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Executive Secretary
EDUARDO R. ERMITA; Sandiganbayan Justice GREGORY S. ONG, respondents

Supreme Court
July 3, 2007
GR. No. 177721

- May 2007, respondent Executive Secretary announced an appointment in favor o Gregory S. Ong as Associate Justice
of the Supreme Court to fill up the vacancy because of the retirement of Associate Justice Romeo Callejo Sr. It was
published the next day
- In the following day, major daily publications reported that the appointment was recalled by Malacañang because of
the citizenship in question of Gregory S. Ong. However, there is no indication that the appointment was cancelled by
the office of the president.
- Executive Secretary then stated that the appointment is “still there except that the validation of the issue is
being done by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC)
- Petitioners contend that the appointment is unconstitutional, arbitrary, whimsical and issued with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. Petitioners claim that Ong is a Chinese citizen as indicated in his birth
certificate. It revealed that his father, Eugenio Ong Han Seng and mother, Dy Guiok Santos were Chinese citizns
- Petitioners invoke Section 7 of Art. VIII of the 1987 Constitution that states - NO person shall be appointed as
Member of the Supreme Court unless he is a natural born citizen.
- Petitioners also invoke that even though the respondent’s father was granted naturalization, it would not make
respondent a natural born citizen. They further argue that Ong’s birth certificate speaks for itself and is prima facie
evidence as stated in the Civil Code.
- The birth certificate the petitioners assert, prevails over Ong’s new Identification certificate issued by the Bureau of
Immigration stating that he is a natural born Filipino. They also assert that the DOJ does not have the power to alter
entries in a birth certificate; that the old ID of Ong did not indicate that he is a natural born citizen and that the
respondents action is to correct his citizenship as it appears in his birth certificate.
- Respondent Exec. Secretary filed his Comment, stating that the appointment of Ong was made by the president
pursuant to the powers vested in her by Article VIII, Section 9 of the Constitution. Resp also said that the President
just selected from the list of nominees who were screened by the JBC.
- Ong submitted his comment maintaining that he is a natural born citizen and that the issue should be addressed to he
JBC as the body mandated to screen the nominees for judicial posts. Resp also said that the petition did not include
the President who extended the appointment.

ISSUE: W/N Gregory Ong is qualified to be appointed as a Supreme Court Justice


respondent Ong is a naturalized Filipino citizen. It is clear therefore that in the records of this court. Furthermore.To having implead the President as part of the suit. through the appropriate adversarial proceedings in court.This case is of primordial importance. In Ong’s petition. Ong. no substantial change or correction in an entry in a civil register can be made without a judicial order. and wherein all the parties who may be affected by the entries are notified or represented and evidence is submitted to prove the allegations of the complaint. until he shall have successfully completed all necessary steps. The alleged subsequent recognition of his natural-born status by the Bureau of Immigration and the DOJ cannot amend the final decision of the trial court stating that respondent Ong and his mother were naturalized along with his father. Eugenio Ong Han Seng was also a Chinese citizen. the Court held that: Changes which affect the civil status or citizenship of a party are substantial in character and should be threshed out in a proper action depending upon the nature of the issues in controversy. Respondent Gregory S. the suit does not intend to stop the appointment but to the Executive secretary from releasing at and from Ong to accept it.As to the principle issue on whether or not Ong is a natural born citizen. . As part of his evidence. he submitted his birth certificate and the naturalization papers of his father. under the law. . Republic. and. . he alleged that he is qualified to enter the bar because he is a Filipino citizen and his parents are naturalized Filipino citizens. a change in citizenship status is a substantial change. REASONING: . and proof to the contrary admitted. who is hereby enjoined from accepting an appointment to the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court or assuming the position and discharging the functions of that office. . it is not necessary because the Executive Secretary acts as an alter-ego of the President and he has in fact spoken for her in his comment. The court is the proper forum for resolving this issue even if the JBC has the initial competence to do so.It was based on the evidence that was submitted by Ong that this court allowed him to be part of the bar and take oath as a lawyer. Furthermore. to show that he is a natural-born Filipino citizen and correct the records of his birth and citizenship . as petitioners correctly submit. In Labayo-Rowe v. . the court took notice of the records of Ong when he was admitted to the bar. in support of his petition. His birth certificate states that he was a Chinese citizen at birth and his father. .