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TECSON VS COMELEC

G.R. No. 161434 March 3, 2004


MARIA JEANETTE C. TECSON and FELIX B. DESIDERIO,
JR., petitioners,
vs.
The COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, RONALD ALLAN KELLY POE
(a.k.a. FERNANDO POE, JR.) and VICTORINO X.
FORNIER, respondents.
x-----------------------------x
G.R. No. 161634 March 3, 2004
ZOILO ANTONIO VELEZ, petitioner,
vs.
RONALD ALLAN KELLEY POE, a.k.a. FERNANDO POE,
JR., respondent.
x-----------------------------x
G. R. No. 161824 March 3, 2004
VICTORINO X. FORNIER, petitioner,
vs.
HON. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and RONALD ALLAN KELLEY
POE, ALSO KNOWN AS FERNANDO POE JR., respondents.
DECISION
VITUG, J.:
Citizenship is a treasured right conferred on those whom the
state believes are deserving of the privilege. It is a "precious
heritage, as well as an inestimable acquisition,"1 that cannot be
taken lightly by anyone - either by those who enjoy it or by
those who dispute it.

1
Before the Court are three consolidated cases, all of which raise a
single question of profound importance to the nation. The issue of
citizenship is brought up to challenge the qualifications of a
presidential candidate to hold the highest office of the land. Our
people are waiting for the judgment of the Court with bated
breath. Is Fernando Poe, Jr., the hero of silver screen, and now
one of the main contenders for the presidency, a natural-born
Filipino or is he not?
The moment of introspection takes us face to face with Spanish
and American colonial roots and reminds us of the rich heritage of
civil law and common law traditions, the fusion resulting in a
hybrid of laws and jurisprudence that could be no less than
distinctly Filipino.
Antecedent Case Settings
On 31 December 2003, respondent Ronald Allan Kelly Poe, also
known as Fernando Poe, Jr. (hereinafter "FPJ"), filed his certificate
of candidacy for the position of President of the Republic of the
Philippines under the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP)
Party, in the forthcoming national elections. In his certificate of
candidacy, FPJ, representing himself to be a natural-born citizen
of the Philippines, stated his name to be "Fernando Jr.," or
"Ronald Allan" Poe, his date of birth to be 20 August 1939 and his
place of birth to be Manila.
Victorino X. Fornier, petitioner in G.R. No. 161824, entitled
"Victorino X. Fornier, Petitioner, versus Hon. Commission on
Elections and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, also known as Fernando
Poe, Jr., Respondents," initiated, on 09 January 2004, a petition
docketed SPA No. 04-003 before the Commission on Elections
("COMELEC") to disqualify FPJ and to deny due course or to cancel
his certificate of candidacy upon the thesis that FPJ made a
material misrepresentation in his certificate of candidacy by
claiming to be a natural-born Filipino citizen when in truth,
according to Fornier, his parents were foreigners; his mother,
2
Bessie Kelley Poe, was an American, and his father, Allan Poe, was
a Spanish national, being the son of Lorenzo Pou, a Spanish
subject. Granting, petitioner asseverated, that Allan F. Poe was a
Filipino citizen, he could not have transmitted his Filipino
citizenship to FPJ, the latter being an illegitimate child of an alien
mother. Petitioner based the allegation of the illegitimate birth of
respondent on two assertions - first, Allan F. Poe contracted a
prior marriage to a certain Paulita Gomez before his marriage to
Bessie Kelley and, second, even if no such prior marriage had
existed, Allan F. Poe, married Bessie Kelly only a year after the
birth of respondent.
In the hearing before the Third Division of the COMELEC on 19
January 2004, petitioner, in support of his claim, presented
several documentary exhibits - 1) a copy of the certificate of birth
of FPJ, 2) a certified photocopy of an affidavit executed in Spanish
by Paulita Poe y Gomez attesting to her having filed a case for
bigamy and concubinage against the father of respondent, Allan F.
Poe, after discovering his bigamous relationship with Bessie
Kelley, 3) an English translation of the affidavit aforesaid, 4) a
certified photocopy of the certificate of birth of Allan F. Poe, 5) a
certification issued by the Director of the Records Management
and Archives Office, attesting to the fact that there was no record
in the National Archives that a Lorenzo Poe or Lorenzo Pou
resided or entered the Philippines before 1907, and 6) a
certification from the Officer-In-Charge of the Archives Division of
the National Archives to the effect that no available information
could be found in the files of the National Archives regarding the
birth of Allan F. Poe.
On his part, respondent, presented twenty-two documentary
pieces of evidence, the more significant ones being - a) a
certification issued by Estrella M. Domingo of the Archives
Division of the National Archives that there appeared to be no
available information regarding the birth of Allan F. Poe in the
registry of births for San Carlos, Pangasinan, b) a certification
3
issued by the Officer-In-Charge of the Archives Division of the
National Archives that no available information about the
marriage of Allan F. Poe and Paulita Gomez could be found, c) a
certificate of birth of Ronald Allan Poe, d) Original Certificate of
Title No. P-2247 of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of
Pangasinan, in the name of Lorenzo Pou, e) copies of Tax
Declaration No. 20844, No. 20643, No. 23477 and No. 23478 in
the name of Lorenzo Pou, f) a copy of the certificate of death of
Lorenzo Pou, g) a copy of the purported marriage contract
between Fernando Pou and Bessie Kelley, and h) a certification
issued by the City Civil Registrar of San Carlos City, Pangasinan,
stating that the records of birth in the said office during the
period of from 1900 until May 1946 were totally destroyed during
World War II.
On 23 January 2004, the COMELEC dismissed SPA No. 04-003 for
lack of merit. Three days later, or on 26 January 2004, Fornier
filed his motion for reconsideration. The motion was denied on 06
February 2004 by the COMELEC en banc. On 10 February 2004,
petitioner assailed the decision of the COMELEC before this Court
conformably with Rule 64, in relation to Rule 65, of the Revised
Rules of Civil Procedure. The petition, docketed G. R. No. 161824,
likewise prayed for a temporary restraining order, a writ of
preliminary injunction or any other resolution that would stay the
finality and/or execution of the COMELEC resolutions.
The other petitions, later consolidated with G. R. No. 161824,
would include G. R. No. 161434, entitled "Maria Jeanette C.
Tecson, and Felix B. Desiderio, Jr., vs. The Commission on
Elections, Ronald Allan Kelley Poe (a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr.), and
Victorino X. Fornier," and the other, docketed G. R. No. 161634,
entitled "Zoilo Antonio G. Velez, vs. Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, a.k.a.
Fernando Poe, Jr.," both challenging the jurisdiction of the
COMELEC and asserting that, under Article VII, Section 4,
paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution, only the Supreme Court

4
had original and exclusive jurisdiction to resolve the basic issue on
the case.
Jurisdiction of the Court
In G. R. No. 161824
In seeking the disqualification of the candidacy of FPJ and to have
the COMELEC deny due course to or cancel FPJs certificate of
candidacy for alleged misrepresentation of a material fact (i.e.,
that FPJ was a natural-born citizen) before the COMELEC,
petitioner Fornier invoked Section 78 of the Omnibus Election
Code
"Section 78. Petition to deny due course to or cancel a
certificate of candidacy. --- A verified petition seeking to deny
due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy may be filed
by any person exclusively on the ground that any material
representation contained therein as required under Section
74 hereof is false"
in consonance with the general powers of COMELEC expressed in
Section 52 of the Omnibus Election Code -
"Section 52. Powers and functions of the Commission on
Elections. In addition to the powers and functions conferred
upon it by the Constitution, the Commission shall have
exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all
laws relative to the conduct of elections for the purpose of
ensuring free, orderly and honest elections" -
and in relation to Article 69 of the Omnibus Election Code
which would authorize "any interested party" to file a verified
petition to deny or cancel the certificate of candidacy of any
nuisance candidate.
Decisions of the COMELEC on disqualification cases may be
reviewed by the Supreme Court per Rule 642 in an action for
5
certiorari under Rule 653 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure.
Section 7, Article IX, of the 1987 Constitution also reads
"Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its
Members any case or matter brought before it within sixty
days from the date of its submission for decision or
resolution. A case or matter is deemed submitted for decision
or resolution upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or
memorandum, required by the rules of the Commission or by
the Commission itself. Unless otherwise provided by this
Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each
Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court on
certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from
receipt of a copy thereof."
Additionally, Section 1, Article VIII, of the same Constitution
provides that judicial power is vested in one Supreme Court and in
such lower courts as may be established by law which power
"includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and
enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
Government."
It is sufficiently clear that the petition brought up in G. R. No.
161824 was aptly elevated to, and could well be taken cognizance
of by, this Court. A contrary view could be a gross denial to our
people of their fundamental right to be fully informed, and to
make a proper choice, on who could or should be elected to
occupy the highest government post in the land.
In G. R. No. 161434 and G. R. No. 161634
Petitioners Tecson, et al., in G. R. No. 161434, and Velez, in G. R.
No. 161634, invoke the provisions of Article VII, Section 4,
paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution in assailing the jurisdiction
6
of the COMELEC when it took cognizance of SPA No. 04-003 and in
urging the Supreme Court to instead take on the petitions they
directly instituted before it. The Constitutional provision cited
reads:
"The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge
of all contests relating to the election, returns, and
qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and may
promulgate its rules for the purpose."
The provision is an innovation of the 1987 Constitution. The
omission in the 1935 and the 1973 Constitution to designate any
tribunal to be the sole judge of presidential and vice-presidential
contests, has constrained this Court to declare, in Lopez vs.
Roxas,4 as "not (being) justiciable" controversies or disputes
involving contests on the elections, returns and qualifications of
the President or Vice-President. The constitutional lapse
prompted Congress, on 21 June 1957, to enact Republic Act No.
1793, "An Act Constituting an Independent Presidential Electoral
Tribunal to Try, Hear and Decide Protests Contesting the Election
of the President-Elect and the Vice-President-Elect of the
Philippines and Providing for the Manner of Hearing the Same."
Republic Act 1793 designated the Chief Justice and the Associate
Justices of the Supreme Court to be the members of the tribunal.
Although the subsequent adoption of the parliamentary form of
government under the 1973 Constitution might have implicitly
affected Republic Act No. 1793, the statutory set-up, nonetheless,
would now be deemed revived under the present Section 4,
paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution.
Ordinary usage would characterize a "contest" in reference to a
post-election scenario. Election contests consist of either an
election protest or a quo warranto which, although two distinct
remedies, would have one objective in view, i.e., to dislodge the
winning candidate from office. A perusal of the phraseology in
Rule 12, Rule 13, and Rule 14 of the "Rules of the Presidential
7
Electoral Tribunal," promulgated by the Supreme Court en banc
on 18 April 1992, would support this premise -
"Rule 12. Jurisdiction. - The Tribunal shall be the sole judge of
all contests relating to the election, returns, and
qualifications of the President or Vice-President of the
Philippines.
"Rule 13. How Initiated. - An election contest is initiated by
the filing of an election protest or a petition for quo warranto
against the President or Vice-President. An election protest
shall not include a petition for quo warranto. A petition for
quo warranto shall not include an election protest.
"Rule 14. Election Protest. - Only the registered candidate for
President or for Vice-President of the Philippines who
received the second or third highest number of votes may
contest the election of the President or the Vice-President, as
the case may be, by filing a verified petition with the Clerk of
the Presidential Electoral Tribunal within thirty (30) days after
the proclamation of the winner."
The rules categorically speak of the jurisdiction of the tribunal
over contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of
the "President" or "Vice-President", of the Philippines, and not of
"candidates" for President or Vice-President. A quo warranto
proceeding is generally defined as being an action against a
person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises
a public office.5 In such context, the election contest can only
contemplate a post-election scenario. In Rule 14, only a registered
candidate who would have received either the second or third
highest number of votes could file an election protest. This rule
again presupposes a post-election scenario.
It is fair to conclude that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court,
defined by Section 4, paragraph 7, of the 1987 Constitution,
would not include cases directly brought before it, questioning
8
the qualifications of a candidate for the presidency or vice-
presidency before the elections are held.
Accordingly, G. R. No. 161434, entitled "Maria Jeanette C. Tecson,
et al., vs. Commission on Elections et al.," and G. R. No. 161634,
entitled "Zoilo Antonio Velez vs. Ronald Allan Kelley Poe a.k.a.
Fernando Poe, Jr." would have to be dismissed for want of
jurisdiction.
The Citizenship Issue
Now, to the basic issue; it should be helpful to first give a brief
historical background on the concept of citizenship.
Perhaps, the earliest understanding of citizenship was that given
by Aristotle, who, sometime in 384 to 322 B.C., described the
"citizen" to refer to a man who shared in the administration of
justice and in the holding of an office.6 Aristotle saw its
significance if only to determine the constituency of the "State,"
which he described as being composed of such persons who
would be adequate in number to achieve a self-sufficient
existence.7 The concept grew to include one who would both
govern and be governed, for which qualifications like autonomy,
judgment and loyalty could be expected. Citizenship was seen to
deal with rights and entitlements, on the one hand, and with
concomitant obligations, on the other.8 In its ideal setting, a
citizen was active in public life and fundamentally willing to
submit his private interests to the general interest of society.
The concept of citizenship had undergone changes over the
centuries. In the 18th century, the concept was limited, by and
large, to civil citizenship, which established the rights necessary
for individual freedom, such as rights to property, personal liberty
and justice.9 Its meaning expanded during the 19th century to
include political citizenship, which encompassed the right to
participate in the exercise of political power.10 The 20th century
saw the next stage of the development of social citizenship, which
9
laid emphasis on the right of the citizen to economic well-being
and social security.11 The idea of citizenship has gained expression
in the modern welfare state as it so developed in Western Europe.
An ongoing and final stage of development, in keeping with the
rapidly shrinking global village, might well be the
internationalization of citizenship.12
The Local Setting - from Spanish Times to the Present
There was no such term as "Philippine citizens" during the Spanish
regime but "subjects of Spain" or "Spanish subjects."13 In church
records, the natives were called 'indios', denoting a low regard for
the inhabitants of the archipelago. Spanish laws on citizenship
became highly codified during the 19th century but their sheer
number made it difficult to point to one comprehensive law. Not
all of these citizenship laws of Spain however, were made to apply
to the Philippine Islands except for those explicitly extended by
Royal Decrees.14
Spanish laws on citizenship were traced back to the Novisima
Recopilacion, promulgated in Spain on 16 July 1805 but as to
whether the law was extended to the Philippines remained to be
the subject of differing views among experts;15 however, three
royal decrees were undisputably made applicable to Spaniards in
the Philippines - the Order de la Regencia of 14 August 1841,16 the
Royal Decree of 23 August 1868 specifically defining the political
status of children born in the Philippine Islands,17 and finally, the
Ley Extranjera de Ultramar of 04 July 1870, which was expressly
made applicable to the Philippines by the Royal Decree of 13 July
1870.18
The Spanish Constitution of 1876 was never extended to the
Philippine Islands because of the express mandate of its Article
89, according to which the provisions of the Ultramar among
which this country was included, would be governed by special
laws.19

10
It was only the Civil Code of Spain, made effective in this
jurisdiction on 18 December 1889, which came out with the first
categorical enumeration of who were Spanish citizens. -
"(a) Persons born in Spanish territory,
"(b) Children of a Spanish father or mother, even if they were
born outside of Spain,
"(c) Foreigners who have obtained naturalization papers,
"(d) Those who, without such papers, may have become
domiciled inhabitants of any town of the Monarchy."20
The year 1898 was another turning point in Philippine history.
Already in the state of decline as a superpower, Spain was forced
to so cede her sole colony in the East to an upcoming world
power, the United States. An accepted principle of international
law dictated that a change in sovereignty, while resulting in an
abrogation of all political laws then in force, would have no effect
on civil laws, which would remain virtually intact.
The Treaty of Paris was entered into on 10 December 1898
between Spain and the United States.21 Under Article IX of the
treaty, the civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants
of the territories ceded to the United States would be determined
by its Congress -
"Spanish subjects, natives of the Peninsula, residing in the
territory over which Spain by the present treaty relinquishes
or cedes her sovereignty may remain in such territory or may
remove therefrom, retaining in either event all their rights of
property, including the right to sell or dispose of such
property or of its proceeds; and they shall also have the right
to carry on their industry, commerce, and professions, being
subject in respect thereof to such laws as are applicable to
foreigners. In case they remain in the territory they may
preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain by making,
11
before a court of record, within a year from the date of the
exchange of ratifications of this treaty, a declaration of their
decision to preserve such allegiance; in default of which
declaration they shall be held to have renounced it and to
have adopted the nationality of the territory in which they
reside.
Thus
"The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants
of the territories hereby ceded to the United States shall be
determined by the Congress."22
Upon the ratification of the treaty, and pending legislation by the
United States Congress on the subject, the native inhabitants of
the Philippines ceased to be Spanish subjects. Although they did
not become American citizens, they, however, also ceased to be
"aliens" under American laws and were thus issued passports
describing them to be citizens of the Philippines entitled to the
protection of the United States.
The term "citizens of the Philippine Islands" appeared for the first
time in the Philippine Bill of 1902, also commonly referred to as
the Philippine Organic Act of 1902, the first comprehensive
legislation of the Congress of the United States on the Philippines
-
".... that all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands continuing to
reside therein, who were Spanish subjects on the 11th day of
April, 1891, and then resided in said Islands, and their
children born subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and held
to be citizens of the Philippine Islands and as such entitled to
the protection of the United States, except such as shall have
elected to preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in
accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace
between the United States and Spain, signed at Paris,
December tenth eighteen hundred and ninety eight."23
12
Under the organic act, a "citizen of the Philippines" was one who
was an inhabitant of the Philippines, and a Spanish subject on the
11th day of April 1899. The term "inhabitant" was taken to include
1) a native-born inhabitant, 2) an inhabitant who was a native of
Peninsular Spain, and 3) an inhabitant who obtained Spanish
papers on or before 11 April 1899.24
Controversy arose on to the status of children born in the
Philippines from 11 April 1899 to 01 July 1902, during which
period no citizenship law was extant in the Philippines. Weight
was given to the view, articulated in jurisprudential writing at the
time, that the common law principle of jus soli, otherwise also
known as the principle of territoriality, operative in the United
States and England, governed those born in the Philippine
Archipelago within that period.25 More about this later.
In 23 March 1912, the Congress of the United States made the
following amendment to the Philippine Bill of 1902 -
"Provided, That the Philippine Legislature is hereby
authorized to provide by law for the acquisition of Philippine
citizenship by those natives of the Philippine Islands who do
not come within the foregoing provisions, the natives of
other insular possession of the United States, and such other
persons residing in the Philippine Islands who would become
citizens of the United States, under the laws of the United
States, if residing therein."26
With the adoption of the Philippine Bill of 1902, the concept of
"Philippine citizens" had for the first time crystallized. The word
"Filipino" was used by William H. Taft, the first Civil Governor
General in the Philippines when he initially made mention of it in
his slogan, "The Philippines for the Filipinos." In 1916, the
Philippine Autonomy Act, also known as the Jones Law restated
virtually the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902, as so
amended by the Act of Congress in 1912 -

13
"That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands who were
Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen
hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in said Islands,
and their children born subsequently thereto, shall be
deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands,
except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance
to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of
the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain,
signed at Paris December tenth, eighteen hundred and
ninety-eight and except such others as have since become
citizens of some other country; Provided, That the Philippine
Legislature, herein provided for, is hereby authorized to
provide for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those
natives of the Philippine Islands who do not come within the
foregoing provisions, the natives of the insular possessions of
the United States, and such other persons residing in the
Philippine Islands who are citizens of the United States, or
who could become citizens of the United States under the
laws of the United States, if residing therein."
Under the Jones Law, a native-born inhabitant of the Philippines
was deemed to be a citizen of the Philippines as of 11 April 1899 if
he was 1) a subject of Spain on 11 April 1899, 2) residing in the
Philippines on said date, and, 3) since that date, not a citizen of
some other country.
While there was, at one brief time, divergent views on whether or
not jus soli was a mode of acquiring citizenship, the 1935
Constitution brought to an end to any such link with common law,
by adopting, once and for all, jus sanguinis or blood relationship
as being the basis of Filipino citizenship -
"Section 1, Article III, 1935 Constitution. The following are
citizens of the Philippines -
"(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the
time of the adoption of this Constitution
14
"(2) Those born in the Philippines Islands of foreign parents
who, before the adoption of this Constitution, had been
elected to public office in the Philippine Islands.
"(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."
Subsection (4), Article III, of the 1935 Constitution, taken together
with existing civil law provisions at the time, which provided that
women would automatically lose their Filipino citizenship and
acquire that of their foreign husbands, resulted in discriminatory
situations that effectively incapacitated the women from
transmitting their Filipino citizenship to their legitimate children
and required illegitimate children of Filipino mothers to still elect
Filipino citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. Seeking to
correct this anomaly, as well as fully cognizant of the newly found
status of Filipino women as equals to men, the framers of the
1973 Constitution crafted the provisions of the new Constitution
on citizenship to reflect such concerns -
"Section 1, Article III, 1973 Constitution - The following are
citizens of the Philippines:
"(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of
the adoption of this Constitution.
"(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the
Philippines.
"(3) Those who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the
provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-
five.
"(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law."
15
For good measure, Section 2 of the same article also further
provided that
"A female citizen of the Philippines who marries an alien
retains her Philippine citizenship, unless by her act or
omission she is deemed, under the law to have renounced
her citizenship."
The 1987 Constitution generally adopted the provisions of the
1973 Constitution, except for subsection (3) thereof that aimed to
correct the irregular situation generated by the questionable
proviso in the 1935 Constitution.
Section I, Article IV, 1987 Constitution now provides:
"The following are citizens of the Philippines:
"(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time
of the adoption of this Constitution.
"(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the
Philippines.
"(3) Those born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino
mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching
the age of majority; and
"(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law."
The Case Of FPJ
Section 2, Article VII, of the 1987 Constitution expresses:
"No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-
born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read
and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the
election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten
years immediately preceding such election."

16
The term "natural-born citizens," is defined to include "those who
are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to
perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine
citizenship."27
The date, month and year of birth of FPJ appeared to be 20
August 1939 during the regime of the 1935 Constitution. Through
its history, four modes of acquiring citizenship - naturalization, jus
soli, res judicata and jus sanguinis28 had been in vogue. Only
two, i.e., jus soli and jus sanguinis, could qualify a person to being
a "natural-born" citizen of the Philippines. Jus soli, per Roa vs.
Collector of Customs29 (1912), did not last long. With the adoption
of the 1935 Constitution and the reversal of Roa in Tan Chong vs.
Secretary of Labor30 (1947), jus sanguinis or blood relationship
would now become the primary basis of citizenship by birth.
Documentary evidence adduced by petitioner would tend to
indicate that the earliest established direct ascendant of FPJ was
his paternal grandfather Lorenzo Pou, married to Marta Reyes,
the father of Allan F. Poe. While the record of birth of Lorenzo
Pou had not been presented in evidence, his death certificate,
however, identified him to be a Filipino, a resident of San Carlos,
Pangasinan, and 84 years old at the time of his death on 11
September 1954. The certificate of birth of the father of FPJ, Allan
F. Poe, showed that he was born on 17 May 1915 to an Espaol
father, Lorenzo Pou, and a mestiza Espaol mother, Marta Reyes.
Introduced by petitioner was an "uncertified" copy of a supposed
certificate of the alleged marriage of Allan F. Poe and Paulita
Gomez on 05 July 1936. The marriage certificate of Allan F. Poe
and Bessie Kelley reflected the date of their marriage to be on 16
September 1940. In the same certificate, Allan F. Poe was stated
to be twenty-five years old, unmarried, and a Filipino citizen, and
Bessie Kelley to be twenty-two years old, unmarried, and an
American citizen. The birth certificate of FPJ, would disclose that
he was born on 20 August 1939 to Allan F. Poe, a Filipino, twenty-

17
four years old, married to Bessie Kelly, an American citizen,
twenty-one years old and married.
Considering the reservations made by the parties on the veracity
of some of the entries on the birth certificate of respondent and
the marriage certificate of his parents, the only conclusions that
could be drawn with some degree of certainty from the
documents would be that -
1. The parents of FPJ were Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley;
2. FPJ was born to them on 20 August 1939;
3. Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley were married to each other
on 16 September, 1940;
4. The father of Allan F. Poe was Lorenzo Poe; and
5. At the time of his death on 11 September 1954, Lorenzo
Poe was 84 years old.
Would the above facts be sufficient or insufficient to establish the
fact that FPJ is a natural-born Filipino citizen? The marriage
certificate of Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley, the birth certificate of
FPJ, and the death certificate of Lorenzo Pou are documents of
public record in the custody of a public officer. The documents
have been submitted in evidence by both contending parties
during the proceedings before the COMELEC.
The birth certificate of FPJ was marked Exhibit "A" for petitioner
and Exhibit "3" for respondent. The marriage certificate of Allan F.
Poe to Bessie Kelley was submitted as Exhibit "21" for respondent.
The death certificate of Lorenzo Pou was submitted by
respondent as his Exhibit "5." While the last two documents were
submitted in evidence for respondent, the admissibility thereof,
particularly in reference to the facts which they purported to
show, i.e., the marriage certificate in relation to the date of
marriage of Allan F. Poe to Bessie Kelley and the death certificate
18
relative to the death of Lorenzo Pou on 11 September 1954 in San
Carlos, Pangasinan, were all admitted by petitioner, who had
utilized those material statements in his argument. All three
documents were certified true copies of the originals.
Section 3, Rule 130, Rules of Court states that -
"Original document must be produced; exceptions. - When
the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no
evidence shall be admissible other than the original
document itself, except in the following cases:
"x x x xxx xxx
"(d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a
public office or is recorded in a public office."
Being public documents, the death certificate of Lorenzo Pou, the
marriage certificate of Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelly, and the birth
certificate of FPJ, constitute prima facie proof of their contents.
Section 44, Rule 130, of the Rules of Court provides:
"Entries in official records. Entries in official records made in
the performance of his duty by a public officer of the
Philippines, or by a person in the performance of a duty
specially enjoined by law, are prima facie evidence of the
facts therein stated."
The trustworthiness of public documents and the value given to
the entries made therein could be grounded on 1) the sense of
official duty in the preparation of the statement made, 2) the
penalty which is usually affixed to a breach of that duty, 3) the
routine and disinterested origin of most such statements, and 4)
the publicity of record which makes more likely the prior exposure
of such errors as might have occurred.31
The death certificate of Lorenzo Pou would indicate that he died
on 11 September 1954, at the age of 84 years, in San Carlos,
19
Pangasinan. It could thus be assumed that Lorenzo Pou was born
sometime in the year 1870 when the Philippines was still a colony
of Spain. Petitioner would argue that Lorenzo Pou was not in the
Philippines during the crucial period of from 1898 to 1902
considering that there was no existing record about such fact in
the Records Management and Archives Office. Petitioner,
however, likewise failed to show that Lorenzo Pou was at any
other place during the same period. In his death certificate, the
residence of Lorenzo Pou was stated to be San Carlos, Pangasinan.
In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it should be sound
to conclude, or at least to presume, that the place of residence of
a person at the time of his death was also his residence before
death. It would be extremely doubtful if the Records Management
and Archives Office would have had complete records of all
residents of the Philippines from 1898 to 1902.
Proof of Paternity and Filiation
Under Civil Law.
Petitioner submits, in any case, that in establishing filiation
(relationship or civil status of the child to the father [or mother])
or paternity (relationship or civil status of the father to the child)
of an illegitimate child, FPJ evidently being an illegitimate son
according to petitioner, the mandatory rules under civil law must
be used.
Under the Civil Code of Spain, which was in force in the
Philippines from 08 December 1889 up until the day prior to 30
August 1950 when the Civil Code of the Philippines took effect,
acknowledgment was required to establish filiation or paternity.
Acknowledgment was either judicial (compulsory) or voluntary.
Judicial or compulsory acknowledgment was possible only if done
during the lifetime of the putative parent; voluntary
acknowledgment could only be had in a record of birth, a will, or a
public document.32 Complementary to the new code was Act No.

20
3753 or the Civil Registry Law expressing in Section 5 thereof, that
-
"In case of an illegitimate child, the birth certificate shall be
signed and sworn to jointly by the parents of the infant or
only by the mother if the father refuses. In the latter case, it
shall not be permissible to state or reveal in the document
the name of the father who refuses to acknowledge the child,
or to give therein any information by which such father could
be identified."
In order that the birth certificate could then be utilized to prove
voluntary acknowledgment of filiation or paternity, the certificate
was required to be signed or sworn to by the father. The failure of
such requirement rendered the same useless as being an
authoritative document of recognition.33 In Mendoza vs.
Mella,34 the Court ruled -
"Since Rodolfo was born in 1935, after the registry law was
enacted, the question here really is whether or not his birth
certificate (Exhibit 1), which is merely a certified copy of the
registry record, may be relied upon as sufficient proof of his
having been voluntarily recognized. No such reliance, in our
judgment, may be placed upon it. While it contains the
names of both parents, there is no showing that they signed
the original, let alone swore to its contents as required in
Section 5 of Act No. 3753. For all that might have happened,
it was not even they or either of them who furnished the data
to be entered in the civil register. Petitioners say that in any
event the birth certificate is in the nature of a public
document wherein voluntary recognition of a natural child
may also be made, according to the same Article 131. True
enough, but in such a case, there must be a clear statement
in the document that the parent recognizes the child as his or
her own."

21
In the birth certificate of respondent FPJ, presented by both
parties, nowhere in the document was the signature of Allan F.
Poe found. There being no will apparently executed, or at least
shown to have been executed, by decedent Allan F. Poe, the only
other proof of voluntary recognition remained to be "some other
public document." In Pareja vs. Pareja,35 this Court defined what
could constitute such a document as proof of voluntary
acknowledgment:
"Under the Spanish Civil Code there are two classes of public
documents, those executed by private individuals which must
be authenticated by notaries, and those issued by competent
public officials by reason of their office. The public document
pointed out in Article 131 as one of the means by which
recognition may be made belongs to the first class."
Let us leave it at that for the moment.
The 1950 Civil Code categorized the acknowledgment or
recognition of illegitimate children into voluntary, legal or
compulsory. Voluntary recognition was required to be expressedly
made in a record of birth, a will, a statement before a court of
record or in any authentic writing. Legal acknowledgment took
place in favor of full blood brothers and sisters of an illegitimate
child who was recognized or judicially declared as natural.
Compulsory acknowledgment could be demanded generally in
cases when the child had in his favor any evidence to prove
filiation. Unlike an action to claim legitimacy which would last
during the lifetime of the child, and might pass exceptionally to
the heirs of the child, an action to claim acknowledgment,
however, could only be brought during the lifetime of the
presumed parent.
Amicus Curiae Ruben F. Balane defined, during the oral argument,
"authentic writing," so as to be an authentic writing for purposes
of voluntary recognition, simply as being a genuine or indubitable
writing of the father. The term would include a public instrument
22
(one duly acknowledged before a notary public or other
competent official) or a private writing admitted by the father to
be his.
The Family Code has further liberalized the rules; Article 172,
Article 173, and Article 175 provide:
"Art. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by
any of the following:
"(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a
final judgment; or
"(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document
or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent
concerned.
"In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate
filiation shall be proved by:
"(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a
legitimate child; or
"(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and
special laws.
"Art. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be brought by
the child during his or her lifetime and shall be transmitted to
the heirs should the child die during minority or in a state of
insanity. In these cases, the heirs shall have a period of five
years within which to institute the action.
"The action already commenced by the child shall survive
notwithstanding the death of either or both of the parties.
"x x x xxx x x x.
"Art. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate
filiation in the same way and on the same, evidence as
legitimate children.
23
"The action must be brought within the same period specified
in Article 173, except when the action is based on the second
paragraph of Article 172, in which case the action may be
brought during the lifetime of the alleged parent."
The provisions of the Family Code are retroactively applied;
Article 256 of the code reads:
"Art. 256. This Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it
does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in
accordance with the Civil Code or other laws."
Thus, in Vda. de Sy-Quia vs. Court of Appeals,36 the Court has
ruled:
"We hold that whether Jose was a voluntarily recognized
natural child should be decided under Article 278 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines. Article 2260 of that Code provides
that 'the voluntary recognition of a natural child shall take
place according to this Code, even if the child was born
before the effectivity of this body of laws' or before August
30, 1950. Hence, Article 278 may be given retroactive effect."
It should be apparent that the growing trend to liberalize the
acknowledgment or recognition of illegitimate children is an
attempt to break away from the traditional idea of keeping well
apart legitimate and non-legitimate relationships within the
family in favor of the greater interest and welfare of the child. The
provisions are intended to merely govern the private and personal
affairs of the family. There is little, if any, to indicate that the
legitimate or illegitimate civil status of the individual would also
affect his political rights or, in general, his relationship to the
State. While, indeed, provisions on "citizenship" could be found in
the Civil Code, such provisions must be taken in the context of
private relations, the domain of civil law; particularly -

24
"Civil Law is that branch of law which has for its double
purpose the organization of the family and the regulation of
property. It has thus [been] defined as the mass of precepts
which determine and regulate the relations of assistance,
authority and obedience among members of a family, and
those which exist among members of a society for the
protection of private interests."37
In Yaez de Barnuevo vs. Fuster,38 the Court has held:
"In accordance with Article 9 of the Civil Code of Spain, x x x
the laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status,
condition and legal capacity of persons, govern Spaniards
although they reside in a foreign country; that, in
consequence, 'all questions of a civil nature, such as those
dealing with the validity or nullity of the matrimonial bond,
the domicile of the husband and wife, their support, as
between them, the separation of their properties, the rules
governing property, marital authority, division of conjugal
property, the classification of their property, legal causes for
divorce, the extent of the latter, the authority to decree it,
and, in general, the civil effects of marriage and divorce upon
the persons and properties of the spouses, are questions that
are governed exclusively by the national law of the husband
and wife."
The relevance of "citizenship" or "nationality" to Civil Law is best
exemplified in Article 15 of the Civil Code, stating that -
"Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status,
condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon
citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad" -
that explains the need to incorporate in the code a reiteration of
the Constitutional provisions on citizenship. Similarly, citizenship
is significant in civil relationships found in different parts of the
Civil Code,39 such as on successional rights and family
25
relations.40 In adoption, for instance, an adopted child would be
considered the child of his adoptive parents and accorded the
same rights as their legitimate child but such legal fiction
extended only to define his rights under civil law41 and not his
political status.
Civil law provisions point to an obvious bias against illegitimacy.
This discriminatory attitude may be traced to the Spanish family
and property laws, which, while defining proprietary and
successional rights of members of the family, provided
distinctions in the rights of legitimate and illegitimate children. In
the monarchial set-up of old Spain, the distribution and
inheritance of titles and wealth were strictly according to
bloodlines and the concern to keep these bloodlines
uncontaminated by foreign blood was paramount.
These distinctions between legitimacy and illegitimacy were
codified in the Spanish Civil Code, and the invidious discrimination
survived when the Spanish Civil Code became the primary source
of our own Civil Code. Such distinction, however, remains and
should remain only in the sphere of civil law and not unduly
impede or impinge on the domain of political law.
The proof of filiation or paternity for purposes of determining his
citizenship status should thus be deemed independent from and
not inextricably tied up with that prescribed for civil law purposes.
The Civil Code or Family Code provisions on proof of filiation or
paternity, although good law, do not have preclusive effects on
matters alien to personal and family relations. The ordinary rules
on evidence could well and should govern. For instance, the
matter about pedigree is not necessarily precluded from being
applicable by the Civil Code or Family Code provisions.
Section 39, Rule 130, of the Rules of Court provides -
"Act or Declaration about pedigree. The act or declaration of
a person deceased, or unable to testify, in respect to the
26
pedigree of another person related to him by birth or
marriage, may be received in evidence where it occurred
before the controversy, and the relationship between the
two persons is shown by evidence other than such act or
declaration. The word `pedigree includes relationship, family
genealogy, birth, marriage, death, the dates when and the
places where these facts occurred, and the names of the
relatives. It embraces also facts of family history intimately
connected with pedigree."
For the above rule to apply, it would be necessary that (a) the
declarant is already dead or unable to testify, (b) the pedigree of a
person must be at issue, (c) the declarant must be a relative of the
person whose pedigree is in question, (d) declaration must be
made before the controversy has occurred, and (e) the
relationship between the declarant and the person whose
pedigree is in question must be shown by evidence other than
such act or declaration.
Thus, the duly notarized declaration made by Ruby Kelley
Mangahas, sister of Bessie Kelley Poe submitted as Exhibit 20
before the COMELEC, might be accepted to prove the acts of Allan
F. Poe, recognizing his own paternal relationship with FPJ, i.e,
living together with Bessie Kelley and his children (including
respondent FPJ) in one house, and as one family -
"I, Ruby Kelley Mangahas, of legal age and sound mind,
presently residing in Stockton, California, U.S.A., after being
sworn in accordance with law do hereby declare that:
"1. I am the sister of the late Bessie Kelley Poe.
"2. Bessie Kelley Poe was the wife of Fernando Poe, Sr.
"3. Fernando and Bessie Poe had a son by the name of Ronald
Allan Poe, more popularly known in the Philippines as
`Fernando Poe, Jr., or `FPJ.

27
"4. Ronald Allan Poe `FPJ was born on August 20, 1939 at St.
Luke's Hospital, Magdalena Street, Manila.
"x x x xxx xxx
"7. Fernando Poe Sr., and my sister Bessie, met and became
engaged while they were students at the University of the
Philippines in 1936. I was also introduced to Fernando Poe,
Sr., by my sister that same year.
"8. Fernando Poe, Sr., and my sister Bessie had their first child
in 1938.
"9. Fernando Poe, Sr., my sister Bessie and their first three
children, Elizabeth, Ronald, Allan and Fernando II, and myself
lived together with our mother at our family's house on
Dakota St. (now Jorge Bocobo St.), Malate until the liberation
of Manila in 1945, except for some months between 1943-
1944.
"10. Fernando Poe, Sr., and my sister, Bessie, were blessed
with four (4) more children after Ronald Allan Poe.
"x x x xxx xxx
"18. I am executing this Declaration to attest to the fact that
my nephew, Ronald Allan Poe is a natural born Filipino, and
that he is the legitimate child of Fernando Poe, Sr.
"Done in City of Stockton, California, U.S.A., this 12th day of
January 2004.
Ruby Kelley Mangahas Declarant DNA Testing
In case proof of filiation or paternity would be unlikely to
satisfactorily establish or would be difficult to obtain, DNA testing,
which examines genetic codes obtained from body cells of the
illegitimate child and any physical residue of the long dead parent
could be resorted to. A positive match would clear up filiation or
28
paternity. In Tijing vs. Court of Appeals,42 this Court has
acknowledged the strong weight of DNA testing -
"Parentage will still be resolved using conventional methods
unless we adopt the modern and scientific ways available.
Fortunately, we have now the facility and expertise in using DNA
test for identification and parentage testing. The University of the
Philippines Natural Science Research Institute (UP-NSRI) DNA
Analysis Laboratory has now the capability to conduct DNA typing
using short tandem repeat (STR) analysis. The analysis is based on
the fact that the DNA of a child/person has two (2) copies, one
copy from the mother and the other from the father. The DNA
from the mother, the alleged father and the child are analyzed to
establish parentage. Of course, being a novel scientific technique,
the use of DNA test as evidence is still open to challenge.
Eventually, as the appropriate case comes, courts should not
hesitate to rule on the admissibility of DNA evidence. For it was
said, that courts should apply the results of science when
competently obtained in aid of situations presented, since to
reject said result is to deny progress."
Petitioners Argument For Jurisprudential Conclusiveness
Petitioner would have it that even if Allan F. Poe were a Filipino
citizen, he could not have transmitted his citizenship to
respondent FPJ, the latter being an illegitimate child. According to
petitioner, prior to his marriage to Bessie Kelley, Allan F. Poe, on
July 5, 1936, contracted marriage with a certain Paulita Gomez,
making his subsequent marriage to Bessie Kelley bigamous and
respondent FPJ an illegitimate child. The veracity of the supposed
certificate of marriage between Allan F. Poe and Paulita Gomez
could be most doubtful at best. But the documentary evidence
introduced by no less than respondent himself, consisting of a
birth certificate of respondent and a marriage certificate of his
parents showed that FPJ was born on 20 August 1939 to a Filipino
father and an American mother who were married to each other a
29
year later, or on 16 September 1940. Birth to unmarried parents
would make FPJ an illegitimate child. Petitioner contended that as
an illegitimate child, FPJ so followed the citizenship of his mother,
Bessie Kelley, an American citizen, basing his stand on the ruling
of this Court in Morano vs. Vivo,43 citing Chiongbian vs. de
Leo44 and Serra vs. Republic.45
On the above score, the disquisition made by amicus curiae
Joaquin G. Bernas, SJ, is most convincing; he states -
"We must analyze these cases and ask what the lis mota was
in each of them. If the pronouncement of the Court on jus
sanguinis was on the lis mota, the pronouncement would be
a decision constituting doctrine under the rule of stare
decisis. But if the pronouncement was irrelevant to the lis
mota, the pronouncement would not be a decision but a
mere obiter dictum which did not establish doctrine. I
therefore invite the Court to look closely into these cases.
"First, Morano vs. Vivo. The case was not about an
illegitimate child of a Filipino father. It was about a stepson of
a Filipino, a stepson who was the child of a Chinese mother
and a Chinese father. The issue was whether the stepson
followed the naturalization of the stepfather. Nothing about
jus sanguinis there. The stepson did not have the blood of the
naturalized stepfather.
"Second, Chiongbian vs. de Leon. This case was not about the
illegitimate son of a Filipino father. It was about a legitimate
son of a father who had become Filipino by election to public
office before the 1935 Constitution pursuant to Article IV,
Section 1(2) of the 1935 Constitution. No one was illegitimate
here.
"Third, Serra vs. Republic. The case was not about the
illegitimate son of a Filipino father. Serra was an illegitimate
child of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother. The issue was
30
whether one who was already a Filipino because of his
mother who still needed to be naturalized. There is nothing
there about invidious jus sanguinis.
"Finally, Paa vs. Chan.46 This is a more complicated case. The
case was about the citizenship of Quintin Chan who was the
son of Leoncio Chan. Quintin Chan claimed that his father,
Leoncio, was the illegitimate son of a Chinese father and a
Filipino mother. Quintin therefore argued that he got his
citizenship from Leoncio, his father. But the Supreme Court
said that there was no valid proof that Leoncio was in fact the
son of a Filipina mother. The Court therefore concluded that
Leoncio was not Filipino. If Leoncio was not Filipino, neither
was his son Quintin. Quintin therefore was not only not a
natural-born Filipino but was not even a Filipino.
"The Court should have stopped there. But instead it followed
with an obiter dictum. The Court said obiter that even if
Leoncio, Quintin's father, were Filipino, Quintin would not be
Filipino because Quintin was illegitimate. This statement
about Quintin, based on a contrary to fact assumption, was
absolutely unnecessary for the case. x x x It was obiter
dictum, pure and simple, simply repeating the obiter dictum
in Morano vs. Vivo.
"x x x xxx xxx
"Aside from the fact that such a pronouncement would have
no textual foundation in the Constitution, it would also
violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution not
once but twice. First, it would make an illegitimate distinction
between a legitimate child and an illegitimate child, and
second, it would make an illegitimate distinction between the
illegitimate child of a Filipino father and the illegitimate child
of a Filipino mother.

31
"The doctrine on constitutionally allowable distinctions was
established long ago by People vs. Cayat.47 I would grant that
the distinction between legitimate children and illegitimate
children rests on real differences. x x x But real differences
alone do not justify invidious distinction. Real differences may
justify distinction for one purpose but not for another
purpose.
"x x x What is the relevance of legitimacy or illegitimacy to
elective public service? What possible state interest can there
be for disqualifying an illegitimate child from becoming a
public officer. It was not the fault of the child that his parents
had illicit liaison. Why deprive the child of the fullness of
political rights for no fault of his own? To disqualify an
illegitimate child from holding an important public office is to
punish him for the indiscretion of his parents. There is neither
justice nor rationality in that. And if there is neither justice
nor rationality in the distinction, then the distinction
transgresses the equal protection clause and must be
reprobated."
The other amici curiae, Mr. Justice Vicente Mendoza (a former
member of this Court), Professor Ruben Balane and Dean Martin
Magallona, at bottom, have expressed similar views. The thesis of
petitioner, unfortunately hinging solely on pure obiter dicta,
should indeed fail.
Where jurisprudence regarded an illegitimate child as taking after
the citizenship of its mother, it did so for the benefit the child. It
was to ensure a Filipino nationality for the illegitimate child of an
alien father in line with the assumption that the mother had
custody, would exercise parental authority and had the duty to
support her illegitimate child. It was to help the child, not to
prejudice or discriminate against him.
The fact of the matter perhaps the most significant
consideration is that the 1935 Constitution, the fundamental
32
law prevailing on the day, month and year of birth of respondent
FPJ, can never be more explicit than it is. Providing neither
conditions nor distinctions, the Constitution states that among
the citizens of the Philippines are "those whose fathers are
citizens of the Philippines." There utterly is no cogent justification
to prescribe conditions or distinctions where there clearly are
none provided.
In Sum
(1) The Court, in the exercise of its power of judicial review,
possesses jurisdiction over the petition in G. R. No. 161824,
filed under Rule 64, in relation to Rule 65, of the Revised
Rules of Civil Procedure. G.R. No. 161824 assails the
resolution of the COMELEC for alleged grave abuse of
discretion in dismissing, for lack of merit, the petition in SPA
No. 04-003 which has prayed for the disqualification of
respondent FPJ from running for the position of President in
the 10th May 2004 national elections on the contention that
FPJ has committed material representation in his certificate
of candidacy by representing himself to be a natural-born
citizen of the Philippines.
(2) The Court must dismiss, for lack of jurisdiction and
prematurity, the petitions in G. R. No. 161434 and No.
161634 both having been directly elevated to this Court in
the latters capacity as the only tribunal to resolve a
presidential and vice-presidential election contest under the
Constitution. Evidently, the primary jurisdiction of the Court
can directly be invoked only after, not before, the elections
are held.
(3) In ascertaining, in G.R. No. 161824, whether grave abuse
of discretion has been committed by the COMELEC, it is
necessary to take on the matter of whether or not
respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen, which, in turn,
depended on whether or not the father of respondent, Allan
33
F. Poe, would have himself been a Filipino citizen and, in the
affirmative, whether or not the alleged illegitimacy of
respondent prevents him from taking after the Filipino
citizenship of his putative father. Any conclusion on the
Filipino citizenship of Lorenzo Pou could only be drawn from
the presumption that having died in 1954 at 84 years old,
Lorenzo would have been born sometime in the year 1870,
when the Philippines was under Spanish rule, and that San
Carlos, Pangasinan, his place of residence upon his death in
1954, in the absence of any other evidence, could have well
been his place of residence before death, such that Lorenzo
Pou would have benefited from the "en masse Filipinization"
that the Philippine Bill had effected in 1902. That citizenship
(of Lorenzo Pou), if acquired, would thereby extend to his
son, Allan F. Poe, father of respondent FPJ. The 1935
Constitution, during which regime respondent FPJ has seen
first light, confers citizenship to all persons whose fathers are
Filipino citizens regardless of whether such children are
legitimate or illegitimate.
(4) But while the totality of the evidence may not establish
conclusively that respondent FPJ is a natural-born citizen of
the Philippines, the evidence on hand still would
preponderate in his favor enough to hold that he cannot be
held guilty of having made a material misrepresentation in his
certificate of candidacy in violation of Section 78, in relation
to Section 74, of the Omnibus Election Code. Petitioner has
utterly failed to substantiate his case before the Court,
notwithstanding the ample opportunity given to the parties
to present their position and evidence, and to prove whether
or not there has been material misrepresentation, which, as
so ruled in Romualdez-Marcos vs. COMELEC,48 must not only
be material, but also deliberate and willful.
WHEREFORE, the Court RESOLVES to DISMISS

34
1. G. R. No. 161434, entitled "Maria Jeanette C. Tecson and
Felix B. Desiderio, Jr., Petitioners, versus Commission on
Elections, Ronald Allan Kelley Poe (a.k.a. "Fernando Poe, Jr.,)
and Victorino X. Fornier, Respondents," and G. R. No. 161634,
entitled "Zoilo Antonio Velez, Petitioner, versus Ronald Allan
Kelley Poe, a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr., Respondent," for want of
jurisdiction.
2. G. R. No. 161824, entitled "Victorino X. Fornier, Petitioner,
versus Hon. Commission on Elections and Ronald Allan Kelley
Poe, also known as Fernando Poe, Jr.," for failure to show
grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent
Commission on Elections in dismissing the petition in SPA No.
04-003.
No Costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., see separate opinion, concurring.
Puno, J., on leave but was allowed to vote; see separate opinion.
Panganiban, J., on official leave; allowed to vote but did not send
his vote on the matter.
Quisumbing, J., joins the dissent of Justices Tinga and Morales;
case should have been remanded.
Ynares-Santiago, J., concurs and also with J. Punos separate
opinion.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., concurs, please see separate opinion.
Carpio, J., see dissenting opinion.
Austria-Martinez, J., concurs, please see separate opinion.
Corona, J., joins the dissenting opinion of Justice Morales.
Carpio-Morales, J., see dissenting opinion.
Callejo, Sr., J., please see concurring opinion.
Azcuna, J., concurs in a separate opinion.
Tinga, J., dissents per separate opinion.

35
SEPARATE OPINION
DAVIDE, JR. C.J.:
The procedural and factual antecedents of these consolidated
cases are as follows:
On 9 January 2004, petitioner Victorino X. Fornier filed with public
respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) a petition to
disqualify private respondent Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ) and to deny
due course to or cancel his certificate of candidacy for the
position of President in the forthcoming 10 May 2004 presidential
elections. As a ground therefore, he averred that FPJ committed
falsity in a material representation in his certificate of candidacy
in declaring that he is a natural-born Filipino citizen when in truth
and in fact he is not, since he is the illegitimate son of Bessie
Kelley, an American citizen, and Allan Poe, a Spanish national. The
case was docketed as COMELEC Case SPA No. 04-003 and
assigned to the COMELECs First Division.
At the hearing before the First Division of the COMELEC,
petitioner Fornier offered FPJs record of birth to prove that FPJ
was born on 20 August 1939 to Bessie Kelley, an American citizen,
and Allan Poe, who was then married to Paulita Gomez. Upon the
other hand, FPJ tried to establish that his father was a Filipino
citizen whose parents, although Spanish nationals, were Filipino
citizens. He adduced in evidence a copy of the marriage contract
of Allan Poe and Bessie Kelley, showing that they were married on
16 September 1940 in Manila.
In its Resolution of 23 January 2004, the First Division of the
COMELEC dismissed COMELEC Case SPA No. 04-003 for lack of
merit. It declared that COMELECs jurisdiction is limited to all
matters relating to election, returns and qualifications of all
elective regional, provincial and city officials, but not those of
national officials like the President. It has, however, jurisdiction to
pass upon the issue of citizenship of national officials under
36
Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code on petitions to deny due
course or cancel certificates of candidacy on the ground that any
material representation contained therein is false. It found that
the evidence adduced by petitioner Fornier is not substantial, and
that FPJ did not commit any falsehood in material representation
when he stated in his certificate of candidacy that he is a natural-
born Filipino citizen.
His motion for reconsideration filed before the COMELEC en banc
having been denied, petitioner Fornier filed a petition with this
Court, which was docketed as G.R. No. 161824.
Meanwhile, petitioners Maria Jeanette C. Tecson and Felix B.
Desiderio, Jr. came to this Court via a special civil action for
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, docketed as G.R.
No. 161434, to challenge the jurisdiction of the COMELEC over the
issue of the citizenship of FPJ. They assert that only this Court has
jurisdiction over the issue in light of the last paragraph of Section
4 of Article VII of the Constitution, which provides:
The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all
contests relating to the election returns, and qualifications of the
President or Vice-President, and may promulgate its rules for the
purpose.
On 29 January 2004 petitioner Velez filed a similar petition, which
was docketed as G.R. No. 161634.
The core issues in these consolidated cases, as defined by the
Court during the oral argument, are as follows:
(1) Whether the COMELEC has jurisdiction over petitions to
deny due course to or cancel certificates of candidacy of
Presidential candidates;
(2) Whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the
petitions of (a) Tecson, et al., (b) Velez, and (c) Fornier; and

37
(3) Whether respondent FPJ is a Filipino citizen, and if so,
whether he is a natural-born Filipino citizen.
These consolidated petitions must be dismissed.
Both the petitions of Tecson and Velez invoke the jurisdiction of
this Court as provided for in the last paragraph of Section 4 of
Article VII of the Constitution, and raise the issue of the
ineligibility of a candidate for President on the ground that he is
not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. The actions
contemplated in the said provision of the Constitution are post-
election remedies, namely, regular election contests and quo
warranto. The petitioner should have, instead, resorted to pre-
election remedies, such as those prescribed in Section 68
(Disqualifications), in relation to Section 72; Section 69 (Nuisance
candidates); and Section 78 (Petition to deny course to or cancel a
certificate of candidacy), in relation to Section 74, of the Omnibus
Election Code, which are implemented in Rules 23, 24 and 25 of
the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. These pre-election remedies or
actions do not, however, fall within the original jurisdiction of this
Court.
Under the Omnibus Election Code and the COMELEC Rules of
Procedure, the COMELEC has the original jurisdiction to
determine in an appropriate proceeding whether a candidate for
an elective office is eligible for the office for which he filed his
certificate of candidacy or is disqualified to be a candidate or to
continue such candidacy because of any of the recognized
grounds for disqualification. Its jurisdiction over COMELEC SPA
No. 04-003 is, therefore, beyond question.
Upon the other hand, this Court has jurisdiction over Forniers
petition (G.R. No. 161824) under Section 7 of Article IX-A of the
Constitution, which provides:
Section 7. Each Commission shall decide by a majority vote of all
its Members any case or matter brought before it within sixty
38
days from the date of its submission for decision or resolution. A
case or matter is deemed submitted for decision or resolution
upon the filing of the last pleading, brief, or memorandum
required by the rules of the Commission or by the Commission
itself. Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law,
any decision, order, or ruling of each Commission may be brought
to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within
thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof.
This Court can also take cognizance of the issue of whether the
COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the challenged resolution in
COMELEC SPA No. 04-003 by virtue of Section 1 of Article VIII of
the Constitution, which reads as follows:
Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme
Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle
actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable
and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been
a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of nay branch or instrumentality of the
Government.
On the issue of whether private respondent FPJ is a natural-born
Filipino citizen, the following facts have been established by a
weighty preponderance of evidence either in the pleadings and
the documents attached thereto or from the admissions of the
parties, through their counsels, during the oral arguments:
1. FPJ was born on 20 August 1939 in Manila, Philippines.
2. FPJ was born to Allan Poe and Bessie Kelley.
3. Bessie Kelley and Allan Poe were married on 16 September
1940.

39
4. Allan Poe was a Filipino because his father, Lorenzo Poe,
albeit a Spanish subject, was not shown to have declared his
allegiance to Spain by virtue of the Treaty of Paris and the
Philippine Bill of 1902.
From the foregoing it is clear that respondent FPJ was born before
the marriage of his parents. Thus, pursuant to the Civil Code then
in force, he could either be (a) a natural child if both his parents
had no legal impediments to marry each other; or (b) an
illegitimate child if, indeed, Allan Poe was married to another
woman who was still alive at the time FPJ was born.
Petitioner Fornier never alleged that Allan Poe was not the father
of FPJ. By revolving his case around the illegitimacy of FPJ, Fornier
effectively conceded paternity or filiation as a non-issue. For
purposes of the citizenship of an illegitimate child whose father is
a Filipino and whose mother is an alien, proof of paternity or
filiation is enough for the child to follow the citizenship of his
putative father, as advanced by Fr. Joaquin Bernas, one of the
amici curiae. Since paternity or filiation is in fact admitted by
petitioner Fornier, the COMELEC committed no grave abuse of
discretion in holding that FPJ is a Filipino citizen, pursuant to
paragraph 3 of Section 1 of Article IV of the 1935 Constitution,
which reads:
Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:

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


I agree with the amici curiae that this provision makes no
distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children of Filipino
fathers. It is enough that filiation is established or that the child is
acknowledged or recognized by the father.
DISSENTING OPINION

40
CARPIO, J.:
I dissent from the majority opinion.
The Antecedent Proceedings
Petitioner Fornier filed before the Commission on Elections
("Comelec") a "Petition for Disqualification of Presidential
Candidate Ronald Allan Kelley Poe a.k.a. Fernando Poe, Jr." on the
ground that Fernando Poe, Jr. ("FPJ") is not a natural-born
Philippine citizen. The Comelec First Division dismissed the
petition, ruling that petitioner failed to present substantial
evidence that FPJ committed "any material misrepresentation
when he stated in his Certificate of Candidacy that he is a natural-
born citizen." On motion for reconsideration, the Comelec En
Banc affirmed the ruling of the First Division. Petitioner Fornier
now assails the Comelec En Banc resolution under Rule 64 in
relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
The Undisputed Facts
The undisputed facts are based on two documents and the
admission of FPJ. The first document is the Birth Certificate of FPJ,
showing he was born on 20 August 1939. The Birth Certificate is
an evidence of FPJ.[1] The second document is the Marriage
Certificate of Allan F. Poe and Bessie Kelley, showing that their
marriage took place on 16 September 1940. The Marriage
Certificate is also an evidence of FPJ.[2] Moreover, FPJ admits that
his mother Bessie Kelley was an American citizen.[3]
Based on these two documents and admission, the undisputed
facts are: (1) FPJ was born out of wedlock and therefore
illegitimate,[4] and (2) the mother of FPJ was an American citizen.
The Issues
The issues raised in Forniers petition are:

41
(a) Whether the Court has jurisdiction over the petition to
disqualify FPJ as a candidate for President on the ground that
FPJ is not a natural-born Philippine citizen;
(b) Whether FPJ is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.
Jurisdiction
The Comelec has jurisdiction to determine initially the
qualifications of all candidates. Under Section 2(1), Article IX-C of
the Constitution, the Comelec has the power and function to
"[E]nforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the
conduct of an election." The initial determination of who are
qualified to file certificates of candidacies with the Comelec
clearly falls within this all-encompassing constitutional mandate
of the Comelec. The conduct of an election necessarily includes
the initial determination of who are qualified under existing laws
to run for public office in an election. Otherwise, the Comelecs
certified list of candidates will be cluttered with unqualified
candidates making the conduct of elections unmanageable. For
this reason, the Comelec weeds out every presidential election
dozens of candidates for president who are deemed nuisance
candidates by the Comelec.[5]
Section 2(3), Article IX-C of the Constitution also empowers the
Comelec to "[D]ecide, except those involving the right to vote, all
questions affecting elections x x x." The power to decide "all
questions affecting elections" necessarily includes the power to
decide whether a candidate possesses the qualifications required
by law for election to public office. This broad constitutional
power and function vested in the Comelec is designed precisely to
avoid any situation where a dispute affecting elections is left
without any legal remedy. If one who is obviously not a natural-
born Philippine citizen, like Arnold Schwarzenneger, runs for
President, the Comelec is certainly not powerless to cancel the
certificate of candidacy of such candidate. There is no need to

42
wait until after the elections before such candidate may be
disqualified.
Under Rule 25 on "Disqualification of Candidates" of the Comelec
Rules of Procedure, a voter may question before the Comelec the
qualifications of any candidate for public office. Thus, Rule 25
provides:
Section 1. Grounds for Disqualification. Any candidate who
does not possess all the qualifications of a candidate as provided
for by the Constitution or by existing law or who commits any act
declared by law to be grounds for disqualification may be
disqualified from continuing as a candidate.
Section 2. Who May File Petition for Disqualification. Any
citizen of voting age, or duly registered political party,
organization or coalition of political parties may file with the Law
Department of the Commission a petition to disqualify a
candidate on grounds provided by law. (Emphasis supplied)
The Comelec adopted its Rules of Procedure pursuant to its
constitutional power to promulgate its own rules of procedure[6]
to expedite the disposition of cases or controversies falling within
its jurisdiction.
The Comelec has ruled upon the qualifications of candidates, even
if the Constitution provides that some other body shall be the
"sole judge" of the qualifications of the holders of the public
offices involved. The Court has upheld the jurisdiction of Comelec
to issue such rulings,[7] even when the issue is the citizenship of a
candidate.[8] Thus, the Comelec has jurisdiction to determine
initially if FPJ meets the citizenship qualification to run for
President.
However, the Comelec En Banc, in its scanty resolution, failed to
state the factual bases of its ruling. The Comelec En Banc also
failed to rule conclusively on the issue presented whether FPJ is

43
a natural-born Philippine citizen. The Comelec En Banc affirmed
the First Division ruling that "[W]e feel we are not at liberty to
finally declare whether or not the respondent is a natural-born
citizen." In short, the Comelec En Banc allowed a candidate for
President to run in the coming elections without being convinced
that the candidate is a natural-born Philippine citizen. Clearly, the
Comelec En Banc acted with grave abuse of discretion. Under
Section 1, Article VIII, as well as Section 5, Article VIII, of the
Constitution, the Court has jurisdiction to hear and decide the
issue in a petition for certiorari under Rule 64 in relation to Rule
65.
To hold that the Court acquires jurisdiction to determine the
qualification of a candidate for President only after the elections
would lead to an absurd situation. The Court would have to wait
for an alien to be elected on election day before he could be
disqualified to run for President. If the case is not decided
immediately after the election, an alien who wins the election
may even assume office as President before he is finally
disqualified. Certainly, this is not what the Constitution says when
it provides that "[N]o person may be elected President unless he
is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines."[9] The clear and
specific language of the Constitution prohibits the election of one
who is not a natural-born citizen. Thus, the issue of whether a
candidate for President is a natural-born Philippine citizen must
be decided before the election.
Governing Laws
Since FPJ was born on 20 August 1939, his citizenship at the time
of his birth depends on the Constitution and statutes in force at
the time of his birth.[10] FPJs citizenship at the time of his birth in
1939, applying the laws in force in 1939, determines whether he is
a natural-born Philippine citizen.
Natural-born Philippine citizens are "those who are citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to
44
acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship."[11] If a person has
to perform an act, such as proving in an administrative or judicial
proceeding, that an event subsequent to his birth transpired thus
entitling him to Philippine citizenship, such person is not a natural
born citizen.[12]
The 1935 Constitution and the Spanish Civil Code, the laws in
force in 1939, are the governing laws that determine whether a
person born in 1939 is a Philippine citizen at the time of his birth
in 1939. Any subsequent legislation cannot change the citizenship
at birth of a person born in 1939 because such legislation would
violate the constitutional definition of a natural-born citizen as
one who is a Philippine citizen from birth. In short, one who is not
a Philippine citizen at birth in 1939 cannot be declared by
subsequent legislation a natural-born citizen.
General Principles
A legitimate child of a Filipino father follows the citizenship of the
father. A child born within wedlock is presumed to be the son of
the father[13] and thus carries the blood of the father. Under the
doctrine of jus sanguinis, as provided for in Section 1(3), Article III
of the 1935 Constitution, a legitimate child, by the fact of
legitimacy, automatically follows the citizenship of the Filipino
father.
An illegitimate child, however, enjoys no presumption at birth of
blood relation to any father unless the father acknowledges the
child at birth.[14] The law has always required that "in all cases of
illegitimate children, their filiation must be duly proved."[15] The
only legally known parent of an illegitimate child, by the fact of
illegitimacy, is the mother of the child who conclusively carries the
blood of the mother. Thus, unless the father acknowledges the
illegitimate child at birth, the illegitimate child can only acquire
the citizenship of the only legally known parent - the mother.

45
However, if the Filipino father is legally known because the
filiation (blood relation of illegitimate child to the father) of the
child to the Filipino father is established in accordance with law,
the child follows the citizenship of the Filipino father. This gives
effect, without discrimination between legitimate and illegitimate
children, to the provision of the 1935 Constitution that "[T]hose
whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines"[16] are Philippine
citizens.
Nature of Citizenship
If the Filipino father acknowledges the illegitimate child at birth,
the child is a natural-born Philippine citizen because no other act
after his birth is required to acquire or perfect his Philippine
citizenship. The child possesses all the qualifications to be a
Philippine citizen at birth.
If the Filipino father acknowledges the child after birth, the child is
a Philippine citizen as of the time of the acknowledgment. In this
case, the child does not possess all the qualifications to be a
Philippine citizen at birth because an act - the acknowledgement
of the Filipino father - is required for the child to acquire or
perfect his Philippine citizenship. Statutory provisions on
retroactivity of acknowledgment cannot be given effect because
they would be contrary to the constitutional definition of natural-
born citizens as those who are Philippine citizens at birth without
having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine
citizenship.
If the illegitimacy of a child is established, there is no presumption
that the child has the blood of any man who is supposed to be the
father. There is only a conclusive presumption that the child has
the blood of the mother. If an illegitimate child claims to have the
blood of a man who is supposed to be the childs father, such
blood relation must be established in accordance with proof of
filiation as required by law.

46
Where the illegitimate child of an alien mother claims to follow
the citizenship of the putative father, the burden is on the
illegitimate child to establish a blood relation to the putative
Filipino father since there is no presumption that an illegitimate
child has the blood of the putative father. Even if the putative
father admits paternity after the birth of the illegitimate child,
there must be an administrative or judicial approval that such
blood relation exists upon proof of paternity as required by law.
Citizenship, being a matter of public and State interest, cannot be
conferred on an illegitimate child of an alien mother on the mere
say so of the putative Filipino father. The State has a right to
examine the veracity of the claim of paternity. Otherwise, the
grant of Philippine citizenship to an illegitimate child of an alien
mother is left to the sole discretion of the putative Filipino father.
For example, a Philippine citizen of Chinese descent can simply
claim that he has several illegitimate children in China. The State
cannot be required to grant Philippine passports to these
supposed illegitimate children born in China of Chinese mothers
just because the putative Filipino father acknowledges paternity
of these illegitimate children. There must be either an
administrative or judicial determination that the claim of the
putative Filipino father is true.
The case of the illegitimate Vietnamese children, born in Vietnam
of Vietnamese mothers and allegedly of Filipino fathers, is
illustrative. These children grew up in Vietnam, many of them
studying there until high school. These children grew up knowing
they were Vietnamese citizens. In 1975, a Philippine Navy vessel
brought them, together with their Vietnamese mothers, to the
Philippines as Saigon fell to the communists. The mothers of these
children became stateless when the Republic of (South) Vietnam
ceased to exist in 1975. The Department of Justice rendered
Opinion No. 49 dated 3 May 1995 that being children of Filipino
fathers, these Vietnamese children, even if illegitimate, are
Philippine citizens under Section 1(3), Article IV of the 1935
47
Constitution and Section 1(2), Article III of the 1973 Constitution.
This Opinion is cited by FPJ as basis for his claim of being a
natural-born Philippine citizen.[17] However, this Opinion
categorically stated that before the illegitimate Vietnamese
children may be considered Filipino citizens "it is necessary in
every case referred to that such paternity be established by
sufficient and convincing documentary evidence."[18]
In short, the illegitimate child must prove to the proper
administrative or judicial authority the paternity of the alleged
Filipino father by "sufficient and convincing documentary
evidence." Clearly, an administrative or judicial act is necessary to
confer on the illegitimate Vietnamese children Philippine
citizenship. The mere claim of the illegitimate child of filiation to a
Filipino father, or the mere acknowledgment of the alleged
Filipino father, does not automatically confer Philippine
citizenship on the child. The State must be convinced of the
veracity of such claim and approve the same. Since the
illegitimate Vietnamese children need to perform an act to
acquire or perfect Philippine citizenship, they are not natural-born
Philippine citizens. They become Philippine citizens only from the
moment the proper administrative or judicial authority approve
and recognize their filiation to their alleged Filipino fathers.
The rationale behind requiring that only natural-born citizens may
hold certain high public offices[19] is to insure that the holders of
these high public offices grew up knowing they were at birth
citizens of the Philippines. In their formative years they knew they
owed from birth their allegiance to the Philippines. In case any
other country claims their allegiance, they would be faithful and
loyal to the Philippines of which they were citizens from birth.
This is particularly true to the President who is the commander-in-
chief of the armed forces.[20] The President of the Philippines
must owe, from birth, allegiance to the Philippines and must have
grown up knowing that he was a citizen of the Philippines at birth.
The constitutional definition of a natural-born Philippine citizen
48
would lose its meaning and efficacy if one who was at birth
recognized by law as an alien were declared forty years later[21] a
natural-born Philippine citizen just because his alleged Filipino
father subsequently admitted his paternity.
Proof of Filiation
Article 131[22] of the Spanish Civil Code, the law in force in 1939,
recognized only the following as proof of filiation of a natural
child:
a. acknowledgment in a record of birth;
b. acknowledgment in a will;
c. acknowledgment in some other public document.
To establish his Philippine citizenship at birth, FPJ must present
either an acknowledgement in a record of birth, or an
acknowledgment in some other public document executed at the
time of his birth. An acknowledgment executed after birth does
not make one a citizen at birth but a citizen from the time of such
acknowledgment since the acknowledgment is an act done after
birth to acquire or perfect Philippine citizenship.
After the birth of one who is not a natural-born Philippine citizen,
a subsequent legislation liberalizing proof of filiation cannot apply
to such person to make him a natural-born citizen. A natural-born
Philippine citizen is expressly defined in the Constitution as one
who is a citizen at birth. If a person is not a citizen at birth, no
subsequent legislation can retroactively declare him a citizen at
birth since it would violate the constitutional definition of a
natural-born citizen.
Burden of Proof
Any person who claims to be a citizen of the Philippines has the
burden of proving his Philippine citizenship. Any person who
claims to be qualified to run for President because he is, among
49
others, a natural-born Philippine citizen, has the burden of
proving he is a natural-born citizen. Any doubt whether or not he
is natural-born citizen is resolved against him. The constitutional
requirement of a natural-born citizen, being an express
qualification for election as President, must be complied with
strictly as defined in the Constitution. As the Court ruled in Paa v.
Chan: [23]
It is incumbent upon a person who claims Philippine citizenship to
prove to the satisfaction of the Court that he is really a Filipino.
No presumption can be indulged in favor of the claimant of
Philippine citizenship, and any doubt regarding citizenship must
be resolved in favor of the State.
Since the undisputed facts show that FPJ is an illegitimate child,
having been born out of wedlock, the burden is on FPJ to prove
his blood relation to his alleged Filipino father. An illegitimate
child enjoys no presumption of blood relation to any father. Such
blood relationship must be established in the appropriate
proceedings in accordance with law.
Private party litigants cannot stipulate on the Philippine
citizenship of a person because citizenship is not a private right or
property, but a matter of public and State interest. Even if
petitioner Fornier admits that FPJ, although illegitimate, is the son
of Allan F. Poe, such admission cannot bind the State for the
purpose of conferring on FPJ the status of a natural-born
Philippine citizen or even of a naturalized citizen. Certainly, the
Court will not recognize a person as a natural-born Philippine
citizen just because the private party litigants have admitted or
stipulated on such a status. In the present case, the Solicitor
General, as representative of the Government, is strongly
disputing the status of FPJ as a natural-born Philippine citizen.
Legitimation

50
Under Article 123[24] of the Spanish Civil Code, legitimation took
effect as of the date of marriage. There was no retroactivity of the
effects of legitimation on the rights of the legitimated child. Thus,
a legitimated child acquired the rights of a legitimate child only as
of the date of marriage of the natural parents. Allan F. Poe and
Bessie Kelley were married on 16 September 1940 while FPJ was
born more than one year earlier on 20 August 1939. Assuming
that Allan F. Poe was FPJs natural father, the effects of
legitimation did not retroact to the birth of FPJ on 20 August
1939.
Besides, legitimation vests only civil, not political rights, to the
legitimated child. As the Court held in Ching Leng:[25]
The framers of the Civil Code had no intention whatsoever to
regulate therein political questions. Hence, apart from
reproducing the provisions of the Constitution on citizenship, the
Code contains no precept thereon except that which refers all
matters of "naturalization", as well as those related to the "loss
and reacquisition of citizenship" to "special laws." Consistently
with this policy, our Civil Code does not include therein any rule
analogous to Articles 18 to 28 of the Civil Code of Spain,
regulating citizenship. (Underscoring in the original)
Clearly, even assuming that the marriage of Allan F. Poe and
Bessie Kelley legitimated FPJ, such legitimation did not vest
retroactively any civil or political rights to FPJ.
Treaty of Paris of 1898 and Philippine Bill of 1902
FPJ admits that his grandfather, Lorenzo Pou, was a Spanish
citizen who came to the Philippines from Spain.[26] To benefit
from the mass naturalization under the Treaty of Paris of 1898
and the Philippine Bill of 1902, FPJ must prove that Lorenzo Pou
was an inhabitant and resident of the Philippines on 11 April
1899. Once it is established that Lorenzo Pou was an inhabitant
and resident of the Philippines on 11 April 1899, then he is
51
presumed to have acquired Philippine citizenship under the
Treaty of Paris of 1898 and the Philippine Bill of 1902.[27] Being
an inhabitant and resident of the Philippines on 11 April 1899 is
the determinative fact to fall under the coverage of the Treaty of
Paris of 1898 and the Philippine Bill of 1902.[28]
There is, however, no evidence on record that Lorenzo Pou was a
Philippine inhabitant and resident on 11 April 1899. The date of
arrival of Lorenzo Pou in the Philippines is not known. If he arrived
in the Philippines after 11 April 1899, then he could not benefit
from the mass naturalization under the Treaty of Paris of 1898
and the Philippine Bill of 1902. There is also no evidence that
Lorenzo Pou was naturalized as a Philippine citizen after 11 April
1899. Thus, there can be no presumption that Lorenzo Pou was a
Philippine citizen.
There is also no evidence on record that Allan F. Poe, the son of
Lorenzo Pou and the alleged father of FPJ, was naturalized as a
Philippine citizen. Thus, based on the evidence adduced there is
no legal basis for claiming that Allan F. Poe is a Philippine citizen.
Nevertheless, there is no need to delve further into this issue
since the Court can decide this case without determining the
citizenship of Lorenzo Pou and Allan F. Poe. Whether or not
Lorenzo Pou and Allan F. Poe were Philippine citizens is not
material in resolving whether FPJ is a natural-born Philippine
citizen.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Philippines signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child
on 26 January 1990 and ratified the same on 21 August 1990. The
Convention defines a child to mean "every human being below
the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the
child, majority is attained earlier." Obviously, FPJ cannot invoke
the Convention since he is not a child as defined in the
Convention, and he was born half a century before the
Convention came into existence. FPJs citizenship at birth in 1939
52
could not in any way be affected by the Convention which
entered into force only on 2 September 1990.
The Convention has the status of a municipal law[29] and its
ratification by the Philippines could not have amended the
express requirement in the Constitution that only natural-born
citizens of Philippines are qualified to be President. While the
Constitution apparently favors natural-born citizens over those
who are not, that is the explicit requirement of the Constitution
which neither the Executive Department nor the Legislature, in
ratifying a treaty, could amend. In short, the Convention cannot
amend the definition in the Constitution that natural-born citizens
are "those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without
having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine
citizenship."
In any event, the Convention guarantees a child "the right to
acquire a nationality,"[30] and requires States Parties to "ensure
the implementation" of this right, "in particular where the child
would otherwise be stateless."[31] Thus, as far as nationality or
citizenship is concerned, the Convention guarantees the right of
the child to acquire a nationality so that he may not be stateless.
The Convention does not guarantee a child a citizenship at birth,
but merely "the right to acquire a nationality" in accordance with
municipal law. When FPJ was born in 1939, he was apparently
under United States law an American citizen at birth.[32] After his
birth FPJ also had the right to acquire Philippine citizenship by
proving his filiation to his alleged Filipino father in accordance
with Philippine law. At no point in time was FPJ in danger of being
stateless. Clearly, FPJ cannot invoke the Convention to claim he is
a natural-born Philippine citizen.
The Doctrine in Ching Leng v. Galang
The prevailing doctrine today is that an illegitimate child of a
Filipino father and an alien mother follows the citizenship of the
alien mother as the only legally known parent. The illegitimate
53
child, even if acknowledged and legally adopted by the Filipino
father, cannot acquire the citizenship of the father. The Court
made this definitive doctrinal ruling in Ching Leng v. Galang,[33]
which involved the illegitimate minor children of a naturalized
Filipino of Chinese descent with a Chinese woman, Sy An. The
illegitimate children were later on jointly adopted by the
naturalized Filipino and his legal wife, So Buan Ty.
The facts in Ching Leng as quoted by the Court from the trial
courts decision are as follows:
After the petitioner Ching Leng Alias Ching Ban Lee obtained
judgment in this Court dated May 2, 1950 granting his petition for
naturalization, he together with his wife So Buan Ty filed another
petition also in this Court in Special Proc. No. 1216 for the
adoption of Ching Tiong Seng, Ching Liong Ding, Victoria Ching
Liong Yam, Sydney Ching and Ching Tiong An, all minors and
admittedly the illegitimate children of petitioner
Ching/////////////////// Leng with one Sy An, a Chinese citizen.
Finding the petition for adoption proper, this Court granted the
same in a decision dated September 12, 1950, declaring the said
minors free from all legal obligations of obedience and
maintenance with respect to their mother Sy An and to all legal
intents and purposes the children of the adopter Ching Leng alias
Ching Ban Lee and So Buan Ty with all the legal rights and
obligations provided by law.
On September 29, 1955, Ching Leng took his oath of allegiance
and became therefore a full pledge (sic) Filipino citizen. Believing
now that his adopted illegitimate children became Filipino citizens
by virtue of his naturalization, petitioner Ching Leng addressed a
communication to the respondent Commissioner of Immigration
requesting that the alien certificate of registration of the said
minors be cancelled. (Bold underscoring supplied)
In Ching Leng, the Court made a definitive ruling on the meaning
of "minor child or children" in Section 15 of the Naturalization
54
Law,[34] as well as the meaning of children "whose parents are
citizens of the Philippines" under the Constitution. The Court
categorically ruled that these children refer to legitimate children
only, and not to illegitimate children. Thus, the Court held:
It is claimed that the phrases "minor children" and "minor child",
used in these provisions, include adopted children. The argument
is predicated upon the theory that an adopted child is, for all
intents and purposes, a legitimate child. Whenever, the word
"children" or "child" is used in statutes, it is generally understood,
however, to refer to legitimate children, unless the context of the
law and its spirit indicate clearly the contrary. Thus, for instance,
when the Constitution provides that "those whose parents are
citizens of the Philippines, "and "those whose mothers are citizens
of the Philippines," who shall elect Philippine citizenship "upon
reaching the age of majority", are citizens of the Philippines
(Article IV, Section 1, subdivisions 3 and 4), our fundamental law
clearly refers to legitimate children (Chiong Bian vs. De Leon, 46
Off. Gaz., 3652-3654; Serra v. Republic, L-4223, May 12, 1952).
Similarly, the children alluded to in said section 15 are those
begotten in lawful wedlock, when the adopter, at least is the
father. In fact, illegitimate children are under the parental
authority of the mother and follow her nationality, not that of the
illegitimate father (U.S. vs. Ong Tianse, 29 Phil. 332, 335-336;
Santos Co vs. Govt of the Philippines, 52 Phil. 543, 544; Serra v.
Republic, supra; Gallofin v. Ordoez, 70 Phil. 287; Quimsuan vs.
Republic, L-4693, Feb. 16, 1953). Although, adoption gives "to the
adopted person the same rights and duties as if he were a
legitimate child of the adopter", pursuant to said Article 341 of
our Civil Code, we have already seen that the rights therein
alluded to are merely those enumerated in Article 264, and do not
include the acquisition of the nationality of the adopter.
Moreover, as used in said section 15 of the Naturalization Law,
the term "children" could not possibly refer to those whose
55
relation to the naturalized person is one created by legal fiction,
as, for instance, by adoption, for, otherwise, the place and time of
birth of the child would be immaterial. The fact that the adopted
persons involved in the case at bar are illegitimate children of
appellant Ching Leng does not affect substantially the legal
situation before us, for, by legal fiction, they are now being sought
to be given the status of legitimate children of said appellant,
despite the circumstance that the Civil Code of the Philippine does
not permit their legitimation. (Bold underscoring supplied)
Ching Leng, penned by Justice Roberto Concepcion in October
1958, was a unanimous decision of the Court En Banc. Subsequent
Court decisions, including Paa v. Chan[35] and Morano et al. v.
Vivo,[36] have cited the doctrine laid down in Ching Leng that the
provision in the 1935 Constitution stating "those whose fathers
are citizens of the Philippines" refers only to legitimate children.
When the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions were drafted, the framers
did not attempt to change the intent of this provision, even as
they were presumably aware of the Ching Leng doctrine.
Nevertheless, I believe that it is now time to abandon the Ching
Leng doctrine. The inexorable direction of the law, both
international and domestic in the last 100 years, is to eliminate all
forms of discrimination between legitimate and illegitimate
children. Where the Constitution does not distinguish between
legitimate and illegitimate children, we should not also
distinguish, especially when private rights are not involved as in
questions of citizenship. Abandoning the Ching Leng doctrine
upholds the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
Abandoning the Ching Leng doctrine is also in compliance with
our treaty obligation under the Covenant on the Rights of Children
mandating States Parties to eliminate all forms of discrimination
based on the status of children, save of course those distinctions
prescribed in the Constitution itself like the reservation of certain
high public offices to natural-born citizens.

56
Abandoning the Ching Leng doctrine does not mean, however,
that an illegitimate child of a Filipino father and an alien mother
automatically becomes a Philippine citizen at birth. We have
repeatedly ruled that an illegitimate child does not enjoy any
presumption of blood relation to the alleged father until filiation
or blood relation is proved as provided by law.[37] Article 887 of
the Civil Code expressly provides that "[I]n all cases of illegitimate
children, their filiation must be duly proved." The illegitimate child
becomes a Philippine citizen only from the time he establishes his
blood relation to the Filipino father. If the blood relation is
established after the birth of the illegitimate child, then the child
is not a natural-born Philippine citizen since an act is required
after birth to acquire or perfect his Philippine citizenship.
Conclusion
In conclusion, private respondent Fernando Poe, Jr. is not a
natural-born Philippine citizen since there is no showing that his
alleged Filipino father Allan F. Poe acknowledged him at birth. The
Constitution defines a natural-born citizen as a Philippine citizen
"from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or
perfect" his Philippine citizenship. Private respondent Fernando
Poe, Jr. does not meet this citizenship qualification.
Therefore, I vote to grant the petition of Victorino X. Fornier.
However, I vote to dismiss the petitions of Maria Jeanette C.
Tecson, Felix B. Desiderio, Jr. and Zoilo Antonio Velez on the
ground that their direct petitions invoking the jurisdiction of the
Court under Section 4, paragraph 7, Article VII of the Constitution
are premature, there being no election contest in this case.

57
MO YA LIM YAO VS COMMISION OF IMMIGRATION
G.R. No. L-21289 October 4, 1971
MOY YA LIM YAO alias EDILBERTO AGUINALDO LIM and LAU
YUEN YEUNG, petitioners-appellants,
vs.
THE COMMISSIONER OF IMMIGRATION, respondent-appellee.
Aruego, Mamaril & Associates for petitioners-appellants.
Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor
General Frine' C. Zaballero and Solicitor Sumilang V. Bernardo for
respondent-appellee.

BARREDO, J.:
Appeal from the following decision of the Court of First Instance
of Manila in its Civil Case No. 49705 entitled Moy Ya Lim Yao, etc.,
et al. vs. The Commissioner of Immigration which, brief as it is,
sufficiently depicts the factual setting of and the fundamental
issues involved in this case thus:
In the instant case, petitioners seek the issuance of a writ
of injunction against the Commissioner of Immigration,
"restraining the latter and/or his authorized
representative from ordering plaintiff Lau Yuen Yeung to
leave the Philippines and causing her arrest and
deportation and the confiscation of her bond, upon her
failure to do so."
The prayer for preliminary injunction embodied in the
complaint, having been denied, the case was heard on
the merits and the parties submitted their respective
evidence.
The facts of the case, as substantially and correctly stated
by the Solicitor General are these:
58
On February 8, 1961, Lau Yuen Yeung applied
for a passport visa to enter the Philippines as a
non-immigrant. In the interrogation made in
connection with her application for a temporary
visitor's visa to enter the Philippines, she stated
that she was a Chinese residing at Kowloon,
Hongkong, and that she desired to take a
pleasure trip to the Philippines to visit her great
(grand) uncle Lau Ching Ping for a period of one
month (Exhibits "l," "1-a," and "2"). She was
permitted to come into the Philippines on
March 13, 1961, and was permitted to stay for a
period of one month which would expire on
April 13, 1961. On the date of her arrival, Asher
Y, Cheng filed a bond in the amount of
P1,000.00 to undertake, among others that said
Lau Yuen Yeung would actually depart from the
Philippines on or before the expiration of her
authorized period of stay in this country or
within the period as in his discretion the
Commissioner of Immigration or his authorized
representative might properly allow. After
repeated extensions, petitioner Lau Yuen Yeung
was allowed to stay in the Philippines up to
February 13, 1962 (Exhibit "4"). On January 25,
1962, she contracted marriage with Moy Ya Lim
Yao alias Edilberto Aguinaldo Lim an alleged
Filipino citizen. Because of the contemplated
action of respondent to confiscate her bond and
order her arrest and immediate deportation,
after the expiration of her authorized stay, she
brought this action for injunction with
preliminary injunction. At the hearing which
took place one and a half years after her arrival,
it was admitted that petitioner Lau Yuen Yeung
59
could not write either English or Tagalog. Except
for a few words, she could not speak either
English or Tagalog. She could not name any
Filipino neighbor, with a Filipino name except
one, Rosa. She did not know the names of her
brothers-in-law, or sisters-in-law.
Under the facts unfolded above, the Court is of the
considered opinion, and so holds, that the instant
petition for injunction cannot be sustained for the same
reason as set forth in the Order of this Court, dated
March 19, 1962, the pertinent portions of which read:
First, Section 15 of the Revised Naturalization Law
provides:
Effect of the naturalization on wife and children.
Any woman who is now or may hereafter be
married to a citizen of the Philippines, and who
might herself be lawfully naturalized shall be
deemed a citizen of the Philippines.
The above-quoted provision is clear and its import
unequivocal and hence it should be held to mean what it
plainly and explicitly expresses in unmistakable terms.
The clause "who might herself be lawfully naturalized"
incontestably implies that an alien woman may be
deemed a citizen of the Philippines by virtue of her
marriage to a Filipino citizen only if she possesses all the
qualifications and none of the disqualifications specified
in the law, because these are the explicit requisites
provided by law for an alien to be naturalized. (Lee Suan
Ay, Alberto Tan and Lee Chiao vs. Emilio Galang, etc., G.
R. No. L-11855). However, from the allegation of
paragraph 3 of the complaint, to wit:

60
3. That plaintiff Lau Yuen Yeung, Chinese by
birth, who might herself be lawfully naturalized
as a Filipino citizen (not being disqualified to
become such by naturalization), is a Filipino
citizen by virtue of her marriage on January 25,
1962 to plaintiff MOY YA LIM YAO alias
EDILBERTO AGUINALDO LIM, under the
Naturalization Laws of the Philippines.
it can be deduced beyond debate that petitioner Lau
Yuen Yeung while claiming not to be disqualified, does
not and cannot allege that she possesses all the
qualifications to be naturalized, naturally because, having
been admitted as a temporary visitor only on March 13,
1961, it is obvious at once that she lacks at least, the
requisite length of residence in the Philippines (Revised
Naturalization Law, Sec. 2, Case No. 2, Sec. 3, Case No. 3).
Were if the intention of the law that the alien
woman, to be deemed a citizen of the
Philippines by virtue of marriage to a Filipino
citizen, need only be not disqualified under the
Naturalization Law, it would have been worded
"and who herself is not disqualified to become a
citizen of the Philippines."
Second, Lau Yuen Yeung, a temporary Chinese woman
visitor, whose authorized stay in the Philippines, after
repeated extensions thereof, was to expire last February
28, 1962, having married her co-plaintiff only on January
25, 1962, or just a little over one month before the expiry
date of her stay, it is evident that said marriage was
effected merely for convenience to defeat or avoid her
then impending compulsory departure, not to say
deportation. This cannot be permitted.
Third, as the Solicitor General has well stated:
61
5. That petitioner Lau Yuen Yeung, having been
admitted as a temporary alien visitor on the
strength of a deliberate and voluntary
representation that she will enter and stay only
for a period of one month and thereby secured
a visa, cannot go back on her representation to
stay permanently without first departing from
the Philippines as she had promised. (Chung
Tiao Bing, et al. vs. Commissioner of
Immigration, G. R. No. L-9966, September 29,
1956; Ong Se Lun vs. Board of Commissioners,
G. R. No. L-6017, September 16, 1954; Sec. 9,
last par., Phil. Immigration Law).
The aforequoted argument of the Solicitor General is well
buttressed not only by the decided cases of the Supreme
Court on the point mentioned above, but also on the
very provisions of Section 9, sub-paragraph (g) of the
Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 which reads:
An alien who is admitted as a non-immigrant
cannot remain in the Philippines permanently.
To obtain permanent admission, a non-
immigrant alien must depart voluntarily to some
foreign country and procure from the
appropriate Philippine Consul the proper visa
and thereafter undergo examination by the
Officers of the Bureau of Immigration at a
Philippine port of entry for determination of his
admissibility in accordance with the
requirements of this Act. (This paragraph is
added by Republic Act 503). (Sec. 9,
subparagraph (g) of the Philippine Immigration
Act of 1940).

62
And fourth, respondent Commissioner of Immigration is
charged with the administration of all laws relating to
immigration (Sec. 3, Com. Act No. 613) and in the
performance of his duties in relation to alien immigrants,
the law gives the Commissioner of Immigration a wide
discretion, a quasi-judicial function in determining cases
presented to him (Pedro Uy So vs. Commissioner of
Immigration CA-G. R. No. 23336-R, Dec. 15, 1960), so
that his decision thereon may not be disturbed unless he
acted with abuse of discretion or in excess of his
jurisdiction.
It may also be not amiss to state that wife Lau Yuen
Yeung, while she barely and insufficiently talk in broken
Tagalog and English, she admitted that she cannot write
either language.
The only matter of fact not clearly passed upon by His Honor
which could have some bearing in the resolution of this appeal is
the allegation in the brief of petitioners-appellants, not denied in
the governments brief, that "in the hearing ..., it was shown thru
the testimony of the plaintiff Lau Yuen Yeung that she does not
possess any of the disqualifications for naturalization." Of course,
as an additional somehow relevant factual matter, it is also
emphasized by said appellants that during the hearing in the
lower court, held almost ten months after the alleged marriage of
petitioners, "Lau Yuen Yeung was already carrying in her womb
for seven months a child by her husband."
Appellants have assigned six errors allegedly committed by the
court a quo, thus:
I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE
CLAUSE "WHO MIGHT HERSELF BE LAWFULLY
NATURALIZED" (OF SECTION 15, REVISED
63
NATURALIZATION LAW) INCONTESTABLY IMPLIES THAT
AN ALIEN WOMAN MAY BE DEEMED A CITIZEN OF THE
PHILIPPINES BY VIRTUE OF HER MARRIAGE TO A FILIPINO
CITIZEN, ONLY IF SHE POSSESSES ALL THE
QUALIFICATIONS AND NONE OF THE DISQUALIFICATIONS
SPECIFIED IN THE LAW.
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT A WOMAN
FOREIGNER WHO DOES NOT POSSESS ANY OF THE
DISQUALIFICATIONS FOR CITIZENSHIP AND WHO
MARRIED A FILIPINO CITIZEN IS STILL CONSIDERED AN
ALIEN EVEN AFTER SUCH MARRIAGE AS TO FALL WITHIN
THE REQUIREMENT OF SECTION 9, SUB-PARAGRAPH (9)
OF THE PHILIPPINE IMMIGRATION ACT OF 1940.
III
THE COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT LAU YUEN
YEUNG'S MARRIAGE TO A FILIPINO CITIZEN WAS ONLY
FOR CONVENIENCE, MERELY BECAUSE THE SAME WAS
CELEBRATED JUST OVER A MONTH BEFORE THE EXPIRY
DATE OF HER AUTHORIZED STAY.
IV
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO FIND THAT THE
COMMISSIONER OF IMMIGRATION ACTED WITH ABUSE
OF DISCRETION OR IN EXCESS OF HIS JURISDICTION
WHEN SAID OFFICER THREATENED TO SEND OUT OF THE
COUNTRY PLAINTIFF LAU YUEN YEUNG WITH WARNING
THAT HER FAILURE TO DO SO WOULD MEAN
CONFISCATION OF HER BOND, ARREST AND IMMEDIATE
DEPORTATION, IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT LAU YUEN
YEUNG IS NOW A FILIPINO CITIZEN.
V
64
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING PLAINTIFFS-
APPELLANTS' COMPLAINT AND IN REFUSING TO
PERMANENTLY ENJOIN THE COMMISSIONER FROM
ORDERING PLAINTIFF LAU YUEN YEUNG TO LEAVE THE
PHILIPPINES AS A TEMPORARY VISITOR WHICH SHE IS
NOT.
VI
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN REFUSING TO GRANT
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS' MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY
INJUNCTION EMBODIED IN THEIR COMPLAINT, IN AN
ORDER DATED MARCH 19, 1962. (PAGES 36-41, RECORD
ON APPEAL) .
We need not discuss these assigned errors separately. In effect,
the above decision upheld the two main grounds of objection of
the Solicitor General to the petition in the court below, viz:
That petitioner Lau Yuen Yeung, having been admitted as
a temporary alien visitor on the strength of a deliberate
and voluntary representation that she will enter and stay
only for a period of one month and thereby secured a
visa, cannot go back on her representation to stay
permanently without first departing from the Philippines
as she had promised. (Chung Tiao Bing, et al. vs.
Commissioner of Immigration, G.R. No. L-9966,
September 29, 1956; Ong Se Lun vs. Board of
Commissioners, G.R. No. L-6017, Sept. 16, 1954, Sec. 9,
last par. Phil. Immigration Law);
That the mere marriage of a Filipino citizen to an alien
does not automatically confer on the latter Philippine
citizenship. The alien wife must possess all the
qualifications required by law to become a Filipino citizen
by naturalization and none of the disqualifications. (Lee

65
Suan Ay, Alberto Tan and Lee Chiao vs. Galang, etc., G. R.
No. L-11855, Dec. 25, 1959)
It is obvious from the nature of these objection that their proper
resolution would necessarily cover all the points raised in
appellants' assignments of error, hence, We will base our
discussions, more or less, on said objections.
I
The first objection of the Solicitor General which covers the
matters dealt with in appellants' second and fourth assignments
of error does not require any lengthy discussion. As a matter of
fact, it seem evident that the Solicitor General's pose that an alien
who has been admitted into the Philippines as a non-immigrant
cannot remain here permanently unless he voluntarily leaves the
country first and goes to a foreign country to secure thereat from
the appropriate Philippine consul the proper visa and thereafter
undergo examination by officers of the Bureau of Immigration at a
Philippine port of entry for determination of his admissibility in
accordance with the requirements of the Philippine Immigration
Act of 1940, as amended by Republic Act 503, is premised on the
assumption that petitioner Lau Yuen Yeung is not a Filipino
citizen. We note the same line of reasoning in the appealed
decision of the court a quo. Accordingly, it is but safe to assume
that were the Solicitor General and His Honor of the view that
said petitioner had become ipso facto a Filipina by virtue of her
marriage to her Filipino husband, they would have held her as
entitled to assume the status of a permanent resident without
having to depart as required of aliens by Section 9 (g) of the law.
In any event, to set this point at rest, We hereby hold that portion
of Section 9 (g) of the Immigration Act providing:
An alien who is admitted as a non-immigrant cannot
remain in the Philippines permanently. To obtain
permanent admission, a non-immigrant alien must
66
depart voluntarily to some foreign country and procure
from the appropriate Philippine consul the proper visa
and thereafter undergo examination by the officers of
the Bureau of Immigration at a Philippine port of entry
for determination of his admissibility in accordance with
the requirements of this Act.
does not apply to aliens who after coming into the Philippines as
temporary visitors, legitimately become Filipino citizens or acquire
Filipino citizenship. Such change of nationality naturally bestows
upon their the right to stay in the Philippines permanently or not,
as they may choose, and if they elect to reside here, the
immigration authorities may neither deport them nor confiscate
their bonds. True it is that this Court has vehemently expressed
disapproval of convenient ruses employed by alien to convert
their status from temporary visitors to permanent residents in
circumvention of the procedure prescribed by the legal provision
already mentioned, such as in Chiong Tiao Bing vs. Commissioner
of Immigration, 99 Phil. 1020, wherein, thru Mr. Justice J.B.L.
Reyes, the Court, reiterating the ruling in Ong Se Lun vs. Board of
Immigration Commissioners, 95 PMI. 785, said:
... It is clear that if an alien gains admission to the Islands
on the strength of a deliberate and voluntary
representation that he will enter only for a limited time,
and thereby secures the benefit of a temporary visa, the
law will not allow him subsequently to go back on his
representation and stay permanently, without first
departing from the Philippines as he had promised. No
officer can relieve him of the departure requirements of
section 9 of the Immigration Act, under the guise of
"change" or "correction", for the law makes no
distinctions, and no officer is above the law. Any other
ruling would, as stated in our previous decision,
encourage aliens to enter the Islands on false pretences;
every alien so permitted to enter for a limited time,
67
might then claim a right to permanent admission,
however flimsy such claim should be, and thereby
compel our government to spend time, money and effort
to examining and verifying whether or not every such
alien really has a right to take up permanent residence
here. In the meanwhile, the alien would be able to
prolong his stay and evade his return to the port whence
he came, contrary to what he promised to do when he
entered. The damages inherent in such ruling are self-
evident.
On the other hand, however, We cannot see any reason why an
alien who has been here as a temporary visitor but who has in the
meanwhile become a Filipino should be required to still leave the
Philippines for a foreign country, only to apply thereat for a re-
entry here and undergo the process of showing that he is entitled
to come back, when after all, such right has become incontestible
as a necessary concomitant of his assumption of our nationality
by whatever legal means this has been conferred upon him.
Consider for example, precisely the case of the minor children of
an alien who is naturalized. It is indubitable that they become ipso
facto citizens of the Philippines. Could it be the law that before
they can be allowed permanent residence, they still have to be
taken abroad so that they may be processed to determine
whether or not they have a right to have permanent residence
here? The difficulties and hardships which such a requirement
entails and its seeming unreasonableness argue against such a
rather absurd construction. Indeed, as early as 1957, in Ly Giok Ha
vs. Galang, 101 Phil. 459, Mr. Justice Concepcion, our present
Chief Justice, already ruled thus:
... (P)etitioners allege that, upon her marriage to a
Filipino, Ly Giok Ha became also a citizen of the
Philippines. Indeed, if this conclusion were correct, it
would follow that, in consequence of her marriage, she
had been naturalized as such citizen, and, hence the
68
decision appealed from would have to be affirmed, for
section 40(c) of Commonwealth Act 613 provides that "in
the event of the naturalization as a Philippine citizen ... of
the alien on whose behalf the bond deposit is given, the
bond shall be cancelled or the sum deposited shall be
returned to the depositor or his legal representative." (At.
pp. 462-463)
In other words, the applicable statute itself more than implies
that the naturalization of an alien visitor as a Philippine citizen
logically produces the effect of conferring upon him ipso facto all
the rights of citizenship including that of being entitled to
permanently stay in the Philippines outside the orbit of authority
of the Commissioner of Immigration vis-a-vis aliens, if only
because by its very nature and express provisions, the
Immigration Law is a law only for aliens and is inapplicable to
citizens of the Philippines. In the sense thus discussed therefore,
appellants' second and fourth assignments of error are well taken.
II
Precisely, the second objection, of the Solicitor General sustained
by the trial judge is that appellant Lau Yuen Yeung's marriage to
appellant Moya Lim Yao alias Edilberto Aguinaldo whose Filipino
citizenship is not denied did not have the effect of making her a
Filipino, since it has not been shown that she "might herself be
lawfully naturalized," it appearing clearly in the record that she
does not possess all the qualifications required of applicants for
naturalization by the Revised Naturalization Law, Commonwealth
Act 473, even if she has proven that she does not suffer from any
of the disqualifications thereunder. In other words, the Solicitor
General implicitly concedes that had it been established in the
proceedings below that appellant Lau Yuen Yeung possesses all
the qualifications required by the law of applicants for
naturalization, she would have been recognized by the
respondent as a Filipino citizen in the instant case, without
69
requiring her to submit to the usual proceedings for
naturalization.
To be sure, this position of the Solicitor General is in accord with
what used to be the view of this Court since Lee Suan Ay, et al. v.
Emilio Galang, etc., et al., G.R. No. L-11855, promulgated
December 23, 1959, 106 Phil., 706,713, 1 for it was only in Zita
Ngo Burca vs. Republic, G.R. NO. L-24252 which was promulgated
on January 30, 1967 (19 SCRA 186), that over the pen of Mr.
Justice Conrado Sanchez, this Court held that for an alien woman
who marries a Filipino to be deemed a Filipina, she has to apply
for naturalization in accordance with the procedure prescribed by
the Revised Naturalization Law and prove in said naturalization
proceeding not only that she has all the qualifications and none of
the disqualifications provided in the law but also that she has
complied with all the formalities required thereby like any other
applicant for naturalization, 2 albeit said decision is not yet part of
our jurisprudence inasmuch as the motion for its reconsideration
is still pending resolution. Appellants are in effect urging Us,
however, in their first and second assignments of error, not only
to reconsider Burca but to even reexamine Lee Suan Ay which, as
a matter of fact, is the prevailing rule, having been reiterated in all
subsequent decisions up to Go Im Ty. 3
Actually, the first case in which Section 15 of the Naturalization
Law, Commonwealth Act 473, underwent judicial construction
was in the first Ly Giok Ha case, 4 one almost identical to the one
at bar. Ly Giok Ha, a woman of Chinese nationality, was a
temporary visitor here whose authority to stay was to expire on
March 14, 1956. She filed a bond to guaranty her timely
departure. On March 8, 1956, eight days before the expiration of
her authority to stay, she married a Filipino by the name of
Restituto Lacasta. On March 9, 1956, her husband notified the
Commissioner of Immigration of said marriage and, contending
that his wife had become a Filipina by reason of said marriage,
demanded for the cancellation of her bond, but instead of
70
acceding to such request, the Commissioner required her to leave,
and upon her failure to do so, on March 16, 1956, the
Commissioner confiscated her bond; a suit was filed for the
recovery of the bond; the lower court sustained her contention
that she had no obligation to leave, because she had become
Filipina by marriage, hence her bond should be returned. The
Commissioner appealed to this Court. In the said appeal, Mr.
Justice Roberto Concepcion, our present Chief Justice, spoke for
the Court, thus:
The next and most important question for determination
is whether her marriage to a Filipino justified or, at least,
excused the aforesaid failure of Ly Giok Ha to depart
from the Philippines on or before March 14, 1956. In
maintaining the affirmative view, petitioners alleged
that, upon her marriage to a Filipino, Ly Giok Ha became,
also, a citizen of the Philippines. Indeed, if this conclusion
were correct, it would follow that, in consequence of her
marriage, she had been naturalized as such citizen, and,
hence, the decision appealed from would have to be
affirmed, for section 40(c) of Commonwealth Act No. 613
provides that "in the event of the naturalization as a
Philippine citizen ... of the alien on whose behalf the
bond deposit is given, the bond shall be cancelled or the
sum deposited shall be returned to the depositor or his
legal representative." Thus the issue boils down to
whether an alien female who marries a male citizen of
the Philippines follows ipso facto his political status.
The pertinent part of section 15 of Commonwealth Act
No. 473, upon which petitioners rely, reads:
Any woman who is now or may hereafter be
married to a citizen of the Philippines, and who
might herself be lawfully naturalized shall be
deemed a citizen of the Philippines.
71
Pursuant thereto, marriage to a male Filipino does not
vest Philippine citizenship to his foreign wife, unless she
"herself may be lawfully naturalized." As correctly held in
an opinion of the Secretary of Justice (Op. No. 52, series
of 1950),* this limitation of section 15 excludes, from the
benefits of naturalization by marriage, those disqualified
from being naturalized as citizens of the Philippines
under section 4 of said Commonwealth Act No.
473, namely:
(a) Persons opposed to organized government
or affiliated with any association or group of
persons who uphold and teach doctrines
opposing all organized governments;
(b) Persons defending or teaching the necessity
or propriety of violence, personal assault, or
assassination for the success and predominance
of their ideas;
(c) Polygamists or believers in the practice of
polygamy;
(d) Persons convicted of crimes involving moral
turpitude;
(e) Persons suffering from mental alienation or
incurable contagious diseases;
(f) Persons who, during the period of their
residence in the Philippines, have not mingled
socially with the Filipinos, or who have not
evinced a sincere desire to learn and embrace
the customs, traditions, and ideals of the
Filipinos;

72
(g) Citizens or subjects of nations with whom the
... Philippines are at war, during the period of
such war;
(h) Citizens or subjects of a foreign country
other than the United States, whose laws does
not grant Filipinos the right to become
naturalized citizens or subjects thereof.
In the case at bar, there is neither proof nor allegation in
the pleadings that Ly Giok Ha does not fall under any of
the classes disqualified by law. Moreover, as the parties
who claim that, despite her failure to depart from the
Philippines within the period specified in the bond in
question, there has been no breach thereof, petitioners
have the burden of proving her alleged change of
political status, from alien to citizen. Strictly speaking,
petitioners have not made out, therefore a case against
the respondents-appellants.
Considering, however, that neither in the administrative
proceedings, nor in the lower court, had the parties
seemingly felt that there was an issue on whether Ly
Giok Ha may "be lawfully naturalized," and this being a
case of first impression in our courts, we are of the
opinion that, in the interest of equity and justice, the
parties herein should be given an opportunity to
introduce evidence, if they have any, on said issue. (At
pp. 462-464.) .
As may be seen, although not specifically in so many words, no
doubt was left in the above decision as regards the following
propositions: .
1. That under Section 15 of Commonwealth Act 473, the Revised
Naturalization Law, the marriage of an alien woman to a Filipino
makes her a Filipina, if she "herself might be lawfully naturalized";
73
2. That this Court declared as correct the opinion of the Secretary
of Justice that the limitation of Section 15 of the Naturalization
Law excludes from the benefits of naturalization by marriage, only
those disqualified from being naturalized under Section 4 of the
law qouted in the decision;
3. That evidence to the effect that she is not disqualified may be
presented in the action to recover her bond confiscated by the
Commissioner of Immigration;
4. That upon proof of such fact, she may be recognized as Filipina;
and
5. That in referring to the disqualification enumerated in the law,
the Court somehow left the impression that no inquiry need be
made as to qualifications, 5 specially considering that the decision
cited and footnotes several opinions of the Secretary of Justice,
the immediate superior of the Commissioner of Immigration, the
most important of which are the following:
Paragraph (a), section 13 of Act No. 2927, as amended,
(now section 15, Commonwealth Act No. 473), provided
that "any woman who is now or may hereafter be
married to a citizen of the Philippines, and who might
herself be lawfully naturalized shall be deemed a citizen
of the Philippines." A similar provision in the
naturalization law of the United States has been
construed as not requiring the woman to have the
qualifications of residence, good character, etc., as in the
case of naturalization by judicial proceedings, but merely
that she is of the race of persons who may be
naturalized. (Kelly v. Owen [Dist. Col. 1868] 7 Wall 496,
5F, 11, 12; ex parte Tryason [D. C. Wash. 1914] 215 F.
449, 27 Op. Atty. Gen. 507). (Op. No. 168, s. 1940 of
Justice Sec. Jose Abad Santos.)

74
In a previous opinion rendered for your Office, I stated
that the clause "who might herself be lawfully
naturalized", should be construed as not requiring the
woman to have the qualifications of residence, good
character, etc., as in cases of naturalization by judicial
proceedings, but merely that she is of the race of persons
who may be naturalized. (Op. No. 79, s. 1940)
Inasmuch as the race qualification has been removed by
the Revised Naturalization Law, it results that any woman
who married a citizen of the Philippines prior to or after
June 17, 1939, and the marriage not having been
dissolved, and on the assumption that she possesses
none of the disqualifications mentioned in Section 4 of
Commonwealth Act No. 473, follows the citizenship of
her husband. (Op. No. 176, s. 1940 of Justice Sec. Jose
Abad Santos.)
From the foregoing narration of facts, it would seem that
the only material point of inquiry is as to the citizenship
of Arce Machura. If he shall be found to be a citizen of
the Philippines, his wife, Mrs. Lily James Machura, shall
likewise be deemed a citizen of the Philippines pursuant
to the provision of Section 15, Commonwealth Act No.
473, which reads in part as follows:
Any woman who is now or may hereafter be
married to a citizen of the Philippines, and who
might herself be lawfully naturalized shall be
deemed a citizen of the Philippines.
The phrase "who might herself be lawfully naturalized",
as contained in the above provision, means that the
woman who is married to a Filipino citizen must not
belong to any of the disqualified classes enumerated in
Section 4 of the Naturalization Law (Ops., Sec. of Jus., No.
28, s. 1950; No. 43, s. 1948, No. 95, s. 1941; Nos. 79 and
75
168, s. 1940). Under the facts stated in the within papers,
Mrs. Machura does not appear to be among the
disqualified classes mentioned in the law.
It having been shown that Arce Machura or Arsenio
Guevara was born as an illegitimate of a Filipino mother,
he should be considered as a citizen of the Philippines in
consonance with the well-settled rule that an illegitimate
child follows the citizenship of his only legally recognized
parent, the mother (Op., Sec. of Jus., Nos. 58, 98 & 281,
s. 1948; No. 96, s. 1949). Her husband being a Filipino,
Mrs. Machura must necessarily be deemed as a citizen of
the Philippines by marriage (Sec. 15, Com. Act No. 473.)
(Op. No. 52, s. 1950 of Justice Sec. Ricardo
Nepomuceno.)
The logic and authority of these opinions, compelling as they are,
must have so appealed to this Court that five days later, on May
22, 1957, in Ricardo Cua v. The Board of Commissioners, 101 Phil.
521, Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, reiterated the same ruling on the
basis of the following facts:
Tjioe Wu Suan, an Indonesian, arrived in Manila on November 1,
1952, but it turned out that her passport was forged. On
December 10, 1953, a warrant was issued for her arrest for
purpose of deportation. Later, on December 20, 1953, she
married Ricardo Cua, a Filipino, and because of said marriage, the
Board of Special Inquiry considered her a Filipina. Upon a review
of the case, however, the Board of Immigration Commissioners
insisted on continuing with the deportation proceedings and so,
the husband filed prohibition and mandamus proceedings. The
lower court denied the petition. Although this Court affirmed said
decision, it held, on the other hand, that:
Granting the validity of marriage, this Court has ruled in
the recent case of Ly Giok Ha v. Galang, supra, p. 459,
that the bare fact of a valid marriage to a citizen does not
76
suffice to confer his citizenship upon the wife. Section 15
of the Naturalization Law requires that the alien woman
who marries a Filipino must show, in addition, that she
"might herself be lawfully naturalized" as a Filipino
citizen. As construed in the decision cited, this last
condition requires proof that the woman who married a
Filipino is herself not disqualified under section 4 of the
Naturalization Law.
No such evidence appearing on record, the claim of
assumption of Filipino citizenship by Tjioe Wu Suan, upon
her marriage to petitioner, is untenable. The lower court,
therefore, committed no error in refusing to interfere
with the deportation proceedings, where she can anyway
establish the requisites indispensable for her acquisition
of Filipino citizenship, as well as the alleged validity of
her Indonesian passport. (Ricardo Cua v. The Board of
Immigration Commissioners, G. R. No. L-9997, May 22,
1957, 101 Phil. 521, 523.) [Emphasis supplied] .
For emphasis, it is reiterated that in the above two cases, this
Court expressly gave the parties concerned opportunity to prove
the fact that they were not suffering from any of the
disqualifications of the law without the need of undergoing any
judicial naturalization proceeding. It may be stated, therefore,
that according to the above decisions, the law in this country, on
the matter of the effect of marriage of an alien woman to a
Filipino is that she thereby becomes a Filipina, if it can be proven
that at the time of such marriage, she does not possess any of the
disqualifications enumerated in Section 4 of the Naturalization
Law, without the need of submitting to any naturalization
proceedings under said law.
It is to be admitted that both of the above decisions made no
reference to qualifications, that is, as to whether or not they need
also to be proved, but, in any event, it is a fact that the Secretary
77
of Justice understood them to mean that such qualifications need
not be possessed nor proven. Then Secretary of Justice Jesus
Barrera, who later became a distinguished member of this
Court, 6 so ruled in opinions rendered by him subsequent to Ly
Giok Ha, the most illustrative of which held: .
At the outset it is important to note that an alien woman
married to a Filipino citizen needs only to show that she
"might herself be lawfully naturalized" in order to
acquire Philippine citizenship. Compliance with other
conditions of the statute, such as those relating to the
qualifications of an applicant for naturalization through
judicial proceedings, is not necessary. (See: Leonard v.
Grant, 5 Fed. 11; 27 Ops. Atty. Gen [U.S.] 507; Ops. Sec.
of Justice, No. 776, s. 1940, and No. 111, s. 1953.
This view finds support in the case of Ly Giok Ha et al. v.
Galang et al., G.R. No. L-10760, promulgated May 17,
1957, where the Supreme Court, construing the
abovequoted section of the Naturalization Law, held that
"marriage to a male Filipino does not vest Philippine
citizenship to his foreign wife," unless she "herself may
be lawfully naturalized," and that "this limitation of
Section 15 excludes, from the benefits of naturalization
by marriage, those disqualified from being naturalized as
citizens of the Philippines under Section 4 of said
Commonwealth Act No. 473." In other words,
disqualification for any of the causes enumerated in
Section 4 of the Act is the decisive factor that defeats the
right of the foreign wife of a Philippine citizen to acquire
Philippine citizenship.
xxx xxx xxx
Does petitioner, Lim King Bian, belong to any of these
groups The Commissioner of Immigration does not say so
but merely predicates his negative action on the ground
78
that a warrant of deportation for "overstaying" is
pending against the petitioner.
We do not believe the position is well taken. Since the
grounds for disqualification for naturalization are
expressly enumerated in the law, a warrant of
deportation not based on a finding of unfitness to
become naturalized for any of those specified causes
may not be invoked to negate acquisition of Philippine
citizenship by a foreign wife of a Philippine citizen under
Section 15 of the Naturalization Law. (Inclusio unius est
exclusio alterius) (Op. No. 12, s. 1958 of Justice Undersec.
Jesus G. Barrera.)
Regarding the steps that should be taken by an alien
woman married to a Filipino citizen in order to acquire
Philippine citizenship, the procedure followed in the
Bureau of Immigration is as follows: The alien woman
must file a petition for the cancellation of her alien
certificate of registration alleging, among other things,
that she is married to a Filipino citizen and that she is not
disqualified from acquiring her husband's citizenship
pursuant to section 4 of Commonwealth Act No. 473, as
amended. Upon the filing of said petition, which should
be accompanied or supported by the joint affidavit of the
petitioner and her Filipino husband to the effect that the
petitioner does not belong to any of the groups
disqualified by the cited section from becoming
naturalized Filipino citizen (please see attached CEB Form
1), the Bureau of Immigration conducts an investigation
and thereafter promulgates its order or decision granting
or denying the petition. (Op. No. 38, s. 19058 of Justice
Sec. Jesus G. Barrera.)
This view finds support in the case of Ly Giok Ha et al., v.
Galang et al. (G.R. No. L-10760, promulgated May 17,
79
1957), where the Supreme Court, construing the above-
quoted section in the Revised Naturalization Law, held
that "marriage to a male Filipino does not vest Philippine
citizenship to his foreign wife, unless she herself may be
lawfully naturalized," and that "this limitation of Section
15 excludes, from the benefits of naturalization by
marriage, those disqualified from being naturalized as
citizens of the Philippines under Section 4 of said
Commonwealth Act No. 473." In other words,
disqualification for any of the causes enumerated in
section 4 of the Act is the decisive factor that defeats the
right of an alien woman married to a Filipino citizen to
acquire Philippine citizenship. (Op. 57, s. 1958 of Justice
Sec. Jesus G. Barrera.)
The contention is untenable. The doctrine enunciated in
the Ly Giok Ha case is not a new one. In that case, the
Supreme Court held that under paragraph I of Section 15
Of Commonwealth Act No. 473, 'marriage to a male
Filipino does not vest Philippine citizenship to his foreign
wife unless she "herself may be lawfully naturalized"',
and, quoting several earlier opinions of the Secretary of
Justice, namely: No. 52, s. 1950; No. 168, s. 1940; No. 95,
s. 1941; No. 63, s. 1948; No. 28. s. 1950, "this limitation
of section 15 excludes from the benefits of naturalization
by marriage, those disqualified from being naturalized as
citizens of the Philippines under section 4 of said
Commonwealth Act No. 473." (Op. 134, s. 1962 of Justice
Undersec. Magno S. Gatmaitan.)
It was not until more than two years later that, in one respect, the
above construction of the law was importantly modified by this
Court in Lee Suan Ay, supra, in which the facts were as follows:
Upon expiration of the appellant Lee Suan Ay's
authorized period of temporary stay in the Philippines
80
(25 March 1955), on 26 March 1955 the Commissioner of
Immigration asked the bondsman to present her to the
Bureau of Immigration within 24 hours from receipt of
notice, otherwise the bond will be confiscated(Annex 1).
For failure of the bondsman to comply with the foregoing
order, on 1 April 1955. the Commissioner of Immigration
ordered the cash bond confiscated (Annex E). Therefore,
there was an order issued by the Commissioner of
Immigration confiscating or forfeiting the cash bond.
Unlike in forfeiture of bail bonds in criminal proceedings,
where the Court must enter an order forfeiting the bail
bond and the bondsman must be given an opportunity to
present his principal or give a satisfactory reason for his
inability to do so, before final judgment may be entered
against the bondsman,(section 15, Rule 110; U.S. v.
Bonoan, 22 Phil. 1.) in forfeiture of bonds posted for the
temporary stay of an alien in the Philippines, no court
proceeding is necessary. Once a breach of the terms and
conditions of the undertaking in the bond is committed,
the Commissioner of Immigration may, under the terms
and conditions thereof, declare it forfeited in favor of the
Government. (In the meanwhile, on April 1, 1955, Lee
Suan Ay and Alberto Tan, a Filipino, were joined in
marriage by the Justice of the Peace of Las Pias, Rizal.)
Mr. Justice Sabino Padilla speaking for a unanimous court which
included Justices Concepcion and Reyes who had penned Ly Giok
Ha, and Ricardo Cua, ruled thus:
The fact that Lee Suan Ay (a Chinese) was married to a
Filipino citizen does not relieve the bondsman from his
liability on the bond. The marriage took place on 1 April
1955, and the violation of the terms and conditions of
the undertaking in the bond failure to depart from the
Philippines upon expiration of her authorized period of
temporary stay in the Philippines (25 March 1955) and
81
failure to report to the Commissioner of Immigration
within 24 hours from receipt of notice were
committed before the marriage. Moreover, the marriage
of a Filipino citizen to an alien does not automatically
confer Philippine citizenship upon the latter. She must
possess the qualifications required by law to become a
Filipino citizen by naturalization.* There is no showing
that the appellant Lee Suan Ay possesses all the
qualifications and none of the disqualifications provided
for by law to become a Filipino citizen by naturalization.
Pertinently to be noted at once in this ruling, which, to be sure, is
the one relied upon in the appealed decision now before Us, is
the fact that the footnote of the statement therein that the alien
wife "must possess the qualifications required by law to become a
Filipino citizen by naturalization" makes reference to Section 15,
Commonwealth Act 473 and precisely, also to Ly Giok Ha v.
Galang, supra. As will be recalled, on the other hand, in the
opinions of the Secretary of Justice explicitly adopted by the Court
in Ly Giok Ha, among them, Opinion No. 176, Series of 1940,
above-quoted, it was clearly held that "(I)n a previous opinion
rendered for your Office, I stated that the clause "who might
herself be lawfully naturalized", should be construed as not
requiring the woman to have the qualifications of residence, good
character, etc., as in cases of naturalization by judicial
proceedingsbut merely that she is of the race by persons who may
be naturalized. (Op. No. 79, s. 1940)
Since Justice Padilla gave no reason at all for the obviously
significant modification of the construction of the law, it could be
said that there was need for clarification of the seemingly new
posture of the Court. The occasion for such clarification should
have been in Kua Suy, etc., et al. vs. The Commissioner of
Immigration, G.R. No. L-13790, October 31, 1963, penned by Mr.
Justice J.B.L. Reyes, who had rendered the opinion in Ricardo
Cua,supra, which followed that in Ly Giok Ha, supra, but
82
apparently seeing no immediate relevancy in the case on hand
then of the particular point in issue now, since it was not squarely
raised therein similarly as in Lee Suan Ay, hence, anything said on
the said matter would at best be no more than obiter dictum,
Justice Reyes limited himself to holding that "Under Section 15 of
the Naturalization Act, the wife is deemed a citizen of the
Philippines only if she "might herself be lawfully naturalized," so
that the fact of marriage to a citizen, by itself alone, does not
suffice to confer citizenship, as this Court has previously ruled in
Ly Giok Ha v. Galang, 54 O.G. 356, and in Cua v. Board of
Immigration Commissioners, 53 O.G. 8567; and there is here no
evidence of record as to the qualifications or absence of
disqualifications of appellee Kua Suy", without explaining the
apparent departure already pointed out from Ly Giok Ha and
Ricardo Cua. Even Justice Makalintal, who wrote a separate
concurring and dissenting opinion merely lumped together Ly
Giok Ha, Ricardo Cua and Lee Suan Ay and opined that both
qualifications and non-disqualifications have to be shown without
elucidating on what seemed to be departure from the said first
two decisions.
It was only on November 30, 1963 that to Mr. Justice Roberto
Regala fell the task of rationalizing the Court's position. In Lo San
Tuang v. Galang, G.R. No. L-18775, November 30, 1963, 9 SCRA
638, the facts were simply these: Lo San Tuang, a Chinese woman,
arrived in the Philippines on July 1, 1960 as a temporary visitor
with authority to stay up to June 30, 1961. She married a Filipino
on January 7, 1961, almost six months before the expiry date of
her permit, and when she was requested to leave after her
authority to stay had expired, she refused to do so, claiming she
had become a Filipina by marriage, and to bolster her position,
she submitted an affidavit stating explicitly that she does not
possess any of the disqualifications enumerated in the
Naturalization Law, Commonwealth Act 473. When the case
reached the court, the trial judge held for the government that in
83
addition to not having any of the disqualifications referred to,
there was need that Lo San Tuang should have also possessed all
the qualifications of residence, moral character, knowledge of a
native principal dialect, etc., provided by the law. Recognizing that
the issue squarely to be passed upon was whether or not the
possession of all the qualifications were indeed needed to be
shown apart from non-disqualification, Justice Regala held
affirmatively for the Court, reasoning out thus: .
It is to be noted that the petitioner has anchored her
claim for citizenship on the basis of the decision laid
down in the case of Leonard v. Grant, 5 Swy. 603, 5 F 11,
where the Circuit Court of Oregon held that it was only
necessary that the woman "should be a person of the
class or race permitted to be naturalized by existing laws,
and that in respect of the qualifications arising out of her
conduct or opinions, being the wife of a citizen, she is to
be regarded as qualified for citizenship, and therefore
considered a citizen." (In explanation of its conclusion,
the Court said: "If, whenever during the life of the
woman or afterwards, the question of her citizenship
arises in a legal proceeding, the party asserting her
citizenship by reason of her marriage with a citizen must
not only prove such marriage, but also that the woman
then possessed all the further qualifications necessary to
her becoming naturalized under existing laws, the statute
will be practically nugatory, if not a delusion and a share.
The proof of the facts may have existed at the time of the
marriage, but years after, when a controversy arises
upon the subject, it may be lost or difficult to find.")
In other words, all that she was required to prove was
that she was a free white woman or a woman of African
descent or nativity, in order to be deemed an American
citizen, because, with respect to the rest of the

84
qualifications on residence, moral character, etc., she
was presumed to be qualified.
Like the law in the United States, our former
Naturalization Law (Act No. 2927, as amended by Act No.
3448) specified the classes of persons who alone might
become citizens of the Philippines, even as it provided
who were disqualified. Thus, the pertinent provisions of
that law provided:
Section 1. Who may become Philippine
citizens Philippine citizenship may be
acquired by (a) natives of the Philippines who
are not citizens thereof under the Jones Law; (b)
natives of the Insular possessions of the United
States; (c) citizens of the United States, or
foreigners who under the laws of the United
States may become citizens of said country if
residing therein.
Section 2. Who are disqualified. The following
cannot be naturalized as Philippine citizens: (a)
Persons opposed to organized government or
affiliated with any association or group of
persons who uphold and teach doctrines
opposing all organized government; (b) persons
defending or teaching the necessity or propriety
of violence, personal assault or assassination for
the success and predominance of their ideas; (c)
polygamists or believers in the practice of
polygamy; (d) persons convicted of crimes
involving moral turpitude; (e) persons suffering
from mental alienation or incurable contagious
diseases; (f) citizens or subjects of nations with
whom the United States and the Philippines are
at war, during the period of such war.
85
Section 3. Qualifications. The persons
comprised in subsection (a) of section one of
this Act, in order to be able to acquire Philippine
citizenship, must be not less than twenty-one
years of age on the day of the hearing of their
petition.
The persons comprised in subsections (b) and (c)
of said section one shall, in addition to being not
less than twenty-one years of age on the day of
the hearing of the petition, have all and each of
the following qualifications:
First. Residence in the Philippine Islands for a
continuous period of not less than five years,
except as provided in the next following section;
Second. To have conducted themselves in a
proper and irreproachable manner during the
entire period of their residence in the Philippine
Islands, in their relation with the constituted
government as well as with the community in
which they are living;
Third. To hold in the Philippine Islands real
estate worth not less than one thousand pesos,
Philippine currency, or have some known trade
or profession; and
Fourth. To speak and write English, Spanish, or
some native tongue.
In case the petitioner is a foreign subject, he
shall, besides, declare in writing and under oath
his intention of renouncing absolutely and
perpetually all faith and allegiance to the foreign

86
authority, state or sovereignty of which he was a
native, citizen or subject.
Applying the interpretation given by Leonard v. Grant
supra, to our law as it then stood, alien women married
to citizens of the Philippines must, in order to be deemed
citizens of the Philippines, be either (1) natives of the
Philippines who were not citizens thereof under the
Jones Law, or (2) natives of other Insular possessions of
the United States, or (3) citizens of the United States or
foreigners who under the laws of the United States might
become citizens of that country if residing therein. With
respect to the qualifications set forth in Section 3 of the
former law, they were deemed to have the same for all
intents and purposes.
But, with the approval of the Revised Naturalization Law
(Commonwealth Act No. 473) on June 17, 1939, Congress
has since discarded class or racial consideration from the
qualifications of applicants for naturalization (according
to its proponent, the purpose in eliminating this
consideration was, first, to remove the features of the
existing naturalization act which discriminated in favor of
the Caucasians and against Asiatics who are our
neighbors, and are related to us by racial affinity and,
second, to foster amity with all nations [Sinco, Phil.
Political Law 502 11 ed.]), even as it retained in
Section 15 the phrase in question. The result is that the
phrase "who might herself be lawfully naturalized" must
be understood in the context in which it is now found, in
a setting so different from that in which it was found by
the Court in Leonard v. Grant.
The only logical deduction from the elimination of class
or racial consideration is that, as the Solicitor General
points out, the phrase "who might herself be lawfully
87
naturalized" must now be understood as referring to
those who under Section 2 of the law are qualified to
become citizens of the Philippines.
There is simply no support for the view that the phrase
"who might herself be lawfully naturalized" must now be
understood as requiring merely that the alien woman
must not belong to the class of disqualified persons
under Section 4 of the Revised Naturalization Law. Such a
proposition misreads the ruling laid down in Leonard v.
Grant. A person who is not disqualified is not necessarily
qualified to become a citizen of the Philippines, because
the law treats "qualifications" and "disqualifications" in
separate sections. And then it must not be lost sight of
that even under the interpretation given to the former
law, it was to be understood that the alien woman was
not disqualified under Section 2 of that law. Leonard v.
Grant did not rule that it was enough if the alien woman
does not belong to the class of disqualified persons in
order that she may be deemed to follow the citizenship
of her husband: What that case held was that the phrase
"who might herself be lawfully naturalized, merely
means that she belongs to the class or race of persons
qualified to become citizens by naturalization the
assumption being always that she is not otherwise
disqualified.
We therefore hold that under the first paragraph of
Section 15 of the Naturalization Law, an alien woman,
who is married to a citizen of the Philippines, acquires
the citizenship of her husband only if she has all the
qualifications and none of the disqualifications provided
by law. Since there is no proof in this case that petitioner
has all the qualifications and is not in any way
disqualified, her marriage to a Filipino citizen does not
automatically make her a Filipino citizen. Her affidavit to
88
the effect that she is not in any way disqualified to
become a citizen of this country was correctly
disregarded by the trial court, the same being self-
serving.
Naturally, almost a month later in Sun Peck Yong v. Commissioner
of Immigration, G.R. No. L-20784, December 27, 1963, 9 SCRA
875, wherein the Secretary of Foreign Affairs reversed a previous
resolution of the preceding administration to allow Sun Peck Yong
and her minor son to await the taking of the oath of Filipino
citizenship of her husband two years after the decision granting
him nationalization and required her to leave and this order was
contested in court, Justice Barrera held:
In the case of Lo San Tuang v. Commissioner of
Immigration (G.R. No. L-18775, promulgated November
30, 1963; Kua Suy vs. Commissioner of Immigration, L-
13790, promulgated October 31, 1963), we held that the
fact that the husband became a naturalized citizen does
not automatically make the wife a citizen of the
Philippines. It must also be shown that she herself
possesses all the qualifications, and none of the
disqualifications, to become a citizen. In this case, there
is no allegation, much less showing, that petitioner-wife
is qualified to become a Filipino citizen herself.
Furthermore, the fact that a decision was favorably made
on the naturalization petition of her husband is no
assurance that he (the husband) would become a citizen,
as to make a basis for the extension of her temporary
stay.
On the same day, in Tong Siok Sy v. Vivo, G.R. No. L-21136,
December 27, 1963, 9 SCRA 876, Justice Barrera reiterated the
same ruling and citing particularly Lo San Tuang and Kua Suy, held
that the marriage of Tong Siok Sy to a Filipino on November 12,
1960 at Taichung, Taiwan and her taking oath of Filipino
89
citizenship before the Philippine Vice-Consul at Taipeh, Taiwan on
January 6, 1961 did not make her a Filipino citizen, since she came
here only in 1961 and obviously, she had not had the necessary
ten-year residence in the Philippines required by the law.
Such then was the status of the jurisprudential law on the matter
under discussion when Justice Makalintal sought a reexamination
thereof in Choy King Tee v. Galang, G.R. No. L-18351, March 26,
1965, 13 SCRA 402. Choy King Tee's husband was granted
Philippine citizenship on January 13, 1959 and took the oath on
January 31 of the same year. Choy King Tee first came to the
Philippines in 1955 and kept commuting between Manila and
Hongkong since then, her last visa before the case being due to
expire on February 14, 1961. On January 27, 1961, her husband
asked the Commissioner of Immigration to cancel her alien
certificate of registration, as well as their child's, for the reason
that they were Filipinos, and when the request was denied as to
the wife, a mandamus was sought, which the trial court granted.
Discussing anew the issue of the need for qualifications, Justice
Makalintal not only reiterated the arguments of Justice Regala in
Lo San Tuang but added further that the ruling is believed to be in
line with the national policy of selective admission to Philippine
citizenship. 7
No wonder, upon this authority, in Austria v. Conchu, G.R. No. L-
20716, June 22, 1965, 14 SCRA 336, Justice J.P. Bengzon readily
reversed the decision of the lower court granting the writs of
mandamus and prohibition against the Commissioner of
Immigration, considering that Austria's wife, while admitting she
did not possess all the qualifications for naturalization, had
submitted only an affidavit that she had none of the
disqualifications therefor. So also did Justice Dizon similarly hold
eight days later in Brito v. Commissioner, G.R. No. L-16829, June
30, 1965, 14 SCRA 539.

90
Then came the second Ly Giok Ha case 8 wherein Justice J. B. L.
Reyes took occasion to expand on the reasoning of Choy King Tee
by illustrating with examples "the danger of relying exclusively on
the absence of disqualifications, without taking into account the
other affirmative requirements of the law." 9
Lastly, in Go Im Ty v. Republic, G.R. No. L-17919, decided on July
30, 1966, 10 Justice Zaldivar held for the Court that an alien
woman who is widowed during the dependency of the
naturalization proceedings of her husband, in order that she may
be allowed to take the oath as Filipino, must, aside from proving
compliance with the requirements of Republic Act 530, show that
she possesses all the qualifications and does not suffer from any
of the disqualifications under the Naturalization Law, citing in the
process the decision to such effect discussed above, 11 even as he
impliedly reversed pro tanto the ruling in Tan Lin v. Republic, G.R.
No. L-13786, May 31, 1961, 2 SCRA 383.
Accordingly, in Burca, Justice Sanchez premised his opinion on the
assumption that the point now under discussion is settled law.
In the case now at bar, the Court is again called upon to rule on
the same issue. Under Section 15 of the Naturalization Law,
Commonwealth Act 473, providing that:
SEC. 15. Effect of the naturalization on wife and children.
Any woman, who is now or may hereafter be married
to a citizen of the Philippines, and who might herself be
lawfully naturalized shall be deemed a citizen of the
Philippines.
Minor children of persons naturalized under this law who
have been born in the Philippines shall be considered
citizens thereof.
A foreign-born minor child, if dwelling in the Philippines
at the time of the naturalization of the parent, shall

91
automatically become a Philippine citizen, and a foreign-
born child, who is not in the Philippines at the time the
parent is naturalized, shall be deemed a Philippine citizen
only during his minority, unless he begins to reside
permanently in the Philippines when still a minor, in
which case, he will continue to be a Philippine citizen
even after becoming of age.
A child born outside of the Philippines after the
naturalization of his parent, shall be considered a
Philippine citizen unless within one year after reaching
the age of majority he fails to register himself as a
Philippine citizen at the American Consulate of the
country where he resides, and to take the necessary oath
of allegiance.
is it necessary, in order that an alien woman who marries a
Filipino or who is married to a man who subsequently becomes a
Filipino, may become a Filipino citizen herself, that, aside from not
suffering from any of the disqualifications enumerated in the law,
she must also possess all the qualifications required by said law? if
nothing but the unbroken line from Lee Suan Ay to Go Im Ty, as
recounted above, were to be considered, it is obvious that an
affirmative answer to the question would be inevitable, specially,
if it is noted that the present case was actually submitted for
decision on January 21, 1964 yet, shortly after Lo San Tuang, Tong
Siok Sy and Sun Peck Yong, all supra, and even before Choy King
Tee, supra, were decided. There are other circumstances,
however, which make it desirable, if not necessary, that the Court
take up the matter anew. There has been a substantial change in
the membership of the Court since Go Im Ty, and of those who
were in the Court already when Burca was decided, two
members, Justice Makalintal and Castro concurred only in the
result, precisely, according to them, because (they wanted to
leave the point now under discussion open in so far as they are
concerned. 12 Truth to tell, the views and arguments discussed at
92
length with copious relevant authorities, in the motion for
reconsideration as well as in the memorandum of the amici
curae 13 in the Burca case cannot just be taken lightly and
summarily ignored, since they project in the most forceful
manner, not only the legal and logical angles of the issue, but also
the imperative practical aspects thereof in the light of the actual
situation of the thousands of alien wives of Filipinos who have so
long, even decades, considered themselves as Filipinas and have
always lived and acted as such, officially or otherwise, relying on
the long standing continuous recognition of their status as such by
the administrative authorities in charge of the matter, as well as
by the courts. Under these circumstances, and if only to afford the
Court an opportunity to consider the views of the five justices
who took no part in Go Im Ty (including the writer of this opinion),
the Court decided to further reexamine the matter. After all, the
ruling first laid in Lee Suan Ay, and later in Lo San Tuang, Choy
King Tee stand the second (1966) Ly Giok Ha, did not categorically
repudiate the opinions of the Secretary of Justice relied upon by
the first (1959) Ly Giok Ha. Besides, some points brought to light
during the deliberations in this case would seem to indicate that
the premises of the later cases can still bear further consideration.
Whether We like it or not, it is undeniably factual that the legal
provision We are construing, Section 15, aforequoted, of the
Naturalization Law has been taken directly, copied and adopted
from its American counterpart. To be more accurate, said
provision is nothing less than a reenactment of the American
provision. A brief review of its history proves this beyond per
adventure of doubt.
The first Naturalization Law of the Philippines approved by the
Philippine Legislature under American sovereignty was that of
March 26, 1920, Act No. 2927. Before then, as a consequence of
the Treaty of Paris, our citizenship laws were found only in the
Organic Laws, the Philippine Bill of 1902, the Act of the United
States Congress of March 23, 1912 and later the Jones Law of
93
1916. In fact, Act No. 2927 was enacted pursuant to express
authority granted by the Jones Law. For obvious reasons, the
Philippines gained autonomy on the subjects of citizenship and
immigration only after the effectivity of the Philippine
Independence Act. This made it practically impossible for our laws
on said subject to have any perspective or orientation of our own;
everything was American.
The Philippine Bill of 1902 provided pertinently: .
SECTION 4. That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands
continuing to reside herein who were Spanish subjects
on the eleventh day of April, eighteen-hundred and
ninety-nine, and then resided in said Islands, and their
children born subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and
held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands and as such
entitled to the protection of the United States, except
such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to
the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of
the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain
signed at Paris December tenth, eighteen hundred and
ninety-eight.
This Section 4 of the Philippine Bill of 1902 was amended by Act of
Congress of March 23, 1912, by adding a provision as follows:
Provided, That the Philippine Legislature is hereby
authorized to provide by law for the acquisition of
Philippine citizenship by those natives of the Philippine
Islands who do not come within the foregoing provisions,
the natives of other insular possessions of the United
States, and such other persons residing in the Philippine
Islands who would become citizens of the United States,
under the laws of the United States, if residing therein.
The Jones Law reenacted these provisions substantially: .

94
SECTION 2. That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands
who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April,
eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in
said islands, and their children born subsequent thereto,
shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine
Islands, except such as shall have elected to preserve
their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with
the provisions of the treaty of peace between the United
States and Spain, signed at Paris December tenth,
eighteen hundred and ninety-eight and except such
others as have since become citizens of some other
country: Provided, That the Philippine Legislature, herein
provided for, is hereby authorized to provide by law for
the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those natives
of the Philippine Islands who do not come within the
foregoing provisions, the natives of the insular
possessions of the United States, and such other persons
residing in the Philippine Islands who are citizens of the
United States under the laws of the United States if
residing therein.
For aught that appears, there was nothing in any of the said
organic laws regarding the effect of marriage to a Filipino upon
the nationality of an alien woman, albeit under the Spanish Civil
Code provisions on citizenship, Articles 17 to 27, which were,
however, abrogated upon the change of sovereignty, it was
unquestionable that the citizenship of the wife always followed
that of the husband. Not even Act 2927 contained any provision
regarding the effect of naturalization of an alien, upon the
citizenship of his alien wife, nor of the marriage of such alien
woman with a native born Filipino or one who had become a
Filipino before the marriage, although Section 13 thereof
provided thus: .
SEC. 13. Right of widow and children of petitioners who
have died. In case a petitioner should die before the
95
final decision has been rendered, his widow and minor
children may continue the proceedings. The decision
rendered in the case shall, so far as the widow and minor
children are concerned, produce the same legal effect as
if it had been rendered during the life of the petitioner.
It was not until November 30, 1928, upon the approval of Act
3448, amending Act 2977, that the following provisions were
added to the above Section 13:
SECTION 1. The following new sections are hereby
inserted between sections thirteen and fourteen of Act
Numbered Twenty-nine hundred and Twenty-seven:
SEC. 13(a). Any woman who is now or may
hereafter be married to a citizen of the
Philippine Islands and who might herself be
lawfully naturalized, shall be deemed a citizen of
the Philippine Islands.
SEC. 13(b). Children of persons who have been
duly naturalized under this law, being under the
age of twenty-one years at the time of the
naturalization of their parents, shall, if dwelling
in the Philippine Islands, be considered citizens
thereof.
SEC. 13(c). Children of persons naturalized
under this law who have been born in the
Philippine Islands after the naturalization of
their parents shall be considered citizens
thereof.
When Commonwealth Act 473, the current naturalization law,
was enacted on June 17, 1939, the above Section 13 became its
Section 15 which has already been quoted earlier in this decision.
As can be seen, Section 13 (a) abovequoted was re-enacted

96
practically word for word in the first paragraph of this Section 15
except for the change of Philippine Islands to Philippines. And it
could not have been on any other basis than this legislative
history of our naturalization law that each and everyone of the
decisions of this Court from the first Ly Giok Ha to Go Im Ty,
discussed above, were rendered.
As stated earlier, in the opinion of Chief Justice Concepcion in the
first Ly Giok Ha, it was quite clear that for an alien woman who
marries a Filipino to become herself a Filipino citizen, there is no
need for any naturalization proceeding because she becomes a
Filipina ipso facto from the time of such marriage, provided she
does not suffer any of the disqualifications enumerated in Section
4 of Commonwealth Act 473, with no mention being made of
whether or not the qualifications enumerated in Section 2 thereof
need be shown. It was only in Lee Suan Ay in 1959 that the
possession of qualifications were specifically required, but it was
not until 1963, in Lo San Tuang, that Justice Regala reasoned out
why the possession of the qualifications provided by the law
should also be shown to be possessed by the alien wife of a
Filipino, for her to become a Filipina by marriage.
As may be recalled, the basic argument advanced by Justice
Regala was briefly as follows: That "like the law in the United
States, our Naturalization Law specified the classes of persons
who alone might become citizens, even as it provided who were
disqualified," and inasmuch as Commonwealth Act 473, our
Naturalization Law since 1939 did not reenact the section
providing who might become citizens, allegedly in order to
remove racial discrimination in favor of Caucasians and against
Asiatics, "the only logical deduction ... is that the phrase "who
might herself be lawfully naturalized" must now be understood as
referring to those who under Section 2 of the law are qualified to
become citizens of the Philippines" and "there is simply no
support for the view that the phrase "who might herself be
lawfully naturalized" must now be understood as requiring merely
97
that the alien woman must not belong to the class of disqualified
persons under Section 4 of the Revised Naturalization Law." 14
A similar line of reasoning was followed in Choy King Tee, which
for ready reference may be qouted:
The question has been settled by the uniform ruling of
this Court in a number of cases. The alien wife of a
Filipino citizen must first prove that she has all the
qualifications required by Section 2 and none of the
disqualifications enumerated in Section 4 of the
Naturalization Law before she may be deemed a
Philippine citizen (Lao Chay v. Galang, L-190977, Oct. 30,
1964, citing Lo San Tuang v. Galang, L-18775, Nov. 30,
1963; Sun Peck Yong v. Commissioner of Immigration, L-
20784, December 27, 1963; Tong Siok Sy v. Vivo, L-
21136, December 27, 1963). The writer of this opinion
has submitted the question anew to the court for a
possible reexamination of the said ruling in the light of
the interpretation of a similar law in the United States
after which Section 15 of our Naturalization Law was
patterned. That law was section 2 of the Act of February
10, 1855 (Section 1994 of the Revised Statutes of the
U.S.). The local law, Act No. 3448, was passed on
November 30, 1928 as an amendment to the former
Philippine Naturalization Law, Act No. 2927, which was
approved on March 26, 1920. Under this Naturalization
Law, acquisition of Philippine citizenship was limited to
three classes of persons, (a) Natives of the Philippines
who were not citizens thereof; (b) natives of the other
insular possessions of the United States; and (c) citizens
of the United States, or foreigners who, under the laws
of the United States, may become citizens of the latter
country if residing therein. The reference in subdivision
(c) to foreigners who may become American Citizens is
restrictive in character, for only persons of certain
98
specified races were qualified thereunder. In other
words, in so far as racial restrictions were concerned
there was at the time a similarity between the
naturalization laws of the two countries and hence there
was reason to accord here persuasive force to the
interpretation given in the United States to the statutory
provision concerning the citizenship of alien women
marrying American citizens.
This Court, however, believes that such reason has
ceased to exist since the enactment of the Revised
Naturalization Law, (Commonwealth Act No. 473) on
June 17, 1939. The racial restrictions have been
eliminated in this Act, but the provision found in Act No.
3448 has been maintained. It is logical to presume that
when Congress chose to retain the said provision that
to be deemed a Philippine citizen upon marriage the
alien wife must be one "who might herself be lawfully
naturalized," the reference is no longer to the class or
race to which the woman belongs, for class or race has
become immaterial, but to the qualifications and
disqualifications for naturalization as enumerated in
Sections 2 and 4 of the statute. Otherwise the
requirement that the woman "might herself be lawfully
naturalized" would be meaningless surplusage, contrary
to settled norms of statutory construction.
The rule laid down by this Court in this and in other cases
heretofore decided is believed to be in line with the
national policy of selective admission to Philippine
citizenship, which after all is a privilege granted only to
those who are found worthy thereof, and not
indiscriminately to anybody at all on the basis alone of
marriage to a man who is a citizen of the Philippines,
irrespective of moral character, ideological beliefs, and
identification with Filipino ideals, customs and traditions.
99
Appellee here having failed to prove that she has all the
qualifications for naturalization, even, indeed, that she
has none of the disqualifications, she is not entitled to
recognition as a Philippine citizen.
In the second Ly Giok Ha, the Court further fortified the
arguments in favor of the same conclusion thus:
On cross-examination, she (Ly Giok Ha) failed to establish
that: (1) she has been residing in the Philippines for a
continuous period of at least (10) years (p. 27, t.s.n., id.);
(2) she has a lucrative trade, profession, or lawful
occupation (p. 13, t.s.n., id.); and (3) she can speak and
write English, or any of the principal Philippine languages
(pp. 12, 13, t.s.n., id.).
While the appellant Immigration Commissioner contends
that the words emphasized indicate that the present
Naturalization Law requires that an alien woman who
marries a Filipino husband must possess the
qualifications prescribed by section 2 in addition to not
being disqualified under any of the eight ("a" to "h")
subheadings of section 4 of Commonwealth Act No. 473,
in order to claim our citizenship by marriage, both the
appellee and the court below (in its second decision)
sustain the view that all that the law demands is that the
woman be not disqualified under section 4.
At the time the present case was remanded to the court
of origin (1960) the question at issue could be regarded
as not conclusively settled, there being only the concise
pronouncement in Lee Suan Ay, et al. v. Galang, G. R. No.
L-11855, Dec. 23, 1959, to the effect that:
The marriage of a Filipino citizen to an alien
does not automatically confer Philippine
citizenship upon the latter. She must possess
100
the qualifications required by law to become a
Filipino citizen by naturalization.
Since that time, however, a long line of decisions of this
Court has firmly established the rule that the
requirement of section 15 of Commonwealth Act 473
(the Naturalization Act), that an alien woman married to
a citizen should be one who "might herself be lawfully
naturalized," means not only woman free from the
disqualifications enumerated in section 4 of the Act but
also one who possesses the qualifications prescribed by
section 2 of Commonwealth Act 473 (San Tuan v. Galang,
L-18775, Nov. 30, 1963; Sun Peck Yong v. Com. of
Immigration, L-20784, Dee. 27, 1963; Tong Siok Sy v.
Vivo, L-21136, Dec. 27, 1963; Austria v. Conchu, L-20716,
June 22, 1965; Choy King Tee v. Galang, L-18351, March
26, 1965; Brito v. Com. of Immigration, L-16829, June 30,
1965).
Reflection will reveal why this must be so. The
qualifications prescribed under section 2 of the
Naturalization Act, and the disqualifications enumerated
in its section 4 are not mutually exclusive; and if all that
were to be required is that the wife of a Filipino be not
disqualified under section 4, the result might well be that
citizenship would be conferred upon persons in violation
of the policy of the statute. For example, section 4
disqualifies only
(c) Polygamists or believers in the practice of polygamy;
and
(d) Persons convicted of crimes involving moral
turpitude,
so that a blackmailer, or a maintainer of gambling or
bawdy houses, not previously convicted by a competent
101
court would not be thereby disqualified; still, it is certain
that the law did not intend such person to be admitted
as a citizen in view of the requirement of section 2 that
an applicant for citizenship "must be of good moral
character."
Similarly, the citizen's wife might be a convinced believer
in racial supremacy, in government by certain selected
classes, in the right to vote exclusively by certain
"herrenvolk", and thus disbelieve in the principles
underlying the Philippine Constitution; yet she would not
be disqualified under section 4, as long as she is not
"opposed to organized government," nor affiliated to
groups "upholding or teaching doctrines opposing all
organized governments", nor "defending or teaching the
necessity or propriety of violence, personal assault or
assassination for the success or predominance of their
ideas." Et sic de caeteris.
The foregoing instances should suffice to illustrate the
danger of relying exclusively on the absence of
disqualifications, without taking into account the other
affirmative requirements of the law, which, in the case at
bar, the appellee Ly Giok Ha admittedly does not possess.
As to the argument that the phrase "might herself be
lawfully naturalized" was derived from the U.S. Revised
Statutes (section 1994) and should be given the same
territorial and racial significance given to it by American
courts, this Court has rejected the same in Lon San Tuang
v. Galang, L-18775, November 30, 1963; and in Choy King
Tee v. Galang, L-18351, March 26, 1965.
It is difficult to minimize the persuasive force of the foregoing
rationalizations, but a closer study thereof cannot bat reveal
certain relevant considerations which adversely affect the

102
premises on which they are predicated, thus rendering the
conclusions arrived thereby not entirely unassailable.
1. The main proposition, for instance, that in eliminating Section 1
of Act 2927 providing who are eligible for Philippine citizenship,
the purpose of Commonwealth Act 473, the Revised
Naturalization Law, was to remove the racial requirements for
naturalization, thereby opening the door of Filipino nationality to
Asiatics instead of allowing the admission thereto of Caucasians
only, suffers from lack of exact accuracy. It is important to note,
to start with, that Commonwealth Act 473 did away with the
whole Section 1 of Act 2927 which reads, thus:
SECTION 1. Who may become Philippine citizens.
Philippine citizenship may be acquired by: (a) natives of
the Philippines who are not citizens thereof under the
Jones Law; (b) natives of the other Insular possessions of
the United States; (c) citizens of the United States, or
foreigners who under the laws of the United States may
become citizens of said country if residing therein.
and not only subdivision (c) thereof. Nowhere in this whole
provision was there any mention of race or color of the persons
who were then eligible for Philippine citizenship. What is more
evident from said provision is that it reflected the inevitable
subordination of our legislation during the pre-Commonwealth
American regime to the understandable stations flowing from our
staffs as a territory of the United States by virtue of the Treaty of
Paris. In fact, Section 1 of Act 2927 was precisely approved
pursuant to express authority without which it could not have
been done, granted by an amendment to Section 4 of the
Philippine Bill of 1902 introduced by the Act of the United States
Congress of March 23, 1912 and which was reenacted as part of
the Jones Law of 1916, the pertinent provisions of which have
already been footed earlier. In truth, therefore, it was because of
the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth and in the
103
exercise of our legislative autonomy on citizenship matters under
the Philippine Independence Act that Section 1 of Act 2927 was
eliminated, 15 and not purposely to eliminate any racial
discrimination contained in our Naturalization Law. The Philippine
Legislature naturally wished to free our Naturalization Law from
the impositions of American legislation. In other words, the fact
that such discrimination was removed was one of the effects
rather than the intended purpose of the amendment.
2. Again, the statement in Choy King Tee to the effect that "the
reference in subdivision (c) (of Section 1 of Act 2927) to foreigners
who may become American citizens is restrictive in character, for
only persons of certain specified races were qualified thereunder"
fails to consider the exact import of the said subdivision. Explicitly,
the thrust of the said subdivision was to confine the grant under it
of Philippine citizenship only to the three classes of persons
therein mentioned, the third of which were citizens of the United
States and, corollarily, persons who could be American citizens
under her laws. The words used in the provision do not convey
any idea of favoring aliens of any particular race or color and of
excluding others, but more accurately, they refer to all the
disqualifications of foreigners for American citizenship under the
laws of the United States. The fact is that even as of 1906, or long
before 1920, when our Act 2927 became a law, the naturalization,
laws of the United States already provided for the following
disqualifications in the Act of the Congress of June 29, 1906:
SEC. 7. That no person who disbelieves in or who is
opposed to organized government, or who is a member
of or affiliated with any organization entertaining and
teaching such disbelief in or opposition to organized
government, or who advocates or teaches the duty,
necessity, or propriety of the unlawful assaulting or
killing of any officer or officers, either of specific
individuals or of officers generally, of the Government of
the United States, or of any other organized government,
104
because of his or their official character, or who is a
polygamist, shall be naturalized or be made a citizen of
the United States.
and all these disqualified persons were, therefore, ineligible for
Philippine citizenship under Section 1 of Act 2927 even if they
happened to be Caucasians. More importantly, as a matter of fact,
said American law, which was the first "Act to Establish a Bureau
of Immigration and Naturalization and to provide for a Uniform
Rule for Naturalization of Aliens throughout the United States"
contained no racial disqualification requirement, except as to
Chinese, the Act of May 6, 1882 not being among the expressly
repealed by this law, hence it is clear that when Act 2927 was
enacted, subdivision (e) of its Section 1 could not have had any
connotation of racial exclusion necessarily, even if it were traced
back to its origin in the Act of the United States Congress of 1912
already mentioned above. 16 Thus, it would seem that the
rationalization in the qouted decisions predicated on the theory
that the elimination of Section 1 of Act 2927 by Commonwealth
Act 473 was purposely for no other end than the abolition of
racial discrimination in our naturalization law has no clear factual
basis. 17
3. In view of these considerations, there appears to be no cogent
reason why the construction adopted in the opinions of the
Secretary of Justice referred to in the first Ly Giok Ha decision of
the Chief Justice should not prevail. It is beyond dispute that the
first paragraph of Section 15 of Commonwealth Act 473 is a
reenactment of Section 13(a) of Act 2927, as amended by Act
3448, and that the latter is nothing but an exact copy, deliberately
made, of Section 1994 of the Raised Statutes of the United States
as it stood before its repeal in 1922. 18 Before such repeal, the
phrase "who might herself be lawfully naturalized" found in said
Section 15 had a definite unmistakable construction uniformly
foIlowed in all courts of the United States that had occasion to
apply the same and which, therefore, must be considered, as if it
105
were written in the statute itself. It is almost trite to say that
when our legislators enacted said section, they knew of its
unvarying construction in the United States and that, therefore, in
adopting verbatim the American statute, they have in effect
incorporated into the provision, as thus enacted, the construction
given to it by the American courts as well as the Attorney General
of the United States and all administrative authorities, charged
with the implementation of the naturalization and immigration
laws of that country. (Lo Cham v. Ocampo, 77 Phil., 635 [1946];
Laxamana v. Baltazar, 92 Phil., 32 [1952]; Hartley v.
Commissioner, 295 U.S. 216, 79 L. ed. 1399, 55 S Ct. 756 [19353;
Helvering v. Winmill, 305 U.S. 79, 83 L ed. 52, 59 S Ct. 45 [1938];
Helvering v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 306 U.S. 110, 83 L ed. 536,
59 S Ct. 423 [1939]. [p. 32, Memo of Amicus Curiae]).
A fairly comprehensive summary of the said construction by the
American courts and administrative authorities is contained in
United States of America ex rel. Dora Sejnensky v. Robert E. Tod,
Commissioner of Immigration, Appt., 295 Fed. 523, decided
November 14, 1922, 26 A. L. R. 1316 as follows:
Section 1994 of the Revised Statutes (Comp. Stat. 3948, 2
Fed. Sta. Anno. 2d ed. p. 117) provides as follows: "Any
woman who is now or may hereafter be married to a
citizen of the United States, and who might herself be
lawfully naturalized, shall be deemed a citizen."
Section 1944 of the Revised Stat. is said to originate in
the Act of Congress of February 10, 1855 (10 Stat. at L.
604, chap. 71), which in its second section provided "that
any woman, who might lawfully be naturalized under the
existing laws, married, or who shall be married to a
citizen of the United States, shall be deemed and taken
to be a citizen."
And the American Statute of 1855 is substantially a copy
of the earlier British Statute 7 & 8 Vict. chap. 66, s 16,
106
1844, which provided that "any woman married, or who
shall be married, to a natural-born subject or person
naturalized, shall be deemed and taken to be herself
naturalized, and have all the rights and privileges of a
natural born subject."
The Act of Congress of September 22, 1922 (42 Stat. at L.
1021, chap. 411, Comp. Stat. 4358b, Fed. Stat. Anno.
Supp. 1922, p. 255), being "An Act Relative to the
Naturalization and Citizenship of Married Women," in 2,
provides "that any woman who marries a citizen of the
United States after the passage of this Act, ... shall not
become a citizen of the United States by reason of such
marriage ..."
Section 6 of the act also provides "that 1994 of the
Revised Statutes ... are repealed."
Section 6 also provides that `such repeal shall not
terminate citizenship acquired or retained under either
of such sections, ..." meaning 2 and 6. So that this Act of
September 22, 1922, has no application to the facts of
the present case, as the marriage of the relator took
place prior to its passage. This case, therefore, depends
upon the meaning to be attached to 1994 of the Revised
Statutes.
In 1868 the Supreme Court, in Kelly v. Owen, 7 Wall. 496,
498, 19 L. ed. 283, 284, construed this provision as found
in the Act of 1855 as follows: "The term, "who might
lawfully be naturalized under the existing laws," only
limits the application of the law to free white women.
The previous Naturalization Act, existing at the time, only
required that the person applying for its benefits should
be "a free white person," and not an alien enemy."

107
This construction limited the effect of the statute to
those aliens who belonged to the class or race which
might be lawfully naturalized, and did not refer to any of
the other provisions of the naturalization laws as to
residence or moral character, or to any of the provisions
of the immigration laws relating to the exclusion or
deportation of aliens.
In 1880, in Leonard v. Grant (C. C.) 5 Fed. 11, District
Judge Deady also construed the Act of 1855, declaring
that "any woman who is now or may hereafter be
married to a citizen of the United States, and might
herself be lawfully naturalized, shall be deemed a
citizen." He held that "upon the authorities, and the
reason, if not the necessity, of the case," the statute
must be construed as in effect declaring that an alien
woman, who is of the class or race that may be lawfully
naturalized under the existing laws, and who marries a
citizen of the United States, is such a citizen also, and it
was not necessary that it should appear affirmatively
that she possessed the other qualifications at the time of
her marriage to entitle her to naturalization.
In 1882, the Act of 1855 came before Mr. Justice Harlan,
sitting in the circuit court, in United States v. Kellar, 13
Fed. 82. An alien woman, a subject of Prussia came to the
United States and married here a naturalized citizen. Mr.
Justice Harlan, with the concurrence of Judge Treat, held
that upon her marriage she became ipso facto a citizen of
the United States as fully as if she had complied with all
of the provisions of the statutes upon the subject of
naturalization. He added: "There can be no doubt of this,
in view of the decision of the Supreme Court of the
United, States in Kelly v. Owen, 7 Wall. 496, 19 L. ed.
283." The alien "belonged to the class of persons" who
might be lawfully naturalized.
108
In 1904, in Hopkins v. Fachant, 65 C. C. A. 1, 130 Fed. 839,
an alien woman came to the United States from France
and entered the country contrary to the immigration
laws. The immigration authorities took her into custody
at the port of New York, with the view of deporting her.
She applied for her release under a writ of habeas
corpus, and pending the disposition of the matter she
married a naturalized American citizen. The circuit court
of appeals for the ninth Circuit held, affirming the court
below, that she was entitled to be discharged from
custody. The court declared: "The rule is well settled that
her marriage to a naturalized citizen of the United States
entitled her to be discharged. The status of the wife
follows that of her husband, ... and by virtue of her
marriage her husband's domicil became her domicil." .
In 1908, the circuit court for the district of Rhode Island
in Re Rustigian, 165. Fed. 980, had before it the
application of a husband for his final decree of
naturalization. It appeared that at that time his wife was
held by the immigration authorities at New York on the
ground that she was afflicted with a dangerous and
contagious disease. Counsel on both sides agreed that
the effect of the husband's naturalization would be to
confer citizenship upon the wife. In view of that
contingency District Judge Brown declined to pass upon
the husband's application for naturalization, and thought
it best to wait until it was determined whether the wife's
disease was curable. He placed his failure to act on the
express ground that the effect of naturalizing the
husband might naturalize her. At the same time he
express his opinion that the husband's naturalization
would not effect her naturalization, as she was not one
who could become lawfully naturalized. "Her own
capacity (to become naturalized)," the court stated "is a
109
prerequisite to her attaining citizenship. If herself lacking
in that capacity, the married status cannot confer it upon
her." Nothing, however, was actually decided in that
case, and the views expressed therein are really nothing
more than mere dicta. But, if they can be regarded as
something more than that, we find ourselves, with all
due respect for the learned judge, unable to accept
them.
In 1909, in United States ex rel. Nicola v. Williams, 173
Fed. 626, District Judge Learned Hand held that an alien
woman, a subject of the Turkish Empire, who married an
American citizen while visiting Turkey, and then came to
the United States, could not be excluded, although she
had, at the time of her entry, a disease which under the
immigration laws would have been sufficient ground for
her exclusion, if she bad not had the status of a citizen.
The case was brought into this court on appeal, and in
1911 was affirmed, in 106 C. C. A. 464, 184 Fed. 322. In
that case, however at the time the relators married, they
might have been lawfully naturalized, and we said: "Even
if we assume the contention of the district attorney to be
correct that marriage will not make a citizen of a woman
who would be excluded under our immigration laws, it
does not affect these relators."
We held that, being citizens, they could not be excluded
as aliens; and it was also said to be inconsistent with the
policy of our law that the husband should be a citizen
and the wife an alien. The distinction between that case
and the one now before the court is that, in the former
case, the marriage took place before any order of
exclusion had been made, while in this the marriage was
celebrated after such an order was made. But such an
order is a mere administrative provision, and has not the
force of a judgment of a court, and works no estoppel.
110
The administrative order is based on the circumstances
that existed at the time the order of exclusion was made.
If the circumstances change prior to the order being
carried into effect, it cannot be executed. For example, if
an order of exclusion should be based on the ground that
the alien was at the time afflicted with a contagious
disease, and it should be made satisfactorily to appear,
prior to actual deportation, that the alien had entirely
recovered from the disease, we think it plain that the
order could not be carried into effect. So, in this case, if,
after the making of the order of exclusion and while she
is permitted temporarily to remain, she in good faith
marries an American citizen, we cannot doubt the
validity of her marriage, and that she thereby acquired,
under international law and under 1994 of the Revised
Statutes, American citizenship, and ceased to be an alien.
There upon, the immigration authorities lost their
jurisdiction over her, as that jurisdiction applies only to
aliens, and not to citizens.
In 1910, District Judge Dodge, in Ex parte Kaprielian, 188
Fed. 694, sustained the right of the officials to deport a
woman under the following circumstances: She entered
this country in July, 1910, being an alien and having been
born in Turkey. She was taken into custody by the
immigration authorities in the following September, and
in October a warrant for her deportation was issued.
Pending hearings as to the validity of that order, she was
paroled in the custody of her counsel. The ground alleged
for her deportation was that she was afflicted with a
dangerous and contagious disease at the time of her
entry. One of the reasons assigned to defeat deportation
was that the woman had married a citizen of the United
States pending the proceedings for her deportation.
Judge Dodge declared himself unable to believe that a
111
marriage under such circumstances "is capable of having
the effect claimed, in view of the facts shown." He held
that it was no part of the intended policy of 1994 to
annul or override the immigration laws, so as to
authorize the admission into the country of the wife of a
naturalized alien not otherwise entitled to enter, and
that an alien woman, who is of a class of persons
excluded by law from admission to the United States
does not come within the provisions of that section. The
court relied wholly upon the dicta contained in the
Rustigian Case. No other authorities were cited.
In 1914, District Judge Neterer, in Ex parte Grayson, 215
Fed. 449, construed 1994 and held that where, pending
proceedings to deport an alien native of France as an
alien prostitute, she was married to a citizen of the
United States, she thereby became a citizen, and was not
subject to deportation until her citizenship was revoked
by due process of law. It was his opinion that if, as was
contended, her marriage was conceived in fraud, and
was entered into for the purpose of evading the
immigration laws and preventing her deportation, such
fact should be established in a court of competent
jurisdiction in an action commenced for the purpose. The
case was appealed and the appeal was dismissed. 134 C.
C. A. 666, 219 Fed. 1022.
It is interesting also to observe the construction placed
upon the language of the statute by the Department of
Justice. In 1874, Attorney General Williams, 14 Ops. Atty.
Gen. 402, passing upon the Act of February 10, 1855,
held that residence within the United States for the
period required by the naturalization laws was riot
necessary in order to constitute an alien woman a
citizen, she having married a citizen of the United States
abroad, although she never resided in the United States,
112
she and her husband having continued to reside abroad
after the marriage.
In 1909, a similar construction was given to the
Immigration Act of May 5, 1907, in an opinion rendered
by Attorney General Wickersham. It appeared an
unmarried woman, twenty-eight years of age and a
native of Belgium, arrived in New York and went at once
to a town in Nebraska, where she continued to reside.
About fifteen months after her arrival she was taken
before a United States commissioner by way of
instituting proceedings under the Immigration Act (34
Stat. at L. 898, chap. 1134, Comp. Stat. 4242, 3 Fed. Stat.
Anno. 2d ed. p. 637) for her deportation, on the ground
that she had entered this country for the purpose of
prostitution, and had been found an inmate of a house of
prostitution and practicing the same within three years
after landing. It appeared, however, that after she was
taken before the United States commissioner, but prior
to her arrest under a warrant by the Department of
Justice, she was lawfully married to a native-born citizen
of the United States. The woman professed at the time of
her marriage an intention to abandon her previous mode
of life and to remove with her husband to his home in
Pennsylvania. He knew what her mode of life had been,
but professed to believe in her good intentions. The
question was raised as to the right to deport her, the
claim being advance that by her marriage she bad
become an American citizen and therefore could not be
deported. The Attorney General ruled against the right to
deport her as she had become an American citizen. He
held that the words, "who might herself be lawfully
naturalized," refer to a class or race who might be
lawfully naturalized, and that compliance with the other

113
conditions of the naturalization laws was not required.
27 Ops. Atty. Gen. 507.
Before concluding this opinion, we may add that it has
not escaped our observation that Congress, in enacting
the Immigration Act of 1917, so as to provide, in 19, "that
the marriage to an American citizen of a female of the
sexually immoral classes ... shall not invest such female
with United States citizenship if the marriage of such
alien female shall be solemnized after her arrest or after
the commission of acts which make her liable to
deportation under this act."
Two conclusions seem irresistibly to follow from the
above change in the law:
(1) Congress deemed legislation essential to prevent
women of the immoral class avoiding deportation
through the device of marrying an American citizen.
(2) If Congress intended that the marriage of an
American citizen with an alien woman of any other of the
excluded classes, either before or after her detention,
should not confer upon her American citizenship,
thereby entitling her to enter the country, its intention
would have been expressed, and 19 would not have been
confined solely to women of the immoral class.
Indeed, We have examined all the leading American decisions on
the subject and We have found no warrant for the proposition
that the phrase "who might herself be lawfully naturalized" in
Section 1994 of the Revised Statutes was meant solely as a racial
bar, even if loose statements in some decisions and other treaties
and other writings on the subject would seem to give such
impression. The case of Kelley v. Owen, supra, which appears to
be the most cited among the first of the decisions 19 simply held:

114
As we construe this Act, it confers the privileges of
citizenship upon women married to citizens of the United
States, if they are of the class of persons for whose
naturalization the previous Acts of Congress provide. The
terms "married" or "who shall be married," do not refer
in our judgment, to the time when the ceremony of
marriage is celebrated, but to a state of marriage. They
mean that, whenever a woman, who under previous Acts
might be naturalized, is in a state of marriage to a citizen,
whether his citizenship existed at the passage of the Act
or subsequently, or before or after the marriage, she
becomes, by that fact, a citizen also. His citizenship,
whenever it exists, confers, under the Act, citizenship
upon her. The construction which would restrict the Act
to women whose husbands, at the time of marriage, are
citizens, would exclude far the greater number, for
whose benefit, as we think, the Act was intended. Its
object, in our opinion, was to allow her citizenship to
follow that of her husband, without the necessity of any
application for naturalization on her part; and, if this was
the object, there is no reason for the restriction
suggested.
The terms, "who might lawfully be naturalized under the
existing laws," only limit the application of the law to free
white women. The previous Naturalization Act, existing
at the time only required that the person applying for its
benefits should be "a free white person," and not an
alien enemy. Act of April 14th, 1802, 2 Stat. at L. 153.
A similar construction was given to the Act by the Court
of Appeals of New York, in Burton v. Burton, 40 N. Y. 373;
and is the one which gives the widest extension to its
provisions.

115
Note that write the court did say that "the terms, "who might
lawfully be naturalized under existing laws" only limit the
application to free white women" 20 it hastened to add that "the
previous Naturalization Act, existing at the time, ... required that
the person applying for its benefits should be (not only) a "free
white person" (but also) ... not an alien enemy." This is simply
because under the Naturalization Law of the United States at the
time the case was decided, the disqualification of enemy aliens
had already been removed by the Act of July 30, 1813, as may be
seen in the corresponding footnote hereof anon. In other words,
if in the case of Kelly v. Owen only the race requirement was
mentioned, the reason was that there was no other non-racial
requirement or no more alien enemy disqualification at the time;
and this is demonstrated by the fact that the court took care to
make it clear that under the previous naturalization law, there
was also such requirement in addition to race. This is impotent,
since as stated in re Rustigian, 165 Fed. Rep. 980, "The expression
used by Mr. Justice Field, (in Kelly v. Owen) the terms "who might
lawfully be naturalized under existing laws" only limit the
application of the law to free white women, must be interpreted
in the application to the special facts and to the incapacities under
the then existing laws," (at p. 982) meaning that whether or not
an alien wife marrying a citizen would be a citizen was dependent,
not only on her race and nothing more necessarily, but on
whether or not there were other disqualifications under the law
in force at the time of her marriage or the naturalization of her
husband.
4. As already stated, in Lo San Tuang, Choy King Tee and the
second Ly Giok Ha, the Court drew the evidence that because
Section 1 of Act 2927 was eliminated by Commonwealth Act 473,
it follows that in place of the said eliminated section particularly
its subdivision (c), being the criterion of whether or not an alien
wife "may be lawfully naturalized," what should be required is not
only that she must not be disqualified under Section 4 but that
116
she must also possess the qualifications enumerated in Section 2,
such as those of age, residence, good moral character, adherence
to the underlying principles of the Philippine Constitution,
irreproachable conduct, lucrative employment or ownership of
real estate, capacity to speak and write English or Spanish and one
of the principal local languages, education of children in certain
schools, etc., thereby implying that, in effect, sails Section 2 has
been purposely intended to take the place of Section 1 of Act
2927. Upon further consideration of the proper premises, We
have come, to the conclusion that such inference is not
sufficiently justified.
To begin with, nothing extant in the legislative history, which We
have already explained above of the mentioned provisions has
been shown or can be shown to indicate that such was the clear
intent of the legislature. Rather, what is definite is that Section 15
is, an exact copy of Section 1994 of the Revised Statutes of the
United States, which, at the time of the approval of
Commonwealth Act 473 had already a settled construction by
American courts and administrative authorities.
Secondly, as may be gleaned from the summary of pertinent
American decisions quoted above, there can be no doubt that in
the construction of the identically worded provision in the Revised
Statutes of the United States, (Section 1994, which was taken,
from the Act of February 10, 1855) all authorities in the United
States are unanimously agreed that the qualifications of
residence, good moral character, adherence to the Constitution,
etc. are not supposed to be considered, and that the only
eligibility to be taken into account is that of the race or class to
which the subject belongs, the conceptual scope of which, We
have just discussed. 21 In the very case of Leonard v. Grant, supra,
discussed by Justice Regala in Lo San Tuang, the explanation for
such posture of the American authorities was made thus:

117
The phrase, "shall be deemed a citizen" in section 1994
Rev. St., or as it was in the Act of 1855,supra, "shall be
deemed and taken to be a citizen" while it may imply
that the person to whom it relates has not actually
become a citizen by ordinary means or in the usual way,
as by the judgment of a competent court, upon a proper
application and proof, yet it does not follow that such
person is on that account practically any the less a
citizen. The word "deemed" is the equivalent of
"considered" or "judged"; and, therefore, whatever an
act of Congress requires to be "deemed" or "taken" as
true of any person or thing, must, in law, be considered
as having been duly adjudged or established concerning
"such person or thing, and have force and effect
accordingly. When, therefore, Congress declares that an
alien woman shall, under certain circumstances, be
"deemed' an American citizen, the effect when the
contingency occurs, is equivalent to her being naturalized
directly by an act of Congress, or in the usual mode
thereby prescribed.
Unless We disregard now the long settled familiar rule of
statutory construction that in a situation like this wherein our
legislature has copied an American statute word for word, it is
understood that the construction already given to such statute
before its being copied constitute part of our own law, there
seems to be no reason how We can give a different connotation
or meaning to the provision in question. At least, We have already
seen that the views sustaining the contrary conclusion appear to
be based on in accurate factual premises related to the real
legislative background of the framing of our naturalization law in
its present form.
Thirdly, the idea of equating the qualifications enumerated in
Section 2 of Commonwealth Act 473 with the eligibility
requirements of Section 1 of Act 2927 cannot bear close scrutiny
118
from any point of view. There is no question that Section 2 of
Commonwealth Act 473 is more or less substantially the same as
Section 3 of Act 2927. In other words, Section 1 of Act 2927 co-
existed already with practically the same provision as Section 2 of
Commonwealth Act 473. If it were true that the phrase "who may
be lawfully naturalized" in Section 13 (a) of Act 2927, as amended
by Act 3448, referred to the so-called racial requirement in
Section 1 of the same Act, without regard to the provisions of
Section 3 thereof, how could the elimination of Section 1 have the
effect of shifting the reference to Section 3, when precisely,
according to the American jurisprudence, which was prevailing at
the time Commonwealth Act 473 was approved, such
qualifications as were embodied in said Section 3, which had their
counterpart in the corresponding American statutes, are not
supposed to be taken into account and that what should be
considered only are the requirements similar to those provided
for in said Section 1 together with the disqualifications
enumerated in Section 4?
Fourthly, it is difficult to conceive that the phrase "who might be
lawfully naturalized" in Section 15 could have been intended to
convey a meaning different than that given to it by the American
courts and administrative authorities. As already stated, Act 3448
which contained said phrase and from which it was taken by
Commonwealth Act 473, was enacted in 1928. By that, time,
Section 1994 of the Revised Statutes of the United States was no
longer in force because it had been repealed expressly the Act of
September 22, 1922 which did away with the automatic
naturalization of alien wives of American citizens and required,
instead, that they submit to regular naturalization proceedings,
albeit under more liberal terms than those of other applicants. In
other words, when our legislature adopted the phrase in
question, which, as already demonstrated, had a definite
construction in American law, the Americans had already
abandoned said phraseology in favor of a categorical compulsion
119
for alien wives to be natural judicially. Simple logic would seem to
dictate that, since our lawmakers, at the time of the approval of
Act 3448, had two choices, one to adopt the phraseology of
Section 1994 with its settled construction and the other to follow
the new posture of the Americans of requiring judicial
naturalization and it appears that they have opted for the first,
We have no alternative but to conclude that our law still follows
the old or previous American Law On the subject. Indeed, when
Commonwealth Act 473 was approved in 1939, the Philippine
Legislature, already autonomous then from the American
Congress, had a clearer chance to disregard the old American law
and make one of our own, or, at least, follow the trend of the Act
of the U.S. Congress of 1922, but still, our legislators chose to
maintain the language of the old law. What then is significantly
important is not that the legislature maintained said phraseology
after Section 1 of Act 2927 was eliminated, but that it continued
insisting on using it even after the Americans had amended their
law in order to provide for what is now contended to be the
construction that should be given to the phrase in question.
Stated differently, had our legislature adopted a phrase from an
American statute before the American courts had given it a
construction which was acquiesced to by those given upon to
apply the same, it would be possible for Us to adopt a
construction here different from that of the Americans, but as
things stand, the fact is that our legislature borrowed the phrase
when there was already a settled construction thereof, and what
is more, it appears that our legislators even ignored the
modification of the American law and persisted in maintaining the
old phraseology. Under these circumstances, it would be in
defiance of reason and the principles of Statutory construction to
say that Section 15 has a nationalistic and selective orientation
and that it should be construed independently of the previous
American posture because of the difference of circumstances
here and in the United States. It is always safe to say that in the
construction of a statute, We cannot fall on possible judicial fiat or
120
perspective when the demonstrated legislative point of view
seems to indicate otherwise.
5. Viewing the matter from another angle, there is need to
emphasize that in reality and in effect, the so called racial
requirements, whether under the American laws or the Philippine
laws, have hardly been considered as qualifications in the same
sense as those enumerated in Section 3 of Act 2927 and later in
Section 2 of Commonwealth Act 473. More accurately, they have
always been considered as disqualifications, in the sense that
those who did not possess them were the ones who could not "be
lawfully naturalized," just as if they were suffering from any of the
disqualifications under Section 2 of Act 2927 and later those
under Section 4 of Commonwealth Act 473, which, incidentally,
are practically identical to those in the former law, except those in
paragraphs (f) and (h) of the latter. 22 Indeed, such is the clear
impression anyone will surely get after going over all the
American decisions and opinions quoted and/or cited in the latest
USCA (1970), Title 8, section 1430, pp. 598-602, and the first
decisions of this Court on the matter, Ly Giok Ha (1959) and
Ricardo Cua, citing with approval the opinions of the secretary of
Justice. 23 Such being the case, that is, that the so-called racial
requirements were always treated as disqualifications in the same
light as the other disqualifications under the law, why should their
elimination not be viewed or understood as a subtraction from or
a lessening of the disqualifications? Why should such elimination
have instead the meaning that what were previously considered
as irrelevant qualifications have become disqualifications, as
seems to be the import of the holding in Choy King Tee to the
effect that the retention in Section 15 of Commonwealth Act 473
of the same language of what used to be Section 13 (a) of Act
2927 (as amended by Act 3448), notwithstanding the elimination
of Section 1 of the latter, necessarily indicates that the legislature
had in mind making the phrase in question "who may be lawfully
naturalized" refer no longer to any racial disqualification but to
121
the qualification under Section 2 of Commonwealth Act 473?
Otherwise stated, under Act 2927, there were two groups of
persons that could not be naturalized, namely, those falling under
Section 1 and those falling under Section 2, and surely, the
elimination of one group, i.e. those belonging to Section 1, could
not have had, by any process of reasoning, the effect of
increasing, rather than decreasing, the disqualifications that used
to be before such elimination. We cannot see by what alchemy of
logic such elimination could have convicted qualifications into
disqualifications specially in the light of the fact that, after all,
these are disqualifications clearly set out as such in the law
distinctly and separately from qualifications and, as already
demonstrated, in American jurisprudence, qualifications had
never been considered to be of any relevance in determining
"who might be lawfully naturalized," as such phrase is used in the
statute governing the status of alien wives of American citizens,
and our law on the matter was merely copied verbatim from the
American statutes.
6. In addition to these arguments based on the applicable legal
provisions and judicial opinions, whether here or in the United
States, there are practical considerations that militate towards the
same conclusions. As aptly stated in the motion for
reconsideration of counsel for petitioner-appellee dated February
23, 1967, filed in the case ofZita Ngo Burca v. Republic, supra:
Unreasonableness of requiring alien wife to prove
"qualifications"
There is one practical consideration that strongly
militates against a construction that Section 15 of the law
requires that an alien wife of a Filipino must affirmatively
prove that she possesses the qualifications prescribed
under Section 2, before she may be deemed a citizen.
Such condition, if imposed upon an alien wife, becomes
unreasonably onerous and compliance therewith
122
manifestly difficult. The unreasonableness of such
requirement is shown by the following:
1. One of the qualifications required of an
Applicant for naturalization under Section 2 of
the law is that the applicant "must have resided
in the Philippines for a continuous period of not
less than ten years." If this requirement is
applied to an alien wife married to a Filipino
citizen, this means that for a period of ten years
at least, she cannot hope to acquire the
citizenship of her husband. If the wife happens
to be a citizen of a country whose law declares
that upon her marriage to a foreigner she
automatically loses her citizenship and acquires
the citizenship of her husband, this could mean
that for a period of ten years at least, she would
be stateless. And even after having acquired
continuous residence in the Philippines for ten
years, there is no guarantee that her petition for
naturalization will be granted, in which case she
would remain stateless for an indefinite period
of time.
2. Section 2 of the law likewise requires of the
applicant for naturalization that he "must own
real estate in the Philippines worth not less than
five thousand pesos, Philippine currency, or
must have some known lucrative trade,
profession, or lawful occupation." Considering
the constitutional prohibition against acquisition
by an alien of real estate except in cases of
hereditary succession (Art. XIII, Sec. 5,
Constitution), an alien wife desiring to acquire
the citizenship of her husband must have to
prove that she has a lucrative income derived
123
from a lawful trade, profession or occupation.
The income requirement has been interpreted
to mean that the petitioner herself must be the
one to possess the said income. (Uy v. Republic,
L-19578, Oct. 27, 1964; Tanpa Ong vs. Republic,
L-20605, June 30, 1965; Li Tong Pek v. Republic,
L-20912, November 29, 1965). In other words,
the wife must prove that she has a lucrative
income derived from sources other than her
husband's trade, profession or calling. It is of
common knowledge, and judicial notice may be
taken of the fact that most wives in the
Philippines do not have gainful occupations of
their own. Indeed, Philippine law, recognizing
the dependence of the wife upon the husband,
imposes upon the latter the duty of supporting
the former. (Art. 291, Civil Code). It should be
borne in mind that universally, it is an accepted
concept that when a woman marries, her
primary duty is to be a wife, mother and
housekeeper. If an alien wife is not to be remiss
in this duty, how can she hope to acquire a
lucrative income of her own to qualify her for
citizenship?
3. Under Section 2 of the law, the applicant for
naturalization "must have enrolled his minor
children of school age, in any of the public
schools or private schools recognized by the
Office of the Private Education of the
Philippines, where Philippine history,
government and civics are taught or prescribed
as part of the school curriculum during the
entire period of residence in the Philippines
required of him prior to the hearing of his
124
petition for naturalization as Philippine citizen."
If an alien woman has minor children by a
previous marriage to another alien before she
marries a Filipino, and such minor children had
not been enrolled in Philippine schools during
her period of residence in the country, she
cannot qualify for naturalization under the
interpretation of this Court. The reason behind
the requirement that children should be
enrolled in recognized educational institutions is
that they follow the citizenship of their father.
(Chan Ho Lay v. Republic, L-5666, March 30,
1954; Tan Hi v. Republic, 88 Phil. 117 [1951];
Hao Lian Chu v. Republic, 87 Phil. 668 [1950];
Yap Chin v. Republic, L-4177, May 29, 1953; Lim
Lian Hong v. Republic, L-3575, Dec. 26, 1950).
Considering that said minor children by her first
husband generally follow the citizenship of their
alien father, the basis for such requirement as
applied to her does not exist. Cessante ratione
legis cessat ipsa lex.
4. Under Section 3 of the law, the 10-year
continuous residence prescribed by Section 2
"shall be understood as reduced to five years for
any petitioner (who is) married to a Filipino
woman." It is absurd that an alien male married
to a Filipino wife should be required to reside
only for five years in the Philippines to qualify
for citizenship, whereas an alien woman married
to a Filipino husband must reside for ten years.
Thus under the interpretation given by this Court, it is
more difficult for an alien wife related by marriage to a
Filipino citizen to become such citizen, than for a
foreigner who is not so related. And yet, it seems more
125
than clear that the general purpose of the first paragraph
of Section 15 was obviously to accord to an alien woman,
by reason of her marriage to a Filipino, a privilege not
similarly granted to other aliens. It will be recalled that
prior to the enactment of Act No. 3448 in 1928,
amending Act No. 2927 (the old Naturalization Law),
there was no law granting any special privilege to alien
wives of Filipinos. They were treated as any other
foreigner. It was precisely to remedy this situation that
the Philippine legislature enacted Act No. 3448. On this
point, the observation made by the Secretary of Justice
in 1941 is enlightening:
It is true that under, Article 22 of the (Spanish)
Civil Code, the wife follows the nationality of the
husband; but the Department of State of the
United States on October 31, 1921, ruled that
the alien wife of a Filipino citizen is not a Filipino
citizen, pointing out that our Supreme Court in
the leading case of Roa v. Collector of Customs
(23 Phil. 315) held that Articles 17 to 27 of the
Civil Code being political have been abrogated
upon the cession of the Philippine Islands to the
United States. Accordingly, the stated taken by
the Attorney-General prior to the envictment of
Act No. 3448, was that marriage of alien women
to Philippine citizens did not make the former
citizens of this counting. (Op. Atty. Gen., March
16, 1928) .
To remedy this anomalous condition, Act No.
3448 was enacted in 1928 adding section 13(a)
to Act No. 2927 which provides that "any
woman who is now or may hereafter be married
to a citizen of the Philippine Islands, and who
might herself be lawfully naturalized, shall be
126
deemed a citizen of the Philippine Islands. (Op.
No. 22, s. 1941; emphasis ours).
If Section 15 of the, Revised Naturalization Law were to
be interpreted, as this Court did, in such a way as to
require that the alien wife must prove the qualifications
prescribed in Section 2, the privilege granted to alien
wives would become illusory. It is submitted that such a
construction, being contrary to the manifested object of
the statute must be rejected.
A statute is to be construed with reference to its
manifest object, and if the language is
susceptible of two constructions, one which will
carry out and the other defeat such manifest
object, it should receive the former
construction. (In re National Guard, 71 Vt. 493,
45 A. 1051; Singer v. United States, 323 U.S.
338, 89 L. ed. 285. See also, U.S. v. Navarro, 19
Phil. 134 [1911]; U. S. v. Toribio, 15 Phil. 85
[1910).
... A construction which will cause objectionable
results should be avoided and the court will, if
possible, place on the statute a construction
which will not result in injustice, and in
accordance with the decisions construing
statutes, a construction which will result in
oppression, hardship, or inconveniences will
also be avoided, as will a construction which will
prejudice public interest, or construction
resulting in unreasonableness, as well as a
construction which will result in absurd
consequences.
So a construction should, if possible, be avoided
if the result would be an apparent inconsistency
127
in legislative intent, as has been determined by
the judicial decisions, or which would result in
futility, redundancy, or a conclusion not
contemplated by the legislature; and the court
should adopt that construction which will be the
least likely to produce mischief. Unless plainly
shown to have been the intention of the
legislature, an interpretation which would
render the requirements of the statute
uncertain and vague is to be avoided, and the
court will not ascribe to the legislature an intent
to confer an illusory right. ... (82 C.J.S., Statutes,
sec. 326, pp. 623-632).
7. In Choy King Tee and the second Ly Giok Ha, emphasis was laid
on the need for aligning the construction of Section 15 with "the
national policy of selective admission to Philippine citizenship."
But the question may be asked, is it reasonable to suppose that in
the pursuit of such policy, the legislature contemplated to make it
more difficult if not practically impossible in some instances, for
an alien woman marrying a Filipino to become a Filipina than any
ordinary applicant for naturalization, as has just been
demonstrated above? It seems but natural and logical to assume
that Section 15 was intended to extend special treatment to alien
women who by marrying a Filipino irrevocably deliver themselves,
their possessions, their fate and fortunes and all that marriage
implies to a citizen of this country, "for better or for worse."
Perhaps there can and will be cases wherein the personal
conveniences and benefits arising from Philippine citizenship may
motivate such marriage, but must the minority, as such cases are
bound to be, serve as the criterion for the construction of law?
Moreover, it is not farfetched to believe that in joining a Filipino
family the alien woman is somehow disposed to assimilate the
customs, beliefs and ideals of Filipinos among whom, after all, she
has to live and associate, but surely, no one should expect her to
128
do so even before marriage. Besides, it may be considered that in
reality the extension of citizenship to her is made by the law not
so much for her sake as for the husband. Indeed, We find the
following observations anent the national policy rationalization in
Choy King Tee and Ly Giok Ha (the second) to be quite persuasive:
We respectfully suggest that this articulation of the
national policy begs the question. The avowed policy of
"selectives admission" more particularly refers to a case
where citizenship is sought to be acquired in a judicial
proceeding for naturalization. In such a case, the courts
should no doubt apply the national policy
of selecting only those who are worthy to become
citizens. There is here a choice between accepting or
rejecting the application for citizenship. But this policy
finds no application in cases where citizenship is
conferred by operation of law. In such cases, the
courts have no choice to accept or reject. If the individual
claiming citizenship by operation of law proves in legal
proceedings that he satisfies the statutory requirements,
the courts cannot do otherwise than to declare that he is
a citizen of the Philippines. Thus, an individual who is
able to prove that his father is a Philippine citizen, is a
citizen of the Philippines, "irrespective of his moral
character, ideological beliefs, and identification with
Filipino ideals, customs, and traditions." A minor child of
a person naturalized under the law, who is able to prove
the fact of his birth in the Philippines, is likewise a citizen,
regardless of whether he has lucrative income, or he
adheres to the principles of the Constitution. So it is with
an alien wife of a Philippine citizen. She is required to
prove only that she may herself be lawfully naturalized,
i.e., that she is not one of the disqualified persons
enumerated in Section 4 of the law, in order to establish
her citizenship status as a fact.
129
A paramount policy consideration of graver import
should not be overlooked in this regard, for it explains
and justifies the obviously deliberate choice of words. It
is universally accepted that a State, in extending the
privilege of citizenship to an alien wife of one of its
citizens could have had no other objective than to
maintain a unity of allegiance among the members of the
family. (Nelson v. Nelson, 113 Neb. 453, 203 N. W. 640
[1925]; see also "Convention on the Nationality of
Married Women: Historical Background and
Commentary." UNITED NATIONS, Department of
Economic and Social Affairs E/CN, 6/399, pp. 8 et
seq.). Such objective can only be satisfactorily achieved
by allowing the wife to acquire citizenship derivatively
through the husband. This is particularly true in the
Philippines where tradition and law has placed the
husband as head of the family, whose personal status
and decisions govern the life of the family group.
Corollary to this, our laws look with favor on the unity
and solidarity of the family (Art. 220, Civil Code), in
whose preservation of State as a vital and enduring
interest. (See Art. 216, Civil Code). Thus, it has been said
that by tradition in our country, there is a theoretic
identity of person and interest between husband and
wife, and from the nature of the relation, the home of
one is that of the other. (See De la Via v. Villareal, 41
Phil. 13). It should likewise be said that because of the
theoretic identity of husband and wife, and the primacy
of the husband, the nationality of husband should be the
nationality of the wife, and the laws upon one should be
the law upon the other. For as the court, in Hopkins v.
Fachant (9th Cir., 1904) 65 C.C.A., 1, 130 Fed. 839, held:
"The status of the wife follows that of the husband, ...
and by virtue of her marriage her husband's domicile
became her domicile." And the presumption under
130
Philippine law being that the property relations of
husband and wife are under the regime of conjugal
partnership (Art. 119, Civil Code), the income of one is
also that of the other.
It is, therefore, not congruent with our cherished
traditions of family unity and identity that a husband
should be a citizen and the wife an alien, and that the
national treatment of one should be different from that
of the other. Thus, it cannot be that the husband's
interests in property and business activities reserved by
law to citizens should not form part of the conjugal
partnership and be denied to the wife, nor that she
herself cannot, through her own efforts but for the
benefit of the partnership, acquire such interests. Only in
rare instances should the identity of husband and wife be
refused recognition, and we submit that in respect of our
citizenship laws, it should only be in the instances where
the wife suffers from the disqualifications stated in
Section 4 of the Revised Naturalization Law. (Motion for
Reconsideration, Burca vs. Republic, supra.)
With all these considerations in mind, We are persuaded that it is
in the best interest of all concerned that Section 15 of the
Naturalization Law be given effect in the same way as it was
understood and construed when the phrase "who may be lawfully
naturalized," found in the American statute from which it was
borrowed and copied verbatim, was applied by the American
courts and administrative authorities. There is merit, of course in
the view that Philippine statutes should be construed in the light
of Philippine circumstances, and with particular reference to our
naturalization laws. We should realize the disparity in the
circumstances between the United States, as the so-called
"melting pot" of peoples from all over the world, and the
Philippines as a developing country whose Constitution is
nationalistic almost in the come. Certainly, the writer of this
131
opinion cannot be the last in rather passionately insisting that our
jurisprudence should speak our own concepts and resort to
American authorities, to be sure, entitled to admiration, and
respect, should not be regarded as source of pride and
indisputable authority. Still, We cannot close our eyes to the
undeniable fact that the provision of law now under scrutiny has
no local origin and orientation; it is purely American, factually
taken bodily from American law when the Philippines was under
the dominating influence of statutes of the United States
Congress. It is indeed a sad commentary on the work of our own
legislature of the late 1920's and 1930's that given the
opportunity to break away from the old American pattern, it took
no step in that direction. Indeed, even after America made it
patently clear in the Act of Congress of September 22, 1922 that
alien women marrying Americans cannot be citizens of the United
States without undergoing naturalization proceedings, our
legislators still chose to adopt the previous American law of
August 10, 1855 as embodied later in Section 1994 of the Revised
Statutes of 1874, Which, it is worth reiterating, was consistently
and uniformly understood as conferring American citizenship to
alien women marrying Americans ipso facto, without having to
submit to any naturalization proceeding and without having to
prove that they possess the special qualifications of residence,
moral character, adherence to American ideals and American
constitution, provided they show they did not suffer from any of
the disqualifications enumerated in the American Naturalization
Law. Accordingly, We now hold, all previous decisions of this
Court indicating otherwise notwithstanding, that under Section 15
of Commonwealth Act 473, an alien woman marrying a Filipino,
native born or naturalized, becomes ipso facto a Filipina provided
she is not disqualified to be a citizen of the Philippines under
Section 4 of the same law. Likewise, an alien woman married to
an alien who is subsequently naturalized here follows the
Philippine citizenship of her husband the moment he takes his

132
oath as Filipino citizen, provided that she does not suffer from any
of the disqualifications under said Section 4.
As under any other law rich in benefits for those coming under it,
doubtless there will be instances where unscrupulous persons will
attempt to take advantage of this provision of law by entering
into fake and fictitious marriages or mala fide matrimonies. We
cannot as a matter of law hold that just because of these
possibilities, the construction of the provision should be
otherwise than as dictated inexorably by more ponderous
relevant considerations, legal, juridical and practical. There can
always be means of discovering such undesirable practice and
every case can be dealt with accordingly as it arises.
III.
The third aspect of this case requires necessarily a re-examination
of the ruling of this Court in Burca, supra, regarding the need of
judicial naturalization proceedings before the alien wife of a
Filipino may herself be considered or deemed a Filipino. If this
case which, as already noted, was submitted for decision in 1964
yet, had only been decided earlier, before Go Im Ty, the foregoing
discussions would have been sufficient to dispose of it. The Court
could have held that despite her apparent lack of qualifications,
her marriage to her co-petitioner made her a Filipina, without her
undergoing any naturalization proceedings, provided she could
sustain, her claim that she is not disqualified under Section 4 of
the law. But as things stand now, with the Burca ruling, the
question We have still to decide is, may she be deemed a Filipina
without submitting to a naturalization proceeding?
Naturally, if Burca is to be followed, it is clear that the answer to
this question must necessarily be in the affirmative. As already
stated, however, the decision in Burca has not yet become final
because there is still pending with Us a motion for its
reconsideration which vigorously submits grounds worthy of
serious consideration by this Court. On this account, and for the
133
reasons expounded earlier in this opinion, this case is as good an
occasion as any other to re-examine the issue.
In the said decision, Justice Sanchez held for the Court:
We accordingly rule that: (1) An alien woman married to
a Filipino who desires to be a citizen of this country must
apply therefore by filing a petition for citizenship reciting
that she possesses all the qualifications set forth in
Section 2 and none of the disqualifications under Section
4, both of the Revised Naturalization Law; (2) Said
petition must be filed in the Court of First Instance where
petitioner has resided at least one year immediately
preceding the filing of the petition; and (3) Any action by
any other office, agency, board or official, administrative
or otherwise other than the judgment of a competent
court of justice certifying or declaring that an alien
wife of the Filipino citizen is also a Filipino citizen, is
hereby declared null and void.
3. We treat the present petition as one for naturalization.
Or, in the words of law, a "petition for citizenship". This is
as it should be. Because a reading of the petition will
reveal at once that efforts were made to set forth
therein, and to prove afterwards, compliance with
Sections 2 and 4 of the Revised Naturalization law. The
trial court itself apparently considered the petition as
one for naturalization, and, in fact, declared petitioner "a
citizen of the Philippines."
In other words, under this holding, in order for an alien woman
marrying a Filipino to be vested with Filipino citizenship, it is not
enough that she possesses the qualifications prescribed by
Section 2 of the law and none of the disqualifications enumerated
in its Section 4. Over and above all these, she has to pass thru the
whole process of judicial naturalization apparently from
declaration of intention to oathtaking, before she can become a
134
Filipina. In plain words, her marriage to a Filipino is absolutely of
no consequence to her nationality vis-a-vis that of her Filipino
husband; she remains to be the national of the country to which
she owed allegiance before her marriage, and if she desires to be
of one nationality with her husband, she has to wait for the same
time that any other applicant for naturalization needs to
complete, the required period of ten year residence, gain the
knowledge of English or Spanish and one of the principle local
languages, make her children study in Filipino schools, acquire
real property or engage in some lawful occupation of her own
independently of her husband, file her declaration of intention
and after one year her application for naturalization, with the
affidavits of two credible witnesses of her good moral character
and other qualifications, etc., etc., until a decision is ordered in
her favor, after which, she has to undergo the two years of
probation, and only then, but not before she takes her oath as
citizen, will she begin to be considered and deemed to be a citizen
of the Philippines. Briefly, she can become a Filipino citizen only
by judicial declaration.
Such being the import of the Court's ruling, and it being quite
obvious, on the other hand, upon a cursory reading of the
provision, in question, that the law intends by it to spell out what
is the "effect of naturalization on (the) wife and children" of an
alien, as plainly indicated by its title, and inasmuch as the
language of the provision itself clearly conveys the thought that
some effect beneficial to the wife is intended by it, rather than
that she is not in any manner to be benefited thereby, it behooves
Us to take a second hard look at the ruling, if only to see whether
or not the Court might have overlooked any relevant
consideration warranting a conclusion different from that
complained therein. It is undeniable that the issue before Us is of
grave importance, considering its consequences upon tens of
thousands of persons affected by the ruling therein made by the
Court, and surely, it is for Us to avoid, whenever possible, that
135
Our decision in any case should produce any adverse effect upon
them not contemplated either by the law or by the national policy
it seeks to endorse.
AMICI CURIAE in the Burca case, respectable and impressive by
their number and standing in the Bar and well known for their
reputation for intellectual integrity, legal acumen and incisive and
comprehensive resourcefulness in research, truly evident in the
quality of the memorandum they have submitted in said case,
invite Our attention to the impact of the decision therein thus:
The doctrine announced by this Honorable Court for the
first time in the present case -- that an alien woman who
marries a Philippine citizen not only does not ipso
facto herself become a citizen but can acquire such
citizenship only through ordinary naturalization
proceedings under the Revised Naturalization Law, and
that all administrative actions "certifying or declaring
such woman to be a Philippine citizen are null and void"
has consequences that reach far beyond the confines
of the present case. Considerably more people are
affected, and affected deeply, than simply Mrs. Zita N.
Burca. The newspapers report that as many as 15
thousand women married to Philippine citizens are
affected by this decision of the Court. These are women
of many and diverse nationalities, including Chinese,
Spanish, British, American, Columbian, Finnish, Japanese,
Chilean, and so on. These members of the community,
some of whom have been married to citizens for two or
three decades, have all exercised rights and privileges
reserved by law to Philippine citizens. They will have
acquired, separately or in conjugal partnership with their
citizen husbands, real property, and they will have sold
and transferred such property. Many of these women
may be in professions membership in which is limited to
citizens. Others are doubtless stockholders or officers or
136
employees in companies engaged in business activities
for which a certain percentage of Filipino equity content
is prescribed by law. All these married women are now
faced with possible divestment of personal status and of
rights acquired and privileges exercised in reliance, in
complete good faith, upon a reading of the law that has
been accepted as correct for more than two decades by
the very agencies of government charged with the
administration of that law. We must respectfully suggest
that judicial doctrines which would visit such
comprehensive and far-reaching injury upon the wives
and mothers of Philippine citizens deserve intensive
scrutiny and reexamination.
To be sure, this appeal can be no less than what this Court
attended to in Gan Tsitung vs. Republic, G.R. No. L-20819, Feb. 21,
1967, 19 SCRA 401 when Chief Justice Concepcion observed:
The Court realizes, however, that the rulings in the
Barretto and Delgado cases although referring to
situations the equities of which are not identical to those
obtaining in the case at bar may have contributed
materially to the irregularities committed therein and in
other analogous cases, and induced the parties
concerned to believe, although erroneously, that the
procedure followed was valid under the law.
Accordingly, and in view of the implications of the issue
under consideration, the Solicitor General was required,
not only, to comment thereon, but, also, to state "how
many cases there are, like the one at bar, in which
certificates of naturalization have been issued after
notice of the filing of the petition for naturalization had
been published in the Official Gazette only once, within
the periods (a) from January 28, 1950" (when the
decision in Delgado v. Republic was promulgated) "to
137
May 29, 1957" (when the Ong Son Cui was decided) "and
(b) from May 29, 1957 to November 29, 1965" (when the
decision in the present case was rendered).
After mature deliberation, and in the light of the reasons
adduced in appellant's motion for reconsideration and in
the reply thereto of the Government, as well as of the
data contained in the latter, the Court holds that the
doctrine laid down in the Ong Son Cui case shall apply
and affect the validity of certificates of naturalization
issued after, not on or before May 29, 1957.
Here We are met again by the same problem. In Gan Tsitung, the
Court had to expressly enjoin the prospective application of its
construction of the law made in a previous decision, 24 which had
already become final, to serve the ends of justice and equity. In
the case at bar, We do not have to go that far. As already
observed, the decision in Burca still under reconsideration, while
the ruling in Lee Suan Ay, Lo San Tuang, Choy King Tee and others
that followed them have at the most become the law of the case
only for the parties thereto. If there are good grounds therefor, all
We have to do now is to reexamine the said rulings and clarify or
modify them.
For ready reference, We requote Section 15:
Sec. 15. Effect of the naturalization on wife and children.
Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married
to a citizen of the Philippines, and who might herself be
lawfully naturalized shall be deemed a citizen of the
Philippines.
Minor children of persons naturalized under this law who
have been born in the Philippines shall be considered
citizens thereof.

138
A foreign-born minor child, if dwelling in the Philippines
at the time of naturalization of the parents, shall
automatically become a Philippine citizen, and a foreign-
born minor child, who is not in the Philippines at the time
the parent is naturalized, shall be deemed a Philippine
citizen only during his minority, unless he begins to
reside permanently in the Philippines when still a minor,
in which case, he will continue to be a Philippine citizen
even after becoming of age.
A child born outside of the Philippines after the
naturalization of his parent, shall be considered a
Philippine citizen, unless within one year after reaching
the age of majority, he fails to register himself as a
Philippine citizen at the American Consulate of the
country where he resides, and to take the necessary oath
of allegiance.
It is obvious that the main subject-matter and purpose of the
statute, the Revised Naturalization Law or Commonwealth Act
473, as a whole, is to establish a complete procedure for the
judicial conferment of the status of citizenship upon qualified
aliens. After laying out such a procedure, remarkable for its
elaborate and careful inclusion of all safeguards against the
possibility of any undesirable persons becoming a part of our
citizenry, it carefully but categorically states the consequence of
the naturalization of an alien undergoing such procedure it
prescribes upon the members of his immediate family, his wife
and children, 25 and, to that end, in no uncertain terms it ordains
that: (a) all his minor children who have been born in the
Philippines shall be "considered citizens" also; (b) all such minor
children, if born outside the Philippines but dwelling here at the
time of such naturalization "shall automatically become" Filipinos
also, but those not born in the Philippines and not in the
Philippines at the time of such naturalization, are also redeemed
citizens of this country provided that they shall lose said status if
139
they transfer their permanent residence to a foreign country
before becoming of age; (c) all such minor children, if born
outside of the Philippines after such naturalization, shall also be
"considered" Filipino citizens, unless they expatriate themselves
by failing to register as Filipinos at the Philippine (American)
Consulate of the country where they reside and take the
necessary oath of allegiance; and (d) as to the wife, she "shall be
deemed a citizen of the Philippines" if she is one "who might
herself be lawfully naturalized". 26
No doubt whatever is entertained, so Burca holds very correctly,
as to the point that the minor children, falling within the
conditions of place and time of birth and residence prescribed in
the provision, are vested with Philippine citizenship directly by
legislative fiat or by force of the law itself and without the need
for any judicial proceeding or declaration. (At p. 192, 19 SCRA).
Indeed, the language of the provision, is not susceptible of any
other interpretation. But it is claimed that the same expression
"shall be deemed a citizen of the Philippines" in reference to the
wife, does not necessarily connote the vesting of citizenship
status upon her by legislative fiat because the antecedent phrase
requiring that she must be one "who might herself be lawfully
naturalized" implies that such status is intended to attach only
after she has undergone the whole process of judicial
naturalization required of any person desiring to become a
Filipino. Stated otherwise, the ruling in Burca is that while Section
15 envisages and intends legislative naturalization as to the minor
children, the same section deliberately treats the wife differently
and leaves her out for the ordinary judicial naturalization.
Of course, it goes without saying that it is perfectly within the
constitutional authority of the Congress of the Philippines to
confer or vest citizenship status by legislative fiat. (U.S. v. Wong
Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 42 L ed. 890 [1898]; See, 1 Taada &
Carreon, Political Law of the Philippines 152 [1961 ed.]) In fact, it
has done so for particular individuals, like two foreign religious
140
prelates, 27 hence there is no reason it cannot do it for classes or
groups of persons under general conditions applicable to all of the
members of such class or group, like women who marry Filipinos,
whether native-born or naturalized. The issue before Us in this
case is whether or not the legislature hag done so in the disputed
provisions of Section 15 of the Naturalization Law. And Dr. Vicente
G. Sinco, one of the most respect authorities on political law in
the Philippines 28 observes in this connection thus: "A special form
of naturalization is often observed by some states with respect to
women. Thus in the Philippines a foreign woman married to a
Filipino citizen becomes ipso facto naturalized, if she belongs to
any of the classes who may apply for naturalization under the
Philippine Laws." (Sinco, Phil. Political Law 498-499 [10th ed.
1954]; emphasis ours; this comment is substantially reiterated in
the 1962 edition, citing Ly Giok Ha and Ricardo Cua, supra.)
More importantly, it may be stated, at this juncture, that in
construing the provision of the United States statutes from which
our law has been copied, 28a the American courts have held that
the alien wife does not acquire American citizenship by choice but
by operation of law. "In the Revised Statutes the words "and
taken" are omitted. The effect of this statute is that every alien
woman who marries a citizen of the United States becomes
perforce a citizen herself, without the formality of naturalization,
and regardless of her wish in that respect." (USCA 8, p. 601 [1970
ed.], citing Mackenzie v. Hare, 1913, 134 P. 713, 165 Cal. 766,
affirmed 36 S. Ct. 106, 239 U.S. 299, 60 L ed. 297.) .
We need not recount here again how this provision in question
was first enacted as paragraph (a) of Section 13, by way of an
insertion into Act 2927 by Act 3448 of November 30, 1928, and
that, in turn, and paragraph was copied verbatim from Section
1994 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, which by that
time already had a long accepted construction among the courts
and administrative authorities in that country holding that under
such provision an alien woman who married a citizen became,
141
upon such marriage, likewise a citizen by force of law and as a
consequence of the marriage itself without having to undergo any
naturalization proceedings, provided that, it could be shown that
at the time of such marriage, she was not disqualified to be
naturalized under the laws then in force. To repeat the discussion
We already made of these undeniable facts would unnecessarily
make this decision doubly extensive. The only point which might
be reiterated for emphasis at this juncture is that whereas in the
United States, the American Congress, recognizing the
construction, of Section 1994 of the Revised Statutes to be as
stated above, and finding it desirable to avoid the effects of such
construction, approved the Act of September 22, 1922 Explicitly
requiring all such alien wives to submit to judicial naturalization
albeit under more liberal terms than those for other applicants for
citizenship, on the other hand, the Philippine Legislature, instead
of following suit and adopting such a requirement, enacted Act
3448 on November 30, 1928 which copied verbatim the
aforementioned Section 1994 of the Revised Statutes, thereby
indicating its preference to adopt the latter law and its settled
construction rather than the reform introduced by the Act of
1922.
Obviously, these considerations leave Us no choice. Much as this
Court may feel that as the United States herself has evidently
found it to be an improvement of her national policy vis-a-vis the
alien wives of her citizens to discontinue their automatic
incorporation into the body of her citizenry without passing
through the judicial scrutiny of a naturalization proceeding, as it
used to be before 1922, it seems but proper, without evidencing
any bit of colonial mentality, that as a developing country, the
Philippines adopt a similar policy, unfortunately, the manner in
which our own legislature has enacted our laws on the subject, as
recounted above, provides no basis for Us to construe said law
along the line of the 1922 modification of the American Law. For
Us to do so would be to indulge in judicial legislation which it is
142
not institutionally permissible for this Court to do. Worse, this
court would be going precisely against the grain of the implicit
Legislative intent.
There is at least one decision of this Court before Burca wherein it
seems it is quite clearly implied that this Court is of the view that
under Section 16 of the Naturalization Law, the widow and
children of an applicant for naturalization who dies during the
proceedings do not have to submit themselves to another
naturalization proceeding in order to avail of the benefits of the
proceedings involving the husband. Section 16 provides: .
SEC. 16. Right of widow and children of petitioners who
have died. In case a petitioner should die before the
final decision has been rendered, his widow and minor
children may continue the proceedings. The decision
rendered in the case shall, so far as the widow and minor
children are concerned, produce the same legal effect as
if it had been rendered during the life of the petitioner.
In Tan Lin v. Republic, G.R. No. L-13706, May 31, 1961, 2 SCRA
383, this Court held:
Invoking the above provisions in their favor, petitioners-
appellants argue (1) that under said Sec. 16, the widow
and minor children are allowed to continue the same
proceedings and are not substituted for the original
petitioner; (2) that the qualifications of the original
petitioner remain to be in issue and not those of the
widow and minor children, and (3) that said Section 16
applies whether the petitioner dies before or after final
decision is rendered, but before the judgment becomes
executory.
There is force in the first and second arguments. Even
the second sentence of said Section 16 contemplate the
fact that the qualifications of the original petitioner
143
remains the subject of inquiry, for the simple reason that
it states that "The decision rendered in the case shall, so
far as the widow and minor children are concerned,
produce the same legal effect as if it had been rendered
during the life of the petitioner." This phraseology
emphasizes the intent of the law to continue the
proceedings with the deceased as the theoretical
petitioner, for if it were otherwise, it would have been
unnecessary to consider the decision rendered, as far as
it affected the widow and the minor children.
xxx xxx xxx
The Chua Chian case (supra), cited by the appellee,
declared that a dead person can not be bound to do
things stipulated in the oath of allegiance, because an
oath is a personal matter. Therein, the widow prayed
that she be allowed to take the oath of allegiance for the
deceased. In the case at bar, petitioner Tan Lin merely
asked that she be allowed to take the oath of allegiance
and the proper certificate of naturalization, once the
naturalization proceedings of her deceased husband,
shall have been completed, not on behalf of the
deceased but on her own behalf and of her children, as
recipients of the benefits of his naturalization. In other
words, the herein petitioner proposed to take the oath of
allegiance, as a citizen of the Philippines, by virtue of the
legal provision that "any woman who is now or may
hereafter be married to a citizen of the Philippines and
who might herself be lawfully naturalized shall be
deemed a citizen of the Philippines. Minor children of
persons naturalized under this law who have been born
in the Philippines shall be considered citizens thereof."
(Section 15, Commonwealth Act No. 473). The decision
granting citizenship to Lee Pa and the record of the case
at bar, do not show that the petitioning widow could not
144
have been lawfully naturalized, at the time Lee Pa filed
his petition, apart from the fact that his 9 minor children
were all born in the Philippines. (Decision, In the Matter
of the Petition of Lee Pa to be admitted a citizen of the
Philippines, Civil Case No. 16287, CFI, Manila, Annex A;
Record on Appeal, pp. 8-11). The reference to Chua Chian
case is, therefore, premature.
Section 16, as may be seen, is a parallel provision to Section 15. If
the widow of an applicant for naturalization as Filipino, who dies
during the proceedings, is not required to go through a
naturalization preceeding, in order to be considered as a Filipino
citizen hereof, it should follow that the wife of a living Filipino
cannot be denied the same privilege. This is plain common sense
and there is absolutely no evidence that the Legislature intended
to treat them differently.
Additionally, We have carefully considered the arguments
advanced in the motion for reconsideration in Burca, and We see
no reason to disagree with the following views of counsel: .
It is obvious that the provision itself is a legislative
declaration of who may be considered citizens of the
Philippines. It is a proposition too plain to be disputed
that Congress has the power not only to prescribe the
mode or manner under which foreigners may acquire
citizenship, but also the very power of conferring
citizenship by legislative fiat. (U. S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169
U. S. 649, 42 L. Ed. 890 [1898] ; see 1 Taada and
Carreon, Political Law of the Philippines 152 [1961 ed.])
The Constitution itself recognizes as Philippine citizens
"Those who are naturalized in accordance with law"
(Section 1[5], Article IV, Philippine Constitution). Citizens
by naturalization, under this provision, include not only
those who are naturalized in accordance with legal
proceedings for the acquisition of citizenship, but also
145
those who acquire citizenship by "derivative
naturalization" or by operation of law, as, for example,
the "naturalization" of an alien wife through the
naturalization of her husband, or by marriage of an alien
woman to a citizen. (See Taada & Carreon, op.
cit. supra, at 152, 172; Velayo, Philippine Citizenship and
Naturalization 2 [1965 ed.]; 1 Paras, Civil Code 186 [1967
ed.]; see also 3 Hackworth, Digest of International Law
3).
The phrase "shall be deemed a citizen of the Philippines"
found in Section 14 of the Revised Naturalization Law
clearly manifests an intent to confer citizenship.
Construing a similar phrase found in the old U.S.
naturalization law (Revised Statutes, 1994), American
courts have uniformly taken it to mean that upon her
marriage, the alien woman becomes by operation of law
a citizen of the United States as fully as if she had
complied with all the provisions of the statutes upon the
subject of naturalization. (U.S. v. Keller, 13 F. 82; U.S.
Opinions of the US Attorney General dated June 4, 1874
[14 Op. 4021, July 20, 1909 [27 Op. 507], December 1,
1910 [28 Op. 508], Jan. 15, 1920 [32 Op. 2091 and Jan.
12, 1923 [23 398]).
The phrase "shall be deemed a citizen," in
Section 1994 Revised Statute (U.S. Comp. Stat.
1091, 1268) or as it was in the Act of 1855 (10
Stat. at L. 604, Chapt. 71, Sec. 2), "shall be
deemed and taken to be a citizens" while it may
imply that the person to whom it relates has not
actually become a citizen by the ordinary means
or in the usual way, as by the judgment of a
competent court, upon a proper application and
proof, yet it does not follow that such person is
on that account practically any the less a
146
citizen. The word "deemed" is the equivalent of
"considered" or "judged," and therefore,
whatever an Act of Congress requires to be
"deemed" or "taken" as true of any person or
thing must, in law, be considered as having been
duly adjudged or established concerning such
person or thing, and have force and effect
accordingly. When, therefore, Congress declares
that an alien woman shall, under certain
circumstances, be "deemed" an American
citizen, the effect when the contingency occurs,
is equivalent to her being naturalized directly by
an Act of Congress or in the usual mode thereby
prescribed. (Van Dyne, Citizenship of the United
States 239, cited in Velayo, Philippine
Citizenship and Naturalization 146-147 [1965
ed.]; emphasis ours).
That this was likewise the intent of the Philippine
legislature when it enacted the first paragraph of Section
15 of the Revised Naturalization Law is shown by a
textual analysis of the entire statutory provision. In its
entirety, Section 15 reads:
(See supra).
The phrases "shall be deemed" "shall be considered,"
and "shall automatically become" as used in the above
provision, are undoubtedly synonymous. The leading
idea or purpose of the provision was to confer Philippine
citizenship by operation of law upon certain classes of
aliens as a legal consequence of their relationship, by
blood or by affinity, to persons who are already citizens
of the Philippines. Whenever the fact of relationship of
the persons enumerated in the provision concurs with
the fact of citizenship of the person to whom they are
147
related, the effect is for said persons to become ipso
facto citizens of the Philippines. "Ipso facto" as here used
does not mean that all alien wives and all minor children
of Philippine citizens, from the mere fact of relationship,
necessarily become such citizens also. Those who do not
meet the statutory requirements do not ipso
factobecome citizens; they must apply for naturalization
in order to acquire such status. What it does mean,
however, is that in respect of those persons enumerated
in Section 15, the relationship to a citizen of the
Philippines is the operative fact which establishes the
acquisition of Philippine citizenship by them. Necessarily,
it also determines the point of time at which such
citizenship commences. Thus, under the second
paragraph of Section 15, a minor child of a Filipino
naturalized under the law, who was born in the
Philippines, becomes ipso facto a citizen of the
Philippines from the time the fact of relationship concurs
with the fact of citizenship of his parent, and the time
when the child became a citizen does not depend
upon the time that he is able to prove that he was born in
the Philippines. The child may prove some 25 years after
the naturalization of his father that he was born in the
Philippines and should, therefore, be "considered" a
citizen thereof. It does not mean that he became a
Philippine citizen only at that later time. Similarly, an
alien woman who married a Philippine citizen may be
able to prove only some 25 years after her marriage
(perhaps, because it was only 25 years after the marriage
that her citizenship status became in question), that she
is one who might herself be lawfully naturalized." It is not
reasonable to conclude that she acquired Philippine
citizenship only after she had proven that she "might
herself be lawfully naturalized." It is not reasonable to
conclude that she acquired Philippine citizenship only
148
after she had proven that she "might herself be lawfully
naturalized."
The point that bears emphasis in this regard is that in
adopting the very phraseology of the law, the legislature
could not have intended that an alien wife should not be
deemed a Philippine citizenunless and until she proves
that she might herself be lawfully naturalized. Far from it,
the law states in plain terms that she shall be deemed a
citizen of the Philippines if she is one "who might herself
be lawfully naturalized." The proviso that she must be
one "who might herself be lawfully naturalized" is not a
condition precedent to the vesting or acquisition of
citizenship; it is only a condition or a state of fact
necessary to establish her citizenship as a factum
probandum, i.e., as a fact established and proved in
evidence. The word "might," as used in that phrase,
precisely replies that at the time of her marriage to a
Philippine citizen, the alien woman "had (the) power" to
become such a citizen herself under the laws then in
force. (Owen v. Kelly, 6 DC 191 [1867], aff'd Kelly v.
Owen, 76 US 496, 19 L ed 283 [1869). That she
establishes such power long after her marriage does not
alter the fact that at her marriage, she became a citizen.
(This Court has held) that "an alien wife of a Filipino
citizen may not acquire the status of a citizen of the
Philippines unless there is proof that she herself may be
lawfully naturalized" (Decision, pp. 3-4). Under this view,
the "acquisition" of citizenship by the alien wife depends
on her having proven her qualifications for citizenship,
that is, she is not a citizen unless and until she proves
that she may herself be lawfully naturalized. It is clear
from the words of the law that the proviso does not
mean that she must first prove that she "might herself be
lawfully naturalized" before she shall be deemed (by
149
Congress, not by the courts) a citizen. Even the "uniform"
decisions cited by this Court (at fn. 2) to support its
holding did not rule that the alien wife becomes a citizen
only after she has proven her qualifications for
citizenship. What those decisions ruled was that the alien
wives in those cases failed to prove their qualifications
and therefore they failed to establish their claim to
citizenship. Thus in Ly Giok Ha v. Galang, 101 Phil. 459
[l957], the case was remanded to the lower court for
determination of whether petitioner, whose claim to
citizenship by marriage to a Filipino was disputed by the
Government, "might herself be lawfully naturalized," for
the purpose of " proving her alleged change of political
status from alien to citizen" (at 464). In Cua v. Board, 101
Phil. 521 [1957], the alien wife who was being deported,
claimed she was a Philippine citizen by marriage to a
Filipino. This Court finding that there was no proof that
she was not disqualified under Section 4 of the Revised
Naturalization Law, ruled that: "No such evidence
appearing on record, the claim of assumption of
Philippine citizenship by Tijoe Wu Suan, upon her
marriage to petitioner, is untenable." (at 523) It will be
observed that in these decisions cited by this Court, the
lack of proof that the alien wives "might (themselves) be
lawfully naturalized" did not necessarily imply that they
did not become, in truth and in fact, citizens upon their
marriage to Filipinos. What the decisions merely held
was that these wives failed to establish their claim to
that status as a proven fact.
In all instances where citizenship is conferred by
operation of law, the time when citizenship is conferred
should not be confused with the time when citizenship
status is established as a proven fact. Thus, even a
natural-born citizen of the Philippines, whose citizenship
150
status is put in issue in any proceeding would be required
to prove, for instance, that his father is a citizen of the
Philippines in order to factually establish his claim to
citizenship.* His citizenship status commences from the
time of birth, although his claim thereto is established as
a fact only at a subsequent time. Likewise, an alien
woman who might herself be lawfully naturalized
becomes a Philippine citizen at the time of her marriage
to a Filipino husband, not at the time she is able to
establish that status as a proven fact by showing that she
might herself be lawfully naturalized. Indeed, there is no
difference between a statutory declaration that a person
is deemed a citizen of the Philippines provided his father
is such citizen from a declaration that an alien woman
married to a Filipino citizen of the Philippines provided
she might herself be lawfully naturalized. Both become
citizens by operation of law; the former becomes a
citizen ipso facto upon birth; the later ipso facto upon
marriage.
It is true that unless and until the alien wife proves that
she might herself be lawfully naturalized, it cannot be
said that she has established her status as a proven fact.
But neither can it be said that on that account, she did
not become a citizen of the Philippines. If her citizenship
status is not questioned in any legal proceeding, she
obviously has no obligation to establish her status as a
fact. In such a case, the presumption of law should be
that she is what she claims to be. (U.S. v. Roxas, 5 Phil.
375 [1905]; Hilado v. Assad, 51 O.G. 4527 [1955]). There
is a presumption that a representation shown to have
been made is true. (Aetna Indemnity Co. v. George A.
Fuller, Co., 73 A. 738, 74 A. 369, 111 ME. 321).
The question that keeps bouncing back as a consequence of the
foregoing views is, what substitute is them for naturalization
151
proceedings to enable the alien wife of a Philippine citizen to have
the matter of her own citizenship settled and established so that
she may not have to be called upon to prove it everytime she has
to perform an act or enter in to a transaction or business or
exercise a right reserved only to Filipinos? The ready answer to
such question is that as the laws of our country, both substantive
and procedural, stand today, there is no such procedure, but such
paucity is no proof that the citizenship under discussion is not
vested as of the date of marriage or the husband's acquisition of
citizenship, as the case may be, for the truth is that the same
situation objections even as to native-born Filipinos. Everytime
the citizenship of a person is material or indispensable in a judicial
or administrative case, whatever the corresponding court or
administrative authority decides therein as to such citizenship is
generally not considered as res adjudicata, hence it has to be
threshed out again and again as the occasion may demand. This,
as We view it, is the sense in which Justice Dizon referred to
"appropriate proceeding" in Brito v. Commissioner, supra. Indeed,
only the good sense and judgment of those subsequently
inquiring into the matter may make the effort easier or simpler
for the persons concerned by relying somehow on the antecedent
official findings, even if these are not really binding.
It may not be amiss to suggest, however, that in order to have a
good starting point and so that the most immediate relevant
public records may be kept in order, the following observations in
Opinion No. 38, series of 1958, of then Acting Secretary of Justice
Jesus G. Barrera, may be considered as the most appropriate
initial step by the interested parties:
Regarding the steps that should be taken by an alien
woman married to a Filipino citizen in order to acquire
Philippine citizenship, the procedure followed in the
Bureau of Immigration is as follows: The alien woman
must file a petition for the cancellation of her alien
certificate of registration alleging, among other things,
152
that she is married to a Filipino, citizen and that she is
not disqualified from acquiring her husband's citizenship
pursuant to section 4 of Commonwealth Act No. 473, as
amended. Upon the filing of said petition, which should
be accompanied or supported by the joint affidavit of the
petitioner and her Filipino husband to the effect that the
petitioner does not belong to any of the groups
disqualified by the cited section from becoming
naturalized Filipino citizen (please see attached CEB Form
1), the Bureau of Immigration conducts an investigation
and thereafter promulgates its order or decision granting
or denying the petition.
Once the Commissioner of Immigration cancels the subject's
registration as an alien, there will probably be less difficulty in
establishing her Filipino citizenship in any other proceeding,
depending naturally on the substance and vigor of the opposition.
Before closing, it is perhaps best to clarify that this third issue We
have passed upon was not touched by the trial court, but as the
point is decisive in this case, the Court prefers that the matter be
settled once and for all now.
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the judgment of the Court a
quo dismissing appellants' petition for injunction is hereby
reversed and the Commissioner of Immigration and/or his
authorized representative is permanently enjoined from causing
the arrest and deportation and the confiscation of the bond of
appellant Lau Yuen Yeung, who is hereby declared to have
become a Filipino citizen from and by virtue of her marriage to
her co-appellant Moy Ya Lim Yao alias Edilberto Aguinaldo Lim, a
Filipino citizen on January 25, 1962. No costs.
Dizon, Castro, Teehankee and Villamor, JJ., concur.

153
IN RE: MALLARE 59 SCRA 45
A.M. No. 533 April 29, 1968
IN RE: FLORENCIO MALLARE.
REYES, J.B.L., Actg. C.J.:
The respondent, Florencio Mallare, was admitted to the practice
of law on 5 March 1962. In his verified petition to take the bar
examinations in 1961, he alleged that he is a citizen of the
Philippines and that "his father is Esteban Mallare and his mother
is Te Na, both Filipino citizens". (Personal Record, No. 17450, Bar
Division)
On 16 July 1962, the then Acting Commissioner of Immigration
Martiniano P. Vivo denounced the respondent to this Court as a
Chinaman masquerading as a Filipino citizen and requested that
the matter be investigated thoroughly and if the respondent fails
to show that he has legally become a Filipino, steps be taken for
striking his name from the roll of persons authorized to practice
law. Acting upon the request, this Court, on 9 August 1962,
referred the matter to its Legal Officer-Investigator for
investigation and report. An investigation was thus held wherein
the relator or complainant and the respondent appeared and
adduced their respective evidence.
The position of the respondent-lawyer is that he is a Filipino
citizen based on the supposed citizenship of his father, Esteban
Mallare, alleged to be a Filipino citizen by choice, because he was
the illegitimate son of a Chinese father and a Filipina mother, Ana
Mallare and that the respondent's mother, Te Na, a Chinese,
followed the citizenship of her husband upon their marriage.
The respondent's second theory is that, having been declared a
Filipino citizen in a final judgment in 1960 by the Court of First
Instance of Quezon province, in its Civil Case No. 329-G (entitled,
Vitaliano Itable vs. Artemio, Florencio, Paciencia, Esperanza and
154
Raymundo Mallare) and his birth record, wherein he was
originally registered as a Chinese, has likewise been ordered
corrected to Filipino, by final judgment in Special Proceeding No.
3925 of the same court,1 his Filipino citizenship is conclusive, res
judicata and binding to the government and to the world.
Complainant Vivo disputed, on the facts, the respondent's first
theory, and, on the second theory, claimed that the aforestated
Civil Case No. 329-G (Itable vs. Mallare) was a simulated action
calculated to obtain a judicial declaration of Philippine citizenship
and, after having obtained the said declaration, the respondent,
together with his brothers and sisters, utilized the declaration to
change their birth and alien registration the better to hide their
true nationality, which is Chinese.
The respondent denies the charge of simulating an action; and by
way of defense, points out that Civil Case No. 329-G and Special
Proceeding No. 3925 are not subject to collateral attack and, since
his birth record and alien registration (and that of his brothers and
sisters) have been corrected and cancelled, respectively, the
question of their citizenship is now moot and academic.
On respondent's first claim to citizenship by blood, the earliest
datum that can be stated about the respondent's supposed
ancestry is that in 1902,2 ex-municipal president Rafael Catarroja,
then eight (8) years old, met for the first time Ana Mallare, the
supposed paternal grandmother of the respondent, in Macalelon,
Quezon. He had not seen her deliver or give birth to the baby boy,
Esteban Mallare, father of the respondent, but met the supposed
Filipina mother and Esteban Mallare years later when the boy was
already eight (8) years old. (Annex "8," pp. 10-12, t.s.n., Sept. 24,
1959, Civil Case No. 329-G, CFI of Quezon Province). There is no
evidence that Ana Mallare was an "inhabitant of the Philippine
Islands continuing to reside therein who was a Spanish subject on
the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine", as
required by the Philippine Bill of July 1, 1902 and she cannot,
155
therefore, be considered a Filipina. That witness Catarroja, the
respondent, and the latter's brothers and sisters, stated that Ana
Mallare was a Filipina, as well as their testimonies in the civil case
that she had not married her Chinese husband and that she is the
true mother of Esteban Mallare, are more of opinion or
conjecture than fact, utterly insufficient to overcome the
presumption that persons living together as husband and wife are
married to each other (Rule 131, par. bb). "Every intendment of
law and fact", says Article 220 of our Civil Code "leans toward the
validity of marriage and the legitimacy of children."
The respondent relies on three documents as indicative of the
alleged Philippine citizenship of his father, Esteban Mallare. On 7
July 1926, Te Na, respondent's Chinese mother, was described in a
landing certificate of residence issued to her, as "wife of P.I.
citizen" and as wife of Dy Esteban, P.I. citizen". (Annex "16", being
Exh. "3" in Civil Case No. 329-G). On 20 February 1939, Esteban Dy
Mallare executed an affidavit stating therein that when he
reached the age of majority he had "definitely elected to be a
Filipino citizen following the citizenship of my mother." (Annex "4"
being Exh. "1" in Civil Case No. 329-G) And, in 1928, Esteban
Mallare was a registered voter in Macalelon, Quezon. (Annex "7",
being Exh. "2" in Civil Case No. 329-G).
A landing certificate of residence issued under Section 7, Act 702
by the Collector of Customs is based upon an administrative ex
parte determination of the evidence presented and the facts as
stated by the applicant and, therefore, carries little evidentiary
weight as to the citizenship of the applicant's husband. In the
instant case, the truth of Te Na's declarations when she applied
for the landing certificate could have been inquired into had she
been presented as a witness in these proceedings, but this was
not done.
The affidavit of Esteban Mallare, besides being self-serving, is not
a substitute for a duly recorded election of Philippine citizenship,
156
assuming that the affiant was qualified to so elect. When Esteban
executed it, he was already thirty-six (36) years old and he
executed it for the purpose, stated in the last paragraph, of
making a change in a miscellaneous lease application wherein he
had previously stated that he is a citizen of China. Nor can it be
regarded as a re-affirmation of an alleged election of citizenship,
since no such previous election was proven to have existed.
Esteban Mallare's registration as a voter indicates his desire to
exercise a right appertaining exclusively to Filipino citizens but this
does not alter his real citizenship, which, in this jurisdiction, is
determinable by his blood ( jus sanguinis).
Against these pretensions of Philippine citizenship, all the five (5)
known children of the spouses Esteban Mallare and Te Na
Artemio, Esperanza, Florencio, Paciencia and Raymundo, were
registered at birth as children of aChinese father and a Chinese
mother and with the added detail that their parents were born in
China.
The birth certificate of Esperanza Mallare (Exh. "F") who was born
on 25 October 1939, is particularly significant in this regard,
because it bears the father's own signature. If Esteban Mallare
was indeed a Filipino by choice, as stated by him in his
aforementioned affidavit (Annex 4), then he should have so stated
in this birth certificate of his daughter, instead, he admits, against
his own interest, that he is a Chinese. Esteban Mallare's own
death certificate (Exh. "C"), over the signature of his son, Artemio
Mallare, shows against Artemio's own interest that Esteban was a
Chinese, born in Fookiang, China; that he died on 5 June 1945, at
the age of 42 and is buried at the Chinese cemetery, having
resided in the Philippines for 28 years (Exh. "C"), i.e., only since
1917.
The affidavit of Artemio denying that the signature in the
aforesaid death certificate is his, is inadmissible and, therefore,
should be rejected, as it was offered in evidence for the first time
157
after trial was closed, as an annex to the respondent's
memorandum with the investigator. The affiant was not examined
thereon, and the affidavit is self-serving besides.
The entire family, consisting of the father, mother and their four
(4) children (Raymundo was not yet born) were registered
as aliens in 1942 in the then Division of Alien Statistics, pursuant
to the proclamation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial
Japanese Forces in the Philippines and Executive Order No. 25 of
the then Executive Commission. (See letter of Jan. 18, 1963 from
the Bureau of Immigration to the Legal Officer-Investigator, see
also pp. 171 and 180-181, Vol. I, No. 4, Official Gazette, published
during Japanese occupation.) .
In addition, the respondent himself was again registered as an
alien in 1950, his application thereto bearing his thumbprints and
stating therein that he is a Chinese; that he belongs to the yellow
race and that he had used these other names: "Tan Jua Gae",
"Enciong" and "Jua Gac" (Exh. "N"). He had been a teacher in the
Candon Chinese School (t.s.n., p. 17, Oct. 3, 1962). His explanation
that it was his mother who registered him as an alien is flimsy;
and, as stated hereinbefore, he did not present his mother as a
witness.
The evidence is thus clearly preponderant, if not overwhelming
that the respondent's father, Esteban Mallare or "Mallari", also
known as "Esteban Dy", "Esteban Dy Mallare" and "Esteban Tan",
was and remained a Chinese until he died; consequently, the
respondent's mother, admittedly a Chinese, retained her original
citizenship and their offspring, respondent, Florencio Mallare,
together with his brothers and sisters, are likewise Chinese
nationals, through and through.
We now turn to respondent's second defense of res judicata.
There are certain marks of simulation that attended Civil Case No.
329-G, and indicating that it was brought to circumvent a previous
unfavorable opinion of the Secretary of Justice denying
158
cancellation of Mallare's alien registration (Op. No. 90, Ser. of
1955, dated March 31, 1955). The said civil case was instituted by
the vendor (Vitaliano Itable) of a certain parcel of land to rescind
the sale and recover the land sold from the vendees, who are the
herein respondent and his brothers and sisters, on the ground
that the said vendees are Chinese. The vendor-plaintiff practically
abandoned the case; the vendees-defendants submitted evidence
purporting to show their Filipino citizenship, and plaintiff neither
cross examined nor presented rebuttal proof. After trial, the
court, declaring the vendees as natural-born Filipino citizens,
decided for the validity of the sale of the parcel of land.
On the basis of the foregoing declaration by the Court of First
Instance of Quezon Province, the respondent and his brothers and
sisters filed Special Proceeding No. 3925, in the same court, but in
a different branch, for the "correction" of their birth records. The
local fiscal, representing the Solicitor General, appeared but did
not oppose the petition; wherefore, after hearing, the court
granted the petition. Based on the same judicial declaration, the
then Commissioner of Immigration De la Rosa (not the
complainant) cancelled on June 8, 1960, the alien registration of
the herein respondent and that of his brothers and sisters, and
issued to them identification certificates recognizing them as
Filipino citizens. Then Solicitor General Alafriz took the same
position.
Civil Case No. 329-G and Special Proceeding No. 3925 are not
modes of acquiring Philippine citizenship; neither is the Chinese
citizenship of the respondent converted to Filipino because
certain government agencies recognized him as such. He remains,
by jus sanguinis, a Chinese until he is naturalized.
It is noted that the declaration that the respondent and his
brothers and sisters are Filipino citizens is stated in the dispositive
portion of the decision in Civil Case No. 329-G, which was an
action in personam. The pronouncement was not within the
159
court's competence, because the declaration of the citizenship of
these defendants was not the relief that was sought. At the time,
the pronouncement was beyond judicial power, there being no
law authorizing the institution of a judicial preceding to declare
the citizenship of an individual (Danilo Channie Tan v. Republic, L-
14159, April 18, 1960; Paralaran v. Republic, L-15047, Jan. 30,
1962; Tan Yu Chin v. Republic, L-15775, April 29, 1961; Tan v.
Republic, L-16108, October 31, 1961; Santiago vs. Commissioner,
L-14653, Jan. 31, 1963; Comissioner vs. Domingo, L-21274, July
31, 1963; Lao Yap Diok, et al. v. Republic, L-19107-09, Sept. 30,
1964).
In the basic case Channie Tan vs. Republic, ante, this Court ruled
as follows:1wph1.t
Under our laws, there can be no action or proceeding for the
judicial declaration of the citizenship of an individual. Courts
of justice exist for the settlement of justiciable controversies,
which imply a given right, legally demandable and
enforceable, an act or omission violative of said right, and a
remedy granted or sanctioned by law, for said breach of right.
As an incident only of the adjudication of the rights of the
parties to a controversy, the court may pass upon, and make
a pronouncement relative to, their status. Otherwise, such a
pronouncement is beyond judicial power. Thus, for instance,
no action or proceeding may be instituted for a declaration to
the effect that plaintiff or petitioner is married, or single, or a
legitimate child, although a finding thereon may be made as a
necessary premise to justify a given relief available only to
one enjoying said status. At times, the law permits the
acquisition of a given status, such as naturalization, by judicial
decree. But, there is no similar legislation authorizing the
institution of a judicial proceeding to declare that a given
person is part of our citizenry. (Tan vs. Republic, G.R. No. L-
14159, April 18, 1960, reiterated in G.R. No. L-15775, April 29,
1961).
160
The said judicial declaration3 was merely an incident to the
adjudication of the rights of the parties to the controversy over
land ownership. Their citizenship was not the thing adjudicated in
the judgment and the declaration that they are Filipinos was but a
necessary premise for the court to arrive at a conclusion that the
sale of the realty was valid as between the parties. Not being the
thing directly adjudicated, their declared citizenship is not res
judicata, and cannot become conclusive.
The appearance of the fiscal, representing the Solicitor General, in
Special Proceeding No. 3925 does not bind the state to the order
of "correction" of the birth records because the proceeding was
not instituted as in rem and, under no law had the state given its
consent to be party thereto. For this reason, the fiscal's
appearance was an unauthorized one.
It is noteworthy that in neither case relied upon by the
respondent does it appear that his claim for citizenship was given
adequate publication so as to apprise all concerned and give them
opportunity to contest it or supply the corresponding public office
any derogatory data that might exist against the alleged
citizenship. Hence, neither decision constitutes res judicata on the
issue of respondent's alleged Filipino nationality.
And certainly, the Supreme Court, acting pursuant to its inherent
and constitutional authority, may not be precluded from inquiring
into the citizenship of persons admitted to the practice of law,
independently of any other court's findings in the cases or
proceedings brought or instituted therein.
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the respondent Florencio
Mallare is hereby declared excluded from the practice of law; his
admission to the Philippine bar is revoked and he is hereby
ordered to return immediately to this Court the lawyer's diploma
previously issued to him.

161
Let a copy of this decision be furnished, when it becomes final, to
the Secretary of Justice, for such action as may be deemed
warranted; and let another copy be sent to the Local Civil
Registrar of Macalelon, Quezon, for purposes of record in the
corresponding civil registry of births. So ordered.
Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro,
Angeles and Fernando, JJ., concur.
1wph1.t Concepcion, C.J., is on leave.

A.M. No. 533 September 12, 1974


IN RE: FLORENCIO MALLARE, respondent,
RESOLUTION

FERNANDEZ, J.:p
On complaint of then Acting Immigration Commissioner,
Martiniano P. Vivo, this Court ordered the investigation of the
matter of citizenship of Florencio Mallare, who was admitted to
the Philippine Bar on March 5, 1962, for the purpose of
determining whether his name should be stricken from the roll of
persons authorized to practice law in the Philippines.
After an investigation conducted by this Court's Legal Officer
Investigator, a decision was rendered by this Court on April 29,
1968, holding that by preponderance of evidence, it appeared
that respondent Mallare's father, Esteban Mallare, was a Chinese
up to his death; and his mother admittedly being a Chinese,
respondent is likewise a Chinese national. Consequently
respondent Florencio Mallare was declared excluded from the
practice of law; his admission to the bar was revoked, and he was
162
ordered to return to this Court, the lawyer's diploma previously
issued to him.
Respondent moved for reconsideration of the decision, which was
denied by the Court in its resolution of January 10, 1969. On
February 4, 1969, respondent petitioned the Court for the
reopening of the case and for new trial on the ground, inter alia,
of newly discovered evidence, the introduction of which could
alter the decision previously promulgated. The evidence proposed
to be presented consisted of (1) an entry in the registry of baptism
of the Immaculate Concepcion Church at Macalelon, Quezon,
purporting to show that Estaben Mallare (respondent's father) is
the natural son of Ana Mallare, a Filipino; and (2) testimonies of
certain persons who had a known Esteban Mallare and his mother
during their lifetime.
By resolution of July 31, 1969, this Court ruled:
Considering that the respondent, as a duly admitted
member of the bar, should be given ample opportunity to
establish the true facts about his citizenship and that no
effort should be spared to ascertain the truth before
strippling him of the privilege granted to him by this
Court since 1962, and denying him the practice of his
chosen profession which he has honorably discharged as
far as the records show:
The Court Resolved to set aside the decision of April 29,
1968 and to grant the re-opening and new trial prayed
for, which shall take place before the Court's
Investigating Officer on the days specified by him upon
notice to respondent Mallare, the Commissioner of
Immigration and the Solicitor General, wherein said
parties may adduce all proper additional evidence that
they may desire to present. The proofs taken at the
original investigation shall not be retaken, but considered
as part of the evidence in the new trial. Thereafter, the
163
Court Investigator shall submit his report on this
Tribunal. (Emphasis supplied)
Accordingly, the parties submitted their respective additional
evidences before the Court's investigator.
Respondent's petition to set aside the decision of this Court of
April 29, 1968, as well as the resolution of January 10, 1969, is
premised upon three basic arguments, to wit: (a) Respondent's
father, Esteban Mallare, being the natural son of Ana Mallare, a
Filipino, was a Filipino citizen; (b) Esteben Mallare, the son of a
Filipino mother, by his own overt acts, had chosen Philippine
citizenship; and (c) respondent, a legitimate son of Esteban
Mallare, is a Filipino citizen.
The determinative issue in this controversy, therefore, revolves
around the citizenship of respondent's father, Esteban Mallare,
for if Esteban were a Filipino as respondent claims, the latter
axiomatically would also be a Filipino and the objection against his
inclusion in the Roll of Attorneys in the Philippines would lose
legal basis.
After a painstaking study of the original and additional evidences
herein presented, the Court finds sufficient grounds to warrant a
definite setting aside of Our decision of April 29, 1968, and a
definitive declaration that respondent Florencio Mallare is a
Filipino citizen and therefore with qualification and right to
continue the practice of law in the Philippines.
To support his contention that respondent Florencio Mallare is
not a Filipino, the Commissioner of Immigration presented:
Exhibits "A" and "B", Opinions Nos. 90 and 166 of the Secretary of
Justice dated March 31, 1955 and July 10, 1959, respectively, to
the effect that respondent and his brothers and sisters had failed
to establish their claim to Philippine citizenship;

164
Exhibit "C", the death certificate of Esteban Mallare dated June 7,
1945, wherein he was reported to be of Chinese nationality;
Exhibits "D", "E", "F" and "G", the birth certificates of respondent,
his brothers and sisters, dated October 23, 1929, November 8,
1932, October 26, 1939, and February 10, 1943, respectively,
stating that their father was a Chinese citizen, born in Amoy,
China, and wherein respondent was reported to be a Chinese,
born in Macalelon, Quezon;
Exhibits "H" to "M" the records of Civil Case No. 329-G and
Special Proceeding No. 3925, both of the Court of First Instance of
Quezon; and
Exhibit "N", respondent's alien certificate of registration, dated
August 25, 1950.
Upon the other hand, respondent submitted
Exhibit "1", the decision of the Court of First Instance of Quezon in
Civil Case No. 329-G, dated November 18, 1959, upholding the
validity of a contract of sale, the vendees therein (including
respondent) being citizens of the Philippines;
Exhibit "2", an order by the Acting Commissioner of Immigration,
canceling respondent's alien certificate of registration on the
strength of the court's decision in Civil Case No. 329-G; Exhibit
"3", identification certificate No. 11712 issued by the Bureau of
Immigration, declaring respondent "as a citizen of the Philippines
by birth being the legitimate son of Esteban Mallare, a Filipino
citizen as 'per order of this office dated 8 June 1960 CEBNO 4223-
R'";
Exhibit "4", final order of the Court of First Instance of Quezon,
dated November 28, 1960, in Special Proceedings No. 3925,
ordering the Municipal Treasurer of Macalelon, Quezon, to
correct the entry in the Registry of Birth book of the municipality
by changing respondent's nationality from "Chinese" to "Filipino";
165
Exhibit "5", respondent's affidavit dated October 7, 1961 showing
him to be a registered voter of Macalelon, Quezon;
Exhibit "6", respondent's passport issued on March 5, 1962,
showing that he is a citizen of the Philippines;
Exhibit "7", opinion of the Solicitor General, dated July 25, 1962,
recognizing respondent Florencio Mallare as a Filipino citizen;
Exhibit "L", landing certificate of Te Na (respondent's mother),
dated July 7, 1926, wherein she was certified as "wife of P.I.
citizen";
Exhibit "K-9", certification by the municipal treasurer of
Macalelon, Quezon that Esteban Mallare was registered in the
Registry List of Voters on April 14, 1928; and
The entry in the baptismal registry of the Immaculate Concepcion
Church at Macalelon, Quezon, purporting to show that Esteban
Mallare was the natural child of Ana Mallare, a Filipina.
Respondent also presented the following residents of Macalelon,
Quezon:
(a) Damiana Cabangon, 80 years old who declared that she was
with her mother, the "hilot" who attended to Ana Mallare during
her delivery, when Esteban Mallare was born; 1 that she was
present when Esteban was baptized;2 that Ana Mallare had lived
continuously in Macalelon and was reputed to be
unmarried; 3 that she had never met (seen) Esteban's father, a
certain Mr. Dy. 4
(b) Rafael Catarroja 77 years old and former mayor of Macalelon
who declared that he knew Esteban Mallare even as a child; 5 that
Esteban was then living with his mother, Ana Mallare, a Tagala,
who was cohabiting with a Chinese;6 that Esteban started voting
in 1934, and became one of his (the witness') campaign leaders
when he ran for the mayor ship in 1934. 7
166
(c) Salomon Gimenez, 75 years old and former mayor of
Macalelon, who declared having known Esteban Mallare; that in
the elections of l925, when Esteban campaigned for a rival
candidate against him, he (the witness) wanted to seek for
Esteban's disqualification; that he sought the counsel of Judge
Gaudencio Eleazar (a relative of the witness), who advised him
that a disqualification move would not prosper because Esteban's
mother was not married to Esteban's Chinese father; 8 that as of
1940, when witness was municipal mayor, there were only about
3,000 residents in Macalelon. 9
(d) Joaquin Enobal, 69 years old, who declared that he was a
classmate and playmate of Esteban Mallare, whose house was
only about five houses away from theirs; 10 that he had not seen
the husband of Ana Mallare; 11 that Ana was a Tagalog who had
lived in Macalelon. 12
In Our decision of April 29, 1968, respondent's claim that he is a
Filipino was denied for lack of evidence proving the Philippine
citizenship of his father, Esteban Mallare. It was ruled that Ana
Mallare (Esteban's mother) can not be considered a Filipino, there
being no proof that she was "an inhabitant of the Philippines
continuing to reside therein who was a Spanish subject on the
eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine"; that the
landing certificate issued by the Bureau of Immigration which
referred to respondent's mother, Te Na, as "wife of Dy Esteban,
P.I. citizen", was based upon an ex parte determination of the
evidence presented by therein applicant and consequently carries
little evidentiary weight as to the citizenship of her said husband;
and that the affidavit of Esteban Mallare, executed on February
20, 1939, to the effect that he had chosen to follow the
citizenship of his Filipino mother was not only self-serving, but
also it can not be considered a re-affirmation of the alleged
election of citizenship since no previous election of such
citizenship has been proved to exist.

167
With the additional evidence submitted by respondent pursuant
to the authority granted by this Court, the aforementioned void in
the proof of respondent's citizenship has been duly filled.
The witnesses, all natives of Macalelon, who had personal
knowledge of the person, birth and residency of both Ana Mallare
and her son Esteban, were one in their declaration that Ana
Mallare is a Tagalog who had continuously resided in the place,
and that Esteban, her son, was reputedly born out of wedlock.
Such declarations constitute admissible evidence of the birth and
illegitimacy of Esteban Mallare. Reputation has been held
admissible as evidence of age, birth, race, or race-ancestry, and
on the question of whether a child was born alive. Unlike that of
matters of pedigree, general reputation of marriage may proceed
from persons who are not members of the family the reason
for the distinction is the public interest that is taken in the
question of the existence of marital relations. 13
The principle could not have been more true than in a Philippine
rural community where relationships not in conformity with
established contentions become the subject of criticisms and
public cynosure. Thus, the public reputation in Macalelon that
Esteban was Ana's natural child, testified to by the witness, would
constitute proof of the illegitimacy of the former. Besides, if
Estaban were really born out of legal union, it is highly improbable
that he would be keeping the surname "Mallare" after his mother,
instead of adopting that of his father. And it would be straining
the imagination to perceive that this situation was purposedly
sought by Esteban's parents to suit some ulterior motives. In
1903, we can not concede that alien inhabitants of his country
were that sophisticated or legally-oriented.
The assertion of the witnesses, which have not been
controverted, that Ana Mallare is a Tagalog (and, therefore, a
Filipino citizen), cannot be assailed as being mere conclusions
devoid of evidentiary value. The declarations were not only based
168
on the reputation in the community regarding her race or race-
ancestry, which is admissible in evidence, but they must have
certain factual basis. For it must be realized that in this Philippine
society, every region possesses certain characteristics all its own.
Thus, a Tagalog would normally detect if a person hails from the
same region even from the way the latter speaks. Considering
that the witnesses testified having known, and lived with, Ana
Mallare in Macalelon, their declaration that she is a Tagalog
should receive a high degree of credibility.
Esteban Mallare, natural child of Ana Mallare, a Filipina, is
therefore himself a Filipino, and no other act would be necessary
to confer on him all the rights and privileges attached to
Philippine citizenship (U.S. vs. Ong Tianse, 29 Phil. 332; Santos Co
vs. Government of the Philippine Islands, 42 Phil. 543; Serra vs.
Republic, L-4223, May 12, 1952; Sy Quimsuan vs. Republic, L-
4693, Feb. 16, 1953; Pitallano vs. Republic, L-5111, June 28, 1954).
Neither could any act taken on the erroneous belief that he is a
non-Filipino divest him of the citizenship privileges to which he is
rightfully entitled. 14
And even assuming arguendo that Ana Mallare were legally
married to an alien, Esteban's exercise of the right of suffrage
when he came of age, constitutes a positive act of election of
Philippine citizenship. It has been established that Esteban
Mallare was a registered voter as of April 14, 1928 (Exh. "K-9"),
and that as early as 1925 (when he was about 22 years old),
Esteban was already participating in the elections and
campaigning for certain candidate. These acts are sufficient to
show his preference for Philippine citizenship. 15 Indeed, it would
be unfair to expect the presentation of a formal deed to that
effect considering that prior to the enactment of Commonwealth
Act 625 on June 7, 1941, no particular proceeding was required to
exercise the option to elect Philippine citizenship, granted to the
proper party by Section 1, subsection 4, Article IV of the 1935
Philippine Constitution.
169
It is true that in the death certificate of Esteban Mallare (Exh. "C"),
he was referred to as a Chinese national, and in the birth
certificates of respondent and his brothers and sister (Exhs. "D",
"E", "F" and "G"), they were declared to be of Chinese nationality.
Respondent likewise appeared to have applied for alien
registration on August 25, 1950 (Exh. "N"). While said documents
are public and the entries therein are, consequently, presumed to
be correct, such presumption is merely disputable and will have to
yield to more positive evidence establishing their inaccuracy.
Artemio Mallare, Esteban's eldest son and who supposedly
supplied the data appearing in Exhibit "C", denied having any
hand in the funeral arrangements and the preparation of the said
death certification of his father. He declared that he was merely
16 years old when his father met his death in an accident in 1945,
and he came to know of it only when he was brought to the
funeral parlor on the following day. 16 The entries in the birth
certificates (Exhs. "D", "E", and "G"), on the other hand, appeared
to have been prepared upon information given by the nurse or
midwife who attended to respondent's mother during her
deliveries and who would have no knowledge of the actual fact of
the place of birth and the citizenship of Esteban, the father; and in
the case of respondent Florencio Mallare, the informant was
neither his father or mother; it was Maria Arana a "hilot". In the
case of the birth certificate of Esperanza Mallare (Exh. "F"), the
informant appeared to be Esteban Mallare himself. It is noted,
however, that no proof has been presented to show that it was
Esteban Mallare who personally gave the information that the
child's and parents' nationality is Chinese. And any error on his
part can not affect respondent Florencio Mallare. With respect to
the registration of respondent as a citizen of China in 1950 (Exh.
"N"), it was explained that this was secured by respondent's
mother, on the belief that upon the death of her husband,
Esteban Mallare, she and her children reverted to Chinese
citizenship. At any rate, even assuming that said documents were
170
prepared with actual knowledge and consent by respondent or by
his parents, on the erroneous belief that Esteban was a non-
Filipino, such acts would not cause the loss or forfeiture of
Philippine citizenship 17 which Esteban acquired from his Filipino
mother.
Complainant places much emphasis on the convicting testimonies
of the expert witnesses on the entry in the baptismal registry of
the Immaculate Concepcion church. The discrepancy in the
testimonies of said witnesses, however, loses significance in the
face of the finding, based on other evidence that Esteban Mallare
is the natural child of Ana Mallare, born to her in 1903 at
Macalelon, Quezon.
Upon the foregoing considerations, and on the basis of the
original and additional evidence herein adduced the decision of
this Court dated April 29, 1968, is hereby definitely set aside, and
the complaint in this case is DISMISSED, without pronouncement
as to costs.
Makalintal, C.J., Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo,
Antonio, Esguerra, Muoz Palma and Aquino, JJ., concur.
Makasiar, J., took no part.

171
AZNAR VS COMELEC VS OSMENA
G.R. No. 83820 May 25, 1990
JOSE B. AZNAR (as Provincial Chairman of PDP Laban in
Cebu), petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EMILIO MARIO RENNER
OSMEA, respondents.
Rufino B. Requina for petitioner.
Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala & Cruz for private respondent.

PARAS, J.:
Before Us is a petition for certiorari assailing the Resolution of the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) dated June 11, 1988, which
dismissed the petition for the disqualification of private
respondent Emilio "Lito" Osmea as candidate for Provincial
Governor of Cebu Province.
The facts of the case are briefly as follows:
On November 19, 1987, private respondent Emilio "Lito" Osmea
filed his certificate of candidacy with the COMELEC for the
position of Provincial Governor of Cebu Province in the January
18, 1988 local elections.
On January 22, 1988, the Cebu PDP-Laban Provincial Council
(Cebu-PDP Laban, for short), as represented by petitioner Jose B.
Aznar in his capacity as its incumbent Provincial Chairman, filed
with the COMELEC a petition for the disqualification of private
respondent on the ground that he is allegedly not a Filipino
citizen, being a citizen of the United States of America.

172
On January 27, 1988, petitioner filed a Formal Manifestation
submitting a Certificate issued by the then Immigration and
Deportation Commissioner Miriam Defensor Santiago certifying
that private respondent is an American and is a holder of Alien
Certificate of Registration (ACR) No. B-21448 and Immigrant
Certificate of Residence (ICR) No. 133911, issued at Manila on
March 27 and 28, 1958, respectively. (Annex "B-1").
The petitioner also filed a Supplemental Urgent Ex-Parte Motion
for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order to temporarily
enjoin the Cebu Provincial Board of Canvassers from
tabulating/canvassing the votes cast in favor of private
respondent and proclaiming him until the final resolution of the
main petition.
Thus, on January 28, 1988, the COMELEC en banc resolved to
order the Board to continue canvassing but to suspend the
proclamation.
At the hearing before the COMELEC (First Division), the petitioner
presented the following exhibits tending to show that private
respondent is an American citizen: Application for Alien
Registration Form No. 1 of the Bureau of Immigration signed by
private respondent dated November 21, 1979 (Exh. "B"); Alien
Certificate of Registration No. 015356 in the name of private
respondent dated November 21, 1979 (Exh. "C"); Permit to Re-
enter the Philippines dated November 21, 1979 (Exh. "D");
Immigration Certificate of Clearance dated January 3, 1980 (Exh.
"E"). (pp. 117-118, Rollo)
Private respondent, on the other hand, maintained that he is a
Filipino citizen, alleging: that he is the legitimate child of Dr. Emilio
D. Osmea, a Filipino and son of the late President Sergio
Osmea, Sr.; that he is a holder of a valid and subsisting Philippine
Passport No. 0855103 issued on March 25, 1987; that he has been
continuously residing in the Philippines since birth and has not
gone out of the country for more than six months; and that he has
173
been a registered voter in the Philippines since 1965. (pp. 107-
108, Rollo)
On March 3, 1988, COMELEC (First Division) directed the Board of
Canvassers to proclaim the winning candidates. Having obtained
the highest number of votes, private respondent was proclaimed
the Provincial Governor of Cebu.
Thereafter, on June 11, 1988, COMELEC (First Division) dismissed
the petition for disqualification for not having been timely filed
and for lack of sufficient proof that private respondent is not a
Filipino citizen.
Hence, the present petition.
The petition is not meritorious.
There are two instances where a petition questioning the
qualifications of a registered candidate to run for the office for
which his certificate of candidacy was filed can be raised under
the Omnibus Election Code (B.P. Blg. 881), to wit:
(1) Before election, pursuant to Section 78 thereof which
provides that:
'Section 78. Petition to deny due course or to cancel a
certificate of candidacy. A verified petition seeking to
deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy
may be filed by any person exclusively on the ground
that any material representation contained therein as
required under Section 74 hereof is false. The petition
may be filed at any time not later than twenty-five days
from the time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy
and shall be decided, after the notice and hearing, not
later than fifteen days before the election.
and
(2) After election, pursuant to Section 253 thereof, viz:
174
'Sec. 253. Petition for quo warranto. Any
voter contesting the election of any Member of the
Batasang Pambansa, regional, provincial, or city officer
on the ground of ineligibility or of disloyalty to the
Republic of the Philippines shall file a sworn petition
for quo warranto with the Commission within ten days
after the proclamation of the results of the election.
The records show that private respondent filed his certificate of
candidacy on November 19, 1987 and that the petitioner filed its
petition for disqualification of said private respondent on January
22, 1988. Since the petition for disqualification was filed beyond
the twenty five-day period required in Section 78 of the Omnibus
Election Code, it is clear that said petition was filed out of time.
The petition for the disqualification of private respondent cannot
also be treated as a petition for quo warrantounder Section 253 of
the same Code as it is unquestionably premature, considering that
private respondent was proclaimed Provincial Governor of Cebu
only on March 3, 1988.
However, We deem it is a matter of public interest to ascertain
the respondent's citizenship and qualification to hold the public
office to which he has been proclaimed elected. There is enough
basis for us to rule directly on the merits of the case, as the
COMELEC did below.
Petitioner's contention that private respondent is not a Filipino
citizen and, therefore, disqualified from running for and being
elected to the office of Provincial Governor of Cebu, is not
supported by substantial and convincing evidence.
In the proceedings before the COMELEC, the petitioner failed to
present direct proof that private respondent had lost his Filipino
citizenship by any of the modes provided for under C.A. No. 63.
Among others, these are: (1) by naturalization in a foreign
country; (2) by express renunciation of citizenship; and (3) by
175
subscribing to an oath of allegiance to support the Constitution or
laws of a foreign country. From the evidence, it is clear that
private respondent Osmea did not lose his Philippine citizenship
by any of the three mentioned hereinabove or by any other mode
of losing Philippine citizenship.
In concluding that private respondent had been naturalized as a
citizen of the United States of America, the petitioner merely
relied on the fact that private respondent was issued alien
certificate of registration and was given clearance and permit to
re-enter the Philippines by the Commission on Immigration and
Deportation. Petitioner assumed that because of the foregoing,
the respondent is an American and "being an American", private
respondent "must have taken and sworn to the Oath of Allegiance
required by the U.S. Naturalization Laws." (p. 81, Rollo)
Philippine courts are only allowed to determine who are Filipino
citizens and who are not. Whether or not a person is considered
an American under the laws of the United States does not
concern Us here.
By virtue of his being the son of a Filipino father, the presumption
that private respondent is a Filipino remains. It was incumbent
upon the petitioner to prove that private respondent had lost his
Philippine citizenship. As earlier stated, however, the petitioner
failed to positively establish this fact.
The cases of Juan Gallanosa Frivaldo v. COMELEC et al, (G.R. No.
87193, June 21, 1989) and Ramon L. Labo v. COMELEC et al (G.R.
No. 86564, August 1, 1989) are not applicable to the case at bar.
In the Frivaldo case, evidence shows that he was naturalized as a
citizen of the United States in 1983 per certification from the
United States District Court, Northern District of California, as duly
authenticated by Vice Consul Amado P. Cortez of the Philippine
Consulate General in San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

176
Frivaldo expressly admitted in his answer that he was naturalized
in the United States but claimed that he was forced to embrace
American citizenship to protect himself from the persecution of
the Marcos government. The Court, however, found this
suggestion of involuntariness unacceptable, pointing out that
there were many other Filipinos in the United States similarly
situated as Frivaldo who did not find it necessary to abandon their
status as Filipinos.
Likewise, in the case of Labo, records show that Labo was married
to an Australian citizen and that he was naturalized as an
Australian citizen in 1976, per certification from the Australian
Government through its Consul in the Philippines. This was later
affirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The authenticity of the above evidence was not disputed by Labo.
In fact, in a number of sworn statements, Labo categorically
declared that he was a citizen of Australia.
In declaring both Frivaldo and Labo not citizens of the Philippines,
therefore, disqualified from serving as Governor of the Province
of Sorsogon and Mayor of Baguio City, respectively, the Court
considered the fact that by their own admissions, they are
indubitably aliens, no longer owing any allegiance to the Republic
of the Philippines since they have sworn their total allegiance to a
foreign state.
In the instant case, private respondent vehemently denies having
taken the oath of allegiance of the United States (p. 81, Rollo). He
is a holder of a valid and subsisting Philippine passport and has
continuously participated in the electoral process in this country
since 1963 up to the present, both as a voter and as a candidate
(pp. 107-108, Rollo). Thus, private respondent remains a Filipino
and the loss of his Philippine citizenship cannot be presumed.
In the learned dissent of Mr. Justice Teodoro Padilla, he stresses
the fact that because Osmea obtained Certificates of Alien
177
Registration as an American citizen, the first in 1958 when he was
24 years old and the second in 1979, he, Osmea should be
regarded as having expressly renounced Philippine citizenship. To
Our mind, this is a case of non sequitur (It does not follow).
Considering the fact that admittedly Osmea was both a Filipino
and an American, the mere fact that he has a Certificate stating he
is an American does not mean that he is not still a Filipino. Thus,
by way of analogy, if a person who has two brothers named Jose
and Mario states or certifies that he has a brother named Jose,
this does not mean that he does not have a brother named Mario;
or if a person is enrolled as student simultaneously in two
universities, namely University X and University Y, presents a
Certification that he is a student of University X, this does not
necessarily mean that he is not still a student of University Y. In
the case of Osmea, the Certification that he is an American does
not mean that he is not still a Filipino, possessed as he is, of both
nationalities or citizenships. Indeed, there is no express
renunciation here of Philippine citizenship; truth to tell, there is
even no implied renunciation of said citizenship. When We
consider that the renunciation needed to lose Philippine
citizenship must be "express", it stands to reason that there can
be no such loss of Philippine 'citizenship when there is no
renunciation either "'express" or "implied".
Parenthetically, the statement in the 1987 Constitution that "dual
allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall
be dealt with by law"(Art. IV, Sec. 5) has no retroactive effect. And
while it is true that even before the 1987 Constitution, Our
country had already frowned upon the concept of dual citizenship
or allegiance, the fact is it actually existed. Be it noted further that
under the aforecited proviso, the effect of such dual citizenship or
allegiance shall be dealt with by a future law. Said law has not yet
been enacted.
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED and
the Resolution of the COMELEC is hereby AFFIRMED.
178
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ.,
concur.
Feliciano, J., I concur. I also join in the concurring opinion of Justice
Sarmiento.
Cortes, J., concur in the result.
Fernan, C.J., took no part.
Gancayco, J., is on leave.

Separate Opinions

SARMIENTO, J., concurring:


The majority seems agreed that the private respondent has
acquired American citizenship, only that he did not necessarily
lose his Filipino citizenship. The important question, however,
inheres in how he obtained American citizenship. I find that there
is a dearth of facts here.
For, if the private respondent became an American by
naturalization, he has lost Filipino citizenship (Com. Act No. 63;
Frivaldo v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 87193, June 21, 1989; Labo v.
COMELEC, G.R. No. 86564, August 1, 1989). If he, however,
became one by the application of the principle of jus soli it is by
force of circumstances rather than choice. But he does not lose
his Filipino citizenship, if he were otherwise born of Filipino
parents.

179
In the absence of evidence, we can not presume that he had
ceased to be a citizen of the Philippines, simply because he is, at
the same time. a citizen of the United States. There must be a
clear showing that he lost his Filipino citizenship by any of the
means enumerated by Commonwealth Act No. 63. The fact that
he had obtained an alien certificate of registration, standing
alone, does not amount to "express renunciation."

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., dissenting:


I join the dissent of Messrs. Justices Isagani A. Cruz and Teodoro
R. Padilla.
While it may be that dual citizenship usually results from accident
of birth, a choice will have to be made by the individual concerned
at some point in time in his life, involving as it does the priceless
heritage of citizenship.
That election was made by private respondent when, in 1958, at
the age of 24, and in 1979, at 45, he obtained Alien Certificates of
Registration. Registration as an alien is a clear and unambiguous
act or declaration that one is not a citizen. If, in fact, private
respondent was merely compelled to so register because of the
"uncooperativeness" of the past regime, he could have, under the
new dispensation, asked for the cancellation of those Alien
Certificates and abandoned his alienage, specially before he ran
for public office in 1988.
The 1987 Constitution declares in no uncertain terms that "dual
allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall
be dealt with by law" (Article IV, Section 5). That statement is but
a reaffirmation of an innate conviction shared by every Filipino.
The law referred to need not be awaited for one to consider
giving up the legal convenience of dual citizenship.
Accordingly, I vote to grant the Petition.
180
CRUZ, J., dissenting:
I join Mr. Justice Padilla in his dissent.
It seems to me that when a person voluntarily registers as an
alien, he is in effect affirming that he is not a citizen. The terms
"citizen" and "alien" are mutually exclusive from the viewpoint of
municipal law, which is what really matters in the case at bar.
Under this discipline, one is either a citizen of the local state or he
is not; and the question is resolved on the basis of its own laws
alone and not those of any other state.
One of the several modes of losing Philippine citizenship under
C.A. No. 63 is by "express renunciation" thereof. In the case
of Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 87193, June
23,1989, there was such renunciation when the petitioner took an
oath as a naturalized citizen of the United States in which he
renounced all allegiance to all other states. In the case of Labo v.
Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 86546, August 1, 1989, the
petitioner not only took a similar oath after his naturalization in
Australia but also executed other documents in which he stated
that he was not a Filipino.
The fact that his naturalization was later revoked did not also
invalidate his disavowal of Philippine citizenship. "Express
renunciation" is a separate mode of losing Philippine citizenship
and is not necessarily dependent on "naturalization in a foreign
country," which is another and different mode.
When a person rejects and divorces his wife to enter into a
second marriage, he cannot say he still loves her despite his
desertion. The undeniable fact is that he has left her for another
woman to whom he has totally and solemnly transferred his troth.
It does him no credit when he protests he married a second time
simply for material convenience and that his heart still belongs to

181
the wife he has abandoned. At worst, it would reveal his sordid
and deceitful character.
By the same token, professing continued allegiance to the
Philippines after renouncing it because of its meager resources, or
for other ulterior and equally base reasons, is to me a paltry form
of patriotism. It is a sop to the repudiated state and a slight to the
adopted state. No matter how noble this attitude may appear to
others, it is to me nothing less than plain and simple hypocrisy
that we should not condone, let alone extol.
Coming now to the case at bar, I note first of all that no
naturalization is involved here as the private respondent claims to
be a citizen both of the Philippines and of the United States. The
question I think we must answer is: Was there an express
renunciation of Philippine citizenship by the private respondent
when he knowingly and voluntarily registered as an alien with the
Commission of Immigration and Deportation in 1958 and in 1979?
In Yu v. Commission of Immigration and Deportation, G.R. No.
83882, January 24, 1989, I made the following observations in a
separate opinion:
Regretfully, I cannot agree with the finding that the petitioner has
expressly renounced his Philippine citizenship. The evidence on
this point is in my view rather meager. Express renunciation of
citizenship as a made of losing citizenship under Com. Act No. 63
is an unequivocal and deliberate act with full awareness of its
significance and consequences. I do not think the "commercial
documents he signed" suggest such categorical disclaimer.
That case is distinguished from the one before us now in that Yu
did not ask the Philippine government to register him as an alien.
Gov. Osmea did.
It is my opinion that if the governor had confined himself to
simply seeking and using an American passport, these acts could

182
not have by themselves alone constituted a repudiation of
Philippine citizenship. The problem, though, is that he did more
than enjoy this legal convenience. What he actually did was
register with the Philippine government as an alien within its own
territory, presumably so he could be insulated from the
jurisdiction it exercises over its nationals. This was a voluntary act.
As a citizen of the Philippines, he was not required to register as
an alien. Nevertheless, he chose to do so of his own free will. By
this decision, he categorically asked the Republic of the
Philippines to treat him as an American and not a Filipino,
choosing to be an alien in this land that was willing to consider
him its own.
C.A. No. 63 does not necessarily require that the express
renunciation of Philippine citizenship be made in connection with
the naturalization of the erstwhile Filipino in a foreign country.
Renunciation may be made independently of naturalization
proceedings. Moreover, no sacramental words are prescribed by
the statute for the express renunciation of Philippine citizenship.
As long as the repudiation is categorical enough and the
preference for the foreign state is unmistakable, as in the case at
bar, Philippine citizenship is lost.
The private respondent would have his cake and eat it too, but
this can never be allowed where Philippine citizenship is involved.
It is a gift that must be deserved to be retained. The Philippines
for all her modest resources compared to those of other states, is
a jealous and possessive mother demanding total love and loyalty
from her children. It is bad enough that the love of the dual
national is shared with another state; what is worse is where he
formally rejects the Philippines, and in its own territory at that,
and offers his total devotion to the other state.
I am aware of the praiseworthy efforts of Gov. Osmea to
improve the province of Cebu, and also, I should add, of the
commendable record of Gov. Frivaldo and Mayor Labo in the
183
administration of their respective jurisdictions. But that is not the
point. The point is that it is not lawful to maintain in public office
any person who, although supported by the electorate, is not a
Filipino citizen. This is a relentless restriction we cannot ignore.
Regretfully, therefore, I must vote to GRANT the petition.

PADILLA, J., dissenting:


I am constrained to dissent.
I start from the premise that the private respondent Emilio Mario
Renner Osmea enjoyed at one time dual citizenship, i.e,,
Philippine and U.S. citizenships. He was born in the Philippines of
a Filipino father and an American (U.S.) mother. However, his
sworn application for alien registration dated 21 November 1979
(Exh. B) filed with the Philippine immigration authorities was, in
my view, an express renunciation of his Philippine citizenship. As
held in Board of Immigration Commissioners vs. Go
Callano 1 express renunciation means a renunciation that is made
known distinctly and explicitly and not left to inference or
implication.
Nothing can be more distinct and explicit than when a dual
citizenship holder-like the private respondent of age, and with full
legal capacity to act, voluntarily and under oath applies with the
Philippine Government for registration as an alien, insofar as his
intention not to remain a Filipino citizen is concerned. And
because of that distinct and explicit manifestation of desire to be
considered an alien in the Philippines, the Philippine immigration
authorities issued to private respondent Alien Certificate of
Registration No. 015356 dated 21 November 1979 (Exh. C), Permit
to Re- enter the Philippines No. 122018 dated 21 November 1979
(Exh. D) and Immigration Certificate of Clearance No. D-146483
dated 3 January 1980 (Exh E) 2

184
All the foregoing documents issued by the Philippine immigration
authorities to the private respondent at his request are
predicated on the proposition that private respondent is an alien
under Philippine laws. It should also be mentioned that, while not
marked as exhibit in the case at bar, private respondent was
likewise issued in Cebu City Native Born Certificate of Residence
No. 115883 on 21 November 1979 (as verified from Immigration
records). This document, copy of which is attached hereto as
Annex A, is again predicated on the proposition that private
respondent is a duly-registered align (American) residing in the
Philippines.
Another relevant document that merits attention is the
Application for Re-entry Permit executed and signed by private
respondent on 3 January 1980, again under oath, and verified
from the records at the CID wherein private respondent expressly
stated that he is a U.S. national. The importance of this document
cannot be underestimated For, if private respondent believed that
he is a Filipino citizen, he would not have executed said
Application for Re-entry Permit, since it is the right of every
Filipino citizen to return to his country (the Philippines). The fact,
therefore, that private respondent executed said sworn
Application for Re-entry Permit, copy of which is attached hereto
as Annex B, is again an abundant proof that he himself, no less,
believed that he was, as he continuous to be, a resident alien
(American) in the Philippines.
It will further be noted that earlier, or in 1958, private respondent
had already registered as an alien with the Bureau of Immigration
under the Alien Registration Act of 1950 RA 562). Section 1 of said
Act provides:
SECTION 1. Aliens residing in the Philippines shall, within
thirty days after the approval of this Act, apply for
registration, in the case of those residing in the City of
Manila, at the Bureau of Immigration and in the case of
185
those residing in other localities at the office of the city
or municipal treasurers, or at any other office designated
by the President. ... . 3 (Emphasis supplied)
Accordingly, per certification of the Commissioner of Immigration
and Deportation Miriam Defensor Santiago (Exh. A), issued on 26
January 1988, private respondent had been issued ACR No. B-21-
448 and ICR No. 13391 on 27 and 28 March 1958 respectively. He,
therefore, registered himself in the Philippines as an alien twice;
first, in the year 1958, when he was 24 years old and again in
1979, when he was 45 years old. By twice registering under oath
as an alien with the Bureau of Immigration, private respondent
thereby clearly, distinctly and explicitly manifested and declared
that he was an alien (and, therefore, not a Filipino citizen) residing
in the Philippines and under its laws.
At this point, and to be objectively fair to the private respondent,
a clarification should be made. In his Comment on the Petition at
bar (Rollo, p. 81), it is stated by his counsel that he (private
respondent) was born in 1934 hence, our mathematical
conclusion that when he first registered as an alien in 1958, he
was 24 years old and in 1979 when he re-registered as an alien, he
was 45 years old. However, private respondent's immigration
records disclose that he was born in 1938 (not in 1934). On the
assumption that the year 1938 is the correct year of birth of
private respondent (and that his alleged year of birth, 1934, as
stated in his Comment at bar is erroneous), then in 1958, when he
first registered as an alien, he was 20 years old, while in 1979
when he re-registered as an alien, he was 41 years old.
Still, his first registration as an alien (at age 20) has to be taken, in
my view, as an express renunciation of his Philippine citizenship,
because (1) at that time, he was almost 21 years old the age of
majority, and (2) more importantly, under the applicable Alien
Registration Act RA 562), an alien 14 years or over has to register
in person (and not through his parents or guardian). It provides:
186
The parent or legal guardian of an alien who is less than
fourteen years of age, shall have the duty of registering
such alien: Provided, That whenever any such alien
attains his fourteenth birthday in the Philippines he shall,
within fifteen days thereafter, apply in person for
registration. (Sec. 1, par. 2)
I take the above provision to mean that the choice by a dual
nationality holder on whether to remain a Filipino citizen or an
alien has to be made at age 14, and private respondent (although
a bit late) made the notice in 1958 (at age 20) in favor of his U.S.
citizenship.
If all the foregoing acts of express renunciation of Philippine
citizenship had been made or filed by private respondent
elsewhere (not with the Philippine Government), there could
perhaps be some room for contention that vis-a- vis the Philippine
Government, private respondent had not renounced his
Philippine citizenship. But said acts of express renunciation were
filed with the Philippine Government and done right in the
Philippines. In turn the Philippine Government, through the
immigration authorities, accepted and acted on private
respondent's aforesaid representations, and registered and
documented him TWICE as an alien under Philippine law.
The policy of our laws has been, and with laudable reason, to
discourage dual citizenship, because this condition or status
assumes as a necessary complement thereof dual allegiance at
the same time to two (2) different countries. As early as 16
September 1947, a unanimous Supreme Court, speaking thru Mr.
Justice Sabino Padilla in the celebrated case of Tan Chong vs.
Secretary of Labor, rejected the principle of jus soli as
determinative of Philippine citizenship, for the following reason,
among others:
... . Citizenship, the main integrate element of which is
allegiance, must not be taken lightly. Dual allegiance
187
must be discouraged and prevented. But the application
of the principle jus soli to persons born in this country of
alien parentage would encourage dual allegiance which
in the long run would be detrimental to both countries of
which such persons might claim to be citizens. 4
This policy found later expression in the 1987 Constitution which
now provides
Sec. 5. Dual allegiance of citizen is inimical to the national
interest and shall be dealt with by law. (Article IV)
Dual citizenship, in my considered opinion, must be eschewed.
While having the "best of two (2) words" maybe the result of birth
or other factors accidentally brought about, the "dual citizen" has
to make a choice at one time or another. Having two (2)
citizenships is, as I see it, similar in many ways to having two (2)
legal spouses, when as a matter of principle and sound public
policy, fealty to only one (1) spouse is both compelling and
certainly desirable.
Gordon and Rosenfield in their book on Immigration Law and
Procedure state:
Dual nationality is universally recognized as an
undesirable phenomenon. It inevitably results in
questionable loyalties and leads to international
conflicts. Dual nationality also makes possible the use of
citizenship as a badge of convenience rather than of
undivided loyalty. And it impairs the singleness of
commitment which is the hallmark of citizenship and
allegiance. A person should have a right to choose his
own nationality, and this choice should be honored by all
countries. However, he should not be entitled to claim
more than one nationality. 5 (Emphasis supplied)

188
Private respondent made a deliberate and decisive choice when
he asked the Philippine Government which, like many other
countries, considers dual allegiance as against national or public
interest to register him at least twice (and, therefore,
unmistakably) as an alien in this country. That choice pro
tanto was a renunciation of his Philippine citizenship. The choice
must be respected as a conscious and knowledgeable act of a
discerning, distinguished and respected person who must be
presumed to have known the full import of his acts.
Finally, the last thing that should be said against the Court is that
it is inconsistent in its rulings. In the light of its recent decision in
G.R. No. 86565 (Ramon L. Labo, Jr. vs. The Commission on
Elections, et al.) I see no valid justification for holding Mr. Labo an
alien upper Philippine law while holding private respondent
herein a Filipino citizen. For, as the majority states: "In fact, in a
number of sworn statements, Labo categorically declared that he
was a citizen of Australia" (p. 7, Decision). And is exactly what
private respondent did. In a number of sworn statements, he
declared that he was a citizen of the United States.
To Mr. Labo, the Court said, "so be it, you are an Australian," yet
to the private respondent, despite such sworn statements that he
is a U.S. citizen, the Court says, "never mind those sworn
statements, you are still a Filipino." Sauce for the goose, as the
saying goes, is sauce for the gander. The doctrinal basis of the
Court's decisions should be built on the merits, not on distinctions
that really make no difference.
ACCORDINGLY, I vote to GRANT the petition and to declare the
private respondent not a Filipino citizen by his own acts of express
renunciation of such citizenship.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:

189
My stand in the cases of Willie Yu vs. Miriam Defensor Santiago,
et al. (G.R. No, 83882, January 24, 1989) andRamon Labo, Jr, v.
Commission on Elections (G.R. 86564, August 2, 1989) is clear. I
regret, however, that I cannot participate in this case because one
of the principal counsel is my relative by affinity, within the fourth
civil degree.

Separate Opinions

SARMIENTO, J., concurring:


The majority seems agreed that the private respondent has
acquired American citizenship, offly that he did not necessarily
lose his Filipino citizenship. The important question, however,
inheres in how he obtained American citizenship. I find that there
is a dearth of facts here.
For, if the private respondent became an American by
naturalization, he has lost Filipino citizenship (Com. Act No. 63;
Frivaldo v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 87193, June 21, 1989; Labo v.
COMELEC, G.R. No. 86564, August 1, 1989). If he, however,
became one by the application of the principle of jus soli it is by
force of circumstances rather than choice. But he does not lose
his Filipino citizenship, if he were otherwise born of Filipino
parents.
In the absence of evidence, we can not presume that he had
ceased to be a citizen of the Philippines, simply because he is, at
the same time. a citizen of the United States. There must be a
clear showing that he lost his Filipino citizenship by any of the
means enumerated by Commonwealth Act No. 63. The fact that
he had obtained an alien certificate of registration, standing
alone, does not amount to "express renunciation."

190
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., dissenting:
I join the dissent of Messrs. Justices Isagani A. Cruz and Teodoro
R. Padilla.
While it may be that dual citizenship usually results from accident
of birth, a choice will have to be made by the individual concerned
at some point in time in his life, involving as it does the priceless
heritage of citizenship.
That election was made by private respondent when, in 1958, at
the age of 24, and in 1979, at 45, he obtained Alien Certificates of
Registration. Registration as an alien is a clear and unambiguous
act or declaration that one is not a citizen. If, in fact, private
respondent was merely compelled to so register because of the
"uncooperativeness" of the past regime, he could have, under the
new dispensation, asked for the cancellation of those Alien
Certificates and abandoned his alienage, specially before he ran
for public office in 1988.
The 1987 Constitution declares in no uncertain terms that "dual
allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall
be dealt with by law" (Article IV, Section 5). That statement is but
a reaffirmation of an innate conviction shared by every Filipino.
The law referred to need not be awaited for one to consider
giving up the legal convenience of dual citizenship.
Accordingly, I vote to grant the Petition.

CRUZ, J., dissenting:


I join Mr. Justice Padilla in his dissent.
It seems to me that when a person voluntarily registers as an
alien, he is in effect affirming that he is not a citizen. The terms
191
"citizen" and "alien" are mutually exclusive from the viewpoint of
municipal law, which is what really matters in the case at bar.
Under this discipline, one is either a citizen of the local state or he
is not; and the question is resolved on the basis of its own laws
alone and not those of any other state.
One of the several modes of losing Philippine citizenship under
C.A. No. 63 is by "express renunciation" thereof. In the case
of Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 87193, June
23,1989, there was such renunciation when the petitioner took an
oath as a naturalized citizen of the United States in which he
renounced all allegiance to all other states. In the case of Labo v.
Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 86546, August 1, 1989, the
petitioner not only took a similar oath after his naturalization in
Australia but also executed other documents in which he stated
that he was not a Filipino.
The fact that his naturalization was later revoked did not also
invalidate his disavowal of Philippine citizenship. "Express
renunciation" is a separate mode of losing Philippine citizenship
and is not necessarily dependent on "naturalization in a foreign
country," which is another and different mode.
When a person rejects and divorces his wife to enter into a
second marriage, he cannot say he still loves her despite his
desertion. The undeniable fact is that he has left her for another
woman to whom he has totally and solemnly transferred his troth.
It does him no credit when he protests he married a second time
simply for material convenience and that his heart still belongs to
the wife he has abandoned. At worst, it would reveal his sordid
and deceitful character.
By the same token, professing continued allegiance to the
Philippines after renouncing it because of its meager resources, or
for other ulterior and equally base reasons, is to me a paltry form
of patriotism. It is a sop to the repudiated state and a slight to the
adopted state. No matter how noble this attitude may appear to
192
others, it is to me nothing less than plain and simple hypocrisy
that we should not condone, let alone extol.
Coming now to the case at bar, I note first of all that no
naturalization is involved here as the private respondent claims to
be a citizen both of the Philippines and of the United States. The
question I think we must answer is: Was there an express
renunciation of Philippine citizenship by the private respondent
when he knowingly and voluntarily registered as an alien with the
Commission of Immigration and Deportation in 1958 and in 1979?
In Yu v. Commission of Immigration and Deportation, G.R. No.
83882, January 24, 1989, I made the following observations in a
separate opinion:
Regretfully, I cannot agree with the finding that the petitioner has
expressly renounced his Philippine citizenship. The evidence on
this point is in my view rather meager. Express renunciation of
citizenship as a made of losing citizenship under Com. Act No. 63
is an unequivocal and deliberate act with full awareness of its
significance and consequences. I do not think the "commercial
documents he signed" suggest such categorical disclaimer.
That case is distinguished from the one before us now in that Yu
did not ask the Philippine government to register him as an alien.
Gov. Osmea did.
It is my opinion that if the governor had confined himself to
simply seeking and using an American passport, these acts could
not have by themselves alone constituted a repudiation of
Philippine citizenship. The problem, though, is that he did more
than enjoy this legal convenience. What he actually did was
register with the Philippine government as an alien within its own
territory, presumably so he could be insulated from the
jurisdiction it exercises over its nationals. This was a voluntary act.
As a citizen of the Philippines, he was not required to register as
an alien. Nevertheless, he chose to do so of his own free will. By
193
this decision, he categorically asked the Republic of the
Philippines to treat him as an American and not a Filipino,
choosing to be an alien in this land that was willing to consider
him its own.
C.A. No. 63 does not necessarily require that the express
renunciation of Philippine citizenship be made in connection with
the naturalization of the erstwhile Filipino in a foreign country.
Renunciation may be made independently of naturalization
proceedings. Moreover, no sacramental words are prescribed by
the statute for the express renunciation of Philippine citizenship.
As long as the repudiation is categorical enough and the
preference for the foreign state is unmistakable, as in the case at
bar, Philippine citizenship is lost.
The private respondent would have his cake and eat it too, but
this can never be allowed where Philippine citizenship is involved.
It is a gift that must be deserved to be retained. The Philippines
for all her modest resources compared to those of other states, is
a jealous and possessive mother demanding total love and loyalty
from her children. It is bad enough that the love of the dual
national is shared with another state; what is worse is where he
formally rejects the Philippines, and in its own territory at that,
and offers his total devotion to the other state.
I am aware of the praiseworthy efforts of Gov. Osmea to
improve the province of Cebu, and also, I should add, of the
commendable record of Gov. Frivaldo and Mayor Labo in the
administration of their respective jurisdictions. But that is not the
point. The point is that it is not lawful to maintain in public office
any person who, although supported by the electorate, is not a
Filipino citizen. This is a relentless restriction we cannot ignore.
Regretfully, therefore, I must vote to GRANT the petition.

194
PADILLA, J., dissenting:
I am constrained to dissent.
I start from the premise that the private respondent Emilio Mario
Renner Osmea enjoyed at one time dual citizenship, i.e,,
Philippine and U.S. citizenships. He was born in the Philippines of
a Filipino father and an American (U.S.) mother. However, his
sworn application for alien registration dated 21 November 1979
(Exh. B) filed with the Philippine immigration authorities was, in
my view, an express renunciation of his Philippine citizenship. As
held in Board of Immigration Commissioners vs. Go
Callano 1 express renunciation means a renunciation that is made
known distinctly and explicitly and not left to inference or
implication.
Nothing can be more distinct and explicit than when a dual
citizenship holder-like the private respondent of age, and with full
legal capacity to act, voluntarily and under oath applies with the
Philippine Government for registration as an alien, insofar as his
intention not to remain a Filipino citizen is concerned. And
because of that distinct and explicit manifestation of desire to be
considered an alien in the Philippines, the Philippine immigration
authorities issued to private respondent Alien Certificate of
Registration No. 015356 dated 21 November 1979 (Exh. C), Permit
to Re- enter the Philippines No. 122018 dated 21 November 1979
(Exh. D) and Immigration Certificate of Clearance No. D-146483
dated 3 January 1980 (Exh E) 2
All the foregoing documents issued by the Philippine immigration
authorities to the private respondent at his request are
predicated on the proposition that private respondent is an alien
under Philippine laws. It should also be mentioned that, while not
marked as exhibit in the case at bar, private respondent was
likewise issued in Cebu City Native Born Certificate of Residence
No. 115883 on 21 November 1979 (as verified from Immigration
records). This document, copy of which is attached hereto as
195
Annex A, is again predicated on the proposition that private
respondent is a duly-registered alien (American) residing in the
Philippines.
Another relevant document that merits attention is the
Application for Re-entry Permit executed and signed by private
respondent on 3 January 1980, again under oath, and verified
from the records at the CID wherein private respondent expressly
stated that he is a U.S. national. The importance of this document
cannot be underestimated. For, if private respondent believed
that he is a Filipino citizen, he would not have executed said
Application for Re-entry Permit, since it is the right of every
Filipino citizen to return to his country (the Philippines). The fact,
therefore, that private respondent executed said sworn
Application for Re-entry Permit, copy of which is attached hereto
as Annex B, is again an abundant proof that he himself, no less,
believed that he was, as he continuous to be, a resident alien
(American) in the Philippines.
It will further be noted that earlier, or in 1958, private respondent
had already registered as an alien with the Bureau of Immigration
under the Alien Registration Act of 1950 RA 562). Section 1 of said
Act provides:
SECTION 1. Aliens residing in the Philippines shall, within
thirty days after the approval of this Act, apply for
registration, in the case of those residing in the City of
Manila, at the Bureau of Immigration and in the case of
those residing in other localities at the office of the city
or municipal treasurers, or at any other office designated
by the President. ... . 3 (Emphasis supplied)
Accordingly, per certification of the Commissioner of Immigration
and Deportation Miriam Defensor Santiago (Exh. A), issued on 26
January 1988, private respondent had been issued ACR No. B-21-
448 and ICR No. 13391 on 27 and 28 March 1958 respectively. He,
therefore, registered himself in the Philippines as an alien twice;
196
first, in the year 1958, when he was 24 years old and again in
1979, when he was 45 years old. By twice registering under oath
as an alien with the Bureau of Immigration, private respondent
thereby clearly, distinctly and explicitly manifested and declared
that he was an alien (and, therefore, not a Filipino citizen) residing
in the Philippines and under its laws.
At this point, and to be objectively fair to the private respondent,
a clarification should be made. In his Comment on the Petition at
bar (Rollo, p. 81), it is stated by his counsel that he (private
respondent) was born in 1934-hence, our mathematical
conclusion that when he first registered as an alien in 1958, he
was 24 years old and in 1979 when he re-registered as an alien, he
was 45 years old. However, private respondent's immigration
records disclose that he was born in 1938 (not in 1934). On the
assumption that the year 1938 is the correct year of birth of
private respondent (and that his alleged year of birth, 1934, as
stated in his Comment at bar is erroneous), then in 1958, when he
first registered as an alien, he was 20 years old, while in 1979
when he re-registered as an alien, he was 41 years old.
Still, his first registration as an alien (at age 20) has to be taken, in
my view, as an express renunciation of his Philippine citizenship,
because (1) at that time, he was almost 21 years old the age of
majority, and (2) more importantly, under the applicable Alien
Registration Act RA 562), an alien 14 years or over has to register
in person (and not through his parents or guardian). It provides:
The parent or legal guardian of an alien who is less than
fourteen years of age, shall have the duty of registering
such alien: Provided, That whenever any such alien
attains his fourteenth birthday in the Philippines he shall,
within fifteen days thereafter, apply in person for
registration. (Sec. 1, par. 2)
I take the above provision to mean that the choice by a dual
nationality holder on whether to remain a Filipino citizen or an
197
alien has to be made at age 14, and private respondent (although
a bit late) made the notice in 1958 (at age 20) in favor of his U.S.
citizenship.
If all the foregoing acts of express renunciation of Philippine
citizenship had been made or filed by private respondent
elsewhere (not with the Philippine Government), there could
perhaps be some room for contention that vis-a- vis the Philippine
Government, private respondent had not renounced his
Philippine citizenship. But said acts of express renunciation were
filed with the Philippine Government and done right in the
Philippines. In turn the Philippine Government, through the
immigration authorities, accepted and acted on private
respondent's aforesaid representations, and registered and
documented him TWICE as an alien under Philippine law.
The policy of our laws has been, and with laudable reason, to
discourage dual citizenship, because this condition or status
assumes as a necessary complement thereof dual allegiance at
the same time to two (2) different countries. As early as 16
September 1947, a unanimous Supreme Court, speaking thru Mr.
Justice Sabino Padilla in the celebrated case of Tan Chong vs.
Secretary of Labor, rejected the principle of jus soli as
determinative of Philippine citizenship, for the following reason,
among others:
... . Citizenship, the main integrate element of which is
allegiance, must not be taken lightly. Dual allegiance
must be discouraged and prevented. But the application
of the principle jus soli to persons born in this country of
alien parentage would encourage dual allegiance which
in the long run would be detrimental to both countries of
which such persons might claim to be citizens. 4
This policy found later expression in the 1987 Constitution which
now provides-

198
Sec. 5. Dual allegiance of citizen is inimical to the national
interest and shall be dealt with by law. (Article IV)
Dual citizenship, in my considered opinion, must be eschewed.
While having the "best of two (2) words" maybe the result of birth
or other factors accidentally brought about, the "dual citizen" has
to make a choice at one time or another. Having two (2)
citizenships is, as I see it, similar in many ways to having two (2)
legal spouses, when as a matter of principle and sound public
policy, fealty to only one (1) spouse is both compelling and
certainly desirable.
Gordon and Rosenfield in their book on Immigration Law and
Procedure state:
Dual nationality is universally recognized as an
undesirable phenomenon. It inevitably results in
questionable loyalties and leads to international
conflicts. Dual nationality also makes possible the use of
citizenship as a badge of convenience rather than of
undivided loyalty. And it impairs the singleness of
commitment which is the hallmark of citizenship and
allegiance. A person should have a right to choose his
own nationality, and this choice should be honored by all
countries. However, he should not be entitled to claim
more than one nationality. 5 (Emphasis supplied)
Private respondent made a deliberate and decisive choice when
he asked the Philippine Government which, like many other
countries, considers dual allegiance as against national or public
interest to register him at least twice (and, therefore,
unmistakably) as an alien in this country. That choice pro
tanto was a renunciation of his Philippine citizenship. The choice
must be respected as a conscious and knowledgeable act of a
discerning, distinguished and respected person who must be
presumed to have known the full import of his acts.

199
Finally, the last thing that should be said against the Court is that
it is inconsistent in its rulings. In the light of its recent decision in
G.R. No. 86565 (Ramon L. Labo, Jr. vs. The Commission on
Elections, et al.), I see no valid justification for holding Mr. Labo an
alien upper Philippine law while holding private respondent
herein a Filipino citizen. For, as the majority states: "In fact, in a
number of sworn statements, Labo categorically declared that he
was a citizen of Australia" (p. 7, Decision). And is exactly what
private respondent did. In a number of sworn statements, he
declared that he was a citizen of the United States.
To Mr. Labo, the Court said, "so be it, you are an Australian," yet
to the private respondent, despite such sworn statements that he
is a U.S. citizen, the Court says, "never mind those sworn
statements, you are still a Filipino." Sauce for the goose, as the
saying goes, is sauce for the gander The doctrinal basis of the
Court's decisions should be built on the merits, not on distinctions
that really make no difference.
ACCORDINGLY, I vote to GRANT the petition and to declare the
private respondent not a Filipino citizen by his own acts of express
renunciation of such citizenship.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J., separate opinion:


My stand in the cases of Willie Yu vs. Miriam Defensor Santiago,
et al. (G.R. No, 83882, January 24, 1989) andRamon Labo, Jr, v.
Commission on Elections (G.R. 86564, August 2, 1989) is clear. I
regret, however, that I cannot participate in this case because one
of the principal counsel is my relative by affinity, within the fourth
civil degree.

200
Separate Opinions
SARMIENTO, J., concurring:
The majority seems agreed that the private respondent has
acquired American citizenship, offly that he did not necessarily
lose his Filipino citizenship. The important question, however,
inheres in how he obtained American citizenship. I find that there
is a dearth of facts here.
For, if the private respondent became an American by
naturalization, he has lost Filipino citizenship (Com. Act No. 63;
Frivaldo v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 87193, June 21, 1989; Labo v.
COMELEC, G.R. No. 86564, August 1, 1989). If he, however,
became one by the application of the principle of jus soli it is by
force of circumstances rather than choice. But he does not lose
his Filipino citizenship, if he were otherwise born of Filipino
parents.
In the absence of evidence, we can not presume that he had
ceased to be a citizen of the Philippines, simply because he is, at
the same time. a citizen of the United States. There must be a
clear showing that he lost his Filipino citizenship by any of the
means enumerated by Commonwealth Act No. 63. The fact that
he had obtained an alien certificate of registration, standing
alone, does not amount to "express renunciation."

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., dissenting:


I join the dissent of Messrs. Justices Isagani A. Cruz and Teodoro
R. Padilla.
While it may be that dual citizenship usually results from accident
of birth, a choice will have to be made by the individual concerned
at some point in time in his life, involving as it does the priceless
heritage of citizenship.
201
That election was made by private respondent when, in 1958, at
the age of 24, and in 1979, at 45, he obtained Alien Certificates of
Registration. Registration as an alien is a clear and unambiguous
act or declaration that one is not a citizen. If, in fact, private
respondent was merely compelled to so register because of the
"uncooperativeness" of the past regime, he could have, under the
new dispensation, asked for the cancellation of those Alien
Certificates and abandoned his alienage, specially before he ran
for public office in 1988.
The 1987 Constitution declares in no uncertain terms that "dual
allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall
be dealt with by law" (Article IV, Section 5). That statement is but
a reaffirmation of an innate conviction shared by every Filipino.
The law referred to need not be awaited for one to consider
giving up the legal convenience of dual citizenship.
Accordingly, I vote to grant the Petition.

CRUZ, J., dissenting:


I join Mr. Justice Padilla in his dissent.
It seems to me that when a person voluntarily registers as an
alien, he is in effect affirming that he is not a citizen. The terms
"citizen" and "alien" are mutually exclusive from the viewpoint of
municipal law, which is what really matters in the case at bar.
Under this discipline, one is either a citizen of the local state or he
is not; and the question is resolved on the basis of its own laws
alone and not those of any other state.
One of the several modes of losing Philippine citizenship under
C.A. No. 63 is by "express renunciation" thereof. In the case of
Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 87193, June
23,1989, there was such renunciation when the petitioner took an
oath as a naturalized citizen of the United States in which he
202
renounced all allegiance to all other states. In the case of Labo v.
Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 86546, August 1, 1989, the
petitioner not only took a similar oath after his naturalization in
Australia but also executed other documents in which he stated
that he was not a Filipino.
The fact that his naturalization was later revoked did not also
invalidate his disavowal of Philippine citizenship. "Express
renunciation" is a separate mode of losing Philippine citizenship
and is not necessarily dependent on "naturalization in a foreign
country," which is another and different mode.
When a person rejects and divorces his wife to enter into a
second marriage, he cannot say he still loves her despite his
desertion. The undeniable fact is that he has left her for another
woman to whom he has totally and solemnly transferred his troth
It does him no credit when he protests he married a second time
simply for material convenience and that his heart still belongs to
the wife he has abandoned. At worst, it would reveal his sordid
and deceitful character.
By the same token, professing continued allegiance to the
Philippines after renouncing it because of its meager resources, or
for other ulterior and equally base reasons, is to me a paltry form
of patriotism. It is a sop to the repudiated state and a slight to the
adopted state. No matter how noble this attitude may appear to
others, it is to me nothing less than plain and simple hypocrisy
that we should not condone, let alone extol.
Coming now to the case at bar, I note first of all that no
naturalization is involved here as the private respondent claims to
be a citizen both of the Philippines and of the United States. The
question I think we must answer is: Was there an express
renunciation of Philippine citizenship by the private respondent
when he knowingly and voluntarily registered as an alien with the
Commission of Immigration and Deportation in 1958 and in 1979?

203
In Yu v. Commission of Immigration and Deportation, G.R. No.
83882, January 24, 1989, I made the following observations in a
separate opinion:
Regretfully, I cannot agree with the finding that the petitioner has
expressly renounced his Philippine citizenship. The evidence on
this point is in my view rather meager. Express renunciation of
citizenship as a made of losing citizenship under Com. Act No. 63
is an unequivocal and deliberate act with full awareness of its
significance and consequences. I do not think the "commercial
documents he signed" suggest such categorical disclaimer.
That case is distinguished from the one before us now in that Yu
did not ask the Philippine government to register him as an alien.
Gov. Osmea did.
It is my opinion that if the governor had confined himself to
simply seeking and using an American passport, these acts could
not have by themselves alone constituted a repudiation of
Philippine citizenship. The problem, though, is that he did more
than enjoy this legal convenience. What he actually did was
register with the Philippine government as an alien within its own
territory, presumably so he could be insulated from the
jurisdiction it exercises over its nationals. This was a voluntary act.
As a citizen of the Philippines, he was not required to register as
an alien. Nevertheless, he chose to do so of his own free will. By
this decision, he categorically asked the Republic of the
Philippines to treat him as an American and not a Filipino,
choosing to be an alien in this land that was willing to consider
him its own.
C.A. No. 63 does not necessarily require that the express
renunciation of Philippine citizenship be made in connection with
the naturalization of the erstwhile Filipino in a foreign country.
Renunciation may be made independently of naturalization
proceedings. Moreover, no sacramental words are prescribed by
the statute for the express renunciation of Philippine citizenship.
204
As long as the repudiation is categorical enough and the
preference for the foreign state is unmistakable, as in the case at
bar, Philippine citizenship is lost.
The private respondent would have his cake and eat it too, but
this can never be allowed where Philippine citizenship is involved.
It is a gift that must be deserved to be retained. The Philippines
for all her modest resources compared to those of other states, is
a jealous and possessive mother demanding total love and loyalty
from her children. It is bad enough that the love of the dual
national is shared with another state; what is worse is where he
formally rejects the Philippines, and in its own territory at that,
and offers his total devotion to the other state.
I am aware of the praiseworthy efforts of Gov. Osmea to
improve the province of Cebu, and also, I should add, of the
commendable record of Gov. Frivaldo and Mayor Labo in the
administration of their respective jurisdictions. But that is not the
point. The point is that it is not lawful to maintain in public office
any person who, although supported by the electorate, is not a
Filipino citizen. This is a relentless restriction we cannot ignore.
Regretfully, therefore, I must vote to GRANT the petition.

PADILLA, J., dissenting:


I am constrained to dissent.
I start from the premise that the private respondent Emilio Mario
Renner Osmea enjoyed at one time dual citizenship, i.e,,
Philippine and U.S. citizenships. He was born in the Philippines of
a Filipino father and an American (U.S.) mother. However, his
sworn application for alien registration dated 21 November 1979
(Exh. B) filed with the Philippine immigration authorities was, in
my view, an express renunciation of his Philippine citizenship. As
held in Board of Immigration Commissioners vs. Go
205
Callano 1 express renunciation means a renunciation that is made
known distinctly and explicitly and not left to inference or
implication.
Nothing can be more distinct and explicit than when a dual
citizenship holder-like the private respondent of age, and with full
legal capacity to act, voluntarily and under oath applies with the
Philippine Government for registration as an alien, insofar as his
intention not to remain a Filipino citizen is concerned. And
because of that distinct and explicit manifestation of desire to be
considered an alien in the Philippines, the Philippine immigration
authorities issued to private respondent Alien Certificate of
Registration No. 015356 dated 21 November 1979 (Exh. C), Permit
to Re- enter the Philippines No. 122018 dated 21 November 1979
(Exh. D) and Immigration Certificate of Clearance No. D-146483
dated 3 January 1980 (Exh E) 2
All the foregoing documents issued by the Philippine immigration
authorities to the private respondent at his request are
predicated on the proposition that private respondent is an alien
under Philippine laws. It should also be mentioned that, while not
marked as exhibit in the case at bar, private respondent was
likewise issued in Cebu City Native Born Certificate of Residence
No. 115883 on 21 November 1979 (as verified from Immigration
records). This document, copy of which is attached hereto as
Annex A, is again predicated on the proposition that private
respondent is a duly-registered align (American) residing in the
Philippines.
Another relevant document that merits attention is the
Application for Re-entry Permit executed and signed by private
respondent on 3 January 1980, again under oath, and verified
from the records at the CID wherein private respondent expressly
stated that he is a U.S. national. The importance of this document
cannot be underestimated For, if private respondent believed that
he is a Filipino citizen, he would not have executed said
206
Application for Re-entry Permit, since it is the right of every
Filipino citizen to return to his country (the Philippines). The fact,
therefore, that private respondent executed said sworn
Application for Re-entry Permit, copy of which is attached hereto
as Annex B, is again an abundant proof that he himself, no less,
believed that he was, as he continuous to be, a resident alien
(American) in the Philippines.
It will further be noted that earlier, or in 1958, private respondent
had already registered as an alien with the Bureau of Immigration
under the Alien Registration Act of 1950 RA 562). Section 1 of said
Act provides:
SECTION 1. Aliens residing in the Philippines shall, within
thirty days after the approval of this Act, apply for
registration, in the case of those residing in the City of
Manila, at the Bureau of Immigration and in the case of
those residing in other localities at the office of the city
or municipal treasurers, or at any other office designated
by the President. ... . 3 (Emphasis supplied)
Accordingly, per certification of the Commissioner of Immigration
and Deportation Miriam Defensor Santiago (Exh. A), issued on 26
January 1988, private respondent had been issued ACR No. B-21-
448 and ICR No. 13391 on 27 and 28 March 1958 respectively. He,
therefore, registered himself in the Philippines as an alien twice;
first, in the year 1958, when he was 24 years old and again in
1979, when he was 45 years old. By twice registering under oath
as an alien with the Bureau of Immigration, private respondent
thereby clearly, distinctly and explicitly manifested and declared
that he was an alien (and, therefore, not a Filipino citizen) residing
in the Philippines and under its laws.
At this point, and to be objectively fair to the private respondent,
a clarification should be made. In his Comment on the Petition at
bar (Rollo, p. 81), it is stated by his counsel that he (private
respondent) was born in 1934-hence, our mathematical
207
conclusion that when he first registered as an alien in 1958, he
was 24 years old and in 1979 when he re-registered as an alien, he
was 45 years old. However, private respondent's immigration
records disclose that he was born in 1938 (not in 1934). On the
assumption that the year 1938 is the correct year of birth of
private respondent (and that his alleged year of birth, 1934, as
stated in his Comment at bar is erroneous), then in 1958, when he
first registered as an alien, he was 20 years old, while in 1979
when he re-registered as an alien, he was 41 years old.
Still, his first registration as an alien (at age 20) has to be taken, in
my view, as an express renunciation of his Philippine citizenship,
because (1) at that time, he was almost 21 years old the age of
majority, and (2) more importantly, under the applicable Alien
Registration Act RA 562), an alien 14 years or over has to register
in person (and not through his parents or guardian). It provides:
The parent or legal guardian of an alien who is less than
fourteen years of age, shall have the duty of registering
such alien: Provided, That whenever any such alien
attains his fourteenth birthday in the Philippines he shall,
within fifteen days thereafter, apply in person for
registration. (Sec. 1, par. 2)
I take the above provision to mean that the choice by a dual
nationality holder on whether to remain a Filipino citizen or an
alien has to be made at age 14, and private respondent (although
a bit late) made the notice in 1958 (at age 20) in favor of his U.S.
citizenship.
If all the foregoing acts of express renunciation of Philippine
citizenship had been made or filed by private respondent
elsewhere (not with the Philippine Government), there could
perhaps be some room for contention that vis-a- vis the Philippine
Government, private respondent had not renounced his
Philippine citizenship. But said acts of express renunciation were
filed with the Philippine Government and done right in the
208
Philippines. In turn the Philippine Government, through the
immigration authorities, accepted and acted on private
respondent's aforesaid representations, and registered and
documented him TWICE as an alien under Philippine law.
The policy of our laws has been, and with laudable reason, to
discourage dual citizenship, because this condition or status
assumes as a necessary complement thereof dual allegiance at
the same time to two (2) different countries. As early as 16
September 1947, a unanimous Supreme Court, speaking thru Mr.
Justice Sabino Padilla in the celebrated case of Tan Chong vs.
Secretary of Labor, rejected the principle of jus soli as
determinative of Philippine citizenship, for the following reason,
among others:
... . Citizenship, the main integrate element of which is
allegiance, must not be taken lightly. Dual allegiance
must be discouraged and prevented. But the application
of the principle jus soli to persons born in this country of
alien parentage would encourage dual allegiance which
in the long run would be detrimental to both countries of
which such persons might claim to be citizens. 4
This policy found later expression in the 1987 Constitution which
now provides-
Sec. 5. Dual allegiance of citizen is inimical to the national
interest and shall be dealt with by law. (Article IV)
Dual citizenship, in my considered opinion, must be eschewed.
While having the "best of two (2) words" maybe the result of birth
or other factors accidentally brought about, the "dual citizen" has
to make a choice at one time or another. Having two (2)
citizenships is, as I see it, similar in many ways to having two (2)
legal spouses, when as a matter of principle and sound public
policy, fealty to only one (1) spouse is both compelling and
certainly desirable.
209
Gordon and Rosenfield in their book on Immigration Law and
Procedure state:
Dual nationality is universally recognized as an
undesirable phenomenon. It inevitably results in
questionable loyalties and leads to international
conflicts. Dual nationality also makes possible the use of
citizenship as a badge of convenience rather than of
undivided loyalty. And it impairs the singleness of
commitment which is the hallmark of citizenship and
allegiance. A person should have a right to choose his
own nationality, and this choice should be honored by all
countries. However, he should not be entitled to claim
more than one nationality. 5 (Emphasis supplied)
Private respondent made a deliberate and decisive choice when
he asked the Philippine Government which, like many other
countries, considers dual allegiance as against national or public
interest to register him at least twice (and, therefore,
unmistakably) as an alien in this country. That choice pro tanto
was a renunciation of his Philippine citizenship. The choice must
be respected as a conscious and knowledgeable act of a
discerning, distinguished and respected person who must be
presumed to have known the full import of his acts.
Finally, the last thing that should be said against the Court is that
it is inconsistent in its rulings. In the light of its recent decision in
G.R. No. 86565 (Ramon L. Labo, Jr. vs. The Commission on
Elections, et al., I see no valid justification for holding Mr. Labo an
alien upper Ph. Philippine law while holding private respondent
herein a Filipino citizen. For, as the majority states: "In fact,, in a
number of sworn statements, Labo categorically declared that he
was a citizen of Australia"(p. 7, Decision). And is exactly what
private respondent did. In a number of sworn statements, he
declared that he was a citizen of the United States.

210
To Mr. Labo, the Court said, "so be it, you are an Australian," yet
to the private respondent, despite such sworn statements that he
is a U.S. citizen, the Court says, "never mind those sworn
statements, you are still a Filipino." Sauce for the goose, as the
saying goes, is sauce for the gender The doctrinal basis of the
Court's decisions should be built on the merits, not on distinctions
that really make no difference.
ACCORDINGLY, I vote to GRANT the petition and to declare the
private respondent not a Filipino citizen by his own acts of express
renunciation of such citizenship.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J., separate opinion:


My stand in the cases of Willie Yu vs. Miriam Defensor Santiago,
et al. (G.R. No, 83882, January 24, 1989) andRamon Labo, Jr, v.
Commission on Elections (G.R. 86564, August 2, 1989) is clear. I
regret, however, that I cannot participate in this case because one
of the principal counsel is my relative by affinity, within the fourth
civil degree.

211
CO VS HRET GR. NO. 92191-92
G.R. Nos. 92191-92 July 30, 1991
ANTONIO Y. CO, petitioner,
vs.
ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND
JOSE ONG, JR., respondents.
G.R. Nos. 92202-03 July 30, 1991
SIXTO T. BALANQUIT, JR., petitioner,
vs.
ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND
JOSE ONG, JR., respondents.
Hechanova & Associates for petitioner Co.
Brillantes, Nachura, Navarro and Arcilla Law Offices for
respondent Ong, Jr.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:p


The petitioners come to this Court asking for the setting aside and
reversal of a decision of the House of Representatives Electoral
Tribunal (HRET).
The HRET declared that respondent Jose Ong, Jr. is a natural born
Filipino citizen and a resident of Laoang, Northern Samar for
voting purposes. The sole issue before us is whether or not, in
making that determination, the HRET acted with grave abuse of
discretion.
On May 11, 1987, the congressional election for the second
district of Northern Samar was held.
Among the candidates who vied for the position of representative
in the second legislative district of Northern Samar are the
212
petitioners, Sixto Balinquit and Antonio Co and the private
respondent, Jose Ong, Jr.
Respondent Ong was proclaimed the duly elected representative
of the second district of Northern Samar.
The petitioners filed election protests against the private
respondent premised on the following grounds:
1) Jose Ong, Jr. is not a natural born citizen of the
Philippines; and
2) Jose Ong, Jr. is not a resident of the second district of
Northern Samar.
The HRET in its decision dated November 6, 1989, found for the
private respondent.
A motion for reconsideration was filed by the petitioners on
November 12, 1989. This was, however, denied by the HRET in its
resolution dated February 22, 1989.
Hence, these petitions for certiorari.
We treat the comments as answers and decide the issues raised in
the petitions.
ON THE ISSUE OF JURISDICTION
The first question which arises refers to our jurisdiction.
The Constitution explicitly provides that the House of
Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) and the Senate
Electoral Tribunal (SET) shall be the sole judges of all contests
relating to the election, returns, and qualificationsof their
respective members. (See Article VI, Section 17, Constitution)
The authority conferred upon the Electoral Tribunal is full, clear
and complete. The use of the word soleemphasizes the exclusivity
of the jurisdiction of these Tribunals.
213
The Supreme Court in the case of Lazatin v. HRET (168 SCRA 391
[1988]) stated that under the 1987 Constitution, the jurisdiction
of the Electoral Tribunal is original and exclusive, viz:
The use of the word "sole" emphasizes the exclusive
character of the jurisdiction conferred (Angara v.
Electoral Commission, supra at p. 162). The exercise of
power by the Electoral Commission under the 1935
Constitution has been described as "intended to be as
complete and unimpaired as if it had originally remained
in the legislature." (id., at p. 175) Earlier this grant of
power to the legislature was characterized by Justice
Malcolm as "full, clear and complete; (Veloso v. Board of
Canvassers of Leyte and Samar, 39 Phil. 886 [1919])
Under the amended 1935 Constitution, the power was
unqualifiedly reposed upon the Electoral Tribunal and it
remained as full, clear and complete as that previously
granted the Legislature and the Electoral Commission,
(Lachica v. Yap, 25 SCRA 140 [1968]) The same may be
said with regard to the jurisdiction of the Electoral
Tribunal under the 1987 Constitution. (p. 401)
The Court continued further, ". . . so long as the Constitution
grants the HRET the power to be the sole judge of all contests
relating to election, returns and qualifications of members of the
House of Representatives, any final action taken by the HRET on a
matter within its jurisdiction shall, as a rule, not be reviewed by
this Court . . . the power granted to the Electoral Tribunal is full,
clear and complete and excludes the exercise of any authority on
the part of this Court that would in any wise restrict it or curtail it
or even affect the same." (pp. 403-404)
When may the Court inquire into acts of the Electoral Tribunals
under our constitutional grants of power?
In the later case of Robles v. HRET (181 SCRA 780 [1990]) the
Supreme Court stated that the judgments of the Tribunal are
214
beyond judicial interference save only "in the exercise of this
Court's so-called extraordinary jurisdiction, . . . upon a
determination that the Tribunal's decision or resolution was
rendered without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave
abuse of discretion or paraphrasing Morrero, upon a clear
showing of such arbitrary and improvident use by the Tribunal of
its power as constitutes a denial of due process of law, or upon a
demonstration of a very clear unmitigated ERROR, manifestly
constituting such GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION that there has to
be a remedy for such abuse." (at pp. 785-786)
In the leading case of Morrero v. Bocar (66 Phil. 429 [1938]) the
Court ruled that the power of the Electoral Commission "is
beyond judicial interference except, in any event, upon a clear
showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of power as will
constitute a denial of due process." The Court does not venture
into the perilous area of trying to correct perceived errors of
independent branches of the Government, It comes in only when
it has to vindicate a denial of due process or correct an abuse of
discretion so grave or glaring that no less than the Constitution
calls for remedial action.
The Supreme Court under the 1987 Constitution, has been given
an expanded jurisdiction, so to speak, to review the decisions of
the other branches and agencies of the government to determine
whether or not they have acted within the bounds of the
Constitution. (See Article VIII, Section 1, Constitution)
Yet, in the exercise thereof, the Court is to merely check whether
or not the governmental branch or agency has gone beyond the
Constitutional limits of its jurisdiction, not that it erred or has a
different view. In the absence of a showing that the HRET has
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction, there is no occasion for the Court to exercise its
corrective power; it will not decide a matter which by its nature is
for the HRET alone to decide. (See Marcos v. Manglapus, 177
215
SCRA 668 [1989]) It has no power to look into what it thinks is
apparent error.
As constitutional creations invested with necessary power, the
Electoral Tribunals, although not powers in the tripartite scheme
of the government, are, in the exercise of their functions
independent organs independent of Congress and the Supreme
Court. The power granted to HRET by the Constitution is intended
to be as complete and unimpaired as if it had remained originally
in the legislature. (Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139
[1936])
In passing upon petitions, the Court with its traditional and careful
regard for the balance of powers, must permit this exclusive
privilege of the Tribunals to remain where the Sovereign authority
has place it. (See Veloso v. Boards of Canvassers of Leyte and
Samar, 39 Phil. 886 [1919])
It has been argued that under Article VI, Section 17 of the present
Constitution, the situation may exist as it exists today where there
is an unhealthy one-sided political composition of the two
Electoral Tribunals. There is nothing in the Constitution, however,
that makes the HRET because of its composition any less
independent from the Court or its constitutional functions any
less exclusive. The degree of judicial intervention should not be
made to depend on how many legislative members of the HRET
belong to this party or that party. The test remains the same-
manifest grave abuse of discretion.
In the case at bar, the Court finds no improvident use of power,
no denial of due process on the part of the HRET which will
necessitate the exercise of the power of judicial review by the
Supreme Court.
ON THE ISSUE OF CITIZENSHIP

216
The records show that in the year 1895, the private respondent's
grandfather, Ong Te, arrived in the Philippines from China. Ong Te
established his residence in the municipality of Laoang, Samar on
land which he bought from the fruits of hard work.
As a resident of Laoang, Ong Te was able to obtain a certificate of
residence from the then Spanish colonial administration.
The father of the private respondent, Jose Ong Chuan was born in
China in 1905. He was brought by Ong Te to Samar in the year
1915.
Jose Ong Chuan spent his childhood in the province of Samar. In
Laoang, he was able to establish an enduring relationship with his
neighbors, resulting in his easy assimilation into the community.
As Jose Ong Chuan grew older in the rural and seaside community
of Laoang, he absorbed Filipino cultural values and practices. He
was baptized into Christianity. As the years passed, Jose Ong
Chuan met a natural born-Filipino, Agripina Lao. The two fell in
love and, thereafter, got married in 1932 according to Catholic
faith and practice.
The couple bore eight children, one of whom is the private
respondent who was born in 1948.
The private respondent's father never emigrated from this
country. He decided to put up a hardware store and shared and
survived the vicissitudes of life in Samar.
The business prospered. Expansion became inevitable. As a result,
a branch was set-up in Binondo, Manila. In the meantime, the
father of the private respondent, unsure of his legal status and in
an unequivocal affirmation of where he cast his life and family,
filed with the Court of First Instance of Samar an application for
naturalization on February 15, 1954.

217
On April 28, 1955, the CFI of Samar, after trial, declared Jose Ong
Chuan a Filipino citizen.
On May 15, 1957, the Court of First Instance of Samar issued an
order declaring the decision of April 28, 1955 as final and
executory and that Jose Ong Chuan may already take his Oath of
Allegiance.
Pursuant to said order, Jose Ong Chuan took his Oath of
Allegiance; correspondingly, a certificate of naturalization was
issued to him.
At the time Jose Ong Chuan took his oath, the private respondent
then a minor of nine years was finishing his elementary education
in the province of Samar. There is nothing in the records to
differentiate him from other Filipinos insofar as the customs and
practices of the local populace were concerned.
Fortunes changed. The house of the family of the private
respondent in Laoang, Samar was burned to the ground.
Undaunted by the catastrophe, the private respondent's family
constructed another one in place of their ruined house. Again,
there is no showing other than that Laoang was their abode and
home.
After completing his elementary education, the private
respondent, in search for better education, went to Manila in
order to acquire his secondary and college education.
In the meantime, another misfortune was suffered by the family
in 1975 when a fire gutted their second house in Laoang, Samar.
The respondent's family constructed still another house, this time
a 16-door apartment building, two doors of which were reserved
for the family.
The private respondent graduated from college, and thereafter
took and passed the CPA Board Examinations.
218
Since employment opportunities were better in Manila, the
respondent looked for work here. He found a job in the Central
Bank of the Philippines as an examiner. Later, however, he
worked in the hardware business of his family in Manila. In 1971,
his elder brother, Emil, was elected as a delegate to the 1971
Constitutional Convention. His status as a natural born citizen was
challenged. Parenthetically, the Convention which in drafting the
Constitution removed the unequal treatment given to derived
citizenship on the basis of the mother's citizenship formally and
solemnly declared Emil Ong, respondent's full brother, as
a natural born Filipino. The Constitutional Convention had to be
aware of the meaning of natural born citizenship since it was
precisely amending the article on this subject.
The private respondent frequently went home to Laoang, Samar,
where he grew up and spent his childhood days.
In 1984, the private respondent married a Filipina named Desiree
Lim.
For the elections of 1984 and 1986, Jose Ong, Jr. registered
himself as a voter of Laoang, Samar, and correspondingly, voted
there during those elections.
The private respondent after being engaged for several years in
the management of their family business decided to be of greater
service to his province and ran for public office. Hence, when the
opportunity came in 1987, he ran in the elections for
representative in the second district of Northern Samar.
Mr. Ong was overwhelmingly voted by the people of Northern
Samar as their representative in Congress. Even if the total votes
of the two petitioners are combined, Ong would still lead the two
by more than 7,000 votes.
The pertinent portions of the Constitution found in Article IV read:
SECTION 1, the following are citizens of the Philippines:
219
1. Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of
the adoption of the Constitution;
2. Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the
Philippines;
3. Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino
mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching
the age of majority; and
4. Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.
SECTION 2, Natural-born Citizens are those who are
citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to
perform any act to acquire or perfect their citizenship.
Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with
paragraph 3 hereof shall be deemed natural-born
citizens.
The Court interprets Section 1, Paragraph 3 above as applying not
only to those who elect Philippine citizenship after February 2,
1987 but also to those who, having been born of Filipino mothers,
elected citizenship before that date.
The provision in Paragraph 3 was intended to correct an unfair
position which discriminates against Filipino women. There is no
ambiguity in the deliberations of the Constitutional
Commission, viz:
Mr. Azcuna: With respect to the provision of
section 4, would this refer only to those who
elect Philippine citizenship after the effectivity
of the 1973 Constitution or would it also cover
those who elected it under the 1973
Constitution?
Fr. Bernas: It would apply to anybody who
elected Philippine citizenship by virtue of the
220
provision of the 1935 Constitution whether the
election was done before or after January 17,
1973. (Records of the Constitutional
Commission, Vol. 1, p. 228; Emphasis supplied)
xxx xxx xxx
Mr. Trenas: The Committee on Citizenship, Bill
of Rights, Political Rights and Obligations and
Human Rights has more or less decided to
extend the interpretation of who is a natural-
born citizen as provided in section 4 of the 1973
Constitution by adding that persons who have
elected Philippine Citizenship under the 1935
Constitution shall be natural-born? Am I right
Mr. Presiding Officer?
Fr. Bernas: yes.
xxx xxx xxx
Mr. Nolledo: And I remember very well that in
the Reverend Father Bernas' well written book,
he said that the decision was designed merely to
accommodate former delegate Ernesto Ang and
that the definition on natural-born has no
retroactive effect. Now it seems that the
Reverend Father Bernas is going against this
intention by supporting the amendment?
Fr. Bernas: As the Commissioner can see, there
has been an evolution in my thinking. (Records
of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. 1, p. 189)
xxx xxx xxx
Mr. Rodrigo: But this provision becomes very
important because his election of Philippine
221
citizenship makes him not only a Filipino citizen
but a natural-born Filipino citizen entitling him
to run for Congress. . .
Fr. Bernas: Correct. We are quite aware of that
and for that reason we will leave it to the body
to approve that provision of section 4.
Mr. Rodrigo: I think there is a good basis for the
provision because it strikes me as unfair that the
Filipino citizen who was born a day before
January 17, 1973 cannot be a Filipino citizen or a
natural-born citizen. (Records of the
Constitutional Commission, Vol. 1, p. 231)
xxx xxx xxx
Mr. Rodrigo: The purpose of that provision is to
remedy an inequitable situation. Between 1935
and 1973 when we were under the 1935
Constitution, those born of Filipino fathers but
alien mothers were natural-born Filipinos.
However, those born of Filipino mothers but
alien fathers would have to elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority;
and if they do elect, they become Filipino
citizens but not natural-born Filipino citizens.
(Records of the Constitutional Commission, Vol.
1, p. 356)
The foregoing significantly reveals the intent of the framers. To
make the provision prospective from February 3, 1987 is to give a
narrow interpretation resulting in an inequitable situation. It must
also be retroactive.
It should be noted that in construing the law, the Courts are not
always to be hedged in by the literal meaning of its language. The

222
spirit and intendment thereof, must prevail over the letter,
especially where adherence to the latter would result in absurdity
and injustice. (Casela v. Court of Appeals, 35 SCRA 279 [1970])
A Constitutional provision should be construed so as to give it
effective operation and suppress the mischief at which it is aimed,
hence, it is the spirit of the provision which should prevail over
the letter thereof. (Jarrolt v. Mabberly, 103 U.S. 580)
In the words of the Court in the case of J.M. Tuason v. LTA (31
SCRA 413 [1970]:
To that primordial intent, all else is subordinated. Our
Constitution, any constitution is not to be construed
narrowly or pedantically for the prescriptions therein
contained, to paraphrase Justice Holmes, are not
mathematical formulas having their essence in their form
but are organic living institutions, the significance of
which is vital not formal. . . . (p. 427)
The provision in question was enacted to correct the anomalous
situation where one born of a Filipino father and an alien mother
was automatically granted the status of a natural-born citizen
while one born of a Filipino mother and an alien father would still
have to elect Philippine citizenship. If one so elected, he was not,
under earlier laws, conferred the status of a natural-born.
Under the 1973 Constitution, those born of Filipino fathers and
those born of Filipino mothers with an alien father were placed on
equal footing. They were both considered as natural-born citizens.
Hence, the bestowment of the status of "natural-born" cannot be
made to depend on the fleeting accident of time or result in two
kinds of citizens made up of essentially the same similarly situated
members.
It is for this reason that the amendments were enacted, that is, in
order to remedy this accidental anomaly, and, therefore, treat
223
equally all those born before the 1973 Constitution and who
elected Philippine citizenship either before or after the effectivity
of that Constitution.
The Constitutional provision in question is, therefore curative in
nature. The enactment was meant to correct the inequitable and
absurd situation which then prevailed, and thus, render those acts
valid which would have been nil at the time had it not been for
the curative provisions. (See Development Bank of the Philippines
v. Court of Appeals, 96 SCRA 342 [1980])
There is no dispute that the respondent's mother was a natural
born Filipina at the time of her marriage. Crucial to this case is the
issue of whether or not the respondent elected or chose to be a
Filipino citizen.
Election becomes material because Section 2 of Article IV of the
Constitution accords natural born status to children born of
Filipino mothers before January 17, 1973, if they elect citizenship
upon reaching the age of majority.
To expect the respondent to have formally or in writing elected
citizenship when he came of age is to ask for the unnatural and
unnecessary. The reason is obvious. He was already a citizen. Not
only was his mother a natural born citizen but his father had been
naturalized when the respondent was only nine (9) years old. He
could not have divined when he came of age that in 1973 and
1987 the Constitution would be amended to require him to have
filed a sworn statement in 1969 electing citizenship inspite of his
already having been a citizen since 1957. In 1969, election
through a sworn statement would have been an unusual and
unnecessary procedure for one who had been a citizen since he
was nine years old.
We have jurisprudence that defines "election" as both a formal
and an informal process.

224
In the case of In Re: Florencio Mallare (59 SCRA 45 [1974]), the
Court held that the exercise of the right of suffrage and the
participation in election exercises constitute a positive act of
election of Philippine citizenship. In the exact pronouncement of
the Court, we held:
Esteban's exercise of the right of suffrage when he came
of age, constitutes a positive act of election of Philippine
citizenship (p. 52; emphasis supplied)
The private respondent did more than merely exercise his right of
suffrage. He has established his life here in the Philippines.
For those in the peculiar situation of the respondent who cannot
be expected to have elected citizenship as they were already
citizens, we apply the In Re Mallare rule.
The respondent was born in an outlying rural town of Samar
where there are no alien enclaves and no racial distinctions. The
respondent has lived the life of a Filipino since birth. His father
applied for naturalization when the child was still a small boy. He
is a Roman Catholic. He has worked for a sensitive government
agency. His profession requires citizenship for taking the
examinations and getting a license. He has participated in political
exercises as a Filipino and has always considered himself a Filipino
citizen. There is nothing in the records to show that he does not
embrace Philippine customs and values, nothing to indicate any
tinge of alien-ness no acts to show that this country is not his
natural homeland. The mass of voters of Northern Samar are frilly
aware of Mr. Ong's parentage. They should know him better than
any member of this Court will ever know him. They voted by
overwhelming numbers to have him represent them in Congress.
Because of his acts since childhood, they have considered him as a
Filipino.
The filing of sworn statement or formal declaration is a
requirement for those who still have to elect citizenship.For those
225
already Filipinos when the time to elect came up, there are acts of
deliberate choice which cannot be less binding. Entering a
profession open only to Filipinos, serving in public office where
citizenship is a qualification, voting during election time, running
for public office, and other categorical acts of similar nature are
themselves formal manifestations of choice for these persons.
An election of Philippine citizenship presupposes that the person
electing is an alien. Or his status is doubtful because he is a
national of two countries. There is no doubt in this case about Mr.
Ong's being a Filipino when he turned twenty-one (21).
We repeat that any election of Philippine citizenship on the part
of the private respondent would not only have been superfluous
but it would also have resulted in an absurdity. How can a Filipino
citizen elect Philippine citizenship?
The respondent HRET has an interesting view as to how Mr. Ong
elected citizenship. It observed that "when protestee was only
nine years of age, his father, Jose Ong Chuan became a
naturalized Filipino. Section 15 of the Revised Naturalization Act
squarely applies its benefit to him for he was then a minor
residing in this country. Concededly, it was the law itself that had
already elected Philippine citizenship for protestee by declaring
him as such." (Emphasis supplied)
The petitioners argue that the respondent's father was not,
validly, a naturalized citizen because of his premature taking of
the oath of citizenship.
The Court cannot go into the collateral procedure of stripping Mr.
Ong's father of his citizenship after his death and at this very late
date just so we can go after the son.
The petitioners question the citizenship of the father through a
collateral approach. This can not be done. In our jurisdiction, an

226
attack on a person's citizenship may only be done through a direct
action for its nullity. (See Queto v. Catolico, 31 SCRA 52 [1970])
To ask the Court to declare the grant of Philippine citizenship to
Jose Ong Chuan as null and void would run against the principle of
due process. Jose Ong Chuan has already been laid to rest. How
can he be given a fair opportunity to defend himself. A dead man
cannot speak. To quote the words of the HRET "Ong Chuan's lips
have long been muted to perpetuity by his demise and obviously
he could not use beyond where his mortal remains now lie to
defend himself were this matter to be made a central issue in this
case."
The issue before us is not the nullification of the grant of
citizenship to Jose Ong Chuan. Our function is to determine
whether or not the HRET committed abuse of authority in the
exercise of its powers. Moreover, the respondent traces his
natural born citizenship through his mother, not through the
citizenship of his father. The citizenship of the father is relevant
only to determine whether or not the respondent "chose" to be a
Filipino when he came of age. At that time and up to the present,
both mother and father were Filipinos. Respondent Ong could not
have elected any other citizenship unless he first formally
renounced Philippine citizenship in favor of a foreign nationality.
Unlike other persons faced with a problem of election, there was
no foreign nationality of his father which he could possibly have
chosen.
There is another reason why we cannot declare the HRET as
having committed manifest grave abuse of discretion. The same
issue of natural-born citizenship has already been decided by the
Constitutional Convention of 1971 and by the Batasang Pambansa
convened by authority of the Constitution drafted by that
Convention. Emil Ong, full blood brother of the respondent, was
declared and accepted as a natural born citizen by both bodies.

227
Assuming that our opinion is different from that of the
Constitutional Convention, the Batasang Pambansa, and the
respondent HRET, such a difference could only be characterized
as error. There would be no basis to call the HRET decision so
arbitrary and whimsical as to amount to grave abuse of discretion.
What was the basis for the Constitutional Convention's declaring
Emil Ong a natural born citizen?
Under the Philippine Bill of 1902, inhabitants of the Philippines
who were Spanish subjects on the 11th day of April 1899 and then
residing in said islands and their children born subsequent thereto
were conferred the status of a Filipino citizen.
Was the grandfather of the private respondent a Spanish subject?
Article 17 of the Civil Code of Spain enumerates those who were
considered Spanish Subjects, viz:
ARTICLE 17. The following are Spaniards:
1. Persons born in Spanish territory.
2. Children born of a Spanish father or mother, even
though they were born out of Spain.
3. Foreigners who may have obtained naturalization
papers.
4. Those without such papers, who may have acquired
domicile in any town in the Monarchy. (Emphasis
supplied)
The domicile of a natural person is the place of his habitual
residence. This domicile, once established is considered to
continue and will not be deemed lost until a new one is
established. (Article 50, NCC; Article 40, Civil Code of Spain; Zuellig
v. Republic, 83 Phil. 768 [1949])

228
As earlier stated, Ong Te became a permanent resident of Laoang,
Samar around 1895. Correspondingly, a certificate of residence
was then issued to him by virtue of his being a resident of Laoang,
Samar. (Report of the Committee on Election Protests and
Credentials of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, September 7,
1972, p. 3)
The domicile that Ong Te established in 1895 continued until April
11, 1899; it even went beyond the turn of the 19th century. It is
also in this place were Ong Te set-up his business and acquired his
real property.
As concluded by the Constitutional Convention, Ong Te falls
within the meaning of sub-paragraph 4 of Article 17 of the Civil
Code of Spain.
Although Ong Te made brief visits to China, he, nevertheless,
always returned to the Philippines. The fact that he died in China,
during one of his visits in said country, was of no moment. This
will not change the fact that he already had his domicile fixed in
the Philippines and pursuant to the Civil Code of Spain, he had
become a Spanish subject.
If Ong Te became a Spanish subject by virtue of having established
his domicile in a town under the Monarchy of Spain, necessarily,
Ong Te was also an inhabitant of the Philippines for an inhabitant
has been defined as one who has actual fixed residence in a place;
one who has a domicile in a place. (Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Vol.
II) Apriori, there can be no other logical conclusion but to educe
that Ong Te qualified as a Filipino citizen under the provisions of
section 4 of the Philippine Bill of 1902.
The HRET itself found this fact of absolute verity in concluding
that the private respondent was a natural-born Filipino.
The petitioners' sole ground in disputing this fact is that document
presented to prove it were not in compliance with the best the

229
evidence rule. The petitioners allege that the private respondent
failed to present the original of the documentary evidence,
testimonial evidence and of the transcript of the proceedings of
the body which the aforesaid resolution of the 1971
Constitutional Convention was predicated.
On the contrary, the documents presented by the private
respondent fall under the exceptions to the best evidence rule.
It was established in the proceedings before the HRET that the
originals of the Committee Report No. 12, the minutes of the
plenary session of 1971 Constitutional Convention held on
November 28, 1972 cannot be found.
This was affirmed by Atty. Ricafrente, Assistant Secretary of the
1971 Constitutional Convention; by Atty. Nolledo, Delegate to the
1971 Constitutional Convention; and by Atty. Antonio Santos,
Chief Librarian of the U.P Law Center, in their respective
testimonies given before the HRET to the effect that there is no
governmental agency which is the official custodian of the records
of the 1971 Constitutional Convention. (TSN, December 12, 1988,
pp. 30-31; TSN, January 17, 1989, pp. 34-35; TSN, February 1,
1989, p. 44; TSN, February 6, 1989, pp. 28-29)
The execution of the originals was established by Atty. Ricafrente,
who as the Assistant Secretary of the 1971 Constitutional
Convention was the proper party to testify to such execution.
(TSN, December 12, 1989, pp. 11-24)
The inability to produce the originals before the HRET was also
testified to as aforestated by Atty. Ricafrente, Atty. Nolledo, and
Atty. Santos. In proving the inability to produce, the law does not
require the degree of proof to be of sufficient certainty; it is
enough that it be shown that after a bona fide diligent search, the
same cannot be found. (see Government of P.I. v. Martinez, 44
Phil. 817 [1918])

230
Since the execution of the document and the inability to produce
were adequately established, the contents of the questioned
documents can be proven by a copy thereof or by the recollection
of witnesses.
Moreover, to erase all doubts as to the authenticity of the
documentary evidence cited in the Committee Report, the former
member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, Atty. Nolledo,
when he was presented as a witness in the hearing of the protest
against the private respondent, categorically stated that he saw
the disputed documents presented during the hearing of the
election protest against the brother of the private respondent.
(TSN, February 1, 1989, pp. 8-9)
In his concurring opinion, Mr. Justice Sarmiento, a vice-president
of the Constitutional Convention, states that he was presiding
officer of the plenary session which deliberated on the report on
the election protest against Delegate Emil Ong. He cites a long list
of names of delegates present. Among them are Mr. Chief Justice
Fernan, and Mr. Justice Davide, Jr. The petitioners could have
presented any one of the long list of delegates to refute Mr. Ong's
having been declared a natural-born citizen. They did not do so.
Nor did they demur to the contents of the documents presented
by the private respondent. They merely relied on the procedural
objections respecting the admissibility of the evidence presented.
The Constitutional Convention was the sole judge of the
qualifications of Emil Ong to be a member of that body. The HRET
by explicit mandate of the Constitution, is the sole judge of the
qualifications of Jose Ong, Jr. to be a member of Congress. Both
bodies deliberated at length on the controversies over which they
were sole judges. Decisions were arrived at only after a full
presentation of all relevant factors which the parties wished to
present. Even assuming that we disagree with their conclusions,
we cannot declare their acts as committed with grave abuse of

231
discretion. We have to keep clear the line
between error and grave abuse.
ON THE ISSUE OF RESIDENCE
The petitioners question the residence qualification of respondent
Ong.
The petitioners lose sight of the meaning of "residence" under the
Constitution. The term "residence" has been understood as
synonymous with domicile not only under the previous
Constitutions but also under the 1987 Constitution.
The deliberations of the Constitutional Commission reveal that
the meaning of residence vis-a-vis the qualifications of a
candidate for Congress continues to remain the same as that of
domicile, to wit:
Mr. Nolledo: With respect to Section 5, I
remember that in the 1971 Constitutional
Convention, there was an attempt to require
residence in the place not less than one year
immediately preceding the day of the elections.
So my question is: What is the Committee's
concept of residence of a candidate for the
legislature? Is it actual residence or is it the
concept of domicile or constructive residence?
Mr. Davide: Madame President, in so far as the
regular members of the National Assembly are
concerned, the proposed section merely
provides, among others, and a resident thereof,
that is, in the district, for a period of not less
than one year preceding the day of the election.
This was in effect lifted from the 1973
Constitution, the interpretation given to it was

232
domicile. (Records of the 1987 Constitutional
Convention, Vol. 11, July 22, 1986. p. 87)
xxx xxx xxx
Mrs. Rosario Braid: The next question is on
Section 7, page 2. I think Commissioner Nolledo
has raised the same point that "resident" has
been interpreted at times as a matter of
intention rather than actual residence.
Mr. De los Reyes: Domicile.
Ms. Rosario Braid: Yes, So, would the gentlemen
consider at the proper time to go back to actual
residence rather than mere intention to reside?
Mr. De los Reyes: But we might encounter some
difficulty especially considering that a provision
in the Constitution in the Article on Suffrage
says that Filipinos living abroad may vote as
enacted by law. So, we have to stick to the
original concept that it should be by domicile
and not physical and actual residence. (Records
of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, Vol. 11,
July 22, 1986, p. 110)
The framers of the Constitution adhered to the earlier definition
given to the word "residence" which regarded it as having the
same meaning as domicile.
The term "domicile" denotes a fixed permanent residence to
which when absent for business or pleasure, one intends to
return. (Ong Huan Tin v. Republic, 19 SCRA 966 [1967]) The
absence of a person from said permanent residence, no matter
how long, notwithstanding, it continues to be the domicile of that
person. In other words, domicile is characterized by animus
revertendi (Ujano v. Republic, 17 SCRA 147 [1966])
233
The domicile of origin of the private respondent, which was the
domicile of his parents, is fixed at Laoang, Samar. Contrary to the
petitioners' imputation, Jose Ong, Jr. never abandoned said
domicile; it remained fixed therein even up to the present.
The private respondent, in the proceedings before the HRET
sufficiently established that after the fire that gutted their house
in 1961, another one was constructed.
Likewise, after the second fire which again destroyed their house
in 1975, a sixteen-door apartment was built by their family, two
doors of which were reserved as their family residence. (TSN, Jose
Ong, Jr., November 18,1988, p. 8)
The petitioners' allegation that since the private respondent owns
no property in Laoang, Samar, he cannot, therefore, be a resident
of said place is misplaced.
The properties owned by the Ong Family are in the name of the
private respondent's parents. Upon the demise of his parents,
necessarily, the private respondent, pursuant to the laws of
succession, became the co-owner thereof (as a co- heir),
notwithstanding the fact that these were still in the names of his
parents.
Even assuming that the private respondent does not own any
property in Samar, the Supreme Court in the case of De los Reyes
v. Solidum (61 Phil. 893 [1935]) held that it is not required that a
person should have a house in order to establish his residence
and domicile. It is enough that he should live in the municipality or
in a rented house or in that of a friend or relative. (Emphasis
supplied)
To require the private respondent to own property in order to be
eligible to run for Congress would be tantamount to a property
qualification. The Constitution only requires that the candidate
meet the age, citizenship, voting and residence requirements.

234
Nowhere is it required by the Constitution that the candidate
should also own property in order to be qualified to run.
(see Maquera v. Borra, 122 Phil. 412 [1965])
It has also been settled that absence from residence to pursue
studies or practice a profession or registration as a voter other
than in the place where one is elected, does not constitute loss of
residence. (Faypon v. Quirino, 96 Phil. 294 [1954])
As previously stated, the private respondent stayed in Manila for
the purpose of finishing his studies and later to practice his
profession, There was no intention to abandon the residence in
Laoang, Samar. On the contrary, the periodical journeys made to
his home province reveal that he always had
the animus revertendi.
The Philippines is made up not only of a single race; it has, rather,
undergone an interracial evolution. Throughout our history, there
has been a continuing influx of Malays, Chinese, Americans,
Japanese, Spaniards and other nationalities. This racial diversity
gives strength to our country.
Many great Filipinos have not been whole-blooded nationals, if
there is such a person, for there is none. To mention a few, the
great Jose Rizal was part Chinese, the late Chief Justice Claudio
Teehankee was part Chinese, and of course our own President,
Corazon Aquino is also part Chinese. Verily, some Filipinos of
whom we are proud were ethnically more Chinese than the
private respondent.
Our citizens no doubt constitute the country's greatest wealth.
Citizenship is a special privilege which one must forever cherish.
However, in order to truly revere this treasure of citizenship, we
do not, on the basis of too harsh an interpretation, have to
unreasonably deny it to those who qualify to share in its richness.

235
Under the overly strict jurisprudence surrounding our antiquated
naturalization laws only the very affluent backed by influential
patrons, who were willing to suffer the indignities of a lengthy,
sometimes humiliating, and often corrupt process of clearances
by minor bureaucrats and whose lawyers knew how to overcome
so many technical traps of the judicial process were able to
acquire citizenship. It is time for the naturalization law to be
revised to enable a more positive, affirmative, and meaningful
examination of an applicant's suitability to be a Filipino. A more
humane, more indubitable and less technical approach to
citizenship problems is essential.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby DISMISSED. The questioned
decision of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal is
AFFIRMED. Respondent Jose Ong, Jr. is declared a natural-born
citizen of the Philippines and a resident of Laoang, Northern
Samar.
SO ORDERED.
Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea and Davide, Jr., JJ., concur.
Fernan, C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Feliciano and Gancayco, JJ.,
took no part.

Separate Opinions

PADILLA, J., dissenting:


I dissent.
These separate petitions for certiorari and mandamus seek to
annul the decision * of respondent House of Representatives
Electoral Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as the tribunal) dated 6
November 1989 which declared private respondent Jose L. Ong, a
236
natural-born citizen of the Philippines and a legal resident of
Laoang, Northern Samar, and the resolution of the tribunal dated
22 February 1990 denying petitioners' motions for
reconsideration.
In G.R. Nos. 92191-92, petitioner Co also prays that the Court
declare private respondent Ong not qualified to be a Member of
the House of Representatives and to declare him (petitioner Co)
who allegedly obtained the highest number of votes among
the qualified candidates, the duly elected representative of the
second legislative district of Northern Samar. In G.R. Nos. 92202-
03, petitioner Balanquit prays that the Court declare private
respondent Ong and Co (petitioner in G.R. Nos. 92191-92) not
qualified for membership in the House of Representatives and to
proclaim him (Balanguit) as the duly elected representative of said
district.
Petitioners Antonio Y. Co, Sixto T. Balanquit, Jr. and private
respondent Jose Ong Chuan, Jr. were among the candidates for
the position of Representative or Congressman for the second
district of Northern Samar during the 11 May 1987 congressional
elections. Private respondent was proclaimed duly-elected on 18
May 1987 with a plurality of some sixteen thousand (16,000)
votes over petitioner Co who obtained the next highest number of
votes.
Petitioners Co and Balanquit then filed separate election protests
against private respondent with the tribunal, docketed as HRET
Cases Nos. 13 and 15 respectively. Both protests raised almost the
same issues and were thus considered and decided jointly by the
tribunal.
The issues raised before the tribunal were the following:
1. Whether or not protestee (meaning, Ong) is a natural-
born citizen of the Philippines in contemplation of

237
Section 6, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution in relation
to Sections 2 and 1(3), Article IV thereof; and
2. Whether or not protestee was a resident of Laoang,
Northern Samar, in contemplation of Section 6, Article VI
of the same Constitution, for a period of not less than
one year immediately preceding the congressional
elections of May 1987.
The respondent tribunal in its decision dated 6 November 1989
held that respondent Jose L. Ong is a natural-born citizen of the
Philippines and was a legal resident of Laoang, Northern Samar
for the required period prior to the May 1987 congressional
elections. He was, therefore, declared qualified to continue in
office as Member of the House of Representatives, Congress of
the Philippines, representing the second legislative district of
Northern Samar.
The factual antecedents taken from the consolidated proceedings
in the tribunal are the following:
1. The Protestee (Ong) was born on June 19, 1948 to the
legal spouses Ong Chuan also known as Jose Ong Chuan
and Agrifina E. Lao. His place of birth is Laoang which is
now one of the municipalities comprising the province of
Northern Samar (Republic Act No. 6132 approved on
August 24, 1970 and the Ordinance appended to the
1987 Constitution).
2. On the other hand, Jose Ong Chuan was born in China
and arrived in Manila on December 16, 1915. (Exhibit zz)
Subsequently thereafter, he took up residence in Laoang,
Samar.
3. On February 4, 1932, he married Agrifina E. Lao. Their
wedding was celebrated according to the rites and

238
practices of the Roman Catholic Church in the
Municipality of Laoang (Exh. E).
4. At the time of her marriage to Jose Ong Chuan,
Agrifina E. Lao was a natural-born Filipino citizen, both
her parents at the time of her birth being Filipino
citizens. (Exhibits E & I)
5. On February 15, 1954, Jose Ong Chuan, desiring to
acquire Philippine citizenship, filed his petition for
naturalization with the Court of First Instance of Samar,
pursuant to Commonwealth Act No. 473, otherwise
known as the Revised Naturalization Law.
6. On April 28, 1955, the Court of First Instance of Samar
rendered a decision approving the application of Jose
Ong Chuan for naturalization and declaring said
petitioner a Filipino citizen "with all the rights and
privileges and duties, liabilities and obligations inherent
to Filipino citizens. (Exh. E)
7. On May 15, 1957, the same Court issued an order:
(1) declaring the decision of this Court of April
28, 1955 final and executory;
(2) directing the clerk of court to issue the
corresponding Certificate of Naturalization in
favor of the applicant Ong Chuan who prefers to
take his oath and register his name as Jose Ong
Chuan. Petitioner may take his oath as Filipino
citizen under Ms new christian name, Jose Ong
Chuan. (Exh. F)
8. On the same day, Jose Ong Chuan having taken the
corresponding oath of allegiance to the Constitution and
the Government of the Philippines as prescribed by

239
Section 12 of Commonwealth Act No. 473, was issued
the corresponding Certificate of Naturalization. (Exh. G)
9. On November 10, 1970, Emil L. Ong, a full-brother of
the protestee and a son born on July 25, 1937 at Laoang,
Samar to the spouses Jose Ong Chuan and Agrifina E. Lao,
was elected delegate from Northern Samar to the 1971
Constitutional Convention.
10. By protestee's own -testimony, it was established
that he had attended grade school in Laoang. Thereafter,
he went to Manila where he finished his secondary as
well as his college education. While later employed in
Manila, protestee however went home to Laoang
whenever he had the opportunity to do so, which
invariably would be as frequent as twice to four times a
year.
11. Protestee also showed that being a native and legal
resident of Laoang, he registered as a voter therein and
correspondingly voted in said municipality in the 1984
and 1986 elections.
12. Again in December 1986, during the general
registration of all voters in the country, Protestee re-
registered as a voter in Precinct No. 4 of Barangay
Tumaguinting in Laoang. In his voter's affidavit, Protestee
indicated that he is a resident of Laoang since birth. (Exh.
7) 1
Petitioners' motions for reconsideration of the tribunal's decision
having been denied, petitioners filed the present petitions.
In their comments, the respondents first raise the issue of the
Court's jurisdiction to review the decision of the House Electoral
Tribunal, considering the constitutional provision vesting upon
said tribunal the power and authority to act as the sole judge of all

240
contests relating to the qualifications of the Members of the
House of Representatives. 2
On the question of this Court's jurisdiction over the present
controversy, I believe that, contrary to the respondents'
contentions, the Court has the jurisdiction and competence to
review the questioned decision of the tribunal and to decide the
present controversy.
Article VIII, Section I of the 1987 Constitution provides that:
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice
to settle actual controversies involving rights which are
legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on
the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
Government.
The Constitution, it is true, constitutes the tribunal as the sole
judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and
qualifications of Members of the House of Representatives. But as
early as 1938, it was held in Morrero vs.Bocar, 3 construing
Section 4, Article VI of the 1935 Constitution which provided that
". . . The Electoral Commission shall be the sole judge of all
contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the
Members of the National Assembly," that:
The judgment rendered by the (electoral) commission in
the exercise of such an acknowledged power is beyond
judicial interference, except, in any event, "upon a clear
showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of the
power as will constitute a denial of due process of law."
(Barry vs. US ex rel. Cunningham, 279 US 597; 73 Law.
ed., 867; Angara vs. Electoral Commission, 35 Off. Gaz.,
23.)

241
And then under the afore-quoted provisions of Article VIII, Section
1 of the 1987 Constitution, this Court is duty-bound to determine
whether or not, in an actual controversy, there has been a grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on
the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.
The present controversy, it will be observed, involves more than
perceived irregularities in the conduct of a congressional election
or a disputed appreciation of ballots, in which cases, it may be
contended with great legal force and persuasion that the decision
of the electoral tribunal should be final and conclusive, for it is, by
constitutional directive, made the sole judge of contests relating
to such matters. The present controversy, however, involves no
less than a determination of whether the qualifications for
membership in the House of Representatives, as prescribed by the
Constitution, have been met. Indeed, this Court would be
unforgivably remiss in the performance of its duties, as mandated
by the Constitution, were it to allow a person, not a natural-born
Filipino citizen, to continue to sit as a Member of the House of
Representatives, solely because the House Electoral Tribunal has
declared him to be so. In such a case, the tribunal would have
acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess
of jurisdiction as to require the exercise by this Court of its power
of judicial review.
Besides, the citizenship and residence qualifications of private
respondent for the office of Member of the House of
Representatives, are here controverted by petitioners who, at the
same time, claim that they are entitled to the office illegally held
by private respondent. From this additional direction, where one
asserts an earnestly perceived right that in turn is vigorously
resisted by another, there is clearly a justiciable controversy
proper for this Court to consider and decide.
Nor can it be said that the Court, in reviewing the decision of the
tribunal, asserts supremacy over it in contravention of the time-
242
honored principle of constitutional separation of powers. The
Court in this instance simply performs a function entrusted and
assigned to it by the Constitution of interpreting, in a justiciable
controversy, the pertinent provisions of the Constitution with
finality.
It is the role of the Judiciary to refine and, when
necessary, correct constitutional (and/or statutory)
interpretation, in the context of the interactions of the
three branches of the government, almost always in
situations where some agency of the State has engaged
in action that stems ultimately from some legitimate area
of governmental power (the Supreme Court in Modern
Role, C.B. Sevisher, 1958, p. 36). 4
Moreover, it is decidedly a matter of great public interest and
concern to determine whether or not private respondent is
qualified to hold so important and high a public office which is
specifically reserved by the Constitution only to natural-born
Filipino citizens.
After a careful consideration of the issues and the evidence, it is
my considered opinion that the respondent tribunal committed
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in rendering its questioned decision and resolution,
for reasons to be presently stated.
The Constitution 5 requires that a Member of the House of
Representatives must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines
and, on the day of the election, is at least twenty-five (25) 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 (1) year immediately preceding the day of the election.
Article IV, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution defines natural-born
(Filipino) citizens as:
243
Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act
to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those
who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with
paragraph (3), Section I hereof shall be deemed natural-
born citizen,
Article IV, Section 1, paragraph (3) of the 1987 Constitution
provides that:
Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:
xxx xxx xxx
(3) Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino
mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching
the age of majority.
The Court in this case is faced with the duty of interpreting the
above-quoted constitutional provisions. The first sentence of
Section 2 of Article IV states the basic definition of a natural-born
Filipino citizen. Does private respondent fall within said
definition?
To the respondent tribunal,
Protestee may even be declared a natural-born citizen of
the Philippines under the first sentence of Sec. 2 of
Article IV of the 1987 Constitution because he did not
have "to perform any act to acquire or perfect his
Philippine citizenship." It bears to repeat that on 15 May
1957, while still a minor of 9 years he already became a
Filipino citizen by declaration of law. Since his mother
was a natural-born citizen at the time of her marriage,
protestee had an inchoate right to Philippine citizenship
at the moment of his birth and, consequently the
declaration by virtue of Sec. 15 of CA 473 that he was a
Filipino citizen retroacted to the moment of his birth
244
without his having to perform any act to acquire or
perfect such Philippine citizenship. 6
I regret that I am neither convinced nor persuaded by such
kaleidoscopic ratiocination. The records show that private
respondent was born on 19 June 1948 to the spouses Jose Ong
Chuan, a Chinese citizen, and Agrifina E. Lao, a natural-born
Filipino citizen, in Laoang, Northern Samar. In other words, at
birth, private respondent was a Chinese citizen (not a natural-
born Filipino citizen) because his father was then a Chinese citizen
(not a naturalized Filipino citizen). Under the 1935 Constitution
which was enforced at the time of private respondent's birth on
19 June 1948, only those whose fathers were citizens of the
Philippines were considered Filipino citizens. Those whose
mothers were citizens of the Philippines had to elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, in order to be
considered Filipino citizens. 7
Following the basic definition in the 1987 Constitution of a
natural-born citizen, in relation to the 1935 Constitution, private
respondent is not a natural-born Filipino citizen, having been born
a Chinese citizen by virtue of the Chinese citizenship of his father
at the time of his birth, although from birth, private respondent
had the right to elect Philippine citizenship, the citizenship of his
mother, but only upon his reaching the age of majority.
While under Section 15 of the Revised Naturalization Law (C.A.
473) minor children of a naturalized citizen (father), who were
born in the Philippines prior to the naturalization of the
parent automatically become Filipino citizens, 8 this does not alter
the fact that private respondent was not born to a Filipino father,
and the operation of Section 15 of CA 473 did not confer upon
him the status of a natural-born citizen merely because he did not
have to perform any act to acquire or perfect his status as
a Filipino citizen.

245
But even assuming arguendo that private respondent could be
considered a natural-born citizen by virtue of the operation of CA
473, petitioners however contend that the naturalization of
private respondent's father was invalid and void from the
beginning, and, therefore, private respondent is not even a
Filipino citizen.
Respondent tribunal in its questioned decision ruled that only a
direct proceeding for nullity of naturalization as a Filipino citizen is
permissible, and, therefore, a collateral attack on Ong Chuan's
naturalization is barred in an electoral contest which does not
even involve him (Ong Chuan).
Private respondent, for his part, avers in his Comment that the
challenge against Ong Chuan's naturalization must emanate from
the Government and must be made in a proper/appropriate and
direct proceeding for de-naturalization directed against the
proper party, who in such case is Ong Chuan, and also during his
lifetime.
A judgment in a naturalization proceeding is not, however,
afforded the character of impregnability under the principle of res
judicata. 9 Section 18 of CA 473 provides that a certificate of
naturalization may be cancelled upon motion made in the proper
proceeding by the Solicitor General or his representative, or by
the proper provincial fiscal.
In Republic vs. Go Bon Lee, 10 this Court held that:
An alien friend is offered under certain conditions the
privilege of citizenship. He may accept the offer and
become a citizen upon compliance with the prescribed
conditions, but not otherwise. His claim is of favor, not of
right. He can only become a citizen upon and after a
strict compliance with the acts of Congress. An applicant
for this high privilege is bound, therefore, to conform to
the terms upon which alone the right he seeks can be
246
conferred. It is his province, and he is bound, to see that
the jurisdictional facts upon which the grant is predicated
actually exist and if they do not he takes nothing by this
paper grant.
xxx xxx xxx
Congress having limited this privilege to a specified class
of persons, no other person is entitled to such privilege,
nor to a certificate purporting to grant it, and any such
certificate issued to a person not so entitled to receive it
must be treated as a mere nullity, which confers no legal
rights as against the government, from which it has been
obtained without warrant of law.
"Naturalization is not a right, but a privilege of the most
discriminating as well as delicate and exacting nature, affecting
public interest of the highest order, and which may be enjoyed
only under the precise conditions prescribed by law therefor." 11
Considering the legal implications of the allegation made by the
petitioners that the naturalization of private respondent's father
Ong Chuan, is a nullity, the Court should make a ruling on the
validity of said naturalization proceedings. This course of action
becomes all the more inevitable and justified in the present case
where, to repeat for stress, it is claimed that a foreigner is holding
a public
office. 12
It cannot be overlooked, in this connection, that the citizenship of
private respondent is derived from his father. If his father's
Filipino citizenship is void from the beginning, then there is
nothing from which private respondent can derive his own
claimed Filipino citizenship. For a spring cannot rise higher than its
source. And to allow private respondent to avail of the privileges
of Filipino citizenship by virtue of a void naturalization of his

247
father, would constitute or at least sanction a continuing offense
against the Constitution.
The records show that private respondent's father, Jose Ong
Chuan, took the oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the
Philippine Government, as prescribed by Section 12 of CA 473 on
the same day (15 May 1957) that the CFI issued its order directing
the clerk of court to issue the corresponding Certificate of
Naturalization and for the applicant to take the oath of allegiance.
However, it is settled that an order granting a petition to take the
requisite oath of allegiance of one who has previously obtained a
decision favorable to his application for naturalization,
is appealable. It is, therefore, improper and illegal to authorize
the taking of said oath upon the issuance of said order and before
the expiration of the reglementary period to perfect any appeal
from said order. 13
In Cua Sun Ke vs. Republic, 14 this Court held that:
Administration of the oath of allegiance on the same day
as issuance of order granting citizenship is irregular and
makes the proceedings so taken null and void. (Republic
vs. Guy, 115 SCRA 244 [1982]; citing the case of Ong So
vs. Republic of the Philippines, 121 Phil. 1381).
It would appear from the foregoing discussion that the
naturalization of Jose Ong Chuan (private respondent's father)
was null and void. It follows that the private respondent did not
acquire any legal rights from the void naturalization of his father
and thus he cannot himself be considered a Filipino citizen, more
so, a natural-born Filipino citizen.
But assuming that the CFI order of 15 May 1957 directing the
clerk of court to issue the certificate of naturalization to Ong
Chuan and for the latter to take the oath of allegiance was final
and not appealable, the resulting naturalization of Ong Chuan

248
effected, as previously stated, an automatic naturalization of
private respondent, then a minor, as a Filipino citizen on 15 May
1957, but not his acquisition or perfection of the status of a
natural-born Filipino citizen.
Let us now look into the question of whether or not private
respondent acquired the status of a natural-born Filipino citizen
by reason of the undisputed fact that his mother was a natural-
born Filipino citizen. This in turn leads us to an examination of
the second sentence in Article IV, Section 2 of the 1987
Constitution. It expands, in a manner of speaking, in relation to
Section 1, paragraph (3) of the same Article IV, the status of a
natural-born Filipino citizen to those who elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. The right or
privilege of election is available, however, only to those born to
Filipino mothers under the 1935 Constitution, and before the
1973 Constitution took effect on 17 January 1973.
The petitioners contend that the respondent tribunal acted in
excess of its jurisdiction or gravely abused its discretion as to
exceed its jurisdiction in "distorting" the conferment by the 1987
Constitution of the status of "natural-born" Filipino citizen on
those who elect Philippine citizenship all in its strained effort,
according to petitioners, to support private respondent's
qualification to be a Member of the House of Representatives. 15
Petitioners argue that the clear, unambiguous wording of section
1(3) of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution contemplates that only
the legitimate children of Filipino mothers with alien father, born
before 17 January 1973 and who would reach the age of majority
(and thus elect Philippine citizenship) after the effectivity of the
1987 Constitution are entitled to the status of natural-born
Filipino citizen. 16
The respondent tribunal in resolving the issue of the
constitutional provisions' interpretation, found reason to refer to

249
the interpellations made during the 1986 Constitutional
Commission. It said:
That the benevolent provisions of Sections 2 and 1(3) of
Article IV of the 1987 Constitution was (sic) intended by
its (sic) framers to be endowed, without distinction, to all
Filipinos by election pursuant to the 1935 Constitution is
more than persuasively established by the extensive
interpellations and debate on the issue as borne by the
official records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. 17
Although I find the distinction as to when election of Philippine
citizenship was made irrelevant to the case at bar, since private
respondent, contrary to the conclusion of the respondent
tribunal, did not elect Philippine citizenship, as provided by law, I
still consider it necessary to settle the controversy regarding the
meaning of the constitutional provisions in question.
I agree with respondent tribunal that the debates, interpellations
petitions and opinions expressed in the 1986 Constitutional
Commission may be resorted to in ascertaining the meaning of
somewhat elusive and even nebulous constitutional provisions.
Thus
The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with
the fundamental principle of constitutional construction
that the intent of the framers of the organic law and of
the people adopting it should be given effect. The
primary task in constitutional construction is to ascertain
and thereafter assure the realization of the purpose of
the framers and of the people in the adoption of the
Constitution. It may also be safely assumed that the
people in ratifying the constitution were guided mainly
by the explanation offered by the framers. 18
The deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission relevant
to Section 2, Article IV in relation to Section 1(3) of the same
250
Article, appear to negate the contention of petitioners that only
those born to Filipino mothers before 17 January 1973 and who
would elect Philippine citizenship after the effectivity of the 1987
Constitution, are to be considered natural-born Filipino citizens.
During the free-wheeling discussions on citizenship,
Commissioner Treas specifically asked Commissioner Bernas
regarding the provisions in question, thus:
MR. TRENAS: The Committee on Citizenship, Bill
of Rights, Political Rights and Obligations and
Human Rights has more or less decided to
extend the interpretation of who is a natural-
born Filipino citizen as provided in Section 4 of
the 1973 Constitution, by adding that persons
who have elected Philippine citizenship under
the 1935 Constitution shall be considered
natural-born. Am I right, Mr. Presiding Officer?
FR BERNAS: Yes.
MR. TRENAS: And does the Commissioner think
that tills addition to Section 4 of the 1973
Constitution would be contrary to the spirit of
that section?
FR BERNAS: Yes, we are quite aware that it is
contrary to the letter really. But whether it is
contrary to the spirit is something that has been
debated before and is being debated even now.
We will recall that during the 1971
Constitutional Convention, the status of natural-
born citizenship of one of the delegates, Mr.
Ang, was challenged precisely because he was a
citizen by election. Finally, the 1971
Constitutional Convention considered him a
natural-born citizen, one of the requirements to
251
be a Member of the 1971 Constitutional
Convention. The reason behind that decision
was that a person under his circumstances
already had the inchoate right to be a citizen by
the fact that the mother was a Filipino. And as a
matter of fact, the 1971 Constitutional
Convention formalized that recognition by
adopting paragraph 2 of Section 1 of the 1971
Constitution. So, the entire purpose of this
proviso is simply to perhaps remedy whatever
injustice there may be so that these people born
before January 17, 1973 who are not naturalized
and people who are not natural born but who
are in the same situation as we are considered
natural-born citizens. So, the intention of the
Committee in proposing this is to equalize their
status. 19
When asked to clarify the provision on natural-born citizens,
Commissioner Bernas replied to Commissioner Azcuna thus:
MR. AZCUNA: With respect to the proviso in
Section 4, would this refer only to those who
elect Philippine citizenship after the effectivity
of the 1973 Constitution or would it also cover
those who elected it under the 1935
Constitution?
FR BERNAS: It would apply to anybody who
elected Philippine citizenship by virtue of the
provision of the 1935 Constitution, whether the
election was done before or after 17 January
1973. 20
And during the period of amendments. Commissioner Rodrigo
explained the purpose of what now appear as Section 2 and

252
Section 1, paragraph (3) of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution,
thus:
MR. RODRIGO: The purpose of that proviso is to
remedy an inequitable situation. Between 1935
and 1973, when we were under the 1935
Constitution, those born of Filipino fathers but
alien mothers were natural-born Filipinos.
However, those born of Filipino mothers but
alien fathers would have to elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority;
and, if they do elect, they become Filipino
citizens, yet, but not natural-born Filipino
citizens.
The 1973 Constitution equalized the status of those born
of Filipino mothers and those born of Filipino fathers. So
that from January 17, 1973 when the 1973 Constitution
took effect, those born of Filipino mothers but of alien
fathers are natural-born Filipino citizens. Also, those who
are born of Filipino fathers and alien mothers are
natural-born Filipino citizens.
If the 1973 Constitution equalized the status of a child
born of a Filipino mother and that born of a Filipino
father, why do we not give a chance to a child born
before January 17, 1973, if and when he elects Philippine
citizenship, to be in the same status as one born of a
Filipino father namely, natural-born citizen.
Another thing I stated is equalizing the status of a father
and a mother vis-a-vis the child. I would like to state also
that we showed equalize the status of a child born of a
Filipino mother the day before January 17, 1973 and a
child born also of a Filipino mother on January 17 or 24
hours later. A child born of a Filipino mother but an alien
father one day before January 17, 1973 is a Filipino
253
citizen, if he elects Philippine citizenship, but he is not a
natural-born Filipino citizen. However, the other child
who luckily was born 24 hours later maybe because of
parto laborioso is a natural-born Filipino citizen. 21
It would appear then that the intent of the framers of the 1987
Constitution in defining a natural-born Filipino citizen was to
equalize the position of Filipino fathers and Filipino mothers as to
their children becoming natural-born Filipino citizens. In other
words, after 17 January 1973, effectivity date of the 1973
Constitution, all those born of Filipino fathers (with alien spouse)
or Filipino mothers (with alien spouse) are natural-born Filipino
citizens. But those born to Filipino mothers prior to 17 January
1973 must still elect Philippine citizenship upon their reaching the
age of majority, in order to be deemed natural-born Filipino
citizens. The election, which is related to the attainment of the
age of majority, may be made before or after 17 January 1973.
This interpretation appears to be in consonance with the
fundamental purpose of the Constitution which is to protect and
enhance the people's individual interests, 22 and to foster equality
among them.
Since private respondent was born on 19 June 1948 (or before 17
January 1973) to a Filipino mother (with an alien spouse) and
should have elected Philippine citizenship on 19 June 1969 (when
he attained the age of majority), or soon thereafter, in order to
have the status of a natural-born Filipino citizen under the 1987
Constitution, the vital question is: did private respondent really
elect Philippine citizenship? As earlier stated, I believe that private
respondent did not elect Philippine citizenship, contrary to the
ruling of the respondent tribunal.
The respondent tribunal, on this issue, ruled as follows:
Where a person born to a Filipino mother and an alien
father had exercised the right of suffrage when he came
of age, the same constitutes a positive act of election of
254
Philippine citizenship. (Florencio vs. Mallare) [sic] The
acts of the petitioner in registering as a voter,
participating in elections and campaigning for certain
candidates were held by the Supreme Court as sufficient
to show his preference for Philippine citizenship.
Accordingly, even without complying with the formal
requisites for election, the petitioner's Filipino citizenship
was judicially upheld. 23
I find the above ruling of the respondent tribunal to be patently
erroneous and clearly untenable, as to amount to grave abuse of
discretion. For it is settled doctrine in this jurisdiction that election
of Philippine citizenship must be made in accordance with
Commonwealth Act 625. Sections 1 and 2 24 of the Act mandate
that the option to elect Philippine citizenship must be effected
expressly not impliedly.
The respondent tribunal cites In re: Florencio Mallare 25 which
held that Esteban Mallare's exercise of the right of suffrage when
he came of age, constituted a positive act of election of Philippine
citizenship.
Mallare, cited by respondent tribunal as authority for the doctrine
of implied election of Philippine citizenship, is not applicable to
the case at bar. The respondent tribunal failed to consider that
Esteban Mallare reached the age of majority in 1924, or
seventeen (17) years before CA 625 was approved and, more
importantly, eleven (11) years before the 1935 Constitution
(which granted the right of election) took effect.
To quote Mr. Justice Fernandez in Mallare:
Indeed, it would be unfair to expect the presentation of a
formal deed to that effect considering that prior to the
enactment of Commonwealth Act 625 on June 7, 1941,
no particular proceeding was required to exercise the
option to elect Philippine citizenship, granted to the
255
proper party by Section 1, subsection 4, Article IV of the
1935 Philippine Constitution. 26
Moreover, Esteban Mallare was held to be a Filipino citizen
because he was an illegitimate (natural) child of a Filipino
mother and thus followed her citizenship. I therefore agree
with the petitioners' submission that,
inciting the Mallare case, the respondent tribunal had
engaged in an obiter dictum.
The respondent tribunal also erred in ruling that by operation of
CA 473, the Revised Naturalization Law, providing for private
respondent's acquisition of Filipino citizenship by reason of the
naturalization of his father, the law itself had already elected
Philippine citizenship for him. For, assuming arguendo that the
naturalization of private respondent's father was valid, and that
there was no further need for private respondent to elect
Philippine citizenship (as he had automatically become a Filipino
citizen) yet, this did not mean that the operation of the Revised
Naturalization Law amounted to an election by him of Philippine
citizenship as contemplated by the Constitution. Besides, election
of Philippine citizenship derived from one's Filipino mother, is
made upon reaching the age of majority, not during one's
minority.
There is no doubt in my mind, therefore, that private respondent
did not elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of
majority in 1969 or within a reasonable time thereafter as
required by CA 625. Consequently, he cannot be deemed a
natural-born Filipino citizen under Sections 2 and 1(3), Article IV
of the 1987 Constitution.
Based on all the foregoing considerations and premises, I am
constrained to state that private respondent is not a natural-born
citizen of the Philippines in contemplation of Section 6, Article VI
of the 1987 Constitution in relation to Sections 2 and 1(3), Article

256
IV thereof, and hence is disqualified or ineligible to be a Member
of the House of Representatives.
At this point, I find it no longer necessary to rule on the issue of
required residence, inasmuch as the Constitution requires that a
Member of the House of Representatives must be both a natural-
born Filipino citizen and a resident for at least one (1) year in the
district in which he shall be elected.
The next question that comes up is whether or not either of the
petitioners can replace private respondent as the Representative
of the second legislative district of Northern Samar in the House
of Representatives.
I agree with respondent tribunal that neither of the petitioners
may take the place of private respondent in the House of
Representatives representing the second district of Northern
Samar. The ruling of this Court in Ramon L. Labo, Jr. vs. The
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) EN BANC and Luis
L. Lardizabal, 27 is controlling. There we held that Luis L.
Lardizabal, who filed the quo warranto petition, could not replace
Ramon L. Labo, Jr. as mayor of Baguio City for the simple reason
that as he obtained only the second highest number of votes in
the election, he was obviously not the choice of the people of
Baguio City for mayor of that City.
A petition alleging that the candidate-elect is not qualified for the
office is, in effect, a quo warranto proceeding even if it is labelled
an election protest. 28 It is a proceeding to unseat the ineligible
person from office but not necessarily to install the protestant in
his place. 29
The general rule is that the fact that a plurality or a majority of the
votes are cast for an ineligible candidate in an election does not
entitle the candidate receiving the next highest number of votes
to be declared elected. In such a case, the electors have failed to
make a choice and the election is a nullity. 30
257
Sound policy dictates that public elective offices are filled
by those who have the highest number of votes cast in
the election for that office, and it is a fundamental idea
in all republican forms of government that no one can be
declared elected and no measure can be declared carried
unless he or it receives a majority or plurality of the legal
votes cast in the election. (20 Corpus Juris 2nd, S 243, p.
676).
As early as 1912, this Court has already declared that the
candidate who lost in an election cannot be proclaimed
the winner in the event that the candidate who won is
found ineligible for the office to which he was elected.
This was the ruling in Topacio v. Paredes (23 Phil. 238)
Again, the effect of a decision that a candidate is
not entitled to the office because of fraud or
irregularities in the election is quite different
from that produced by declaring a person
ineligible to hold such an office. . . . If it be found
that the successful candidate (according to the
board of canvassers) obtained a plurality in an
illegal manner, and that another candidate was
the real victor, the former must retire in favor of
the latter. In the other case, there is not, strictly
speaking, a contest, as the wreath of victory
cannot be transferred from an ineligible to any
other candidate when the sole question is the
eligibility of the one receiving a plurality of the
legally cast ballots. . . . 31
The recognition of Emil L. Ong by the 1971 Constitutional
Convention as a natural-born Filipino citizen, in relation to the
present case.
Private respondent, as previously stated, is a full brother of Emil L.
Ong, both of them having the same father and mother.
258
Private respondent, relying on a resolution of the 1971
Constitutional Convention 32 to the effect that Emil L. Ong was a
natural-born Filipino citizen, alleged before the House Electoral
Tribunal that, by analogy, he is himself a natural-born Filipino
citizen. This submission, while initially impressive, is, as will now
be shown, flawed and not supported by the evidence. Not even
the majority decision of the electoral tribunal adopted the same
as the basis of its decision in favor of private respondent. The
tribunal, in reference to this submission, said:
Be that as it may and in the light of the Tribunal's
disposition of protestee's citizenship based on an entirely
different set of circumstances, apart from the
indisputable fact that the matters attempted to be
brought in issue in connection therewith are too far
removed in point of time and relevance from the decisive
events relied upon by the Tribunal, we view these two
issues as being already inconsequential. 33
The electoral tribunal (majority) instead chose to predicate its
decision on the alleged citizenship by naturalization of private
respondent's father (Ong Chuan) and on the alleged election
of Philippine citizenship by private respondent.
Emil L. Ong, was elected delegate to the 1971 Constitutional
Convention. Electoral protests, numbers EP-07 and EP-08, were
filed by Leonardo D. Galing and Gualberto D. Luto against Emil L.
Ong, contesting his citizenship qualification. The Committee on
Election Protests Credentials of the 1971 Contitution Convention
heard the protests and submitted to the Convention a report
dated 4 September 1972, the dispositive portion of which stated:
It appearing that protestee's grandfather was himself a
Filipino citizen under the provisions of the Philippine Bill
of 1902 and the Treaty of Paris of December 10, 1898,
thus conferring upon protestee's own father, Ong Chuan,
Philippine citizenship at birth, the conclusion is
259
inescapable that protestee himself is a natural-born
citizen, and is therefore qualified to hold the office of
delegate to the Constitutional Convention. 34
On 28 November 1972, during a plenary session of the 1971
Constitutional Convention, the election protests filed against Emil
L. Ong were dismissed, following the report of the Committee on
Election Protests and Credentials.35
It is evident, up to this point, that the action of the 1971
Constitutional Convention in the case of Emil L. Ong is, to say the
least, inconclusive to the case at bar, because
a) the 1971 Constitutional Convention decision in the
Emil L. Ong case involved the 1935Constitution; the
present case, on the other hand involves the
1987 Constitution:
b) the 1935 Constitution contained no specific definition
of a "natural-born citizen" of the Philippines; the 1987
Constitution contains a precise and specific definition of
a "natural-born citizen" of the Philippines in Sec. 2, Art.
IV thereof and private respondent does not qualify under
such definition in the 1987 Constitution;
c) the decision of the 1971 Constitutional Convention in
the case of Emil L. Ong was a decision of apolitical body,
not a court of law. And, even if we have to take such a
decision as a decision of aquasi-judicial body (i.e., a
political body exercising quasi-judicial functions), said
decision in the Emil L. Ong case can not have the
category or character of res judicata in the present
judicial controversy, because between the two (2) cases,
there is no identity of parties (one involves Emil L. Ong,
while the other involves private respondent) and, more
importantly, there is no identity of causes of action

260
because the first involves the 1935 Constitution while the
second involves the 1987 Constitution.
But even laying aside the foregoing reasons based on procedural
rules and logic, the evidence submitted before the electoral
tribunal and, therefore, also before this Court, does not support
the allegations made by Emil L. Ong before the 1971
Constitutional Convention and inferentially adopted by private
respondent in the present controversy. This leads us to an
interesting inquiry and finding.
The 1971 Constitutional Convention in holding that Emil L. Ong
was a "natural-born citizen" of the Philippines under the 1935
Constitution laid stress on the "fact" and this appears crucial
and central to its decision that Emil L. Ong's grandfather, Ong
Te became a Filipino citizen under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and,
therefore, his descendants like Emil L. Ong (and therefore, also
private respondent) became natural-born Filipinos. The 1971
Constitutional Convention said:
Ong Te Emil Ong's grandfather, was a Spanish subject
residing in the Philippines on April 11, 1899 and was
therefore one of the many who became ipso
facto citizens of the Philippines under the provisions of
the Philippine Bill of 1902. Said law expressly declared
that all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands who
continued to reside therein and who were Spanish
subjects on April 11, 1899 as well as their children born
subsequent thereto, "shall be deemed and held to be
citizens of the Philippine Islands." (Section 4, Philippine
Bill of
1902). 36
The "test" then, following the premises of the 1971 Constitutional
Convention, is whether or not Ong Te private respondent's and
Emil L. Ong's grandfather was "an inhabitant of the Philippines
who continued to reside therein and was a Spanish subject on
261
April 11, 1899." If he met these requirements of the Philippine Bill
of 1902, then, Ong Te was a Filipino citizen; otherwise, he was not
a Filipino citizen.
Petitioners (protestants) submitted and offered in evidence
before the House Electoral Tribunal exhibits W, X, Y, Z ,AA, BB, CC,
DD and EE which are copies of entries in the "Registro de Chinos"
from years 1896 to 1897 which show that Ong Te was not listed as
an inhabitant of Samar where he is claimed to have been a
resident. Petitioners (protestants) also submitted and offered in
evidence before the House Electoral Tribunal exhibit V, a
certification of the Chief of the Archives Division, Records and
Management and Archives Office, stating that the name of Ong Te
does not appear in the "Registro Central de Chinos" for the
province of Samar for 1895. These exhibits prove or at least, as
petitioners validly argue, tend to prove that Ong Te was NOT a
resident of Samar close to 11 April 1899 and, therefore, could not
continue residing in Samar, Philippines after 11 April 1899,
contrary to private respondent's pretense. In the face of these
proofs or evidence, private respondent FAILED TO PRESENT ANY
REBUTTAL OR COUNTERVAILING EVIDENCE, except the decision of
the 1971 Constitutional Convention in the case of Emil L. Ong,
previously discussed.
It is not surprising then that, as previously noted, the majority
decision of the House Electoral Tribunal skirted any reliance on
the alleged ipso facto Filipino citizenship of Ong Te under the
Philippine Bill of 1902. It is equally not surprising that Ong Chuan,
the son of Ong Te and father or private respondent, did not even
attempt to claim Filipino citizenship by reason of Ong Te's alleged
Filipino citizenship under the Philippine Bill of 1902 but instead
applied for Philippine citizenship through naturalization.
Nor can it be contended by the private respondent that the House
Electoral Tribunal should no longer have reviewed the factual
question or issue of Ong Te's citizenship in the light of the
262
resolution of the 1971 Constitutional Convention finding him (Ong
Te to have become a Filipino citizen under the Philippine Bill of
1902. The tribunal had to look into the question because the
finding that Ong Te had become a Filipino citizen under the
Philippine Bill of 1902 was the central core of said 1971 resolution
but as held in Lee vs. Commissioners of
Immigration: 37
. . . Everytime the citizenship of a person is material or
indispensable in a judicial or administrative case,
whatever the corresponding Court or administrative
authority decides therein as to such citizenship is
generally not considered as res adjudicata, hence it has
to be threshed out again and again as the occasion may
demand.
Which finally brings us to the resolution of this Court in Emil
L. Ong vs. COMELEC, et al., G.R. No. 67201, 8 May 1984. In
connection with said resolution, it is contended by private
respondent that the resolution of the 1971 Constitutional
Convention in the Emil L. Ong case was elevated to this Court on a
question involving Emil L. Ong's disqualification to run for
membership in the Batasang Pambansa and that, according to
private respondent, this Court allowed the use of the Committee
Report to the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
To fully appreciate the implications of such contention, it would
help to look into the circumstances of the case brought before
this Court in relation to the Court's action or disposition. Emil L.
Ong and Edilberto Del Valle were both candidates for the
Batasang Pambansa in the 14 May 1984 election. Valle filed a
petition for disqualification with the Commission on Election on
29 March 1984 docketed as SPC No. 84-69 contending that Ong is
not a natural-born citizen. Ong filed a motion to dismiss the
petition on the ground that the judgment of the 1971
Constitutional Convention on his status as a natural-born citizen
263
of the Philippines bars the petitioner from raising the Identical
issue before the COMELEC. (G.R. No. 67201, Rollo, p. 94) The
motion was denied by the COMELEC, thus, prompting Emil L. Ong
to file with this Court a petition for certiorari, prohibition
and mandamuswith preliminary injunction against the COMELEC,
docketed as G.R. No. 67201.
In a resolution dated 8 May 1984, this Court resolved to issue a
writ of preliminary injunction enjoining respondent COMELEC
from holding any further hearing on the disqualification case
entitled "Edilberto Del Valle vs. Emil Ong(SPC No. 84-69) except to
dismiss the same. (G.R. Nos. 92202-03, Rollo, p. 335)
This Court, in explaining its action, held that:
Acting on the prayer of the petitioner for the issuance of
a Writ of Preliminary Injunction, and considering that at
the hearing this morning, it was brought out that the
1971 Constitutional Convention, at its session of
November 28, 1972, after considering the Report of its
Committee on Election Protests and Credentials, found
that the protest questioning the citizenship of the
protestee (the petitioner herein) was groundless and
dismissed Election Protests Nos. EP 07 and EP 08 filed
against said petitioner (p. 237, Rollo), the authenticity of
the Minutes of said session as well as of the said
Committee's Report having been duly admitted in
evidence without objection and bears out, for now,
without need for a full hearing, that petitioner is a
natural-born citizen, the Court Resolved to ISSUE,
effective immediately, a Writ of Preliminary Injunction
enjoining respondent COMELEC from holding any further
hearing on the disqualification case entitled Edilberto Del
Valle vs. Emil Ong (SPC No. 84-69) scheduled at 3:00
o'clock this afternoon, or any other day, except to
dismiss the same.This is without prejudice to any
264
appropriate action that private respondent may wish to
take after the elections. (emphasis supplied)
It is thus clear that the resolution of this Court in G.R. No. 67201
was rendered without the benefit of a hearing on the merits
either by the Court or by the COMELEC and merely on the basis of
a Committee's Report to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, and
that this Court (and this is quite significant) did not foreclose any
appropriate action that Del Valle (therein petitioner) may wish to
take after the elections.
It is thus abundantly clear also that to this Court, the resolution of
the 1971 Constitutional Convention recognizing Emil L. Ong as a
natural-born citizen under the 1935 Constitution did not foreclose
a future or further proceeding in regard to the same question and
that, consequently, there is no vested right of Emil L. Ong to such
recognition. How much more when the Constitution involved is
not the 1935 Constitution but the 1987 Constitution whose
provisions were never considered in all such proceedings because
the 1987 Constitution was still inexistent.
A final word. It is regrettable that one (as private respondent)
who unquestionably obtained the highest number of votes for the
elective position of Representative (Congressman) to the House of
Representatives for the second district of Northern Samar, would
have had to cease in office by virtue of this Court's decision, if the
full membership of the Court had participated in this case, with
the result that the legislative district would cease to have, in the
interim, a representative in the House of Representatives. But the
fundamental consideration in cases of this nature is the
Constitution and only the Constitution. It has to be assumed,
therefore, that when the electorate in the second legislative
district of Northern Samar cast the majority of their votes for
private respondent, they assumed and believed that he was fully
eligible and qualified for the office because he is a natural-born

265
Filipino citizen. That erroneous assumption and belief can not
prevail over, but must yield to the majesty of the Constitution.
This is a sad day for the Constitution. As I see it, the Constitution
mandates that members of the House of Representatives should
be "natural-born citizens of the Philippines". The voting majority
of the present Court says, "Filipino citizens will do." This is bad
enough. What is worse is, the same voting majority, in effect,
says, "even aliens will do as well."
WHEREFORE, my vote is clear: to declare private respondent Jose
L. Ong Chua, Jr., as he clearly is, NOT a natural-born citizen of the
Philippines and therefore NOT QUALIFIED to be a Member of the
House of Representatives, Congress of the Philippines.
Narvasa, J., Paras, J. and Regalado, J., dissenting.
SARMIENTO, J., concurring:
I concur with the majority.
(1)
I wish to point out first that the question of citizenship is a
question of fact, and as a rule, the Supreme Court leaves facts to
the tribunal that determined them. I am quite agreed that the
Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives, as the "sole
judge" of all contests relating to the membership in the House, as
follows:
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
266
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. 1
is the best judge of facts and this Court can not substitute its
judgment because it thinks it knows better.
In the case of Aratuc v. Commission on Elections, 2 it was held that
this Court can not review the errors of the Commission on
Elections (then the "sole judge" of all election contests) in the
sense of reviewing facts and unearthing mistakes and that this
Court's jurisdiction is to see simply whether or not it is guilty of a
grave abuse of discretion. It is true that the new Constitution has
conferred expanded powers on the Court, 3 but as the Charter
states, our authority is "to determine whether or not there has
been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
Government." 4 It is not to review facts.
"Grave abuse of discretion" has been defined as whimsical
exercise of power amounting to excess of jurisdiction, or
otherwise, to denial of due process of law. 5
I find none of that here.
As the majority indicates, Jose Ong's citizenship is a matter of
opinion with which men may differ, but certainly, it is quite
another thing to say that the respondent Tribunal has gravely
abused its discretion because the majority has begged to differ. It
does not form part of the duty of the Court to remedy all
imagined wrongs committed by the Government.
The respondent Tribunal has spoken. According to the Tribunal,
Jose Ong is a Filipino citizen and consequently, is possessed of the

267
qualifications to be a member of the House. As the sole judge,
precisely, of this question, the Court can not be more popish than
the pope.
(2)
I can not say, in the second place, that the Decision in question
stands exactly on indefensible grounds. It is to be noted that Jose
Ong had relied on the Report dated September 4, 1972 of the
1971 Constitutional Convention Committee 6 on Election Protests
and Credentials, in which the Committees upheld the citizenship,
and sustained the qualification to sit as Delegate, of Emil Ong,
Jose Ong's full blood brother. According to the Report, Ong Te the
Ongs' grandfather, was already a Filipino citizen having complied
with the requirements on Filipinization by existing laws for which
his successors need not have elected Filipino citizenship. I quote:
xxx xxx xxx
There is merit in protestee's claim. There can hardly be
any doubt that Ong Te protestees's grandfather, was a
Spanish subject residing in the Philippines on April 11,
1899, and was therefore one of the many who
became ipso facto citizens of the Philippines under the
provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902. Said law
expressly declared that all inhabitants of the Philippine
Islands who continued to reside therein and who were
Spanish subjects on April 11, 1899, as well as their
children born subsequent thereto, "shall be deemed and
held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands" (Sec. 4,
Philippine Bill of 1902). Excepted from the operation of
this rule were Spanish subjects who shall have elected to
preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in
accordance with the Treaty of Paris of December 10,
1898. But under the Treaty of Paris, only Spanish subjects
who were natives of Peninsular Spain had the privilege of
preserving their Spanish nationality. 7
268
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
As earlier noted, protestee's grandfather established
residence in the Philippines in 1895, as shown by
the Registro Central de Chinos. He was also issued a
certificate of registration. He established a business here,
and later acquired real property. Although he went back
to China for brief visits, he invariably came back. He even
brought his eldest son, Ong Chuan, to live in the
Philippines when the latter was only 10 years old. And
Ong Chuan was admitted into the country because, as
duly noted on his landing certificate, his father, Ong Te
had been duly enrolled under CR 16009-36755 i.e., as
a permanent resident. Indeed, even when Ong Te went
back to China in the 1920's for another visit, he left his
son, Ong Chuan, who was then still a minor, in the
Philippines obviously because he had long considered
the Philippines his home. The domicile he established in
1895 is presumed to have continued up to, and beyond,
April 11, 1899, for, as already adverted to, a domicile
once acquired is not lost until a new one is gained. The
only conclusion then can thus be drawn is that Ong Te
was duly domiciled in the Philippines as of April 11, 1899,
within the meaning of par. 4, Art. 17, of the Civil Code of
1889 and was, consequently, a Spanish subject, he
qualified as a Filipino citizen under the provisions of
Section 4 of the Philippine Bill of 1902. 8
It is true that Ong Chuan, the Ong brothers' father, subsequently
sought naturalization in the belief that he was, all along, a Chinese
citizen, but as the Report held:
Protestants, however, make capital of the fact that both
Ong Te and his son, Ong Chuan (protestee's father),
appear to have been registered as Chinese citizens even
269
long after the turn of the century. Worse, Ong Chuan
himself believed the was alien, to the extent of having to
seek admission as a Pilipino citizen through
naturalization proceedings. The point, to our mind, is
neither crucial nor substantial. Ong's status as a citizen is
a matter of law, rather than of personal belief. It is what
the law provides, and not what one thinks his status to
be, which determines whether one is a citizen of a
particular state or not. Mere mistake or misapprehension
as to one's citizenship, it has been held, is not a sufficient
cause or reason for forfeiture of Philippine citizenship; it
does not even constitute estoppel (Palanca vs. Republic,
80 Phil. 578, 584). Too, estoppel applies only to questions
of fact and not of law (Tanada v. Cuenco, L-10520, Feb.
28, 1957). 9
It is to be noted that the Report was unanimously approved by
the Committee, and on November 28, 1972, approved without
any objection by the Convention in plenary session. 10
I am not, of course, to be mistaken as acting as mouthpiece of
Emil Ong, but in all candor, I speak from experience, because
when the Convention approved the Report in question, I was one
of its vice-presidents and the presiding officer.
It is to be noted finally, that the matter was elevated to this Court
(on a question involving Emil Ong's qualification to sit as member
of the defunct Batasang Pambansa) 11 in which this Court allowed
the use of the Committee Report.
Faced with such positive acts of the Government, I submit that
the question of the Ong's citizenship is a settled matter. Let it rest.
It is true that Electoral Protest Nos. EP-07 and EP-08 of the
Convention as well as G.R. No. 67201 of this Court, involved Emil
Ong and not his brother; I submit, however, that what is sauce for
the goose is sauce for the gander.
270
I also submit that the fundamental question is whether or not we
will overturn the unanimous ruling of 267 delegates, indeed, also
of this Court.

Separate Opinions
PADILLA, J., dissenting:
I dissent.
These separate petitions for certiorari and mandamus seek to
annul the decision * of respondent House of Representatives
Electoral Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as the tribunal) dated 6
November 1989 which declared private respondent Jose L. Ong, a
natural-born citizen of the Philippines and a legal resident of
Laoang, Northern Samar, and the resolution of the tribunal dated
22 February 1990 denying petitioners' motions for
reconsideration.
In G.R. Nos. 92191-92, petitioner Co also prays that the Court
declare private respondent Ong not qualified to be a Member of
the House of Representatives and to declare him (petitioner Co)
who allegedly obtained the highest number of votes among
the qualified candidates, the duly elected representative of the
second legislative district of Northern Samar. In G.R. Nos. 92202-
03, petitioner Balanquit prays that the Court declare private
respondent Ong and Co (petitioner in G.R. Nos. 92191-92) not
qualified for membership in the House of Representatives and to
proclaim him (Balanguit) as the duly elected representative of said
district.
Petitioners Antonio Y. Co, Sixto T. Balanquit, Jr. and private
respondent Jose Ong Chuan, Jr. were among the candidates for
271
the position of Representative or Congressman for the second
district of Northern Samar during the 11 May 1987 congressional
elections. Private respondent was proclaimed duly-elected on 18
May 1987 with a plurality of some sixteen thousand (16,000)
votes over petitioner Co who obtained the next highest number of
votes.
Petitioners Co and Balanquit then filed separate election protests
against private respondent with the tribunal, docketed as HRET
Cases Nos. 13 and 15 respectively. Both protests raised almost the
same issues and were thus considered and decided jointly by the
tribunal.
The issues raised before the tribunal were the following:
1. Whether or not protestee (meaning, Ong) is a natural-
born citizen of the Philippines in contemplation of
Section 6, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution in relation
to Sections 2 and 1(3), Article IV thereof; and
2. Whether or not protestee was a resident of Laoang,
Northern Samar, in contemplation of Section 6, Article VI
of the same Constitution, for a period of not less than
one year immediately preceding the congressional
elections of May 1987.
The respondent tribunal in its decision dated 6 November 1989
held that respondent Jose L. Ong is a natural-born citizen of the
Philippines and was a legal resident of Laoang, Northern Samar
for the required period prior to the May 1987 congressional
elections. He was, therefore, declared qualified to continue in
office as Member of the House of Representatives, Congress of
the Philippines, representing the second legislative district of
Northern Samar.
The factual antecedents taken from the consolidated proceedings
in the tribunal are the following:

272
1. The Protestee (Ong) was born on June 19, 1948 to the
legal spouses Ong Chuan also known as Jose Ong Chuan
and Agrifina E. Lao. His place of birth is Laoang which is
now one of the municipalities comprising the province of
Northern Samar (Republic Act No. 6132 approved on
August 24, 1970 and the Ordinance appended to the
1987 Constitution).
2. On the other hand, Jose Ong Chuan was born in China
and arrived in Manila on December 16, 1915. (Exhibit zz)
Subsequently thereafter, he took up residence in Laoang,
Samar.
3. On February 4, 1932, he married Agrifina E. Lao. Their
wedding was celebrated according to the rites and
practices of the Roman Catholic Church in the
Municipality of Laoang (Exh. E).
4. At the time of her marriage to Jose Ong Chuan,
Agrifina E. Lao was a natural-born Filipino citizen, both
her parents at the time of her birth being Filipino
citizens. (Exhibits E & I)
5. On February 15, 1954, Jose Ong Chuan, desiring to
acquire Philippine citizenship, filed his petition for
naturalization with the Court of First Instance of Samar,
pursuant to Commonwealth Act No. 473, otherwise
known as the Revised Naturalization Law.
6. On April 28, 1955, the Court of First Instance of Samar
rendered a decision approving the application of Jose
Ong Chuan for naturalization and declaring said
petitioner a Filipino citizen "with all the rights and
privileges and duties, liabilities and obligations inherent
to Filipino citizens. (Exh. E)
7. On May 15, 1957, the same Court issued an order:

273
(1) declaring the decision of this Court of April
28, 1955 final and executory;
(2) directing the clerk of court to issue the
corresponding Certificate of Naturalization in
favor of the applicant Ong Chuan who prefers to
take his oath and register his name as Jose Ong
Chuan. Petitioner may take his oath as Filipino
citizen under Ms new christian name, Jose Ong
Chuan. (Exh. F)
8. On the same day, Jose Ong Chuan having taken the
corresponding oath of allegiance to the Constitution and
the Government of the Philippines as prescribed by
Section 12 of Commonwealth Act No. 473, was issued
the corresponding Certificate of Naturalization. (Exh. G)
9. On November 10, 1970, Emil L. Ong, a full-brother of
the protestee and a son born on July 25, 1937 at Laoang,
Samar to the spouses Jose Ong Chuan and Agrifina E. Lao,
was elected delegate from Northern Samar to the 1971
Constitutional Convention.
10. By protestee's own -testimony, it was established
that he had attended grade school in Laoang. Thereafter,
he went to Manila where he finished his secondary as
well as his college education. While later employed in
Manila, protestee however went home to Laoang
whenever he had the opportunity to do so, which
invariably would be as frequent as twice to four times a
year.
11. Protestee also showed that being a native and legal
resident of Laoang, he registered as a voter therein and
correspondingly voted in said municipality in the 1984
and 1986 elections.

274
12. Again in December 1986, during the general
registration of all voters in the country, Protestee re-
registered as a voter in Precinct No. 4 of Barangay
Tumaguinting in Laoang. In his voter's affidavit, Protestee
indicated that he is a resident of Laoang since birth. (Exh.
7) 1
Petitioners' motions for reconsideration of the tribunal's decision
having been denied, petitioners filed the present petitions.
In their comments, the respondents first raise the issue of the
Court's jurisdiction to review the decision of the House Electoral
Tribunal, considering the constitutional provision vesting upon
said tribunal the power and authority to act as the sole judge of all
contests relating to the qualifications of the Members of the
House of Representatives. 2
On the question of this Court's jurisdiction over the present
controversy, I believe that, contrary to the respondents'
contentions, the Court has the jurisdiction and competence to
review the questioned decision of the tribunal and to decide the
present controversy.
Article VIII, Section I of the 1987 Constitution provides that:
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice
to settle actual controversies involving rights which are
legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on
the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
Government.
The Constitution, it is true, constitutes the tribunal as the sole
judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and
qualifications of Members of the House of Representatives. But as
early as 1938, it was held in Morrero vs.Bocar, 3 construing

275
Section 4, Article VI of the 1935 Constitution which provided that
". . . The Electoral Commission shall be the sole judge of all
contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the
Members of the National Assembly," that:
The judgment rendered by the (electoral) commission in
the exercise of such an acknowledged power is beyond
judicial interference, except, in any event, "upon a clear
showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of the
power as will constitute a denial of due process of law."
(Barry vs. US ex rel. Cunningham, 279 US 597; 73 Law.
ed., 867; Angara vs. Electoral Commission, 35 Off. Gaz.,
23.)
And then under the afore-quoted provisions of Article VIII, Section
1 of the 1987 Constitution, this Court is duty-bound to determine
whether or not, in an actual controversy, there has been a grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on
the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.
The present controversy, it will be observed, involves more than
perceived irregularities in the conduct of a congressional election
or a disputed appreciation of ballots, in which cases, it may be
contended with great legal force and persuasion that the decision
of the electoral tribunal should be final and conclusive, for it is, by
constitutional directive, made the sole judge of contests relating
to such matters. The present controversy, however, involves no
less than a determination of whether the qualifications for
membership in the House of Representatives, as prescribed by the
Constitution, have been met. Indeed, this Court would be
unforgivably remiss in the performance of its duties, as mandated
by the Constitution, were it to allow a person, not a natural-born
Filipino citizen, to continue to sit as a Member of the House of
Representatives, solely because the House Electoral Tribunal has
declared him to be so. In such a case, the tribunal would have
acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess
276
of jurisdiction as to require the exercise by this Court of its power
of judicial review.
Besides, the citizenship and residence qualifications of private
respondent for the office of Member of the House of
Representatives, are here controverted by petitioners who, at the
same time, claim that they are entitled to the office illegally held
by private respondent. From this additional direction, where one
asserts an earnestly perceived right that in turn is vigorously
resisted by another, there is clearly a justiciable controversy
proper for this Court to consider and decide.
Nor can it be said that the Court, in reviewing the decision of the
tribunal, asserts supremacy over it in contravention of the time-
honored principle of constitutional separation of powers. The
Court in this instance simply performs a function entrusted and
assigned to it by the Constitution of interpreting, in a justiciable
controversy, the pertinent provisions of the Constitution with
finality.
It is the role of the Judiciary to refine and, when
necessary, correct constitutional (and/or statutory)
interpretation, in the context of the interactions of the
three branches of the government, almost always in
situations where some agency of the State has engaged
in action that stems ultimately from some legitimate area
of governmental power (the Supreme Court in Modern
Role, C.B. Sevisher, 1958, p. 36). 4
Moreover, it is decidedly a matter of great public interest and
concern to determine whether or not private respondent is
qualified to hold so important and high a public office which is
specifically reserved by the Constitution only to natural-born
Filipino citizens.
After a careful consideration of the issues and the evidence, it is
my considered opinion that the respondent tribunal committed
277
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in rendering its questioned decision and resolution,
for reasons to be presently stated.
The Constitution 5 requires that a Member of the House of
Representatives must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines
and, on the day of the election, is at least twenty-five (25) 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 (1) year immediately preceding the day of the election.
Article IV, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution defines natural-born
(Filipino) citizens as:
Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act
to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those
who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with
paragraph (3), Section I hereof shall be deemed natural-
born citizen,
Article IV, Section 1, paragraph (3) of the 1987 Constitution
provides that:
Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:
xxx xxx xxx
(3) Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino
mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching
the age of majority.
The Court in this case is faced with the duty of interpreting the
above-quoted constitutional provisions. The first sentence of
Section 2 of Article IV states the basic definition of a natural-born
Filipino citizen. Does private respondent fall within said
definition?
278
To the respondent tribunal,
Protestee may even be declared a natural-born citizen of
the Philippines under the first sentence of Sec. 2 of
Article IV of the 1987 Constitution because he did not
have "to perform any act to acquire or perfect his
Philippine citizenship." It bears to repeat that on 15 May
1957, while still a minor of 9 years he already became a
Filipino citizen by declaration of law. Since his mother
was a natural-born citizen at the time of her marriage,
protestee had an inchoate right to Philippine citizenship
at the moment of his birth and, consequently the
declaration by virtue of Sec. 15 of CA 473 that he was a
Filipino citizen retroacted to the moment of his birth
without his having to perform any act to acquire or
perfect such Philippine citizenship. 6
I regret that I am neither convinced nor persuaded by such
kaleidoscopic ratiocination. The records show that private
respondent was born on 19 June 1948 to the spouses Jose Ong
Chuan, a Chinese citizen, and Agrifina E. Lao, a natural-born
Filipino citizen, in Laoang, Northern Samar. In other words, at
birth, private respondent was a Chinese citizen (not a natural-
born Filipino citizen) because his father was then a Chinese citizen
(not a naturalized Filipino citizen). Under the 1935 Constitution
which was enforced at the time of private respondent's birth on
19 June 1948, only those whose fathers were citizens of the
Philippines were considered Filipino citizens. Those whose
mothers were citizens of the Philippines had to elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, in order to be
considered Filipino citizens. 7
Following the basic definition in the 1987 Constitution of a
natural-born citizen, in relation to the 1935 Constitution, private
respondent is not a natural-born Filipino citizen, having been born
a Chinese citizen by virtue of the Chinese citizenship of his father
279
at the time of his birth, although from birth, private respondent
had the right to elect Philippine citizenship, the citizenship of his
mother, but only upon his reaching the age of majority.
While under Section 15 of the Revised Naturalization Law (C.A.
473) minor children of a naturalized citizen (father), who were
born in the Philippines prior to the naturalization of the
parent automatically become Filipino citizens, 8 this does not alter
the fact that private respondent was not born to a Filipino father,
and the operation of Section 15 of CA 473 did not confer upon
him the status of a natural-born citizen merely because he did not
have to perform any act to acquire or perfect his status as
a Filipino citizen.
But even assuming arguendo that private respondent could be
considered a natural-born citizen by virtue of the operation of CA
473, petitioners however contend that the naturalization of
private respondent's father was invalid and void from the
beginning, and, therefore, private respondent is not even a
Filipino citizen.
Respondent tribunal in its questioned decision ruled that only a
direct proceeding for nullity of naturalization as a Filipino citizen is
permissible, and, therefore, a collateral attack on Ong Chuan's
naturalization is barred in an electoral contest which does not
even involve him (Ong Chuan).
Private respondent, for his part, avers in his Comment that the
challenge against Ong Chuan's naturalization must emanate from
the Government and must be made in a proper/appropriate and
direct proceeding for de-naturalization directed against the
proper party, who in such case is Ong Chuan, and also during his
lifetime.
A judgment in a naturalization proceeding is not, however,
afforded the character of impregnability under the principle of res
judicata. 9 Section 18 of CA 473 provides that a certificate of
280
naturalization may be cancelled upon motion made in the proper
proceeding by the Solicitor General or his representative, or by
the proper provincial fiscal.
In Republic vs. Go Bon Lee, 10 this Court held that:
An alien friend is offered under certain conditions the
privilege of citizenship. He may accept the offer and
become a citizen upon compliance with the prescribed
conditions, but not otherwise. His claim is of favor, not of
right. He can only become a citizen upon and after a
strict compliance with the acts of Congress. An applicant
for this high privilege is bound, therefore, to conform to
the terms upon which alone the right he seeks can be
conferred. It is his province, and he is bound, to see that
the jurisdictional facts upon which the grant is predicated
actually exist and if they do not he takes nothing by this
paper grant.
xxx xxx xxx
Congress having limited this privilege to a specified class
of persons, no other person is entitled to such privilege,
nor to a certificate purporting to grant it, and any such
certificate issued to a person not so entitled to receive it
must be treated as a mere nullity, which confers no legal
rights as against the government, from which it has been
obtained without warrant of law.
"Naturalization is not a right, but a privilege of the most
discriminating as well as delicate and exacting nature, affecting
public interest of the highest order, and which may be enjoyed
only under the precise conditions prescribed by law therefor." 11
Considering the legal implications of the allegation made by the
petitioners that the naturalization of private respondent's father
Ong Chuan, is a nullity, the Court should make a ruling on the

281
validity of said naturalization proceedings. This course of action
becomes all the more inevitable and justified in the present case
where, to repeat for stress, it is claimed that a foreigner is holding
a public
office. 12
It cannot be overlooked, in this connection, that the citizenship of
private respondent is derived from his father. If his father's
Filipino citizenship is void from the beginning, then there is
nothing from which private respondent can derive his own
claimed Filipino citizenship. For a spring cannot rise higher than its
source. And to allow private respondent to avail of the privileges
of Filipino citizenship by virtue of a void naturalization of his
father, would constitute or at least sanction a continuing offense
against the Constitution.
The records show that private respondent's father, Jose Ong
Chuan, took the oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the
Philippine Government, as prescribed by Section 12 of CA 473 on
the same day (15 May 1957) that the CFI issued its order directing
the clerk of court to issue the corresponding Certificate of
Naturalization and for the applicant to take the oath of allegiance.
However, it is settled that an order granting a petition to take the
requisite oath of allegiance of one who has previously obtained a
decision favorable to his application for naturalization,
is appealable. It is, therefore, improper and illegal to authorize
the taking of said oath upon the issuance of said order and before
the expiration of the reglementary period to perfect any appeal
from said order. 13
In Cua Sun Ke vs. Republic, 14 this Court held that:
Administration of the oath of allegiance on the same day
as issuance of order granting citizenship is irregular and
makes the proceedings so taken null and void. (Republic

282
vs. Guy, 115 SCRA 244 [1982]; citing the case of Ong So
vs. Republic of the Philippines, 121 Phil. 1381).
It would appear from the foregoing discussion that the
naturalization of Jose Ong Chuan (private respondent's father)
was null and void. It follows that the private respondent did not
acquire any legal rights from the void naturalization of his father
and thus he cannot himself be considered a Filipino citizen, more
so, a natural-born Filipino citizen.
But assuming that the CFI order of 15 May 1957 directing the
clerk of court to issue the certificate of naturalization to Ong
Chuan and for the latter to take the oath of allegiance was final
and not appealable, the resulting naturalization of Ong Chuan
effected, as previously stated, an automatic naturalization of
private respondent, then a minor, as a Filipino citizen on 15 May
1957, but not his acquisition or perfection of the status of a
natural-born Filipino citizen.
Let us now look into the question of whether or not private
respondent acquired the status of a natural-born Filipino citizen
by reason of the undisputed fact that his mother was a natural-
born Filipino citizen. This in turn leads us to an examination of
the second sentence in Article IV, Section 2 of the 1987
Constitution. It expands, in a manner of speaking, in relation to
Section 1, paragraph (3) of the same Article IV, the status of a
natural-born Filipino citizen to those who elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. The right or
privilege of election is available, however, only to those born to
Filipino mothers under the 1935 Constitution, and before the
1973 Constitution took effect on 17 January 1973.
The petitioners contend that the respondent tribunal acted in
excess of its jurisdiction or gravely abused its discretion as to
exceed its jurisdiction in "distorting" the conferment by the 1987
Constitution of the status of "natural-born" Filipino citizen on
those who elect Philippine citizenship all in its strained effort,
283
according to petitioners, to support private respondent's
qualification to be a Member of the House of Representatives. 15
Petitioners argue that the clear, unambiguous wording of section
1(3) of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution contemplates that only
the legitimate children of Filipino mothers with alien father, born
before 17 January 1973 and who would reach the age of majority
(and thus elect Philippine citizenship) after the effectivity of the
1987 Constitution are entitled to the status of natural-born
Filipino citizen. 16
The respondent tribunal in resolving the issue of the
constitutional provisions' interpretation, found reason to refer to
the interpellations made during the 1986 Constitutional
Commission. It said:
That the benevolent provisions of Sections 2 and 1(3) of
Article IV of the 1987 Constitution was (sic) intended by
its (sic) framers to be endowed, without distinction, to all
Filipinos by election pursuant to the 1935 Constitution is
more than persuasively established by the extensive
interpellations and debate on the issue as borne by the
official records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. 17
Although I find the distinction as to when election of Philippine
citizenship was made irrelevant to the case at bar, since private
respondent, contrary to the conclusion of the respondent
tribunal, did not elect Philippine citizenship, as provided by law, I
still consider it necessary to settle the controversy regarding the
meaning of the constitutional provisions in question.
I agree with respondent tribunal that the debates, interpellations
petitions and opinions expressed in the 1986 Constitutional
Commission may be resorted to in ascertaining the meaning of
somewhat elusive and even nebulous constitutional provisions.
Thus

284
The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with
the fundamental principle of constitutional construction
that the intent of the framers of the organic law and of
the people adopting it should be given effect. The
primary task in constitutional construction is to ascertain
and thereafter assure the realization of the purpose of
the framers and of the people in the adoption of the
Constitution. It may also be safely assumed that the
people in ratifying the constitution were guided mainly
by the explanation offered by the framers. 18
The deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission relevant
to Section 2, Article IV in relation to Section 1(3) of the same
Article, appear to negate the contention of petitioners that only
those born to Filipino mothers before 17 January 1973 and who
would elect Philippine citizenship after the effectivity of the 1987
Constitution, are to be considered natural-born Filipino citizens.
During the free-wheeling discussions on citizenship,
Commissioner Treas specifically asked Commissioner Bernas
regarding the provisions in question, thus:
MR. TRENAS: The Committee on Citizenship, Bill
of Rights, Political Rights and Obligations and
Human Rights has more or less decided to
extend the interpretation of who is a natural-
born Filipino citizen as provided in Section 4 of
the 1973 Constitution, by adding that persons
who have elected Philippine citizenship under
the 1935 Constitution shall be considered
natural-born. Am I right, Mr. Presiding Officer?
FR BERNAS: Yes.
MR. TRENAS: And does the Commissioner think
that tills addition to Section 4 of the 1973

285
Constitution would be contrary to the spirit of
that section?
FR BERNAS: Yes, we are quite aware that it is
contrary to the letter really. But whether it is
contrary to the spirit is something that has been
debated before and is being debated even now.
We will recall that during the 1971
Constitutional Convention, the status of natural-
born citizenship of one of the delegates, Mr.
Ang, was challenged precisely because he was a
citizen by election. Finally, the 1971
Constitutional Convention considered him a
natural-born citizen, one of the requirements to
be a Member of the 1971 Constitutional
Convention. The reason behind that decision
was that a person under his circumstances
already had the inchoate right to be a citizen by
the fact that the mother was a Filipino. And as a
matter of fact, the 1971 Constitutional
Convention formalized that recognition by
adopting paragraph 2 of Section 1 of the 1971
Constitution. So, the entire purpose of this
proviso is simply to perhaps remedy whatever
injustice there may be so that these people born
before January 17, 1973 who are not naturalized
and people who are not natural born but who
are in the same situation as we are considered
natural-born citizens. So, the intention of the
Committee in proposing this is to equalize their
status. 19
When asked to clarify the provision on natural-born citizens,
Commissioner Bernas replied to Commissioner Azcuna thus:

286
MR. AZCUNA: With respect to the proviso in
Section 4, would this refer only to those who
elect Philippine citizenship after the effectivity
of the 1973 Constitution or would it also cover
those who elected it under the 1935
Constitution?
FR BERNAS: It would apply to anybody who
elected Philippine citizenship by virtue of the
provision of the 1935 Constitution, whether the
election was done before or after 17 January
1973. 20
And during the period of amendments. Commissioner Rodrigo
explained the purpose of what now appear as Section 2 and
Section 1, paragraph (3) of Article IV of the 1987 Constitution,
thus:
MR. RODRIGO: The purpose of that proviso is to
remedy an inequitable situation. Between 1935
and 1973, when we were under the 1935
Constitution, those born of Filipino fathers but
alien mothers were natural-born Filipinos.
However, those born of Filipino mothers but
alien fathers would have to elect Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority;
and, if they do elect, they become Filipino
citizens, yet, but not natural-born Filipino
citizens.
The 1973 Constitution equalized the status of those born
of Filipino mothers and those born of Filipino fathers. So
that from January 17, 1973 when the 1973 Constitution
took effect, those born of Filipino mothers but of alien
fathers are natural-born Filipino citizens. Also, those who
are born of Filipino fathers and alien mothers are
natural-born Filipino citizens.
287
If the 1973 Constitution equalized the status of a child
born of a Filipino mother and that born of a Filipino
father, why do we not give a chance to a child born
before January 17, 1973, if and when he elects Philippine
citizenship, to be in the same status as one born of a
Filipino father namely, natural-born citizen.
Another thing I stated is equalizing the status of a father
and a mother vis-a-vis the child. I would like to state also
that we showed equalize the status of a child born of a
Filipino mother the day before January 17, 1973 and a
child born also of a Filipino mother on January 17 or 24
hours later. A child born of a Filipino mother but an alien
father one day before January 17, 1973 is a Filipino
citizen, if he elects Philippine citizenship, but he is not a
natural-born Filipino citizen. However, the other child
who luckily was born 24 hours later maybe because of
parto laborioso is a natural-born Filipino citizen. 21
It would appear then that the intent of the framers of the 1987
Constitution in defining a natural-born Filipino citizen was to
equalize the position of Filipino fathers and Filipino mothers as to
their children becoming natural-born Filipino citizens. In other
words, after 17 January 1973, effectivity date of the 1973
Constitution, all those born of Filipino fathers (with alien spouse)
or Filipino mothers (with alien spouse) are natural-born Filipino
citizens. But those born to Filipino mothers prior to 17 January
1973 must still elect Philippine citizenship upon their reaching the
age of majority, in order to be deemed natural-born Filipino
citizens. The election, which is related to the attainment of the
age of majority, may be made before or after 17 January 1973.
This interpretation appears to be in consonance with the
fundamental purpose of the Constitution which is to protect and
enhance the people's individual interests, 22 and to foster equality
among them.

288
Since private respondent was born on 19 June 1948 (or before 17
January 1973) to a Filipino mother (with an alien spouse) and
should have elected Philippine citizenship on 19 June 1969 (when
he attained the age of majority), or soon thereafter, in order to
have the status of a natural-born Filipino citizen under the 1987
Constitution, the vital question is: did private respondent really
elect Philippine citizenship? As earlier stated, I believe that private
respondent did not elect Philippine citizenship, contrary to the
ruling of the respondent tribunal.
The respondent tribunal, on this issue, ruled as follows:
Where a person born to a Filipino mother and an alien
father had exercised the right of suffrage when he came
of age, the same constitutes a positive act of election of
Philippine citizenship. (Florencio vs. Mallare) [sic] The
acts of the petitioner in registering as a voter,
participating in elections and campaigning for certain
candidates were held by the Supreme Court as sufficient
to show his preference for Philippine citizenship.
Accordingly, even without complying with the formal
requisites for election, the petitioner's Filipino citizenship
was judicially upheld. 23
I find the above ruling of the respondent tribunal to be patently
erroneous and clearly untenable, as to amount to grave abuse of
discretion. For it is settled doctrine in this jurisdiction that election
of Philippine citizenship must be made in accordance with
Commonwealth Act 625. Sections 1 and 2 24 of the Act mandate
that the option to elect Philippine citizenship must be effected
expressly not impliedly.
The respondent tribunal cites In re: Florencio Mallare 25 which
held that Esteban Mallare's exercise of the right of suffrage when
he came of age, constituted a positive act of election of Philippine
citizenship.

289
Mallare, cited by respondent tribunal as authority for the doctrine
of implied election of Philippine citizenship, is not applicable to
the case at bar. The respondent tribunal failed to consider that
Esteban Mallare reached the age of majority in 1924, or
seventeen (17) years before CA 625 was approved and, more
importantly, eleven (11) years before the 1935 Constitution
(which granted the right of election) took effect.
To quote Mr. Justice Fernandez in Mallare:
Indeed, it would be unfair to expect the presentation of a
formal deed to that effect considering that prior to the
enactment of Commonwealth Act 625 on June 7, 1941,
no particular proceeding was required to exercise the
option to elect Philippine citizenship, granted to the
proper party by Section 1, subsection 4, Article IV of the
1935 Philippine Constitution. 26
Moreover, Esteban Mallare was held to be a Filipino citizen
because he was an illegitimate (natural) child of a Filipino
mother and thus followed her citizenship. I therefore agree
with the petitioners' submission that,
inciting the Mallare case, the respondent tribunal had
engaged in an obiter dictum.
The respondent tribunal also erred in ruling that by operation of
CA 473, the Revised Naturalization Law, providing for private
respondent's acquisition of Filipino citizenship by reason of the
naturalization of his father, the law itself had already elected
Philippine citizenship for him. For, assuming arguendo that the
naturalization of private respondent's father was valid, and that
there was no further need for private respondent to elect
Philippine citizenship (as he had automatically become a Filipino
citizen) yet, this did not mean that the operation of the Revised
Naturalization Law amounted to an election by him of Philippine
citizenship as contemplated by the Constitution. Besides, election
of Philippine citizenship derived from one's Filipino mother, is
290
made upon reaching the age of majority, not during one's
minority.
There is no doubt in my mind, therefore, that private respondent
did not elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of
majority in 1969 or within a reasonable time thereafter as
required by CA 625. Consequently, he cannot be deemed a
natural-born Filipino citizen under Sections 2 and 1(3), Article IV
of the 1987 Constitution.
Based on all the foregoing considerations and premises, I am
constrained to state that private respondent is not a natural-born
citizen of the Philippines in contemplation of Section 6, Article VI
of the 1987 Constitution in relation to Sections 2 and 1(3), Article
IV thereof, and hence is disqualified or ineligible to be a Member
of the House of Representatives.
At this point, I find it no longer necessary to rule on the issue of
required residence, inasmuch as the Constitution requires that a
Member of the House of Representatives must be both a natural-
born Filipino citizen and a resident for at least one (1) year in the
district in which he shall be elected.
The next question that comes up is whether or not either of the
petitioners can replace private respondent as the Representative
of the second legislative district of Northern Samar in the House
of Representatives.
I agree with respondent tribunal that neither of the petitioners
may take the place of private respondent in the House of
Representatives representing the second district of Northern
Samar. The ruling of this Court in Ramon L. Labo, Jr. vs. The
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) EN BANC and Luis
L. Lardizabal, 27 is controlling. There we held that Luis L.
Lardizabal, who filed the quo warranto petition, could not replace
Ramon L. Labo, Jr. as mayor of Baguio City for the simple reason
that as he obtained only the second highest number of votes in
291
the election, he was obviously not the choice of the people of
Baguio City for mayor of that City.
A petition alleging that the candidate-elect is not qualified for the
office is, in effect, a quo warranto proceeding even if it is labelled
an election protest. 28 It is a proceeding to unseat the ineligible
person from office but not necessarily to install the protestant in
his place. 29
The general rule is that the fact that a plurality or a majority of the
votes are cast for an ineligible candidate in an election does not
entitle the candidate receiving the next highest number of votes
to be declared elected. In such a case, the electors have failed to
make a choice and the election is a nullity. 30
Sound policy dictates that public elective offices are filled
by those who have the highest number of votes cast in
the election for that office, and it is a fundamental idea
in all republican forms of government that no one can be
declared elected and no measure can be declared carried
unless he or it receives a majority or plurality of the legal
votes cast in the election. (20 Corpus Juris 2nd, S 243, p.
676).
As early as 1912, this Court has already declared that the
candidate who lost in an election cannot be proclaimed
the winner in the event that the candidate who won is
found ineligible for the office to which he was elected.
This was the ruling in Topacio v. Paredes (23 Phil. 238)
Again, the effect of a decision that a candidate is
not entitled to the office because of fraud or
irregularities in the election is quite different
from that produced by declaring a person
ineligible to hold such an office. . . . If it be found
that the successful candidate (according to the
board of canvassers) obtained a plurality in an
292
illegal manner, and that another candidate was
the real victor, the former must retire in favor of
the latter. In the other case, there is not, strictly
speaking, a contest, as the wreath of victory
cannot be transferred from an ineligible to any
other candidate when the sole question is the
eligibility of the one receiving a plurality of the
legally cast ballots. . . . 31
The recognition of Emil L. Ong by the 1971 Constitutional
Convention as a natural-born Filipino citizen, in relation to the
present case.
Private respondent, as previously stated, is a full brother of Emil L.
Ong, both of them having the same father and mother.
Private respondent, relying on a resolution of the 1971
Constitutional Convention 32 to the effect that Emil L. Ong was a
natural-born Filipino citizen, alleged before the House Electoral
Tribunal that, by analogy, he is himself a natural-born Filipino
citizen. This submission, while initially impressive, is, as will now
be shown, flawed and not supported by the evidence. Not even
the majority decision of the electoral tribunal adopted the same
as the basis of its decision in favor of private respondent. The
tribunal, in reference to this submission, said:
Be that as it may and in the light of the Tribunal's
disposition of protestee's citizenship based on an entirely
different set of circumstances, apart from the
indisputable fact that the matters attempted to be
brought in issue in connection therewith are too far
removed in point of time and relevance from the decisive
events relied upon by the Tribunal, we view these two
issues as being already inconsequential. 33
The electoral tribunal (majority) instead chose to predicate its
decision on the alleged citizenship by naturalization of private
293
respondent's father (Ong Chuan) and on the alleged election
of Philippine citizenship by private respondent.
Emil L. Ong, was elected delegate to the 1971 Constitutional
Convention. Electoral protests, numbers EP-07 and EP-08, were
filed by Leonardo D. Galing and Gualberto D. Luto against Emil L.
Ong, contesting his citizenship qualification. The Committee on
Election Protests Credentials of the 1971 Contitution Convention
heard the protests and submitted to the Convention a report
dated 4 September 1972, the dispositive portion of which stated:
It appearing that protestee's grandfather was himself a
Filipino citizen under the provisions of the Philippine Bill
of 1902 and the Treaty of Paris of December 10, 1898,
thus conferring upon protestee's own father, Ong Chuan,
Philippine citizenship at birth, the conclusion is
inescapable that protestee himself is a natural-born
citizen, and is therefore qualified to hold the office of
delegate to the Constitutional Convention. 34
On 28 November 1972, during a plenary session of the 1971
Constitutional Convention, the election protests filed against Emil
L. Ong were dismissed, following the report of the Committee on
Election Protests and Credentials.35
It is evident, up to this point, that the action of the 1971
Constitutional Convention in the case of Emil L. Ong is, to say the
least, inconclusive to the case at bar, because
a) the 1971 Constitutional Convention decision in the
Emil L. Ong case involved the 1935Constitution; the
present case, on the other hand involves the
1987 Constitution:
b) the 1935 Constitution contained no specific definition
of a "natural-born citizen" of the Philippines; the 1987
Constitution contains a precise and specific definition of

294
a "natural-born citizen" of the Philippines in Sec. 2, Art.
IV thereof and private respondent does not qualify under
such definition in the 1987 Constitution;
c) the decision of the 1971 Constitutional Convention in
the case of Emil L. Ong was a decision of apolitical body,
not a court of law. And, even if we have to take such a
decision as a decision of aquasi-judicial body (i.e., a
political body exercising quasi-judicial functions), said
decision in the Emil L. Ong case can not have the
category or character of res judicata in the present
judicial controversy, because between the two (2) cases,
there is no identity of parties (one involves Emil L. Ong,
while the other involves private respondent) and, more
importantly, there is no identity of causes of action
because the first involves the 1935 Constitution while the
second involves the 1987 Constitution.
But even laying aside the foregoing reasons based on procedural
rules and logic, the evidence submitted before the electoral
tribunal and, therefore, also before this Court, does not support
the allegations made by Emil L. Ong before the 1971
Constitutional Convention and inferentially adopted by private
respondent in the present controversy. This leads us to an
interesting inquiry and finding.
The 1971 Constitutional Convention in holding that Emil L. Ong
was a "natural-born citizen" of the Philippines under the 1935
Constitution laid stress on the "fact" and this appears crucial
and central to its decision that Emil L. Ong's grandfather, Ong
Te became a Filipino citizen under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and,
therefore, his descendants like Emil L. Ong (and therefore, also
private respondent) became natural-born Filipinos. The 1971
Constitutional Convention said:
Ong Te Emil Ong's grandfather, was a Spanish subject
residing in the Philippines on April 11, 1899 and was
295
therefore one of the many who became ipso
facto citizens of the Philippines under the provisions of
the Philippine Bill of 1902. Said law expressly declared
that all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands who
continued to reside therein and who were Spanish
subjects on April 11, 1899 as well as their children born
subsequent thereto, "shall be deemed and held to be
citizens of the Philippine Islands." (Section 4, Philippine
Bill of
1902). 36
The "test" then, following the premises of the 1971 Constitutional
Convention, is whether or not Ong Te private respondent's and
Emil L. Ong's grandfather was "an inhabitant of the Philippines
who continued to reside therein and was a Spanish subject on
April 11, 1899." If he met these requirements of the Philippine Bill
of 1902, then, Ong Te was a Filipino citizen; otherwise, he was not
a Filipino citizen.
Petitioners (protestants) submitted and offered in evidence
before the House Electoral Tribunal exhibits W, X, Y, Z ,AA, BB, CC,
DD and EE which are copies of entries in the "Registro de Chinos"
from years 1896 to 1897 which show that Ong Te was not listed as
an inhabitant of Samar where he is claimed to have been a
resident. Petitioners (protestants) also submitted and offered in
evidence before the House Electoral Tribunal exhibit V, a
certification of the Chief of the Archives Division, Records and
Management and Archives Office, stating that the name of Ong Te
does not appear in the "Registro Central de Chinos" for the
province of Samar for 1895. These exhibits prove or at least, as
petitioners validly argue, tend to prove that Ong Te was NOT a
resident of Samar close to 11 April 1899 and, therefore, could not
continue residing in Samar, Philippines after 11 April 1899,
contrary to private respondent's pretense. In the face of these
proofs or evidence, private respondent FAILED TO PRESENT ANY
REBUTTAL OR COUNTERVAILING EVIDENCE, except the decision of
296
the 1971 Constitutional Convention in the case of Emil L. Ong,
previously discussed.
It is not surprising then that, as previously noted, the majority
decision of the House Electoral Tribunal skirted any reliance on
the alleged ipso facto Filipino citizenship of Ong Te under the
Philippine Bill of 1902. It is equally not surprising that Ong Chuan,
the son of Ong Te and father or private respondent, did not even
attempt to claim Filipino citizenship by reason of Ong Te's alleged
Filipino citizenship under the Philippine Bill of 1902 but instead
applied for Philippine citizenship through naturalization.
Nor can it be contended by the private respondent that the House
Electoral Tribunal should no longer have reviewed the factual
question or issue of Ong Te's citizenship in the light of the
resolution of the 1971 Constitutional Convention finding him (Ong
Te to have become a Filipino citizen under the Philippine Bill of
1902. The tribunal had to look into the question because the
finding that Ong Te had become a Filipino citizen under the
Philippine Bill of 1902 was the central core of said 1971 resolution
but as held in Lee vs. Commissioners of
Immigration: 37
. . . Everytime the citizenship of a person is material or
indispensable in a judicial or administrative case,
whatever the corresponding Court or administrative
authority decides therein as to such citizenship is
generally not considered as res adjudicata, hence it has
to be threshed out again and again as the occasion may
demand.
Which finally brings us to the resolution of this Court in Emil
L. Ong vs. COMELEC, et al., G.R. No. 67201, 8 May 1984. In
connection with said resolution, it is contended by private
respondent that the resolution of the 1971 Constitutional
Convention in the Emil L. Ong case was elevated to this Court on a
question involving Emil L. Ong's disqualification to run for
297
membership in the Batasang Pambansa and that, according to
private respondent, this Court allowed the use of the Committee
Report to the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
To fully appreciate the implications of such contention, it would
help to look into the circumstances of the case brought before
this Court in relation to the Court's action or disposition. Emil L.
Ong and Edilberto Del Valle were both candidates for the
Batasang Pambansa in the 14 May 1984 election. Valle filed a
petition for disqualification with the Commission on Election on
29 March 1984 docketed as SPC No. 84-69 contending that Ong is
not a natural-born citizen. Ong filed a motion to dismiss the
petition on the ground that the judgment of the 1971
Constitutional Convention on his status as a natural-born citizen
of the Philippines bars the petitioner from raising the Identical
issue before the COMELEC. (G.R. No. 67201, Rollo, p. 94) The
motion was denied by the COMELEC, thus, prompting Emil L. Ong
to file with this Court a petition for certiorari, prohibition
and mandamuswith preliminary injunction against the COMELEC,
docketed as G.R. No. 67201.
In a resolution dated 8 May 1984, this Court resolved to issue a
writ of preliminary injunction enjoining respondent COMELEC
from holding any further hearing on the disqualification case
entitled "Edilberto Del Valle vs. Emil Ong(SPC No. 84-69) except to
dismiss the same. (G.R. Nos. 92202-03, Rollo, p. 335)
This Court, in explaining its action, held that:
Acting on the prayer of the petitioner for the issuance of
a Writ of Preliminary Injunction, and considering that at
the hearing this morning, it was brought out that the
1971 Constitutional Convention, at its session of
November 28, 1972, after considering the Report of its
Committee on Election Protests and Credentials, found
that the protest questioning the citizenship of the
protestee (the petitioner herein) was groundless and
298
dismissed Election Protests Nos. EP 07 and EP 08 filed
against said petitioner (p. 237, Rollo), the authenticity of
the Minutes of said session as well as of the said
Committee's Report having been duly admitted in
evidence without objection and bears out, for now,
without need for a full hearing, that petitioner is a
natural-born citizen, the Court Resolved to ISSUE,
effective immediately, a Writ of Preliminary Injunction
enjoining respondent COMELEC from holding any further
hearing on the disqualification case entitled Edilberto Del
Valle vs. Emil Ong (SPC No. 84-69) scheduled at 3:00
o'clock this afternoon, or any other day, except to
dismiss the same.This is without prejudice to any
appropriate action that private respondent may wish to
take after the elections. (emphasis supplied)
It is thus clear that the resolution of this Court in G.R. No. 67201
was rendered without the benefit of a hearing on the merits
either by the Court or by the COMELEC and merely on the basis of
a Committee's Report to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, and
that this Court (and this is quite significant) did not foreclose any
appropriate action that Del Valle (therein petitioner) may wish to
take after the elections.
It is thus abundantly clear also that to this Court, the resolution of
the 1971 Constitutional Convention recognizing Emil L. Ong as a
natural-born citizen under the 1935 Constitution did not foreclose
a future or further proceeding in regard to the same question and
that, consequently, there is no vested right of Emil L. Ong to such
recognition. How much more when the Constitution involved is
not the 1935 Constitution but the 1987 Constitution whose
provisions were never considered in all such proceedings because
the 1987 Constitution was still inexistent.
A final word. It is regrettable that one (as private respondent)
who unquestionably obtained the highest number of votes for the
299
elective position of Representative (Congressman) to the House of
Representatives for the second district of Northern Samar, would
have had to cease in office by virtue of this Court's decision, if the
full membership of the Court had participated in this case, with
the result that the legislative district would cease to have, in the
interim, a representative in the House of Representatives. But the
fundamental consideration in cases of this nature is the
Constitution and only the Constitution. It has to be assumed,
therefore, that when the electorate in the second legislative
district of Northern Samar cast the majority of their votes for
private respondent, they assumed and believed that he was fully
eligible and qualified for the office because he is a natural-born
Filipino citizen. That erroneous assumption and belief can not
prevail over, but must yield to the majesty of the Constitution.
This is a sad day for the Constitution. As I see it, the Constitution
mandates that members of the House of Representatives should
be "natural-born citizens of the Philippines". The voting majority
of the present Court says, "Filipino citizens will do." This is bad
enough. What is worse is, the same voting majority, in effect,
says, "even aliens will do as well."
WHEREFORE, my vote is clear: to declare private respondent Jose
L. Ong Chua, Jr., as he clearly is, NOT a natural-born citizen of the
Philippines and therefore NOT QUALIFIED to be a Member of the
House of Representatives, Congress of the Philippines.
Narvasa, J., Paras, J. and Regalado, J., dissenting.
SARMIENTO, J., concurring:
I concur with the majority.
(1)
I wish to point out first that the question of citizenship is a
question of fact, and as a rule, the Supreme Court leaves facts to
the tribunal that determined them. I am quite agreed that the
300
Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives, as the "sole
judge" of all contests relating to the membership in the House, as
follows:
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. 1
is the best judge of facts and this Court can not substitute its
judgment because it thinks it knows better.
In the case of Aratuc v. Commission on Elections, 2 it was held that
this Court can not review the errors of the Commission on
Elections (then the "sole judge" of all election contests) in the
sense of reviewing facts and unearthing mistakes and that this
Court's jurisdiction is to see simply whether or not it is guilty of a
grave abuse of discretion. It is true that the new Constitution has
conferred expanded powers on the Court, 3 but as the Charter
states, our authority is "to determine whether or not there has
been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
Government." 4 It is not to review facts.
"Grave abuse of discretion" has been defined as whimsical
exercise of power amounting to excess of jurisdiction, or
otherwise, to denial of due process of law. 5
301
I find none of that here.
As the majority indicates, Jose Ong's citizenship is a matter of
opinion with which men may differ, but certainly, it is quite
another thing to say that the respondent Tribunal has gravely
abused its discretion because the majority has begged to differ. It
does not form part of the duty of the Court to remedy all
imagined wrongs committed by the Government.
The respondent Tribunal has spoken. According to the Tribunal,
Jose Ong is a Filipino citizen and consequently, is possessed of the
qualifications to be a member of the House. As the sole judge,
precisely, of this question, the Court can not be more popish than
the pope.
(2)
I can not say, in the second place, that the Decision in question
stands exactly on indefensible grounds. It is to be noted that Jose
Ong had relied on the Report dated September 4, 1972 of the
1971 Constitutional Convention Committee 6 on Election Protests
and Credentials, in which the Committees upheld the citizenship,
and sustained the qualification to sit as Delegate, of Emil Ong,
Jose Ong's full blood brother. According to the Report, Ong Te the
Ongs' grandfather, was already a Filipino citizen having complied
with the requirements on Filipinization by existing laws for which
his successors need not have elected Filipino citizenship. I quote:
xxx xxx xxx
There is merit in protestee's claim. There can hardly be
any doubt that Ong Te protestees's grandfather, was a
Spanish subject residing in the Philippines on April 11,
1899, and was therefore one of the many who
became ipso facto citizens of the Philippines under the
provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902. Said law
expressly declared that all inhabitants of the Philippine

302
Islands who continued to reside therein and who were
Spanish subjects on April 11, 1899, as well as their
children born subsequent thereto, "shall be deemed and
held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands" (Sec. 4,
Philippine Bill of 1902). Excepted from the operation of
this rule were Spanish subjects who shall have elected to
preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in
accordance with the Treaty of Paris of December 10,
1898. But under the Treaty of Paris, only Spanish subjects
who were natives of Peninsular Spain had the privilege of
preserving their Spanish nationality. 7
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
As earlier noted, protestee's grandfather established
residence in the Philippines in 1895, as shown by
the Registro Central de Chinos. He was also issued a
certificate of registration. He established a business here,
and later acquired real property. Although he went back
to China for brief visits, he invariably came back. He even
brought his eldest son, Ong Chuan, to live in the
Philippines when the latter was only 10 years old. And
Ong Chuan was admitted into the country because, as
duly noted on his landing certificate, his father, Ong Te
had been duly enrolled under CR 16009-36755 i.e., as
a permanent resident. Indeed, even when Ong Te went
back to China in the 1920's for another visit, he left his
son, Ong Chuan, who was then still a minor, in the
Philippines obviously because he had long considered
the Philippines his home. The domicile he established in
1895 is presumed to have continued up to, and beyond,
April 11, 1899, for, as already adverted to, a domicile
once acquired is not lost until a new one is gained. The
only conclusion then can thus be drawn is that Ong Te
303
was duly domiciled in the Philippines as of April 11, 1899,
within the meaning of par. 4, Art. 17, of the Civil Code of
1889 and was, consequently, a Spanish subject, he
qualified as a Filipino citizen under the provisions of
Section 4 of the Philippine Bill of 1902. 8
It is true that Ong Chuan, the Ong brothers' father, subsequently
sought naturalization in the belief that he was, all along, a Chinese
citizen, but as the Report held:
Protestants, however, make capital of the fact that both
Ong Te and his son, Ong Chuan (protestee's father),
appear to have been registered as Chinese citizens even
long after the turn of the century. Worse, Ong Chuan
himself believed the was alien, to the extent of having to
seek admission as a Pilipino citizen through
naturalization proceedings. The point, to our mind, is
neither crucial nor substantial. Ong's status as a citizen is
a matter of law, rather than of personal belief. It is what
the law provides, and not what one thinks his status to
be, which determines whether one is a citizen of a
particular state or not. Mere mistake or misapprehension
as to one's citizenship, it has been held, is not a sufficient
cause or reason for forfeiture of Philippine citizenship; it
does not even constitute estoppel (Palanca vs. Republic,
80 Phil. 578, 584). Too, estoppel applies only to questions
of fact and not of law (Tanada v. Cuenco, L-10520, Feb.
28, 1957). 9
It is to be noted that the Report was unanimously approved by
the Committee, and on November 28, 1972, approved without
any objection by the Convention in plenary session. 10
I am not, of course, to be mistaken as acting as mouthpiece of
Emil Ong, but in all candor, I speak from experience, because
when the Convention approved the Report in question, I was one
of its vice-presidents and the presiding officer.
304
It is to be noted finally, that the matter was elevated to this Court
(on a question involving Emil Ong's qualification to sit as member
of the defunct Batasang Pambansa) 11 in which this Court allowed
the use of the Committee Report.
Faced with such positive acts of the Government, I submit that
the question of the Ong's citizenship is a settled matter. Let it rest.
It is true that Electoral Protest Nos. EP-07 and EP-08 of the
Convention as well as G.R. No. 67201 of this Court, involved Emil
Ong and not his brother; I submit, however, that what is sauce for
the goose is sauce for the gander.
I also submit that the fundamental question is whether or not we
will overturn the unanimous ruling of 267 delegates, indeed, also
of this Court.

305
TABASA VS COURT OF APPEALS
JOEVANIE ARELLANO TABASA, G.R. No. 125793
Petitioner,
Present:
- versus - QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, VELASCO, JR., JJ.
BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION
and DEPORTATION and Promulgated:
WILSON SOLUREN,
Respondents. August 29, 2006

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

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

Citizenship is a priceless possession. Former U.S. Chief Justice


Earl Warren fittingly emphasized its crowning value when he
wrote that it is mans basic right for it is nothing less than to have
rights.[1] When a person loses citizenship, therefore, the State
sees to it that its reacquisition may only be granted if the former
citizen fully satisfies all conditions and complies with the
applicable law. Without doubt, repatriation is not to be granted
simply based on the vagaries of the former Filipino citizen.

306
The Case

The instant petition for review[2] under Rule 45 of the 1997


Rules of Civil Procedure contests the denial by the Court of
Appeals (CA) of the Petition for Habeas Corpusinterposed by
petitioner Joevanie Arellano Tabasa from the Order of Summary
Deportation issued by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation
(BID) for his return to theUnited States.

The Facts

The facts as culled by the CA from the records show that


petitioner Joevanie Arellano Tabasa was a natural-born citizen of
the Philippines. In 1968,[3] when petitioner was seven years
old,[4] his father, Rodolfo Tabasa, became a naturalized citizen[5] of
the United States. By derivative naturalization (citizenship derived
from that of another as from a person who holds citizenship by
virtue of naturalization[6]), petitioner also acquired American
citizenship.

Petitioner arrived in the Philippines on August 3, 1995, and


was admitted as a balikbayan for one year. Thereafter, petitioner
was arrested and detained by agent Wilson Soluren of the BID
on May 23, 1996, pursuant to BID Mission Order No. LIV-96-72 in
Baybay, Malay, Aklan; subsequently, he was brought to
the BID Detention Center inManila.[7]

Petitioner was investigated by Special Prosecutor Atty. Edy D.


Donato at the Law and Investigation Division of the BID on May
28, 1996; and on the same day, Tabasa was accused of violating
Section 8, Chapter 3, Title 1, Book 3 of the 1987 Administrative
Code, in a charge sheet which alleged:

307
1. That on 3 August 1995, respondent (petitioner
herein [Tabasa]) arrived in the Philippines and was
admitted as a balikbayan;

2. That in a letter dated 16 April 1996, Honorable


Kevin Herbert, Consul General of [the] U.S. Embassy,
informed the Bureau that respondents Passport No.
053854189 issued on June 10, 1994 in San Francisco,
California, U.S.A., had been revoked by the U.S.
Department of State;

3. Hence, respondent [petitioner Tabasa] is now an


undocumented and undesirable alien and may be
summarily deported pursuant to Law and Intelligence
Instructions No. 53 issued by then Commissioner
Miriam Defensor Santiago to effect his deportation
(Exhibit 3).[8]

The pertinent portion of the Herbert letter is as follows:


The U.S. Department of State has
revoked U.S. passport 053854189 issued on June 10,
1994 in San Francisco, California under the name of
Joevanie Arellano Tabasa, born on February 21,
1959 in the Philippines. Mr. Tabasas passport has
been revoked because he is the subject of an
outstanding federal warrant of arrest issued
on January 25, 1996 by the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of California, for violation of Section
1073, Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution, of Title 18
of the United States Code. He is charged with one
count of a felon in possession of a firearm, in
violation of California Penal Code, Section
12021(A)(1), and one count of sexual battery, in
violation of California Penal Code, Section 243.4 (D).[9]

308
The BID ordered petitioners deportation to his country of
origin, the United States, on May 29, 1996, in the following
summary deportation order:
Records show that on 16 April 1996, Mr. Kevin F.
Herbert, Consul General of the U.S. Embassy in
Manila, filed a request with the Bureau to apprehend
and deport the abovenamed [sic] respondent
[petitioner Tabasa] on the ground that a standing
warrant for several federal charges has been issued
against him, and that the respondents Passport No.
053854189 has been revoked.

By reason thereof, and on the strength of Mission


Order No. LIV-96-72, Intelligence operatives
apprehended the respondent in Aklan on 23 May
1996.

In Schonemann vs. Commissioner Santiago, et al.,


(G.R. No. 81461 [sic, 81461 should be 86461], 30 May
1989), the Supreme Court ruled that if a foreign
embassy cancels the passport of an alien, or does not
reissue a valid passport to him, the alien loses the
privilege to remain in the country. Further, under
Office Memorandum Order No. 34 issued on 21
August 1989, summary deportation proceedings lie
where the passport of the alien has expired.

It is, thus, apparent that respondent has lost his


privilege to remain in the country.[10]

Petitioner filed before the CA a Petition for Habeas


Corpus with Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining
309
Order[11] on May 29, 1996, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.
40771. Tabasa alleged that he was not afforded due process; that
no warrant of arrest for deportation may be issued by
immigration authorities before a final order of deportation is
made; that no notice of the cancellation of his passport was made
by the U.S. Embassy; that he is entitled to admission or to a
change of his immigration status as a non-quota immigrant
because he is married to a Filipino citizen as provided in Section
13, paragraph (a) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940; and
that he was a natural-born citizen of the Philippines prior to his
derivative naturalization when he was seven years old due to the
naturalization of his father, Rodolfo Tabasa, in 1968.

At the time Tabasa filed said petition, he was already 35 years


old.[12]
On May 30, 1996, the CA ordered the respondent Bureau to
produce the person of the petitioner on June 3, 1996 and show
the cause of petitioners detention, and restrained the Bureau
from summarily deporting him. On June 3, 1996, the BID
presented Tabasa before the CA; and on June 6, 1996, the CA
granted both parties ten (10) days within which to file their
memoranda, after which the case would be considered submitted
for decision.[13] Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Immigration
granted the petitioners temporary release on bail on a PhP
20,000.00 cash bond.[14]

However, on June 13, 1996, petitioner filed a Supplemental


Petition alleging that he had acquired Filipino citizenship by
repatriation in accordance with Republic Act No. 8171 (RA 8171),
and that because he is now a Filipino citizen, he cannot be
deported or detained by the respondent Bureau.[15]

The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

310
The CA, in its August 7, 1996 Decision,[16] denied Tabasas
petition on the ground that he had not legally and successfully
acquiredby repatriationhis Filipino citizenship as provided in RA
8171. The court said that although he became an American citizen
by derivative naturalization when his father was naturalized in
1968, there is no evidence to show that he lost his Philippine
citizenship on account of political or economic necessity, as
explicitly provided in Section 1, RA 8171the law governing the
repatriation of natural-born Filipinos who have lost their
citizenship. The affidavit does not state that political or economic
necessity was the compelling reason for petitioners parents to
give up their Filipino citizenship in 1968. Moreover, the court a
quo found that petitioner Tabasa did not dispute the truth of
the April 16, 1996 letter of the United States Consul General Kevin
F. Herbert or the various warrants issued for his arrest by
the United States court. The court a quo noted that after
petitioner was ordered deported by the BID on May 29, 1996, he
successively executed an Affidavit of Repatriation on June 6,
1996 and took an oath of allegiance to the Republic of
the Philippines on June 13, 1996more than ten months after his
arrival in the country on August 3, 1995. The appellate court
considered petitioners repatriation as a last ditch effort to avoid
deportation and prosecution in theUnited States. The appellate
court concluded that his only reason to want to reacquire Filipino
citizenship is to avoid criminal prosecution in the United States of
America. The court a quo, therefore, ruled against Tabasa, whose
petition is now before us.

The Issue

The only issue to be resolved is whether petitioner has validly


reacquired Philippine citizenship under RA 8171. If there is no
valid repatriation, then he can be summarily deported for his
being an undocumented alien.
The Courts Ruling
311
The Court finds no merit in this petition.

RA 8171, An Act Providing for the Repatriation of Filipino


Women Who Have Lost Their Philippine Citizenship by Marriage
to Aliens and of Natural-Born Filipinos, was enacted on October
23, 1995. It provides for the repatriation of only two (2) classes of
persons, viz:

Filipino women who have lost their Philippine


citizenship by marriage to aliens and natural-born
Filipinos who have lost their Philippine citizenship,
including their minor children, on account of political
or economic necessity, may reacquire Philippine
citizenship through repatriation in the manner
provided in Section 4 of Commonwealth Act No. 63,
as amended: Provided, That the applicant is not a:

(1) Person opposed to organized government or


affiliated with any association or group of persons
who uphold and teach doctrines opposing organized
government;

(2) Person defending or teaching the necessity or


propriety of violence, personal assault, or association
for the predominance of their ideas;

(3) Person convicted of crimes involving


moral turpitude; or

(4) Person suffering from mental alienation or


incurable contagious diseases.[17] (Emphasis
supplied.)

312
Does petitioner Tabasa qualify as a natural-born Filipino who had
lost his Philippine citizenship by reason of political or economic
necessity under RA 8171?

He does not.

Persons qualified for repatriation under RA 8171

To reiterate, the only persons entitled to repatriation under


RA 8171 are the following:

a. Filipino women who lost their Philippine citizenship


by marriage to aliens; and

b. Natural-born Filipinos including their minor children


who lost their Philippine citizenship on account of political
or economic necessity.

Petitioner theorizes that he could be repatriated under RA


8171 because he is a child of a natural-born Filipino, and that he
lost his Philippine citizenship by derivative naturalization when he
was still a minor.

Petitioner overlooks the fact that the privilege of repatriation


under RA 8171 is available only to natural-born Filipinos who lost
their citizenship on account of political or economic necessity, and
to the minor children of said natural-born Filipinos. This means
that if a parent who had renounced his Philippine citizenship due
to political or economic reasons later decides to repatriate under
RA 8171, his repatriation will also benefit his minor children
according to the law. This includes a situation where a former
Filipino subsequently had children while he was a naturalized
citizen of a foreign country. The repatriation of the former Filipino
will allow him to recover his natural-born citizenship and
automatically vest Philippine citizenship on his children of jus
313
sanguinis or blood relationship:[18] the children acquire the
citizenship of their parent(s) who are natural-born Filipinos. To
claim the benefit of RA 8171, however, the children must be of
minor age at the time the petition for repatriation is filed by the
parent. This is so because a child does not have the legal capacity
for all acts of civil life much less the capacity to undertake a
political act like the election of citizenship. On their own, the
minor children cannot apply for repatriation or naturalization
separately from their parents.
In the case at bar, there is no dispute that petitioner was a
Filipino at birth. In 1968, while he was still a minor, his father was
naturalized as an American citizen; and by derivative
naturalization, petitioner acquired U.S. citizenship. Petitioner now
wants us to believe that he is entitled to automatic repatriation as
a child of natural-born Filipinos who left the country due to
political or economic necessity. This is absurd. Petitioner was no
longer a minor at the time of his repatriation on June 13,
1996. The privilege under RA 8171 belongs to children who are of
minor age at the time of the filing of the petition for
repatriation.

Neither can petitioner be a natural-born Filipino who left the


country due to political or economic necessity. Clearly, he lost his
Philippine citizenship by operation of law and not due to political
or economic exigencies. It was his father who could have been
motivated by economic or political reasons in deciding to apply
for naturalization. The decision was his parents and not his. The
privilege of repatriation under RA 8171 is extended directly to the
natural-born Filipinos who could prove that they acquired
citizenship of a foreign country due to political and economic
reasons, and extended indirectly to the minor children at the time
of repatriation.

In sum, petitioner is not qualified to avail himself of repatriation


under RA 8171. However, he can possibly reacquire Philippine
314
citizenship by availing of the Citizenship Retention and Re-
acquisition Act of 2003 (Republic Act No. 9225) by simply taking
an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.

Where to file a petition for repatriation pursuant to RA 8171

Even if we concede that petitioner Tabasa can avail of the


benefit of RA 8171, still he failed to follow the procedure for
reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. He has to file his petition
for repatriation with the Special Committee on Naturalization
(SCN), which was designated to process petitions for repatriation
pursuant to Administrative Order No. 285 (A.O. No. 285)
dated August 22, 1996, to wit:

SECTION 1. Composition.The composition of the


Special Committee on Naturalization, with the
Solicitor General as Chairman, the Undersecretary of
Foreign Affairs and the Director-General of the
National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, as
members, shall remain as constituted.

SEC. 2. Procedure.Any person desirous of


repatriating or reacquiring Filipino citizenship
pursuant to R.A. No. 8171 shall file a petition with
the Special Committee on Naturalization which shall
process the same. If their applications are
approved[,] they shall take the necessary oath of
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, after
which they shall be deemed to have reacquired
Philippine citizenship. The Commission on
Immigration and Deportation shall thereupon cancel
their certificate of registration (emphasis supplied).

SEC. 3. Implementing Rules.The Special Committee


is hereby authorized to promulgate rules and
315
regulations and prescribe the appropriate forms and
the required fees for the processing of petitions.

SEC. 4. Effectivity.This Administrative Order shall


take effect immediately.

In the Amended Rules and Regulations Implementing RA 8171


issued by the SCN on August 5, 1999, applicants for repatriation
are required to submit documents in support of their petition
such as their birth certificate and other evidence proving their
claim to Filipino citizenship.[19] These requirements were imposed
to enable the SCN to verify the qualifications of the applicant
particularly in light of the reasons for the renunciation of
Philippine citizenship.
What petitioner simply did was that he took his oath of
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; then, executed an
affidavit of repatriation, which he registered, together with the
certificate of live birth, with the Office of the Local Civil Registrar
of Manila. The said office subsequently issued him a certificate of
such registration.[20] At that time, the SCN was already in place
and operational by virtue of the June 8, 1995 Memorandum
issued by President Fidel V. Ramos.[21] Although A.O. No. 285
designating the SCN to process petitions filed pursuant to RA 8171
was issued only on August 22, 1996, it is merely a confirmatory
issuance according to the Court in Angat v. Republic.[22]Thus,
petitioner should have instead filed a petition for repatriation
before the SCN.

Requirements for repatriation under RA 8171

Even if petitionernow of legal agecan still apply for


repatriation under RA 8171, he nevertheless failed to prove that
his parents relinquished their Philippine citizenship on account of
political or economic necessity as provided for in the
law. Nowhere in his affidavit of repatriation did he mention that
316
his parents lost their Philippine citizenship on account of political
or economic reasons. It is notable that under the Amended Rules
and Regulations Implementing RA 8171, the SCN requires a
petitioner for repatriation to set forth, among others, the
reason/s why petitioner lost his/her Filipino citizenship, whether
by marriage in case of Filipino woman, or whether by political or
economic necessity in case of [a] natural-born Filipino citizen who
lost his/her Filipino citizenship. In case of the latter, such political
or economic necessity should be specified.[23]

Petitioner Tabasa asserts, however, that the CA erred in


ruling that the applicant for repatriation must prove that he lost
his Philippine citizenship on account of political or economic
necessity. He theorizes that the reference to political or economic
reasons is merely descriptive, not restrictive, of the widely
accepted reasons for naturalization in [a] foreign country.[24]
Petitioners argument has no leg to stand on.

A reading of Section 1 of RA 8171 shows the manifest intent


of the legislature to limit the benefit of repatriation only to
natural-born Filipinos who lost their Philippine citizenship on
account of political or economic necessity, in addition to Filipino
women who lost their Philippine citizenship by marriage to
aliens. The precursor of RA 8171, Presidential Decree No. 725
(P.D. 725),[25] which was enacted on June 5, 1975 amending
Commonwealth Act No. 63, also gives to the same groups of
former Filipinos the opportunity to repatriate but without the
limiting phrase, on account of political or economic necessity in
relation to natural-born Filipinos. By adding the said phrase to RA
8171, the lawmakers clearly intended to limit the application of
the law only to political or economic migrants, aside from the
Filipino women who lost their citizenship by marriage to
aliens. This intention is more evident in the following sponsorship
speech of Rep. Andrea B. Domingo on House Bill No. 1248, the
origin of RA 8171, to wit:
317
Ms. Domingo: x x x

From my experience as the Commissioner of the


Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, I observed
that there are only four types of Filipinos who leave
the country.

The first is what we call the economic


refugees who go abroad to work because there is no
work to be found in the country. Then we have the
political refugees who leave the country for fear of
their lives because they are not in consonance with
the prevailing policy of government. The third type is
those who have committed crimes and would like to
escape from the punishment of said crimes. Lastly,
we have those Filipinos who feel that they are not
Filipinos, thereby seeking other citizenship
elsewhere.

Of these four types of Filipinos, Mr. Speaker, the


first two have to leave the country not of choice, but
rather out of sacrifice to look for a better life, as well
as for a safer abode for themselves and their
families. It is for these two types of Filipinos that this
measure is being proposed for approval by this
body. (Emphasis supplied.)

xxxx

x x x [I]f the body would recall, I mentioned in my


short sponsorship speech the four types of Filipinos
who leave their country. And the two typesthe
economic and political refugeesare the ones being
318
addressed by this proposed law, and they are not
really Filipino women who lost their citizenship
through marriage. We had a lot of problems with
these people who left the country because of political
persecution or because of pressing economic
reasons, and after feeling that they should come back
to the country and get back their citizenship and
participate as they should in the affairs of the
country, they find that it is extremely difficult to get
their citizenship back because they are treated no
different from any other class of alien.[26]

From these two sources, namely, P.D. 725 and the


sponsorship speech on House Bill No. 1248, it is incontrovertible
that the intent of our legislators in crafting Section 1 of RA 8171,
as it is precisely worded out, is to exclude those Filipinos who
have abandoned their country for reasons other than political or
economic necessity.

Petitioner contends it is not necessary to prove his political or


economic reasons since the act of renouncing allegiance to ones
native country constitutes a necessary and unavoidable shifting of
his political allegiance, and his fathers loss of Philippine citizenship
through naturalization cannot therefore be said to be for any
reason other than political or economic necessity.[27]

This argument has no merit.

While it is true that renunciation of allegiance to ones native


country is necessarily a political act, it does not follow that the act
is inevitably politically or economically motivated as alleged by
petitioner. To reiterate, there are other reasons why Filipinos
relinquish their Philippine citizenship. The sponsorship speech of
former Congresswoman Andrea B. Domingo illustrates that aside
319
from economic and political refugees, there are Filipinos who
leave the country because they have committed crimes and would
like to escape from punishment, and those who really feel that
they are not Filipinos and that they deserve a better nationality,
and therefore seek citizenship elsewhere.

Thus, assuming petitioner Tabasa is qualified under RA 8171,


it is incumbent upon him to prove to the satisfaction of the SCN
that the reason for his loss of citizenship was the decision of his
parents to forfeit their Philippine citizenship for political or
economic exigencies. He failed to undertake this crucial step, and
thus, the sought relief is unsuccessful.

Repatriation is not a matter of right, but it is a privilege


granted by the State. This is mandated by the 1987 Constitution
under Section 3, Article IV, which provides that citizenship may be
lost or reacquired in the manner provided by law. The State has
the power to prescribe by law the qualifications, procedure, and
requirements for repatriation. It has the power to determine if an
applicant for repatriation meets the requirements of the law for it
is an inherent power of the State to choose who will be its
citizens, and who can reacquire citizenship once it is lost. If the
applicant, like petitioner Tabasa, fails to comply with said
requirements, the State is justified in rejecting the petition for
repatriation.

Petitioner: an undocumented alien subject to summary


deportation

Petitioner claims that because of his repatriation, he has


reacquired his Philippine citizenship; therefore, he is not an
undocumented alien subject to deportation.

This theory is incorrect.

320
As previously explained, petitioner is not entitled to
repatriation under RA 8171 for he has not shown that his case
falls within the coverage of the law.

Office Memorandum No. 34 dated August 21, 1989 of the BID


is enlightening on summary deportation:
2. The Board of Special Inquiry and the Hearing
Board IV shall observe summary deportation
proceedings in cases where the charge against the
alien is overstaying, or the expiration or cancellation
by his government of his passport. In cases involving
overstaying aliens, BSI and the Hearing Board IV shall
merely require the presentation of the aliens valid
passport and shall decide the case on the basis
thereof.

3. If a foreign embassy cancels the passport of the


alien, or does not reissue a valid passport to him, the
alien loses the privilege to remain in the country,
under the Immigration Act, Sections 10 and 15
(Schonemann v. Santiago, et al., G.R. No. 81461 [sic,
should be 86461], 30 May 1989). The automatic loss
of the privilege obviates deportation proceedings. In
such instance, the Board of Commissioners may issue
summary judgment of deportation which shall be
immediately executory.[28]

In addition, in the case of Schonemann v. Defensor Santiago,


et al., this Court held:

It is elementary that if an alien wants to stay in


the Philippines, he must possess the necessary
documents. One of these documents is a valid
passport. There are, of course, exceptions where in
the exercise of its sovereign prerogatives
321
the Philippines may grant refugee status, refuse to
extradite an alien, or otherwise allow him or her to
stay here even if he [the alien] has no valid passport
or Philippine visa. Boat people seeking residence
elsewhere are examples. However, the grant of the
privilege of staying in the Philippines is discretionary
on the part of the proper authorities. There is no
showing of any grave abuse of discretion,
arbitrariness, or whimsicality in the questioned
summary judgment. x x x [29]

Petitioner Tabasa, whose passport was cancelled after his


admission into the country, became an undocumented alien who
can be summarily deported. His subsequent repatriation cannot
bar such deportation especially considering that he has no legal
and valid reacquisition of Philippine citizenship.
WHEREFORE, this petition for review is DISMISSED, and
the August 7, 1996 Decision of the Court of
Appeals is AFFIRMED. No costs to the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson

322
ANTONIO T. CARPIO CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice Associate Justice

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been


reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the
writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the


Division Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in
the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts
Division.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice
323
BALGAMELO CABILING ET. AL VS COMMISIONER

FIRST DIVISION

BALGAMELO CABILING G.R. No. 183133


MA, FELIX CABILING
MA, JR., andVALERIANO
CABILING MA,
Petitioners,

Present:

CORONA,C.J.,
Chairperson,
-versus- VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,*
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
and
PEREZ, JJ.

COMMISSIONER ALIPIO
F. FERNANDEZ, JR.,
ASSOCIATE
COMMISSIONER
ARTHEL B.
CARONOGAN,
ASSOCIATE
COMMISSIONER JOSE
DL. CABOCHAN,
ASSOCIATE
COMMISSIONER
TEODORO B.
DELARMENTE AND
ASSOCIATE Promulgated:
COMMISSIONER
324
FRANKLIN Z. LITTAUA, July 26, 2010
in their capacities as
Chairman and Members
of the Board of
Commissioners (Bureau
of Immigration), and
MAT G. CATRAL,
Respondents.

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

DECISION

PEREZ, J.:

Should children born under the 1935 Constitution of a Filipino


mother and an alien father, who executed an affidavit of election
of Philippine citizenship and took their oath of allegiance to the
government upon reaching the age of majority, but who failed to
immediately file the documents of election with the nearest civil
registry, be considered foreign nationals subject to deportation as
undocumented aliens for failure to obtain alien certificates of
registration?

Positioned upon the facts of this case, the question is


translated into the inquiry whether or not the omission negates
their rights to Filipino citizenship as children of a Filipino mother,
and erase the years lived and spent as Filipinos.

The resolution of these questions would significantly mark a


difference in the lives of herein petitioners.
325
The Facts

Balgamelo Cabiling Ma (Balgamelo), Felix Cabiling Ma, Jr.


(Felix, Jr.), Valeriano Cabiling Ma (Valeriano), Lechi Ann Ma (Lechi
Ann), Arceli Ma (Arceli), Nicolas Ma (Nicolas), and Isidro Ma
(Isidro) are the children of Felix (Yao Kong) Ma,[1] a Taiwanese,
and Dolores Sillona Cabiling, a Filipina.[2]
Records reveal that petitioners Felix, Jr., Balgamelo and
Valeriano were all born under aegis of the 1935 Philippine
Constitution in the years 1948, 1951, and 1957, respectively.[3]

They were all raised in the Philippines and have resided in this
country for almost sixty (60) years; they spent their whole lives,
studied and received their primary and secondary education in
the country; they do not speak nor understand the Chinese
language, have not set foot in Taiwan, and do not know any
relative of their father; they have not even traveled abroad; and
they have already raised their respective families in the
Philippines.[4]

During their age of minority, they secured from the Bureau of


Immigration their Alien Certificates of Registration (ACRs). [5]

Immediately upon reaching the age of twenty-one, they


claimed Philippine citizenship in accordance with Section 1(4),
Article IV, of the 1935 Constitution, which provides that (t)hose
whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and, upon reaching
the age of majority, elect Philippine citizenship are citizens of the
Philippines. Thus, on 15 August 1969, Felix, Jr. executed his
affidavit of election of Philippine citizenship and took his oath of
allegiance before then Judge Jose L. Gonzalez, Municipal Judge,
Surigao, Surigao del Norte.[6] On 14 January 1972, Balgamelo did
the same before Atty. Patrocinio C. Filoteo, Notary
Public, Surigao City, Surigao del Norte.[7] In 1978, Valeriano took
326
his oath of allegiance before then Judge Salvador C.
Sering, City Court of Surigao City, the fact of which the latter
attested to in his Affidavit of 7 March 2005.[8]
Having taken their oath of allegiance as Philippine citizens,
petitioners, however, failed to have the necessary documents
registered in the civil registry as required under Section 1 of
Commonwealth Act No. 625 (An Act Providing the Manner in
which the Option to Elect Philippine Citizenship shall be Declared
by a Person whose Mother is a Filipino Citizen). It was only on 27
July 2005 or more than thirty (30) years after they elected
Philippine citizenship that Balgamelo and Felix, Jr. did so.[9] On the
other hand, there is no showing that Valeriano complied with the
registration requirement.

Individual certifications[10] all dated 3 January 2005 issued by


the Office of the City Election Officer, Commission on
Elections, Surigao City, show that all of them are registered voters
of Barangay Washington, Precinct No. 0015A since June 1997, and
that records on previous registrations are no longer available
because of the mandatory general registration every ten (10)
years. Moreover, aside from exercising their right of suffrage,
Balgamelo is one of the incumbent Barangay
Kagawads in BarangayWashington, Surigao City.[11]
Records further reveal that Lechi Ann and Arceli were born also
in Surigao City in 1953[12] and 1959,[13] respectively. The Office of
the City Civil Registrar issued a Certification to the effect that the
documents showing that Arceli elected Philippine citizenship
on 27 January 1986 were registered in its Office on 4 February
1986. However, no other supporting documents appear to show
that Lechi Ann initially obtained an ACR nor that she subsequently
elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.
Likewise, no document exists that will provide information on the
citizenship of Nicolas and Isidro.

327
The Complaint

On 16 February 2004, the Bureau of Immigration received the


Complaint-Affidavit[14] of a certain Mat G. Catral (Mr. Catral),
alleging that Felix (Yao Kong) Ma and his seven (7) children are
undesirable and overstaying aliens. Mr. Catral, however, did not
participate in the proceedings, and the Ma family could not but
believe that the complaint against them was politically motivated
because they strongly supported a candidate in Surigao City in the
2004 National and Local Elections.[15]

On 9 November 2004, the Legal Department of the Bureau of


Immigration charged them for violation of Sections 37(a)(7)[16] and
45(e)[17] of Commonwealth Act No. 613, otherwise known as
the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended. The Charge
Sheet[18] docketed as BSI-D.C. No. AFF-04-574 (OC-STF-04-09/23-
1416) reads, in part:

That Respondents x x x, all Chinese nationals, failed


and continuously failed to present any valid document to
show their respective status in the Philippines. They
likewise failed to produce documents to show their
election of Philippines (sic) citizenship, hence,
undocumented and overstaying foreign nationals in the
country.

That respondents, being aliens, misrepresent


themselves as Philippine citizens in order to evade the
requirements of the immigration laws.

Ruling of the Board of Commissioners, Bureau of


Immigration

After Felix Ma and his seven (7) children were afforded the
opportunity to refute the allegations, the Board of Commissioners
328
(Board) of the Bureau of Immigration (BI), composed of the public
respondents, rendered a Judgment dated 2 February 2005 finding
that Felix Ma and his children violated Commonwealth Act No.
613, Sections 37(a)(7) and 45(e) in relation to BI Memorandum
Order Nos. ADD-01-031 and ADD-01-035 dated 6 and 22 August
2001, respectively.[19]

The Board ruled that since they elected Philippine citizenship


after the enactment of Commonwealth Act No. 625, which was
approved on 7 June 1941, they were governed by the following
rules and regulations:

1. Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 625, providing that


the election of Philippine citizenship embodied in a statement
sworn before any officer authorized to administer oaths and the
oath of allegiance shall be filed with the nearest civil
registry;[20] and Commission of Immigration and Deportation (CID,
now Bureau of Immigration [BI])Circular dated 12 April
1954,[21] detailing the procedural requirements in the registration
of the election of Philippine citizenship.

2. Memorandum Order dated 18 August 1956[22] of the CID,


requiring the filing of a petition for the cancellation of their alien
certificate of registration with the CID, in view of their election of
Philippine citizenship;

3. Department of Justice (DOJ) Opinion No. 182, 19 August


1982; and DOJ Guidelines, 27 March 1985, requiring that the
records of the proceedings be forwarded to the Ministry (now the
Department) of Justice for final determination and review.[23]

As regards the documentation of aliens in the


Philippines, Administrative Order No. 1-93 of the Bureau of
Immigration[24] requires that ACR, E-series, be issued to foreign
nationals who apply for initial registration, finger printing and
329
issuance of an ACR in accordance with the Alien Registration Act
of 1950.[25] According to public respondents, any foreign national
found in possession of an ACR other than the E-series shall be
considered improperly documented aliens and may be proceeded
against in accordance with the Immigration Act of 1940 or the
Alien Registration Act of 1950, as amended.[26]

Supposedly for failure to comply with the procedure to prove


a valid claim to Philippine citizenship via election proceedings,
public respondents concluded that Felix, Jr. Balgamelo, Arceli,
Valeriano and Lechi Ann are undocumented and/or improperly
documented aliens.[27]

Nicolas and Isidro, on the other hand, did not submit any
document to support their claim that they are Philippine
citizens. Neither did they present any evidence to show that they
are properly documented aliens. For these reasons, public
respondents likewise deemed them undocumented and/or
improperly documented aliens.[28]

The dispositive portion[29] of the Judgment of 2 February 2005


reads:
1. Subject to the submission of appropriate
clearances, summary deportation of Felix (Yao Kong)
Ma, Felix Ma, Jr., Balgamelo Ma, Valeriano Ma, Lechi
Ann Ma, Nicolas Ma, Arceli Ma and Isidro Ma,
Taiwanese [Chinese], under C.A. No. 613, Sections
37(a)(7), 45(e) and 38 in relation to BI M.O. Nos. ADD-
01-031 and ADD-01-035 dated 6 and 22 August 2001,
respectively;

2. Issuance of a warrant of deportation against Felix


(Yao Kong) Ma, Felix Ma, Jr., Balgamelo Ma, Valeriano

330
Ma, Lechi Ann Ma, Nicolas Ma, Arceli Ma and Isidro Ma
under C.A. No. 613, Section 37(a);

3. Inclusion of the names of Felix (Yao Kong) Ma, Felix


Ma, Jr., Balgamelo Ma, Valeriano Ma, Lechi Ann Ma,
Nicolas Ma, Arceli Ma and Isidro Ma in the
Immigration Blacklist; and

4. Exclusion from the Philippines of Felix (Yao Kong)


Ma, Felix Ma, Jr., Balgamelo Ma, Valeriano Ma, Lechi
Ann Ma, Nicolas Ma, Arceli Ma and Isidro Ma under
C.A. No. 613, Section 29(a)(15). (Emphasis supplied.)

In its Resolution[30] of 8 April 2005, public respondents


partially reconsidered their Judgment of 2 February 2005. They
were convinced that Arceli is an immigrant under Commonwealth
Act No. 613, Section 13(g).[31] However, they denied the Motion
for Reconsideration with respect to Felix Ma and the rest of his
children.[32]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On 3 May 2005, only Balgamelo, Felix, Jr., and Valeriano filed


the Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure before the Court of Appeals, which was docketed
as CA-G.R. SP No. 89532. They sought the nullification of the
issuances of the public respondents, to wit: (1) the Judgment
dated 2 February 2005, ordering the summary deportation of the
petitioners, issuance of a warrant of deportation against them,
inclusion of their names in the Immigration Blacklist, and
exclusion of the petitioners from the Philippines; and (2) the

331
Resolution dated 8 April 2005, denying the petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration.

On 29 August 2007, the Court of Appeals dismissed the


petition[33] after finding that the petitioners failed to comply with
the exacting standards of the law providing for the procedure and
conditions for their continued stay in the Philippines either as
aliens or as its nationals.[34]

On 29 May 2008, it issued a Resolution[35] denying the


petitioners Motion for Reconsideration dated 20 September 2007.
To reiterate, a persons continued and
uninterrupted stay in the Philippines, his being a
registered voter or an elected public official cannot vest
in him Philippine citizenship as the law specifically lays
down the requirements for acquisition of Philippine
citizenship by election. The prescribed procedure in
electing Philippine citizenship is certainly not a tedious
and painstaking process. All that is required of the
elector is to execute an affidavit of election of Philippine
citizenship and, thereafter, file the same with the nearest
civil registry. The constitutional mandate concerning
citizenship must be adhered to strictly. Philippine
citizenship can never be treated like a commodity that
can be claimed when needed and suppressed when
convenient. One who is privileged to elect Philippine
citizenship has only an inchoate right to such citizenship.
As such, he should avail of the right with fervor,
enthusiasm and promptitude.[36]

332
Our Ruling

The 1935 Constitution declares as citizens of


the Philippines those whose mothers are citizens of
the Philippines and elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the
age of majority. The mandate states:

Section 1. The following are citizens of


the Philippines:
(1) xxx;

xxxx

(4) Those whose mothers are citizens of


the Philippines and, upon reaching the age of
majority, elect Philippine citizenship.[37]

In 1941, Commonwealth Act No. 625 was enacted. It laid


down the manner of electing Philippine citizenship, to wit:

Section 1. The option to elect Philippine citizenship


in accordance with subsection (4), Section 1, Article IV, of
the Constitution shall be expressed in a statement to be
signed and sworn to by the party concerned before any
officer authorized to administer oaths, and shall be filed
with the nearest civil registry. The said party shall
accompany the aforesaid statement with the oath of
allegiance to the Constitution and the Government of
the Philippines.

The statutory formalities of electing Philippine citizenship are:


(1) a statement of election under oath; (2) an oath of allegiance to
the Constitution and Government of thePhilippines; and (3)
registration of the statement of election and of the oath with the
nearest civil registry.
333
In Re:Application for Admission to the Philippine Bar, Vicente D.
Ching,[38] we determined the meaning of the period of election
described by phrase upon reaching the age of majority. Our
references were the Civil Code of the Philippines, the opinions of
the Secretary of Justice, and the case of Cueco v. Secretary of
Justice.[39] We pronounced:

x x x [T]he 1935 Constitution and C.A. No. 625 did not


prescribe a time period within which the election of
Philippine citizenship should be made. The 1935 Charter
only provides that the election should be made upon
reaching the age of majority. The age of majority then
commenced upon reaching twenty-one (21) years.[40] In
the opinions of the Secretary of Justice on cases involving
the validity of election of Philippine citizenship, this
dilemma was resolved by basing the time period on the
decisions of this Court prior to the effectivity of the 1935
Constitution. In these decisions, the proper period for
electing Philippine citizenship was, in turn, based on the
pronouncements of the Department of State of the
United States Government to the effect that the election
should be made within a reasonable time after attaining
the age of majority.[41] The phrase reasonable time has
been interpreted to mean that the elections should be
made within three (3) years from reaching the age of
majority.[42] However, we held in Cue[n]co vs. Secretary
of Justice,[43] that the three (3) year period is not an
inflexible rule. We said:

It is true that this clause has been construed


to mean a reasonable time after reaching the
age of majority, and that the Secretary of Justice
has ruled that three (3) years is the reasonable
time to elect Philippine citizenship under the
334
constitutional provision adverted to above,
which period may be extended under certain
circumstances, as when the person concerned
has always considered himself a Filipino.

However, we cautioned in Cue[n]co that the extension of


the option to elect Philippine citizenship is not indefinite.

Regardless of the foregoing, petitioner was


born on February 16, 1923. He became of age
on February 16, 1944. His election of citizenship
was made on May 15, 1951, when he was over
twenty-eight (28) years of age, or over seven (7)
years after he had reached the age of
majority. It is clear that said election has not
been made upon reaching the age of
majority.[44]

We reiterated the above ruling in Go, Sr. v. Ramos,[45] a case


in which we adopted the findings of the appellate court that the
father of the petitioner, whose citizenship was in question, failed
to elect Philippine citizenship within the reasonable period of
three (3) years upon reaching the age of majority; and that the
belated submission to the local civil registry of the affidavit of
election and oath of allegiance x x x was defective because the
affidavit of election was executed after the oath of allegiance, and
the delay of several years before their filing with the proper office
was not satisfactorily explained.[46]
In both cases, we ruled against the petitioners because they
belatedly complied with all the requirements. The acts of election
and their registration with the nearest civil registry were all done
beyond the reasonable period of three years upon reaching the
age of majority.

335
The instant case presents a different factual
setting. Petitioners complied with the first and second
requirements upon reaching the age of majority. It was only the
registration of the documents of election with the civil registry
that was belatedly done.

We rule that under the facts peculiar to the petitioners, the


right to elect Philippine citizenship has not been lost and they
should be allowed to complete the statutory requirements for
such election.

Such conclusion, contrary to the finding of the Court of


Appeals, is in line with our decisions in In Re:Florencio
Mallare,[47] Co v. Electoral Tribunal of the House of
Representatives,[48] and Re:Application for Admission to the
Philippine Bar, Vicente D. Ching.[49]

In Mallare, Estebans exercise of the right of suffrage when he


came of age was deemed to be a positive act of election of
Philippine citizenship.[50] The Court of Appeals, however, said that
the case cannot support herein petitioners cause, pointing out
that, unlike petitioner, Esteban is a natural child of a Filipina,
hence, no other act would be necessary to confer on him the
rights and privileges of a Filipino citizen,[51] and that Esteban was
born in 1929[52] prior to the adoption of the 1935 Constitution and
the enactment of Commonwealth Act No. 625.[53]

In the Co case, Jose Ong, Jr. did more than exercise his right
of suffrage, as he established his life here in
the Philippines.[54] Again, such circumstance, while similar to that
of herein petitioners, was not appreciated because it was ruled
that any election of Philippine citizenship on the part of Ong
would have resulted in absurdity, because the law itself had
already elected Philippine citizenship for him[55] as, apparently,

336
while he was still a minor, a certificate of naturalization was
issued to his father.[56]

In Ching, it may be recalled that we denied his application for


admission to the Philippine Bar because, in his case, all the
requirements, to wit: (1) a statement of election under oath; (2)
an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and Government of the
Philippines; and (3) registration of the statement of election and
of the oath with the nearest civil registry were complied with only
fourteen (14) years after he reached the age of majority. Ching
offered no reason for the late election of Philippine citizenship.[57]

In all, the Court of Appeals found the petitioners argument of


good faith and informal election unacceptable and held:

Their reliance in the ruling contained


in Re:Application for Admission to the Philippine Bar,
Vicente D. Ching, [which was decided on 1 October
1999], is obviously flawed. It bears emphasis that the
Supreme Court, in said case, did not adopt the doctrine
laid down in In Re: Florencio Mallare. On the contrary,
the Supreme Court was emphatic in pronouncing that
the special circumstances invoked by Ching, i.e., his
continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines and
his being a certified public accountant, a registered voter
and a former elected public official, cannot vest in him
Philippine citizenship as the law specifically lays down
the requirements for acquisition of Philippine citizenship
by election.[58]

We are not prepared to state that the mere exercise of


suffrage, being elected public official, continuous and
uninterrupted stay in the Philippines, and other similar acts
showing exercise of Philippine citizenship can take the place of
337
election of citizenship. What we now say is that where, as in
petitioners case, the election of citizenship has in fact been done
and documented within the constitutional and statutory
timeframe, the registration of the documents of election beyond
the frame should be allowed if in the meanwhile positive acts of
citizenship have publicly, consistently, and continuously been
done. The actual exercise of Philippine citizenship, for over half a
century by the herein petitioners, is actual notice to the Philippine
public which is equivalent to formal registration of the election of
Philippine citizenship.

For what purpose is registration?


In Pascua v. Court of Appeals,[59] we elucidated the principles
of civil law on registration:

To register is to record or annotate. American and


Spanish authorities are unanimous on the meaning of the
term to register as to enter in a register; to record
formally and distinctly; to enroll; to enter in a list.[60] In
general, registration refers to any entry made in the
books of the registry, including both registration in its
ordinary and strict sense, and cancellation, annotation,
and even the marginal notes. In strict acceptation, it
pertains to the entry made in the registry which records
solemnly and permanently the right of ownership and
other real rights.[61] Simply stated, registration is made
for the purpose of notification.[62]

Actual knowledge may even have the effect of registration as


to the person who has knowledge thereof. Thus, [i]ts purpose is to
give notice thereof to all persons (and it) operates as a notice of
the deed, contract, or instrument to others.[63] As pertinent is the
holding that registration neither adds to its validity nor converts
an invalid instrument into a valid one between the parties.[64] It
lays emphasis on the validity of an unregistered document.
338
Comparable jurisprudence may be consulted.

In a contract of partnership, we said that the purpose of


registration is to give notice to third parties; that failure to
register the contract does not affect the liability of the
partnership and of the partners to third persons; and that neither
does such failure affect the partnerships juridical
personality.[65] An unregistered contract of partnership is valid as
among the partners, so long as it has the essential requisites,
because the main purpose of registration is to give notice to third
parties, and it can be assumed that the members themselves
knew of the contents of their contract.[66] The non-registration of
a deed of donation does not also affect its validity. Registration is
not a requirement for the validity of the contract as between the
parties, for the effect of registration serves chiefly to bind third
persons.[67]

Likewise relevant is the pronouncement that registration is


not a mode of acquiring a right. In an analogous case involving an
unrecorded deed of sale, we reiterated the settled rule that
registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership.

Registration does not confer ownership. It is not a


mode of acquiring dominion, but only a means of
confirming the fact of its existence with notice to the
world at large.[68]

Registration, then, is the confirmation of the existence of a fact. In


the instant case, registration is the confirmation of election as
such election. It is not the registration of the act of election,
although a valid requirement under Commonwealth Act No. 625,
that will confer Philippine citizenship on the petitioners. It is only
a means of confirming the fact that citizenship has been claimed.

339
Indeed, we even allow the late registration of the fact of birth
and of marriage.[69] Thus, has it been admitted through existing
rules that the late registration of the fact of birth of a child does
not erase the fact of birth. Also, the fact of marriage cannot be
declared void solely because of the failure to have the marriage
certificate registered with the designated government agency.
Notably, the petitioners timely took their oath of allegiance
to the Philippines. This was a serious undertaking. It was
commitment and fidelity to the state coupled with a pledge to
renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance to any other
state. This was unqualified acceptance of their identity as a
Filipino and the complete disavowal of any other nationality.

Petitioners have passed decades of their lives in


the Philippines as Filipinos. Their present status having been
formed by their past, petitioners can no longer have any national
identity except that which they chose upon reaching the age of
reason.

Corollary to this fact, we cannot agree with the view of the


Court of Appeals that since the ACR presented by the petitioners
are no longer valid on account of the new requirement to present
an E-series ACR, they are deemed not properly
documented.[70] On the contrary, petitioners should not be
expected to secure E-series ACR because it would be inconsistent
with the election of citizenship and its constructive registration
through their acts made public, among others, their exercise of
suffrage, election as public official, and continued and
uninterrupted stay in the Philippines since birth. The failure to
register as aliens is, obviously, consistent with petitioners election
of Philippine citizenship.

The leanings towards recognition of the citizenship of


children of Filipino mothers have been indicated not alone by the

340
jurisprudence that liberalized the requirement on time of
election, and recognized positive acts of Philippine citizenship.

The favor that is given to such children is likewise evident in


the evolution of the constitutional provision on Philippine
citizenship.

Thus, while the 1935 Constitution requires that children of


Filipino mothers elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching their
age of majority,[71] upon the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution,
they automatically become Filipinos[72] and need not elect
Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. The 1973
provision reads:

Section 1. The following are citizens of


the Philippines:

(1) xxx.
(2) Those whose fathers and mothers are
citizens of the Philippines.[73]

Better than the relaxation of the requirement, the 1987


Constitution now classifies them as natural-born citizens upon
election of Philippine citizenship. Thus, Sec. 2, Article IV thereof
provides:

Section 2. Natural-born citizens are those who are


citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to
perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine
citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in
accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof[74] shall
be deemed natural-born citizens. (Emphasis supplied.)

341
The constitutional bias is reflected in the deliberations of the
1986 Constitutional Commission.

MR. CONCEPCION. x x x.

xxxx

x x x x As regards those born of Filipino mothers, the


1935 Constitution merely gave them the option to
choose Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of
majority, even, apparently, if the father were an alien or
unknown. Upon the other hand, under the 1973
Constitution, children of mixed marriages involving an
alien father and a Filipino mother are Filipino citizens,
thus liberalizing the counterpart provision in the 1935
Constitution by dispensing with the need to make a
declaration of intention upon reaching the age of
majority. I understand that the committee would further
liberalize this provision of the 1935 Constitution. The
Committee seemingly proposes to further liberalize the
policy of the 1935 Constitution by making those who
became citizens of the Philippines through a declaration
of intention to choose their mothers citizenship upon
reaching the majority age by declaring that such children
are natural-born citizens of thePhilippines.[75]

xxxx

xxx Why does the draft resolution adopt the provision of


the 1973 Constitution and not that of the 1935? [76]

xxxx
FR. BERNAS. x x x Precisely, the reason behind the
modification of the 1935 rule on citizenship was a
recognition of the fact that it reflected a certain male
342
chauvinism, and it was for the purpose of remedying that
this proposed provision was put in. The idea was that we
should not penalize the mother of a child simply because
she fell in love with a foreigner. Now, the question on
what citizenship the child would prefer arises. We really
have no way of guessing the preference of the infant. But
if we recognize the right of the child to choose, then let
him choose when he reaches the age of majority. I think
dual citizenship is just a reality imposed on us because
we have no control of the laws on citizenship of other
countries. We recognize a child of a Filipino mother. But
whether or not she is considered a citizen of another
country is something completely beyond our control. But
certainly it is within the jurisdiction of the Philippine
government to require that [at] a certain point, a child be
made to choose. But I do not think we should penalize
the child before he is even able to choose. I would,
therefore, support the retention of the modification
made in 1973 of the male chauvinistic rule of the 1935
Constitution.[77]

xxxx

MR. REGALADO. With respect to a child who became a


Filipino citizen by election, which the Committee is now
planning to consider a natural-born citizen, he will be so
the moment he opts for Philippine citizenship. Did the
Committee take into account the fact that at the time of
birth, all he had was just an inchoate right to choose
Philippine citizenship, and yet, by subsequently choosing
Philippine citizenship, it would appear that his choice
retroacted to the date of his birth so much so that under
the Gentlemans proposed amendment, he would be a
natural-born citizen?[78]

343
FR. BERNAS. But the difference between him and the
natural-born who lost his status is that the natural-born
who lost his status, lost it voluntarily; whereas, this
individual in the situation contemplated in Section 1,
paragraph 3 never had the chance to choose.[79]

xxxx

[on the period within which to elect Philippine citizenship]

MR. RODRIGO. [T]his provision becomes very, very


important because his election of Philippine citizenship
makes him not only a Filipino citizen but a natural-born
Filipino citizen, entitling him to run for Congress, to be a
Justice of the Supreme Court x x x.[80]
We are guided by this evolvement from election of Philippine
citizenship upon reaching the age of majority under the 1935
Philippine Constitution to dispensing with the election
requirement under the 1973 Philippine Constitution to express
classification of these children as natural-born citizens under the
1987 Constitution towards the conclusion that the omission of the
1941 statutory requirement of registration of the documents of
election should not result in the obliteration of the right to
Philippine citizenship.

Having a Filipino mother is permanent. It is the basis of the


right of the petitioners to elect Philippine citizenship. Petitioners
elected Philippine citizenship in form and substance. The failure to
register the election in the civil registry should not defeat the
election and resultingly negate the permanent fact that they have
a Filipino mother. The lacking requirements may still be complied
with subject to the imposition of appropriate administrative
penalties, if any. The documents they submitted supporting their
allegations that they have already registered with the civil
registry, although belatedly, should be examined for validation
344
purposes by the appropriate agency, in this case, the Bureau of
Immigration. Other requirements embodied in the administrative
orders and other issuances of the Bureau of Immigration and the
Department of Justice shall be complied with within a reasonable
time.

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 29 August 2007, and the


Resolution dated 29 May 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 89532 affirming the Judgment dated 2 February 2005, and
the Resolution dated 8 April 2005 of the Bureau of Immigration in
BSI-D.C. No. AFF-04-574 OC-STF-04-09/23-1416 are hereby SET
ASIDE with respect to petitioners Balgamelo Cabiling Ma, Felix
Cabiling Ma, Jr., and Valeriano Cabiling Ma. Petitioners are given
ninety (90) days from notice within which to COMPLYwith the
requirements of the Bureau of Immigration embodied in its
Judgment of 2 February 2005. The Bureau of Immigration
shall ENSURE that all requirements, including the payment of
their financial obligations to the state, if any, have been complied
with subject to the imposition of appropriate administrative
fines; REVIEW the documents submitted by the petitioners;
and ACT thereon in accordance with the decision of this Court.

SO ORDERED.

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson
345
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice Associate Justice

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


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 Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

346
MERCADO VS MANZANO AND COMELEC
SYLLABI/SYNOPSIS
EN BANC

[G.R. No. 135083. May 26, 1999]

ERNESTO S. MERCADO, petitioner, vs. EDUARDO BARRIOS


MANZANO and the COMMISSION ON
ELECTIONS, respondents.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
Petitioner Ernesto S. Mercado and private respondent Eduardo
B. Manzano were candidates for vice mayor of the City of Makati
in the May 11, 1998 elections. The other one was Gabriel V. Daza
III.The results of the election were as follows:
Eduardo B. Manzano 103,853
Ernesto S. Mercado 100,894
Gabriel V. Daza III 54,275[1]
The proclamation of private respondent was suspended in view
of a pending petition for disqualification filed by a certain Ernesto
Mamaril who alleged that private respondent was not a citizen of
the Philippines but of the United States.
In its resolution, dated May 7, 1998,[2] the Second Division of
the COMELEC granted the petition of Mamaril and ordered the
cancellation of the certificate of candidacy of private respondent
on the ground that he is a dual citizen and, under 40(d) of the
Local Government Code, persons with dual citizenship are
disqualified from running for any elective position. The COMELECs
Second Division said:

347
What is presented before the Commission is a petition for
disqualification of Eduardo Barrios Manzano as candidate for the
office of Vice-Mayor of Makati City in the May 11, 1998
elections. The petition is based on the ground that the respondent
is an American citizen based on the record of the Bureau of
Immigration and misrepresented himself as a natural-born Filipino
citizen.
In his answer to the petition filed on April 27, 1998, the
respondent admitted that he is registered as a foreigner with the
Bureau of Immigration under Alien Certificate of Registration No.
B-31632 and alleged that he is a Filipino citizen because he was
born in 1955 of a Filipino father and a Filipino mother. He was
born in the United States, San Francisco, California, on September
14, 1955, and is considered an American citizen under US
Laws. But notwithstanding his registration as an American citizen,
he did not lose his Filipino citizenship.
Judging from the foregoing facts, it would appear that respondent
Manzano is both a Filipino and a US citizen. In other words, he
holds dual citizenship.
The question presented is whether under our laws, he is
disqualified from the position for which he filed his certificate of
candidacy. Is he eligible for the office he seeks to be elected?
Under Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code, those holding
dual citizenship are disqualified from running for any elective local
position.
WHEREFORE, the Commission hereby declares the respondent
Eduardo Barrios Manzano DISQUALIFIED as candidate for Vice-
Mayor of Makati City.
On May 8, 1998, private respondent filed a motion for
reconsideration.[3] The motion remained pending even until after
the election held on May 11, 1998.

348
Accordingly, pursuant to Omnibus Resolution No. 3044, dated
May 10, 1998, of the COMELEC, the board of canvassers tabulated
the votes cast for vice mayor of Makati City but suspended the
proclamation of the winner.
On May 19, 1998, petitioner sought to intervene in the case for
disqualification.[4] Petitioners motion was opposed by private
respondent.
The motion was not resolved. Instead, on August 31, 1998, the
COMELEC en banc rendered its resolution. Voting 4 to 1, with one
commissioner abstaining, the COMELEC en banc reversed the
ruling of its Second Division and declared private respondent
qualified to run for vice mayor of the City of Makati in the May 11,
1998 elections.[5] The pertinent portions of the resolution of the
COMELEC en banc read:
As aforesaid, respondent Eduardo Barrios Manzano was born in
San Francisco, California, U.S.A. He acquired US citizenship
by operation of the United States Constitution and laws under the
principle of jus soli.
He was also a natural born Filipino citizen by operation of the
1935 Philippine Constitution, as his father and mother were
Filipinos at the time of his birth. At the age of six (6), his parents
brought him to the Philippines using an American passport as
travel document. His parents also registered him as an alien with
the Philippine Bureau of Immigration. He was issued an alien
certificate of registration. This, however, did not result in the loss
of his Philippine citizenship, as he did not renounce Philippine
citizenship and did not take an oath of allegiance to the United
States.
It is an undisputed fact that when respondent attained the age of
majority, he registered himself as a voter, and voted in the
elections of 1992, 1995 and 1998, which effectively renounced his
US citizenship under American law. Under Philippine law, he no
longer had U.S. citizenship.
349
At the time of the May 11, 1998 elections, the resolution of the
Second Division, adopted on May 7, 1998, was not yet
final. Respondent Manzano obtained the highest number of votes
among the candidates for vice-mayor of Makati City, garnering
one hundred three thousand eight hundred fifty three (103,853)
votes over his closest rival, Ernesto S. Mercado, who obtained one
hundred thousand eight hundred ninety four (100,894) votes, or a
margin of two thousand nine hundred fifty nine (2,959)
votes. Gabriel Daza III obtained third place with fifty four
thousand two hundred seventy five (54,275) votes. In applying
election laws, it would be far better to err in favor of the popular
choice than be embroiled in complex legal issues involving private
international law which may well be settled before the highest
court (Cf. Frivaldo vs. Commission on Elections, 257 SCRA 727).
WHEREFORE, the Commission en banc hereby REVERSES the
resolution of the Second Division, adopted on May 7, 1998,
ordering the cancellation of the respondents certificate of
candidacy.
We declare respondent Eduardo Luis Barrios Manzano to be
QUALIFIED as a candidate for the position of vice-mayor of Makati
City in the May 11, 1998, elections.
ACCORDINGLY, the Commission directs the Makati City Board of
Canvassers, upon proper notice to the parties, to reconvene and
proclaim the respondent Eduardo Luis Barrios Manzano as the
winning candidate for vice-mayor of Makati City.
Pursuant to the resolution of the COMELEC en banc, the board
of canvassers, on the evening of August 31, 1998, proclaimed
private respondent as vice mayor of the City of Makati.
This is a petition for certiorari seeking to set aside the aforesaid
resolution of the COMELEC en banc and to declare private
respondent disqualified to hold the office of vice mayor of Makati
City.Petitioner contends that
350
[T]he COMELEC en banc ERRED in holding that:
A. Under Philippine law, Manzano was no longer a U.S. citizen
when he:
1. He renounced his U.S. citizenship when he attained the age of
majority when he was already 37 years old; and,
2. He renounced his U.S. citizenship when he (merely) registered
himself as a voter and voted in the elections of 1992, 1995 and
1998.
B. Manzano is qualified to run for and or hold the elective office of
Vice-Mayor of the City of Makati;
C. At the time of the May 11, 1998 elections, the resolution of the
Second Division adopted on 7 May 1998 was not yet final so that,
effectively, petitioner may not be declared the winner even
assuming that Manzano is disqualified to run for and hold the
elective office of Vice-Mayor of the City of Makati.
We first consider the threshold procedural issue raised by
private respondent Manzano whether petitioner Mercado has
personality to bring this suit considering that he was not an
original party in the case for disqualification filed by Ernesto
Mamaril nor was petitioners motion for leave to intervene
granted.

I. PETITIONER'S RIGHT TO BRING THIS SUIT

Private respondent cites the following provisions of Rule 8 of


the Rules of Procedure of the COMELEC in support of his claim
that petitioner has no right to intervene and, therefore, cannot
bring this suit to set aside the ruling denying his motion for
intervention:
Section 1. When proper and when may be permitted to
intervene. Any person allowed to initiate an action or proceeding
351
may, before or during the trial of an action or proceeding, be
permitted by the Commission, in its discretion to intervene in
such action or proceeding, if he has legal interest in the matter in
litigation, or in the success of either of the parties, or an interest
against both, or when he is so situated as to be adversely affected
by such action or proceeding.
....
Section 3. Discretion of Commission. In allowing or disallowing a
motion for intervention, the Commission or the Division, in the
exercise of its discretion, shall consider whether or not the
intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the
rights of the original parties and whether or not the intervenors
rights may be fully protected in a separate action or proceeding.
Private respondent argues that petitioner has neither legal
interest in the matter in litigation nor an interest to protect
because he is a defeated candidate for the vice-mayoralty post of
Makati City [who] cannot be proclaimed as the Vice-Mayor of
Makati City even if the private respondent be ultimately
disqualified by final and executory judgment.
The flaw in this argument is it assumes that, at the time
petitioner sought to intervene in the proceedings before the
COMELEC, there had already been a proclamation of the results of
the election for the vice mayoralty contest for Makati City, on the
basis of which petitioner came out only second to private
respondent. The fact, however, is that there had been no
proclamation at that time. Certainly, petitioner had, and still has,
an interest in ousting private respondent from the race at the
time he sought to intervene. The rule in Labo v.
COMELEC,[6] reiterated in several cases,[7] only applies to cases in
which the election of the respondent is contested, and the
question is whether one who placed second to the disqualified
candidate may be declared the winner. In the present case, at the
time petitioner filed a Motion for Leave to File Intervention on
352
May 20, 1998, there had been no proclamation of the winner, and
petitioners purpose was precisely to have private respondent
disqualified from running for [an] elective local position under
40(d) of R.A. No. 7160. If Ernesto Mamaril (who originally
instituted the disqualification proceedings), a registered voter of
Makati City, was competent to bring the action, so was petitioner
since the latter was a rival candidate for vice mayor of Makati
City.
Nor is petitioners interest in the matter in litigation any less
because he filed a motion for intervention only on May 20, 1998,
after private respondent had been shown to have garnered the
highest number of votes among the candidates for vice
mayor. That petitioner had a right to intervene at that stage of the
proceedings for the disqualification against private respondent is
clear from 6 of R.A. No. 6646, otherwise known as the Electoral
Reforms Law of 1987, which provides:
Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be
disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall
not be counted. If for any reason a candidate is not declared by
final judgment before an election to be disqualified and he is
voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such
election, the Court or Commission shall continue with the trial and
hearing of the action, inquiry, or protest and, upon motion of the
complainant or any intervenor, may during the pendency thereof
order the suspension of the proclamation of such candidate
whenever the evidence of guilt is strong.
Under this provision, intervention may be allowed in
proceedings for disqualification even after election if there has yet
been no final judgment rendered.
The failure of the COMELEC en banc to resolve petitioners
motion for intervention was tantamount to a denial of the
motion, justifying petitioner in filing the instant petition for
certiorari. As the COMELEC en banc instead decided the merits of
353
the case, the present petition properly deals not only with the
denial of petitioners motion for intervention but also with the
substantive issues respecting private respondents alleged
disqualification on the ground of dual citizenship.
This brings us to the next question, namely, whether private
respondent Manzano possesses dual citizenship and, if so,
whether he is disqualified from being a candidate for vice mayor
of Makati City.

II. DUAL CITIZENSHIP AS A GROUND FOR DISQUALIFICATION

The disqualification of private respondent Manzano is being


sought under 40 of the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No.
7160), which declares as disqualified from running for any elective
local position: . . . (d) Those with dual citizenship. This provision is
incorporated in the Charter of the City of Makati.[8]
Invoking the maxim dura lex sed lex, petitioner, as well as the
Solicitor General, who sides with him in this case, contends that
through 40(d) of the Local Government Code, Congress has
command[ed] in explicit terms the ineligibility of persons
possessing dual allegiance to hold local elective office.
To begin with, dual citizenship is different from dual
allegiance. The former arises when, as a result of the concurrent
application of the different laws of two or more states, a person is
simultaneously considered a national by the said states.[9] For
instance, such a situation may arise when a person whose parents
are citizens of a state which adheres to the principle of jus
sanguinis is born in a state which follows the doctrine of jus
soli. Such a person, ipso facto and without any voluntary act on
his part, is concurrently considered a citizen of both
states. Considering the citizenship clause (Art. IV) of our
Constitution, it is possible for the following classes of citizens of
the Philippines to possess dual citizenship:

354
(1) Those born of Filipino fathers and/or mothers in foreign
countries which follow the principle of jus soli;
(2) Those born in the Philippines of Filipino mothers and alien
fathers if by the laws of their fathers country such children are
citizens of that country;
(3) Those who marry aliens if by the laws of the latters country
the former are considered citizens, unless by their act or omission
they are deemed to have renounced Philippine citizenship.
There may be other situations in which a citizen of the
Philippines may, without performing any act, be also a citizen of
another state; but the above cases are clearly possible given the
constitutional provisions on citizenship.
Dual allegiance, on the other hand, refers to the situation in
which a person simultaneously owes, by some positive act, loyalty
to two or more states. While dual citizenship is involuntary, dual
allegiance is the result of an individuals volition.
With respect to dual allegiance, Article IV, 5 of the Constitution
provides: Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national
interest and shall be dealt with by law. This provision was
included in the 1987 Constitution at the instance of Commissioner
Blas F. Ople who explained its necessity as follows:[10]
. . . I want to draw attention to the fact that dual allegiance is not
dual citizenship. I have circulated a memorandum to the Bernas
Committee according to which a dual allegiance and I reiterate a
dual allegiance is larger and more threatening than that of mere
double citizenship which is seldom intentional and, perhaps,
never insidious. That is often a function of the accident of mixed
marriages or of birth on foreign soil. And so, I do not question
double citizenship at all.
What we would like the Committee to consider is to take
constitutional cognizance of the problem of dual allegiance. For
example, we all know what happens in the triennial elections of
355
the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce which
consists of about 600 chapters all over the country. There is a
Peking ticket, as well as a Taipei ticket. Not widely known is the
fact that the Filipino-Chinese community is represented in the
Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China in Taiwan. And until
recently, the sponsor might recall, in Mainland China in the
Peoples Republic of China, they have the Associated Legislative
Council for overseas Chinese wherein all of Southeast Asia
including some European and Latin countries were represented,
which was dissolved after several years because of diplomatic
friction. At that time, the Filipino-Chinese were also represented
in that Overseas Council.
When I speak of double allegiance, therefore, I speak of this
unsettled kind of allegiance of Filipinos, of citizens who are
already Filipinos but who, by their acts, may be said to be bound
by a second allegiance, either to Peking or Taiwan. I also took
close note of the concern expressed by some Commissioners
yesterday, including Commissioner Villacorta, who were
concerned about the lack of guarantees of thorough assimilation,
and especially Commissioner Concepcion who has always been
worried about minority claims on our natural resources.
Dual allegiance can actually siphon scarce national capital to
Taiwan, Singapore, China or Malaysia, and this is already
happening. Some of the great commercial places in downtown
Taipei are Filipino-owned, owned by Filipino-Chinese it is of
common knowledge in Manila. It can mean a tragic capital
outflow when we have to endure a capital famine which also
means economic stagnation, worsening unemployment and social
unrest.
And so, this is exactly what we ask that the Committee kindly
consider incorporating a new section, probably Section 5, in the
article on Citizenship which will read as follows: DUAL

356
ALLEGIANCE IS INIMICAL TO CITIZENSHIP AND SHALL BE DEALT
WITH ACCORDING TO LAW.
In another session of the Commission, Ople spoke on the
problem of these citizens with dual allegiance, thus:[11]
. . . A significant number of Commissioners expressed their
concern about dual citizenship in the sense that it implies a
double allegiance under a double sovereignty which some of us
who spoke then in a freewheeling debate thought would be
repugnant to the sovereignty which pervades the Constitution
and to citizenship itself which implies a uniqueness and which
elsewhere in the Constitution is defined in terms of rights and
obligations exclusive to that citizenship including, of course, the
obligation to rise to the defense of the State when it is
threatened, and back of this, Commissioner Bernas, is, of course,
the concern for national security. In the course of those debates, I
think some noted the fact that as a result of the wave of
naturalizations since the decision to establish diplomatic relations
with the Peoples Republic of China was made in 1975, a good
number of these naturalized Filipinos still routinely go to Taipei
every October 10; and it is asserted that some of them do renew
their oath of allegiance to a foreign government maybe just to
enter into the spirit of the occasion when the anniversary of the
Sun Yat-Sen Republic is commemorated. And so, I have detected a
genuine and deep concern about double citizenship, with its
attendant risk of double allegiance which is repugnant to our
sovereignty and national security. I appreciate what the
Committee said that this could be left to the determination of a
future legislature. But considering the scale of the problem, the
real impact on the security of this country, arising from, let us say,
potentially great numbers of double citizens professing double
allegiance, will the Committee entertain a proposed amendment
at the proper time that will prohibit, in effect, or regulate double
citizenship?

357
Clearly, in including 5 in Article IV on citizenship, the concern of
the Constitutional Commission was not with dual citizens per
se but with naturalized citizens who maintain their allegiance to
their countries of origin even after their naturalization. Hence, the
phrase dual citizenship in R.A. No. 7160, 40(d) and in R.A. No.
7854, 20 must be understood as referring to dual
allegiance. Consequently, persons with mere dual citizenship do
not fall under this disqualification. Unlike those with dual
allegiance, who must, therefore, be subject to strict process with
respect to the termination of their status, for candidates with dual
citizenship, it should suffice if, upon the filing of their certificates
of candidacy, they elect Philippine citizenship to terminate their
status as persons with dual citizenship considering that their
condition is the unavoidable consequence of conflicting laws of
different states. As Joaquin G. Bernas, one of the most perceptive
members of the Constitutional Commission, pointed out: [D]ual
citizenship is just a reality imposed on us because we have no
control of the laws on citizenship of other countries. We recognize
a child of a Filipino mother. But whether or not she is considered
a citizen of another country is something completely beyond our
control.[12]
By electing Philippine citizenship, such candidates at the same
time forswear allegiance to the other country of which they are
also citizens and thereby terminate their status as dual citizens. It
may be that, from the point of view of the foreign state and of its
laws, such an individual has not effectively renounced his foreign
citizenship. That is of no moment as the following discussion on
40(d) between Senators Enrile and Pimentel clearly shows:[13]
SENATOR ENRILE. Mr. President, I would like to ask clarification
of line 41, page 17: Any person with dual citizenship is
disqualified to run for any elective local position. Under the
present Constitution, Mr. President, someone whose mother
is a citizen of the Philippines but his father is a foreigner is a
natural-born citizen of the Republic. There is no requirement
358
that such a natural born citizen, upon reaching the age of
majority, must elect or give up Philippine citizenship.
On the assumption that this person would carry two passports,
one belonging to the country of his or her father and one
belonging to the Republic of the Philippines, may such a
situation disqualify the person to run for a local government
position?
SENATOR PIMENTEL. To my mind, Mr. President, it only means
that at the moment when he would want to run for public
office, he has to repudiate one of his citizenships.
SENATOR ENRILE. Suppose he carries only a Philippine passport
but the country of origin or the country of the father claims
that person, nevertheless, as a citizen? No one can
renounce. There are such countries in the world.
SENATOR PIMENTEL. Well, the very fact that he is running for
public office would, in effect, be an election for him of his
desire to be considered as a Filipino citizen.
SENATOR ENRILE. But, precisely, Mr. President, the Constitution
does not require an election. Under the Constitution, a
person whose mother is a citizen of the Philippines is, at
birth, a citizen without any overt act to claim the citizenship.
SENATOR PIMENTEL. Yes. What we are saying, Mr. President, is:
Under the Gentlemans example, if he does not renounce his
other citizenship, then he is opening himself to question. So,
if he is really interested to run, the first thing he should do is
to say in the Certificate of Candidacy that: I am a Filipino
citizen, and I have only one citizenship.
SENATOR ENRILE. But we are talking from the viewpoint of
Philippine law, Mr. President. He will always have one
citizenship, and that is the citizenship invested upon him or
her in the Constitution of the Republic.
SENATOR PIMENTEL. That is true, Mr. President. But if he
exercises acts that will prove that he also acknowledges other
359
citizenships, then he will probably fall under this
disqualification.
This is similar to the requirement that an applicant for
naturalization must renounce all allegiance and fidelity to any
foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty[14] of which at the
time he is a subject or citizen before he can be issued a certificate
of naturalization as a citizen of the Philippines. In Parado v.
Republic,[15] it was held:
[W]hen a person applying for citizenship by naturalization takes
an oath that he renounces his loyalty to any other country or
government and solemnly declares that he owes his allegiance to
the Republic of the Philippines, the condition imposed by law is
satisfied and complied with. The determination whether such
renunciation is valid or fully complies with the provisions of our
Naturalization Law lies within the province and is an exclusive
prerogative of our courts. The latter should apply the law duly
enacted by the legislative department of the Republic. No foreign
law may or should interfere with its operation and application. If
the requirement of the Chinese Law of Nationality were to be
read into our Naturalization Law, we would be applying not what
our legislative department has deemed it wise to require, but
what a foreign government has thought or intended to
exact. That, of course, is absurd. It must be resisted by all means
and at all cost. It would be a brazen encroachment upon the
sovereign will and power of the people of this Republic.

III. PETITIONER'S ELECTION OF PHILIPPINE CITIZENSHIP

The record shows that private respondent was born in San


Francisco, California on September 4, 1955, of Filipino
parents. Since the Philippines adheres to the principle of jus
sanguinis, while the United States follows the doctrine of jus soli,
the parties agree that, at birth at least, he was a national both of
the Philippines and of the United States. However, the COMELEC
360
en banc held that, by participating in Philippine elections in 1992,
1995, and 1998, private respondent effectively renounced his U.S.
citizenship under American law, so that now he is solely a
Philippine national.
Petitioner challenges this ruling. He argues that merely taking
part in Philippine elections is not sufficient evidence of
renunciation and that, in any event, as the alleged renunciation
was made when private respondent was already 37 years old, it
was ineffective as it should have been made when he reached the
age of majority.
In holding that by voting in Philippine elections private
respondent renounced his American citizenship, the COMELEC
must have in mind 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of
the United States, which provided that A person who is a national
of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose
his nationality by: . . . (e) Voting in a political election in a foreign
state or participating in an election or plebiscite to determine the
sovereignty over foreign territory. To be sure this provision was
declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Afroyim v.
Rusk[16] as beyond the power given to the U.S. Congress to
regulate foreign relations. However, by filing a certificate of
candidacy when he ran for his present post, private respondent
elected Philippine citizenship and in effect renounced his
American citizenship. Private respondents certificate of candidacy,
filed on March 27, 1998, contained the following statements
made under oath:
6. I AM A FILIPINO CITIZEN (STATE IF NATURAL-BORN OR
NATURALIZED) NATURAL-BORN
....
10. I AM A REGISTERED VOTER OF PRECINCT NO. 747-A,
BARANGAY SAN LORENZO, CITY/MUNICIPALITY
OF MAKATI, PROVINCE OF NCR .

361
11. I AM NOT A PERMANENT RESIDENT OF, OR IMMIGRANT
TO, A FOREIGN COUNTRY.
12. I AM ELIGIBLE FOR THE OFFICE I SEEK TO BE ELECTED. I
WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE
PHILIPPINES AND WILL MAINTAIN TRUE FAITH AND
ALLEGIANCE THERETO; THAT I WILL OBEY THE LAWS,
LEGAL ORDERS AND DECREES PROMULGATED BY THE
DULY CONSTITUTED AUTHORITIES OF THE REPUBLIC OF
THE PHILIPPINES; AND THAT I IMPOSE THIS OBLIGATION
UPON MYSELF VOLUNTARILY, WITHOUT MENTAL
RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION. I HEREBY CERTIFY
THAT THE FACTS STATED HEREIN ARE TRUE AND CORRECT
OF MY OWN PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE.
The filing of such certificate of candidacy sufficed to renounce
his American citizenship, effectively removing any disqualification
he might have as a dual citizen. Thus, in Frivaldo v. COMELEC it
was held:[17]
It is not disputed that on January 20, 1983 Frivaldo became an
American. Would the retroactivity of his repatriation not
effectively give him dual citizenship, which under Sec. 40 of the
Local Government Code would disqualify him from running for
any elective local position? We answer this question in the
negative, as there is cogent reason to hold that Frivaldo was really
STATELESS at the time he took said oath of allegiance and even
before that, when he ran for governor in 1988. In his Comment,
Frivaldo wrote that he had long renounced and had long
abandoned his American citizenship long before May 8, 1995. At
best, Frivaldo was stateless in the interim when he abandoned
and renounced his US citizenship but before he was repatriated to
his Filipino citizenship.
On this point, we quote from the assailed Resolution dated
December 19, 1995:

362
By the laws of the United States, petitioner Frivaldo lost his
American citizenship when he took his oath of allegiance to the
Philippine Government when he ran for Governor in 1988, in
1992, and in 1995.Every certificate of candidacy contains an oath
of allegiance to the Philippine Government.
These factual findings that Frivaldo has lost his foreign nationality
long before the elections of 1995 have not been effectively
rebutted by Lee. Furthermore, it is basic that such findings of the
Commission are conclusive upon this Court, absent any showing
of capriciousness or arbitrariness or abuse.
There is, therefore, no merit in petitioners contention that the
oath of allegiance contained in private respondents certificate of
candidacy is insufficient to constitute renunciation of his
American citizenship. Equally without merit is petitioners
contention that, to be effective, such renunciation should have
been made upon private respondent reaching the age of majority
since no law requires the election of Philippine citizenship to be
made upon majority age.
Finally, much is made of the fact that private respondent
admitted that he is registered as an American citizen in the
Bureau of Immigration and Deportation and that he holds an
American passport which he used in his last travel to the United
States on April 22, 1997. There is no merit in this. Until the filing
of his certificate of candidacy on March 21, 1998, he had dual
citizenship. The acts attributed to him can be considered simply as
the assertion of his American nationality before the termination
of his American citizenship. What this Court said in Aznar v.
COMELEC[18] applies mutatis mutandis to private respondent in
the case at bar:
. . . Considering the fact that admittedly Osmea was both a
Filipino and an American, the mere fact that he has a Certificate
stating he is an American does not mean that he is not still a
Filipino. . . . [T]he Certification that he is an American does not
363
mean that he is not still a Filipino, possessed as he is, of both
nationalities or citizenships. Indeed, there is no express
renunciation here of Philippine citizenship; truth to tell, there is
even no implied renunciation of said citizenship. When We
consider that the renunciation needed to lose Philippine
citizenship must be express, it stands to reason that there can be
no such loss of Philippine citizenship when there is no
renunciation, either express or implied.
To recapitulate, by declaring in his certificate of candidacy that
he is a Filipino citizen; that he is not a permanent resident or
immigrant of another country; that he will defend and support the
Constitution of the Philippines and bear true faith and allegiance
thereto and that he does so without mental reservation, private
respondent has, as far as the laws of this country are concerned,
effectively repudiated his American citizenship and anything
which he may have said before as a dual citizen.
On the other hand, private respondents oath of allegiance to
the Philippines, when considered with the fact that he has spent
his youth and adulthood, received his education, practiced his
profession as an artist, and taken part in past elections in this
country, leaves no doubt of his election of Philippine citizenship.
His declarations will be taken upon the faith that he will fulfill
his undertaking made under oath. Should he betray that trust,
there are enough sanctions for declaring the loss of his Philippine
citizenship through expatriation in appropriate proceedings. In Yu
v. Defensor-Santiago,[19] we sustained the denial of entry into the
country of petitioner on the ground that, after taking his oath as a
naturalized citizen, he applied for the renewal of his Portuguese
passport and declared in commercial documents executed abroad
that he was a Portuguese national. A similar sanction can be taken
against any one who, in electing Philippine citizenship, renounces
his foreign nationality, but subsequently does some act
constituting renunciation of his Philippine citizenship.

364
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of
merit.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan,
Quisumbing, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and Ynares-Santiago,
JJ., concur.
Panganiban, and Purisima, JJ., on leave.
Pardo, J., no part.

365
JACOT VS DAL AND COMMISIONER
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 179848 November 27, 2008
NESTOR A. JACOT, petitioner,
vs.
ROGEN T. DAL and COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondents.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Petitioner Nestor A. Jacot assails the Resolution1 dated 28
September 2007 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) En
Banc in SPA No. 07-361, affirming the Resolution dated 12 June
2007 of the COMELEC Second Division2 disqualifying him from
running for the position of Vice-Mayor of Catarman, Camiguin, in
the 14 May 2007 National and Local Elections, on the ground that
he failed to make a personal renouncement of his United States
(US) citizenship.
Petitioner was a natural born citizen of the Philippines, who
became a naturalized citizen of the US on 13 December 1989. 3
Petitioner sought to reacquire his Philippine citizenship under
Republic Act No. 9225, otherwise known as the Citizenship
Retention and Re-Acquisition Act. He filed a request for the
administration of his Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines with the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) of Los
Angeles, California. The Los Angeles PCG issued on 19 June 2006
an Order of Approval4 of petitioners request, and on the same
day, petitioner took his Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines before Vice Consul Edward C. Yulo. 5 On 27 September
366
2006, the Bureau of Immigration issued Identification Certificate
No. 06-12019 recognizing petitioner as a citizen of the
Philippines.6
Six months after, on 26 March 2007, petitioner filed his Certificate
of Candidacy for the Position of Vice-Mayor of the Municipality of
Catarman, Camiguin. 7
On 2 May 2007, respondent Rogen T. Dal filed a Petition for
Disqualification8 before the COMELEC Provincial Office in
Camiguin against petitioner, arguing that the latter failed to
renounce his US citizenship, as required under Section 5(2) of
Republic Act No. 9225, which reads as follows:
Section 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities.Those who
retain or reacquire 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.
In his Answer9 dated 6 May 2007 and Position Paper10 dated 8
May 2007, petitioner countered that his Oath of Allegiance to the
Republic of the Philippines made before the Los Angeles PCG and
the oath contained in his Certificate of Candidacy operated as an
effective renunciation of his foreign citizenship.

367
In the meantime, the 14 May 2007 National and Local Elections
were held. Petitioner garnered the highest number of votes for
the position of Vice Mayor.
On 12 June 2007, the COMELEC Second Division finally issued its
Resolution11 disqualifying the petitioner from running for the
position of Vice-Mayor of Catarman, Camiguin, for failure to make
the requisite renunciation of his US citizenship. The COMELEC
Second Division explained that the reacquisition of Philippine
citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 does not automatically
bestow upon any person the privilege to run for any elective
public office. It additionally ruled that the filing of a Certificate of
Candidacy cannot be considered as a renunciation of foreign
citizenship. The COMELEC Second Division did not consider Valles
v. COMELEC12 and Mercado v. Manzano13applicable to the instant
case, since Valles and Mercado were dual citizens since birth,
unlike the petitioner who lost his Filipino citizenship by means of
naturalization. The COMELEC, thus, decreed in the
aforementioned Resolution that:
ACCORDINGLY, NESTOR ARES JACOT is DISQUALIFIED to run
for the position of Vice-Mayor of Catarman, Camiguin for the
May 14, 2007 National and Local Elections. If proclaimed,
respondent cannot thus assume the Office of Vice-Mayor of
said municipality by virtue of such disqualification.14
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration on 29 June 2007
reiterating his position that his Oath of Allegiance to the Republic
of the Philippines before the Los Angeles PCG and his oath in his
Certificate of Candidacy sufficed as an effective renunciation of
his US citizenship. Attached to the said Motion was an "Oath of
Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States and Renunciation
of Any and All Foreign Citizenship" dated 27 June 2007, wherein
petitioner explicitly renounced his US citizenship.15 The
COMELEC en banc dismissed petitioners Motion in a
Resolution16 dated 28 September 2007 for lack of merit.
368
Petitioner sought remedy from this Court via the present Special
Civil Action for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of
Court, where he presented for the first time an "Affidavit of
Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States and Any and All
Foreign Citizenship"17 dated 7 February 2007. He avers that he
executed an act of renunciation of his US citizenship, separate
from the Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines he
took before the Los Angeles PCG and his filing of his Certificate of
Candidacy, thereby changing his theory of the case during the
appeal. He attributes the delay in the presentation of the affidavit
to his former counsel, Atty. Marciano Aparte, who allegedly
advised him that said piece of evidence was unnecessary but who,
nevertheless, made him execute an identical document entitled
"Oath of Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States and
Renunciation of Any and All Foreign Citizenship" on 27 June 2007
after he had already filed his Certificate of Candidacy.18
Petitioner raises the following issues for resolution of this Court:
I
WHETHER OR NOT PUBLIC RESPONDENT EXERCISED GRAVE
ABUSE OF DISCRETION WHEN IT HELD THAT PETITIONER
FAILED TO COMPLY WITH THE PROVISIONS OF R.A. 9225,
OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE "CITIZENSHIP RETENTION AND
RE-ACQUISITION ACT OF 2003," SPECIFICALLY SECTION 5(2)
AS TO THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THOSE SEEKING ELECTIVE
PUBLIC OFFICE;
II
WHETHER OR NOT PUBLIC RESPONDENT EXERCISED GRAVE
ABUSE OF DISCRETION WHEN IT HELD THAT PETITIONER
FAILED TO COMPLY WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE COMELEC
RULES OF PROCEDURE AS REGARDS THE PAYMENT OF THE
NECESSARY MOTION FEES; AND

369
III
WHETHER OR NOT UPHOLDING THE DECISION OF PUBLIC
RESPONDENT WOULD RESULT IN THE FRUSTRATION OF THE
WILL OF THE PEOPLE OF CATARMAN, CAMIGUIN.19
The Court determines that the only fundamental issue in this case
is whether petitioner is disqualified from running as a candidate in
the 14 May 2007 local elections for his failure to make a personal
and sworn renunciation of his US citizenship.
This Court finds that petitioner should indeed be disqualified.
Contrary to the assertions made by petitioner, his oath of
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines made before the Los
Angeles PCG and his Certificate of Candidacy do not substantially
comply with the requirement of a personal and sworn
renunciation of foreign citizenship because these are distinct
requirements to be complied with for different purposes.
Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225 requires that natural-born
citizens of the Philippines, who are already naturalized citizens of
a foreign country, must take the following oath of allegiance to
the Republic of the Philippines to reacquire or retain their
Philippine citizenship:
SEC. 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship.Any provision of
law to the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of
the Philippines who have lost their Philippine citizenship by
reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country
are hereby deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship
upon taking the following oath of allegiance to the Republic:
"I __________ solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support
and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines
and obey the laws and legal orders promulgated by the duly
constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby
declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of
370
the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance
thereto; and that I impose this obligation upon myself
voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of
evasion."
Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the
effectivity of this Act, become citizens of a foreign country
shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the
aforesaid oath.
By the oath dictated in the afore-quoted provision, the Filipino
swears allegiance to the Philippines, but there is nothing therein
on his renunciation of foreign citizenship. Precisely, a situation
might arise under Republic Act No. 9225 wherein said Filipino has
dual citizenship by also reacquiring or retaining his Philippine
citizenship, despite his foreign citizenship.
The afore-quoted oath of allegiance is substantially similar to the
one contained in the Certificate of Candidacy which must be
executed by any person who wishes to run for public office in
Philippine elections. Such an oath reads:
I am eligible for the office I seek to be elected. I will support
and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will
maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; that I will obey the
laws, legal orders and decrees promulgated by the duly
constituted authorities of the Republic of the Philippines; and
that I impose this obligation upon myself voluntarily, without
mental reservation or purpose of evasion. I hereby certify
that the facts stated herein are true and correct of my own
personal knowledge.
Now, Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 specifically provides
that:
Section 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities.Those who
retain or reacquire Philippine citizenship under this Act shall

371
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.
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.20
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
372
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 its
very good, ha? No problem?
REP. JAVIER. I think its already covered by the oath.
CHAIRMAN DRILON. Renouncing foreign citizenship.
REP. JAVIER. Ah but he has taken his oath already.
CHAIRMAN DRILON. Nono, renouncing foreign citizenship.
xxxx
CHAIRMAN DRILON. Can I go back to No. 2. Whats 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.
373
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.
Petitioner erroneously invokes the doctrine
in Valles21 and Mercado,22 wherein the filing by a person with dual
citizenship of a certificate of candidacy, containing an oath of
allegiance, was already considered a renunciation of foreign
citizenship. The ruling of this Court in Valles and Mercado is not
applicable to the present case, which is now specially governed by
Republic Act No. 9225, promulgated on 29 August 2003.
In Mercado, which was cited in Valles, the disqualification of
therein private respondent Manzano was sought under another
law, Section 40(d) of the Local Government Code, which reads:
374
SECTION 40. Disqualifications. The following persons are
disqualified from running for any elective local position:
xxxx
(d) Those with dual citizenship.
The Court in the aforesaid cases sought to define the term "dual
citizenship" vis--vis the concept of "dual allegiance." At the time
this Court decided the cases of Valles and Mercado on 26 May
1999 and 9 August 2000, respectively, the more explicitly worded
requirements of Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 were not
yet enacted by our legislature.23
Lopez v. Commission on Elections24 is the more fitting precedent
for this case since they both share the same factual milieu. In
Lopez, therein petitioner Lopez was a natural-born Filipino who
lost his Philippine citizenship after he became a naturalized US
citizen. He later reacquired his Philippine citizenship by virtue of
Republic Act No. 9225. Thereafter, Lopez filed his candidacy for a
local elective position, but failed to make a personal and sworn
renunciation of his foreign citizenship. This Court unequivocally
declared that despite having garnered the highest number of
votes in the election, Lopez is nonetheless disqualified as a
candidate for a local elective position due to his failure to comply
with the requirements of Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225.
Petitioner presents before this Court for the first time, in the
instant Petition for Certiorari, an "Affidavit of Renunciation of
Allegiance to the United States and Any and All Foreign
Citizenship,"25 which he supposedly executed on 7 February 2007,
even before he filed his Certificate of Candidacy on 26 March
2007. With the said Affidavit, petitioner puts forward in the
Petition at bar a new theory of his casethat he complied with the
requirement of making a personal and sworn renunciation of his
foreign citizenship before filing his Certificate of Candidacy. This
new theory constitutes a radical change from the earlier position
375
he took before the COMELECthat he complied with the
requirement of renunciation by his oaths of allegiance to the
Republic of the Philippines made before the Los Angeles PCG and
in his Certificate of Candidacy, and that there was no more need
for a separate act of renunciation.
As a rule, no question will be entertained on appeal unless it has
been raised in the proceedings below. Points of law, theories,
issues and arguments not brought to the attention of the lower
court, administrative agency or quasi-judicial body need not be
considered by a reviewing court, as they cannot be raised for the
first time at that late stage. Basic considerations of fairness and
due process impel this rule.26 Courts have neither the time nor the
resources to accommodate parties who chose to go to trial
haphazardly.27
Likewise, this Court does not countenance the late submission of
evidence.28 Petitioner should have offered the Affidavit dated 7
February 2007 during the proceedings before the COMELEC.
Section 1 of Rule 43 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides
that "In the absence of any applicable provisions of these Rules,
the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court in the Philippines
shall be applicable by analogy or in suppletory character and
effect." Section 34 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court
categorically enjoins the admission of evidence not formally
presented:
SEC. 34. Offer of evidence. - The court shall consider no
evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose
for which the evidence is offered must be specified.
Since the said Affidavit was not formally offered before the
COMELEC, respondent had no opportunity to examine and
controvert it. To admit this document would be contrary to due
process. 29Additionally, the piecemeal presentation of evidence is
not in accord with orderly justice.30
376
The Court further notes that petitioner had already presented
before the COMELEC an identical document, "Oath of
Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States and Renunciation
of Any and All Foreign Citizenship" executed on 27 June 2007,
subsequent to his filing of his Certificate of Candidacy on 26
March 2007. Petitioner attached the said Oath of 27 June 2007 to
his Motion for Reconsideration with the COMELEC en banc. The
COMELEC en banc eventually refused to reconsider said
document for being belatedly executed. What was extremely
perplexing, not to mention suspect, was that petitioner did not
submit the Affidavit of 7 February 2007 or mention it at all in the
proceedings before the COMELEC, considering that it could have
easily won his case if it was actually executed on and in existence
before the filing of his Certificate of Candidacy, in compliance with
law.
The justification offered by petitioner, that his counsel had
advised him against presenting this crucial piece of evidence, is
lame and unconvincing. If the Affidavit of 7 February 2007 was in
existence all along, petitioners counsel, and even petitioner
himself, could have easily adduced it to be a crucial piece of
evidence to prove compliance with the requirements of Section
5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225. There was no apparent danger for
petitioner to submit as much evidence as possible in support of
his case, than the risk of presenting too little for which he could
lose.
And even if it were true, petitioners excuse for the late
presentation of the Affidavit of 7 February 2007 will not change
the outcome of petitioners case.
It is a well-settled rule that a client is bound by his counsels
conduct, negligence, and mistakes in handling the case, and the
client cannot be heard to complain that the result might have
been different had his lawyer proceeded differently.31 The only
exceptions to the general rule -- that a client is bound by the
377
mistakes of his counsel -- which this Court finds acceptable are
when the reckless or gross negligence of counsel deprives the
client of due process of law, or when the application of the rule
results in the outright deprivation of ones property through a
technicality.32 These exceptions are not attendant in this case.
The Court cannot sustain petitioners averment that his counsel
was grossly negligent in deciding against the presentation of the
Affidavit of 7 February 2007 during the proceedings before the
COMELEC. Mistakes of attorneys as to the competency of a
witness; the sufficiency, relevancy or irrelevancy of certain
evidence; the proper defense or the burden of proof, failure to
introduce evidence, to summon witnesses and to argue the case --
unless they prejudice the client and prevent him from properly
presenting his case -- do not constitute gross incompetence or
negligence, such that clients may no longer be bound by the acts
of their counsel.33
Also belying petitioners claim that his former counsel was grossly
negligent was the fact that petitioner continuously used his
former counsels theory of the case. Even when the COMELEC
already rendered an adverse decision, he persistently argues even
to this Court that his oaths of allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines before the Los Angeles PCG and in his Certificate of
Candidacy amount to the renunciation of foreign citizenship
which the law requires. Having asserted the same defense in the
instant Petition, petitioner only demonstrates his continued
reliance on and complete belief in the position taken by his
former counsel, despite the formers incongruous allegations that
the latter has been grossly negligent.
Petitioner himself is also guilty of negligence. If indeed he
believed that his counsel was inept, petitioner should have
promptly taken action, such as discharging his counsel earlier
and/or insisting on the submission of his Affidavit of 7 February
2007 to the COMELEC, instead of waiting until a decision was
378
rendered disqualifying him and a resolution issued dismissing his
motion for reconsideration; and, thereupon, he could have
heaped the blame on his former counsel. Petitioner could not be
so easily allowed to escape the consequences of his former
counsels acts, because, otherwise, it would render court
proceedings indefinite, tentative, and subject to reopening at any
time by the mere subterfuge of replacing counsel. 34
Petitioner cites De Guzman v. Sandiganbayan,35 where therein
petitioner De Guzman was unable to present a piece of evidence
because his lawyer proceeded to file a demurrer to evidence,
despite the Sandiganbayans denial of his prior leave to do so. The
wrongful insistence of the lawyer in filing a demurrer to evidence
had totally deprived De Guzman of any chance to present
documentary evidence in his defense. This was certainly not the
case in the Petition at bar.
Herein, petitioner was in no way deprived of due process. His
counsel actively defended his suit by attending the hearings, filing
the pleadings, and presenting evidence on petitioners behalf.
Moreover, petitioners cause was not defeated by a mere
technicality, but because of a mistaken reliance on a doctrine
which is not applicable to his case. A case lost due to an untenable
legal position does not justify a deviation from the rule that
clients are bound by the acts and mistakes of their counsel.36
Petitioner also makes much of the fact that he received the
highest number of votes for the position of Vice-Mayor of
Catarman during the 2007 local elections. The fact that a
candidate, who must comply with the election requirements
applicable to dual citizens and failed to do so, received the highest
number of votes for an elective position does not dispense with,
or amount to a waiver of, such requirement.37 The will of the
people as expressed through the ballot cannot cure the vice of
ineligibility, especially if they mistakenly believed that the
candidate was qualified. The rules on citizenship qualifications of
379
a candidate must be strictly applied. If a person seeks to serve the
Republic of the Philippines, he must owe his loyalty to this country
only, abjuring and renouncing all fealty and fidelity to any other
state.38 The application of the constitutional and statutory
provisions on disqualification is not a matter of popularity.39
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The Resolution
dated 28 September 2007 of the COMELEC en banc in SPA No. 07-
361, affirming the Resolution dated 12 June 2007 of the COMELEC
Second Division, is AFFIRMED. Petitioner is DISQUALIFIED to run
for the position of Vice-Mayor of Catarman, Camiguin in the 14
May 2007 National and Local Elections, and if proclaimed, cannot
assume the Office of Vice-Mayor of said municipality by virtue of
such disqualification. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
LEONARDO A. CONSUELO YNARES-
QUISUMBING SANTIAGO
Associate Justice Associate Justice
ANTONIO T. CARPIO MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-
Associate Justice MARTINEZ
Associate Justice
RENATO C. CORONA CONCHITA CARPIO
Associate Justice MORALES

380
Associate Justice
ADOLFO S. AZCUNA DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice Associate Justice
PRESBITERO J. ANTONIO EDUARDO B.
VELASCO, JR. NACHURA
Associate Justice Associate Justice
RUBEN T. REYES *TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE
Associate Justice CASTRO
Associate Justice
*ARTURO
D. BRION
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

381
AASJS MEMBER CALILANG VS DATUMANONG
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 160869 May 11, 2007
AASJS (ADVOCATES AND ADHERENTS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE FOR
SCHOOL TEACHERS AND ALLIED WORKERS) MEMBER - HECTOR
GUMANGAN CALILUNG, Petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE SIMEON DATUMANONG, in his official capacity
as the Secretary of Justice,Respondent.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This is an original action for prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997
Revised Rules of Civil Procedure.
Petitioner filed the instant petition against respondent, then
Secretary of Justice Simeon Datumanong, the official tasked to
implement laws governing citizenship.1 Petitioner prays that a
writ of prohibition be issued to stop respondent from
implementing Republic Act No. 9225, entitled "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." Petitioner avers that Rep.
Act No. 9225 is unconstitutional as it violates Section 5, Article IV
of the 1987 Constitution that states, "Dual allegiance of citizens is
inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law."
Rep. Act No. 9225, signed into law by President Gloria M. Arroyo
on August 29, 2003, reads:

382
SECTION 1. Short Title.-This Act shall be known as the "Citizenship
Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003."
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy.-It is hereby declared the policy of the
State that all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another
country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine
citizenship under the conditions of this Act.
SEC. 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship.-Any provision of law to
the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the
Philippines who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of
their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby
deemed to have reacquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the
following oath of allegiance to the Republic:
"I ___________________________, solemnly swear (or affirm)
that I will support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of
the Philippines and obey the laws and legal orders promulgated
by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby
declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the
Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto;
and that I impose this obligation upon myself voluntarily without
mental reservation or purpose of evasion."
Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity
of this Act, become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their
Philippine citizenship upon taking the aforesaid oath.
SEC. 4. Derivative Citizenship. - The unmarried child, whether
legitimate, illegitimate or adopted, below eighteen (18) years of
age, of those who reacquire Philippine citizenship upon effectivity
of this Act shall be deemed citizens of the Philippines.
SEC. 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities. - Those who retain
or reacquire Philippine citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full
civil and political rights and be subject to all attendant liabilities

383
and responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the
following conditions:
(1) Those intending to exercise their right of suffrage must
meet the requirements under Section 1, Article V of the
Constitution, Republic Act No. 9189, otherwise known as
"The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003" and other
existing laws;
(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;
(3) Those appointed to any public office shall subscribe and
swear to an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines and its duly constituted authorities prior to their
assumption of office: Provided, That they renounce their oath
of allegiance to the country where they took that oath;
(4) Those intending to practice their profession in the
Philippines shall apply with the proper authority for a license
or permit to engage in such practice; and
(5) That right to vote or be elected or appointed to any public
office in the Philippines cannot be exercised by, or extended
to, those who:
(a) are candidates for or are occupying any public office in the
country of which they are naturalized citizens; and/or
(b) are in the active service as commissioned or
noncommissioned officers in the armed forces of the country
which they are naturalized citizens.

384
SEC. 6. Separability Clause. - If any section or provision of this Act
is held unconstitutional or invalid, any other section or provision
not affected thereby shall remain valid and effective.
SEC. 7. Repealing Clause. - All laws, decrees, orders, rules and
regulations inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby
repealed or modified accordingly.
SEC. 8. Effectivity Clause. - This Act shall take effect after fifteen
(15) days following its publication in the Official Gazette or two (2)
newspapers of general circulation.
In this petition for prohibition, the following issues have been
raised: (1) Is Rep. Act No. 9225 unconstitutional? (2) Does this
Court have jurisdiction to pass upon the issue of dual allegiance?
We shall discuss these issues jointly.
Petitioner contends that Rep. Act No. 9225 cheapens Philippine
citizenship. He avers that Sections 2 and 3 of Rep. Act No. 9225,
together, allow dual allegiance and not dual citizenship. Petitioner
maintains that Section 2 allows all Filipinos, either natural-born or
naturalized, who become foreign citizens, to retain their
Philippine citizenship without losing their foreign citizenship.
Section 3 permits dual allegiance because said law allows natural-
born citizens of the Philippines to regain their Philippine
citizenship by simply taking an oath of allegiance without
forfeiting their foreign allegiance.2 The Constitution, however, is
categorical that dual allegiance is inimical to the national interest.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) claims that Section 2
merely declares as a state policy that "Philippine citizens who
become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have
lost their Philippine citizenship." The OSG further claims that the
oath in Section 3 does not allow dual allegiance since the oath
taken by the former Filipino citizen is an effective renunciation
and repudiation of his foreign citizenship. The fact that the

385
applicant taking the oath recognizes and accepts the supreme
authority of the Philippines is an unmistakable and categorical
affirmation of his undivided loyalty to the Republic.3
In resolving the aforecited issues in this case, resort to the
deliberations of Congress is necessary to determine the intent of
the legislative branch in drafting the assailed law. During the
deliberations, the issue of whether Rep. Act No. 9225 would allow
dual allegiance had in fact been the subject of debate. The record
of the legislative deliberations reveals the following:
xxxx
Pursuing his point, Rep. Dilangalen noted that under the measure,
two situations exist - - the retention of foreign citizenship, and the
reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. In this case, he observed
that there are two citizenships and therefore, two allegiances. He
pointed out that under the Constitution, dual allegiance is inimical
to public interest. He thereafter asked whether with the creation
of dual allegiance by reason of retention of foreign citizenship and
the reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, there will now be a
violation of the Constitution
Rep. Locsin underscored that the measure does not seek to
address the constitutional injunction on dual allegiance as inimical
to public interest. He said that the proposed law aims to facilitate
the reacquisition of Philippine citizenship by speedy means.
However, he said that in one sense, it addresses the problem of
dual citizenship by requiring the taking of an oath. He explained
that the problem of dual citizenship is transferred from the
Philippines to the foreign country because the latest oath that will
be taken by the former Filipino is one of allegiance to the
Philippines and not to the United States, as the case may be. He
added that this is a matter which the Philippine government will
have no concern and competence over.

386
Rep. Dilangalen asked why this will no longer be the country's
concern, when dual allegiance is involved.
Rep. Locsin clarified that this was precisely his objection to the
original version of the bill, which did not require an oath of
allegiance. Since the measure now requires this oath, the problem
of dual allegiance is transferred from the Philippines to the
foreign country concerned, he explained.
xxxx
Rep. Dilangalen asked whether in the particular case, the person
did not denounce his foreign citizenship and therefore still owes
allegiance to the foreign government, and at the same time, owes
his allegiance to the Philippine government, such that there is
now a case of dual citizenship and dual allegiance.
Rep. Locsin clarified that by swearing to the supreme authority of
the Republic, the person implicitly renounces his foreign
citizenship. However, he said that this is not a matter that he
wishes to address in Congress because he is not a member of a
foreign parliament but a Member of the House.
xxxx
Rep. Locsin replied that it is imperative that those who have dual
allegiance contrary to national interest should be dealt with by
law. However, he said that the dual allegiance problem is not
addressed in the bill. He then cited the Declaration of Policy in the
bill which states that "It is hereby declared the policy of the State
that all citizens who become citizens of another country shall be
deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the
conditions of this Act." He stressed that what the bill does is
recognize Philippine citizenship but says nothing about the other
citizenship.
Rep. Locsin further pointed out that the problem of dual
allegiance is created wherein a natural-born citizen of the
387
Philippines takes an oath of allegiance to another country and in
that oath says that he abjures and absolutely renounces all
allegiance to his country of origin and swears allegiance to that
foreign country. The original Bill had left it at this stage, he
explained. In the present measure, he clarified, a person is
required to take an oath and the last he utters is one of allegiance
to the country. He then said that the problem of dual allegiance is
no longer the problem of the Philippines but of the other foreign
country.4 (Emphasis supplied.)
From the above excerpts of the legislative record, it is clear that
the intent of the legislature in drafting Rep. Act No. 9225 is to do
away with the provision in Commonwealth Act No. 635 which
takes away Philippine citizenship from natural-born Filipinos who
become naturalized citizens of other countries. What Rep. Act No.
9225 does is allow dual citizenship to natural-born Filipino citizens
who have lost Philippine citizenship by reason of their
naturalization as citizens of a foreign country. On its face, it does
not recognize dual allegiance. By swearing to the supreme
authority of the Republic, the person implicitly renounces his
foreign citizenship. Plainly, from Section 3, Rep. Act No. 9225
stayed clear out of the problem of dual allegiance and shifted the
burden of confronting the issue of whether or not there is dual
allegiance to the concerned foreign country. What happens to the
other citizenship was not made a concern of Rep. Act No. 9225.
Petitioner likewise advances the proposition that although
Congress has not yet passed any law on the matter of dual
allegiance, such absence of a law should not be justification why
this Court could not rule on the issue. He further contends that
while it is true that there is no enabling law yet on dual allegiance,
the Supreme Court, through Mercado v. Manzano,6 already had
drawn up the guidelines on how to distinguish dual allegiance
from dual citizenship.7

388
For its part, the OSG counters that pursuant to Section 5, Article
IV of the 1987 Constitution, dual allegiance shall be dealt with by
law. Thus, until a law on dual allegiance is enacted by Congress,
the Supreme Court is without any jurisdiction to entertain issues
regarding dual allegiance.8
To begin with, Section 5, Article IV of the Constitution is a
declaration of a policy and it is not a self-executing provision. The
legislature still has to enact the law on dual allegiance. In Sections
2 and 3 of Rep. Act No. 9225, the framers were not concerned
with dual citizenship per se, but with the status of naturalized
citizens who maintain their allegiance to their countries of origin
even after their naturalization.9 Congress was given a mandate to
draft a law that would set specific parameters of what really
constitutes dual allegiance.10 Until this is done, it would be
premature for the judicial department, including this Court, to
rule on issues pertaining to dual allegiance.
Neither can we subscribe to the proposition of petitioner that a
law is not needed since the case of Mercado had already set the
guidelines for determining dual allegiance. Petitioner
misreads Mercado. That case did not set the parameters of what
constitutes dual allegiance but merely made a distinction
between dual allegiance and dual citizenship.
Moreover, in Estrada v. Sandiganbayan,11 we said that the courts
must assume that the legislature is ever conscious of the borders
and edges of its plenary powers, and passed laws with full
knowledge of the facts and for the purpose of promoting what is
right and advancing the welfare of the majority. Hence, in
determining whether the acts of the legislature are in tune with
the fundamental law, we must proceed with judicial restraint and
act with caution and forbearance.12 The doctrine of separation of
powers demands no less. We cannot arrogate the duty of setting
the parameters of what constitutes dual allegiance when the
Constitution itself has clearly delegated the duty of determining
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what acts constitute dual allegiance for study and legislation by
Congress.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

CONSUELO YNARES- ANGELINA SANDOVAL-


SANTIAGO GUTIERREZ
Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

(On leave)
MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
MARTINEZ
Associate Justice
Asscociate Justice

(On leave)
CONCHITA CARPIO
RENATO C. CORONA
MORALES
Associate Justice
Asscociate Justice

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA DANTE O. TINGA


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO CANCIO C. GARCIA


390
Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, ANTONIO EDUARDO B.


JR. NACHURA
Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify
that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

391