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EN BANC

[G.R. No. 221697. April 5, 2016.]

MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND


ESTRELLA C. ELAMPARO, respondents.

[G.R. Nos. 221698-700. April 5, 2016.]

MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,


FRANCISCO S. TATAD, ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS AND AMADO D. VALDEZ, respondents.

NOTICE

Sirs/Mesdames :

Please take notice that the Court en banc issued a Resolution dated APRIL 5, 2016, which reads as follows:

"G.R. No. 221697 (Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares vs. Commission on Elections and Estrella C. Elamparo)
and G.R. Nos. 221698-700 (Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares vs. Commission on Elections, Francisco S. Tatad, Antonio
P. Contreras and Amado D. Valdez). Acting on the following motions for reconsideration (of the Decision dated March 8, 2016),
the Court Resolved, by the same vote of 9-6, to DENY WITH FINALITY the said motions for reconsideration as the basic issues
raised therein have been passed upon by this Court and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the
questioned Decision:
(a) Urgent Plea for Reconsideration dated March 18, 2016 filed by private respondents Estrella C. Elamparo, Antonio
P. Contreras, Amado D. Valdez and counsel for private respondent Francisco S. Tatad;

(b) Motion for Reconsideration (with Urgent Prayer to Apply Section 2, Rule 12 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme
Court) dated March 22, 2016 filed by Commissioner Arthur D. Lim as counsel for the Commission on Elections; and CAIHTE

(c) Motion for Reconsideration dated March 29, 2016 filed by counsel for respondent Amado D. Valdez.

The Court further Resolved to


(a) NOTE the Urgent Manifestation and Submission dated March 21, 2016 filed by private respondents Estrella C.
Elamparo, Francisco S. Tatad, Antonio P. Contreras and Amado D. Valdez, represented by Atty. Estrella C. Elamparo, stating,
with apology, that page 34 of their Urgent Plea for Reconsideration was inadvertently not included; and resubmitting a full copy
of the said Urgent Plea for Reconsideration; and

(b) DENY, for lack of merit, the Motion for Leave of Court and to Admit Request for Judicial Notice dated April 1,
2016 filed by counsel for private respondent Francisco S. Tatad.

No further pleadings or motions will be entertained.

Let entry of judgment be made in due course." Perlas-Bernabe, J., on official leave, but left her vote in this case and
maintained her dissent. (adv85)

Very truly yours,

(SGD.) FELIPA B. ANAMA


Clerk of Court
(Please see attached:

Concurring Opinion of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno

Dissenting Opinion of Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio

Separate Dissenting Opinion of Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro

Dissenting Opinion of Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion

Separate Concurring Opinion of Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta

Separate Concurring Opinion of Associate Justice Jose C. Mendoza

Dissenting Opinion of Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes Concurring Opinion of Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F.
Leonen

Separate Opinions
SERENO, C.J., concurring:

Very rarely are concurring opinions and dissenting opinions attached to a minute resolution. In the instant petitions, the
minute resolution that denies the Motions for Reconsideration accurately reflects the understanding of this Court that the motions
do not raise any new substantial argument, and that all the issues that the motions raise have already been passed upon in the 8
March 2016 Decision. Thus, the denial is final, and no new pleading will be entertained.

Rule 13, Section 6 (d) of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court provides that the denial of a motion for reconsideration
may be made by minute resolution in "the absence of a compelling or cogent reason to grant the motion, or the failure to
raise any substantial argument to support such motion." Rule 2, Section 15 of the same rules allows the resolution of motions
for reconsideration through a minute resolution even when the opinion of the Court is divided. 1 Agoy v. Araneta Center, Inc. 2 has
explained that minute resolutions "constitute actual adjudications on the merits. They are the result of thorough deliberation
among the members of the Court." In these particular petitions, the entire Court has more than thoroughly deliberated on the
issues.

It is helpful to remember the context when the Court issues minute resolutions. Indeed, the results of such deliberations,
even when they are robust and the issues of great import, need not be in the form of full decisions, as Joaquin-Agregado v.
Yamat 3 states:
The Supreme Court is not compelled to adopt a definite and stringent rule on how its judgment shall be framed. It
has long been settled that this Court has the discretion to decide whether a "minute resolution" should be used in lieu
of a full-blown decision in any particular case. A minute resolution dismissing a petition for review on certiorari is an
adjudication on the merits of the controversy, and is as valid and effective as a full-length decision. 4

Nevertheless, due to the strong feelings expressed by some of our dissenting colleagues, the Court decided to delay the
release of the resolution dismissing with finality the Motions for Reconsideration and to await submission of their dissents. Some of
them may believe that a minute resolution will not do justice to the motions, but that is their view, and that view remains a dissenting
view. At the same time, I am constrained to issue this Concurring Opinion to balance what would be expected as vigorous attacks
by the minority against the majority decision.

Had the Decision dated 8 March 2016 been reversed, this Court would have authorized the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) to continue to play politics. The Decision and the concurring opinions were strong indictments of the grave abuse of
discretion that infested the COMELEC's assailed actions "from root to fruits." 5 Theponente characterized the acts of COMELEC as
bordering on bigotry, and similarly strong language was used by the concurring opinions on the unfairness and prejudice displayed
by the COMELEC towards petitioner. This Court thus rightly issued strong words of disapproval of the COMELEC's actions.

The essence of the Motions for Reconsideration and some of the dissents is the complaint that the majority should have,
to a man or woman, decided on the intrinsic qualifications of petitioner to prevent that question from remaining hanging until the
elections. By refusing to make a final decision disqualifying petitioner, one colleague warns that the Decision will lead to an "absurd
result." It might be important to note that implied in such complaint is the premise that there are enough votes to support the
disqualification of petitioner, should she win and a quo warranto petition is brought. At best, such thinking is speculative.

What the respondents and some of the dissenters actually rail against, however, is the Constitution itself. Their main thesis
is that a candidate cannot be allowed to run if there is doubt expressed by a loud minority about her lack of qualifications. One of
the dissenters has even characterized the Court itself as having committed grave abuse of discretion. 6 By their very words, they
have arrogated to themselves a place above the Court. This is brazenly an attempt at tyranny by a noisy part of the minority.
Nothing can be more destructive of the rule of law.

The Constitution in very clear language has instituted post-election remedies to question the qualification of an elected
president, vice-president, senator, or member of the House of Representatives. Because this remedy has been designed by the
Constitution itself, it is not the place of the COMELEC to question the wisdom of the Filipino people who ratified a Constitution that
provides such remedies. This Court has no jurisdiction to render inutile a constitutional provision on the basis of COMELEC's "fear
of instability."

Indeed, regardless of the number of justices who have opined that petitioner is a natural-born Filipino, even if it were a
near unanimity, the post-election remedy ofquo warranto should petitioner indeed win the presidency will be available to
proper parties on proper grounds. It would thus be a complete academic exercise if We were to entertain the Motion for
Reconsideration of the COMELEC on the ground that this Court must avoid the consequences of an adverse quo warranto decision
against petitioner should she win the presidency by settling with permanency the issue of petitioner's citizenship. The Constitution
precisely opens up this possibility, and this contingency, we all must respect.

There were 9 votes as against 6 on 8 March 2016 that nullified the COMELEC's assailed resolutions for having been
issued with grave abuse of discretion. Unless these votes are reversed, petitioner remains a candidate for president; COMELEC
must fully treat her as such and must stop assailing her candidacy. The words of the Decision are clear: "Petitioner . . .
is DECLARED QUALIFIED to be a candidate for President." 7 This fallo of the Decision has been affirmed by the same 9 votes,
while the 6 dissenting votes remain as dissenting votes. CAIHTE

It is thus misplaced for some in the minority to demand that all the members of this Court take a position on the intrinsic
qualifications of petitioner. The 3 justices who opted not to take a position on whether petitioner is a natural-born Filipino were and
continue to be free to do so. In the same manner, those who opted to reveal their positions on the matter were equally free to do
so. 8 At the same time, it is not unimportant that 7 out of the 9 already believe that petitioner possesses the intrinsic qualifications
for the presidency as against a lesser number of the contrary view.

Perhaps it is not foolish to think that the remaining 2 of the 9 had they been convinced in their hearts that petitioner is
not qualified could have easily voted against the petitions, and spared themselves the future dilemma of weighing their position
in a possible quo warranto action. Instead, they opted for the calibrated approach of first exclusively ruling on the issue of grave
abuse of discretion, an approach as proper as that taken by the other 7.

Indeed, the claim made by some that the Court took no position on the citizenship of petitioner is squarely met by Article
VIII, Section 4 (2) of the Constitution 9 and Rule 12, Section 1 10 of the Internal Rules, i.e., that a decision is formed from the
position of the majority of the justices who took part and voted on an issue. Since 12 justices took part and 3 did not on the
matter of the citizenship of petitioner, it can be rightly said that a ruling has been made when a group of 7 emerged from the
deliberations in favor of petitioner. It is offensive to the majority's pride of place that some in the minority are trying to belittle the
Decision by saying that since only 7 and not 8 justices declared that petitioner is a natural-born Filipino, such position produces no
legal effect. The reply to such position is simple: we are 7, you are 5. Seven is a majority in a group of 12. It is time that this reality
be accepted. Whether such majority position will be reversed in a quo warranto petition is a future matter, but the odds against its
happening are quite telling.

Some might say that this defense of the majority position is pre-emption of a future action. But consider what some are
trying to do: nullify a constitutional provision for post-election contests on electoral qualifications, attack the majority Decision to the
point of calling it a mere ponencia, and transform the dissents into rallying cries against the campaign and candidacy of petitioner.
As I had called out earlier, let the Court stay out of politics.

Had this Court agreed to the proposition that a full resolution instead of a minute resolution be issued, its promulgation
would have been delayed by 1 to 2 weeks. The majority believes that the nation's interest is best served if the legal controversy
over the COMELEC's actions of preventing petitioner from running for office in May 2016 is immediately terminated. The candidates
must be allowed to move on; the electorate must no longer be distracted by the skirmishes before this Court. It serves no good
purpose for baseless howls of protest to amplify today's ambient noise. No one is benefited except those who want to "game"
judicial processes for political ends.

The sovereign choice on who will be the next president of the Philippines must be respected by this Court. Only after this
choice has been made may We potentiallystep in. Needless to say, the expression of this electoral choice would necessarily affect
how this Court will decide the issues brought before it. That this is the reality designed by the Constitution itself should have been
by now accepted by all mature lawyers and students of the Constitution. It is an express limitation to this Court's role, that We, its
members, must humbly accept. For the implicit fundamental premise of the Constitution is that while this Court may err on who
should be the rightful leader of this country, the people, on this matter, can never be in error. That is why this Court must not even
indirectly attempt to substitute its will for that of the electorate; it must remain politically neutral, and so should the COMELEC.

This extended opinion has been made necessary to clarify and summarize the views expressed by the majority,
considering that the Court's ruling is by way of a minute resolution. This summary will cross-reference the Decision, the various
opinions, and the Motions for Reconsideration in the discussion. This cross-referencing will demonstrate in part that all the
substantial issues raised by the respondents are not new issues they have been fully deliberated upon and resolved by the
Court.

Why COMELEC 's Jurisdiction Must be Limited

A reversal of the Decision dated 8 March 2016 would result in an unconstitutional amendment of the powers of the
Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal
(HRET). 11 This Court has consistently held that the power to rule on the intrinsic qualifications of candidates belong to courts, not
to the COMELEC. 12 The COMELEC, at most, only has the power to rule on the absence or presence of material misrepresentation
under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. It is important to recall the three overarching reasons proffered by Justice Vicente
V. Mendoza in his Separate Opinion inRomualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC 13 explaining why the powers of COMELEC need to be
limited. His view was adopted by a unanimous Court in Fermin v. COMELEC. 14
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 candidate's 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 of
proceedings relating to 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.

Third is the policy underlying the prohibition against pre-proclamation 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 or of the President and Vice President, as the case may
be.15 DETACa

There is a fourth reason I wish to add on why the powers of the COMELEC must be circumscribed, and one that had been
adverted to by Justice Marvic Leonen: the need to prevent the COMELEC from engaging in politics by eliminating candidates
arbitrarily on the pretext of exercising its powers of administration and enforcement of election laws. The COMELEC cannot be the
judge of who can and cannot run, and at the same time, have the power to administer the elections and proclaim its winners; and in
the case of the president, have the sole power to transmit the results of the election to Congress.

Anent the issue of jurisdiction, respondents repeatedly insist 16 that the COMELEC, in a Section 78 proceeding, has
jurisdiction to declare any candidate ineligible and to cancel his/her certificate of candidacy without the need for a prior
determination coming from a proper authority. 17 Every aspect of this argument has been explored during the oral arguments, and
has been extensively pushed by several of my colleagues in their dissenting opinions. 18 In fact, the COMELEC lifted nine pages
from our colleague's dissenting opinion 19 to reargue that the laws, rules, and jurisprudence (especially those penned by Justice
Jose Perez, the ponente of our Decision) do not limit the jurisdiction in determining the eligibility of a candidate in the course of a
Section 78 proceeding.

It is necessary to point out that the pronouncement in the Decision dated 8 March 2016 that a certificate of candidacy
cannot be cancelled or denied due course without a prior authoritative finding that the candidate is not qualified 20 is not a novel
concoction by this Court. On this score, any claim of judicial legislation on the part of the Court must be set aside. The ruling is but
a restatement of what is clearly set out by the Omnibus Election Code that a Section 78 proceeding is summary in nature and one
that will not delve into the determination of a candidate's qualifications. As clearly pointed out in the Decision, "[t]he only exception
that can be conceded are self-evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity and judicial confessions." 21

The power of the COMELEC to cancel or deny due course to a certificate of candidacy in a Section 78 proceeding was
granted to it by the legislature on the single ground of false material representation. It is the fear of partisanship on the part of the
COMELEC that made our lawmakers empower it to reject certificates of candidacy only for the strongest of reasons, i.e., material
misrepresentation on the face of the certificate of candidacy. 22 Any more than this would open the door for the COMELEC to
engage in partisanship and target any candidate at will. The clear intent was to make the denial of due course or cancellation of a
certificate of candidacy before the COMELEC a summary proceeding that would not go into the intrinsic validity of the qualifications
of the candidate, in a sense, even to the point of making the power merely ministerial in the absence of patent defects.

The implication is that Section 78 cases contemplate simple issues only. Any issue that is complex would entail the use of
discretion, which is reserved to the appropriate election tribunal.

Contrary to the claim that the recent pronouncement by the Court would wreak havoc on jurisprudence 23 recognizing
COMELEC's jurisdiction to determine a candidate's eligibility in the course of deciding a Section 78 proceeding before it, a study of
the cases cited would easily demonstrate the consistency of the Decision with prevailing jurisprudence.

Tagolino v. HRET 24 stemmed from a quo warranto petition before the HRET, not a Section 78 petition before COMELEC.
The main issue in the case was the propriety of Richard Gomez's substitution by Lucy Gomez, considering that his certificate of
candidacy had been denied due course and/or cancelled under Section 78. Thus, he could not be substituted because he was not
considered a candidate at all. In the case, the Court never made a pronouncement that the COMELEC had jurisdiction to look into
the intrinsic validity of Richard's qualifications, mainly because the finding that he lacked the one-year residency requirement was
no longer contested by him after the COMELEC En Banc affirmed the ruling of the COMELEC First Division in this regard. The
Court made clear, however, that the HRET is not bound by previous COMELEC pronouncements relative to the qualifications of the
Members of the House. As the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of its respective
members, the HRET cannot be tied down by COMELEC resolutions, else its constitutional mandate be circumvented and rendered
nugatory. Obviously, this case is not in point on this contested issue.

Talaga v. COMELEC, 25 Jalosjos v. COMELEC 26 and Aratea v. COMELEC 27 actually involve proper examples of the recent
Court pronouncement on the limits of COMELEC's jurisdiction, so they in fact contradict private respondents' position.

In Talaga, the cause of Ramon Talaga's ineligibility was the violation of the three-term limit clearly provided in the
Constitution and statutory law. This may fall under the category of a self-evident fact of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity,
and even a judicial admission especially because Ramon, in his manifestation before the COMELEC First Division, readily admitted
that he was disqualified to run pursuant to the three-term limit rule.

As regards Dominador Jalosjos, his ineligibility was rooted in the fact that he was perpetually disqualified to run for any
elective public office in view of his criminal conviction by final judgment. In fact, the Court enunciated that COMELEC will be grossly
remiss in its constitutional duty to "enforce and administer all laws" relating to the conduct of elections if it does not motu proprio bar
those suffering from perpetual special disqualification by virtue of a final judgment from running for public office. A perpetual special
disqualification to run for public office may properly fall under the category of a self-evident fact of unquestioned or unquestionable
veracity.

Aratea is basically a combination of the disqualifications in Talaga and Jalosjos, because Romeo Lonzanida was found by
the COMELEC to suffer from perpetual special disqualification by virtue of a final judgment, and committed a violation of the three-
term limit rule.

The private respondents in Sobejana-Condon v. COMELEC 28 actually failed to utilize Section 78. What they filed instead
was a petition for quo warranto before the Regional Trial Court, and the COMELEC took cognizance only over the appeal filed by
petitioner therein. Similarly, this case is not in point.

Ugdoracion v. COMELEC 29 involved the indubitable fact that petitioner therein was a holder of a green card, which
evidences that one is a lawful permanent resident of the United States (US). Such status directly contradicted Jose Ugdoracion's
declaration in his certificate of candidacy that he was "not a permanent resident or an immigrant to a foreign country." The Court
also emphasized the applicability of Section 68 30 of the Omnibus Election Code and Section 40 (f) of the Local Government Code,
which disqualifies a permanent resident of, or an immigrant to, a foreign country, unless said person waives his status. aDSIHc

Lluz v. COMELEC 31 did not involve a Section 78 proceeding, but an election offense in connection with the alleged
misrepresentation of therein private respondent about his profession.
In Salcedo II v. COMELEC, 32 the issue was whether the use of a surname constitutes a material misrepresentation under
Section 78 so as to justify the cancellation of a candidate's certificate of candidacy. There was no pronouncement regarding the
Section 78 jurisdiction of the COMELEC, which, notably, refused to make a legal conclusion on the validity of the marriage of
private respondent therein and her entitlement to use the surname of her husband, because the controversy is judicial in nature.

Miranda v. Abaya 33 stemmed from a petition to annul the substitution of a candidate whose certificate of candidacy had
been cancelled. There was no issue with regard to the earlier cancellation of Pempe Miranda's certificate of candidacy due to the
violation of the three-term limit.

The issue in Domino v. COMELEC 34 was whether the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court excluding petitioner therein
from the list of voters of Quezon City and essentially supporting his contention that he is a voter of Sarangani may preclude
COMELEC from making its own determination of his compliance with the one-year residence requirement to run for public office in
Sarangani. In this context, the Court ruled that there is no res judicata, and that it is within the competence of COMELEC to
independently determine whether false representation as to material facts was made in the certificate of candidacy, including
compliance with the residency requirement. Notably, COMELEC found that petitioner failed to comply with the one-year residence
requirement on the basis of his own Voter's Registration Record dated 22 June 1997 stating that his address is in Quezon City. The
document showed an irreconcilable difference with his statement in his certificate of candidacy that he was a resident of Sarangani
since January 1997.

In Garvida v. Sales, 35 the Court actually found that the COMELEC En Banc committed grave abuse of discretion in (1)
taking cognizance of the petition to deny due course to and/or cancel the certificate of candidacy, which should have been referred
to the COMELEC sitting in Division; and (2) entertaining the petition despite its failure to comply with the formal requirements of
pleadings. At any rate, it is well to emphasize that the COMELEC found that petitioner therein committed a material
misrepresentation on her certificate of candidacy for the reason that she would have been more than 21 years of age on the day of
the Sangguniang Kabataan elections. This conclusion was gleaned from her birth certificate, thereby qualifying as a self-evident
fact of unquestioned veracity. In the case, while finding grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC En Banc, We
eventually declared her ineligible to run for being over the age qualification.

Frivaldo v. COMELEC 36 did not deal with the jurisdiction of COMELEC under Section 78, but instead ruled upon
COMELEC's authority to hear and decide petitions for annulment of proclamations. Furthermore, the ruling of the COMELEC
Second Division disqualifying petitioner therein from running for the office of governor of Sorsogon was based on two final rulings of
this Court 37 that he is disqualified for such office by virtue of his alien citizenship. In Labo, Jr. v. COMELEC, 38 the cancellation of
Ramon Labo, Jr.'s certificate of candidacy by the COMELEC was likewise premised on a Decision 39 of this Court declaring him not
a citizen of the Philippines and therefore disqualified from continuing to serve as mayor of Baguio City.

In Aznar v. COMELEC, 40 Section 78 was only mentioned in connection with the discussion on the instances where a
petition questioning the qualifications of a candidate can be raised. The COMELEC First Division found that the petition was filed
out of time because it was filed beyond the 25-day period from the filing of the certificate of candidacy required under Section 78.
Moreover, it found that there was no sufficient proof to show that Emilio Osmea is not a Filipino citizen. It is well to note that what
was sought in the case was his disqualification based on citizenship. There was no allegation whatsoever about a material
misrepresentation in the certificate of candidacy.

In Abella v. Larrazabal, 41 the charge was that Adelina Larrazabal was a resident of Ormoc City like her husband, who was
disqualified precisely on that account from running for provincial governor of Leyte. The Court did not authorize the COMELEC to
rule upon the intrinsic qualifications of Larrazabal on residence. In fact, the Court only ordered the COMELEC to hear the case
under Section 78 as a more direct and speedy process available under the law.

It is misleading to claim that the Court did not dispute the COMELEC's capacity to determine a candidate's qualifications
in Maquiling v. COMELEC. 42 In that case, while the petition filed was originally denominated as one for denial of due course to or
cancellation of the certificate of candidacy, both the COMELEC First Division and the COMELEC En Banc treated the petition
therein as one for disqualification, and We affirmed.

Luna v. COMELEC 43 is consistent with, and even bolsters the point that in resolving petitions under Section 78, the
COMELEC may only address simple issues. In Luna, the Court did mention that the eligibility of Hans Roger Luna may have been
impugned through a verified petition to deny due course to or cancel such certificate of candidacy under Section 78 of the Election
Code, but the Court also qualified that the material misrepresentation be "as to his date of birth or age," which are simple matters
not requiring an exercise of discretion on the part of COMELEC.

The factual scenario in Cerafica v. COMELEC 44 is similar to that in Luna. The Court ruled that the COMELEC gravely
abused its discretion in holding that Kimberly Cerafica did not file a valid certificate of candidacy for failure to meet the age
requirement; hence, she could not be substituted by Olivia Cerafica. It was pointed out that Kimberly's certificate of candidacy was
considered valid unless the contents therein (including her eligibility) were impugned through a Section 78 proceeding. Absent such
proceeding, Kimberly's certificate of candidacy remained valid and she could be properly substituted by Olivia.

On Statistical Probability and Presumptions

Respondents again 45 argue that it was erroneous for the Court to have "accepted hook, line, and sinker" 46 the statistics
cited by the Solicitor General and to have inserted in jurisprudence a kind of profiling based on physical appearance. 47 They anchor
their position on the dissenting opinions 48 of the members of this Court, which they fail to accept as personal views of the justices
that have not been adopted by the majority.

Had respondents read the Decision more carefully, they would have realized that it was their failure to prove that
petitioner's parents were aliens that led the Court to rule for petitioner on this aspect. 49 In focusing on the absence of the identity of
petitioner's parents, respondents neglected to address the factual issue of whether such parents are Filipinos. ETHIDa

The reference to the statistical probability of 99.83% that any child born in the Philippines in the decade of 1965-1975 is
natural-born Filipino along with the circumstantial evidence that petitioner was abandoned in a Roman Catholic Church in Iloilo
City and her typical Filipino features only reinforces the proposition that petitioner was born to Filipino parents. The Court did not
take the figures as gospel truth.

There is no merit in the allegation that respondents were not given the opportunity to impeach the statistics, or that they
were raised for the first time on appeal. The figures were presented by the Solicitor General during the oral arguments on 16
February 2016. From that date, all parties were given a non-extendible period of five days within which to file their respective
memoranda. The failure of private respondents to impeach the statistics even in their memoranda has resulted in the use by the
Court of the same. Petitioner was not the one who raised such statistics for the first time on appeal. The Solicitor General could not
have raised it earlier, as the Office had only been impleaded when the case reached this Court. There cannot be any charge of
unfairness regarding this matter.

Respondents revive 50 their objection to the alleged reliance by the Court on presumptions to support the finding that
foundlings are natural-born Filipino citizens. 51They call our attention to the dissenting opinions 52 of our colleagues. However, it
must be stressed that the points raised in these dissenting opinions have already been considered during our deliberations. The
Decision took notice that presumptions regarding paternity are neither unknown nor unpracticed in Philippine law, as demonstrated
by the devotion of an entire chapter on paternity and filiation in the Family Code. 53

In my Concurring Opinion, I pointed out that Philippine law treats the parentage of a child as a matter of legal fiction. Its
determination relies not on physical proof, but on legal presumptions and circumstantial evidence. Notably, the Family Code allows
paternity and filiation to be established through methods 54 that do not require physical proof of parentage. Instead of requiring
foundlings to produce evidence of their filiation a nearly impossible condition administrative agencies, the courts, and even
Congress have instead proceeded on the assumption that these children are citizens of the Philippines.

As early as 1901, the Code of Civil Procedure 55 recognized that children whose parents are unknown have a right to be
adopted. Similar provisions were included in the subsequent revisions of the Rules of Court in 1940 56 and 1964. 57 Early statutes
also specifically allowed the adoption of foundlings. Act No. 1670 was enacted precisely to provide for the adoption of poor children
who were in the custody of asylums and other institutions. These children included orphans or "any other child so maintained
therein whose parents are unknown." 58 The provisions of Act No. 1670 were substantially included in the Administrative Code of
1916 59 and in the Revised Administrative Code of 1917. 60

In 1995, Congress enacted Republic Act No. (R.A.) 8043 to establish the rules governing the inter-country adoption of
Filipino children, which recognized the adoption of a foundling under Section 8 61 of the statute. In 1998, the law on domestic
adoption of Filipino children was amended through R.A. 8552, which specifically included the registration of foundlings for purposes
of adoption.

These enactments and issuances on adoption are significant, because they effectively recognize foundlings as citizens of
the Philippines. It must be emphasized that jurisdiction over adoption cases is determined by the citizenship of the adopter and the
adoptee. In Spouses Ellis v. Republic, 62 the Court said that the Philippine Civil Code adheres to the theory that jurisdiction over the
status of a natural person is determined by the latter's nationality, citing Article 15 63 of the Civil Code. Citizenship is a status
governed by this provision. 64

Ellis also discredits the assertion that this Court has no power to determine the citizenship of a foundling based only on
presumptions. When an American couple, the spouses Ellis, later sought to adopt Baby Rose, the Court presumed the citizenship
of the infant for purposes of adoption. In the 1976 case Duncan v. CFI of Rizal, 65 We assumed jurisdiction over the adoption
proceedings, and it may be inferred that the child was presumed a Philippine citizen whose status may be determined by a
Philippine court pursuant to Article 15 of the Civil Code.

The assertion that citizenship cannot be made to rest upon a presumption is contradicted by the previous pronouncements
of this Court in Board of Commissioners v. Dela Rosa 66 and Tecson v. COMELEC. 67

It must be emphasized that ascertaining evidence does not entail absolute certainty. Under Rule 128 of the Rules of
Court, evidence must only induce belief in the existence of a fact in issue. Hence, judges are not precluded from drawing
conclusions from inferences based on established facts. In the case of Joaquin v. Navarro, 68 the Court stated that "[j]uries must
often reason . . . according to probabilities, drawing an inference that the main fact in issue existed from collateral facts not directly
proving, but strongly tending to prove, its existence." Clearly, the use of probabilities is enshrined in established legal precepts
under our jurisdiction.

On the Non-inclusion of Foundlings in


Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution

Respondents reassert 69 that the verba legis rule should prevail. 70 They echo the interpretation of our dissenting
colleagues that the voting down of the Rafols proposal is tantamount to a denial of natural-born status, even Filipino citizenship, to
foundlings. 71

In the Decision dated 8 March 2016, what impelled this Court to look into the intent of the framers of the 1935 Constitution
was its belief that the non-inclusion of foundlings in the enumeration of citizens of the Philippines could not have been the result of
inadvertence, patent discrimination against them on account of their unfortunate status, or deliberate intention to deny them Filipino
citizenship. 72

In the deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention, 73 Delegate Roxas emphasized that international law
recognizes the principle that children or people born in a country of unknown parents are citizens of the nation where they were
found. As such, there is no need to make an express provision treating them separately.

The fact that the account of Delegate Aruego spoke of statutory action in dealing with the status of foundlings, rather than
expressly including them in the enumeration of the 1935 Constitution, was not lost on the Court. The Decision specifically identified
R.A. 8043 74 and 8552 75 as the statutory expression recognizing foundlings as among the Filipino children who may be
adopted. cSEDTC

On Foundlings as Natural-born Citizens under International Law

Private respondents reiterate 76 their argument that petitioner cannot find support from international legal instruments and
norms for a declaration that foundlings are natural-born citizens of the state where they were found. 77 They emphasize the
discussions in the dissents 78 that the acquisition of citizenship by foundlings is not automatic from birth, as a proceeding is required
for the declaration of their unknown parentage.

It is clear that the objection of private respondents on the application of international law to the status of petitioner springs
not from the recognition of foundlings as citizens of the nation where they were found, but from their recognition as citizens from
birth or being natural-born. However, as explained in our Decision, the grant of nationality as provided under the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is geared towards ensuring that no child, foundling or otherwise, would have to endure being
stateless at any point in time. 79

Furthermore, following the same line of reasoning adopted in Razon v. Tagitis 80 that ratification of the International
Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is not required for the application of its provisions to the
Philippines considering that enforced disappearance violates rights already recognized under the Constitution, We also went on to
emphasize that the 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to Conflict of Nationality Laws and the 1961 Convention
on the Reduction of Statelessness merely gives effect to Article 15 (1) of the UDHR providing that "[e]veryone has the right to a
nationality." 81 It bears stressing that the UDHR has already been interpreted by the Court as part of the generally accepted
principles of international law binding the Philippines. 82 More important, it embodies the same core principles which underlie the
Philippine Constitution itself. 83

Again, there is no merit in the repetitive argument that registration of a child as a foundling, or the purported conduct of a
proceeding, effectively amounts to naturalization in accordance with law. This contention is unacceptable because the term "in
accordance with law" alludes to enabling legislation. 84 Hence, naturalization in Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution does
not refer to just any act, but to the specific procedure for naturalization prescribed by the legislature. Furthermore, registration is not
an act attributable to a foundling, 85 in contrast to the Revised Naturalization Law, 86 which requires applicants to personally and
voluntarily perform acts to avail of naturalized citizenship. Lastly, it is possible to register a foundling without any administrative
proceedings, if the registration is done prior to the surrender of the custody of the child to the Department of Social Welfare and
Development or an institution. 87 If already registered, the administrative proceeding 88 is followed only for the purpose of adoption.

On Reacquisition of Natural-born Status

Repeating their previous arguments, 89 private respondents and Valdez allege that the instant case is not on all fours
with Bengson III v. HRET, 90 which involved repatriation under R.A. 2630 91 of those who involuntarily lost their Filipino
citizenship. 92 Furthermore, Valdez extensively reproduced the deliberations on the precursor bills of R.A. 9225 (Citizenship
Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003) and insists 93 that paragraphs 1 and 2 of Section 3 94 thereof make a clear distinction
between those who lost their Filipino citizenship before the effectivity of R.A. 9225 (reacquisition) and those after
(retention). 95 According to him, reacquisition means the loss of natural-born status while retention means that Filipinos remain
natural-born citizens. 96 On the other hand, the dissents also gave their own interpretations of the law. 97

Private respondents and Valdez basically reiterate COMELEC arguments that have already been sufficiently addressed by
the Court in our Decision. 98 Bengson III never distinguished between those who voluntarily and involuntarily lost their Filipino
citizenship. It provided, in general, that "repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality," 99 and that if a person was
"originally a natural-born citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his former status as a natural-born
Filipino." 100 Thus, the strained differentiation made by private respondents and Valdez has no merit.

As regards the arguments that the deliberations of the legislators clearly show the intent to equate reacquisition of Filipino
citizenship with loss of natural-born status, the same are without merit. The most that can be made out of the deliberations is that
the thinking of the legislators on the matter was mixed. Thus, the Court pronouncement in Bengson III, involving the restoration of
former status as natural-born Filipino when one is repatriated, remains good law.

On Petitioner's 10-year Residency in the Philippines

Once again, 101 private respondents and COMELEC allege that the earliest possible reckoning point for reestablishment of
domicile in the Philippines by Filipinos who were naturalized as foreigners can only be upon their reacquisition of Filipino citizenship
or by securing a permanent resident visa. 102 This position was also widely supported by the dissents. 103

In Coquilla v. COMELEC, 104 Ongsiako-Reyes v. COMELEC, 105 and Caballero v. COMELEC 106 the Court had no other
point from which to reckon petitioners' reestablishment of domicile in the Philippines other than the date they reacquired their
Filipino citizenship. 107 In contrast, petitioner in this case presented overwhelming evidence proving the reestablishment of her
domicile in the Philippines even before her reacquisition of Filipino citizenship. 108

Entry in the Philippines by virtue of a balikbayan or a non-immigrant visa does not prevent a person from reestablishing
domicile here. In Elkins v. Moreno, 109 aliens with a non-immigrant visa were considered as having the legal capacity to change their
domiciles. In Toll v. Moreno, 110 the Supreme Court of Maryland applied the ruling inElkins and held that the ordinary legal standard
for the establishment of domicile may he used even for non-immigrants. The fact that an alien holds a non-immigrant visa is thus
not controlling. What is crucial in determining whether an alien may lawfully adopt a domicile in the country is the restriction placed
by Congress on a specific type of non-immigrant visa. So long as the intended stay of a non-immigrant does not violate any of the
legal restriction, sufficient animus manendi may be appreciated and domicile may be established. We can consider these decisions
as sufficiently enlightening and persuasive on this Court.

In the case of balikbayans, the true intent of Congress to treat these overseas Filipinos not as mere visitors but as
prospective permanent residents is evident from the letter of the law. The Philippines' Balikbayan Program does not foreclose their
options should they decide to actually settle in the country.

As stated in the Decision, there are only three requisites to acquire a new domicile: residence or bodily presence in the
new locality, an intention to remain there and an intention to abandon the old domicile. 111 Petitioner's compliance with these
requisites was extensively discussed in the concurring opinions, and summarized below.

To prove her intent to establish a new domicile in the Philippines on 24 May 2005, petitioner presented the following
evidence: (1) school records indicating that her children attended Philippine schools starting June 2005; (2) Taxpayer's
Identification Number (TIN) Card, showing that she registered with and secured the TIN from the BIR on 22 July 2005;
(3) Condominium Certificates of Title (CCTs) and Tax Declarations covering Unit 7F and a parking slot at One Wilson Place
Condominium, 194 Wilson Street, San Juan, Metro Manila, purchased in early 2005 and which served as the family's temporary
residence; (4) Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) in the name of petitioner and her husband issued on 1 June 2006, covering a
residential lot in Corinthian Hills, Quezon City in 2006; and (5) registration as a voter on 31 August 2006. SDAaTC
The enrolment of children in local schools is a factor considered by courts when it comes to establishing a new domicile.
In Fernandez v. HRET, 112 We used thisindicium for the establishment of a new domicile. In Blount v. Boston, 113 the Supreme Court
of Maryland identified location of the school attended by a person's children as one of the factors in determining a change of
domicile. That petitioner's children began their schooling in the Philippines shortly after their arrival in the country in May 2005 is a
fact "duly proven" by petitioner, 114 and considered non-controverted. 115

The following facts are also duly proven: that petitioner purchased a condominium unit in San Juan City during the second
half of 2005, and that petitioner and her husband started the construction of their house in Corinthian Hills in 2006. 116 That
petitioner purchased the residential lot in Corinthian Hills is not up for debate. Taken together, these facts establish
another indicium of petitioner's establishment of a new domicile in the Philippines, a criteria recognized by Philippine
jurisprudence. 117

Even US courts consider acquisition of property as a badge of fixing a new domicile. 118 In Hale v. State of Mississippi
Democratic EC, 119 the Supreme Court of Mississippi used acquisition of a new residence as a factor for determining transfer of
domicile.

Securing a TIN Card does not conclusively prove that petitioner is a resident of the Philippines, because the 1997 Tax
Code mandates all persons required under our tax laws to render or file a return to secure a TIN. 120 Nevertheless, the significance
of the TIN Card lies in the fact that it lists down the address of petitioner as No. 23 Lincoln St. West Greenhills, the very same
address of her mother, Jesusa Sonora Poe, as reflected in the latter's affidavit. 121 Therefore, the TIN Card, which was issued on 22
July 2005, corroborates the assertion that petitioner, upon her arrival in 2005, was then staying at her mother's home.

Petitioner registered as a voter on 31 August 2006. This speaks loudly of the intent to establish a domicile in the country.
In Hale v. State of Mississippi Democratic EC,122 the Supreme Court of Mississippi considered registering to vote as a factor
indicative of the intent to acquire a new domicile. More importantly, Oglesby v. Williams 123treats voter registration as one of the two
most significant indicia of acquisition of a new domicile. In the Philippine case of Templeton v. Babcock, 124 we held that "though not
of course conclusive of acquisition of domicile, voting in a place is an important circumstance and, where the evidence is scanty,
may have decisive weight." 125

To prove her intent to abandon her old domicile in the US, petitioner presented the following evidence: (1) email
exchanges between petitioner or her husband and the property movers regarding relocation of their household goods, furniture and
vehicles from the US to the Philippines; (2) invoice document showing delivery from the US to the Philippines of the personal
properties of petitioner and her family; (3) acknowledgment of change of address by the US Postal Service; (4) sale of the family
home on 27 April 2006.

In Oglesby v. Williams, 126 the Court of Appeals of Maryland noted that plans for removal show intent to abandon the old
domicile. In this case, petitioner submitted email exchanges showing that the family began planning to move back to the Philippines
as early as March 2005. The email indicates that as early as 18 March 2005, petitioner already had plans to relocate to Manila. It
must be stressed that not only household goods would be moved to Manila, but two vehicles as well collectively weighing 28,000
pounds.

Petitioner also adduced as evidence the email of the US Postal Service acknowledging the notice of change of address
made by petitioner's husband. Hale v. State of Mississippi Democratic EC 127 utilized change of postal address as a factor for
determining the intent to abandon a domicile. In Farnsworth v. Jones, 128 the Court of Appeals of North Carolina noted, among
others, the failure of the candidate to change his address. It ruled out the possibility that defendant had actually abandoned his
previous residence. The online acknowledgment presented by petitioner never showed that the address changed to the Philippine
address, but it indicates intent to abandon her old domicile.

In Imbraguglio v. Bernadas 129 decided by the Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit, the court ruled that a
candidate established a new domicile by voluntarily selling his home.

The case of Bell v. Bell, 130 combined with the Oglesby case, provides that movement of properties that are valuable
indicates intent to abandon the previous domicile. When only unimportant belongings remain in the old domicile, the intent to
abandon the old domicile is not diminished. In this case, 25,241 pounds of personal property owned by petitioner and her family
were actually moved from the US to Manila, while non-valuable items (books, clothes, miscellaneous items) were donated to the
Salvation Army. 131

In Oglesby, the date of actual transfer was made the reckoning point for the change of domicile. Applying the rule to this
case, it appears that the intent was actualized in 24 May 2005, the date when petitioner arrived in the Philippines, as revealed by
her US passport bearing a stamp showing her entry in the Philippines. The fact that she arrived here for the purpose of moving
back to the Philippines was not denied by COMELEC during the oral arguments, although it did not recognize the legal implications
of such fact.

Petitioner's arrival in the Philippines on 24 May 2005 was definitely coupled with both animus manendi and animus non
revertendi. When we consider all the other factors mentioned, there can only be one conclusion petitioner was here to stay for
good. Petitioner's transfer was incremental, but this Court has already recognized the validity of incremental transfers. 132 Even the
Superior Court of Pennsylvania in Bell v. Bell 133 recognized the notion of incremental transfers in a change of domicile. We must
remember that petitioner and her children would have stayed in the Philippines for 10 years and 11 months by 9 May 2016. For
nearly 11 years, her children have studied and spent a substantial part of their formative years here.

The fact that petitioner's husband remained and retained employment abroad in May 2005 and that petitioner travelled to
the US using her US passport even after reacquisition of Philippine citizenship did not negate petitioner's intent to reside
permanently in the Philippines.

Petitioner and her family could not have been expected to uproot their lives completely from the US and finish all
arrangements in the span of six months. One of the spouses had to remain in the US to wind up all logistical affairs. That
petitioner's husband remained in the US until April 2006 only showed that the family endured a period of separation in order to
rebuild their family life together in the Philippines. As for her use of her US passport, petitioner, as a US citizen, was required by law
to use her US passport when travelling to and from the US. 134 Notwithstanding her dual citizenship and the abandonment of her US
domicile, she could not have entered or departed from the US if she did not use her US passport.

Private respondents claim that the Court's ruling renders Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code "patently
discriminatory," given that permanent residents in the US must perform an unequivocal act of waiver of their foreign domicile
such as the surrender of their green cards in order to reacquire their domicile in the Philippines, while full-fledged US citizens
would be able to reckon their reestablishment of domicile from the date of their arrival in the Philippines by mere show of
intent.135 They cite Caasi v. CA, 136 and argue that Section 68 provides a higher bar of establishing animus manendi and animus
non-revertendi for Filipinos who are permanent residents in the US, compared to former Filipino citizens who do not have a
permanent resident visa in the Philippines. In other words, they contend that possession of a permanent resident visa by former
Filipino citizens should be made a requirement for reestablishing a domicile in the Philippines. Further, they argue that surrender of
the US passport should at least be required, pursuant to Japzon v. COMELEC. 137 acEHCD

The argument is flawed. To be clear, Section 68 provides for a ground for disqualification and a mode to overcome such
disqualification. It does not provide for a mode for reestablishment of domicile in the Philippines by permanent residents or
immigrants of a foreign country.

In Caasi, we treated the candidate's application for immigrant status and permanent residence in the US and his
possession of a green card attesting to such status as "conclusive proof that he is a permanent resident of the U.S. despite his
occasional visits to the Philippines." 138 This explains the so-called higher bar for Filipinos with green cards, that is, they must
formally surrender their green cards so as to comply with Section 68. Rightly so, because a green card proves "a resident alien's
status as a permanent U.S. resident." 139 Thus, in Gayo v. Verceles, 140 We declared that Verceles was no longer a permanent
resident of the US because she had already surrendered her green card even prior to the filing of her certificate of candidacy when
she first ran for mayor in the 1998 elections. Here, We ruled that Section 68 and Section 40 (f) of the Local Government Code "both
provide that permanent residents or immigrants to a foreign country are disqualified from running for any local elective position." 141

On the other hand, Japzon did not involve the surrender of a US passport. It involved the application for a Philippine
passport, which we considered as a factor indicating the candidate's reestablishment of his domicile in the country. Besides, a
passport by itself does not prove residence. A passport is a "formal document, certifying a person's identity and citizenship so that
the person may travel to and from a foreign country." 142 It is "universally accepted evidence of a person's identity and
nationality." 143 It therefore makes no sense why the surrender of a foreign passport should be made a requirement for
reestablishment of domicile in the Philippines.

On Intent to Mislead

Reiterating their previous arguments 144 and finding support in two of the dissents, 145 respondents urge the Court to revisit
its rulings requiring the element of deliberate intent to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact that would otherwise render a candidate
ineligible in a successful Section 78 petition. 146 Private respondents restate147 their argument that any plea of honest mistake or
absence of intent to deceive or mislead must have merit only if such leads to understated qualification, which in turn leads to
outright disqualification, such as the case of Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC. 148 At any rate, it is again 149 pointed out that the
existence of intent to mislead on the part of petitioner is established by her various overt acts, as shown by her pattern of
misrepresentation. 150
It appears ironic that private respondents referred to the element of deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform or hide a fact
as a mere judicially crafted construct, yet would argue vigorously that petitioner should have secured a permanent resident visa in
order to reestablish her domicile in the Philippines, another "judicial construct" that they mistakenly read as coming from Coquilla v.
COMELEC. 151 Private respondents appear to neglect the fact that since Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC, 152 the Court has
consistently required 153 save for Tagolino v. HRET 154 the element of a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform or hide a fact
in a successful Section 78 petition.

There is no basis for private respondents' position that good faith can only be appreciated when the mistake leads to an
understated qualification. If upheld, this proposition would render inutile the more important pronouncement in Romualdez-Marcos
v. COMELEC 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 Constitution's residency qualification requirement." 155

The Court cannot take cognizance of the alleged pattern of misrepresentation on the part of petitioner. The focus of a
Section 78 petition is the certificate of candidacy and the purported false material representation contained therein. Any allusion to
the contents of other documents should only become material when it indubitably proves the falsity of the material contents of the
certificate of candidacy.

On Reyes v. COMELEC

The ponente, Justice Perez, had been criticized for the alleged double standards utilized by him in the instant case
and Reyes v. COMELEC, 156 which was also written by him. However, I do not see any inconsistency mainly because the two cases
are not identical.

On citizenship, the two cases diverge on whether there was misrepresentation warranting the cancellation of the certificate
of candidacy. In Reyes, the circumstances that petitioner was a holder of a US passport and that she had the status of
a balikbayan shifted the burden of evidence on her. Reyes, however, failed to present any proof to show that she was a natural-born
citizen. The Court explained:
Let us look into the events that led to this petition: In moving for the cancellation of petitioner's COC, respondent
submitted records of the Bureau of Immigration showing that petitioner is a holder of a US passport, and that her status is that
of a "balikbayan." At this point, the burden of proof shifted to petitioner, imposing upon her the duty to prove that she is a
natural-born Filipino citizen and has not lost the same, or that she has re-acquired such status in accordance with the
provisions of R.A. No. 9225. Aside from the bare allegation that she is a natural-born citizen, however, petitioner submitted no
proof to support such contention. Neither did she submit any proof as to the inapplicability of R.A. No. 9225 to her. 157

While Reyes attached to her Motion for Reconsideration before the COMELEC En Banc an Affidavit of Renunciation of
Foreign Citizenship, the Court rejected the same:
[P]etitioner admitted that she is a holder of a US passport, but she averred that she is only a dual Filipino-American citizen,
thus the requirements of R.A. No. 9225 do not apply to her. Still, attached to the said motion is an Affidavit of Renunciation of
Foreign Citizenship dated 24 September 2012. Petitioner explains that she attached said Affidavit "if only to show her desire
and zeal to serve the people and to comply with rules, even as a superfluity." We cannot, however, subscribe to petitioner's
explanation. If petitioner executed said Affidavit "if only to comply with the rules," then it is an admission that R.A. No. 9225
applies to her. Petitioner cannot claim that she executed it to address the observations by the COMELEC as the assailed
Resolutions were promulgated only in 2013, while the Affidavit was executed in September 2012. 158 SDHTEC

In the present case, respondents relied mainly on petitioner Poe's admission that she was a foundling. The admission,
however, did not establish the falsity of petitioner's claim that she was a natural-born citizen. Legal presumptions operated in her
favor to the effect that a foundling is a natural-born citizen. Further, she had a right to rely on these legal presumptions, thus
negating the notion of deception on her part.

There is also a distinction with respect to the execution of an oath of allegiance. In this case, that petitioner executed an
oath of allegiance is not up for debate. InReyes, however, the Court found that there was no oath of allegiance executed by Reyes
that would satisfy the requirements of R.A. 9225. We rejected the claim of Reyes that she was deemed to have reacquired her
status as a natural-born Filipino citizen by her oath of allegiance in connection with her appointment as Provincial Administrator of
Marinduque. The Court said:
For one, this issue is being presented for the first time before this Court, as it was never raised before the COMELEC. For
another, said oath of allegiance cannot be considered compliance with Sec. 3 of R.A. No. 9225 as certain requirements have to
be met as prescribed by Memorandum Circular No. AFF-04-01, otherwise known as the Rules Governing Philippine Citizenship
under R.A. No. 9225 and Memorandum Circular No. AFF-05-002 (Revised Rules) and Administrative Order No. 91, Series of
2004 issued by the Bureau of Immigration. Thus, petitioner's oath of office as Provincial Administrator cannot be considered as
the oath of allegiance in compliance with R.A. No. 9225.
On residence, to establish the requirements of falsity and intent to deceive, private respondents in this case merely relied
on the representation that petitioner previously made in her 2012 certificate of candidacy for senator. Petitioner, however, has
shown by an abundance of substantial evidence that her residence in the Philippines commenced on 24 May 2005, and that the
statement she made in her 2012 certificate of candidacy was due to honest mistake. Private respondents failed to meet these
pieces of evidence head on. Hence, they failed to discharge their burden of proving material misrepresentation with respect to
residency.

On the other hand, given the finding that Reyes lost her Filipino citizenship, she had effectively abandoned her domicile in
the Philippines. Therefore, it was incumbent upon her to show that she reestablished her domicile in the Philippines, but the only
evidence adduced by Reyes to show compliance with the one-year durational residency requirement in Boac, Marinduque was her
claim that she served as Provincial Administrator of the province from 18 January 2011 to 13 July 2011, which the Court deemed
insufficient to establish her one-year residency.

There are other points of distinction as well. In Reyes, the COMELEC En Banc Resolution cancelling her certificate of
candidacy had become final and executory when she elevated the matter to this Court. It should be mentioned that when Reyes
filed her petition with the Court, the COMELEC En Banc had, as early as 5 June 2013, already issued a Certificate of Finality over
its 14 May 2013 Resolution disqualifying her. Hence, there was no longer any pending case to speak of. In the case of petitioner in
this case, the question of whether her certificate of candidacy should be cancelled is a subsisting issue.

Moreover, in Reyes, We found that her recourse to this Court appeared to be an attempt to prevent the COMELEC from
implementing a final and executory judgment. The Court reasoned that Reyes took "an inconsistent, if not confusing, stance"
while she sought remedy before the Court, she asserted that it was the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal that had
jurisdiction over her.

In sum, Reyes is substantially different from the instant case. Reyes involved a final and executory order of COMELEC
cancelling her certificate of candidacy that was brought before this Court, apparently in an attempt to prevent enforcement of the
judgment. The present case involved an order cancelling petitioner's certificate of candidacy, which was a genuine issue timely
raised before the Court.

This case involved a candidate who was a foundling, carried a Philippine passport, took an oath of allegiance, and
executed an affidavit of renunciation. Legal presumptions operated in her favor, making her a natural-born citizen at the time she
filed her certificate of candidacy for president. Reyes involved a candidate who was a former natural-born citizen but carried a US
passport and failed to show proof that she took the requisite oath of allegiance and affidavit of renunciation. The evidence operated
against her, thus establishing false representation in her certificate of candidacy with intent to deceive.

In this case, petitioner submitted an abundance of evidence showing that she reestablished her domicile in the Philippines
in May 2005, thus fulfilling the durational residence requirement of 10 years. In Reyes, the candidate submitted only one piece of
evidence her service as provincial administrator from 18 January 2011 to 13 July 2011, which the Court deemed insufficient to
establish her one-year residency.

On Petitioner as a Nuisance Candidate

Private respondents theorize that a presidential candidate who is not a natural-born Filipino citizen is a nuisance
candidate. According to the theory, allowing such person to run for president makes a complete mockery of the election process.
The electorate is offered choices that include patently ineligible candidates and is misled to cast votes in their favor. They claim that
the situation will lead to wastage of votes for an ineligible candidate.

It is worthy to note that prior to the various motions for reconsideration filed in this case, not one of the respondents raised
this argument, either in their respective comments, memoranda, or in the oral arguments. Not even the COMELEC considered this
notion. The "nuisance candidate" argument surfaced only for the first time in one dissenting opinion, 159 which the respondents
borrowed and utilized in their motions for reconsideration.

One can easily make short shrift of the "nuisance candidate" argument. In the first place, the finding that petitioner is a
nuisance candidate should have been made by the COMELEC. Disqualification on citizenship grounds does not make one a
nuisance candidate. Nuisance candidates refer to "persons who file their certificates of candidacy 'to put the election process in
mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other
circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the
certificate of candidacy has been filed and thus prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.'" 160 AScHCD
As can be gleaned from the definition, the issue is not whether one is qualified; rather, whether one is a bona
fide candidate. In elections involving national positions, the determining factor is intent, which is manifested by the candidate's
"financial capacity or serious intention to mount a nationwide campaign." 161 Petitioner is a leading contender with highly-publicized
financial and other support.

CONCLUSION

"Among the ends to which a motion for reconsideration is addressed, one is precisely to convince the [C]ourt that its ruling
is erroneous and improper, contrary to law or the evidence, and in so doing, the movant has to dwell of necessity upon the issues
passed upon by the court." 162 Nonetheless, our Rules of Court require that a motion for reconsideration shall point out specifically
the findings or conclusions of the judgment or final order which are not supported by the evidence or which are contrary to law,
making express reference to the testimonial or documentary evidence or to the provisions of law alleged to be contrary to such
findings or conclusions. 163More important, the movant should be able to point out why the findings or conclusions in the judgment
or final order are contrary to the evidence and the applicable law.164

These elements of a motion for reconsideration necessarily mean that movants cannot simply parrot the dissenting
opinions of the minority. Not only does it show insufficiency of the motions, it clearly proves that the matters raised had already
been exhaustively discussed, deliberated and ruled upon by the Court.

All the opinions of the Members of the Court were presented during the deliberations. When views become dissenting
opinions, it is clear that they have failed to express the beliefs of the majority. The reproduction of these dissenting opinions in a
motion for reconsideration does not produce an exchange of new ideas; consequentially, such does not persuade the Court to
reconsider its position. On the contrary, the rehash of arguments only proves that the Court did not miss anything important and
only reinforces its belief in the soundness of its conclusions.

WHEREFORE, I vote to deny with finality the motions for reconsideration for raising issues that have already been passed
upon by the Court in its Decision dated 8 March 2016.

CARPIO, J., dissenting:

I maintain my dissent.

I reiterate my position that petitioner Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe Llamanzares (petitioner) is indeed a Filipino citizen.
However, petitioner is not a natural-born Filipino citizen. In addition, petitioner fails to comply with the minimum ten-year residency
requirement. Accordingly, petitioner is not eligible to run for President of the Philippines pursuant to Section 2, Article VII of the
1987 Constitution. 1

This brief discussion focuses only on the voting during the 8 March 2016 Court En Banc session and the jurisdiction of the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to determine initially the qualifications of a candidate in resolving a petition to deny due
course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy (COC) under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. 2

In the resolution of the motions for reconsideration on 5 April 2016, all Justices maintained their respective votes and
opinions. Thus, the voting on 8 March 2016 has not been affected by the subsequent voting on 5 April 2016.

No majority

In disposing of the consolidated petitions, nine Justices voted to grant the petitions while six Justices voted to dismiss the
petitions. While a majority of the Court En Banc nine out of fifteen Justices voted to grant the petitions, there is no ruling by a
majority on the citizenship status of petitioner. As admitted by the Chief Justice, only seven Justices voted to declare petitioner a
natural-born Filipino citizen. Five Justices voted to declare petitioner not a natural-born Filipino citizen. Three Justices, who took
part in the deliberations and voted to grant the petitions, did not have an opinion on the issue of petitioner's citizenship.

The Court En Banc voted as follows during the 8 March 2016 session.

(1) Issue of whether to grant or dismiss the consolidated petitions

As stated by the Chief Justice in her Concurring Opinion of 8 March 2016, 3 the sole issue that was voted upon by the En
Banc was whether to grant or dismiss the consolidated petitions.

Nine Justices, composed of the ponente Justice Perez, Chief Justice Sereno, Justice Velasco, Justice Peralta, Justice
Bersamin, Justice Mendoza, Justice Leonen, Justice Jardeleza, and Justice Caguioa, voted to grant the petitions and annul the
assailed COMELEC resolutions that cancelled the COC of petitioner. Six Justices, namely, Justice Carpio, Justice Leonardo-De
Castro, Justice Brion, Justice Del Castillo, Justice Reyes, and Justice Perlas-Bernabe, voted to dismiss the petitions.
In short, all the fifteen Justices took part in the deliberations and voted on the sole issue presented for voting whether to
grant or dismiss the petitions.

(2) Issue of whether petitioner complied with the residency requirement

The Court En Banc did not vote on the issue of whether petitioner complied with the residency requirement. However, in
their separate opinions, the Justices expressed their personal opinions on this issue.

As the Chief Justice noted in her Concurring Opinion of 8 March 2016, seven Justices, namely, the ponente Justice Perez,
Chief Justice Sereno, Justice Velasco, Justice Bersamin, Justice Mendoza, Justice Leonen, and Justice Jardeleza, found petitioner
a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding the 9 May 2016 elections. Six Justices, namely, Justice
Carpio, Justice Leonardo-De Castro, Justice Brion, Justice Del Castillo, Justice Reyes, and Justice Perlas-Bernabe maintained that
petitioner failed to comply with the minimum ten-year residency requirement.

Justice Caguioa, with whom Justice Peralta concurred, stated that he would leave the resolution of the issues of
petitioner's qualifications to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal and would confine his views on the issue of whether the COMELEC
committed grave abuse of discretion when it cancelled petitioner's COC. Justice Caguioa stated that "this Court's jurisdiction and its
exercise neither hinge on nor require a final determination of the petitioner's qualifications." 4

In his Separate Concurring Opinion resolving the motions for reconsideration, Justice Peralta explained that "[he] then
joined Justice Caguioa in his view that the Court should have limited itself to determining whether grave abuse of discretion
attended the finding of the COMELEC that Poe committed material misrepresentation as to the facts required to be stated in her
[COC], per Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, and nothing more." 5 Justice Peralta also stated that he "opted to join Justice
Caguioa in his view that a more thorough discussion of and ruling on [petitioner's] qualifications, specifically as to her natural-born
citizenship, as well as her 10-year residency, are premature, the same being cognizable only alter she had been proclaimed as
winner of the presidential elections and through a petition filed in the PET, not in the COMELEC, . . . ." 6

(3) Issue of whether petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen CAIHTE

Again, the Court En Banc did not put to a vote the issue of whether petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen. However, in
their separate opinions, the Justices expressed their personal opinions on this issue.

Seven Justices, namely, the ponente Justice Perez, Chief Justice Sereno, Justice Velasco, Justice Bersamin, Justice
Mendoza, Justice Leonen, and Justice Jardeleza opined that petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen. Five Justices, namely,
Justice Carpio, Justice Leonardo-De Castro, Justice Brion, Justice Reyes, and Justice Perlas-Bernabe considered petitioner not a
natural-born Filipino citizen. Justice Del Castillo refrained from giving an opinion on the citizenship issue, invoking the Doctrine of
Constitutional Avoidance, among others. Justice Caguioa, joined by Justice Peralta, disagreed with the majority when it proceeded
to rule on the question of petitioner's citizenship. According to Justice Caguioa, "this Court need not have made a definitive ruling
on petitioner's status as a natural-born Filipino citizen." 7

The 1987 Constitution clearly provides that any case which is heard by the Court en banc shall be decided by a
majority of the members of the En Banc who took part in the deliberations on the issues and voted on the issues. Section
4 (2), Article VIII of the Constitution reads:
2) All cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, international or executive agreement, or law, which shall be heard by the
Supreme Court en banc, and all other cases which under the Rules of Court are required to be heard en banc, including those
involving the constitutionality, application, or operation of presidential decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances,
and other regulations, shall be decided with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the
deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon. (Emphasis supplied)

Section 1 (a) of Rule 12 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court provides:
Section 1. Voting requirements. (a) All decisions and actions in Court en banc cases shall be made up upon the concurrence
of the majority of the Members of the Court who actually took part in the deliberations on the issue or issues involved and voted
on them.

Indisputably, a majority vote is 50 percent plus one of the 15-member Court En Banc, which means that the concurrence
of at least eight Justices is required to achieve a majority ruling if all the fifteen (15) Justices vote, as in the present case.

In any decision or resolution rendered by the Court, one or more members of the Court (En Banc or Division) may concur
wholly or partially, or dissent from the majority opinion, or take no part in the resolution of the case. Sometimes, one or more
Justices concur in part and dissent in part from the majority opinion.
In this case, during the 8 March 2016 En Banc session, all fifteen members of the Court En Banc actually took part in the
deliberations and voted on the sole issue of whether to grant or dismiss the petitions. No Justice inhibited himself or herself from
voting on this sole issue.

Eight justices concurred with the ponente to grant the petitions, thus a total of nine Justices voted to grant the petitions. Six
Justices dissented and voted to dismiss the petitions. Five Justices (Chief Justice Sereno, Justice Velasco, Justice Leonen, Justice
Jardeleza, and Justice Caguioa) wrote concurring opinions. Five Justices (Justice Carpio, Justice Leonardo-De Castro, Justice
Brion, Justice Del Castillo, and Justice Perlas-Bernabe) wrote dissenting opinions. Justice Reyes joined Justice Perlas-Bernabe's
dissenting opinion while Justice Peralta joined Justice Caguioa's concurring opinion. Justice Bersamin and Justice Mendoza merely
affixed their signatures to the ponenciasignifying their unqualified concurrence.

While Justice Caguioa, with whom Justice Peralta joined, concurred with the ponencia to grant the petitions, he deviated
from the majority in ruling on petitioner's citizenship, resulting in a separate or qualified concurrence. Justice Del Castillo refrained
from giving an opinion on petitioner's citizenship.

In computing the majority vote on the citizenship issue, the Chief Justice inexplicably excluded Justices Del Castillo,
Peralta and Caguioa. To repeat, although Justice Del Castillo had no opinion on the citizenship issue, he voted on the sole issue
presented for voting. Justice Caguioa, joined by Justice Peralta, also voted on the sole issue presented for voting, and even
submitted a qualified concurrence expressly refraining from issuing an opinion on the citizenship issue. In his Separate Concurring
Opinion on the motions for reconsideration, Justice Peralta explained that a ruling on petitioner's citizenship and residency
qualifications is premature since the same is proper "only after she had been proclaimed as winner of the presidential elections and
through a petition filed in the PET, not in the COMELEC, . . . ." 8 The Chief Justice construed such "silence" on the citizenship issue
on the part of Justices Peralta, Del Castillo, and Caguioa as non-participation and non-voting.

This is egregious error.

In determining whether there is a majority, the votes of all the Justices who actually took part in the deliberations on the
issues and voted on the issues should be counted. All fifteen Justices of this Court took part in the deliberations and voted on the
sole issue presented for voting whether the petitions should be granted or dismissed. Consequently, the votes of all the fifteen
Justices, including those of Justices Peralta, Del Castillo, and Caguioa, should be counted. The Chief Justice cannot validly
exclude the three Justices, who took part in the deliberations and voted on the sole issue presented for voting but had no opinion
on the citizenship issue. Notably, the Chief Justice offered no justification, as there is none, for excluding the three Justices in
determining the majority.

Since there is no dispute that there are only seven Justices who declared that petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen,
there is clearly no majority vote on the issue of petitioner's citizenship. Seven votes is less than a majority. Accordingly, there is no
majority sustaining petitioner's status as a natural-born Filipino citizen. In short, the issue of petitioner's citizenship remains
hanging and unsettled. DETACa

This ruling of the majority will lead to an absurd result. The majority allows a presidential candidate with uncertain
citizenship status to be elected to the Presidency. In effect, the majority wants the Court to resolve the citizenship status of a
presidential candidate only after the candidate is elected. If the winning candidate is later on determined by this Court not to be a
natural-born Filipino citizen, then those who voted for the winning, but later disqualified, candidate would have utterly wasted their
votes. To allow a presidential candidate to run and be voted for despite the uncertainty of his or her citizenship status makes a
mockery of the electoral process. This is not how the Constitution should be interpreted allowing an absurd result to happen.

COMELEC's jurisdiction

On the jurisdiction of the COMELEC, the ponencia posits that "[t]he COMELEC cannot itself, in the same cancellation
case, decide the qualification or lack thereof of the candidate." 9 The ponencia states that "[t]he facts of qualification must
beforehand be established in a prior proceeding before an authority properly vested with jurisdiction." 10 The ponencia maintains
that this prior determination of a candidate's qualification may be by statute, by executive order, or by a judgment of a competent
court or tribunal, 11 without however identifying which body is a competent authority to resolve questions on qualifications of
candidates.

In essence, the ponencia holds that the COMELEC lacks jurisdiction to rule on a candidate's qualifications prior to the
elections in a petition to deny due course to or cancel a COC under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. With this ruling,
the ponencia should have logically granted the petitions on the sole ground of the COMELEC's lack of jurisdiction to determine a
candidate's qualifications, without proceeding to decide the qualifications of the candidate. If the COMELEC has no
jurisdiction, then this Court has also no jurisdiction on appeal to rule on the merits and decide the qualifications of a candidate.
Once the Court rules that the COMELEC is devoid of jurisdiction, the Court can only annul the decision of the COMELEC. The
Court cannot rule on the merits, that is, decide the qualifications of a candidate, because there is no COMELEC decision to review
on the merits, the annulled decision of the COMELEC being non-existent.

However, despite ruling that the COMELEC is devoid of jurisdiction, the ponencia proceeded to rule on the citizenship and
residency qualifications of petitioner, vesting in the Supreme Court the primary jurisdiction to decide the qualifications of
presidential and vice-presidential candidates before the elections. Consequently, theponencia declared that "petitioner is a
QUALIFIED CANDIDATE for President in the 9 May 2016 National Elections." There is, however, no constitutional or statutory
provision empowering this Court to initially decide the qualifications of presidential and vice-presidential candidates before the
elections. Under Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution, 12 the jurisdiction of the Court vests only if there is an "election contest,"
which means after the elections as held in Tecson v. COMELEC. 13 In Tecson, the Court expressly ruled:
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."

xxx xxx xxx

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

xxx xxx xxx

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 Vice-President.
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. In such context, the election contest can only contemplate a post-election 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. 14 (Boldfacing and underscoring supplied)

Justices Bersamin and Mendoza fully concurred in the ponencia without any qualifications. Justice Velasco limited his
concurring opinion on the citizenship and residency issues without discussing the jurisdiction of the COMELEC, which silence
amounts to an unqualified concurrence in the ponencia with respect to the issue of jurisdiction.

The Chief Justice advanced the view that "Section 78 of . . . the Omnibus Election Code . . ., does not allow the
COMELEC to rule on the qualifications of candidates." 15She maintained that "a Section 78 proceeding must deal solely with 'patent
defects in the certificates' and not the question of eligibility or ineligibility." 16 She further declared that the COMELEC "exceeded
[its] limited authority . . . when it determined petitioner's intrinsic qualifications, not on the basis of uncontroverted fact, but on
questions of law." 17 However, noting the "factual milieu of this case and its significance to the upcoming electoral exercise" 18 and
the fact that "the dissents have already gone to the intrinsic qualifications of petitioner," 19 the Chief Justice nevertheless addressed
lengthily the citizenship and residency issues as well. aDSIHc

Justice Leonen maintained that "should the [COMELEC] be allowed to take cognizance of all petitions questioning the
eligibility of a candidate, [t]he provisions of the Constitution on the jurisdiction of the electoral tribunals over election contests would
be rendered useless." 20 Justice Leonen further declared that the COMELEC "had no jurisdiction under Section 78 of the Omnibus
Election Code to rule on the nature of citizenship of petitioner." 21

The six dissenting Justices, namely, Justice Carpio, Justice Leonardo-De Castro, Justice Brion, Justice Del Castillo,
Justice Reyes, and Justice Perlas-Bernabe upheld the jurisdiction of the COMELEC to cancel or deny due course to a COC which
necessarily entails a preliminary determination of a candidate's qualifications. While concurring with the ponencia, Justice
Jardeleza asserted that the COMELEC possesses such jurisdiction.
Justice Leonardo-De Castro opined that the COMELEC has jurisdiction over petitions to deny due course to or cancel
COCs, and not the electoral tribunals, which exercise jurisdiction "over election contests only after a candidate has already been
proclaimed winner in an election." 22 If we were to follow the ponencia's reasoning, "the Court is as good as amending the [Omnibus
Election Code] by deleting Section 78 thereof there can no longer be a petition [to deny] due course to or [cancel a] COC
because the COMELEC has now been disallowed to look into the issue of whether or not a candidate has made a false claim as to
her/his material qualifications for the elective office that she/he aspires for. That a Section 78-petition would naturally look into the
candidate's qualification is expected of the nature of such petition." 23

Justice Brion explained that "[i]f we were to follow the ponencia's limitation on the COMELEC's function to determine Poe's
eligibility to become President in a Section 78 proceeding, the logical result would be that even this Court itself cannot rule on Poe's
citizenship and residence eligibilities in the course of reviewing a Section 78 COMFLEC ruling; any declaration regarding these
issues would be obiter dictum." 24

Justice Del Castillo opined that a "petition under Section 78 seeks to cancel a candidate's CoC before there has been an
election and proclamation. Such a petition is within the Comelec's jurisdiction as it is 'the sole judge of all pre-proclamation
controversies.'" 25

Justice Perlas-Bernabe, with whom Justice Reyes concurred, stated that based on the Constitution and jurisprudence,
"there is no perceivable restriction which qualifies the exercise of the COMELEC's adjudicatory power to declare a candidate
ineligible and thus, cancel his/her CoC with the need of a prior determination coming from a 'proper authority.'" 26

Justice Jardeleza stated that "[t]he reason why the COMELEC . . . is allowed to determine a candidate's constitutional and
statutory eligibility prior to the election is not difficult to fathom." 27 There is a "legitimate value in shielding the electorate from an
ineligible candidate." 28 Besides, there are fiscal considerations for such a remedy.

In holding that the COMELEC lacked jurisdiction to determine in the same cancellation case the qualifications of a
candidate, a view shared by the Chief Justice, Justice Velasco, Justice Peralta, Justice Bersamin, Justice Mendoza, Justice
Leonen, and Justice Caguioa, the ponencia unceremoniously ignores established jurisprudence 29 and unreasonably restricts the
COMELEC's jurisdiction vested by the Constitution.

Section 2 (1), Article IX-C of the Constitution empowered the COMELEC to "enforce and administer all laws and
regulations relative to the conduct of elections . . . ." Section 2 (3), Article IX-C of the Constitution authorized the COMELEC to
"decide . . . all questions affecting elections, . . . ."

Pursuant to its constitutional mandate, the COMELEC can initially determine the qualifications of all candidates and
disqualify those found lacking any of such qualifications before the conduct of the elections. In fact, under Section 69 of the
Omnibus Election Code, the COMELEC is empowered to motu proprio cancel COCs of nuisance candidates. To divest the
COMELEC of its power to purge the electoral process of ineligible candidates renders the COMELEC inutile to "enforce and
administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of elections" and to "decide all questions affecting elections."

In Tecson v COMELEC, 30 the Court upheld the COMELEC's jurisdiction to determine preliminarily the eligibility of
presidential candidates in a Section 78 proceeding. In sustaining the COMELEC's jurisdiction, the Court dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction and prematurity the petitions filed directly by Tecson, et al. with the Court since the Court's jurisdiction over presidential
election contests can only be invoked after the elections. The Court held:
(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 latter's capacity as the only tribunal to resolve a presidential and vice-
presidential election contest under the Constitution. Evidently, the primary jurisdiction of the Court can directly be invoked only
after, not before, the elections are held.

In Ongsiako Reyes v. COMELEC, 31 Justice Perez, who was the ponente in that case and the same ponente in this case,
affirmed the COMELEC's jurisdiction to determine the qualifications of a candidate in a Section 78 proceeding. In upholding the
COMELEC's cancellation of the COC of Ongsiako Reyes, Justice Perez stated:
According to petitioner, the COMELEC was ousted of its jurisdiction when she was duly proclaimed because
pursuant to Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, the HRET has the exclusive jurisdiction to be the "sole judge of all
contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications" of the Members of the House of Representatives.

Contrary to petitioner's claim, however, the COMELEC retains jurisdiction for the following reasons:

First, the HRET does not acquire jurisdiction over the issue of petitioner's qualifications, as well as over the assailed
COMELEC Resolutions, unless a petition is duly filed with said tribunal. Petitioner has not averred that she has filed such
action. ETHIDa
Second, the jurisdiction of the HRET begins only after the candidate is considered a Member of the House of
Representatives, as stated in Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution:

xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, with his ponencia in this case, Justice Perez contradicted his own conclusion in Ongsiako Reyes on the COMELEC's
jurisdiction to initially determine the eligibility of candidates prior to the elections.

There is no conflict of jurisdiction since the powers of the COMELEC and the electoral tribunals are exercised on different
occasions and for different purposes. The jurisdiction of the electoral tribunals can only be invoked once the winning presidential,
vice presidential, senatorial or congressional candidates have been proclaimed. 32Obviously, this involves an election contest which
contemplates a post-election scenario.

Prior to the elections, any question on a presidential candidate's qualifications must necessarily be resolved by the
COMELEC to safeguard the sanctity of the electoral process and protect the electorate from ineligible candidates. Otherwise, all
the nuisance presidential candidates, who were disqualified by this Court for being nuisance candidates, should now be allowed to
run and their qualifications to run for President can only be determined after the elections by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
Likewise, any presidential candidate, claiming to be a natural-born Filipino citizen, regardless of his or her dubious nationality, can
now run for President as his or her citizenship qualification can only be questioned after he or she wins the elections. This is the
inevitable absurd result of the majority's faulty reasoning.

ACCORDINGLY, I vote to GRANT the motions for reconsideration.

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J., dissenting:

The Decision dated March 8, 2016 annulled and set aside the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) December 1, 2015
and December 23, 2015 Resolutions in SPA Nos. 15-001 (DC); and, the December 11, 2015 and December 23, 2015 Resolutions
in 15-002 (DC), 15-007 (DC), and 15-139 (DC), which denied due course to and/or cancelled petitioner Poe's Certificate of
Candidacy (COC) for the position of President of the Republic of the Philippines. Said COMELEC resolutions were declared to
have been issued with grave abuse of discretion. At the outset, it must be emphasized that the citizenship qualification of petitioner
Poe failed to get the required majority vote of eight (8) Justices, out of the fifteen (15) Justices, none of whom inhibited or recused
himself or herself from the cases. I am constrained to refer to the "Decision" penned by Justice Jose Portugal Perez as
his ponencia, considering that not all the grounds adduced in the said ponencia were concurred in by a majority of the Justices.

After perusing the reasoned and meritorious arguments set forth by the respondents in their motions for
reconsideration 1 in this case, I find that compelling reasons exist for the Court to take a second hard look at this case and confront
head on the lingering questions raised against the ponencia's factual and legal underpinnings, instead of dismissing the motions in
a minute resolution.

I, therefore, reiterate my previous dissent and offer here a brief rumination on several significant points raised in
respondents' motions for reconsideration.

The Supreme Court's Jurisdiction on


Cases Involving Qualifications and
Eligibility of Presidential Candidates

I cannot subscribe to the view posited in the ponencia that under the last paragraph of Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987
Constitution 2 it is this Court alone, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, that has jurisdiction on the qualifications and
eligibility of candidates for President (and Vice-President) and only after the elections. It is true that it is the Court that has sole
original jurisdiction on contests relating to the qualifications of the President elect and the Vice-President elect after the conduct
of the elections in its capacity as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. However, this Court has jurisdiction to rule on the qualifications
of candidates prior to the elections within the strict parameters of review under a certiorari petition from a decision of the
COMELEC on that same subject of qualifications or eligibility of candidates, regardless of whether they are candidates for national
or local office. This has been the long standing state of the law and jurisprudence in this jurisdiction and no justification is offered by
the ponencia why the Court should depart from established doctrine.

The Jurisdiction of the COMELEC


to Rule on a Candidate's
Qualifications and Eligibility
One of the most controversial and radical pronouncements in the ponencia is that the COMELEC is not allowed and is not
vested with jurisdiction to make a finding on a candidate's qualification in Section 78 proceedings except when there is a prior
judgment by a competent court or in case of self-evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity and judicial confessions.

In Respondent Elamparo, et al.'s motion for reconsideration, they rightly contend that there is no legal basis to consider
this pronouncement as a majority decisionconsidering that nine (9) of the fifteen (15) Justices of the Court found the COMELEC to
have jurisdiction to rule on these qualifications. In addition to the six Justices who dissented from the ponencia, Justice Caguioa
(who is joined by Justice Peralta) and Justice Jardeleza issued opinions that the COMELEC should rule on these qualifications.
According to Justice Caguioa, the COMELEC has jurisdiction to check the accuracy of the material representations made in the
certificate of candidacy, but added that it also had jurisdiction to determine the existence of an intent to mislead. Justice Jardeleza's
position on this matter addresses the dire consequences of ruling otherwise:
We have already recognized that a Section 78 petition is one instance the only instance where the
qualifications of a candidate for elective office can be challenged before an election. Although the denial of due course to or the
cancellation of the COC is ostensibly based on a finding that the candidate made a material representation that is false, the
determination of the factual correctness of the representation necessarily affects eligibility. Essentially, the ground is lack of
eligibility under the pertinent constitutional and statutory provisions on qualifications or eligibility for public office, similar to a
petition for quo warranto which is a species of election contest. "The only difference between the two proceedings is that, under
Section 78, the qualifications for elective office are misrepresented in the COC and the proceedings must be initiated before the
elections, whereas a petition for quo warranto under Section 253 may be brought on the basis of two grounds (1) ineligibility
or (2) disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines, and must be initiated within ten days after the proclamation of the election
results." Put simply, the main distinction is the time the action is filed. If a person fails to file a Section 78 petition within the 25-
day period prescribed in the OEC, the election laws afford him another chance to raise the ineligibility of the candidate by filing
a petition for quo warranto. CAIHTE

The reason why the COMELEC, pursuant to a valid law, is allowed to determine a candidate's constitutional and
statutory eligibility prior to the election is not difficult to fathom. As earlier alluded to, there is legitimate value in shielding the
electorate from an ineligible candidate. In addition, there are sound fiscal considerations supporting this remedy. These include
the more efficient allocation of COMELEC's resources, ultimately funded by taxpayers' money, and a check on unnecessary
campaign spending, an activity with minimal economic utility. A contrary ruling could lead to the de facto disenfranchisement of
those who voted for a popular but ineligible candidate. The possibility of a constitutional and political crisis arising from such a
result is one we dare not risk. 3

Respondents likewise correctly assert that the jurisdiction of the COMELEC in a Section 78 proceeding to make a finding
on the presence or absence of a candidate's qualifications has been repeatedly established in a long line of cases, at the very
least, preliminarily, which glaringly includes the recent Ongsiako-Reyes v. COMELEC 4 andCerafica v. COMELEC 5 that are both
penned by Justice Perez. Not one of these cases require a prior finding by a competent authority as to the said qualifications
before the COMELEC can rule on them.

Respondents further elucidate the meaninglessness of the exceptions adduced by the ponencia with respect to the
jurisdiction of the COMELEC to rule on the qualifications of the candidate. If we were to adhere to the ponencia's theory that there
is no authorized proceeding to pass upon the qualifications of candidates for President prior to an election and that the COMELEC
may not pass upon such question unless there is a prior judgment of disqualification, how then can such a prior judgment of
disqualification be secured to support an action under Section 78? If the competent authority which is supposed to make a prior
finding on said qualifications has not been established by any law or jurisprudence, there is no way such a prior final determination
of ineligibility can be obtained. Notably, the ponencia of Justice Perez did not identify the competent authority and appropriate
remedy where the citizenship and residence qualifications of petitioner Poe can be determined prior to the filing of a petition to deny
due course to or cancel her certificate of candidacy before the COMELEC.

Furthermore, self-evident facts are legally defined as those needing no demonstration or explanation. All material
representations properly covered by Section 78 cannot be self-evident, according to respondents. They cite as an example a
representation as to a candidate's age which needs proof of the date of birth such as a Certificate of Live Birth. Thus, I fully agree
with respondents that the conditions laid out in the ponencia prior to the exercise of the COMELEC's constitutional mandate to
enforce election laws, particularly laws on qualifications and eligibility of candidates, are unrealistic and ineffectual for their utter
lack of basis in law, rules of procedure and jurisprudence. On this point, the ponencia of Justice Perez ventured on unprecedented
doctrines without any explanation how they can be applied to the specific issues of citizenship and residence of petitioner Poe.

In any event, it should be clarified that, notwithstanding the pronouncements made in the ponencia on this point, a close
scrutiny of the votes and separate opinions of the Members of the Court show that a decisive majority of nine voted to uphold the
COMELEC's jurisdiction to pass upon the qualifications and eligibility of candidates prior to the elections without the imposition of
the above-mentioned preconditions to its exercise of jurisdiction.
Natural-born Citizenship by
Statistical Probability

I also cannot but passionately stress my disagreement from the ruling of the ponencia that petitioner Poe's citizenship can
be established by resorting to the use of statistical probabilities. While this resort to statistical probabilities could be brushed aside
for lack of legal foundation, I am compelled to point out the absurdity of this ruling, which has been relied upon to support the
natural-born citizenship of petitioner Poe.

As argued by the respondents, the ponencia inappropriately relied on statistical probability to justify the finding that
petitioner Poe is a natural-born Filipino. Statistical probability cannot be used to directly establish a controverted material fact in
issue, more so in an issue as significant as natural-born citizenship. Justice Perez inappropriately invoked Section 4, Rule 128 of
the Rules of Court. There is no natural-born citizenship by probability under the Constitution. Citizenship must be established as a
fact. Statistics are not even matters that may be subject to judicial notice. Most importantly, the statistics cited in the ponencia are
wholly immaterial to the case at bar since they pertained to children born in the Philippines or children born specifically in the
province of Iloilo during the years between 1960 and 1975, as well as the adult male and female populations of Filipinos and
foreigners in the said province. Anent the statistics cited on the number of children born in the Philippines, the same should not
have been applied to petitioner Poe as there is no evidence in this case that she was in fact born in this country. As pointed out by
the respondents, petitioner Poe never even alleged that she was born in the Philippines because her birthplace was admittedly not
known to her. All that she alleged was that she was found in the Philippines with unknown parents. DETACa

The ponencia's reliance on statistical probability cannot ever be made a judicial precedent in deciding future cases
involving the natural-born citizenship of a foundling. For sure, the statistics vary from place to place and across different periods of
time. And so the question to be asked is: what specific percentage of the factors alluded to would be acceptable before a foundling
born in a specific location can be considered a natural-born citizen? Would it also be 99.83% as ruled in this case or perhaps a
specific range of percentage values? Would 90%-95% be sufficient? Even stretching the illustration further, should we grant a
foundling's claim to natural-born citizenship if there is a 70% probability of being born to at least one Filipino parent? What if the
foundling belonged to the 0.17% or 5% or 10% or 30% of those not born to Filipino parents, which is also a possibility or a
probability that cannot be discounted? Statistical probability is just that a probability, which the Constitution never contemplated.
Quite apart from the absurd consequences that may arise from the use of statistics to establish blood relationship or filiation,
the ponencia plainly failed to present a definite standard by which its ruling on the use of statistics can be applied in similar cases.
This is so as it is beyond the ambit of the Court's constitutional authority or competence to do. Hence, I affirm my previous position
on this matter that statistical probability should not be used to determine natural-born citizenship for its sheer preposterousness.

Moreover, I am of the same mind as respondents that it is the height of unfairness to ascribe grave abuse of discretion on
the part of the COMELEC on the basis of the statistical evidence that was not presented before it. The COMELEC, along with the
other respondents, were not given an opportunity to adequately impeach said evidence, which was only brought to the attention of
the Court during the oral arguments of this case.

No Majority Vote on the Citizenship


Qualification of Petitioner

There is undeniable merit to respondents' position that there was no majority vote on the issue of petitioner Poe's natural-
born citizenship. Only seven (7) of the fifteen (15) Justices of the Court declared her to be a natural-born Filipino citizen. Justice
Del Castillo, Justice Caguioa and Justice Peralta voted to defer making a definitive determination on the issue off petitioner Poe's
citizenship. A vote can take different forms and it is not limited to an affirmative or a negative vote. The said Justices did not recuse
nor inhibit themselves from voting on the substantive issue of citizenship. Considering that all the fifteen (15) Justices not twelve
(12) took part in the deliberations of the issues and voted thereon, it is pure dissembling to assert that only a majority of seven
(7) is required to resolve the issue.

The net effect of the lack of a majority vote on petitioner's citizenship is a decision that disposes only the issue of whether
petitioner may run but nonetheless leaves her natural-born citizenship still open to question. Verily, the ponencia has no doctrinal
value on the matter of petitioner's citizenship. Any reference in the ponencia on citizenship is obiter dictum since the primary
premise of the ponencia is that the COMELEC had no jurisdiction to pass upon the qualifications of a candidate for President
unless there is a prior determination of the qualifications of the candidate by a competent authority and/or that the issue of
qualifications should be resolved by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal after the elections. Ergo, the ponencia could not have ruled
on the merits of the citizenship or residence qualifications of petitioner Poe.
Following the ponencia's premise, it was premature to pass upon the said qualifications before the elections. Still,
the ponencia went on to rule on the qualifications of petitioner Poe, which is in direct contradiction of the main proposition relied
upon by the ponencia that the COMELEC and this Court cannot pass upon the qualifications of petitioner Poe before the elections.

I see no legal or practical purpose for postponing the categorical resolution of this issue until after the elections since
under existing jurisprudence 6 where the winning candidate is found to be disqualified or ineligible to hold office, an election victory
will not erase such disqualification or ineligibility. The delay in the disposition of the citizenship issue will only invite uncertainty and
instability in the conduct of the coming elections.

In sum, I reiterate my previous Dissenting Opinion that petitioner Poe, who was a foundling with unknown parents is not a
natural-born citizen. To hold otherwise as the ponencia submits is a patent violation of the clear language of the Constitution and
would amount to an unwarranted amendment of the provision of the Constitution on citizenship. Moreover, petitioner Poe has not
complied with the 10-year residence requirement to run for the highest political office in the land. Her representation that she
was born to Filipino parents when she applied for her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, which became her basis for claiming
natural-born citizenship when she filed her certificate of candidacy was false and was intended to mislead to enable her to avail
herself of the benefits of Republic Act No. 9225 and to be qualified to run for President. The same conclusion holds true with
respect to her representation under oath as to her 10-year residency, which contradicts her own representations in two previous
instances. aDSIHc

I therefore maintain my dissent and vote to GRANT the Motions for Reconsideration of the Decision dated March 8, 2016.

BRION, J., dissenting:

I. INTRODUCTION

I.A. The Court's Ruling on Reconsideration

After the Court's main ruling in this case was announced and promulgated, a lot of questions were raised about the
meaning, significance, and impact of our Decision. A particular question asked was did the Court declare Grace Poe qualified to
run for the Presidency? A running debate in fact ensued in the media between Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes A. Sereno and Senior
Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio on whether the Court, under the ruling and the Justices' votes, effectively declared Grace Poe a
natural-born citizen of the Philippines.

Expectedly, the respondents Estrella C. Elamparo (Elamparo), Francisco S. Tatad (Tatad), Antonio P.
Contreras (Contreras), and Amado D. Valdez (Valdez) filed their motions for reconsideration, followed by the Commission on
Elections (COMELEC) which filed its own. They raised a host of questions about the Decision constitutional, substantive,
procedural, statutory, on international law, and even questions on the logic and the reasoning of the Decision.

No less than the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) expressed its misgivings about the Court's ruling 1 because of
the tenor of its dispositive portion and the opinions of the different Justices. 2 Even legal academicians 3 and netizens in
newspapers and the web, expressed their concerns.

The Philippine Bar Association (PBA) likewise expressed their "grave concern on the recent ruling of the Honorable
Supreme Court," as the ruling failed "to resolve legal issues with clarity and certainty such that more questions are raised than
answered, the Rule of Law is not served well." It continued that "worse, when the ruling of the Supreme Court portends a looming
constitutional crisis with the possibility of a person elected by our people on mere presumption of eligibility, potentially being ousted
from office by a majority vote of the Supreme Court, the resulting mandate is weakened from inception, the balance of power
among the great branches of government is upset, and the contentious issue of succession comes to fore." 4

At the Court's first meeting in Baguio for its Summer Session, one of the items taken up was the Grace Poe case. In the
usual course, the respondent would have been required to comment on the motions for reconsideration filed. At the very least,
a ponente who is disposed to deny the motions would have issued a resolution explaining the majority's positions on the issues
raised. This approach would have been the most responsible and rational to take, given the interest that the case has aroused and
the fact that the issues raised were far from insignificant, involving as they do no less than

our Constitution, our laws, and their continued integrity; CAIHTE

the qualifications for the Presidency as the highest office in the land;

the Court itself that the public relies upon as the Guardian of the Constitution and the Gatekeeper in ensuring that
grave abuse of discretion does not exist in the public service and in governance; and, last but not the least,
the exercise of the sovereignty of our people through the ballot and their right to have the ultimate say on matters of
sovereignty and governance.

Topmost among all these is the Constitution, simply because it is the Contract on which our nation is founded and
governed, and is the ultimate fountainhead of all the powers, rights, and obligations that exist in this nation; our people themselves
promulgated this Constitution and link with one another and with the rest of the country through it. It should thus he respected to
the utmost, with an awe that is no less than what we owe to the Filipino nation itself. Issues on presidency come close behind as
the President is the leader on whose mind, heart, and hands may depend the future of the country for the next six years.

To our surprise (at least, those of us who dissented from the majority's ruling), the ponente simply recommended to the
Court en banc the outright dismissal of the motions for reconsideration through a Minute Resolution, i.e.. a simple resolution
denying the motions for reconsideration for lack of merit.

We pointedly asked if the ponente would write an extended resolution that would at least explain the reason/s for the
outright denial. The answer was a simple "No," thus, clearly indicating that the majority was simply banking on force of numbers,
although Members of the majority (not the ponente) reserved the right to write their concurring opinions, after the dissenting
Justices confirmed that they would write theirs. In other words, no extended ruling and reasoning can be read by the public as
a ponencia coming from the Court.

Indeed, this was a very strange stance coming from the Members of a Court whose Decision has keen questioned by
different sectors for the confusion it sowed, and whose avowed mission, among others, is to educate the bench, the bar, and
members of the public on matters of law. It should not be forgotten, too, that the Court has been entrusted with the care,
interpretation, and application of the Constitution.

The least that a responsible and conscientious Court can do when faced with questions relating to the Constitution is to
honor this trust through competent, capable, and principled performance of its duties, particularly those touching on constitutional
issues and its relationship with the public it serves. That this approach did not take place shall, I am sure, lead to more questions
about the Court.

Under these circumstances, I can only conclude that this Court has not fully discharged its sworn duty in ruling on this
case. I give credit though to the present movants, among them the COMELEC itself, who, despite the ruling they received from this
Court, have been very careful in their language to describe the errors that they attribute to the majority's ruling. Their careful use of
words, though, could not hide what they felt about the challenged ponencia: that the Court itself has committed what the Court
would call "grave abuse of discretion" had it been reviewing a lower court ruling in a Rule 65 petition. aScITE

I do not and cannot begrudge the movants this feeling as I too feel that the Court has once again overstepped the bounds
allowed us as fallible human beings entrusted with a trust sacred to the nation. It is in this spirit that I write this Opinion to do my
duty 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," even if this abuse had been committed by
the Court itself.

This is not to say that, when so questioned, the Court must always yield to the challenge/s made, and respond by
retracting or retracing our steps. This is not the way of a responsible magistrate; ours is the duty that calls for a well-considered
appreciation of the exact issues before us, as well as the duty to rule justly and fairly on these issues based on the evidence before
us and on the competent, reasonable, and logical application of law and jurisprudence, all in accordance with the rule of law.

In a motion for reconsideration situation, this standard simply translates to being ready to take a hard and careful look at
the challenges posed, keeping in mind the role assigned to us under our constitutional scheme, particularly in an election situation:
we are not partisans with fixed objectives anchored on political self-interests; we are men and women of the law whose bias, if
any, should be for the stability of the nation's laws through their reasoned and logical interpretation and application. While we may
exercise our right to vote in our country's elections as our individual partisan inclinations direct us, we must rule as disciplined men
and women of the law whose obsession is to collectively guide the nation as it struggles through the thicket of legal
concerns that our nation perennially faces.

I.B. Brief Background of the Motions for Reconsideration.

These motions for reconsideration started from the petitions for cancellation of certificate of candidacy (CoC) separately
filed by the present movants Elamparo, Tatad, Contreras, and Valdez (movants). They petitioned the COMELEC for the cancellation
of Senator Grace Poe's CoC based on her allegedly false representation in her citizenship and residency qualifications; they
claimed that Poe is not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, and has not resided in the country for the required period of ten
(10) years.
The COMELEC granted the petitions and cancelled Poe's CoC, prompting Poe to come to this Court via a Rule 64/65
petition for certiorari on the allegation that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in ordering the cancellation.

The Court, through the ponencia of Justice Jose P. Perez, granted the petition with the support of nine (9) Justices and
with six (6) Justices in dissent.

Of the supporting Justices, five (5) explained their votes through separate opinions; Justices Lucas P. Bersamin and Jose
C. Mendoza fully joined the ponencia of Justice Jose P. Perez, while Justice Diosdado M. Peralta did not write his own opinion but
merely concurred with the Separate Opinion of Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa who joined the grant of the petition based on
the grave abuse of discretion that he saw, but opted not to rule on the citizenship issue. Thus, all or nine of the majority Justices
joined the finding of grave abuse of discretion, but only seven (or less than a majority) of the 15 justices voted to declare Poe a
natural-born citizen.

Five (5) of the six (6) dissenting Justices wrote their separate dissents, but Justice Mariano C. del Castillo did not also rule
on the citizenship issue (thus, only five [5] Justices dissented on the citizenship issue). All of the dissenting Justices ruled that the
COMELEC had the requisite jurisdiction to rule on the cancellation of CoC issue, as against the majority's ruling that the COMELEC
did not have jurisdiction, as expressed in the ponencia.

My dissent, however, also refuted the ponencia's declaration that Poe is qualified to be a candidate for President, under
the view that if the majority uniformly ruled that the COMELEC did not have the jurisdiction to cancel Poe's CoC (so that the
COMELEC ruling was void and carried no legal effect), the rulings the majority might have made on the citizenship and the
residency issues are obiter dicta or non-binding observations.

Beyond this ruling, I now hold in these motions for reconsideration that the Court's majority did not only err; in fact,
they gravely abused their discretion in their ruling as the ponencia:

(1) grossly misinterpreted the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the applicable laws on elections, and the rules of
procedure;

(2) disregarded and abandoned established jurisprudence without sufficient basis in law and in reason; and

(3) acted on considerations other than legal in making their ruling.

I expound on these gross errors in the discussions below.

II. THE PONENCIA's GROSSLY ERRONEOUS RULINGS

The Court, while it is Supreme, has never been intended to be infallible. It is composed of fallible human beings who can
err. It is only "supreme" because there is supposedly no court higher than the Supreme Court to which its errors may be appealed.
Left unwritten in this limited concept of supremacy is the unavoidable implication that the Court's power is not absolute, even in its
assigned area under the Constitution.

The Court, though Supreme, cannot simply disregard the clear terms of the Constitution and the laws, or at its whim,
change or abandon its past rulings which have become part of the law of the land, or without reason, refuse to take into account
standard norms of interpretation and application of the laws. These, unfortunately, were what the Court majority generally did in its
ruling in the present case. It acted outside the discretion the Constitution, the laws, and ordinary reason allow it:

when it rashly ruled that the COMELEC did not have the jurisdiction to cancel Poe's CoC and thereafter illogically and
unreasonably declared Poe qualified to be a candidate for the Presidency, the ponencia thereby disregarded:

- the constitutional rule on the nature of the orders and rulings of the COMELEC and their review, as well as the
power of the Supreme Court over these rulings; and

- the significance of the COMELEC rules on the cancellation of CoCs and the established jurisdiction on this
COMELEC power;

when it concluded that Poe an undisputed foundling is a natural-born Filipino citizen based on presumptions, on
unfounded reading and interpretation of international law, on circumstantial evidence that had not been
admitted, and by implication from the silent terms of the Constitution; the ponencia thereby:

- disregarded the clear terms of the 1935 Constitution on who are citizens of the Philippines and read into these
clear terms the citizenship of foundlings a matter that the Constitutional Convention already expressly
rejected;

- disregarded evidentiary rules that should apply;


- misread international law and the treaties/agreements applicable to the Philippines; and

- misappreciated the Court's ruling in Bengzon v. COMELEC 5 through its superficial and out-of-context
application.

When it ruled that Poe complied with the Constitution's residency requirements:

- By changing the constitutional meaning and requirements of the term "residence" and disregarding, without
sufficient basis in law and reason, the established jurisprudence on residency;

- by disregarding the nature of the political right that underlie the residency requirement, in the process
disregarding too the terms and effects of a balikbayan visa; aDSIHc

- by turning a blind eye on the effects and significance of Poe's 2012 CoC for the Senate, and simply accepting
the claim that Poe made an honest mistake in the representations she made; and

- by glossing over the "deliberate intent to mislead" aspects of the case in the representations that Poe made in
her current CoC.

To encapsulate the nature and immensity of all these errors, particularly those that made a mockery of the Constitution
and unsettled established rulings, I can only say that the Court's majority grossly violated the RULE OF LAW, thereby allowing
for the first time since July 4, 1946 the possibility that one who is not a natural-born Filipino citizen would occupy the highest
government post in the land.

Inevitably, the majority's abrupt and unprecedented reversal of settled jurisprudence has created problems both
immediate and lasting which needs to he addressed if this Court were to be true to its role as the "final arbiter" of legal disputes,
whether in government of in the private sector.

To be sure, the Court has the legal authority to reverse judicial precedents and in the process introduce new
jurisprudence, but it must do so with care and the knowledge that the doctrines it pronounces become part of the law of the land.
That we create jurisprudence binding upon lower courts and quasi-judicial agencies until reversed or modified should make us
mindful of our role in upholding the rule of law and maintaining the judicial legitimacy of our decisions.

In this light, I firmly believe that judicial precedent should be disregarded only for strong, compelling reasons
grounded on legal considerations. They are part of the building blocks and mortars that, if unceremoniously
and mindlessly removed, can bring down an edifice.

Sadly, I find that the legal bases used by the majority have been grossly and glaringly inconsistent as well as inadequate
to support its conclusions. These defects will inevitably impact on the present jurisdiction of the COMELEC, on the cases it has
decided, and on the jurisprudence on the interpretation and application of constitutional provisions.

I am not unaware that the majority may have considered values that allegedly apply to Poe's case, among them, the need
to empower foundlings in their exercise of civil and political rights reserved for Philippine citizens, and their assessment and belief
that Poe is the best candidate to run the country in the next six years.

Value judgments, however, should never supersede the clear text of the law. Lest we forget and become derailed by our
own personal political assessments and resulting convictions, our country is run under the rule of law, and not by what we perceive
the law should be. It is our cardinal duty, as Members of the highest Court of the land, to uphold and defend the ideals of the
sovereign Filipino nation as embodied in the Constitution, central to which is an independent, democratic government ran under the
rule of law.

In these lights, many of my arguments shall touch on the Rule of Law to highlight the need for mindful awareness of the
impact of what we say and declare in the decisions we write. I shall also frontally discuss what I find objectionable in
the ponencia as it is only through this means that we can bring to the public's awareness how we got to where we are now.

III. DISCUSSIONS

III.A. The Rule of Law.

The rule of law is the cornerstone of Philippine democracy and government. At its most basic, the rule of law is what it
literally purports to be governance through established laws, rather than through the arbitrary will of a select few.

In applying the law, the unvarying first step is to determine what is the Court's or any tribunal's jurisdiction over or authority
to intervene in the case; this determination dictates the approach in the consideration of the case before it. In the course of
reviewing a case, tools of construction may be used, which tools invariably command that above everything else, what is written in
law should be respected and upheld. We then further pursue the rule of law through the established procedure we observe in the
petitions before us, and through our practice of applying the law to the parties, taking care that its interpretation and application are
even for all persons, regardless of power, riches, or fame they may have.

To adjudicate, particularly on matters that involve the language of the law, knowledge and facility with the rules of statutory
and constitutional construction are a must. This skill directs us to first look at the text of the law, before resorting to extrinsic aids of
interpretation. Thus, for statutes, the cardinal rule to observe is that "verba legis non est recedendum or from the words of a statute
there should be no departure." 6 Constitutional construction, on the other hand, tells us of "verba legis," that is, wherever possible,
the words used in the Constitution must be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed. 7 It is only
when ambiguity in the text cannot be resolved from the examination of the text itself that we are allowed to look outside, from
extrinsic aids of construction, to determine the intent and real meaning of the rules we interpret and apply. 8

I bring these all up as to me, they are the critical elements of adjudication that would have helped us resolve the present
case expeditiously and with certain results.

III.B. The Jurisdiction of the COMELEC

III.B.1. The Ponencia's Ruling on COMELEC Jurisdiction.

In my original dissent, I painstakingly specified the rulings I objected to and even quoted the ponencia verbatim lest I be
accused of twisting its statements. I summarize the ponencia's ruling on the COMELEC's jurisdiction, as follows:
(1) the COMELEC did not have the authority to rule on Poe's citizenship and residency qualifications as these
qualifications have not yet been determined by the proper authority;

(2) since there is no such prior determination as to Poe's qualifications, there is no basis for a finding that Poe's
representations are false; and

(3) while a candidate's CoC may be cancelled without prior disqualification finding from the proper authority, the
issues involving Poe's citizenship and residency do not involve self-evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity
from which the falsity of representation could have been determined.

To support these rulings, the ponencia argued that the COMELEC lacked the jurisdiction to cancel Poe's CoC
because:

First, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution on the COMELEC's jurisdiction has no specific provision authorizing it to rule on
the qualification of the President, Vice President, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, while Article VI, Section
17 and Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution specifically entrusts contest involving the qualifications of Senators and
Members of the House of Representatives, and of the President and Vice-President, to the jurisdiction of the Senate Electoral
Tribunal (SET), the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), and the Presidential Electoral
Tribunal (PET) respectively. 9

Second, Fermin v. Comelec, 10 citing the Separate Opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in Romualdez-Marcos v.
Comelec, 11 noted that "the lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be supplied by a mere
rule." 12 This view was adopted in the revision of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure in 2012, as reflected in the changes made in
the 2012 Rules from the 1993 Rules of Procedure. 13

The ponencia thus read Fermin and the 2012 Rules of Procedure to mean that there is no authorized proceeding to
determine the qualifications of a candidate before the candidate is elected, 14 and that a CoC "cannot be cancelled or denied due
course on grounds of false representations regarding his or her qualifications without a prior 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." 15 TIADCc

III.B.2. The ponencia's ruling on the COMELEC's jurisdiction is


grossly erroneous.

I disagree with both the results and the approach the ponencia made in ruling on the COMELEC jurisdiction issue. To my
mind, it effectively read a complex issue fromone very narrow perspective and ruled on the basis of that perspective. Worse, its
reading of the law and jurisprudence under its chosen perspective was not even legally correct.

The law, supported by the Constitution and jurisprudence, has empowered the COMELEC to cancel the CoC of
candidates based on their false material representations in these CoCs. It is this existing basic and established rule that
the ponencia has emasculated.
I shall answer the two points the ponencia raised and in the process discuss the considerations that a responsible ruling
should have made.

III.B.2(a). The required Perspective in Considering the


Constitution.

A first consideration that the ponencia missed in considering the jurisdiction of the COMELEC is the cardinal rule in
constitutional adjudication that the Constitution should be read in its totality, not by simply reading specific provisions and coming
up with rulings and conclusions based on these bits and pieces of the Constitution and the laws.

Had the Constitution in its totality been read, the ponencia would have seen that under our constitutional scheme and
structure, the COMELEC is an independent commission an agency with a task all its own that it must undertake and deliver to
the Filipino people in the exercise of its reasonable discretion.

Thus, instead of simply quoting Article IX-C, Section 2 of the Constitution and literally reading it in relation with Article VI,
Section 17, the ponente's duty as a magistrate would have been better served had he looked deeper into the Constitution's power
structures and history, to find out how these provisions interact or were meant to interact with one another.

III.B.2(a)(i). COMELEC v. PET/SET/HRET: A Comparison:

To be sure, the ponencia correctly observed that the qualifications of the Members of the Senate and of the House of
Representatives, as well as those of the President and the Vice-President, all fall within the jurisdiction of the SET, the HRET, and
the PET, respectively, and that the authority to rule has been withheld from the COMELEC under the Constitution.

This kind of superficial reading, however, cannot be the end and totality of a comparison between the COMELEC, on the
one hand, and the SET, HRET, and the PET, on the other hand. The ponencia should have appreciated that this kind of comparison
is more than anything else, an apple and orange comparison that carries very little relevance in constitutional adjudication.

The COMELEC is tasked with the enforcement and administration of the election laws, and these tasks end after a
winning candidate is proclaimed (at least under the jurisprudence before Ongsiako-Reyes v. COMELEC 16 that the ponente, Justice
Jose P. Perez, also wrote for the Court); the other three agencies, on the other hand, acquire jurisdiction only after elections, i.e.,
after a candidate shall have been proclaimed.

III.B.2(a)(ii) Jurisprudence: Ongsiako-Reyes & Others.

Thus, all matters, except only the right to vote and those given elsewhere by law, are within the jurisdiction of the
COMELEC before elections. 17 This jurisdiction includes the authority to rule on the cancellation of CoCs filed before it under
Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC). 18 Clearly established jurisprudence has supported the validity of Section 78 by
ruling that the COMELEC indeed has the authority to cancel COCs based on the false material representation made in their CoCs.
A representation on citizenship or residency is material because they involve the qualifications of the candidate, and any falsity on
either matter is ground for the cancellation of a CoC.

Interestingly, this was the basis of the ponente's own ruling in the Ongsiako-Reyes case when he upheld the
COMELEC's cancellation of Ongsiako-Reyes' CoC on the ground that she was a naturalized American citizen and had not
resided in the Philippines for the requisite period.

In the present case, the ponencia now surprisingly and without any reasonably acceptable legal basis holds that
the COMELEC has no jurisdiction to rule on a CoC cancellation on the basis of citizenship and/or residency . Coming as
this ruling does in a presidential election where an allegedly non-Filipino and survey-leading candidate would be favored, this is
a flip-flop of far-reaching proportions that the ponencia should have fully explained.

To highlight the immensity of the problem that the ponencia spawned and will spawn in pending and future election cases,
the rule that the Court established inOngsiako-Reyes holds:
Lest it be misunderstood, the denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC is not based on the lack of
qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material representation that is false, which may relate to the
qualifications required of the public office he/she is running for. It is noted that the candidate states in his/her CoC that
he/she is eligible for the office he/she seeks. Section 78 of the OEC, therefore, is to be read in relation to the
constitutional and statutory provisions on qualifications or eligibility for public office. If the candidate subsequently
states a material representation in the CoC that is false, the COMELEC, following the law, is empowered to deny due course to
or cancel such certificate. Indeed, the Court has already likened a proceeding under Section 78 to a quo warranto proceeding
under Section 253 of the OEC since they both deal with the eligibility or qualification of a candidate, with the distinction mainly
in the fact that a "Section 78" petition is filed before proclamation, while a petition for quo warranto is filed after proclamation of
the wining candidate. 19 [emphases, italics, and underscoring supplied] AIDSTE
In Cerafica v. Comelec, 20 the Court, again speaking through Justice Jose Perez, held that the COMELEC gravely abused
its discretion in holding that Kimberly Cerafica (a candidate for councilor) did not file a valid CoC and subsequently cannot be
substituted by Olivia Cerafica. Kimberly's CoC is considered valid unless its contents (that includes data on her eligibility) is
impugned through a Section 78 proceeding. As Kimberly's CoC had not undergone a Section 78 proceeding, then her CoC
remained valid and she could be properly substituted by Olivia. In so doing, the Court quoted and reaffirmed its previous ruling
in Luna v. COMELEC: 21
"If Hans Roger made a material misrepresentation as to his date of birth or age in his certificate of candidacy, his
eligibility may only be impugned through a verified petition to deny due course to or cancel such certificate of candidacy under
Section 78 of the Election Code." 22 [italics supplied]

The ponencia disregarded the following cases shown in the table below where the Court previously recognized the
COMELEC's jurisdiction to cancel candidates' CoCs for false material representation in their eligibility for office.

(Cases involving Section 78 since the year 2012 the year the COMELEC amended its Rules of Procedure.)

Case Ponente, Ruling


Division

Aratea v. Comelec, Carpio, J. En banc


G.R. No. 195229 The Court affirmed the Comelec's determination
October 9, 2012 that Lonzanida has served for three terms already
and therefore misrepresented his eligibility to run
for office: this, according to the Court; is a ground
for cancelling Lonzanida's CoC under Section 78.
Maquiling v. Sereno, CJ, En banc
Comelec, G.R. No. The Court reversed the Comelec's determination
195649, April 16, of the Arnado's qualification to run for office

2013 because of a recanted oath of allegiance, and thus

cancelled his CoC and proclaimed Maquiling as


the winner. The Court, in reviewing the Comelec's
determination, did not dispute its capacity to
determine Arnado's qualifications.
Ongsiako Reyes v. Perez, J., En Banc
Comelec, G.R. No. The Court affirmed the Comelec's evaluation and
207264, June 25, determination that Ongsiako-Reyes is not a
2013 Philippine citizen and a resident of the Philippines.
It even upheld the Comelec's cognizance of "newly-
discovered evidence" and held that the Comelec can
liberally construe its own rules of procedure for the
speedy disposition of cases before it.

Cerafica v. Perez, J. En Banc The Court held that the Comelec gravely abused its
Comelec, G.R. discretion in holding that Kimberly did not file a
No. 205136 valid CoC and subsequently cannot be substituted
December 2, 2014 by Olivia; in so doing, the Court quoted and
reaffirmed its previous ruling in Luna v. Comelec,
thus:
"If Hans Roger made a material misrepresentation
as to his date of birth or age in his certificate of
candidacy, his eligibility may only be impugned
through a verified petition to deny due course to or
cancel such certificate of candidacy under Section
78 of the Election Code."

Luna v. Comelec, Carpio, J. En Banc Since Hans Roger withdrew his certificate of
G.R. No. 165983 candidacy and the COMELEC found that Luna
April 24, 2007 complied with all the procedural requirements for
(cited as reference a valid substitution, Luna can validly substitute
to its affirmation in for Hans Roger.
Cerafrica) xxx xxx xxx

If Hans Roger made a material misrepresentation


as to his date of birth or age in his certificate of
candidacy, his eligibility may only be impugned
through a verified petition to deny due course to or
cancel such certificate of candidacy under Section
78 of the Election Code.

In this case, there was no petition to deny due


course to or cancel the certificate of candidacy of
Hans Roger. The COMELEC only declared that
Hans Roger did not file a valid certificate of
candidacy and, thus, was not a valid candidate in
the petition to deny due course to or cancel Luna's
certificate of candidacy. In effect, the COMELEC,
without the proper proceedings, cancelled Hans
Roger's certificate of candidacy and declared the
substitution by Luna invalid.

Notably, the writers of these tabulated cases, other than Justice Jose P. Perez, are the two highest ranking Justices of this Court
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P.A. Serenoand Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio. Significantly, Chief Justice Sereno
herself joined the ponencia.

The sad part in the present Grace Poe ruling is that the ponencia did not clearly and convincingly reason out why the case
of Grace Poe should be differently treated. This kind of treatment gives a mischievous mind the opportunity to ask

why should Grace Poe be differently treated under the law?

what is so special in her case that the prevailing ruling should be abandoned and the COMELEC's exercise of authority
in elections put at risk without sufficient basis in law and in reason?

were the COMELEC rulings under review so strong and difficult to reverse under the grave abuse of discretion standard,
so that the rug had to be pulled under the COMELEC through the position that it has no authority to undertake
the CoC cancellation?

III.B.2(b) The COMELEC's authority as a


Separate and Independent Body.

Likewise interesting to note is that a court's or tribunal's ruling on citizenship, as a general rule, does not have the effect
of res judicata, especially when the citizenship ruling is only antecedent to the determination of rights of a person in a
controversy. 23

In other words, the COMELEC can conduct its own inquiry regarding citizenship, separate from and independently of the
proceedings of the PET, SET, or HRET. As a means necessary in the granted power to cancel CoCs, the COMELEC is given the
means to carry this power into effect, particularly the power, even if only preliminarily and for the purpose only of the cancellation
proceedings, to delve into the eligibility aspect that is at issue.

In the present case, the COMELEC, in order to decide whether Poe's CoC should be cancelled, should be able to inquire
into her citizenship and residency matters that both parties fully argued before the COMELEC on the basis of law and their
respective evidentiary submissions. (The Court, too, during the oral arguments on this case, minutely inquired into the evidence
submitted.) Courts, including quasi-judicial agencies such as the COMELEC, may make pronouncements on the status of
Philippine citizenship as an incident in the adjudication of the rights of the parties to a controversy.

In making its determination, the COMELEC is not bound by the PET, SET, or HRET's decision since these
constitutional bodies are separate and independent from one another, each with its own specific jurisdiction and issues
to resolve. The COMELEC, as a constitutional body equipped with DECISIONAL AND INSTITUTIONAL INDEPENDENCE and
tasked to implement election laws, has the authority to determine citizenship, even if only on a preliminary matter, to determine
whether the candidate committed false material representation in his or her CoC. The PET, SET, or HRET, on the other hand, are
constitutional bodies tasked to resolve all contests involving the eligibility of the President, the Vice-President, the Senators, and the
House of Representative Members, respectively, after their proclamation. AaCTcI

That these bodies have separate, distinct, and different jurisdictions mean that none of them has the authority nor the
ascendancy over the others, with each body supreme in its own sphere of authority. Conversely, these bodies have no
ascendancy to rule upon issues outside their respective specific authority, much less the authority to bind other bodies on matters
outside their respective jurisdictions. (The only exception to this statement would be the PET where the members of the Supreme
Court themselves are the Members, but whether their rulings as PET are doctrinal is not a settled matter.) The decision of the PET,
SET, or HRET, with their specific jurisdictions to resolve contests involving the qualifications of the President, Vice-President,
Senators, or the House of Representative Members, does not have the authority to bind the COMELEC, another constitutional body
with a specific mission and jurisdiction of its own. Only the ruling of this Court can have this effect, and only because under
the Constitution and by law, its rulings form part of the law of the land. 24

III.B.2(c) The COMELEC and the PET.

III.B.2(c)(i) Their Brief Histories

The PET was a statutory creation that came into existence in 1957 in response to the perceived absence of any tribunal
that could rule on presidential and vice-presidential election controversies. It firmly became a constitutional body under the 1987
Constitution with the Justices of the Supreme Court as Members. Presently, this Court, sitting en banc, is the sole judge of all
contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President.

The grant of jurisdiction to the PET is exclusive but at the same time, limited. The constitutional phraseology limits the
PET's jurisdiction to election contests which can only contemplate a post-election and post-proclamation controversy 25 since
no "contest" can exist before a winner is proclaimed. Understood in this sense, the jurisdiction of the members of the Court, sitting
as PET, does not pertain to Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidates but to the President (elect) and Vice-President (elect).

In contrast, the COMELEC was created in 1940, initially by statute whose terms were later incorporated as an amendment
to the 1935 Constitution. The COMELEC was given the power to decide, save those involving the right to vote,
all administrative questions affecting elections.

When the 1973 Constitution was adopted, this COMELEC's powers were retained with the same limitations.

The 1987 Constitution deleted the adjective "administrative" in the description of the COMELEC's powers and expanded
its jurisdiction to decide all questions affecting elections, except those involving the right to vote. Thus, unlike the very limited
jurisdiction over election contests granted to the Supreme Court/PET, the COMELEC's jurisdiction, with its catch-all provision, is all
encompassing; it covers all questions/issues not specifically reserved for other tribunals.

The Administrative Code of 1987 further explicitly granted the COMELEC exclusive jurisdiction over all pre-proclamation
controversies.

Section 78 of the OEC still further refined the COMELEC's power by expressly granting it the power to deny due course
or to cancel a Certificate of Candidacy on the ground of false material representation. Ex necessitate legis. Express grants of
power are deemed to include all powers that are necessary or can be fairly implied from the express grant, or are incidental to the
powers expressly conferred or essential thereto. This power under Section 78, therefore, necessarily includes the power to make a
determination of the truth or falsity of the material representation made in the CoC.
The bottom line from this brief comparison is that the power granted to the PET is limited to election contests while the
powers of the COMELEC with respect to elections are broad and extensive. Except for election contests involving the President or
Vice-President (and members of Congress) 26 and controversies involving the right to vote, the COMELEC has the jurisdiction to
decide ALL questions affecting elections. Logically, this includes pre-proclamation controversies such as the determination of the
qualifications of candidates for purpose of resolving whether a candidate committed false material representation in his or her CoC.

Thus, if this Court would deny the COMELEC the power to cancel CoCs of presidential candidates simply because the
COMELEC thereby effectively passes upon the qualifications of a Presidential candidate and on the ground that this power belongs
to the PET composed of the Members of this Court, we shall self-servingly expand the limited power granted to this Court by
Article VII, Section 4, at the expense of limiting the powers explicitly granted to an independent constitutional
commission. The Court would thus commit an unconstitutional encroachment on the COMELEC's powers.

This seemingly simple constitutional objection is one that the Court should carefully consider as this is what the
ponencia's ruling ultimately signifies.

III.B.2(c)(ii) Jurisprudence on COMELEC-PET Jurisdiction.

In Tecson v. Comelec, 27 the Court indirectly affirmed the COMELEC's jurisdiction over a presidential candidate's eligibility
in a cancellation proceeding. The case involved two consolidated petitions assailing the eligibility of presidential candidate
Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ): one petition, G.R. No. 161824, invoked the Court's certiorarijurisdiction under Rule 64 of the Rules of
Court over a COMELEC decision in a CoC cancellation proceeding, while the other, G.R. No. 161434, invoked the Court's
jurisdiction as PET. EcTCAD

The G.R. No. 161824 petition, in invoking the Court's jurisdiction over the COMELEC's decision to uphold FPJ's
candidacy, argued that the COMELEC's decision was within its power to render but its conclusion is subject to the Court's review
under Rule 64 of the Rules of Court and Article IX, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution.

In contrast, the G.R. No. 161434 petition argued that the COMELEC had no jurisdiction to decide a Presidential
candidate's eligibility, as this could only be decided by the PET. It then invoked the Court's jurisdiction in its role as PET, to rule on
the challenge to FPJ's eligibility.

The Court dismissed both petitions, but for different reasons. The Court dismissed G.R. No. 161824 for failure to show
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC. G.R. No. 161434 was dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

The difference in the reasons for the dismissal of the two petitions in effect affirmed the COMELEC's jurisdiction to
determine a Presidential candidate's eligibility in a pre-election proceeding through the medium Section 78. It also
clarified that while the PET also has jurisdiction over the questions of eligibility, its jurisdiction begins only after a
President has been proclaimed.

Thus, the two Tecson petitions, read in relation with one another, stand for the proposition that the PET has jurisdiction
over challenges to a proclaimed President's eligibility, while the COMELEC has jurisdiction over CoC cancellation proceedings, filed
prior to the proclamation of a President and which may involve the eligibility and qualifications of presidential candidates.

III.B.2(c)(iii) The Fermin and Romualdez-Marco Cases.

As its second point in its discussion of COMELEC jurisdiction, the ponencia rhetorically asks: Can the COMELEC be
such judge, referring to the COMELEC as a tribunal with jurisdiction over the question of qualifications of the President (at page 18
of the ponencia).

The ponencia answers the question by citing the Opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in Romualdez-Marcos v.
COMELEC, 28 which the Court en banc cited in Fermin v. COMELEC. 29

Unfortunately, the ponencia did not fully grasp the legal significance of these cases and the cited portions when it cited
them as authority for the view that there is no"authorized proceeding for determining before elections the qualifications of a
candidate."

The Fermin Ruling

Had the ponencia fully understood Fermin, it would have realized that this case is not a direct authority for the proposition
he wished to establish. Rather than negate the jurisdiction of the COMELEC in a Section 78 proceeding, Fermin like Tecson
in fact recognized the COMELEC's authority in these proceedings. The cited case, too, is not about a candidate's qualification for
the office he is running for, but about a Section 68 petition for disqualification and a Section 78 petition to deny due course or to
cancel a CoC (which was the petition that the COMELEC ruled upon in the present Grace Poe case).
"Disqualification" in the sense used in Fermin referred to Section 68 of the OEC that, in turn, relate to the commission of
prohibited acts and the possession of a permanent resident status in a foreign country as disqualifying grounds. The term carries
the same sense under Section 12 of the OEC that is based on the declaration of insanity or incompetence by competent authority,
or conviction by final judgement of specified crimes. The Local Government Code (LGC) also carries its own "disqualification"
provision that carries a similar signification.

Fermin further distinguishes "disqualification" from the cancellation of a CoC under Section 78 in terms of grounds (i.e., a
statement in the CoC of a material representation . . . that is false) and consequences. "While a person who is disqualified under
Section 68 is merely prohibited to continue as a candidate, the person whose certificate is cancelled or denied due course under
Section 78 is not treated as a candidate at all, as if he/she never filed a CoC."

A candidate may be prevented from running for an elective position either because he is ineligible or he is disqualified from
doing so. The remedy before electionto prevent a candidate who is ineligible or who lacks the qualification for running or to
become a candidate is to file a petition for cancellation of CoC under Section 78 of the OEC. 30 The cancellation, cognizable by the
COMELEC, requires that the material representation on qualification be false. Disqualification, as defined above, requires a prior
action or ruling with respect to the cited ground.

After examination of the cited grounds, the Court in Fermin concluded that the petition involved in the case was a petition
for cancellation of CoC, not a petition for disqualification, and held that it had been filed out of time. It furthermore ruled that a
candidate's ineligibility (based on lack of residence) is not a ground for a Section 68 proceeding for disqualification, despite a
COMELEC rule including the lack of residence in the list of grounds for a petition for disqualification.

These were the clear thrusts of Fermin, not the ponencia's partially correct but misunderstood statement that there is
no "authorized proceeding for determining before elections the qualifications of a candidate." To be sure, Fermin does not divest the
COMELEC of its authority to determine a candidate's eligibility in the course of resolving Section 78 petitions.

As if looking forward to the possible confusion between a pre-election cancellation (Section 78) and a post-election
disqualification (quo warranto under Section 253) proceedings, Fermin itself clarified this point when it said that: HSAcaE
Lest it be misunderstood, the denial of due course to or the cancellation of the CoC is not based on the lack of
qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material representation that is false, which may relate to the
qualifications required of the public office he/she is running for. It is noted that the candidate states in his/her CoC that he/she is
eligible for the office he/she seeks. Section 78 of the OEC, therefore, is to be read in relation to the constitutional and
statutory provisions on qualifications or eligibility for public office. If the candidate subsequently states a material
representation in the CoC that is false, the COMELEC, following the law, is empowered to deny due course to or cancel such
certificate. Indeed, the Court has already likened a proceeding under Section 78 to a quo warranto proceeding under Section
253 of the OEC since they both deal with the eligibility or qualification of a candidate, with the distinction mainly in the fact that
a "Section 78" petition is filed before proclamation, while a petition for quo warranto is filed after proclamation of the winning
candidate. 31 [emphases and italics supplied]

Thus, Fermin in fact affirms that the COMELEC can entertain and rule on a pre-election proceeding that shall pass on the eligibility
or qualification of a candidate through the medium of a Section 78 proceeding.

This is an implication of Fermin that the ponencia might not have fully grasped.

The Romualdez-Marcos Ruling

The ponencia also cited the Romualdez-Marcos case, apparently without any prior close reading, by quoting from the
Concurring Opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza.

In his Opinion, Justice Mendoza essentially discussed the concept of ineligibility (due to lack of residence), not the
concept of disqualification in the Section 68 sense that is brought "for the purpose of barring an individual from becoming a
candidate or from continuing as a candidate for public office; . . . their purpose is to eliminate a candidate from the race either from
the start or during its progress."

Justice Mendoza pointed out that "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."

The cited Concurring Opinion concluded that what was involved in the case was a petition to declare Romualdez-Marcos
ineligible, which was filed before the COMELEC; the petition was not for the cancellation of her CoC since no allegation of falsity of
a material representation had been made.
The quotation the ponencia cited thus related to ineligibility and should be understood in that context the absence of
an authorized direct proceeding for determining before election the eligibility of a candidate for office. The quotation merely
explained why this was so and among the reasons given were the lack of need for a proceeding unless a candidate wins; the
summary nature of a cancellation proceeding which is not suited for a time-consuming eligibility proceeding; and, the policy under
the OEC, of not authorizing any inquiry into the qualifications of candidates unless they have been elected.

Significantly, the Mendoza quotation did not negate the validity of a CoC cancellation proceeding and in fact stated
that "[O]nly in cases involving charges of false representations made in certificates of candidacy is the COMELEC given
jurisdiction."

To stress the obvious, what is involved in the present Grace Poe case is a CoC cancellation proceeding, not the direct
ineligibility proceeding that the COMELEC cannot undertake before elections. To recall Fermin, this direct ineligibility proceeding is
available only post-election and the medium is a quo warranto proceeding under Section 253 of the OEC (or the PET for the
President-elect).

In sum, the arguments and cited quotations in the Grace Poe ponencia are not really authorities for its claim regarding
COMELEC jurisdiction. If they tell us anything at all, they betray the ponencia's confusion in its use of technical election terms,
particularly in the concepts of "qualifications," "disqualifications" and "ineligibility".

But whatever may be the cause of the ponencia's confusion, the ultimate result should be the recognition that the
conclusion on COMELEC jurisdiction has no solid support from its cited constitutional provisions and cited
jurisprudence.

III.B.2(d) Analysis of Sections 23 and 25 of the


2012 COMELEC Rules of Procedure

Taking off from the quotations from Justice Mendoza in Fermin and Romualdez-Marcos, the ponencia jumps into his
arguments regarding COMELEC Rules of Procedure, to be exact, Rules 23 and 25 of the 2012 Rules of Procedure. Rule 23
provides:
Section 1. Ground for Denial or Cancellation of Certificate of Candidacy.

A verified Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy for any elective office may be filed by
any registered voter or a duly registered political party, organization, or coalition of political parties on the exclusive ground that
any material representation contained therein as required by law is false. HESIcT

A Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy invoking grounds other than those stated above
or grounds for disqualification, or combining grounds for a separate remedy, shall be summarily dismissed.

To fully understand Rule 23, its statutory basis Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code must be appreciated. Section 78
provides:
Sec. 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 the 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 due notice and
hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election. [underscoring supplied]

In these clear terms, the law lays down the rule that the ground for cancellation should be a FALSITY with respect to a
material representation required under Section 74 of the OEC. What is "material" has been the subject of the ruling of this Court
in 1999 in Salcedo II v. COMELEC where we held: 32
The only difference between the two proceedings is that, under section 78, the qualifications for elective office are
misrepresented in the certificate of candidacy and the proceedings must be initiated before the elections, whereas a petition
for quo warranto under section 253 may be brought on the basis of two grounds (1) ineligibility or (2) disloyalty to the
Republic of the Philippines, and must be initiated within ten days after the proclamation of the election results. Under section
253, a candidate is ineligible if he is disqualified to be elected to office, and he is disqualified if he lacks any of the qualifications
for elective office.

xxx xxx xxx

Therefore, it may be concluded that the material misrepresentation contemplated by section 78 of the Code refer to
qualifications for elective office. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that the consequences imposed upon a candidate
guilty of having made a false representation in his certificate of candidacy are grave to prevent the candidate from running or, if
elected, from serving, or to prosecute him for violation of the election laws. It could not have been the intention of the law to
deprive a person of such a basic and substantive political right to be voted for a public office upon just any innocuous mistake.

xxx xxx xxx

Thus, the first paragraph of Rule 23 simply confirms what Section 78 of the OEC provides with respect to the denial of due
course or to the cancellation of a CoC. A striking feature of this Rule is that it does not provide for the limitation that the
COMELEC cannot rule under Section 78 when the representation cited touches on the qualification or eligibility of a
candidate. In fact, the Rule implicitly speaks of eligibility as Section 74 of the OEC to which Section 78 refers, contains the
qualification requirements that a candidate should state in his or her CoC.

The second paragraph of Section 1, Rule 23 distinguishes between a Section 78 cancellation proceeding and a
disqualification proceeding based on Section 68 and similar disqualification provisions pointed out above. To avoid the muddling or
mixing of the grounds for each remedy, the COMELEC opted to provide that petitions that combine or substitute one remedy for the
other shall be dismissed summarily. Thus, the petition for cancellation can only invoke a Section 78 ground; it cannot invoke a
ground for disqualification which is covered by its own OEC provisions Section 68 and Section 12 of the OEC or Section 40 of
the LGC.

In contrast with Rule 23, Rule 25 of the 2012 Rules provides:


Section 1. Grounds. Any candidate who, in an 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.

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

At the risk of repetition, the ponencia in this case read Fermin and the 2012 Rules of Procedure to mean that there is no
authorized proceeding to determine the qualifications of a candidate before the candidate is elected. 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." 33

Under the first paragraph of Section 1 of Rule 25, the above statement from the ponencia is not totally wrong as it merely
paraphrases this paragraph. Where theponencia grossly erred was in its ruling, apparently based on its combined reading of
Rules 23 and 25, that a CoC "cannot be cancelled or denied due course on grounds of false representations regarding his or her
qualifications without a prior 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." 34

By so ruling, the ponencia thereby selectively used part of Rule 23 and combined it with its selected part of Rule 25,
to achieve its desired conclusion. This is a very naughty, if not outrightly fraudulent, use of legal interpretation.

Read side by side and read in relation with one another, Rules 23 and 25 complement one another, with one (Rule 23)
providing for the Cancellation of CoC, while the other (Rule 25) providing for Disqualification. These Rules provide that the grounds
particular to one cannot be cited in a petition for the other, under pain of dismissal of the petition filed. In clearer terms, CoC
cancellation petition can only cite falsities in the material representations mentioned under Section 74 of the OEC, not any ground
for disqualification under Section 68 or Section 12 of the OEC or Section 40 of the LGC. caITAC

Further compared, it will be noted that the second paragraphs of the Rules' respective Sections 1 are simply statements
that confirm one another and strengthen the distinctions between CoC cancellation under Rule 23 and Disqualification under Rule
25. In other words, these paragraphs do not intrude into what each other covers.

Aside from its naughty interpretation, the ponencia apparently went astray when it misunderstood, under its interpretation
of Rules 23 and 25, the Fermin ruling which held that a candidate's ineligibility is not a ground for a Section 68
proceeding for disqualification, despite a COMELEC rule including the lack of residence (which is an ineligibility) in the list of
grounds for a petition for disqualification. As noted above, the ruling then characterized the disputed petition as a petition for the
cancellation of a CoC, not a petition for disqualification, and held that it had been filed out of time.

As fully explained therefore, the Fermin ruling and its correct significance were not properly utilized by the ponencia.
Notably, Fermin itself clarified its legal thrusts, as above-quoted, in a manner that is not easy to misunderstand; thus,
the ponencia's misuse of Fermin is difficult to excuse or to attribute to an honest mistake in the interpretation of a point of
law. Rather than a mistake, the better description may perhaps be a determined and overzealous attempt to overcome the
cancellation of CoC that the COMELEC ordered.
In these lights, I hold that based on the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code, the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the
COMELEC history, and settled jurisprudence, the ponencia rashly emasculated the COMELEC of its authority to act pursuant to
Section 78. As a remedial measure, its power to rule on the falsity of the eligibility or qualification requirements reflected in
candidates' CoC, should be declared intact, unsullied, and be the starting basis for the consideration of the merits of the present
case.

III.B.3. The Height of Illogic: Ruling on review by


certiorari that the COMELEC had no
jurisdiction on the cancellation of Grace Poe's
CoC, while declaring at the same time that
Poe is qualified to run for President.

A continuing source of wonder in reading the ponencia is how it could rule that the COMELEC's cancellation of Grace
Poe's CoC could be void (because the COMELEC had no authority or jurisdiction to make the ruling) AND AT THE SAME TIME
declare Grace Poe qualified to run for the Presidency of this country.

Even to a legally unschooled mind, the ruling can be as simple as saying Wala palang kapangyarihan ang
COMELEC at di pala ito puede magbigay ng kapasiyahan sa certifico ng kandidatura ni Grace Poe, kaya kandidato pa rin
si Grace Poe.

That would not have been a bad reasoning for a legal layman and should at least be a reasoning track that should not
escape the Supreme Court itself. What the consequences and implications of this reasoning and conclusion, of course, cannot
usually be expected from the ordinary layman as these consequences may already require legal training to sort out.

The Court should eminently qualify to layout what would happen if indeed the COMELEC lacked or exceeded its
jurisdiction, but for the Court to conclude that Grace Poe is qualified to run for the Presidency although the COMELEC did not have
the authority to act and its decision had been voided, is a leap in logic a non-sequitur that equates the lack of authority to
act with the separate question of Poe's eligibility to be a candidate. It is a conclusion that begs for the sounding of alarm bells
about the Court's reasoning and about the Court itself and its motivations.

By constitutional rule, 35 a COMELEC decision is reviewable by the Court only by certiorari whose procedure is outlined
under Rules 64 and 65 of the Rules of Court. This manner and mode of review essentially mean that the Court's standard of review
is the presence or absence of jurisdiction, in the latter case, the lack or excess of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion
amounting to these jurisdictional defects. 36 This standard is vastly stricter and narrower than the review on the merits of a case
available in an appeal.

To state the most obvious aspect of the Court's power of review, certiorari (under Rule 65) is limited to jurisdictional
grounds (at the very least, grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction), while a review on appeal opens up
the merits of the case, both on factual or legal issues, and an appeal by certiorari(Rule 45) allows a review on purely legal grounds.

Thus in a Rule 65 review, the Court, if it finds that the tribunal below committed grave abuse of discretion in its
appreciation of the facts or in its reading, interpretation, or application of the law, simply declares the challenged ruling null and void
for having been rendered without jurisdiction; it may act, too, on the incidental relief that the petitioner might have asked for. The
Court does not review the merits of the case in order to issue a ruling on what the correct facts and applicable law should
be. As explained by Justice Herrera, certiorari is a corrective and supervisory remedy that cannot be broadened to review the
intrinsic correctness or merits of the lower tribunal's decision. 37 ICHDca

Of course, in considering whether the tribunal gravely abused its discretion in appreciating the facts and the law, the Court
must necessarily discuss the errors of facts and law made and on this basis determine if mere error or grave abuse in the exercise
of discretion had intervened. But the Court does not thereby make a binding ruling on the facts and the law because its
enforceable ruling is effectively the nullity of the challenged ruling.

In the present case, Grace Poe notably prayed only for the nullification of the COMELEC rulings, for incidental reliefs, and
"other reliefs, just and equitable." But even the usual course in the review and consideration of the case from the prism of
a certiorari petition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court did not take place.

While the Court majority did indeed find the challenged COMELEC ruling void, its basis was not the consideration of
the COMELEC's findings of facts and law, but its interpretation that the COMELEC did not have the authority to rule on
citizenship and residency qualifications as these qualifications had not yet been determined by the proper authorities and do not
involve self-evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity from which the falsity of representations could have been
determined. Without these prior findings, the Court majority reasoned out that the COMELEC had no basis to rule that Poe's
representations are false.

If indeed the problem is the COMELEC's own authority to act, i.e., that it lacked jurisdiction to rule on citizenship and
residency so that its ruling was void, even the layman would ask:

What was there for the Court to review so that it could make a binding ruling on citizenship and residency if the
COMELEC findings on these issues were null and void because the COMELEC in the first place had no authority
to render a valid decision?

Does the Court have the jurisdiction or authority under our laws, on its own, to pass upon the qualifications or eligibility
of candidates before elections?

If not, what then were the citizenship and residency rulings that the Court's majority used as basis to declare that Poe is
qualified to run for the Presidency?

Would not a COMELEC ruling on citizenship and residency be relevant only to determine the presence or absence of
grave abuse of discretion if the COMELEC had in the first place the jurisdiction over the subject matter of the
case?

If indeed the COMELEC had no jurisdiction as the ponencia ruled, then the ponencia's declaration of Grace Poe's
qualification was merely an obiter dictum or an observation with no binding effect.

Consequently, Grace Poe does not now stand as a qualified candidate but simply one whose CoC was
questioned in a proceeding whose results were set aside due to the decision maker's lack of jurisdiction.

To pursue this line of thought further, no legal bar now exists for a qualified petitioner to question the
qualification of Grace Poe after elections in the event that she should win.

If this is the case, then the ponencia and this Court have simply given the Filipino electorate a run-around: we
simply gave Grace Poe the opportunity to run for President, without giving the electorate the assurance
that we have examined her qualifications and found them sufficient.

If Grace Poe wins and is subsequently disqualified by the PET, would not this Court be a direct party to the skewing of
the results of the 2016 elections? Had her disqualification been known early on, then those who voted for her
could have voted for their second preferences and the wasted votes for Poe could have made the difference in
the results of the 2016 elections.

These are only some of the questions that the ponencia's illogic raises and many more will be raised in the discussions
below. But to go back to the situation before us, what is clear to me is that the majority used the wrong law, wrong cases and
wrong considerations in appreciating and ruling on the COMELEC's jurisdiction: it disregarded the Constitution and the relevant
laws, as well as the jurisprudence on Section 78 jurisdiction, thus leaving a murky legal situation that would prejudice our
elections before things can be sorted out. Why the majority has to so rule given its stretched and flimsy cited bases, only the
majority can answer.

IV. THE NATURAL-BORN CITIZENSHIP ISSUE.

The citizenship controversy centers on Poe's admitted fact that she is a foundling and it is on this point that
the ponencia committed the most grievous errors. To escape the consequences of this admission, the ponencia had to bank
on presumptions, on unfounded reading and interpretation of international law, oncircumstantial evidence that had not
been admitted, and by implication from the silent terms of the Constitution.

Specifically, the ponencia claimed that:

Grace Poe's blood relationship with a Filipino citizen is demonstrable;

Grace Poe is a Filipino citizen by presumption and based on circumstantial evidence; TCAScE

the Filipino citizenship of foundlings can be read from the terms of the 1935 Constitution;

Philippine laws on adoption support the view that foundlings are Filipino citizens;

foundlings are Filipino citizens find support from international law;

the burden of proving the citizenship of a foundling rests with the petitioners because they were the ones challenging the
CoC of Grace Poe.
These claims, in my view, are mostly overstretched interpretations of the Constitution and the relevant laws and even
involve facts that were never admitted into evidence, or were misleading interpretation of facts. I point them out to set the record
straight and to support my position that the COMELEC, in ruling that Grace Poe is not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, did
not commit grave abuse of discretion.

IV.A. The Grace Poe Case and the Constitution.

IV.A.1. The Constitutional Provisions.

Consideration of the Constitution in the present case is unavoidable as the core issues arose under it, specifically under
the 1935 Constitution provisions on citizenship (Article IV, Section 1, the governing law when Grace Poe was born) and the
qualifications under the 1987 Constitution for the Philippine Presidency (Article VII, Section 2).

Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution provides:


SECTION 1. 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.

(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, elect Philippine
citizenship.

(5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law. [emphases and underscoring supplied]

On the other hand, Article VII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution under which the 2016 elections will be held, requires:
SECTION 2. 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. [emphasis and underscoring supplied]

As previously adverted to, the Court has established principles in place in construing and applying the provisions of the
Constitution. 38 A first principle to apply when the Constitution is involved is its textual examination, hand in hand with the rule of
giving the text of the Constitution its ordinary meaning. Only in cases of ambiguity can the Court resort to the deliberations of the
constitutional convention, but can never "vary the terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear."

IV.A.1(a) Disregard of the text of the Constitution.

The ponencia, due perhaps to Grace Poe's admission that she is a foundling (so that an appeal to the constitutional text
would not favor her), not surprisingly, did not focus on nor examine at all the constitutional text; instead, it went directly to the
consideration of the constitutional deliberations. It thus bypassed and disregarded the best and most accurate standard in
considering Grace Poe's citizenship.

Under its terms and the jurisprudence that has developed, citizenship under the 1935 Constitution is determined through
parentage, i.e., through the principle of jus sanguinis. 39 Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution likewise distinguishes
between citizenship derived from a Filipino father and citizenship derived from a Filipino mother.

Thus, it is necessary to determine the citizenship of a person's parents in order to determine whether he or she is a
Philippine citizen. A foundling whose parents cannot be identified obviously does not fall under the neat listing of Article IV of the
1935 Constitution and cannot thus claim with absolute certainty that he or she is a Philippine citizen. Much less can he or she claim
the character of being a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.

IV.A.1(b) The Constitutional Command on Citizenship.

In considering Grace Poe's citizenship situation as a foundling running for the Philippine Presidency, the provision that
should not be forgotten is Article VII, Section 2 whose full terms are also quoted above. The constitutional qualifications for the
Philippine Presidency are couched in the negative; that is, "No person may be elected to the office of President or Vice-
President, unless he be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines . . ."

This negative phrasing had not been coincidental, but was deliberate, under the interpretative view that provisions
couched in the negative are mandatory and connote an absolute command. These negative provisions are intended to operate with
universal force and permit no exceptions, and in this sense, command absolute certainty. Thus, when the Constitution requires that
a person be a natural-born Filipino citizen to be able to run for and become president, it requires absolute certainty of
citizenship. cTDaEH

IV.B. Presumption of Citizenship through the Misuse of Statistics

For the above reason, I cannot agree with the ponencia's use of statistics to create a presumption of Philippine
citizenship. (These statistics, incidentally, had not been marked as evidence, nor were their sources verified.) The ponencia claims
that the statistical probability that Poe could have been born to a foreigner is 99.83%, given that the total number of foreigners in
the Philippines from 1965 to 1975 was 15,986, while the total number of Filipinos at that time was 10,558,278.

This reasoning simply contradicts the absolute command under the Constitution requiring that our President be a natural-
born Filipino. Written in the negative, the provision takes no chances with regard to the citizenship of the Philippine President; we
would not apply this provision with fidelity if the question of the Philippine president's citizenship is not absolutely 100% certain to
be Filipino.

If we were to follow the statistics cited by the ponencia, there were approximately 15,896 recorded foreigners in the
Philippines at the time Poe was born. This means that there are at least 15,896 foreigners who could have possibly fathered or
given birth to Poe, a possibility that, given the absolute command of the Constitution, cannot and should not be glossed over in the
way the ponencia apparently did.

As a last point to consider, these statistics and the arguments alleging the presumption of Poe's citizenship that can be
inferred from these data, had been introduced in evidence only on appeal before the Court, not by the direct parties to the case, but
by the Solicitor General who had been invited to the oral arguments by the Court.

These circumstances lead me to ask: should the COMELEC now be held responsible for not considering data and
arguments that were never brought in the Section 78 proceedings before it?

IV.C. Appeal to Physical Characteristics:


a Desperation Argument to support Poe's Citizenship

Additionally, I cannot agree with the argument that Poe's physical characteristics prove her Filipino roots; her flat nasal
bridge, straight black hair, almond shaped eyes, and oval face can perhaps identify her to be of Southeast Asian roots, but not
specifically of Filipino parentage. The ponencia conveniently failed to mention that Poe has ivory white skin, a characteristic mostly
found from those bearing foreign ancestry but not from those whose ancestry is Indo-Malay.

It pains me to realize, too, that we a people of mixed race have gone down to the level of appearances to resolve the
constitutional and legal question of who is a citizen of the Philippines. More painful is the realization that this Court and
the ponencia have also gone down to this level and to appeals to emotions in favor of foundlings to support their legal argument on
Poe's Filipino citizenship. I have not discussed this emotional appeal at all in this Dissent as I do not want to reduce the issues of
this important case to the question of fairness to foundlings.

IV.D. Analysis of the Terms of 1935 Citizenship Provisions

As I discussed in my original Dissenting Opinion, from among the established modes of interpretation that this Court has
long established and used, 40 not one supports the inclusion of foundlings among the Filipino citizens listed in the 1935 Constitution.
The 1935 Constitution did not expressly list foundlings among Filipino citizens. Using verba legis, the 1935 Constitution limited
citizens of the Philippines to those expressly listed. In the absence of any ambiguity, the second level of constitutional construction
should not also apply.

Even if we apply ratio legis, the records of the 1934 Constitutional Convention do not reveal an intention to consider
foundlings to be citizens, much less natural-born ones. As discussed above, the Constitutional Convention rejected the
inclusion of foundlings in the Constitution. If they would now be deemed to be included, the result would be an anomalous
situation of monstrous proportions foundlings, with unknown parents, would have greater rights than those born under the
1935 Constitution whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and who had to elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the
age of majority.

In interpreting the Constitution from the perspective of what it expressly contains (verba legis), only the terms of the
Constitution itself require to be considered. According to the principle of expressio unius est exclusio alterius, items not provided in
a list are presumed not to be included in it. 41

In this list, Paragraphs (1) and (2) need not obviously be considered as they refer to persons who were already born at
the time of the adoption of the 1935 Constitution. Petitioner Poe was born only in 1968. Paragraph (5), on the other hand and
except under the terms mentioned below, does not also need to be included for being immaterial to the facts and the issues posed
in the present case.

Thus, we are left with paragraphs (3) and (4) which respectively refer to a person's father and mother. Either or both
parents of a child must be Philippine citizens at the time of the child's birth so that the child can claim Philippine citizenship under
these paragraphs. 42

This is the rule of jus sanguinis or citizenship by blood, i.e., as traced from one or both parents and as confirmed by the
established rulings of this Court. 43Significantly, none of the 1935 constitutional provisions contemplate the situation where
both parents' identities (and consequently, their citizenships) are unknown, which is the case for foundlings.

As the list does not include foundlings, then they are not included among those constitutionally-granted or recognized to
be Philippine citizens except to the extent that they fall under the coverage of paragraph 5, i.e., if they choose to avail of the
opportunity to be naturalized. Established rules of legal interpretation tell us that nothing is to be added to what the text states
or reasonably implies; a matter that is not covered is to be treated as not covered. 44

The silence of Article IV, Section 1, of the 1935 Constitution, in particular of paragraphs (3) and (4) parentage provisions,
on the citizenship of foundlings in the Philippines, in fact speaks loudly and directly about their legal situation. Such silence can
only mean that the 1935 Constitution did not address the situation of foundlings via paragraphs (3) and (4), but left the
matter to other provisions that may be applicable as discussed below.

Specifically, foundlings can fully avail of Paragraph (5) of the above list, which speaks of those who are naturalized as
citizens in accordance with law. Aside from the general law on naturalization, 45 Congress can pass a law specific to foundlings or
ratify other treaties recognizing the right of foundlings to acquire Filipino citizenship. The foundling himself or herself, of course,
must choose to avail of the opportunity under the law or the treaty.

To address the position that petitioner Poe raised in this case, the fact that the 1935 Constitution did not provide for a
situation where both parents are unknown (as also the case in the current 1987 Constitution) does not mean that the provision on
citizenship is ambiguous with respect to foundlings; it simply means that the constitutional provision on citizenship based on blood
or parentage has not been made available under the Constitution but the provision must be read in its totality so that we must look
to other applicable provision that are available, which in this case is paragraph (5) as explained above.

In negative terms, even if Poe's suggested interpretation via the parentage provision did not expressly apply and thus left a
gap, the omission does not mean that we can take liberties with the Constitution through stretched interpretation, and forcibly read
the situation so as to place foundlings within the terms of the Constitution's parentage provisions. We cannot and should not do this
as we would thereby cross the forbidden path of judicial legislation.

The appropriate remedy for the petitioner and other foundlings, as already adverted to, is via naturalization, a process that
the Constitution itself already provides for. Naturalization can be by specific law that the Congress can pass for foundlings, or on
the strength of international law via the treaties that binds the Philippines to recognize the right of foundlings to acquire a nationality.
There, too, is the possible amendment of the Constitution so that the situation of foundlings can be directly addressed in the
Constitution. CHTAIc

Notably, the government operating under the 1935 Constitution has recognized that foundlings who wish to become full-
fledged Philippine citizens must undergo naturalization under Commonwealth Act No. 473. DOJ Opinion No. 377 Series of 1940,
in allowing the issuance of Philippine passports to foundlings found in the Philippines, said:
However under the principles of International Law, a foundling has the nationality of the place where he is found or
born (See chapter on the Conflict of Law, footnote, p. 57 citing Bluntschli in an article in the Revue de Troit int. for 1870, p. 107;
Mr. Hay, Secretary of State, to Mr. Leishman, Minister to Switzerland, July 12, 1899, For. Rel. 1899, 760; Moore, International
Law Digest, Vol. III, p. 281; Garcia's Quizzer on Private International Law, p. 270) which in this case, is the Philippines.
Consequently, Eddy Howard may be regarded as a citizen of the Philippines for passport purposes only. If he desires to
be a full-fledged Filipino, he may apply for naturalization under the provisions of Commonwealth Act No. 473 as
amended by Commonwealth Act No. 535. [emphasis, italics, and underscoring supplied]

A subsequent DOJ Opinion, DOJ Opinion No. 189, series of 1951, stated:
However under the principles of International Law, a foundling has the nationality of the place where he is found or
born (See chapter on the Conflict of Law, footnote, p. 57 citing Bluntschli in an article in the Revue de Troit int. for 1870, p. 107;
Mr. Hay, Secretary of State, to Mr. Leishman, Minister to Switzerland, July 12, 1899, For. Rel. 1899, 760; Moore, International
Law Digest, Vol. III, p. 281) which in this case, is the Philippines. Consequently, Anthony Saton Hale may be regarded as a
citizen of the Philippines, and entitled to a passport as such. [italics supplied]
The two DOJ opinions both state that a foundling is considered a Philippine citizen for passport purposes. That the
second DOJ Opinion does not categorically require naturalization for a foundling to become a Philippine citizen does not mean it
amended the government's stance on the citizenship of foundlings, as these opinions were issued to grant them a Philippine
passport and facilitate their right to travel. International law is cited as reference because they would be travelling abroad, and it
is possible that other countries they will travel to recognize that principle. But for purposes of application in the Philippines, the
domestic law on citizenship prevails, that is, Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution. This is why DOJ Opinion No. 377,
Series of 1940 clarified that if a foundling wants to become a full-fledged Philippine citizen, then he should apply for naturalization
under CA No. 473.

In any case, DOJ Opinion No. 189, Series of 1950 cannot be interpreted in a way that would contravene the 1935
Constitution; most certainly, it cannot amend or alter Article IV, Section 1, of the 1935 Constitution.

IV.E. Misinterpretation of the


Constitutional Deliberations

Even if we were to examine the intent of the Constitutional Commission which Grace Poe and the ponencia cite, its
deliberations do not show that they agreed and intended that foundlings should be considered Philippine citizens. At most, it shows
a plurality of opinion regarding why the proposal that foundlings be accorded Philippine citizenship, was rejected.

The account of Jose Aruego, one of the members of the 1934 Constitutional Convention, noted that this proposal was
primarily rejected because the framers thought that the issue of the citizenship of foundlings should be governed by statutory
legislation. Even the reference made by the ponencia to Aruego cites:

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 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. 46

In saying this, Aruego also recounted that many, if not most, of the majority of those who voted against the inclusion of
foundlings in the 1935 Constitution believed that the matter of their citizenship should be governed by statutory legislation because
the cases of foundlings are too few to be included in the Constitution.

If the principles of international law on foundlings were mentioned at all in the constitutional deliberations, they were cited
merely to lend support to the primary reason that the matter should be governed by statute and was a secondary reason to the
majority's decision not to include foundlings in Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution. But even the resort to international law
at that time was a shaky argument as the Philippines then was not even an independent country capable of international dealings
and bound by international rules.

Notably, too, when the 1934 Constitutional Convention voted not to include foundlings as Philippine citizens under Article
IV Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution, they also voted not to give the same status to the illegitimate children of Filipina mothers to
foreigners. The proposal lumped them together and they were both refused citizenship from birth.

Yet, under the ponencia's view, the Constitution gives foundlings Philippine citizenship from birth, while the other category
of children that had been included in the proposal were eventually given a lesser, inchoate right to elect Philippine citizenship upon
reaching the age of majority.

The ponencia's ruling therefore does not only disregard the distinction of citizenship based on the father or the mother
under the 1935 Constitution; it also falsifies what the records signify and thereby unfairly treats the children of Filipino mothers
under the 1935 Constitution who, although able to trace their Filipino parentage, must yield to the higher categorization that
the ponencia wants to accord to foundlings who do not enjoy similar roots.

All these are brought up as they show that the ponencia, even in its direct arguments on Grace Poe's citizenship,
lacks solid legal support. At the most charitable level, it can only be described to be inherently weak.

IV.F. Misreading of International Law.

In the same way that the ponencia misinterpreted and twisted the Constitution and its proceedings, as well as the
established constitutional jurisprudence, so did it read international law and the treaties it invoked.
The Court interprets treaties in a similar manner it interprets the Constitution the text of the provision in question is
harmonized and interpreted with the rest of the treaty. Thus, a treaty provision is examined in light of the entire treaty in which
it is found, taking care that all of its provisions are given effect.

Notably, the ponencia's application of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and
the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) isolates the provision recognizing every child's right to
acquire a nationality, without considering that these treaties leave it to its signatories the means by which to comply with its
agreement. This is a slanted and selective reading that the Highest Court in the land the Supreme Court should not
do for reasons of ethics and self-respect.

These treaties recognize that the obligations should be complied with within the framework of a State's national laws. This
view is reinforced by the provisions that implement these treaties.

Article 2 of the ICCPR on this point provides:


2. Where not already provided for by existing legislative or other measures, each State Party to the present Covenant
undertakes to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and with the provisions of the present
Covenant, to adopt such laws or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in the present
Covenant. ISHCcT

On the other hand, Article 4 of the UNCRC states:


States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of
the rights recognized in the present Convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall
undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of
international co-operation. [emphasis and italics supplied]

These terms should be cross-referenced with Section 2, Article 7 of the UNCRC, which provides:
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. [emphasis,
italics, and underscoring supplied]

Read together, these ICCPR and UNCRC implementation provisions reveal the measure of flexibility that they
afford to the signatories. 47 This flexibility runs from the absolute obligation to recognize every child's right to acquire a
nationality, all the way to the allowable and varying measures that may be taken to ensure this right. These measures may
range from an immediate and outright grant of nationality, to the passage of naturalization measures that the child may
avail of to exercise his or her rights, all in accordance with the State's national law.

Further, the right to acquire a nationality is different from the grant of an outright Filipino nationality. Under the
cited treaties, States are merely required to recognize and facilitate the child's right to acquire a nationality.

The method through which the State complies with this obligation varies and depends on its discretion. Of course, the
automatic and outright grant of citizenship to children in danger of being stateless is one of the means by which this treaty
obligation may be complied with. But the treaties allow other means of compliance with their obligations short of the immediate and
automatic grant of citizenship to stateless children found in their territory.

This view finds support from the history of the provision "right to acquire nationality" in the ICCPR. During the debates that
led to the formulation of this provision,the word "acquire" was inserted in the draft, and the words "from his birth" were deleted. This
change shows the intent of its drafters to, at the very least, vest discretion on the State with respect to the means of facilitating the
acquisition of citizenship.

Marc Bussoyt, in his Guide to the "Travaux Prparatoires" of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights," 48 even concluded that "the word 'acquire' would infer that naturalization was not to be considered as a right of the
individual but was accorded by the State at its discretion." DHITCc

Lastly, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) is is not a treaty that directly creates legally-binding
obligations for its signatories. 49 It is an international document recognizing inalienable human rights, which eventually led to the
creation of several legally-binding treaties, such as the ICCPR and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR). 50 Thus, the Philippines is not legally-obligated to comply with the provisions of the UDHR per se. It signed the
UDHR because it recognizes the rights and values enumerated in the UDHR; this recognition led it to sign both the ICCPR and the
ICESCR. 51
To be sure, international scholars have been increasingly using the provisions of the UDHR to argue that the rights
provided in the document have reached the status of customary international law. Assuming, however, that we were to accord the
right to nationality under the UDHR the status of a treaty obligation or of a generally-accepted principle of international law, it still
does not require the Philippine government to automatically grant Philippine citizenship to foundlings in its territory.

Article 15 of the UDHR provides:


Article 15.

(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.

Thus, the language of the UDHR itself recognizes the right of everyone to a nationality, without imposing on the
signatory States how they would recognize or implement this right.

Misplaced Use of Generally Accepted Principles of


International Law.

The ponencia again appeals to the Constitution, this time to its provision on generally accepted principles of international
law and once more misuses a constitutional provision. The constitutional provision runs:
Article II, Section 2. The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally
accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice,
freedom, cooperation and amity with all nations.

Using this provision and the generally-accepted principles of international law to include a means for determining
citizenship is inherently inconsistent with sovereign aspect of the determination of citizenship.

I also find the ponencia's reference to international customary law so it can introduce into Philippine jurisdiction the
presumption that foundlings are born of citizens of the country where they are found to be very disturbing. The very nature of
generally-accepted principles of international law is inconsistent with and thus inapplicable to, the State's sole and sovereign
prerogative to choose who may or may not be its citizens, and how the choice is carried out.

Generally-accepted principles of international law are legal norms that are recognized as customary in the
international plane. States follow them on the belief that these norms embody obligations that they, on their own, are bound
to perform. Also referred to as customary international law, generally accepted principles of international law pertain to the
collection of international behavioral regularities that nations, over time, come to view as binding on them as a matter of law. 52

Thus, generally-accepted principles of international law are considered binding on a State because of evidence
showing that it considers this legal norm to be obligatory. No express consent from the State is needed to be bound to the
obligation; its binding authority over a State lies from the inference that most, if not all, States consider the norm to be an obligation.

In contrast, States have the inherent right to decide who may or may not be its citizens, including the process through
which citizenship may be acquired. The application of presumptions, or inferences of the existence of a fact based on the existence
of other facts, is part of this process of determining citizenship.

This right is strongly associated with and attendant to state sovereignty. Traditionally, nationality has been associated with
a State's "right to exclude others", and to defend the territory of the nation from external aggression has been a predominant
element of nationality. 53

In its modern concept, sovereignty is described as the confluence of independence and territorial and personal
supremacy, expressed as "the supreme and independent authority of States over all persons in their territory." 54

Indeed, a State exercises personal supremacy over its nationals wherever they may be. The right to determine who these
nationals are is a pre-requisite of a State's personal supremacy, and therefore of sovereignty. 55

It is in this context that Oppenheimer said that:


It is not for International Law, but for Municipal Law to determine who is, and who is not considered a subject. 56

Given that the State's right to determine who may be its nationals (as well as how this determination is exercised) is
inextricably linked to its sovereignty, I cannot see how it can properly be the subject of state consensus or norm dictated by the
practice of other States.
In other words, the norm pertaining to the determination of who may or may not be a citizen of a State cannot be
the subject of an implied obligation that came to existence because other States impliedly consider it to be their
obligation.

In the first place, a State cannot be obligated to adopt a means of determining who may be its nationals as this is
an unalterable and basic aspect of its sovereignty and of its existence as a State. Otherwise stated, the imposition of an
implied obligation on a State simply because other States recognize the same obligation contradicts and impinges on a State's
sovereignty. cEaSHC

Note that treaty obligations that a State enters into involving the determination of its citizens has the express consent of
the State; under Philippine law, this obligation is transformed into a municipal law once it is ratified by the Executive and concurred
in by the Senate.

The evidence presented by petitioner Poe to establish the existence of generally-accepted principles of international law
actually reflects the inherent inconsistency between the State's sovereign power to determine its nationals and the nature of
generally-accepted principles of international law as a consensus-based, implied obligation. Poe cites various laws and international
treaties that provide for the presumption of parentage for foundlings. These cited laws and international treaties, however, have
the express imprimatur of the States adopting the presumption.

In contrast, the Philippines has not entered into any international treaty recognizing and applying the
presumption of parentage of foundlings; neither is it so provided in the 1935 Constitution. References to international law in
the deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention without an actual ratified treaty or a provision expressing this principle
cannot be considered binding upon the sovereign Filipino people who ratified the 1935 Constitution. The ratification of the
provisions of the 1935 Constitution is a sovereign act of the Filipino people; to reiterate for emphasis, this act cannot be amended
by widespread practice of other States, even if these other States believe this practice to be an obligation.

In this light, I am also appalled with the way the ponencia used the Philippines' signature in the UDHR as basis to
conclude that the Philippines affirms Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention, a treaty which we did not sign.

In no way can our recognition of the principles found in the UDHR serve as affirmation or recognition of specific
provisions and obligations found in the 1930 Hague Convention. I find it too much of a stretch to consider that a non-binding
recognition of a principle under the UDHR would also obligate us to a specific treaty provision in the 1930 Hague Convention
and in the 1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. This is a very irresponsible conclusion that
theponencia made.

To illustrate the vast difference in the language between the two instruments, I have juxtaposed the two provisions in table
form, as follows:

Universal Declaration of Human 1930 Hague Convention 1961 United Nations


Rights Convention on the
Reduction
of Statelessness
Article 15. Article 14 Article 2
(1) Everyone has the A child whose parents are A foundling found in
right to a nationality. both unknown shall have the territory of a
the nationality of the Contracting State shall,
country of birth. in the absence of proof
to the contrary, be

If the child's parentage is considered to have

established, its nationality been born within that


shall be determined by the territory of parents
rules applicable in cases possessing the
where the parentage is nationality of that State
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.

That the Philippines has recognized that everyone has a right to nationality does not translate to a specific obligation to
provide citizenship to foundlings under the Constitution. To reiterate, our recognition of this principle under the UDHR, even if
considered binding on the Philippines, does not bind us to a specific means by which this principle shall be applied in our legal
system. The measure and means of application is still subject to, and must be in conformity with, the fundamental law governing
our country; this is a decision for our policymakers, not for this Court, to make.

Legal Nature of Generally-accepted


principles of international law.

Generally-accepted principles of international law form part of the law of the land together with the rulings of this Court.
They are likewise established in the same manner and have the same binding effect as jurisprudence established in the Philippine
legal system.

Even if we were to recognize the right to nationality as an international custom (as arguably, many provisions found in the
UDHR are considered to have crystallized into generally accepted principles of international law, and its inclusion in the UDHR can
be considered as evidence of its status as such), this recognition cannot be an automatic recognition of presumptions on the
parentage of foundlings (as found in the Convention against Statelessness), or of the citizenship of foundlings (as found in the
Hague Convention). CTIEac

Generally accepted principles of international law are incorporated in the Philippine legal system through the cases that
the Court decides, and form part of the law of the land in the same way we develop jurisprudence.

Note that our Constitution recognizes that generally-accepted principles of international law are part of the law of the land.
Article II, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution provides on this point that:
Article II, Section 2. The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally
accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice,
freedom, cooperation and amity with all nations.

In the same manner that treaty obligations partake of the character of domestic laws in the domestic plane, so
do generally accepted principles of international law as they "form part of the law of the land." This constitutional declaration
situates in clear and definite terms the role of generally accepted principles of international law in the hierarchy of Philippine laws
and in the Philippine legal system.

Generally accepted principles of international law usually gain recognition in the Philippines through decisions rendered by
the Supreme Court, pursuant to thedoctrine of incorporation. 57 The Supreme Court, in its decisions, applies these principles as
rules or as canons of statutory construction, or recognizes them as meritorious positions of the parties in the cases the Court
decides. 58

Separately from Court decisions, international law principles may gain recognition through actions by the executive and
legislative branches of government when these branches use them as bases for their actions (such as when Congress enacts a law
that incorporates what it perceives to be a generally accepted principle of international law).

But until the Court declares a legal norm to be a generally accepted principle of international law, no other means exists in
the Philippine legal system to determinewith certainty that a legal norm is indeed a generally accepted principle of international law
that forms part of the law of the land.

The main reason for the need for a judicial recognition lies in the nature of international legal principles. Unlike treaty
obligations that involve the express promises of States to other States, generally accepted principles of international law do not
require any categorical expression from States for these principles to be binding on them. 59

A legal norm requires the concurrence of two elements before it may be considered as a generally accepted principle of
international law: the established, widespread, and consistent practice on the part of States; and a psychological element
known as the opinio juris sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). 60 Implicit in the latter element is the belief that
the practice is rendered obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it.
The most widely accepted statement of sources of international law today is Article 38 (1) of the Statute of the
International Court of Justice (ICJ), which provides that the ICJ shall apply international custom, as evidence of a general practice
accepted as law. 61 The material sources of custom include state practices, state legislation, international and national judicial
decisions, recitals in treaties and other international instruments, a pattern of treaties in the same form, the practice of international
organs, and resolutions relating to legal questions in the United Nations General Assembly. 62

Sometimes referred to as evidence of international law, these sources identify the substance and content of the obligations
of States and are indicative of the state practice and the opinio juris requirements of international law.

In the usual course, this process passes through the courts as they render their decisions in cases. As part of a court's
function of determining the applicable law in cases before it (including the manner a law should be read and applied), the court has
to determine the existence of a generally applied principle of international law in the cases confronting it, as well as the question of
whether and how it applies to the facts of the case.

To my mind, the process by which courts recognize the effectivity of general principles of international law in the
Philippines is akin or closely similar to the process by which the Supreme Court creates jurisprudence. Under the principle of stare
decisis, courts apply the doctrines in the cases the Supreme Court decides as judicial precedents in subsequent cases with similar
factual situations. 63

In a similar manner, the Supreme Court's pronouncements on the application of generally accepted principles of
international law to the cases it decides are not only binding on the immediately resolved case, but also serve as judicial
precedents in subsequent cases with similar sets of facts. That both jurisprudence and generally accepted principles of
international law form "part of the law of the land" (but are not laws per se) is, therefore, not pure coincidence. 64

As already mentioned, the executive and legislative departments may recognize and use customary international law as
basis when they perform their functions. But while such use is not without legal weight, the continued efficacy and even the validity
of their use as such cannot be certain. While their basis may be principles of international law, their inapplicability or even invalidity
in the Philippine legal setting may still result if the applied principles are inconsistent with the Constitution a matter that is for the
Supreme Court to decide.

Thus viewed, the authoritative use of general principles of international law can only come from the Supreme
Court whose decisions incorporate these principles into the legal system as part of jurisprudence.

Considering the process by which international customary law becomes incorporated in the Philippine legal system, I do
not agree with the largescale, indiscriminate recognition of legal principles that the ponencia did in order to arrive at the desired
conclusion that foundlings are Philippine citizens.

In the first place, the right to a nationality, the presumption that the parents of the foundlings are citizens of the country
where they are found; and the presumption that foundlings are citizens of the country where they are found until the contrary is
proven, are all different concepts that yield different conclusions when applied to the facts of actual cases.

As earlier pointed out, the recognition of the right to a nationality does not mean an automatic recognition of Philippine
citizenship of foundlings; the Philippine government, through its legislative branch of government, can choose how to recognize this
right to a nationality.

On the other hand, the presumption that the parents of foundlings are citizens of the place where they are found (as found
in the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness) could have bestowed the status of a natural-born Philippine citizen to
Poe, save for the fact that this presumption is antithetical to the distinction made by the 1935 Constitution on citizenship derived
from the mother and citizenship derived from the father.

Lastly, bestowing Philippine citizenship to foundlings with no known parents (as found in the 1930 Hague Convention)
adds another category to the exclusive list of who are Philippine citizens under the 1935 Constitution, and effectively amends
Article IV of the 1935 Constitution. Lest this fundamental principle escape us, I note that international customary law, as well as our
obligations under treaties cannot contravene the Philippine Constitution; neither can these be interpreted to modify or amend the
sovereign act of the Filipino nation in enacting the Constitution.

The ponencia, unfortunately, slavishly parroted Poe's line on generally-accepted principles, thereby potentially making
foundling citizens through jurisprudence. Even if its intent was simply to serve the purposes of Grace Poe, its blind adherence to
her self-interested claim is dangerous for the country; this step can bring us to situations, so far unseen, that could work to the
prejudice of our national interests. Did the ponencia and the majority recognize this implication at all when it adopted the
Poe arguments?
To sum up, all the above considerations, both constitutional, international and evidentiary, cannot convince me that Grace
Poe is a candidate who has met the standard of natural-born citizenship that the Constitution requires. On the contrary, these
considerations leave me with dread on what might be the future role of our Constitution in this country if its terms can be stretched,
even to the point of breaking, by those tasked with its care. SCaITA

Coming after our EDCA ruling, I characterize the future of the Constitution as a governing and leveling instrument for all
citizens, to be bleak, and bright as a tool for the ends that those willing to manipulate it.

IV.G. Poe and the Section 78 Proceedings.

IV.G.1. Burden of Proof

A contested issue that surfaced early on in these cases is the question: who carries the burden of proving that the
petitioner is a natural-born Philippine citizen?

Lest we be distracted by the substance of this question, let me clarify at the outset that the cases before us are petitions
for certiorari under Rule 64 (in relation with Rule 65) of the Rules of Court. In these petitions, the petitioner challenges the
rulings/s n made by the respondent pursuant to Article VIII, Section 1 of the Constitution. Thus, it is the petitioner who carries the
burden of showing that the respondent, the COMELEC in this case, committed grave abuse of discretion.

Of course, in making the challenged ruling, the COMELEC had a wider view and had to consider the parties' respective
situations at the outset. The present private respondents were the petitioners who sought the cancellation of Poe's CoC and who
thereby procedurally carried the burden of proving the claim that Poe falsely represented her citizenship and residency
qualifications in her CoC.

I would refer to this as the procedural aspect of the burden of proof issue. The original petitioners before the COMELEC
(the respondents in the present petitions) from the perspective of procedure carried the burden under its Section 78
cancellation of CoC petition, to prove that Poe made false material representations; she claimed in her CoC that she is a natural-
born Filipino citizen when she is not; she also claimed that she has resided in the Philippines for ten years immediately preceding
the May 9, 2016 elections, when she had not. The original petitioners had to prove what they claimed to be false representations.

Thus viewed, the main issue in the case below was the false material representation, which essentially rested on the
premises of citizenship and residence is Poe a natural-born citizen as she claimed and had she observed the requisite qualifying
period of residence?

The original petitioners undertook the task on the citizenship issue by alleging that Poe is a foundling; as such, her parents
are unknown, so that she is not a Philippine citizen under the terms of the 1935 Constitution.

Poe responded by admitting that indeed she is a foundling, but claimed that the burden is on the original petitioners to
prove that she is in fact a foreigner through proof that her parents are foreigners.

Since Poe could not factually show that either of her parents is a Philippine citizen, the COMELEC concluded that the
original petitioners are correct in their position and that they have discharged their original burden to prove that Poe is not a natural-
born citizen of the Philippines. To arrive at its conclusion, the COMELEC considered and relied on the terms of the 1935
Constitution.

With this original burden discharged, the burden of evidence then shifted to Poe to prove that despite her admission that
she is a foundling, she is in fact a natural-born Filipino, either by evidence (not necessarily or solely DNA in character) and by legal
arguments supporting the view that a foundling found in the Philippines is a natural-born citizen.

The same process was repeated with respect to the residency issue, after which, the COMELEC ruled that Poe committed
false representations as, indeed, she is not a natural-born Philippine citizen and had not resided in the country, both as required by
the Constitution.

These were the processes and developments at the COMELEC level, based on which the present Court majority now say
that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion for not observing the rules on the burden of proof on the citizenship and
the residency issues.

Separately from the strictly procedural aspects of the cancellation of CoC proceedings, it must be considered that the
petitioner, by filing a CoC, actively represented that she possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications
for the office she is running for.

When this representation is questioned, particularly through proof of being a foundling as in the present case, the burden
should rest on the present petitioner to prove that she is a natural-born Philippine citizen, a resident of the Philippines for at least
ten years immediately prior to the election, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a
registered voter. This is the opportunity that the COMELEC gave Poe to the fullest, and I see no question of grave abuse of
discretion on this basis.

From the substantive perspective, too, a sovereign State has the right to determine who its citizens are. 65 By conferring
citizenship on a person, the State obligates itself to grant and protect the person's rights. In this light and as discussed more fully
below, the list of Filipino citizens under the Constitution must be read as exclusive andexhaustive.

Thus, this Court has held that any doubt regarding citizenship must be resolved in favor of the State. 66 In other
words, citizenship cannot be presumed; the person who claims Filipino citizenship must prove that he or she is in fact a
Filipino. 67 It is only upon proper proof that a claimant can be entitled to the rights granted by the State. 68 aTHCSE

This was the Court's ruling in Paa v. Chan 69 where this Court categorically ruled that it is incumbent upon the person who
claims Philippine citizenship, to prove to the satisfaction of the court that he is really a Filipino. This should be true particularly after
proof that the claimant has not proven (and even admits the lack of proven) Filipino parentage. 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.

The Court further explained that the exercise by a person of the rights and/or privileges that are granted to Philippine
citizens is not conclusive proof that he or she is a Philippine citizen. A person, otherwise disqualified by reason of citizenship, may
exercise and enjoy the right or privilege of a Philippine citizen by representing himself to be one. 70

Based on these considerations, the Court majority's ruling on burden of proof at the COMELEC level appears to be
misplaced. On both counts, procedural and substantive (based on settled jurisprudence), the COMELEC closely hewed to the legal
requirements.

Thus, the Court majority's positions on where and how the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion are truly
puzzling. With no grave abuse at the COMELEC level, the present petitioner's own burden of proof in the
present certiorari proceedings before this Court must necessarily fail.

IV.G.2. Intent to Deceive as an Element.

In the present case, the private respondents sought the cancellation of Poe's CoC based on the false representations she
allegedly made regarding her Philippine citizenship, her natural-born status, and her period of residence. These are all material
qualifications as they are required by the Constitution itself.

To determine under Section 78 whether the representations made were false, the COMELEC must necessarily
determine the eligibility standards, the application of these standards to Poe, and the claims she made i.e., whether she is
indeed a natural-born Philippine citizen who has resided in the Philippines for at least ten years preceding the election, as she
represented in her CoC, as well as the circumstances surrounding these representations. In relation to Poe's defense, these
circumstances relate to her claim that she did not deliberately falsely represent her citizenship and residence, nor did she
act with intent to deceive.

The element of "deliberate intent to deceive" first appeared in Philippine jurisprudence in Salcedo III v.
Comelec 71 under the following ruling:

Aside from the requirement of materiality, a false representation under section 78 must consist of a deliberate
attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. In other words, it must be
made with an intention to deceive the electorate as to one's qualifications for public office. The use of a surname, when not
intended to mislead or deceive the public as to ones identity, is not within the scope of the provision. [italics supplied]

Salcedo III cited Romualdez-Marcos v. Comelec, 72 which provided that:

It is the fact of residence, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining
whether or not and individual has satisfied the constitution's residency qualification requirement. The said statement becomes
material only when there is or appears to be a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise
render a candidate ineligible. It would be plainly ridiculous for a candidate to deliberately and knowingly make a statement in a
certificate of candidacy which would lead to his or her disqualification. [italics supplied]

From Salcedo and with the exception of Tagolino v. HRET, 73 the "deliberate intent to deceive" element had been
consistently included as a requirement for a Section 78 proceeding.

The Court in Tagolino v. HRET 74 ruled:


Corollary thereto, it must be noted that the deliberateness of the misrepresentation, much less one's intent to
defraud, is of bare significance in a Section 78 petition as it is enough that the person's declaration of a material
qualification in the CoC be false. In this relation, jurisprudence holds that an express finding that the person committed any
deliberate misrepresentation is of little consequence in the determination of whether one's CoC should be deemed cancelled or
not. What remains material is that the petition essentially seeks to deny due course to and/or cancel the CoC on the basis of
one's ineligibility and that the same be granted without any qualification. [emphasis, italics, and underscoring supplied]

This statement in Tagolino assumes validity and merit when we consider that Romualdez-Marcos, the case
that Salcedo III used as basis, is not a Section 78 proceeding, but a disqualification case.

Justice Vicente V. Mendoza's Separate Opinion 75 in Romualdez-Marcos pointed out that the allegations in the pleadings
in Romualdez-Marcos referred to Imelda Romualdez-Marcos' disqualification, and not to an allegation for the cancellation of
her CoC. This was allowed at the time, as Rule 25 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, prior to its nullification in Fermin v.
Comelec, 76 had allowed the institution of disqualification cases based on the lack of residence.

The quoted portion in Romualdez-Marcos thus pertains to the challenge to Romualdez-Marcos' residence in a
disqualification proceeding, and not in a CoC cancellation proceeding.

The Court held that the statement in Romualdez-Marcos's CoC does not necessarily disqualify her because it did not
reflect the necessary residence period, as the actual period of residence shows her compliance with the legal requirements. The
statement "[t]he said statement becomes material only when there is or appears to be a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or
hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible" should thus be understood in the context of a disqualification
proceeding looking at the fact of a candidate's residence, and not at a CoC cancellation proceeding determining whether
a candidate falsely represented her eligibility. cAaDHT

Arguably, the element of "deliberate intent to deceive," has been entrenched in our jurisprudence since it was first
mentioned in Salcedo III. Given the history of this requirement, and the lack of clear reference of "deliberate intent to deceive" in
Section 78, this deliberate intention could be anchored from the textual requirement in Section 78 that the representation
made must have been false, such that the representation was made with the knowledge that it had not been true.

Viewed from this perspective, the element of "deliberate intent to deceive" should be considered complied with upon
proof of the candidate's knowledge that the representation he or she made in the CoC was false.

Note, at this point, that the CoC must contain the candidate's representation, under oath, that he or she is eligible for the
office aspired for, i.e., that he or she possesses the necessary eligibilities at the time he or she filed the CoC. This statement must
have also been considered to be true by the candidate to the best of his or her knowledge.

Section 74 of the OEC, which lists the information required to be provided in a CoC, states:
Sec. 74. 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; if for Member of the Batasang
Pambansa, the province, including its component cities, highly urbanized city or district or sector which he seeks to represent;
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. [italics and underscoring supplied]

More specifically, COMELEC Resolution No. 9984 requires the following to be contained in the 2015 CoC:
Section 4. Contents and Form of Certificate of Candidacy. The COC shall be under oath and shall state:

a. office aspired for;

xxx xxx xxx

g. citizenship, whether natural-born or naturalized;

xxx xxx xxx

k. legal residence, giving the exact address and the number of years residing in the Philippines . . .;

xxx xxx xxx

n. that the aspirant is eligible for said office;

xxx xxx xxx


t. that the facts stated in the certificate are true and correct to the best of the aspirant's knowledge;

xxx xxx xxx

The COC shall be sworn to before a Notary Public or any official authorized to administer oath. COMELEC employees are
not authorized to administer oath, even in their capacities as notary public. [emphasis and underscoring supplied]

The oath, the representation of eligibility, and the representation that the statements in the CoC are true to the best of the
candidate's knowledge all operate as guarantees from the candidate that he or she has knowingly provided information
regarding his or her eligibility. The information he or she provided in the CoC should accordingly be considered a deliberate
representation on his or her part, and any falsehood regarding such eligibility would thus be considered deliberate.

In other words, once the status of a candidate's ineligibility has been determined, I do not find it necessary to establish a
candidate's deliberate intent to deceive the electorate, as he or she had already vouched for its veracity and is found to have
committed falsehood. The representations he or she has made in his or her CoC regarding the truth about his or her eligibility
comply with the requirement that he or she deliberately and knowingly falsely represented such information.

IV.G.2(a) Poe had the "Intent to Deceive"

But even if we were to consider deliberate intent to deceive as a separate element that needs to be established in a
Section 78 proceeding, I find that the COMELEC did not gravely abuse its discretion in concluding that Poe deliberately
falsely represented her residence and citizenship qualifications.

The COMELEC, in concluding that Poe had known of her ineligibilities to run for President, noted that she is a highly-
educated woman with a competent legal team at the time she filled up her 2012 and 2015 CoCs. As a highly educated woman,
she had the necessary capability to read and understand the plain meaning of the law. I add that she is now after the highest
post in the land where the understanding of the plain meaning of the law is extremely basic. HCaDIS

The COMELEC thus found it unconvincing that Poe would not have known how to fill up a pro-forma CoC, much less
commit an "honest mistake" in filling it up. (Interestingly, Poe never introduced any evidence explaining her "mistake" on the
residency issue, thus rendering it highly suspect.)

A plain reading of Article IV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution could have sufficiently appraised Poe of her
citizenship status. Article IV, Section 1 does not provide for the situation where the identities of both an individual's parents from
whom citizenship may be traced are unknown. The ordinary meaning of this non-inclusion necessarily means that she cannot be a
Philippine citizen under the 1935 Constitution's terms.

The COMELEC also found that Poe's Petition for Reacquisition of Philippine citizenship before the BID deliberately
misrepresented her status as a former natural-born Philippine citizen, as it lists her adoptive parents to be her parents
without qualifications. The COMELEC also noted that Poe had been falsely representing her status as a Philippine citizen in
various public documents. All these involved a succession of falsities.

With respect to the required period of residency, Poe deliberately falsely represented that she had been a resident of the
Philippines for at least ten years prior to the May 9, 2016 elections. Poe's CoC when she ran for the Senate in the May 2013
national elections, however, shows that she then admitted that she had been residing in the Philippines for only six years
and six months. Had she continued counting the period of her residence based on the information she provided in her 2012 CoC,
she would have been three months short of the required Philippine residence of ten years. Instead of adopting the same
representation, her 2015 CoC shows that she has been residing in the Philippines from May 24, 2005, and has thus been
residing in the Philippines for more than ten years.

To the COMELEC, Poe's subsequent change in counting the period of her residence, along with the circumstances behind
this change, strongly indicates her intent to mislead the electorate regarding her eligibility.

First, at the time Poe executed her 2012 CoC, she was already a high-ranking public official who could not feign
ignorance regarding the requirement of establishing legal domicile. She also presumably had a team of legal advisers at the time
she executed this CoC as she was then the Chair of the Movies and Television Review and Clarificatory Board (MTRCB). She also
had experience in dealing with the qualifications for the presidency, considering that she is the adoptive daughter of a former
presidential candidate (who himself had to go to the Supreme Court because of his own qualifications).

Second, Poe's 2012 CoC had been taken under oath and can thus be considered an admission against interest
that cannot easily be brushed off or be set aside through the simplistic claim of "honest mistake."
Third, the evidence Poe submitted to prove that she established her residence (or domicile) in the Philippines as she now
claims, mostly refer to events prior to her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, contrary to the established jurisprudence
requiring Philippine citizenship in establishing legal domicile in the Philippines for election purposes.

Fourth, that Poe allegedly had no life-changing event on November 2006 (the starting point for counting her residence in
her 2012 CoC) does not prove that she did not establish legal domicile in the Philippines at that time.

Lastly, Poe announced the change in the starting point of her residency period when she was already publicly known to
be considering a run for the presidency; thus,it appears likely that the change was made to comply with the residence period
requirement for the presidency.

These COMELEC considerations, to my mind, do not indicate grave abuse of discretion. I note particularly that
Poe's false representation regarding her Philippine citizenship did not merely involve a single and isolated statement, but a
series of acts a series of falsities that started from her RA No. 9225 application, as can be seen from the presented public
documents recognizing her citizenship.

I note that Poe's original certificate of live birth (foundling certificate) does not indicate her Philippine citizenship, as she
had no known parents from whom her citizenship could be traced. Despite this, she had been issued various government
documents, such as a Voter's Identification Card and Philippine passport recognizing her Philippine citizenship. The issuance of
these subsequent documents alone should be grounds for heightened suspicions, given that Poe's original birth
certificate provided no information regarding her Philippine citizenship, and could not have been used as reference for
this citizenship.

Another basis for heightened suspicion is the timing in fact of Poe's amended birth certificate, which was issued on May 4,
2006 (applied for in November 2005), shortly before she applied for reacquisition of Philippine citizenship with the BID. This
amended certificate, where reference to being an adoptee has all been erased as allowed by law, was not used in Poe's RA No.
9225 BID application.

The timing of the application for this amended birth certificate strongly suggest that it was used purposely as a reserve
document in case questions are raised about Poe's birth; they became unnecessary and were not used when the BID accepted
Poe's statement under oath that she was a former natural-born citizen of the Philippine as required by RA No. 9225. AHCETa

That government documents that touched on Poe's birth origins had been tainted with irregularities and were
issued before Poe ran for elective office strongly indicate that at the time she executed her CoC, she knew that her claimed
Philippine citizenship was already tainted with discrepancies, and that she is not a Philippine citizen under Article IV,
Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution.

IV.G.3. Intent to Deceive in the Residency Issue.

On the residency issue, I find it worthy to add that the information in her 2012 CoC (for the Senate) complies with the
requirement that a person must first be a Philippine citizen to establish legal domicile in the Philippines. Based on Poe's 2012 COC,
her legal domicile in the Philippines began in November 2006, shortly after the BID issued the Order granting her reacquisition of
Philippine citizenship on July 18, 2006.

That her 2012 CoC complies with the ruling in Japzon v. Comelec, 77 a 2009 case requiring Philippine citizenship prior to
establishing legal domicile in the Philippines, indicates Poe's knowledge of this requirement.

It also indicates her present deliberate intent to deceive the electorate by changing the starting point of her claimed
residency in the Philippines to May 24, 2005 in order only to qualify under the Constitution's 10-year residency requirement. This,
she did despite being in the Philippines at that time as an alien under a balikbayan visa.

Under these facts and reasons, could the COMELEC have acted with grave abuse of discretion? Obviously, if reason
would be the norm, it did not.

IV.H. The misreading of the Constitution in Bengzon v. HRET.

The Court in Bengzon held (albeit in a ruling that found no grave abuse of discretion in the ruling of the HRET) 78 that the
repatriation of a former natural-born Filipino who lost his Philippine citizenship through naturalization as a citizen of another country
includes the reinstatement of his natural-born status.

According to Bengzon, the former natural-born Filipino was repatriated and was not naturalized into Philippine
citizenship. Since there are only two kinds of Philippine citizens under the 1987 Constitution, i.e., natural-born and naturalized
citizens, and Bengzon's repatriation did not amount to naturalization, then necessarily, he must be a natural-born citizen. This was
clearly a process of reasoning by elimination, an approach that requires a clear-cut and proper definition of the proffered choices in
order to be valid.

Even if Bengzon were a correct ruling, it cannot be applied outright to the case of Grace Poe in the absence of a prior
finding that she is a natural-born Filipino. I believe though that Bengzon is an incorrect ruling that should now be abandoned in light
of the definition of "natural-born citizen" under the 1987 Constitution and should not be applied at all to the case of Poe. The Court
majority, too, misappreciated the nature and characterization of repatriation and naturalization viewed from the prism of
the Constitution. This view, by the way, is the material and important view to consider in looking at a constitutional matter such as
citizenship.

Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution defines natural-born Philippine citizens "those who are citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship."

Two views have been expressed in interpreting the phrase "from birth" used by the Constitution in defining "natural-born
citizens."

The first is that found in Bengzon and in other cases with similar rulings: that "[a] person who at the time of his birth is a
citizen of a particular country, is a natural-born citizen thereof." Even if the natural-born citizen subsequently loses Philippine
citizenship by naturalization in a foreign country, as long as he or she renounces such foreign citizenship, he or she will regain such
natural-born citizen status.

The second interpretation is that espoused by the minority opinion in Bengzon: that once a Philippine citizen is
naturalized as citizen in a foreign country, he or she loses his or her natural-born citizen status and may not recover it even under
repatriation. Those espousing this view capitalize on the words "from birth" that the natural-born definition contains.

The word "from" is used as a function word to indicate a starting point: as (1) a point or place where an actual physical
movement has its beginning; (2) something that is taken as a starting point in measuring or reckoning or in a statement of limits; (3)
a starting or focal point of any activity or movement; a source, cause, means, or ultimate agent of an action or condition; a ground,
reason, or basis. 79

In contrast, the word "at" is used as a function word to indicate presence in, on, or near: as presence or occurrence in a
particular place; location, feeling, quality, condition; used as a function word to indicate age or position in time. 80

Thus, "from" implies continuity, i.e., a continuous and uninterrupted period, activity, movement, etc. that starts or begins
from a particular point, time, or place and continues thereafter; whereas "at" implies a single, specific, or particular point or place,
or a specific event occurring at a particular fixed point or place.

I believe that the second view espouses the true intent of the Constitution. The use of the word "from" indicates the
Constitutional intent to treat "natural-born citizen status" as a continuing uninterrupted event that begins from birth and
continues until the citizen dies, and implies a continuing relationship between the sovereign State and its people. This
conclusion is truer still when the Constitution's definition of natural-born citizen is considered with the other provisions which require
natural-born citizen status as qualification for holding key government elective and appointive positions. ScHADI

The first view treats "'natural-born citizen status" as fixed and inchoate, determined solely from the fact of having been
born a Philippine citizen without having performed any act to acquire or perfect such citizenship.

In effect, the first view believes that a person's natural-born status is a fixed and unalterable status. The natural-born
citizen status is determined as of the moment of birth, independent of subsequent events that may have caused the loss of that
citizenship in the interim; as long as natural-born citizen status is fixed at birth, it can never be lost.

This interpretation, however, is fraught with danger, for it would practically allow "natural-born strangers" to be elected into
public office, subject to residency requirements. It must be noted that "natural-born citizen" status means more than a mere blood
relation acquired from birth; rather, it is a privilege which entitles a citizen to favorable Constitutional provisions. Concomitantly, it
also entails a jealous allegiance to this country for these privileges to be enjoyed.

The phrase "without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship" should be interpreted
likewise as continuing and uninterrupted from birth. The "without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect" is the
characteristic or unique condition that defines and distinguishes natural-born from naturalized citizen status.

Under this interpretation, the absence of any acquiring or perfecting act must not only be present at birth, but must
continue in order for the Philippine citizen to be a natural-born citizen. A Philippine citizen who, after having lost Philippine
citizenship by naturalization in a foreign country, subsequently reacquires such citizenship through any of the means allowed under
the law is not and is no longer a Philippine citizen who acquired such citizenship without having to perform any act to acquire or
perfect it.

From the constitutional perspective, repatriation is a form of naturalization provided by law, in the same way that the
reacquisition of Philippine citizenship expedites the naturalization of foreigners who used to be natural-born Philippine citizens.

Naturalization involves the grant of citizenship to a foreigner, upon his or her compliance with the requirements for
acquiring citizenship.

In the Philippines, the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by a foreigner is governed by CA 63, 81 which speaks of three
modes that are essentially based on the grounds for the loss of citizenship:
(1) By naturalization: Provided, That the applicant possess none of the disqualification's prescribed in section two of Act
Numbered Twenty-nine hundred and twenty-seven,

(2) By repatriation of deserters of the Army, Navy or Air Corp: Provided, That a woman who lost her citizenship by reason of her
marriage to an alien may be repatriated in accordance with the provisions of this Act after the termination of the marital
status; and

(3) By direct act of the National Assembly. [emphases supplied]

Republic Act No. 2630 82 (RA 2630) subsequently added another category of reacquisition of lost Filipino citizenship, as
follows:
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 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. [emphases supplied]

Contrary to the Court's conclusion in Bengzon, repatriation is a form of expedited naturalization provided by CA 63
and RA No. 2630 for former Philippine citizens who lost their citizenship under particular circumstances. Through these
laws, Philippine citizens who deserted the Philippine armed forces; those who served in the U.S. armed forces and were
subsequently naturalized as U.S. citizens; and women who lost their citizenship though marriage to a foreigner and who thereby
lost their Philippine citizenship, may reacquire their Philippine citizenship upon the execution of an oath of allegiance to the
Philippines.

Note that CA 63 itself recognizes these people as foreigners, because Section 1 of CA 63 divests them of
Philippine citizenship. Section 1 provides:

Section 1. How citizenship may be lost. A Filipino citizen may lose his citizenship in any of the following ways and/or
events:

xxx xxx xxx

(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 the 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 Republic of the Philippines during the period of his service to, or commission in, the armed forces of
said foreign 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; aICcHA

xxx xxx xxx

(6) By having been declared by competent authority, a deserter of the Philippine armed forces in time of war, unless
subsequently, a plenary pardon or amnesty has been granted; and

(7) In the case of a woman, upon her marriage to a foreigner if, by virtue of the laws in force in her husband's country, she
acquires his nationality. [emphases and italics supplied]
Even RA No. 2630 recognizes that those who avail of its repatriation process are NOT Philippine citizens, viz.:
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 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. [emphases, italics, and underscoring supplied]

Thus, in the eyes of Philippine law, these people lost their Philippine citizenship because of the overt acts they performed,
and, hence, are no longer Philippine citizens. The execution of an oath of allegiance is the procedure through which they can regain
their Philippine citizenship. That they did not have to go through the tedious process of naturalization provided under CA 63 is
immaterial in determining their status as naturalized Filipinos.

Under these legal realities, the RA No. 2630 process (like the RA No. 9225 process) is simply a citizenship-acquisition
mode that addresses a specific class of foreigners and non-Filipinos who are required to show their links to the Filipino nation
before they may acquire Philippine citizenship. Presumably, former Philippine citizens who wish to become Philippine citizens once
again already possess these ties, and thus had been provided with a more expeditious process of citizenship acquisition. In the
same manner, a foreigner who acquires Philippine citizenship through a direct act of Congress would have presumably been
examined by Congress for ties to the Filipino nation.

From this perspective, repatriation and citizenship by direct act of Congress are naturalization processes that differ only
from the naturalization of complete foreigners through the intricacy of the process involved. The first, repatriation, applies to
foreigners who had been former Philippine citizens, and merely require them to execute an oath of allegiance to the Republic.
The second, on the other hand, applies to foreigners who have secured a legislative grant of citizenship.

These two categories must fall under "naturalization as provided by law" provision of the 1935, 1973, and 1987
Constitutions as they cannot fall under any other category in the Constitution's listing of who are citizens of the Philippines.

Based on these considerations, the Court's misplaced treatment of repatriation in Bengzon amounts to an interpretation
contrary to the clear words and intent of the Constitution, as it allows naturalized Philippine citizens to enjoy privileges reserved
solely for natural-born Philippine citizens.

Blindly applying Bengzon to the present case would amount to violating or condoning the violation of the constitutional
provision limiting specified public offices to natural-born Philippine citizens. We would thereby allow Filipinos who have voluntarily
relinquished their Philippine citizenship for political privileges in another country, to hold positions limited to natural-born Philippine
citizens, despite the reality that undergoing a naturalization process to reacquire Philippine citizenship contravenes the
maintenance portion required to be considered natural-born as this term is explicitly defined by the Constitution.

The possibility of committing and perpetuating an unconstitutionality, to my mind, is the strongest and most
compelling reason not to follow Bengzonas precedent in the present case.

V. THE RESIDENCY ISSUE

V.A. The Ponencia's Essential Problems on Residency.

With seeming sincerity and candor, the ponencia holds that "Petitioner's claim that she will have been a resident for ten
(10 years and eleven (11) months on the day before the 2016, is true." To make this claim, Grace Poe computed her "residence" in
the Philippines from May 24, 2005. To support this claim, the ponencia cites "voluminous" evidence showing that "she and her
family abandoned U.S. domicile and relocated to the Philippines for good."

I essentially find the ponencia's statement objectionable hence, the description "with seeming sincerity and candor"
as the ponencia thereby sought to slide past the mandated mode of review by the statement that Grace Poe's claim "is true." EHaASD

V.A.1. Significance of Certiorari as Mode of Review

As heretofore discussed, the constitutionally-imposed mode of review is via a petition for certiorari, not via an appeal,
because the COMELEC is an independent commission and the Constitution accords its findings, particularly of facts, the highest
respect. Unless therefore grave abuse of discretion can be shown, this Court should uphold the COMELEC's findings of facts. Poe
sought to slide past this mode of review in two ways.

First is via its position that the COMELEC does not have jurisdiction to entertain the CoC cancellation as it pertains to
eligibility and no prior findings have been made or shown. This matter has been discussed in the consideration of COMELEC
jurisdiction.
The second way is via the argument the ponencia poses that Poe's voluminous residency evidence is undisputed but
COMELEC refused to consider that her domicile had been changed as of May 24, 2005. The ponencia apparently intended to claim
grave abuse of discretion based on the arbitrariness in the COMELEC's refusal.

COMELEC's Refusal to Consider Poe's Evidence.

In arguing that the COMELEC failed to consider Poe's, the ponencia missed a critical legal point that the evidence do
not stand by themselves to be nakedly interpreted by the decision maker. The evidence are appreciated on the basis of the
applicable law, hence it was rash for the ponencia to claim that Poe had been "domiciled" in the Philippines since 24 May 2005
since "domicile" is a legal term that connotes a physical evidence characterized by the applicable law.

The physical evidence that perhaps had not been disputed is that Poe had "physically stayed" in the Philippines since May
24, 2005; whether this stay amounted to "domicile" in the Philippines is another matter as by law and jurisprudence, certain
requisites have to be fulfilled before domicile can be changed or established in a new place. But the failure to characterize the
undisputed stay as "domicile" can in no way be considered grave abuse of discretion.

Domicile and How it is Changed.

Two essential questions have to be answered in these regards. The first is what is residence or domicile and how is it
changed. The second question, related to the first, is when does a foreigner (i.e., a non-citizen of the Philippines) start to be
characterized as a resident for purposes of the exercise of the political rights he or she wishes to exercise, such as the right to vote
and to be voted for.

To recall, Poe became a naturalized citizen of the United States (U.S.) in 2001, ten (10) years after she married her
American husband. When Poe became a naturalized Philippine citizen, she had abandoned her residence in the Philippines and
established a new domicile in the U.S.

Thus, as Poe stood when she returned to the Philippines in 2005, she was a foreigner domiciled in the U.S. and who was
aspiring to return to Philippine citizenship; she was also a foreigner who was temporarily in the Philippines but who wanted to stay
permanently as a citizen. These two objectives related to two separate acts and involve two separate concepts that at some point
are related with one another.

In terms of change of domicile, Poe would have to re-establish her domicile in the Philippines, and this raises the second
question: when is stay in the Philippines considered to be the required residence that satisfies the 10-year residency requirement?

The decided cases on these points Coquilla v. COMELEC; 83 Japzon v. COMELEC; 84 and Caballero v. COMELEC 85
are one in counting the period of legal residence in the Philippines from the time the candidate reacquired Philippine citizenship.

Poe resists these rulings and insists that she established her legal residence in the Philippines beginning May 24,
2005, i.e., even before the BID Order, declaring her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, was issued on July 18, 2006.

The ponencia itself distinguished her situation from Coquilla, Japzon, and Caballero, on the position that the candidates in
these cases did not prove their legal residence in the Philippines before acquiring their Philippine citizenship.

In contrast, Poe claims to have sufficiently proven that she established her domicile in the Philippines as early as May 24,
2005, or ten years and eleven months prior to the May 9, 2016 elections. That the COMELEC ignored the evidence she presented
on this point constitutes grave abuse of discretion. The evidence that Poe submitted, in the ponencia's own words, included:
". . . petitioner's former U.S. passport showing her arrival on May 24, 2005 and her return to the Philippines everytime
she travelled abroad; email 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; email with the Philippine Bureau of
Animal Industry inquiring how to ship their dog to the Philippines; school records of her children showing enrolment 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 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 settlement 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 May 24, 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)."

To my mind, the conclusion in Japzon and Caballero is not just based on the evidence that the candidates therein
presented. The conclusion that candidates who reacquired Philippine citizenship under RA No. 9225 may only establish residence
in the Philippines after becoming Philippine citizens reflects the character of the right to establish a new domicile for
purposes of participating in electoral exercises as a political right that only Philippine citizens can exercise.

Following this line of thought, Poe could only begin establishing her domicile in the Philippines on July 18, 2006, the date
the BID granted her petition for reacquisition of Philippine citizenship.

Furthermore, an exhaustive review of the evidence Poe presented to support her view shows that as of May 24,
2005, Poe had not complied with the requirements for establishing a new domicile of choice. This is discussed as a
separate topic below.

Domicile for purposes of the exercise of rights.

The term "residence" is an elastic concept that should be understood and construed according to the object or purpose of
the statute in which it is employed. We have case law distinguishing residence to mean actual residence, in contrast with domicile,
which pertains to a permanent abode. Note, however, that both terms imply a relation between a person and a place. 86 Determining
which connotation applies depends on the statute in which it is found.

Generally, we have used the term "residence" to mean actual residence when pertaining to the exercise of civil rights and
fulfilment of civil obligations.

Residence, in this sense pertains to a place of abode, whether permanent or temporary, or as the Civil Code aptly
describes it, a place of habitual residence. Thus, the Civil Code provides:
Art. 50. For the exercise of civil rights and the fulfillment of civil obligations, the domicile of natural persons is the place of
their habitual residence. (40a)

Art. 51. When the law creating or recognizing them, or any other provision does not fix the domicile of juridical persons, the
same shall be understood to be the place where their legal representation is established or where they exercise their principal
functions. (41a) [emphases supplied] SICDAa

Actual residence for purposes of civil rights and obligations may be further delineated into residence in the Philippines, or
residence in a municipality in the Philippines, depending on the purpose of the law in which they are employed. 87

On the other hand, we generally reserve the use of the term residence as domicile for purposes of exercising political
rights. Jurisprudence has long established that the term "residence" in election laws is synonymous with domicile. When the
Constitution or the election laws speak of residence, it refers to the legal or juridical relation between a person and a
place the individual's permanent home irrespective of physical presence.

To be sure, physical presence is a major indicator when determining the person's legal or juridical relation with the place
he or she intends to vote or be voted for. But, as residence and domicile are synonymous under our election laws, residence is a
legal concept that has to be determined by and in connection with our laws, independent of or in conjunction with physical
presence.

Domicile is classified into three, namely: (1) domicile of origin, which is acquired by every person at birth; (2) domicile of
choice, which is acquired upon abandonment of the domicile of origin; and (3) domicile by operation of law, which the law attributes
to a person independently of his residence or intention.

Domicile of origin is the domicile of a person's parents at the time of his or her birth. It is not easily lost and continues until,
upon reaching the majority age, he or she abandons it and acquires a new domicile, which new domicile is the domicile of choice.

The concept of domicile is further distinguished between residence in a particular municipality, city, province, or the
Philippines, depending on the political right to be exercised. Philippine citizens must be residents of the Philippines to be eligible to
vote, but to be able to vote for elective officials of particular local government units, he must be a resident of the geographical
coverage of the particular local government unit.

To effect a change of domicile, a person must comply with the following requirements: (1) an actual removal or an actual
change of domicile; (2) a bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and establishing a new one; and (3) acts
which correspond with such purpose.

In other words, a change of residence requires animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. The intent to
remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the
residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be actual. 88

Under these requirements, no specific unbending rule exists in the appreciation of compliance because of the element of
intent 89 an abstract and subjective proposition that can only be determined from the surrounding circumstances. It must he
appreciated, too, that aside from intent is the question of the actions taken pursuant to the intent, to be considered in the light
of the applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

Jurisprudence, too, has laid out three basic foundational rules in the consideration of residency issues, namely:

First, a man must have a residence or domicile somewhere;

Second, when once established, it remains until a new one is acquired; and

Third, a man can have but one residence or domicile at a time. 90

These jurisprudential foundational rules, hand in hand with the established rules on change of domicile, should be fully
taken into account in appreciating Poe's circumstances.

The right to establish domicile is imbued


with the character of a political right that
only citizens may exercise.

Domicile is necessary to be able to participate in governance; to vote and/or he voted for, one must consider a locality in
the Philippines as his or her permanent home, a place in which he intends to remain in for an indefinite period of time (animus
manendi) and to return to should he leave (animus revertendi).

In this sense, the establishment of a domicile not only assumes the color of, but becomes one with a political right,
because it allows a person, not otherwise able, to participate in the electoral process of that place. To logically carry this line of
thought a step further, a person seeking to establish domicile in a country must first posses the necessary citizenship to exercise
this political right. Philippine citizenship is necessary to participate in governance and exercise political rights in the Philippines. The
preamble of our 1987 Constitution cannot be clearer on this point:
We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society,
and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop
our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law
and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution. [emphases,
italics, and underscoring supplied]

It is the sovereign Filipino people (i.e., the citizens through whom the State exercises sovereignty, and who can vote and
participate in governance) who shallestablish the Government of the country (i.e., one of the purposes why citizens get together
and collectively act), and they themselves ordain and promulgate the Constitution (i.e., the citizens themselves directly act, not
anybody else). DHIcET

Corollarily, a person who does not possess Philippine citizenship, i.e., an alien, cannot participate in the country's political
processes. An alien does not have the right to vote and be voted for, the right to donate to campaign funds, the right to campaign
for or aid any candidate or political party, and to directly, or indirectly, take part in or influence in any manner any election.

The character of the right to establish domicile as a political right becomes even more evident under our election laws that
require that a person's domicile and citizenship coincide to enable him to vote and be voted for elective office. In more concrete
terms (subject only to a few specific exceptions), a Philippine citizen must have his domicile in the Philippines in order to participate
in our electoral processes.

Thus, a Philippine citizen who has chosen to reside permanently abroad may be allowed the limited opportunity to vote
(under the conditions laid down under the Overseas Absentee Voting Act) 91 but he or she cannot be voted for; he or she is
disqualified from running for elective office under Section 68 of the OEC. 92

In the same light, an alien who has been granted a permanent resident visa in the Philippines does not have the right of
suffrage in the Philippines, and this should include the right to establish legal domicile for purposes of election laws. An
alien can reside in the Philippines for a long time, but his stay, no matter how lengthy, will not allow him to participate in our political
processes.

Thus, an inextricable link exists among citizenship, domicile, and sovereignty; citizenship and domicile must
coincide in order to participate as a component of the sovereign Filipino people.

In plainer terms, domicile for election law purposes cannot be established without first becoming a Philippine
citizen; these elements must coincide and exist together for the exercise of participating in governance.
The right to RE-ESTABLISH domicile in the
Philippines may be exercised only after reacquiring
Philippine citizenship.

Unless a change of domicile is validly effected, one


with reacquired Filipino citizenship acquires the right
to reside in the country, but must have a change of
domicile; otherwise, he is a Filipino physically in the
Philippines but is domiciled elsewhere.

Once a Philippine citizen permanently resides in another country, or becomes a naturalized citizen thereof, he loses his
domicile of birth (the Philippines) and establishes a new domicile of choice in that country. This was what happened to Poe.

If a former Filipino reacquires his or her Philippine citizenship, he reacquires as well the civil and political right to reside in
the Philippines, but he does not become a Philippine domiciliary unless he validly effects a change of domicile; otherwise, he
remains a Filipino physically in the Philippines but is domiciled elsewhere. The reason is simple: an individual can have
only one domicile which remains until it is validly changed.

In Coquilla, 93 the Court pointed out that "immigration to the [U.S.] by virtue of a green card, which entitles one to reside
permanently in that country, constitutes abandonment of domicile in the Philippines. With more reason then does naturalization in a
foreign country result in an abandonment of domicile in the Philippines."

Thus, Philippine citizens who are naturalized as citizens of another country not only abandon their Philippine citizenship;
they also abandon their domicile in the Philippines. Again, this was what happened to Poe.

To re-establish the Philippines as his or her new domicile of choice, a returning former Philippine citizen must thus comply
with the requirements of physical presence for the required period (when exercising his political right), animus manendi,
and animus non-revertendi. These are the requirements that Poe was required to comply with.

Several laws govern the reacquisition of Philippine citizenship by former Philippine citizens-aliens each providing for a
different mode of, and different requirements for, Philippine citizenship reacquisition. These laws are Commonwealth Act (CA) No.
473; RA No. 8171; and RA No. 9225.

All these laws are meant to facilitate an alien's reacquisition of Philippine citizenship by law.

CA No. 473 94 as amended, 95 governs reacquisition of Philippine citizenship by naturalization; it is also a mode for
original acquisition of Philippine citizenship.

RA No. 8171, 96 on the other hand, governs repatriation of Filipino women who lost Philippine citizenship by marriage to
aliens and Filipinos who lost Philippine citizenship by political or economic necessity; while

RA No. 9225 97 governs repatriation of former natural-born Filipinos in general.

Whether termed as naturalization, reacquisition, or repatriation, all these modes fall under the constitutional term
"'naturalized in accordance with law" as provided under the 1935, the 1973, and the 1935 n Constitutions.

Notably, CA No. 473 provides a more stringent procedure for acquiring Philippine citizenship than RA Nos. 9225 and 8171
both of which provide for a more expedited process. Note, too, that under our Constitution, there are only two kinds of Philippine
citizens: natural-born and naturalized. HcDSaT

As RA Nos. 8171 and 9225 apply only to former natural-born Filipinos (who lost their Philippine citizenship by foreign
naturalization), CA No. 473 which is both a mode for acquisition and reacquisition of Philippine citizenship logically applies in
general to all former Filipinos regardless of the character of their Philippine citizenship,i.e., natural-born or naturalized.

The difference in the procedure provided by these modes of Philippine citizenship reacquisition presumably lies in the
assumption that those who had previously been natural-born Philippine citizens already have had ties with the Philippines for
having been directly descended from Filipino citizens or by virtue of their bloodand are well-versed in its customs and
traditions; on the other hand, the alien-former Filipino in general (and no matter how long they have resided in the Philippines)
could not be presumed to have such ties.

In fact, CA No. 473 specifically requires that an applicant for Philippine citizenship must have resided in the Philippines for
at least six months before his application for reacquisition by naturalization.
Ujano v. Republic 98 interpreted this residence requirement to mean domicile, that is, prior to applying for naturalization, the
applicant must have maintained a permanent residence in the Philippines. In this sense, Ujano held that an alien staying in the
Philippines under a temporary visa does not comply with the residence requirement; to become a qualified applicant, an alien must
have secured a permanent resident visa to stay in the Philippines. Obtaining a permanent resident visa was, thus, viewed as the
act that establishes domicile in the Philippines for purposes of complying with CA No. 473.

The ruling in Ujano is presumably the reason for the Court's statement that residence may be waived separately from
citizenship in Coquilla. In Coquilla, the Court observed that:
The status of being an alien and a non-resident can be waived either separately, when one acquires the status of a
resident alien before acquiring Philippine citizenship, or at the same time when one acquires Philippine citizenship . As an alien,
an individual may obtain an immigrant visa under 13[28] of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1948 and an Immigrant Certificate
of Residence (ICR)[29] and thus waive his status as a non-resident. On the other hand, he may acquire Philippine citizenship
by naturalization under C.A. No. 473, as amended, or, if he is a former Philippine national, he may reacquire Philippine
citizenship by repatriation or by an act of Congress, in which case he waives not only his status as an alien but also his status
as a non-resident alien. 99 [underscoring supplied]

The separate waiver refers to the application for Philippine citizenship under CA No. 437, which requires that the applicant
alien be domiciled in the Philippines as evidenced by a permanent resident visa. An alien intending to become a Philippine citizen
may avail of CA No. 473 and must first waive his domicile in his country of origin to be considered a permanent resident alien in the
Philippines, or he may establish domicile in the Philippines after becoming a Philippine citizen through direct act of Congress.

Note that the permanent residence requirement under CA No. 473 does not provide the applicant alien with the
right to participate in the country's political process, and should thus be distinguished from domicile in election laws.

In other words, an alien may be considered a permanent resident of the Philippines, but without Philippine citizenship, his
stay cannot be considered in establishing domicile in the Philippines for purposes of exercising political rights. Neither could this
period be retroactively counted upon gaining Philippine citizenship, as his stay in the Philippines at that time was as an alien with
no political rights.

In these lights, I do not believe that a person reacquiring Philippine citizenship under RA No. 9225 could
separately establish domicile in the Philippines prior to becoming a Philippine citizen, as the right to establish domicile
has, as earlier pointed out, the character of a political right.

RA No. 9225 restores Philippine citizenship upon the applicant's submission of the oath of allegiance to the Philippines
and other pertinent documents to the BID (or the Philippine consul should the applicant avail of RA No. 9225 while they remain in
their country of foreign naturalization). The BID (or the Philippine consul) then reviews these documents, and issues the
corresponding order recognizing the applicant's reacquisition of Philippine citizenship.

Upon reacquisition of Philippine citizenship under RA No. 9225, a person becomes entitled to full political and civil rights,
subject to its attendant liabilities and responsibilities. These rights include the right to re-establish domicile in the Philippines for
purposes of participating in the country's electoral processes.

Thus, a person who has reacquired Philippine citizenship under RA No. 9225 does not automatically become
domiciled in the Philippines, but is given the option to establish domicile in the Philippines to participate in the country's
electoral process.

This, to my mind, is the underlying reason behind the Court's consistent ruling in Coquilla, Japzon, and Caballero that
domicile in the Philippines can be considered established only upon, or after, the reacquisition of Philippine citizenship under the
expedited processes of RA No. 8171 or RA No. 9225. For foreigners becoming Filipino citizens, domicile is a matter of choice, but
the choice can be made only by one who has acquired the right to choose. In other words, only one who has attained Filipino
citizenship can establish his domicile as an exercise of a political right. ASTcaE

To recapitulate, the Court in these three cases held that the candidates therein could have established their domicile in the
Philippines only after reacquiring their Philippine citizenship.

Thus, the Court in Coquilla said:


In any event, the fact is that, by having been naturalized abroad, he lost his Philippine citizenship and with it his
residence in the Philippines. Until his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship on November 10, 2000, petitioner did not reacquire
his legal residence in this country. 100 [underscoring supplied]

In Japzon, the Court noted:


"[Ty's] reacquisition of his Philippine citizenship under [RA] No. 9225 had no automatic impact or effect on his
residence/domicile. He could still retain his domicile in the USA, and he did not necessarily regain his domicile in the
Municipality of General Macarthur, Eastern Samar, Philippines. Ty merely had the option to again establish his domicile in the
Municipality of General Macarthur, Eastern Samar, Philippines, said place becoming his new domicile of choice. The length of
his residence therein shall be determined from the time he made it his domicile of choice, and it shall not retroact to the time of
his birth. 101

Caballero, after quoting Japzon, held:


Hence, petitioner's retention of his Philippine citizenship under RA No. 9225 did not automatically make him regain
his residence in Uyugan, Batanes. He must still prove that after becoming a Philippine citizen on September 13, 2012, he had
reestablished Uyugan, Batanes as his new domicile of choice which is reckoned from the time he made it as such. 102

In these lights, the COMELEC correctly applied the doctrine laid out in Coquilla, Japzon, and Caballero in Poe's
case, i.e., that her physical presence allegedly coupled with intent should be counted, for election purposes, only from
her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship or surrender of her immigrant status. Any period of residence prior to such
reacquisition of Philippine citizenship or surrender of immigrant status cannot simply be counted for Poe as she was at
that time an alien non-resident who had no right to permanently reside anywhere in the Philippines.

V.A.2. Compliance with the requirements for change of residence

The COMELEC, in its evaluation of the pieces of evidence presented before it, presumably assessed all these and gave
each evidence its own weight and credibility, and reached the conclusion that Poe had not complied with the required residence
period. And this is where the mode of review, adverted to above, becomes critical, as the question before us is not whether the
COMELEC committed legal errors in its conclusion, but whether its conclusion had been reached with grave abuse of discretion.

On certiorari, the ponencia concluded from these submitted evidence presented in Poe's petition to the Court to be
sufficient to show that she had establish her residence in the Philippines for more than ten years.

Was it grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC to conclude that Poe had not yet complied with the ten-year
residence period at the time she filed her CoC?

I found then, as I still do now, that the COMELEC did not gravely abuse its discretion in concluding that Poe has not yet
complied with the ten-year residence requirement and materially misrepresented her compliance in her CoC.

The evidence Poe submitted in establishing her residence may have shown her animus manendi or intent to remain in
the Philippines but does not establish heranimus non-revertendi, or intent not to return in her current domicile, i.e., the U.S.

As discussed above, a person must show that he or she has animus non-revertendi, or intent to abandon his or her old
domicile. This requirement reflects two key characteristics of a domicile: first, that a person can have only one residence at any
time, and second, that a person is considered to have an animus revertendi (intent to return) to his current domicile.

Thus, for a person to demonstrate his or her animus non-revertendi to the old domicile, he or she must have abandoned it
completely, such that he or she can no longer entertain any animus revertendi with respect to such old domicile. This complete
abandonment is necessary in light of the one-domicile rule.

In more concrete terms, a person seeking to demonstrate his or her animus non-revertendi must not only leave the old
domicile and is no longer physically present there, he or she must have also shown acts cancelling his or her animus revertendi to
that place.

Such showing is necessary as a person who simply leaves his or her domicile is considered not to have abandoned it so
long as he or she has animus revertendi or intent to return to it. We have allowed the defense of animus revertendi for challenges to
a person's domicile because he or she has left it for a period of time. We held that a person's domicile, once established, does not
automatically change simply because he or she has not stayed in that place for a period of time.

Applying these principles to Poe's case, as of May 24, 2005, her overt acts may have established an intent to remain
in the Philippines, but do not comply with the required animus non-revertendi with respect to the U.S., the domicile that
she was abandoning. cDSAEI

On May 24, 2005, Poe and her family's home was still in the U.S. as they sold their U.S. family home only on April
27, 2006. They also officially informed the U.S. Postal Service of their change of their U.S. address only in late March 2006.
Lastly, as of this date (May 24, 2005), Poe's husband was still in the U.S. and was a U.S. legal resident.

Taken together, these facts show that as of May 24, 2005, Poe had not completely abandoned her domicile in the U.S.;
she had not established the necessary animus non-revertendi.
Note, too, that Poe's travel documents between May 24, 2005 and July 18, 2006 strongly support this conclusion.
During this period, she travelled to and from the Philippines under a balikbayan visa with a fixed period of validity, indicative that her
stay in the Philippines during this period was temporary.

While it is not impossible that she could have entered the Philippines under a balikbayan visa with the intent to eventually
establish domicile in the Philippines, her return to the U.S. several times while she was staying in the Philippines under a
temporary visa prevents me from agreeing to this possibility.

On the contrary, Poe's acts of leaving the Philippines for the U.S. as an American citizen who had previously stayed in the
Philippines under a temporary visa is an indication of her animus revertendi to the U.S., her old domicile.

Notably, between Poe's arrival on May 24, 2005 and her acquisition of Philippine citizenship, Poe made four trips to and
from the U.S. in a span of one year and two months; this frequency over a short period of time indicates and supports the
conclusion that she had not fully abandoned her domicile in the U.S. during this period.

Additionally, during this time, Poe continued to own two houses in the U.S., one purchased in 1992 and another in 2008
(or after her reacquisition of the Philippine citizenship). 103 While such acquisition is not prohibited because Poe was a dual Filipino-
American citizen, the ownership of these houses, considered together with her temporary visa in travelling to the Philippines from
May 24, 2005 to July 18, 2006, did not negate her animus revertendi to the U.S., i.e., as of May 24, 2005, she had not yet
completely abandoned the U.S. as her domicile.

In these lights, I do not think that it had been a grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Comelec to
apply Coquilla, Japzon, and Caballero in holding that a balikbayan visa is not indicative of animus non-revertendi. As with the
candidates in Coquilla, Japzon and Caballero, the evidence Poe presented had not been sufficient to show animus non-
reveretendi as she was only holding a balikbayan visa.

To reiterate for the sake of clarity, at the time Poe claims to have established her residence in the Philippines, she still had
properties in the U.S., including her family home. They also officially informed the U.S. Postal Service of their change of their U.S.
address only in late March 2006. She was also still an alien, a temporary visitor in the Philippines under a Balikbayan visa, and thus
could not have been a resident.

Thus, the COMELEC did not act with grave abuse of discretion when it considered Poe's evidence and concluded that
Poe had not yet establish her animus non-revertendi as of her claimed date of May 24, 2005.

VI. CONCLUSIONS AND CONSEQUENCES

If different sectors of our society have shown concern about the Court's ruling in this case, they have every reason for
alarm. This case involves, not simply a town councilor or a small town mayor, but the Presidency of the Republic whose stay in
office cannot be uncertain, facing as we do potential problem situations both from within and outside the country.

The ruling, too, may affect the results of the coming election as this development shall surely affect the people's choice of
candidate. A worse effect, that we can hope will not transpire, is a Poe electoral victory and continuing and pestering problems and
uncertainty about the final electoral outcome.

On a lesser scale perhaps, many problems also lurk, both immediate and practical, directly involving the COMELEC's
jurisdiction in Section 78 proceedings. The most immediate of these is the impact of the emasculation of the COMELEC on the
pending cases or on those that have not yet reached finality before the COMELEC.

To restate what happened, following the ponencia's pronouncements, the COMELEC was divested of its capability to
determine the eligibility of candidates as part of its function to resolve whether there had been a false material representation in his
CoC. Hence, the decisions it rendered in this capacity would have been rendered without jurisdiction.

Considering the timing of the release of our decision in Poe-Llamanzares v. COMELEC, the new doctrine the ruling
represents could affect the Section 78 cases pending reconsideration before the Comelec, as reversals of these decisions based
on the lack of jurisdiction of the COMELEC is a very real possibility.

Notably, the COMELEC has already printed close to 50 million ballots as of April 2, 2016. Section 78 cases pending
reconsideration before the COMELEC, which prior to the Poe-Llamanzares ruling could have been dismissed summarily, could now
be granted. If this would be the case, how then, could the names of these candidates be included in the CoC?

In the long term, the ponencia's impact on the COMELEC's jurisdiction would even be more insidious. Section 78 would in
effect be an almost impotent remedy, as the requirement of a finding of a "prior competent tribunal" or a "self-evident facts of
unquestioned or unquestionable veracity and judicial confessions" would make access to this remedy almost impossible. EDCcaS
Note, for instance, that a Section 78 petition can only be filed within a short time period as the COMELEC Rules of
Procedure provide:
Section 2. Period to File Petition. The Petition must be filed within five (5) days from the last day for filing of
certificate of candidacy; but not later than twenty five (25) days from the time of filing of the certificate of candidacy subject of
the petition . . .

Given this short time period, I do not think a competent tribunal's finding could be readily available as the basis for filing a
Section 78 petition.

Furthermore, it should be considered that Poe's representation regarding her residency in her 2012 CoC was actually a
self-evident fact whose veracity cannot be questioned, as it came from Poe herself. However, despite this admission,
the ponencia still opted not to consider this self-evident fact, and instead required the COMELEC to look into the truth of Poe's
subsequent claim of residence in her 2015 CoC.

Under this kind of reasoning, I cannot find a situation where the "self-evident fact" pointed out by the ponencia would be
able to fit in to a Section 78 proceeding. That the defense of good faith or honest mistake (as in the present case) is readily
available to candidates raises the standard of indubitability of the self-evident fact to the point of being impossible to determine.

In other words, if we were to require petitioners to provide a self-evident fact or a judicial confession to establish false
material representation, and at the same time allow the respondent-candidates the defense of good faith, we would be requiring
petitioners to present an unquestionable fact that candidates can just deny or feign lack of knowledge of, as in the present case
with Poe's honest mistake defense.

All these would not be easy to sort out. In the meanwhile, life goes on, hopefully with bliss despite the uncertainties that
this Court has injected into our electoral exercise and in the power of a supposedly independent commission.

For all the above reasons, particularly the almost total lack of legal and factual basis of the challenged ponencia, I vote to
grant the motions for reconsideration.

LEONEN, J., concurring:

I maintain my vote. I concur that the Motions for Reconsideration must be denied with finality.

Following the grant of the consolidated Petitions for Certiorari of Senator Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares in
G.R. No. 221697 and G.R. Nos. 221698-700, public respondent Commission on Elections filed its Motion for Reconsideration, and
private respondents Estrella C. Elamparo, Antonio P. Contreras, Amado D. Valdez, and Francisco S. Tatad filed an "Urgent Plea for
Reconsideration." This notwithstanding, private respondent Amado D. Valdez still proceeded to file his own Motion for
Reconsideration.

The Commission on Elections argues that there is neither factual nor legal basis for the ruling that petitioner is a qualified
candidate for President. There is no Supreme Court majority that found that petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen. Among the
fifteen (15) Justices who took part in the deliberation, only seven (7) voted that petitioner is natural-born. The other five (5) Justices
voted that petitioner is not a natural-born Filipino citizen, while three (3) voted not to rule on the issue of citizenship. 1

Based on this tally, the Commission on Elections concludes that there is no majority vote validating petitioner's
Presidential run, as required by Article VIII, Section 4 of the Constitution and Rule XII, Section 1 (a) of A.M. No. 10-4-20-SC
(Internal Rules of the Supreme Court):
1987 Constitution, Article VIII, Section 4. (1) The Supreme Court shall be composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate
Justices. It may sit en banc or, in its discretion, in division of three, five, or seven Members. Any vacancy shall be filled within
ninety days from the occurrence thereof.

(2) All cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, international or executive agreement, or law, which shall be heard by the
Supreme Court en banc, and all other cases which under the Rules of Court are required to be heard en banc, including those
involving the constitutionality, application, or operation of presidential decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances,
and other regulations, shall be decided with the concurrence of the majority of the Members who actually took part in the
deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon.

xxx xxx xxx

A.M. No. 10-4-20-SC, Rule XII, Section 1. Voting requirements. (a) All decisions and actions in Court en banc cases shall
be made upon the concurrence of the majority of the Members of the Court who actually took part in the deliberations on the
issue or issues involved and voted on them.
xxx xxx xxx

The Commission on Elections points out that there was no concurrence of the majority of the Members who actually took
part in the deliberations of the issues and voted thereon. 2

Further, according to the Commission on Elections, this Court's decision to leave the matter of citizenship eligibility for
resolution later after elections would only lead to a mockery of our elections. Allowing a presidential candidate with uncertain
citizenship to run and be elected President may cause chaos and anarchy. 3 This Court should re-deliberate the issue of citizenship
and see to it that only the Constitution, law, and jurisprudence become the overriding factors and considerations for its decision. 4

The Commission on Elections also argues that this Court effectively ruled against the Commission on Elections' exercise
of its power to deny due course or cancel a certificate of candidacy under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. The
Commission on Elections is, thus, "unduly emasculate[d]," with its powers and functions "rendere[d] illusory." 5 Ironically, this Court
relied on Fermin v. Commission on Elections 6 and Tecson v. Commission on Elections, 7 which affirmed the Commission on
Elections' power under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. 8 Citing the Dissenting Opinion of Associate Justice Arturo D.
Brion, the Commission on Elections argues that this Court disregarded the several cases where it ruled that the Commission on
Elections has the power to determine a candidate's eligibility as an integral part of its power to determine false material
misrepresentation. 9 ETHIDa

The Commission on Elections assails the finding that petitioner's blood relationship with a Filipino was
"demonstrable." 10 This Court cannot rely on statistics as statistics does not establish bloodline. This was not substantial evidence,
but merely speculative evidence. 11 Statistics cannot be the basis of a finding that the Commission on Elections gravely abused its
discretion in cancelling petitioner's Certificate of Candidacy.

On the issue of determination of material misrepresentation, the Commission on Elections cites Associate Justice Estela
Perlas-Bernabe's Dissenting Opinion stating that it is enough that the misrepresentation refers to a material qualification. 12 The
eligibility of a candidate is not determined by his or her good faith, but by law. 13

Furthermore, the Commission on Elections argues that the import of the 1934 Constitutional Convention Deliberations was
misconstrued by this Court. A reading of the deliberations would show that foundlings were never intended to be included among
those who are considered Filipino citizens. 14

Lastly, the Commission on Elections points out that petitioner did not comply with the residency requirement for President
under the Constitution.

Private respondents bewail how this Court "unconstitutionally strip[ped]" 15 the Commission on Elections of its powers in
delineating the extent of its competence in Section 78 petitions. They maintain that it has jurisdiction to make findings on petitioner's
qualification. 16 Paradoxically, they insist that it was an error for this Court while reviewing the Commission on Elections' actions
to make findings on petitioner's actual citizenship status and residence in the Philippines and thereby conclude that, in respect of
these, she possesses the qualification for President. 17 They not only assail these findings and conclusions but also intimate their
own impressions and conclusions on how this Court voted on these matters. 18

Private respondents maintain that petitioner is not a natural-born citizen. They find fault in this Court's invocation of the
Constitution's social justice underpinnings, 19reference to statistical tools, 20 and appreciation of the common normative thread in
international instruments. 21 As they did in the original proceedings before the Commission on Elections and in the preceding
episodes before this Court, they capitalize on the Constitution's silence on the specific matter of foundlings and reiterate their claim
that lack of knowledge as to a foundling's biological parents is fatal to their status as natural-born citizens. 22 In addition, they claim
that petitioner's acts to re-acquire Philippine citizenship, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9225, militate against her natural-born
status. 23

As to petitioner's residence, private respondents maintain that her re-acquisition of Philippine citizenship only on July 7,
2006 belies compliance with the ten-year residency requirement. They harp on a supposedly "uniform and
consistent" 24 jurisprudence Coquilla v. Commission on Elections, 25 Caballero v. Commission on Elections, 26 and Reyes v.
Commission on Elections 27 "to the effect that the earliest possible reckoning point for the re-establishment of domicile in the
Philippines can only be upon re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship." 28 They continue to rely on petitioner's return to the Philippines
as a "balikbayan" as supposedly belying domicile in the Philippines. 29

Private respondents also continue to insist that intent to deceive or mislead is not a requirement in Section 78 petitions.
However, they posit that even if this were not a requirement, petitioner still showed through her actions a deceptive animus. 30

The basic issues borne by the consolidated Petitions pertained to the Commission on Elections' grave abuse of discretion
in cancelling petitioner's Certificate of Candidacy for President in the May 9, 2016 elections. This overarching issue entailed an
examination of the extent of the Commission on Elections' jurisdiction and competence in petitions to deny due course to or to
cancel certificates of candidacy under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code. Related to this was the matter of whether a
candidate's deliberate intent to deceive is a necessary element for the cancellation of his or her certificate of candidacy. cSEDTC

With respect to petitioner, the issue was whether she made a material misrepresentation in her Certificate of Candidacy in
declaring that she was a natural-born Filipino citizen and that she has satisfied the requirement of ten-year residence in the
Philippines. Ruling on the matter of her citizenship required an evaluation of her status as a foundling whose biological parents are
unknown, as well as of her status as one who, years ago, was naturalized an American citizen, but eventually re-acquired
Philippine citizenship pursuant to Republic Act No. 9225. These, in turn, called for a consideration of burden of proof and of
fundamental principles as contained and expressed in the Constitution, in domestic law, and in binding international mechanisms
that animate the determination of citizenship of marginalized individuals like foundlings. This also entailed an appraisal of the
official acts of certain government organs that have previously made statements on petitioner's citizenship, in a milieu devoid of the
present day's partisanship. Evaluating her residence required a meticulous consideration of her actions beginning 2004, in light of
the settled principles governing residence in the context of election laws.

The constitutional, statutory, and jurisprudential foundations for my position on these points were fully explained in my
Concurring Opinion. I do not see the need to reiterate what has been adequately passed. The Motions for Reconsideration failed to
aver any sufficiently compelling reason to deviate from what this Court has already decided.

The Commission on Elections' insistence that the vote of this Court should lay to rest all issues regarding petitioner's
qualifications is a misguided view of the availability of remedies to all voters, a misunderstanding of the difference
between Certiorari on the one hand and Quo Warranto on the other, or an attempt to have the Constitution amended so that this
Court would not be the "sole judge of election contests relating to . . . qualifications for President." 31

A decision on these consolidated Petitions for Certiorari questioning the Commission on Elections' exercise of discretion
under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code does not legally bar any voter from challenging the "election, returns, and
qualifications" 32 of the President in an election contest before this Court. Nine (9) Justices addressed the question as to whether
the Commission on Elections had jurisdiction or, if it did have jurisdiction, whether the Commission gravely abused its discretion.
That was what was required by the remedy invoked by petitioner. Nine (9) of the Justices agreed that the Petition should be granted
with the consequence that the resolutions of the Commission on Elections be annulled and vacated, thus providing no obstacle for
petitioner's candidacy. How each of us arrived at that conclusion is fully explained in our concurring opinions.

That "chaos and anarchy" may result because this Court may, after the elections, declare petitioner as not qualified relies
on several premises that I cannot accept.

First, that the seventh paragraph of Article VII, Section 4 of the Constitution does not exist;

Second, that the electorate, composed of the People exercising their fundamental sovereign function, cannot make their
own evaluations of the meaning of the Constitution as well as of who, among the candidates, has the better qualifications to run for
President; SDAaTC

Third, that only the position presented by the movants and six (6) of the Justices make sense. The opinion of nine (9) of
the fifteen (15) Justices of this Court are so patently unreasonable and not supported by the Constitution, by law, and by
jurisprudence; and

Lastly, that this Court, acting on an election contest or a quo warranto action, should any be filed, will act in a particular
way in the future.

To predict "chaos and anarchy" as the Commission on Elections does in its Motion for Reconsideration, therefore, is to
caricature and simplify the extended opinions expressed by the Justices of this Court who did not agree with the Commission.
Worse, the evil that the Constitution sought to avoid by not endowing it with unbridled power to determine the qualification of a
candidate has come to pass. It is not unreasonable to fear that the Commission is now partial against a candidate for the elections
for President. Its actuations can easily be misinterpreted as participating in the partisan voices of those who are supporting a
different candidate for the elections.

To reduce the complex opinion of this Court is dangerous.

In 1928, Edward L. Bernays the intellectual guru that inspired the propaganda machinery of Nazi Germany, did "public
relations" for a host of companies, and softened the media for purposes of supporting the coup in Guatamela, among other
countries 33 published a book entitled Propaganda. In chilling and disturbing detail he opens his book, as follows:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important
element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government
which is the true ruling power of our country.

We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men [and women] we
have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human
beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

Our invisible governors, are in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in
the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our
daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the
relatively small number of persons a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million who understand the mental
processes and social patters of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social
forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.

It is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our group life. In
theory, every citizen may vote for whom he [or she] pleases. Our Constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the
mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to themselves the existence in our national politics of
anything like the modern political machine. But the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their
individual votes, cast, perhaps for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible
government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake
of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or
four.

In theory, every citizen makes up his [or her] mind on public questions and matters of private conduct. In practice, if
all [people] had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would
find it impossible to come to a conclusion about anything. We have voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government sift the data
and high-spot the outstanding issues so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions. From our leaders
and the media they use to reach the public, we accept the evidence and the demarcation of issues bearing upon public
questions; from some ethical teacher, be it a minister, a favorite essayist, or merely prevailing opinion, we accept a
standardized code of social conduct to which we conform most of the time.

In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him [or her] on the market. In practice, if every
one went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are
for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed. To avoid such confusion, society consents to have its choice
narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds. There is consequently a vast and
continuous effort going on to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or commodity or idea.

It might be better to have, instead of propaganda and special pleading, committees of wise men [and women] who
would choose our rulers, dictate our conduct, private and public, and decide upon the best types of clothes for us to wear and
the best kinds of food for us to eat. But we have chosen the opposite method, that of open competition. We must find a way to
make free competition function with reasonable smoothness. To achieve this, society has consented to permit free competition
to be organized by leadership and propaganda.

Some of the phenomena of this process are criticized the manipulation of news, the inflation of personality, and
the general ballyhoo by which politicians and commercial products and social ideas are brought to the consciousness of the
masses. The instruments by which public opinion is organized and focused may be misused. But such organization and
focusing are necessary to orderly life. 34 acEHCD

I reject the premise that propaganda is necessary to shape meaningful social consciousness in a democracy. With every
bone in my body, I refuse to accept that our People should forever be malleable through the maintenance of a political economy of
ignorance.

Yet, it is during elections that those who are part of our "invisible government" thrive. They attempt to shape opinion by
giving incomplete information. Press releases may be characterized by partisan simplification of complex issues of citizenship and
residence. Public relations are enhanced when they color speculative outcomes with strident voices or hysteria about a future with
"chaos and anarchy." The public is treated as a passive subject, vulnerable only to dominant sources of media and information. The
prize is not a strong and informed sovereign People; rather, it is the statistics of powerful pollsters prior to elections.

Lawyers and lawyers' groups may serve as witting or unwitting pawns to this tendency when they fail to present a
balanced but critical view of the opinion of this entire Court. True, it will take patience and an open mind to wade through all the
arguments packed in more than six hundred pages of opinion. Diligence and patience, however, is fundamental to a mature
democracy.
In deciding these consolidated Petitions, we have endeavored to be transparent and legible because we were all aware of
the possible repercussions of our Decision. The lengthy opinions were, to my mind, a tribute to our strong fighting faith that our
People can empower themselves by taking the time to read and analyze the various reasons why each of us came to our Decision.
After all, a critical and informed view is the mark of an empowered sovereign.

Reality is complex, nuanced, and layered with many dimensions. Understanding is always possible, but it only comes
about with patience, diligence, and a great deal of respect and understanding for the other standpoint. Each of us can come to our
own decision based on our own premises and in light of our own consciences and reasons. That the conclusion is not what one
expects should not be the sole basis to conclude that the contrary opinion is unreasonable, illogical, or brought about by some
malevolent motive.

Otherwise, we allow Bernays' "invisible government" to hold sway over the democracy we are all hoping to meaningfully
shape.

I respect the eloquent dissents by some of my colleagues. I have perused the Motions for Reconsideration. Yet, I still see
no reason to deviate from my earlier conclusions.

I maintain my vote.

ACCORDINGLY, I vote to DENY WITH FINALITY respondents' Motions for Reconsideration as the basic issues in this
case have been passed upon in our March 8, 2016 Decision. In view of this denial with finality, no further pleadings must be
allowed and entry of judgment must be made in due course.

MENDOZA, J., concurring:

I join the denial of the motions for reconsideration of the March 8, 2016 Decision where the Court held that the assailed
COMELEC resolutions were tainted with brave abuse of discretion when they cancelled the certificate of candidacy of Mary Grace
Poe as she did not commit a material misrepresentation in executing it.

This position, notwithstanding, I am expressing my reservation on the issue of residency. The Court should not in this case
make a definitive ruling on the matter, as it should be tackled and resolved by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, the sole judge of
all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the president-elect in appropriate cases.

Nevertheless, I share the view of the my esteemed colleague Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe that the Court's
interpretation of the COMELEC's jurisdiction under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code in Romualdez-Marcos v.
COMELEC, 1 Salcedo II v. COMELEC 2 and other succeeding cases should be abandoned. In those cases, it was held that the
statement in a certificate of candidacy "[b]ecomes material only when there is or appears to be a deliberate attempt to mislead,
misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible." 3 A reading of the said provision, however, reveals
that there no requirement of a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact, to wit:
Sec. 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 the person exclusively on the ground that any material
representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false. . . .

Indeed, Section 78 does not require that there be an intention to deceive for a certificate of candidacy to be denied due
course or be cancelled. The intent of a candidate with respect to a petition to deny due course to or cancel a candidacy is
immaterial. A candidate's material representation in his certificate of candidacy should be determined by fact or law and not
measured by his/her claim of good faith. Otherwise, the COMELEC would become impotent in petitions under Section 78 because
a questioned candidate can effortlessly evade scrutiny by simply invoking his good faith. It will defeat the COMELEC's power to
"[e]nforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall"
and to "[d]ecide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections." 4

Nevertheless, the abandonment of the doctrine under Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC and Salcedo II v.
COMELEC should be prospective in application. A sense of fairness dictates that those who relied on the Court's interpretation of
Section 78 in the past, including the petitioner herein, should not be prejudiced by its reversion. InMorales v. Court of Appeals and
Jejomar Erwin S. Binay, Jr., 5 where the condonation doctrine was reversed, the Court cautioned that it "should be prospective in
applicationfor 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." The Court added therein 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."
Accordingly, a candidate can still claim that he has no deliberate intent to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact from his/her
certificate of candidacy. AScHCD

PERALTA, J., concurring:

On March 8, 2016, the Court rendered a Decision with a dispositive portion that reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions, to wit:

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:

The 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:

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 ANNULLED 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. CAIHTE

On March 18, 2016, respondents Estrella C. Elamparo, Francisco S. Tatad, Antonio P. Contreras, and Amado D. Valdez
jointly filed an Urgent Plea for Reconsideration, arguing that: 1) the Court erred in declaring Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-
Llamanzares a qualified candidate; 2) the Court erred in declaring that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) did not have
jurisdiction; 3) the Court erred in declaring Poe a natural-born citizen by statistical probability, presumption, and as a measure of
equal protection of law/social justice; 4) the Court erred in ruling that foundlings are natural-born citizens under the 1935
Constitution and International Law; 5) the Court erred in declaring that re-acquisition of citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225
vested natural-born status upon Poe; 6) the Court erred in holding that Poe complied with the ten (10)-year residence requirement;
and 7) the Court erred in declaring that there was no intent to mislead as to Poe's natural-born status and residency.

On March 29, 2016, respondent Valdez filed a separate Motion for Reconsideration on the following grounds: 1) the clear
and unequivocal language used by the legislature in Republic Act (R.A.) 9225 does not allow reacquisition of natural born status
consistent with the Constitution; 2) R.A. 9225 requires acts to acquire and perfect Philippine citizenship, unlike natural-born
citizenship under the Constitution; 3) the doctrine in the case of Bengson was not abandoned; and 4) the ponente fell hook, line,
and sinker to the gross misrepresentation of petitioner Poe when he said that there is "consistent jurisprudence on repatriation
statutes in general and R.A. 9225 in particular."

After a careful perusal of the motions for reconsideration, I find that respondents essentially reiterated the very same
issues previously raised and discussed before the Court.

As earlier discussed in the concurring opinion of Hon. Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, the Court's limited review
jurisdiction via petition for certiorari simply imply that Our review is confined to the jurisdictional issue of whether the COMELEC
acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, in its
issuance of the assailed rulings while, at the same time, We are ever mindful of the doctrine that findings of fact of the Commission
when supported by substantial evidence shall be final and non-reviewable. 1 A certiorari proceeding is limited in scope and narrow
in character; certiorari will issue only to correct errors of jurisdiction and not mere errors of judgment, particularly in the findings or
conclusions of the quasi-judicial tribunals like the COMELEC or the lower courts. 2

The principles above suggest strictness and limitations, but when the case is exceptional such as the one at bar, wherein
grave abuse of discretion in the COMELEC's appreciation and evaluation of the evidence before it is apparent, then it is proper
occasion for this Court to act, because in such cases "the Court is more than obliged, as it is then its constitutional duty, to
intervene; for when grave abuse of discretion is present, resulting errors arising from the grave abuse mutate from error of
judgment to one of jurisdiction." 3 Thus, in all instances, the Court's careful choice is between a sparing exercise
of certiorari powers when grave abuse of discretion or defects in jurisdiction are apparent and a healthy deference to the the
COMELEC's findings when review is clearly uncalled for.

In the light of such limited jurisdiction, I then joined Justice Caguioa in his view that the Court should have limited itself to
determining whether grave abuse of discretion attended the finding of the COMELEC that Poe committed material
misrepresentation as to the facts required to be stated in her Certificate of Candidacy (COC), per Section 78 of the Omnibus
Election Code (OEC), and nothing more. Anent that issue, Our review should have been limited to the same issue resolved by the
assailed resolutions now before this Court, which was whether there was commission of "material misrepresentation/s" or the
making of "false material representation/s" in petitioner's COC. Resolving the same involved the simple establishment of three
elements: (1) that a representation is made with respect to a material fact, (2) that the representation is false, and (3) that there is
intent to mislead, misinform or hide a fact which would render the candidate ineligible or deceive the electorate. 4 And the standard
of proof for the same, with the COMELEC acting as a quasi-judicial body, is merely substantial evidence. 5 Jurisprudence has long
defined substantial evidence as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. 6

As already pointed out by Our other colleague, Hon. Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen, as to the facts of a presidential
candidate's lack of qualifications, or whether the COMELEC is empowered to deny or cancel a COC based on that reason, the
Commission may do so only if such fact is patent on the face of the COC and is indubitable. 7 Otherwise, the COMELEC's duty to
accept and receive the certificate is ministerial. 8 This is because our Constitution (under Article IX-C, Section 2 [2]) empowers the
COMELEC to exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to 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. 9 But the Constitution does not
authorize the COMELEC to rule on the qualifications of the President or Vice-President, the same being the exclusive office of this
Court acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) (under Article VII, Section 4), whose powers, additionally, are exercised
only after the election's winners have been proclaimed, either through an election protest or a proceeding for quo warranto. 10 A
contest before any of the electoral tribunals (including the PET) implies a post-election, post-proclamation proceeding. 11 DETACa

For the above reasons, I opted to join Justice Caguioa in his view that a more thorough discussion of and ruling on Poe's
qualifications, specifically as to her natural-born citizenship, as well as her 10-year residency, are premature, the same being
cognizable only after she had been proclaimed as winner of the presidential elections and through a petition filed in the PET, and
not the COMELEC, with the precise purpose of contesting what she had stated as her qualifications.

Nevertheless, COMELEC's patent disregard of procedure, the law on evidence, and basic fairness in its failure and refusal
to appreciate Poe's evidence, which resulted in it ordering the cancellation of her COC, are also easily demonstrable through the
case records as tantamount to grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; indeed, the fact that the
COMELEC clearly overlooked facts which tend to prove that Poe did not deceive or mislead the electorate in filling up her COC or
that the COMELEC overstepped its bounds by ruling on Poe's qualifications as a candidate for president is patent not only in the
records, but in the assailed resolutions of the COMELEC itself, which clearly supports the Court's finding of grave abuse of
discretion on the COMELEC's part and the reversal of the latter's rulings. Stated differently, the COMELEC, in grave abuse of its
discretion amounting to lack of or excess of its jurisdiction, erroneously granted the prayers of respondents to deny due course or
cancel Poe's COC despite their inability to establish by substantial evidence that petitioner's material representations were false
and that such were made with the intention to deceive or mislead the electorate.

For the abovementioned reasons, I vote to DENY the Motions for Reconsideration WITH FINALITY.

REYES, J., dissenting:

I maintain my position that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) did not abuse its discretion in issuing the assailed
resolutions, which directed the cancellation of Grace Poe's Certificate of Candidacy (COC). Grace Poe committed material
misrepresentation in her COC in two instances: first, when she stated that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen; and second, when
she indicated that she had been a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding the May 9, 2016 elections.
I.

In order for a certiorari action under Rule 64, in relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to prosper, it is imperative for the
petitioner to show that the respondent committed grave abuse of discretion, which amounts to lack or excess of jurisdiction. "The
abuse of discretion must be grave as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or
personal hostility and must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the
duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law." 1

"A review under Rule 65 only asks the question of whether there has been a validly rendered decision, not the question of
whether the decision is legally correct. In other words, the focus of the review is to determine whether the judgment is per se void
on jurisdictional grounds." 2 The writ of certiorari is available when the following indispensable elements concur: (1) that it is
directed against a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions; (2) that such tribunal, board or officer has
acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion; and (3) that there is no appeal nor any plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. 3

Given the foregoing guideposts, it escapes me how the majority could have concluded that the COMELEC gravely abused
its discretion in issuing the assailed resolutions. The COMELEC is constitutionally mandated to enforce and administer all laws and
regulations relative to the conduct of an election; it has the authority to decide all questions affecting elections, save those involving
the right to vote. 4 One of the powers granted to the COMELEC, relative to the conduct of an election, is to deny due course to or
cancel a COC under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) on the ground of material misrepresentation:
SEC. 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 the 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 due notice and
hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election.

"The material misrepresentation contemplated by Section 78 refers to qualifications for elective office." 5 The majority
essentially posits that while the COMELEC has the power to rule on whether a candidate committed material misrepresentation on
his qualifications indicated in the COC, it nevertheless has no authority to rule on the qualification per se absent any declaration by
a final judgment of a competent court on the qualification of the candidate. CAIHTE

The majority's reasoning is flawed. If COMELEC has the power to determine whether a candidate materially
misrepresented his qualifications in the COC, it necessarily has the power to rule on the qualifications of the candidate. The
express and broad constitutional grant of power to the COMELEC to enforce and administer election laws indubitably includes all
the necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve the holding of free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections. 6

There exists no cogent and acceptable reason to deny the COMELEC the power to rule on the qualifications of the
candidates. Indeed, it would be the height of absurdity to deny the COMELEC the power to rule on the qualifications of the
candidate considering that it can, under Section 78 of the OEC, inquire into the qualifications of the candidate for purposes of
determining whether there is material misrepresentation in the COC.

Thus, if a candidate for President indicates in his COC that he is an American citizen and that he had been a resident of
the Philippines for only nine (9) years, following the majority's logic, the COMELEC would be powerless to prevent the candidate
from participating in the elections; the candidate did not commit any material misrepresentation in his COC.

To stress, the power of the COMELEC to rule on the qualifications of a candidate prior to election stems from the
Constitution's broad and general grant of power to the COMELEC to enforce and administer election laws, even in the absence of
any declaration by a final judgment from a competent court.

II.

Contrary to the majority's ruling, even if Grace Poe adduced evidence to show that she honestly believed herself to have
the requisite qualifications to run for President, such fact would still not absolve her from liability for misrepresentation in her COC.
In cases of denial due course to or cancellation of COC, it is enough that the candidate indicated in his COC a false material
representation.

Section 78 of the OEC is plainly worded, mandating that a COC may be denied due course or cancelled on the ground
that a "material representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false." Section 74 of the OEC enumerates
the contents of the COC. Nowhere in Section 78 of the OEC is it required that there be a deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform,
or hide a fact from the electorate, which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible.
In Tagolino v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, et al., 7 the Court stressed that "the deliberateness of the
misrepresentation, much less one's intent to defraud, is of bare significance in a Section 78 petition as it is enough that the person's
declaration of a material qualification in the COC be false." 8

Indeed, the lack of deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform or hide a fact from the electorate should not be allowed as a
defense in a proceeding for the denial of due course to or cancellation of a COC. Otherwise, it would be quite easy for the
candidate to feign good faith and evade the consequence for material misrepresentation in the COC. It should be stressed that
what is at stake here are the qualifications of candidates for elective government posts. The qualifications of candidates should not
be easily bargained away by the mere expedient of claim of good faith.

III.

Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution mandates that "[n]o person may be elected President unless he is a natural-
born citizen of the Philippines . . . ." On the other hand, Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution enumerates who are
considered citizens of the Philippines:
SEC. 1. 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.

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, elect Philippine citizenship.

5. Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.

Further, Section 2, Article IV of the 1987 Constitution provides 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." Accordingly, natural-born
Filipino citizens under the 1935 Constitution are limited to those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines since, among those
enumerated, they are the only ones who do not need to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.DETACa

The aforementioned constitutional provisions are clear and unequivocal. It is a cardinal rule that constitutional provisions
that are clear and free from ambiguity need no further construction, and will be enforced as written. In such cases, there is no room
for the Court to interpret, liberally or otherwise, lest we be accused of supplanting our personal biases in lieu of the sovereign's will
enshrined in the Constitution.

The relevant facts of this case are simple and unequivocal: Grace Poe is a foundling found in the Parish Church of Jaro,
Iloilo on September 3, 1968; her biological parents, to date, are still unknown. Grace Poe has not established that she is a natural-
born Filipino citizen since she failed to present proof of a blood relation to a Filipino father.

The 1935 Constitution did not include "foundlings found in the Philippines" among those who are considered citizens of
the Philippines. There is, thus, no reason to consider them as such. It is a settled rule of construction that the express mention of
one person, thing, or consequence implies the exclusion of all others. The rule is expressed in the familiar maxim, expressio unius
est exclusio alterius, which can be formulated in a number of ways. One variation of the rule is the principle that what is expressed
puts an end to that which is implied. Expressium facit cessare tacitum. 9 Since the 1935 Constitution expressly limited those who
are considered citizens of the Philippines, it may not, by interpretation or construction, be extended to include foundlings.

The majority's ruling points out that Grace Poe's natural-born Filipino citizenship is demonstrable, statistically probable,
and, considering the circumstantial evidence presented, plausible.

With due respect, the Court has no business dealing with demonstrability, probability, and plausibility when the
Constitution has already defined with exactitude who are considered natural-born Filipino citizens. It bears stressing, at the risk of
being repetitive, that only those who can establish a direct blood relation to a Filipino father can be considered natural-born Filipino
citizens under the 1935 Constitution.

No amount of abstractions or lengthy justifications can blur the fact that foundlings are not among those enumerated as
citizens of the Philippines, much more natural-born Filipino citizens. Moreover, what is at stake here is the citizenship eligibility of a
candidate seeking the highest position in the land. The Court cannot leave this matter to demonstrability, probability, and
plausibility, especially when the Constitution demands certainty.

The majority's resort to international law to establish that Grace Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen is likewise improper.
The international conventions and the general principles of international law cited by the majority do not categorically state that
foundlings found in the Philippines should be considered natural-born Filipino citizens or, at the very least, Filipino citizens. More
importantly, international conventions and treaties are on the same plane as domestic statutes; they cannot supplant the clear edict
of the Constitution.

Accordingly, the COMELEC did not abuse its discretion when it ruled that Grace Poe materially misrepresented that she is
a natural-born Filipino citizen. The COMELEC correctly applied the provisions of the 1935 Constitution in resolving the issue.

IV.

It bears stressing that the conclusion that Grace Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen in the Court's Decision dated March
8, 2016, penned by Justice Jose Portugal Perez, was concurred in by only six other Justices. 10 The two other Justices' (Justices
Diosdado M. Peralta and Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa) findings were confined to the jurisdictional issue of whether the COMELEC
acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion; thus, they did not categorically rule on the status of
Grace Poe's citizenship.

On the other hand, out of the six Justices who dissented from the majority opinion, it is noticeable that Justice Mariano C.
Del Castillo did not make a categorical ruling on the citizenship of Grace Poe.

Thus, as pointed out by Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio in his Dissenting Opinion, what is clear and undeniable
is that there is no majority vote from this Court that holds that Grace Poe is a natural-born Filipino citizen. The issue of whether
foundlings found in the Philippines are considered natural-born Filipino citizens has not been resolved by a majority vote from this
Court. aDSIHc

V.

I also disagree with the majority's finding that Grace Poe met the required period of 10-year residence in the Philippines.
Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution requires that a candidate for President must have been "a resident of the Philippines
for at least ten years immediately preceding [the] election."

Grace Poe, in attesting in her COC that she had been a resident of the Philippines for 10 years and 11 months before the
date of the May 9, 2013 election, seeks to tack her period of residence in the Philippines from May 24, 2005 the date she went
hack to the Philippines supposedly to stay here for good. Grace Poe presented various pieces of evidence, such as school records
of her children, purchase of real property, and registration as a voter, to show her intent to change her domicile from the United
States to the Philippines as early as May 24, 2005.

It should be pointed out that Grace Poe lost her Philippine domicile when she was naturalized as an American citizen on
October 18, 2001. In order to reacquire her Philippine domicile, she must show: (1) residence or bodily presence in the Philippines;
(2) an intention to remain here; and (3) an intention to abandon the old domicile, i.e., the United States. There must be animus
manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. 11

When Grace Poe went back to the Philippines on May 24, 2005, she did so under a Balikbayan visa-free entry pursuant to
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6768, 12 which allows a Balikbayan a visa-free stay in the Philippines for a limited period of one year. As
pointed out by Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo in his Dissenting Opinion, having availed of the benefits of R.A. No. 6768, Grace
Poe's stay in the Philippines from May 24, 2005 was merely temporary; her stay was not impressed with animus manendi, i.e., the
intent to remain in or at the domicile of choice for an indefinite period of time.

To my mind, the earliest time from which Grace Poe could have tacked her period of residence in the Philippines is only on
July 7, 2006 the date when she took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to Section 3 of R.A. No.
9225 or the "Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003." Taking an Oath of Allegiance pursuant to Section 3 of R.A. No.
9225 is indicative of animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi.

Thus, the COMELEC did not err, much less abuse its discretion, in ruling that Grace Poe committed material
misrepresentation when she indicated in her COC that she had been a resident of the Philippines for 10 years and 11 months on
the day before the May 9, 2016 elections.

VI.

The Philippine Constitution is the embodiment of the will of the sovereign Filipino people; it symbolizes our hopes and
aspirations. In mandating that no person may be elected as President unless he is a natural-born Filipino citizen, the Constitution
demands that Filipinos be led by one of our own. The Constitution demands that the President be unquestionably a natural-born
Filipino citizen. The determination of the status of the citizenship of a person seeking the highest position in the land cannot be left
to statistical probability and circumstantial evidence.
The 10-year residency requirement, on the other hand, aims to ensure that the prospective President would have a deeper
understanding of the plight of the Filipinos. The Constitution seeks to avoid a President who, after having observed the country's
situation from afar, would lead the country without actually and personally experiencing the problems plaguing the country.

The majority's ruling ran roughshod over the mandatory and fundamental requirements prescribed by the Constitution for
those seeking the Presidency. The requirements under Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution cannot and should not be
supplanted by the magistrates' biases. The duty of this Court is to uphold the letter of the Constitution, not to interpret it according
to our whims and caprices.

ACCORDINGLY, there being no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Commission on Elections, I vote
to GRANT the motions for reconsideration and DISMISSthe petitions for certiorari filed by petitioner Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-
Llamanzares. ETHIDa

||| (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700 (Notice), [April 5, 2016])