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DIGESTED

G.R No. L – 1663


FLORENTINA VILLAHERMOSA
Vs. THE COMMISSIONER OF IMMIGRATION
March 31, 194
Paras, Pablo, Briones, and Padilla, JJ., concur.

Facts:

Delfin Co, a young man, 18 years old, born in Paniqui, Tarlac, of a Chinese father named Co Suy,
alias Yu Kui, and Florentina Villahermosa his wife. Co Suy died in July 1940, and in February
1946, Delfin left the Philippines for China on board S/S Cushman as a Chinese repatriate, in
company with his relative Co Chi Pe.

However, due to financial difficulties in China, he took steps to return; but having met a Chines
(Co Soon Tiong), who informed him of a plan to smuggle their compatriots into this country, he
agreed to lead the party to Ilocos Sur where his mother had relatives who could render valuable
assistance.

In the night of March 24, 1947, a party of sixty-nine Chinese landed clandestinely on the shores
of Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur, in an attempt to evade our immigration laws. But unfortunately, the
immigrants were discovered and apprehended immediately after arrival, and on the 27th day of
March, Delfin Co was examined by the Commissioner of Immigration.

Formal investigation of the case began on April 10, 1947. Four days later, the corresponding board
recommended that said Delfin Co be deported to China as a Chinese citizen. Florentina
Villahermosa, after knowing the apprehension of her son Delfin, filed in the civil registry of Tarlac
under Commonwealth Act No. 63 an oath of allegiance for the purpose of resuming her Philippine
citizenship which she had lost upon her marriage to Co Suy.

Commissioner of Immigration stressed that Delfin Co must be returned to China for two reasons.
First, because he is not now a Filipino citizen, and second, granting that he is, at the time he entered
this country from China he was a Chinese subject to deportation, and any subsequent change in
his status cannot erase the taint of his unlawful, surreptitious entry.

Issue:
Whether or not Delfin Co is a Filipino citizen at the time of his apprehension.

Held:
The court ruled that Delfin Co is now now a Filipino and must be deported to China due to his
clandestine entry to the Philippines and of violation of immigration laws.
FULL TEXT

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-1663 March 31, 1948

FLORETINA VILLAHERMOSA, petitioner-appellant,


vs.
THE COMMISSIONER OF IMMIGRATION, respondent-appellee.

Victoriano V. Valle for appellant.


First Assistant Solicitor General Roberto A. Gianzon and Solicitor Francisco Carreon for
appellee.

BENGZON, J.:

This is an appeal from the order of Honorable Sotero Rodas, Judge of the Manila Court of First
Instance, denying the writ of habeas corpus requested by Florentina Villahermosa on behalf of
her son Delfin Co, who is under detention by the immigration authorities for purposes of
deportation.

In the night of March 24, 1947, a party of sixty-nine Chinese landed clandestinely on the shores
of Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur, in an attempt to evade our immigration laws. Leading them was
Delfin Co, a young man, 18 years old, born in Paniqui, Tarlac, of a Chinese father named Co Sut,
alias Yu Kui, and Florentina Villahermosa his wife. Co Suy died in July 1940, and inn February
1946, Delfin left the Philippines for China on board S/S Cushman as a Chinese repatriate, in
company with his relative Co Chi Pe. However, due to financial difficulties in China, he took
steps to return; but having met a Chines (Co Soon Tiong), who informed him of a plan to
smuggle their compatriots into this country, he agreed to lead the party to Ilocos Sur where his
mother had relatives who could render valuable assistance. The voyage was undertaken; but
unfortunately, the immigrants were discovered and apprehended immediately after arrival, and
on the 27th day of March, Delfin Co was examined by the Commissioner of Immigration.
Formal investigation of the case began on April 10, 1947. Four days later, the corresponding
board recommended that said Delfin Co be deported to China as a Chinese citizen. The
Commissioner of Immigration agreed with the board, and acting on this recommendation,
rendered a decision ordering the deportation of Delfin Co.
It appears that on April 29, 1947, Florentina Villahermosa, after knowing the apprehension of
her son Delfin, filed in the civil registry of Tarlac under Commonwealth Act No. 63 an oath of
allegiance for the purpose of resuming her Philippine citizenship which she had lost upon her
marriage to Co Suy. On the strength of such reacquisition of Philippine citizenship by Florentina,
it was contended before the immigration authorities that Delfin, being a minor, followed the
citizenship of his mother, and was a national not subject to deportation. These contentions were
overruled. They were repeated before the court of first instance in this habeas corpus proceeding
and were likewise rejected. Appellant stresses he same defense.

There are two reasons why Delfin Co must be returned to China. First, he is not now a Filipino
citizen; and second, granting that he is, at the time he entered this country from China he was a
Chinese subject to deportation, and any subsequent change in his status can not erase the taint of
his unlawful, surreptitious entry.

Section 1 of Article IV of the Constitution enumerates those who are citizens of the Philippines,
as follows:

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

(2) Those born in the Philippine Islands of foreign parents who, before 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.

Delfin Co's claim to citizenship can only be predicated, if at all, on paragraph 4 of the above
section. But, being a minor he has not had the opportunity to elect Philippine citizenship, and
therefore he is as yet an alien, his father being a Chinese.

We have heretofore held1 that, after the Constitution, mere birth in the Philippines of a Chinese
father and Filipino mother does not ipso facto confer Philippine citizenship and that jus sanguinis
instead off jus soli is the predominating factor on questions of citizenship, thereby rendering
obsolete the decision in Roa vs. Collector of Customs, 23 Phil., and U.S. vs. Lim Bin, 36 Phil.,
and similar cases on which petitioner's counsel relies.

Nevertheless, it is contended that Florentina Villahermosa being a Filipina, Delfin Co, should
likewise be a Filipino. Commonwealth Act No. 63 does not provide that upon repatriation of a
Filipina her children acquire Philippine citizenship. It would be illogical to consider Delfin as
repatriated like his mother, because he never was a Filipino citizen and could not have
reacquired such citizenship.
While his Chinese father lived, Delfin was not a Filipino. His mother was not a Filipina; she was
Chinese. After the death of such father, Villahermosa continued to be a Chinese, until she
reacquired her Filipino citizenship in April, 1947. After that reacquisition Delfin could claim that
his mother was a Filipina within the meaning of paragraph 4, section 1 of Article IV of the
Constitution; but, according to that same Organic Act, he had to elect Philippine citizenship upon
attaining his majority. Until he becomes of age and makes the election, he is the Chinese citizen
that he was at the time of his father's demise2.

It does not help petitioner's case to assert that as a mother she has a right to retain custody of her
minor son and to keep him here. Where such son has violated the immigration laws and rendered
himself liable to deportation no rule or principle should frustrate the Government's action by the
interposition of the mother's right to custody. This consideration becomes stronger where, as in
this case, the re-assumption of Philippine citizenship by Villahermosa has all the earmarks of an
attempt to impede the banishment of Delfin Co, who by the way, besides being guilty of
violating our laws, has not shown any signs of eagerness to adopt our ways of life.

This petition is moreover to be denied on the strength of precedents heretofore established,


because Delfin was a Chinese when he arrived here; and any posterior change of status can not
affect the legality of his detention for purposes of deportation.

In Juan Co vs. Rafferty, 14 Phil., 235, a Chinaman claimed the right to enter the Islands, and
being refused by the customs officials, gave bond that he would present himself for deportation if
the claim were disallowed. While under bond, he was adopted as a son by another Chinaman
domiciled herein, in legal form. Held: he is subject to deportation, because such adoption had no
effect upon his right to enter or remain in the Islands. This Court said that the status of an
immigrant and his right to stay here is to be determined as of the time of his entry (U.S. vs. Ju-
Toy, 198 U.S., 253, 263) and that he could not do afterwards anything to render valid what was
originally an illegal entry.

A Chinese person, not a merchant at the time he applies to enter the Islands, will not be
permitted to remain here upon the theory that he became a merchant during the time he
was waiting for the decision of the proper authorities, (Tan Guam Sien vs. Collector of
Customs, 31 Phil., 56.) (See also, U.S. vs. Chan Sam, 17 Phil., 448)

We declare that Delfin Co is not now a Filipino. We also declare that he having entered this
country surreptitiously is subject to deportation.

The decision of the lower court denying his petition for habeas corpus is affirmed. With costs.

Paras, Pablo, Briones, and Padilla, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

HILADO, J., concurring:


I concur in the foregoing decision. Besides, I will only point out that petitioner, by the very
purpose for which she filed the oath of allegiance mentioned therein, made herself unworthy and
disqualified to be repatriated under Commonwealth Act No. 63.

Section 4 of said Act provides that repatriation shall be effected by merely taking the necessary
oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth of the Philippines (now Republic of the Philippines)
and registration in the proper civil registry. Allegiance requires the person pledging it, among
other things, to respect and obey the laws of the country to which the pledge is made. But here
the person taking the oath of allegiance did so for the express purpose of legalizing, so to say, a
most serious violation of the immigration laws of the Philippines by her son. An oath of
allegiance taken for that end is, an affront to the sovereign, besides the criminal responsibilities it
entails.

PERFECTO, J., dissenting:

The majority decision fails to abide by one of the elemental rules of law, enunciated by human
wisdom.

That rule is stated in article 18 of the Civil Code as follows:

Children, while they remain under parental authority, have the nationality of their
parents.

That rule is reaffirmed by the Naturalization Law, No. 2927, as amended by Act No. 3448. It
provides that children under 20 years of age and residing in the Philippines shall become citizens
upon naturalization of their parents.

The rule is founded on human nature. Because minor children depend on their parents for their
sustenance, support and protection, it stands to reason that they should follow the nationality of
said parents. They have to live under the same roof with their parents and as near enough to them
to enjoy parental care and protection. Minor children have to follow their parents wherever the
latter, by political, moral, mental and economic exigencies, have to establish their abode.

To accept the majority's position is to justify its inevitable consequences, one of them being the
possibility of a fratricidal battle, should the nation of one happen to be at war with that of the
other. One shudders at the mere thought that parents, as soldiers of one belligerent nation, should
fire in murderous battle against their own children fighting in the enemy trenches, while the
children aim their guns at the very authors of their lives.

There is unanimity of opinion that petitioner Florentino Villahermosa is a FIlipino citizen. There
is no question that she was born of Filipino parents in Lapog, Ilocos Sur, in March 1905. She is
living in Paniqui, Tarlac, the province of Ambassador Romulo. Since her birth she has resided in
the Philippines. She never went to China. She is a widow. She is the mother of Delfin Co, a
minor of 18 years. She is the mother of another minor named Benjamin Co, who is living with
her. There should not be any question that under express statutory provisions, Delfin Co follows
the nationality of his mother. His mother is a Filipino citizen. Delfin Co is a Filipino citizen.

When on July 8, 1940, her Chinese husband died, Florentina Villahermosa must have felt that
she regained her FIlipino citizenship. She was ignorant of the provisions of Commonwealth Act
No. 63, so she failed to file her oath of allegiance required by it. Because her son came into
trouble, she happened to learn about the legal requirement on March 25, 1947, and took the oath
which was filed on the 29th of the same month with the civil registrar of Paniqui, Tarlac.

That the purpose of the said oath of allegiance is, by her repatriation, to keep her son at her side
and within the folds of this country, appears to have provoked some indignation, as if petitioner
has committed a crime or, at least, a reprehensible act. There is absolutely no ground for taking
such an attitude. Petitioner had only exercised a right expressly granted to her by law. The
statutory provision does not deal with motives or purposes. It is as impersonal as the
constitutional provisions guaranteeing fundamental rights without taking into consideration the
purposes and motives for the exercise of said rights.

That the petitioner had exercised a right expressly granted to her by law for the benefit of her son
or for the purpose of protecting him against an action harmful to him, is only logical. There is
nothing objectionable in her taking advantage of the law to give tangible expression to her
maternal love, which is, without any doubt, universally considered the most sublime feeling
nature has infused in human hearts. The feeling is so elemental that it is not unknown even to the
lowest phila of the animal kingdom. That even the fiercest wild animals are not devoid of such
feeling is a wonder that cannot fail to move he most indifferent person. Many perceive in that
fact the operation of an infinite intelligence taking care of all living things.

That petitioner had only obeyed the mandates of nature, that she yielded to an unconquerable
feeling, the one most praised my moralists, defied by spiritual and religious leaders, the subject
of glowing eulogium in eloquent prose and inspired poetry, whenever and wherever literature has
flourished, instead of causing criticism, should only merit panegyric and be acclaimed, she
having followed the noblest impulses of her nature.

Since his birth on May 31, 1928, Delfin Co has been a resident of the Philippines until February
2, 1946, when, probably yielding to the youthful lust for adventure, without the consent or
knowledge of his mother, he stealthily went to China. Having returned on March 29, 1947, to the
Philippines, his place of residence, it is only natural that he should want to remain here and that
his mother should exert all efforts so that he should not go away again. By the repatriation of
Florentino Villahermosa, Delfin Co became ipso facto a Filipino citizen. As a resident of the
Philippines and as a FIlipino citizen, he is entitled to stay.

The unfortunate fact that a character by the name of Co Soon Tiong was able to persuade him to
smuggle a bunch of Chinese into this country, by landing them in Lapog, Ilocos Sur, in
consideration of a free passage to the Philippines, is no reason to deprive him of the right to
remain in the country of which he is a resident and a citizen.
There are indications that he is entitled to more pity than blame, by his failure to resist the wiles
of a scheming person, who took undue advantage of his immaturity. His anxiousness to return to
his country and be at his mothers side must have been too strong for him to refuse a free passage,
a mere pittance when, as amply publicized, to secure entrance of Chinese immigrants,
middlemen or procurators earn thousands of pesos per person.

Did Delfin Co commit any crime or offense punishable by law? If he did, let him be prosecuted
and sentenced through due process of law, and if deportation is the punishment provided by law
by competent courts of justice, let the judgment be rendered and enforced. But it is admitted on
all sides that there is no law punishing the act of Delfin of rendering help to the smuggling of a
bunch of Chinese in question. If he did not commit any crime or offense, only a subverted sense
of justice may justify punishing him with deportation.

We vote, with the revocation of the appealed order of the lower court, to declare null and void
the order of the Commission on Immigration deporting Delfin Co to Amoy, China.

TUASON, J., dissenting:

With regret I am constrained to disagree with the views of the majority. I shall briefly state the
reasons for my dissent..

1. Article 18 of the Civil Code is explicit in its provision that "Children, while they remain under
parental authority, have the nationality of their parents." Delfin Co has become, in my opinion, a
Filipino citizen by reason of his mother's reacquisition of Philippine citizenship after her
husband's death. I see no difference, and no valid reason for differentiating, between a legitimate
child of a Filipino mother by a deceased foreign father and a Filipino mother's illegitimate child.
The latter under the rules of international law as well as the Civil Code takes the citizenship of its
mother.

The intention of the framers of the Constitution to withhold Philippine citizenship from the child
of a Filipino mother and an alien father until the child reaches the age of majority, does not
create an exception to the general rule. It is my humble and considered opinion that the
deferment of conferring Filipino citizenship on such a child extends only to those cases in which
both parents are alive and retain their foreign nationality, or where the father having died, the
mother has not chosen to regain her original citizenship.

It is not good law which prevents minor child of a citizen of the country, a child to whom by law
and by nature she owes protection, from joining its parent. I do not believe that the Constitutional
Convention could ever have contemplated such an inadmissible and irrational situation.

I do not share the apprehension of some members of the Court that if a child like Delfin Co
should follow the citizenship of her mother his citizenship would be at the mercy of being
changed as often as its mother changes her citizenship by marriage or otherwise. If that should
happen, there is nothing wrong or ridiculous about it. On the contrary, I think it is more in
accordance with natural law. That is what happens in the case of an illegitimate child of a
Filipino mother marrying a foreigner or obtaining another citizenship; and there is in this
connection no perceptible difference between an illegitimate child and a legitimate child whose
father is dead. If a mother can and wants to change her citizenship daily, certainly it is natural
rather than queer that her minor child, which depends upon her for care and support, should not
be left stranded.

2. The decision says: "This petition is moreover to be denied on the strength of precedence
heretofore established, because Delfin was a Chinese when he arrived here; and any posterior
change of status can not affect the legality of the detention for the purposes of deportation." I do
not think that this doctrine is applicable to the present case. The principle established by the
decisions cited on this point is that an immigrant can not take advantage of his unlawful entry to
acquire the conditions imposed by the immigration laws. In the language of this Court (U.S. vs.
Chan Sam, 17 Phil., 448-456), "to say to him (immigrant) that if by any means he can gain an
unlawful entry in the Islands he will be relieved of the consequences flowing from his unlawful
act if at any time after he gains his unlawful entrance he changes his status and assumes the
occupation of one of the privileged classes, would be to set a premium on the unlawful but
successful evasion by Chinese laborers of the laws prohibiting their entrance into the Islands."
And in Tan Guan Sien vs. Collector of Customs, 31 Phil., 56, the Court had the same idea when
it said, "The law does not contemplate that Chinese persons may, by one method or another, gain
an entrance into the territory of the United States without the 'section six certificate', and after
such entrance become such a merchant, and then as such, insist upon his right to remain." In
these two cases, and in the case of Juan Co vs. Rafferty, 14 Phil., 235, in which the immigrant
was adopted by a resident while the immigrant's right to enter was under investigation, the
changes in the immigrant status were effected by him or with his intervention and could not have
been accomplished in his absence.

In the case at hand the conversion of the immigrant to Philippine citizenship was entirely
independent of his will and of his presence in the Philippines. The bond that binds the petitioner
and her child existed before the latter entered the Philippine territory and not from the date of her
repatriation only. It is the legal and absolute right of the immigrant's mother to reclaim her
Philippine citizenship regardless of any mental reservation, her motives or her attitude toward
her country. The legality of her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship is nowhere challenged.
Assuming then that Delfin Co's nationality follows that of his mother, as we believe it does, has
Co forfeited his right to be with her as a result of his entering the Philippines unlawfully? I know
of no law which sanctions such punishment for an immigrant's fault. If, on the other hand, the
theory is that the immigrant must first be purged of his sin by deportation after which he may be
allowed to come back and settle here, the Court would be adopting an empty ceremony that
would lead to no useful purpose nor enhance the prestige of the administration of law.

FERIA, J.:

I concur in this dissenting opinion.


Footnotes
1
Tan Chong vs. Secretary of Labor, no. 47616, September 16, 1947;45 Off. Gaz., 1269.
2
The debates of the constitutional Convention show that the child born of the Filipino
mother married to a foreigner "is not yet a Filipino" and "will be one if he prefers to be so
upon reaching the age of majority". (Aruego, Framing of the Philippine Constitution,
Vol. I, p. 209.)

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 180048 June 19, 2009

ROSELLER DE GUZMAN, Petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and ANGELINA DG. DELA CRUZ, Respondents.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This petition1 for certiorari with prayer for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining
order assails the June 15, 2007 Resolution2 of the First Division of the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) in SPA No. 07-211, disqualifying petitioner Roseller De Guzman from running as
vice-mayor in the May 14, 2007 Synchronized National and Local Elections. Also assailed is the
October 9, 2007 Resolution3 of the COMELEC En Banc denying petitioner’s motion for
reconsideration.

Petitioner De Guzman and private respondent Angelina DG. Dela Cruz were candidates for vice-
mayor of Guimba, Nueva Ecija in the May 14, 2007 elections. On April 3, 2007, private
respondent filed against petitioner a petition4 for disqualification docketed as SPA No. 07-211,
alleging that petitioner is not a citizen of the Philippines, but an immigrant and resident of the
United States of America.

In his answer, petitioner admitted that he was a naturalized American. However, on January 25,
2006, he applied for dual citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 (R.A. No. 9225), otherwise
known as the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003.5 Upon approval of his
application, he took his oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on September 6,
2006. He argued that, having re-acquired Philippine citizenship, he is entitled to exercise full
civil and political rights. As such, he is qualified to run as vice-mayor of Guimba, Nueva Ecija.

During the May 14, 2007 elections, private respondent won as vice-mayor. Petitioner filed an
election protest on grounds of irregularities and massive cheating. The case was filed before
Branch 31 of the Regional Trial Court of Guimba, Nueva Ecija and was docketed as Election
Protest No. 07-01.

Meanwhile, in SPA No. 07-211, the COMELEC First Division rendered its June 15, 2007
Resolution disqualifying petitioner, which reads as follows:

Section 3 of R.A. No. 9225 states:

"Retention of Philippine Citizenship. – Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who have lost
their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are
hereby deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of
allegiance to the Republic: x x x"

Hence, under the provisions of the aforementioned law, respondent has validly reacquired
Filipino citizenship. By taking this Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on
September 6, 2006 before Mary Jo Bernardo Aragon, Deputy Consul General at the Philippine
Consulate General, Los Angeles, California respondent was deemed a dual citizen, possessing
both Filipino and American citizenship.

However, subparagraph (2), Section 5 of the aforementioned Act also provides:

Section 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities -- Those who retain or re-acquire Philippine
Citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political rights and be subject to all attendant
liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the following
conditions:

xxxx

(2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the qualifications for
holding such public office as required by the Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of
the filing of the certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all
foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath.
As can be gleaned from the above cited provision, respondent [herein petitioner] should have
renounced his American citizenship before he can run for any public elective position. This
respondent did not do. The Oath of Allegiance taken by respondent was for the purpose of re-
acquiring Philippine citizenship. It did not, at the same time, mean that respondent has renounced
his American citizenship. Thus, at the time respondent filed his certificate of candidacy for the
position of Vice-Mayor of Guimba, Nueva Ecija he was, and still is, a dual citizen, possessing
both Philippine and American citizenship. For this reason alone, respondent is disqualified to run
for the abovementioned elective position.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission (First Division) RESOLVED, as it hereby


RESOLVES, to GRANT the instant petition finding it IMBUED WITH MERIT. Hence,
respondent (petitioner herein) Roseller T. De Guzman is disqualified to run as Vice-Mayor of
Guimba, Nueva Ecija in the May 14, 2007 Synchronized National and Local Elections.6

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was dismissed on October 9, 2007 by the
COMELEC En Banc for having been rendered moot in view of private respondent’s victory.

Thereafter, the trial court in Election Protest No. 07-01 rendered a Decision,7 dated November
26, 2007, declaring petitioner as the winner for the Vice-Mayoralty position. It held:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring protestant ROSELLER T. DE


GUZMAN, as the winner for the Vice-Mayoralty position with a plurality of 776 votes over the
protestee, ANGELINA D.G. DELA CRUZ, in the May 14, 2007 Local Elections in Guimba,
Nueva Ecija. With costs against the protestee.

There being no evidence presented as to the damages by both parties, the same are hereby
denied.

SO ORDERED.8

Petitioner filed the instant petition for certiorari, alleging that the COMELEC acted with grave
abuse of discretion in disqualifying him from running as Vice-Mayor because of his failure to
renounce his American citizenship, and in dismissing the motion for reconsideration for being
moot.

Petitioner invokes the rulings in Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections9 and Mercado v.


Manzano,10 that the filing by a person with dual citizenship of a certificate of candidacy,
containing an oath of allegiance, constituted as a renunciation of his foreign citizenship.
Moreover, he claims that the COMELEC En Banc prematurely dismissed the motion for
reconsideration because at that time, there was a pending election protest which was later
decided in his favor.

Meanwhile, private respondent claims that the passage of R.A. No. 9225 effectively abandoned
the Court’s rulings in Frivaldo and Mercado; that the current law requires a personal and sworn
renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship; and that petitioner, having failed to renounce his
American citizenship, remains a dual citizen and is therefore disqualified from running for an
elective public position under Section 4011 of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the
Local Government Code of 1991 (LGC).

The issues for resolution are: 1) whether the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in
dismissing petitioner’s motion for reconsideration for being moot; and 2) whether petitioner is
disqualified from running for vice-mayor of Guimba, Nueva Ecija in the May 14, 2007 elections
for having failed to renounce his American citizenship in accordance with R.A. No. 9225.

An issue becomes moot when it ceases to present a justifiable controversy so that a


determination thereof would be without practical use and value.12 In this case, the pendency of
petitioner’s election protest assailing the results of the election did not render moot the motion
for reconsideration which he filed assailing his disqualification. Stated otherwise, the issue of
petitioner’s citizenship did not become moot; the resolution of the issue remained relevant
because it could significantly affect the outcome of the election protest. Philippine citizenship is
an indispensable requirement for holding an elective office. As mandated by law: "An elective
local official must be a citizen of the Philippines."13 It bears stressing that the Regional Trial
Court later ruled in favor of petitioner in the election protest and declared him the winner. In
view thereof, a definitive ruling on the issue of petitioner’s citizenship was clearly necessary.
Hence, the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing petitioner’s motion for
reconsideration solely on the ground that the same was rendered moot because he lost to private
respondent.

Anent the second issue, we find that petitioner is disqualified from running for public office in
view of his failure to renounce his American citizenship.

R.A. No. 9225 was enacted to allow re-acquisition and retention of Philippine citizenship for: 1)
natural-born citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization
as citizens of a foreign country; and 2) natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the
effectivity of the law, become citizens of a foreign country. The law provides that they are
deemed to have re-acquired or retained their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath of
allegiance.14

Petitioner falls under the first category, being a natural-born citizen who lost his Philippine
citizenship upon his naturalization as an American citizen. In the instant case, there is no
question that petitioner re-acquired his Philippine citizenship after taking the oath of allegiance
on September 6, 2006. However, it must be emphasized that R.A. No. 9225 imposes an
additional requirement on those who wish to seek elective public office, as follows:

Section 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities. – Those who retain or re-acquire Philippine
Citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and political rights and be subject to all attendant
liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the following
conditions:

xxxx
(2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the qualifications for
holding such public office as required by the Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of
the filing of the certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all
foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath.

Contrary to petitioner’s claims, the filing of a certificate of candidacy does not ipso facto amount
to a renunciation of his foreign citizenship under R.A. No. 9225. Our rulings in the cases of
Frivaldo and Mercado are not applicable to the instant case because R.A. No. 9225 provides for
more requirements.

Thus, in Japzon v. COMELEC,15 the Court held that Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 requires the
twin requirements of swearing to an Oath of Allegiance and executing a Renunciation of Foreign
Citizenship, viz:

Breaking down the afore-quoted provision, for a natural born Filipino, who reacquired or
retained his Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225, to run for public office, he
must: (1) meet the qualifications for holding such public office as required by the Constitution
and existing laws; and (2) make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign
citizenships before any public officer authorized to administer an oath.1awphi1

Further, in Jacot v. Dal and COMELEC,16 the Court ruled that a candidate’s oath of allegiance to
the Republic of the Philippines and his Certificate of Candidacy do not substantially comply with
the requirement of a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship. Thus:

The law categorically requires persons seeking elective public office, who either retained their
Philippine citizenship or those who reacquired it, to make a personal and sworn renunciation of
any and all foreign citizenship before a public officer authorized to administer an oath
simultaneous with or before the filing of the certificate of candidacy.

Hence, Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 compels natural-born Filipinos, who have been
naturalized as citizens of a foreign country, but who reacquired or retained their Philippine
citizenship (1) to take the oath of allegiance under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225, and (2)
for those seeking elective public offices in the Philippines, to additionally execute a personal and
sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before an authorized public officer prior or
simultaneous to the filing of their certificates of candidacy, to qualify as candidates in Philippine
elections.

Clearly Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 (on the making of a personal and sworn
renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship) requires of the Filipinos availing themselves of
the benefits under the said Act to accomplish an undertaking other than that which they have
presumably complied with under Section 3 thereof (oath of allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines). This is made clear in the discussion of the Bicameral Conference Committee on
Disagreeing Provisions of House Bill No. 4720 and Senate Bill No. 2130 held on 18 August
2003 (precursors of Republic Act No. 9225), where the Hon. Chairman Franklin Drilon and Hon.
Representative Arthur Defensor explained to Hon. Representative Exequiel Javier that the oath
of allegiance is different from the renunciation of foreign citizenship:
CHAIRMAN DRILON. Okay. So, No. 2. "Those seeking elective public office in the
Philippines shall meet the qualifications for holding such public office as required by the
Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy,
make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship before any
public officer authorized to administer an oath." I think it’s very good, ha? No problem?

REP. JAVIER. … I think it’s already covered by the oath.

CHAIRMAN DRILON. Renouncing foreign citizenship.

REP. JAVIER. Ah… but he has taken his oath already.

CHAIRMAN DRILON. No…no, renouncing foreign citizenship.

xxxx

CHAIRMAN DRILON. Can I go back to No. 2. What’s your problem, Boy? Those seeking
elective office in the Philippines.

REP. JAVIER. They are trying to make him renounce his citizenship thinking that ano…

CHAIRMAN DRILON. His American citizenship.

REP. JAVIER. To discourage him from running?

CHAIRMAN DRILON. No.

REP. A.D. DEFENSOR. No. When he runs he will only have one citizenship. When he
runs for office, he will have only one. (Emphasis ours.)

There is little doubt, therefore, that the intent of the legislators was not only for Filipinos
reacquiring or retaining their Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 to take their
oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, but also to explicitly renounce their foreign
citizenship if they wish to run for elective posts in the Philippines. To qualify as a candidate in
Philippine elections, Filipinos must only have one citizenship, namely, Philippine citizenship.

By the same token, the oath of allegiance contained in the Certificate of Candidacy, which is
substantially similar to the one contained in Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225, does not
constitute the personal and sworn renunciation sought under Section 5(2) of Republic Act No.
9225. It bears to emphasize that the said oath of allegiance is a general requirement for all those
who wish to run as candidates in Philippine elections; while the renunciation of foreign
citizenship is an additional requisite only for those who have retained or reacquired Philippine
citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 and who seek elective public posts, considering their
special circumstance of having more than one citizenship.
In the instant case, petitioner’s Oath of Allegiance and Certificate of Candidacy did not comply
with Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 which further requires those seeking elective public office in
the Philippines to make a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship. Petitioner
failed to renounce his American citizenship; as such, he is disqualified from running for vice-
mayor of Guimba, Nueva Ecija in the May 14, 2007 elections.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. Petitioner is declared DISQUALIFIED from


running for Vice-Mayor of Guimba, Nueva Ecija in the May 14, 2007 elections because of his
failure to renounce his foreign citizenship pursuant to Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225.

SO ORDERED.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING ANTONIO T. CARPIO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE


NACHURA CASTRO
Associate Justice Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION DIOSDADO M. PERALTA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions
in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of
the opinion of the Court.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Footnotes
1
Rollo, pp. 3-21.
2
Id. at 22-25. Penned by Commissioner Resurreccion Z. Borra and concurred in by
Commissioner Romeo A. Brawner.
3
Id. at 50-51. Penned by Commissioner Florentino A. Tuason, Jr. and concurred in by
then Acting Chairman Resurreccion Z. Borra, Commissioners Romeo A. Brawner, Rene
V. Sarmiento, and Nicodemo T. Ferrer.
4
Id. at 52-55.
5
AN ACT MAKING THE CITIZENSHIP OF PHILIPPINE CITIZENS WHO
ACQUIRE FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP PERMANENT. AMENDING FOR THE
PURPOSE COMMONWEALTH ACT. NO. 63, AS AMENDED AND FOR OTHER
PURPOSES. Enacted August 29, 2003.
6
Rollo, pp. 24-25.
7
Id. at 84-99.
8
Id. at 99.
9
G.R. Nos. 120295 and 123755, June 28, 1996, 257 SCRA 727.
10
367 Phil. 132 (1999).
11
SEC. 40. Disqualifications. The following persons are disqualified from running for
any elective local position:

xxxx

(d) Those with dual citizenship;

xxxx
12
Olanolan v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 165491, March 31, 2005, 454 SCRA 807, 816.
13
Labo, Jr. v. COMELEC, G.R. Nos. 105111 and 105384, July 3, 1992, 211 SCRA 297,
308.
14
Section 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship. - Any provision of law to the contrary
notwithstanding, natural-born citizens by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a
foreign country are hereby deemed to have re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking
the following oath of allegiance to the Republic:

"I _____________________, solemny swear (or affrim) that I will support and
defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and
legal orders promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines;
and I hereby declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the
Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; and that I imposed
this obligation upon myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of
evasion."

Natural born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act,
become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon
taking the aforesaid oath.
15
G.R. No. 180088, January 19, 2009.
16
G.R. No. 179848, November 29, 2008.