez, construing Section 13, Article VII in relation to Section 7, par. (2), Article
IX-B, rendered on July 23, 1987 Opinion No. 73, series of 1987, 5 declaring that Cabinet members, their deputies (undersecretaries) and assistant
secretaries may hold other public office, including membership in the boards of government corporations: (a) when directly provided for in the
Constitution as in the case of the Secretary of Justice who is made an ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council under Section 8,
paragraph 1, Article VIII; or (b) if allowed by law; or (c) if allowed by the primary functions of their respective positions; and that on the basis of
this Opinion, the President of the Philippines, on July 25, 1987 or two (2) days before Congress convened on July 27, 1987: promulgated
Executive Order No. 284. 6
Petitioner Anti-Graft League of the Philippines objects to both DOJ Opinion No. 73 and Executive Order No. 284 as they allegedly "lumped
together" Section 13, Article VII and the general provision in another article, Section 7, par. (2), Article I-XB. This "strained linkage" between the
two provisions, each addressed to a distinct and separate group of public officers one, the President and her official family, and the other,
public servants in general allegedly "abolished the clearly separate, higher, exclusive, and mandatory constitutional rank assigned to the
prohibition against multiple jobs for the President, the Vice-President, the members of the Cabinet, and their deputies and subalterns, who are the
leaders of government expected to lead by example." 7 Article IX-B, Section 7, par. (2) 8 provides:
Sec. 7.

.....

Unless otherwise allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position, no appointive official shall hold any other office or employment in
the government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their
subsidiaries.

10

The Solicitor General counters that Department of Justice DOJ Opinion No. 73, series of 1987, as further elucidated and clarified by DOJ
Opinion No. 129, series of 1987 9 and DOJ Opinion No. 155, series of 1988, 10 being the first official construction and interpretation by the
Secretary of Justice of Section 13, Article VII and par. (2) of Section 7, Article I-XB of the Constitution, involving the same subject of
appointments or designations of an appointive executive official to positions other than his primary position, is "reasonably valid and
constitutionally firm," and that Executive Order No. 284, promulgated pursuant to DOJ Opinion No. 73, series of 1987 is consequently
constitutional. It is worth noting that DOJ Opinion No. 129, series of 1987 and DOJ Opinion No. 155, series of 1988 construed the limitation
imposed by E.O. No. 284 as not applying to ex-officio positions or to positions which, although not so designated as ex-officio are allowed by the
primary functions of the public official, but only to the holding of multiple positions which are not related to or necessarily included in the
position of the public official concerned (disparate positions).
In sum, the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 284 is being challenged by petitioners on the principal submission that it adds exceptions to
Section 13, Article VII other than those provided in the Constitution. According to petitioners, by virtue of the phrase "unless otherwise provided
in this Constitution," the only exceptions against holding any other office or employment in Government are those provided in the Constitution,
namely: (1) The Vice-President may be appointed as a Member of the Cabinet under Section 3, par. (2), Article VII thereof; and (2) the Secretary
of Justice is an ex-officio member of the Judicial and Bar Council by virtue of Section 8 (1), Article VIII.
Petitioners further argue that the exception to the prohibition in Section 7, par. (2), Article I-XB on the Civil Service Commission applies to
officers and employees of the Civil Service in general and that said exceptions do not apply and cannot be extended to Section 13, Article VII
which applies specifically to the President, Vice-President, Members of the Cabinet and their deputies or assistants.
There is no dispute that the prohibition against the President, Vice-President, the members of the Cabinet and their deputies or assistants from
holding dual or multiple positions in the Government admits of certain exceptions. The disagreement between petitioners and public respondents
lies on the constitutional basis of the exception. Petitioners insist that because of the phrase "unless otherwise provided in this Constitution" used
in Section 13 of Article VII, the exception must be expressly provided in the Constitution, as in the case of the Vice-President being allowed to
become a Member of the Cabinet under the second paragraph of Section 3, Article VII or the Secretary of Justice being designated an ex-officio
member of the Judicial and Bar Council under Article VIII, Sec. 8 (1). Public respondents, on the other hand, maintain that the phrase "unless
otherwise provided in the Constitution" in Section 13, Article VII makes reference to Section 7, par. (2), Article I-XB insofar as the appointive
officials mentioned therein are concerned.
The threshold question therefore is: does the prohibition in Section 13, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution insofar as Cabinet members, their
deputies or assistants are concerned admit of the broad exceptions made for appointive officials in general under Section 7, par. (2), Article I-XB
which, for easy reference is quoted anew, thus: "Unless otherwise allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position, no appointive
official shall hold any other office or employment in the Government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including
government-owned or controlled corporation or their subsidiaries."
We rule in the negative.
A foolproof yardstick in constitutional construction is the intention underlying the provision under consideration. Thus, it has been held that the
Court in construing a Constitution should bear in mind the object sought to be accomplished by its adoption, and the evils, if any, sought to be
prevented or remedied. A doubtful provision will be examined in the light of the history of the times, and the condition and circumstances under
which the Constitution was framed. The object is to ascertain the reason which induced the framers of the Constitution to enact the particular
provision and the purpose sought to be accomplished thereby, in order to construe the whole as to make the words consonant to that reason and
calculated to effect that purpose. 11
The practice of designating members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants as members of the governing bodies or boards of various
government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned and controlled corporations, became prevalent during the time
legislative powers in this country were exercised by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos pursuant to his martial law authority. There was a
proliferation of newly-created agencies, instrumentalities and government-owned and controlled corporations created by presidential decrees and
other modes of presidential issuances where Cabinet members, their deputies or assistants were designated to head or sit as members of the board
with the corresponding salaries, emoluments, per diems, allowances and other perquisites of office. Most of these instrumentalities have remained
up to the present time.
This practice of holding multiple offices or positions in the government soon led to abuses by unscrupulous public officials who took advantage
of this scheme for purposes of self-enrichment. In fact, the holding of multiple offices in government was strongly denounced on the floor of the
Batasang Pambansa. 12 This condemnation came in reaction to the published report of the Commission on Audit, entitled "1983 Summary
Annual Audit Report on: Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations, Self-Governing Boards and Commissions" which carried as its
Figure No. 4 a "Roaster of Membership in Governing Boards of Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations as of December 31, 1983."
Particularly odious and revolting to the people's sense of propriety and morality in government service were the data contained therein that
Roberto V. Ongpin was a member of the governing boards of twenty-nine (29) governmental agencies, instrumentalities and corporations; Imelda
R. Marcos of twenty-three (23); Cesar E.A. Virata of twenty-two (22); Arturo R. Tanco, Jr. of fifteen (15); Jesus S. Hipolito and Geronimo Z.
Velasco, of fourteen each (14); Cesar C. Zalamea of thirteen (13); Ruben B. Ancheta and Jose A. Roo of twelve (12) each; Manuel P. Alba,
Gilberto O. Teodoro, and Edgardo Tordesillas of eleven (11) each; and Lilia Bautista and Teodoro Q. Pea of ten (10) each. 13

11

The blatant betrayal of public trust evolved into one of the serious causes of discontent with the Marcos regime. It was therefore quite inevitable
and in consonance with the overwhelming sentiment of the people that the 1986 Constitutional Commission, convened as it was after the people
successfully unseated former President Marcos, should draft into its proposed Constitution the provisions under consideration which are
envisioned to remedy, if not correct, the evils that flow from the holding of multiple governmental offices and employment. In fact, as keenly
observed by Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz during the deliberations in these cases, one of the strongest selling points of the 1987 Constitution during
the campaign for its ratification was the assurance given by its proponents that the scandalous practice of Cabinet members holding multiple
positions in the government and collecting unconscionably excessive compensation therefrom would be discontinued.
But what is indeed significant is the fact that although Section 7, Article I-XB already contains a blanket prohibition against the holding of
multiple offices or employment in the government subsuming both elective and appointive public officials, the Constitutional Commission should
see it fit to formulate another provision, Sec. 13, Article VII, specifically prohibiting the President, Vice-President, members of the Cabinet, their
deputies and assistants from holding any other office or employment during their tenure, unless otherwise provided in the Constitution itself.
Evidently, from this move as well as in the different phraseologies of the constitutional provisions in question, the intent of the framers of the
Constitution was to impose a stricter prohibition on the President and his official family in so far as holding other offices or employment in the
government or elsewhere is concerned.
Moreover, such intent is underscored by a comparison of Section 13, Article VII with other provisions of the Constitution on the disqualifications
of certain public officials or employees from holding other offices or employment. Under Section 13, Article VI, "(N)o Senator or Member of the
House of Representatives may hold any other office or employment in the Government . . .". Under Section 5(4), Article XVI, "(N)o member of
the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed in any capacity to a civilian position in the Government, including
government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries." Even Section 7 (2), Article IX-B, relied upon by respondents provides
"(U)nless otherwise allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position, no appointive official shall hold any other office or employment
in the Government."
It is quite notable that in all these provisions on disqualifications to hold other office or employment, the prohibition pertains to an office or
employment in the government and government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries. In striking contrast is the wording of
Section 13, Article VII which states that "(T)he President, Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, and their deputies or assistants shall not,
unless otherwise provided in this Constitution, hold any other office or employment during their tenure." In the latter provision, the
disqualification is absolute, not being qualified by the phrase "in the Government." The prohibition imposed on the President and his official
family is therefore all-embracing and covers both public and private office or employment.
Going further into Section 13, Article VII, the second sentence provides: "They shall not, during said tenure, directly or indirectly, practice any
other profession, participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by
the Government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their
subsidiaries." These sweeping, all-embracing prohibitions imposed on the President and his official family, which prohibitions are not similarly
imposed on other public officials or employees such as the Members of Congress, members of the civil service in general and members of the
armed forces, are proof of the intent of the 1987 Constitution to treat the President and his official family as a class by itself and to impose upon
said class stricter prohibitions.
Such intent of the 1986 Constitutional Commission to be stricter with the President and his official family was also succinctly articulated by
Commissioner Vicente Foz after Commissioner Regalado Maambong noted during the floor deliberations and debate that there was no symmetry
between the Civil Service prohibitions, originally found in the General Provisions and the anticipated report on the Executive Department.
Commissioner Foz Commented, "We actually have to be stricter with the President and the members of the Cabinet because they exercise more
powers and, therefore, more cheeks and restraints on them are called for because there is more possibility of abuse in their case." 14
Thus, while all other appointive officials in the civil service are allowed to hold other office or employment in the government during their tenure
when such is allowed by law or by the primary functions of their positions, members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants may do so only
when expressly authorized by the Constitution itself. In other words, Section 7, Article I-XB is meant to lay down the general rule applicable to
all elective and appointive public officials and employees, while Section 13, Article VII is meant to be the exception applicable only to the
President, the Vice- President, Members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants.
This being the case, the qualifying phrase "unless otherwise provided in this Constitution" in Section 13, Article VII cannot possibly refer to the
broad exceptions provided under Section 7, Article I-XB of the 1987 Constitution. To construe said qualifying phrase as respondents would have
us do, would render nugatory and meaningless the manifest intent and purpose of the framers of the Constitution to impose a stricter prohibition
on the President, Vice-President, Members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants with respect to holding other offices or employment in the
government during their tenure. Respondents' interpretation that Section 13 of Article VII admits of the exceptions found in Section 7, par. (2) of
Article IX-B would obliterate the distinction so carefully set by the framers of the Constitution as to when the high-ranking officials of the
Executive Branch from the President to Assistant Secretary, on the one hand, and the generality of civil servants from the rank immediately below
Assistant Secretary downwards, on the other, may hold any other office or position in the government during their tenure.
Moreover, respondents' reading of the provisions in question would render certain parts of the Constitution inoperative. This observation applies
particularly to the Vice-President who, under Section 13 of Article VII is allowed to hold other office or employment when so authorized by the
Constitution, but who as an elective public official under Sec. 7, par. (1) of Article I-XB is absolutely ineligible "for appointment or designation
in any capacity to any public office or position during his tenure." Surely, to say that the phrase "unless otherwise provided in this Constitution"

12

found in Section 13, Article VII has reference to Section 7, par. (1) of Article I-XB would render meaningless the specific provisions of the
Constitution authorizing the Vice-President to become a member of the Cabinet,15 and to act as President without relinquishing the VicePresidency where the President shall not nave been chosen or fails to qualify.16 Such absurd consequence can be avoided only by interpreting the
two provisions under consideration as one, i.e., Section 7, par. (1) of Article I-XB providing the general rule and the other, i.e., Section 13, Article
VII as constituting the exception thereto. In the same manner must Section 7, par. (2) of Article I-XB be construed vis-a-vis Section 13, Article
VII.
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. 17 Sections bearing on a particular subject should be considered and interpreted together as to effectuate the
whole purpose of the Constitution 18 and one section is not to be allowed to defeat another, if by any reasonable construction, the two can be
made to stand together. 19
In other words, the court must harmonize them, if practicable, and must lean in favor of a construction which will render every word operative,
rather than one which may make the words idle and nugatory. 20
Since the evident purpose of the framers of the 1987 Constitution is to impose a stricter prohibition on the President, Vice-President, members of
the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants with respect to holding multiple offices or employment in the government during their tenure, the
exception to this prohibition must be read with equal severity. On its face, the language of Section 13, Article VII is prohibitory so that it must be
understood as intended to be a positive and unequivocal negation of the privilege of holding multiple government offices or employment. Verily,
wherever the language used in the constitution is prohibitory, it is to be understood as intended to be a positive and unequivocal negation. 21 The
phrase "unless otherwise provided in this Constitution" must be given a literal interpretation to refer only to those particular instances cited in the
Constitution itself, to wit: the Vice-President being appointed as a member of the Cabinet under Section 3, par. (2), Article VII; or acting as
President in those instances provided under Section 7, pars. (2) and (3), Article VII; and, the Secretary of Justice being ex-officio member of the
Judicial and Bar Council by virtue of Section 8 (1), Article VIII.
The prohibition against holding dual or multiple offices or employment under Section 13, Article VII of the Constitution must not, however, be
construed as applying to posts occupied by the Executive officials specified therein without additional compensation in an ex-officio capacity as
provided by law and as required 22 by the primary functions of said officials' office. The reason is that these posts do no comprise "any other
office" within the contemplation of the constitutional prohibition but are properly an imposition of additional duties and functions on said
officials. 23 To characterize these posts otherwise would lead to absurd consequences, among which are: The President of the Philippines cannot
chair the National Security Council reorganized under Executive Order No. 115 (December 24, 1986). Neither can the Vice-President, the
Executive Secretary, and the Secretaries of National Defense, Justice, Labor and Employment and Local Government sit in this Council, which
would then have no reason to exist for lack of a chairperson and members. The respective undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, would also be
prohibited.
The Secretary of Labor and Employment cannot chair the Board of Trustees of the National Manpower and Youth Council (NMYC) or the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), both of which are attached to his department for policy coordination and guidance.
Neither can his Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries chair these agencies.
The Secretaries of Finance and Budget cannot sit in the Monetary Board. 24 Neither can their respective undersecretaries and assistant
secretaries. The Central Bank Governor would then be assisted by lower ranking employees in providing policy direction in the areas of money,
banking and credit.25
Indeed, the framers of our Constitution could not have intended such absurd consequences. A Constitution, viewed as a continuously operative
charter of government, is not to be interpreted as demanding the impossible or the impracticable; and unreasonable or absurd consequences, if
possible, should be avoided. 26
To reiterate, the prohibition under Section 13, Article VII is not to be interpreted as covering positions held without additional compensation in
ex-officio capacities as provided by law and as required by the primary functions of the concerned official's office. The term ex-officio means
"from office; by virtue of office." It refers to an "authority derived from official character merely, not expressly conferred upon the individual
character, but rather annexed to the official position." Ex-officio likewise denotes an "act done in an official character, or as a consequence of
office, and without any other appointment or authority than that conferred by the office." 27 An ex-officio member of a board is one who is a
member by virtue of his title to a certain office, and without further warrant or appointment. 28 To illustrate, by express provision of law, the
Secretary of Transportation and Communications is the ex-officio Chairman of the Board of the Philippine Ports Authority, 29 and the Light Rail
Transit Authority. 30
The Court had occasion to explain the meaning of an ex-officio position in Rafael vs. Embroidery and Apparel Control and Inspection Board,31
thus: "An examination of section 2 of the questioned statute (R.A. 3137) reveals that for the chairman and members of the Board to qualify they
need only be designated by the respective department heads. With the exception of the representative from the private sector, they sit ex-officio.
In order to be designated they must already be holding positions in the offices mentioned in the law. Thus, for instance, one who does not hold a
previous appointment in the Bureau of Customs, cannot, under the act, be designated a representative from that office. The same is true with
respect to the representatives from the other offices. No new appointments are necessary. This is as it should be, because the representatives so
designated merely perform duties in the Board in addition to those already performed under their original appointments." 32

13

The term "primary" used to describe "functions" refers to the order of importance and thus means chief or principal function. The term is not
restricted to the singular but may refer to the plural. 33 The additional duties must not only be closely related to, but must be required by the
official's primary functions. Examples of designations to positions by virtue of one's primary functions are the Secretaries of Finance and Budget
sitting as members of the Monetary Board, and the Secretary of Transportation and Communications acting as Chairman of the Maritime Industry
Authority 34 and the Civil Aeronautics Board.
If the functions required to be performed are merely incidental, remotely related, inconsistent, incompatible, or otherwise alien to the primary
function of a cabinet official, such additional functions would fall under the purview of "any other office" prohibited by the Constitution. An
example would be the Press Undersecretary sitting as a member of the Board of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation. The same
rule applies to such positions which confer on the cabinet official management functions and/or monetary compensation, such as but not limited
to chairmanships or directorships in government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries.
Mandating additional duties and functions to the President, Vice-President, Cabinet Members, their deputies or assistants which are not
inconsistent with those already prescribed by their offices or appointments by virtue of their special knowledge, expertise and skill in their
respective executive offices is a practice long-recognized in many jurisdictions. It is a practice justified by the demands of efficiency, policy
direction, continuity and coordination among the different offices in the Executive Branch in the discharge of its multifarious tasks of executing
and implementing laws affecting national interest and general welfare and delivering basic services to the people. It is consistent with the power
vested on the President and his alter egos, the Cabinet members, to have control of all the executive departments, bureaus and offices and to
ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. 35 Without these additional duties and functions being assigned to the President and his official
family to sit in the governing bodies or boards of governmental agencies or instrumentalities in an ex-officio capacity as provided by law and as
required by their primary functions, they would be supervision, thereby deprived of the means for control and resulting in an unwieldy and
confused bureaucracy.
It bears repeating though that in order that such additional duties or functions may not transgress the prohibition embodied in Section 13, Article
VII of the 1987 Constitution, such additional duties or functions must be required by the primary functions of the official concerned, who is to
perform the same in an ex-officio capacity as provided by law, without receiving any additional compensation therefor.
The ex-officio position being actually and in legal contemplation part of the principal office, it follows that the official concerned has no right to
receive additional compensation for his services in the said position. The reason is that these services are already paid for and covered by the
compensation attached to his principal office. It should be obvious that if, say, the Secretary of Finance attends a meeting of the Monetary Board
as an ex-officio member thereof, he is actually and in legal contemplation performing the primary function of his principal office in defining
policy in monetary and banking matters, which come under the jurisdiction of his department. For such attendance, therefore, he is not entitled to
collect any extra compensation, whether it be in the form of a per them or an honorarium or an allowance, or some other such euphemism. By
whatever name it is designated, such additional compensation is prohibited by the Constitution.
It is interesting to note that during the floor deliberations on the proposal of Commissioner Christian Monsod to add to Section 7, par. (2), Article
IX-B, originally found as Section 3 of the General Provisions, the exception "unless required by the functions of his position," 36 express
reference to certain high-ranking appointive public officials like members of the Cabinet were made. 37 Responding to a query of Commissioner
Blas Ople, Commissioner Monsod pointed out that there are instances when although not required by current law, membership of certain highranking executive officials in other offices and corporations is necessary by reason of said officials' primary functions. The example given by
Commissioner Monsod was the Minister of Trade and Industry. 38
While this exchange between Commissioners Monsod and Ople may be used as authority for saying that additional functions and duties flowing
from the primary functions of the official may be imposed upon him without offending the constitutional prohibition under consideration, it
cannot, however, be taken as authority for saying that this exception is by virtue of Section 7, par. (2) of Article I-XB. This colloquy between the
two Commissioners took place in the plenary session of September 27, 1986. Under consideration then was Section 3 of Committee Resolution
No. 531 which was the proposed article on General Provisions. 39 At that time, the article on the Civil Service Commission had been approved
on third reading on July 22, 1986, 40 while the article on the Executive Department, containing the more specific prohibition in Section 13, had
also been earlier approved on third reading on August 26, 1986. 41 It was only after the draft Constitution had undergone reformatting and
"styling" by the Committee on Style that said Section 3 of the General Provisions became Section 7, par. (2) of Article IX-B and reworded
"Unless otherwise allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position. . . ."
What was clearly being discussed then were general principles which would serve as constitutional guidelines in the absence of specific
constitutional provisions on the matter. What was primarily at issue and approved on that occasion was the adoption of the qualified and
delimited phrase "primary functions" as the basis of an exception to the general rule covering all appointive public officials. Had the
Constitutional Commission intended to dilute the specific prohibition in said Section 13 of Article VII, it could have re-worded said Section 13 to
conform to the wider exceptions provided in then Section 3 of the proposed general Provisions, later placed as Section 7, par. (2) of Article IX-B
on the Civil Service Commission.
That this exception would in the final analysis apply also to the President and his official family is by reason of the legal principles governing
additional functions and duties of public officials rather than by virtue of Section 7, par. 2, Article IX-B At any rate, we have made it clear that
only the additional functions and duties "required," as opposed to "allowed," by the primary functions may be considered as not constituting "any
other office."

14

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 42 as said proceedings are powerless to vary the
terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear.1wphi1 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 that instrument the force of fundamental law. We think it safer to
construe the constitution from what appears upon its face." 43 The proper interpretation therefore depends more on how it was understood by the
people adopting it than in the framers's understanding thereof. 44
It being clear, as it was in fact one of its best selling points, that the 1987 Constitution seeks to prohibit the President, Vice-President, members of
the Cabinet, their deputies or assistants from holding during their tenure multiple offices or employment in the government, except in those cases
specified in the Constitution itself and as above clarified with respect to posts held without additional compensation in an ex-officio capacity as
provided by law and as required by the primary functions of their office, the citation of Cabinet members (then called Ministers) as examples
during the debate and deliberation on the general rule laid down for all appointive officials should be considered as mere personal opinions which
cannot override the constitution's manifest intent and the people' understanding thereof.
In the light of the construction given to Section 13, Article VII in relation to Section 7, par. (2), Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution, Executive
Order No. 284 dated July 23, 1987 is unconstitutional. Ostensibly restricting the number of positions that Cabinet members, undersecretaries or
assistant secretaries may hold in addition to their primary position to not more than two (2) positions in the government and government
corporations, Executive Order No. 284 actually allows them to hold multiple offices or employment in direct contravention of the express
mandate of Section 13, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution prohibiting them from doing so, unless otherwise provided in the 1987 Constitution
itself.
The Court is alerted by respondents to the impractical consequences that will result from a strict application of the prohibition mandated under
Section 13, Article VII on the operations of the Government, considering that Cabinet members would be stripped of their offices held in an exofficio capacity, by reason of their primary positions or by virtue of legislation. As earlier clarified in this decision, ex-officio posts held by the
executive official concerned without additional compensation as provided by law and as required by the primary functions of his office do not fall
under the definition of "any other office" within the contemplation of the constitutional prohibition. With respect to other offices or employment
held by virtue of legislation, including chairmanships or directorships in government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries,
suffice it to say that the feared impractical consequences are more apparent than real. Being head of an executive department is no mean job. It is
more than a full-time job, requiring full attention, specialized knowledge, skills and expertise. If maximum benefits are to be derived from a
department head's ability and expertise, he should be allowed to attend to his duties and responsibilities without the distraction of other
governmental offices or employment. He should be precluded from dissipating his efforts, attention and energy among too many positions of
responsibility, which may result in haphazardness and inefficiency. Surely the advantages to be derived from this concentration of attention,
knowledge and expertise, particularly at this stage of our national and economic development, far outweigh the benefits, if any, that may be
gained from a department head spreading himself too thin and taking in more than what he can handle.
Finding Executive Order No. 284 to be constitutionally infirm, the court hereby orders respondents Secretary of Environment and Natural
Resources Fulgencio Factoran, Jr., Secretary of Local Government 45 Luis Santos, Secretary of National Defense Fidel V. Ramos, Secretary of
Health Alfredo R.A. Bengzon and Secretary of the Budget Guillermo Carague to immediately relinquish their other offices or employment, as
herein defined, in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries. With respect to the other named
respondents, the petitions have become moot and academic as they are no longer occupying the positions complained of.
During their tenure in the questioned positions, respondents may be considered de facto officers and as such entitled to emoluments for actual
services rendered. 46 It has been held that "in cases where there is no de jure, officer, a de facto officer, who, in good faith has had possession of
the office and has discharged the duties pertaining thereto, is legally entitled to the emoluments of the office, and may in an appropriate action
recover the salary, fees and other compensations attached to the office. This doctrine is, undoubtedly, supported on equitable grounds since it
seems unjust that the public should benefit by the services of an officer de facto and then be freed from all liability to pay any one for such
services. 47 Any per diem, allowances or other emoluments received by the respondents by virtue of actual services rendered in the questioned
positions may therefore be retained by them.
WHEREFORE, subject to the qualification above-stated, the petitions are GRANTED. Executive Order No. 284 is hereby declared null and void
and is accordingly set aside.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 88831

November 8, 1990

15

MATEO CAASI, petitioner,


vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and MERITO C. MIGUEL, respondents.
G.R. No. 84508

November 13, 1990

ANECITO CASCANTE petitioner,


vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and MERITO C. MIGUEL, respondents.
Ireneo B. Orlino for petitioner in G.R. Nos. 88831 & 84508.
Montemayor & Montemayor Law Office for private respondent.

GRIO-AQUINO, J.:
These two cases were consolidated because they have the same objective; the disqualification under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code of
the private respondent, Merito Miguel for the position of municipal mayor of Bolinao, Pangasinan, to which he was elected in the local elections
of January 18, 1988, on the ground that he is a green card holder, hence, a permanent resident of the United States of America, not of Bolinao.
G.R. No. 84508 is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision dated January 13, 1988 of the COMELEC First Division, dismissing the three
(3) petitions of Anecito Cascante (SPC No. 87-551), Cederico Catabay (SPC No. 87-595) and Josefino C. Celeste (SPC No. 87-604), for the
disqualification of Merito C. Miguel filed prior to the local elections on January 18, 1988.
G.R. No. 88831, Mateo Caasi vs. Court of Appeals, et al., is a petition for review of the decision dated June 21, 1989, of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 14531 dismissing the petition for quo warranto filed by Mateo Caasi, a rival candidate for the position of municipal mayor of
Bolinao, Pangasinan, also to disqualify Merito Miguel on account of his being a green card holder.
In his answer to both petitions, Miguel admitted that he holds a green card issued to him by the US Immigration Service, but he denied that he is
a permanent resident of the United States. He allegedly obtained the green card for convenience in order that he may freely enter the United
States for his periodic medical examination and to visit his children there. He alleged that he is a permanent resident of Bolinao, Pangasinan, that
he voted in all previous elections, including the plebiscite on February 2,1987 for the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, and the congressional
elections on May 18,1987.
After hearing the consolidated petitions before it, the COMELEC with the exception of Commissioner Anacleto Badoy, Jr., dismissed the
petitions on the ground that:
The possession of a green card by the respondent (Miguel) does not sufficiently establish that he has abandoned his residence in the Philippines.
On the contrary, inspite (sic) of his green card, Respondent has sufficiently indicated his intention to continuously reside in Bolinao as shown by
his having voted in successive elections in said municipality. As the respondent meets the basic requirements of citizenship and residence for
candidates to elective local officials (sic) as provided for in Section 42 of the Local Government Code, there is no legal obstacle to his candidacy
for mayor of Bolinao, Pangasinan. (p. 12, Rollo, G.R. No. 84508).
In his dissenting opinion, Commissioner Badoy, Jr. opined that:
A green card holder being a permanent resident of or an immigrant of a foreign country and respondent having admitted that he is a green card
holder, it is incumbent upon him, under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, to prove that he "has waived his status as a permanent resident
or immigrant" to be qualified to run for elected office. This respondent has not done. (p. 13, Rollo, G.R. No. 84508.)
In G.R. No. 88831, "Mateo Caasi, petitioner vs. Court of Appeals and Merito Miguel, respondents," the petitioner prays for a review of the
decision dated June 21, 1989 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 14531 "Merito C. Miguel, petitioner vs. Hon. Artemio R. Corpus, etc.,
respondents," reversing the decision of the Regional Trial Court which denied Miguel's motion to dismiss the petition for quo warranto filed by
Caasi. The Court of Appeals ordered the regional trial court to dismiss and desist from further proceeding in the quo warranto case. The Court of
Appeals held:
... it is pointless for the Regional Trial Court to hear the case questioning the qualification of the petitioner as resident of the Philippines, after the
COMELEC has ruled that the petitioner meets the very basic requirements of citizenship and residence for candidates to elective local officials
(sic) and that there is no legal obstacles (sic) for the candidacy of the petitioner, considering that decisions of the Regional Trial Courts on quo
warranto cases under the Election Code are appealable to the COMELEC. (p. 22, Rollo, G.R. No. 88831.)
These two cases pose the twin issues of: (1) whether or not a green card is proof that the holder is a permanent resident of the United States, and
(2) whether respondent Miguel had waived his status as a permanent resident of or immigrant to the U.S.A. prior to the local elections on January
18, 1988.

16

Section 18, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution 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.
In the same vein, but not quite, Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines (B.P. Blg. 881) provides:
SEC. 68. Disqualifications ... Any person who is a permanent resident of or an immigrant to a foreign country shall not be qualified to run for
any elective office under this Code, unless said person has waived his status as permanent resident or immigrant of a foreign country in
accordance with the residence requirement provided for in the election laws. (Sec. 25, 1971, EC).
In view of current rumor that a good number of elective and appointive public officials in the present administration of President Corazon C.
Aquino are holders of green cards in foreign countries, their effect on the holders' right to hold elective public office in the Philippines is a
question that excites much interest in the outcome of this case.
In the case of Merito Miguel, the Court deems it significant that in the "Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration" (Optional Form
No. 230, Department of State) which Miguel filled up in his own handwriting and submitted to the US Embassy in Manila before his departure
for the United States in 1984, Miguel's answer to Question No. 21 therein regarding his "Length of intended stay (if permanently, so state),"
Miguel's answer was, "Permanently."
On its face, the green card that was subsequently issued by the United States Department of Justice and Immigration and Registration Service to
the respondent Merito C. Miguel identifies him in clear bold letters as a RESIDENT ALIEN. On the back of the card, the upper portion, the
following information is printed:
Alien Registration Receipt Card.
Person identified by this card is entitled to reside permanently and work in the United States." (Annex A pp. 189-190, Rollo of G.R. No. 84508.)
Despite his vigorous disclaimer, Miguel's immigration to the United States in 1984 constituted an abandonment of his domicile and residence in
the Philippines. For he did not go to the United States merely to visit his children or his doctor there; he entered the limited States with the
intention to have there permanently as evidenced by his application for an immigrant's (not a visitor's or tourist's) visa. Based on that application
of his, he was issued by the U.S. Government the requisite green card or authority to reside there permanently.
Immigration is the removing into one place from another; the act of immigrating the entering into a country with the intention of residing in it.
An immigrant is a person who removes into a country for the purpose of permanent residence. As shown infra 84, however, statutes sometimes
give a broader meaning to the term "immigrant." (3 CJS 674.)
As a resident alien in the U.S., Miguel owes temporary and local allegiance to the U.S., the country in which he resides (3 CJS 527). This is in
return for the protection given to him during the period of his residence therein.
Aliens reading in the limited States, while they are permitted to remain, are in general entitled to the protection of the laws with regard to their
rights of person and property and to their civil and criminal responsibility.
In general, aliens residing in the United States, while they are permitted to remain are entitled to the safeguards of the constitution with regard to
their rights of person and property and to their civil and criminal responsibility. Thus resident alien friends are entitled to the benefit of the
provision of the Fourteenth Amendment to the federal constitution that no state shall deprive "any person" of life liberty, or property without due
process of law, or deny to any person the equal protection of the law, and the protection of this amendment extends to the right to earn a
livelihood by following the ordinary occupations of life. So an alien is entitled to the protection of the provision of the Fifth Amendment to the
federal constitution that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. (3 CJS 529-530.)
Section 18, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution which provides that "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" is not applicable to Merito Miguel for he
acquired the status of an immigrant of the United States before he was elected to public office, not "during his tenure" as mayor of Bolinao,
Pangasinan.
The law applicable to him is Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code (B.P. Blg. 881), which provides:
xxx

xxx

xxx

Any person who is a permanent resident of or an immigrant to a foreign country shall not be qualified to run for any elective office under this
Code, unless such person has waived his status as permanent resident or immigrant of a foreign country in accordance with the residence
requirement provided for in the election laws.'

17

Did Miguel, by returning to the Philippines in November 1987 and presenting himself as a candidate for mayor of Bolinao in the January 18,1988
local elections, waive his status as a permanent resident or immigrant of the United States?
To be "qualified to run for elective office" in the Philippines, the law requires that the candidate who is a green card holder must have "waived his
status as a permanent resident or immigrant of a foreign country." Therefore, his act of filing a certificate of candidacy for elective office in the
Philippines, did not of itself constitute a waiver of his status as a permanent resident or immigrant of the United States. The waiver of his green
card should be manifested by some act or acts independent of and done prior to filing his candidacy for elective office in this country. Without
such prior waiver, he was "disqualified to run for any elective office" (Sec. 68, Omnibus Election Code).
Respondent Merito Miguel admits that he holds a green card, which proves that he is a permanent resident or immigrant it of the United States,
but the records of this case are starkly bare of proof that he had waived his status as such before he ran for election as municipal mayor of Bolinao
on January 18, 1988. We, therefore, hold that he was disqualified to become a candidate for that office.
The reason for Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code is not hard to find. Residence in the municipality where he intends to run for elective
office for at least one (1) year at the time of filing his certificate of candidacy, is one of the qualifications that a candidate for elective public
office must possess (Sec. 42, Chap. 1, Title 2, Local Government Code). Miguel did not possess that qualification because he was a permanent
resident of the United States and he resided in Bolinao for a period of only three (3) months (not one year) after his return to the Philippines in
November 1987 and before he ran for mayor of that municipality on January 18, 1988.
In banning from elective public office Philippine citizens who are permanent residents or immigrants of a foreign country, the Omnibus Election
Code has laid down a clear policy of excluding from the right to hold elective public office those Philippine citizens who possess dual loyalties
and allegiance. The law has reserved that privilege for its citizens who have cast their lot with our country "without mental reservations or
purpose of evasion." The assumption is that those who are resident aliens of a foreign country are incapable of such entire devotion to the interest
and welfare of their homeland for with one eye on their public duties here, they must keep another eye on their duties under the laws of the
foreign country of their choice in order to preserve their status as permanent residents thereof.
Miguel insists that even though he applied for immigration and permanent residence in the United States, he never really intended to live there
permanently, for all that he wanted was a green card to enable him to come and go to the U.S. with ease. In other words, he would have this Court
believe that he applied for immigration to the U.S. under false pretenses; that all this time he only had one foot in the United States but kept his
other foot in the Philippines. Even if that were true, this Court will not allow itself to be a party to his duplicity by permitting him to benefit from
it, and giving him the best of both worlds so to speak.
Miguel's application for immigrant status and permanent residence in the U.S. and his possession of a green card attesting to such status are
conclusive proof that he is a permanent resident of the U.S. despite his occasional visits to the Philippines. The waiver of such immigrant status
should be as indubitable as his application for it. Absent clear evidence that he made an irrevocable waiver of that status or that he surrendered his
green card to the appropriate U.S. authorities before he ran for mayor of Bolinao in the local elections on January 18, 1988, our conclusion is that
he was disqualified to run for said public office, hence, his election thereto was null and void.
WHEREFORE, the appealed orders of the COMELEC and the Court of Appeals in SPC Nos. 87-551, 87-595 and 87-604, and CA-G.R. SP No.
14531 respectively, are hereby set aside. The election of respondent Merito C. Miguel as municipal mayor of Bolinao, Pangasinan is hereby
annulled. Costs against the said respondent.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
[G.R. No. 120295. June 28, 1996]
JUAN G. FRIVALDO, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and RAUL R. LEE, respondents.
[G.R. No. 123755. June 28, 1996]
RAUL R. LEE, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and JUAN G. FRIVALDO, respondents.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
The ultimate question posed before this Court in these twin cases is: Who should be declared the rightful governor of Sorsogon
(i) Juan G. Frivaldo, who unquestionably obtained the highest number of votes in three successive elections but who was twice declared by this
Court to be disqualified to hold such office due to his alien citizenship, and who now claims to have re-assumed his lost Philippine citizenship
thru repatriation;
(ii) Raul R. Lee, who was the second placer in the canvass, but who claims that the votes cast in favor of Frivaldo should be considered void; that
the electorate should be deemed to have intentionally thrown away their ballots; and that legally, he secured the most number of valid votes; or

18

(iii) The incumbent Vice-Governor, Oscar G. Deri, who obviously was not voted directly to the position of governor, but who according to
prevailing jurisprudence should take over the said post inasmuch as, by the ineligibility of Frivaldo, a "permanent vacancy in the contested office
has occurred"?
In ruling for Frivaldo, the Court lays down new doctrines on repatriation, clarifies/reiterates/amplifies existing jurisprudence on citizenship and
elections, and upholds the superiority of substantial justice over pure legalisms.
G.R. No. 123755.
This is a special civil action under Rules 65 and 58 of the Rules of Court for certiorari and preliminary injunction to review and annul a
Resolution of the respondent Commission on Elections (Comelec), First Division,1 promulgated on December 19,19952 and another Resolution
of the Comelec en bane promulgated February 23, 19963 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
The Facts
On March 20, 1995, private respondent Juan G. Frivaldo filed his Certificate of Candidacy for the office of Governor of Sorsogon in the May 8,
1995 elections. On March 23, 1995, petitioner Raul R. Lee, another candidate, filed a petition4 with the Comelec docketed as SPA No. 95-028
praying that Frivaldo "be disqualified from seeking or holding any public office or position by reason of not yet being a citizen of the
Philippines," and that his Certificate of Candidacy be cancelled. On May 1, 1995, the Second Division of the Comelec promulgated a Resolution5
granting the petition with the following disposition:6
"WHEREFORE, this Division resolves to GRANT the petition and declares that respondent is DISQUALIFIED to run for the Office of Governor
of Sorsogon on the ground that he is NOT a citizen of the Philippines. Accordingly, respondent's certificate of candidacy is cancelled."
The Motion for Reconsideration filed by Frivaldo remained unacted upon until after the May 8, 1995 elections. So, his candidacy continued and
he was voted for during the elections held on said date. On May 11, 1995, the Comelec en banc7 affirmed the aforementioned Resolution of the
Second Division.
The Provincial Board of Canvassers completed the canvass of the election returns and a Certificate of Votes8.dated May 27, 1995 was issued
showing the following votes obtained by the candidates for the position of Governor of Sorsogon:
Antonio H. Escudero, Jr. 51,060
Juan G. Frivaldo 73,440
RaulR.Lee 53,304
Isagani P. Ocampo 1,925
On June 9, 1995, Lee filed in said SPA No. 95-028, a (supplemental) petition9 praying for his proclamation as the duly-elected Governor of
Sorsogon.
In an order10 dated June 21, 1995, but promulgated according to the petition "only on June 29, 1995," the Comelec en bane directed "the
Provincial Board of Canvassers of Sorsogon to reconvene for the purpose of proclaiming candidate Raul Lee as the winning gubernatorial
candidate in the province of Sorsogon on June 29,1995 x x x." Accordingly, at 8:30 in the evening of June 30,1995, Lee was proclaimed governor
of Sorsogon.
On July 6, 1995, Frivaldo filed with the Comelec a new petition,11 docketed as SPC No. 95-317, praying for the annulment of the June 30, 1995
proclamation of Lee and for his own proclamation. He alleged that on June 30, 1995, at 2:00 in the afternoon, he took his oath of allegiance as a
citizen of the Philippines after "his petition for repatriation under P.D. 725 which he filed with the Special Committee on Naturalization in
September 1994 had been granted." As such, when "the said order (dated June 21, 1995) (of the Comelec) x x x was released and received by
Frivaldo on June 30, 1995 at 5:30 o'clock in the evening, there was no more legal impediment to the proclamation (of Frivaldo) as governor x x
x." In the alternative, he averred that pursuant to the two cases of Labo vs. Comelec,12 the Vice-Governor not Lee should occupy said position of
governor.
On December 19, 1995, the Comelec First Division promulgated the herein assailed Resolution13 holding that Lee, "not having garnered the
highest number of votes," was not legally entitled to be proclaimed as duly-elected governor; and that Frivaldo, "having garnered the highest
number of votes, and xxx having reacquired his Filipino citizenship by repatriation on June 30, 1995 under the provisions of Presidential Decree
No. 725 xxx (is) qualified to hold the office of governor of Sorsogon"; thus:
"PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Commission (First Division), therefore RESOLVES to GRANT the Petition.
Consistent with the decisions of the Supreme Court, the proclamation of Raul R. Lee as Governor of Sorsogon is hereby ordered annulled, being
contrary to law, he not having garnered the highest number of votes to warrant his proclamation.

19

Upon the finality of the annulment of the proclamation of Raul R. Lee, the Provincial Board of Canvassers is directed to immediately reconvene
and, on the basis of the completed canvass, proclaim petitioner Juan G. Frivaldo as the duly elected Governor of Sorsogon having garnered the
highest number of votes, and he having reacquired his Filipino citizenship by repatriation on June 30,1995 under the provisions of Presidential
Decree No. 725 and, thus, qualified to hold the office of Governor of Sorsogon.
Conformably with Section 260 of the Omnibus Election Code (B.P. Blg. 881), the Clerk of the Commission is directed to notify His Excellency
the President of the Philippines, and the Secretary of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Sorsogon of this resolution immediately
upon the due implementation thereof."
On December 26,1995, Lee filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the Comelec en banc in its Resolution14 promulgated on
February 23, 1996. On February 26, 1996, the present petition was filed. Acting on the prayer for a temporary restraining order, this Court issued
on February 27, 1996 a Resolution which inter alia directed the parties "to maintain the status quo prevailing prior to the filing of this petition."
The Issues in G.R. No. 123755
Petitioner Lee's "position on the matter at hand briefly be capsulized in the following propositions":15
"First - The initiatory petition below was so far insufficient in form and substance to warrant the exercise by the COMELEC of its jurisdiction
with the result that, in effect, the COMELEC acted without jurisdiction in taking cognizance of and deciding said petition;
Second- The judicially declared disqualification of respondent was a continuing condition and rendered him ineligible to run for, to be elected to
and to hold the Office of Governor;
Third - The alleged repatriation of respondent was neither valid nor is the effect thereof retroactive as to cure his ineligibility and qualify him to
hold the Office of Governor; and
Fourth - Correctly read and applied, the Labo Doctrine fully supports the validity of petitioner's proclamation as duly elected Governor of
Sorsogon."
G.R. No. 120295
This is a petition to annul three Resolutions of the respondent Comelec, the first two of which are also at issue in G.R. No. 123755, as follows:
1. Resolution16 of the Second Division, promulgated on May 1, 1995, disqualifying Frivaldo from running for governor of Sorsogon in the May
8, 1995 elections "on the ground that he is not a citizen of the Philippines";
2. Resolution17 of the Comelec en bane, promulgated on May 11, 1995; and
3. Resolution18 of the Comelec en bane, promulgated also on May 11, 1995 suspending the proclamation of, among others, Frivaldo.
The Facts and the Issue
The facts of this case are essentially the same as those in G.R. No. 123755. However, Frivaldo assails the above-mentioned resolutions on a
different ground: that under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, which is reproduced hereinunder:
"Section 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 notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election." (Italics supplied.)
the Comelec had no jurisdiction to issue said Resolutions because they were not rendered "within the period allowed by law," i.e., "not later than
fifteen days before the election."
Otherwise stated, Frivaldo contends that the failure of the Comelec to act on the petition for disqualification within the period of fifteen days prior
to the election as provided by law is a jurisdictional defect which renders the said Resolutions null and void.
By Resolution on March 12, 1996, the Court consolidated G.R. Nos. 120295 and 123755 since they are intimately related in their factual
environment and are identical in the ultimate question raised, viz., who should occupy the position of governor of the province of Sorsogon.
On March 19, 1995, the Court heard oral argument from the parties and required them thereafter to file simultaneously their respective
memoranda.
The Consolidated Issues

20

From the foregoing submissions, the consolidated issues may be restated as follows:
1. Was the repatriation of Frivaldo valid and legal? If so, did it seasonably cure his lack of citizenship as to qualify him to be proclaimed and to
hold the Office of Governor? If not, may it be given retroactive effect? If so, from when?
2. Is Frivaldo's "judicially declared" disqualification for lack of Filipino citizenship a continuing bar to his eligibility to run for, be elected to or
hold the governorship of Sorsogon?
3. Did the respondent Comelec have jurisdiction over the initiatory petition in SPC No. 95-317 considering that : said petition is not "a preproclamation case, an election protest or a quo warranto case"?
4. Was the proclamation of Lee, a runner-up in the election, valid and legal in light of existing jurisprudence?
5. Did the respondent Commission on Elections exceed its jurisdiction in promulgating the assailed Resolutions, all of which prevented Frivaldo
from assuming the governorship of Sorsogon, considering that they were not rendered within ( the period referred to in Section 78 of the
Omnibus Election Code, viz., "not later than fifteen days before the elections"?
The First Issue: Frivaldo's Repatriation
The validity and effectivity of Frivaldo's repatriation is the lis mota, the threshold legal issue in this case. All the other matters raised are
secondary to this.
The Local Government Code of 199119 expressly requires Philippine citizenship as a qualification for elective local officials, including that of
provincial governor, thus:
"Sec. 39. Qualifications. (a) An elective local official must be a citizen of the Philippines; a registered voter in the barangay, municipality, city, or
province or, in the case of a member of the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang panlungsod, or sangguniang bayan, the district where he
intends to be elected; a resident therein for at least one (1) year immediately preceding the day of the election; and able to read and write Filipino
or any other local language or dialect.
(b) Candidates for the position of governor, vice governor or member of the sangguniang panlalawigan, or mayor, vice mayor or member of the
sangguniang panlungsod of highly urbanized cities must be at least twenty-three (23) years of age on election day.
xxx xxx xxx
Inasmuch as Frivaldo had been declared by this Court20 as a non-citizen, it is therefore incumbent upon him to show that he has reacquired
citizenship; in fine, that he possesses the qualifications prescribed under the said statute (R. A. 7160).
Under Philippine law,21 citizenship may be reacquired by direct act of Congress, by naturalization or by repatriation. Frivaldo told this Court in
G.R. No. 10465422 and during the oral argument in this case that he tried to resume his citizenship by direct act of Congress, but that the bill
allowing him to do so "failed to materialize, notwithstanding the endorsement of several members of the House of Representatives" due,
according to him, to the "maneuvers of his political rivals." In the same case, his attempt at naturalization was rejected by this Court because of
jurisdictional, substantial and procedural defects.
Despite his lack of Philippine citizenship, Frivaldo was overwhelmingly elected governor by the electorate of Sorsogon, with a margin of 27,000
votes in the 1988 elections, 57,000 in 1992, and 20,000 in 1995 over the same opponent Raul Lee. Twice, he was judicially declared a nonFilipino and thus twice disqualified from holding and discharging his popular mandate. Now, he comes to us a third time, with a fresh vote from
the people of Sorsogon and a favorable decision from the Commission on Elections to boot. Moreover, he now boasts of having successfully
passed through the third and last mode of reacquiring citizenship: by repatriation under P.D. No. 725, with no less than the Solicitor General
himself, who was the prime opposing counsel in the previous cases he lost, this time, as counsel for co-respondent Comelec, arguing the validity
of his cause (in addition to his able private counsel Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr.). That he took his oath of allegiance under the provisions of said Decree
at 2:00 p.m. on June 30, 1995 is not disputed. Hence, he insists that henot Leeshould have been proclaimed as the duly-elected governor of
Sorsogon when the Provincial Board of Canvassers met at 8:30 p.m. on the said date since, clearly and unquestionably, he garnered the highest
number of votes in the elections and since at that time, he already reacquired his citizenship.
En contrario, Lee argues that Frivaldo's repatriation is tainted ; with serious defects, which we shall now discuss in seriatim.
First, Lee tells us that P.D. No. 725 had "been effectively repealed," asserting that "then President Corazon Aquino exercising legislative powers
under the Transitory Provisions of the 1987 Constitution, forbade the grant of citizenship by Presidential Decree or Executive Issuances as the
same poses a serious and contentious issue of policy which the present government, in the exercise of prudence and sound discretion, should best
leave to the judgment of the first Congress under the 1987 Constitution," adding that in her memorandum dated March 27,1987 to the members of
the Special Committee on Naturalization constituted for purposes of Presidential Decree No. 725, President Aquino directed them "to cease and
desist from undertaking any and all proceedings within your functional area of responsibility as defined under Letter of Instructions (LOI) No.
270 dated April 11, 1975, as amended."23

21

This memorandum dated March 27, 198724 cannot by any stretch of legal hermeneutics be construed as a law sanctioning or authorizing a repeal
of P.D. No. 725. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones25 and a repeal may be express or implied. It is obvious that no express repeal was
made because then President Aquino in her memorandum based on the copy furnished us by Lee did not categorically and/or impliedly state that
P.D. 725 was being repealed or was being rendered without any legal effect. In fact, she did not even mention it specifically by its number or text.
On the other hand, it is a basic rule of statutory construction that repeals by implication are not favored. An implied repeal will not be allowed
"unless it is convincingly and unambiguously demonstrated that the two laws are clearly repugnant and patently inconsistent that they cannot coexist."26
The memorandum of then President Aquino cannot even be regarded as a legislative enactment, for not every pronouncement of the Chief
Executive even under the Transitory Provisions of the 1987 Constitution can nor should be regarded as an exercise of her law-making powers. At
best, it could be treated as an executive policy addressed to the Special Committee to halt the acceptance and processing of applications for
repatriation pending whatever "judgment the first Congress under the 1987 Constitution" might make. In other words, the former President did
not repeal P.D. 725 but left it to the first Congress once createdto deal with the matter. If she had intended to repeal such law, she should have
unequivocally said so instead of referring the matter to Congress. The fact is she carefully couched her presidential issuance in terms that clearly
indicated the intention of "the present government, in the exercise of prudence and sound discretion" to leave the matter of repeal to the new
Congress. Any other interpretation of the said Presidential Memorandum, such as is now being proffered to the Court by Lee, would visit
unmitigated violence not only upon statutory construction but on common sense as well.
Second. Lee also argues that "serious congenital irregularities flawed the repatriation proceedings," asserting that Frivaldo's application therefor
was "filed on June 29, 1995 x x x (and) was approved in just one day or on June 30, 1995 x x x," which "prevented a judicious review and
evaluation of the merits thereof." Frivaldo counters that he filed his application for repatriation with the Office of the President in Malacanang
Palace on August 17, 1994. This is confirmed by the Solicitor General. However, the Special Committee was reactivated only on June 8, 1995,
when presumably the said Committee started processing his application. On June 29, 1995, he filled up and re-submitted the FORM that the
Committee required. Under these circumstances, it could not be said that there was "indecent haste" in the processing of his application.
Anent Lee's charge that the "sudden reconstitution of the Special Committee on Naturalization was intended solely for the personal interest of
respondent,"27 the Solicitor General explained during the oral argument on March 19, 1996 that such allegation is simply baseless as there were
many others who applied and were considered for repatriation, a list of whom was submitted by him to this Court, through a Manifestation28
filed on April 3, 1996.
On the basis of the parties' submissions, we are convinced that the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty and the
presumption of legality in the repatriation of Frivaldo have not been successfully rebutted by Lee. The mere fact that the proceedings were
speeded up is by itself not a ground to conclude that such proceedings were necessarily tainted. After all, the requirements of repatriation under
P.D. No. 725 are not difficult to comply with, nor are they tedious and cumbersome. In fact, P.D. 72529 itself requires very little of an applicant,
and even the rules and regulations to implement the said decree were left to the Special Committee to promulgate. This is not unusual since,
unlike in naturalization where an alien covets a first-time entry into Philippine political life, in repatriation the applicant is a former natural-born
Filipino who is merely seeking to reacquire his previous citizenship. In the case of Frivaldo, he was undoubtedly a natural-born citizen who
openly and faithfully served his country and his province prior to his naturalization in the United States a naturalization he insists was made
necessary only to escape the iron clutches of a dictatorship he abhorred and could not in conscience embrace and who, after the fall of the dictator
and the re-establishment of democratic space, wasted no time in returning to his country of birth to offer once more his talent and services to his
people.
So too, the fact that ten other persons, as certified to by the Solicitor General, were granted repatriation argues convincingly and conclusively
against the existence of favoritism vehemently posited by Raul Lee. At any rate, any contest on the legality of Frivaldo's repatriation should have
been pursued before the Committee itself, and, failing there, in the Office of the President, pursuant to the doctrine of exhaustion of
administrative remedies.
Third. Lee further contends that assuming the assailed repatriation to be valid, nevertheless it could only be effective as at 2:00 p.m. of June 30,
1995 whereas the citizenship qualification prescribed by the Local Government Code "must exist on the date of his election, if not when the
certificate of candidacy is filed," citing our decision in G.R. 10465430 which held that "both the Local Government Code and the Constitution
require that only Philippine citizens can run and be elected to Public office" Obviously, however, this was a mere obiter as the only issue in said
case was whether Frivaldo's naturalization was valid or not and NOT the effective date thereof. Since the Court held his naturalization to be
invalid, then the issue of when an aspirant for public office should be a citizen was NOT resolved at all by the Court. Which question we shall
now directly rule on.
Under Sec. 39 of the Local Government Code, "(a)n elective local official must be:
* a citizen of the Philippines;
* a registered voter in the barangay, municipality, city, or province x x x where he intends to be elected;
* a resident therein for at least one (1) year immediately preceding the day of the election;
* able to read and write Filipino or any other local language or dialect."

22

* In addition, "candidates for the position of governor x x x must be at least twenty-three (23) years of age on election day."
From the above, it will be noted that the law does not specify any particular date or time when the candidate must possess citizenship, unlike that
for residence (which must consist of at least one year's residency immediately preceding the day of election) and age (at least twenty three years
of age on election day).
Philippine citizenship is an indispensable requirement for holding an elective public office,31 and the purpose of the citizenship qualification is
none other than to ensure that no alien, i.e., no person owing allegiance to another nation, shall govern our people and our country or a unit of
territory thereof. Now, an official begins to govern or to discharge his functions only upon his proclamation and on the day the law mandates his
term of office to begin. Since Frivaldo re-assumed his citizenship on June 30, 1995the very day32 the term of office of governor (and other
elective officials) beganhe was therefore already qualified to be proclaimed, to hold such office and to discharge the functions and responsibilities
thereof as of said date. In short, at that time, he was already qualified to govern his native Sorsogon. This is the liberal interpretation that should
give spirit, life and meaning to our law on qualifications consistent with the purpose for which such law was enacted. So too, even from a literal
(as distinguished from liberal) construction, it should be noted that Section 39 of the Local Government Code speaks of "Qualifications" of
"ELECTIVE OFFICIALS," not of candidates. Why then should such qualification be required at the time of election or at the time of the filing of
the certificates of candidacies, as Lee insists? Literally, such qualifications unless otherwise expressly conditioned, as in the case of age and
residence should thus be possessed when the "elective [or elected] official" begins to govern, i.e., at the time he is proclaimed and at the start of
his term in this case, on June 30, 1995. Paraphrasing this Court's ruling in Vasquez vs. Giapand Li Seng Giap & Sons,33 if the purpose of the
citizenship requirement is to ensure that our people and country do not end up being governed by aliens, i.e., persons owing allegiance to another
nation, that aim or purpose would not be thwarted but instead achieved by construing the citizenship qualification as applying to the time of
proclamation of the elected official and at the start of his term.
But perhaps the more difficult objection was the one raised during the oral argument34 to the effect that the citizenship qualification should be
possessed at the time the candidate (or for that matter the elected official) registered as a voter. After all, Section 39, apart from requiring the
official to be a citizen, also specifies as another item of qualification, that he be a "registered voter." And, under the law35 a "voter" must be a
citizen of the Philippines. So therefore, Frivaldo could not have been a voter-much less a validly registered one if he was not a citizen at the time
of such registration.
The answer to this problem again lies in discerning the purpose of the requirement. If the law intended the citizenship qualification to be
possessed prior to election consistent with the requirement of being a registered voter, then it would not have made citizenship a SEPARATE
qualification. The law abhors a redundancy. It therefore stands to reason that the law intended CITIZENSHIP to be a qualification distinct from
being a VOTER, even if being a voter presumes being a citizen first. It also stands to reason that the voter requirement was included as another
qualification (aside from "citizenship"), not to reiterate the need for nationality but to require that the official be registered as a voter IN THE
AREA OR TERRITORY he seeks to govern, i.e., the law states: "a registered voter in the barangay, municipality, city, or province x x x where he
intends to be elected." It should be emphasized that the Local Government Code requires an elective official to be a registered voter. It does not
require him to vote actually. Hence, registrationnot the actual votingis the core of this "qualification." In other words, the law's purpose in this
second requirement is to ensure that the prospective official is actually registered in the area he seeks to govern and not anywhere else.
Before this Court, Frivaldo has repeatedly emphasizedand Lee has not disputed that he "was and is a registered voter of Sorsogon, and his
registration as a voter has been sustained as valid by judicial declaration x x x In fact, he cast his vote in his precinct on May 8, 1995."36
So too, during the oral argument, his counsel stead-fastly maintained that "Mr. Frivaldo has always been a registered voter of Sorsogon. He has
voted in 1987,1988,1992, then he voted again in 1995. In fact, his eligibility as a voter was questioned, but the court dismissed (sic) his eligibility
as a voter and he was allowed to vote as in fact, he voted in all the previous elections including on May 8,1995.37
It is thus clear that Frivaldo is a registered voter in the province where he intended to be elected.
There is yet another reason why the prime issue of citizenship should be reckoned from the date of proclamation, not necessarily the date of
election or date of filing of the certificate of candidacy. Section 253 of the Omnibus Election Code38 gives any voter, presumably including the
defeated candidate, the opportunity to question the ELIGIBILITY (or the disloyalty) of a candidate. This is the only provision of the Code that
authorizes a remedy on how to contest before the Comelec an incumbent's ineligibility arising from failure to meet the qualifications enumerated
under Sec. 39 of the Local Government Code. Such remedy of Quo Warranto can be availed of "within ten days after proclamation" of the
winning candidate. Hence, it is only at such time that the issue of ineligibility may be taken cognizance of by the Commission. And since, at the
very moment of Lee's proclamation (8:30 p.m., June 30, 1995), Juan G. Frivaldo was already and indubitably a citizen, having taken his oath of
allegiance earlier in the afternoon of the same day, then he should have been the candidate proclaimed as he unquestionably garnered the highest
number of votes in the immediately preceding elections and such oath had already cured his previous "judicially-declared" alienage. Hence, at
such time, he was no longer ineligible.
But to remove all doubts on this important issue, we also hold that the repatriation of Frivaldo RETRO ACTED to the date of the filing of his
application on August 17,1994.
It is true that under the Civil Code of the Philippines,39 "(l)aws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided." But there are
settled exceptions40 to this general rule, such as when the statute is CURATIVE or REMEDIAL in nature or when it CREATES NEW RIGHTS.

23

According to Tolentino,41 curative statutes are those which undertake to cure errors and irregularities, thereby validating judicial or
administrative proceedings, acts of public officers, or private deeds and contracts which otherwise would not produce their intended
consequences by reason of some statutory disability or failure to comply with some technical requirement. They operate on conditions already
existing, and are necessarily retroactive in operation. Agpalo,42 on the other hand, says that curative statutes are "healing acts x x x curing defects
and adding to the means of enforcing existing obligations x x x (and) are intended to supply defects, abridge superfluities in existing laws, and
curb certain evils x x x By their very nature, curative statutes are retroactive xxx (and) reach back to past events to correct errors or irregularities
and to render valid and effective attempted acts which would be otherwise ineffective for the purpose the parties intended."
On the other hand, remedial or procedural laws, i.e., those statutes relating to remedies or modes of procedure, which do not create new or take
away vested rights, but only operate in furtherance of the remedy or confirmation of such rights, ordinarily do not come within the legal meaning
of a retrospective law, nor within the general rule against the retrospective operation of statutes.43
A reading of P.D. 725 immediately shows that it creates a new right, and also provides for a new remedy, thereby filling certain voids in our laws.
Thus, in its preamble, P.D. 725 expressly recognizes the plight of "many Filipino women (who) had lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage
to aliens" and who could not, under the existing law (C. A. No. 63, as amended) avail of repatriation until "after the death of their husbands or the
termination of their marital status" and who could neither be benefitted by the 1973 Constitution's new provision allowing "a Filipino woman
who marries an alien to retain her Philippine citizenship xxx" because "such provision of the new Constitution does not apply to Filipino women
who had married aliens before said constitution took effect." Thus, P.D. 725 granted a new right to these womenthe right to re-acquire Filipino
citizenship even during their marital coverture, which right did not exist prior to P.D. 725. On the other hand, said statute also provided a new
remedy and a new right in favor of other "natural born Filipinos who (had) lost their Philippine citizenship but now desire to re-acquire Philippine
citizenship," because prior to the promulgation of P.D. 725 such former Filipinos would have had to undergo the tedious and cumbersome process
of naturalization, but with the advent of P.D. 725 they could now re-acquire their Philippine citizenship under the simplified procedure of
repatriation.
The Solicitor General44 argues:
"By their very nature, curative statutes are retroactive, (DBP vs. CA, 96 SCRA 342), since they are intended to supply defects, abridge
superfluities in existing laws (Del Castillo vs. Securities and Exchange Commission, 96 Phil. 119) and curb certain evils (Santos vs. Duata, 14
SCRA 1041).
In this case, P.D. No. 725 was enacted to cure the defect in the existing naturalization law, specifically C. A. No. 63 wherein married Filipino
women are allowed to repatriate only upon the death of their husbands, and natural-born Filipinos who lost their citizenship by naturalization and
other causes faced the difficulty of undergoing the rigid procedures of C.A. 63 for reacquisition of Filipino citizenship by naturalization.
Presidential Decree No. 725 provided a remedy for the aforementioned legal aberrations and thus its provisions are considered essentially
remedial and curative."
In light of the foregoing, and prescinding from the wording of the preamble, it is unarguable that the legislative intent was precisely to give the
statute retroactive operation. "(A) retrospective operation is given to a statute or amendment where the intent that it should so operate clearly
appears from a consideration of the act as a whole, or from the terms thereof."45 It is obvious to the Court that the statute was meant to "reach
back" to those persons, events and transactions not otherwise covered by prevailing law and jurisprudence. And inasmuch as it has been held that
citizenship is a political and civil right equally as important as the freedom of speech, liberty of abode, the right against unreasonable searches
and seizures and other guarantees enshrined in the Bill of Rights, therefore the legislative intent to give retrospective operation to P.D. 725 must
be given the fullest effect possible. "(I)t has been said that a remedial statute must be so construed as to make it effect the evident purpose for
-which it was enacted, so that if the reason of the statute extends to past transactions, as well as to those in the future, then it will be so applied
although the statute does not in terms so direct, unless to do so would impair some vested right or violate some constitutional guaranty."46 This is
all the more true of P.D. 725, which did not specify any restrictions on or delimit or qualify the right of repatriation granted therein.
At this point, a valid question may be raised: How can the retroactivity of P.D. 725 benefit Frivaldo considering that said law was enacted on June
5,1975, while Frivaldo lost his Filipino citizenship much later, on January 20, 1983, and applied for repatriation even later, on August 17, 1994?
While it is true that the law was already in effect at the time that Frivaldo became an American citizen, nevertheless, it is not only the law itself
(P.D. 725) which is tobe given retroactive effect, but even the repatriation granted under said law to Frivaldo on June 30, 1995 is to be deemed to
have retroacted to the date of his application therefor, August 17, 1994. The reason for this is simply that if, as in this case, it was the intent of the
legislative authority that the law should apply to past events i.e., situations and transactions existing even before the law came into being in order
to benefit the greatest number of former Filipinos possible thereby enabling them to enjoy and exercise the constitutionally guaranteed right of
citizenship, and such legislative intention is to be given the fullest effect and expression, then there is all the more reason to have the law apply in
a retroactive or retrospective manner to situations, events and transactions subsequent to the passage of such law. That is, the repatriation granted
to Frivaldo on June 30, 1995 can and should be made to take effect as of date of his application. As earlier mentioned, there is nothing in the law
that would bar this or would show a contrary intention on the part of the legislative authority; and there is no showing that damage or prejudice to
anyone, or anything unjust or injurious would result from giving retroactivity to his repatriation. Neither has Lee shown that there will result the
impairment of any contractual obligation, disturbance of any vested right or breach of some constitutional guaranty.
Being a former Filipino who has served the people repeatedly, Frivaldo deserves a liberal interpretation of Philippine laws and whatever defects
there were in his nationality should now be deemed mooted by his repatriation.

24

Another argument for retroactivity to the date of filing is that it would prevent prejudice to applicants. If P.D. 725 were not to be given retroactive
effect, and the Special Committee decides not to act, i.e., to delay the processing of applications for any substantial length of time, then the
former Filipinos who may be stateless, as Frivaldohaving already renounced his American citizenship was, may be prejudiced for causes outside
their control. This should not be. In case of doubt in the interpretation or application of laws, it is to be presumed that the law-making body
intended right and justice to prevail.47
And as experience will show, the Special Committee was able to process, act upon and grant applications for repatriation within relatively short
spans of time after the same were filed.48 The fact that such interregna were relatively insignificant minimizes the likelihood of prejudice to the
government as a result of giving retroactivity to repatriation. Besides, to the mind of the Court, direct prejudice to the government is possible only
where a person's repatriation has the effect of wiping out a liability of his to the government arising in connection with or as a result of his being
an alien, and accruing only during the interregnum between application and approval, a situation that is not present in the instant case.
And it is but right and just that the mandate of the people, already twice frustrated, should now prevail. Under the circumstances, there is nothing
unjust or iniquitous in treating Frivaldo's repatriation as having become effective as of the date of his application, i.e., on August 17, 1994. This
being so, all questions about his possession of the nationality qualification whether at the date of proclamation (June 30, 1995) or the date of
election (May 8, 1995) or date of filing his certificate of candidacy (March 20, 1995) would become moot.
Based on the foregoing, any question regarding Frivaldo's status as a registered voter would also be deemed settled. Inasmuch as he is considered
as having been repatriatedi.e., his Filipino citizenship restored as of August 17, 1994, his previous registration as a voter is likewise deemed
validated as of said date.
It is not disputed that on January 20, 1983 Frivaldo became an American. Would the retroactivity of his repatriation not effectively give him dual
citizenship, which under Sec. 40 of the Local Government Code would disqualify him "from running for any elective local position?"49 We
answer this question in the negative, as there is cogent reason to hold that Frivaldo was really STATELESS at the time he took said oath of
allegiance and even before that, when he ran for governor in 1988. In his Comment, Frivaldo wrote that he "had long renounced and had long
abandoned his American citizenshiplong before May 8, 1995. At best, Frivaldo was stateless in the interim when he abandoned and renounced his
US citizenship but before he was repatriated to his Filipino citizenship."50
On this point, we quote from the assailed Resolution dated December 19, 1995:51
"By the laws of the United States, petitioner Frivaldo lost his American citizenship when he took his oath of allegiance to the Philippine
Government when he ran for Governor in 1988, in 1992, and in 1995. Every certificate of candidacy contains an oath of allegiance to the
Philippine Government."
These factual findings that Frivaldo has lost his foreign nationality long before the elections of 1995 have not been effectively rebutted by Lee.
Furthermore, it is basic that such findings of the Commission are conclusive upon this Court, absent any showing of capriciousness or
arbitrariness or abuse.52
The Second Issue: Is Lack of Citizenship a Continuing Disqualification?
Lee contends that the May 1,1995 Resolution53 of the Comelec Second Division in SPA No. 95-028 as affirmed in toto by Comelec En Banc in
its Resolution of May 11, 1995 "became final and executory after five (5) days or on May 17,1995, no restraining order having been issued by
this Honorable Court."54 Hence, before Lee "was proclaimed as the elected governor on June 30, 1995, there was already a final and executory
judgment disqualifying" Frivaldo. Lee adds that this Court's two rulings (which Frivaldo now concedes were legally "correct") declaring Frivaldo
an alien have also become final and executory way before the 1995 elections, and these "judicial pronouncements of his political status as an
American citizen absolutely and for all time disqualified (him) from running for, and holding any public office in the Philippines."
We do not agree.
It should be noted that our first ruling in G.R. No. 87193 disqualifying Frivaldo was rendered in connection with the 1988 elections while that in
G.R. No. 104654 was in connection with the 1992 elections. That he was disqualified for such elections is final and can no longer be changed. In
the words of the respondent Commission (Second Division) in its assailed Resolution:55
"The records show that the Honorable Supreme Court had decided that Frivaldo was not a Filipino citizen and thus disqualified for the purpose of
the 1988 and 1992 elections. However, there is no record of any 'final judgment' of the disqualification of Frivaldo as a candidate for the May 8,
1995 elections. What the Commission said in its Order of June 21, 1995 (implemented on June 30, 1995), directing the proclamation of Raul R.
Lee, was that Frivaldo was not a Filipino citizen 'having been declared by the Supreme Court in its Order dated March 25, 1995, not a citizen of
the Philippines.' This declaration of the Supreme Court, however, was in connection with the 1992 elections."
Indeed, decisions declaring the acquisition or denial of citizenship cannot govern a person's future status with finality. This is because a person
may subsequently reacquire, or for that matter lose, his citizenship under any of the modes recognized by law for the purpose. Hence, in Lee vs.
Commissioner of Immigration,56 we held:

25

"Everytime the citizenship of a person is material or indispensable in a judicial or administrative case, whatever the corresponding court or
administrative authority decides therein as to such citizenship is generally not considered res judicata, hence it has to be threshed out again and
again, as the occasion demands."
The Third Issue: Comelec's Jurisdiction
Over The Petition in SPC No. 95-317
Lee also avers that respondent Comelec had no jurisdiction to entertain the petition in SPC No. 95-317 because the only "possible types of
proceedings that may be entertained by the Comelec are a pre-proclamation case, an election protest or a quo warranto case." Again, Lee reminds
us that he was proclaimed on June 30, 1995 but that Frivaldo filed SPC No. 95-317 questioning his (Lee's) proclamation only on July 6, 1995
"beyond the 5-day reglementary period." Hence, according to him, Frivaldo's "recourse was to file either an election protest or a quo warranto
action."
This argument is not meritorious. The Constitution57 has given the Comelec ample power to "exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all
contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of all elective x x x provincial x x x officials." Instead of dwelling at length on the
various petitions that Comelec, in the exercise of its constitutional prerogatives, may entertain, suffice
it to say that this Court has invariably recognized the Commission's authority to hear and decide petitions for annulment of proclamations of
which SPC No. 95-317 obviously is one.58 Thus, in Mentang vs. COMELEC,59 we ruled:
"The petitioner argues that after proclamation and assumption of office, a pre-proclamation controversy is no longer viable. Indeed, we are aware
of cases holding that pre-proclamation controversies may no longer be entertained by the COMELEC after the winning candidate has been
proclaimed, (citing Gallardo vs. Rimando, 187 SCRA 463; Salvacion vs. COMELEC, 170 SCRA 513; Casimiro vs. COMELEC, 171 SCRA 468.)
This rule, however, is premised on an assumption that the proclamation is no proclamation at all and the proclaimed candidate's assumption of
office cannot deprive the COMELEC of the power to make such declaration of nullity. (citing Aguam vs. COMELEC, 23 SCRA 883; Agbayani
vs. COMELEC, 186 SCRA 484.)"
The Court however cautioned that such power to annul a proclamation must "be done within ten (10) days following the proclamation." Inasmuch
as Frivaldo's petition was filed only six (6) days after Lee's proclamation, there is no question that the Comelec correctly acquired jurisdiction
over the same.
The Fourth Issue: Was Lee's Proclamation Valid
Frivaldo assails the validity of the Lee proclamation. We uphold him for the following reasons:
First. To paraphrase this Court in Labo vs. COMELEC,60 "the fact remains that he (Lee) was not the choice of the sovereign will," and in Aquino
vs. COMELEC,61 Lee is "a second placer, xxx just that, a second placer."
In spite of this, Lee anchors his claim to the governorship on the pronouncement of this Court in the aforesaid Labo62 case, as follows:
"The rule would have been different if the electorate fully aware in fact and in law of a candidate's disqualification so as to bring such awareness
within the realm of notoriety, would nonetheless cast their votes in favor of the ineligible candidate. In such case, the electorate may be said to
have waived the validity and efficacy of their votes by notoriously misapplying their franchise or throwing away their votes, in which case, the
eligible candidate obtaining the next higher number of votes may be deemed elected."
But such holding is qualified by the next paragraph, thus:
"But this is not the situation obtaining in the instant dispute. It has not been shown, and none was alleged, that petitioner Labo was notoriously
known as an ineligible candidate, much less the electorate as having known of such fact. On the contrary, petitioner Labo was even allowed by no
less than the Comelec itself in its resolution dated May 10, 1992 to be voted for the office of the city mayor as its resolution dated May 9,1992
denying due course to petitioner Labo's certificate of candidacy had not yet become final and subject to the final outcome of this case."
The last-quoted paragraph in Labo, unfortunately for Lee, is the ruling appropriate in this case because Frivaldo was in 1995 in an identical
situation as Labo was in 1992 when the Comelec's cancellation of his certificate of candidacy was not yet final on election day as there was in
both cases a pending motion for reconsideration, for which reason Comelec issued an (omnibus) resolution declaring that Frivaldo (like Labo in
1992) and several others can still be voted for in the May 8, 1995 election, as in fact, he was.
Furthermore, there has been no sufficient evidence presented to show that the electorate of Sorsogon was "fully aware in fact and in law" of
Frivaldo's alleged disqualification as to "bring such awareness within the realm of notoriety", in other words, that the voters intentionally wasted
their ballots knowing that, in spite of their voting for him, he was ineligible. If Labo has any relevance at all, it is that the vice-governor and not
Leeshould be proclaimed, since in losing the election, Lee was, to paraphrase Labo again, "obviously not the choice of the people" of Sorsogon.
This is the emphatic teaching of Labo:
"The rule, therefore, is: the ineligibility of a candidate receiving majority votes does not entitle the eligible candidate receiving the next highest
number of votes to be declared elected. A minority or defeated candidate cannot be deemed elected to the office."

26

Second. As we have earlier declared Frivaldo to have seasonably re-acquired his citizenship and inasmuch as he obtained the highest number of
votes in the 1995 elections, henot Lee should be proclaimed. Hence, Lee's proclamation was patently erroneous and should now be corrected.
The Fifth Issue: Is Section 78 of the Election Code Mandatory?
In G.R. No. 120295, Frivaldo claims that the assailed Resolution of the Comelec (Second Division) dated May 1, 1995 and the confirmatory en
banc Resolution of May 11, 1995 disqualifying him for want of citizenship should be annulled because they were rendered beyond the fifteen
(15) day period prescribed by Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code which reads as follows:
"Section 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 notice and hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election" (italics supplied.)
This claim is now moot and academic inasmuch as these resolutions are deemed superseded by the subsequent ones issued by the Commission
(First Division) on December 19, 1995, affirmed en banc63 on February 23, 1996, which both upheld his election. At any rate, it is obvious that
Section 78 is merely directory as Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 authorizes the Commission to try and decide petitions for disqualifications even
after the elections, thus:
"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." (Italics supplied)
Refutation of Mr. Justice Davide's Dissent
In his dissenting opinion, the esteemed Mr. Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. argues that President Aquino's memorandum dated March 27, 1987
should be viewed as a suspension (not a repeal, as urged by Lee) of P.D. 725. But whether it decrees a suspension or a repeal is a purely academic
distinction because the said issuance is not a statute that can amend or abrogate an existing law. The existence and subsistence of P.D. 725 were
recognized in the first Frivaldo case;64 viz, "(u)nder CA No. 63 as amended by CA No. 473 and P.D. No. 725, Philippine citizenship maybe
reacquired by xxx repatriation" He also contends that by allowing Frivaldo to register and to remain as a registered voter, the Comelec and in
effect this Court abetted a "mockery" of our two previous judgments declaring him a non-citizen. We do not see such abetting or mockery. The
retroactivity of his repatriation, as discussed earlier, legally cured whatever defects there may have been in his registration as a voter for the
purpose of the 1995 elections. Such retroactivity did not change his disqualifications in 1988 and 1992, which were the subjects of such previous
rulings.
Mr. Justice Davide also believes that Quo Warranto is not the sole remedy to question the ineligibility of a candidate, citing the Comelec's
authority under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code allowing the denial of a certificate of candidacy on the ground of a false material
representation therein as required by Section 74. Citing Loong, he then states his disagreement with our holding that Section 78 is merely
directory. We really have no quarrel. Our point is that Frivaldo was in error in his claim in G.R. No. 120295 that the Comelec Resolutions
promulgated on May 1, 1995 and May 11, 1995 were invalid because they were issued "not later than fifteen days before the election" as
prescribed by Section 78. In dismissing the petition in G.R. No. 120295, we hold that the Comelec did not commit grave abuse of discretion
because "Section 6 of R. A. 6646 authorizes the Comelec to try and decide disqualifications even after the elections." In spite of his disagreement
with us on this point, i.e., that Section 78 "is merely directory," we note that just like us, Mr. Justice Davide nonetheless votes to "DISMISS G.R.
No. 120295." One other point. Loong, as quoted in the dissent, teaches that a petition to deny due course under Section 78 must be filed within
the 25-day period prescribed therein. The present case however deals with the period during which the Comelec may decide such petition. And
we hold that it may be decided even after the fifteen day period mentioned in Section 78. Here, we rule that a decision promulgated by the
Comelec even after the elections is valid but Loong held that a petition filed beyond the 25-day period is out of time. There is no inconsistency
nor conflict.
Mr. Justice Davide also disagrees with the Court's holding that, given the unique factual circumstances of Frivaldo, repatriation may be given
retroactive effect. He argues that such retroactivity "dilutes" our holding in the first Frivaldo case. But the first (and even the second Frivaldo)
decision did not directly involve repatriation as a mode of acquiring citizenship. If we may repeat, there is no question that Frivaldo was not a
Filipino for purposes of determining his qualifications in the 1988 and 1992 elections. That is settled. But his supervening repatriation has
changed his political status not in 1988 or 1992, but only in the 1995 elections.
Our learned colleague also disputes our holding that Frivaldo was stateless prior to his repatriation, saying that "informal renunciation or
abandonment is not a ground to lose American citizenship." Since our courts are charged only with the duty of the determining who are Philippine
nationals, we cannot rule on the legal question of who are or who are not Americans. It is basic in international law that a State determines ONLY
those who are its own citizens not who are the citizens of other countries.65 The issue here is: the Comelec made a finding of fact that Frivaldo
was stateless and such finding has not been shown by Lee to be arbitrary or whimsical. Thus, following settled case law, such finding is binding
and final.

27

The dissenting opinion also submits that Lee who lost by chasmic margins to Frivaldo in all three previous elections, should be declared winner
because "Frivaldo's ineligibility for being an American was publicly known." First, there is absolutely no empirical evidence for such "public"
knowledge. Second, even if there is, such knowledge can be true post facto only of the last two previous elections. Third, even the Comelec and
now this Court were/are still deliberating on his nationality before, during and after the 1995 elections. How then can there be such "public"
knowledge?
Mr. Justice Davide submits that Section 39 of the Local Government Code refers to the qualifications of elective local officials, i.e., candidates,
and not elected officials, and that the citizenship qualification [under par. (a) of that section] must be possessed by candidates, not merely at the
commencement of the term, but by election day at the latest. We see it differently. Section 39, par. (a) thereof speaks of "elective local official"
while par. (b) to (f) refer to "candidates." If the qualifications under par. (a) were intended to apply to "candidates" and not elected officials, the
legislature would have said so, instead of differentiating par. (a) from the rest of the paragraphs. Secondly, if Congress had meant that the
citizenship qualification should be possessed at election day or prior thereto, it would have specifically stated such detail, the same way it did in
pars. (b) to (f) for other qualifications of candidates for governor, mayor, etc.
Mr. Justice Davide also questions the giving of retroactive effect to Frivaldo's repatriation on the ground, among others, that the law specifically
provides that it is only after taking the oath of allegiance that applicants shall be deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship. We do not
question what the provision states. We hold however that the provision should be understood thus: that after taking the oath of allegiance the
applicant is deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship, which reacquisition (or repatriation) is deemed for all purposes and intents to have
retroacted to the date of his application therefor.
In any event, our "so too" argument regarding the literal meaning of the word "elective" in reference to Section 39 of the Local Government
Code, as well as regarding Mr. Justice Davide's thesis that the very wordings of P.D. 725 suggest non-retroactivity, were already taken up rather
extensively earlier in this Decision.
Mr. Justice Davide caps his paper with a clarion call: "This Court must be the first to uphold the Rule of Law." We agree we must all follow the
rule of law. But that is NOT the issue here. The issue is how should the law be interpreted and applied in this case so it can be followed, so it can
rule!
At balance, the question really boils down to a choice of philosophy and perception of how to interpret and apply laws relating to elections: literal
or liberal; the letter or the spirit; the naked provision or its ultimate purpose; legal syllogism or substantial justice; in isolation or in the context of
social conditions; harshly against or gently in favor of the voters' obvious choice. In applying election laws, it would be far better to err in favor
of popular sovereignty than to be right in complex but little understood legalisms. Indeed, to inflict a thrice rejected candidate upon the electorate
of Sorsogon would constitute unmitigated judicial tyranny and an unacceptable assault upon this Court's conscience.
EPILOGUE
In sum, we rule that the citizenship requirement in the Local Government Code is to be possessed by an elective official at the latest as of the time
he is proclaimed and at the start of the term of office to which he has been elected. We further hold P.D. No. 725 to be in full force and effect up
to the present, not having been suspended or repealed expressly nor impliedly at any time, and Frivaldo's repatriation by virtue thereof to have
been properly granted and thus valid and effective. Moreover, by reason of the remedial or curative nature of the law granting him a new right to
resume his political status and the legislative intent behind it, as well as his unique situation of having been forced to give up his citizenship and
political aspiration as his means of escaping a regime he abhorred, his repatriation is to be given retroactive effect as of the date of his application
therefor, during the pendency of which he was stateless, he having given ' up his U. S. nationality. Thus, in contemplation of law, he possessed the
vital requirement of Filipino citizenship as of the start of the term of office of governor, and should have been proclaimed instead of Lee.
Furthermore, since his reacquisition of citizenship retroacted to August 17, 1994, his registration as a voter of Sorsogon is deemed to have been
validated as of said date as well. The foregoing, of course, are precisely consistent with our holding that lack of the citizenship requirement is not
a continuing disability or disqualification to run for and hold public office. And once again, we emphasize herein our previous rulings recognizing
the Comelec's authority and jurisdiction to hear and decide petitions for annulment of proclamations.
This Court has time and again liberally and equitably construed the electoral laws of our country to give fullest effect to the manifest will of our
people,66 for in case of doubt, political laws must be
interpreted to give life and spirit to the popular mandate freely expressed through the ballot. Otherwise stated, legal niceties and technicalities
cannot stand in the way of the sovereign will. Consistently, we have held:
"x x x (L)aws governing election contests must be liberally construed to the end that the will of the people in the choice of public officials may
not be defeated by mere technical objections (citations omitted)."67
The law and the courts must accord Frivaldo every possible protection, defense and refuge, in deference to the popular will. Indeed, this Court
has repeatedly stressed the importance of giving effect to the sovereign will in order to ensure the survival of our democracy. In any action
involving the possibility of a reversal of the popular electoral choice, this Court must exert utmost effort to resolve the issues in a manner that
would give effect to the will of the majority, for it is merely sound public policy to cause elective offices to be filled by those who are the choice
of the majority. To successfully challenge a winning candidate's qualifications, the petitioner must clearly demonstrate that the ineligibility is so
patently antagonistic68 to constitutional and legal principles that overriding such ineligibility and thereby giving effect to the apparent will of the

28

people, would ultimately create greater prejudice to the very democratic institutions and juristic traditions that our Constitution and laws so
zealously protect and promote. In this undertaking, Lee has miserably failed.
In Frivaldo's case, it would have been technically easy to find fault with his cause. The Court could have refused to grant retroactivity to the
effects of his repatriation and hold him still ineligible due to his failure to show his citizenship at the time he registered as a voter before the 1995
elections. Or, it could have disputed the factual findings of the Comelec that he was stateless at the time of repatriation and thus hold his
consequent dual citizenship as a disqualification "from running for any elective local position." But the real essence of justice does not emanate
from quibblings over patchwork legal technicality. It proceeds from the spirit's gut consciousness of the dynamic role of law as a brick in the
ultimate development of the social edifice. Thus, the Court struggled against and eschewed the easy, legalistic, technical and sometimes harsh
anachronisms of the law in order to evoke substantial justice in the larger social context consistent with Frivaldo's unique situation approximating
venerability in Philippine political life. Concededly, he sought American citizenship only to escape the clutches of the dictatorship. At this stage,
we cannot seriously entertain any doubt about his loyalty and dedication to this country. At the first opportunity, he returned to this land, and
sought to serve his people once more. The people of Sorsogon overwhelmingly voted for him three times. He took an oath of allegiance to this
Republic every time he filed his certificate of candidacy and during his failed naturalization bid. And let it not be overlooked, his demonstrated
tenacity and sheer determination to re-assume his nationality of birth despite several legal set-backs speak more loudly, in spirit, in fact and in
truth than any legal technicality, of his consuming intention and burning desire to re-embrace his native Philippines even now at the ripe old age
of 81 years. Such loyalty to and love of country as well as nobility of purpose cannot be lost on this Court of justice and equity. Mortals of lesser
mettle would have given up. After all, Frivaldo was assured of a life of ease and plenty as a citizen of the most powerful country in the world. But
he opted, nay, single-mindedly insisted on returning to and serving once more his struggling but beloved land of birth. He therefore deserves
every liberal interpretation of the law which can be applied in his favor. And in the final analysis, over and above Frivaldo himself, the
indomitable people of Sorsogon most certainly deserve to be governed by a leader of their overwhelming choice.
WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing:
(1) The petition in G.R. No. 123755 is hereby DISMISSED. The assailed Resolutions of the respondent Commission are AFFIRMED.
(2) The petition in G.R. No. 120295 is also DISMISSED for being moot and academic. In any event, it has no merit.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 86564

August 1, 1989

RAMON L. LABO, JR., petitioner,


vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (COMELEC) EN BANC AND LUIS L. LARDIZABAL, respondents
Estelito P. Mendoza for petitioner.
Rillera and Quintana for private respondent.

CRUZ, J.:
The petitioner asks this Court to restrain the Commission on Elections from looking into the question of his citizenship as a qualification for his
office as Mayor of Baguio City. The allegation that he is a foreigner, he says, is not the issue. The issue is whether or not the public respondent
has jurisdiction to conduct any inquiry into this matter, considering that the petition for quo warranto against him was not filed on time.
It is noteworthy that this argument is based on the alleged tardiness not of the petition itself but of the payment of the filing fee, which the
petitioner contends was an indispensable requirement. The fee is, curiously enough, all of P300.00 only. This brings to mind the popular verse
that for want of a horse the kingdom was lost. Still, if it is shown that the petition was indeed filed beyond the reglementary period, there is no
question that this petition must be granted and the challenge abated.
The petitioner's position is simple. He was proclaimed mayor-elect of Baguio City, on January 20, 1988. The petition for quo warranto was filed
by the private respondent on January 26, 1988, but no filing fee was paid on that date. This fee was finally paid on February 10, 1988, or twenty-

29

one days after his proclamation. As the petition by itself alone was ineffectual without the filing fee, it should be deemed filed only when the fee
was paid. This was done beyond the reglementary period provided for under Section 253 of the Omnibus Election Code reading as follows:
SEC. 253. Petition for quo warranto. Any voter contesting the election of a 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 result of the election.
The petitioner adds that the payment of the filing fee is required under Rule 36, Section 5, of the Procedural Rules of the COMELEC providing
that
Sec. 5.
No petition for quo warranto shall be given due course without the payment of a filing fee in the amount of Three Hundred Pesos
(P300.00) and the legal research fee as required by law.
and stresses that there is abundant jurisprudence holding that the payment of the filing fee is essential to the timeliness of the filling of the petition
itself. He cites many rulings of the Court to this effect, specifically Manchester v. Court of Appeals. 1
For his part, the private respondent denies that the filing fee was paid out of time. In fact he says, it was flied ahead of time. His point is that when
he filed his "Petition for Quo Warranto with Prayer for Immediate Annulment of Proclamation and Restraining Order or Injunction" on January
26, 1988, the COMELEC treated it as a pre-proclamation controversy and docketed it as SPC Case No. 88-288. No docket fee was collected
although it was offered. It was only on February 8, 1988, that the COMELEC decided to treat his petition as solely for quo warranto and redocketed it as EPC Case No. 88-19, serving him notice on February 10, 1988. He immediately paid the filing fee on that date.
The private respondent argues further that during the period when the COMELEC regarded his petition as a pre-proclamation controversy, the
time for filing an election protest or quo warranto proceeding was deemed suspended under Section 248 of the Omnibus Election Code. 2 At any
rate, he says, Rule 36, Section 5, of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure cited by the petitioner, became effective only on November 15, 1988,
seven days after publication of the said Rules in the Official Gazette pursuant to Section 4, Rule 44 thereof. 3 These rules could not retroact to
January 26,1988, when he filed his petition with the COMELEC.
In his Reply, the petitioner argues that even if the Omnibus Election Code did not require it, the payment of filing fees was still necessary under
Res. No. 1996 and, before that, Res. No. 1450 of the respondent COMELEC, promulgated on January 12, 1988, and February 26, 1980,
respectively. To this, the private respondent counters that the latter resolution was intended for the local elections held on January 30, 1980, and
did not apply to the 1988 local elections, which were supposed to be governed by the first-mentioned resolution. However, Res. No. 1996 took
effect only on March 3, 1988, following the lapse of seven days after its publication as required by RA No. 6646, otherwise known as the
Electoral Reform Law of 1987, which became effective on January 5, 1988. Its Section 30 provides in part:
Sec. 30. Effectivity of Regulations and Orders of the Commission. The rules and regulations promulgated by the Commission shall take
effect on the seventh day after their publication in the Official Gazette or in at least (2) daily newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.
The Court has considered the arguments of the parties and holds that the petition for quo warranto was filed on time. We agree with the
respondents that the fee was paid during the ten-day period as extended by the pendency of the petition when it was treated by the COMELEC as
a pre-proclamation proceeding which did not require the payment of a filing fee. At that, we reach this conclusion only on the assumption that the
requirement for the payment of the fees in quo warranto proceedings was already effective. There is no record that Res. No. 1450 was even
published; and as for Res. No. 1996, this took effect only on March 3, 1988, seven days after its publication in the February 25, 1988 issues of the
Manila Chronicle and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, or after the petition was filed.
The petitioner forgets Ta;ada v. Tuvera 4 when he argues that the resolutions became effective "immediately upon approval" simply because it
was so provided therein. We held in that case that publication was still necessary under the due process clause despite such effectivity clause.
In any event, what is important is that the filing fee was paid, and whatever delay there may have been is not imputable to the private respondent's
fault or neglect. It is true that in the Manchester Case, we required the timely payment of the filing fee as a precondition for the timeliness of the
filing of the case itself. In Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion, 5 however this Court, taking into account the special circumstances of that
case, declared:
This Court reiterates the rule that the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a case only upon the payment of the prescribed filing fee. However, the
court may allow the payment of the said fee within a reasonable time. In the event of non-compliance therewith, the case shall be dismissed.
The same idea is expressed in Rule 42, Section 18, of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure adopted on June 20, 1988, thus:
Sec. 18.
Non-payment of prescribed fees. If the fees above prescribed are not paid, the Commission may refuse to take action thereon until
they are paid and may dismiss the action or the proceeding. (Emphasis supplied.)
The Court notes that while arguing the technical point that the petition for quo warranto should be dismissed for failure to pay the filing fee on
time, the petitioner would at the same time minimize his alleged lack of citizenship as "a futile technicality," It is regrettable, to say the least, that
the requirement of citizenship as a qualification for public office can be so demeaned. What is worse is that it is regarded as an even less
important consideration than the reglementary period the petitioner insists upon.

30

This matter should normally end here as the sole issue originally raised by the petitioner is the timeliness of the quo warranto proceedings against
him. However, as his citizenship is the subject of that proceeding, and considering the necessity for an early resolution of that more important
question clearly and urgently affecting the public interest, we shall directly address it now in this same action.
The Court has similarly acted in a notable number of cases, thus:
From the foregoing brief statement of the nature of the instant case, it would appear that our sole function in this proceeding should be to resolve
the single issue of whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the motion for new trial of the GSIS in question should indeed be
deemed pro forma. But going over the extended pleadings of both parties, the Court is immediately impressed that substantial justice may not be
timely achieved, if we should decide this case upon such a technical ground alone. We have carefully read all the allegations and arguments of the
parties, very ably and comprehensively expounded by evidently knowledgeable and unusually competent counsel, and we feel we can better serve
the interests of justice by broadening the scope of our inquiry, for as the record before us stands, we see that there is enough basis for us to end
the basic controversy between the parties here and now, dispensing, however, with procedural steps which would not anyway affect substantially
the merits of their respective claims. 6
xxx
While it is the fault of the petitioner for appealing to the wrong court and thereby allowing the period for appeal to lapse, the more correct
procedure was for the respondent court to forward the case to the proper court which was the Court of Appeals for appropriate action.
Considering, however, the length of time that this case has been pending, we apply the rule in the case of Del Castillo v. Jaymalin, (112 SCRA
629) and follow the principle enunciated in Alger Electric, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, (135 SCRA 37) which states:
... it is a cherished rule of procedure for this Court to always strive to settle the entire controversy in a single proceeding leaving no root or branch
to bear the seeds of future litigation. No useful purpose will be served if this case is remanded to the trial court only to have its decision raised
again to the Intermediate Appellate Court and from there to this Court. (p. 43)
Only recently in the case of Beautifont, Inc., et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al. (G.R. No. 50141, January 29, 1988), we stated that:
... But all those relevant facts are now before this Court. And those facts dictate the rendition of a verdict in the petitioner's favor. There is
therefore no point in referring the case back to the Court of Appeals. The facts and the legal propositions involved will not change, nor should the
ultimate judgment. Considerable time has already elapsed and, to serve the ends of justice, it is time that the controversy is finally laid to rest.
(See Sotto v. Samson, 5 SCRA 733; Republic v. Paredes, 108 Phil. 57; Lianga Lumber Co. v. Lianga Timber Co., Inc., 76 SCRA 197; Erico v.
Heirs of Chigas, 98 SCRA 575; Francisco v. City of Davao, 12 SCRA 628; Valencia v. Mabilangan, 105 Phil. 162).lwph1.t Sound practice
seeks to accommodate the theory which avoids waste of time, effort and expense, both to the parties and the government, not to speak of delay in
the disposal of the case (cf. Fernandez v. Garcia, 92 Phil. 592, 597). A marked characteristic of our judicial set-up is that where the dictates of
justice so demand ... the Supreme Court should act, and act with finality.' (Li Siu Liat v. Republic, 21 SCRA 1039, 1046, citing Samal v. CA, 99
Phil. 230 and U.S. v. Gimenez, 34 Phil. 74). In this case, the dictates of justice do demand that this Court act, and act with finality. 7
xxx
Remand of the case to the lower court for further reception of evidence is not necessary where the court is in a position to resolve the dispute
based on the records before it. On many occasions, the Court, in the public interest and the expeditious administration of justice, has resolved
actions on the merits instead of remanding them to the trial court for further proceedings, such as where the ends of justice would not be
subserved by the remand of the case or when public interest demands an early disposition of the case or where the trial court had already received
all the evidence of the parties. 8
This course of action becomes all the more justified in the present case where, to repeat for stress, it is claimed that a foreigner is holding a public
office.
We also note in his Reply, the petitioner says:
In adopting private respondent's comment, respondent COMELEC implicitly adopted as "its own" private respondent's repeated assertion that
petitioner is no longer a Filipino citizen. In so doing, has not respondent COMELEC effectively disqualified itself, by reason of prejudgment,
from resolving the petition for quo warranto filed by private respondent still pending before it? 9
This is still another reason why the Court has seen fit to rule directly on the merits of this case.
Going over the record, we find that there are two administrative decisions on the question of the petitioner's citizenship. The first was rendered by
the Commission on Elections on May 12, 1982, and found the petitioner to be a citizen of the Philippines. 10 The second was rendered by the
Commission on Immigration and Deportation on September 13, 1988, and held that the petitioner was not a citizen of the Philippines. 11
The first decision was penned by then COMELEC Chigas, Vicente Santiago, Jr., with Commissioners Pabalate Savellano and Opinion concurring
in full and Commissioner Bacungan concurring in the dismissal of the petition "without prejudice to the issue of the respondent's citizenship
being raised anew in a proper case." Commissioner Sagadraca reserved his vote, while Commissioner Felipe was for deferring decision until

31

representations shall have been made with the Australian Embassy for official verification of the petitioner's alleged naturalization as an
Australian.
The second decision was unanimously rendered by Chairman Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Commissioners Alano and Geraldez of the
Commission on Immigration and Deportation. It is important to observe that in the proceeding before the COMELEC, there was no direct proof
that the herein petitioner had been formally naturalized as a citizen of Australia. This conjecture, which was eventually rejected, was merely
inferred from the fact that he had married an Australian citizen, obtained an Australian passport, and registered as an alien with the CID upon his
return to this country in 1980.
On the other hand, the decision of the CID took into account the official statement of the Australian Government dated August 12, 1984, through
its Consul in the Philippines, that the petitioner was still an Australian citizen as of that date by reason of his naturalization in 1976. That
statement 12 is reproduced in full as follows:
I, GRAHAM COLIN WEST, Consul of Australia in the Philippines, by virtue of a certificate of appointment signed and sealed by the Australian
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs on 19 October 1983, and recognized as such by Letter of Patent signed and sealed by the Philippines Acting
Minister of Foreign Affairs on 23 November 1983, do hereby provide the following statement in response to the subpoena Testificandum dated 9
April 1984 in regard to the Petition for disqualification against RAMON LABO, JR. Y LOZANO (SPC No. 84-73), and do hereby certify that the
statement is true and correct.
STATEMENT
A)
RAMON LABO, JR. Y LOZANO, date of birth 23 December 1934, was married in the Philippines to an Australian citizen. As the
spouse of an Australian citizen, he was not required to meet normal requirements for the grant of citizenship and was granted Australian
citizenship by Sydney on 28 July 1976.
B)
Any person over the age of 16 years who is granted Australian citizenship must take an oath of allegiance or make an affirmation of
allegiance. The wording of the oath of affirmation is: "I ..., renouncing all other allegiance ..." etc. This need not necessarily have any effect on
his former nationality as this would depend on the citizenship laws of his former country.
C)
The marriage was declared void in the Australian Federal Court in Sydney on 27 June 1980 on the ground that the marriage had been
bigamous.
D)

According to our records LABO is still an Australian citizen.

E)
Should he return to Australia, LABO may face court action in respect of Section 50 of Australian Citizenship Act 1948 which relates
to the giving of false or misleading information of a material nature in respect of an application for Australian citizenship. If such a prosecution
was successful, he could be deprived of Australian citizenship under Section 21 of the Act.
F)

There are two further ways in which LABO could divest himself of Australian citizenship:

(i)

He could make a declaration of Renunciation of Australian citizenship under Section 18 of the Australian Citizenship Act, or

(ii)
If he acquired another nationality, (for example, Filipino) by a formal and voluntary act other than marriage, then he would
automatically lose as Australian citizenship under Section 17 of the Act.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I HAVE HEREUNTO SET MAY HAND AND SEAL OF THE AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY, MANILA, THIS 12th
DAY OF APRIL 1984. DONE AT MANILA IN THE PHILIPPINES.
(Signed) GRAHAM C. WEST Consul
This was affirmed later by the letter of February 1, 1988, addressed to the private respondent by the Department of Foreign Affairs reading as
follows: 13
Sir:
With reference to your letter dated 1 February 1988, I wish to inform you that inquiry made with the Australian Government through the Embassy
of the Philippines in Canberra has elicited the following information:
1)

That Mr. Ramon L. Labo, Jr. acquired Australian citizenship on 28 July 1976.

2)
That prior to 17 July 1986, a candidate for Australian citizenship had to either swear an oath of allegiance or make an affirmation of
allegiance which carries a renunciation of "all other allegiance.
Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of Foreign Affairs: (SGD) RODOLFO SEVERINO, JR. Assistant Secretary

32

The decision also noted the oath of allegiance taken by every naturalized Australian reading as follows:
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
I, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the
Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfill my
duties as an Australian citizen. 14
and the Affirmation of Allegiance, which declares:
AFFIRMATION OF ALLEGIANCE
I, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty
Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the Laws of Australia and
fulfill my duties as an Australian citizen. 15
The petitioner does not question the authenticity of the above evidence. Neither does he deny that he obtained Australian Passport No. 754705,
which he used in coming back to the Philippines in 1980, when he declared before the immigration authorities that he was an alien and registered
as such under Alien Certificate of Registration No. B-323985. 16 He later asked for the change of his status from immigrant to a returning former
Philippine citizen and was granted Immigrant Certificate of Residence No. 223809. 17 He also categorically declared that he was a citizen of
Australia in a number of sworn statements voluntarily made by him and. even sought to avoid the jurisdiction of the barangay court on the ground
that he was a foreigner. 18
The decision of the COMELEC in 1982 quaintly dismisses all these acts as "mistakes" that did not divest the petitioner of his citizenship,
although, as earlier noted, not all the members joined in this finding. We reject this ruling as totally baseless. The petitioner is not an unlettered
person who was not aware of the consequences of his acts, let alone the fact that he was assisted by counsel when he performed these acts.
The private respondent questions the motives of the COMELEC at that time and stresses Labo's political affiliation with the party in power then,
but we need not go into that now.
There is also the claim that the decision can no longer be reversed because of the doctrine of res judicata, but this too must be dismissed. This
doctrine does not apply to questions of citizenship, as the Court has ruled in several cases. 19 Moreover, it does not appear that it was properly
and seasonably pleaded, in a motion to dismiss or in the answer, having been invoked only when the petitioner filed his reply 20 to the private
respondent's comment. Besides, one of the requisites of res judicata, to wit, identity of parties, is not present in this case.
The petitioner's contention that his marriage to an Australian national in 1976 did not automatically divest him of Philippine citizenship is
irrelevant. There is no claim or finding that he automatically ceased to be a Filipino because of that marriage. He became a citizen of Australia
because he was naturalized as such through a formal and positive process, simplified in his case because he was married to an Australian citizen.
As a condition for such naturalization, he formally took the Oath of Allegiance and/or made the Affirmation of Allegiance, both quoted above.
Renouncing all other allegiance, he swore "to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia ..." and
to fulfill his duties "as an Australian citizen."
The petitioner now claims that his naturalization in Australia made him at worst only a dual national and did not divest him of his Philippine
citizenship. Such a specious argument cannot stand against the clear provisions of CA No. 63, which enumerates the modes by which Philippine
citizenship may be lost. Among these are: (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, all of which are applicable to the petitioner. It is also worth mentioning
in this connection that under Article IV, Section 5, of the present Constitution, "Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and
shall be dealt with by law."
Even if it be assumed that, as the petitioner asserts, his naturalization in Australia was annulled after it was found that his marriage to the
Australian citizen was bigamous, that circumstance alone did not automatically restore his Philippine citizenship. His divestiture of Australian
citizenship does not concern us here. That is a matter between him and his adopted country. What we must consider is the fact that he voluntarily
and freely rejected Philippine citizenship and willingly and knowingly embraced the citizenship of a foreign country. The possibility that he may
have been subsequently rejected by Australia, as he claims, does not mean that he has been automatically reinstated as a citizen of the Philippines.
Under CA No. 63 as amended by PD No. 725, Philippine citizenship may be reacquired by direct act of Congress, by naturalization, or by
repatriation. It does not appear in the record, nor does the petitioner claim, that he has reacquired Philippine citizenship by any of these methods.
He does not point to any judicial decree of naturalization as to any statute directly conferring Philippine citizenship upon him. Neither has he
shown that he has complied with PD No. 725, providing that:
... (2) natural-born Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship may reacquire Philippine citizenship through repatriation by applying with
the Special Committee on Naturalization created by Letter of Instruction No. 270, and, if their applications are approved, taking 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.)

33

That is why the Commission on Immigration and Deportation rejected his application for the cancellation of his alien certificate of registration.
And that is also the reason we must deny his present claim for recognition as a citizen of the Philippines.
The petitioner is not now, nor was he on the day of the local elections on January 18, 1988, a citizen of the Philippines. In fact, he was not even a
qualified voter under the Constitution itself because of his alienage. 21 He was therefore ineligible as a candidate for mayor of Baguio City, under
Section 42 of the Local Government Code providing in material part as follows:
Sec. 42. Qualifications. An elective local official must be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-three years of age on election day, a
qualified voter registered as such in the barangay, municipality, city or province where he proposes to be elected, a resident therein for at least one
year at the time of the filing of his certificate of candidacy, and able to read and write English, Filipino, or any other local language or dialect.
The petitioner argues that his alleged lack of citizenship is a "futile technicality" that should not frustrate the will of the electorate of Baguio City,
who elected him by a "resonant and thunderous majority." To be accurate, it was not as loud as all that, for his lead over the second-placer was
only about 2,100 votes. In any event, the people of that locality could not have, even unanimously, changed the requirements of the Local
Government Code and the Constitution. The electorate had no power to permit a foreigner owing his total allegiance to the Queen of Australia, or
at least a stateless individual owing no allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, to preside over them as mayor of their city. Only citizens of
the Philippines have that privilege over their countrymen.
The probability that many of those who voted for the petitioner may have done so in the belief that he was qualified only strengthens the
conclusion that the results of the election cannot nullify the qualifications for the office now held by him. These qualifications are continuing
requirements; once any of them is lost during incumbency, title to the office itself is deemed forfeited. In the case at bar, the citizenship and
voting requirements were not subsequently lost but were not possessed at all in the first place on the day of the election. The petitioner was
disqualified from running as mayor and, although elected, is not now qualified to serve as such.
Finally, there is the question of whether or not the private respondent, who filed the quo warranto petition, can replace the petitioner as mayor. He
cannot. The simple reason is that as he obtained only the second highest number of votes in the election, he was obviously not the choice of the
people of Baguio city.
The latest ruling of the Court on this issue is Santos v. Commission on Elections 22 decided in 1985. In that case, the candidate who placed
second was proclaimed elected after the votes for his winning rival, who was disqualified as a turncoat and considered a non-candidate, were all
disregarded as stray. In effect, the second placer won by default. That decision was supported by eight members of the Court then 23 with three
dissenting 24 and another two reserving their vote. 25 One was on official leave. 26
Re-examining that decision, the Court finds, and so holds, that it should be reversed in favor of the earlier case of Geronimo v. Ramos, 27 Which
represents the more logical and democratic rule. That case, which reiterated the doctrine first announced in 1912 in Topacio vs. Paredes 28 was
supported by ten members of the Court 29 without any dissent, although one reserved his vote, 30 another took no part 31 and two others were on
leave. 32 There the Court held:
... it would be extremely repugnant to the basic concept of the constitutionally guaranteed right to suffrage if a candidate who has not acquired the
majority or plurality of votes is proclaimed a winner and imposed as the representative of a constituency, the majority of which have positively
declared through their ballots that they do not choose him.
Sound policy dictates that public elective offices are filled by those who have received the highest number of votes cast in the election for that
office, and it is a fundamental Idea in all republican forms of government that no one can be declared elected and no measure can be declared
carried unless he or it receives a majority or plurality of the legal votes cast in the election. (20 Corpus Juris 2nd, S 243, p. 676.)
The fact that the candidate who obtained the highest number of votes is later declared to be disqualified or not eligible for the office to which he
was elected does not necessarily entitle the candidate who obtained the second highest number of votes to be declared the winner of the elective
office. The votes cast for a dead, disqualified, or non-eligible person may not be valid to vote the winner into office or maintain him there.
However, in the absence of a statute which clearly asserts a contrary political and legislative policy on the matter, if the votes were cast in the
sincere belief that the candidate was alive, qualified, or eligible, they should not be treated as stray, void or meaningless.
It remains to stress that the citizen of the Philippines must take pride in his status as such and cherish this priceless gift that, out of more than a
hundred other nationalities, God has seen fit to grant him. Having been so endowed, he must not lightly yield this precious advantage, rejecting it
for another land that may offer him material and other attractions that he may not find in his own country. To be sure, he has the right to renounce
the Philippines if he sees fit and transfer his allegiance to a state with more allurements for him. 33 But having done so, he cannot expect to be
welcomed back with open arms once his taste for his adopted country turns sour or he is himself disowned by it as an undesirable alien.
Philippine citizenship is not a cheap commodity that can be easily recovered after its renunciation. It may be restored only after the returning
renegade makes a formal act of re-dedication to the country he has abjured and he solemnly affirms once again his total and exclusive loyalty to
the Republic of the Philippines. This may not be accomplished by election to public office.
WHEREFORE, petitioner Ramon J. Labo, Jr. is hereby declared NOT a citizen of the Philippines and therefore DISQUALIFIED from continuing
to serve as Mayor of Baguio City. He is ordered to VACATE his office and surrender the same to the Vice-Mayor of Baguio City, once this
decision becomes final and executory. The temporary restraining order dated January 31, 1989, is LIFT.

34

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-55151

March 17, 1981

DAVID AGUILA, EDITA BUENO, EVELITO ELENTO, RESURRECTION INTING, ANTONIO LIM and WILFREDO CABARDO,
petitioners,
vs.
HON. MELECIO A. GENATO and DOMINADOR B. BORJE, respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
The principal issue raised in this certiorari petition with a prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction is whether or not respondent Judge
committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing a Restraining Order, which had the effect of allowing private respondent, Dominador B. Borje, to
retain his position as member of the Board of Directors of the Misamis Occidental Electric Cooperative, Inc ., (MOELCI II)
Succintly stated, the pertinent facts follow:
Petitioners David Aguila and Edita Bueno are the Deputy Administrator and Director for Cooperative Development, respectively, of the National
Electrification Administration (NEA).
Petitioner Evelito Elento is the Acting General Manager of MOELCI II, while petitioners Ressurrection Inting, Antonio Lim and Wilfredo
Cabardo, are members of its Board of Directors.
Private respondent Dominador B. Borje, representing the North District of Ozamiz City, was elected Director of MOELCI II, to hold office as
such for three years starting March 25, 1979.
Section 21 of Presidential Decree No. 269 (second paragraph) provides:
The provision of any law or regulation to the contrary notwithstanding, an officer or employee of the government shag be eligible for
membership in any cooperative if he meets the qualifications therefor and he shall not be precluded from being elected to or holding any Position
therein, or from receiving such compensation or fee in relation thereto as may be authorized by the by-laws; Provided That elective officers of the
government, except barrio captains and councilors, shall be ineligible to become officers and/or directors of any cooperative, ... (emphasis
supplied)
Section 3, Article IV of the By-laws of MOELCI II also explicitly states:
Section 3. Qualifications. ... No person shall be eligible to become or to remain a Board member of the Cooperative who
xxx

xxx

xxx

(c)

holds an elective office in the government above the level of a Barangay Captain

xxx

xxx

xxx

(emphasis supplied)
On 4 January 1980, private respondent filed his certificate of candidacy for the position of member of the Sangguniang Panglunsod of Ozamiz
City in the 30 January 1980 local elections.
On 7 January 1980, the NEA, through Administrator Pedro G. Dumol, issued Memorandum No. 18 to the effect that all officials and employees
of electric cooperatives who run for public office, win and assume office, shall be considered The Memorandum was issued pursuant to the
authority granted under PD No. 1645, amending PD No. 269, reading.
10.
... the NEA is empowered to issue orders, rules and regulations ... in the exercise of its power of supervision and control over electric
cooperatives and other borrower, supervised or control entities (Sec. 5, amending Sec. 10 of P.D. No. 269). 1
On January 1980, the NEA Deputy Administrator sent a telegram to the Acting General Manager of MOELCI II stating that should private
respondent Borje be elected to the Sangguniang Bayan, he shall be considered resigned from his position as Director for the North District of

35

Ozamiz City, Private respondent moved reconsideration and requested that he be allowed to serve the unexpired term of his office in accordance
with PD No. 269. Reconsideration was denied by NEA on 7 February 1980.
On 3 March 1980, private respondent filed a Petition for "Prohibition, mandamus & Construction of Legal Provisions with Preliminary Injunction
and Damages" against petitioners before the Court of First Instance of Misamis Occidental, Branch II (Spec. Case No. 0511), seeking a
declaration of entitlement to remain and to serve his unexpired term as Director of MOELCI II until March, 1982.
On 3 March 1980, having won the election, private respondent assumed office and began discharging his functions.
On the same date, 3 March 1980, respondent Judge issued, ex- parte, a temporary restraining Order commanding petitioners considering private
respondent as resigned, and, instead, to snow him to retain his position as member of the Board of Directors of MOELCI IIpending hearing. 2
Petitioners moved to dismiss and to dissolve the Restraining Order alleging lack of cause of action and invoking section 21 of PD No. 269
(supra), section 3, Article IV of the by laws OF MOELCI II(supra), as well as section 24 of PD No. 269 providing that:
... The by-laws shall prescribe the number of directors their qualifications other than those prescribed in this Decree, the manner of holding
meetings of the board and of electing successors to directors who shall resign, die or otherwise be incapable of acting. The bylaws may also
provide for the removal of directors from office and for the election of their successors ...
On 24 March 1980, respondent Judge lifted and dissolved the Restraining Order, 3 only to restore it the next day, 25 March 1980. 4
In their Motion seeking reconsideration of the Order of 25 March 1980, petitioners stressed that NEA possessed the power and authority to
promulgate Memorandum No 18, and that, similarly, the Board of Directors of MOELCI IIhad the power to implement the same under PD No.
269, as amended by PD 1645.
Petitioners filed their Answer on 6 April 1980 reiterating the grounds in their Motion to Dismiss.
On 8 May 1980, vacation Judge Celso Largo reconsidered the Order of respondent Judge, dated 25 March 1980, and dissolved the Restraining
Order. 5
On 10 May 1980, the Board of Directors of MOELCI II held a special meeting and passed Resolution No. 121, S-80, implementing NEA Circular
No. 18 and declaring private respondent's position as member of the Board of Directors of MOELCI II vacant.
On 6 June 1980, upon a Motion for Reconsideration, respondent Judge set aside the Order of the vacation Judge, dated 8 May 1980, in effect
reviving the Restraining Order, on the ground that, as "councilor" of Ozamiz City, section 21 of PD No. 269 itself exempts private respondent
from the prohibition imposed on elective officials to become Directors of electric cooperatives. 6
Hence, this Petition filed on 29 September 1980 by petitioners, through the Solicitor General, advancing the view that Courts of First Instance
have no jurisdiction to issue a Restraining Order and that respondent Judge had committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the same.
On 10 October 1980 we required respondents to submit an Answer and issued a Restraining Order enjoining respondents from enforcing the
Order of the Court a quo dated 6 June 1980 and from conducting further proceedings in the case below. Private respondent Borje has filed his
Answer, petitioners have submitted their Reply, and on 2 February 1981, we resolved to give due course to the Petition and to consider the case
submitted for decision.
We find that respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, in issuing the various Restraining Orders, the last
of which was dated 6 June 1980. Private respondent has shown no clear and explicit right to the position of Director of MOELCI IIand is,
therefore, not entitled to a Restraining Order, which partook of the nature of a mandatory Injunction, commanding as it did that private
respondent be retained in his position as such Director. By having been elected member of the Sangguniang Panglunsod of Ozamiz City, private
respondent rendered himself ineligible to continue serving as a Director of MOELCI IIby virtue of the clear mandate of PD No. 269 providing
that except for "barrio captains and councilors", elective officials are ineligible to become officers and/or directors of any cooperative. It is clear
to us that the term barrio modifies both captains and councilors. Further, the MOELCI II, by-laws explicitly state that no person can remain a
member of the Board if he "holds an elective office above the level of barrio captain.
Private respondent's argument that PD 269 (sec. 21) does not prohibit Board members of a cooperatives from continuing in their position prior to
their election, and that pursuant to section 24 of PD No. 269 he is entitled, as Director, to hold office for the term for which he is erected and until
his successor is elected and qualified," is untenable. Eligibility to an office should be construed as of a continuing nature and must exist at the
commencement of the term and during occupancy of the office. The fact that private respondent may have been qualified at the time he assumed
the Directorship is not sufficient to entitle him to continue holding office, if during the continuance of his incumbency he ceases to be qualified.
Private respondent was qualified to become a director of MOELCI II at the time of the commencement of his term, but his election as member of
the Sangguniang Panglunsod of Ozamiz City, and his subsequent assumption of office, disqualified him to continue as such.
Moreover, it should be recalled that when respondent Judge issued the Restraining Order of 6 June 1980. NEA Memorandum Circular No. 18 had
already been implemented by the MOELCI Board in the latter's Resolution No. 121, passed on 10 May 1980, declaring the position of private
respondent, as Director, vacant. Strictly speaking, therefore, there was no longer any position which private respondent could retain.

36

WHEREFORE, finding that respondent Judge acted with grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack of jurisdiction in issuing the Restraining
Order, dated 6 June 1980, the said Order is hereby annulled and set aside, and the Petition in Special Civil Case No. 05IIof the Court below
hereby ordered dismissed. The temporary Restraining Order heretofore issued by this Court is hereby made permanent. No pronouncement as to
costs.
SO ORDERED.

37