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IN RE: VICENTE CHING

BAR MATTER No. 914 October 1, 1999


FACTS:
Vicente D. Ching, the legitimate son of the spouses Tat Ching, a Chinese citizen, and Prescila
A. Dulay, a Filipino, was born in Francia West, Tubao, La Union on 11 April 1964. Since his
birth, Ching has resided in the Philippines. In 1998, Vicente Ching finished his law degree at the
Saint Louis University in Baguio City. He eventually passed the bar but he was advised that he
needs to show proof that he is a Filipino citizen before he be allowed to take his oath.

Apparently, Ching’s father was a Chinese citizen but his mother was a Filipino citizen. His
parents were married before he was born in 1963. Under the 1935 Constitution, a legitimate
child, whose one parent is a foreigner, acquires the foreign citizenship of the foreign parent.
Ching maintained that he has always considered himself as a Filipino; that he is a certified
public accountant – a profession reserved for Filipinos; that he even served as a councilor in a
municipality in La Union.

The Solicitor-General commented on the case by saying that as a legitimate child of a Chinese
and a Filipino, Ching should have elected Filipino citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.
Ching did elect Filipino citizenship, but he only did so when he was preparing for the bar in 1998
or 14 years after reaching the age of majority. In conclusion, the OSG points out that Ching has
not formally elected Philippine citizenship and, if ever he does, it would already be beyond the
"reasonable time" allowed by present jurisprudence. However, due to the peculiar
circumstances surrounding Ching's case, the OSG recommends the relaxation of the standing
rule on the construction of the phrase "reasonable period" and the allowance of Ching to elect
Philippine citizenship in accordance with C.A. No. 625 prior to taking his oath as a member of
the Philippine Bar.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Ching should be allowed to take the lawyer’s oath.

HELD:

No. In the present case, Ching was already thirty-five (35) years old when he complied with the
requirements of CA No. 625 or fourteen years after he had reached the age of majority. The age
of majority commenced upon reaching twenty-one (21) years. The Supreme Court noted that
the period is originally 3 years but it was extended to 7 years. (It seems it can’t be extended any
further). Ching’s special circumstances can’t be considered. It is not enough that he considered
all his life that he is a Filipino; that he is a professional and a public officer (was) serving this
country. The rules for citizenship are in place. Further, Ching didn’t give any explanation why he
belatedly chose to elect Filipino citizenship (but I guess it’s simply because he never thought
he’s Chinese not until he applied to take the bar). 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. Ching’s unreasonable and unexplained delay in making his
election cannot be simply glossed over.

DECISION:

The Court Resolves to DENY Vicente D. Ching's application for admission to the Philippine Bar.