You are on page 1of 128

CONSTI 2 1

Citizenship
EN BANC

DECISION
VITUG, J.:

[G.R. No. 161434. March 3, 2004]


MARIA JEANETTE C. TECSON and FELIX B. DESIDERIO,
JR., petitioners,
vs. The
COMMISSION
ON
ELECTIONS, RONALD ALLAN KELLY POE (a.k.a.
FERNANDO POE, JR.) and VICTORINO X.
FORNIER, respondents.

[G.R. No. 161634. March 3, 2004]


ZOILO ANTONIO VELEZ, petitioner, vs. RONALD ALLAN
KELLEY
POE, a.k.a. FERNANDO
POE,
JR., respondent.

[G. R. No. 161824. March 3, 2004]


VICTORINO
X.
FORNIER, petitioner, vs.
HON.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and RONALD
ALLAN KELLEY POE, ALSO KNOWN AS
FERNANDO POE JR., respondents.

Citizenship is a treasured right conferred on those


whom the state believes are deserving of the privilege. It
is a precious heritage, as well as an inestimable
acquisition,[1] that cannot be taken lightly by anyone either by those who enjoy it or by those who dispute it.
Before the Court are three consolidated cases, all of
which raise a single question of profound importance to the
nation. The issue of citizenship is brought up to challenge the
qualifications of a presidential candidate to hold the highest
office of the land. Our people are waiting for the judgment of
the Court with bated breath. Is Fernando Poe, Jr., the hero of
silver screen, and now one of the main contenders for the
presidency, a natural-born Filipino or is he not?
The moment of introspection takes us face to face with
Spanish and American colonial roots and reminds us of the
rich heritage of civil law and common law traditions, the fusion
resulting in a hybrid of laws and jurisprudence that could be no
less than distinctly Filipino.
Antecedent Case Settings
On 31 December 2003, respondent Ronald Allan Kelly
Poe, also known as Fernando Poe, Jr. (hereinafter "FPJ"), filed
his certificate of candidacy for the position of President of the
Republic of the Philippines under the Koalisyon ng

CONSTI 2 2
Citizenship
Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) Party, in the forthcoming national
elections. In his certificate of candidacy, FPJ, representing
himself to be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, stated
his name to be "Fernando Jr.," or "Ronald Allan" Poe, his date
of birth to be 20 August 1939 and his place of birth to
be Manila.
Victorino X. Fornier, petitioner in G.R. No. 161824, entitled
"Victorino X. Fornier, Petitioner, versus Hon. Commission on
Elections and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, also known as
Fernando Poe, Jr., Respondents," initiated, on 09 January
2004, a petition docketed SPA No. 04-003 before the
Commission on Elections ("COMELEC") to disqualify FPJ and
to deny due course or to cancel his certificate of candidacy
upon the thesis that FPJ made a material misrepresentation in
his certificate of candidacy by claiming to be a natural-born
Filipino citizen when in truth, according to Fornier, his parents
were foreigners; his mother, Bessie Kelley Poe, was an
American, and his father, Allan Poe, was a Spanish national,
being the son of Lorenzo Pou, a Spanish subject. Granting,
petitioner asseverated, that Allan F. Poe was a Filipino citizen,
he could not have transmitted his Filipino citizenship to FPJ,
the latter being an illegitimate child of an alien
mother. Petitioner based the allegation of the illegitimate birth
of respondent on two assertions - first, Allan F. Poe contracted
a prior marriage to a certain Paulita Gomez before his
marriage to Bessie Kelley and, second, even if no such prior
marriage had existed, Allan F. Poe, married Bessie Kelly only a
year after the birth of respondent.
In the hearing before the Third Division of the COMELEC
on 19 January 2004, petitioner, in support of his claim,

presented several documentary exhibits - 1) a copy of the


certificate of birth of FPJ, 2) a certified photocopy of an
affidavit executed in Spanish by Paulita Poe y Gomez attesting
to her having filed a case for bigamy and concubinage against
the father of respondent, Allan F. Poe, after discovering his
bigamous relationship with Bessie Kelley, 3) an English
translation of the affidavit aforesaid, 4) a certified photocopy of
the certificate of birth of Allan F. Poe, 5) a certification issued
by the Director of the Records Management and Archives
Office, attesting to the fact that there was no record in the
National Archives that a Lorenzo Poe or Lorenzo Pou resided
or entered the Philippines before 1907, and 6) a certification
from the Officer-In-Charge of the Archives Division of the
National Archives to the effect that no available information
could be found in the files of the National Archives regarding
the birth of Allan F. Poe.
On his part, respondent, presented twenty-two
documentary pieces of evidence, the more significant ones
being - a) a certification issued by Estrella M. Domingo of the
Archives Division of the National Archives that there appeared
to be no available information regarding the birth of Allan F.
Poe in the registry of births for San Carlos, Pangasinan, b) a
certification issued by the Officer-In-Charge of the Archives
Division of the National Archives that no available information
about the marriage of Allan F. Poe and Paulita Gomez could
be found, c) a certificate of birth of Ronald Allan Poe, d)
Original Certificate of Title No. P-2247 of the Registry of Deeds
for the Province of Pangasinan, in the name of Lorenzo Pou,
e) copies of Tax Declaration No. 20844, No. 20643, No. 23477
and No. 23478 in the name of Lorenzo Pou, f) a copy of the
certificate of death of Lorenzo Pou, g) a copy of the purported

CONSTI 2 3
Citizenship
marriage contract between Fernando Pou and Bessie Kelley,
and h) a certification issued by the City Civil Registrar of San
Carlos City, Pangasinan, stating that the records of birth in the
said office during the period of from 1900 until May 1946 were
totally destroyed during World War II.
On 23 January 2004, the COMELEC dismissed SPA No.
04-003 for lack of merit. Three days later, or on 26 January
2004, Fornier filed his motion for reconsideration. The motion
was denied on 06 February 2004 by the COMELEC en
banc. On 10 February 2004, petitioner assailed the decision of
the COMELEC before this Court conformably with Rule 64, in
relation to Rule 65, of the Revised Rules of Civil
Procedure. The petition, docketed G. R. No. 161824, likewise
prayed for a temporary restraining order, a writ of preliminary
injunction or any other resolution that would stay the finality
and/or execution of the COMELEC resolutions.

In G. R. No. 161824
In seeking the disqualification of the candidacy of FPJ and
to have the COMELEC deny due course to or cancel FPJs
certificate of candidacy for alleged misrepresentation of a
material fact (i.e., that FPJ was a natural-born citizen) before
the COMELEC, petitioner Fornier invoked Section 78 of the
Omnibus Election Code
Section 78. Petition to deny due course to or 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
in consonance with the general powers of COMELEC
expressed in Section 52 of the Omnibus Election Code -

The other petitions, later consolidated with G. R. No.


161824, would include G. R. No. 161434, entitled "Maria
Jeanette C. Tecson, and Felix B. Desiderio, Jr., vs. The
Commission on Elections, Ronald Allan Kelley Poe
(a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr.), and Victorino X. Fornier," and the
other, docketed G. R. No. 161634, entitled "Zoilo Antonio G.
Velez, vs. Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr.,"
both challenging the jurisdiction of the COMELEC and
asserting that, under Article VII, Section 4, paragraph 7, of the
1987 Constitution, only the Supreme Court had original and
exclusive jurisdiction to resolve the basic issue on the case.

Section 52. Powers and functions of the Commission on Elections. In


addition to the powers and functions conferred upon it by the
Constitution, the Commission shall have exclusive charge of the
enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of
elections for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly and honest
elections -

Jurisdiction of the Court

Decisions of the COMELEC on disqualification cases may


be reviewed by the Supreme Court per Rule 64 [2] in an action

and in relation to Article 69 of the Omnibus Election Code


which would authorize "any interested party" to file a verified
petition to deny or cancel the certificate of candidacy of any
nuisance candidate.

CONSTI 2 4
Citizenship
for certiorari under Rule 65[3] of the Revised Rules of Civil
Procedure. Section 7, Article IX, of the 1987 Constitution also
reads
"Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its
Members any case or matter brought before it within sixty days from
the date of its submission for decision or resolution. A case or matter
is deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the
last pleading, brief, or memorandum, required by the rules of the
Commission or by the Commission itself. Unless otherwise provided
by this Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each
Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by
the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy
thereof."
Additionally, Section 1, Article VIII, of the same
Constitution provides that judicial power is vested in one
Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be
established by law which power includes the duty of the courts
of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which
are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any
branch or instrumentality of the Government.
It is sufficiently clear that the petition brought up in G. R.
No. 161824 was aptly elevated to, and could well be taken
cognizance of by, this Court. A contrary view could be a gross
denial to our people of their fundamental right to be fully
informed, and to make a proper choice, on who could or
should be elected to occupy the highest government post in
the land.

In G. R. No. 161434 and G. R. No. 161634


Petitioners Tecson, et al., in G. R. No. 161434, and Velez,
in G. R. No. 161634, invoke the provisions of Article VII,
Section 4, paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution in assailing
the jurisdiction of the COMELEC when it took cognizance of
SPA No. 04-003 and in urging the Supreme Court to instead
take on the petitions they directly instituted before it. The
Constitutional provision cited reads:
"The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all
contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the
President or Vice-President, and may promulgate its rules for the
purpose."
The provision is an innovation of the 1987 Constitution. The
omission in the 1935 and the 1973 Constitution to designate
any tribunal to be the sole judge of presidential and vicepresidential contests, has constrained this Court to declare, in
Lopez vs. Roxas,[4] as not (being) justiciable controversies or
disputes involving contests on the elections, returns and
qualifications of the President or Vice-President. The
constitutional lapse prompted Congress, on 21 June 1957, to
enact Republic Act No. 1793, "An Act Constituting an
Independent Presidential Electoral Tribunal to Try, Hear and
Decide Protests Contesting the Election of the President-Elect
and the Vice-President-Elect of the Philippines and Providing
for the Manner of Hearing the Same." Republic Act 1793
designated the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the
Supreme Court to be the members of the tribunal. Although
the subsequent adoption of the parliamentary form of
government under the 1973 Constitution might have implicitly

CONSTI 2 5
Citizenship
affected Republic Act No. 1793, the statutory set-up,
nonetheless, would now be deemed revived under the present
Section 4, paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution.
Ordinary usage would characterize a "contest" in
reference to a post-election scenario. Election contests consist
of either an election protest or a quo warranto which, although
two distinct remedies, would have one objective in view, i.e., to
dislodge the winning candidate from office. A perusal of the
phraseology in Rule 12, Rule 13, and Rule 14 of the "Rules of
the Presidential Electoral Tribunal," promulgated by the
Supreme Court en banc on 18 April 1992, would support this
premise Rule 12. Jurisdiction. - The Tribunal shall be the sole judge of all
contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the
President or Vice-President of the Philippines.
Rule 13. How Initiated. - An election contest is initiated by the filing
of an election protest or a petition for quo warranto against the
President or Vice-President. An election protest shall not include a
petition for quo warranto. A petition for quo warranto shall not
include an election protest.
Rule 14. Election Protest. - Only the registered candidate for
President or for Vice-President of the Philippines who received the
second or third highest number of votes may contest the election of
the President or the Vice-President, as the case may be, by filing a
verified petition with the Clerk of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal
within thirty (30) days after the proclamation of the winner.

The rules categorically speak of the jurisdiction of the


tribunal over contests relating to the election, returns and
qualifications of the "President" or "Vice-President", of
the Philippines, and not of "candidates" for President or VicePresident. A quo warranto proceeding is generally defined as
being an action against a person who usurps, intrudes into, or
unlawfully holds or exercises a public office.[5] In such context,
the election contest can only contemplate a postelection scenario. In Rule 14, only a registered candidate who
would have received either the second or third highest number
of votes could file an election protest. This rule again
presupposes a post-election scenario.
It is fair to conclude that the jurisdiction of the Supreme
Court, defined by Section 4, paragraph 7, of the 1987
Constitution, would not include cases directly brought before it,
questioning the qualifications of a candidate for the presidency
or vice-presidency before the elections are held.
Accordingly, G. R. No. 161434, entitled "Maria Jeanette C.
Tecson, et al., vs. Commission on Elections et al.," and G. R.
No. 161634, entitled "Zoilo Antonio Velez vs. Ronald Allan
Kelley Poe a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr." would have to be
dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

The Citizenship Issue


Now, to the basic issue; it should be helpful to first give a
brief historical background on the concept of citizenship.

CONSTI 2 6
Citizenship
Perhaps, the earliest understanding of citizenship was that
given by Aristotle, who, sometime in 384 to 322 B.C.,
described the "citizen" to refer to a man who shared in the
administration of justice and in the holding of an office.
[6]
Aristotle saw its significance if only to determine the
constituency of the "State," which he described as being
composed of such persons who would be adequate in number
to achieve a self-sufficient existence.[7] The concept grew to
include one who would both govern and be governed, for
which qualifications like autonomy, judgment and loyalty could
be expected. Citizenship was seen to deal with rights and
entitlements, on the one hand, and with concomitant
obligations, on the other.[8] In its ideal setting, a citizen was
active in public life and fundamentally willing to submit his
private interests to the general interest of society.
The concept of citizenship had undergone changes over
the centuries. In the 18th century, the concept was limited, by
and large, to civil citizenship, which established the rights
necessary for individual freedom, such as rights to property,
personal liberty and justice.[9] Its meaning expanded during the
19th century to include political citizenship, which
encompassed the right to participate in the exercise of political
power.[10] The 20th century saw the next stage of the
development of social citizenship, which laid emphasis on the
right of the citizen to economic well-being and social security.
[11]
The idea of citizenship has gained expression in the
modern welfare state as it so developed in Western
Europe. An ongoing and final stage of development, in
keeping with the rapidly shrinking global village, might well be
the internationalization of citizenship.[12]

The Local Setting - from Spanish


Times to the Present
There was no such term as "Philippine citizens" during the
Spanish regime but "subjects of Spain" or "Spanish
subjects."[13] In church records, the natives were called 'indios',
denoting a low regard for the inhabitants of the
archipelago. Spanish laws on citizenship became highly
codified during the 19th century but their sheer number made
it difficult to point to one comprehensive law. Not all of these
citizenship laws of Spain however, were made to apply to the
Philippine Islands except for those explicitly extended by Royal
Decrees.[14]
Spanish laws on citizenship were traced back to
the Novisima Recopilacion, promulgated in Spain on 16 July
1805 but as to whether the law was extended to the
Philippines remained to be the subject of differing views
among experts;[15] however, three royal decrees were
undisputably made applicable to Spaniards in the Philippines the Order de la Regencia of 14 August 1841,[16] the Royal
Decree of 23 August 1868 specifically defining the political
status of children born in the Philippine Islands, [17] and finally,
the Ley Extranjera de Ultramar of 04 July 1870, which was
expressly made applicable to the Philippines by the Royal
Decree of 13 July 1870.[18]
The Spanish Constitution of 1876 was never extended to
the Philippine Islands because of the express mandate of its
Article 89, according to which the provisions of

CONSTI 2 7
Citizenship
the Ultramar among which this country was included, would be
governed by special laws.[19]
It was only the Civil Code of Spain, made effective in this
jurisdiction on 18 December 1889, which came out with the
first categorical enumeration of who were Spanish citizens. (a) Persons born in Spanish territory,
(b) Children of a Spanish father or mother, even if they
were born outside of Spain,
(c) Foreigners who have obtained naturalization papers,
(d) Those who, without such papers, may have become
domiciled inhabitants of any town of the Monarchy.

"Spanish subjects, natives of the Peninsula, residing in the territory


over which Spain by the present treaty relinquishes or cedes her
sovereignty may remain in such territory or may remove therefrom,
retaining in either event all their rights of property, including the
right to sell or dispose of such property or of its proceeds; and they
shall also have the right to carry on their industry, commerce, and
professions, being subject in respect thereof to such laws as are
applicable to foreigners. In case they remain in the territory they may
preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain by making, before a
court of record, within a year from the date of the exchange of
ratifications of this treaty, a declaration of their decision to preserve
such allegiance; in default of which declaration they shall be held to
have renounced it and to have adopted the nationality of the territory
in which they reside.
Thus

[20]

The year 1898 was another turning point in Philippine


history. Already in the state of decline as a superpower, Spain
was forced to so cede her sole colony in the East to an
upcoming world power, the United States. An accepted
principle of international law dictated that a change in
sovereignty, while resulting in an abrogation of all political laws
then in force, would have no effect on civil laws, which would
remain virtually intact.
The Treaty of Paris was entered into on 10 December
1898 between Spain and the United States. [21] Under Article IX
of the treaty, the civil rights and political status of the native
inhabitants of the territories ceded to the United States would
be determined by its Congress -

"The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants of the
territories hereby ceded to the United States shall be determined by
the Congress."[22]
Upon the ratification of the treaty, and pending legislation by
the United States Congress on the subject, the native
inhabitants of the Philippines ceased to be Spanish
subjects. Although they did not become American citizens,
they, however, also ceased to be "aliens" under American laws
and were thus issued passports describing them to be citizens
of the Philippines entitled to the protection of the United
States.
The term "citizens of the Philippine Islands" appeared for
the first time in the Philippine Bill of 1902, also commonly

CONSTI 2 8
Citizenship
referred to as the Philippine Organic Act of 1902, the first
comprehensive legislation of the Congress of the United
States on the Philippines ".... that all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands continuing to reside
therein, who were Spanish subjects on the 11th day of April, 1891,
and then resided in said Islands, and their children born subsequent
thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine
Islands and as such entitled to the protection of the United States,
except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the
Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of
peace between the United States and Spain, signed at Paris,
December tenth eighteen hundred and ninety eight."[23]
Under the organic act, a citizen of the Philippines was one who
was an inhabitant of the Philippines, and a Spanish subject on
the 11th day of April 1899. The term inhabitant was taken to
include 1) a native-born inhabitant, 2) an inhabitant who was a
native of Peninsular Spain, and 3) an inhabitant who obtained
Spanish papers on or before 11 April 1899.[24]
Controversy arose on to the status of children born in the
Philippines from 11 April 1899 to 01 July 1902, during which
period no citizenship law was extant in the Philippines. Weight
was given to the view, articulated in jurisprudential writing at
the time, that the common law principle of jus soli, otherwise
also known as the principle of territoriality, operative in the
United States and England, governed those born in the
Philippine Archipelago within that period.[25] More about this
later.

In 23 March 1912, the Congress of the United States


made the following amendment to the Philippine Bill of 1902 "Provided, That the Philippine Legislature is hereby authorized to
provide by law for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those
natives of the Philippine Islands who do not come within the
foregoing provisions, the natives of other insular possession of the
United States, and such other persons residing in the Philippine
Islands who would become citizens of the United States, under the
laws of the United States, if residing therein."[26]
With the adoption of the Philippine Bill of 1902, the
concept of "Philippine citizens" had for the first time
crystallized. The word "Filipino" was used by William H. Taft,
the first Civil Governor General in the Philippines when he
initially made mention of it in his slogan, "The Philippines for
the Filipinos." In 1916, the Philippine Autonomy Act, also
known as the Jones Law restated virtually the provisions of the
Philippine Bill of 1902, as so amended by the Act of Congress
in 1912 That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands who were Spanish
subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninetynine, and then resided in said Islands, and their children born
subsequently thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the
Philippine Islands, except such as shall have elected to preserve
their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the
provisions of the treaty of peace between the United States and
Spain, signed at Paris December tenth, eighteen hundred and ninetyeight and except such others as have since become citizens of some
other country; Provided, That the Philippine Legislature, herein
provided for, is hereby authorized to provide for the acquisition of

CONSTI 2 9
Citizenship
Philippine citizenship by those natives of the Philippine Islands who
do not come within the foregoing provisions, the natives of the
insular possessions of the United States, and such other persons
residing in the Philippine Islands who are citizens of the United
States, or who could become citizens of the United States under the
laws of the United States, if residing therein."

(4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and upon
reaching the age of majority, elect Philippine citizenship.
(5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

While there was, at one brief time, divergent views on


whether or not jus soli was a mode of acquiring citizenship, the
1935 Constitution brought to an end to any such link with
common law, by adopting, once and for all, jus sanguinis or
blood relationship as being the basis of Filipino citizenship -

Subsection (4), Article III, of the 1935 Constitution, taken


together with existing civil law provisions at the time, which
provided that women would automatically lose their Filipino
citizenship and acquire that of their foreign husbands, resulted
in discriminatory situations that effectively incapacitated the
women from transmitting their Filipino citizenship to their
legitimate children and required illegitimate children of Filipino
mothers to still elect Filipino citizenship upon reaching the age
of majority. Seeking to correct this anomaly, as well as fully
cognizant of the newly found status of Filipino women as
equals to men, the framers of the 1973 Constitution crafted the
provisions of the new Constitution on citizenship to reflect such
concerns -

Section 1, Article III, 1935 Constitution. The following are citizens


of the Philippines -

Section 1, Article III, 1973 Constitution - The following are citizens


of the Philippines:

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of the
adoption of this Constitution

(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the
adoption of this Constitution.

(2) Those born in the Philippines Islands of foreign parents who,


before the adoption of this Constitution, had been elected to public
office in the Philippine Islands.

(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the


Philippines.

Under the Jones Law, a native-born inhabitant of the


Philippines was deemed to be a citizen of the Philippines as of
11 April 1899 if he was 1) a subject of Spain on 11 April 1899,
2) residing in the Philippines on said date, and, 3) since that
date, not a citizen of some other country.

(3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines.

(3) Those who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions


of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-five.
(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

CONSTI 2 10
Citizenship
For good measure, Section 2 of the same article also
further provided that
"A female citizen of the Philippines who marries an alien retains her
Philippine citizenship, unless by her act or omission she is deemed,
under the law to have renounced her citizenship."
The 1987 Constitution generally adopted the provisions of
the 1973 Constitution, except for subsection (3) thereof that
aimed to correct the irregular situation generated by the
questionable proviso in the 1935 Constitution.
Section I, Article IV, 1987 Constitution now provides:
The following are citizens of the Philippines:
(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the
adoption of this Constitution.
(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the
Philippines.
(3) Those born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who
elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority;
and
(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.
The Case Of FPJ
Section 2, Article VII, of the 1987 Constitution expresses:

"No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born


citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write,
at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of
the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such
election."
The term "natural-born citizens," is defined to include
"those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without
having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine
citizenship."[27]
The date, month and year of birth of FPJ appeared to be
20 August 1939 during the regime of the 1935
Constitution. Through its history, four modes of acquiring
citizenship - naturalization, jus soli, res judicata and jus
sanguinis[28] had been in vogue. Only two, i.e., jus soli and jus
sanguinis, could qualify a person to being a natural-born
citizen of the Philippines. Jus soli, per Roa vs. Collector of
Customs[29] (1912), did not last long. With the adoption of the
1935 Constitution and the reversal of Roa in Tan Chong vs.
Secretary
of
Labor[30] (1947), jus
sanguinis or
blood
relationship would now become the primary basis of
citizenship by birth.
Documentary evidence adduced by petitioner would tend
to indicate that the earliest established direct ascendant of FPJ
was his paternal grandfather Lorenzo Pou, married to Marta
Reyes, the father of Allan F. Poe. While the record of birth of
Lorenzo Pou had not been presented in evidence, his death
certificate, however, identified him to be a Filipino, a resident
of San Carlos, Pangasinan, and 84 years old at the time of his
death on 11 September 1954. The certificate of birth of the

CONSTI 2 11
Citizenship
father of FPJ, Allan F. Poe, showed that he was born on 17
May 1915 to an Espaol father, Lorenzo Pou, and a mestiza
Espaol mother, Marta Reyes. Introduced by petitioner was an
uncertified copy of a supposed certificate of the alleged
marriage of Allan F. Poe and Paulita Gomez on 05 July
1936. The marriage certificate of Allan F. Poe and Bessie
Kelley reflected the date of their marriage to be on 16
September 1940. In the same certificate, Allan F. Poe was
stated to be twenty-five years old, unmarried, and a Filipino
citizen, and Bessie Kelley to be twenty-two years old,
unmarried, and an American citizen. The birth certificate of
FPJ, would disclose that he was born on 20 August 1939 to
Allan F. Poe, a Filipino, twenty-four years old, married to
Bessie Kelly, an American citizen, twenty-one years old and
married.
Considering the reservations made by the parties on the
veracity of some of the entries on the birth certificate of
respondent and the marriage certificate of his parents, the only
conclusions that could be drawn with some degree of certainty
from the documents would be that 1. The parents of FPJ were Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley;
2. FPJ was born to them on 20 August 1939;
3. Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley were married to each
other on 16 September, 1940;
4. The father of Allan F. Poe was Lorenzo Poe; and

5. At the time of his death on 11 September 1954, Lorenzo


Poe was 84 years old.
Would the above facts be sufficient or insufficient to
establish the fact that FPJ is a natural-born Filipino
citizen? The marriage certificate of Allan F. Poe and Bessie
Kelley, the birth certificate of FPJ, and the death certificate of
Lorenzo Pou are documents of public record in the custody of
a public officer. The documents have been submitted in
evidence by both contending parties during the proceedings
before the COMELEC.
The birth certificate of FPJ was marked Exhibit "A" for
petitioner and Exhibit "3" for respondent. The marriage
certificate of Allan F. Poe to Bessie Kelley was submitted as
Exhibit "21" for respondent. The death certificate of Lorenzo
Pou was submitted by respondent as his Exhibit "5." While the
last two documents were submitted in evidence for
respondent, the admissibility thereof, particularly in reference
to the facts which they purported to show, i.e., the marriage
certificate in relation to the date of marriage of Allan F. Poe to
Bessie Kelley and the death certificate relative to the death of
Lorenzo Pou on 11 September 1954 in San Carlos,
Pangasinan, were all admitted by petitioner, who had utilized
those material statements in his argument. All three
documents were certified true copies of the originals.
Section 3, Rule 130, Rules of Court states that Original document must be produced; exceptions. - When the subject
of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be

CONSTI 2 12
Citizenship
admissible other than the original document itself, except in the
following cases:
xxxxxxxxx
(d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public
office or is recorded in a public office.
Being public documents, the death certificate of Lorenzo Pou,
the marriage certificate of Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelly, and
the birth certificate of FPJ, constitute prima facie proof of their
contents. Section 44, Rule 130, of the Rules of Court provides:
Entries in official records. Entries in official records made in the
performance of his duty by a public officer of the Philippines, or by a
person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law,
are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated.

Pou was not in the Philippines during the crucial period of from
1898 to 1902 considering that there was no existing record
about such fact in the Records Management and Archives
Office. Petitioner, however, likewise failed to show that
Lorenzo Pou was at any other place during the same
period. In his death certificate, the residence of Lorenzo Pou
was stated to be San Carlos, Pangasinan. In the absence of
any evidence to the contrary, it should be sound to conclude,
or at least to presume, that the place of residence of a person
at the time of his death was also his residence before death. It
would be extremely doubtful if the Records Management and
Archives Office would have had complete records of all
residents of the Philippines from 1898 to 1902.

Proof of Paternity and Filiation

The trustworthiness of public documents and the value


given to the entries made therein could be grounded on 1) the
sense of official duty in the preparation of the statement made,
2) the penalty which is usually affixed to a breach of that duty,
3) the routine and disinterested origin of most such
statements, and 4) the publicity of record which makes more
likely the prior exposure of such errors as might have
occurred.[31]

Under Civil Law.

The death certificate of Lorenzo Pou would indicate that


he died on 11 September 1954, at the age of 84 years, in San
Carlos, Pangasinan. It could thus be assumed that Lorenzo
Pou was born sometime in the year 1870 when the Philippines
was still a colony of Spain. Petitioner would argue that Lorenzo

Under the Civil Code of Spain, which was in force in the


Philippines from 08 December 1889 up until the day prior to 30
August 1950 when the Civil Code of the Philippines took
effect, acknowledgment was required to establish filiation or
paternity. Acknowledgment was either judicial (compulsory) or

Petitioner submits, in any case, that in establishing filiation


(relationship or civil status of the child to the father [or mother])
or paternity (relationship or civil status of the father to the
child) of an illegitimate child, FPJ evidently being an
illegitimate son according to petitioner, the mandatory rules
under civil law must be used.

CONSTI 2 13
Citizenship
voluntary. Judicial or compulsory acknowledgment was
possible only if done during the lifetime of the putative parent;
voluntary acknowledgment could only be had in a record of
birth, a will, or a public document.[32] Complementary to the
new code was Act No. 3753 or the Civil Registry Law
expressing in Section 5 thereof, that -

wherein voluntary recognition of a natural child may also be made,


according to the same Article 131. True enough, but in such a case,
there must be a clear statement in the document that the parent
recognizes the child as his or her own."

In case of an illegitimate child, the birth certificate shall be signed


and sworn to jointly by the parents of the infant or only by the
mother if the father refuses. In the latter case, it shall not be
permissible to state or reveal in the document the name of the father
who refuses to acknowledge the child, or to give therein any
information by which such father could be identified.

In the birth certificate of respondent FPJ, presented by


both parties, nowhere in the document was the signature of
Allan F. Poe found. There being no will apparently executed, or
at least shown to have been executed, by decedent Allan F.
Poe, the only other proof of voluntary recognition remained to
be "some other public document." In Pareja vs. Pareja,[35] this
Court defined what could constitute such a document as proof
of voluntary acknowledgment:

In order that the birth certificate could then be utilized to prove


voluntary acknowledgment of filiation or paternity, the
certificate was required to be signed or sworn to by the
father. The failure of such requirement rendered the same
useless as being an authoritative document of recognition.
[33]
In Mendoza vs. Mella,[34] the Court ruled -

"Under the Spanish Civil Code there are two classes of public
documents, those executed by private individuals which must be
authenticated by notaries, and those issued by competent public
officials by reason of their office. The public document pointed out
in Article 131 as one of the means by which recognition may be
made belongs to the first class."

"Since Rodolfo was born in 1935, after the registry law was enacted,
the question here really is whether or not his birth certificate (Exhibit
1), which is merely a certified copy of the registry record, may be
relied upon as sufficient proof of his having been voluntarily
recognized. No such reliance, in our judgment, may be placed upon
it. While it contains the names of both parents, there is no showing
that they signed the original, let alone swore to its contents as
required in Section 5 of Act No. 3753. For all that might have
happened, it was not even they or either of them who furnished the
data to be entered in the civil register. Petitioners say that in any
event the birth certificate is in the nature of a public document

Let us leave it at that for the moment.


The 1950 Civil Code categorized the acknowledgment or
recognition of illegitimate children into voluntary, legal or
compulsory. Voluntary recognition was required to be
expressedly made in a record of birth, a will, a statement
before a court of record or in any authentic writing. Legal
acknowledgment took place in favor of full blood brothers and
sisters of an illegitimate child who was recognized or judicially
declared as natural. Compulsory acknowledgment could be
demanded generally in cases when the child had in his favor

CONSTI 2 14
Citizenship
any evidence to prove filiation. Unlike an action to claim
legitimacy which would last during the lifetime of the child, and
might pass exceptionally to the heirs of the child, an action to
claim acknowledgment, however, could only be brought during
the lifetime of the presumed parent.
Amicus Curiae Ruben F. Balane defined, during the oral
argument, "authentic writing," so as to be an authentic writing
for purposes of voluntary recognition, simply as being a
genuine or indubitable writing of the father. The term would
include a public instrument (one duly acknowledged before a
notary public or other competent official) or a private writing
admitted by the father to be his.
The Family Code has further liberalized the rules; Article
172, Article 173, and Article 175 provide:
Art. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any of
the following:
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final
judgment; or
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document or a
private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent concerned.

(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and special laws.
Art. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be brought by the child
during his or her lifetime and shall be transmitted to the heirs should
the child die during minority or in a state of insanity. In these cases,
the heirs shall have a period of five years within which to institute
the action.
The action already commenced by the child shall survive
notwithstanding the death of either or both of the parties.
x x x x x x x x x.
Art. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate
filiation in the same way and on the same, evidence as legitimate
children.
The action must be brought within the same period specified in
Article 173, except when the action is based on the second paragraph
of Article 172, in which case the action may be brought during the
lifetime of the alleged parent.
The provisions of the Family Code are retroactively
applied; Article 256 of the code reads:

In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation shall


be proved by:

"Art. 256. This Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it does
not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in accordance with
the Civil Code or other laws.

(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a legitimate


child; or

Thus, in Vda. de Sy-Quia vs. Court of Appeals,[36] the


Court has ruled:

CONSTI 2 15
Citizenship
"We hold that whether Jose was a voluntarily recognized natural
child should be decided under Article 278 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines. Article 2260 of that Code provides that 'the voluntary
recognition of a natural child shall take place according to this Code,
even if the child was born before the effectivity of this body of laws'
or before August 30, 1950. Hence, Article 278 may be given
retroactive effect."
It should be apparent that the growing trend to liberalize
the acknowledgment or recognition of illegitimate children is an
attempt to break away from the traditional idea of keeping well
apart legitimate and non-legitimate relationships within the
family in favor of the greater interest and welfare of the
child. The provisions are intended to merely govern the private
and personal affairs of the family. There is little, if any, to
indicate that the legitimate or illegitimate civil status of the
individual would also affect his political rights or, in general, his
relationship to the State. While, indeed, provisions on
"citizenship" could be found in the Civil Code, such provisions
must be taken in the context of private relations, the domain of
civil law; particularly "Civil Law is that branch of law which has for its double purpose the
organization of the family and the regulation of property. It has thus
[been] defined as the mass of precepts which determine and regulate
the relations of assistance, authority and obedience among members
of a family, and those which exist among members of a society for
the protection of private interests."[37]
In Yaez de Barnuevo vs. Fuster,[38] the Court has held:

"In accordance with Article 9 of the Civil Code of Spain, x x x the


laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition
and legal capacity of persons, govern Spaniards although they reside
in a foreign country; that, in consequence, 'all questions of a civil
nature, such as those dealing with the validity or nullity of the
matrimonial bond, the domicile of the husband and wife, their
support, as between them, the separation of their properties, the rules
governing property, marital authority, division of conjugal property,
the classification of their property, legal causes for divorce, the
extent of the latter, the authority to decree it, and, in general, the civil
effects of marriage and divorce upon the persons and properties of
the spouses, are questions that are governed exclusively by the
national law of the husband and wife."
The relevance of "citizenship" or "nationality" to Civil Law
is best exemplified in Article 15 of the Civil Code, stating that "Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition
and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the
Philippines, even though living abroad" that explains the need to incorporate in the code a reiteration
of the Constitutional provisions on citizenship. Similarly,
citizenship is significant in civil relationships found in different
parts of the Civil Code,[39] such as on successional rights and
family relations.[40] In adoption, for instance, an adopted child
would be considered the child of his adoptive parents and
accorded the same rights as their legitimate child but such
legal fiction extended only to define his rights under civil
law[41] and not his political status.

CONSTI 2 16
Citizenship
Civil law provisions point to an obvious bias against
illegitimacy. This discriminatory attitude may be traced to the
Spanish family and property laws, which, while defining
proprietary and successional rights of members of the family,
provided distinctions in the rights of legitimate and illegitimate
children. In the monarchial set-up of old Spain, the distribution
and inheritance of titles and wealth were strictly according to
bloodlines and the concern to keep these bloodlines
uncontaminated by foreign blood was paramount.
These distinctions between legitimacy and illegitimacy
were codified in the Spanish Civil Code, and the invidious
discrimination survived when the Spanish Civil Code became
the primary source of our own Civil Code. Such distinction,
however, remains and should remain only in the sphere of civil
law and not unduly impede or impinge on the domain of
political law.
The proof of filiation or paternity for purposes of
determining his citizenship status should thus be deemed
independent from and not inextricably tied up with that
prescribed for civil law purposes. The Civil Code or Family
Code provisions on proof of filiation or paternity, although good
law, do not have preclusive effects on matters alien to
personal and family relations. The ordinary rules on evidence
could well and should govern. For instance, the matter about
pedigree is not necessarily precluded from being applicable by
the Civil Code or Family Code provisions.
Section 39, Rule 130, of the Rules of Court provides -

Act or Declaration about pedigree. The act or declaration of a person


deceased, or unable to testify, in respect to the pedigree of another
person related to him by birth or marriage, may be received in
evidence where it occurred before the controversy, and the
relationship between the two persons is shown by evidence other
than such act or declaration. The word `pedigree includes
relationship, family genealogy, birth, marriage, death, the dates when
and the places where these facts occurred, and the names of the
relatives. It embraces also facts of family history intimately
connected with pedigree.
For the above rule to apply, it would be necessary that (a)
the declarant is already dead or unable to testify, (b) the
pedigree of a person must be at issue, (c) the declarant must
be a relative of the person whose pedigree is in question, (d)
declaration must be made before the controversy has
occurred, and (e) the relationship between the declarant and
the person whose pedigree is in question must be shown by
evidence other than such act or declaration.
Thus, the duly notarized declaration made by Ruby Kelley
Mangahas, sister of Bessie Kelley Poe submitted as Exhibit 20
before the COMELEC, might be accepted to prove the acts of
Allan F. Poe, recognizing his own paternal relationship with
FPJ, i.e, living together with Bessie Kelley and his children
(including respondent FPJ) in one house, and as one family "I, Ruby Kelley Mangahas, of legal age and sound mind, presently
residing in Stockton, California, U.S.A., after being sworn in
accordance with law do hereby declare that:
1. I am the sister of the late Bessie Kelley Poe.

CONSTI 2 17
Citizenship
2. Bessie Kelley Poe was the wife of Fernando Poe, Sr.
3. Fernando and Bessie Poe had a son by the name of
Ronald Allan Poe, more popularly known in the
Philippines as `Fernando Poe, Jr., or `FPJ.
4. Ronald Allan Poe `FPJ was born on August 20, 1939 at
St. Luke's Hospital, Magdalena Street, Manila.

18. I am executing this Declaration to attest to the fact that


my nephew, Ronald Allan Poe is a natural born
Filipino, and that he is the legitimate child of
Fernando Poe, Sr.
Done in City of Stockton, California, U.S.A., this 12th day
of January 2004.
Ruby Kelley Mangahas

xxxxxxxxx
Declarant
7. Fernando Poe Sr., and my sister Bessie, met and became
engaged while they were students at the University
of the Philippines in 1936. I was also introduced to
Fernando Poe, Sr., by my sister that same year.
8. Fernando Poe, Sr., and my sister Bessie had their first
child in 1938.
9. Fernando Poe, Sr., my sister Bessie and their first three
children, Elizabeth, Ronald, Allan and Fernando II,
and myself lived together with our mother at our
family's house on Dakota St. (now Jorge Bocobo
St.), Malate until the liberation of Manila in 1945,
except for some months between 1943-1944.
10. Fernando Poe, Sr., and my sister, Bessie, were blessed
with four (4) more children after Ronald Allan Poe.
xxxxxxxxx

DNA Testing
In case proof of filiation or paternity would be unlikely to
satisfactorily establish or would be difficult to obtain, DNA
testing, which examines genetic codes obtained from body
cells of the illegitimate child and any physical residue of the
long dead parent could be resorted to. A positive match would
clear up filiation or paternity. In Tijing vs. Court of Appeals,
[42]
this Court has acknowledged the strong weight of DNA
testing "Parentage will still be resolved using conventional methods unless
we adopt the modern and scientific ways available. Fortunately, we
have now the facility and expertise in using DNA test for
identification and parentage testing. The University of the
Philippines Natural Science Research Institute (UP-NSRI) DNA
Analysis Laboratory has now the capability to conduct DNA typing
using short tandem repeat (STR) analysis. The analysis is based on

CONSTI 2 18
Citizenship
the fact that the DNA of a child/person has two (2) copies, one copy
from the mother and the other from the father. The DNA from the
mother, the alleged father and the child are analyzed to establish
parentage. Of course, being a novel scientific technique, the use of
DNA test as evidence is still open to challenge. Eventually, as the
appropriate case comes, courts should not hesitate to rule on the
admissibility of DNA evidence. For it was said, that courts should
apply the results of science when competently obtained in aid of
situations presented, since to reject said result is to deny progress."
Petitioners Argument For
Jurisprudential Conclusiveness
Petitioner would have it that even if Allan F. Poe were a
Filipino citizen, he could not have transmitted his citizenship to
respondent FPJ, the latter being an illegitimate
child. According to petitioner, prior to his marriage to Bessie
Kelley, Allan F. Poe, on July 5, 1936, contracted marriage with
a certain Paulita Gomez, making his subsequent marriage to
Bessie Kelley bigamous and respondent FPJ an illegitimate
child. The veracity of the supposed certificate of marriage
between Allan F. Poe and Paulita Gomez could be most
doubtful at best. But the documentary evidence introduced by
no less than respondent himself, consisting of a birth
certificate of respondent and a marriage certificate of his
parents showed that FPJ was born on 20 August 1939 to a
Filipino father and an American mother who were married to
each other a year later, or on 16 September 1940. Birth to
unmarried parents would make FPJ an illegitimate
child. Petitioner contended that as an illegitimate child, FPJ so
followed the citizenship of his mother, Bessie Kelley, an

American citizen, basing his stand on the ruling of this Court


in Morano
vs.
Vivo,[43] citing Chiongbian
vs.
de
[44]
[45]
Leon and Serra vs. Republic.
On the above score, the disquisition made by amicus
curiae Joaquin G. Bernas, SJ, is most convincing; he states "We must analyze these cases and ask what the lis mota was in each
of them. If the pronouncement of the Court on jus sanguinis was on
the lis mota, the pronouncement would be a decision constituting
doctrine under the rule of stare decisis. But if the pronouncement
was irrelevant to the lis mota, the pronouncement would not be a
decision but a mere obiter dictum which did not establish doctrine. I
therefore invite the Court to look closely into these cases.
First, Morano vs. Vivo. The case was not about an illegitimate child
of a Filipino father. It was about a stepson of a Filipino, a stepson
who was the child of a Chinese mother and a Chinese father. The
issue was whether the stepson followed the naturalization of the
stepfather. Nothing about jus sanguinis there. The stepson did not
have the blood of the naturalized stepfather.
Second, Chiongbian vs. de Leon. This case was not about the
illegitimate son of a Filipino father. It was about a legitimate son of a
father who had become Filipino by election to public office before
the 1935 Constitution pursuant to Article IV, Section 1(2) of the 1935
Constitution. No one was illegitimate here.
Third, Serra vs. Republic. The case was not about the illegitimate
son of a Filipino father. Serra was an illegitimate child of a Chinese
father and a Filipino mother.The issue was whether one who was

CONSTI 2 19
Citizenship
already a Filipino because of his mother who still needed to be
naturalized. There is nothing there about invidious jus sanguinis.
Finally, Paa vs. Chan.[46] This is a more complicated case. The case
was about the citizenship of Quintin Chan who was the son of
Leoncio Chan. Quintin Chan claimed that his father, Leoncio, was
the illegitimate son of a Chinese father and a Filipino
mother. Quintin therefore argued that he got his citizenship from
Leoncio, his father. But the Supreme Court said that there was no
valid proof that Leoncio was in fact the son of a Filipina mother. The
Court therefore concluded that Leoncio was not Filipino. If Leoncio
was not Filipino, neither was his son Quintin. Quintin therefore was
not only not a natural-born Filipino but was not even a Filipino.
The Court should have stopped there. But instead it followed with
an obiter dictum. The Court said obiter that even if Leoncio,
Quintin's father, were Filipino, Quintin would not be Filipino
because Quintin was illegitimate. This statement about Quintin,
based on a contrary to fact assumption, was absolutely unnecessary
for the case. x x x It was obiter dictum, pure and simple, simply
repeating the obiter dictum in Morano vs. Vivo.

The doctrine on constitutionally allowable distinctions was


established long ago by People vs. Cayat.[47] I would grant that the
distinction between legitimate children and illegitimate children rests
on real differences. x x x But real differences alone do not justify
invidious distinction. Real differences may justify distinction for one
purpose but not for another purpose.
x x x What is the relevance of legitimacy or illegitimacy to elective
public service? What possible state interest can there be for
disqualifying an illegitimate child from becoming a public officer. It
was not the fault of the child that his parents had illicit liaison. Why
deprive the child of the fullness of political rights for no fault of his
own? To disqualify an illegitimate child from holding an important
public office is to punish him for the indiscretion of his
parents. There is neither justice nor rationality in that. And if there is
neither justice nor rationality in the distinction, then the distinction
transgresses the equal protection clause and must be reprobated.

xxxxxxxxx

The other amici curiae, Mr. Justice Vicente Mendoza (a


former member of this Court), Professor Ruben Balane and
Dean Martin Magallona, at bottom, have expressed similar
views. The thesis of petitioner, unfortunately hinging solely on
pure obiter dicta, should indeed fail.

"Aside from the fact that such a pronouncement would have no


textual foundation in the Constitution, it would also violate the equal
protection clause of the Constitution not once but twice. First, it
would make an illegitimate distinction between a legitimate child
and an illegitimate child, and second, it would make an illegitimate
distinction between the illegitimate child of a Filipino father and the
illegitimate child of a Filipino mother.

Where jurisprudence regarded an illegitimate child as


taking after the citizenship of its mother, it did so for the benefit
the child. It was to ensure a Filipino nationality for the
illegitimate child of an alien father in line with the assumption
that the mother had custody, would exercise parental authority
and had the duty to support her illegitimate child. It was to help
the child, not to prejudice or discriminate against him.

CONSTI 2 20
Citizenship
The fact of the matter perhaps the most significant
consideration is that the 1935 Constitution, the fundamental
law prevailing on the day, month and year of birth of
respondent FPJ, can never be more explicit than it
is. Providing neither conditions nor distinctions, the
Constitution states that among the citizens of the Philippines
are those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines. There
utterly is no cogent justification to prescribe conditions or
distinctions where there clearly are none provided.

(1) The Court, in the exercise of its power of judicial


review, possesses jurisdiction over the petition in G. R. No.
161824, filed under Rule 64, in relation to Rule 65, of the
Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. G.R. No. 161824 assails the
resolution of the COMELEC for alleged grave abuse of
discretion in dismissing, for lack of merit, the petition in SPA
No. 04-003 which has prayed for the disqualification of
respondent FPJ from running for the position of President in
the 10th May 2004 national elections on the contention that
FPJ has committed material representation in his certificate of
candidacy by representing himself to be a natural-born citizen
of the Philippines.

(3) In ascertaining, in G.R. No. 161824, whether grave


abuse of discretion has been committed by the COMELEC, it
is necessary to take on the matter of whether or not
respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen, which, in turn,
depended on whether or not the father of respondent, Allan F.
Poe, would have himself been a Filipino citizen and, in the
affirmative, whether or not the alleged illegitimacy of
respondent prevents him from taking after the Filipino
citizenship of his putative father. Any conclusion on the Filipino
citizenship of Lorenzo Pou could only be drawn from the
presumption that having died in 1954 at 84 years old, Lorenzo
would have been born sometime in the year 1870, when the
Philippines was under Spanish rule, and that San Carlos,
Pangasinan, his place of residence upon his death in 1954, in
the absence of any other evidence, could have well been his
place of residence before death, such that Lorenzo Pou would
have benefited from the en masse Filipinization that the
Philippine Bill had effected in 1902.That citizenship (of
Lorenzo Pou), if acquired, would thereby extend to his son,
Allan F. Poe, father of respondent FPJ. The 1935 Constitution,
during which regime respondent FPJ has seen first light,
confers citizenship to all persons whose fathers are Filipino
citizens regardless of whether such children are legitimate or
illegitimate.

(2) The Court must dismiss, for lack of jurisdiction and


prematurity, the petitions in G. R. No. 161434 and No. 161634
both having been directly elevated to this Court in the latters
capacity as the only tribunal to resolve a presidential and vicepresidential election contest under the Constitution. Evidently,
the primary jurisdiction of the Court can directly be invoked
only after, not before, the elections are held.

(4) But while the totality of the evidence may not establish
conclusively that respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen of
the Philippines, the evidence on hand still would preponderate
in his favor enough to hold that he cannot be held guilty of
having made a material misrepresentation in his certificate of
candidacy in violation of Section 78, in relation to Section 74,
of the Omnibus Election Code. Petitioner has utterly failed to

In Sum

CONSTI 2 21
Citizenship
substantiate his case before the Court, notwithstanding the
ample opportunity given to the parties to present their position
and evidence, and to prove whether or not there has been
material misrepresentation, which, as so ruled in RomualdezMarcos vs. COMELEC,[48] must not only be material, but also
deliberate and willful.
WHEREFORE, the Court RESOLVES to DISMISS
1. G. R. No. 161434, entitled "Maria Jeanette C. Tecson
and Felix B. Desiderio, Jr., Petitioners, versus Commission on
Elections, Ronald Allan Kelley Poe (a.k.a. "Fernando Poe, Jr.,)
and Victorino X. Fornier, Respondents," and G. R. No. 161634,
entitled "Zoilo Antonio Velez, Petitioner, versus Ronald Allan
Kelley Poe, a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr., Respondent," for want of
jurisdiction.
2. G. R. No. 161824, entitled Victorino X. Fornier,
Petitioner, versus Hon. Commission on Elections and Ronald
Allan Kelley Poe, also known as Fernando Poe, Jr., for failure
to show grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent
Commission on Elections in dismissing the petition in SPA No.
04-003.
No Costs.
SO ORDERED.

SEPARATE OPINION
DAVIDE, JR. C.J.:

The procedural and factual


consolidated cases are as follows:

antecedents

of

these

On 9 January 2004, petitioner Victorino X. Fornier filed


with public respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC)
a petition to disqualify private respondent Fernando Poe, Jr.
(FPJ) and to deny due course to or cancel his certificate of
candidacy for the position of President in the forthcoming 10
May 2004 presidential elections. As a ground therefore, he
averred that FPJ committed falsity in a material representation
in his certificate of candidacy in declaring that he is a naturalborn Filipino citizen when in truth and in fact he is not, since he
is the illegitimate son of Bessie Kelley, an American citizen,
and Allan Poe, a Spanish national. The case was docketed as
COMELEC Case SPA No. 04-003 and assigned to the
COMELECs First Division.
At the hearing before the First Division of the COMELEC,
petitioner Fornier offered FPJs record of birth to prove that
FPJ was born on 20 August 1939 to Bessie Kelley, an
American citizen, and Allan Poe, who was then married to
Paulita Gomez. Upon the other hand, FPJ tried to establish
that his father was a Filipino citizen whose parents, although
Spanish nationals, were Filipino citizens. He adduced in
evidence a copy of the marriage contract of Allan Poe and
Bessie Kelley, showing that they were married on 16
September 1940 in Manila.
In its Resolution of 23 January 2004, the First Division of
the COMELEC dismissed COMELEC Case SPA No. 04-003
for lack of merit. It declared that COMELECs jurisdiction is
limited to all matters relating to election, returns and
qualifications of all elective regional, provincial and city
officials, but not those of national officials like the
President. It has, however, jurisdiction to pass upon the issue
of citizenship of national officials under Section 78 of the
Omnibus Election Code on petitions to deny due course or
cancel certificates of candidacy on the ground that any

CONSTI 2 22
Citizenship
material representation contained therein is false. It found that
the evidence adduced by petitioner Fornier is not substantial,
and that FPJ did not commit any falsehood in material
representation when he stated in his certificate of candidacy
that he is a natural-born Filipino citizen.
His motion for reconsideration filed before the
COMELEC en banc having been denied, petitioner Fornier
filed a petition with this Court, which was docketed as G.R. No.
161824.
Meanwhile, petitioners Maria Jeanette C. Tecson and
Felix B. Desiderio, Jr. came to this Court via a special civil
action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court,
docketed as G.R. No. 161434, to challenge the jurisdiction of
the COMELEC over the issue of the citizenship of FPJ. They
assert that only this Court has jurisdiction over the issue in
light of the last paragraph of Section 4 of Article VII of the
Constitution, which provides:
The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all
contests relating to the election returns, and qualifications of the
President or Vice-President, and may promulgate its rules for the
purpose.
On 29 January 2004 petitioner Velez filed a similar
petition, which was docketed as G.R. No. 161634.
The core issues in these consolidated cases, as defined
by the Court during the oral argument, are as follows:
(1) Whether the COMELEC has jurisdiction over petitions
to deny due course to or cancel certificates of candidacy of
Presidential candidates;
(2) Whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the
petitions of (a) Tecson, et al., (b) Velez, and (c) Fornier; and

(3) Whether respondent FPJ is a Filipino citizen, and if so,


whether he is a natural-born Filipino citizen.
These consolidated petitions must be dismissed.
Both the petitions of Tecson and Velez invoke the
jurisdiction of this Court as provided for in the last paragraph of
Section 4 of Article VII of the Constitution, and raise the issue
of the ineligibility of a candidate for President on the ground
that he is not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.The
actions contemplated in the said provision of the Constitution
are post-election remedies, namely, regular election contests
and quo warranto. The petitioner should have, instead,
resorted to pre-election remedies, such as those prescribed in
Section 68 (Disqualifications), in relation to Section 72; Section
69 (Nuisance candidates); and Section 78 (Petition to deny
course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy), in relation to
Section 74, of the Omnibus Election Code, which are
implemented in Rules 23, 24 and 25 of the COMELEC Rules
of Procedure. These pre-election remedies or actions do not,
however, fall within the original jurisdiction of this Court.
Under the Omnibus Election Code and the COMELEC
Rules of Procedure, the COMELEC has the original jurisdiction
to determine in an appropriate proceeding whether a
candidate for an elective office is eligible for the office for
which he filed his certificate of candidacy or is disqualified to
be a candidate or to continue such candidacy because of any
of the recognized grounds for disqualification. Its jurisdiction
over COMELEC SPA No. 04-003 is, therefore, beyond
question.
Upon the other hand, this Court has jurisdiction over
Forniers petition (G.R. No. 161824) under Section 7 of Article
IX-A of the Constitution, which provides:
Section 7. Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its
Members any case or matter brought before it within sixty days from

CONSTI 2 23
Citizenship
the date of its submission for decision or resolution. A case or matter
is deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the
last pleading, brief, or memorandum required by the rules of the
Commission or by the Commission itself. Unless otherwise provided
by this Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each
Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by
the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof.
This Court can also take cognizance of the issue of whether
the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the
challenged resolution in COMELEC SPA No. 04-003 by virtue
of Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution, which reads as
follows:
Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court
and in such lower courts as may be established by law.
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle
actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable
and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.
On the issue of whether private respondent FPJ is a
natural-born Filipino citizen, the following facts have been
established by a weighty preponderance of evidence either in
the pleadings and the documents attached thereto or from the
admissions of the parties, through their counsels, during the
oral arguments:
1. FPJ was born on 20 August 1939 in Manila, Philippines.
2. FPJ was born to Allan Poe and Bessie Kelley.

3. Bessie Kelley and Allan Poe were married on 16 September


1940.
4. Allan Poe was a Filipino because his father, Lorenzo Poe,
albeit a Spanish subject, was not shown to have
declared his allegiance to Spain by virtue of the
Treaty of Paris and the Philippine Bill of 1902.
From the foregoing it is clear that respondent FPJ was
born before the marriage of his parents. Thus, pursuant to the
Civil Code then in force, he could either be (a) a natural child if
both his parents had no legal impediments to marry each
other; or (b) an illegitimate child if, indeed, Allan Poe was
married to another woman who was still alive at the time FPJ
was born.
Petitioner Fornier never alleged that Allan Poe was not the
father of FPJ. By revolving his case around the illegitimacy of
FPJ, Fornier effectively conceded paternity or filiation as a
non-issue. For purposes of the citizenship of an illegitimate
child whose father is a Filipino and whose mother is an alien,
proof of paternity or filiation is enough for the child to follow the
citizenship of his putative father, as advanced by Fr. Joaquin
Bernas, one of the amici curiae. Since paternity or filiation is in
fact admitted by petitioner Fornier, the COMELEC committed
no grave abuse of discretion in holding that FPJ is a Filipino
citizen, pursuant to paragraph 3 of Section 1 of Article IV of the
1935 Constitution, which reads:
Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:
(3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines.
I agree with the amici curiae that this provision makes no
distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children of

CONSTI 2 24
Citizenship
Filipino fathers. It is enough that filiation is established or that
the child is acknowledged or recognized by the father.

DISSENTING OPINION
CARPIO, J.:
I dissent from the majority opinion.

The Antecedent Proceedings


Petitioner Fornier filed before the Commission on
Elections (Comelec) a Petition for Disqualification of
Presidential Candidate Ronald Allan Kelley Poe a.k.a.
Fernando Poe, Jr. on the ground that Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ)
is not a natural-born Philippine citizen. The Comelec First
Division dismissed the petition, ruling that petitioner failed to
present substantial evidence that FPJ committed any material
misrepresentation when he stated in his Certificate of
Candidacy that he is a natural-born citizen. On motion for
reconsideration, the Comelec En Banc affirmed the ruling of
the First Division. Petitioner Fornier now assails the
Comelec En Banc resolution under Rule 64 in relation to Rule
65 of the Rules of Court.

The Undisputed Facts


The undisputed facts are based on two documents and
the admission of FPJ. The first document is the Birth
Certificate of FPJ, showing he was born on 20 August

1939. The Birth Certificate is an evidence of FPJ. [1] The


second document is the Marriage Certificate of Allan F. Poe
and Bessie Kelley, showing that their marriage took place
on 16 September 1940. The Marriage Certificate is also an
evidence of FPJ.[2] Moreover, FPJ admits that his mother
Bessie Kelley was an American citizen.[3]
Based on these two documents and admission, the
undisputed facts are: (1) FPJ was born out of wedlock and
therefore illegitimate,[4] and (2) the mother of FPJ was an
American citizen.

The Issues
The issues raised in Forniers petition are:
(a) Whether the Court has jurisdiction over the petition to
disqualify FPJ as a candidate for President on the
ground that FPJ is not a natural-born Philippine
citizen;
(b) Whether FPJ is a natural-born citizen of
the Philippines.

Jurisdiction
The Comelec has jurisdiction to determine initially the
qualifications of all candidates. Under Section 2(1), Article IX-C
of the Constitution, the Comelec has the power and function
to [E]nforce and administer all laws and regulations
relative to the conduct of an election. The initial
determination of who are qualified to file certificates of
candidacies with the Comelec clearly falls within this all-

CONSTI 2 25
Citizenship
encompassing constitutional mandate of the Comelec. The
conduct of an election necessarily includes the initial
determination of who are qualified under existing laws to run
for public office in an election. Otherwise, the Comelecs
certified list of candidates will be cluttered with unqualified
candidates
making
the
conduct
of
elections
unmanageable. For this reason, the Comelec weeds out every
presidential election dozens of candidates for president who
are deemed nuisance candidates by the Comelec.[5]
Section 2(3), Article IX-C of the Constitution also
empowers the Comelec to [D]ecide, except those involving
the right to vote, all questions affecting elections x x
x. The power to decide all questions affecting elections
necessarily includes the power to decide whether a candidate
possesses the qualifications required by law for election to
public office. This broad constitutional power and function
vested in the Comelec is designed precisely to avoid any
situation where a dispute affecting elections is left without any
legal remedy. If one who is obviously not a natural-born
Philippine citizen, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, runs for
President, the Comelec is certainly not powerless to cancel the
certificate of candidacy of such candidate. There is no need to
wait until after the elections before such candidate may be
disqualified.
Under Rule 25 on Disqualification of Candidates of the
Comelec Rules of Procedure, a voter may question before the
Comelec the qualifications of any candidate for public
office. Thus, Rule 25 provides:
Section 1. Grounds for Disqualification. Any candidate who does
not possess all the qualifications of a candidate as provided for
by the Constitution or by existing law or who commits any act
declared by law to be grounds for disqualification may be
disqualified from continuing as a candidate.

Section 2. Who May File Petition for Disqualification. Any citizen


of voting age, or duly registered political party, organization or
coalition of political parties may file with the Law Department of
the Commission a petition to disqualify a candidate on grounds
provided by law. (Emphasis supplied)
The Comelec adopted its Rules of Procedure pursuant to its
constitutional power to promulgate its own rules of
procedure[6] to expedite the disposition of cases or
controversies falling within its jurisdiction.
The Comelec has ruled upon the qualifications of
candidates, even if the Constitution provides that some other
body shall be the sole judge of the qualifications of the holders
of the public offices involved. The Court has upheld the
jurisdiction of Comelec to issue such rulings, [7] even when the
issue is the citizenship of a candidate.[8] Thus, the Comelec
has jurisdiction to determine initially if FPJ meets the
citizenship qualification to run for President.
However, the Comelec En Banc, in its scanty resolution,
failed to state the factual bases of its ruling. The Comelec En
Banc also failed to rule conclusively on the issue presented
whether FPJ is a natural-born Philippine citizen. The
Comelec En Banc affirmed the First Division ruling that [W]e
feel we are not at liberty to finally declare whether or not the
respondent is a natural-born citizen. In short, the Comelec En
Banc allowed a candidate for President to run in the coming
elections without being convinced that the candidate is a
natural-born Philippine citizen. Clearly, the Comelec En
Banc acted with grave abuse of discretion. Under Section 1,
Article VIII, as well as Section 5, Article VIII, of the
Constitution, the Court has jurisdiction to hear and decide the
issue in a petition for certiorari under Rule 64 in relation to
Rule 65.

CONSTI 2 26
Citizenship
To hold that the Court acquires jurisdiction to determine
the qualification of a candidate for President only after the
elections would lead to an absurd situation. The Court would
have to wait for an alien to be elected on election day before
he could be disqualified to run for President. If the case is not
decided immediately after the election, an alien who wins the
election may even assume office as President before he is
finally disqualified. Certainly, this is not what the Constitution
says when it provides that [N]o person may be elected
President unless he is a natural-born citizen of
the Philippines.[9] The clear and specific language of the
Constitution prohibits the election of one who is not a naturalborn citizen. Thus, the issue of whether a candidate for
President is a natural-born Philippine citizen must be
decided before the election.

Governing Laws
Since FPJ was born on 20 August 1939, his citizenship
at the time of his birth depends on the Constitution and
statutes in force at the time of his birth. [10] FPJs citizenship at
the time of his birth in 1939, applying the laws in force in 1939,
determines whether he is a natural-born Philippine citizen.
Natural-born Philippine citizens are those who are
citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to
perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine
citizenship.[11] If a person has to perform an act, such as
proving in an administrative or judicial proceeding, that an
event subsequent to his birth transpired thus entitling him to
Philippine citizenship, such person is not a natural born citizen.
[12]

The 1935 Constitution and the Spanish Civil Code, the


laws in force in 1939, are the governing laws that determine

whether a person born in 1939 is a Philippine citizen at the


time of his birth in 1939. Any subsequent legislation cannot
change the citizenship at birth of a person born in 1939
because such legislation would violate the constitutional
definition of a natural-born citizen as one who is a Philippine
citizen from birth. In short, one who is not a Philippine citizen
at birth in 1939 cannot be declared by subsequent legislation a
natural-born citizen.

General Principles
A legitimate child of a Filipino father follows the citizenship
of the father. A child born within wedlock is presumed to be the
son of the father[13] and thus carries the blood of the
father. Under the doctrine of jus sanguinis, as provided for in
Section 1(3), Article III of the 1935 Constitution, a legitimate
child, by the fact of legitimacy, automatically follows the
citizenship of the Filipino father.
An illegitimate child, however, enjoys no presumption at
birth of blood relation to any father unless the father
acknowledges the child at birth.[14]The law has always required
that in all cases of illegitimate children, their filiation must be
duly proved.[15] The only legally known parent of an illegitimate
child, by the fact of illegitimacy, is the mother of the child
who conclusively carries the blood of the mother. Thus, unless
the father acknowledges the illegitimate child at birth, the
illegitimate child can only acquire the citizenship of the only
legally known parent - the mother.
However, if the Filipino father is legally known because
the filiation (blood relation of illegitimate child to the father) of
the child to the Filipino father is established in accordance with
law, the child follows the citizenship of the Filipino father. This
gives effect, without discrimination between legitimate and

CONSTI 2 27
Citizenship
illegitimate children, to the provision of the 1935 Constitution
that [T]hose whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines[16] are
Philippine citizens.

Filipino father since there is no presumption that an illegitimate


child has the blood of the putative father.Even if the putative
father admits paternity after the birth of the illegitimate child,
there must be an administrative or judicial approval that such
blood relation exists upon proof of paternity as required by law.

Nature of Citizenship

Citizenship, being a matter of public and State interest,


cannot be conferred on an illegitimate child of an alien mother
on the mere say so of the putative Filipino father. The State
has a right to examine the veracity of the claim of
paternity. Otherwise, the grant of Philippine citizenship to an
illegitimate child of an alien mother is left to the sole discretion
of the putative Filipino father. For example, a Philippine citizen
of Chinese descent can simply claim that he has several
illegitimate children in China. The State cannot be required to
grant Philippine passports to these supposed illegitimate
children born in China of Chinese mothers just because the
putative Filipino father acknowledges paternity of these
illegitimate children. There must be either an administrative or
judicial determination that the claim of the putative Filipino
father is true.

If the Filipino father acknowledges the illegitimate child at


birth, the child is a natural-born Philippine citizen because no
other act after his birth is required to acquire or perfect his
Philippine citizenship. The child possesses all the
qualifications to be a Philippine citizen at birth.
If the Filipino father acknowledges the child after birth, the
child is a Philippine citizen as of the time of the
acknowledgment. In this case, the child does not possess all
the qualifications to be a Philippine citizen at birth because an
act - the acknowledgement of the Filipino father - is required
for the child to acquire or perfect his Philippine citizenship.
Statutory provisions on retroactivity of acknowledgment cannot
be given effect because they would be contrary to the
constitutional definition of natural- born citizens as those who
are Philippine citizens at birth without having to perform any
act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.
If the illegitimacy of a child is established, there is
no presumption that the child has the blood of any man who is
supposed to be the father. There is only a conclusive
presumption that the child has the blood of the mother. If an
illegitimate child claims to have the blood of a man who is
supposed to be the childs father, such blood relation must be
established in accordance with proof of filiation as required by
law.
Where the illegitimate child of an alien mother claims to
follow the citizenship of the putative father, the burden is on
the illegitimate child to establish a blood relation to the putative

The case of the illegitimate Vietnamese children, born in


Vietnam of Vietnamese mothers and allegedly of Filipino
fathers, is illustrative. These children grew up in Vietnam,
many of them studying there until high school. These children
grew up knowing they were Vietnamese citizens. In 1975, a
Philippine Navy vessel brought them, together with their
Vietnamese mothers, to the Philippines as Saigon fell to the
communists. The mothers of these children became stateless
when the Republic of (South) Vietnam ceased to exist in
1975. The Department of Justice rendered Opinion No. 49
dated 3 May 1995 that being children of Filipino fathers, these
Vietnamese children, even if illegitimate, are Philippine citizens
under Section 1(3), Article IV of the 1935 Constitution and
Section 1(2), Article III of the 1973 Constitution. This Opinion is
cited by FPJ as basis for his claim of being a natural-born

CONSTI 2 28
Citizenship
Philippine citizen.[17] However, this Opinion categorically stated
that before the illegitimate Vietnamese children may be
considered Filipino citizens it is necessary in every case
referred to that such paternity be established by sufficient
and convincing documentary evidence.[18]

recognized by law as an alien were declared forty years


later[21] a natural-born Philippine citizen just because his
alleged Filipino father subsequently admitted his paternity.

In short, the illegitimate child must prove to the proper


administrative or judicial authority the paternity of the alleged
Filipino father by sufficient and convincing documentary
evidence. Clearly, an administrative or judicial act is necessary
to confer on the illegitimate Vietnamese children Philippine
citizenship. The mere claim of the illegitimate child of filiation
to a Filipino father, or the mere acknowledgment of the alleged
Filipino father, does not automatically confer Philippine
citizenship on the child. The State must be convinced of the
veracity of such claim and approve the same. Since the
illegitimate Vietnamese children need to perform an act to
acquire or perfect Philippine citizenship, they are not naturalborn Philippine citizens. They become Philippine citizens only
from the moment the proper administrative or judicial authority
approve and recognize their filiation to their alleged Filipino
fathers.

Proof of Filiation

The rationale behind requiring that only natural-born


citizens may hold certain high public offices [19] is to insure that
the holders of these high public offices grew up knowing they
were at birth citizens of the Philippines. In their formative
years they knew they owed from birth their allegiance to
the Philippines. In case any other country claims their
allegiance, they would be faithful and loyal to the Philippines of
which they were citizens from birth. This is particularly true to
the President who is the commander-in-chief of the armed
forces.[20] The President of the Philippines must owe, from
birth, allegiance to the Philippines and must have grown up
knowing that he was a citizen of the Philippines at birth. The
constitutional definition of a natural-born Philippine citizen
would lose its meaning and efficacy if one who was at birth

Article 131[22] of the Spanish Civil Code, the law in force in


1939, recognized only the following as proof of filiation of a
natural child:
a. acknowledgment in a record of birth;
b. acknowledgment in a will;
c. acknowledgment in some other public document.
To establish his Philippine citizenship at birth, FPJ must
present either an acknowledgement in a record of birth, or an
acknowledgment in some other public document executed at
the time of his birth. An acknowledgment executed after birth
does not make one a citizen at birth but a citizen from the time
of such acknowledgment since the acknowledgment is an act
done after birth to acquire or perfect Philippine citizenship.
After the birth of one who is not a natural-born Philippine
citizen, a subsequent legislation liberalizing proof of filiation
cannot apply to such person to make him a natural-born
citizen. A natural-born Philippine citizen is expressly defined in
the Constitution as one who is a citizen at birth. If a person is
not a citizen at birth, no subsequent legislation can
retroactively declare him a citizen at birth since it would violate
the constitutional definition of a natural-born citizen.

CONSTI 2 29
Citizenship
Burden of Proof
Any person who claims to be a citizen of
the Philippines has the burden of proving his Philippine
citizenship. Any person who claims to be qualified to run for
President because he is, among others, a natural-born
Philippine citizen, has the burden of proving he is a naturalborn citizen.Any doubt whether or not he is natural-born citizen
is resolved against him. The constitutional requirement of a
natural-born citizen, being an express qualification for election
as President, must be complied with strictly as defined in the
Constitution. As the Court ruled in Paa v. Chan: [23]
It is incumbent upon a person who claims Philippine citizenship to
prove to the satisfaction of the Court that he is really a Filipino. No
presumption can be indulged in favor of the claimant of Philippine
citizenship, and any doubt regarding citizenship must be resolved in
favor of the State.
Since the undisputed facts show that FPJ is an illegitimate
child, having been born out of wedlock, the burden is on FPJ
to prove his blood relation to his alleged Filipino father. An
illegitimate child enjoys no presumption of blood relation to any
father. Such blood relationship must be established in the
appropriate proceedings in accordance with law.
Private party litigants cannot stipulate on the Philippine
citizenship of a person because citizenship is not a private
right or property, but a matter of public and State
interest. Even if petitioner Fornier admits that FPJ, although
illegitimate, is the son of Allan F. Poe, such admission cannot
bind the State for the purpose of conferring on FPJ the status
of a natural-born Philippine citizen or even of a naturalized
citizen. Certainly, the Court will not recognize a person as a
natural-born Philippine citizen just because the private party
litigants have admitted or stipulated on such a status. In the

present case, the Solicitor General, as representative of the


Government, is strongly disputing the status of FPJ as a
natural-born Philippine citizen.

Legitimation
Under Article 123[24] of the Spanish Civil Code, legitimation
took effect as of the date of marriage. There was no
retroactivity of the effects of legitimation on the rights of the
legitimated child. Thus, a legitimated child acquired the rights
of a legitimate child only as of the date of marriage of the
natural parents. Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley were married
on 16 September 1940 while FPJ was born more than one
year earlier on 20 August 1939. Assuming that Allan F. Poe
was FPJs natural father, the effects of legitimation did not
retroact to the birth of FPJ on 20 August 1939.
Besides, legitimation vests only civil, not political rights, to
the legitimated child. As the Court held in Ching Leng:[25]
The framers of the Civil Code had no intention whatsoever to
regulate therein political questions. Hence, apart from reproducing
the provisions of the Constitution on citizenship, the Code contains
no precept thereon except that which refers all matters of
naturalization, as well as those related to the loss and reacquisition of
citizenship to special laws. Consistently with this policy, our Civil
Code does not include therein any rule analogous to Articles 18 to 28
of the Civil Code of Spain, regulating citizenship. (Underscoring in
the original)
Clearly, even assuming that the marriage of Allan F. Poe and
Bessie Kelley legitimated FPJ, such legitimation did not vest
retroactively any civil or political rights to FPJ.

CONSTI 2 30
Citizenship
Treaty of Paris of 1898 and Philippine Bill of 1902
FPJ admits that his grandfather, Lorenzo Pou, was a
Spanish citizen who came to the Philippines from Spain.[26] To
benefit from the mass naturalization under the Treaty of Paris
of 1898 and the Philippine Bill of 1902, FPJ must prove that
Lorenzo Pou was an inhabitant and resident of
the Philippines on 11 April 1899. Once it is established that
Lorenzo Pou was an inhabitant and resident of
the Philippines on 11 April 1899, then he is presumed to have
acquired Philippine citizenship under the Treaty of Paris of
1898 and the Philippine Bill of 1902. [27] Being an inhabitant and
resident
of
the Philippines on 11 April
1899 is
the
determinative fact to fall under the coverage of the Treaty of
Paris of 1898 and the Philippine Bill of 1902.[28]
There is, however, no evidence on record that Lorenzo
Pou was a Philippine inhabitant and resident on 11 April
1899. The date of arrival of Lorenzo Pou in the Philippines is
not known. If he arrived in the Philippines after 11 April 1899,
then he could not benefit from the mass naturalization under
the Treaty of Paris of 1898 and the Philippine Bill of
1902. There is also no evidence that Lorenzo Pou was
naturalized as a Philippine citizen after 11 April 1899. Thus,
there can be no presumption that Lorenzo Pou was a
Philippine citizen.
There is also no evidence on record that Allan F. Poe, the
son of Lorenzo Pou and the alleged father of FPJ, was
naturalized as a Philippine citizen. Thus, based on the
evidence adduced there is no legal basis for claiming that
Allan F. Poe is a Philippine citizen. Nevertheless, there is no
need to delve further into this issue since the Court can decide
this case without determining the citizenship of Lorenzo Pou
and Allan F. Poe.Whether or not Lorenzo Pou and Allan F. Poe

were Philippine citizens is not material in resolving whether


FPJ is a natural-born Philippine citizen.

Convention on the Rights of the Child


The Philippines signed the Convention on the Rights of
the Child on 26 January 1990 and ratified the same on 21
August 1990. The Convention defines a child to mean every
human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under
the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.
Obviously, FPJ cannot invoke the Convention since he is not a
child as defined in the Convention, and he was born half a
century before the Convention came into existence. FPJs
citizenship at birth in 1939 could not in any way be affected by
the Convention which entered into force only on 2 September
1990.
The Convention has the status of a municipal law [29] and
its ratification by the Philippines could not have amended the
express requirement in the Constitution that only natural-born
citizens of Philippines are qualified to be President. While the
Constitution apparently favors natural-born citizens over those
who are not, that is the explicit requirement of the Constitution
which neither the Executive Department nor the Legislature, in
ratifying a treaty, could amend. In short, the Convention cannot
amend the definition in the Constitution that natural-born
citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth
without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their
Philippine citizenship.
In any event, the Convention guarantees a child the right
to acquire a nationality,[30] and requires States Parties to
ensure the implementation of this right, in particular where the
child would otherwise be stateless.[31] Thus, as far as
nationality or citizenship is concerned, the Convention

CONSTI 2 31
Citizenship
guarantees the right of the child to acquire a nationality
so that he may not be stateless. The Convention does not
guarantee a child a citizenship at birth, but merely the right to
acquire a nationality in accordance with municipal law. When
FPJ was born in 1939, he was apparently under United
States law an American citizen at birth.[32] After his birth FPJ
also had the right to acquire Philippine citizenship by proving
his filiation to his alleged Filipino father in accordance with
Philippine law. At no point in time was FPJ in danger of being
stateless. Clearly, FPJ cannot invoke the Convention to claim
he is a natural-born Philippine citizen.

The Doctrine in Ching Leng v. Galang


The prevailing doctrine today is that an illegitimate child of
a Filipino father and an alien mother follows the citizenship of
the alien mother as the only legally known parent. The
illegitimate child, even if acknowledged and legally adopted by
the Filipino father, cannot acquire the citizenship of the
father. The Court made this definitive doctrinal ruling in Ching
Leng v. Galang,[33] which involved the illegitimate minor
children of a naturalized Filipino of Chinese descent with
a Chinese woman, Sy An. The illegitimate children were later
on jointly adopted by the naturalized Filipino and his legal wife,
So Buan Ty.
The facts in Ching Leng as quoted by the Court from the
trial courts decision are as follows:
After the petitioner Ching Leng Alias Ching Ban Lee obtained
judgment in this Court dated May 2, 1950 granting his petition for
naturalization, he together with his wife So Buan Ty filed another
petition also in this Court in Special Proc. No. 1216 for the adoption
of Ching Tiong Seng, Ching Liong Ding, Victoria Ching Liong Yam,
Sydney Ching and Ching Tiong An, all minors and admittedly the

illegitimate children of petitioner Ching Leng with one Sy An, a


Chinese citizen. Finding the petition for adoption proper, this Court
granted the same in a decision dated September 12, 1950, declaring
the said minors free from all legal obligations of obedience and
maintenance with respect to their mother Sy An and to all legal
intents and purposes the children of the adopter Ching Leng alias
Ching Ban Lee and So Buan Ty with all the legal rights and
obligations provided by law.
On September 29, 1955, Ching Leng took his oath of allegiance and
became therefore a full pledge (sic) Filipino citizen. Believing now
that his adopted illegitimate children became Filipino citizens by
virtue of his naturalization, petitioner Ching Leng addressed a
communication to the respondent Commissioner of Immigration
requesting that the alien certificate of registration of the said
minors be cancelled. (Bold underscoring supplied)
In Ching Leng, the Court made a definitive ruling on the
meaning of minor child or children in Section 15 of the
Naturalization Law,[34] as well as the meaning of children
whose parents are citizens of the Philippines under the
Constitution. The Court categorically ruled that these children
refer to legitimate children only, and not to illegitimate
children. Thus, the Court held:
It is claimed that the phrases minor children and minor child, used in
these provisions, include adopted children. The argument is
predicated upon the theory that an adopted child is, for all intents and
purposes, a legitimate child. Whenever, the word children or child is
used in statutes, it is generally understood, however, to refer to
legitimate children, unless the context of the law and its spirit
indicate clearly the contrary. Thus, for instance, when the
Constitution provides that those whose parents are citizens of the
Philippines, and those whose mothers are citizens of the
Philippines, who shall elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching
the age of majority, are citizens of the Philippines (Article IV,

CONSTI 2 32
Citizenship
Section 1, subdivisions 3 and 4), our fundamental law clearly
refers to legitimate children(Chiong Bian vs. De Leon, 46 Off.
Gaz., 3652-3654; Serra v. Republic, L-4223, May 12, 1952).
Similarly, the children alluded to in said section 15 are those
begotten in lawful wedlock, when the adopter, at least is the
father. In fact, illegitimate children are under the parental
authority of the mother and follow her nationality, not that of the
illegitimate father (U.S. vs. Ong Tianse, 29 Phil. 332, 335-336;
Santos Co vs. Govt of the Philippines, 52 Phil. 543, 544; Serra v.
Republic, supra; Gallofin v. Ordoez, 70 Phil. 287; Quimsuan vs.
Republic, L-4693, Feb. 16, 1953).Although, adoption gives to the
adopted person the same rights and duties as if he were a legitimate
child of the adopter, pursuant to said Article 341 of our Civil Code,
we have already seen that the rights therein alluded to are merely
those enumerated in Article 264, and do not include the acquisition
of the nationality of the adopter.
Moreover, as used in said section 15 of the Naturalization Law, the
term children could not possibly refer to those whose relation to the
naturalized person is one created by legal fiction, as, for instance, by
adoption, for, otherwise, the place and time of birth of the child
would be immaterial. The fact that the adopted persons involved
in the case at bar are illegitimate children of appellant Ching
Leng does not affect substantially the legal situation before us,
for, by legal fiction, they are now being sought to be given the
status of legitimate children of said appellant, despite the
circumstance that the Civil Code of the Philippine does not
permit their legitimation. (Bold underscoring supplied)
Ching Leng, penned by Justice Roberto Concepcion in
October 1958, was a unanimous decision of the Court En
Banc. Subsequent
Courtdecisions,
including Paa
v.
Chan[35] and Morano et al. v. Vivo,[36] have cited the doctrine
laid down in Ching Leng that the provision in the 1935
Constitution stating those whose fathers are citizens of

the Philippines refers only to legitimate children. When the


1973 and 1987 Constitutions were drafted, the framers did not
attempt to change the intent of this provision, even as they
were presumably aware of the Ching Leng doctrine.
Nevertheless, I believe that it is now time to abandon
the Ching Leng doctrine. The inexorable direction of the law,
both international and domestic in the last 100 years, is to
eliminate all forms of discrimination between legitimate and
illegitimate children. Where the Constitution does not
distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate children, we
should not also distinguish, especially when private rights are
not involved as in questions of citizenship. Abandoning
the Ching Leng doctrine upholds the equal protection clause
of the Constitution. Abandoning the Ching Leng doctrine is
also in compliance with our treaty obligation under the
Covenant on the Rights of Children mandating States Parties
to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on the status of
children, save of course those distinctions prescribed in the
Constitution itself like the reservation of certain high public
offices to natural-born citizens.
Abandoning the Ching Leng doctrine does not mean,
however, that an illegitimate child of a Filipino father and an
alien mother automatically becomes a Philippine citizen at
birth. We have repeatedly ruled that an illegitimate child does
not enjoy any presumption of blood relation to the alleged
father until filiation or blood relation is proved as provided by
law.[37] Article 887 of the Civil Code expressly provides that [I]n
all cases of illegitimate children, their filiation must be duly
proved. The illegitimate child becomes a Philippine citizen only
from the time he establishes his blood relation to the Filipino
father. If the blood relation is established after the birth of the
illegitimate child, then the child is not a natural-born Philippine
citizen since an act is required after birth to acquire or perfect
his Philippine citizenship.

CONSTI 2 33
Citizenship
Conclusion
In conclusion, private respondent Fernando Poe, Jr. is not
a natural-born Philippine citizen since there is no showing that
his alleged Filipino father Allan F. Poe acknowledged him at
birth. The Constitution defines a natural-born citizen as a
Philippine citizen from birth without having to perform any act
to acquire or perfect his Philippine citizenship. Private
respondent Fernando Poe, Jr. does not meet this citizenship
qualification.
Therefore, I vote to grant the petition of Victorino X.
Fornier. However, I vote to dismiss the petitions of Maria
Jeanette C. Tecson, Felix B. Desiderio, Jr. and Zoilo Antonio
Velez on the ground that their direct petitions invoking the
jurisdiction of the Court under Section 4, paragraph 7, Article
VII of the Constitution are premature, there being no election
contest in this case.

[1]

Tan Chong vs. The Secretary of Labor, 45 O.G. No. 31, 1269.

[2]

Sec. 2. Mode of review. A judgment or final order or resolution of


the Commission on Elections and the Commission on Audit
may be brought by the aggrieved party to the Supreme Court
on certiorari under Rule 65, except as hereinafter
provided. (Rule 64)

[3]

Sec. 1. Petition for certiorari. When any tribunal, board or officer


exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted
without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction, and there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person

aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper


court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that
judgment be rendered annulling or modifying the
proceedings of such tribunal, board or officer, and granting
such incidental reliefs as law and justice may require.
The petition shall be accompanied by a certified true copy of the
judgment, order or resolution subject thereof, copies of all
pleadings and documents relevant and pertinent thereto, and
a sworn certification of non-forum shopping as provided in
the third paragraph of section 3, Rule 46. (Rule 65)
[4]

17 SCRA 761.

[5]

See Rule 66, Revised Rules of Civil Procedure.

[6]

The Politics of Aristotle, edited and translated by Ernest Barker,


Oxford University Press, London, 1946. at p. 93.

[7]

Id., at 95.

[8]

Introduction, The Conditions of Citizenship, edited by Bart Van


Steenbergen, Sage Publications, London, Thousand Oaks,
New Delhi (1994).

[9]

Ibid.

[10]

Ibid.

[11]

Ibid.

[12]

Ibid.

CONSTI 2 34
Citizenship
[13]

Under the codified Novisima Recopilacion promulgated in Spain


in 1805, the following were considered denizens (vecinos) "
all foreigners who obtained the privilege of naturalization,
those who were born in these kingdoms, those who residing
therein may be converted to the holy Catholic faith; those,
being self-supporting, established their domicile therein; and
in the case of a foreign woman who married a native man,
she thereby becomes subject to the same laws and acquires
the same domicile as her husband; those who establish
themselves in the country by acquiring real property; those
who have trade or profession and go there to practice the
same; also those who practice some mechanical trade
therein or keep a retail store;....those who reside for a period
of ten years in a home of his own; and also those foreigners
who, in accordance with the common law, royal orders and
other laws of the kingdoms, may have become naturalized or
acquired residence therein. (Leon T. Garcia, The Problems
of Citizenship in the Philippines, Rex Bookstore, 1949, at p.
4)

[14]

Garcia, supra., at p. 3.

[15]

Justices Malcolm, Recto and Florentino Torres believed that the


law was effective in the Philippines. Those who entertained
the contrary view were Justices Imperial and Villareal.
(Garcia, supra., at 4.).

[16]

[17]

State born outside of the Spanish dominions, (2) The


children specified in the preceding paragraph, born in the
Spanish dominions or on board Spanish vessels on the high
seas if they do not, on attaining the age of majority fixed in
the laws of the Kingdom, elect Spanish nationality, (3) Those
being Spaniards, acquire another nationality, as well by
renouncing the first as by accepting employment, from
another government without the authority of the sovereign
and (4) The woman who contracts marriage with a subject of
another State. (Garcia, supra.,pp. 6-7)
[18]

Under the law, the following were foreigners (a) All persons born
of foreign parents outside of the Spanish territory; (b) Those
born outside of the Spanish territory of foreign fathers and
Spanish mothers while they do not claim Spanish nationality,
(3) Those born in Spanish territory of foreign parents or
foreign fathers and Spanish mothers while they do not make
that claim, (4) Spaniards who may have lost their nationality,
(5) Those born outside of the Spanish territory of parents
who may have lost their Spanish nationality; and (6), the
Spanish woman married to a foreigner. (Garcia, supra., p. 7)

[19]

Velayo, infra., p. 11.

[20]

Article 17, The Civil Code of Spain.

[21]

Garcia, supra, pp. 6-7.

[22]

Ramon M. Velayo, Philippine Citizenship And Naturalization,


Central Book Supply, Manila (1965), pp. 22-23.

[23]

Ibid., p. 30.

Garcia, supra., pp. 5-6.


Under the Royal Decree of August 23, 1868, the following were
considered foreigners --- (1) The legitimate and recognized
natural children of a father who belongs to another
independent state, and the unrecognized and natural and
other illegitimate children of a mother belonging to another

CONSTI 2 35
Citizenship
[24]

Garcia, supra, at pp. 31-32.

[25]

Garcia, supra, pp. 23-26.

[26]

Velayo, supra, p. 31

[27]

Section 2, Article IV, 1987 Constitution.

[28]

Per amicus curiae Joaquin G. Bernas, SJ.

[29]

23 Phil 315 (1912).

[30]

Supra., which held that jus soli was never applied in the
Philippines.

[31]

Antillon vs. Barcelon, 37 Phil 148.

[32]

Article 131 Old Civil Code.

[33]

Dayrit vs. Piccio, 92 Phil 729.

[34]

17 SCRA 788.

[35]

95 Phil 167.

[36]

125 SCRA 835.

[37]

Vicente J. Fransisco, Civil Code of the Philippines, Bk I, 1953 at


p. 5

[38]

29 Phil 606.

[39]

Article 16. Real property as well as personal property is subject to


the law of the country where it is situated.

However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect


to the order of succession and to the amount of successional
rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions,
shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose
succession is under consideration, whatever may be the
nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein
said property may be found.
Article 17. The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other
public instruments shall be governed by the laws of the
country in which they are executed.
When the acts referred to are executed before the diplomatic or
consular officials of the Republic of the Philippines in a
foreign country, the solemnities established by Philippine
laws shall be observed in their execution.
Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those
which have for their object public order, public policy and
good customs, shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or
judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions
agreed upon in a foreign country.
Article 815. When a Filipino is in a foreign country, he is authorized to
make a will in any of the forms established by the law of the
country in which he may be. Such will may be probated in
the Philippines.
Article 816. The will of an alien who is abroad produces effect in the
Philippines if made with the formalities prescribed by the law
of the place in which he resides, or according to the

CONSTI 2 36
Citizenship
formalities observed in his country, or in conformity with
those which this Code prescribes.
Article 817. A will made in the Philippines by a citizen or subject of
another country, which is executed in accordance with the
law of the country of which he is a citizen or subject, and
which might be proved and allowed by the law of his own
country, shall have the same effect as if executed according
to the laws of the Philippines.
Article 819. Wills, prohibited by the preceding article, executed by
Filipinos in a foreign country shall not be valid in the
Philippines, even though authorized by the laws of the
country where they may have been executed.
Article 1039. Capacity to succeed is governed by the law of the
nation of the decedent.

affidavit stating the circumstances showing such capacity to


contract marriage.
Article 26. x x x
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly
celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained
abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to
remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry
under Philippine law.
Article 80. In the absence of a contrary stipulation in the marriage
settlements, the property relations of the spouses shall be
governed by Philippine laws, regardless of the place of the
celebration of the marriage and their residence. This rule
shall not apply:
(1) Where both spouses are aliens;

[40]

Article 10. Marriages between Filipino citizens abroad may be


solemnized by a consul general, consul or vice-consul of the
Republic of the Philippines. The issuance of the marriage
license and the duties of the local civil registrar and of the
solemnizing officer with regard to the celebration of marriage
shall be performed by said consular official.

Article 21. When either or both of the contracting parties are citizens
of a foreign country, it shall be necessary for them before a
marriage license can be obtained, to submit a certificate of
legal capacity to contract marriage, issued by their
respective diplomatic or consular officials.
Stateless persons or refugees from other countries shall, in lieu of
the certificate of legal capacity herein required, submit an

(2) With respect to the extrinsic validity of contracts affecting property


not situated in the Philippines and executed in the country
where the property is located; and
(3) With respect to the extrinsic validity of contracts entered into in
the Philippines but affecting property situated in a foreign
country whose laws require different formalities for their
extrinsic validity.
[41]

See Ching Leng vs. Galang, L-11931, October 1958, unreported.

[42]

354 SCRA 17.

[43]

20 SCRA 562, Paa vs. Chan 21 SCRA 753.

CONSTI 2 37
Citizenship
[44]

82 Phil. 771.

[45]

91 Phil. 914, unreported.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

[46]

21 SCRA 753.

[47]

68 Phil 12.

[48]

248 SCRA 300 (1995)

This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the


Rules of Court stemmed from a petition for correction of
entries under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court filed by
respondent Chule Y. Lim with the Regional Trial Court of
Lanao del Norte, Branch 4, docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 4933.
In her petition, respondent claimed that she was born on
October 29, 1954 in Buru-an, Iligan City. Her birth was
registered in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte but the Municipal
Civil Registrar of Kauswagan transferred her record of birth to
Iligan City. She alleged that both her Kauswagan and Iligan
City records of birth have four erroneous entries, and prays
that they be corrected.
The trial court then issued an Order,[1] which reads:

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 153883. January 13, 2004]

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs. CHULE Y. LIM, respondent.

DECISION

WHEREFORE, finding the petition to be sufficient in form and


substance, let the hearing of this case be set on December 27, 1999
before this Court, Hall of Justice, Rosario Heights, Tubod, Iligan
City at 8:30 oclock in the afternoon at which date, place and time
any interested person may appear and show cause why the petition
should not be granted.
Let this order be published in a newspaper of general circulation in
the City of Iligan and the Province of Lanao del Norte once a week
for three (3) consecutive weeks at the expense of the petitioner.

CONSTI 2 38
Citizenship
Furnish copies of this order the Office of the Solicitor General at 134
Amorsolo St., Legaspi Vill., Makati City and the Office of the Local
Civil Registrar of Iligan City at Quezon Ave., Pala-o, Iligan City.

Camiguin. She added that she and her daughters father were
never married because the latter had a prior subsisting
marriage contracted in China.

SO ORDERED.

In this connection, respondent presented a certification


attested by officials of the local civil registries of Iligan City and
Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte that there is no record of
marriage between Placida Anto and Yu Dio To from 1948 to
the present.

During the hearing, respondent testified thus:


First, she claims that her surname Yu was misspelled as
Yo. She has been using Yu in all her school records and in her
marriage certificate.[2]She presented a clearance from the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)[3] to further show the
consistency in her use of the surname Yu.
Second, she claims that her fathers name in her birth
record was written as Yo Diu To (Co Tian) when it should have
been Yu Dio To (Co Tian).
Third, her nationality was entered as Chinese when it
should have been Filipino considering that her father and
mother never got married. Only her deceased father was
Chinese, while her mother is Filipina. She claims that her
being a registered voter attests to the fact that she is a Filipino
citizen.
Finally, it was erroneously indicated in her birth certificate
that she was a legitimate child when she should have been
described as illegitimate considering that her parents were
never married.
Placida Anto, respondents mother, testified that she is a
Filipino citizen as her parents were both Filipinos from

The Republic, through the City Prosecutor of Iligan City,


did not present any evidence although it actively participated in
the proceedings by attending hearings and cross-examining
respondent and her witnesses.
On February 22, 2000, the trial court granted respondents
petition and rendered judgment as follows:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, to set the records
of the petitioner straight and in their proper perspective, the petition
is granted and the Civil Registrar of Iligan City is directed to make
the following corrections in the birth records of the petitioner, to wit:
1. Her family name from YO to YU;
2. Her fathers name from YO DIU TO (CO TIAN) to YU
DIOTO (CO TIAN);
3. Her status from legitimate to illegitimate by changing
YES to NO in answer to the question
LEGITIMATE?; and,

CONSTI 2 39
Citizenship
4. Her citizenship from Chinese to Filipino.
SO ORDERED.[4]
The Republic of the Philippines appealed the decision to
the Court of Appeals which affirmed the trial courts decision.[5]
Hence, this petition on the following assigned errors:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ORDERING THE
CORRECTION OF THE CITIZENSHIP OF RESPONDENT
CHULE Y. LIM FROM CHINESE TO FILIPINO DESPITE THE
FACT THAT RESPONDENT NEVER DEMONSTRATED ANY
COMPLIANCE WITH THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR
ELECTION OF CITIZENSHIP.
II
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ALLOWING
RESPONDENT TO CONTINUE USING HER FATHERS
SURNAME DESPITE ITS FINDING THAT RESPONDENT IS AN
ILLEGITIMATE CHILD.[6]
To digress, it is just as well that the Republic did not cite
as error respondents recourse to Rule 108 of the Rules of
Court to effect what indisputably are substantial corrections
and changes in entries in the civil register. To clarify, Rule 108
of the Revised Rules of Court provides the procedure for
cancellation or correction of entries in the civil registry. The
proceedings under said rule may either be summary or

adversary in nature.If the correction sought to be made in the


civil register is clerical, then the procedure to be adopted is
summary. If the rectification affects the civil status, citizenship
or nationality of a party, it is deemed substantial, and the
procedure to be adopted is adversary. This is our ruling
in Republic v. Valencia[7] where we held that even substantial
errors in a civil registry may be corrected and the true facts
established under Rule 108 provided the parties aggrieved by
the error avail themselves of the appropriate adversary
proceeding. An appropriate adversary suit or proceeding is
one where the trial court has conducted proceedings where all
relevant facts have been fully and properly developed, where
opposing counsel have been given opportunity to demolish the
opposite partys case, and where the evidence has been
thoroughly weighed and considered.[8]
As likewise observed by the Court of Appeals, we take it
that the Republics failure to cite this error amounts to a
recognition that this case properly falls under Rule 108 of the
Revised Rules of Court considering that the proceeding can be
appropriately classified as adversarial.
Instead, in its first assignment of error, the Republic avers
that respondent did not comply with the constitutional
requirement of electing Filipino citizenship when she reached
the age of majority. It cites Article IV, Section 1(3) of the 1935
Constitution, which provides that the citizenship of a legitimate
child born of a Filipino mother and an alien father followed the
citizenship of the father, unless, upon reaching the age of
majority, the child elected Philippine citizenship. [9] Likewise, the
Republic invokes the provision in Section 1 of Commonwealth
Act No. 625, that legitimate children born of Filipino mothers

CONSTI 2 40
Citizenship
may elect Philippine citizenship by expressing such intention in
a statement to be signed and sworn to by the party concerned
before any officer authorized to administer oaths, and shall be
filed with the nearest civil registry. The said party shall
accompany the aforesaid statement with the oath of allegiance
to the Constitution and the Government of the Philippines.[10]
Plainly, the above constitutional and statutory
requirements of electing Filipino citizenship apply only
to legitimate children. These do not apply in the case of
respondent who was concededly an illegitimate child,
considering that her Chinese father and Filipino mother were
never married. As such, she was not required to comply with
said constitutional and statutory requirements to become a
Filipino citizen. By being an illegitimate child of a Filipino
mother, respondent automatically became a Filipino upon
birth. Stated differently, she is a Filipino since birth without
having to elect Filipino citizenship when she reached the age
of majority.
In Ching, Re: Application for Admission to the Bar,[11] citing
In re Florencio Mallare,[12] we held:
Esteban Mallare, natural child of Ana Mallare, a Filipina, is therefore
himself a Filipino, and no other act would be necessary to confer on
him all the rights and privileges attached to Philippine citizenship
(U.S. vs. Ong Tianse, 29 Phil. 332; Santos Co vs. Government of the
Philippine Islands, 42 Phil. 543; Serra vs. Republic, L-4223, May
12, 1952; Sy Quimsuan vs. Republic, L-4693, Feb. 16,
1953; Pitallano vs. Republic, L-5111, June 28, 1954). Neither could
any act be taken on the erroneous belief that he is a non-Filipino

divest him of the citizenship privileges to which he is rightfully


entitled.[13]
This notwithstanding, the records show that respondent
elected Filipino citizenship when she reached the age of
majority. She registered as a voter in Misamis Oriental when
she was 18 years old.[14] The exercise of the right of suffrage
and the participation in election exercises constitute a positive
act of election of Philippine citizenship.[15]
In its second assignment of error, the Republic assails the
Court of Appeals decision in allowing respondent to use her
fathers surname despite its finding that she is illegitimate.
The Republics submission is misleading. The Court of
Appeals did not allow respondent to use her fathers
surname. What it did allow was the correction of her fathers
misspelled surname which she has been using ever since she
can remember. In this regard, respondent does not need a
court pronouncement for her to use her fathers surname.
We agree with the Court of Appeals when it held:
Firstly, Petitioner-appellee is now 47 years old. To bar her at this
time from using her fathers surname which she has used for four
decades without any known objection from anybody, would only
sow confusion. Concededly, one of the reasons allowed for changing
ones name or surname is to avoid confusion.
Secondly, under Sec. 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 142, the law
regulating the use of aliases, a person is allowed to use a name by
which he has been known since childhood.

CONSTI 2 41
Citizenship
Thirdly, the Supreme Court has already addressed the same
issue. In Pabellar v. Rep. of the Phils.,[16] we held:

DIRECTED to make the following corrections in the birth


record of respondent Chule Y. Lim, to wit:

Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 142, which regulates the use of


aliases, allows a person to use a name by which he has been known
since childhood (Lim Hok Albano v. Republic, 104 Phil. 795; People
v. Uy Jui Pio, 102 Phil. 679; Republic v. Taada, infra). Even
legitimate children cannot enjoin the illegitimate children of their
father from using his surname (De Valencia v. Rodriguez, 84 Phil.
222).[17]

1. Her family name from YO to YU;

While judicial authority is required for a change of name or


surname,[18] there is no such requirement for the continued use
of a surname which a person has already been using since
childhood.[19]

4. Her citizenship from Chinese to Filipino.

The doctrine that disallows such change of name as


would give the false impression of family relationship remains
valid but only to the extent that the proposed change of name
would in great probability cause prejudice or future mischief to
the family whose surname it is that is involved or to the
community in general.[20] In this case, the Republic has not
shown that the Yu family in China would probably be
prejudiced or be the object of future mischief. In respondents
case, the change in the surname that she has been using for
40 years would even avoid confusion to her community in
general.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant
petition for review is DENIED. The decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 68893 dated May 29, 2002, is
AFFIRMED. Accordingly, the Civil Registrar of Iligan City is

2. Her fathers name from YO DIU TO (CO TIAN) to YU DIOTO


(CO TIAN);
3. Her status from legitimate to illegitimate by changing YES to NO
in answer to the question LEGITIMATE?; and,

SO ORDERED.

[1]

Exhibit B, Records, p. 14.

[2]

Exhibit J, Records, p. 35.

[3]

Exhibit L, Records, p. 37.

[4]

Penned by Judge Gerardo D. Paguio.

[5]

CA-G.R. CV No. 68893, penned by Associate Justice Ruben T.


Reyes; concurred in by Associate Justices Renato C.
Dacudao and Amelita G. Tolentino; Rollo, pp. 29-40.

[6]

Rollo, p. 16.

[7]

141 SCRA 462, 474, G.R. No. L-32181, March 5,1986.

CONSTI 2 42
Citizenship
[8]

Eleosida v. Local Civil Registrar of Quezon City, 382 SCRA 22, 27,
G.R. No. 130277, May 9, 2002.

[9]

Re: Application for Admission to the Bar, Ching, Bar Matter No.
914, 1 October 1999, 374 Phil. 342, 349.

[10]

Id., at 350.

[11]

Supra.

[12]

In re: Florencio Mallare, Adm. Case No. 533, 12 September 1974,


59 Phil. 45, 52.

[13]

Re: Application for Admission to the Bar, Ching, supra.

[14]

TSN, February 13, 2000, p. 7.

[15]

In re: Florencio Mallare, supra, cited in Co v. Electoral Tribunal of


the House of Representatives, G.R. Nos. 92191-92, 30 July
1991, 199 SCRA 692, 707.

[16]

No. L-27298, 4 March 1976, 162 Phil. 22, 29.

[17]

Rollo, pp. 38-39.

[18]

Civil Code, Art. 376.

[19]

Pabellar v. Rep. of the Phils., No. L-27298, 4 March 1976, 162


Phil. 22, 29.

[20]

Llaneta v. Hon. Agrava, G.R. No. L-32054, 15 May 1974, 156


Phil. 21, 24.

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 120295. June 28, 1996]

CONSTI 2 43
Citizenship
JUAN G. FRIVALDO, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON
ELECTIONS, and RAUL R. LEE, respondents.

[G.R. No. 123755. June 28, 1996]

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.

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

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
(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
(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

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 petition 4 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

CONSTI 2 44
Citizenship
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, 1995proclamation 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.
Upon the finality of the annulment of the proclamation of Raul R.
Lee, the Provincial Board of Canvassers is directed to immediately

CONSTI 2 45
Citizenship
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

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";

Petitioner Lee's "position on the matter at hand briefly be


capsulized in the following propositions":15

2. Resolution17 of the Comelec en bane, promulgated on May 11,


1995; and

"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;

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

CONSTI 2 46
Citizenship
The facts of this case are essentially the same as those in
G.R. No. 123755. However, Frivaldo assails the abovementioned 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


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
pre-proclamation 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.

CONSTI 2 47
Citizenship
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. 104654 22 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 non-Filipino 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

CONSTI 2 48
Citizenship
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
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

CONSTI 2 49
Citizenship
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 reestablishment of democratic space, wasted no time in
returning to his country of birth to offer once more his talent
and services to his people.

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.

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.

* In addition, "candidates for the position of governor


x x x must be at least twenty-three (23) years of
age on election day."

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

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."

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

CONSTI 2 50
Citizenship
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

CONSTI 2 51
Citizenship
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

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.

It is thus clear that Frivaldo is a registered voter in the


province where he intended to be elected.

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."

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,

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

CONSTI 2 52
Citizenship
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 reacquire 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,

CONSTI 2 53
Citizenship
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.
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

CONSTI 2 54
Citizenship
"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 Resolution 53 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:
"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

CONSTI 2 55
Citizenship
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 Constitution 57 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,61Lee 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,

CONSTI 2 56
Citizenship
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."
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

CONSTI 2 57
Citizenship
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.

CONSTI 2 58
Citizenship
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.
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

CONSTI 2 59
Citizenship
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

CONSTI 2 60
Citizenship
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 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, singlemindedly 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.

Composed
of
Pres.
Comm.
Regalado
E.
Maambong, ponente; Comm. Graduacion A.R. Claravall, concurring,
and Comm. Julio F. Desamito, dissenting.
1

In SPC No. 95-317, entitled Juan G. Frivaldo, petitioner, vs. Raul R.


Lee, respondent; Rollo, pp. 110-129.
2

CONSTI 2 61
Citizenship
Signed by Chairman Bernardo P. Pardo, Comms. Regalado E.
Maambong, Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando, Manolo B. Gorospe
and Teresita Dy-Liaco Flores. Chairman Pardo certified that
"Commissioner Julio F. Desamito was on official travel at the time of
the deliberation and resolution of this case. However, the
Commission has reserved to Comm. Desamito the right to submit a
dissenting opinion." Rollo, pp. 159-171.
3

Rollo, pp. 46-49.

Rollo, pp. 50-55. The Second Division was composed of Pres.


Comm. Remedies A. Salazar-Fernando, ponente; Comm. Teresita
Dy-Liaco Flores, concurring, and Comm. Manolo B. Gorospe ("on
official business").
5

Frivaldo was naturalized as an American citizen on January 20,


1983. In G.R. No. 87193, Frivaldo vs. Commission on Elections, 174
SCRA 245 (June 23, 1989), the Supreme Court, by reason of such
naturalization, declared Frivaldo "not a citizen of the Philippines and
therefore DISQUALIFIED from serving as Governor of
the Province of Sorsogon." On February 28, 1992, the Regional Trial
Court of Manila granted the petition for naturalization of Frivaldo.
However, the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 104654, Republic of the
Philippines vs. De la Rosa, et al, 232 SCRA 785 (June 6,1994),
overturned this grant, and Frivaldo was "declared not a citizen of the
Philippines" and ordered to vacate his office. On the basis of this
latter Supreme Court ruling, the Comelec disqualified Frivaldo in SPA
No. 95-028.
6

Signed by Chairman Bernardo P. Pardo and the six incumbent


commissioners, namely, Regalado E. Maambong, Remedios A.
Salazar-Femando, Manolo B. Gorospe, Graduacion A. ReyesClaravall, Julio F. Desamito and Teresita Dy-Liaco Flores; Rollo, pp.
56-57.

11

Rollo, pp. 88-97. This is the forerunner of the present case.

12

211 SCRA 297 (July 3, 1992) and 176 SCRA 1 (August 1, 1989).

13

Rollo, pp. 110-128.

14

Rollo, pp. 159-170.

15

Rollo, pp. 16-17; petition, pp. 14-15.

Rollo, pp. 10-15. This is the same resolution referred to in footnote


no. 5.
16

Rollo, pp. 16-17. This is the same resolution referred to in footnote


no. 7.
17

Rollo, pp. 18-21. This is signed also by the Chairman and the six
other Comelec Commissioners
18

19

Republic Act No. 7160.

20

See footnote no. 6, supra.

In debunking Frivaldo's claim of citizenship, this Court in G.R. No.


87193, supra, p. 254, observed that "(i)f he (Frivaldo) really wanted
to disavow his American citizenship and reacquire Philippine
citizenship, petitioner should have done so in accordance with the
laws of our country. Under C.A. No. 63 as amended by C.A. No. 473
and P.D. 725, Philippine citizenship may be reacquired by direct act
of Congress, by naturalization, or by repatriation."
21

22

Supra, p. 794.

23

Petition, p. 27; Rollo, p. 29.

24

The full text of said memorandum reads as follows:

8.

Rollo, p. 60.

Rollo, pp. 61-67.

Rollo, pp. 86-87. The Comelec considered the votes cast for
Frivaldo as "stray votes," and thus Lee was held as having garnered
the "highest number of votes."
10

"MEMORANDUM
TO : The Solicitor General
The Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs
The Director-General
National Intelligence Coordinating Agency
The previous administration's practice of granting citizenship by
Presidential Decree or any other executive issuance, and the

CONSTI 2 62
Citizenship
derivative administrative authority thereof, 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.

6. Winthrop Santos Liwag 905

In view of the foregoing, you as Chairman and members of the


Special Committee on Naturalization, are hereby directed to cease
and desist from undertaking any and all proceedings within your
functional area of responsibility, as defined in Letter of Instructions
No. 270 dated April 11, 1975, as amended, Presidential Decree No.
836 dated December 3, 1975, as amended, and Presidential Decree
No. 1379 dated May 17, 1978, relative to the grant of citizenship
under the said laws, and any other related laws, orders, issuances
and rules and regulations.

9. Samuel Villanueva 908

(Sgd.) Corazon C. Aquino


Manila, March 27, 1987. "
25

Art. 7, Civil Code of the Philippines.

Cf. Ty, et al. vs. Trampe, et al, G.R. No. 117577 (December 1,
1995).
26

27

Petition, p. 28; Rollo p. 30.

28

The aforesaid Manifestation reads as follows:

"MANIFESTATION
The Solicitor General, as Chairman of the Special Committee on
Naturalization, hereby manifests that the following persons have
been repatriated by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 725, since June
8, 1995:
1. Juan Gallanosa Frivaldo R-000900
2. Manuel Reyes Sanchez 901
3. Ma. Nelly Dessalla Ty 902
4. Terry Herrera and
Antonio Ching 903
5. Roberto Salas Benedicto 904

7. Samuel M. Buyco 906


8. Joselito Holganza Ruiz 907

10. Juan Leonardo Collas, Jr. 909


11. Felicilda Otilla Sacnanas-Chua 910
29

The text of P.D. 725 is reproduced below:

"PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 725


PROVIDING FOR REPATRIATION OF FILIPINO WOMEN WHO
HAD LOST THEIR PHILIPPINE CITIZENSHIP BY MARRIAGE TO
ALIENS AND OF NATURAL BORN FILIPINOS.
WHEREAS, there are many Filipino women who had lost their
Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens;
WHEREAS, while the new Constitution allows a Filipino woman who
marries an alien to retain her Philippine citizenship unless by her act
or omission, she is deemed under the law to have renounced her
Philippine citizenship, such provision of the new Constitution does
not apply to Filipino women who had married aliens before said
constitution took effect;
WHEREAS, the existing law (C.A. No. 63, as amended) allows the
repatriation of Filipino women who lost their citizenship by reason of
their marriage to aliens only after the death of their husbands or the
termination of their marital status; and
WHEREAS, there are natural born Filipinos who have lost their
Philippine citizenship but now desire to re-acquire Philippine
citizenship;
Now, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the
Philippines, by virtue of the powers in me vested by the Constitution,
do hereby decree and order that: (1) Filipino women who lost their
Philippine citizenship by marriage to aliens; and (2) natural born
Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship may reacquire
Philippine citizenship through repatriation by applying with the

CONSTI 2 63
Citizenship
Special Committee on Naturalization created by Letter of Instructions
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.
The aforesaid Special Committee is hereby authorized to promulgate
rules and regulations and prescribe the appropriate forms and the
required fees for the effective implementation of this Decree.
This Decree shall take effect immediately.
Done in the City of Manila, this 5th day of June, in the year of Our
Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-five. "
30

See footnote no. 6, supra

31

Cf. Labo, Jr. vs. Comelec, 211 SCRA 297 (July 3, 1992).

"The term of office of all local elective officials elected after the
effectivity of this Code shall be three (3) years, starting from noon of
June 30, 1992 or such date as may be provided for by law, x x x."
Sec. 43, Local Government Code.
32

33

96 Phil. 447,453 (1955).

The following are excerpts from the transcript of stenographic


notes of the oral argument held on March 19, 1996:
34

"JUSTICE PANGANIBAN: Mr. Counsel, it is your position then that


the candidate should be a citizen at the time of proclamation?
ATTY. BRILLANTES: Yes, Your Honor, it is required that he must be
a citizen at the time of proclamation and not only that, at the time that
he assumes the office he must have the continuing qualification as a
citizen.
JUSTICE PANGANIBAN: Should that not be reckoned from the time
of filing of certificate of candidacy or at least the day of the election?
ATTY. BRILLANTES: Yes, Your Honor, there are positions taken that
it should be reckoned from the date of certificate of candidacy as in
the case of qualification for Batasang Pambansa before under B.P.

53 it says that for purposes of residence it must be reckoned x x x


from the time of the filing of the certificate, for purposes of age, from
the time of the date of the election. But when we go over all the
provisions of law under current laws, Your Honor, there is no
qualification requirement insofar as citizenship is concern(ed) as to
when, as to when you should be a citizen of the Philippines and we
say that if there is no provision under any existing law which requires
that you have to be a citizen of the Philippines on the date of the
filing or on the date of election then it has to be equitably interpreted
to mean that if you are already qualified at the time that the office is
supposed to be assumed then you should be allowed to assume the
office.
JUSTICE PANGANIBAN: Is it not also true that under the Local
Autonomy Code the candidate should also be a registered voter and
to be a registered voter one must be a citizen?
ATTY. BRILLANTES: Yes, Your Honor, in fact, 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.
JUSTICE PANGANIBAN: But the fact that he voted does not make
him a citizen. The fact is, he was declared not a citizen by this Court
twice.
ATTY. BRILLANTES: That is true, Your Honor, we admit that he has
been twice declared not citizen and we admit the ruling of the
Supreme Court is correct but the fact is, Your Honor, the matter of his
eligibility to vote as being a registered voter was likewise questioned
before the judiciary. There was a ruling by the Municipal Court, there
was a ruling by the Regional Trial Court and he was sustained as a
valid voter, so he voted.
JUSTICE PANGANIBAN: I raised this question in connection with
your contention that citizenship should be determined as of the time
of proclamation and not as of the time of the election or at the time'of
the filing of the certificate of candidacy.
ATTY. BRILLANTES: That is true, Your Honor.

CONSTI 2 64
Citizenship
JUSTICE PANGANIBAN: And is it your contention that under the law,
particularly the Local Autonomy Code, the law does not specify when
citizenship should be possessed by the candidate, is that not
correct?
ATTY. BRILLANTES: That is right, Your Honor, there is no express
provision.
JUSTICE PANGANIBAN: I am also asking you that under the Local
Autonomy Code the candidate for governor or for other local
positions should be a voter and to be a voter one must be a citizen?
ATTY. BRILLANTES: That is right, Your Honor, but the fact of voting
is not an issue here because he was allowed to vote and . he did in
fact vote and in fact, he was a registered voter." (TSN, March 19.
1996.)
Section 117, Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, otherwise known as "The
Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines," as amended, provides for
the various qualifications of voters, one of which is Filipino
citizenship
35

36

Comment, p. 11; Rollo, p. 259.

37

See footnote no. 33.

38

Section 253 reads as follows:

"Section 253. Petition for quo warranto. Any voter contesting the
election of any member of the Congress, 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 results of
the election. (Art. XIV, Sec. 60, BP 697; Art. XVIII, Sec. 189, par. 2,
1978 EC).
Any voter contesting the election of any municipal or barangay officer
on the ground of ineligibility or of disloyally to the Republic of the
Philippines shall file a sworn petition for quo warranto with the
regional trial court or metropolitan or municipal trial court,
respectively, within ten days after the proclamation of the results of
the election. (Art. XVIII, Sec. 189, par. 2, 1978 EC)."

Art. 4, New Civil Code. See also Gallardo vs. Borromeo, 161
SCRA 500 (May 25,1988), and Nilo vs. Court of Appeals, 128 SCRA
519 (April 2,1984).
39

Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of


the Philippines, Vol. I, 1990 ed., p. 23 states:
40

"Exceptions to Rule. Statutes can be given retroactive effect in the


following cases: (1) when the law itself so expressly provides, (2) in
case of remedial statutes, (3) in case of curative statutes, (4) in case
of laws interpreting others, and (5) in case of laws creating new
rights."
41

id., p. 25.

42

Agpalo, Statutory Construction, 1990 ed., pp. 270-271.

73 Am Jur 2d, sec. 354, p. 489, cited in Castro vs. Sagales, 94


Phil. 208,210 (1953).
43

44

Memorandum, p. 9.

45

73 Am Jur 2d, Sec. 351, p. 488.

46

73 Am Jur 2d, Sec. 354, p. 490; italics supplied.

47

Art. 10, Civil Code of the Philippines.

Based on the "Corrected Compliance" dated May 16, 1996 filed by


Solicitor General, it appears that, excluding the case of Frivaldo, the
longest interval between date of filing of an application for
repatriation and its approval was three months and ten days; the
swiftest action was a same-day approval.
48

"SEC. 40. Disqualifications. The following persons are disqualified


from running for any elective local position:
49

xxx xxx xxx


(d) Those with dual citizenship";
50

P. 11; Rollo, p. 259.

51

Resolution, p. 12; Rollo, p. 121.

CONSTI 2 65
Citizenship
Cf. Navarro vs. Commission on Elections, 228 SCRA 596
(December 17, 1993); Arao vs. Commission on Elections, 210 SCRA
290 (June 23, 1992).
52

53

The dispositive portion of said Resolution reads:

"WHEREFORE, this Division resolves to GRANT the petition and


declares that respondent is DISQUALIFIED to run for the office of
Provincial Governor of Sorsogon on the ground that he is not a
citizen of the Philippines. Accordingly respondent's certificate of
candidacy is cancelled."
54

Petition, p. 19; Rollo, p. 21.

55

Resolution promulgated on December 19, 1995, p. 7; Rollo, p. 116

42 SCRA 561, 565 (December 20, 1971), citing Moy Ya Lim Yao
vs. Commissioner of Immigration, L-21289, October 4, 1971.
56

57

Art. IX, Sec. 2.

SPC No. 95-317 is entitled "Annulment of Proclamation" and


contains the following prayer:
58

"WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable


Commission that after due notice and hearing an Oder (sic)
/Resolution/ Decision be issued as follows:
a) Annulling/setting aside the 30 June 1995 proclamation of
respondent as the duly election (sic), Governor of Sorsogon for being
contrary to law;
b) Ordering the proclamation of the petitioner as duly elected
governor of Sorsogon;
xxx xxx xxx
59

229 SCRA 666, 674 (February 4, 1994).

60

211 SCRA 297, 309 (July 3, 1992),

61

G.R. No. 120265, September 18, 1995.

62

Supra, at p. 312.

63

See footnotes 2 and 3.

64

174 SCRA 245, 254 (June 23,1959).

65

Salonga and Yap, Public International Law, 1966 ed., p. 239.

In Espinosa vs. Aquino, (Electoral Case No. 9, Senate Electoral


Tribunal [SET]), the election of the late Senator Benigno S. Aquino,
Jr. was upheld, despite his not being of the required age on the day
of the election, although he celebrated his thirty-fifth birthday before
his proclamation. Much later, in 1990, this Court held in Aznar vs.
Comelec (185 SCRA 703, May 25, 1990) that even if Emilio "Lito"
Osmena held an Alien Certificate of Registration as an American
citizen, he was still not disqualified from occupying the local elective
post of governor, since such certificate did not preclude his
being "still a Filipino." The holding in Aquino was subsequently
nullified by the adoption of the 1987 Constitution (Art. VI, Sec. 3),
which specified that the age qualification must be possessed on the
day of the elections, and not on the day of the proclamation of the
winners by the board of canvassers. On the other hand, Sec. 40 of
Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991 ) which took
effect on January 1, 1992 , provides that those with dual citizenship
are disqualified from running for any elective local position, and
effectively overturns the ruling in Aznar. But the point is that to the
extent possible, and unless there exist provisions to the contrary, the
laws have always been interpreted to give fullest effect to the political
will.
66

Benito vs. Commission on Elections, 235 SCRA 436, 442 (August


17, 1994).
67

This antagonism was clearly present in the two earlier cases


involving Frivaldo. See footnote no. 6.
68

CONSTI 2 66
Citizenship

EN BANC
[G.R. No. 142840. May 7, 2001]

a consequence, he lost his Filipino citizenship for under


Commonwealth Act No. 63, Section 1(4), a Filipino citizen may lose
his citizenship by, among others, "rendering service to or accepting
commission in the armed forces of a foreign country." Said provision
of law reads:
Section 1. How citizenship may be lost. -- A Filipino citizen may lose
his citizenship in any of the following ways and/or events:
xxx

ANTONIO BENGSON III, petitioner,


vs.

HOUSE
OF REPRESENTATIVES
ELECTORAL
TRIBUNAL and TEODORO C. CRUZ, respondents.
DECISION

KAPUNAN, J.:
The citizenship of respondent Teodoro C. Cruz is at issue in this
case, in view of the constitutional requirement that "no person shall
be a Member of the House of Representatives unless he is a naturalborn citizen."[1]
Respondent Cruz was a natural-born citizen of the
Philippines. He was born in San Clemente, Tarlac, on April 27, 1960,
of Filipino parents. The fundamental law then applicable was the
1935 Constitution.[2]
On November 5, 1985, however, respondent Cruz enlisted in the
United States Marine Corps and, without the consent of the Republic
of the Philippines, took an oath of allegiance to the United States. As

(4) By rendering services to, or accepting commission in, the armed


forces of a foreign country: Provided, That the rendering of service
to, or the acceptance of such commission in, the armed forces of a
foreign country, and the taking of an oath of allegiance incident
thereto, with the consent of the Republic of the Philippines, shall not
divest a Filipino of his Philippine citizenship if either of the
following circumstances is present:
(a) The Republic of the Philippines has a defensive and/or offensive
pact of alliance with said foreign country; or
(b) The said foreign country maintains armed forces on Philippine
territory with the consent of the Republic of the
Philippines: Provided, That the Filipino citizen concerned, at the
time of rendering said service, or acceptance of said commission,
and taking the oath of allegiance incident thereto, states that he does
so only in connection with his service to said foreign country; And
provided, finally, That any Filipino citizen who is rendering service
to, or is commissioned in, the armed forces of a foreign country
under any of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b),
shall not be permitted to participate nor vote in any election of the

CONSTI 2 67
Citizenship
Republic of the Philippines during the period of his service to, or
commission in, the armed forces of said country. Upon his discharge
from the service of the said foreign country, he shall be automatically
entitled to the full enjoyment of his civil and political rights as a
Filipino citizen x x x.
Whatever doubt that remained regarding his loss of Philippine
citizenship was erased by his naturalization as a U.S. citizen on June
5, 1990, in connection with his service in the U.S. Marine Corps.
On March 17, 1994, respondent Cruz reacquired his Philippine
citizenship through repatriation under Republic Act No. 2630. [3] He
ran for and was elected as the Representative of the Second District
of Pangasinan in the May 11, 1998 elections. He won by a
convincing margin of 26,671 votes over petitioner Antonio Bengson
III, who was then running for reelection.
Subsequently, petitioner filed a case for Quo Warranto Ad
Cautelam with respondent House of Representatives Electoral
Tribunal (HRET) claiming that respondent Cruz was not qualified to
become a member of the House of Representatives since he is not a
natural-born citizen as required under Article VI, Section 6 of the
Constitution.[4]
On March 2, 2000, the HRET rendered its decision [5] dismissing
the petition for quo warranto and declaring respondent Cruz the duly
elected Representative of the Second District of Pangasinan in the
May 1998 elections. The HRET likewise denied petitioner's motion
for reconsideration of the decision in its resolution dated April 27,
2000.[6]

Petitioner thus filed the present petition for certiorari assailing


the HRET's decision on the following grounds:
1. The HRET committed serious errors and grave abuse of discretion,
amounting to excess of jurisdiction, when it ruled that private
respondent is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines despite the fact
that he had ceased being such in view of the loss and renunciation of
such citizenship on his part.
2. The HRET committed serious errors and grave abuse of discretion,
amounting to excess of jurisdiction, when it considered private
respondent as a citizen of the Philippines despite the fact that he did
not validly acquire his Philippine citizenship.
3. Assuming that private respondent's acquisition of Philippine
citizenship was invalid, the HRET committed serious errors and
grave abuse of discretion, amounting to excess of jurisdiction, when
it dismissed the petition despite the fact that such reacquisition could
not legally and constitutionally restore his natural-born status. [7]
The issue now before us is whether respondent Cruz, a naturalborn Filipino who became an American citizen, can still be
considered a natural-born Filipino upon his reacquisition of
Philippine citizenship.
Petitioner asserts that respondent Cruz may no longer be
considered a natural-born Filipino since he lost his Philippine
citizenship when he swore allegiance to the United States in 1995,
and had to reacquire the same by repatriation. He insists that Article
IV, Section 2 of the Constitution expressly states that natural-born
citizens are those who are citizens from birth without having to
perform any act to acquire or perfect such citizenship.

CONSTI 2 68
Citizenship
Respondent on the other hand contends that he reacquired his
status as a natural-born citizen when he was repatriated since the
phrase "from birth" in Article IV, Section 2 refers to the innate,
inherent and inborn characteristic of being a natural-born citizen.
The petition is without merit.
The 1987 Constitution enumerates who are Filipino citizens as
follows:
(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of
the adoption of this Constitution;
(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the
Philippines;
(3) Those born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino
mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching
the age of majority, and
(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.[8]

On the other hand, naturalized citizens are those who have


become Filipino citizens through naturalization, generally under
Commonwealth Act No. 473, otherwise known as the Revised
Naturalization Law, which repealed the former Naturalization Law
(Act No. 2927), and by Republic Act No. 530. [11] To be naturalized,
an applicant has to prove that he possesses all the
qualifications[12] and none of the disqualifications[13] provided by law
to become a Filipino citizen. The decision granting Philippine
citizenship becomes executory only after two (2) years from its
promulgation when the court is satisfied that during the intervening
period, the applicant has (1) not left the Philippines; (2) has
dedicated himself to a lawful calling or profession; (3) has not been
convicted of any offense or violation of Government promulgated
rules; or (4) committed any act prejudicial to the interest of the
nation or contrary to any Government announced policies. [14]
Filipino citizens who have lost their citizenship may however
reacquire the same in the manner provided by law. Commonwealth
Act. No. 63 (C.A. No. 63), enumerates the three modes by which
Philippine citizenship may be reacquired by a former citizen: (1) by
naturalization, (2) by repatriation, and (3) by direct act of Congress.
[15]

There are two ways of acquiring citizenship: (1) by birth, and


(2) by naturalization. These ways of acquiring citizenship correspond
to the two kinds of citizens: the natural-born citizen, and the
naturalized citizen. A person who at the time of his birth is a citizen
of a particular country, is a natural-born citizen thereof. [9]
As defined in the same Constitution, natural-born citizens "are
those citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to
perform any act to acquire or perfect his Philippine citizenship." [10]

Naturalization is a mode for both acquisition and reacquisition


of Philippine citizenship. As a mode of initially acquiring Philippine
citizenship, naturalization is governed by Commonwealth Act No.
473, as amended. On the other hand, naturalization as a mode for
reacquiring Philippine citizenship is governed by Commonwealth
Act No. 63.[16] Under this law, a former Filipino citizen who wishes
to reacquire Philippine citizenship must possess certain
qualifications[17] and none of the disqualifications mentioned in
Section 4 of C.A. 473.[18]

CONSTI 2 69
Citizenship
Repatriation, on the other hand, may be had under various
statutes by those who lost their citizenship due to: (1) desertion of
the armed forces;[19] (2) service in the armed forces of the allied
forces in World War II;[20] (3) service in the Armed Forces of the
United States at any other time; [21] (4) marriage of a Filipino woman
to an alien;[22] and (5) political and economic necessity.[23]
As distinguished from the lengthy process of naturalization,
repatriation simply consists of the taking of an oath of allegiance to
the Republic of the Philippines and registering said oath in the Local
Civil Registry of the place where the person concerned resides or last
resided.
In Angat v. Republic,[24] we held:
xxx. Parenthetically, under these statutes [referring to RA Nos. 965
and 2630], the person desiring to reacquire Philippine citizenship
would not even be required to file a petition in court, and all that he
had to do was to take an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines and to register that fact with the civil registry in the place
of his residence or where he had last resided in the Philippines.
[Italics in the original.][25]
Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original
nationality.[26] This means that a naturalized Filipino who lost his
citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized
Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a naturalborn citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be
restored to his former status as a natural-born Filipino.
In respondent Cruz's case, he lost his Filipino citizenship when
he rendered service in the Armed Forces of the United

States. However, he subsequently reacquired Philippine citizenship


under R.A. No. 2630, which provides:
Section 1. Any person who had lost his Philippine citizenship by
rendering service to, or accepting commission in, the Armed Forces
of the United States, or after separation from the Armed Forces of the
United States, acquired United States citizenship, may reacquire
Philippine citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic
of the Philippines and registering the same with Local Civil Registry
in the place where he resides or last resided in the Philippines. The
said oath of allegiance shall contain a renunciation of any other
citizenship.
Having thus taken the required oath of allegiance to the
Republic and having registered the same in the Civil Registry of
Magantarem, Pangasinan in accordance with the aforecited
provision, respondent Cruz is deemed to have recovered his original
status as a natural-born citizen, a status which he acquired at birth as
the son of a Filipino father.[27] It bears stressing that the act of
repatriation allows him to recover, or return to, his original
status before he lost his Philippine citizenship.
Petitioner's contention that respondent Cruz is no longer a
natural-born citizen since he had to perform an act to regain his
citizenship is untenable. As correctly explained by the HRET in its
decision, the term "natural-born citizen" was first defined in Article
III, Section 4 of the 1973 Constitution as follows:
Sec. 4. A natural-born citizen is one who is a citizen of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire
or perfect his Philippine citizenship.

CONSTI 2 70
Citizenship
Two requisites must concur for a person to be considered as
such: (1) a person must be a Filipino citizen from birth and (2) he
does not have to perform any act to obtain or perfect his Philippine
citizenship.
Under the 1973 Constitution definition, there were two
categories of Filipino citizens which were not considered naturalborn: (1) those who were naturalized and (2) those born before
January 17, 1973,[28] of Filipino mothers who, upon reaching the age
of majority, elected Philippine citizenship. Those "naturalized
citizens" were not considered natural-born obviously because they
were not Filipinos at birth and had to perform an act to acquire
Philippine citizenship. Those born of Filipino mothers before the
effectivity of the 1973 Constitution were likewise not considered
natural-born because they also had to perform an act to perfect their
Philippine citizenship.
The present Constitution, however, now considers those born of
Filipino mothers before the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution and
who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the majority age as
natural-born. After defining who are natural-born citizens, Section 2
of Article IV adds a sentence: "Those who elect Philippine
citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall
be deemed natural-born citizens." Consequently, only naturalized
Filipinos are considered not natural-born citizens. It is apparent from
the enumeration of who are citizens under the present Constitution
that there are only two classes of citizens: (1) those who are naturalborn and (2) those who are naturalized in accordance with law. A
citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, i.e., did not have to undergo
the process of naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship,
necessarily is a natural-born Filipino. Noteworthy is the absence in
said enumeration of a separate category for persons who, after losing

Philippine citizenship, subsequently reacquire it. The reason therefor


is clear: as to such persons, they would either be natural-born or
naturalized depending on the reasons for the loss of their citizenship
and the mode prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition
thereof. As respondent Cruz was not required by law to go through
naturalization proceedings in order to reacquire his citizenship, he is
perforce a natural-born Filipino. As such, he possessed all the
necessary qualifications to be elected as member of the House of
Representatives.
A final point. The HRET has been empowered by the
Constitution to be the "sole judge" of all contests relating to the
election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the House.
[29]
The Court's jurisdiction over the HRET is merely to check
"whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction" on the part of the latter. [30] In the
absence thereof, there is no occasion for the Court to exercise its
corrective power and annul the decision of the HRET nor to
substitute the Court's judgment for that of the latter for the simple
reason that it is not the office of a petition for certiorari to inquire
into the correctness of the assailed decision. [31] There is no such
showing of grave abuse of discretion in this case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED.

CONCURRING OPINION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
I concur in the ponencia of Mr. Justice Santiago M. Kapunan,
holding that the House Electoral Tribunal did not gravely abuse its

CONSTI 2 71
Citizenship
discretion in ruling that Private Respondent Teodoro C. Cruz remains
a natural-born Filipino citizen and is eligible to continue being a
member of Congress. Let me just add a few points.

The Facts in Brief

It is undisputed that Congressman Cruz was born on April 27, 1960


in San Clemente, Tarlac, to Filipino parents. He was, therefore, a
Filipino citizen, pursuant to Section 1 (2),[1] Article IV of the
Constitution. Furthermore, not having done any act to acquire or
perfect the Philippine citizenship he obtained from birth, he was
a natural-born Filipino citizen, in accordance with Section 2[2] of
the same Article IV.
It is not disputed either that private respondent rendered military
service to the United States Marine Corps from November 1985 to
October 1993. On June 5, 1990, he was naturalized as an American
citizen, in connection with his US military service. Consequently,
under Section 1 (4)[3] of CA No. 63, he lost his Philippine citizenship.
Upon his discharge from the US Marine Corps, private
respondent returned to the Philippines and decided to regain his
Filipino citizenship. Thus, on March 17, 1994, availing himself of
the benefits of Republic Act (RA) No. 2630, entitled An Act
Providing for Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by Persons
Who Lost Such by Rendering Service to, or Accepting Commission
in, the Armed Forces of the United States, [4] Cruz took his oath of
allegiance to the Republic and registered the same with the Local
Civil Registry of Mangatarem, Pangasinan. On the same day, he also
executed an Affidavit of Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship.

Main Issue

The main question here is: Did the House of Representatives


Electoral Tribunal (HRET) commit grave abuse of discretion in
holding that, by reason of his repatriation, Congressman Teodoro C.
Cruz had reverted to his original status as a natural-born citizen? I
respectfully submit that the answer is No. In fact, I believe that the
HRET was correct in its ruling.

1. Repatriation Is Recovery of Original Citizenship


First, repatriation
is
simply
the
recovery
of original citizenship. Under Section 1 of RA 2630, a person who
ha[s] lost his citizenship may reacquire it by taking an oath of
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. Former Senate
President Jovito R. Salonga, a noted authority on the subject,
explains this method more precisely in his treatise, Private
International Law.[5] He defines repatriation as the recovery of
the original nationality upon fulfillment of certain conditions.
[6]
Webster buttresses this definition by describing the ordinary or
common usage of repatriate, as to restore or return to ones country
of origin, allegiance, or citizenship; x x x.[7] In relation to our subject
matter, repatriation, then, means restoration of citizenship. It is not a
grant of a new citizenship, but a recovery of ones former or original
citizenship.
To reacquire simply means to get back as ones own again.
Ergo, since Cruz, prior to his becoming a US citizen, was a
natural-born Filipino citizen, he reacquired the same status upon
repatriation. To rule otherwise that Cruz became a non-natural-born
citizen would not be consistent with the legal and ordinary meaning
of repatriation. It would be akin to naturalization, which is the
acquisition of a new citizenship. New, because it is not the same as
that with which he has previously been endowed.
[8]

In any case, the leaning, in questions of citizenship, should


always be in favor of [its] claimant x x x. [9] Accordingly, the same

CONSTI 2 72
Citizenship
should be construed in favor of private respondent, who claims to be
a natural-born citizen.

1. Not Being Naturalized, Respondent Is Natural Born


Second, under the present Constitution, private respondent
should be deemed natural-born, because was not naturalized. Let me
explain.
There are generally two classes of citizens: (1) natural-born
citizens and (2) naturalized citizens. [10] While CA 63 provides that
citizenship may also be acquired by direct act of the Legislature, I
believe that those who do become citizens through such procedure
would properly fall under the second category (naturalized). [11]
Naturalized citizens are former aliens or foreigners who had to
undergo a rigid procedure, in which they had to adduce sufficient
evidence to prove that they possessed all the qualifications and none
of the disqualifications provided by law in order to become Filipino
citizens. In contrast, as stated in the early case Roa v. Collector of
Customs,[12] a natural-born citizen is a citizen who has become such
at the moment of his birth.
The assailed HRET Decision, penned by Mr. Justice Vicente V.
Mendoza, explains clearly who are considered natural-born Filipino
citizens. He traces the concept as first defined in Article III of the
1973 Constitution, which simply provided as follows:
Sec. 4. A natural-born citizen is one who is a citizen of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire
or perfect his Philippine citizenship.
Under the above definition, there are two requisites in order that
a Filipino citizen may be considered natural-born: (1) one must be a
citizen of the Philippines from birth, and (2) one does not have to do

anything to acquire or perfect ones Philippine citizenship. [13] Thus,


under the 1973 Constitution, excluded from the class of natural-born
citizens were (1) those who were naturalized and (2) those born
before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers who, upon reaching the
age of majority, elected Philippine citizenship. [14]
The present Constitution, however, has expanded the scope of
natural-born citizens to include [t]hose who elect Philippine
citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof,
meaning those covered under class (2) above. Consequently, only
naturalized Filipino citizens are not considered natural-born
citizens. Premising therefrom, respondent -- being clearly and
concededly not naturalized -- is, therefore, a natural-born citizen of
the Philippines.[15]
With respect to repatriates, since the Constitution does not
classify
them
separately,
they
naturally
reacquire
their original classification before the loss of their Philippine
citizenship. In the case of Congressman Teodoro C. Cruz, upon his
repatriation in 1994, he reacquired his lost citizenship. In other
words, he regained his original status as a natural-born Filipino
citizen, nothing less.

3. No Grave Abuse of Discretion on the Part of HRET


Third, I respectfully submit that the HRET has not abused,
much less gravely abused, its discretion in holding that Respondent
Cruz is a natural-born Filipino citizen who is qualified to be a
member of Congress. I stress that the Court, in this certiorari
proceeding before us, is limited to determining whether the HRET
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in issuing its assailed Decision. The Court has no power
to reverse or modify HRETs rulings, simply because it differs in its
perception of controversies. It cannot substitute its discretion for that

CONSTI 2 73
Citizenship
of HRET, an independent, constitutional body with its own specific
mandate.
The Constitution explicitly states that the respective Electoral
Tribunals of the two chambers of Congress shall be the sole judges
of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of
their respective members.[16] In several cases,[17] this Court has held
that the power and the jurisdiction of the Electoral Tribunals are
original and exclusive, as if they remained in the legislature, a
coequal branch of government. Their judgments are beyond judicial
interference, unless rendered without or in excess of their jurisdiction
or with grave abuse of discretion.[18] In the elegant words of Mr.
Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez Jr.:[19]
The Court does not venture into the perilous area of trying to correct
perceived errors of independent branches of the Government. It
comes in only when it has to vindicate a denial of due process or
correct an abuse of discretion so grave or glaring that no less than the
Constitution calls for remedial action.
True, there is no settled judicial doctrine on the exact effect of
repatriation. But, as earlier explained, the legal and common
definition
of
repatriation
is
the
reacquisition
of
the former citizenship. How then can the HRET be rebuked with
grave abuse of discretion? At best, I can concede that the legal
definition is not judicially settled or is even doubtful. But
an interpretation made in good faith and grounded on reason one
way or the other cannot be the source of grave abuse amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction. The HRET did not violate the
Constitution or the law or any settled judicial doctrine. It was
definitely acting within its exclusive domain.
Be it remembered that our Constitution vests upon the HRET
the power to be the sole judge of the qualifications of members of the
House of Representatives, one of which is citizenship. Absent
any clear showing of a manifest violation of the Constitution or the
law or any judicial decision, this Court cannot impute grave abuse of

discretion to the HRET in the latters actions on matters over which


full discretionary authority is lodged upon it by our fundamental law.
[20]
Even assuming that we disagree with the conclusions of public
respondent, we cannot ipso facto attribute to it grave abuse of
discretion. Verily, there is a line between perceived error and grave
abuse.[21]
By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious and
whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough. It must
be grave abuse of discretion as when the power is exercised in an
arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal
hostility, and must be so patent and so gross as to amount to an
evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty
enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law.[22]
That the HRET, after careful deliberation and purposeful study,
voted 7 to 2 to issue its Decision upholding the qualifications of
Congressman Cruz could not in any wise be condemned as gravely
abusive. Neither can I find any patent or gross arbitrariness or
despotism by reason of passion or hostility in such exercise.

4. In Case of Doubt, Popular Will Prevails


Fourth, the Court has a solemn duty to uphold the clear and
unmistakable mandate of the people. It cannot supplant the sovereign
will of the Second District of Pangasinan with fractured
legalism. The people of the District have clearly spoken. They
overwhelmingly and unequivocally voted for private respondent to
represent them in the House of Representatives. The votes that Cruz
garnered (80,119) in the last elections were much more than those
of all his opponents combined (66,182).[23] In such instances, all
possible doubts should be resolved in favor of the winning
candidates eligibility; to rule otherwise would be to defeat the will of
the people.[24]

CONSTI 2 74
Citizenship
Well-entrenched in our jurisprudence is the doctrine that in case
of doubt, political laws must be so construed as to give life and spirit
to the popular mandate freely expressed through the ballot. [25] Public
interest and the sovereign will should, at all times, be the paramount
considerations in election controversies. [26] For it would be better to
err in favor of the peoples choice than to be right in complex but
little understood legalisms.[27]
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
antagonistic to constitutional and legal principles that overriding
such ineligibility and thereby giving effect to the apparent will of the
people would ultimately create greater prejudice to the very
democratic institutions and juristic traditions that our Constitution
and laws so zealously protect and promote.[28]

More so should our government open its doors to former


Filipinos, like Congressman Cruz, who want to rejoin the Filipino
community as citizens again. They are not aliens in the true sense of
the law. They are actually Filipinos by blood, by origin and by
culture, who want to reacquire their former citizenship.
It cannot be denied that most Filipinos go abroad and apply for
naturalization in foreign countries, because of the great economic or
social opportunities there. Hence, we should welcome former
Filipino citizens desirous of not simply returning to the country or
regaining Philippine citizenship, but of serving the Filipino people as
well. One of these admirable Filipinos is private respondent who, in
only a year after being absent from the Philippines for about eight (8)
years, was already voted municipal mayor of Mangatarem,
Pangasinan. And after serving as such for just one term, he was
overwhelmingly chosen by the people to be their representative in
Congress.
I reiterate, the people have spoken. Let not a restrictive and
parochial interpretation of the law bar the sovereign will. Let not
grave abuse be imputed on the legitimate exercise of HRETs
prerogatives.
WHEREFORE, I vote to DISMISS the petition.

5. Current Trend Towards Globalization


Fifth, the current trend, economically as well as politically, is
towards
globalization.[29] Protectionist
barriers
are
being
dismantled. Whereas, in the past, governments frowned upon the
opening of their doors to aliens who wanted to enjoy the same
privileges as their citizens, the current era is adopting a more liberal
perspective. No longer are applicants for citizenship eyed with the
suspicion that they merely want to exploit local resources for
themselves. They are now being considered potential sources of
developmental skills, know-how and capital.

DISSENTING OPINION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
With due respect, I disagree with the ponencia of Justice
Santiago M. Kapunan. I am convinced that private respondent
Teodoro C. Cruz is not a natural born citizen and, therefore, must be
disqualified as a member of Congress.
Who are natural-born citizens?

CONSTI 2 75
Citizenship
The laws on citizenship its acquisition or loss, and the rights,
privileges, and immunities of citizens have given rise to some of the
most disputatious and visceral issues resolved by this Court. The
problem is compounded in this petition because citizenship is taken
up in connection with the sovereign right of voters to choose their
representatives in Congress.
In this petition for certiorari, petitioner Antonio Bengson III
asks this Court to deny respondent Teodoro Cruz the right to hold the
Office of Representative of the Second District of Pangasinan
because he does not possess the constitutional requirement of being a
natural-born citizen of this country. Respondent, on the other hand,
insists that he is qualified to be elected to Congress considering that
by repatriation, he re-acquired his status as a natural-born Filipino
citizen.
Records show that Teodoro Cruz was born in the Philippines on
April 27, 1960 to Filipino parents, spouses Lamberto and Carmelita
Cruz. On November 5, 1985, he enlisted in the United States Armed
Forces and served the United States Marine Corps. While in the
service for almost five years, he applied for naturalization with the
US District Court of Northern District of California and was issued
his Certificate of Naturalization No. 14556793 as an American
citizen. On October 27, 1993, he was honorably discharged from the
US Marine Corps. He then decided to return to the Philippines.
Cruz availed of repatriation under R.A. No. 2630, an act
providing for reacquisition of Philippine citizenship by persons who
lost such citizenship by rendering service to or accepting commission
in the Armed Forces of the United States. On March 17, 1994, he
took his oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. The
oath was registered with the Local Civil Registry of Mangatarem,
Pangasinan. On the same date, he executed an Affidavit of
Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship. Thus, on April 11, 1994, the
Bureau of Immigration and Deportation ordered the cancellation of
his Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR No. B-04628111) and
Immigration Certificate of Residence (ICR No. 286582) and issued
him an Identification Certificate.

The cancellation of his ACR and ICR was affirmed by the


Justice Department. On January 18, 1995, the United States Embassy
in Manila issued to him a Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the
United States.
In the local elections of 1995, Cruz filed his certificate of
candidacy for mayor of Mangatarem, Pangasinan, declaring himself
to be a naturalized Filipino citizen. He won and served as mayor for
one term.
Thereafter, Cruz filed his certificate of candidacy for a seat in
Congress, this time declaring himself as a natural-born
Filipino. Again, he won with a lead of 26,671 votes over candidate
Antonio Bengson, III.
On September 3, 1998, Cruz was proclaimed winner in the
congressional race in the Second District of Pangasinan.
Bengson then filed a petition for Quo Warranto Ad
Cautelam with the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal
(HRET) on September 14, 1998, claiming that Cruz, not being a
natural-born Filipino citizen when he filed his Certificate of
Candidacy on March 15, 1998, is not qualified to run as a member of
the House of Representatives. That he should be a natural-born
citizen is a qualification mandated by Section 6, Article VI of the
Constitution which provides: No person shall be a member of the
House of Representatives unless he is a natural-born citizen of the
Philippines.
After oral arguments and the submission by the parties of their
respective memoranda and supplemental memoranda, the HRET
rendered a decision holding that Cruz reacquired his natural-born
citizenship upon his repatriation in 1994 and declaring him duly
elected representative of the Second District of Pangasinan in the
May 11, 1998 elections, thus:
WHEREFORE, the petition for quo warranto is DISMISSED and
Respondent Teodoro C. Cruz is hereby DECLARED duly elected

CONSTI 2 76
Citizenship
Representative of the Second District of Pangasinan in the May 11,
1998 elections.
As soon as this Decision becomes final and executory, let notices and
copies thereof be sent to the President of the Philippines; the House
of Representatives, through the Speaker, and the Commission on
Audit, through its Chairman, pursuant to Rule 76 of the 1998 Rules
of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.Costs de oficio.
On March 13, 2000, Bengson filed a motion for reconsideration
of the said Decision but the same was denied by the HRET in
Resolution No. 00-48.
Bengson now comes to us via a petition for certiorari assailing
the HRET Decision on grounds that:
1. The HRET committed serious errors and grave abuse of discretion,
amounting to excess of jurisdiction, when it ruled that private
respondent is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines despite the fact
that he had ceased being such in view of the loss and renunciation of
such citizenship on his part.
2. The HRET committed serious errors and grave abuse of discretion,
amounting to excess of jurisdiction, when it considered private
respondent as a citizen of the Philippines despite the fact that he did
not validly acquire his Philippine citizenship.
3. Assuming that private respondents acquisition of Philippine
citizenship was invalid, the HRET committed serious errors and
grave abuse of discretion, amounting to excess of jurisdiction, when
it dismissed the petition despite the fact that such reacquisition could
not legally and constitutionally restore his natural-born status.

The sole issue raised in this petition is whether or not


respondent Cruz was a natural-born citizen of the Philippines at the
time of the filing of his Certificate of Candidacy for a seat in the
House of Representatives.
Section 2, Article IV of the Constitution[1] provides:
Sec. 2. Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire
or perfect their Philippine citizenship. xxx.
Petitioner and respondent present opposing interpretations of
the phrase from birth contained in the above provisions.
Petitioner contends that the phrase from birth indicates that
citizenship must start at a definite point and must be continuous,
constant and without interruption.The Constitution does not extend
the privilege of reacquiring a natural-born citizen status to
respondent, who at one time, became an alien. His loss of citizenship
carried with it the concomitant loss of all the benefits, privileges and
attributes of natural-born citizenship. When he reacquired his
citizenship in 1994, he had to comply with the requirements for
repatriation, thus effectively taking him out of the constitutional
definition of a natural-born Filipino.
For his part, respondent maintains that the phrase from birth
refers to the innate, inherent and inborn characteristic of being a
natural-born. Since he was born to Filipino parents, he has been a
natural-born Filipino from birth. His reacquisition of Philippine
citizenship under Republic Act No. 2630 results in his reacquisition
of his inherent characteristic of being a natural-born citizen.
The state of being a natural-born citizen has been regarded, not
so much in its literal sense, but more in its legal connotation.
The very first natural-born Filipinos did not acquire that status
at birth. They were born as Spanish subjects. In Roa vs. Collector of
Customs,[2] the Supreme Court traced the grant of natural-born status

CONSTI 2 77
Citizenship
from the Treaty of Paris, and the Acts of Congress of July 1, 1902
and March 23, 1912, which is a reenactment of Section 4 of the
former with a proviso which reads:
Provided, That the Philippine Legislature is hereby authorized to
provide by law for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those
natives of the Philippine Islands who do not come within the
foregoing provisions, the natives of other Insular possessions of the
United States, and such other persons residing in the Philippine
Islands who could become citizens of the United States under the
laws of the United States, if residing therein.
It was further held therein that under the said provision, every
person born after the 11th of April, 1899, of parents who were
Spanish subjects on that date and who continued to reside in this
country are at the moment of their birth ipso facto citizens of the
Philippine Islands.
Under the April 7, 1900 Instructions of President William
McKinley to the Second Philippine Commission, considered as our
first colonial charter or fundamental law, we were referred to as
people of the Islands, or inhabitants of the Philippine Islands, or
natives of the Islands and not as citizens, much less natural-born
citizens. The first definition of citizens of the Philippine Islands in
our law is found in Section 4 of the Philippine Bill of 1902.[3]
Philippine citizenship, including the status of natural-born, was
initially a loose or even non-existent qualification. As a requirement
for the exercise of certain rights and privileges, it became a more
strict and difficult status to achieve with the passing of the years.
Early decisions of the Supreme Court held that Philippine
citizenship could be acquired under either the jus sanguinis or jus
soli doctrine.[4]
This liberal policy was applied even as the Philippine Bill of
1902 and the Jones Law or the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916
appear to have limited citizens of the Philippine Islands to resident

inhabitants who were Spanish subjects on April 11, 1899, their


children born subsequent thereto, and later, those naturalized
according to law by the Philippine legislature. Only later was jus
sanguinis firmly applied and jus soli abandoned.
Hence, the status of being a natural-born citizen at its incipient
is a privilege conferred by law directly to those who intended, and
actually continued, to belong to the Philippine Islands. Even at the
time of its conception in the Philippines, such persons upon whom
citizenship was conferred did not have to do anything to acquire full
citizenship.[5]
Respondent wants us to believe that since he was natural-born
Filipino at birth, having been born in the Philippines to Filipino
parents, he was automatically restored to that status when he
subsequently reacquired his citizenship after losing it.
Public respondent HRET affirmed respondents position when it
pronounced that the definition of a natural-born citizen in Section 2,
Article IV of the Constitution refers to the classes of citizens
enumerated in Section 1 of the same Article, to wit:
Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:
(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of
the adoption of this Constitution;
(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the
Philippines;
(3) Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino
mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching
the age of majority; and
(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.
Thus, respondent HRET held that under the above enumeration,
there are only two classes of citizens, i.e., natural-born and

CONSTI 2 78
Citizenship
naturalized. Since respondent Cruz is not a naturalized citizen, then
he is a natural-born Filipino citizen.
I do not agree. I reiterate that Section 2, Article IV of the
Constitution defines natural-born citizens as those who are citizens
of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to
acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.
Pursuant to R.A. No. 2630, quoted as follows:
Republic Act No. 2630. AN ACT PROVIDING FOR
REACQUISITION OF PHILIPPINE CITIZENSHIP BY PERSONS
WHO LOST SUCH CITIZENSHIP BY RENDERING SERVICE
TO, OR ACCEPTING COMMISSION IN, THE ARMED FORCES
OF THE UNITED STATES, provides:
Section 1. Any person who had lost his Philippine citizenship be
rendering service to, or accepting commission in the Armed Forces
of the United States, or after separation from the Armed Forces of the
United States, acquired United States citizenship, may reacquire
Philippine citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic
of the Philippines and registering the same with the Local Civil
Registry in the place where he resides or last resided in the
Philippines. The said oath of allegiance shall contain a renunciation
of any other citizenship.
respondent Cruz had to perform certain acts before he could again
become a Filipino citizen. He had to take an oath of allegiance to the
Republic of the Philippines and register his oath with the Local Civil
Registry of Mangatarum, Pangasinan. He had to renounce his
American citizenship and had to execute an affidavit of reacquisition
of Philipine citizenship.
Clearly, he did not reacquire his natural-born citizenship. The
cardinal rule in the interpretation and construction of a constitution is
to give effect to the intention of the framers and of the people who
adopted it. Words appearing in a Constitution are used according to

their plain, natural, and usual significance and import and must be
understood in the sense most obvious to the common understanding
of the people at the time of its adoption.
The provision on natural-born citizens of the Philippines is
precise, clear and definite. Indeed, neither HRET nor this Court can
construe it other than what its plain meaning conveys. It is not
phrased in general language which may call for construction of what
the words imply.
[6]

In J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. vs. Land Tenure Administration,


this Court held:

Ascertainment of meaning of provisions of Constitution begins with


the language of the document itself. The words used in the
Constitution are to be given their ordinary meaning, except where
technical terms are employed, in which case the significance thus
attached to them prevails. As the Constitution is not primarily a
lawyers document, it being essential for the rule of law to obtain that
it should ever be present in the peoples consciousness, its language
as much as possible, should be understood in the sense they have in
common use. What it says according to the text of the provision to be
construed compels acceptance and negates the power of the courts to
alter it, based on the postulate that the framers and the people mean
what they say.
The definition of a natural-born citizen in the Constitution must
be applied to this petition according to its natural sense.
Respondent HRET likewise ruled that the reacquisition of
Philippine citizenship through any of these modes: (naturalization,
repatriation and legislation under Section 3, C.A. No. 63) results in
the restoration of previous status, either as a natural-born or a
naturalized citizen is a simplistic approach and tends to be
misleading.

CONSTI 2 79
Citizenship
If citizenship is gained through naturalization, repatriation or
legislation, the citizen concerned can not be considered naturalborn. Obviously, he has to perform certain acts to become a citizen.
As expressed in the Dissent of Justice Jose C. Vitug [7] in the
instant case, concurred in by Justice Jose A.R. Melo: [8]
Repatriation is the resumption or recovery of the original nationality
upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. While an applicant need
not have to undergo the tedious and time consuming process required
by the Revised Naturalization Law (CA 473, as amended), he,
nevertheless, would still have to make an express and unequivocal
act of formally rejecting his adopted state and reaffirming his total
and exclusive allegiance and loyalty to the Republic of the
Philippines. It bears emphasis that, to be considered a natural-born
citizen under the first part of section 2, Article IV, of the 1987
Constitution, one should not have to perform any act at all or go
through any process, judicial or administrative, to enable him to
reacquire his citizenship. Willoughby opines that a natural-born
citizen is one who is able to claim citizenship without any prior
declaration on his part of a desire to obtain such status. Under this
view, the term natural born citizens could also cover those who have
been collectively deemed citizens by reason of the Treaty of Paris
and the Philippine Bill of 1902 and those who have been accorded by
the 1935 Constitution to be Filipino citizens (those born in the
Philippines of alien parents who, before the adoption of the 1935
Constitution had been elected to public office.)
The two dissenting Justices correctly stated that the stringent
requirement of the Constitution is so placed as to insure that only
Filipino citizens with an absolute and permanent degree of allegiance
and loyalty shall be eligible for membership in Congress, the branch
of the government directly involved and given the delicate task of
legislation.
The dissenting opinion further states:

The term natural-born Filipino citizen, first constitutionally defined


in the 1973 Charter, later adopted by the 1987 Constitution,
particularly in Section 2, Article IV thereof, is meant to refer to those
who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to
perform any act to acquire or perfect their citizenship, and to those
who elect Philippine citizenship. Time and again, the Supreme Court
has declared that where the law speaks in clear and categorical
language, there is no room for interpretation, vacillation or
equivocation there is only room for application. The phrase from
birth indicates that there is a starting point of his citizenship and this
citizenship should be continuous, constant and without interruption.
Thus, respondent is not eligible for election to Congress as the
Constitution requires that a member of the House of Representatives
must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.
For sure, the framers of our Constitution intended to provide a
more stringent citizenship requirement for higher elective offices,
including that of the office of a Congressman. Otherwise, the
Constitution should have simply provided that a candidate for such
position can be merely a citizen of the Philippines, as required of
local elective officers.
The spirit of nationalism pervading the 1935 Constitution, the
first charter framed and ratified by the Filipinos (even as the draft
had to be approved by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the
United States) guides and governs the interpretation of Philippine
citizenship and the more narrow and bounded concept of being a
natural-born citizen.
Under the 1935 Constitution,[9] the requirement of natural-born
citizenship was applicable only to the President and Vice President.
[10]
A person who had been a citizen for only five (5) years could be
elected to the National Assembly.[11] Only in 1940,[12] when the first
Constitution was amended did natural-born citizenship become a
requirement for Senators and Members of the House of
Representatives.[13] A Filipino naturalized for at least five (5) years

CONSTI 2 80
Citizenship
could still be appointed Justice of the Supreme Court or a Judge of a
lower court.[14]
The history of the Constitution shows that the meaning and
application of the requirement of being natural-born have become
more narrow and qualified over the years.
Under the 1973 Constitution,[15] the President, members of the
National Assembly, Prime Minister, Justices of the Supreme Court,
Judges of inferior courts, the chairmen and members of the
Constitutional Commissions and the majority of members of the
cabinet, must be natural-born citizens. [16] The 1987 Constitution
added the Ombudsman and his deputies and the members of the
Commission on Human Rights to those who must be natural-born
citizens.[17]
The questioned Decision of respondent HRET reverses the
historical trend and clear intendment of the Constitution. It shows a
more liberal, if not a cavalier approach to the meaning and import of
natural-born citizen and citizenship in general.
It bears stressing that we are tracing and enforcing a doctrine
embodied in no less than the Constitution. Indeed, a deviation from
the clear and constitutional definition of a natural-born Filipino
citizen is a matter which can only be accomplished through a
constitutional amendment. Clearly, respondent HRET gravely abused
its discretion.
Respondent Cruz has availed himself of the procedure whereby
his citizenship has been restored. He can run for public office where
natural-born citizenship is not mandated. But he cannot be elected to
high offices which the Constitution has reserved only for naturalborn Filipino citizens.
WHEREFORE, I vote to GRANT the petition.

[1]

1987 Constitution, Article IV, Section 6.

[2]

Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution states:

The following are citizens of the Philippines:


1) Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of the
adoption of the Constitution;
2) Those born in the Philippine Islands of foreign parents who, before the
adoption of this Constitution had been elected to public office in the
Philippine Islands;
3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines;
4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and, upon reaching
the age of majority, elected Philippine citizenship; and
5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.
[3]

An Act Providing for Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship by Persons


Who Lost Such Citizenship by Rendering Service To, or Accepting
Commission In, the Armed Forces of the United States (1960).
[4]

Said provision reads:

No person shall be a member of the House of Representatives unless he is a


natural-born citizen of the Philippines and, on the day of the election, is at
least twenty-five years of age, able to read and write, and except the partylist representatives, a registered voter in the district in which he shall be
elected, and a resident thereof for a period of not less than one year
immediately preceding the day of the election.
[5]

Rollo, p. 36.

[6]

Id., at 69.

CONSTI 2 81
Citizenship
[7]

Id., at 13.

[8]

Article IV, Section 1.

[9]

I TOLENTINO, COMMENTARIES AND JURISPRUDENCE ON THE


CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES 188, 1990 Ed.
[10]

1987 Constitution, Article IV, Section 2.

[11]

During the period under Martial Law declared by President Ferdinand E.


Marcos, thousands of aliens were naturalized by Presidential Decree where
the screening of the applicants was undertaken by special committee under
Letter of Instructions No. 270, dated April 11, 1975, as amended.
[12]

Section 2, Act 473 provides the following qualifications:

(f) He must have enrolled his minor children of school age, in any of the
public schools or private schools recognized by the Bureau of Private
Schools of the Philippines where Philippine history, government and civic
are taught or prescribed as part of the school curriculum, during the entire
period of the residence in the Philippines required of him prior to the
hearing of his petition for naturalization as Philippine citizen.
[13]

Section 4, Act 473, provides the following disqualifications:

(a) He must not be opposed to organized government or affiliated with any


association or group of persons who uphold and teach doctrines opposing
all organized governments;
(b) He must not be defending or teaching the necessity or propriety of
violence, personal assault, or assassination for the success and
predominance of their ideas;

(a) He must be not less than 21 years of age on the day of the hearing of the
petition;

(c) He must not be a polygamist or believer in the practice of polygamy;

(b) He must have resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not
less than ten years;

(d) He must not have been convicted of any crime involving moral
turpitude;

(c) He must be of good moral character and believes in the principles


underlying the Philippine Constitution, and must have conducted himself in
a proper and irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence
in the Philippines in his relation with the constituted government and well
as with the community in which he is living;

(e) He must not be suffering from mental alienation or incurable contagious


diseases;

(d) He must own real estate in the Philippines worth not less
than five thousand pesos, Philippine currency, or must have some known
lucrative trade, profession, or lawful occupation;
(e) He must be able to speak and write English or Spanish and any of the
principal languages; and

(f) He must have, during the period of his residence in the Philippines (of
not less than six months before filing his application), mingled socially with
the Filipinos, or who have not evinced a sincere desire to learn and embrace
the customs, traditions and ideals of the Filipinos;
(g) He must not be a citizen or subject of a nation with whom the
Philippines is at war, during the period of such war;

CONSTI 2 82
Citizenship
(h) He must not be a citizen or subject of a foreign country whose laws do
not grant Filipinos the right to become naturalized citizens or subjects
thereof.

[21]

Sec. 1, Republic Act No. 2630 (1960).

[22]

Sec. 1, Republic Act No. 8171 (1995).

[14]

Section 1, R.A. 530.

[23]

Ibid.

[15]

Section 2, C.A. No. 63.

[24]

314 SCRA 438 (1999).

[25]

Id., at 450.

[26]

Jovito R. Salonga, Private International Law, p. 165 (1995)

[27]

See Art. IV, Sec. 1, 1935 Constitution.

[28]

The date of effectivity of the 1973 Constitution.

[16]

An Act Providing for the Ways in Which Philippine Citizenship May Be


Lost or Reacquired (1936).
[17]

1. The applicant must have lost his original Philippine citizenship


by naturalization in a foreign country or by express renunciation of his
citizenship (Sec. 1[1] and [2], C.A. No. 63);
2. He must be at least twenty-one years of age and shall have resided in the
Philippines at least six months before he applies for naturalization (Sec.
3[1], C.A. No. 63);

[29]

Article VI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution provides thus:

4. He subscribes to an oath declaring his intention to renounce absolutely


and perpetually all faith and allegiance to the foreign authority, state or
sovereignty of which he was a citizen or subject (Sec. 3[3], C.A. No. 63).

Sec. 17. The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an
Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to
the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members. Each
Electoral Tribunal shall be composed of nine Members, three of whom shall
be Justices of the Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Justice, and
the remaining six shall be Members of the Senate or the House of
Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen on the basis of
proportional representation from the political parties and the parties or
organizations registered under the party-list system represented therein. The
senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman.

[18]

See note 13.

[30]

[19]

Sec. 4, C.A. No. 63.

[20]

Sec. 1, Republic Act No. 965 (1953).

3. He must have conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner


during the entire period of his residence (of at least six months prior to the
filing of the application) in the Philippines, in his relations with the
constituted government as well as with the community in which he is living
(Sec. 3[2], C.A. No. 63);

Garcia vs. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, 312 SCRA 353,


364 (1999).

EN BANC

CONSTI 2 83
Citizenship
G.R. No. 176947

February 19, 2009

GAUDENCIO M. CORDORA, Petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and GUSTAVO S.
TAMBUNTING, Respondents.
DECISION

That Annex A [Tambuntings Certificate of Candidacy for the 2001


elections] and Annex B [Tambuntings Certificate of Candidacy for
the 2004 elections] state, among others, as follows, particularly
Nos. 6, 9 and 12 thereof:
1. No. 6 I am a Natural Born/Filipino Citizen
2. No. 9 No. of years of Residence before May 14,
2001.

CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a petition for certiorari and mandamus, with prayer for the
issuance of a temporary restraining order under Rule 65 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
In EO Case No. 05-17, Gaudencio M. Cordora (Cordora) accused
Gustavo S. Tambunting (Tambunting) of an election offense for
violating Section 74 in relation to Section 262 of the Omnibus
Election Code. The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En
Banc dismissed Cordoras complaint in a Resolution1 dated 18
August 2006. The present petition seeks to reverse the 18 August
2006 Resolution as well as the Resolution2 dated 20 February
2007 of the COMELEC En Banc which denied Cordoras motion
for reconsideration.
The Facts
In his complaint affidavit filed before the COMELEC Law
Department, Cordora asserted that Tambunting made false
assertions in the following items:

36 in the Philippines and 25 in the Constituency where I


seek to be elected;
3. No. 12 I am ELIGIBLE for the office I seek to be
elected.3 (Boldface and capitalization in the original)
Cordora stated that Tambunting was not eligible to run for local
public office because Tambunting lacked the required citizenship
and residency requirements.
To disprove Tambuntings claim of being a natural-born Filipino
citizen, Cordora presented a certification from the Bureau of
Immigration which stated that, in two instances, Tambunting
claimed that he is an American: upon arrival in the Philippines on
16 December 2000 and upon departure from the Philippines on
17 June 2001. According to Cordora, these travel dates confirmed
that Tambunting acquired American citizenship through
naturalization in Honolulu, Hawaii on 2 December 2000. Cordora
concluded:
That Councilor Gustavo S. Tambunting contrary to the provision
of Sec 74 (OEC): [sic] Re: CONTENTS OF CERTIFICATE OF
CANDIDACY: which requires the declarant/affiant to state, among

CONSTI 2 84
Citizenship
others, under oath, that he is a Filipino (No. 6), No.
9- residence requirement which he lost when [he was]
naturalized as an American Citizen on December 2, 2000 at [sic]
Honolulu, Hawaii, knowingly and
willfully affirmed and reiterated that he possesses the
above basic requirements under No. 12 that he is indeed
eligible for the office to which he seeks to be elected, when in
truth and in fact, the contrary is indubitably established by his
own statements before the Philippine Bureau of Immigration x x
x.4 (Emphases in the original)
Tambunting, on the other hand, maintained that he did not make
any misrepresentation in his certificates of candidacy. To refute
Cordoras claim that Tambunting is not a natural-born Filipino,
Tambunting presented a copy of his birth certificate which showed
that he was born of a Filipino mother and an American father.
Tambunting further denied that he was naturalized as an
American citizen. The certificate of citizenship conferred by the
US government after Tambuntings father petitioned him through
INS Form I-130 (Petition for Relative) merely confirmed
Tambuntings citizenship which he acquired at birth. Tambuntings
possession of an American passport did not mean that
Tambunting is not a Filipino citizen. Tambunting also took an oath
of allegiance on 18 November 2003 pursuant to Republic Act No.
9225 (R.A. No. 9225), or the Citizenship Retention and
Reacquisition Act of 2003.
Tambunting further stated that he has resided in the Philippines
since birth. Tambunting has imbibed the Filipino culture, has
spoken the Filipino language, and has been educated in Filipino
schools. Tambunting maintained that proof of his loyalty and
devotion to the Philippines was shown by his service as councilor
of Paraaque.

To refute Cordoras claim that the number of years of residency


stated in Tambuntings certificates of candidacy is false because
Tambunting lost his residency because of his naturalization as an
American citizen, Tambunting contended that the residency
requirement is not the same as citizenship.
The Ruling of the COMELEC Law Department
The COMELEC Law Department recommended the dismissal of
Cordoras complaint against Tambunting because Cordora failed
to substantiate his charges against Tambunting. Cordoras
reliance on the certification of the Bureau of Immigration that
Tambunting traveled on an American passport is not sufficient to
prove that Tambunting is an American citizen.
The Ruling of the COMELEC En Banc
The COMELEC En Banc affirmed the findings and the resolution
of the COMELEC Law Department. The COMELEC En Banc was
convinced that Cordora failed to support his accusation against
Tambunting by sufficient and convincing evidence.
The dispositive portion of the COMELEC En Bancs Resolution
reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant complaint is
hereby DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence to establish
probable cause.
SO ORDERED.5
Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento (Commissioner Sarmiento)
wrote a separate opinion which concurred with the findings of

CONSTI 2 85
Citizenship
the En Banc Resolution. Commissioner Sarmiento pointed out
that Tambunting could be considered a dual citizen. Moreover,
Tambunting effectively renounced his American citizenship when
he filed his certificates of candidacy in 2001 and 2004 and ran for
public office.
Cordora filed a motion for reconsideration which raised the same
grounds and the same arguments in his complaint. In its
Resolution promulgated on 20 February 2007, the COMELEC En
Banc dismissed Cordoras motion for reconsideration for lack of
merit.
The Issue
Cordora submits that the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it
declared that there is no sufficient evidence to support probable
cause that may warrant the prosecution of Tambunting for an
election offense.
Cordoras petition is not an action to disqualify Tambunting
because of Tambuntings failure to meet citizenship and residency
requirements. Neither is the present petition an action to declare
Tambunting a non-Filipino and a non-resident. The present
petition seeks to prosecute Tambunting for knowingly making
untruthful statements in his certificates of candidacy.
The Ruling of the Court
The petition has no merit. We affirm the ruling of the
COMELEC En Banc.

Whether there is Probable Cause to Hold Tambunting for


Trial for Having Committed an Election Offense
There was no grave abuse of discretion in the COMELEC En
Bancs ruling that there is no sufficient and convincing evidence
to support a finding of probable cause to hold Tambunting for trial
for violation of Section 74 in relation to Section 262 of the
Omnibus Election Code.
Probable cause constitutes those facts and circumstances which
would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that
an offense has been committed. Determining probable cause is
an intellectual activity premised on the prior physical presentation
or submission of documentary or testimonial proofs either
confirming, negating or qualifying the allegations in the
complaint.6
Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code reads as follows:
Contents of certificate of candidacy. The certificate of
candidacy shall state that the person filing it is announcing his
candidacy for the office stated therein and that he is eligible for
said office; x x x the political party to which he belongs; civil
status; his date of birth; residence; his post office address for all
election purposes; his profession or occupation; that he will
support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will
maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; that he will obey the
laws, legal orders and decrees promulgated by the duly
constituted authorities; that he is not a permanent resident or
immigrant to a foreign country; that the obligation imposed by his
oath is assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or
purpose of evasion; and that the facts stated in the certificate of
candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge.

CONSTI 2 86
Citizenship
xxx
The person filing a certificate of candidacy shall also affix his
latest photograph, passport size; a statement in duplicate
containing his bio-data and program of government not exceeding
one hundred words, if he so desires.
Section 262 of the Omnibus Election Code, on the other hand,
provides that violation of Section 74, among other sections in the
Code, shall constitute an election offense.
Tambuntings Dual Citizenship
Tambunting does not deny that he is born of a Filipino mother and
an American father. Neither does he deny that he underwent the
process involved in INS Form I-130 (Petition for Relative)
because of his fathers citizenship. Tambunting claims that
because of his parents differing citizenships, he is both Filipino
and American by birth. Cordora, on the other hand, insists that
Tambunting is a naturalized American citizen.
We agree with Commissioner Sarmientos observation that
Tambunting possesses dual citizenship. Because of the
circumstances of his birth, it was no longer necessary for
Tambunting to undergo the naturalization process to acquire
American citizenship. The process involved in INS Form I-130
only served to confirm the American citizenship which Tambunting
acquired at birth. The certification from the Bureau of Immigration
which Cordora presented contained two trips where Tambunting
claimed that he is an American. However, the same certification
showed nine other trips where Tambunting claimed that he is
Filipino. Clearly, Tambunting possessed dual citizenship prior to
the filing of his certificate of candidacy before the 2001 elections.

The fact that Tambunting had dual citizenship did not disqualify
him from running for public office.7
Requirements for dual citizens from birth who desire to run
for public office
We deem it necessary to reiterate our previous ruling in Mercado
v. Manzano, wherein we ruled that dual citizenship is not a
ground for disqualification from running for any elective local
position.
To begin with, dual citizenship is different from dual allegiance.
The former arises when, as a result of the concurrent application
of the different laws of two or more states, a person is
simultaneously considered a national by the said states. For
instance, such a situation may arise when a person whose
parents are citizens of a state which adheres to the principle
of jus sanguinis is born in a state which follows the doctrine of jus
soli. Such a person, ipso facto and without any voluntary act on
his part, is concurrently considered a citizen of both states.
Considering the citizenship clause (Art. IV) of our Constitution, it
is possible for the following classes of citizens of the Philippines
to possess dual citizenship:
(1) Those born of Filipino fathers and/or mothers in
foreign countries which follow the principle of jus soli;
(2) Those born in the Philippines of Filipino mothers and
alien fathers if by the laws of their fathers country such
children are citizens of that country;
(3) Those who marry aliens if by the laws of the latters
country the former are considered citizens, unless by their

CONSTI 2 87
Citizenship
act or omission they are deemed to have renounced
Philippine citizenship.
There may be other situations in which a citizen of the Philippines
may, without performing any act, be also a citizen of another
state; but the above cases are clearly possible given the
constitutional provisions on citizenship.
Dual allegiance, on the other hand, refers to the situation in which
a person simultaneously owes, by some positive act, loyalty to
two or more states. While dual citizenship is involuntary, dual
allegiance is the result of an individuals volition.
xxx
[I]n including 5 in Article IV on citizenship, the concern of the
Constitutional Commission was not with dual citizens per se but
with naturalized citizens who maintain their allegiance to their
countries of origin even after their naturalization. Hence, the
phrase "dual citizenship" in R.A. No. 7160, 40(d) and in R.A. No.
7854, 20 must be understood as referring to "dual allegiance."
Consequently, persons with mere dual citizenship do not fall
under this disqualification. Unlike those with dual allegiance,
who must, therefore, be subject to strict process with
respect to the termination of their status, for candidates with
dual citizenship, it should suffice if, upon the filing of their
certificates of candidacy, they elect Philippine citizenship to
terminate their status as persons with dual citizenship
considering that their condition is the unavoidable
consequence of conflicting laws of different states. As
Joaquin G. Bernas, one of the most perceptive members of the
Constitutional Commission, pointed out: "[D]ual citizenship is just
a reality imposed on us because we have no control of the laws

on citizenship of other countries. We recognize a child of a


Filipino mother. But whether or not she is considered a citizen of
another country is something completely beyond our control."
By electing Philippine citizenship, such candidates at the same
time forswear allegiance to the other country of which they are
also citizens and thereby terminate their status as dual citizens. It
may be that, from the point of view of the foreign state and of its
laws, such an individual has not effectively renounced his foreign
citizenship. That is of no moment as the following discussion on
40(d) between Senators Enrile and Pimentel clearly shows:
SENATOR ENRILE. Mr. President, I would like to ask clarification
of line 41, page 17: "Any person with dual citizenship" is
disqualified to run for any elective local position. Under the
present Constitution, Mr. President, someone whose mother is a
citizen of the Philippines but his father is a foreigner is a naturalborn citizen of the Republic. There is no requirement that such a
natural-born citizen, upon reaching the age of majority, must elect
or give up Philippine citizenship.
On the assumption that this person would carry two passports,
one belonging to the country of his or her father and one
belonging to the Republic of the Philippines, may such a situation
disqualify the person to run for a local government position?
SENATOR PIMENTEL. To my mind, Mr. President, it only means
that at the moment when he would want to run for public office,
he has to repudiate one of his citizenships.
SENATOR ENRILE. Suppose he carries only a Philippine
passport but the country of origin or the country of the father

CONSTI 2 88
Citizenship
claims that person, nevertheless, as a citizen,? No one can
renounce. There are such countries in the world.
1avvphi1

SENATOR PIMENTEL. Well, the very fact that he is running for


public office would, in effect, be an election for him of his desire to
be considered a Filipino citizen.
SENATOR ENRILE. But, precisely, Mr. President, the Constitution
does not require an election. Under the Constitution, a person
whose mother is a citizen of the Philippines is, at birth, a citizen
without any overt act to claim the citizenship.
SENATOR PIMENTEL. Yes. What we are saying, Mr. President,
is: Under the Gentlemans example, if he does not renounce his
other citizenship, then he is opening himself to question. So, if he
is really interested to run, the first thing he should do is to say in
the Certificate of Candidacy that: "I am a Filipino citizen, and I
have only one citizenship."
SENATOR ENRILE. But we are talking from the viewpoint of
Philippine law, Mr. President. He will always have one citizenship,
and that is the citizenship invested upon him or her in the
Constitution of the Republic.
SENATOR PIMENTEL. That is true, Mr. President. But if he
exercises acts that will prove that he also acknowledges other
citizenships, then he will probably fall under this
disqualification.8 (Emphasis supplied)
We have to consider the present case in consonance with our
rulings in Mercado v. Manzano,9 Valles v.
COMELEC,10 and AASJS v.
Datumanong.11 Mercado and Valles involve similar operative facts

as the present case. Manzano and Valles, like Tambunting,


possessed dual citizenship by the circumstances of their birth.
Manzano was born to Filipino parents in the United States which
follows the doctrine of jus soli. Valles was born to an Australian
mother and a Filipino father in Australia. Our rulings
in Manzano and Valles stated that dual citizenship is different
from dual allegiance both by cause and, for those desiring to run
for public office, by effect. Dual citizenship is involuntary and
arises when, as a result of the concurrent application of the
different laws of two or more states, a person is simultaneously
considered a national by the said states. Thus, like any other
natural-born Filipino, it is enough for a person with dual
citizenship who seeks public office to file his certificate of
candidacy and swear to the oath of allegiance contained therein.
Dual allegiance, on the other hand, is brought about by the
individuals active participation in the naturalization
process. AASJS states that, under R.A. No. 9225, a Filipino who
becomes a naturalized citizen of another country is allowed to
retain his Filipino citizenship by swearing to the supreme authority
of the Republic of the Philippines. The act of taking an oath of
allegiance is an implicit renunciation of a naturalized citizens
foreign citizenship.
R.A. No. 9225, or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act
of 2003, was enacted years after the promulgation
of Manzano and Valles. The oath found in Section 3 of R.A. No.
9225 reads as follows:
I __________ , solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and
defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and
obey the laws and legal orders promulgated by the duly
constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby declare
that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the

CONSTI 2 89
Citizenship
Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; and
that I impose this obligation upon myself voluntarily without
mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

election laws, includes the twin elements of the fact of residing in


a fixed place and the intention to return there permanently,16 and
is not dependent upon citizenship.

In Sections 2 and 3 of R.A. No. 9225, the framers were not


concerned with dual citizenship per se, but with the status of
naturalized citizens who maintain their allegiance to their
countries of origin even after their naturalization.12 Section 5(3) of
R.A. No. 9225 states that naturalized citizens who reacquire
Filipino citizenship and desire to run for elective public office in
the Philippines shall "meet the qualifications for holding such
public office as required by the Constitution and existing laws
and, at the time of filing the certificate of candidacy, make a
personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship
before any public officer authorized to administer an oath" aside
from the oath of allegiance prescribed in Section 3 of R.A. No.
9225. The twin requirements of swearing to an Oath of Allegiance
and executing a Renunciation of Foreign Citizenship served as
the bases for our recent rulings in Jacot v. Dal and
COMELEC,13 Velasco v. COMELEC,14 and Japzon v.
COMELEC,15 all of which involve natural-born Filipinos who later
became naturalized citizens of another country and thereafter ran
for elective office in the Philippines. In the present case,
Tambunting, a natural-born Filipino, did not subsequently become
a naturalized citizen of another country. Hence, the twin
requirements in R.A. No. 9225 do not apply to him.

In view of the above, we hold that Cordora failed to establish that


Tambunting indeed willfully made false entries in his certificates of
candidacy. On the contrary, Tambunting sufficiently proved his
innocence of the charge filed against him. Tambunting is eligible
for the office which he sought to be elected and fulfilled the
citizenship and residency requirements prescribed by law.

Tambuntings residency
Cordora concluded that Tambunting failed to meet the residency
requirement because of Tambuntings naturalization as an
American. Cordoras reasoning fails because Tambunting is not a
naturalized American. Moreover, residency, for the purpose of

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition. We AFFIRM the


Resolutions of the Commission on Elections En Banc dated 18
August 2006 and 20 February 2007 in EO Case No. 05-17.
SO ORDERED.

CONSTI 2 90
Citizenship
G.R. No. 199113
RENATO M. DAVID, Petitioner,
vs.
EDITHA A. AGBAY and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 seeking to reverse the
Order dated October 8, 2011 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, which denied the petition for
certiorari filed by Renato(petitioner)M. David. Petitioner assailed
the Order dated March 22, 2011 of the Municipal Trial Court
(MTC) of Socorro, Oriental Mindoro denying his motion for
redetermination of probable cause.
1

The factual antecedents:


In 1974, petitioner migrated to Canada where he became a
Canadian citizen by naturalization. Upon their retirement,
petitioner and his wife returned to the Philippines. Sometime in
2000, they purchased a 600-square meter lot along the beach in
Tambong, Gloria, Oriental Mindoro where they constructed a
residential house. However, in the year 2004, they came to know
that the portion where they built their house is public land and
part of the salvage zone.
THIRD DIVISION

On April 12, 2007, petitioner filed a Miscellaneous Lease


Application (MLA) over the subject land with the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at the Community
3

March 18, 2015

CONSTI 2 91
Citizenship
Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Socorro.
In the said application, petitioner indicated that he is a Filipino
citizen.

On June 3, 2008, the CENRO issued an order rejecting


petitioners MLA. It ruled that petitioners subsequent reacquisition of Philippine citizenship did not cure the defect in his
MLA which was void ab initio.
8

Private respondent Editha A. Agbay opposed the application on


the ground that petitioner, a Canadian citizen, is disqualified to
own land. She also filed a criminal complaint for falsification of
public documents under Article 172 of the Revised Penal
Code (RPC) (I.S. No. 08-6463) against the petitioner.
Meanwhile, petitioner re-acquired his Filipino citizenship under
the provisions of Republic Act No. 9225, (R.A. 9225) as
evidenced by Identification Certificate No. 266-10-07 issued by
the Consulate General of the Philippines (Toronto) on October 11,
2007.
4

In his defense, petitioner averred that at the time he filed his


application, he had intended to re-acquire Philippine citizenship
and that he had been assured by a CENRO officer that he could
declare himself as a Filipino. He further alleged that he bought
the property from the Agbays who misrepresented to him that the
subject property was titled land and they have the right and
authority to convey the same. The dispute had in fact led to the
institution of civil and criminal suits between him and private
respondents family.
On January 8, 2008, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor
issued its Resolution finding probable cause to indict petitioner
for violation of Article 172 of the RPC and recommending the
filing of the corresponding information in court. Petitioner
challenged the said resolution in a petition for review he filed
before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
6

In the meantime, on July 26, 2010, the petition for review filed by
petitioner was denied by the DOJ which held that the presence of
the elements of the crime of falsification of public document
suffices to warrant indictment of the petitioner notwithstanding the
absence of any proof that he gained or intended to injure a third
person in committing the act of falsification. Consequently, an
information for Falsification of Public Document was filed before
the MTC (Criminal Case No. 2012) and a warrant of arrest was
issued against the petitioner.
9

On February 11, 2011, after the filing of the Information and


before his arrest, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion for ReDetermination of Probable Cause in the MTC. Interpreting the
provisions of the law relied upon by petitioner, the said court
denied the motion, holding that R.A. 9225 makes a distinction
between those who became foreign citizens during its effectivity,
and those who lost their Philippine citizenship before its
enactment when the governing law was Commonwealth Act No.
63 (CA 63). Since the crime for which petitioner was charged
was alleged and admitted to have been committed on April 12,
2007 before he had re- acquired his Philippine citizenship, the
MTC concluded that petitioner was at that time still a Canadian
citizen. Thus, the MTC ordered:
10

11

WHEREFORE, for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the


accused, and for lack of merit, the motion is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.

12

CONSTI 2 92
Citizenship
In his motion for reconsideration, petitioner questioned the
foregoing order denying him relief on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction and insisted that the issue raised is purely legal. He
argued that since his application had yet to receive final
evaluation and action by the DENR Region IV-B office in Manila,
it is academic to ask the citizenship of the applicant (petitioner)
who had re-acquired Philippine citizenship six months after he
applied for lease of public land. The MTC denied the motion for
reconsideration.
13

14

Dissatisfied, petitioner elevated the case to the RTC via a


petition for certiorari under Rule 65, alleging grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the MTC. He asserted that first,
jurisdiction over the person of an accused cannot be a precondition for the re-determination of probable cause by the court
that issues a warrant of arrest; and second, the March 22, 2011
Order disregarded the legal fiction that once a natural-born
Filipino citizen who had been naturalized in another country reacquires his citizenship under R.A. 9225, his Filipino citizenship is
thus deemed not to have been lost on account of said
naturalization.
15

In his Comment and Opposition, the prosecutor emphasized that


the act of falsification was already consummated as petitioner has
not yet re-acquired his Philippine citizenship, and his subsequent
oath to re-acquire Philippine citizenship will only affect his
citizenship status and not his criminal act which was long
consummated prior to said oath of allegiance.
16

On October 8, 2011, the RTC issued the assailed Order denying


the petition for certiorari after finding no grave abuse of discretion
committed by the lower court, thus:

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby DENIED. At any rate


petitioner is not left without any remedy or recourse because he
can proceed to trial where he can make use of his claim to be a
Filipino citizen as his defense to be adjudicated in a full blown
trial, and in case of conviction, to appeal such conviction.
SO ORDERED.

17

Petitioner is now before us arguing that


A. By supporting the prosecution of the petitioner for
falsification, the lower court has disregarded the undisputed
fact that petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen, and that
by re-acquiring the same status under R.A. No. 9225 he was
by legal fiction "deemed not to have lost" it at the time of his
naturalization in Canada and through the time when he was
said to have falsely claimed Philippine citizenship.
B. By compelling petitioner to first return from his legal
residence in Canada and to surrender or allow himself to be
arrested under a warrant for his alleged false claim to
Philippine citizenship, the lower court has pre-empted the
right of petitioner through his wife and counsel to question the
validity of the said warrant of arrest against him before the
same is implemented, which is tantamount to a denial of due
process.
18

In his Comment, the Solicitor General contends that petitioners


argument regarding the retroactivity of R.A. 9225 is without
merit. It is contended that this Courts rulings in Frivaldo v.
Commission on Elections and Altarejos v. Commission on
Elections on the retroactivity of ones re- acquisition of Philippine
citizenship to the date of filing his application therefor cannot be
1wphi1

19

20

CONSTI 2 93
Citizenship
applied to the case of herein petitioner. Even assuming for the
sake of argument that such doctrine applies in the present
situation, it will still not work for petitioners cause for the simple
reason that he had not alleged, much less proved, that he had
already applied for reacquisition of Philippine citizenship before
he made the declaration in the Public Land Application that he is
a Filipino. Moreover, it is stressed that in falsification of public
document, it is not necessary that the idea of gain or intent to
injure a third person be present. As to petitioners defense of
good faith, such remains to be a defense which may be properly
raised and proved in a full- blown trial.
On the issue of jurisdiction over the person of accused
(petitioner), the Solicitor General opines that in seeking an
affirmative relief from the MTC when he filed his Urgent Motion
for Re-determination of Probable Cause, petitioner is deemed to
have submitted his person to the said courts jurisdiction by his
voluntary appearance. Nonetheless, the RTC correctly ruled that
the lower court committed no grave abuse of discretion in denying
the petitioners motion after a judicious, thorough and personal
evaluation of the parties arguments contained in their respective
pleadings, and the evidence submitted before the court.
In sum, the Court is asked to resolve whether (1) petitioner may
be indicted for falsification for representing himself as a Filipino in
his Public Land Application despite his subsequent re-acquisition
of Philippine citizenship under the provisions of R.A. 9225; and
(2) the MTC properly denied petitioners motion for redetermination of probable cause on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction over the person of the accused (petitioner).
R.A. 9225, otherwise known as the "Citizenship Retention and
Re- acquisition Act of 2003," was signed into law by President

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on August 29, 2003. Sections 2 and 3 of


said law read:
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy.It is hereby declared the policy of
the State that all Philippine citizens who become citizens of
another country shall be deemed not to have lost their
Philippine citizenship under the conditions of this Act.
SEC. 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship.Any provision of law
to the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the
Philippines who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of
their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby
deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship upon taking
the following oath of allegiance to the Republic:
"I ______________, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support
and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and
obey the laws and legal orders promulgated by the duly
constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby declare
that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the
Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; and
that I impose this obligation upon myself voluntarily without
mental reservation or purpose of evasion."
Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity
of this Act, become citizens of a foreign country shall retain
their Philippine citizenship upon taking the aforesaid
oath. (Emphasis supplied)
While Section 2 declares the general policy that Filipinos who
have become citizens of another country shall be deemed "not to
have lost their Philippine citizenship," such is qualified by the
phrase "under the conditions of this Act." Section 3 lays down

CONSTI 2 94
Citizenship
such conditions for two categories of natural-born Filipinos
referred to in the first and second paragraphs. Under the first
paragraph are those natural-born Filipinos who have lost their
citizenship by naturalization in a foreign country who shall reacquire their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. The second
paragraph covers those natural-born Filipinos who became
foreign citizens after R.A. 9225 took effect, who shall retain their
Philippine citizenship upon taking the same oath. The taking of
oath of allegiance is required for both categories of natural-born
Filipino citizens who became citizens of a foreign country, but the
terminology used is different, "re-acquired" for the first group, and
"retain" for the second group.

became foreign citizens after R.A. 9225 took effect, they shall
retain Philippine citizenship despite having acquired foreign
citizenship provided they took the oath of allegiance under the
new law.
Petitioner insists we should not distinguish between re-acquisition
and retention in R.A. 9225. He asserts that in criminal cases, that
interpretation of the law which favors the accused is preferred
because it is consistent with the constitutional presumption of
innocence, and in this case it becomes more relevant when a
seemingly difficult question of law is expected to have been
understood by the accused, who is a non-lawyer, at the time of
the commission of the alleged offense. He further cites the letterreply dated January 31, 2011 of the Bureau of Immigration (BI)
to his query, stating that his status as a natural-born Filipino will
be governed by Section 2 of R.A. 9225.
22

The law thus makes a distinction between those natural-born


Filipinos who became foreign citizens before and after the
effectivity of R.A. 9225. Although the heading of Section 3 is
"Retention of Philippine Citizenship", the authors of the law
intentionally employed the terms "re-acquire" and "retain" to
describe the legal effect of taking the oath of allegiance to the
Republic of the Philippines. This is also evident from the title of
the law using both re-acquisition and retention.
In fine, for those who were naturalized in a foreign country, they
shall be deemed to have re-acquired their Philippine citizenship
which was lost pursuant to CA 63, under which naturalization in a
foreign country is one of the ways by which Philippine citizenship
may be lost. As its title declares, R.A. 9225 amends CA 63 by
doing away with the provision in the old law which takes away
Philippine citizenship from natural-born Filipinos who become
naturalized citizens of other countries and allowing dual
citizenship, and also provides for the procedure for re-acquiring
and retaining Philippine citizenship. In the case of those who
21

These contentions have no merit.


That the law distinguishes between re-acquisition and retention of
Philippine citizenship was made clear in the discussion of the
Bicameral Conference Committee on the Disagreeing Provisions
of House Bill No. 4720 and Senate Bill No. 2130 held on August
18, 2003, where Senator Franklin Drilon was responding to the
query of Representative Exequiel Javier:
REP. JAVIER. I have some questions in Section 3. Here, under
Section 3 of the Senate version, "Any provision of law on the
contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the Philippines
who, after the effectivity of this Act, shall and so forth, ano, shall
retain their Philippine citizenship.

CONSTI 2 95
Citizenship
Now in the second paragraph, natural-born citizens who have lost
their citizenship by reason of their naturalization after the
effectivity of this Act are deemed to have reacquired

REP. JAVIER. Well, Im just asking this question because we are


here making distinctions between natural-born citizens. Because
this is very important for certain government positions, no,
because natural-born citizens are only qualified for a specific

THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. DRILON). Prior to the effectivity.


THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. DRILON). That is correct.
REP. JAVIER. Well, you have two kinds of natural-born citizens
here. Natural-born citizens who acquired foreign citizenship after
the effectivity of this act are considered to have retained their
citizenship. But natural-born citizens who lost their Filipino
citizenship before the effectivity of this act are considered to have
reacquired. May I know the distinction? Do you mean to say that
natural-born citizens who became, lets say, American citizens
after the effectivity of this act are considered natural-born?
Now in the second paragraph are the natural-born citizens who
lost their citizenship before the effectivity of this act are no longer
natural born citizens because they have just reacquired their
citizenship. I just want to know this distinction, Mr. Chairman.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. DRILON). The title of the Senate version
is precisely retention and reacquisition. The reacquisition will
apply to those who lost their Philippine citizenship by virtue
of Commonwealth Act 63. Upon the effectivity -- assuming that
we can agree on this, upon the effectivity of this new measure
amending Commonwealth Act 63, the Filipinos who lost their
citizenship is deemed to have reacquired their Philippine
citizenship upon the effectivity of the act.
The second aspect is the retention of Philippine citizenship
applying to future instances. So thats the distinction.

REP. JAVIER. ...positions under the Constitution and under the


law.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. DRILON). Yes. We can get to that later
on. Its one of the provisions, yes. But just for purposes of the
explanation, Congressman Javier, that is our conceptualization.
Reacquired for those who previously lost [Filipino
citizenship] by virtue of Commonwealth Act 63, and retention
for those in the future. (Emphasis supplied)
Considering that petitioner was naturalized as a Canadian citizen
prior to the effectivity of R.A. 9225, he belongs to the first
category of natural- born Filipinos under the first paragraph of
Section 3 who lost Philippine citizenship by naturalization in a
foreign country. As the new law allows dual citizenship, he was
able to re-acquire his Philippine citizenship by taking the required
oath of allegiance.
For the purpose of determining the citizenship of petitioner at the
time of filing his MLA, it is not necessary to discuss the rulings
in Frivaldo and Altarejos on the retroactivity of such reacquisition
because R.A. 9225 itself treats those of his category as having
already lost Philippine citizenship, in contradistinction to those
natural-born Filipinos who became foreign citizens after R.A.
9225 came into force. In other words, Section 2 declaring the
policy that considers Filipinos who became foreign citizens as not

CONSTI 2 96
Citizenship
to have lost their Philippine citizenship, should be read together
with Section 3, the second paragraph of which clarifies that such
policy governs all cases after the new laws effectivity.
As to the letter-reply of BI, it simply quoted Section 2 of R.A. 9225
without any reference to Section 3 on the particular application of
reacquisition and retention to Filipinos who became foreign
citizens before and after the effectivity of R.A. 9225.
Petitioners plea to adopt the interpretation most favorable to the
accused is likewise misplaced. Courts adopt an interpretation
more favorable to the accused following the time-honored
principle that penal statutes are construed strictly against the
State and liberally in favor of the accused. R.A. 9225, however,
is not a penal law.
23

Falsification of documents under paragraph 1, Article 172 in


relation to Article 171 of the RPC refers to falsification by a
private individual, or a public officer or employee who did not take
advantage of his official position, of public, private, or commercial
documents. The elements of falsification of documents under
paragraph 1, Article 172 of the RPC are:
24

25

(1)that the offender is a private individual or a public officer or


employee who did not take advantage of his official position;
(2)that he committed any of the acts of falsification
enumerated in Article 171 of the RPC; and
(3)that the falsification was committed in a public, official or
commercial document.

Petitioner made the untruthful statement in the MLA, a public


document, that he is a Filipino citizen at the time of the filing of
said application, when in fact he was then still a Canadian citizen.
Under CA 63, the governing law at the time he was naturalized as
Canadian citizen, naturalization in a foreign country was among
those ways by which a natural-born citizen loses his Philippine
citizenship. While he re-acquired Philippine citizenship under R.A.
9225 six months later, the falsification was already a
consummated act, the said law having no retroactive effect
insofar as his dual citizenship status is concerned. The MTC
therefore did not err in finding probable cause for falsification of
public document under Article 172, paragraph 1.
The MTC further cited lack of jurisdiction over the person of
petitioner accused as ground for denying petitioners motion for
re- determination of probable cause, as the motion was filed prior
to his arrest. However, custody of the law is not required for the
adjudication of reliefs other than an application for
bail. In Miranda v. Tuliao, which involved a motion to quash
warrant of arrest, this Court discussed the distinction between
custody of the law and jurisdiction over the person, and held that
jurisdiction over the person of the accused is deemed waived
when he files any pleading seeking an affirmative relief, except in
cases when he invokes the special jurisdiction of the court by
impugning such jurisdiction over his person. Thus:
27

28

In arguing, on the other hand, that jurisdiction over their person


was already acquired by their filing of the above Urgent Motion,
petitioners invoke our pronouncement, through Justice Florenz D.
Regalado, in Santiago v. Vasquez:

26

The voluntary appearance of the accused, whereby the court


acquires jurisdiction over his person, is accomplished either by

CONSTI 2 97
Citizenship
his pleading to the merits (such as by filing a motion to quash or
other pleadings requiring the exercise of the courts jurisdiction
thereover, appearing for arraignment, entering trial) or by filing
bail. On the matter of bail, since the same is intended to obtain
the provisional liberty of the accused, as a rule the same cannot
be posted before custody of the accused has been acquired by
the judicial authorities either by his arrest or voluntary surrender.
Our pronouncement in Santiago shows a distinction
between custody of the law and jurisdiction over the person.
Custody of the law is required before the court can act upon the
application for bail, but is not required for the adjudication of other
reliefs sought by the defendant where the mere application
therefor constitutes a waiver of the defense of lack of jurisdiction
over the person of the accused. Custody of the law is
accomplished either by arrest or voluntary surrender, while
jurisdiction over the person of the accused is acquired upon his
arrest or voluntary appearance. One can be under the custody of
the law but not yet subject to the jurisdiction of the court over his
person, such as when a person arrested by virtue of a warrant
files a motion before arraignment to quash the warrant. On the
other hand, one can be subject to the jurisdiction of the court over
his person, and yet not be in the custody of the law, such as when
an accused escapes custody after his trial has commenced.
Being in the custody of the law signifies restraint on the person,
who is thereby deprived of his own will and liberty, binding him to
become obedient to the will of the law. Custody of the law is
literally custody over the body of the accused. It includes, but is
not limited to, detention.

While we stand by our above pronouncement in Pico insofar as it


concerns bail, we clarify that, as a general rule, one who seeks
an affirmative relief is deemed to have submitted to the
jurisdiction of the court. As we held in the aforecited case of
Santiago, seeking an affirmative relief in court, whether in
civil or criminal proceedings, constitutes voluntary
appearance.
xxxx
To recapitulate what we have discussed so far, in criminal
cases, jurisdiction over the person of the accused is deemed
waived by the accused when he files any pleading seeking
an affirmative relief, except in cases when he invokes the
special jurisdiction of the court by impugning such
jurisdiction over his person. Therefore, in narrow cases
involving special appearances, an accused can invoke the
processes of the court even though there is neither jurisdiction
over the person nor custody of the law. However, if a person
invoking the special jurisdiction of the court applies for bail, he
must first submit himself to the custody of the law. (Emphasis
supplied)
29

Considering that petitioner sought affirmative relief in filing his


motion for re-determination of probable cause, the MTC clearly
erred in stating that it lacked jurisdiction over his person.
Notwithstanding such erroneous ground stated in the MTC's
order, the RTC correctly ruled that no grave abuse of discretion
was committed by the MTC in denying the said motion for lack of
merit.

xxxx
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Order dated October
8, 2011 of the Regional Trial Court of Pinamalayan, Oriental

CONSTI 2 98
Citizenship
Mindoro in Civil Case No. SCA-07-11 (Criminal Case No. 2012) is
hereby AFFIRMED and UPHELD.
With costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
EN BANC
March 8, 2016
G.R. No. 221697
MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POELLAMANZARES, Petitioners,
vs.
COMELEC AND ESTRELLA C. ELAMPARO Respondents.
x-----------------------x
G.R. No. 221698-700
MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POELLAMANZARES, Petitioners,
vs.
COMELEC, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS
AND AMADO D. VALDEZ Respondents.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:

Before the Court are two consolidated petitions under Rule 64 in


relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with extremely urgent
application for an ex parte issuance of temporary
restraining order/status quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary
injunction assailing the following: (1) 1 December 2015
Resolution of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Second
Division; (2) 23 December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC En
Banc, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC); (3) 11 December 2015 Resolution
of the COMELEC First Division; and ( 4) 23 December 2015
Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc, in SPA No. 15-002 (DC),
SPA No. 15-007 (DC) and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) for having been
issued without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
The Facts
Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares (petitioner) was found
abandoned as a newborn infant in the Parish Church of Jaro,
Iloilo by a certain Edgardo Militar (Edgardo) on 3 September
1968. Parental care and custody over petitioner was passed on
by Edgardo to his relatives, Emiliano Militar (Emiliano) and his
wife. Three days after, 6 September 1968, Emiliano reported and
registered petitioner as a foundling with the Office of the Civil
Registrar of Iloilo City (OCR-Iloilo). In her Foundling Certificate
and Certificate of Live Birth, the petitioner was given the name
"Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar."
1

When petitioner was five (5) years old, celebrity spouses Ronald
Allan Kelley Poe (a.k.a. Fenando Poe, Jr.) and Jesusa Sonora
Poe (a.k.a. Susan Roces) filed a petition for her adoption with the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of San Juan City. On 13 May 1974,
the trial court granted their petition and ordered that petitioner's
name be changed from "Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar"

CONSTI 2 99
Citizenship
to "Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe." Although necessary
notations were made by OCR-Iloilo on petitioner's foundling
certificate reflecting the court decreed adoption, the petitioner's
adoptive mother discovered only sometime in the second half of
2005 that the lawyer who handled petitioner's adoption failed to
secure from the OCR-Iloilo a new Certificate of Live Birth
indicating petitioner's new name and the name of her adoptive
parents. Without delay, petitioner's mother executed an affidavit
attesting to the lawyer's omission which she submitted to the
OCR-Iloilo. On 4 May 2006, OCR-Iloilo issued a new Certificate
of Live Birth in the name of Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe.
2

the U.S., at Sanctuario de San Jose Parish in San Juan


City. Desirous of being with her husband who was then based in
the U.S., the couple flew back to the U.S. two days after the
wedding ceremony or on 29 July 1991.
10

11

While in the U.S., the petitioner gave birth to her eldest child
Brian Daniel (Brian) on 16 April 1992. Her two daughters Hanna
MacKenzie (Hanna) and Jesusa Anika (Anika) were both born in
the Philippines on 10 July 1998 and 5 June 2004, respectively.
12

13

On 18 October 2001, petitioner became a naturalized American


citizen. She obtained U.S. Passport No. 017037793 on 19
December 2001.
14

Having reached the age of eighteen (18) years in 1986, petitioner


registered as a voter with the local COMELEC Office in San Juan
City. On 13 December 1986, she received her COMELEC Voter's
Identification Card for Precinct No. 196 in Greenhills, San Juan,
Metro Manila.
5

On 4 April 1988, petitioner applied for and was issued Philippine


Passport No. F927287 by the Department of Foreign Affairs
(DFA). Subsequently, on 5 April 1993 and 19 May 1998, she
renewed her Philippine passport and respectively secured
Philippine Passport Nos. L881511 and DD156616.

15

On 8 April 2004, the petitioner came back to the Philippines


together with Hanna to support her father's candidacy for
President in the May 2004 elections. It was during this time that
she gave birth to her youngest daughter Anika. She returned to
the U.S. with her two daughters on 8 July 2004.
16

Initially, the petitioner enrolled and pursued a degree in


Development Studies at the University of the Philippines but she
opted to continue her studies abroad and left for the United
States of America (U.S.) in 1988. Petitioner graduated in 1991
from Boston College in Chestnuts Hill, Massachusetts where she
earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies.
8

On 27 July 1991, petitioner married Teodoro Misael Daniel V.


Llamanzares (Llamanzares), a citizen of both the Philippines and

After a few months, specifically on 13 December 2004, petitioner


rushed back to the Philippines upon learning of her father's
deteriorating medical condition. Her father slipped into a coma
and eventually expired. The petitioner stayed in the country until 3
February 2005 to take care of her father's funeral arrangements
as well as to assist in the settlement of his estate.
17

18

According to the petitioner, the untimely demise of her father was


a severe blow to her entire family. In her earnest desire to be with
her grieving mother, the petitioner and her husband decided to
move and reside permanently in the Philippines sometime in the
first quarter of 2005. The couple began preparing for their
resettlement including notification of their children's schools that
19

CONSTI 2 100
Citizenship
they will be transferring to Philippine schools for the next
semester; coordination with property movers for the relocation of
their household goods, furniture and cars from the U.S. to the
Philippines; and inquiry with Philippine authorities as to the
proper procedure to be followed in bringing their pet dog into the
country. As early as 2004, the petitioner already quit her job in
the U.S.
20

on 27 April 2006. Petitioner's husband resigned from his job in


the U.S. in April 2006, arrived in the country on 4 May 2006 and
started working for a major Philippine company in July 2006.
32

33

21

22

23

In early 2006, petitioner and her husband acquired a 509-square


meter lot in Corinthian Hills, Quezon City where they built their
family home and to this day, is where the couple and their
children have been residing. A Transfer Certificate of Title
covering said property was issued in the couple's name by the
Register of Deeds of Quezon City on 1June 2006.
34

35

Finally, petitioner came home to the Philippines on 24 May


2005 and without delay, secured a Tax Identification Number
from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Her three (3) children
immediately followed while her husband was forced to stay in
the U.S. to complete pending projects as well as to arrange the
sale of their family home there.
24

25

26

On 7 July 2006, petitioner took her Oath of Allegiance to the


Republic of the Philippines pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.) No.
9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of
2003. Under the same Act, she filed with the Bureau of
Immigration (BI) a sworn petition to reacquire Philippine
citizenship together with petitions for derivative citizenship on
behalf of her three minor children on 10 July 2006. As can be
gathered from its 18 July 2006 Order, the BI acted favorably on
petitioner's petitions and declared that she is deemed to have
reacquired her Philippine citizenship while her children are
considered as citizens of the Philippines. Consequently, the BI
issued Identification Certificates (ICs) in petitioner's name and in
the names of her three (3) children.
36

The petitioner and her children briefly stayed at her mother's


place until she and her husband purchased a condominium unit
with a parking slot at One Wilson Place Condominium in San
Juan City in the second half of 2005. The corresponding
Condominium Certificates of Title covering the unit and parking
slot were issued by the Register of Deeds of San Juan City to
petitioner and her husband on 20 February 2006. Meanwhile,
her children of school age began attending Philippine private
schools.
27

28

On 14 February 2006, the petitioner made a quick trip to the U.S.


to supervise the disposal of some of the family's remaining
household belongings. She travelled back to the Philippines on
11 March 2006.
29

30

37

38

39

Again, petitioner registered as a voter of Barangay Santa Lucia,


San Juan City on 31 August 2006. She also secured from the
DFA a new Philippine Passport bearing the No.
XX4731999. This passport was renewed on 18 March 2014 and
she was issued Philippine Passport No. EC0588861 by the DFA.
40

41

42

In late March 2006, petitioner's husband officially informed the


U.S. Postal Service of the family's change and abandonment of
their address in the U.S. The family home was eventually sold
31

On 6 October 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed


petitioner as Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and

CONSTI 2 101
Citizenship
Classification Board (MTRCB). Before assuming her post,
petitioner executed an "Affidavit of Renunciation of Allegiance to
the United States of America and Renunciation of American
Citizenship" before a notary public in Pasig City on 20 October
2010, in satisfaction of the legal requisites stated in Section 5 of
R.A. No. 9225. The following day, 21 October 2010 petitioner
submitted the said affidavit to the BI and took her oath of office
as Chairperson of the MTRCB. From then on, petitioner stopped
using her American passport.
43

44

45

46

47

48

On 12 July 2011, the petitioner executed before the Vice Consul


of the U.S. Embassy in Manila an "Oath/Affirmation of
Renunciation of Nationality of the United States." On that day,
she accomplished a sworn questionnaire before the U.S. Vice
Consul wherein she stated that she had taken her oath as
MTRCB Chairperson on 21 October 2010 with the intent, among
others, of relinquishing her American citizenship. In the same
questionnaire, the petitioner stated that she had resided outside
of the U.S., specifically in the Philippines, from 3 September 1968
to 29 July 1991 and from May 2005 to present.
49

50

51

On 9 December 2011, the U.S. Vice Consul issued to petitioner a


"Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States" effective
21 October 2010.
52

On 2 October 2012, the petitioner filed with the COMELEC her


Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for Senator for the 2013 Elections
wherein she answered "6 years and 6 months" to the question
"Period of residence in the Philippines before May 13,
2013." Petitioner obtained the highest number of votes and was
proclaimed Senator on 16 May 2013.
53

54

On 19 December 2013, petitioner obtained Philippine Diplomatic


Passport No. DE0004530.
55

On 15 October 2015, petitioner filed her COC for the Presidency


for the May 2016 Elections. In her COC, the petitioner declared
that she is a natural-born citizen and that her residence in the
Philippines up to the day before 9 May 2016 would be ten (10)
years and eleven (11) months counted from 24 May 2005. The
petitioner attached to her COC an "Affidavit Affirming
Renunciation of U.S.A. Citizenship" subscribed and sworn to
before a notary public in Quezon City on 14 October 2015.
56

57

58

Petitioner's filing of her COC for President in the upcoming


elections triggered the filing of several COMELEC cases against
her which were the subject of these consolidated cases.
Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. No. 221697
A day after petitioner filed her COC for President, Estrella
Elamparo (Elamparo) filed a petition to deny due course or cancel
said COC which was docketed as SPA No. 15-001 (DC) and
raffled to the COMELEC Second Division. She is convinced that
the COMELEC has jurisdiction over her petition. Essentially,
Elamparo's contention is that petitioner committed material
misrepresentation when she stated in her COC that she is a
natural-born Filipino citizen and that she is a resident of the
Philippines for at least ten (10) years and eleven (11) months up
to the day before the 9 May 2016 Elections.
59

60

61

On the issue of citizenship, Elamparo argued that petitioner


cannot be considered as a natural-born Filipino on account of the
fact that she was a foundling. Elamparo claimed that
international law does not confer natural-born status and Filipino
62

CONSTI 2 102
Citizenship
citizenship on foundlings. Following this line of reasoning,
petitioner is not qualified to apply for reacquisition of Filipino
citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 for she is not a natural-born
Filipino citizen to begin with. Even assuming arguendo that
petitioner was a natural-born Filipino, she is deemed to have lost
that status when she became a naturalized American
citizen. According to Elamparo, natural-born citizenship must be
continuous from birth.
63

64

(2) the petition failed to state a cause of action because it


did not contain allegations which, if hypothetically
admitted, would make false the statement in her COC that
she is a natural-born Filipino citizen nor was there any
allegation that there was a willful or deliberate intent to
misrepresent on her part;

65

66

On the matter of petitioner's residency, Elamparo pointed out that


petitioner was bound by the sworn declaration she made in her
2012 COC for Senator wherein she indicated that she had
resided in the country for only six ( 6) years and six ( 6) months
as of May 2013 Elections. Elamparo likewise insisted that
assuming arguendo that petitioner is qualified to regain her
natural-born status under R.A. No. 9225, she still fell short of the
ten-year residency requirement of the Constitution as her
residence could only be counted at the earliest from July 2006,
when she reacquired Philippine citizenship under the said Act.
Also on the assumption that petitioner is qualified to reacquire lost
Philippine Citizenship, Elamparo is of the belief that she failed to
reestablish her domicile in the Philippines.

(3) she did not make any material misrepresentation in


the COC regarding her citizenship and residency
qualifications for:
a. the 1934 Constitutional Convention
deliberations show that foundlings were
considered citizens;
b. foundlings are presumed under international
law to have been born of citizens of the place
where they are found;
c. she reacquired her natural-born Philippine
citizenship under the provisions of R.A. No. 9225;

67

Petitioner seasonably filed her Answer wherein she countered


that:
(1) the COMELEC did not have jurisdiction over
Elamparo's petition as it was actually a petition for quo
warranto which could only be filed if Grace Poe wins in
the Presidential elections, and that the Department of
Justice (DOJ) has primary jurisdiction to revoke the BI's
July 18, 2006 Order;

d. she executed a sworn renunciation of her


American citizenship prior to the filing of her COC
for President in the May 9, 2016 Elections and
that the same is in full force and effect and has
not been withdrawn or recanted;
e. the burden was on Elamparo in proving that
she did not possess natural-born status;

CONSTI 2 103
Citizenship
f. residence is a matter of evidence and that she
reestablished her domicile in the Philippines as
early as May 24, 2005;

May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections filed by respondent


Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe Llamanzares is
hereby CANCELLED.

g. she could reestablish residence even before


she reacquired natural-born citizenship under
R.A. No. 9225;

Motion for Reconsideration of the 1 December 2015 Resolution


was filed by petitioner which the COMELEC En Banc resolved in
its 23 December 2015 Resolution by denying the same.

h. statement regarding the period of residence in


her 2012 COC for Senator was an honest
mistake, not binding and should give way to
evidence on her true date of reacquisition of
domicile;

Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. Nos. 221698-700

i. Elamparo's petition is merely an action to usurp


the sovereign right of the Filipino people to decide
a purely political question, that is, should she
serve as the country's next leader.
68

After the parties submitted their respective Memoranda, the


petition was deemed submitted for resolution.
On 1 December 2015, the COMELEC Second Division
promulgated a Resolution finding that petitioner's COC, filed for
the purpose of running for the President of the Republic of the
Philippines in the 9 May 2016 National and Local Elections,
contained material representations which are false. The fallo of
the aforesaid Resolution reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the
instant Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of
Candidacy is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the Certificate of
Candidacy for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the

69

70

This case stemmed from three (3) separate petitions filed by


Francisco S. Tatad (Tatad), Antonio P. Contreras (Contreras) and
Amado D. Valdez (Valdez) against petitioner before the
COMELEC which were consolidated and raffled to its First
Division.
In his petition to disqualify petitioner under Rule 25 of the
COMELEC Rules of Procedure, docketed as SPA No. 15-002
(DC), Tatad alleged that petitioner lacks the requisite residency
and citizenship to qualify her for the Presidency.
71

72

Tatad theorized that since the Philippines adheres to the principle


of jus sanguinis, persons of unknown parentage, particularly
foundlings, cannot be considered natural-born Filipino citizens
since blood relationship is determinative of natural-born
status. Tatad invoked the rule of statutory construction that what
is not included is excluded. He averred that the fact that
foundlings were not expressly included in the categories of
citizens in the 193 5 Constitution is indicative of the framers'
intent to exclude them. Therefore, the burden lies on petitioner to
prove that she is a natural-born citizen.
73

74

75

CONSTI 2 104
Citizenship
Neither can petitioner seek refuge under international
conventions or treaties to support her claim that foundlings have
a nationality. According to Tatad, international conventions and
treaties are not self-executory and that local legislations are
necessary in order to give effect to treaty obligations assumed by
the Philippines. He also stressed that there is no standard state
practice that automatically confers natural-born status to
foundlings.
76

77

78

least six (6) years and six (6) months prior to the 13 May 2013
Elections operates against her. Valdez rejected petitioner's claim
that she could have validly reestablished her domicile in the
Philippines prior to her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. In
effect, his position was that petitioner did not meet the ten (10)
year residency requirement for President.
Unlike the previous COMELEC cases filed against petitioner,
Contreras' petition, docketed as SPA No. 15-007 (DC), limited
the attack to the residency issue. He claimed that petitioner's
2015 COC for President should be cancelled on the ground that
she did not possess the ten-year period of residency required for
said candidacy and that she made false entry in her COC when
she stated that she is a legal resident of the Philippines for ten
(10) years and eleven (11) months by 9 May 2016. Contreras
contended that the reckoning period for computing petitioner's
residency in the Philippines should be from 18 July 2006, the date
when her petition to reacquire Philippine citizenship was
approved by the BI. He asserted that petitioner's physical
presence in the country before 18 July 2006 could not be valid
evidence of reacquisition of her Philippine domicile since she was
then living here as an American citizen and as such, she was
governed by the Philippine immigration laws.
85

Similar to Elamparo's argument, Tatad claimed that petitioner


cannot avail of the option to reacquire Philippine citizenship under
R.A. No. 9225 because it only applies to former natural-born
citizens and petitioner was not as she was a foundling.
79

Referring to petitioner's COC for Senator, Tatad concluded that


she did not comply with the ten (10) year residency
requirement. Tatad opined that petitioner acquired her domicile
in Quezon City only from the time she renounced her American
citizenship which was sometime in 2010 or 2011. Additionally,
Tatad questioned petitioner's lack of intention to abandon her
U.S. domicile as evinced by the fact that her husband stayed
thereat and her frequent trips to the U.S.
80

81

82

86

87

88

In support of his petition to deny due course or cancel the COC of


petitioner, docketed as SPA No. 15-139 (DC), Valdez alleged that
her repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 did not bestow upon her the
status of a natural-born citizen. He advanced the view that
former natural-born citizens who are repatriated under the said
Act reacquires only their Philippine citizenship and will not revert
to their original status as natural-born citizens.
83

84

He further argued that petitioner's own admission in her COC for


Senator that she had only been a resident of the Philippines for at

In her defense, petitioner raised the following arguments:


First, Tatad's petition should be dismissed outright for failure to
state a cause of action. His petition did not invoke grounds proper
for a disqualification case as enumerated under Sections 12 and
68 of the Omnibus Election Code. Instead, Tatad completely
relied on the alleged lack of residency and natural-born status of
petitioner which are not among the recognized grounds for the
disqualification of a candidate to an elective office.
89

90

CONSTI 2 105
Citizenship
Second, the petitions filed against her are basically petitions
for quo warranto as they focus on establishing her ineligibility for
the Presidency. A petition for quo warranto falls within the
exclusive jurisdiction of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET)
and not the COMELEC.
91

92

Seventh, she insisted that she could legally reestablish her


domicile of choice in the Philippines even before she renounced
her American citizenship as long as the three determinants for a
change of domicile are complied with. She reasoned out that
there was no requirement that renunciation of foreign citizenship
is a prerequisite for the acquisition of a new domicile of choice.
100

101

Third, the burden to prove that she is not a natural-born Filipino


citizen is on the respondents. Otherwise stated, she has a
presumption in her favor that she is a natural-born citizen of this
country.
93

Fourth, customary international law dictates that foundlings are


entitled to a nationality and are presumed to be citizens of the
country where they are found. Consequently, the petitioner is
considered as a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.
94

95

Fifth, she claimed that as a natural-born citizen, she has every


right to be repatriated under R.A. No. 9225 or the right to
reacquire her natural-born status. Moreover, the official acts of
the Philippine Government enjoy the presumption of regularity, to
wit: the issuance of the 18 July 2006 Order of the BI declaring her
as natural-born citizen, her appointment as MTRCB Chair and the
issuance of the decree of adoption of San Juan RTC. She
believed that all these acts reinforced her position that she is a
natural-born citizen of the Philippines.
96

97

98

Sixth, she maintained that as early as the first quarter of 2005,


she started reestablishing her domicile of choice in the
Philippines as demonstrated by her children's resettlement and
schooling in the country, purchase of a condominium unit in San
Juan City and the construction of their family home in Corinthian
Hills.
99

Eighth, she reiterated that the period appearing in the residency


portion of her COC for Senator was a mistake made in good
faith.
102

In a Resolution promulgated on 11 December 2015, the


COMELEC First Division ruled that petitioner is not a natural-born
citizen, that she failed to complete the ten (10) year residency
requirement, and that she committed material misrepresentation
in her COC when she declared therein that she has been a
resident of the Philippines for a period of ten (10) years and
eleven (11) months as of the day of the elections on 9 May 2016.
The COMELEC First Division concluded that she is not qualified
for the elective position of President of the Republic of the
Philippines. The dispositive portion of said Resolution reads:
103

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the


Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES,
to GRANT the Petitions and cancel the Certificate of Candidacy
of MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POELLAMANZARES for the elective position of President of the
Republic of the Philippines in connection with the 9 May 2016
Synchronized Local and National Elections.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration seeking a reversal of
the COMELEC First Division's Resolution. On 23 December

CONSTI 2 106
Citizenship
2015, the COMELEC En Banc issued a Resolution denying
petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
Alarmed by the adverse rulings of the COMELEC, petitioner
instituted the present petitions for certiorari with urgent prayer for
the issuance of an ex parte temporary restraining order/status
quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. On 28
December 2015, temporary restraining orders were issued by the
Court enjoining the COMELEC and its representatives from
implementing the assailed COMELEC Resolutions until further
orders from the Court. The Court also ordered the consolidation
of the two petitions filed by petitioner in its Resolution of 12
January 2016. Thereafter, oral arguments were held in these
cases.
The Court GRANTS the petition of Mary Grace Natividad S. PoeLlamanzares and to ANNUL and SET ASIDE the:
1. Resolution dated 1 December 2015 rendered through
its Second Division, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC),
entitled Estrella C. Elamparo, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace
Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares.
2. Resolution dated 11 December 2015, rendered through
its First Division, in the consolidated cases SPA No. 15002 (DC) entitled Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs. Mary
Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares,
respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC) entitled Antonio P.
Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora
Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No. 15-139 (DC)
entitled Amado D. Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace
Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent.

3. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the


Commission En Banc, upholding the 1 December 2015
Resolution of the Second Division.
4. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the
Commission En Banc, upholding the 11 December 2015
Resolution of the First Division.
The procedure and the conclusions from which the questioned
Resolutions emanated are tainted with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The petitioner is a QUALIFIED
CANDIDATE for President in the 9 May 2016 National Elections.
The issue before the COMELEC is whether or not the COC of
petitioner should be denied due course or cancelled "on the
exclusive ground" that she made in the certificate a false material
representation. The exclusivity of the ground should hedge in the
discretion of the COMELEC and restrain it from going into the
issue of the qualifications of the candidate for the position, if, as in
this case, such issue is yet undecided or undetermined by the
proper authority. The COMELEC cannot itself, in the same
cancellation case, decide the qualification or lack thereof of the
candidate.
We rely, first of all, on the Constitution of our Republic,
particularly its provisions in Article IX, C, Section 2:
Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the
following powers and functions:
(1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations
relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative,
referendum, and recall.

CONSTI 2 107
Citizenship
(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all
contests relating to the elections, returns, and
qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city
officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests
involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts
of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay
officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on
election contests involving elective municipal and
barangay offices shall be final, executory, and not
appealable.
(3) Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all
questions affecting elections, including determination of
the number and location of polling places, appointment of
election officials and inspectors, and registration of voters.
(4) Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law
enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the
Government, including the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free,
orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.

(5) Register, after sufficient publication, political parties,


organizations, or coalitions which, in addition to other
requirements, must present their platform or program of
government; and accredit citizens' arms of the
Commission on Elections. Religious denominations and
sects shall not be registered. Those which seek to
achieve their goals through violence or unlawful means,
or refuse to uphold and adhere to this Constitution, or
which are supported by any foreign government shall
likewise be refused registration.
Financial contributions from foreign governments and
their agencies to political parties, organizations,
coalitions, or candidates related to elections constitute
interference in national affairs, and, when accepted, shall
be an additional ground for the cancellation of their
registration with the Commission, in addition to other
penalties that may be prescribed by law.
(6) File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative,
petitions in court for inclusion or exclusion of voters;
investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of
violations of election laws, including acts or omissions
constituting election frauds, offenses, and malpractices.
(7) Recommend to the Congress effective measures to
minimize election spending, including limitation of places
where propaganda materials shall be posted, and to
prevent and penalize all forms of election frauds,
offenses, malpractices, and nuisance candidacies.
(8) Recommend to the President the removal of any
officer or employee it has deputized, or the imposition of

CONSTI 2 108
Citizenship
any other disciplinary action, for violation or disregard of,
or disobedience to its directive, order, or decision.
(9) Submit to the President and the Congress a
comprehensive report on the conduct of each election,
plebiscite, initiative, referendum, or recall.

The tribunals which have jurisdiction over the question of the


qualifications of the President, the Vice-President, Senators and
the Members of the House of Representatives was made clear by
the Constitution. There is no such provision for candidates for
these positions.
Can the COMELEC be such judge?

Not any one of the enumerated powers approximate the


exactitude of the provisions of Article VI, Section 17 of the same
basic law stating that:

The opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in Romualdez-Marcos


v. Commission on Elections, which was affirmatively cited in
the En Banc decision in Fermin v. COMELEC is our guide. The
citation in Fermin reads:
104

105

The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each


have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge
of all contests relating to the election, returns, and
qualifications of their respective Members. Each Electoral
Tribunal shall be composed of nine Members, three of
whom shall be Justices of the Supreme Court to be
designated by the Chief Justice, and the remaining six
shall be Members of the Senate or the House of
Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be
chosen on the basis of proportional representation from
the political parties and the parties or organizations
registered under the party-list system represented therein.
The senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its
Chairman.
or of the last paragraph of Article VII, Section 4 which provides
that:
The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole
judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and
qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and may
promulgate its rules for the purpose.

Apparently realizing the lack of an authorized proceeding for


declaring the ineligibility of candidates, the COMELEC amended
its rules on February 15, 1993 so as to provide in Rule 25 1, the
following:
Grounds for disqualification. - Any candidate who does
not possess all the qualifications of a candidate as
provided for by the Constitution or by existing law or who
commits any act declared by law to be grounds for
disqualification may be disqualified from continuing as a
candidate.
The lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates,
however, cannot be supplied by a mere rule. Such an act is
equivalent to the creation of a cause of action which is a
substantive matter which the COMELEC, in the exercise of its
rule-making power under Art. IX, A, 6 of the Constitution, cannot
do it. It is noteworthy that the Constitution withholds from the
COMELEC even the power to decide cases involving the right to
vote, which essentially involves an inquiry

CONSTI 2 109
Citizenship
into qualifications based on age, residence and citizenship of
voters. [Art. IX, C, 2(3)]
The assimilation in Rule 25 of the COMELEC rules of grounds for
ineligibility into grounds for disqualification is contrary to the
evident intention of the law. For not only in their grounds but also
in their consequences are proceedings for "disqualification"
different from those for a declaration of "ineligibility."
"Disqualification" proceedings, as already stated, are based on
grounds specified in 12 and 68 of the Omnibus Election Code
and in 40 of the Local Government Code and are for the
purpose of barring an individual from becoming a candidate or
from continuing as a candidate for public office. In a word, their
purpose is to eliminate a candidate from the race either from the
start or during its progress. "Ineligibility," on the other hand, refers
to the lack of the qualifications prescribed in the Constitution or
the statutes for holding public office and the purpose of the
proceedings for declaration of ineligibility is to remove the
incumbent from office.
Consequently, that an individual possesses the qualifications for a
public office does not imply that he is not disqualified from
becoming a candidate or continuing as a candidate for a public
office and vice versa. We have this sort of dichotomy in our
Naturalization Law. (C.A. No. 473) That an alien has the
qualifications prescribed in 2 of the Law does not imply that he
does not suffer from any of [the] disqualifications provided in 4.

Before we get derailed by the distinction as to grounds and the


consequences of the respective proceedings, the importance of
the opinion is in its statement that "the lack of provision for
declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be
supplied by a mere rule". Justice Mendoza lectured
in Romualdez-Marcos that:
Three reasons may be cited to explain the absence of an
authorized proceeding for determining before election the
qualifications of a candidate.
First is the fact that unless a candidate wins and is proclaimed
elected, there is no necessity for determining his eligibility for the
office. In contrast, whether an individual should be disqualified as
a candidate for acts constituting election offenses (e.g., vote
buying, over spending, commission of prohibited acts) is a
prejudicial question which should be determined lest he wins
because of the very acts for which his disqualification is being
sought. That is why it is provided that if the grounds for
disqualification are established, a candidate will not be voted for;
if he has been voted for, the votes in his favor will not be counted;
and if for some reason he has been voted for and he has won,
either he will not be proclaimed or his proclamation will be set
aside.
Second is the fact that the determination of a candidates'
eligibility, e.g., his citizenship or, as in this case, his domicile, may
take a long time to make, extending beyond the beginning of the
term of the office. This is amply demonstrated in the companion
case (G.R. No. 120265, Agapito A. Aquino v. COMELEC) where
the determination of Aquino's residence was still pending in the
COMELEC even after the elections of May 8, 1995. This is
contrary to the summary character proceedings relating to

CONSTI 2 110
Citizenship
certificates of candidacy. That is why the law makes the receipt of
certificates of candidacy a ministerial duty of the COMELEC and
its officers. The law is satisfied if candidates state in their
certificates of candidacy that they are eligible for the position
which they seek to fill, leaving the determination of their
qualifications to be made after the election and only in the event
they are elected. Only in cases involving charges of false
representations made in certificates of candidacy is the
COMELEC given jurisdiction.

Grounds. - Any candidate who, in action or protest in which he is


a party, is declared by final decision of a competent court, guilty
of, or found by the Commission to be suffering from any
disqualification provided by law or the Constitution.

Third is the policy underlying the prohibition against preproclamation cases in elections for President, Vice President,
Senators and members of the House of Representatives. (R.A.
No. 7166, 15) The purpose is to preserve the prerogatives of
the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the other
Tribunals as "sole judges" under the Constitution of the election,
returns and qualifications of members of Congress of the
President and Vice President, as the case may be.

Clearly, the amendment done in 2012 is an acceptance of the


reality of absence of an authorized proceeding for
determining before election the qualifications of candidate. Such
that, as presently required, to disqualify a candidate there must
be a declaration by a final judgment of a competent court that the
candidate sought to be disqualified "is guilty of or found by the
Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by
law or the Constitution."

To be sure, the authoritativeness of


the Romualdez pronouncements as reiterated in Fermin, led to
the amendment through COMELEC Resolution No. 9523, on 25
September 2012 of its Rule 25. This, the 15 February1993
version of Rule 25, which states that:

Insofar as the qualification of a candidate is concerned, Rule 25


and Rule 23 are flipsides of one to the other. Both do not
allow, are not authorizations, are not vestment of jurisdiction, for
the COMELEC to determine the qualification of a candidate. The
facts of qualification must beforehand be established in a prior
proceeding before an authority properly vested with jurisdiction.
The prior determination of qualification may be by statute, by
executive order or by a judgment of a competent court or tribunal.

106

Grounds for disqualification. -Any candidate who does not


possess all the qualifications of a candidate as provided for by the
Constitution or by existing law or who commits any act declared
by law to be grounds for disqualification may be disqualified from
continuing as a candidate.
107

was in the 2012 rendition, drastically changed to:

A Petition to Disqualify a Candidate invoking grounds for a


Petition to Deny to or Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy or
Petition to Declare a Candidate as a Nuisance Candidate, or a
combination thereof, shall be summarily dismissed.

If a candidate cannot be disqualified without a prior finding that he


or she is suffering from a disqualification "provided by law or the
Constitution," neither can the certificate of candidacy be
cancelled or denied due course on grounds of false
representations regarding his or her qualifications, without a prior

CONSTI 2 111
Citizenship
authoritative finding that he or she is not qualified, such prior
authority being the necessary measure by which the falsity of the
representation can be found. The only exception that can be
conceded are self-evident facts of unquestioned or
unquestionable veracity and judicial confessions. Such are,
anyway, bases equivalent to prior decisions against which the
falsity of representation can be determined.
The need for a predicate finding or final pronouncement in a
proceeding under Rule 23 that deals with, as in this case, alleged
false representations regarding the candidate's citizenship and
residence, forced the COMELEC to rule essentially that since
foundlings are not mentioned in the enumeration of citizens
under the 1935 Constitution, they then cannot be citizens. As
the COMELEC stated in oral arguments, when petitioner admitted
that she is a foundling, she said it all. This borders on bigotry.
Oddly, in an effort at tolerance, the COMELEC, after saying that it
cannot rule that herein petitioner possesses blood relationship
with a Filipino citizen when "it is certain that such relationship is
indemonstrable," proceeded to say that "she now has the burden
to present evidence to prove her natural filiation with a Filipino
parent."
108

109

The fact is that petitioner's blood relationship with a Filipino


citizen is DEMONSTRABLE.
At the outset, it must be noted that presumptions regarding
paternity is neither unknown nor unaccepted in Philippine Law.
The Family Code of the Philippines has a whole chapter on
Paternity and Filiation. That said, there is more than sufficient
evider1ce that petitioner has Filipino parents and is therefore a
natural-born Filipino. Parenthetically, the burden of proof was on
private respondents to show that petitioner is not a Filipino
110

citizen. The private respondents should have shown that both of


petitioner's parents were aliens. Her admission that she is a
foundling did not shift the burden to her because such status did
not exclude the possibility that her parents were Filipinos,
especially as in this case where there is a high probability, if not
certainty, that her parents are Filipinos.
The factual issue is not who the parents of petitioner are, as their
identities are unknown, but whether such parents are Filipinos.
Under Section 4, Rule 128:
Sect. 4. Relevancy, collateral matters - Evidence must have such
a relation to the fact in issue as to induce belief in its existence or
no-existence. Evidence on collateral matters shall not be allowed,
except when it tends in any reasonable degree to establish the
probability of improbability of the fact in issue.
The Solicitor General offered official statistics from the Philippine
Statistics Authority (PSA) that from 1965 to 1975, the total
number of foreigners born in the Philippines was 15,986 while the
total number of Filipinos born in the country was 10,558,278. The
statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines in that
decade is natural-born Filipino was 99.83%. For her part,
petitioner presented census statistics for Iloilo Province for 1960
and 1970, also from the PSA. In 1960, there were 962,532
Filipinos and 4,734 foreigners in the province; 99.62% of the
population were Filipinos. In 1970, the figures were 1,162,669
Filipinos and 5,304 foreigners, or 99.55%. Also presented were
figures for the child producing ages (15-49). In 1960, there were
230,528 female Filipinos as against 730 female foreigners
or 99.68%. In the same year, there were 210,349 Filipino males
and 886 male aliens, or 99.58%. In 1970, there were 270,299
Filipino females versus 1, 190 female aliens, or 99.56%. That
111

CONSTI 2 112
Citizenship
same year, there were 245,740 Filipino males as against only
1,165 male aliens or 99.53%. COMELEC did not dispute these
figures. Notably, Commissioner Arthur Lim admitted, during the
oral arguments, that at the time petitioner was found in 1968, the
majority of the population in Iloilo was Filipino.
112

Other circumstantial evidence of the nationality of petitioner's


parents are the fact that she was abandoned as an infant in a
Roman Catholic Church in Iloilo City. She also has typical
Filipino features: height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair,
almond shaped eyes and an oval face.
1wphi1

There is a disputable presumption that things have happened


according to the ordinary course of nature and the ordinary habits
of life. All of the foregoing evidence, that a person with typical
Filipino features is abandoned in Catholic Church in a
municipality where the population of the Philippines is
overwhelmingly Filipinos such that there would be more than a
99% chance that a child born in the province would be a Filipino,
would indicate more than ample probability if not statistical
certainty, that petitioner's parents are Filipinos. That probability
and the evidence on which it is based are admissible under Rule
128, Section 4 of the Revised Rules on Evidence.
113

To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd, if not the virtually


impossible, as the norm. In the words of the Solicitor General:
Second. It is contrary to common sense because foreigners do
not come to the Philippines so they can get pregnant and leave
their newborn babies behind. We do not face a situation where
the probability is such that every foundling would have a 50%
chance of being a Filipino and a 50% chance of being a foreigner.
We need to frame our questions properly. What are the chances

that the parents of anyone born in the Philippines would be


foreigners? Almost zero. What are the chances that the parents of
anyone born in the Philippines would be Filipinos? 99.9%.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, from 2010 to
2014, on a yearly average, there were 1,766,046 children born in
the Philippines to Filipino parents, as opposed to 1,301 children in
the Philippines of foreign parents. Thus, for that sample period,
the ratio of non-Filipino children to natural born Filipino children is
1:1357. This means that the statistical probability that any child
born in the Philippines would be a natural born Filipino is 99.93%.
From 1965 to 1975, the total number of foreigners born in the
Philippines is 15,986 while the total number of Filipinos born in
the Philippines is 15,558,278. For this period, the ratio of nonFilipino children is 1:661. This means that the statistical
probability that any child born in the Philippines on that decade
would be a natural born Filipino is 99.83%.
We can invite statisticians and social anthropologists to crunch
the numbers for us, but I am confident that the statistical
probability that a child born in the Philippines would be a natural
born Filipino will not be affected by whether or not the parents are
known. If at all, the likelihood that a foundling would have a
Filipino parent might even be higher than 99.9%. Filipinos
abandon their children out of poverty or perhaps, shame. We do
not imagine foreigners abandoning their children here in the
Philippines thinking those infants would have better economic
opportunities or believing that this country is a tropical paradise
suitable for raising abandoned children. I certainly doubt whether
a foreign couple has ever considered their child excess baggage
that is best left behind.

CONSTI 2 113
Citizenship
To deny full Filipino citizenship to all foundlings and render them
stateless just because there may be a theoretical chance that one
among the thousands of these foundlings might be the child of
not just one, but two, foreigners is downright discriminatory,
irrational, and unjust. It just doesn't make any sense. Given the
statistical certainty - 99.9% - that any child born in the Philippines
would be a natural born citizen, a decision denying foundlings
such status is effectively a denial of their birthright. There is no
reason why this Honorable Court should use an improbable
hypothetical to sacrifice the fundamental political rights of an
entire class of human beings. Your Honor, constitutional
interpretation and the use of common sense are not separate
disciplines.
As a matter of law, foundlings are as a class, natural-born
citizens. While the 1935 Constitution's enumeration is silent as to
foundlings, there is no restrictive language which would definitely
exclude foundlings either. Because of silence and ambiguity in
the enumeration with respect to foundlings, there is a need to
examine the intent of the framers. In Nitafan v. Commissioner of
Internal Revenue, this Court held that:

As pointed out by petitioner as well as the Solicitor General, the


deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention show that the
framers intended foundlings to be covered by the enumeration.
The following exchange is recorded:
Sr. Rafols: For an amendment. I propose that after subsection 2,
the following is inserted: "The natural children of a foreign father
and a Filipino mother not recognized by the father.
xxxx
President:
[We] would like to request a clarification from the proponent of the
amendment. The gentleman refers to natural children or to any
kind of illegitimate children?
Sr. Rafols:
To all kinds of illegitimate children. It also includes
natural children of unknown parentage, natural or illegitimate
children of unknown parents.

114

The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the


fundamental principle of constitutional construction that
the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the
people adopting it should be given effect. The primary
task in constitutional construction is to ascertain and
thereafter assure the realization of the purpose of the
framers and of the people in the adoption of the
Constitution. It may also be safely assumed that the
people in ratifying the Constitution were guided mainly by
the explanation offered by the framers.
115

Sr. Montinola:
For clarification. The gentleman said "of unknown parents."
Current codes consider them Filipino, that is, I refer to the
Spanish Code wherein all children of unknown parentage born in
Spanish territory are considered Spaniards, because the
presumption is that a child of unknown parentage is the son of a
Spaniard. This may be applied in the Philippines in that a child of
unknown parentage born in the Philippines is deemed to be
Filipino, and there is no need ...

CONSTI 2 114
Citizenship
Sr. Rafols:
There is a need, because we are relating the conditions that are
[required] to be Filipino.

President:
The question in order is the amendment to the amendment from
the Gentleman from Cebu, Mr. Briones.

Sr. Montinola:
But that is the interpretation of the law, therefore, there is no
[more] need for amendment.

Sr. Busion:
Mr. President, don't you think it would be better to leave this
matter in the hands of the Legislature?

Sr. Rafols:
The amendment should read thus:
"Natural or illegitimate of a foreign father and a Filipino mother
recognized by one, or the children of unknown parentage."

Sr. Roxas:
Mr. President, my humble opinion is that these cases are few and
far in between, that the constitution need [not] refer to them. By
international law the principle that children or people born in a
country of unknown parents are citizens in this nation is
recognized, and it is not necessary to include a provision on the
subject exhaustively.

Sr. Briones:
The amendment [should] mean children born in the Philippines of
unknown parentage.
Sr. Rafols:
The son of a Filipina to a Foreigner, although this [person] does
not recognize the child, is not unknown.

116

Though the Rafols amendment was not carried out, it was not
because there was any objection to the notion that persons of
"unknown parentage" are not citizens but only because their
number was not enough to merit specific mention. Such was the
account, cited by petitioner, of delegate and constitution law
author Jose Aruego who said:
117

President:
Does the gentleman accept the amendment or not?
Sr. Rafols:
I do not accept the amendment because the amendment would
exclude the children of a Filipina with a foreigner who does not
recognize the child. Their parentage is not unknown and I think
those of overseas Filipino mother and father [whom the latter]
does not recognize, should also be considered as Filipinos.

During the debates on this provision, Delegate Rafols


presented an amendment to include as Filipino citizens
the illegitimate children with a foreign father of a mother
who was a citizen of the Philippines, and also foundlings;
but this amendment was defeated primarily because the
Convention believed that the cases, being too few to
warrant the inclusion of a provision in the Constitution to
apply to them, should be governed by statutory
legislation. Moreover, it was believed that the rules of
international law were already clear to the effect that

CONSTI 2 115
Citizenship
illegitimate children followed the citizenship of the mother,
and that foundlings followed the nationality of the place
where they were found, thereby making unnecessary the
inclusion in the Constitution of the proposed amendment.
This explanation was likewise the position of the Solicitor General
during the 16 February 2016 Oral Arguments:
We all know that the Rafols proposal was rejected. But note that
what was declined was the proposal for a textual and explicit
recognition of foundlings as Filipinos. And so, the way to explain
the constitutional silence is by saying that it was the view of
Montinola and Roxas which prevailed that there is no more need
to expressly declare foundlings as Filipinos.
Obviously, it doesn't matter whether Montinola's or Roxas' views
were legally correct. Framers of a constitution can
constitutionalize rules based on assumptions that are imperfect or
even wrong. They can even overturn existing rules. This is basic.
What matters here is that Montinola and Roxas were able to
convince their colleagues in the convention that there is no more
need to expressly declare foundlings as Filipinos because they
are already impliedly so recognized.
In other words, the constitutional silence is fully explained in
terms of linguistic efficiency and the avoidance of redundancy.
The policy is clear: it is to recognize foundlings, as a class, as
Filipinos under Art. IV, Section 1 (3) of the 1935 Constitution. This
inclusive policy is carried over into the 1973 and 1987
Constitution. It is appropriate to invoke a famous scholar as he
was paraphrased by Chief Justice Fernando: the constitution is
not silently silent, it is silently vocal.
118

The Solicitor General makes the further point that the framers
"worked to create a just and humane society," that "they were
reasonable patriots and that it would be unfair to impute upon
them a discriminatory intent against foundlings." He exhorts that,
given the grave implications of the argument that foundlings are
not natural-born Filipinos, the Court must search the records of
the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions "for an express intention
to deny foundlings the status of Filipinos. The burden is on those
who wish to use the constitution to discriminate against
foundlings to show that the constitution really intended to take this
path to the dark side and inflict this across the board
marginalization."
We find no such intent or language permitting discrimination
against foundlings. On the contrary, all three Constitutions
guarantee the basic right to equal protection of the laws. All
exhort the State to render social justice. Of special consideration
are several provisions in the present charter: Article II, Section 11
which provides that the "State values the dignity of every human
person and guarantees full respect for human rights," Article XIII,
Section 1 which mandates Congress to "give highest priority to
the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of
all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic, and
political inequalities x x x" and Article XV, Section 3 which
requires the State to defend the "right of children to assistance,
including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all
forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions
prejudicial to their development." Certainly, these provisions
contradict an intent to discriminate against foundlings on account
of their unfortunate status.
Domestic laws on adoption also support the principle that
foundlings are Filipinos. These laws do not provide that adoption

CONSTI 2 116
Citizenship
confers citizenship upon the adoptee. Rather, the adoptee must
be a Filipino in the first place to be adopted. The most basic of
such laws is Article 15 of the Civil Code which provides that
"[l]aws relating to family rights, duties, status, conditions, legal
capacity of persons are binding on citizens of the Philippines
even though living abroad." Adoption deals with status, and a
Philippine adoption court will have jurisdiction only if the adoptee
is a Filipino. In Ellis and Ellis v. Republic, a child left by an
unidentified mother was sought to be adopted by aliens. This
Court said:
119

It has been argued that the process to determine that the child is
a foundling leading to the issuance of a foundling certificate under
these laws and the issuance of said certificate are acts to acquire
or perfect Philippine citizenship which make the foundling a
naturalized Filipino at best. This is erroneous. Under Article IV,
Section 2 "Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire
or perfect their Philippine citizenship." In the first place, "having to
perform an act" means that the act must be personally done by
the citizen. In this instance, the determination of foundling status
is done not by the child but by the authorities. Secondly, the
object of the process is the determination of the whereabouts of
the parents, not the citizenship of the child. Lastly, the process is
certainly not analogous to naturalization proceedings to acquire
Philippine citizenship, or the election of such citizenship by one
born of an alien father and a Filipino mother under the 1935
Constitution, which is an act to perfect it.
121

In this connection, it should be noted that this is a proceedings in


rem, which no court may entertain unless it has jurisdiction, not
only over the subject matter of the case and over the parties, but
also over the res, which is the personal status of Baby Rose as
well as that of petitioners herein. Our Civil Code (Art. 15) adheres
to the theory that jurisdiction over the status of a natural person is
determined by the latter's nationality. Pursuant to this theory, we
have jurisdiction over the status of Baby Rose, she being a citizen
of the Philippines, but not over the status of the petitioners, who
are foreigners. (Underlining supplied)
120

Recent legislation is more direct. R.A. No. 8043 entitled "An Act
Establishing the Rules to Govern the Inter-Country Adoption of
Filipino Children and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as
the "Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995"), R.A. No. 8552, entitled
"An Act Establishing the Rules and Policies on the Adoption of
Filipino Children and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as
the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998) and this Court's A.M. No. 026-02-SC or the "Rule on Adoption," all expressly refer to "Filipino
children" and include foundlings as among Filipino children who
may be adopted.

In this instance, such issue is moot because there is no dispute


that petitioner is a foundling, as evidenced by a Foundling
Certificate issued in her favor. The Decree of Adoption issued
on 13 May 1974, which approved petitioner's adoption by Jesusa
Sonora Poe and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, expressly refers to
Emiliano and his wife, Rosario Militar, as her "foundling parents,"
hence effectively affirming petitioner's status as a foundling.
122

123

Foundlings are likewise citizens under international law. Under


the 1987 Constitution, an international law can become part of the
sphere of domestic law either by transformation or incorporation.
The transformation method requires that an international law be
transformed into a domestic law through a constitutional
mechanism such as local legislation. On the other hand,
generally accepted principles of international law, by virtue of the
124

CONSTI 2 117
Citizenship
incorporation clause of the Constitution, form part of the laws of
the land even if they do not derive from treaty obligations.
Generally accepted principles of international law include
international custom as evidence of a general practice accepted
as law, and general principles of law recognized by civilized
nations. International customary rules are accepted as binding
as a result from the combination of two elements: the established,
widespread, and consistent practice on the part of States; and a
psychological element known as the opinionjuris sive
necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). Implicit in the latter
element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered
obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it. "General
principles of law recognized by civilized nations" are principles
"established by a process of reasoning" or judicial logic, based on
principles which are "basic to legal systems generally," such as
"general principles of equity, i.e., the general principles of fairness
and justice," and the "general principle against discrimination"
which is embodied in the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention Against
Discrimination in Education, the Convention (No. 111) Concerning
Discrimination in Respect of Employment and
Occupation." These are the same core principles which underlie
the Philippine Constitution itself, as embodied in the due process
and equal protection clauses of the Bill of Rights.
125

126

127

128

129

Universal Declaration of Human Rights ("UDHR") has been


interpreted by this Court as part of the generally accepted
principles of international law and binding on the State. Article
15 thereof states:
130

1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality


nor denied the right to change his nationality.
The Philippines has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights
of the Child (UNCRC). Article 7 of the UNCRC imposes the
following obligations on our country:
Article 7
1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall
have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a
nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared
for by his or her parents.
2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights
in accordance with their national law and their obligations under
the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular
where the child would otherwise be stateless.
In 1986, the country also ratified the 1966 International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 24 thereof provide
for the right of every child "to acquire a nationality:"
Article 24
1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race,
colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property
or birth, the right, to such measures of protection as are required
by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the
State.
2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall
have a name.

CONSTI 2 118
Citizenship
3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.
The common thread of the UDHR, UNCRC and ICCPR is to
obligate the Philippines to grant nationality from birth and ensure
that no child is stateless. This grant of nationality must be at the
time of birth, and it cannot be accomplished by the application of
our present naturalization laws, Commonwealth Act No. 473, as
amended, and R.A. No. 9139, both of which require the applicant
to be at least eighteen (18) years old.
The principles found in two conventions, while yet unratified by
the Philippines, are generally accepted principles of international
law. The first is Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention on
Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws
under which a foundling is presumed to have the "nationality of
the country of birth," to wit:
Article 14
A child whose parents are both unknown shall have
the nationality of the country of birth. If the child's parentage is
established, its nationality shall be determined by the rules
applicable in cases where the parentage is known.
A foundling is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have
been born on the territory of the State in which it was found.
(Underlining supplied)
The second is the principle that a foundling is presumed born of
citizens of the country where he is found, contained in Article 2 of
the 1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of
Statelessness:

Article 2
A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in
the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been
born within the territory of parents possessing the nationality of
that State.
That the Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention
nor to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness
does not mean that their principles are not binding. While the
Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention, it is a
signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article
15(1) ofwhich effectively affirms Article 14 of the 1930 Hague
Convention. Article 2 of the 1961 "United Nations Convention on
the Reduction of Statelessness" merely "gives effect" to Article
15(1) of the UDHR. In Razon v. Tagitis, this Court noted that
the Philippines had not signed or ratified the "International
Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance." Yet, we ruled that the proscription against
enforced disappearances in the said convention was nonetheless
binding as a "generally accepted principle of international
law." Razon v. Tagitis is likewise notable for declaring the ban as
a generally accepted principle of international law although the
convention had been ratified by only sixteen states and had not
even come into force and which needed the ratification of a
minimum of twenty states. Additionally, as petitioner points out,
the Court was content with the practice of international and
regional state organs, regional state practice in Latin America,
and State Practice in the United States.
131

132

133

Another case where the number of ratifying countries was not


determinative is Mijares v. Ranada, where only four countries
had "either ratified or acceded to" the 1966 "Convention on the
134

135

CONSTI 2 119
Citizenship
Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and
Commercial Matters" when the case was decided in 2005. The
Court also pointed out that that nine member countries of the
European Common Market had acceded to the Judgments
Convention. The Court also cited U.S. laws and jurisprudence on
recognition of foreign judgments. In all, only the practices of
fourteen countries were considered and yet, there was
pronouncement that recognition of foreign judgments was
widespread practice.
Our approach in Razon and Mijares effectively takes into account
the fact that "generally accepted principles of international law"
are based not only on international custom, but also on "general
principles of law recognized by civilized nations," as the phrase is
understood in Article 38.1 paragraph (c) of the ICJ Statute.
Justice, fairness, equity and the policy against discrimination,
which are fundamental principles underlying the Bill of Rights and
which are "basic to legal systems generally," support the notion
that the right against enforced disappearances and the
recognition of foreign judgments, were correctly considered as
"generally accepted principles of international law" under the
incorporation clause.
136

Petitioner's evidence shows that at least sixty countries in Asia,


North and South America, and Europe have passed legislation
recognizing foundlings as its citizen. Forty-two (42) of those
countries follow the jus sanguinis regime. Of the sixty, only thirtythree (33) are parties to the 1961 Convention on Statelessness;
twenty-six (26) are not signatories to the Convention. Also, the
Chief Justice, at the 2 February 2016 Oral Arguments pointed out
that in 166 out of 189 countries surveyed (or 87.83%), foundlings
are recognized as citizens. These circumstances, including the
practice of jus sanguinis countries, show that it is a generally
137

accepted principle of international law to presume foundlings as


having been born of nationals of the country in which the
foundling is found.
Current legislation reveals the adherence of the Philippines to this
generally accepted principle of international law. In particular,
R.A. No. 8552, R.A. No. 8042 and this Court's Rules on Adoption,
expressly refer to "Filipino children." In all of them, foundlings are
among the Filipino children who could be adopted. Likewise, it
has been pointed that the DFA issues passports to foundlings.
Passports are by law, issued only to citizens. This shows that
even the executive department, acting through the DFA,
considers foundlings as Philippine citizens.
Adopting these legal principles from the 1930 Hague Convention
and the 1961 Convention on Statelessness is rational and
reasonable and consistent with the jus sanguinis regime in our
Constitution. The presumption of natural-born citizenship of
foundlings stems from the presumption that their parents are
nationals of the Philippines. As the empirical data provided by the
PSA show, that presumption is at more than 99% and is a virtual
certainty.
In sum, all of the international law conventions and instruments
on the matter of nationality of foundlings were designed to
address the plight of a defenseless class which suffers from a
misfortune not of their own making. We cannot be restrictive as to
their application if we are a country which calls itself civilized and
a member of the community of nations. The Solicitor General's
warning in his opening statement is relevant:
.... the total effect of those documents is to signify to this
Honorable Court that those treaties and conventions were drafted

CONSTI 2 120
Citizenship
because the world community is concerned that the situation of
foundlings renders them legally invisible. It would be tragically
ironic if this Honorable Court ended up using the international
instruments which seek to protect and uplift foundlings a tool to
deny them political status or to accord them second-class
citizenship.

Audit, which cited Tabasa v. Court of Appeals, where we said


that "[t]he repatriation of the former Filipino will allow him to
recover his natural-born citizenship. Parreno v. Commission on
Audit is categorical that "if petitioner reacquires his Filipino
citizenship (under R.A. No. 9225), he will ... recover his naturalborn citizenship."

The COMELEC also ruled that petitioner's repatriation in July


2006 under the provisions of R.A. No. 9225 did not result in the
reacquisition of natural-born citizenship. The COMELEC
reasoned that since the applicant must perform an act, what is
reacquired is not "natural-born" citizenship but only plain
"Philippine citizenship."

The COMELEC construed the phrase "from birth" in the definition


of natural citizens as implying "that natural-born citizenship must
begin at birth and remain uninterrupted and continuous from
birth." R.A. No. 9225 was obviously passed in line with Congress'
sole prerogative to determine how citizenship may be lost or
reacquired. Congress saw it fit to decree that natural-born
citizenship may be reacquired even if it had been once lost. It is
not for the COMELEC to disagree with the Congress'
determination.

138

139

The COMELEC's rule arrogantly disregards consistent


jurisprudence on the matter of repatriation statutes in general and
of R.A. No. 9225 in particular.

142

143

144

Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original


nationality. This means that a naturalized Filipino who lost his
citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized
Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a naturalborn citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be
restored to his former status as a natural-born Filipino.

More importantly, COMELEC's position that natural-born status


must be continuous was already rejected in Bengson III v.
HRET where the phrase "from birth" was clarified to mean at the
time of birth: "A person who at the time of his birth, is a citizen of
a particular country, is a natural-born citizen thereof." Neither is
"repatriation" an act to "acquire or perfect" one's citizenship.
In Bengson III v. HRET, this Court pointed out that there are only
two types of citizens under the 1987 Constitution: natural-born
citizen and naturalized, and that there is no third category for
repatriated citizens:

R.A. No. 9225 is a repatriation statute and has been described as


such in several cases. They include Sobejana-Condon v.
COMELEC where we described it as an
"abbreviated repatriation process that restores one's Filipino
citizenship x x x." Also included is Parreno v. Commission on

It is apparent from the enumeration of who are citizens under the


present Constitution that there are only two classes of citizens:
(1) those who are natural-born and (2) those who are naturalized
in accordance with law. A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino,
ie., did not have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain

In the seminal case of Bengson Ill v. HRET,


explained as follows:

141

140

repatriation was

145

CONSTI 2 121
Citizenship
Philippine citizenship, necessarily is a natural-born Filipino.
Noteworthy is the absence in said enumeration of a separate
category for persons who, after losing Philippine citizenship,
subsequently reacquire it. The reason therefor is clear: as to such
persons, they would either be natural-born or naturalized
depending on the reasons for the loss of their citizenship and the
mode prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition
thereof. As respondent Cruz was not required by law to go
through naturalization proceedings in order to reacquire his
citizenship, he is perforce a natural-born Filipino. As such, he
possessed all the necessary qualifications to be elected as
member of the House of Representatives.
146

The COMELEC cannot reverse a judicial precedent. That is


reserved to this Court. And while we may always revisit a
doctrine, a new rule reversing standing doctrine cannot be
retroactively applied. In Morales v. Court of Appeals and Jejomar
Erwin S. Binay, Jr., where we decreed reversed the condonation
doctrine, we cautioned that it "should be prospective in
application for the reason that judicial decisions applying or
interpreting the laws of the Constitution, until reversed, shall form
part of the legal system of the Philippines." This Court also said
that "while the future may ultimately uncover a doctrine's error, it
should be, as a general rule, recognized as good law prior to its
abandonment. Consequently, the people's reliance thereupon
should be respected."
147

Lastly, it was repeatedly pointed out during the oral arguments


that petitioner committed a falsehood when she put in the spaces
for "born to" in her application for repatriation under R.A. No.
9225 the names of her adoptive parents, and this misled the BI to
presume that she was a natural-born Filipino. It has been
contended that the data required were the names of her biological
parents which are precisely unknown.
This position disregards one important fact - petitioner was legally
adopted. One of the effects of adoption is "to sever all legal ties
between the biological parents and the adoptee, except when the
biological parent is the spouse of the adoptee." Under R.A. No.
8552, petitioner was also entitled to an amended birth certificate
"attesting to the fact that the adoptee is the child of the
adopter(s)" and which certificate "shall not bear any notation that
it is an amended issue." That law also requires that "[a]ll
records, books, and papers relating to the adoption cases in the
files of the court, the Department [of Social Welfare and
Development], or any other agency or institution participating in
the adoption proceedings shall be kept strictly confidential." The
law therefore allows petitioner to state that her adoptive parents
were her birth parents as that was what would be stated in her
birth certificate anyway. And given the policy of strict
confidentiality of adoption records, petitioner was not obligated to
disclose that she was an adoptee.
149

150

151

148

Clearly, to avoid a direct ruling on the qualifications of petitioner,


which it cannot make in the same case for cancellation of COC, it
resorted to opinionatedness which is, moreover, erroneous. The
whole process undertaken by COMELEC is wrapped in grave
abuse of discretion.
On Residence

CONSTI 2 122
Citizenship
The tainted process was repeated in disposing of the issue of
whether or not petitioner committed false material representation
when she stated in her COC that she has before and until 9 May
2016 been a resident of the Philippines for ten (10) years and
eleven (11) months.
Petitioner's claim that she will have been a resident for ten (10)
years and eleven (11) months on the day before the 2016
elections, is true.
The Constitution requires presidential candidates to have ten (10)
years' residence in the Philippines before the day of the elections.
Since the forthcoming elections will be held on 9 May 2016,
petitioner must have been a resident of the Philippines prior to 9
May 2016 for ten (10) years. In answer to the requested
information of "Period of Residence in the Philippines up to the
day before May 09, 2016," she put in "10 years 11 months" which
according to her pleadings in these cases corresponds to a
beginning date of 25 May 2005 when she returned for good from
the U.S.
When petitioner immigrated to the U.S. in 1991, she lost her
original domicile, which is the Philippines. There are three
requisites to acquire a new domicile: 1. Residence or bodily
presence in a new locality; 2. an intention to remain there; and 3.
an intention to abandon the old domicile. To successfully effect
a change of domicile, one must demonstrate an actual removal or
an actual change of domicile; a bona fide intention of abandoning
the former place of residence and establishing a new one and
definite acts which correspond with the purpose. In other words,
there must basically be animus manendi coupled with animus
non revertendi. The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of
choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of
152

residence must be voluntary; and the residence at the place


chosen for the new domicile must be actual.
153

Petitioner presented voluminous evidence showing that she and


her family abandoned their U.S. domicile and relocated to the
Philippines for good. These evidence include petitioner's former
U.S. passport showing her arrival on 24 May 2005 and her return
to the Philippines every time she travelled abroad; e-mail
correspondences starting in March 2005 to September 2006 with
a freight company to arrange for the shipment of their household
items weighing about 28,000 pounds to the Philippines; e-mail
with the Philippine Bureau of Animal Industry inquiring how to
ship their dog to the Philippines; school records of her children
showing enrollment in Philippine schools starting June 2005 and
for succeeding years; tax identification card for petitioner issued
on July 2005; titles for condominium and parking slot issued in
February 2006 and their corresponding tax declarations issued in
April 2006; receipts dated 23 February 2005 from the Salvation
Army in the U.S. acknowledging donation of items from
petitioner's family; March 2006 e-mail to the U.S. Postal Service
confirming request for change of address; final statement from
the First American Title Insurance Company showing sale of their
U.S. home on 27 April 2006; 12 July 2011 filled-up questionnaire
submitted to the U.S. Embassy where petitioner indicated that
she had been a Philippine resident since May 2005; affidavit from
Jesusa Sonora Poe (attesting to the return of petitioner on 24
May 2005 and that she and her family stayed with affiant until the
condominium was purchased); and Affidavit from petitioner's
husband (confirming that the spouses jointly decided to relocate
to the Philippines in 2005 and that he stayed behind in the U.S.
only to finish some work and to sell the family home).

CONSTI 2 123
Citizenship
The foregoing evidence were undisputed and the facts were even
listed by the COMELEC, particularly in its Resolution in the Tatad,
Contreras and Valdez cases.
However, the COMELEC refused to consider that petitioner's
domicile had been timely changed as of 24 May 2005. At the oral
arguments, COMELEC Commissioner Arthur Lim conceded the
presence of the first two requisites, namely, physical presence
and animus manendi, but maintained there was no animus nonrevertendi. The COMELEC disregarded the import of all the
evidence presented by petitioner on the basis of the position that
the earliest date that petitioner could have started residence in
the Philippines was in July 2006 when her application under R.A.
No. 9225 was approved by the BI. In this regard, COMELEC
relied on Coquilla v. COMELEC, Japzon v.
COMELEC and Caballero v. COMELEC. During the oral
arguments, the private respondents also added Reyes v.
COMELEC. Respondents contend that these cases decree that
the stay of an alien former Filipino cannot be counted until he/she
obtains a permanent resident visa or reacquires Philippine
citizenship, a visa-free entry under a balikbayan stamp being
insufficient. Since petitioner was still an American (without any
resident visa) until her reacquisition of citizenship under R.A. No.
9225, her stay from 24 May 2005 to 7 July 2006 cannot be
counted.
154

155

156

157

158

But as the petitioner pointed out, the facts in these four cases are
very different from her situation. In Coquilla v. COMELEC, the
only evidence presented was a community tax certificate secured
by the candidate and his declaration that he would be running in
the elections. Japzon v. COMELEC did not involve a candidate
who wanted to count residence prior to his reacquisition of
Philippine citizenship. With the Court decreeing that residence is
159

160

distinct from citizenship, the issue there was whether the


candidate's acts after reacquisition sufficed to establish
residence. In Caballero v. COMELEC, the candidate admitted
that his place of work was abroad and that he only visited during
his frequent vacations. In Reyes v. COMELEC, the candidate
was found to be an American citizen who had not even
reacquired Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 or had
renounced her U.S. citizenship. She was disqualified on the
citizenship issue. On residence, the only proof she offered was a
seven-month stint as provincial officer. The COMELEC, quoted
with approval by this Court, said that "such fact alone is not
sufficient to prove her one-year residency."
161

162

It is obvious that because of the sparse evidence on residence in


the four cases cited by the respondents, the Court had no choice
but to hold that residence could be counted only from acquisition
of a permanent resident visa or from reacquisition of Philippine
citizenship. In contrast, the evidence of petitioner is overwhelming
and taken together leads to no other conclusion that she decided
to permanently abandon her U.S. residence (selling the house,
taking the children from U.S. schools, getting quotes from the
freight company, notifying the U.S. Post Office of the
abandonment of their address in the U.S., donating excess items
to the Salvation Army, her husband resigning from U.S.
employment right after selling the U.S. house) and permanently
relocate to the Philippines and actually re-established her
residence here on 24 May 2005 (securing T.I.N, enrolling her
children in Philippine schools, buying property here, constructing
a residence here, returning to the Philippines after all trips
abroad, her husband getting employed here). Indeed, coupled
with her eventual application to reacquire Philippine citizenship
and her family's actual continuous stay in the Philippines over the

CONSTI 2 124
Citizenship
years, it is clear that when petitioner returned on 24 May 2005 it
was for good.
In this connection, the COMELEC also took it against petitioner
that she had entered the Philippines visa-free as a balikbayan. A
closer look at R.A. No. 6768 as amended, otherwise known as
the "An Act Instituting a Balikbayan Program," shows that there is
no overriding intent to treat balikbayans as temporary visitors who
must leave after one year. Included in the law is a former Filipino
who has been naturalized abroad and "comes or returns to the
Philippines." The law institutes a balikbayan program "providing
the opportunity to avail of the necessary training to enable
the balikbayan to become economically self-reliant members of
society upon their return to the country" in line with the
government's "reintegration
program." Obviously, balikbayans are not ordinary transients.
163

164

165

Given the law's express policy to facilitate the return of


a balikbayan and help him reintegrate into society, it would be an
unduly harsh conclusion to say in absolute terms that
the balikbayan must leave after one year. That visa-free period is
obviously granted him to allow him to re-establish his life and
reintegrate himself into the community before he attends to the
necessary formal and legal requirements of repatriation. And that
is exactly what petitioner did - she reestablished life here by
enrolling her children and buying property while awaiting the
return of her husband and then applying for repatriation shortly
thereafter.
No case similar to petitioner's, where the former Filipino's
evidence of change in domicile is extensive and overwhelming,
has as yet been decided by the Court. Petitioner's evidence of
residence is unprecedented. There is no judicial precedent that

comes close to the facts of residence of petitioner. There is no


indication in Coquilla v. COMELEC, and the other cases cited by
the respondents that the Court intended to have its rulings there
apply to a situation where the facts are different. Surely, the issue
of residence has been decided particularly on the facts-of-the
case basis.
166

To avoid the logical conclusion pointed out by the evidence of


residence of petitioner, the COMELEC ruled that petitioner's claim
of residence of ten (10) years and eleven (11) months by 9 May
2016 in her 2015 COC was false because she put six ( 6) years
and six ( 6) months as "period of residence before May 13, 2013"
in her 2012 COC for Senator. Thus, according to the COMELEC,
she started being a Philippine resident only in November 2006. In
doing so, the COMELEC automatically assumed as true the
statement in the 2012 COC and the 2015 COC as false.
As explained by petitioner in her verified pleadings, she
misunderstood the date required in the 2013 COC as the period
of residence as of the day she submitted that COC in 2012. She
said that she reckoned residency from April-May 2006 which was
the period when the U.S. house was sold and her husband
returned to the Philippines. In that regard, she was advised by her
lawyers in 2015 that residence could be counted from 25 May
2005.
Petitioner's explanation that she misunderstood the query in 2012
(period of residence before 13 May 2013) as inquiring about
residence as of the time she submitted the COC, is bolstered by
the change which the COMELEC itself introduced in the 2015
COC which is now "period of residence in the Philippines up to
the day before May 09, 2016." The COMELEC would not have

CONSTI 2 125
Citizenship
revised the query if it did not acknowledge that the first version
was vague.
That petitioner could have reckoned residence from a date earlier
than the sale of her U.S. house and the return of her husband is
plausible given the evidence that she had returned a year before.
Such evidence, to repeat, would include her passport and the
school records of her children.
It was grave abuse of discretion for the COMELEC to treat the
2012 COC as a binding and conclusive admission against
petitioner. It could be given in evidence against her, yes, but it
was by no means conclusive. There is precedent after all where a
candidate's mistake as to period of residence made in a
COC was overcome by evidence. In Romualdez-Marcos v.
COMELEC, the candidate mistakenly put seven (7) months as
her period of residence where the required period was a minimum
of one year. We said that "[i]t is the fact of residence, not a
statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive
in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the
constitutions residency qualification requirement." The
COMELEC ought to have looked at the evidence presented and
see if petitioner was telling the truth that she was in the
Philippines from 24 May 2005. Had the COMELEC done its duty,
it would have seen that the 2012 COC and the 2015
COC both correctly stated the pertinent period of residency.
167

The COMELEC, by its own admission, disregarded the evidence


that petitioner actually and physically returned here on 24 May
2005 not because it was false, but only because COMELEC took
the position that domicile could be established only from
petitioner's repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 in July 2006.
However, it does not take away the fact that in reality, petitioner

had returned from the U.S. and was here to stay permanently, on
24 May 2005. When she claimed to have been a resident for ten
(10) years and eleven (11) months, she could do so in good faith.
For another, it could not be said that petitioner was attempting to
hide anything. As already stated, a petition for quo warranto had
been filed against her with the SET as early as August 2015. The
event from which the COMELEC pegged the commencement of
residence, petitioner's repatriation in July 2006 under R.A. No.
9225, was an established fact to repeat, for purposes of her
senatorial candidacy.
Notably, on the statement of residence of six (6) years and six (6)
months in the 2012 COC, petitioner recounted that this was first
brought up in the media on 2 June 2015 by Rep. Tobias Tiangco
of the United Nationalist Alliance. Petitioner appears to have
answered the issue immediately, also in the press. Respondents
have not disputed petitioner's evidence on this point. From that
time therefore when Rep. Tiangco discussed it in the media, the
stated period of residence in the 2012 COC and the
circumstances that surrounded the statement were already
matters of public record and were not hidden.
Petitioner likewise proved that the 2012 COC was also brought
up in the SET petition for quo warranto. Her Verified Answer,
which was filed on 1 September 2015, admitted that she made a
mistake in the 2012 COC when she put in six ( 6) years and six
( 6) months as she misunderstood the question and could have
truthfully indicated a longer period. Her answer in the SET case
was a matter of public record. Therefore, when petitioner
accomplished her COC for President on 15 October 2015, she
could not be said to have been attempting to hide her erroneous

CONSTI 2 126
Citizenship
statement in her 2012 COC for Senator which was expressly
mentioned in her Verified Answer.
The facts now, if not stretched to distortion, do not show or even
hint at an intention to hide the 2012 statement and have it
covered by the 2015 representation. Petitioner, moreover, has on
her side this Court's pronouncement that:
Concededly, a candidate's disqualification to run for public office
does not necessarily constitute material misrepresentation which
is the sole ground for denying due course to, and for the
cancellation of, a COC. Further, as already discussed, the
candidate's misrepresentation in his COC must not only refer to a
material fact (eligibility and qualifications for elective office), but
should evince a deliberate intent to mislead, misinform or hide a
fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. It must
be made with an intention to deceive the electorate as to one's
qualifications to run for public office.
168

In sum, the COMELEC, with the same posture of infallibilism,


virtually ignored a good number of evidenced dates all of which
can evince animus manendi to the Philippines and animus non
revertedi to the United States of America. The veracity of the
events of coming and staying home was as much as dismissed
as inconsequential, the focus having been fixed at the petitioner's
"sworn declaration in her COC for Senator" which the COMELEC
said "amounts to a declaration and therefore an admission that
her residence in the Philippines only commence sometime in
November 2006"; such that "based on this declaration, [petitioner]
fails to meet the residency requirement for President." This
conclusion, as already shown, ignores the standing jurisprudence
that it is the fact of residence, not the statement of the person that
determines residence for purposes of compliance with the

constitutional requirement of residency for election as President.


It ignores the easily researched matter that cases on questions of
residency have been decided favorably for the candidate on the
basis of facts of residence far less in number, weight and
substance than that presented by petitioner. It ignores, above all
else, what we consider as a primary reason why petitioner cannot
be bound by her declaration in her COC for Senator which
declaration was not even considered by the SET as an issue
against her eligibility for Senator. When petitioner made the
declaration in her COC for Senator that she has been a resident
for a period of six (6) years and six (6) months counted up to the
13 May 2013 Elections, she naturally had as reference the
residency requirements for election as Senator which was
satisfied by her declared years of residence. It was uncontested
during the oral arguments before us that at the time the
declaration for Senator was made, petitioner did not have as yet
any intention to vie for the Presidency in 2016 and that the
general public was never made aware by petitioner, by word or
action, that she would run for President in 2016. Presidential
candidacy has a length-of-residence different from that of a
senatorial candidacy. There are facts of residence other than that
which was mentioned in the COC for Senator. Such other facts of
residence have never been proven to be false, and these, to
repeat include:
169

[Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on 24 May 2005.


(petitioner's] husband however stayed in the USA to finish
pending projects and arrange the sale of their family home.
Meanwhile [petitioner] and her children lived with her mother in
San Juan City. [Petitioner] enrolled Brian in Beacon School in
Taguig City in 2005 and Hanna in Assumption College in Makati

CONSTI 2 127
Citizenship
City in 2005. Anika was enrolled in Learning Connection in San
Juan in 2007, when she was already old enough to go to school.
In the second half of 2005, [petitioner] and her husband acquired
Unit 7F of One Wilson Place Condominium in San Juan.
[Petitioner] and her family lived in Unit 7F until the construction of
their family home in Corinthian Hills was completed.
Sometime in the second half of 2005, [petitioner's] mother
discovered that her former lawyer who handled [petitioner's]
adoption in 1974 failed to secure from the Office of the Civil
Registrar of Iloilo a new Certificate of Live Birth indicating
[petitioner's] new name and stating that her parents are "Ronald
Allan K. Poe" and "Jesusa L. Sonora."

In light of all these, it was arbitrary for the COMELEC to satisfy its
intention to let the case fall under the exclusive ground of false
representation, to consider no other date than that mentioned by
petitioner in her COC for Senator.
All put together, in the matter of the citizenship and residence of
petitioner for her candidacy as President of the Republic, the
questioned Resolutions of the COMELEC in Division and En
Banc are, one and all, deadly diseased with grave abuse of
discretion from root to fruits.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions, to wit:

In February 2006, [petitioner] travelled briefly to the US in order to


supervise the disposal of some of the family's remaining
household belongings. [Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on
11 March 2006.

1. dated 1 December 2015 rendered through the COMELEC


Second Division, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC),
entitled Estrella C. Elamparo, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace
Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent, stating that:

1a\^/phi1

In late March 2006, [petitioner's] husband informed the United


States Postal Service of the family's abandonment of their
address in the US.
The family home in the US was sole on 27 April 2006.
In April 2006, [petitioner's] husband resigned from his work in the
US. He returned to the Philippines on 4 May 2006 and began
working for a Philippine company in July 2006.
In early 2006, [petitioner] and her husband acquired a vacant lot
in Corinthian Hills, where they eventually built their family home.

170

[T]he Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Republic of the


Philippines in the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections filed
by respondent Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares is
hereby GRANTED.
2. dated 11 December 2015, rendered through the COMELEC
First Division, in the consolidated cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC)
entitled Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad
Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC)
entitled Antonio P. Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace
Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No.
15-139 (DC) entitled Amado D. Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace
Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; stating that:

CONSTI 2 128
Citizenship
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission
RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to GRANT the petitions
and cancel the Certificate of Candidacy of MARY GRACE
NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES for the elective
position of President of the Republic of the Philippines in
connection with the 9 May 2016 Synchronized Local and National
Elections.
3. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En
Banc, upholding the 1 December 2015 Resolution of the Second
Division stating that:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission
RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to DENY the Verified
Motion for Reconsideration of SENATOR MARY GRACE
NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES. The Resolution

dated 11 December 2015 of the Commission First Division is


AFFIRMED.
4. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En
Banc, upholding the 11 December 2015 Resolution of the First
Division.
are hereby ANNULED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner MARY
GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES
is DECLARED QUALIFIED to be a candidate for President in the
National and Local Elections of 9 May 2016.
SO ORDERED.