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Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Manila

EN BANC
JOCELYN SY LIMKAICHONG, G.R. Nos. 178831-32

Petitioner,

- versus -

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,
NAPOLEON N. CAMERO and
RENALD F. VILLANDO,

Respondents.

x -------------------------------------------- x

LOUIS C. BIRAOGO, G.R. No. 179120

Petitioner,

- versus -

HON. PROSPERO NOGRALES,


Speaker of the House of
Representatives of the Congress of the
Philippines, and JOCELYN SY
LIMKAICHONG,

Respondents.

x---------------------------------------------x

OLIVIA P. PARAS,

Petitioner,
- versus - G.R. Nos. 179132-33

HON. PROSPERO NOGRALES, in


his capacity as Speaker of the House
of Representatives; HON. ROBERTO
NAZARENO, in his capacity as
Secretary General of the House of
Representatives; HON. RHODORA
SEVILLA, in her capacity as Deputy
Secretary General for Finance of the
House of Representatives; THE
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
and JOCELYN SY LIMKAICHONG,

Respondents.

x ------------------------------------------- x

RENALD F. VILLANDO,

Petitioner,

- versus - G.R. Nos. 179240-41

Present:
PUNO, C.J.,

QUISUMBING,

YNARES-SANTIAGO,

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS CARPIO,


and JOCELYN SY LIMKAICHONG,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
Respondents.
CORONA,

CARPIO MORALES,

TINGA,

CHICO-NAZARIO,

VELASCO, JR.,

NACHURA,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

BRION, and

PERALTA, JJ.

Promulgated:

April 1, 2009
x-----------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

Once a winning candidate has been proclaimed, taken his oath, and
assumed office as a Member of the House of Representatives, the jurisdiction of
the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal begins
over election contests relating to his election, returns, and qualifications, and mere
allegation as to the invalidity of her proclamation does not divest the Electoral
Tribunal of its jurisdiction.

At the core of these contentious consolidated petitions are: (1) the Joint
Resolution1[1] of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Second Division
dated May 17, 2007, disqualifying Jocelyn D. Sy Limkaichong (Limkaichong) from
running as a congressional candidate for the First District of Negros Oriental; (2) the
COMELEC En Banc Resolution2[2] dated June 29, 2007, affirming her
disqualification; and (3) the COMELEC En Banc Resolution3[3] dated August 16,
2007, resolving that all pending incidents relating to her qualifications should now
be determined by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

The facts are uncontroverted. On March 26, 2007, Limkaichong filed with the
COMELEC her Certificate of Candidacy4[4] (COC) for the position of
Representative of the First District of Negros Oriental.
In the following weeks, two (2) petitions for her disqualification were
instituted before the COMELEC by concerned citizens coming from her locality. On
April 4, 2007, Napoleon Camero, a registered voter of La Libertad, Negros Oriental,
filed the petition for her disqualification on the ground that she lacked the citizenship
requirement of a Member of the House of Representatives. The petition, which was
docketed as SPA No. (PES) A07-006,5[5] alleged that she is not a natural-born
Filipino because her parents were Chinese citizens at the time of her birth. On April
11, 2007, Renald F. Villando, also a registered voter of the same locality, filed the
second petition on the same ground of citizenship, docketed as SPA (PES) No. A07-
007.6[6] He claimed that when Limkaichong was born, her parents were still
Chinese citizens as the proceedings for the naturalization of Julio Ong Sy, her father,
never attained finality due to procedural and substantial defects. Both petitions
prayed for the cancellation of Limkaichong's COC and for the COMELEC to strike
out her name from the list of qualified candidates for the Representative of the First
District of Negros Oriental.

In her separate Answers7[7] to the petitions, Limkaichong claimed that she is


a natural-born Filipino since she was born to a naturalized Filipino father and a
natural-born Filipino mother, who had reacquired her status as such due to her
husband's naturalization. Thus, at the time of her birth on November 9, 1959,
nineteen (19) days had already passed after her father took his Oath of Allegiance
on October 21, 1959 and after he was issued a Certificate of Naturalization on the
same day. She contended that the COMELEC should dismiss the petitions outright
for lack of cause of action. Citing Salcedo II v. Commission on Elections,8[8] she
averred that a petition filed before an election, questioning the qualification of a
candidate, should be based on Section 78,9[9] in relation to Section 7410[10] of the
Omnibus Election Code (OEC),11[11] and not under Sections 6812[12] and 74
thereof in relation to Section 1,13[13] Rule 25 of the COMELEC Rules of
Procedure14[14] and Section 5,15[15] paragraph C (3.a) of COMELEC Resolution
No. 7800.16[16] She also contended that the petitions were dismissible on the
ground that they were in the nature of a collateral attack on her and her fathers
citizenships, in contravention of the well-established rule that attack on one's
citizenship may only be made through a direct action for its nullity.

The COMELEC consolidated the two (2) petitions and re-docketed them as
SPA Nos. 07-24717[17] and 07-248,18[18] entitled IN THE MATTER OF THE
PETITION TO DISQUALIFY JOCELYN SY LIMKAICHONG FROM HER
CANDIDACY AS FIRST DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE OF NEGROS ORIENTAL
(herein referred to as the disqualification cases), which remained pending on May
14, 2007, when the National and Local Elections were conducted.

After the casting, counting and canvassing of votes in the said elections,
Limkaichong emerged as the winner with 65,708 votes19[19] or by a margin of
7,746 votes over another congressional candidate, Olivia Paras20[20] (Paras), who
obtained 57,962.

On May 15, 2007, Paras filed with the COMELEC a Very Urgent Motion
for Leave to Intervene and to Suspend the Proclamation of Jocelyn Sy
Limkaichong as Winning Candidate of the First District of Negros
Oriental.21[21]

In a Joint Resolution22[22] dated May 17, 2007, the COMELEC Second


Division granted the petitions in the disqualification cases, disqualified
Limkaichong as a candidate for Representative of the First District of Negros
Oriental, directed the Provincial Supervisor of the COMELEC to strike out her name
from the list of eligible candidates, and for the Provincial Board of Canvassers
(PBOC) to suspend her proclamation. In disposing the cases, the COMELEC Second
Division made the following ratiocination:

On the substantial issue of whether respondent Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong is


disqualified to run for the congressional seat of the First District of Negros Oriental
on the ground that she is not a natural-born Filipino, we hold that she is so
disqualified.
Petitioners have successfully discharged their burden of proof and has
convincingly shown with pieces of documentary evidence that Julio Ong Sy,
father of herein respondent Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong, failed to acquire Filipino
citizenship in the naturalization proceedings which he underwent for the said
purpose.

An examination of the records of Special Case No. 1043 would reveal that
the Office of the Solicitor General was deprived of its participation in all the
stages of the proceedings therein, as required under Commonwealth Act No. 473
or the Revised Naturalization Law and Republic Act No. 530, An Act Making
Additional Provisions for Naturalization.

xxx

The documents presented by petitioners showed that the OSG was not
furnished copies of two material orders of the trial court in the said
proceedings. One was the July 9, 1957 Order granting his petition for
naturalization and the other was the September 21, 1959 Order declaring Julio
Ong Sy as a Filipino citizen.

Moreover, from a perusal of the same page 171 of the OSG logbook, we
have determined that the OSG did not receive a notice for the hearing conducted
by the trial court on July 9, 1959, prior to its issuance of the September 12, 1959
Order declaring Julio Ong Sy as a Filipino citizen.

As correctly pointed out by petitioners, this was fatal to the naturalization


proceedings of Julio Ong Sy, and prevented the same from gaining finality. The
leading case in the matter is Republic v. Hon. Gabriel V. Valero, 136 SCRA 617
(May 31, 1985), wherein the Supreme Court declared:

And as though that was not enough, the hearing prior to the
oathtaking of respondent Tan was conducted without the required
notice to the Solicitor General. It is true, as it appeared later, that
Fiscal Veluz, Jr. was authorized by the Solicitor General to represent
the Government in the hearing of the application for naturalization.
That authority, however, does not extend to Fiscal [Veluzs] right to
appear for the State in the hearing preparatory to the oathtaking.
Private respondent Tan was therefore under legal obligation to serve
copy of his motion to be allowed to take his oath of allegiance as a
Filipino citizen upon the Solicitor General which was not done.
Respondent argues that upon his taking of the Oath of Allegiance, Julio Ong
Sy became a Filipino citizen for all intents and purposes, with all the rights
appurtenant thereto.

This argument does not hold water, as was held by the Supreme Court in
the same case of Republic v. Valero, supra:

That private respondent Tan had already taken his oath of


allegiance does not in any way legalize the proceedings relative
thereto which is pregnant with legal infirmities. Compounding these
irregularities is the fact that Tan was allowed to take his oath even
before the expiration of the thirty (30)-day period within which an
appeal may be made thus making the said oath not only highly
improper but also illegal.

In the same case, the Supreme Court added:

To sustain the same would be to sanction a monstrosity


known as citizenship by estoppel. The grant of naturalization under
such circumstances is illegal and cancellation thereof may be had at
any time. Neither estoppel nor res judicata may be set up as a bar
from instituting the necessary proceedings to nullify the certificate
of naturalization so issued.

Another glaring defect in the said proceedings was the fact that Julio Ong
Sy took his Oath of Allegiance on October 21, 1959, which was exactly thirty
(30) days after his declaration as a naturalized Filipino.

Even granting that the OSG was notified of the September 21, 1959 Order,
this was still one day short of the reglementary period required under Sections 11
and 12 of C.A. No. 473, above-cited.

The thirty-day reglementary period is so required under the law so that the
OSG could make known his objections and to appeal from the order of the trial
court declaring the petitioner a naturalized Filipino citizen. This is also the reason
why a copy of the petitioners motion to take his oath of allegiance has to be
furnished to the OSG.

The respondent insists that naturalization proceedings are in rem and are
binding on the whole world.

She would have been correct had all the necessary parties to the case been
informed of the same. The OSG, being the counsel for the government, has to
participate in all the proceedings so that it could be bound by what has transpired
therein. Lacking the participation of this indispensable party to the same, the
proceedings are null and void and, hence, no rights could arise therefrom.
From all the foregoing, therefore, it could be seen that Julio Ong Sy did
not acquire Filipino citizenship through the naturalization proceedings in
Special Case No. 1043. Thus, he was only able to transmit to his offspring,
Chinese citizenship.
Respondent Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong being the daughter of Julio Ong Sy,
and having been born on November 9, 1959, under the 1935 Philippine
Constitution, is a Chinese national, and is disqualified to run as First District
Representative of Negros Oriental.

WHEREFORE, the Petitions are GRANTED and Jocelyn D. Sy-


Limkaichong is declared as DISQUALIFIED from her candidacy for
Representative of the First District of Negros Oriental.

The Provincial Supervisor of the Commission on Elections of Negros


Oriental is hereby directed to strike out the name JOCELYN SY-LIMKAICHONG
from the list of eligible candidates for the said position, and the concerned Board
of Canvassers is hereby directed to hold and/or suspend the proclamation of
JOCELYN SY-LIMKAICHONG as winning candidate, if any, until this decision
has become final.

SO ORDERED.23[23]

The PBOC received the Joint Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division
on the evening of May 17, 2007, and accordingly suspended the proclamation of
Limkaichong.24[24]

The following day, or on May 18, 2007, the COMELEC En Banc issued
Resolution No. 806225[25] adopting the policy-guidelines of not suspending the
proclamation of winning candidates with pending disqualification cases which
shall be without prejudice to the continuation of the hearing and resolution of the
involved cases.

On May 20, 2007, Limkaichong filed with the COMELEC a Motion for
Reconsideration of the Joint Resolution of May 17, 2007 and Urgent Motion to
Lift the Order Suspending Proclamation.26[26]

On May 22, 2007, Limkaichong filed another motion for the lifting of the
directive suspending her proclamation, insisting that she should be proclaimed as the
winner in the congressional race pursuant to COMELEC Resolution No.
8062.27[27] On same date, Villando, one of the petitioners in the disqualification
cases, filed an Urgent Manifestation Clarifying COMELEC Resolution No. 8062
with Motion,28[28] praying that the COMELEC should not lift the suspension of
Limkaichongs proclamation.
On May 25, 2007, the PBOC, in compliance with COMELEC Resolution No.
8062, reconvened and proclaimed Limkaichong as the duly elected Member of the
House of Representatives for the First District of Negros Oriental.29[29]

Thereafter, or on May 30, 2007, Paras filed with the COMELEC a Petition to
Nullify and/or Annul the Proclamation of Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong as First
District Representative of Negros Oriental in relation to the May 17, 2007 Joint
Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division,30[30] stating, among others, that
Limkaichong's proclamation violated the earlier order of the COMELEC Second
Division suspending her proclamation. The petition, docketed as SPC No. 07-211,
was dismissed by the COMELEC First Division,31[31] ratiocinating that the
disqualification cases were not yet final when Limkaichong was proclaimed.
Accordingly, her proclamation which was valid or legal, effectively divested the
COMELEC of its jurisdiction over the cases. The COMELEC First Division
explained its ruling in this wise:

The Commission has made its intention in issuing Resolution No. 8062
very clear in that there shall be no suspension of proclamation of winning
candidates with pending disqualification cases involving, among others, issues
of citizenship. As the disqualification cases involving Limkaichong were still
pending reconsideration by the en banc, the underlying policy which gave rise to
the issuance of the Resolution: to respect the will of the Filipino electorate, applies
to the suspension of proclamation of the winning congressional candidate for the
First District of Negros Oriental.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is dismissed.

SO ORDERED. (Emphasis ours)

Dissatisfied, Paras moved for the reconsideration of the above


Resolution.32[32]

Meanwhile, in a Resolution33[33] dated June 29, 2007, the COMELEC En


Banc, in an equally divided vote of 3:3, denied Limkaichongs motion for
reconsideration of the Joint Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division in the
disqualification cases. The pertinent portions of the Resolution denying her motion
reads:

Anent the issue of jurisdiction, We rule that the Commission has jurisdiction
to rule on Respondent Limkaichongs Motion for Reconsideration notwithstanding
her proclamation as it is only this Commission, and not the House of
Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), which has jurisdiction to review
resolutions or decisions of the COMELEC, whether issued by a division or en banc.
As stated by the Supreme Court in the leading case of Codilla v. De Venecia, G.R.
No. 150605, December 10, 2002, respondent herself seasonably challenged the
validity of the resolution of the Second Division in her motion for reconsideration.
Hence, the issue of respondents disqualification was still within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the Comelec En Banc to resolve, and HRET cannot assume
jurisdiction on the matter, to wit:
To stress again, at the time of the proclamation of respondent
Locsin, the validity of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second
Division was seasonably challenged by the petitioner in his Motion
for Reconsideration. The issue was still within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the Comelec En Banc to resolve. Hence, the HRET
cannot assume jurisdiction over the matter.

In Puzon v. Cua, even the HRET ruled that the doctrinal


ruling that once a proclamation has been made and a candidate-elect
has assumed office, it is this Tribunal that has jurisdiction over an
election contest involving members of the House of
Representatives, could not have been immediately applicable due to
the issue regarding the validity of the very COMELEC
pronouncements themselves. This is because the HRET has no
jurisdiction to review resolutions or decisions of the COMELEC,
whether issued by a division or en banc.

Finally, in disposing the Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration with


Partial Motion for Reconsideration filed by intervenor Olivia P. Paras praying that
she be proclaimed as the winning candidate for First District Representative, suffice
it to say that in the same case of Codilla v. De Venecia, supra, the Supreme Court
held, thus:

More brazen is the proclamation of respondent Locsin which


violates the settled doctrine that the candidate who obtains the
second highest number of votes may not be proclaimed winner in
case the winning candidate is disqualified. In every election, the
peoples choice is the paramount consideration and their expressed
will must, at all times, be given effect. When the majority speaks
and elects into office a candidate by giving him the highest number
of votes cast in the election for the office, no one can be declared
elected in his place. In Domino v. COMELEC, this Court ruled, viz.:

It would be extremely repugnant to the basic concept of


the constitutionally guaranteed right to suffrage if a
candidate who has not acquired the majority or plurality
of votes is proclaimed winner and imposed as
representative of a constituency, the majority of which
have positively declared through their ballots that they do
not choose him. To simplistically assume that the second
placer would have received that (sic) other votes would be
to substitute our judgment for the mind of the voters. He
could not be considered the first among the qualified
candidates because in a field which excludes the qualified
candidate, the conditions would have substantially
changed.

xxx

The effect of a decision declaring a person ineligible to


hold an office is only that the election fails entirely, that
the wreath of victory cannot be transferred from the
disqualified winner to the repudiated loser because the
law then as now only authorizes a declaration in favor of
the person who has obtained a plurality of votes, and does
not entitle the candidate receiving the next highest
number of votes to be declared elected. In such case, the
electors have failed to make a choice and the election is
a nullity. To allow the defeated and repudiated candidate
to take over the elective position despite his rejection by
the electorate is to disenfranchise the electorate without
any fault on their part and to undermine the importance
and meaning of democracy and the peoples right to elect
officials of their choice.

All told, We find no cogent reason to disturb the findings of this


Commission (Second Division) in its Joint Resolution promulgated on May 17,
2007.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Motion for


Reconsideration of Respondent Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong is hereby DENIED.

The Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration with Partial Motion for
Reconsideration filed by Intervenor Olivia P. Paras praying that she be proclaimed
as the winning candidate for the First District Representative of Negros Oriental is
hereby denied for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.34[34]
On July 3, 2007, Limkaichong filed in the disqualification cases against her a
Manifestation and Motion for Clarification and/or To Declare the Petitions as
Dismissed in Accordance with Section 6, Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules of
Procedure.35[35] She contended that, with her proclamation, her having taken her
oath of office and her assumption of the position, the COMELEC was divested of
jurisdiction to hear the disqualification cases. She further contended that, following
Section 6,36[36] Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the disqualification
cases would have to be reheard, and if on rehearing, no decision would be reached,
the action or proceedings should be dismissed, because the COMELEC En Banc was
equally divided in opinion when it resolved her motion for reconsideration.

On an even date, Paras wrote the House of Representatives informing it of the


COMELEC En Banc Resolution dated June 29, 2007 upholding the Joint Resolution
of the COMELEC Second Division dated May 17, 2007, which disqualified
Limkaichong as a congressional candidate.37[37]

In the interim, then Speaker of the House of Representatives Jose de Venecia,


Jr. (De Venecia) allowed Limkaichong to officially assume the office as a Member
of the House of Representatives on July 23, 2007, as shown in the Journal of the
House of Representatives.38[38]

Despite Limkaichongs repeated pleas for the resolution of her manifestation


and motion for clarification,39[39] the COMELEC did not resolve the same. Hence,
on August 1, 2007, she filed with this Court a Petition for Certiorari40[40] under
Rule 65, in relation to Rule 64 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure docketed as
G.R. Nos. 178831-32 praying for the annulment of the May 17, 2007 Joint
Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division and the June 29, 2007 Resolution of
the COMELEC En Banc in the disqualification cases for having been issued with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. She averred that since
she was already proclaimed on May 25, 2007 as Representative of the First District
of Negros Oriental, had assumed office on June 30, 2007, and had started to perform
her duties and functions as such, the COMELEC had lost its jurisdiction and it is
now the HRET which has jurisdiction over any issue involving her qualifications for
the said office.
On August 16, 2007, the COMELEC En Banc ruled on Limkaichongs
manifestation and motion for clarification,41[41] with the following disquisition:

In view of the proclamation of Limkaichong and her subsequent


assumption of office on June 30, 2007, this Commission rules that all pending
incidents relating to the qualifications of Limkaichong should now be
determined by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal in accordance
with the above-quoted provision of the Constitution.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Commission resolved, as it


hereby resolves, that all pending incidents relating to the qualifications of Jocelyn
S. Limkaichong as Member of the House of Representatives should now be
determined by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.

SO ORDERED. (Emphasis ours)

On August 24, 2007, Louis Biraogo (Biraogo), as a citizen and a taxpayer,


filed with the Court a Petition for Prohibition and Injunction with Preliminary
Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order42[42] under Section 2, Rule 65
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, docketed as G.R. No. 179120, seeking to
enjoin and permanently prohibit: (a) De Venecia from allowing Limkaichong to sit
in the House of Representatives and participate in all its official activities; and (b)
Limkaichong from holding office as its Member.43[43]
Meanwhile, on August 28, 2007, Paras has instituted before the Court a
Petition for Quo Warranto, Prohibition and Mandamus with Prayer for the
Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary
Injunction44[44] under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, docketed as
G.R. Nos. 179132-33, seeking, among others, the ouster of Limkaichong from the
House of Representatives on account of her disqualification and for the holding of
special elections to fill the vacancy created by such.45[45]

On even date, the COMELEC Second Division promulgated a


Resolution46[46] denying Villando's motion to suspend the proclamation of
Limkaichong, which denial was affirmed by the COMELEC En Banc in a
Resolution47[47] dated February 1, 2008.

On September 5, 2008, Villando also filed with this Court a Petition for
Certiorari and Injunction with Preliminary Injunction and Temporary
Restraining Order48[48] under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
docketed as G.R. Nos. 179240-41, contending, among others, that the COMELEC
En Banc gravely abused its discretion in issuing the August 16, 2007
Resolution49[49] because it still acted on Limchaikongs manifestation and motion
for clarification, notwithstanding that the same was not set for hearing and
considering that its June 29, 2007 Resolution had already become final and
executory.

As the four (4) petitions are interrelated, the Court resolved to consolidate
them in its Resolutions dated September 4 and 11, 2007.

The Court heard the parties in oral argument on August 26, 2008, during
which the following issues were tackled:

1. Whether the proclamation of Limkaichong by the Provincial Board of


Canvassers of Negros Oriental is valid;

2. Whether said proclamation divested the Commission on Elections of


jurisdiction to resolve the issue of Limkaichong's citizenship;
3. Whether the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal shall assume
jurisdiction, in lieu of the COMELEC, over the issue of Limkaichong's
citizenship;

4. Whether the COMELEC Second Division and the COMELEC En Banc


correctly ruled that Limkaichong is disqualified from running as a Member of
the House of Representatives on the ground that she is not a natural-born
citizen;

5. Whether the COMELEC disqualification of Limkaichong is final and


executory; and,

6. Whether the Speaker of the House of Representatives may be compelled to


prohibit Limkaichong from assuming her duties as a Member of the
House of Representatives.

On same day, the Court required the parties to simultaneously file within
twenty (20) days their respective memoranda, after which the petitions shall be
deemed submitted for resolution, with or without the memoranda.

Section 6, Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides for the


qualification of a Member of the House of Representatives, thus:

Section 6. No person shall be a Member of the House of Representatives


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

When Limkaichong filed her COC, she stated therein that she is a natural-born
Filipino citizen. It was not true, according to the petitioners in the disqualification
cases, because her father remained a Chinese citizen at the time of her birth. The
COMELEC Second Division has sided with Camero and Villando, and disqualified
Limkaichong to run as a congressional candidate in the First District of Negros
Oriental for having failed to comply with the citizenship requirement. Accordingly,
her proclamation was ordered suspended notwithstanding that she obtained the
highest number of votes during the elections. Nonetheless, she was proclaimed by
the PBOC pursuant to the policy guidelines of COMELEC En Banc Resolution No.
8062, and she has since assumed her position and performed her functions as a
Member of the House of Representatives.

Whether Limkaichongs proclamation was valid.

The proclamation of Limkaichong was valid. The COMELEC Second


Division rendered its Joint Resolution dated May 17, 2007. On May 20, 2007,
Limkaichong timely filed with the COMELEC En Banc her motion for
reconsideration as well as for the lifting of the incorporated directive suspending her
proclamation. The filing of the motion for reconsideration effectively suspended
the execution of the May 17, 2007 Joint Resolution.50[50] Since the execution of
the May 17, 2007 Joint Resolution was suspended, there was no impediment to the
valid proclamation of Limkaichong as the winner. Section 2, Rule 19 of the
COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides:

Sec. 2. Period for Filing Motions for Reconsideration. A motion to


reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division shall be filed within
five (5) days from the promulgation thereof. Such motion, if not pro forma,
suspends the execution for implementation of the decision, resolution, order
and ruling.

In G.R. Nos. 179132-33, Paras, however, maintained that Limkaichong was


a Chinese citizen who was disqualified to run as a congressional candidate by way
of a final judgment of the COMELEC. With that, her proclamation was questionable
and the same was done in open defiance of the Joint Resolution dated May 17, 2007
of the COMELEC Second Division. She also stressed that Limkaichong's
proclamation was procedurally defective, it appearing that one of the PBOC
members was not present on May 25, 2007, and that it took place in a restaurant and
not at the provincial capitol. Finally, she argued that Limkaichongs proclamation
was void in accordance with the Court's pronouncement in the case of Codilla v. De
Venecia.51[51]
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed its Comment on the petition
of Paras, expressing its support for the position taken by the latter.

A perusal of the arguments advanced by Paras and the OSG does not sway the
Court to rule against the validity of Limkaichongs proclamation. No less than the
COMELEC First Division has sustained the validity of her proclamation when it
dismissed, by way of a Resolution dated June 29, 2007, the petition filed by Paras to
nullify the proclamation. Not only that. The COMELEC First Division has also
adopted Limkaichongs argument that following her valid proclamation, the
COMELECs jurisdiction over the disqualification cases has ceased and that the same
should be threshed out in the proper proceedings filed before the HRET. Notably,
the dismissal of Paras petition was affirmed by the COMELEC in its Omnibus Order
dated January 28, 2008.

In addition, the validity of Limkaichong's proclamation is in accordance with


COMELEC En Banc Resolution No. 8062. The disqualification cases filed against
her remained pending as a result of her timely motion for reconsideration. Villando
(in G.R. Nos. 179240-41), however, maintained that Resolution No. 8062 is invalid;
hence, it could not be used as basis to validate Limkaichong's proclamation. He
argued that it must be published since it is a policy-guideline in the exercise of the
COMELECs rule-making power. As such, it cannot supersede the Joint Resolution
of the Second Division which was rendered pursuant to the COMELECs quasi-
judicial power.
His argument is specious. Resolution No. 8062 is not only a policy- guideline.
It is also an administrative interpretation of the two (2) provisions of the 1987
Constitution, namely: (i) Section 17,52[52] Article VI (ii); Section 2(2),53[53]
Article IX-C; Section 654[54] of R.A. 6646; and Sections 24155[55] and 243,56[56]
Article XX of the OEC. As such, it does not have to comply with the due process
requirement. The term administrative connotes or pertains to administration,
especially management, as by managing or conducting, directing or superintending,
the execution, application, or conduct of persons or things. It does not entail an
opportunity to be heard, the production and weighing of evidence, and a decision or
resolution thereon.57[57] This is to be distinguished from quasi-judicial function, a
term which applies, among others, to the action or discretion of public administrative
officers or bodies, who are required to investigate facts, or ascertain the existence of
facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them, as a basis for their official
action and to exercise discretion of a judicial nature.58[58]

Resolution No. 8062 is a valid exercise of the COMELECs constitutionally


mandated power to promulgate its own rules of procedure relative to the conduct of
the elections.59[59] In adopting such policy-guidelines for the May 14, 2007
National and Local Elections, the COMELEC had in mind the objective of
upholding the sovereign will of the people and in the interest of justice and fair play.
Accordingly, those candidates whose disqualification cases are still pending at the
time of the elections, should they obtain the highest number of votes from the
electorate, shall be proclaimed but that their proclamation shall be without prejudice
to the continuation of the hearing and resolution of the involved cases. Whereas, in
this case, the COMELEC Second Division having failed to act on the
disqualification cases against Limkaichong until after the conduct of the elections,
with her obtaining the highest number of votes from the electorate, her proclamation
was properly effected by the PBOC pursuant to Resolution No. 8062.

The Court has held in the case of Planas v. COMELEC,60[60] that at the time
of the proclamation of Defensor, the respondent therein who garnered the highest
number of votes, the Division Resolution invalidating his certificate of candidacy
was not yet final. As such, his proclamation was valid or legal, as he had at that point
in time remained qualified. Limkaichongs situation is no different from that of
Defensor, the former having been disqualified by a Division Resolution on the basis
of her not being a natural-born Filipino citizen. When she was proclaimed by the
PBOC, she was the winner during the elections for obtaining the highest number of
votes, and at that time, the Division Resolution disqualifying her has not yet became
final as a result of the motion for reconsideration.
II

Whether, upon Limkaichong's proclamation, the HRET, instead of the


COMELEC, should assume jurisdiction over the disqualification cases.

In her petition (G.R. Nos. 178831-32), Limkaichong argued that her


proclamation on May 25, 2007 by the PBOC divested the COMELEC of its
jurisdiction over all issues relating to her qualifications, and that jurisdiction now
lies with the HRET.

Biraogo, on the other hand, believed otherwise. He argued (in G.R. No.
179120) that the issue concerning Limkaichongs disqualification is still within the
exclusive jurisdiction of the COMELEC En Banc to resolve because when
Limkaichong was proclaimed on May 25, 2007, the matter was still pending
resolution before the COMELEC En Banc.

We do not agree. The Court has invariably held that once a winning candidate
has been proclaimed, taken his oath, and assumed office as a Member of the
House of Representatives, the COMELEC's jurisdiction over election contests
relating to his election, returns, and qualifications ends, and the HRET's own
jurisdiction begins.61[61] It follows then that the proclamation of a winning
candidate divests the COMELEC of its jurisdiction over matters pending before it at
the time of the proclamation. The party questioning his qualification should now
present his case in a proper proceeding before the HRET, the constitutionally
mandated tribunal to hear and decide a case involving a Member of the House of
Representatives with respect to the latter's election, returns and qualifications. The
use of the word sole in Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution and in Section
25062[62] of the OEC underscores the exclusivity of the Electoral Tribunals'
jurisdiction over election contests relating to its members.63[63]

Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution provides:

Sec. 17. The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an
Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the
election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members. Each
Electoral Tribunal shall be composed of nine Members, three of whom shall be
Justices of the Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Justice, and the
remaining six shall be Members of the Senate or the House of Representatives, as
the case may be, who shall be chosen on the basis of proportional representation
from the political parties and the parties or organizations registered under the party-
list system represented therein. The senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be
its Chairman.
Corollary thereto is Rule 14 of the 1998 Rules of the HRET, as
amended, which states:

RULE 14. Jurisdiction. - The Tribunal is the sole judge of all contests
relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the Members of the House
of Representatives.

The COMELEC En Banc, in its Resolution dated August 16, 2007, had given
paramount consideration to the two (2) aforementioned provisions when it stated
that:

In view of the proclamation of Limkaichong and her subsequent


assumption of office on June 30, 2007, this Commission rules that all pending
incidents relating to the qualifications of Limkaichong should now be
determined by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal in accordance
with the above-quoted provision of the Constitution.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Commission resolved, as it
hereby resolves, that all pending incidents relating to the qualifications of Jocelyn
S. Limkaichong as Member of the House of Representatives should now be
determined by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.

SO ORDERED. (Emphasis supplied)

Worth citing also is the ratiocination of the COMELEC First Division when
it dismissed the petition of Paras seeking the nullity of Limkaichong's proclamation,
thus:
The present situation is similar not to the factual circumstances of Codilla,
which Paras invokes, but rather to that in Planas which adheres to the general rule
giving jurisdiction to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal. As at the
time of Limkaichong's proclamation, her disqualification was not yet final, her
proclamation was valid or legal. This Commission no longer has jurisdiction over
the case. This, notwithstanding the Second Division's directive suspending
Limkaichong's proclamation.

The Commission has made its intention in issuing Resolution No. 8062 very
clear in that there shall be no suspension of proclamation of winning candidates
with pending disqualification cases, involving, among others, issues of citizenship.
As the disqualification cases involving Limkaichong were still pending
reconsideration by the En Banc, the underlying policy which gave rise to the
issuance of the resolution: to respect the will of the Filipino electorate, applies to
the suspension of proclamation of the winning Congressional candidate for the First
District of Negros Oriental.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

Petitioners (in G.R. Nos. 179120, 179132-33, and 179240-41) steadfastly


maintained that Limkaichongs proclamation was tainted with irregularity, which will
effectively prevent the HRET from acquiring jurisdiction.

The fact that the proclamation of the winning candidate, as in this case, was
alleged to have been tainted with irregularity does not divest the HRET of its
jurisdiction.64[64] The Court has shed light on this in the case of Vinzons-
Chato,65[65] to the effect that:

In the present case, it is not disputed that respondent Unico has already been
proclaimed and taken his oath of office as a Member of the House of
Representatives (Thirteenth Congress); hence, the COMELEC correctly ruled that
it had already lost jurisdiction over petitioner Chato's petition. The issues raised by
petitioner Chato essentially relate to the canvassing of returns and alleged invalidity
of respondent Unico's proclamation. These are matters that are best addressed to the
sound judgment and discretion of the HRET. Significantly, the allegation that
respondent Unico's proclamation is null and void does not divest the HRET of its
jurisdiction:

x x x [I]n an electoral contest where the validity of the


proclamation of a winning candidate who has taken his oath of
office and assumed his post as congressman is raised, that issue is
best addressed to the HRET. The reason for this ruling is self-
evident, for it avoids duplicity of proceedings and a clash of
jurisdiction between constitutional bodies, with due regard to the
people's mandate.

Further, for the Court to take cognizance of petitioner Chato's election


protest against respondent Unico would be to usurp the constitutionally mandated
functions of the HRET.

In fine, any allegations as to the invalidity of the proclamation will not prevent
the HRET from assuming jurisdiction over all matters essential to a members
qualification to sit in the House of Representatives.
The 1998 HRET Rules, as amended, provide for the manner of filing either an
election protest or a petition for quo warranto against a Member of the House of
Representatives, to wit:

Rule 16. Election protest. -- A verified petition contesting the election of


any Member of the House of Representatives shall be filed by any candidate who
has duly filed a certificate of candidacy and has been voted for the same office,
within ten (10) days after the proclamation of the winner. The party filing the protest
shall be designated as the protestant while the adverse party shall be known as the
protestee.

xxx

Rule 17. Quo Warranto. -- A verified petition for quo warranto contesting
the election of a Member of the House of Representatives on the ground of
ineligibility or of disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines shall be filed by any
voter within ten (10) days after the proclamation of the winner. The party filing the
petition shall be designated as the petitioner while the adverse party shall be known
as the respondent.

xxx

Rule 19. Periods Non-Extendible. -- The ten-day period mentioned in Rules


16 and 17 is jurisdictional and cannot be extended.

Accordingly, after the proclamation of the winning candidate in the


congressional elections, the remedy of those who may assail ones
eligibility/ineligibility/qualification/disqualification is to file before the HRET a
petition for an election protest, or a petition for quo warranto, within the period
provided by the HRET Rules. In Pangilinan v. Commission on Elections,66[66] we
ruled that where the candidate has already been proclaimed winner in the
congressional elections, the remedy of petitioner is to file an electoral protest with
the Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives.

The PBOC proclaimed Limkaichong as the winner on May 25, 2007. Thus,
petitioners (in G.R. Nos. 179120, 179132-33, and 179240-41) should have filed
either an election protest or petition for quo warranto within ten days from May 25,
2007. But they did not. In fact, to date, no petition of protest or petition for quo
warranto has been filed with the HRET. Verily, the ten-day prescriptive period for
initiating a contest against Limkaichong has long expired.

However, the said ten-day prescriptive period under the 1998 HRET Rules
does not apply to disqualification cases based on citizenship. Under the 1987
Constitution, Members of the House of Representatives must be natural-born
citizens not only at the time of their election but during their entire tenure.
Being a continuing requirement, one who assails a member's citizenship or lack of
it may still question the same at any time, the ten-day prescriptive period
notwithstanding.

In Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections,67[67] the Court held that:

The argument that the petition filed with the Commission on Elections
should be dismissed for tardiness is not well-taken. The herein private respondents
are seeking to prevent Frivaldo from continuing to discharge his office as governor
because he is disqualified from doing so as a foreigner. Qualifications for public
office are continuing requirements and must be possessed not only at the time
of appointment or election or assumption of office but during the officers
entire tenure. Once any of the required qualifications is lost, his title may be
seasonably challenged. If, say, a female legislator were to marry a foreigner
during her term and by her act or omission acquires his nationality, would she
have the right to remain in office simply because the challenge to her title may
not longer be made within ten days from her proclamation? x x x
This Court will not permit the anomaly of a person sitting as provincial
governor in this country while owing exclusive allegiance to another country.
The fact that he was elected by the people of Sorsogon does not excuse this patent
violation of the salutary rule limiting public office and employment only to the
citizens of this country. The qualifications prescribed for elective office cannot be
erased by the electorate alone. The will of the people as expressed through the
ballot cannot cure the vice of ineligibility, especially if they mistakenly
believed, as in this case, that the candidate was qualified. Obviously, this rule
requires strict application when the deficiency is lack of citizenship. If a person
seeks to serve in the Republic of the Philippines, he must owe his total loyalty to
this country alone, abjuring and renouncing all fealty to any other state.

However, in assailing the citizenship of the father, the proper proceeding


should be in accordance with Section 18 of Commonwealth Act No. 473 which
provides that:
Sec. 18. Cancellation of Naturalization Certificate Issued: - Upon motion Commented [MC1]: Who can question citizenship
made in the proper proceedings by the Solicitor General or his representative,
or by the proper provincial fiscal, the competent judge may cancel the
naturalization certificate issued and its registration in the Civil Register:

1. If it is shown that said naturalization certificate was obtained fraudulently


or illegally;
2. If the person naturalized shall, within five years next following the issuance
of said naturalization certificate, return to his native country or to some
foreign country and establish his permanent residence there: Provided, That
the fact of the person naturalized remaining more than one year in his native
country or the country of his former nationality, or two years in any other
foreign country, shall be considered as prima facie evidence of his intention
of taking up his permanent residence in the same:
3. If the petition was made on an invalid declaration of intention;
4. If it is shown that the minor children of the person naturalized failed to
graduate from a public or private high schools recognized by the Office of
Private Education [now Bureau of Private Schools] of the Philippines,
where Philippine history, government or civics are taught as part of the
school curriculum, through the fault of their parents either by neglecting to
support them or by transferring them to another school or schools. A
certified copy of the decree canceling the naturalization certificate shall be
forwarded by the Clerk of Court of the Department of Interior [now Office
of the President] and the Bureau of Justice [now Office of the Solicitor
General];
5. If it is shown that the naturalized citizen has allowed himself to be used as
a dummy in violation of the constitutional or legal provisions requiring
Philippine citizenship as a requisite for the exercise, use or enjoyment of a
right, franchise or privilege. (Emphasis supplied)

As early as the case of Queto v. Catolico,68[68] where the Court of First


Instance judge motu proprio and not in the proper denaturalization proceedings
called to court various grantees of certificates of naturalization (who had already
taken their oaths of allegiance) and cancelled their certificates of naturalization due
to procedural infirmities, the Court held that:

x x x It may be true that, as alleged by said respondents, that the


proceedings for naturalization were tainted with certain infirmities, fatal or
otherwise, but that is beside the point in this case. The jurisdiction of the court to
inquire into and rule upon such infirmities must
be properly invoked in accordance with the procedure laid down by law. Such
procedure is the cancellation of the naturalization certificate. [Section 1(5),
Commonwealth Act No. 63], in the manner fixed in Section 18 of Commonwealth
Act No. 473, hereinbefore quoted, namely, upon motion made in the proper
proceedings by the Solicitor General or his representatives, or by the proper
provincial fiscal. In other words, the initiative must come from these officers,
presumably after previous investigation in each particular case. (Emphasis
supplied)

Clearly, under law and jurisprudence, it is the State, through its


representatives designated by statute, that may question the illegally or invalidly
procured certificate of naturalization in the appropriate denaturalization
proceedings. It is plainly not a matter that may be raised by private persons in an
election case involving the naturalized citizens descendant.

III

Whether the COMELEC Second Division and the COMELEC En Banc correctly
disqualified Limkaichong on the ground that she is not a natural-born Filipino
citizen.